Have bag, will travel

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If I had to think about the places I have been to, I would have to say that I am not as well travelled despite having been to a few Countries. From the places that I have been to however, I can honestly say that if there was anything I would spend my money on, it would be travel.

Now I know that very few people have the luxury of being able to travel abroad. It is by no means cheap. Even local travel within South Africa for a family of 4 , just for a weekend away mind you, is almost as expensive as travelling to a neighboring Country to SA.  What I do painstakingly save my money for is, my next adventure . The travel bug is real. If you’ve been to explore a new Country just once, you will find yourself wanting to go to explore a new place and then another and another.  Of course there are two general hurdles I find is one being having enough leave to go on a vacation and the other obviously the cost factor especially if you have a family and want to travel with kids. One cannot just take a sabbatical to travel for six months and still come back to gainful employment. Further to this, with the South African rand, one cannot get very far, so saving is definitely in order to plan the next trip.

I love traveling. I love everything about it except having to fly there lol.  I am a nervous flyer to be very honest, especially on long distance flights , but I keep my focus on my destination and how amazing it will be when I get there. That keeps me calm. Of course traveling with kids is another ballgame and parents with kids, will know how you need to pace up and down to keep your kid entertained,  especially on a long flight which has its challenges,  but for now,  where I go, my kids go.

For me,  being able to meet people of  different cultures, different walks of life, explore new, visit ancient heritage sites, take in the beautiful architecture in various cities, taste the local delicacies,  and basically just take in the slights and sounds of new experience and adventure is utterly decadent!  Each time , I travel I find myself realizing that we are just a small spec on the map and there is still so much in this world still to explore, and I wonder if I will get to see all that I desire to in this lifetime. I will certainly be trying to!

I remember as a child, our Mum and Dad ( if my sisters are reading this please note the use of the word “Our” lol) I tend to say “ my” parents as if they are only mine , both worked really hard, as most parents do,  to sustain our family. My Mum has always been an avid reader , still is, and she would comb the pages of newspapers and magazines, and find the tiniest articles on vacation specials. She would then cut these out and call the number to find out what was on Offer. My Mum would always make sure that at least once a year, we would all go on a local trip with my two younger sisters and I. We travelled from Durban almost always by car as flights were really expensive back then (nothing’s changed there) . My Dad was the designated driver and Mum was the co-pilot. I recall that my Mum would never ever fall asleep when my Dad drove. She always kept herself up so she could keep my Dad company.

Mum would pack us the yummiest road food and off we would go. This would include anything from tinned fish sandwiches to chicken roti rolls and  from Durban we would drive to places like Sun City in Johannesburg, Swaziland, and to areas just outside of Durban like Hluhluwe Game Reserve, Wild Coast and San Lameer. One of the fondest memories was a trip we took to Cape Town by ship. I couldn’t have been more than 12 years old and we went aboard a cruise liner called the Achille Lauro. I remember the first time I saw it. It was huge and extravagant. I recall the detail about that the opulence of that ship, the ritual of a seated dinner and formal attire every night, to the phenomenal entertainment by the Carlo Spetto dancers and the grandeur of the Captain’s dinner which ended off with sparklers in pavlova for dessert. I remember my baby sister in her polka dot dress on the dance floor, moving her tiny hands to the beat of music, and my middle sister with the sweetest, toothiest grin smiling and enjoying her spaghetti in Napolitana sauce.

These memories are etched in my mind forever , and I am so grateful to my parents for them exposing us to such beautiful childhood memories that will last a lifetime. I’m thankful to my clever Mum who always put money aside to ensure we took these trips annually.

My first ever trip abroad was to India. I remember everyone in the Indian Community referred to it as going “Overseas”. It was also something really special to be able to travel abroad and usually involved a really big send off from parents, grandparents, sibling, aunts , uncles and cousins. It was as though everyone was going with and wanted to partake in the pomp and excitement which was always special.

I had no idea what to expect. Being Indian, I wondered what it would be lim to go to the Motherland, the land my ancestors originally came from . I was born and raised in Durban, South Africa before I moved to Johannesburg, and I remember both the excitement and trepidation. I went with my Mum, Gran, and my cousin who was shopping for her wedding trousseau. I was 21 years old.

We had a 2 night stopover in Dubai before we were due to arrive in India. I recall looking around as we drove to our hotel. It was immaculately clean. The cars were all in amazing condition and I didn’t see any cars that weren’t roadworthy on the road. Our hotel was beautiful and we were jetlagged, but so excited to be there. The heat gets you first. We decided to rest before we headed out on foot to do a bit of exploring. The first thing we realized is that there were no women walking around . No one in sight. We started to feel a bit odd as we were also getting a lot of stares,  so we asked a local what was happening. It was Ramadan , a fasting period and holy time for Muslims. We immediately realized that we were wearing jeans and needed to be more appropriately attired in Indian wear out of respect. Dubai was lovely, what a beautiful city!

India was next. Mumbai was our first stop. The first thing that gets you as you step of the plane is the heat, the dust , the pollution and the scent of the city. It’s a place that you either love or it’s not for you. For me , it is and will always be Incredible India. I have been there three times and I would go again in a heartbeat. There are places with extreme poverty, then in complete contrast,  you will find a shack next to a large Corporate building in the city. As you move away from the City , the pollution lessens and you get to experience the villages, the people and the beauty of the country.

What I found most prominent about India, is the generosity of the people. Wherever you go , whether it is into a store to shop or you meet a local, you will always be offered a drink or sometimes even a meal!  In India , guests are treated as Gods. It’s a practice in a South Africa as well with most people of Indian descent that when you have a visitor that you always offer them something to eat or drink. I often found that people we met in India had so little yet they were still prepared to buy  you cold drink. Poverty is rife. People have to survive on so little. Women doing manual labour on the streets with concrete to earn a living. It was hard to see that, but it was very similar to what we was happening in my own Country. The graciousness of the people will always remain with me.

