Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Is your cup half-empty or half-full?

Oftentimes, we go on about what we lack. I mean, you hear people go on about not having the most trivial stuff and you wonder, is that person complaining of a half-empty cup or one that's half-full?

Most of it is pure vanity while some people just complain because they don't know what else to say about a life near perfection or one that will never be worse because of sheer insatiability, if that does makes sense. I, for instance, often go on [silently] about not having one or two things that [whenever I sit back and think carefully] I'd actually do without, yet how I'd love to have them for sheer luxury! Oh the human/woman in me!

When I watched the story of Vivian Stringer, I thought, "Wow! I don't know what I'd do if something like that were to happen in my life! I'd give up. I'd stop having any zest whatsoever in life, I'd wanna... I don't know... DIE! But then again, I think, I've undergone deep losses in my life too. I've lost someone I hoped would be my life partner - to cancer - when I was, what, 17. Four months down the line, I lost his unborn child through a miscarriage - the only thing that would have left a trace of him in my life forever. Something I'd have held onto.

However horrific that period was, I've had to go through worse situations in my life, but I overcame them through the grace of God. I mean, how else would I have made it to where I am today if it weren't for the grace of God, huh?

But you see, I'm not sharing this for your "oohs" and "aaaahs"! No ma'am/sir. I'm sharing this part of my life (for the first time in public) to encourage you, who's reading this, to get out of your shell. Stop complaining for all the things you don't have and start thanking the Almighty for all that you have. Stop blaming the Universe about your horrible past and start thanking it for this far God's brought you.

Yeah, I know you must be reading this and thinking, Girl please, I'm gonna go to church whenever I need a sermon, so keep yours. But hey, neither you or anyone else will stop this feeling inside of me. The peace that I find in knowing that all that's happened did for a reason. That God had and has a plan for me; a good plan. I mean, after starring death in the face for three years and coming out victorious (even if it's just for now), full of life and ready to take on the world, what more could I ask God for except HAPPINESS, CONTENTMENT (with the much or little I have depending on how you perceive my life from an outsider's point of view)?

Let me just say that when I learnt that I'd be writing for +ElleAfrique Magazine , I thought, "Wow! This is me. With everything going on, God's still got my back!" I'd just made it to the executive committee of the Editor's Forum of Namibia (EFN) right about the time I found out that I'd be writing for the magazine (May this year). So here's to say that I haven't written in a while because I had nothing to say, but because I was wondering where to start, for I have so much to say; so much to share! Then I stumbled upon an inspiration; Vivian Stringer, the basketball couch on Nine for IX Short Film: 'Couch'.

I know her story isn't "African" because she's American, but let's face it, as an African woman - no matter which part of the world you live in - how many of us go through life's setbacks and still come out of it all with a smile?

Watch Vivian Stringer's story if you're still wondering whether you should thank God for a cup half-empty or one that's half-full.

Here's the link: http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=espn:9345908&startTime=16:23

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Happy Birthday to...err... me!

There’s something about birthdays is just eerie, you know. I mean, of course there’s the excitement of, “Yay, it’s my birthday.” And then there’s, “Eeeew, I’m getting old!”

