Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Birthday celebrations & 24/7 lockdown relationship

Welcome readers!

We are halfway through 2020, and boy what a year it has been thus far! One that could not be foreseen, predicted or ever conceived of before.

Today is day 93 of lockdown for our family and we celebrate the birthday of the head of our household.
It's so far removed from last year where he spent his birthday travelling Spain with our tour group, and this year he spends it in lockdown with the family. 
Happy birthday to my hubby and dad to our young men! We usually make a special effort to spend the time together as a family, as it's a public holiday; and would need to ensure that the young adults are free. This year we have already spent 93 days together without driving each other insane. What an achievement!

We have an unspoken system in the home, which means each one has their own tasks set out for the day. Whether it is set out by the school, university or just by yourself, everyone starts the day fulfilling these and we then come together as a family at mealtimes or prayer times. Games nights have not resumed after Ramadaan as the older ones prepare for university exams and assignments. 
I've read the shocking statistics on the increase in divorce cases during this time and how some couples really struggle being confined to home with their spouse, even after years of living together. Living together and being confined under lockdown conditions are two very different things; and whilst there is no magic formula to navigate this territory, it is really up to each individual to know themselves well enough. I am fully aware that I may not be the easiest person to live with, and that I have issues which may trigger me. Combine this with being in lockdown for over 90 days, and it could very well be a recipe for a turbulent home environment with disagreements, petty fights and sulking. In fact, the heightened cases of femicide and gender based violence which have been reported these past two weeks have been testimony to this; and have signalled disaster for many families. 

As I reflect on our time together as a couple (which is well over 25 years now), I know that each of us have had to do the hard work in getting to know what makes us tick, what ticks us off and understanding how to maintain a relationship with these factors in play all the time. This kind of inner work is not for sissies, as you have to be open to see the dark parts of yourself as much as you are open to accepting that you're valued, loved and amazing just as you are. You have to be, afterall, our Creator thought the world needed one of YOU! It is also not just enough to know yourself at this level, it is also crucial to know how to manage all of this in the midst of anger, sadness, grief, pressure and uncertain times as we're experiencing now. 

We have a philosophy in our home of tolerance, and acceptance of each other, warts and all. We have to each acknowledge those 'warts', and the rest of the family will make space for it, and call you out if necessary. There has to be a space for this to allow each member to feel seen and heard, and a space for truth, regardless of who it may be (at times even the parents need a good dose of honesty), however, delivered with respect to each and every member of our household. There may be tears, tantrums, sulking (which we allow the space for); and we trust that out of it will be borne a mutual understanding, and where appropriate a discussion and apology. It's not always easy; living in truth sometimes isn't; but it models behaviour for our kids to take forward into their own families one day.

At the end of this year we will celebrate 25 years of marriage, of partnership, growth and at times bags full of patience. However, we have found the space to accept the other for we are, we celebrate each other in entirety, without wanting the other to change. There is nothing more fatal to a relationship than wanting to change your partner; instead take a look inward and consider your own faults and appreciate that another person loves you in spite of these. And even loves you because of them ♥️

Getting through 93 days of being in lockdown has therefore not been a death sentence for our relationship, we are conscious of needing to create space for each other, we can sense when there's a need to talk or vent. We haven't opened the office in 3 months, and that means that we work together at home, spend recreational time together, pray together and so much more. But when the need for alone time is needed, it is given without question, without reprimand or emotional pressure. It is just done ...

There will still be disagreements, fights, tantrums as life goes; and then there will be understanding.
So if you're 'stuck' in lockdown with your other half, I hope some of what I have shared will strike a chord. The most important message being... check yourself first.

So here's to wishing my other half a happy happy lockdown birthday, I know these past 93 days have had challenges. Every birthday for the past 3 years has opened new horizons for us, and this year it is no different. I pray that we will have many more filled with love, understanding, adventure and happiness InshaAllah.

Know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are loved, valued, treasured and adored by these 4 people who have been your constant companions during lockdown. We will probably never have the opportunity to bond and spend this much time in each other's space again... so I am immensely grateful to for these unusual times we find ourselves in.

