“We Will Be There”

 

 

“We will be there!” I have never thought deeply about these 4 words, ever before! Until today! Sitting here, watching my son at his swimming class, lost in the background noise: Instructors shouting commends, kids cheering, and of course the echo of an indoor pool. Too lazy to pick up my kindle and read, I start thinking…. You know that thing all moms do, just let their brain wonder, while sitting quietly, enjoying not being pulled, touched, yelled at, or even talked to, without really thinking of anything specific… just thinking… and that’s when it hit me! I have an “I will be there group!”!

You see, I have been planning my son’s FIFTH Birthday party- It is a huge deal for my son -and us, his parents- and I have no idea how did we even get here, so fast! Part of the planning is inviting the chosen ones, who would be spending a couple of hours with Adam, having fun – hopefully-, playing, laughing, and eating cake (which is what birthdays are all about!). This year Adam had a big list of the friends he wanted to invite, and so I obliged. I wrote a message, copied it, pasted it, 25 times, for each friend’s mom, pressed sent… and … waited! I sent the messages and I started staring at my phone. At the huge list of people that I have now, right in front of my eyes, and……. I waited. I saw few “typing” (If you use WhatsApp you will know what I mean, if you don’t then what planet do you live in?).

8 out of 25 people, started writing their reply, just few seconds after I had sent the message, and few seconds later I had a reply : “ WE WILL BE THERE!”

These people didn’t wait to check their schedule, they didn’t wait to check with their hubbies, they didn’t wait to confirm with their families… they just read my invite and said: “We will be there”!

I know this must sound silly and even stupid, but I had tears in my eyes, and as I thought about it more and more, I realized that when these exact 8 special people have texted me to invite us for their kids’ special day, I had replied in few seconds saying those exact same words: “We will be there”!

Even though we don’t see some of those 8 precious people very often, but we all make this tight circle called: “ We will be there”, we know that no matter what “We will be there”. Life can get busy and hectic and we can easily get lost in all the things we all have to do, but knowing that I have a group that will always be there, without taking time to even blink or think makes my heart swell with joy!

I am not saying that the rest of those 25 people aren’t as important. No far from that, they are still showing up, and coming to spend their precious time with me and my family, on my son’s special day. They are showing us love and appreciation and we are so grateful for that.  I get how busy life can be with little ones. Between football practice, swimming classes, art classes, and all kind of activities, mothers (and I am one of them) can’t plan a thing without getting back to their calendars, and checking how and when they are available. I get it, this is life with kids, we can’t do much about it. We, parents, just understand, we know how it is!

This wasn’t my first time inviting people to one of Adam’s birthdays (he had FOUR of them already!), but I guess this is the the time that the meaning of “we will be there” really resonated with me! Such a strong and powerful sentence, that you should consider yourself very lucky if you have ever heard it –or read it!

 

 

Ouiam

 

A Tribute To My Master.

Today marks the closure of a great chapter in my life. Someone very dear and close to my heart, left Bahrain today.  A mentor, a Chinese Martial Art Master (even though she doesn’t like to be referred to as such), a mother, a friend, and a role model. Shao Nian Bates, her Chinese name means: “Youngster”, and in the Chinese culture the name is strongly linked to being a traveler to all 4 corners of the world. A name that she carries well, since she has been to all 4 corners of the world, physically and metaphorically.

 

I have known Shao after I moved to Bahrain and since then her presence in my life has been vital. I saw her every morning at 6am, we trained together, we drank tea together, we told each other stories, we ate together, we watched people joining the studio and witnessed them leave, and today I, here alone, am witnessing HER departure.

