Moving!

Hello all,

I wanted to let you know that, as of today, I am officially changing websites from this one to my new artist site fromNoelle.com. It’s an easier place for me to play with different ideas, experiment with my art and writing, and organise all my projects in a more perusable way. Hopefully you will come along for the ride and follow along with me there too :).

Because you have all been so kind and supportive this last year, I also wanted to give you a sneak peek at the next post going up on the new site! I’ve been playing with watercolor a lot this last week and finally got brave enough to attempt a scene of Oman I’ve wanted to paint for ages.

A sneak peek of the next post on fromNoelle.com!

A sneak peek of the next post on fromNoelle.com!

Thanks for all the support you’ve given the last year here on Three Miles an Hour. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens with the new site!

Best,

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An Artistic Retreat

Voices from Within

Cutting the ribbon to kick off the show! Photo credit: ReeHan Photographic Gallery

One of the most liberating things I have done in my quest to unleash my inner artist is to suck up my fears and attend the Gailani Art Retreat in Muscat. The idea of painting in front of other people was absolutely terrifying, and for the majority of my first retreat I was actually shaking a little. But I made it through the first one, eagerly went back for a second, and am happy to announce that one of my paintings was in the retreat’s Voices from Within exhibition last Saturday!

At my last retreat, I met a muse in a new 9-year old friend who had no fear about changing things up mid course. When I was stuck she wouldn't hesitate to throw something on the canvas to give me a new starting point. It was fantastic! There's nothing like a kid to help you paint without fear.

At my last retreat, I met a muse in a new 9-year old friend who had no fear about changing things up mid-course. When I was stuck, she wouldn’t hesitate to throw something on the canvas to give me a new starting point. It was fantastic! There’s nothing like a kid to help you paint without fear. Photo credit: ReeHan Photographic Gallery

These retreats are such a breath of fresh air. The purpose is not to create amazing pieces of art (though they create themselves anyway!), it is to spend an entire day dedicated to allowing your artistic expression to find its way to the canvas.

If at any point, you appear to be planning, plotting, outlining or in any other way deciding on the future of a piece, Gailani (the fantastic artist and founder of the retreats) will come by and mess everything up for you. He’ll turn the canvas upside down, streak red paint across your blue background or take your brush away and slap your hands on the canvas. It’s not about the outcome, it’s about the process, which makes every moment interesting and exciting. Every stroke, every motion is about doing what you feel inspired to do.

Gailani Retreat Growth

These paintings came from the retreat theme of growth. I have come to see growth as a natural and inevitable fact of life – a guaranteed outcome from everything we do – but it is something I have often tried to control in my own life. I’ve attempted to force growth in a predetermined direction (despite its inclination otherwise) or inhibit it to maintain my own status quo out of fear. This retreat challenged me to let growth happen as it wants to without judging it, forcing it, censoring it or editing it. Photo credit: ReeHan Photographic Gallery.

Although I couldn’t be in Muscat for the exhibition, I am really pleased to know that it had a huge turnout (over 430 guests!) and inspired more people to look to art as a way of finding their voice. I certainly look forward to meeting some of them at the next retreat.

To read more about the exhibition, check out the Times of Oman write up here! It really captures the purpose of the retreats and the brave and engaging spirit of all the people who participate in it. I’m so glad I’ve found this group of artists in my new hometown.

See you next time!

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Fluffy Sofas and Domestic Bliss (or not)

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A strange thing happened this morning. I woke up giddily excited about the day. The day. Not anything it contains, not anything that will happen in particular. Just the day itself. The fact that it exists. I haven’t felt that way for a very long time and I am pretty excited about it.

There are a few reasons I think this might have happened (and hopefully will continue happening). I’ve been really focusing lately on the way I think about the events in my life and how I chose what things I do (and don’t do). I have learned a few things since moving here (ok, re-learned the same things again, for the millionth time) that have made me approach my life and my attitude differently. It feels good. It feels fresh. It feels like I am walking through a forest, smelling the pine trees and fresh dirt and feeling happy to be alive. It’s really nice.

I’ve been wanting to share a few of these ideas with you (I’ve missed our chats!), but as I started writing about each one they got long enough to be their own post. So I will just start with the one that is on my mind most today: expectations.

Moving to London

When I moved to London, I was SO freaking excited. I could barely contain myself. But in the last couple of months leading up to the move, I also felt some serious fear and frustration because, although I was DYING to get there, I couldn’t picture what my life would look like at all. I had no idea how to envision it. I knew I would be studying and that’s about it. I had no idea where I would live, who I would live with, what friends I might meet, what my classes would be like, what my university would look like, nothing. Absolutely nothing. And looking back, although that really caused me a huge amount of stress in the lead-up to the move, it was the greatest gift I could have been given.