It is said that if you bathe in the Ganges river in India then you will be absolved our your sins. But you can only do it once in your lifetime.

I went into the Ganges on my 2nd trip with my Mum, but oh my word was it freezing!! I couldn’t immerse my head into the water as other locals were doing and only went in waist deep. It was a beautiful experience, and I felt this amazing sense of calm, but it was incredibly cold, I was freezing when I came out!!

I had a cold the very next day and came down with the flu. We drove back to Delhi and I was man down. I literally couldn’t get out of the bed . My Mum wasn’t sure what meds to get me and what to do, but the Hotel manager we were staying at suggested that the waiter bring me some ginger chai tea. I wasn’t sure how that was going to help my cause but I took in a few sips to appease him.  Don’t laugh when I say this, but I swear to you that 3 cups off that tea that night saved my life! The next morning my fever had broken and  , I was back to normal as if nothing had happened to me. So yeah ginger chai tea rocks for me.

Nothing prepares you for the first glimpse that you get of the Taj Mahal in Agra. It is both mesmerizing and magnanimous. I was transfixed with its beauty, the intricacies of the paint work which was apparently made with vegetable dye, and the sheer magnitude of the building. Imagine someone loving a person that much, they declared their love with such an incredible work of art and architecture.  With the pink palaces on either end , it was a sight to behold and if I just close my eyes, I am back there again.

I have since been to India on two other occasions. On the last trip Mum and I were joined by my middle sister, Dad, and hubby. It was a journey that started in Kashmir, where we in awe of the sheer beauty of the place in Winter with snow capped mountains and frozen lakes. Dad had always wanted to go there. I remember us having to hire really warm fur covered jackets for us to head up the mountain pass. We arrived at a place called Gulmarg, that looked like a picture out of a storybook possibly where Santa could have had his house and toy factory with his elves. I looked around me and it was bright as day with the sun shining brightly on my face, but there was snow everywhere. What a sight to behold. A memory etched in time that I will never forget.

We went on from there to Agra, then to Haridwar to the Ganges, then to Goa, Jaipur and then Mumbai and yet I have not had my fill of India. I still need to visit the South of India and cant wait until I am able to do so.

Since the kids, we have had to consider shorter flights and kid friendly resorts. Mauritius is an amazing island with numerous kid friendly places to stay. We spent our December there and it was nothing short of spectacular.

Our most recent trip was to Singapore.  Its such an incredible city. It runs like clockwork from the cleanliness of the place to the transportation system to the etiquette of the people and their politeness. The heat can take some adjustment but once you do, you are just on the move and on the go. It’s super kid conducive and we were fortunate to have family around to show us around the most popular sights and we got to see the place as locals. As much as we missed them both, I realized that they had something really special in this City. What I loved most is that we could walk anywhere day or night freely with the kids! I remember us heading back one night at 10pm with just my Mum and I and the baby and I honestly felt safe. Safety is never guaranteed in any Country which I’m not oblivious to but it was just a strange concept for me not to have to look over my shoulder.

We took in the sights of Gardens at the Bay, Marina Sands, Sentosa Island and Little India. We ate from everything from fish curry, to chicken satay, to chicken rice. It was an incredible trip and really special to have my family there except my baby sis and her hubby who we missed.

What’s also special about travel is that you meet people. People who become friends. When my first born was 8 months we met a family of 4 at a resort in Mauritius. What a wonderful family and they were smitten with Alia and they carried her and played with her. We are still in touch to this day, and met again recently. Alia is now 5 and we met them when she was 8 months old!! How incredible is that!! So believe me when I say travel connects people.

So that’s only part of my story, I know you guys don’t have time for a long read because I could really could go on.

But here’s my advice for what it is worth.

Everything you have in your life can be replaced, but memories are etched in time and will remain forever. Do what you wish to do in you life and I wish you well in all that you choos, but for those that are itching to see more, go out there and see it, taste it and feel it!!

Have bag, will travel!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Best of Me

person on a bridge near a lake
Photo by Simon Migaj on Pexels.com

 

I haven’t written in a while because I guess, well,  life happens doesn’t it.

I find that time becomes stretched so thin that I really battle to balance all my commitments and priorities in a day. My usual late night ritual of writing has taken a back seat because I am so exhausted,  that I pass out whilst baby is being put to sleep.

I am grateful to have a partner who is wonderful with both my girls, and my baby girl is attached to him at the hip, so she gravitates more to her dad at bed time. Lucky me!

So after a short hiatus of a little travel, having two sick kids, then getting sick myself, I am getting my groove back and slowly getting back into writing.

I ran into a friend of hubby’s at the mall about two weekends ago and she said to me that she loved my blog, and that I should keep at it as I was really good at it. It was her words that made me realize that my message is getting out there each time and that even though my blog is more of a passion of mine , it resonates with people and that is the ultimate aim of my writing.

It’s been really busy at the office. It gets to crunch time around this part of the year and there is a hive of activity. I am grateful to be in a role where I get to work with and help people and my Organisation. There are many days when its really challenging , and multi tasking is key, but it is also rewarding for me to be able to change someone’s life in some small way.

When I get home I have two little rugrat faces, that are so amazingly cute that I just want to squish them. They are usually waiting eagerly for me to get home and once I do it is a scramble from each of them to get a piece of my attention. I get two special hugs that just revitalize my tired body and mind in that few minutes. Whatever stresses of the day, wash away there and then, and I go from  Corporate Woman to SuperMum in a matter of seconds. To them, whatever achievements I had that day doesn’t mean much to them. All they want is Mum to take off her heels and play with them on the carpet.

