Appreciation

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Canadian Thanksgiving just passed and like I do every year, I took some time to reflect on what I have to be thankful for. There’s my family and friends, my loving pup Bennie, this opportunity to experience life abroad, and surprisingly, a newfound appreciation for all the things I no longer have. You know the old saying you never know what you have until it’s gone; well I have found this to be incredibly accurate.

Cozy rainy days, wrapped up in a blanket, sipping a cup of tea and listening to the sound of the rain on the roof; the comforting feeling of warming up after spending time outside in the cold; the beauty of changing seasons; dog parks and dog friendly places; sidewalks and walking trails through the forests; maple syrup and crisp, delicious bacon; going to the grocery store and being able to find most everything you need and if you can’t there’s other stores and online shopping; the use of actual addresses; going out dancing with my girlfriends; getting dressed in the morning and being able to wear whatever you want with no risk of offence.

It’s a very long list and you would think with so much longing I would find myself slipping into sadness but that hasn’t been the case. I have found that with each thing I find myself missing a new appreciation blossoms. You don’t realize how refreshing and rejuvenating a rainy day can be until you move to the desert. Just like you don’t realize what a miracle address systems are until you no longer have one. I suppose I always appreciated and loved bacon but that is beside the point. I’ve found that when I find myself longing for something, I smile because I know it’s something else I’ll appreciate that much more.

At the beginning of 2017 I started a gratitude journal. Every morning I take a minute or two to list three things that would make the day great. Every evening before bed I list three amazing things that happened that day. It’s a way of finding the good in everyday. I decided to do this as a way to cultivate a more meaningful and positive life. I never expected to see such a big change in my way of thinking so quickly. By bringing gratitude to the forefront of my thoughts at the beginning and end of each day, my mind has naturally begun to think in more grateful ways. It’s how I’ve managed to cope with my longing with appreciation instead of resentment. I suppose by bringing gratitude into my life, everyday is now Thanksgiving Day, to my mind.

 

 

 

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Uncomfortable moments

Yesterday I went traipsing through an oasis jungle to get to a beautiful Wadi and I got to see some of the most breath taking views this planet has to offer.  I went off-roading with friends up a mountain side on steep, narrow, winding roads. I put my trust in strangers to help us find the wadi safely.  I held on tightly to Momma’s hand while we navigated the winding steep stairway down to the wadi.  I cringed every time a palm leaf would scrape against my body, making me think of all the creepy crawlies around me. I went completely and utterly out of my comfort zone and I was rewarded beautifully for it.

Since leaving the comfort of our home and life in Canada, I’ve continuously put myself in uncomfortable situations.  Allowing myself to be vulnerable enough to establish new friendships, being scared to drive on my own but doing it anyways, flying across the world on my own with our dog,  and jumping into a vehicle with my new friends for a grand adventure.  All these moments began with me being very uncomfortable and all finished with a sense of awe and wonder.  Not just in seeing and experiencing new things but also a sense of awe at my own courage in these moments.

Now I’m not foolish enough to believe that every time I step out of my comfort zone I will be rewarded with wonder and awe.  Sometimes things will go incredibly wrong.  Like for example the first time I went to a beauty salon here.

I had a really hard time when we first arrived. We were staying in a rough place, infested with cockroaches as it was the only hotel that allowed dogs. I was too scared to drive but knew I needed to get myself out of the roach motel for a bit.  I made up my mind and went to a beauty salon in the building next to our hotel.  I decided to get a conditioning treatment for my hair and I ended up being there for four hours.  The ladies spent the time talking about how straw like my hair was and stared at me like I was an alien. The hairdresser used an old eyebrow brush to apply the treatment and they had to run outside to fill up a cistern for the sink to rinse it out as they didn’t have running water. Then they blowed my crazy curly hair dry with a blow dryer and brushed it out.  My hair was horribly frizz-tastic.

When I got back to the hotel with my crazy hair and laughed with Alex, I knew it was still worth it.  I may not have had the experience I was hoping for but I knew that this little step out of my comfort zone was leading me to take bigger ones in the future.  Uncomfortable moments that lead to moments full of wonder and awe and beauty that takes your breath away.  I would say that the frizzy hair was worth it.

 

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Photo credit for the above photo goes to my lovely friend and 4×4 queen Gemma ❤

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Shopping trip to Dubai during Ramadan

A couple of weeks ago my hubby and I spent a long weekend in Dubai. I was required to leave the country while my residence visa was prepared so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to explore an exciting new place and shop!! 

