Anxiety & How to overcome it

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August 2019

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

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

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

 

The power of words

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New Orleans, July 2019

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

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

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

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

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

I wanna know guitar performance

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

LYRICS below:

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

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

Moi et toi
Est - ce vrais?
Je veux savoir

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

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

I wanna know
I wanna know

Lion King Movie Review ft East African Music

 

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July 2019

I know most of us have already watched the original lion king so there will be no spoilers from this review. The story from the first movie released in 1994 is pretty much the same in the 2019 release. Thankfully James Earl Jones is still alive to do the voice of Mufasa yet again because I cannot imagine anyone else doing it. Above all, the visuals were ridiculously amazing as they used images of real animals instead of cartoons. Beyoncé as Nala’s voice has been a source of frenzy among her wide fan base including me. She has even blessed us with a musical Lion King themed album entitled The Gift. However, there has been a bit of backlash from East Africans who felt that the album that Beyoncé released only featured West African artists while there are many solid East African artists who could have contributed to the album. This is especially controversial considering that Swahili, the second language used in the film, is an East African language. For example, mufasa means king while simba means lion in Swahili. And yes, “No worries” is actually “Hakuna Matata” in Swahili. As such, I will highlight 5 East African musicians who could have been featured on the album.

  1. Sauti Sol. 

Sauti Sol is a Kenyan band made up of four guys who have amazing vocal chords. This video is of an acapella performance that they did for the song “Kuliko Jana” which means “than yesterday”, as to say that today is better than yesterday. I think this song could have actually been a good background song for the movie especially in the beautiful ending of the Lion King story.

    2. Eddy Kenzo. 

Eddy Kenzo popularized the so called “ghetto dancing kids” from Uganda who were even featured in French Montana’s music video for the song “Unforgettable” with Swae Lee. I have seen him perform live in Dallas at a Kenyan event and he was amazing with so much energy.

    3. Selamawit Yohannes. 

I actually discovered Selamawit from a quick youtube search of top Ethiopian music which goes to show that there’s no excuse to being ignorant in this age of the internet. I have always loved Ethiopian music but somehow I forgot the names of the musicians so I need to work on that. Nevertheless, I love Ethiopian traditional dance and how they play the flute. Without a doubt, their music is very unique and would be a great addition to the Lion King movie soundtrack.

   4. Diamond Platnumz. 

Diamond is undeniably the most successful artist in East Africa right now so I do not know why he was left off the soundtrack. Diamond is such a diversified musician as he can make soulful r&b and club music easily. Basically, every song he touches turns to gold. If there will be another Lion King movie, he should not be forgotten especially since he sings in Swahili and English.

  5. Vanessa Mdee. 

Vanessa was at Essence Fest in New Orleans this year which goes to show that she is gaining popularity outside of Tanzania. I  would venture to say that she is Tanzania’s Beyoncé as she can sing, dance, and act (triple threat baby). I think her future is bright and she should be considered for Hollywood movies and soundtracks in the future.

Despite the lack of diversity in soundtrack, I do believe that the new Lion King is a worthwhile watch. Again, the visuals are absolutely beautiful and so surreal (the hyenas are a bit scary looking though so be ready if animals are a trigger for you). I really hope that we get a second film which has a more continent inclusive sound track. Also, I would really love a good backstory on Scar because understanding the psychology of a villain kind of excites me (Criminal Minds anyone?). I also just really love looking at images of lions so I think I could sit through hours of that haha. If you happen to watch the movie, feel free to comment with your thoughts 🙂 ❤

Half year Gratitude list

June 2019

With half a year officially gone, I would like to remind you that you are amazing for sticking through this thing we call life. Many people wanted to be here today and some did not make it so you definitely have something to be grateful for. I personally challenged myself to write 10 things that make me #blessed. Here we go:

