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Oya! Get challenged!

It’s yet another day of challenging yourself. Isn’t this fun? Ok, maybe it hasn’t all been fun, but it’s been life affirming right?

Your challenge today if you choose to accept it is…

Spirit Challenge: Deal with disappointment.
Sometimes in life, we have expectations that are not met. Issues that are not addressed in a way that we would want. Sometimes people don’t act the way we would want them to. It is a challenge sometimes to deal with it. There are some things that we allow to derail us. One problem has us losing focus on the rest of our lives. Today’s challenge is to deal disappointment by acknowledging it, mourning the possibility and moving on to a new and exciting phase of life. Learn how to shrug your shoulders and let it roll off your back. Decide today not to get derailed by things that don’t go right! Let it go, don’t let what could have been,dampen your spirits. Don’t let today’s no, take your focus off tomorrow’s yes!

It’s the 12th day of the Be well challenge!

It’s day 12, how are you feeling? Here at EwellAfrica, we hope you are feeling fabulous, because you deserve to!

Your challenge today if you choose to accept it is…

Spirit challenge: Be grateful.
Count your blessings, literally one by one. Sometimes in life, we get so focused on what we don’t have that we get depressed and frustrated. Today we want you to concentrate on what you do have and revel in its beauty. From the simple to the sophisticated, there are so many things we all have to be grateful for. Take some time and write down all the things you are grateful for and count your blessings indeed.


Mind challenge: Write a mission statement.
Write a mission statement for your life. Write down your vision for your life, where you see yourself in 5, 10 even 20 years. Write down an action plan of how you plan to accomplish your vision. Once you have done this, know that you are one step closer to living the life that you have dreamed about.

Halfway point! Join the be well challenge today!

Day 11…and counting. Ten more days to the end of the 21 day be well challenge!
Have you been taking advantage of these challenges to transform your life? Have you added in more color to your life by adding veggies and fruits into your diet? Have you been exercising? Have you been laughing and jamming like a rockstar? If not, it’s not too late!
Get on board and live your life to the fullest…Be well and prosper!

Day 11 challenge if you choose to accept it is..


Spirit challenge: Mending fences.
Is there someone or are the people in your life that you have a rift with and you know you really need to mend that or those relationships. Relationships that may have degraded over things you did or they did. Maybe you need to forgive, or maybe you need to ask for forgiveness. Either way, today is the day.
Studies have shown that unforgiveness and resentment can contribute to heart disease. Subjects with issues about forgiving where shown to have higher blood pressure, increased heart rates and higher stress levels overall. So forgive someone already, repair broken relationships and live and be happy!


Mind challenge: Quality street
And we are not talking about that box of assorted chocolates! Today we want you to walk down quality street with your loved ones. Spend some quality time with them. Get home early and engage your wife and kids in a game of scrabble, or just take a casual stroll with your hubby this evening. Get your kids to tell you about the best part of their day and you share yours with them. Social connections are vital to good health and the emotional bond between loved ones should be strengthened as often as possible. Small but mighty steps to your overall good health and wellbeing!

Be well challenge, day 10 and counting!

It’s the 10th day of the challenge and your true love is saying to you…Get with the program! Your true love is really you! It’s the best you that is waiting deep inside of you. The healthiest, most positive version of yourself. It’s right here waiting for you. You just have to do the work to reveal it.

Your challenge today if you choose to accept it is…

Body challenge: Work that body!
No excuses, no tory! If you refuse to work your body then the time will come when it won’t work for you. Do something to get your heart pumping today. Run, walk, dance, do jumping jacks, you can even do a staircase circuit, just run up and down the stairs for at least thirty minutes. Thirty minutes of vigorous exercise and add in some strength training. Try doing a plank. Try doing some push ups. Do some exercises to work your core!


Spirit challenge: Choose to do right.
We are all faced with choices everyday. Some of us having been making choices that are hurtful to others. Some of us have chosen to lie and sneak around. Some of us have chosen to cut some people out of a deal because of greed. Some of us are messing with the diabolical because we are so focused on getting what we want.
So today, our challenge is simply this. Do the right thing. We all know right from wrong. We all know when what we are doing is questionable. Integrity is actually good for you. Have you ever been caught in a lie or told a lie and you find that your heart is racing for fear of being caught? Or you live in constant anxiety that something you did will come back to haunt you? This kind of stress is bad for your body, it can lead to a system breakdown. So today, choose to do right and be good to yourself.

