Monday, September 28, 2015

A sight for sore eyes

One of the benefits of being an early riser is seeing beauty like this. Is it not a sight for sore eyes?

Practising gratitude in the morning can have a profound effect on the rest of your day. I don't mean mindlessly listing what you're thankful for, but feeling each thing deeply.
Sending positive energy out to the world is really uplifting. It works like a boomerang. What you send out will always come back to you.

If you're alive & reading this, you already have at least 10 things to say THANK YOU for.

Turn your stressing into a blessing.
Have a beautiful day! Love ❤


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Believe to Achieve

Text from my godmother:
"Don't forget to Believe"

Like we forget to breathe (deep inhales and exhales) we also forget to believe. It's all very well when we support our peers & in some cases - like me - become your student's number 1 cheerleader. It is also highly likely that you get unwavering support from your parents and teachers. I know I do.

But all of that is irrelevant if you don't believe in yourself. The starting point is within. It takes time to realize the truth in this, but as I told someone recently: No one else can start our inner fire, except ourselves.

Believing with your heart & soul, for whatever you want, is a sure step to creating magic!
Believe in your Life.
Believe in Yourself.
Believe in your Dreams.
Believe to Achieve!

Pic from archives (parent's garden)


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Chirping birds on a rainy morning

I don't know if it's because I live in a corner unit, but my balcony has recently become a pitstop for my feathered friends. They congregate on my balcony and if I approach the door, they fly away...leaving lovely little presents for me to clean up (unless the rain washes it away).

They really only stay for a few seconds, but sometimes I'm afraid they will fly into my room. Last year I had a pigeon fly through my lounge, sit on my fridge looking confused and then just leave!

I've been awake since early this morning & noticed the birds singing from 05:00 already. 🐤🎶

Anyway...this little guy has been sitting here for a good few minutes. Chatting away or calling its friends for company / shelter from the rain on my balcony railing.

I decided not to shoo it away. After all what's a little present that I can sweep or mop away?! As I look around, I'm surrounded by rooftops and tall apartment buildings. These little creatures bring nature alive into our concrete villages. Their little chirps are quite welcoming over the traffic and hooting. Good morning, friends! 🐦


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Praying Hands

These beautiful praying hands was a gift from my Godmother, given with the intention of ultimate protection.

Meditation & prayers of gratitude have seen me through valleys & dark nights. With all my heart, I believe we can always find something positive & good even in the worst of days. It takes time & effort, but the greatest realization is that we all have a choice: praise or criticize, love or hatred, forgive or grudge, happiness or sadness.

Good evening friends, near & far ♡

Friday, August 7, 2015

Let it go. And move on!

I heard a very interesting and inspirational message this morning about overcoming adversity.

Imagine you (accidently) put your hand in a some garbage. What will be your instinctive reaction? Surely you will shake it off and rush to the nearest tap to wash your hands with soap and water.

This is an example of how we should live our lives. Sometimes we will find ourselves in unfavourable situations with difficult people. Sometimes we're in the midst of anger, hurt, betrayal, rejection. The list goes on. Just like you wouldn't NOT wash your hands covered in garbage, you should shake the negativity off as soon as possible. Let it go and move on!

Easier said than done, I know!
But a nice reminder nonetheless :)

Jumah Mubarak ☆   الحمد لله

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The eve of my birthday...

As I write this, it is the eve of my birthday.
Like many others, I tend to take "life stock" every now and then. This, I have learned, can go either way. It either leaves me feeling empty and worthless or fulfilled and appreciative.
Hmmmm!
Glass: Half empty or half full?
Perspective!

While taking inventory of my life, I have noted that:
I am not living in Canada or America as I so wished since I was a teen.
I am not married to a 'desi' north American, living in a home with a white picket fence with two children playing in the garden. I do not have a social calendar filled with cocktail evenings or play dates for my children. I am also not the editor of a glossy magazine with an office on the 20th floor overlooking the concrete jungle of Toronto or New York. 

HOWEVER...