I walked into London with no expectations at all. Not one. It was amazing. I truly made every day my own. Everyone was a new friend waiting to be met. Every street was a little present waiting to be unwrapped. Every walk was an adventure. I watched every day play out however it chose to and not only appreciated that I was there for it but experienced unbridled joy at the thought that I was lucky enough to be in the middle of it all. It was really one of the most incredible experiences I have ever had.

Now, let’s compare that to my most recent change. Continue reading

We're Here!

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We’re finally here!

Ok, we’ve been here for about two and a half weeks now, but we’re officially here in blog world. It’s been plenty of time to learn a few things about the place and to start exploring some of the hidden spots nearby.

Three Things I Have Learned About Living in Oman So Far

  • I will learn patience by being here. I hope.
    • Things happen slowly here. I know, I know, I am meant to be the one who touts the ideals of slowness, but sometimes slow is frustrating. It’s particularly frustrating when there is not a thing you can do to influence the speed in any way. You have to just accept that it will take twice the time you think it might, even if you have already prepared for double the amount of time you think it will take. That’s just the way it is. Have some tea and relax into the phrase insha’Allah. This is good practice for me, but man is it hard sometimes!
  • Winter is a relative term.
    • Someone yesterday asked me if I agreed that it was a little too cold. I did not agree (although I pretended to to be friendly). In the deepest darkest of night last night it was 65F/18C. We slept under light blankets with the window wide open. It is not cold.
  • I really like it here.
    • Despite frustrations about flat hunting, bureaucracy about visas and general disagreement about why some things must happen the way they do, I am really enjoying it so far. The aforementioned frigid temperatures are just right for me. I have met a lot of really lovely, very friendly, totally laid back and enjoyable people. We might have a flat to live in in the next couple of days; a little home of our own after years of temporary living. That might even happen today. Insha’Allah.

Our First Official Hike

One of the things I am most excited about doing in Oman is exploring the natural wonders it has to offer. There are wadis that need hiking, dive sites that need visiting, and sand dunes that need Jeeping. So much to do! My best Christmas present may have been this stack of books and maps about Oman. I am dying to start working through them!

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We have been flat hunting on the weekends, so we haven’t had a lot of time to get out and about yet, but we did manage to sneak in a little hike in the city last week and it was beautiful. We saw incredibly dramatic scenery and stopped to watch lots of little creatures going about their days. Plus, we had the whole place to ourselves. Without anyone else around or any sounds from the city, it felt like we were in the middle of nowhere and yet we were still home in time for lunch. Continue reading

Trip to Oman!

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Well I am back in London after two weeks exploring my new hometown and its surrounding area. I really enjoyed Muscat. It was lovely getting a chance to check out the place I am moving to before I land there at the end of the year to settle in. I learned a lot about what to plan for, how to pack and what to buy before I go. More importantly, I experienced my share of hilarious, ridiculous and exciting things while I was there. I’ll attempt to share as many as I can in this post!

Possibly the most surprising thing on the To Do Before I Move list is clothes shopping. I didn’t buy any before I left London because, well, it’s winter and the shops are full of wool coats and scarves, nothing really suitable for 33ºC/91ºF. I was excited to get to Muscat and buy a big pile of new summer clothes, but when I got to the mall the stores were selling this – I kid you not: Continue reading

First Impressions

nb:I am using the WordPress app to write this which is awful. Apologies to those who were sent a very rough draft. It should be updated now but please forgive the weird formatting going on.

Today is day 4 in Muscat and I am really enjoying it so far. Granted, I have been very spoiled by Chris’ friends who have brought us to all the most beautiful spots. We’ve used their membership for private pools and beaches, we’ve chartered a catamaran and snorkelled at a nature reserve and we’ve had drinks at one of the most beautiful hotels I have ever had the pleasure of seeing. My life here is proving really difficult so far.

For example, I’m writing this at a Starbucks overlooking the sea. Let me show you the scene:

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It’s not the most stunning photo, but you can get the gist of how hard I have had it.

Tonight – late late tonight, so late it is technically tomorrow by some accounts – we are driving out to watch sea turtles lay eggs on the beach by moonlight. Ok, as the moon is tiny right now we might have to actually bring torches, but moonlight sounds much more romantic.

The remainder of this week will be filled with visits to the mountains, a fort or two, perhaps a dip in a wadi (natural swimming pools) and a halloween event for the kiddies at the fanciest hotels in Muscat. See what I mean? It is hard not to fall in love with it a tiny bit.

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My impressions thus far about Muscat (I can’t really generalise to Oman as a whole because I have only been in this small part) are:

Continue reading

Can't Wait!

