20 September 2016

4KM Square and Denmark

It's been almost TWO MONTHS since I first arrived in Riyadh.  I can't believe it.

I think part of my disbelief has to do with the fact that we were away in Denmark for Hajj for about a week and a half, so when I arrived, we were immediately getting ready to depart.

Since that first night, I've been trying to settle in and learn the ropes.  Every morning, before the sun gets too high in the sky (temps during the day since I've been here have ranged from 120F/48C  to 100F/37C) I go for a walk around the neighbourhood.  The compound is 4KM square so I do the circuit each morning, listening to podcasts and enjoying the calm the early morning brings.  There are others who take advantage of the cooler weather as well - people walk, run, and cycle...  It's a little movement community out there!

As mentioned before, there are buses that take us into the city for grocery shopping and to the malls.  Nice when you need a break from the heat and good to see what products you can get from all over the world!

Our break to Denmark for Hajj was lovely.  We stayed in a little cottage about an hour north of Copenhagen, 500 metres from the ocean with a little pond (complete with a grumpy old heron!) in the back of our space.  We cooked yummy food, enjoyed our time together, and savoured the autumn-like weather!  We visited two UNESCO World Heritage Sites while there - Stevns Klint (an amazing geological site where you can see a layer of rock that shows when the large asteroid hit the Earth) and Roskilde Cathedral (a beautiful space with tons of really interesting Danish history).  We spent time at the Viking Museum in Roskilde as well learning about the design of Viking Ships, stepping aboard replicas, and enjoying a lovely lunch by the water.  We enjoyed a lovely dinner at sunset at Dragsholm Slot where we dined in the Bistro on the most delicious cucumber soup, local fish, and vegetables from the castle's garden.

We even had the chance to connect with good friends of ours.  We rode the (super fast!) ferry from Sjællands Odde to Århus to have a lovely vegetarian lunch, enjoy the city, and just catch up after a couple of years apart.  The last couple of days were spent in Copenhagen, noshing on gorm's pizza, enjoying a lovely tea service, and relishing in our last couple of days in Denmark!

A little colourful beach action near our cottage!

Moody blues...

Our dear friends with Dave

The little pond behind our cottage

Tiny violet bursts

The path to the beach or cottage...depending on which way you walk

Viking Ship

Modern-Day Vikings

Roskilde Cathedral

The most adorable tiny horses

An old church at Stevns Klint

Layers of history

Stevns Klint

Sunset at Dragsholm Slot

Study of light and shadow

Dragsholm Slot

MORE sunset at Dragsholm Slot

Little tree

Earth and Water

gorm's...a favourite in Copenhagen for pizza

The most beautiful little tea service

Now, I am off to Bali for work to teach and assist on another yoga teacher training.  While I am happy to be going back to a place that always inspires and energizes me, I am also sad to be leaving Dave once again.  We've been apart for far too long this year, but as we know ALL too well, distance can and does make the heart grow fonder.

ps.  In addition to everything happening here, my sister, Melissa, and her husband, John, just arrived in China on Friday to adopt their little boy, David!  I've had the chance to meet him on Skype and he is just the sweetest thing.  So happy for their family!

Sjællands Odde

05 August 2016


A half hour left in the flight and I made my way to the bathroom to put on my hijab and abaya.  As we descended over Riyadh, I kept tugging at my headscarf while ping-ponging between watching Hillary Clinton announce Tim Kaine as her running mate on the live feed on CNN at my seat and glancing out the tiny plane window upon the sea of lights - dimmed by the dust in the air - signalling our arrival.  It was by far one of the most surreal moments of my life!

The arrival was simple...pass through customs, get my picture taken, give fingerprints, collect my luggage and greet Dave.  This time, our greeting was different with just a smile and a "hello!" as opposed to our traditional hug and kiss session.  Friends of ours were gracious enough to give us a ride home and as we drove along the darkened streets, I realized that I was now in my new home...

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

If anyone would have told me two years ago that I would living full-time in the Middle East, I would have laughed.  Sure, Dave and I had talked about the idea, but I really didn't think it was possible.  And yet, here I am.

