Uganda Bogging Community 21 Days Challenge

Day 7: Best Relationship Advice

Day 7: Best Relationship Advice

I have been around for a while so I have experiences of my own,I have observed others and I know. All in all, experience is the best teacher but still the wisest among us learn from others’ mistakes. Life is essentially about relationships and the  choices we make which themselves have consequences. You have a relationship with your God, yourself, your spouse, your family, your friends and other people around you.

Man is a social animal, naturally seeking companionship of others as part of his well being. He goes about life looking for acceptance, affirmation, approval and acknowledgement. It gives us a sense of belonging.

 It takes two to tango but no two relationships are the same because each individual brings something to the relationship and contributes to its joy or misery.  It takes a lifetime to grow a rewarding, satisfying and lasting relationship. There is a very old song  : Take Time to Know Her – it’s not an overnight thing. It takes a lot of work , commitment , dedication  and sometimes some sacrifice.

What I am writing here is the best advice that I would give to my son and daughter- in –law  or my daughter and son-in-law or  any of my friends ‘children and their spouses. I would give it gladly with the intention of helping them create healthy relationship that will grow every day to enrich the two people in it.

From my own experiences, my observations of others and from what I have come to know for sure, these are the four main ingredients of a healthy,loving relationship:

  1. LOVE–  True love is the foundation of any robust relationship.

With love everything is possible because love covers everything. This love starts from each individual loving, accepting and respecting herself /himself for who he/she is- strengths and weakness, the good, the bad and ugly. Filled with such love then you can go out confidently and love your partner for who he /she is not for what you want her/him to be.

I wasted a lot of time trying to change my husband only to find out later that the only person I could change was myself. You love unconditionally and polish it up every day with small acts of kindness otherwise it withers and dies.

There is one book that I wish I had read many times over early on in my life, I would have been a better companion but the book came out in 1992. It is called  The Five Love Languages  by an American  Relationship counselor, Gary Chapman. Ironically, his marriage was almost falling apart when he came up with the ideas in that book and it saved his marriage. Chapman believes that there are 5 primary languages in which love can be expressed and be experienced in a romantic relationship. Each individual has a dominant and  special way he/she wants love expressed to her/him.  Failing to receive love in that form, he/she will feel unloved, uncared for.

The 5 primary Love languages are :

Words of Affirmation

Quality Time

Receiving Gifts

Acts of Service

Physical Touch

People give love mostly in their primary love language and expect it back in that form.

You can easily discover your spouse’s  primary Love language by observing how he/she expresses love to you and what he/ she complains about in the relationship most of the time.

I speak the  ‘ Quality Time’ language.

When you speak to the spouse in the language he/ she knows , you speak to her/his mind but when you speak to her/him in her/his own language you speak to her/his heart.

When you discover your partner’s primary Love language   and speak it to her loud and clear 24/7, she will feel loved and cared for. This great feeling will fire her/him to give love back to you in your own primary Love language.

When you predominantly give me words of affirmation and yet I am for Quality Time, you could be speaking Greek to me as far as loving me is concerned.

This book is a gem and I would recommend it to anyone, young and old who is in a relationship. Reading it together, as often as possible, will take your relationship to greater heights day by day.  Remember it saved Chapman’s marriage.

 Feeling loved and cared for is an incredible feeling. Such love trickles through everything you do. You become creative and most times you create miracles of life- children, out of that love in your heart. The Taj Mahal, a palace in India was built by a Shah in 1632 to house the tomb of his favourite wife. Most master pieces of Art are created out of great love in the artist’s heart.

2. RESPECT– Like love, trust and loyalty , respecting your spouse starts with you respecting yourself.

Respect yourself for what you are as a human being; your strengths and flaws then you can confidently respect and love your partner for who he/she is and consider her/his wishes and feelings before making decisions.  You respect your partner as an equal ; trust her/him and have faith in  her/his  judgment. You may not agree about things all the time but choose to disagree amicably.

Over time, as you get to know each other better, the respect tends to grow and you become each other’s best friend.

Oddly enough, you can love someone without respecting him/her but then that won’t be a healthy relationship and is hard to sustain.

