Friday, 8 March 2019

Parenting One Day at a Time

Welcome readers,

The biggest role I fulfil is that of being a mother, I feel the significance of the Divine responsibility of being blessed with raising tiny humans upon me. Parenting is a responsibility that I do not take lightly and work at everyday. It means being the best I can be in my own world and being mindful of my Creator; setting an example for my boys, of how to manage themselves in the world; and through difficult situations.

Parenting is an ongoing journey, whether they're infants, toddlers, teenagers or adults. They will always be an extension of me walking around on this earth, like little pieces of my heart in different places. This means that as much as I have a responsibility to take care of myself, I have a responsibility to take care of those external parts of my heart. I am clear however, that they're young adults on the cusp of their own independent lives, and I therefore need to respect them enough to work at our relationship so that they would want me as a part of their lives. Right now everything is managed on their busy schedules, giving me a small glimpse of what life will be like when they've moved into their own spaces.

For now, managing young adults in the home is a continuous learning arena, each day brings new lessons, new perceptions and new ways of doing things. The moment I feel like I'm on the right path, I get a figurative kick in the head, reminding me that I'm not in control of this journey. Just like with life really, things don't always go as planned. And the only way I know to cope with any unforeseen hurdles, is to appeal and pray to my Creator for guidance. I am very aware that I do not have all the answers, and do not want to take on the burden of walking through life pretending I have all the answers. Frank discussions with my kids (i.e. my young men) where I am open about my shortcomings is key, and sharing my confusion or uncertainty around the next step in a solution. Often when I find myself at a loss for answers, I ask them for advice, a solution or way forward, and even what their recommended course of action would be. Sometimes they amaze me with their wisdom, and other times we just take it one day at a time.

Maintaining trust and living truthfully is a big concept in our home, and we understand that it has to go both ways. I cannot expect anything from them if I am not prepared to give it in return. After all, any relationship is a two way street, and means taking ownership on both sides of the relationship. Trust is a crucial component of any relationship; and when one looks at the parent-child engagement as a relationship, with the same building blocks, it brings trust and respect into the space. No feeling of kinship can be forced by some conditioned doctrine, it needs to be built on the fundamentals of a healthy relationship, regardless of the obligatory familial tie. I do not believe that I am entitled to be a part of their adult lives by virtue of the fact of who I am. On the contrary, I know full well that I need to firstly honour them, in order for them to honour me as a parent, trust them with truth so that they do the same; and at the core, treat them with dignity as human beings. For me this is what raising children is about, treating these parts of me as I would want to be treated, and being mindful that they are humans, with their own respective orientation in this world. It means being safe enough for them to own all the parts (the 'good' and 'not so good' parts) of themselves around me, without fear of judgement or fear of being admonished.

Furthermore, I have had to become accustomed to the fact that as adults, I am not privy to every single thing happening in their lives. I have to trust that they live their lives based on the principles I have instilled, taught and model. They are accountable for themselves, and fully understand consequences of their actions and behaviours. This is one of the hardest things to embrace, that these not-so-little young men do not need me to do much anymore. I miss those days where Mum was pivotal in their lives without it being an option, now Mum is a choice they make. My tendency towards separation anxiety kicks in when I think of it, and I know it's something I need to manage, and not burden them with.

There are many aspects to parenting adults which I am still grappling and coming to terms with. One of the biggest is that they need to make their own life decisions, and that it is not my place to protect them from whatever I may perceive will be hurtful. Their paths have been decreed, and my role is to support them from the sidelines, provide a safe haven when they need it or a healing balm to soothe their souls. It is essential that they always know that I will be around, arms wide open, for as long as they need me to be. Letting go of the apron strings and cutting the proverbial 'umbilical cord' is essential to empower them to live their lives without me placing any burdens or expectations on them. The only thing I hold onto is the premise that our relationship is built on a solid foundation, and will be able to withstand the inevitable storms which life will present.

I am currently in the training phase of weathering these storms in a parent-child relationship with  young adults.
Learning as I go along...

A thought for fellow parents to ponder:

“You can choose to disrespect me but I will not give you permission to hurt my spirit.”

