I hated what I saw in the mirror 

Recently I looked back on some old photos from my early twenties, culling data on external hard drives to free up space, I found myself taking a longer then planned for walk down memory lane. 

I spent what should have probably been my best years believing I was excessively and extremely overweight. I would call myself fat (and ugly) at  any opportunity I got. I looked at these photos and thought now in my “post two pregnancies, early 30s mummy brain” woah – I was truly deluded! How incredibly low my self confidence and self esteem were, to believe something about myself which was so far from the truth. 

Granted I never was a “skinny” or “naturally thin” girl, but I was by no means “fat”. I’ve just always been a bigger build most my life, as puberty hit I became curvier then most in my circles. Teenage years are horrible for anyone, and I did get to a point where I was an unhealthy weight for my age at the time. But I also remembering losing a large number of KGs in my final year of high school and entering university at a healthy weight looking rather slimer than what I was used too. I always thought life was so much easier for the skinny girls, they didn’t have to worry about what they ate, they could almost always attract boys, “the life of a skinny girl must be bliss!”

It wasn’t until I entered my twenties that I realized this wasn’t the case for the skinny girls. It was far from it actually. I had girlfriends that were more self-conscious then I was, worrying about their bodies, their looks, what they ate more then I ever imagined. Sometimes I found myself arguing with them saying things like, “if only you girls knew what it really felt like to be ‘fat’ you’d be so much more grateful for them genes you’ve been blessed with”. 

I realized later that self love was an issue MOST if not ALL girls and women go through, big or small. We’re just never happy with what and who we are, always searching for more or an idea of what’s ‘better’ or more acceptable or appealing. If it wasn’t the super skinny flat chested girl wishing she had a curvier or more womanly body, to the overweight girl crying herself to sleep wishing for a size 6 body, we’ve all experienced our share of demons when it comes to body image.

I looked back on my old photos and wished 21 year old Tanja knew just how pretty and “not fat” she actually was. If I could go back and tell her just one thing I’d try and hammer that thought deep into her subconscious mind so that she would never forget it. For too long I spent so many years thinking I wasn’t enough. Wasn’t as good as the rest. For far too long I hated what I saw in the mirror. 

And this is why I wanted to have a girl so much. I wanted to raise a confident self loving girl, the girl I never felt I was. The girl I wish so many of us were. I recently came across the most appropriate quote… “all these years of education and they never taught us how to love ourselves.” – ain’t that the truth! 

Image courtesy of Tumblr 


I have a paralysing fear of flying.

It hasn’t stopped me from getting on a flight as I’ve had no other choice at the time. I needed to get on that plane.

But on that flight, be it however long, every sensation and motion raised my heart rate ever so high, every take off had me crying hysteric tears anticipating the impending doom and my imminent end.

I havent been on a plane since moving abroad. I have not taken a holiday with my family, or gone back home to Australia in the past two years because I can’t think of anything worse then experiencing 14 hours of non-stop panic.

Nothing helps ease the flight for me. Not even my trusty Valium or Xanax.

It makes no sense to me; it makes no logical sense in my mind – how is it even possible for a plane to stay in the air for all those hours, through all the different environmental and weather conditions and not come down? How have I put my life in the hands of two strangers? It will never make any sense to me.

I’ve considered doing fear of flying courses, perhaps reading more statistics on “how you’re more likely to die in a car crash then a plane crash” but still nothing stops my heart rate from rising and my head from spinning, just by the mere mention of “taking a flight”.

There is some credit to be given though, it hasn’t stopped me from getting me on a plane the countless times I have managed to get on one. I guess there are people out there who wont even book that ticket online because the thought of it is gut wrenching and anxiety provoking.

I hope one day I can say I don’t have a fear of flying anymore, because I know deep down there are so many parts of the world I would love to see and experience, so many places I know would be good for my soul.

If you ever find yourself on a flight with someone like me, someone next to you crying, saying their prayers under their breath, clenching their hands and drying their sweaty palms on their pants, please don’t stare at them with judgement, take their hand and tell them its going to be ok. Distract them, have a chat and crack a joke with them. I’m forever grateful to the countless strangers that have helped me through my in-flight anxiety and panic attacks.



