Diastasis Recti /Mummy pooch

The theme for international Women’s day #iwd2022 is break the bias. Oh hi, I know it’s been a while but I cannot be silent on the only day in the year that celebrates my gender. I shall get back to the reason of my silence but for today’s #iwd2022  can we talk about Mummy pooch? Mummy pooch or mummy tummy is that soft stubborn belly fat below the belly button postpartum. Do you know that it is an actual medical condition? It is a very common condition and 50% of pregnant women end up with it. Admittedly I didn’t know that until about a month ago, during a conversation with an old acquaintance,  I stated that I have been in the gym for six whole weeks and my entire body has seen a drastic improvement except my waist line which seem quite determined to remain at 34inches no matter how many laps of abs workout I did. I raised up my dress to show her the loose skin around my stomach (this is quite common for sierra Leonean women who are  comfortable with each other. I need to state this before my readers start giving me the side eyes) and her response was “oh it’s diasastsis recti, I have that condition too”. Wait what?? Is it a medical condition? How did I not know this?

Photo Credit: http://www.clevelandclinic.org

Diastasis recti is a separation of the rectus abdominal muscles in the midline, more commonly known as your “abs.” Your abs are made up of two parallel bands of muscles on the left and right sides of your torso. They run in the center of your abdomen from the bottom of your ribcage down to your pubic bone. These muscles are joined to each other by a strip of tissue called the linea alba.
Diastasis recti” means your belly sticks out because the space between your left and right belly muscles has widened. In an even simpler term, it means one belly muscle has now been seperated into two.

Boy o boy, pregnancy can be demanding and when you feel like you are finally done with it, you are left with souvenirs or badges of honour and except for the precious little bundle of joy most of these souvenirs are unwanted. Constipation,  humbled breast(I dont refer to them as saggy), stretch marks in the wrong places are all souvenirs from pregnancy and so is a fairly harmless but undesired condition called diastasis recti. When you are pregnant especially during the third trimester, the abdomen need to make space for your growing baby, the pregnacy hormones help relaxe these muscles on both sides of your belly stretching them outwards for that to happen. Diasastsis recti occur when linea alba(the strip in the middle of your belly that joins both sides together)is  overstretched and doesn’t join back together. May I quickly state that this condition can also affect men and children especially premature children.

Photo credit: restoreyourcore.com

To preven this condition, Fitness experts recommend that women perfom daily exercises that help to build core strength and pelvic floor muscles both before and during pregnancy. So before you get pregnant hit the gym to build those muscles and never stop until the baby is born, it reduces your chances drastically of having mummy pooch.

What are the risk factors for developing diastasis recti?

Several factors can increase your risk for developing diastasis recti:

• Having multiple pregnancies (especially back-to-back).

• Being over 35 years old.

• Having multiples (such as twins or triplets).

• Having a heavy or big baby.(this might be it for me, when I gave birth to my son he was 4.1kg)

• Being extremely petite.

• Vaginal delivery. Pushing can increase abdominal pressure.

How to Self Diagnose Diasastsis recti

• Lie on your back in a comfortable position. Bend your knees and put your feet flat on the floor.

• Place one hand on the midline of your core with your fingers flat on your midline.

• Place your other hand under your head and neck for support.Lift your head slowly and begin adding pressure through the pads of your fingers. 

• With no diastasis recti, there is the sensation of a toned wall as you lift your direct. If you feel a space, or your fingers sink into your core, you likely have diastasis recti. 

• Repeat the procedure for the areas directly above your belly button down to the pubis to determine whether the diastasis recti is isolated or in your core as a whole

researching for this article, I realised that certain exercises that I have been doing actually have the tendencies to worsen the condition. For people with mild to moderate diasastsis recti, specific exercises can be done to help rectify the condition.  But in severe case, surgery is recommended.

Photo credit: whattoexpect.com

Diastasis Recti Exercises to Avoid

Skip any movement or exercise that places strain on the midline or causes the belly to bulge outward, like sit-ups and planks. I didn’t know this though and these were my favourite workout the last eight weeks

Also avoid heavy lifting, other forbidden exercises include most traditional ab work such as crunches, oblique curls, reverse curls, and roll-ups.

MostTraditional exercises to get a six-pack are not going to give you the benefit you are looking for.

The Best Exercises for Diastasis Recti

pelvic tilts, toe taps, heel slides, single-leg stretches, and bridges with belly scooping. Always keep the belly pulled in, rather than doing any movement that pushes it out (and causes the telltale bulge on the midline).

“Think of your abs as a corset that goes from the hip bones up the ribs, and think of the action that you would do to tighten the corset: Both hands pull towards the center from the sides, like the obliques do.”

It’s also important to know the correct breathing techniques. “To avoid creating a compression in the abdominal cavity, it is fundamental to exhale during moments of effort

If you have been struggling with belly fat that doesn’t care about how many abs workout you do, Dont just rely on my article. Read extensively on this topic, every tool we need is now available on google. Or visit a physical therapist for help.