― Lailah Gifty Akita 

My outfit today features a raw silk coat from Opulence, which I've styled before in a more formal way. Today I've styled it casually, paired with denims and one of my favourite classic heels.



Outfit details: 

Opulence Silk Coat
Woolworths jeans
Old Lace up heels
Mimco bag
Opulence silk scarf
Hse of Bespoke tassel earrings
Vogue sunglasses (Old)

Ciao for now, 
RuBe xoxo

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Friday, 1 March 2019

My Vampire Facial Experience

Hi lovely readers, 

For those of you who have been following my skin journey with Dr Asmal at Rondebosch Aesthetics will know that I have seen an amazing improvement in the past year. Not only has she gradually introduced aesthetic treatments into my relatively simple skin routine. I used to have extremely sensitive skin, prone to redness, burning and dry patches whenever I introduced a new skincare product or facial. Since I have started my aesthetic skincare regime with Rondebosch Aesthetics, my skin has not had one inflamed reaction or reacted badly to any treatment.

We started my skin off with the non invasive, perfect for all skin types, On The Glow Peel, and gradually worked our way up to the Vampire Facial, which I had two weeks ago. Initially I was quite anxious, from what I could remember, the vampire facial looked painful and elicited a lot of bleeding! Dr Asmal very clearly explained the difference between the Vampire Facial and the Vampire Facelift. So my treatment was the Vampire Facial, whereas the Vampire Facelift involves injecting the PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) directly to the face. The Vampire Facial uses a micro needling device, in my case the Dermapen was used to work the PRP into the skin.

I arrived at the salon with my face and neck covered in Lidocaine, to numb the areas which would be treated. So once my skin had numbed completely, about an hour after applying the thick, gloopy Lidocaine, I was ready for my treatment. 
Here goes:

  1. Dr Asmal drew a vial of blood which would be used to extract the PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) to be infused into the skin. Platelet rich plasma is a component of your own blood, which contains platelets including stem cells and growth factors.
  2. The vial of blood is placed into a machine called the Centrifuge and then spun around for a few minutes.
  3. While this is happening, Nicola then prepared my face for the Dermapen treatment. She removed the Lidocaine and cleansed ready for the PRP to be administered.
  4. The PRP separates from the blood and forms a gold serum which is then drawn into a syringe and applied to the face.
  5. The Dermapen is then used to infuse the PRP into skin.
  6. My skin doesn't go red or inflamed easily, so Nicola had to go pretty deep to get the red result, and inflammation (which causes the blood to rush to the surface and for the natural healing to take place). This also prompts the collagen generation, resulting in smoother, plumper skin.
  7. My skin didn't bleed , just went red, and it wasn't painful at ALL! I just felt a bit sunburnt
  8. Since I had to attend an event just after, I asked Nicola to camouflage the redness so that I would look semi-normal on photos. She then applied a healing foundation with SPF and I was good to go.
The PRP from your own blood is used to promote good skin. It helps the skin function optimally m increasing everything from collagen to elastin production. This treatment helps with premature ageing, wrinkling and sun damage. 

I experienced no side effects, and by day two the redness had subsided substantially. The fact that my skin doesn't go red easily means it's not as sensitive as it was a year ago, and therefore quite capable of managing the inflammation. 

Two weeks later my skin is literally glowing, and looking plumper and healthier. In order to see long lasting effects, I would recommend more than one PRP treatment, even though you'd definitely be able to see results after the first treatment.

Some aftercare tips:

  1. I usually don't apply anything to my skin after the treatment for at least 5 hours, especially no makeup. I use a very gentle cleanser (one recommended by Dr Asmal) at night before going to bed.
  2. No alcohol toner for at least a week after treatment.
  3. Use a healing balm or post tretament balm on your face, it will soothe the irritation, tingling and help speed up the healing. It also helps makeup application, especially if you experience flaking.
  4. Use a good, high SPF face sunblock on your face and don't forget the neck area (and decollete if you expose this area to the sun).
  5. When your skin starts to flake, don't pick or peel it off, you may cause pigmentation. Apply the balm to help smoothen the skin.
  6. Do not exfoliate your skin for at least two weeks after treatment.