Someone wrote on my twitter timeline yesterday that old is gold but I beg to differ. I mean, like c’moooon! Can you really say that with enough conviction that aging is indeed precious? Like please, in this day and age, there’s totally nothing golden about more figures in one’s age. Don’t agree? Allow me to elaborate…
While growing up, kids are often so optimistic about the future. You know; they want to be pilots, fashion designers, lawyers and even presidents. Oh no, don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against dreams. Dreams are good. They make the world seem so beautiful, happy.
Sad truth is, the older you get, the less dreams you end up living for. You sadly learn along the way that sometimes (actually more often than not), fate decides. But don’t allow my pessimistic ideas get to you. Stick to your optimism and chase your dreams, blah, blah, blah (as automated as it can get hearing this from an older person who never got to achieve all their dreams and had to settle for the kind of life they currently lead)!
But see, that’s the thing about age and dreams – the probability of having the two tally at the same time (or better yet, as anticipated by the individual or society) is often close to a nil/nil ratio.
Simply put, you get people who were expected to have been married with kids [by the age of, say, 25 (or if I’m being lenient here, 30)] still chasing after college girls by the age of 35 or 40, acting all cool, calm and collected because “they enjoy staying single”.
Excuse you? Like whatever happened to age and maturity, hey!
And well, you also find a 25-year-old who has their life together – you know – a great job (less returns, though), kid(s) with absent daddy(ies), lovely apartment/loft (unbearable rent, though), a partner (who might turn out to be a friend with benefit), etc. 
But as Jonny Depp has famously said: When you reach 25, you think, ‘Shit, I’m almost 30!' When you hit 30, you think about 40. And when you finally reach 40, you start thinking about 50 and who would turn up at your funeral and why!
What this simply mean is that as one gets older, time might flash by so fast that they may miss the Opportunity Bus; the one that comes with the fulfilled dreams they had as kids.
So as they turn 25 and are a teacher instead of a lawyer, they start convincing themselves that they had always wanted to teach. When they reach 30 without a kids or a husband, they start convincing themselves and everyone around them that they had never fancied kids or “the whole marriage thing” because “it will happen when it does”.
Girl please, truth here is; there isn't a man who’s been able to stand you yet and you've used way too many morning after pills for that tummy to hold a baby in it (excuse my judgmental tone).
Bottom line is, we pace through life trying too hard to justify our inevitable failures instead of just enjoying each day as it comes. I mean, we spend so much time wondering when a dream is going to come true, and, and, and… What we fail to realise, in the process, is that our lives would be passing us by while we’re busy planning how to live them. Before we know it, we would be left with a shell of who we used to be, wondering how we got here, resenting everything that comes with an "ageing" tag to it.
Today (3rd June)’s my birthday, so I get to tell you to your face that you need to stop crapping your life up and just live it. Dude, this starts with finding your happy place – and it better not have anything to do with money or where you’re going to find it. It's gotta be priceless.
Wanna know MY HAPPY PLACE? Well, at home playing mommy and BFF to my little angel, Apple :).


Go find yours and be happy.
Good luck!

Monday, 13 May 2013

Happy Mothers' Day!

What do women want, you wonder? Hmm! Let's see...

In between going through all our childhood being told that we are meant to keep the house clean; refrain from being violent "because it's un-lady like"; strive towards dreams that would include a prince charming and a glass sandal [in the figurative or literal sense]; aim to be the "coolest" teenagers without being cheap naive young sluts; go through high school and college as the invincible alpha beings who can handle pressure from every corner of life and then impress some bloke who would probably just want to marry us for all the wrong reasons; have beautiful and SMART kids with the bloke as is expected of us, while keeping a full time job with a straight face...

and of course...

Fighting for a top spot in class with the boys while being able to keep up with the fashion trends to impress the same boys; losing friends one by one as our careers, our relationships with "the man of our dreams" and [maybe, just maybe] a kid-on-the-way or already-born child takes centre stage in our lives, as we try to please 'the girls', our men's boys, our in-laws, our siblings, our parents, not to forget our colleagues, longtime high school and college buddies, the women at the community centre or church, not to mention our own kids...

All this time - especially in our teenage hood - we stress over the shame we'd put our families through if we were to fall pregnant, yet, we do not wanna disappoint that "boy" who's every girl we know is a dream 'cause he wants to have sex with us but we're not ready yet. So we end up torn between a rock and hard place all because this bloke has chosen us and not the mean prettier girls we know. And it makes us feel so damn special!

And then in our early 20s, we feel like we could concur the world; we have just completed college, we have a great job with a decent salary and the future looks promising. Then we turn 25 and start worrying about the big 30, 'cause it approaches so damn fast! So we wonder what it would do to us if we reached 30 and would still not have achieved all the dreams we had the timeline for. You know, the "I will have had three degrees, gotten married to the man of my dreams (who had better fit into my checklist) and had kids by the time I turn 30" kind of dreams.

