Embracing My Inner Escape Artist.

Via Lubna
on Jul 21, 2011
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Escapology (n) : the practice of escaping from restraints or other confinement

Shackles. That’s what I’ve known in life. Not the physical ones made of metal, but the emotional and psychological ones that silently cripple you. I was born into a life that didn’t even give you standing room before you hit the glass ceiling.  Your sole purpose in life was to be a wife and bear children. Without these two achievements, your life was not complete. You could have every degree in the world, every award under the sun, and all the money in the world; none of it would matter. You are nothing more than your marital status. I rejected this so, by definition, I was a rebel.

As a precocious child, I realized I had to spend my life energy trying to lift this glass ceiling. I had dreams of college. I was poised for UC Berkeley and Stanford.  God had other plans for me and my six other siblings though, and, at the age of 14, my parents decided to relocate to Amman, Jordan.

My dreams shattered into a thousand little pieces before my eyes over the course of the next few years. By the time I was of college age, two of my sisters had already been married off, one older and one younger, both by the age of 17.  Because of a language barrier, my choice of studies was limited. I enrolled in a local Jordanian university and chose my major as Computer Engineering, unfortunately to the chagrin of my father.  “Women do not study engineering,” he said, “Women study Pharmacology or English Lit?” A fight ensued, yet I stuck to my guns.

I can’t say I didn’t try to fit in.  Two failed arranged betrothals later, the pressure to marry and the ridicule for my single status was even greater.  I was 23 and I was holding up the production line; there were still two younger sisters to be married. “What are you going to do with this Engineering degree, engineer the kitchen?”, my uncle would say, “Get yourself a husband.”  Education for women was considered a luxury and what a woman does to pass the time until she finds a suitable husband.

Amidst all this, I managed to graduate top of my class.  Neither of my parents were there to attend the graduation, unfortunately, but I had achieved my dream of a college degree. I was the first woman in the family to get a college education: the only engineer in the entire extended family, including the men.  I set out into the corporate world with a vengeance. Within a year, I had a very successful career in the booming internet and software business, hobnobbing in the elite social circles of Amman. This would have all been great, had I not been living a lie.

The glass ceiling was crushing me.  The day came when my dad went to my work and asked my CEO to give him my paychecks so they could keep an eye on my earnings. I could see now how the shackles would get tighter and tighter.  I knew I could not last. True to form, on March 3, 2002, after a series of unfortunate events, I ceased to call Amman my home.  I had managed to save enough for a one-way ticket to the United States with $500 left over.  Quite an amazing feat considering Jordan’s annual average per capita income is $1,525.17.  With nothing but my small suitcase of meager belongings and my college degree, I arrived in California to start over.

Operation: Escape Betrothal…Success.

Yoga: My Saving Grace

Seven years later, after starting off in the aftermath of the dotcom bubble, I found myself shackled again only this time as a Vice President of Marketing. The glass ceiling was back to haunt me. This time even though I managed to get all 6 feet of me underneath it, my health had began to fail. I suffered from chronic fatigue, debilitating anxiety attacks, and agoraphobia. After countless doctors and specialists and a drastic 47 lb weight loss, I was told my symptoms were psychosomatic, diagnosed with fibromyalgia, and offered a plethora of prescriptions. I felt a very strong urge to avoid any meds for as long as I could and decided to take matters of my health into my own hands. My entire focus became about healing my mind-body-spirit imbalance.

Through a series of fortunate events, I found myself in a Kundalini Yoga class.  I dove into my spiritual practice as I believed it would save my life. It did. However, I had lost the motivation to save my career. My yoga and meditation practice had opened me up to life and all the creative expression bottled up inside me.   I had started making jewelry on the side.  I soon found just how disposable I was at my job and, after attempting to salvage the remains of my career briefly, I walked away with what was left of my dignity and a mountain of debt to lick my wounds.

Operation: Escape Corporate Life …. SUCCESS

Shakti, The Great Divine Mother, opened her doors to me. I was filled with creative feminine power and it gave me purpose.

Shackles be damned. I embraced the Escape Artist in me and built the House of Shakti from the ground up.

Operation: Heal Mind-Body-Spirit Connection…In Progress.

What is an Escape Artist to me?

One who starts off life with a Rebel Yell and hopes to end with a ‘Namaste’.