I have also noted that:
I am living in a country of my birth, colourful as a box of Smarties! Without ignoring our own share of hardships, I recognize that I live in relative peace. I enjoy electricity and the use of technology, internet which brings the world to my fingertips, clean water, wholesome food, plumbing with flushing toilets and being able to take hot showers - at any time of the day.

I am proud of my long list of mistakes, failures and heartaches. Looking back, when it seemed like it was Me vs The World, I now know, understand and appreciate that all those potholes of life were only preparing me to be the strong, independent woman my high school teachers were sure I'd become.

What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger?

But, what I hold the closest to my heart are my parents.
Two people of whom I am honoured to be a product of. A few weeks ago, I was filled with immense awe, admiration and appreciation of my parents' work, resilience and honour. Growing up, I always knew that I was fortunate, or as my friends would say, "lucky" and "spoiled". I choose to say "blessed". I've always known this but I don't know if it was perhaps maturity that made me see my parents in a different light.

From my earliest memory (and evidence from photographs), one thing is clear. My brother and I were always afforded the best of everything - education, stationery, toys, food, travel, gifts and...opportunities.

My parents were never demanding of anything. Never forcing us to take a certain path of education or career. Instead, they stood with us at the crossroads. They waited patiently for us to choose a path and watched us tread slowly into unknown territory. What I know now and I guess I've always known, is that they too, took the path with me...keeping just a step or two behind. If, for some reason, I lost my way or got lost, I knew I could turn around and there they would be! Without judgement, they would take my hand and lead me to light again.

For this, I drop to my knees and give thanks.

So...no, I am not spending my 32nd birthday the way I envisioned. I believe this is a lot more special. I am with my parents and brother. In the home I grew up in. Where I probably took my first steps, where I lost my first tooth - and put it under my bed in a shoe, only to go back and find a R2 note from the Tooth Fairy. The home where I lived my teen years, with walls plastered with my teenage heartthrob, Salman Khan. The home which had many family gatherings filled with food, love and laughter. The home I came back to for weekends and holidays from university. The home, which now in my adult life, has become my safe haven. A place I know I can always return to refresh and recuperate.

I am who I am because of my parents, brother, my uncles, aunties, cousins, relatives, friends...and who, in my opinion, is the best Godmother in the universe. I want you to know that I thank God everyday for each and every one of you.

I love you all so much.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Time

As I lie in bed, I try to focus on my breathing. Deep inhale and a strong exhale. I imagine my breath as light entering my body and healing me where needed.

In the distance I can hear the kitchen clock ticking away. Its sound reminds me of time passing by. Each second. Each minute. Each hour. Each day. It disappears. Never to return.

Time, like so many things in our life, is something we easily take for granted. How foolish we are to think we have a lot of time!

Truth is, the only time we are guaranteed is this absolute present moment. So why do we waste time stressing about what has happened? Why do we waste time on what may not ever happen?

When we "live" in the past or future, we are dismissing this moment.

Treasure it.
Before you know, it will be gone.
Just a memory.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

My 2015 highlight? A car accident which almost killed me. (Part Three)

My accident was...
... a wake up call
... a blessing
... the highlight of 2015

One might think this odd to call an accident that, but allow me to explain why.

I realized that life can be over in half a second. (no exaggeration) Because of this chilling fact, I had to get a few things in order. In other words, I took it upon myself to do some "life admin".

Let me break it down.

I decided that I want to live a life of no regrets. This includes mending broken relationships. How to do this? By being kind. What seems like a simple gesture, is indeed life-changing.

After I decided that I needed to be kinder to more people, I realized something else, which is on the other end of the spectrum.

I had to stand up for myself. Even if this meant being a little harsh.

As the saying goes, "Be firm, but fair."

Standing up for myself meant change. I had to alter some things in my life in order to regain my own power.

You know, when more than 2 people tell you that you have changed, you're bound to start believing it. In my case, at least 5 people told me that I looked and sounded different. I looked sad and didn't sound as energetic and bubbly as I used to be.

My accident taught me to listen to my inner voice. My gut. I re-examined my personal and career goals and decided that something had to give. 

I resigned from a practically new work venture. It was hard, but necessary. How did I know that? Because it just felt right.
A month later after taking that difficult decision, I feel a lot lighter and free!
And guess what? I don't have a single regret.

