Let’s Talk About Endometriosis (En-doe-me-tree-O-sis)

Nearly 10 per cent of women experience endometriosis worldwide – you’re not alone if you have this disorder! Endometriosis occurs when tissue similar to the lining of the uterus (the endometrium) grows outside the uterine cavity. The tissue growth can form on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bowel and tissues lining the pelvis. This condition can cause chronic irritation and extreme pain, and infertility.

In a conversation with Fatima Hoosain from Upswing SA; an endo-sister and all-round stunning human being, she opens up about her real-life journey with endometriosis: “I think the best way to describe what it’s like living with endometriosis is like having bribed wire wrapped around your pelvis down around your thighs all the time. It’s extremely debilitating, and if you decide to use the treatments currently available. it’s almost like you’re just numbing everything. The barbed wire is still there, you know it’s there, you can somewhat feel it, but you’re also just numb all over.”

What are the symptoms?

Some women experience moderate to severe or mild symptoms – it is important to note that the severity of your pain does not indicate the degree or stage of the condition. Some of the symptoms experienced include, but are not limited to:

  • pelvic pain, pain in the lower abdomen before and during periods
  • painful periods
  • heavy menstrual flows or bleeding between periods

Fatima says “nausea (and) IBS are the two I’d highlight most. The rest kind of just fell into my daily life…Other than that, it was and sometimes still is, that crippling pelvic pain.” Some women experience no symptoms at all – therefore, it is vital to have regular and honest check-ups with your GP or gynaecologist to monitor any changes and request guidance.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Is there a cure?

“…to answer bluntly – no – there is no cure for it. There are procedures and treatment plans you can follow to manage it and reduce it, but it is often referred to as chronic.” When left untreated, the symptoms of endometriosis can hinder women from leading a full life. Treatment can range from over-the-counter pain medications to a total hysterectomy (as a last resort option).

What led to your diagnosis?

Fatima shares: for me, it was very simple. Since I started menstruating, I experienced dysmenorrhea which is extreme period cramps – and I mean extreme. Before and during my periods, I could not walk because of the pain. As I got older, the build-up of endometrium tissue increased, which I later discovered wrapped around my intestines and kidneys As that tissue built up, the pain became more intense and didn’t go away after my period as it normally would for others. The inflammation got so bad that it started damaging my intestines, and my nutrition absorption was heavily compromised – it became life-threatening. I became so malnourished that it compromised my mental stability – all I wanted was for the pain to stop. Unfortunately, this led to an overdose of medication which landed me in the ICU for observation.

It was at that point when I realised I needed help.

I went to see a gynaecologist who suggested the idea of endometriosis, but they were not comfortable performing the surgery that would accurately confirm the diagnosis. Instead, I was placed on birth control pills and the inflammation was monitored. The treatment was not effective and my life force was dimming. I was so malnourished and surviving on painkillers – I could not even lift my head. My parents rushed me to the hospital to be seen by my gynaecologist. I don’t remember much of the first two days as I was too weak to stay awake and caught glimpses of the nurses put me on an IV drip to heal me back to life. After multiple scans, blood tests, consultations with specialists, the doctors concluded that I had a concerning amount of inflammation in my pelvic area and the gynaecologist finally diagnosed me with endometriosis.

Endometriosis vs Self Confidence

Of the symptoms that can be managed, chronic pain can prove to be very difficult for many women. Mental health issues are not uncommon for women doing their best to manage their endometriosis. “You discover new things about your body that you can choose to either love or reject. The way I perceive my body psychologically affects my physical health,” Fatima further adds, “Learning to understand how my body works, the functions and processes that take place for me to simply be has made me appreciate and allow my body to do what it needs to as I try my best to support it and look after it.”

Fatima also explains that through her bittersweet relationship with her period, she has prioritized her body’s needs over societal expectations, “loving myself extra during the times of pain and celebrating the cycle body goes through to cleanse itself out of the old to make space for the new.”

You are not alone – it is highly recommended to reach out to support groups online or fellow sisters working through their endometriosis journey. Fatima adds that Endo-Warriors South Africa has been a huge support structure in her life, “It has taught me how common this condition is, and I would recommend you (to) discuss your period with friends, family or anyone willing to listen. The more people (who) know about it, the easier it is for us to receive support.”

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Where are you in your endo-journey?

“I’ve moved over from recovery phase into lifestyle management phase. It wasn’t an easy adjustment, emotionally, as I have to plan my work schedules around my cycle which is difficult when you have to accommodate your responsibilities. The world doesn’t stop for you, and that is something I had to accept and work with. Make lemonade out of lemons kind of thinking.” says Fatima.

Endometriosis is a chronic condition with no cure, with no scientifically proven cause (yet) – but with various treatment options available, women can own every day!

