On the 24th August , I celebrated my birthday following the COVID-19 prescribed health and safety guidelines. I had a hearty meal and spent some quality time with a few members of my family among them my grandchild aged almost one and half years. It turned out to be my perfect gift for the day. I closed my eyes briefly to say a silent prayer of thanksgiving to God, the giver of all the perfect gifts in our lives. The emotional nourishment that I received will fill my tank for months! I had that satisfying feeling that I was loved, treasured, appreciated and respected. I relaxed and basked in their applause.
In my country, Uganda , the statistics from the Uganda Bureau of Statistics indicate that the life expectancy of a woman was 55.35 in 2008 and rose to 65.17 in 2018 while that of the man was 54.98 and 60.66 respectively.
According to Statista.com , in Botswana it was 58.97 for women in 2008 and 54.42 in men. Then in 2018 it had increased to 72.5 in women and 66.2 in men.
From the www.ons.gov.uk the life expectancy in UK was 82.9 in women and 79.3 in men in 2018.
In all counties of the world, women live longer than men by 4.5 years. Among the explanations given by researchers for this gap is that the female hormone : Oestrogen lowers the Bad cholesterol – LDL while increasing the good cholesterol – HDL thus reducing the risks of chronic heart disease in women until ten years after menopause when they catch up with men .
By Uganda standards I qualify to be a senior citizen though I cannot collect the Allowance for the Elderly until after celebrating my 80th birthday! Surprisingly the minimum age of retirement for formal employment in Uganda is 55 . The judges of the high court do not retire until they clock 70 years of age.
Each birthday that I celebrate, I thank God for the gift of time and the power to go on, my parents as my mentors, my family and lifetime friends. I thank him for all that I have lived through and learned, the gifts and achievements and the wisdom I have acquired with the experiences. I thank God also for the tough times which challenged me and turned me into a resilient woman and for my small contribution towards making the world a better place.
Thankfully, I was an athlete during my school days, I have never smoked, I exercise daily for a minimum of thirty minutes, I enjoy my glass of red wine and healthy diet of plenty of fruits and vegetables, cereals, low-fat dairy products and more fish and chicken.
In the last fifteen years, I have suffered losses of loved ones; mourned for a season and moved on. I would call myself an optimistic person who sees the glass half -full. I strive to find a gem in each experience. I now know myself drastically well: I thrive best when connected to family and friends . I have a troop of loyal friends. Disorder and chaos derail my thinking, creativity and productivity.
I never forget my responsibility to give back to the community I live in just as my parents taught me. I call myself a staunch Christian woman. I continue to live with a positive attitude and to live in gratitude while looking for beauty in every one and in everything. I accepted my flaws and strengths many years back and love who I have become. I am sure I now represent the deeper core attributes of survival and resilience so when I create works, they come from the depth of my soul and express whom I am at that moment in time.
For over a week, I have given myself time to reflect on my life and to read more about aging with grace and dignity.
By the time I celebrated my 45th birthday, I was a wife, a mother of three energetic and curious children , a full time medical doctor and a volunteer at the Francistown SOS Village in Botswana. I had proved to myself and others that I had the capacity and ability to wear several hats and to deliver as demanded of me. Then one day it dawned on me that I had lived half of my life. It forced me to step back and take stock of my life honestly.
I asked myself a number of questions but 4 in particular needed urgent answers.
. Was my life all about being a good wife, a good mother and an exemplary doctor?
. Was there anything important missing in my life?
. Would I still be contented and satisfied when my children left for university and I had become an empty nest?
. Should not I start thinking of finding another way of being a winner in future?
Over the following months, my spiritual well-being suddenly became more important to me and I was able to answer those questions honestly. I needed to allow myself to be myself and let myself have what I truly wanted. Yes, I could create myself a new identity and have new big dreams. I had nurtured others for all those years, I needed to make a conscious effort to nurture myself and once again do something that could challenge me and joyfully keep me awake at night because I wanted it badly. I just had to look from within myself.