Within a few minutes I am off to get cooking with dinner. I cook every night. Maybe that’s my problem right there!  I enjoy a home cooked meal. Fridays are usually “take out” meals or we go out for dinner. But the rest of the week I prepare dinner for us. Speaking of which, I am so over those dreaded 3 words …….”What’s for dinner?” Hubby tells me not to worry about “going to too much trouble” and then when I don’t, he looks into the pots when he gets home and seems unimpressed.  Mmm. Anyway I will leave that there. I hope he is reading this! LOL

Whether you’re a stay at home Mum or a working Mum, there is still so much that requires your attention. So it doesn’t help when you’re having an off day or an off moment. You just need to shrug it aside and keep moving on. I remember that when it was just hubby and I and I had a rough day, I would pick up some food on my way home,  run a bubble bath for myself, light some candles and soak myself in the bathtub.

Then I would have dinner with hubby, and I would pick up where I left off from the latest book I was reading. You know when you actually had time to pick the book up, open it and read a few pages hehehe. All you Mums know what I am talking about.  It would be a few hours before I would put it down and then off to bed it was.

Please note that I adore my kids with every fibre of my being, but anyone with kids knows that you cant do the same when you have kids.

You just cant switch off.

When you get home, your afternoon starts with them and it involves you being engaged. I get down onto the carpet and we sing, and dance and we play, and it’s really refreshing to act like a kid again and be carefree and get involved in the kind of activities that they love like arts and crafts, drawing, being creative, playing music, watching Peppa Pig and Ben and Holly and then dancing to Baby Shark do do dooo dooo dooo dooo dooo dooo and then some more doooo, and The Wheels on the Bus.

Then there’s dinner, bath time, pjs, bottles , bedtime stories and trust me when I sat my 5 year old has every excuse in the book for not wanting to go to bed.

You guys know what I am talking about right, and these are not in isolation, these are all in one night session consecutively:

  • Mum, can I have some water?
  • Mum, can I sleep in your bed just for a little bit?
  • Mum, I need to use the bathroom. Then back to bed
  • Mum, my tummy is sore (Now parents out there will know the number of ailments that arise when kid is asked to go to bed)
  • Mum, there are monsters under my bed?
  • Mum , can I have some more water?
  • Mum, can I sleep with you tonight?

Hmmm. By this time I am exhausted and have already lost the battle, but I shall, I shall win the War , me thinks LOL.

My 18 month old doesn’t sleep…. period.

You know the kids that have slept through the night from like Week or Month one? Yeah that ain’t my kids. My first born only slept through the night when she was 3. My 18 month old literally doesn’t sleep… period. It’s every respect to her as she sleeps with a brace and shoes for her club feet but she is just restless and so we are like zombies when it’s time to wake up.

Kids are only young once so I honestly DO NOT MIND  having to deal with what I have to now. These aren’t complaints. In fact, I savor and I make a concerted effort to be present when I am with my kids. Not on my phone, not thinking about work, but genuinely being present with them. Holding, them, hugging them, and giving them lots and lots of kisses. Someday my kid may not want to cuddle or kiss me so while they do I intend to take full advantage of it!!

Getting back to what I wanted to chat about today. I realized that being so many roles and so many different things to different people, it’s hard to keep anything back for yourself. And that’s how I’ve been feeling. Like this balance I’m trying to achieve is so far out of reach but most of all ,I’m not getting time for me.

I need the Best of Me to be the best of me. If that even makes sense. But it does to me.

To just not have a routine. To maybe deviate from the routine. And just to be kinder to myself. To cut myself some slack.

A friend of mine who read my Blog on the “Shape of Me” told me that she loved my blog. She loved every one of my articles but she wasn’t so keen on “The Shape of Me”. We didn’t go into detail but she just said that it felt like I was being really hard on myself.

And I realized that maybe I was. Yes, I am still striving to be healthy but being and looking a certain way doesn’t define who I am as a person. I am still me. Flawed, fragile and tough at the same time. Empathetic, but not to be used only when needed. Generous, but not to be taken for a ride. A sincere friend, that will stand by you when you need it the most.

I realized that most of all , I need to be my own best friend.

When I was still in school, I really wanted a best friend. I had a wonderful best friend in Primary School and she and I were so much alike. We were both really good at writing, I know she was better than I but still we always competed especially when it came to essays in English class. When we got to high school, she and I parted ways but still remained in touch over the years to this day.

I didn’t have best friend in high school. I had my friends from primary school, but I also wanted to widen my circle of friends and I eventually made friends with a group of girls that I didn’t know before. It wasn’t part of my normal nature to put myself out there and make friends with people I didn’t know. But for some reason, I did. I didn’t just stay with the people that I knew. These girls that I made friends with in high school , are now the women that I am friends with to this day.

They are successful women in their own right, and even the friends I had made in my primary school have grown up to be successful women that I am proud to know.

But I realized that I don’t need a best friend. I have me. I have my sisters who I speak to on a daily basis over what’s app, that is a sisterhood, an instant advice medium, a comedic meme stance when one is needed, a support group for sharing dieting tips and I have an amazing group of friends, each so special in their own way that I cherish and make time for.

Being my own best friend means that I can be gentle with myself. I can be forgiving of my mistakes. I can learn from where I have gone wrong. I can say I am sorry, if I have hurt someone. I can stop being so hard on myself. I can give myself permission to have an off day and just keep it real. I got this.

I told my hubby that I need a night out with just the girls. I sometimes find that women tend to bring each other down, instead of picking each other up. Why is that?

I also find that women find it so hard to compliment one another. I am really sincere with my compliments if I see someone that really looks amazing, or is wearing a stunning dress, or has her brows on fleek, or has the ability to walk in those amazing killer heels. I can honestly say that I am the first one to say something nice. Why is that so hard?

I have sometimes seen people stare from your head to your toe in appreciation but then say nothing. Oh well. This isn’t about fishing for compliments. This is about creating a camaraderie where women are not in a competition.

We are all experiencing the same things as we go through life. There is no competition and if there is , you should only be in competition with yourself to be the best version of you.

So that’s what I am focusing on. Being a better me. As I have grown I have realized that there is still a lot to learn, but don’t we always tend to focus on what we haven’t done.

