What does it look like to open your heart?

Today I stumbled upon the song « Hello My Old Heart » by the rock duo The Oh Hello’s.

Ahhh, this is one of those songs that touches you deeply as soon as you hear the first few notes. One of those songs that brings tears to your eyes without any warning.

It touched me so much that I went to find the lyrics on Youtube. You know, on this kind of expressive song on Youtube, it’s very common to find dozens of comments from people who share the same emotions as you at this moment.

So I went on Youtube to find the lyrics, read the comments. And I saw one, then two, then three, then four that related so well what I’m experiencing right now. I’m putting a few of them here for context:

« This is a song that I resonate with on a very deep level; many are saying it’s sad yet happy. That’s because it is… it’s about closing yourself off from others after being hurt, but in the end realizing that staying safe is no way to live. In the end you need to take risks and set yourself free. To numb the worst pain is also to numb the greatest joys. It’s about accepting pain as a part of life, and refusing to put your heart in an armored cage. »

Ee Synopsis

« The best moment I guess, is the time where you finally stop running away and realize that being hurt is still way better than not feeling anything at all. I’m back again, my poor little, old heart. »

Christine Mae

« There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell » C. S. Lewis in The four loves.
I love how Lewis inspires their songs. This one is my favorite (:

Debora Borges

This is it. Today, I have relatives, friends that I love very much. People I love and who love me back. I have never felt as loved and surrounded as I do now.

And yet, I have never felt as alone as I do now.

Isn’t that a paradox? I feel like I have all the things my heart desires, and yet my heart is not happy. It is even sad, very sad.

I have long since given up hope of ever feeling that joy of living again, that effervescence that I once had. I think I have made up my mind that my time on earth will end this way.


Featured image by burak kostak on Pexels.

What I’m been eating in Togo

The food

I love to eat, I also love to explore new foods. Luckily for me, I don’t have any food-related allergies, and I am very, very curious and open to discovering new things.

The first thing I liked to take regularly was fruit juices. I love fruit juices. All kinds of fruit juice. With the cocktails you can get by mixing them.

This is a juice cocktail of pineapple, carambola (it was the first time I heard of this fruit 😀) and orange. It was too good. I think during the week I spent in Lomé I drank about ten of them, and there was always some in the fridge of the Airbnb I was in.


Next is the « Adokougbi« . This is my favourite meat in Lomé 😭😭. Well…. until a nutritionist friend of mine told me that it’s full of fat and that I should eat less of it.

It’s actually turkey rump. Which is fried in oil. It is eaten with a tomato sauce that is actually too good. The sauce is called « dja« , and it is basically seasoned tomato sauce cooked in oil.

A real delight in the mouth.


Next discovery, a classic dish that I like to eat every time I go to a restaurant: french fries, alloco, meat.

Well, everyone knows french fries I guess. The alloco is what you see in pieces in the middle in yellow there.

It’s a dish of Ivorian origin which is also very popular in other countries of the West African sub-region. Basically, it’s plantain banana fried in palm oil or peanut oil (a matter of preference).

I ❤️ the alloco. When I go for the first time to a restaurant that offers African specialities without alloco, it’s next, directy. I won’t come back to it again 😂.

Next to the alloco and french fries you have beef skewers. And to accompany it all, a tomato sauce and chilli pepper.

You should also see on the picture a fruit cocktail. I think it was pineapple, grenadine, passion fruit.

Here you have a variation of the same dish with lamb instead of beef skewers.


The next discovery is khom. It is a kind of dough, made from corn flour with a mixture of tomatoes and chilli pepper, with fried fish, sardines and thinly sliced onions. It is usually eaten very hot. And as I like to say, it’s a dish that is good for the stomach 😀.

Another photo of a dish of khom that I took at another place. I think we were at the market there.


Well, now we move on to the climax of the show. The dish I’m going to present now is numéro uno on my list of favourites. It’s pounded yam. They call it foufou in Togo, and in my mother tongue it’s called agoun.

For me, eating agoun is a noble activity that everyone should do at least once in their lives. I was born and grew up in a region of Benin where agoun is the basis. We eat it regularly and it is found everywhere.

In this photo, the agoun is accompanied by a clear sauce, which is a tomato sauce (a Togolese speciality); clear as its name suggests. It is also eaten with peanut sauce.


This is it Francesca. What I have been eating in Togo. I hope you like it. I will take care next time to make prettier pictures 😉.

And if I have enough time, maybe I’ll publish regular posts with photos of meals or travels.