Every time I was sick, she would rush to her kitchen, prepare some kind of herbal tea, warn me of how sour and undrinkable it is, then hands it to me, while telling me all about the benefits of the herbs in it. Every time I told her things that were bothering me, she would tell me a story similar to mine, and give me, unintentionally, an example to follow. Every time I wanted to learn a new form she would tell me that I didn’t need to, and that I have learned enough, yet she would cave in, and teach me some more. Some mornings she would tell me that I looked beautiful in whichever color I was wearing, some other days she would say: “Hmm those colors don’t look good together”, yes she was brutal like this, she would never say something unless she means it 100%. The first day I met her she almost sounded rude to me, but the force led me to go again and again and again, and every time I sat with her, and learned about her, I loved her even more. Then she gave me a book she wrote about her life, and that was the turning point in our relationship! A woman who served in General Mao’s camps, who found her way into learning a new language and even writing in that new language, she did the unthinkable and left China, she faced life’s hardships in bulks, not one or two, like me and you, but way more than what one can handle in a lifetime. She built houses and businesses, she traveled around the world, met many many interesting people. She experienced the other side of the pink rosy world, she lost money, friends, family, and survived it all quietly and humbly.

When I met her I was 21 years old, a little girl, who knew nothing about life. I looked at her with wide eyes and a dropped jaw every time she told a story. To me she was the most interesting person I have met in my whole life, 10 years later, she still is! Now I wonder whether the universe has sent her my way to teach and guide me in a time when I knew nothing, and now that I have seen, lived and experienced a little more, it was time for her to leave. Now that I have matured enough to be able to live on my own, it was time for her to move, and probably go nurture another soul somewhere else.

 

What always impresses me in this magnificent woman, is that even though she is 70 years old, not a minute goes by where she isn’t learning a new thing. Her moto in life is: “if they can do it, I too can do it”. She lived and still lives her life to the fullest, she doesn’t waste a minute worrying about life, or entertaining any negative energy, or simply doing nothing.

We went to many breakfasts, lunches and dinners, we laughed and cried, we talked freely and openly about anything and everything. She was my companion, more than she was my teacher. We celebrated birthdays, Eids, house-warming parties, Ramadans, and many more events together. We also shared a passion together, which is taking pictures! Boy did we take pictures! She is the kind of person, to whom you can tell your deepest, darkest secret to, and she would just sit there looking, listening and simply fully present. She took care of everyone, she knew what everyone liked and what they didn’t like, she was a mother to all!

 

We both shared the same Chinese horoscope: Tiger, and we were very similar in so many ways. We are both fierce, stubborn, faithful, and honest. We both loved tea and drank tons of it. We both loved reading. So some mornings, instead of training, we would just sit, drink tea, and talk about books.

 

We both experienced life’s ups and downs together, we both made mistakes together, we both saw how life can unfold. She knew me as a little girl, and now she is leaving a strong, woman behind, a wife, and a mother.

 

In the 31 years that I have lived, I have been blessed with many motherly figures in my life, beside my wonderful mama. I have shared and connected with many older women, and learned so much from them. I always became friends with my friends’ mothers, and that’s because I have an old soul, yet somehow they all seem to vanish and disappear at some point of my life. Somehow it is as if they are on a mission, and once the mission is done, they leave. I have said way too many goodbyes in my life, and somehow I got so used to the idea that all the people I meet come into my life for a purpose, and once it’s done, they will leave. Seeing friends leave is always sad, and even though I truly believe that the universe always has a plan for you, yet this time, it’s a bit harder and a little more life changing. I am not only saying goodbye to a friend, I am closing a whole chapter in my life, and getting ready to open a new one.

 

So to Shao: You are taking a piece of my soul with you, I know that we will meet again, if it is not in this life, then in the next one. I will not promise to send you emails and pictures, updating you with what’s new every once in a while, simply because I know that won’t happen, yet I promise you that in my heart you will always have a beautiful, and very special place.

From Ouiam with Love…..

Sharing Souls.

I am a firm believer that the people we meet in our life are destined to cross our path, each with a mission. Some missions are simple and entertaining and some others can be daunting and excruciating. Some might add value to our lives and some might change us forever and some others might cause us great pain and suffering in order to learn a life lesson.

Sometime we meet people for the first time, yet we feel that we have known them for a very long time, and here I wonder, did we really know them before? In a different life? A different era? And they show up again in this life as a manifestation of love? To finish a story?! We meet someone, and we immediately like them, we want to befriend them, we want to get to know them and explore their souls. We don’t know why but we’re hunted by the idea of having them in our life –again- Mostly the feeling is reciprocated which can only strengthen the theory.

