(So)(Co) Sit Down with Zena Hanna

Zena and I worked together on the client loyalty team at Buddy Media (acquired by Salesforce). The backs of our rolling chairs bumped into one another all day as we shared our love for music and mediterranean food,  in between responding to clients needs. Over the years and numerous job changes, we remained close friends. Earlier this year, Zena invited me to MediClub which has certainly brought us together as meditators as well as aspiring authors. Zena has played a huge role in getting me to write more often, share my story (being vulnerable!) and I look forward to hopefully taking a writing class together this fall. She's one of the most self-aware people that I know and it's an incredible trait to have. She's excited about life and all that it has to offer and her energy surrounding potential opportunities is contagious. 



How do you spend your days?

I work full-time as a digital strategist at a boutique creative and media agency, so most of my days are spent in my office. Ideally, my work day ends at 6pm, followed by a yoga class, a cooked meal at home, and an early bedtime after having a good read. Am I old?

What are three things you are grateful for?

Well to narrow this down to only three things is tough, but I will do my best.

 I live alone, and every day when I get home I thank God that I have my own place. It’s my personal sanctuary that brings me so much peace.

My family, particularly my mom with with whom I get closer to every year I grow up.

Financial stability. I was in a place last year where I had almost nothing, and that puts a lot into perspective.

Explain your lifestyle in 5 words or less.

Carefree, spontaneous, heartfelt, active, open.

If you were to attend a potluck dinner, would would you bring?

Hummus, OBVIOUSLY! I would never eat or bring that Sabra garbage.

If you could gift everyone you meet with one book, what would it be and why?

I've gifted a lot of friends The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz because it was a book that changed my life. But, I also really enjoy sharing The Art of Power by Thich Nhat Hanh. It teaches you that you are much more in control of your life than you think (something I have to constantly remind myself).

What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

Put on a pot of coffee and play music.

If you could change one thing in your daily routine, what would it be? What would it take for you to make that change?

I would wake up earlier, but I am a terrible sleeper, so mornings have always been tough for me. I have practiced everything I possibly could to sleep better, and sometimes it works, but for the most part, mornings are a wretched time.

What does being healthy mean to you?

Balance. I had a conversation today with a friend of mine about "rewarding" ourselves when we think we deserve a treat (i.e., ice cream, wine, pizza, etc.), but in reality, these indulgences are a punishment. To me, a balanced life means no extremes. Regular exercise, non-restricting (but regimented) diet, meditation, work/life balance, and honesty with myself/others - that's how to keep a healthy lifestyle. It's a practice that I perennially work towards.

Have you ever been faced with health concerns that pushed you to change your lifestyle?

As I mentioned, I am a terrible sleeper and this is due to anxiety, which can be debilitating at times. I hate to admit to it, but my life has been plagued with this for as long as I can remember. It came to a point where anxiety attacks were an automatic response and a normal way of functioning.  How could someone sleep when their heart always feels like it's about to burst?

I have come to realize healthier ways of living with my anxiety, and I've practiced how to become a calmer person in both action and reaction. The changes and additions I have made include writing daily, meditation, diet, yoga, and more. I never resorted to anti-anxiety medicine, because I did not want to mask my symptoms with a quick-fix (though it may have helped me at certain times). I have always had a fear of losing my way from medicine, so I keep a more holistic approach to my healing.

What song can immediately change your mood in the best way possible?

Ben Howard - Old Pine (It's my #1 travel song and gives me chills every time I hear it)

What is one piece of advice someone has given you that shifted your way of thinking?

A dear friend of mine sent me a video from this life guru while I was down about being single, and it shifted my perspective on my idea of a companion.

The guru's student had asked him what to do when he is unhappily single, lonely and longing for a companion, and the guru replied, "Don't look for someone to complete you, but rather, look for someone who compliments you".

I watched the video countless times, fast-forwarding to this line, letting those words really resonate with me. My mood and perspective completely shifted and I felt a sigh of relief. I was looking for the wrong idea of a person all along. Great video. Watch it here.

What article of clothing/outfit do you feel most empowered wearing?

A properly fitted high-waisted a-line skirt, fitted shirt, and a beautiful pair of heels. If I had a uniform, it would be this. I was born in the wrong era.

Complete this sentence: "In order to be happy, I need to..."

Travel more.

What do you have going on in your life that you'd like to share with the (So)(Co) Community? 

I am working on working on a book. I have led a relatively private life, outside of vacation photos or family vacations, and I am almost ready to open up to the world in a big way. My greatest passion in life is writing, and I hope to one day write and share my memoir.

Other than that, I am happy at my agency, which has global clients that generally center around Italian heritage luxury brands. Everyday I work with world-leading iconic brands, and it's so much fun for me.

After working in the digital space in New York City for over five years, I decided to pack up and see the world by taking a backpacking trip through Central America. In my time traveling, I gained innumerable lessons that cannot be taught in a office. I've since returned and started working at a small, boutique global creative agency as a digital strategist, where I work with world-renowned luxury brands. 

Outside of the office, I work daily to conquer my fears and center myself. One way of practicing this is by doing what I love most: writing. I've taken a writing class, and have signed up for more to continue mastering a craft that I cannot live without.

Twitter // Instagram // Tumblr