Triena McGuirk: [00:00:00] I’d like to welcome our guest today. Amber Botha. Welcome Amber. Thank you. Amber’s joining us from South Africa and she is sharing some of her recent journey that she, um, recently, um, took in terms of, uh, participating in Ramadan and fasting. Um, but I think the theme that runs through Amber’s story that’s so meaningful is really her capacity to embrace discomfort, her capacity to, um, You know, sit with suffering or just sit with misery and the things that are really challenging and hard for us to, uh, that we all navigate in life and then reflecting on it and using it as a, as a point to spring forward, and actually invite growth and opportunity into her life. So I really thank you for being here today, Amber, and, um, everyone has so much to learn from your story. Thank you.
Muhammad Kermalli: Thanks for doing this, Amber. I, I, I really appreciate it. And, um, you know, [00:01:00] it’s amazing if I go back like four or five years ago, when we first started working together to think that we would be here today, mm-hmm, doing all the amazing things that we’re all doing, uh, and, and making the changes that we are and the impact that we are. Is that amazing? Like, could we have ever seen that happening? No,
Amber Botha: not at that time, but now it’s like amazing. It’s amazing. Before we come.
Muhammad Kermalli: Yeah. What a, what a journey on the way. And, um, so thank you for, for being here today, but there’s one thing that I’ve always consistently noticed about you is that, um, you know, you know, when everybody goes through challenges, right, like that’s life. and, um, we all go through challenges, but whenever you are faced with a challenge, there’s something different about the way that you, you handle challenge, uh, that the way that you approach challenge now, maybe that’s just what I’m seeing and the, the, ah, craziness is still happening, but you just never, you, you always seem to have this, um, even, even in those moments, you ever feel [00:02:00] those like, like a challenge comes in, in, you know, up in life at the beginning of that challenge, you find that uhoh here. It is, it’s real. Right. You get that feeling and there’s fear and there’s all that kind of stuff. Mm-hmm and, uh, and then you, you get through it and I’d love to be able to kind of just talk through some of those challenges. Mm-hmm um, and some of your recent breakthroughs as well.
But before we get into that, um, you’ve seen probably a couple of our episodes that we’ve looked at. Yes. What, what do you make of what we’re doing here at, at the breaking show? What do you think of it?
Amber Botha: I think it’s amazing. I think to hear everyone’s stories and how they’ve overcome their, um, fears or their challenges, it’s really, it’s amazing to hear and inspiring to hear their stories. So I think it’s really, it’s great.
Muhammad Kermalli: You know, that that’s amazing. There are a lot of, um, inspiring stories out there. Mm-hmm um, what would you say if anything is like sometimes the difference between how you see. [00:03:00] Happen here at the breaking show versus, you know, on another place. What, what do you really see as a difference if there’s any difference?
Amber Botha: I see, honestly, when I look at those or watch those videos, I see the, the true emotion coming out and the, and how genuine it is. It just feels so genuine. And it like touches the emotion, the raw emotion should I say? And just, it always ends like, it’s so positive just to hear how these people are speaking and, um, you know, how their lives have been changed. It’s very inspiring
Muhammad Kermalli: a lot of times when we are talking to these very same people, They themselves don’t necessarily think that there was anything special about the whole thing. That’s what I find the most amazing is that call it humility. I don’t know if it’s right word or not, but they they’re looking at it going, what. I screwed up. so many different ways. And, uh, you get what I’m saying? Like when they’re talking about it, maybe that’s the refreshing part. I don’t know.[00:04:00]
so, so in terms of like, you know, yourself, like, you know, uh, you know, from early childhood to kind of like where we are, um, you know, what, what would you say kind of. Were like some of your defining moments kind of, as you’re growing up, as you look back, you’re like how this, this really defined me. This really defined me. Do you have moments like that? That you can recall?
Amber Botha: I’ve got lots of those okay. Like literally, and we have like from seven hours,
Muhammad Kermalli: so
Amber Botha: let’s do it. and I think maybe that’s why, um, today, um, I’m so keen on and like ready for new challenges. No matter what life throws at me. Um, I think it all started from, I must say the biggest challenge, although, extreme and although extremely young, I was literally only two years old. And then my dad passed away at that age so that although I wouldn’t have quite remembered everything, it did still have an emotional impact. Um, yeah, so that was one of the, that was the first [00:05:00] time I’d been through something like that. And then growing up the next, um, Massive, um, point was when I was six years old, my brother and I, um, we like were placed to go and live with my aunt and uncle.
They took us in as, um, kids, um, to live with their family and they already had five kids of their own. So adding my brother and I it’s like was household of seven kids. Um, which was amazing. I love my childhood and I don’t think I would change it for anything. Um, so that was a very big point in my life where I had to, um, You know, I was taken away from my mother.
Obviously I had lost my father. Um, and then my aunt and uncles like stepped up into this role of being my parents. Um, I think at first it was challenging, but luckily, like I knew them, it wasn’t like I was going through to a completely different household or foster family. Um, so I was very lucky, blessed, um, that they had taken me in, um, And then going through teenager, that [00:06:00] was, that was typical teenagers.
You know, I tried to behave, tried to be good. My aunt was very, very strict on us. All. She had to be with seven kids in the family. I dunno how she did it. I don’t know at all. And actually she was, um, often, um, like man of the house because my uncle would work abroad. So for like three months he would be gone and then it would be just her, um, Yeah, it was, it was crazy, very challenging for her and for all of us as well, but it was amazing.
It was good science. Like I never regret any of that. Um, and then I, the next challenge I would say would be like getting married um, it was a change. I mean, I, um, got married at a very young age and, um, to this day I probably would, if I could. Um, other people in that age, you do not get married at that age? Well, I was 22. Okay. [00:07:00]
Muhammad Kermalli: When I got married or 20. Yeah. Yeah.
Amber Botha: But you probably had your head on, right? I didn’t even like, know what you Studi at that age now. I know what I would’ve studied.
Muhammad Kermalli: I do. I have my head on, right. I don’t know. But anyway, to carry on
Triena McGuirk: yeah.
Muhammad Kermalli: Yeah, it is pretty young,
Triena McGuirk: right? Relatively it’s. Yeah.