EXTRA

What are your thoughts on the shame associated with periods, menstrual health and female reproductive organs?

FATIMA: It’s ridiculous considering that’s the only process where 100 per cent of the population has been brought into the world. Hence, the reproductive organs should not be such a touchy subject as it is the essence of human life. If we can speak about heart failure, lung disease, kidney stones, we should be able to openly speak about the functions of the uterus, endometrium, etc. just as easily. After getting sick I have tried my best to speak as frankly as possible about my health conditions, in the same way, I would if I had experienced a heart attack. I remember during my first week back to school after being discharged from hospital – in a Biology lesson we had reached the chapter of the reproductive system. Our male Bio teacher began describing a very vague version of endometriosis to a classroom full of girls. I boldly raised my hand and mentioned that I had this health condition and would be willing to share my experiences. If any of my classmates had a similar experience or needed some clarity, I wanted to talk about it – however, I was immediately shut down and told not to be so loud to discuss such private and personal matters in public. I didn’t have the energy to fight the patriarchy that day, so I just quickly let everyone know I’d answer their questions privately if they were interested. Now that I am older, I always look for an opportunity to bring it up. More talking about menstruation, thank you!

Your take on – ‘sex education is just about teaching youth how to have sex’?

FATIMA: It’s complete bull$h!t. Firstly, so what if we’re teaching kids the steps of sex? I’m pretty sure the more that kids know, the less likely they are to experiment. When you actually read through the process, you realise the weight of responsibility it carries. Instead of letting it be this elusive, mysterious thing, speak about it openly so that kids aren’t jumping into it to satisfy their curiosity. Aside from that, sex education is not just about “how to have sex”. It is a lesson about your sexual organs, their functions, risks, and necessary practices and routine to ensure that your reproductive system is healthy. Topics in sex ed include understanding the risks of prostate cancer, what happens to your body as it shifts into adulthood through puberty, understanding how to care for your body, keep it clean and healthy – which is vital information for anyone.

Photo by Charlotte May on Pexels.com

References:

Endometriosis: gene identified which could be potential treatment target – new study

Endometriosis

Where Endometriosis Can Occur

Thanks for reading!

If you, or anyone you know, would like to join us as: email us at girlonthebusza@gmail.com or send us a message on social media!

For Better or For Worse: Understanding Your Normal Period

Monthly cycles are a woman’s companion, for 3-4 decades of her life, for better or for worse. Hormonal and mood changes associated with it have been the subject of many anecdotes and tales.

Many of us think of our cycles as unproductive times, both work-related as well as spiritually.

It doesn’t have to be so. Planning and prioritizing tasks can take the burden off from days that you don’t feel 100%.

Spiritually, it does not have to be a complete break, even though we don’t pray during our cycle. We can increase in remembrance of our Creator (dhikr) and other good deeds like charity.

What is a normal period?

A complaint I hear frequently is: “My periods are all over the place. I don’t have any pattern.”

Many of us have a preconception that there is a “date“ on which the cycle must start. If that’s not so there is a problem, and our cycle is irregular.

This is not true. 

Cycles can vary greatly and still be considered normal.

The monthly cycle starts on the first day of your last period and ends on the first day of your next period.

This can range from anything between 21-40 days. Periods normally last between 3-5 days, but again 2-7 days is a normal duration.

Then comes the actual flow. What some women consider normal, others may call heavy. 

If you see clots in the flow bigger than a penny, or you soak through and stain your clothes, your periods are heavy, and you may want to see your doctor.

Photo by Anastasia Shuraeva on Pexels.com

When do periods start and when do they stop?

For most girls, menstrual cycles begin at the age of around 12. But girls are starting periods earlier and it is common to see girls as young as 9 or 10 having periods. Read here to learn more about when to seek medical help if your daughter or sister starts experiencing their periods early.
Menopause, or the time that periods pack up, is around the age of 51 but may vary from 45-55 years. If periods stop before the age of 40, you should make an appointment to see your doctor. Some women would need either hormone supplements or medication to strengthen their bones.

Feeling moody before periods?

You are not the only one!

As many as 3 in 4 women can be moody for a week or sometimes two weeks before their period. You may also have headaches and bloating. 

Many women will miss work at some point in time because of severe PMS (Premenstrual syndrome).

However, this does not, entitle women to use this as an excuse to be disrespectful or uncompromising with others. A healthier approach is to find excuses for somebody who is moody when it is not in their nature to be so.

However, if you are feeling snappy and short-tempered, and you know it may be because of your hormones, explain to your near and dear ones how you are feeling to prevent misunderstandings.

An exaggerated form of PMS is Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD).

Women experience the symptoms of PMS, but on more intense levels. Some may feel depressed, anxious and even suicidal. 

