2013 An Interesting Year!

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I always get excited when I get the tweet from Lizzi at Considerings to participate in the Ten Things Of Thankful. This time, it’s the Not Ten, but Twelve Things of Thankful. I thought I couldn’t remember what I’ve done throughout the year but what the heck, I’ll give it a shot and see what I come up with.

As I recaped 2013 month by month, my mood got darker. I got off my desktop and got a 12- pack of Ferroro Rocher chocolates. I ate 6 of them with a Diet Coke before I wrote my second paragraph.
I’m thankful for everything that’s happened in 2013 because each moment taught me an important lesson. Although I still don’t know what the lesson is, I’m sure that time will explain and I’ll make sure to blog about it.


Hadi’s the one with the curly hair. Mike is in the middle and Steve

January- It all started in March 2012 when 3 of my cousins got set up by the government with the help of my other cousin, Moe the Snitch, drug dealer and addict. Cousin Mike went from having built an empire in a 20 year period to sitting in an 8 by 8 cell with 3 other cellmates. Accused of terrorism, being a Drug King Pin, and money laundering which the government created by having Moe the Snitch beg and plead Mike for help for family’s sake. After several attempts of begging and pleading to help family and six years of investigation and waste of taxpayers money, they succeded in charging Mike, Steve and Hadi (all brothers) with money laundering. On January 25, 2013, Cousin Mike was sentenced to 12 years 8 months in federal prison for money laundering. Hadi was sentenced to 5 years and Steve took a plea deal of one year, one day and deportation. Devastation beyond words. Our family torn apart. Did I mention that the government paid Moe the Snitch $4000 per month for over 6 years plus many little perks to help set his family up?
I’m thankful that the attorneys believed strongly in my cousins and put up a great fight.
I’m also thankful that you don’t have a “Cousin Moe”.

February- My husband and me celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary. When he said “I do till death do us part”, he had no idea I would be blind siding him like an out of control tornado.

I also filed a civil lawsuit against Steve’s Power Of Attorney and supposedly best friend for not acting on Steve’s best interest, stealing all his property, business and bank accounts. POA also conspired with Real Estate Broker and buyer on the sale of Steve’s home. Little did they know that not only Steve had a cousin who lived 3 hours away named Manal, The Go Go Girl but The Go Go Girl owns a Real Estate company and would soon uncover their scams. Even though, Steve lost everything he owned, I’m thankful that the scammers know now that they will not get away with what they’ve done.

March- We adopted a rescue dog. Frankie was a mean and ill behaved dog. Soon enough, Frankie’s behaviour changed when he realized that we’re not going to hurt him. He’s now a sweet dog for the most part and a great addition to our family.


My son Sami with Frankie..I’ve never seen a dog that loves to hug.

I became obsessed with the research of the lawsuit as I discovered more scams with the sale of my cousin’s home. I was now suing the POA, Broker, Realty company and Buyer. It had been a rough year since March 2012. I was getting little sleep and my weight dropped from 116 pounds to 94 pounds. Yes, my family and friends were concerned. I broke down in the attorney’s office and refused to acknowledge that I can’t afford to continue with the lawsuit physically or financially. Our attorney, Mr. John Blazier’s exact words to my husband and me, “Go home and think about it. You’ve been through enough. Drop it all and take care of yourself and your beautiful family”. I became angry, I cried with so much pain and anger, “NO. STOP TELLING ME TO DROP IT. These boys lost everything and were betrayed by their friends and family. I will not let anyone else hurt them.” Mr. Blazier continued with the case and brought in his top notch “Trial Lawyer”, Justin Welch. Go Go Justin!
I’m thankful for Mr. John Blazier’s kind words and compassion when I needed it most. Few days later, I called him and thanked him. Mr. Blazier was my angel.

April- Cousin Hadi reported to Georgia to start his five year sentence. He left behind his devastated wife and 7 months old baby boy. He was the “Go to” person for moral support and plan discussions. It was too painful for me to say goodbye in person so I opted for a phone call. I miss him so much. I’m thankful that he calls me often and I can still hear his voice.


Birthday celebrations the night before the MS 150

We celebrated my husband’s 51st birthday and my son, Daniel’s 20th birthday the night before they both took off for the much anticipated bike ride from Houston to Austin. The MS 150. I’m so proud of both of them for completing the 150 mile ride two years in a row. YAY!

May- I’m thankful for my friend, Abla Amin. I sent her a text: “Road trip tomorrow. Lunch is on me.” She replied, “OK”. We traveled 4.5 hours to surprise cousin Steve for his 40th birthday. He was in the Immigration Detention Center awaiting deportation. The soft look on his face and the tears that filled his blue eyes said it all. He was happy and surprised to see us. We were allowed an hour visit.

