The past few weeks amid this coronavirus crisis have reminded me one thing: how to not overcomplicate life. We all have so many desires, expectations, and goals that we sometimes forget to live for today, for now. I am writing this after learning that one of my family friends has passed away in a tragic manner. At this time, we are so focused on not being infected with coronavirus that we forget that people are still dying in other ways. Someone probably died from a heart attack today, another probably from drowning, and others from several freak accidents that happen every day. However, we forget this and continue to live life in our bubble. We take our life for granted and focus on myriad issues like petty work drama.
I hope that this coronavirus downtime teaches us to focus on what really matters: our heart, mind, and spirit. Do more of what makes you happy. Since some of us may be stuck indoors during this time, try a new hobby like meditation, drawing, or writing music. I would suggest cooking but I wouldn’t want you to end up eating all of your quarantine groceries. I have started listening to podcasts on the way home from work since we healthcare workers still have to report to duty. The last podcast I listened to was Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations, specifically the one where she interviews a self-help author Harville Hendrix about how we look for partners based on our childhood relationships with our parents. I will like to dive deeper into this topic in a future post but in the meantime, please listen to the podcast when you get a chance. I’ll post the link to the website where you can listen to it for free below. I wish you peace, love, and happiness during this time as always 🙂 ❤
As the wise Bob Marley once said — ‘The biggest coward of a man is to awaken the love of a woman without the intention of loving her.” Bob Marley has numerous great quotes from his interviews and even more from his music. This one is somewhat of a paradox though especially considering that he had 9 children from 7 different women. So if Bob really believed and lived by his quote, that would mean he actually loved all those seven women. And maybe, it is possible that some people are able to love more than one woman equally. However, it seems that his wife Rita Marley also had a child from another man during an affair. So from my basic analytic skills, either Bob and Rita were hippies who freed each other of possession by loving others or they just had the same marital problems that most people have. Either way, I am sure they had love for one another. And Bob Marley will never be seen as a coward because he took care of all his children. He clearly set a good example for them as they all followed his footsteps in music. Also, quite a number of his children are happily married with children so the value of family was not lost on them.
But besides Bob Marley, let us dig into that quote a bit further. There are some men out there who get satisfaction from getting a woman’s number and keeping her wanting him for the sole purpose of an ego trip. Some men just want to be wanted. And once they feel wanted, they leave because the woman has been “conquered”. I have been fortunate enough not to deal with too many of these types but recently, it clicked in my head that one of the guys I’ve dated in the past might have this problem. And just for disclaimer purposes, people are complicated. Sometimes, someone is acting elusive after you gain interest in them because they are afraid of deep connection. You never know what that person has been through. But I will say this, please search within yourself if this behavior describes so that you can figure out why you do this. If you frequently end up on the short end of the stick with someone dropping you as soon as you gain interest, then learn to identify the signs of these emotionally unavailable people.
I will admit that I have been emotionally unavailable before and still ventured out in the dating world. However, I would disclose my emotional state to the other person if somebody gained interest in me. So, I think love is really about honesty and trying to do right by someone. Remember, actions speak louder than words. Be true to yourself and the other person. If your emotional states don’t mesh well, then move on. If Bob Marley was able to find 7 different women to have kids with, I am sure that there is somebody out there for you (if not multiple people, haha). 🙂 ❤
From the moment you become responsible for your life choices (let’s say adulthood), you become married despite your relationship status. Why? Because self-love is marriage. Self-love is a life-long commitment to one-self to make decisions that serve to protect and flourish oneself. Therefore, I believe that we enter a polygamous relationship when we get married to another person. How? Because your love for one-self should not dissolve once you say “I do” to another person. Love has to be divided between love for yourself and for the other person. Or if you and your partner are truly in sync, then theoretically loving the other person is like loving yourself. Either way, self-love should not be compromised in order to love another person: that would be the definition of a toxic relationship.
