Friday, 20 April 2018

Mistakes are a part of my 'human experience'

Welcome readers,

Frosty mornings are here, balmy days are few and will eventually go into hibernation, hopefully it will bring the onset of rainy days. We have just about a month to go before we start fasting, and as usual I start my preparation for this auspicious month. The month of spiritual renewal, self introspection and personal growth.

This year has already presented huge challenges and we're just past the first quarter, but I have realised that the more open I am to learning from them, the quicker I am able to deal with them and move on. At the same time I am also blessed with the most amazing opportunities. It's the cycle of life really, that challenges and trials usually bring about the growth and awareness to be open to new possibilities. 
It is the very embodiment of :
"Verily, after every difficulty there is relief" - Quran, Al-Shahr 

This is a concept I try and live with, and to instil the patience in my kids that whenever they're feel they've lost something, that it will bring about blessings. And even if it is just personal growth, and a life lesson, it is part of the journey of life. However, I do remember being  a teen/young adult, and feeling as if I had the ultimate say on how my life turned out. I planned, plotted and had all these dreams I wanted to realise; and whilst I achieved them, it didn't come easily. At the time I probably didn't link my trials with my blessings; at that time gratitude was something which popped into my head periodically. It wasn't a daily practice, and yet I was still extremely fortunate. As a young individual a big portion of my awareness was focused on some really big life trials, and yet, without them I would not have had the tenacity or drive to achieve. I would not have had the single minded focus to reach for my dreams and conquer those goals.

And while I think back to my youth, and the struggles I encountered- I am also acutely aware of the fact that as a result of those struggles, I made a decision to protect my kids from such hardships. I consciously decided that they would never be faced with the same trials; and of course, back then I believed I was in complete control of this. What I have come to realise, as wisdom sets in I suppose, is that I am not in control of what their life journey is like. I may try to protect them as far as I can, provide the best home I know how and make sure that they have a safe haven to retreat to when necessary; but fundamentally their journey has been decreed. Within the confines of this Divine decree, I can only offer support and be a guide along the way. I do still berate myself when I feel I have let them down, or they have experienced some kind of trauma; as a mother the instinct to protect is natural. And when I take a step back I see that whatever has transpired has strengthened my son in some way, and instead of focusing on the problem, together we look for the lesson (with great resistance at first- because it's always easier to concentrate on the drama). It's a difficult thing, to stay the course and live consciously; even harder when I'm trying to set an example for my kids. My humanness means I will make mistakes, in my own life and journey, I suppose it's the way I deal with my own errors along the way that they will learn from. Even acknowledging to them that I have made a mistake is tough, but part of the lesson for me, and them, is to know that it's ok to err. Our character determines what we do after, accepting the mistake for what it is and moving on. I am prone to beating myself up about a bad decision, or wrong turn; and in time I come to understand that my humanness means I am not perfect. As a parent I will make mistakes, in rearing my children I will err, in living life I will take wrong turns, but ultimately my character will determine how I deal with it. And even then, I may still make blunders... I am human after all...

Today's lookpost brings the velvet from last season, back for the cooler weather. I have paired a velvet maxi with an old sweat top and sneakers for an everyday look. I was gifted this lovely scarf by Scarfstop, the wooden tassels and waffle fabric making it perfect for a draped look. Everything else has been in my wardrobe for some time and has been recycled for a contemporary look.


Outfit details:

Mango sequin sweat top
Gadija Khan velvet skirt
Converse sneakers
Scarfstop scarf
French Connection bag purchased abroad
Giorgio Armani sunglasses

Ciao for now, 
RuBe xoxo

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Friday, 13 April 2018

Makkah... Where my soul resides ♥️

Asalaamu Alyakum readers, 

After many Hajj posts, I am so happy to finally chat about the place where I left my soul... the Holy City of Makkah. From the moment we entered Makkah, I felt at home, like I was answering a call which only my soul could hear.

After our first Umrah, we were on an indescribable high. It was around 2am in the morning when we were done, after the exit from ihraam had been completed, and a refreshing shower to wash away the days travel from Madinah. There was hardly time to sleep before we'd need to be up for Tahajud, and since it was my first night in the Holy city, I was not about to miss anything! So we snoozed for an hour or so, and around 3:30am made our way down to the Haram for Tahajud. Since we were amongst the early arrivals, Makkah was not as crowded yet and we found a great spot (for women, the best we can hope for is an uninterrupted view and as as close as possible to the Ka'bah whilst performing salaah). I was more than happy to just be able to perform my prayers in the most sacred mosque in the world... And after the first prayer in the Haram, despite the exhaustion starting to set in, the wonder takes over...

