Only you Can Choose

I read an interesting article on child plastic surgery the other day. It talked about this mother whose daughter  took ballet classes and since she had to put her hair up in a bun, the other kids noticed her ears stuck out and made fun of her every day after. The little girl went back home every day crying and begging her mother to help her out (I don’t think she meant by surgery though) but the mum took her in to see a doctor and had her ears pinned back. That was the end of the bullying. I kept thinking child cosmetic surgery? End of bullying? Really? Till when, they realise she has something else they find weird?

When I said I found it interesting, I didn’t mean in a ‘whoa!!!cool!!!’ kind of way. It was more toward the ‘huh???!!!’.  I couldn’t help picture her years later crying about her boobs being to small and being taken off to shop for implants.

 

Fact : child cosmetic surgery (I didn’t even know this was happening till I read that) is on the rise. Is it because there are more children who don’t like something about how they look than there was when we were growing up? i think not.

 

I cannot say that this mother didn’t love her child, or that that little girl didn’t deserve to be picked on every day because I believe both to be true. She loves her child and she did not deserve to be picked on. However, I refuse to believe that teaching a child there’s a magic wand that can change fortunes which is what to turn to when there’s something to be worked out is the best possible sustainable approach.

 

Growing up, I was taller than the other kids my age. I thought I had an expansive (read huge) forehead and that my teeth were too big. I thought I was fat, not so much cool to hang out with as witty and get this – I thought my ears were too small. Where did I get most of this ‘valuable’ input you ask? From the other kids – mostly. Yeah, I thought a lot J  Did I cry about it when I got home? Yep. Did I ask God why he had to give me big teeth, a big forehead and all this body mass? YES!!! Did I tell my mom I laughed with my mouth closed or covered, because I had super sized teeth that didn’t look pretty, AVOIDED putting my hair up because I thought it made my forehead and cheeks pop out? Oh yes, I did…A LOT.

 

Did she hug me and book an appointment with a dentist to have my teeth resized and with a doctor to see what to do with my forehead? Hell no! And though I thought her unable to fully understand then, I thank God every day she didn’t feed my insecurities or my ‘flaws’. She talked them down instead, way down.

 

My mother didn’t get me help repackaging my body, she help me repackage my mind, how i looked and dealt with things. You might say that ours is a different culture or that surgical intervention wasn’t really something we’d spend money on but; I know my mum. Even given the chance, she’d have done the same thing. She talked up my strengths and talked down my weaknesses.  She taught me that there were many voices in this world all wanting to shape who I am and that only I could chose which ones did.

 

Was it tough to keep ignoring the comments and smirks? Yep. It actually picked up along the way when the voices multiplied and got stronger – teenage. When I lost a few pounds then gained them back. When I dashed home one day after sports in my games kit only to come back the next day and find my school dress hung out because no one thought it belonged to any one in class because it was just too big. It was tough but I learned how to deal with it. How to be myself, accept every part of who I was half the time and enjoy life. I learned how to deal because I had someone to teach me how. If she had taken that chance away from me, I’d have grown up knowing issues were meant to be shot down, not faced.

 

This is not just another ranting of a little girl that got her share of insecurities growing up. It’s a plea to the mothers that are and the mothers that will be : love your children. LOVE them fiercely. But don’t let that love turn them, or you, stupid. Don’t let that love be the force that shelters them so hard, it forgets to teach them because someday, they’ll be old enough to fly. And they’ll drop to their deaths when that time finds they know not how.

 

I will love my children, I will – despite my better judgment- want to shield them from a lot of things that I felt I wasn’t shielded from, feel I should keep them from. But in so doing, I just might smother them to death. So everyday I will make a conscious decision to love them as they come and to teach them that God loves them, I love them and they should love themselves too. I pray everyday that I will remember to tell them that there are many voices in this world, and only they can choose which ones will shape them. 

© Ang’asa Malowa

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New Pages, New Scripts

If you’d told me I’d be working with farmers, their families and school kids two years ago I would probably have un-friended you on Facebook and not talked to you for a while. My 21 year old self would have marked you as an ‘enemy of progress’ and strongly so. If you’d told me the same thing when I was eighteen, I would have told you I really didn’t see that happening. Back then I was in love with the culinary art and would do anything to be a chef. Had my whole life planned out and everything. But if you’d told me the same story when I was just getting into high school, I would have told you a different story. Back then I wanted to be a medic. Never mind that I was already freaked by the sight of blood (having never actually seen a bloody scene, I trusted my ER episodes to suffice) and take an injection to save my life.  That was me then. Young, ambitious and having no idea what physics and chemistry classes were actually like.

