Driving in Bahrain, part 1

Driving in any foreign country is often a cultural experience on to itself.  Bahrain is no exception.  Upon arriving in Bahrain I was still shaken up from my car accident in the States and the thought of driving in Bahrain was a nightmare.  I literally still shook when I had to drive and sitting as a passenger in Bahrain was just as terrifying.  Now, looking back I realize Bahrain was just  the cure to my driving fears, mostly because I either had to sink or swim.  Not really having a choice, unless we wanted to hire a driver (which is totally a normal thing here), I have learned to find driving in Bahrain quite efficient.  Not really sane or safe in anyway, just efficient.  I get from point A to point B, which is the whole point of driving, right?

Driving in Bahrain is frustrating for my western, logical, mind.  When we first moved here, just getting to my destination seemed like a momentous occasion to be celebrated.  I’m still amazed at how I’ve learned to navigate around Bahrain since Google maps “does” work here but seems to be about 1 block delayed and street signs may or may not exist.  Even the signs that do exist can be so faded you can’t read them, blocked by an overgrown tree or bush, or just straight up wrong.  Before one can really celebrate arriving at your destination, finding parking (which might be a whole blog on to itself) becomes the real obstacle and test of patience.  Thank goodness the rules, I mean guidelines, for parking are even less defined.

Driving in Bahrain takes patients, a lot of patients.  It also takes the sense of letting go of expectations. Which seems weird because if you think about it ALL of driving is based on expectations…certain expectations that everyone will generally follow said country’s driving rules.  And this is where the patients come into play.  Driving “rules” and “laws” do exist here but no one really follows them.  They are more like guidelines or suggestions open to serious interpretation based on the driver’s country of origin, how expensive your car/SUV is, and how big your vehicle is.  Now having been here 15 months, from what I have witnessed, these are the only agreed upon driving guidelines that most driver’s follow:

  • Drive on the right side of the road, inshallah.
  • Turn on your lights when driving at night, inshallah.
  • Stop at a red light if there is a traffic camera.  Otherwise, inshallah.
  • Honk often.
  • You are the most important driver on the road, so everyone needs to get out of your way and read your mind since you don’t use any signals.
  • Do not use any signals.
  • Park anywhere your car sort of fits.

Those are the guidelines.  Speed limit signs and other traffic signs are posted everywhere but these are more like side-of-the-road decorations or, again, suggestions.  Right of way exists to the largest vehicle in the vicinity, or the car that honks the most aggressively.  Pedestrians definitely do NOT have the right of way and never assume since you are walking half way across a street with your kids in hand a car some distance away will see you or slow down.  This makes walking with the kids a nightmare.  This is probably why you rarely see kids walking around on the streets.

While no one seems to know how to use a turn signal here (a pet peeve of mine even in the States), honking is everyone’s form of communication.  It’s not as bad as Delhi, India, Lima, Peru or other major cities I’ve traveled, but it’s still a lot.  At first, the honking got to me and it made me all flabbergasted and stressed out. Over time, I’ve learned to distinguish between the honks and realized honking (not signals) is a form of communication between drivers.  Here is my analysis and honking guide for Bahrain:

  • One long honk = equivalent to the middle finger -or- I’m not happy -or- get out of my way -or- watch out.
  • One short honk = move -or- start driving.
  • Short repetitive honks = (typically following the one short honk) i’m losing my patients and you need to move now before this turns into one long honk.
  • Two short honks = thank you (I have only seen three people in my entire time here actually wave as a ‘thank you’).

I’ve started using the honks. What I’ve learned is: 1. they work, and 2. God forbid you accidentally give someone two honks (“thank you” honk) when you meant to give one short one. The car in front of you becomes so confused they freeze and it takes longer for them to move. Rookie error.

There is so much more to go into this topic like parking, Saudi Swoops, car seats, and motorcycles but for now I’ll leave you with this. In a country that seems to be me-me-me first on the road, Emergency vehicles (i.e. EMT vehicles) have to stop for red lights even when their lights are flashing and sirens on. YES!!! I know.  I’ve seen this happen many times.  Every time I have witnessed this all I can do is pray. Pray that the person or people inside make it. Pray that the added 1-5 minutes (depending on the red light) isn’t the difference between life and death. And pray that the driver says “Fuck this shit” and blows through the light knowing how ridiculous it is to wait while no other vehicle on the road does.

Then again, maybe this is a deeper reflection of my time in Bahrain. Maybe this country, while I love it, has made me a little less optimistic. Or maybe it’s more optimistic, depending on how you see it. Either way, if you choose to visit us (and the doors are still open as long as we are here) please come with your favorite anti-anxiety remedy/medication or a new bottle of whiskey.  Tad particularly likes Jura which is hard to find here (wink wink).

Until next time. Aloha & Namaste.

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Living in the illusion

Note:  I allowed the following to flow through me this morning.  I use to write this stuff on paper and in my journals in the past.   They are buried away in boxes (so is the life of a military spouse).  Today it came out on computer.  It is incredibly scary and vulnerable to share what comes through me at times like this.  This is a cathartic blog.   Having caught up on my morning World news, I  was balling.  From violent shootings in the US, villages being raped and torn to pieces in the name of dogma, starvation and lack of fresh water in the Middle East, and millions of people being displaced around the globe due to catastrophic weather patterns…it felt, and feels, too much.  It makes me so angry, so sad and then when I just let it out, cry until I can barely breathe, I begin to hear a calming voice that keeps me focused on something higher than myself.  Honestly, to me it feels like my version of “God” trying to talk me off the roof, bring more love into my life, and to make sense of all the suffering.  

To share the following is terrifying.  However, in the last year something shifted in me.   I use to be more reserved and afraid of what others thought of me.  Now, if something terrifies me, I say “fuck this shit” (meaning the fear) and I do it.  This FTS attitude, has been incredibly healing for me and for many others who have written to me encouraging me to keep up the online presence, or writing, or authentic shares.  So yes, I’m sharing the following below, unedited.  I’m not even sure if it makes sense. Maybe there will be something in it.  Maybe not.  But at least I feel better now that it’s out than keeping it in stuffed in some corner of my crying heart.  

I use to tell my mom as a child, “If I can positively impact the life of one person before I die, then I will have lived a fulfilled life.”  She reminds me that I have already done this.  I now realize I’m upping my own game.  From here on out it is my heart’s and life’s mission to positively impact the life (i.e. reduce suffering) of as many people on this planet as possible, including myself. My own experiences and past will not control me.  I will use them as tools for my own growth so I may shower as many people on this planet with love and aloha as possible. 

With this said, I’m giving you a huge hug right now. No, even bigger than you imagined.  I love you!
H.

—–

There is a saying in Chinese medicine, “When treating a person, above all you must treat the Spirit first.”  It sounds woo-woo, sounds out there but it is Truth.

The biggest cause of fear in our World is our disconnection being talked about as our “differences.”  The biggest cause of illness and dis-ease is STRESS from this disconnection.  No, that is not empirically researched, that is straight up living, learning, and dedicated observation in trying to understand life.  This country, our world, our communities and our families are divided not by a real division but an ILLUSION of a division that stems from a lack of connection with their True Nature, their Spirit, and a belief that different means bad or wrong..  The only Truth’s I know are: everything is always changing, death will happen, and we are already whole.  However, most people choose to live out and live in their illusion of their lack of wholeness.

The Founders of the US Constitution, pure geniuses imo, were correct when they said, “we were all created equal.”  Truth.  However, the interpretation that we all have equality from that moment forward is an interpretation.  It is false and another illusion to believe that each person born into this world is equal.  The only equality that exists is the unity of a whole being that is uniquely different from all the other 7 billion other people on this planet.  What is true is that each person on this planet is uniquely there own and whole just as they are.  Nothing else is equal.  Rather than push a false narrative that we are created, born, and live equally is just false.  What makes this human existence truly our own, divine, and unique is that from the point forward after creation (when the sperm meets the egg) a whole host of factors beyond our control and within our control begin acting on us and it is how we respond consciously, physically, and unconsciously that make each of us uniquely our own person.   Created equal and get to live equal are NOT and will never be the same human experience.   We are different and we need our differences in order to be uniquely our own self.  But there exists an illusion that differences equal bad and since we do not want to support the “bad” we disconnect.  The illusion exists that because you are different, we cannot connect, or share similar experiences, bond, or have discussions regarding our differences.  The illusion is just that, a false veil.  Differences are good.  Differences are what makes sushi, sushi and lasagne, lasagne.  What gets us in trouble, what divides us, what makes us want to be right over the idea of being free is when we begin to live disconnected or separate ourselves from things that are different than us or our beliefs. Difference’s exist.  Disconnection exist.  But differences does not have to mean disconnection.  Disconnection will always lead to suffering…as every traditional healing method that has survived the test of time all say…disconnection from our Spirit brings about death.

What I see, what I feel, what I witness, what I have learned every time I fear and work with people in a studio or clinic setting is that people are living in their illusion of separateness and disconnection rather than allowing themselves to live in connection with self, others, nature, and hence the world around them.  And I don’t care how religious you are, how many times you pray or meditate or do a sun salutation, religion is not a deep connection with your higher self and your version of God, Universe, Love, Oneness..  It might mean a connection but if it is, than you’re not offended by the above statement because you know you’re connection is Divine and doesn’t need labels.  Connection is about something deeper than a weekend pot-luck and group or affiliation or how far back you can bend.  Connection takes you deeper to a place that is about walking your talk and living your message.

Perhaps if we all asked ourselves these questions everyday we would know if we were living connected or in the illusion that disconnection.

Do you care about how you treat yourself, and what you say to yourself in the silence moments when the lights are out and you’re about to go to bed, when someone is attacking you physically, emotionally, or mentally?

Do you care about how you treat others when they are right in front of you but more importantly when they are not in front of you?

Do you care about how you treat Nature, the very Earth that gives you all your sustenance (food, water, sources for shelter, cars, and technology).

Are you walking your talk?

Do you care more about being right or free?

Have you sat with your own fears and really analyzed them?  Have you sat with your past? Your trauma? Your experiences?  Those skeletons in your closet and really allowed yourself to heal and get help?  Or did you disconnect with that part of yourself and push it aside.  Whether you were raped or are the rapist, the child being hit or the one hitting both are whole people just responding and protecting their illusion to fit what they thought was their reality, what was real, what right, what was needed to stay “safe” or in “control.”  But surprise, you are whole (always have an always will be) and it, all that stuff, your past, your experiences, are still with you, just stuffed away in some corner of your consciousness, heart, and tissues persistently trying to have a life of its own until one day you have a break down and it can finally release itself.  It doesn’t mean you’re broken.   It doesn’t mean you’re bad.  We are just Spirits having a human experience and the rules are not so black and white.

