I cannot believe that it has almost been 1 year to the date that I last blogged. This past year has been filled with ups and downs, mostly ups and as I have slipped into other social media platforms as a low-key beauty influencer, I have neglected my page. However, we always come home. And sometimes we move.
Since it is official now, I can finally make the announcement public that after 6 years in Qatar, I resigned. This will be my final school year here in this country. My intent was never to stay here forever nor was it my intent to stay for 6 years but here I am.
I have chosen to leave because my conscious has strongly suggested I do. My inner voice has been telling me for some time that it is time to move on and listening to it, thus far in my life, has proven fruitful. I listened to it when it told me to go back to school. I listened to it when it told me to leave my previous job in Philadelphia. I listened to it when it gave me the confidence to move to an Arabic country, despite “neigh-sayers”. And I will listen to it now.
It has been an amazing 6 years of self-growth, exploring, learning, partying, traveling, teaching and so much more. Just to clarify, leaving is a choice just as coming was. Coming here was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my entire life. I have made friends that will be a part of my life forever. I have had experiences that no one else in my Philly circle or family have. I will not go into details about all the things I have done here, you can read my past and future posts for that. But I would advise anyone reading this, contemplating moving overseas to a foreign country, to “DO IT!”.
Where am I off to next? Well, that’s a good question. Let’s just say, I am not a tree. I don’t have roots and my branches sway in the direction of the wind and it’s pretty windy out right now!
Thank you for following my adventures in Qatar. It is time to move on to the next chapter. Am I nervous about this next chapter? YES! Will it stop me? HELL NAH!
(And for my husband’s stalker-ass ex-wife (Mt. Edna, and yes Mt. is short for mountain), who is reading this and digging for fuel, I hope you enjoy living vicariously through me and I hope my glamorous life gives you sleepless nights. I see you and your pathetic.)
Al Messila is a beautiful resort but could definitely improve.
It is winter break over here in Doha for teachers and children and in light of Covid-19, I’m sure it does not come as a surprise that I opted out of traveling. I did, however, choose to do a short staycation to see different walls than the ones in my flat. My friend Jennifer and I decided to book a room at Al Messila Resort.
Al Messila is located in the Al Rayyan area of Doha. It’s nestled right off Doha expressway and across the street from the U.S. Embassy. We got a great rate as Qatar Foundation employees and I had heard good things about the resort. Jenn and I were really looking forward to some rest and relaxation.
Although the front desk consists of a few podium desks behind plexi/glass shields, the lobby is beautiful. The high ceiling is grand and the chandeliers majestic. There are several areas to sit surrounded by gold and beige decor. Your bags are checked by security and your temperature and etheraz apps are checked upon entry.
Although we requested two beds, the confirmation did say 1 King (which I should have checked prior) and changing to 2 beds would include at least an hour wait. We didn’t feel like adding an additional hour to our already rather late check in time of 4pm. Since we have traveled together before and are pretty good friends, we decided to share the bed.
We stayed in a deluxe room which was very spacious. I really appreciated the 6 piece bathroom including a separate shower and tub behind the same glass door within the bathroom, the rain shower head and double vanity. The room had a rather long hallway from the door to the bedroom, a wall mounted television, coffee maker, mugs, tea, King bed with 4 rather flat pillows, a table, 2 chairs and a chaise. Our room had a balcony facing the front of the hotel and highway. Next time, I’ll be sure to request a different view. The room was very clean with the exception of a nectarine which was under a chair on our balcony, upon check-in, and remained there throughout the duration of our stay. There were stains on our carpet and the bed was not very comfortable. In fact, my side felt very slept on and I had to move closer to the center of the bed to feel like I wasn’t sleeping on a slope. The Wifi was free though and it worked well. I am awarding the room 3 stars, for the great wifi, space, and wonderful bathroom; unfortunately, 2 stars were sacrificed due the bed, carpet stains and forgotten nectarine.
The hotel grounds are beautiful, with lots of greenery and a large pool. There is a pool bar as well and all of the bartenders and pool staff are nice. Happy hour starts late around 7pm. The cigar lounge was clean and Daniel makes very good drinks. The star of the resort, though, is the Spa. As a hotel guest we were able to enjoy the spa amenities free of charge. You can even catch a golf cart over to the spa. If you are not a guest of the hotel, you can still access the spa for 15o QR. Jennifer and I spent about 2 hours at the spa going from room to room. We took part in the hydrotherapy pools, sauna, steam rooms, relaxation beds and rooms and even pole dancing and trampoline jumping in a pool. During our spa visit, we only saw 3 other guest, so we basically had it to ourselves. You can pay for other services as well, like facials and massages. I really wanted to experience a Turkish Hamam but due to covid, those weren’t on offer. Al Messila gets 4 stars for amenities. The only reason I deducted a star is because of the lack of dining options which unfortunately hits this resort in 2 areas. Let’s talk food and service.
