Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Taboulah Check

I just spent a hilarious half hour catching up on a week’s worth of ICHC. It feels so good to laugh like that! So many clever people and so many hilarious photos.

This one reminds me of my family – we all love tabouli, and we all do the teeth-check at the end of the meal so we won’t embarrass ourselves.

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December 28, 2007 Posted by | Cooking, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Humor, Mating Behavior | 4 Comments

Big Bubbas

I found my way to my seat, and looked around hopefully to see how full the plane was getting. Sometimes, this flight has some empty seats, and I am hoping one of them is next to me so I can sleep, get to Kuwait a little refreshed.

Two seats up, two very large men are looking at one another in dismay. I can hardly keep from laughing out loud – these are big, beefy American contractors, look like boys from the mid-West, one in farmer-like denim coveralls, both with big bottoms, big bellies, and huge big beefy shoulders. These kinds of guys spill way over the armrests, if you know what I mean.

“This isn’t gonna work,” says one to the other. They look around. One spots me, and says “Once the flight takes off, I’ll find a place to sit with a little more room.”

Ya’ll think I am really nice, but not so nice when it comes to having my territory invaded. I fluffed myself out to try to look bigger, and I scowled a very very UNFRIENDLY scowl. I would not want to sit next to someone who looked mean and unsociable like me!

Fortunately there was a lot of room on the flight, and the bubbas found places where they could be comfortable. I had an extra seat next to me, too, and got the sleep I needed. I no longer needed to scowl.

I still get a big grin though, thinking of the look on their faces when they thought of trying to fit those two great big bulky bodies into the already skimpy spaces allotted for two people.

December 27, 2007 Posted by | Adventure, Entertainment, ExPat Life, Health Issues, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Travel, Women's Issues | 8 Comments

But / And

Several years ago I was working for a charismatic leader. He was amazing, he built something out of nothing, and changed countless lives. I felt very privileged to be a part of his team.

I managed a particular program for him, and I raised money for college scholarships so that poor kids, who were smart but had very small chance of going on to university without outside help, would have the promise of a full-tuition paid scholarship if they kept their grades up, stayed drug free, attended cultural events for which we provided free tickets, donated by our very generous sponsors (museums! baseball games! fishing trips! opera! symphony! our sponsors were SO generous!)

From this leader I learned many things, and one sticks with me in my daily life – using “and” instead of “but.”

Here is what he explained to me – when you reply with “but”, you are negating what the previous speaker – or even you, yourself – said. When you use “and” instead of “but”, you open up the possibility of two different things co-existing.

I challenge you to try it.

It will change your life.

Eliminate “but” from your vocabulary. Replace it with “and.” It opens an amazing new world.

Here is an example:

“She wants to go to the mall, but I want to go to the movies.” (Implies that these things are mutually exclusive)
“She wants to go to the mall, and I want to go to the movies.” (Implies we can do both!)

“And” gives room for negotiation, for finding a bigger frame that includes all the wants and needs, with a little co-operation.

I challenge YOU to give it a try. Give it a try for just one day – see how it works. Come back here and tell us how it worked for you.

December 27, 2007 Posted by | Communication, Community, Family Issues, Language, Living Conditions, Relationships, Spiritual, Words | 9 Comments

End of Year Musings

Hello, friends, I am back. We had the most amazing and wonderful adventure, and we are refreshed and happy to be back sleeping in our own bed again.

So of course, one of the first things I do when I get back is go through all my e-mail and then take a quick look at the blog. Even in my absence, the stats stayed high – until Christmas Day, when they dropped to about half. . . and there they stay. (Big grin) If this hadn’t happened last year, too, I would be shocked, but remember last year when I published all those great Thanksgiving and Christmas recipes? Those are what has pumped up the statistics. Most days in November and December, the Christmas Punch – Rum, and Rumless and the Christmas Divinity Candy have pumped those stats up above the thousand visitors / day mark several times.

Last year, it took me until September to match my December statistics. I wonder if I will ever match this December’s?

Like many bloggers, I write this blog for the sheer joy of writing. I don’t want to be a person who watches my stats, and at the same time, it interests me what interests YOU, the reader. What interests me also is that many times the most visited entries keep getting visits months later, even over a year later, and from time to time these earlier entries get a comment. I have seen the same thing on Jewaira’s blog, and although we are very different bloggers, she is still my primary blog-role-model. She is a blogger who, through sheer imagination and good writing has kept a loyal and enthusiastic readership. . . I want to be Jewaira when I grow up, bloggily speaking.

Don’t we all do a little personal inventory as the old year ends and the new year is about to begin? I’m not big on resolutions, but I am big on behavioral changes, and this week is a good week to muse, to ruminate, to think about what I want the future year to look like.

Is there some area YOU would like to explore in the new year? Some aspect of your character you would like to develop? Some talent you would like to give an opportunity to grow?

December 27, 2007 Posted by | Blogging, Communication, Community, Friends & Friendship, Kuwait, Random Musings, Relationships | 16 Comments

Christmas / Eid Blessings

My friends, I wish you all the happiest, happiest celebrations. I wish you all the blessings of family, and friends, and enough food to eat and a roof over your head. I wish you quiet joy, and peace. Peace be upon you, brothers and sisters, and may your celebrations bring you joy.

AdventureMan and I will also be taking a break for a week to celebrate Christmas and to renew our spirits. I’ll be out of touch for about a week. God be with you!

