Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Long overdue and somewhat personal

It’s been a while – in fact if I’m honest this year has been rather lacking. I haven’t written much even though I started the year with the goal of writing a blog post each month – life took over. And it didn’t inspire.
Then as luck would have it last month a friend of mine invited me at the very last minute to a talk by Elizabeth Gilbert  - she of “Eat Pray Love” fame at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). The event was organised by Greenlight Bookstore and although I had no idea at the time what to expect, the words BAM and Greenlight Bookstore were enough to convince me.  And as it so happened, this was exactly what I needed - a rather unexpected intervention in my struggle to find my inner creativity.

The event, entitled Unbound was in the format of a hilarious conversation between Elizabeth Gilbert and the brilliant playwright Sarah Jones about Gilbert’s new book, a non-fiction, unapologetically self-help tome entitled Big Magic- Creative Living Beyond Fear.  As I sat in the audience with my girlfriend who is a writer working on her second novel, I felt completely refreshed and rejuvenated and ready to embrace my art. Elizabeth Gilbert is funny and honest and self-deprecating in a way that was completely energizing.   She recognises that she has critics, many of them; some that she acknowledges would even try and help her gain the credibility of a serious writer that she lacks, according to them. She jokes about the NPR-types who insist that when she talks about the characters involved in her writing process, one of whom is “Fear’, they attempt to throw her a lifeline by suggesting that she is simply using metaphors to describe her creative process. To which she responds emphatically that these are not metaphors but real aspects of who she is as a writer.  She is a breath of fresh air in a world of New York Times-quoting, self-appointed critiques that pride themselves on finding fault with other people’s art rather than creating their own.  As I laughed deeply at some of the comments she made, I couldn’t help but think back to another writer, one whose work I adore, Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie who once said that her novel, Americanah was her “Fuck You!” book – in other words when she wrote it, she decided that she could care less what people think or say, or the labels they decide to attach to her work. How invigorating that must feel!  Like Chimamanda, I loved Elizabeth Gilbert’s honesty. It takes a certain maturity and self-assuredness to say to hell with the naysayers and I think for so many of us who dream of a more creative life, of taking our creativity to the next level, the opinions of others represent the hurdles we face and often struggle to overcome. 

In response to an audience member who asked how could she tell whether she was good enough to do the creative thing she loved – what if infact she was just mediocre at lots of things, Elizabeth Gilbert talks about being the type of creative person who has focused on one thing with a dogged determination and gotten better at it over time. This acknowledgment, though obvious to some, goes against the usual rhetoric of the natural born artist – we have become more accustomed to the accounts of knowing that you have something special from an early age. So much so that when some of us don't feel that way, we conclude that it must be because we have no God-given talent and content ourselves with a life of banality.  Ms. Gilbert doesn’t claim to be born with this talent, instead she says that she knew writing was what she wanted to do from an early age and decided to stick with it. She concedes that she was probably not that good to begin with but knows with absolute certainty that she has gotten better with time and practice.  In her honest and open accounts, both during the conversation and in this book, she encourages her readers/audience to accept their flaws and still embrace their art. She makes a distinction between our ego – the thing that drives us to want more and more “likes” on social media and our soul – the thing that makes us do something even if no one else in the world reads, buys, listens to it, just because it makes us happy.  Yes she resorts to catchphrases at times to get her point across but just because I don’t subscribe to the notion of “Big Magic” doesn’t mean I don’t agree with her message.  In a similar way, I couldn’t stand the catchphrase “Lean In” – for Godsake’s it should be lean forward….you lean forward not in – but that did not stop me from relating to so much of what Sheryl Sandberg had to say.

And now back to me and my writing. I love writing and I love reading and this is what I want to do in my free time more than anything else. I love reading what I’ve written and what other people have written. At the moment I’m reading Edwidge Danticat’s “Untwine” as well as Jojo Moyes “After you” and Tanehisi Coates “Between the world and me” because each one, in its own way,  feeds my hunger for beautiful words and incredible stories. So thanks to Ms. Gilbert I am reading again and writing and who knows what the future holds. I am not setting myself any goals but I hope you’ll be able to read me more often than you have this year and I hope that I’ll inspire you to do whatever makes you happy…..even if you do it for an audience of one!

