The End… for now

It’s been a long time coming I suppose. And even now I struggle with the idea of closing the blog forever, so I’ve made the decision to leave it here for the time being.

I started the blog almost a decade ago yet it certainly doesn’t feel that way. What was initially a way to keep family and friends updated on my life abroad turned into a personal journal which evolved into a ‘life guide’ for those in similar situations. As we recently moved our company websites to another server, my husband also moved my blog. My husband, who is pretty much responsible for most of our IT stuff, also does periodic site reviews (stats, views, hits, etc) and discovered that since the blog’s inception I’ve had well over 4 million hits. I could have never imagined what started off as a simple desire to chat about personal silliness resulted in such an overwhelming response. I’m humbled and honored. But more importantly, I hope along this journey I’ve provided some insight which helped at least one person through whatever struggle they were dealing with at the time.

When my husband and I first moved to America over a year and a half ago I faced a lot of challenges. I had to adapt to being home… in my own country. I missed Kuwait on almost every level and thought of every excuse in the book to travel back as often as possible. However, that feeling has long since left me. Now the only ‘missing’ I feel in regard to Kuwait are my in-laws. The idea of moving back to Kuwait permanently almost scares me as a feeling of dread comes over me every time I think about the possibility. The first 6 months home consisted of me reminding my husband of our life in Kuwait, our home there, and encouraging him to move back. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt that way and now, if the topic ever comes up, it’s generally us discussing how our lifestyle no longer meshes with what living in Kuwait had to offer. Even blogging about Kuwait, local events there, or ‘hot topics’ doesn’t appeal to me… at all. And while I’m still inundated with invites and requests to post information, I just don’t. Not out of disrespect towards any organization, but because my personal interest has just gone in a completely different direction.

Goodbye

When I think of blogging now (yes, I still think about the blog often) I find myself wanting to discuss topics such as animal welfare, planting organic veggies and herbs, healthy living, raw food diets for dogs, outdoor cattery expansions, landscaping, home building, business development, or education. And honestly, who would be interested in any of that? Those topics often interest people who are participating in those activities… not searching for blogs that write about them. And us… well, we actively participate in them as well. Leaving very little time to write about them.

I’m not a big fan of loose ends and I absolutely despise movies that end in that ‘open ended’ sort of way. Who does that crap?! I need closure. Heck, I long for closure! I need closure so badly that I sometimes ponder incidents from years ago trying to pinpoint a feasible ending that perhaps I missed at the time… just so I can stop pondering them. Tis’ the reason for this post. Closure. As I’ve left the blog sitting stagnant for so long it’s been eating away at me. There have been a number of times I’ve almost blogged about a vacation, a restaurant, or, well, even fall weather wardrobe shopping just to fill pages. But that’s never been my purpose for blogging and I’m certainly not going to resort to that now. Not that those topics don’t have a level of interest to them, but my time constraints just wouldn’t allow me to invest what is required to present them the way I would want them presented.

Stability, schedules, and absolute serenity. That’s my life today. Over the years of blogging I’ve grown, changed, and become a woman I had only dreamed of becoming one day. I’m that person I would see in a mall or at a restaurant and say, “I bet her life is perfect. How amazing it must be to walk in her shoes.” Obviously I had no clue what the random stranger’s life was like but I knew I wanted my inside to look like their outside. And today, it does. Sure, I have a long way to go and I’m loving the journey, but at least now I know the recipe for having this life; stop comparing my inside to someone’s outside. Ironic, huh? When I was forced, due to incredible time restrictions and a nightmare schedule, to stop asking the ‘what if’s', ‘what was’, and ‘what could possibly be’s', I accidentally embraced ‘what is’. So here I am; better than I was yesterday and hoping to be even better tomorrow than I am today.

Will I ever blog again? I certainly hope so. But when I do it will more than likely not resemble anything this blog has offered. I’ll focus more on things that bring me absolute joy today. During this phase of my life.