I had been an avid reader of books since the age of six and at that moment in time, I felt that I had read enough books to write my own. The demands of motherhood and the medical career had repressed my creative side.The reflection pushed me into making the decision to create space for myself to write.
Three years later, I was involved in a nearly –fatal accident, I broke three bones in the neck. After some weeks of neck traction and two open operations on the neck , I was up and about. I survived by God’s grace and because Botswana had an excellent health care system , I had the love and support of my family and friends and I was strong and fit. The road traffic accident made me confront my mortality and directly pushed me to find out who I really was – my core values, what I held sacred and what put spirit into my life.
After acquiring the virtue of authenticity, I started on my spiritual and creative journey. I invested more in my creative writing by attending training workshops, webinars, joined Online writing cartels and opened myself to new experiences of entering creative writing competitions. I was determined to become a remarkable writer through continued writing practice and reading.
Since October 2016 , I have been running a personal blog: https://www.apagefrommunakusbook834350529.blog, to hone my writing skills while at the same time sharing my skills, knowledge, talents , gifts and wealth of experience to influences the readers positively. It has given me a complete new sense of self-worth and importance.
Someone somewhere once said: “ The hunt is never over until both your heart and belly are full.”
I cannot describe the satisfying feeling I get when I read my short stories in the Africa Book Club Anthology, Kalahari Literary Review Magazine, Yours 2 Read Platform and Two Drops of Ink, a platform for collaborative writing. My two fiction novels: The Last Lifeline and When The Lights came On are available on Amazon.com.
I consistently post a new article on my blog every ten days, beating this deadline keeps me joyfully awake at night. I approach this challenge with same youthful enthusiasm that sailed me through the medical school. It leaves me with no doubt that I am on the right path of finding more purpose and meaning in the last part of my life.
Maya Angelou rightly said: “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
I know it very well that to give birth to something new, you have to let go of something in you. It allows you to open yourself up to new possibilities and new growth.
My biggest challenge has been: giving away a part of the medical career for my creativity. I am well aware that if I just keep on adding, things may get complicated for me. I am yet to throw myself into it to lead a fulfilling and effective life of a writer.
It is a long process but I have not done badly as a part- time writer. I trust myself and believe that a combination of my love, passion for the written word and my inherent enthusiasm, courage and discipline, will get me on top of my new career. Thanks to the Internet and the ever increasing technology innovations, for making writing a lot easier. I research all my topics, write them out and share them globally without leaving my desk!
After reinventing myself as a writer, I feel more relaxed, fun-loving, joyful and adventurous. I feel that I have made the time after 50 my own.
24/08/2020- Mature Beauty
While researching material for this post, I read a lot about what the psychologists say about aging gracefully and with dignity. Worldwide, we are all living longer than the majority of people in the last century.
Immunisation against the common childhood diseases like measles , access to effective health care services and good nutrition, our increased understanding of our environment , the availability of antibiotics and essential drugs like insulin, advances in science and technology and medicine, have combined to increase our life expectancy. However, at the same time new challenges keep cropping up like emerging new diseases like HIV/AIDS, Ebola, SARS and now COVID-19, food insecurity, environmental degradation and climate change.
The psychologists have continued to study the behavior and responses of human function in different populations and have come out with guidelines to help us live meaningful; creative and productive lives after clocking 50.
By sheer coincidence, right here on my desk is a copy of the UK Sunday Mirror Magazine with a radiant and confident woman of 60 advertising spectacles for Specsavers with the slogan : Life begins at 60. So does a 25% discount at Specsavers.
In the 90s the slogan was : Life begins at 40. This goes to show that we are staying alive for so long.
As many people are now living into their nineties, Adulthood is considered to run in two phases:
1st Adulthood and 2nd Adulthood.
TO BE CONTINUED IN THE NEXT POST.
Meanwhile strive to stay safe and keep healthy. Your health is your responsibility.