Tag Archives: life

My Story with Happiness

30 Sep

I have 30-something years on my belt, and I know thousands over thousands of people, traveled many countries, worked in many fields, and finally learned the simple lesson of happiness, and it has nothing to do with any of this.

In one of my previous careers, I was actually quite famous. I played music with some the world’s legendary musicians, won international contests, and toured several countries. My involvement in another line of work was once mentioned by a Queen in her closing speech at an international conference, as being the most effective.

Do you think any of this brought me happiness?

I mean, the genuine, long-term, no-worry, raw, non-showy  kind of happiness  – not the kick one feels after watching a good movie or while having a good meal in good company (nor the one you parade to other people to make them jealous). These are little dots of happiness that are often interrupted by so many other emotions, especially if you have a difficult family and a bit of harsh social circumstances.

You might think it’s to have with a lot of money, or that maybe happiness must occur when you actually know a lot of people. At a certain point in my life I was basically one of a few people in the office who can actually solve everyone’s problems with a phone call. I knew so many people who belonged to so many worlds, cultures and subcultures in my city, that it was so easy for me to get the thing, or person or piece of information one of my colleagues needed.

It was quite weird. I often asked myself, “were other people like this?” I had at least 7 circles of immediate social gatherings and friends that exposed me to different types of people, parties, events, etc. From the highly sophisticated cultural circles, where I used to attend art galleries and poetry seminars, to playful niche gatherings that brought together anarchists and the  self-destructive folk. In between, there were the traditional folk, the conservative families and the religious ones.

I read countless books from mythology to psychology to self-help books and a few novels.

I know I sound like bragging, but all this counting is to underline one truth. Happiness has nothing to do with how vast and large you travel through life, nor the number of events you attend, or the kind of clothing you put on. Nor is it remotely linked to art galleries, fame and social status… nor career success.

It has to do with one thing only. And it is that the closest people around you are trust-worthy, truly loving and supportive, emotionally and spiritually. They bring the best out of you!

I had quite a long time to test this idea.

I found that whenever I had a toxic best-friend, father, mother, brother, colleague, in my life, I was always most of the time burdened with something I couldn’t really quite understand almost all the time, something darkish in nature, that was in essence, negative. Now I know what it was; it was that person’s toxic energy, consisting of their moods, ups-and-downs, negativity, envy, jealousy and cynicism.

There are people who punctuate their relationship with you with some kind of destructive energy to pull you down with them, as a means of subtle control, to keep you from being free.

Being “free” within a relationship is so important. Free to be who you are, to cultivate your interest in whatever you genuinely love, without being held back by someone’s comments, jealousies, criticism, or subtle insinuations that aim at bringing down your enthusiasm or poisoning your interest in something.

I have seen families who have sucked away the talent in their kids by either being over-proud about it – and exposing their kids to the humiliation of having to perform their talent in front of strangers at the father’s whim (without the slightest consideration to what the child really wanted), or… by playing a fake supporter to their kids with insincere support remarks that end up crushing the kid. There are friends like that, colleagues, bosses, and even acquaintances, who know how to suck the life out of anything while managing to look “positive” about it.

This brings us to another quality we need to have in ourselves, and definitely in the people we surround ourselves with: Empathy. Without empathy, a parent, a lover, a friend, a spouse, a best-friend… can almost everyday break something inside you, because they don’t empathize with your subtlest of psychological needs. Some of these people can be overpowering, over-dominating, demanding, or simply extremely self-centered control-freaks. The more toxic kind can include people who systematically aim at destroying people who make them jealous. There are people whose personal story is not as successful as yours. Say, you are a positive-thinking person who travels lightly through life, and who has a lot of potential, while that person in your immediate circle has a somewhat victim-mentality, where he/she thinks life wasn’t fair to him/her. They most probably would detest the notion that life is being fair to you, and therefore try to cause you subtle misery by pulling you down through countless strategies… that you can read about in countless books.

Surround yourself with people (or one person – which is quite enough), who care, who listen and respect your wishes when you tell them, “can you please stop doing that,” and not with people who want to walk all over you and treat you the way they want to without the slightest consideration of how you feel about it.