We are trained from a very young age to protect ourselves, and figure out what is “right” and what is “wrong.”  As we get older though, we have the ability to think for ourselves and to wake up to the illusion.  Wake up to the fact that you’re living in an illusion that you choose to live in or live out.  If you’re living to be “right” than you are not free and you’ve pushed your Soul aside in favor of your mind’s ego, little brain, cultural norms, or safety, literally the caveman/cavewoman aspect of yourself.  And that’s fine if you want to live that way.  Honestly, the majority of our planet has to live that way because of safety and needs based living (think Maslow’s hierarchy here).  But if you’re reading this, if you are part of the population that gets to live life outside of your minimum and basic needs of food, shelter, water, and physical/mental safety then it’s time to wake up.  You ask yourself why the World looks the way it does?  It’s because the people who have the ability to wake up AREN’T.  They are choosing to be RIGHT over FREE.  They are choosing to hold on to an illusion that our differences are somehow bad, wrong, ugly, or unsafe and disconnection is the solution.   It’s time to DISCONNECT with the illusion and CONNECT with your Spirit, your true nature under all the veils you, your family, your culture has placed on you.  It’s time to wake up.  Enough is enough.  Wake up.  Wake up.  Take responsibility for YOUR life, for your choices, for your words, your actions, your thoughts and reconnect with what matters most…your connection to your Spirit, that silent voice within that is trying to be FREE. Stop stuffing that voice away and needing to be RIGHT.

When was the last time you really looked into someone’s eyes?  Not an IG feed eyes or a FB feed eyes but the eyes of your neighbor?  The stranger walking past you?  The person making you your favorite $5 coffee drink?  And people get all up in arms about people who cover their hair, or wear veils, or wear booty shorts but does anyone look in the eyes anymore?  This is what I’m talking about.  I’m guilty of it too but when I catch these things in myself I really want to make a difference and take the steps to make a change within myself.  This doesn’t make me better or worst, maybe a little self-centered, but I’ll take it.  My form of self-centered allows me to feel good about who I am and give my love openly despite your color, race, cultural background, or disease.

Reconnect to your Spirit and you will find at first that it feels like your life is falling apart.  It is, because if you want to live connected with Spirit with your True Self than you can’t continue to live the same way you have been in fear, illusion, and disconnection.  But not all things that fall apart are broken.  Things falling apart is the illusion of your separateness and disconnection breaking apart allowing your life to reflect something more connected. Will it feel like you’ve lost control? YES, 100% but that’s the point.  When you try and control your life, that being “right” is better than being free, you have to build up a lot, A LOT, A LOT of barriers and walls to maintain that disconnect and way of life.  However, the more you continue to allow yourself to be connected with your Spirit you will begin to see your life take shape in ways that feel easier and more alive, and things you once would have dismissed as weird or from the twilight zone are now signs and serendipitous messages.   The differences won’t seem so scary anymore and the fear based living will slowly subside.

So yes, treat the Spirit first, not last.  Treating the Spirit is treating the body and the mind.  It’s all connected.  Disconnect with the illusion that different is bad or wrong.  Reconnect with your breath.  Reconnect. with Nature.  Nature has always healed, always will heal, and will always continue to heal for those who want to reduce suffering.  So go outside.  Take a breath of fresh air.  Put your feet in the dirt.  Get dirty. Worry less and embrace all of it as if it were your own child.

 

Even bees get “Bahrained”

#bahrained is a common hashtag used in conversations among my American friends living in Bahrain.  It’s hard to describe #bahrained unless you live here.  It’s kind of like an inside joke but the joke is on you.  Bahrained is typically an unfavorable outcome or describes a situation that only seems plausible and acceptable in a place like Bahrain.  In addition to #bahrained there are also the regularly used #bahrainproblems and #inshallahtiming.  Let me use my week to shed light on insiders’ terms and give you a glimpse of what life can be like living in Bahrain.  Note to reader: I did not make up any of this.

I pick up my car, the Island Beater, from the mechanic on Sunday night.  I don’t drive it at all on Monday. On Tuesday, as I’m driving to teach my first class at a new yoga studio, my Island Beater overheats because the water tank decides to fall apart.  I’m stuck turning the AC off and turning the heat on in 118F/48C degrees hoping it will help cool the engine off.  Simultaneously I pray to God, and every remover of obstacle deity I know, that I can make it over the one stretch of highway that is a bridge with  no shoulder and no exits.  #bahrained

I make it across the bridge and even further than I had anticipated.  Eventually, my car finally dies in the middle lane and everyone honks at me and gives me the Bahraini hand swat in mid-air as if I’ve purposely let my car die in the middle of the road trying to ruin their day. #bahrained

#Luck: My car turns back on.  I go back into prayer mode, “please car, please car just get me to the studio.  please.”  I’m giggling with how ridiculous my morning is.  It’s only 7:48am.  At snail’s pace,  pleaful chanting, and reassuring car talk like my car is trying to have a baby, I putter my way to the yoga studio.  The car dies as I turn into the parking lot. BUT I MADE IT!!!  I think, “it’s not a bad day after all.”

I’m dripping sweat because I’ve been driving with the heat on in 118F/48C degrees.  I run into the yoga studio for a sweet surrender and cold escape only to discover the studio’s AC and electricity are not working.  Not joking.  Seriously #bahrained!

I pull my phone out of my bag only to be reminded my phone died the night before (not joking) and I’m using a back-up phone with no contact information for any of my “guys”–not the car/mechanic guy, not the tow truck guy, not even my Bahrain friends. The only number I have is Tad’s because it’s his old phone but then I realize he isn’t allowed to have his phone with him at work so I’m texting all my updates to a turned off phone sitting in a locker. #bahrained

#smartphonesforthewin:  I go to open Facebook to start my search for phone numbers, tow trucks, mechanics, etc. and discover the FB app is not loaded on the phone and there isn’t enough memory to download it.  Thank god for plain old internet on a phone.  I think, “I love you Steve Jobs.” 

I have to choose where to rectify my situation: inside the studio with no AC but a roof to cover me from the blazing sun OR outside with a slight breeze.  It’s now a feel temperature of 122F/50C degrees and the iPhone6 is beginning to get hotter and hotter with every search and phone call I make and the battery is draining like crazy. #bahrainproblems

#LifeisGood:  It’s now Wednesday…I go 24 hours without anything “exciting” happening.  My car actually got towed to the right mechanic.  My kids are sort-of listening and not draining my soul with whining.  It’s a good day. I’m also headed to a sunset SUP yoga paddle session with a Bahrain bestie.

I’m being a good global citizen by picking up the trash in the water as I paddle around only to pick up a bag of ground beef and half of it is still filled with flesh (semi-cooked because the water is so warm) and it flies across my legs, arm, and board.  Beef?!  Who finds ground beef in the ocean?!  #bahrained.

It’s still Wednesday, the sunset was beautiful and I’m relaxed knowing I got all my #bahrainproblems out of the way for the week.  I was wrong.  Just as I’m finishing up I receive a text from our nanny that there is no running water at the house.  Surprise, I just got #bahrained…again.

On the way home (my friend is driving) the mechanic calls to say he thinks he’s fixed the car but he can’t be 100% sure. Furthermore, I can come pick up the car tonight and hopefully it doesn’t overheat again or I can leave it with him until tomorrow and he’ll double check the engine in the morning. I decide to go another day without a car and now start to realize I may have to cancel work because I don’t have a car and possibly running water.  #bahrainproblems #bahrained

It’s evening prayer time and close to dinner so my landlord and his brothers are not checking their phones and receiving my calls.  I need the plumber guy ASAP but I don’t have his number because, remember, I still don’t have any phone numbers because my phone is dead.  #bahrained

My landlord comes over and realizes he can’t fix the water, he’ll send someone over in the morning…Inshallah.  I don’t hold my breath because that literally translates to, “someone will come check out the water situation in the next week.”  Let me introduce you to #inshallahtiming.

I smell like dying flesh because I haven’t showered all day but have sweat like crazy teaching yoga both on land and in water and had to walk to and from the yoga studio in 110F/43C degrees (because my car is still at the mechanics), and I still have remnants of semi-cooked beef juice on my arms and legs.  HOWEVER, Tad tells me there is water in the upstairs bathroom.  YES!!!  So I squat under the trickling stream of water, lather up and scrub the beef juice areas extra hard, turn the water on to finally wash off and THERE IS NO MORE WATER.  NONE.  NOT EVEN A DROP. I’m forced to wipe off the soap with drinking water, a wash cloth, and baby wipes.  #bahrained.

#Luck:  It’s now Thursday morning, less than 48 hours after my car died and about 60 hours since my phone died, and the plumber guy actually shows up.  It’s the first time in a full year someone has shown up when they said they would.  Inshallah THAT!  It’s going to be a good day.

Thank goodness I took the day off because not only can the plumber not figure out why our water isn’t working (and I’m now wondering if I need to move us into a hotel), I now also have the Civil Defense Department at my front door.  What? Where did they come from?  Why are a bunch of very official looking men standing at my front door.  Oh wait, the landlord this morning saw a bee hive in our yard and is having it taken care of. #bahrained  This is a good time to insert a joke: “How many men does it take to remove a bee hive?”  Apparently in Bahrain, about 10.  No surprise though for anyone who lives here and constantly sees one man working and 3-8 on-lookers…I mean helpers.  We’ve finally arrived to the title…

Even bees get #bahrained.  The Civil Defense’s solution for a bee hive is to blast it with water.  No joke.  The very official men all arrived on a florescent yellow fire truck.  They drug a fire hose into our entry way and blasted the poor hive to pieces.  I didn’t want them to do it but the order was called in by my landlord out of wanting our family (mostly the kids) to be safe.  When I saw they were honey bees I lost it.  Honey bees are like GOLD!!! I thought I was doing so well this week given the onslaught of #bahrained moments but it was the bees that broke me.  I started crying for the thousands of bees dying and drowning in my entry way while the Civil Defense crew picked dates off my tree.  Even bees get #bahrained.

#Life:  So there you have it.  It’s now 2pm on Thursday [deep breath of relief].  I’m still using a back-up phone because the phone plan we use (Google’s Project Fi) only has a few specific phones that work with its plan and NONE of those phones are sold in Bahrain.  Surprise.  And YES, if you just silently said to yourself “Bahrained,” you get it. You got it.  By noon I got to bring my Island Beater back home and our water was turned on while I was getting the car (it’s a miracle).  Life is good.

Honestly, I’m not really surprised by this week.  About one week ago I heard that voice within warn me, “Are you ready?”  I knew what it was talking about.  I hear this voice and have glimpses of what-might-come-to-be in the most random times, doing dishes, opening a car door, brushing my teeth.  Life’s been really smooth lately—no major bumps, a few house issues (but what’s new), and overall we’re all in a really good Bahrain groove.  The voice was letting me know the pot was about to be stirred.