Those souls we meet and are attracted to, those souls who can make ours so warm and happy, those soulmates, and I don’t only mean “soulmate” as in a love relationship, I also mean friends who complete us, who make us a better version of ourselves, who finish our sentences, who can detect the faintest note of sadness in our voice when we’re sad and beaten. How many can one have? I think I am one of the lucky ones to have witnessed many manifestations of love throughout my life. Many souls who have mastered the art of blending in with mine and have created beautiful work of art. Yet our souls and bodies are always a work in progress, as we keep on evolving and changing, our needs, ideas, and feelings keep on changing too, and our souls need more space to grow and more mates to thrive. Sometimes we are so blessed and lucky to grow and evolve hand in hand with our many soulmates, we go through life holding hands and smiling like little kids, and sometimes their time in our life ends and we all move to the next chapter, because their mission has been completed!

This reminds me a little bit of marriage, and when old couples who have celebrated many decades of matrimony, are asked “How did you manage to love and live with the same person for this long?”. This question doesn’t make any sense to me, because that husband and that wife are not the same people from all these decades ago! Everyday we wake up a little different than the previous one. Each day we learn new things about ourselves that we didn’t know before, and so does our partner. Within 5 or 6 years we are completely different than the two people who met long time ago and fell in love! Yet, as we learn new things about ourselves and our partners, our relationship grows and evolves with us, to fit our current needs, hopes and fears. And only those who open their hearts and souls and embrace each other every single day, with all the baggage they come with and the baggage waiting for them in the future, can make it and can live together happily for years and years!

Acceptance is the key! Knowing and admitting that our thoughts, opinions and feelings are never stable, and so are the ones of the people around us. No one knows what will tomorrow bring, yet we know what we are now –in the moment- The only thing we own and control is now. Being aware and in tune with our souls and bodies is a blessing and a great testimony of love. Admitting that every person in our life can add a little something to the work in progress we are, knowing that our experiences and our stories might be the life-saving anchor to many people around us without us even noticing. Listening (really listening) to people when they talk, listening with our souls and hearts and not only ears. Listening and letting our soul drown in the greatness of other people’s souls, only then we will accept and love unconditionally.

Ouiam

A Breeze, A Storm, And A Little Piece Of Heaven!

 

 

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So… it has been a little too quiet in here right? That’s because we were on a very long vacation. It was a huge adjustment to let go of the little machines (aka smartphones), that would soon turn me into one, but I did it. I managed to stay offline most of the time. No Facebook, no Instagram and no blogging of course! I survived and guess what? I really enjoyed living the moment instead of capturing it, (just for that little while, but I am glad to get my machines back lol!), I still took a whole lot of pictures… click … click …click, but those are going to be saved for the rainy days…!

Our trip was about 6 weeks long, therefore I thought I should write few posts to cover the whole trip. We did Germany, Morocco, Brussels, Amsterdam, and Germany again, before coming back to our lovely sandy island- Bahrain. With a toddler who was beyond excited to get on an airplane, travel to new destinations, and visit his family!

That’s not it….! To end this long vacation, I decided to go on a trip to Oman with my girlfriends…! Yes, a girls’ trip! Do you realise how wild and crazy that is…well at least to me! I never left Adam more than few hours with his dad, and going on a three days’ trip meant that he will stay all those long, tiring, busy 72 hours with his second favourite person in the whole world: his dad (let’s hope hubby doesn’t read this or else I will be in trouble!”.

 

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This year was all about getting out of my comfort zone, trying new, exciting and different things, pushing my own boundaries, and exploring my abilities. so the next logical step was to take this trip with my 66 years old Taichi Master (It will be much easier if we just call her “S” for now), and two of my friends “R” and “W”. We planned this trip to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the studio where we train. This year also marked my 10th year living in Bahrain. So it was a wonderful thing to do to cherish all the years we spent in this beautiful part of the word, a place we all call home now.

