The final drag on a 27-year relationship

One of the saddest moments of my adult life was the day I decided to wave goodbye to my closest friends: Cigarettes. I had to quit this toxic relationship and I opted to say “adieu” instead of “bon voyage” on this occasion because too much was at stake, my life was at a crossroads and something had to give. I wonder if this was a sensible move because at this point, 6 months after going cold turkey, I am still questioning if I made the right decision. The scientific facts proclaim from the rooftops that cigarettes are evil, cancer-causing nasty wastes of money, but what about the other, less tangible considerations?

  • An Incandescent Affair

Of all my friends, I can safely say that Ciggy, as I talk about her now in retrospect, named in an attempt to box in and forget, was the one with whom I was the most intimate. She was always close to me, in the physical and emotional sense. A comforting silhouette of her pointy corners bulging out of my bag on a Friday night. The necessary prop to spark up conversation whilst huddled outside, us smokers forced to accept frequent freezing wet excursions to quench a very different kind of hunger.

The break away from my desk, walk down two flights of stairs to inspire the almost-meditational moment of inspiration, fresh perspective to crack a nagging problem. She was there at my lowest ebb, to pick me up after a bad meeting, a familiar arm around the shoulder when the now-ex messes up for the umpteenth time. She was even on my mind first thing in the morning, before coffee and even before MinyHubby. She used to be my everything.

  • A Burning Absence

On May 1st, I cut her out of my life, accepting without realizing that I was entering the excruciating path of the smoker’s Via Crucis. It has been 184 days – and counting – living and breathing – quite – well without her, but I still miss her. Past the first days of withdrawal symptoms comes the relentless languishing. I would have preferred enduring the physical and emotional agony of a heartbreak rather than this never-ending ever-ongoing battle with myself. For an entire month, I was drowning in stress hormones.

I went through a series of erratic behaviours, including crying everyday for no reason. MinyHubby is still talking about the month of May with a painful grin on his face. Nothing could console me. No amount of loving support was enough to tame my self-inflicted torments.  We were in pre-divorce-crisis-mode 24/7. I believe this all needs to be said because if you are thinking about quitting it is important that you time your rupture accordingly. Throughout all the self-help articles and books that I read in preparation for this life-changing choice, nobody seemed to mention the ultimate-violence we have to go through. 

  • A Scorching Aftermath

We all know how smoking cigarettes potentially increase risks of heart disease, lung disease, breast cancer and osteoporosis, to name a few. I would not know any better but these arguments have never been enough to convince me to quit. My appetite is definitely back and my taste buds have rediscovered the joy of finding everything delicious. My sense of smell has also improved. I am not quite certain I needed this. I gained 10 kg in three months and was diagnosed a high-cholesterol pre-diabetic. Somehow I expected to gain some weight but not another 20% of my body mass. I certainly did not expect to have health complications.

The shallow woman in me was keen to experience the collateral benefits of quitting such as stopping the aging process & fighting poor skin colour, getting rid of my ever-yellowing tartared fangs.  I cannot say that I can flash a pearly-white-smile nowadays after a trip to the dental hygienist but I am less conscious when showing my teeth. As per stopping the aging process, I have indeed gone back in time. Except that being over 40 years old, acne does not suit me.

  • A Sweltering Recovery

On a brighter note, my osteopath mentioned that it is not rare to gain up to 25 kg. He also mentioned that after 6 months the body stabilizes and slowly goes back to normal. Let’s hope I am no exception to this rule. I do have more energy now, and was using it regularly, at least until I hurt myself overdoing it at Ashtanga yoga. I was working out at least 90 minutes everyday. I also realised that, without having to sneak outside for some “fresh air” every hour, I had more time, which inspired me to learn Arabic. I got all the support I could have wished for from my husband but also at work, where my boss as well as Asmar and Omar have been celebrating with me every month that I have been smoke-free.

Perhaps the main reason I quit is because I want to have a baby. This is as simple as it gets. My gynecologist and my acupuncturist stressed that smoking increases the risk of infertility. On May 1st, I stopped sabotaging the little chance that I had to have a baby. Come to think of it, it was the best decision that I could have made. Imagine undergoing all this turmoil whilst pregnant! MinyHubby and I took that decision together, very much like the one we took earlier to get rid of my 5 fibroids. I am also confident that eventually the feeling of emptiness will subside as I finally overcome the yearning for something I was addicted to, accustomed with and reliant on for more than half my life.

Learning Arabic the Write Way

Have you tried to write for a prolonged amount of time by hand recently? The time-honoured skill of handwriting may be an utterly distant memory. Come to think of it the memory of ruining your manicure, receiving the gift of now-almost-extinct writer’s callus or undergoing excruciating wrist and hand agony may not appeal to you. But have you thought about how you can benefit from handwriting once you pass through the pain threshold?