With our numbers on the rise, stay safe and stay home. And if you're in danger in your own home please do reach out.

Hajj, THE most profound experience of my life spent with you by my side
Sending you off on tour last year, a day before your bday

And we tend to laugh a lot in this family!

Ciao for now, 
RuBe xoxo

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Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Dealing with the unspoken

Welcome back lovely readers!

We have passed the halfway mark of Ramadaan and heading towards the last ten days, and as always this month seems to be passing us by in a whirlwind. It is a bit of a contradiction since life has certainly slowed down in many other ways, lockdown has meant no work, no school, no sport, no socialising and no coffee or dinner dates. The very concept that the world has 'shut down' is incomprehensible, and yet we are living through it. I have heard and seen the words 'unprecedented' and 'unchartered waters' so many times in a day that its meaning has subtly somehow worn off. The solitude we find ourselves in can be comforting for some, welcomed even, while it may be a nightmare for others. And it could be both, depending on how we're feeling on a particular day. 

It has definitely been a blessing to experience a Ramadaan without the outside noise, to be encouraged to stay home and restrict social engagements. There could be no better way to spend this month, the only thing missing is the nightly congregational taraweeh prayers, which have now been replaced by our own family 'congregational' prayers, with each son taking turns to lead. This has been the first year we've done this and it will certainly remain a memorable and special Ramadaan for this very reason. We have spent so much time together as a family, even with the demands of tertiary online learning in the evenings. 
On the other hand, everyone misses the social engagement, misses talking face to face with a friend or laughing with family. I have my days where things feel like they're never going to settle into a 'new normal' and I struggle in frustration to comprehend what that will be like. In the same way my kids will be anxious about things related to lockdown. Remote learning is definitely not for everyone, and becomes extremely challenging when the workload is already pretty heavy. Since I have older kids, I can see the amount of time required for them to catch up with missed work, and at the same time maintain a current work schedule. A crucial part of attending campus or school is the intermittent breaks with your peers, bringing fun into the day. These breaks offer relaxation, the opportunity to laugh, play sport, chat and eat; easing the anxiety and pressure of enormous workloads and complicated concepts. With lockdown, the only relief  available is to video call a friend/s, play online games, read or watch series. This is a very isolated existence for social beings like my kids. One of the biggest losses for them during this time has been the inability to play team sport, and to make it even worse, all soccer leagues were suspended. Pre-COVID much of their lives revolved around soccer, whether playing it or watching it and debating stats with friends. They would host FIFA tournaments at home, play fives every weekend, enjoy game nights and watch soccer matches together. They've missed birthdays, 21st celebrations and even graduations 😳

All their socialising came to an abrupt end 59 days ago when our home when into lockdown, and their only social engagements was with their siblings and parents. It has actually been great, and upon second thought, I realise that from my perspective it has been great. The element of loss for our kids and uncertainty would add to anxiety and stress. In addition, seeing the large numbers of infected cases around the world and at home, as well as the growing numbers in the Western Cape further exacerbates feelings of fear. All of this has an impact on them, and as parents we seldom consider what seeing parents leave to do essential shopping wearing masks, and upon return disinfecting every single item purchase before packing it away (as I do) may do to them.  We've resorted to FaceTime calls to share birthday wishes, a virtual 'party' for Ihsaan, and even though they fully understand the state we're in, it doesn't make it easier for them. My younger nephews want to know when things will be 'finished' - a clear message that they're done doing lockdown. Some households have major financial implications, struggling to make ends meet, and this adds more stress to an already untenable situation in the home. 

