Escaping from it all

A spur of the moment decision, it was just around mid-day when I decided to pursue the long overdue visit to Banana Island. With a few simple phone calls, all was confirmed. Driving to the terminal with nothing else but the clothes on my body, I called my best friend, my confidant, my partner to collect a few belongings and head over to Banana Island and meet me, for a much-needed reconnecting staycation on the island.

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As I sat at the terminal’s VIP lounge thinking when was the last time I had acted so impulsively, I suddenly felt the excitement – at the prospect of spending quality time, enjoying nature, long walks on the beach, the catchups, late breakfast – and, it all became so real.

On arrival at the island, I was greeted by the traditional sound of the drums; I stood for a few minutes taking in the sight and sounds.

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At the welcome desk, Abdul welcomed me. Check-in was seamless and soon enough, I was on my way to our room. Abdul assured me that he would facilitate my husband’s arrival.

Soon after settling in, I was taken on a tour of the island to familiarize with the awesome facilities available in the island.

No sooner, I was taken to the spa, for our first ever “couple’s massage”.

Husband: At this time of the year, it was just perfect timing to board the boat from Doha at 5 pm.  The 30 minutes boat ride meant that as I reached the island, the sun was just about to set.  And what a sight to behold!  The spectrum of the colours of the sunset reminded me of the colours of the rainbow. And, like the proverbial “pot of gold at the end of the rainbow”, our stay on the island, was simply, fabulous, to say the least.

I arrived late, having had to go for an appointment that I could not afford to miss, thereafter rushing home to collect some of our belongings as per my wife’s request. As I arrived at the Welcome Centre on the island, I was warmly greeted and quickly whizzed by Abdul, a South African who had been working on the island for the last 2 years, towards the Spa where we had booked a “Couple’s Massage”. “

We have both gone for massages before, but this was a completely different experience, having my significant other just next to me undergoing the same treatment. The room’s lighting and Zen music in the background, set the mood and the tone.  It was calming and soothing. And, before you know it, we were simply relaxing having our tensed muscles being relieved and the frenzied pace of the past weeks, slowly but surely going away with every smooth stroke being applied by the well-trained masseuse.  As in life, however, time passes by very quickly when you are enjoying something.  And so, what was supposed to be a 2-hour session seemed to be over in minutes.

While waiting for the golf buggy to take us back to our room, we were greeted by Jessica, the Spa Manager who had been on the island for just over 6 months.  She was explaining to us the variety of massages they offer (I guess, that is part of her job) and before you know it, I was signing up for the “Royal Moroccan Hammam” experience (one more off my bucket list). More of that later.

Back in our room, and what a pleasant surprise.  Obviously, the housekeeping team has been briefed of our arrival and went out of their way to decorate the room and displaying their creativity.

As for the room itself, it was very spacious; they even had the bathtub in the room for guests to soak themselves in while looking over the balcony and the sea.  The shower facilities with a rain shower was exceptional.  My only wish was that the water pressure was stronger, and it would have been perfect to get the real rain shower feeling.

After a bit of rest, we went for dinner at Al Nahham Restaurant.  The mezze platters were great especially the Muhammara and Khebez (Lebanese bread) were fresh and warm.  Suffice to say, I could just survive on the bread and mezze platters alone. In any case, we had ordered main courses and were certainly, not disappointed as well.

The staff were very attentive, ensuring our dining experience would be well remembered.

We made our way back to our room, a leisurely walk through the gardens after our indulgence during dinner.

Husband: The next morning, we woke up feeling calm and relaxed. We sat for a while on the balcony, catching up, taking in the view, the cool weather with a slight breeze provided the perfect elements to start our day.

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We then headed to Azraq Restaurant for breakfast.  They had a great selection and we were spoilt for choice.  After last night’s dinner, however, we could not do justice to the sumptuous offerings.


We opted for the outdoor seating, watching the birds helping themselves to whatever was available as guests left something behind for them.

After breakfast, we went on a Pontoon Boat ride and toured some parts of the island.  Unfortunately, the wind picked up speed, and we could not go around the whole island.  Regardless, it was an enjoyable tour with great company as little Sophie, shared more information about the island.

I headed back to the spa for my very first Royal Moroccan Hammam experience. Inspired by an ancient but integral part of Moroccan life, I was seated on a hot marble table, while the masseuse patiently explained to me about the processes involved and the products being used.

I was then shown to this beautifully created bath, where I soaked for a few minutes whilst beams of sunlight filtered through the glass ceiling.

After being doused with water, she covered my body with traditional black soap and scrubbed with a kesse mitt to sweep away dead skin cells, before I was gently cocooned in a ghassoul wrap infused with rose water, then whisked away to an overwater treatment room for a pampering back massage.

