Women, please, get stronger. #Rippedgoddesses

Who wants to be a ripped goddess? I do, which is why for two weeks now, I have faithfully visited the gym, read articles about strength training, changed my diet and bought a bunch of workout clothes. I have even forced myself to become more sociable, so that my fellow gym goers can teach me proper weight lifting form.

I intend for fitness to be a habit, a lifestyle, as opposed to one-off activities that leave me cursing the day I was born. The goal is for my muscle to develop enough to make me double take every time I pass by a reflective surface + general body strength.

It has been interesting, peoples’ reactions to my ambitions.

My cousin gave me a look that was half pity, half snarl and said, “I hope this phase will pass.”

My friends cheered me on, obviously, because I don’t make friends with idiots.

The men in my life have nodded nervously before shifting the topic to a different subject, but the most interesting of reactions come from strangers, specifically, strange men.

I have been told how a woman with muscle is a man’s greatest fear, how they will run away from me, how women are meant to be soft and fat.

I have been questioned about who exactly I want to beat up, told how I am already hot and that my desire to pack some muscle is an indicator of my low self-esteem.

I have been told how I will look scary and always, always I think, how come these men, strangers at that, are viewing my fitness plan in the light of their desire, or more specifically, how they desire me to look so that “men”, aka they, will find me attractive?

It makes no sense, but that is how women have been looked at for a long time, as mannequins that exist solely for visual, and other kinds of enjoyment. We are to tailor the way we look to society’s expectations, whose plan is to send us into dull unions, from which we shall be expected to pop babies.

I would never consider marrying a man who is threatened by me taking my health and body image into my hands and regardless of how good looking the jama is (and I really like good looking jamas you guys), when he starts to spout nonsense about how I belong in the aerobics section thanks to my being female, I tell him to stop speaking to me because the conversation just ended.

Here are a few reasons why I think every woman should make it a point to get into fitness and become stronger:

Osteoporosis: Strength training reduces your risk of getting osteoporosis, a condition which causes your bones to become weak and leads to fractures of the hip, spine, and wrist. If you don’t want to be as brittle as a pringle when you hit 50, start accumulating bone density now.  

Molestation and rape: One out of every four women around you has been a victim of rape or molestation. One reason that unsavory characters feel it is OK to harass you is because they know they are stronger than you. Men are also routinely encouraged to molest women, by our own leaders. Take for example youth minister Ronald Kibuule who has once again opened his rapey mouth to spew rapey sentiments, like,

“I have talked to the IGP and the police in Kampala to see that if a woman is raped they look at how she was dressed. Most women currently dress poorly especially the youth. If she is dressed poorly and is raped, no one should be arrested,”

Asked to define what amounted to indecent dressing, the minister, who is also Mukono North MP, listed mini-skirts, bikinis and tight jeans.” This is from the Daily Monitor website.

When you can fight back, you are that much safer.

Posture: I don’t know about you, but I want to be walking as straight as a jambula tree at the young age of 95.

Peace of mind: Depression cannot share space with sweat. The more active you are, the more likely you are to feel energetic, motivated, confident, sexy and in control of your life. Take it from a girl who has battled some mean demons. Working out will shoo the black birds away.

One thing women worry about a lot is that when they begin to lift, they will bulk up ala the hulk. Honey that isn’t going to happen. You don’t have the testosterone necessary for that. You’re just going to get super toned and you’re going to feel even more beautiful, stronger, more alive. For more information on that, holla at the Google. 

Check this page out for inspiration: Who wants to be a ripped goddess?

And please sign this petition that is demanding the resignation of Ronald Kibuule. We cannot have rapists in public office. This rape apologist is youth minister. I will not have him as my minister any longer. Sign here: Out with Kibuule

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Happy life-day, ma.

It’s been two years and I have made progress, ma. We all have.

I no longer think obsessively of death.

I care more.

My mind no longer serves up those cruel, cruel dreams where I am hanging out with you and a voice keeps saying you’re dead.

I do wish you’d come back to my dreams though.

Praise talks more. He actually laughs. He cares about things again.

Jero and I have rallied all of the min-ot-ness that we can and are no longer so scared.

Jero’s personality has exploded in the craziest of ways. You must be so proud.

Jero and I keep each other strong.

She is in campus now!!!!

Gabby and I have a special connection. It makes me sad because that was you and her. It makes me happy because that was you and her.

Daniella is healthy, happy and such a source of joy, my god.

Joshua has blossomed even more. Everything about him has changed, except for his hands that remain yours.

Daddy is the same as ever, thank god.

*

It is a hopeless, a crazily, craz-ingly painful thing to lose the blanket of love, certainty that is your mother.

