January 30, 2013

The Real Abu Dhabi

So I received an email from a gentleman who is in the process of being interviewed for a job here in Abu Dhabi. He came across my blog and wanted me to answer some questions he had about living here.
It got me to thinking about my own questions and the questions asked by others when I was about to embark on my journey.
So for the sake of those who themselves are thinking about or actually moving here as well as for those curious minds, I will answer some burning questions about Abu Dhabi.

1. Abu Dhabi, where's that? Is it in Dubai or Africa?
I was actually asked this.
Abu Dhabi is located in the Middle East. It is one of 7 emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates. Dubai is one of those 7 emirates which also includes Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah, Sharjah, Ajman and Umm Al Qaiwain.
It is near to Africa but it isn't in Africa.

2. Can women drive in Abu Dhabi?
Yes and they do all the time. There are even women taxi drivers here.

3. Do they monitor your media?
I doubt it. I've seen 50 Shades of Grey and Why Men Marry Bitches prominently displayed on the shelves in bookstores. They play movies with kissing and songs with curses in the malls. If they don't have time to censure media that is being disseminated to thousands, you think they are gonna have time to check your emails?

4. Can I drink alcohol?
Yes. Hotel bars and restaurants serve alcohol as well as most clubs. With a license or on the sly you can purchase alcohol for the consumption in the privacy of your home.

5. Can I date?
I haven't been lucky in that department but yes lots of people date here. You just have to be respectful. No PDA. Save that for the bedroom or wherever else you like to get busy.

6. What can I wear?
This was my biggest area of regret. I was ill-prepared in the clothing department for my journey. You can wear what you like as long as you show respect for the culture in public. Cover your cheeks and lady parts when going out, well except to da clubs! Ladies, save the sexy for after dark.
Men you don't have to worry about this area of your life.

7. Do I have to cover my head or wear those long black dresses?
The answer is no. Again, you are free to exercise your sartorial rights here. You can be as stylish or frumpy as you like. No one cares.
Some schools may require you to wear one of those long black dresses but not many do. I choose to wear one because it makes life so much easier.
P.S those long black dresses are called abayas. Don't turn up your nose, they are quite comfy and can be super stylish.

8. Can I go to church?
Yes, despite popular beliefs and by popular I mean that one lady who called my mother on the phone in a frantic panic claiming that I was not going to be allowed to go to church and that you can't practice freedom of religion here. Not true.
You can pick choose and refuse churches here. In the city. I am not sure what it is like in the other emirates or further in the western region of Abu Dhabi where the expat population is very low. Here in the city there are churches to be found, people go to them. It's a beast trying to find parking on a Friday to go to church. Thousands of people are out going to practice their religion.

9. Can I find black lady hair products?
No. Being your own. I actually glimpsed a product called "Twisted Sistas" once but that was it and I never laid eyes on that stuff again. Bring loads of whatever your product choice is.

10. What's it like living in Abu Dhabi?
I personally love it here. So do the people I hang out with. Yes there are challenges, mainly work related but otherwise the lifestyle is great for most professional expats. Free housing, nice housing for the most part and no taxes. You can travel to just about anywhere and you can afford to live in away that is dang near impossible if your aren't an investment banker or high powered attorney in the States.
Some people don't like the culture, hey you're not in Kansas anymore Dorothy. You are in someone else's country, deal with it or go home.
I live my life and do what I enjoy, nobody bothers me and I don't bother nobody.

A whole lotta legs

I found this leg workout on Pinterest.
P.S.I'm completely obsessed with Pinterest. Does anyone have that problem or is it just me? say yes so I don't feel like a complete fool who spends hours pinning recipes, workouts and other random bits. I can't help myself.

Anyway, I don't feel like it's a complete waste of time since I have found tons of useful info. The workouts are my favorite and I've even found cool printouts for my inspiration board. Need to share that with you soon.

Back to the workout. Digress much?

I have yet to actually do this one since I've been running and doing the kettle bell workout which I came across on Pinterest as well. Gonna incorporate this for next week and see how it goes.

Try it out if you're interested.

I am Famous!

Ok, not quite but I still feel great.
A few months ago I was contacted by InterNations a worldwide organization that seeks to bring together members of the expat community. They host events and meet and greets all over the globe. They also provide tips and advice for moving. Fantastic resource for anyone wanting to become an expat.
Anyway, they contacted me to have my blog featured on their site to give people insight into my move and life in Abu Dhabi.
Exciting stuff ehh?
Here is the link . Check it out.
 If you are already an expat and interested in meeting new people, definitely give InterNations a try. They have good things going on. 