Techiques used:

  • Exfoliate:  Kessa glove scrub technique
  • Massage: Effleurage, Friction, Wringing
  • Benefits & Effect:

–        Deep cleansing the body
–        Renewal the cell regeneration
–        Release the muscle tension
–        Detoxification

It was a good hour and half well spent, being pampered from head to toe and worth every Riyal.

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Such a rejuvenating and unique experience.

And then, it was time for a light lunch at Q-Lounge, a nice pool-side restaurant just off the beach.

After a relatively short lunch, we decided to take a leisurely walk along the beach towards the jetty as it was time to go home.

How the time passes by so quickly when you are having fun, I really don’t know.  It just seemed like I was on a non-stop, whirlwind experiential trip, doing one thing after another. No regrets though, for a visit that left us both feeling relaxed and rejuvenated But, I know now that the next time I go to Banana Island, I would plan for more than just an overnight trip.  I did not manage any of the water sport activities or the golf putting course or even try my hand at scuba diving!

Banana Island, we will be back!
For more information on Banana Island Resort,
please click https://www.anantara.com/en/banana-island-doha 
For all their offers https://www.anantara.com/en/banana-island-doha/offers
Follow @bananaislandresort

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May his heart be your shelter and his arms your home….

just a little over 2 weeks ago, I entered a new phase in my life. I am officially  someone’s mother-in-law, for the first time, as my youngest son married the love of his life.

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In spite of living in different continents, in my attempts to jointly organize the wedding, from the hall to the caterer, the menu to the wedding favors, the shopping for a dress that fits and finding the right pair of shoes, alhamdulillah (thanks to God), it was all smooth sailing.

 

 

As the day drew closer, thoughts about my mother and my sister were constantly with me, the fact that they were not going to be present to witness and share this special day.

How I wish that my mother had been with us, to guide and support me, the advice, the long chats, her smile reassuring me that it is all going to be just fine, her wise words of advice to my son as she would lovingly smile at him, my sister’s unconditional love, her gentle and kind nature; without a doubt they were missed, they were such a big part of his life, now a young man taking this enormous step in his life.

It is milestones like this that makes us appreciate what we have in our lives, yet remembering the losses we have experienced.  They say that time is a great healer, but it hasn’t gotten any easier nor does it take away the sadness or loss.

Suffice to say that the support from my husband, my father, my brother, my children and my extended family saw me through the challenge of trying to organize a wedding from thousands of kilometers away.

It was a small and intimate affair.  Welcoming the young lady  into our family was such a pleasure, the look in my son’s eyes, said it all, I am grateful for the way she makes him feel so happy.

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“To Waseem,

My Bebézinho, the youngest of my 3 beautiful children, always smiling, very personable and charming young man.

Where do I begin?  how does one sum up the years ?

A lifetime that’s unfolded before me and one I’ve had the honor to be a part of and will forever cherish.

I’ve been trying to write this for the last 2 months but every time I try to type this little note,  I start crying and have to put it down.  But today, on your wedding day, the tears will just have to flow as I type….

Despite my very flawed parenting abilities, you’ve turned into a pretty awesome young man.  Saying that I am experiencing mixed emotions would be an understatement, sadness and joy, sadness as one of my greatest roles in life shifts gear – yes mothering you! as a mum I am expected to work myself out of my “mothering” role, a tough one indeed, yet as I watch you become the husband to a wonderful young lady, I am consumed with joy as you move on to start your own family,

My hope is that you never grow tired of hearing me say “do come and visit me”, “I miss you” or “I love you”  for when I say these to you they speak volumes and I mean it…

To this day, I can close my eyes and see you sitting on the living room floor with all your Legos and your gongs (marbles) scattered around. Indeed “I love you” comes with a flood of wonderful memories and there is nothing you can do about the fact that I love you and always will, I will never stop being your mother, yet today I open my eyes to see  – a young man I’m so proud of and extremely happy for.

Waseem, my sweet Bébé, this girl you’ve picked… I cannot think of anyone who could be more perfect for you, indeed Allah (SWT) is the best of planners.

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In the brief encounters that I had the pleasure of connecting with Yumna, she seems to have a personality that compliments yours. Inshaallah, your common personality traits will help contribute towards lasting happiness in your marriage.

My advice to you:
Above all remember Allah (SWT) and always be grateful.

Don’t let anyone tell you that Marriage is 50/50. It most certainly is not! You have to give 100% to your marriage and that’s a tall order. My Bébé, rest-assured it is not a job to take lightly as it requires a lot from you, such as:

. Sacrifice
. Grace
. Gentleness
. Compassion
. Comfort
. Compromise

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My prayer for you both is that Allah (SWT) blesses your marriage, a marriage that will last a lifetime, filled with love, joy, compassion, understanding, trust, hope, health, wealth all wrapped in HIS mercy and light, always guiding and protecting you and your family.
I also pray that Allah (SWT) makes it easy for you to go through the trials and tribulations of married life and that you are blessed with beautiful children, full of piety and respectful, who will make you as happy as you have made me.

