Posted in Culture

DO BETTER NIGERIA!

ANGER. RAGE. DISGUST. HURT. PAIN. HEAVY. BETRAYAL. LET DOWN. SHAME.

These words don’t even come close to describing the turmoil in my chest right now. There is so much awareness being brought to issues that have been going on for so long ‘behind closed doors’, I’m struggling to cope. I have refrained from saying anything because I don’t feel I have the right words. Instead, I have spent the past few days sharing links, posts, tweets, campaigns, petitions etc in solidarity with our fight. However, tonight I struggled to stay quiet. 

As a black woman, I’ve always been aware of the racial injustice that we as black people face. I am not blind to it. I am lucky to not have overtly experienced it but it’s there. It’s in the way people look at me when I laugh too loud or in the way they ask me why I’m so well-spoken. It is in the way they tell me to ‘calm down’ when I am trying to speak up for myself. So, I am aware that we will be judged firstly by the colour of our skin before anything else. I am aware that the mere colour of our skin is a threat to several out there. And like so many of us, the images and videos that I have seen over the past few days have enraged me. The more information I get, the angrier I get at the systemic racism that has been put in place to keep us from changing our narratives. The more information I get, the angrier I get at myself for not being quick to realise the impact of these malicious behaviours on my people. The more information I get, the angrier I get at the people who care more about power than they care about our lives. The more information I get, the angrier I get at the people who have chosen to oppress us to make their lives easier. The point is, I AM ANGRY. WE ARE ANGRY. WE ARE TIRED. We are at war and we’re ready to stand up to our enemies. 

In standing up to injustice, we need to call out the injustice within our own communities. Recently, the rape culture in Nigeria has been all over social media. Rape happens everywhere. It’s sad but true. There are sick men everywhere*. Sick men who think the way a woman dresses, walks, speaks, where she visits etc is a reason to rape her. Sick men who force themselves on women just for being women. We know these men exist. We know these men are sick. These men sicken me. But what sickens me more than these men are the communities who have raised these men to believe that they have the right to a woman’s body without her consent. Men AND women bashing other women/girls for ‘putting themselves in situations’ that have caused them to be raped. What situation gives another person the right to violate you? I won’t get into it but when you look at the stats, it is very clear that nothing stops anyone from being raped. It could have been YOU. WE need to do better. 

Rape is one of the most terrible crimes on earth and it happens every few minutes. The problem with groups who deal with rape is that they try to educate women about how to defend themselves. What really needs to be done is teaching men not to rape. Go to the source and start there.

– Kurt Cobain

The pressure that is put on women in our community is ridiculous. We are blamed for everything including being abused by our male counterparts. From birth, we are groomed for the sake of our male counterparts; dress responsibly so that the boys won’t look at you, learn to cook so that you can be a good wife, educate yourself because no man wants a liability etc. YOU raise us girls to be strong, independent, educated, responsible etc. On the other hand, YOU raise irresponsible men who are unworthy of the women that YOU have raised. Men that choose to satisfy their sexual urges without a care for the impact it has on us because YOUR ACTIONS have taught them that we exist solely for their sake. And in turn, YOU are telling the strong girls that YOU have raised, that no matter what they do, what they achieve, what they wear, these men will ALWAYS come before them. I AM ASHAMED. Nigeria, we need to do better. 

I plan to do better and you should too. We need to raise men that are worthy of the women that we are raising. We need to raise men that understand our struggles as women. We need to raise men that will fight for our struggles as women. We need to raise men that will hear our cries. We need to raise RESPONSIBLE men. So, start in your homes. Give your sons responsibilities; let them make dinner, let them do the dishes. Teach them respect. Teach them that they are the only ones responsible for their actions and those actions have consequences. Hold them accountable. Teach them just like you teach your daughters. 

To my sisters who have suffered and continue to suffer from the hands of the irresponsible men in our community. The community that should fight for you has let you down. I see YOU. I hurt for YOU. I support YOU. You are worthy!

DO BETTER NIGERIA!!!

Till next time

-A

*There are sick men everywhere. Obviously it’s important to recognise that this role can be fulfilled by a woman also, however this is a minute minority and generally not the case in most occurrences. Therefore with relevance to my point, I am going to discuss said sick men.