Let’s get right to the point, in this large beautiful hotel, why is there only 1 restaurant? Firstly, breakfast was not included (*correction, breakfast was included, we were not charged) but the buffet is very reasonably priced at only 38 QR and even though breakfast is buffet style, you can not go up and get your own food, precautions put into place due to Covid. This is fine, however, no one informed us about this even after we were sat at a table and left alone for some time. Eventually we called someone over and they explained that everything would be bought over to our table. They were informed about my vegan and Jennifer’s vegetarian diet prior. It took a while to receive our food but I was able to ask for specifics like potato wedges and sauteed veggies. A menu of what’s available would have been helpful, saved time and cut down on waste. Nevertheless we walked away full and satisfied. For lunch we ate outdoors. The chef prepared some vegetable dumplings and french fries for me. The dumplings and several sauces were tasty. That was on our first full day. But the second day was a disaster. We made breakfast reservations for between 9:30-10 and arrived around 9:45. We were told to wait in the lobby as there was already a queue of people waiting. No one took our names down or gave us a number to be called. We waited about 30 minutes before Jennifer said something to the host and we were finally seated. The host seemed to have no idea about our reservation. The restaurant was getting hammered hard and it showed. We requested to just order specific items from the buffet so that everything did not have to be bought over. I ordered simple potatoes and grilled mushrooms and tomatoes, Jennifer ordered avocado toast, and eggs benedict but forgot to tell them no meat, and they obviously forgot our dietary restrictions. They bought over eggs benedict on turkey and a side of meat. She re-ordered and I waited, and waited and waited. Then her fixed order came minus the toast, and I waited and waited. Then she finished and I still sat waiting. We pulled over someone who appeared to be a manager and told him the problem, that we were leaving and I was not paying, as I didn’t eat anything other than a piece of fruit. By this time, I am very upset. He apologized and insisted bringing over the food anyway. A few minutes later, he bought over a plate of mushrooms, sliced avocado and pre-packaged hash browns. The sight of this plate made me angry. It was not what I had ordered. It was not avocado toast. It was not cooked potatoes and the mushrooms were cold. By this time I am furious with the service and I didn’t hesitate in letting the hostess know. There were many complaining guest that day. The service and the food was awful. Knowing that it is winter break, people are not traveling outside of Doha like they used to, due to Covid, this hotel restaurant should have been better prepared. I left out of that restaurant very HANGRY and ready to leave the hotel altogether. I am awarding the restaurant/food and service, 2 stars due to everything mentioned. When I travel, food is high on my priority list especially because of the way I eat. If the food is not right, I usually don’t return.
Things worth mentioning: On our check in day, we received fruit and truffles delivered to our room. This was a nice touch. Later that evening, tea was also delivered. Unfortunately for every good thing, something not so good happened. For instance, after we enjoyed in-room dining on the first night, we called for the tray and dishes to be collected but no one ever came to get them and the room started to smell. On day 2, we saw housekeeping in the hall when we left our room but they never cleaned our room. We had to call down to have our room serviced.
Final thoughts and message to the manager of the Al Messila: This review is based on my experience alone. Everything is true. I travel a lot and write many reviews. Al Messila is a beautiful resort but could definitely improve.
Provide a menu for the breakfast buffet so that people can make choices
Have a vegan menu available. The world is changing; more and more people are going green
Prepare for busier seasons with more experienced staff and write down reservations
Don’t bring people cold food- ever, unless it is supposed to be cold and make sure that everyone at the table gets their food
Keep customers informed. A customer should not have to call downstairs to find out why their room was not serviced
Ensure that room service collects in-room dining dishes or at least checks with the guest within an hour
Remove the nectarine off the balcony of room 3012 and get rid of the carpet stains
Move up the check-in time. Half the day is gone at 4pm and with a noon check-out time that isn’t even a 24 hour stay.
Al Messila receives 3 stars from me- Beautiful but below basic in food and service.
***Update: After contacting the hotel manager, Mr. Mallah, he arranged for me to return to try out Al Mesilla restaurant again. There were some major changes made and the brunch is very good. They had a whole section dedicated to just vegans. And it made me wonder, if that will always be there or was that just for me. The service was much, much better. The drinks were good too and so was the food. After this new visit and changes, I may be inclined to stay there again. I appreciate that the manager invited me back to have a better experience. I kind of wish he had covered a night’s stay along with the restaurant visit.
If you get a snore out of your mate, you’ve succeeded.
With being quarantined and all, one of the things I miss is going to the spa. Once a month I would go for a massage and roughly every two months, I would go for the full treatment of a facial, body scrub and massage, so I decided to plan a Spa day at home. The first idea was for Darryl and I to have it on the same day but then who would pamper who and who would relax.
Then, I decided to split our days. He would have his spa day first so that I could set the example of how it should look. He is really good at following directions and taking it to the next level.
There are a few things you may need to purchase but most things you probably have at home. Here’s what you’ll need: waffle robes, cozy pajamas for afterwards, comfy slippers, several towels, infused socks, pumice stone, candles, essential oils (ex: lemongrass, lavender, eucalyptus), downloaded zen playlist, lemons, fresh mint leaves, water, snacks (ex: stuffed dates, apricots, chocolate covered strawberries), tea (they always offer ginger tea at my spa and I love it), routine facial products (cleanser/scrub, toner, cream, serums, moisturizer), cucumbers, massage oil, massage stone, bath bomb, bubbles, and rose petals. Don’t forget a body brush.
I found some exfoliating foot socks which I had never tried before but they work really well. I also purchased a Neutrogena face mask from the grocery store. They were inexpensive and smelled wonderful. I found a Zen playlist on Spotify and used that instead of youtube because youtube has gotten ridiculous with the amount of ads and commercials they play. Commercials would have killed the mood. We used the mint leaves and lemons for infused water. I recommend the bath bombs from Lush. The grocery store sold me two roses and chopped off the stems for me to use the petals. When Darryl went to the store for my spa day, they had rose petals in a bag already and were cheaper than buying the actual roses. So ask the store if they have a bag of rose petals you can purchase. I made my own lip scrub from coconut oil, sugar and honey, my own body scrub using coconut oil, ground coffee, sugar and cinnamon and my own foot scrub using epson salt, coconut oil and peppermint oil.
