Friday, 22 December 2017

Dear God- On Boundaries and Choosing Well For Yourself.


Dear God,

It's been a while since I wrote to you on this blog, but this year I  have been sending mental letters privately.  As you know, December has never been that kind of month for me. I was struggling internally for the last couple of days to find a mere ounce of excitement about this season, I even bought a Christmas tree and decorations. Still I found no cheerfulness to brighten my mood. And as if I needed further confirmation of my internal gloom, I was reminded of an old blog post triggered by a  Facebook reminder this last week. The post I made about the Bogeyman. Remember that one? Wow... it's such a sad sad post. I can't believe I shared it. But on some level I am glad I did because it's held me accountable for the last two years. I have stuck to the path that that choice led me on.

While planing out this letter,  I remembered a poem I studied for O-level English literature. It is called 'Mending wall' by Robert Frost. I laugh when I recall the lack of depth to our class discussion with our English teacher Mr Walker on this particular poem. I mean what did we really  know about life back them? Our lives were so sheltered. Every moment was planned out for us right until we reached University. At 14 years of age we simply didn't have enough life experience to bring credibility to our opinions, but Mr Walker calmly guided us along, helping us better understand the importance of the  poem, helping us better relate to Mr Frost's powerful musings.  I know Mr Walker would be entertained by the fact that I am actually referring to it in a blog post many years later, he knew even then that I didn't take naturally to interpreting poetry. Yet here we are years later, still somehow moved by this poem.


The first line of the poem rose up from my subconscious and dusted off it's cobwebs, 
"Something there is that doesn't love a wall."

My biggest lesson over the last couple of years has been creating boundaries in my relationships. I am an introvert but truthfully I don't like being guarded. I don't like having to constantly remind myself  that not ALL people can be trusted (growing pains of being an adult). The blog post was written during a serious moment of 'growth' and the shedding of some naivety. In short, a couple of years ago, a few individuals through their negative actions taught me quite a bit about myself and my interactions with others. You warned me many, many a time God. I didn't listen. I stubbornly learnt my lesson the hard way. Believe me when I say it is has been a TOUGH lesson to learn! 


Since then I have been extremely careful about who I allow into my life and I have been extremely watchful about how people treat me as an indicator of which boundaries I should put up. I pay close attention to ACTIONS, which has altered a lot my friendships as well. Best friends had to become friends that I don't hang out with very often anymore. I have prayed and you have given me strength and wisdom. Even when I have questioned you, you have persistently taught me my value. On days when I have been low and discouraged you have reminded me who I am. You have been patient with me in your own way. Thank you. So here's to 2018! Cheers! Maybe I needed to acknowledge this dark cloud to finally see the sunrise behind it.  Many thanks for the Season, because as my nieces like to remind me "Jesus is the reason for the season!" so I will  try my best to be cheerful where I can. Looking forward to all we shall do in the new year.

Yours faithfully,
Maria 






Thursday, 21 December 2017

My Favorite Tweets of 2017


I decided to share some of my favorite tweets this year because I spend a large chuck of my day on social media. These digital platforms which are supposed to bring us together,  provide the odd ( slightly creepy if i may add )  opportunity to be part of a lot of conversations without even uttering a word. People whom I shall probably never meet, and who have no idea who I am, have strangely touched my life in some small way this year.  I have been disappointed, encouraged, inspired and humored(is that a word even?) just by their tweets this year, so it's only fair that I should pay homage to some of them on this blog.  I wish I could share more but then you'd be here for ages and in the internet world a second feels like forever, so here are a few for you to enjoy with me. Here goes...


Number 1 is  Duckie Thot reminding us just how fabulous she is in the wilderness. My lesson from this photo...I am inspired to be my best self as much as possible. 




Number 2 is  @Bodyposipanda_ setting a good example for us on the importance of self care. Currently learning to change my internal negative narrative on body image. 



Number 3 reminded me of how politics just disturbs me. We, regularly,  get conned into believing  'the greater good' narrative but sometimes we need to appreciate the worker bees amongst us, the people who do the work and never ask for recognition. Not all of us need to be charismatic eloquent leaders being interviewed on TV every morning, some of us are fantastic at buckling down and getting the job done. 



