Tag Archives: making new friends

Hello. It’s Been Awhile.

Hello.

It’s Me.

I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet,
To go over everything.
They say that time’s supposed to heal ya
But I ain’t done much healing . . .
(Song lyrics by Adele)

This month is my two year anniversary of being back in Dallas, my home. I’ve spent these last two years in deep reflection, trying to mend my broken, homesick-for-Istanbul, repatriating heart. Some days have been full of love and laughter, but many others were filled with deep sadness and longing. I’ve turned over every rock hoping to re-discover my identity and to make peace with who I became in Turkey.

Looking back at photos over the last two years, I made a list of all the good things that I’ve experienced. I don’t want to forget my time here because 2018 will be a year of extraordinary change for me.

  • Just after moving back, I participated in a 4-hour long historic tour of Dallas. It started at Lee Harvey’s and ended at Clyde Barrow’s grave.
  • I’ve wandered through historic Fair Park and marveled at the beautiful Art Deco monuments and architecture. I’ve also explored the Butterfly Gardens.
  • I’ve had two different apartment leases in two very different historic neighborhoods of Dallas: Oak Cliff, near the Bishop Arts District and Uptown, near Downtown’s Arts District.
  • I’ve been able to visit my daughter and her husband in San Diego, CA numerous times and they’ve visited me in Dallas. I’ve enjoyed spending the weekend with friends in Austin, Texas, and was able to see young friends tie the knot in Palm Springs, CA. I’ve travelled internationally to London, Switzerland and Mexico.
  • I’ve been able to spend holidays and birthdays with family and I’ve enjoyed watching my niece and nephew grow up. I’ve been able to care for my elderly mom and help her with many things.
  • I’ve experienced rapid population growth and expansion of Dallas in the last two years. I’ve personally observed skyscrapers, apartments and corporate offices being built all over the metroplex as more and more companies move to Texas.
  • I’ve been proud to help my brother and my sis-in-law expand their family business and learn new skills. I’ve been able to learn about an entire new industry.
  • Out of personal loneliness I created two new communities in Dallas. I started a Mah Jong group in Oak Cliff and I started a Global Education Group within InterNations Dallas. Both groups provided me much needed friendships and both groups continue to thrive.
  • As a member of InterNations Dallas, I’ve been able to participate in international experiences through a variety of cultural activities. Highlights include a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, a Thailand and an Armenian festival, a Middle Eastern Iftar dinner during Ramadan, a Polish book club meeting and a group trip to San Miguel Allende for Dia de las Muertas.
  • I’ve been able to help others through HRI (Human Rights Initiative of North Texas), deliver food on Thanksgiving with Operation Turkey Dallas and help with the Hurricane Harvey relief effort.
  • After a terror attack on my city, I experienced shock and mourning when five police officers were shot and killed in 2016 less than 3 miles from my home. In 2017 I participated in a prayer vigil at Dallas’ Thanksgiving Square for the Las Vegas victims following another domestic terror attack and I’ve just marched with thousands of my neighbors in the 2018 Dallas Women’s March.
  • I’ve played tennis regularly and have explored my city on foot in my Uptown neighborhood. I have loved having access to Klyde Warren Park, Griggs Park and the Katy Trail.
  • I’ve been fortunate to see many wonderful art exhibitions at my favorite place, The Nasher Sculpture Center, where I still participate as a member on the Nasher Teacher Advisory Board.

Most of all, I’ve made so many new friends, many from other nations. Dallas has indeed become an international city seemingly overnight. I frequently pass people speaking other languages on my daily walks. After two years, I’m beginning to feel at home again.

And yet, my heart continues to be unsettled; yearning.

I want to go.

So I looked to see what else there might be and there it was. Again I have been given a great opportunity to live inside a new culture and teach children from many nations.

And so, I go. I am so grateful. Thank you everyone. Thank you, Dallas.

Will 2018 be a year of change for you too?

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Wrapping Up The Year

treeimageDreams realized.

Sometimes I get paralyzed and can’t write. I have a hard time distinguishing what would be the best thing to share because I experience so much in this amazing city every week. I’m continuing to meet new people and I’m deepening relationships with friends I’ve met over the last four months. I’m witnessing wonderful, learning experiences in my classroom and I’ve (almost) memorized the names of my 240 students. I’m getting involved with organizations and continuing to explore art galleries, museums and the many little streets and shops in Istanbul.

