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Tuesday, 25 August 2020

THIS IS WHERE MY SENSE OF HUMOUR DRAWS THE LINE!

 

Writing laughter into words

WRITING LAUGHTER INTO WORDS


Laughter to me is a form of forgetful explosion. Imagine the colours in a bubble, how they pop and float across the room in small circles and tiny flakes. Imagine a volcanic eruption, that point of expelling, letting go of the built-up lava without a care of what has occurred underground or what will go up or go around.

Happy children

Laughter is freedom, a perfect depiction of how to lay aside every weight; a kind of reflex purgation that builds up from the lower belly surpasses every urge to be digested and makes its way to rest on the heart, till that pumping station has no choice but to render this beautiful uprising to the lips for ears to hear.

Laughter is expressing the rainbows in my heart. I open my mouth, throw my head back and forth, jerk my body, and sometimes even clap my hands in the air -laughter is rest; a watery type of joy that can be unsure, sometimes unexplainably blurry, but never redundant. 

Sense of humour

I do not know if laughter means one thing to me or if it connotes only joy, happiness, and satisfaction. I do not know because laughter is irony too. It is how I open up my mouth to make that sound with gloom in my eyes and anger in my guts. It can also be my response to failed expectation, the scuff that suddenly leads to a wry "Haq Haq Haq;" the best response for my disbelief, the 'Na me be dis' type of disappointed expression.


Maybe it is hard for me to make one complete sense of laughter, but I like to think laughter is multi-layered; it is everything from extreme to cautious. It is all seven colours of the rainbow. It is a result of both rain and dry land. Where it starts or ends remains a mystery.  Laughter to me will always be many things inexhaustible. It is to hold and to expel, to fold and to unwrap, to hurt and to heal, to hold dear and to let go. 

However, this is where my sense of humour draws the line, I find a reason to laugh from almost anything. My sense of humour is complicated, there is a thin line between what I consider humour or hate. I do not mind a good laugh over silliness, goofiness, or cluelessness, and at the same time, I could find it insulting. 

How to take a joke


What is funny or ludicrous to me usually depends on context and motive; if it comes across as spiteful or derogatory then it is no longer a source of laughter for me.

For example, In secondary school, I slept a lot in class and I was not the most sociable. During our graduation when I was called out as the best graduating art student, some students and a few teachers were a bit shocked.

Two students and a teacher literally walked up to me to say that I looked too dumb for the prize(I was quite shocked, narrated it to my friend, we laughed it off that day but..) I found everything about the statement mean and demeaning and I refuse to see how they meant well, to think they were smiling the "well-meaning" Smile and saying congrats as they spoke. The human mouth sure needs a filter sometimes.

Happiness


My sense of humour can accommodate anything, so long as the joke or comment does not promote inferiority complex, obstruct justice, victim shame, or leave anyone devastated. For example, I don't like it when people make jokes about my weight or hair no matter how harmless. I just think it is in nobody's place to have an opinion about it except I ask for it. I don't like "yo mama" or "your father" jokes. I just think everybody has their spot, don't always try to point it out or poke it.

Funny jokes


If we must laugh, it must be because of amusement, comic relief, wittiness, even absurdity. Just not anything that takes away dignity or joy from the human person.

NB: Special thanks to Ìbùkún for making me write this essay and taking time to edit it. I love you.


Do you love to laugh? What do you find funny or annoying? Do you believe there are any barriers to humour? Tell me in the comments. Cheers!



Wednesday, 5 August 2020

On handling Loss || An Interview with Stella Mpisi


Loosing your loved ones

It's the month of August already! I always have some sort of time shock when it's a new month! Like how did we get to four months away from Christmas? Anyway, I have to say I am happy to be starting this month with a very exciting feature.

I am drawn to stories and how they shape people. I want to hear how people are dispossessed or elevated by their experiences so I started digging. And to be honest, I found treasure. I was drawn, excited, cried even, at some things I found.

I was particularly intrigued by Stella's Story. The honesty and openness of it. I binge-read her Blog in one sitting. Her writing style is simple but it will draw diverse and complex emotions out of you, open your eyes to the nuance of what you once considered obvious till you can see the unconventionality of perspectives. Whoosh! I am typing so fast I might go on a spiral and forget the purpose of this blog post.

I reached out to Stella and she responded so warmly and timely. I feel so honoured that she agreed to do this ( I am actually smiling my I am so blessed smile) I am so grateful for this. I learnt a lot from her response and I hope you will too.

