is the little known partner for that most contested of Catholic sacraments – Penance aka Confession. The official name is Penance and Reconciliation.  I’ve had my ups and downs with the rights and wrongs of this dogma. Admittedly, I’ve found it quite cathartic at times and when compared to the cost of a visit to a therapist it’s a no brainer really. Even so, I only think of making the effort at Lent and Advent.

There is a more implicit part to this reconciliation thing, never mind being forgiven for one’s trespasses, there’s others’ trespasses against us.

Forgiving others – it’s not a onetime thing is it?  Just when I think I’m done and dusted with that THING that THAT PERSON did to me, the master bartender within me concocts a cocktail of anger, pain and revenge so powerful that I start to consider hiring a hitman. I live next door to a criminal lawyer and she told me that… – but I digress.

Forgiveness is a process. 

Three plus years into desert living, as each new wave of recruits arrives to my organization and I help some through the  shock and shit–ti-ness, my feelings of betrayal return, dragging me, often willingly, into the quagmire of self-pity.

At these times, I bore everyone around me with a recounting of my tales of woe. An uninitiated friend tried to help me reframe the experience,

 ‘Why do you think your employers did not tell you what you consider to be the truth?’

‘To get me here. Maybe they thought that if they told me all the details, I would not have come.  But, I would still have come but with much more realistic expectations.’

‘So their intention was good.’

“Hmm,’ I said, realizing but wanting to be slow to change my stance.

‘Have you ever done something similar?’

‘Couldn’t possibly comment.’

Several weeks after this conversation, Mandela passed. The news channels compete to find unique insights from this inspirational life but there are several recurring themes of which reconciliation is one.

 And I have an Archimedes moment: I know that the legacy I am claiming from Mandela is the courage to continue to choose reconciliation.

What is Mandela’s legacy to you?

Zero balance


The email from Barclaycard proclaimed that my balance is £0.00.

Woo hoo!

Never mind them recording conversations for training, I wished I could have recorded my card cancellation conversation for my edification.

We’re economic migrants in Qatar like our parents were/are in the UK. We’ve met many people who are here to save. We are too but before we do that we have debts to pay.

I like to say that our debts weren’t for Gucci boots and Prada bags and they weren’t.  We still have a student loan to take care of which we know has been an investment but here’s the brutal honesty bit:  some of the spending was living beyond our means in the UK.

Since Kofi got a job, we’ve been attacking our debt like a US drone on the Afghan/Pakistan border. We haven’t gone all sackcloth and ashes. I’ve always had and always will have champagne tastes.  But I don’t want to always have mauby  money so I had to become more disciplined.

This has been painful – pooling resources, making and sticking to a budget, tracking expenses, sacrificing planned expenditure when unexpected costs came up, saying no to socializing, refusing demands from my son and hiring a financial adviser.

It’s like being on Atkins and craving a plate of Jollof when I caress the Boori baby furniture and gaze at the Stokke  prams. But until my Ronaldhino or this kicker in my tummy is signed up for Arsenal, it’s daily monitoring of the classifieds of DohaMums among others for pre-loved gear.

Talking about money can often be taboo. Like most taboos, I’ve discovered that by talking about it helps lift my burden and encourages others to share their secrets. As I have admitted to the reason for us declining brunches or rationing on classmates’ birthday presents, others have started sharing their reality.

 What’s the sensitive subject that you’ve helped make less taboo?