Amber Botha: It’s it’s young. Um, yeah, so there was, um, another milestone and then, um, and then I had two kids and then, um, eight years later, I would, I got, I went through a divorce, so that was like another challenge in my life. And every time I went through these challenges, even from, you know, when I was younger, I always knew that I would come out. Always, and I always knew God was there right by my side. And I think that’s what gave me the strength to not always worry too much about, um, where I’m gonna be. Cause I’ll always be looked after.
Muhammad Kermalli: So wait, so hold on a second. You, you, you have that thought like, as you’re going through it [00:08:00] at the beginning, like, okay, this is happening.
I’m gonna come out stronger. Is that actually yeah. When you look back to that moment, you’re going through whatever. You’re actually saying that to yourself. You actually remember saying that to yourself
Amber Botha: as a teenager. As a teenager, I just always thought
Triena McGuirk: experience.
Amber Botha: I had a,
Triena McGuirk: I remember being a teenager thinking like it was really bad. It was, and I’m what I’m.
Muhammad Kermalli: I was thinking why me? Oh God, why me? Yeah.
Triena McGuirk: I was like, oh God, I got, I got a lot of learning right now.
Muhammad Kermalli: You know? I think it’s, you’re saying to yourself, I’m gonna come out stronger.
Amber Botha: Yes. I knew it. I knew it and I felt
Triena McGuirk: it. Yeah. Yeah. I love that.
Muhammad Kermalli: Thank you. How do you, how, like, how did that start happening?
Because that’s not what [00:09:00] I I’m asking because I was nowhere close to my reaction. Like, um, You know, when, when I started going through challenges at first, uh, it, it was, uh, traumatic as they say, and I would hang onto the trauma of it. I would focus in on that part and that how, oh, this feeling sucks or. Whatever. I mean, you never had any of that thought.
Amber Botha: Um, there was a point when I was a teenager. I did, and I wrote it down in a book. Like actually what I would do is I would write songs down, but it, it was, so it was actually, they were so dark. The words were so dark that, um, Like, I think I just had to get all those emotions out. And that was how I found my release was to write it out. And then years later I went back to that book and I’m like, geez, was I at that level? Or like, were those my thoughts? So what release? Hold on, hold on. Sorry
Muhammad Kermalli: you saying you’re writing this stuff down? Yes. You’re writing this stuff down before. So when you were like 10 or nine, when did you start writing down?
Amber Botha: I would [00:10:00] say teenager about 15, 16.
Muhammad Kermalli: Okay. So you’re writing it when you started writing it, when you were and you were writing songs down.
Amber Botha: Yeah. So I would listen to like this dark music, but then also write down all my thoughts. And it was actually like songs. Like it would just be, to me, it would be like a song I’m like, okay, it’s great.
Muhammad Kermalli: But you’re writing down the actual song or were you writing down
Amber Botha: your thoughts? It was my thoughts, but in my head to me, that was my song. You know what I mean? Oh, it was a negative. She repeats it. Yes, I repeat it. And I’d go back, read it. I’m like, this is my song. This is my.
Muhammad Kermalli: So, well, since you were 15, you’re writing down the stuff and it’s, it’s like dark.
Yes. . That’s how
Amber Botha: it started. Yes. I think to like release everything. Yes.
Muhammad Kermalli: Okay. What made you think to write it down?
Amber Botha: I don’t know. I just started writing the one time. Just started writing. I’m like, wow. I like what I’m like at the time you like what you’re writing? Right. Um, it feels good to get something down on the paper and just mm-hmm release it, let it go. And then that’s [00:11:00] literally
Triena McGuirk: what we talked about earlier today with someone else is that you’re, you’re removing that energy right from your, from yourself and it is a
Amber Botha: release. Yeah, that’s true. Buthuh yeah. And I started noticing actually that I would. should I say feeding off the negative that I’ve written down on the page. And eventually when I went back and I, I really read what I’d written. I’m like, no, this isn’t me anymore. I’ve moved on now. And I just remember, you mean
Muhammad Kermalli: feeding off of the energy? What do you mean? Like give an
Amber Botha: example. So I was very angry as a teenager growing up, obviously moving in now with my aunt, cuz my mom, I felt, um, Like she took a different path and I felt, should I say neglected or abandoned?
Um, you know, how you go when you’re teenager, you think, you know everything and you, you don’t actually . So, so anyways, the, these negative thoughts. Yeah. I would just write them all down. Um, and then I would feed off that and it would actually make me angry. Becomes part of your person
Triena McGuirk: personality, almost like your identity.
[00:12:00] Is this anger, you’re this anger identity. Yes. And so feel like she was looking back and saying this no longer aligns who I am. Right. You’re not,
Muhammad Kermalli: but you said you were feeding off of it. I want to just understand that part. When you said I was feeding off it, like, you mean it was, it was making it like you were becoming more angry or were you acting. You know, because of it, like, is that what you
Amber Botha: mean? I was emotionally getting more angry. Okay. Like very angry. And then I would like to read it and then get that fire. And that anger burned up again. Yeah. So it’s rage of rage, but
Muhammad Kermalli: you said by writing it down, you were releasing it. You were feeling better.
So first you would feel better. You would write it. Yes. Then you would read it, then you would be worse. okay. I’m just trying to understand the chronology of things. Okay. So at that age more better? No. No, I’m just trying to understand you and exactly like, I, you know why I’m asking Amber, because this journalizing and this writing.
Comes up over and over and over again. [00:13:00] And I really wanna understand the different experiences people have. Yeah. I think
Triena McGuirk: perspective too. I think what she’s brought up is a really important point is how you journal. Right. And, um, and it’s all about being the most accurate that you can or. If you wanna be, have really dark feelings, just say, I, this is the darkness I’m feeling right now.
And then counter that with something else that is going well in your world. Cuz there always is something that we can well, generally find,
Muhammad Kermalli: right? So who’s doing this. She wasn’t doing that.
Amber Botha: A
Triena McGuirk: venting is usually through a perception of. I am going to just be anger and anger is gonna be on this page and it’s not gonna be the whole perspective.
Amber Botha: will. Not,
Triena McGuirk: not they, that I’m being incredibly generalistic, but people, and I’ve done this myself where we get, we just wanna get everything out. That’s dark, and you can
Amber Botha: releasing that. [00:14:00] Right.
Triena McGuirk: But then you go back and you live in it and you’re just inviting more the
Amber Botha: same. Yeah. And you’re like, wow, I’ll back now. I only feel it again. You know what I mean? Yeah.
