Death; what is normal?

The last time I posted it was about the normalcy of life and how we’re in a simple yet satisfying routine of sorts. And then, because the philosophical side of my mind is always hard at work, I started to wonder what really quantifies normal?

Several months ago I went into the hospital for a minor, planned procedure. The procedure went terribly wrong and I was not only in the hospital for several weeks, but at times, there was the question of whether or not I would actually make it. I recall being transported to the local trauma center where I was certain I was being taken because I was dying. I felt as though I were dying. I can’t think of better words to describe it other than I simply had no energy left to fight. I could feel anything that once resembled me slipping away. I remember telling the Nurse if I were there to die that was fine, I could handle that, but that I needed her to contact my family as I wanted to see them all one last time. It was my way of accepting what I felt was inevitable, but also being allowed to take everyone’s face with me when I left. Several months later, here I am. Home. Healthy. And feeling about 90% ‘normal’ again.

On the left column of my blog home page, I have a ‘blogroll’ or a list of blogs I followed often. I created that list when I first started the blog and haven’t updated it in a few years. Some of those blogs still exist, others don’t.

When a person starts a blog (something that has been replaced by vlogging) we generally do so because we love to write, find our minds are often filled with random thoughts; sometimes important, others not at all. But most importantly, I think many of us started blogs as a way to not just vent our frustrations, but to share our experiences with others. Perhaps it was our way of offering guidance or advice even if no one was asking for it. Either way, blogging allows random strangers worldwide a glimpse into our lives. And when people follow blogs regularly we begin to feel as though we know the writer on some level. We can identify with some of their ideas or thoughts, or even accidentally find solutions to our own problems through their mistakes. We often feel some kind of ‘like’ towards the writer even if we’ve never communicated with them at all.

memory

A couple of years ago one of the bloggers I followed religiously passed away from cancer (Americanbedu.com). She was married to a Saudi man, lived in Saudi for years, and moved back to America once her husband passed away. Neither of them was old or unhealthy. They simply both lost a very long, painful battle to cancer. Carol (American Bedu) had friends and family who attempted to keep the blog alive after her passing, but it just wasn’t the same. I believe the domain has since expired and the content is gone. Every one of her thoughts, memories, and life stories — gone.

Just last week another blogger passed away from cancer. Nicole Hunter-Mostafa (thesamerainbowsend.com) was young, also married to a Saudi, and was pregnant with their second little girl when complications started. Because I don’t know her or her family I can only speculate about details, and, well, that’s just disrespectful. So I’ll share what I do know based on her willingness to tell her story to us readers. Nicole appeared to be a very happy person. Her blog posts were always uplifting and upbeat. She wasn’t one to do much ranting, even if she had things to rant about. She was so in love with her husband and their gorgeous little girl Lavender. She was thrilled to be pregnant again but her blogging slowed down immensely. She had a number of complications which resulted in extensive pain for her. She cut her summer USA trip short to get back to Saudi for pain treatment in the last few weeks of her pregnancy. Her last blog post was an overview of all she had endured but no mention of cancer. Her daughter was born not long after and she shared that with everyone on Instagram. Then, suddenly, all of her social media accounts were gone and months went by with no updates on the blog. Obviously, considering we don’t know one another, this shouldn’t have made a difference to me one way or another. But as I said before, we develop a ‘like’ for the writer of the blogs we follow. We wonder about them and hope they’re doing well. Sadly, in Nicole’s case, she wasn’t doing well. And last week, she too lost her battle with cancer.

Perhaps this is incredibly selfish of me, but because Nicole was such a brilliant writer who created beautiful images in my mind with her words, I wish she had blogged. I wish she had shared her last months with us. I wish I had known whether or not she had known. Did she know she had cancer but chose to avoid treatment as a way to save her daughter? I wouldn’t be surprised — she was deeply in love with her babies. Or was the cancer diagnosis as unexpected for her as it was for her readers? Again, I didn’t know Nicole but I am deeply saddened by her death. I loved her style of writing. The way she could create a picture book of stories with just her words. Magnificent. My heart aches for her family.