 

It would be remiss of me not to thank all my family members who have extended a helping hand in one way or another, towards making this joyous occasion.
Once again, Yumna, sweetheart, welcome to the family and to everyone else who made the effort to join us in celebrating Waseem’s and Yumna’s wedding.

WASEEM, LIFE CHANGES FROM THIS MOMENT ON….
Your Mama”

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Have you had a similar experience? if so how, how did you handle it?

Please do share your experiences with me as I would love to read about it.

Look out for my next post on how I co-planned this wedding, whilst living  continents apart….

Re-connecting

It has been a while since I shared my thoughts or experiences on my page, it has been a busy time for me and my family.

 

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I know that 3 weeks have passed since Ramadan ended, however, I still chose to share my thoughts and feelings about Ramadan, most certainly my favourite time of the year; as we go through our usual emotional preparation, using this time to realign, reflect and re-evaluate our personal growth, understanding our own weaknesses and fears, addressing misunderstandings with grace and dignity, evaluating the challenges that we faced and what we learned from them, and everything around us.

As muslims, during the month long observance of Ramadaan,  we fast from sunrise to sunset, 30 days and nil by mouth, not even water, from sunrise to sunset.

This is an incredibly positive time in our lives, an experience that enables our personal spiritual healing and physical well-being as well as everything around us, a time to remind ourselves to be kind to ourselves and others, making the most of everyday; a time of cleansing and self-control, and how we nourish our bodies during this time is central to it.

It is during this time that we also partake in Zakaat (charity based on portion of one’s accumulated wealth) which goes to those facing challenging times, a form of compensation or mandatory “give back” if you will, a mechanism to alleviate poverty; an accountability for our communities.

I love the fact that Ramadaan serves as a reminder that we are part of the Ummah (Arabic: أمة‎ [ˈʊm.mæ]) an Arabic word meaning “community”, a global community.

Ramadan brings family and communities together through the power of faith and prayer.

Unlike in South Africa, in Qatar, we are very fortunate to work reduced hours, (mine in particular, was from 9am-2pm, leaving me with ample time to rest, pray and prepare for Iftar (breaking the fast)

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The entire city comes to life in the evenings,  For a few minutes as the sun sets, there is a pleasing sense of calm before the sound of the cannon and soon after, the Adhaan (call to prayer) streaming out of mosques, with hands raised we pray with the most heartfelt sincerity in the hope that our fast and efforts have been accepted. We then break our fast with dates and water (dates have been traditionally eaten to break the fast because they serve as a good source of natural sugar, fiber, energy, and essential minerals, and the importance of water and hydration requires no further introduction;) according to the Hadith, (“News” or “Story”, also spelled Hadīt, record of the traditions or sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), revered and received as a major source of religious law and moral guidance, second only to the authority of the Qurʾān, the holy book of Islam or the written collection of the traditions of Prophet Muhammad(ﷺ), the Prophet(ﷺ) encouraged breaking the fast with dates and water because of their nutritional value.)

My Fatoor/Iftar menu has certainly changed, a far cry from all sorts of savouries, fried and baked, not to mention the sugar overdose, with an hour and half of total inability to move my limbs; from a food coma to simpler healthier meals and the credit for this goes to my better half.  A great time to remind myself to slow down, not overdo it and appreciate and nurture my body.

For me, this year was particularly emotional, still trying to come to grips with my greatest loss in 2015, my best friend, my confidant, my mother (Ayesha), how I miss her…

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Ramadan 2017, I suffered further losses, my sister (Nádia),  my Uncle Mohammed and Mohammed Yussuf (my housekeeper’s son) at the tender age of 15, Allah knows best (الله اعلم). Trying to accept the losses, remaining grateful and finding solace in my conversations with Allah, while planning  my son’s wedding scheduled for the Friday after Eid-ul-Fitr  (more about this in my next post),

 

How was your Ramadan?

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Happy Birthday Mum!

The first heartbeat I heard was yours
the first arms to hold me
The first one to show me love
The first one to teach me lessons in life
The first to hold me when I took my first steps
The first one to show me acceptance
The first one to comfort me when I needed most
The first one I called to share my news, good or bad
The first one to guide me through my struggles and my pain
The first one I think of when making decisions, big or small

Because I have always had a mother!

I miss you more than I could ever express,
The pain I feel in my heart is from one unimaginable day,
Now, afraid of life, my footsteps now on an unsure path
how I wish you could have stayed just a little while longer

My Mother, my voice of reason, my supporter, my teacher, my best friend,
My confidant, my nerve calmer, my problem solver, my peacekeeper, my chef,
my psychologist, my shoulder, my sunshine.
I dream of the day when we are reunited once again!