I am not a married person myself so my perspective may be a bit extreme but from what I have heard from people like Will and Jada Smith is that a relationship cannot complete you. You complete yourself through self-love. This is why understanding yourself and dating yourself first, before and during marriage is so important. Another person can only complement who you are. So I guess the “he/she is my other half” statement is a bit misleading. We are all our own people. A better statement that is now becoming popular is “I choose to love my husband/wife each and every day.” I agree with this statement more as it highlights that love is a choice. It’s not a feeling; lust is a feeling. Love is a choice and you have to mentally decide to love your partner through sickness and in health till do death you part.
Some people wonder about unconditional love. However, I think it is rare to find unconditional love between romantic love. I think unconditional love is usually for parents and children. Most people have a mental list of actions that would make them walk away from their partner: infidelity, dishonesty, addiction, and the list goes on. But I do recognize that most people continue to love the people who they walked away from or who walked away from them. However, that love decreases in intensity and is not as compelling for them to want to be with that other person. Therefore, I am of the theory that love does have conditions.
To tie the concept of unconditional love and self-love, I believe that we learn our requirements or conditions of love by loving ourselves. When you don’t tolerate negative self-talk, you will not accept someone talking to you in any kind of way. When you follow through on your goals and commitments to yourself, you won’t allow someone to tell you that you are too high maintenance or that your conditions are unreasonable. Therefore, how you love yourself provides the blueprint of how someone else is to love you. I wish you all success in love to yourself and to or from others. 🙂 ❤
The picture to the left was taken at my best friend’s Vietnamese wedding/tea ceremony. It was a beautiful display of love and tradition. It was an honor being there for her big day. According to my dad, love is taking care. As her maid of honor, I have observed how both she and her now-husband care for each other ❤
Flowers were a major theme of both her Vietnamese and American weddings. Today, I found this poem I had started writing a while back and it reminded me of how understanding how to love a person can be as difficult as learning how to keep a flower or any plant alive. The poem is kind of somber but I hope you enjoy it ❤
You want to possess me
but you don’t nourish me.
You forget that even a rose withers
when it’s not watered.
You tend to my petals
but you forget my thorns.
You seek to explore my beauty
but don't seek to understand my flaws.
You look at me with lust in your eyes
yet you do not see me.
You touch my skin
but you don’t feel what’s inside.
I am more than this shell.
I am more than how my name is spelled.
I am more than the cards life has dealt.
I am more complex than the ocean’s depth.
As I am writing this, I am just wrapping watching a video about applying monk mentality in our lives. The speaker is a British/Indian guy named Jay Shetty who spent summers in India in his early adulthood in a monk sanctuary to learn the way of the monk. Jay Shetty has a lot of great videos out there that always speak to me but sometimes, I tend to forget his insight and to apply it to my life. So this time, I decided to write the 10 things I learned from the monk mentality talk to help myself and my readers who want to be more introspective.
Gratitude is key. As that Koffee song says, gratitude is a must. Practicing gratitude at the beginning or at the end of every day can be life changing. Gratitude always you to cope with the challenges of life because at the end of the day you still find a reason to be grateful. Recently, I realized that all the unsuccessful relationships I have been through either taught me to be grateful of all the time that the other person invested in your togetherness and what not to accept in the future. Either we win or we win.
We have multiple internal voices and we can strengthen one or the other. Learn to listen to all your thoughts and re-direct your thoughts when they are negative or critical. Foster positive thinking and you will be able to enjoy life more.
Know your element. Jay Shetty speaks about detachment and how attachment/expectation can lead us to disappointment. Therefore, detaching ourselves from a particular end-result or behavior is better for our mental health. I am one of those people who can be very stubborn so this has been important for me as I have to tell myself that I have done everything possible and the end-result can be different from what I want. Therefore, I have had to learn to come to terms with any outcome that does not fit what I want.
