Winter Sunshine and Other Miracles

I love you, Minnesota, but I have to admit that not wearing socks during the month of January is pretty spectacular.

Sunset on Christmas Day, at The Club.
Sunset on Christmas Day, at The Club.

Plus: No SAD. This is the first winter in at least 13 years that I haven’t had a terrible case of the winter blues, feeling like the month of January was something to survive instead of enjoy.

I would love to report to you all that my expat experience has led to a complete and miraculous life transformation. I would love to report that my teeth are gleaming white, that I’ve lost 25 pounds, that I’ve paid off all my debts, that I’m dating an international superstar with a sexy accent who plans to take me on vacation in Greece, that I’ve won a new car, that I’m constantly going to swanky parties in fancy ball gowns, and that I’ve found the solution to world hunger.

But! I live in the real world, albeit far from my country of origin. Life is extraordinarily ordinary here. I wake up, go to work, come home, eat food, chat with friends and family online, sometimes write or go out for a drink, then go to bed. Moving overseas doesn’t make you into a new person. It just lets you know how YOU you really are. So here is a list of the Michele-sized miracles that make up my daily life.

  1. I’m making friends who are genuine, earnest, and quirky as hell. During a happy hour the other night, I realized that my comfort level still resides with other misfit toys. Be yourself, keep it positive, and eff them if they can’t take a joke.
  2. I have a housekeeper who does my laundry, cooks most of my meals, and keeps my apartment clean. She’s a gem whose efforts afford me time to finally work on those creative projects I have always wanted to work on but haven’t been able to manifest. I’ve never lived in such a clean house or eaten so well. No wonder everyone wants a housewife.
  3. I’m working on creative projects again. Some of them are even collaborative. Jumpin Monks on Pogo Sticks, watch this space.
  4. I love my job. My students are pretty great and the stress level is about 1/3 what I used to have. It makes me feel like I’m getting away with something. All things being equal, my supervisors are pretty pleased with how I’m doing, as well. That doesn’t stop me from suspecting someone is going to pop out from behind a curtain and tell me this is all a dream and that I have to go back to -28F and shoveling snow and sorting through Senior Photos and quotes for the Yearbook again.
  5. I’ve signed up for an improv/stand up comedy class in Dubai that will (hopefully) help me meet more people and get into some performance something around here.
  6. I broke down and signed up for cable TV – because they offered it to me for free – and because evenings at home alone are really darn quiet. Basic cable still sucks, in case you were wondering, but I really like crime shows. I’m evidently a creep.
  7. I went to a Burns Supper at the British Embassy. It was the swankiest party I’ve ever attended. Unfortunately, none of the men in kilts asked me for my number. *sigh* It was a good time.
  8. I haven’t turned into an international jet setter yet, having kept myself firmly planted in the UAE since I arrived 6 months ago, but my sister is coming to visit in March! We are going to visit Petra and The Dead Sea in Jordan. That’s pretty darn exciting.

That’s about all I have for now. Wanted you to all know I’m happy, I’m thinking a lot and I’m trying to stretch my wings a bit. Things are coming together slowly. I’m trying to be patient with myself when it comes to dealing with the inevitable chaos that is Abu Dhabi, and waiting for some perspective before I write too much about what it’s like here. I don’t want to whine. That’s annoying. Once I have the brain space to tell my experiences as funny stories, I’ll fill up the blog with them. Deal?

Miss you all. What’s your latest everyday miracle?

9 thoughts on “Winter Sunshine and Other Miracles”

  1. My latest everyday miracle? I got out of bed and went to work this morning. I wore long underwear, 2 pairs of wool socks, sorel boots, hat, scarf I knitted myself, down coat, pants (yeah, wore pants), shirt, sweater…and made it there and back in something like -20 below windchill. It was sunny out this morning – but when the real temp is -9 it’s a miracle to get me motivated and out the door!
    I liked reading this, it is indeed very bloggy :)

  2. perfectly described: living overseas just does show you yourself, with a lot of other stuff stripped away. Which, of course, is both good and…er….less so. And like you, I find this whole barefoot-in-winter thing utterly delightful. January is usually easy (it’s my birthday month, so there are presents or at least a reason to go to a spa or something), but February usually drove me to the brink. Now? Gosh…maybe I’ll go for a bikeride along the water. And I’ll wear my flipflops. I’ve decided winter should be something one visits … and then leaves.

  3. My latest miracle was that, despite the hurt and heartache that goes along with being left behind by someone you love, I went to my classes and survived them. I went to an Equestrian Club meeting I had thought of attending and clicked with the girls there. I had a first heart to heart with my new roommate. I spent two hours singing, journaling, crying, remembering, and reflecting in the Chapel in my dorm building, then upon the arrival of four other students, I was invited to join in their meditation group where I found some insight and peace amongst the chaos of this week.

  4. As I read this its -13F outside and I’m envying the HELL out of you! I’m so glad all is going well and you’re not regretting the move. You are living my dream. I may get there yet…..or may just enjoy it vicariously through you. Thanks for sharing……..and I’m really glad to hear about the stress level. They’re certainly cranking it up here

  5. Michelle, I am glad you are getting along so well. It’s been a while but… I remember my first months when I moved alone to Mexico City and worked in a school there. You certainly do learn about yourself. You also learn new skills.
    Think of us today at -25 wind chill and light snow. It’s a pleasure learning of your adventure. Sue Morgan

  6. Hi Michele,

    I was wondering if I could ask you a question about your teaching experience in Minneapolis. I didn’t see an e-mail on your website, is there another way to contact you?

    Thanks,
    Ann

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