Choose Happiness

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This time last year I was unhappy. I had a boyfriend, a good job, and an amazing group of friends – really, no excuse for unhappiness. But the smallest things – sometimes nothing at all – would bring me to tears. All. The. Time. It was a lonely and unsettling experience. Was I depressed? Maybe. Longing for the familiarity of home during the holiday season? Probably. Missing my mom as the anniversary of her death loomed? Definitely.

So I did what Cancerians are best known for: I hid in my shell. I locked the world away. And I thought. I thought “long and hard”, as my mom used to say, about what I needed to be happy and what I would change to achieve that.

I made just one change.

I told myself “choose happiness”. It was that simple. It was my decision to be exactly where I was in my life and no one else’s, and there was nothing in my surrounding environment that would make me happier if it was different. So I decided to wake up every day and find things to be grateful for and give thanks for everything I have.

It was incredible how quickly things changed. I felt lighter. I couldn’t stop smiling. I was energized. I set new goals. I developed habits to bring more positivity into my life wherever I could.

Sometimes we want so desperately for the World to create the idyllic setting for us that we forget how much control we have over our own reality. This year taught me that I CAN steer the direction of my destiny and happiness. And I haven’t looked back.

Choose happiness.

Xo,
L

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My Bouncing Baby Girl

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Millions of people around the world work in hospitality but only a few ever have the opportunity to open a hotel, and even fewer a luxury property. I feel fortunate that I have had the opportunity to open two in as many years.

To put it in perspective for non-hoteliers, it’s like having a baby. The pregnancy is often long – usually extending far past your due date; there is always extra weight gained; you become consumed (whether you want to or not) in the finite details of the pregnancy and unless your other friends have “kids” (are hoteliers), nobody really understands what you’re going through.

Then the labour begins. It’s painful – LORD, is it painful! Particularly when you have 120 grandparents that fly in from all over the world to help you through your labour, offering parenting advice all the while (usually conflicting). You don’t sleep for 10 days, you barely eat, and a trip to the loo by yourself is considered luxurious “me” time. You’re having to report in several times a day on exactly how the baby is progressing, how it is positioned, and if the vitals are strong.

Then before you know it the day has come, everyone is cheering you on and with one final push – your baby has arrived! Despite your sleep deprivation, you are elated! And so very, very proud for you have delivered the most beautiful baby in the world! Only now do you realize your lengthy pregnancy (11 months in my case) and all the sacrifices you have made, are worth it.

Your baby will most definitely have hiccups, it might even squawk. You will be at the beck and call of your baby 24/7 for the next couple years. But despite all these things, you love your baby and could not be prouder.

Friends, please meet my bouncing baby girl – officially welcomed into this world on March 12, 2013.

Exterior of The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal

My Meaning of New Year’s Day

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One thing that many people, even close friends, do not know about me is that my Mom passed away on New Year’s Day.  So not only does this day turn the page and start a new chapter in the Book of Life, but for me it is also a time to reflect on who I am, who I want to be, and if my Mom would be proud of this person sitting here today.  It’s a very humbling time, one that makes me re-evaluate life and helps me to centre myself again.

I’ve never been one for New Year’s resolutions however as life seems to be passing so quickly by, this year I’ve decided to set some goals.  Some are simply reminders of how I want to live my life and some are more quantitative, but all of them are the most important things that Lynn needs in 2013.  Here they are:

THIS IS YOUR DREAM – love every moment of it

BELLY LAUGH AND BEAR HUG

THE PRIZE IS AT THE TOP – fight for it like there’s nothing more important and there is no tomorrow

BREATHE

GET FOUR NEW PASSPORT STAMPS

PLAY

DO HEADSTAND EVERY DAY – and gain a new perspective

BE GRATEFUL

CHOOSE HAPPINESS

MAKE MOM PROUD

I wish endless love, health and happiness to all of you in 2013, and always.
x,
L

I’m a Mom!

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Ok, not exactly a mom. But tonight was a monumental moment when I fostered two wee kitties from Feline Friends. This wonderful organisation rescues abandoned and injured cats from the streets of Abu Dhabi, gets them healthy again, and tries to find ‘forever homes’ for them. Volunteers can also help by fostering them – providing a safe and loving environment – until they are adopted.

Visit www.felinefriendsuae.com for more information.

In the meantime, say hello to my foster fur-babies Lexi and Rubix.

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41 Years Young – National Day in UAE

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December 2nd marks the 41st National Day of the United Arab Emirates.  In a culture that is so rich with tradition and customs, the celebrations seem to be (in typical UAE fashion) more about personal pomp than national pride.

Dubai police have gone so far as to ban ‘Car Parades’ (one of the most popular ways to celebrate National Day according to The National newspaper).  These parades, whereby tributes to the UAE leaders and national flag are flaunted in engine-revving fashion, are really just an obnoxious display of wealth and arrogance, not to mention a dangerous one.  So are these antics really how Emiratis choose to celebrate their great nation?

