livelovemomentBeautiful centerpiece at a beautiful wedding that I attended, adorable dressing room at Lilly Pulitzer, amazing birthday celebration brunch at Heron’s at The Umstead Hotel and Spa, and we finally have a TOPSHOP located in Nordstrom at The Streets of Southpoint  Mall.

Happy Wednesday! And if you are not happy, well then you might want to check out what I think about your unbalanced life.  I choose to be happy.



Do you ever feel you are not in control? That your day to day life, though intentional, feels chaotic?

Many people think to live a balanced life, you take all the main aspects of your life (family, finances, health, spirituality, friends/social life, and career) and that you should equally find time to devote to each aspect. The idea of finding equal time to all these areas seem so daunting, draining, and exhausting. I think finding balance is finding what you do enjoy and feel inspired to make each day better. And it is okay if your idea of better is good enough for you, but maybe not good enough in someone else’s standards. At the end of the day living a balanced life is about you.

Everyone’s idea of balance is different, even within one’s own family. And what we choose to focus on can either make us feel more balanced or tip the opposite way. And I am not here to judge. If you feel that you must balance your life equally, well go for it. I will choose what bring me balance…ultimately everything leads back to being at peace with who I am and being happy.

I am an optimistic person. I do not know if it is by nature, but I choose to be an optimist everyday. I choose to take a negative situation and make it positive. I am aware of the now, of the here, of the present. I do not obsess of the past or the future. Now I know that we must plan for the future (and that is what I am hoping to work on), but I also appreciate what is happening today. I also am well aware that the past teaches us about our mistakes. So please no lectures. :-)

Life balance is my inner peace and happiness.
Life balance is seeing my kids smile.
Life balance is being a supportive wife.
Life balance is finding time for my parents and the rest of my family and friends.
Life balance is finding time to improve my health.
Life balance is enjoying the everyday beauty that surrounds me.

A balanced life to me is a life of kindness, happiness, generosity and love. And sometimes it is okay to feel unbalanced, to stumble and fall…and find your way up again, if you choose to find your way up.

Enjoy any good books lately? Here are four books I recently read, and I would highly recommend:


The Orphan’s Masters Son (Adam Johnson): Adam Johnson writes a remarkable book about a country that we really do not know much about, North Korea.  The main character, Pak Jun Do, is not an orphan. But his names says he is, and therefore everyone he meets will make judgement that he is an orphan. He is forced to become a kidnapper, an intelligence officer, a prisoner, and eventually he will be tortured. Fear rules every decision that is made. The book was confusing to me at times. And it is a long read. But hang in there. Totally worth the effort to read this masterpiece.


One Thousand White Woman (Jim Fergus): This is the story of Mary Dodd. She is a pioneer woman, who under the U.S. government, goes to live with the Cheyenne Indians. They are told to intermarry with the Indians under a program known as “Brides for Indians” in which they are to get the Indians to assimilate into the white man’s world. Feels like a true story and definitely an adventure, I constantly had to remind myself that this is a fictional story. Captivating story, and one of my all time favorite reads! I don’t know anyone who did not like this book recommendation.


Valley of Amazement (Amy Tan): This book taught me so much about life as a courtesan in ancient China. A beautiful story about a mother and daughter relationship that is fascinating, yet tragic. You will laugh, and you might cry. Amy Tan is so talented in her words, and does not disappoint with this book. I could not put it down. I will caution you that the book does get explicit, after all it is about courtesans.

mebefore you

Me Before You (Jojo Moyes): Two people that have absolutely nothing in common, somehow are able to fall in love. Seems a bit too romantic, right? Louisa is a plain Jane girl taking care of master Will, a quadriplegic. When is life worth living, and when is love not enough? You can totally relate to the characters. It does make you think, and want to have “what if” conversations with your spouse and loved ones. Go ahead and have that kleenex nearby. I imagine this book will be a movie one day. Easy read.

Read any good books lately? Comment and let me know your recommendations!



Happy Wednesday! It has been a busy work week, but a lot of fun this week as well. It is all about balance, to find that live + love moment.  These are some of my latest discoveries and everyday beauty.

I spotted these sunny chevron glasses  at West Elm, and realized I must buy them pronto!

Maya and I did a quick road trip to Charlotte for an audition, and on the way I needed to get coffee. Looking for Starbucks we discovered this monstrous chest of drawers (yep, the world’s largest furniture store).

Lola wants to play,and how can I resist when it is a beautiful day and finally signs of spring in Raleigh.

Have you ever wondered what life is like with an Ironman? And, I am not talking about Robert Downey, Jr.  I would not be complaining about that Ironman.  No, I am talking about the the Ironman athlete. The one who trains every week as if it is a part-time job.

I am living with one…again. My husband is an Ironman. Thirteen hours and thirty-one minutes and twenty-eight seconds. He heard the announcer say…Bilal, you are an Ironman.  Apparently, that was not enough. He has signed up for a second one, since he knows what to expect from the race. And of course, he wants a better time.