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

My "f*#% you" to Facebook apathy

I have decided to quit Facebook indefinitely. To be honest with you it was a long time coming as I've grown increasing tired of the constant navel gazing. I mean let's be honest, how many f-ing selfies do you need to take before you've convinced your self-absorbed self that you're beautiful or rather that you photograph well? And yes so you signed a contract or closed a deal, some people negotiate ceasefires between warring parties or resuscitate people for a living but you don't see them regaling us with tales of their contribution to humanity or world peace now do you. But even with all that silent suffering, I kept coming back, dare I add like an addict. So I guess the straw that broke the camel's back was the reaction to two recent stories/status updates that I posted. One involved a celebrity and as I would have predicted within hours there were comments and "likes" and it felt like I was having a real conversation with real people.  The second related to a critically ill child in need of medical care, post a liver transplant and depressingly that post elicited one like in a day and a second the following day. In that post, I pleaded with those on my Facebook to help me raise a modest amount for a friend's campaign whose goal was to help the girl's family with hospital treatment that could save her. It was met with a deafening silence. Not only did I find that deeply disheartening (let me be honest with you... or as we say in Krio "tell friend true nor pwell (spoil) friend"), but it reminded me of how fickle and ineffective a tool Facebook is when it comes to real, meaningful interaction with people we know... some of whom we may even love. It tells me, not necessarily that my 100 odd Facebook friends are not genuine friends - I make a point of culling my numbers often so without a doubt, many of them are - but that they do not want to engage in anything meaningful via Facebook. As such I have to conclude that as a social media tool, Facebook holds no value for me. If it's superficial engagement I want, there's twitter. For meaningful conversations, there is Whatsapp, making Facebook redundant, even superfluous! 

On the one hand I hear the arguments that we prefer light-hearted interactions on social media. I get it but then I don't actually, in all honesty, I don't get it because no amount of ignoring "heavy" posts and news items makes them go away - it just makes us apathetic. It makes us fair weather friends...ready to share the laughs but running a mile in the opposite direction when there's pain.  In real life - away from our computers and smart phones we can watch mindless sitcoms and reality shows while at the same time processing news reports - sometimes uncomfortably depressing but burying our heads in the Real Housewives of X town doesn't exactly make those reports disappear, it just makes us ignorant of what is going on in the world and even more depressing, it means we are not part of the solutions to those problems.
At the same time I also think that the tendency to only post bad news, whether it's about Ebola orphans or newly reported natural disasters without offering solutions or glimmers of hope - indications of how we can ease the pain - is completely unproductive, even exploitative. It's like "disaster porn" addicts - you know the types who love to observe and even profit from people's suffering .... in a completely detached way. 
So all this to say Facebook has ceased to serve a purpose for me - long live Whatsapp for my family and friends! And for those whose daily musings are a source of endless amusement to me (you know who you are), please join me on Twitter!! We don't even have to address each other directly - just keep on posting funny things that make me laugh - it's that simple! 

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Power Women 232

The silver lining that has emerged from the dark cloud that is Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone is the number of phenomenal women who are doing something to make the lives of victims, their carers and their affected societies better.

What better day than International Women's day to recognise the incredible work and sacrifice of one of those phenomenal women. 

Power 232 - a network of young professional women - launched a campaign in August last year aimed at recognising and rewarding the tireless and selfless efforts of healthcare workers dealing with the Ebola epidemic. Through donations from individuals and businesses, Power 232 creates care packages for healthcare workers that include essential items like soap,  toothpaste, tea, milk, and biscuits, cornflakes. They also include 'Thank You’ cards that remind these amazing carers who risk their lives each day to help others, just how much they are appreciated. 

Today, these amazing women honoured one of those healthcare professionals on their Facebook page with the following:

Dr Fanny Koroma
Meet PowerWoman Fanny Koroma, MD. We at PowerWomen232 have waited until International Women's Day 2015 to feature Fanny because she is one of the numerous unsung female Ebola heroes across Sierra Leone. A committed Christian with a passion for singing, Fanny graduated from the College of Medicine and Allied Sciences, University of Sierra Leone with an MB.Ch.B degree. With a firm belief in leadership, she served as President of the Sierra Leone Medical Students' Association (SLeMSA), which is Sierra Leone's chapter of the International Federation of Medical Students' Association (IFMSA), the only UN recognized student body with over 100 member countries, this is in addition to membership in numerous organizations including the Sierra Leone Junior Doctors' Association.
When the Ebola outbreak began in Sierra Leone, Fanny was attached to Connaught Hospital as a House Officer. She worked in the outpatient department which is the first port of call for ALL patients, doing screening and deciding who fits the case definition of Ebola. She did this on average of 3 times a week with little or no personal protective equipment (PPE). Fanny had many scary moments, each time a patient she had screened was confirmed positive for Ebola, it took an emotional and mental toll on her; compounding her mental anguish were the deaths of several outpatient department nurses who contracted the virus and subsequently died. Through all this, Fanny continued to show up for work day in and day out. She finally broke down when her immediate boss and mentor, Dr T.T. Rogers contracted the virus and died, she was placed on self observation for 21 days and those were the longest 21 days of her life.
During her 21 days of self observation, Fanny had a lot of time to think. She felt 'helpless' people were showing up at the hospital when it was too late due to fear. She wanted to do something different in the fight against Ebola. She felt she would be of better use at the community level were the problems could be arrested before escalating to the hospital. Fanny joined the World Health Organization as a Tracing Mentor/Coordinator in Kambia, Northern Sierra Leone. In her current role, she is in the field everyday, in villages and quarantined homes; following contacts and conducting case investigations to get epidemiological links/chain of transmission. She also ensures that people in quarantined homes get all the necessary food, security and communication needs to enable them to comply to the terms of the quarantine. Additionally, she ensures that contact tracers visit quarantined homes for monitoring twice a day.
Fanny is saddened by the toll Ebola has had on health care professionals in Sierra Leone, especially the more experienced doctors; she was hoping to work with them, to learn from their experiences. Many of them have died after contracting Ebola. Even more troubling to Fanny is the huge death toll of both Ebola and non-Ebola causes in such a short time span.
According to Fanny, Ebola has changed the face of medicine in Sierra Leone, for doctors, nurses, medical students and patients. “Ebola has been an expensive lesson for Sierra Leoneans,” she says “from issues like hygiene, to managing hospitals, and how to approach medicine when a majority of the population prefer to seek health care needs from traditional healers, we must do better, Sierra Leoneans deserve better.” In the midst of all this, Fanny is forward thinking, a visionary; she is looking forward to a health care system that works in Sierra Leone, one with the right policies, administration, infrastructure etc...and she is hoping to make a significant contribution to the turnaround of our healthcare system.
We at PowerWomen232 are so proud of Fanny, at a time when those in the medical profession are sacrificing their own lives in the Ebola fight, she has stepped forward, to offer her services to humanity. Dr. Fanny Koroma, on International Women's Day, we salute you, we beam with so much pride, you and countless other women ‪#‎MakeItHappen‬ in this‪#‎Ebola‬ fight. We simply say thank you for your gift to humanity, thank you for your gift to Sierra Leone.

To learn more about and to support Power 232 - please visit their Facebook page  or follow them on twitter . As the name of the campaign suggests, in order to eradicate Ebola we need "All hands on deck!"

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

The more things change....

I started writing this post in the thick of the Ferguson protests and Israeli bombings of Gaza - before the body of Michael Brown was buried, before 519 Palestinian mothers buried their children. But as the French saying goes it was plus fort que moi - it was all more than I could bear. I spoke to a close friend of mine in the Netherlands and she asked me what was wrong with the world - where had our humanity gone? So the original title of this post was "To the vocal supporters and silent accomplices of murderers and mass murderers: Where is your humanity?". 

I began the post by talking about Michael Brown, an unarmed boy, gunned down by a policeman, shot no less than six times. And then asked how such a deplorable event could be met with the silence of some or even worse, words and actions in defence of his killer. Where is the humanity of such people?   

Then yesterday the grand jury decided that they would not indict Mike Brown's murderer. The man who shot an unarmed person 6 times, who pursued him and then boldly declared during his testimony that his victim looked like a demon

It has taken every effort for many of us to not despair at America, especially white America and its blatant disregard for black lives. The fact that there is no collective outrage at the jury's decision reminds me of how and why slavery flourished for as long as it did. The fact that there are some who argue about grey areas and feel ambivalent when it is crystal clear to anyone with compassion that Michael Brown was cold blood... wrongfully - is that clear enough for you? There is no debate to be had, no justification - Darren Wilson should not have fatally shot an unarmed boy! There is not a single video or picture that would make that conclusion any different so I won't even dignify the desperate arguments that have surfaced with a response. 