The old me, the version of me I still have memories of in college and even in my 20’s, would have cried, lost it, complained, and even thought the world was out to get me. Now, I know these weeks are here to test me.  I see weeks like this as a check-in to see if I’m really walking my talk.  They are also a good reminder that life is good.  I mean really, the truth is if I’m texting my Bahrain besties #bahrained or #bahrainproblems, it means we’re making light out of an annoying situation.  No one is hurt.  No one is in serious danger.  I’m overly grateful to have the means to take care of each situation as well.  We’re turning our complaints into jokes and trying to just do the best we can given our western upbringing in a same same but different country .

During weeks like this I can’t help but think about all the people who move to the United States and have to adjust to life there.  Do they have a term with their friends that helps them get through their adjustments?  Like ‘Merica’d, or “RWB’d“?  That culture shock and adjustment just seems unfathomable to me.  Like all things, living in Bahrain is another great test of letting go of the things I can’t change and learning how to be more adaptable, open minded, and even accepting of the things I don’t wan to accept.  I know not everyone moves as much as we do but maybe my week, my #bahrained vignette will help you to be more compassionate to people in your neighborhood, city, office, or school.  Please, next time you meet someone who has moved to the United States, might I suggest you think of Tad, Trace, Izzy, and I. They are likely going through a similar adjustment period but uniquely their own in a foreign land.  Rather than see them as different or not fitting in, maybe just realize they are a son or daughter making the most out of their given situation and likely getting there version of #bahrained.   

From my heart to yours…

Aloha & Namste

 

Happy 1 year Bahrainiversary to us!

And just like that, we’ve been here for one year [eyes bulge out of disbelief]. In my mind, it feels more like 7 months. To Tad, he says even shorter. But alas, we’ve hit our 1 year Bahrainiversary and we are definitely in full stride.   I had full intentions of writing a 1 year blog before we went to Georgia (the country in Europe, not the United States) but that clearly never happened. So here I am, one month post Georgia finally getting a moment to write.

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Tad and Trace feeding the camels at the Royal Camel Farm.

Bahrain has and continues to treat us well (knock on wood). Tad has been traveling all over the Middle East and back to the United States quite frequently. While he doesn’t like being away so long and so often, he seems to be enjoying the executive treatment at the airport lounges like a kid in a candy store. And let’s be honest, traveling without kids has to feel like winning a jackpot.

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Trace wearing his Pre-Nursery end-of-the-year costume at the bowling alley.  Yes, that’s a 11lb bowling ball.

Trace LOVED attending Kidz World (pre-school) this last year and is still our avid learner and bookworm. To my own fault, I often treat Trace way older than he is. Tad taught Trace how to say, “mommy, I’m just 3.” I wish I didn’t need to be reminded, but I do. He’s just so mature and smart.  Aaaand he still loves to cuddle.  I feel like I can really get into this age.  Maybe 3.5 years is my thing.  2.5 is definitely NOT.  Intro Izzy…

 

 

 

 

 

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Izzy is better at walking in heels than I am.  She has also perfected her fashion blog pose at an impressive age.  

Izzy…Oh Izzy. She is so her own (said with a huge sigh and huge smile). That girl. Pre-Geogia she was getting soooooo bored staying at home with me (yes, she would tell me) and kept asking me to go to school with Trace. Thank goodness Kidz World is hosting a summer camp they both started after our trip to Georgia. Izzy is super excited to be a big kid now and Trace loves having Izzy at “school” with him.  Already, this summer is a big turning point for Iz. Not only is she going to Kidz World every morning with her favorite person in the whole entire World, but she also decided she doesn’t want to wear diapers anymore. Score!  She also has turned up the boundary testing by 300%.  Maybe Trace was this stubborn but if so the amnesia is real.  She’s testing me in every way possible.  Tad just taught her, “mommy, I’m just 2.”  Izzy naturally threw in the head tilt and cute blinks while saying it.  Watch out World…Izzy’s coming for you.

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Getting ready to paddle out for a solo Stand Up Paddle Board (SUP) Yoga session.  

And me, oh yeah, me. It’s all divine timing. The week I signed the kids up for summer camp I was contacted by three different yoga studios to teach.  Yoga is just beginning to become a thing here, as is all things natural and holistic.  And with the country being as small as it is, apparently my name got out.  It is really good timing for me to be here now. Now that the kids are at summer camp and soon-to-be pre-school every morning, I’ll be teaching yoga at two new studios in Bahrain while continuing to teach Stand Up Paddle Board (SUP) Yoga for Beach Culture and growing my YouTube channel library Yoga with Haunani.  I’ve also been asked to do cupping, acupuncture, and workshops.  We’ll see if that comes to be.  So yeah, we are all in our little Bahraini groove and it feels amazing.

Recently, I’ve noticed Tad and I sharing more and more phrases that start with, “You’d never know unless you lived in Bahrain….(finish the sentence with something new to our family).” So in honor of this one-year mark, I figure I would share some of these insights we’ve gleaned as a family. Honestly, I’m not sure these are specific to Bahrain.  They are probably more like lessons you learn for western family moving anywhere in a Middle Eastern desert-like country.  However, since we live in Bahrain, here goes…

You’d never know unless you lived in Bahrain:

  • 105F degrees feels cool, even with humidity.
  • Having a “guy” for everything is the only way you get things fixed here.
  • Wearing glasses or sunglasses with metal frames during the hot-season (June-October) will burn the side of your face or anywhere that your frames accidentally touches your face.
  • Having your own date tree is the best!
  • Driving gloves are required…not for the cold (the only reason I knew they existed) but for the billion degree steering wheel that cooked in your car while you were getting groceries or running an errand on Base.
  • We are in the middle of everything…it takes 3-5 hours to fly all over the globe and we are definitely taking advantage of it.
  • A 3-5 hour flight with toddlers is no big deal.
  • Hummus in the United States is gross.
  • Tripping or falling onto your hands, knees, and even face, during the hot-season, can lead to 1st and 2nd degree burns.  Izzy helped us figure this one out.
  • Making crisp, fresh french fries is harder than you think.
  • Holistic anything…yoga, Acupuncture, Ayurveda…is spreading like crazy here.  It’s a good time for me to be here and help that growth and education.
  • Keeping a house in good working order…water, electricity, plumbing…is apparently a miracle.  We all live in miracle homes in the States.
  • The “Saudi swoop.”  It’s totally acceptable to cut across three lanes of traffic to make a turn or u-turn.
  • Fruits have seeds in them…duh, I know but everything you buy in grocery stores in the US has been modified to lose the seeds.  I love showing the kids all the different types of seeds and making them learn how to eat around the seeds.  Less work for mommy!
  • You can drink camel’s milk.
  • Rain is both a blessing and a curse.  Blessing because it’s rain in the dessert and a curse because this island was not built for rain.  Everything turns into water front property, including your bedroom floor when the water starts leaking through your roof or running down your walls out of the Air Conditioning units.  We lucked out but several families here had full on rivers in their homes.
  • Google’s Project Fi is the best phone service and invention for families who move abroad and travel a lot.
  • Cars have a lifespan of 10 years.  It’s literally so hot and sandy it destroys the cars. My car is 12 years old and everyday I pray to God it starts and doesn’t fail me mid-drive.
  • High rise buildings and malls are still built by hand…like the whole thing, cement bricks and all.  Only the really rich developers bring in the machines like a crane or cement mixer.  It’s truly impressive.

I’m sure I could keep going on and on because a lot of stuff we’ve gotten use to.

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Now that we are at our one year mark it means we are mentally preparing for our next move.  I know, CRAZY, but that’s how it works.  Move.  Adjust.  Settle.  Prepare (to move again).  Repeat.   With that said, NO we don’t have any idea where we’ll be moving next. Maybe by December but I’m not counting on it until March 2018.  I have asked Tad numerous times to extend and stay here but that will not be happening.

By the way, I post a lot of family (Trace and Izzy) photos and our life in Bahrain on Instagram.  Only a few get shared on Facebook.  So close friends and family, if you want to see more of us, follow me on IG at BreatheConnectBe.  If you want to follow my work (yoga, acupuncture, holistic health), follow me at AlohaYogiMom.

Until next time.  Aloha & Namaste.

Ever receive a bird as a party favor? We just did.

Warning: there is swearing in this blog. Yes, it is warranted.

I have so many blogs to write, to catch up my online journal/family memory lane blog.  I’ll get to them.  Some day.  But this one—this one deserves staying up to write.

I consider myself rather imaginative.  I can come up with really crazy stories, out there ideas and hypotheses.  I’m a “free thinker” in so many ways.  But never, ever, ever, EVER in a million years did I ever consider that people gave away birds as party favors, let alone be on the receiving end of this unimaginable concept. But it happened. Oh yes, it happened.  And it happened to me last night.

Let me say, as I begin writing this I’m about 24.5 hours into this cultural comprehension moment and I’m still in a little shock and overcome with random chuckles and LOL moments.  Last night I was leaning more towards the shock side of the experience and as the day progressed, I’m just laughing and giggling at this very unexpected and unconventional “gift.”

Screenshot_20170611-23So how did this happen? The short version: I delivered some goodies for the kids celebrating Gurgaon (a special day in Ramadan) to our neighbors and came home with a bird. Literally, I wish there was more to the story but there really isn’t. The neighbors had invited us to come celebrate Gurgaon with them but by the time they were celebrating (after sunset, Iftar, and prayer) our kids were already asleep. This is not the first time this has happened. The Bahrain family schedule is very different than ours. Since I had prepared goodie bags and some treats, I didn’t want them to go to waste or spoil so I thought I’d just stop by really quick, drop them off, and apologize that our kids had fallen asleep.

Yeah, well as I left our house Tad and I both knew there was no way I could just drop something off. A polite invitation to join the festivities would inevitably happen. For how long I’d be there, we had no idea. I asked Tad to call me if it got too late. So off I went with the goodie bags and cupcakes (from the amazing Semper Fi Treats).

When I arrived there was a sea of shoes already at the front entrance.  Like in Hawai’i, people take their shoes off before entering  a home.  I was greeted by our landlord and he immediately invited me to joint the festivities. Several woman–his sister, wife, mother, and cousins–all came and welcomed me. I couldn’t leave. No matter what I tried to say, it would be unacceptable to leave. So there I was invited to sit and join the family Gurgaon/Ramadan gathering. I was feeling both happy I had changed out of my pajamas and back into my day clothes (jeans and a blouse) since the room was full of beautiful gowns and dresses and super uncomfortable since I had not gone to great lengths to look my best.  In fact, I had the just-got-out-of-the-pool-and-put-on-some-clothes-look.  I was stunning in my own special way.  Haha.