So today on your birthday, if you can hear me or feel me, I say:
You’re  loved and dearly missed without a doubt.

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Styling on at 55

Just because someone, somewhere, decided on an age-appropriate dressing concept without your consent,don’t allow someone else’s notion of taste inhibit your own taste. Conditioning you to think that the older you get the more conservative you have to dress robbing you of your creativity; dictating that colour and vibrancy no longer form part of your interest and suggesting that appropriateness, restraint and formality should now be your objective.

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Clothing and shoes : https://www.facebook.com/PerLeiCouture.pearl/
Photography: https://withalittlegracephotography.pixieset.com/

 

At 55, I cannot fathom why this restrictive concept of age-appropriate dressing was given the nod, I for once, believe that the older you get, the more bold and playful you should become in your dress, having paid your dues you have earned the right to dress boldly and to value comfort over fashion, so don’t allow society to define you., having said that, I am not suggesting that we become distasteful, tacky;  no, on the contrary, let’s add  some fun and creativity to our own style, be willing to take risks but know your limits.

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Clothing and shoes : https://www.facebook.com/PerLeiCouture.pearl/
Photography: https://withalittlegracephotography.pixieset.com/

 

With some high street fashion stores showcasing new collections every fortnight, online flash sales, mobile apps and home deliveries, stylish clothing has never been more readily available, dare I say that multitude of options might leave you feeling slightly overwhelmed when it comes to decision making, but worry no more, chances are that you fall into one of the following 3 categories, so I propose 3 different styles which might help to reinvigorate your closet.

Bohemian

Chunky knits, distressed jeans, artfully structured dresses, embroidered caftans, turquoise chunky jewelry, leather bag and fun pair of espadrilles makes for an easy and comfortable not necessarily sloppy look is the epitome of boho chic.

 

This style is great for people over 50 as it is more forgiving than the sophisticated style, the lose cut provides comfort, the signature hand-stitched tote and a pashmina or shawl  instead of a structured coat.

Eccentric

Despite their small numbers, Eccentrics are the kind of people whose entire existence is devoted to individuality and innovation, making our world a more interesting place by challenging our preconceived notions of  beauty and taste while inspiring us all to step outside our comfort zone raising the bar on the impossible.

 

Sophisticated

Feminine and appealing, it is all about glamour sometimes bordering on allure.

 

Good fit and simplicity are the key to this style. The love for a well tailored jacket and accessories.  An unapologetic shoe addict with an obsession for handbags and impeccably groomed make up the signature of the sophisticated, always alluding to happiness, prosperity and optimism

I know that somedays all this sounds too much effort and we would much rather potter around the house, growing organic veggies or create art instead of running around makeup counters, paging through fashion magazines or retail store apps, so we opt for the boho chic style and on others days we feel inspired to express ourselves in a different way , getting all groomed up with immaculately well groomed nails and shoes on point but on the odd occasion we may feel the urge to make a statement by being somewhat eccentric in our taste, the point is that none of these are right or wrong, the most important while adjusting or up-cycling your style with creativity is to have fun and never forgetting to love the girl in the mirror.

 

 

 

 

At times you might feel that your very own style is at the far spectrum of others and that is perfectly acceptable because that is you, remember that you are beautiful, smart,wise, funny and kind.

“Ultimately great style s kindness, kindness to oneself and kindness to others” – Dee

Share your favourite fashion style and I will feature it on my blog

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Clothing and shoes : https://www.facebook.com/PerLeiCouture.pearl/

Photography: https://withalittlegracephotography.pixieset.com/

 

The reality of turning 55….

Oh so many changes, changes everywhere, understanding and accepting that at 50 you will never look 30 again.

Our face shape changes leaving many of us to discover our cheekbones for the first time in our 50’s, our skin starts to dry out, with it the growth of crow’s feet, giving us that washed out look, so our beauty routine has to be well thought through.

Moisturise, moisturise, moisturize daily

Try using organic olive oil at night as a substitute for your regular moisturizer. Apply a teaspoon of the oil to the face and neck.

Use light reflecting tinted moisturizers, take care not to go too pale,  a little foundation mixed with your moisturizer can provide you more coverage.

Makeup – avoid the bright colours preferably matte shades in neutral tones like taupe, stay clear from the shimmering stuff as these will give your lines more prominence – smokey eyes with pale lipstick is a very flattering palette on older women.

A bronzer will give any over 50s face a more youthful glow – choose one only two shades darker than your natural face colour and use it sparingly.

Use an angled eyebrow brush and dark powder make-up alternatively a shade lighter than your natural eyebrows, to thicken your brows, but don’t be tempted to get thick, black slugs tattooed on your forehead.

Oestrogen levels fall, leaving women with sprouting whiskers. Electrolysis is a permanent solution is pricey and leaves scabs in the short-term, you may wish to consider threading instead while some women swear by facial epilators.

