Wednesday, December 31, 2008
The children have been out of school now for almost a month and soon to return. We didn't travel anywhere, so the holidays were a bit tedious. Granted, I am no longer a Christian, but I do miss the Christmas holiday traditions and accoutrements. Just goes to show how indelible family traditions can be. I can almost smell the Russian Tea, Moravian Love Feast buns, and sweet pine.
Along with all of the maid drama(I won't get into that), I am contemplating going back to work in the fall. I say contemplating because my son will only be 2 and a half, and I have never left a child of mine at that age. With all of the global economic discord though, I am thinking that a profession right now might be handy. The key would be to find one that had some flexibility though....
I have talked to several colleges and universities and there are some promising prospects of teaching; I just know me and how much of me teaching takes away. It is a most rewarding job, but it is an all-encompassing one for me. Maybe I should have stuck with psychology.
Anyway, I had had hopes of getting back into painting, but space and time constraints have dampening my inspiration and motivation.
Ahhh...if only we had snowy or even rainy days to go with my mood right now....
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Crime against humanity, Islam: Kuwait’s Deputy PM
KUWAIT, Nov 29, (KUNA): Kuwait’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Dr Mohammad Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah condemned Friday the attacks in the Indian commercial city, Mumbai, and said they were “crimes against humanity and Islam.” “If those (who carried out the attacks) claim they did what they do in the name of Islam then Islam is better without them,” Sheikh Mohammad told reporters after receiving Kuwaitis who returned home after they were released from a hostage-taking ordeal in a hotel in Mumbai.
“We as Muslims strongly condemn this act and we have expressed our sympathies to the Indian authorities, and I hope the international community affirms, through this incident, the necessity of fighting terrorism,” underlined Sheikh Mohammad. The attacks in Mumbai killed almost 195 people and injured over 300 others.
Meanwhile, His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah sent a cable of appreciation to Indian counterpart Dr Manmohan Singh, thanking him for efforts exerted by Indian authorities in ensuring the safety of Kuwaiti citizens there. In the cable, Sheikh Nasser thanked the Indian government’s endeavors in ensuring the well-being of Kuwaitis, who were trapped in one of the hotels that were attacked by terrorists.
Sheikh Nasser, who described the attacks as “criminal”, offered his deepest sympathies and condolences to the Prime Minister and the friendly people of India for their losses and a wished speedy recovery for the injured. He also reiterated Kuwait’s condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and for whatever reason.
In another development Kuwait’s Salafist Group has denounced the Mumbai terrorist attack which affected hundreds of innocent citizens, while foreigners were also used as shields for issues that did not concern them, reports Arrouia daily. A press statement released by the group stressed that these armed militants wrecked mayhem on innocent people due to their wrong beliefs and unacceptable ideologies. The Mumbai incident is an example of unwarranted extremist attacks against humanity in their bid to pull down the system at all cost, the statement added. “We condemn this act in totality while calling on the concerned authority to take decisive steps in waging a war against extremism. There is the need to monitor suspicious communications, since it is possible to use the websites to spread such undesirable ideologies to Kuwait,” the statement suggested.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Today is a historical day for the US. Perhaps Obama was elected because he embodied the polar opposite of what we have known for too long in the US. Perhaps he was elected because he rallied those who had ceased to care about politics. Perhaps he was elected because he garnered the hopes and dreams of people who thought they might never be represented. And perhaps it was a combination of all of those things plus the fact that he is the right man at the right time. God willing, he will be a man of beneficial change for the US and the world.
Today, I am proud of my fellow country men and women. They have seen what has been wrought on our country by adhering to a demonizing, paranoid world policy and a greedy, self-serving domestic policy, and they have said enough.
I am just sad that I wasn't there to be a part of it.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Ok, even if you are not a typical 'green' kind of gal, or guy, you could be harming not only the environment, but also yourself by the skincare and cosmetics that you use. This is an excellent website called Skin Deep
It lets you browse products or search for something that you use and then see what it contains that may be damaging.
Like, I looked up Secret antiperspirant and it said this, among other things:
|Ingredients used by this brand:|
|Violations, restrictions & warnings|
|Other concerns for ingredients used by this brand:|
Neurotoxicity, Persistence and bioaccumulation, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Miscellaneous, Multiple, additive exposure sources, Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Enhanced skin absorption, Contamination concerns, Occupational hazards, Biochemical or cellular level changes
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
My journey in this life is perhaps not so remarkable, but it is who I am. Each place and time that I have lived in has left an indelible and ineffable imprint on the world that is my life. I believe each person inhabits her or his own world that was created through fate, inheritance, action and inaction. The result is, however, not only the physical world of each person's own residence, but also the lens with which they see out.
Having grown up in my homeland of the US in an upper-middle class, educated family was part of sheer inheritance and fate. I realize that I was fortunate to know some luxuries in my life, not the least of which were the luxuries of having a home, food, health care, and an education. I can't say that I can imagine what it must feel like to have lived differently because I realize that all of the aspects, considerations, and concerns that converge to shape a person's life can never be fully appreciated or understood by another, but it should be attempted none-the-less.
In times passing too fleetingly in my life, I have known those affected by a less financially fortunate life than my own. As a teacher in the inner city schools of Boston, I met and fell in love with children from families, some that had no heat in the dead of winter, others not enough food to feed their child before he came to school to get his one meal of the day, still others living with family members jammed into apartments too small to house them. These people became part of my world; regardless, that the time I knew them was brief. And I would like to think that in some ways I did something to help them, however small it may have been. But in looking back, I see that what I could have done was so much more, and regret is such a bitter and constant companion.
I think most people would like to reach out to others and help but are stymied by not knowing where to begin. Where I live now, there are areas where families live in squalor, (I know about them because I have seen some pictures on peoples' blogs.) and my own children know nothing of such things. It is my intention to find a way to help at least one of such families. I want my children to make an effort to make a difference. That requires that they, and I, step out of our own worlds and into another's.