I sat down and was immediately given a huge bag of gifts for Trace and Izzy. I learned quickly it is quite uncomfortable to receive gifts for a holiday you don’t celebrate and from people you barely know. Literally for the next twenty minutes there was song, dancing, and blessings for all the children, especially the new babies in the family. From what I gathered from the cousin who patiently sat next to me and tried to make me feel at home Gurgaon is a big celebration for the children, especially the new babies in the family since last Ramadan (at least this is how it was being celebrated).

During this time there was a non-stop stream of gift giving, mostly candy and food items, but also fully wrapped gifts of all shapes and sizes. I sat there more and more uncomfortable. I literally came over with goodie bags of candy and chocolate and here I was being given so many gifts it eventually would take me three large bags to bring it all home. As the blessings seemed to be winding down, the song and dance less the focus of I saw one of the cousins leaving with her son that goes to Trace’s school. In my mind I thought it would be a good time to leave.  If she’s leaving, it won’t be rude for me to leave either.

After I said my good-byes and thank you’s, I was attempting to walk out when the sister stopped me and asked me to wait for one more gift. I already had three large bags of gifts and food they had just shared, what more could I possibly carry or get? This is when she came out of the house with the bird cage and bird. I’m sure my jaw dropped, my eyes bugged out of my head as I chuckled with disbelief trying to turn the gift away. But when she said it was from the two new babies of the family (I forget their names) I realized there was no turning this bird away. Culturally it would be beyond rude and a disgrace. Somewhere in my shock and bewildered perspective-rocked mind, I thanked her and proceeded to walk home. The rented black and white miniature pony didn’t even get a double-take from me as I carried the chirping bird toward my house.

Thinking back, I must have looked like a crazy unkempt lady walking down the street with bags in one hand, a tiny bird cage holding it in front of me like it was a dirty diaper, while I stared straight ahead like a zombie mumbling quickly and out loud to myself, “Oh my god, we just got a bird. Oh my god, Tad’s going to die. [Quickly glancing into the cage but not long enough to acknowledge the reality of it all] Oh my god, this is a bird. What the f&ck? Who gives a bird? [chuckle] I’m holding a bird. [chuckle] Oh my god, I’m holding a bird. What do I do? Should I let it out now? What the f&ck? What the f&ck? What the f&ck!” Then I was home.  We live two houses away.

Thank goodness Tad is an animal loving Saint who took the news and appearance of a tiny pink cage and scared-shitless bird to heart with a chuckle, open-mind, and heart. He immediately understood the cultural conundrum I was put in and also realized I couldn’t turn the bird away. His first overzealous, animal loving idea was, “great, now we can have a house bird that just flies around.” Having lived with parakeets in my pre-teen years, I immediately vetoed that idea reminding him bird shit would be everywhere. He disappointingly agreed.

Between our disbelief and fits of chuckles and laughter we discussed our other options. Should we release it outside? That wouldn’t work because what would we say when the landlord visited or brought his kid over for a play date and asked about the bird. Would we lie to them? Tell them we “accidentally” let it out? And in our hearts we knew the finch would likely become feral cat food more than anything—which I’m sure would make the neighborhood cats happy and tiny birds are not endangered but the thought of this little bird being mauled by street cats was disheartening.

“It wouldn’t be acceptable to return the bird would it?” we considered. That’s when Tad declared, “I guess we’ll just keep it.” And if any of you know how Tad makes decisions, once it’s made, once it’s declared, it’s done. So, just like that we had a bird. Tad decided it would be good for the kids, the kids could name it, we could only keep it for one year because we could not move with it (military wouldn’t allow it), so what harm could having a bird for one year do? For a second my imagination ran wild with memories of my birds, the cleaning, the smell, biting Trace and Izzy’s fingers, bird getting loose and there being a mad hunt trying to get it back in its cage, and then the tears of having to say good-bye to another beloved friend when we have to PCS (military move). In my mind a lot could go wrong with this bird. But it was decided Tad chose the name Lemy (after _____) and then went to bed. So much for the kids getting to choose a name.

I poured myself a glass of wine, sat there half stunned, half hysterical as this little bird chirped away in a cage way to small and I posted on Instagram and Facebook about our bird. “Does anyone know what type of bird this is? Male? Female?” Screenshot_20170611-211908.pngWithin a few minutes I was informed it was a male zebra finch. Upon doing a Google search I could confirm it was and I began reading up on what I was now going to be responsible for keeping alive for one year until we could re-gift it back to our neighbor/landlord who has a huge aviary at his house.

The information I read was only putting me into greater shock and disbelief. This one overly generous unnecessary gift was escalating quickly. Everything I read said I’d need to get at least one more bird, if not more since they like community. I’d also need to get a huge cage.  If I wasn’t so concerned about early-onset dementia I would have been pounding my head into the table saying, “what the f$ck?!!!!” over and over again. I chugged the wine, told the little birdie to have a good night, turned off the lights and went to bed not convinced his name was Lemy.

After a surprisingly deep night’s sleep the very first thing I woke up thinking was, “Fuck, I have a bird downstairs. Should I go release it before the kids wake up?” I checked my phone really quickly almost hoping I had a message from Tad saying he’d already done it. Nothing. I did have a bunch of social media updates that made it clear birds are either loved or hated; there’s no in between. By the time I had my contacts in and ran down to see if it was still in the cage, I heard Izzy waking. By the time I got back upstairs Izzy was standing at the top of the stairs and immediately said, “I hear birdies.” Her cute little voice saying “birdie” sealed the deal. It was too cute. She would love it. I picked her up and we listened a few more times as I told her we got a new bird. Before I knew it, Trace was up and asking me about the chirping sounds too. The look of anticipation and excitement was like Christmas. Now that I think about it, that must have been quite a morning for them. Go to bed with no clue of anything changing and wake up to mommy and daddy getting a new pet bird. I think we just reinforced their concept that mommy and daddy are magical.

IMG_20170611_090253.jpgTrace and Izzy were in love at first site. I quickly told them it was a Bahrain bird so that when we travel and move it needs to stay in Bahrain. I also told them we needed to find a name for it. Trace wanted Bobby. Izzy thought about it through breakfast than declared Kaka. Both seemed appropriate. After I told them daddy’s name idea, Trace then declared “the parrot” should be called Lemy Bobby Kaka. In good ‘ole Hawaiian style our bird has a forever long name.

Trace keeps calling it a parrot even though I correct him every time. Izzy…oh, Izzy, she is hysterical. She is her own. All day today she has been running up to the cage and yelling, “Boat snack!” to the bird. This makes me laugh out loud every time. For those who don’t get it, it’s a reference to the movie Moana. Maui, the demigod, calls Moana’s chicken a “boat snack.” I found Trace singing to the bird before school because he told me it would make the bird less scared. Izzy also kept saying in her sweetest voice ever, “It’s okay birdie” every time it chirped. So yes, we now have a pet finch (not a parrot) for the next year.

IMG_20170611_204538.jpgThe neighborhood watchman found an unused cage at the landlord’s house so we could upgrade the size of the cage this evening. Tad is already talking about buying a friend for the finch so he doesn’t get lonely and depressed. I, on the other hand, have cleaned the surrounding of the cage five times today. And while the bird seemed to like yoga class today, possibly even falling asleep during savasana, it’s going to take me a while to get over the culture shock of receiving a bird as a party favor.

When something unexpected happens to you that is both hysterically funny and culturally out of the box, it is quite a psychological experiment in mindfulness and watching the mind waver between thoughts and reactions that are both loving and ones that are cruel.  I know this is just a bird.  It’s not like it’s a rare species or human being but still…receiving a bird as a party favor is like my friend texted me, “so funny, so wrong.”  I’m already hesitant to attend any more events at my landlord’s house, especially for Ramadan or Gurgaon next year. I guess our saving grace from a pet chicken or who knows what they’ll hand out next year, is that we will be getting ready to move this time next year. Now THAT is crazy to think about too.

Toddlers are a yoga practice

If you didn’t know, yoga is a BIG part of my life.  What began as a simple idea of, “I should try every exercise class on this schedule,” at the Walla Walla YMCA turned into an obsession and eventually a way of life.  I didn’t know it then but I do now, yoga gave me a framework to relate to the world, a paradigm that I finally felt connected to with all my heart and soul.  I’m not sure if I found yoga or if it found me but either way, it saved me (physically, mentally, spiritually) and has continued to be the biggest teacher in my life.  Until I had kids.

Trace is now 3.  Izzy is 2.  [eyes bulging out of my head]  No, we did not “plan” on having two toddlers but clearly I needed this in my life for some reason.  Izzy, right on queue, began having tantrums (the reeeeeal ones) two days before her second birthday.  For a moment, I had forgotten about tantrums because Trace is now old enough and smart enough to just get angry and scream bloody murder rather than be two-year-old-irrational-crazy.  I hate tantrums (said every parent ever).  In my mind it is an ice pick cracking my soul in half, my brain in two, and every foul word out of my mouth before I can catch it.  No, I don’t swear at my children (not yet) but the things that come to my mind are not pretty.  I hate tantrums.  They suck my soul right out of me and leave a skeleton of hate cooking a meal (because for some reason tantrums happen when I’m trying to prepare a meal…or maybe I’m just in the kitchen a lot. So cliche.  I know.  But true.)

do not use or copy this photo without mother's permission

Being 2 is hard.

Since my yoga practice has been more focused on the meditation practices rather than the asana (postures) recently, I decided to “meditate” through some of Izzy’s tantrums over the past few days.  I didn’t sit in lotus pose, close my eyes, and “oooommmmm” it away, I simply took a few deep breaths when they began and really listened to what she was saying, how she was saying it, and how I was responding.  In doing this, I realized my response to her tantrums (typically irreverent, eye rolling, patience that quickly turns to yelling, or laughing) is just as much a “tantrum” as hers.  #TruthHurts

I knew I needed to flip a switch before I flipped-out-of-my-mind. Yoga reminds us to look within ourselves when external things are triggering, upsetting, emotional, reoccurring, hurtful, etc. One of these self-inquiry practices is to ask, “How is this [in this case Izzy’s tantrums] a reflection of my own life?”  While sitting with this question over the past 24 hours, as I watch and listen to Izzy maneuver through her world with mommia’s and daddia’s rules and expectations, I have begun to think that my toddlers (including their tantrums) are meant to be a direct reflection of the relationship I have with Universe and God—deeply loving, comforting, give me-give me-give me, no No NO, lots of unnecessary crying, and yet utterly devotional.