Triena McGuirk: Yeah. It’s, it’s like, um, and it’s a trauma thing too, right? It’s a, it’s a trauma response to do that because as much as the pain is uncomfortable, it’s also familiar. right. So we know the pain and the pain is something that is, even though it’s not a pleasant feeling, it’s comfortable because of familiarity. Right. So,
Muhammad Kermalli: okay. Um, you’re writing down, you’re feeling good. Then you go back and it’s, you’re feeding off of it. And now I understand that was happening. And then what,
Amber Botha: and then, um, so I think like months, or even a year later, I go back to what I’d written. Because now I’ve moved on a bit from that. Now I stopped really writing down my emotions cause I’d got it all out on my paper, on the book. It was actually a book like
Muhammad Kermalli: 17 now. [00:15:00]
Amber Botha: Yeah, no, I was more yeah, 17. 18, correct. Okay. Um, and I was reading this I’m like, wow. I would be so embarrassed or like shocked if my aunt had to find this book and read what I’d written. And then the one day she had, um, they were building a, like, they made a fire. and, uh, just remember going and throwing this book into the fire and just like feeling so like a burden had been lifted off, you know what I mean?
So you wrote it all down. You think you’re getting all out of your system and then you go back and read what you did and then it feels you’d makes you more angry. And then, um, eventually just. Like I stopped writing and then yeah, I needed to burn the book. Like I was my aunt still to this day, like if she was still alive, um, she would knock, she doesn’t even know what I’d written on this book.
Muhammad Kermalli: in this book. So what did you feel by when you burned the book? What, what did that do for you? I
Amber Botha: felt a relief release and a burden had just been lifted and I [00:16:00] felt good burning the book. I, I don’t know, like, like all my anger is gone.
Muhammad Kermalli: like you detached from it completely. Yeah. And then like you, like, you killed, you severed the connection.
Amber Botha: Correct. And I still stood there smiling, like I’ve moved on. Yeah. Which is a good point in my life.
Muhammad Kermalli: That’s awesome. And you were like around 17, 18 then?
Amber Botha: Correct. And then yes, lane high school.
Muhammad Kermalli: right. That’s really defining. so, uh, so that’s an, that’s an interesting point. That’s that’s when you get the feeling that like now you’re, you’re on the next phase.
Amber Botha: Mm, exactly. And then everything, everything was Rosie after that. No. then you get married and a divorce and . Yeah.
Muhammad Kermalli: Um, so that’s interesting guys, cuz um, I mean that’s how we got there is that you, you said like, as you’re going through these challenges, you feel. You you’re gonna get stronger from it. And that’s what kind of led us to that point. [00:17:00] Um, but you never always thought that is the, is, is, is kind of like what I’m getting is that at some point in time, you switched from a dark side to, it’s going to get, it’s gonna make me stronger. And would you say that that burning of that book was that moment or did it happen more gradually?
Amber Botha: No, I think it was at that moment because I still stood there smiling thinking I’m gonna be okay. I will always be. I’ll always be looked after. I will always find my way. I just, I needed like, you get people that will, um, wallow in it and it will bring them down. And, um, they, they can’t, um, get out of the situation and eventually it turns to like pity and everything. And I just, I couldn’t let that happen. Like I needed to grow, I needed to keep moving forward. Um, and I think
Triena McGuirk: part of that too, is the acknowledgement that you had. Resiliency factors. There are protective factors like your aunt and uncle, like, and you’re saying in a family. Right. So even though it’s [00:18:00] not what you maybe had an ideal of, but it was still, it was still a family. Right. So it just looked differently now. Yeah.
Muhammad Kermalli: What’s interesting is, uh, you also just. And you just say in such a nonchalant, I had to feel like I was moving forward. I had to feel like I was growing. So does that mean that you felt you weren’t moving forward and that you weren’t growing so long as you were hanging onto that?
Amber Botha: Exactly. So I, I just didn’t want to smother me. Like I didn’t, I didn’t wanna feel like I couldn’t, um, move forward. Like I, I didn’t want anything to hold me back. Yeah. So you have to, you have to make that. Yes. Anger. Why? Yeah. Why it’s part
Triena McGuirk: doesn’t define her. I think that’s, I think that’s what I get from that moment. It’s a part of you that you’ve now incorporated, but it’s not your identity. It’s part of your experience. So it’s really symbolic what you did. It’s really quite powerful.
Muhammad Kermalli: Yeah. It’s very powerful. Very symbolic. [00:19:00] Yeah. The reason I wanna understand this is it’s funny, cuz it helps me understand myself. I’m like, yeah.
Okay. I remember, um, you know, it’s, it’s interesting that when we, when. Stay connected to our dark side, call it. Like, there’s a little bit of a, like a, even like a, you know how to say like misery loves company. So like, you, you, you feel like, you know what I’m saying? Right. Like you feel like I’m feeling the hate. I’m feeling the anger right now, but I’m feeling good that I’m angry. Do you know? Like, like I’m, I’m getting. But then in the very same person in the very same moment, in the very same mind, you are also aware that you’re not moving forward and you’re not growing. I’m not moving forward. I’m not growing.
Exactly. So those two exist simultaneously. I find that to be amazing. Yet many people choose to ignore that part of I’m not growing. I’m not moving forward and they stay to the, I feel good. Just being [00:20:00] angry. so, so they both, they’re both like, feel good. One is that moment of like rage that I feel good in my rage. Let me stay here. Yes. In my anger, I wanna stay this. I want to feel this mm-hmm and then there’s the other side of wanting to grow? How do you finally decide to yourself burn the book
Amber Botha: on this? I honestly dunno what brought me to that point. I think just, I think what happened was reading, going back, like after that year, reading what I’d written, I’m like.
I have grown already from that point. I don’t want to feel that anger anymore. It’s not who I am. I’ve I’ve hold onto it long enough. I don’t need, I don’t need it anymore. I’ve I’ve grown that. And then I saw that fire. I’m like, that’s where that book’s going. that’s why am I release? Is
Muhammad Kermalli: yeah, fire being a source of. Totally.
Amber Botha: And I had to keep my aunt and uncle, like away from that fire, like at the time it perfectly, cause I did not want them to see [00:21:00] what to do in that book.
