Author Archives: SuzyKnew!

About SuzyKnew!

SuzyKnew! is dedicated to improving the sexual and reproductive health and sexual pleasure of women of color.

When An African Aunty Calls You Under The Karité Tree – By Expatise

A friend is a hand that is always holding yours, no matter how close or far apart you may be. A friend is someone who is always there and will always, always care. A friend is a feeling of forever in the heart. – African Proverb

He who learns, teaches. ~ Ethiopian proverb

An essential foundation of African culture is the vital role of aunties (mums, spiritual mothers, and older close friends). Under normal circumstances, an aunty will never try to replace a young girl’s mother or grandmother. However, her role as an aunty is significant all the same. Aunties can sometimes be pointedly outspoken when it comes to matters of the heart, relationships, your future, and the all too familiar fashion advice. “You should always dress for your shape and never show too much of your body in public,” our younger selves never wanted to hear. Aunties often speak about traditional and religious values, morals and principles, respect for elders, education, your role as a wife and mother, and of course, men. And they provide much-needed cooking lessons. They tend to mitigate the problems one faces in life. They quietly encourage positive behavior graceful movements, and to speak in soft tones around men. But sternly instruct us to work hard, complete our education, save our money, build/buy a house or two, and to love, pray, and care for our children. These, most often unsolicited, but well-meaning discussions/life lessons usually take place under a Karité Tree (aka, tree of life).

Hold a true friend with both hands. ~ Nigerian proverb

Being independent and on my own, since I was 18 years old, I was known for being idealistic. However, I would say I was cavalier in my pursuit of adventure, happiness, and professional success. For a 20-something, I also would like to believe I was a good decision-maker. Mainly since I somehow avoided many distressful situations young women experience in their 20s and 30s, in their pursuit of happiness and success. However, after moving 9,000 miles away from the comforts of family, friends, and the familiarity, God knew I needed a support system in Africa since I NEVER planned on returning to America, other than for short visits, of course. So He brought several aunties in my life. My aunties who accepted me without conditions and each held me with both hands to help navigate me on a steadier path. Especially since life became less idealistic and more realistic – in other words, tougher. From time to time, unsteady footing solicited my aunties calling me under the Karité Tree to speak about the meaning of events and uncomfortable circumstances, to help me clarify my ideas and actions, and what the consequences of my decisions would be. Although some of my aunties are no longer with us, or they are far away from me now, I will always remember them and be grateful for their friendship, love, and support they gave to me while living and raising young Adeleke, my Yoruba prince in Africa.

If anyone finds themselves making a similar move to the Continent, I highly recommend making a connection with aunties and uncles. They can be your moral compass and help you avoid pitfalls, and stay on track to living your best life in Africa.

Let me introduce you to my Pillars of Strength:

Aunty Yemi, our Peace Corps nurse from Nigeria, was gentle and kind. Aunty Yemi, the Caregiver, was skilled at calming volunteers when we would overreact whenever we experienced an unknown ailment. She always cared for us back to good health. Aunty Yemi was also a woman of faith, who loved her family. I will never forget her as being a good listener who had an exceptional skill at allowing me to find my solutions to my problems.

Aunty Rebecca Muluhya, Strength of Faith. My loving, humble, nurturing, generous, and faithful spiritual mother, who never tired of not only praying for her amazing daughters Sally and Edith and husband baba Sally, she never hesitated to pray for others, including me. It seemed aunty Rebecca’s line to God was more direct than the rest of ours. Rebecca’s line to God was most beneficial for me when I had emergency back surgery in Nairobi. Although I didn’t know aunty very well at the time, she knew I was in Kenya all alone, and she and her youngest daughter Edith came to visit me at Aga Khan Hospital. Their visit was unexpected, and their prayers were comforting. From that moment, aunty Rebecca always had time for me. She never hesitated to pray for me or invite me into her homes in Kigali, Arusha, Nairobi, and Kakamega, where after retirement from the United Nations, she continues to serve God by helping orphans and widowers (Founder of the Rescue An Orphan Trust, in Kakamega, Kenya). Aunty Rebecca is loving and kind-hearted. I saw first-hand how meaningful and impactful her work for the empowerment of orphans and widowers are. I am so grateful for aunty Rebecca’s patience with me. Best believe, when there was a need, aunty Rebecca never hesitated to call me under the Karité Tree.

