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. 🙂 ❤

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 🙂 ❤

5 things I learned from reading Kevin Hart’s “I can’t make this up”

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August 2018, Fairhope

I would like to start by saying that if you have access to a good public library, then save your coins and your house from book clutter by borrowing books from the library. It supports your local community and maybe reduces your carbon footprint. Either way, reading is good for you because as we feed our bodies, we must also feed our minds. And if you ever want to really laugh, just read a book written by a comedian. I recently read Kevin Hart’s I can’t make this up which is a book with many little chapters and a lot of life lessons. Here are the top 5 lessons I learned from the book:

  1. If you’re going to hustle, hustle hard! A lot of people think that Kevin Hart is an overnight success but once you read the book you realize that his success climaxed after about 15 to 18 years of grinding. He toured a lot of small comedy clubs all over the US several times before being able to sell out basketball arenas.
  2. Life is an ebb and flow of ups and downs. Before becoming a household name, he had a few breaks such as being cast in movies like Soul Plane and Fool’s Gold which actually flopped at the box office. When Kevin Hart got cast in these movies he thought they were going to be his big breaks but for reasons beyond his control, it didn’t work out that way. However, he credits such experiences for humbling him and teaching him not to be overexcited about projects because you’re never know how they’re going to turn out.
  3. You can’t force a relationship to work. Kevin grew up with separated parents and he himself is now divorced from his first wife. His relationship with his wife had a lot of trust issues even in the dating face and for some reason they both thought marriage would make things better due to vows. However, they were both unhappy in the marriage and it took both of them a long time to realize that they would be happier apart from each either. The main thing Kevin worried about in divorcing his wife was whether it was the right move for his two kids. However, after a bit of separation, he realized that exposing his kids to a dysfunctional marriage would probably lead them to fall into the same cycle later.
  4. Stay positive and check yourself. We all have flaws and usually, they are our biggest obstacle to achieving success. If your work ethic isn’t there, then you’re not going to go far. If you have an addiction (which Kevin Hart admits to having alcohol binging and gambling problems), then you need to seek help. If you have bad spending habits, then you’ll never have a great net worth despite how much money you make. So analyze yourself and try to understand your flaws so you can eventually overcome them. Also, staying positive will give you a lot of peace.
  5. Teamwork makes the dream work. A lot of people (including myself before reading this book) don’t know that Kevin has a well-sized team that is mainly composed of his friends. One of his friends helps him write jokes, another helps with traveling logistics, another was opening his comedy shows for him, another was helping with organizing after parties for his shows, and then, of course, he had his comedy manager. Maybe, in the beginning, you can do it alone but as the African proverb states “if you want to go far, go together”.

I hope you pick up a book, whether today, tomorrow or later this month. Happy reading 🙂 ❤

The duality of human existence: more than just black and white

 

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May 2018

In the event of Kanye West saying “slavery was a choice” and people we looked up to such as Morgan Freeman being accused of sexual harassment, we have to acknowledge the duality of human existence. A person can be a great musician, actor, co-worker etc but still be a less than perfect human. When we revere people to the extent of unrealistic adoration, we are bound to be disappointed because no one can ever live up to such expectations.

In the words of Tupac, “ a role is something people play and a model is something people make. Both of those things are fake.” I think it’s okay to have a role model for a specific facet of their life but not for their entire being. For example, we can admire Michael Jackson for his work ethic but not for his other life choices. We can admire Kevin Hart for his humor but not for his infidelity. When we realize that people are more complex than what we see with our eyes, we allow them to make their choices and have their peace.

I was watching an interview of Keke Palmer on the Breakfast Club radio show. Let me just say Keke is able to dissect being human so well for a person who is just 24 years old. In the interview, she discusses going through depression and growing up in the limelight. Her most interesting discussion for me is when she recalls the first time that her parents fell short of her expectations. She wasn’t trying to throw her parents under the bus. She was simply making the point that everyone is bound to disappoint us at one point or another. However, the greatest disappointment is when our parents first let us down. It’s not until that we are adults that we are realize that our parents are just human and were trying to do their best when raising us.

