#musicamonday #MUSICMONDAY (56)

Welcome to the 56th 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…

 

Happy Monday from The Sonics Boom, a garage band from Washington state that was created in the 60s and their music still rocks.  I heard this song in a store in Rome and thought, it captured my life pretty accurately. Hope you share in this joy.

Have a great day ahead!

 

musicamondays MUSICMONDAYS (38)

Welcome to the 38th 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…

Canadian (Toronto) bred, Esthero, brings us this lovely melody – Black Mermaid.

There are no words needed, just read along and let it power you through the week!

#musicamondays #MUSICMONDAYS (25)

Welcome to the 25th 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 afro pop tune hails from Yemi Alade who hails from Nigeria.

Now that Valentine’s Day’s mist has faded, ladies, go find your Johnny…QUESTION!

#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)!

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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Ring Side: The story of my engagement ring

Wikipedia Rough DiamondI have never seen the movie “Blood Diamond” and I have never downplayed the diamond to sound less materialistic to men. I genuinely wasn’t interested in diamonds and I thought I had three very good reasons why: 1) I think the diamond industry is monopolistic to the point of being predatory all up, down and through it’s delivery chain. 2) I think the act of gifting diamonds is incredibly uncreative. 3) I think it’s just a goddamn rock. Suffice it to say that I have been avidly anti-diamond since my teenage years, but one year in India changed all that.

I was completely unprepared for the realities of the Indian diamond, gem and jewelry market, all of which made me rethink my previous thoughts. First, while the industry remains incredibly brutal, the industry’s pricing for Indian consumers is drastically less than it is for its Western consumers. The difference is dramatic; often the same quality stone (and often a lower quality gold setting) will cost an American two to three times as much in America than it costs an American in India. Imagine the price drop for an Indian in India. Maybe the delivery chain on that side of the Atlantic ocean isn’t as predatory? Second, when I buy diamonds for myself, that nullifies the creativity clause. Whatever I buy for myself is always incredibly fly. And, third, when the price of said rock becomes affordable, dare I say reasonable, then maybe I can remove the diminutive “just” from my thoughts and acknowledge, without judgment, that yes, it is a rock. A very pretty rock.

Well, it took me a full year to actually buy diamond jewelry for myself. The first purchase was gut wrenching. It was a Mughal style antique emerald and uncut diamond ring, set in what’s probably just aluminum foil. I was too much of a novice then to know that I should not have paid what I paid, but it was pretty and I thought that buying vintage was like recycling – no? No. It’s not and I wasn’t fooling anybody but myself with this shucking and jiving intended to distract from the fact that I was really making a fundamental change. Perhaps, I can only liken the jolt of my buying diamonds to what I imagine it would feel like for me – a pescatarian for 11 years – to eat land-animal meat again. Taking that step would mean that many boundaries, more ritual than moral, would be broken. I asked myself, “is there anything you won’t do?” (If I told you my answer, I’d have to kill you.)

Imagine my shock and awe when I fell in love with my engagement ring. To be clear, I fell in love with the ring AFTER I fell in love with the man. But, the ring and my reaction to it caught us all by surprise – me, my jeweler, and my fiancée. See, both my jeweler and my fiancée had heard my long rants about how I didn’t want a diamond wedding ring and how diamonds were so incredibly boring. I can still see my fiancée’s face now – his pockets disappointed, but his eyes gloated “gotcha now little miss goodie two shoes!” Yea well he got me, literally. Only my visiting friend – ever the touchstone of American stereotypes – reminded me that I was supposed to want a diamond ring. That, in fact, I should want an even larger one than the one I wanted and that I’d be a fool for thinking that now was the time for playing teenage anti-diamond activist.

Yet, for the three of us who looked like deer caught in headlights, the knockdown drag out battle between me and myself raged on for close to an hour. What did I stand for if I would cave now? Didn’t that violate thought #2? Hadn’t I broken all my rules when I bought my own diamond jewelry? Was I being a hypocrite? Did I set this man up to think he would really be able to marry me by proposing with a piece of ivory, when what I really wanted was bling? Wasn’t he stupid for believing me in the first place?

Maybe the answer to all these questions is ‘hell yes.’ All I know is that I walked out of that store an engaged woman and everybody was all smiles. The morally sound little girl inside of me awoke from her slumber, but then she stared into the glow from the pretty, shiny rocks on my left hand and she went to sleep dreamily happy.

I laid that little girl to rest peacefully in India and, gleefully, showed off the symbol of my being a taken woman. In India, people don’t typically get engaged with diamond rings. So, there’s no oohing and aahing over the jewels. They want to know why they haven’t yet received the wedding invitation, if I’m planning to have a nikah or if I want to wear bangles for a full year. In their minds, if the date isn’t set – then what’s the value of yapping about being engaged? Fair enough.

I have no answer for that wedding date question, but first things first! I had to come home to face the family and friends I left behind – those that wished me well and those that clearly couldn’t give a damn. There were the men of yesteryear that said, ‘yea, I saw your Facebook page. That’s him right?’ And my cousin who, 3 weeks after seeing me in person wearing my ring, said “Congrats girl! I just saw your ring in your pictures. You’re engaged, right?” We all knew this day would come, but oh how awkward and social media dependent it was.

Let me say, here more than ever I’ve had to go back to rethinking the ring. Let me just list a few of the questions I’ve gotten, “What kind of cut is that? Why did you get a band? How many carats is it? What’s the clarity? From India, really? He must really love you, huh?” I could go on, but I’m too tired to dig.  Obviously, nothing was ever meant with malice and a lot of the time people sounded more impressed with my ring than even I was. What’s come full circle, however, are the original questions I asked myself about what having, buying, wearing diamonds means to me.

My few self-purchased pieces are really just for show. They are not born from an act of love, or a symbol of ever-lasting commitment. They are not meant to be worn everyday and they are more an investment than adornment. But, my engagement ring – the very thing that binds this man’s heart to me despite the almost 8,000 miles that lay between us – is special. It shouldn’t be a challenge to some teenage rules I lived by to silently shame the De Beers and Oppenheimer families. It shouldn’t be a fall from moral grace. It shouldn’t be a topic of conversation or comparison. It shouldn’t be a symbol of self-doubt.

It should be transcendent. Symbolic of a new era. A time when I don’t owe anyone, but this man, an explanation for my actions, my choices, my happiness, and my glee. For all intents and purposes, this set of rocks is supposed to symbolize change, the forging of a new foundation with a partner. Perhaps, this is a choice that I can make while on this team that I never would have made alone. Dare I say, it never even occurred to me to make this choice when I was alone. As I think about it now, it never occurred to me even when I was previously in serious relationships. What my inner teenager would call being a sell out, feels a lot like being an adult to me now.  In other words, it sure feels like I know ‘he’s the one.’ He, being the man – not the ring.

So, like I said, until about two months ago I was avidly anti-diamond. As of today, I’m madly in love with a man who loves the woman I am today, the raging teenager he had to assuage to get to me and the sleeping little girl that he kisses on the forehead every night via Skype.  For all the things that this ring conjures up of my past and the road that led to that serendipitous trip to Mumbai in October, I am rendered speechless by all that it will mean in the days we have yet to see.

‘Til every last prong breaks, and every last diamond falls out – may we be bigger than our abstract thoughts and open to all the new challenges that this partnership will withstand. May we be strong and light. May we be a rock.

A very pretty rock.

Maidan Garhi Diwali

Gallery

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