How about we focus on what we have done? What we did get right? I have a successful career where I am in a position to help people which I love. I have a supportive partner who is my equal in all respects. I have two beautiful girls, who are miracles in their own right. I have a wonderful family and an amazing group of friends who make this home for me.

From now on, gratitude is my attitude. It always has been, but it will be more pronounced and it will be enforced more. I have always been someone that wants to achieve and reach greater heights, but never at the expense of something else. So whilst I have my goals, I am going to place my emphasis on the here and now and just be.

Just be me.

If there is one thing that I know about myself its that I wont compromise my values or my integrity.

You do you, and I will do me.

Till next time friends….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Investing in dreams

 

Zhavia Ward - Artist: created_by_inspiration
Zhavia Ward – Artist: created-by-inspiration

So the above picture was sketched by my niece. Her dad and I were really close cousins growing up, and she and her brother are so dear to me. She is someone incredibly talented from a very young age, both academically and artistically, and she is only 14 years old!  This is just one of her favourite’s from her art collection which is her take on Zhavia Ward who sang on a show called “The Four”. She is completely self taught and when I look at this picture, I see such incredible talent.

I am writing about empowerment today, because I feel that many of us have the ability and potential to be so much more, and do so much more with this life that we have been given, but we don’t. We don’t because in reality, life happens. And when life happens your priorities change. Your dreams don’t, do they? They are hidden in the background and very, very rarely do we have the power to bring them to the forefront. We try, but it doesn’t always work out.

Those people living their dreams are few and far between, sometimes at a cost of something else, or sometimes they just got lucky, or they just worked really  hard to get there. Whatever it may be that got them to that point, they are possibly in a situation where they are getting paid to do what they love. For me that would be tasting ice cream, but nah, let’s get a bit more real, shall we?

So, when we are kids we have all these really amazing and sometimes far-fetched ideas on what we will do when we grow up. But the more far fetched the better is what I believe. Let’s think about some of the jobs we are doing today, some of these jobs didnt even exist back then. Then we grew  up and as we go through that process of growing up, we get told many times about why we can’t do something as opposed to how we can do it. You guys know what I am talking about right. Well those dreams and ideas we had as a kid, somehow diminish as reality kicks in and we need to conform to what the world at large and society has placed on us as rules.

Well the trick is, there are no rules. Not really. Not when you want to follow your dreams. Of course your road to following what you really love doing might not be practical. You may want to surf for a living but you don’t live at the Coast. But if you do, you need to make that move to the Coast, right? Or if you are a struggling musician, and are waiting for that record contract, you need to play in a couple of dodgy bars to a sparsely populated audience before you get your big break right?

Well, the thing is, you are not alone. You are doing what you love. You don’t have a fall back. Many of us do. But if we didn’t have a fall back, we would be going for what we wanted full steam ahead, wouldn’t we? We wouldn’t have a Plan B right, there would only be a Plan A. And when there is only Plan A, there is no room to turn back.

Well maybe we should be going for our Plan A. If there is one thing I have learnt about this life, is that you only get one shot at it. And you best give it your best shot. I heard that this Canadian lady just won the Lottery and some ridiculous amount. I mean she is set for the rest of her life. But I heard that she gave a huge portion of it away. Her rationale was that she can’t take it with her, all she gets to take with is memories. So shouldn’t we be focusing on just that, making memories and following our Plan A.

Look, I know it’s easier said than done right. I mean there are bills to pay, there are kids to feed and one has to be realistic and practical. That’s part of adulting as I call it. Being a grown up, having bills, paying your rent and securing your job. That doesn’t mean you can’t still work towards your dreams.

My blog has been that for me. It has given me an outlet to channel the passion I have for writing. I can write for days, it might not always have great content, but I believe in always having a message to impart. I remember writing when I was younger, writing poems, writing short plays at school, one which we actually performed called Doctor Hollywood, which some of my classmates may recall. I wrote that play, we casted for it, and we acted it out to our class.

That passion for writing is my strength and that strength will never die. It has led me to this and even though I don’t have the time to write longer articles, I am taking a piece towards my dream and working towards it.

Yes, I am doing it at 10pm at night for about an hour and a half but it’s “me” time when the kids and hubby are asleep and I get to focus on doing what I love. Trust me I don’t sit and think about this, it just flows from me. I can’t even type fast enough to keep up when I have an idea on what I want to write about. I type it on my phone and then email it to myself so I don’t forget.

Sometimes you will find this inspiration in various ways but most of the time, it’s an inner voice that will tell you to go for it. You get to a point where you realise that I can do this. I am really talented and good at this. I should be doing this. Well when you get to that point, don’t ignore it, as some of us take longer to get there, and some of us unfortunately don’t get there and hey no ones judging you because we get it

Empower yourself. Get yourself the tools to channel your inspiration and passion. Practice , practice and practice some more if you need to fine tune your talent, your product, your skill. Develop it , nurture it and care for it. Like a plant that grows from a seed, so you will your Plan A grow, and reach for great heights.

Have ambition, but let it be structured. Structured ambition. I used these words with a friend of mine this past week, and she wanted to write it down because she loved it so much. I know some may disagree, and feel that ambition shouldn’t be harnessed. I am not saying harness it, I am saying structure it so it’s achievable, so it has mini goals, so that it is not all over the place, so that it has a ladder to success.

Be prepared mentally for setbacks because they will happen. It’s not all going to be a straight line. Ask any successful actor, musician, or successful person how did they get to achieving greatness and you will always hear how they started from the bottom or how they waited tables, or how they washed dishes at a restaurant or how they were told that they would never amount to anything. But despite all the odds, they got there, and so will you. You just need to be tenacious and have a hunger for it.

So for me it’s always been about timing. When I wanted my first child and yearned for her it wasn’t my time. My time was 8 years later. But in those 8 years I got to experience life with my hubby and have an extended honeymoon. I got to take naps LOL, but even though my time is limited now with my 2 young girls, I still find the time to nurture my writing skills. My blog was the first thing I have done for myself in a long time, and the fact that I can reach out to one person fulfills me. I always get feedback after my articles are published and that for me is affirmation that my word is being acknowledged and helping someone that may need to hear what I have to say.