I’m not going to end this post with a sappy cliché about hugging loved ones, last days, etc. But do that anyway. And do it often. We really never know when our normal may not be recognizable.

The year of me; getting healthy, getting strong, feeling great

At some point last year it dawned on me my entire adult life has been dedicated to others in some manner. This hadn’t been an issue or even a topic of conversation while living abroad because I still found time to travel, spend days at the salon, and submerge myself in luxurious comforts anytime I saw fit. Since getting married, starting a business, adopting 20 additional legs, moving to America, and acquiring a variety of livestock that must be fed on a daily basis, ‘me time’ seems to have gotten lost. Don’t get me wrong, I look around at my current life and wouldn’t trade it for the world. I’m genuinely happy beyond measure and fully realize how fortunate I am to be afforded this life. But it doesn’t mean the selfish little girl who has always resided within has moved away. She’s still here and she sometimes screams, “Hey, isn’t it pedicure day?”

Several months ago, before the end of 2014, I made the announcement to my husband; the ‘year of me’ announcement. I simply explained I felt it would be a good idea if all of 2015 was dedicated to me, my well being, and the simple pleasures I truly enjoy in life. Of course my plan was to do this without requiring anyone else to sacrifice and without neglecting my responsibilities. I mean, I am still an adult after all. Perhaps not by choice… but, well. My husband, being the kind understanding guy he is, welcomed the idea with open arms which really translated to, “I don’t have a clue what you’re talking about but yeah, sure, OK.” Fortunately I had a pretty strong grasp on my plan and felt comfortable with the idea of investing an entire year to me.

Since January I’ve made a number of positive (in my opinion) changes in my life which not only help to boost my self esteem but also play a role in my overall health. I’ve gone on a very healthy diet, lost a significant amount of weight, incorporated regular exercise into my days, and pay very close attention to what goes into my body, ie. vitamins, proteins, etc. I’ve cut out all sodas (including diet drinks) and only drink water with lemon or green tea with lemon and mint when I’m not downing a protein shake. My energy level has increased so much I find that I don’t even miss coffee/espresso. I’ve also decided since I’m working on the inside I also deserve to work on the outside; self esteem purposes. I accept that I’m aging, it’s part of life. But it doesn’t mean I have to look worn out or diminished in any way. So, I’ve opted for monthly IPL laser treatments, chemical peels, micro-needling, and after the summer I’ll possibly do a bit of fillers and Botox. My goal is simply to be a healthier version of myself, not to alter my current appearance.

More recently I’ve also been viewing a few travel options and contemplating some places I haven’t been yet. But, planning travel always leaves us with the question of pet care — a stressful topic — so for now I’ll postpone lengthy vacations and embrace my mini-staycations.

I’ve also decided this is the year I’ll invest more time into my friends. We often assume our long time (or new) friends will always be there when we need them. But if we’re not doing our part as a friend, then perhaps they won’t be. I like to believe I’m a good friend but there’s always more I could do to maintain those truly important friendships.

Then there’s blogging; a hobby I’ve enjoyed for more than a decade. Sadly, it just doesn’t seem I have the time I once had though sometimes the desire is certainly still there. But, as much as blogging has been a part of my life, it’s changed. The format has changed, the ideas behind it, and even the audience. Blogging was once a form of expression and a way to vent for many of us. Sadly most of those blogs are long since gone and we’re left with pages of paid advertisements or dishonest reviews where the effort invested is directly aligned with the money they were paid to write it. Most bloggers have moved on to Instagram, Snap Chat, and other forms of social media. For me… even those became tedious.

I digress…

I’m so fortunate to have a life which allows me to embrace this ‘year of me’ and a husband who supports it… even if he really has no idea what he’s supporting. But one thing I’ve learned these past few months is that regardless of my adult responsibilities genuinely taking some time to invest in my personal well-being is priceless, and well deserved. Sometimes, in everyone’s life, we tend to focus on the here and now and kinda forget that being a little selfish from time to time isn’t a crime. If anything, it’s often that extra oomph we need to get through some of those hectic days. So yeah, I guess we could say my inner child is the healing power my outer adult has always needed.

