Wednesday 25 October 2017

The start of my #Hajj journey

Welcome readers, 

I started 2017 on another continent, on vacation with my family in frosty London. And I remember at one mealtime, we discussed the fact that the next international trip would most likely be mine and hubby's Hajj journey. I had also been telling all my family and friends for the past year that my 40th birthday celebrations would be happening in Makkah, whilst on Hajj...

Where we ended 2016 & started 2017- Frosty London
All words, said in earnest with the highest hopes, and yet our names didn't appear on any accreditation list, not the first, second or third. My dream of a Hajj 1438 were dashed by May; and yet I continued to hold fast to the belief that on my 40th birthday, I would be standing in front of the Holy Ka'baa. I did not know how this would happen, and yet I intuitively believed it would✨

31 December 2016
Upon our return home from holidaying abroad, the year kicked off with a bang! As a family we experienced so many trials and traumas and for a while it seemed that the weeks from February to June, just kept kicking us down. There were many times where I had to work at picking myself up and remaining open to the positive blessings which were also being lined up for us. And while we felt like we were in a whirlwind of change in our home, shifts in longstanding relationships and trying to maintain the balance, life continued its hectic pace.

So much has happened for these young men this year, and they have stepped up to
the challenges with immense strength and grace ♥️
Their additional two 'siblings' aka cousins who moved in for the 7 weeks.
If you've been following my blog you would know that this was the year I put my control freak to rest, so to speak. I consciously decided to let things unfold as they were meant to, I untied the proverbial apron strings with my first born and left this year up to him. Apart from the occasional advisory role, he dictated how his first year at University went. He planned his days, his transport, classes, bought his books, arranged his gym time, worked to earn some cash; all on his own. It wasn't easy to just let go, but it was absolutely amazing to see how he stepped up and took charge! I took this as a sure indicator that things will not fall apart if I step back and allow things just develop naturally, things will happen as they are meant to anyway.⚡️

Our last family Sunday lunch before we departed, this young man dreaded the 7 week separation!
Days before our departure, collecting our documents
Upon looking back, I realise that everything that has transpired over the past two years has actually been a preparation for our Hajj journey. In fact, this year alone has felt so monumental with all its challenges, that I cannot imagine having gone on pilgrimage any other time. I accept that whatever emerged this year was a series of steps to prepare me spiritually, emotionally and universally for this life changing journey. It was as if these occurrences were slowly, unobtrusively, aligning me to be open to embrace this life changing experience with arms wide open. Because without a doubt, by the time we left, I was on another horizon, ready to accept whatever came my way, without expectation or 'cast in stone' plans. Growing up I always heard the 'elders' say that we will be tried and tested before Hajj, and whilst it seemed an abstract concept- I can wholly attest to this! There have been many moments over the past couple of months where I've said that life as I know it no longer exists. Well, after this journey... Life as I know it REALLY no longer exists.
Eid-ul-Fitr morning, days after we received the news of our accreditation
And even though this post does not even touch on Madinah or Makkah... these will eventually follow. I felt it was appropriate to start my #HajjSeries (because it's hard to just do one or two posts) with where it all started, right here at home. I've heard so many people say "I'm not ready for Hajj"; let me just say that nothing will ever prepare one for Hajj, not even the four year wait! Finances and family arrangements miraculously fall into place (and I use the word miraculous as I know of some experiences shared with me firsthand which can not be explained in any other way). Nobody will ever be able to give you lessons to prepare you, as this journey is more than just the final pillar of our religion. It is a spiritual transformation like no other, one that is impossible to convey, as every single moment will differ from person to person. Apart from the physical rituals we perform, there is an intense focus on the self, reflection of life and the importance and significance of serving a higher power, our Creator. I cannot say that I have come back changed and that this is the end of it. After Hajj I suspect there will never be an end to the personal transformation, it actually feels like the beginning. And lessons and insights will continue to unfold for as long as I remain open to serving my Creator. Each day brings another epiphany for me, and with it the opportunity to improve.

The morning we departed...

 3 months ago today, 25th July 2017,  I left my home as an individual, with absolutely no knowledge of what lay ahead. As I share my story, you may catch a glimmer of what this journey is about, but the only way to really know is to experience it firsthand.

Watch this space for next instalment 😊

Ciao for now,
RuBe xoxo

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Thursday 19 October 2017

Orly Breathable Nail Polish Review

Hi Lovelies, 

The purpose of this post is not aimed at promoting the use of nail polish as a muslimah, whether it's during your time of the month or just generally using a breathable coat on your nails throughout the month. I believe this is a personal choice, and depends on your own individual views - none of which I intend to engage here.  When I posted the image last week of the colour on my nails, it sparked some debate around the issue of Halaal nail polish, I respect all views, however I do not wish to continue it here.

My intention: to test the claims, and share the results with anyone else who may be unsure. As a parent myself, I would like to be kept abreast of what is out there and what our kids are exposed to, on all fronts. Furthermore, this review is not solely for Muslim readers as breathable nail polish is actually healthier for the nail. Orly is not only breathable, it also conditions the nails, leaving the nails in a better condition after a week than most other brands. I can attest to this, I had been buffing my nails so much to add some shine to the henna, it was in need of some conditioning! This product also features advanced oxygen technology that allows oxygen and hydration to penetrate the nail, allowing it to stay moisturised.