About Lubna

Lubna was born in the US to Palestinian immigrants. She is the founder of House of Shakti Jewelry. All of their jewelry and malas are designed for healing and empowerment, and handmade with love in the USA. Through her life and travels to the Middle East and India, Lubna saw first-hand much injustice, especially towards women. She felt there was a need to bridge the gap between the East and West so that women could unite and learn from each other to create positive change in their lives. Lubna currently resides in Los Angeles, CA. You can read more of her musings at Shakti Shares the Love and on Twitter: @HouseOfShakti. You can also find her on Facebook: facebook.com/HouseOfShakti facebook.com/shaktisalah


29 Responses to “Embracing My Inner Escape Artist.”

  1. Varaneka says:

    I love this article, and I love Lubna Salah!

  2. houseofshakti says:

    Thank you Varaneka. I love you too. <3

  3. Great article, great story. Thank you.

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Bob W. Yoga Editor
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  4. <3 Beautiful! Sending you all the love in the world.

  5. William Price says:

    Jai Shakti Ma. Beautiful expression of positive feminine power. Thank you.

  6. Rhonda Leigh says:

    wonderful article!

  7. You have expressed simply but deeply the overcoming of a struggle that many, many women do not get out from under. Thank you for honoring your spark and for connecting to it by any means necessary. in peace, ~Temple

  8. Thank you so much Bob. I am really happy to have the opportunity to share this story on Elephant Journal.

  9. Thank you. Sending <3 to you and yours.

  10. I had no choice but to honor my spark. My quest for freedom was driven by that spark…

    "Give me liberty or give me death." – Patrick Henry

  11. tanya lee markul says:

    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

  12. Edie says:

    On so many levels I can relate, yet our experiences are very different. I am an engineer and my rebel yell, is just beginning. As a mother, a successful professional, I wonder where the balance comes in. How I bring what I have on my mat to the rest of my world. I admire your strength and hopefully the path dill open before me and I'll have the courage to follow it.

  13. Sasha says:

    What an incredible story. Thank you so much for sharing.

  14. Thank you Tanya.

  15. Edie, I admire you for having mother on your list of achievements. It makes the balancing act even harder perhaps. The path presents itself every day in different forms. Your heart knows the way…follow it. That takes courage. I am still figuring my life out but it has been a process of letting go of outdated, self-limiting beliefs. Sending love. Namaste.

  16. Thank you for reading.

  17. integralhack says:

    Amazing story, Lubna. As a father with a 15-year-old daughter, I will ask her to read this. She has few of the same "shackles," as you might guess, but is always complaining about not having enough "freedom." I appreciate that you touched on the shackles that are sometimes self imposed but are attached to culture: the economic and religious shackles in particular. Congratulations to the House of Shakti!

  18. tanya lee markul says:

    Just posted to "Popular Lately" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

  19. Laura says:

    Beautiful and very inspiring. Thank you very much. May you, and everyone dealing with these shackles, whatever the expectations and oppressions are, continuously be blessed on your and their paths.

  20. It is better to give your daughters some freedom than none at all. When I was finally granted my "freedom", I didn't know what to do with it for years. I attribute it to age and lack of guidance but it is probably also just my karma as I believe most shackles are karma for us to overcome. Thank you so much and I wish you the best with your daughter.

  21. Thank you for your blessings Laura.

  22. […] before she gets through 40oz of malt liquor. They gave us beer that twenty year old guys could afford and fifteen year old girls couldn’t. My friends started flirting and I wandered back outside. I […]

  23. […] So proud to have had my “Embracing My Inner Escape Artist” article published on Elephant Journal. […]

  24. raghubir says:

    Lubna- such an inspiring and well written, impassioned article!!!!!! Kundalini Yoga is SO powerful because it DOES and CAN transform any and all lives for the better. For years I was praying for protection…and Kundalini Yoga gave me the insight to pray for Strength instead. The rest is history!!!!!!! much love to you!

  25. Thank you Raghubir. Kundalini Yoga definitely is powerful and taught me so much. Much love to you!

  26. Lubna's passion sparkles.

  27. Efi says:

    Thanks for sharing your great and inspiring story believing, in youself and breaking the chains. The power is within you!!

    Love you page, God Bless.