 

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Writing about this trip (and the rest of our vacation) feels like a must. Something that I need to share with so many parents who think that life with kids means suffocating the person we were before the kids arrived and becoming a new person that we don’t even relate to most of the time. I feel I have to write about this trip because it revealed the real person I am and gave me an opportunity to be authentic and true to myself. It also gave me courage to get back to my hectic life and dive into that crazy world of mine, with a grin. The adrenalin rush was something I craved and with the thrill and kicks of this trip, my prayers were answered. It liberated me and grounded me at the same time. I feel I have to write about every aspect of the trip, the beauty of Oman that I am sure I will never do it justice, the courage it took 4 ladies to travel on their own, rent a car, use a GPS for the first time, go to the mountains and explore the enchanting nature of Oman. to write about the bonds that flourished with this trip, the trust, the friendship. About how challenging our hikes were, yet we went through each challenge determined to succeed. We discovered the power of the mind and how your words have a great impact on your performance, and that just when you think you can’t take one more step forward, your legs will already be one step ahead of you! I have to write about the feeling of being a kid again, running, jumping, free, fresh, and at peace with your inner-self, laughing like a kid, breathing like a kid, joking and being silly like you have never done before! I have to write about the inspiration these 3 ladies have given me! A 66 years old, unstoppable, brave, yet kind and harbors the softest of hearts. A young lady who dedicated her life to work with children, and another young lady, so motivated that it seems she never lost the child within her! So you see why I will need more than one blog post? Where shall I even start?

 

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Up until the last minute I wasn’t sure I could get myself to leave home, knowing that I will not see my little nugget for 3 whole days! I should spare you guys those details about the tears, the ruined mascara, the uncontrollably fast heart beats, and the agony that possessed my soul! Yes, this is how bad things were that morning at 7am, when that cab pulled over next to my door step, and I really needed it to get in, if I wanted to reach the airport on time to make it to that flight!

I felt I was the big girl in this trip, even though I am pretty sure I was the youngest. Maybe because once you are a mother, you are always a mother! And you always feel responsible for everyone else around you, no matter how old/young they are. So obviously, I was the one in charge of the documents, the bookings, … you know… the big stuff! Somehow I also felt in charge of the ladies, there was always this feeling that I had to look after them and make sure each one was safe and happy.

 

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So there I was with a rented car in front of me, a GPS in my hand and three cheerful ladies next to me! Whoever knows me well, knows that the GPS and I are not the bestest of friends! I never used one and never understood that virtual world of “recalculating, on route and turn left then keep right!!!!!!”, yet, and just like a big kid, I installed that damn thing (Hell yeah I am a mother ….Nothing is gonna scare me!),I typed the address and we all cheered and welcomed Bruno (the voice of our GPS). S was our driver, and she wasn’t thrilled about using a GPS, she had a map that she bought from the shop at the airport, and decided she would follow it instead of freezing her brain and listening to a voice who clearly can’t give clear instructions!! (talk about inspiration and about that “turn right, keep left!” thing lol!!!). After several minutes of trying to convince S that Bruno is our good friend for now, and that may be listening to what he is saying wasn’t such a bad idea after all, finally she agreed, not convinced but I guess she was just too tired to argue with two restless young ladies full of energy, and not ready to be defeated!

We were heading to the Shangri La, an exquisite hotel in Muscat, that I have visited before with my husband. The road was nothing like what I have imagined. It was so easy and refreshingly simple. I must confess though, the whole journey from the airport to the hotel, all I could think of, was my little Adam and how terribly I missed him already!

The next day, we were ready for our hike. Up by 6am, full of energy and ready to challenge our bodies and souls! The drive was about two hours from the hotel. We got in the car with our bags, sunscreen, water, and our dreamy little minds. I had butterflies in my stomach, you see S appointed me as her Co-pilot, and I was nervous! Me and Bruno just started to get along and I wasn’t really sure we could make it all the way to “Wadi Shab”….. Wanna know if we made it there? Oh well stay tuned and wait for my next blog post!

 

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Ouiam

Hey, Let’s Play Together..!