My daughter, Mariana got accepted to the University Of Houston in the Kinesiology program. YAY!!

June- Mariana graduated from High School and we had never ending celebrations.


Mariana’s high school graduation day

I finally got the phone call. It was Steve. He was in New York and was GOING HOME. Bitter sweet. He’s leaving to start a new life but the pain of leaving his brothers behind with so much uncertainty was overwhelming. I’m thankful that his ordeal is over.

July- I was given few days notice to pack up and move Mike’s fully furnished Condo. At last, I was able to protect his property. The same day, I got a message that my dear friend Lisa was in a horrible boating accident. I’m thankful that she survived and I pray for her full recovery every day.

August- We took a vacation to Morocco and toured 4 beautiful cities in 8 days. We had a fantastic time!


So much fun with the family in Marrakesh, Morocco.

Mariana started her first year in college at the University of Houston and Daniel started his Junior year in college at Texas A&M. Sami started 8th grade. I’m so proud of all their accomplishments. I’m blessed with great kids.

September- I went to Lebanon to visit my parents. Despite the war threats and the political instability, I managed to play tourist and bond with the Lebanese Military and UN Officers. I loved being at my parents home. They spoiled me with home cooked meals and so many sweets.  A week after I arrived to Lebanon, my youngest brother, Anthony surprised my parents. He showed up at their front door from San Diego, CA. My mother screamed!! It was the best thing to witness.  Sure was hard saying goodbye to them.


My daddy and me in our hometown. Nabatieh, Lebanon- August 2013

October- Cousin Mike was moved from the Hell Hole jail (county jail) he was in to Club Fed. Still couple of hours away from me. The only sunshine he had seen in 19 months was the transportation to the courthouse and back and that was rare. Once he got to the new facility, he ran the track, soaked in the sun for hours at a time among many other things that we take for granted on day to day including listening to music. I was so thankful to hear his voice again the day after his transfer. He sounded so happy and had to rush off the phone so he can be outside again.
I started my blog, Manal The Go Go Girl. My people say I’m always on the Go so thanks to my friends Benny Matthews and Chris Hernandez, it was decided that I would be The Go Go Girl.

November- I wrote a post about Kyle Wilks, a Marine who helped us get out of Beirut, Lebanon during 2006 war in hopes of finding him to thank him. I later found out from my friend and former Marine, Chris Hernandez, that he was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2008. I’m thankful that I was able to connect and share our story with Kyle’s family and friends. Kyle will forever be in our lives.


Kyle Wilks with Daniel, Mariana & Sami. Beirut, Lebanon 2006

December- Mariana passed her Biology class, YAY!! It was a struggle for her and a major stressor in her college life. She got to fly to California to be with my sister, aunt and cousins for the holidays.
I started the First Annual Kyle Wilks Marine Toys For Tots drive. We raised $1,125 and I’m looking forward to raising more money for kids each year.

In 2013, I averaged 2 to 3 trips from Houston to Austin per week (3 hour drive one way) despite my busiest year in my real estate career. God knew what I needed. I am so thankful.

I’m thankful that God gave me the strength to fight my cousins’ greedy attorneys and rotten so called friends. I developed quite the reputation in Austin.

I’m thankful for the friends that stuck by me and supported me and for the new friends I met in Austin. I will never forget your generosity and kind words.

I’m thankful for the friends that chose to walk away from me because they didn’t want the association or I was too busy to return a phone call. I don’t blame you. You made me stronger.

I’m thankful for my friend Abla Amin who spent days and nights helping me pack up and put away my cousins belongings. There were so many late nights where I would just stare at her because I was too exhausted or emotional to continue packing. She would say, “sit down, I’ll do it.”

I’m thankful for my friends Lisa Martens and Dr. Yvonne Habet who left their families to take the road trips with me to visit my cousins and give them words of encouragement.

Most of all, I’m thankful for my sweet children and for my husband for backing me up 100% and allowing me to do what I needed to do. I’m now at 104 pounds and looking much healthier. I ride my bike and do Yoga.

May 2014 bring you much happiness, peace and most of all good health!
Cheers for a brighter year!


