Houston trip review

They say everything is bigger in Texas and that definitely holds true even for the food. My best friend is Vietnamese so she oriented to the best place for pho (soup). I have had plenty of pho in my life but this was on another level as it was served with a bone full of bone marrow. One thing that is also big in Houston is the graffiti which I totally had to pose with throughout the trip.

Secondly, the events were popping that weekend. On Friday, we attended an African fashion show held on a hotel rooftop which was very cool. As expected, those in attendance were dressed to the max and I did my best to do the same. As part of the show, different well dressed were nominated from the show (including myself). Surprisingly, I actually won best dressed. Thank you mom and dad for good taste lol.

On Saturday, we enjoyed some wonderful South African food from a restaurant in Houston known as Peli Peli in the Galleria mall. I love lamb and the lamb did not disappoint although the portions were small. Apparently, the portions are bigger for dinner as compared to lunch which is what we had opted for. They also have a wonderful chicken liver dish which was surprisingly tender and juicy. Afterwards, we joined my best friend’s coworkers for a bicycle bar hopping event which was basically a bar crawl except you ride bikes to and from each bar. We were fashionably late mainly due to me so we met everyone at the final bar which is a baseball themed bar called Eighth wonder which had fun games like corn hole and several food trucks to peruse from. We chose to try some pulled pork ribs with fries and jalapenos that were actually quite a hit (Pictured below). To close the night, we opted for Korean Karaoke which is much easier than normal karaoke because you get a private room for you and your group instead of having to sing in front of random strangers. A fun night of belting the wrong notes was had, so much so that I low key lost my voice for a bit.

On the final day of the trip, Sunday, we had tacos for breakfast and actually went to church. The church was a very progressive church and the sermon series was about science and religion. As such, they held a panel that Sunday with different church members that work in the scientific field. They had an online forum where those in attendance could send questions for the panelists to answer which was very cool. Afterwards, I had a while before my flight so we decided to venture into Ikea as I had never been there before despite the fact that Boston has Ikea as well. I was pleasantly surprised that most of the furniture there is actually very affordable and very functional.

This was actually my second trip to Houston. Last time, I was there was 2016 and I hope it won’t take me 2 years to make another trip there. Thanks for reading. 🙂 ❤

Self-love: Love is a Verb.

bday pic 2018I would like to start this post by thanking God for granting me another year on this planet as this was my birthday month. I think this year was one of the best years I have ever had. This year was characterized much maturity and love. Love from others but most importantly from myself. Recently I stumbled upon a song by John Mayer titled “love is a verb”. After looking up the lyrics for the song, I felt like sharing them with everyone I know. But instead of spamming people’s inboxes, I decided to include them as part of this post. So here are the lyrics from the song “love is a verb”.

"Love is a verb
It ain't a thing
It's not something you own
It's not something you scream
When you show me love
I don't need your words
Yeah love ain't a thing
Love is a verb
Love ain't a thing
Love is a verb

Love ain't a crutch
It ain't an excuse
No you can't get through love
On just a pile of I-O-Us

Love ain't a drug
Despite what you've heard
Yeah love ain't a thing
Love is a verb
Love ain't a thing
Love is a verb
So you gotta show, show, show me
Show, show, show me
Show, show, show me
That love is a verb

You gotta show, show, show me
Show, show, show me
Show, show, show me
That love is a verb

Love ain't a thing
Love is a verb

I hope these lyrics help people to realize that love really is a verb. You can tell who loves you by their actions. In fact, my dad has always told me that “love is taking care”. Taking care of others and most importantly, yourself. Because if your love for yourself is so strong it means that you are taking care of yourself so that you might be able to love/take care of your neighbor/lover as you do for yourself. Thank you all for reading my blog. I do not take your support for granted.  I hope the next time someone tells you that they love you, that you don’t believe them unless they have actually shown that through actions. 🙂 ❤