Realising that we may not achieve half, if not all of them by then, we end up settling for a totally different life. Then we become miserable, if not resentful towards everyone and everything we think might have had a hand in "destroying our dreams" and then we sink into depression and watch the years race by as we get in too deep on the routines of our daily lives - get up earlier than everyone to fix a quick breakfast, drop the kids at school, go to work (which we don't even like but stay in because it pays the bills with hardly any savings), pick up the kids from school, get home, bathe the kids, prepare dinner, serve it, help the kids with their homework, retire to bed exhausted and then do it all over again the following and every other day - that we forget who ever wanted to be.

As soon as we turn 30, we start worrying about turning 40, and menopause, and wrinkles, and getting old, and losing our shine, and... well... dying from some weird old age or lifestyle disease... without having achieved all our dreams! You know, the job of our dreams, probably being famous - for the vain - (sorry to say), the prince charming chapter, BEAUTIFUL and SMART kids, a beautiful home; a happy family, you name it.
Still wanna know what we want? Hmm... The truth is, we don't know 'cause we live all our lives trying to be us as well as everything else the society expects us to be! So we die still trying.
It's Mothers' Day. It's the month of May, so I dedicate it to my fellow mothers.
What do we want; as women and as mothers, really? I'm gonna use this month to reach out to all the mothers to help me attempt to tackle this question.

Yeah, I'm talking to all of you; the married mothers, the single mothers, the foster mothers, the grandmas who take care of their grand kids for whatever reason, the sisters who have taken their nieces and nephews in for whatever reason. Yeah, I'm gonna be talking to all of you this month, even the pregnant ones, not to mention the ones who keep starring at the pill every night wondering when to stop taking it for fear of the unknown. And no, I won't forget those who wish they had kids as well as those who are trying to have kids but that belly just won't keep anything in because I was once you. Yeah, I know you can't help going, "Oow" every time a woman walks past you pushing a pram with a sleeping baby in it... and I'm gonna be talking to you too 'cause I feel you.

We are going to explore what it is that makes us wish we could celebrate the second Sunday of the month of May (Mothers' Day) every other Sunday amidst all the junk that goes on inside our heads [that I have mentioned above].

You know, a lot of us complain that men don't get us. But I'm gonna need us to be very honest this month as we celebrate what makes us the mothers that we are or wish to be, if we are to seize the day and be happy.
For now, I know I'm not too late to wish the working moms, the foster moms, the full time moms, the grandmas, the aunties-cum-moms, the new moms and my fellow single moms; a HAPPY MOTHERS' DAY!

I know the best of us are already getting ready for the week ahead; packing kids' lunches, already preparing tonight's dinner, lunch or even breakfast (depending on the time zone in which this finds you), preparing for that meeting [or presentation] at work tomorrow [or in the course of this week]... whatever it is you're doing right now, do not - even for a second - forget that God's got you.

I mean, I don't know any mother who could say there isn't a God (or a higher power, depending on what your faith entails), yet whenever they look into their kids' eyes, they see something their hearts could never fathom. They see God's true love for them. They see inspiration. They see a miracle(s). They see, well, something bigger than them. They see... God.

I could go on, on end, about how being a mother makes me feel or how it has transformed me as an individual, but that could just be me, for I don't know about your experience - you who's reading this right now. But let's just agree on one thing; motherhood has its bad days, it does. But it's mostly a crazy party you wish would never end :-).

My 5-year-old promised to let me lose today because the teacher told them to help their mothers on Mothers' Day, but I've been breaking my back since we got home from church as usual. No complains, though :-). Gotta go now, mommy duties call :-).

Again, Happy Mothers' Day, fellow mothers. Catch you all in my next post when I address you each and let everyone understand why we will never truly know what we want, but that we shall try being the best we can be till... well... till we are no more!

Till then, God bless.

P.S.: Listen to Matt Redman's 'Never Once' from his 2010 album; '10, 000 Reasons'.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

From my heart to yours

(excerpt from my upcoming book)

So I'm sitting at home, pretending to watch something on TV while my baby watches her cartoons on the laptop...

I don't realize that I am literally starring at my phone weirdly until she points out that I look like a zombie and we both giggle. Her smile reaches her eyes, she seems happy. But mine doesn't 'cause I can hardly feel my face. I can feel myself getting numb due to the mixed emotions going all wild inside of me.

