Well, we did it! In fact we did it in the beginning of the year and I had a post all ready to go to shout it to the world in January and then I had a baby and then the world shut down. But now, as I find myself slowly getting life in some sort of resemblance of order again, I am just so pleased to share this amazing news with you all and above all to thank each and everyone one of you who made a donation or offered up your prayers. Together and ONLY together, we did it.
To anybody out there who is still reading this delightful blog, I’m sorry we have been rather quiet. To say there has been a lot going on is an extreme understatement.
In January our gorgeous little girl was born, the Coronavirus took over and the world changed. Kuwait went into level 4 lock-down from March, April and in May went to level 5 for 3 weeks. We have since dropped back to level 4 for 3 weeks now and are eagerly awaiting the further drop to level 3 and for things to open up a little more.
So, what has your lock-down looked like?
Ours looks a little like this:
– Husband working from make shift office at home
– lots of e-learning
– complete lack of structure and zero bed time
– garden time
– pool time
– baby, baby and more baby
– Coronavirus news overload
– constant cooking and baking
– constant cleaning and eating
– clothes that don’t fit anymore (anyone else have kids in clothing 2 sizes too small at the moment?)
– puzzles, puzzles and more puzzles
– afternoon movies and night swimming
I would love to hear from you all, what are you doing these days to make the most of this challenging situation? As things open up in your countries, what are the first things you’re going to be doing? When Kuwait moved to level 4, 3 weeks ago, and the drive by Starbucks opened up, the queues were miles long for days on end. Today I joined one of them and had my first latte in 4 months.
Now don’t laugh, but other than painting, I actually ordered coloured felt and thread to make the kids little felt craft creations over the summer. Right now, I’m in the stage of looking up cute creations and expecting them to magically create themselves. I can’t sew you see, why on earth did I choose a sewing craft when I can’t sew? Oh, to learn a new skill apparently! Ha!
Side note: I have actually really been very thankful for this down time. We have been one of the lucky ones in all this. We have food on our table, a roof over our heads and my husband still has his wonderful, stable job. We are healthy and happy and above all, we are together. We have had more family time now than ever before. My heart and prayers go up to those who are not safe at home but rather trapped at home in abusive households and to those who have lost income and livelihoods. The overwhelming number of those starving and depressed is beyond anything I can actually comprehend and it breaks my heart. So lets be thankful and collectively look around us with open eyes to see where and how we can make a difference, no matter how big or small.
I first met Melody when she came to one of our photography walkabouts here in Kuwait. At the time, she stood out to me because of her warm friendly smile and open personality. In that moment, I had no idea of who she was, only that something inside me made me want to get to know her better. Fast forward a few years and this beautiful soul has truly left her mark on many woman in Kuwait and abroad, including myself.
She is a true leader in her field and one of the most decent and inspiring individuals I have ever met.
Melody has been in the US military, specifically the air force, for 19 years already, and her heart has been in Middle East relations for most of that. As a woman in the air force she has had to fly against the wind (excuse the pun) for most of that journey trying to carve out her own path in a very male dominant industry. She has been remarkable in further supporting other women in military, both US and Kuwaiti. Melody started the Lean In initiative in Kuwait which has been literally life changing for women in business in the Middle East. It is a network of women who come together to uplift and support one another in a safe, open circle.
Through her work with both the US and Kuwaiti women in service she has been able to debunk some preconceived ideas that many people have about woman in the region. She shines a light on how strong and respected women really are. Granted it hasn’t always been that way, but she highlights and builds on these positive changes in today’s society.
We had the most wonderful conversation around us as women learning how to be our true authentic selves and, more specifically, what it means. Men help each other out, they lift each other up automatically, and women need to do the same! Both Katie and I have this deep desire to do just that – lift one another up. And thankfully this blog has given us a platform to highlight remarkable women in business and in life, remarkable women like Melody!
Bridging the gap between men and women in business, her main piece of advice for women is, “don’t try to simulate the way a man would do business, we are not little men, we are women and we come with our own unique, highly valuable qualities and need to be appreciated for who we are.“ – Man I love this chick!
This incredibly strong, talented lady was asked to participate in the TEDx talk at AUK in Kuwait and I encourage you to take a listen to the link below. It’s so worth the time. Well done Melody and so well spoken too!
I’m excited to see where this amazing individual ends up next, the itsacolourfulworld team wishes her all the best – rise and shine!
My dad, Brian McCrindle, is not only my personal hero, but also a hero and father figure to many others.
