Hallelujah

I have been thinking a lot about what I am most grateful for this year, and I’ve realized that it is the luxury of dreaming – the luxury to dream big and to go after those crazy dreams. Furthermore, the luxury of having a support system that nurtures those wild ambitions, tolerates my madness in going after them, and are all-in for the whirlwind adventure.

I’ve heard there was a secret chord

That David played and it pleased the Lord

But you don’t really care for music, do you?

Well it goes like this; the fourth, the fifth,

The minor fall, the major lift

The baffled king composing Hallelujah

2016 was a heavy year at the macro level, the planet aching under the weight of all the tragedies and disappointments. Yet at a more micro level, I can’t help but feel blessed. So I ask you all to take a moment of silence to pray for all those fallen stars we have lost in 2016.

Professionally 2016 has been extremely rewarding elhamdollelah. I am often driven by the philosophy that “if you are still talking about what you did yesterday, then you have not done much today.” Yet the drawback of that philosophy is that you often lose track of the multitude of reasons you ought to be proud and happy within that time-frame.

2016 was a year of big risks. I’m not much of a gambler, yet 2016 was certainly a high stakes year. I quit the comforts of a regular pay check and a job I know I could do well, to follow THE dream. I am now a very lucky co-founder of a start-up that I love with the same intensity and whole-heartedness that I would my unborn kids. Acumen Consulting is almost one. I dare say that this was a phenomenal first year. It was a year of challenges, learning, growth, patience, and hard work. We saw instant success, suffered the business cycle and fought hard to make come-backs when we needed to. I learned that there is possibly greater layers of multi-tasking than I thought imaginable. I’m greatly appreciative of the collaboration, team-work, value creation and success. I’m proud of us for working both hard and smart to contribute to changing Egypt for the better. I am indebted for all the help and support we got along the way.

Well baby I’ve been here before

I’ve seen this room and I’ve walked this floor

I used to live alone before I knew you

And I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch

And love is not a victory march

It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah

2016 was a year of great variance, its highs were sensational and its lows were back-breaking. 2016 was filled with health scares, trips to the emergency rooms, time spent in hospitals, clinics, labs and waiting rooms. There were so many funerals as friends and family bid farewell to siblings, kids, parents and friends.  There have also been so many near misses; so many tears; and so much faith and hope that things will get better. Our fears and our pains bring us together. Hugs remain the sincerest (and at times the only) form of support and solace during these darkest times.

2016 was also a year of love! Four weddings and a funeral. All grand acts of love! Four of the closest people in my life got married. I got to be a bridesmaid once, sister of the bride 3 times, best man once and wedding co-host once 🙂

Through it all they were days and nights full of the pursuit of perfection. More significantly they were wedding bashes full of music, dancing, joy, family, friends, surprises and vows. May their lives be everything like those wedding nights: endless symphonies of love.

I remain grateful to all parties who contributed to making my sister’s wedding perfect. I’m thankful to Sarah for managing the customized M&M delivery. I’m indebted to Sandra for re-arranging the first dance. I’m start-struck that the talented Nathalie Alain took time out of her hectic schedule to come in and record it. That studio recording time will forever be a highlight for me.

Mustafa Ghannam’s death has changed me. In a sense it has changed all of us. Yet it has triggered dormant emotions that had originated with Bassem Sabry’s death. (Please remember both in your prayers and your end of year donation themes). I’m once again in an existential phase. I’m obsessing about my mortality, my legacy and what I would like to leave behind. It took a lot of soul searching, yet I have realized that I want my legacy to be education. I want to bring knowledge and science into this world. I want to improve the quality of education in Egypt. I want to provide access to a better alternative to Egyptian talent.

Well, baby there’s a God above

But all I’ve ever learned from love

Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you

And it’s not a cry that you hear at night

It’s not somebody who’s seen the light

It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah

2016 was the first time in 6 years that I got a proper summer vacation. I’m grateful for the opportunity to see some more of Europe before the devaluation. I’m grateful for having such amazing travel buddies to share the moments with. I will always have a special spot in my heart for Tegernsee and Cesky Krumlov. I’m grateful for the ziplining adventure (and that despite emergency room pit-stop it ended well), shopping sprees, lakeside & riverside dinners, high profile oud concerts, Ibrahim Maalouf by the pyramids, and countless other perfect moments.

