On Counting My Blessings 2 and 3

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So I am gonna do these posts when I feel really led. A few nights ago, I ended staying at the office pretty late, but not for the reason you might think: I got into a spirited debate with some colleagues about the limits that can be morally placed on those too poor to afford to have children or more children than X number.

As you can imagine emotions were high for some. But it wasn’t in bad taste, it was spirited, but ideas were exchanged. I had decided to just order Thai that evening, but since we were together we decided to go grab something at a restaurant instead. And so we went, and had other more fun discussions about life in general and life here in particular.

I went home being thankful, that God didn’t give me what I thought I wanted… which was to be left alone. These days Gazelle alone is more like the depressed, brooding type and it takes a lot of energy out my already introvert self to keep talking to people, to give them the positivity that they need. But sometimes in talking to others, we forget, at least for a little while, what’s bothering us. And sometimes still, it gives us perspectives and epiphanies on ourselves.

That same night, I reached an epiphany of sorts on something that has been eating at me in ways I was concerned I would never be able to control.  But Gazelle has got her groove back, she’s starting to anyway. Alhamdullilah.

I have another blessing to count, well two actually.

 

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On Counting My Blessings: 1

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I saw this thing on Facebook about how to literally count your blessings. Every time something good happens to you you write it down and put in the jar. At the end of the year, you count all the good things.

I’d like to do that, but just my luck, am having trouble finding a jar/container…. ha ha… so for now, I will write things on post-its. So far, I’ve got one “big” thing: Achieved an educational milestone of sorts.  Don’t get it twisted, Gazelle is done with formal education… ha ha… But have been learning about some stuff as of late, started out being something I needed to get some basics on for work, but it’s gone beyond that now. I’m just really surprised at myself because I am learning about things that I never thought I was capable of learning, especially not in the time-frame that I’ve done it.

And I have a certificate to prove it… yay! Alhamdullilah.

Yeah, it’s hokie-ish, but Gazelle still has some tenacity in her. 😀

hmmm as I write this, maybe I will do the count my blessings thing via this blog too… It’s probably a heck of a lot better than all the depressing stuff I have been posting as of late… ha ha.

It’s Not About Actions Speaking Louder than Words…

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In case you haven’t read from the snark in my previous posts, I am going through a rough spot for a number of reasons, none of which do I get into on this blog…. ha ha…

Truth be told, someone I know (obviously someone I know) did something I am having a lot of trouble coming to terms with/ betrayed my trust in a sense and I haven’t dealt with the ramifications of that on me in an expedient or efficient fashion. Like many things in life it’s complicated, mainly because the situation is complicated— As evidenced by my lack of an ability to come up with singular descriptor of what happened. Needless to say, they did something cut a bit, well more deeply than it would had the perpetrator been just about anyone else (Gazelle is really good at shrugging people off… ha ha…). And to top it off,  I was, it seems glaringly apparent to me now, complicit in my own demise.

But the offender was a drunk driver, not someone who plotted my murder for months before carrying it out. And so, it’s more of a case of involuntary manslaughter than it is first or second degree murder…. hmmm I quite like that analogy.

Like I noted above, I played a part in this too, for lack of better language I was stupid, and naive and trusting—- way too trusting, not so much of them, but of my own optimism for the future, (blurred) vision of the present and  overconfident (to the point of hubris it seems) of my ability to learn from past mistakes. I also ran on the assumption that someone who has known me for a long time, and knows me as well as they do would never cause me to feel like this (like I said bluuuuuuuurrrrrrrred vision!… ha ha… even writing this is so sad because I really should have known better than to ever base anything on an idiotic assumption like that… sigh).

blurred-vision

Yeah, the world around me looked like this. source

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But I could have sworn that the image was crisp, like this one. Sigh. source

 

The thing about past mistakes and learning from them though, is that every new situation is new: There’s something unique about it that usually makes it hard to just plunk it into a lessons learned box.

So I found myself at an empasse, dealing with something very new, which echos of old things- dealing with something I never thought I would have to deal with, not in a million years.

To be fair, I ended up speaking with the person about this situation and they did apologize. Like my drunk driver analogy above indicates, it was not their intention to leave me feeling like, well for lack of better language — a pile of shit. But to be fair to me, that’s what happened all the same… apologies don’t change the reality on the ground all that much 😦

Most days I am fine, but things happen that trigger thoughts and then boom! I am back in self-doubt and self-blame land. I can’t help but feel like I haven’t been able to fully let this go because there is some lesson that I still haven’t learned

And this entry, I guess is another stab at a lesson that I should learn from this.  I had a thought today about how I can best learn from past mistakes and have finally been able to articulate something that’s been a useful framework for my reflections:

I lived by this:

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Well… as long as the two don’t reinforce one another you do in fact have a problem, Houston: Source

 but, now I think that

It’s not that Actions speak louder than words, it’s that actions and words need to line up.

