My [redacted] Journey

A teacher's search for inner peace.



October 25, 2014

Dear Readers,

Just getting my bearings, I chose to edit a previous post.  You can find the original here.  It’s good to be back.  Peace, ~v.


The bougainvillea blooms all year round.  The beautiful purple-pink flowers belie the thorny vines that lie just underneath the blooms.  From a distance, with the sun at their backs, and with one eye closed, I can almost picture an Arizona sunset.  The reds and pinks and purples of the bougainvillea and the Arizona sunsets mesh together to make sitting outside in 120°F  (49°C) worth the sweat.

And the sweat in the small of my back, it clings to the polyester blend, black abaya I wear and simply sits there.  The ever present moisture lies on the surface of both my skin and the non-absorbent material of my long-sleeved, long skirt, neck-high “dress”.  It helps keep the desert sand at bay.  That fine grained, almost silt, that permeates every inch of life until it becomes me.

It becomes me in the sand that blows through the cracks.  And blows the wind so subtle that were it not for the fog-like emissions of the oil fields, I would never know it was blowing.

Night sneaks up, bringing with him the fog.  The murky fog rolls in and over the desert.  It’s time to slip inside and leave the night to the Night.  And as I lazily climb the sturdy, sandy stairs to my room with a view, thoughts drift to Carl Sandburg…

The fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.


I is for Islam

September 2, 2014

Dear Readers,

If it’s Tuesday, it must be the A to Z Challenge.  Today’s letter is “I“, and I is for Islam.

I could not do justice to a description of Islam.  Therefore, I asked a friend.

Islam is a religion that covers all aspects of life .. the political economic and social .. Islam is for all time ..


الأسلام دين شامل لكل نواحي الحياة .. السياسية الاقتصادية الاجتماعية .. الإسلام يصلح لكل زمان



I leave you, dear Readers, with one last quote.

People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.

~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Communicate with each other, dear Readers.  Perhaps then, Peace, ~v.



Just the Facts, Ma’am

July 13, 2014

Dear Readers,

This is the third day in a row that I have attempted to write a list of characteristics of the inner peace most of us are yearning for. I have the list, along with my comments, ready to post and publish. However, this is the third day in a row that something more important has caught my attention; it is also about peace.

This year I turn 50 years old and ever since I began to read and listen to the news (around age 10 or 11) I have heard the phrase, “Peace in the Middle East.”  I am also quite familiar with words and phrases such as Gaza, West Bank, Palestinians, airstrikes, Israelis, settlements, etc., etc., etc.  These are probably words and phrases that you, dear Readers, have heard in the news every now and again, right?  Also like me, dear Readers, you probably rely on the news, whether broadcast or print, to try and understand what it all means.  But who can you trust to give a fair and accurate report?  Apparently, not Western mainstream media.

Question authority.  As a young girl in school, I questioned what authority figures spoon fed me because I enjoyed being defiant.  As an adult, I question authority because I know that mainstream media is  full of fiction and fairy tales, designed to lull the average citizen into a mind-numbing stupor.  Unfortunately, average citizens blindly follow the media, so much, so that individuals believe only that which fits into their narrow worldview.  Here is a case in point:

On Tuesday July 8, 2014, on ABC World News with Diane Sawyer, Ms. Sawyer incorrectly identified a Palestinian family amid the ruins of their home in Gaza, as an Israeli family picking through the rubble of their home in Israel.  This may seem like a harmless error, but wait, there is more.  Ms. Sawyer also implied that a woman, wearing a hijab (headscarf) and pictured among the ruins of Gaza, is an Israeli as well.  Still think harmless error?  There is even more.

As Diane Sawyer began her report, there were scenes of destruction visible on-screen.  She began, “We take you overseas now to the rockets raining down on Israel today as Israel tried to shoot them out of the sky.”  On-screen was video footage not of Israelis nor even Israel, but airstrikes on Gaza by the Israeli army.  As the viewer saw this picture:

ABC-Misreporting  Ms. Sawyer misreported, “…and here, an Israeli family trying to salvage what they can.”




Then the viewer saw and heard this:

Ms. Sawyer, “One woman standing speechless among the ruins.”


The pictures fuzzy, yes.  So, if you would like to see the 26 second video, please go here:

The viewer is led to believe that Palestinians are launching airstrikes that have destroyed Israeli neighborhoods, leaving families misplaced.  The pictures are meant to invoke the emotions of the viewer to feel great sorrow for both Israel and the Israeli people.  And I’m willing to bet that even though ABC and Diane Sawyer issued apologies for making such an error, most viewers will not go out of their way to to verify the truth of the story.  More proof that people follow blindly.

Do the world a favor, dear Readers, question authority.  btw, Diane Sawyer’s apology appeared on Twitterabc2

and ABC posted their apology on their Facebook pageabc3

The worst part?  Mainstream media will continue to lead those of us that are willing to be misled, those of us that won’t speak up and speak out.  Again, I enjoy my rebellious streak, so I will continue to question authority.  And for the sake of all that is intelligent, when it comes to the truth, if you can’t trust the news source where “Everyday More Americans Choose ABC News, America’s #1 News Source,” who can you trust?  Peace, ~v.


