In a world that likes to treat women like they are something lesser. I hope you know that you are more than that That you are important. That you are special. That you are unique. That you are invaluable.
Stay awhile and chat, Ask how I am and mean it. Say more if you can, let’s share a joke and maybe I will laugh. I have been trying lately, trying to be the bigger person and check in on people that never check in on me. I have been trying lately, trying to cosy up to friends who let me pick up where we left. And lately, lately I am falling deeper in love with tapping out when I am in desperate need of my own company. Somehow, like a miracle, you always call at just the right time because for once, you see, I am ready.
Tell me, When did you decide to stop living To shrink into half your size, become invisible. When did you decide to stop breathing To hold your breath & dare life to pass you by. Come back to life. Come up for air. Destiny awaits you.
Yesterday a man died in my hometown. Cause of death: Suicide. Suicide rates have shot up in recent years and are highest among men. I want to believe the true cause of suicide death is lack of mental health services and social support because with the right support anyone can get through anything.
Accessing mental health practitioners should be as common place as consulting a GP to treat a headache or flu. Yet this is not possible in Zimbabwe and in many African countries. We should be concerned.
The deceased was a well known local, a family man, distinguished in his trade as a photographer. He was the first to take polaroid pictures in our town and was seen as a bit of an innovator for it. He was a serial entrepreneur, always hustling, always cheerful. He also happened to have been born with a physical impairment that necessitated use of a wheelchair. Many loved him, his disability was never inability as the saying goes.
Then last week one of his children drowned while playing with friends at a nearby stream. Soon after the funeral he discovered his wife had been cheating on him with a neighbor. The love birds eloped together leaving him heartbroken and grieving as a father and husband. So he drank poison and ended it all.
Now that’s a tough week for anyone! It’s a lot to take and would feel like the world is crushing down all around you. But it did not have to end in suicide.
Death and betrayal are perhaps two of the hardest feelings to deal with. Both leave you asking “Why?”. Why did this have to happen to me? You wonder what you did to deserve this tragedy. You wonder what you could have done differently to stop it. Anger follows not far behind and so many other feelings and thoughts we cannot even begin to imagine. It’s a really dark space to be in.
Here’s the thing, it is possible to walk through these phases of life. With the right support we can deal with the most painful experiences and not only survive but heal and maybe even emerge stronger. There are a wide range of mental health services available in the world now to help with this yet they remain inaccessible to many.
Counsellors, therapists, psychologists and a plethora of others mental health professionals are specifically trained to help us navigate the turbulent parts of our lives. They have the language to help us process the things we go through and the tools to help us heal.
The mental health professionals that are in practice tend to be expensive and based in the capital city. As a result many turn to social support to help manage stressful life events. They talk to a trusted friend or family or they talk to their pastor. Talking in any form helps release the worst of our emotions and the advices we share with each other can help with ideas on how to handle things. But not everyone has a community of people of who care, though, and often people are left feeling isolated and desperate trying to get through their storms alone.
When you are in your feelings it’s easy to think ending your life is the only option. But it should never come to that. I dream of an Africa where therapy is common place and carries zero stigma. I long for universal access to affordable, quality mental health care for all.
The silver lining in all of this is men are starting to normal acknowledging, sharing and managing stress. Albeit at the pub with half joking advices on how to deal with the issues they are struggling with but it’s a start. And while we wait for governments to take mental health seriously and invest in universal access, lets be there for one another. There is nothing that can happen in this life which you can’t get through. Absolutely nothing. We are strong enough to handle anything that can come our way. We get stronger as we break.
Social media has given us an unhealthy fixation with finding ourselves. It’s like getting back to the older versions of ourselves will make the life we are living now become just as great as life was in the past we romanticize. When you are feeling stuck this can be comforting but it’s an unhealthy fixation with the past and a wrong understanding of how we evolve as people. Just as butterflies go through metamorphosis, changing from pupae to butterfly, human identity is not a constant state.
We are preoccupied with loss of identity and constantly trying to figure out who we are. The thing is – you do not lose or forget yourself like something that can be misplaced or stolen. You change. We all do. There’s seasons to our lives as we evolve into different versions of ourselves.
This process can involve burying parts of ourselves that no longer serve. Or taking up new ways of being to suit where life has taken us. Sometimes, if you are not in tune with yourself it is easy to wake up one day and feel like you don’t recognise the life you are living. And if you had a particular version of yourself that you really liked it can feel like you “lost” yourself there.
Instead of spending a lifetime trying to be the “old you”, however exciting that person was, be more intentional about your evolution and take bold strides towards who you want to become. Let the past be, who you were back then served their purpose. Step into the future more intentionally and deliberately mold the upcoming version/s of you into someone you can be proud of.
Yet another creative muse of mine is Upile Chisala, a poet and published author this time. Her pen spits beautiful words that speak to my soul of healing, power, love and other languages I can understand. I also love how visually creative she is. I won’t say much but just feast on these, please.
One of my main creative muses is Nneka Julia. Though she is actually a photographer it’s her evolution that drew me in and continues to have me in awe.
I came across Nneka when I was struggling with my own authenticity, felt out of touch with my voice and was increasingly tempted to create what I thought would get the most likes and shares. Everybody likes a big following, right? Then there was Nneka with her 65,5k followers on Instagram yet she was raw, original, candid, deep, everything I am and wanted to bring to the TL.
Something about how deeply sitted and comfortable in her talent felt just right and I wanted to know how she got there. So I read up on her, scrolled all the way back to when she joined IG. I found something intriguing and learnt an important lesson about evolution.