Before I go on you have to know that I am not a Bible-type and I am also not a religious person.  I didn’t grow up in a “church” and in fact, probably have entered a church more times for weddings than for a sermon—but I am deeply spiritual and have a very deep connection with God…thanks to Yoga.  This is probably worth a whole blog on to itself.  What I’m getting at is this: I know the word “God” can be off-putting to some. I was that person once.  I invite you to replace the G word with something like “Love” and see if that resonates with your own life.  Back to my point about toddlers, tantrums, and God…

What really gets my blood boiling is when Izzy asks for help and then when I help she SCREAMS at me for helping her, “I do it!!!  I do it!!! I do it!!!!”  It makes me want to throw her out a window.  Of course I won’t but her vacillating is the hardest on a daily basis.  When I stop to reflect I realize this is how I use to feel when adults would ask for help and guidance and then when I offered a solution or course of treatment they would tell me, “no thank youbut continue to complain about said challenge in their life. Either take the steps to fix it or shut-up would be my internal monologue. It used to drive me craaaaaazy. I eventually grew to understand that sometimes asking for guidance or help is part of the journey.  The actual work, treatments, or solutions are just another level of response, self responsibility, and commitment that is difficult in our bandaid-make-it-go-away-now culture.

The other big trigger is when Izzy asks for something and then when she gets it flails into a storm of irrational hatred and disappointment, a.k.a a tantrum. So with my new attempt at looking at tantrums as a reflection of my own life, I pondered…do I ask for help (ehem, pray for things) and then when I am offered help, guidance, signs, direct outcomes do I pout about it? Scream about it?  Push it away?  Yikes, [swallow of truth] I think I do.  Maybe I don’t scream bloody murder and yell, “I’ll do it!!!” or throw it on the ground and stomp all over it but in more subtle adult ways I talk myself out of the signs, or tell others who are offering their support or advice “thank you, no thank you,” or even feel down in the dumps that my life isn’t the way I planned, or the way I asked God to make it look like.  Again, [sigh] humbling.

I actually wrote out this conversation I had with Izzy the other day as part of this process. It was EYE OPENING to say the least.

Mommia: What would you like Izzy?
Izzy: I want a cookie.
Mommia: No cookie right now. [Izzy starts crying the second I say this.] Maybe later. What about a banana? Would you like a banana?
Izzy: [trying to stop crying] Yes, ba-ba-banana.
Mommia: Here you go. Would you like your water too?
Izzy: [Begins crying and screaming] I don’t want a banana. No banana. [Throws it on the ground.]
Mommia: {note, internal monologue is screaming ‘wtf do you want then?’} OK, no banana then. [I pick up the banana and put it on the counter, potentially for later]
Izzy: I want the baaaa-naaa-naaa! [crying and screaming] I want the baaaa-naaa-naaa!
Mommia: Izzy, when you stop crying and use your big girl words and tone of voice you can ask for your banana.
Izzy: [begins to stop crying] ooooh—oooooh kay. Baa-banana please.
Mommia: Here you go. [Eyes rolling behind a loooong blink] Thank you Izzy for using your big girl words and tone of voice. —-End Scene—–

I then decided to flip-the-script with my new insights. Mommia is now “Universe” or “God” and Izzy is now me, Haunani. [Note: in no way am I insinuating that I am equal to Universe or God, it is merely an exercise of reflection. Keep reading.] Cookie and banana are now name your desire: a car, husband, soul mate, new career, patience, health, freedom, abundance, etc. For the sake of this script, I’m going to use car for cookie and lasting relationship for banana.

Universe: What would you like Haunani?
Haunani: I want a ­car.
Universe: No car right now. [Haunani starts crying the minute Universe says this.] Maybe later. What about a lasting relationship? Would you like a lasting relationship?
Haunani: [trying to stop crying] Yes, lasting reeee-reeeelationshiiiii-shiiiip.
Universe: Here you go. Would you like Love in that relationship too?
Haunani: [Begins crying and screaming] I don’t want a lasting relationship. No lasting relationship. [Throws it on the ground.]
Universe: {note, internal monologue is screaming ‘wtf do you want then?’} OK, no lasting relationship then. [Universe picks up the lasting relationship and puts it on the counter, potentially for later]
Haunani: I want the laaaaa-laaasting re-re-relationship! [crying and screaming] I want the relationship!
Universe: Haunani, when you stop crying and use your big girl words and tone of voice you can ask for your lasting relationship.
Haunani: [begins to stop crying] ooooh—oooooh kay. La-lasting relationship please.
Universe: Here you go. [Eyes rolling] Thank you Haunani for using your big girl words and tone of voice. ——-End Scene——

This exercise rocked my Mommia world. I was immediately humbled. It’s become so obvious to me that my kids are reflecting my true expectations and relationship with Universe and God that I began to change how I relate to the laws of karma, God, and Universe overnight.

Not that I respond to life all the time like the above scenario, but neither does Izzy. She’s just being a two year old with no books, no guidance, figuring out a new language, figuring out everything—being a two year old is hard. What’s my excuse? OK, so I don’t have a book on being a mom but at least I know my language, know how to listen, understand responsibility, have some emotional awareness, know and use logic, etc. I have no excuse. Being so humbled by this newfound awareness, I then made a list of the other things Izzy does that make me “lose it” rather quickly.

  • Only use the word “please” if reminded to.
  • Only use the word “thank you” if reminded to.
  • Quickly scream and writhe when realizing you’re not going to get what you wanted.
  • Quickly scream and writhe when realizing you ARE getting what you asked for.
  • Purposefully do things after being told not to.
  • Purposefully doing the same thing after falling, getting hurt, or watching others (her brother) get hurt or in trouble.

Now I feel like a do a little better on some of these than Izzy and other adults I’ve encountered but woah, apparently my expectations of God and life are a little unfair, imbalanced, and greedy.  And now having this realization, I now see I react to Izzy’s two-year-old nature because I feel she is being unfair, imbalanced, and greedy.  Clearly my expectations are too high.  How is she suppose to know?  [My heart softens and I take a long slow sigh]. I’m not proud of this realization but acknowledgement and acceptance is the first step in choosing to make a change or not.

It’s hard being a two year old.  It’s also hard being the mom of a two year old. Many days I wish I worked full-time just to escape the irrational tendencies. I didn’t like it with Trace and I definitely do not like it with Izzy.  And here in lies the teachings.  Izzy is my major teacher right now. Like all good teachers I’ve discovered she’s shining right back at me like a pure reflection.   I am humbled, embarrassed, and at the same time completely motivated to make a shift TODAY both in how I respond to Izzy and my relationship with life, the world around me, and God.

Note to reader:  Overall, Izzy is an incredible child and I know this.  I am not complaining in this blog but merely attempting to share my process of coming to terms with tantrums through a mindful and humbling approach.

Dubai family weekend

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dubai-airplane

One of the perks, major perks, of living in Bahrain is the travel opportunity.  While some people choose to stay in the cozy land of sand, this girl and her family are committed to taking advantage of any little time-off Tad has to explore the surrounding countries…and continents. If you haven’t taken the time to look up where Kingdom of Bahrain is located, here is a link:  https://goo.gl/maps/KTqgmajsni42  Bahrain is so centrally located to so many countries within a 1-5 hour fly time, it makes the travel opportunities EPIC!  

When we first started talking about traveling we decided we’d start close.  After all, we did just fly across the globe with two toddlers.  Not quite sure how flexible Trace and Izzy actually were to airports, layovers, airplanes, and sleeping in hotel rooms as a family, we chose Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as our first trip.  Again, for those geographically challenged, this is where Dubai is located: https://goo.gl/maps/v7SmECooSmQ2  We figured this would be a good trial.  If all went well, we’d take another trip, and another, and just keep the ball rolling.  Fortunately, that is exactly what happened and ripping the proverbial bandaid off the idea of traveling with two toddlers was the best decision we’ve made so far…as parents.  Hands down.  Not joking.

In mid-August (just two weeks after moving into our new house, six weeks after moving to Bahrain) when Tad came home saying, “if we want to travel over Labor Day weekend I need to tell them tomorrow,” I initially panicked.  Seriously?  Tomorrow?!  There’s nothing like a little external pressure to spend money on traveling to a new country in one day that makes me feel alive.  My response to Tad, “Done.”  Luckily that day I had Googled “Dubai aquarium” on a whim and discovered that Dubai has a beautiful, modern aquarium (in a mall of course).  I had shown the kids at dinner.  They were sold.  I was sold.  And when I showed Tad, he was sold too.  That night after dinner I bought plane tickets to Dubai (a 45 minute flight from Bahrain) and booked our hotel room.  We were off to Dubai for Labor Day weekend.

I’m not going to lie, the day we were suppose to leave for Dubai was a little chaotic and stressful given I was trying to pack as a minimalist, be a mom, get us to the airport on time, and learned our hotel reservation had not been confirmed.  Yep, you read that correctly—no confirmed hotel the day of our flight.  As it was getting closer to GO time (go pick-up Tad at work and head straight to the airport), I was less than put together as a mom or human being.  Really, I was on the verge of, “I’m never doing this again.”  Luckily, as I’m pulling out of the driveway to pick-up Tad, he texts me “Oh, I see that email about the hotel room.  All I needed to do was click the link.”  Aaaaaah.  Exhale.  I was praying that THAT was the extent of the travel hiccoughs…but as a recovering control-freak with very high expectations, I knew I was walking the line of high-strung-mommia. Note: the kids call me “mommia” a lot of the time.  I love it.  

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Traces’s first airport tram ride.  Despite his tired face here, he was a huge fan.

Everything about this trip was new and a major adventure figuring out how travel in and out of Bahrain actually worked.  Luckily, despite what the imagination can come up with, it’s very similar to traveling in the United States.  There are well managed and well signed long term parking lots that seemed “relatively” secure.  Thank goodness we both have island beaters, so parking next to a Lexus SUV is the best theft prevention.  The shuttle bus was a HUGE hit for Trace, as was every part of the trip that included seeing or being inside an airplane, construction vehicle, bus, or taxi.  And despite the germaphobe in me totally freaking out as Trace drug is lovie across the Bahrain and Dubai airports, flying with the kids was really fun.  We learned that traveling with two toddlers comes with its perks, especially if they are crying…extra free snacks on the plane and most importantly being shuttled to the front of almost any long line.  Not that we can make our kids cry on demand (although we might need to start implementing a “travel only” cry command), but luckily Izzy cried at all the right times to be escorted to the front of very, very long immigration and customs lines.  Thatta kid.

We hit Dubai hard knowing we only had two full days.  The itinerary included: aquarium and Burj Khalifa (the tallest man-made building in the World).  For those who don’t have a visual in your head of Dubai or haven’t checked Google images of Dubai just think of the Jetsons cartoon.  You know the one with towering, space-ship like buildings, cars that fly, and everything state-of-the-art and robotic.  That is Dubai.  I didn’t see any flying cars (although I wasn’t going to be surprised if I saw one) but apparently you can now request a “flying Uber” to pick you up.  Totally the Jetsons.   