Take care of your smile

 Your upper lip loses fullness, so use a neutral lip pencil to define your lips, soften the Cupid’s bow and prevent lip bleed. Steer clear from lip fillers

Regular dental check-ups are essential because your teeth enamel thins as you age. Also, the mouth is one of those areas where all sorts of serious medical problems can reveal themselves.

Getting your teeth whitened will knock years off. Aim for a natural finish by a professional

Look after your hands

No matter how young your body looks, your hands will always betray your age. Just keep your hands well moisturized and nails clean, and neatly square-oval shaped.

Olive oil is rich in vitamins and antioxidant. Those two substances are essential for revitalizing and invigorate your skin. That’s because vitamins A, B-1, B-2, C, D, E, K and iron that are contained in olive oil can make the skin smooth, elastic and healthy. The antioxidant itself can eliminate the free radicals that are responsible for dry and dull skin. It is understandable why people from Mediterranean called this oil as beauty oil. Olive oil contains a fatty acid. When the body’s cell incorporate with that, it will make the arteries supple and as a result, skin looks more lustrous. It is best to use the Extra Virgin olive oil for the best result.

Look after your locks

Grey hair feels coarser due to the loss of natural oils, making it also finer than pigmented hair, avoid heavy conditioners as this will make your limp, choose a hairstyle and products that will give it volume

Contrary to popular belief there is no reason to chop off your hair if it is in good condition,

Get some advice from your professional hairdresser on how best to maintain your hair.
Your Health

Your eyes are a good indication of your general health. it’s a good idea to get your eyesight checked, an experienced optician can spot anything from hypertension to glaucoma., especially after the menopause.

Don’t ignore niggly problems. This is the age when blood pressure and cholesterol levels start going up, your chances of developing further complications is quite real.

There comes a point when pedicures will  no longer suffice nor will a new coat of nail polish, shellac or gel nails cover up hard, cracking foot skin and ingrowing nails – you will need to see your chiropodist,  recurrent fungal problems need proper treatment – ask your GP for advice.

No need to put on orthopeadic shoes just yet, avoid ill-fitting stilettos  as these will give you lower back problems and bunions. With block heels and wedge heels being all the rage and so trendy, you can still look funky and have more support.

Now is the time to get moving and stay moving, sign up at your community fitness classes, or join the yoga or pilates classes.

Weight training increases bone density and protects against osteoporosis.

Stay clear from extreme dieting, especially crash diets as sudden weight loss will make you look haggard, so keep to a consistent weight

Sleep – Aim for seven to eight hours sleep every night, your body interprets lack of sleep as stress, and releases hormones that compromise your immunity and making you more susceptible to illness.

And breathe… Long, deep breathing through your nose will make you feel more in tune with your body, manage anxiety, bad moods at all costs and reduce your blood pressure.
 Managing menopause

By the age of 54, 80 per cent of women have stopped having periods.

Perimenopause –  periods are erratic,

Menopause – period has stopped for a whole year, in which case you are now officially menopausal.

Some women endure a range of symptoms albeit intermittent, they suffer from hot flushes to insomnia, while other women have no symptoms at all.

 

If you are part of the former experiment with alternatives like acupuncture or herbal supplements before taking HRT , as with any drug, HRT comes with its own range of side effects

Remember that exercise is a wonder drug with health benefits, a training regime will most definitely lessen the effects of the menopause and help you manage insomnia

Feed your body. Eat oily fish – salmon, mackerel, and sardines – for a vitamin D boost to help with menopausal symptoms; avocados, olive oil and sunflower seeds for their vitamin E anti-ageing properties. Dark green veggies will lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Talk to your friends about what you and they are going through. It’s important to understand what’s happening to your body.

Some of the products that you may wish to try:

Hands – body shop hand care range 

Hair – Herra hair care 

Face – younique hydrating day cream and instant uplift serum 

Menopause – smoothie with orange, banana, mango, coconut oil and vitamin d drops. 

Make up

younique moodstruck palette 1

Younique beachfront bronzer 

younique moodstruck brow liner

For younique products head over to : http://www.youniqueproducts.com/Quintessential

 

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What works for you at 50?  share your tips and I will share it

 

“You gotta Nourish to Flourish!”

The North of Doha during the winter is usually well-known for setting up Winter camps, evening barbeques and hare-hunting. However, our last trip was about something a little greener. Not too far north from the capital city, we took a turn at the Um Al Amad Interchange to discover Eden Farm. This sanctuary was initially a piece of land to provide a home away from home, a quiet retreat from the fast-paced city, for Dr. Salem Al-Naemi and his family. It was from this foundation, that Eden Farm began to flourish.