1. That I have survived, may I say I have even thrived, in the first half of the year. All praise to the most high.

2. My niece can actually speak whole sentences now and it quite an intelligent little girl.

3. My brother has now been in the professional work force for a whole year. Congrats little bro.

4. My family has overcome challenges that life has thrown at us and it always makes us even stronger when we’re together

5. I started the year off in the motherland facing Mt. Kenya and on the equator line.

6. The tennis league that I am a part of qualified to the state championships where I won 2 matches and lost one.

7. I have been able to balance both my work and personal life.

8. I have had this blog for about 2.5 years now.

9. I got a pedicure this weekend and decided to be more adventurous so I got hot pink instead of my usual lilac color.

10. I bought some jeans online and when they came in the mail I was expecting to be disappointed. But to my surprise, they fit perfectly; even better than the ones I’ve bought in a walk-in store.

And with that, I hope my jean story inspires you to take more risk. FYI I bought a size up so in case they didn’t fit, I could gift them to my friend so maybe also karma rewards us when we think of others. Happy rest of 2019 😊❤️

My version of “waiting in vain” by Bob Marley

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

I wanna know

I am looking for that sign

That green light

That tells me go

Or that red light

That tells me no

—–

I wanna know

If this is real

If this is true

Me and you

Is this real?

Is this true?

I wanna know

——

Moi et toi

Est – ce vrais?

Je veux savoir

——-

They say time will tell

If this love is a spell

Or if we both truly fell

So hold on to those wedding bells

——

Cause I wanna know

If this is real

If this is true

Me and you

Is this real?

Is this true?

I wanna know

——

Moi et toi

Est – ce vrais?

Je veux savoir

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

Love: is there a formula?

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

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

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

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

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

What I’ve learned from celebrity relationships

meghan-markle-prince-harry-parenthood-1024x781.jpgIf celebrity relationships weren’t interesting, then most magazines would cease to exist because that is one of the prime reasons people buy them.  Shout out to our previous house owner who was subscribed to PEOPLE magazine so I get updated on Meghan Markle and Harry’s marriage every week (even though, paper mail gives me anxiety because of a) bills and b) tree deforestation for the purpose of paper). The main thing I learned from Meghan and Harry’s relationship is that if a man wants you, he will break all the rules to have you (i.e. marrying a divorced older woman). So with that, never accept an excuse from a man as to why he cannot be with you because a man will try to move heaven and earth if he really wants to be with you. With this post, I am doing the sandwich method where you present the good first, the bad second, and then finish with good. Therefore, the next two cases are not so romantic.

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Beyoncé & Jay Z. My main take away from their marriage is that Jay Z is likely to have cheated on one of the most beautiful women on this earth. Like that thought still crosses my mind in a while and I am just dumbfounded that this is even possible. But if he did, then she clearly has forgiven him and it is inspiring to know that level of forgiveness exists because clearly, I don’t have that much mercy on people. Especially for a woman who is independently successful to stay with a man that she doesn’t necessarily need, that is on another level for me. But maybe the possible beat down on Jay Z that happened on the elevator by Beyoncé’s sister, Solange, was enough to even the score.

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Khloe Kardashian& anyone. She has married a cocaine addict (Lamar Odom) and has recently been in the news for being cheated on by professional basketball player and maybe professional adulterer Tristan Thompson. In this recent debacle, she blamed the girl, Jordyn Woods, that Tristan supposedly kissed instead of making her man accountable for his actions. Lesson learned here is do not be so desperate that you accept whatever behavior a man throws at you. It is better to be alone than to be a doormat that just says WELCOME to anyone and everyone.

kim-kanye.jpgKim Kardashian & Kanye West. Unlike her sister Khloe, Kim has actually managed to have a seemingly beautiful relationship with Kanye. When the sex tape of Kim came out in 2003, I am pretty sure nobody thought that she would be happily married and with a family of four kids in 2019. But yet here we are and I think that is because Kim has really high self-esteem to the point that she did not let that oops moment define her (If anything, she capitalized on it and made money off it as many people are still Keeping up with the Kardashians). So the lesson here is to not let your last relationship be a setback; keep it moving and focus on your hustle as the rest will follow.