My dad was always the first person that someone would call on when they needed help, he would always be there for someone in need at the drop of a hat. Dad is the eldest of four boys and the true patriarch of our family. He was a man who always looked after his health, ate right and exercised all throughout his life, the picture of perfect health. He was an Iron Man athlete, a veteran Comrades Marathon (89km) runner, an avid cyclist, a swimmer and an all round sportsman.
On 24 June, 2018, dad had a bicycle accident and broke his neck. Dad is now a quadriplegic. During his months in ICU where he fought for his life, his true athletic spirit really came to the foreground. Through desperate prayers, a fantastic medical team and around-the-clock care from his devoted and loving wife, Anne, dad has now reached a point where he is able to breathe by himself during the day while making use of breathing support during the night. He is still paralyzed from the shoulders down but is going for extensive physiotherapy and rehabilitation every other day, with rest days in between when his lungs need it. The most amazing thing about this human being has been his sense of humor through it all and his truly heroic, admirable spirit. Dad has the most amazing mental strength. Not once has he felt sorry for himself, not once has he asked “why me?” Not once!
Anne has been a God send. I will never have enough thanks in me to give her for the love and care she gives my dad.
Her precious life with my father changed in a split second, but she too has not once wavered from her love and devotion to him. The life they once shared together was filled with weekly adventures and new experiences. Their days look a little different now, but side by side they remain.
My father was in ICU for almost a year. Needless to say, his medical treatments do not come cheap and private medical insurance can only take you so far. All of the ongoing monthly medical expenses pose a real challenge, as one would expect for an injury as severe as dad’s. With him needing a wheelchair for everything, everyday, their little yellow Honda Jazz isn’t quite sufficient enough to get them around very comfortably anymore.
That above said, aside from monthly medical costs that dad still needs to cover, it is my goal to try and raise enough money to buy a wheelchair friendly vehicle for him by this coming Christmas so as to give him a bit more comfort and ease with his mobility challenges. What an amazing gift that would be. The goal is to buy a pre-owned Fiat Doblo panel van vehicle which has been kitted out with a wheel chair conversion kit which will cost R345 000 / $22 697.
If you find that it is within your means to help raise this money to get Brian mobile again after everything he has been through, and constantly goes through each day, then please do consider supporting this initiative, and please help spread the word.
Today I couldn’t be prouder to bring you the story of one of my personal heroes:
I met Mirella back in 2007 when I first moved to Kuwait, we worked together. A kind, sweet, funny, spirited young lady who had already, even at that time, overcome so many challenges in life, with ultimate grace. I was always so impressed with the fighting spirit that lived inside her, clear to those who truly knew her, perhaps not even clear to her at the time.
About 3 years into our friendship, Mirella moved to Canada and within a few short years, her life was turned inside out, and up side down and somewhere between Canada and Lebanon she has managed to land strongly on her feet, and in a way that very few people would be able to replicate.
Today she is but a shadow of her former self and for all the right reasons. I am so incredibly proud of this woman and I will be telling the story of her to my daughters in the years to come.
Below is a Q&A from Mirella in her own words, sharing her story with me in more detail and with our readers. Enjoy!
Tell our readers a little bit about you? My name is Mirella Atallah I’m Lebanese, I immigrated to Canada a few years ago. I work at an IT company as an Internal Senior Designer and I am currently studying digital marketing and social media.
I am a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. This is a huge part of my life and an integral part of my journey to a good and healthy lifestyle.
Life has been hard, I’ve moved many countries, had to come face to face with a bad long term relationship and dealt with many health issues along the way.
What was your lowest moment and what was your highest? Lowest – 40 years old, broke, divorced, no kids and no clue what comes next. Highest – I would say the same moment because this was when I realised that I was free and the sky was my only limit, I packed my bags and left chasing my dreams.
Where do you think your fighting spirit has come from?Many people in your situation would have just given up on themselves and accepted that life has simply handed them a raw deal. I’m not sure were this spirit came from! I think of myself as a very stubborn person and I never accept failure as an outcome! I always manage to lift myself up after each fall! I’m not perfect, so many tears I’ve cried and felt like life is just closing its doors on me but something deep inside always says: no you have to try again, if you don’t try you won’t know! After each fall I stand up, dust off the dirt and keep going!
How has your past shaped you? It has made me tougher, definitely, but not angrier. I feel I still trust people and the world and feel there should be good out there, I just have to believe! Some people may think I’m silly but like I said I’m stubborn and I’m sure something good is hidden out there for me, I just have to keep digging.