I don’t know who else is excited about this little self-help mantra that I cooked up, but I sure am.  In the context of the bump in the road of life that I discuss above,  just thinking even semi-critically of my situation through this prism would have saved me a lot of head and heart ache.

If you have a friend who claims to adore you but then does things to make you feel inadequate… you may need to think about those bold letters up above.

If you have romantic interest that swears to adore you in private but acts like they don’t know you in public…. you too may need to think about those letters and how to apply them to your life.

If you have a friend, lover, family member, that has categorically told you that they can’t do a certain thing for you, but they do other nice things for you…. you still might need to think about the words up above.

It’s not about kicking people to the curb, (not in every case!)… but it is about understanding other people’s limitations as stated AND demonstrated. I think there is a nuance that I was missing in my interactions with others, that perhaps I can now at least be aware of it’s necessity.

I hope this makes sense. The idea popped in my head about half an hour ago, so maybe it’s not as genius or as comforting as it is for me right now in this moment.

Sigh. Too little too late, for me anyway. But maybe not for someone else. Maybe this will be useful the next time I encounter a situation like the one I’ve been peeving about…. (*** rolls my eyes superciliously***)

****Note to LJ Cul de Sac: I don’t think you read this blog anymore, yes it’s a post about you…I don’t think I’ve stated anything there that I haven’t stated to your face, but I apologize on the small chance that you are offended by anything here or claim I’ve made. And of course, I can certainly clarify anything that seems unclear. I tried to write this post without giving specifics so there are things that are and aren’t directly related to you. ****

And with that I am off to something else. Here’s to making the last year or so of blogging count! … ha ha

I Can’t Fix Everything

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And that is ok with me. I realized this a little while ago and it’s been refreshing to let things go. Maybe it’s the being the (De facto) eldest among my siblings, but I’ve become the De facto mother hen in a lot of different contexts and for different groups of people. That is NOT a role I volunteered to play. Frankly, I am tired of it and so many other things. I acknowledge that until people are real with themselves and about what changes they need to make in life, change will not take root. I know what it feels like to sit with someone for hours as they ask me about planning out scenario a, b, or c and warning them against D and they turn around and pick D anyway… Somehow I started thinking in these contexts that the blame was mine, that I wasn’t convincing enough. But, it’s not about me. It’s not my fault. And most importantly, it’s not my responsibility.

It’s not my job to clean other people’s messes, both literally and figuratively. People wouldn’t believe how apropo this has been for my life…. how for the first time perhaps ever in life, I am letting things and people go… I am letting the chips fall where they may.

The most amazing part is that earth didn’t swallow me or anyone else whole. It’s not my job to fix things. I can’t fix everything. If I spend so much time trying to hold everyone else together, what I eventually end up with is a very broken and fatigued me.

So yeah, going hand in hand with expecting nothing, is being somewhat numb to other people’s life choices… Adults are adults and every adult is entitled to their own decisions and can make up their own mind about whatever they choose to make a priority. Sometimes people will end up making mistakes they would not have had they listened to me… but that is not my fault, that is not my problem. Heck, not just adults, the same goes for any other living thing.

So will continue to do what I can, when  I can, but  I am under no obligation to hold up half the sky for anyone. Gazelle’s shoulders are much too small for all of that.

This affirmation/realization has been quite freeing for me. I can’t fix everything, I am not obligated to fix anything.  I too need to acknowledge what needs to be changed in order for change to take root. And hand in hand with that is undergoing a self valuation… ha ha…

At the end of the day people are people and they will do whatever they feel is in their best interest however narrowly or widely defined those interests are. At the end of the day, my intentions or sincerely wanting the best for myself or person x, y or z may have nothing to do with their intentions towards me or in spite of me: love, respect, kindness, peace, support, none of these are guaranteed to be reciprocated.  And even when they are not reciprocated, it’s not a reflection of my not being good enough.

It’s more about reflecting on the space and time that those individuals take up in my life and adjusting accordingly… whether that means giving them the BOOT! (ha ha)… or just 2% of my concern as opposed to 75…. sigh.

So yeah, I am not taking anything personal… I am also not concerning myself with who might take my words or actions personal either. This is all about expecting nothing and suspending optimism for people and things and ideas that are worth it.

 

 

 

On My Valentine’s Day Playlist

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About 10 years ago, I spent a semester in Morocco.  One of my closest friends from that semester did a really sweet thing for her boyfriend/love interest of the time.

She made him mix CD (do people even use CDs any more???) of songs, all with the theme of young love. When I state young love, I mean budding romance… songs like Groove Theory’s “Tell me if you Want Me to”

I thought it was the cutest idea and ever since had hoped that I would one day have a SO that would do the same for me (selfish I know!)…Songs are so awesome and poignant, even when they are simple and seem stupid. I think almost everyone can think of a song that pretty accurately and aptly encapsulated how they felt at a certain moment in time. I am that on steroids… It’s all about the words more so than the beat and such… and yet, It’s something that people tend to not notice about me.