3. TRUST- This is the faith you have in your partner that he/she will always love you and be loyal enough to stand by you. Each partner has to work to deserve to be trusted by the other. You have to mean what you say and do what you say.  As actions speak louder than words, by your actions and behavior, you prove that you are dependable and reliable. It takes time and hard work for you to build enough trust in your spouse to  feel secure and confide in you. Trusting one another brings out the best in each other thus contributing to the growth of your love for each other.The most absurd thing is that it takes long to build trust but it can be broken by one betrayal. Once trust is lost, it may take years to rebuild it.

4. Open and Honest Communication– I would say that this is what strings things together in a relationship. Social animals communicate with one another mainly for survival. We all fear what we do not know or do not understand so talking to one another, talking things through makes us secure.  When you understand you forgive and then you love and when you love you never hurt but instead you protect your loved one. We communicate to be understood. Communication is about 40%  verbal and about 60% non-verbal so observe the facial expressions, movements and gestures.  Social interaction is essential for our emotional and mental well being.

Effective communication has to be open and honest;talk about everything  and anything in your lives- no secrets.  What you do not talk about has the power to enslave you. You express your needs , wants, desires to your partner to help her/him understand what you want from her/him. Both of you have to learn to be good listeners- listening with a third ear to go beyond understanding what is being said but at the same time pick unstated needs and fears. Listening to one another is a sign of respect.  Without effective communication unwanted problems arise and small ones grow bigger.

I used to play Tennis in my youth, it taught me a lot of things about life itself.

A healthy relationship with two people in love with each other especially when united as one in marriage can be compared to a good Tennis game. A good player connects with the ball, anticipates and prepares and then hits the ball. The more you learn how to raise your partner’s game, the more you enjoy the game. In any exciting game, you are as good as a your opponent. You respond in such a way as to help your partner make it through the struggles. A good game always demands mental strength and total focus without distractions.

They say that to love is to be alive; engaging fully with life and your surroundings.

Uganda Blogging Community 21 days Challenge

Day 8: Thoughts About Uganda’s Health Care System

A Ugandan nurse at the front line of the COVID -19 pandemic battlefield.

The Baganda have a saying when loosely translated says: It’s good to have a heavy downpour ; you differentiate  a solid house from a simple hut.  This is exactly what the COVID-19 pandemic has done to health care systems worldwide.  It has brought to the surface what has  been simmering below for many years.

The pandemic has shown the strengths of the health care system like professionals that can lead in the control  of a pandemic and weaknesses like overstretched , underpaid workers with little Personal Protective Equipment(PPE)  working in an underfunded health care system.

I thank them from the bottom of my heart for their unwavering commitment and dedication to the  noble profession and the people of Uganda.

I feel that I am  well positioned  to  comment about our health care system  than many other people for I worked in it for twenty years and by then  it was delivering free, effective services to all. Those who felt that they needed to pay a little to be seen by the consultants would attend the Private wing of the New Mulago hospital and be admitted in the private wards on the top floor.  President Amin Dada’s son, Moses , had his tonsils removed on the 6th floor when I was  the internee on duty. His many wives delivered their babies in the 6th Floor maternity Ward.

 I left for greener pastures in Botswana, southern Africa in 1994 then came back almost four years ago.

After the National Resistance Army bush war of 1981 to January 1986, I had great hope that the our health would be given the priority it deserved. A country’s greatest asset is  its people because people have to be healthy to participate fully in their own development and that of their country.

I left because I could not get a decent pay  as a health worker and the tools I needed to perform my work were inadequate. There was no way I could realize my full potential  and  at the same give my children  a better education and more opportunities than myself. I practiced the best clinical medicine in Botswana, a middle income country, an oasis of good governance  and prudent management of the natural resources  for the good of every citizen.

All along I followed what was going on in my country more so in the Health sector.  Whenever I visited home, I would cry silently because of the deteriorating state of the health care system.

Do not get me wrong; some remarkable achievements were made in areas like the control of HIV/AIDS epidemic and  the control and management of Ebola epidemics.

I thank all those workers who stayed on to sustain the thin thread that held the health care system together . I salute them for their commitment and dedication and acknowledge their relentless struggle to support their families under tough conditions.