What motivates you? Being able to inspire people! My main goal is to be a role model to my nieces and let them believe that they can be what ever they want to or go where ever they want they to go, they just have to work hard for it.
10 year challenge – what has been your biggest change in yourself within the last 10 years? I’m happy again.
What advice could you give someone going through similar struggles? Keep dreaming and believing, there are no age restrictions, you can do whatever you want, whenever you want, NOW is the perfect time to start!
How did you get into Jiu-Jitsu? I was a kick-boxer for around 4 years and got bored a bit and felt it was dangerous to compete not a fan of getting hit in the face and getting a concussion! I have always been curious about Jiu-Jitsu specially after I started watching UFC and watching JSP (he is Canadian) and he trains at the same gym where I did! I hesitated a lot for 4years because I was overweight and one day I decided to try it and I got hooked! Went through a lot of emotional and physical challenges but never stopped!
How has Jiu-Jitsu helped you? Jiu-Jitsu is my meditation, the only way I can find calm and clear my head believe it or not! It made me stronger! I Learned to be a problem solver and to think fast! Physically it made me ageless along with strong! I lost so much weight since that first class! I have never felt better.
What is your favourite thing about the sport? I love everything about it! I cant pick one thing! Even with my lowest moments and I think that I’m not improving and having a bad game day, I still feel that I love everything about it! If I go on vacation the first thing I look for is a place to train! Jiu-Jitsu has a great community, you are always supported everywhere you go! We are a big family!
What are your goals for the future? My dream is to get my black belt in Jiu-Jitsu in 4years from now! And get to a stage in my life were Im able to work and teach, specifically to women in the Middle East! I would like to create camps and teach self defence to women and kids.
If you find Mirella as inspiring as I do, follow her journey on Instagram at:
This year has been marked by loss for both Lindy-Ann and myself. As we all struggle to process our way through these difficult times and cope with our own temporariness, I have been overwhelmed with life lessons. Things I have taken away from the lives of those we have lost, watching the people around me process through their grief, and best of all seeing how good truly can come from tragedy and loss.
From a grandfather who is finally at rest after a period of struggling, I learned that it truly is important to invest in your family to form loving and lasting connections that withstand distance and time. To not allow one day to pass without your people knowing you truly love them and they are worthy. We were never meant to live isolated, and the technology of today can be harnessed to keep families connected regardless of distance.
From a beloved uncle, as you may have read, I learned that the way you live matters and impacts people more than you will ever know. Leaving a legacy of love and faith with your family and friends will help them heal and grow through the pain of the loss of you.
Then there is the tragedy of a young mother sacrificing her life for her child. Last September, Arlene blew into our communitylike a warm, floral scented, tropical breeze. Everyone who met her says the same thing: she was was full of life. She lived and loved vibrantly and with passion. Her kind heart and her willingness to be vulnerable and open drew people to her and she was able to share her faith and passions with them.
Our paths were weaved through volunteering at school, Bible Study and church. I also had the honor of capturing her family’s love last fall in their first ever family photo session. It was a fun seaside session with laughter, cuddles, and jumping for joy.
For the second time this year I was reminded that my job goes beyond just a nice picture on a wall, it captures a moment in family’s life to be treasured, especially in loss.
Which leads me to the first thing I learned from Arlene:
1. Capture the moments with you in it: as I worked on the slideshow for her memorial service I was thankful for two things: the accessibility of Facebook and the way Arlene captured her life. Even though the majority of them were iPhone photos and selfies, she had documented her life and the people she loved. It will be a comfort to her family, especially her children as they grow. It has challenged me to pass my camera off a little more and care a little less about how I look in photos for the sake of my boys. We photogs need to be intentional about being in the photos, not just taking them.
2. Let your light shine: Arlene’s light shone brightly through her smile and her positive attitude; and she shared that with those she loved. The legacy she is leaving her children is one of faith, love, kindness, and living life to the fullest. At the memorial service and in the past few days, everyone agrees that Arlene had a special light about her and, I can tell you, it was supernatural. We all need to let our lights shine brightly and spread that love to others.
3. Don’t procrastinate life: In his speech at the memorial service, Arlene’s husband Joseph challenged us with two things: 1) have the tough conversation with your significant other about your final wishes and 2) intentionally schedule and spend quality time with your loved ones. He reminded us that tomorrow is not guaranteed – we can’t push things this important off to later date that may never come.
How do you want to be remembered? What do you want your family, friends, and community to say about you? It may sound morbid, but if we are truly meant to fight the good fight, and finish the race well, then the day to day does mean something. Your daily choices make up your life and build the legacy you will leave behind.