This is new to me, not entirely, as I wouldn't say I have never loved another man before. But this, you and me, is different. It's not a silly teenage love affair-like thing. No. It's grown and mature and I want to hold onto to it, but it scares the heck out of me. God knows that being with you consumes me!

For starters, I have lived for the longest time with my emotions shut somewhere far that I could never reach for them. I had to shut them out, 'cause I had been hurting from years of harbored internal pain. I didn't know how to deal with them, so I decided to shut them out and care very little for human kind except for my little girl.

Can't believe I'm heeding my shrink's advise only now that he's gone! He always asked me why I was so angry and we would always explore the possible genesis of it all. 

For the longest time, he asked me if I'd ever re-marry and at first I'd say never! But with time and after lots and lots of therapy sessions, I started saying that I would... someday... if and when I found the right man. 

And of course you can imagine his next question; who would the right man be like?

After probably a week's brain-racking, I said, "I know I don't have the right to ask God of this, but I really just want a man who truly fears Him and one I cannot live without!"

And then I sat there and wept, 'cause even I didn't know what what I'd just said meant to me. And he let me... tissues and all.

Three days later, he asked me why I would not wish for a rich man or a successful man and all the other stuff the average girl chases after.

I said, beaming, "Well, because I'm not your average girl. *smiles*" 
I added, "I just want a God-fearing man I could not live without because ain't no way he'd fear God and not treat me right. That kind of man would help me be the woman I yarn to be but do not know how to become. That kind of man would grow with me, emotionally and spiritually. That kind of man would see God's existence in me. And ain't no way he'd lay a finger on me, knowing that I'm God's own gift to him."

My shrink stared at me in awe and then said, "I'll not charge you a dime from now on, girlie. You'd do my job better... someday!"

After his passing, I thought I would lose my head. I thought I'd head for destruction with my face first. But just a few months down the line while I was still blocking all human contact except that of my little girl's, 'cause I needed to talk to someone so bad, you just dropped on my laps! 

It has been an interesting couple of weeks; with me trying to explore the human side of me that actually feels for another human being, and you trying to find yourself [as you put it] and all.

I mean, here I am, starring right into the eyes of the exact description of a man I asked God for not so long ago, but the man looking back into my eyes is just broken as I am. He's hurting inside and I don't know what to do about it. Why? Because this is the first time in like forever that I'm actually allowing myself to feel all these emotions. It's as if I've just switched on an "emos" button and can't switch it back off!

I'm scared as hell, 'cause I don't know how I'm required to act in a normal relationship, if this is even normal. I mean, what exactly do couples do when they're not having sex?

But I'm willing to learn how to do this. I want to love you like my life depends on it. Screw the rules. Screw the dos and don'ts of relationships. Just screw it all. I just wanna be insanely capable of saying "I love you" to another human being other my daughter and actually mean it. 

Oh, by the way, I'm so bipolar it's crazy. But I'm willing to bury the BS and be yours, to love and to honor you (and all that stuff people say in situations like this).

Call this desperation, being pathetic, nagging, clingy, etc. That would be your own baby. Mine, Sir, is to NOT give up on you. 

At this point, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that I'm actually proposing to you. Of course you're a guy and probably not used to this, but here I am. Pride, out of the window, gone! Here's is all of me. 
Allow me to be THE girl, not "THAT girl". Allow me to be YOUR woman, no BS, no rules. Just you and I - us - helping each other face our deepest fears, one step at a time, loving each other with every waking breath... Just us.

Could you?  

P.S: I understand that you need your space to sort out whatever it is you wanna sort out by yourself. Promise not to pressure you into talking to me or making any kind of contact in the process. I pray for you. God's listening, that much I'm sure of.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Time out starts in 4, 3, 2...!

