#musicamondays #MusicMondays (17)

Welcome to the 17th installation of #musicamondays #MusicMondays, which features music from around the globe. Each song is selected to start your week off on the good foot! One still in the bed and the other in another country…

This tune is a bit of a throw back classic from the Angolan born, Namibian raised Perola. She laments the working woman’s conundrum: success while single. Looking for love… Hope you enjoy this real Kizomba (not that crappy salsa Brazilians are passing off as Kizomba)!

…not in 2016, oh Lord!

static1.squarespaceI’ve come to learn that ex boyfriend issues are like daddy issues. They won’t go away unless you make them. For me, making them hasn’t always been easy. It’s better said that I haven’t always tried. But, as life keeps trudging along I’ve come to realize that a few things keep holding me back.

My first boyfriend spent a great deal of his time controlling access to information about everything – our relationship, his whereabouts, my ambitions. Weird, I know. But ultimately, when you’ve been secretly someone’s best friend for 5 years, you pretty much end up becoming each other’s worst enemy for life. My last boyfriend spent a great deal of his time neurotically controlling his own life and, consequently, controlling basic functions of mine: what I ate, when I worked out, (shit, THAT I worked out), what I wore… What was supposed to be a relationship built around health, actually turned out to be pretty unhealthy. Admittedly, I can blame a lot on my inability to use big girl words when in frustrating situations,*one very important thing I learned about myself in those 2 years.*

Sure, there were lots of short lived crazies in between: a flaky guitar player, a writer/ band producer of some sort, a philosopher, a customs agent, but let’s focus on the big fish…

I’m realizing that parts of my past relationships are holding me back from the future I think I deserve. Better yet, the future I think my family deserves.

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Ok to swim, Greece (2015)

Accepting that there was some island of good in that sea of bad, I’ve got to admit that I have been throwing out the baby with the bathwater. I’m realizing that now, while in a healthy and happy relationship, I’ve been rejecting certain behaviors and experiences for what they conjure of my relationship skeletons. I pretty much stopped working out and I threw myself back into artificial flavors and colors. Defying the controlling relationship my ex had with the food I put in my own body was a huge act of self redemption then. Now, 5 years on,I’ve got to get over it and realize that this act of defiance is no longer befitting. Actually, in his weird way, perhaps he was saving me from my own lack of discipline.

Going back even further, I realized a few years ago that my twenties were spent traveling not just for travel’s sake. I was running away from so many things. In many ways, travel was what justified my need for personal space and the ability to be expectation-less. It stopped my workaholic nature for just a moment, and it gave me some much needed distance from the excellence I was expected to exude. Like the Army reserves, “one weekend a month, two weeks a year” I could do what I wanted with my own life.

Now, perhaps, I have an unhealthy relationship with travel as escape, especially since I travel quite a bit for work – hence, I don’t get my own life anywhere anymore. So what now?

I say all this not to bash the people of my past or the memories of yesteryear but to put into the ether that some of the things I love have grown as a reaction from circumstances I hate(d). And while I’ve come out with all ten fingers and all ten toes, there’s still more to learn.

As we all gear up for the new year ahead, I’d say it’s about time we reflect before we resolve. Let’s do more than make lists about what we will do differently next year, let’s figure out what or who has stopped us all year long (or all these years) from doing what we’re promising now. Confronting the emotions those people, things,or situations conjure is important for success AND for self-correction. And we’ve got to own our role in our past, in order to reclaim direction.

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One thing I’ve learned is that humility never hurts. We are never the victims we believe ourselves to be at our weakest point, but we are certainly never as strong as our best reflection gleams. There’s a large swath of lifetime in between… so let’s inch one step forward in 2016, by taking a glance back.

The power of enough…

IMG_2660Thanksgiving this year was a particularly joyous occasion. It was a holiday filled with way too much food, new friends turned adopted family, and lots of reflection. We prepped, we preened, we prepared and we were preceded to roll out all the stops for a bustling house filled with soul food and cheer. One nagging little thought that reared its little head over and over again was the subtle, but persistent, idea that something was missing.

In all of the abundance of the occasion, it’s hard to believe that something could possibly be missing. After all, we had each other and a barrel of laughs. But, there were a series of absences. There was no flour. There was no working guest bathroom. The lights went out, so we were without electricity for a time. There were “oops, I think I forgot”s and “darn it, I should have brought”s, closely followed by “can we run out and get?”s tapering off with “next time [he/she/it] should come”s. There were phones on vibrate and instatweetbook updates to stay connected with all those who were absent, even with so many people present. And even I found myself thinking, in a sea full of “yes”s, it’s amazing how easily we cling to one measly little “no.” With a basket full of blessings, it’s shocking how fast we critique the clasp that doesn’t keep all the goodness securely tucked in.

Let’s face it, this was my first time hosting Thanksgiving. In my attempt to re-create a holiday from an imagined place of perfection, I tried to transfer a caricature to a completely foreign space, with uncommon ingredients, and unseasonably warm weather. It wasn’t going to be perfect and perhaps I shouldn’t have been striving for it. What I got was a meme that was worth a few chuckles and lots of good memories in the making.

I found myself acting like my maternal grandmother. Apologizing for things that made no sense, acting nervous when my in-laws arrived, pretending to ration out food only to hand out aluminum foil and tupperware with zest. I was antsy and nervous. In the hopes that everyone else was okay and distracted, I pined for my favored pastime of laying across the foot my grandmother’s bed at the end of my first Thanksgiving meal. Why? Because, eating is a tiresome game. And that’s pretty much my role each year – to be a stellar eater.

This year marked a change to my role in this whole play on tradition and traveling calamity, however. I stopped being a taker, the one with empty and idle hands. The one who drops in for a meal and runs away when her plate is empty. The helicopter family member. This year reigned in the era of my being a giver.

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To my mind, a giver always notices what’s missing, because there are many needs and so many needy. There could never possibly be enough to go around, no matter how many supermarkets we go to, how many bags of chicken we defrost and how many invitations we send to friends and family – present and future – there’s a thrust to do more.

While I can’t help but wish Tareeq were here and I’m sure my paternal grandma can’t help but wish Janie were too, for those seated at our tables of giving on Thursday being present was, in fact, enough. Communing, communicating, being thankful and appreciative – in our own individual ways – is a team sport and I found all present to be well equipped.

For me that was a powerful lesson.

IMG_2980What I’ve learned from all of this is simply that while it may always feel that something is missing, I’m thankful that in my circle of family and friends there really was enough. Much like Ekhart Tolle‘s lessons in the ‘Power of Now,’ it just takes a moment of self-reflection to remember that we’re doing our best and we’re doing okay. I could harken back to a time when things were different, dare I say better, but in the moment of saying grace before we ate and in the moments before the last guests left, we had enough… of everything. That’s a luxurious statement to make and an extravagant luxury to experience in these days & times.

So even if just for that alone, I give thanks and anticipate fully the thanks of giving [more than] enough for many years to come.

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Anton Kannemeyer, E is for Exhibition (Stevenson Gallery – Johannesburg, 2015)

 

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,

XOXO

#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.

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The FLY Coach (PHOTO CREDIT: YASMEEN ANDERSON PHOTOGRAPHY)

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!

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