Monday, 31 October 2016

A love letter to my baby daughter

My darling daughter,

I am writing to tell you how much I love you. There are so many things I want to say to you and yet I struggle to find the words because my love for you is something so profound and overwhelming. I have known love in many forms throughout my life, but not like this. It is as though I have discovered I have a whole other chamber in my heart that I never knew existed, dedicated to loving you. Nothing in the world could prepare me for this kind of love. You are my biggest dream, my life's ambition, the completion of myself. I have dreamed about you ever since I can remember and now that you are real and sleeping in your cot upstairs as I write, I am filled with complete disbelief and wonder.

Looking back at the photographs of your birth it is as if I have always known you. There you were, a tiny wrinkly bundle, but it was YOU; the beginning of you; and the whole world had changed forever because you were now in it.

From the moment I first heard you cry, I cried with you. I will always share your every sorrow but even when I want to cry with you I will try my best to be strong for you. I will always be there for you, you can always cry on my shoulder no matter how big or small the thing is that made you so sad, whether you're crying because you're hungry or because someone was mean to you or because you feel confused. It doesn't matter what it is, know that you can always come to your mama and I will try my best to make it better. I will carry you. I will carry you when you are 4 months old and just need to be close. I will carry you when you are 3 years old and your little body is tired from playing outside all day. I will carry you when you are 5 years old and you've scraped your knee. And when you get too heavy to carry I will carry your heart always. So if someone ever says to me that I'm spoiling you by carrying you, I will laugh them off and I will carry you and carry you and carry you while you're still little because I know that one day you will run to me in tears and I will wish for the days when I could just scoop you up and hold you close and feel your breath growing steady against my neck.

I love you so much my darling. I love you more than you can possibly understand. Hopefully when you have a child of your own one day you will start to comprehend my unconditional love for you. Until that time I will make sure that you feel my love every day, for you should feel as loved as you are, always. You will surely do things to make me cross but no matter how cross I ever get with you, I want you to know that nothing you do will ever make me love you any less. You can always come to me and I so hope that you will and if one day there is something that you don't want to share, I will understand and I will be there for you still.

I wish I could bottle every memory, every giggle and every sigh so I can relive every moment of your precious presence over and over, but life and time is fleeting; it does not stand still and it does not come again. It gallops away from us like wild horses, obstinate and unrelenting. So I will drink in every ounce of your existence and I can only hope to remember all the little details of our precious moments together...slow-dancing with you at 3am in the warm darkness of your room to help you into dreamland, sleeping with you in my arms and feeling your little hands in my neck and your breath against my skin, hearing you laugh out loud for the first time - the happiest, most beautiful, surprising sound I had ever heard, playing 'catch' with you for the first time and hearing you shriek with joy as you caught the ball.

I love you my baby. 

With all of my love and all of my heart forever,


Friday, 13 March 2015

What if?...Making peace with your decisions

Plagued by the past

Plagued by the past by contemplatingbunnies

I've so often wondered what my life would have been like had I made different decisions along the way. I might have been a completely different person because while you fundamentally are who you are, your experiences and the people around you do, to a large extent, shape who you become. I've often heard people say that you become a combination of the five people you spend most of your time with. I think that's true to a certain extent because people you're close with can have a massive impact on you and sometimes you don't even realise it. Every decision you make has an impact on your life in one way or another; sometimes it has only a tiny effect while other times it will affect everyone around you for generations to come, for all eternity. That's huge! It seems like such a massive responsibility to think that your thoughts and actions can impact generations upon generations to come. This is no new concept. I'm sure we've all thought about this at some stage or other; I've just thought about it more lately. I often think about how things have worked out in my life so far, especially when a major life event takes place. Take, for example, some of the choices I've made. If I had chosen to study at a different university or chosen a different hall of residence or different subjects, I wouldn't have met my husband and I wouldn't have our daughter in my tummy right now. Our love would never exist, she would never exist, let alone her children and her children's children and beyond. That's a lot of pressure when it comes to making decisions! So the question is how to cope with this pressure, uncertainty and doubt and how to live with the decisions we make. 

I believe that everything happens as it should. Every decision we make has both good and bad consequences. We do the best we can in any given situation and go with our gut or make the most informed decision we can. We do what we can and what makes sense at that moment in time. We will often look back on our decisions in the future and think that we made the wrong decision and wonder what if? What if I had chosen the other path? But we will never know for sure; there is no way of knowing what outcomes a different decision would have amounted to. The 1998 movie, Sliding Doors, featuring Gwyneth Paltrow, illustrates this concept perfectly. If you haven't seen this movie, do yourself a favour and watch it if you can. 

We often torture ourselves with our past thoughts and actions but what's the point? It's futile to live in the past because we're never getting it back. It doesn't come around more than once. The reality is that yes, maybe if you took the other road you would be better off, but there would certainly be challenges along that road as well and you would surely find yourself looking back and wondering what if you took the other road instead. And so it goes on and on. That's why it's pointless to look back on our past decisions with regret. It gets us nowhere, it just makes us sick and makes us doubt our ability to make good decisions in the future. Yes, we can learn from our past mistakes, but that is all. We do what makes sense at the time and hope for the best.