Get in touch with Rondebosch Aesthetics (0216879400, chat to Brenda), for your skin consult before trying out this cutting edge treatment. Drop me messages, I'd love to hear your stories if you've embarked on a journey to looking after your skin.

After the treatment, you can see how red  my neck area is, and my skin appears a bit rough
The blood after its' been through the Centrifuge

Enroute to my appointment, I keep the Lidocaine at home and apply an hour before my treatment 
For reference, this pic was taken about an hour or so after my facial, at least my skin doesn't look
too red! 
A few days after the treatment, no filter, no make up and only tinted sunblock and moisturiser
 Check out the short video on my Vampire Facial, with commentary and explanations from Dr Asmal and Nicola.

Ciao for now, 

RuBe xoxo 

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Friday, 22 February 2019

Al Aqsa Part II

Welcome back lovelies,

I have kept you hanging long enough for part II of my Al Aqsa trip, but life was really busy and the blog took a back seat while I re-centered my groove for 2019. I have been working on this instalment for a while, and just writing about it is a wonderful trip down memory lane indeed! It brings back all the exceptional moments, the unforgettable places we visited, and accessing the vast treasuries of history.
I had arrived in the Land of the Ambiyah, Algamdulilah! ♥️

After sharing a double bed with our youngest (due to our accommodation bungle), we were up early for morning prayers at Masjidul Aqsa (PS: There was some confusion about whether there was Tahajjud salaah or not; I can confirm that they do open the mosque for Tahajjud). I was so excited, and the downpour and freezing temperatures could do nothing to dim my mood. I was in a city I had literally been yearning to visit for the longest time (and my intention had always been to perform my Hajj first- so it was a long wait), and I was ready for whatever lay ahead. So we bundled up against the cold in fur lined jackets, thick socks and set off into the rain. Our hotel was a few minutes outside Herod's Gate, and since we arrived in the dark, we kind of found our way to the Old City. Luckily we could see the walls of the Old City so we at least knew in which direction to walk, and from there we followed the signage to the mosque.

Even though it was raining, I was immersed in my surroundings from the moment I entered the gates of the Old City.  As we walked along the cobble stoned streets, surrounded by centuries old buildings which housed the locals, as the Muazzin's call reverberated through the city. I felt as if I had stepped back in time, and was present alongside all our Ambiyah who had walked these very streets enroute to the very same masjied. Subghaanallah! I cannot even begin to describe the emotions that coursed through me at that point. To say that I felt privileged would be a huge understatement, I felt honoured and awe struck to be in a place which had formed a fundamental part of my Islamic history lessons, the very scene of those stories of the prophets I grew up reading about and listening to. After many turns, we eventually arrived at a military checkpoint, where we were stopped, and Ghaalid was asked to recite Surah Al-Fatiha, to confirm he's Muslim. This was at the gate entering the Al Aqsa compound, I must admit I was very nervous as this was our first encounter with the military police in the Old City. They looked at me and wanted to know if I was Muslim, several times, and hubby confirmed that I'm his wife and Muslim. That was the extent of our 'interrogation' and we proceeded to enter the sacred grounds of Al Aqsa. 

At this point my heart was pounding in a mixture of nerves and anticipation, and we followed the lone bodies walking towards the sound of the Athaan. As we ascended the steps, the gold dome of Qubbat al-Sakhrah (Dome of the Rock) reared up in all it's majesty. I was videoing this walk on my phone, just so I could capture the moment I first laid eyes on this revered mosque. It was drizzling, frosty cold and I couldn't take my eyes off this beautiful sight, when we then noticed was bolted shut. So we continued past, descended another set of stairs, where we first saw Masjid Al Aqsa. I entered through the women' entrance, a door which is right next to the mens entrance. At the back of the masjied is small section cordoned off with screens for the women's salaah section. I found it intriguing to see female elders of the mosque all seated at the back, directing the formation of safs (prayer lines in a mosque) and reciting Quran. For me, it represented the closeness of this community, where they congregate at the mosque for prayer times, catch up on chats, have some snacks and worship together. It was the most spectacular experience just to be in the mosque, and whilst the interior is beautiful, and it is not as gilded as Makkah or Madinah harams, but it radiates a warmth and tangible spiritual energy which is soul-stirring.

