Fight for your Right…to Love

Do we truly know how it feels to fight for the right to love…to fight to be simply validated as your full self with no reservations?

I know first hand of the struggles that come along with trying to fully be me, my thoughts, my heart…and everything that comes with me in an extremely restrictive setting. That limiting atmosphere was religion…and it ingrained within me a sense of guilt for wanting to express me in all it’s forms. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to fly and completely live my truth. Every single one of us has our own unique truth. And if we cannot live that truth fully, then whats the point of it all?

Many of us have a harder fight… especially our LGBT community. I can only imagine being born a women, but knowing deep down I was really a man, or not being able to love another being in public because they so happen to be the same sex.  Well, I had the wonderful opportunity to go to the equality/ pride/ resist march last month. I felt it was an ample opportunity to expose my girls to such a momentous & prideful occasion. It was quite challenging getting there, but “I had this feeling all in my bones” and my determination was the fuel that got us there.  I put on our rainbow apparel and Pash & I created our glittery & cheerful “Fill the World w/ Love” sign. A sense of empowerment came from working together with my girls on that sign. We pack up the car…and we head to West Hollywood!

So Pash asks, what’s this march for? I explain…We’re marching because all boys and girls are equal, and we all should be allowed to love whomever we want to love. Oh yeah… and we’re marching to say no to hate and to Trump. She easily understands, and holds up her sign with a happy grin & such pride! We head down Santa Monica Blvd.

What a sight! So many colors…so much freedom….so much love. I didn’t see gender or fear, I just saw humans that were walking as one united human race. Freedom to be is what every single human on this earth deserves…and this freedom was flowing freely throughout this beautiful crowd.

What is my job as a mother? To ensure that my girls grow up to be strong, confident, and empathetic human beings…and expose them to the vastness of love.  I am so blessed to have them by my side in this march called life. Let us all fight for the right to love, our right to be equal, our right to use our voice in our own way every day.

 

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My May Journey

Hey! I’m back! I kinda feel like I’ve been on a sabbatical this month! What a journey I’ve been on…physically, emotionally, everythingly…

Let me just say that it feels so good sitting on my bed with my laptop looking outwards and just reflecting…digging deep within my soul to grab onto gratitude, happiness, contentment, and just peace.

Sometimes life takes you through so many winding tunnels. Your so focused on trying not to hit the wall, that you keep your head straight towards the road instead of looking up, down, and around to fully grasp the whole of life that surrounds you.

This month has truly been an eventful one full of great events, people & energy. But I’ll be honest. I’m wiped out!

As a budding entrepreneur, I want to be exposed to as many opportunities as possible, and don’t want to turn down ones that could potentially change the course of my career… but in the midst of career growth, my needy little insides are crying out to me….nourish me, fill me up…don’t forget about me…Hello out there?

How do I keep up with me? How do I keep up with my family? How do I keep up w/ my ambitions and dreams? How do I keep all the balls in the air most of the time?

We’ll let me tell you…I wish I had all the answers!

I can only tell you what seems to be working for me this very moment. I’m sitting. I’m breathing in and out slowly. I’m letting my mind wander. I’m looking at my dog in front of me sleeping…snoring. I’m thinking about what makes my heart truly happy. I’m thinking about my crazy little girls…at how my 4 year old lights up when her daddy calls her chunky monkey while riding on his back…and how my almost 20 month old with her feisty energy turns her head and looks at me with the side of her eyes when she’s done something naughty. I’m thinking about how happy I am this very moment…writing…giving love to my soul.

I’m happy to be free. Free to be happy.

I’m in this moment fully.

And because I’m at this place, it’s much easier to tackle the whole of life.

Lesson learned: If a ball falls, pick it up, look at it, then throw up right back up in the air…because life is just too damn short to keep it on the ground for too long.

 

“United States not “Divided States”

It’s been quite the week! I decided to close the Souk in honor of #adaywithoutimmigrants day. I also chose to go a little further and have a silent sit in, in front of the Souk. This was my way of standing up. Standing up for those that feel voiceless.

The sadness to label anyone in our human race as “illegal”. Maybe “un-documented”… but illegal? It’s so easy to put a negative label on another human that we are not directly connected to. “those Mexicans” or “those Muslims” that dare come into our country the “illegal” way…isn’t this how America was built to begin with, long lines on Ellis Island in hopes for a better life? Let’s not forget that most of our ancestors had to lie about their age, their origin or religion to get their papers enabling them to cross into the promised land. Isn’t that what our current Presidents mother did herself? 

Have we stopped to think about what “those people”  were escaping from, or how similar they are to us in ambition and drive for a better life for their children? For us that were born here in America,  how fortunate we are to have been born in the land of the free. Is it fair to call another human being that is striving to get to that same promised land… “Illegal”?

