Living with intent, social engagement, learning, growing, giving
When I started this blog I made time at least twice a week to write and took pleasure in offering my thoughts and opinions to the 2 other bloggers that might stumble across my post. Since then I have accepted more and more work burdens and when I am not working I want to spend time with my family, friends and exercising so my blog has definitely taken a back seat along with reading for pleasure.
It seems that I am becoming a workaholic. I discussed this with my husband recently and we agreed that when this crazy year is over I will cut back on work. Two and a half years ago I put my hand up to run a project in the Middle East. It took 2 difficult years to get the project started and it’s now been running successfully for 6 months. We knew when I took on this project that it would require a huge amount of work and long hours due to the 7-8 hour difference in time zone. However we have protected my Friday’s off work and most weeks we have gone for long hikes together. Last Friday my husband asked me to leave my phone behind because we were to be spending time together. That was an excellent suggestion and something I will do more often.
When I’m traveling for work I am entirely engrossed in preparing presentations, having meetings etc while still doing my usual job. So I tend to work 14+ hour days on the road. As a result I don’t miss being home very much but as soon as the weekend arrives I feel wretched with guilt and wish I was either at home with my family or they were with me.
The best part of my work travel are the connections that I make. Here are a few from the last week in Arabia:
– when I walked into my usual hotel on my 2nd day a handsome and lean young Saudi man grinned at me from behind the desk and called out a greeting to me by name. I had never seen him before and was astonished and asked if I was the only solo foreign woman staying there. He responded that he had processed my booking for my first stay and had been amazed when I arrived that the Dr that he’d been emailing with was not a man. Two days later he was on the desk as I waited for a colleague to check out. We started chatting animatedly about his failure to complete a government sponsored engineering degree in Australia, after 3 years he dropped out, returned home and switched to hospitality. His mother isn’t very happy. We laughed and chatted and both evidently enjoyed the chat. He was still on the desk when I returned from work and we chatted for about 1/2 an hour about many things but found that we share a passion for good nutrition and exercise. Today he is riding 89km to the start of a triathlon and then doing the triathlon. No wonder he is so lean! We discussed the evils of smoking and he said that 10 years ago in his home town it was so traditional that smoking was forbidden in public. He said that now even children smoke in public in that same town! He showed disdain for the young men of that town who he said are fat, disconnected and smoke too much. He was appalled when I told him that I like to smoke shisha and that took us to talking about intermittent fasting, which I do daily, only eating over an 8 hour period each day. He’s heard that it’s very healthy and didn’t seem too alarmed when I told him my theory that the benefits of fasting should outway the detriments of shisha a few times a year. When I told him that my next stop is Spain he said that he wants to come here for a triathlon next year but showed scorn towards sightseeing. I lamented that I’m not allowed to exercise outdoors in that part of Arabia and the gym and pool in the hotel are only for men. I told him that I have pent up energy that I can’t use because normally I have an active lifestyle. He took pity on me and gave me access to the Royal Suite for an hour to use the treadmill and jacuzzi! What a super sweet and determined young man. We both recognized that we have little in common but had a good time talking.
– a Bedouin friend told me that when a group of women gather, if there is an elderly woman she will yell at and maybe hit anyone who interrupts her. In the case of male gatherings only one man speaks at once and they never interrupt each other. Occasionally in business meetings when everything is getting heated and different parties are getting frustrated Arabs and I interrupt each other but otherwise I’ve noticed that respectful trait. My Bedouin friend is witty and lively and lean and contrasts to some of the city Arabs who are dull and overweight.
– the Indonesian professional that I met in my presentation on my last trip who attended another of my presentations this time and greeted me warmly in Bahasa Indonesian, rapidly exceeding my limited linguistic capacity. We chatted companionably and he said that Asians in that company are paid less than professionals from other continents. He said that the discrimination is open and blatant.
– the final significant connection that I made was in Bahrain airport. It was very late at night and I had no interest in spending the 3 1/2 hours between flights in the airport so I paid for lounge access and it was money well spent! I had a hot shower, dinner, a campari and soda and used the free Internet access to do 3 hours of work. My laptop signalled extremely low battery and I spied a power outlet with a vacant seat next to it. The man sitting beside the outlet helped me and we began to chat. He was born and raised in the Middle East of European parents. We shared experiences, knowledge and opinions and it was not only edifying but thrilling to speak with someone who has different insights to me. He also loves the Aubrey/Maturin series so that’s great! I hope to see him and meet his girlfriend the next time that I am in Bahrain!
So that’s it, a rambling post that may not hold much interest for anyone else but it’s nice to record my thoughts and experiences.