My hope is, that at my memorial party (which will be a pub filled with revelry and good beer – just saying), the attendees will say I lived boldy, loved deeply, laughed often, gave good hugs, and was His hands and feet. I want to leave my boys with a legacy of faith and truth, the power of prayer, and importance of a good belly laugh. In the midst of the sadness of loss, there has to be laughter in the memories of what has passed and hope in what is to come.
What’s in a Rose? Usually, it’s a symbol of love. We give roses to people to show them that we love them, to let them know we are thinking of them, and perhaps that we wish them a speedy recovery. It is also a popular flower come Mother’s Day.
This rose is very special to me. You see, 9 years ago, I had sent my mother flowers for Mother’s Day. She saw them, smelled them, they made her smile, they sat lovingly in our home. I was in Kuwait and my mom was in and out of hospital at the time, but doing pretty well considering three years of failing health. A few weeks later she was booked in for major surgery, I sent her more flowers. roses. They made it to her, she saw them. And then I received a phone call in the middle of the night that no one wants to get. “Your mom is struggling, they don’t think she’s going to make it” I was on the first available flight home and as I landed, headed straight to the hospital from the airport. I made it in time to hold her hand and rub her feet as she slowly lost her very loose grip on this life. Finally when I made it home to the house in the early hours of the following morning, I saw the big bouquet of roses that I had bought for her only a few days before.
I picked one of these roses, placed it in her sunglass case and kept it safe all these years. The rose we had both laid eyes on. Like a weak substitute since our own eyes never got to meet again.
This Mother’s Day, as I remember the rose that I lost, I also celebrate the rose that I have become to my 3 beautiful children and more so, I celebrate the roses that stepped up to comfort me and lead me from that day on. My mother-in-law, my stepmom, my grandmother, my friends, my great aunts, my close circle. My bouquet of people.
So today I write this post to honour ALL moms out there, the ones with children who are naturally theirs, the ones with babies still in their bellies, the ones who have lost angels in their wombs, the ones who choose to parent blessed adopted children, the ones who have suffered the unspeakable loss of a child, the ones who become stepmothers, mothers-in-law, grandmothers, the ones who become mother figures to friends, the ones who mother their communities with love and pride.
Mothers come in all different ways, shapes and forms, but one thing is without doubt, they are to be truly treasured and appreciated every single day.
I was 11 years old when I started playing squash. As kids, my brother and I would sit and watch my mom and dad play and one day we picked up rackets and started to fool around on the courts ourselves. At first I was completely and utterly useless. I would literally swing at the ball and miss every time. I got it in my head, however, that this was something I really wanted to learn how to do. My brother refused to play me because I was so bad. But I slowly learnt to hit the ball, and eventually that ball made it to the front wall, and back again. My mom signed us up for the kids academy and over time I went from strength to strength. My brother still didn’t want to play against me, but this time it was because I started beating him!
As a child and teenager, I went on to play in provincial tournaments representing my region and at my very best, 17 years of age, I reached a ranking of 14th in South Africa for the under 19 girls age group. It was such a big part of my youth and weaved itself into the very fibre of who I am today.
Setting aside the trophies and the titles, my favourite memories of the game were playing my mom. Her and I played in the same women’s team together, myself as player 1 and her as player 3. It became our thing, once a week, without fail, we would head off to our games together. I loved playing against her too. I wore my teenage ego with pride. It really brought us together and as much as we would have our arguments, we always knew that we could hash it out on the court! Looking back, I think it was most likely the stand out element in our relationship that bound us together.
I finished school. Started working. Moved countries. She passed away. I had children. I got sick. Squash became a distant memory, a distant joy. I needed to get my head around this new version of myself. Slowly but surly I am doing that. And with the pockets of relief that my medication brings me, I am starting to get back into this beautiful, feisty game. And it brings me so much joy!
I feel so close to my mom every time I walk towards those courts. And now with my 7yr old and 5.5 yr old daughters, I feel I am coming full circle. I will be taking them to their first squash lesson on Saturday. I’m desperately hoping they like it but don’t want to force them into it either. If it’s not this it will be something else. What matters to me, is finding something that I can do with my kids one day.
I have come full circle on the court too. I used to be the young, energy-filled kid playing against the adults, giving them a decent run for their money and now I find myself playing kids like this, playing their hearts out. I am so envious of their energy yet I’m thankful for the skills I have held on to. I feel old for sure. But I feel so much joy for the multifaceted role Squash has played in my life.
