Monday, December 31, 2012

Making Space

The packing for my move out of my lovely home in Williams Lake, BC and to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia has commenced.  And with packing comes purging.  I've moved A LOT in my lifetime.  Fifteen times in the last 14 years to be exact.  This time I'm noticing myself doing the most purging that I've ever done.  Sofa and loveseat, gone.  Dressers and shelves, gone.  Dresses, shoes, pants, sweaters, coats, gone.  Books, reports, files, gone.   

the epitome of packing and purging

And, with today being New Years Eve I'm finding myself reflecting on this past year and noticing that I also did a lot of purging in and around my life in general.  It essentially stemmed from a new perspective I took after reading a blog entry by one of my favourite inspirational business women, Danielle LaPorte.  She wrote about The Divine Law of the Ugly Chair which, in a nutshell, is about the idea of getting rid of the old (i.e. an ugly chair) and making way for the new.  She talks about how, "letting go makes way for something closer to your truth…which is always more beautiful. Always.  Making space signals the universe that you’re ready for ideal…or at the very least, much improved.  Making space expands your being and clarifies (and dare I say, actually minimizes) your needs.  The Divine Law of the Ugly Chair applies as much to furniture and stuff as it does to lovers, jobs, and thought forms.  Because: Going without, and holding out, is much better than selling out. Always."

One of my biggest and most painful purges this year was my decision to leave the world of horses for a while.  My beautiful and amazing horse, Sky, was diagnosed with Navicular Syndrome and so I decided it was in her best interest to stop training and competing with her.  It was the catalyst to me deciding that it was time for me to move away from my commitment to expanding my skills in horseback riding and turn towards other dreams, such as traveling and experiencing life beyond the world in which I was currently living.  It was an extremely hard decision to make as I have been completely immersed in horses in some form or another since I was a child.  I had been married to the sport of horseback riding.

Sky at her finest

 My gut was telling me it was time to divorce myself from that world, if only for a little while, in order to allow myself the space and time to experience other things that this lovely life of mine could offer.  So, what happened as a result?  I started biking, A LOT.  And with biking came new and amazingly wonderful friends, travel to new places with new and challenging biking trails, and a chance to recognize that I can grow in ways (both mentally and physically) that I never imagined possible.  But biking wasn't the only thing that leaving the horse-world for a while has done for me.  If I had still been committed to riding horses like I was before Sky was diagnosed with Navicular Syndrome I can guarantee that I never would have applied for the job in Saudi Arabia.  Taking away the drive and ambition I had to ride and compete with horses here in BC opened up my life to the possibility of leaving and testing the waters of international living.

At the top of Two Sisters Mtn.; one of many biking adventures with amazing friends.

I can also guarantee that I wouldn't have applied for work in Saudi Arabia if I hadn't have purged my habits and ways of doing things.  Danielle LaPorte had a part to play in that area as well.  She wrote about "a testimony to your future" and it spoke to me.  She said, "Usually we want to do more of what got us to where we are. There is safety in repetition. Familiarity, best practices, proven techniques."  This was so true of me.  I had gotten pretty darn far in my life by being structured and disciplined and, essentially playing the role of the Type A personality.  It was time for me to let go of that and experiment with a different way of being.  As Danielle said, "I think the Bright Future craves more daring from us."  For the sake of my desire to see what else is possible for me, I purged structure and discipline and the need to control.  So, what happened as a result?  I learned what it meant to flow with life, I learned to trust that all things work out in the end and that everything that happens has a reason, and it's always a positive one when it's all said and done.  I saw that, when I let go of trying to control where my life is heading, new and amazing opportunities that I could never have imagined happening to me come along and embrace me.  Just look at this new life in Saudi Arabia that I'm heading to.  There is no way that I EVER would have put something like this on my "bucket list".  Who needs a bucket list when life brings to me any number of experiences that I never would have thought possible?  And beyond that, if I was living my life the way I had in the past would I have actually even sent my CV to the family in KSA?  It's highly doubtful.  Jumping into a world of unknown is not what a controlling person with a Type A personality does.  By embracing the flow of life and recognizing the positive things that happen when I trust life to bring me what I need the most, I've given myself the ability to leap with the knowledge that the net, most certainly, will appear.

I think that, with all the ugly chairs I got rid of this year, I made space for SO MANY amazing things. Biking, new friends, experiencing parts of British Columbia that only a select few people venture out to see, new outlooks and perspectives on life and how to live it, and of course this amazing opportunity to work and expand my career and my experiences while living in Saudi Arabia.

In Joy,

What Boat Do You Need To Burn?  A Testimony to Your Future

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Dive in! The Unknown's Fine!

I've had a lot of people send me lots of notes of congratulations and kudos since I found out that I got a new fantastic job and am moving to Saudi Arabia.  The first thing I want to say about that is THANK YOU SO MUCH, EVERYONE.  I can't express enough how much that support has meant to me.

The second thing I'd like to mention is how, along with so many congratulatory messages, there were a lot of notes that expressed how brave and courageous many of you felt I was.  It got me thinking...