 On my return home, I was shocked to the core when  I recognised  that there were two tiers of the health care system: one for the rich and another for the poor.  70%  of Ugandans live in the rural areas depending on subsistence agriculture. Falling sick in such an environment is close to committing suicide. They sell whatever they have to have the sick treated in dilapidated facilities lacking even the simplest drug like Paracetamol. They are seen by the health workers  then prescribed the necessary drugs .  Most times they cannot afford  to buy the drugs thus compromising their health.

 It is strikingly different for the privileged few who can be flown out with attendants to be treated in India, South Africa, UK and Kenya.The irony of things is that in some of those places, they are treated by Ugandans born and trained in Ugandan Medical schools!

 In this day and age, what nags my conscience fiercely every day as a health worker , is the fact that  16 women continue to die every day in Uganda from complications from  pregnancy or childbirth. Indeed the rate has reduced in the 22 years I was away but 16 is still high. Considering that most of those mothers die from preventable or treatable complications  like excessive bleeding, severe infection  and unsafe abortions and that each mother who dies  leaves behind  5-7 children, it is one of the biggest tragedies of our time.

The number of women who die from complications of pregnancy or child birth per 100, 000 live births per year is  known as MMR- Maternal Mortality Ratio.

  According to  data.worldbank.org

   Uganda  has a Maternal Mortality Ratio of  438 per 100.000 live births (2014). It is unacceptably high.

Kenya has  a MMR of  362 per 100,000 live births per a year.

Rwanda’s  has a  MMR of 216 (2016)

Botswana 144 deaths per 100,000 live births( 2017)

High MMR  are a  combination of:

  • limited access to quality maternal health services,
  • poverty,
  •  distance to facilities,
  • lack of information
  • Cultural beliefs and practices.

All citizens have a right to quality health care from the womb to the tomb.

 Similarly, we are all part of the solution.

 According to  the ubos.org , in the years I was away , Uganda’s population increased from  19.79 in 1994  to 36.91 million in  2014. However, the increase in functional health facilities did not catch up and the government expenditure on health in 1995/1996 was 9.8% of the total budget and  a mere 7.4% in the 2018/2019 budget.

 The Abuja Declaration of 2001 requires each country which is a member of the African Union ,to spend a minimum of 15%  of its total yearly budget on Health. At the peak of the HIV/AIDS  epidemic  in Botsawana, 2002-2006, Botswana  spent 40% of its total budget on health  to avail universal  Antiretroviral Treatment to its people and care and support the orphans of the epidemic.

As a health work who took the Hippocratic Oath to save all  lives these are my simple ideas on how to improve our health care system so that it delivers quality, effective , affordable services to all citizens wherever they are:

  1. Prioritise  Health-  Like any other government of a developing country, our  government has many demands  made on it but the planners should take health as a  priority by increasing the expenditure on health closer to the Abuja requirement- minimum 15% then put in place transparent mechanisms of accountability.

Health structures can be revamped, well stocked with medicines and the health workers can be retrained regularly and paid more so that that they can be retained. A satisfied worker would strive to deliver of her/his best.

2.Empower Communities to be in charge their health- The 1995 Constitution mandates the Ministry of Health to focus on  Policy and Regulation while the Ministry of Local Government runs the health care system below the regional  Referral hospitals  as it is done in Botswana. Emphasis on Primary Health Care will focus on Prevention other than the treatment of diseases. Communities will be healthier and will require less of treatment of diseases. Uganda is known to have excellent policies  on paper which are never implement or take over ten years to implement.

3.In this 21st century, governments cannot shoulder and finance the running of a functioning health care systems alone. It will require the government, the citizens themselves and  business partners to set up a locally appropriate Health Care Scheme that covers all. Botswana has had a Medical Aid scheme since 1991. I greatly benefited from it though I could still get free treatment from my local clinic.

Consultations should start at the grass roots and move up so that the groups involved agree amicably on an arrangement that satisfies all. The scheme has to be inclusive, effective, of good quality , affordable and sustainable.

     4. Education- the role of education in changing people’s behavior about important issues in society like accepting immunisation or use of health facilities is well known  so the Ministry of Education should continue to educate the young about the strong relationship between health and development. By the time they are adults, they will be able take informed decisions about their own health and the health of the population in general. They will be empowered enough to demand more from the governments of their day.