Day one in Dubai was checking off the must-do’s.  We went straight to the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo located in the Dubai Mall.  While Tad and I are not mall types, we definitely know a good thing when we see it and the Dubai Mall is ridiculous.  I mean, there is a full aquarium and the World’s tallest man-made building in it.  That should speak for itself.  

The aquarium started with a beautiful underwater tunnel with fish and sharks the size of cars and it only got better.  It was at the aquarium that we began to see the personality differences between Trace and Izzy.  While Trace was fascinated he was also very, very cautious and a bit scared.  Izzy, on the other hand, was our fearless, independent adventurer who had no troubles walking over glass bridges, feeding massive tuna, and walking up to the fish and crocodiles in the tanks.  This difference was even more glaring at the top of the Burj Khalifa.  

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Tad & Trace with the Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa behind

The Burj Khalifa is omnipresent in Dubai.  You can see its needle like spire towering from almost anywhere in the city and it is BEAUTIFUL!  In a very luxurious middle eastern way the whole experience at the Burj Khalifa was over the top.  One can choose to buy a ticket to the first observation deck at level 125 at 456 meters or visit At the Top, the world’s tallest observation deck on level 148 at 555 meters. There was no way we were coming to Dubai and NOT going to the top, so that’s what we did.  It was worth every penny. If you’re going to be in Dubai, go big or go home.  At the Top was breathtaking and truly an experience to remember.  What seemed like a bustling huge city just moments below became a serene toy-like spectacle of a city plan, with no horns, no sounds, just the whisper of the breeze and classical Arabic music playing in the posh lounge.  It was here that Izzy, like her mother, had no problems running straight up to the floor-to-ceiling glass windows, while Trace needed to be carried until he warmed up to the idea that Izzy was not falling out of the building.

We did stop on the way down at the 125th level observation deck and yes, even that view was spectacular, but NOTHING like the top. Obviously if you do not like heights the top is not for you. In fact the 125th floor would be out of question too. But me, I love being so high. Insert giggles. I’m that girl who walks straight to the edge of the Grand Canyon and opens her arms wide to take it all in, maybe even throw myself on to my head for a glorious headstand or some random yoga pose to commemorate the view and vastness of it all.  

Day one felt so complete and overwhelming all at the same time but we were so proud of the kids for hanging in, chugging along even when mommy and daddy were dragging them up to the top of the world during their nap time.  We all celebrated the day with a fun swim in the hotel pool and a nice authentic German dinner at the only licensed Hofbrauhaus in the Middle East.  

Day two, our last full day, turned out to be as amazing and adventurous as the first day. What began as a simple idea to go see the indoor ski slopes at the Emirates Mall turned into a whirlwind tour of old Dubai, the spice market, gold souk, and a sunset dhow (traditional wooden boat) ride.  I have always scoffed at the tourist hop-on-hop-off buses because they seemed so obviously touristy, but that’s exactly what we decided to do.  It proved to be a win-win for the kids who were melting in the 100+ degree sun and didn’t want to walk anymore but allowed us to see a lot of the city in an air conditioned bus (even if we did decide to sit on the top level without AC).  It was a blast and we got to see more of Dubai and old Dubai than we would have otherwise.  Everyone was happy.  Trace was ecstatic to be on a double-decker bus.  Izzy got to nap on daddy. Tad and I got to learn a little history, take photos, and explore.    

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Needless to say, the kids crashed hard that night.  Lights out.  For Tad and I, our final evening of unexpected cultural surprises continued as we witnessed two wedding processions in our hotel.  Talk about over-the-top.  It was definitely fun to see another culture’s wedding reception.  It made me really happy Tad and I did a small wedding celebration in Kauai.  One last surprise for the day was spotting a Chateau St. Michelle Chardonnay on the Marriott’s wine list.  Woodinville wines represent!!  I was so proud.  

Overall, our trip to Dubai was truly amazing and worth the initial freak out session.  Before we even departed Dubai, Tad and I were planning our next family vacation which would be approximately one month away.  In good ‘ole plan a vacation in one day because Tad needs 30 days to get clearance and approval, that’s what I ended up doing for our trip to Oman.  Until next time, keep your eye out for the hashtag #DrakesinBahrain on your social media feeds.  

And for those who didn’t get to see all our photos from Dubai on Facebook, here you go (I hope this works): https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10154191505733073&type=1&l=042b5c61c1

One last thing…Izzy is the best ice breaker and show stopper in the Middle East. #likeIzzy

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Izzy walking down the jetway in Dubai.

Cut and paste stories of Bahrain

Clearly we’ve “settled” into our routine of living in Bahrain. I say that because I don’t feel as motivated to write, a direct reflection of feeling comfortable and not having the need to share or think anything is worth sharing.  Then again, my parents were just here for five weeks and spending time with them was a priority.  I bet if I asked them what I should write about, they’d say “driving in Bahrain.”  So I’ll begin working on that one.  In the meantime…

In doing some computer and smart phone cleaning, I found some pieces I had begun to write when we first moved here.  Rather than try to weave them into one long story as if they actually represented now, I figured I’d literally cut and paste.  It may not read as cohesively but I do want to “archive” them in some way as family memories.  Enjoy

5th Anniversary
Immediately upon arriving Tad and I had our 5th wedding anniversary. “Had” being the most appropriate word, not celebrated and definitely not toasted. Honestly, we almost forgot. Oops. In the short to-do list of moving our whole life across the globe we both forgot about our anniversary. This is what I love about us. We did both mention in passing at one of the six airport terminals we got the pleasure of sitting in that the other should not expect anything for our anniversary. But to actually go until about 2pm in the afternoon before remembering…ooops.  Apparently we rock this marriage thing! No really, we do. When we did finally remember, we figured out that still being married after three moves, two deployments, two amazing kids back-to-back, and not having killed our  kids or each other was probably the best gift we could give each other. We then also did the geographic math and discovered we have been in a different state or country for each of our anniversaries: 1st Hawaii. 2nd California. 3rd Florida. 4th Virginia. 5th Bahrain. Not totally outrageous places often sought out for anniversaries but a cool record nonetheless, one that may actually hold up for a few more years. So Happy Anniversary to us.

Moving with Toddlers
Trace and Izzy have been the real rock stars of this move. Yes, kids are adaptable blah blah blah. Aaaaaand no they are not! If you are a parent of a toddler you know as well as anyone that all the psychologist and toddler books says, “routine is everything.” Let me paraphrase the rest for all my friends and family who forget the toddler stage, a.k.a tantrum stage: your child depends on predictability and routine. If you want to mess your child up and deal with tantrums, break their routine. Whatever you do, don’t move across the globe to new sounds, smells, tastes, temperatures, and sights. This will destroy their sense of reality and you will be the one to pay.  Like the awesome and amazing parents we are, we moved across the globe. Why follow the rules?

 

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Izzy’s first tantrum.  The hotel elevator, a convenient place to share how you really feel.

Call it luck, timing, or fateful backlash to moving across the globe, Izzy discovered her voice and opinions about three days after landing in Bahrain. Thank goodness we have TWO toddlers now. Oh joy. Yippee. I was just starting to think this whole parenting thing was getting too easy and boring (said no mom of a two year old. Ever.). I now look forward to the unpredictable nature of wine o’clock. No, not whine o’clock, that’s predictable. That will happen all day long. Wine o’clock is the time I decide to have my first glass of wine. It might be 10am or 2pm.  That’s what makes it so fun. Every day is different. Like a choose your own adventure but every ending I’m the winner. Wine o’ clock is definitely proportional to the psychopathic irrational tendencies of the two toddlers in my life. No shame. The real choose your own adventure horror plot twist is when the wine supply is low at home and your only source of wine is on Base (a full hour outing there and back).  Makes wine o’clock more interesting now, eh?

In all seriousness, Trace and Izzy are doing really well for moving across the globe into 120 degree weather.  Yes, it keeps getting hotter.  The hotel is our saving grace still.  It is hilarious and so sweet to watch Trace and Izzy jet out of the hotel elevator and race to the lobby so they can begin their pageantry of waves, “good morning’s” and “hi’s.” It’s so sweet. The breakfast staff adore the kids too. The commotion of “hello’s”, giggles, and waves that accompany walking into breakfast every morning, or just into the lobby, makes me feel almost like a celebrity. The hotel staff has been so sweet to us.  Tad and I are trying to figure out how to stay in touch. The staff here is truly amazing.  They will be missed.

How Burning Man prepped me for living in Bahrain

Never, and really I mean never, did I ever think my Burning Man adventure would follow me to Bahrain.  Thank God I went to Burning Man to learn how to walk my way through a sand storm.  Today, the day we are moving into our Villa it is so dusty and so windy I can barely see the high rise hotels that are less than 200 meters away from our hotel.  Our beautiful view that I have come to love and admire at every hour of the day…just gone.  Gone behind a wall of dust and sand.  My lungs are already crying and scratchy just looking out over the dust.  This should make for a really interesting move today.

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The view of Manama from our hotel living room.

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The view of Manama from our hotel living room the day we moved out of the hotel.

and the last cut and paste story…

What will go next?…

Our dryer machine was taken away…again; the second time in ten days.  Honestly, it wouldn’t be such a big deal but the temperatures have dropped enough that it now takes a full day and half to air dry/line dry most of the clothes, instead of 30 minutes that it took in the summer.  Insert your sad face emoji here.  As I drive around the neighborhood or look out our windows to the balconies nearby, I realize I’m whining.  I am.

Life in Bahrain, life in “the sandbox” as some of the other Americans call it, as I have mentioned before is same, same but different.  When it comes to the house, this is NO exception.  Our house has every amenity (minus a sink disposal) that a suburban house in the US would have.  Heck, we even have a bidet in every bathroom.  So what lies in the “different” category?  While amazingly beautiful and serene on the outside, is in a constant state of work or repair.  Something is always breaking.

Just in the last 10 days of the dryer deciding it doesn’t want to spin and the electricians telling me they fixed it (they did for one load before it broke again), we also had an electrical short in our downstairs.  After a full day of no electricity in the kitchen, and being told an electrician came by and fixed it (he didn’t), Tad somehow figured out how to trick the circuit breaker to stay on.  In that same time period, the OSN (cable) decided to short out too.  It’s been three days and I don’t anticipate it being fixed within the week.   Oh yes, and the pool pump has taken on a life of its own.  Despite a major language barrier between the pool guy and myself, he tells me, “It’s okay madam.  Automatic timer is okay madam.  It’s okay.”  But it isn’t.

