Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Memories: How to Improve Them

Memory is a fascinating topic, certainly to seniors – like me -- who sometimes wonder what our minds are doing or going.. I love to read, do internet research, play bridge… and I like to think that these activities are somehow warding off dementia. But my main concern is my increasingly poor memory. To combat this, I've told myself to pay more attention at the time I'm receiving new information. But a new study indicates that it's what I do after getting that new information that can make a difference.

A Little Wakeful Resting Can Go a Long Way
The study suggests I might just want to sit quietly for a few minutes after I learn something new, in order to recall it clearly later. University of Edinburgh psychological scientist Michaela Dewar and her colleagues told two short stories to 32 normal adults, aged 61-87. Immediately after, the researchers asked the participants to retell the stories in as much detail as possible.

Here’s where things got interesting. The listeners were then divided into two groups. The first group spent the next ten minutes in “wakeful resting,” sitting in a darkened room, with eyes closed, quietly thinking about whatever they wanted… or nothing. The second group, on the other hand, was shown a series of photo-pairs and asked to spot the differences between them. Each picture pair remained on the screen for 30 seconds.

Half an hour later – and then a week later in a separate test – the participants were asked again to retell the stories. The wakeful resters were able to recall significantly more story material than their game-playing counterparts.

Said study leaders Dewar, “Our findings support the view that the formation of new memories is not completed within seconds. Indeed our work demonstrates that activities that we are engaged in for the first few minutes after learning new information really affect how well we remember this information after a week.”

Dewar suggested that the moment at which we experience something is just the beginning of real memory formation, and that additional neural processes must occur in order for us to recall the full memory later.

Jeez, is it any wonder – with the constant bombardment of stimuli we encounter these days – that we think we sometimes forget more and more? I’d like to know how my own memories might improve if I lived in the woods for a few months – no TV, no radio, no cell phone, no internet, no Facebook, no freakin' Twitter! After the sylvan experience, I’d be able to recount in excruciating detail just how totally bored I was!

But this study does reinforce my dedication to mindfulness meditation, which I practice several times during the day. And it adds to my resolve to cut back on multi-tasking.

Here’s the July 23 press release about these memory findings from the Association for Psychological: Science: http://bit.ly/M6qRkA

Monday, July 30, 2012

75 and Sunny, 83 and a Few Clouds, 90 and Hazy

I came across this song -- 75 and Sunny -- on a friend's Facebook page and liked it. While it's 83 for me, not 75, it's still mostly sunny, comfortable, and enjoyable. But that almost certainly will decline at 90 and deteriorate seriously at 100.

I wasn't able to catch all the words in Montbleau's rendition, so I looked on Google and  found the lyrics below. The description of the climate in the 20's and 30's sounds familiar to this recovering alcoholic. Recovery certainly is one of the things that  makes it sunny at 75 (or 83).

75 and Sunny

I had a bad night
i mean not so bad i thought i was king of the world
and i drank till daylight
i mean i never stopped once til my hands finally fell
and i fought my daytime self
with a mighty dose of hey look at the night time me
i never do win that battle
but i fight it over and over and over and over it seems

and i saw an old man
smilin' on a park bench feedin' the pigeon's
my head was spinnin'
as my young body ached i wished for an old man's vision
and i watched the way he moved
so slow, serene, and lucky to be alive
and i thought to myself i'm never gonna make it that far
too many nights like last night

I'd rather be 75 and sunny
and acting like I'm 17 and freezing again
I'd rather be up early in the morning
than up late at night again erasin' memory's of where I've been
or to be through at 52 someday stone faced and leery eyed
you better believe i'm lookin for the moment
but my moment's growin' bigger by and by

and i've got a best friend
she dont drink or smoke like I've been known too
shes got a religion
shes a one women dynamo and shinin' light in every room she goes too
she says the light thats there wont go nowhere noway
she dont spend every second smilin'
but she's learnin' something exciting everyday

she'd rather be 75 and sunny
than 29 with a chance of showers all the time
she'd rather be old as dirt and new as any 9 dollar bottle of wine
or to be through at 35 momma stoned with her back to the win
you better believe she's looking for the moment
but her moment is the hold damn thing

i see these spin kids
double wide eye'd and rollin' and rollin' and tumblin'
there rollin' in inches
taken the high dive approach and screamin' towards the water
there hearts race a million miles
as they buy another smile from a jar
there bodies are screamin' for the water
you know i just hope they make it that far

i hope they're 75 and sunny
not 29 with a chance flurries all the time
i hope we're all old as dirt
and not new as any 25 dollar ride that we can try
or to be through 35 momma stnned with our backs to the wind
you better believe i'm lookin for the moment
but my moment sums up the hole damn thing

and i say I'd rather be 75
oh how nice, how easy for me to say
I've never broken a bone in my life
let alone had my heart or a hip replaced
and i keep this furious pace
and i still feel so good and strong
and i do get tempted for a taste, just a taste
to keep me going, going,going, going, gone

