By Dina Al-Hidiq Zebib
Author of Crossroads
It is a fascinating experience to become a published writer. Many of my friends have pointed out what a huge achievement it is…and it definitely is! After long hours, days, months and years of working laboriously on my computer, overcoming several incidents of ‘writer’s block’, and managing my roles as a mother, wife, career person, and an individual, I do feel I have made a monumental achievement.
I am reminded of the ancient philosopher, Confucius, who said, “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop”. My Goodness, how slow I went. I was busy with my second son, who was only a baby when I first started writing Crossroads. My eldest wasn’t that old himself—just five at the time—and required much of my time too. Two years later, I went back to work, struggling to meet deadlines, and working nights after the children were in bed to prove myself as a professional. I continued striving to be the best mother and wife I could possibly be—cooking, shopping, driving children to football, swimming, birthday parties, planning play dates, being there for my husband, and trying so hard to take care of myself along the way. It’s so hard!
The wise words of my favorite university professor and practicing clinical psychotherapist in Beirut, Dr. Marwan Gharzeddine, accompanied me along the way: “You can never be the perfect mother, Dina. Just love your children as best you can. Don’t be too hard on yourself.” I adore Dr. Marwan, and greatly look up to him. Whenever I felt like the “worst mother ever”, I stopped and thought about his words. This has helped alleviate the never-ending guilt, and reminded me to show my family my love—words, hugs, and cuddles were medicinal. I do stop regularly to spend “special” time with my family; we plan out our time together, and greatly look forward to our activities. Be reasonable with what you expect yourself to do. When your heart prescribes what you should do, listen to it. Do not try to do too much—you might just break.
The significance of Confucius’ words in my journey was that I never gave up, and I continue to persevere. I just learned to give myself longer timelines to get things done—rigid deadlines do not work. I tell myself “I will get this done”, and I make a plan for it to be accomplished. My goals are set for years ahead sometimes, but I write up a plan to get them done eventually. I could have easily given up…but I didn’t. My dear sister-in-law, Eleine El-Khoury recently wrote a post on my Facebook profile page saying, “So proud of you, Dina. I still remember each and every step of making it happen, and all the difficulties you faced! But you made it…” Yes, it was challenging, but I did not stop, and, with God’s blessing, I never will.
Confucius also said, “The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones”. Yes, I am moving mountains. When a mother, wife and career person can write and publish a book, she is moving a mountain. Every stone she carries away is placed on her shoulder, to empty her hands so they are free to tend to the needs of her family. Sometimes, there are multiple stones on her back, in her pockets, or balanced on her high-heeled shoes, which she carries painfully, but gracefully, while keeping a smile and an open heart for her family, because they are her ultimate pride and joy. Did I stumble and collapse along the way? Dozens of times. But I got up again, hoped, prayed and kept going. When I hear the words from my children “I love you mommy. Thank you for doing all that you do for us. You are the BEST mommy in the world”, I feel the pain all worthwhile. I truly am the happiest woman on earth—and the PERFECT mother for my children. If they feel loved, then I am a successful mother.
My husband, Hussein Zebib, plays a significant role. The twinkle in his eyes that I see whenever he looks at me says, “As long as you are happy, I am the happiest man in the world”. He wants me to be happy, and he is there to support and encourage me. So how can I not support and encourage him too? We fell in love and promised to have each other’s back all the time. If one of us was not happy, the other wouldn’t be. It would be selfish, from both parts, not to lend a helping hand. We are both ambitious and hard-working, so we BOTH need each other’s support and, most importantly, each other’s love.
How big an achievement is it for me to finally become a published writer? Huge! With all that I had (and continue to have) on my plate, I did not give up on my dream. Yes, it has always been a dream of mine to become an author—and now it has come true. One of my favorite authors, Paulo Coelho, wrote in one of his blogs where he posted writing tips: “You should care to share your soul…”, and this is what I did: I wrote from my heart, and I sent it out to all the people in the world in my novel Crossroads.
A dear friend of mine, and a distinguished writer, Sophie Chamas, encouraged and supported me by critiquing the first draft of my novel. Her words “Your book is written from the heart and an achievement to be proud of” will forever rest in my heart. I will continue to share my soul and I will continue to write from my heart.
I would love to read about your personal stories, struggles and achievements. It is always an achievement when you look back at how you struggled to make something happen, especially with all the life circumstances and obstacles you are experiencing along the way that might hold you back. There are no small or big achievements. The latter can only be measured by how much effort you had to put to reach your goal, how many stones you had to bear to move a mountain, how many tears you had to shed and sometimes hide, how many bruises you had to nurse, how many helping hands you had to lend, and how many smiles of love you shared along the way—no matter how long it took you to make it happen. Go ahead and share your soul in my blog.