A B C s…

abc-award-1Be forewarned. This is cheesy. And it’s about 3 years old.  I stole this from a blogger [“The Curvy Spine”] who recently liked a post I did & is a fellow Jersey girl… and apparently, she got tagged by another blogger [“Nissi Knows”]… and I have nothing better to do on a weekend night, but relive my teenage years when Yahoo! chat rooms dominated my life and, on occasion, I’d get an email questionnaire that made me reflect about adulthood to come. Told you this would be cheesy!

The deal is that I’ve got to go through the alphabet talking about myself and biggin’ up other bloggers. This is, I can do…

If your blog is placed here, consider yourself awarded the ABC award. You can accept by copying the theme and passing this practice on.

Africa, my new continent of residence.

Bossip.com is my secret online tabloid vice. Maybe not so secret…

Canada is the first destination to which I took my eldest Godson for his annual birthday trip. It was my way of forcing him to get a passport and get on a plane.

Delhi is where I met my husband.

Elephants have been my favorite animal for a very long time.

Frankfurt is the city that my husband and I last visited together.

Geneva is the one place my grandma ever wanted to visit. We went over Christmas/New Years 2005-2006. I vowed never to take a winter vacation to a cold weather destination ever again.

Harlem is the only place in America where I would ever want to raise children. So much for that pipe dream now. Thanks, gentrification!

Isaacman is the author of the book I’m reading right now.

James Baldwin is one of my favorite writers and one of my historical muses.

Kinani means dance in Shangana & it’s come up as a possible baby name.

London is the only city I’ve wanted to live in that I haven’t yet lived in. Live long… it could happen.

Maboneng is my favorite neighborhood in Johannesburg and, hopefully, it’ll be home in 2017.

New York City is the only place on earth I feel at home, at peace, and inspired – at the same time.

Olympus is the brand of voice recorders I just bought. I bought 3 at one time and I’m so proud of myself for it. Who needs to rip the house apart trying to find the one voice recorder I have 10 minutes before I’ve scheduled an interview? Well, not this girl. Not anymore!

Photography has been in my family for generations. If I actually publish the travel photo book I’ve had in my head for the past few years, I would officially make the third generation of photographers on my dad’s side.

Quran is the religious holy book of Muslims (like yours truly). I have only read it once and I’m long overdue for a re-read.

Reading is my favorite activity, which is shared by fellow blogger Kinna: http://kinnareads.com

Strawberry shortcakes are my traditional birthday cakes. My mom has ensured that every birthday that we share together, there is a strawberry shortcake to celebrate the new year. American style too, none of that British with a biscuit fakery.

The Bitchin’ Dietitian is a blog i follow regularly, though I have to admit I’m a couch potato who has reconnected with my affinity for butter and salt. But, I do love to read it as if I have self-discipline and/or access to ingredients!

University of the Witwatersrand is where I’m studying to get a PhD. Proud Witsie over here!

Violence eradication is the purpose of this blog that I follow: http://understandingviolence.org 

Wife. The newest of my many hats. Dare I say, the title is starting to grow on me.

Xenophobia is a term that I’d never heard of until about a year ago. I’ve learned a lot more about it this past year traversing South east Africa.

Yebo! means yes in Zulu.

Zanzibar is the latest trip plan I’ve made to come together with my ‘Mixed Masala Marriage’ crew. We came started earlier this year in Dubai because we’re all in intercultural marriages and trying to find balance. Next year, Zanzibar!

The End.

the best laid plans

My dearest,

I am unable to quite say goodbye, because in many ways I’m still in denial that you’re gone. It was only a short time that you were in our lives, but the vacuum you have left in your absence is one that will take years to fill. Maybe you remind me of the child I should have had – intelligent, funny, peaceful, passionate, and loving. What wasn’t there to love about you? I had never actually seen you mad, despite your sisters’ taunts and the painful ordeal that took you away from us all.

It feels like yesterday that we heard that something wasn’t right. That something would never be right. And I cried that day for you. I was so afraid of what you must be thinking. To believe that something is wrong with you is something that I never wished for you. Someone so perfect shouldn’t leave this life thinking that they were wrong somehow. But, that was the case and you drew the short straw on health. Yet, in other things you were so rich. After all, you had me at hello and I decided that you’d be mine forever.

Forever was so short though. And I have not yet made peace enough to say goodbye. As the pastor said so rightly at your funeral, we all thought we’d see you lead this country. We had such high hopes for all that you’d bring to this world. In your eyes there were experiences that many ten times your age had never seen. And in that big brain of yours there was the imagination of a man who would bring us solutions. You always had an answer and, oddly enough, it was easy. Never harsh, always thoughtful, and so simple. Be nice and do the right thing.