Day 5 – Your challenge!

It is day 5! Are you ready for a new challenge? Have you been incorporating the last few challenges into your life? Today is a new day and a new opportunity to transform your life! Join the challenge today and let wellness into your life.

Today’s challenge if you choose to accept is…

Mind Challenge: Take it all in stride. Heaven knows there are so many stressors in our daily lives, from traffic to money to family drama. It can be a struggle not to lose your cool. Granted there are some situations in which it cannot be helped, and in fact some people maintain that on occasion, releasing some steam from a boiling kettle can be beneficial. However there are those people that live their lives in a state of constant stress. If you are one of those people that shouts from morning to night, and everything is a major issue, please be advised that high stress levels are large contributing factors to the onset of many disease states and they are very damaging to our bodies.
So today, your challenge is to take it all in stride. Relax, relate, release!


Spirit challenge: Wish someone well. Put some positive energy back into the universe. There are enough people out there who chant, “e no go betta for you” why not be someone who chants “I wish you well!” and change the balance from evil to good. Contemplate someone in your mind and think about their lives and wish for good things to happen in their lives. If you are religious, pray for them and only for them. Don’t pray for them to prosper so that they in turn can bless you, just be completely altruistic and wish someone, anyone, the best that life has to offer.

Join the Be well challenge today!

It’s Day 3, and you still have time to get on board if you haven’t already. It’s your life, no one can live it but you, so join our be well challenge and make wellness a focus in your life.

Your challenge today if you choose to accept it.

photo from corbis images


Spirit Challenge: Smile at everyone, even complete strangers. Yes a few people may look at you funny, but we are willing to bet that many people will smile back. Studies have shown that smiling can impact your emotions, even if you are sad as you begin to smile, because smiling is typically contagious as people start to smile back, endorphins can be released and that creates a good feeling. Also smiling makes you appear more beautiful and some studies suggest that a sincere smile makes you seem more trustworthy and that tends to make you successful in negotiations. So smile already and be happy, beautiful and successful!

Body challenge: Get some sleep. Sleep is a crucial element to being well. Many of us overachievers go to bed late and wake up early. Over time that sleep deficit will affect your body in various ways. Too little sleep can elevate stress, encourage weight gain, make you look older over time and so much more. Experts say to aim for 7 – 8 hours a night and develop sleep routines, especially if you have trouble sleeping and stop things like watching TV in bed and blackberrying or using your laptop right before sleep in bed because that can lead to an interrupted sleep cycle. Sleep is the body’s opportunity to replenish and renew itself, don’t deprive yourself of this. Turn off the phones and get some sleep people!

So who’s getting with today’s challenge? Announce your intention on our comments board and smile your blues away and sleep like a baby. These are easy challenges guys…watch out, we might soon have you breaking a sweat, so get on board and change your life!

Be well.

Keep on Stepping!

By Yemisi Sawyer

Christmas Excess = New year Bulge.

Ladies and gentlemen, this Christmas, I ate. To translate from the Yoruba expression, and taking some liberties with the English Language, I ate “like a child that doesn’t used to hear word.” If it looked and smelled and tasted good, I was all over it like a cheap suit…

Now, I have the New Year resolution that is so recurring and ubiquitous, I no longer bother to “Write the vision, and make it plain…,” because it is the same every year.

“To lose a few kilos and get in shape.”

To this end, last weekend saw me take a trip into the GAME store, and emerge with a portable “Stepper”. For those unfamiliar with this piece of exercise equipment, it basically simulates climbing a non existent flight of stairs, while claiming to tone your hips, abs, legs and booty, and provide you with an “overall aerobic workout.”

So we’re off..

Climbing…. And climbing… And climbing…

Not getting any higher, but still climbing….

Not moving forward, but still climbing….

Been climbing for hours now and my destination is still seemingly my starting point. With all the climbing I’ve been doing, I should be on the top floor of the Empire state building by now. But alas, I open my eyes and I’m still in that empty corner of my room.

