Good Enough Mom

To be a mother is to always worry about being “a good mother” or in my case, being a “good enough” one. It’s really hard to tell if you are doing well in this endeavor, though, because a lot of what you do as a mother is received with nonchalance most of the time and there is no formal review process now is there?! 😜

I find myself hanging onto every sign that my efforts matter so you can imagine when Mazvi, my first born, told me how she got full marks on a really hard school assignment and her teacher marvelled at how her parents (namely me) help her with school when most just let kids figure it out alone.

Now this is a girl who is writing grade 7 exams this year and working really hard. Most days I try to make time and help out with homework, study tips, proof reading compositions and all sorts of practical work. I don’t always have the time, or the patience for homeschool and often feel real crappy when I snap or can’t be there and she is really struggling.

Mr Teacher Man recognising the work done here is A REALLY BIG DEAL!!! So excuse me while I wear my invisible “supermom” award from my daughter and her teacher with pride because this feeling feels so damn good.

I know mothers are supposed to take all this in stride and not talk about it but I think I like it here – being seen and acknowledged for my efforts feels fantastic.

To every mom doing her best to support her exam class student or just helping her learners keep up; “I see you. You are doing a great job, you! Supermom! Sando dzako!!!”

🌺❇️🌺

Small wins

Ever wonder how the big ships feel when anchored on the dock too long? Do they miss the sea? Do they long to be out in the water, chasing the wind, no land in sight? Do they just float and enjoy the moment knowing they are built for the seas and it’s only a matter of time until they can do it all again? I feel like a big ass ship, built to ride the waves and show off her bows out in the world yet here we are – on the dock wasting time.

A friend said to me, “You really need to stop feeling stuck. Give yourself some grace. We are in the middle of a pandemic and just surviving is enough right now. Holding down your job, being there for your family, healing and stuff that’s a whole lot right there. The problem is you are a high achiever and so used to chasing big dreams that you feel like you are doing nothing because there are no big dreams-achieved for you to tick off your list”.

I felt that, hey. I felt it in that deep place only hard truths from people you know care deeply about you can hit. You know it’s true because they know you so well that they can’t be wrong about this. And that sucks, but in a good way.

I am a big dreamer, you see. List of goals as long as my arm. Big, hairy and audacious goals because why not, right? The way COVID-19 has brought parts of my life to a stand still really does feel like nothing worthwhile is happening. Its a kind of funk that’s hard to acknowledge, hard to cure.

But then I realised something. For now, while we are here unable to go after the big dreams and record big wins, the small ones will do too.

Plant a garden.
Clean your windows.
Declutter your lingerie drawer.
Buy something you really want.
Fall back in love with your partner, with yourself.
Lose weight.
Learn to paint or play an instrument.
Give to charity.
Do what you can, where you are.

Every achievement, no matter how small, brings joy just the same and stocks the fire of hope we need to make it through these trying times. And if you find yourself feeling like a big ship longing for the sea remember that your circumstances don’t change who you are and your destiny will always find you. If not now then later. Stay sharp.

New Facebook page

So, I did a thing. Ankara & Lattes, the blog is now on Facebook! You will find me on this link here

This has been a long time coming as I tried to figure out which platform would serve best as a home for the kind of conversations I want to have with women, especially young women.

Let’s keep the conversation going!

Take Your Time

Take your time and drench your pillows in it.
Let the tears flow like rain.
Take your time and feel the pain, will you
Let it wash over you in waves
Wounds heal with time
This too shall pass
When walking through the valley of the shadow of death
Let it be

Finding the answers

Art by Elena Gual

The answers to every question under the sun are in a book somewhere waiting to be found.

There is something to that old saying – there is nothing new under the sun. Whatever you are going through you can trust that you aren’t the first or the last to experience it. We are lucky to live in a time where it’s become common to write problems and share their solutions for free. So read, read widely.

Find books, forums, blogs, social media accounts that speak to your issue and educate yourself to better understand your own struggle and how others overcame it.

My all time favorite reads are:
1. It Did Not Start With You
2. The Body Keeps Score
3. Love For Imperfect Things
4. The Bible

Some IG accounts that helped me are;
Yvette Aloe
Kier Gaines
Michell Clark

As you read you will discover the language to talk about yourself and your wounds as well as the tools to heal them. Be deliberate about the content you consume, it can make or break you.

Routes to healing

Art by Elena Gaul

Three routes to healing
1. You must let the pain visit
2. You must let it teach you
3. You must not let it overstay
– Ijeoma Osike Umebinyuo

Journaling saved my life. For real. Because the route to healing involves sitting with yourself, listening to where it hurts, asking your pain the right questions so you learn why it hurts and finding ways to be in care with yourself so you can heal the hurt and replace it with something else – something good.

Therapy allows you to do all of this through talking to someone who is trained in the art of healing and can guide you in your introspection, help you figure yourself out. Journaling allows you to do the same thing by pulling out your thoughts and feelings, putting them on paper so you can better see and untangle them by yourself.

I have kept many electronic journals during my journey to wellness. I love them for the ability to customize how I re-organise the chaos in my head and lock  away the horrors of my heart with a secure password.

You can also track your moods with smileys or words and get a better sense of what your happy/sad ratio is. This is especially important because feeling sad is a normal feeling for all of us and generally a 60/40 ratio between positive feelings and the negative is considered healthy.

I highly recommend making journaling a part of your life if you want to be well and happy. It’s a really good way to get to know yourself, to pick up things that are stressing you and start to find healthy ways of dealing with them. And if you are not much of a writter most journal apps let you record voice instead.