So I speak of empowerment. It’s such a powerful word for me. Empower yourself. Don’t wait for someone else to affirm what you already know. If you have a talent and you wish to pursue it and you don’t have anything holding you back, go for it. This doesn’t mean that you need to quit your job, or not have an income. But find a way to follow what you were given naturally as a talent.

They always say that if you are doing something you love, you never have to work a day in your life. I am grateful to be able to work with people, which I love doing, and also have this that I work on until I have perfected it.

Sometimes it will not be perfect, but like my blog is called the Imperfect Perfection, in our flaws lies our perfection. Perfection is an ideal people strive to, but in my mind it’s just that, an ideal. It is all about perception.

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NOTE:    Should you wish to follow my niece’s artwork on Instagram her handle is:

@created_by_inspiration

 

 

The Shape of Me

blue tape measuring on clear glass square weighing scale
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Today is Day 11.

Day 11 of being one step closer to the me that I used to be.

By that I mean, being in better shape physically and looking and feeing good. By that I don’t mean, going back to looking the way I did in my twenties. Ofcourse that would be great, lol, but I am also a realist. What I want, is the me that was comfortable in my own skin, the me that felt really confident when I got dressed up for a special occasion and looked and felt good, and didn’t have to try and squeeze my body into a pair of my favorite jeans. The me that could take out and wear the one outfit that I knew fitted me like a glove and I wore it seamlessly and effortlessly. It’s been a while since I felt like that, and gosh it was an incredible feeling! I want that feeling back. I want to be back in control of that aspect of my life.

I don’t know about everyone else, but I like dressing up and feeling good about the way I look because this makes me feel more confident in myself. It’s not about the clothes or the make-up or the dress or the shoes, it’s that feeling of confidence and that “Je Ne Sais Pas” the term the French call “An indefinable quality that makes something distinctive or attractive.” I don’t feel attractive anymore. Yes I am no longer a young, spring chicken. My body has given rise to two beautiful girls, and I am not going to use them as an excuse for not being in shape. I wasn’t in shape before I had them, and whilst pregnancy does take its toll on a woman’s body, one can get back into shape. I haven’t. And I guess I’m not alone when I chat to my friends, colleagues and family.

Take accountability I say to myself. I……. did……. this. But you guys know that age and gravity ain’t helping our cause here any either.

As hard as it is to say it, I will. As someone who hasn’t been overweight her whole life, I find it hard to accept myself the way I am now. The way I have been for a while. I’m overweight. I have extra flab literally everywhere and dare I say it, “FAT!!!!” in places that it shouldn’t be. There I said it. I am not afraid to call a spade a spade anymore. Neither do I wish to be thin. I feel unhealthy and I am not happy with the way I look and the way I feel, but most importantly, I don’t like the fact that I don’t have the energy levels to just play with my kids or run in the park. Leave the park or running, I can’t even get up a flight of stairs without huffing and puffing! And for me, that’s the most important reason why I want to do something about this. For myself first, and for my family , second, so that they can have the very best version of a wife and a mum. My kids deserve to have the Mum running, skipping, jumping and just “sucking the marrow out of life,” one of my favourite lines from Dead Poets Society.

The funny thing is that I know all this and it’s not like I haven’t tried before.  Trust me, I’m not sitting back and doing nothing. I’ve tried many things, many times. I start and I even finish sometimes and I get good results, losing 8-10 kilo’s. But then I regress, and I pile the weight back on again. Sound familiar ,right? I usually start my diets on a Monday, so I call it the “Monday diet” and nine out of ten times, the diet starts on Monday morning and ends on Monday evening. True story.  That’s why I feel like I’m on my way at day 11.

What I want is something that is sustainable. Something that isn’t a fad, and something that will be viable in the long run. And I want results. I want to see the efforts that I put in. So how does one do this?

I always remember my  Mum’s words when it comes to diet. “There is no miracle diet. The only way to lose weight is to eat right and exercise.” Simple enough right? But we all want a magic pill that’s going to make us a thinner version of ourselves. Truth is, that doesn’t exist. Anyone that has ever lost weight and kept it off, will tell you that it took hard work, it took dedication, it took sacrifice and saying no to things you love to eat. It took discipline and most of all it took consistency. You need to keep at it and not quit after you’ve fallen off the bandwagon after that piece of chocolate ganache cake. It’s not the end of the world; it’s the end of that day, so start again the next.

I know I am not alone in this.  I know you all know what I am talking about. I am a perfectionist in almost all aspects of my life, except this. I succeed in many areas of my life, except this. I focus and give attention to almost everything and everyone in my life except myself and this. Ask me to do basically anything and I will do my best to achieve it, but ask me to diet and eat healthy and my brain just shuts off. Why is that?? Why is eating right so hard?

It’s because everything is so damn tasty, that’s why. It’s because everywhere you go, there’s access to unhealthy foods as opposed to healthier options. It’s because it’s not always easy to prepare your own meals and pack your own lunch every day, and when you don’t you are left with minimal healthy options to choose from. But there are choices out there. It’s just easier to choose the options that are quicker and faster in this world we live in. Everything is instant.

I am a total foodie and that doesn’t help me any. I have a love affair with food, always have from the time I was a little girl. I love cooking, I have cooked from the time I was around 12 years old. I love experimenting with recipes, I love feeding people and entertaining. Everything that I do in my life revolves around food. That’s the bottom line. I can’t get away from it. And food that is tasty and scrumptious goes down far better than food that is bland and tasteless right? Like I am one of those people that can’t eat a rice cake without feeling like I am being punished for something. Don’t ask me to eat a salad as a main course. I am a starch person. Rice, with potatoes and meat and the salad is the side, not the main. And then of course, there’s dessert. My biggest weakness in life is crème brulee made from scratch with the perfect consistency and smoothness and the crystalised burnt sugar on the top. Okay, I will stop now as I am making myself want to eat that NOW!! You guys know what I am talking about , right?