While there’s a part of me that misses blogging, I take great comfort in knowing it was me who made the decision to take a break. You see, when you allow people into your private life by sharing it in a public forum you inevitably acquire a certain number of ‘haters’ for lack of a better word. And it almost seems the happier I became, the more my haters would go out of their way to leave negative comments, create fake accounts to follow me on social media, and even make up silly lies about me in hopes of getting some form of recognition? And though that behavior never negatively impacted my personal life, it did leave me realizing my mistake was expecting others to be as happy for me as I was for myself. When I accepted that was never going to happen it caused me to become more protective of the details of our daily lives. I’m certainly not going to put the most important people/things in my life out there to be ridiculed, scrutinized, or criticized. This resulted in the blog taking a new direction… a direction I wasn’t a fan of, didn’t feel connected to, and had no interest in following. Coupled with the outright lack of time, it just feels like the right moment to hit the pause button, focus on what makes me smile, and dedicate myself to personal goals I’ve set for myself.

My Twitter and Instagram accounts are still open though rarely active. Though I have found popping onto Instagram, uploading a picture, and banging out a few words about that moment are much easier than dedicating the time required for a full blog post.

On a positive note, I will continue to write. Writing has been my passion since I was in 3rd grade, drew a little cartoon illustrating a man being rude, providing captions on how he could improve his behavior, and my father hung it on the refrigerator. He’s always been my biggest fan and was the one who taught me to read at the age of 2. For a number of years I’ve written contributing articles for local newspapers and those located in the GCC, case studies relating to human rights issues published in annual reports, research papers, company policies, training modules, and cultural diversity handbooks for employers abroad. I simply love to write, especially when I’m invested in the topic. So yeah, I’ll write. And one day, in the future, I’ll probably start another blog (or modify this one) for a completely different reason than the one I had at the inception of this blog.

For now I’ll do my best to post comments, reply, and answer emails in a timely manner.

Thank you all for taking this journey with me, teaching me by sharing your experiences, and allowing me to peek into your lives just as I allowed you into mine.

British Airways Kuwait Documentary

This is the first of a four part documentary about Kuwait that British Airways will show on board their flights. Etihad does the same thing for the country to which you’re traveling. It’s a nice way to give a brief introduction to the country you’re preparing to visit as the plane lands, and it certainly highlights some of the more interesting aspects of the country. The video below is absolutely gorgeous and presents Kuwait in such a positive light.

I found this video on 2:48AM blog. You can check it out for other posts about the British Airways short films on Kuwait.

 

Updated video emailed to bloggers. Enjoy!

Networking and small talk.

After what felt like a super long week filled with business meetings, studies, research papers and networking, I was finally able to relax a little late last night and catch up on some reading.

While browsing for interesting and relevant articles about networking I came across this piece in Entrepreneur. Small talk; probably my biggest weakness when it comes to business development. I like to think I’m easy to get along with, friendly, and approachable, but when it comes to knowing I have to chat someone up in hopes of creating a business relationship it’s a struggle. It always feels very forced and spurious. As a matter of fact, I’ve found my most successful business ventures have been with friends or former colleagues; people I have an existing connection with.

Much of my recent business expansion has been a matter of me investing the time required to generate pertinent training modules for individuals and corporations. Of course this depends upon extensive research into organizational weaknesses and types of certifications individuals in particular departments are interested in obtaining. Oddly enough, this is the easy part. My next step is to reach out to companies I have existing business relationships with and get them on board with corporate training. Seems simple enough until you realize while you’re suggesting ways to improve by utilizing targeted training, they’re hearing, “Your company is failing”. This is where that small talk becomes an important tool — and where I feel intimidated.

Obviously creating a more personal connection with a potential client makes business feel less formal. It almost feels like a positive interaction between two good friends. But getting there relies heavily on that small talk… that ice breaker.

So, if you find yourself in a position to make small talk, especially in a business setting, you might also find this article rather interesting. It’s simple, an easy read, and makes networking feel a bit less dreadful to me.

Full article

Happy Birthday, America! [2014]

July 4th is one of my favorite holidays and I look forward to creating some kind of little celebration every year; whether it be with friends, family, or just partaking in some public event. This year has required a bit of creativity since it’s Ramadan — a futoor cook-out.