So to drive the point home, It’s important to recognize the complexity of human nature. It’s important not to harbor hate or judgment towards someone because of his or her life decisions. Everyone is going through life without a road map just like you. Nobody is perfect, including you, so don’t expect perfection (even from yourself). This post feels like a TED talk or therapy session, I’ve been avoiding writing this one for a while but I am glad that it finally came together in my head.

As always, thanks for reading. 🙂  ❤

Why my brother’s graduation means so much to me

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Stephen’s Graduation May 2018

            Words cannot express how grateful I am to God for bringing my family so far through the ups and downs of life. When we achieve such great things as a graduation, we realize even more that the downs of life are worth it. I don’t regard myself as a preacher in any way but sometimes you come to realize that your life is a testimony of grace, patience, perseverance, and blessings. My younger brother graduated yesterday with an engineering degree which did not come easy. Late nights studying, sometimes having to hire tutors, working part time, and consulting other engineering graduates were all part of the hustle. But one thing I admire about my little brother (who looks much older than me) is that he never complains through it all. Whining is a word that is not in his vocabulary.

            The greatest thing I admire about my brother is his ability to network. Put him in a room of people and two things will probably happen: 1. He’ll realize he already knows somebody in the room and 2. He’ll end up making several new connections. His namesake Stephen Juma Mawia (our maternal grandfather) was a politician so I think he got this trait from him. Despite this ability to make new friends, Stephen always keeps his day 1 friends close and knows the difference between a friend vs an acquaintance. Simply stated Stephen is an emotionally intelligent person.

            As much as I am applauded for my intellect especially in terms of achieving a doctor of pharmacy degree, my younger brother is much more emotionally intelligent than I am. Some people are born with a warm soul and I believe Stephen is one of them. I pray that he may maintain his good nature and young spirit through the ups and downs that face him in his life. As I will look to him as my inspiration to be a better person. 🙂 ❤

Graduation jitters: how to remain calm while graduating from college

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PharmD Graduation 2017

As a recent grad of pharmacy school (representing class of 2017), I can definitely sympathize with those who are graduating this season. My younger brother is actually the one who suggested I write on this topic as he is graduating in a few weeks. I instantly jumped on writing this post because I believe that it can help put things in perspective for upcoming graduates. I think the main issues that affect prospective graduates are the following: job search stress, independence stress, and anxiety of what they could have done differently in school. Therefore, I’ll break down this post in those three categories. Let’s begin.

 

Job Search Stress: I think this is one of the greatest stresses that one can experience at any point in their life but especially after graduating. Most of us are taught, if you have good grades you won’t have trouble finding a job. This is not completely true as connections end up being the greatest resource in finding a job. I personally didn’t apply for jobs until I was done with my pharmacy board exams because I didn’t want to be rushed to work while studying. Once I started applying 2 out of the job offers I got were due to having a connection who already worked for said company. I actually didn’t end up working for those two companies because I got a better offer but that’s a story for another time. The main takeaway point is that connections aren’t absolutely necessary but they do help. As such, try to network as much as you can during your final semester and even after you graduate (LinkedIn is a great place to start). The greatest advice is to keep calm and carry on. If you’re stressing, then you won’t be relaxed at your interviews which will lead to you not performing well. Take time to do things that make you happy so you’re not obsessing over finding a job. Eventually you will get one because the law of probability will be in your favor, the more you apply. If you need job interview tips, please refer to my previous post on this topic.

Independence stress: When we’re about to graduate, it is common to dream about making lots of money, having a fabulous apartment, car, clothes, etc. However, the reality is most of us don’t have enough money saved up or might not get a million-dollar salary to live that lifestyle. So it’s okay to stay in your lane until you can work yourself up to that lifestyle. It’s okay to move back in with your parents (not spending more time with family is something a lot of people regret). I currently live with my parents which I enjoy because I lived away from them for 6 years in pharmacy school. This also allows me to save money so that I’ll be more capable to live the lifestyle I want when I eventually move out. Before I got a job, I was depending on my parents for the most part and that is okay to do because starving yourself is not an option. I will say that I do have parents who are strict and would limit your independence significantly so I can totally understand not living with your parents as well. I am pretty fortunate that my parents aren’t the typical iron fist type of African parents.

