5 Gift Ideas for the Holiday Season

holiday season pic
December 2018

The larger a family grows, the more gifts there are to buy. I think I’ve bought at least 10 gifts for my niece this year. When I travel, I have to buy her something because that’s what you do for babies. I also try to buy ” I saw this and thought of you” gifts for my family every once in a while. For example, this Friday I went to TJ Maxx to buy a gift for my new nephew and saw a yoga mat that reminded me of my mom. So what did I do? I bought two yoga mats, one for me and one for my mom so that we can do yoga at home together.  I’ve not always been so thoughtful in buying gifts so here is a list of things that are wonderful gift ideas to help in this giving season.

  1. Pajamas. Socks are probably the go-to for most people but just as a person can not have enough socks, a person can never have enough pajamas. Personally, I think pajamas are also a bit more thoughtful than socks.  I just bought myself a summer pajama set because I will be in a warm country for vacation soon. I also bought myself a red with green lines as a holiday set for the winter and because it reminded me of these flannel pajamas I wore when I was a kid in my first year living in the U.S. Enough about me but the lesson here is that if your gift can evoke nostalgia then you are on the right track.
  2.  Wallet. Both women and men need a change up in their “coin purse” every now and then. I know I could definitely use a new wallet * wink* wink* and would love not to spend my own money buying something to put my money in. And most of us ladies, love matching our bag with our wallet so it wouldn’t hurt to have one in every color.
  3. Framed photos or art. If you don’t have a lot of money available for gift giving, photos or art are very low-cost options. Obviously, you want to pick either a photo of the person or a photo of you with the person.  If you’re going to make some art for the person, think of what would go well with their house or persona.
  4. Sports or hobby-related gifts. Almost everyone has a hobby or sport they like to play. Hobbies as I alluded to in my previous post, can be sometimes expensive. Therefore, any money spent on supporting a person’s hobby is usually well appreciated. If they are into sports, sports clothing can be a good idea. If they are into a hobby like art, for example, buying tools such as paint brushes would also be very useful.
  5. A gift card, only if it is specifically for something that they like. Please don’t buy a VISA gift card with money on it cause that is not as thoughtful as buying one for a specific thing. One year, I remember buying my best friend a gift card to a restaurant that she frequented very often and she told me that she got quite a number of meals out of it. I have also gotten gift cards towards massages for some of my family before and they have been appreciated. Some people think getting gift cards for people is being lazy but it can be one of the most useful gifts in my opinion. The key is to get one for something that person really really likes.

I hope these suggestions help you in your gift hunting this season. But please don’t forget that the reason for the season is love, not gifts 🙂 ❤

5 things that I am grateful for

holiday pic
November 2018
  1. My family. I love being back at home and enjoying the company of my family, including the new additions such as my niece. I’ve been home for everyone’s birthday this year and it feels good to not have missed a beat like before when I was in school in Boston.
  2. My friends. This year I have met a number of new people that have been so generous with their love and time. I do not take it for granted as it restores my faith in humanity. Also, I am always grateful for old friendships that have continued despite the test of time.
  3. My hobbies. I heard someone at work say “we work so we can afford our hobbies.” I have to agree this is true for me because some of my hobbies are actually quite expensive such as tennis, kickboxing, and eating delicious food. However, I will say there are certain hobbies that can be as cheap as buying a pencil such as writing and drawing which I also do enjoy.
  4. My work. Without my job, it would be hard for me to afford the material things that I need/want. The key word is material because money can’t buy peace, love, or happiness. I am also grateful that I find my job fulfilling by helping to save lives. I have also been volunteering my time to high schools and a tutoring program so I am happy that my work schedule allows for that.
  5. My blog. I love that I have created this outlet for my creativity and that it has received so much support from all of you who frequent this space. I am grateful to have such an opportunity and do intend on sharing my creativity even more.

