The Pursuit of Happiness

25 Nov 2011

What lifts your mood? Here, nine UAE women reveal all

‘Dancing makes my spirit feel free’
Liris Mosquera, 37, Professional Dancer
“Dancing is in my genes. In Colombia where I’m from, the warm tropical climate means passionate people and dancing is in our culture and our blood. My grandmother was a dancer too, and I’ve been involved in performance groups since I was in primary school. It’s the best thing to make my spirit feel free – when I move, the world disappears and it’s just me using my body to express the way I feel. For dancers, our body language speaks for us. It makes me feel like I’m flying, liberated and beautiful. It’s pure release.”

‘My dream is to have my own garden with my own produce’
Kamelia Bin Zaal, 36, Creative Landscape Director
“I’m happiest when I’m outside. Growing up, my dad and grandfather were always in the garden and I was constantly with them, checking on tomatoes in the greenhouse. One of my dreams is to have my own garden with my own produce someday – I’ll be self-sufficient with my own fruit and vegetables all year round. As I Iove being in the great outdoors I also go on treks with Gulf for Good. They organise tours all over the world for charity and it’s amazing to be a part of that – making it to the top of a mountain leaves me elated with a huge sense of achievement. It’s so peaceful up there, not to mention breathtaking.”

‘When I’m measuring out chocolate chips the world melts away'
Yi-Hwa Hanna, 26, Journalist
“Food is one of the greatest shared passions in my family – I even published a cookbook just for us, to preserve our secret recipes for future generations. I love cooking in general, but baking is my forte. When I’m busy measuring out fl our and chocolate chips the world melts away and it’s just me in my kitchen. It helps me unwind, while decorating my desserts unleashes my creativity. My favourite part is seeing my friends’ smiling faces when they eat the things I’ve baked – it’s the best reward!”

‘They love me simply because I am mama’
Lena ter Laare, 35, Editor
“Joy begets joy. This is the biggest and most wonderful lesson I’ve learned since becoming a parent. My boys, Zander and Sebastian, don’t care about my university degree, my dog-eared passport or my ability to hit any deadline. They love me simply because I am mama, and they know to the very depths of their little souls that I love them with everything I have. Our love is limitless, and with that kind of magic pure happiness is the obvious consequence!”

‘When I’m in cosplay, I feel powerful’
Diana Santos aka “Erza Scarlet”, 26, President and Founder of the Dubai Anime Club
“I’ve been watching anime since I was five years old; I just grew up with it as a huge part of my life. I identify with characters from my favourite shows, and making them come alive through cosplay also makes me feel very true to myself – it brings me such joy. Sometimes I make my outfits from scratch, but I often order them custommade from Japan or Hong Kong and I’m happy to spend money on them. When I’m in cosplay, I feel powerful. I put on that costume and I transform.”

‘I can’t imagine living a life without brushes and canvases’
Ishtar Al Shaybani, 28, Fine Artist
“I started painting and drawing when I was five and even then my parents knew my work was something special. Their encouragement helped me realise who I am, and I refuse to be anything other than an artist – I feel like I was born with it. I can’t imagine ever living a life not filled with brushes and canvases. Inspiration is everywhere to me and when I paint, the canvas reflects my emotions. Someday, I dream of combining my art with fashion so I’m now also studying fashion design at ESMOD. When I was younger, I ached to design clothes every time I watched fashion shows and I know I’ll make it happen.”

‘Harmonies give me butterflies in my stomach’
Noush Like Sploosh, 27, Transmedia Artist
“I’ve always been a very passionate listener and almost inappropriately enthusiastic dancer. It was a pretty astounding moment when I played my first solo gig and realised that people would listen to sounds I’d created. I choose my music depending on my mood: I like listening to hard tunes when I’ve got to concentrate because they stimulate adrenalin in my body, but then I prefer the timbre of acoustic pianos when I’m down because it’s more gentle and soothing. Ultimately, I love how music affects me physiologically. Melodies create a buzz in my head, harmonies give me butterflies in my stomach and you can’t beat a firey rhythm to bring out goosebumps.”

‘When I get home, all Monty wants to do is cuddle’
Christine Marie O’Reilly, 30, Receptionist
“Monty’s a weird cat and that only makes me love him more – he plays fetch and loves to sleep in confined spaces like bags and suitcases. He’ll do anything for food; his favourite is pineapple yoghurt and when he stands on his back paws to lick the spoon, he looks like a bear. I miss him so much when I travel that I’ll Skype with whoever’s cat-sitting just so I can see him. When I get home, all he wants to do is cuddle and who is not going to be cheered up by the prospect of that?”

‘Being out on the sea and smelling the salty air feels like home’
Rell Taylor, 34, Flight Attendant
“When I was 18, I just woke up one day and decided to take a surf lesson. I was hooked after my first time. I’ve surfed all over the world and having Surf Dubai here is great – not many people know you can surf here, and it’s a good progression for the city. Being out on the sea and smelling the salty air feels like home. I’ve always loved the ocean and feel like I have an affinity with it. To this day, every time I get a wave I’ll come up grinning from ear to ear, just waiting to paddle back out and get another one. Surfing is a lifestyle – it’s not just something you do, it’s who you are.”