Of course, there are so many ways to help the world so vast with people needing a helping hand. One of such ways is through Heifer. That is a great organization that helps people help themselves. But there is so much need out there that is just waiting for caring and innovative people to find a way to attend to it. It seems too daunting a task. Until it dawns on me: I know of some people right here with me who qualify and are just waiting for someone to teach them that this is something important, that this is more satisfying than the latest PSP game or designer purse, and this is something that could not only write on their lives in a meaningful way, but also shape the lens with which they view the world around them. It is only a small start.
"Every Muslim has to give in charity". The people asked, "O Allah's Prophet! If someone has nothing to give, what will he do?" He said, "He should work with his hands and benefit himself and also give in charity (from what he earns)." The people further asked, "If he cannot find even that?" He replied, "He should help the needy who appeal for help." Then the people asked, "If he cannot do that?" He replied, "Then he should perform good deeds and keep away from evil deeds and this will be regarded as charitable deeds."
Friday, September 26, 2008
This is an older article written by Hamza Yusuf, which appeared last Ramadan in The Guardian, UK. If you are not familiar with him, check out the link in my 'places I frequent' under Zaytuna Institute. Masha'Allah he is a brilliant convert to Islam. He was raised as a Greek Orthodox and was born in, of all places, Walla Walla, Washington.
"Hunger can bring out the worst in us. In a wonderful scene in Shakespeare's As You Like It, a desperate and hungry Orlando comes upon Duke Senior and his exiled court in the forest, who are about to start dinner. Assuming the law of the jungle presides in Arden, Orlando brandishes his sword and demands food upon pain of death. Duke Senior rebukes him for his lack of civility, and wisely adds: "Your gentleness shall force, more than your force move us to gentleness." Orlando responds: "I almost die for food, and let me have it." Unfazed, the duke says: "Sit down and feed, and welcome to our table." Orlando is shamed by the duke's gallantry and explains that hunger had bred violence in him.
Almost four centuries later another bard, Bob Marley, melodically reminded us: "Them belly full, but we hungry / A hungry mob is an angry mob." We all know the primal nature of hunger; we have experienced the irritability that comes from missing breakfast or skipping our cup of morning coffee or tea. We hyperbolically talk of "starving" when a mealtime draws near. Our food trysts are now frequent every day in what sociologists refer to as "repeated food contacts" and farmers simply call grazing. At the drop of a hat, we indulge in lattes and biscotti. Many people no longer eat three "square" meals but rather graze all day, with Starbucks troughs sprouting up everywhere to ensure none suffer the pangs of hunger or the pain of caffeine withdrawal. In the lands of plenty in the west, we tend to forget that the abundance and easy accessibility of food was not always so and is not as widespread even now.
Few of us who have the luxury of reading the daily paper over a cup of coffee and a piece of toast slathered with rich butter and marmalade have ever gone hungry intentionally, unless we succumbed to some ridiculous crash diet. But there was a time in the west when Lent, which commemorates Christ's 40-day fast in the desert, meant fasting all day and eating one meal at night. As time passed that tradition devolved into a semi-fast and now means merely giving up something one really likes, such as chocolate.
Even our portions of food and drink are much greater than what our grandparents had. In the midst of this cornucopia of consumption, millions of Muslims voluntarily abstain from food, drink and sex during daylight hours in the month of Ramadan. They watch their co-workers eat and drink throughout the day, and occasionally have to apologise for not joining in due to their religious observance. Fasting for a month makes them aware of hunger as a palpable physical sensation, not a remote occurrence they read about in the newspaper. When the UN tells us that almost a billion people suffer from hunger and malnutrition and 25,000 people a day die from hunger, a faster appreciates these statistics in ways that remain distant to others.
But fasting is not just about giving up food and drink. It's about tending to "the better angels of our nature". The prophet Muhammad said, "If one is not willing to give up bad behaviour during his fast, God has no need for him to give up his food and drink." Muslims are encouraged during this time to be better people, to treat others with more deference. If enticed to argue, the faster is advised to respond: "I am fasting."
There are many ways to be hungry. One can hunger for love, or fame or social justice, but hunger for food seems to curb all other cravings. In being aware of others' hunger, we contribute to a more empathic world. Perhaps, if, like Duke Senior, we responded to the cries of the myriad desperate Orlandos foraging in the forests of famine out there with hospitality and help, they might be coaxed into civility themselves. Certainly, hunger can bring out the worst in us. But it can also bring out the best."
· Hamza Yusuf is a Muslim scholar, lecturer and author, and the co-founder of the Zaytuna Institute in California, which is dedicated to reviving the traditions of classical Islamic scholarship
Friday, September 19, 2008
I came to the conclusion that either there was an emergency that suddenly presented itself, or he had somewhere he was supposed to be and had not allotted enough time to get there, or he was just a fool.
Given that this was not the first, second, or third time that I have seen this sort of thing happen, I will give the person the benefit of the doubt and say that he most probably was just in a hurry and wasn't thinking about anyone other than himself. Which also lead me to wonder about time...
It seems that so many of us are chasing, rushing, hurrying to this and that and the other. Often we hurry for no particular reason, just that it has become habit, which leads us to all kinds of other problems, not the least of which is that we have, for the most part, lost our ability to notice the other.
Be it the other person, the other landscape, the other beings, we have just lost our touch with the world around us. This is evident by the way many of us treat that world. In fact it is often used as our passing through place to dump our trash, throw out cigarette butts, and generally ignore and disregard.
If we are rushing past it all, how should we even notice its decrepitude and demise? If we are rushing past everyone, how should we notice others' needs or feelings? If we are rushing past it all, how can we ever invest ourselves to make our surroundings a better/safer place to be?
