Dear world, last week while on a brief blogging break, I was excited to receive the ARC (Advanced review copy) of my lady Dyane’s forthcoming memoir. I got it in my email on Wednesday night, and tried to start reading it on Thursday. With the boys ha, I can’t find the time to read at home so I read on the go as in when stuck in traffic. But when the book you browse promises to be one so full and pregnant with ‘stuff’, men you have to go find some cool place to savour that book. I was fortunate to have a trip planned for the next day although I wasn’t so decided yet. Well, that book sealed it for me. Whatever thing I had planned to do during that trip was going to take second stage because I had to savour that book and finish it before or else…
I am going to be very honest with you, not because I know Dyane online, but because I laughed so much while reading that book – I just want to recommend it to you before I even tell you more. I am going to do three posts on that epic memoir just to tell you how much it got into me…
In this first post, I’ll share the pictures of my reading cocoon and the beauty of the day even when I got back to the home I was hosted in with the boys. In my next post on this memoir, I will share the reasons (not related to the main topic of the memoir) which make me advice you to get the memoir. The third post on this memoir will be focused on my review of the main topic of the memoir which is “mental illness” – “Postpartum Bipolar disorder” in Dyane’s case. Thank you already so much Dyane for loving and trusting me enough to send me an ARC of your epic memoir. My hats off to you after all you’ve been through and still go through, to find it in you to finally write this memoir and in that style. Reading truly takes me roaming & roving…
Lunch time in the restaurant
Back home in the afternoon I couldn’t put that kindle down
The was such a nice view & breeze
Soup and bread, quick, quick, quick
So nicely decorated
Even in the loo, ha
Dyane Harwood’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder with a foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw (co-author of The Modern Management of Perinatal Psychiatry) will be published by Post Hill Press on October 10th.
It’s available for paperback pre-sales on Amazon at this link – Kindle pre-sales arriving this summer!
And the boys also got a blast at our host, a highschool friend of mum’s whose husband and her are befittingly called Papa and Mami by my siblings and I. The boys call Mami, Icecream Grandma because she has a big icecream venture. They negotiate to visit there at least 3 times a year. Look at the pictures:
Icecream Grandma’s Lab
Each day they had 3 scoops lucky them
Gaby made a friend and they designed that
Ain’t all that wonderful? It was a well deserved break for me afterall, Dyane’s epic memoir topped it all for me… I am so grateful.
Hello e-world and hope we all start off another week with gusto.
Today, I want to use 3 instances to reflect on why I do somethings I do. I am writing this post because some incidents in life have left me so full of contemplation or reflections on the why I do them in the first place. I am chosing 3 of them I think and hope we can relate with or just get us to think about our own instance.
Cleaning up especially at others homes
I love cleaning up. You can read this post I wrote about that. When I visit someone, if I feel comfortable being there, I’ll very often end up in the kitchen offering to help. My task of choice is doing the dishes. And no not staking in a dishwasher which I near got so offended having to use in Belgium, I mean using my hands and dipping stuffs in water and greasing them clean. My next offer, is cleaning bathrooms. One weekend, I was at a friend’s and I felt the urge to clean the bathroom. That’s not my first time doing so, and well maybe sadly, each time I do it not even a thank you is said. That day a ‘selfish’ thought crossed my mind: ‘Why do it when no one cares anyway?’ … But then I calmed myself down, do it for the love of you and for the fact that you’ll be using the bathroom or clean dishes yourself anyway… In my home, there’s an artwork on which it is written: IN OUR HOME CLEANLINESS IS NEXT TO GODLINESS . I am happy living that mantra wherever I feel comfortable, appreciation or not!