Posted in Culture, Relationships

Standards

Speaking to several friends/sisters about marriage, I noticed a common theme; most of them were being advised to lower their standards when it comes to men, in order to find a spouse. For the purpose of this post, ‘lowering standards’ refers to saying ‘Yes’ when you’re not completely happy.

I can understand the pressure to reduce standards when it comes to marriage. Unfortunately for us, especially in this part of the world, there is a scarcity of ‘husband material’. Yes, husband material. There are more women ready for marriage than there are men. Men our age are either not ready to settle because they are not ‘there’ yet or they aren’t finished playing the field. As well as this, the men that are available are not necessarily what we want.  So, when a ‘good enough’ man comes around, our family and friends encourage us to ‘go for it’, even if it means lowering our standards because another ‘good enough’ man might never show up. As well as this, we have the added pressure of our biological clock. As our mothers would say, ‘your clock is ticking’. We are always reminded of our age and how it may affect things in the future such as bearing children. So, ‘do what you want to do quick’. Of course, this advice comes from a good place, for the most part. Marriage is a huge deal in our culture and it is their dream and happiness to see us married.

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However, I have to disagree with marriage under these terms; lowered standards. Marriage is many things. It is a beautiful dream but it is also hard work. It can be difficult, frustrating, stressful. There is a huge difference between being married and being happily married. Lowered standards can be that difference sometimes.  When I reflect on conversations I have had with women who are unhappy in their marriage, I realise that they all say the same thing; the signs were there but they chose to ignore them and settle. In marriage, you will have to compromise on some things, the man you marry shouldn’t be one of them. Everybody’s perfect man differs. What is good for me isn’t necessarily what is good for you. Compatibility is very important in marriage. It is so important that you share the same core values, are able to understand each other and help each other through whatever life throws your way. Marriage is difficult enough, you do not want to add more pressure to it by having a spouse that is not on the same page as you.

Before getting married to my husband, I had several conversations with him. These conversations dealt with things we knew we wanted from each other; things we knew we couldn’t compromise on. We spoke about our day to day lives, our goals, our expectations of each other and our understanding of our roles. We spoke about religion, ambitions, children. All these conversations gave me insight into the man he was and whether he suited me. Learning from my past, I made sure that we shared the same core values not excluding humour. Funnily enough, one of the main things we talked about after Islam, was cleanliness. It’s very important to the both of us and so needed to be addressed. From these conversations, we decided that we were compatible with each other. So, although we have disagreements, our ideas on important issues such as raising our daughter is very much the same.

When thinking of whether to settle or not, I’d advise that you have a list of realistic things that you cannot compromise on; things that are absolutely important for you to make your marriage what you want it to be. This will help you to deal with the pressure and keep yourself in check when deciding on a spouse.

Remember it is better to marry ‘late’ than to marry wrong. Be patient. Think of the end goal, your happiness is important.

 

Till next time

-A

 

 

Posted in Motherhood

Labour

“of course it’s hard, why do you think it’s called labour?”- these were the words that my midwife said to me while I was screaming in pain.

My water broke around 6 a.m on a Wednesday morning. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what had happened because it felt more like a really light trickle. I actually thought it was the beginning of a period (pregnancy brain), as it was a little less dramatic than I was expecting. It took me a few minutes to realise that it couldn’t have been my period.  However, I still wasn’t sure what was happening.

I spoke to my husband about it and we laughed at the idea of me being in labour. I soon started to contract. At first, the contractions were very similar to a period cramp. I went back to bed ignoring the pain assuming it was nothing.  However, the pain soon started to intensify. I spoke to my mother-in-law and she insisted we go to the hospital. I was hesitant to go to the hospital at this stage as I didn’t want to go in too early and be told to go back home.

