Sunday, January 15, 2017

Manifesting Change

"Calling it In from the Universe"

As part of my goal setting process at the beginning of this year, I reviewed the materials I assembled during my three entrepreneurial coaching programs offered by Christine Kane.  One of her workbook tools asked me to answer this question: "What will you have created/manifested/attracted in the upcoming year? The tool asked me to list ten things.

I must have filled out this "intention and clarity" tool during the February 2015 retreat in Asheville, North Carolina.  At that time, I had applied for the job at Qatar University, but I did not have a job offer. I had visited Dubai in December 2014, and I knew I wanted a job in the Arab Gulf region.  

Here is what I put on the list:
  • New circle of close colleagues.
  • New circle of expat friends.
  • Inroads into Qatari culture.
  • Travel in Asia.
  • New fitness level.
  • New home furnishings.
  • New car,
  • New student relationships.
  • New diet.
  • More cultural life. 
So let me tell you what did manifest in my life this past year.

New Colleagues:

I am now a member of the faculty of the Qatar University College of Law. That faculty is four times the size of ASL's law faculty. My colleagues have lived in all parts of the world; pursued education in prestigious universities in the US, England, and elsewhere; speak two or more languages; practice law in civil, common, and mixed law systems; bring a global perspective to teaching; can talk about international laws, treaties, and conventions with ease; and welcomed me into their intellectual arms.  Most of them have Ph.Ds, so I'm the dumb one in the bunch. 

New Expat Friends:

It always takes time to make new friends, but here, I just listen for a US, English, Canadian, Australian, or New Zealand accent.  If I find a person with that accent, I invite him or her to my next "beach house party."  

I love the different experiences they bring into every conversation. I will be sad when they rotate home, but then I will just have to make more friends.  Also, my book club consists of strong, well-educated women who provide another safe harbor here.

Qatari Culture:

I am still learning how to navigate this "high context" culture. 

kissed a puppy when I was invited by a student to her farm. In doing so, I made a very big cultural mistake, and I knew it while I was doing it. Even so, I needed the puppy love. Most people in the Arab countries do not keep dogs as inside pets. They do keep them outside as work or guard dogs. Blogger Daniel Pipes has one theory about this dislike for dogs, but my research shows various explanations and not much agreement.

I wore the wrong thing to a student's engagement party.  I was miserably under-dressed.   

I've learned to ask more questions.  I wore the right thing to a recent student's wedding, but had to ask someone about every element of the all-women event, including when I should go home.  

I am reading books on Islam, because it plays an important role in the Qatari culture.  I recently finished a book on fatwas for women, a 1996 book published in Saudi Arabia.  It gave me deeper insight into the lives of my women students.

I talk to my students and ask them about their lives as young women living here. 

Not speaking Arabic makes me miss out on many things, but I do know a handful of words.

Travel in Asia:

I was a bit surprised to see this item on the list.  But, I have always wanted to travel to Thailand.  I spent two weeks there this past summer.  It exceeded all my expectations.  

Later this week, I am off to Malaysia and then to Taiwan.

New fitness level:

This week, I started Week 23 of my fitness program.  Last week, Heidi (my accountability buddy) and I did four sets of wall squats for 60 seconds each. When we started the program in July, we could do 20 seconds each.  That is tangible progress.

New home furnishings:

In April, I moved into a housing complex called Qanat Quatier in The Pearl.  The complex is built to look like Venice, Italy.  It has a private beach on the Arabian Gulf and an increasing number or restaurants and shops. A gym opened this past month. A yoga studio should open soon.

My sun-filled, top-floor, one bedroom apartment is smallish, but sufficient.  I have a nice balcony and two bathrooms.

When the University's housing department told me I would be moving there, I immediately began scouting home furnishings fit for a beach house.  I just love it.

I am right across the street from the Porto Arabia harbor, with its yachts, shops, restaurants, paddle board outfitters, and walkways.

New car:

I did leave my new car behind in Grundy under the care of my personal assistant, Brenda.

Here, I rely on a driver, Ashif, to get me through the chaotic and dangerous Doha traffic. I love leaving all the stress to him.  I told him this week, that I am starting to act like a baby. As soon as I crawl into the back seat, I start to yawn. Maybe in a few months, I'll start napping in the car.

New student relationships:

I recently posted about how much I love my Qatari students. I feel honored to be working with them knowing that they are the future leaders of Qatar's legal community.

New diet:

Can you say shawarma, lamb kebab, beef kofta, baba ghanoush, fatoush, kebbeh, dates, pomegranate seeds, labneh, mezze, lentil soup, matboha, hummus, and taboulah?

I do love Arabic food as long as it does not involve a lot of rice, sweets, or sugary beverages.  That limitation still leaves a lot of high-flavor foods, including many grilled meats. 

One of my favorite drinks is a lemon-mint (sans sugar syrup). 

People often offer you cardamon-flavored Arabic coffee as a sign of hospitality. They serve it out of a long-lipped pot into small handle-less cups.

More cultural life:

I like being back in a city with more cultural offerings, including live music, museum exhibits, festivals, tennis tournaments, camel racing, and other events, including a spring beauty contest for sheep.

This past week-end, I returned to the Museum of Islamic Art to view an exhibit of Chinese art and sculpture. Outside the museum, mostly Asian expats had stalls full of crafts and street food. 

I also love exploring the souk.


So, bam!  I made it all happen.  This is not Grundy, Virginia.  

Now, what goes on the list for 2017?

* I have permission from the people shown in the photographs to use the photos in this post. 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

New Year's Resolutions: The Tricks I Use for Staying on Track

Be Like Jerry Seinfeld

As I get older, I think I get better at keeping promises to myself, although as a 7 on the enneagram, it is never easy. As a 7, I run from the pain.  I search for more immediate pleasures rather than the pleasures achieved by meeting a long-term goal.

Some of the promises I want to keep this year are to:
  • Complete two law review articles for publication.
  • Exercise four times a week with my accountability buddy, Heidi.
  • Blog at least once a week.
  • Complete research on the status of ADR in the Arab Gulf region.
  • Eat and drink more mindfully in a way that supports my health.
  • Save more money now that I am through my transition to Doha.
  • Learn to speak Arabic.
I need a few gimmicks (aka strategies) to help me keep those promises. I've collected many of them in a book I like to call my coaching journal.  It keeps the highlights from various self-help books I have read since moving to Doha. Right now, it houses tips from:

I read through the journal again this week.  I plan to read through it once a week this coming year. 

I've talked about some of the ideas and tips about personal growth, goal setting, and taking steps to reach those goals herehere, here, here, herehere, and especially here. In fact, when I went back through my blog archive, I found goal achievement a recurring theme. 

The comedian, Jerry Seinfeld, used one of my favorite tricks to become a success. He called it: "Don't Break the Chain."  He ensured that he wrote jokes everyday -- not necessarily good jokes every day, but enough better jokes that his production far exceeded the joke-writing efforts of other struggling comedians.

Jerry used a year-long calendar system that kept him accountable and motivated.  He bought a calendar showing all 12 months of the year, affixed the calendar to a prominent wall, found a red marker, and then marked a big X through every day on which he wrote jokes.

Seinfeld explained:  "After a few days you'll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You'll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain." 

In my next post, I will talk more about Gretchen Rubin's tips on building good habits.