Do not ignore these symptoms in either yourself or a family member. Sometimes the one suffering from PMDD may not have insight into the severity of the problem and a close friend or family member may pick it up.

You need to refer yourself to emergency services, which may vary depending on the country where you reside. Most countries have emergency mental health services.

Changes in the pattern of your periods

Photo by Sora Shimazaki on Pexels.com

Each one of us recognizes what is normal for our cycle.

It is not unusual to have early or delayed periods, heavy or light periods for a couple of cycles. Stress may cause hormonal imbalances and it usually settles back into a normal pattern.

However, if your periods start getting heavier and you are above the age of 40, do see your doctor.

Spotting in between cycles is a common complaint. If there is any possibility of pregnancy at all, do a pregnancy test to read more about the causes of spotting in different age groups, read this article.

If periods start spacing out and becoming lighter near the age of 45, you are probably going through the menopausal phases. No need to worry!

Should menstrual leave be universal in workplaces?

Japan is one of the few countries where women are allowed a menstrual leave. This law has been in place for nearly 70 years. South Korea also allows women to take leave during their periods if they suffer severe pain or heavy periods. Despite being entitled to menstrual leave, a 2017 survey in Japan showed that only 9 in 1000 women claimed menstrual leave. The reason being, there is a stigma attached to the menstrual cycle and women do not like telling their male employers that they are off sick because they are menstruating.

India is one of the countries where there is a lot of shame associated with periods. In some rural areas, girls are not allowed to cook or touch people when they are menstruating!

“Girls in India typically miss 20% of the school year because of their period, and 70% of mothers consider menstruation ‘dirty,” according to a 2014 report by philanthropic organization Dasra. as quoted in an article in CNN in 2021.

No wonder Indian food delivery company, Zomato, made recent headlines when CEO Deepinder announced period leave for their female employees. Read the note here.

Shockingly, the biggest opponents of period leave is women!

Westernized countries are yet to offer period leave, although it has been debated.

Feminists have widely debated the matter and are divided if menstrual leave helps or hinders women in the workplace.

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

Befriend your monthly cycles and embrace your womanhood!

Understanding your cycle and accepting the changes that your body goes through will make you happier and productive. 

Focus on what you can do rather than the limitations.

For sporty sisters, don’t let your cycle dampen your spirits. Think of alternatives – treatment to control symptoms and be open with your trainers so that you can discuss options.

Working women need to adjust their commitments around their cycles if their periods hinder everyday life. There is still a lot of shame attached to admitting that you are unable to perform certain tasks effectively. It will take the collective effort of men and women to overcome this long-standing negative perception of periods and it’s connection to productivity.

Stay-at-home mums – tell your husband, children, and other family members if you are struggling and ask for help. Don’t suffer in silence. They don’t know till you tell them.

Be positive, be kind to yourself and spread positivity and kindness.

MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Umm Aasiya is an Obstetrician and Gynaecologist. She gave up clinical practice due to health and family issues in 2020. She uses her years of experience to share authentic medical knowledge. Her aim is to empower sisters through credible information, enabling them to make informed choices about their health. Her main focus is to connect with her Creator, learn and reflect upon the Quran as much as she can.
The rest of her time is spent looking after her husband, 3 lovely children and their cat, Lulu.
For more from Umm Aasiya, click here

25+ Simple Sayings That Are Simply Blissful

A few years back, I received a tiny book from a kind neighbour. The miniature piece of literature was no larger than my own child-like hand. Yet, it held some of the most impactful words that would help me through my Tumultuous Twenties. ‘A Simpler Life’ by Helen Exley aims to help the reader reach a more contented life by doing less overthinking and over-analysing, and simply finding peace with who you are and where you are in your journey.

Inspired by the work of Exley and her team, I will be sharing Over 25 Quotes That Are Simply Blissful. Comment below which quote you loved, and live by.

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”

-Aristotle

“May you live every day of your life” – Johnathan Swift

“Turn your wounds into wisdom” – Oprah Winfrey

“Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavour” – Truman Capote

“My roses are my jewels, the sun and moon my clocks, fruit and water my food and drink” – Hester Lucy Stanhope

“Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens” – Jimi Hendrix

“The desire to reach for the stars is ambitious. The desire to reach hearts is wise” – Maya Angelou

“The wise adapt themselves to circumstances, as water moulds itself to the pitcher” – Chinese Proverb

“Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment” – Rumi,  Masnavi i Man’avi

red, orange cherries for good health, sweetness in life and love
Credit: Nick Fewings
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“Angry people are not always wise” – Jane Austen, Pride & Prejudice