I had my shower and got ready for the hospital. At this stage, I was sure I was contracting. No one had to tell me. The pain was baaaad but it wasn’t consistent. It wasn’t happening often enough to warrant me going to the hospital, I felt. Anyway, I went in and it was confirmed that my waters had broken and I was 1cm dilated. But, just like I thought, I wasn’t just ready to be admitted to the hospital. I had to get to at least 6 cm. I was advised to go home and stay active in order to get my labour going. Regardless of the situation, I was told to come back to the hospital at 11pm that night in order to be induced, as it wasn’t safe for my baby to be out of the waters for over 24 hours. I went back home, my contractions were getting more and more intense but I still wasn’t getting the expected 3 contractions in 10 mins. I felt slightly bipolar, one minute I was grunting in pain, the next minute I was eating fried chicken. I was walking up and down the stairs, trying to stay active. My contractions still weren’t consistent but the pain was starting to become intolerable. I was sure I was getting closer to pushing the baby out.

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I was admitted to the hospital at 11 o’ clock that night. Going in, I naively thought I’d be in and out by midnight. But that was not the case. My midwife checked me and to my dismay, I was still just 1cm dilated. How was that even possible with the intense pain that I was in? I was put on antibiotics for the night and was going to be induced the next morning. I couldn’t sleep due to my contractions. The next morning, I was taking into my labour room. At this stage, I was starting to feel quite anxious; labour was going to be sore. I was checked again and I was now at 2cm. The frustration. Over 24 hours later!!!  I was put on oxytocin to speed up labour. This was when it all went downhill.

Oxytocin sped things up. My contractions became more frequent leaving me with no breathing space between each contraction. The pain had been unbearable for a good while at this stage, but the lack of space between each contraction meant no time for recovery between contractions.  I was doing rollovers on the bed, I wasn’t coping. I was offered gas and air to help with the pain but it only made me feel drunk and silly. I kept trying to tell myself to ‘behave’ but I just couldn’t. My breathing techniques went out the window. I was a mess… and I still hadn’t dilated any further. Things were starting to look bleak. I was in a lot of pain and I still had a long way to go. I didn’t think I could deal with the pain for much longer. I asked my midwife if things had moved any further; it hadn’t. I was tired. I turned to my husband with tears in my eyes and said: “I cannot do this”. He reassured me that I could but I ignored him, faced my midwife and repeated those exact same words “I cannot do this”. I just couldn’t see the other side.

My midwife suggested taking an epidural. I was at 2cm and I still needed to get to 10cm. I insisted that I didn’t want to take it. I had read about several side effects and wasn’t willing to risk it. Moreover, this person and that person managed without it. I should be able to manage without it. I’m strong too. Well, this wasn’t the case and I’m so glad my midwife talked some sense into me. She basically reminded me that there was life after labour and that I needed to be able to take care of my baby. As well as that, if I was in distress, there was a huge chance that I was putting my baby in distress. And I had been contracting for over 30 hours, I was wrecked. Every situation differs.

I accepted the epidural and life was a breeze. Contractions were a thing of the past. Don’t get me wrong, I was still getting them but I couldn’t feel them. But, I felt guilty. I felt weak. I felt like I wasn’t working for it. I let myself down and my baby down. I shouldn’t have taken the epidural. With all these thoughts going through my head, I chilled and waited until my little girl was ready to make an entrance. She took her time. When she was finally ready, I pushed for 20 minutes and at 21:21 on Thursday night, my baby girl arrived.  It was only after her arrival that I realised what I had just done; I birthed a baby, there was absolutely nothing weak about that.

Till next time

-A

Posted in Empowerment, Motherhood

Who am I?

“Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel” – Eleanor Brownn. 

I am a mother and likewise a wife. But that’s definitely not all I am.

Recently, I found that I had to remind myself who I was as a person before I became a wife and a mother. Motherhood and ‘wife duties’ started to define the person that I was. Since becoming a mother, I spend my days taking care of my daughter and husband. My husband leaves for work in the morning and would get back in the evening. Of course, as his partner, it meant that I had to do everything that he couldn’t do while he was at work e.g cleaning, cooking e.t.c Aswell as this, I was trying to get a grasp on my new role as a mother.

For the first couple of weeks after my baby was born, as you’d expect, life was busy and it still is. I was trying to figure out this thing called ‘motherhood’. I was constantly tired due to sleepless nights and loooong days. My baby kept me busy 24/7. Regular ‘simple’ tasks took much longer due to baby interruptions. I looked forward to her daytime naps so I could get a little snooze myself or get another house chore ticked off my list. She was the most important thing in my life. My days revolved around her.

