Patience 

Guilty as charged. Bang went my promise of a blog post every night, the plans of cooking nutritional meals for me to regain my strength and the pep talk I gave myself about not being crabby when hungry. It has all flown straight out of the window.
We’re now on day 18 and I cannot begin to describe how proud I am for getting this far. At the start of Ramadan, day 18 seemed a million miles away, and here we are, with less that two weeks to go until Eid, and I’ve managed every single day.
The one thing I have noticed more than anything this year is the isolation. That has played the biggest part in why I haven’t blogged for so long. It is difficult enough living in a community which isn’t predominantly Muslim, as going about your everyday business, you could be forgiven for thinking that the days of Ramadan are just like any other. The isolation goes deeper though when you find yourself breaking your fast alone every night. For me there has been no extravagant meals. It seems pointless to make that extra effort when I cannot manage more than a plateful of food. The children have eaten a good few hours prior by that point, and I don’t want to cook more than necessary and have it go to waste.
Last year’s diet was mainly a small bowl of soup followed by some fried eggs. This year, I seem to be surviving on noodles. Quick and easy to make, just the right portion size and satisfyingly filling. I went one step further last night and followed it up with an egg sandwich, but by 9.30pm I am honestly past the point of hunger and just want to quench my thirst.
The isolation I have been feeling had led to me becoming slightly depressed and withdrawn. I would leave it until the last minute to leave home each morning to take the kids to school, and upon my return, shut myself off from the world until it was time to drag myself back out again in the afternoon. I wanted to interact with my friends, but realised my energy levels were sapping because I’d not had a decent meal for sahur. I was aware my breath wasn’t the most fragrant, and I found myself avoiding contact because I couldn’t be bothered to make the effort.
I missed the atmosphere of the holy month that I had been so used to in Istanbul in previous years. I missed the bustling conversation over the iftar meal on an evening. I missed listening to the drummer walking the streets in the early hours waking people up before sunrise. I felt resentful at my situation and I felt very alone.
The biggest lesson I have been taught over the past month is patience. Nothing in this life lasts forever. Every emotion we feel, every event we anticipate and every step we take is temporary. I constantly looked for a purpose, for an answer as to what I was doing with my life. I wondered when I would get my break, my good news and my focus. I had prayed so much to Allah knowing that prayers were so much more important in the holy month, and yet each day I woke with the same heavy heart and tired mind.
Today was the day I was to receive my good news and indeed, my prayers and patience had paid off. I received news that I had been accepted onto the undergraduate university course of my dreams. So many things had previously hindered me from studying for the career path I’d had in my mind since childhood. There in front of me was the email confirming my acceptance and I cried. I had done it. Despite the odds being stacked high of being a single mum to three children, going through a messy divorce and learning to stand on her own two feet again, I had done it. I had achieved what I’d set my heart on.
The first person I wanted to call was my mum. I wanted to scream down the phone and tell her my good news. I wanted to tell my Dad and show him that I was going to make him proud. I sat and looked around me and realised that the two people who would know just how much this meant to me, weren’t even there anymore and that hurt. 
I couldn’t get to school quickly enough this afternoon to tell my children. My girls were so happy for me, but their biggest worry was who would look after them when I would be studying. It was an understandable reaction after the upheaval of the past year. I then went to collect my son from his school, and his reaction was the best I could have ever wished for. He shouted for joy and gave me the biggest cuddle ever, with a smile beaming across his face. He knew just how much I wanted this, and what I didn’t have in terms of my parents celebrating with me, he certainly more than made up for it.
Today I got my purpose, something for myself. Today I learnt the lesson to never give up. So many days I felt I didn’t have the strength or determination any more. So many times I questioned when I would reap my rewards. Today my faith and beliefs were reconfirmed because I believe that this is my reward for never giving up.
I have my focus back, my motivation and more importantly, my smile. 