Have you ever stopped to think about the places you are driving through? Noticed the people that you pass on the side of the road? Looked at the shape of the terrain that you are driving through? Having the ability to be in the car and fly past the world around us in some ways puts us at a disadvantage. Sure we gain a lot from rapid transit, but we lose our connection to the world at large and to each other; therefore, we start to view each other not as people who have their own lives, needs, and rights, but as impediments to our own destinations, road blocks, as it were.
Islam says that speed is of shaytan, many other traditions also relate this sentiment in various ways. Henry David Thoreau said this: The finest workers of stone are not copper or steel tools, but the gentle touches of air and water working at their leisure with a liberal allowance of time.
Would that we could all slow down and observe the workings of life around us enough to appreciate it all.
Monday, September 08, 2008
Saturday, September 06, 2008
I love Zaytuna Institute and its Imams. May Allah be pleased with them. Here is a Ramadan message from Imam Zaid. (It has been shortened)
...O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those who preceded you; that perhaps you will be mindful of God. Al-Qur’an 2:183
We encourage everyone to be especially generous during this blessed month. Our beloved Prophet , was normally exceedingly generous. In Ramadan, he was even more benevolent.
Ibn ‘Abbas, May Allah be pleased with him and his father, relates: “The Prophet , was the most generous of people. He was even more generous in Ramadan when Gabriel would meet him and review the Qur’an with him. Gabriel would come to him every night of Ramadan to review the Qur’an. During these times, the Messenger of Allah , was more generous than the freely blowing wind.” Al-Bukhari and Muslim
We encourage everyone to read through the Qur’an at least once. Those who can read the Arabic script should do so in Arabic, even if they do not fully understand what they are reading. They should also try to read through the English translation. Those who are unable to read Arabic, should try to read through the entire English translation. Ramadan is, among other things, a celebration of the Qur’an. We should join the celebration by reading the Book of God much during this blessed month. Our Imams, Abu Hanifa, Malik, al-Shafi’i, and others, May God have Mercy on them all, would cease teaching Hadith and Jurisprudence during Ramadan and devote themselves exclusively to the Qur’an.
God says, concerning His Majestic Book: The Month of Ramadan in which the Qur’an was revealed, a guidance for mankind, [containing] clear proofs of guidance, and the criterion of distinguishing right from wrong. Al-Qur’an 2:185
We encourage everyone to refrain from all of the ruinations of the tongue during Ramadan. In his seminal work, “Quickening the Religious Sciences,” Imam al-Ghazali mentions them as the following:
Speaking in matters that do not concern one.
Speaking about sinful matters.
Disputation and contestation.
Excessively embellished speech.
Lewd, insulting, or crude speech.
Invoking the Curse of God on someone.
Singing indecent songs, or relating immoral poetry.
Sarcasm and ridicule.
Lying and false oaths.
Backbiting and slander.
Instigating tense relations between people.
Praising someone who is either undeserving, or unable to remain humble when praised.
Speaking about involved subjects and ideas one lacks the necessary knowledge or eloquence to adequately convey.
Ordinary folk speaking in subjects that are the domain of specialists.
May God spare us from these ruinations both during and after Ramadan.
The Prophet, Peace and Blessing of Almighty God be upon Him, said: “Whoever fails to leave off ruinous speech, and acting on it [during Ramadan], God does not need him to leave off eating and drinking.” Al-Bukahri
We encourage everyone to avoid all arguments, disputes, and unnecessary worldly entanglements during this blessed month. This is a time for deep devotion and dedication to Allah.
We encourage everyone to work to restore any severed relations or kinship ties they may be experiencing. This is a time when the gentle breezes of Divine Facilitation are blowing. Any good we endeavor during this blessed month will come to bear its proper fruits, Insha Allah.
We encourage everyone to eat simply during this month. One should try to make a vow to give up unnecessary, and generally unhealthy fare during this blessed month. Pizza, ice cream, fast food, pastries, and soda should all go. We should make our solidarity with our suffering brothers and sisters in other lands real, and not something confined to speeches and pamphlets.
If one is in the habit of watching television, or listening to commercial music, one should also try to give these things up for Ramadan. They are things that divert us from the remembrance of God in any case. During this special month when every letter we recite from the Majestic Qur’an is tremendously rewarded, we should busy ourselves with recitation, and drop frivolous pastimes.
Married couples should encourage each other to engage in spiritual pursuits during this month, i.e. reciting the Qur’an, attending Tarawih, etc. Those in the habit of hosting extravagant dinners in Ramadan should try to avoid doing so, especially if they involve burdening cooks with long hours in the kitchen at a time when everyone should be increasing acts of worship. Usually, the womenfolk are disadvantageously affected in this regard. While it is certainly virtuous to provide the wherewithal for the believers to break their fast, dates, water, and simple, easily prepared dishes suffice.
Everyone should endeavor to pray the Tarawih Prayers. This is practice that should not be left without an excuse. The Prophet , mentioned, “Whosoever stands for prayer during the nights of Ramadan will have his/her prior sins expiated.” Al-Bukhari and Muslim
The prayer is the symbol of our devotional life. Ramadan is a great time to rediscover the power of the prayer, and to renew our commitment to our Lord through the prayer.
These are some of the things we wanted to convey to you. Hopefully, they will prove of benefit. Please take this message in the spirit with which we have conveyed it, as sincere advice. Again, we wish you a very successful Ramadan and would like to thank all of you for past, present, and future support.
On behalf of the Zaytuna Staff,
Your Brother in Islam,
Imam Zaid Shakir
 Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali, Lata’if al-Ma’arif [The Subtleties of Knowledge], (Damascus: Dar Ibn Kathir, 1997/1416) p. 282.
 Ibn Rajab, p. 278.
Friday, September 05, 2008
What is it with politics? I am so turned off by politicians of late. I only watched snippets of the RNC, as that was all I could stomach, and it really made my skin crawl.
I am so sick of the hypocrisy! Why can't a politician say what s/he is for and against and leave it at that? Why do they have to act like 7 year olds trying to make friends, 'What, did I say I like Power Rangers? I mean I hate them!'