Like those who supported slavery and apartheid, there are people, many of them in America's police forces, who do not see Mike Brown or black people as human beings deserving of their compassion. History is far from a distant memory - we pretend things are different today because certain laws are in place that prevent us from committing the crimes we did against the innocent in the past but Ferguson and the countless other examples of Mike Browns and Trayvon Martin... all over America are reminders that little has actually changed. 

The fact that we have to remind people whose compassion is reserved for Darren Wilson who lost a job as opposed to Mike Brown's mother who has lost a child that #blacklivesmatter is an indictment on American society. 

Darren Wilson's life and the lives of white men like him are not at risk. The lives of white police men are not at risk! For all the protests in Ferguson and elsewhere in the US, there is zero evidence of retaliation against white people or white policemen. Yet black boys and men continue to fall..... 

So I choose unapologetically to fly the banner for black lives because they are at risk in America. I choose to speak out about those lives not because I don't love humanity as a whole but because today, at least, Whites do not need my compassion. Darren Wilson and his white colleagues do not need me to raise funds for them, white men in the street do not need me to protest about society's injustices against them. Those who are privileged by virtue of the colour of their skin do not need me to speak out for them. Mike Brown, Kimani Gray, Trayvon Martin, Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, Eric Garner - the countless black boys and men who have lost their lives because of the colour of their skin - the countless who are incarcerated because of the colour of their skin - they do! They need us to speak out and say #blacklivesmatter America #blacklivesmatter World! 

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Let's bring real sexy back

I realise it's been a while...quite a while. Since I last posted in July, I've drafted several blog posts....on Ferguson, on Ebola...on Palestine...on discrimination. All quite sad or angry and none of that have given me the energy or courage or desire to complete. So here I am back on The Hibiscus Notes...writing.

Ironically this is a subject I've blogged about on numerous occasions, in various ways. It's about how we women are portrayed in the media, more specifically the way our bodies are portrayed.

The reason I decided to blog yet again about this...hopefully from another angle is because of a video I just saw - Heather Headley's video "In my mind".  As I watched Ms Headley sing her heart out about lost love - I was reminded of how sexy she is in that video...and yet she's fully clothed. The skin we see is limited to her midriff but in my humble yet objective opinion, she's still hot. It's the way she moves, the flash of a little flesh but not too much that keeps you guessing. That in and of itself I believe is sexy - the promise of more...maybe.

I contrast that to the numerous famous and not-so famous women these days who strip right down to the bare minimum - i.e their birthday suits. Whether on their videos, in magazines or on their Instagram accounts. They regale us with their butt and boob selfies - which not surprisingly have ceased to shock our sensibilities. Each time I see these half naked or very naked women, I can't help but shake my head in the manner my grandmother shook her head when I wore crop tops at age 15. Perhaps with age I've become my grandmother, prudish and judgmental but I'd like to think it's more than that.

Infact I find it almost laughable to observe one famous woman after another engage in one-upmanship - desperate to outstrip her peer - to shake that bare booty harder, faster - to shock by showing more. Although if I'm honest once we've seen you bare butt, oiled up and gyrating in music videos, we've seen your boobs in their full glory and your neatly manicured vajayjay - there's not much else left now is there? It makes me wonder what the future holds for our daughters. I wonder if when they're adults, women will take to performing sexual acts on their naked bodies in order to grab attention because let's face it, it's going to be hard to top a full frontal.

There are many people who argue that stripping down is a woman owning her sexuality... maybe for a few it is...but I highly doubt that the majority of these women are mature enough to fully grasp what that means. Most have simply been told men...that their bodies are beautiful. Either they have convinced themselves, or let others convince them, that this is all they have to offer the world. And so they put it on display.  And of course for some women, their bodies...half clothed or naked, are their money-spinner - some might even say their only discernible talent. And that's all well and good but forgive me for having a hard time celebrating the pornification of my gender.

Interestingly there's been one constant over the decades - the men.... have remain fully clothed. Poor things- how sexually repressed they must feel.

Of course no amount of me ranting or my friends and I lamenting about how we wished the world valued women for their brains more than it does for their bodies, will change the way things are. I've learnt to accept that this is our modern world. Girls will continue to imitate their idols by stripping down to take selfies, or becoming increasingly obsessed with the size of their booties.