While it seems excessive the constant house repairs and electrical fixes, when I think back on our first few months in the house, this is the norm: blocked sinks, broken upstairs door that needed complete re-welding, air conditioning units needing repair every 7-14 days, broken oven, broken microwave, broken shower heads, broken water pipe, and broken water heaters…insert defeated sad emoji face here.  Each break takes a minimum of two days to coordinate and fix, but I’d say the average is 5-10 days to fix.  Just when everything seems like it’s in good working order around the house give it 10 days and something will go.  Thank goodness I’m not working outside the house doing a typical 8-5.  My domestication value (yes, I made that up just now) is very high right now since I need to be around the house nearly half the month for someone to come fix something.  And if you’ve read previous blogs, the repair man never, NEVER, comes when he says, so I become housebound for days at a time awaiting his arrival.

All this “house stuff” keeps me humble though.  I keep thinking, if this is what our house is like, I can’t imagine what others who have less resources and money are going through to keep their place in working order.  Even our housemaid Anjala laughs at me when I get upset or frustrated about the next thing breaking.  She tells me, “This is normal madam.  All Bahrain is like this.  No need to get upset.”  Whether she’s saying this because she’s figured me out and doesn’t want me to stress, or it’s the truth, she’s like a zen teacher watching over me.  So this, the house, has become a new yoga practice…not allowing all the little things to add up and ruin my day.  The silver lining is that it forces me to stay home with the kiddos and we get to play a lot.  Watching these two transform week after week is pulling at my heart strings in a major way.  I want it to hurry up because I hate toddlers AND at the same time, I never want them to stop saying, “more snuggles mommia.”

I think everyone right now could use more snuggles and less headaches.

Cheers!  To more snuggles and less headaches.

Aloha & Namaste

 

Post-election fire

When I started this blog, one of my main missions was to spread messages of Aloha across the globe. Obviously though, if I am living in a state of fear, than I can’t.  Aloha, like love, and fear are opposites. So the first 48 hours after the election my world was rocked. This past week has been surprising and unexpected to say the least.  Sharing or being Aloha was a far off distant ideal.  Besides the personal healing this election brought up for me, I felt very uncomfortable being a US woman affiliated with the US military living in a Muslim country.  Given the messages previously spoken by DT regarding Muslims, I wasn’t quite sure if all of a sudden it would be safe for me to walk around so carefree as I had become accustom.  Would I be the target of people’s fear or their backlash?  Should I begin to cover my head so I’d fit in more and not stand out?  It is almost ironic my knee-jerk reaction to cover my head when all I hear back in the states is to be careful if you’re covered.  Good thing is, I haven’t experienced anything different.  I wish I could say the same for those back in the States.

Before we moved, my friends, family, and I joked about how moving to Bahrain might just be the best move ever…given the upcoming elections.  The jokes went both ways…if Hillary gets elected, better to be in Bahrain; likewise, if Trump gets elected, better to be in Bahrain.  For me, I never wanted to see the US led by DT and never wanted DT to represent me, let alone become Commander in Chief (aka Tad’s boss).  I didn’t really know who I was going to vote for.  I wasn’t a huge Hillary fan despite loving the idea of a first women President.  Then in May 2016 a library book, Vital Voices, fell off a shelf and landed at my feet.  This book about the non-profit organization, Vital Voices, co-founded by HRC, gave inspiring detail to the ripple affects she has created globally for women’s, and thus, human rights.  It fueled something within.  As the hateful insults and acts of disrespect from DT were getting more blatant, in my heart I knew…just knew there was no way he had a chance of winning the election. I mean really, it was like he was trying to throw it away.  Yes, I seriously thought that and even told Tad that several times.

But I was wrong, oh so wrong…and it hurt OH SO BAD.  In my FB post, I mentioned a “bullet through my heart” but really it felt more like a fire out of control.  And Tad, my rock, my anchor, the one who always has great perspective even when shit is hitting the fan (it’s his job, no really, that’s his job to be the calm in the storm) was in San Diego.  My world felt like it was crumbling.  Everything felt like it was on fire.

During the election as the states began to change from blue to red and orange to red, I had a very personal moment of releasing the dam of 30 plus years of my deepest darkest secret. It hurt. It was personal. In a mere hour, I felt hope dissipate into the deepest pain and disbelief in my adult life. I was just shocked that so many Americans could “overlook” (my words as how I felt them) DT’s direct insults on so many different groups of people and still vote for him. To me, the act of voting for DT actually felt inhumane, like an attack on me, and a direct bullet to my heart.  Then again, I’ve always been a softy for humanity. Now that the emotional tsunami is subsiding I can see in so many ways this election, DT, and all that is following is exactly as it’s suppose to be AND I’m fired up.  It is Divine Timing.

Kam Chancellor, yes, #31 Seattle Seahawks (GO HAWKS!) superstar strong safety, wrote a very powerful message on his IG feed. And while I do not know my Bible versus the message he shares is still the same regardless of your chosen “religion.”

“My president is Trump because I understand that God places kings on thrones (Daniel 2:21), and I must respect who he places in authority (Romans 13:1-7). It’s a reason he placed Donald Trump in this role. To test our FAITH.”

Gulp. Eyes lower as I finally exhale in surrender to the heart and this reality which I was so sad to be a part of…

Fuck, he’s right.

Now before I hear you say, “You’ve fallen into the masses.  Haunani, how could you?” Hear me out.  “Trust the process” or “have faith” DOES NOT mean become complacent.  To me, trust the process and have faith means to accept the outcome as is (what done is done for today) but to use this as a wake-up call, to realize I was becoming complacent in my cozy little bubble and that it’s time to get to work.  I trust and have faith as I stand tall in who I am, what I believe in, and never give up on all of humanity that God/Universe/whatever name you use is behind me 100%.

Maybe, just maybe enough of us have been praying about this “change,” and talking about a “needed change,” that God is delivering all our prayers.  Tuesday was the tipping point, perhaps a gift in disguise.   For many, it’s not how we would like it to look.  It’s messy.  It’s painful.  It’s creating divisions where there once felt like unity.  Friendships are collapsing.  Families are fragmenting.  It’s popped the bubble of my reality and many others. It’s nothing like the 24 minutes of anticipation when ooooie gooooey brownie batter gets transformed and changes into perfect morsels of delight.  But it is a good analogy because to get from the ooooooie goooooey to morsels of delight requires FIRE.  Fire and heat are catalysts. This literal and figurative fire we are feelings, watching, experiencing is the change we were all voting for (no matter who your vote went to)…it just looks a lot different and feels a lot different than we ever anticipated, imagined, and dreamt about when we were praying about it.

Change always requires another force to act upon the current system in order for the molecules, trajectory, and outcomes to change. Literally, this is science. But when it happens to us personally, especially when we weren’t “ready” for this change even though many of us who are most upset have been asking for this change of consciousness for some time, we feel shaken to the core.  And it’s okay to feel shaken, just don’t let those shakes paralyze you.  It’s okay to feel depressed or dark, but trust that the light within you that makes you amazing is still there–it’s just needing a little time out to reflect and become brighter.  I am not tied to one religion but am a very spiritual person and have found much peace and much reassurance through these past few days by sitting in meditation, allowing the waves of my emotions to pass, and then just sitting in the void on the other side of those deeply painful waves.   The message I keep hearing is, “Do you Trust Me?” My heart always explodes into a million rays of light and I begin to feel a strong warm passionate response, “Yesssss. Yesssss. Yes.” But this is my journey. It may not be yours. However, I invite you to find more moments away from FB, social media and the TV to connect with something higher than yourself, go out in nature, move more inward than looking for answers on a screen, listen more deeply to the voice behind the emotions, and possibly see how things begin to shift (if ever so slightly).

Trusting the process is easier said than done but it is the mantra that I have put my faith into and continue to repeat since election day.  It reminds me of my faith and alignment to something higher than myself.   Trust the process for myself and my own healing. Trust the process for my family.  Trust the process for my friends, country, World, and our own perceived divisions. We have all called upon this time to come and now that it is here we need to take responsibility for what we brought in, prayed for, wished, discussed with friends, and day dreamed.  Some may even give thanks to this seemingly dark time.  It’s a choice.

It is incredibly powerful to find one thing about the last few days to be grateful for and watch how the whole perspective begins to shift.  This is especially useful if you feel stuck.  Maybe you’re grateful to see people for who they really are (as hard as it is to see and admit).  Maybe you’re grateful to have a group of friends, or new group of friends around the globe, to turn to.  Maybe you’re grateful or thankful that four, even eight, years are a blink of an eye in the history of our existence.  No matter how personal or grand, gratitude is a very powerful force that can begin to shift the dark to light.  For me…if it were not for this election I would still be pushing down those 30 plus years of silence, shame, guilt, and embarrassment that has built up from being sexually assaulted many times throughout my life. So while election day hurt like hell, I crumbled, relived every moment, remembered every boy or man, sobbed uncontrollably only to pick myself up and feel a tad bit more clear yet weaker than a dead mouse smashed by a car, I proudly and very humbly say thank you election.  Thank you for allowing my dam of anger, silence, shame, guilt, and embarrassment break wide open and pour out of me. Thank you for finally giving that part of me a voice and forever being freed from the fear of anyone (except the one or two people who I had confided in) finding out.  Now that my biggest skeleton in the closet is out, I feel so free.  It feels amazing.  I am not broken.  I am not a different person.  I am just a shinier less convoluted version of myself…AND IT FEELS GREAT.  So not only thank you election for this amazing healing opportunity, I really owe my thanks to DT, the man I hated and felt utter detest towards for the last year or so. Without your ego and hate, I would not be a better person. So truly, thank you.  AND watch out World because I’m FIRED UP!

Now that I have spent a lot of reflection time on the yoga mat and away from the screens…I am hopeful. I am trusting the process. I am definitely NOT becoming complacent but I am trusting the process. I am walking my talk more than ever but with a new fire and passion for really holding myself and others accountable for treating each other with respect, integrity, and love.  I am lucky to have a strong Marine to stand next to me, who makes me more proud of our service to this country and the sacrifices we are constantly making, and to hold my hand with the unknown of a new Commander in Chief who blatantly insults the military.  But I am hopeful and I am trusting the process.  And this is what is allowing me to spread the Aloha once again.