So it’s no surprise that now that it’s ten years and counting and this old brown cow has crossed the 30 threshold,

9 Months? … Try 30 years!…. Some of us are the experience personified on earth!… ha ha

I am willing to give up on that dream (and I never expressed this wish to anyone, and somehow hoped that some guy would intuitively do this thing, so you get what you put out there).

But before I let my dream die, I decided to create the mixtape/playlist on my own.

Here are the tracks

12. Jon B- They Don’t know

Jon B paved the road for Justin Timberlake and all these blue-eyed soul artists that proliferate the market these days.  Tu Amor is a fave of mine because of the mix of Spanish, but also because his vocals are on point.  Some group did a cover of this song and their version just doesn’t cut it.  There had to be some LaFace representation on this list… just had to be (I am child of the 90s, after all)

11. Michael Jackson- Remember the Time

This is my favorite MJ song (next to Stranger in Moscow) and I remember watching it when it premiered, I was all of 8 years old.  But that video ya’ll, it was epic. I am a sucker for a song about old love that is still there after years have past.

10. Backstreet Boys- All I have to Give

This was the first Backstreet Boys song I ever heard and still love it to this day.  The message is simple, it’s not about nice things, it’s about the sincerity that comes with truly loving someone.

9. Luis Fonsi – No Me Doy Por Vencido (I am not giving up)

The song is about not giving up on a relationship, that saving what they have is worthwhile.  I listen to it when I need inspiration for other stuff too… go figure.

8. Jen Carlos Canela- Mi Corazon Insiste (My heart Insists)

Not only do I think Jen Carlos has the coolest name and is the quintessential example of the Hot Latino leading man, but I love this song (duh hence it’s on my playlist!… ha ha). It’s about loving someone despite yourself, trying to replace them with someone else, or to erase their memory, all to no avail.  Some loves are like that, I think.  Their’s something really passionate about that  yet, calming because in the end, all roads lead back to that major love.

7.  98 Degrees and Stevie Wonder- True to Your Heart

Aside from being the song off the Mulan soundtrack, le message rings clear and is pretty self-explanatory.  Plus, I loved the late 90s Boy bands, well just the three that make this list, and this is probably my favorite 98 Degrees song.

6.  Sabr Alroba3i- Atahada al3alam (Usually translated as “I Defy the World” but I think that “I Declare to the World” makes more sense)

The song is awesome… and I love it because it’s one of those that I loved even before I actually understood what the words meant. Sabr alroba3i has an amazing voice and this song, this song… It was on my list as possible wedding song back in the day… ha ha…. my favorite line translates as something like (and You are my love, my heart and soul are with you, come close and let me live out my feelings of love…. hmmm this translation is weird… ha ha).

5. NSYNC- Something like You

It was really hard to pick just one NSYNC Song, there are too many that love, these guys were the bona fide soundtrack of my youth…le sigh.  I actually wasn’t a great fan of “This I promise you” or “God Must have Spent”… mostly because they got so much play. I like this song because it’s about love in its early stages, but the singer can tell it’s something deeep… ha ha… yup in case you haven’t noticed I am soppy romantic at heart.

6. Billy Joel- The Longest Time

The message is pretty much the same as the NSYNC song, but it’s Billy Joel! Funnily enough, I love this song because Alvin and Chipmunks used to sing it a lot… ha ha…

5. India Arie- I see the God in You

This is one of those songs that were on constantly for me ten years ago.  Aside from featuring Ms. Arie’s awesome voice, the message is yet again about young love, about feeling this intrinsic connection with someone else. I still remember walking down the streets of the old Medina in Rabat with this blasting in my ears…. FYI… I did not see God in any of the men that I past by daily… not in the way she is talking about anyway… ha ha…

4. Alanis Morissette- Head Over Feet

Probably my favorite song from Alanis, and the lyrics are simple, but awesome. I think the little things the guy does in the song, have always clicked with me like (yes!)… again going with the theme of it’s not about the materials crap, it’s about things like Asking me how my day was, just saying the right things at the right times… the kind of love that makes you love the person back for all that they are!

3. Rob Thomas- Lonely No More

Because I looooooved Matchbox Twenty and because this is the ultimate “Piss or get off the Pot” type songs… like, I don’t want any more BS so be sure this is what you want.

2. Banky W- Strong Ting

Practically an ancient Afro-pop song, but it’s still one of my faves.  Just another song about young love, although this is probably more of the superficial sort… ha ha …

1. 112- Only You

One of 112’s best songs, back when Biggy was still alive and Bad Boy was in it’s heydey. Yet another where exactly do we stand?- type songs… but their vocals as ever are awesome. And this song also happens to be one the biggest ones out there back when I was in 8th grade.