If you think about it, it's actually amazing how the universe works; it's what we call life. Everything is linked; we are all linked. "Relationships are all there is. Everything in the universe only exists because it is in relationship to everything else. Nothing exists in isolation. We have to stop pretending we are individuals that can go it alone". - Margaret J. Wheatley. What I take away from these thoughts is that, while agonizing over the past is senseless, taking others and the world around us into consideration when making certain decisions is meaningful. We can't always make better decisions but we can make more thoughtful ones.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Travel fashion inspiration: minty fresh

Keep calm & travel on

Keep calm & travel on by contemplatingbunnies

What better colours to keep you calm on a long-haul flight than these soft blues and mints? This is my idea of laid-back comfort and style to see me through my travels. It has everything I look for when travelling; pants that look fresh and won't crease too easily, a cute top, sweater and pashmina to layer as I need to, comfy shoes (TOMS are the best!), cuddly socks for on the plane and gorgeous luggage. With this minty combo you'll arrive at your destination looking and feeling fresh as a daisy. 

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Travel Tips Part 3: How to keep calm if you're a nervous flyer

Keep calm and fly on

There are so many people that hate flying, myself included, and for many people it's a real phobia. Lucky for me, I don't have a phobia of flying, but I do get really stressed out when I have to fly and have even had my share of panic attacks on planes. I usually freak out most after sitting down in my seat for the first time and the airplane is filling up and the air-con isn't on yet so it gets all stuffy and I feel like I can't breathe. Every time I go to sit in one of those seats I'm astounded at the tiny space and the seats feel like they're getting smaller every time I board a plane. So here are some things you can try to help you stay sane for the duration of your flight:

  • Medicate yourself - I use herbal medication to see me through, but obviously if you feel you need something stronger, speak to your doctor. I find that Bach's Rescue Remedy or Tissue Salts works for me

  • Try herbal tea - chamomile and lavender teas work for me, but there are also many herbal blends of tea that promote a feeling of calm. Drink some before you leave the house and take some tea bags with you, as you can just ask an air hostess for some hot water when they offer tea and coffee

  • Wear a calming fragrance such as lavender scented perfume or body lotion. Essential oils can be surprisingly effective in altering your mood

  • Distract yourself - listen to music, read a book, do a crossword puzzle; whatever it takes to get your mind occupied and calm

  • Try hypnosis - when I'm feeling anxious, I listen to the app, Deep Relax with Andrew Johnson on my iPhone or iPad. He uses the power of suggestion to help you to relax. There are similar hypnosis recordings that you can get as an MP3 or on a CD if you don't have a tablet or smart phone

  • Close your eyes and listen to soothing nature sounds such as rain or ocean waves on your smartphone, tablet, MP3 player or CD player

  • Avoid sugar and caffeine - it can make you feel more anxious and jittery

  • Have a glass of wine with your meal - a little bit of wine can really help to relax you. Just make sure it's safe to have alcohol if you're taking any medication

  • Do breathing exercises - breathe in for a count of 3 seconds, breathe out for a count of 6 and hold for a count of 3 before breathing in again. Breathing out deeply helps to decompress your nervous system so you feel calmer

Aaaand RELAAAX :)

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Travel fashion inspiration: travel in pink

Travel in PINK

Travel in PINK by contemplatingbunnies

The fatigue and dehydration caused by travelling can leave you looking and feeling a bit drab and washed-out, which is why I love this rosy pink; it would really brighten up your look after a tedious long-haul flight. I'm completely in love with these pink TOMS, which are my favourite shoes on the planet and the pink pashmina is perfect because the colour you wear closest to your face is so important. Dressing in layers is essential for travel; airports are generally a comfortable temperature, so jeans and a stretchy top is perfect, while the chunky-knit oversized cardigan will keep you cozy on a cold flight. 

Monday, 9 March 2015

Travel Tips Part 2: At the airport / on the plane

Happy travelling

When travelling, my top priority is always comfort because travelling isn't usually a very comfortable experience as it is, so I'm just sharing a few tips on how to stay comfortable and not lose your mind at the airport and on the plane...

  • Wear comfortable clothes - this doesn't mean you have to travel in sweats. You can travel in style and still feel comfortable. Just wear worn-in flats that don't rub or chafe, trousers with a comfortable waistband that's not too tight, such as soft stretchy jeans, and a stretchy top that's comfortable to sleep in and make sure you layer up with cozy jerseys and a pashmina because it can get really freezing on the plane in the middle of the night and those little blankets they give you just won't do the job. Also pack some thick cozy slipper socks to put on once you've taken off your shoes on the plane, but preferably go for ones that you can pull over your normal socks so that you can easily take them off and put your shoes on to go to the bathroom because the floors on plane toilets are usually pretty disgusting.

  • Keep yourself entertained - remember to take something to while away the hours spent sitting on the airport. My iPhone and iPad is usually enough to keep me entertained but I usually also take a book or a couple of magazines.