*All rights reserved

*All rights reserved

Last night we experienced the first hurricane of the season (another one of my favorite things during the year) but today the weather is absolute perfection. Even a bit chilly with no humidity. Perfect for the evening’s fireworks events.

Remember, if you have pets, keep them safe tonight! Fireworks are very scary for animals and more pets get lost on July 4th than any other day of the year. Best to keep them indoors.

Wishing you all a fabulous holiday with loved ones. Enjoy! Stay safe, be smart, and don’t drink and drive.

My expat interview.

As people are contemplating a move abroad they often seek out a number of available resources in hopes of getting a little insight into their new ‘home’. I get a number of emails from those preparing to take that plunge and jet off to the fabulous land of sand I call home; Kuwait. Over the years I’ve hoped my blog has helped out some of those expats in finding a sense of comfort in Kuwait. The readers are the reason I’ve continued to blog as long as I have… and as boring as I’ve become. I don’t check stats, I’m not in a numbers competition, I just enjoy knowing I might be helping someone out there in the cyber world. Whether it’s someone who is taking a new job in Kuwait, or someone who’s considering marriage to a Kuwaiti — I hope I’ve helped.

Recently I was contacted by the lovely Erin at Blog Expat and asked if I would be willing to participate in an interview about my life and experience as an expat in Kuwait. Though I’ve never been into self promotion, blog promotion, or any type of ‘look at me’ behavior, I was honored by her request because I have such a great deal of respect for their site. It really is the go to website for expats planning a move to any country! I truly admire the effort they’ve invested in putting together such a fabulous wealth of information.

So yeah, if you’re interested in reading more about me, my life, my experiences, and what life in Kuwait as an expat (from my perspective) is like, you can find my interview here. Or on the badge to the right, near the bottom of the page titled ‘expat interview’.

Ramadan TV schedule [Jacqui -- CouchAvenue re-post]

Every year one of the things I really look forward to during Ramadan are the fabulous (that’s debatable) television shows. I prefer the ones that are filmed locally in Kuwait so I can say, “Hey! Look! I lived there.” or “Look, honey! There’s our favorite restaurant”. They feel more personal to me. And though I don’t fully understand everything they’re saying, I understand enough to get a solid grip on what’s taking place. The acting is often mediocre, the story lines are sometimes silly, and the production isn’t Hollywood standards by any means… but they’re awesome!

A few weeks ago I asked my husband if he could start Googling what programming we could expect this year (especially since the titles are sometimes written in Arabic), and I had planned on asking my sisters in law if they could give me some insight as well. Then it dawned on me… Jacqui!!

Each year Jacqui invests a great deal of time and effort into creating these incredible programming guides for the Ramadan shows. She even separates them into Khaleeji and Arabic categories. She makes similar lists for American programming, new shows, cancellations, etc. It must be quite time consuming but she clearly does it because she enjoys sharing this information and she’s great at it.

Below is 1 page of the Khaleeji Ramadan program guide she’s prepared, however, there are many more listed on her blog which can be found here. Definitely worth checking out!

I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this list and how I’ve obviously come to depend on it. Thanks, Jacqui, for your time, effort, and making my Ramadan in America feel a little more like home.

*Click image for source

*Click image for source

Ramadan Mubarak [2014]

Wishing you all a wonderful Ramadan with family and loved ones.

Remember, Kuwait is an Islamic country and eating, drinking, chewing gum, or public displays of affection could result in a month in jail, a 100 KD fine, or both. Be respectful of the law and those who are fasting.

We’ll be celebrating the Holy month in America and I’m already looking forward to preparing fu6oor for my wonderful husband 5 days a week (we’ll be eating out the other 2 days). We just had a fabulous graish together while discussing some things we plan to focus on this month. I’m so blessed to be spending my life with one of the kindest, most compassionate, generous, empathetic people I know.

