7 months. Stranger in a strange land continued…

(It’s been 7 months since I’ve seen a pre-fab kite.  I love these handmade kites.  They amaze me!  I could not have done that as a kid.  Or could I have?)

homemade kite

I have been in Ramallah for nearly 7 months.  Last night before bed, my mind was flooded with memories of our arrival here.  The lengthy plane ride, the trip through the strange world of the Jissar (bridge) with it’s bribes, and bizzaro world miniature war going on.  And then the crazy nighttime taxi from the depths of Jericho to the elevation of Ramallah, around hills, twists, and hairpin turns that made my son sick and my knuckles white.  And it all happened so fast.  Then we were walking into this house which I’d been looking at online for months, and my MIL was telling me about the toilets and my kids were getting lost in what seemed like a dozen little rooms  and our voices echoed down strange hallways.  Even the doorbell sounded foreign.  Then we spent 2 weeks sitting at the strange kitchen table at 3am eating crackers and waiting for the jet lag to let us go.  And it’s been a journey of the unfamiliar ever since.

city of hills, sunrise and mist

I realized the other day I haven’t heard the sound of a freeway in 7 months.  Nor have I seen a drive-thru of any kind.  I haven’t seen a house made of wood in 7 months.   I haven’t seen a Target or a WalMart, or any big box store in 7 months, much less the well-paved parking lots that go with such places.  I haven’t seen a handicap parking spot in 7 months.

street sign

I haven’t tuned in NPR in the car or shopped the sales racks at Ross or seen a ride-on lawnmower for 7 months.  I haven’t had Chinese or Thai or  Mexican food in 7 months.  I haven’t seen baby spinach or sprouts or sunflower seeds or a bagel or a single fish stick for 7 months!  No maple trees or robins, and I haven’t seen an indoor cat for 7 months.  It’s been 7 months of the metric system—in Arabic.  For better or worse (certainly both) these last 7 months have been a total departure from the life I knew.

Here are some pictures of life now:

laundry above abu issa, curtains drying over rushhour traffic

laundry above Old Town, drying over rush hour traffic

one of many toy stores

murals are everywhere. I love this one, it's very sweet. This is at one of our favorite parks.

shopping

downtown side street, not sure why this building is torn apart but this is on a main thoroughfare for pedestrians and taxis.

mosque and blue skies

kids playing in vacant lot

Mom Thought For Today:  on love

Laila and Mama

“God, give us love in the time that we have.”- Iron & Wine

I’ve had a wake up call.  My friends, love your children with abandon.  They have their whole lives to experience learning things the hard way, as the world is waiting for them with all its beauty and heartbreak.  But while they still know that you hung the moon and that your kiss magically heals anything, participate.  Hang the moon for them and kiss their bruises.  Look them in the eyes and let your heart meet their heart–which will always be looking for your heart anyway.  Who else do you know in your life that loves you so unconditionally?  We are so lucky to have them, however long that is.

Yoga Thought for Today:  on listening

softening

I recently heard Elena Brower, a yoga teacher, weave into her yoga class the theme of softening the upper body while remaining strong and committed in the lower body.   I found myself able to move with considerably more freedom to breathe when I applied this.  But more importantly she layered in the idea that off the mat if we soften our upper body we are able to “receive” and can be better listeners for our partners, children, and friends.  Being strong and stable in the lower body is to be grounded, which frees us to listen without fear of being overwhelmed by people we interact with.   This is so useful when I am facing a tough interaction.  My son scrunches up his face in the familiar way that means he’s about to lose his cool and I notice I am bracing, too.  My chest is tight, my shoulders are rounded, my face muscles are tense….if I relax all this I suddenly fall right back into my more receptive and gentle self.  And things go much more smoothly.  This is taking yoga off the mat.

city of hills, sunset

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