A Ukrainian Violinist in Dubai

On this episode of the Words and Bridges podcast, we’ll be talking with a Ukrainian violinist in Dubai. Our guest Olena will tell us about her start in music. She’ll also talk about her life in Dubai as an expat. Of course, we’ll have the pleasure of listening to one of her performances. Enjoy the podcast and if you’d like to hear more from our guest and support her, you can visit Olena’s YouTube Channel.

5 Ways to Find Happiness while Under Lockdown

As I’m sure you know by now, the majority of the world is being hit by a pandemic. This might be causing you to feel fear, anxiety, and stress among other things. Aside from feeling afraid of becoming sick, you might be thinking of how you’re going to make ends meet. To say that you might have a lot on your mental plate would be an understatement. There are some things that are out of our hands, but even in those kinds of situations, we can try our best to find a way out. That’s one reason why I decided to write this post. There’s a lot that you can do, but I’ll keep it focused on only 5 ways to find happiness while under lockdown.

Why am I writing this?

Over the past few days I’ve come across social media post after social media post by writers who criticized people trying to live their lives normally. No, I’m not talking about living “normally” like those people in Florida who decided that they didn’t want to practice any form of social distancing (and you definitely should be practicing that if you’re not already). I’m talking about people who have businesses and projects and who want to continue with them.

So many people online attacked these types calling them “insensitive” and saying that the time wasn’t “right”. Basically, it seems like these attackers just want people to be sad and to wallow in a pool of despair.

That’s the last thing any of us needs to do right now. Yes, keep yourself aware of what’s happening. Yes, expect the worst, but hope for the best. Yes, prepare as best you can for any possibilities. However, don’t make this situation that we’re all facing worse for you than it already is. Accept the bad that we’re dealing with and try to find some good as well. At the very least, it will make what you’re dealing with easier to face. So what things can you do? What are 5 ways to find happiness while under lockdown?

5 Ways to Find Happiness while Under Lockdown

Reconnect with friends

In normal times, especially in this day and age, many of us are too “busy”. Our schedules may not be in sync with those of our friends. We might just be too tired after a long day at work to want to go out again. If you have an internet connection, you can start to reconnect with your friends. The best way would be by apps like Skype, Hangouts, or Zoom. Since you’ll be practicing social distancing (of course), you won’t be able to meet people in person.

The next best thing is to see their faces on a screen in front of you and for them to see your wonderful face too. You also have the option of just making voice calls by phone or through an app like Whatsapp, Telegram, and Line. Don’t settle into just text messaging. Now is the time to really connect and to really rebuild a strong bond between you and your friends.

Sure, it might begin with talking about the bad news and all of the things that are happening. However, as you talk more, you will see that the conversation will begin to shift. Before you know it, the smiles and laughs will reappear and your mind will be taken away from the problems of today.

Make new friends

Maybe you don’t have people with whom you’re close to. Or you might know people, but would rather not talk to them. If this is you, then you can make new friends. The beauty about today’s world is that you can find new friends from all corners of the globe. With sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook, you’ll be able to meet new friends with common interests. As you get to know your new friend (especially if they’re foreign), you’ll feel like you’re traveling to a different country. Sure, your body might be confined to your home, but your mind will become just a little bit freer.

Watch all of those movies that you wanted to watch, but didn’t have the time to before

Now you’re at home. Maybe you’re working virtually. Without having to worry about a commute, you may have more free time available. Why not catch up on all of those movies that you’ve been putting off for so long? If you’re really anxious and worried, you can choose to watch something that’s funny and light-hearted. These movies don’t have to be dramatic and they don’t need to be classic or stellar. Just watch something that’s enjoyable. When I want to watch a movie that’s fun and not too heavy some of my go to movies are The Room and Fateful Findings. These aren’t classics by any means, but they entertain me nonetheless.

A Guilty Pleasure

Along with watching movies, you can indulge in some of your guilty pleasures. These can be just about anything. Feel like sleeping in? Go ahead and do it (as long as it won’t get you fired or keep the kids hungry). Want to go on a YouTube binge? Be my guest. What’s your guilty pleasure? Might as well get it in while you have the time. For me, I happen to love watching professional wrestling (Yes, I know it’s scripted. All wrestling fans know this). In my case, now is the perfect time to be a wrestling fan because there are so many wrestling promotions to choose from.

A Hobby

Is there a hobby that you haven’t had time to work on? Is there a new hobby that you’d like to start? Now is the time. You can take up so many different hobbies and you don’t have to leave your home for most of them. If you need supplies, maybe you can have them delivered. Or you can pick them up when you go grocery shopping for next week’s food store.

Interested in painting? Watch a tutorial online. Are you still shooting pictures in auto mode on your DSLR? Time to learn how to shoot in manual mode! Ready to start learning a new language? Then you definitely should go ahead and enroll in my online language course. Working on a hobby will not only help you develop a new skill, it’ll also take your mind off of what’s happening around. As you develop more, your happiness will increase as well. So, look into working on a hobby.