Happy International women’s day readers. With love and gratitude from Freetown

#iwd2022 #breakthebias #catchthemyoung

WHAT THE YEAR 2021 TAUGHT ME

Happy new year Readers and lovers! I must first of all apologies for not completing my Christmas series. There is something in the air jumbled up with all the festivities going on right now that is making everyone sick. No I didnt have flu like symptoms but I had joints pain all over my body and I ended up doing something I detest. Taking medicine, yes I had to take paracetamol to feel whole again. So that is my “excuse” for not finishing my series. But the second and first day of Christmas was quite boring, it was a combination of cook, church and movies, nothing out of the ordinary happened hence there was no rush to share the big news.

By the end of last year I took time out to reflect on the year, I counted my blessings and lessons and I decided to share some of the lessons I learned this year. Here is a break down of things 2021 taught me.

1: Count Your blessings During Difficult times: There is always something positives in your midst to be grateful for irrespective of how difficult the times are. Therefore it is crucial to train yourself to seek out the good in difficult situations. Name your blessings one by one, you will be amazed at how great life is even in the face of difficulties. In difficult times my biggest positive note is the fact that I am able to create a job for myself in this country with so many unemployed people and that I live all alone with my child and day in day out I could afford to keep the lights on and put food on the table without losing my dignity and Without having to even worry about it. That realisation is the source of hope that fuels my positive outlook for the future.

2: Perfectionism breeds Imposter syndrome. I do not know how to talk about how confident I am without sounding like I’m bragging, but I have done/ still doing some pretty awesome things for myself and that in a way has embolden the trust I have for myself but somehow, my need to be perfect or do everything perfectly finds a way to perforate that Confidence with a drip of self doubt. Sometimes when I get paid for certain Jobs I have done, I begin to consider whether I truly deserve all of it, am I good enough? Am I not defrauding these people? But this, I have come to realise Is my need for perfection showing up

3: I Need my girlfriends, I need friends, real human beings of the same gender who love and look out for me. In February this year, my best friend who lives in USA ordered a whole tray of goodies and a bunch of fresh red roses to surprise me for valentines day. It was so unexpected that I cried. My single self was only thinking about how to sell my valentine’s gift set until I got a call that morning from someone asking for direction to deliver a valentine gift. It was glorious. Another time, my heart warmed up by another friend, was when one of my nursery school mate Who now lives in the Uk contacted me to order souvenirs from me to take to the Uk. Honey souvenirs are available on amazon but she came all the way to Salone to order them simply because they were sold by me. My heart has been touched in the most amazing ways this year and nine out of ten the touch is from a girlfriend.

4: I learned to cut myself some slacks : I realised for the most part of my life I have been living based on the impossible standards that were set for me by family and society and maintaining those standards was exhausting. So this year I put down the yoke of other people’s expectations and started living life on my own terms. Doing things only because I want to and not because it makes me look good in a society that is only looking forward to the next breaking news and you can only imagine the level of peace I enjoy right now

5: Healing is important: I learnt that to be able to move forward as a whole unit and not just some shadow of who I truly am, I have to confront those emotions, the pains, the hurts, the disappointment, I had to be uncomfortable, I had to question things, I had to let it all out. I stopped putting on a show of grace and strength and validated all of my emotions. Oh and by the way healing is messy I learnt, I cried, I got physically weak, I experienced physical pains from my emotions, I had a break down, earlier this year I exploded emotionally on my blog, but after that it got a little better because I felt light, I was no longer carrying the load, I unpacked it and let everything out for the world to see and it became easier to move around.

6:Find peace from within and do everything you can to guard it: I have learned that the world is a difficult place and there are so many sad and unhappy people out there, there are so many people walking around with baggages of unhealed trauma and unintentionally they will rub you off your own peace if you let them. So guard your peace. There are so many seemingly successful people who are empty, so many seemingly happy couples who are unhappy and the worst part there are so many people on social media putting on a show. We all have real life issues, messy stuffs to deal with, therefore do not let people close enough to the space where your peace resides. You don’t know what they are dealing with and they might rub you in on it

A personal example, my partner died in March 2019, and after we buried him, we went to the grave on the sunday after his funeral and I couldnt find the courage after that to visit the grave until earlier this year when I found myself physically and emotionally broken, I had spent the whole night crying, and it wasn’t as If anything bad happened. The emotions just came in a rush out of no where and I let them out. I woke up the next morning and decided to visit his grave, the guys in the cemetery came around to help with cleaning and I shouted at all of them to give me space. A few days later I recalled the incident and I realised that I was wrong to shout at them, they only wanted to help out eventhough they expected payment. But at the time I was overwhelmed, and I reacted based on my emotions. And I must have rub them off the wrong way. But that also made me realise that most times people’s reaction has nothing to do with us, they are fighting battles way bigger than we know and that is where you empathise, avoid, ignore, move far away from unhappy people otherwise you will lose your own joy trying to fight a fight that is not even yours.

7: When You Seek growth, you will find yourself in uncomfortable situations: because growth doesn’t happen in your comfort zone, 2021 was a year of growth to me, I couldn’t think of a single time I asked someone for financial help, eventhough I found my self in need more than I should. I managed all by myself throught it all. It was uncomfortable in so many ways, but at the end of it all I feel absolutely nothing but gratitude for all the times I sat through my discomfort, fully pressent experiencing all of the emotions that came with it and for the growth that sprouted from the experience.