By the time we returned back to the hotel room, we were soaked through! My socks and sneakers were wet, and I couldn't feel my feet, so our priority was to get dry and warm. Our hotel was a smaller locally owned hotel, which was really close to the Old City, just outside the walls. After a traditional breakfast, (their buffet is geared towards local foods, so the meze platter essentials are always on offer, scrambled eggs, cereal and limited fruit) we met our tour guide in the foyer for a full day of sight seeing. With all the sights we visited on our first day, I will need to share it in more than one post. 

Some important comments and tips:

  1. Since we were without a representative from our travel agency, we had to try and resolve the accommodation mix up on our own. We had tried booking another room, but the hotel was full- it was not only umrah season but also Christmas. December is peak time especially since all three Abrahamic faiths have their origins in Jerusalem, therefore a few days before Christmas was the wrong time to have issues with accommodation. 
  2. We were a bit lost on how the day had been planned as we had been joined with a group from another agent, so we had to locate their representative and find out what our programme for the day was. Again without a representative the communication on these kinds of things is poor.
  3. Furthermore, we appealed to the caretaker agent to try and assist with sorting out accommodation for my son, while our own agent tried to fix it from SA.
  4. I cannot stress the importance of having a representative from your agent along, someone who knows what your bookings requirements were. We were also quite comfortable to make our way to the mosque without assistance on the first morning. This may not be the case for everyone, and for those who do not travel often, or are travelling for the first time (and in occupied territory as well) it can be extremely intimidating to navigate their own way around. These travellers may appreciate assistance with getting to the mosque for the first time, or having someone with them when confronted with military police.
  5. All in all, the challenges we faced were only related to not having our own travel agent present, however, I chose to deal with our accommodation issues after we had completed our tour that day. It would have been pointless to let that ruin a long-awaited and costly trip. So I took in the entire experience with every single fibre of my being, leaving any issues I was experiencing to be dealt with later.
Before I had visited Palestine, I did not fully comprehend how much this visit would impact me. This city, particularly this sacred mosque has found a space in my heart, where it will forever be lodged. I am forever transformed by this captivating city. 

Abu Dharr (RA) reported that he asked the Prophet (SAW), “O Messenger of Allah, which Masjid was built first on earth”? The Prophet (SAW) replied, “The Sacred Masjid of Makkah”. Abu Dharr (RA) again asked, “Which was next”? The Prophet (SAW) said, “Masjid Al-Aqsa”. Abu Dharr (RA) further asked, “How long was the period between the building of the two Masjids”? The Prophet (SAW) said, “Forty years”. Apart from these, offer your prayer anywhere when it is time to pray, although excellence is in praying in these Masjids”.

The rest of the day was spent visiting phenomenal historical sites, which will be featured in the next instalment.

Video of our first few moments in the Old City

The cobble stoned streets, my first sight of the Old City

Walking through military checkpoint, following the few lone souls towards  Al Aqsa

The first proper sight of the Dome of the Rock, still bolted shut for Fajr

Breakfast essentials at the Holy Land Hotel

The first sight of Al Aqsa Mosque
Ciao for now, 

RuBe xoxo

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Friday, 15 February 2019

Making my Circle Smaller

Hi lovelies, 

My first lookpost of 2019! Wow I cannot believe that January has already passed and we're already into week 2 of February! I feel as if I have been working for months already. Someone sent a meme in one of our watsapp groups which read "January was a tough year but we made it"🤭 It was so appropriate! Was your January so hectic as well?