Clean a room and set the mood. We used our guest bedroom and bathroom and put everything personal away. Ambiance is not complete without the right lighting and candles do the trick. Prepare all the material ahead of time so that everything runs smoothly. Researching how to massage your mate is crucial. This is where Youtube and Pinterest help. Light the candles all around the rooms and place the rose petals everywhere including in the bath tub. Draw a warm bath. Use an oil burner for aromatherapy. Lemongrass will have the room smelling like a real spa. Make your treats ahead of time including the snacks, infused water, and tea. Set up all the products that you will be using. Boil some water in a large pot for a face steam. After the water is boiling, turn it off and add a few drops of essential oils like eucalyptus and lavender. Heat up your massage oil and stone. Have a rolled up towel to place under your guest head or a travel pillow will also work. Have a chair for you to sit on or a pillow to kneel on depending on the height of the bed. Dress in soft, sexy material so that it feels good brushing up against your mate and you’re home so why not dress sexy. Set a time for your guest, adjust the room temperature. Turn on the music and when ready invite your guest in to the oasis.
As mentioned before, it is best to have the spa days on a different day so that each person has a day to actually relax and be pampered by the other. Darryl out-did me with the ambiance as he created a creature out of towels.
Begin with a dry brush to brush away dead skin and get the blood flowing. Have your mate lay on the bed and start dry brushing them from the feet up towards the heart, when you get to the neck and shoulders brush down towards the heart. Have him/her drink a glass of room temperature water.
After they’ve been thoroughly brushed, take them into the bathroom and sit them down. Cleanse and exfoliate their face and lips. Use a soft bristle tooth brush to scrub the lips. Then have them lean over the hot pot of water and oil with a towel draped over their head for a 5-10 minute face steam. Don’t have the candles too close to the steam pot, or you might burn the towel. (learn from my mistake)
Following the steam bath, have them get into the bath tub. Apply the face mask and cucumber and allow them time to relax and unwind. Check on them after 10 minutes and offer some water. Tell them to remove the cucumbers, mask and wash themselves and to inform you when they are ready for their scrub.
Now it is time for you to use your diy body scrub and scrub that body from head to toe, using your hands, a loofah or scrub gloves. Use the foot scrub and a pumice stone to scrub the feet. Have them rinse off with the shower head and wrap their body in a towel. Air drying is best.
Bring them back into the bedroom, offer water and snacks. Then have them lay down on their stomach on the bed. If they appear a little cold cover them with a weighted towel or blanket. Put the exfoliating socks on your mate if you have them. Then gently touch all over their body to get them ready. Begin the massage from the shoulders down, with warm oil, kneading over every body muscle. When you’re done, have them turn over and place a mask over their eyes or a warm cloth and massage all over on this side. Remove the socks and massage the feet too. End with a scalp and moisturizing face massage. Don’t forget the hands. A hand massage feels so, so good. When they are ready, they may dress themselves in the pj’s and/or robe and enjoy a hot glass of ginger tea. They should sleep really good tonight.
If you get a snore out of your mate, you’ve succeeded. It will be a day you both will cherish and you might even add SPA DAY at HOME into a yearly or even monthly routine.
*Disclaimer- this post is long but what else do you have to do
The beginning of quarantine started on Tuesday, March 10. It was the first day that students were told to stay home but we teachers still had to go to the school for work to prepare for what would come next, distance learning. It was also on this day that we were highly encouraged not to travel for spring break (due to the risk of illness and getting stuck outside of the country) and to apply for a Hamad card (a social security initiative for heavily subsidized healthcare in government-run medical institutions including pharmacies, basically welfare) because apparently our regular medical does not cover illnesses associated with pandemics. On Wednesday, I spent the day obtaining my Hamad card. Usually getting things like this done in Qatar takes time and patience. In my experience depending on where you go to get your Hamad card, requirements will be a tad bit different. However here is the list of things you will need: a passport picture blue background, 100 QAR on a credit card, copies of RP, proof of address (this will vary)- utility bill, or attested copy of lease with Kahrama letter (you can get this from your leasing office). You must go to the Primary Health Care Center nearest to where you live. You are given your card on the spot. If you need to renew your card this can be done online. — information retrieved from https://www.qatarday.com/blog/health/why-should-you-get-a-health-card-in-qatar/29120.
Thursday was our last day in the physical school. With the daily constant rise in cases of people infected with Covid-19, the quarantine rules have gotten pretty strict. Everything is closed now with the exception of the supermarkets, pharmacies and take out and we are encouraged to stay in doors. Social distancing is enforced here with threats of prosecution. I’m thinking we will be quarantined for at least 30 days.
Day 1- Spring break has just officially ended and we are still in quarantine. And although, technically it is not day one, it is the first official day of distance working. I want to keep busy or at least productive. Last week was spring break so I wasn’t as focused on being productive. But now since I have been blessed with all this extra free time, I don’t want to look back when this is over and feel like I wasted it and gained 10 pounds in the process.
