Life Lessons – Make a Decision

Assess possibilities and make a decision. Used to be easy, but now… not so easy. Sometimes, I simply pass the decision on the another person, because that’s easier. I was beginning to wonder if I was losing it until I realized that what has really changed is the realization that decisions we make in the normal course of the day are usually insignificant. It doesn’t really matter where we eat lunch or which lounge chair we choose. It is true that a decision to eat in a fast food restaurant may not be the best choice or a lounge chair in the sun can cause sunburn, but I still say those choices are unimportant.

Then come the real choices. The life-changing decisions. Whether to relocate or not. To change jobs or not. To work or not. These are the category 7 decisions that alter lives. As I was teaching decision trees to my class, I was silently plotting my personal decisions on a tree. Decisions made on any of these branches will dramatically alter our equilibrium and those around us.

The good news is that we altered our lives when we decided to move to the UAE last year. So we’ve had some practice. We moved from a very comfortable home and lifestyle to very different lifestyle. One that is comfortable in many ways and uncomfortable in some… what I call Twilight Zone. But, that’s another story for another time.

Now, we must focus on our decision regarding a move. If we move, one lifestyle will die and be replaced by another. I was able to peek at one friends lifestyle during a video call. We could see Louis sitting at his kitchen table as he described his morning ride to take his grandchild to school. He has his routines and an enviable connection to his children and grandchildren. Periodically, he will talk about the possibility of moving to a less expensive area, but I don’t think he will disrupt his life.

To move or not to move…. Flip a coin… after I recover from the UAE move…. we will move again. Why? Because it felt good removing some of the rust from the pipes. Even though we were in a comfortable rut, we can always jump back into a new comfortable rut. In the meantime, we will continue to explore life.

Stay tuned.

Life Lessons – Manning Up

One of the directors just left our campus for another job. Never really got to know her, just had a few conversations. If not for my insane work schedule, I would have attempted to get to know her more. As it is, we had a few early morning conversations. She always arrived early, so I would stop by and say hello while keeping in mind that the early part of the day was probably her best time to work before everyone arrived.

Notice of her departure reminded me of one of our first conversations when I had only been on the job and in the country for a few weeks. She told me that she had an open door and if I ever needed to talk to someone to feel free to stop by. At that point in time, I was a basket case and didn’t know where I was, what I was doing or why. I was frazzled, scared, tired, angry, and exhausted with trying to learn everything about life and work in the UAE while also developing curriculum on the fly. Apparently, she saw this in my face and offered a shoulder. I was close to unloading all my woes on her, but I come from the world where “real women” don’t cry. We buck up. Keep a straight face and pretend everything is alright even when it’s not.

I came from the technology world that was dominated by men, and believed the worst thing a woman could do on the job was cry. Crying showed weakness and humans are very good at exploiting weakness in other humans. It’s like animals smelling blood and preparing for the attack. So, I didn’t cry on her shoulder. I bucked up and put a smile on my face. I got through it, and in the process, I learned another life lesson. I learned that the guys probably got it right. Crying doesn’t help, and that “manning up” gets you over the hurdles and to the finish line. But… it felt good just knowing that her shoulder was available.

Til next time

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Country Bumpkin

Everytime I think I’m getting more worldly and sophisticated, I get reminded that I’m still a rube… a babe in the woods… a neophyte. In a conversation with a friend from Israel (via the US currently working out of Singapore), I casually mentioned the incredible international faculty that I work with in the UAE. He quickly dismissed my enthrallment and moved on to another topic. At first I didn’t understand why he wasn’t impressed with our international faculty until I realized that it is the norm for faculty in non-US universities to come from a multitude of countries.

I sit near faculty from Canada, South Africa, India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Great Britain, and the US, and that’s just those physically close to me. I suspect a survey would show that every continent and many, many countries are represented.  It makes for interesting conversations and my weak geography knowledge is showing.  I actually had to go to the Internet to refresh my memory on Great Britain which was rather limited to the fact that it has a queen who lives in Buckingham Palace.

I can’t be the only one who didn’t know/remember that Great Britain is composed of four countries (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales). I must have been sleeping when the teacher covered this. Oh well… now I know. This also leads to conversational shifts of clarification when discussing money (dirhams, euros, dollars, etc), heat (Fahrenheit or centigrade), weight (kilograms vs pounds). The good news is that my elementary schooling is beginning to pay off.  I’m  rusty, but am developing some facility in converting on the fly.

Oh well… I’ll just have to embrace that I am a bumpkin…. And it’s okay.