  

Do you remember when the simple phrase : “Hey let’s play together” used to make the bestest of friends? It worked like magic, wherever you went and with any kid you saw and wanted to be friends with! You go to the doctor’s office, you see another kid with his mom, you ask the magical question and …boom!!!! You are all over the place playing and giggling together. At a party, in a train, or at the beach…. It works anywhere! The friendship might never make it beyond that day or those few hours, but you both agreed on the terms and conditions that came with that phrase-We are going to be friends for now, and we are going to make the most of it! We will run, laugh, climb, share our food, and do anything we feel like doing! Then we will say our goodbyes and each one will go home!- Does this sound like the perfect friendship or what?! 

While thinking about this my mind jumps to another way of easily making friends and with pretty much the same simple terms and conditions: Facebook! You send a friendship request, and the potential friend decides whether to accept it or not! If you make it to his friends’ list you then can follow up with his updates: Where he ate? what did he do after he ate? What is in his mind right now? And he does the same. You click on the famous “Thumbs Up” as a way to acknowledge the information he gave, you might comment from time to time, you might send him an emoji on his birthday, you might even spend a good 10minutes checking out his pictures, but the funny thing is …. Wait for it…. If you meet him in person…. He might not even say hello!!! But hey who cares we are “Facebook friends” right? 

The other day, while having a meaningful conversation with a friend, she told me that she has been struggling with understanding the whole idea behind the friendship concept. And I knew exactly what she meant, because not so long ago I was there myself! Questioning the meaning of a true friendship and the definition of a good friend! And it took me a while to come up with an answer and follow it by heart! We make our friends depending on how similar we are, and what we share in common, yet we are and will always be two different beings. We will act differently in different situations, we will think differently and have different opinions of things and we have to accept it and we have to always keep in mind the purpose of our friendship, so in case one of us deviates, we then have the choice to either correct the deviated party, or simply walk away! 

Sadly the magical phrase no longer works here. If I go to someone in a supermarket and say: “Would you play with me?” They would definitely think something is wrong with me lol. And neither can I send a friend request to someone I see at the park and think we would make a great pair of friends! As appealing as it sounds, the real world simply doesn’t work this way! 

Thinking of my own friends, I have to say that they come in categories, such as: 

Childhood friends: most of them are in my hometown and I visit them whenever I go there. Usually all we do is reminisce about the past, and catch up on our current lives. 

Mommy friends: friends with kids the same age as Adam, we always do different activities together to keep the kids busy. The focus is always on the kids, this way we are all happy. 

Work friends: from my previous jobs and we kept in touch throughout the years. 

Friends we socialise with.

Gym friends and a couple of best friends. 

It feels great to have that list always neat, tidy and well organised. And there is nothing wrong with having friends for a specific purpose, because after all we are all adults and we know what we are doing. We all want to have a good time in good company, doing the things we like to do! Because you simply can’t find the same version of yourself in someone else, liking what you like, enjoying what you enjoy, thinking the way you think. It is kind of a game, each friend should complete one part of you. 

One of the things I learnt in 2015 is to give everyone a chance to be a good friend, and then let fate decide of the destiny of this friendship. I also learnt to strike a conversation with anyone, you never know where it will end up! And I have to say I made some great friends in this past year! 

What is friendship to you? And how do you define a good friend? I would love to hear from you…. 

Ouiam 

Fate, Friends, and Popcorn! 

  

Those we meet at the sidewalk, we surprise ourselves walking towards them, and as unusual as it might seem then, we actually do strike a conversation. Or those we knew for years and years yet the only thing we knew about them was their names! Or those we were not supposed to meet but a flight was missed and we sat next to each other at the airport. Is it fate that brings us together? Things happen and while they do, we find ourselves perplex, and frustrated because this is not how we planned “IT”, yet once we reach that point in what was then only a foggy, hazy and uncertain future, pieces of the puzzle seem to fall into place. We realise why things happened the way they did. We were meant to meet that day on the sidewalk, and I was meant to come close to you and ask you questions that you happily answered! We were meant to know each other for years yet never really hit it of because we had nothing in common then, while now we re practically twins. You were meant to miss that flight so you could be my friend! 

People we meet, yet we have no clue how much wisdom, love, and maturity, they will bring into our lives. We think to ourselves: “Oh what a lovely coincidence!” But is it really? 

You always have a choice of who you invite to your life. My mom used to say: “You are what your friends are”. I never agreed with that. Well at least until recently. 

