Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Monday, March 14, 2011
Ayanna Abdul-Mateen I have seen it. LOVE is in my pocket; I keep it there. I never know throughout my day when I'll need it so I travel with LOVE everyday, everywhere. You need some? That's the good thing about LOVE, you see, it's like ENERGY...LOVE is always there, it never diminishes. It is only transferred into different states like happiness, joy, excitement, sometimes even sadness, but it's all still LOVE. You can take as much LOVE as you need because like ENERGY, I know there will always be enough LOVE for me too. LOVE at you. ♥
Life happens everyday and
MERCY is infinitely present in every second of it.
Of this, I am in awe.
For this is good news;
we are spared from so much, big and small,
and most often
our own selves.
LOVE to you.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
I haven't blogged in months.
I am grateful to have been with this sister, working, sharing, laughing at the moment that her life was forever changed.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Today is November 14, 2010. I am sitting at my dining room table in my flat in Liwa, Abu Dhabi. At this moment, “Stuck on You” by Lionel Ritchie is just going off; it is followed by “Home” by Stephanie Mills on my ITunes playlist.
In the kitchen, across the front room, and just to the left, I am making spring rolls. I just filled my first batch with cabbage, onions, garlic, ginger, cilantro, and shrimp, and they are browning in the pan right now. I have not made these before, but they smell mighty good!
*Erykah Badu’s “Bag Lady” is now playing...
The windows in this room are open. Rays of sunlight enter, along with the ever-present wisps of sand, carried in by the wind, which outside, keeps the red, green, black, and white UAE flags perched atop every lamp post in view, whipping and flapping, celebrating this country, the United Arab Emirates.
*Groove Theory's, “Baby Love” is on now. I'm bopping and snapping my fingers...
I have been moved into this space for about three weeks now, and I am getting more and more comfortable. I keep using this term “normal”; I am finding my normal here in the UAE:
-Normal like: Running ten minutes late in the morning going to school because....well, just because! I am notorious for being late; everyone who knows me knows this, and they accept it (although often with a grimace...) because when I do show up, I deliver. In a culture that is less concerned with time, except as it relates to prayer and appointments for tea, I am right at home.
- Normal like: Driving and yelling at other drivers (to myself), typically because I am LATE, as previously mentioned. The primary road rule here in the UAE is, when you catch a glimpse of a large, shiny, white SUV barreling down the road behind you at about 100 miles/hr., flashing their lights madly...MOVE TO YOUR RIGHT. It seems that EVERY young Emirati male has such a vehicle, and it also has become abundantly clear that the fast left lane should be reserved exclusively for them. I concede...and just yell at them...to myself!
- Normal like: Beginning to understand conversations in Arabic while out and about in my day. As I pick up words and phrases, and develop an ear to decipher the spoken language, it seems that slowly, surely, I am cracking the code. I am beginning to have some sense of topics being discussed, directions being given, questions being asked, and can even offer brief dialogue myself. It’s a good feeling.
- Normal like: Cleaning up and doing laundry on Saturday mornings. Even though Saturday is the second day of the weekend here, the equivalent to Sunday in the States, there still is something normal, something familiar about this routine.
- Normal like: Finding new foods and developing new tastes that make me feel at home. I have fallen for some great new foods and flavors here in the UAE, including:
-Rose water: I add a splash to fruit juices, smoothies and sometimes soda. It gives a wonderful aromatic experience to whatever I am enjoying.
-Zaatar: This is a spice mix of mainly thyme, sesame, and a little oregano and marjoram. It is found in various combinations throughout the Middle East, but I particularly like the Jordanian recipe of zaatar. Here is how you eat it: take a piece of pita bread, dip it in olive oil, then the zaatar, and pop it in your mouth with an olive....mmmmm!
-Labanah: This is something like sour yoghurt, which is essentially...sour cream. Yes, I have the nerve to be over here eating the equivalent of sour cream like it’s not a FULL FAT food! But let me tell you, you can get lababah with zaatar mixed in, and I’m sayin’....this is SO good.
-Fruit Juices: I have had freshly prepared juices and smoothies of wonderfully sweet fruits, including mango, pear, kiwi, dates, watermelon, litchi (an amazingly curious looking fruit) and guava. This is quite a treat!