Muhammad Kermalli: that’s amazing. That’s amazing. Thank you so much for that. I think that’s so helpful because I think a lot of, I know I’ve been stuck in the same sort of situation where I’m more connected to my dark side and then I just don’t wanna let go of it. Mm-hmm I just, I. Happy in my misery and just, you know, people have tried to help me get out of that. I’m sure. Like it happens, cuz people notice that about you and they love you and they wanna pull you out. But you’re like, you know, I decide for myself, you know what, I’m good here in my anger. I’m gonna stay here. Yeah. But it
Triena McGuirk: serves the purpose too, right? Like, you know, suffering or discomfort or misery, whatever we wanna label it. That discomfort you. It’s part of the incorporation process, because that’s where the learning takes place. Like when you think of the analogy of the butterfly, right? Like the struggle to get outta the cocoon.
If you, if you slice open the cocoon that that butterfly is never gonna fly. [00:22:00] It’s the struggle. It’s the suffering, the, the fight to. To birth and be able to have your wings, like then you can come to, you know, the, the lighter side of yourself. So I think it’s, I, I, I always, like when I understand pulling people out of things, like from a clinical sense, but I think we have so much value in being able to sit with that sadness or sit with that darkness sometimes.
Amber Botha: Exactly. But not too much.
Muhammad Kermalli: That’s I didn’t know all this about you, Amber. That’s amazing. Like, uh, cuz I always wondered where it came from and I gotta say Amber, like, that’s kind of why I just look at you like as a role model and I think of you as like, I was like, wow, how is it that you, where do you get this from?
but yet you had to have like all of that happen to you first. Mm. and then for you to overcome it. And I keep, I keep saying like that the glory is in the obstacle itself. Like, you know, so go through that. Could you say that you would’ve had this level of commitment, this level of strength, if you hadn’t gone through [00:23:00] that?
Amber Botha: I don’t, I don’t believe so. I think I had to go through what I did to get to, even to this point where I am now in my life, like, like recently I’ve had just been through such a, um, a crazy time and I, again, I needed to pull myself. Um, now I’m maybe floor, anything I’m gonna say on actually,
Muhammad Kermalli: honestly. And, um, yeah, like I, we’ve been kind of like, as, as, as coworkers, you know, I only see like the peripheral, right?
The outside the surface of it, Hey, you need a week off or what have you. And, um, you know, you just went on and you just, you do what you gotta do and you deal with it. What I find amazing about you is. You, you didn’t sit there and you, you still don’t, you don’t sit there and, um, like you don’t try to relive it, you know, you don’t go through the self pity part or do you ever feel that you go through that self pity part or you don’t even give yourself time for that anymore? What, what, what do
Amber Botha: [00:24:00] you do? Um, I don’t think I have time for that anymore. So I think what I try and do now is literally fill up my day with as much as possible. So I don’t think about all of that. Um, but. I think, um, I just know that there’s always light at the end of the tunnel. There’s always a way out or, um, you know, with the decisions that you you make. So I don’t know, it’s always just something to keep going, keep living for.
Muhammad Kermalli: So it’s interesting. You say you try to fill up your day with good things. Like, uh, you actually sit there and you think to yourself, okay. By put enough of this, I, is it that you, that Trina, like, I mean, is this. You know, uh, adaptive or I love using these uh, is it, is it a way of coping and not dealing with it or is it actually that you’re not actually like, you’re like, okay, there it is. What water? I don’t know nothing about
Triena McGuirk: like a clinical sense, but, um, what I, what comes to me when I hear her say that is, um, Not [00:25:00] as an avoidance technique. Like it, my ears did perk up, uh, picking up like, is this a trauma response? But I also could see it as, um, Coming back to our conversation earlier today of recognizing what things, um, really increase your energy, what things energize you, what things are passionate, because we always have these mundane tasks in life. Like. I gotta go empty the dishwasher, can’t stand empty, the dishwasher, totally mundane.
So I, you know, I’m gonna go swimming after that. Right. That’s my reward. So I think that’s more of the balance is knowing we have these tasks that we don’t always wanna do. Some of it, unfortunately. For people is their, their profession. And so, and I know that’s not the case for you, Amber, but I know for many it is.
But I think there’s an important message in that is [00:26:00] just making sure we always make time to invite what aligns and what gives back to nurture us and give us the energy to do the things we like and to things that we don’t necessarily wanna do. Right. So, because it’s so easy for the good stuff to not be in our schedule because life work stuff or, you know, busyness and helping other people. Not that that’s not a good thing, but it’s still, you know, it’s still us giving, right.
Muhammad Kermalli: Hmm. So, um, so like take us to, um, maybe your most recent sort of breakthrough moment that you had. Um, I gotta say, like, you know, it started with you saying to me that I’m gonna support you and Fatima, right. And I’m gonna be there beside the two of you as you go through Ramadan. Why, why do you think of choosing Ramadan or fasting for like something to do something to fill. Your plate with, so, um, say filling your plate with
Amber Botha: when it got, [00:27:00] yeah. Mostly empty the plate
Muhammad Kermalli: is half full. Yeah. Yeah.
Amber Botha: so, um, you think of that so recently? Um, just, it was actually weeks before Ramadan. I went through, it was actually February. Um, I went through a very. Bad time in my life, again, like really bad. And I didn’t know how I would get out of this situation. So I’m like something has to happen because, um, I was getting depressed and that’s not who I am. I’m not a depressed person, but this is so major because it like, um, you know, it, wasn’t only about me now.
It’s about the kids too. So I had to make a decision to change everything that was happening in my thoughts, like my thought processes, my life, um, my habit. Everything. So I thought this is like the perfect time to do this challenge, um, and to support, you know, Muhammad and Fatima and to get their [00:28:00] support as well.
It was the perfect time. I’m like, I’m gonna do this. I’m gonna get past this. Cuz if I can get past this, I can get through anything and have the discipline to get to anything else. Um, so I pushed myself and. And I did it and amazing at last. So just for
Triena McGuirk: my, I haven’t heard what I know. I know Ramadan is a month of fasting, but it’s the hours of daylight that you’re not allowed to eat. Is that correct?
Amber Botha: Correct. Yeah.
Muhammad Kermalli: So the way Ramadan works is, is that it says to you that you can’t, you know, like from the, from the religious perspective, like the, the way it’s outlined the guideline is that you don’t eat from Dawn to dusk, right. From sunrise to sunset. Okay. And, and the idea. , um, there’s a, there’s a few sort of principle of, you know, uh, you know, wins that you get out of this.
