Category Archives: Blog

What Matters Gets Done

I’m an English teacher. I taught English in the Middle East for thirteen years, eleven of them in Saudi Arabia and two in Qatar. I have travelled all over the region, barring Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and Palestine/Israel. Sadly, circumstances have prevented me from crossing over the borders to reach the people of these countries within their own native lands, though I’ve met many of these fine, impassioned, complex, simple, highly interesting people in Saudi Arabia and Qatar especially, as well as in the UK and elsewhere while travelling, of course.

I have been to Syria in peacetimes, and realise it is a lost world – that. It’s heartbreaking. Today I find myself the English teacher of a British-Syrian young man who is proudly Syrian but equally British in that he has been affected by peers around him. He straddles that line that isn’t quite what some insinuate is ‘Half Caste’ in one of the modern English poems I have studied and taught in this country about the plight of a poet coming from ‘mixed bloodlines’; both of this lad’s parents are Arab. So, he’s not fully Arab anymore, and he’s not a native British son. He has adopted the norms (good and bad) of his homeland with a similar passion he contains for the place of his upbringing, which is now in shambles today. The joy this boy, this young man, exudes (probably because of the appreciation for what he now has) saves him from Continue reading What Matters Gets Done

Failure…or is it?

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Ever failed to land a job, keep a lover, secure your future, grow your finances, please others who are dependent upon you? Ever failed to keep the house clean, get rid of the clutter, cancel the unnecessary incomings? Ever failed to show up for a friend’s wedding shower, baby shower, moving day, invitation to a party? Ever failed to take the garbage out on time, walk the dog before an ‘accident’, pay the bills and avoid the alarm bells that ring when things are not tended to? Ever failed to sleep enough, dress right, keep your cool, smile under pressure, leave when you should have, stay when you should have, sort out the sortings that need sorting? Failure is a funny, funny notion. Ever fail to lose weight, exercise, cook a soup when you said you would, mail the post on time? Ever fail to reciprocate to the neighbours? Ever fail to call home and write to your best friend? Failure is all around us.

But is it failure? Continue reading Failure…or is it?

Why I love to sit in the front row

Why I love to sit in the front row…

The view is spectacular. The sound is best. You feel the energy. There is no distraction. The message is direct – you receive it. If you’re lucky, you get picked.

What do I mean by this?

Why do some people run for the front row at a concert but sit at the back in class?

Once, I walked into a songwriting class at Berklee College of Music, arguably one of the best music schools in the world Continue reading Why I love to sit in the front row


I decided to personalise my Google+ ‘About’ section and talk about what it was like for me to grow up in the country…and how that influenced my pursuit of an international lifestyle.

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Everything you want is on the other side of fear. JFDI.

I grew up in the country, the daughter of two Canadian farm kids whose parents immigrated from Europe (England/Holland and Hungary/Ukraine). My parents built the house I grew up in. My dad worked on the oil rigs of Northern Canada for some of my life. My mother grew beautiful gardens and, with my father, raised my sister and me.  Continue reading Google+

Delight in the Innocence

This is a gift worth saving and sharing on with a friend. So, I’m doing it here and now for you. Will you share it with someone you love? 

Kayden + Rain from Nicole Byon on Vimeo.

There is sadness in the world today. There is never enough money, time, love, joy…and the examples are many.

I know a sensitive boy who misses his home and his friends. There is nothing his parents can do. They do what they can and this doesn’t change the fact that this boy, now a teen, soon to be a young man, misses his best friends and the sense that he belongs somewhere. His home is where he is not. It is anywhere but where he is. As a long-time traveller, expatriate and now migrant, I understand the feeling. You feel trapped, and you are, in your mind and for real.

Without money, Continue reading Delight in the Innocence


Stop. Listen. What do you hear? What do you want to hear? What do you actually hear? The pace of life is frenetic. Stop and listen. Simply stop and listen.

Morning comes like the night ends. Repeatedly. Ritualistically. Regardless of whether you welcome it or reject it. Morning comes. You have a choice: Continue reading Listen

2014 – Part I

The future appears in fragments. Fragments of my imagination come through in this attempt to divine an answer to the question I ask. What do I want? What do I really, really want? Continue reading 2014 — Part I

Way To Start A New Year – Write Your ‘Rulins’

Woody Guthrie’s Rulins – Resolutions for the New Year •

Or write a ‘Manifesto’. Brilliant ideas here from Alexandra Franzen.

Or begin your ‘Life Binder‘, idea compliments of Michelle Rohr of the Secret Owl Society’. Yeah. So there. Just get creating.

And Happy New Year!

How Do You Take Your Corners?

There is a blind spot before you turn most corners. You have to turn to see what’s coming ahead, and it is not always possible to know. There might be a wall in the way. There might be something unforeseen moving in your direction, and that might be good, very good, beautiful even. Or it might not be. It might be hard, harder than you expect, too hard to manage. Except you always do manage, somehow.

Fear is a funny thing, akin to worry. Continue reading How Do You Take Your Corners?

What courage looks like

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“My dear friends in Lebanon…who were the first Arabs to welcome me to life in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, and who taught by example: tremendous integrity, simplicity in living, passion, goodness, hospitality, loyalty to family, friends, work, play…and who laugh, philosophise, don’t over-think, cherish peace…I salute you in this battle of battles. And I hold you in my heart, you beauties.” – LL on Facebook

Photographer: Dr. Khaled M. Hamad on Twitter @drkhamad

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