Today Darryl and I started a 30 day workout consisting of daily push ups, squats, sit ups and lunges that increase in quantity per day. In addition we rotate abs, tabata, upper body, legs and yoga workouts daily. Today was abs. I read 20+ pages of my Abundance Now- by Lisa Nichols book. The plan is to finish the book by Tuesday, so I can start my new book on How to Publish a Children’s book. I worked on setting up my budget app- My Wallet and we took a virtual tour to the Grand Canyon and Hawaii’s national Volcano park. I’ve discovered that virtual tours can be useful when planning trips. You can document exact points of interest like the best locations for panoramic views and the best hiking trails for the scenery you’re most interested in seeing. Darryl cooked an asian spread consisting of sushi, udon noodles and fried rice with vegetables. Next is…
Day 2- I didn’t sleep very well last night. I think the extent that I have been following this Coronavirus is beginning to give me anxiety. The constant obsessing over it has began to weigh on me. For the past 2 days, I have been feeling some discomfort in my throat, like my uvula is swollen and is sitting too far in my throat. I’ve read that one of the symptoms of the virus is throat discomfort and soreness. However, I don’t have a cough or fever and I haven’t been around anyone who has traveled or who is sick. Last Monday, a group of us (11), had a small social gathering at a friends house but none of us had recently traveled. Outside of that, we saw our 2 close friends twice and they are fine. I’ve only been out of the house for an hour walk with Jenn and I wore a face mask the entire time and went with Darryl to the supermarket once with a face mask on. I made sure to avoid touching my face and wash and sanitize my hands. Other than this, I have been in the house and away from people. I hope it’s nothing, but I think I’m freaking myself out. In the meantime, I’ve heard drinking hot liquids helps and I’ve been taking Vitamin C, Echinacea and Golden Seal daily. I wonder if anyone else is experiencing these anxieties.
After spending some time on the phone speaking with my sisters about my feelings, I’m feeling better. Some people may be ashamed for how they feel or embarrassed but let me tell you, expressing your feelings to someone who cares about you and won’t judge does wonders. And I’m pretty sure others are feeling the same.
After picking myself back up, I was able to take a good nap. At 12, it was exercise time again. Today consisted of my regular workout and Tabata. I cooked Bok Choy for the first time and made some black beans in an adobe sauce. I made my first foot scrub today consisting of epson salt, coconut oil, Vit E and peppermint oil. The rest of the day included reading, more de-cluttering, making phone calls and getting clarity on my insurance policies as well as mortgage and student loan interest rates. Keeping busy.
Day 3-Last night I took 2 tylenol Pm and slept like a baby. I finished my book and finished de-cluttering. I made my first lip scrub, did my regular workout and upper body strength training.
Days 4 was spent much like the others, workouts, future trip planning and creating budget plans.
Day 5 started with a work related conference call and additional planning of lessons because distance learning will continue longer than originally anticipated. Of course we worked out and then I tackled my inbox, thousands of emails reduced to less than 200 in all 3 of my accounts. It took me over 2 hours to clean my emails. They need to invent a better way to clean up mailboxes or I just need to get better with clutter.
I began my new book “The Business of Writing for Children” to prepare for my next venture of getting a children’s book written and published. Darryl and I took a virtual trip to the catacombs and the Louvre in Paris since Zamir and I didn’t get to go into either site when we visited Paris 3 years ago.
Day 6- organizing pictures and working out.
Day 7- Today was scary, I had to go to the clinic. I was experiencing pressure in my neck area and stinging pain in my chest. I got an EKG which was in the normal range. No temperature, no swelling or redness of the throat, nothing in the lungs, diagnosis: early onset viral infection possibly connected to allergies. I received some meds and was told to return in 3 weeks for a repeat EKG and follow up. Oh boy, what’s happening to me.
Day 8- I felt a little better today, but stayed in bed anyway. I’m 2 days behind on my exercise and I’m not happy about that. I ordered some herbs from Swanson and toiletries from Amazon since it doesn’t look like I’ll be getting back to the U.S. anytime soon to refill. I completed some distance learning assignments for my students that receive learning support from me and spent the rest of the day reading, watching t.v., playing some brain trainer games, and relaxing. I really wish this Pandemic would go away. The U.S. is getting hit hard right now and in my opinion the government is not doing enough to protect its people. Money is their first priority and that’s a shame. I’m worried about my family back home. I’m worried about my own health. I feel stressed.
I took a nice, long, hot bath that melted my stress away and helped me have a peaceful night of rest.
Day 9- started with a business conference call about virtual admission testing for next school year and how to set these up. Not wanting to fall further behind on my 30 day work out plan, I jumped back in today. I adjusted my finances around and made up a budget plan for a future trip to Jordan. I’ve decided to stay in my apartment complex next year, so for the first time in 4 years, I won’t be moving to a different complex. However I will be downsizing to a smaller apartment. Darryl and I played our new Guitar Hero game that we ordered. I compared term, universal and whole life insurance policies and made a decision about which would be best for me. The day concluded with creating a draft Will.
Day 10- was a lazy day, spent mostly in front of Amazon Prime but also included working out and reading.
Day 11- I had to prepare more work today for another week of distance learning as well as attend another conference call about virtual admissions testing. I finished my book on The Business of Writing Children’s books and am ready to start my first manuscript. My friends and I played a game of Virtual Trivia tonight. It was fun to kick back, drink and enjoy other peoples company. Shout out to my girl Alyssa for putting it together.
Day 12- Today was the first day I have been out in weeks with the exception of the doctor’s visit. I just felt the need to leave these four corners if only for a little while. Darryl and I took a 3 mile walk around the outskirts of our apartments. It was warm out and welcoming.
Days 13-15- I spend some time talking to my mom and sister over the phone. My sister has lost her job amid this pandemic and the world is a very scary place right now. A few facebook friends of mine back in America have the virus and are recovering. We always crave more time to do whatever and then we get it, it’s difficult to do whatever because the time is spent worrying. For some reason, I can’t find it in me to begin my manuscript. I haven’t worked out in a few days but I’m resting though and resting is good right?