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!

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!

The 10 Types Of Toxic People That Mentally Strong People Avoid

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook today and it’s definitely worth sharing. I like to think my husband and I subconsciously live by this rule and it’s part of what brings us so much peace and happiness.

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1. The Showoffs

Those who feel the need to be showy are always compensating for something and trying to prove their worth to themselves. Unfortunately for them, this is how you know they have little worth. Showing and trying to make other people envious is a waste of time, unless you’re trying to make yourself feel better about yourself at the expense of others. People that do such things are not the kind of people you want to keep around.


2. The Unintelligent

I’m not talking the kind of dumb that can’t be helped; I’m talking about the kind of dumb that is a result of an immense ego, voluntary ignorance and self-righteousness. Most of us know at least one or two people who are completely unintelligent as a result of continually making bad decisions and not learning from their mistakes for their entire lives.


3. The Leeches

Growing up, we’ve all had or been that friend who was always a bit broke and always happy to take a handout. When our friends are at a difficult point in their lives, there’s no reason not to help them out or to offer to pay for a few rounds of their drinks so they come out and have fun with the rest of the group. The problem is when the person seems comfortable in the position and is making little to no effort of improving their financial situation.


4. The Lazy

Laziness is a disease, one that is highly contagious. Lazy people make other people lazy. The more you hang around the immobile, the less you will feel the need to be mobile. The mentally strong are not impervious. Hang around lazy people too often and you’ll notice your productivity and general enjoyment of life plummeting.


5. Anyone Who Lives By The Saying, “YOLO”

Understanding that you only live once can put your life in perspective. In fact, it should put your life in perspective. Yet, the Biebers, Drakes and Mileys of the world somehow managed to get the message completely backwards. YOLO: Let’s get wasted and high, do stupid sh*t, throw up all over ourselves and possibly die while we’re at it! Yes, YOLO. The whole origin of this saying doesn’t suggest doing pointless, dumb crap. YOLO means you should spend your time doing something meaningful, with a purpose. YOLO: You have once chance; don’t screw it up.


6. The Big Talkers

Those that spend their time running their mouths spend little time doing anything else. It’s the mentally strong that don’t bother doing the talking because the work they are doing speaks for itself. The talkers, on the other hand, have nothing but the empty words they’re speaking.


7. The Constantly Depressed

Not those that have an actual chemical imbalance, but those who act like they do. We all know people who are always feeling bad for themselves, always complaining about how difficult their lives are and how unlucky they are. Bad luck is not a lifelong circumstance. If your life sucks, then guess what? It’s mostly, if not entirely, your fault. Don’t keep these folks around unless you want them to bring you down with them.


8. Those Who Stay Within Their Comfort Zones

If we wish to live a life of adventure, then those who aren’t adventurous need be avoided. All those you meet and come across in your life are partners on your journey, if only for a few seconds. Those we keep around more regularly end up steering our direction more than we realize. If you hope to leave your comfort zone regularly, then don’t hang out with those who aren’t willing to leave theirs. Their chain simply isn’t long enough to go for the ride.


9. The Non-Dreamers

Those who can’t dream don’t live. Life is about believing that things can be better — not just for you, but for everyone. What makes people human is dreaming and hoping that the change to come will be for the better. Those that don’t dream won’t allow you to dream, either, and will do their best to prove to you that your dreams are just that: dreams.


10. The Non-Believers

Worse than those who don’t dream are those who dream, but don’t believe that they can turn those dreams into reality. Those who don’t believe in themselves don’t amount to anything in life. They are the losers — those that are always there, but don’t influence the world. They live in a gloomy and depressing world where their lives are out of their hands. They go with the flow and never attempt to achieve any sort of success. Don’t rely on them to support you when you need the support, either. If they don’t believe in themselves, then they sure as hell won’t believe in you.

[source]

Food and My Fears

Let me start by saying a good healthy diet and losing a few (or more) kilos wouldn’t be the worst decision I’ve ever made in my life. Especially since marriage which seems to have translated to, “Oh, you love me? Good, let’s go eat” for both my husband and myself. And what better country to do that in than Kuwait? Dining out had become not only part of our routine but even a hobby! And an expensive one I might add. 30kd (approx. $100) for breakfast is not ‘reasonable’ even if your last name is Trump (and mine isn’t).

