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It’s been a crazy Spring around here. We just had the best vacation of our lives (until the next one). It was our first vacation without a lot of baby or toddler gear. We took a stroller, a travel cot, and some nighttime diapers. We only used the stroller as a sherpa and ended up leaving it in a taxi (that’s how you know you really don’t need it anymore). We didn’t need the crib but my three-year old loves it, like really loves it. And I love anything that makes my kids sleep happily. Nighttime diapers, who knows if we need them but I’m not taking any chances. Who likes being woken up in the night to change sheets and deal with a wet toddler. Not me!

Anyway, Cape Town. Seriously, it looks fake it’s so amazing. It’s San Francisco but dirt cheap, it’s Napa, but on steroids. It’s France with lavender and rustic wood but without the French :). It’s Africa, the place in my heart but mixed with the rest of the world. I can’t wait to go back already.

So I came back to a mixed bag of news. My friend’s book was published. Amazing. My best friend is leaving Dubai. Not just any best friend but the friend I met in Starbucks almost nine years ago. She looked tired, freaked out, and overwhelmed. Her son was a new-born, mine was safely tucked away in my womb. Cue too many memories and milestones to tell. Let’s just say I’m going to have a huge phone bill. YUGE!

Ramadan is here and I love the peaceful vibe and the change in our typical rhythm. I’m also having a little middle life crisis with Dubai at the moment. I’ve been here almost ten years and the constant change in the city, people, and the energy is wearing me down. I know I’ll come back from seeing family in September and feel revived. But at the moment I feel weary and what helps is getting in the ocean, exercising, cooking, and getting some extra sleep. The other thing that really helps me stay centered is music. I’ve almost always got it playing in our house and in our car. My kids have opinions now and I get DJ requests.  I’m getting a little sick of Justin Bieber and The Wheels on The Bus.

One of the things I really love about Ramadan is the quiet during the day. As a family, we use the opportunity for extra service in the community and reflection. It’s a time of year that while I dread the inconveniences (often skipping meals or water because I’m out all day) I also appreciate all of the conveniences I am privileged to have. I love seeing the city come alive before Iftar and it’s a time when many communities blend and break bread. Reflecting on our years in Dubai, seeing the city grow before our eyes, and constantly learning new things from new people- these are just some of the things I love about living in such a dynamic city.

Like any normal Dubain I spend a lot of time driving. I don’t love that about my life, but podcasts make it better! As soon as the kids are out of the car, I usually put one on and Ramadan is a great time to take a break from music and listen to other people’s stories. As a writer I find a lot of inspiration when I hear other’s talk about their lives or their creative process.

So, without anymore rambling, I give you my list of favorite podcasts:

This American Life (TAL)

It’ll always be my number one, because it was my gateway drug to podcasts in general. I’ve been listening to it off and on since I was in college. I can still remember being blown away by a stories on it as I made the drive home from my college campus. I could never pick a favorite episode. I believe every American should listen to this current season to get an insight to our current state affairs, you won’t get depressed, you’ll just understand all the different angles. TAL always finds hope.

This is one of my favorite episodes because it’s hosted by Sarah Koenig (before Serial) and it’s hilarious Available Here

I could go on and on with so many links and favorite episodes but I’ll leave it there. TAL might be about death, the tooth fairy, war, embarrassment of first love, aliens, or superheroes. But it’s always a home run. Always.

Desert Island Discs

I’m sure every English person, is thinking duh? As a good Anglophile, I’m not sure how I missed this amazing 75 year old radio program but the good news? I have a lot of archives to catch up on. The premise is the artist, musician, sports star, writer etc. are stranded on a desert island forever. They narrtate their choices of songs/albums to accompany them, prompted by questions by the presenter. But what it evolves into is a beautiful tapestry of their life story, with music in the background. I’ve only listened to three so far and I’m in love. One with musical star, Polly James, from 1974 was mind-blowing. To hear people narrate something so modern in the past is intriguing. Polly was asked what she would miss most about her life if she was exiled from civilization and she said her telephone, but she would also love to be away from it. This made me feel so much better about the state of our world. It’s hard not to feel we’re all going to hell in a hand basket with the direction of technology. I fear we will all end up mindless, depressed, lonely people with very bad posture. Turns out, it was a mixed blessing over forty years ago too. Yesterday I listened to Ed Sheehan and David Beckham and I’m not exaggerating when I say, they changed me, and my perception of music, dedication, and football. I also have a little bit of a crush on both of them. 

My Favorite Murder

What can I say, I have a twisted sense of entertainment. This podcast looks at all kinds of murders: current, historical and even international, although most seem to be USA murders. Maybe we just have more. If you like witty, snarky, irreverent ramblings that make you laugh out loud even though murder isn’t funny you might like this podcast too. I couldn’t pick a favorite one if I tried. Just try one and see.

Modern Love

This podcast features stories from the popular NYT column and it’s just beautiful. Each episode centers on a column read by a famous actor or other notable person. The podcast often has updates from the original author of the piece.  I have to admit I’ve cried while I’ve listened in my car. Tears of joy and sadness, sometimes at the same time. It’s a podcast that gives you a lot of hope and respect for how much love there is in the world, even if it’s misguided or painful.