Since my return from my travels, I have literally had my head down, in serious work mode. There have been occasional down times, but shew it's not only been busy, it's been rough! Despite this, I am, as always, thankful for lessons I've learnt through trials and continue to have faith that I am exactly where I am meant to be, doing exactly what I am meant to be doing. Faith is my only anchor to hold onto when I find myself flung from side to side along this road of life. And through it all I have a select few who stop along their own path, check that I'm ok and help me out if needed, before continuing on their own path. Four of them live in my home, others are scattered, some are even on a different continent. And yet, they are not too caught up in drama to stop, check in and then move along on their own journey.

It's a sobering realisation when you're man down, and cannot do much, not even cook for your family, when you see who steps into your space to help out. I've always known who these special people are, who are quietly in my corner, through the good times and the bad times. I've heard many people talk about how small their circles become when they decide to take care of themselves first, and no longer allow themselves to be mistreated. I get it, 100%. It seems as if self care is not allowed, a frivolous luxury even, and yet it is essential for connection. Connection being a genuine relationship with another, without the expectation of anything in return.

Apart from being sobering, the culling of my circle has been a difficult one, but also a liberating one. It's liberating to know that I don't have to be on my guard in conversations, for fear of saying the wrong thing, or that I need to show up in a particular way to please someone else. In my circles, I am accepted wholeheartedly, for speaking the truth, and being authentically me. I have had to hone the skill of knowing when there is no place for my authentic self in a situation; these are the times I have to walk away, without the need to justify me. In order to be true to myself, take care of myself, and honour my Creator, I cannot deny who I am. I cannot deny what my purpose is, or the truth, no matter how painful it may be. The hardest lesson of introspection is learning about what's happening within, it means being at peace with how I was constructed by the Almighty. I cannot take on anybody else's opinion on that, or let it influence me in my interactions in the world.

So I am navigating my way with a smaller circle, of people who matter, and to whom I matter. Ultimately this is important to me, for those who matter to me, make the effort to show up authentically and tell me the truth even when its ugly. And that too is ok, at the end of the day, it's hard to dispute true facts. And yet, in today's society it becomes a play on words to make the ugly truth seem more acceptable. Hiding from the truth, or pretending that something hasn't happened has become a skill we're modelling for our kids. I refuse to stand by and play a part in this. I have young men who look to me as a guide on how to to traverse the tough terrain of society, and I would want them to see that truth, and authenticity is the only way to do it . Furthermore, I am also fully conscious of the fact that whilst I do my best, I am still learning; and saying this to my kids is such an open authentic way,  means that it has taken away a lot of the stress of parenting (not all though!). So any wise words on parenting (at this point it's more like guiding since they're young adults) is always welcome :-D

The outfit in this look has been in my wardrobe since September I think, and I just didn't have the time to open the packaging, steam and wear. I was a bit intense with work, so I missed a quite a bit late last year. I'm now catching up, with a view to plan some me time. This floral ensemble reminds me of happy tropical holidays, and just brightens up the day.


Floral Suit from What Ladies Luv
Witchery heels
Country Road Belt
Accessorise bag
Zulululu earrings
Kashka Scarf

Ciao for now, 

RuBe xoxo

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Monday, 28 January 2019

Al Aqsa Part I

Hello lovelies!

I wanted to start off my latest travel piece with my experience in Jerusalem, it's been a longstanding dream of mine to see Palestine and visit the places I had heard about in the stories of our prophets. So because this leg of my journey was completely new, with some more life changing experiences , Al Aqsa, Part One is the first instalment. 

Last year was a huge year for me as I stated in my last post, and we had been discussing the possibility of an Umrah trip all year. However, until November, it didn't look likely and then after a whirlwind of planning, it became a reality. Just like with my Hajj, it was a trip with last minute arrangements, my dates were changing constantly because I was restricted by the late start of school holidays. And then I also needed to be back early enough for the release of my second born's matric results. Life was hectic at the time, work was keeping me busy with some last minute travelling, but Algamdulilah, everything worked out as it should have.

Since there were no tour groups departing as early in December as we chose, (I took Ihsaan out of school early 🤦🏻‍♀️) we decided to do Makkah and Madinah on our own and source our own hotels, ziyarahs and transfers. Since we had not travelled to Palestine before (and of course one hears many many stories about the border protocol), we preferred to join a travel group from South Africa. After deciding on an agent, which was the same one we travelled on hajj with, I actually received so many helpful tips from my readers. In hindsight I realised I could just have used that information to do the Aqsa leg on our own. This particular leg of my journey presented many challenges and lessons, and I remain grateful for every single experience. 