Sunscreen 

I spent a lot of time today talking to a very good friend of mine- a girl who knows me inside out, has been with me through the best and worst days of my life and knows my biggest secrets. She contacted me as she was worried how I was after reading yesterday’s post. I told her my fears, my worries about never finding happiness, my thoughts about my efforts not being good enough. 
She is a girl that is always straight with me. She will never tell me something because it’s what I want to hear, she will give me the stark honest truth whether I like it or not. She told me to listen to the Baz Lurhman ‘Sunscreen’ song, and take from it what I could. The lyrics are extremely powerful for a song that was a novelty hit 20 years ago. 
“Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth, oh, never mind
. You will never understand the power
 and the beauty of your youth until they’ve faded. 
But trust me, in twenty years
, you will look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now, 
how much possibility lay before you
 and how fabulous you really looked
. You are not as fat as you imagine.
Don’t worry about the future or worry that know that worrying is as affective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum
. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things
 that never crossed your worried mind
. The kind that blindsides you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday

Do one thing every day that scares you, sing
Don’t be reckless with other peoples’ hearts
Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours, floss
. Don’t waste your time on jealousy
. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind
. The race is long and in the end, it’s only with yourself

Remember compliments you receive, forget the insults
. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how
. Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements, stretch. Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what to do with your life
The most interesting people 
I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives
. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t
. Get plenty of calcium
. Be kind to knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t
Maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t
. Maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the “Funky Chicken”
 on your 75th wedding anniversary
. Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much
 or berate yourself either
. Your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s.

Enjoy your body, use it every way you can
Don’t be afraid of it or what other people think of it
. It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own, dance. 
Even if you have nowhere to do it but your own living room
. Read the directions even if you don’t follow them
. Do not read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly.

Brother and sister together will make it through
. Someday a spirit will take you and guide you there. 
I know you’ve been hurting, but I’ve been waiting to be there for you
. And I’ll be there just helping you out, whenever I can.

Get to know your parents, you never know when they’ll be gone for good. 
Be nice to your siblings, they are your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future. 
Understand that friends come and go
, but a precious few, who should hold on.

Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle
, for as the older you get, the more you need the people
 you knew when you were young
. Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard.
Live in northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.

Travel, accept certain inalienable truths. Prices will rise, politicians will philander, you too will get old
. And when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were young
prices were reasonable, politicians were noble
 and children respected their elders

Respect your elders, don’t expect anyone else to support you
. Maybe you have a trust fund, maybe you’ll have a wealthy spouse, but you’ll never know when either one will run out
. Don’t mess too much with your hair or by the time you’re forty
, it will look eighty-five
. Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it.

Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of
 wishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off
, painting over the ugly parts and recycling for more than it’s worth. 
But trust me on the sunscreen.

Brother and sister together will make it through, oh yeah
. Someday a spirit will take you and guide you there. 
I know you’ve been hurting, but I’ve been waiting to be there for you
. And I’ll be there just helping you out, whenever I can.”

I think we can all take something from those lyrics. One day, for all of us, it will be far too late. Too late for anything anymore. To have that one last dance, that one last chat, that one last chance to tell someone what they mean to you. Don’t live in regret, don’t live a life of ‘what ifs’. Be thankful for every breath you take, because every breath is one more closer to being your last. 

What is love?