What’s not to like?

The Big Cry

Art by Elena Gaul

Every so often,
surrender and let the water do it’s work
Maybe the big cry
comes right before the big miracle.
Maybe the big cry is the miracle.
-Upile Chisala

Whenever we talk about mental health, wellness and routes to healing we must talk about crying. We need to talk about why it’s okay, even necessary for your wellness journey.

Surrender and let yourself cry at some point so you can let the stress go, so you can let it heal. We often resist tears but when you open the flood gates it’s not just water that washes over you but a strange kind of relief and calm. I say strange but there is a science to all this, hear me out.

1. Emotional tears contain stress hormones and flush them out of your system
2. Crying activates the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). The PNS helps your body rest and digest. A good cry is triggers a period of rest.
3. Crying releases hormones called oxytocin and endorphins, these are our own in built self soothing mechanism.

In short, crying balances out your emotions and is a scientific miracle self healing mechanism.

I often found myself crying as I processed things at various stages of my own journey. Small small tears as an old memory surfaced, a river of tears as I pulled the scabs of old wounds oozing pus from years of neglect,rolling-on-the-floor-sobbing-and-screaming tears as I finally let go of things. It’s all a necessary part of the journey and the beauty is you live to tell the story of how you overcame and you get to create the future you desire with no baggage.

I hope you give yourself permission to the water do it’s work. Behind closed doors or safe in the arms of a loved one or under the watchful eye of a trained professional. Do the needful.

The Good Life

Art by Elena Gaul

We all want to live the good life. And when you grow up poor you often associate that with having money and being able to afford certain things, live a certain kind of lifestyle. That was me, small town girl moved to the big city, got educated, got a job, got small small money and made good – sort of.

I didn’t have a lot but I had enough and was living my dreams in many ways. Life being life, I got my fair share of Ls but I was dealing with it like you do, getting over stuff and “keeping it moving”. Then I started to realise more and more that I was deeply sad and didn’t know why. The sadder I got, the more randomn illnesses I had – migraine, heart palpitations, fainting spells you name it. Turns out the good life is not just a state of having but also a state of being.

Not knowing who to turn to I spoke a General Practitioner. They said I had classic symptoms of depression and referred me to a psychologist. At the time I struggled to find one who would accept my medical aid, struggled to find any therapist who would take me on as a client really. I have since realised just how hard it is generally to get professional mental health services of any kind in Zimbabwe, and how expensive.

Most people are going through what they are going through alone because they  cannot get help. This is why I think we need to normalise talking about these things so people have the information and tools to take better care of their mental health by themselves so things don’t reach breaking point.

Well & Good

Art by Elena Gaul

I was looking back on my journey with wellness over the last couple of years and marvelling at it all. The things I had to learn about trauma & healing. The unlikely connections I made with others who were struggling and in the pursuit of happiness too. The calm waters I have found right here amidst all the chaos. We don’t talk enough about the things that keep us awake at night, that drive us to drink, the things that break us and how we can overcome all of that and flourish.

This week I will share parts of my journey in a series of blog posts. I want to tell you about the things I have learnt and the wonderful people I have met.

Maybe this could be start of a beautiful conversation and healthier lives for us all. Because I really want for us all to be well and good in every possible way.

In the words of Gabrielle Union, “We are going to need more wine.”

#wellness

Make peace

Make peace with yourself.
There’s no need to keep setting yourself on fire for the mistakes of the past.
Hold yourself with care,
The future awaits you, innocent and vast.

Limitless

I wrote a note to myself in January. A blessing. It said “God is doing a new thing in your life…”. It spoke of transformation, a flood of good things, a blossoming that would be beautiful to behold. Sometimes I wonder if I am blossoming at all. Then I look around me and laugh because I am surrounded by blessings, dreams come alive and answered prayer everywhere I look.

This is quite a wonderful thing because I am generally a very ambitious person. So much so that every five years I hold a moonshot thinking session and make it my mission to dream up the wildest dreams I can imagine for my life. I take these big ideas and turn them into the biggest, hairiest, most audacious goals for myself. Then I get to work!

I did this in 2019, gifted myself a trip and spendt a couple of days in glorious solitude and silence mapping out the next chapter of my life, designing the next version of my. A lot of things I am working on for my life currently, the crazy ones at least, are things I dreamed of on that trip. Everything I am becoming emerged from that blueprint God and I created that time.

Year one is such a high because you have beginners energy, beginners luck and all of that on your side. Then things get real, very quick in year two.

I am now in year three of this current cycle which is mid-stream. Every December I pause and take stock of all of the wins and acknowledge the fails. The energy can begin to wane but you need to focus on how far you have come and celebrate all of your wins. The disappointments can start to mount up and make you want to give up, focus on what you have learnt from all of it and how you will use that to do better.

I am writing this to say “Go ahead and dream big! Aim for somewhere between crazy ambitious and science fiction. Then get to work. There is no dream too big to be lived by you”.

In 1961 JF Kennedy, then President of America set an ambitious target to land an American on the moon before the decade was out. It seemed impossible at the time but in 1969 it happened. You too can do the impossible for your life. Dream it then their your everything into making it happen.

May God go with you!

Have courage

Have courage. Go after all the things you have ever wanted for yourself. Start a new chapter, recast yourself as the fearless shero because you are.

Feel free to grab at the low hanging fruit or go off on a limb. Because some things will be harder than others but it’s all worth it.

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