But God had/s other plans for you that are bigger than our plans.

As tio told me as I sobbed, “you feel like destiny cheated you, right?” Well, I certainly could not have said it better. That’s exactly how I feel. I feel robbed. I feel mad and I feel wronged. I feel confused about where to direct my rage and my emptiness. And you, my love, aren’t here. I can’t imagine what your parents are feeling, because they saw this day well before we all did. I can’t imagine what they think of my outburst of emotion. I can’t imagine so many things, including a world without you and with it all the big plans we had.

When I heard you were gone I knew for sure that I’d have to revisit a conversation I had with God about this time three years ago. It’s an old wound that gets reopened on occasion, but after you – I’ll need stitches.

God and I had many a biting conversation at that time and in that ordeal I grew some level of respect, rather than fear for the big “G.” What I learned then is that peace is a painful process. It isn’t a simple resignation to allow events to occur around us. Instead, it’s a constant cerebral negotiation between logic and emotion, participation and recusal, love and loss. What all this pondering and crying brought me was an understanding that forgiveness is an act that I don’t need to engage in with humans. It is the one act that I reserve fully for God. With humans I come to peace, but with God I have to forgive.  Not that God needs my forgiveness, but much like with terrorists you can’t negotiate with God.  In my mind, that ends the conversation on peace.

The terms and conditions of peace are beyond me when the power dynamic is just so skewed.  There’s an end game that’s beyond this generation or the next. There are puzzle pieces that are unseen and there are reasons that are never articulated. In the end, peace is a game of war for equals. Forgiveness, however, is an individual and personal choice.

So, I knew the day that I heard you were gone, I would have to work privately to measure my forgiveness quotient again. I’d have to forgive God for taking you away, for cheating us of what you were supposed to become. I’d have to forgive God for thinking that you were more needed elsewhere, beyond where you were loved beyond words. I’d have to forgive God for making you leave this world in such a harsh way. And I’d have to forgive God for thinking that all of this was right, when it is so apparent to all of us who knew and loved you that this… this… was wrong.

So, while you’re up there and fraternizing with the big “G,” do me a solid. Maybe your being there is an opportunity to speak truth to power. In your easy, imaginative, solution minded way, could you explain that this really sucks for us? Empathy maybe is a human emotion that we expect God to share, but perhaps that’s a faulty assumption. Could you maybe explain it – in very simple terms of course? It hurts to lose someone you love. And it’s very little consolation to think they’ve gone on to heaven. Physical and emotional pain linger for all of us, not just the one taken. We live hamstrung by survivor’s guilt. We feel lost for a time. We never really get to say goodbye and our hearts are never fully at peace. By we, I mean I. But, I can’t be alone in this.

I hope you remember that we love you very much, present tense. Your 5 short years were so action packed that we’ll be talking about them the rest of our life time. We hope that you know that our absence from your life isn’t our choice and that your absence from ours is no one’s fault. That, my love, is your homework for the next life time. And we’ll all be very appreciative to you for it.

With that, I simply want to say that we love you. We can’t forget you. And I hope you’re simply not resting in peace. I hope you’re giving the next world all the greatness and joy you planned to give to us.  Such talent can’t be wasted and such love can’t be for naught.

Forever yours,


#musicamondays #MUSICMONDAYS (6)

Welcome to the 6th installation of #musicamondays & #MUSICMONDAYS, which features music from around the world. Each song is selected to start your week off with a new energy and new country(ies) to explore! You’re welcome ;)

Papa WembaCongo (Congolese Rumba)

Giving Birth to my Vision Board

IMG_2545The first time I ever heard about a vision board, I was in a restaurant in Melville, Johannesburg with my friend Michelle. We were talking about all of the things we wanted for our businesses and our plans for the coming year. She had been working on an online consignment shop concept for many years but hadn’t yet brought it to market. And me, well, I have a million little hustles going at any one time and often no sleep and no quality time with my husband to show for it. She mentioned all the things she has on her vision board and how they’ve helped her focus. I immediately laughed at her and thought she was a quack. Dinner continued and developed into a night of NYC inspired debauchery and life went on…

Fast forward to last month. I was in the US and Europe traveling for a while to recharge my battery and reconnect with family. During these long plane rides and alone time while everyone is at work, I usually have time to refresh my goals. I get inspired by remembering all the things and people who made me.



So, I started reading blogs by the FLY Coach and Christine Kane on visualizing success and they brought me back to that table in Melville a few months ago. My quack of a friend didn’t really explain herself very well when she dropped the vision board reference in passing. After doing my own reading, I totally saw the logic. For years I have had annual lists of projected accomplishments. In short, they were glorified to-do lists. They required minimal revision throughout the year and usually 90% of the list was completed by year’s end. Success! But, recently I’ve drifted away from the validation of accomplishments and focused on the long-term. You can’t really put, “Be a better person” on a to do list and be empowered to go out and achieve it. This vision board, though, really fills in the gaps.