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  1. Manal, you’ve had such a tough year, and I’m hugely honoured that you’ve chosen to look back, find the Thankfuls and link up with us. I’m glad you’ve come through it still able to see the Good Things, and I hope and pray that 2014 will bring you peace, happiness and resolution. Many hugs to you.
    Considerer recently posted…Shaking the dust of 2013 from my shoesMy Profile

    • Go Go Girl says:

      I am honored to have found you and the perfect blogger group who are mentors, therapists and cheerleaders for one another. I feel blessed and I wish you everything that you’re waiting for in 2014. You continue to be in my heart and prayers daily :)

  2. Wow, Manal. I don’t even know what to say. Seeing as how I’ve only recently begun to know you, I had no idea any of this had been going on. Just…wow. You are one tough cookie.
    christine recently posted…Joy Gets NosyMy Profile

    • Go Go Girl says:

      Thank you Christine for reading my post. I still can’t believe that I’m living something like this but I have to keep going strong because I’m all they’ve got. I look forward to following your blog :)

  3. What a year! I hope 2014 sees some dreams come true for you!

  4. I am thankful that the year is finally over, and your bright smile is shining again.
    Lilas Taha recently posted…Shadows of Damascus Cover ReleaseMy Profile

  5. Manoul, You are one of a kind !!!!! You continue to be an inspiration to us despite all your unusual challenging 2013 events. You also managed to overcome and be the angle who COMFORTS & HELP all around you.

    We are so proud of you !!! Go, go Manal

    Happy New Year to you and your beautiful family :)

    • Go Go Girl says:

      I couldn’t have done it without you! As simple as that. Happy New Year to you and the family. Kisses:)

  6. Ops, I meant the angel ( 3rd line) , sorry for the spelling mistake !!!

  7. Marvella Weston Highley says:

    Dear Manal,

    I enjoyed reading your blog and getting a chance to know you better. The strength and courage you have shown for your family is an inspiration to all and I admire the efforts you have made with the battles you have fought for justice for your cousins. Your children have a wonderful role model in all you do for others both family and friends. As far as the “friends” who chose to walk away from you for varies reasons, it is their loss but the new friends you have gained are far more worthy of your friendship with the sacrifices you have made on others behalf. The outreach for children you started in honor of cpl. Kyle Weston Wilks has touched our family deeply and I know your efforts for the “Toys for Tots” fund raiser will grow bigger each year. Kyle would be so proud of what you are doing in his memory. I pray that the New Year will be one filled with many wonderful Blessings for you and your family. You are in my prayers and I “Thank You” for sharing your life with each of us. May God Bless you always. Sincerely, your friend, Marvella

    • Go Go Girl says:

      Thank you for taking the time to read and leave such a beautiful comment of support and encouragement. I truly need it and I’m so blessed to have found you and the Wilks family. I feel as if I’ve known you forever. Sending you lots of hugs and kisses.

  8. Oh Manal! You are such an incredible warrior and victor and passionate soul! I am so deeply honored to be your friend. You amaze me with all you have endured and survived this year… and your perseverence and undying WILL is an inspiration to us all.

    You are a woman of integrity. A woman of morality. And most of all, a woman that has enough bold stamina to withstand adversity that would make any mortal crumble. You are simply amazing.
    Chris Carter recently posted…Devotional Diary: The Gift You Give To GodMy Profile

    • Go Go Girl says:

      Oh Chris!! I love you and your inspirational words. You gave me more strength to keep on fighting. I will keep your words with me while I go back to court this month. Huge hugs.

  9. Oh my gsh, Manal. I had no idea you and your family were going through all of this pain. You always put on such a strong front! I’m so glad the hard times were punctuated by such happy ones. I hope this year brings you and your family many more of those happy times!

    • Go Go Girl says:


      As much as I want to fall apart and scream, I have to stay positive and strong. They count on me to lift their spirits. I’m looking forward to 2014, something has got to give :) Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. You continue to be my inspiration to write, write, write. Happy New Year!

  10. I am so thankful for you! Much love & tears frome to you!!

  11. Patty Newton says:

    Hi Manal,
    WOW, what a CRAZY year you had!! I hope 2014 is filled with joy and happiness.

    • Go Go Girl says:


      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. It means so much to me. Happy New Year to you and the family as well!