Oh, the Places I Went!

December 31, 2013

Dear Readers,

2013 was a year of traveling for me.  It was the year that I called more than one place home.  In honor of such an accomplishment, I would like to end the year by showing you, dear Readers, the view from my front window at every place I called home.  Mixed in with my dialogue and pictures, is a poem by Dr. Seuss titled, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”

 January 2013 Kingman, AZ
January 2013 Kingman, AZ
This was my front porch view in Kingman, Arizona at the beginning of 2013.  It had only been my view for 10 months.  By the end of January, I was off to new places.


Today is your day.

You’re off to Great Places!

You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.

You have feet in your shoes

You can steer yourself

any direction you choose.

You’re on your own.  And you know what you know.

And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

Abu Dhabi, UAE
Abu Dhabi, UAE

This was my next view, high above the street in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.  This was my home for approximately one month.  It was all so new and exciting.



You’ll be on your way up!

You’ll be seeing great sights!

You’ll join the high fliers

Who soar to great heights.

You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed.

You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.

Wherever you fly, you’ll be the best of the best.

Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.”

Mirfa, Abu Dhabi
Mirfa, Abu Dhabi
Mirfa, Abu Dhabi
Mirfa, Abu Dhabi
Mirfa, Abu Dhabi
Mirfa, Abu Dhabi

My next home was in Mirfa, Abu Dhabi UAE.  The view from my balcony was serene and peaceful, the Persian Gulf outstretched before me.  I was able to see the sunrise over the water; one of my have to’s before I die.  Even now, as I write this, a calm feeling comes over me as I remember my days of solitude.

The Danat, Al Ruwais, Abu Dhabi
The Danat, Al Ruwais, Abu Dhabi

This was the view from my next place of residence.  Still, I have a view of the Persian Gulf, at a resort that is second to none.  It was sometime around late February, early March that I called this view home.

“I’m afraid that some times

you’ll play lonely games too.

Games you can’t win

’cause you’ll play against you.

All Alone!

Whether you like it or not,

Alone will be something

you’ll be quite a lot.”

Al Ruwais, The Western Region
Al Ruwais, The Western Region

Finally, by the end of March, I had my apartment in Al Ruwais.  This was the view from out of my front window.  This was my view as I cooked my meals and washed my dishes.

“On and on you will hike

and I know you’ll hike far

and face up to your problems

whatever they are.

You’ll get mixed up of course,

as you already know.

You’ll get mixed up

with many strange birds as you go.

So be sure when you step,

Step with care and great tact

and remember that Life’s

a Great Balancing Act.

Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.

And never mix up your right foot with your left.”

Gayathi, The Western Region
Gayathi, The Western Region

By June, I was at one more apartment.  It was to be my final view of the United Arab Emirates.

“And will you succeed?

Yes!  You will, indeed!

(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)


My now home.
My now home.

And now I’ve come full circle.  I am back in Arizona.  You may not notice, but it is not the exact same view as the one I left in January.  It is slightly different; I moved next door 😉


be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray

or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,

you’re off to Great Places!

Today is your day!

Your mountain is waiting.

So…get on your way!”

So how about that, dear Readers?  In the year 2013, I lived in no less than 7 different homes.  I had 7 different views from my front window.  I had 7 different opportunities to make a place my home.  And, I succeeded!  I look back at where I have been the past year and I am simply overwhelmed.  It was all so surreal.  Dear Readers, I am Blessed.  Happy New Year’s.  Peace, ~v.

1 Comment

Amrah to be continued

شاطئ   المرفأ  My view from my window in Mirfa.

شاطئ المرفأ
My view from my window in Mirfa.

December 20, 2013

Dear Readers,

Today is Writing Day 10 and I am excited to report that I have, indeed, been writing.  I began writing, and a flood of memories washed over me.  Such an uplifting afternoon and evening.  I was in the middle of writing my latest blog post when I realized that I wanted to linger, alone, through my memories; I’m not ready to share them, yet.  I also want to create a post worthy of my memories and the young ladies who share in them.

فندق دانات الشاطئ The view from my window at the Danat.

فندق دانات الشاطئ
The view from my window at the Danat.

I have laid my soul bare in my blog posts, I realize.  However, every note, every narrative, every memory, I was willing to share because I had learned something and wanted to share it with you, dear Readers.  I am still learning from my recent teaching abroad, thus, I am not quite ready to share, yet.  I will be back, in writing, tomorrow so that I may take you down a memory lane that I will not soon forget.  Peace, ~v.

الرويس آل The view from my window in Al Ruwais.

الرويس آل
The view from my window in Al Ruwais.

Leave a comment

When It Rains, It Pours

December 16, 2013

Today’s post is going to be short but oh, so sweet!  It is with the utmost of humility that I can report that two more of my former students from the Middle East have contacted me.  What a blessing those few months in Ruwais were for me.  I am still reaping what I sowed there.  So, in honor of my time there, please enjoy the following pictures.  Peace, ~v.

My first day teaching.

My first day teaching.

My school, Amrah Bint.

My school, Amrah Bint.

Out on the town.

Out on the town.

On the beach in the Persian Gulf.

On the beach in the Persian Gulf.