But we’re making progress.

“To lose your mother, well, that is like losing the sun above you. It is like losing–I’m sorry, I would rather not go on.” 

Yann Martel gets it.

<3

Happy life-day, Ma.

Don’t donate yourself, your nearest, your dearest to death

September is the month that my mother slipped through the doors at the other end of this waiting room that we so politely call life.

Her departure was aided by the staff of one of the popular private hospitals in Kampala (namely Kadic) who, using negligence, gave her an almighty shove into the arms of death. I suppose it all began when her doctor, a man who had performed multiple cesareans over a long career, somehow forgot that people who’d just undergone major operations were susceptible to blood clots.

When that nurse with a thin, brown face and stunned expression held my shoulders and said, “You are going to have to grow up now” I was sure my mother’s conscious was still in the hospital, perhaps in its walls, trying to steady itself, to gather gravity so that it would become weighty enough to slip back into her body.

And I called for her to do so in the only ways I knew how: noise, violence, chaos.

The first thing I failed to accept was that we had lost her after doing everything right, at least by movie standards: rushing to the best hospital we knew, delivering her into a pristine waiting room, being  reassured by a young doctor whose accent made you think “clean, sure”.

How could such a logical system fail, I asked? How could they betray my trust in the competence of musawos? What kind of doctor only remembers to administer oxygen to a patient who has been failing to breathe for an hour, after they have taken their last struggling breath? I suppose I had expected things to play out like an episode of House.

The second thing I failed to accept was that we could have saved her life had we had basic knowledge of the plants, spices and herbs around us. They could at least have mitigated the irregularities her body was facing. A small clove of garlic ingested regularly, ginger, cayenne pepper, vanilla leaf, all which thin your blood and lessen the likelihood if you developing atherosclerosis, a condition that causes blood clots to form in our vessels.

Two years later and I still remember so clearly, the helplessness I felt that Wednesday night. It is a strong force behind my desire to become an herbalist, a true daughter, sister and wife to the soil and her extensions.   

On the night of 9th September, Chris Ocamringa was reporting about a mysterious disease that is making the throats of the afflicted in Ntungamo burn and then produce snail like creatures, mbu. I balked at his use of air quotes as he referred to the medicine men and women who were,  according to all accounts, treating this disease successfully. Shya.

We have been poisoned by the idea that medicine is only worth appreciating when approval flows down from overseas. We are both suspicious and dismissive of the wise men and women who have been healing our sick for centuries, who have retained their knowledge in the face of globalization, colonialism and self-racism that came as a direct result; who have protected their knowledge against the stealing and repackaging by foreign elements. As a reporter whose responsibility it is to bring us the news, it was silly of him to flaunt his bias towards the medicine men and women.

Unless we intend to continue to donate our nearest and dearest to death while paying for death spaces in the fancy little hospitals that keep mushrooming all over the hills of Kampala, we had better wake up to the healing elements around us. It doesn’t take much. At the very least, google. Pay attention to what you eat, hydrate and move.

 Ma, Mary Jessica Opwonya, you are loved and sorely missed by we, your seven.

<3

Caution: Touch the 2 year old at your own risk.

Every Wednesday evening for some time now, my father, siblings and I have opened our home to whoever will come. The line up is usually the same: tea, music and spiritual edification.

We have a resident 23-month-old who is as cute as she is dramatic. She loves attention and adults are all too willing to give it to her.

Also, she wears my heels better than I do.

Also, she wears my heels better than I do.

Kati the more attention she gets, the more dramatic she becomes, which makes adults pay her even more attention. It’s a cycle that when put in motion is almost impossible to break.  Sometimes I am tempted to sellotape a placard to her back reading: Pet this baby at your own risk. All tantrums that occur up to five minutes after your petting are to be quelled with with no expectation of help from the members of this family.

Our cousin Ashley lives right next door and so on one occasion, her mother thought it would be a great idea to bring her over for cell. Now these two girls have only one week’s age difference. They are like twins. They encourage the kawuka of madness in each other.

At first glance, they are the picture of perfection, sitting on a sofa gulping down milk, or lying on a mat, learning how to use crayons. And then you make the mistake of looking away. When you look back they are: Chewing crayons. Creeping to the bathroom. Pulling the cat’s tail. Trying to topple the sugar bowl. Tearing Books. Trying to fry themselves with electricity. Trying to jump off chairs. Licking the bottoms of shoes. Painting their bodies with lipstick. Laying waste to feminine hygiene products. You get the picture.

When Ashley arrived, that was the end of sanity. We weren’t able to concentrate for more than five minutes at a time because to two year olds, everything is an emergency. They demand all of your attention and usually have nothing to fill it with. They just want you to witness their lives as they happen.