Number 4 Amy Tan released a new book! She wrote the book Joy Luck Club which I studied in secondary school for O-Level.  One of the BEST books I have ever read, it changed my life, it basically changed the way I read books, but that's what English literature should do to students.  The book  explores the relationships of  four mothers and four  daughters, culture, immigration, assimilation and much more . I have been a huge fan ever since! I was so happy to hear that she had  written a autobiographical book about her life . Looking forward to reading it. 


Number 5 tweets with photos that make me fall in love with the world.


Number 6 and 7: once again tweets with photos that make me fall in love with Uganda. I have moved around the country  a lot this year, more for the work I do than for leisure. I am hoping 2018 will be slightly..just slightly different. Please God let's throw a mini holiday or three in there please. 




Number 8 and 9: Tweets that made me realize we don't talk about the environment in ways that cause us to take action to preserve it. I find all the information online fascinating and I carry around some internal shame that I have not done much yet  in my adult life to show my commitment to protecting the environment for future generations . 



Number 10 The tweet that partially triggered my internal shame about my lack of zeal to preserve the environment, a photo of Wangari Maathai. Someone who's struggles and persistence I can only appreciate now that I am older. To be a woman, and stand for what she stood up for in that time, she is our heroine. In 2018 I must find some way to show my commitment.  


Number 11 and 12: I would like to be able to illustrate this well someday. Plans to practice in 2018 are underway. #goals 



Number 13: I really enjoyed seeing the tweets on #Inktober, where different illustrators take up the challenge of producing and sharing their work every day during the month of October. There  are so many talented people out there. Such powerful stories depicted through what appear to be simple  illustrations 



Number 14, 15,and 16  are tweets that make me laugh out loud (excuse the cliche). These are only a few because I couldn't be bothered to scroll through the rest of the year, but Twitter is the gift that keeps on giving (another cliche..sorry).  People on twitter have the best humor ever.





Number 17: My relationship with God as per this tweet and how I will continue into 2018





Number 18 and 19:  when you need a little encouragement sometimes twitter is the place to go



Number 20 and 21: the way Twitter can bring up childhood memories...lol Every house had those doilies, my mum used to make her own. As for the writing pad, my mum used to love writing letters so that exact paper pad was a staple in our house. I think I wrote a letter to Oprah on it once, never sent it though... oh well. 




Number 22: This artwork of a Maasai in space. We can dream, can't we!


Number 23: Because anything with Beyonce's picture I just like. Some thing that I learnt from childhood is to always put in the work , yet I have seen quite a few  people get by on just stealing from other people. This year I saw the fruits of  my  labors of  love that I have been working on for  long enough. I am encouraged to keep on persevering. This tweet sums everything up for me. #Lemonade #BeyHive


Number 24 These challenges Ugandans set for themselves.. shaking my head in laughter. May you drive safely this festive season, let's not loose our lives prematurely.

Lastly Number 25, Winnie the Pooh quotes make everything better.



What about you? Any favorite tweets this year? Share & comment below. 












Sunday, 10 December 2017

Burn out in December




I can't believe I am writing about burn out in the month of December. Blogging about something cheerful and festive for the Christmas season is what I should be doing... Right? I am slightly conflicted. If I really wanted to optimize the opportunity, I would be following a detailed content plan, with wonderful holiday themed activities that would inspire you to have your best Christmas ever! Like exclusive tips on where to get the best decorations at a bargain, advice on who you can pay to deliver a perfectly cooked  tasty turkey, roast beef or chicken to feed your picky in-laws on Christmas or Boxing day, also maybe some gift ideas for hubby, boyfriend, Mum, Dad, brother, sister in law etc... You get it right? I should be a walking fuzzy bright ball of infectious happiness, bubbling on about spending precious time with family and friends, and winding down an incredibly fruitful and productive year...  but my body says NOPE!