A lot of times, we go through life so 'empty-headed' that we are barely aware of our comings and goings.
It's mostly because our lives are made up of daily routines - or in some cases - we live for everyone else but us.
While watching Good Deeds the other day, it hit me that most of us live by the society's rule book; we are born, we attend pre-school, then primary/elementary school, then high school, then college, then get a [good] job, then get married and have kids with someone we have probably known all our adult lives, then get old and die.
With this kind of 'routine' (if I could even call it that), we end up with so many 'default behaviour'. The kind of behaviour that are predictable to everyone around us. The kind of behaviour that instill a certain level of fear of the unknown whenever we want to try something new.
Take Tyler Perry in Good Deeds, for instance. Dude had been groomed to take over the family business since he was five. He lived his parents' dream all his life and was to marry the girl whose mother had been his mother's friend for like forever! Then dude meets a "normal" woman, a baby-mama who's been through it and back and isn't scared of sending even "the white old dude named 'Deeds' to hell" for being a jerk. Dude soon realises, through this lady, that it's time he lived for himself too...
Point is, we all need time out.
There are times in life that I haven't been aware of my comings and goings 'cause I didn't pay attention to the inner me. And then there have been times when I've sat back and watched the outside me tear the world apart and did nothing to stop her.
While speaking to the VVIP the other day, looking for inspiration to put this in black and white, it dawned on me that I'm not as okay inside as I thought I was. I realised that I have kept my emotions shut to the world for the longest time and it's time I changed that for mine and my baby's sake.
Thing is, I have always preferred to keep my emotions wrapped in a tiny little gift box and hidden in an abandoned haunted house in some place no soul would ever find it. Reason? Well, because it has always been easier to go through my daily life not giving two rat-asses what goes on around me. But the problem with allowing myself to feel something, anything, is that now my emotions are all over the place!
Nothing's wrong with that, says the VVIP (very very important person).
But we differ in opinion when it comes to this because I never allow myself to break. Can't break now more than ever, I tell him. I mean, I've got to be strong for my little girl. I'm all she's got here, for Pete's sake! How would I cry in front of her, huh?
You need to crack sometimes. You're allowed, VVIP beseeches me.
So I sit there, my cell phone pressed to my cheek, fighting back tears 'cause my little girl's sitting right beside me, concentrating on something she's watching on the laptop. I cannot shed a tear.
For starters, I'd risk being vulnerable to the VVIP. Secondly, it would make my little girl sad to see me sad. So I fake it till I feel it.
I need time out, it seems. I'm holding too much inside and I need to let it out before it destroys me, I've been told. Turns out that I need to take a day or two off; cell phone off, no internet, no book, away from everything I know... and just space out. Doc also says it would do me a whole lot of good, but I don't know.
I mean, show me any sane single mom who can decide to leave their baby with someone else for more than 12hrs in the name of "taking time out"? Really, show me.
It's almost impossible because we (single moms) worry. We are always out to get whomever tries to hurt our babies. We're always out to protect our babies from the cold, hard world. We always think nobody's good enough to be there when we need them to... and, and, and.
Bottom line is, we all need time out every once in a while to find our sanity, to find ourselves [as the VVIP likes to put it]. And no, I'm not gonna sit here and lie to you that I ever find time to do that myself. What I can tell you though, is that it would be good for you right now to do as I say and not as I do. I mean, you know what they say; professors' kids aren't the smartest on the planet and neither are preachers' kids ever close to holiness of any sort.
Truly, you need time out. Doesn't need to cost you an arm and a leg. No. You really just need to take even just an afternoon off; away from any kind of technology and everything else you know and just think, meditate, pray, do some yoga or whatever it is you think would relax your mind, body and soul. Do it for you and do not apologize for it.
I'm gonna heed my own advice pretty soon, and when I do, you'll be the first to know.
Till then, reach out to the inner you. You need to be in contact with him/her, believe me.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Got my bitch hat on, what do you have on?

My little girl likes going on about who doesn't wanna be friends with her and who likes giving her "frozen shoulders" as she puts it. and, and, and... But if you've had the opportunity to interact with me on a personal level, you could already guess my response to her complaints.

See, I've lived better part of my life vetting my anger at the Universe for taking certain things from me that I once held so dear, forgetting (or should I say overlooking) the good things it has often swung my way. But you see, that has been me being human.