Everybody has a different idea as to what love is. There is no right or wrong. However, there are a few fundamental notions that I can think most people can agree with. Love is honesty and trust, a mutual respect, a willing to help one another and a connection of two hearts.
People are all too quick to complicate the idea of love. It is a feeling of not wanting to hurt that special person in your life, being accepting of their hopes and dreams and wanting to work with them to achieve all they desire. Love is something that is cultivated between two people and grows over time, through getting to know him or her and experiencing life’s many ups and downs together.
Love doesn’t have to be as it’s portrayed in films, where couples are in their own little indestructible bubble, where they never argue about leaving dirty washing on the floor or about who is responsible for the washing up. Of course the kind love we see on television is just an illusion, but that doesn’t mean that love isn’t any less real or obtainable.
It’s about finding a connection with someone for whom you’re happy when they’re happy, you hurt when they’re hurting and when you’re in their company, it feels like home. Love doesn’t have to be splashed all over social media. If something isn’t shared, it doesn’t mean progress isn’t being made. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Why does the rest of the world need to know your relationship status when you should be focusing your attention on that rather than worrying how many likes your latest loved up post will rack up.
I have made so many mistakes when it came to what I thought was love. I was just 20 years old when I got married, a mere three months after we met. I didn’t know what love was, I was young and naive and thought that I had been swept off my feet. On the outside the relationship was a fairytale, but there were major problems from the offset. I was too scared to burst the bubble, worrying about being alone and losing the person that I thought loved me unconditionally. 
My faith over the years helped me to keep strong. Muslims believe that Allah does not give you any more burden than what you can handle. So many times I thought I would crumble. So many times I questioned why I was being put through so much hurt and upset. I wondered what I had done to deserve such a turbulent and broken marriage.
This time last year, in fact around the second or third night of fasting, I finally realised that what I had thought was love all these years, was in fact not love at all. I don’t need to go into detail, but on this one particular night, I learnt exactly what love was not. That was the moment that I had been waiting for- my realisation, my escape and my chance at building on the lie I had been exposed to for all those years.
Since then, the love I have towards my faith has increased remarkably. I realised that I was tested all those years because Allah was waiting for me to recognise my strength and courage. I lived the life I did so that I could set the standards for what I would accept in the future. I have been built from every mistake I’ve ever made and as a result, I have a big heart that hopefully someone, someday will be able to call theirs. I have realised how the idea of love can hurt, but more importantly realised that actually love doesn’t hurt, only people do.
Someday I would love to have that one person on who’s mind I am on first thing in the morning and last thing at night. I would love to walk hand in hand with someone who is proud to call me theirs. I look forward to the day I can laugh with someone again so much that my sides hurt, and with whom I can enjoy a tub of Ben & Jerry’s at midnight because I’m not embarrassed about being a lover of food! 
Love doesn’t have to be extravagant, made official on a piece of paper or be on show to everyone- it just has to make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. 
On that note, I think the only thing that will be making me feel warm and fuzzy tonight will be my meal at iftar. There are just over three hours to go and the days are getting gradually longer. My sleeping pattern has started to go crazy. For the past three nights I have woken at 4.50am and have been wide awake for a good hour despite only going to bed a couple of hours before. That should be fun when my days start at 6.15am again from next week! Today has been another fairly good day. The decrease in temperature is helping to keep thirst away and I’ve only had a couple of hunger pangs during the day. I am embracing the peace and tranquility that comes with the holy month, making the extra effort to pray. The children are being well behaved and understanding but it is still quite lonely to break the fast alone. There is a reason for this though and Allah knows it. Who knows what the year ahead will bring, but for now, it’s about living in the moment and being thankful for all we have.