Let's meet Stella

Being an orphan

I became an orphan when I was ten years old.


I am so glad to have you here please introduce yourself?


Thank you so much for reaching out to me. My name is Stella Mpisi, a Congolese-born South African writer. I became an orphan when I was ten years old. Both my parents died on the same day. My experiences with orphanhood are what inspire most of what I write. 

The more I grew up, the more I realized that I was different from South African natives,


What was it like growing up in South Africa?


Growing up in South Africa was both interesting and challenging. On the one hand, it was interesting to be a part of such a diverse nation. Being exposed to people of different racial backgrounds, cultures and religions was intriguing. However, there was always a sense of disconnect when it came to certain issues. The more I grew up, the more I realized that I was different from South African natives, even to those who looked like me. As a child, I did not know how to embrace both cultures as being a part of me. I often hid my Congolese identity out of pure ignorance or out of shame of being different. 


Have you received any push back in terms of sharing your journey with people, have you had anyone try to measure your grief and tell you that you are supposed to just move on?


Very often! The biggest pushback I have received is from family and friends. People misinterpret my writing for being a sign that I am stuck in the past. They do not quite understand that grief is a journey and that I’ve chosen writing to explore and navigate it. It is not a destination to be “stuck in”. 

I lived in denial for many years,


How did it feel losing your both parents on the same day and what was the most defining moment in that for you?


The feeling was of sheer disbelief and confusion. At ten years old it had never occurred to me that that was even possible. I lived in denial for many years, even after seeing both my parents in their coffins at the funeral. At the back of my mind, I secretly hoped that God had made a mistake and that my parents would come back somehow. I guess the most defining moment for me was when I finally let go of denial and accepted things for what they were. 



In a recent post, you talked about being an orphan bride and how you were able to navigate through it, in that light how do you handle disappointments and what advice do you have for anyone who feels sad that their expectations were cut short


I think with time and age I have learnt that life is not a straight line. The first step to handling disappointments is understanding that events do not define you and learning to get up when you fall. Another important thing is that you have to understand that problems come and go (no one lives a perfect life) and what matters is not the problem itself, but how you react to it. Your reaction or lack thereof determines the rest of your journey. 


My mistake was that I relied on religion and religious principles and not so much of spirituality and my actual relationship with “the unknown”.



You mentioned giving up on God at some point, how did that feel + do you think having a spiritual life is important in handling Loss?


Wow! This is an interesting question. After my parents died, I held on to God with all my strength. I didn’t blame God for any of the things that were happening to me. I relied on prayer to survive. But after many years, I got tried and questioned everything. Life just didn’t make sense anymore and I lost all faith. How could God be so good to some and yet just abandon me? I felt empty. I think spirituality does indeed help with handling loss. My mistake was that I relied on religion and religious principles and not so much of spirituality and my actual relationship with “the unknown”. I believe that spirituality has no rules and is about you as an individual and the individual relationship you have with God. That relationship is very important when it comes to grief. 

Loss


You have had to Isolate yourself at some point and try to hide your pain. How effective was that in itself and do you think hiding from pain is a solution for grief? 


For me, I think isolating myself was needed. I think isolation comes with the territory. However, I don’t think that hiding from pain is a solution. I had to go through that period of isolation to focus on myself and to understand that I needed to address my pain. That’s the “phase” I am in right now. I think it is important to mention that grief is not a problem you find a solution to. People grieve because they love. You don’t just stop loving someone because they are no longer alive, so you never really stop grieving. That is why I believe in positive grief.  


Did pity from friends and family contribute to the length and intensity of your grief. 


Most definitely. I can’t stand pity. It makes me cringe. I understand that people mean well, but pity has always made me feel “less than”. 

Motherhood



Has being an orphan affected motherhood for you, any life lessons?

Oh yes! Becoming a mother changes, you and I think going through that change without a mom is one of the most difficult things I have had to go through. My daughter is almost two years old now and the most important motherless motherhood lesson I have learnt thus far is that of being a positive example for my child so that she can look up to me even when I will no longer be on this Earth.  

Without writing I don’t think I’d be anywhere near the level of healing I have reached today.


You mentioned writing as a coping mechanism, how was that like and where are you in your writing journey. 