But yet I climb. Why? Because though it may not seem like I’m moving, or progressing, or getting anywhere, another few weeks and months of climbing will speak… to the eba, and the iyan, and the award winning afang… to the delicious devastatingly chocolate- chocolate log cake from Arabas Homemade, and the muffins and Cappuccino Chip ice cream from the Ice Cream factory… to the amazing jollof rice, and Thai fragrant rice… and the moin moin elewe piping hot from the adogan….

I will climb, and unlike Shakira my own hips will lie, and the temptation to buy Body Magic to stem the tide will recede, and my waist will once again emerge from its hiding place as I become healthier and firmer and more energetic and maybe even develop abs for the first time in my adult (who am I kidding? More like entire..) life…

But the key to this new me, I discovered while climbing my imaginary stairs is PERSISTENCE…

In life, as in exercise, we climb, we push, we work, we pray, we dig and sometimes it seems like we’re like a rat on a treadmill, the more we climb the more tired we get and we still don’t get anywhere…

The more we push, the more life pushes back at us, and the things we want elude us…

The more we work, the more tired we are, and we don’t get ahead as fast or as well as we think we deserve to…

Sometimes the more we pray, the more God seems to be silent and we get caught up in self pity, or envy, or worse just give up…

And the more we dig, the more we hit rock instead of the sweet, fragrant wellspring we seek…

But in life, as in exercise, we must keep climbing; keep pushing; keep working; keep digging those wells and most importantly keep praying…

When I get really down, and nothing seems to be working out, these are the truths that keep me going:

*His thoughts towards us are of good and not of evil. To give us a future, and a hope, and an expected end…

*It is His will that we prosper, and be in health, even as our souls prosper.

Persistence has always been a hard one for me. I used to be a natural pessimist and have generally been given to bouts of melancholy and self pity and “woe is me”-ness. I’m coming to see that these things are merely distractions which keep me from where I need to be, and encourage me to give up before I get there. So instead of stopping by the pig pen on the way to the promised land, to wrestle with the pigs (because I will only get dirty, and only they will enjoy it…) I am going to try this year to walk on by, and press on to the target and knock all my baseballs out of the ballpark with all the goals I want to accomplish in 2011…

I resolve to keep going, and keep praying.. No matter what…

So now I see my “Stepper” as a stairway, not to nowhere, but to where I want to be.
And still I climb…

Happy New Year, and Happy New Me :-)

Never stop believing in yourself!

Never stop believing in yourself! No matter how far you have fallen. Take responsibility for your mistakes, recognize and own your talents and gifts and indeed your gifts will make way for you!

That’s what friends are for!

By Yemisi Sawyer

*Singing* “Keep smiling, keep shining, know that you can always count on me… For sure… that’s what friends are for….Through good times, and bad times, I’ll be on yr siiiiiide forever moooorrreee….That’s what friends are forrrr…..”

I always hated that song.

I thought it was cheesy. And irritating. And Dionne Warwick’s nasal twang made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, and gave me gooseflesh. And not in a good way…

But I’ve been thinking a lot about friends. I’ve met some spontaneously, had some thrust upon me, stumbled upon some accidentally and made some consciously. I have a good number of them, and the truth is they are all kind of awesome.

Its so great that you can choose your friends, and that you can de/dis/un-friend them when you are no longer on the same page, when your interests or values or ethics become divergent, or they show themselves to be untrustworthy custodians of your secrets or dreams. (Now, If only one could do that with family members then life would be pretty much near perfect!!)

In the last two years, I have been through some harrowing stuff. And I have to say this… I discovered that I chose wisely. And the ones I did not choose, God chose for me… Planted them so firmly in my life that they have grown roots… so you guys know now, you are not going anywhere…

I have homies who are ready to break bottles and fight for me – some liiterally, lol, and some figuratively, and friends who spend so much time in prayer for me that they have dents in their knees and sore throats from crying out to God on my behalf…

Friends who are clearly psychic, or possess some kind of extra sensory perception because they always seem to call me up just when there is a crisis, and those who listen to me on the phone for hours and hours when I need to vent (Trust me, this is no mean feat…I really do go on a bit!!)