My friend, colleague and team lead at Yoast, Francesca recently asked me to share photos of foods I’ve been eating when I was in Togo last week. So I decided to quickly set up this site so that I can share both pictures and descriptions.

The food

I love to eat, I also love to explore new foods. Luckily for me, I don’t have any food-related allergies, and I am very, very curious and open to discovering new things.

The first thing I liked to take regularly was fruit juices. I love fruit juices. All kinds of fruit juice. With the cocktails you can get by mixing them.

This is a juice cocktail of pineapple, carambola (it was the first time I heard of this fruit 😀) and orange. It was too good. I think during the week I spent in Lomé I drank about ten of them, and there was always some in the fridge of the Airbnb I was in.


Next is the « Adokougbi« . This is my favourite meat in Lomé 😭😭. Well…. until a nutritionist friend of mine told me that it’s full of fat and that I should eat less of it.

It’s actually turkey rump. Which is fried in oil. It is eaten with a tomato sauce that is actually too good. The sauce is called « dja« , and it is basically seasoned tomato sauce cooked in oil.

A real delight in the mouth.


Next discovery, a classic dish that I like to eat every time I go to a restaurant: french fries, alloco, meat.

Well, everyone knows french fries I guess. The alloco is what you see in pieces in the middle in yellow there.

It’s a dish of Ivorian origin which is also very popular in other countries of the West African sub-region. Basically, it’s plantain banana fried in palm oil or peanut oil (a matter of preference).

I ❤️ the alloco. When I go for the first time to a restaurant that offers African specialities without alloco, it’s next, directy. I won’t come back to it again 😂.

Next to the alloco and french fries you have beef skewers. And to accompany it all, a tomato sauce and chilli pepper.

You should also see on the picture a fruit cocktail. I think it was pineapple, grenadine, passion fruit.

Here you have a variation of the same dish with lamb instead of beef skewers.


The next discovery is khom. It is a kind of dough, made from corn flour with a mixture of tomatoes and chilli pepper, with fried fish, sardines and thinly sliced onions. It is usually eaten very hot. And as I like to say, it’s a dish that is good for the stomach 😀.

Another photo of a dish of khom that I took at another place. I think we were at the market there.


Well, now we move on to the climax of the show. The dish I’m going to present now is numéro uno on my list of favourites. It’s pounded yam. They call it foufou in Togo, and in my mother tongue it’s called agoun.

For me, eating agoun is a noble activity that everyone should do at least once in their lives. I was born and grew up in a region of Benin where agoun is the basis. We eat it regularly and it is found everywhere.

In this photo, the agoun is accompanied by a clear sauce, which is a tomato sauce (a Togolese speciality); clear as its name suggests. It is also eaten with peanut sauce.


This is it Francesca. What I have been eating in Togo. I hope you like it. I will take care next time to make prettier pictures 😉.

And if I have enough time, maybe I’ll publish regular posts with photos of meals or travels.

Histoire fantastique sur le changement d’heure

Jour 29 du #defi30joursecriture: Écrire une histoire fantastique sur le changement d’heure.


Quand le passage à l’heure d’hiver coïncidait avec une nuit de pleine lune, tous les anciens de la famille Madiou se réunissaient pour célébrer Damballah Wedo, leur dieu tutélaire.

Mais la célébration de ce 31 décembre revêtait une connotation particulière. En effet, ce jour là, Kamila faisait son entrée dans le cercle très fermé des anciens de la communauté. L’événement en lui même était déjà assez extraordinaire. En règle générale, seule les personnes les plus âgées de la famille avaient voix au chapitre dans ce cercle.

Kamila, elle, n’avait que 24 ans. Elle avait été choisie. Elle allait désormais devoir porter la lourde responsabilité de guider la famille vers des jours meilleurs.

Pourquoi est ce que j’écris ?

Jour 28 du #defi30joursecriture: Expliquer pourquoi est ce qu’on écrit.


Écrire pour moi, c’est une manière d’extérioriser toutes les choses que je ne dis pas.

C’est aussi une manière pour moi de documenter ma vie, mes peines, mes joies, mes succès, mes erreurs.

Fin alternative à 5 to 7

Jour 27 du #defi30joursecriture: Écrire une fin alternative d’un film connu.


Arielle retira avec élégance son gant pour laisser apparaître cette bague, témoignage de son amour à Brian.