We live on a compound with other expats, much like the US Army bases I grew up on.  There are pools and play areas, green spaces, a market, tennis courts, and a gym.  I've been spending my days doing yoga, walking around, working out, and learning more about compound life.  Things do work differently here and I am slowly finding my way, step by step.

It is hot.  Like - take-a-hairdryer-blow-it-up-10,000-times-and-aim-the-hot-dry-air-at-your-body-all-day - kind of hot.  When the wind stirs up and the dust blows hard, it's challenging to get outside.  Thankfully, my walks outside from one space to another are short.  Dave has assured me that when things do cool down, I will want my sweaters in the evenings.

And, yes, we brought sweaters.  Knowing that we would be traveling from time to time to places that afford us views of ice and snow and breaths of cool, crisp air, we wanted to ensure we had what we needed.  While the majority of the small amount of possessions we have are housed in a storage unit back in Canada, we did bring two large HUGE Dakine bags worth of clothing, books, photos, and other necessary pieces for our time here and abroad.

I've been off-compound a few times.  The shops here are exactly as we have at home and many of the women will take the bus for some time in the malls and shops around the city.  There are Burger Kings and Starbucks, Longhorn Steakhouses and Applebee's.  These are nestled amongst the local shops adorned with their beautiful script and architecture that continuously remind me that I'm not in Kansas anymore, Toto.  There is so much to see and do, it is just a matter of making arrangements as women are not permitted to drive here.

If anyone were to ask how I am feeling about this transition...  it is odd.  I am in a new home in a new land.  I've been so lucky to already have met some amazing people, yet I long (already!) for some of the conveniences of home.  I feel privileged to be able to have this experience, and I know it is a choice we made to be here.  I'd also say that, as I get older, I do find it more and more challenging to break into community...to make new friends and start over yet again, but hey...this is my life and the path I have chosen to walk!  Most of all, Dave and I are so happy to be back together again...life is better this way.

I'm excited to learn and share more, to drop into a sense of community and to re-establish myself in yet another part of the world.

17 July 2016

Life Lately

I have felt bad awful about posting.  But, after reading this oh-so-true-and-timely post by Katie over at The Art of Simple, I knew I just had to write.

Because...she articulated what I haven't been able to so well... and we are in the thick of it.

Our lives have changed radically over the past two years.  We have both changed careers, moved cities and countries, packed and unpacked and packed and unpacked, been apart more than we've been together, and are generally in a....  *funk.*

Most of the time, I avoid writing here because I don't think there is much worth going in to, but then I realize there is so freaking much going on and no wonder I'm not that motivated to post on this blog.

This blog gets set aside for everything else.  It is the very last thing on my mind until the wee hours, when I am just about to go to bed, and all of a sudden, I get a little Moose Jaw Minute niggle in the back of my brain that says...

"You aren't in Moose Jaw anymore...is it relevant?"

"Remember when you loved updating this blog?"

"Sheesh...life seemed a lot more clear two years ago..."

"People aren't reading it, so why bother?"

And then, I bother because it's my life.  Our lives.  Because this is a little diary where I can type things out and they don't have to be funny or witty or warrant a response.

So, here's the truth...

I love my husband so much and that fact that we aren't together is breaking my heart.  I love my family and am so grateful to them for all of the support they are providing me in the midst of transition (ahem, can you say living with mom and dad at the age of 37 for six months when they are supposed to be enjoying their retirement and each other???) and it breaks my heart to say goodbye to them again and again.  I love my sister and her husband and their awesome kids and it is heartbreaking to not be around to support and see everyone grow and change and be there during their major life events.  I love teaching yoga and the fact I'm not doing that on a daily basis right now breaks my heart.

I love to travel, but at the same time, I love the idea of "home" and can't wait until we have a space to call our own.  I love Pinterest, but I hate that I long for other people's lives (and homes, and clothing, and camping equipment).  I love my country, but I am so sad that it is so torn, and broken, and that people are hurting so, so, so very much.  I love the work I do, but I miss the stability of a 9-5 and a paycheque every two weeks.

So, I think about the heartbreaks and then I also think...

My life is awesome.  Truly.  I have so much gratitude for all I have and the opportunities to experience so, so much, but I am struggling to balance it all.

These past two years have changed me.  They have brought me closer to my truth, to my core than I ever thought I could be.  They have also knocked me for a loop and left me dizzy with uncertainty.