Of course there are tons of songs left off here- Celine Dion could Easily be on this mixtape as could several others (Mariah, Whitney, some more representation from girl groups and a few other Arab artists… At least one Country song), but whatever. … no revenue will be made or collected from this post. So, I don’t think anyone cares…

And with that, the dream is put to rest. Moving on to other things.

Got the playlist. Now all I need is the date… Wait, I said, moving on to other things Gazelle!

Happy New Year: Elucidated Reflections on the past 368 days

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2014 has come and gone.  I am sitting in my room listening to children play some game as they shout at each other in Egyptian and Syrian dialects.  OMG I have succumb to all that is ex-pat living.  This quiet, humdrum passage of time has become the new normal.

Ok, it hasn’t been thaaat quiet

Store clerks in malls call me “madam” out of respect, systems for getting things done are altogether different from what I had in the States.  But this is home… It’s been over a year and yes, I live (not study, not just work) abroad.  This reality was solidified as I went through the course of 2014.

For me, last year was one of those quiet, unassuming years, that brought with it much promise but ended as quietly as it began.  And now, I sit reflecting on all that I learned through it… and what I should hope for/look towards in 2015.

I can’t recall the extent to which I documented things (probably not very well at all) but I traveled quite a bit in 2014, much of it to places I had never been or had any previous connection to: Italy, Cyprus, China (the Mid-west and Western US). So I was thrust, for the first time in a long time, back into the role of foreigner, of tourist.

 

When you live in the Arabian Gulf, foreigner, I think doesn’t really stick as a title. Everyone is foreign (the vast majority) and so we all fit even though we seem like this strange menagerie of colors, tastes and sounds.  Food from the Phillipines, the Indian subcontinent, south east Asia and Ethiopia are all within my fingertips (not to mention the Arab World).  My neighborhood is a noisy, bustling barrio dominated by Arabs and South Asians with sprinklings of Africans (mostly East siders) and East Asians: I hate it and love it all at once.

Being here has made me realize the extent to which I have internalized a sort of Arab cultural mindset, in the way I dress, interact with others and even see the world in a lot of ways (this was a scary realization)…. it’s Egypt that did me in, I think. And it’s easier in many ways to weave in and out of communities as this “new” me. In some ways though, I feel like I’ve confined myself to a system that is not my own, that I didn’t ascribe to previously and that I have subconsciously taken on even though I don’t have to.

 

Yes, 2014 made me realize all of this stuff.  I guess the post title is a misnomer,  because all is not yet elucidated. But, Gazelle, as ever is thinking about next steps.

 

living here as a single, introverted ex-pat is great.  But I would want to have a family life back home or at least somewhere that is not here…. ha ha… and as the fireworks that came with my 30th birthday celebrations (in Cyprus!) should have made clear…. time is ticking…. :-/

For lack of a better term, living here has got to be the ultimate “cockblocker”…

Or could this be the sad truth….???? ha ha …

I’m just not into any of it (the halal kind or otherwise). People tend to fall into certain categories: the ones who come here already married, the ones who meet the person they will marry here but quickly within the first year or so, and the ones who don’t quite make a go at it.  I fall into the last category…haha (there are also different classificaitons of ex-pat men that I have deduced, but that is for another post)… but I’m not mad.

 

Going abroad, it seems always makes me realize how American I am, how proud I am to be American, and how much I love home.  It’s in no ways perfect, but it’s where I grew up and where I have the strongest ties. It’s where my roots are grounded and where my heart is.

2014 Marked the 10th straight year in which I traveled outside the US for month or more:

2004- studied abroad in Morocco and  Spain

2005- studied abroad in Morocco

2006- Research in Spain and short trip to Morocco

2007- Yemen, and where I started this blog

2008- 5 months in the UK

2009- I rounded out the 4th quarter of the Year in Qatar

2010- Still in Qatar

2011- Rounded out the year in Egypt and the holidays in the UK

2012- Still in Egypt and returned to MOrocco for the summer

2013- Moved to the Gulf

2014- Living in the Gulf with short stints in Cyprus, Italy and China

2015….

It’s a lot of experiences that I have tried to pack and unpack (some on this blog some not). It’s pretty anticlimactic, but 10 years and 35 pounds later… I’ve realized that I’m a down-home, All American girl. It’s been wonderful learning about all these beautiful places and people. It’s been rough dealing with harassment, racism, prejudice (both from within and without) but it’s been worth it.

I can’t believe I turned into one of those people… ha ha…

 

It’s not like I know all there is know about anything, really. But I guess that is what I’ve learned the most: there always something new to know, some new place to experience.  All in all, Alhamdullilah for 2014 and Alhamdullilah for 2015, 16, 17…. you get the picture.