Surround yourself with positive & high-morale, caring, loving, honest and inspiring people. And if these qualities are far out of reach in this moment of life, make an effort to actually end your toxic relationships. Here, you need to be aware that toxic people are often emotional-blackmail type of people, who want you to believe you owe them! Toxic people are actually very clingy, and to get rid of them, you need to make a clear cut choice about it and forge forward. Keep moving, keep walking, and you shall succeed.

From experience, my advice for happiness is:

  • Build up the courage to get rid of all your toxic relationships, or at least limit the interaction with the toxic party to the barest minimum, to avoid being sucked back into their sick dramas. Cut the chord.
  • Stop going to toxic places filled with toxic people, who do not support you genuinely.
  • Quit your toxic job and look for a place that is less “competitive” and with a leader, or a boss who is “fair.” How do you get to know that? Well, one can write a book about this, but remember one thing, in job interviews, you are there to get an idea about them, the same way as they about you. If you think the interviewer (who might be your immediate future boss) is dominating, cynical, lacks empathy, and causes your stomach to churn, my advice is, don’t work there (even if it’s cool for your CV and the pay is great).
  • Have faith in positivity, and be very positive that you will find a job, a life, a spouse, a friend, with good hearts and caring personalities. Stick to this conviction, pray for it, and it shall happen. Have no doubts; that’s important.
  • Don’t put yourself down.
  • Don’t let anyone put you down. They are as human as you are, and if they love putting other people down and survive on predating on other people’s weaknesses, don’t hand yourself over to them. Keep your distance, and leave. Don’t engage.
  • Work at building a high-morale culture within you. Motivate yourself, look for people who inspire a high level of energy within you, who make you want to live life with a plate of pasta and a cold drink in your lap with no one worry on your mind.

What’s most important is to look for ways to keep your morale high in all kinds of circumstances.

If you are aware and mindful of how you lead your life, you will find out that negativity comes from outside, most of the time, from opinionated people who try to impose their sick ideas on others (personally or through TV and on the internet), thinking that their beliefs are “truths.” While they are only “perspectives.”

  • Look for people who have good perspectives on life, positive outlooks, genuine empathy and love for you. People who don’t want to judge you, nor compete with you, nor control your every step of the way, nor decide on your behalf. No, no, these people are the toxic ones. Look for people who are genuine and have other positive things on their minds other than being fixated on you and how you dress, or drive, or live life.
Choice, choice, and more choice… and persistence

The hardest thing I ever learned is that we have choice. We actually can choose to lead life the way we want to. People who think they are disadvantaged, are actually demoralized. They have been around toxic, like-minded demoralized people long enough to establish a few “facts” about life and continue living this way for the rest of their lives. This makes me want to cry, because I once was so demoralized and depressed that I actually thought I will stay in that place for the rest of my life, but I worked hard to save myself. I did the impossible to turn my circumstances around, I fought for it, I worked for it, I dedicated my whole energy, whatever tool, book, talent, I had to find happiness. I read books, met people, looked for answers, looked for theories about who we are as human beings and what kind of power we had over our lives, I read philosophy books to see if I could learn something that would get me out of the negative circumstances I was surrounded with (and the negative people). I read about the function of the brain, the left brain, the right brain, and how this affected how we “perceived” our surroundings. I worked on my “perceptions,” on my belief system, which I re-organized several times, deconstructing it at times. I dedicated my whole life, almost my whole focus on entering my 30’s (since my twenties where the learning phase) armed with the new “me” that will take me right into happiness. I had a target, a plan, and I actually learned a lot for the purpose of “scheduling my happiness” from management books (time-management, setting goals, etc). The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and The Tipping Point, readily come to mind.

  • Know that you can turn things around in any given circumstance if you manage to keep your morale high. Learn to be positive, loving, and empathizing, towards yourself and others. Make this your life’s mission, and you shall come out of the gutter. I came out of mine!

Summer Food DIY & Inspiration: Homemade Ice-cream

4 Jun

Strawberry Ice-cream by Karboojeh Handmade: This sorbet doesn’t contain milk; it’s a different recipe from the one mentioned below in the post. This one blends strawberry with sugar only. Put in the freezer for a nice, tasty sorbet.

Homemade ice is the tastiest thing you can ever taste! With a few natural ingredients, you can make your own frozen gelato or sorbetto. You can always use your imagination for coming up with variates that suit your taste, the local produce available around you, and your budget.

