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Beyoncé in Black is King, 2020

Black is King. A simple three-word phrase that is synonymous with Beyoncé telling us fellow Black humans that we are glorious. In fact, she says “let Black be synonymous with glory.” If we focus on just glorifying blackness at the root, then she did that. But if we think about blackness as a big oak tree rather than a root, then she only scratched the surface. And she scratched that surface beautifully, might I add. With her beautiful rhythm of dance, color in super HD quality, regal hairstyles, and the celebration of black bodies, she did that exceedingly beautifully. However, what missed the mark for me was that the Black is King story focused on Africa. Yes, the Lion King is African and blackness as well as humanity originates in Africa but the Africa she chose to focus on was historical Africa instead of showcasing present-day Africa as well.

This is evident in the focus on historic Egyptian headpieces and traditional hairstyles such as those seen below.

It is also evident in the landscapes chosen as the backdrops chosen for the Black is King film which present Africa as just beautiful Natural Geographic worthy scenes without showcasing the developed cityscapes of Africa. Again, I do think that her point was to show historic Africa rather than present-day Africa so I can understand that vision. However, I am sure Beyoncé does not in the bushes when she visits African countries so why not the 5-star African hotels that she probably frequents. Why not show the Africa that exists today? Why not show landscapes different from what National Geographic shows already? Sure, adding her body and several dancers couples with great costumes does show a different perspective but this vision could have been bigger. Even the movie Black Panther tried to connect Africa with African Americans in the end with the scene shot in Compton. On the same note, I think Beyoncé could have tried to connect more dots in the film Black is King. Black is not just King when it relates to Africa. Black is King in the NBA, in the NFL, in music, in educational excellence, and the list goes on. People might say I am missing the point of the film but please think about the fact that Beyoncé’s last three tours did not include any African countries. So with that record, I can see how people can interpret that Beyoncé doesn’t truly care about Africa and is just using African culture for capitalistic gain. However, I do have to applaud her for her effort in glorifying Blackness. I did feel proud to be black while watching Black is King so if that was her mission then she achieved it. However, if she was trying to make a statement on Africa then she definitely missed that mark. Let me remind you that Africa is a continent made up of 54 countries. Fifty-Four. So maybe we are asking too much from Beyoncé in representing Africa cohesively. Maybe we should not expect that a film that is one hour and 25 minutes long can do so much for us. With that said, maybe we should just appreciate Black is King for what it is: a film with impeccable costumes, storytelling, and rhythm in dance as well as music.

The music is actually my favorite part about Black is King with “Find your way back” as my top song pick. I also appreciate that Beyoncé made an effort to collaborate with African musicians such as Yemi Alade, Shatta Wale, and Wizkid. While the representation of Africa was not cohesive,  I found the music to be well organized. I think great music is what we can truly expect from the multi-Grammy award-winning artists that Beyoncé is and she did that beautifully. So Beyoncé, please don’t go chasing waterfalls the next time you’re in Africa. We’ve seen enough African waterfalls. Show us something different. Please and Thank you.

Life in the time of coronavirus

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Tampa, Florida March 2020

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 🙂 ❤

https://omny.fm/shows/oprah-s-supersoul-conversations/07-190-make-love-last-022520-w-alt-header

Emotional honesty ft Bob Marley

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Houston- Dec 2109

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). 🙂 ❤

Meghan and Harry: the future of royalty?

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Unless you have been living under a rock, I am sure you have heard that the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, and Prince Harry will be leaving the United Kingdom and will not be active members of the British Royal Family. If someone made me a pseudo-princess and told me to just look pretty, I might love the job of being a Duchess. But let us not forget that Meghan has been subject to unfair invasion of privacy and scrutiny by the British tabloids. Let us also not forget that she was a working woman before Prince Harry and had already made millions on her own- while looking very pretty, I might add. Now let’s talk about Prince Harry.

