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!

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 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 

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

The Three Times I learnt Something About People At Church.

This is not Christ The King, its just a lovely picture from  

I started going for lunch time mass at Christ The King, a while back when I was a bit troubled. I could not get my mind to settle. I would describe my mind at that time as Monday morning traffic chaos in Kampala just before the traffic policeman/woman calmly arrives to start their shift.

So I took myself to the one place my mother taught me to go. Church. I had hoped I’d have a better chance of finding Him in his house rather than in mine. I wanted God to be a good traffic police man and  set everything back in order. I wanted him to arrive on his police motorcycle with the orange light rotating and flashing,  whistle in mouth, clip board under  the arm, black boots polished, white uniform freshly ironed,  ready to magically unlock all the confounded cars and taxis in my mind stuck in grid lock.

Church  helped.  The familiar pattern of mass helped still my mind, so much so that I somehow rekindled one of my ‘bad’ habits.  From a young age I have always loved the idea of mass, the ritual of the movements, the rhythm and repetition in the priest’s voice and the congregation's, the predictable silences, the familiar hymns… I could go on…but for now let me stick to my ‘bad’habit.  When I get distracted from my prayer, I love watching other people pray. There is so much you can learn about a person just by looking at how they interact with God. I actually think that people are at their most vulnerable in church, because church has totally different social cues. For one you enter silently and sit, no need to greet your neighbor, no need to introduce  yourself, no need to tell people who you are. After all you are here to talk to God, and he already knows who you are.

So this habit of studying people in church, resurfaced during lunch time mass. And since my mother was no longer around to nudge my shoulder, or gently bow my head in prayer when my mind faulted, I settled back into my habit of studying people as they arrived, took  their seats, and knelt to begin their private internal conversation with God. (I know...I's a terrible habit which  all story tellers need 😉 )

Some really interesting occurrences happened since the first time I attended. Today I have decided to share just three on this blog. Three that to this day have remained in my mind.

THE FIRST STORY: So this didn't happened in church, but it certainly surprised me. One time I stepped out  of office to get a boda boda to church. I waved down one, and asked him the price to Christ The King. He seemed vague about it, so I assertively told him ‘ 1000ugx, that all I have!’. He didn’t quarrel,  I hopped on, and we  whizzed off to church. When we arrived,  he parked his boda boda, I proceeded to pay him and to my surprise he refused to take  the money. He took off his helmet and calmly walked off into the church for mass. And that was my first and last free boda boda ride to church. 😲😲😲

THE SECOND STORY:  I was late, it was lent season so the inside of the church was packed.  I spread out my scarf and  sat on the circular steps that surround the entrance to the church.  As we got busy saying the apostles creed. A bare footed women in  dirty clothes approached the church. she was lamenting and crying to herself,  and to anyone who would listen. She had a stack of tattered leaflets with her and she was trying to give them to people but they would twist their faces and move out of her way. You know the bronze statue of Jesus with the big feet outside of Christ the King?  She stopped before it and knelt down. I swear she prayed straight from her heart with so much humility. I could feel it, remember I told you I  have experience in watching people at church. I can tell who’s authentic. At one point she got up and  flipped though her leaflets and picked out the best  ones she could find, the glossy ones with the least amount of dampness from her tears. Then she lay them at Jesus’s feet. She gave her offering.  Her best offering.  Remember that story in the bible the one with the sick women who just knew if she touched Jesus , she’d be healed.  What about that story when Jesus mentioned the greatness  of the poor lady's offering in the temple verses the rich man? This reminded me of that. Because as she prayed she didn’t seem so tortured by her personal demons anymore. Then after five minutes, she got up and carried on walking, returning right back to the state she entered our presence in,  lamenting and handing leaflets to strangers. Never saw her again. But I’d like to naively think she has many regular conversations with Jesus.

THE THIRD STORY: It was another lent season, I was sat outside on the steps as usually. I wasn’t alone there were other late comers like me.  Around Fifteen minutes into mass, as they were reading the second reading . We see a short thin woman  hobbling closer to us trying to reach the steps at the entrance of the church. She can barely move her feet because of  the unusual heavy bundle on her back and the aged handbag and  blue & green mukeka in her hands. the bundle is wrapped in a lesu with a common picture of the virgin Mary on it. When she reaches the steps , she balances herself,  lays out the mukeka, places down her bag, then  slowly and cautiously manages to put her bundle down. The bundle starts to move and unravel itself. It's boy, a boy with a head that is too big for it's body. The size of his head informs us that some special operation must be done to fix it. We all know in Uganda that  will cost money, and from the looks of the lady she doesn't have much to spare. So where did she turn to? Church. God's house.  The lady doesn’t make any eye contact with anyone, she knows we are all staring at her, and the boy . Despite all this,  she joins in the prayers with us, because I am sure she is used to our reaction by now, we can’t be the first group of people to stare, possibly judge and then pity them.  When mass is down she asks for no help, puts her son on her back, balances her bag and mukeka, and leaves as she came. For three days , everyone who sits outside with me at mass, we watch her come and say her prayers and leave. Then one day when it is time for the offertory, every single one of us takes our offertory and places it on the mukeka next to her. She is so shocked that we see her cry silently throughout the rest of mass. Like I said earlier, during mass the social cues are different. In the street I mind my own business, but in church this women could have fitted quite comfortably into anyone of Jesus’ parables, so at mass she becomes our business.  After Easter, I never see her or her son at mass again. I don’t think we helped her much, in fact I think her faith and determination to get to mass everyday with her son actually helped us. It helped me put a lot into perspective.  I think bronze Jesus with the big feet sent her to teach us something. My mind went very still that  day. Things were crisp and clear like that first breath of fresh air during an early morning walk.

We become different creatures on the way to God’s house and also while we are in it.So maybe God didn’t arrive in a motorcycle, lights flashing, whistle ready to blow. He arrived the way he does. Unexpectedly. And I got the message.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Be Still.

Today I was nearly swallowed up by all my worries

Am I helping or am enabling this family member?

How do you help someone, when they don't think they need help?

When do I help? and when do I step back?

Will I achieve what I have been tasked with  this week?

Did that person really try to throw me under the bus?

Should I take another Panadol to help this anxiety headache?

Did I save enough money in the month of October?

Have I packed all that I need for this trip?

Did St-Micheal hear my prayer about my father?

Should  I text this family member and tell them how I really feel about their behavior or should I let sleeping dogs lie?

Am I on track? 

Am I making the  right decisions for my future?

What would my mother say?


The questions continued, till I came across this You tube video with T.D Jakes- "Leave it Alone!". As if God was hearing me thinking out loud in my head. Wondering how I would fix all these things myself.  I listened and I heard the message loud and clear.  I took three deep breaths  until I could hear the quiet of the Sunday afternoon world around me.  I said alone in my room to God 'I need some help.' I said again, ' I need help with all of this.'. So Simple.

So I guess I can now go about being still.... while watching my You Tube videos 😉