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I’m grateful to family and friends whom have been partners in crime, back-bones, sounding boards and voices of reason throughout the madness that was 2016. I’ve discovered new facets of these amazing individuals which I appreciate endlessly.

I tend to claim that my universe often treats me like my success is inevitable/easy/expected. While their faith is extremely flattering, given how tough this year has been, I’m realizing the extent to which divine pats on the heads & “bravo”s have re-energized my stamina through it all. I’m grateful for every opportunity we have had to raise Acumen Consulting’s name. I’m grateful to RiseUp’s overbooked workshop. I’m grateful to the ICT Khales application launch. I’m grateful to the YEEL events and conference. I’m grateful to the “thank you” that our clients share. I’m grateful for having gotten into Stanford. I am grateful. A thousand times over.

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Yet Again

At the end when you cut to the bone, we are all essentially the same; we are women of great expectations. I realized that sitting across the table from them, that despite the variation of our chosen paths we were quintessentially suffering from the same syndrome… insecurity…the plague of this century.
I never learn, I’m always surprised, as if it’s the first incident, as if I’m hearing it all for the first time. Women; amazing women; women of great intellect, looks, grace and social status; women from which you’d expect “I’m queen of the universe” attitude but whom never act on it. These seemingly spectacular beings all fail to see themselves in that light. Suffering from major esteem issues, seeking validation from the external world.
We are all almost the same age, typical quarter life crisis psychiatric test candidates. We shared the same fear, the same sadness so to speak, the same sense of failure and self disappointment. Plagued by unmet targets, un-achieved destinies, unrealized dreams and plans postponed or altered with an endless stream of plan Bs and contingencies as we strive to reach our goal.
I’m tempted beyond description to blame the goals, to blame our naïve childish aspirations, to claim that we had set our expectations too high, that we aimed for the sun neglecting the light-years that separate us. Yet I’d like to think that those far-fetched ambitious dreams were not out of reach, that we have it in us to rock the world, to reach the sun to have no limit. That it is not our dreams that were faulty but our rockets low on fuel, that we somehow lost steam or got lost along the way. ~ To Each Her Own

I am one for shameless self advertising. Yet I assure you that this is not one of these incidents. I’m just stunned at how rapidly and how intensely this theme is taking over my life. My entire 9 to 5 circle fits the above description to a T. I find myself baffled and speechless over and over again. So decided to put it in writing, in public, in the hope that it would boost my credibility. Perhaps my ineffective commentary and irrelevant perspective would take on weight when backed up by this blog’s kind and generous readership base. Or perhaps we come across as more sincere and more convincing when we scream things louder. Consider this my megaphone.

The top 10 reasons you are awesome (you know who you are mat-harageesh):

1) You are strong. I am in awe of your strength. I can not begin to imagine how you are able to carry the weight of all the drama and all the challenges and curve balls that life throws your way and still emerge smiling and victorious.

2) You are independent. You are not a spoiled brat waiting to have life handed to you. You are not clueless. You are on top of things. You can take charge and make magic happen.

3) You are stunning. Not workplace harassment, scout’s honour! Yet one would have to be blind or jealous to see you as otherwise. 

4) You are smart. Believe me, that is not a compliment I dish out often. We live in an era of mediocrity and stupidity. Your brain and how it processes is a sliver of positiveness in my otherwise bleak outlook on Egypt. 

5) You are helpful. You have a genuine interest in making people’s lives easier and making yourself useful. It is a blessing from God and a very non-selfish outlook to life.

6) You are dedicated. You would work through a storm and food poisoning and then some. I can’t believe the number of times I have had to beg you to go home.

7) You are spiritual. I love the simplicity and the genuineness with which you tackle the spiritual and religious aspects of life. It is non-superficial and fundamentally profound. 

8) You are talented. Uniquely so, in all things related to design and aesthetics with a special focus on fashion. You have an individual style to how you dress and how you envision or dress others.

9) You are ambitious. You know what you want and you fight for it and you seek to achieve it.

10) You care. You get touched by the simplest things. It is flooring to the person on the receiving end of the gratitude.

I could go on for considerably longer but I like round numbers (a).