We have all heard stories of amazing feats of strength in emergency situations – a mother lifting up a car when her child is trapped underneath or tackling ferocious animals – in one instance taking on a polar bear attacking her son and his friends children.
Physicians once believed that adrenaline flooding the system caused an extra boost to the muscles, allowing people to be stronger but that’s not quite accurate. Adrenaline certainly primes the body for emergency action, speeding up the heart and lungs, dilating blood vessels and releasing nutrients, both of which ready the muscles for quick responses. But while this adrenaline fuelled fight-or-flight reflex spurs people into action, the body’s entire stress response contributes to superhuman strength.
Cascades of enzymes and proteins release, helping people sustain the activity. These neuropeptides, or endorphins, make people feel good and suppress pain as well as providing people with an extra boost to finish their superhuman task. For years I have been obsessed with evaluating any bed that I sleep on. As I travel a lot I am frequently in and out of hotels and, much like Goldilocks, you can find me complaining the beds are either too soft or too hard and these critiques are inevitably blamed for the stiff back which I wake up with every day.
This morning I had a Eureka moment when I realised it’s not about the bed – it’s my back that’s the problem. That may not seem like a ground-breaking discovery to you but going forward, the simplicity of this realisation will change my focus completely – starting with not viewing mattresses with suspicion and being constantly on the internet looking for new, revolutionary beds designed to ease back pain.
I recently heard from a job candidate who told me that in a previous position she had experienced constant back pain, but it went away immediately when she left that company. I asked her if she felt supported there and she answered no – “So there is your problem”, I told her, explaining that some believe back pain is a psychosomatic symptom created by our unconscious mind to distract us from emotional issues of subconscious feelings of lack of support that we may want to suppress .
Physician John Sarno says that tension from internalized pressure and rage leads to oxygen deprivation of the muscle and that’s where the pain comes from. I am not suggesting that my back pain comes from lack of support, rage or other emotions or that I should leave my job. I am saying my shift in understanding and thinking will force me to change my attention from symptoms to underlying cause. So instead of making it about the bed I will listen more deeply to my mind and body to understand what the problem is – it’s something we don’t do. In her case leaving her job immediately took care of the problem.
A few days ago my mother in law suffered what at first we thought was a heart attack. She was rushed to hospital, underwent a series of tests and then told that she had ‘broken heart syndrome’. I thought I hadn’t heard properly at first or that it was the doctor’s interpretation of where she is in her life. Earlier this year my father in law, her husband, died after a long-suffering illness. They were extremely close as a result of a long and loving marriage and his death has not been easy for her. However, she is a strong woman, keeps herself very busy and has continued to live a fully functioning life. Or so it seemed.
Broken heart syndrome is a temporary heart condition that's often brought on by stressful situations and extreme emotions. It may also be called stress cardiomyopathy, takotsubo cardiomyopathy or apical ballooning syndrome, if you want the scientific terminology. Sufferers may have sudden chest pain or think they're having a heart attack as it affects part of the heart, temporarily disrupting its normal pumping function. The rest of the heart continues to function normally or may even have more forceful contractions.
This has been a big wake up call for her: A call to listen to her grief, and in fact have a real grieving process and not just carrying on busily doing everything for everyone. It’s amazing to think that the body has a powerful way of bringing us to check – to demand our attention to the other parts of ourselves. Our body talks to us through pain and sickness and, of course, health. Most of the time how we feel physically is a sign of how we are psychologically.
This connection gets weakened when we are consumed with activity. And then we stop understanding why things happen to us, and don’t know how to restore balance, Bit by bit we lose the ability to read ourselves. They say that sickness and pain are our body’s way of communicating a message to us and if we listen to what is happening, we can find our way back to health. This is like the kinesiology philosophy which says that like everything in nature we as human beings are created as perfect, interconnected systems.
We are designed to live in homeostasis – a perfect balance of mind, body, emotions and spirit – fully equipped for the things we want to achieve in life. However, sometimes we find ourselves in distress, whether it be mentally, physically or emotionally. This is our body’s way of indicating that we are “off track”, not living to our full potential, or not coping in one or more areas of our life. Similarly, in times when we generate strength, we did no know we had, our body comes to the rescue and mind conquers matter. Mens samo in corpore sano (A healthy mind in a healthy body) was the Roman ideal two millennia ago. So really, I’m just going ‘back’ in time.
Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.
The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.
Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.
At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.
Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.
Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).
This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.
In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.
Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?
Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.
POSITIVITY Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.
“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)
We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”
Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.
Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be. You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”
Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.
When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.
Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.
However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.” “Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)
COMPASSION, MUTUAL LOVE AND RESPECT
Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.
It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.
Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.
Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.
The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.
It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.