And please this is not about anyone that is getting it right. Kudos and hats off to you because you are able to live this healthy lifestyle, one that I am aiming for myself. That is where I want to be. This is about how I bridge that gap from where I am now, to where I want to be.

So, after many years of trying all kinds of diets out there to taking diet pills that can suppress your appetite to slimming drops, I am done. I am so done. I have decided to try a new way of life eating plan. It’s not new, and it has been around for a while. But it seems like the most viable option for me after having done some research on it.

I will not be mentioning the name of this, but if it does work, I will be sharing it with you. You know what; I really don’t get how some people don’t share their tips on how to lose weight. Very few do. You meet someone who has lost a lot of weight and they are very vague on how they did it. Why do that? I am all about sharing knowledge. If I have achieved success with something, I want to share it. I want you to be able to do it too. We should be lifting each other up here. It’s not a competition people. We should all just be competing with ourselves. To be the best version of us. Not to be better than the next person.

So I could write on this subject for a long time. But I know my readers don’t have the time for long reads so, I am not going to go on for much longer. But I do know many women out there, like me, are not happy with something about their bodies. Some of us may be perfect to others, but to ourselves, we see a flaw. We need to stop that as well. Each of us have something special and we need to nurture that.

I realised that losing weight is more of a mind thing than a body thing. When I have had a bad day, I find myself wanting something tasty and comfy for dinner that night. Food is very much part of our emotional state and we need to start recognising when we are feeling like that and substituting it for something else, like going for a walk, or finishing that scrap book we started.

Let’s get something straight. This isn’t easy. If it was easy, we would all be at our goal weight. But on those days that I get my butt to gym, I see people over the age of 60 working out like beasts! I see people working it, like they are running a race with themselves. Its freaking awesome!! Getting to gym is the hard part, says me, but once you there isn’t it a-m-a-z-i-n-g!!

I created the excuse book on why I shouldn’t go to gym. Um, let’s see:

It’s too cold
I had a rough day at work
It’s my monthly cycle and I am not up to it
I don’t have anyone to train with
I feel fat when I go to gym because have you noticed that there are no fat people at the gym  (well that’s because they are all working out, duh)
I don’t have proper gym wear

I could go on.

To torture myself I have decided to embark on my eating plan in Winter. Yay. Not. What was I thinking? It’s freezing and all I want is a slice of warm crusty bread to dunk in my soup, andhere I am nibbling on a steamed broccoli floret. This is not my idea of a comfort food Winter but they say summer bodies are made in Winter right so I figure that if I can survive this change in my lifestyle in Winter then I can survive it for a long time to come.

And that’s my plan. I am in Day 10. It may only be ten days that I am going strong in one of the coldest Winters I’ve experienced in Johannesburg and I haven’t cheated.

 

So a colleague said to me that I should enjoy the eating plan I am on. I am not going to kid you or myself. I am not enjoying it. All I can smell in the hallways at the office at lunch time is deep fried potato chips. I can’t have a seed cracker and enjoy it. But whilst I am not enjoying it, I am not about to quit. It’s been just over a week and I have seen results already. Progress is always good. And that has motivated me to keep going.

I realised I am not going to call my fails a cheat. I’m also not going to be unrealistic enough to think that there will come a time that I might cave for something that I really want bad. And I am not going to fall off the wagon. And if I do, I am going to pick up and get going again. Life is going to happen on this journey of mine. And I will keep you all posted.

If you hear nothing, then perhaps I didn’t get it right and I will have to start all over but I have a feeling that I am onto something this time.

What I wanted to end with is that this article today is not about a diet, it’s about feeling comfortable with yourself in who you are. Being a better version of yourself however shape or form that may be. Improving something in your life that has been an area you’ve wanted to work on but just haven’t because hey life happened.

My message to you is that it’s never too late.

Wait, did someone say cake!! Just kidding. Keep on keeping on.

 

Growing pains

 

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Growing up in a fairly conservative Indian family home, I was not allowed to date until I reached a certain age , and certainly not whilst I was still in school.  My parents were very reluctant to send me out to school events because they’re need to ensure that I would be okay was always a priority.  Whenever the time would approach to attend an event , I would start with my Mum, as she was my go to person, and no surprise but the usual response would be “ask your father.”

Off I would go to explain to my Dad with my heart in my throat, that we were having a school dance and I wanted to go with my friends. Before I got there it would only take me like a week to even get the guts to approach him on the matter. He was not a difficult man, but he was strict and I guess, being the eldest child, didn’t make it any easier for me as this was a new concept to my parents when I became a teenager.

Like most teenagers I was also going through my, I’m-listening-to-Nirvana,dancing to Hypnotize-and my idol is River Phoenix phase.  When I finally did get to ask my Dad, he My would look at me somberly and say, “Ask your mum.” LOL, that didn’t get me very far.

Eventually, I would either persist and work on my Mum, basically nagged and walked around with a really long face until I eventually got my way, or I would get so tired of asking that I just wouldn’t go. I would try the “But all my friends are going!!” in my sarky temperamental teenage voice, and I would get my Mum’s usual anecdote, “Well if all of your friends jumped off a cliff, would you do the same?” Gosh, my Mum has a lot of anecdotes.  To this day, I still get them, as do my sisters. But in all honesty she has some gems and they never get old. (I’m taking notes to keep them for my girls lol)

My mother always gave me the standard line when I wanted to go out, ” It’s not that we don’t trust you, we don’t trust the people that are out there.” How many of us have heard that line before? And as a teenager it seems like a cop out. Now that I am a parent myself, I totally get this line. I understand it and I get it get. I didn’t back then.

The world has evolved over time, and what was once acceptable then is no longer the norm.