Mum Olamide Adedeji was the epitome of an African woman. When she walked into a room, she commanded respect by her sheer presence. She had a solid spiritual foundation, was persuasive, elegant, graceful, nurturing, and resourceful. She was also a woman with class and style. Mum also had a ‘matter of fact’ quality about her when needed. I am sure this quality was helpful during her role as Head of Office for the UN Mission in DR Congo. When she had a meeting with Presidents Kabila (DRC), Museveni (Uganda), and Kamage (Rwanda) to encourage these three presidents to have meaningful dialogue that would help bring peace and stability to the Great Lakes Region.
Mum was a loving person who loved her family and friends with a passion. Dede, Lanre, and Ade (Gabriel) had an extraordinary place in her heart. I remember assisting mum when she was the Administrative Officer for the ICTR in Kigali. Every morning, after settling at her desk, she would call each of her children, no matter their time zone (8:30 AM in Kigali, meant 3:30 AM in London 😊), to pray and spend devotional time with them.

Having an exceptional quality about her, mum Adedeji embraced and ‘adopted’ other children, young and older, as her own. She mentored and motivated so many of us – giving us advice (and instructions), love, and support.

Known as mum’s American daughter, I will continue to hold precious memories of the times we spent together, whether we were in Kigali, Kinshasa, Kampala, Nigeria or the US, mum always invited me to spend time with her. And yes, for gentle correction and guidance, mum, too, called me under the Karité Tree now and again to help navigate me through some of life’s challenges or keep me from making more less-than-smart decisions.

Mamita Olga Simpson, Cultured and Educated, had a pure and kind heart. There was not a day that I remember ever seeing Mamita without a warm smile on her face. She was loving and patient and never hesitated to meet with anyone in need of non-judgemental ears. Another woman of incredible faith, Mamita was the mother of four beautiful and accomplished daughters – Fifi, Dupe, Bayode, and Finayon, and by the reflections in her eyes every time she spoke about them, we felt her love for her girls.

I am thankful for all the moments Mamita and I shared fasting and praying during the Lenten seasons. The social functions we attended together in Kigali and the US. The stories about Mamita’s childhood, her accomplished family, her love of art and culture, and African history she generously shared as we ate delicious West African meals together. My siblings and I will always be thankful for the friendship my mother Olivia and Mamita had, and the times they spent together in Kigali and the US. And I am happy that my aunts, cousins, and friends in the US had an opportunity to meet Mamita as well. There were times Mamita called me under the Karité Tree.

Aunty Binta Sall, the Madame! Tall, elegant, stylish, kind, and a straight-shooter – honest and forthright with a fun spirit that even has the younger generation laughing with her. Aunty Binta, a woman of faith who is thoughtful and always willing to share her culture, family, and enchanting stories about her upbringing with me. She often uses humorous anecdotes that make us break out in laughter. At the office, I recall watching aunty from a distance as she greeted others with animation and a bright smile. Aunty Binta is cultured, and an accommodating host with fantastic hospitality – my siblings and I will always be grateful for the kindness she showed my mom during mom’s time in Kigali as well. And I will never forget the fun time I had when she selflessly hosted me in Senegal – arranging an incredible itinerary and scrumptious thieboudienne – my favorite dish.

Dear aunties, how blessed I have been to have had you as encouraging Pillars of Strength. Your listening ears when life was unkind, your faith in me that I would be fruitful in the various career choices I pursued, and your friendships that supported me when I needed that extra boost to face realities of life. Thoughts of you all and the fun times we shared continue to bring warmth into my heart and a smile on my face. I am thankful for all the experiences and your light.