A home-cell cannot withstand that kind of pressure and so it  turned into a five-person babysitathon and not even the tricks that I had learned during my weeks of leave helped.

Thanks to my broken leg, I spent almost three weeks at home and was able to really hang out with these girls. According to the internet, children’s minds are more permeable than sponges at this stage and so during the first week, I was all like, “I’m starting a nursery school!”

I tried to create a fun syllabus.The subjects were simple. Snacking, chasing chickens, counting, naming body parts and sleeping. They added secret-fighting, force-feeding one another and giggling to the list. Don’t get me wrong, It is magical when a two-year-old girl giggles but when she is out of sight, with another two year old, you’d better run to the crime scene.

AdorBable! Also, she'd just intentionally spilled the bowl of kaliisoliisos that I had painstakingly gathered.

AdorBable! Also, she’d intentionally spilled the bowl of kaliisoliisos that I had just painstakingly gathered.

At the end of the cell-turned-nursery school, mama Ashley and I had one main prayer request: For God to give us all patience and the grace to recognize that no matter what atrocities two year olds commit, they are not being malicious.

Actually, there are legitimate reasons why children around this age behave so erratically. Melinda Wenner on Slate writes that, “The frontal lobe, which is responsible for planning, logic, reasoning, working memory and self-control, is vastly underdeveloped at this age and because of this toddlers are really living in the moment, not thinking about consequences…a semi functional frontal lobe also means that toddlers have practically no sense of time and patience and therefore experience wanting as needing…” Look, just read the article HERE.

Her bigass Opwonya foot when she was a few days old.

Her foot when she was a few days old. Big is Big.

In two days, Daniella will turn two. My life, our lives,  would be dry and meaningless husks without her. Happy birthday, baby Danniebooboolocious. You’re proof that Opwonyas are born, not made.

My darling and I

My darling and I

Mwe tongue chewers and heavy breathers, first come here.

Let’s not encourage Miley Cyrus by acting shocked about her gross performance. Let’s just ignore her and her long tongue. She should be examined by professionals for repeatedly engaging in racist acts and grab grabbing from a culture, while giving it and its people zero respect.

But if you’re honest, at 20 most of you were performing (much) watered down versions of her madness. You felt like the discoverer of  sex, like the president of a republic called rebellion.  Unfortunately for her, she’s making her ugly mistakes with paparazzi, Hollywood and the world watching. I pity her 30-year-old self and the mudslide of shame she will have to wade through to find inner peace.

Actually, the only reason I’ve brought her up is her tongue. It can’t seem to go five minutes without nudging its way out of her lips and rolling down almost to her neck. That on its own doesn’t bother me, but it reminds me of other tongue-related deviances that do.

If there is one thing that drives me so far up the wall that I end up hanging from the ceiling, it is tongue chewing. When I notice that somebody near me is doing it, I become incredibly annoyed. Think a dozen bulls in a indoor stadium with walls painted red.

I have to fight the impulse to shake and roll and vomit and scream “Why? Why are you chewing your disgusting tongue? Do you hate peace of mind? Do you hate me?!”  and if the person’s chewing is accompanied by that sound like slugs mating in mud, I have to get out of earshot or risk exploding.

I was happy to discover that it is not lugezigezi at play here but a variation of Misophonia, a condition defined as the hatred of sounds. Of course this is all self diagnosis, but my symptoms are a direct match with those of selective sound sensitivity, a condition where soft sounds (typically eating and breathing sounds) make the sufferer react with great rage and disgust.

Sufferers have an abnormally strong reaction of the limbic (emotional system) and autonomic nervous system (body control system) which the auditory system is intimately connected to.  Basically, Misophonia happens when the parts that control your hearing get all muddled up with the ones that affect your emotions.

I once considered ending a promising friendship* because the jama couldn’t keep his tongue away from his teeth. Luckily for me, that situation resolved itself.

I know there are many people like me, so I’m going to be charitable and share the ways I deal with it:

Forcing the person to stop. If you are in a position of authority, you can easily threaten the person into quitting. This sounds like bullying, I know, but if you have experienced misophonia, you know that their sound is worse than bullying for you. It is the difference between productivity and breaking down.

Training your mind to react differently: This is difficult but if you care for the maker of the disgusting sound, you can do it. I know I did. Nope, not going to share how. This is a blog not a diary.

Wearing headphones and listening to white noise, such as rain sounds or static is 100% effective. This is great for work places where you may be stuck for months or years around people for breathe so loudly, you’d think they had hot coals in their throats, that are being put out by a dripping tap.

Very much

As in you really need to stop