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Eden spans over 25 acres. From the moment we drove through its welcoming gates, we were overwhelmed with refreshing sights greenery almost everywhere! Nasser Al-Naemi, son of the Managing Director, Dr. Salem, is also an integral part of the family business and was kind enough to take time out of his day to show us around the family farm. The development of the idea of Eden was catalyzed by the need for the local market to provide for its people. At times, supplies of various produce would be difficult to find, or at least of good enough quality. Hence, father and son worked together to develop their farm in order to cater to the demands of the community. Two engineers soon added the art of farming to their résumés- with a twist. In order to maximize on production and to provide adequate supply to meet demands, parts of the farm are run with amazing technology.

As we strolled through the farm, we were amazed at the large variety of vegetables- Indian pumpkin, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, tomatoes, green beans, Sudani beans, chilis, cucumber, yellow, green and red capsicum, lettuce, spinach, eggplant, radish, cherry tomatoes, spring onion… it was like being on a game drive, but instead of sighting wildlife, we were spotting loads and loads of greens! Many of the veggies were kept in greenhouses, or could be farmed out in the open. Seeds for many of the produce were initially brought in from across the globe, including Japan, India and parts of Europe, chosen for their ability to survive best in Qatar’s climate.

Nasser and his team were kind enough to walk us through units where mushrooms were harvested- it is always amazing to see how farming has become such a science, in order to be as efficient as possible! Nasser explained that his mother went to the supermarket one day and was not able to find mushrooms. Realising that this was not only a problem for his family, but also for many other families, the idea of growing mushrooms took roots. As we walked through the units, we saw all the beds of compost and how they were compacted and kept. The mushrooms are all hand-picked in order to keep as much of the product for the customer, as mechanical slicing may lose part of the product. Soil beds can be used for up to 3 flushes (cycles), before replacing the soil bed completely. The first flush can be harvested after 18 days, followed by the second and third flushes, which are harvested in shorter time intervals, about 7 days apart. Relative humidity, carbon dioxide levels and temperature is controlled and the harvesting of mushrooms can be managed, accurate to the day of harvesting! White mushrooms, brown mushrooms and portobello mushrooms are products of Eden farm, going under its own label as “Oryx Mushrooms”. I was impressed by how clean and tidy the facility was, much like the rest of the farm.

Eden also harvests its own supply of honey. With nectar taken from surrounding Sidra trees, the bees can make their honey. The bees on the farm had been brought in from North Africa. It was great to see someone taking an interest in bee-keeping, as the world’s population of bees is being challenged intensely, and many are unaware of how dire this problem is already! There were also kinar, fruits of the tree, hanging, ready to be plucked and eat, just like that! Mashmoom could also be found, a tree with aromatic leaves and deep purple flowers. Traditionally, mashmoom leaves are used by women, young and old, clipped into their hair for the pleasant smell. These leaves can be put in cars, handbags, anywhere in the home even, to exude its great smell!

At some point, we stopped for the late afternoon prayer. Nasser was kind enough to guide us into his family majlis, where hot karak was waiting for us. Qatari hospitality is something that I still find rarely unsurpassed!

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We then had a quick look at the livestock on the farm. Eden has a growing unit of Awassi sheep and Sudani goats, both hardy breeds of small stock, able to thrive in Qatar’s climatic conditions.

The tour came to a magnificent end as we watched the sun set, melting away into soft pinks and purples, over the lush pasture beneath it. It was incredibly refreshing to enjoy this time out of the city, taking in all the fresh air around us!

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Developing a successful farming business is no easy feat. Coming from South Africa, we are exposed to farming to a degree, aware of the attention farmers have to give to all the finer details, from soil composition, climatic conditions, pests, plant pathologies, and the constant challenge of balancing finances. Indeed, farming is neither easy, nor is it cheap! It takes a great deal of investment in terms of time and money. It also demands a significant amount of patience and perseverance from the farmer. Now, consider farming in the desert, a peninsula, with mostly salt water as a water source and the challenge gets trickier. For this reason, acknowledgement must be accredited to QDB (Qatar Development Bank) for supporting the Al-Naemi family in their farming endeavor. Now, Eden is present in many of the local markets across the State of Qatar, including the Mahaseel market in Katara, selected Al Meera stores and Wholesale Market.

Before we left, Nasser and his team surprised us with a wide variety of their produce. I was so excited to get home and cook and taste these vegetables!

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It was inspiring to see how a concept which started in 2004, matured and persevered through the years, becoming what it is today. Dr. Al-Naemi attributes part of the success of the farm to the family and staff that stood by him and Eden throughout all the years, in order to harvest the fruits of Eden’s success. It was also a pleasure to see local people wanting to empower and cater for their community. Eden and Oryx Mushrooms are definitely initiatives I support. I hope you will too! In South Africa, we have a saying that, “local is lekker”, which translates rather poorly to “local is good (or nice)”. “Lekker” is a term for anything to be enjoyed, and after seeing the farm, as well as eating the produce made there, I can say that local is definitely “lekker” in Qatar, too!