Day 16- Darryl woke up with a fever today. I’m worried. We haven’t traveled or been around anyone who has the virus but he has been to the grocery stores. Is it possible he has caught it somehow, no, I can’t think this way. He doesn’t have any other symptoms. He spoke to a doctor and they prescribed him a decongestant, the same one I just finished, Cirrus. Prayerfully, it’s just sinuses and not corona. I think our bodies are reacting toward stress. This is why I have limited myself to the amount of reading and accessing info on the virus. It was beginning to take its toll on my health and I think it is the same with him now.
I have a few virtual meetings to for work and I am grateful to still have my job .
Day 17&18- Keeping busy helps me stay positive. Darryl is beginning to feel better. We started the Star Wars trilogy in chronological order. He loves Star Wars. I think it is okay but watching it in order is helping me to better understand the story. We are also trying to learn some line dances, starting with Old Town Road. We got my sister in on it as well.
Youtube is like my new best friend. I’ve been researching some face care routines but honestly, my facial skin is one of my pride and joys. I very rarely have break outs unless my body is fighting a virus or something and my skin is always clear and smooth. I may add in a treatment once a week and sunscreen into my daily regiment. But that is about it. I’ve also looked into calligraphy and how to make home-made candles.
We started working out again and yesterday I even attended a religious meeting online. I went to the supermarket in Darryl’s place because I really don’t want him outside right now. I haven’t shopped alone in a long time. Actually being outside gave me a sense of normalcy again even it if was anything but normal with getting my temperature taken before entering the store, wearing gloves and mask and standing outside to keep social distance. I picked up a delivery from Aramex including my life size Jenga. The cost of delivery was 3 times the price of the game, which was already expensive, and it is heavy but if I have to be home, minds well have some fun.
I applied to refinance my house back home today; hopefully I will hear good news within a few days. I know I will be approved because my credit is stellar right now. I really just want to lower my interest rate before I start paying it off. I’ve also found some podcast to start listening to. One that I find particularly interesting is called, Stuff They Don’t Want you to Know. I listen to it on Spotify. I started brushing up on my Arabic too using the Duolingo app. I should have never stopped my Arabic classes. I suck now.
Day 19-26- I told you this post was long but keep reading.
I’ve actually been busy with work lately. I completed some admission testing for next school year and that has been taking up much of my mornings, followed by working out. Other than that, I’ve just been relaxing and enjoying this time at home. I have good days and blah days but I’m learning to simply appreciate this time. I love hearing the birds sing in the morning, which I didn’t pay much attention to before. I love not being on a schedule or routine. Some days are productive and some aren’t and I don’t feel bad about those unproductive days either. I don’t have to be productive right now, I just need to survive and appreciate each day I have here on this Earth.
Day 28 I think. It has almost been 30 days and my days and nights are starting to run into each other. I’m enjoying the fact that outside of the occasional virtual meeting, posting of assignments and testing, my days are pretty much unscheduled and a free for all. I pretty much do as I feel. I try to do some form of exercise every day if I feel up to it but if I don’t feel like getting out of bed, I don’t. Yesterday, Darryl and I did our 30 day workout routine, a yoga session and our line dancing. I don’t have a set in stone routine and I’m fine with that; this may be the first time in my adult life that I don’t.
Ramada is a week away and we have just been informed that we won’t be packing up our rooms for the first time in my teaching career. This is unheard of for teachers. There are only 5 weeks left in this school year. This has been thee shortest and whackiest school year ever.
One of the big things I have learned from this quarantine is that money should be spent on making your house as homely and comfortable as possible. I wish I had my own outdoor space right now and a private pool would be nice but I am thankful for the complex that I am in since I can take a nice long walk without treading thru sand and dirt. I am blessed to live with a compatible partner who doesn’t get on my nerves and who I love and who loves me dearly.
As of today, I won’t be taking any trips anytime soon. So for now, I will continue to enjoy this new way of living, filled with rest, relaxation, practice and make-up tutorials on youtube and IG, learning Arabic on Duolingo, keeping my brain fresh with Peak Brain Games, online classes, t.v. watching, working out, self care, etc… The funny thing is, if quarantine ends within the next month, I will still have 3 months of summer vacation left.
Day 29- Today I completed an online photography class through Nikon. It was very informative. A 45 minute class took me almost 3 hours between experimenting with my camera and taking notes. Here I am practicing with the exposure, taking pictures with various IOS, shutter and aperture.
Today was a friends birthday so I set up a Zoom call with a few friends so we could sing happy birthday to him and enjoy a shot together. It was my first time attending a virtual birthday party and there was zero clean up. My type of party.
Tomorrow marks the 30th day of quarantine and the Covid-19 cases in Qatar continue to rise. I hope the country has reached its peak and an end is in sight.
Day 30 Today is day 30 of quarantine and social distancing and the last day for this long ass post. I think today is day 30, maybe more. All sense of date and time has disappeared for me. Either way, I am quite proud of how I have handled these last 30 days and of course there is room for improvement.
Darryl and I completed 18 days of our 30 day challenge which equals 60% and accomplished an accumulated number of 162 push ups, 1285 squats, 705 sit ups, and 422 lunges per leg.
However this percent does not include the days I walked 3+ miles or other work out routines we did. We will complete the 30 day workout plan and then switch to a new one on May 1, since I see no end to this quarantine within the next 30 days. The plan is to increase our percentage to 80% for May.