We arrived in Dubai airport early to connect with the agent's group (which we planned to coincide with their flight), after completing our Saudi leg. With intense anticipation, we boarded the plane for the three and a half hour flight. After an uneventful flight we touched down in Amman, Jordan just after 9am. As we approached the airport and taxied down the runway, all I could see was dry, mountainous, sandy terrain - a proper desert country much like the ones you'd see in movies. I was so excited to have arrived in a place which resulted in an Islamic historical tour like no other. We went through immigration and filled with some apprehension, onto a bus headed for the border.

Before setting off for our Aqsa leg, we were cautioned by the agent to travel with minimal luggage into Aqsa, this is mainly for ease of  movement with your luggage through the ancient cramped streets of the Old City. So you can choose a carry on, or a medium sized suitcase, whichever you prefer, or even a normal sized suitcase- as long as it is one suitcase and easy for you to carry/pull along, just be sure to pack enough for the time you'll be in Aqsa. If you're travelling alone and not part of a group, larger luggage pieces will delay you, but with the group you'll be delayed anyway, so it's really your choice. Enroute to the border, after driving for about an hour, we stopped off at a souvenir stop, where you can store any excess luggage which you won't need in Aqsa (this storage comes at a cost of approx US$5 per person). The drive to the Jordanian border took another 2-3hrs, where we then sat in the bus and waited an hour whilst officials checked our passports. Thereafter we proceeded to the Allenby Crossing/King Hussein Bridge heading to the Palestinian terminal. There are several checkpoints that the bus has to go through before arriving at the terminal. Once you arrive, your luggage will be unpacked from the bus. You collect your suitcase and enter the terminal building for the passport, luggage and body check. Ghaalid and my son, Ihsaan, went through pretty smoothly and I just had two extra checks and a scan before I was directed though immigration.  A barcoded ticket is issued and stamped (so there's no stamp in your passport) which you keep with you for your stay in Palestine. I breathed a huge sigh of relief as I exited the terminal on the other side... What I didn't realise is that members of our group had been held back for questioning, which meant that we had to wait outside the terminal building until they were released. (So it's a good idea to have a snack bag/ food packed for this wait).This took 3 hours, unfortunately when travelling with groups this process is unavoidable and can sometimes take longer. So the entire process of crossing from the Jordanian terminal to getting on the bus headed for our Aqsa hotel took us around 5-6 hours.

It was already dark by the time we boarded the bus to our hotel, around 5:30pm (sunset is around 4:30pm) and we were exhausted and hungry from 18 hours of travelling. After departing from our Madinah hotel at 9pm the night before we arrived at our Aqsa hotel at 7pm. The extreme cold as we disembarked from the bus hit us unexpectedly and we hurried into the warm, toasty, Christmassy lobby of the Holy Land Hotel. Eager to get into a shower, grab proper food (the last meal we had was on the flight for breakfast at 8am) we waited in the lobby for our room key. This was where our challenges started. We were allocated the incorrect room, a double room instead of a triple room, and our 14 year old son had been placed in another room to share with a young man. Upon enquiring with the front desk, it was clear that this was what our agent had booked - without prior discussion with us. This left us in a predicament; tired, starving and short on patience we waited for a further two hours while someone tried to sort it out. By 10pm, there was still no progress, and the stoic faced hotel desk clerk was unable to assist, we begrudgingly decided to take the one double room with the double bed for the one night, and sleep 3 on a bed. There was no way we were going to put Ihsaan in a room with a stranger, nevermind to share a double bed! We also had an early morning to prepare for and could not imagine waiting any longer and losing out on much needed sleep, so we complied, took our luggage, and settled in for the night. The room situation would be addressed in the morning.

Continued in Al Aqsa Part II, coming soon...