  • Writing into relaxation

I would have gladly stuck to my scribbles or the more computer-assisted approach but a few months ago I took it upon myself to learn Arabic. When it comes to effectively acquiring a new language, there exists little alternative to writing by hand, at least in my experience. Graphotherapy claims that handwriting can cure depression. I would not know any better but it has definitely been the most efficient and surprisingly relaxing form of studying I have been encountering.

  • Amplifying your learning

Your capability to focus will improve as a result of repeatedly forming letters, which will eventually evolve into words, sentences and paragraphs. The foreign vocables will become imprinted in the brain effortlessly, and the movement of the hand almost as fluent as the very word you will have just learned to utter. Your penmanship may not evolve to the level of a calligrapher and your diction that of an Arab but you will probably find the entire experience edifying. In case you get a kick from acing your exams, an article in the Wall Street Journal confirmed that students who take notes by hand outperform others.

  • Smartening your brain

Research published in the medical journal, Neuroreport, shows that Arabic writing trains both side of the human brain. It has been found during a study of the brain dynamics of writing that native Arabic speakers engaged both sides of the brain unlike their Spanish counterparts when writing. I guess this also applies to Urdu and/or Farsi writers since they use the same system. Not only do these scriptures use cursive letters, known to engage both your right and left cerebral cortex, but they also write from right to left, an extra-brainy challenge.

  • Writing prettier letters

As I mindfully applied myself to the craft, my stuttering cacography in Arabic slowly morphed itself into tidier letters. Interestingly, even squibbles in my own native scripture have become more legible. For the past two decades, I have been infamous for my illegible handwriting. Even my husband who absolutely adores me would confirm. Believe it or not, I can now read my notes, something that I was unable to do since 1995. Morever, I have recently discovered the joy of looking at my notes, a very satisfying experience.

A Visit To the Osteopath For MinyWife

It seems there can be a thing as too much yoga, it is sad to report on these pages. Many a weekend MinyWife and I would be absent from our friends’ social lives with our main focus on ourselves and our wellbeing, sometimes totting up over 10 hours of yoga on weekends. We are fortunate to have discovered two very good studios close to home and the All-You-Can-Ommm packages appealed to the Yorkshireman in me!

Following a remarkable period of weight loss since last August, we are increasing in density once more. I might be perceived as blowing our combined trumpets here, but we did manage to remove 15Kg each from our bodies, in a period that ended in January this year. A fabulous achievement in terms of focus, willpower and determination across both exercise and diet. What with a major operation, honeymoon, general summertime lethargy and MinyWife not smoking since 1st May all coming into play since January, we are not back to our hefty former selves but heading that way without a concerted effort.

Hence the push back towards yogathons on the weekend. Unfortunately, after one particularly demanding 5.30am Ashtanga class, we both came away with cricked necks and hurting shoulders. Literally shrugging this off as a symptom of getting used to a different style with a new teacher, we carried on regardless without the pain subsiding. Weeks later, MinyWife received a text from her osteopath, a rearranged appointment forgottenly made months ago. A truly brilliant medical professional, or so I am told after the excellent 30 minute diagnosis and treatment sessions by MinyWife, well worth the outlay even though not covered on our company medical insurance.

The doctor made the common sense observation that yoga will have a very different impact on a body depending on it’s size, shape and weight. Therefore exercise done when slim is likely to be easier than that undertaken with more girth. Hence, all those Ashtanfga-driven downward dogs carrying an extra 5Kg here or there will apply increased pressure on our arms and shoulders. This stellar advice in mind, we are refocusing our exertions towards Bikram, Pilates and milder forms of Hatha yoga until we both trim down closer to previous┬álevels. Wish us luck.

And, depending on our mood, we might even reveal the doctor’s name if you ask nicely. No promises…

Image courtesy of StockSnap.io, a fantastic copyright free stock image resource

Weekend Roast Chicken Delivery in Dubai

Following a mid morning meal with friends at an egg-cellent restaurant at The Beach, Jumeirah Beach Residence, we were suddenly struck by a mid afternoon hunger. Without wanting to leave our air-conditioning in the (must be somewhere around 50C) heat, we decided to try one of the many delivery options in our vicinity.

For those of you that live outside the UAE, delivery of almost anything to your door is possible and increasingly with credit card payment, not just cash. Convenient but also dangerous.

Foodonclick, 24h.ae, Zomato and our growing favourite Deliveroo (download the app and you’ll see why, merits a separate post about the channels at our disposal in fact) all compete for our attention. Today we ordered from Gallus via Deliveroo. Tomorrow we may take advantage of another provider’s discount deals.

Regardless the half roast chicken was delicious. Still juicy and hot, MinyWife also ordered PiriPiri and Harissa sauces and a green salad. The cats and myself finished off the leftovers. Yum.

I’m partial to Waitrose’s roast chicken and it definitely wins in the value department (18 to 48 AED) but there’s a lightly delightful herb mixture used at Gallus, plus the lazy/delivery factor, that will no doubt see more deliveroos to MinyHome in the near future.