8: It will all come out in a wash- This is a quote I got from my Mother in love, my son’s grandmother. And 2021 solidified it. When people do things behind your back, you have no business trying to dig things up. Whatever it is you need to know, will effortlessly come to you. Don’t waste your energy trying to find out what people are saying or doing behind your back, no matter how long it takes, the things that you must Know, you will know. This year, I got to hear things said about me, behind my back and on both occasions I was sitting here and minding my business. Well, when I found out about them, the same energy applied, It’s all good, I have no strength for it.

9: Healing doesn’t make you perfect” I learnt this year that you will fall, you will make mistakes, you will go back to old ways, you will lose yourself a bit and do things you are not proud of while you are still healing, but the most important thing is to not get stuck. I did something this year I would only want to associate with my old self. This new grown woman cannot believe I did it and in the process of shifting blames and pointing accusing fingers, I asked myself “so where do you leave room for self accountability ” and that was when I realised how much progress I have made, I now have time to self reflect on my actions and figure out where I went wrong and not only stopping there but also apologising for my actions.. Okay here is where I get a pat on the back and an “I am so proud of myself ” line. But nevermind, not today.

10: There are so many dysfunctional people who lack the capacity to love, well that is understandable, but the other aspect is scary, they also lack the capacity to recieve love. I am certain before Ne Yo sang the song “LET ME LOVE YOU UNTIL YOU LEARN TO LOVE YOURSELF” he came in contact with one of them. Some people cannot even begin to fathom the concept of love. But that’s ok. It is not your responsibility to make anybody whole. You are not responsible for the decisions of other people, People have a choice to heal or not, to love or not, to educate themselves or not, you can only help them where they ask for help. Because here is one more bonus point, people know what they think is best for them, you cannot tell them otherwise

11: Our Parents are getting old but resist the urge to “parent” them”. This year I realised that my father spent years complaining about my being stubborn because that is his most dominant character trait. The man is the most stubborn person I know and I resisted the urge to tell him that. With my mom, I realised that you cannot change the ways of a fifty five years old woman, that old way is her comfort zone, and if she is not seeking growth, you have to accept her for who she is and move on. Everyone is at peace in the end

12:Some people are once in a life time kind of people: In my earlier years, I came across the phrase, “once in a lifetime people” and I was blessed enough to meet one of them. It is both a blessing and curse, because now I have experienced this awesomeness in a person and it seems like I may be doomed to experience mediocrity for a long time. I am now cursed with the burden of living with the loss of my Son’s father for the rest of my beautiful life. And even as I wish different, I know that there will never be another like him. When you meet people like this, hold them, love them, cherish them. You don’t want that regret for the rest of your life

Anyway I have tried to sum up the most important lessons this year. I hope you pickup a thing or two. Thank you for reading, I wish you love and lots more nicer things for 2022 and beyond. Oh I have no new year’s resolution.

Yours truly Juliana Sesay

ON THE THIRD DAY OF CHRISTMAS.

To be honest I should be on the second day of Christmas but I must have choosen being busy over writing. So even though tomorrow is Christmas I am still here on the third day before Christmas. The Third day of Christmas went by with no highlight. I had a few clients who had informed me that my payment was ready for pick up and even though my first thoughts were to wait until after Christmas to collect payment, the fullah musu in me couldn’t find peace until my money was in my hand. I was notorious in my household as a child for being Money savvy and quite recently my late partner’s mum made mention of that as an observation. Some things don’t change and the value for money is one of them.

Anyway I spent the evening outside, with my mask on (all the time). After the first general covid anxiety the whole world endured, this is the first time I am giving Covid the seriousness it deserves. So last night a comedian acquaintance of mine had a festive night of laughter and I had to patronize. It was a good show albeit it started rather late which must have been Due to “BLACK MAN TIME” but the whole show was well organized and here are a few take ways.

Take away number one: I have done a disservice to my country people and I have failed to tell you about all the wonderful things young men and woman are doing for themselves. This country is full of talented young people who are breaking boundaries and making marks in their little corners and I was so proud last night. It was a pool of talents, talented singers, talented saxophonist, talented hosts and talented comedians. All of them young sierra Leoneans who are not school dropouts, some of them have BScs, others diplomas, some are business owners, some are working professionals and are still out there exploring entertainment as an options in a country where it seemed like there is no way out. Kudos to them.

Take away number two: The absence of female comedians. I have always been fascinated by comedy. I believe people with good sense of humour are intelligent. The art of making other people laugh is brilliant and we had a good laugh last night. But I couldn’t help but notice the complete absence of female comedians. Of all the sixteen comedians who performed last night, not one of them was a woman? Why is that? Well, I may need to start looking for answers within the industry. Even as I think of it now I am not aware of a single female comedian in Sierra Leone. I don’t believe that this field must be left to men alone. I understand that our society is different but we are not so different from Nigeria that produced the likes of Hellen Paul or Uganda that gave us the likes of Ann Kansiime. Something needs to change and it needs to change fast.

Take Away Number three: Covid is still a foreign thing to Sierra Leoneans. There were about three to four hundred people in that hall and only two of us had our masks on. Covid regulations were not enforced and everyone was up and about in their mask less state. No one was checking temperatures, there was no hand sanitiser or hand washing facility. Siting distances were not observed. Nothing at all. It was free for all.