Thank you all for reading. Please feel free to share your gratitude list. 🙂  ❤

Houston trip review

They say everything is bigger in Texas and that definitely holds true even for the food. My best friend is Vietnamese so she oriented to the best place for pho (soup). I have had plenty of pho in my life but this was on another level as it was served with a bone full of bone marrow. One thing that is also big in Houston is the graffiti which I totally had to pose with throughout the trip.

Secondly, the events were popping that weekend. On Friday, we attended an African fashion show held on a hotel rooftop which was very cool. As expected, those in attendance were dressed to the max and I did my best to do the same. As part of the show, different well dressed were nominated from the show (including myself). Surprisingly, I actually won best dressed. Thank you mom and dad for good taste lol.

On Saturday, we enjoyed some wonderful South African food from a restaurant in Houston known as Peli Peli in the Galleria mall. I love lamb and the lamb did not disappoint although the portions were small. Apparently, the portions are bigger for dinner as compared to lunch which is what we had opted for. They also have a wonderful chicken liver dish which was surprisingly tender and juicy. Afterwards, we joined my best friend’s coworkers for a bicycle bar hopping event which was basically a bar crawl except you ride bikes to and from each bar. We were fashionably late mainly due to me so we met everyone at the final bar which is a baseball themed bar called Eighth wonder which had fun games like corn hole and several food trucks to peruse from. We chose to try some pulled pork ribs with fries and jalapenos that were actually quite a hit (Pictured below). To close the night, we opted for Korean Karaoke which is much easier than normal karaoke because you get a private room for you and your group instead of having to sing in front of random strangers. A fun night of belting the wrong notes was had, so much so that I low key lost my voice for a bit.

On the final day of the trip, Sunday, we had tacos for breakfast and actually went to church. The church was a very progressive church and the sermon series was about science and religion. As such, they held a panel that Sunday with different church members that work in the scientific field. They had an online forum where those in attendance could send questions for the panelists to answer which was very cool. Afterwards, I had a while before my flight so we decided to venture into Ikea as I had never been there before despite the fact that Boston has Ikea as well. I was pleasantly surprised that most of the furniture there is actually very affordable and very functional.

This was actually my second trip to Houston. Last time, I was there was 2016 and I hope it won’t take me 2 years to make another trip there. Thanks for reading. 🙂 ❤

Self-love: Love is a Verb.

bday pic 2018I would like to start this post by thanking God for granting me another year on this planet as this was my birthday month. I think this year was one of the best years I have ever had. This year was characterized much maturity and love. Love from others but most importantly from myself. Recently I stumbled upon a song by John Mayer titled “love is a verb”. After looking up the lyrics for the song, I felt like sharing them with everyone I know. But instead of spamming people’s inboxes, I decided to include them as part of this post. So here are the lyrics from the song “love is a verb”.

"Love is a verb
It ain't a thing
It's not something you own
It's not something you scream
When you show me love
I don't need your words
Yeah love ain't a thing
Love is a verb
Love ain't a thing
Love is a verb

Love ain't a crutch
It ain't an excuse
No you can't get through love
On just a pile of I-O-Us

Love ain't a drug
Despite what you've heard
Yeah love ain't a thing
Love is a verb
Love ain't a thing
Love is a verb
So you gotta show, show, show me
Show, show, show me
Show, show, show me
That love is a verb

You gotta show, show, show me
Show, show, show me
Show, show, show me
That love is a verb

Love ain't a thing
Love is a verb

I hope these lyrics help people to realize that love really is a verb. You can tell who loves you by their actions. In fact, my dad has always told me that “love is taking care”. Taking care of others and most importantly, yourself. Because if your love for yourself is so strong it means that you are taking care of yourself so that you might be able to love/take care of your neighbor/lover as you do for yourself. Thank you all for reading my blog. I do not take your support for granted.  I hope the next time someone tells you that they love you, that you don’t believe them unless they have actually shown that through actions. 🙂 ❤