But I got a notion
that everything I've learned will come around
in my devotion to the new thing
and the next thing and the hip thing is slowin' down
and i got a life in here wont go nowhere noway
and i don't spend every second smilin'
and i ain't tryin' but I'm excited for today

cause I'd rather be 75 and sunny
than 29 with a chance of showers all the time
I'd rather be older than the wind
then this years new kid runnin' for my life
or to be through at 52 someday, stoned faced and leery eyed
you better believe i'm lookin for the moment but my moment
you better believe i'm lookin for the moment but my moment
you better believe i'm lookin for the moment
but my moments growin' bigger by and by by and by

Friday, July 27, 2012

In Memoriam: Lili Crane, July 7,1918 - July 26, 2012

Never say in grief
She is no more
Only say in thankfulness
She was

Lili at a birthday dinner a year ago. 
About to ask, "Why the hell are you taking my picture?"

Lili at her 90th birthday party with Ann Schappi and Kathy Gill Mundle.

And at her 85th birthday with an adoring admirer...

...and with her daughter Bambi.

Here she is stealing the show at the wedding of daughter Jodie and Baker 
as she makes her grand entrance on the arm of grandson Jamie. 
All that was missing was a band playing "Hello, Dolly!"

Monday, July 9, 2012

Ramadan Do's And Don'ts

Here are some quick pointers for those who previously have not been in the city during the Ramadan period:

ramadan in dubaiDO Dress Appropriately

Both men and women should dress conservatively, and not display too much skin when in public. Cover shoulders & upper arms, hemlines should reach the knee and pay attention to necklines.

DO Stop Smoking
As with eating and drinking, smoking is not allowed in public during the Holy Month of Ramadan. It’s the perfect time to quit; go on…. you know you want to!

DO Exchange Ramadan Greetings
It is customary to use the greeting “Ramadan Kareem” when meeting Muslims, and at the end of Ramadan, for the three day Eid celebrations, “Eid Mubarak”.

DO Be Charitable
An important element of the Holy Month is to be generous to those less fortunate by donating food, clothes or money to individuals and charitable organisations.

If you would like to acknowledge your Muslim maid or gardener, a token gift will be appropriate and much appreciated.

DO Be Considerate
Fasting can play havoc with a person’s eating and sleeping habits, so be sympathetic to people around you.

DO Avoid Driving at Sundown
As the day draws to a close, the roads fill with people heading to break their fast at Iftar celebrations. They haven’t eaten, or had a drink for twelve hours. If you don’t need to be on the road at that time, you would be wise to wait half an hour.

DO Enjoy the Local Culture
It’s so easy to live our lives in parallel lines. Ramadan in the one time of year you can blur the edges. Take your family along to one of the many hotel-based Iftar tents, soak up some local life, and don’t forget the backgammon set!

DO Accept Invitations
If have been invited to an Iftar meal with friends or colleagues, do go along. Remember not to go empty-handed. Arabic desserts or sweets are always a good option to offer your host.

DO NOT Eat in Public
Show respect for those who are fasting during the day by not eating and drinking in front of them. Most malls, and all hotels, will have one or two eateries open but discreetly tucked away behind screens / closed doors.

DO NOT Kiss or Hug Your Partner or Friends of the Opposite Sex in Public
As at other times of the year- but especially during Ramadan- avoid demonstrative acts of affection in public, as you will cause offence.

DO NOT Play Loud Music
Ramadan is a time for prayer and spiritual reflection. As such, it is important to respect the peace by not playing loud music in your home or car.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Top 10 Things To Do During Ramadan

Even as a non-Muslim, the Holy Month of Ramadan feels like a special time of year. It is a month of giving, peacefulness and introspection. There are things that you can do during this month to either join in or make the most of a less frantic pace of life.

1. Diet
There is a lot of focus on the breaking of the fast during Ramadan so it is the perfect time to go on a diet or to start eating healthily. You can make it a healthy eating month to kick start some good habits. Scrap the take- aways for a month and cook yourself healthy food during this time.