Finally Men still think that every woman out there will want them as long as they are driving a car and this is all I have to say about this… I wish you all a beautiful Christmas eve.

ON THE FOURTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

Hiya! I couldn’t post anything yesterday and and busy was a valid reason, it was not an excuse not to write. As I type now I have three unfinished jobs and in my personal timeline, Christmas eve was not a working day. I am becoming the bosses I didnt like. Bosses who insisted that work is done before we leave the office🧐. Anyway On this fourth day of Christmas I spent most of the day in town shopping for nothing perosnal. I forgot why I hated going out around Christmas. The crowds! The traffic! Just the pushing and shoving here and there. I wasn’t cut out for that, I have told you all before that I was made for the soft life

So here are the highlights of it all. I threatened to beat up a wheelbarrow pusher. Remember when I told you that Balogun market reminded me of PZ, well I actually meant Abacha street market. It is always full and imagine it now during the christmas rush. So Apparently the guy felt like he could just push his wheelbarrow in every direction because it was Christmas rush, irrespective of wether someone was infront of him or not. I simply turned around and told him that if his wheel barrow touched me one more time I will slap him. And no he was not a little boy. He was a full grown man. He must have been shocked his only response was ” well you slap me normor now” that is “please do it now”.

Okay I know at least one friend who will be laughing her heart out at this and here is why. When were in University together, after classes we will go to the spot where they sell second hand clothing, what we refer to as junks, parading the whole area hoping to find something to wear for the next class, that was our life then and I will threaten to beat up anyone who touched or pushed us. I threatened bike riders, junks sellers, taxi drivers, even shoppers like us, just anyone who did anything odd and whenever I got the angry or violent response I simply switch to sign language, telling them that they were out of their minds with signs and we would laugh all the way home. I was a troublesome girl and proudly so. My friend used to tell me that one day somebody will surely beat me for it. But it was definitely not on this fourth day of Christmas

The second highlight of the day for me was the sellers notifying buyers about the thieves in our midst. I actually laughed at that one. Normally they will call the attention of customers to whatever they were selling, but that wasn’t the case on this day. They held out their wares in thier hands while shouting “lef for korlay, ol you bag fine” or somthing like “norto una all kam buy o, na una all kalilu dae na d crown” in both cases warning buyers to hold on to their belongings properly as there were thieves in our midst.

This reminded me of my late Aunty who died this year. One day I was on holidays at my other Aunty’s house(my mum’s eldest sister Aunty Pede) and Aunty simonette (who died this year) came in from the market telling us about her holiday rush Adventure. It must have been some Muslim holiday. She said this boy was behind her all through out the market, when she stopped, he’d stop, but he has not bought anything and she had noticed that. At some point she decided to turn around and ask him what it was he was looking for, the boy said he came to shop and she ask him to produce his money and the boy couldn’t respond. She grabbed him and said if you don’t show me the money you came to this market with to shop I am handing you over to the police and the boy immediately started begging. Apparently he was there to steal and not shop.

That is the disadvantage of doing last minute shopping here, the larger the crowds, the happier the thieves. But I promise you I got home wih all my belongings and in one piece. So this is christmas on the fourth day. I shall surely bring you the third day of Christmas later in the day.. thank you for reading with love all the way from Freetown

ON THE FIFTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

On the fifth day of christmas, most of my time was spent home wrapping gift boxes for a customer. This is a very busy period for my business but we are grateful for the busy days. But you know, no matter how busy you are your thoughts gets even busier reminding you of things that truly matter. I have been thinking a lot about people I love but no longer here with us this Christmas. This year I lost very close people to the cold hands of death.

Our family lost its matriach, my mum’s elder sister, and the mantle of leadership fell on her. She now becomes the head of the family and had to make some shifts. Two months before the death of my aunt we lost one of my cousins who was only fourty seven years old, the family was still trying to deal with that loss before we were hit with the biggest one of them all. Each time death strikes I am left in a complete state of bewilderment, a state where there are only questions but no answers, a state that pushes you towards an endless search of the true meaning of life, if we all were going to die somebday, then why are we here in the first place and that “why” has been interpreted in so many ways but no one knows the answer for sure. My Aunt was a beautiful woman and in her sixty two years she has seen more than a few troubles and we would have hoped that she lived longer to enjoy life but ah life has it’s ways. May their souls rest in perfect peace

In April this year, I also lost a very close friend who I met in youth fellowship some sixteen years ago. She was only thirty five years old when the cold hands of death snatched her from us. She was the happiest girl you will ever meet, she was always laughing, she always had something funny to say, she was quite sarcastic. In her short time that she walked on earth, she touched the hearts of so many people but in her last year on earth she suffered through some mysterious illness and I couldnt help but wonder what is this life anyway… why are we here. She was at her prime, never been married and has no child why was she put on earth then? She was survived by both parents, a dad who was over seventy years old and a mum in her sixties. May her beautiful soul rest in peace.