Prince Harry was, of course, brought up in the British Royal Family since birth but has always been a rebel. For example, he joined the British army in 2006 and rose up the ranks to captain.  He served a total of 10 years which included some time in Afghanistan. The man, excuse- Prince, clearly loves his country enough to put his life at risk for it. So why does such a man decide to opt-out of the cozy life in the Royal Family? Maybe because he knows what happened to his mother. Princess Diana was constantly attacked by the media especially when she divorced Prince Harry’s father, Prince Charles. Divorce in the Royal Family was virtually unheard of unless you count the annulments of King Henry VIII from his multiple wives. However, Princess Diana had every right to do so as Prince Charles was cheating on her and in love with his mistress Camilla, who is now his wife and the Duchess of Cornwall.  Unfortunately, her decision to divorce led her to be critiqued for every little thing such as her clothing to who she dated after the divorce. The only time the criticism from the media stopped is when she died in a fatal car crash in 1997. Side note: I think I would consider naming my child Diana because my mom was obsessed with her as a young lady.

So when you mix the independent woman Meghan and the rebel Harry, what do you get? Class, the answer is a revolution. If Meghan and Harry do in-fact become financially independent of the crown, then this could be a major precedent for all royal families. That’s right, they should put that silver spoon down and go learn how to make their own money. And if all royal families can be independent of taxes and royalties, then I think that money can go to better things like the war on poverty. Also, can the royal family please give back Africa its jewels and artifacts.

In other words, I am impressed by what Meghan and Harry have done. Their child is truly blessed to have parents who are humble and independent thinkers. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Meghan and Harry who I will now call the Markle-David family because Harry’s full name is actually Henry Charles Albert David. I think he wins the record for having the most number of first names. I guess Prince Charles could not decide whether to honor himself or his father in Harry’s middle names. On the other hand, I am glad that Harry has decided to honor his wife, himself, and his child in deciding to leave the United Kingdom for life in North America. Who doesn’t love a man who stands up for his wife? I am sure this is going to be a movie one day and I hope to God, it will be an Oscar-worthy film and not a cheesy lifetime movie like the last one. May God bless Meghan and Harry 🙂 ❤

You vs I

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Houston, 2019

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.

Thank you for reading 🙂 ❤

Three Kenyan movies to watch this holiday season

my brother & I looking like movie stars, 2019

I would like to start this movie review by saying that people should seriously consider watching foreign films if they haven’t already. I love Indian movies particularly and of course, Kenyan movies make me feel like I am home. From the beautiful shots of the capital city Nairobi to the eye candy actors/actresses, the following Kenyan movies are Hollywood quality in my opinion. Maybe we need to coin a new term “Kenwood” or “Kenywood”. Anyway, while we keep brainstorming on a possible name, let me convince you why the following three movies are worth your time. Because as we know, time is money.

You again

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I just watched this captivating movie this December and it stars one of my favorite Kenyan actors: the oh-so-handsome and talented, Nick Mutuma. I am sure we will see Nick in Hollywood one day because he’s just that good and he is consistent in You Again where he plays a character who is unemployed due to being fired from his last job. Similarly, his ex-girlfriend from college finds herself looking for work. Coincidentally, they both found work at the same place. The problem is that they can’t stand each other’s gusts. As such, their attitudes towards each other may put their careers in jeopardy unless they resolve their issues. The ex-girlfriend role is played by newcomer Mimi Mars who does a great job executing the tom-boy role. She is also a woman of principle which is why the movie is not your typical romantic comedy. It touches on serious issues such as inequality in the workplace specifically how women are treated as wallflowers that are just supposed to sit there and look pretty. If I were to rate this movie, I would give it 4/5 stars as the supporting characters also did a wonderful job in adding humor and charm to the movie. It is also a family-friendly movie that could be watched with parents and children alike. So without further ado, please see the link below to watch this entertaining movie for free:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UyNcdSPmkSo

Plan B

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As you can tell from the title Plan B, someone will be getting pregnant in this movie.  What I love most about this film is that it is pan-African with a Nigerian producer (Lowla-Dee) and while most of the actors are Kenyan, the male stare Daniel Etim Effiong is a very talented Nigerian actor. His character acts tough and dismissive until Sarah Hassan’s character softens him up. Again this story isn’t just a romantic comedy as it highlights legal issues such as paternity, single-parent upbringing, and child support. It also shows a bit of Kenya’s music scene and urban environment. I love the ending but of course, I won’t ruin it for you. From what I remember, the movie does not display nudity so I would give this movie a G-rating for family friendliness. This movie is also free so please check it out below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1Hii5thnhI

