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. 🙂 ❤

Most important male quality

September 2019

I wrote this in the air, so it’s coming hot off the clouds

In the next sentence, I am going to share the most important quality that women look for without even knowing. Drum roll, please. Above all, a woman wants a man with a sense of humor.

Why? Because we want to be happy. And sure buying us gifts and being financially secure can make a woman happy but that’s not something a man can sustain 24 hours, 7 days a week. Humor, on the other hand, is something that is limitless. A man can make you laugh literally every hour on the hour that you are with him or available via phone.

It is true that you cannot eat laughter or even be housed by laughter but humor should still be a requirement for the life partner you choose. Imagine marrying a guy who doesn’t even have the capacity to make dad jokes to your kids. In fact, I think research shows that your life expectancy increases based on laughter and in turn, happiness. So get that guy with a retirement plan that includes savings but also the bag of jokes he’s gonna use in old age. I have this joke planned where I pretend that my memory is shoddy and start flirting with my husband like I’ve just met him for the first time. Like, asking him “hey do you come here often?” while we are in our house. Please let me know within the next 40 years if this is a cruel joke or forever hold your peace.

So the moral of the story is that as much as we all love biceps and deep pockets, a funny bone working 40 hours a week and maybe some overtime should be a major aspiration for all men. Another argument for humor is that it gets better with time. Your looks, on the other hand, are not promised to be in the positive every year. Not all men are Idris Elba who manages to look better each and every year. Let’s have a moment of silence for Idris’s peppered beard right now and can the congregation say “silver fox”. And by the way, have you noticed that Idris also seems to have a great sense of humor?  The man is all about self-development as he is a DJ, producer, actor, kickboxer, father, and husband. I hope the men reading this are taking notes and create a plan on how to level up. If you don’t have humor in your current arsenal, level up! If all you have is humor, also level up!

Thank you for reading. 🙂 ❤

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. 🙂 ❤

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 🙂 ❤

The power of love

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July 2019

This past weekend I had the pleasure of witnessing a beautiful wedding in the breathtaking location of Boothbay Harbor, Maine (Congrats again to the newly wedded couple). It feels like forever since I attended a wedding but it’s only been like 2 years haha. My first career in life was being a flower girl. In fact, some brides were begging my mom for me to be in their wedding but at some point, she had to say no because attending multiple weddings in a year can really deplete your pocket. My cousin tells me that I wasn’t very good at being a flower girl since I did not smile a lot but I guess I was cute enough to be marketable. We were both flower girls at her parents’ wedding and I can tell you she did a way better job than me. There’s photo evidence to prove that I was “stone face” instead of radiating with smiles like she was. Fast forward, years later and I am supposed to be the maid of honor in my best friend’s wedding so I guess that is kind of a promotion. Don’t worry, I’ll make sure to smile from ear to ear even if I get lock-jaw.

Smiley or not, witnessing the union of two people is a blessing. Weddings are always a reminder of the power of love. Love is one of the few forces that can transcend race, class, education, and even politics. Also, it is a force that can grow exponentially. At the wedding I attended this weekend, one of the speakers remarked that how greatly the bride loves her groom now will grow even more with time. Often we love someone so much that we cannot imagine loving them more but wait until they are the mother or father to your children. My father spoke at the rehearsal dinner and revisited his tested and true theory that “love is taking care” (now that I think about it, the children’s book Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince) also has this central theme). To summarize, don’t just tell someone you love them when showing them love actually means more. Other married couples, came up to my dad to show appreciation for his message so I think my dad is on to something.

To reference Le Petit Prince a little bit, love is like a flower. It is undeniably beautiful but you have to handle it with care. You cannot give it too little or too much water. You have to protect it from the elements such as wind. And people say when you talk to plants, they grow better so communication is key in gardening just like in love. Also if you do your gardening right, one plant can bloom many flowers and even help the ecosystem by helping produce pollen for the bees. Bees then pollinate the world further and increase the number of plants in the world so that we have enough oxygen being released in the air. Similarly, one love story can inspire more love in the world and I think weddings provide a great forum for just that. I am sure every married couple that goes to a wedding gets inspired to love their spouse more while every single person gets inspired to prioritize love in their life. So yes love is truly powerful. May we vow to treat it as the precious force that it has the power to be. 🙂 ❤

Love, success, and the universe

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June 2019

I would like to start this post by questioning what exactly the phrase “hopeless romantic” actually means. I have heard people use it as both as a positive and negative term either meaning that you are stupid for being a hopeless romantic or you are courageous for being one. When I googled “hopeless romantic”, the top definitions were negative such as the following from Dictionary.com: “a hopeless romantic is a person who holds sentimental and idealistic views on love, especially in spite of experience, evidence, or exhortations otherwise.” Surprisingly, Urban Dictionary had a very lengthy and positive write up on hopeless romantics. Here’s my favorite section from the write up: “Hopeless Romantics are NOT Hopeless per-say, but very true, caring, and loving people. They are “NOT MADE FOR TODAY’S STANDARDS”, sadly. They believe in passion, chivalry, and true love.” Based on how I think the universe works, I think the Urban Dictionary definition is more correct.

            I believe in the concept of faith and good effort being rewarded (some people call it karma). So with that positive force of energy of the universe rewarding us, I think truly believing in love makes you a “Hopeful” romantic not a “Hopeless” romantic. Even if the current relationship that you are nurturing does not work, you are preparing your heart for the relationship that will work. Of course, you always need to have your priorities right in life and there are times where you feel like you need a break from relationships (whether due to school, work, or other reasons). However, I think if you find what you are looking for and at an appropriate time in your life then you would probably regret a missed opportunity if you did not pursue it.

           So maybe we should hope more and doubt less. If you’re gonna do something, do it to the fullest. Because when people give us advice for success, they tell us things like “shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land upon the stars.” My home room teacher in 6th grade had that quote on a poster and it always peaked my interest. I think to me in education terms it meant, shoot for an A+ so if you don’t get exactly a 100, you could still have an A or A-. In love terms, I think it means that if you really feel good about a relationship, give it a really good effort and even if it doesn’t work out, you’ll be one step closer to finding the person that you’re supposed to be with.

            I hope in 50 years (God willing), I can come back to tell you that this theory worked out for me. A lot of things in life are won by mental and emotional strength, so what you believe can make or break you. I choose to believe that the universe is conspiring for us because it gives me positive energy. And at times it can make you, fearless and full of hope. So with that I choose to be a HOPEful romantic that is fearLESS. May we all extinguish fear from our lives and be one step closer to success. 🙂 ❤

 

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. 😃❤️