2. Exercise
You will see lots of people taking a walk just before or after Iftar. Join in! Use this month to get fit and active. Cycling is becoming very more popular in Dubai so get a bike and get pedaling- it’s great for cardio and less stress on your joints than jogging. If your building has a gym or pool- start to use them during this time and your exercise routine will have become a habit by the end of Ramadan.

3. Charity Work
Ramadan is also about giving to or looking after those less fortunate than yourself. Look at ways that you can become involved in a local charity whether it is through donating time, money or unwanted goods. There are always lots of great charity initiatives during this time that you can take part in. See what you can find to take part in and you may end up becoming a regular volunteer for one of Dubai’s worthy causes.

iftar in dubai
4. Iftar
Do go along to a traditional Arabic Iftar… there are so many to choose from and have great food and a relaxing atmosphere. It’s great to see so many different nationalities joining in with the traditional breaking of the fast. It's a great chance to sample many Arabic dishes that you may not have tried before.

5. Read
Life can be very hectic in Dubai so take the time during this month to expand your mind. When was the last time you sat down and truly relaxed with a good book? Read something inspirational and uplifting to really get you thinking about life.

6. Learn
Have you been wanting to learn a new skill? Cooking? A language? More about the Emirati culture? This is the perfect time to focus on learning and discovering new things. Visit Dubai's museums and cultural establishments to find out more about the history and culture of where we are living.

7. Travel
Lots of local hotels have special rates during Ramadan so you can take this opportunity to explore more of the region. Have you visited all of the Emirates yet? That’s a great challenge and there are some great sights to be seen and roads to be travelled. Oman is another great destination during this time- Salalah has the Khareef Festival happening and it can be a lot cooler over that side.

8. Host A Dinner
Family and friends are important during this time as is showing hospitality. Why not take the chance to hold a gathering at your place one evening and invite your nearest and dearest. You could try your hand at cooking and preparing yummy Arabic food or order in a feast from one of the many great Arabic restaurants.

9. Give Up Smoking
This is the perfect opportunity for you to give up smoking- you know it makes sense for your health. There is no smoking in public during the day in Ramadan so you will face less temptation than normal which should help you and your will power. Make a plan now how you are going to do this and set a stop date. If you need help you could try reading Alan Carr’s book, Champix tablets, Nicotinel, hypnosis, acuptncture and ask your doctor what they would recommend for you as a quitting program.

10. Fast For A Day
Why don’t you try and fast for one day so that you can see what your Muslim neighbours, friends or work colleagues do during Ramadan and how it feels. This will help you understand and empathise more with people who are fasting.

We really hope you take the time during this special month to join in the spirit of the season.

We've also got more information for you about Ramadan...
Ramadan Guide>>
Ramadan Pointers>>

Saturday, July 7, 2012

ExpatWoman Ramadan Guide

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar and is one of the most important months for Muslims as it is believed this is the month that the Qu'ran was first revealed to the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH). During this month all healthy Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset when they must refrain from all food, drink, gum chewing, any kind of tobacco use, and any kind of intimacy.

Ramadan in DubaiPeople who are physically or mentally unwell are exempt, as are people who are travelling, women who are pregnant, who are menstruating and children under twelve. If the fast is missed they should try to make up the fast at a later date, or make a donation to the poor instead.

Ramadan or Sawn is one of the five pillars of Islam which all Muslims are expected to follow, the other four are Faith (Shahadah); Prayer (Salah), Charitable Giving (Zakah), and the Pilgrimage to Makkah (Hajj).

During Ramadan most Muslims will tend to wake up just before sunrise to eat a meal or some food and this is known as Suhoor. They will then not be able to eat or drink again until sunset when it is traditional to open the fast with a date and then eat and this meal is known as Iftar.

"All residents have to respect the month of Ramadan- which means adopting the following rules in public places during daylight hours."

DO's and DON'Ts:

  • No eating, drinking or smoking in public.
  • Dress more modestly taking care to cover the shoulders, knees and chest area.
  • Don’t play loud music in your home or car.
  • No public displays of affection.
Things That Are Different:
  • Some businesses change their opening hours.
  • Some shops may close in the afternoon (1pm onwards) but most also stay open to later times.
  • There is no live music allowed during Ramadan and of course no alcohol served during daylight - bars and restaurants do open in the evening though with light background music.
  • Rush hour time changes from 6pm till 2pm as most offices close at that time.
Tips for non-fasters:
  • There are restaurants and cafes that have a special licence open during the day for non- fasters and these will be screened off from public view so it is still possible to eat outside your home. Most hotels have an outlet open during the day too.
  • If you work most offices will implement an area for eating and drinking - don’t have coffee or water at your desk as it may disturb your colleagues.
  • If you are pregnant you are exempt from fasting but it is polite to still be discreet. Same with children - they do not have to fast too but it is always best to be discreet.
  • Your car is classed as a public place so definitely no smoking in there.
  • You can also use restrooms in malls etc. to take a drink.
  • Try and be patient with people who are fasting - it is tough and it is hot here. Ramadan is a time of peace and you should not shout or show anger.
  • The roads do tend to become a little faster than normal just before Iftar time as people are rushing home to break their fast - take care or avoid driving at this time.
Ramadan is a very special time of year - so embrace where you are and join in - why not try fasting to see what it is like? Do something for charity in the spirit of the season - thinking about others less fortunate than ourselves.
You should also try and sample one of the cities many Iftar buffets - enter into the spirit of the season. Ramadan is also a time where people exercise more - so join in and get fit!

See our full list of  Ramadan pointers>>

Thursday, July 5, 2012

ExpatWoman Damas "My Every Day Diamonds" Event

damas dubai event

We’ve got two great sessions for you to choose from (a mid- morning one and a special evening session for those who are unavailable during the daytime).

Date: Monday, July 16th 2012
Time: 11.00 am-1.00 pm, and 6.00 pm- 8.00 pm
Venue: Damas Les Exclusives Boutique, Dubai Mall (Ground floor, next to Tiffany & Co.)

This is a fabulous and FREE Event for ExpatWoman.com readers!

Damas will be launching its exciting new diamond brand and you can be amongst the first in Dubai to witness the unveiling of their gorgeous new pieces. Starting at only AED 2,656, the collection embodies ‘affordable luxury’ at its finest.

There will be many exciting activities at the event, including…
  • A lucky dip diamond pick- will you be the one to pluck out the solitaire diamond nestled amongst the cubic zircons? If you pick it, you win it!
  • Informative and interesting one-on-one diamond education presentations by a Damas retail expert
  • A personal stylist from O’ My Glamour! will be on hand for one to one consultations on your style and fashion advice- what jewellery designs suit your face and body shape? What colour jewellery looks best on your skin tone? How should you wear diamonds to best match your clothing style?
  • Free, professional, on- the- spot cleaning of an item of your precious jewellery
  • Delicious canapés and refreshments will be served
  • There will be lovely goodie bags for the first 100 lucky ladies at each event (morning and evening), which include pampering treats such as NStyle vouchers, Amara Spa vouchers, Imprint Photography vouchers, Damas surprise, plus more…
  • Enjoy the smooth vocals of Richard, the popular Dubai-based singer, writer and guitarist
  • Have your photo taken in front of our ‘vintage glamour’ brand wall and take away a nice souvenir from your ‘every day diamond’ event
  • Enrol in the “Damas Special Moments” Service so that we can send gentle reminders to the special people in your life about your upcoming ‘special moments’ (Birthdays, anniversaries, etc)
A map will be given out upon arrival to help you navigate around the exciting in-store stations.

This is a free event but spaces are limited so please email events@expatwoman.com to confirm you and your friends' attendance and which time you will be attending.

Don’t miss out on this great event!

damas dubai diamond ring

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

ExpatWoman Movie Review The Artist

The ArtistWhile indulging in movies and popcorn on my couch this weekend and I came across The Artist, a film that I had yearned to see but never got around to doing so. What a mistake that was as I enjoyed every silent second of it.

Directed by Michel Hazanavicius this French romantic comedy-drama stars Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo. The story is set in 1920s Hollywood and is filmed in the way of the silent films of the time with action and reaction accompanied by music that suits the mood and elevates the drama. 

The only text in the movie is provided by French titles that are reminiscent of Charlie Chaplin films. Even though the titles are in French some American actors are highly recognizable in the film including John Goodman, James Cromwell and Missy Pyle. It is obvious that when the characters speak they do so in English yet the titles are French. It is a movie that relies on action and reaction as opposed to the spoken word. The only real sounds that are heard are the laughter and clapping of the audience at the beginning of the film and the final scenes of the movie. The rest of the film pays homage to the silent movies of that particular period in Hollywood.

The film begins with famed silent movie star George Valentin at the premiere of his film, A Russian Affair, where he bumps into a beautiful young woman Peppy Miller and poses and displays her to the cameras for a laugh. Peppy is photographed and lands up on the front page of Variety with the headline, “Who’s That Girl.” Later Peppy auditions for a dancing part in a movie and she is yet again spotted by George who insists, to the director’s protests, that Peppy have a small part as an extra in the film. Even though her part is small the chemistry of the acting veteran and the aspiring actress is immediately obvious. Later in his dressing room George Draws a beauty spot on Peppy’s cheek, this later becomes her trademark.