“Life would be tragic if it weren’t funny” – Stephen Hawking

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom” – Aristotle

“Suffering is a gift. In it is hidden mercy” – Rumi

“Do all the good you can and make as little fuss about it as possible” – Charles Dickens

“The quiet mind is richer than a crown. Sweet are the nights in careless slumber spent” – Robert Greene

“Time that withers you will wither me. We will fall like ripe fruit and roll down the grass together. Dear friend, let me lie beside you watching the clouds until the earth covers us and we are gone” – Jeanette Winterson, Written on the Body

“When you forget that you need Allah (God), He puts you in a situation that causes you to call upon Him. And that’s for your own good” – Omar Suleiman

“Goodness is the only investment that never fails” – Henry David Thoreau

“Give love in secret by praying for one another” – Unknown

shiny red apples that keep the doctor away
Credit: Matheus Cenali
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“The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much, and forgetting that you are special too” – Earnest Hemingway, Men Without Women

“True love is rare, and it’s the only thing that gives life real meaning” – Nicholas Sparks

“We learn from failure, not from success!” – Bram Stoker, Dracula

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well” – Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

“Joy exists only in self-acceptance. Seek perfect acceptance, not a perfect life” – Unknown

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection” – Sharon Salzberg

“Sit loosely in the saddle of life” – Robert Louis Stevenson

“Learn to wish that everything should come to pass exactly as it does” – Epictetus

“The busiest, most creative soul must have at its heart a place of silence, of utter simplicity and peace” – Charlotte Gray

Thanks for reading!

If you, or anyone you know, would like to join us as: email us at girlonthebusza@gmail.com or send us a message on social media!
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Menstrual Products That Are Good For You (And The Environment) | OPINION

Blood comes out of my vagina every month and has been since I was really young. That means I have used a lot of pads and tampons. All of which has cost me money and cost my planet. Below are a few period products I have come to love, including a few BONUS Yoga-inspired moves (from my favourite YouTubers) that really help for those uncomfortable and painful periods or PMS days.

I love these products because they help me save money, they have a gentler impact on the planet and they all believe in the common cause to uplift and support women and humans with vaginas!

Bamboo Pads

Pads are one of the first menstrual products introduced to humans with vaginas. They’re really easy to use; with an adhesive strip on the back that sticks to the underwear. Most are made of cotton and some have added fragrances or layering. I used pads for most of my menstrual journey. However, the one thing that really put me off wearing pads was the harmful chemicals they leached out into the earth, air and (potentially) oceans after ending up in landfills. According to the OrganiCup blog, conventional pads contain chemicals such as chlorine, rayon and dioxin. I checked out three different brands of pads in my home, the Always and Stayfree brands didn’t have anything resembling an ‘ingredients list’, but the Libresse pack did. Although it didn’t mention the three chemicals listed above, it contained polypropylene and polyethylene. According to the Reliance Foundry blog, polyethylene is great to be recycled, but not suitable to be disposed of in a landfill. Tbh I wouldn’t want the same chemical that is used to make literally every other plastic product near my most sensitive body parts…

The closest answer to my dilemma was the Here We Flo Bamboo Pads. They’re incredibly soft, fragrance-free, cruelty-free, vegan and 99% biodegradable! Plus it’s plastic-free, does not contain dioxins, artificial dyes or chlorine – these pads tick all the right boxes. The pads come in two ‘sizes’: a Day-pad for regular flows and a Night-pad for heavier flow days. I purchased the ‘Combo Pack’ which contains 10 Day and 5 Night pads, so you can easily play around with the absorbency.

Here We Flo Bamboo Pads | Credit: Ethical Superstore

I bought these from my local Clicks store, but you can buy directly from their website (or schedule monthly deliveries to your door!) And if you thought this woman-owned company couldn’t get any cooler, they donate 5% of their profits towards organisations fighting against Female Genital Cutting (FGC) and who aim to provide menstrual products to humans who are unable to afford them (because pink tax is real).

If you’re used to thick chonky pads, these may feel like thin pantyliners to you – and there did come a point when I was not sure if I had put one on or not. Because these pads are really soft, light-weight and non-itchy.

These pads do come with a pretty price though, retailing at R69.99 at any Clicks store. But the quality and assurance these babies pack are so worth every rand! If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative, try the ANNA Sanitary Pads or the Clicks MyEarth Organic Cotton Ultra Normal Pads.

Menstrual Disc

Not to be confused with a menstrual cup! The ‘disc’ and ‘cup’ are both inserted into the vagina and collect the menstrual blood rather than absorbing it. Once the disc is inserted, it fits snug behind your pelvic bone in the fornix (space where the vaginal canal meets the cervix) and you’ll know it’s inside correctly because you won’t feel a damn thing! Check out this Healthline article about the science behind the menstrual disc.

