Finding my woman

It is so, that there are a thousand and one instructions on how women are to live. What women are to do with their bodies. What she is to do with her toenails to the tip of her hair. From the external to the internal organs, there are laws, regulations, expectations, and advice on how she is to look, work, be paid, behave, speak, date, and breath. And these come from every angle. The radical feminists, the liberal feminists, the conservationists, religion, family, the list is countless. For they are provided on the premise of aiding the woman navigate life. There is always something she needs to do or is not doing. And that is the reason women tend to inherit blame or are awarded the blame when situations like child loss, divorce, job loss, childlessness etc. happen. The general belief is that she could have done A, B and C to counter these situations.

Well, with so many voices telling me what I am to do with my body, my voice, my hair, my mind, etc. in which breath do I find out what I want? What I want, what I want to be, what I want to look like, what makes me happy? Where is the space to nurture those thoughts and fulfil the person God created me to be? As much as society has expectations, mostly outrageous I dare say, it behoves on me as a human being to find out my desires for my life. Do I have expectations of myself? Do I want to work because society expects me to? Do I desire children because it is expected of me? How many children do I want to have? To what extent and levels can I pursue formalized education? What can I wear today? As I ask these questions, I realise there are provided responses from concerned parties.

“What is the essence of a woman who desires no children?”

“A woman should not desire for much in her future, she will be provided for by her husband.”

“A woman does not dress like that.”

And these are statements that have literally flown into my body through my ear.

If everyone and society has these expectations of me, at what point do I start to live out my expectations? That is, if I have asked and know what my desires are. Am I leaning only towards what society expects, concerned about what will happen if I do not conform?

What do I want?

Do I really want that?

Or am I pursuing that because it is what is expected of my kind?

Great! When what I desire aligns with the world’s expectations of me.

But what if my desires do not conform? Will I still pursue them?

Will I keep finding my woman, even when I know I will be challenged and despised?

Down here, there are no easy roads, but better to be on the road chosen.

What afternoon runs taught me

I enjoy morning runs, I believed they were the ultimate until I went on an afternoon run. My running goal for this year is 600 km. Though I am 70% in and with a good chance to reach this goal, I decided mid-August to commit more to the goal and be consistent.

Respect is what I have for people I see on a jog or run on a hot, sun-burning day. Only respect. Why would someone go on a run when the weather is so hot when they could do morning runs? Hello?? However, last week, I had to go three times on afternoon runs since those were the only time slots for me to get a run in. It was an experience. It was different. And this is what I learnt.

Morning runs are easier. The weather is right. There are many doing the same, and so I was never alone.

Afternoon runs on those warm sunny 25 degrees plus days are not easy. The body gets heated up. There was so much dryness in my throat. My body was pushed beyond its comfort zone. I had to convince myself to keep going. And it was not what everyone was doing.

Though I was uncomfortable, I was amazed that my body pushed through. So, my body can do afternoon runs, can survive afternoon runs. An interesting discovery. And until I put myself in this place of discomfort. I never knew I could.

Why I love morning runs

Why not right? Mornings are cool. The birds are singing. Most of the people I meet on the run, are happy, sharing morning compliments. The sun is shining on my face. The cool breeze cooling off the warmness of my forehead. Morning runs are cool. It allows myself and my thoughts engage in conversation. And a place or state where I get ideas for just about anything.

I started running about a decade ago, in Accra. It was a challenge! I remember Sena coming for me from his house at dawn. He did, well not literally, push me out of the comfort zone (of my bed). For someone who had offered to help, I felt he was enthusiastic, more enthusiastic than I. He was patient. A trait which has made him a great personal trainer.  After those episodes and on my own, running still did not come naturally to me. I went running when I felt like. Once a month or twice a week. And each time it was tough, pushing myself to finish what I started.

In Weimar, I would run as the weather dictated, only during the warmer seasons.  My first 5k was in Weimar. If I ever did a 5k in Accra I would not know as I never used Apps to monitor my distance or speed. Speed and distance were not the goal. Using Apps like Runkeeper helped my pace and how further I run. The furthest I have run was 22km in April 2020. It took me 2 hours 40 minutes and 57 seconds. I was really proud of myself for that feat. It made me ask myself what else could my body do if I pushed it? I am looking to run a marathon someday, probably on my own or in a group. That is a cool goal. I can tell everyone proudly I have ever run a marathon. You know what a much cooler goal would be? To get running to be a natural thing to me. As natural as eating and sleeping.

So why do I love morning runs? Not only because they are cool but also each time, I leave the house in the morning for a run, it is a form of recognition, self-respect, and self-honor to my set goals. It is an act that says I did not just set those goals or daydream them, but I am putting in the effort to be that vision I desire. I do this also because I am not your average running girl. I am black, weigh about 90 kg and about 5.11 feet tall. Furthermore, I’ve never seen anyone like me out on a run in Ghana nor Germany. So I rep and protect my uniqueness on those tracks. I’ve over the years learned a lot about myself running. Most importantly that running is not just physical exercise, it is a mind battle. Even today, each time I step out for a run I engage in a battle. But guess what I get better at winning this battle each time.