You can see more of Gemma Correll's work here

Maybe the year has been too productive? I don't know what to say...  I feel like the illustration above. Even though I don't feel like posting my own content around the Christmas spirit, I have to mention that I am enjoying the range of wonderful vlogmas  You Tube videos I have been watching since the start of December,  for example  'This is Essmas' by Sharon Mundia, also Zoella and her boyfriend PointlessBlog, to name a few.While I look forward to loading my internet bundle, clicking play and catching up with my favorite You Tubers in the evening after work and school. I can't say I have the same enthusiasm for the season that they all do right now. It is difficult for me to recall the last time I actually decorated a Christmas tree. Which is sad. I am glad my mother isn't around to see this. She spent so much time during our childhood making Christmas a magical time for us.  A week ago, I decided that this year I would actually buy a Christmas tree, I was supposed to get one this weekend but as the great Awesomely Luvvie once said I am "unable to Can".


“Burnout occurs when your body and mind can no longer keep up with the tasks you demand of them. Don’t try to force yourself to do the impossible. Delegate time for important tasks, but always be sure to leave time for relaxation and reflection.”
Del Suggs,
Truly Leading: Lessons in Leadership
 
This weekend I have been unable to can effectively.

I started feeling low on Friday, and immediately took myself for some tests because I was worried it might be malaria. The results indicated I was fine. I have body aches,  fever chills, and I swear the snot in my nose has a green tinge to it, which is supposed to mean an infection, isn't it? Yet the only unusual item on the lab results was an increase in a certain type of white blood cell.  I was reliably informed that it could mean the start of an infection that shouldn't disrupt my routine because all signs point towards a healthy body.

But here's the thing... it has made me spend an abnormal amount of hours in bed this weekend and important plans had to be cancelled. For the first time this year my body flat out refused to go with the flow. I am greatly surprised because even after a busy week, I am usually out and about on Saturday and Sunday. This week wasn't even jam packed with activity but all my body wanted to do is nap! The only task I managed to achieve was to blow dry my hair and purchase some Lemsip . Even Burn Out can't mess with a natural hair girl's schedule tehehehe. The Lemsip, I hope will ease the body aches and fever shivers. In between naps,  I have been busy with all my favorite introvert activities including catching up on Victoria Series 2. Wrapped up in the safety of my comfy fluffy duvet, I accidentally stumbled across #booktube, which I am slightly ashamed to say has brought me so much delight in the last few hours of Sunday. A whole community of people who vlog about books. Imagine!

As I take my fiftieth guilt free spoonful of blueberry flavored ice cream, while writing the last sentence of this post. I am suddenly filled with a sense of gratitude that days like this can exist. That I can enjoy resting and still find joy and relief in the smallest things, after all even if I can't yet resonate, it is the season.  

 “A happy and productive person is one who understands that his or her job is not the purpose of his or her life. Go on vacation, use up your sick days, ask for a temporary leave-of-absence—anything that allows you to recharge your batteries away from your typical routine. No leave, no life.”
Del Suggs, Truly Leading: Lessons in Leadership

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Body Image, Weight Gain and the Lure of Cupcakes!



It's that time of the month, which means my 'hunger' pangs accompany me like an unwelcome vexing sidekick. Always there, unable to be pacified by healthy food that does not include well loved junk.

Three zits appeared eight hours ago without warning me in advance of their arrival. And I  feel drained and exhausted this time around despite weeks of faithful conscious healthy eating habits. Not one drop of soda has entered my body...not one! My oily face for reasons unknown to me, looks dry and un-cared for.  Seemly dehydrated...can you imagine!? I drink atleast one liter of water a day..so how!?

Sipping on my comforting burgundy colored hibiscus tea 😉,  I am typing the first draft of this post,  while I patiently wait for the two Panadol-extras  I took fifteen minutes ago to kick in. Google told me that painkillers work by intercepting messages to the brain from the nerve-endings when there's a problem such as an injury, an accident or just regular cramps . Essentially, my simple understanding of the process is that, it allows my brain to be in denial for a few hours so that I can focus on the other priorities in my life. What it can't do is shut down the negative thoughts I have about my body. Self esteem issues that are magnified by these monthly visits from mother nature.

It's one of those day's where I could quite easily get swept up in the dark cloud fueled by my merciless hormones. I have gained weight in the last two years. I can distract attention from my hips and my thighs with some cute fashionable dresses but I can't hide the cheeks on my face. This weekend they helped clarify the definition of chubby for me. A few weeks ago my aunt made a balloon impression to describe my looks. People have cornered me in the lift with worried concern. Love interests have offered to take me to the gym on a daily basis. Last year my brother pointed at my food belly and asked "What is that!?" I quietly fought of the urge to tell him it was a bad reaction to BBQ chicken wings.  Months ago,  I returned home, pleasantly greeted my Dad, he looked me up and down from behind his reading glasses and replied with the following statement, "You're getting fat!".