Back when Nneka joined IG she was barely getting 10 likes on a post. Her feed was full of visuals completely different from now and nothing much was happening for her back then. Her presence didn’t carry the force of her personality and charisma- not in the way it does now.
Then she started to show face more, bought a real camera, started gaining skills and the photography definitely improved. Nneka has a love for travel, food, family and people watching just like me and she started to capture that with her camera. That’s when the following started to grow and 10 likes turned to 500 then a 1000 and shot into the tens of thousands.
But Nneka only really exploded when she brought her voice onto the platform. You see, the woman has an amazing gift with words and an angels voice! And somewhere along this creative journey she began writing and finding these wonderful captions, wordsmithing and telling the most beautiful stories about all her many passions. Her podcast, Passing Through, is a gem too and another milestone in the evolution of Nneka
The lesson I take from all of this is we must evolve if we are to tap into the true potential of our creative talents. Nnekas is at the top of her game as a story teller and shows how evolution can take through many stages into something different from what we started out. Nneka’s creative evolution shows we can master more than one medium too, if we like. The channel does not matter.
You can see your own evolution, or lack of, clear as day when you scroll through your feed. Go look through yours. Are you bringing your all as a creative? Are you growing?
It’s no secret that writing is my first love but one of my earliest memories is of my father teaching me how to use a camera. Photography has always drawn me though I am not a very good shot myself. It’s no doubt then women creatives using photography as a medium fascinate me no end. One of my muses is Paola Mathe who I came across on Instagram where she goes by Finding Paola.
Paola is incredibly talented and is constantly bringing really amazing visuals to the timeline. She has a love for color and attention to detail that make every shot feel like it a labour of love.
What awes me the most about Paola is how her creativity is consistent throughout the different seasons of her life. It’s unrelenting. She just does not stop. Watching her create while struggling with health issues, with new motherhood, with her second pregnancy, while growing her business etc had been a life lesson for me.
In every circumstance there is a story to be told using your kind of creativity as a medium and telling our stories is necessary not only to purge our demons but to let others know they are not alone and to bring beauty into the world in ways only creative beings can.
It’s time again for the Afrobloggers Winter blogging challenge – a month long digital story telling festival. It’s easily the highlight of the year for bloggers on the continent and definitely takes the boring out of winter.
I hadn’t realised until now just how much the Afrobloggers platform has given me a sense of community and introduced me to so many creatives on the continent. It’s not so lonely out here anymore! And seeing as this week is themed Creatives Week, it’s for us fam. It’s all about us!
As a tribute to my fellow creatives my very first post for this challenge shares some tips for keeping the creative juices flowing this June.
1. Let the big magic find you: You see the universe is full of ideas looking for a home, for a kind soul to bring them to life. Ideas can be unruly and come to you at the weirdest times, they can arise from the most banal moments and they come in all sorts of forms. Allowing the magic to find you involves welcoming ideas when they come knocking, even the not so big ones. It means sometimes acting on them even if it’s not your best work. Because ideas are like visitors, if you are nice to them they come back and they give more. So play nice. Be a good host otherwise they will go off and find someone else to inhabit.
2. Schedule posts in advance: We all know it’s not everyday that the ink from our pens flows non-stop, not everyday photoshoots yield art for that vlog – get the drift? Prepare content in advance, write and proof or shoot and edit ahead of time, schedule your blog posts to publish when you need them to. That’s how you get to “post daily” and still live your life. Befriend Hootsuite or whatever autoscheduler you prefer for sharing to social media. Pick 1-2 days a week when you do content creation, let the beauty lose and then spend your days engaging with your followers not worrying about what to write/photograph/video/podcast.
3. Rinse and repeat: Find the kind of content that really gets people going, that draws people into your circle, the stuff you create that goes viral – do it again and again and again. I mean the point is to put good stuff out into the world, to create masterpieces! Check your statistics on the regular and do more of what’s resonating with people. Don’t be boring 😜
4. Have fun: The idea of all of this is to have fun creating. Do you best, do it well. The rest is up to the algorithm!
Here’s to a great winter challenge. Remember to like, comment and share each other’s content. Let’s go comrades!
I had a bit of a moment as I was taking an evening bath the other day. An epiphany of sorts. The kind of sudden realisation that feels like divine revelation and can be completely life altering if you let it. The thing happened as I was scrubbing my feet, banal as that may sound, I swear something absolutely profound happened. Let me tell you.
Self love is a funny thing with me in that it’s seasonal. Sometimes I am so in love with me and taking great care of myself, happy and at peace. During these times I take long elaborate baths and love on myself with scented products, salts and all the paraphernalia of self care. When I feel down, fat and ugly the lack of love shows in my routine. Most days I can barely drag myself through the shortest of baths. The thing that suffers most of all during these down seasons is my feet. One look at the soles of my feet can tell you all you need to know about my state of mind.
So with the hope to turn a particularly shitty day around I planned a long, elaborate bath. Doing the complete opposite of what you are feeling has a way of making you feel different. As I soaked, washed and scrubbed, a heaviness I had been feeling began to melt away. My head cleared. My muscles let up and in the excitement of it all I set about tending to my feet.
And while I was massaging them I felt so loved, so taken care off. I mean, touch is definitely a love language here. Then it occurred to me how long it had been since I did this for myself and what that says about how I have been feeling about myself. If tending to myself makes me feel so loved then taking time to give TLC to my feet , which I care zero for, is the ultimate act of love isn’t it? Caring for the least is the ultimate care there is, it’s a high form of love for the self.
In that moment I realised there’s a love we give to ourselves that’s due to even the parts of ourselves that we hate. The ability to do that consistently shows just healed we are, how whole we are as we move through this life. I have a ways to go here but I am starting. A daily practice was born out of this experience.