4 things learned from Charlamagne’s Black Privilege book

I have to say that I mainly read Charlamgne Tha God’s book (Black Privilege) because of the hype. I am not an avid listener of the radio show The Breakfast Club which he co-hosts. I will admit that the few times that I have watched it, he does appear to have a “no bets are off” approach to interviewing people. This is pretty bold considering that he has previously been fired from radio a record number of FOUR times. So this guy has been told “we do not need your services anymore” four times and he still sticks to his radical radio host approach. Now he is even on TV and is one of the most recognizable radio personalities in the U.S.A. Well, he must be doing something right especially considering that at the age of 18 he had already been arrested twice for being involved in drug dealing. Yes, this autobiography is truly that and you’ll come to find out that CThaGod actually has a lot of depth in his thinking and his personality. Here are the four main lessons I learned from the book:
1. Be honest and real to everyone, including yourself. If there is anything that CThaGod is known for is his raw and unfiltered candor towards everybody. This guy calls everybody out from Kanye to Jay Z without a second thought. In an industry filled with YES-men, CThaGod chooses to be the breath of fresh air that gives it to you straight. People will always be apprehensive of criticism but those who are interested in personal growth, usually appreciate it.
2. Connect to your inner God. In his book CthaGod explains that he has been influenced by a Nation of Islam group known as the Five Percenters. This group believes that we are all gods as God lives in all of us. As such, we should all have the ability to tap into our inner strength and wisdom to align ourselves to our true purpose. CthaGod credits this alignment with his inner God to his success and therefore, we must not neglect our spirituality when seeking worldly success.
3. Work for free if you have to in order to get the experience you need for your dream job. CThaGod started as an intern on a radio show in South Carolina and worked his way up to a weekend radio jock. He then got fired from that which eventually led him to work for the Wendy Williams radio show. Since the Wendy radio was just starting out, they were not able to pay CThaGod and he was fine with it due to the invaluable experience he gained from the opportunity. If you haven’t noticed, Wendy also follows the “I am going to ask tough questions” policy as that is ultimately what listeners want to hear. Infact, CThaGod states that Wendy told him that there are two options in radio: a) represent the industry by being nice to artists or b) represent the people (listeners) by digging deep in the questions. Clearly this non-paid experience paid off in the end.
4. Opportunity comes to those who create it. The title of CThaGod’s book is Black Privilege and it is a bit of an over statement (is that a word?). Essentially what he is trying to argue is that everyone has their own privilege which can be as simple as having two legs and two hands. Yes, there might be people with more privilege than you whether due to race, class, gender, etc but you can use your unique privilege to get where you want to in life. In my opinion, CThaGod’s privilege is that he was able to gain fans through his uncanny ability to say what others would shy away from saying. As such, he comes to the table with a loyal fan base that will probably continue to grow over time as long as he stays true to himself.

In my opinion, this book provides hope despite what our current circumstances may be as hard work and opportunity is the classic recipe for success. Thanks for reading 😃❤

Guitar cover of Free Fallin by John Mayer/Tom Petty

I know it has been a minute since I have posted a guitar cover and to be honest, it was because I chasing perfection. I recently started listening to a podcast called Jesus and Jollof with Yvonne Orji and Luvvie who preach about not chasing perfection as most of the time it leads to procrastination. So here goes a guitar cover that is far from perfect but I am glad I finally got it done. The song “Free Fallin” is originally by Tom Petty but most famously to me by John Mayer. Every time I listen to this song, I literally feel like I am free and to be free is to let go of all worry, doubt, and fear. So here is my new life mantra: “I am free”. I hope you may enjoy my cover and the original song (both of which I will post below). Thanks for reading and listening. 🙂 ❤

 

 

How comparison is and is not the thief of joy

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hollywood walk of fame, Sept 2018

         I know this is a complicated title but I think it is going to make a lot of sense in the end. So I recently watched a sermon by Steven Furtick who is the lead pastor at Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. In his sermon, he talks about confidence and how we must lose confidence in the flesh (ourselves and other humans) by gaining confidence in the Lord. He also addresses how our comparison to others can be a bad thing while comparing ourselves to Jesus/God can be a good thing. Why? Because God/Jesus isn’t using mad filters and great photography angles while wearing Gucci sandals to post on Instagram. God/Jesus is perfect and therefore, does not have to fake it till he/she makes it. God/Jesus does not even have a star on the Hollywood walk of fame. Therefore, when we look up to God/Jesus we are pursuing an authentic purpose where comparing ourselves to other flawed beings is pointless.

            This sermon really touched base for me because I have been/still is that person that is faking it till they are making it and setting unnecessary pressures on myself because I have confidence in my flesh. Really I should be reminding myself of the grace that God has given us to make mistakes and not be perfect like him/her. So recognizing that you are just human is really important especially when your role models are humans. I came to realize at the end of my college years (my last graduation was last year by the way so I still remember them pretty well) that all the people I looked up to were inherently flawed. There were professors that I looked up to due to their work ethic but their love life was in shambles. There were career mentors that I looked up to who valued work more than mental/emotional health. All this kind of crushed me at first because I had to re-evaluate what I was chasing but eventually it led me to have peace and faith in something greater than myself.