Since purchasing our home and the large piece of land it happens to be sitting on, we’ve been doing quite a bit of research about what land owners actually do. Though I was born and raised in the South, I’ve never been a ‘country girl’ and we always lived on the outskirts of very large cities. Cutting grass wasn’t my idea of a fun way to spend a Saturday morning.

Of course all of this research has led us to gardening. Ahhhh, something I do enjoy! We’ve looked up all the things we can plant, at what times, how to preserve it through winter months, and even recipes for cooking what we grow. We’ve also been seeking out local meat farms and farmer’s markets.

Click photo for source

As I compare growing our own veggies, making our own cheeses, and purchasing meat from local farmers, I’ve also discovered how ‘natural’ this is compared to what we purchase in the super markets. Yeah, I’m a bit slow. But what I’ve found out actually scares me… a lot! I read about a little girl who has lost all cognitive abilities due to food she ate at a KFC. And a man who has lost almost 60% of his lung function from eating microwave popcorn. And the hormones put into our meats, the pesticides used on fruits and veggies, and then of course, all the artificial flavoring put into everything! My Grandmother’s dieting advice was always, “Only eat what God put on this earth”. I totally ‘get’ what she was saying all those years ago.

Surely all of this sounds like common sense and some of you are probably thinking, “Is she just figuring all this out?!” Well, not really. I’ve always known some foods are obviously more healthy than others, but I never really understood to what extent. Even now I’m only starting to learn.

Does this epiphany of sorts mean I’ll suddenly change the way I eat? Of course not. If only it were that easy. But it definitely arms me with more, very important information. Knowing how our food is made and how often our organs regenerate is really important stuff.

“Find Your Greatness”

Though I’m not a fan of the lack of business ethics displayed by many major corporations, I can’t deny Nike’s Marketing/Advertising is simply brilliant. We’ve all heard the term ‘less is more’ and Nike has capitalized on it.

I’m someone who’s always looking to improve myself and do as much as I can for the world around me — regardless of how small it might be. I firmly believe a positive attitude makes all the difference and sometimes what appears to be minimal makes the biggest impact.

Love the new Nike ad campaign as they appear to be taking a public service announcement approach. It’s almost a continuance of ‘Just Do It’ which seems to lead to ‘Find Your Greatness’. Genius!

 

HIV Home Test

Though the statistical rate of HIV in Kuwait is documented as reasonably low, one can never be too sure. Especially with all the infidelity taking place. Husbands and wives alike.

Now there’s an HIV test that allows people to test confidentially in the privacy of their own home. And the price is incredibly reasonable — approximately 10 KD with a discount for purchasing multiple tests. The test is simple (swab your gums) and reliable with a 99.98% accuracy rate.

For now it’s only available online and can be purchased here [link]. In the near future it will be available in drug stores across America. Below is a video showing how easy it is to use along with more useful information.

Health and Fitness Expo

The event is September 25-29 at Mishref Fair Grounds Hall 5, from 9am-9pm.

I love that this information was sent out so far in advance; an indication a lot of planning is going into this. Should result in a great Expo. And what a fantastic event to have! Too often we see reviews and opinions about new restaurants, fatty foods dripping with Nutella, and the promotion of eating! It’s refreshing to see an event supporting something positive and beneficial to our health.

Further information below:

We want to welcome you to the largest health, fitness, and weight loss exhibition the Middle East has ever seen and right here in Kuwait. We are gathering companies from all over to exhibit at our 5 day event. Also at this event we are organizing the biggest MMA (mixed martial arts) tournament in the Middle East and a massive 5 day health seminar.

Kuwait has the one of the highest rates of obesity, hypertension, diabetes and other weight related disorders in the world. This is an exhibition that Kuwait really needs to showcase the latest options and breakthrough in the world of fitness and weight loss.