Disconnect

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This movie also stars Nick Mutuma but with a different love interest played by Brenda Wairimu. It explores such topics as the friend-zone, cheating, and depression. Nick is the ever supporting friend who exceedingly cares for his female best friend Brenda. Despite this seemingly predictable set-up of a romantic comedy, the ending of the movie is actually surprising. There is also some diversity as one of the characters in the film is of Indian descent as Kenya is actually habited by many different cultures. Also, Brenda’s character is a dentist and who doesn’t love beautiful independent women. In the spirit of independence and supporting actors, this movie is actually for rent on Vimeo for only $3.99. The movie does have some sexual references so keep that in mind if watching it with family. It might be better to host a movie night with friends so you just pay $3.99 and split between your friends. The rental allows viewing for 48 hours so no worries if you get distracted during a Vimeo and chill situation *wink*wink* Either way, please check it out below:

https://vimeo.com/ondemand/149469

 

“Happiest place on earth” – Disney World Review

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Orlando, FL. October 2019

 

I would like to start by saying thank you to my best friend for doing the most in planning her bachelorette week celebration in Orlando, Florida. My family and I went to Universal Studios and Sea World when I was a kid so I was mostly excited about Disney World. As the blog title suggests, Disney World is known as “the happiest place on earth”. It should also be known as one of the most expensive places on earth as a bottle of water is like $5 U.S. dollars but anyway it was worth it. The place is truly and utterly beautiful, especially the magic kingdom where the picture to the left is taken. On the first day, I dressed up in “Princess Jasmine” inspired attired with a matching crop top and pant set from Fashion Nova (I bought this last year so it may no longer be on their website). My second favorite place was Epcot which features several recreations of different cities around the world and world cuisine including Tusker from Kenya. Disclaimer: Epcot food can never live up to the original world cuisine but most of the curated items are tasty (see pic below).

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peri peri skewered shrimp with rice on plate 1. curried beef on plate 2. Tusker Kenyan Beer in the lone cup.

The Magic Kingdom: A major part of what makes the magic kingdom so magical is the cinderella castle which is so captivating and which lights up at night. In addition, there is a fireworks show surrounding the castle at 9pm every night. And this is a fireworks show that you can actually write home about (case in point, this blog). I also loved pretending that I was Princess Jasmine when we found a bazaar that resembled those in the movie. (See pics below).

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Finally, let’s not forget the main event which was my best friend’s bachelorette celebration. I had a really fun time being around her and the other bridesmaids. Disney has a lot to offer although their rides are not really scary. I can’t wait to continue the celebration at the wedding in less than 30 days. Woohoo! Cheers to the soon to be newlyweds! 🙂 ❤

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Epcot, Disney World, October 2019

Thanks for reading and Happy Thanksgiving! ❤

 

Love poem- How was your day?

I would like to start this blog post by giving a shout out to my friend Ola who wrote this beautiful poem for a beautiful woman.

To be honest, I was shocked by his talent and I think he needs to perform this poetry live because it has great flow.

To answer your questions, Ola is like a little brother to me so I try to be his wing woman. Any ladies out there who want to be the beautiful woman by his side, come talk to me. ❤️🙏🏾

This question I ask
to catch the attention of this angel
on my mind all day
Curiously, I say
How was your day?

This question I hope
the birds, wild and fishes
in the mountains, forest, and seas
will scream with me
How was your day?

This question I know
Presidents, Kings, Queens, and everyone
upon seeing this angel named Renee,
will chant with me
How was your day?

This question I pray
The Cherubims, Seraphims
and all the heavenly host
will chorus with me
How was your day?

————————————–

More poetry and blog posts to come. I am sorry for my brief break from posting as my life went from 0 to 100 real quick with work, tennis, family, etc. I hope you are all excited for the holiday season. ❤️

Tapping into your inner voice ft Monk Mentality

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Kenya countryside- January 1st 2019

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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. 🙂 ❤

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. 🙂 ❤