As I mentioned, this was the start of our logistical challenges, and whilst I was hesitant to even share them - I have recently been told by several families that they have chosen a travel agent based on my recommendation. I therefore feel duty bound to share my full experience, the highs and lows, with the intention of being transparent.

If you're considering travelling to Palestine as part of a group tour, please take heed of the following:

  1. Ensure that you have your detailed itinerary at least two weeks before your trip, so you are clear on every little detail. Most agents would mention a hotel with a disclaimer, or similar, which is perfectly fine- just ensure that your room allocation is correct. Once you're in Palestine, it is near impossible to get another room, over Christmas time. I also didn't have any clue which hotels I would be staying at in Amman and Petra- which I only realised when my documents were delivered the night before my departure (without said itinerary). 
  2. Sit down with your agent and ensure that you will have a representative to assist you with logistical matters whilst abroad. Most of the logistics are managed by a local tour operator, and the agents usually deal directly with them. If the agent's representative is not present, you have no recourse (like with us where we had the incorrect room booked, or my son placed in a room with a stranger), you're merely a third party engaging with the hotel and unlikely to be able to make changes. 
  3. Discuss the various legs of your trip with your agent, find out how long waiting times are, what the travel times and distances are like so you have a good idea how much time you'll actually have to explore the city. At the end we had 1 day free to explore at our leisure, which was less than I had expected.
  4. If you're accustomed to travelling, your experience will mean that you'll easily be able to correct any booking errors, but this will be at your own cost. This was one option we explored in trying to resolve our sleeping arrangements.
  5. Without a representative, you may not be privy to the full experience and could miss out on pertinent bits of the trip - I'll clarify this in my next post.
  6. Find out the group size that the agent will be taking, if it is too small, your agent will most likely enlist the services of a fellow tour operator to caretake your group in their absence. This did not sit well with me, as I felt at a serious disadvantage having to now deal with an agent (actually his representative who accompanied his Aqsa group), who first needed to attend to his own group, didn't know my booking requirements, and was now accountable to me to correct an obvious booking decision taken by my agent without my knowledge. I was told afterward that my request for a triple room was never secured, and therefore the second double room was booked, to be shared.

For first time travellers, or elderly travellers, I feel that it is essential to ensure that the above is in place. Without your agent being present, you will have no knowledge of bus departure times, any changes to your touring schedule or assistance with hotel issues. We experienced numerous challenges as a result of having no agent representation, so I cannot stress the importance of the above points enough if you're keen on travelling with a group. 

Alternatively, if you feel comfortable enough to travel on your own with your family (without booking through a travel agent), this is an option you may want to explore. You would then have full control of your own accommodation, tours and travel times.

I take part accountability for my challenges on the trip, not having insisted on a full itinerary at least one week before my departure. However, I am accustomed to a particular level of etiquette from travel agents, and this time I was sorely 

The landscape as we approached Jordan, dry and barren
The Jordanian airlines planes have a crown logo on the tail

As we were taxiing down the runway

Exiting the terminal to board the bus

The souvenir stop where we stored our luggage

Ciao for now,
RuBe xoxo
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Friday, 11 January 2019

18 Lessons learnt in 2018

Hello lovely readers!

I have been back home for just over 10 days and this week I started getting fully into the swing of things. After travelling for 3 and a half weeks, with 6 flights in between and a few long bus trips, I really needed to catch my breath and process all that we had seen and experienced on our journey. So I took some time out to come down from the constant high I was on during my trip, and was quickly drawn into reality by the release of my second-born's matric results last week. 

Before leaving South Africa, I was literally sprinting towards the end of the working year, which came to an abrupt stop when I boarded the plane. I still had a few things I wanted to sort out for work, so with all good intentions, I took my laptop along. I even started writing my final 2018 blogpost in the taxi after landing in Jeddah. Alas, my plans were thwarted when the laptop battery died, and I could not charge it as I didn't have my three-pin adaptor along (and none could be found in Makkah!). About a week later, my emails stopped working on my phone and iPad, so I really had no choice but to let it go.

I therefore had lots of time for introspection, and take stock of 2018, and the lessons, some of which wacked me sideways...