“But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved.” Corinthians 11:5

“For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head.” Corinthians 11:6

“O Prophet! Say to your wives, your daughters, and the women of the believers that: they should let down upon themselves their jalabib.” Quran 33:59. 

  • Jalabib جَلاَبِيْبٌ is the plural of jilbabجِلْبَابٌ , which means a loose outer garment.

Let’s have a chat about a 200x80cm (dimensions may vary) piece of fabric used by millions of woman across the globe to cover the hair. It seems this cloth still has many people in quite a stir, both Muslim and non-muslim alike. Lets understand something really important when it comes to hijab, there’s a multitude of reasons why a Muslim woman chooses too or not too observe head covering, like all things in life, this is her right and her choice.

Choice! Why do people find this so hard to believe when they look at a covered Muslim woman? Why are there still so many out there who believe that head covering is a sign of oppression, a garment forced upon females by their fathers or husbands?

Yes, no doubt this has been a reality for many, sadly this notion didn’t just come out of thin air. Just like there exists in the world so called “Christians” who behave or act very un-Christian like, there too are MANY “Muslims” who are the furthest thing from conducting themselves in an “Islamic” manner.

Why not ask a successful, young single woman what made her decide to wear a head scarf? Or the new convert to the faith uninfluenced by the male figures of her family. Why not #askahijabi?

For some, head covering is simply a cultural practice, apart of their national dress and customs? In some of these places men walk around wearing dress – like gowns (thawb, dishdasha, kandura or jalibbiyah) does this offend the same people the head scarf offends. I dare you to get your knickers in a knot while walking through customs in most gulf nation airports.

And finally for many others, the scarf is a symbol of their religiosity. A request and a service to God. A woman’s decision to be valued and identified by her relationship with her Lord first and foremost. Not to be looked upon as a sexual object, or a lesser creation to man, not to be viewed as a servant or slave to her husband or father, but to simply be recognized for her faith, heart and intellect before all else.

I rushed to the net to find these so called “oppressed hijabis”, and guess what… I found not one. What I did find instead were brave, confident, powerful voices, inspiring, intelligent and fearless woman. Strong and honest woman. Sisters who have helped me personally to change and form my own new opinions, thoughts and views on this incredibly powerful piece of material.

“Every hijabi can tell you — sometimes the mere existence of this cloth in a room can leave the air, thick, and the mood, tense. For some, this reality is too heavy to carry. For me, I think I almost crave it. To know my modesty carries such clout and power is simply glorious. My hijab is my companion. A constant reminder of something outside of the immediate, the now.” The Aristochick, source The Aristochick.

“My hijab has never been something to block off opportunities; on the contrary, if anything, my hijab has opened many doors for me, and a part of that has been my recent experience at NYFW.” Mademoiselle Meme, source; Exploring Muslim Influencers Around The World: Mademoiselle Meme

“You choose to do the things that matter to you, and it mattered to me that I wore this. Ran track with this hijab on and I hated it but I was proud. Every place I’ve worked, I’ve felt so conscious of myself because I know I stand out, I know I represent something so much bigger than myself, and I know I am of an immigrant generation that will pave the way for thousands forward. I get scared of failing. And that’s more than enough of a reason to stand tall.” Noha Sahnoune, source Noha Sahnoune

“Do you like wearing the scarf on your head? Well I mean there are days that I like wearing it on my head, but in general… in the bigger picture I don’t think I do like it, no… And there’s going to be loads of people saying ‘well then just take it off make life easier’ but No, I’m not going to take it off; I’ve been wearing it since I was 12……I know this is literally what God wants!…I keep it on…, because of God.” Dina Tokio – Why I wear Hijab (The truth) – youtubevideo – Dina Tokio

So I end it here with simply asking you to #askahijabi.


Me too

Me too

Disclaimer: heavy content.

Yesterday a trending hashtag caught my eye.

A trending hashtag brought back repressed memories for hundreds and thousands of women around the world.

A trending hashtag brought those same women together.

Virtually all women stood up and said #metoo!
#metoo, to having been touched inappropriately.

#metoo, to having been raped, date raped, gang raped.

#metoo, to having been sexually molested or abused.

#metoo, to having been harassed at home work or on the street.

#metoo, to having been told to stay quiet!