A bonus

One more thing you can do is exercise! You can use your time at home to develop workout routines. You don’t even have to use weights. You can use your body weight or just do things like push-ups, crunches, leg raises, and more. Want to take it a step further? You can try to do some yoga. You can use yoga to center yourself and to calm your mind. You can also use it to build yourself physically. If you’ve never tried yoga, you might want to look for some programs online that can guide you.

In Ending

If you’re stuck at home, it’s understandable not to feel so happy about that. But don’t allow it to keep you down or depressed. You can find happiness for yourself even if you’re under lockdown. I’ve mentioned 6 ideas of things you can do. What are some other activities that you’re doing to find happiness while under lockdown?

Life in the Time of Corona- Part IV: London

Life in the Time of Corona- Part IV: London. As the coronavirus spreads, more countries are adding restrictions on public activities. However, even with these restrictions, some people aren’t taking the situation seriously. On this episode, we’ll talk with someone who lives in London and discuss the spread of coronavirus in London. She’ll tell us how people around her are preparing and also what she’s doing to get ready for a possible increase in the outbreak.

Life in the Time of Corona: Part III- Barcelona

On the night of March 14, 2020, the Spanish government declared a state of emergency. This restriction is expected to last for two weeks. The hope is that it will decrease the number of coronavirus infections. In Part III of our Life in the Time of Corona series, we’ll look at how life has changed under this state of emergency. Particularly in Barcelona.

If you’d like to learn more about our guest Mara from today’s show, be sure to visit her blog: Spain in Color.

Life in the Time of Corona: Part II- Washington, DC

Coronavirus cases are increasing in the United States. As a result, governors and local leaders are forcing restaurants, gyms, and shops to close. They also won’t allow large groups of people to gather in public places. In part II of our Life in the Time of Corona series, we’ll look at what is happening in the Washington, DC area of the United States of America.

Life in the Time of Corona- Lockdown in Sicily

The coronavirus has spread like wildfire throughout the world infecting a large number of people. Many countries are stopping the movement of their citizens so they can try to control the spread of the virus. On this episode of our podcast, we’ll be speaking with an Italian citizen who is currently under lockdown in her city. This is episode one of our series of life in the time of corona.

Episode 5: Talking about Coronavirus

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is affecting most of the world. Schools are closing and businesses are losing money suffering. More importantly, people are losing their health and their lives. In this episode, we’ll be talking about coronavirus and its impact on the world.

National Museum of Oman

Front of the National Museum of Oman

Visit the National Museum of Oman

As the Omani government pushes for more tourism, the number of visitors to the country continues to grow.  The country that people barely knew about even only a few years ago is becoming more and more famous with each passing year.  Even the late Anthony Bourdain covered the Sultanate of Oman on his Parts Unknown show. Oman’s history is rich and replete with cultural gems.  If you’re planning to visit Oman for the first time, your best bet is to begin with the National Museum of Oman.

Contents of the national museum

The National Museum of Oman opened on July 30, 2016 and is the main museum in the Sultanate of Oman.  It covers all things Oman from prehistory to contemporary times. The first floor focuses on the land of Oman and its people.  Here you can find cultural items such as traditional clothing, jewelry, and weaponry. One thing about Oman is that there are many forts scattered throughout the Sultanate.  As you make your way through the museum, you’ll see replicas of these forts (scaled down to size of course) and these can make for a better appreciation of the architecture from the past.  There’s also a giant, interactive touch screen map that covers the entire area of Oman. When you click on a specific city or region, an infographic pops up to give you information about the place.  

Traditional Omani clothes
Decorations for the head / hair
Replica of Nizwa fort
Replica of Rustaq fort

Learning about the restoration process

Another interesting exhibit at the National Museum of Oman is the restoration exhibit.  Here, you can learn how archeologists, scientists, and experts at the museum restore discovered items.  A video shows the process necessary and many of the artifacts that have been restored are on display in this exhibit.  

A seafaring people

A traditional style boat

One very interesting part of the National Museum of Oman is in the maritime section.  Oman has a strong history of ship building and of being seafaring people. The Sultanate once stretched from east Africa to India.  In this section, there are ships of different styles and sizes including a huge, life-sized one. However, the interesting part, tucked away in a corner, is an exhibit that contains massive clay jugs from Mahut, Oman.  These are from 3-4ft. high and almost just as wide at its broadest. Although there are theories about what these were used for, it is not definitively known.  

Giant jugs from Mahut, Oman

Upon exiting the maritime section, you’ll find a small movie theater.  The theater shows a cultural movie that celebrates Oman and covers some important aspects of the country such as its heritage, wildlife, nature, and the like.   

