“Touching the nose means no” from The Secret Language of Birthdays by Gary Goldschneider & Joost Elffers

Maha Shouman by ©Aaron McCullough

Maha and I had gone back and fourth for awhile trying to set a date. Being both busy people it took us a few months to nail one down. She was saying how nervous she was but you couldn’t tell once I started shooting. She appeared on the outside, at least, very calm and relaxed and I believe this comes across in her photograph. Maha was very soft spoken and her energy very soothing. She was a treat to have in the studio. – Aaron M

Image © Aaron McCullough

An Interview with Maha

Q. What is your best memory/moment from one of your past birthdays?

A. Last year one of my closest friends texted me the day before my birthday and told me that his girlfriend of two years wouldn’t be able to make it to my birthday get together, but that he would still make it.

He showed me and was cheerful and made sure I had a good time. Near the end of the night he told me that his girlfriend has broken up with him the night before, and that he didn’t want it to ruin my celebration.

Q. How about the worst? And why?

A. The year before the last. I was still married but close to moving out. On my birthday my husband at the time went out with his friends. I took my son to the river side and watched the water with him. It was an incredibly sad moment for me, but it made me fully realize how much my life needed to change.

Q. What was the present you’ve received for your birthday that most surprised you?

A. My favorite present of all time was a nexus 7 tablet given to me by my ex husband. I used it as an e-reader. I don’t think I’ve ever received a surprising birthday gift.

Q. Is there one food or dish that you insist on eating during your birthday celebration?

A. Nope.

Q. What do you believe is the most important aspect of celebrating a birthday?

A. Thinking about where you are and where you want to be.

Q. Do you/your family/culture have any traditions/rituals/ceremonies that are performed to celebrate birthdays? What is it?

A. No.