Where is the evidence of the actual threat? Isn’t that what our law calls for… the presumption of innocence before proven otherwise? The total disrespect and indignity aimed towards “those outsiders” shakes me to my very core. Isn’t the beauty of America the melting pot of race, beliefs, & cultures… our differences working for the greater good of humanity? From this diversity itself comes a stronger unity. Unity as human beings… Isn’t that the essence of the name “United States” …not “Divided States” ?

When standing up for what I strongly believe to be right, I did realize that along with the positive energy, there was going to be just as much resistance. That resistance came in the form of discouraging comments, Souk passerby’s nodding their heads in disapproval, and well meaning customer warnings that both of our businesses were going to lose a great deal of clients. Yet, along with the opposition came a greater deal of love and support!

To fully stand up for something you strongly believe in, you have to overcome adversity . Ultimately, if you have the best interest for the world as a whole, then more good will come out of your fight. Let’s take a moment to look back at history lessons from slavery to fascism… and remind ourselves that banning each other based on the color of our skin, origin, or religion, only creates atrocities of humankind. The beauty is in our differences…lets embrace it. On that note can we all agree to disagree respectfully, yet keep a united stand to advance our great nation The “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA”?

With love,
Lenora

Why I Marched…

Hey friends, as you all know, the start of 2017 has been quite the emotional roller coaster. I have personally hit my lowest and my highest points all in the same week. As I watch the news, I question myself over and over…HOW DID WE GET HERE? How is a misogynistic, narcissistic, xenophobic, homophobic, sexist, racist, fascist, deceitful, feckless, egotistical, self-obsessed, inarticulate, insulting, unfit, bigoted megalomaniac running the white house? The moral knitted quilt of our society coming undone in a matter of sloppy seconds. Human rights, women rights, gay rights…how did everything we fought so damn hard for as a society, bite us back in the ass? How did we go from a dynamic leader that had the best interest of America to one that my daughter calls a “not nice” man? Ok, so America, we let ourselves down…how in the heck do we pick ourselves up? And how do we let our frustration and anger turn into action? We’ll enough about disappointment…LET’S DO SOMETHING & LET’S TALK ABOUT THE BEST DAY OF 2017!

Let’s talk about women, marching, positivity, inspiration, standing up, standing tall, action, good vibrations….

I have to tell you January 21st was absolutely one of the best days of my life! I knew I just had to be there to represent with my daughters…but lord did I know what I would end up taking back from this momentous, invigorating occasion. So I packed up my girls and drove out with my friend Cindy to Pershing Square…It seemed like everyone on the 110 was a women heading to the same celebration! When we arrived we were met with the most positive force of energy I’ve never quite experienced on such a large scale. My 4 year old Pash holding up her “The Future is Female” / “Yes We Can” sign touched me in the deepest way. Looking over at the tiny strength in my 15 month old Sura made me grin with pride. As we entered the march, my heart raced, tears welled up, and I thought to myself…THIS IS THE BEAUTY OF IT ALL. That detestable taste in my mouth was overpowered by the sweetest taste of all…the taste of unity. What it really meant to be united. What it felt like to be a true American …THE POWER OF A WOMAN. To march right along my girls was empowering on every level. As a women, fighting for my rights gives me fire in the belly, but to fight for the well being of my daughters, don’t get me started. Fighting for my girls brings out the lion me…DON’T FUCK WITH AN ANGRY MAMA LION. The Women’s March helped me to believe once again that there is more good than ugly in the world. The good in us created this strong moving force that vibrated throughout the universe. We can let it continue to vibrate…we can all march in our own way, everyday. Let’s stand up to bigotry, racism, homophobia, sexism, dishonesty, hate …everything we fight for our kids not to be. Let’s fight for the America that we want our children to grow up in…a wholesome, just, progressive America, with a government working for us…the people. Let’s STAND UP FOR WHAT IS RIGHT…even if fear is staring us in the eye. Enough accepting wrong just because it’s out of our reach, let’s USE OUR VOICE each and every day. CREATE THE WORLD YOU WANT FOR YOUR CHILDREN, TODAY.

So why did I march? I marched for the good in humanity. I marched for my sisterhood. I marched for our daughters. I marched for America.

The Spinach Story!

Yes…spinach it was, that ultimately led to the creation of “Barsha Wines” & “The Souk“, and to our beautiful crazies Pash & Sura!

Spinach, you may ask??? We’ll, let me go back a bit…
9 years ago was the first time Adnen & I met. Do you wanna guess where that magical place was? Las Vegas baby!  And no, unfortunately we didn’t bump magically into each other on the strip with giant matching margarita cups.  We actually met “in the name of food”! (as Dianna Ross would sing it!)

We both got hired at Caesars Palace around the same time. Adnen was to realm the room service kitchen & cook for all of Caesars V.I.P’s who either won big or lost big, first meal or last meal…dun dun dun 😦 (I’m singing this sadly)
I got hired at Restaurant Guy Savoy, one of my dream kitchens!