January 22, 2013

Weighing In

Last week I managed to only lose 1 lb. I was disappointed since I had lost 3 the week before.
Oh well progress is progress right?

I am running ya'll. I am doing the couch to 5k program. It's awesome and I can feel myself improving already.
I even went running outside twice.
There is a lovely beach strip called the Corniche where my friend and I went running. It's beautiful and the weather cool. It's the perfect backdrop for running.
By the way runner's high is real. Me likey.
Oh and I am working on being more creative in the kitchen.
Trying different recipes, sauces and foods.
Peep my dinner tonight.
I bought a ton of strawberries and needed to use them up. I threw together a salad with spinach, fat free feta cheese, grape tomatoes, onions and strawberries of course.
I made a dressing with orange juice, canola oil,balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.
It was so yummy... served it with spinach quiche I had made.
Good stuff.
Hopefully this week I will lose 2 lbs. My short term goal is to lose 15 by birthday (March 25).


January 20, 2013


I bought myself a kettlebell last weekend.
 I really had no clue how to use it. I took a class once, a long time ago but I think I blocked out the experience since it was pure torture. The only reason I didn't blackout completely during the class was because the trainer was hot and I didn't want to look like more of a fool than I already did. I digress. 
Fast forward to the present. 
So I have this kettlebell and I need to use it. I need a routine that will be manageable and still get the results I want. I head over to my favorite place, pinterest to the health and fitness and do a search. I got a few pins that seemed great but one in particular really stood out. I checked out the source and its a blog named Pumps and Iron. 
I found a kettlebell workout called the 20 20 20. It kicked by butt and I felt it the next day. It was totally worth it though cause I know I got a good workout.
The blogger, Nicole  has tons of other workouts you can do at home and without a lot of equipment. She also has some great recipes on the site as well. 
It will be worth your time to check it out. 
Have a successful workout week. 

January 19, 2013

Just a Feeling

Have you ever had those days, when despite everything that is going well in your life you can only focus on the one area in which you feel unfulfilled? A feeling of dread that you just can't shake?

Well, I feel like I have been having that feeling for almost a month.
Lately I just can't seem to get this feeling of despondency out of my head, heart, being.
What could I possibly be feeling despondent about? This is what I keep asking myself every day.
My dream came true and for the most part I am living the life that I prayed to God for.

I have friends and a job I enjoy. I am healthy and trying to live a physically active lifestyle.
However, I am not totally satisfied.
Truth is I know what's wrong with me but just refuse to say IT out loud or admit IT. That would be admitting that IT is a big deal and I am worried. I hate feeling vulnerable and silly and by verbally acknowledging what is bothering me would make me vulnerable or in my head it would. Ridiculous I know.

I have to keep reminding myself daily of all the good God has in store for me and all that he has blessed me with.
That means reading my bible, praying and just seeking out words of encouragement and inspiration.
I know that whatever I am going through is not permanent and that my victory is on the way.

If you are feeling like me, just remember that better days are ahead and that you have a breakthrough on the way. You may not feel comfortable to talk to anyone else about the problem you are facing but know you can always turn to God to help you.
Hahaha, I'm done- not trying to preach to you. Just encouraging you and myself.

January 12, 2013

Week in Review

Hi friends, school is back in session.
I had a great first week back and it went by rather quickly. Yay!!
The kiddies were for the most part very well behaved and remembered most of the material covered last term. I was pleasantly surprised by this.

Part of the weekend was spent in Dubai with my ladies, which is always a blast. I had a lovely night dancing my cares away in a Cuban club at the Dubai Marina. Awesome times.

Did really well with my goals. 
I tracked my points pretty consistently this week and over the weekend despite indulging in Texas Roadhouse goodness in Dubai.
Put in 5 days of workouts even when I didn't feel like going.
I read somewhere that if you make yourself go to the gym for 15 minutes, you end up staying longer. It is so true! I didn't want to go but went anyway.
Once I got on the elliptical and made myself do the first 15 minutes,I just kept going.