The latest hypocrite is this Sarah Palin, but heck, she is just joining ranks with the rest of them; "Did I say abstinence is a Christian value? I meant: we are all sinners, and let he who is without sin cast the first stone!"
Don't get me wrong, I am not pointing fingers at her daughter, I just seem to remember some of my good ol' Republican friends saying that Bill wasn't fit to lead and be an example to our children because he 'had a moment of weakness', (which they could have forgiven him for) and yet Sarah Palin is leading the Christian conservative charge with her unwed daughter and her daughter's 'baby daddy'!
I just don't get it...
I will go on record saying that just like I don't want my children to become desensitized to immoral behavior by watching the likes of Lindsey Lohan, Paris Hilton, or Jaime Spears(sp?), I also don't want them to do the same by watching the Vice President's family!
Is anybody awake out there?
What really gave me the creeps was the look in the eyes of some of the attendees at that convention...I think I spotted drool on their faces when the speakers, Sarah, John, and Rudy, were bashing Obama. Was that glee in their eyes? I found the whole spectacle to be distasteful and hateful. Rather than focusing on what they were going to do, they spent their whole time focusing on demonizing their opponents. And woven throughout the truculent grandstanding was an undercurrent of 'we are the right people; they are the wrong people'. It was not about issues; it was about the people themselves...sinister.
They very much epitomized George's mantra, 'Either you are with us, or you are against us'.
I think I like the Islamic way, if you seek to govern, then you are unfit to govern.
Throw 'em all out!
Monday, September 01, 2008
Sunday, August 31, 2008
I won't continue on with Jimmy's lyrics 'cause they don't fit entirely right.
But what is up with the weather here...can you say, steambath?
Sure, I knew you could. (a little allusion to the old SNL)
Suffice it to say that we arrived in Kuwait around 48 hours ago, and after making my way around in a semi-somnambulant state, I can positively say that I am thoroughly not adjusted!
The flight across the pond was very turbulent! What is it with BA? They don't come on to say anything to the passengers about what is going on up there in the cockpit?! Maybe it is the overly circumspect nature of us Americans, but heck, I want to know if we are going down so I can panic!
The ever-cool British pilot just remarked upon landing that that was some bad turbulence we went through back there, and it 'wasn't fun, was it?'!
Anyway, after being back for only one day, husband o' mine had to take off for Hamburg, leaving me to fend for myself to get ready for Ramadan, school, and settling back into Kuwait, gee thanks, Hon.
As he usually does, when he has to leave me here and travel for business, he tries to downplay where ever he goes; like when he went to Paris recently and said, "There's nothing much here, just basically one street."!
So, today, after spending a harrowing 25 minutes trying to get my exhausted and nearly comatose sleeping daughter to open her door and after failing, basically dismantling the faceplate and lock, I pick up the phone and give him a call; I ask him, "How is Hamburg?" and he says, "Oh, not much here, but I really didn't see too much, you know, just from the hotel to the conference....but the weather is nice."
Great, Hon, enjoy yourself. Meanwhile the water guy is breathing down my back for waiting for 'Sir' to come home- can't he talk to me if we owe him? And the car washing guy and the grass cutting guy continue to dispute and argue over who keeps moving the car washing guy's bucket. I am afraid that it will soon come to blows.
Hurry home... the weather is here.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
What is it about packing that pits husband against wife, mother against child? I think this is one time where personality and cultural differences become almost insurmountable, I admittedly aggrandize.
Never-the-less, I have watched as my husband works himself into a tizzy to symmetrically tape the edges of the boxes he is packing...no, not enough tape on the right edge, the left edge had more! I must wrap it around the complete circumference a full three times!
Man, his inner dialog must be killer. I keep telling him, he doesn't ever hear me when I ask him something because those voices in his head are soooooooo demanding and noisy!
He, the ever-perfectionist; I, cannot be bothered! I mean, when you are dealing with three children's needs, who has time to worry about color-coding suitcase tags? I am just fortunate to get to the airport with the kids, our carry-ons, PSP's, in-flight junk food, iPods, laptops, cameras, sippy cups, diaper bags, emergency diversion supplies, sans migraine, and I feel vindicated.
Ahh, God must have a great sense of humor!
Monday, August 25, 2008
Not really, on either account.
I just can't believe it is time to go back already, and I absolutely loathe saying goodbyes.
And gee, I really wish there were some pithy humorous anecdotes I could relate, but life doesn't always present itself to me like that.
I guess in another life I might have been Hank Williams or Johnny Cash cause it seems like I'm always looking at the back end of a Trailways.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
I don't usually write about a company or product, but I was so impressed with one that I feel the need.
My daughter's Macbook was acting up a bit , and I thought I would take it to a repair place before we went back to Kuwait, as it was not easy getting my Macbook worked on there.Well, wonder of wonder, turns out that it was the logic board(should that be one word?) problem.
Of course, I have no idea what that is, or that it would run about $800.00 for the part alone! Here is where Murphy's Law kicks in... The warranty ran out in July, (did the husband listen when I told him to buy the extended Apple Care...no, course not) and being that it is August, the fella tells me, I don't think they will care.
Ok, I am left with two, no three choices:
1. Bite the bullet and fix it for around 900.00
2. Buy a new computer for around 1100.00
3. Call Apple
So, I rolled my dice and called Apple. After making the correct selection of category on the phone, I actually spoke to a person, a real person...in California! Juxtapose that to my previous AWFUL experience with Dell when I had to talk to some folks over in India for 4 hours each time and NEVER solved my problems, apparently because one hand doesn't know what the other is doing with them.
Anyway, after I explained my problem to them, they told me that they were going to help me and fix my daughter's computer for me! Amazing, "so shines a good deed in a weary world"(Charlie and the Chocolate Factory).