And for my part, I will continue to shake my head and secretly pity these body-image-obsessed women. I will continue to celebrate real sexy as demonstrated by the women whose clothes flatter their figures but who prefer to leave the stripping to private sessions with their partners. And the real sexy we see in the confident female commanding everyone's attention in a meeting. Now that's worthy of a comeback.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Sierra Leone's Ebola outbreak and Nigeria's abducted girls - reminders that we need better governments

The kidnapping of the schoolgirls in Northern Nigeria is one of the many recent tragic world events that forced me to turn my Facebook account into a tool for advocacy. Another is the tragedy taking place in Gaza - the senseless killing of innocent civilians, children included. So with the outbreak of the deadly disease, Ebola - starting in Guinea and spreading to Liberia and Sierra Leone - you would think that I'd be riled up and ready to take my position on the virtual soap box. Instead I feel powerless - as though there is not a thing I can say on Facebook that would change the present tragic situation in my country and its neighbours. 
With the loss yesterday in Sierra Leone of the leading doctor - a virologist who selflessly served his people and died doing so - that sense of powerlessness is even more pronounced. I am certainly not one for evangelical pronouncements on social media forums but I truly believe at this point that only God can save West Africa from this disease.
Yet in all my powerlessness, I am also filled with anger - anger at our governments. At the Nigerian government for waiting for weeks before looking for the Chibok girls. At the Sierra Leonean government for failing to take action early enough to stop the spread of Ebola, for not closing its borders. We only need look at our neighbours in Liberia to see how Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has dealt with the outbreak where there are considerably fewer cases and even fewer fatalities. Instead we are reminded that we have a government that is made up of "square pegs in round holes". One whose top ministers are simply not equipped, not experienced or not knowledgeable to do their jobs. These tragedies remind us of how wholly inadequate our governments are.

I recall going to Uganda a couple of years ago for a friend's wedding, this was a time when the land locked country was witnessing yet another outbreak of Ebola. There was certainly concern but overall the government did what it needed to do and the cases were few, and the fatalities even fewer. The effort was led by the Ugandan government - not its citizens.  Yet today citizens of Sierra Leone and Nigeria feel compelled to do their elected government's jobs. We are organizing ourselves to call for the return of the kidnapped schoolgirls; meeting with their parents; lobbying western governments to help. We are raising funds to help fight the Ebola outbreak; raising awareness about how to not catch the disease, and even more importantly, how to stop it from spreading. And while I recognize that concerned citizens of the world are all implicated and should all do our part, I feel compelled to point out that part of doing our part is holding our elected leaders accountable.

Shouldn't we be asking them about why they appoint people who are ill-equipped for certain key posts in their governments? Why are we not telling them, reminding them that they hold the primary responsibility for our well-being? Why are we accepting term after term their underperformance and over-rewarding? It's become commonplace for African ministers and senior officials - correction, even mid-level officials to get rich while in office, all the while doing very little to improve the countries they were elected to run or the lives of those who elected them.

I am angry but not at you, the ordinary citizen in Freetown or Lagos, London or New York, because you haven't posted something about Ebola or the Chibok girls or because you haven't donated to a fund you have no idea will make a difference to those tragic situations. I am angry at the leaders and their cohorts, the greedy, the corrupt, the lazy, the ones who think running a country is a job that can be done in between lining their pockets. I am sick and tired of us giving those fools a "get out of jail free" card so they can stick around for four or five more years to finish building that ridiculously huge mansion. Terrorism in the form Boko Haram and the outbreak of a deadly indiscriminate disease are not matters that should be taken lightly. So why are our governments not treating them with the sense of urgency they deserve? Why is the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health trying to put a positive spin on its daily updates on Ebola - when there is nothing positive about 225 confirmed deaths. More than 100 days since they were abducted, why is the Federal Government of Nigeria not doing everything within its power to find these girls? Why are both Governments acting like these catastrophes are not their's / their catastrophes, first and foremostly? When tragedies strike in parts of the Western world, we hold those government to very high, sometimes impossible standards. We expect nothing less than their absolute best and when they fail to deliver we call for their removal. When will African citizens in Africa and it's diaspora start holding their governments to the same standard? No amount of status updates, fundraising or peaceful marches will #bringbackourgirls or #kickebolaoutofsierraleone without a plan of action from those in power. We cannot do their jobs for them so let's stop trying and let's start telling them to pull their bloody fingers out!!!!