The logic here is that you use images of what makes you happy, fulfilled, accomplished and loved to create a board to remind you to go after that vision of your future. Not everyone’s idea of “be rich,” for example, look alike. So, you’re tasked to be specific: create a collage of pictures that match how you want to feel and that look exactly like what you want for yourself. Interesting things emerge.

I found that things I expected to have on my vision board weren’t what eventually made the cut.  In fact, I was looking for someone rolling around in a pile of money, but that picture never came up in my stack of Latina, Bona, Real Simple and House & Leisure mags. I also expected to have something about travel, airplanes or globe-trotting crop up. Ditto – there isn’t so much as a beach image with a mai tai or a paper plane heading towards palm trees.

P1070335Looking at my board with fresh eyes this morning, there are a few things that even I am shocked by. First, I used glue. I hear that many people like to use push pins or something that isn’t as permanent. Rather than having to scrap the whole board or paste over it, they like to switch out images as they no longer become relevant. Maybe it was just a beginner’s boo boo, but I also think maybe the glue shows both how committed I am to these concepts and how much I think each piece is integral to all the others. Second, there are 6 children on my board. We agreed on 5! But somehow on the family side of my board there’s an extra body. I intended to add the very last one to the work side of my board, but the kid with the Kindle ended up with the other babies. Good thing we’re ok with adopting.

Third, the work side of my board is racially mixed; the family side of my board isn’t. I suppose that’s just my reality, but it’s very telling. Proximity doesn’t mean integration and rather than fighting that, I’m happy to embrace the fact that I will produce healthy, intelligent Black children raised in a loving, successful, two parent household. So few kids have this in the world and I’m committed to this vision for my own. Fourth, all the images of a de-cluttered home were supposed to be paired with the words for the cities where I want to buy new property. Instead they’re in a section between work and family that’s labeled “Sleep.” The images are actually of a bed and pillows. Subliminal much? Last, when it comes to work, my vision board doesn’t include anything about my PhD, my day job, or even my multiple side businesses. It focuses on being a writer. All in all, I knocked my own socks off with this vision board. I’ve drilled down to the most important and most essential images that reflect what I want to be my future. I’m a believer and I’ve just begun to use it this morning!

I’m not sure what vision board sharing etiquette is, but I’m beginning to think that it’s supposed to be a sacred secret. My friends who have them refer to them vaguely in Facebook posts, but never really tell us what they’re after. I think you’re supposed to keep it in a place where you see it everyday, but I’m not sure what that means for your family who have to walk past your future every single day of their lives. I don’t quite know if you can share it after you’re no longer using it or if that jinxes it somehow. I’m still new to this. But, I’m proud of what I’ve compiled and I had to share the journey with people who would appreciate it. Maybe now, I sound like a quack too or maybe you’ve had one for years and this is letting you revisit what you already know. But, if you’re also green on vision boards, I hope you’ll give it a try. I found that my vision for my future doesn’t match the words I use in my daily life. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, so long as I have some way to stay grounded and remind myself of what success, love, and ‘a life in full’ really mean to me. My vision board’s got my back!



I have been horrible. Not writing. Not dropping knowledge. Not sending you sweet little nothings on this beautiful blog of mine. But, have no fear. I haven’t forgotten about you, I’ve just been on the road to Greece, South Africa, USA, Frankfurt and back to my beloved Mozambique. So, let me try a different medium to share my life between the clouds and above the noise.

Live Music (If you only open one video, let this one be it!):

Follow Kitchenmess on twitter (@Kitchen_Mess)

Live Music:

Beach Life:

Sunset Zen:

The Southern Atlantic ocean in winter:

Performance outside Durban:

Enjoy the sights and sounds from around the world. Global people, you inspire!

#musicamondays #MUSICMONDAYS (3) Anniversary Edition!

Welcome to the 3rd installation of #musicamondays & #MUSICMONDAYS, which features music from around the world. Each song is selected to start your week off with a new energy and new country(ies) to explore! You’re welcome ;)

This song is near and dear to my heart as the original by Nina Simone (North Carolina, USA) was my wedding song just about a year ago today! If you ask little ole me, Rebecca’s is THE best modern rendition of the old classic.

Rebecca Ferguson Liverpool, England


Things I am going to go ham *sammich* on when I get home!

People say that when you travel, you miss the weirdest things – JIF peanut butter, Kleenex travel packs, and seat belts in cars. I have got to concur fully, but I’m privileged to have the vast majority of America’s creature comforts, including working seat belts in my car. Nevertheless, there is always something worth missing about home and I’ve just built up enough homesickness to explode. Without further ado here is the list of things I miss most from home. I bet you can’t guess the order of importance!

