Making Room

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Haven’t blogged here in a minute, but I’ve been microblogging on Twitter (@aunaptural). Figured I’d use this space to expand upon some of my most recent musings. Here’s where it all began…

aunaptural tweet

Two years ago, one of Mr. Glitter’s sisters told me to run far away from him. You know me. Sometimes telling me to stay away from something I really want is a surefire way to make me run directly toward it. She meant well, but I’m hardheaded. Two years ago is when I predicted that he would go back to his Ex-wife. He couldn’t fathom the possibility. I believed it. Two years ago is also when I asked him if he wanted the same things I wanted. He didn’t. I kept trying. He kept trying. It worked for a while and then a little while longer.  And, yet, here we are two years later. When his sister told me to run, I didn’t listen. I thought she was so cold. Today, I realize she was trying to save me. Good lookin’ out, Bee. I get it now, babe.

I can’t lie. Some anger returned after my last post. After a recent event, I allowed the anger to reach a point where it nearly consumed me. Not good. Today I forgive Mr. Glitter and release that anger. I’m no longer interested in trying to decipher why he did what he did then. He loved me the best way he knew how. I forgive him now. I’m no longer interested in trying to figure out why I did what I did then. I loved him the best way I knew how. I forgive me now. I’m grateful for what was – good and bad. I make no apologies for how hard I loved him. That’s me. I’m imperfect and I love hard. I finally accept that about me. I learned how to love with my whole heart, how to be unapologetic about the way I need to be loved in return, how to fall apart and build myself up again. The season of Team Glitter is finally over. I forgive. I don’t do this for his benefit. I do it for mine. I do it because I needed to free up the space he once occupied. I need that space. I need more room to be. To flourish. To grow. To learn. To love.

In this newly freed space, I’m more careful about who I let enter. It’s sacred. It’s a space where I’m the most vulnerable. In this space I’m still learning. I’m learning how to fight fair. How to argue and disagree with kindness and love. How to be patient. How to relinquish control. How to recognize when I’m being unreasonable – and try my hardest not repeat my mistakes. I’m learning how to see the glass as half full. I’m learning to consider the best case scenario. I’m learning honesty. I’m learning that the default needs to be communication – not radio silence and retreat. I’m still learning to trust – myself and others.

In this newly freed space, I’m free to exist in whatever fashion I please. In this space, I dance and sing and cry and scream and float and tumble. There’s plenty of room. In this space I’m allowed to be both beautiful and ugly. In this space I’m a champion and I fuck up royally. In this space I make amends. I accept flaws and eschew the unrealistic quest for perfection. I forgive. In this space I accept and support. This space is possible only because I’ve allowed it to be so. In this space, I’ve surrounded myself with so much love for all of me. In this space, I’m also making room – preparing, if you will – to love another again. 🙂

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Today I Am OK

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There are 5 stages of loss and grieving. With the help of a great therapist, family members and friends who loved the life back into me, Beyonce’s Lemonade, Kirk Franklin’s Losing My Religion, and a bit of time, I have been through them all.

  1. Denial & Isolation – “He can’t be serious. Nope. He’ll change his mind.”
  2. Anger – “Who the fuck does he think I am?”
  3. Bargaining – “If only I had… What if we..?”
  4. Depression – “I am not OK!”
  5. Acceptance – “Let it be. I’m done.”

I can say that this was not an easy process, and I’m still in the throws of full Acceptance. Oddly enough, I had to cycle through some stages a few times before I got to the final stage. I cried myself to sleep. I cancelled all my plans. I finally allowed myself to be angry. I saw him again. I was in denial that things had changed. I bargained, then I got angry all over again. I was a sad shell of a person. I saw him again. I wished him well, meant that shit, and drove far away. Slowly. Surely. I am moving forward. Slowly. Surely. I am remembering who I am.

My middle name, Farahah, is a derivative of an Arabic name meaning “joy.” Today I realized that my mother gave me a gift when she named me. You see, in the midst of the muck and sadness, I somehow forgot that I, literally, am joy. Me! I am joy. And I am enough. Today I am OK. Today I smile. Today I’m living. Today I can breathe easily. Today I hurt a lot less.Today I am hopeful. Today I can laugh from deep within my round belly. Today I glow. Today I remember that my life is a miracle. Today I am free. Today I am grateful.