However, even back then my parents were overprotective. Again, now in retrospect, I don’t blame them.

The only stayovers I was allowed was with my relatives and wow, those were the best. We sometimes had 4 of us sleeping over in one bed, just laughing and telling stories of ghosts until we freaked ourselves out and couldn’t sleep! Ask any person of Indian origin about “Highway Shiela” and you will hear the stories.  I will never forget the incredibly fun times of staying over at my cousins places and them at mine.

I had also been very close friends with my neighbor and she and I did so many things together, from learning how to cook pizza – baked beans and tinfish, yes not very appetizing, but I said “learning to cook” LOL. We  had more luck with baking as we experimented with recipes

She lived opposite to me and every day after school she or I would be at each others houses. My parents only ever allowed me to sleep over at her place.

So a few weeks ago my 4 year old, asked me if she could have a playdate with a friend. And I said ofcourse, and I would try to arrange that. She then asked me if she could have a sleepover with her friend or if her friend could come over to sleep at our place. I stopped and I realized how much times have changed. How circumstances and situations around us have diminished the trust we have in the people around us, no matter how amicable that relationship might be.

I immediately felt apprehension. Firstly, I was thinking like, my darling you’re 4. Ask me again when you’re older. Then I thought, oh crap, don’t ask me again when you’re older, I think that will be far worse. Actually, don’t ask me again…… period.

My kid doesn’t have any immediate cousins as yet,  around us for her to have a sleepover with. Aside from the fact that I think she is too young, I am just not comfortable with sending her for a sleepover, unless it was with my sisters. I don’t know if I will ever be comfortable with that, and I wondered if it was just me? Am I being an overprotective parent or is this normal?

Times have changed right. But in doing so, it has made us so much more guarded. I was talking to a colleague recently about how contrived it was to have a “play date”. When I had my first child, I was introduced to this concept. It was a bit unusual for me to have to set up a date and time in a diary/calendar in which to allow a safe space for my child to play in.

I think its wonderful, but I realize that when I was younger, my play dates were with my neighbors, the kids I would meet up on my street, and my cousins. There was never a shortage of kids to play with. And here I am , in a life with hectic schedules for all working men and women, trying to find an hour to create a play time for my kid. And trust me it’s hard.

And I will do it. I will make the time, and I have done it. Because you know what? Neighbors don’t even speak to each other anymore. I mean, since when did that happen. Your neighbor used to be the one that would watch over your home, or your dogs, and even your kids when they came home from school and you did the very same in return.

When you joined a new area, your neighbors welcome you to the neighborhood and came with a milk tart or invited you over to braai/barbeque. I have one neighbor who is just awesome but if I can get so much as a “Hi'” from the rest of my neighbors that would be too much.

Have we lost our sense of community? Fair enough, to each his own. Some may just want to keep to themselves in their own space and I have no problem with that. I respect it. But to see your neighbor walk past you taking a stroll, and doesn’t even look in your direction, is that normal? I don’t think so.

We are raising two little babies, who will grow up to be two little girls, who will grow up to be two young teenagers and then two young women. I feel kinda sad that in time I may have to deny certain things they may want to attend. But as their parent, its my responsibility to protect them. I don’t know what the world will be like when they are ready to face it, little by little.   Hubby on the other hand, is like, let them go , I will take them to where they need to go at 9pm and pick them up at 11pm. I will wait in the car until they are done LOL. And he wasn’t kidding.

I don’t how and when we lost our ability to interact and socialize within our own communities. Or maybe be it’s not for a lack of ability but we have disconnected due to circumstances and social ills . And no one is to blame for that except for the perpetrators, yet the effect of those actions of a few cause a ripple effect that is far more impactful on our society at large. So much so that we close ourselves in our homes because that is all that we can do to protect those close to us.

We have been accustomed to this way of life and through conditioning over time learnt to withdraw.

I guess these are just the times we live in and we need to exist in the circles of trust we have built amongst those we trust implicitly, until such time that we are able to trust again. If that time will ever come.

 

 

Agility

forced perspective photography of cars running on road below smartphone
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I remember when I was a little girl, my Mum asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.

I recall that back then the choices were simple: Doctor, Teacher , Lawyer. Those were the top professions at the time.

I recall that I paused for a moment and gave it some thought. My Mum was expecting something great from me in terms of my answer and waited with baited breath.

Finally, I had my answer. Emphatically and happily I responded, ” When I grow up, I want to be a Mother. Just like you. ”

Well, needless to say, My Mum was not too happy with that.  I on the other hand, was pretty chuffed at my decision and I remember it making me feel really happy.

My Mum always encouraged myself and my sisters to reach for the greatest heights, and the way to achieve this was through education. I recall having books way before I could read. I would skim through the books, and pretend I knew the story and recite it from my knowledge of it, not because I was able to read it.

I instill the same practice of reading, with my own two girls. It is the key to a gateway of knowledge, fantasy, imagination and excitement! I read to my girls whilst they were still in my tummy and they had books in their hands from the time they could hold anything.

In my Mum’s mind, there was nothing wrong with being a Mum, but how would I generate an income to support myself from that? I think she wished for me to have greater aspirations, and there is nothing wrong in that , whatever shape or form or job that might be. To me , present day, there is nothing more important than being there for your kids, if you have the means and resources to do so, but if you don’t , you have to balance the fine art of being a career woman and a parent.

Going back to the aspects of the 3 professions. When we look at the world at present, there is an oyster of job opportunities in various fields of expertise. Jobs that had not even existed 20, 30, 40 years ago.

And the truth is that the roles that we are doing at present, may not, but will become irrelevant or redundant in the next 20 years! The pace of which the world and technology is moving, giving way to Artificial Intelligence, and streamlined efficiencies in terms of how we work, is evolving, rapidly and daily. That’s the reality we face.

So where does that leave us.

I think it has become increasingly important for us to stay relevant in our roles. It is crucial for us to innovate but most importantly it is important for us to be able to agile.