L – Menstrual Cup R – Menstrual Disc | Credit: POPSUGAR

Made from squishy and body-safe silicone, these discs make for a cost-effective and environmentally-friendly product. Some, like the Flex Menstrual Disc, are single-use items. But I got my hands on the Softcup Menstrual Disc, which offers 12 hours of period protection and can be reused up to three cycles!

Before I ventured down the disc drive, I trained myself to be comfortable with the idea of inserting something into my vaginal canal. Coming from a Cape Malay, Muslim family – matters of the female anatomy were not always taught with a hint of celebration and acceptance. So if you’re afraid of having a ‘foreign item’ (a tampon, menstrual disc or menstrual cup) being inserted into your vagina, have a look at this helpful article or this one!

The menstrual disc offers you the freedom to run, swim, laugh, sneeze and cough without the feeling of gushing blood. Plus, you can go to bed completely worry-free.

And just you wait until you discover auto-dumping….life-changing!

This product definitely put me in a love-hate relationship with my body. Hate – my fingers coming out full of blood when I removed the disc. Feeling frustrated when I initially need to insert it. Love – learning that the cervix changes position throughout the menstrual cycle. Knowing where my pelvic bone is. Seeing the actual colour and consistency of my blood. Realising that the vagina is not a scary long tunnel, but another little organ that can do amazing things! Some of the other benefits I found when using the menstrual disc, was that it doesn’t cause dryness, nor is there any unpleasant odour.

Just pinch and insert | Credit: Greatist

When you first use this product, add a pantyliner or pad to your underwear in case of spills or leakages. But once you start using it, you kind of choreograph a special dance with your vagina!

Get your very own Softcup Menstrual Disc via the Clicks Online Store or Takealot.com.

Reusable Pads

Also known as cloth pads or washable pads, are made from cloth and absorbent material. This product takes a very traditional approach to managing a period. According to this Hello Clue blog post, if we look at the time of our grandmothers, during the 1800s to 1900s, many would use homemade cloths made of flannel or woven fabrics that they would need to wash after use. Please do yourself the favour and ask the elderly people in your life just how they ‘dealt’ with their periods.

Soft, comfortable and stylish | Credit: SUBZ

Given the harsh ordeals that many humans with vaginas have to face in South Africa alone, many who start menstruating often miss out on school. This is because of a lack of access to conventional menstrual products and an inability to afford them. They make use of homemade pad-like products using old cloth or leaves or newspaper. Some are forced to make use of previously soiled and dried sanitary towels. Enter the rise of the reusable pad! According to this post on The Conversation, reusable pads are easy to adopt as it takes the same habit of needing to be washed after each use, yet boats a safer, more hygienic and kinder period experience.

Speaking of kindness, many local initiatives that make these pads strive to allow menstruating South African humans to attend school even on their period.

I love my comfortable and secure SUBZ reusable pad. It’s made with 6 layers of period protection which includes three layers of hydrophilic (water-loving) fabric, waterproofing layers and hydrophobic (water-repelling) fabric. The outer cotton-knit feels so luxurious against the skin, it instantly adds a sense of comfort when used. Like traditional pads, these come with wings that clip around the gusset of your underwear.

Now the moment you have all been waiting for – yes, you need to wash them after using them. This is something that I know freaks out a lot of people, but honestly, it’s not that bad or big of a deal. I kind of remember watching a video of a woman boasting about the plant-fertilizing properties of period blood and according to this post on the Pixie Cup blog, this has been a growing trend…so, there’s that!?

Rinse the pad under cold running water, this is similar to those pool deep-cleaning videos. It will help to remove the mucus and tissue on the outer layer. Secondly, wash it thoroughly with soapy water. I prefer using good ‘ol Sunlight soap – mild in fragrance and tough on stains. Finally, give it a rinse through clean water, and hang it up to dry. Easy peasy!

My only gripe with the pads is that it lacks something to really make it sit in one place. Throughout the day, I found that my pad would slide around to the back of my panty as I moved. And I don’t think I was actually alone in the aisle while I awkwardly adjusted myself.

These pads are great for people who want to save months’ worth of money on sanitary items, help the environment and protect their bodies from potentially harmful chemicals. Additionally when you purchase a reusable item from the SUBZ website or stockist you instantly support an organisation that actively fights for the freedom of South Africa, where all menstruating individuals can attend school without shame.

The Standard Pad Self Clipping reusable pad costs R27.20, which is roughly the same as an entire pack of pads. Except this one pad will last you between 3 to 5 years! Another brand you can show some love is Palesas Pads. They sell the coveted Flo Kits, which are like those dried fruit gift baskets, except their packed with everything a menstruating person needs in their life! It comes equipped with a pad-designated washing bucket, a variety of reusable pads, hand-washing sops and white spirit vinegar to make sure you really keep your handy-dandy sanitary towels fresh!