When I was at the beginning of this adventure I never really thought doing something like this was a courageous act.  I can see that from some other people's perspectives it could be seen that way, but it never occurred to me that it was courage that was pushing me to move to Saudi Arabia.  To be honest, I was riding a wave of excitement with the idea of diving into a world of unknowns.  I've become the type of person who thrives with change.  I like to think it's a life-based-generalized-version of Hyperactivity Disorder.  I can sit still, yes, but I can't live still.   

With change comes the unknown.  And oh, how I love the unknown!  Not knowing is one of the most wonderful gifts this universe has given us.  "I don't know" is a phrase that needs to be spoken with love and passion and excitement.  For, when we accept not knowing, we get out of our own way and allow the universe to surprise us with amazing things and circumstances that we didn't even know we wanted, that we didn't even know we needed.  In other words, when you don't know what's going to happen the possibilities are endless!

 Beastie Boys - "I Don't Know"

Is moving to a brand new country, with a completely different culture, working in an overwhelming environment involving strict protocol and professionalism scary?  You bet your ass it's scary.  I've had a few mini-breakdowns already.  Just ask my best friends Malgosia and Megan.  They witnessed a couple and God love 'em for being awesome knowing exactly how to bring me back on track and for reminding me that I will find friends that share my interests, I am in fact a competent S-LP, and I will be able to adapt to the culture.  So, okay, maybe you could say I'm courageous since, according to the Oxford dictionary:

But I'm not doing this to prove to myself that I have courage.  Really, I'm doing it because I like to watch my life change and grow and to also see myself change and grow.  The only way to grow is to challenge myself - step out of my comfort zone and try new things or do things in a different way.  When I do that, and I'm patient with myself, and I forgive myself during times that I stumble, I find that I'm learning and becoming a better person.  It's like when I'm biking.  Sure, I could happily meander my way down the hill and skip all the trail features that come along, but that just gets boring.  Instead, I accept the fact that by trying out the cool jumps and the freaky drops I will be scared, I will fall, I will get bruises, I will hurt my pride, but I will also accept that things are always a little rough before they get better.  Before I know it I find myself catching air and doing drops and feeling like a million bucks for persevering.  I can't get enough of that feeling of accomplishment, the knowledge that I can do something super cool that I couldn't do yesterday, that wholehearted adrenaline rush that makes me want to jump in the air and freeze frame the scene.
Stepping out of my comfort zone and challenging myself is SO worth the benefits.  I'm serious, if you haven't done it you have to try it!  It doesn't have to be anything big either.  I didn't go from a skinny girl growing up in New Waterford to suddenly jetting off to Saudi Arabia.  I did it in small steps of mild discomfort all the while trusting that it would always work out in the end.  It only takes a little fear to understand how strong you are and what you’re capable of.  And once you feel that rush, it's like a cocaine just have to have it again.  Totally worth it!

"Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself." --Unknown

In Joy,

**Disclaimer - Not that I've ever had a cocaine high.  I've just read a lot about the effects it has on the brain.  So it's okay, Dad, you don't have to worry  :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Saudi Arabia?? Seriously?

Yes, that is in fact correct.  I am moving to Saudi Arabia.

Why?  I've been given a crazy awesome opportunity to work with a wealthy Saudi family, one member in particular being an adorable child who needs a little help from a speech language pathologist.  

I can't go into details in that realm of things due to confidentiality agreements.  What I can tell you is that I received an e-mail from the national association for S-LPs with a job posting for a position in Saudi Arabia approximately two months ago.  I thought about submitting a resume for the position off and on until the deadline passed.  At that time I happened to meet a friend of a friend who was familiar with Saudi Arabia and who managed to convince me that it's too good of an opportunity to not at least try for (thanks, Yaseen!).  So, I submitted my resume four days late thinking that nothing would come of it and I would continue to enjoy my lovely and fun-filled life in BC.  

