Deal Breaker vs Red Flags: how much is too much?

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To the left is a picture of me and my brother on the New Orleans Ferry from Algiers to the Riverwalk which I highly recommend as you can avoid being a victim of crazy driving (which is a red-flag for me). Disclaimer: I am going to make a pretty controversial statement in the next sentence. I think that we all settle in some way when choosing the person to marry or even just be in a relationship with (platonic or not). To circumvent this, some people write down lists of their deal-breakers and potential red flags. We all know deal breakers are more of a non-issue because as soon as you see that quality in the person, you say “NEXT!” However, red flags are more tricky because in most cases, they mean that you would not stop a relationship just because of a little red flag. Let’s say the red flag in your potential mate is that they don’t know how to cook, you are kind of willing to let that go especially in the age of food delivery services. But how about if I add on doesn’t like animals and has terrible grammar to the list? These three little red flags can turn into a total deal-breaker. So my question is when do you know when enough is enough?

Some people might say three red flags is enough to say goodbye to the person they are dating but sometimes, you can be so blinded by love that you let so many red flags continue to pile on without addressing them. And in the end, we end up resenting the other person for being so different from what we want when the person is just being themselves. I truly do not believe that any human should try to change another human. Change should come from within. So although I have been told we cannot quantify human beings into bad or good since we are so complex, maybe we should always keep in mind how much we are compromising to be with the person we are dating. This can be applied to friendships and workplaces as well but I think we are usually more critical about platonic relationships as compared to romantic ones.

As I stated in the beginning, I think we all settle in some way but settling too much can breed resentment and unhappiness. Knowing your worth, your values, and how much you are willing to put up with is key. And since I just recently watched Spiderman: Into the Spider-verse last night, I will say that trusting your spidey-sense or gut will lead you to make the right decision most of the time. I feel like our spirit and soul know a lot more than our mind when it comes to relationships, so don’t kill your brain trying to do crazy algorithms when you can just tap into your spiritual energy. Because only you can know how much is too much for you. 🙂 ❤

on Gold-digging & career women

ms independent
July 2019

When I was in high school and college (of course broke), I would say that I am not a gold digger as I am actually more focused on digging my own gold than anyone else’s. Now as a career woman, I think dating becomes tricky when society views you as accomplished. Any potential suitor usually has to meet a checklist of the usual list: nice to people, family-oriented, but most importantly career-focused. Why? Because nobody wants to sleep on an empty stomach as a result of your husband being fired from his job for the third time. But on the other hand, women are also bashed for wanting a man who is financially secure as we are called gold diggers. So with these conflicting societal views, nobody can win.

This question came up recently on social media where a woman posted a quote saying “stop forcing women to love poor men”. I shared this quote with some male friends and they actually were understanding about this catch-22. Our society wants women to choose an appropriate partner that can provide for a family but we don’t want money to be involved in their decision. Does that even make sense? I don’t think a woman’s thought should be can this man be able to buy a car for me or other grandiose things but at the basic level, a man should be able to help put food on the table for his family (in my opinion). Another flip to this coin is what if the woman herself has wealth or some assets?

I think that if a person has worked hard for their accomplishments, including money, they should not be judged for looking for a partner with similar qualities. Barack Obama didn’t just go into the Chicago streets and marry the finest woman he saw. He looked for the woman who was career-focused just like him. Sure at the time that he asked Michelle out, he was just her intern. But Michelle saw his trajectory and knew he would catch up quickly. So on the same note, there’s nothing wrong with having great consideration for someone’s aspirations because guess what? If you’re shooting for the stars, career-wise, and your potential suitor is just dreaming of a Gucci belt then you might not be compatible. So don’t sell yourself short and accept just any person who locks eyes with you for more than 10 seconds. Look for the person that wows you with their hustle (legal hustles only). I pray that you may all find that person that aligns perfectly with what you deserve. May we all find the Barack to our Michelle or vice versa. 🙂 ❤

Anxiety & How to overcome it

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August 2019

I first realized that I struggle with anxiety when I was trying to plan a family dinner at a restaurant for mother’s day maybe 4 or 5 years ago. I had forgotten to make a reservation not realizing that the restaurant would be pretty busy because of course everybody takes their mother, auntie, sister, and grandmother out for such a holiday. So my family and I are waiting outside the restaurant waiting for our name to be called while my anxiety is building up such that I start calling other restaurants to try to make a quicker reservation. Basically, I wanted the day to go perfectly so that I did not disappoint my family and especially my mom. My older brother realized what I was doing and quickly asked me “you still get like that?” (alluding to my anxiety). Before he had mentioned it, I did not even realize I really had a problem or even a history of anxiety. But now that I look back, I realize that I had anxiety but I was not a chatty anxious person so people probably did not notice it (I could be wrong though). 