I could not bear to tear my eyes away from the Ka'bah; I was transfixed, I was in awe that I was actually standing at the very spot to which I point my prayer mat to every single day. There was a tangible magnetism that drew me nearer and nearer to the Ka'bah with every passing moment. A pivotal moment, which sealed the bond with my soul, was during our Tawaaf on the eve of our first day, where were granted the opportunity of touching the Ka'bah. The smell of the brick was intoxicating and the tears flowed readily as my forehead touched the walls of the Holy Ka'bah. It was astounding how everything in my life paled in comparison to the enormity of that moment and just being an honoured guest at the house of the Almighty. I knew that this was indeed a moment I had been preparing for all my life. The realisation that I was born ready to perform my pilgrimage, and supplicate on these magnificent marble floors was prevalent in my mind. Every moment I spent in the Haram has been indelibly imprinted in my memory bank, every step along the sa-ee a tribute to the monumental role of women in our religion. 

When the tiredness eventually took over, and hunger started setting in, we headed back to our hotel. By this time our sleeping patterns were already erratic, having undergone a shift during our stay in Madinah; so time was governed predominantly by the prayer times. Back at the hotel we decided to catch another hour or two of sleep before heading to the breakfast room. One thing I am eternally grateful for is the absolute luxury and comfort of our hotel room, as well as the proximity to the Haram. We literally stayed across the road, about 200m from the Haram entrance which was a convenience one cannot underestimate during the crowded Hajj season. (To walk 200m can take 20 mins with a massive crowd). The advantages of our hotel meant we could easily pop back to our room for a quick snooze in between waqts, without having to worry about being in time for the next waqt, or being able to find a good spot for prayer. The comfort of the hotel soothed our fatigue and the extensive breakfast spread each morning provided adequate sustenance for the day, especially since I do not easily eat the fast foods or food on offer around Makkah. 

From the stories we were told I expected a more authentic Saudi experience, however, Makkah is a bustling, modern city. With pilgrims walking about, sitting in contemplation, or praying everywhere. The high rise buildings and hotels surrounding the Haram is progressive with many more in the process of being built. The heat felt less intense than Madinah, and this could be attributed to the fact that we walked a shorter distance between our hotel and the Holy mosque. There are taxi drivers peddling at every corner and so many 'malls' and shopping centers to choose from! It could be an overwhelming experience to be in Makkah, especially after the tranquility of Madinah, but I felt completely at home. I had instantly fallen in love with the aura of the Holy city, with the captivating power this city had on me. My first day/s were spent in constantly vacillating between getting some rest, eating and wanting to be by the Ka'bah. It took a few days for us to find a new routine for the next 19 days. 19 Days & 3 Jumuahs!! We were really blessed to be able to spend the bigger portion of our trip so close to the Ka'bah, which ultimately made our ibadah easier, and afforded us the advantage of lots of hours in the Haram (without much difficulty) Algamdulilah!

I can talk about Makkah (in fact my whole trip!) for ages and have so much to share♥️

 But for now, I will try to keep it in bite sized tidbits, and highlight the moments which will hopefully inspire those waiting to venture on this life changing journey.

This very moment has been branded in my memory for always ♥️

All opulence and modernity on the Mataaf 
The area for women closest to the Ka'bah to perform salaah when the Haram is packed

Ladies areas are cordoned off 
The iconic clocktower, which houses several hotels, a mall and various souks
The area behind us is a built next to the clocktower and houses the Hilton hotel,
the fountain marks the site of the home of Abu Bakr RA

Ciao for now, 
RuBe xoxo

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Friday, 6 April 2018

I fell off the balanced wagon

Hey lovely readers,

This past two weeks have really been food for the soul, this school holidays and time away from the rat race was much needed indeed. Since returning from Hajj a few months ago, I have dived into work and everything else head first, and haven't take a time out to breathe, except for one week during December holidays.  

Recently, I have become aware of how quickly things go off track when I'm not paying attention. I have been very focused on my introspective work, which is also time out in a way, I have been intensely absorbed on work, the blog and delivering motivational talks. In the background, my kids have also been so busy and I have just gone along with their crazy schedule feeling as if the hamster wheel was on fast forward.  This has kept me busy 24/7, 7 days a week and it felt like weekends just ran into each other. But lately, the introspection has prompted me to reconsider my prioritities, whilst meditation helped with momentary stillness.  I know that I constantly work under pressure and function on fast forward mode every single day. 
Then I took a step back, going away this Easter weekend presented the perfect opportunity to reflect, as I spent some well deserved time with my oldest and dearest friend and her family. We spent the 5 days doing very little apart from chat, drink tea, play games with the kids and just catch our breath. The kids (both young adults and teens) spent the time together and had the most terrific time without TV and video games. It was a complete reprieve from the crazy!