Love,
Alyson

Alyson is the creator and founder of Expatise.  Read more about Alyson’s personal story as an expat and desire to connect with like-minded people who share her love for Africa, passion for service, and need for travel escapes.

Fertility Friday: Fix Your Period!

This weekend we share Fertility Friday’s interview with Period Warrior Nicole Jardim. This podcast explains how periods don’t have to be painful, out of control heavy, crime scene worthy, unpredictable, or otherwise horrifying.

If you’ve experienced ridiculous mind-numbing pain with your periods, heavy flow that’s so much more problematic when you laugh or sneeze, irregular bleeding, or no bleeding (i.e. a missing period!) — Fertility Friday wants you to know that there’s hope!

The interview delves deeply into the topic of histamine intolerance and how it can impact your cycle. If you’ve ever noticed that your allergies, sensitivities, and even your mood changes depending on where you are in your cycle, this episode will explain so much!

Topics discussed in today’s episode:Lisa Hendrickson Jack

  • Why it’s so important in understanding your bodies health cycle and realizing its less complicated and starts with the fundamental basics
  • Understanding the symptoms of histamine issues in the menstrual cycle and how they can change cyclically in your cycle
  • Why do some women struggle so much of producing extra histamines and some women do not produce and extra amount of histamines
  • What the first steps in determining if your histamines are affecting your menstrual cycle
  • How cutting out high histamine products from your lifestyle can help in finding out if it is effecting your menstrual cycle
  • What is the correlation between Gut Health and menstrual cycles issues and how GI issue play in with histamines

Click here for the podcast and more information.

Click here for Nicole Jardim’s book Fix Your Period.

Do You Fight To End Deaths Caused By Abortion, But Fight For Your Right To Cause Deaths By Not Wearing A Mask?

Ladies, it’s amazing how many people oppose a woman’s right to have an abortion because they believe it kills unborn babies but demand their right not to wear a mask which could kill numerous people through the spread of COVID-19.   But, this is where we are these days.

A woman who opts for an abortion is ending the life of one fetus. But, someone who decides not to wear a mask and who has the Coronavirus (knowingly or unknowingly) can end the life of a lot of people.  Unborn babies don’t have state-recognized names  or social security numbers not to mention a whole life that impacts so many. But, a person’s carelessness and callousness could kill and ruin perhaps hundreds or thousands of lives. This is a lot deadlier and more pernicious than an abortion. This is how we got from 1 death in the States in January to over 100,000 deaths in May. But you wouldn’t know it from some people’s reactions and how the media just doesn’t “go there.”

Such attitudes and actions about mask-wearing show a disregard for life and show a person for who he or she really is. You can’t call yourself “pro-life” and so concerned about “innocent lives” and then go out and risk killing people or making them morbidly ill because you don’t like wearing a mask.   Perhaps such people are fighting more for privilege – than for life.  They want the privilege to determine their own comfort over the risk of getting people sick or killing them. They don’t care about unborn babies as much as they care about their own discomfort over abortion.

Yes, ladies, I am a proud mask-wearer. And, I’m a proud “shamer.”   I will shame you, if you try standing too close to me.  You could be a family member, a close friend or someone I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. And, I have no shame in telling someone to put a mask on when I see them without one in a store.  And, yes, I cross the street when I’m out walking and people are walking towards me.

Ladies, I am not giving anyone the right – or privilege – to kill me.

Keep it healthy!

Keep is sexy!

Use Gwen Ifil Stamps To Show Your Determination

Perhaps you ladies are more in the know than I am, but yesterday I went to the U.S. Post Office and almost fell over when I saw stamps honoring Gwen Ifil, the groundbreaking African-American journalist, who died from breast and endometrial cancer in 2016.