Writing helped me through many obstacles. It is almost like I am able to escape the troubles of the world and pour my emotions and thoughts down on paper. Without writing I don’t think I’d be anywhere near the level of healing I have reached today. Apart from my blog I am currently working on a fiction novel in honour of my mother. I’m super excited about that! 

“there are as many ways to grieve as there are people on Earth”. Everyone is different.


How would you advise people to handle loss and the pain that comes with it, is there like a rule book? 


There is no rule book whatsoever. I read somewhere that “there are as many ways to grieve as there are people on Earth”. Everyone is different. What I can say, however, is that it is important to have a support system and to learn to take care of your mental health. 


Orphanhood and grief


Do you ever outgrow the need for having your parents + advise for young people who want to hurry up and just be independent?


I think being independent and needing your parents are two different things. With every important life experience, I feel the need to just pick up the phone and call my mom and dad. The relationship between parent and child does not end when the child becomes socially and financially independent. 


How has loss affected your relationship with people?


I have serious trust issues and I am somewhat anti-social. For many years I lost all trust in mankind. With time I am slowly rehabilitating the social aspect of my being. It’s an uphill battle. 


Give us two fun / random things about you? 


I LOVE rapping. I can rap several Eminem songs from start to finish! LOL. Also, I hate the smell and taste of the coffee. 



I learnt so much from this and I know you did too. What are your takeouts from this post? How do you handle loss? Let's chat in the comments + Stella would love to reply you. If you have any suggestions or people you want me to feature tell me and we'll make it happen. Love ya!


PIN THIS 

How to survive orphanhood

Wednesday, 8 July 2020

FEMALE FRIENDSHIPS ARE A DISASTER!

Female friendships are vital
Illustration by Reyna Noriega

I feel like if I say happy new month you will not respond because this is almost mid-July and it's been a hot minute since I posted.  I sincerely do not know where the days are racing to, but we move.  This post was birthed from a conversation I had with a friend. 

I have been doing a lot of reflecting lately and I noticed something interesting about my life( so this post is purely born out of personal experience) About 80 per cent of the emotional, physical and financial support I receive come from the women in my life. It made me so glad to be able to squash the ‘’women don’t support women narrative.’’  My friend believes that Female Friendships are a disaster and that it comes with so much baggage.
Female friends over male friends


I know a lot of females who would rather have male friends as close friends or keep more male friends. This is because according to them, women are too much drama. There is unnecessary competition over male attention; there are disagreements that last longer than they are supposed to. Guys just punch each other and get it over with. It is just different for women.


While I admit that some of these are true, I maintain, that to a large extent female friendships are a necessity. I can't speak so much for male friendships, it doesn't receive the type of backlash female friendships receive, even though, the ‘’bro code’’ is a concept I strongly suggest should be re-examined as it is becoming a haven for the unsafe and unacceptable behaviours of men. We will rant this rant another day.

Why Female Friendships are Important



They can simply relate in a way male friends can’t: when you go through stuff as a girl/ woman both physically and emotionally, you want empathy and not sympathy, in that you need someone who not only understands how you feel but has felt that way too.  E.g. you can’t even explain cramps to yourself - the pain is like your entire reproductive organs are at war and the weapons of the warfare are pepper, hair clips and a grinding machine -  let alone to your male friends.

How do you tell someone who doesn’t have breasts that your breasts feel heavy or uncomfortable sometimes? I don’t know about you but I like it when my sorry comes with an ‘’I feel you’’ type of support.  

Female friendships are valuable


They are less judgemental:  Hold on, before you bite me. There are some emotions you feel that make you take some decisions and actions that you end up regretting.  You need someone with a mind as dynamic as your own to understand this behaviour.

Think of the heart to heart talk you have with your female friends, it’s like an unravelling, you explore things that are deeply personal, you literally feel the connection in the conversation. There is a kind of vulnerability and acceptance that you receive; it is a different kind of vibe. 

If you went to a boarding school remember those nights that you gather in a circle and just share experiences. It is almost divine to witness a group of women who unburden themselves and have a good time. You can't get that type of feeling with the opposite sex.


They help defy stereotypes:  Nothing beats having a group of formidable and reliable female friends. It is so empowering to know that you have a tribe of people who are like you, have faced similar struggles and are thriving regardless.

It helps narrow the narrative that women never want each other to succeed or that we are materialistic and always seek male validation.  Society already puts a lot of pressure on women so having each other’s back makes us stronger. 

