November 15, 2014

Reflective moments — Shifts

Photo credit: Your Coffee Break
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word Shift? For me is working a nine-to-five on a job in the office, or working twelve hours in a healthcare facility. Amongst nurses, you hear them talking about shifts assigned, like Day, Evening, Night shift. I could be diagnosed a Shift-work Insomniac (true story).

January 15, 2014

Reflective moments — Travel

Do you travel?

I travel a lot.   I've been to twelve states in the U.S out of fifty, the District and the Virgin islands; some of them I made repeated visits.  Outside the US, I've been to three different countries.  

To some of you this might not seem like a lot.  I know there are loads of places to visit.  My goal is to do more international travel—Bali, Rome, Tokyo, South Africa, etc are all on my list.  There's just something about travel that you can't learn in a classroom.  I've always admired people who can jet set on a dime, they only need necessities in a backpack.

December 30, 2013

Reflective moments — Roar!

Photo Credit: Chris Penny via Compfight cc
Stand for nothing,

Fall for Everything.

I've been inspired to write this post since Katy Perry's "Roar."  Sometimes it takes the right words to get a message across.  Just few words, not many, opens the door to clarity and the "Aha! Moments."

I think of the various epiphanies I've been fortunate to realize at the stage of life that I'm in.  Suddenly, life makes a whole lot of sense, in a way that I never fathomed.  Ever aim to please?  Does approval matter to you?  Ever been at crossroads where a decision means choosing happiness—either yours or that of others?  I've been asked these questions in one way or another recently.  I've been part of a young man's life since childhood.  Right now he's at a crossroads.  One day he asked me "what do you do when you know you have to make a decision that would make you happy but will end up hurting the people you love?" Growing up as one of the oldest in the household, a lot is ridding on him to set an example for his young siblings.    He knows making an important decision would mean either  putting himself first, or putting his family first, either way he'd make a decision that would either hurt himself or his loved ones.  Does he pursue a financially secure career or a passion with an uncertain future?  For most of his life, he'd been humble and respectful of his family, they've guided and molded him into a fine young man.  Just like men before him, he's of the age where he seeks independence.  He wants to break out of the bubble that's been created for him.  He wants to know what it's like to finally be a man, make independent decisions.  Most of all, he wants to be happy.  He does know, however that he might make a decision that might cause his folks to label him a Deviant.  He might end up displeasing his own family.  Such decision he's not taking lightly. 

September 9, 2013

Reflective moments — Joy

Photo credit: Avery Carlton
Most of us focus on what's wrong in our lives; how we could be there instead of here. We are constantly looking to greener pastures; a place where the rest of our life is waiting with a reserved seat. We idealize "the grass is greener" phenomenon, even when we don't realize it. We fail to appreciate what we already have, nevermind that we probably have what others might deem ideal and a dream to attain.  Thinking about our lot in life can rub us of real joy—one that comes with genuine appreciation, when we realize we are blessed.  Question becomes, what will ever fill our Joy tank?  Does it really matter where we are? Would be? Should be?  What's the guarentee attaining what we want would bring us joy and satisfaction?

I ponder over these questions now, regularly.  The turn of events in my own life make me realize life is not only fair, but good.  I'm in a good place, I always have been to think of it, even in my dire straights.  No matter how unfortunate some of the events in my life have been, I'm still better off than, say a girl in a ravaged third world country, probably mutilated and raped by predators surrounding her everyday.  Not to diminish my own hardships, but I realize the silver lining; I got through them.  I've had to make some bold changes lately, ones that take courage.  The rewards so far—far-reaching.  Resigning to accepting the idea of Life being unfair to me would be defeatist to say the least.  My life so far have played out in a way that I set the tone, aware of it or not.  Oprah once said she wrote on a journal consecutively for 12 years.  In it she wrote down five things she was grateful for everyday, that way she never failed to appreciate the little things that brought her joy; at the end of the day, that's what matters.

The daily rigors of life can be the Joy robber.  It can be a very demanding work schedule, the boss at work that you swear is responsible for your miserable life, always giving you an unfairly heavy workload that constantly pulls you away from quality family time.  The demands on your personal time, the efforts you put in to make sure that a house built by another man functions at it's best has got you fantasizing about your own; that one day you'd want a company with your name on it.  It can be, just simply, a toxic work environment, toxic friends, an abusive partner that has you fantasizing about getting out.   Maybe it's living in an impoverished society where the employment rate is less than ten percent, you're an unemployed graduate and you watch as it seems, as folks drive down roads mined with potholes in fancy cars to their gated mansions.  In that same society, it seems some folks have it easy, they have plenty of money to throw around, while you have no money for breakfast.  You imagine that one day, you will make it BIG; fly out of your hell hole of a country to greener pastures where money grows on trees.  Maybe, you've already done that, you're now on a rat race to the American dream.  You left a well established firm in your home country to try your chance at being American; you're in America and things don't quite play out like your fantasies—you don't get the mansion and fancy cars you imagined you'd get within a short time span you've given yourself.  In fact, you find out Americans have the same dreams and fantasies, they idolize celebrities who seem to have it all; too much money that requires an accountant to manage, luxurious mansions, top of the line driving machines, designer duds that cost more than a working class' annual salary and mortgage, adoring fans, etc.  You can spend the rest of your life trying to be an American.