I've come back home rejuvenated and rested and fully aware of how I push myself to the limit each day. I realise how far I strayed from the path of balanced living. It should have been a warning sign when I climbed into bed each night completely exhausted. I suppose with the kids being more independent I thought I'd be able to do more; instead I did more but didn't really have the reserves to do more. My resources did not stretch to the extra loads I keep adding. And yet, at the same time I am very aware of how people and situations drain my energy, without the actual awareness of how I tap into every ounce of my own energy to get through each day. I have managed to create boundaries to keep those situations at bay, and I now further realise that losing focus on me, really means just not adhering to my needs first. These last few weeks have been concentrated on this and ensuring that I do not unneccesarily accelerate my pace. I wrote this post 2 years ago about how I cope with a hectic schedule, and even though all of these are still in place, I seem to have found extra things to add on! 
So after a wonderful time of complete relaxation and quality time with great friends and family, I am going to try and be mindful of those times I start feeling like the hamster wheel is speeding up. It will be a reminder to me to check myself, reorientate and move forward. 🙏🏼
Today's outfit is probably the last summer one, as the days start becoming chilly. It features a pretty gingham pants, block boxy leather top and bright espadrilles and scarf. 

Outfit details:

Laser cut top old
Gingham pants from Superbalist
Nine West (Saudi) suede espadrilles
Old Scarf
Louis Vuitton bag
Rebelfunk earrings

Ciao for now, 
RuBe xoxo

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Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Practical tips on preparing for Hajj

Hello lovelies!

After doing a presentation this past weekend to our prospective Hujaaj, I realised all the preparation that has to go into it. I suppose I was 'fortunate' to have been accredited only 4 weeks to prior to leaving, so I really couldn't take all the time in the world to prepare. However, having said that, there are so many aspects of the Hajj which I had hoped I had been able to prepare for.

Choice of Operator
I have already covered what needs to be considered when choosing an operator. Read that post here. It's vital to choose wisely, as each Hujaaj's needs vary, so your choice should be right for you. Take into account your budget, your travel needs whilst abroad and listen and chat to your choice of operator to ensure that they are on the same page as you.

This is a very important aspect, and not only refers to your budget for the package, but also includes spending money (while you are in Saudi). These are the factors to take into account:

  1. Your budget in terms of the suitable package is first and foremost, and while it would be ideal to have 5 star accommodation for duration of the trip, 4-6 weeks is a really long time and this will be extremely costly. Remember the intention of the trip and work with your budget around this e.g. if it means taking a 4 star in Madinah so that you have more cash for Makkah accommodation. Also remember that if you're deferring, the costs for the following year will be higher, and could include unexpected additional costs. This year tax was implemented and they've discontinued Saudi subsidisation of Tanazul.
  2. In addition to your package, you would need to budget for your meals and other expenses whilst you are in Saudi, and gifts you'd like to purchase. For a 4-6 week stay you could budget on about R13,000-R20,000 per couple for food, depending on your meal requirements. Breakfast is usually covered by the hotel, which means you would have to cover a light lunch (I didn't eat too much at lunch) and a good supper. This excludes any other little snacks you may purchase along the way, such as the occasional juice, Starbucks (if you're a coffee connoisseur), supplies at the supermarket, airtime and taxi fare.
  3. Try to purchase as much as you can here and take along with you, snacks (nuts, biltong, sweets, chips, biscuits, rooibos teabags), even peanut butter, crackers and tuna if you're wanting to save on buying food every day. Also buy your ihraam, fragrance free toiletries, medication, rehidrate etc in SA.
  4. If you're Cape Town based, you will without a doubt have many guests coming to wish you well on your journey. This means planning snacks, food for mealtimes and ensuring that the guests are looked after, is a real cost which has to be accounted for.
  5.  Leaving your family for a 4-6 week period is daunting, and budgeting for that upfront was even more so. Ensure that the utilities (electricity, water and telephone bills) are paid upfront, school fees and extra mural fees are paid, food is covered for the time you are away and any cash for unforeseen circumstances.
  6. Leave some cash behind so that the family can arrange for your homecoming without putting unnecessary pressure on family.