The image which sparked debate last week

I was invited to try out the Orly Nail polish by the company, and after visiting the distributor head office for a trial manicure, I had sight of the Halaal certificate issued by ICSA. So my interest was piqued and I wanted to test the water permeability for myself. Having tested other breathable polishes, I wasn't entirely convinced. In order to test whether water permeates the polish, I painted some on a cotton wool pad, allowed it to thoroughly dry, and dropped water on it. (PS:I tested it on one coat only). The water droplets immediately seeped through the Orly nail polish whilst it stayed on the surface of the regular polish. This confirms the water permeability test. 

A comprehensive list of stockists and colours can be found on the Orly website.

Orly in the colour, The Antidote

The dark maroon polish is The Antidote from Orly, and the Coral colour is a regular polish

After about 2 minutes the water has seeped through the Orly polish and
is still on the surface of the regular polish.

After 5 minutes the water droplets have soaked through the cotton pad- confirming
the permeability claims

Overall, aside from the light consistency and conditioning formula, the manicure remained intact for the entire week. After a week there no chips or peeling and even though the formulation is very light, the colour is still deeply pigmented. 

Ciao for now!
RuBe xoxo

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Friday 6 October 2017

How Hajj impacted my family

Welcome lovelies!

I clearly haven't returned to my regular Friday morning posts, or regular OOTD posting... I am trying to establish a new routine, trying to find my groove in my post-Hajj world. The habit of regular self introspection has stayed with me, the constant conversations with my Creator- all of this contributing to the processing and understanding of my intensely spiritual experience. 

I have been asked so many times about my journey, and my answer to every single person is that it was Amazing!, Beautiful! and very hard to describe to someone else. It is as if the experience was so sacred that words cannot describe it, and also, no two people will ever have the same experience. My Hajj was 'tailored' for me, the trials were just for me, the highs were for me, the challenges and every little aspect bestowed upon me to make my Hajj meaningful, were for ME. And even though hubby and I were travelling together, we both had different spiritual experiences while the physical aspects of Hajj were shared. I know, without a doubt, that there are still lots more processing to come as I unfold and unpack more about my journey each day, and then I will be able to share what I have learnt. 

Life has settled into a new pattern, priorities have subtly changed and even the kids and their behaviours have changed drastically since we've been back. The advantage of leaving behind older kids, means they are able to appreciate us, what we do for them and how having us around gives them a sense of security. I am eternally grateful to my younger sister who moved into my home (with her own kids) and uprooted her entire life for 8 weeks to take care of my kids. And even though she gets my kids, what they each need to feel settled and how to manage each one, there was still a huge void she struggled to fill. My boys love her dearly and they share a very special bond, and yet, by week 4 they were ready for us to come back home. It's crazy, but they actually missed the routine (I used to be a drill sergeant in their formative years and so routine is ingrained in my home), they missed the boundaries and just the knowing that we're around for anything. 

One of the main themes around Hajj is sacrifice, and the conscious detaching from your normal life and material possessions, and the realisation for us while we were in Saudi was that this was not only applicable to the two of us, but for the 3 boys as well. I had to remind them whenever they felt down, to imagine that whatever they're feeling as part of the Hajj, our Hajj, but by extension they too are having to make some sacrifices and compromises. We were gone for two birthdays, my 40th and Ziyaad's 19th, this was hard for the kids as birthdays are a huge deal in my home. For the first time, Ziyaad didn't wake up to us singing to him, the scavenger hunt for the gifts didn't happen, his favourite meal and dessert wasn't prepared.... And through all these little things they missed, it brought them to a new found appreciation for those little gestures which is a norm to them. I had a conversation with my eldest yesterday and to hear him say :"Mom, I have realised how hard it must be to be a parent. I really appreciate you and Dad.", brought such a lump to my throat I struggled to keep driving. What it also showed me is that my kids have also had to do some processing and some introspection to come to new realisations. 

This journey was not only for me, it brought about a new understanding in my home. I was also really grateful to hear, upon my return, how well-behaved and responsible the boys were, how they looked after each other and helped out around the house where they could. I could not have asked for anything more, and so I too have a new found appreciation for these three young men who are gifts to me in more ways than one. 

Whilst I am adjusting to life post-hajj, so are my kids, and so often we forget that they too have endured changes during our journey. This is one aspect of Hajj that nobody ever talks about, nobody even hints at it and instead will say that you shouldn't worry, your home and kids will be taken care of. They will be taken care of, of course, but what processes they go through is another factor that cannot be ignored or overlooked, as they too have undergone a huge transformation, even if it is just by having to dealing with the lengthy absence.

This lookpost is a casual one, on a day where I needed some fresh air, and to connect with nature. It always calms me, rejuvenates me just to hear the birds chirping, to feel the sun on my face and smell the fragrant blooms.

Outfit  details:
Striped shirt purchased in Saudi Arabia
Woolworths Jeans (old)
Scarf by Riehana's Scarves
French Connection slingbag 
Sunglassses From Glam Closet

Ciao for now, 
RuBe xoxo

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