Surpris, celui-ci s’écria :

  • Tu l’as gardé ? Tu as toujours notre bague ?
  • Oui, répondit-elle. Je n’ai pas pu me décider à l’enlever. Elle représente tant pour moi.
  • Est ce que… est ce que cela veut dire que tu ne regrettes pas notre histoire ?
  • Pas le moins du monde Brian, répondit Arielle. Te connaître a été l’une des plus belles choses qui me soit arrivée.
  • Alors, à demain 17 heures ?
  • À demain 17 heures.

La suite de la 26ᵉ page

Jour 26 du #defi30joursecriture: Prendre la vingt-sixième page d’un livre, lire la première phrase et écrire la suite.


« Ah ! bien se dit-il, elle est forte, celle-là ! Pour une gaffe, c’en est vraiment une », s’écria Leith quand il se rendit compte de la bourde monumentale de Chancelle. Sur le coup, il ne savait quoi faire.

Devrait-il renvoyer immédiatement dans sa région l’impertinente qui avait osé dévisager la duchesse ? Ou juste la sermonner durement et la reléguer aux cuisines du palais ?

En tant qu’intendant du grand palais du duché de Varsovie, c’est à Leith qu’imcombait la lourde responsabilité de s’assurer que toutes les étiquettes de la haute société polonaise étaient respectées dans l’enceinte du palais.

En dépit de toute l’affection qu’il nourrissait à l’égard de la jeune Chancelle, il allait devoir sévir, sans aucune pitié.

Où est passé « Les doigts de l’ange » ?

Jour 25 du #defi30joursecriture: Inventer une intrigue autour d’une œuvre d’art.


Les gardes du palais couraient dans tous les sens ce matin. Quelque de grave avait dû se passer.

« Les doigts de l’ange », le célèbre tableau de la collection privée de Khayr ad-Din Barberousse – le cadet des célèbres frères Barberousse – venait de disparaître. Ce tableau faisait la fierté de Khayr, et il n’hésitait pas à l’exhiber à chaque personnalité qu’il recevait dans son palais.

C’est donc la rage au ventre qu’il allait et venait dans tout le palais depuis la disparition de son œuvre favorite.

Les courtisans, employés et esclaves du palais tremblaient déjà de peur à l’idée de ne pas retrouver le tableau. Khayr ad-Din Barberousse avait la triste réputation d’être impitoyable envers ses sujets quand il était contrarié.

Il fallait donc retrouver le tableau. Coûte que coûte.

Le dernier cadeau

Jour 24 du #defi30joursecriture: Écrire un texte où apparaît le dernier cadeau qu’on vous a offert.


Les meilleurs présents ne sont pas (forcément) les plus luxueux, mais (probablement) les plus pratiques.

Ça doit faire un mois que je me plaignais à chaque fois qu’on sortait de devoir trimballer portefeuille, passeport, clés, masques dans mes poches. Et je suis suffisamment flemmard pour aller investiguer par moi même et trouver la pochette qu’il me fallait.

Aujourd’hui, elle a demandé à prendre mon téléphone, mon passeport et mon portefeuille (étrange) est rentrée dans la chambre, puis est ressorti avec une pochette qui contenait le tout. La taille parfaite, la couleur discrète idéale, tout y était.

Merci :).

Je devais fuir

Jour 22 du #defi30joursecriture: Écrire une micronouvelle de maximum 400 mots.


Ce n’était pas la première fois que je la voyais. Nous nous étions déjà aperçus brièvement à la fête d’anniversaire d’une connaissance commune. Et depuis ce jour magique, elle occupait toutes mes pensées.

Alors quand j’ai appris qu’elle serait à la surprise party de ma meilleure amie ce soir, je n’ai plus hésité une seule seconde : il fallait que je lui dise. Que je lui dise comment son souvenir hantait mes nuits. Que je lui dise comment je n’arrêtais plus de penser à son sourire discret et si charmant.

Alors c’est tout fébrile que je m’approchai d’elle ce soir, un verre à la main. J’étais prêt à débiter d’une traite tout le beau discours que je peaufinais depuis plusieurs semaines ; pour ensuite me sauver aussi rapidement que j’étais venu.

C’est à ce moment que l’évidence me frappa, comme un coup de fouet en plein visage. C’était elle, c’était elle. C’était Leslie. Mon sang ne fit qu’un tour, et avant même de placer un mot, ma résolution était prise : je devais m’enfuir.

Oui, je devais m’enfuir loin d’ici, loin de cette soirée, loin de cette maison, loin de cette femme, loin…