Thursday, July 29, 2010

Do your part

I’ve been thinking a lot about the environment lately. I have recycled for years and some would say I’m a little nutty about it. I buy only eco-friendly products regardless of what it is: shampoo, soap, household cleaning products, aluminum foil, water bottles … should I go on? I take quicker showers than ever before in efforts to conserve water. I limit soaking in a bath-tub to being a luxury of once every month or so, even though it’s something I totally love to do. I set my washer to the eco-cycle, not really knowing what that does entirely. I brought back empty shampoo bottles from Lebanon so that I can recycle them here because there’s not a facility to do so there. I use my shopping bags for everything; I actually can’t remember the last time I used a paper or plastic bag from a store. I drill all these ideas into my husband and kid’s heads all the time. However, I feel it’s still not enough.

A pristine ocean to swim in

Lebanon sits along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. My husband loves the ocean, so we took the opportunity to go to the ocean while he was there. He loves the way the salt water makes him feel and he absolutely loves swimming around in it. When I lived in Lebanon, which was about 17 years ago, the water was extremely polluted and it was unheard of to go in it. That was a concern of mine this time around, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that the water was super clean at the first beach we went to. It was so nice to go in there and play around as a family. The kids loved going “wave hunting” with their dad and had a blast in that pristine water.

Plastic bottles don’t really belong in the ocean, do they?

The second time we went to the beach, my experience wasn’t quite the same. We found a lot of trash floating around in the water. My kids made their dad take a plastic bag full of trash out of the water. It wasn’t so polluted that we didn’t feel like being in there, but there was definitely some plastic floating around here and there. My kids now were “trash hunting” instead of wave hunting, so that “the fish in the ocean could have a safe place to live” as I was informed by two concerned boys. I am very proud of them to say the least!

I took out a plastic bag that had been ripped in half, a plastic bottle, a snorkel piece and a few more miscellaneous items. I thought about the fact that none of these plastic things had deteriorated at all. If you were to put a paper towel in the water, I’d bet it would start breaking down within a few minutes of those waves crashing on it.

Oprah’s show on “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch”

I thought to myself, it is totally up to you, me and the rest of humanity to take care of our Earth. I remembered watching an Oprah special where they talked about “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch” which stretches from the coast of California to Japan, and it's estimated to be twice the size of Texas. This is believed to be the biggest garbage patch and it’s in our ocean! You can find the article at Read it and prepare to be shocked, angered and appalled. This is a quote from this article, “Experts say plastic trash has already killed millions of sea birds and marine mammals. In one case, pieces of plastic and a cigarette lighter were found in the stomach of a dead albatross.” Can you imagine that? A cigarette lighter in the stomach of a bird! That to me is unacceptable and inexcusable.

It’s up to you and me to do our part in conserving the environment

I have been saddened by all that trash we took out of the ocean since the day we did it. I feel like we can totally turn things around if we were to be a little more thoughtful in the way we do things. I’m sure no one intentionally throws a plastic bottle into the ocean, but the negligence of leaving it on the sand for the waves to take it in, may be just as bad.

I have made another pact with the environment and that is to be 100% eco-friendly from now on. There are three things in my household that are not eco-friendly that I can think of right away and they are: trash bags, sandwich baggies and my husband’s shampoo. Those will be eliminated immediately regardless of how disgruntled my husband will get from bio-degradable trash bags and organic hair products. We all have to do this together to save our planet. I’m all in, are you?

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Ordering cloth sandwich bags!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Solitude and Silence

My husband and kids went up to the mountains yesterday. I couldn’t go with them because I had scheduled a few things that I couldn’t get out of. I had a reading scheduled for that morning and then I was going to catch up on household items. As they were leaving, I had the idea of spending the next two hours in complete silence. I wasn’t going to talk on the phone, listen to music or watch television. I wanted to see what being in complete silence would do with my mind chatter.

It’s amazing how noisy total silence can be

It was amazing how noisy I felt it was although there wasn’t a peep in the house. My mind was racing; I was thinking of all the things I was going to accomplish after my reading and in the next few days. I was feeling more frazzled which totally defeats the purpose of meditating and going within.

I meditate all the time, so being in silence for 20 minutes is something I am completely used to. What was different this time? I believe my trip to Lebanon was the culprit. I realized that Lebanon is very noisy. My seven year old son said, “Mom does everyone honk their horn every second they are driving?” It is true; people honk their horns all the time while driving. During the day, you’ll always hear noise from construction sites and during the evening hours, there are always fireworks or music or something going on. I had a headache every day while I was there and I'm not one to ever get headaches.

Meeting the Yogi

About 10 days into my Lebanon trip, while driving, I thought to myself that I’ve allowed all this noise and chaos get to me. I thought that I really needed to up my meditation game so that I can achieve that calm regardless of what was going on around me. That same day, I met a tennis pro on the court who turned out to be a yogi as well. He was obviously very intuitive. He wanted to teach me everything he knew in the five minutes we spoke together.