I love reading and writing, have loved these from childhood. When 4 years ago I realized I could be an Indie Author, I skipped for it. For me, it was all about carrying a passion to another bigger platform. That has brought me so much joy, I keep writing both for publishing, on my blog and in my journals at home. Income for my writings is sincerely not measured by royalties but by the therapeutic wind blowing through my brain as I type. Secondly, when I get any feedback from someone who has been touched in anyway by what I write or have written, I am so fulfilled. I still don’t know how to read or understand wordpress statistics neither am I interested. I don’t compare my blog progress by likes, comments and views or clicks etc – really I’ll be deceiving myself if I wanted to take on monitoring those. My love of writting even extends to doing book reviews regardless of if I get any on my own books. I mean I wish I could afford to be a professional book reviewer. Of the 25 reviews I have left on the amazon, 17 have been found to be useful. What Grace oh my! The same with reading, I read for the love of me, it’s a mental stimulation technique and ain’t that the best way of knowledge acquisition? That is why I follow so many blogs and read many of them, leaving comments on posts I am moved by. It musn’t and is the least reciprocal but I am ok with that. I don’t think I follow all who follow me anyway !
3. Being & Stayinh positive
I recall insisting to my mum that all what I’ve been through in life I see as experiences and not hurts, mistakes and … I had quickly come to realize that to keep striving in life, I was better off being positive than not. Gladly, one way I discovered to be and stay positive is to deal with my emotions and process whatever I have been through sooner than later. I do those by writing and reading most especially. There are sure some situations which will take much longer to deal with and process, but the secret I have discovered is staying positive that that too shall come to pass. Being positive for me also means reaching out as soon as I can. I follow my instinct and reach out – more times than not, the support has been trememendous. A few weeks ago, I reached out by email to 5 or so blogging friends and they were each in their own capacity so supportive. Being positive for me is abovr all a guarantee of mental and emotional wellbeing. Even my physical wellbeing is assured if I know I am trying my best and some days workout and watching what I eat, may be not as good as others. I have never measured the raison d’etre of my optimism by ‘material achievements’ or whatever is considered as ‘success’. I decided in January to keep a Gratitude Journal and each evening I write down at least 5 things am grateful for. That way, I lay me down to sleep with positive thoughts and actually keep track during the day only of such incidents. This morning for example, not panicking when I thought I was late fills me with gratitude and am positive I can thrive in that domain too.
And these dear e-world are some special instance which help me to realize the big WHY I do the things I do. I think getting to that point is a good thing and so maybe my post will help some of you start your own reflections too; or well just know you ain’t alone in your struggles to understanding why???
So, I am in Abidjan since 1 pm today, and although the hotel I am lodged at has greatly tempered my excitement to be here because of it’s ‘wifi which is out of service’ (and now works only at the recption), I am still happy to be here. This hotel was the first to be built in this country in 1952, and among their distinguished guests you have General Charles de Gaule and H.E Felix Houphuet Boigny – the 1st and awesome president of this country known as Cote D’Ivoire. I remember grumbling to mum I wasn’t sure I’ll be glad here because there’s no gym at the hotel, but then on flight I read the palmares of the hotel and I was like mum you see where I am? And it’s close to the beach meaning I can go there and jog, and my room gives out to that view oh my, just see for yourself…
And what about stepping on the dreaded scale ?
Ok, over to my stepping on the dreaded scale right ? No sooner had I posted the book review of the Latte Years which narrates Philippa’s brave journey to shed 30 good kilos and more life aches, than it came haunting me that I had definitely put on some ‘feelable’ weight since my return to Cameroon last August 2015. I returned home weighing and feeling 75kgs, but now although I hadn’t stepped on any scale since I returned, I felt ‘heavy’ to say it simple. I didn’t feel like I was back to 115kgs like in 2010, but I had to know what the scales said.
I bravely went out to find a scale I could step on, and see the verdict for myself. I did have to look around to find a scale because I didn’t have one at home, and the nearby ‘medical cabinets’ like this one which are in my neighbourhood, were either still closed or didn’t have a scale. I hadn’t had breakfast yet because I wanted to weigh ‘light’ you know, and I needed to step on that scale sun or showers even if only to justify my ‘skipping breakfast’.