So you become an American and now you want to be a celebrity; you revel in that fantasy.  Everything else seem mundane and ordinary.  Life doesn't really begin for you just yet until you attain the high status.  You imagine the rush, the high you must feel when you finally arrive.  You imagine being intoxicated in the life.  One thing with being in such a state of euphoria is your problems just seem to dissipate; you feel nothing.  Somehow you'd transform into a formidable force, undestructive, invincible character.  The life you knew no longer exist, you couldn't be flinched with reality.  You imagine that's what life must be like when you attain success.  You do everything in your power in the pursuit of Power; on it's narrow and slippery road, you fake it till you make it.  Even amongst your peers now, they drive down the road screeching the pavement, so you can notice their Mercedes G550 (life must be good for those in luxury vehicles!).

You attain celebrity status, you're now living the life you've always dreamed of.  Life on this side of the ocean is veeeerrry diferent, it rocks!  It's lavish, people seem to have no problems; they are always smiling at you, you've become the new best friend. Once a nobody with no friends, you have lots of them now. You have people catering to you; the most energy you'd expend is uttering words out of your mouth, even that has a price tag.  To think of it, your life—once an entity without value, has a price tag.  Your name demands price, your presence is costly.  Shocking enough, though it might be, there's an abundance of people to pay for it.  Your life has a price even costly to you; it's not free.  You're faced with intense pressure, one that you've never known, you couldn't imagine it, you couldn't be prepared enough for it.  You thought you had disproportionate demands and pressure when you counted your dollars and cents on a paycheck, but the new set is unmatched by anything you've ever experienced.  You now make REAL money, you could probably throw some at just about any problem to make it disappear.  Jay Z is noted saying that the worst anybody could do to him now is sue him.  "What's a couple of dollars to me" he said.  There's an ever increasing demand on your time.  You become a target of just about anyone, you don't know whose out for you or against you. You develop trust issues, emotional distress.  Unwatched, unmanaged, things can really spiral out of control.  You make new friends, because the old ones just won't cut it.  Your new friends—Coke, Pot, Vodka and all their cousins become very dependable; much so that you find yourself lost without them.  You find it hard to function like a normal human being without them as your sidekicks.  The life you once fantasized about, you now have it and it's no longer yours.  It hits you when you realize drones of folks hang on to your every word and gesture.  They're counting on you to guide them.  You became responsible for the world, as undesirable as that might be.

Now you have a different fantasy—you now want a life that's not riddled with complications.  You crave for the times when life was just simple. You want a NORMAL life.  You wish folks would just leave you alone, you want to crawl under a rock and disappear.  At this crucial point is the time to re-examine the important things in life.  Not everyone is lucky to make it back home after being away for so long.  Question yet again would be: do we take the time to reflect on our lives and appreciate it?  Do we write on our mental journal everyday the five things we are grateful for?  That's important if we don't want to lose our way.

Reflecting on my own life, I have come to appreciate the simple things; I'm very content in them.  Arriving at this appreciation is not without cost to my livelihood.  I realize, there are no forces against me.  I can decide to LIVE.  I can make conscious choices as opposed to leaving them up to the universe and hope everything align at their proper place without a hinge.  I decide how my life plays out, I will not be afraid to demand for what's rightfully mine and not feel contrite.  Most importantly, Life is good!

Thanks for reading.
I appreciate you.

June 24, 2013

Reflective moments — Shadows

The following contains language that might be unsuitable to some readers.
Photo credit: Thias  

  If you dont have any shadows you're not in the light― Lady Gaga

Some of us have learned enough to leave them lurking far behind; and for some, they are very much ahead. The decisions we make in our lives are shaped by their existence. You can still hear the voices in your head, you can still feel the weight on your shoulders, dragging you, holding you back. It's not easy to break free. For one, they are weaved into your fiber. Successfully navigating through requires time, experience, work. You have to know what they are exactly to learn how to work through them. They're usually disguised in the familiar, comfortable, safe. They have a strong hold on you and you dread getting out. For one, it's probably all you know. Ever heard a voice in your head telling you, you must do what someone tells you—that sidestepping reeks with repercussions? How about, you couldn't do better? You are nothing without (your answer here)? You couldn't possibly amount to anything on your own? You are such a loser. You most likely ate it up, in turn, it infiltrated your very core, you find yourself walking around in fear.