The universe had other plans for me.  About 2 weeks after submitting my resume I received an e-mail telling me that I was one of 8 successful applicants for the job and asking if I could interview for it the next day.  Here's how my schedule went from then on:
Monday, Nov 26: E-mail requesting interview #1 received
Tuesday, Nov 27: First interview
Tuesday, 2 hours later: E-mail saying I was one of four successful applicants to make the cut and would I be interested in a second interview.
Thursday, Nov 29: Second interview with the CEO of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, (intimidated, yes...the interview on the other hand was super casual, with Dr. P asking me things such as, "So, what does your mother think of all this?"  I instantly loved him.).
Saturday, Dec 1: E-mail saying that Dr. P was recommending me as well as one other applicant to the family for a third interview.
Monday, Dec 3: E-mail asking me to interview the next day with who I thought was going to be the family's  physician.
Tuesday, Dec 4:  Interview with Dr. F who turned out to not be the family's physician after all.  Instead, she was a super experienced S-LP and educational consultant with a Ph.D and a seriously extensive CV.  Let's just say that I was definitely kicking my ass that I didn't do at least a Google search before I had this interview....bad, bad Bonnie for not doing her research!  This was the time to be intimidated.
Friday, Dec 7:  Asked to fly to Boston to meet Dr. F and the family for a final interview/meeting.
Saturday, Dec 8:  Off to Boston via the red-eye.  FYI, always take a pillow with you when flying on a red-eye.  No sleep was had for the 9.5 hour trip.
Sunday, Dec 9: Arrive at the amazing 5-star Hotel that the family was staying at and at which I was to stay, courtesy of the family.  Attempt to sleep in preparation for my initial meeting with Dr. F.  Minimal success.  Then a phone call comes from Dr. F indicating that, not only am I meeting with her, but I am also meeting the matriarch of the family.  You'd think that I would've been intimidated by this.  Maybe it was a good thing that I was exhausted because I really don't think the strong matriarch factor registered.  Once at the meeting I quickly realized that this was going to have little resemblance to an interview, and instead was a meeting to talk about what the family wanted from me when it came to working with their son/grandson.  Somehow in this discussion, amongst my slow-moving-oh-so-tired mind, it dawned on me that I had already gotten the job.  Didn't have much time to think about that, though, because I was soon introduced to the little boy's parents and then taken up to their room to meet the little boy himself.  P.S. He's ADORABLE!
Monday, Dec 10:  Get my only real glimpse of Boston during a run through the city, past the Boston Public Library, multiple gorgeous churches, Cheers, and a ridiculous number of statues depicting famous American historical figures, through the botanical garden, and along the Charles River.  Back in the best hotel I've ever experienced I meet Dr. F for breakfast and quickly realize that she is indeed a kindred spirit.  She will be my programming supervisor and I become well aware of the fact that she will not only support me through my work with the little boy, but she will also be my life-boat when it comes to moving to Riyadh and becoming acclimatized to Saudi culture.  I love her.  Dr. F and I get down to business talking about my contract for a couple of hours; she heads off to talk to the family about contract details; I go to my room to have lunch; lunch is delivered; I get about four spoonfuls of amazing tomato soup in my belly and two sips of the most delicious latte I've ever tasted then a phone call comes to meet Dr. F and the little boy's aunt to discuss the contract further.  For the next 5 hours we finalize my contract, determine Visa requirements, e-mail an official letter from the family to the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Ottawa, receive my travel reimbursement from the family in the form of way too much cash to be sensibly carried on my person, talk with the man who will be my God-send of a liason with everything related to the family and Saudi culture, go to Barnes & Noble with the little boy and his loving entourage to buy him a small mountain of books, play with the little boy in his room and come to realize that he is going to be a complete blast to work with, continue discussion on my contract, confirm that I will be leaving on January 15th, make a to-do list that includes creating a list of any and all items to be ordered for the little boy's therapy room, and finally get back to my room to finish my now cold (yet still delicious) soup and my wilted salad.  I will definitely be working for my money!  Oh, and if you're wondering how much money they'll be paying me...let's just say it's enough.  Considering the money and then adding to it the places I will travel to with the family (all expenses covered), the fantastic opportunities to learn amazing things from Dr. F, and the experience of living in a country that the majority of people in the world aren't even allowed to enter, I can confidently say this this is THE opportunity of a lifetime. 
Tuesday, Dec 11: Sit in the Boston airport and write a summary blog post that doesn't even come close to explaining the crazy whirlwind of experiences that I've had in almost exactly two weeks.  And, also stop myself from breaking down in tears because I am absolutely amazed at how lucky and blessed I am to have been given this gift of a life that just keeps getting better and better and better.

I plan on keeping up with blogging about my experience in Saudi Arabia.  I promise to be more reflective and articulate in the rest of the blogs, which will be written in a more rested mental state (I hope).  And I'll also think of a better name for this blog...creativity is not at the forefront of my brain capacities at this particular time (I've since renamed this blog from "I'm What?!!" to it's current name, taken from the lyrics of Jason Mraz's song, "Make It Mine").  If you'd like to continue to hear about what I'm up to go ahead and sign up to follow this blog or send me your e-mail address at and I'll put you on my mailing list that I'm setting up for keeping everyone updated.

Also, I'm going to be missing my BC lifestyle in ridiculous amounts and will want constant reminders of the awesomeness that is the province I now call home.  So, if you know of any fantastic books about BC that can allow me to escape back home for those times when I'm feeling especially homesick, please let me know what they are so I can make regular orders with Amazon to purchase.

While I'm at this, does anyone want or know of someone who would want to open up their home to two fantastic cats for a year?  My darling Jared and Chai will be in need of a home and I'm getting desperate to find one for them.  Even if two of you are willing to take in one of them each, I'd be okay with separating them.  AND, while I'm in asking-for-help-mode, I'm going to have VERY little time to get packed and ready to go (I'm spending 10 days in Ottawa for Christmas with my dearest friend, Malgosia) so, essentially, I only have 3 weeks to get everything done.  HELP!!

Thank you to everyone who played a part in supporting me through the process of getting this job.  You are the ones who kept me living in reality during this surreal experience.

In Joy,