BONUS: Relaxing Moves That Help With Period Cramps and Discomfort – these videos are part of my pain-proof-period arsenal. Cassey (Blogilates) and Sarah Beth (SarahBeth Yoga) have these fantastic videos to keep you going.

#COLLAB: Growing Up Ain’t Like The Movies (it’s more like a bumpy bus ride)

The warmth from the sun’s rays pierce through the huge dust-covered windows. It penetrates my soul and shines a comforting glow onto my face. I was a little girl of 6 years old, heading home with my sister in the huge beige Golden Arrow bus. On our drive from Athlone to Hanover Park, I would rest my head against the window, the gentle vibration of the moving bus creating a soothing, buzzing sound. Something like a lullaby. The rhythmic pulses relax my energetic mind and I imagined that this is what a head massage must feel like – until my head abruptly jolted forward when the bus came to a halt.

As I soaked up the sun on my rosy cheeks, at the same time trying to avoid being blinded by the rays of sunlight, would imagine what my life would be like in the future.

I’d imagine myself as a grown woman, with high heels and lipstick – ever so fashionable – working in a field that I love, while concurrently running my household efficiently.

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Regarding my imaginary children, three to be exact, two boys and a girl, I would be “Loving but disciplined”. While lost in this thought I glanced through the dust-covered window as we passed a huge two-storey house and I excitedly nudged my older sister and said, “Titi, when I grow-up I am going to live in that house!”

Gleaming windows and neatly trimmed grass surrounded the house – it looked picture perfect. I could feel the excitement rising inside my little 6-year-old body! I smiled with the hope that one day, I would live in that house, with my 3 children in my loving but disciplined way.

And then I grew up

Life has a funny way of giving you what you want, but not exactly in the way you expect.

When I daydreamed of my future, it seemed so easy to be the mom with a career and high heels – running with a tray of freshly baked cookies and her lipstick. That little girl knew nothing. Allow me to elaborate.

I am a mother, and my priorities include:

 1.  Keeping my family healthy and alive.

 2. Maintaining my sanity.

Not in that specific order and everything else is negotiable.

As a working mom my days are divided into two types: good and bad.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

On a good day, I manage to balance it all, the family, the career and all the added extras like fresh cooked meals, in-laws, and friendships. On a bad day (which is the norm now) it is late nights at the office, takeaways, and broken promises.  

That double storey house, with the shiny windows, let me tell you, it’s a lot of work to keep those windows shiny and mortgage paid!

The standards seem impossibly high for women. We wear so many hats. You are expected to be both the loving mother with freshly cooked meals waiting when the kids get home, and the assertive career woman conquering the concrete jungle – both roles come with accompanying shame and guilt. Please do not misunderstand, they are both achievable and many women have it all, but for me, it came at a cost.

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There came a point in my life when I asked: ‘is it worth it’? The late nights at the office, and missed birthdays? Juggling both career and home-life to my own detriment?

If I could sit next to that little girl on the bus, I’d tell her to enjoy life and encourage her to do her best, because that’s really all that matters. I’d warn her that striving for academic achievements and career advancements aren’t worth allowing her mental health to suffer. I’d hug her tightly when she didn’t make it into med school and explain to her that she can still have a happy and fulfilled life even if the path she planned doesn’t work out. I’d tell her to own the space she occupies on Earth. She does not have to fit any preconceived gender role, nor earn in a certain bracket or live in a certain area code – that she should live her life as best she can and to make her happiness a priority.

On the flip side, if it were me, a 36-year-old woman on the bus, that little girl would tell me to stop worrying so much! She’d tell me to smell the flowers, and that the big house was never the prize – it was always about creating a safe place to call home.  A safe space for myself and my children.

Photo by Nubia Navarro (nubikini) on Pexels.com

I now realise that that big beige bus could be a metaphor for life, your life is the bus, sometimes you will have stops and bumps and flat tyres (which are normal). Other times you will need to decide who gets on your bus and supports you and who needs to step off because they aren’t going in the same direction – that’s okay too.

Sometimes, when there’s a detour in life, there is chance for adventure. You end up in a scenic, unexpected destination with opportunities to discover places that you would not ordinarily seen, and that too can be beautiful and bring immense joy.

Thanks for reading!

If you, or anyone you know, would like to join us as: email us at girlonthebusza@gmail.com or send us a message on social media!

Peace and Love on the Planet Earth – Islamic Affirmations

The month of Ramadaan has left the building, but the lessons we learned during the month stay with us – acting as a catalyst for a good year ahead. And as much as I love being optimistic and trying to find the good in things I have come across a more realistic mantra – prepare for the worst, and hope for the best. So while we believe it is going to be a good year ahead, we also have the responsibility to make it our own version of awesome.