Now, let’s make our own fruit-based ice-cream!

Strawberry sorbet – by Karboojeh Handmade

Simple strawberry ice-cream

Try this recipe by Karboojeh Handmade:

  • Put 2-3 cups of strawberry in the blender with some sugar (depends on your taste. TIP: Just remember that when you freeze something it tastes less sugary, so maybe you need to add a little bit more than your threshold.
  • Blend well
  • When the strawberry is well-mashed, add some milk (or Greek-style yogurt for less calories) and blend until you form a strawberry loose paste (not too runny, not too thick)
  • Place mixture in store-bought Popsicle cones or in air-tight plastic container.
  • Freeze – in the freezer
  • Enjoy the next day with a loved one or friend

P.S. I Only took pics of the homemade strawberry sorbet we made at home, that’s why the frozen mixture looks darkish. Frozen strawberry ice-cream mixed with milk or yogurt would be a delightful pink.

Karboojeh Top Picks: Bloggers’ ice-cream recipes

Here are a few recipes that I have collected recently. Click the pics – or the links in the captions right below them – to go to the recipes. Enjoy!

Modern ice-cream stick:

Source: asubtlerevelry.com via Karboojeh on Pinterest

Rustic ice-sticks:

Source: joylicious.net via Karboojeh on Pinterest

Pink ice-sticks:

Source: andthenidothedishes.blogspot.com via Karboojeh on Pinterest

Shabby-chic ice-sticks:
Lemon ice:

Banana ice-cream:

Source: webmd.com via Karboojeh on Pinterest

For more ice-cream ideas:
Homemade ice-cream – via 2littlehooligans.blogspot.com
Food recipe (ice-cream) – via therealityofskinny.tumblr.com

O That’s Lovley: 1 day special offer TODAY to promote your crafts

1 May

To all the artisans, handmade jewelry designers & makers, and home decor crafters & companies – Please join me to a 1 day special offer TODAY to promote your handmade products at O That’s Lovely.

I had the great privilege of being approached to promote Karboojeh Handmade Jewelry over at othatslovely.com. I’m so excited about this!

Today (Tuesday- May 1, 2012)  Oh That’s Lovely are doing a Special Offer where companies & artisans alike can upload 1 image for Free instead of the usual 99p.

“If you work within the arts, crafts, jewellery and home decor fields then you are more than welcome” to the offer & the website. To contact othatslovely.com for the offer, you can go here.

This website seems to be quite new, and I love the aesthetics. They have a pretty straightforward interface, and in my opinion, “descent” Terms of Service, which you can view over here.

With the tagline Discover. Promote. Share, Oh That’s Lovely seems to be doing it the right way. They upload an image of your work that takes readers straight to your website, Etsy shop, or blog. You do the talking. This means your image has to be extra inviting to get more hits!

More about othatslovely.com?

There is a straightforward Q&A on this page that answers all your questions about the website.

I’m so looking forward to seeing my jewelry on the website, and I do hope to see your work, too!

Have a great day all,



UPDATE: I am now being featured on Oh That’s Lovely in the Jewelery section here. I also included a mention about that on my Featured page.

Naturally Homemade: Grandma’s alum recipe instead of commercial deodorant

30 Mar

Pic via jasminechemical.com

When I was 17, my grandmother told me to stop using deodorants since they blocked the perspiration glands.  Deodorants are dangerous to our bodies… nature has always offered us ways to beautify and clean ourselves. Why not use alum (i.e Shabbeh – شبة) instead?

Alum is not short for aluminum. It’s a natural stone, that once crushed into tiny crystals can be your personal hygiene’s best friend.

Pic via ehow.com

Aluminum, on the other hand, is a harmful component that is used in many of the manufactured deodorants out there!

Grandma, may she rest in peace, told me that over time the blocked sweat caused by commercial deodorants will accumulate under the skin and rot, and I will start to really smell, which means I will need more deodorant to cover it up. Ultimately this blocked perspiration is a form of toxin that is locked within the body… it will harm it.

As a nature-lover, my grandma hated manufactured cosmetics, and always opted for natural remedies to fix everything. She had great insight and respect for the ways of her grandparents. She didn’t need a scientific report to tell if unnatural cosmetics were harmful or not, she knew it innately. And I believed her.