Map by Clare Nicholas

Map by Clare Nicholas

A week from tomorrow, I will be flying to Muscat (my home in just a few weeks) for the first time. I have no idea what to expect, and I kind of like it that way. I have read loads, studied maps and made a Pinterest board of places I want to go. I have asked Chris endless questions about what he liked about it before, what he didn’t, what he’s looking forward to, what he’s not, what places I will like…and all of his answers stir up a ridiculous amount of excitement within me. But I won’t really know what it will be like, what it will feel like to me, until I land there and start exploring it for myself.

I’ve done this before, this moving across the world thing. I suspect it might be part of my fundamental me-ness because I can’t imagine doing things any other way. I really love having a whole new life every few years. It’s hard in many ways, but that plunge into the icy water of a fresh new place is an unbeatable feeling. Every part of you is so alive. Your skin tingles with the rush of it all as you experience everything simultaneously: the sights, the sounds, the people, the smells, the rhythm of life that’s so different from where you’ve been.

There’s no better way to remind yourself that things are not the same everywhere than to move somewhere new. Travelling there is one thing, it gives you a glimpse, but living in a place, having time to explore all of it, seeing it change with the seasons, finding your local haunts, your corner shop, your café, your path for morning walks, that is where it is at for me. I love that stuff.

The moment before I step on the plane in January, with me and my life on board, I know I will be a crazy ball of emotion. It is always a mix of every feeling possible when you drop everything and start something totally fresh. But the trip next week is all about adventure, free from the jangly nerves that will come with the real deal. I still have a foot in both camps at the moment, a life in Muscat that’s starting to take root and grow while the one here in London drops its leaves and gets ready for winter.

I’m really looking forward to getting my feet on the ground there, breathing in the sea air, smelling the frankincense, eating the dates, driving along what looks like an incredibly beautiful coast and diving into a fresh new world. I can’t wait!

Postcard of the Week

Today’s postcard couldn’t match my sentiments any more perfectly. The person receiving this will know why I chose the card for her (maybe even a couple of reasons). The metaphor of the dandelion seems apt and beautiful to me, and the way the stem lined up with the border is great too (I didn’t notice until after I took the shot!). I love it when things work out so perfectly. It makes me goose-bumpily happy.

Dandelion Card

Want a postcard? Send me your details here and I will send you one too!

See you next time! 


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This is My First Post

Hello, and welcome to this brand new blog!

I have had this thing in my head for a long time and have mentally composed (and actually drafted) so many posts it’s a little bit ridiculous. It’s time to get the ball rolling.

Part of my hesitation is that I am not entirely sure what I will write about. Like I said on the About page, that is kind of the point, but I do need a vague sense of direction to get started. In general, what I think might show up here is stuff about living abroad, moving from one country to another, travelling, walking and my thoughts and experiences in all of those areas.

I also have a strong desire to share with you some personal growth challenges I have been working through. I am not a preachy self-help person. I am not on top of my stuff enough to suggest I know what’s up. But I have talked with other people about some of my recent experiences, and it seems I am very much not alone. My selfish desire is that I will find other people out there who mess up the same ways I do, even though they are trying hard not to, and who are willing to admit they are only human. If I meet one or two of you along the way, I am good to go.

In that vein, I guess, it seems only fair to share a little bit about myself so we can get to know each other.

About Me

I was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah.

No. I am not mormon.

I grew up with a family that loved travelling, hiking, camping, road trips and all the other great American West stuff.

I’ve travelled a lot of places (more than some, less than others), and I plan to do a lot more of it because I love it immensely. I love feeling a little lost and then finding my way. I love meeting strangers who help me out and remind me that people are pretty great. I don’t love everything about travel, I can’t imagine anyone who really does, but I can’t imagine a life without it.

In August of 2010, I moved to London. I have lived there for four years now with the exception of three months I spent travelling solo in Asia, where I met a pretty great guy.

That guy (we’ll call him Chris because it is generic enough you won’t be able to figure out who he is, and because it is also his name) just got offered a job in Oman and we’ll be moving there very soon. When I say he just got it, I mean he hasn’t signed the contract officially yet, so there’s still a chance it might not happen, but we’re pretty sure it will.

I will miss London a lot but I am ready to move on. In July of this year, I finished a project I had of walking ALL of the streets in the central area (the Congestion Zone for those who know London). Having finished that, I feel like I did what I needed to do and I am now ready for a big, new, exciting adventure.

Those walks also reminded me of the importance of slowness, of curiosity, of awareness and of throwing the plan out the window. I decided I would try to attempt to apply some of those ideas to my life and share them with you here.

So that’s me in a nutshell!

There’s a lot more to say on all of those things, but I suppose that is what the whole rest of this blog is for, yeah?

Let’s see where it takes us.