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Here is what we prepared today, using some of the vegetables gifted to us

Vegetable Stir Fry  

Ingredients:
2 tablespoon oil
250 gms minced beef or chicken
1 medium onion, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, diced thin
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cups broccoli florets
1 large red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 large yellow bell pepper, cut into strips
1 tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 cup water
Black pepper
Salt to taste
Cornflour (to thicken sauce)

Preparation:

Heat oil in wok or large skillet.
Add mince meat and stir fry until brown.  Remove to one side.
Add onions and garlic and stir fry for about 2 minutes until lightly brown.
Add vegetables, oyster sauce and soy sauce and stir fry for 5 minutes (adding water, if necessary, to cook the vegetable)
Return the mince to the wok and stir fry for another 2 minutes.
Add cornflour to thicken the sauce.
Serve with rice or noodles

 

 

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For more information on Eden Farm Market:

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FB: https://www.facebook.com/edenfarmqatar/
https://www.facebook.com/Oryx-Mushrooms-1209196549259922/
IG: https://www.instagram.com/edenfarmqatar/
Email:edenfarmqatar@gmail.com

ummsuhail

 

 

 

The Fine Line Between Observation and Judgement….

I have been thinking about observation vs judgement, and how this relates to effective communication.

This is a something that is often discussed with my better half, particularly when I am making an observation and he feels that it is inappropriate to pass judgement and rightfully so.

 

My immediate response is that I am not judging, but merely making an observation. This leads to spirited conversations with him or sometimes with myself as I do believe that there is a fine line between observation and judgement, the differences are huge and this can be seen in our daily lives,  yet we can get into dicey territory when we start judging each other…

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Before I go any further, I wish to iterate that this phenomenon is not unique to me, it happens to most of us at some point in our lives, some sooner than others.

As we continue to evolve as humans in our journey of life,  we strive to be better humans thus choosing  to enter a space of even more love and compassion,  we then begin to notice subtleties about our thoughts, feelings, and reactions to life unfolding around us. We begin to create our very own balance of peace and harmony with ourselves and others and everything around u operating from a place of observation with love and compassion, regardless of the circumstances.

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So, you might wonder what or how do we do this?

So how do we distinguish observation from judgement? How do we shift into a space of a compassionate observer?

-Observation is a neutral act of taking in information by which we base our responses.

-Judgment is rendering an opinion  relative value or merit of what is being observed

-We observe something when we become aware of it. We acknowledge “this is so.” We judge when we form an opinion, as in “I think this about that.”

There is nothing wrong with “making judgments”, since our daily decisions are based on our judgments, however it is important to separate observation from assumption and judgement, doing this helps us make better decisions.

The fine line between judgement and observation can sometimes become very blurred, but it not need be – in observer mode, you accept the world as is–without having the need to control it or change it, there is no assignment of right or wrong, good or bad, without attaching feelings to everything that is happening around us, this is when we are operating from our heart, as a consequence, we are able to see the world with even more love and compassion –

A judgement on the other hand is when we attach a feeling to an observation and these feelings are a product of our very own upbringing, past conditioning, specific incidents and life experiences, more often then not, this leads to making people wrong in the theater of our mind and essentially blaming them for our own point of views.

Naturally, feelings are part of our make up however the extent to which we experience positive and negative emotions derive from our own unique experiences. When things happen that stir up trauma or old wounds, we have the tendency to project negative emotions into the world, similarly when we feel good, our experiences seem to be more positive, so the degree to how we see the world is relative to the degree of how good or bad we feel inside, and these very feelings play an important role in how we perceive the world.

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Here is the thing…

Being able to state our observations is important to our ability to effectively communicate, influence and lead, however we can choose to see through the lens of compassion and observe that everyone is navigating through life the best way they know how.

The more I meditate and ask my Creator for guidance and live life with intention, the more I enjoy being in the observer mode. This practice strengthens the observer within us. When we connect to the wise part of ourselves, we begin to see the world differently it enables us to observe the word without being as affected by events surrounding us,  this in turn makes us less judgmental. Soon this leads us to realize that others around you are also trying the best they know how regardless of how sometimes their actions may cause havoc in our own lives, we can then begin to support their transformation in a way that creates harmony!

Living in an observer mode is a choice. Connecting with our Creator is one such practice that strengthens your observer mode.

Think about this:

“She is wearing an abaya.” – observation

“She is wearing a tight abaya or her abaya should not be tight.”– judgments

“She has honey toned skin.” – observation

“She is ugly.” – judgement

“She is very skilled.” – observation, if based on truly observing the skills being discussed

“She is better than others.” judgement, unless there is factual measurement on a criteria that all agree defines “better.”

