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...