PIN THIS


Why female friendships are important


Tips to maintain/ create Female Friendships



Check up on each other often: Attention is important, find a way to constantly communicate.  It could be planning a trip, a zoom monthly check-in, occasional phone calls or texts etc.

I have a female friend that I really adore and we could spend hours talking on the phone and not run out of things to say, if I am not calling her, I am thinking of calling her. It feels too good.  My best girls and I have a WhatsApp group called ‘’wives and girlfriends’’ it’s so important to me. It is a safe space where I can say anything and not be judged.

When something good or bad happens to me, the first place I want to share it is on that group; the crazy girls that are there probably don’t know how much they mean to me lol. 


Illustration by Reyna Noriega
Learn to Engage with women both online and offline:  Don’t only put yourself in a position to be toasted by guys, do that for women too. Meet them, show interest in their work, it matters. I met one of my most appreciated Female Friends at an event, I walked up to her and said hi and we got talking; now she is my G. There are so many instances I could give but you get the point. 

Have you experienced any friendship drama? share the gist, please!


I do understand that some Females are daughters of Jezebel. It is not easy to handle the hurt and betrayal from female friends. Agh! It can pain. but the same goes for men. Scum has no gender. Don’t put the entire weight on women, female friendships are not a disaster.

There are still strong and supportive women who don’t gossip or compete for the attention of men.  It is important for men and women to complement each other, after all, we share the world. I still maintain that nobody gets you like your own kind. Nobody gets a female like a female!

Do you have more female/male friends? 

What is the reason for your preference?


Saturday, 27 June 2020

IT IS NOT YOUR TIME TO DIE

Illustration by Petra Eriksson

I have not posted in a while because life lately has been a lot to handle. 
I have lost so many things these past few weeks that I am now convinced God is purposely giving me the decluttering I never knew I needed.

There has been news of death everywhere and it just left a sour taste in my mouth. I have asked all the questions from why do people die, to why do good people die, to why does death not have any sympathy. 

My SD card woke up one morning and decided to clear itself. Something about it being corrupted. It didn't give any sign, it just up and cleared alongside tons of important photos and documents. I felt empty like I had lost time and memory. I had no clue whatsoever. I was numb.

Then I suddenly felt peace. Sometimes when you lose a part of you, it awakens a new side of you. 

It makes you discover some kind of strength, gives you thick skin.
Losing someone or something can be painful but sometimes it's a wake-up call. To push you, to spur you, to encourage you.

When I lost those files. I realized how uncertain life can be, I learned caution and preparation. Let me use a cliche to explain it to you " do not put all your eggs in one basket." I have a 500GB hard drive, I have a laptop, what then stopped me from backing my files up? 

Loss is so dynamic that sometimes you prepare and bad things still happen. Life is not Originals or witches of East end where you will be immortal or just cast a protection spell on yourself. Life is way more complicated than that. Sigh. 

The most you can do is pray, build a relationship with God, and stay safe. Just do the needful.

When it comes to losing loved ones, I really don't have much to tell you except that time will make everything a lot easier, and clearer to you. Hang in there.

You will learn power and endurance. Your heart is very elastic, it can take more than you know,  ask people who have lost people they thought they would never live without, some of them are still here living and strong. 

This post is all over the place because that's exactly how I feel at the moment.
But know this, you have the power to rebuild, to recreate, to invent a new space. To move on. You can heal. You did not die because it is not your time to die, there is still work to be done. 

COVID has taken a lot of people from us, to be honest, this year has been a lot from racism to rape to massacres but you are still here. You survived. It didn't get to you, even if it did, it didn't break you, even if it broke you, you can & will be fixed. So I will tell you to hold on because it will soon be over and everything good will come.

This poem by Lucille Clifton has been on my mind and lips lately, it is so timely, read below

Won't you celebrate with me

won't you celebrate with me
what i have shaped into
a kind of life? i had no model.
born in Babylon
both nonwhite and woman
what did i see to be except myself?
i made it up
here on this bridge between
starshine and clay,
my one hand holding tight
my other hand; come celebrate
with me that every day
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.




Have you experienced loss before? How did you handle it? Are you scared of losing a loved one? Tell me.