A second chance 

Today’s fast has gone surprisingly, and thankfully quite well. I think staying up until 2.30am helped, eating and drinking steadily for as long as possibly could. I managed a small bowl of soup for iftar last night, followed by some watermelon. My stomach struggled to digest just that small amount, so it’s no surprise that I haven’t feel particularly hungry today.
I would like to thank every one of my friends who took the time to message me after yesterday’s blog. It meant so much that not only are people taking time to read my posts, but time out of their lives to send me messages of hope and reassurance. Mentally, I still have so much more to overcomes in terms of believing my strengths and capabilities. It helps tremendously when people are recognising the problems I am facing and trying to overcome and it’s always helpful to view things from another perspective.
I spent some time praying this morning. I read verses from the Quran, offering them up to the souls of my parents and grandparents, and then took the time to pray for things close to my heart. I was wide awake long before the children this morning, for the first time in I think forever, and it was a lovely opportunity to enjoy the calm and to reflect. I also checked the reach of this blog, and am surprised to have seen it has been read in places as far as America and India!
This afternoon I took the children to a local fun fair and almost stupidly ended up breaking my fast after getting on one of the rides that was so much more nail biting than what it appeared. After what seemed like 5 minutes of being thrown around on my side in a rickety old cart at the speed of light, I almost passed out on my way to find a patch of grass on which I could sit and nurse my sickened stomach. Needless to say, that was my only thrill for the day and the children were left to enjoy the rest of the rides whilst I looked on in a gorgeous shade of green.
I’m not sure what brought the thought on, but once we’d arrived home and I’d recovered, I had some sort of ‘message’ in my mind reminding me just how short life is. I found out some devastating news a couple of days ago of a friend with a son the same age as mine who has discovered she has cancer. That, along with the tragic week in which 22 innocent victims, mainly children, lost their lives at the hands of a barbaric terrorist attack, it brought to mind the realisation that with each passing day, and every time we go to bed at night, we are one step closer to the end of our own lives.
That may seem so morbid for what is usually a lighthearted blog, but it is a realisation of the truth. I wonder how many of us can get into bed at the end of each day and say that we have truly lived our lives to the fullest, done all our hearts have desired and made a difference? I was given a second chance at happiness when I decided to take control of my life again. I was suddenly presented with this whole new journey in which I was the driver and could choose the exact path that I wanted to take. The thought was, and still is, scary, but I have been given another shot at making my life the way I want it to be, and although I may not always seem it, I am eternally grateful for how my life has now taken a turn for the better.
I have been taking small baby steps over the past few months. I have gone from being overwhelmed, to becoming more confident and decisive, to actually setting the bar higher of what my previous standards used to be. I was always happy to settle for second best, accept that my efforts were never quite enough and to be quiet at times when actually my voice should have been heard. Compared to this time last year, I am a different person in so many aspects. I have learnt to say no, I have learnt that if you don’t ask then you never get, and most importantly I have learnt that my own happiness is important too. I realise that I can still be a good mum and friend if I take time out now and then to concentrate on myself.
I have taken the steps and applied to return to university, to study the course of my dreams. I have started to take more care of my appearance and learnt that even if I don’t feel completely with it, a little lip gloss goes a long way to help me feel better about myself. I’ve also realised that sometimes it’s ok to just shut yourself off from the world when things get a little overwhelming. 
I have been told by so many lovely friends that I look so healthy and well, that I am appearing stronger and more confident, and that I have so much to give to others as a person. I would hope that one day I would be able to find someone who sees not just me on the outside, but what I have to give from inside too. That’s the thing with people who have been broken- their love is loyal because it is fragile. They have so much to offer to a relationship because they crave what they have never been given in past relationships. 
Having left an abusive marriage, I may have flaws when it comes to trust, I may have doubts and insecurities, but I think that those are secretly and strangely a blessing, because a broken woman wants to be able to experience that love that she has been denied in the past, meaning that her heart will work harder to reach that end goal.
So whilst we are faced with many challenges in our lives, we need to look for the secret messages in those. The closure of one door will lead to the opening of another. The dead end of one road means you have to turn around and try a different direction. One person’s loss is another person’s gain. We forget that each difficulty we have ever faced has made us the people we are today. 
Learn to look for the second chances, because the day will come when it’s far too late. Don’t look back in five years time and regret not making that move, taking that job opportunity, or risking being happy with someone with whom you think it won’t work. You don’t have to do things because they’re not logical, do them because they’re fun. Society creates superficial rules, go one step further and break them, because the power to change is in your hands.
It’s now less than three hours until iftar, after which I will resume the new routine I have for this year of making the most of the 5 hours before sahur. I will embrace the calm, reflect and be thankful for all I have been given. I will also watch trashy TV, sit with copious amounts of water and the odd bite to eat, finally make my intention to Allah to fast the next day, and be thankful for my second chance at being happy in life.

Searching for the strength 

I am writing this with just 40 minutes to go until I break my fast. I’d be lying if I said today hasn’t been difficult. I woke at midnight and again at 2am but the only thing I could muster to eat was a slice of Battenberg cake. To be honest, over the past few days I have been reducing the amount I’ve been eating in order to prepare my body for fasting. The feelings of hunger haven’t bothered me too much today, but the lack of energy has been a big struggle.
I have been lucky to enjoy a quiet day at home, not needing too much energy or effort. However, as I expected, the mental and emotional challenge has been tough. I have questioned endlessly the situation my children are in now, having parents who are separated, with a father who currently isn’t around. I know that I’m not the only single mum, that they’re not the only children with divorcing parents, but it doesn’t make it any easier. I question whether what I’m doing is enough, whether they would benefit from studying abroad for a year so they’re closer to their paternal family. I blame myself for having my head in the clouds and only hope one day they realise how much I love them, because lately I struggle to be the mum they need.
They have been brilliant today, showing patience and understanding whilst I’ve been fasting. They were happy enough to watch films and my eldest daughter even helped out with chores. It’s not the right thing to spend the day without making an effort to go about your everyday tasks, but as I’m not emotionally well at the moment, I used today to reflect, to think and to relax. 
I would be lying if it said I didn’t miss the vibe around Ramadan in Turkey. The whole atmosphere during the month there is something spectacular. The queues at the bakers each evening of people buying fresh bread, the queues at the markets of people buying refreshing drinks and desserts, and most importantly, the mesmerising sound of the call to prayer from the mosques that fill the streets. Instead, I’ve made the most of what I have available to me here, and made a trip to the local Turkish supermarket late afternoon. I bought packet soup, fruit juice, Turkish bread and a great juicy watermelon to eat after I’ve broken my fast this evening.
I don’t think I will manage more than a bowl of soup. The children have eaten hours ago, and they’re almost ready to go to bed. I will keep them up so I can pray with someone before I begin to eat. I will then use the rest of the night to pray, drink plenty, and to try eat something before sunrise at 2.50am.
I always get emotional at this time of the day. To go 18 hours without food or drink is a huge feat. On top of all I am battling at the moment, I sometimes fail to recognise my strength. That strength of course comes from Allah and I hope that my fast is recognised and accepted. To think that this is my daily routine until 24th June seems overwhelming. Each day will get longer, and I only hope that my strength will increase with each day. 
As I have done with each year, and again, this journey isn’t about weight loss or appearance, I am making a note that I am starting the month at 63.3kgs. 