In my journey of addressing my anxiety, I have learned that it is one of the top psychological disorders affecting youth in the U.S.A maybe even the world. Pretty much everybody suffers from some sort of anxiety. It is a normal human response to stressful situations. You can meet the most put together and seemingly laid back people who suffer from anxiety. Like most things, anxiety is on a spectrum from mild to crippling. If it’s crippling your life and preventing you from leaving your house, definitely seek professional help. I am fortunate enough to be able to lead a normal life with my anxiety. It always helps to have people who understand you by your side. Clearly, my older brother is that person for me as he helps me create logical steps towards my problems. My mother is a therapist and one of the things she has taught me is about the importance of breathing. Deep breaths can relax your body with such ease and they’re free as long as we don’t kill off all the trees (I think that rhymed by the way 🙂 ) My younger brother gives the best hugs in the world and my dad fixes most of my car related issues. Also, my 2 year old niece is just the cutest thing in the world and her fearless boss baby attitude continues to inspire me to be a lady boss. Bible scripture and inspiring quotes can also help set the tone of your day. For example, Proverbs 16:3 says “commit to the lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans”. Finally, playing tennis teaches me to focus on each point on its own without thinking about winning or losing the match. Each point is a small battle while the match is a big war and if you know anything about wars, they are won through consistency in small fights. So keep on fighting the good fight of your life (please, no Tyrese “I am fighting for my life” videos).

In summary, my advice is to find the people and things in your life that bring you peace or inspire you to overcome fear. Always remember what Nelson Mandela said, “the brave man is not he who does not feel afraid but he who conquers that fear”. If a man who was in prison for 27 years for fighting for his people’s rights can say these words, then I believe they must be true. May we all face your fears. Literally, look at yourself in the mirror and see the Lion/Simba in you silencing the Scar in you with a growl/affirmation of power. Of course, you can also do this metaphorically if you’re not one for mirror pep talks with yourself. Either way, tell fear who is boss. You. You are your own boss. And for the days you feel like you are not, please listen to this song by Kiana Ledé that I think truly captures anxiety: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CkLA0p4BTTs

 

The power of words

levi pic
New Orleans, July 2019

They say that women love what they hear and men love what they see. Well, I like hearing and seeing beautiful words. (Also, may we take a moment of silence for Toni Morrison who died yesterday on August 5th and who will forever be remembered as a great writer.) I will admit that I am yet to read her book but have seen the numerous quotes of hers shared on social media in the advent of her death. She was clearly great with words as you would expect. But what does being great with words actually mean?

To me, being great with words means being able to paint a picture so that other senses besides hearing can be awakened. It means being able to argue a point in an articulate manner. It means being able to be efficient with your use of words because most often, less is more. There is no need to be verbose unless you are complimenting a woman (in that case, keep the words coming). Men, on the other hand, seem to prefer fewer words maybe because their mind wanders or maybe because their cavemen prototypes were busy hunting wooly mammoths (an activity that probably requires absolute silence). To add some possible evidence to this, baby girls generally say their first words and sentences before baby boys. But we get carried away into a battle of sexes, let’s return to “the power of words”.

Words can make or break you. Literally, what a person grows up hearing whether from others and especially from themselves can affect his or her quality of life. Someone cue the classic scene from The Help: “You is kind, You is smart, You is important” where the nanny is having to part ways with her employer’s child. When the black nanny (played beautifully by Viola Davis) is telling the white child these empowering words, she is also empowering herself and anyone who hears or reads those words. Those nine words spread like wildfire throughout the internet because words are powerful.

Men, in case you thought I forgot about you, there are some theories out there that a woman knows whether she would date/entertain you within the first 30 seconds of interacting you. I cannot speak for all women but I will say that during the times that I tried online dating, a horrible bio section with mis-spellings was an absolute turn-off.   Also, my top pet peeve from guys is when they text “hey” like they did not spend 12 years being educated on how to write a complete sentence. If a man is really that scared that writing a bit more will make him look desperate, then I have some words of advice: “ if you are going to shoot your shot, at least make sure you shoot a 3 pointer”. In other words, go big or go home. Women can smell fear from a mile away with those 1 point shots.