COVID- 19 pandemic has forced us into lockdown and affected the economy negatively but at the same time it has done us a great service by showing us the biggest gaps in our health care system. I only hope that the numbers of new cases will not rise above a hundred otherwise the fragile heath care system may collapse.

The Great Depression of the 1930s taught the Americans many things and forced them to design policies and programmes to help them stand strong if a depression of such magnitude were to recur.

This is the right time for all Ugandans to focus on our health care system, to change it into the type of system we want  for ourselves : the one that  can effectively deliver services to the population whenever they are and survive another pandemic in future.

Day 6 of The Uganda Blogging Community 21 days Challenge.

 

 WHAT I DO FOR SELF CARE

Health is defined as a state of physical, mental and social well-being not just the absence of disease.

Most of us know the old adage: A healthy mind in a healthy body. Self care is taking care of one’s body. mind and spirit.

In a patriarchal society like ours, women and girls are preordained to be the primary caregivers-taking care of the husbands, the children , the elderly and the sick. The majority of us end up being so consumed by this role that we forget or fail to find time to take care of ourselves. We end up suffering from burnout or being too stressed. In my late thirties, while juggling a demanding career and motherhood, I almost suffered from burn out. That is when I realized that I needed to care for my body, mind, and spirit every day of my life for a lifetime if I were to lead a meaningful and satisfying life.

I took time to dig deeper to know myself-my strengths, weaknesses and my limits then strived to take care of myself within those boundaries. The rewards have been great. I keep adjusting a few things as more time becomes available to me.

This is what I usually do for self care:

Taking care of my body

  1. Adequate sleep at night- after the day’s activities, a body needs 7-8 hours of sleep to repair itself  and to produce the proteins that fight off infection and inflammation. I know very well that less sleep results in poor immune response; opening up the body for recurrent infections. This is extremely important during this COVID-19 pandemic.
  2. Timely healthy balanced meals- I plan each day’s meals  well in advance to allow me to stock up on what I shall need during the week. I am even lucky that I can harvest fresh lemons, sweet bananas, avocados, jackfruits,  sour soap, carrots, beetroots, celery and rape, dodo and some fresh herbs like mint and rosemary from our garden.
  3. Water-  Up to 60% of my body  is water so I need to drink a minimum of two litres of water to stay well hydrated in 24 hours.
  4. Regular exercise- I start my day with simple exercises in the house mainly to strengthen and tone my muscles. I also take long walks in the evening but the bodabodas that never follow the flow of traffic can be threatening.
  5. A regular haircut and treatment at a salon is part of the package.

      Taking care of the Mind

The routine things that  I have learned  over the years and  practice often like taking a bath do not challenge the brain; the brain needs to be challenged by doing new things like learning a language or complex things like  solving a Sudoku number puzzle. At my age, if I do not challenge it regularly it will lose its function; I shall become slow in action and slow in making decisions.

I do this by reading novels usually two at a time, reading medical journals and writing. Every day I make time to write a page of a short story or a blog post, read newspapers and fill the crossword puzzles, Sudoku number puzzles. I also read blog posts on the Blogs that I follow.

 Every day I listen to some regular programmes of the BBC World Service, listen to Classic music, Country music and Gospel songs.

In the evenings I call my children and friends or chat with them on WhatsApp. My childhood best friend and I have for a long time nurtured a habit of meeting over a meal or a drink and catching up on our lives at least once in two weeks. It gives us something to look forward too.  Connecting with loved ones releases the “feel good factors” in my brain making me relaxed and happy.

At least twice a week in the evenings, I work in our vegetable garden mainly to connect with Nature and find my place in the universe. It is both calming and relaxing not forgetting the leafy green bumper harvest at the end of the season.

I regularly take time to be alone, I call it “Me’’ time . I use this time to reboot, meditate, focus and be more creative. I follow that old Greek  motto : Know Thyself. The more I get to know myself, the more I get to know and understand others so I become more human and compassionate. It has made me more honest and authentic. It keeps my body, mind, heart and soul in harmony and when I create things they express who I am organically.

Taking care of my spirit

I believe in God and his promises. I count my blessings every day; it gives me hope and joy and lines me up for more blessings.

I read and study the Bible with the intention of living it in my day-to-day life. After the early morning exercises, I read the day’s spiritual nugget and a chapter of a chosen book in either the New or Old Testament. I then pray to seek God’s guidance throughout the day. I always end the day with a prayer late at night.