#metoo, to having been told that “no one will believe you!”

#metoo, to having been told that “you asked for it”.

This trending hashtag showed the whole world yesterday that we are failing our children!

This can’t go on!
I want my daughter to know a world that can stand up and say “nonotme”!

I understand that this may be #notallmen … but this sure as hell is all women.

Photo credit @witchoria – http://instagram.com/witchoria


Why date nights/days are VITAL to any relationship!

I remember our very first date night with my husband as new parents. It was nerve wrecking. Minutes before we were scheduled to take my son to my mother in laws, I contemplated cancelling the whole thing a hundred times over in my mind. Could I really ‘pull a sickie’ on my husband and get away with it?

He would see right through it, mummy guilt and all. Isaac was 6 weeks old at the time, we were both sleep deprived, my internet browser was flooded with tabs and links from post-natal help to remedies to relieve a colic baby.

A date night was imperative. Mummy guilt just had to wait. Isaac would be safe, he would be fine, it was one night, just one night of sleep, one night to remember each other. And remember we did. We sat over a beautiful dinner at one of our favourite restuarants in Melbourne and spoke about being parents, spoke about our goals, our fears, our dreams for the future, spoke about each other how incredibly proud of one another we were, how we didn’t think loving another human being apart from each other was even possible.

Date nights. Date days. They are a weekly or sometimes fortnightly MUST in our home. Granted we have the freedom of having the children looked after 99% of the time by our nanny since moving abroad, and I understand this isn’t as easy back home, but when there is a will there is a way. There is a grandparent, a sibling, uncle, aunt or best friend that can surely do you and your partner a solid and take the kids for just a few hours. Those few hours to re-calibrate, regain your sanity, remember who you were before children and how great you’ve become since. It’s the chance to remember and recognise each other behind the 3am screaming crying wake up calls, the 8-6pm draining work hours, the colds, flus and night terrors which leave you both sleepless and ready to throw in the towel if you could.

It’s that one night or day you get to just have a great meal, a movie, a long drive, an icecream or a smoothie, that chance to put your feet up together and say, “kids”?, “what kids?” and laugh or cry, and remember just how incredible a job you are both doing. Trust me, your children may not realise it now, but they will thank you for it later. Healthy relationship – healthy parenting – happy family.

Day date, Bakemart Gourmet – Umm Suqeim, Dubai – October 2017

Heaven lies beneath her feet

Change isn’t always easy. But it’s necessary. Growth is essential to life, if something ceases to grow it dies. Spiritually I was at a point in my life where I was dead. Emotionally I was in turmoil and I needed something to heal some serious wounds. For me that healing was my faith. The only thing that would bring me back to life. It wasn’t a cure or a quick fix, it didn’t mean that life was never going to be hard again, in fact life become much harder for a while. 

But your purpose is shifted and everything redirects, your goals, the end-game, the whole point becomes clear to you. You finally let go of life’s trivialities and you become free. You accept, that everything is in Gods hands and that there are lessons in both the good and the bad that befall us. 

I won’t lie. It’s not easy without her. And by her I mean my mum. I think about her on the daily. I know she thinks about me too. Would you believe me if I told you I can sense her sometimes. She’s my mum at the end of the day, what kind of horrible person would I be if I said I didn’t think about her or miss her? This is just how it has to be for now, I pray it won’t be forever, I pray time with heal all the wounds of the past. I pray there will be a time where my children will grow up to know her, not only from a photograph. 

At least I got 25 years, 25 years is more then some get. She may not have been there to hold my hand while I labored and birthed my children, or watch me walk down the isle, but these are just moments in our short lives that we hold so much value on . Time diminishes them and they slowly fade from our memories. The constant that remains is that she’s my mum, I love her even when it pains me or when I’ve wanted to hate her. And I only just discovered how deep her love was for me since I became a mother myself. 

Two years in the sandpit 

Two years ago today I held a one way ticket in my hand, and boarded a flight with my husband and 6 month old to Dubai. I don’t think I’ve cried more in my life than I did that day. Putting aside the intense anxiety I felt about flying, and the anxiety I had about flying with Isaac, even the business class seats were of no relief to me. I still remember how sad I felt at the airport that day. God bless one of my cousins who attended the airport with his family to send me off, other than him there wasn’t anyone else from my side to bid me farewell.