Know your environment. Jay Shetty basically states that friendship can make or break you. If your friends are negative, you probably will be too. Instead, surround yourself with people who are also introspective and are trying to be better people. In addition, hanging out with people who are more mature than you can elevate your growth much further. If you want to be a billionaire, you have to surround yourself with people making money moves. And if you want to be a peaceful person, you have to find like-minded people.
Know your energy. We are all human so we can have some bad days where we are the “Debbie Downer” of the group. Also, everyone struggles with jealousy. The worst is when we are not aware of our energy because we can cause a lot of damage to others and ourselves. Therefore, it is important to check in with our emotions to understand the source of our negative feelings and transcend them.
Quit comparing yourself with others. In the video, Jay Shetty says that most people do not view themselves as who they think they are but as what other people think they are. You should not tie your self-identity to external things or what other people think of you. Tell yourself who you want to be and be that.
Learn from the process of those who you view successful. Instead of just focusing on the success, try to shadow or do research on how they got to where they are. If you don’t like the process of their success, then look elsewhere for who you should look up to.
What you do for yourself is your career. What you do for others is the combination of your passion and purpose. To figure out your passion and your purpose, ask yourself what do you love to do that also brings other people happiness and is also tied to what you are good at. For me, I think I love mentoring young people about their future. It brings me happiness when they succeed and when their path becomes easier than mine has been.
Don’t ruminate on the past. A lot of us beat ourselves up because of our perceived mistakes such as in our careers or relationships. Rumination is not a useful tool. Reflection with the purpose to use that information to make a different decision about the present or future is more constructive.
Create time towards growing your spirituality and positive mentality. A lot of people credit meditation as a way to change how you think and feel about oneself and life. I have difficulty with turning my brain off/slowing down especially when I am trying to sleep. What helps me is reading a book before bed or journaling. I think journaling is actually a written form of meditation because you write down your thoughts, how they make you feel, and your good intentions about the situation. If you don’t own a paper journal, please buy one because writing down notes on your phone is not the same.
I hope these 10 tips for fostering monk mentality can be applied to your life and what you currently may be going through. 🙂 ❤
I wrote this in the air, so it’s coming hot off the clouds
In the next sentence, I am going to share the most important quality that women look for without even knowing. Drum roll, please. Above all, a woman wants a man with a sense of humor.
Why? Because we want to be happy. And sure buying us gifts and being financially secure can make a woman happy but that’s not something a man can sustain 24 hours, 7 days a week. Humor, on the other hand, is something that is limitless. A man can make you laugh literally every hour on the hour that you are with him or available via phone.
It is true that you cannot eat laughter or even be housed by laughter but humor should still be a requirement for the life partner you choose. Imagine marrying a guy who doesn’t even have the capacity to make dad jokes to your kids. In fact, I think research shows that your life expectancy increases based on laughter and in turn, happiness. So get that guy with a retirement plan that includes savings but also the bag of jokes he’s gonna use in old age. I have this joke planned where I pretend that my memory is shoddy and start flirting with my husband like I’ve just met him for the first time. Like, asking him “hey do you come here often?” while we are in our house. Please let me know within the next 40 years if this is a cruel joke or forever hold your peace.
So the moral of the story is that as much as we all love biceps and deep pockets, a funny bone working 40 hours a week and maybe some overtime should be a major aspiration for all men. Another argument for humor is that it gets better with time. Your looks, on the other hand, are not promised to be in the positive every year. Not all men are Idris Elba who manages to look better each and every year. Let’s have a moment of silence for Idris’s peppered beard right now and can the congregation say “silver fox”. And by the way, have you noticed that Idris also seems to have a great sense of humor? The man is all about self-development as he is a DJ, producer, actor, kickboxer, father, and husband. I hope the men reading this are taking notes and create a plan on how to level up. If you don’t have humor in your current arsenal, level up! If all you have is humor, also level up!
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. 🙂 ❤
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. 🙂 ❤
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
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. 🙂 ❤