To the best father that never was, the father of my child, the one who became a guardian angel before he became a dad, I truly hope that you are somewhere in heaven flourishing, reaping all the good sown here on earth, you deserve it. You were our  father Christmas. The last few months I have had to be involved in things that constantly reminded me of how easy he made life while he was here. The other day I told his mum that we never really knew how much kembe was doing until now when we have to go through the hassle of planning, organising and coordinating everything. He just gets things done and informed us. Now we are involved, we realise the effort that was put into things, things that seemed like they coul be done with the snap of a finger. He was an amazing human being not just because of how kind he was to me, but also because of how amazing he was to everyone else. May his gentle soul continue to rest in perfect peace.

Day in and day out we hear about the deaths of people we know, and in the last two weeks I have seen four young men die, young promising leaders. Why? We all look forward to the end of the year and start of another with so much hope, but not all of us who started it are still here and not all will crossover. This Christmas and the entire festive period my thoughts are with families who mourn, Christmas without the people we love is tough but i do hope that the spirit of Christmas carry away some of these burden. We will all die someday it is only a matter of tine and that is why I try to live and not just exist.

To all of my readers who might have lost someone this year, I see you, I hear you, I mourn with you. This too shall pass. So this is Christmas on the fifth day. Thank you for your time. As always I wish you love and even more nicer things all the way from Freetown

ON THE SIXTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

On this Sixth day of christmas, I recieved a whole slaughtered pig from my animal farm. I’d like to tell you all about my little adventure into animal rearing. Here is a little history, In 2020 during the covid lockdown my business was badly affected, and like every other hustler, ways to to create new sources of income was all I could think of. As soon as the travel ban between districts was lifted in July, I travelled to my mother’s maternal Village, behind Rotifunk. My maternal grandmother Mamie Marie was a Loko woman from Mokabe village, a very small passerby village in Moyamba district. His father, my great grandfather Pa Momoh Sanka was a master farmer. He owned very large farmlands in various parts of Moyamba districts. He was into Rice and palm oil farming. My mother would fondly remeber him as someone who was quite conscious of his looks and put a little extra effort into it. Anyway after he died, These lands were managed by my mother’s cousin Brima, who died about eight or nine years ago leaving his children in charge. All but one have abandoned these farms in search of greener pastures. My Cousin Mimi who is in her early twenties, now married to one of the local villagers with four children toil on these lands but there is so much she can do in between pregnancy and motherhood and wifing. So as expected things have deteriorated into almost nothing.

Cross Moban River From the village

When I visisted in July, I had no idea how bad things were and I also had no idea what I wanted to do but I visited anyway and I was quite disappointed. Some of the lands have been encroached upon. Infact one of the swamp lands which could produce thousands and thousands of bushel of rice is now in the hands of a certain woman who demands a ransom in order to hand over back to the family. It was a lot but when I got back I decided to venture into Animal rearing. I was scared, as I should be considering the way things were, So I decided to start small, I sent them money to buy a few chickens, a pair of piglets, a pair of goats and a sheep. I sent some money for fence to keep the animal within the compound, I sent some money for various requests. Anyway I knew investment in the beginning involves lots of spending and I was determined to ensure that we were headed in the right direction. But that might have given them the wrong impression, the fact that I sent money for everything they needed for the business gave them an idea that I might be some sort of bank. It didn’t even take a month for the personal requests to start coming in.

Locals swimming in the Maban river, Northern Sierra Leone

This child was sick, the mother was broke, husband’s brother had died and so on and so forth. I felt furious, they were aware that I was a single parent, I told them about the current financial struggles of my business which led me to venture into this business and still they felt that I have to take up their personal responsibilities. When people said do not get family involved in your business, I got to understand. Anyway I turned down the various request and told them that I cannot handle it, I encouraged them to put more effort into the business because whatever profit that comes from it we will share equally. But from that moment on I was no longer hopeful. Few months down the line I made a surprise visit to the village and just as I thought, the fence I had sent money for, had not been erected, the sheep had not been bought, the animals were treated like domestic animals, left to fend for themselves all around the village and when I got there they had to send out a search party to get them all together. And before I left they told me to buy a bag of garrie because that is the only food my animals eat. I have some pretty bouje animals you know, while their mates eats cassava peels, they eat the garrie processed from the cassava.

My cousin in one of the farmlands

I left that day with the awareness that this was a lost cause. I made up my mind to grieve the loss of my money that was put into it and I went silent on them. They never called, well even before that when they wanted to speak to me most of the time i get to recieve a spree of flash calls until I finally return the call. So when I decided to go silent I never returned any of the flash calls, I decided that if someone truly wanted to talk they will call a real phone call and that was the end of it. No one ever called. Earlier this year, I sent my cousin to check up on things and guess what he reported, they told him, that goat sick took over the village and killed all of my goats, a dog slept with my pig and she died. And almost all of my chickens were captured by hawks. I thanked them for the good reports and I moved on. Last month they contacted my cousin to tell me to collect the other pig that didn’t die because he was now too big and was causing problems for them. And that was how I got to recieve a sixteen kilo slaughtered pork on the sixth day of christmas. Pork was sold out on the same day it arrived. You should have seen me in my butcher woman state.

