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 😃❤

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 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 🙂 ❤

5 reasons why travel is so important

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Mom and Dad, 1987

I would like to preface this post by saying that if it wasn’t for travel, I wouldn’t exist. My parents are both from different parts of Kenya and if my dad never traveled for a work assignment to my mom’s area, then my father would not be Mr. Wangondu. On this glorious fathers’ day, I am grateful that Mr. Wangondu is my dad as I call him and I thank him 100x for making that first move to travel to Ukambani and that second move of choosing my mom as his wife. So without further ado, this back story leads me to my first point.

  1. Travel can be important, not only in finding love but also in assessing it. My father and mother as pictured in the photo above took a trip to visit a long lost uncle during their first year of dating. As my dad tells the story of this treacherous trip of not knowing exactly where they were going, he makes sure to emphasize that the trip established that my mother was the woman for him. The way someone handles being in a different place and a long journey can tell you a lot about them. As such, it is important to take trips with your potential mates.
  2. It gives you a wider view of nature. The world is an oyster as they say and so you have to travel in order to see the full picture of this oyster. There are so many wonders of the world, some famous and others non-discovered. For example, visiting a world wonder like the Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa was such an exhilarating experience as it made me realize that mother nature has so many curves and crevices. Like really mother nature’s body is like woah when you really think about it (Cue Maya’s- my love is like wo).
  3. It allows you to experience the diversity and similarity of humanity. If you travel throughout the world, there will be of course so many new faces and things to see. Through this diversity of others, you will probably also notice what makes us similar. For example, I brought samosas to work the other day and one of my co-workers mentioned that it’s so interesting that all cultures have some sort of meat filled pastries (i.e. burritos, wontons, pizza bites, samosas, etc). I had never thought about that but I definitely have to agree as when I was in South Africa, I noticed that they also eat corn meal dishes like Sima in East Africa and like Grits in the U.S.A.
  4. It inspires you with new ideas. If you think about all the historical travel figures such as Christopher Columbus, Marco Polo, and Mansa Musa, there was a trade of not just items but also of ideas between their countries and the lands they traveled to (not found since that would insinuate that they were lost). Similarly, when you travel you learn about different foods, fashions, and language while also sharing the same with the people who interact with you.
  5. This may vary but travel can also to lead to higher spirituality or appreciation of life. First of all, being able to travel is a physical and financial blessing as everyone is not able to do so. I am definitely a water sign because something about being closer to water really relaxes me. This might happen to everyone but I also sleep like a baby after spending the day swimming in the ocean. The best part of traveling is discovering what lights up your soul, for some it is nature while for others it may be tall buildings or even other humans. The only way to know is, yeah you guessed it, travel.

I wish you all the best in your current and future travels. As my brother likes to say, may the people say that you veni, vidi, vici (came, saw, and conquered- in a non Columbus type of way). 🙂 ❤

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

Taking Stock – April 2018

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March 2018

This lip liner by P.S. in the color wine goes with me everywhere  I go and I imagine it will be a part of my makeup collection for the rest of my life. It’s been a while since my last “taking stock” ; So here goes another one.

Making: my room more of what I’ve always wanted. My new bedroom set comes with two 6 drawer dressers and a leather headboard on the bed. I’ve never really put a lot of effort into decorating my bedroom before so I think it’s about time to do so since eventually I might have to decorate a home (cue Drake’s God’s plan). 

Eating: Just ate some tacos for lunch as fuel for the preparation of Easter dinner with the family. I was actually impressed by the tacos at Moe’s Southwest Grill (fun fact: my older brother actually used to work there in high school).

Drinking: water. I try to drink at least a liter of water everyday so that’s my beverage of choice 99% of the time. It’s good for your skin and helps with digestion so get on that H20

Reading: a business book that my brother lent me called The Compounding Effect by Darren Hardy.

Playing: God’s plan by Drake as well as The Weeknd’s new album. I am also a fanatic for soundcloud afrobeats mixes especially for workout music. 

Creating: memories with family as always. My niece just started walking last month and watching her grow is still a blessing each and every day.

Wishing: that everyone has a happy and safe Easter holiday.

Enjoying: working evening shift. Any one who knows me knows that I am not a morning person. At my new job I was hired to be evening shift but I had to be training on morning shift.  The transition to evening shift has been wonderful for me and my sleep in lifestyle.

Liking: This gel nailpolish I bought. I am not allowed to have manicured hands at work since I have to make intravenous fluids from time to time and nail polish harbors bacteria. However, I am able to have pedicured feet so I bought nail polish for that purpose.