My lovely friend Jen suggested we sign up for a 3k run in Dubai next month. Now, I am no runner. I have tried but I think I have a heavy foot and it isn't so great for running. Lol
I always feel so self-conscious on the treadmill cause I swear everyone can hear my foot banging away as I run. Hmmm....maybe it's in my head.
However, I am going to challenge myself and go for it. We are going to train together by going to the park to run a couple times in the week.
It will be an awesome accomplishment to complete the run.

Oh here are a few things I picked up to keep motivated. New tennis shoes in my favorite color and a kettlebell for weight training. Winning!

Have a wonderful week!

January 10, 2013

Almost Kiss

In the arab culture, it is customary to greet each other by shaking hands and kissing on the cheek. 
Well, not really "kissing", more like cheek brushing. 
Here is the tricky part though, there is no right way to do it, no rules to follow. A major challenge to someone not quite familiar with the practice. 
Some women kiss twice, some three times and some four. You can get a kiss on each cheek, two on one cheek, and a whole myriad of combination. If you are a math head, think about the different combinations of kisses and knock yourself out. 

As the westerner I let the Arabic person take the lead. 
Here lies the dilemma since each person does their own thing depending on their mood, or feelings toward you or whatever other conditions apply.

Picture this scenario.. 
I returned to work after Christmas break. I am greeted in one of the many ways by all the Arabic staff. Everyone does it differently, my poor brain is confused by the end of all this. Just when I thought I had it down, someone changes things up and there I was again fumbling to make cheek contact not sure which way to go with my head. 
Ok so this one teacher comes over and we get through the first cheek, then the second. I think she is gonna go back to my first cheek (try to keep up) so I turn my head, big mistake....we practically end up locking lips because she wants to repeat a cheek. I had NO clue of course so there was no way to prepare myself to make the right move. AWKWARD. 
How is it I ended up feeling like a fool even though I can't read minds? 

January 5, 2013

Sharing my Loss

So remember my post  on goals for the year? Well I said I wouldn't bore you with the details but I've changed my mind.

I recently came across this blog, The Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans and they are currently having a weight loss challenge. Since one of my goals is to lose weight, I figured why not join up with like minded folks. 

My weight has been a big point of frustration and obsession for me for years. I have lost and regained weight and am constantly battling the proverbial bulge.
I know what to do to lose the weight but my lack of focus, commitment (to exercise) issues coupled with a serious love for all foods rich have seriously impeded my efforts to attain the body of my dreams.

Since moving to Abu Dhabi I can't use the "no time or money for gym" excuses anymore. I get home from work with enough time to have a second career and I have not only a gym but a pool in my building. I really have NO valid excuse to not become fit and fab.

I also got a wake up call when I stepped on the scale and saw that I am at my heaviest weight since freshman year of college. I am in the obese range for my height and age. Things cannot continue this way.
This year I turn thirty and I don't want to head into my thirties with this baggage of an unhealthy lifestyle.
So here is my goal for the next 8 weeks. It is much easier to break down a big goal into smaller goals, that way it is more attainable and the chances of succeeding increase. I am listing my action plan because you can't have a goal without knowing how you will go about getting it done.
Oh and I am writing it on that lovely template I linked in the previous post, and sticking it to my inspiration board along with some inspirational words and photos as a visual reminder of what I am working towards.

Goal: I will lose 10 pounds in 8 weeks.

  • Track my points daily on Weight Watchers.com
  • Gym 4x a week
  • Drink 8 glasses of water daily
  • Eat 6-7 servings of fruits and veggies daily
If you want to participate, head over to the Sisterhood and follow along with the challenge. I will try to keep you posted weekly about my progress. 


January 3, 2013

Just A Day

Unfortunately, my vacation is coming to an end...sad times.

I wanted to get out today and do something. Anything that did not involve a mall.
Luckily my friend Kalli felt the same way so I had  company.
I figured a trip to Heritage Village was the ultimate way to spend our day.

Heritage Village is Abu Dhabi's version of a museum. It's really cool, you get a glimpse into the country's history. You get a chance to see the houses the people lived in as well as some of the everyday items they used including weapons and pottery.

It was a good day followed up by a trip to Ikea in search of a picture frame for a tapestry I found at Heritage Village.

I was so happy to just get out and enjoy the beautiful weather.

Enjoy a few pictures I took at the village. If you are ever in town, stop by and check it out. It is totally worth it.

January 2, 2013

What I Want In This Life


So like many of you, once the new year rolls in I think about what I want to accomplish. It's a great opportunity to make changes in my life and start over. Pretty exciting actually- that feeling of having a new beginning, a fresh start.