As a Christian, I do some voluntary work like Career Guidance in Schools through my church, the Women Doctors’ Association and my school’s Old Girls Association. It is my way of giving back to the communities that shaped me.

Self care is an integral part of taking care of one’s health and I feel that young professionals especially the women  should be made aware of it as we support them to give without maiming themselves and others.

Jesus commanded us to love our neighbours as we love ourselves but then if I do not know how to love myself, how will you love others?

A RAINBOW OF HOPE

Colours speak to Us

  

The COVID-19  pandemic  rages on , affecting all aspects of society- health, financial, movement and getting down to our relationships and choices. All of us are longing for the world we know and yet we know that it will definitely be a new Normal.

 The majority of people in the world are under some form of lockdown to control the spread of the virus in communities and to ensure that that health care systems do not get overwhelmed by the number of patients. It happened in Italy, Spain, UK, New York right before our eyes. No  government would want to see it happen in its country.

In Uganda, as of last night, we were in day 8 of the lockdown and  a curfew from 7pm to 7am. The total number of confirmed cases was 61 of which  51 had been  treated and discharged.  Thankfully, we had not suffered any deaths among the cases or the health workers. The strict lockdown  is set to continue until the 5th May 2020. We all hope and pray that the numbers of cases will not surge to warrant an extension of the lockdown and curfew. The government has done a commendable job in adhering to the advice of WHO and  health professionals in the Ministry of Health and Uganda Virus Research Institute as well as supplying food to the most needy  around the city. Digital technology has made it easy to collect information and data which is then analysed to determine the next course of action and to keep the public well informed and part of the control plans.

I have come to trust the face and words of Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng, the Minister of Health  and to appreciate the dedication and heavy burden on the health workers who are at the frontline of this battle. They have energetically tapped into their experiences of managing the Ebola epidemics  of the recent past.

Citizens and professional all alike, our priority now is to protect ourselves from this invisible enemy, survive the lockup and move into the New Normal.

We are confined to our homes knowing very well that the environment always sets the rules  and we have to live by those rules. In these confined spaces, we are forced to learn to be alone ( in some cases)or be congested , to be quieter and to entertain ourselves.

These are difficult but temporary  times so we live one day at a time under a cloud of uncertainty. Under such environment, each one of us has on purpose to tap into the child in her/him to be able to make a game out of this lockdown . It is the only way to keep mentally, physically and emotional in top shape.

I remember some years back, one of my sons misbehaved and I punished him by locking him up in an empty room. He went in screaming but within a few minutes he was strikingly quiet. Like a monkey, he had climbed over the burglar proofing of the second door and was looking at the people passing  by in the road. He was enjoying it! He had turned a punishment into a game!

Children approach any situation with spontaneity and openness. We cannot allow ourselves to stagnate during this lockdown; time once lost, it cannot be recovered.

With childlike enthusiasm, we have to explore and create some laughter, fun, adventure  and colour in our confined spaces. The child in each one of us never goes away though as we grow up, we tend to be too focused on the past or the future to be fully open and spontaneous. Lockdown time should give us an opportunity to regain what is natural to each of us as children. We would all be alive if we responded creatively and anew to each new experience.

It is time to talk, laugh, play music, write, read, cook , paint,  to do gardening or a  DIY around the house or anything daring or outrageous to break the routine. Do it with childlike abandon with no sense of guilt. Take one day at a time. Do it on purpose; it will help you adjust to this temporary and difficult time. The complaining and whining will only make an already difficult time worse.

While researching for material for this post I came across some encouraging quotes that can uplift us.