Yes – Gwen graces the 43rd stamp in the Black Heritage® series. She was the first African-American woman to host a nationally televised public affairs program, PBS’s Washington Week in Review. She was the program’s longtime co-host from 1999 until her death in 2016.

Gwen was known for her intellectual rigor, tenacity and integrity as a journalist.  In 2008, she moderated the vice-presidential debate between Senator Joe Biden and the then Republican governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, among many other achievements.

Gwen was a fighter all her life. Perhaps what put her on a trajectory to major success was when she made a bold move in her career by leaving the Washington Post after 7 years in 1991 when they told her they felt she wasn’t ready to cover Capitol Hill.   Proving them wrong, Gwen joined the New York Times where covered the White House from 1991 to 1994.

Gwen Ifil died young at 61 years of uterine cancer – a disease, which robs so many of us of our lives.

Ladies, put these stamps on your next correspondence to show your determination to make bold moves, lead with integrity and highlight the importance of improving Black women’s reproductive health.

For more SuzyKnew! articles on Gwen Ifil see: Uterine Cancer On The Rise

 

Don’t Be Fooled By The Mask

Ladies, don’t be fooled by the mask.  Melania doesn’t care about your life any more than her husband does. Since the virus hit the U.S., Melania has been largely M.I.A. except for this brief PR move that came out in early April, months after the Coronavirus was declared a national health emergency.

After Michelle Obama reached out to offer her services to the mayor of Washington, DC, where the virus is particularly affecting Black Americans, people of color and the poor, Melania got back in the game of being FLOTUS and launched a PSA* about best practices to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.  She now appears – of course – sans mask. Her husband mocks the mask so it’s not surprising to see Melania ditch the mask, as well.

The other day,  I got a phone call from Michelle Obama (yes, I live in Washington, DC) telling me about free Coronavirus testing. I haven’t gotten a call from Melania yet.  And, I’m not waiting for or expecting a call from her either.  Her husband says the country has all the tests it needs and doesn’t need any federal government help in stepping up manufacturing of tests, ventilators, or PPE – nada.

So, Trump won’t invoke the Defense Production Act to make more tests available which all public health officials and most governors say are sorely needed to reduce the spread of the virus and save lives.  But,  after hearing how many Black and Brown people are dying from the virus, Trump invoked the Defense Production Act to keep meat packing companies open – places where hundreds of workers, most who are Black and brown, are dying.

By keeping workers in dangerous conditions, by not ensuring the availability of PPE and provoking people not to wear masks (A couple of weeks ago, everyone was out wearing masks. Look outside now, and no one is wearing a mask… What happened?),  Trump is literally killing us. Especially US!

More Americans have died under Trump than under any other president in modern times. Trump has managed to see more Americans die than a foreign adversary has.   If this isn’t a sign Trump is a foreign agent, Ladies, tell me what is…

Keep it sexy!

Keep it healthy!

 

*PSA – Public Service Announcement

Fertility Friday: How Does Stress Impact The Menstrual Cycle?

Lisa Hendrickson Jack

This weekend SuzyKnew! shares Fertility Friday’s podcast on how stress affects the menstural cycle. Face it, Ladies, we are all stressed out with the uncertainty of COVID-19.  Deep down, we know the world, as we knew it, will not return.  Everything has changed and will continue to change. Facing this new reality is scary. The stress is messing with our heads – and our cycle!

Topics Lisa discusses today in her podcast include:

  • How stress or other factors can delay the pre-ovulatory phase of your cycle
  • Signs to watch for when acute stress may affect the post ovulatory phase
  • Examples of chronic stressors and how they may affect your cycle
  • How charting can prevent your from going totally off the rails when dealing with stress
  • Why optimizing your sleep is so important when dealing with stress
  • Benefits of meditation for reducing stress
  • Why taking a media fast may be so helpful at this current time

Click here for more information and the podcast.

 

Should You Abstain From Sex This Good Friday Evening – To Fight The Coronavirus?