I finally went to the nearest Clinic and gladly stepped on the scale. Bam 79.850 kgs. Let me honestly say the needle was very close to 900 grams and my face fell. It took me 2 tough years to lose 30 kgs, how many months now to lose 5 ? I just need to lose them by December latest and I am joining Dyane’s team on Lose It – No more excuses period.
I successfuly tried some new aspects of me out and am definitely pleased with the results :
1) I didn’t pack a month before my trip although I couldn’t do that on the eve either. I gave in to my anxious mind and did pack a week before. I used too when I was in secondary school, return home in June and be all packed ready to go back by July although school resumed only in September;
2) I didn’t leave my house for the airport at 5 am as I had been struggling in my mind to do, all in a rational that I could be late for my 7.50 departure if I wasn’t that early at the Airport. I chided myself and calmed down and left at 5.45 am, got to the airport on time ( a 25 mins drive from my home), and checked in fine and waited quite some at the departure lounge…
3) I didn’t ask for an aisle seat nor wear my winter jacket on the plane. There was a time my legs got all wobbly when I was on a plane and so I always asked for an aisle seat to stretch them out. I equally ever felt so cold in the plane I just had to have my winter jacket or several pullovers on. Sometimes even back home in the Douala heat, I will have a pullover on and I couldn’t stand neither a fan nor AC. Things are definitely getting better and now on the first time since my return from Belgium, I sat in an assigned middle seat, and I didn’t wear my winter jacket. I had brought it with me but at last minute shoved it in my hand luggage…
4) The flight was on the average cool, but I wasn’t in the mood to chit chat on the flight. I had ear plugs on anyway and I could feel my neighbour wanting so much to chat by the glances he kept making. I finally borrowed his magazine and smiled at him. I equally bothered him some to go to the loo and this is one reason I might as well ask for that aisle seat after all. I do use the loo way too much both on flight or on the ground.
5) Ah my luggage almost didn’t show up and I started panicking and near crying pitying myself it it didn’t. I have been through those scenarios more than once and if it happens in Africa, either I lose it altogether or it shows up on the eve of my departure. Some more polite countries like Tanzania sent it to my hotel, others just called and said it was at their ‘wherever’. I therefore started pleading with the luggage wherever it was and I begged that it surely wouldn’t want me filling one more of those forms right? After 20 or so minutes, it showed up almost the last piece and I was so full of love for it. I almost shouted out: “What took you so long Hon?” (I did say that to myself and I was the last guest on that hotel list who hadn’t shown up in the arrival hall yet)…
6) I meet friendly Isa the luggage help who told me much in 10 minutes and made me already plan to go visit his area which is opposite the lagoon where my hotel is. You first take a ferry to cross and then a bagoda to go to his area. When I told Isa I was from Cameroon, he gave me a military salute. Our countries seem to have a love affair especially since our ‘football star’ Samuel Eto Fils married one of theirs.
Oh me this area girl huh? And then I have just me a guy call Pape referred to me by our favourite foreign currency exchange agent called Marabout – more plans for after conference outings for dinner already being made… hmm la vie est belle la…
Dear World, I am learning and loving so much, and am filled with so much gratitude at the awesomeness of my Lord. I even got another big surprise on my arrival at the hotel and this one is still so much for me to share. I just wish us all so much well in all our corners of the globe and all our different endeavours…
It’s been barely a year and month since I relocated back home from yet another of my ‘flights into the wilderness’, but I discovered one awesome thing this last time precisely in Belgium. I discovered there was a Me and that this Me deserved to have her own Moments. Gosh it was like an epiphany. I set out to become best friends with Me, and oh my we so treated ourselves to some moments.
When I returned home, we went on two great moments to the sea side cities of Limbe and Kribi, and we built further into our relationship.
On the Limbe trip, I got to finish my fourth memoir and looked at some of my biggest fears squarely, making firm resolves to deal with them thoroughly when the showed up.