To top things off, I called the place that had her computer, at 5:30 p.m.yesterday, and he told me he would order the part from Cali today, mind you, we are in South Carolina, and he would get it that same day. Well he did do as he said and called just a bit ago, at 3:00p.m. to say that the computer is indeed ready!
I am so impressed. That is what you call great customer service!
Way to go Apple and L2 Technologies!
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
I remember when I was a teenager being questioned about what I would like to do with my life. I don't think I was really able, at that time, to grasp the enormity of the meaning of those simple words, 'do with your life'. Never-the-less, questions do cause pause and I did think, even at that time, that what I wanted to do was something that could benefit someone.
I went to private schools which valued and included community service, winterims, (breaks in high school where you spend time in an internship of choice) and making students aware of what potential humanitarian opportunities were available to them. It was always emphasized that these were life-enriching opportunities for the potential volunteer and not burdens or obligations.
At that time I was really interested in joining The Peace Corps alas, being a teenager with the world of college, partying, and fun, stretched out in front of me, I was distracted and did not go. Ah, regret is a very sad thing. I keep preaching that to my children. :) It happens everywhere. It is the circus that distracts us on the way to living a real life, and maybe the sirens that take us away from what is meaningful is not so different in Kuwait as America. Partying, alcohol and such are not as readily available, but I understand that they are a problem here too.
As seductive and all-encompassing as drugs, is giving one's life over to consumerism too. Sadly, it seems that Kuwait is not providing much in the way of diversion and entertainment for its youth besides preparing them for a life of buying and indulging themselves. Forgive my religious tangent as I remember that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, "The mouths of the sons of Adam would never be filled until it was with the dirt of the grave."
But maybe there is something that we could indulge ourselves in that would be more satiating than the latest clothes, store openings, burgers, or cars. Maybe the answer is all around us just waiting to be discovered. After all, I sense that if one waits, in Kuwait, for the powers that be to provide something, one might spend one's entire life in inertia.
Today, worldwide, there are even more opportunities for people to get involved in and do something with their lives that could have a huge impact on the world around them. Like they say, though, often it is best to start with your immediate circle of influence. Eventually that circle will ripple out and touch many. One good turn, you know.
I don't write this to try to preach to others, rather to say that often what I have been guilty of doing in Kuwait is complaining about the lack of this and the presence of that, but these problems could just be opportunities in disguise. How often do you/I walk by a disgustingly dirty street and complain, or lament the quality of life of some poor worker, or feel bad for starving/hurt animals, or worry about the pollution in the sea?
Just perhaps these problems around us could be invitations from God.
And the invitation reads...
"Do something with your life."
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
With all of the avid shoppers and 'shoe-collectors' in Kuwait, it seems plausible that there would be many shoes that could be donated. Anyway, maybe folks could pass the website along. Many of us are so fortunate and never even give pause to realize it. Sometimes it takes very little to give a lot.
With over 300 million children without shoes, see how one company is changing the world, one shoe at a time.
It's a simple concept: get shoes and give them away. That's what Soles4Souls founderWayne Elsey did after the Tsunami hit. While watching television at home one night, Elsey was moved by an image of a single shoe washing up on the beach. That ignited a flame inside him. After a few calls to some friends in the footwear industry, Elsey secured a donation of over a quarter million shoes to send to the victims. A year later, when Hurricane Katrina hit, Elsey called up the same group of friends and over 1 million pairs of shoes were delivered to towns along the gulf coast. Elsey admits that he could not have predicted such a successful turnout, and it left him wondering, why not do this full-time? A year later, Elsey left his executive position at a large footwear company and formed Soles4Souls. As for today, Elsey says he wants to inspire others to say "Hey, wait a minute! I can do something like that with my own resources."
Or, at the very least, "I could send them my shoes that are cluttering up the closet." We know that there are plenty of people in the world that could use them.
Soles4Souls have given away 2.6 million pairs of shoes since they started; that translates into one pair every 28 seconds. www.giveshoes.org
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
'"...Firstly, the procurement and distribution of medical supplies." For example, he noted, "If there is a nuclear leak from one of Iran's nuclear reactors we need to have stockpiled iodine.
He said, "Kuwait must have emergency medical teams ready to deal with such situations who are equipped with supplies ready in all areas of Kuwait who are ready to deal with every contingency." Secondly, Kuwait would have to "stockpile food and have alternative routes to import food into Kuwait." stated Khathor.
He noted if regional violence broke-out, it may be difficult to rely on airplanes and alternative land routes would have to be made available. "Kuwait would need to procure more trucks for this purpose." Khathor affirmed that the state's Ministry of Commerce has already begun preparations by increasing the strategic food supply and limiting food exports."...
Monday, August 11, 2008
Elias Ahmad and
I recently stumbled across the work of the above Syrian artists. I love to *find* art. I mean, to some these artists are well-known, just not to me, hence the *finding* applies.
Anyway, all around the world people are finding ways to express themselves and make their world beautiful. This is a segue from my previous post on going green. There are many ways of tending to one's environment. Recycling and cleaning it up are basic, mandatory aspects; however, so is adorning it with human expression and beauty.
A sadly-noted, missing aspect of life in Kuwait is the outward expression of the human experience. That may be manifest in visual, musical, architectural art, and countless other ways. While I am aware that many tremendously talented Kuwaiti artists are out there, there doesn't seem to be much of a forum for them in the public realm.
I wonder why that is...after all Islam says "God is beautiful and He loves the beauty-maker"
Sunday, August 10, 2008
While I know that some of the following suggestions would be impossible in Kuwait, most of them are more than doable. The following article can be found here, for all-inclusive, intact links.
Keep reading for 10 simple things you can do today to help reduce your environmental impact, save money, and live a happier, healthier life.
Save energy to save money.
- Set your thermostat a few degrees lower in the winter and a few degrees higher in the summer to save on heating and cooling costs.
- Install compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) when your older incandescent bulbs burn out.