In my daughter's case, she's allowed to fret over who doesn't like her at school or at the Sunday school, because... err... she's a five-year-old "insecure" girl. 'Insecure' here is in quotes because insecurity isn't something MY daughter should have to undergo for the mere fact that she's so intelligent, beautiful and often has her bitch hat on.

I often tell her, "You're a beautiful girl and beautiful girls like you do not need to seek other people's validation of them because they know what they are worth..." (of course you can imagine how challenging, if not plain hilarious it must be to explain to her what the word 'validation' is.

The point is, we often spend so much of our time worrying about what the next person thinks of us. What we are often unaware of is that the same people, as Ellen Degenerous the comedian and TV host puts it, worry about what we think of them. Funny, huh?

Heck, whatever happened to "live your life"!

In a conversation with a VIP over the weekend, we realised that we have both done some pretty self-destructive behavior in our pasts and we have both had our share of judgement from the holier-than-thous.

As we spoke, it hit me just how angry I still am at them for judging me without ever taking their time to know my story. But then again, I realised that I don't think I'd have wanted them haters to get all up in my business. It did hit me that I have always prefered them thinking of me as Queen B than a saint. It makes life easier, I have always thought. For whom, I have always asked myself. For me, of course, so that I wouldn't have to go through the pain of explaining my actions to whomever, I have always convinced myself.

What I, however, left out in my "mental debate" is that my life is no longer just about me. There's my daughter to think about, there's my health to think about, and then there's the possibility of a life to share with someone else to think about too... now more than ever.

I have often cared less about how my actions might affect those around me. But as from the beginning of this year, I made a pact with God. Told Him that I'd stop all the crazy if He made me better and provided for my little girl.

No kidding; I walked into the doctor's office last Friday and after all the intrusive junk she often does, she took a deep breath, put her equipment on her table and then said, "Go and live your life, honey!"

I suddenly fell a chill down my spine. Then there was a lump in my throat, then my entire life rushed past my mental eye and for the first time in three years, I was scared. And not the kind of scared that makes you wanna hide in the closet, no, it was the kind of scared that makes you wanna stop life just for a minute and start all over again or die all the same! I was damn scared! Scared because it was time to face my realities. Scared because I didn't know how to be happy and the fact that I didn't know that has never bothered me because I have lived for the "now" for a long while now. Scared because I have been pretty [for a lack of a better word] adamant on whether or not to be okay with the feeling of being truly happy. Scared because it was time to stop being bitter and angry for what did or didn't happen in the past. Scared because I do/did not know how to live, love and let someone else love me.

My doctor gave me a tight hug at that particular moment having read the expression on my face, but I was too stiff to hug her back. I could not comprehend what she had just said. Did "go and live your life" mean that I only had a couple of days/weeks/months/years to live and that I should live it to the fullest or did it mean that I was now free of "the bug" (as she likes to call it)!

It is in remission, she said. Of course I'd wanted to hear that word in like forever! Now that I had, I didn't know how it made me feel. So I just decided to take a journey to the inner Vicky. I became dead inside; didn't know whether I was coming or going. Did the routine stuff I usually do and I couldn't find anything to excite me. I still don't know how to deal with "my new situation".

Breathe, girl, I've been telling myself since. I'm too scared to have a proper conversation with anyone at the moment for fear of breaking down, which is so unlike me because I don't like to show my vulnerability to anyone, not even my own daughter. I don't cry. Period! But I think I should, like yesterday, lest I blow up one of these days.

But while I still asses how to live my new life, I'm gonna put my bitch hat on and just live!

While I'm at it, I'm gonna give it my all; no BS, no grey lines, nothing. I'm just gonna live till the clock stops ticking inside. But above all, I'm gonna be happy and discard anything that makes me feel anything but.

Feew! Feels good to let the cat out of the bag, even if it's just its tail showing... for now!

Till the next read, forget what your situation is, just join my team and let's rock life's runway. I'm on #TeamLive and I've got matching shoes and a handbag to go with my bitch hat. What do you have on?

P.S.: Bitch hat here simply means loads of positive attitude to live by each day! :)