I’m back from my summer travels and even though I had a great time, I’m pleased to be back — I wanted to say that I’m pleased to be back home, but Kuwait doesn’t feel like home to me yet. I think part of the reason is because I don’t really feel like I’ve fully moved back. There was such a whirlwind of events that preceded my departure that I was still recovering. The process getting here was stressful then of course the actual move was hectic. The first few months were spent unpacking boxes and setting up house. Then, for the first time in over three years, I stepped back into a university classroom to teach, which had its own ups and downs.

The summer was busy too, but it refueled me in many ways. It was great to spend time with my parents and our trip to Bhutan together was an important time for us – to heal, to bond, to give us a moment of peace. My hike up to Tiger’s Nest Monastery was the perfect challenge to put my mental focus and determination (not to mention physical ability) to the test. It reminded me that I am strong and capable – something that I hadn’t felt in quite some time. Following that adventure, I headed to Vegas and Torrance, CA to visit Gracie University. Once again, my time training at GU gave me that extra boost of curiosity and enthusiasm about my training, which is always a perfect way to end my visit.

Now, I’m back and it’s such a relief because I finally feel like I can start settling in. I can set up a routine — and actually start living. One of the things I realized I was doing over the past year and a half was just going through the motions of things. I was too hurt emotionally to fully connect with anyone or anything. I was moving forward by sheer will but no conviction, no enthusiasm, and worst of all, no hope.

The vision of my whole life changed after Ahmed died. I mean, how did that happen? How am I supposed to make any sense of time/life when my younger brother suddenly passes away? My whole world turned upside down.

I didn’t even fully realize I was moving through my days like a zombie until someone I follow on Instagram, Roxanne Saffaie of Blackbelt Beauty, posted something that caught my attention. All of her posts are always filled with vibrant energy, but when she emphatically exclaimed, “I’m in love with life,” I really sat up and took notice.

I was completely in awe of how she could so confidently and passionately make such a statement. I’m in love with life.

That’s when I realized – I don’t love life.

I’ve been very transparent with my struggles with grief and now the resulting anxiety. Personally I think it’s a miracle I get out of bed each day. I know that I don’t want to live in a catatonic state and that’s why I get up and go to the gym, I keep working on my jiu-jitsu, I meet up with friends — I keep doing all the things I did before, but there hasn’t always been enthusiasm about it.

It was a great revalation to me that I didn’t love life at the moment, but I wanted to.

Hearing Roxanne’s words was pivotal in me pinpointing what needed to change. I thought I was doing well by just ‘moving on,’ perhaps I was. Now, however, I’m ready for the next step.

For the past year I have been moving through the wreckage … now I’m working on climbing my way out.

Blackbelt Beauty — and check out her podcast too