Thursday, 7 May 2020

LESSONS I LEARNT FROM MY EXES AND FRIENDS

Friends kissing

I know that by the heading a lot of you came here to hear how one Jaja from opobo broke my heart. You came for the tea. I laugh in all things cupid. Far be it from me to disappoint you. I will make it worth your while but everything is not about man okay.

friendship with benefits

We will talk about friendship today and you just might hear man gist one day. Lol.
Friendships are very important to me. like I am literally a reflection of my friends so I am mindful of people I consider close-knit. I think its time we all familiarise ourselves with the term acquaintance. Not every hello I am Grace from Abia is your friend. The fact that you have spoken a few times and laughed at the same jokes doesn't mean you are now soul brothers and sisters.

Friendships can die, it can grow cold no matter the number of years put into it and it's totally okay.  Life just happened and you grew up ( or not because maybe the other person just chose to ghost you) either ways it has not brought out the cure for corona so just move on okay.

This post is not to tell you what you should or shouldn’t do o neither is it friendship 101 master class. This is just my observation from Exes and friends yes I have exes, ex-friends, ex-colleagues, ex group members (resist the urge to roll your eyes please.)



7 lessons from my friends and exes


Resist the urge to be entitled:

 Sweetheart, see eh nobody owes you anything. Your friends are out here trying to be your friends, not your lord and personal savior. There are not going to supply all your needs. Stop the 'don’t you know you are supposed to call me( except of course you are buying the airtime) or I called and you didn’t pick( kpele o Oprah Winfrey) or one that most recently happened to me so you knew I was online and you didn’t chat me up( this one hit home)'
friendship quotes

 I am not trying to make excuses for friends who don’t show up because a friend in need is a friend indeed. I am just saying that lean on me no be press me die.

Show up for your friends: 

I don’t care what your love language is but act of service should be a compulsory love language in your friendship. It is not enough to post wcw and mcm on your Whatsapp status. Be there. Let your presence be evident in their lives.

 A very special friend of mine taught me this and all she did was show up for me all the time and I got the memo that aunty it’s not all about hugs and word of mouth. Be there! If they sell stuff try to patronize them or if you are broke help them market and advertise it. Whatever it is they are doing show support.
Friendship

Your besty Is not my besty:  

If you are close friends with someone and they are vulnerable enough to tell you their business. Please dear, when you meet that your other close friend which is not your close friend's close friend, Zip it. It truly is not and can never be rocket science. Know your boundaries. It's okay for your friend to have other friends. Even if you don't like them.

Understand each other’s triggers:

It's normal to yab and make fun of each other as friends but please know where to draw the line. I have been guilty of overstepping my boundaries. I now have sense. If your friend is insecure about weight don’t call him/her orobo in public, if they are broke, don’t take them to the canteen and say pick the drink let me pay, I know you don't have money( I have seen this one life).

 If they don’t like having conversations outside, don’t drag them into your circle of interest and be shouting talk now( I have done this one to somebody before, it wasn’t funny when I received sense) And please don't be too sensitive as a friend. Learn to take a simple joke and understand that sarcasm is a love language( I speak it fluently by the way)

Learn to communicate your feelings to your friends:  

Trust me if your friends wanted to be soothsayers and interpreters they know where to sign up. So speak if you feel hurt by their actions. Carrying face will only give you wrinkles. Some of us even go silent and expect to be begged( when I am not your life partner, lol, I am kidding, I am heavily on this table)

Friendship


Not all friendships last forever:

Well except the smell of your poop when visitors are coming. Let me be serious. The fact that you have been friends from your mother's womb doesn’t make you inseparable. Even Siamese twins can be separated ask ben Carson.

When you start to feel uncomfortable or being friends just doesn’t feel right anymore unfriend each other. Sometimes you notice you have drifted apart and you don’t know how it happened. Don’t worry it’s the universe saving you from further heartbreak or not but you get the point. Plus if you are the only one making the effort, check that friendship. Don’t beg for attention anyone who is intentional about you will attend to you.

Show appreciation to your friends: 

Granted, they are your friends and you have come a long way but a thank you will do and it's not hard to say, don’t trivialize the love and care. make your friend feel seen. Say I love you, be reciprocal. It won't make you any less human.
Appreciation

I had a conversation with someone who said all this mushiness is for ladies and guys don't need it or do it. That your G is your G period. Do you agree?

This tea I just spilled can apply if you are dating too or so I hear.
If you have any other lessons share with me, plus I’d love to hear your opinions on this. Do you have bad friends you still keep or friends who make you uncomfortable but you still call them friend and why ( I have them too, let's chat in the comments)
Friendship
As you can see. I am having fun with the gifs why didn't I discover it sooner.



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