Time is moving at an incredible pace. The end of another year will be here shortly and when I reflect on my Annual Review this year, it will show the satisfaction of a goal realized; a goal that began 7 years ago with a free trip I won to Paris and London.

PortaxeI am entirely grateful. My life is rich beyond measure. Somehow I was fortunate enough to get a job at a great school in a culturally rich city. Recently my school gave us an evening at Portaxe, a beautiful restaurant, on the shores of the Bosphorus. This was in recognition of Teacher Appreciation Day, an actual day on the Turkish calendar, in which teachers are given gifts of love. It is so nice to be in a country that actually appreciates its teachers! As we entered Portaxe, we were greeted with trays of cocktails and the evening was celebrated with an open bar, delicious food, live band and lots of dancing! This past week we were given a beautifully wrapped box containing a personalized bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon and deliciously rich Christmas fruit cake.

PAWI11.9.13Two of the very best discoveries of moving to Istanbul are two organizations I’ve joined called FWI (Foreign Women of Istanbul) and PAWI (Professional American Women of Istanbul). FWI operates with a Facebook presence and these remarkable women can answer any question about Istanbul that is put before them, including, “Where can I find marshmallows in Istanbul?” and my recent question of “Are banks open on Sunday?” PAWI meetings are monthly and rotate between Asia Istanbul and Europe Istanbul. Their meetings always include guest speakers. Since I’ve been here, our speakers have included a psychologist, who shared her experiences of working with people on the residual effects of the Gezi protests, a historian-artist-writer who just published her second book, Drawing on Istanbul 2,  and the Adahan Hotel and Restaurant owner who spoke to us about the years of sacrifice she and her husband gave to an 1874 building, bringing it back from the dead and turning it into a thriving business.  The discussions and knowledge base of these women is broad. Some are attorneys, others writers. Some work in marketing, others as translators. Some are owners of restaurants and hotels and some work in banking and education. Within these groups I’m finding many new friends, each with her own unique story of how it is she lives in Istanbul.

I’m happy to report that I’ve also experienced my first snowfall in Istanbul. It was gorgeous! It not only snowed in Istanbul, it snowed all over the Middle East and we quickly learned how Cairo, Egypt got snow for the first time in 122 years! After easing myself down the hill that morning, and into my warm classroom, I was shocked at the beauty outside my wall of windows. The sight continued to amaze my students and I all day long as nature painted a frozen picture across the landscape. Although we were graciously given two days of early release, I was hoping for a snow day so I could somehow get to Aya Sophia, lay down in its courtyard and make a snow angel, as I’d heard of some teachers doing last year.

MiroThe availability of world-class art continues to amaze me. Last week I went with a Turkish friend to the Miro Exhibition. I found it difficult to concentrate on the beautiful artwork because I was distracted by the amazing architecture. The exhibition building was a canon factory during the Ottoman Empire and I could not keep my eyes from wandering to the domes of the brick ceiling. After leaving, we wandered down antique-filled streets, twisting and turning, as all Istanbul streets do, and walked by Orhan Pamuk’s Museum of Innocence. We made a quick decision to view that collection another day.

choirThat evening I was able to listen to a friend sing in a choral concert at the British Consulate. Because of the bombing at this British Consulate in 2003, its grounds are heavily guarded and security is ever-present. Walking past photos of Queen Elizabeth and ancient looking framed documents, I noticed how elegantly the Christmas decorations were placed; fully regal, yet understated and charming. The singing was beautiful and transported me to thoughts of peace.

This week I will be flying to another distant, far-away place. I will spend the Christmas holiday with a friend that I met at the SEARCH Associates Boston International Job Fair last year! She got a job, that wretched, blizzard weekend, at an IB school in Switzerland, and she now lives there with her daughter. We’ve deepened our friendship over the months over Skype calls and we are eager to see each other again and share stories of the first half of our school year.

In these last few days of 2013, I want to challenge you to set your own plan in place. Kick the rock to start its tumble down the hill. Don’t be afraid to make your dream happen. This beautiful place I live- this dream that I’m living- did not happen overnight. I started planning it in 2006-almost eight years ago! Time goes quickly and life is such a gift. As we quietly pass into 2014, I wish you love, peace, health and inspiration. Be well!

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