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.
You were born into a very complicated world my sweetheart. At a very challenging time. In January 2020 you fought your way into this world, bruised eye and all, and in January a little thing called the Coronavirus (Covid-19) started to spread around the world. Now, I’m not going to dive into this too much as I’m sure one day you will learn about it in history, science, biology and most likely health classes.
I do want to tell you a little about you though. I had a vegan pregnancy with you. My only vegan pregnancy out of the 4 kids. Don’t worry, I took all my vitamins and was regularly checked up by a doctor who was happy with my blood work and your progression throughout the 37 weeks, 5 days that you stayed inside baking. I put on about 14kg in total and you weighed in at a very healthy, 3.86kg. You were born with an almighty black eye my girl. You were lying right up against my left hip bone which, I think, must have been painful you as much as it was for me. I’m sorry.
You are the last (yes, the last) of 4 kiddos. You have 2 older sisters who are obsessed with you, and an older brother who is obsessed with making you smile. And a mom and dad who feel so very lucky to have been Blessed with you. You have been such a gift during this time. You have no idea what’s going on around you and with all this social distancing going on, you are completely (and blissfully) unaware that there is a world out there beyond the walls of our home. But there is, and it’s a beautiful one, and it is a terrifying one.
My prayer for you precious child:
Heavenly Father, you have blessed our lives with this sweet baby girl whose innocent face and daily laughter remind us of your good intentions for us. May her life be filled with your blessings and grace that will always light up her face. Lead her to you oh Lord, and may she dwell in your place forever. Amen.
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:
I found this New York Times #1 Bestseller gently sitting on the shelf of our local book store here in Kuwait. Lucky for me they had two left. I bought one for each of my girls and I’m so glad I did. I hope my girls read through their books often over the years and I hope that they remember that, above all, they are dearly loved for who they are and not for who they aren’t.
Here are a few pics from the book without giving too much away, but if you have a little girl, then this book is a MUST.
Now I just need to get my hands on the Dear Boy book.
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.
A lifetime ago, when I worked full time (and then some) for an amazing architecture firm in DC, we talked a lot about mentorship. There was always the debate about what was better, organic mentorship or assigned mentors. I can see it both ways. I personally prefer to mentor, and be mentored by, people I’m drawn to. Alternatively, what happens to those that don’t really connect or are too shy to put themselves out there to be mentored?
For better or for worse, my firm chose the organic approach in mentoring, as with design in general. It became a sink or swim situation for people; a culture that you either fit in or you didn’t – and you simply moved on. In addition to mentorship, we used to discuss personality types. The thought process was if you understood where your bosses, peers, or subordinates were coming from, then you would know how to relate to them better. Again, this was a part of forming the firm’s culture.
Even though I’m no longer in the workforce, I still find these concepts relevant and important to cultivating healthy relationships. I also believe love languages play an important role in how we can learn truly love the people in our lives. They way they prefer to be (as opposed to the way we prefer).
My mentor, Anita and I talk about this a lot. She shared with me that their family took the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) test to identify each individual’s personality types and the results helped refine how they relate as a family. It was a revelation! Using what we know about my-ENFP-self, my ESTP husband, and our boys, we can learn to adjust what we do (and how we might prefer to do it!) to create an environment where they thrive and develop into who they are meant to be.
Just like in the firm setting these tools can help us form the culture of our families. From the things we prioritize and value to how we relate to each other. Each child is different and often what works for one does not work for the other, but hey they are our kids, we don’t want them to leave our firm…
er family, due to the culture!
Let’s make the decision to mentor and motivate our kids, love them they way the receive it best, and relate to their specific personalities. Then we can be a generation of families that raise each other up, honor our differences, and spread love.