Approximately 90% of our days were spent doing something productive. I learned a new line dance, new makeup techniques, and skin care routines, learned how to use my Canan Rebel, finished two books, worked, decluttered, budgeted, took some virtual trips, organized photos and emails, wrote a will, practiced Arabic, spent more than I wanted to and even cooked a little. But I didn’t write my book. So now this goal gets pushed to May.
More importantly than all of these things is, I spoke to my loved ones back home more than I have in my last 3.5 years abroad with weekly scheduled regular and facetime calls. My husband and I spent a lot of quality time together. I obeyed the social distancing laws and stayed healthy and safe. Outside of a few tough days, I tried my best to remain positive emotionally and mentally.
Here’s to Survival, Love and God!
How have you all been holding up and occupying your time?
So now I’m 40 and it doesn’t make sense to blame my life on my parents, but it does make sense to re-invent myself and teach my children what I wish my parents had taught me.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my future and my past. I’m Forty-Years old, gosh, typing that makes it feel too real. When you are young, you don’t think about when you’ll be 40. But now that I am, there are some things that I wished my parents would have told me that maybe could have put me in a different situation. Maybe I would have listened, possibly not. When you are young, you think you know everything and most young people live for the day. That mentality has its pros and cons.
My father, God rest his soul, was a drunk for as long as I can remember. He and my mother separated when I was still a toddler. I visited him often and on occasion he gave me money as a young teenager. At the age of 17, I went to live with him, where I was allowed to do whatever I wanted and he didn’t know anything about parenting. My mother, was a preschool teacher. She was a single mother for years but I had a couple of step-fathers too. She worked two jobs for a long time. I was much younger than my siblings so I spent a lot of time alone. When I was 12, she decided to return to her religion and I had to too. It was a very strict religion, no more holiday celebrations, or friends who weren’t in the same religion. For a while I was happy, until the later years of high school when the rebel came out and I wanted no parts. I resented her for taking away the holidays and my childhood friends. Everything was about the religion with her and college was even discouraged for fear of bad influence and no real need to plan for a future in this current life because there wouldn’t be one.
I’m sure my parents did their best, my childhood wasn’t bad. I’m grateful to have made it to this age, because I did some really reckless things in my youth and I am not blaming anyone but I really wish my parents had taught me…
The importance of maintaining good credit- Credit saves you money. The better your credit the less you have to spend up front and in the end. In the past, I’ve had two repossessions and plenty of small bills that made it to my credit. Thankfully, they happened early on. I’ve spent the last two years rebuilding my credit and my credit is pretty good now.
If you get a good job, stick with it and build a retirement fund. If you get the job while young, stay and retire from it. You’ll be able to do the job you want without worrying about the pay because you will have money coming in from the job you worked for years. And you will be one of the youngest people you know, not working so hard at 40.- I’ve been working since I was a teenager. [My mom did insist on my independence, for that I owe her a great deal of credit.] I’ve had some good jobs too but I never stayed long, always looking for something else. Til’ this day, I still have difficulty remaining at any job for more than 4 years. My mom worked as a teacher until she retired, why didn’t she teach me to do the same? I even worked for the state of PA as a case worker for four years. The retirement plan was great and I could have retired from there in my early 40’s with a good pension, but no-one told me that. Instead I left the job to go to college full time, which brings me to my next thought….
Go to college right after high school and get a degree, it gives you options- Had I gone to college right out of high school, perhaps I would not have job-hopped so many times. I had a full ride scholarship to college but no-one encouraged this, so I got me an apartment instead and a job. [I got great grades in school. I was very smart. My mother stayed on me about those grades too] I went to college later, after a husband and two kids and with those degrees came so many better opportunities. At least I went but I could have saved myself a lot of heart ache and pain, had someone, anyone, told me to go early.
Invest, build a portfolio- This is something I’m just educating myself about. I wish I had invested early, built a portfolio and gave myself future stability.
Marry someone you can grow and build with- Recently I read about a couple that did not marry for love, but for growth instead. This got me to thinking… this is very smart. Love fades, but growth keeps moving until you choose to stop it. I’ve been in relationships where one person is trying to grow and the other is simply content where they are- (Me and my ex-husband)- notice I said ex. It doesn’t work. Eventually you grow to resent that person or the two of you grow apart. It doesn’t feel good.
Budget- So many people live above their means. Before I moved into my first apartment at age 17, my mom held the money that I saved and my father doubled my total. It was enough to pay the deposit on my apartment and buy some furniture but I was almost evicted within the first year because no-one taught me to budget. I still struggle with budgeting but I’ve learned the value of paying my bills on time because the longer I let them go unpaid the more money I have to pay in the long run. And once you get behind it can be almost impossible to catch up. Now I save first, pay bills next, purchase what I need, and then decide to save more or enjoy the rest. Very soon I hope to add invest in there somewhere.
Leave your home and travel- I’ve only ever lived in Philadelphia until I moved to Qatar to teach at age 39. What a deprived life. I’ve learned so much since moving abroad about life. I only remember traveling on the East Coast as a child, and never on a plane. As an adult, I was scared to death of flying and avoided it until I had no other choice but to fly for job training to take care of my sons while they were young. I can’t help but to think, if I had been exposed to traveling as a child, that fear would not have engulfed me. I’m still afraid of flying but I no longer allow that fear to keep me from seeing the world. And to ensure my sons don’t carry that fear, I’ve taken them on many travels and moved them across the world. Traveling is the best education anyone can receive, trust me.
Live for today but plan for tomorrow, because before you know it, you’ll be 40
So now I’m 40 and it doesn’t make sense to blame my life on my parents, but it does make sense to re-invent myself and teach my children what I wish my parents had taught me.