I really could wallow in my immutable sensitiveness to the way I think  the world views me and my body, but I don't have that kind of time and luckily I stumbled on a video a few hours ago which inspired me to write about this topic. This is the video ( click here) which lead me to Megan Jayne Crabbe's Body Positive Instagram Account and then to a  number of positive body image messages all over the internet terrain.  Wait....Just for minute.... let me divert from the topic a little bit,  I want the same colored  unicorn hair as Megan!  😁😁😁😁 Who am I kidding!? I could never rock such colors with confidence.


Scrolling through Megan's  account, I quickly realized it was so much more different than the ones I usually follow.  For one she allows her body to be seen as it is. No over use of  Filters or photoshop, no special  angles used to deceive her audience either 😮😮😮😮😮. How? (The amount of selfies I have deleted because they show what i really look like...)  The messages on her page about weight, food, eating and self worth are common sense and yet I am fascinated by them. Googling her history I realize she once suffered from an eating disorder and the body positive model may have been part of her treatment.  The 'Body Positivity ' movement was started in 1996 as a model for helping people with eating disorders. But even those without chronic eating disorders are discovering the importance of  such  messages about food. There are actually a number of discussions on it all over the internet (please google...don't take my word for it)






I don't have an eating disorder and I gather I am healthy from my last medical check up, even if I tried unsuccessfully to avoid getting on the weighing scale because I wanted to remain in my self preserving denial. The Nurse was persistent and I suspect she added a few extra kilograms to the weight section of my medical file either to spite or inspire me. You decide 😅😅😅😅. Two years ago, it was a different story, I was thinner, I looked like a girl not a woman, stress, grief, and other negative factors were taking their toll on me. My metabolism also had my back, whatever junk I threw in myself, it made it work. During that time, someone had the decency to have a real conversation with me about my self confidence. They helped me realize on some level that I  needed to live my life. And so I started living my life....and of course I have enjoyed my food since then.... and like I said earlier my cheeks started to show it, also some of my favorite dresses now don't fit anymore. I have been eating as I please, so it is inevitable that my under appreciated metabolism finally caught up with me. I can no longer consume what my eyes find appealing, I must now consume more of what my body needs. But you know I really would not have been that bothered about it had people not started making comments. I guess I am reluctantly grateful for the mini intervention because it's about time I become mature about it. Self confidence and self love also involve making good nutritious choices for meals.



I see how the messages we tell each other as well as the messages we consume through traditional and non traditional media can easily be internalized and lead to unhealthy eating habits on both ends of the spectrum. This is not a blame game by the way, I am solely responsible for this unflattering weight gain. To add to my internal confusion, last week I reduced my use of lifts and decided to use the stairs more often. One day while enthusiastically climbing up to my destination, I passed someone moving in the opposite direction who murmured under their breath with some obvious side eye, 'show off!' I started to  apologetically explain to them that I was trying to improve my overall fitness. They replied to my comment with sarcasm ' Yeah, right...😒😒😒" . This person is  physically a lot heavier than me, and probably ( I assume) struggling with their own personal weight issues. Which made me feel stupid... was I losing weight for other people? Why did I feel the need to explain myself? 😑😑😑
"these hips are big hips.
they need space to
move around in.
they don't fit into little
petty places. these hips
are free hips."
Lucille Clifton

I have decided to continue focusing on physical fitness and changing my eating choices rather than losing the weight. An exercise regime is in place, and discipline has been added to my diet. It is happening in phases so as not to cause a fully fledged internal rebellion. Lots of vegetables and fruits, No rice, reduced amounts of sugar intake...less cupcakes...that kind of thing.... Do you think I should buy myself a weighing scale? This whole body positive thing has changed my perspective, whether for good or bad I shall write my thoughts again in the future when I have results to share, but for now this is how I am choosing to tackle it .







Disclaimer: I am not part of any 'body positivity'  groups and  I am not an expert on movement either