At first glance, yes.  When frequenting the popular neighbourhoods of Dubai, such as JBR, and Abu Dhabi it would appear so.  However, if you delve a little deeper and go in search of authentic national pride, it’s everywhere – even in some surprising places – whether it’s a SMS of thanks and blessings that went out to every citizen and resident of UAE from His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai (I got one on both mobiles), in the shopping centres, or as I discovered, even at the zoo.  I decided to venture out-of-town to Al Ain, a small city in the Abu Dhabi Emirate, and was pleasantly surprised to see a grassroots celebration in which the elders shared dance, song and even a history challenge with the children.

So while the celebration of customs and culture of the United Arab Emirates is anything but typical on National Day, it’s really rather fitting for a nation that is young, rambunctious, and ever so proud.

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Have Mat, Will Om – Yogathon 2012

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This past Friday I attended a type of event which is far too rare in UAE – a Yogathon.  The event invited yogis and yoga-newbies alike to complete 108 sun salutations together at the base of the famous Burj Khalifa, as a fundraiser for the Dubai Autism Centre.

I’m always keen to participate in any yoga event I can so I was thrilled to see this one scheduled on my day off and for such a good cause as well.  Friday morning I made the trek to Dubai and met up with my friend and all-time favourite yoga teacher Liz Terry to get our bend on.  It was great to see the turn out really was a mix of experience levels, and also that it became a big family event.  I have to admit though, I was a wee bit nervous about completing the 108 sun salutations (the event was scheduled for 3 hours!).

While quite simple in execution, I actually really love sun salutations – especially first thing in the morning.  Not only does it get your blood flowing but they also get all the kinks out of your muscles and your back.  So why 108 sun salutations?  Well, apparently the number 108 has long been considered a sacred number.  There’s always something to learn in yoga. 🙂

The first hour was hot – about 35C – but we soon got into a rhythm and despite the lumpy grass, it was an incredible location.  I felt so grateful for every breath I took as I stretched up to the bright blue sky and the towering Burj Khalifa – the 108 salutations flew by quickly.

Two days later, I feel like I could use another Yogathon – or at least a class – to stretch my tender muscles.  But I know I’ll be there next year, doing it all over again. Om.

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x,
L

Quick Escape to Umm al-Quwain

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If you have never heard of Umm al-Quwain then I’ll forgive you because up until two weeks ago, neither had I.  Umm al-Quwain is the lesser known of the seven emirates which make up the United Arab Emirates (yes, there are more than just Dubai and Abu Dhabi) and the second most Northern.

A friend of mine had suggested an overnight trip to Umm al-Quwain (UAQ) to go on a Crab Hunting Safari, which is – apparently – what people go to UAQ to do.  Luckily I was able to get out of stabbing myself some dinner after doing a little research and discovering there is also a waterpark there.  With only one day off work, there was only enough time for one activity – phew!

Through Cobone we found a deal for a hotel with dinner and breakfast included, as well as tickets to Dreamland waterpark, for dirt cheap.  A three-star hotel, The Pearl was quite basic and seemed to only have us and a massive Arab family as guests which made for an interesting experience.  The restaurant was empty both times we used it yet the others suddenly materialized in the wee hours and seemed to think it a fantastic idea to lounge outside our patio door until the sun came up, BBQ-ing, laughing loudly, and smoking shisha.  Not the rest and recharge I was hoping for but what to do.  I haven’t been to a waterpark for about 15 years (yes, it’s true) so I actually had a fun, albeit pretty relaxed, time at Dreamland and the 40C sunshine was perfect.

If you decide to make the trip to UAQ, proceed with caution, and with a GPS, as the worst drivers in UAE seem to congregate around Sharjah and Ajman and there is absolutely no signage along the way.  I definitely won’t say it is the place to go for a luxurious getaway or the most modern, thrilling waterpark however if you want a change of scenery, then take a little drive to Umm al-Quwain.  The journey there was surprisingly pretty. Enjoy!

xo,
L

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Going Postal

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According to Wikipedia, the term “Going Postal” means becoming extremely and uncontrollably angry, often to the point of violence, and usually in a post office or other workplace environment.

While I am far from reaching this stage, many Dubai residents can tell you about their endless list of unusual and frustrating procedures and events that occur in the UAE when the same process is so simply in every other country.  Here is my recent example:

I wanted to mail a letter home.  I finally found a post office (the first time in my 2 years in UAE), went inside where I learned that I had to take a number and queue.  When I finally got to the counter, I was told that I could certainly buy my single stamp but they were unable to mail it for me.  At the post office.  It’s up to you to locate a post box outside and mail your letter, which not only adds an extra step for me but I think it’s safe to assume they need to hire somebody to now collect, deliver and sort this mail.

Oh, Dubai – so advanced but so archaic.

xo,
L

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