One of my favorites is ‘The Wedding Toast’ read by Kathryn Hahn. Available Here

The Moth A podcast for writers, readers and lovers of the spoken word. The Moth is a live storytelling event where readers tell a true story without the aid of notes. It’s a mix of improv and stand-up. It’s inspiring and compelling. The podcast features live recordings from stages all around the USA.

Revisionist History  by Malcolm Gladwell and Panoply. The tag line for this podcast is sometimes the past needs a second chance. It features fascinating analysis on a variety of things that may have been misunderstood or overlooked. One of my favorites is about Wilt Chamberlin and Kevin Barry and their shooting techniques. Sounds sporty, but it uncovers a fascinating aspect of human nature. Available Here

Lastly, I give you Mystery Show a fantastic podcast I discovered right after Serial ended and I was afraid I would never love a podcast again. This short series is a cute and quirky take on you guessed it-solving mysteries. My favorite episode revolves around the tv show, Welcome Back Kotter, and it also happens to be the season finale. Available Here

Honorable Mentions:  I don’t necessarily love these any less, but for the sake of a post that will actually be read, I think I should wrap it up!

To The Point  a political podcast for concerned Americans and everyone that is impacted by US politics, so really, a podcast for everyone. 🙂

You Must Remember This  A podcast about forgotten Hollywood history from the 1900s.

Stuff You Should Know  a podcast about how stuff works…

Here’s The Thing with Alec Baldwin  I could listen to his voice for days. This is another podcast with unique interviews with a variety of well-known personalities.





Aging, Detox, and Stress

Uplifting topic, right?

I wanted to share three resources that I have found that have helped me a lot in the past year.

So, aging, yuck. There doesn’t seem to be anything good about it, except the wisdom and as my friend Becky told me “the fact that you stop giving a shit too, so that’s good.” I know in reality I’m still young and that ten years from now I might back and wish I was this age again. So I try to be in the moment and embrace each age for its awesomeness. Age is just a number, right?

So, to set the scene, it was the morning after a late, late night out celebrating a great friends 40th birthday. Champagne, cocktails, wine, yummy food, and friends. It was great. The next morning, I was mindlessly scanning my email, while the kids ate breakfast and found a new email from goop. Goop, if you don’t know it, is Gwyneth Paltrow’s weekly lifestyle publication. It’s one of those things I love to hate or hate to love. Sure, Gwyneth Paltrow can rub people the wrong way with her perfect diet, and her conscious uncoupling that wasn’t a divorce. But, she and her team spend a lot of time researching just about every fantastic thing under the sun. It’s then curated into her site and newsletter with stuff to buy, read, cook, do, places to go, etc. Some of it is SO beyond what us mere mortals can do or afford BUT a lot of it is really cool and helpful.

So I was feeling old, tired, and hung over. Naturally, I clicked on the article “The Secret to Staying Young” and you should too. It’s actually super positive and made me feel encouraged. She covers every topic in the aging process and what we can do to make it better. The article covers longevity, genetics, lifestyle, and Alzheimer’s. Check it out! Linked below:


Next up, detoxing. I’ve never really done anything like a detox. I live a pretty clean and healthy lifestyle, most of the time, so I don’t worry too much. But, I have struggled with chronic sinusitis, anxiety, and sleep issues at different times in my life so I decided to give one a try. I found one that included plenty of eating because I just can’t restrict my eating, unless I’m super stressed or upset and then it’s not a good restriction. Anyway. I did the Nikki Sharp 5 Day Detox app and it was amazing! I loved not having to think about my own meals for five days. The app times everything and gives you recipes for each meal/snack. It was a really reflective week and I felt incredibly calm. I loved using foods differently and learned a lot about my own eating habits. For one, I know I don’t need as much meat as I tend to eat and I’ve learned to be more mindful about the whole process. I feel energized and clean. I really don’t want to taint my body with coffee and alcohol again, but I know I will!

I can’t think of anything negative to say about the experience. It was easy to use, the food was delicious and plentiful.I felt hungry a couple of times, but infused water or peppermint tea helped with this. I will say though, that cooking for my kids was kind of annoying but hey, they’re worth it. I felt tempted as I took some muffins out of the oven but I got over it! I did not do this detox for weight loss but I do feel slimmer in the abdomen. This detox would be  great as a lifestyle re-set or a kickstart for a healthy weight-loss plan. I see myself doing this after the summer or Christmas just because it feels so good! I feel I must add in here that I am not a paid-spokesperson and my blog has about five followers in addition to my mother so obviously this is not a sponsored post.


Lastly, in September of last year I got lucky and clicked on another amazing goop link and I go back to it often. It’s about stress containers in our bodies and includes quick videos on how to release them and be aware of the emotional patterns that may create them. It’s an incredible resource that you can use in a short amount of time. My jaw is a place I hold tension in (especially at night) and their video has helped me a lot!