Goodbyes are the hardest, to be honest I was never too keen on living abroad. But I convinced myself that moving overseas felt like a chance to start over. A chance to start my new life as a mother away from the noise that was sometimes Melbourne. I didn’t realise this right away though. No, my first weeks were spent hoping that my husband would hate it here.

He didn’t.

Two weeks into living in Dubai, I found out I was pregnant with Laila. My first thought was, ‘surely this’ll mean we will return home?’

It didn’t.

My first year in Dubai feels like a blur now. It wasn’t until well into my second year that I finally found my feet as an expat. I started getting out of the apartment, started to make friends, started taking the kids out to play, finally things were starting to look up. I even looked for a job, almost ended up securing a position until they retracted the offer and gave it to someone who accepted less pay. That’ll happen here, anything to save a dirham.

I remember telling myself before we left, ‘there is no chance I will stay in Dubai for longer then 2 years’, and now here we are. The thought of returning to Melbourne now seems so far away. There so many things I love about my new home, and so many things I cant imagine living without now. Safety tops that list. I don’t remember the last time I felt safe enough to walk the streets at night in Melbourne, I don’t think I ever did. Let alone leaving a car door unlocked, with the window slightly ajar with your bag left inside, you’ll be sure that’s all still there the following day no doubt. You can’t put a price on something like that.

Don’t even get me started on mall trading hours and being able to have almost any café or restaurant deliver your favourite meals to your door, these are just little bonuses which make expat life all the more exciting.

Kite Beach – National Day weekend 2016

Grand Mosque – Maghrib Prayer, Abu Dhabi 

The Sandpit – August 2017 

Diary of a Panic Attack 

6.15pm. She’s had a busy day. Didn’t really have too much much time to think. She hasn’t thought about me once. That’ll make my visit all the more a surprise, I’ll show up around the usual hour.


10.30pm. She’s in bed a little earlier tonight. She must be tired. Shame I’ll have to wake her up soon. It’ll be the usual, a pounding heart beat, exactly one hour after she dozes off. It’ll thump so hard in her chest she will hear it in her ears. And then she’ll start to swallow frantically as she feels like a lump in her throat is blocking her airway, her throat will start to close in on her.


11.33pm. Right on schedule. She’s already up in the bathroom staring at her pupils. I know what she’s looking for, signs of something neurological, she’ll even lift her arms and repeat her name as she checks for signs of stroke. All she’ll find are tired blood shot eyes as she stares into the lights watching her pupils constrict and dilate.


11.34pm. She’s in the kitchen now, pacing. Holding her finger on the dial pad, her other hand checking her pulse. Will she phone the ambulance tonight? Will she lose this battle. She’s going through names in her head on who to call, who could possibly be awake at this hour, who could help her through this one?


11.35pm. She’s certain her times up. She’s back in her room begging her husband to phone an ambulance. I’ve managed to get a tighter hold on her chest, she’s describing me to him like someone stepping on her chest with both feet. Her head is spinning violently and by this stage I’ve managed to make both her hands completely numb.


11.40pm. Her husbands taken her phone from her. He’s refused to call for help. She feels helpless but knows deep down he has done the right thing. I’m about to leave her now, slowly she’s regaining some sense of normality. A wave of exhaustion hits her, she buries her face and tears into her pillow as he holds her close. She knows she lost that round.

I often imagine my panic in the 3rd person. Giving it a name, a shape, a colour, an image. I imagine a real entity because that’s exactly what those feelings and sensations are to me when they happen, they are real. Not all “in my head” or “made up”, but real physical and bodily changes that I experience on the regular. More than millions of people world wide have experienced the same or similar; that glitch in the system, their fight or flight response kicking in when it’s not required. If anyone reading has ever felt or experienced panic attacks please know you’re not alone – I find some relief in imaging them as an ugly beast that I can kick, punch and throw stuff at, when it does coming lurking in the night. 

More than just the baby blues

My pregnancy with Isaac was relatively easy. Morning sickness lasted around a month and eased off after the 12 week mark, I kept to date with all my OB appointments like clockwork, did all my blood tests and scans on time, discovered at the 6 week mark that I had pregnancy induced hypothyroidism so I started my thyroid meds nice and early and didn’t miss a dose. I was super cautious. 2 miscarriages will do that to you though; every anxious visit to the bathroom had me fearing the worst.