And the concept is this is that, uh, it’s a cleansing, right? So the point is that is, is to cleanse. And the thought is that there’s, there’s a physical element, but there’s also a spiritual element and they go hand in [00:29:00] hand mm-hmm , it’s, it’s interesting because it’s tied to food and what we eat and you know, how you talk about gut health. Yeah. And the wellness of your gut is key. So this is built into, um, you know, Islamic ritual and, and practice to do a gut cleanse to, to make it mandatory, to have a cleanse, hence mandatory because now I understand, oh, there is another benefit of a gut cleanse. So before all this modern science is there.
Triena McGuirk: I never thought of it that way. I remember friends doing at university, but it’s, it does have that impact for sure.
Muhammad Kermalli: Cleansing. Right? So it’s but the other concept behind it is that it’s to develop a sense of resiliency and willpower, and the thought behind that is that eating is not a forbidden act. Mm-hmm right. It’s not a forbidden act. So if you can control your sense of what is not forbidden. then that just makes you stronger for dealing with the things that are forbidden. [00:30:00] Right. And it’s usually the things that are forbidden that are the most tempting. Yeah. So it’s like, okay, well, if you can develop this willpower right, then you can deal with the, the stuff that’s forbidden. So that’s another concept. And then, oh, and then
Triena McGuirk: heard that part before. I
Muhammad Kermalli: love that. And then there’s also the concept. You know, being able to build empathy for, you know, when you’re sitting there hungry for like, you know, after a few hours of not eating, uh, you can actually sit there and go, huh? So this is what it feels like, you know, and exactly this is.
How much I am blessed to constantly have. I will never complain about there not being enough salt in the food again. yeah. Or, you know, stuff like that. So there are these awakenings, they, there there’s a sense of appreciations. Yeah. But what tends to happen? And, you know, and I can say this being a Muslim as well, that inside the Muslim community, sometimes it’s become, um, like it’s become misunderstood. So what happens is it, it feels like it’s this starvation [00:31:00] practice of starvation and people because they don’t see the benefit. They’re like, Ugh, here comes Ram down again. Uh, I can’t do this and I can’t do that. And they get all cranky. And as a result of it, it it’s like this they’ve fallen into this sense of like, who are me, I’m going through fasting right now.
And, uh, please support me because you know, don’t give me meetings that are long and don’t give me this. Worry. Like, it’s just like this, like it’s like that going through this. Yeah. This pity party and please, you know, support me. And I’m thinking, dude, nobody asked that you could choose not to do not to be a Muslim. If you don’t wanna be like, you know, you just carry on with it. It’s not everybody else’s problem. That you gotta go fast, you know, so I’m a little bit like I take a different route on it. And so
Triena McGuirk: like within your experience, like, I’m just, I really don’t know. So like, within your experience of being a Muslim with that kind of, um, current in your community, Yeah.[00:32:00]
Were they like, are people shunned if they don’t fast or, cause I know lots of Catholics that don’t go to church all the time. It’s like, oh, definitely. Depending on who the family member is, like, they have different opinions of them. It’s really
Muhammad Kermalli: let’s call it. Let’s call it. Let’s say that it’s reinforced.
Okay. Positively and negatively. So, okay. You know, when we were younger and I remember when my kids were younger, we was like, every day you fast, I’ll give you $10. Right. And smart parents would be like
Amber Botha: that’ve. Yeah. But
Muhammad Kermalli: no, this is how they would offset it. And then they’ll say for every day you don’t fast, you owe me 20. So it’s like, wow, no, no, like it’s whichever way you wanna do it. Right. Oh, my goodness. The idea is to, is to encourage the practice, right? And so there’s different ways to,
Triena McGuirk: it’s a beautiful practice.
Muhammad Kermalli: It is. Well, what happens is sometimes at the end of the day, what people do is they Gorge, uh, which is again, not a good [00:33:00] practice, which is not recommended even in, in the Islamic teachings, but they do this. And then there’s all kinds of means that come out about it. And then at the end, The, the there’s a festival called eat.
It’s a celebration, but it’s a supposed to be a celebration of our growth and all the things that we achieved. Instead, it becomes this shopping, you know, party atmosphere. And it’s almost celebrating that it’s the end of that torturous month, you know, like we can go back to all the things that we were doing beforehand. And so there’s absolutely no. So when somebody like Amber comes across and says, I want to use this as a tool. Yeah. I regret it. And I thought, hold on, let me ask you, I find
Triena McGuirk: this so interesting. Cuz my experience like when I was doing my undergrad, I, some of my closest friends were Muslim and they acknowledged and participated in Ramadan and. um, I feel like [00:34:00] my exposure to them cause we lived together and stuff and study. So I would see them pray and, you know, eat and stuff with them. And it was, it was very much, I could see the spiritual side of it having, having been their friend through that experience and close proximity. So it’s so interesting for me to hear your experience within the community and how that’s being received by. Um, portions of people, like, what was your experience like with it, Amber?
Amber Botha: Um, well basically told like my colleagues, I mean, they were all supportive, um, especially my family as well. Um, because they’ve also like a lot of my aunts and uncles have fasted as well, but not for so long. They’ll do like, um, four days max, and then they would see what I’m going through and.
they respect it. They really, really do. Often they would forget and say, can I make you a cup of tea? I’m like, Hmm, no, thank you. I’ll just take for your company. But, um, yeah, they were respectful. They really will. They were. And then it’s [00:35:00] so funny. My, my daughters, they don’t hear the word fasting. They tell everyone mommy starving. So then I, you like, see the neighbors, I’m not starved, like I’m eating, I’m just fasting. So, um, I, I was very grateful. Everyone’s support really. I felt a lot of support and love and, um, respect should I say in my past? So
Triena McGuirk: go on. So yeah, my next question was like, just about your mindset around that, because you entered it with, um, from such a depleted state. And now you’re, you’re doing something that’s not only physically challenging, but also mentally challenging. The mental challenge I feel is probably the biggest one to overcome with that. I would, I’ve never fasted that long, but, so what was your experience like in terms of your affect over the course of the month?
Amber Botha: so it was extremely challenging for me. Like I said, um, when I first started, like, I was very depressed, like extremely, so that’s when I had made [00:36:00] the thoughts and the decision to change things. And in the, the first few weeks was very challenging for me. Um, I had to get my mind right. And pure, should I say, uh, my end goal was to feel peace at what, you know, everything that I’d done.