These two new major roles kept me busy. I was waking up tired and going to bed wrecked. I was putting everything into taking care of my home and my baby. I even started to challenge myself. For example, yesterday I had my baby showered, dressed and fed by 11 a.m, today I am going to try to get her ready by 10 a.m. I was starting to feel proud of my little achievements. Things were going great, I was starting to get a hang of things. But, it all came at a cost, at least that’s what it seemed like.

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My health was deteriorating. I still hadn’t healed properly from labour. I was barely eating because I just didn’t have the time. But yet I was breastfeeding exclusively. I was dehydrated and constipated, I didn’t seem to have time to drink water either (my lips had never been so dry). Each day was the same; take care of the home and look forward to my husband’s arrival from work. My goals were limited, my conversations were limited; I was a wife, I was a mother… That was it. I was taking care of everybody else but myself. And so I had to think “WHO AM I?” “WHAT EXCITES ME?”, “WHAT MAKES ME HAPPY?”, “WHAT DO I WANT FOR MYSELF?”

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love being a wife to my husband and a mother to my daughter. It is a major part of the person that I am but it is not all that I am and it is not all that I have to be. I love taking care of my family, it brings me great joy and a sense of fulfilment… but I also love to write, exercising, helping out in the community, teaching. All these things make me who I am, all these things take care of me.

So, if you’re like me and you find yourself losing focus on the person that you are or the person that you want to be, then try these 3 tips. They worked great for me.

  • Prioritise – I used time as an excuse, “I can’t take care of myself because I don’t have time to”. Make time! There is never enough time but you have to prioritise; your baby won’t remember that you gave her a late shower because you needed to eat.
  • Talk to your partner or loved ones (someone who was always aware of your goals) – My husband was always aware of my goals. So, when he noticed my lack of self-focus, he called me up on it.
  • Pick one thing- No matter how busy you get, try to do one thing for yourself each day that brings you closer to your goal. For me, it can be as little as a 30min workout (gotta get my body back). Remember, you should never be too tired to work on yourself. You’ll thank yourself for it.
  • Ask for help- I am still working on this one myself. If you’re anything like me, you might find this difficult. I have this mentality of “she’s my responsibility and I want to be the perfect parent”. You don’t have to be superwoman, don’t try to do it all by yourself especially if you don’t have to.  Let grandma help. Let her spend time with daddy while you take care of yourself. Your health will thank you for it and so will your baby.

You can’t pour from an empty jug. Take care of yourself. It takes a little more work, but you’ll thank yourself for it. I’m still tired most days, but I am happy.

Till next time

-A

Posted in Motherhood

My journey…

The journey ended over three months ago, THANK GOD!!! Just in case you’re wondering, I do NOT miss being pregnant.

I was one of those people who planned on being very active while pregnant. I had always been into fitness and planned to continue while pregnant.  My mum had told me plenty of stories about all of her four pregnancies (she had very difficult pregnancies), so I felt very well prepared for the worst. But, nothing could have prepared me for this emotional journey into motherhood. Just like childbirth, it is one of those things you have to go through in order to completely understand. However, I will try my very best to explain as honestly as I can. In order to make things easier, I will break the journey down into trimesters.

My first trimester was awwwwwwful! I had every symptom possible. As I said in my previous post, I decided to take a pregnancy test because I was feeling quite ill. I wasn’t really expecting a positive result (call it naivety) but I wanted to rule it out. However, as you all know, it was very much positive. My first trimester brought serious morning sickness. To be clear, morning sickness is NOT the same as vomiting. For me, It was vomiting with heartburn/throat burn while trying to keep my intestines where they should be as well as keeping my body from releasing fluids in other areas. It can happen anywhere at anytime. Then, came extreme weakness. Regular tasks such as walking and standing became extremely difficult. I had to teach while seated. My postgrad needed me to be as active and as enthusiastic as possible (primary teachers spend most of the day on their feet). Unfortunately for me, I lacked both of these while pregnant – imagine trying to teach P.E  while seated. The inability to be physically active impacted me emotionally. I just couldn’t understand what was happening to me. I felt betrayed by my own body. I wasn’t heavy, I wasn’t even showing (no bump) physically. My inability to do regular day to day things just did not make sense. There was no logical reason for the way my body was acting. Whatever was inside of my stomach was ruining my plans, I felt. My weakness was affecting my work. My mentors didn’t think I’d make it through the course. Most importantly, I couldn’t see myself finishing the course successfully. I couldn’t connect the dots and consequently couldn’t connect with the child inside of me. This lack of connection worsened things for me. I had always looked forward to having children, I didn’t expect to feel the way I felt. My attitude towards my unborn child worried me. I was a mess…. No one could have prepared me for this.