I have spent the past three weeks in my hometown, East London. Realizing that time is ever so precious, I have used my time off to do many things:

Reconnect. Refresh. Rewire. Restart.

I maintain that my car accident was a blessing in disguise. It has forced me look at the world with new eyes. Eyes that are filled with even more love and appreciation. I will never stop giving thanks for the fact that my life (and my mum and aunts) were spared and that we didn't have serious injuries.

I'm ready for what life has in store for me. In my dad's words, "It's time to rock and roll."

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Kindness

Kindness....

It is something which is often underrated & can be expressed in different forms.
A kind word.
A kind gesture.

It may mean something so small and perhaps insignificant to the giver, but to the receiver, it could be life-changing.

Being kind means caring deeply for those around you. It is being loyal & helpful, without expecting to gain from your actions.

It is not putting up a facade to those around you...pretending to like or care for your peers. This falseness eventually catches up & you may end up exposed, baring your true colours.

We all make mistakes in life. Mistakes can lead to regret, anger and possibly self-loathing.
This is wrong.
Be kind to yourself.
You're only human.

Life would be meaningless if it weren't for all these potholes. Its purpose? To test our patience & resilience.

...and then be kind to those who did you wrong. Our path crossings are inevitable & those who have hurt us in any way need to be treated with [genuine] kindess.

I have learned that kindess is the best form of forgiveness.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

My 2015 highlight? A car accident which almost killed me. (Part Two)

I'm so grateful to my friends who prove to be more like family in times like these. They meet us as the hospital, take us out for lunch and to pick up medication before dropping mum and I off at home. These friends make living away from my own family bearable.

It's about five hours after the accident and mum and I are back home. We are sitting on the couch in silence. I haven't even opened my windows - which is the first thing I usually do when I get home. We are reeling from the past few hours. Mum doesn't say much, but she busies herself with the necessary admin that comes with such unfortunate events.

The sun sets over Sea Point, making my apartment dark and cold. As I take a hot shower and prepare for bed, I can't stop the movie playing over and over in my mind. It's black and white. Slow motion. The white car zigzagging downhill not knowing that it's going to hit me.

Crash!

...and it repeats.

I talk to my cousin who says something so profound that it brings me to tears.

"God has a lot more for you to do."

I say my prayers of gratitude and fall asleep.

The following morning, I am in a lot of pain. All over.

When I take a shower I catch a glimpse in the mirror. Half of my left breast is bruised. I find another bruise below my navel and another one across my thigh. I am grateful for these bruises as they remind me of the importance of a seatbelt and how it saved my life.

It's hard to believe what happened. The other driver told the cops that he was changing lanes and lost control of his vehicle, causing him to crash into me.

I refuse to spend time moping at home so mum and I take a bus (my first time) to the Waterfront. It's Sunday and I'm sure it will be busy, but I feel like I need to be outdoors and walking. However, I find that I am slow in movement and I am in pain everywhere.

I don't know why exactly, but I become emotional. Mum tells me that it's a normal reaction and she comforts me. I walk around the Waterfront, but tears stream down my cheeks as if uncontrollably.

Again, I say my prayers of gratitude that my mother is with me.

----------
My hired car arrives on Monday and in every phone call my dad encourages me to drive. He reminds me of the knocks I've taken in life and that this is something I can overcome in no time. I hope he knows how much his encouragement means to me.

When it's time for me to actually take to the wheel again, I drive on 20km and am weary of every single oncoming car. My heart races, but I don't show my mum that I'm nervous.

----------
I have the week off from work and I spend my days taking it easy and go for treatment. I decide to travel to East London with mum on Thursday and spend the long weekend at home. The pain in my body increases and my emotional state is that of a roller coaster.

I feel the need to be with my parents and the thought of being alone in my Cape Town apartment leaves me with a hollow feeling. I have no choice, but to return to the Mother City. I have to go back to work. I'm not entirely excited about returning, but I have no choice. Or do I?

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

My 2015 highlight? A car accident which almost killed me. (Part One)

It's 11am on a cool Saturday, 2nd of May.