 

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Today I’m Not OK

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Three months ago I was asked to come home, be with my love, and let him worry about taking care of us. I thought I was coming home this summer to get engaged – or at least move toward that direction. Today I’m trying to accept that he still wants all of those things, just not with me. He chose someone else. Someone else with whom he has a long history, a child, and much more than I could ever provide because of time and shared experiences. Today I’m trying to be happy that the man I love is making an honest effort to reconcile his broken family. That he is giving his son the much needed opportunity to be raised in a loving, two-parent household after being apart for several years makes me smile. THAT guy? That is the man I fell in love with. I’m trying to be a bigger person. I’m trying to see the bigger picture. I’m trying to be better. I’m not angry. I’m not upset. I don’t feel like I am owed anything. I’m not happy about his choice, but I respect it. I love the life into that man and I just want him to be happy. If being with someone else is his path to happiness, I want him to pursue it relentlessly without looking back. This, I believe, is the purest way for me to show my love. If someone else makes you happier, if someone else is your choice, then I will not protest. I can’t. I don’t even have it in me. His choice isn’t me. My choice is to step aside and let it be.

 

But where the fuck does that leave me? If I told you I figured out a way to cope, I’d be lying. If I told you I was OK with the fact that the man I thought I was going to marry and start a family with has shown me that he doesn’t feel the same way, I’d be lying. The truth is this is a big fucking mess. The truth is that a small part of me is foolishly holding on to the hope that he will return and will dwell in the land of glitter with me forever. Today I’m sitting in an airport lounge waiting to board a flight to a place where the man I love was supposed to pick me up so we could finally do things right. Today I’m trying to keep it together because I’m in public. Today I’m trying to talk myself off of every single ledge. Today I just can’t. I can’t breathe. I can’t smile. I can’t stop crying. Today every single part of me hurts. Today I’d rather be boarding a flight back to my home in Abu Dhabi. Pants off, blackout curtains drawn, under the covers, cut off from the world. I don’t want to be strong anymore. I don’t want to fake it until I make it. I don’t want to do a damn thing. Today I hurt. Today I have all of the fucking feels. Figurative heartache and literal heart pain. Anguish and despair. Gut punched. Nauseous. Fatigued. Drained. It feels like a vital part of me that I need to function is missing – stolen without my knowledge. Today I don’t give a shit about any of the plans I made with friends or family during this vacation. All bets for me being a decent human being are off. Today I am trying to convince myself that this will pass. Today I’m trying not to regret any of it. Today I’m trying to convince myself that there is still life worth living. Today I am not OK. Today I am fighting for my fucking life. I feel like a zombie going through the motions. Boarding pass, driver’s license, seat buckled, takeoff.

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Happy Birthday to Me!

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Today is my 32nd birthday! What did I do? Spoiled myself rotten. I treated myself to a massage and mani/pedi this morning. Then, a few friends threw me a birthday party. It’s Ramadan in the UAE so having a big bashment blowout wasn’t going to happen. Instead, I opted for something more low-key and simple. I was surrounded by some good friends who joined me in getting henna and feasting on Popeye’s fried chicken and sparkling wine. It’s all about balance, folks.

Toward the end of the gathering I opened my big mouth and said, “I would like y’all to give me a makeover.” I’ve gained a crap ton of weight in the last year and nothing truly flattering fits me anymore. This is what friends are for. To say my girls are excited is an understatement. These women are extra giddy about the prospect of making me over. The deal is that they get to go through my closet, overhaul everything, advise me on what to stock up on when I get to proper clothing stores in the USA, and I cannot complain. That last part may be the biggest ask of all. This is what happens when you allow others to help you. You’ve gotta go with it. I’m nervous as hell, but it’s time for a bit of sprucing up. Shallow as it may seem, the saying is true (at least for me): When you look good, you feel good. I’m ready for some more feel good.

