CREATE #REUSEQ8 ART…LIVE!

en.v & Zain To Create Crowd-Sourced Recycled Art Installation at Kuwait Scientific Center

In celebration of Earth Day, en.v – an organization dedicated to promoting social responsibility and environmental sustainability in the Arab world – has developed an interactive art installation to be displayed at The Scientific Center as part of the organization’s REUSE program.

REUSE_EWeek_Instagram_ENG

The interactive art installation, which takes the shape of a seven meter life-size whale constructed with a steel frame and wire mesh material, encourages participants to weave used plastic bags into the frame, thus reusing them in a creative way to complete the outer-body of the installation. This ‘crowd-sourced’ activity targets students who will be visiting the Scientific Center from private and public schools in Kuwait and visitors from the general public to raise awareness on the effects of consumer waste on Kuwait’s marine environment in a collaborative fun way.

Show your support for the cause by visiting the REUSE whale at The Scientific Center from the 17th to the 19th of April, 2014, between10am and 9pm. The event will include an environmental fair with engaging activities from a number of local environmental and educational initiatives, as well as live music on Thursday and Friday evenings from 6.30pm to 7.30pm.

REUSE_EWeek_Instagram_AR

REUSE is a program initiated by en.v in partnership with Zain Telecommunications to promote environmental sustainability and community participation in Kuwait. The program includes activities such as educational roadshows and competitions, community events, online environmental campaigns and workshops taking place throughout the year.

US Airways tweet gone very wrong

By now I’m sure everyone has heard about, or worse, seen the tweet sent out by US Airways in response to a customer complaint.

USAir

 

USAir2

(Note: You’ll have to Google the image yourself. It’s out there but I won’t link it to the blog)

The one with the rather graphic pornography and possibly the most hilarious thing to hit Twitter since, well, the day before when a 15 year old girl made a terrorist threat to American Airlines via Twitter. OK, that wasn’t necessarily ‘funny’ but it definitely had some entertainment value. US Airways tweet, on the other hand, is outright hilarious. And even more valuable are the 38 Priceless Reactions (tweets). I literally laughed myself into tears. Below are just a few of my faves.

USAirTweetReplies

 

Sunshine and warm weather

After what feels like the longest Winter in history, we’re finally experiencing some very welcome Spring weather. Sunshine, warmth, and even a little tan while working in the yard.

My husband and I have spent the last few (freezing) months discussing our plans for Spring landscaping. Strange how motivated one can get during ice storms with no electricity. We’re off to a really nice start with the Organic herb garden already planted and the veggie garden starting to sprout. I’m finally on board about getting chickens after a year of convincing by my husband, The idea of hormone/chemical free eggs is appealing and much more in line with our healthier lifestyle. He also wants goats but we’re not quite there yet.

Overall I’m feeling like a completely different woman than just a couple of short months ago. My entire outlook has changed. I’m far more positive. And a feeling of peace and happiness are pretty much the norm now. I’m still struggling with a bit of anxiety — waiting for something bad to happen — but I’m beginning to let that go. I’ve been wondering if I might have been suffering with a bout of seasonal depression. As much as I love rain, snow, and cold weather, this Winter was painful for me. Physically and emotionally. I also attribute better food choices and more exercise to my overall ‘good’ feeling. Amazing how ‘blah’ I felt while consuming processed sugar and simple carbs.

Oh, and social media has caused me to want to vent lately but I’m just not in a vent’y mood. Though I admit, I do occasionally call a friend just to have a good bitch, moan, and complain session — about everything under the sun. My husband has zero interest in the ‘girly’ things going on in life.

Speaking of social media, I called a dear friend of mine last week only to feel as though I was speaking to someone I had never met before. We’ve known one another since we were 15 years old, remained really close regardless of how many miles were between us, and if we would lose touch for a few years we always managed to find one another and catch up in no time. We’ve always been excited to hear from one another so this ‘attitude’ I was getting just wasn’t cool… at all. We’ve been speaking a couple of times a month quite regularly lately and all seemed to be going just fine. Yet with this last call there seemed to be a lot of underlying hostility, ie. them: “I’ve always known who I was and I haven’t changed one bit since we were 15 years old. You, on the other hand, didn’t have a clue.” Ouch. I mean, no, I didn’t know who I was when I was 15, who did? My friend didn’t either but who was I to shoot down their egomaniacal moment? But more importantly why attempt to insult the 15 year old me… that was ages ago. And what did I do that was so horrible then? And WHY would someone still be holding onto it without making an attempt to resolve it over the past couple of decades? Perhaps I’m just being sensitive. Either way it felt a bit hostile. Oh yeah, social media… my friend has a blog about a topic I find to be rather interesting so I commented. Nothing offensive or out of line, just a comment from one friend to another. I received a phone call explaining that their social media life and me are two different entities that shouldn’t cross paths and how terrible I was for commenting on their blog — though the comment was never approved or posted. Whaaaaaat? Ummm, not my fault if who they portray themselves to be in social media land is different than who they are in the real world. But wait, they’ve always known who they were, right? OK, so I vented… a little!