Ramadan-Mubarak-2014-B

Recruiting Americans

I was recently contacted by a former colleague to see if I could assist in recruitment for their US company with a large contract overseas (Kuwait and Afghanistan). Though I generally stick to recruitment for local companies located throughout the GCC, I agreed to give her a hand. O.M.G.

First of all, in 2014 the medical requirements changed a bit and became more strict when it comes to overall heath and weight. BMI now plays a significant role in whether or not someone will be offered a contracting position. And this isn’t just for new hires… this applies to current employees as well. There are a number of ‘replacement’ positions being filled because the previous employee wasn’t ‘medically fit’ to perform their duties. Ouch!

elephant

OK, I understand the need to have semi-physically fit employees working on the US camps. Not that they’re toting weapons or fighting in a war, but they are employed on a government contract in support of the US Military.

However, these changes leave me facing a number of challenges.

When recruiting in the US there are a multitude of laws that apply. Such as discrimination. And though ‘weight’ isn’t a protected class, not hiring someone because of their weight can quickly turn into a discrimination lawsuit — with enough evidence. Additionally, I’m conducting interviews via telephone. I can’t even see these people to make a fair determination as to whether or not they might be a qualified candidate. Obviously saying, “Hey lady, are you fat?” isn’t an option. So I have to go into the ‘BMI’ speech, explaining the new requirements set forth by the military. Seems reasonable enough, huh? Well, have you ever seen someone (man or woman) wearing something that would look super cute on a size 2 but not on a size 22 yet they’re flaunting it as if they’re modeling for Victoria’s Secret? These are the people who have an over-inflated ego and delusions of grandeur. They think they’re showing off the perfect body all wrapped up in the perfect BMI. They’re totally out of touch with reality.

Speaking of out of touch with reality;

During this little recruitment project I’ve viewed a number of resumes/CVs from individuals who are obviously desperate to find employment in Kuwait (I say desperate because they’ve applied for 38 jobs and are qualified for 0). It’s been rather fascinating to come across a resume belonging to someone you’re familiar with realizing everything they portray publicly doesn’t resemble anything factual. We do check references, verify education (even when it’s supposedly overseas), and contact previous employers. As will any reputable employer — even those not affiliated with the US. So when you make claims about your education and/or employment history, make sure they’re accurate. And, if you were recently terminated from your position as a US Contractor because of medical/weight issues, disclose that at the beginning of the interview! As badly as some might want to keep that information a secret, it’s not. Not when you’re applying to work overseas on a US contract.

Note: Please do not ask if you can send me your resume/CV. These positions are all listed online through a number of companies bidding on an upcoming contract. Each position much be applied to individually and online. Wishing you all the best in your search for employment.

ISIS, Kuwait news, and misbehaving Americans

The past few days our news (morning, afternoon, and evening) have consisted of endless reports of ISIS, war, invasion, and murder. Of course we’re getting the glorified ‘Hollywood’ style reporting. The type which kept my mother worried for years — even while I lived I Abu Dhabi. So I decided the best place to get something resembling reality would be via the Kuwait newspapers I keep up with regularly. (We do travel back and forth a number of times a year, as well as having family, a home, and businesses there — keeping up with Kuwait is still an important part of our lives.) Fortunately, and as expected, I discovered there’s no media frenzy taking place in Kuwait regarding ISIS. If anything it’s only mentioned a couple of times. Desert Girl did an awesome post about it as well and she’s far more interesting than the local newspapers.

arab-times-logo

What I did find quite interesting this morning were the number of articles regarding Americans and their criminal behavior in Kuwait. Some are about a month old, but I haven’t kept up with the crime section lately as it reads more like a trashy tabloid. However, ‘US juvenile rapes teen‘ did catch my attention. Followed by the drunk American story and the American threatening to kill his wife. Not that Americans committing crimes is a new thing, but it seems more prevalent in Kuwait now as compared to a number of years ago.

C’mon, people, if it’s a crime in America you know it’s a crime in Kuwait. Why run the risk of facing a judicial system you know nothing about in a country where the official language is probably one you don’t speak?