Fast forward 39 weeks, and what I assumed to be the start of my labour turned out to be an antepartum hemorrhage, thus after being induced and labouring for 14 hours to no success an emergency c-section was necessary. There was definitely a sense of failure that overcame me when I was told I needed a c-section, truth be told I was shattered. “You’ll feel better once your out of hospital and back home” said a dear friend, who shared with me her post partum woes, assuring me that it was completely normal to feel like your emotions have just gone through a spin-cycle in the washing machine.

Isaac cried. He cried and cried and cried. And slept and fed and cried. And slept and fed and cried. And slept and fed and cried some more. His screams and high pitched shrills pierced through my heart and soul. Was he in pain? Was his milk disagreeing with him? Colic? Silent reflux? Was something wrong? With him? With me? Why couldn’t I soothe him? Two weeks, four weeks, six weeks passed and it was the moment I found myself weeping heavy tears as I nursed him to sleep that I knew that this was more than just the post baby blues.

Thankfully my maternal health nurse had given me contact details at my home visit for a psychologist in my area who specialised in post-natal depression. That phone call to book my first appointment would turn out to be the first BEST decision I made as a new mother. Not the decision to breast feed or bottle feed, or which organic formula he would drink, or BPA free plastic cutlery he would use, or 1000 thread count cotton bed linen he would sleep on, but the decision I made to recognize that mentally motherhood and I were not seeing eye to eye, I needed emotional help and strategies to get me through one of the hardest things I’ve ever experienced. At the end of the day a happy mum = a happy baby.

PANDA – Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia 

 A special message waiting for me in my hospital room post surgery.

Keyboard warriors 

I feel like now more than ever we are trying so hard to find happiness in the most sterile and generic of places. How many times a day do you find yourself scrolling your social media feeds mindlessly, numb to what the images are actually doing to your state of mind ?

If it isn’t a perfectly posed and filtered selfie, a mouthwatering plate of whole-food goodness or decadant chocolate baked goods, to reminders of the pain and suffering of war torn Syria, injustices in Burma and hurricane stricken towns; how much are you absorbing on a level that’s mentally exhausting and downright unhealthy?

I’ll put my hand up personally and say too much. Many times I’ve found myself in this vicious cycle of self doubt and pity. It takes me a while to snap out of this state of mind and remind myself that so much of this social media life is painstakingly doctored and filtered ultimately altering my own sense of reality. What gets me though, the thing that makes every inch of my soul ache is not the perfect face or body that I look at in awe with a little bit of “I wish that was my life right about now” – or the perfect sunset taken along the Amalfi coast while I sit in pajamas at 4pm stained with Isaacs dried up cereal, it’s the commentary some people believe they have a right to make on such posts.

I was always told if you have nothing nice to say simply don’t speak. Sadly though many people believe that just because a person sets their social profile on public that gives any tom dick and harry a right to their two cents. These people sharing their lives, many just doing their jobs, sharing their art or hobbies, are being criticized and torn apart on the daily. Every single part of them nitpicked by these keyboard warriors. It’s painful to read and sad that so many people have lost their human side.

How many of us have taken the time to reach out and actually say something kind and positive about that post we just robotically ‘liked’. To genuinely say, “hey, I see you and although we are worlds apart your post, your image speaks volumes and I truly gain inspiration from your content. And it’s more then just a perfected selfie or pout, you’re a human being like me with thoughts and feelings and you don’t deserve to receive the hate you get”!

Take home message for the keyboard warriors; don’t use social media platforms like Instagram to bring others down in order to make yourself feel righteous and heard. It’s painfully obvious that you’re fueled with envy over the lives some people are fortunate enough to live. Try a little kindness and support, and if you can’t find that in you then don’t follow people who awaken that green eyed monster in you. And to the bloggers, vloggers, content creators, influencers out their who share their lives, their passions, their work, with us common folk, keep on keeping on! Your rawness, your talents, your art don’t go unnoticed!

“To be kind is good. To be kind without expecting anything in return is better.” Tariq Ramadan