When I left, I put the following in place:
  1. Complete calendars for each of my kids on the kitchen fridge, so that everyone knew where they needed to be and when. With their busy schedules it's easy to get overwhelmed.
  2. Any important school events which would happen whilst you are away, I had to arrange that my middle son gets to and from the Science Olympiad, and that his job shadow week had been sorted.
  3. Notify the schools that you'll be gone and provide an alternate number for them to contact during your absence.
  4. Arrange a letter to medical aid, informing them who the caregiver is in your absence. Leave the medical aid card with the caregiver.
  5. Compile a list of all important numbers eg. lift club, school teachers, music teachers, family doctor, grandparents, friends, parents of friends etc. This was sent to all who would assist with fetching and carrying.
  1. Most airlines have generous luggage allowances (2 x 23kg per person)- this is effectively two large suitcases. Remember that you may be shopping quite a bit so will need to keep some luggage allowance for your trip back. If you'll be going to Masjidul Aqsa after hajj, you may need to reduce to one bag depending on the airline requirements. In this instance, you may need to utilise the post office to send some luggage home. 
  2. With the prices of snacks rather high in the Kingdom, take along your favourites from here. Nuts are very pricey, cereal bars, peanut butter, sweets, trail mix- light food which is easy to pack and will keep your energy reserves high. I'm finicky with my teas, so I took my own stash of teabags. (I repeat this as it is uncanny how much daily snacks can amount to in Saudi Riyals!)
  3. Favourite toiletries, since the heat is excessive it can play havoc on your skin, so ensure that you pack your preferred products- once again they can be very pricey in Saudi. I found my foot care regime to be very important and took along the Body Shop Peppermint foot range: the scrub, the energising spray and the foot butter. These worked miracles on my tired feet at the end of the day (and kept them soft and smooth too!)
  4. An ice towel is an essential item to help keep cool in the oppressive heat, and even though men aren't able to wear it in whilst in ihraam, it can be used to wipe yourself down. This too was purchased in SA and taken along.
  5. Take care to stock up on your medication, chronic as well as occasional medication. I packed painkillers, daily vitamin supplements, Panado, Mybulen & Nurofen, flu medication, Strepsil lozenges, cough syrup, Imodium, Rehidrate, Reuterina tablets and natural products like Septogard and Echinaforce. I've heard that you can no longer obtain anti-biotics without a prescription, so try and take some along in the event of an emergency.
  6. I packed few abayahs (only two excluding the one I wore) and bought as I needed in Madinah. I found the light burkahs which I bought from Get Covered locally to be perfect in the intense heat. I loved the mesh ones, and to combat the transparency, I wore two of them, one as an under burkah :-D 
  7. Don't forget a good, quality pair of sunglasses, preferably a plastic frame as the metal frames heat up and burn the skin.
  8. Reading material, Hajj journal and a good camera if you're keen. I actually used my phone camera as it is easier to carry around.
  9. Pack your ihraam separately, I packed all my Umrah ihraam, and Hajj ihraam separately. The abayah, the scarves, underwear etc and kept them ready for when I would need them. 
  10. A light, comfy pair of sneakers for when you're visiting ziyarahs and need to climb hills, as well as a comfy pair of sandals for walking long distances and would be appropriate for ihraam (I wore Birkenstocks). 
  11. I pre-packed a Hajj bathroom bag for the days at Mina: This included a hand & foot towel, fragrance free soap, wudu spray bottle, shampoo, lotion, hand sanitiser and lip balm (all available at Sawants sold by Pure Bloom). I included latex gloves, feminine wipes, elastic band, tissues and  Dettol & water solution in a spray bottle (this I only did just before departing for Mina.)

Have a good idea of what you'd like to buy as gifts, I had my children compile wish lists, to make my gift shopping easier. They also each wrote a special note to us which we would read once we arrived in Madinah, as well as specific duahs they wanted us to make on their behalf. I had written each of them a personal letter, which they opened on the first night we were away. It was a special gesture, and something for them to refer back to when they were missing us and feeling down. 
We also decided to leave a day early and stay overnight in Johannesburg to get some rest before leaving SA. So we booked into a hotel on the airport and met up with our Hajj group the next morning fresh and rested!

I hope this comprehensive list can help the with the long list of things to do, and make life just a little easier.

Wishing all the prospective Hujaaj well with the preparation, and may all your Ibadah be accepted and return with a Hajj Maqbool & Mabroer!

Because I struggle to eat fast food we occassionally ended up eating at the hotel restaurants,
The Intercontinental in Madinah was a favourite.
There are quite a few malls which have branded stores, however these are much more expensive
than the market traders. 

The food court at Al Noor Mall, Madinah. Just a caution, fast food is very expensive!