- Unplug appliances when you're not using them. Or, use a "smart" power strip that senses when appliances are off and cuts "phantom" or "vampire" energy use.
- Wash clothes in cold water whenever possible. As much as 85 percent of the energy used to machine-wash clothes goes to heating the water.
- Use a drying rack or clothesline to save the energy otherwise used during machine drying. If you must use a dryer, consider adding dryer balls to cut drying time.
Save water to save money.
- Take shorter showers to reduce water use. This will lower your water and heating bills too.
- Install a low-flow showerhead. They don't cost much, and the water and energy savings can quickly pay back your investment.
- Make sure you have a faucet aerator on each faucet. These inexpensive appliances conserve heat and water, while keeping water pressure high.
- Plant drought-tolerant native plants in your garden. Many plants need minimal watering. Find out which occur naturally in your area.
Less gas = more money (and better health!).
- Walk or bike to work. This saves on gas and parking costs while improving your cardiovascular health and reducing your risk of obesity.
- Consider telecommuting if you live far from your work. Or move closer. Even if this means paying more rent, it could save you money in the long term.
- Lobby your local government to increase spending on sidewalks and bike lanes. With little cost, these improvements can pay huge dividends in bettering your health and reducing traffic.
- If you eat meat, add one meatless meal a week. Meat costs a lot at the store-and it's even more expensive when you consider the related environmental and health costs.
- Buy locally raised, humane, and organic meat, eggs, and dairy whenever you can. Purchasing from local farmers keeps money in the local economy.
- Watch videos about why local food and sustainable seafood are so great.
- Whatever your diet, eat low on the food chain [pdf]. This is especially true for seafood.
Skip the bottled water.
- Use a water filter to purify tap water instead of buying bottled water. Not only is bottled water expensive, but it generates large amounts of container waste.
- Bring a reusable water bottle, preferably aluminum rather than plastic, with you when traveling or at work.
- Check out this short article for the latest on bottled water trends.
Think before you buy.
- Go online to find new or gently used secondhand products. Whether you've just moved or are looking to redecorate, consider a service like craigslist or FreeSharing to track down furniture, appliances, and other items cheaply or for free.
- Check out garage sales, thrift stores, and consignment shops for clothing and other everyday items.
- When making purchases, make sure you know what's "Good Stuff" and what isn't.
- Watch a video about what happens when you buy things. Your purchases have a real impact, for better or worse.
Borrow instead of buying.
- Borrow from libraries instead of buying personal books and movies. This saves money, not to mention the ink and paper that goes into printing new books.
- Share power tools and other appliances. Get to know your neighbors while cutting down on the number of things cluttering your closet or garage.
- Buy in bulk. Purchasing food from bulk bins can save money and packaging.
- Wear clothes that don't need to be dry-cleaned. This saves money and cuts down on toxic chemical use.
- Invest in high-quality, long-lasting products. You might pay more now, but you'll be happy when you don't have to replace items as frequently (and this means less waste!).
Keep electronics out of the trash.
- Keep your cell phones, computers, and other electronics as long as possible.
- Donate or recycle them responsibly when the time comes. E-waste contains mercury and other toxics and is a growing environmental problem.
- Recycle your cell phone.
- Ask your local government to set up an electronics recycling and hazardous waste collection event.
Make your own cleaning supplies.
- The big secret: you can make very effective, non-toxic cleaning products whenever you need them. All you need are a few simple ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, lemon, and soap.
- Making your own cleaning products saves money, time, and packaging-not to mention your indoor air quality.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
As a mother of three and an educator, I have been personally and professionally acquainted with the umbrella terms of ADHD and ADD for many years. I have always been concerned about the environmental aspects of this supposed disease: additives in food, television and computer exposure, etc.
The most recent book I have read on the subject by Thom Hartmann called The Edison Gene focuses on the positive aspects of ADHD and challenges the use of term 'disorder'. He maintains that it is the schools' inability to adapt and individualize pedagogy to channel the inherent energy and creativity in these students that causes the rift between student and teacher and not a disorder per se.
Additionally, he looks to other factors such as loss of nutrient rich soil in today's corporate farming world and how foods are deficient in brain-powerful fuel, as a contributing factor to many children's lessening ability to focus.
And I just ran across this blurb about food colorants in food the reconfirms fears of mine that I have simply been too sidetracked to address with my own family. It looks like Europe may be more ready to objectively deal with the situation of public health than the US:
Europe Manages Risk: USA Pretends It Doesn't Exist.
There's a pattern here. European Union nations phase out the more hazardous of the pthalate plasticizers: USA lobbies against it and resists it in the US. Europe tests animals for Mad Cow disease: USA makes it illegal to test them. Europe takes climate action: USA resists. There are plenty more where these come from. You get the idea: when it comes to protecting children from dye marketed mainly to children, Europe leads.
Now, synthetic dyes are getting a second run. New research indicates the chemicals can disrupt some children's behavior, and activists and consumer groups are asking for bans or limits on the dyes. A prestigious British medical journal recommended that doctors use dye-free diets as a first-line treatment for some behavior disorders; British regulators are pressuring companies to stop using the dyes, and some are complying.We know FDA won't act. Administratively Disordered Hypoactive Dysfunction (ADHD) has taken over.
The issue has generated much less attention on this side of the Atlantic. The FDA says the dyes are safe, and has no plans to limit their use.
Sounds like a foolish wish, but maybe Wal-Mart will take the lead. These days corporate mavericks can show more common sense than the agencies set up to manage consumer risk.
Via::Balitmore Sun, Color Me Concerned, Activists ask FDA to ban artificial food dyes after research supports possible link to ADHD Image credit::Balitmore Sun, by Algerina Perna
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
I cam across this and thought it was good. I don't know if this really translates well for all of our Arab husbands married to American women, but heck, even American men don't get it! Read and learn men.
Also, I would be interested to know if there were Arabic equivalents to these terms?
You may want to read carefully, and keep handy for a quick review in tense situations with your loved one.
