CATCHING UP!

2016-02-01-10-52-58-370Wow, what an exciting month this has been!  I’ve been working on my own personal podcast, the podcast I  Co-Produce with my partner at Blue Jinni Media, my new cookbook, a children’s book, and a new film!  I wonder if a woman with a family to manage can put on any more duties and responsibilities?  Gosh, I certainly hope not!

The new podcast is called, Desert Magnolia, just like the novel, and I really hope that you’ll enjoy it.  I’m truly just doing that one for fun, and I’m talking about topics that I want to talk about, with no real ryme or reason, pretty much discussion / talk show style.

If there’s a topic that you’d like to hear about, please let me know!  Give me a shout out at any time, and if it’s possible, I’ll talk about it.  Be nice now, and take it seriously.  I truly do want to offer topics that matter.

Empty Nest Syndrome

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Ever since my son started his military conscription service, I’ve been thinking of this off and on. By this time next year, Ibrahim, my son with Autism, may be my only kid at home! Saeed will be back in Graduate School.  Hanan will have started a University program of some kind, and Abdullah will be in his conscription service.  My, oh my, what a change that will be!

It got me wondering though, about the expectations of a woman with grown children.  Traditionally, women at this stage are expected to accept their status as “old” and wait for grandchildren to arrive on the scene so that they have someone to bake cookies for.

The thing is…I never really was the “cookie baking type”, even when my kids were small.  I preferred to buy the cookies already made and spend my time doing things like this…blogging, writing, film making, podcasting, screenwriting, etc… I also don’t believe in age as a number, but as an attitude.  Einstein believed that time doesn’t exist and there could be countless versions of us in countless versions of the past, present and future.  So, in this way of thinking, the power of positive thinking and positive attraction stands to reason.  If you can imagine a version of yourself that doesn’t age pysically, but retains that child like attitude towards learning new things and trying new experiences, you can conceivably be young forever. .. Well, I don’t know if it’s possible, but I do know that there are NO rules anymore.  Age as a number means nothing, and there are 90+ year old people that are still athletes and active scholars and travelers. So, don’t blame me if I don’t do the expected and just sit around waiting to die.  That’s not gonna happen here, if God’s willing.

My new film project, “Just a Girl” will address some of these issues, so I’m looking forward to calling attention to that.  I’m also thinking of making an episode on female issues for my new podcast, Desert Magnolia, as well.  Let me know if there’s something you want me to discuss!

That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t really address the issue of Empty Nest Syndrome.  I know it’s something that I need to prepare for now. How do you prepare for it?

I assume that you carry on being busy and productive, whilst looking after yourself physically, mentally and spiritually.  That’s my plan at least.  However, the heart is the heart, and I know this is going to be a BIG adjustment.

What Does it Mean to be Southern?

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First of all, by “Southern”, I mean those who are either from the Southern states of the USA, or they have relatives there.  I found this quote to explain…

“More than any other part of America, the South stands apart. Thousands of Northerners and foreigners have migrated to it … but Southerners they will not become. For this is still a place where you must have either been born or have ‘people’ there, to feel it is your native ground. “Natives will tell you this. They are proud to be Americans, but they are also proud to be Virginians, South Carolinians, Tennesseeans, Mississippians and Texans. But they are conscious of another loyalty too, one that transcends the usual ties of national patriotism and state pride. It is a loyalty to a place where habits are strong and memories are long. If those memories could speak, they would tell stories of a region powerfully shaped by its history and determined to pass it on to future generations.”

— Tim Jacobson, Heritage of the South
That’s a great quote, but I’m a little upset that Mr. Jacobson didn’t include Alabama in that list.  Nevertheless, the concept remains.
Many people look at the South and think racism, marrying relatives, or uneducated.  Well, let me just say that those are ignorant stereotypes, and in the South, you can find many of the most kind hearted, friendly and down to Earth people that you’d ever want to meet.  Of course, there’s the occasional radical that stirs things up and commits atrocities, but isn’t that the case everywhere you go?
I’ve lived in the Middle East for more than 20 years, but part of my heart will always be in the South, and here’s why…
Being from the old South and raised in proper Southern ways means that you still believe in a genteel way, a way that communicates your appreciation for beauty, generosity, being a good neighbor, and a devotion to God and the land that you’re standing on.  It means smiling at a stranger and saying, “Hi”, or holding the door open for someone, helping a stranger with heavy bags or telling a joke to make everyone feel relaxed.
It also means dressing up no matter where you go, even if it’s just to the supermarket.  My Southern “lady” grandma taught me that.  She said that the very day that I decide to go in my sweat pants to the supermarket is the day that the Mayor will be there, or TV crews will be doing a story about the high prices.  She taught me to look my best all the time.  Sometimes I look around today and wonder if anyone else got that memo.
She taught me how to eat with my mouth closed and walk like a lady.  She said that a lady or a gentleman should eat and walk with no sound at all.  Until now, I hate the sound of dragging or sliding feet.
Most of all, she taught me devotion to family, and that family sticks together no matter what.  I’ve passed on a great deal of my “Southernness” to my kids, and I’m proud of that.  I may wear a hijab now and I live in a place that I have to miss the sight of open land and clear blue skies, but the best of the South is within me, and that’s been passed on. So, on that note, Y’all have a great day, and come back and see us soon, Ya hear? 🙂
Oh, and don’t forget that you can enjoy my book, Desert Magnolia in both print and as an Ebook via many online stores such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble, via http://www.bluejinnimedia.com