Um, So it was very challenging. Um, but I just knew I had to keep pushing and, and I knew in the end I would grow and, and be something so much better and, and that I can conquer anything. Um, and also I can give my support to other people, you know, that go, that’s going through the same situation. So, um,
Muhammad Kermalli: so hold on a second. So we, again, back to Trina’s question, you’re, you’re already in a depleted. Yes. And then you do something that, that depletes you further. Yes. to get to a better place. You have never faceted like this before. What made you think that you would get to a [00:37:00] better place?
Amber Botha: I believed I had to get to another place, a better place. I believed that I had to, and I knew that I would cuz previous, like when I told you earlier on I’ll always know, I’ll be fine. I’ll always be looked after I’ll always come out stronger. Um, but I needed to, because what actually made me decide that I always, because there was a moment where I didn’t believe I would and I had, and, and I’m like, no, I’ve never felt that before I need to change. Let me go through something I need to, I need this and I need to get past it. And that’s what made
Muhammad Kermalli: me. So you, you said initially it was very challenging. What, what made it challenging?
Amber Botha: Definitely not, not eating part, but eventually didn’t become wasn’t about that in the end, I realized like the first I’m not gonna lie the first two to three weeks, it was extremely challenging And eventually I thought it’s not about the food anymore. To me, it was like, I needed to find [00:38:00] myself. I needed to get back with God. Um, I needed to find who I was, um, needed to be stronger for my kids, because I’m now gonna be like, um, alone. Like I had to literally, I was, um, about to get engaged, so I needed to, um, just change everything in my life drastically.
I knew that I, I was gonna be the sole person. Um, looking after the kids. So I had to be a better mother, a stronger mother. I had to be, um, better for myself too.
Muhammad Kermalli: So, you know, like for, for Muslims, Trina, like, it’s like, you can’t eat right up until this time. If you eat 10 minutes before that time. Yeah.
Triena McGuirk: I’ve literally, yeah.
I’ve literally taken away.
Muhammad Kermalli: not only does the fast law count. It’s not a pay a fine. Of more fasts. Yes. Yeah. Up for those 10 minutes. If you broke it early, that didn’t apply to you. Um, Amber, you didn’t have that [00:39:00] requirement. So did you ever feel to yourself? Ah, I’m close enough. let’s do this. Come on.
Amber Botha: No, I would literally make my food.
Triena McGuirk: I know. I would be for sure. For
Amber Botha: sure. If you go, my thought process is if I’m gonna do this, I’m gonna do it. Um, there’s no cutting corners.
Triena McGuirk: You have that struggle. The
Amber Botha: last 10 minutes. It was a struggle. So I would go to my laptop and message the team. I’m like, I’ve got 10 minutes left. My food’s ready. and she’s like, you got 10 minutes girl.
Muhammad Kermalli: Okay. Okay. So you had like, you, you got the buddies around you kinda for the intervention. Yeah, but
Amber Botha: Tema was very much remember
Muhammad Kermalli: my younger one when he did his first full fast, and we never told him when he should, or when he shouldn’t. Those last that I think the last half hour, he just had the fridge open and he’s just staring inside the fridge and we’re like help.
You just don’t close the fridge, man. Uh, but it is not [00:40:00] easy that first day and that first week, um, just getting the body conditioned, uh, especially if you’re not yet aware of the wins that are coming. So you’re focused on the win and, and, uh, and, and that’s actually. That gives you strength. Like it’s unbelievable.
And that’s true for any situation, right? You focus on the, the, the, the result, but, um, you felt the same thing and, and you didn’t, you didn’t cut the corner. No. And you could have, I find that just amazing.
Triena McGuirk: I a question just for clear, cause you’re in South Africa and yourself, and Fatima are Ontario. Did you fast, cuz I know you work on Ontario hours.
Did you fast Ontario hours or your south African
Amber Botha: daylight hours? Yeah, the south African hours. Okay. So I could eat from 6:00 PM. Okay. That’s beautiful call like
Muhammad Kermalli: food while we were sitting there. No, she wouldn’t wouldn’t do that. She wouldn’t do that. [00:41:00] So, so, uh, so, uh, so it’s interesting because yeah, you would be going through your sundown kind of like at the beginning parts of our, of, of our day.
Yes. And you would probably because you work remotely, it’s right in the middle of your work day as well. Mm-hmm and, and so. You know, you’d have to go through the same experience of going to work and doing all that other stuff like everybody else. And, um, and so you got through the first week at some point in time, did you feel like you, well, like when did, if at all, did it start feeling a little bit easier or you’re like getting used to it?
How long into it?
Amber Botha: I must say the last week, I think I really reached my breakthrough. Like I saw, um, a change in myself. I saw, um, um, Like my goals getting set. Um, one of the things was to find God again, and I had did that. I’ve done that throughout. Um, and, and I think that was just such a [00:42:00] breakthrough for me.
Um, and then the last week was actually okay. And then I started adding in like going for my runs, but timing it. Right. Cause I love. I love it. And through fasting, I was like, oh, I can’t really run. Um, because I need to conserve my image. You couldn’t do that at first. No, I did it the one day and I said to fat team, I’ve done this.
And she’s like, oh, why did you do that? I’m like, oh, I’m so sorry. But talk to me, help me. So then the last week I’m like, okay, let me do it. I’ll go for run. And you still didn’t. Uh, yeah, that day I was, um, I must say energy wise, very low, but I still pushed through, I still had to get the work done. Um, but yeah, and then the last week I just timed my runs from like five o’clock and then I, I felt so much energy after my run.
I’m like, I don’t actually need food, but then I was like, you better still eat at six, you know, otherwise you’re gonna definitely. Um, no energy, like a few hours later, but, um, I [00:43:00] just found my, I found my way. I found what works for me.
Triena McGuirk: So coming out of this, Like where do you feel your growth is? You have the, the, the connection with God, but what are the day to day things that you see that are, are different for you in like the lessons that came out of this?
Because, um, it would have to have such, like, in terms of your affect, like, how do you, like, obviously you’re not depressed anymore. I think that’s a pretty . I think that’s
Amber Botha: a pretty good assumption.
Triena McGuirk: Um, but like what, what is it that you’re embodying more now of. I guess the feelings. And how was that showing up in your life differently from where you were in contrast to
Amber Botha: February?