And when you are speaking nicely to others, do not forget to speak positively to yourself. You are the person you live the longest with so remind yourself often that “You is kind, You is smart, You is important”.  Thanks for reading. 🙂 ❤

I wanna know guitar performance

I’ve been working on this song for about 2 months now and I finally recorded as I think there is nothing else to add. Adding some French to the song turned out beautifully and in the future, I would like to do a song in both English and Swahili. So more bilingual songs to come. FYI, the french words in the song are a translation of the English chorus.

LYRICS below:

I wanna know
I am looking for that sign
That green light
That tells me go
Or that red light
That tells me no

I wanna know
If this is real
If this is true
Me and you
Is this real?
Is this true?
I wanna know

Moi et toi
Est - ce vrais?
Je veux savoir

They say time will tell
If this love is a spell
Or if we both truly fell
So hold on to those wedding bells

Cause I wanna know
If this is real
If this is true
Me and you
Is this real?
Is this true?
I wanna know
Moi et toi
Est - ce vrais?
Je veux savoir

I wanna know
I wanna know

The power of negotiation ft “You Can Negotiate Anything” book by Herb Cohen

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July 2019 -Maine

In May, I attended the graduation of a family friend and at her graduation party, her uncle gifted her with a book (namely “You Can Negotiate Anything” book by Herb Cohen). When I saw the title of the book, I immediately exclaimed that I needed to read that book as it could be useful in my personal and professional life. Without skipping a beat, her uncle retrieved his personal copy of the book and gave it to me. It turns out that he had bought himself the copy to re-read as he read it many years ago when my father gave him a copy of the book. Therefore, this book is kind of a “boomerang” as it first started with my father in Kenya, then to a family friend, and then back to me in the USA. Who knows where and to who this book will travel next. But in the meantime, let me share the top negotiation strategies I have learned from the book.

  1. Never reveal your deadline to the person you are negotiating with if you can avoid it. For example, do not tell a seller you need a car by next week as that means the seller will know that you probably will not have time to look around for a better deal. The most powerful thing in the world is time. If you have time, use it to your advantage to make sure you get the best deal possible. Also, playing the waiting game makes you look less interested in the other party so they are more willing to work with what you want.
  2. Avoid having an authoritative style. There are many strategies for negotiation. The author calls an authoritarian/unyielding strategy “the Soviet-style” because, during war, the Soviets would low ball you until you yield to their demands while they compromise nothing. This style only works if you never intend on doing business or having relations with that person ever again because the person will not like you for taking advantage of them.
  3. See compromise as an opportunity to make both you and the other person happy. Good negotiators find ways to figure out what really means the most to the other person. For example, if you are the boss and the person you are seeking to hire wants $50,000 while you are only willing to offer $40,000, find ways to make up for the other $10,000. Such examples could be offering more vacation days, season tickets to sports events, or even gym membership. Therefore, when the person looks at the $40,000 they don’t see it as a total loss of $10,000 especially since the $40,000 is taxable by the government while the additional perks are tax-free. So in negotiation, always try to find a way to get as close to what you want while still making the other happy.
  4. Avoid negotiating on the telephone unless you want an easy win or lose situation. This is because whoever imitates the call is usually at an advantage as they think about what they are going to say before they call. On the other hand, the receiver of the phone call is caught off guard and has to scramble to have good debate points in the negotiation. The author’s advice if you are the receiver is simple: make up an excuse to end the call and tell the caller that you will phone them at a later turn. Now you will be the caller and not the receiver which gives you the advantage. For example, if you have applied for a job and the interviewer calls you with a low offer which you were not expecting, simply tell the interviewer that you need time to think about it and you will call them back within 24 to 48 hours. Negotiating in person also allows you to read body language and make a better case for yourself as it is easier for someone to say “No” over the phone. In-person negotiations are more personable. Who would have guessed? haha
  5. Always seek to negotiate with the person who has true negotiating power. For instance, say that you are at an electronics store and you are looking to buy a TV as well as a sound system. Let’s also pretend that there is no sale going on but you think you should get a bundle deal since you are buying two large ticket items. Who do you think you should talk to? the clerk or the manager? If you said manager then you are correct. Usually, a clerk has no real power to give you sales outside of those already presented in the store. Therefore, you should always ask for the manager if you are wanting to negotiate something outside of what is presented. In other words, never accept no for an answer from someone who does not even have the real power to say yes.