  1. I learnt to listen to and trust my intuition, this extends to relationships, work and my kids.
  2. I never have the parenting thing pat down, no matter how grown up my kids are, I need to be prepared for anything. The challenges are bigger and more complicated as they get older.
  3. January 2018 taught me to pay really close attention and to listen to the inner voice where my kids are concerned. If I feel that they need me, even if they look as if they're managing, it means they really do need me. It may not necessarily look the way I anticipate it, or what I think they need. I trust and know that they will tell me what is needed. 
  4. This was a big lesson: "In my world there are no bad kids,
    just impressionable, conflicted young people
    wrestling with emotions & impulses,
    trying to communicate
    their feelings& needs,
    the only way they know how." -
    Janet Lansbury
  5. Truth is key. Again, I learnt to be completely honest with my kids, even in terms of my shortcomings as a parent. This theme of truth carried through to all relationships, personal and business, and actually made life less complicated.
  6. I have very little tolerance for pretence, I chose not to participate in maintaining false pretences. It's disingenuous and makes a fool of me and others, as the truth always makes an appearance.
  7. Allowing others the space to grow and not to insert myself where I'm not needed. My control freak means that I have a tendency to want to 'fix' all problems. I learnt to let things be if it wasn't my place to get involved, I learnt to allow others to work things out in their own way and on their own terms. 
  8. To engage with everyone judgement-free - this at times becomes difficult, especially with our conditioning, what we've been taught since birth and our own issues. I fully accept that mistakes are part of my human experience as well as for others.
  9. Being mindful and taking my time to respond when dealing with volatile situations. It's always easier to react impulsively, but this is usually not the best way to for me to respond,  as it's usually from a place of anger, which just exacerbates the situation.
  10. 'Not everyone who smiles at you is your friend.' It has been an eye opening year, where people have revealed their true feelings towards me. They may try to keep it a secret, and again, intuition is an invaluable asset, so I see you! I get that am not everyone's cup of tea. This is ok, I have learned to accept that I will not appeal to everyone. I choose to live authentically, regardless of others' opinions and expectations.
  11. Embracing myself entirely, the good, the bad and the ugly. And every year, I learn a bit more about myself, see things I haven't wanted to before, and work at embracing those not so likeable things about myself (again). 
  12. My experiences on Hajj were really profound life lessons, and filtered through to every single element of my life last year. It also takes work to live your Hajj, as everyone says, but ultimately it has filled my life with so much Grace and Blessings, algamdulilah
  13. The Power of Duah (Prayer). There were so many trials during last year, many of which I did not how to handle or navigate. I believe that my prayers got me through the really trying moments.
  14. The importance of Tawakkul (reliance on, or trust in the Divine). Apart from carrying me through difficult times, the faith in my Creator has also meant that I was blessed in many ways. I am clear that only He knows what's in my heart and that is all that matters.
  15. Being thankful, and giving thanks is essential to my happiness and attracting more positive energy.
  16. To be very aware of my impact on others and to be responsible with my actions. I am a role model to my three young men, who will very soon be venturing into the world with all that they have learnt and seen.
  17. Focusing on my own journey will mean I do not have time (nor do I have the inclination) to be concerned with what anyone else is doing.
  18. Respect for my fellow human being is crucial, this extends to children, those from other cultures, religions and those with differing beliefs. Making others feel 'seen' and 'heard, and just being kind makes a huge difference.
I have documented a lot of these lessons in previous blog posts throughout 2018, but seeing it one place just cements the year for me. I don't do new year resolutions, except that I will continue to improve on myself, my interactions and most importantly focus on my connection with the Almighty InshaAllah. Hope you guys have all had a good start to 2019 ♥️

I have not yet taken the time to do a lookpost this year, and life very suddenly went into vacation mode last year. So I have put together some of my 2018 looks, most of which can be worn into this year; the importance of investing in classic pieces!

These looks were put together using so many existing pieces, with very few new purchases.
The Chimpel bag, sunglasses, suede boots, wrap dress and Vans sneakers were the only new additions in these looks. As always, buy smartly darlings!!

Ciao for now, 
RuBe xoxo

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