I think I’ve, my thoughts are definitely, um, a lot clearer now and, um, I’m at peace, so everything I’m just positive now, I feel positive. There’s a sense of peace. Um, I’ve got control over my life now and my thoughts. Um, yeah, I can just [00:44:00] move on and. I think that I used to have a great sense of discipline now.
Like I’m really ready to take on the next challenge. I actually want another challenge and not just an easy challenge. I was telling mom, I want a six pack so that’s like a game it’s, it’s hard work and it’s, and I need to be disciplined for that. Um, it’s so silly, but I mean, I’ve wanted a six pack since I was like, um, before I had kids and I’ve never reached that goal cause I was never disciplined.
And now I feel like I’ve grown to a point where I can actually have that. Now I can grow. To be honest. Yeah. It always felt like I was living in a, I don’t know, like I was living in my teenage years though. Like, I always felt like I’m not adult enough or I’m not big enough to do anything. And now I just, I feel like I’m an adult now.
like, I’ve reached certain challenges. Um, and I’ve overcome them. And I just feel like I’ve grown so much in that last, like I grew more in that month than I. have In all my [00:45:00] other years. that,
Triena McGuirk: was the thought that was unpacked over this month is I’m not good. I’m not adult enough is
Amber Botha: what you said. I’m good. I’m not adult enough.
And it it’s so silly, but I always felt like I’m not adult enough. Exactly. Like I’m not a grown up. I dunno why.
Triena McGuirk: Yeah. You know, when you first, when you first thought of that, Oh, when you first had that thought that you weren’t
Amber Botha: adult enough? Oh, for many years. Um, yeah, back in my past year for many years. And now. Yeah. It’s always actually been a, um, a thing on my mind the whole time. Like when do I grow up? When must I grow up and when I grow up, what should I do?
And it’s not growing up in a sense of age. It’s um, I don’t know. It’s virtually and perceptionally. Yeah, exactly. I never felt like I’d always look at my aunt. I’m like, wow. Was she at this point in her life at that age? You know, to me, she’s always been exactly. She’s always been this grown up and you can go to for any [00:46:00] advice or anything like that.
And that’s where I wanted to be. And I didn’t feel mentally that I was there. And so this whole experience has just I’ve. I feel like an adult now. , I’ve really grown. Like I’ve earned the title now. that’s
Muhammad Kermalli: good. Wow that say that, but you did
Triena McGuirk: integration, you did a lot of integration stuff and um, this past month it was pretty pivotal, amazing stuff. It
Amber Botha: really is. I feel amazing.
Muhammad Kermalli: I really do. Um, is that what you thought you were going to get when you first started?
Amber Botha: Yes, actually, because I had my goals at the end of the tunnel and I knew I was gonna get them. I had quite a few, um, and I knew I’d reach every single. You know that, you know, like at the deepest points in my life,
Triena McGuirk: I know that I’m gonna be fine.
You don’t, you might not know how it’ll materialize, but you feel it, you know what it’s going to feel like. And you’re just not sure how it’s gonna look, but this is,
Amber Botha: this is what I want. And that’s what I’m gonna [00:47:00] get. yeah. You need to push yourself for those goals.
Muhammad Kermalli: What I’m trying to understand, um, is that if, if you and I like the word that you used, like materialized, um, Yeah, I know which one of you said that, but if you felt like these were your goals, right, then maybe you achieved these goals just because you had these goals, you materialized them and fasting had nothing to do with it.
Um, what makes, why, why would you say that the fasting going through that? Hmm, that’s a good point. Why would you, why you isolate that variable? What if you didn’t. would you got the goals anyway?
Amber Botha: Like I don’t think I would’ve Muhammad. I think I needed, I needed. So even being solo, I needed a massive challenge that would change my life.
I needed to change something and I thought if I don’t eat or, you know, it’s, it’s a discipline. So I’m getting discipline [00:48:00] into my life. I needed that discipline. Otherwise I don’t think I would’ve reached those goals quite as you know, where I could have, like, I’ve really reached those goals now. Like I reached far and beyond for them.
It’s that the process was, but I think if I didn’t have that process or that thought those thoughts, I wouldn’t have actually reached them like to my full potential. I would be disappointed with myself.
Muhammad Kermalli: Well, what if, um, this is great. Like, I mean, it’s, it’s like, it’s a it’s. It’s a four argument. Yeah. Like, oh yeah, do this.
You’ll get more discipline. You’ll get to your goals quicker. But how do you know you’ve actually reached your goals? Like it’s a state of mind goal. Mm-hmm how do you know you’re there you say, you say like I’m there and at the beginning of the, the fasting month, you said you were not there. So how do you know you’re there?
Like, you feel like an adult now, like really? That’s it?
Amber Botha: No, I’ve got no, no. How does that work? I’ve got a sense of peace. Now. I am happy with who I am. I am happy with the transition that I went through. [00:49:00] Um, and I had to go through that transition and I feel happy now I’ve got that piece. I’ve got my thoughts collected.
Um, I needed that didn’t
Amber – breaking-with-muhamm_untitled-recording_untitled-clip_composer-916hdugvk_clip_2022-may-18-1729pm-utc-riverside: have
Muhammad Kermalli: that same level of peace and tranquility no before. No,
Amber Botha: I was, I promise you,
Triena McGuirk: he didn’t know who you’re now. I feel like you, you know
Amber Botha: who you are differently,
Muhammad Kermalli: you know, that’s what they actually do say about Ramadan that it’s actually like, um, and not just Ramadan, but all such sort of practices is that they’re more. Right. Um, they will take you catalyst for change they’re catalyst for change.
Exactly. Uh, because you are like, so disrupting yourself and, and you disrupt yourself on a physical level. YESS are actually supposed to go through a mental disruption. Mm-hmm and a spiritual disruption. And since you’re disrupting here, you can disrupt there as well. So the thought is like, it’s not even supposed to be a physical fast, it’s actually supposed to be a mental fast as well.
Meaning we’re not supposed to be thinking thoughts that are negative or thoughts that are like, you [00:50:00] know, not to be thought. Um, so there’s also that there is actually that element in fasting built in and even, um, even spiritually, we are to kind of start detaching from, you know, from different things as the month goes on so that we are as much now.
In a state of detachment in a state of complete, like focus on the self. And then they say things happen. But because many people don’t get to that state because they don’t have that intent from the beginning or they don’t have that goal. I think support
Triena McGuirk: for support is a piece of it, too. Exactly, exactly.