I'm going to one of my favourite spots in Cape Town: Hout Bay. Mum is in the passenger seat. Aunt from Johannesburg is in the back seat. I've just picked aunt up from Brackenfell and I spontaneously decide to take Kloofnek Road. I want to show aunt the gorgeous view of Camps Bay. You know which one - that stretch that makes you feel like you're on top of the world.

I love it up there, but I seldom take this route. Today is an exception.

"Your ears are going to pop, masi (aunty)" I say as my little red Hyundai i10 follows the winding uphill road. I am aware of my speed (about 40km) and I am aware of the red tour bus behind me.

In mid sentence, my mum shouts out something. It looks like a slow motion movie.

From the corner of my eye, I see a white car zigzagging towards me. It is as if in slow motion.

I can't do anything.
I can't swerve.
I can't accelerate.
I can't brake.

I hear the loudest bang ever.

And within half a second, I have experienced my first car accident.

-------------
I look to my mother and my aunt. We are alive. It takes me a moment to register what has just happened.

A man comes to my door which I can barely open. I see wires, nuts, bolts and...a wheel lying on the road.

I realize that the wheel belongs to the car that hit me. It hit me so hard that the vehicle spun and turned in the opposite direction.

The police and paramedics are there within five to ten minutes. I ask if the other driver is ok. They tell me he is. I can't really make him out in the crowd of people until we are both giving our statements to the cops. There is a lot of traffic and some people slow down to look at the commotion. I am amazed there is no shattered glass on the road.

I avoid looking at my little red baby. Her front right is crushed. I can barely recognize her from the front. I notice that the other vehicle hit me merely inches away from my door.

By the grace of all Gods, my legs are not broken and I don't have a spot of blood on my body.

I think I am in complete shock. More than anything I am taken aback by my mother.

She has gone into autopilot. She's asking me for phone numbers and already trying to organise a hired car for the weekend. We have to to go a wedding in Stellenbosch tomorrow. That is, after all, the reason my mum and aunt are in Cape Town.

This is all so surreal.

The paramedics attend to my aunt. She has a gush on her forehead, but is concious. They insist she has a full check up and they take her away on a stretcher. I feel like I'm having an out of body experience.

My mind races.
Should I call my dad and brother?
Not yet.

Too many people are trying to talk to me at the same time...the paramedics, my mother, the cops, the towing people.

It's time to leave the scene of the accident. The paramedic hurries me up saying that my vehicle is causing congestion and needs to be towed away.

I don't have enough time to pack everything from my car. I'm assured that my belongings will be safe.

No one tells me that this may be the last time I ever see my car again.

We have to travel in an ambulance to MediClinic where mum and I will be seen to. Aunt will be taken to another hospital.

While we wait for a doctor, I call my dad and brother. They have no idea bout the severity of the accident, but I hear the panic in their voice rise when I tell them we are at the hospital. I try my best to sound upbeat, but inside I am quivering.

My mum and I look at each other and we just embrace each other. We don't speak. I feel like I just want to hold her and kiss her face. It seems unreal what has happened in the past two hours. I say a billion prayers of gratitude for saving our lives.

I don't feel pain, except a burning sensation in my chest. I'm sure it's from the seatbelt that saved our lives.

I feel like I want to cry.
But I can't.
The tears are lodged somewhere in my throat.

The doctor gives me painkillers and sends me for X rays upstairs. I call my friends, who tell me they will be there as soon as possible.

I'm wheeled away in a wheelchair and I feel myself falling asleep. Perhaps the medication is making me drowsy.

I'm probably going to wake up from this dream any moment now.

This is a dream, isn't it?

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Thanking my angels...

Good morning, friends
Please consider this as a serious PSA.

I felt blessed & honoured to have my mum & great aunt with me in Cape Town this weekend. I wanted to pamper & do as much as I could with them. But as we know, higher powers tend to overrun our plans.

Yesterday I experienced my first car accident.
My mum, aunty & I are all FINE...الحمد لله

Needless to say it was terrifying.

I was going uphill on Kloofnek Road when a driver coming downhill lost control & hit my car. Mum & I saw it happening before our eyes..like a movie in slow motion. The impact was hard and we are just a bit bruised and sore, but ok.