Wondering: when I should schedule my next massage. I have a monthly massage membership since I have a bad back and so far it has been money well spent. Massages have other benefits like decreasing stress and anxiety so definitely consider including it in your life.

Loving: new shoes that I bought from Public Desire (an online store based in the UK) and some from lolashoetique (based in California). If you like platform heeled shoes, UK stores are definitely the place to buy them (yes these shoes are like 5 inches tall but very comfortable).

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Hoping: that I will get to travel some for vacation by the end of the year, both locally and internationally.

Marvelling: at how fast this year is flying by. 2018 has been good to me so far. I hope the blessings may continue.

Wearing: a dress that my sister-in-law gave me. I love dresses that don’t require ironing and this is one of them so I am happy to have it.

Noticing: that there’s something powerful about writing stuff down. I’ve journaled quite a bit this year and it’s like therapy to me so I plan to maintain that practice.

Knowing: that there’s always a bigger plan. Life is about the journey, not the destination. Furthermore, Wins and losses are all part of the journey. You can’t always win and you won’t always lose so don’t stress too hard about life.

Thinking: that we should cherish people when they’re with us as being together forever is not always guaranteed. Whether those people are work mates, friends, family, or even teachers, we should make it our duty to be our best selves for each other and especially for our own selves.

Feeling: liberated that I am right where I want to be right now in my life. At peace and truly grateful.   Thank you for reading. 🙂 ❤ 

Happiness in marriage ft Will Smith

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2014 South Africa

I recently saw a video of Will Smith explaining how he and his wife were reflecting on the revelations they discovered about love during their marriage. The main revelation that Will shared is that he and Jada realized that your spouse cannot be responsible for your own happiness. He continues to share that someone can make you laugh or make you feel good but no one can make you feel happy. Happiness is one’s responsibility. The minute you place that responsibility on someone else is when you set yourself up for failure.

Will Smith even claimed that the concept that two people become one during marriage is a fallacy. As Frida Kahlo would say, you are the subject you know best so you are best suited to meet your needs. You are on your own journey while your spouse is on theirs. Your role should be supportive like a cheerleader and less of a “parental role”. I think this is why a lot of people complain later in life that they gave up their dreams for their spouse. If you’re trying to be one then merging both of your goals, desires, and interests is not going to be seamless. If you let your partner pursue their goals while you also do the same, there will probably be more success and less resentment in the relationship.

Lastly, Will stated that when you both you and your partner come to each other as full cups already fulfilled with your happiness then the relationship is more fruitful. I’ve noticed over the years in my parent’s marriage that when they both have their hobbies and time to themselves, they are a lot happier with each other. So yes I think Will and Jada are onto something. Maybe that’s why they’ve also aged so well. Low stress and happy marriage probably does equate with better aging so I will be taking this message to heart. If you’re interested in watching the clip of Will Smith discussing this topic, please see the link below. 🙂 ❤

 

Straight Outta Africa: culture & Black panther

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Oregon 2016

I can’t exactly pin point what year “African culture” started being popular around the world but it’s been an amazing phenomenon to watch. Artists on the continent such as Wizkid and Diamond are collaborating with American artists such as Drake and Ne-yo. I think a lot of us Africans never thought we’d see this happen. We all know that Africa is where humanity originated and in essence, we might all be Africans but the true understanding of Africa is usually lacking in the rest of the world. I can’t point fingers though because what the media portrays (poverty, sickness, and hunger) clouds the true image of Africa (which I can’t even define myself as you just have to see it for yourself).

After watching Black Panther, I am so proud to have some positive representation of Africa on screen. Obviously Wakanda, where the story is set, is a fictional place but the culture was based on true bits and pieces of Africa. For example, the blue blankets that some of the characters wore are actually from Lesotho which is a landlocked country in South Africa. Also, the language spoken (which I could understand a bit due to my time spent in South Africa) is Xhosa. Furthermore, the female warriors are actually based on a real female army in Western Africa. Simply stated Black Panther has made a lot of us proud to be of African descent and that is a really big deal.

Even before Black Panther though, people in the U.S. had started to wear dashikis and African printed prom gowns (the 90s were also notably into African culture with baby names and African braiding being popular). Like I said before, I am not sure when this African trend restarted in the 2000s. However, I can confidently say that Black Panther is the climax of this trend. I can’t wait to see what cross-cultural transfer has in store for us next.

Disclaimer: not all African cultures were depicted in Black Panther so don’t use the film as a way to generalize Africans. We all look different, dress different, eat different etc.