1.) “Fine”: This is the word women use to end an argument when they are right and you need to shut up. A shrewd but effective psychological tactic.
2.) “Five Minutes”: If she is getting dressed, this means a half an hour. Five minutes is only five minutes if you have just been given five more minutes to watch the game before helping around the house. It may be that women are able to fold the space time continuum to achieve this.
3.) “Nothing”: This is the calm before the storm. This means something, and you should be on your toes for at least the next 72hrs, if not longer. Arguments that begin with “nothing” usually end in “fine”.
4.) “Go Ahead”: According to all experts on the topic this is considered a dare, and not permission. Don’t Do It!
5.) A Loud Sigh: This is not actually a word, but is a non-verbal statement often misunderstood by men. A loud sigh means she thinks you are an idiot and further discussion is pointless because she is right in this discussion about nothing important. (Refer back to #3 for the meaning of “nothing”.)
6.) “That’s Okay”: This is one of the most dangerous statements a women can make to a man. That’s okay means she wants to think long and hard before deciding how and when you will pay for your mistake. A 72hr waiting period doesn’t apply, this goes on your permanent record.
7.) “Thanks”: A woman is thanking you, do not question, or Faint. Just say you’re welcome and back away slowly.
8.) “Whatever”: Is a woman’s way of saying “bite me”.
9.) “Don’t worry about it, I got it”: Another dangerous statement, meaning this is something that a woman has told a man to do several times, but is now doing it herself. This will later result in a man asking “What’s wrong?” For the woman’s response refer to #3. Pray that you don’t receive a “that’s ok”.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
I have to say it... I know the New Yorker is a sophisticated publication, but the supposed attempt at 'satire' is sadly, perhaps *paranoidly*, suspicious to me.
I think it is condescending for their response to the response of offended people to be, "You just didn't get it. It is satire!"
And I do think that there might have been a more sinister attempt at subliminal stimulation: If we place these images in front of people they will subconsciously start to associate Obama with Muslim, anti-American, terrorism, etc. And we can just say, "Hey, man it's satire...come on!"
Now, the real question is why. Why would a magazine that has historically been liberal and Democrat-leaning do this to the Democrat candidate. Well, I won't spell it out, but some group out there is really nervous about getting someone in office who just might not cotton to the status quo.
Comorbid with the insidious political aim is the damage and the deep offense that the New Yorker seems to pay no heed to that they inflict upon the 7 plus million Muslims in the US alone. Do you think that if it were any other religion depicted in such a negative light that people would remain silent?
Really, I hope there is no emotional, hysterical response to this cartoon, rather a well-thought out manifestation of the true, peaceful and beautiful Islam.
Friday, July 11, 2008
A friend sent this to me, and I think it is great. Given the hustle and bustle of our lives, and in particular dealing with the driving in Kuwait, I think it prudent for all of us to practice being more patient and how not to lose our temper.A man once asked the Prophet, peace be upon him, to give the man some advise, and the Prophet told him, "Do not get angry" and repeated it three times.
- Tally marks. This is the first strategy, if you have real problems with patience: start by simply keeping tally marks on a little sheet of paper every time you lose your patience. This is one of the most effective and important methods for controlling an impulse — by learning to become more aware of it. Once you become aware of your impulses, you can work out an alternative reaction.
- Figure out your triggers. As you become more aware of losing your patience, pay close attention to the things that trigger you to lose that patience. Is it when your co-worker does something particularly irritating? When your spouse leaves dirty dishes in the sink? When your child doesn’t clean up her mess? Certain triggers will recur more frequently than others — these are the things you should focus on the most.
- Deep breaths. When you first start to lose your patience, take a deep breath, and breathe out slowly. Then take another. And another. These three breaths will often do the trick, as your frustration will slowly melt away.
- Count to 10. This one really works. When you feel yourself getting frustrated or angry, stop. Count slowly to 10 (you can do this in your head). When you’re done, most of the initial impulse to yell or do something out of frustation will go away. Combine this with the breathing tip for even more effectiveness.
- Start small. Don’t try to become as patient as Job overnight. It won’t happen. Start with something small and manageable. Look for a trigger that only induces a mild impatience within you — not something that gets your blood boiling. Then focus on this, and forget the other triggers for now. Work on controlling your temper for that one trigger. If you can get this one under control, use what you learned to focus on the next small trigger. One at a time, and with practice, you’ll get there.
- Take a time out. Often it’s best just to walk away for a few minutes. Take a break from the situation, just for 5-10 minutes, let yourself calm down, plan out your words and actions and solution, and then come back calm as a monk.
- Remember what’s important. Sometimes we tend to get upset over little things. In the long run, these things tend not to matter, but in the heat of the moment, we might forget this. Stop yourself, and try to get things in perspective.
- Keep practicing. Every time a situation stretches your patience to dangerous thinness, just think of it as an opportunity to practice your patience. Because that’s what it take to become patient — practice, practice, more practice, and even more practice. And then some more. And the more you practice, the better you’ll get. So cherish these wonderful opportunities to practice.
- Visualize. This works best if you do it before the frustrating situation comes up. When you’re alone and in a quiet place. Visualize how you want to react the next time your trigger happens. How do you handle the situation? How do you look? What do you say? How does the other person react? How does it help your relationship, your life? Think about all these things, visualize the perfect situation, and then try to actually make that happen when the situation actually comes up.
- Remember that things can take time. Nothing good happens right away. If you expect things to happen at the snap of your fingers, you’ll get impatient every time. Instead, realize that things will take time, and this realization can help your patience tremendously.
- Teach. This is something that helps me a lot. I remember that no one is perfect, and that everyone has a lot to learn. Be patient, and teach others how to do things — even if you’ve tried before, it might be the 11th time when things click. And remember, none of us learn things on the first try. Find new ways to teach something, and you’re more likely to be successful.
