Thursday, January 18, 2024

Beach Glamping in Ras Al Khaimah

We went beach glamping as a family ages ago, and I'm only getting around to blogging about it now. We stayed at Longbeach Campground in Ras Al Khaimah, one of the northern emirates that make up the seven-emirate federation of the United Arabic Emirates (UAE), along with a few other families from the U.S. Consulate. Ras Al Khaimah, sometimes abbreviated RAK and pronounced "rack", has a name that means "head of the tent" in Arabic and supposedly traces its origins to an actual tent that was once erected there for navigation. It seemed like an especially appropriate place to camp!

It was our first time camping in a tent with S, and we were very nervous about how much sleep any of us would get. My anxiety spiked when we arrived a bit early to the campsite and the tent was a sauna. We were sweating buckets and hoping it would cool down. Thankfully, once we opened up the tent the ocean breeze and setting sun did their thing. By evening the tent was not only cool but very pleasant.

The campground had family-friendly activities including a mini-zoo and kids' playroom, which we really appreciated so we could relax while S had a safe place to run around. The food was also buffet-style with a huge selection, which we not only love for ourselves but for making sure there's something that will fill up our ravenous but sometimes unpredictable toddler.

After we put S to sleep in our tent with the babycam, M and I had a romantic stroll around the campground and lounged by the ocean under clear skies next to crashing waves. We also miraculously snuck into the tent without waking him up, a feat I know other parents of small children will understand is one of the sweetest victories this phase of life has to offer. The whole experience was so restful and healing, and it was so nice to get away from the city and taste some nature.

On the day we left, I noticed a ton of morning glory blooms, and that's my favorite flower. RAK lives up to its reputation as a wonderful destination for getting outside, and I can't wait to explore some more of it while we're living in the UAE.

Sunday, January 7, 2024

My 2023 and 2024 New Year's Resolutions

I know New Year's Resolutions are controversial, but I love them for myself and I have a pretty good track record of meeting whatever resolution I set out each year. So let's take a look at how I did with my 2023 resolution and what I'm hoping to do in 2024.

In 2023, I had a very specific goal: exercise more days than not in the calendar year. This meant I needed to exercise 183 out of 365 days, and I'm happy to say I accomplished this one (by the skin of my teeth at exactly 183 days). I used a habit tracker color-in calendar from Etsy and color-coded the days I exercised by the type of exercise. It's interesting to see certain patterns, like more orange when I was in the States when I had a gym membership for Orangetheory Fitness and more brown in Dubai when I got a membership at Fitness First. I also don't work out on Sundays for religious reasons (unless I'm traveling and go for a hike or something wherever I travel), so it was more challenging than I expected getting a majority of the remaining six days of the week. There were also times I was sick or for other reasons couldn't exercise, so I can see my ability to do many days back to back ebbed and flowed throughout the course of the year. I do feel like this resolution helped me get back in the swing of exercising regularly, and I think I'll be able to continue that heading into 2024.

In 2024, my New Year's Resolution will focus on mindfulness. I plan to practice mindful eating and mindful sleeping for healthier habits. I also want to be a more engaged listener and be less distracted by things like my phone when I'm talking to others. Spiritually, I hope to improve my practice of and experience of prayer, which has become a bit of a rushed and chaotic exercise for me lately. And I would also like to meditate more. (I'm using the Headspace app, which I've found to be wonderful for meditation newbies.) Lastly, I want to be kinder to myself and let more things go.

My 2024 resolution is a lot more amorphous and less quantifiable than my 2023 resolution. But some years I find that just having a mantra or priority word like "mindfulness" is enough to lead me to make big change in my life. At every fork in the road, I can ask myself, "Is this choice supporting my goal of bringing more mindfulness into my life?" I'm looking forward to investing in my wellbeing this year and making some small progress towards a better, healthier, more peaceful self.