 

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Flash forward to the here and now. I’m counting down sixteen days till I’m 24, I am doing nothing close to what I’d dreamed I would…and I’m loving it! I still think I would have made an awesome chef though despite the fact that there have been claims that I couldn’t stand cooking that often seeing as I grab what I can while at work so I don’t really have to cook most evenings. I blame that on something, can’t quite recall what at the moment 🙂

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I get to travel, I get to meet people with as much diversities as I could think, I get to work with kids adults, the youth…and I get to take an insane amount of photos just like this one. Beat that! 😀

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I tend to think a little too much and if I’d seen this in the cards, I’d have frozen over and did all I could to alter what would be. Why? Because just like you, I fear the unknown and if you’d told me then, that is what it would be.

In just a little over a year I have moved out and away from everything I knew to be home, moved into a totally new (and a little… okay a lot 😀 strange) place, started out at a new job with the closest friends being  towns away. I must have doubted and second guessed myself a million times before I took a step. I have lost friends, I have made some and kept some; I have learned that family is what you got at the end of the day, good friends make life worth living and that if you find love, bask in it because sometimes, sometimes it’s not meant to last…

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I have learnt that I would be nowhere without my faith in the unseen and I have learnt that I may not be the woman that has it all, but I will be the woman that loves every little bit of what she gets.

So I smile, tonight I smile because growing up isn’t as hard as I thought it would be; it’s harder! 😀 its also fun and tricky and exasperating at times, its sunshine and rain and stormy nights – its life. And I’m learning to love every unplanned minute of it. So let the drum-rolls begin and 24 get here already; new pages, new scripts 🙂

 © Ang’asa Malowa

*pictures, except shot of the lake, not my own

 

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© Ang’asa Malowa

Why Did You Have to Go?

A friend of a friend was to be a bride this past Saturday. Everything was in place, everything. The bridesmaid dresses, the groomsmen suits, the white and the black was set for their day. No one saw it coming. She did not get to marry the man of her dreams. She didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye. See, a few days before the D-day, there was this car crash on his way home and he didn’t make it out alive.

Devastated. Anguished. Torn. Crazy. Shock. These are just a few of the words that would describe what followed. She got to hear the news from close friends who’d thankfully got to know of the tragedy before her. But nothing could paint any yellow over that minute she heard that her love was no more.

I do not know her but my heart aches for her. Instead of her wedding, she had to attend his funeral. What more to crush an already shattered heart?

It had taken so long to get there; why did he have to go? I don’t know and when they looked into her eyes, gave her the hugs, talked her mind off things; i’m sure they didn’t either.

This life, this life – the more i seek to understand it, the less i perceive. Listening to her story, I do not know what i would have done in her shoes. Ran away, broken down…what? All i know is i’d be furious at him for leaving me, leaving me without goodbye.Even when i knew he left that day and didn’t know the day would be our last. When she stood up to speak at the funeral, i could only think of strength; the strength she had that i wanted but was unsure i could have.

Life is what life is and for the living, pieces have to be picked up; hearts have to be mended if only so they could beat just for one more day.

Through her eyes, i saw how real pain can be, how far hope can ebb away and how certain the dawn is.

© Ang’asa Malowa

16/7/13

Dear Imani…

Dear Imani,

That would have been your name you know. Beautiful, isn’t it? I wanted you to have faith in God, yellow days, true love, real friendships and family even when everything and everyone around you said otherwise. I wanted you to have faith as strong as your mama’s and her mama before.

I miss you…I miss you.

You have a brother and a sister now you know. She loves sunny days and candy and he loves her fiercely; I fear for the child that will ever pick on his little sister. Every time I see them play, I can almost see you playing with them. I can’t help but think of how you’d look in your pressed clothes everytime I get them ready for school or dress them up in their ‘church clothes’. I told that to your father and he gave me the sweetest look; but even that could not hide the fear I saw creep into his eyes. He’s afraid of many things your father. Currently, that he will lose my love to one we never had time to love, he says. I loved you. He did too, I know he did.

I think about you less these days, I dream of you less and I feel the need to apologize for it. I know its been seven years since but moving on doesn’t work with time as we know it I guess. The way you left sill burns me inside. I don’t even know who to blame anymore. The doctors that didn’t detect the problem with your fragile heart, the traffic jam that held us back or me; the mother that couldn’t tell her discomfort was a sign of troubled waters.

I can’t be angry anymore, it’s draining the yellow out of my days but I’m afraid to let go of the anger. What if I do and with it, remember you no more? No, I’m not thinking too much, I guess it’s just that It’s been pent up for so long.

I love you. Now I need to love your brother and sister, you’re father just as much before I lose them too. I need to lift the anchor holding me in these dark waters. I’m letting go of the hurt, of the pain but baby, my heart will always hold on to your pure soul.

I know I’ll see you someday and when that day comes, I want you to be the glue that held us together; not the fire that burnt us down.

I love you Imani, I always will.

Mummy.