Even budgeting for small little snacks need to be taken into account

The foyer of the Hyatt Hotel, Makkah, which we stayed in 

Burgers galore at any food court! I ate burgers for some variety, 4-6 weeks is a long time!

Starbucks is as always very costly!! 

My sandals (Havaianas) I took along didn't last in the heat and broke,
so I purchased these on a sale for much less than it costs in SA! 

Some of the gifts I received before leaving which came in very handy.

I was also gifted a complete set of fragrance free products from Pure Bloom, a range manufactured
locally and available for sale at Sawants. These products are super hydrating and nourishing for the
skin in the harsh Saudi climate.
Good luck once again with your preparation and planning!

Ciao for now, 
RuBe xoxo

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Friday, 16 March 2018

Embracing My Bucket List

Happy Friday Readers!

We're heading into Autumn, with crisp morning air and cooler days. I absolutely love the change of seasons, it eloquently demonstrates that change is beautiful, if we only choose to see it. In the same way that Mother Nature undergoes 'changes' every few months, so do we also transition into different versions of ourselves on our path in life. I am fully aware that I need to grow and learn from my traumas, and from my daily interactions. Every single encounter will have a lesson or message for me, if I'm open to seeing it.

Last weekend I attended Fadwa Cozyn's Bucket list workshop, as part of her #SoulSeries workshops. And whilst I am generally very good at knowing what's on my bucket list, and focusing on achieving them, I instinctively knew that I would leave the workshop with some valuable tools. And of course I did! The workshop was more than just a bucket list workshop, it was a reminder to me of my souls contract on this earth. I believe that we all have a purpose, that we all have a contract which we are meant to fulfil, and regardless of how we feel about it, destiny (if that's you want call it) has been written. And the resounding message I took from this workshop is that if I just concentrate on my own written journey, I will have no time to be concerned about others' journeys. I know this to be true; since I started practising introspection, I do not need to be concerned with anyone else's journey. I have found that I am able to steer clear of inserting myself into the lives of my children beyond what I am meant to do as a parent. As my readers will know, when my sons entered young adulthood, I have had to learn to let go of the apron strings and be a guide, sometimes a mere observer, as they experience and learn from their own trials. I have realised that I cannot protect them from those lessons meant to strengthen them. 

A bucket list is essentially a list of wishes and dreams which I would like to fulfil in my lifetime. Needless to say travel destinations are a key element as well as family, personal growth and business goals. During the workshop it became very clear that each persons bucket list would differ significantly based on a personal value system. I am very clear on what my personal values are, and as a result, I am unaffected by what society expects from me. I further realised this week, as I conducted my consulting meetings, that a strategy or plan which clients and I formulate together, is no different to a bucket list. In fact, it could be looked at as a 'bucket list' of actions required to achieve a specific end goal (and we usually combine the personal and business). And in the same way that I need to know my value system to know what goes on my bucket list, we unearth the value system of the client, as this is what will propel the business forward. Each business will be intrinsically different, as each business owner has fundamentally different value systems. It therefore stands to reason, that each individual will have very individual aspirations, and that a married couple or business partners will align their goals to be in sync with each other in order to co-exist successfully.
Another big realisation which landed with me this week was that my bucket list is what propels me to live my best life. My aspirations and goals on this list is the basis for my life, and it has nothing to do with anyone else. Even as a wife and mother, my bucket list is mine, my life is mine first, and in those aspirations my roles as wife and mother formulate. Anyone concerned with someone elses bucket list, will clearly not be living their best life. It takes too much energy to be concerned with the aspirations and goals of others. It takes too much energy to want to live someone else's life. Especially when we have no idea what their personal trials are. It causes one to lose focus, seeping the fulfilment from your own life. This is where we can make the most impact on our own lives... live our own bucket list, and allow the next person to do the same. It will make space for so much gratitude and joy ♥️ 
Let's teach our youth how its done darlings!

Today's outfit is a beautiful ensemble by designer friend, Mohammad Rawoot, the master behind M-Couture
The contrasting prints and colours are meant to depict the myriad facets of who I am. It shows the many avenues I have travelled on my path to living my best "human experience", to quote Fadwa. The ensemble consists of a wide legged pants and light kimono, I improvised and added a loose top underneath (for modesty), instead of the vest the outfit came with. It's perfect for that night out with friends or weekend chilling with a pair of flats. These are part of his ready-to-wear range, Rock Couture, and can be ordered an ready to wear in 7 days.




MCouture pants & Kimono
Green Cross heels
Mimco bag
Old Scarf
Rebelfunk Earrings
Zulululookbook sunglasses
Lovisa necklace

Ciao for now, 
RuBe xoxo

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