priya and nickPriyanka Chopra & Nick Jonas. What can I say? As someone who has been obsessed with Priyanka Chopra even before she crossed over to America with the show Quantico, I never thought she would end up with a man 10 years her junior. But to be honest, we do not usually find a problem with men dating younger women so I don’t think we should shame women for it either. To me, Priyanka and Nick both seem happy and that is what really matters. I am sure at age 36 and gorgeous, she has been courted by many men and knew what she wanted enough not to just settle for Nick. The main lesson I learned from this experience is not to rush love and jump into a relationship for the sake of it. As they say, good things come to those who wait.

will-smith-jada-pinkett-smith-01.jpgJada Pinkett-Smith & Will Smith. I do not believe in making anyone my role model because like Tupac said: “a role is something people play, a model is something people make, and both of those things are fake”. However, I will say that I admire Jada and Will’s relationship because they both seem like deeply introspective people who seek to understand themselves and each other in order to make their marriage really work. I know there are rumors at there that they have an open relationship but they have not come out to confirm that so I will dismiss that conversation. My favorite statement from Will Smith is from a recent YouTube video stating that he does not hold his wife responsible for his happiness. Happiness is a choice and only you can choose to make yourself happy. A relationship is not a hobby. Whatever made you happy when you were single should not be neglected just because you have a sidekick now. In essence, do not set unrealistic expectations on your partner. He or she cannot be your sun or your moon no matter how hard he or she tries.

I hope you all achieve and maintain happiness within you, with or without a relationship. 🙂 ❤

 

How to ENRICH your LIFE: La Joie de Vivre

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In summer of 2012, I interned at the Institute of Primate Research in Nairobi, Kenya where they conduct very groundbreaking research especially on tropical diseases (and before you ask, yes they conduct ethically sound research that follows World of Health Animal Research Protocols). My favorite part of the internship was the enrichment project where select staff, such as myself, played with the monkeys, chimps, and other primates for at least an hour a day. This enrichment project was created under the reason that the primates should still have a life with some daily fun even though they were being used for research. I was reflecting upon this experience recently and I realized that even humans are primates so we have to remember to always create some joy in our lives. The word enrichment is befitting because it enhances the value and quality of our lives. Another phrase that I love is “la joie de vivre” which is French for “joy of life”.

I personally find my joie de vivre in three things: art, food, and music. I just recently had a quick vacation to Houston that encompassed those three things so let me highlight them below in picture format.

ART (all pictures taken at Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX)

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FOOD

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The Savoy Restaurant is definitely a must-visit spot for Indo-Pakistani food. At the bottom left of the photo, you can see green specks in the naan which are cilantro and Jalapeno peppers. As such, this naan is called “the bullet” naan. This was my first time having it and now I am obsessed. Also, tried goat brain masala which was better than one could expect. My favorite, of course, was the goat biryani.

MUSIC

The main person that inspired my recent trip to Houston is Lauryn Hill as she had a concert lined up on Thursday, May the 9th. Despite bad weather and flash flood warning, we showed up and luckily, she did too. Her performance was amazing and she delivered considering 20 plus years have passed since the release of her album, The MisEducation of Lauryn Hill. Her guitarists and backup singers were on point too. Please watch the clip below for a morsel of her performance.

 

I hope you enjoyed this post and that you take time to reflect on how you can or will continue to ENRICH your LIFE. Thanks for reading 🙂 ❤

Guitar cover: Stay a little longer with me

This guitar cover is inspired by a song from a Bollywood movie known as Half-Girlfriend in which a boy agrees to a deal with a popular girl for her to be his half-girlfriend. I’ll stop there since I don’t want to give away the movie. However, I will link down the official music video of the song below:

Thanks to my dad for shooting the video for me and to my older brother for leaving his shoes in the video frame (I think it adds a nice touch lol). 🙂 ❤