I just banked my life on Google Map Reviews

I have been a Google Maps contributor for over 5 years now in what is now termed the Local Guide. So, they have this gamification system where your contribution entitles you to points and then you go on climbing levels. Of course, the benefit for Google is that they get volunteers to give them information on places, events etc. for free of charge. That is an aspect but when you consider what Google Maps was 5 years ago and how it has grown considerable only based on human voluntary contributions it seems it is worth it.

Anyway, I had a doctors’ appointment today, a new gynaecologist and I found him through Google Maps Reviews and chose him only because he had a 4.4 star rating and pretty good comments. On one hand it seems sort of scary that I just sort of made a huge health decision based on a bunch of stranger’s recommendations which could have even been bought. Then again, my assurance always goes back to the days when there were no Google Maps how did we choose service providers?

How did we end up in restaurants and in doctors’ offices? We relied on others and then also we relied on our instincts and experimentation. I think what Google Maps does is saves us from going through that hassle and task of research and experimentation.

I cannot underrate the goodness of Google Maps Reviews, I have avoided places that had tags as racist, rude customer service or unethical based on Google Reviews. While some Google Reviews may just be angry rantings and only heaven can meet some expectations like because the toasted bread not being burnt at the ends in a dark blackish bluish color and so a 1 star rating, 😛 , often a huge chunk of them is from real persons like me and you.

My first post as a mama

So with this post, I am finally back to blogging!!!! I am so excited about this because I am back to one thing that has been on my mind since my break.

Joy of Motherhood

The only difference now since the last time I blogged is that I am now a mama to a lovely boy who is a daily blessing to me.

Yes, motherhood is a really special opportunity and especially when I became one I learnt to appreciate my mother more and understand her better. It’s indeed a beautiful infusion of blessings, I would say. Being a mother taught me many things that no one tells you. It is almost like being married. There are many things said and shared but you only learn from your own marriage experiences. Let me share these things I learnt in three points with you.

The three things no one told me about motherhood, 😀

The beauty of birth-pain:

Don’t smirk or frown at my title above. Before I had a child, the only imagery of childbirth was what I saw in movies. I had never had the experience of being part of a birth until mine. That visual representation of childbirth I knew was what the film industry or perhaps books had given me.

It was quite a mix of emotions during the last days of my pregnancy. I was both excited and anxious about what my birth experience would be. I kept asking, when I had the opportunity, a couple of mothers how their birth experiences were. Often those I asked gave me the impression it was just a push, a puff and nothing more. Some even went ahead to use adjectives such as easy, quick and painless [rolling my eyes] to describe their birth experiences.

One person who described birth-pain as I later experienced it was my mother-in-law. She said to me “This pain will make you think you will die soon and at this point when you think you will die that is the point your baby is coming”. The truth of the beauty of birth pain is that it cannot really be expressed in the way it is experienced. It is an individual experience and for me a pain I had never experienced in my life (There is nothing to really compare it to). It was beautiful, only beautiful in the end when my baby came out and was placed on my bosom. And as I write now, I have no memory of the pain, it seems to fade away.

2. Some mothers lie (papa¹) a lot

Until I became a mother I did not appreciate the level of societal pressure that mothers face. Mothers have much more societal pressure to be better persons than Fathers. A father often might receive praise for doing what a mother normally does. Mothers are not allowed to forget, for example if you forget your son’s summer-hat at home you could be a bad mother for doing that. I believe this societal pressure often leads to some mothers lying, often even about simple things like baby sleeping or breastfeeding patterns. It is also important for some mothers to be seen as super mothers or mothers of geniuses.

Initially, mom-stories such as how their child started walking at 7 months or slept throughout the night since they were two months or started speaking proper words at 8 months made me question myself if I did something wrong. However with time I realized it must only be two things unless these mothers are telling stories to feel good about themselves or they might really be raising very unique world-changers who will go to the moon at age 11. I have learned to sift what is helpful and move-on. Every child is different and specially unique. None should be compared.

3. Everyone is an expert but you

Forget about motherly instincts, well at least everyone forgets you have it anyway. Once you become a mother, everyone becomes an expert but you. There are the old women who want to advice you on the street on things they have seen only within 5 minutes of meeting you. People tend to think they know your baby or child’s needs more than you and you must be on a journey to NOT take good care of your offspring. Of course, all advice is well meant even when not requested for. “Why are you not doing a or b? it is what is done here.” “Why don’t you give him a pacifier?”, “Why do you dress him up so warm?” “Won’t he get cold with such clothes”? “You should talk to him more often otherwise he will not develop in speech”. An endless list.

With time I learnt to trust me, though I did read early parenting books the most useful resource of peace came from within. Listening to your baby and your instincts. Of course, everyone “needs” advice but when it comes with no empathy it is often seen as judgement. Motherly instincts as I came to realize are quite powerful and accurate when listened to and it makes one a happy mother.

Motherhood is a beautiful experience, but it comes with challenges. Challenges that cannot always be imagined. Each day has been different none like the others. I remember a stranger once told me, “the time goes so fast, learn to enjoy him because it will never come back.” That is my motherhood motto.

  1. Papa: An Akan word often added to express emphasis on an activity being carried often. It can also mean Father depending on the tone.