Stripping It Back 

The dictionary definition for lonely is as follows:A lonely situation or period of time is one in which you feel unhappy because you are alone or do not have anyone to talk to. It’s quite ironic that whilst I am blessed with my beautiful children and amazing friends, that ultimately, I am lonely.
Ramadan has fallen at a perfect time for me this year. In a year in which my marriage has ended and I have had to learn to discover myself again, I need this period of peace and serenity in order to strip everything back and find my reassess my values.
This time last year, things were so much different. I was going through a very unhappy period in my life. I knew deep down that my marriage was over, and again, ironically, it was certain events which happened during the month the concreted my decision that I needed out. Working 8 hours days in a busy coffee shop on top of 18 hours of fasting actually gave me more strength to stand up and make the step to leave than any other period in my life.
Fast forward to the present day and I am so lucky to have some fantastic people in my life who have helped me up when I’ve been kicked down and who have listened to my problems. My children are my purpose- they are the reason I strive to do my best, so that they can look back in years to come and remember that I was always there for them and never gave up.
The biggest problem lies deep inside. I don’t know who I am anymore. Whilst in theory, I am a 32 year old woman with her whole life ahead of her to choose what she wants to do, and who she wants to be with, I am lacking guidance. I have been kicked back so many times in my life, lost everything that I ever cared for and was told that I was never good enough- to overcome the fear of that happening again is mentally and emotionally challenging.
Friends have asked me if I really need to fast this year. It’s simply not as easy at that. Whilst I am divorcing my husband, I am not divorcing my religion. I didn’t become a Muslim for him, I became a Muslim because it felt right for me. I simply cannot turn my back on something I have believed in for the past ten years at a time when I feel like the only person who has ‘got my back’ is Allah.
This year will be physically and mentally hard. The first week of Ramadan falls on the half term school holidays, and we are currently experiencing 25C heat. Whilst my children know about Ramadan and what I am expected to do, they deserve to live their childhood and I will be spending many hours trying to entertain them single handedly. By the time they are in bed, I will still have around a hour before I can break my fast, and this will be emotionally difficult because I will be doing it alone. There is nobody to sit and pray with me, nobody for who I can prepare the iftar meal and nobody to encourage me and tell me that I am doing well. Likewise, I will be waking along for sahur to eat and drink before sunrise whilst my children sleep peacefully. I will turn to Turkish television to listen to the prayers from the hoca and set my alarm to listen to the sound of the call to prayer from a recording I will find online.
Tonight when my children are in bed, I will remove my make up and nail polish, remove my jewellery and wash in order to pray. I will cover myself and take the time to read from the Quran in order to prepare for the month ahead. I will pray for strength, hope, health and without a doubt happiness. Allah works in mysterious way and there is a reason that things happen in our lives, whether it be to test us or not. So many times I have been guilty of questioning that reason. So many days I have wondered how much more strength I have inside me to carry on fighting. I am hoping to find those answers over the next 30 days. 
I do believe though, the happiness lies in our own hands. If we see an opportunity then we need to grab it. We cannot expect love and luck to knock on our door, just in the same way we cannot expect to win the lottery if we don’t buy a ticket. If we should buy a ticket and not win then at least we tried, but we need to make more of an effort to expose ourselves to opportunities. If we fall down on our path to happiness that we need to stand up, brush ourselves down and try again. We meet the people we do in our lives for a reason and those people shape us. Those people may change our way of thinking, may question our morals or may teach us valuable lessons. The moral is, is that there are many hidden messages in our everyday lives.
So on a beautifully sunny and holy day of Friday, tonight we look forward to welcoming the holy month of Ramadan, and for the third yet, I am also looking forward to sharing my journey with you all, wherever you may be across the world. Wishing you all a happy and peaceful Ramadan. 