  12. Wow, what a year. I’m so impressed that you’ve found the time and the strength to be thankful, and that you’ve found such love and support from key friends and family. It’s unbelievable that the government was able to get away with framing the innocent and so frustrating! I wish you a joyous and peaceful 2014.
    Kristi Campbell recently posted…Thankfulness Over the Holiday & a 2013 ReviewMy Profile

    • Go Go Girl says:

      Thank you so much for your kind words. After doing much research, I found out that it is common practice for the government to set up people. It is very frustrating and there’s not a darn thing anyone can do about it but pray. Happy New Year to you, your husband and beautiful Tucker! Love your blog:)

  13. Manal,
    You were not kidding! Great summary for a somewhat off year – God’s making all the right moves in His time – and even better responses proving what a great write up it was! The family photos were the best part for me though so I get why you want to print it out now …he’ll love it! Beautiful family and even better smiles.
    2014 is finally here! Put your seatbelt on :)

  14. What a year you had! I look forward to reading more from you in 2014. And I, too, have a dog that likes to give hugs :)
    Jennifer Kaufman recently posted…Top Posts of 2013My Profile

    • Go Go Girl says:

      I’m looking forward to 2014. A lot of good things are happening and will make sure to blog about it. Thanks for your support:)

  15. What a year you’ve had. My heart aches for you.. I’m wishing you and your family the happiest of New Year’s. A New Year filled with much love, health, peace, joy and prosperity.. May all the good this world has to offer find it’s way to your door step! That is my wish for YOU. :) For all of the sorrow you have endured you have had moments to be proud of.. Your children.. Your husband.. Your parents.. You are blessed. :)
    Stopping by from Bloppy Bloggers.

    • Go Go Girl says:

      You have no idea how much your words mean to me..The timing is just perfect. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment..I was starting to feel overwhelmed about blogging but the friendships and the support is amazing. Hugs.

  16. Whew. That was quite a read– what a crazy year for you and your family. That is so awful to hear about your cousins. I can’t imagine how much deeper the story must go than what you’ve given us and they are clearly lucky to have someone in their corner who would go to such great lengths to fight for them. Despite these darker things, it looks like your family is healthy and happy– definitely so much to be thankful for. I hope that 2014 brings less chaos and long commutes and more of the good stuff :)
    Aussa Lorens recently posted…Sexting: That Time I Took Nude PicsMy Profile

    • Go Go Girl says:

      Thanks Aussa! I CANNOT wait till I’m able to talk about the whole story. We’re expecting a lot of good things to happen in 2014 and I look forward to sharing with all of my blogging family :) Hey, and if you have any trouble with your a-hole ex, I have some experience kicking ass, lol..

  17. I had to read the first part of this post twice. I couldn’t comprehend what I was reading at first. Wow, what a story. And you are living it! What courage and determination you have. Thank goodness your children are thriving and you have a supportive husband and friends. Wishing you joy in 2014, Manal!
    Kimberly H. Smith recently posted…Rotini Pasta Bake (Rigged)My Profile

    • Go Go Girl says:

      I still feel like I’m in a fog but we’ve come a long way. I still have a lot to be thankful for. One day, I would love to tell the whole story. Thanks for reading and well wishes! Can’t wait to make your seafood Gumbo!

  18. Manal,
    I’m reading this with my mouth agape. I’m just getting to know you and had NO idea what you’d gone through in 2013! I must tell you I’m amazed by your strength, and your cousins and family are incredibly lucky to have someone like you on their side, fighting the battles they can not. You are such a warrior.

    Congrats on all the wonderfulness in this post, too! That MS 150 sounds really cool! My husband is a mountain biker and triathlete; that race sounds right up his alley! I’m in Texas, too (N. Texas) and I have family in both Austin and Houston. Love those areas. Didn’t realize you were so close to me!
    Beth Teliho recently posted…What Do Women REALLY want?My Profile

    • Go Go Girl says:

      Well then, you have to let me know when you’ll be in town so we can have a little visit/coffee.
      The cousins deal is pretty tough but we’re hoping that the appeal will bring us great news in 2014. We just bought my 14 year old a bike and he’s going to start training for the MS150..so exciting :) Thank you so much for taking the time to read. Hugs!

  19. I actually can relate to much of what you’ve gone through and tho it may sound disingenuous, be thankful you didn’t go through it alone. Your family is lucky to have you as I’m sure you know you are to have them. God Bless.

  20. An interesting year to say the least, Manal. Your cousins are lucky to have you in their corner; I’m sorry for all that they are going through. May 2014 be a more peaceful year – enjoy your beautiful family and stay healthy!
    Dana recently posted…As if I’d actually ever win the lotteryMy Profile

  21. Manal, I cannot even think of where to start here. What a year! So much sadness but mixed with things to be thankful for and it’s such a testament to you (and your family) that you can muddle through to find the good in these trials. You have definitely earned your title as The Go Go Girl simply on this post alone. I look forward to seeing you at TToT again and again!
    Sandy Ramsey recently posted…Ten Things of Thankful: New Girl EditionMy Profile

    • Go Go Girl says:

      Thanks Sandy! I’m just glad most of it is behind me. I’m so excited about you co-hosting TToT. I’m fairly new to it and I’m loving it.

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