I also promised myself that, after 7 years of being in 2 significant relationships, I would finally begin dating again this summer. In the last year I have kept a vow of celibacy and genuinely learned how to enjoy my own company. Conclusion: like everyone else, I’m flawed… but, dammit, I’m pretty awesome. Two of the four ladies have said they would set me up on blind dates. They get one each. This should be… interesting.The last time some friends suggested a guy for me he turned out to be more of a creepy, inconsiderate, oddball in person than any of us could have EVER imagined. While this won’t turn into a dating blog, I may invite you all along for the ride from time time. This is a new year and I’d like to try some things that I haven’t tried in a long while or ever before. Big ups to Shonda Rhimes and her book, Year of Yes, for giving me the courage to give this a go.

 

Wish me luck!

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How I Spent a 6 Hour Layover in Manila

In July 2015 I flew to the Philippines for $0.58 USD (plus extras and fees). The Philippines is made up of thousands of small islands. I chose to spend most of my time in Cebu, but I had a long layover in Manila before I could get to paradise.

Thanks to my prior research I learned that Manila’s NAIA airport is absolutely not entertaining enough to spend 6 hours waiting for a domestic flight that will likely be delayed. I also learned that there is a free shuttle that connected the airport with a nearby casino (Resorts World) and mall (Newport Mall). As if the promise of gambling ( a forbidden activity in the UAE) a bit wasn’t alluring enough, I sweetened the deal by booking an appointment at the spa on the 5th flood of the casino/mall (Island Spa).

When I landed almost 90 minutes later than my scheduled arrival time, I realized there was no way I was going to make my spa appointment, so I got a local sim card to call and reschedule. The sim card was a 7-day plan with unlimited data, 30 minutes of voice calls, and 35 text messages for 540 PHP ($14 USD). Having a local sim comes in handy when booking trips or meeting up with people while on vacation. After I called the spa I quickly went off to the left baggage service. For 200 PHP ($5 USD) my small bag was secure for 3 hours and my load was considerably lightened. I later learned that I could have left my bag at the casino customer service desk for free while I gambled. Oh, well! Live and learn.

Off I went to the Resorts World Casino and Newport Mall. The guy at the left luggage counter told me the free shuttle left from Bay 4. Imagine my surprise when I saw it at Bay 3 instead. I waited for the driver to unload all of the passengers and their baggage when he told me that pickup was actually at Bay 12. “Sir! I hope you’re not gonna leave me since I’m walking to 12 and you’re driving.” He didn’t leave me. Actually, he didn’t even leave Bay 12 for another 10 minutes after I boarded.

Shuttle to Resorts WorldThe ride to the casino area took less than 5 minutes to reach the first stop – Remington Hotel. Anxious to get to the spa, I hopped off and walked down the street to the casino and mall.

I booked a 2 hour massage in a private room with ensuite bathroom so I could wash the travel funk of an overnight flight away. Once showered and relaxed with a yummy cup of ginger tea, the masseuse proceeded to give me the best massage I’ve had outside of Thailand. I felt like a brand new woman when she was done with me. On my way out of the spa I exchanged business cards with a gentleman who gave me a ride back to the airport via his driver. He then sent another one of his drivers to transport me to my AirBnB rental once I landed in Cebu. Niceties like this happened often while I was in the Philippines. Once Filipinos found out I was traveling alone, they did small acts of kindness to make sure I enjoyed my first visit to their country.

I didn’t see much of Manilla that day, but that’s OK. The short time spent away from the airport was just what I needed to start my summer vacation in Asia.

If you have a longer layover in Manila, you can do what I did on my way back from Cebu and visit the Mall of Asia. If shopping isn’t your thing, you can go on a walking tour of the city. If you land in Manila before 7am and have at least 12 hours before your next flight, try hiring a driver for a day trip to Tagaytay. While there you can visit Taal Lake and the beautiful volcano. Whatever you decide to do, please heed my advice. Do NOT stay in the airport. There are plenty of ways to enjoy what Manila and other areas has to offer on a long layover.

 

This post is part of a series on my Philippines vacation. Stay tuned for what’s coming next.

  • Lechon! Good eating in Cebu
  • Spending a day with Filipino Seniors
  • Day trip to Bohol
  • Snorkeling with Whalesharks in Oslob
  • Chasing waterfalls in south Cebu