Sunday, 11 May 2014

The joys and pains of Motherhood

I tend to be quite cautious about what I share on Facebook. While I don't want to come across as someone who carefully manufactures a picture-perfect Facebook life -only posting flattering holiday or family pictures where everyone is giddily happy - at the same time I would generally prefer not air my problems on social networks. The trivialities of life are fine - I'd happily tell all about my little missteps, or failings but larger, more real issues I'm afraid have to be left for person to person interaction. So when a friend did what I would ordinarily consider "overshare" today about her feelings of being unappreciated by her children and their father, I must admit that my immediate reaction was to cringe. I cringed not because I couldn't relate to what she was saying but because I thought here she was baring her soul for all one hundred and something of her so-called friends. I almost in-boxed her to ask her what was going on and if she needed to talk. But then I thought better of it and decided to respond directly to her posting my comment for other women who have similar sentiments to read.

All too often mothers are silenced by their peers, their partners, their children, by society. To speak about motherhood in a negative way can raise eyebrows and elicit whispers. Either you end up becoming the object of pity by the self-declared supermums or everyone starts walking on eggshells around you as though you're mentally unstable and could snap at any moment. Yet it is perfectly acceptable to have moments of doubt or misgivings as girlfriends or wives, so why is it unfathomable that we can experience the same thing as mothers?

From the changes our bodies undergo during pregnancy to the incomparable pain of childbirth, to the incredibly difficult post natal period where women either feel overwhelmed by the reality of having a living breathing being that requires their constant attention - to the unbearably painful and emotional early stages of breastfeeding and then the emotional rollercoaster of being all things to our children while managing our household and/or maintaining full time jobs and ensuring we look good enough to dissuade our partners/husbands from straying - women seem to bear it times stoically, at other times with outward joy. For the most part, we realise that the rewards are far greater than the agony we go through - we bear the scars of motherhood with a sense of pride - the stretch marks; the hanging tummy or mother's apron as it's aptly known. We say goodbye to the idea of wearing teeny bikinis because there is this incredible person in our lives, who loves us unconditionally and makes us laugh and smile and cry and we cannot imagine ourselves without them....even if ourselves before them were skinnier and less sleep deprived.

Yet there are times when motherhood does feel like a thankless job, when it takes all the strength and willpower to stop yourself from having the outburst, from crying, from locking yourself in the bathroom and demanding a moment's peace from everyone. There are times when we have to, we need to take a break from the running around and taking care of everyone, making sure lunch and snacks are packed, uniforms are ironed, classes are attended - when we simply need to stop and ask ourselves "who is taking care of us?" And at times the answer we come back with is terribly depressing and yet we still press on. After all, this is our calling, so we tell ourselves, so quitting is simply not an option.

But if we are going to press on as primary caregivers, as fixers of everything - psychiatrists, book keepers, drivers, lovers, cooks, teachers, which I fully accept, surely we should be allowed to scream when it all gets overwhelming. Our genuinely expressed anguish shouldn't elicit cringes from our friends who are all too familiar with the things we're complaining about. We should be able to say that we feel unappreciated without being made to feel like we are letting the 'side' down...not quite coping as expected. We shouldn't feel the need to compete with the domestic goddesses who too, more likely than not, have moments of self-doubt and angst. Most importantly we should be able to tell our children and our partners how we feel. We should be able to ask them to do better, to consider our feelings too without it being seen as emotional blackmail or worse still, that loathsome sexist put down....nagging. 

Because of my reaction today, I want to apologise to all the mothers who've ever felt dismissed by their friends and their loved ones. You are right to feel overwhelmed, angry, taken for granted, even depressed at times. Those feelings are valid given what you go through each and every day. Seeing your children grow or your partner become more successful may not be enough to appease you so my hope is that, like my friend, you will find the courage to tell those who matter in your life how you feel. I hope that they will love you enough to listen and to do something about it - to start to see you as more than just a person whose role in life is facilitate their lives. And more importantly I hope you will start seeing yourself as more than their cheerleader and recognise that you are a person in your own right - that before you were a mother or a wife, you had interests, a goal, a focus! In remembering that, hopefully as mums, we can focus more on taking care of ourselves and being our own biggest fans rather than waiting for the one day each year when the people we show love and appreciation 365 days - return the favour.