Lights Out, 2016

With twenty-one days left of twenty-sixteen, a recap is in order before I blow the lights out on it. I find myself experiencing a block when it comes to creativity on all fronts – including writing – so Bambi’s Soapbox will be on hiatus until 2017, after revisiting Barcelona for a week.

After joining the family empire last year, the borders of my professional and personal life are now blurred to the max. I leave the store only to go home and have dinner with my bosses, discuss orders, and be reminded of a task I haven’t started. Even when away from my desk, my today-at-work stories involve my parents and the most exciting news I have to share is an arrival of limited edition Oreos. I do feel a sense of accomplishment when introducing brands to the market here; I slave away to find winners and playing brand manager & creative simultaneously is as satisfying as it is exhausting.

The thing that’s toughest about that scenario? The noise. Internally. Incessant mental knock-knock of thought. It’s like having your identical twin poke at your temples for 6 hours straight, laugh, and then do it for another 6. You always have to be on, ready to compose an email, pitch an idea, or recommend a solution. And because our kitchen is also a conference room, there’s no SPACE where the brain can decompress. Running was my safe haven and the Christmas season has deprived me of that. I can feel the tightness of burnout creeping back into the ball of my neck.

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From a post in January 2016

2016, the Year of Realizing Stuff
I have yet to learn where my tipping point is when it comes to stress levels as I have reached burnout multiple times and doubt that it won’t happen again in the new year. I do know, however, that the burnout isn’t exclusively linked to the amount of work but more to the nature of it.

I miss being a full-time maker. I miss production shoots. I miss having lead and ink-stained fingers after getting lost in sketching. A masters workshop in Rome had me hand-lettering at 3am surrounded by a Prosecco bottle and pencil shavings. I signed up for it because I needed to create beyond that of an orange shopping cart. Alas, one workshop a year is not enough. It is not a passion I have cut out enough energy for.

I have yet to fall in love with Beirut again but that’s because I never fell out of love with her in the first place. But I do feel like this relationship hasn’t been one of equals. When will you start to love me back?

I met people who made me indirectly question where I’m at, further convincing me that sometimes you cross paths with others briefly and their sole purpose is to give you a wake-up call, a shove, or a shake. You get comfortable; then, X punches a hole in your autopilot so you can go back into manual.

Is this what I want? Where am I going? 

I haven’t seen the light because the end of the tunnel keeps moving with every recalibration. I will optimistically say that I’ve been hitting the bumper instead of rolling into the gutter but where I’ll hit next is what keeps me up at night.

This year has shown me nothing except this (which also happens to be an anthem dad recites on repeat): time is our most limited resource. Whether it’s the time we need to strike through lines of our to-do lists, the time that evaporates under jasmine vines in Jbeil, or the time that we want to freeze because the porcelain plates of our existence are spinning in unison on stilts and if we stand still, nothing will fall and nothing will flee. Time is what we will always want but never be easily granted.

Three weeks left.
Take your time.

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Holiday Tips for Animal Lovers

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My kids & I in 1994

Growing up, I tried my luck with different pets but, ever since I was 4, there has been at least one cat in our family and in all our photo albums. I’m a certified animal person and, because my current felines aren’t the cuddliest bunch, I resort to spending afternoons at AUB for some kitty love.

My newsfeed recently has been overrun with pictures of lost pets, injured canines, and cats caught in car engines as they scour for warmth now that the temperature has dropped. If you’re like me, in that you can’t adopt any new siblings due to lack of space or parental approval, I’ve compiled a short list of easy things you can do to help these little fluffballs without signing on for the full commitment.

Tap on Your Hoods
Cats are not fans of water. The rain and cold winds causes cats & kittens to seek warmth wherever they can find it which means under hoods of parked cars. Unsuspecting humans hop in and start their engines only to be surprised by the squatter who is now injured or worse. Tap on the hood or honk a few times before starting your car. It’ll be one of the rare times where honking here serves a purpose.

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Frida recently passed away after being caught in a car engine (Animals Lebanon)

Build a Fort
Creating shelters for these kitties would give them a place to go instead of under your car hood. Check out this site for tips on how to make warm spots for the poor strays or improvise and design your own using scraps around the building. God knows we’ve got plenty of trash around that we can repurpose.

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Love me for life, foo’

Don’t Gift Puppies & Kittens
The idea of being a cat/dog uncle or aunt is tempting. By gifting a miniature pet to someone you love, you’re guaranteed to have a companion to spoil who you can walk away from at the end of the day. However, as you’re tying a pretty red ribbon around their neck, remember that this little guy is not a temporary source of entertainment. Cats and dogs require care and they are a responsibility that isn’t just a walk in the park. You also have trips to the vet, destroyed leather shoes, and hair EVERYWHERE. Also, two words: pooper scooper.

When you bring them home, keep in mind that they’re going to be there for a long time. The recipient may not be ready for the baby you’re leaving on their doorstep so don’t force the decision on someone else. Only have kids when you’re ready. Talk about it first. Yes, I’m still talking about pets.

Be a Foster Parent
BETA Lebanon has had a space problem for quite a while and, since it’s the holiday season, Animals Lebanon foster roster is low and they need more foster parents. This is a great alternative for those who can’t full-time adopt AND it helps the shelters that are currently over capacity. You can volunteer to care for cats, dogs, or both. It’s a temporary situation so your place is like a hostel until they find their forever home.

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Sponsor/Donate
Money is what makes the world go ’round and puts food in their bowls. No need to dish out the big bills, any amount is appreciated.

Ultimately, if you do want a furry friend to join your family, adopt one, regardless of their age or breed. They’ll love (or ignore) you just the same as the young purebreds in the pet shop.