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Adoration of the Shepherds and Adoration of the Magi
1500-20
Oil on oak panel, 91 x 59 cm (each)
Groeninge Museum, Bruges

December 20, 2007 Posted by | Adventure, Blogging, Christmas, Eid, ExPat Life, Travel | 21 Comments

Christmas in Kuwait

There are Christmas trees in Kuwait, in the malls, in the stores, and Santa and his reindeer are everywhere. I can remember other Christmases – in Saudi Arabia, in Jordan, in Tunisia, in Qatar – when you never knew if this was a year when Christmas would be allowed or not.

For my family and friends not in Kuwait, you would be amazed what you can find here. I am just showing a tiny bit of what you can find these days in Kuwait:

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December 19, 2007 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Christmas, Community, Cross Cultural, Entertainment, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Shopping | 16 Comments

Or is it Kuwait Airport?

. . . or any airport just about anywhere when Christmas and Eid al Kebir all hit at the same time!

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

December 19, 2007 Posted by | Christmas, Eid, Kuwait, Middle East, Travel | 2 Comments

What Will Matter?

I am thinking about all the people who are making resolutions for the coming year. I don’t do resolutions – for me, it’s too depressing, I fail so often. I do try to change my behaviors, small changes that I hope will lead to grander changes in the long run. I try to keep things in perspective. I try to make good choices.

AdventureMan shared this writing with me, it is a writing by Michael Josephson called What Will Matter sent out by an organization called Character Counts.org.

What Will Matter
by Michael Josephson

Ready or not, some day it will all come to an end.
There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours or days.
All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten, will pass to someone else.
Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.
It will not matter what you owned of what you were owed.
Your grudges, resentments, frustrations and jealousies will finally disappear.
Soon, too, your hopes, ambitions, plans and to-do lists will expire.
The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.
It won’t matter where you came from or what side of the tracks you lived on at the end.
It won’t matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant.
Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.

So what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured?

What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built,
not what you got but what you gave.
What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage or sacrifice that enriched,
empowered or encouraged others to emulate your example.

What will matter is not your competence but your character.
What will matter is not how many people you knew,
but how many will feel a lasting loss when you’re gone.
What will matter is not your memories, but the memories of those who loved you.
What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom, and for what.

Living a life that matters doesn’t happen by accident.
It’s not a matter of circumstance but of choice.
Choose to live a life that matters.

December 18, 2007 Posted by | Community, Poetry/Literature, Random Musings, Social Issues, Spiritual | 2 Comments

Hotel Glasses “Sanitized”

A good friend sent me the following link. If you stay in hotels regularly, this video will change the way you do things, trust me! It is GROSSSSSSSS!

Don’t Ever Drink from Hotel Glasses.

December 18, 2007 Posted by | Cold Drinks, Customer Service, Health Issues, Hygiene, Travel | 4 Comments

Fashion Nightmare

One of the classic worst nightmares you can have is where you dream you have shown up somewhere naked. No, I didn’t show up naked. But I can tell you that it was the next best thing, and there was nothing I could do. And I survived it, and I never had that bad dream again.

The priest in our church had asked me if I would take a visiting nun around to show her some of the local spots in Qatar. She was doing work in Afghanistan, getting schools up and running for Afghani girls, and I was eager to hear about her work, and show her some projects in Doha. I had gladly agreed, and had a plan outlined for all the places I could take her.

When I arrived at the church house, wearing my rattiest jeans skirt and cover-up shirt, so as to be inconspicuous as we visited various places in the poorer sections of town, the priest came out and said the nun would be out in a minute, and why didn’t I come in, that there had been a “slight” change in plans and that another woman would be coming too, and she was taking us to a Palestinian project.

I don’t hold it against the priest. He lived in another world, a world so full of God and his glory that he didn’t really have any understanding of the world of women.

The other woman arrived, and she was gorgeous. She was wearing Issa Miyake, she was perfectly and subtly made up, and we were not going to a charitable project, but to a charitable fund-raising breakfast. I had thoughts of killing the priest.

The nun arrived, and she was dressed in a decent pants and shirt; neither of us appropriately dressed but off we go, to a clubhouse filled with dressed-to-the-teeth women and their daughters, raising money for popular causes on a Saturday morning. We were severely underdressed. All we could do was hold our heads high and pretend we didn’t notice. Inside, I was torn between laughing and crying.

Our hostess didn’t seem to see the fact that we were poorly dressed, and was very gracious to us, and in future days, the two of us became good friends. We often laughed about the priest, his goodness of heart and his blindness to some of life’s realities, like giving fair warning of what you are doing so you can dress appropriately. It all turned out OK.

When people come to me and tell me something terribly, horribly and publicly embarrassing that has happened to them, and ask me how they will survive, I tell them what I believe to be true – that most people are so absorbed in their own lives that they barely notice much about others, and that people have short memories. What may seem to be a huge deal today, will be yesterday’s news by tomorrow, and barely remembered in a couple months. By the time a year has gone by, some people will even think it might have been someone else who committed the faux pas.

On the other hand, in the small German village where I lived, there were two families who never mixed because their grandmothers had a huge fight many many years ago (people can’t remember exactly what it was about) but the legacy lives on.

So I wonder, how does it work in Kuwait?

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December 18, 2007 Posted by | Adventure, Community, ExPat Life, Friends & Friendship, Humor, Living Conditions, Qatar, Random Musings | Leave a comment