  1. God put rainbows in the clouds so that each of us – in dreariest and most dreaded moments- can see a possibility of hope.” Maya Angelou
  2. Acting from  a  negative attitude attracts more negativity in your life. It’s your life; live it well.”- Judge Judy Sheindlin
  3. You may chain my hands, you may shackle my feet, you may even throw  me into a dark prison; but you shall never enslave my thinking, because it is free.’’ – Kahlil Gibran.
  4. “In life you either choose to sing a rainbow, or you don’t. Keep singing.” – Catherine Lory
  5.  “There comes a point in life when you realize that your darkest times  are your best times, too- you will see the rainbow of your life.” Roy Bennet
  6. My parents survived the Great Depression and brought me up to live within my means, save for tomorrow, share and don’t be greedy, work hard for the necessities  in life. Knowing that money does not make you better or more important than anyone else. So, extravagance has been  bred out of my DNA.”- David Suzuki
  7. The greatest generation was formed first by the Great Depression. They shared everything- meals, joy, clothing.  – Tom Brokaces
  8. “ It took capitalism half a century to come back from the Great Depression.” – Ben Shapiro
  9.  “Courage is the power to let go of the familiar.” – Raymond Lindquist
  10. “Change the way you look at things and the things you look at will change.”– Wayne. W. Dyer

11.“Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything. ” – George Bernard Shaw

  12.  “The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” William Arthur Ward.

  13.    “ True life is lived when tiny changes occur.” Leo Tolstoy

  14.“ All things are difficult before they are easy.” – Thomas Fuller

  15. “ Delays are valuable challenges. Stop complaining and whining instead exploit them to create a rainbow. The rainbow will show up.” –Anonymous.

As we wonder when the COVID-19 pandemic will end, how it will end and how it will change  us and our world, we have to understand that the COVID-19, Corona virus Disease, will not just disappear, instead it  will become part of our lives. We just keep hoping that the drugs to treat it and  the vaccine to control it will be discovered  sooner than later, to help us  go on with our lives.

 In 1978, I took six months of internship in the paediatric department of the New Mulago Teaching hospital . To my shock and horror, I recognised that a minimum of ten children under five years of age were dying of the viral infection , Measles, and its complications.  Each time I was on duty in the Acute Care Unit, I would leave the place shaken and crushed in  spirit.  That was one reason why I could not specialize in the care of infants, children and adolescents- Paediatrics.

WHO archives show that in 1980, before the widespread vaccination of Measles , the disease caused an estimated 2.6  million deaths each year in the world. Amazingly , by 2015, due to the widespread use of the safe  and effective vaccine, the highly infectious viral infection caused an estimated 134, 200 deaths worldwide , most of them in the under five children. The vaccine had reduced the deaths caused by measles by 79%! The Global Vaccination Action Plan targets a 90 % immunization coverage. The current Immunisation coverage of measles  in the under five years in Uganda  is about 82 % while Botswana has an Immunisation coverage of all childhood diseases  of 97 %. In the two decades I worked in the Primary Health Care department  of Botswana,  I only saw two cases of Measles and they were mild. I picked them quickly due to my haunting experience in the Paediatric department in Mulago.

Companies in USA, UK, Israel , China and other countries are working round the clock to develop a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine. It is encouraging to hear that trials in human beings have started in USA and UK. Normally it takes years to develop any safe, effective vaccine but thanks to the new technology like genetic sequencing, the vaccine to this new vaccine may take 6 to 18 months!

Before we know it, we could be walking around with a mild infection of CODIV-19.

Meanwhile , let us keep ourselves safe and others safe. We all stand to gain from this strict lockdown.


The innocent smile of a child.

QUESTION:

What is the biggest challenge that you face every day during this COVID-19 Lockdown? How have you tried to solve it ?

Please stay safe and stay healthy.

UGANDA BLOGGING COMMUNITY 21 DAYS CHALLENGE

 The Blogging Community of  Uganda came up with a challenge for its members to blog on a specific topic every day from 19th April to 9th May 2020. I considered it a useful challenge during this COVID-19 Lockdown.  It is a rainbow-giving us hope and inspiration while at the same time challenging the child in each one of us to create a game out of the lockdown. I accepted the challenge and started on it yesterday. I am playing catch up gladly ; aiming at being where I am supposed to be  by the weekend.