So yeah, that’s life lately. Gardening, enjoying the outdoors, and realizing old friends might be crazy friends.

Kuwaiti Word a Day [blog]

A few days ago I received an email from a lovely Western woman who is also married to a Kuwaiti and has actually started a blog to help her learn Kuwaiti Arabic and possibly help others who want to learn.

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Every post is a new word as one would expect. But she also breaks each word down by using it in several sentences, providing the proper pronunciation, and even the tenses (past, present, and future). I asked my husband to look over it because me trying to read words and phrases to him with my horrible accent just wasn’t working. He was quite impressed with the effort and the fact that it is true Kuwaiti Arabic.

So if you’re interested in learning or just want to pick up a few words or phrases, her website is a great place to start. She also has an Instagram and Facebook account.

www.kuwaitiwordaday.com

www.facebook.com/kuwaiti.word.a.day

www.instagram.com/kuwaiti_word_a_day

Respect; the glue which holds a marriage together

I get a number of emails every day asking questions about what makes the Arab/American marriage really work. Some share their own experiences, both good and bad. And others are hoping for just a little insight into a very confusing situation. And though I’m certain I’ve blogged about this before I figured I would cover it again since my own marriage has grown and changed.

Of course there’s no magic answer to any of their questions though I wish there were. I like to think that every now and then I do spout something that provides a little comfort to at least one person needing some peace.

In most cases I find myself looking at my own marriage and trying to identify what really makes it work. Is it perfect? Nah. Are we always running around chipper and happy? Of course not. But are we deeply in love and share a genuine concern for one another’s well being? Absolutely. And then it hit me — respect.

*Google images

*Google images

I know I’ve said this before, but in the few years we’ve been married my husband has never once raised his voice at me in anger or called me a derogatory name. He’s still very protective of my feelings and gets bothered if something upsets me. Not as much as he was when we were first together — he’s learned I’m a bit melodramatic. He knows when I’m really upset as opposed to just being a spoiled drama queen and he reacts accordingly. Yet I always know when I really need him he’s there without hesitation. He doesn’t allow me to worry about anything and he’s always making sure I’m well taken care of.

On the same note I hold him in the highest regard. I have the greatest respect for him as a man and my husband. And though we trust one another implicitly, I could never imagine doing something (especially publicly) that would be shameful to him or put him in a negative light. Not that we care what other people think, but it simply comes down to respect. Especially in his culture. Not that culture should really matter when it comes to respecting another another in a marriage.

Since meeting we’ve faced a number of challenges that neither of us had any control over, yet we somehow seemed to not only overcome, but to come out on the positive end. Our biggest challenge has probably been adapting to life here in America. Something we were both really excited about but hadn’t completely thought through. Yes, we knew it was going to be different but I’m not sure either of us knew exactly how different. Fortunately, and after several months, we created habits and a comfort zone all while growing closer together. We were open and honest about any feelings we had and we were compassionate towards what the other was going through.

And while loyalty, compassion, honesty, and humor are all very important traits, I don’t believe they can exist without respect.

Ethiopian maid kills 19 year old Kuwaiti girl [Kuwait]

My deepest condolences to the family who lost their loved one in such a tragic way. Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time.

Sadly this isn’t an isolated incident. And though it prompts a lot of talk by officials, no action has been taken to prevent it from happening again. Extensive articles are written, meetings are held, and opinions are offered, yet the only solution seems to be to ban certain nationalities from entering Kuwait as Domestics. Seriously? That’s the best they can come up with? To finger point at an entire nation of people because of the actions of a few?

How about investing in genuine, effective, and professional training for both sides (employee and employer)? Just because you’ve had maids in the home you’re entire life doesn’t make you a qualified employer of one. And just because a woman can make a bed and do dishes doesn’t make her qualified to be a live-in, full time housekeeper. The expectations of both sides are unrealistic and should be reviewed. Laws to protect Domestic employees should be revamped, implemented, and upheld. Psychiatric evals should take place before a person even leaves their country for employment.

We’ve all heard the horror stories of domestic abuse, but we’re all also familiar with those who are treated like family members but still runaway after robbing their sponsor blind. There are no guarantees. But as long as this system is broken these tragic incidents will continue to happen.

*Arab Times re-post

*Arab Times re-post

The Arab Times has posted an article filled with a lot of chatter, many opinions, some fabulous ideas, and great solutions. But until action is taken then it’s all moot.

Feeling fabulous!

