Sunday, 22 November 2015

Island Life

Cyprus: a small island on the outskirts of Europe that boasts a unique and privileged geographical location, a rich history and a deeply rooted culture, and the place I called home for three years. 
Cyprus as an island gave me a lot, not least a beautiful bronzed, year round glow thanks to the endless hours of sunshine and delicious Mediterranean weather on offer. But it also gave me a family and afforded me the sort of friendships that never die, even when you depart the confines of the island. 

It taught me about the history and conflict and intense background that has made it the place it is today. And it gave me knowledge; I learnt the language, the culture and the cooking. But for me one of the most interesting things about the island is it's rich history and I don't mean the rise and fall of Ayia Napa as the 20-somethings party destination of choice. And while I have heard first hand accounts of the conflict Cyprus was engulfed in, I never really understood the severity of it. 

So when I returned this summer for 2 weeks of Mediterranean sun and relaxation, I decided on a pretty relevant choice of reading. The Sunrise by Victoria Hislop tells the story of the Turkish invasion of the island in 1974 and aside from being a brilliantly written piece of literature, it makes the historical elements of the countries background, digestible. 

It's all to easy to forget the history of a place, a person or a relationship. I look at granny, sitting under the vine leaves in the shade, in the garden of her house that she moved into when she fled her home in 1974 and I never really understood the events that she had lived through. 

I take in every inch of the landscape from the light blue sky to the dusty terrain, the lush green mountains and the deep blue ocean. I make sure I appreciate every word of Greek spoken to me and I make a conscious effort to scour my brain for the correct pronunciation of the Greek words I still remember. I immerse myself in the culture around me and capture every expression of the people I miss on a daily basis.

Now I soak up every moment of my time on the island and think how lucky we are to enjoy it so carelessly. 

Friday, 9 October 2015

Total Silence

The total silence that has pervaded this page over the last six months is rather inexcusable. Life throws up some pretty interesting obstacles along the way and assigning time to a creative outlet, at a time when my brain is any but creative, felt almost rude.

A lack lustre blog post is no ones friend. 

I didn't start blogging with the thought of it becoming a full time job and to rack up millions of followers, nor did I start because I like shouting about all the "amazing" things that we do. I started it because I love words, I love conversation and anyone who has met me in the flesh, spent any considerable time with me or is a work colleague who unfortunately shares an office space with me, will politely or not so politely tell you that I am rarely silent. And on a side-note the things we do are rarely "amazing" because despite what people think, expat life isn't all cocktails and staycations. 

But nevertheless, sharing everyday moments, the rare "amazing" moments and everything in between, with family and friends far away is important. And the blog allows me to have those conversations, albeit one sided. 

Sometimes you need to take those conversations offline and pick and choose what you share with the rest of the online world. And honestly, sometimes it's sheer disorganisation and crazy that means blogging gets thrown on the back burner. 

A lot has happened since February; visitors have been and gone, friends have departed Dubai, we have packed, moved and unpacked in a new apartment, celebrated birthdays, escaped to our happy place of Cyprus, made new friends, changed jobs and adopted a healthier lifestyle. 

There's a lot to catch up on!

Monday, 2 February 2015

New Year Mantra for 2015

Instead of resolutions, which lets be honest I never stick to anyway, I'm going to adopt a mantra for 2015. And since it is now the 2nd February, this seems like a good time to share it. 

#1 - Guard your time
Since it is almost February and I am only just getting around to writing this, you could say I am guarding my time well. I think I got too caught up in time in 2014 and worried about how much or how little was dedicated to a particular activity. 

#2 - Let kindness rule 
Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in emotions, become bitter, resentful and angry but those negative emotions never lead to anything good. A little bit of kindness goes a long way. 

#3 - Create good habits
This one I am taking on board in many ways. I need to up my fitness game and actually commit to a proper exercise routine instead of the wishy washy attempt at exercise I have been engaged in until now. I need to fix my eating habits in line with this too. Some days are good, some days are bad and most days, a chocolate brownie are included in my diet. Note to self, must maintain self control. For me good habits extend further than this and lead back to guarding my time, I need to find a work life balance and utilise time for good habits like reading and writing. 

#4 - Choose to focus on the good
Because the bad has a way of overpowering everything but in reality that is because we let it; we pander to the bad and stress and worry and it all too quickly becomes an overinflated version of what it originally was. And lets face it, there is always a little piece of good to cling on to, no matter what situation you are faced with. 

#5 - Start each day with goals 
Manage your daily expectations and start with a few achievable goals which can be managed and met throughout the day, no matter what gets thrown your way. Simple things like going to the gym, making a home cooked dinner or reading a chapter of that book can be easily ticked off the list and you will feel a sense of accomplishment rather than emptiness come bedtime. This is one I really need to work on!

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Visiting Season

My first visitors have been and gone and with them I think they took a piece of me. 

It was the most glorious week showing three of my bestest friends around this chaotic and shiny city that I call home. And although I was working for a lot of the time, we soaked up the hours we had together and made some amazing memories along the way. 

Drifting down the marina and out into the ocean with these ladies was a pretty lovely way to spend a Thursday evening and reliving our university days, tearing up the dancefloor, allbeit in a slightly different setting that back in England, was just what I needed. 

We explored the mall, wowed at the Dubai fountains, stood in awe of the views Dubai has to offer, visited the Ripe Market, soaked up the sun and wandered round the Al Qasr hotel. I think it is safe to say the ladies enjoyed pretty much every minute of their short trip.

As much as I loved having them here, the problem with visitors is just that, they visit. And when they leave they take a little piece of you with them and all those feelings of home and thats when the stark light of expat life falls over you. It's those few moments post departure that hurt the most but it is the sacrifice we make as expats I guess. 

At least we have the memories. And the photographs.