75916_10151233563644870_1070562651_nBilal, you are an Ironman (Panama City, Florida 2012)

I was not sure if my marriage would be able to handle it. All the training. Going to sleep at 9:00 pm and waking up at 4:30 am to go for a run or a bike ride.  I would tuck my kids into bed for the night, and tuck my husband right afterwards. His training schedule was insane. Twice a day work outs. Training in the summer was a nightmare. Date nights became less and less. Social time with family and friends became less and less. The reality was on a non-training day we just wanted to hang out together. The marriage survived. He survived the race. All is well.

So when my husband said he wanted to do a second Ironman, my jaw dropped, I gulped, and I said okay. But the promise was made that this would be the last Ironman. OKAY!!

The best thing my husband did the second time around for his Ironman training, is he started working with a coach. I highly encouraged him to work with someone because I knew that his coach would not only help him train, but help him balance his training with his life. Stacey is his coach, and she owns TRIstacey. And she is my ally. Before we go on vacation or a weekend trip, I tell her because I know she can alter his workouts. Whatever is written in his schedule he will do. So when she said that Bilal needed to do more of a core workout, I suggested Pilates to her. And, she wrote it in his schedule. So we went to Pilates together a few times. And then he had to do yoga.

Being left all alone on the weekends so that your significant other can go and train for five hours. Do. not. take. it. personally. Paranoid people will think, my spouse does not love me. Why on earth would they want to spend all that time exercising. Repeat after me. “This is not about me. This is not about me. This is not about me.” This journey of being a triathlete is about the triathlete.  You just happen to be there for the ride.

For those of you who are not training, make sure you have an awesome support system. Friends. Family. Wine. No really, you need to find people who want to hang out and talk to you. Because after your significant other comes home, he or she is mentally drained. They do not want to make any decisions about what’s for dinner. They do not want to have small talk about what you did all day.  And do not expect any sympathy from your athlete, because no matter how much pain you are in…they are in more pain. No matter how tired you are, they are more tired. So find it in yourself not to complain. Be cheerful. Be the reason why your athlete wants to come home.

And for goodness sake, find something that you can be passionate about. I had started taking tennis lessons.  A couple of months later my husband suggested that I start training with him. I must have had a look of panic on my face. At least that is what I felt. And I blurted out that tennis was my thing. I made it my thing. I said I was joining a team. I did not want to run, bike or swim. Athletes, do not pressure your spouse to join you. If they want to join you, they will.

Also, though they are training for the BIG race, they will do many smaller races leading up to the one. And these smaller races, are still big races. Marathons. Half-Ironman Raleigh. Sprints. It just does not stop. And do not get me started on how expensive this “hobby” can be. But at the end of the day, no matter how much it costs to do races, the gear, the travel…the benefit is good health.

A couple of races are coming up, but now I am looking forward to his next Ironman. I got to pick the location. Hello, Ironman Nice! Yes, family vacation to France at the end of June. And, the best part is that we will have the rest of the summer to work on being a family again… without the training schedule.

Here is a conversation of a wife and her triathlete…for fun.

I have always wanted a tattoo.

And when I say always, I would say for at least the past ten years. I see people with a tattoo on their wrist, and I long to have one.  I do not long for it to be anywhere else, but the wrist tattoo just says something a bit more to me.  I am not sure why.  I just know that I want one.  And I kept putting it off.

I even went a few years ago with my twin sister to get a tattoo. She got one. I chickened out. Usually that is the case though. I would always let her do something first. See how it goes. Then I would follow. In this case I did not follow immediately.

I know why I did not get that tattoo a few years ago. I have a problem. I am totally afraid of commitment.

My husband would also say that I am afraid of commitment. He says that it even surprised him that I committed to marriage…and here we are going on almost 16 years!

tina_bilal_weddingGetting married in 1998

My past boyfriends (not that many) would tell you I am afraid of commitment, because as soon as it got serious, I would come up with an excuse to get out of the relationship. Of course, at the time I did not realize that I even had commitment issues.

A psychologist would say the commitment issues can be traced to childhood.  But I don’t want to go there.

The other reason I think (well I know) I have put off getting a  tattoo was I was afraid what my father would think.  I know, I know. I am 39 years old.  But I still care what my father thinks, even though I am married, have two kids, have traveled the world, owned my business, and am pretty independent in everything I do.  But the reality is, in my middle eastern culture, tattoos are considered taboo!  Though times are changing.  Having a dog as a pet is taboo as well, and I have one of those, too!

tina_babaWhat my dad thinks really matters to me

And this is why I knew that I wanted a tattoo on my wrist. I wanted it so that I can see it everyday. And I did not want to hide it, because I do not hide from anything.


I actually saw a pin on Pinterest that I liked, and thought it would make an awesome tattoo. I made this image my iPhone screen saver to see if I would get tired of seeing it multiple times a day.  I admired this images every day. Here is the picture of the pin. I am not sure who to credit for it. But I absolutely love it!


It says love and peace in Arabic. And, as you can see in the beautiful writing, there is also an image of a dove.  A dove symbolizes peace.  And this is a big part of my identity. A part of my being (and should be for everyone) and my personal philosophy is love, peace and happiness.