        Day 2 :  20 Facts About Me

  1. I am Jane Nannono, a Ugandan female medical doctor who has lived and worked in Uganda and Botswana, southern Africa.
  2. I am a mother of two boys, one girl and a guardian of two of my nieces.
  3.  I am a grandmother.
  4. I juggle medicine, motherhood, Creative Writing and Voluntary work.
  5. My parents are my best role models- they taught me to love, respect, and loyalty and to give without expecting anything back.
  6. I consider myself a work in progress so I am always looking out for opportunities to improve and package myself so as to stay useful and relevant to myself and my community.
  7. I have a strong network of friends who would drop anything for me and I would do the same for them.
  8.   Reading books has been part of my everyday life as far as I can remember. I would be very miserable without one.
  9. I am a published author: The Last Lifeline (2015) was my first fiction novel followed by And The Lights Came On (2016)
  10. Both books  are available as ebooks on my Amazon .com link: amazon.com/author/tz31_maaso_06
  11. I also write short stories. Two of these were published in the Volume 1 Anthology of the Africa Book Club – The Bundle of Joy (2014)
  12. Two others were published on the 2 Drops of Ink, Online Literary Blog.

13.The Story that Grandmother Never Wanted to Tell  was featured on the Yours 2 Read online platform for African writers  in London in March 2020.

 14. I have been running a blog for personal development: to share my wealth of knowledge, skills and experiences with others with the intention of impacting their lives positively. I post an article on it consistently every ten days.  Writing the posts hones  my writing skills, connects me with other writers and readers. It serves as a platform to promote my Creative Writing works. Its link is : https://www.apagefrommunakusbook834350529.blog

15. I am a member of several Online Writers Cartels like Write Practice, Africa Book Club and 2 Drops of Ink.

16. I am a member of FEMRITE- Association of Uganda Women Writers and AWT- The African Writers Trust(Ug)

17. I attend   workshops for writers  regularly to hone my writing skills. The most rewarding that I attended was organized by AWT last September. Prof. Okey Ndibe  who teaches Africa and African Diaspora Literature at Brown University, USA, was the tutor.

18. I have two other hobbies: travelling and amateur photography. They feed into my writing and enable me to explore some of the places that I visit in my wide reading. Most of the images I use in my blog posts were taken by me during my travels.

19. I am also a keen gardener. Connecting with Nature helps me to find my place in the universe and gives me the responsibility to nurture and preserve it for the next generation.

20. I consider writing as my second career after medicine.  I have been  featured as  a Guest Blogger  on these blogs:mulerasfireplace.com, http://penandprosper.blogspot.com   and http://writingandwellness.com

I think this will give you some ideas of who I am.

Day 1 of the UGBlogMonth Challenge.

WHY I WRITE

I have four main reasons behind my writing

  1. My Fascination with the Written Word.

I have been a voracious reader since the age of six and my parents played a crucial role in helping me to cultivate this habit.  In the secondary school I attended, I was caught and punished many times for  hiding in a pantry  to read  a novel after the official Lights Out at 10pm. In the process, I acquired so much knowledge, joy and fun and  became a global citizen long before the invention of the Internet; all at the price of a book!

By the time I was thirty five years of age, I felt that I had read enough books- fiction and non fiction to write my own. This was my simple way of giving back to the Literary world in gratitude. Surprisingly , my English teacher of Literature in English had seen this potential and drawn my attention to it. I considered Medicine as my noble calling.

2. Writing to express my thoughts, feelings and desires.

As I grew older, I continued with my obsession with books but I also developed the quest to find out who I was at a deeper level. Slowly, but surely I became a better person and rose above mere humanity. I became an artist- creating something meaningful, lasting and something of value. I stretched my imagination and began to write short stories. I wanted to share my knowledge, experiences and skills with other people with the intention of impacting their lives positively.

My favourite author Maya Angelou said: ” When you get, you give. If you learn, you teach.”

 I write about what I know, what I feel is beautiful and of significance in my life. All that I create emerges out of the truth about who I am at that moment in time. I block out the past or the future and concentrate on my creation. I begin with childlike spontaneity and openness and finish with maturity, skill and wisdom. The process of creation is more liberating and thrilling than the actual product. I gain more confidence and enlightenment as I continue to create.

3.Writing to give hope and joy while honing my writing skills.

In October 2016, I started blogging mainly for personal development and to inspire others. I tap into my wealth of experience, skills and knowledge to uplift , inspire while honing my writing skills. I also use it as a platform to connect with other writers and readers and to promote my creative works.