Despite doing our daily gratitude exercises, we talk about what this lockdown has meant for the kids, and how they feel about it. Feelings vacillate, one moment they are happy that the country has taken this seriously enough to enforce a lockdown, on the other hand they are frustrated, stressed, anxious and worried. There is no solution to quickly end lockdown, and this means that these feelings will remain, so the only thing I can do as a parent is to allow them the space and offer support, this looks differently for each child. I can only be there for them, provide a shoulder to cry on for when they're feeling down, and be understanding when they're feeling frustrated, angry or stressed. As we experience our good days and bad days, so do they, and they may not necessarily have all the tools in their toolbox to manage these feelings and emotions. If they won't speak to you as the parent, explore alternative options to help them, I am sure there are many counsellors or psychologists offering services during this time. I am grateful that we are not 'stuck' in an abusive home, however it does not mean that our kids aren't in need of support. It is essential that we are tuned in to what our kids may need from us (or an external provider), so we can attempt to keep them mentally healthy, capable of working remotely and getting through this hard period of isolation. 

I've seen some concerning posts on suicide and depression, and lockdown has certainly triggered a surge. As a parent, please be vigilant to your kids' state of mind; and if you're the one feeling like this, please reach out for help or just a chat.♥️

"The only thing more exhausting than being depressed is pretending that you're not." —Anonymous

Some lockdown images...

This Ramadaan, I have decided to recite and read the transliteration with notes and commentary

Lockdown baking and cooking happens on the daily

As part of the FLC team, we created a photo collage message

My garden is really my happy place 

Our family games nights have been replaced by family taraweeh prayers


Caio for now, 
RuBe xoxo

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Monday, 20 April 2020

10 Lockdown tips which keep me sane

Hi lovelies,

I am unofficially on lockdown for a month and officially on the mandated lockdown for 3 weeks. It certainly isn't easy, and I know that anxiety, overwhelm and fear is high. Communities are in chaos as they try to comprehend the implications of this lockdown, as the end of the month draws closer with no possibility of income. Infection numbers are reported everyday and our senses are constantly assaulted with images from countries abroad, struggling to cope with their fast growing ICU cases, with the number of deaths escalating daily. All of this while being on lockdown can really be a recipe for alarm and panic, with many other socio economic factors adding fuel to the fire.

I have been taking lockdown in my stride, I am content, despite having my business and income ground to a total halt; and instead I prefer to keep focusing on how fortunate I am. I am trying to use what I DO have, what I have control over and plan for when we do resume trading again InshaAllah. I have found that placing my faith in the Almighty, that He will get me (and the world) through this, and managing what I am able to do to help those less fortunate, has been really therapeutic for me.

These are some of my tips for managing the kids and staying contained and safe during lockdown:
  1. I maintain my routine, as mentioned in my previous post. I wake up at the same time each day, shower and get dressed as if I were going into the office. My weekdays are distinctly different to my weekends. I have still had to work (following up on cancellations and postponed trips), fulfilling financial and marketing functions; and Zoom meetings which keep my days full and 'normal'. I schedule any home school assistance in between and we set the times each morning.
  2. I do the same with the family routine, we continue with our family dinners each evening around the same time as before, Ihsaan is awakened early on 'school days' and starts with work as if he was at school. His weekends and public holidays are days off as would have been the case outside of lockdown. His bedtime is also maintained on school nights, of course relative to what is appropriate for a 16 year old. 
  3. On school days no Playstation games allowed; when he's done with school work, he has a break and we have some constructive time, where he will read for leisure, we'll play a game of chess or cook/bake.
  4. It has been an adjustment getting into the swing of homeschooling, however one of the home schooling families from our school community shared some great tips when lockdown started. We read it in conjunction with Ihsaan, who told me what he can handle, what he feels comfortable with and what he would need assistance with. His schedule was then formulated together.
  5. What has helped is having a resident math and physics tutor in the form of his older brother, I assist with English and Afrikaans (especially literature) and Ihsaan manages his other subjects independently.
  6. Since the boys were little our home has been one of routine and as a result, even the two young adults in the home instinctively fall into a routine. They have each implemented their own routine, which suits their individual workload and much needed downtime.
  7. Since we find ourselves in unprecedented times, and there is really no right or wrong way to manage the impact of this lockdown, I am also fully aware of how my own reactions, behaviour, anxiety and fears affect every one in my home. I therefore need to be very clear in how I manage myself; and whilst I do have my down days, we will discuss it as a family, how we're feeling about the situation and what we see in the news each day.
  8. I understand that each of my kids are very different and therefore deal with their emotions and anxiety in their own way. So being aware of this, I try not to cloud the home atmosphere with my own stuff. I merely assure my family that I'm feeling a particular way (whether its worried, anxious or just low) and that they don't feel confused or the need to cheer me up. I can manage my own self.
  9. I am thankful that even though we have been cooped up at home for more than a month, that the sibling fighting has been minimal; and we have decided to focus on what we can do from the comfort of our homes to assist the underprivileged. My boys have decided to donate cash from their allowance towards charity organisations, was a way of making a contribution. 
  10. Since mosques are closed, we have our own Friday prayer ceremony. Every Friday we shower, prepare for 'Jumuah', get dressed and by 12:30 we're seated on our prayer mats together. We listen to the lecture on the radio before performing midday salaah, followed by our usual Jumuah lunch, which is a norm outside of lockdown as well.
The above tips work for me and my family, and routine has always been respected, no questions asked from a very young age. In fact, I do believe that it has provided an element of safety and stability for the boys as they grew up. So through modeling I have maintained my own routine in this difficult time. They know that my mornings in the garden is my quiet time and that it recharges my soul to be around nature and hear the chirping birds over the unusual silence of the neighbourhood. In the same way, I know what each individual member of my home needs to get through this; the rule in our home is to make allowance for that space. Our ethos is to be tolerant with each other, even though it may be difficult at times; the fundamental thing is to know that we each have our own behaviours which requires tolerance from the rest of the home. 