            I initially discovered pastor Steven Furtick when I was going through that tough re-evaluation time where I had a lot of anxiety about the future. Despite being very hip and wearing Yeezy’s to church which some of the older generations would frown upon, Furtick has really great messages and I find him pretty funny which is a great quality for a pastor to have. I think if I lived in Charlotte, I would go to church every Sunday but since he is not, I watch him on YouTube. For those curious about him, I will link this particular sermon below. I hope you may find peace and meaning in your life. That to me is Nirvana (enlightenment) but that is a story for another time.

 

5 things I learned from the Marshall movie

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The Marshall movie was released last year starring Chadwick Boseman (the Black Panther himself) as probably the most famous black lawyer, Thurgood Marshall. Thurgood Marshall won several landmark cases during the civil rights era such as Brown vs Board of Education which lead to the end of segregated schools. The movie however focuses on one specific case where a black man is accused of raping his white female employer. I don’t want to ruin the movie for anyone but let’s just say Marshall is the lawyer you would want if you were accused of something you didn’t do. The only sad part about the movie is that for a $12 million budget, the movie only made $10 million at the box office which is not a reflection of how good the movie is. So go out there and watch this movie because I definitely learned a lot from it.

  1. Haters gonna hate. We all know this modern proverb but imagine if you’re in the 1940s where segregation is the law. Would you let the stereotypes that white people had about your race let you think less of yourself? Your answer then should have been No and your answer today should still be No because there are still people who have segregation mentality.
  2. Always have the mentality of a winner no matter the odds against you. If Marshall could win court cases in the segregation era, you can win at whatever you put your mind to in this era. In the movie, there were so many factors that were against Marshall and his partner but they never took the easy way out. They faced threats for being involved in the case and still went to work like everything was okay. They did their best and that is what life is about. So go out there and do your best.
  3. Sacrifice is inevitable. Due to Marshall’s career that took him all over the country, he did not get to spend a lot of time with his family. This was clearly difficult for him but he knew that helping attain civil rights and helping the innocent from erroneous prosecution was bigger than him. He was purpose driven and eventually, he became a Supreme Court Justice. In essence, he is his “ancestors’ wildest dream.”
  4. Keep a good circle of peers around you. Marshall was friends with Langston Hughes and other black artists at the time. His peers kept him grounded and reminded him of his purpose which is really important especially when times get hard.
  5. Have strong morals and values that you hold yourself accountable to. Marshall once said that “You do what you think is right and let the law catch up” meaning that the law is not always ethical. In your career, there are policies that might not actually be helpful to people and sometimes doing the “right thing” is better than doing things in the supposed “right way.”

May we continue to honor those who have paved the road before us. And may we all continue to be our “ancestors’ wildest dreams.” Thanks for reading. 🙂 ❤

5 things I learned from Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

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I want to start by saying that every autobiography of a successful person always emphasizes the value of hard work. I think it is somewhat implied in this summary especially in my first thing that I learned from Shonda Rhimes book, Year of Yes. So let’s dive right in.

  1. Check yourself. Recognize what is holding you back in life. Are you comfortable in your unhealthy lifestyle where you put work first and yourself last? Do you not spend enough time with your family? Are you in unhealthy relationships just because you are afraid of being alone? Shonda shares that she was pretty antisocial and was more comfortable working with her imaginary characters, with her favorite being Cristina Yang from Grey’s Anatomy. It wasn’t until her older sister told her that she is afraid to say yes to things that she decided to dedicate a whole year to saying Yes. Throughout that year, she grew as a mother, friend, work mate, and most importantly as an individual.
  2. Learn how to say NO. Essentially, say Yes to saying No. Before her Year of Yes, Shonda admits to finding it difficult to saying no to people. When people realize you don’t know how to say no, they start to take advantage of you. For example, think about the person that takes on extra work because everybody knows that he/she won’t say no. Don’t be that person. Learn how to set boundaries or you will find yourself drowning and the person responsible for the drowning will be you. I’ll end this with one of my favorite quotes: Don’t set yourself on fire trying to keep others warm- Penny Reid.
  3. Know yourself and never compromise who you are for anyone. I do not want to ruin the book for anyone but I think it is common language that Shonda has not birthed any children. However, she does have 3 children. Like Oprah, she doesn’t really believe in marriage. Despite societal norms, she has come to accept that she doesn’t need a man in the picture to have kids or even to raise them. I am personally very option to adoption of children so I was glad to read about a woman who shares similar unconventional values.
  4. Know what love means to you, including self-love. Yes, we should all love our bodies but what if we are in an unhealthy state? Should we not love our bodies enough to treat them as much care as we can. Shouldn’t we understand our unhealthy coping habits like eating lots of ice cream or drinking excessively, etc. Yes, I think a little bit of tough love can be self-love (like saying no to that extra piece of cake when our bodies are screaming yes). If somebody didn’t treat you right, you are quick to think they probably don’t love you. So when we are quick to trash our body, then we should recognize that we are not practicing self-love.
  5. Find your gladiators and love the hell out of them. Your gladiators are the people that fight for you, root for you, and also put you in check when needed. They want nothing but the best for you. They do not limit you to who you are now. They see the best possible version of yourself and push you to strive for that. They know your weaknesses and strengths yet they want you to face your fears. And if you are their gladiator, then you do the same. Be their Olivia Pope, without the being mistress to the president part.