4. Writing just for the fun of it.

After being away from Uganda for more than twenty two years, I returned to find a radically changed place. I found it tough to get assimilated into the new systems.  I have been able to move forward and to find joy by clinging to what I love and what makes me fulfilled: reading, reading and Writing. Writing reduces the stress, gives me the ability to cope, improves my memory and concentration, helps  me to live a balanced life and improves my sleeping habits. For as long as I can , I shall keep reading and writing to keep my mind, heart and soul in top shape.

BRIGHTEN UP YOUR LIFE WITHIN YOUR LIMITATIONS

The lockdown intended to slow down the spread of the COVID-19 virus and to help in saving lives, is likely to continue in most of our countries. In my country, Uganda ,  we have 55 confirmed cases so far of whom 5 have been discharged, Thankfully, we have no associated deaths among the cases and the health care providers. The Lockdown  was extended for another 21 days  as of 15/04/20. We expected the extension which even includes a curfew from 7pm to 7am the question was : for how long?

We brace ourselves for another 21 days; confined in our homes for our own safety and for the safety of others.

  In today’s world, we want to control things to the point of predicting the outcome in a given situation but then this new virus has rendered us all: rich and poor, black and white ,powerless . No one knows when it will end or the overall social and economic effect it will have on our lives. Consequently, we are stressed , anxious and confused . Looking back at Wuhun, China, the first epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, it took 76 days of tight lockdown and testing to relax the restrictions gradually.

What can help us to go through this lockdown with relative ease, is for us not to lose hope and to remain positive. Nothing lasts forever, it will end and each day brings us closer to that eventuality. To remain hopeful and positive , each one of us has the responsibility to be kind and to spread joy other than panic and fear. Having said that, I would advise that you also pay attention to what you experience every day so that you pick the lessons you need to learn to inform the resetting of your life now and in the future. In life, no experience is ever wasted.

Do not throw a grenade, it is already messy,” I have had someone advise.

We should all be striving to brighten up our lives and other people’s lives too.

 In my own simple way, I am trying to bring colour and energy into our lives by sharing some colourful photos from my collection.

I hope they will colour your life too and keep you hopeful and enthusiastic about life.

A plate of fresh tropical fruits

Colourful and inviting to the eyes and to the palate. The yellow colour evokes warmth and comfort while red evokes love and excitement.

 Lush green shrubs and trees- the leaves glistening in the sunlight, remind me that to live is to be really alive: aware of who you are and your surroundings and engaging fully with life. Connecting with Nature helps me find my place in the universe and reminds me of my important duty of  protecting and preserving it for future generations.

The calm blue ocean

 It calms and relaxes my soul. It always reminds me that I have to be calm and peaceful to think rationally.

The iconic, rugged Table Mountains , Cape Town , South Africa.

When it rains long enough, even the desert blooms

The tall coconut tree-  able to survive hurricanes! It belongs to a family of old trees which have evolved over million of years to withstand their harsh environment. They have spongy tissues and root ball systems that spread  over a big surface area to tap nourishment and water.

I agree with the behavioural psychologists that  our true perception of colours is deeply rooted in our experiences and culture.

At the moment, the majority of us are living in confined spaces but each one can make some  effort to go out and simply create the life he/she wants under these difficult  and  unprecedented times. Like the professional artist, little by little , day by day, each one of us can create beauty and significance  in her/his life using her/his gifts, talents and imagination.  Being technology- savvy keeps you kilometers ahead.

Even in this COVID-19 – induced lockdown, the clock has not stopped and life is still an adventure . I am required to apply  some passion, perseverance, patience, a sense of adventure and discipline, to  create the life I want for myself. I have all the colours of the rainbow to choose from as I paint the canvas of my life.  Using bold, bright colours will help me to keep my enthusiasm for life. Every day, I have to motivate myself by believing that I have to go through this experience to rise to another level of mastery. Challenges and struggles make our lives interesting and overcoming them gives us more confidence and power.

Like the coconut trees which evolved to become flexible and adaptable to withstand hurricanes, during this pandemic , we are truly growing, hardening and evolving.  Many of us will still be standing when the COVID-19 pandemic  is over and we shall be stronger, wiser and more adventurous .

One famous quote by Robert H. Schuller has come to my mind: Tough times never last, but tough people do.”

QUESTION:

What kind of routine have you developed to  help you  find optimal well being physically, emotionally and mentally  during this Lockdown period?

STAY SAFE, STAY HEALTHY.