Slaughtered pig

I am so proud of how I hard I work when it involves money. Because truly that is how it should be for all. So this is christmas on the sixth day. I hope you enjoyed my little family history and business adventure. Thank you for reading. With love all the way from Freetown

ON THE SEVENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

On the seventh day of Christmas being a Sunday, I thought I would spend my time reading the auditor general’s report. Where do I begin? So many things have happened since I last updated you all on the issues in my country. I will get to that in subsequent articles but just know that a report was finally published but it was not by the suspended auditor general. The report, as it has been rumoured is quite damning but journalists who had seen the real report say this one we consider so terrible was actually doctored in favour of some powerful men and women. But I couldn’t read it today because I had unfinished work to do.

Lyos Scented candles customised for a wedding

And as I think about this, I have noticed that each time I write about the things going wrong in my country wether in my blog or on my whatsapp status, I sense the silent animosity that comes from supposed friends and acquaintances. Before the silence, there were people who used to tell me to “forget about politics and focus on your business ” Speaking about everyday issues that affect each and every one of is now termed politics. But unfortunately it is not in my nature to be silent about things that matter. So while I understand that sometimes their advise comes from a good place, my response to them has always been the same. I am not in business for people who will consider whether my opinions on issues affecting my country benefits their pocket or not. I am in business for people in search of Unique gifts and sounveirs, in business for people who wants to support local producers, for people who believe that our local produce dont always have to be sold in their raw state, People who believe in the quality of what we are doing here, what we produce here. I do not grovel to anyone, my help comes from above. And for as long as the one I serve sits on the throne; I will thrive, I will thrive anyhow.

Lyoa Honey customised for a 70th birthday souvenir

So on this seventh day of Christmas a considerable length of time was spent finishing up souvenirs I was working on for a wedding. If you don’t know this already, I make the most beautiful sounveirs from local produce and product for all types of events. I make scented candles from local beeswax, and customise them, I customise mini jars of local honey, and recently I have added, local black soap, locally produced whiskey and hot sauces to the list. Wrting everyday in this busy business period has been quite satisfying to me. Satisfying, because I have always used being busy as an excuse not to write. To be quite honest it is not just about writing, it is about making the time to go through what has already been written, editing it and finally publishing it. When I get rich I will outsource that to someone else. For now I make use of an annoying friend who has the weirdest opinion (rolling my eyes as I type this) and that helps me fill in the weak spot in my articles.

Lyoa honey… yup this is the class we help you share to your guests at your events

First set of souvenirs was finally completed after 3 pm, I decided after that to leave the rest for the following day. What no one tells you about being self employed is that you get to work way harder than you do as an employee. Sometimes work long hours, sometimes there are no weekends and day off but sometimes there are not jobs at all and that means no income. To be able to survive in business you need the mind of an hustler, if you dream of a sheltered life please stay in your work place while you continue to search for a better job. I love adventures, so I believe I was cut out of this. But even after finishing up with these souvenirs I couldn’t find it in me to still read the report hence I switched on my laptop and started watching THE WITCHER on Netflix. For food I ate what was left of the foofoo and obiata I made on Saturday. My son who seemed quite aversed to foofoo ate couscous and obiata(lord please don’t let his grandma read this article)

My Foo foo and obiata from Saturday

Don’t judge me, I had plans to cook something nice for sunday but I experienced a terrible back pain after I finished working, like I told you in one of my articles I am getting old. My old back needs lots of pampering and rest. We went out to a spot at St John for dinner because that boy needed the fresh air. Deciding on what to eat can be hectic but preparing it takes everything out of you, I do not believe that the food no matter how delicious it turned out to be is worth all of that energy. So when I get rich, cooking is something I will outsource. That makes two things to get rich for.

So this is Christmas on the seventh day, If you make it to this point, thank you for reading, as always I wish you love and even better things all the way from Sierra Leone

ON THE EIGHTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

On the eighth day of Christmas I was brutally reminded of how crude our police force can be. What is it about human beings in uniform and the need to exhibit their power? I said human beings because I know this is not only restricted to the Sierra Leone or even african police force. Did I ever mention that we were almost arrested infront of the lagos state house of Assembly?No? how did I miss that? Will come back to that shortly. Traffic police in salone are a menace and both drivers and passengers can attest to this. They broke traffic rules more than anyone else and most times they do it under the guise of enforcing the law. But we all know that is not the case. Don’t get me wrong drivers can be lawless especially these motorbike and tricycle riders. But we have lived long enough for the police to have thought of creative ways to get them under control. But I have come to learn that when a crime goes on for too long without any sign of it being curbed down then there are likelihoods that the police benefits from it.

The calm before the storm at Lagos state house of Assembly

In the morning hours, a certain traffic police chased a bike rider who was riding in an area he wasn’t supposed to ride until he fell and broke his two feet. So much for law enforcement. Later in the day, another traffice police decided to chase a driver because in her words “I asked her to stop and she didn’t “. The driver on the other hand whether she was lying or not claimed she didnt see her gesture. So that was a reason for her to abandon her post, jumped on the back of a commercial motorbike rider and ordered him to chase the car. And I am ashamed to tell you all that they were both women (the traffic police and the driver of the car). The bike intersected the car right infront of me and I stood there in amazement as both women performed for the audience. While I do not support people disrespecting police I simply couldn’t fathom why the officers of the law all over the world couldn’t be less aggressive especially when dealing with people who have shown no signs of aggression. Can they just find a way to report these cases to SLRSA for further actions? I used to own a taxi for commercial purpose(long story for another) but once we went to renew the licences and we were told we had to pay for three tickets which was an indication that the driver(or drivers)have broken traffic rules thrice. That may have been a less confrontational, less aggressive ad less troublesome route for the police to take but instead she insisted that she was going to arrest the lady and take her to the station and all of us wondered how that was going to happen? A decision for the gods.