Thank you for reading. May you say yes to the things that scare you. May the year of yes transform into a lifestyle as it did for Shonda Rhimes, the queen of Thursday night television with Grey’s Anatomy, How to Get Away with Murder, and Scandal under her belt. 🙂 ❤

Trip to Los Angeles review

 

  1. The people. I think no matter where you go, the people always play a major role in how much you enjoy being in a place. Luckily for the city of angels, the people are pretty nice. I will say the people in Orange County are even nicer and I am not just saying this because my friend lives there. I didn’t see any fights break out when we are enjoying the nightlife so I am going to take a guess that people are also pretty laid back as they are typically described.

 

  1. The food. Man oh man. The food was amazing. I tried street food, restaurant food, and food trucks. None of the food I had in California disappointed me even a single bit. I had so much Mexican food (tacos, divorciados egg breakfast), that I should probably be able to speak Spanish by now. I seriously had the best taco of my life from a food truck at a food market (Smorgasburg, LA) and it was a pork taco, which I don’t typically eat (unless we’re talking about bacon). I have been to markets in other cities before: Boston, Nairobi, and Cape Town. I will say the Smorgasburg and the market in Cape Town are tied in my heart (mainly because South Africa really knows how to do burgers). See pictures below.

 

  1. The events. My friend and I had come up with a pretty solid itinerary of events that we wanted to go. The Friday that I arrived we did a club/bar crawl in Downtown L.A. where we got to experience some really cool spots, including some clubs/bars that were underground and were renovated bank vaults. The second night we went to an African club that had an awesome DJ that kept playing the best afro-beats all night long. On the third night we ended up at a Jamaican party and later at a Kenyan party with DJ Fully Focus being the headliner. Both events were really cool and how we ended up at some of these events was divine intervention as they weren’t part of our itinerary. So moral of the story is, definitely have a plan but be also open to other experiences when they arise. See pictures below.
  1. The places. If you’ve ever watched any shows or movies set in Los Angeles, you already know it’s a beautiful city. What stood out to me is that despite being such an urban place, there is so much natural scenery for your eyes to behold. From mountains to the palm trees (btw the palm trees there are so majestically tall), your eyes never lack stimulation. We went on a hike near the Hollywood sign and it was very scenic. We also went to Venice Beach, which not only had a beautiful landscape but also a lot of opportunity to people watch. What also impressed me about Venice Beach is that there a lot of activities to do like renting a scooter, skateboarding or watching other people skateboard, exercising or just enjoying the ocean. Lastly, we also checked out the Hollywood walk of fame, which was pretty cool because there are a lot of people on that street (especially tourists) so you really get to experience the big city feel. Also, I got to take a picture with Michael Jackson and Adam Levine’s star because who doesn’t love these pop stars.
  2. The weather. If L.A. wasn’t so expensive, I would move here just because of the weather. No humidity, no snow, and very little rainfall. The place is basically a desert terrain but it doesn’t feel to dry. I will say that their oceans are pretty cold though as compared to the Gulf Shores. All in all, L.A. probably has the best weather in the U.S.  Until next time, L.A.ers. Thank you for a wonderful time.  🙂 ❤

5 travel tips that decrease stress

eye shadow pic

Because I am extra, I decided to try out the eye shadow look that I want to do when I am in Los Angeles later this week. This is like my third time playing with eye shadow for real for real so I am pretty proud of myself for achieving this look. But as a person that understands that practice makes perfect, I will continue to learn and get better. Similarly, you get better at traveling by, yeah you guessed it, traveling. In hopes of lessening the heartache of learning the lessons the hard way, I have come up with 5 tips that really help decrease unnecessary stress when traveling.