Anxiety: I definitely had anxiety during my undergraduate graduation. First of all, I started picking apart every move that I made in college. I convinced myself that I didn’t do enough even though I was in a rigorous pharmacy program. I started signing up for almost every event during my last semester in efforts to make up for lost time. I ended up being very worn out because of that and was not in good health emotionally, mentally, and physically (my parents literally kept forcing to me eat when I came home that summer). The take away point is if you live in the past, you’ll become depressed. If you live in the future, you’ll become anxious. So the solution is to live in the present and do the best that you can for yourself now. Your dream life isn’t built in a day let alone in your 4 , 5, 6, or 8 years of college, be patient and build it slowly. And to be very philosophical, if you are always grateful for what you have in the moment then you’ll always be living your dream life.

Congrats class of 2018! May you prosper and take your life by its reins. 🙂 ❤

All the best!

Sincerely,

Mercy Rodah

My thoughts on Black History Month

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Steve Biko- one of the martyrs of South African Apartheid

As someone who had to take an Introduction to African American History course in college to actually learn more than the few paragraphs of black history that we learn in Elementary and High school, I have come to appreciate any opportunity that presents more learning about the history of my race. Of course, in Kenya I did learn Kenyan history and we didn’t have a month devoted to that as we are all Kenyans there. So in comparison, I find Black History Month to not be enough as a significant portion of history has been lost or hidden (I think hidden is more appropriate because if I could learn a lot more in college, a lot more can be taught at all levels of schooling).

My experience with Black History Month, especially in high school, was that we would discuss the same ten people every year (Martin Luther King Jr, Madame CJ Walker, Rosa Parks, and I am sure you can name the rest). I don’t understand why Black History Month needs a poster boy: MLK and poster girl: Rosa Parks. I think each year we should try to highlight more and more African Americans that we have never heard of, such as Robert Smalls who became a sea captain during the civil war which led President Lincoln to accept black soldiers in the war. I had to go to college to learn about Robert Smalls as well as about the black bourgeoisie and the industrial prison complex which constitutes modern day slavery of minorities who are disproportionally imprisoned as compared to whites (if you don’t believe me read The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander).

This year I celebrated Black History Month by watching I Am Not Your Negro which highlights James Baldwin’s involvement in the civil rights movement and his relationships with the key figures of that time, namely Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X, and Medgar Evers. I also watched Hidden Figures during Christmas which helped me to learn about other black women who contributed to NASA’s advancements (as I already knew about Mae Jemison who was the first black female astronaut and is included in that list of the 10 people we hear about every black history month). Maybe if I had learned about Katherine Johnson, the mathematical genius behind the calculations for the trajectories to the moon, I would have been inspired to choose a career in Math or engineering instead of health sciences. However, the movie was inspiring to me even as a pharmacy major where there are not many black students at my school and it sometimes feel like we have to work twice as hard to get the same acknowledgement. Hidden Figures definitely touched my heart on several levels including the balance of career and family that we women often have to worry about. During moments of wanting to give up, I now tell myself that if these women could achieve what they did in segregation era, I can also find a way.

And that’s exactly why I think learning about other characters in the scheme of black history is so important. We need continuous inspiration and therefore, we must widen the spectrum of black history from the 10 key figures that we always talk about to the infinite number of characters that we can learn about.

I don’t think this is the appropriate time to reveal that I also watched Get Out yesterday and despite the era of a black president, racists do exist and the use of black people as vessels of labor, tools stripped of their humanity, is not new. However, the movie is just so well-written and nuanced that I recommend everyone to watch it. Sure it is a horror film and has nothing to do with black history, except for the fact that similar gruesome things have happened to black people throughout history but I won’t mention which since that might give away the story.

As we are now in March and Black History was quintessentially awarded the shortest month of the year, I do hope that all of you were able to learn something new this year about someone other than the aforementioned 10 figures that we usually reuse and recycle. If not, why not use the rest of the year to do the same as time is in fact relative.