Looking For The Unexpected 

It was 6pm this evening by the time I realised I’d not eaten anything all day. My appetite hasn’t been great as of late, and as I hadn’t had my children with me today, I guess I forgot to make myself a priority and went all that time without eating. 

Since we entered the holy ‘three months’ I have been ever more aware that the time is ticking down until the start of Ramadan. It was my first thought today when I realised I hadn’t eaten for so long, that in just over a month’s time, it will be a sensation that I get used to throughout the whole of the holy month.

Today hasn’t been an easy day, but despite that, it feels very poignant to write my first blog post in what must be 10 months or so. My last post in July of last year was one of hope, happiness and celebration for the first day of Eid with my family. In less than a year, the picture couldn’t be any more different.

My then husband and I split up the following month after nearly 12 years of marriage and we are now mid-divorce. It has been a rollercoaster of emotions. I find myself being full of strength and motivation, to having days when I just don’t see the point in anything. I have to remind myself that I have the beautiful gift from Allah of three children who are my world. They are too young to know of the sacrifices I have made, of the sleepless nights I’ve had wondering and worrying about them and their future. They are too young to know that I am physically and mentally worn down. The passing of both my parents means that I have no surviving family at hand to help. I lost my Dad when I was 16, and my Mum when I was 23, just three months after the traumatic premature birth of my son.

My children stayed with their father yesterday, which meant I had a lot of time to think and reflect. I let my whole guard down and spent most of today just weeping. Weeping and questioning, ‘why me?’. I have been through every possible heartache there is to have. Where had I gone so wrong in life to be subject to all this hurt? An unhappy childhood, the death of both parents, a disabled son as a result of his early birth and now a failed marriage. How much more hurt could a person take?

I looked through the contacts in my phone book and contacted the one person who I knew would listen to me and find reason. It was my ex husband’s sister. A girl just two years younger than me who knows me inside out. Someone who has shared every emotion with me, both good and bad. I cried more and she cried with me. 

She immediately gave me a list of prayers that she advised me to read to find comfort and calm. She told me that she had started to pray her daily namaz and that she always remembered me in her prayers. I told her of my worries and troubles and she told me that Allah knows, that Allah will take away that heavy feeling in my heart and that I must not forget to be thankful for all the good I have in my life.

I told her that whilst I was out earlier, I saw a young teenage girl cuddle her mum from behind whilst they were out shopping, and that it hurt because I wanted to be that girl. She told me to think of it in the way that I have three perfect children who feel like that towards me, the way the girl did to her Mum, that one day they will become more than my children, and be my friends and companions too.

Talking to her was calming. It felt like I had my own guardian angel who was showing me the way. She had asked me if I had eaten, and it was her very words that reminded me that I hadn’t eaten since 8pm yesterday. For that moment, it felt like I had a piece of my Mum back. She told me to eat, to go shower and to enjoy the peace before the kids came back. She prayed for me, and for that moment, all seemed to be ok with the world again.

I have spent a lot of time wondering over the past months and I am still looking for my answer. Why? Why does life pan out the way it does? Why do I have to pretend to be strong when deep inside I am crumbling? How can I possibly be strong enough to be the best for my children? When will I get my happy ending?

Maybe the answers lie in what we already have. Maybe we need to stop thinking we have to compete with society and instead take a step back and focus on what is already ours. 

Fasting alone this year will be tough. Last year I was physically pushed to the limits when working every day in the coffee shop we ran. This year however, I think it will be mentally tough as I try and find the answers to all of my unanswered questions. If I have overcome all I have in life so far, then I know that I certainly don’t shy away from a challenge and like the past two years, I am looking forward to sharing the journey with you all.