Today was my first time using the Spa at the Warwick hotel. I usually start with a 5 * rating and then delete and add stars according to my experience.
When I entered the hotel, I was instantly overtaken by the smell of smoke. I felt like I was in a casino in America before they added smoke rooms. For someone with Asthma, I automatically made up my mind that I would never stay here. Minus 1*. (not the spa’s fault but still a part of the hotel)
When I arrived to the 7th floor which is where the spa is located, there was no-one there to greet me. I had a 5:00 appointment and I was on-time and there was no-one there. So I took a seat and waited. Five minutes later, a gentlemen arrived and walked passed me on his mobile phone and just nodded. Less than a minute later he walked back passed again and I asked him if anybody was working. He told me that he was calling someone. (He must have been someone in charge) Someone did come about a minute later, handed me paperwork to fill out and confirmed my appointment. Seven minutes later I was in room. This is unacceptable- Minus 2 **
My masseuse was very nice. She said she was from Thailand and apologized that she did not check back at the desk at 5 to see if her appointment had arrived. (valid but why is there no hostess or receptionist on duty).
After being taken to my room, she (my masseuse) had to set up because she was late. So while I tried to undress she was busy lighting candles and had to go and get me disposable underwear because there was none in the cabinet. Minus 1* star
My massage was nice– 90 minute full body massage. She adjusted the temperature when I was feeling cold. I asked her to write her name down so I would remember it. Plus 1* star for the nice massage.
The price was great and I used the entertainer app, so I get one free massage to use another day. Plus 1*.
After the massage I went back to the front to pay and complete a survey. Several male customers were there talking too loud for a spa but whatever. My masseuse neglected to write her name down for me for which she probably forgot. No stars taken away for that.
All together 3 stars for this spa. I will be back for my free massage but I wasn’t impressed by the service or the smoky hotel. Do better Warwick.
**My review is based on my experience and mine alone**
**Update: I recently revisited this Spa for my free massage and I must say I was impressed by the improvement in service. There were 2 receptionist on duty when my girlfriend and I arrived. We were warmly greeted with a beverage, a warm towel to freshen up and our masseuse’s names. The lemongrass smell was so intoxicating that I bought some of the oil. Our rooms were ready and again the massage was awesome. When our massage was over, we were given tea and a survey. This time the Warwick received 5 stars from me. They really listened to their customer reviews and up’d their game. They have a new special for February, massage and chocolate Wrap, I will be back for mine and I’ll be back monthly from now on!
With only a few days left of winter break, I decided to call one of my new coworkers and invite her to lunch. It is amazing to me how ignorant we show ourselves to be before we get to know people. Let me first give you some background: I think that many Indian women are beautiful, have long dark hair, brown coffee skin, and of medium build. There are many natives from India here in Qatar but the ones I’ve noticed, bobble their heads when speaking, have a recognizable body odor, and are mostly low income. This was my impression until I met Omaimah. Omaimah is from the northern part of India and when I first met her, Indian did not come to mind. When she told me she was from India and I responded with, “Really, I would have never suspected”, she said, “Why, is it because I don’t bobble my head?” I was so embarrassed, as I should have been. Which leaves me to question: How often do we judge people or a group of people before we get to know them?
This is Omaimah, fair skinned, big eyes, long dark hair (got that right), smells nice, does not bobble her head, is pretty well off and a teacher from India. She’s beautiful and thoughtful and she has taught me, and she doesn’t even know it, not to judge a group of people before I get to know at least one of them. Everyone from one country do not all fit in the same box. I want to apologize to the universe and say thank you Omaimah.
Has something similar ever happened to you?
Read my next post to find out how lunch went, with a real Indian, at a real Indian restaurant…
On the weekend of 11/11/17, my husband and I celebrated our 6th year wedding anniversary. I surprised him with a trip to Banana Island! Yes, that is the real name of the island. Take a look at this video:
It’s actually a resort by Anantara, just a 25 minute catamaran ferry ride away from Doha, Qatar or a private helicopter ride. It’s a luxury, dry (alcohol free- out of respect for the local Islamic culture) resort. The resort features 2 & 3 bedroom villas with private swimming pools and 1 bedroom hotel rooms. It also offers over-water bungalows. We stayed in the hotel since it was just us.
I’m trying hard to stick to my commitment of saving versus traveling but last year was our 5th anniversary and we spent it on two different continents so I wanted this one to be special. Is a weekend on banana Island expensive? Yes, but still cheaper than paying for a flight, hotel and food someplace away from Qatar and wasting time on a plane ride for a quick getaway. I called Darryl on the phone three hours before I left from work and instructed him to pack for a weekend. It wasn’t until we were on the Corniche, being dropped off by our good friends Jennifer and JD, that he realized where we were going.
You check in to the resort while still in Qatar and as soon as you enter this small building, you’re treated with royalty. The banana island check-in is located near the MIA on the Corniche. As soon as we walked under the arch, someone greeted us and took our bags. We were offered dates and water. Ten minutes later we boarded the ferry. In less than thirty minutes we arrived to the sounds of beating drums. Our preferences were reviewed and we were escorted to our room. Our bags met us shortly there after.
Check in on the Corniche
The catamaran ferry
Check in at the resort
The room was huge, featuring a full bathroom including a large rain shower head, dual sink vanities an attached sitting area and closet. The bedroom had a sitting area, mini bar, small refrigerator, Keurig machine, king-size bed, and a large spa tub in front of the balcony overlooking the ocean. We turned on the t.v. to check the channels and was surprised by the Boss surround sound that followed into the bathroom.