Pic via dipity.com

Alum talc-like deodorant

My grandmother’s basic alum recipe – You can use this recipe like you use talc:

  • Crush some alums until they become a bit rougher than talc (if they’re not already crushed) – about 7 tablespoons of it (or more if you like).
  • In my part of the world you can buy already crushed Musk powder, which is then added to the alum (let’s say about 1/2 a tablespoon), and it gives it a celestial smell. You can check out your area for any oriental shops & ask them if they have it.
  • Mix the two well. Place  the powder in a clean cosmetics container with a lid, and use a cotton pad, or one or those fluffy pads used for applying powder facial foundation.
  • After taking a shower, fluff your underarms and any perspiration-active areas with this mixture.
  • P.S. If you have been using artificial deodorants for a long time, be patient while the body cleans itself. At first you might think the Alum-Musk mixture is not working out because you are basically smelling, but that’s because all the blocked perspiration is now to free to leave your body. These toxins have a bad smell, but after a while when the new perspiration is now dancing with the alum you will smell fresh and quite different than before.

Alum sprayer

Pic via realsimple.com

My grandma’s great grandmothers, back to God-knows-when, used alum and they always smelled superb. In fact if you have a sensitive nose you can always tell the difference between a modern home, around the Levant where I live, and a traditional home that uses natural soaps, alum, rosewater, and all the natural scents & cleaning materials that really make everything smell better.

Another simple alum recipe is making your own alum spray:

  • Crush the alum crystals
  • Mix them with water in a bottle sprayer
  • Spray your underarms, feet, and any sweat-active areas, right after you shower.

Alum with essential oils

You can always experiment with creating your own scented alum powder. If you have a good quality rose/musk/jasmine essential oil, you can:

Pic via ashitherapy.com

  • Crush the alum…
  • add a few drops of essential oil to the alum crystals and mix well
  • use like you use talc.

DIY Monologue: Jewelry with a story

12 Feb

Karboojeh handmade leather boho hoop bracelet

I believe that when you make handmade jewelry (or anything handmade, including food), you put a little bit of you in each piece (recipe, dish, artwork, creation, etc). Making beaded or leather jewelry is more than just fitting colors and shapes together; it is a little journal where we write our life’s untold story – using jewelry components instead of words and ink!

I very recently noticed that when I am making a piece of jewelry or accessory, I am mostly reminiscing over a particular time in my life.

The boho leather bracelet above (sold) is just an example of this. Although the design is quite basic, it did take me quite a while to garner enough courage to make this one: It meant I had to re-live part of my adolescence, since such a bracelet would have been a hit in my teenage years.

After gazing at the ingredients (metallic hoop, leather cord, caps, clasp, jump-rings, beads, eye-pin/findings) I had arranged neatly in a box for almost two months, I decided I was ready to make jewelry that appealed to me back when I was a kido-turning-into–woman.

Adolescence is emotionally painful. Up until mid-twenties, one is virtually walking into all kinds of walls, hurting over so much as we grow up, especially if we have the artist streak, making us more vulnerable to life than most of our peers.

I sold this bracelet to a 40-something lady at a local craft fair who was looking for something to buy for her daughter. She impersonated her kid every time she looked at a jewelry item, and vocalized out-loud what she imagined her kid would criticize about it.

“Oh, no, this one has shells on it… my kid would say: ‘Mom, why did you bring me shells, don’t you know I hate them? I look like a board game of Barjees!*”

The mother sighed and continued…

“She’ll stop talking with me for a week!”

Obviously, that’s a difficult child. Like many of us.

The mother’s features relaxed when she saw this boho bracelet:

“Ah, she’ll love this one!”

Her kid is a 13-year-old girl. When I made this bracelet, I was thinking of my jewelry-taste (and life) back when I was 13.

Moral of the story: Any work of art, or artisanal work, that is made with a story behind it, will find a place to continue telling that story!



DIY Tip: I used E600 to glue the caps on the leather-cord ends.
* Barjees is a board-game known in the Levant, specifically in Syria & Turkey. Instead of dice, cowrie shells are traditionally used so contenders would move their metallic pegs a certain number of blocks towards their target, the final house of win. The numbers are pronounced in old Turkish, and that’s how every one plays them.
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