After a bit of a slump I’m finally feeling refreshed and restored. Better than I’ve felt in several months. We’ve overcome so many challenges these past few months that really had me questioning how much control I actually have in my life. Not a very good feeling for a woman who has a tendency to need lots of control and even more structure.

Since rehoming the puppies I’ve managed to get our house put back together and get back into a far more productive schedule. It’s difficult to get anything done when 6 puppies are waking you up before the sun comes up and then continuing to keep us on our toes throughout the day. Yes, they’re missed terribly but we take comfort in knowing they’ve gone to fabulous homes. The morning after they were all rehomed I slept until 8am. I don’t think I’ve slept that late in years! Clearly I was exhausted.

We’ve also recently started eating much more healthy and incorporated some exercise into our routine. Surely this plays a huge role in how I’m currently feeling. I’ve been trying to avoid the scale and focus more on cell rebuilding and a healthy lifestyle. But I admit, I hop on there every once and a while… it’s motivating!

Presently business has become really exciting and taking up a lot of time as we play catch up. We’re looking forward to Spring, acquiring some new business related contracts, and doing some serious landscaping.

A lot of readers have emailed asking me to post more on Instagram as it seems that’s where most people are spending their time. And I give you my word… I will. I’m an avid picture taker and really need to be better about sharing them. Thanks for the emails by the way!

Feeling great about feeling great!

Ice Storm 2014

Just as life calmed waaaay down we were hit with an unexpected, yet disastrous ice storm. The first day left us pretty much stranded as huge trees had fallen all over the roadways. It wasn’t even safe to leave the house. And after a few rather large branches fell on our house we starting wondering how safe it was to say inside the house.

Our pond surrounded by ice covered trees

Our pond surrounded by ice covered trees

Fortunately the day before this storm my husband had done quite a bit of grocery shopping. We even fired up the grill and had a cookout — it was our only source of cooking as we had no electricity.

We kept discussing the option of going to a local hotel until power was restored in our area, but finding one that was pet friendly and had rooms available just wasn’t possible. So, we gathered all the extra blankets, snuggled everyone in, and made the best of 3 days without electricity.

Ice storms; gorgeous but potentially deadly.

The most emotional week of my… life?

If any of you still read my blog you’ve certainly noticed my blogging has come to a crawl and more recently, a standstill. I only blog from my laptop; I’m not one of those tab bloggers and probably never will be. I can only read news, check blogs, and work from my laptop. Everything else is done from the phone or tab. And considering I haven’t been on my laptop in over a week, I haven’t read the news, checked blogs, or even worked in a week! Much less written a blog post.

When my husband and I were first together there was a lot to blog about. New love, new life, new experiences. I found a lot of people were curious, would send emails with questions, and that would prompt another blog topic. Well, the same happens today but how much can I really say about my marriage without setting up video cameras in our home?

The positive side was that during that time life was so calm. Everything I had ever wanted seemed to be happening. No stress. No worries. And just genuine happiness. Again, not the greatest blog material. Surely my oh-so-chipper happiness gushing gets boring. If not sickening.

Well, none of the great happy stuff has changed — for years. Which sounds like the perfect life but I’ve recently discovered that’s not the case at all.

This past week was perhaps the most emotionally draining and painful week I’ve experienced in, well, for as long as I can remember. It felt as though the unfortunate incidents just wouldn’t stop coming. And with each one I felt more and more weak and helpless. It’s as if the ‘perfect life’ provided such a sense of comfort that dealing with tragedy was overwhelming. To the point I found myself unable to breathe as pain filled my already heavy heart. And now, I find myself bracing for the next big hit, wondering if and how I’ll even handle it. There are some things even my husband can’t fix.

Last week started off as normal as all others. Puppies (we still had 3 from the litter) running through the house, destroying everything in their path, but giving enough snuggles to make up for the damage. My husband doing his MIT coursework and working much of the day. And me chasing puppies, feeding cats, and walking dogs in between trying to be productive. My husband helps with the pet care taking but I try not to bother him when I know he’s studying or working on something important.

By mid-week anything resembling normal was about to change without notice.

First, Melicka (our Lab who currently owns my husband’s heart) was hit by a car with my husband and I standing right next to her. We saw it coming. We saw her running towards the road, the car coming at a high rate of speed, and us standing there helpless. It was one of the worst things I’ve ever seen in my life. Fortunately it looked much worse than it was. After a day at the emergency Vet and several days of recovery at home, she’s back to being herself other than some slow healing eye injuries.