The island is beautiful. It has several restaurants, a public pool, large play area for the kids, surrounded by beach of course, golf carts that will take you around with one call, a cinema, bowling and more. I was actually surprised by how cold the beach water was, but we still enjoyed it.
What about the food? Well, they did not disappoint. You know if the food is good, than you got me. They were very aware of my vegan diet and at each restaurant the Manager came over to greet me and consult with me about what I wanted to eat so that they could prepare it fresh for me. He even asked what I would want the next day, so that they could prepare it. I mean top shelve service, even down to room service.
There were only 3 things, I had a problem with: no villas for single couples, no alcohol, and the pillows, where your head sunk right to the bed. So take your pillow and the other thing with you (if you know where I am coming from) and enjoy a 5 star vacation 25 minutes away from Doha.
So my head is famous and now so is my face, a little bit.
I love being in front of the camera. That sounds really arrogant, right? I know but it’s the truth. No, I don’t think I’m the most beautiful person in the world, not even close but I’ve learned to love myself and that was a journey. I also think the camera and I have a pretty good relationship. I would love to be a model, but when I google types of models, I don’t fit into any of the categories.
I am not tall; I’m actually pretty short, 5’2 to be exact. I’m not thin or plus sized; I’m somewhere in the middle with a pouch. I’m not glamorous, fit, a child or mature. But I do have pretty nice skin, a caramel complexion, a pretty smile, a nice shaped BALD head, I’m smart and I’m confident. So I’ll probably never end up in Vogue or on someone’s catwalk but for some reason I always end up in front of a camera.
It could have started with my baby pictures. I was a cute, chunky baby. Or perhaps it was nude photos I had taken years ago. Where are those anyway? Or maybe it started with this….
That was a picture taken at my graduation from Cabrini College for my Master’s degree 4 years ago. I remember a photographer coming around and snagging pictures but the real shocker came when I received a phone call from a friend saying that they just saw me on the L-train. I knew I hadn’t been on the L-train that day so I was confused. Then they told me, my picture was on a billboard advertisement for Cabrini. I contacted the school and had them send me a copy. That picture was on their billboards and on pamphlets. For months, people would call me saying that they saw my picture.
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine passed on some information about a tv channel that was looking to interview some people of Qatar. So of course I responded and a few days later the crew was at my flat conducting the interview. The interviewer asked me questions about my life in Qatar and allowed me to speak about Alopecia and my blog. The interview went well, but I beat myself up afterwards because there was so many other things I wanted to say. Isn’t this always the case; you think of things you coulda woulda shoulda said afterwards? But it was too late and well, what’s the point of crying over spilled milk. He said he would contact me once all the editing was completed and the interview was posted.
Today on my 6th wedding anniversary I got the message. The interview is posted. Please check it out using this link. QatarnaTV
Everything that was said was my exact words, but it comes off a little different than my intentions especially at the end, when I said “I don’t plan to return to the U.S. anytime soon.” It is true that I don’t intend on moving back to live in the U.S.A any time soon, , but it’s not because I plan on living in Qatar forever either. I plan on exploring other places. And when the time is right to leave here, I’ll move someplace else. I’ve learned so much from living abroad, I want more experiences like this. I will always love my home country of the U.S.A and will always visit.
My friend Nazma, the Henna artist, did an interview for Society magazine November 2017 edition (The First Family Magazine in Qatar) a few days ago and she posted a copy of the article on facebook. And who’s big head took up a whole page, MINE! Here it is in all it’s glory.
So my head is famous and now so is my face, a little bit. I have another interview coming up this week with Nazma on Al Jazeera. Wish me luck!
Honestly I would love to be the first internationally recognized alopecia model and travel the world as an activist and a bold, fierce model. I would love to be the face of alopecia all over the world, to encourage other women to not let a lack of hair define them, but to recognize their natural beauty inside out.
Who knows, maybe one day, I will create a new type of model. For now, I’m leaving my footprints in the middle eastern sand.
It has been 5 weeks since I began taking Arabic course and every week I have to drag myself to go.
Most of the time it’s because I’m lazy but I also run an after school activity where I am cooking healthy snacks with a group of 17 excited first-third grade girls on Wednesday which is one of the days I attend class. -And after working all day and doing an additional duty, all I want to do is chill. But it is also because the class is not fun, at all. I don’t know why I thought it would be fun learning another language. It is so hard and I am kind of in a place in my life where I just want easy. I’m also used to being one of the brightest crayons in the box, but in this class, I’m just slow, dull ass gray.
Most of these people seem to know more Arabic than me and seem to be catching on faster too. Or maybe, they just study and read the book. I’m not big on studying either. Did I mention I’m lazy? I haven’t always been lazy but my current life is the cause.
However, I am not giving up. For one, I paid way too much money to just give up. Secondly, I really am learning and want to learn more. Finally, I am not used to giving up. I’m not a quitter.
Now that, that is out the way, here is some Arabic for you…(please keep in mind that I am spelling these words phonetically so that you can say them almost right)
Abiyad- White, Akdar- green, Aswad- black, Ahmar- red
Heya tashraboo shy bedoon haleeb- She drinks tea without milk
Kitabi akbar- my book is green
Ma Lahwn al column- What color is the pen?
Zawjee oheeboo an yadros- My spouse likes to study
Ana Asifa- I’m sorry (f)
I’ve also learned 17 letters out of 28 and have done some writing with most of the others. Inshallah, I will make it 7 more weeks.