I simply can’t imagine a Lindy-Ann without Squash. I hope this post encourages you to let your kids be free to explore whatever sport, interest or extra curricular activity your child shows an interest in. And find a way to get involved with them. You never know, it may end up being one of those character defining elements in their lives too. All because of the extra support of a parent.
As a photographer, and an expat myself, it is my heart to capture my client’s stories for them to share with their loved ones far away and memorialize them as they were at this time, in this place. For those back home, they will get a sense of the setting and how much kids have grown. For the families it will be how they remind their children of where they have been and reminisce about friends and experiences they made while they were there.
This is exactly what my friend, Mel, wanted when she asked me photograph her children before they moved this past summer. She had her older two photographed before they moved to Israel, and now they were closing their chapter here as a family of five.
About a year ago my husband was flying solo at an event and met this lovely Australian couple. He came home and told me all about them and that I would really dig her. He was super impressed with her braving the summer heat of the Israel in her third trimester. He was so right, Mel is is one brave, kind, and fun-loving gal. Her laugh is infectious and she is always willing to help anyone in need. Needless to say I was honored to do the session.
Location: Herzliya Beach, Tel Aviv, Israel
Date and time: June 8:00am
Weather: Bright & Sunny
The spot I chose has this great garden and rock formation before you walk all way to the sea. It has since become one of my favorite spots. It is perfect for getting some extra texture and colors, in addition to the tans of sand and the blues of the sea. Not to mention, kids cannot help but be the pulled to the waves and play with the sand, so starting on grass is helpful. The shots we captured here are some of my favorites, the sibling love is overwhelmingly adorable!
Often times when shooting children I use the goofball technique to help them let their guard down, but another way to do this is by using props. I suggest the kids bring any special toys we could photograph with them, putting them at ease as well as capturing the memory of the toy. Mel’s gorgeous littles each brought their most treasured stuffed animals, which are really special because these stuffies are “tragedy teds” received during hospitalizations and they can’t be replaced by look alikes! I was told they are not allowed to travel with them because if they lost them it would be forever. Gah, are they the sweetest!
Once we made it to the sand and most of the posing was over, the real fun began for all of us. I encouraged them to jump, do cartwheels, play in the sand, and simply let them be kids.
Overall, I adore this session on so many levels: the colors, their coordinated outfits, getting to bond with each of them separately and truly seeing each personality, and above all the sibling love!
I am so grateful when I walk away from sessions like this when I feel inspired and impassioned – knowing that one day they will look at these images to remember their life here fondly. That one day came a few months ago when I awoke to whatsapp’s from Australia with photos of new canvases mounted, and my heart swelled! This is why I do what I do. These are the clients remind me of that! Thank you Mel!!
Lesson learned: Our session was the first day of summer vacation so I had my oldest home with me as my “assistant.” Little lesson learned here, even if your client is super cool with your kiddo being there (and Mel was), for me, it is distracting. Maybe when he his older he can join me as a second shooter, but I will wait a few years. On the flip side it is fun for him to see what I do and hear him tell people that his mom takes “really good pictures.”
We have about 18 months before the DeeGees close our Israel chapter and I can hardly believe it! If you are in Tel Aviv area and want to capture your family’s time here I would love to chat!
A few posts ago I mentioned how lucky we are to learn something from the people that we meet along this path of life. This morning I met Ruth, she is American and her family have been in Kuwait for 16 years. Our conversations with her were wonderful and she was an abundant source of experience and encouragement. The best advice I got this year by far, (yes I know it’s still only January) came from her.
If you have children who struggle with telling on each other, especially when you have more than 2 small ones in the house, (there’s extra chaos and so many more stories to tell mom about), buy a big glass jar. Buy enough marbles to fill this jar. Every time one of the kids tells on a sibling for doing something good or kind, they get to put a marble in the jar. When the jar is filled, the family does something special, like go out bowling or go to the movies.
When I heard this tip, I had one of those “why didn’t I think of that” moments, as it seems so simple, I imagine it to be quite effective. I will most certainly be trying this in my home and I will report back on how it goes. We may open it up to more than just acts of kindness on those desperate days like, “Fine! If you finish your pasta you can put a marble in the jar”. Yup, I can see that happening, but I will do my best to try stick to the plan.
I would encourage you to try it as well and I’d love to know how you find it and if/how it works for your household. In addition, if you have any extra tips to encourage kindness between siblings and less tattle-tailing, I’d love to hear them, please post in the comments below.
Cheers to global parenting, it takes a village after all.