He taught me various energy work techniques geared towards directing that energy within. He told me to rub my hands together and then cover my eyes with the palms of my hands. This will send the energy created by the friction within to nourish my soul. He told me to stand in front of a white wall in silence and allow that wall to break down any unnecessary and unwanted thoughts swirling in my head. I found his ideas very interesting and did apply the palm energy one already. It was such a fantastic feeling that I do it all the time now. I have yet to stand in front of a white wall though.

Working through the noise

While in silence, I remembered how calm the yogi was in Lebanon. I remembered that he didn’t let the chaos and noise get to him. I decided to remain in silence and work through it. It worked. Eventually, after about 40 minutes of being in complete silence, my mind let go. It stopped its chatter and I was able to just be. I felt this intense release. It was amazing. It was no surprise to me that later on that afternoon, I took a three hour nap rather than folding laundry and making dinner.

I'm on a spiritual cleanse

I've decided to try the "solitude and silence" meditation at least once a week. Just like I've had to go on somewhat of a food and drink cleanse after my trip, I am also going on a spiritual cleanse. So far, I'm finding it very releasing and relieving.

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I’ll be facing that wall soon!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What a trip!

I just came back from being in Lebanon for two weeks. I was born in Saudi Arabia but I am Lebanese. I lived in Saudi for 11 years, then in Lebanon for seven and then the US for 17 so far. I consider the US to be my home, but Lebanon is where I am from and will always be a strong part of who I am. I hadn’t been back in seven years, so it was something I was definitely going to do this year. I took my boys and made the trek half-way across the world on my own. My husband followed us to stay the last few days of the trip.

Lebanon was awesome!

It was fantastic to be back in Lebanon. My family is huge. My aunts, cousins and friends were over constantly. We had fantastic dinners on our balcony which overlooks Beirut and the Mediterranean Sea. My eight month old niece was there and we looked forward to playing with her every day. I took my boys to see Jeita Grotto which is nominated to be of the new Seven Wonders of the World. Check out the website at . It is absolutely fascinating! We went to water parks, beaches, dinners and kids play areas. I went out with my husband and friends to over-crowded, smoky clubs that played amazing music until four o’clock in the morning. We got up the next day at 8 a.m. and took my boys to the beach. We were there Lebanese style!

I still have a lot of meditating to do!

I realized how much work I still had to do on maintaining my calm though. Driving in Lebanon is extremely stressful. People drive fast and don’t obey any traffic signs. My brother made me laugh when he said that traffic signs and speed limits are merely suggestions of what you need to do. No one is ever given a ticket for anything. People pass you although it’s a blind curve, they may pull up behind you going 90 miles an hour while flashing there lights for you to move over, they may drive the wrong way on a street because it’s more convenient for them, they may park their car anywhere they feel is suitable regardless of how much it congests traffic, should I go on?

Needless to say, I lost my cool more that once while driving. I actually flipped a lady off and went into a cussing rage for a minute or so before realizing that I had two stunned boys sitting in the back seat wondering what just happened to their mother. I realized that the topic of conversation was the traffic anywhere I went for at least the first 15 minutes. I heard of seven fatalities due to speeding while I was there.

At first, people driving nuts and the lack of respect for any lines drove me nuts. I was in line to buy my boys ice cream when a lady steps to the front of the line to buy her groceries. I called her out on it because darn it, I am American and that is just not acceptable. She actually yelled at me saying that all it took was a minute and what’s the big deal. I was somewhat stunned that she actually felt that it was her right to do so. It actually took me over an hour to get my son a burger at the water park because so many cut the line in front of me. That’s the kind of stuff that sends me over the edge.

I eventually did take a chill pill

I have blogged about my boundary contract several times before. While in Lebanon I realized that “boundaries” or lack of them, I should say, is everywhere. People stand really close to one another, they have no problem smoking and puffing in your face, it’s totally cool to cut any line and so on. However it’s the lack of boundaries that makes a security officer hold my sleeping son while I’m going through security to help me out. And the same quality that makes people go out of their way to invite you over for dinner and not take no for an answer. Lebanese people in general are warm, caring and loving. While at the airport, an older gentleman went and got my boys some water because he felt bad for them.

I had to take a chill pill and realize that this is a country that has been through decades of war and if the by-product was a little bit of chaos, well then that’s a big so what. I told my cousin, it’s easy for me to be calm and centered in Colorado, the challenge is to maintain in amongst the chaos. Clearly I failed. It always has to start with me. I’ll bet if I didn’t let the traffic get to me so much, I wouldn’t have had as many instances with it.

I love Lebanon!

It’s good to be home, but I miss Lebanon; I miss my family, I miss my friends, I miss the late-night dinners, I miss the beaches and water parks and I miss the great food at every street corner. I love everything about Lebanon. I do have to say that I don’t miss the chaos of driving. The next time I go back which hopefully will be really soon, I will start off with a better attitude. Hopefully, I’ll be able to maintain my “Colorado calm” throughout the entire stay.

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Back to meditating!