Activism is love made visible - Khalil Gibran
Leading With Love
Of this one life we have, the possibilities of becoming serve as our greatest hope.
Inherently, we are creative beings with a proclivity towards expression, though many of us stay inhibited by ideas and structures which were not ours to begin with. I experienced this most prominently with speech dis fluency. As a child, I found it difficult to express myself in ways that were either agreeable by my family and community, or likable by peers. My mother would find me in her closet playing with dresses. Other children wrote me off since I couldn’t talk like them. For a child with a lot to say and a curiosity for everything, this proved to be frustrating. I grew to be afraid of self expression.
Shame works like a tarp over ground, preventing the light of compassion from coaxing life out of its shell. Hidden deep beneath the soil of our experience is our truest expression; the awareness of who we are, and how we move through the world.
When we ask who we are, we are really asking how we relate to the world around us, where we belong. It is through relationships that we come to discover ourselves. Every time we relate to someone or something, we are experiencing ourselves through them. Over the years, all these experiences accumulate, and if some of them were particularly difficult, they become lodged in us like blockages. It is important to process through our experience, and understand who we were before it, and who we become after it. Writing is a doorway into this experiential landscape. Not only do we discover ourselves in relationship to what is around us, but also to what is within us. This is a relationship that is sorely ignored in our culture by the various available distractions. Though it is this relationship, the relationship to inner life, that is the most important and intimate relationship we can develop.
Writing, then, brings you face to face with your truth. When you sit to write in a notebook, you are confiding an honest reflection of your experience. For many, this is scary because we do not want to confront our truth. We do not want to confront the pain of living, or the grief of loss. So we shield ourselves by stories and narratives to avoid vulnerability. We default to the normative scripts which we’ve known since childhood. The same scripts that our parents believed in, and their parents, and the culture at large. When you sit to write, not only are you processing through your experiences, but necessarily you are beginning to question, to become curious, about everything around you. This has the potential to undermine the structural beliefs that have so far brought you here. Who could you become without your story? What other narratives are possible?
There is a peculiar feeling one gets of a deep dissatisfaction with their life once they’ve strayed away from their center, even if yet unrecognizable. It wasn't until I found my way back into writing that a flicker of love was lit, and soon enough, I unfolded myself onto the page daily, processing through everything new and old, meeting myself for the very first time.
Though strange to say, I have been privileged to be worn down by experience. Living alienated within a structural narrative dampened by the struggles of self expression, and a transitory sense of self and home, turned into the fertile compost out of which possibility grew. The life I’ve lived has so far directed me towards a quiet kindness shaped by listening.
Between the ages of 12 and 18 I spent my time searching for home due to familial complications, eventually landing in Utah as an evacuee from the 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon. In Utah, I earned a Bachelors of Science in Economics, and then pursued a masters.
While in graduate school I started a business selling hummus (Laziz Foods), which lead to the founding of Laziz Kitchen in 2016, a community restaurant serving as a queer safe space. In March of 2013, along two more plaintiff couples, I joined a lawsuit challenging Utah’s discriminatory marriage laws in federal court. Kitchen v. Herbert made its way to the Supreme Court, extending the right to marry to the six states within the jurisdiction of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals by 2015.
The swing from the anonymous estrangement of an immigrant on American shores, to standing on the frontlines of civil rights, community activism, and local leadership was unimaginably catalytic. At once I found myself straddling the paradox of familiar unpredictability while rooting into community support. The intimate relationship to inner life which had so far accompanied me provided the fortitude to navigate yet another transitionary period.
Throughout the years I kept journals as a way to process through experience. Where I had difficulty expressing myself verbally, I could unfold onto the page. It is by the pen that I meet myself in kindness, engaging in the practice of inquisitive inquiry into the evolution of narrative.
I find writing to be a therapeutic tool in accessing our inner lives and making sense of who we were, who we are, and who we are becoming. In 2014 I joined a writing collective, and later trained as a facilitator to guide group writing workshops. Since then I've also participated in narrative therapy training workshops.
What I really want to tell you, what I want you to know about me, is that I love this world, and everything in it. I found my cadence as a guide armed with a pen, and the mission to help anyone who is willing walk through into their inner threshold. I believe that this world is worth loving, and our lives worth living.
I hope to have earned your trust as your writing facilitator. I look forward to sharing the page with you.