NEW SCREENING of LEMONADE! Book tickets NOW! :)

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Hey there! Good afternoon and Happy Friday to everyone. I have a VERY important announcement to make. I have the details for our screening of Lemonade, and guess what? When you book a ticket on the link that I shall now provide, you can come to ALL of the events at the WOW festival! Since we are presenting a film that promotes awareness of special needs, we may also avail of the special needs discount option, so go ahead and book your ticket. Don’t forget that the money all goes to support the Al Jalila Foundation, so by coming to my event and any of the other events at the festival, you’re supporting children in need. 🙂 Here’s the details: SCREENING TIME: 8PM
DATE: MARCH 6th, 2017
Location: A4 AL SERKAL CINEMA

and HERE’s the link to purchase your WOW Festival membership so that you can get into all events for the festival.

https://www.wastatickets.com/events/world-of-women-wow-women’s-day-program-membership

 

How Being Raised as a Steel Magnolia Helped Me Cope with Having an Autistic Child in the Arab World

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Being raised in the South gave me the coping methods I needed to get through it all.

Written by Dedra L. Stevenson, author of Desert Magnolia, http://www.bluejinnimedia.com

For the last 27 years, I’ve lived in the United Arab Emirates.  I dress, speak and live as the people here, and I consider the UAE to be my country.  I love this place, and I’m very happy to be a part of making it a better place by raising good kids, writing books, and hopefully, making life a little easier for my Autistic son.

There are other American women here who have opted to marry into this culture, embrace the religion, and help to contribute to the country in many amazing ways, but I am one of the few that are from the South, and the ONLY one from Alabama.

I was raised by a Steel Magnolia, and for those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s a prim and proper Southern lady that is tough as nails despite her dainty and elegant appearance.  For those of you who’ve seen Gone with the Wind, you already know the prototype for the Steel Magnolia, Scarlett O’Hara.

Despite the odds against her, Scarlett managed to take care of her family, survive the war, and even manage to thrive under conditions that would have broken the average woman, and she did it all with a smile and a corset! She always looked “just so”, no matter what was going on, even an attack by the Yankees.

I was fortunate enough to be raised like this, and I’m proud to say that I too, have been through traumatic experiences that would have destroyed the average person, but managed to survive and “thrive” under the most dire of circumstances.  I am very proud to be a Steel Magnolia, and now that I’m a part of a Middle Eastern culture, I’m proud to be the world’s first Desert Magnolia.

My son Ibrahim suffers from Autism, and in spite of having a limited offering of services available to us at the time, we have managed to raise a very sweet and loving young man, and now he’s all set to be the “poster child” for home schooling adults with Autism in the UAE.  When my short documentary, LEMONADE, releases, Ibrahim will be the subject of a great deal of discussion, and hopefully, he will provide hope for others who are in his situation.

It’s been a rough go, and that’s a fact.  I remember times that I was ready to give up, especially when his attacks first started.  Getting him on the right medication was undoubtedly the biggest part of the puzzle that we had to piece together, and thanks to God Almighty, we have found assistance when we’ve needed it the most.

But getting Ibrahim to where he is now has been more than just adjusting his medication and his diet.  We are emotional beings at the end of the day as well, and I truly believe that the compassion and family closeness that I was raised with helped me to make sure that Ibrahim received the devotion that he needed to thrive as well.

We have found amazing carers for him, and designed a wonderful home school program with a variety of activities that keep him engaged and fulfilled each and every day, and seeing this makes me incredibly proud.  Just like Scarlett, when I see the family that I’ve built, it makes me so proud and happy.  Finally, I have grown into the Matriarch that I was born to be.

 

Hot Tea or Iced Tea? Arabic or Southern?

The difference is only in the temperature and the presentation.  In both the Arab world and the South, the use is the same.

Southern families serve sweet tea with just about every meal.  It’s the house wine of the Southern states, and no meal would ever be complete without it.  It’s not just for mealtime either, it’s for sitting around with the family or with friends, when people are just “shooting the breeze” as we say.

Arabs serve tea with every meal as well, and it’s also something to drink while socializing.  People drink many cups of it every day, as the Southerners are drinking iced tea by the gallons.

 

English and American cookbooks report that tea has been served cold at least since the early nineteenth century, when cold green tea punches, heavily spiked with liquor, were popular.   These punches went by names such as Regent’s Punch, named after George IV, the English prince regent between 1811 until 1820, and king from 1820 to 1830.

Iced tea’s popularity comes along at about the same time as refrigeration.  The “icebox” as it was known was in place by the middle of the 19th century, and the term refrigerator was used for the first patented ice box in 1803.  After that, the term “refrigerator” was common.

In the Middle East, coffee was the drink of choice until Indian traders began to sell tea in the Middle Eastern region, which was also in the late 1700’s.  Since then, tea has been largely known for it’s heart healthy benefits and it’s pleasant taste as something you can drink loads of, as Arabic conversations tend to last for hours sometimes. (Just like Southerners)

So, whether it’s cold or hot, the two cultures are both tea cultures, and it’s become a large part of how we sit together and spend time as a family.

If you want to read a great book that centers around the idea of the two cultures being connected, have a look at DESERT MAGNOLIA by Dedra L. Stevenson on http://www.bluejinnimedia.com  and sign up for our mailing list while you’re online for special offers, new products and contests. https://bluejinnimedia.com/community-signup/