©Ang’asa Malowa

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Loss of a loved one can draw one into depths of darkness once thought imaginable. The loss of a child for a mother, even worse. Sad thing is, many women have gone through this in silence, in solitude, in anguish because they didn’t know how to deal with it any other way. Many father’s need to be the strength in situations where their own knees won’t hold them up. Even more the children who don’t understand why their baby brother/sister is no longer with them, who don’t understand why their parents seem trapped somewhere, who have no idea what to do to help because they too are just kids. The pain can break you, even tear the remaining family apart or it can build you, make you stronger. I know it’s dark where you are but there are yellow days ahead, if only you can walk towards them. Seek out a support group – you are not alone, speak it out, take time to hurt so you can heal. Your family needs you, you need them – talk to them. Heal so you don’t lose what you still have because you held on to what passed away.
Till the yellow days are here, till the black turns to grey, till the light at the end of the tunnel drawn near; hold on. It may not seem like it but there will be yellow days. Trust me, there will be brighter days. 

Take a Chance

pic from mummymoo.com

pic from mummymoo.com

let’s call this lesson #1 🙂 : Taking Chances

A year ago, as part of a society in campus i was asked if i’d like to be a mentor to some 2nd year students in our group. See, i was in my fourth and last year and who best to dish out some guidance here and there than a seniour? I hadn’t seen it all but i had lived there longer…plus I wasn’t given much time to make up my mind and i only had to meet them up once a week so i thought, why not? Try everything once right? In retrospect, that was one of the best decisions i have ever made.

I wasn’t the always out there kind of girl. Yes, i’m fun to hang out with and all but i hadn’t really mingled much in our circle. So there i was, on day one of this ‘mentoring journey’, with about twenty guys crammed into my campus room and snacks and drinks laid out on the side table. Yes, you got it right, 15 guys showed up (I’d invited 5 friends to help me raid the spread just incase no one showed up hehe). Who does that?!!! Shows up for a first meeting at a ‘strangers’ place and tags along 14 more people? I hadn’t even decided if i was really into it and here they were; 15 hearts looking up and waiting to hear what i had to say…i freaked out. The good thing about first meetings though is there’s always introductions to be done and snacks to be passed out so i was safe.

I remember at the end of it i told them that i wasn’t the most affectionate of people. I wasn’t about to track all their moves, advice them on every turn, beat them up for every mistake or call them up every week to remind them of the meet or check up on how this and that was going. I was learning alot myself and all i could offer was my time, the much love i could muster and stories of what i felt they should know about. I told them i didn’t expect or want them to be like me, but i hoped at the end of this, they’d better at being them. Deep down i hoped i’d scared them off. 20 guys showed up for the meet the next week.

Flash forward to here and now and i can say that i made some really good friends through those meets. Some of them still call up once in a while and everytime they do, they pump in some more yellow in my days. I’ll never forget that for my 23rd birthday, they threw me a belated party and each got a chance to say something before we cut the cake. The beauty of those words still grace my heart and i have seen lots of what was spoken into this life come to pass.

I almost missed out on all that because i was afraid to take the chance, to let someone, or 20, be a part of my life. I can only hope what we talked about those many meets ago somehow fanned a flame in them that burns today. Even if it didn’t, it was not because i didn’t try. I took a chance, and if i was to go back in time a year ago today, i’d take it again.

Take a chance won’t you? 🙂

Sunny Streaks

When i was little, i loved watching my brothers show me how to burn up paper in the sun with a magnyfying glass. To the ‘mini-me’, they were pure genious! 🙂 Fast forward to high school and then i knew it wasn’t really them (haha!) , it was that piece of glass so made that it could focus the sunlights energy onto one spot long enough to burn it up. So what is this rambling all about? 1. Having big brothers is awesome 🙂 and 2. Focus makes all the difference. 🙂

Focus is what happens when you’re stuck in the whirl wind that is growing up and despite all the blurrs in the spin cycle, you can see the colors. It takes real effort to stop thinking, wishing, hoping, fearing…and just see, enjoy the colors the season brings.

Growing pains can turn you into a worry freak because half the time, we’re trying to figure out what equation will be a win. The true and sad part it, i obsess over these equations so much i missed a chunk of the seasons highlights. I’ve always been a sucker for memories, hence the photographying addiction haha!, but this time even i did not have time left to spare to make some…lost focus on what lifes worth really is : Love, Joy, Peace. I mean we gotta and will work, have careers and all but it doesn’t have to be a trade right? We can chose to have them all 🙂

So now that i know the blurs make my vision too dark and dreary, i’m choosing to focus. Focus each days sunny streaks to etch a little love, a little joy, a little peace on my script  amidst all that is; irrespective of all that is.

Growing up doesn’t have to mean we have to give up living life. Now i know. I don’t really know how that will work long term but for now, for each day, i choose to bask and smile through this season. It may not always be sunny but there’s always some sunny streaks somewhere 🙂 I’ll focus on my sunny streaks.

Have a sunny day won’t you 😉