These Me Moments have helped me tremendously, but alas they were toned down or near written off when I moved into a place of my own and took my boys with me… This was my main reason for coming back anyway, so that was hurray and neither Me Moments nor Blogging as I used to do it, could take my mind off from that Graceful Vocation of Motherhood…
I have however come to realize to my pleasure and our satisfaction, that Me Moments are still possible… I take off for them in the minutes when I wake up and have time to meditate and pray; while I step out early for my workout in all that quiet; when on a work trip I treat us to a lunch and get to discover new dishes like Green Rice; and much more…
And now oh my, I get a week away in Ivory Coast precisely in beautiful Abidjan; and although it’s actually a conference am attending on yes a full scholarship, I would have all my nights and pre conference mornings for Me Moments. There is even a 20 free hours after the conference before my return flight…
So dear world, I am super grateful to the Universe and my Lord for these twists and turns, and for the possibility to embrace them and make the most of them for my holistic wellbeing. And you, any such Me Moments?
Grief can make, mould or mare you… Take it from it I have experienced grief and its various effects… Obviously to different extents but … a recent Grief ( Ulla’s passing )propelled me to rush right back to my e-family via our communication outlet par excellence: our blogs or vlogs …
Am Back… I can’t say if it’s gonna be any consistent, but I know for sure Am happy to be back… I didn’t leave altogether, I stayed around reading some of my favorite blogs… But I just realise writing is part of the deal and going by the number of followers I had when I last checked, others sure like reading some of my posts… writing has equally been so so therapeutic for me, I really can’t leave it alone…
Another Grief, one of the most poignant next to the loss of my own daughter, is on another note making me currently… I never knew two years ago I’ll get to this point of smiling when I think of my brother… I think it’s because He Lives on in Me
Am using his phone since Thursday
When he died in August 2014, I wanted so badly to inherit lots from the little he left. I was living in Belgium then, and couldn’t take back lots of his clothes or few house utensils you know… The clothes weren’t going to fit anyway, although I did resize a few and cared less wearing his big snickers… But, I so wanted his mobile phone ans I pleaded with mum then to no avail…Her own Grief was so raw I left it at that
Today, I am finally in possession of one of my priciest legacy from my brother, second only to the memories we shared of things we thought, said and did together…
I sincerely am grateful to mum for giving me my brother’s phone which was successfully unblocked and charged up after two years of non use… I have lots of him physically in my home like most of his house utensils and even beddings… And some clothes… And now the very phone he was using – and sure that on which we last spoke two days to his passing on… his call log was still there oh my …
And you gentle readers and followers, what are some of your priciest legacies from your departed ones?
Big Secrets which Hurt, Hunt and Haunt until Revealed
I was gripped as I turned the pages. Could this be real life? That a child, no siblings actually, be so abused in different and daunting proportions to the extent that one has to commit suicide? That the author is first of all ‘groomed’ to think it’s special love from ‘daddy’, and that her own mother turns both a blind eye and a lends nothing but a deaf ear to her daughter’s groans?That it gets so bad that when Mandy’s disoriented life leads her to a shabby existence resulting to a rape, and that she nontheless wants to keep her baby, those same parents connive with the doctor to ‘steal’ her baby and up the innocent soul for adoption. Another big hurtful secret which hunts and haunts until Mandy can keep it to herself no more. Her relationship with her daughter can only but take its toll but the ultimate grace is in Mandy’s work to be a tireless advocate of child abuse. Those terrible things which happen to people, makes them victims, leaves them so traumatised and ‘unjustly’ so ashamed, and nearly ‘ruins’ their whole existence unless they brave it to Deal and Heal with and from it all. And this too could be an Everest of its own. This memoir is not for the faint of heart although written in very familial prose. It gets my 5 star and unreserved recommendation.
Mandy Smith was born and raised in Montana, aka “Big Sky Country.” It took five decades for her to find the courage to step out from that closet of shame and reveal what had been hiding in plain sight–familial sex abuse and its ensuing aftermath.