If things feel as if it is spiralling out of control at home, take a step back and consider what you may be feeling which could be contributing to this situation. Examine whether you are enabling this and affecting everyone else in the home, as children take their cue from us as the adults and role models. Know that they see, hear and feel everything; even if it is not spoken about. It is also ok to let them know if you do not know how to deal with a situation, or that you're struggling with lockdown; you're human and allowed to err. They will then feel less pressured when they see your behaviours, and understand that as the adult you too are trying to make sense of our new reality.

Wishing you all good health and a relatively easy remaining two weeks of lockdown. 

Some of my lockdown images... 

Ihsaan's choc chip cookies

All dressed up and with make up in the home office for a Zoom meeting

Doing a Macbeth lesson

I enjoy my garden and the time I am able to spend in it 

Easter Egg Hunt preparation

Games night has been one of our favourite family activites


Caio for now, 
RuBe xoxo
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Sunday, 29 March 2020

Lockdown diaries

Hi lovely readers,

As I pen my thoughts from my quiet and tranquil garden, I am starkly reminded of my privilege during this extremely trying time we find ourselves in as a global community. There have been so many reports of how people and countries have been responding to lockdown, and yet, it is a harsh reality that our country is not as equipped as most first world countries, to efficiently and seamlessly facilitate a lockdown of this magnitude. For this, we need each and every citizen to play their part. And that literally means to stay at home, and do the most you can from behind your four walls of safety. My family and I have been on lockdown since 16 March, we maintained social distancing to the point that the boys did not engage with anyone outside the home. Hubby and I just went to the office and home for that week, preparing for the inevitable and engaging with no one. During that first week, it became clear that not everyone understood the concept of social distancing nor the fact that even simple get togethers at home, joining your walking or running group, having a meal or coffee at a restaurant (despite hygiene methods or physical proximity measures) or small workshops pose a huge risk to the outbreak, and actually defied the concept of social distancing. It was therefore essential to implement the lockdown since our citizens didn't necessarily grasp the concept initially.

The other side of the coin is just as distressing, and that is the reality that the majority of our population is unable to go into lockdown as their basic living conditions are not conducive to social distancing. Apart from the fact that many of the impoverished have now lost their income, along with an escape from their daily grim realities, they are now forced into a tiny space inhabited by many bodies. Their very communities built in such close proximity, without sanitation and running water to be able to exercise the required hygiene controls. Imagine sharing a tap with over 300 households, imagine spending 21 days holed up in a one roomed home with an abusive and violent family member, who has now lost their job. Imagine that going to work or school every day was a respite from a life to which their was no way out... Imagine seeing images of queues of people preparing to stockpile while you're still waiting to get paid and praying that there would be something left on the shelves so that you can feed your family during lockdown... The bleak realisation that if our township and rural communities become infected is that our health infrastructure will be heavily overburdened. 