I have always been surrounded by awesome females. And I really cherish the fact that as I have gotten older, I have been able to meet even more awesome women, that have brought some wonderful things in my life! I definitely learned to embrace the uniqueness of each and every female friend I have. It’s like each woman I am friends with, plays a distinct role in my life in her own way. This somehow polishes the rustic old parts of me, and brings them back to life in a harmoniously crazy way!  

Sometime in life, when you no longer listen to that awfully loud voice in your head, that says: “You know it all”, and when you reach that point when you think that life is much more than what you have thought of it; You then start surrounding yourself with only people who bring new meanings to your life. When you can peel those old grey layers of insecurity, selfishness, and self-centredness; and see clearly who you are! When you can do that in front of those people, because you know you can. That’s when fate is no longer a mastermind, and nothing but a tool. Those people were supposed to be there and then. They were supposed to be there FOR YOU! 

You need someone to hold your hand and tell you: ” You can do it!”. You need someone who will encourage you to face your demons! Someone who can look you in the eyes and say: ” It will be Okay!”. Someone you once met at the grocery store and never knew that one day they will become your “BFF”. Someone with whom now you can have life lessons over some frozen yogurt and popcorn! 

My heart and my arms are always wide open, welcoming whoever fate will seem to be bringing in my life. I will smile and wink at it, because now I know the secrete! They come because we need them to do, because they have a purpose in our life. A purpose that even we don’t know about yet! 

Ouiam

An Afternoon With An Old Friend…. And More! 

 A couple of days ago, we paid a special visit to an old friend of mine! A friend from the fifth grade, we haven’t seen each other though for over a decade. So this year, we finally decided to meet. She invited us (Adam, my sister and I) over for the afternoon, and we were very happy to oblige! Seeing her was so heartwarming, she was the same cheerful, kind and very humble little girl i once knew! And it honestly felt like we just saw each other yesterday. The only thing that has changed, was that we both now, have embarked in this amazing journey of motherhood! It is exceptionally neat to see an old friend becoming a mother! A friend with whom I held hands and played hopscotch! A friend with whom I met daily, had lunches and dinners together and shared my very first secrets with! A friend with whom I made my first trip to the Sunday market and bought my first mirror! A friend with whom I put a small chair in the kitchen and washed dishes for the first time! Seeing her brought a flood of such beautiful memories and made the past seem so very real! 

What was even neater, is seeing her mother! A woman i once thought was extremely beautiful and very kind! There she was, beautiful as ever and still very kind! While i stood there holding my son and giving her the warmest hugs, she took me back to when i was ten years old, the energetic yet very shy little girl i once was! 
We had big plans for the afternoon: sit in the sofa, reminisce about the past, present and future, while  having tea and some Moroccan treats! There we were, reunited again! Both mothers now, with different parenting styles, yet the same! Loving, caring, attentive, happy little mamas, we were! 
There i sat, watching my friend being a mother, holding her little baby so tight, and showering him with gentle little kisses, this brought the biggest smiles to my face! It made me think of all the young mamas i know, and how we all have decided to opt for the old fashioned way and be stay-at-home mamas! Even though we all went to universities and studied the hardest we could, we have decided to press the pause button, and dedicate all our time and energy to the most precious human beings in our lives! We have decided to become our grandmothers! And chose carefully to do what was once the norm! What is even more strange, is that the generation before us, our mothers, have worked so hard to bring gender equality to the work fields! However we decided to ignore all the hard work our mothers have put together to consider a “working mama” a normal thing! And go back to the natural child birth, breastfeeding and all the other traditional stuff! There is absolutely no right and wrong in this, it is just two completely different ways of living! It just seems that despite all the progress women have made throughout the years, young mamas (of my age), are choosing to go back to the old ways of living! It is fascinating and amazing how principles and values change over the years! 
Let’s go back to my visit now, the weather that day was absolutely perfect, sunny and a bit breezy. I wouldn’t think of a better day to visit such beautiful people! I have always wished my friends and I, lived in the same place, but for now i will settle for visits like this one! It was truly a beautiful afternoon spent with beautiful people! 
Ouiam