I have friends who will bring out the box of tissues when it all gets too much and sit with me, silently passing me one after another as I sit blubbering incoherently; and friends that will wire me cash they don’t really have to help me out of a fix…

My non-blood brothers and sisters who just sense when I need a hug, and give them freely; who I confide in when I fall, or fail to live up to my own and Gods very high standards –which by the way I often do- and they may berate me, but they never judge me, and they listen when I have things to say.

Kindred spirits, who are not afraid to tell me the truth even if it is painful to hear; who will force much needed advice down my throat like bitter medicine when I act like I don’t need it; and kick me up the bum every once in a while with a steel toed boot, to shake me out of melancholy, or complacency, or anger, or bitterness….

My ride or die peeps who will tell me when something, or someone, is beneath me or not deserving of me; in whose houses I have parking spaces and a designated room, and a free 24 hour pass to the fridge and the stove…

Friends whose children call me Aunty Yemisi, and whose pictures I carry in my wallet; and friends in whose family albums I feature heavily… Who are quick to forgive my numerous offences, and who are quick to not be offended when I forget to stay in touch…

My people, who I may not always see, and maybe who I havent seen or spoken to for months or years, but feel the same love whenever we do talk or get together…

And, thanks to the advent of the Social Network, friends I havent physically met. But who enrich my life in unimaginable ways through their words…

I thank you and I cherish you.

.

You are a valuable and irreplaceable piece of my big picture.

Healing from infidelity

EwellAfrica recognizes the health of a body often depends on the health of the heart and the spirit. When a person is heartbroken or bruised in spirit it can often times affect the body deeply. This article is part of a series that looks at real life issues that can affect people and eventually affect their health.

As African women some of us are programmed to think infidelity is an unfortunate reality of marriage. Many of us became aware at a young age that our fathers or father figures were or have been guilty of this very issue.
‘You know men will be men’ ‘That he lost his senses one day is not a good reason to leave him’. Talk about infidelity among older African women and this is the sort of comment you will hear. For most of Africa, women have no true rights in society. Many countries are not only patriarchal but also oppressive to women in one way of another. In cases like these women do not have the luxury of debating the issues, they simply must deal with whatever is handed out because it is necessary to have a man in order to comfortably navigate through society. The Ibos endorse this when they say Di bu ugwu. A husband is a woman’s honor.

However though many modern African women were raised in societies like the aforementioned, they are also heavily influenced by western standards of love and relationships. Furthermore because open communication between mothers and daughters is not the norm, the only resources for information may have been their peers, movies, soap operas and romance novels. These sources fill one’s minds with notions of relationships that were particularly fantastic. Ideas of kisses that leave one breathless with dreamy soundtracks playing in the background; True love only being expressed by two dozen roses and expensive jewelry. Needless to say that some of us are left so unprepared for marriage and relationships that when real life hits we are as unprepared as a West African village would be for a winter blizzard.

In the western world infidelity in considered one of the great betrayals of one’s spouse. It is absolute grounds for divorce. When polled most women say they would leave their spouse if he cheated on them. However it is not always that simple. Many women have stayed with their spouses after adultery. Why, the reasons are as varied as the individuals, some cite finances, others children and some because they believe that the relationship can survive the act. So we ask the question, can a relationship survive infidelity. If so how does a couple do it? Is there a formula, a better way, or should we even try to work it out?

Tina* a Liberian had been married for 2 years when she discovered her husband had been having an affair since before their wedding. After confronting him, she asked him to leave. “I almost went crazy, I knew we were having problems but I never thought it was as bad as this.” They had been separated for 3 months when serious pressure from family coerced them to try to work things out. “He swore he had cut things off with the other girl and we started going to counseling. During counseling we would just be yelling and screaming at each other. I felt like I could never trust him and he felt that I had trapped him into marriage because I was pregnant at the time; As if I was the only one having sex! It was a very painful time. Most of the time I wanted to just give up but my parents put me under such pressure saying that divorce would bring shame unto our family. Anyway, we tried. At first he seemingly tried hard. He came home early, always told me where he was going, this lasted for about 6 months, but then the late phone hang-ups started coming and I started being unable to reach him on his cell phone for hours at a time. One night when he wasn’t where he said he would be, I took it upon myself to play detective. I found out that he had never stopped seeing the girl; after that there was no turning back. We have a son together and even though he still wants me to come back, any love that I had for him is dead. Raising my son alone is hard but I know I made the right decision”.