I am trying not to think of all the "could, would, should haves" but rather focus on the most important - Our lives that were saved.

I am sharing this story for others to please practice safety & precaution on the road at ALL times. My parents have always said that we need to think for other drivers. Be aware of all vehicles around you and take note of how they are driving. Maintain a safe driving distance & keep to the speed limit. Wearing a seat belt goes without saying.

Such things are sometimes unavoidable, but we are giving many THANKS to be safe. THANK YOU to ALL my angels ♡

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Korean Mama

I always say that when I left South Korea five years ago, I left a part of my heart there.

After work today, I planned to go home and make soup for dinner. But I found myself parked outside my favourite Korean restaurant. It would be my first solo Korean meal, but I'm proud to say that I know my way around Korean cuisine - as long as it's all veg!

The place is owned by a Korean couple - the lovely lady in the pic is affectionately known to me as "Mama".

At first I was hesitant to dine alone, but I  was greeted so warmly. Truth be told, a meal in Mama's restaurant is like eating in a mum's kitchen. She hovers around making sure everything is ok. And today...I was without my dinner partners, no translators - real life / digital!

Mama's English is far better than my Korean, but today we were armed with notepaper and a pen! You can't believe that Mama sat with me throughout my meal. We spoke about so much - current news, movies, religion, life away from family...

Once again, it is proven that age, religion & language barriers can be broken!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

We've all been here...

It's like someone
stands on my chest
with her high heels
poking through
my flesh and bones.

My throat closes up
and I can't breathe.

Tears well up,
but they don't fall.

If they do,
Everyone will know.

Everyone will know
that my smile is a facade.

Everyone will know
that my heart is shattered.

Everyone will know
my secret.

I should be happy.
I'm alive.
I have everything
I could possibly need.
I'm short of nothing.

But inside,
I'm dying
a slow, painful death.

It's like fire
raging through my veins.

Somebody make it stop.
Stop.

I'm drowning.
The ocean floor is near.

Help me, please.
Help me.
Help.

I need to smile again.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Messages from Mother Nature

Today I felt like a higher power spoke to me. In the form of this rainbow.

"There is light at the end of the tunnel," said my mother. And when I told mum about the rainbow, she said: "...and there's probably a pot of gold at the end of it!" (maybe?)

As cliché as these sayings are, they do ring true. "Nothing very good or very bad lasts for very long."

Rainbows prove this! ♡

Thank you
Shukran
Teşekkür ederim
Obrigada
Merci

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Respect begets respect

Interesting discussion with a student about how I, as a teacher, am addressed.

Some students (aged 17 to 70+) ask what I prefer being called. Believe me, I have heard everything from "Teacher, Sheetal, Shatoola, Teacher Sheetal, Miss Sheetal, Mum, Aunty, My Sister, My Teacher...even Teach!"

(By the way, my heart melts with these terms of endearment)

My dear student went on to say that in his culture, it is unheard of to call the one who imparts knowledge by their first name.

I can relate & still call my own teachers by saying Mrs, Mr & even "Mevrou" ;)

Respect goes a VERY long way & I believe it is the root of everything in life. Respect for yourself, your parents, your teachers...and everyone around you.

For me, it's not so much about what I am called, but how I am treated.

"Respect begets respect."

Monday, April 6, 2015

The heart knows no distance...

Today was Family Day in South Africa. Also known as Easter Monday, it's the last day of the (long) Easter weekend.

I was fortunate to spend time with my family in my hometown & for reasons unknown to me, I was ...and am still... feeling a bit nostalgic.

We have become so busy being busy that we don't have the time to write a letter (email?) or make a call (voice note?) to our family & friends.

Time hasn't changed at all. We have. We are occupied and stressed by life's everyday events. What remains most special are the people who we can just pick up from where ever we left off.

Whether it's been months or years...those are the relationships that truly matter. I am lucky to have these people in my life. That when I see them, it honestly feels like no time has passed.

So what I'm trying to say is...

There are some circumstances beyond our control. One of them is distance. People close to me have moved away. Far away. With oceans between us.

If the relationship is solid, I belive that the heart knows no distance!

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