They have been incredibly challenging, rewarding, lonely, scary, luscious, full, joyful, and everything in-between.

In that array of emotion, and especially when I'm feeling especially off-kilter, I find myself thinking about the things I wanted to do when I was a kid.  Being a grown up seemed awesome.  I remember I wanted to change the world in some amazing way...I wanted to be the first female President of the United States, a marine biologist who studied spinner dolphins, a social rights activist, and a paediatric oncologist.

In my tougher moments, I wonder where that superwoman is right now...that superwoman (in an eight-year-old body) who thought anything and everything was/is possible and was super-motivated to make those dreams come true.

She needs to come hang out again and let her massive freak flag fly.  These are the moments and times when I need to pull out that little cape, dust it off, and try it on again.  It might feel different, but I think it could help me realign to my passion, to start making things happen, to remind myself that "I have control" and that, in the end, superwomen never go it alone, but instead have sisters and brothers providing love, support, and guacamole when it is needed most (...Popeye has his spinach, I have avocados).

We will get through this tough time, and we will be different and better for it.  In fact, I might even make myself a new cape...

28 January 2016


January is drawing to a close and while time seems to have slipped through my fingers, this has also been one of the longest months I can remember.

The new year started off with a dance party in the den with my nephew and nieces, dinner on our traditional Spode holiday plates, and a weekend hike at High Falls with my sister and her family.  Dave and I attempted to call each other at our respective midnight hours and managed to get in a few words before turning into our respective time zones.

This has been the month of letting go...of intentions, of expectations, of want-to-dos and should-dos.  This is the month that has indicated what kind of year 2016 might be...one where I might need to surrender a bit more rather than control.  One where the wild ride of transitions continues and I hang on to the safety bar in my roller coaster car for dear life.

This will also be the year of big shifts in terms of how I want to approach that never-ending ride of ups and downs.  Last year, I spent a good deal of time steeped in the heaviness of longing for some-kind-of-unidentified-something-else.  This year, I am hoping to be content in the here-and-now of what is right in front of me.  To focus on maintaining precious connections over many miles via the wonders of technology and to treat myself with the gifts of love, patience, and respect...as all people deserve.

It is the year that deserves some serious thought as as things shift...personally and professionally...thoughts that demand intention, mindfulness, and lots of writing in journals.

January has been hard as in the letting go I've felt as though parts of me are slipping away.  More than anything, my greatest fear has revolved around disappearing and not being seen.  I've felt like a ghost in many respects as I move further from how I used to identify myself in terms of worthiness and success and into that nebulous in-between space of redefining what those two terms mean.

But, then again, maybe disappearing for a little bit isn't the worst thing in the world.  Disappearing can mean giving myself the time to sort out the questions, to feel into what is coming next, and to have that quiet time necessary to prepare my body, heart, and soul for what is coming down the tracks.

In the meantime, I'm trying to recognize those tiny moments each day where sadness isn't the emotion that takes centre stage.  To find comfort in the little things.  To be genuinely grateful for all of the amazing things I do have.  To know that nothing is permanent, even these feelings...

09 December 2015

An Update

I haven't felt like posting here at all this year...as indicated by the random blurbs that have appeared in only the first six months of the year.

This year was tough.  It was exhausting.  It was hard.  And, I am better for it.

Winnipeg just didn't agree with us.  As much as we tried to make it something awesome, we just couldn't do it.  I was lonely, Dave wasn't thrilled with work, and we were on a tight budget that restricted our ability to enjoy all the city had to offer.

Don't get me wrong, Winnipeg has its gems!  The Forks in the winter are lovely - skating on the river, little glühwein huts, and snow on the ground; our friends who live there are spectacular; the Canadian Museum  for Human Rights; and, last but not least, I became a regular at the little coffee shop down the street - Little Sister Coffee Maker - where the friendliest baristas I've ever met made me feel like family.  We took long walks at Assiniboine Park and I truly enjoyed my long runs through the city as I trained for a couple of marathons during our time there.

However, something was always just...off.

So, in mid-September, we left.