If you asked anyone who knows Yinka*a Nigerian and her husband they would say they had the perfect marriage. They are very affectionate and loving. However Yinka* confided that her husband had had an affair in the early years of their marriage. She was devastated when she found out; because she thought her relationship transcended all that. “He was my dream man, I thought our marriage would be like a fairy tale” However when she found out, she was undone. “I couldn’t understand it, what was missing from our life”. They had only been married a year and had no real problems “I mean we only had trivial disagreements, what movie to watch, who should do the dishes, you know petty stuff, we were happy” When she confronted him, he immediately came clean. The most important thing that Yinka wanted to understand was why? It was also the source of her frustration. During the process of reconciliation she kept asking him why and he would always reply “It just happened”. “That used to drive me crazy, because if it just happened once, what’s to stop it from happening again? You know how our men are…they don’t communicate, what saved me was that I had gotten our pastor involved. After they talked, he answered all my questions. It didn’t make everything okay, but it helped me understand him and our relationship better.
When asked if she would recommend staying and trying to work it out, Yinka responded with some ambivalence “I don’t know what I would recommend, every situation is different, as for me, my marriage seems stronger and my husband is more attentive and more loving than ever, we are even expecting our first child, we love each other but I tell you it’s hard to trust again. Me, I always have that nagging fear in the back of my mind, what if?

Enter Gabriella, a self described take no mess woman. She is 36, single and a successful interior designer whose mother is from Haiti and father is from Cameroon; she was raised in Brooklyn. She was married exactly 10 years ago, and within the first year, she learned he had a one night stand. She kicked him out immediately. “Infidelity has always been a deal breaker for me”. When asked how she felt at the time she responded, “I was enraged, it was either kill him or kill myself”. Years later, she frowns when she thinks about it.

No matter how thin you slice it, infidelity in a relationship is always a devastating experience, especially for women. If you choose to try and work through this, experts recommend following these guidelines
1. Recognize your anger and hurt are valid. Under no circumstances should you rationalize away your feelings. Sweeping feelings under the rug and putting on a brave face for the world may lead to greater resentment and even cause self-destructive behavior.

2. Face up to what he did, but only what he did. Do not make excuses for his behavior. If he had an affair, then he had an affair. He must own it and so must you. However it is important that you do not start thinking up other crimes to add to his plate.

3. Try to understand. Infidelity means different things to different people. Many women believe that if he cheats then he really doesn’t love his wife or he isn’t happy at home. Sometimes that has very little to do with it. Dr Shirley Glass who has written extensively on the subject found that 56 percent of the men she sampled who had extramarital intercourse said that their marriages were happy, versus 34 percent of the women.

4. It is normal to ruminate. Some men will say, “why can’t you just let this go”, but it is completely normal to want to go over the details several times. For one thing it is a form of desensitization and secondly it is attempt to see what the red flags were, so you could recognize them again if necessary.

5. However while ruminating there has to be a point at which you stop punishing and start forgiving.

6. All lot of couples are choosing to try and work things out. It is not the same kind of forced acceptance of the affair that we saw in generations past. Women accepting because they had no choices but rather a determination to make the marriage better from both sides.

7. Counseling is not necessary but it can be very beneficial.

8. There are points when it’s okay to throw in the towel. If in spite of best efforts i.e. counseling, family intervention, attempts at forgiveness, that affair is still continued, then a separation might be in order.

9. Loving your husband and trying to forgive, doesn’t make you weak.

10. Both parties should be willing to be open and honest; otherwise it will make it difficult to rebuild trust.
A marriage is not only sacred but can be a powerful tool in the development of individuals, families and even societies. However while recognizing the power of an intact marriage, it also important to note that when one party desecrates the sanctity of marriage then it can also become a negative force in the betrayed spouse’s life. Sometimes it can be so negative that it becomes detrimental to her wellbeing to remain in the marriage and sometimes it can be overcome. It is important to take stock and review honestly your marriage, yourself and your spouse. Some marriages should not be saved, and some need not be discarded so quickly. Infidelity can deal a mortal wound but it is sometimes possible for that heart to heal.