This is the reality of lockdown in South Africa, and the importance of why we need to isolate ourselves; to protect those who do not have access to the best medical facilities. To protect our communities which are overrun with TB and HIV affected individuals; in order to give those a fighting chance. Just by doing our bit and staying home we're giving our country a fighting chance, we're aiding in #flatteningthecurve and limiting the spread of the virus. Our country is not configured like Europe or the UK, countries who are crippled by the rapid spread of the virus. As a country we've taken early action to better prepare ourselves, as we do not have endless coffers from which to sustain a rapidly declining economy, or a furious spread of a virus which requires extensive medical infrastructures. It is also important to channel our charitable efforts via approved channels, we cannot have well meaning individuals distributing alms while placing our poorer communities at risk. Please, please, please support those charities which have been endorsed and have measures in place to assist our communities safely!

The world finds itself in unprecedented times, with governments scrambling to find solutions to keep their communities safe and healthy. Never before have airlines been grounded, businesses shut down, public parks been closed and citizens urged to stay home. Amongst the uncertainty, panic and fear, I am hopeful, I am determined to use this time to realign myself to whatever new reality will surface once this is over. And nobody can predict what that will look like, it therefor forces us to rely on our faith, our trust in the Divine and practise gratitude for those things which we take for granted. I have drastically reduced my time on social media and my engagement on watsapp, in an attempt to appreciate and make the most of the silence into which the world has been plunged. Our collective prayers for one outcome so eloquently highlights that we are all ONE human race, regardless of nationality, religion, race or culture.

I cannot presume to know what the world will be like post COVID-19, so I am taking this pause to focus on each day, do the inner work required to embrace where I find myself and how I show up in these trying times. I can only manage myself and my own contribution to this global pandemic,  and I can only hope that those around me do the same too.

21 days is really not a long time, so take this opportunity to do those things you never get around to.
Some of my tips for lockdown:

  • Maintain a routine, schedule work time, leisure time and family time, after all this time is a gift we will never get back.
  • If like our travel business, or many other business, your work has ground to a halt... strategise on when you do re-launch and go back to work. Most entrepreneurs work many hours IN the business, now you have some time to work ON the business.
  • Do not let the fear and constant barrage of fake news overwhelm you, instead keep updated with news at adhoc times during the day, or visit www.sacoronavirus.co.za to ensure you're informed on actual updates.
  • I have older kids at home so I don't really need to entertain them, and thankfully the two older ones have universities which have kept them busy. However with younger kids, it's important to keep them occupied with constructive activities. Some suggestions:
    • Plan a daily schedule which includes school work, reading, TV time, game time, outdoor activity (if you have the space) such as a scavenger hunt, helping in the garden or enjoy a picnic.
    • Teach them a new skill: perhaps to make something in the kitchen, how to play chess or to sew or knit.
    • Play some boardgames, cards or build a puzzle.
    • Let them help plan the menu for the week, and if possible assist with preparation.
    • Allow them to plan their schedule for one day of the week (with some guidelines).
  • Read that book, have conversations with your family, pray together, enjoy the sunshine and fresh air.
  • Learn a new skill or start that project you've been planning. 
Before you know it, the 21 days would have flown by, and we really have no idea what will happen then, so let's draw on our faith and stay strong. Concentrate on what we CAN do instead of what we cannot, and above all know that our responsibility is to stay safe and healthy. 

"Where focus goes energy flows"
Tony Robbins

I just couldn't bring myself to do an outfit post during this time, I don't have the inclination to plan a photoshoot, so this post doesn't include any fashion pics, just a few lockdown images 😊

This is what my lockdown looks like:


Caio for now,
RuBe xoxo

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