We can’t do it alone, and no one is expecting you to do that! Here is a little bit of support in the form of Islamic Words of Affirmations to get you through anything life has to throw at you. Enjoy! Comment your favourite one down below 😀

(PS I came across a list of these Islamic affirmations, so credit to whoever the author of the random printed handout was)

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  1. I Avoid Quarrelling

“And obey Allah and His Messenger and do not quarrel, for then you will be weak in hearts and your power will depart, and be patient; surely Allah is with the patient.” (8:46)

  1. Every Night I Think of Three Things I am Thankful for

“…If you count the blessings of Allah, never will you be able to number them…” (14:34)

  1. I Love My Prophet (pbuh)

“Indeed, Allah showers His blessings upon the Prophet, and His angels pray for him. O  believers! Invoke Allah’s blessings upon him, and salute him with worthy greetings of peace.” (33:56)

  1. When I Want to Change My Life, I Change My Myself First

“…Surely Allah does not change the conditions in which a people are in until they change that which is in themselves…” (13:11)

  1. I Remember Allah as Much as Possible

“Remember your Lord morning and evening, deep in your heart with humility and with reverence; and in a moderate tone of voice; do not be of those who are heedless.” (7:205)

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  1. I Always Hope in Allah’s Mercy

“My servants, you who have transgressed against yourselves, do not despair of the Mercy of Allah. Truly Allah forgives all wrong actions. He is Ever-Forgiving, the Most Merciful.” (39:53)

  1. I Prioritize the Next World and Let Go Earthly Tethers

“So as for he who transgressed, and preferred the life of this world, then indeed Hellfire will be his refuge.” (79:37-39)

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  1. Goodness Always Comes to Those who Patiently Persevere

“How excellent the affairs of the believer! His affair, all of it, is good for him, and this is not the case with anyone except the believer. If prosperity comes to him, he is thankful, and if adversity falls on him, he perseveres patiently. So it is all good for him.” (Muslim, Ahmad)

  1. I Use My Reason and Critical Thinking

“It is He Who has created you from dust; then from a sperm-drop; then from a blood clot; then does He get you out as a child; then lets you (grow and) reach your age of full strength; then lets you become old – through of you there are some who die before – and lets you reach a term appointed (death); in order that you may use your reason.” (40:67)

  1. I Am Responsible for My Actions and My Life

“…And that each person will only have what they endeavoured towards, and that (the outcome of) their endeavours will be seen (in their record), then they will be fully rewarded…” (53: 39-41)

  1. My Hardships Are Here to Bring Me Closer to Allah

“Allah does not want difficulty for you, but He wants to purify you, and to complete His favour upon you, that you may be grateful.” (5:6)

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Sunset over mountains. Purple, red and orange sky. Snow-capped peaks look over a vast, still lake. A man looks at the scenic beauty on a landing near the lake.
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  1. I Remember That My Life Purpose Is to Worship Allah

“I created not the jinn and mankind except that they should worship Me.” (51:56)

  1. I Turn to Allah First

“It is You alone we worship, and You alone we ask for help.” (1:5)

  1. I Seek Allah’s Help with Patience and Prayer

“Nay, seek (Allah’s) help with patience and prayer; and most surely it is a hard thing except for the humble ones.” (2:45)

  1. Truly, I Am of The Believers

“Who is better in speech than the one who summons people unto Allah, and performed a good deed and says, ‘Truly I am of the believers’.” (41:33)

I hope you have found these simple quotes to be a source of goodness, guidance and happiness. May the Almighty guide you all towards contentment and pure love. Stay Hydrated!

Thanks for reading!

If you, or anyone you know, would like to join us as: email us at girlonthebusza@gmail.com or send us a message on our social media!

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#SHADY: If it’s Yellow, Let it Mellow or Make it Glow!

Ramadaan is a time to rest your body and recharge your spirit.

Taken from @mcoswalt on Unsplash
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Our tiny little chunk of rock (that’s how I like to think of Earth) has witnessed many great changes in a truly short amount of time. In my January post, I spoke about the fickle game we all play – time – and how we’re all born into this never ceasing rat race. Sometimes we just need a break. A break from toxic people, harmful places, scary thoughts… something to help us recover and relax. This is what I associate the blessed Islamic month of Ramadaan with.

Ramadaan is one of the months that form part of the Islamic lunar calendar. It is during this month that Muslims engage in compulsory fasting and abstaining from food and drink during the daylight hours. The fast is broken at sunset when the sky is red and is resumed in the morning before the sun rises.