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us. And the world will live as one.” ―John Lennon

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about.” ― Rumi

“The day the power of love overrules the love of power, the world will know peace.” ― Mahatma Ghandi

“World peace must develop from inner peace. Peace is not just mere absence of violence. Peace is, I think, the manifestation of human compassion.” ― Dalai Lama XIV 

liveloveMy newest signature scent, Carven, exclusively at Saks, Nespresso makes me so happy, flower arrangements that are breathtaking, and my little sidekick, Lola.

Take a deep breath and enjoy those little things in life that truly make you happy.


Vine. Kik. Snapchat. ooVoo. If you have no idea what I am talking about, you are missing out on your kids “social” activities. As parents we want to know who our kids are hanging out with at school or after school. Now we also need to know who our tweens are talking to via social media.

This week my daughter had to go visit the guidance counselor, as did five other friends. She did not do anything wrong. But she was in the middle of tween drama! One of her good friends made an accusation that the only reason why she took a picture with a certain group of friends was to get more Instagram likes!  The funny thing is I was the one who suggested and took the picture after her friends came out to see her in the school play.  Apparently that one picture generated so many likes for my daughter, that her other friend, who was not there, was jealous.  Than this so-called friend started trash talking about my daughter via text to another good friend.  And in the end one of the friends showed my daughter the text correspondence. My daughter’s feelings were hurt. The text conversation went from friend to friend, and friends were picking sides. After visiting the guidance counselor, the girls learned not to talk about people and how texts can cause a lot of drama!

The reality is that our tweens out there are obsessed with popularity in real life and in their social media.  A common conversation you between tweens is how many Instagram followers do you have? Wow, look how many likes you got on that one picture!    

Do you want to know how I even found out about this visit to the guidance counselor? When I picked up my daughter from school, she was texting like there was no tomorrow.  Her phone kept pinging on the ride to her afterschool activity.  The texts seemed excessive.  Which lead me to ask, Wow! What is up with all the texts? Anything happen today at school? And this started our conversation.

Parents! Our children are in a different “techie” world. And I know many of you do not love social media they way I do. But you better get with the program.  Our tweens leave clues everyday on what is going on in their world via Instagram, Kik, and iMessage.  And if you know what they are talking about, you can actually have conversation with your tweens by asking lead questions to find out more.  You have to ask them lead questions to get them to talk to you!

I go through my daughter’s text messages (she does not delete them).  I have made it clear to her that I do not look at her text messages to see who likes who, and who said what.  I am looking for inappropriateness for their age.  Trust me, by doing this you will also be able to know who you want your tween to hang out with and who you are going to make sure they steer clear of after school.

Netiquette? What is that all about?

We teach our kids etiquette, in their face to face social interactions.  Now it is time to teach kids netiquette with their social media interactions.  Be very specific with your tween on the way things are written can have a different tone than saying it out loud.  How many times have we as adults gotten a text or email and questioned the tone the other person projects?  It is so important for our tweens to realize that when they are texting  they need to treat people nicely, and not to be rude, cruel, or gossip.  When they send a picture, video, message screenshot, anyone can see it and it can be forwarded easily.

Here a few questions that I told my daughter should ask herself:

  • What would my parent’s think of this text? Picture? Conversation?
  • Would I actually say this in person to my friend?
  • Is this picture or text appropriate? If someone sees it will I be ok with that?
  • Am I saying something that might hurt someone’s feelings?

Forever and Ever…and Ever

This is a really hard lesson to learn.  My daughter learned first hand how a text conversation can go from one person to the other, and be totally misinterpreted.  Also, that picture or screenshot that was forwarded to your friend, is now and forever in cyberspace. It is very easy for a picture or message to be cut and pasted and taken out context. I explained Photoshop. Very hard concept to learn.  But show your kids examples.  I showed my daughter this example from our local newspaper, News and Observer.  These are real tweets from her peers that were showing up in a newspaper article.  Bottom line, if it is something you do not mind showing the rest of the world than it fine.  If you have any doubt that you do not want the whole world, school, good friends to see something…than think again about what you say. text,  or what you post.

Parents, technology is here to stay. We must come to the realization that our kids live in a real world…and a virtual world.  The sooner you accept this, the sooner you will have the conversations that come with our new reality!


Here is round up of my favorite hummus recipes, from some of my favorite bloggers! And remember, the only way that I consider hummus to actually be labeled as hummus is if there is chick peas aka garbanzo beans in the recipe. You can learn more about that here.

heavenlyhummuswrap_thepioneerwomanHeavenly Hummus Wrap courtesy of The Pioneer Woman

creamyavocadohummus_joythebakerCreamy Avocado Hummus courtesy of Joy the Baker

Wasabi Hummus_soupspiceeverythingniceWasabi Hummus courtesy of Soup Spice Everything Nice



live_life_3Spring cleaning my closet and rediscovered this gorgeous bracelet, visited the NC Zoo in Asheboro on a 2nd grade field trip, first time rock climbing at Triangle Rock Club, and took a road trip to visit the Greensboro Science Center.

Happy Wednesday! Lots of learning this week, and visiting new places. I love that I am always finding new places and experiences for my family to live and love at the moment!