The pose that almost got us in a police cell

Now to my lagos police incident. Guess what our crime was? That my friend was posing in a way that they(the police who infact was sleeping on duty and his other colleagues) were not happy with. I would have understood completely if they had said we should have asked for permission before taking photos, but no that wasn’t the issue, it was the way we posed that bothered them. This policeman Jolted from sleep and saw my friend taking pictures and the next thing we know he was ordering us to handover the phone. I couldn’t even get angry. I honestly wanted to laugh when he started copying the way my friend was posing. The audacity of that girl to pose infront of such sacred space could have ended us up in a police cell. And the funniest part of the whole saga was the police trying to copy the pose while asking questions. “How can you be posing like this infront of this place?” With the permission of my friend I will be sharing some of the photos. This was the day I finally concluded that salone police and Naija police are twin brothers

The moment the police shouted “handover that phone now”🤣

Earlier this week I saw a man in handcuffs shouting ” American embassy will hear about this”. If you laughed at that I wouldn’t judge you, I did too. Apparently he is a dual citizen of both Salone and USA and he was here on holiday. I assumed he might have been a little too forward for the liking of our police and they had to break him down by showing him who runs these street. This man may have left America with the hope that he had left police brutality behind and here he was in handcuffs by his own black brothers. And at that moment it dawned on him that there was “No where to run and no place to hide” for the black man. The rest of us who didn’t want such embarrassment simply just followed the directives of the police. The entire business district was blocked and even those of us who lived within had to look for longer routes because complaining or standing up against such injustice might have seen us in handcuff. This is Sierra Leone as we say it in krio “na ya so na salone” take it or leave it.

Maybe someday we will do better but on the eighth day of Christmas this is how things stands and we can only hope for better. My father, each time he was frustrated about something, would say don’t waste your time praying for this country, even God is tired with us, let us all wait for Jesus to come and make it right. And I would laugh heartily. I am getting back to my work, the one that pays the bills but before then thank you for reading. As always I wish you love and even better things

Yours truly

ON THE NINTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love sent to me a note which reads “Juliana you are getting old” This december I would like to think that in more ways than One I have been reminded of how old I am becoming no matter how young I feel. Unlike most people who only need a back and Knee pain to be reminded of age, my own old age also comes with perfectionism. I am becoming more of a perfectionist and it is slowing down my work process. The previous years I was able to take up two to three jobs all at the same time but this year I have been a little slower responding and delivering customers orders because I need one order to be perfectly done before moving on to the next. If this continues I pity my son already because I know first hand what it means to be with a perfectionists. Oh lord help this boy.

Photo source: Jose Antonio Galego – Unsplash.com

As I consider this, I wish to put all of the blame on my mental state. In recent weeks, unexpected and unplanned events have reminded me of my anxiety. It is a possiblity that it is slowly creeping into my work. The need to do a perfect job for one person in order to attract potential customers. To save myself from the anxious state of mind after delivery where I wait to get a review, I simply just worry about doing a perfect job and that is the problem, instead of actually doing the job; I worry about doing it perfectly. From a personal perspective, most of our selfworth comes from personal achievements and me doing a perfect job means personal satisfaction. It also means a definite source of income because quality attracts people. Confession; I have anxiety about losing my source of income because I hate to be in a position to ask for help or beg anyone for the things I need. I blame my father for that though because even though he gave me most of the things I needed that he could afford he always made sure to remind me to work hard and be independent not to rely on anyone for anything.

Photo source: Joyce Kelly unsplash.com

On a second thought, it may just be a reminder that I have been spending too much time resting and that I need to take up exercise seriously. Resting is good, it is infact the first step to caring for our mental health but so is exercise and if I put both activities on a scale on my behalf it will not be balanced at all. Who remembers their new year’s resolutions for 2021? I do, and being phyically active was one of them. But it turns out that it was just another good intention that was merely left unattended to. Aren’t that what all new year’s resolutions are about?. I hope not. I hope it is only me who never acts on my new year’s resolution. Thinking about it now, human beings have the tendency to believe that we can control everything, but life has a way of proving us wrong and effortlessly so. We are all getting geared up again to express more good intentions for the next year that we will never act upon.

Photo source: Sven Mieke – unsplash.com

But on this Ninth day of Christmas, the reminder from my true love is not all there was to ginger me up to start exercising. When I woke up in the morning, one of the first post on my facebook newsfeed was the death of a young husband and father of two and almost towards the end of the day at 4pm there was another news of the demise of another husband and father of three and I am saddened by this news, the latter, I was together with in a circuit youth fellowship and it is just too shocking and sad. Barely a week ago I was told of the death of another young man I worked with during my volunteer days, who recently got married to his high school sweetheart and that was even more devastating because he was much younger and I can only wonder how the women(both mothers and wives) left behind in all of these cases are faring on. I have been there before and I send them nothing but good energy from the universe to them. I know I know, even if I choose to exercise everyday I will still die but being active will eliminate the chances of dying from obesity. It’s about time I start looking out for my physical health again. Only this time it will not be a new year’s resolution.