Trust me though, this month is so spiritually spiced and human beings are created with such unknown resilience that your body and mind soon adapt to the changes. And as every Muslim will have you know, you might not be eating during the day, yet people pack on the most weight in these 30 days because of those delicious savouries, sweets and hearty dishes served at fast break (get it, breakfast).

E/N: I do not condone such corny jokes, and would like to not be associated with such behaviour…

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But this seemingly sudden change is more than just ‘starving’ ourselves. This abstinence extends to other worldly pleasures that can sometimes weigh down on us. These pleasures differ between people and cultures. For me, I take this month as a time to refrain from swearing (especially when I drive), chocolates, delaying my prayers for other things, and spending hours watching reaction videos about Nickacado Avocado.

Remember that spiritual spice I spoke about? Yes! The Almighty did not hold back, and this period is simply filled with opportunities to achieve great blessings, ask for forgiveness, make amends, and set goals for the rest of the year ahead.

Ramadaan is a time to rest your body and recharge your spirit.

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How often are we not made to simply accept situations that allow us to live materialistically in this world. A temporary world, nonetheless. We hustle so hard and never reach contentment, because we’re forced to believe that what we have is never, and will never, be enough. We sacrifice our souls, our hearts – and for what? A fleeting sense of admiration, until we become yesterday’s news.

Your heart, your soul, that connection to your greater purpose, is not worth sacrificing by tethering yourself to this tiny, little chunk of rock. Which is a temporary rock, nonetheless.

Even if you are not observing Ramadaan, make the intention to take your emotions into account and be more mindful of your spiritual and mental and emotional state for the rest of the year. That gut feeling is not all in your head, love.

Take a leap of faith, respect your journey, nourish your mind with knowledge and repair your soul with letting go of your earthly tether, if only but for a moment. Stay hydrated!

Taken from @monstercritic on Unsplash

Thanks for reading!

If you, or anyone you know, would like to join us as: email us at girlonthebusza@gmail.com or send us a message on our social media!

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#SHADY:When the Little Mermaid Talked Back🧜🏼‍♀️

Losing your voice for a man? Girl, no🧜🏼‍♀️.

Image: @tonyzebastian on Unsplash

Losing your voice for a man? Girl, no.

I might be looking too deep into this scenario, but Ariel literally losing her voice in order to be with a guy she had an apparent meet-cute with is not it, sis. Your voice is more than just the noise you make when someone puts a dirty plate in the sink just as you’re done with the dishes. It’s more than the noise you make when your period cramps decide to go full kamikaze on your insides. Your voice is not to be hidden, not to be held back, and not to be sacrificed for any reason.

Language and communication is an exceptionally powerful tool – and one that women have the potential to become masters in.

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Look at Farahneez Hassiem, teaching Deaf Muslims to recite the glorious chapters of the Qur’an. Aisha bint Abu Bakr (May Allah be pleased with her) who unfearfully taught men the beauty of Islam with great zest and passion. Nusaybah bint Ka’ab, who used her intellect, emotions and bad-assery to fight alongside and protect the Prophet Muhammad (May Allah be pleased with him). Lucy Edwards who makes YouTube videos on her daily life as a blind woman. Jasmine Alicia Carter using her menstrual blood to create daring pieces of art.

A woman talks back, thinks back, gives back – but never goes back on her word or looks back with regret. Nor gives her voice to a creepy witch. Nope, nope, nope.

That brings me to my next point. Ursula, a scorned woman (probably, I have a theory) seemingly goes out of her way to make the lives of other merfolk a misery. Evil becomes her. How often do we not hear of women being abused by their parents? And when left unresolved, they carry this generational abuse with them by either becoming abusers themselves or falling prey to abusive relationships. I’m not trying to defend Ursula as the villain of the film, but perhaps she is an adult bully trying to call for help – how many of us are not lashing out? Perhaps our default response of “it’s not that bad, it’ll get better” to those tough times is becoming absolute in these uncertain and stressful times.

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My final thoughts – a real woman does not sacrifice who she is for anyone. A real woman does not damper her thoughts, which Allah has masterfully created and perfected. A real woman does not hurt other women. A real woman helps other women receive the correct and needed mental health help. A real woman lives her life, fully and with grace… being humble, being at peace. Acknowledging that she can be a b!tch, admitting when she had done wrong, accepting criticism and forgiving others.

In short, don’t be like me and over-analyse an ancient Disney princess movie. But please do. And then write about it and submit it to us at girlonthebusza@gmail.com (everyone loves a product plug-in).

Above all else, polish your soul with faith. Nourish your heart with love. Protect your mind with knowledge. And stay hydrated!

Image: @localio on Tumblr
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Thanks for reading!

If you, or anyone you know, would like to join us as: email us at girlonthebusza@gmail.com or send us a message on our social media!