Is if you have people around you that complain about it all the time, then that’s kind of gonna be, but if you get people with a different mindset, that was my only experience with people with a different mindset around it. Yeah, and it, I honestly hearing this, I’m like, this would be really great if the world could just shut down for every year and [00:51:00] all just like deal with ourselves for a little bit,
Amber Botha: you need that change. And I needed that change and I needed a massive challenge to like, rock me off the rails to know I’m gonna reach my goals. This is what I want so badly. I’m gonna get, I’m gonna go for it.
Muhammad Kermalli: Mm, wow. That’s amazing. Um, thank you for, uh, for like walking us through, not just that, but kind of like the other part of you that kind of, that I think had to also be present to, to make the most of that moment to make the most of that month is that you.
It’s interesting, Trina. They say also, as we approach the, the month of Ramadan, it’s not like you just get into it day one, there’s actually a lead up to it. There’s a ramping up to prepare yourself and they actually say, you should get yourself mentally prepared [00:52:00] and physically prepared because you’re about to go on this beautiful journey.
And most people don’t even bother with that preparation. They just kind of like put it. And then again, because they don’t reap the benefits like Amber has they go through it? Like, what was the point of that? And I, I can speak to it myself. Like I’ve been through that myself many, many years where I was like, so what did I get out of that?
You know? And then when I started thinking differently and that’s Amber’s credit, you have to have thought differently. Yeah, you have to have come that way and you have to say, I’m doing this. I got a purpose I’m gonna use. Or the benefit then you started getting the benefit and that’s why the counter question, maybe it was just cuz you had the right attitude, maybe it’s cuz you had the right mindset that you would’ve achieved it anyway.
Did fasting really do that for you? But. You know, it did, you know,
Triena McGuirk: it’s part of her experience. Yeah,
Muhammad Kermalli: it did. I mean, it’s your experience, so that’s, that’s real to you, right? Mm-hmm yeah. Um, so you, you’re gonna do this again next
Amber Botha: year. actually Mohamed. I think I will. Hey, actually [00:53:00] I believe I will. I really, I do want to because you can always grow and you can always learn and spiritually, mentally, and physically, I mean, and it was such a great learning curve for me and experience and journey that I, I wanna keep.
Triena McGuirk: And so you entered mindset. Who knows what you’ll come out with this time too,
Amber Botha: right? Exactly. I went in like so dark and, but I came out so peaceful, you know, in the end and. I can like really? Yeah, I’ve got, quite a lot of respect for the, for the Muslims. I must say like, it’s humbling.
Muhammad Kermalli: I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t say for all of them to be perfectly honest, I would just simply say for you and Patima process.
I, I, I love the learning. I love the ideas. I love the, the, the concept. Yes. I don’t think, um, the entire Muslim world or community does it the way you even did it to be quite Frank with you. And which is why I would, I would have them listen to this message and. Here’s how you do it, right. um, honestly, [00:54:00] honestly, I’m gonna tell you that straight up and I don’t, I think you can learn from anybody and you should learn from everybody.
And I, I think you are like, I mean, I’m honestly, like I’m blown away with just how, um, just how, how you’ve done it. Um, and then the ambition starts kicking in like, oh, if I could do this, I wonder what else I could do preparing for
Triena McGuirk: the next year. You don’t have the barriers that you thought were there before, right?
Amber Botha: Not at all. Not all you can overcome anything.
Triena McGuirk: Yeah. They seem like some like hurdles rather than a barrier.
Muhammad Kermalli: That’s the other thing is like, you start seeing it as, you know, the opportunity versus, you know, the opportunity. Yeah. It’s positive. Yes. You know, I’ve even heard Trina of doctors, like. Uh, prescribing fasting for a week or prescribing fasting for a couple of few days in order to get people to a certain condition, to, to then hit critical mass points to tip them in, in the right direction.
Usually like, um, you know, as a, as a part of a, of an [00:55:00] overall. You know, prescription for, for a better state. But, um, but certainly it’s not the only piece there there’s like other pieces to it, but I love how it just comes in there as part of like a routine in the year it’s gotta be done. Yeah. I’ve told your story, Amber, to so many people.
And I say to them, like, look at this person here. Who’s who’s like, to me, like, um, Like I said, like shown us, like how it ought to be done, what kind of attitude to take into it and look at the benefits of somebody can say they got out of it. But, um, yeah, it’s something that can be done anytime of a year or two.
That’s true. Right. That’s true. Mm-hmm that’s true. Um, and now if somebody’s going through that, they can. Look up Amber and Amber can be their buddy last 10 minutes. You know,
Amber Botha: this last 10 minutes, lucky at Fatima , but Muhammad you as well. Thank you. It was, it was an amazing experience and journey, and I’m glad I shared it with the Fatima,
Muhammad Kermalli: honestly, like we enjoyed every step of the way being there with you.
[00:56:00] And I don’t think I did much, honestly, uh, you know, like I’m a cheerleader for, for people like yourselves and, and you know, that. Um, but like, uh, thank you for sharing that and, and, and coming on and talking about even those vulnerable moments that you had mm-hmm, uh, with, with, um, you know, with all that you wrote and all that you’ve been through.
Mm-hmm, uh, I think it’s an, it’s an inspirational story. So thank you for sharing that with us. Thank you. Thanks for having me.
Amber Botha: It was actually weeks before Ramadan. I went through, it was actually February. Um, I went through a very. Bad time in my life, again, like really bad. And I didn’t know how I would get out of this situation. So I’m like something has to happen because, um, I was getting depressed and that’s not who I am. I’m not a depressed person, but this is so major because it like, um, you know, it, wasn’t only about me now. It’s about the kids too. So I had to make a decision to change everything that was happening in my thoughts, like my thought [00:57:00] processes, my life, um, my habit. Everything. So I thought this is like the perfect time to do this challenge.
I’m not gonna lie the first two to three weeks, it was extremely challenging. And eventually I thought it’s not about the food anymore. To me, it was like, I needed to find myself. I needed to get back with God. Um, I needed to find who I was, um, needed to be stronger for my kids,
My thoughts are definitely, um, a lot clearer now and, um, I’m at peace, so everything I’m just positive now, I feel positive. There’s a sense of peace. Um, I’ve got control over my life now and my thoughts. like, I’ve reached certain challenges. Um, and I’ve overcome them. And I just feel like I’ve grown so much in that last, like I grew more in that month than I have in all my other years.