So we meet at orientation. When I think about it, I do remember his laugh, his funny “break the ice” orientation dance…and him being at the loudest & giggliest table. I recall that when we all went out to eat as a freshmen class at one of the buffets, Adnen brought our whole table a plate of desserts. We also had the deepest conversation about dragon fruit…It’s funny how some things just stick with you…

So yada yada yada, we get into the grind of our own pot banging, french cursing, & sweat dripping kitchens.
It was one eerie afternoon in my kitchen, veal stock quietly bubbling, mirepoix finely dicing, and a spontaneous “allez” echoing off the stainless steel countertops. The sounds of a kitchen realizing that it’s gonna have more covers than it thought. A couple of hours before service, as I’m prepping spinach, I realize that we’re not going to make it through the night. Our calculations are off on in the spinach department. This is one of the best kitchens…you can’t just run out of *%@#. Heart starts pounding…

I think quick & start making my rounds to all the kitchens in Caesars Palace, begging for spinach. Now the task at hand can’t be that difficult…right?
WRONG! It couldn’t just be any old wilted depressed spinach, it had to be the best of the best! This spinach had to be pristine w/ morning dew dispersed on each leaf!!!
I walk fast, then start running from kitchen to kitchen, only to be turned down spinach-less or presented with old sad frumpy spinach. Heart beating faster & faster, I start to lose hope, then out of the side of my eye, I spot this all white clothed figure, w/ the tallest hat I’ve ever seen in my life, moving my direction. Could it be that guy w/ that laugh & that dance, that so happened to be at the loudest table in orientation?
He starts moving toward me in slow motion, I start running toward him, and we collide into each other, (sorry I just made that collide part up, just felt like that should’ve happened)
We recognize each other, say our hey’s, and all I can remember saying was “SPINACH NEED NOW”.
He tries to calm me down, says “Would you like a cappuccino?” (I just said that w/ a macho Italiano barista accent) and takes me into his dome. (walk-in)
LO & BEHOLD! He unleashes the most beautiful-est spinach I have ever seen! I take a deep breath & utter “YOU HAVE BEAUTIFUL SPINACH. Can I marry you? (No, of course I didn’t say can I marry you, but I sure did feel like it at that very moment)

We exchanged info as that was actually his last week. He put in his notice a week ago & was on the cuff of a new adventure. If I didn’t come at that very moment crying for spinach, I would not be sitting here writing this very story. Crazy huh? Our journey together started from that one sporadic moment & has evolved into what it is today.
I’m not going to say everything happens for a reason, but isn’t it insane at how the small random choices we make throughout life can have such a profound effect on our future?

Through-out this amazing journey, we’ve opened up Barsha Wines, stemming from our love of food, wine & hospitality.
This in turn paved the way for us to start our little family & open up our second business “The Souk“.

We are going to celebrate Barsha’s 4th year anniversary tomorrow! I can’t believe it’s been 4 years! Its extremely rewarding to see the fruits of something you’ve worked so hard to build from the ground up. It’s been an amazing journey & we want to thank you, all of our fabulous supporters, for your great energy & continued support.

Cheers & Much Love,
Lenora

 

Who is Lenora?

img_3625Hey Friends,
Let me introduce myself! I am Lenora…a wife, a mother of 2 crazy girls, and an entrepreneur with a mind that runs wild & free. I love love love good food & wine! I also thrive off of good books, poetry, music, art, fashion, & design. I have so much to say…where do I start?
Well, my life as a mother is pretty hectic! I have a crazy haired 3 1/2 year old girl, Pash, and a rambunctious 10 month old girl name Sura! They bring light, fire, and life to my world. They are both strong willed, tenacious, and full of the crazies! I love them to life…I just can’t stop kissing them!
I’m married to Adnen, my best friend & business partner. We met in Las Vegas, the land of dreams & love 😉 as Chefs! We both have a love and fascination for cooking & experiencing culture through food! Together, we have created Barsha Wines ( Wine Bar & Wine Shop ) in Manhattan Beach, which we opened almost 4 years ago. Pash was born a couple of months after, so it’s definitely been a family experience!
We’ve also recently open “The Souk” in Manhattan Beach. A home decor shop featuring artisan products from Tunisia, where my hubby is from! We carry vintage rugs, ceramics, clothing, jewelry, textiles…everything home decor! It’s been such a beautiful journey opening The Souk. To have the opportunity to showcase the artisans of such a well deserving country. Also to feature the women behind such fantastic product…these women behind the weaving, the hand-painting, the labor.
I’m just a women trying to figure life out as I go. I love not knowing the answers to life, but living out the question until I get a bit closer to the answer.
My mind is constantly moving, asking questions, wandering, trying to find purpose.
The feeling I get when feeding my girls till their tummies are bursting is the same feeling I get when I read a great book, listen to a fantastic vinyl…when I’m exposed to a great mind.
I love love love my family, I love being an entrepreneur… I love life!
I’m so excited for you to join me on this adventurous journey!

Peace & Love-
Lenora