The film follows the two as they lead their separate lives, George’s career goes down as he rebels the popularity of the “talkies” the post silent movie era by directing and producing his own silent film when the rest of Hollywood embraces the “talkies” in which Peppy Miller has become a star. Meanwhile Peppy’s own rise in the film industry is shown by her name rising in the credits until she becomes a star in her own right. 

While George sinks deeper and deeper into depression with regards to his failed career and, by this time, failed marriage, Peppy blossoms as an actress and a personality. The two finally meet when George is hospitalized after an incident involving a blaze at his apartment. The romance plays out from that point.

Even though the movie is silent and if you are not French speaking you will understand the nuances of the film as it is incredibly well directed and acted. It is poignant and funny and will have you reminiscing of a simpler time when people used their eyes to interpret what was on the screen before them without such a heavy reliance on dialogue. That is one thing about this movie, if you decide to watch it, commit to it fully, do not allow yourself to be distracted and you will be wowed by its complexity of character disguised by the simplicity of black and white footage and almost no dialogue at all.

I recommend this to all who have an appreciation for the art of film.

Nela L.  for ExpatWoman

For more reviews on films, TV shows, books, games, apps and more visit out Review section... Take Me There>>

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Top 10 Settling In To Dubai Tips

Starting a new life is an adventure- it can be scary but it can also be amazing! Over the years we’ve offered advice to 1000’s of women and families moving to the region to help them settle in. Here are EW’s top ten tips to help you settle in and start to enjoy your new life as soon as possible.

Settling in Dubai1. Don’t sweat the small stuff- it’s so tempting to try and get everything done at once- your head will explode if you try doing this! Give everything time and focus on your main objectives. It’s not a race and some things will take longer than others- be realistic in your goals.

2. Get listing- write yourself lists to keep control of all the tasks you need to do and give yourself enough time to achieve the tasks- it will take you up to 6 months to be properly settled with everything from curtains to spoons sorted.

3. Don’t forget about yourself- a lot of women spend all their time making sure their family is all settled and ok and don’t even think about themselves- you need me time too. Take at least an hour a week to do something nice just for you- a massage, a mani/ pedi etc.

4. Ever so lonely- Remember you don’t have your extended family and friends around you like you would in your home country. You might feel lonely or down at times- don’t panic- it’s perfectly natural. Try to start forming new friendships with people but also keep in touch with loved ones through webcam and Facebook- will make you feel less isolated. 

Settling in Dubai with Friends5. Room at the inn? Don’t get too inundated with visitors in the first 6 months- yes it’s exciting to have people coming to visit but if you’re not careful you will be a bed and breakfast and tourist guide every week as aunts, uncles and random cousins all decide to descend upon you and you won’t have settled in properly yourselves.

6. Say yes to things- you will start to get invited to all sorts once you have made a few connections- anything from camping trips to barbeques- say yes! It’s all about expanding your social circle and having new experiences- if you’re not enjoying yourself you can always leave. 

7. You may experience changes in your health- anything from hair loss to upset stomachs- this is all part of the settling in experience. You are being exposed to different bugs, water, atmosphere, foods etc. and your health may be affected. You can fit a shower filter to help with hair loss and make sure all fruit and veg are washed properly before eating.

8. Drive time- driving is a major part of your independence in Dubai. Yes taxis are plentiful and the metro is great too but having the ability to just pop in your own car to the shops or do the school run is a great independence booster. The roads look big and scary and the standard of driving is somewhat erratic but you will get used to it- practice defensive driving techniques and start of learning a few regular routes to ease you in gently.

Settling in Dubai - Fitness9. Watch out for the “Dubai stone”! You may find your weight starts to creep up- this is due to a lessening in walking and the scrummy food available here. Make sure you keep an exercise regime and try and stay as active as possible to replace those lost steps you would normally take every day. Almost every possible type of gym, class, sport and exercise is available here so make the most of it.

10. Take full advantage of everything offered by ExpatWoman.com of course! Use the forum for research and queries to the experts, read the FAQs to help guide you through all the processes and procedures, attend a coffee morning to meet new people, attend the EW special events to have some fab experiences and read YOU! Magazine to catch up on all the news!

We do hope you settle in as soon as possible and as calmly as possible!

ExpatWoman Dubai Quick Links
We have so much going on our busy website so here are some quick links for you for other pages and sections that are very useful...