This Potrait; National Potrait Gallery, London

On 15 April 1870 William Morris wrote to his wife Janey (who at the time was having an affair with Dante Gabriel Rossetti), ‘I am going to sit to Watts this afternoon, though I have got a devil of a cold-in-the-head, which don’t make it very suitable.’ Perhaps a combination of the cold and his depression at the failure of his marriage accounts for the slightly rheumy look of his portrait. According to Mrs Watts, it was painted at a single sitting, although it is possible that Watts may have done more work on it when it was exhibited in 1880. Otherwise, there is singlularly little contemporary comment on it, apart from a later and well judged remark by G.K. Chesterton that ‘There is something appropriate in the way in which the living, leonine head projects from a background of green and silver decoration. This immersion of a singularly full-blooded and aggressive man in the minutiae of aesthetics was a paradox that attracted men to Morris’. 

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And weeks later, I went to the gallery and saw the Potrait live.

My anti-depressant; Gratitude

Let me tell you a little bit about this small, yet significant part of me.

Whatever challenge I find myself, I have learned something so simple yet so difficult. I have learned to ALWAYS remain grateful. Gratitude is everything. My ‘gratitude-maturity’ is not yet where I aspire to be, but it is working progress..

Living with an incurable (and debilitating) disease is hard enough but top it up with life’s daily challenges (which we all have)- it gets horribly exhausting sometimes.

Some of us are healthy and well. Great!  Many others have to live up to the fact that their heart diseases, respiratory problems, cancers, endometriosis, learning disorders, blood and genetic  disorders such as mine may never be cured.

But we live. Sometimes we don’t. Other times, sadly, some don’t make it.

Quality of life (QoL) is everything.

QoL is my wellbeing, my family, the health system, my employer, my communities, my society. I have a fantastic quality of life, truly. But QoL is not only about what they all give me, it is also about what I give back.

However, I always talk about ‘mind over matter’. Gratitude. A healthy consciousness. Sharing with others. Looking past one’s self. Focusing on others… These are the simple yet powerful aspects of life that have improved the quality of my health, my being.

There is no cure for sickle cell partly because it is still seen as a rare disease that affects a small majority of the global population, which I completely disagree with by the way. But more importantly, because it’s a genetic disorder and we know it’s nearly scientifically  impossible to cure flawed genes. It’s been many years since Western medicine evolved. It’s also been over a 100 years since sickle was first discovered from the Islands of Grenada and today there are millions of people living with this disease globally and people still talk about it being a rare disease?

There are currently only 4 ways to manage sickle in western medicine: (not alternative medicine or nutrition)

 

A double whammy really. These manage our sickle but leave us with potential side effects.

We are left with little or no options.

But I cannot cry over things I have no control over. It is stupidity in its entirety.

I cannot control the fact that there is no cure for this- as people living with cancers, heart diseases, endometriosis, pulmonary conditions etc. We are all in it together.

But I can say ‘thank you’ daily. Because I am left with the star quality of care and support I receive from:

  • My phenomenal doctors and nurses at the Homerton hospital
  • These great clinicians at Guys & St Thomas, UCL, Great Ormond St researching into all these amazing therapies that may eventually pave way to a potential cure for this disease.
  • The UK Sickle Cell Society staff who support me and open doors of opportunities for me to touch lives and spread the message through being a part of the charity.
  • The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) for approving this treatment to support the 15000 people in the UK living with this and putting clinical standards in place that pave for clinical quality in our care.
  • My GPs (even though I barely see them) LOL
  • The Paramedics who convey me to hospital and make me feel so comfortable even when I feel guilty for being sick and ringing them.
  • The entire National Health Service that looks after my retina, my lungs, my red cells, my chest, my pain, my head, my sexual health, my mental health, everything.
  • My Church – for teaching me and reminding me of the morals of being good and keeping faith in God even when I lose it all – sometimes.
  • The Kabballah centre – who teach me not to have the desire to receive for self alone and share love and light but most importantly have built my spiritual maturity.
  • My family and loved ones who continuously show me unconditional love and care when my body is going through its ‘thing’ and is unable to function at its best on some days.
  • My partner who loves me accepts me as I am and does it all
  • Me – for believing in my own strength

 

No, Genuine gratitude has to be the ultimate reason to be here…

 

 

Spring and its seasonal highlights; Kew Gardens

It was exactly a week ago, we walked into the Princess of Wales Conservatory. Look at what we were surrounded with. Colour, warmth, tropical gardens, history of 21st century horticulturists, modern plant hunters, poison frogs in aquariums and man made exhibition of orchids. 

I even giggled in the Palm house when I saw the African Palm Tree that produces palm oil. My mouth watered for home made Nigerian food, cooked with fresh palm oil. 
  

We hopped on the train from West Hampstead. We, being my cousin, brother and I. 

It took us 2 hours door to door to get there. As part of my improvement to a healthier and improved wellbeing, I had decided to be more in contact with nature. Notwithstanding, it was also the last day of the Annual Orchids Festival and it’s grand exhibition. A Sunday in Spring…

Several discoveries of history in this exotic place of serenity. 

Kew Gardens. 

After a quick wander in Kew Village, and some hot chocolate and lemon cake slice in the garden’s cafe, my stroll around Kew Gardens had me. I couldn’t stop staring at the early daffodils. The first heralds of spring. 

 

300 acres with over 300000 species of flowers and plants, you are left with no option but to connect to nature’s green earth. I didn’t connect. I immersed. The clean, fresh air, open green space, the geese, the peacocks, the temples, low steep hills, the Palm house, the grass gardens, the pigeons, the magnolias, the daffodils, into the treetop walkway, the fresh clear water fountains, wildlife and everything that identifies and is reflective of nature is Kew. The greatest preservation and the largest collection of botanical gardens in the world, has to be one of many earth’s gifts of beauty that I can honestly remain grateful for and celebratory to.     
The orchids celebrated the breadth and beauty of the Brazilian Flora. The skies were not blue, they were grey. The gallery represented layers of color, life and beauty. It instantly submersed this English’s gloomy, rainy and cold start to the day. 

  

But as the season is very typical of England’s volatile weather, it wasn’t very long until Kew Gardens saw the skies clear up rather quickly and the sun rays shone on the orchids which lit up in intense colour.

    
Nature is artful
Kew Gardens is art, life.
A garden of magnificence 
My fascination of natural beauty and cultural preservation 
An escape to paradise in London city. 
This natural healing to the mind and body
Sunday memories…