-Cumin infused Gouda: I love cumin. I love cheese. That is all.
* Chrisette Michelle is crooning ”Best of Me”...
I am finding my normal:
-like breathing a deep sigh of release when I pull into the parking lot of my building at the end of a school day because I am home.
-like sitting in my car, as I always did in the States, for a few quiet minutes before coming in the house; car off, speakers still, feeling the heat, or the cold, listening to the silence, and having a moment of calm reflection, as I transition from my work day to being home again.
-like folding up in my corner of the couch and drinking my special chai mix.
-like leaving my prayer rug down. No need to fold it up...I’ll soon be back, alhumdulillah.
*Maxwell just finished his melodic falsetto in “This Woman’s Work”...
*Janet is now singing about “How Time Flies When You’re Having Fun”...
My spring rolls, though flavorful and a ginger-spicy, are a little oilier than I would like. I’ll have to try this recipe again, when I make myself a meal on another normal Saturday afternoon, insha’Allah
Tamia is closing me out...”You put a Move on My Heart”...
Peace & LOVE.
Saturday, October 2, 2010
Energy is powerful. It just is. It is ever-present, ever transforming from one state or body of matter to another; it is ever in a state of flux. As we, ourselves, exist as energy forms, we too are subject to the constant mutability that is its primary characteristic. We must be careful about the forms of energy with which we allow ourselves to come in contact, lest we get swept into a negative downward cycle…
This week I had an enlightening experience, which at once, brought me to a low point in my time here, but then was immediately followed by a moment of clarity, remembrance, and intent. I attended a meeting this week of LTs (Licensed Teachers) here in Liwa Oasis. The meeting was conducted by Heidi, our Al-Gharbia, Western Region ADEC representative, and was scheduled to field questions and concerns regarding permanent housing placements, passports and Visa processing, healthcare cards, payroll schedules, and other such pertinent issues. All of these issues are contractual for LTs, and most questions and concerns regarding them were valid. However, when you put thirty-six teachers together in one room, after a long day of teaching…in the middle of a desert…things can get a little HOT. Even I succumbed to this heated energy…
Being placed in the desert presents it’s own particular set of challenges as it relates to getting certain administrative tasks completed. Tasks which are necessary to establish our residency here in Abu Dhabi, such as securing driver’s licenses, document interpretation, etc, must be handled in Abu Dhabi, which is an hour and a half drive from Liwa…in light traffic. During this meeting, many LTs expressed their frustration with the difficulty in getting these important tasks completed after school, and with ADEC’s seeming lack of accommodation for the complications borne of our particular placement, as well as other issues (some valid…others, not so much). I, too, expressed some frustrations, although prior to the meeting, I hadn’t had these concerns at all. I could feel myself giving into the negative energy the longer I sat amongst my colleagues, so I decided to leave a bit early, along with a few other teachers.
My friends, Bayyinnah, Samaiyah, Stanford, and I went across the hotel lobby to have dinner and to unwind. During our meal, I experienced my moment of clarity, of remembrance, of intention. Through our discussion, I was reminded that there is something special and purposeful about being in the desert. Being here, in this place, has value beyond any contractual compensation that is due me, and before I allow myself to be moved or distracted by negative energy, I need to get myself outside, to stand in the hot sand, and to feel the Sun kiss my face. I need to look upon these ever-changing majestic dunes, and marvel at the beautiful camels as they move with their awkward elegance across this ancient terrain. Before I give in to anger or frustration, I need to listen for the Adhan, the call to prayer that is carried on the wind from every direction in this desert, then find my way to my prayer rug. I ask myself: Where else could I experience such peace, such quiet, such stillness? Where else could my thoughts wander in search of the words to express all the ideas that mingle in my mind? Where else could I feel the mercy of Allah (swt) in the way that I do, EACH and EVERY day that I am here? Truly, I am grateful and humbled to be in this place.
I am certain that all things will work out, as they should. As of this weekend, I’ve been paid, received my furniture allowance, my passport with my UAE Resident Visa, my healthcare card, bankcard and checkbook. These are just the tangible gains that I can measure, however, I believe there is so much more that awaits me here, in this place.