Dave left his job and I left the volunteer work I was doing with Siloam Mission.  We left with a plan that involves flying, yoga, the Middle East, and travel.  We left with a five-year goal in mind that will allow us to start living the life we imagine for ourselves on the West Coast of Canada.  We left with sadness at what could have been and big hopes for what this next adventure will bring.

When we left Winnipeg, we sold and donated most of what we own, taking four days in a U-Haul to drive to Ontario to put our small stack of bins in a storage locker.  We then criss-crossed Canada and went into the US to visit friends and family before departing on our next adventure.

The trip went a little like this:
Manitoba --> Ontario --> Alberta --> Saskatchewan --> Georgia --> British Columbia

We ate good food and connected with amazing people along the way.  Friends and family made room for us in their homes and lives and gave us the support we needed in the forms of hugs and words of encouragement.

Then, it was off to Bali.  After four weeks on the road and constant movement, we were happy to land on the island and have some time to reconnect with each other.  We had two weeks together of naps, yummy Indonesian food, and long walks.  After two weeks, I was into my advanced yoga teacher training and Dave was off to England to do some on-boarding with the new company he is working for.  He was there for two weeks before heading off to the Middle East to begin his work in earnest.

I completed my teacher training and am now back in Georgia staying with family while I wait for my visa to come through so I can join Dave.  It means another long separation in a marriage that has already seen its fair share of distance, but we know it is worth it.  We know it is all part of the grander plan we are creating for ourselves and keeping that thought at the forefront is key.

It is really hard to write this and try to encapsulate what this year has been like.  I feel disconnected from parts of it, yet fully immersed and appreciative of every experience because I know that we are better for it.  This year has taught me so much about myself and has invited me to dig deeper, leaving me raw, open, and ready for whatever is to come next.

Whatever kind of year you've had, I wish you all the best as we move into 2016.  As this year comes to close, I want to send you the following:

"This whole year has been about becoming who we are, so that we can finally live the life we are meant to.

A life that doesn’t just appeal to others from the outside, but one that sets our soul on fire from the inside.

It’s about giving up the belief that we have to color within the lines and realizing that the most beautiful masterpieces are those that drip off the canvas in glorious passion." 

- Kate Rose

30 June 2015


June was awesome.  It was one of those months that you wish would hang on a little longer.  While May lasted forever and day plus eternity, June went by in a flash.

A few weeks ago, Dave and I decided to have a go at the Fort Whyte Alive Twilight Run 10K.  Aside from swallowing a few bugs along the way, we really enjoyed running the trails in this spectacular place.  There were tons of people participating in either the 5K or 10K and every participant received a cool new headlamp to light the way as the sun began to set.  Afterwards, we enjoyed some s'mores by the fire and then made our way back home.

That same week, we ventured over to a nearby neighbourhood to check out Humboldt's Legacy, an eco-store that is chock-a-block full of eco-products and clothing for you and your home.  It was awesome inside!  We browsed through racks of Patagonia gear, checked out some of the nibbles on hand and marvelled at the gorgeous textiles displayed on some of the shelves.  If you are ever in Winnipeg, this is a don't-miss!

Over the past two weeks, I've been out on Vancouver Island visiting our friend, A.  Her husband recently deployed and it presented the perfect opportunity for some time together.  We watched their son play each morning in the backyard, we browsed through shops, took walks, made awesome dinners each night, and even managed to fit in a bit of rock climbing.  

We ventured over to Pender Island and drove around, stopped for a fantastic little lunch at just-opened Woods on Pender, and then into the Sea Star Vineyards show room where we sipped some fantastic white wines.  We also headed in Victoria to make our way (very slowly!) down the street for Car Free Victoria day where we took in the music and looked at all the awesome wares on sale from a variety of vendors.  I also got to see Victoria's Patagonia store and discovered the Sitka store as well.  Gear-a-go-go!  Being on the island reminded me just how much I love it there and it was so hard to say goodbye!

From Vancouver Island, I made my way to meet Dave in Toronto.  We were going to a friend's wedding and this was going to provide me the opportunity to meet his college buddies, as well as to see his mom and wander around the places he grew up.  The wedding was fabulous - one of the best ceremonies I've ever seen!  We danced and laughed and thoroughly enjoyed the poutine bar that was set up toward the end of the night.  