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 😃❤

Guitar cover of Free Fallin by John Mayer/Tom Petty

I know it has been a minute since I have posted a guitar cover and to be honest, it was because I chasing perfection. I recently started listening to a podcast called Jesus and Jollof with Yvonne Orji and Luvvie who preach about not chasing perfection as most of the time it leads to procrastination. So here goes a guitar cover that is far from perfect but I am glad I finally got it done. The song “Free Fallin” is originally by Tom Petty but most famously to me by John Mayer. Every time I listen to this song, I literally feel like I am free and to be free is to let go of all worry, doubt, and fear. So here is my new life mantra: “I am free”. I hope you may enjoy my cover and the original song (both of which I will post below). Thanks for reading and listening. 🙂 ❤

 

 

How comparison is and is not the thief of joy

0902181748c_HDR
hollywood walk of fame, Sept 2018

         I know this is a complicated title but I think it is going to make a lot of sense in the end. So I recently watched a sermon by Steven Furtick who is the lead pastor at Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. In his sermon, he talks about confidence and how we must lose confidence in the flesh (ourselves and other humans) by gaining confidence in the Lord. He also addresses how our comparison to others can be a bad thing while comparing ourselves to Jesus/God can be a good thing. Why? Because God/Jesus isn’t using mad filters and great photography angles while wearing Gucci sandals to post on Instagram. God/Jesus is perfect and therefore, does not have to fake it till he/she makes it. God/Jesus does not even have a star on the Hollywood walk of fame. Therefore, when we look up to God/Jesus we are pursuing an authentic purpose where comparing ourselves to other flawed beings is pointless.

            This sermon really touched base for me because I have been/still is that person that is faking it till they are making it and setting unnecessary pressures on myself because I have confidence in my flesh. Really I should be reminding myself of the grace that God has given us to make mistakes and not be perfect like him/her. So recognizing that you are just human is really important especially when your role models are humans. I came to realize at the end of my college years (my last graduation was last year by the way so I still remember them pretty well) that all the people I looked up to were inherently flawed. There were professors that I looked up to due to their work ethic but their love life was in shambles. There were career mentors that I looked up to who valued work more than mental/emotional health. All this kind of crushed me at first because I had to re-evaluate what I was chasing but eventually it led me to have peace and faith in something greater than myself.

            I initially discovered pastor Steven Furtick when I was going through that tough re-evaluation time where I had a lot of anxiety about the future. Despite being very hip and wearing Yeezy’s to church which some of the older generations would frown upon, Furtick has really great messages and I find him pretty funny which is a great quality for a pastor to have. I think if I lived in Charlotte, I would go to church every Sunday but since he is not, I watch him on YouTube. For those curious about him, I will link this particular sermon below. I hope you may find peace and meaning in your life. That to me is Nirvana (enlightenment) but that is a story for another time.

 

5 things I learned from the Marshall movie

family 2 30th pic

The Marshall movie was released last year starring Chadwick Boseman (the Black Panther himself) as probably the most famous black lawyer, Thurgood Marshall. Thurgood Marshall won several landmark cases during the civil rights era such as Brown vs Board of Education which lead to the end of segregated schools. The movie however focuses on one specific case where a black man is accused of raping his white female employer. I don’t want to ruin the movie for anyone but let’s just say Marshall is the lawyer you would want if you were accused of something you didn’t do. The only sad part about the movie is that for a $12 million budget, the movie only made $10 million at the box office which is not a reflection of how good the movie is. So go out there and watch this movie because I definitely learned a lot from it.