In continuing the history of this book, I have to find someone to gift it to. I am thinking of my mother because she is very much a strategic negotiator and has a great interest in human psychology. If you end up reading this book, I hope you do the same as negotiating is a key part of life whether at school, work, or home. The best negotiations in the world get paid millions of dollars to do it so it is quite the skill to have. As you would expect, practice makes perfect and even the author admits that he botched his first negotiation project with a Japanese company because they played the waiting game against him until he only had minutes to present his case. So don’t get discouraged if you fail the first time, learn from it and apply it to your next challenge. All the best in your pursuits. 🙂 ❤

The power of love

wedding pic
July 2019

This past weekend I had the pleasure of witnessing a beautiful wedding in the breathtaking location of Boothbay Harbor, Maine (Congrats again to the newly wedded couple). It feels like forever since I attended a wedding but it’s only been like 2 years haha. My first career in life was being a flower girl. In fact, some brides were begging my mom for me to be in their wedding but at some point, she had to say no because attending multiple weddings in a year can really deplete your pocket. My cousin tells me that I wasn’t very good at being a flower girl since I did not smile a lot but I guess I was cute enough to be marketable. We were both flower girls at her parents’ wedding and I can tell you she did a way better job than me. There’s photo evidence to prove that I was “stone face” instead of radiating with smiles like she was. Fast forward, years later and I am supposed to be the maid of honor in my best friend’s wedding so I guess that is kind of a promotion. Don’t worry, I’ll make sure to smile from ear to ear even if I get lock-jaw.

Smiley or not, witnessing the union of two people is a blessing. Weddings are always a reminder of the power of love. Love is one of the few forces that can transcend race, class, education, and even politics. Also, it is a force that can grow exponentially. At the wedding I attended this weekend, one of the speakers remarked that how greatly the bride loves her groom now will grow even more with time. Often we love someone so much that we cannot imagine loving them more but wait until they are the mother or father to your children. My father spoke at the rehearsal dinner and revisited his tested and true theory that “love is taking care” (now that I think about it, the children’s book Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince) also has this central theme). To summarize, don’t just tell someone you love them when showing them love actually means more. Other married couples, came up to my dad to show appreciation for his message so I think my dad is on to something.

To reference Le Petit Prince a little bit, love is like a flower. It is undeniably beautiful but you have to handle it with care. You cannot give it too little or too much water. You have to protect it from the elements such as wind. And people say when you talk to plants, they grow better so communication is key in gardening just like in love. Also if you do your gardening right, one plant can bloom many flowers and even help the ecosystem by helping produce pollen for the bees. Bees then pollinate the world further and increase the number of plants in the world so that we have enough oxygen being released in the air. Similarly, one love story can inspire more love in the world and I think weddings provide a great forum for just that. I am sure every married couple that goes to a wedding gets inspired to love their spouse more while every single person gets inspired to prioritize love in their life. So yes love is truly powerful. May we vow to treat it as the precious force that it has the power to be. 🙂 ❤

Love, success, and the universe

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June 2019

I would like to start this post by questioning what exactly the phrase “hopeless romantic” actually means. I have heard people use it as both as a positive and negative term either meaning that you are stupid for being a hopeless romantic or you are courageous for being one. When I googled “hopeless romantic”, the top definitions were negative such as the following from Dictionary.com: “a hopeless romantic is a person who holds sentimental and idealistic views on love, especially in spite of experience, evidence, or exhortations otherwise.” Surprisingly, Urban Dictionary had a very lengthy and positive write up on hopeless romantics. Here’s my favorite section from the write up: “Hopeless Romantics are NOT Hopeless per-say, but very true, caring, and loving people. They are “NOT MADE FOR TODAY’S STANDARDS”, sadly. They believe in passion, chivalry, and true love.” Based on how I think the universe works, I think the Urban Dictionary definition is more correct.

            I believe in the concept of faith and good effort being rewarded (some people call it karma). So with that positive force of energy of the universe rewarding us, I think truly believing in love makes you a “Hopeful” romantic not a “Hopeless” romantic. Even if the current relationship that you are nurturing does not work, you are preparing your heart for the relationship that will work. Of course, you always need to have your priorities right in life and there are times where you feel like you need a break from relationships (whether due to school, work, or other reasons). However, I think if you find what you are looking for and at an appropriate time in your life then you would probably regret a missed opportunity if you did not pursue it.

           So maybe we should hope more and doubt less. If you’re gonna do something, do it to the fullest. Because when people give us advice for success, they tell us things like “shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land upon the stars.” My home room teacher in 6th grade had that quote on a poster and it always peaked my interest. I think to me in education terms it meant, shoot for an A+ so if you don’t get exactly a 100, you could still have an A or A-. In love terms, I think it means that if you really feel good about a relationship, give it a really good effort and even if it doesn’t work out, you’ll be one step closer to finding the person that you’re supposed to be with.

