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  • Liz Totton

What The Heck Are We Doing?


What a fitting title to my first real attempt at blogging. Confusing? Probably! It seems to summarize my existence to some degree. I own so many blogs. I have had so many seemingly fantastic ideas for blogs that just never took—I never thought I had anything interesting to report despite a clever title or catchy tagline. I know a decent writer can make even the most blasé incident sound interesting, and I have never been confident enough in my ability to do so. Here’s my test. If you give me positive reinforcement, I just may stick to this blog. Yes, I am that needy.

My family is embarking upon a journey that should* take us to some really interesting, remote parts of the world—places that few comprehend or even know to exist. My husband, Rob, landed what sounds like the job of a lifetime for a green energy engineer who is passionately devoted to energy conservation.

We will be moving to Abu Dhabi in 2 weeks. Where the heck is that, you may ask?! (I know I did not know exactly where this place is though you readers may be more geographically sophisticated than I.) It is in the United Arab Emirates—U.A.E.; abbrev.  The U.A.E., like Rob, is devoted to conservation but not necessarily for the same reasons of conscience. The residents of this country are truly citizens of nation built upon sand, in a hostile desert environment with no natural water sources—their very existence MUST be engineered for future survival. Enter Rob and many other professionals from over 220 countries. He has been tasked in part, with many others, to make this city the most energy-efficient city in the world.

My laylady’s take on what’s going on there is that they are trying to wrestle themselves free of impending climatic destruction wrought on by “carbon bondage.” Ironic, of course, in that the U.A.E.’s GDP revolves entirely upon other nation’s oil consumption. Pause a moment to think that this small, exceedingly wealthy nation understands that our world’s current levels of consumption are unsustainable, but America (ginormous superpower) has yet to draw this same, foregone conclusion in any meaningful, political way.

Those of you who know me know that I am not a great big fan of the Marvels of Modern Engineering, nor am I as determined to consume less—my raison d’être has always been uniquely American: MORE, MORE & MORE!!!!!. I am an artist and care for little else than aesthetics, procurement of the latest techie stuff (UGH, Apple when I found you sexy, I knew I was old) and, last but not least, I live for fun! [END OF ENERGY-RELATED PREACHING. PERIOD.]  Not my style. This blog will be dedicated to our family’s exploration of this new landscape. I hope I can expand upon this part of the world to anyone who is interested. My dream is to make Abu Dhabi and Olympia, WA sister cities, if anyone will let me. Why not?! Can you imagine more opposite places? I cannot.


So the reality of leaving our very cozy existence in the United States, more specifically the fabulous Pacific Northwest, just hit me like a brick after a marvelous kid-free weekend in Portland (thanks to our wonderful friends, Laurie & Dave—thank you :).

WHAT THE HECK ARE WE DOING?! Why would we divest ourselves of  all some (very little actually)  of our worldly possessions, and leave the very temperate and friendly PNW for a desert outpost city?!

HOT, desert sun


What the heck! Who does that?

Well, we do, I guess. Why? You may ask. We are continually asking this of ourselves as all our possessions get wrapped and ready to travel by sea to join us in Abu Dhabi. The few answers we have come up with are probably not too surprising.

Here they are:

  1. Adventure? Of course, who doesn’t want a little adventure in life? It’s short. I am just not content driving down that same street—lovely as it is—for the rest of my life. Are you? I am sure some people are. I really wish I were. I am very interested in why other people do not share my wanderlust. Weigh in. I aspire to feel less wanderlust and more contentment as I age.

  2. Shared Mid-life crisis? I cannot imagine a better kind of mid-life crisis than a shared one. Can you? I am so thankful we seek the same kind of thrills. Starting new used to be a pastime for my husband, Rob, and me. Now, having kids, it’s a bit different—try less fun and more stressful. The stakes are so much higher!

  3. International Exposure? I always imagined that our daughters would be raised cross-culturally. I assumed that is what happens where you marry a person from another country–not true at all. America is an unusual place. You kind of get a little stuck. When your benefits are entirely tied to your place of work, it is very hard to make any kind of move. This is, of course, assuming you are at all mobile. That is not so easy in America anymore. So when a travel opportunity falls in your lap, what do you do? “Seize any (safe) opportunity to journey to a new place, immerse in a new culture, or experience new landscape. Your mind will open in immeasurable ways.”

And so it begins. My intrepid two daughters (Skye, 12 & Lucienne, 9) begin this journey with me on Saturday, August 10th. Their dad is their already paving the way for us a bit–thanks :). Love you!! When I write “intrepid,” it’s not just a word. They are really brave; of course, they have to be—what choice do they really have? But, they are. I love them. They are about to embark upon an entirely new life. None of us can begin to imagine what’s in store for us. Every day they imagine things they will love about it: the food constantly comes up–it does look delicious, and what they think they will hate about it: Lucie has researched the fauna religiously: pray that a red back spider never crosses this young arachnophobe’s back, please! Aside from that, they are pretty excited most of the time. With this journey, I hope to instill our passion for traveling, new experiences, cultures, religions, and languages into them. I just wish I could have done this 5 years ago, but this is how and what it is and off we go!

Wish us luck, mercy and peace. We will need the latter most where we are going.

*”Should” like if it all goes as we planned in our dreamy, travel minds: You know, how things “should” be… Well this almost never happens for any of us, but I am going to be positive here and say that yes, this will all happen as planned, and you will nod with a smile perhaps over a drink knowing that this rarely happens “as planned” because, chances are, you are my friend and I love you.

#Olympia #WA #Travelabroad #Dubai #AbuDhabi #UAE #Expat #Travelwithkids

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