Lyoa beeswax candles

Some of these unexpected deaths make me wonder about Covid 19 and the way we deal with it so lightly in our community, are we certain that we are not as affected by Covid as we think we are? Are we certain that there is not a silent community transmission on going and taking the lives of our young men. It may be just be a thought but as I have been reminded of how old I am, I think I also need to treat Covid regulations quite seriously. Because old people like us are more susceptible to the virus. So this is christmas on the ninth day and I hope you enjoy reading my random musings. As always, I wish you nothing but the finest things including love and many more

Yours truly

ON THE TENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love sent to me a flyer to the Logos Hope floating book fair. And I set out on the journey with my two year old and his Nanny. The ship has been open to the public in Freetown since November 16th 2021 and I felt pressured to visit before it’s return date of 16th December. Can I claim to be a writer if I don’t attend bookfairs and buy books to read? MV Logos Hope is a ship operated as a part of a christian outreach movement by Gute Bücher für Alle. She was built in 1973 as the ferry MV Gustav Vasa for ferry service between Sweden and Germany and later operated as the MV Norröna providing a ferry service to the Faroe Islands. After buying her in 2004 much work was done to convert her from a vehicle and passenger ferry into the ship needed for this organisation. GBA Ships seeks to promote good education and international understanding through its floating Book fair and Cultural exchange programmes.
But the ship is not just about books, it´s also a vibrant community of volunteers from different nations. It has a Length of 132.5 m (434 ft 9 in) and a Beam of 21.06 m (69 ft 1 in) and a Capacity of 442 passengers which was cut down due to covid restrictions.

Logos Hope berthed at the queen Elizabeth 11 quay Freetown

The journey to and from the ship, which was berthed at the queen Elizabeth 11 quay at cline town east of Freetown was one hell of a journey. Just outside of my gate I was welcomed by a slow moving traffic of vehicles and pedestrians. I later found out that Former presidential aspirant had a court date and the police in their wisdom decided that the area around the law court which is also the central business district must be blocked from vehicle and pedestrian. To think that my true love decided to give me a day of walking after hearing me lament about how I have gained weight and my need to join the gym, Awwww. We had walked from home to PZ before we eventually got a vehicle to take us to our destination. The compound was jam packed with people who like myself waited till last minute. As I waited in line to enter the ship I was reminded of two incidents.

Pedestrian walking to their various destinations along Siaka Stevens street

The first one was the last stop the ship made to Freetown in 2010. I visited the ship together with my close friend Khadija Alghali who died the following year 2011. When we went in 2010, we met a similar long queue (we have to find a way to change this spelling by the way) of people and she was always in a hurry. she turned to me and said “Juliana there is no way I can join this long line, follow me”. I followed her to the front of the line and listened to her explain to the man infront about how we were in the ship but we came outside to do something and we needed to get back in, we don’t mind paying back to get in but we just can’t join the line since we were already in. We made payments and entered the shop before all of the people we met in line. And even as I type this now I am smiling. The good thing about missing people you love who are dead is that if they lived well no matter how short it was they leave you fond memories to smile or laugh when you think about them apart from the pain of missing them.

My son at the welcome station in the Logos hope ship exhausted from waiting in line

The second incident that came to mind had to the with Covid 19. I thought about the people who were in Diamond Princess cruise ship, having a time of their life cruising the world and got trapped in it due to the pandemic. Seven hundred and twelve of them got infected with the virus and thirteen of them ended up dead. What if we entered this ship and some unexpected incident occur? Traumatic right? I know. Well this was my trauma mind in action. Covid is something, after it is completely over, we may take years to heal from. The positive side of it though is that I will be trapped in with my son and that put me a little bit at ease. We entered the ship to a warm welcome by an Albanian volunteer of the ship. Lest I forget, Something interesting caught my eye immediately we entered the ship even before the welcome, most of the ladies in front of me were already taking selfies or doing IG front videos. Lol living for the gram, I won’t be surprised if those people didnt buy books at all.

Choosing children books on logos hope

Anyway In display, were children books, cook books, Christian family books, books of personal development and even eduational literatures in various subjects like mathematics, geography, music and so on and so forth. There were also other items like pens, pencil, erasers, puzzles, handbags, keyholders, mugs, caps and t shirts all available for sale at reasonable prices compared to the actual retail prices of these items. Eventhough I couldn’t find a book that fancy my eye, I bought my self a note book and pen and I bought various children literature for my son. There is also a pass by canteen where we bought food, drinks, popcorn and icecram before we eventually left the ship. The entire trip including cost of books, food and transportation totalled four hundred and sixty thousand leones which is about $45. Not bad at all for the experience especially for my son.

I do not understand the fascination with Dinosaurs but that was the book he chose

The return Journey was similarly hectic, more and more traffic and some more walking to get home but it was worth it. So this is Christmas on the tenth day. The last time I told you that I was going to think about all of the good things happening in salone and get back to you because the negativity was getting to me too. Here is one of them. Thank you for reading. With love and even more pleasant things all the way from Freetown

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