March 30, 2013

Reflective moments — Pain

"She's a pain in the neck!"  "He's such a pain!" "It's painfully obvious that..."
Usually, obviously, these statements are used figuratively.  These overused metaphors paint a good picture of how someone can make you feel.  Ever had a real pain in the neck (literally)?  I have. It's not a walk in Central park.  First it starts with tension that has your neck tied up in a hard knot, then it forms a network; when I feel the knot it's a rope, and it runs from the my neck's nape down my lumbar region to the small of my back.  If I were to paint a picture, it would look like somehow a network of hemp ropes and cords form in a linear fashion on either side of my spine, causing pain and discomfort.  It's not just pain; it's also lightheadedness and GI discomfort (I told you, not a walk in the park).  My masseuse – Andre have benefited handsomely from my patronage; he is very good at what he does.  Attempts at any relief from those kinks would be somehow meticulously working out the kinks and knots.

December 14, 2012

Reflective moments — Terror.

I woke up to the breaking news that one man have single handedly taken the lives of 27 people, 20 of them are children ages 6-10 school age kids. Ever since I haven't been able to take my eyes off the TV.  I've been watching the CNN and HLN news coverage, flipping between the two channels.  I have been quite vocal on twitter regarding this heinous act.  I've been sick to my very stomach, trying to wrap my head around this recent development and tragedy that have now affected so many lives, especially those parents who got their children up today to rush them off to school, not knowing that would be the last time they will ever see them alive, still haven't seen them dead.

September 20, 2012

Reflective moments — Hate.

When you think of this word, what comes to your mind?

One dictionary defines hate:
 to dislike intensely or passionately; feel extreme aversion for or extreme hostility toward; detest: to hate the enemy; to hate bigotry.

Wikipedia describes hate this way:

Hatred (or hate) is a deep and emotional extreme dislike, directed against a perceived evil. The objects of such hatred can vary widely. Though not necessarily, hatred is often associated with feelings of anger and disposition towards hostility against the objects of hatred. Hatred can drive oneself to extreme actions. Actions upon people or oneself after a lingering thought are not uncommon. Hatred can result in extreme behavior including violence, murder, and war.

By all indications, Hate is a very strong word.

September 4, 2012

Reflective moments — Discovery

I took the Myers Briggs personality test and learned that I am an ISFP; an introverted feeling with an extraverted sensing individual. This profile explains a lot about me, my place in the world, the way I relate to others, perceived by others, my mind's driving force which is mostly my thoughts. Having my SELF described so explicitly became an eye opener and dispels some of the notions I have about myself, people, how I relate to them, how they relate to me; it gives me a sense of peace, I find a new happy place.

July 28, 2012

Reflective Moments — Senseless.

James Holmes in the courtroom courtesy of The Telegraph, UK.
In the wake of recent developments and trending stories of one lunatic in Colorado who decided to take it upon himself and take innocent lives in a movie theater, I can't help but wonder:

July 8, 2012

Reflective Moments — Transition

I've been meaning to write about this inspiring video I watched that was posted in the New York Times made by filmmaker Zina Saro-Wiwa.  The video addressed the growing trend of black women embracing their natural hair. Some call it "transitioning," the "big chop" or "going natural."  Whatever anyone chooses to call it, bottom line is, this has become a movement (I mean all you have to do is google the subject or check out the plethora of Youtube videos on the subject).  In the short documentary, the filmmaker pointed out that this movement has become political; there was a time in our society when the kinky, coily natural African hair was simply unacceptable; not in the workplace, not for majority of society, not even to us African women.  We have long lived by European standards; we strive for it, we work hard to attain it.  We alter the nature or our strands to fit into what is considered the norm and acceptable.  As a result, sadly, most of us have never embraced the hair are naturally born with; sadly, most of us don't even know what our natural hair looks or feels like.  I was perplexed when my aunt chemically straightened her then almost two year old daughter's hair and gave the reason that it was difficult to comb through.  I believe for the most part, when an ethnic woman finally makes a brave decision to go natural, it becomes a revelation, an awakening, a new found freedom.  We love what we discover; we have beautiful coily hair that's nice to touch, we revel in it's texture and how it feels and all of a sudden, there's need to nurture it and watch it blossom and grow.

July 2, 2012

Reflective Moments — Frustration

Ever been frustrated?  We all have.  

We all have aspects of life that make us tick.  For me is life's little unexpected (and unpleasant) curveballs, people that you swear they must have had a nightmare last night and you were it. Ever been to the DMV?

June 3, 2012

Reflective moments — The art of expression.

I picked up this shirt from H&M while I was shopping yesterday.  When I walked up to the cash register to pay, the cashier looked at me and smiled.  The young man said, "Is this for you?" in reply I smiled back at him and said "yes it is." Then he asked "did you see what was written in front of it?" In return I said "yes." I continued to smile at the young man as he rang me up.

June 2, 2012

Reflective moments—Running with the numbers.

Photo credit: BBluesman
It's been 2 months, 2 weeks and 2 days I started this blog as an experiment of personal exploration and discovery.  I've got to say that I have surprised myself.  Ever since I started, my mind have been and still is in overdrive brainstorming.  I have asked questions like: "How do I make this blog better?" "What do people want to read about?" "What do I want to write about?" "What should I write about?" "How do I make this more engaging?" "Should I focus on a niche of interests or should I be more broad spectrum?"
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