I love you written on the sidewalk in chalk --- Image by © Tomas Rodriguez/Corbis

Image by © Tomas Rodriguez/Corbis

Sidewalks – So underrated and so essential to quality of life, sidewalks not only keep people from walking (where? you guessed it) in the middle of the road, but they also reduce my likelihood of striking an innocent person while driving to the supermarket. Phew! I can appreciate that and I can’t wait to take that daily burden off my plate. I also plan to take long walks on top of said side walks and to cross the street using cross walks (or as South Africans say ”zebra crossings”) that lead to new side walks. I have never missed cement so much in my life!

Tap water – I can’t wait to put my whole head under the faucet in my sink and drink without fear of cholera. Oh you hoity toity suburbanites will say, oh but there’s lead and there are pharmaceuticals and unfiltered fecal matter in tap water. Eff you nay sayers! If I could show you the green water that runs near my house and the trash infested sewer system that dumps right into the Maputo bay where fishermen eagerly catch seafood to later serve to unsuspecting tourists… then you’d understand that the grass (and the water) is, in fact, greener on my side of the world.



Ethiopian food – Culinary variety is something I’d taken for granted until I moved to India and couldn’t find anything for under $50 a plate that was served sans turmeric. Now, I’m in the heart of southern Africa, where food is fresh but deliciously predictable. Mediterranean is supposed to be a variation on Portuguese fare, but it all tastes the same – full of olive oil, garlic, onion and tomato and hot sauce, if you’re feeling adventurous. Eff that! I am going to eat so much injera I burst and anything made without garlic and onions will be the dish for recurring breakfasts and I may overrate restaurants on zomato.com as a result of my palate’s pure enthusiasm for stimulation.


Thieboudienne – benstew.wordpress.com

Haitian *Poisson frit, black rice, and green plantain* AND Senegalese *thieboudienne* food – Anyone who knows me knows that my post colonial studies have taught me a very important lesson. African people colonized by the French make the best fish dishes on earth. I don’t know why this is the case, but it’s true and I dare anyone to contest this fact with proof on a plate. Let me say that I’m not particularly fond of French food. I find it even more underwhelming than Portuguese food, but you can bet that I’ve never tried a Martinican, Haitian, Malian, Senegalese, Ivorian …I could go on… fish based dish that I didn’t like (i don’t eat other animals so I limit my praise to this narrow sliver of the culinary world). So, I plan to eat these dishes up like cookie monster before childhood obesity campaigns gave him veggies. Caution: I may need a bib.

Bookstores with chairs and a cafe – I go to South Africa and all I can think is… I wish I could sit down right here and read this book over an over priced coffee with soy milk and then put the book back before the store closes. In Mozambique, I think… I wish there was a bookstore with interesting books for leisure reading – a bestseller not by Paulo Coelho or Mia Couto would be nice. This means I order from amazon and sit at my dining room table, wishing I was in B&N at Union Square. I’m going to get hella cozy on the floor when I reach home and the only thing I’m paying for are the extra shots of espresso!

Mom’s Organic Market – They say that every cloud has its silver lining and of my 3 years stuck in DC this (among Bikram yoga, a size 4 waist, being close to my bestie Elyse, and lots of free entry to the VIP section of clubs) tops the list of positives. Mom’s beats Yes! Organic market, though Yes! has some vegan cookies that I can’t find anywhere else. I skip Whole Paycheck, I mean Whole Foods, because the prices and the self-righteous customers make me look bad. Mom’s is like a home away from home and I love discovering new things that won’t poison my body with toxins. Oh, and they give away free samples!

Shitty Day (and Night) Time Television – I am going to O.D. on Mob Wives, every Housewife series on Bravo except NJ, True Detective, Game of Thrones, Jerry Springer, Maury, anything on O! and TLC, House Hunters, Homeland, Basketball Wives, Love & Hip Hop, Empire, Power, season 6-8 of Madmen, and pretty much anything that doesn’t have a Kardashian in it!

62-KeyLimePie_1-menusKey Lime pie at Bubba Gump Shrimp – Graham Cracker crust. Period.

Face time with my Fam & Friends – I am eternally grateful to the makers of Skype, Vonage, facebook, gchat, and cellphones, but there’s nothing quite like a hug. I can’t wait to have my family and friends close enough to see their faces when I piss them off. It’s a really precious thing to know that no matter how close or how far apart we are, we can always be ourselves – face to face. No hiding behind screens or spotty phone lines. I can’t wait to poke my niece’s singular dimple and sleep in my mom’s bed! Priceless!

Ate breve U.S.A!