 

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Eight months pregnant 🙂

 

Fortunately, my first scan changed a lot for me emotionally. Although, still pretty upset about the way things were going with my course, seeing the picture of my little human made it a lot easier to understand my situation. I was so overwhelmed, I cried. During that brief moment, things started to make sense. In that moment, there was a change of perspective. I was carrying a human being. A human being that already knew how to wave.

My second trimester came with a huge appetite. I was always hungry. I ate almost every hour or two and If I didn’t eat on time, my body would literally collapse. The hunger was real! My morning sickness reduced and I started to slightly regain my energy. Things with my course still weren’t as I’d have liked due to my lack of energy. My daily routine went as thus; wake up, go to work- try to get through the day by eating snacks every chance I got, worked through lunch so I didn’t have to stay too long after school just so I could run home to eat, sleep, wake up to do more work and then sleep again.

Things settled down during my third trimester. Although my morning sickness returned, it was not as aggressive as my first trimester. According to the doctor, my food was coming back up because there was no room in my stomach. I managed to finish the practical part of my course during this trimester. I had good days and bad days. I had a deferred assignment which I managed to write during this trimester.  Funnily enough, I received the result of the assignment on the day I had my baby- I had failed. As you can imagine, I was heartbroken. I felt like my whole year had gone to waste and I had nothing to show for it. I cried. It took me a good couple of minutes, but I realised with the help of my mother that I had a little girl in my arms- my little girl. I was healthy and so was my baby. That was more important than anything else. I had plenty to show for the year. It was a matter of importance; my baby or my postgrad.

I have heard of people that have had “easy” pregnancies. Mine just wasn’t one of those. It was emotionally draining for me. Although it was a difficult journey, I feel very blessed to have been given the opportunity to carry a child into this world. Nothing can compare to it. My baby brings nothing but joy and happiness to my life. And sleep deprivation.

Major shout out to my husband for being so understanding. I do not know how he kept his cool through my mood swings.

P.S I repeated the assignment and I am awaiting results- pray for me 🙂

Till next time

-A

 

 

Posted in Relationships

Hitting reply.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter – Martin Luther King Jr. 

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Domestic violence is such a sensitive topic. It isn’t one that I feel capable of talking about. However, I had to respond to this post. So, I’m hitting reply.

‘And of his signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquility in them..’ – Qur’an 30 V21

Violence is NOT a part of marriage. Love, trust, honesty, compromise, challenges e.t.c is a part of marriage. Violence is NOT. At least, it shouldn’t be.

Marriage is a sign of maturation.  When a man refers to his wife as his ‘baby’, it is generally as a term of endearment. He wants to care for her and protect her, as he should. That’s generally what people do when they care about someone. They don’t treat them like children that need to be corrected. If you feel like you’ve married a child, maybe you should have waited a few years before marrying her. Or you shouldn’t have married her at all.

I know of marriages that have managed perfectly without domestic violence. This doesn’t mean that they don’t have troubles. It just means that the couple chose to treat each with respect rather than like punching bags.

I also know of marriages that have managed with domestic violence. I have seen the impact on the women involved. I have seen broken women. I have seen sad women. Yes, your marriage may have lasted for over 9 years, but it doesn’t make it a successful marriage. Quantity is not quality.

You say domestic violence is overrated. I say that it is underrated.  What you don’t realise is that domestic violence is more than the physical harm that is inflicted. Various researches have said that psychological wounds of domestic violence linger after the bruises heal. You beat her up and you apologise. She accepts your apology and you move on. The physical harm heals and it is like nothing happened. But something happened. You disrespected her. You humiliated her. You degraded her. She might not have the physical scar to show for it, but the emotional scar is there.