- Find healthy ways to relieve frustration. Frustration can build up like steam in a pressure cooker, and if you don’t relieve that steam, you’ll explode. So find ways to relieve that frustration in a healthy way. Punching a pillow, going outside to a place where you’re all alone and yelling, exercise, kickboxing … these are just a few examples. Once you get that frustration out of your system, you usually feel better.
- Try meditation. You can’t meditate in the middle of a frustrating situation, usually, but often meditation can help you to learn to find a center of calm within yourself. Once you learn how to go to this calm place, you can go there when you begin to get angry. Meditation can also help you to be in the moment, instead of always wanting to get to the future, or instead of dwelling on the past and getting angry about it.
- Just laugh. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that no one is perfect, that we should be enjoying this time with our loved ones, and that life should be fun — and funny. Smile, laugh, be happy. Doesn’t always work, but it’s good to remind yourself of this now and then.
- Just love. Instead of reacting with anger, teach yourself to react with love. Your child spills something or has a messy room or breaks your family heirloom? Your spouse yells at you or is cranky after work? React with love. It’s the best solution.
“Genius is eternal patience.” - Michelangelo
Sunday, July 06, 2008
Friday, May 30, 2008
It conjures up memories of baking cakes and cookies with my grandmother and great-aunt; 'Granny' on the Beverly Hillbillies used to dab it behind her ears; I used to sniff it to almost intoxicating levels when I was a child,
and I oh so miss it now.
I have been trying to pretend that I really don't need it, but my charade is over. I have been making chocolate chip cookies and fudge and so forth for the kids, sans vanilla extract, but the jig is up.
I am contemplating making Tiramisu for dessert and I just don't know how to go about it with that powered vanilla stuff. I have looked for the vanilla pods too but with no success. I have even hit up other expats for an extract connection... :( Nothing!
I never thought something so simple and pure as vanilla would be so painfully absent.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Well, we have almost made it through our first year here in Kuwait. It's funny that time has seemed to fly and drag by simultaneously.
My older children have adjusted somewhat to school and life in general here. They both have made friends in school; although, none of their friends are Kuwaiti....
Life in Mangaf has been interesting to say the least. One day I looked out and was surprised when I thought I saw a kite flying by the window, only to be let down by the realization that it was a grocery bag aloft.
We, the kids and I, are eagerly anticipating going home this summer. Can I still call it 'home'? You betcha! Even though we will be going to the sweltering heat of the deep south, I am so looking forward to being able to go outside, see green things and hear wildlife and nature. How I miss the sound of wind, rain, birds and squirrels!
Maybe next year I will be able to concentrate on life around me better here. Maybe one day I will think about going back to work too. Maybe, maybe... but for now, I am just relishing the thought of home.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
My trainer is wonderful, she's from NJ, and I don't know how long she will stay in KW, but I hope she will be here for a good little while, at least until I can muster up momentum on my own.
I have been having some eye trouble lately; I don't know why, but every time I come to KW, I get eye infections. Crazy thing is, the first Dr. I went to, at a govt. hospital barely gave me any time to tell him what was going on and just threw a prescription at me. Well guess what....wrong diagnosis, surprise surprise, a little thing like 'listening' is important after all!
Anyway, crazy reaction to the meds made me look like a raccoon on crack and sent me to a Dr. at private clinic, who I think may have gotten it right. At least, I am hoping.
Last thing, and it really pisses me off....I went to complain to the middle school principal at my kids' school about the fact that they are grading according to ABILITY in P.E.! That is just crazy. He said, "Well, since we are a prep school, we like to treat all of our classes the same." Hmmm...sorry, but no dice, bud, I didn't send my kids to school to become athletes. You are supposed to be educating my children, and just by the nature of the beast, P.E. is different.
Ah, well, it continues to pull her GPA down because she is not an athlete, but I am not going to obsess about it; it's just another one of those annoying things.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
I finally joined a gym that is close by, and that should help with my mind-funk. I have also started driving...woo hoo! I hope I don't get into too much trouble, but I have been known to yell at reckless drivers, even in Roxbury, MA.
I have been adventurous and have been making my own bagels and planting heirloom seeds. The tomatoes and basil are thriving!
I am looking forward to going home in June, although flying with three kids, one 12 month old, will be a challenge. I can't wait to see my green home and loving family. The kids are psyched! All summer at the beach.
Sorry I have been absent, but I can't seem to give myself permission to just ramble needlessly. Oh, yeah, and also, my computer is in the Digits hospital trying to be mended. It's amazing how much I miss it.
Hopefully, I will find the rhythm.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Monday, January 21, 2008
My mother, the artist and introvert, did rather well and only complained of 'too much kissing'. My father, on the other hand, has been renamed: Robert of Arabia. He loved all of the social aspects of Kuwait and went to a couple of diwaniyas, with one of them throwing a dinner party for him!
We went to the dessert one time, (if you can overlook the horrendous amount of trash, litter, and dead animals strewn about) it was fairly nice.
A stroll along the beach brought new seashells for my mother's collection(they live on the beach in SC), and we actually took daily walks in Mangaf amid the cellulose tumbleweeds.
The children loved having their grandparents here and are still lamenting their absence, as am I.
My mother brought with her many books for me to read, and I am really enjoying Hunting and Gathering, a French novel by Anna Gavalda.
I am really contemplating how to go about some sort of clean up Kuwait campaign. I know it sounds terribly naive or idealistic, but really, if one could only publicize pictures of the trashed landscape here, I think some locals might be truly motivated, if only by embarrassment.
Anyway, I hope to be able to start blogging and writing again. My easel didn't make it to KW in last infamous shipping, so I will have to wait for the next one to arrive before setting up shop, so to speak.
BTW, is there such an animal as 'condensed milk' here in KW? I have yet to see it at co-op, Sultan, or Carrefour...and I want to make flan!
Thanks to all for your input for my parents. I tried many of the places suggested. Yall were a great help!
Ta ta for now.