I spent the week before we left looking up the stores I wanted to go to online, and I discovered that an Australian brand I love had a shop there! I was stoked! Unfortunately I didn’t manage to stay that way for most of the trip.

Dubai is a really cool place, the buildings, the sunshine, the sand, the beaches, the malls, it’s quite the experience. It’s a booming and bustling place and with that comes a lot of construction. A lot of roads that no longer exist or new roads that aren’t updated on the map. This leads me to our first mistake of renting a vehicle to drive ourselves around. Normally Alex drives and I navigate when we travel and it works well. We both have accepted that we’ll likely get lost but some of the coolest places we’ve seen have been because we’ve gotten turned around! Dubai wasn’t the same when we got lost. It was busy, difficult to navigate, full of reckless drivers and accidents. By the last day we decided to utilize a car service and taxis. However I wouldn’t suggest taking a taxi in the hour before sunset during Ramadan. You will likely have a death grip on the holy $h*t handle and have your heart stop once or twice.
The Muslim countries are currently fasting for Ramadan. This didn’t seem like a big issue to us as we were told most hotels and a select few restaurants would be open during the day.  In fact a few articles I read suggested it was a great time to visit because it was quieter and less busy. This was true however it leads me to our second mistake which was to mistakenly fast for the majority of the day. 

Our first shopping excursion ended up being to The Dubai Mall and I think it was my favourite one. There’s this really neat gold souk area in it and a pretty aquarium. Lots of shops and it’s fairly easy to get to. We spent the day shopping and wandering around, and around 3pm Alex and I start getting really cranky, thirsty and hungry and realize we had inadvertently fasted for most of the day. You see most of the restaurants were actually closed for Ramadan.  We decide to check the food court before leaving the mall in search of food and drink. So we walk through the quiet mall and arrive at the food court, they had put up temporary walls and had a security guard in front of the entrance. We walk through and it’s just bustling and full of people! We got our food and drinks and they packaged it up tight in a bag that had a label on it notifying you that if you ate or drank any of the food in public you will be fined. Thankfully we just ate it right there and carried on with our shopping in much better spirits.

Shopping in Dubai should be an Olympic sport. The malls a massive and there’s so many cool shops and stores to check out! You will have absolutely no trouble meeting your Fitbit’s 10000 steps a day! Wear comfy shoes and make sure to find updated store information before travelling across the city to check one out, mistake number three. Remember that Austrialian shop I was so excited about, well it closed down. I guess just one more reason to head back to Melbourne someday. 

Regardless of our rookie mistakes I’m really excited for another Dubai adventure! There’s just so much more to see and I think it’s so neat that it has become a weekend getaway destination for us. Here’s to weekend getaways! 

Taking my space

Last night I went to a ladies evening to meet and mingle with the local ladies in the expat community. It was a lovely evening, lots of laughs and good conversations.  At the end of the night when I had returned home I looked at some pictures that were taken and I stood out, being so much bigger and taller than the rest of the women there.  I had a bit of a moment looking at the pictures and my old insecurities started to arise.  That word ‘big’ it’s like a knife to my heart every time someone says it to me. I creates an immediate response of shame, like I have to apologize to the rest of the world for taking up more space than them.

I didn’t  like the response I had to this word so I took some time for reflection. Some time to figure out what the word ‘big’ truly means to me.

Recently my father was speaking of the gorgeous plus sized model Ashley Graham and he said “oh that big girl!” I cringed and my response to him was that you should never, ever call a woman big! He didn’t seem to understand why big was so bad. After all he married my Mom and she is a gorgeous tall woman herself and he just adores her. So why then, can my father look at my mother and say “you’re a big, beautiful, brilliant woman” and mean every word with love and all my Mom and I hear is BIG?

I suppose I could start blaming the media, the fashion industry, movies and television but blame doesn’t solve anything. What I need, is to change my inner narrative. I want to hear the word big being used to describe a woman and think, that woman is powerful, she owns her space, she is BIG and she is exactly the way she is supposed to be.

I want to feel that way and I know with some hard work it’s possible. There is great power to be had from affirmations and positive reinforcement. So although now it’s a struggle; I know that someday in the near future I will look at a picture of myself standing tall and owning my space and think, Catherine you’re a BIG woman, and I will smile.