 Do you know about the center stage? ***

I want this exhibition to be fun, exciting and entertaining. The Health, Fitness and Weight Loss Exhibition will feature a center stage of 48 sqm. where companies will showcase their latest products, services, fitness moves, and the coolest innovations in weight loss and bodybuilding. From karate matches, Yoga presentations, circuit training to the biggest bicep competition in Kuwait, the center stage is all lights, camera and fun for the first time ever in Kuwait. 

Who is going to exhibit?

Diet care and healthy restaurants

Gyms and Fitness Centers

Health Spas

Nutritional products companies

Pharmaceutical companies

Sports Equipment Suppliers

Sports federations and associations

Weight loss clinics and hospitals

Cellulite and body toning products

Diabetes and blood pressure control products companies 

Who is going to attend?

Everyone and anyone interested to lose weight and lead a healthier lifestyle in Kuwait. People who want to discover the latest developments in fitness to the type of healthy restaurants in Kuwait. Diabetes and blood pressure patients (and Kuwait has the highest rate in the world) who are looking for qualified medical advice. Sports and outdoor lovers. Amateur and professional bodybuilders. The list goes on and on. And yes, the entrance is free. Do you know anyone who will say no?

‘65 pct children suffering’ – ‘Kin marriages’ tied to amentia

KUWAIT CITY, Feb 13: Sixty-five percent of children suffering from amentia in Kuwait were born to parents, who are first or second degree relatives, reports Al-Mostaqbal daily quoting results of a recent medical study.
According to the study, 25 percent of those found to have amentia in the country are newborn babies, while 25 percent of married couples in Kuwait are first or second degree relatives, resulting in the high percentage of fetus deformation or babies born with physical disabilities.
Meanwhile, gynecologist and consultant at the Pre-marriage Medical Examination Center Dr Iman Al-Yafei explained couples planning to get married are now required to undergo certain laboratory tests to ensure they produce healthy children and reduce their financial burdens.
She said the center was established in accordance with law number 31/2008 and executive bylaws of ministerial decision number 96/2009.

[Source]

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When I describe the marriage process in Kuwait to my Western friends, they’re often shocked. They’re confused by how a couple can be legally married yet sometimes still choose not to see one another, or even talk on the phone until an actual wedding takes place. But when I start discussing arranged and cousin marriages they’re almost appalled. More often than not I hear, “No way! Arranged marriages and marrying a cousin is something from centuries ago — this doesn’t happen now!”

Well, not only does it still happen now, but it happens very often — especially among certain cultures in Kuwait. It’s not because either party is desperate or can’t find a suitable husband or wife in another manner, but because certain cultural behaviors prevent them from knowing people outside of a small circle — and/or because women can’t dare become a ‘spinster’ and be without a husband by a certain age.

Personally, I believe in free will. It’s a gift we were all given by the highest authority. It should be the one gift we’re all allowed to live by when it comes to things as important as a life partner. Love and respect come from a certain level of interest which turns into a bond between two people. Thinking two people can be ‘chosen’ for one another and expect the love to just happen (sooner or later) isn’t reality. It’s almost a punishment for both.

And, according to the statistics in Kuwait, a punishment for those children who are afflicated with serious disabilities resulting from marriages of closely related individuals. Marrying a 1st cousin in America has been outlawed in most states for this very reason.

This is not to say people who have disabilities are any less lovable than those without. But their lives are more difficult. It causes a strain on a marriage. It results in feelings of guilt from both sides. And, if given the choice, surely neither would have chosen this life for their offspring.

Cousin marriages — is it really the right thing to do?

“Statistical research on Arabic countries shows that up to 34 percent of all marriages in Algiers are consanguine (blood related), 46 percent in Bahrain, 33 percent in Egypt, 80 percent in Nubia (southern area in Egypt), 60 percent in Iraq, 64 percent in Jordan, 64 percent in Kuwait, 42 percent in Lebanon, 48 percent in Libya, 47 percent in Mauritania, 54 percent in Qatar, 67 percent in Saudi Arabia, 63 percent in Sudan, 40 percent in Syria, 39 percent in Tunisia, 54 percent in the United Arabic Emirates and 45 percent in Yemen.”