  1. Do your research. Know what you need to travel to that place whether it be drivers’ license or passport. Know how much the trip is going to cost in terms of travel, shopping, food, and housing. Look up what events are happening during the time you are planning to visit. All these questions can be easily answered by google.
  2. Budget appropriately. If you are traveling to a different country, know the exchange rate in dollars (for example 15 South Africa rand equals 1 dollar). Knowing this exchange rate of the top of your head is really useful so that you can do “quick maths” whenever you are shopping. When I traveled to South Africa in 2014, I took a quick detour to Kenya where the exchange rate is 100 Kenya shillings to 1 dollar and I forgot the rand to dollar exchange rate. I came very close to buying a temporary phone for $100 dollars thinking I was spending $10 because I was doing the Kenyan exchange rate instead of the South African one. That would have knocked my budget pretty badly so yeah know your budget and the exchange rate, if applicable.
  3. Figure out the timing. Are you going during a peak season or off season? Peak season may be a good thing because you are very likely to meet a lot of travelers and there is likely more to do. However, peak season also means things are more expensive due to higher demand. Off season may be better due to cheaper travel expenses but will the season allow for the same activities you want to experience (such as beaches, carnivals, etc).
  4. Pack light. This is my biggest mistake in traveling. I always over pack no matter where I am going. For a 3-day trip, I pack clothes that would last a week because a girls got to have options right? But yeah I always end up regretting it because I become clumsy as hell when I am trying to hold on to three bags at the same time. Actually, I am just clumsy in general but hey that is a story for another time.
  5. Have an itinerary for the trip. No I am not just talking about your flight itinerary. I mean sit down and plan out what places you want to visit. Try to plan it out by day because somethings like museums might not be open on Sundays. If you get there with no plan, most likely you will waste a lot of time trying to figure out what to do. So why not plan ahead and use your vacation time to just enjoy the vacation.

Above all, have fun no matter what happens! Happy traveling! 🙂 ❤

5 tips on how to survive most work environments

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Post-work photo, July 2018

As you can see in the picture my work uniform is all black. Each department in a hospital usually has its own color for scrubs, like the OR/surgical area is usually green while nurses wear blue. In some hospitals, pharmacists wear blue too but I ended up in a hospital where the pharmacy department wears black. As a black wardrobe enthusiast, I was still a little disappointed because my favorite color is blue. However, I have come to love it as the attire reminds me of what a ninja would wear. So here I am, a pharmacist by day and a ninja by night haha.

  1. Have little to zero expectations. The number one killer of happiness is having a set mind on how you want something to be. Usually, this something is beyond your control. As you may have already found out by now or will eventually figure out, you cannot control your work environment unless you are a big shot like Oprah who owns a lot of resources in her line of work. But big shots aren’t born overnight so even Oprah had to deal with work environments that she did not control when starting her career. So have very little expectations about your job especially the personalities of the people you’ll work with. Which brings me to my next point: co-workers.
  2. Learn to deal with many different personalities. Some people may not be as mature as you and trust me, most of your co-workers won’t think the way you do. Some may not be able to understand your differences but hey they did not bring you into this word, so you shouldn’t expect them to even like you. Remember you were hired because you have the qualities and skills needed for the job so that’s what you should focus on that. Work isn’t meant to be the place where you make friends with people (that’s a bonus if it happens). You were hired to provide a service and that’s what you should focus on.
  3. When you walk in the door of your job, leave your home life there. Similarly, when you walk out the door of your job, leave your work there. If you work from home, have an at home office where you only focus on that space so you don’t overwhelm your home with work. Of course, sometimes you’re going to remember something you should have done at work and might have to follow up on that. But if you’re thinking about small things like something insensitive that a customer or employee might have done, then you’re letting someone live in your head rent free. If that happens, find someone to talk it out with, like a family or friend, then let that situation go.
  4. Exert yourself but try to develop some work-life balance as well. I play tennis at least twice a week and I am doing Pilates once a week now. I also get a monthly massage. I also read pretty frequently and don’t forget about this blog writing. All in all, I would say that I am taking pretty good care of myself. However, there is always room for improvement: I have slacked off on making art and playing guitar. I did play my guitar at a couple times last week so I am working on that. What are you doing to work on you as an individual?
  5. Be easy on yourself. No one becomes successful in their job overnight. We all start as amateurs at everything we do. Remember that one time you had to be potty trained. Imagine someone having to teach you how and where to take care of your excrements. Well, you don’t have to imagine it because it happened but you just don’t remember it. So now imagine someone training you how to be an accountant or a doctor or even an artist. It’s going to take time before you are the next Leonardo da Vinci, Steve Jobs, Michelle Obama, Oprah, you name it. Always practice patience especially with yourself because most of us tend to be harder on ourselves.

I wish you love, light, and peace in your journey of achieving job satisfaction (most of all, peace). Thank you for reading 🙂 ❤