During that incident we had been standing outside with the dogs and 3 of the puppies. I jumped in the car as my husband loaded our dog into the back so I could rush her to Vet as he stayed behind to look for the 3 puppies that had seen the incident and were scared away into the woods… deep woods. We were certain our dog was going to die and the 3 puppies would be lost in the woods and freeze to death overnight. I can’t even express the sickness I felt. I wanted to fix everything but had the power to do nothing at all. (The puppies were found within the hour. Cold and scared but perfectly fine)

A couple of days later, and while still nursing our baby back to health, it was time for the remaining puppies to go to their new homes. They’ve been with us for 3 months. We’ve become attached. We love them as if they belong here — regardless of the stress and destruction. So, off they went. We’re certain they’ve gone to fabulous homes and remind one another of that fact a number of times a day. But it still feels like a huge loss. I find myself needing to see their faces and know they’re happy. And yet again, nothing I can do but try to take comfort in the choices we made regarding their re-homing,

The same day all the puppies left for their forever homes one of our cats went missing. Sheikha. My little white Arabian Mau my husband rescued from the abusive little kids of Kuwait. The one who flew (along with our other cat) all the way to America with us. She sleeps under the blankets next to me. We have a song we sing together. And she has a special spot in my lap she snuggles in when she’s cold. There are no words to describe the love I have for this cat. We called her, we looked for her, we drove around for hours… no sign of her. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t concentrate, and I burst into tears every few minutes thinking I might never see that little face again. Buuuuut, when I had finally accepted I was going to have to get some sleep I saw her beautiful little face at the back door. I cried again… happy tears. My world fell back into place as quickly as it seemed to be falling apart.

As of today everything seems to be going along normally. Other than the unexpected snow storm (I’m sooooo over winter already). But I find myself just waiting for the next bad thing to happen. And all of these ‘tragedies’ were all animal related. Some people would think, ‘What kind of tragedy is that?’ But for us animal loving pet owners it’s crushing. Especially when it all seems to happen at once.

I recall several years ago, before meeting my husband, life wasn’t perfect. I faced a number of challenges, dealt with a bunch of crap, and had to solve every problem on my own. But I did it. And I like to think I did it well. I felt as though I had some form of control over my life. Or at least my emotions. I allowed a very carefully chosen crowd into my life, those I could trust wouldn’t hurt me (made a few mistakes there). And kept everyone else at a distance. I was well protected, even if it meant controlling every aspect of my encounters. And then along came my husband. He made me realize how easy it was to love and love deeply. He has never, not even once, hurt me. He makes sure I don’t worry, stress, or feel anything that might ‘bother’ me — it’s an Arab man thing. And I’ve gotten quite comfortable. Perhaps a bit too comfortable. I’ve sacrificed control for love. I no longer keep my emotions tightly within. I’m pretty much a fountain of overflowing love and feeling. It makes me vulnerable and I’m not sure how comfortable I am with that.

Is it best to keep our feelings to ourselves as a preemptive defense mechanism? Or is feeling the bad along with the good just part of life? If so, then all the dreams I had of ‘maturing into a comfortable, carefree, stress free life’ were just that…dreams.

A healthy couple is a happy couple.

With my recent weight gain and our year of over indulging in every possible food available in America, we’ve decided it’s time for a change.

For the past year we’ve focused on home, family, pets, and business. There wasn’t a lot of time for us and we certainly weren’t the priority. But it was well worth it. We had goals and a purpose. We learned, we grew, and we got out of ourselves for a period of time.

Now that our lives have reached a much more stable place we’ve decided it’s time we become a bit more selfish. Or at least aware.

We’ve recently traded in the fast food for healthy options cooked at home. We’ve given up sugary snacks, slowly eliminating all refined sugars from our diet, and reaching for more fresh fruits and veggies. I’ve even managed to replace Diet Coke with iced green tea (Tazo; Zen).

*Google image

*Google image

My husband hasn’t really gained weight since our move to America. As a matter of fact, I think he may have even lost some. However, though he has the perfect broad shoulder/small waist build, he’s not as firm as he was when we were first married. He wants to tone up and just be overall more healthy. I, on the other hand, managed to gain more weight than I would ever admit. My goal is weight loss and working towards a more healthy lifestyle as well.

I can proudly say I’ve lost 12 pounds (5.4 kilos) in 14 days. Not doing anything crazy. Just reduced my calorie intake to 1,200 per day of healthy options. No exercise, no pills, no drugs, etc. I’m confident I’ll reach my goal in no time at all.

Yesterday we went ‘gym membership’ shopping. Though we have quite a bit of equipment here in the house, we realized they’re not serving their intended purpose. When you’re already balancing work and life at home, it’s difficult to get into the mindset of working out at home too. We’ve managed to make several free hours in our schedules throughout the week that can be totally invested at the gym. We’re pleased with our membership choice and I love that it’s not only very reasonably priced but also has a steam room and sauna — my hair and skin are squealing with delight. They even have Personal Trainers on site for a nominal fee.

I’m thrilled that our lives have reached a point of stability. I’ve longed for this place in time for years and blogged about it often. And it’s nice to know regardless of the challenges we face, we face them together. And the positive changes we want to make in our lives, we make them together.

Getting healthy… together!