To summarize it, your body holds stress in all the major parts of your body. The jaw, neck and face, the shoulders and chest, diaphragm and lungs, gut, your pelvic floor and hips. In the videos they give you easy exercises to release the tension and a mantra/short meditation to go with it. I can’t say enough about how great this link is, whether you are a beginner to the concept of mind-body connections or a seasoned practitioner of yoga and meditation. Link below:


I hope you enjoy reading and clicking. I welcome any and all feedback/advice on these topics!



Mindful Parenting

At the end of January I got lucky and happened to see a text on my daughter’s preschool chat about a wellbeing event at LightHouse Arabia. I usually miss the good stuff so I was excited to see the event had not passed already.  The event cost only 75 dhs (20USD) and the fee was actually an optional donation to charity.

I am a mom of three and every day I wish I had done a bunch of things differently.  I want to be the calm mom and the strict mom. The mom that has polite well-behaved children, the ones that do chores without being asked. I want kids that are nice to each other and respect adults. I want them to do well in school and sports and to have nice friends. I wish they would eat more vegetables and enjoy my cooking, without complaints, every day. While I am making a wish list, I wish they would go on pinterest for inspiration and make their own goddamn lunches too.

I hope for lots of things for my children but what happens, everyday, is I get so caught up in the immediacy of it all that I end up just being a mediocre version of myself. I yell, I say things I wish I hadn’t and I settle for the minimum. Sometimes I don’t care if anyone brushes their teeth. But because I am me, and because I strive for success, I’ll feel guilty about it all later. And in this cycle I read and I write and I try to learn as much as I can. I try to have fun with them and enjoy the little moments, because they go so fast. I heard an interview with an amazing mother recently and she said everyone should be the mom that comes naturally to them and if you do that, your kids will turn out fine. It’s true though, we spend so much energy trying to be a different, better kind of parent that we can lose our strengths in the struggle.

Anyway…I do not have much wisdom for you, except that I learned a lot from the workshop that I went to and I thought I would share some of it here, on the blog to help others. It was super nice to take a break from my family on a Saturday and listen to well-trained professionals. The event was relaxing, peaceful and so welcoming. My kids did a couple of workshops for kids (technology and baking) and they loved them. I even got a free chair massage and free juice!

The first workshop I attended was Positive Discipline Strategies for Parents. I try to apply positivity to every aspect of my life, but being positive with discipline is super hard for me. Why? Because I get tired and annoyed and it’s so difficult to be constructive in those moments! Almost every friend groaned when I told them I was going to this workshop. They said, “I know how to do this, but I just don’t do it!” Exactly…

I have to say, my discipline strategies have not improved overnight from this workshop but I have been able to apply some of the principles to my everyday. These are the things that stood out to me:

Only pay attention and praise the behavior that you want to see more of instead of focusing on the bad behavior. This makes sense and it does work but it’s still challenging for me! What did help me though, is that the presenter focused on effective praise being much simpler than we think it is. You don’t have to offer rewards or gifts. A simple “thank you”or “you did such a great job with that” is enough.

The workshop included much more but the biggest takeaway I got from it was about how to engage with your kids one on one. This is my struggle with three kids. They all want me and demand things from me and I sometimes end not giving anything to all of them because I am so busy fending them off while I try to help one etc.  Studies show that just ten minutes, alone with each child, doing an activity of their choice is the best way to spend quality time with them. This is not driving in the car or even reading to them. This is child directed time. Don’t interfere too much, don’t ask too many questions, only narrate what they are doing. Example, “you put all the blue blocks together and all the red ones over there.”

I started doing this each day and my kids love it. It’s given more structure to our evenings and helped with everyone’s expectations when they know their time is coming. With my youngest she wants to play mommies and daddies or Sylvanian bunnies. My middle one wants to play Go Fish or “Gold Fish” as she calls it. My oldest one usually wants to play a game of cards or a board game. The important thing is that they pick the activity and they lead the way.

Next I went to a workshop about the appropriate use sof technology for kids. I learned a lot here and this topic opens up a huge can of worms. The internet is big, guys, and we can limit their use of screens and devices and the content they access BUT it is so important to be involved with their education in technology. I also learned the hard way this year that I need to teach my children what to do if they come across something inappropriate or unsuitable for children. My instinct was just to shelter them completely and while I will NOT be giving my kids unlimited and uncontrolled access to devices or the internet, it is important to teach them how to use these things. Like everything else in life, it is so important that these lessons come from parents and that we just keep talking and communicating. They need to know they can come to us if they see something that makes them uncomfortable or curious.

Lastly, I want to tell you about the Smart Heart Board Game. My two oldest children came with me to play a life-size version of this at the workshop. They loved the game so much that I bought it from the creators. The game involves just enough competition to keep my oldest engaged and they actually like playing it together. The typical birth order issues do come out and there is some bickering but it all ends well! Even my three-year old can play, if I help her. We’ve only had the game two weeks and everyone has their own special game piece and we play everyday.  I love it because it encourages talking, sharing and empathy, all the things I try to teach, but it does it in a way that is not too obvious. I now follow LightHouse Arabia on instagram so I don’t miss anymore amazing community days. For more information see links below!