If you like this blog…

…then puh-lease vote for it!   This blog is in the running for the Best of Morocco Blogs awards, otherwise know as the Bombies. Voting starts on New Year’s day January 7th over at www.moroccoblogs.com

The main reason I want to win is: it would be nice to keep that bling-y badge over on the right.  Just kidding.  Sort of.

This blog has been such a wonderful way to share my little insights about life in Marrakesh that I already feel like I’ve gotten an immense amount of reward out of it. When I started blogging, my voice was tentative and faltering, not really sure what to say or who was listening.  One of my favorite quotes kept ringing in my ears.  Don’t be paralyzed by your fear of imperfection. So I started, knowing that my blog wouldn’t be the funniest, the deepest or the most gorgeous blog out there.  It would just be the way I filter the world, and that filter has gotten a lot of fine-tuning from blogging.  I started blogging because I found that although there are many English language blogs about Morocco, hardly any of them are written by Moroccans.  I realized that I had the benefit of access to this culture.

And I have stumbled on a real supportive and thoughtful group of readers.  With you listening, I found my voice.  Thank you so much.  I cherish each comment.  I even reply to every 11th one.

This blog has taught me that everyone has a story.   There is never nothing going on. And every story is worth telling, worth considering.  So I wrote about Nezha, el gardien and Chaima’s mom.

This blog…has made a lot of people hungry.  One of my friends says she makes sure she is full before she opens up this page.  You never know when you might find pictures of Seffa, couscous, or all that yummy food I had in Jordan.

When I first started blogging, I did not mention anything explicit about my spiritual path, Islam.  I gave myself a number of good reasons: I’m no expert, I don’t want to limit my audience, religion makes people uncomfortable, and so on.  I actually thought my blog was just going to be funny (humor and cussing seem to be two of the ingredients of blogging success).  But two things happened that made me change my mind.  One was the whole mosque controversy which made me realize how little is known about Islam, and how much hatred and poison there is coming from certain sources.  My own experience as a Muslim has just been so positive, so healing, that I just can’t see the connection between the Islam that I know and have experienced all my life, and this other totally distorted image that I see on certain news channels.

The other thing that gave me the courage to speak was spending two months in the United States this summer (although I’ve spent time and lived in the States before).  This time seemed different.  Maybe it’s just that when you turn 30 you start to be a lot less awkward (which has been just awesome).  I was so comfortable being myself, a Muslim woman, answering various questions that came up.  I even gave a talk/slide-show about this blog  and its various topics, and it went well.  I realized that all the reasons I’d given myself for being quiet were not true: I’m not an expert, but I know enough…my audience will determine itself so no need to try and please everyone…and religion distilled to its essence does not make people uncomfortable, in fact quite the opposite.  So I wrote about the altered state of fasting in Ramadan (my most popular post), praying in the Koutoubia mosque, and the transformative power of charity, which are three of the five pillars of Islam.  (I have not made the pilgrimage, yet!).

What else?  This blog is not really about my kids, but they have slipped in here once in a while.  Karima’s birthday trip to El Jadida, or the letter I wrote to Amin on his fifth birthday.

I wrote about how not make a complete fool of yourself when you’re invited to a Moroccan home.

And my plans to 2011?  I hope to write the famous American women married to Moroccan men article I’ve mulled over so much.  I hope to be a tourist in my own city, and take my kids to all the famous spots: Jardin Majorelle, Medrasa ben Yousef, Bahia palace, etc.  They’ve never been!  In fact I can’t remember the last time I’ve been.  For shame.  I hope to post my secret recipe for how to make cheesecake in Morocco.  I hope to write an article on Moroccan proverbs and what they reveal about the culture, like this one: entering the hammam is not the same as leaving it.  I hope to slip in an article about Yousef, my little 3 year old, just to be fair.  And I hope that my readers (sounds so pretentious, sorry) will send me awesome suggestions for what to write about!

To recap: vote for this blog in www.moroccoblogs.com starting January 1st.  Spread the word.  I’ll remind you on January 1st, oh don’t you worry.

Also, let’s hear your New Year’s resolutions.  Here’s one of mine: Spend more time cloud-watching.