It is imperative to teach our kids to be agile. How many of us have studied a degree that we have never utilised in the jobs we have done?  Being able to be adaptable in this constantly changing environment is critical for us to remain relevant. The natural reaction for anyone is to oppose change. In business, in our personal lives, people tend to stick to what their know and revert to their comfort zones.

What we need to do is to be open to change. Open our minds to the possibilities that change will bring. People often resist immediately without consideration that a new way of doing things might be necessary to sustain a business, or innovate and change with the ever changing times.

I know it’s easier said than done. I have often had to push myself out of my own comfort zone and challenge and stretch myself personally and professionally and it’s easy to stick to what you know. But consider the possibilities of learning and growing  when you are faced with a new challenge instead of constantly doing things the same way and expecting different results. We all know what the definition of that is right?

But it is a must that we learn to be agile. We need to teach our kids to be agile for them to multi skill and be open to change so much so that it is second nature to them.

We need to equip them for this so that they have the tools and skills to be  able to deal with any setbacks they may experience in life. They will not become frazzled by change but they will embrace and flourish in it.

Some of us are set in our ways and may never step out of our comfort zones. But I believe that in doing so, that is the greatest way we learn and grow.

By stretching our minds and bodies to achieve greater heights , we can only grow on so many levels , physically, mentally and spiritually.

 

 

 

Toxicity

backlit dawn foggy friendship
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Thank you all for your overwhelming support and feedback regarding my last post about Club Feet. I hope that I have enlightened you on something that you may be able to share with someone else, for us to be well informed in general.

I started this blog in March and my aim has always been to share my story so that it resonates with people out there possibly in a similar situation. We all go through life experiences , some of us share it , some of us don’t, and to each his own.

I’m usually a very private person, so this is actually way out of my comfort zone. But I told myself that the more I stretch myself , the more I grow. And I don’t wish to be complacent, ever! I always want to be the best version of myself, for my family, for my friends, for people that I interact with.

As the years go by, I realize more and more how precious a commodity time has become for me, and more importantly , how and whom I choose to spend it on. I wasn’t always like that. I was always trying to accommodate everyone when I was younger, to the detriment of myself.

Now, I make time for those who make the time for me. Period.

I invest my time in those relationships. Now I believe friendship has always been a two way street and involves give and take. A mutual understanding, caring and respect on both sides. I found myself sometimes giving too much in a friendship, but when I needed a shoulder or just someone to listen, I didn’t get that. I didn’t get a call, text, what’s app just to ask me how I was doing. Yet I was that person that would always do that.

Ever had a conversation with someone and that person only talks about themselves? During that entire conversation, you don’t get asked how you are and how things are going with you? And then the person hangs up or has to go? Or you have a conversation with someone,  and you walk away feeling more drained by negativity?  My old self would just sit and listen, just to be a good friend. I don’t anymore. It was hard for me to walk away from that previously. Now I just withdraw. It’s not because I don’t care or I am not concerned. My high EQ levels wont allow me to even if I didn’t want to give a damn. It’s because I cant waste time.

Someone who wants to be mean and ugly on purpose or say something sarcastic and does it in a round about way, is just not on for me. And how many people do we know like this in our lives. And then when they make their sarcastic comment, I’m usually so thrown off that I don’t even have a come back. Because I am that naïve to some extent to assume that all people mean well.

People who drain you or make you feel worse about yourself instead of building you up, are what Oprah calls “Toxic”. And trust me, you don’t need that in your life.

I believe that some friendships are timeless. Your priorities change, your circumstances change, your lifestyle changes. You used to live in a studio apartment and now you’re living in a 3 bedroom home. You were dating, then married and now you have kids. You changed your car from that VW Citi golf to a BMW. You’ve had some really hectic times that you have had to go through as a family, but through all of this there are a handful of people still standing by you, years or a few years later. These people are your true friends.

They outlast time. They come to your house and chill with you when you cant go out late with the kids. They arrive early to help you set up for a party, they help you clean up once you’ve had lunch, they are there for you at all odd hours of the day and night. They are also the ones that no matter how much time has passed between your last catch up , you pick up your conversation and friendship exactly where you left off. It’s never awkward, its never uncomfortable. It’s always special.

In all my years in Corporate, I have always maintained that my work is priority and should I make a friend in the process, then that would be a bonus for me. I am lucky, blessed and fortunate enough to have made friends in various Companies I have worked in years ago, that I am proud to call my friends to this day. People that I still see over weekends and hang out with. People that I can just be myself with and know that they accept me the way I am.

This is because I don’t make friends easily. It requires trust, mutual respect and common ground. I am selective about who I want to be friends with, because when I do make a friend, it is for life. I take it seriously, and I guard and treasure my friendships.

When I moved from Primary to High School, I met a new group of friends. They attended another Primary school and I didn’t have this common ground that they did as they all already knew each other. Despite being the odd one out, I wanted to befriend them. And funny enough, I joined their circle of friendship. There were 8 of us.  I was 12 years old.

Over the years we have lost touch , but I remained in touch with a few of them. I then moved to Johannesburg and so did a few others. To this day, I am still in touch with all of them. We still meet up for lunch and coffee and catch up. They knew me when I was just a little girl, and I believe that I am the same person that I was back then, that I am now. Give or take a few kg’s more LOL! I love that no matter how far each of us has come, we are still the same girls we were.

I guess what my message is today, is that, with everything going on in your life, your friends are sometimes the ones that you lean the most. They guard your most precious secrets, they take care of you when you need it, they are there for you when you’ve had a break up and you need some red wine and tequila, and they are there to listen when you just need a friend. Guard those relationships and nurture them. Make it a two way street if its not. Appreciate them for who they are and what they mean to you.

People that are toxic, sarcastic and just downright mean shouldn’t take up space in your life. Getting to a point where you can walk away from that, isn’t easy, I know.

But if you soar with eagles my friends , won’t you fly?