  1. Haters gonna hate. We all know this modern proverb but imagine if you’re in the 1940s where segregation is the law. Would you let the stereotypes that white people had about your race let you think less of yourself? Your answer then should have been No and your answer today should still be No because there are still people who have segregation mentality.
  2. Always have the mentality of a winner no matter the odds against you. If Marshall could win court cases in the segregation era, you can win at whatever you put your mind to in this era. In the movie, there were so many factors that were against Marshall and his partner but they never took the easy way out. They faced threats for being involved in the case and still went to work like everything was okay. They did their best and that is what life is about. So go out there and do your best.
  3. Sacrifice is inevitable. Due to Marshall’s career that took him all over the country, he did not get to spend a lot of time with his family. This was clearly difficult for him but he knew that helping attain civil rights and helping the innocent from erroneous prosecution was bigger than him. He was purpose driven and eventually, he became a Supreme Court Justice. In essence, he is his “ancestors’ wildest dream.”
  4. Keep a good circle of peers around you. Marshall was friends with Langston Hughes and other black artists at the time. His peers kept him grounded and reminded him of his purpose which is really important especially when times get hard.
  5. Have strong morals and values that you hold yourself accountable to. Marshall once said that “You do what you think is right and let the law catch up” meaning that the law is not always ethical. In your career, there are policies that might not actually be helpful to people and sometimes doing the “right thing” is better than doing things in the supposed “right way.”

May we continue to honor those who have paved the road before us. And may we all continue to be our “ancestors’ wildest dreams.” Thanks for reading. 🙂 ❤

5 tips on how to survive most work environments

work pic.png
Post-work photo, July 2018

As you can see in the picture my work uniform is all black. Each department in a hospital usually has its own color for scrubs, like the OR/surgical area is usually green while nurses wear blue. In some hospitals, pharmacists wear blue too but I ended up in a hospital where the pharmacy department wears black. As a black wardrobe enthusiast, I was still a little disappointed because my favorite color is blue. However, I have come to love it as the attire reminds me of what a ninja would wear. So here I am, a pharmacist by day and a ninja by night haha.

  1. Have little to zero expectations. The number one killer of happiness is having a set mind on how you want something to be. Usually, this something is beyond your control. As you may have already found out by now or will eventually figure out, you cannot control your work environment unless you are a big shot like Oprah who owns a lot of resources in her line of work. But big shots aren’t born overnight so even Oprah had to deal with work environments that she did not control when starting her career. So have very little expectations about your job especially the personalities of the people you’ll work with. Which brings me to my next point: co-workers.
  2. Learn to deal with many different personalities. Some people may not be as mature as you and trust me, most of your co-workers won’t think the way you do. Some may not be able to understand your differences but hey they did not bring you into this word, so you shouldn’t expect them to even like you. Remember you were hired because you have the qualities and skills needed for the job so that’s what you should focus on that. Work isn’t meant to be the place where you make friends with people (that’s a bonus if it happens). You were hired to provide a service and that’s what you should focus on.
  3. When you walk in the door of your job, leave your home life there. Similarly, when you walk out the door of your job, leave your work there. If you work from home, have an at home office where you only focus on that space so you don’t overwhelm your home with work. Of course, sometimes you’re going to remember something you should have done at work and might have to follow up on that. But if you’re thinking about small things like something insensitive that a customer or employee might have done, then you’re letting someone live in your head rent free. If that happens, find someone to talk it out with, like a family or friend, then let that situation go.
  4. Exert yourself but try to develop some work-life balance as well. I play tennis at least twice a week and I am doing Pilates once a week now. I also get a monthly massage. I also read pretty frequently and don’t forget about this blog writing. All in all, I would say that I am taking pretty good care of myself. However, there is always room for improvement: I have slacked off on making art and playing guitar. I did play my guitar at a couple times last week so I am working on that. What are you doing to work on you as an individual?
  5. Be easy on yourself. No one becomes successful in their job overnight. We all start as amateurs at everything we do. Remember that one time you had to be potty trained. Imagine someone having to teach you how and where to take care of your excrements. Well, you don’t have to imagine it because it happened but you just don’t remember it. So now imagine someone training you how to be an accountant or a doctor or even an artist. It’s going to take time before you are the next Leonardo da Vinci, Steve Jobs, Michelle Obama, Oprah, you name it. Always practice patience especially with yourself because most of us tend to be harder on ourselves.

I wish you love, light, and peace in your journey of achieving job satisfaction (most of all, peace). Thank you for reading 🙂 ❤

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

earring model 3
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 🙂 ❤