Now

WHAT I’M DOING RIGHT NOW

At present, I teach Grades 6-12 drama at ISG Jubail School, an American international school in  Jubail, Saudi Arabia, and I blog occasionally about it.

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I’ve taken on the leadership of the ISG Fine Arts Innovation team for our district, with seven schools across Saudi participating in the innovation of its fine arts programs. This is a challenge I relish, as innovation and creative change is a passion of mine. 18 teachers joined me in an August 2016 meeting to explore how we can innovate our programs and increase collaboration across the district.

After attending an unexpected mindfulness session led by our district superintendent Dr. Paul Richards this year, I have decided to undertake a deepening of my own practice of meditation, which I have dedicated myself to on a daily basis for over six months due to the desire to increase inner contentment in my life.

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This has inspired a new project in mindfulness, Mindful Drama. My friends laugh at me: I’ve always got to have a project (or several). At MD, I am documenting the results of my action research into the progress of my students as they and I practice MBSR once a week in the drama classroom.

Meanwhile, I continue my mindfulness practice on a daily basis, and have started to train formally in MBSR to compliment the work I have done leading guided meditation/visualization for years as a drama teacher.

In essence, at a time when I feel the precariousness of life as my parents age and I can see we are all not infallible – we will not live forever – I am exploring the creation of greater silence in my life, and less noise, particularly in the form of information and social media. It’s hard. But I am intent upon doing this.

This decision was inspired by the loss of a friend whom I watched die – transition – this past July. It was the first time I saw someone die before my eyes, and it was one of the hardest things I have ever done…stay present, advocate for her and be of service and support to her and her family.

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WHERE IS HOME?

In 1996, I moved from Canada to take my first international job in Saudi Arabia and thus began what is now 20 years of living an international life. When you are a ‘third culture adult’ like I am, bonded to several places, this answer appears strange to those who have never migrated from their hometown. Home is Saudi Arabia, the UK and Canada. This summer, I reconnected with Edmonton, the city of my birth, and spent time emptying my things from my parents’ home. It was freeing. Manchester, England is home also when I am not in Saudi or Canada.

Finally, in Saudi Arabia, I live a few miles further away than last year from the largest oil and gas industrial city in the Middle East, which I moved to from the UK in August 2015. While I marvel at the beauty of the industrial city at night, I wonder about the extent of pollution from the excess gas being burned off into the atmosphere.

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Eerie nighttime glow from the excess gas being burned off; view from my former compound.

Thankfully, I have moved to the only private beachfront compound that the Jubail-based international teachers have access to in this city. I’ve settled in here and cook, read and write in my free time. It’s a good space in which to be, with plenty of solitude and some company. I am working on three books at present.

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Hard as it is to believe from the above images of serenity, I live in ISIL territory and am mindful of the effects of war and conflict in this part of the world and elsewhere. I’m becoming more philosophical about the nature of humankind, as I attempt to make sense of the rapid changes in our globalized era, the 21st Century. Life is good.

 

everything you want is on the other side of fear. jfdi. live to love. lead as you would follow. shoot for the stars.