The next day, we ventured to Orillia to meet his mom for lunch before she headed off to work.  It was so great to see her and I loved our chat over our toast and coffee.  We toured around Coldwater and Orillia and I even got to meet one of Dave's friends from preschool.  The towns are lovely and I can see why Dave talks about the area he grew up in the way he does.  Everything was super green and there were trees everywhere!  We stopped in for a tour of Mariposa Market and grabbed a quick bite and a pint at Brewery Bay Food Company.

As we move into July, I want to wish you all a very Happy Canada Day and Happy Fourth of July!  

10 June 2015

A Homesteading Weekend

I have no pictures from this past weekend...only words.

Dave and I volunteered to help out at the DIY Homesteader Festival, an amazing just-out-of-town experience where people can learn fermenting basics, how to raise chickens, permaculture techniques, and how to mend clothing.  There were vendors and farm-to-table food along with one of the best bunches of people I've seen gather in one space in a long time.

I stumbled upon Nourished Roots when I was looking for space for Dave and I to garden in this summer (alas, those plans have gone unfulfilled).  It's a lovely little homestead with over 300 acres of farmland.  The brains behind Nourished Roots are Trevor and Adrienne Pearcy...a lovely and dynamic duo who are living the dream.  According to their site,
Adrienne and Trevor traded in fancy shoes and power lunches for galoshes and preserves years ago. Now you’ll find them and the kids building compost bins, hauling wood, turning soil and building bush trails most days. That is of course when they’re not in the kitchen cooking up delicious recipes made using traditional food prep methods…
um.  How cool is THAT?!?!

Adrienne hosts workshops around traditional foods and when she and Kris Antonious met at a networking event a while back...things took off, friendships were forged, and the DIY Homesteader Fest was born.

The Festival is a labour of love by Trevor, Adrienne, Kris Anotonius (of Tiny Peasant fame!) and Mike Berg who does game design.  Together, Kris and Mike own Cityfolk Creative - the graphic design force behind the Festival.  These four are dynamic, talented, and among some of the most friendly and engaging people I've ever met.  With their brains combined, they have created a collaborative sharing space for homesteaders of all property shapes, sizes, and geographic locations to come together and celebrate what this type of lifestyle is all about!

The day of the Festival, Saturday, began with rain.  Not the nice-gentle-spring-misting kind of rain, but the torrential-downpour-there-is-no-way-you-will-not-get-soaked kind of rain.  Our arrival to the grounds was delayed as a result of the flood being released from the skies above.  Mike was the first one we met and (have I mentioned friendly) he directed us to enjoy the morning on site.  We had the opportunity to attend two workshops before starting our afternoon volunteer shift.

We decided to attend "Intro to Fermentation" and then "Permaculture Food Forests."  Both presenting topics of interest for Dave and I.  We sampled some amazing kraut and salsa, enjoyed hot (and very soul warming) beverages from Pilot Coffee, stood by the fire where campfire cooking demonstrations where taking place, and walked around the marketplace drooling over the selection of local wares and food on hand.

The deluge finally broke just before lunch allowing the crowd to enjoy their meals and snacks outside while Dave and I wandered off to find out how we could help!

The majority of the afternoon was spent helping to set up for a "Natural Playscapes" session that was occurring.  We shovelled, dumped, and spread mulch for a good part of the afternoon...meeting other volunteers along the way.  We re-stocked toilet paper in the Port-O-Johns (someone's gotta do it!) and then helped to set up one of the larger tents for the highlight event of the evening - a Land & Lake Farm Dinner with a menu to rival any four-star restaurant.  We moved tables, set up chairs, draped tablecloths, laid out plates, folded napkins, and generally made the space as welcoming as we possibly could!  The team putting this particular piece of the day together was just lovely and we did a lot of laughing as we ran around getting everything for the guests that would be streaming in very soon.

On our way home, we gave two other volunteers a lift back into the city and enjoyed talking about relationships, homesteading, budgets, and life.  It was wonderful connecting with people who share the same vision for their lives and our planet.

I wish I had taken a before and after picture from our day.  At the beginning we were a little cold, VERY wet, and unsure of what we would find...by the end of the day, we were sore, grinning from ear to ear, and a ton happier for dipping our toes into this awesome community.