Your Life: a Blessing or a Curse?
On one of my frequent visits to my hometown Beirut, I was having lunch with my dear friend and one of my favorite women on the planet, filmmaker Nadine Labaki.
I vented to her about how hard it was for me to be a stay-at-home mom of two in a compound in Saudi Arabia, deprived of my acting career, freedom, friends, not being surrounded by esthetic and creative inspiration, unable to express my true uninhibited self.
(Stay-at-home-mom sounds like a supreme court sentence, people. We need to find a new terminology. Instead, my friend Noora suggested I was Executive Director of the Alamuddin-Karam estate. Much more glamorous.)
Simply put, I had been a broken record of lamentation for 2 years. I needed to move to the Holy Land and build my own wall.
Then Nadine said something that struck me. She asked me to consider switching my perspective and to see Saudi as a writer’s residence: a quiet, isolated place where I could write my screenplays, TV show, articles and projects in development.
It hit me like a truck. Really? You mean I am not a victim who should indulge in self-flagellation? All my bipolar and suicidal mood swings actually have a higher, nobler purpose? That of self-actualization as a writer?
She was on to something. After all, in L.A, I was surrounded by inspiration, beauty and driven, goal-setting peers. I lived smack in the middle of trendy L.A, whilst being surrounded by the ocean, lush mountains and the Mojave desert whenever I needed to disconnect from it all.
Yet I was suffering from a severe Woody Allenesque writer’s block. I was paralyzed and terrified of throwing myself head-on in my projects. When I did write, I’d feel a rush of cathartic liberation and know I was in my element. But soon after I’d stuff my notebook in a dark damp place along with my self-esteem.
That’s because there was too much happening in L.A, both inside and outside of me. Too much beach, hiking, soy-latte sipping, too many awesome yoga classes, great contacts to make, beautiful bodies, stylish clothes, celebrities, auditions. Too many expectations, too much pressure. And not enough space to be alone, quiet and still.
So back to what Nadine said, I was in a writer’s residence. The compound in Saudi out of which I couldn’t drive by myself. Being stuck at home in the air-conditioning. Being away from my tribe. Being deprived access to beautiful people, art and clothes. Tying my hair in an oil-treated bun as I ran after my children all day in sloppy t-shirts. The lonely nights I spent as my man produced shows in the desert. All of it was the blessing of pulling away distractions and ornaments from my life so I could sift through the mirages that had formerly controlled me and finally see with clarity who I truly am, what is truly important and what I wanted life to be from then on.
And I’m so grateful I have, because it is specifically these challenges that have allowed me to have massive breakthroughs and start redesigning my life. And now I am in my rebirth phase. An extraordinarily exciting time. (More on that in a future post!)
So I re-framed my alienation into creativity.
What limitations in YOUR life can you re-frame from challenge to opportunity?
Leave a comment below. I’d love to know.
Welcome to my journey of transformation. I hope you’ll let me join you on yours.