Aloha & Namaste

Please know:  I have spent the last thirteen years of my life digging into the depths of my own fears, suffering, uncertainty, and pain.  I have lost friends, found new friends, grew stronger in my truest of friends, strayed from family and then reunited in tighter bonds, traveled the world working with different teachers looking for the magic pill, cared about humanity so deeply it made me physically sick, gave up on humanity because it felt like too much…and here I am strong, proud, pissed off right now but hopeful, and more aligned with my purpose than ever.  I move in and out of these huge emotional swings and world changing perspectives much quicker than ever before only because I have done it a lot.  If you are reading this and it is the first time you’ve been confronted with this level of disappointment, you are not alone.  You are not broken.  I’ve been there too, a lot.  Please find someone you trust, stay connected, and do not get attached to the emotion.  It too will pass.  This is a major shift in consciousness.  Trust the light within you–it will be there after this feeling of darkness.  You are being asked to clean the closet, to move away anything that dulls your light and to shine brighter than ever.  Stand tall in what you believe in.  We are in this together.

Same same, but different

Note: amateur blogger error.  I swear I posted this weeks ago.  No wonder no one had commented on it.  Ooooops.  A little dated now but still worth keeping around for a few laughs and memories.  Enjoy!

In past blogs, like all of them, I’ve used the phrase “same same, but different.”  In keeping true to my past references, I dedicate this entire blog to life in Bahrain and how it is same same, but different.

Note to reader:  It’s 11pm when I’m starting this blog.  I apologize ahead of time for the lack of editing and lack of flow.  I’m just going to use the good ‘ole listing method for this blog.  If that bothers you, skip this one.  Aaaaand to be clear, NO WAY did I stay up to write this blog.  I too get the creative stroke of genius in the wee-hours of the night, especially on a full moon like tonight, but I love sleep too much to stay up for a blog.  Priorities people.  I’m up this late because there is a Seahawks game starting in 22 minutes.  Which leads me to my first same same, but different example.

Example 1.  Sunday football.  I have had many incarnations in this life.  The agnostic, cheerleader, homecoming queen, the 80 hour work week restaurant manager, waking up to full body pain, coffee and chasing it with wine and whiskey, the hippie, anti-government, live-off-the-grid yogi, the spiritually uplifted but totally ungrounded gotta-figure-this-thing-called-life-out while getting a masters degree in the most out of the box field of medicine, to the current stay-at-home mom living in Bahrain…but through it all I am a die hard football fan.  From the time I can remember, watching football was a family event.  Overtime, as I began to watch the game for the sport and not the cool outfits the “cheerleaders” were wearing (because my “Auntie” was the designer…no joke), I loved the game.  I love the sport.  I love the psychology.  I love to yell at the TV like I know better than the players or coaches.  And I love guacamole.  Every game is better with guacamole.  Duh.  Bahrain is literally half way around the globe but we’ve figured out how to watch NFL games live–God bless Game Pass.  The only drawback is most Sunday games start at 8pm and most Hawks games start around 11pm, ending around 2am.  So yay [insert happy dance] to getting my game fix, booooooo to bags under my eyes and crankiness the next day.  I still love watching the games but there is a totally different vibe to my Sundays when games start so late.  For you football types, imagine trying not to yell at the refs at 1am because you might wake up the kids, your husband, or the neighborhood.  Kind of takes the fun out of the game a little, right?   Also, guacamole at 1 am doesn’t taste as good.  So NFL and Sunday football…Same same, but different.

Example 2.  The Internet.  Clearly we have the internet if we’re watching Game Pass and posting blogs.  But…do you remember the internet 10 years ago?  More like, do you remember the speed of your internet 10 years ago?  Well, that’s what we have going on here.  It. is. so. slooooooooooooooowwwwwwwww.  I’m not complaining (well, not right now but 50% of the time I do get frustrated with the speed) because the alternative to slower or no internet is just out of my modern-day realm of possibilities at this point in life.  So internet…same same, but different.

Example 3.  Alcohol.  I know not everyone drinks, and I’m always really impressed by those who don’t, but our family does.  Obviously (or maybe not so obviously, hehehehe) Trace and Izzy don’t, but mommy and daddy sure need their “mommy milk” and “daddy milk” to survive these toddler years.  Technically, alcohol is illegal in Bahrain.  Thanks to international relations, we can buy alcohol on Base…via a rationing system.  Through an application and approval from Tad’s boss, I was granted 26 points per month (something like that).  Each bottle or six-pack has a point value assigned to it.  As I buy a six-pack or bottle, my points slowly dwindle.  If I use all my points I can’t buy any more alcohol until the 1st of the month when my points renew.  And no, there is no carry over like your cell phone minutes.  I definitely stock up just to use my points towards the end of the month just in case we ever have a huge snow storm and I can’t get out of the house (rookie mistake I made in Virginia that I’ll never make again).  And yes, you have to pay for your alcohol on top of using your points.  While this has definitely decreased my glass of wine while I cook tendency, I have become  more discerning about my wine drinking.  I save my precious glass of wine for those toddler moments when a glass of wine is really needed.  Oh, let’s say, like 10am instead.  Again, priorities people.  So alcohol…same same, but different.

Example 4.  Weekends.  “Weekends?” you ask.  “How can this be same same, but different?”  In Bahrain, and in many middle eastern countries, the weekend is Friday (the holy day) and Saturday.  This means Thursday nights are the equivalent to the American Friday night and Sunday is the first day of the work week.  You’ll hear us say on Thursday night, “Yay, it’s Friday.”  I’m sure we’ve permanently screwed up Trace’s initial concept of days of the week.  Eh.  He’ll get over it.  Practically speaking, if Tad ever really got a day off (which he rarely does), he’d work Sunday-Thursday.  As it is, because his boss’s boss’s boss (or something like that) is in Tampa, Florida, and they work for “the man” who never sleeps, and there are conflicts all over the middle east (in case you haven’t turned on TV or radio in ten years), Tad is at work a lot.  Since the kids and I are impervious to time (one of the blessings of being a toddler and stay-at-home mom) we technically get weekends but really every day just blends in with the next.  So while you all are getting ready to kick back, party, and socialize on Saturday night, it’s a “work night” for us.  Sunday football is a work day and work night for us.  Blah.  So weekends…same same, but different.

Example 5.  Showers.  To my delightful surprise we have decent pressure.  I mean, it’s better than a bucket and cup which I was totally prepared for too. Expect the worst, be surprised and happy about anything better than the worst is the new type of mentality  Tad is slowly encouraging me to embrace.  Another thing about our shower is that I didn’t anticipate hot water.  Yes, this is a developed part of the world, so running water is widely available but when I’m talking about hot water, I’m talking about scalding hot water every time you turn on the faucet–immediate hot water.  Is this a blessing or a curse?  Need to shower? Jump right in. Wash your dishes?  Ready to go. Wash your hands?  Add a little soap and those germs are toast. At first, I was excited. How fun. Instant hot water.  The Environmentalist in me was thrilled, “no wasting water while waiting for it to warm up.  Big tree hug. Then the reality hit. Oh wait, but there is NO cold water. Anywhere. Not in ANY of our faucets. No biggie since we have a water cooler for drinking water and I typically drink warm or room temp water anyway. But the theory of you want what you don’t have hits. “What if I WANT cold water?”  Too bad.  Not getting it. Apparently when the weather begins to drop so will our water temperature. Makes sense. Our house’s water tank is on the roof. It’s basking in the desert sun just absorbing, like a hot pot of water, the heat of every second of every day.  So yes, all our house water is hot. The hotter the day and night, the hotter our water. When we first moved-in the water was scalding hot.  So hot you could barely wash your hands or shower. Never thought that was a possibility.  With a simple lack of foresight, the kids’ bath time was pretty loud with screaming tears of pain as we threw them into scalding hot bath water.  Oooops.  We quickly learned…we need to draw a bath (never thought I’d ever use that phrase in my life) and let the bath water sit for 5-10 minutes until it cooled off.  Soon our water temperature will drop and we won’t have any hot water, only cold water.  We’ll have to test out the water heater and see if it actually works.  So showers…same same, but different.

Since we’re in the house and on the topic of water, let’s stay here for one more example.

Example 6. The sink.  In our kitchen, we have a double stainless steel sink.  A little industrial but it works and I’m grateful for the double basin.  No garbage disposal had me lost for a few months but I’m slowly finding my way.  I’m such a suburban princess. So not only is there no garbage disposal the drains are teeny-tiny, said in Izzy’s cute toddler voice.   Two big basins + two teeny tiny drains = [Insert emoji of me pounding my forehead into the wall].  How does this all add up in a practical sense?  Washing dishes takes fourteen times longer than in the States.  The sink is constantly getting backed up with dirty water because the little strainer is so tiny and the smallest particles of food, i.e. bread crumbs, chicken nugget crumbs, and God forbid if flax seed or chia seed gets washed into the sink, fills the drain strainer immediately.  It doesn’t even matter if we’re using the dishwasher, which we have, because all the food particles still back up in the sink preventing me from even getting the dishes into the dishwasher at any normal rate.  Regardless, I rarely use the dishwasher because it cleans about as well as Trace and Izzy would do if they tried to do the dishes.  Oh, I hear some of you saying, “just wipe off your plates of debris before you wash.”  Aha, I do!  In the four weeks of living here I have managed to scientifically analyze, test, and conclude that the best method for dealing with these tiny sink drains without a disposal is to live off paper plates.  There goes my Environmentalist streak. Noooooo, we don’t use paper plates but I fist bump the families who do.  So sinks…same same, but different.  

So it’s getting really late, so late tomorrow is going to be a treat for everyone.  Poor Izzy.  At least Trace has school in the morning.  I have so many more same same, but different stories about living in Bahrain.  I’ll save them for another blog.

Before I sign off, please know Trace and Izzy were not badly hurt or burned by the hot water in the story shared above.  Toddlers are so dramatic and scream about anything.  I also want to make it very clear that we are incredibly grateful for this opportunity to live here.  I totally understand and am very aware that the stuff shared in this blog is petty in the big scheme of life.  It’s also these little things in life that make Bahrain…Bahrain. Before we know it, we’ll be PCSing to another place and Bahrain will seem like a blink of an eye.  I want to look back and remember what made Bahrain, Bahrain.  These blog posts are those memories, those little things.  And who knows, maybe someone will find a little more gratitude in their day after reading this when they realize just how awesome it is to control the temperature of your own water.  Again, those little things.

Gratitude is one of the most valuable perspectives to have, especially when we have it so good.  And we do have it, SO GOOD.  Life is really good to us…just a wee-bit different in Bahrain.  Different is not bad though, just different.  I personally LOVE IT (most of the time) even though it does take a little more effort, patience, and acceptance.  Since patience is not my forte, more like the biggest life lesson to work on, Bahrain is providing ample experiences for me to lose my mind and then recenter myself as I say, “let it go. let it go.  let it go.”  As a yogi, what more could I ask for than an entire day of challenges to practice patience and acceptance?

Time for me to get to bed.  Seahawks squeaked out another win.  Sorry Falcons fans.  Go Hawks!  And….

Aloha & Namaste y’all.  Until next time.