            I hope in 50 years (God willing), I can come back to tell you that this theory worked out for me. A lot of things in life are won by mental and emotional strength, so what you believe can make or break you. I choose to believe that the universe is conspiring for us because it gives me positive energy. And at times it can make you, fearless and full of hope. So with that I choose to be a HOPEful romantic that is fearLESS. May we all extinguish fear from our lives and be one step closer to success. 🙂 ❤

 

My version of “waiting in vain” by Bob Marley

Displayed above is a painting I recently did of Bob Marley. In 24 hours, I will no longer own it as I am gifting it to my neighbor who recorded a live album of his original music yesterday and who also taught me how to play guitar. Displayed below is a song I wrote out loud first while driving around town and just expressing what was on my heart at that time. I hope you enjoy both displays and soon enough, a video recording of me playing the song should follow. I mixed in a bit of French just to summarize the chorus in another language – also inspired by my guitar teacher. I was listening to Bob Marley’s “waiting in vain” on repeat around the time I wrote this song so I can attribute some inspiration to that as well.

I wanna know

I am looking for that sign

That green light

That tells me go

Or that red light

That tells me no

—–

I wanna know

If this is real

If this is true

Me and you

Is this real?

Is this true?

I wanna know

——

Moi et toi

Est – ce vrais?

Je veux savoir

——-

They say time will tell

If this love is a spell

Or if we both truly fell

So hold on to those wedding bells

——

Cause I wanna know

If this is real

If this is true

Me and you

Is this real?

Is this true?

I wanna know

——

Moi et toi

Est – ce vrais?

Je veux savoir

—Thanks for reading and entertaining my creativity in all capacities. 😃❤️

Love: is there a formula?

10258Before I start this post, let me give a shout out to my best friend who did this digital sketch of a selfie that I took in 2014. From what I remember, it was during summer classes in June and I had a daily ritual of a mid-day nap so this was either before or after the nap (probably after, because my lips tend to dilate while I sleep).

This post is about love and I think the feeling of love is only seconded by the feeling of a really good nap (in my opinion, both induce rose colored glasses and necessary to life). From talking to several different people (including my parents and married family friends) this past weekend, I started to wonder if there is a formula to love. Well, my friends, I have reached the conclusion that the answer is both yes and no. No because typically in a formula you have an independent (x) and dependent variable (y). So if y=love, then x would have to equal something that we all determine to result in love if there was a direct relationship between x and y. Okay, that is enough math for today but my point is, we have not scientifically determined any one thing that results in love all the time. However, we do know certain factors that may be assist in the process of love. My small interview based research with my parents and family friends yielded common results. Almost everyone will tell you honesty, trust, and patience are important in love. So we can assume that those are probably part of the formula especially in terms of long-lasting love. So in my opinion, the answer is yes and no. For the final math/science reference, if honesty, trust, and patience are part of the formula then they would be referred to as constants since they would be unchanging.  Therefore, maybe we should focus on the constants of love and somewhere we will find the (x- male or female in this case) that makes it work (thereby, turning y to equal love).

Some of the conversations I engaged in also produced some quotes that I would like to share below.

  1. “If your partner/lover/whatever-you-want-to-call-them lies to you about small stuff, run the other way because they will definitely lie to you about bigger stuff.”
  2. “Go with the flow.” When my mom and dad met they both were not trying to force the relationship to work. According to my mother, they both kept talking about breaking up until they both realized that they actually deeply cared about each other. None of them took the relationship that seriously until it actually became serious. Supposedly, there is less chance of heart break this way but keep in mind that there is no true formula to love.
  3. “Do what makes you happy.” Of course, you have to consider long term vs short term happiness but in most cases, you will never regret what made you happy. I recently shared with one of my friends that I do not get scared about a relationship turning bad anymore because if it made me happy for x amount of months or years then it was not a waste of time. I have also been watching a TV show called Billions (thanks to my male best friend that put me on to this really cool show ) which is mainly based on stock investment firms and how they manage their investments. To me love can be an investment because you expect the love to grow/appreciate over the years. Love is more of a long term stock. However, there is an investment strategy known as shorting or short-selling where you borrow a stock at a certain price and quickly return it when the price goes down. So imagine your potential mate is a stock, if their perceived value to you (emotionally and mentally most importantly) goes down then you can feel free to return them to the universe.

I feel like this turned into an extensive thought piece (probably because I am writing this at 1am which is when my mind really peaks haha). I apologize if you have a deep fear of math and this post triggered you. 🙂 ❤