Ladies, today is Good Friday. A time for fasting and reflecting.

I ran into a question online “Should I abstain from sex on Good Friday?”

A Catholic priest answered, saying as long as you are with your husband, it’s not required to refrain from sex on Good Friday.

But sacrifice and prayer is a way to focus our prayers on important issues. Coronavirus is definitely a big issue wreaking havoc on our world. If you know someone who is suffering from the virus or want to provide support to caregivers, here is a Coronavirus prayer from the president of Methodist Conference:

A prayer for the world

God of love and hope, you made the world and care for all creation, but the world feels strange right now. The news is full of stories about Coronavirus. Some people are worried that they might get ill. Others are anxious for their family and friends. Be with them and help them to find peace.

We pray for the doctors and nurses and scientists, and all who are working to discover the right medicines to help those who are ill. Thank you that even in these anxious times, you are with us. Help us to put our trust in you and keep us safe. Amen.

For hospital staff and medical researchers

Gracious God, give skill, sympathy, and resilience to all who are caring for the sick, and your wisdom to those searching for a cure. Strengthen them with your Spirit, that through their work many will be restored to health; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

From one who is ill or isolated

O God, help me to trust you, help me to know that you are with me, help me to believe that nothing can separate me from your love revealed in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

May you have a peaceful and joyful Easter and Passover.

 

 

Fertility Friday: Gut Health, Digestion, And Your Fertility

Ladies, we are all nervous about Covid-19 these days and focused on our health. Now is the time to learn how our digestive health can impact our fertility.  Listen to the featured podcast interview with Dr. Haylee and Kristin, who take a unique functional medicine approach that gives couples the tools they need to get to the root cause of health and fertility struggles, conceive successfully, and set their babies up for lifelong health from the very beginning.

Today’s Fertility Friday Topics discussed in today’s episode:

  • Factors that can cause your bowels to go wrong
  • Signs that something could be going on with your gut health
  • Who to go to if you suspect you are having gut issues
  • Tips on how to find specialized naturopaths in your area
  • What is a normal day/week for the digestive system
  • What is considered constipated vs. diarrhea
  • The benefits of the Bristol Stool Chart for determining your stool type
  • How gut health impacts fertility

Click here for the podcast

 

 

How To Ride Out COVID-19? Vibrator Guides

Ladies, we are clearly deep in the age of the Coronavirus (COVID-19),  a highly contagious virus that is a killer.  It’s a killer of intimacy and closeness, too.

Although you can’t get COVID-19 from sex, you can get it from your partner’s cough, sneeze, saliva – and touch. This means it’s safer to take intimacy and sexual pleasure into your own hands – literally.

Just days after the International Women’s Day, what more powerful next step can you take than to select the vibrator for you to ride out the long nights of COVID-19.

Below SuzyKnew! provides several reputable lists of Best Vibrators for you to spend your partnerless nights pondering.

For more on vibrators see F.N.’s Buzz… Here Comes Heaven…

Women’s Health Guide to Vibrators 2020 by 23 Experts

 

 

 

 

Marie Claire’s The 51 Most Popular Vibrators, According to the Experts 2020.

 

 

 

 

Healthista’s 7 Best vibrators for women

 

 

 

 

 

Fertility Friday: All About Menstrual Cups

This weekend we share Fertility Friday’s podcast episode on menstrual cups – specifically reusable menstrual cups!

The episode covers the most common questions about using menstrual cups from insertion and cleaning, to emptying your cup in public washrooms! Nothing is TMI in this episode, and you’ll definitely want to tune in if you’ve been considering making the switch!Lisa Hendrickson Jack

Today’s episode is sponsored by INTIMINA™. Discover a healthier, cost-effective and eco-friendly alternative to disposable period products. Made from 100% medical grade silicone, INTIMINA’s reusable menstrual cups are body-safe, ultra-smooth and hygienic.

Click here for the podcast and complete post.