  • Remember the rules about liquids - usually you're allowed up to 10 containers of up to 100ml each of liquids, in a clear zip-lock bag, but check with the airports you'll be travelling through. They usually ask you to take out this bag at security so it's a good idea to keep it within easy reach. Which reminds me, the same goes for laptops - you'll need to take them out at security. Remember you can't take drinks through security, so rather wait to buy drinks once you're through security.

  • Don't spend hours walking around the airport with your luggage - if you have time to kill, rather find a seat near your gate and keep yourself entertained. If I want to get something from the duty-free shops, I always do my bit of shopping first before sitting down because if you have to get up again later, chances are you might not get a seat near your gate again when it's nearly time to board. I have a bad back so I try to find a seat as early on as possible otherwise the flight is even more of a nightmare if I have back pain before even boarding.

  • Stay hydrated - apply hand cream and lip balm throughout the flight to keep your skin and lips from becoming dry and cracked and drink water throughout the journey. From a hydration point of view it's best not to have tea, coffee or wine on the plane, but I usually have some wine with my dinner to calm my nerves and help me sleep. Trust me, if you skip the tea and coffee, you're not missing anything, it's usually terrible; I don't know what they do to it to get it to taste that bad. If you're wearing makeup but want to keep your face hydrated, try spritzing yourself with a hydrating face spray every few hours.

Happy travelling!

Friday, 6 March 2015

Travel Tips Part 1: Before flying

Travel bunny

It has now been 10 years since I'm back in South Africa so I've done quite a bit of travelling to and from the UK to see my family who still lives there, so I've created a Travel Tips series to share my ideas for making travelling a little easier, starting with the lead-up to your date of travel...

Super hydrate yourself from the inside - In the week leading up to your flight, make sure you stay on top of your fluid intake:

  • Drink your 8 glasses of water a day
  • Compensate for any caffeinated tea and coffee you have by drinking an glass of water for each cup you have 
  • Remember herbal tea also counts towards your daily fluid intake
  • Try to drink as few caffeinated, alcoholic and sugary drinks as possible before flying

Super hydrate yourself on the outside - If you're not doing so already, start moisturizing every inch of yourself in the lead up to your date of travel because all that air-con in planes and airports majorly dehydrates your skin and you don't want to arrive at your destination looking and feeling like a fish out of the water. Dehydrated skin is also more sensitive and prone to breakouts, which is not ideal when you're travelling to a different climate and may be using different products on your skin than usual.

Boost your immunity - It's so easy to become ill from travelling with everyone's germs circulating around you for several hours, plus our immune systems are more sensitive when travelling due to disruption of sleep patterns, different climates and . I boost my immune system well before flying by eating healthily and taking some vitamins and herbal supplements such as Vitamin C, odourless garlic oil capsules and Echinacea.

Make lists - Travelling gets me all flustered and if I don't write stuff down I forget it because my brain turns to spaghetti when I'm stressed:
  • What you need to pack
  • What you need to do before you can leave the house, such as remember to pay outstanding bills, put the trash out, water the plants, etc.
  • Remember to cross things off your lists as you do or pack them. Besides helping you stay organized, it's surprisingly satisfying to tick or cross off lists

Choose your luggage wisely -  If you need to buy a suitcase, there are a few things to take into consideration to make sure you buy the right one for you. A good quality suitcase lasts forever so you want to get the right one from the start. Here's what I look for in a suitcase:
  • Weight - make sure you go for the lightest one possible that is still sturdy because they can be so heavy and take up loads of your weight allowance before you've even put anything in them
  • Material - in my opinion, it's better to go for hard suitcases than canvas ones which can get slashed and don't protect the contents as well as hard suitcases
  • Wheels - even though those pretty vintage suitcases are gorgeous to look at, wheels are what will keep you sane when travelling. It's best to go for wheels that swivel all the way around for optimum mobility
  • Handle- some suitcases only have a short handle on the side and this type is usually pulled along lengthwise. These are incredibly annoying because they topple really easily, especially if you're moving quickly or in a busy space. Rather go for a suitcase with a solid and comfortable flat handle that extends out from the top and pulls the suitcase along its width, like the one shown in the picture above 
  • For your carry-on luggage, try to go for something with wheels. Some airports are absolutely massive and you end up doing a lot of walking, especially if like me, you often have the misfortune of departing from the furthest possible terminal 

I've found the best possible suitcase - it has four wheels that can swivel in any direction so the suitcase can be pushed along in a normal standing position (perfect for those endless rows at check-in) or you can pull out the handle and drag the suitcase behind you.

Pack like a pro - I always need all the space I can get, especially for the return journey, so use your available space and weight limit wisely:
  • Fold everything up as neatly as possible and 'build' the contents of your suitcase like a puzzle, don't just pile everything in
  • Try not to take massive bottles of products, such as shampoo, as these can really weigh you down. Rather buy travel-sized miniatures or smaller versions of the stuff you usually go for or decant into smaller bottles
  • Streamline your make-up bag to include only the essentials plus a few colour variations

    Happy packing!