The al-Busaid dynasty

One area of the museum that I really enjoy relates to the history of the al-Busaid dynasty.  There’s a timeline of the dynasty along with pictures of former rulers of Oman. It really puts the country into perspective and shows how power changed and how the country transitioned over time to become what it currently is.  

Be sure to visit!

The National Museum of Oman is the ideal first stop for any visitor to the country.  It serves as a way to introduce you to the country, its people, their culture and more.  The museum becomes a foundation on which you can build your trip in the days (or even weeks) after you first arrive.  Once you learn about the country through the museum, you’ll be able to have a richer experience when exploring Oman. If you decide to visit the Sultanate, be sure to make the National Museum of Oman your first stop.   

2020 New Year’s Resolution

2020 New Year’s Resolution 

The second decade of the 21st century is right around the corner.  We’re only a week away from the year 2020. As the cliche goes, hindsight is 20/20.  There’s also perfect vision for the eyes that we say is 20/20 vision. Whatever the case, 2019 is quickly coming to an end.  Since this is the start of a new year, it’s a good time to think about your 2020 New Year’s resolution.  

Why is a New Year’s Resolution Important to Me?

Once upon a time, I was one of those people who used to criticize the idea of New Year’s resolutions.  “Why do I have to wait until the start of a new year to do something”? “How is a resolution at the start of the year supposed to help me be successful”?  Now, I see the value of having a New Year’s resolution. It’s true that we could start a change in our lives on a Wednesday in the middle of April or May. However, when we choose to start a new chapter of our lives at the beginning of the year, it’s like we have a clean slate in front of us.  Our minds are already adjusted to the new day, the new month, the new year. It’s easier for us to know how much time we are spending on our goals too.  

For me, having a resolution helps me to stay focused during the upcoming year.  I’m not just going into it blindly. Instead, I have direction and know that there’s a destination to be reached.  January 1st is the starting point like the beginning of a map for a journey. As with most good journeys, it’s important to have an idea of where you’re headed at the very least.    

Plan first, act next

A lot of people start their resolutions on the first day of the new year.  Instead of starting then, it’s better to start before. The earlier you begin the better.  The planning stages for a New Year’s resolution should be before the start of the new year.  Anywhere from a few days to a few weeks ahead. By planning first, you’ll be able to jump right in once the new year begins.

Clear Goals

Define your goals with clarity.  Make it so clear, that if someone asked you what they were, you’d be able to explain instantly and they’d be able to understand without any difficulty.  When your goals are clear, you’ll be able to see them in your mind. The more you can visualize your clear goals, the more real it becomes to you. Aside from having clear goals, be sure that these goals mean something to you.  Whether they’re related to career success, your relationships, your knowledge, body, or something else, your goals should be important to you. 

Plan, then Act on your Resolution

You’ve written down your New Year’s resolutions, now you have to follow them.  Anyone can write a list of things they want, but what good is it if you’re not acting on your desire?  Make a plan on how to bring your resolution, your goals, into reality. Consider the steps that you need to take and also what obstacles you might face.  Have an action plan for how to overcome any challenges that get in your way. Very importantly, stay committed to your resolution for whatever period of time you allocate for yourself.  Your resolution might last for the whole year, or maybe you just need three months to accomplish your goal. Whatever the case, stick to it and remind yourself regularly that you’re in this for the long haul.  

If you fail while trying?

You might try your best to fulfill your resolution, but still come up short in the end.  If you fail while trying, don’t beat yourself up. Try again. Remember, if you never work toward your goals for the new year, you won’t make much progress.  If you try and fail, you’ll still end up making more progress than if you had never tried at all. Take whatever failure you come across as a learning experience.  

In ending

Let’s make the most of this coming year.  Make 2020 the year in which your New Year’s resolution come true and your dreams come to fruition.  Set your goals, visualize them, make a plan, and get to work. This year can be a success, if you want it to be! 

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World Arabic Language Day

World Arabic Language Day

Today, December 18th, is designated as World Arabic Language Day by UNESCO.  On December 18, 2010, UNESCO began to honor the role of the Arabic language around the world.   It also coincides with the date that Arabic became one of the six official languages of the United Nations (December 18, 1973).  This year, the theme is Arabic Language and Artificial Intelligence.  

Currently, nearly 300 million people speak and use the Arabic language.  These include those who use the formal variety as well as the various dialects.  The language is a rich one known for its depth and its use in areas such as literature, poetry, songs, science, and philosophy.  Arabic speakers in the past also translated many works from ancient Greece and Rome. Eventually, they spread these works throughout Europe via Spain. In addition, Arabic words have crossed over into other languages such as English and Spanish.  Some loan words from Arabic include sugar (which comes from al-sukkar), alcohol (which comes from al-kuhl), and algebra (which comes from al-jabr).  

To learn more, check out UNESCO’s page dedicated to this day. Are you a speaker of Arabic?  Are you a learner of the Arabic language?  If so, happy World Arabic Language Day to you.  

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