Mandy resides in Portland, Oregon, and is an advocate for child abuse prevention and adult survivors of childhood sex abuse.
“Secrets in Big Sky Country” was a finalist in the 2014 She Writes Press Discovery Memoir Contest, and was listed as BEST OF THE BEST 2015 Books at the book review blog: “It’s Either Sadness or Euphoria.” She used to blog over here…
P.S I bought this memoir on January 13th this year, as part of a dozen or so pre birthday treats. I was planning to read many of them on my birthday weekend. Here is the comment I left on Mandy’s blog regarding her memoir: I had read the memoir starting on the 16th at 16 pm on a bus back to Douala, and yes didn’t sleep until I finished same.
How do I even start to review this book? Here is my modest 5/5 review left on goodreads after reading it in 48 hours just because there were other important things to do too:
I may not have a story identical to Linda’s to the extent that it wasn’t my mum, but I identify very much with her childhood. Linda’s is a story above all of survival in the midst of extreme trauma and near loss of one’s own sanity. That she survives and even thrives, to get to the point of working to help people in similar situations or even worse, speaks volumes of the resilence imbued in our human nature. Her’s is equally a sad story of painful traditions sometimes corroborated by religion, but it ends with a lot of hope. This book will definitely make a very good read.
This is what is said on the Amazon: On the surface, her childhood seemed normal–even idyllic. Linda grew up in the iconic immigrant community of Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, with her parents and a gifted older brother. But she spent her days at home alone with a mother who suffered major bouts of depression. At such times, young Linda was told, “Your mother…she’s not herself today.” Those words did little to help Linda understand what she was witnessing. Instead, she experienced the anxiety and hyper-vigilance that often take root when secrecy and shame surround a family member who is ill.
She’s Not Herself: A Psychotherapist’s Journey Into and Beyond Her Mother’s Mental Illness is a journey to make sense of the effects of multi-generational traumas. Shapiro is ultimately able to forgive (without forgetting) those who left her to fend for herself–and to provide readers with the wisdom of a seasoned psychotherapist who has examined human vulnerability in its many disguises and has moved through it all with dignity and hope. The result is a memoir of love, loss, loyalty, and healing.
I share three soul searching quotations before urging You in search of healing from similar trauma, to treat yourself to this – at least for the season.
1) “ I hold on to the belief I consider to be most valuable: the need to honour the parts of ourselves that are healthy, the parts that are strong, even when unpredictable situations – our own physical or emotional stressors or those of our loved ones – catch us off guard.
2) Learning to accept my own dark side while honouring my strenghts, I began to understand the healing power of forgiving and was more determined than ever to … merge life’s sweetness with its sorrow, reconciling its meaning with its mystery. Only then was I able to move beyond trauma – as I believe it is possible for others to do – with grace and dignity.
3) In order to confront my demons and not drown in my sorrows, the challenge for me was to learn to forgive – first my family and then myself. I reached out for professional guidance, to break the…cycle of despair, and that’s what I believe everyone in such circumstance must do eventually.
Thinking most especially of my friend Linda, and wishing Thumbup so much good tidings too.
This is the house whose fence I jumped over to go fend for food. The one with the red roof. The one where Gaby and I became prisoners in our own room. The one where I sneaked in a stove and kerosine and al so I could cook some rice for us. This is indeed that house where mum almost pushed down the gate in her desperation to see my kid sister. The house where all seemed tended on the outside and yet such explosions simmered within its walls.
Yes this is that house which now hosts the offices of: Transparency International. Irony or what?
I gathered the courage on a recent visit to that city, to walk that neighbourhood and purge some more stuffs out. My walk took me to That School:
That School I can never remember Dad coming to for any reason whatsoever. Go figure out the kind of Dad we had.
P.S He finally got to calling me today, and I candidly told him where I was emotionally and mentally as far as our relationship was/is concerned.
Wishing us all a happy week!!!
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