While we can find plenty of examples in our personal and professional lives (just focus on this for an hour and you will know what I mean),

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So ask yourself “What are You Doing?”

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Pursuing Peace and Relaxation!

I’m just a regular quinquagenarian who loves spending her weekends pottering around at home.

The highlight of my weekends begins with unwinding on Thursday afternoons at my go-to coffee shop, watching the world go by. Fridays are spent catching up with TV series and movies, with the best company- a soothing cup of tea. On Saturdays, I like to spend time browsing the net and looking through my photos of the week, to find inspiration and ways to improve myself in every aspect of my life.

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To the younger generation this might seem rather boring, but for me, this qualifies as a great time. It makes me happy. This is what I had envisaged for my future self while still in my late twenties- to be able to enjoy every moment in life the way that made me happiest.

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I recall how aggressive I was up until my late 30’s, to keep the proverbial ball rolling, to be ever-dynamic. Perhaps this was due to the self-imposed expectations that I placed on myself, while struggling to find a balance, between who I really was and who I was expected to be- a never-ending uphill battle.

So, how did I get here?
Well, I believe it was what social psychologists describe as “consequence, due to gradual shifting from promotion motivation to promotion prevention”.

“What in the world is she talking about?”
Promotion motivation is seeing our goals in terms of what we can gain, or how we can end up better off. A motivation to promote “to the next level, if you will.” This is most prevalent among younger adults, because youth tends to be a time when we focus on our hopes of the future. We conceptualize our ideal dream, of getting ahead at work, or moving to a new town… Add to it the lack of many responsibilities and you have the ideal elements for a strong promotion motivation case.

As for prevention motivation, it is all about ensuring that things run smoothly and avoiding losses- “motivation to prevent detriment”. As we progress in life, we discover the latter term, through experience, growth, joy, pain, loss, family responsibilities, financial commitments- basically, getting knocked around a bit by life. The lessons accumulate as we move from one experience to the next.

Naturally, we all have both. However, the relative amounts vary from individual to individual. This is what changes with experience as we progress in life.  This is particularly apparent in the workplace, where younger individuals are more promotion orientated, focused on developing skills and “making it”, versus the older individuals who are more prevention-motivated, where security and flexible work schedules are their main concerns,

 

Looking back, I realize how much I’ve changed. The answer, of course, is that I grew up. For many of us, being “happy” slowly evolves into something completely different – a gradual change from the highly energized teenage experience to the self-centered 20’s, the overachieving 30’s, to the more peaceful, relaxing experience of an overworked parent whose dream of reading a book without any disturbances, becomes a holiday. The latter isn’t less “happy” than the former—it’s just a different way of experiencing it.

 

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what are your thoughts on pursuing peace and relaxation?

To The Men in Uniform!

Despite the illegal blockade imposed by some of the neighbouring countries, Qatar has shined, showing its resilience, its resolve to retain its own identity and maintain its independence and sovereignty.

From interviews, to images and  debates on TV and the internet, almost every resident and citizen alike expressed their support for this beautiful land: #weareallQatar, praise for the outstanding leader #Tamimalmajd and chants of the National Day slogan – “Promise of Prosperity and Glory”

 

With all the excitement surrounding Qatar’s National Day, this year’s celebration certainly had a different take.

As I went through my photos and the reminders on facebook of photos taken in previous years, I thought of doing something different this year.  With a gallery of over 1000 pictures of the years preceding this one, I felt that it would only be right to give thanks to the amazing men in uniform marching in the National Day Parade.

With armed forces being the subject of fascination and admiration for civilizations, ever since the concept of conquests and victories began, whether it be acquisition of lands or defining boundaries, men in uniform continue to command respect and admiration.

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So this year, I wish to pay tribute to the men in uniform who marched in the parade, the men who guard the borders of this beautiful country, the men that patrol the streets and ensure that men and women alike, remain safe.

To the men in uniform, Thank you! 2 simple words, perhaps you don’t hear it often, but do know that you are appreciated.

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Without outstanding brave people such as yourselves, the world we live in today would be very different, for everyday that you wake up, your unwavering  commitment  to keep us safe, putting your life on the line to save others. It takes a special person to risk his life on a daily basis, for people you will most likely never meet.

Thank you for the sacrifices that you make, some known to us and others not, to make sure that we, as residents, are kept safe from danger.

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Thank you for being positive role models and heroes to the younger generation.

Thank you for being so selfless.

Thank you to the men who raise their right hand and swear an oath to protect Qatar.

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Medals on the uniform tell a story of courage and sacrifice – each medal a unique story.

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With this humble tribute, I hope that each and everyone reading this post will take a moment to say “Thank You!” the next time you meet these men in uniform.

Umm Suhail

Images taken off Qatar TV- coverage of the QND2017

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