Take a look at your wife. The woman you married. The mother of your children. You are not her daddy. You are her husband. Look at her. Tell me, she is the same person you married. Tell me, that her self-esteem is just as it was when you first married her. Tell me, that your consistent beatings have not had any negative impact on her. Tell me, that your 9 years of marriage has had a positive impact on her emotional well-being. Tell me that if you had never hit her, she would be the exact same person she is now.

Then, if you have any, take a look at your children. Tell me, that the constant disrespect that you show your wife has had no impact on them. Tell me, it doesn’t upset them to see their mother bruised. Tell me, they enjoy seeing their mum cry from your beatings. Tell me, that it has not affected your relationship with them. Tell me, that your sons aspire to be just like their father. Tell me that your daughter wants to marry a man just like you.

‘Children living with domestic violence suffer emotional and psychological trauma from the impact of living in a household that is dominated by tension and fear’  – Domestic Violence Prevention Centre. 

If you’re able to tell me all these, then I might say that the past 9 years of your marriage is something to celebrate.

You say domestic deaths are accidents. There is no such thing as a domestic death. Death is Death. Falling down the stairs is an accident. Falling down the stairs because my husband pushed me down the stairs is NOT an accident. What’s the excuse? ‘I meant to push her, but I didn’t mean for her to die’.

I cannot tell you how to run your marriage and I will not tell you how to run your marriage. However, I ask that you take a good long look at your wife.

Domestic violence might be a part of YOUR marriage. But it doesn’t have to be a part of everyone else’s.

Till next time

-A

Posted in Empowerment

Black History Month!!!

Without history, there would be no future.

Hi everybody,

I miss writing these posts every week. I am soooooo busy these days, I’ve had to resolve to write every two weeks.

Anyways, let’s get to it. It’s BLACK HISTORY MONTH! Can I just say that I never really paid attention to this month until I started to work in a primary school? Terrible, I know. My knowledge of our history is shameful, it’s so bad. But I plan to fix that. Slowly, but surely. It is important to be aware of the struggles and challenges that people went through to create the world that we live in now.

To celebrate Black History, I have decided to dedicate this post to a black woman, who I have recently come to admire and look up to; Sumayyah Bint Khabbat.

I recently watched a series about Umar Ibn Khattab, a companion of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). The series touched on the history of Islam and the struggles the companions went through during the time of the Prophet. As Sumayyah was one of the companions, snippets of her life were shown, mostly focusing on her struggles after accepting Islam. My heart broke watching her go through all that pain. The series left me in awe of this amazing woman. I just could not get over the emotional  strength she displayed.

Sumayyah was a black slave, who was later granted freedom by her master. She married and had three children. She was one of the first few people to accept Islam and later became the first martyr of Islam. She converted to Islam at a time when Muslims were persecuted just for being Muslims. She and plenty of other Muslims were continuously tortured for accepting Islam. She was put through physical and emotional pain. But despite all of this, her faith did not waiver one bit. She was pressured, coaxed, bribed, threatened. She was put through the worst kind of tortures but she stood her ground and held onto her beliefs. According to Islamic law, she had every right to denounce her faith by tongue to save her life. BUT she didn’t! She held on tight to her faith and became the first martyr of Islam. She died standing up for what she believed in. This woman is goals!

She held her head high and looked the world straight in the eye. Celebrate her strength.

So, why is she one of my role models? Sumayyah didn’t just accept Islam but she believed in it and saw the truth in it. She acted on her beliefs and values. This woman, regardless of the torture she was put through, held on to what she believed in. She did not let it alter the person that she was. It’s very rare to find people like that these days. Not just in terms of religion, but every aspect of life. When things take the wrong turn, we are very quick to give up on our beliefs. We are very quick to take the easy way out. It is very easy to say that we believe in certain things ideas or qualities. But when it comes down to it, a lot of us are easily persuaded or coerced into doing things that go against those beliefs.

Sumayyah’s resilience, positive attitude, perseverance, determination, and patience are qualities that I can only pray for. To be able to have such strong faith and live it through different aspects of my life. To be able to stay true to myself when others tell me otherwise. That’s strength.

Till next time

-A