5 Gift Ideas for the Holiday Season

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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 🙂 ❤

Don’t settle for less just because it’s available

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Orange Beach, Oct 2018

So many times in life we are presented with the conundrum (1. Noun. a confusing and difficult problem or question) of accepting something that is less than what we really want. This happens in our careers, romantic relationships, friendships, or even in basic things like what to wear. Some people choose to approach this by deciding to never compromise on anything if it’s less than what they want. Others choose to avoid conflict and accept something that is just good enough. I think both sides of this dilemma are a bit extreme. We can’t always get exactly what we want and we can’t always accept what we don’t want. So where does that leave us? I think it leaves us with having to mix and mesh both strategies. When it comes to serious things that completely affect your life like careers, romantic relationships, and friendships, you have to be decisive. You have to know at the basic minimum, what you want to do, who you want to be with, and who you want to be.

  1. So for example, I know that I’ve always wanted to be in the medical field and I am very happy with what I do. But don’t get me wrong, I do know I want to try different avenues in the future like maybe a more creative field. Therefore, I have an idea of how I like to work and do. If someone told me they would pay me a million dollars to be a surgeon, I would say no because I know I hate the sight of blood and other bodily fluids. So we should all come up with a list of interest and disinterests in order to figure out what we want to do with our lives.
  2. Romantic relationships. I saw someone on twitter saying that no matter who we end up, that person will be flawed. So love is knowing that you have to settle for that person’s flaw as well as their best attributes. In essence, you have to be so in love with their best attributes and not so disturbed by the worst attributes to be able make that relationship work. I am sure you have heard of imagining your potential partner as your future child and asking yourself if you would be happy if your child/children grew up to have the same qualities as your partner. And again, a list of “must haves” versus “would be nice to have” qualities for your future partner might help you in figuring this out. For example, I like tall men but that is definitely a would be nice to have versus a must have.
  3. I think that platonic relationships can be the easiest to settle for less than worthy because most of the time we are just looking for someone to hang out with, shop with, and listen to our problems. Rarely do we ever make a list of what qualities we want in our friendships and I believe that is why a lot of us endure a couple toxic friendships in our life. So I think in order to protect ourselves and our energy, we have to be just as decisive in our friendships. When someone is bringing negative energy in your life, you have to learn to distance yourself from that person. Being “friendly” is okay but you definitely do not have to be friends with someone that is bringing you down, whether mentally, emotionally, or spiritually. When you look for substance in your friends, you will end up with a strong circle of friends who motivate you, check you when you are wrong, and celebrate your success (that’s right, no haters).

 

I wish you all the best of luck in achieving success in all areas of your life. Remember success is based on what makes you happy versus society. Self-employment might be better than employment in a fortune 50 company. No ring on your finger might be better than a loveless union. Five friends might be better than having a million followers on social media. At the end of the day, do you and what makes you happy. 🙂 ❤

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. 🙂 ❤

How comparison is and is not the thief of joy

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hollywood walk of fame, Sept 2018

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

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

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

 

5 things I learned from the Marshall movie

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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

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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”

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August 2018, Fairhope

I would like to start by saying that if you have access to a good public library, then save your coins and your house from book clutter by borrowing books from the library. It supports your local community and maybe reduces your carbon footprint. Either way, reading is good for you because as we feed our bodies, we must also feed our minds. And if you ever want to really laugh, just read a book written by a comedian. I recently read Kevin Hart’s I can’t make this up which is a book with many little chapters and a lot of life lessons. Here are the top 5 lessons I learned from the book:

  1. If you’re going to hustle, hustle hard! A lot of people think that Kevin Hart is an overnight success but once you read the book you realize that his success climaxed after about 15 to 18 years of grinding. He toured a lot of small comedy clubs all over the US several times before being able to sell out basketball arenas.
  2. Life is an ebb and flow of ups and downs. Before becoming a household name, he had a few breaks such as being cast in movies like Soul Plane and Fool’s Gold which actually flopped at the box office. When Kevin Hart got cast in these movies he thought they were going to be his big breaks but for reasons beyond his control, it didn’t work out that way. However, he credits such experiences for humbling him and teaching him not to be overexcited about projects because you’re never know how they’re going to turn out.
  3. You can’t force a relationship to work. Kevin grew up with separated parents and he himself is now divorced from his first wife. His relationship with his wife had a lot of trust issues even in the dating face and for some reason they both thought marriage would make things better due to vows. However, they were both unhappy in the marriage and it took both of them a long time to realize that they would be happier apart from each either. The main thing Kevin worried about in divorcing his wife was whether it was the right move for his two kids. However, after a bit of separation, he realized that exposing his kids to a dysfunctional marriage would probably lead them to fall into the same cycle later.
  4. Stay positive and check yourself. We all have flaws and usually, they are our biggest obstacle to achieving success. If your work ethic isn’t there, then you’re not going to go far. If you have an addiction (which Kevin Hart admits to having alcohol binging and gambling problems), then you need to seek help. If you have bad spending habits, then you’ll never have a great net worth despite how much money you make. So analyze yourself and try to understand your flaws so you can eventually overcome them. Also, staying positive will give you a lot of peace.
  5. Teamwork makes the dream work. A lot of people (including myself before reading this book) don’t know that Kevin has a well-sized team that is mainly composed of his friends. One of his friends helps him write jokes, another helps with traveling logistics, another was opening his comedy shows for him, another was helping with organizing after parties for his shows, and then, of course, he had his comedy manager. Maybe, in the beginning, you can do it alone but as the African proverb states “if you want to go far, go together”.

I hope you pick up a book, whether today, tomorrow or later this month. Happy reading 🙂 ❤

What defines a “Cool guy” ft Ciara

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So Ciara was in the mix of some unwarranted comments from a man who has a theory that she is only with Russell Wilson because of his money. The man went on to say that deep down Ciara loves “cool guys” like Future and only settled for Russell. To counter these statements, Ciara posted a photo describing what a cool man is to her. One of the descriptions was that a cool man is “a man that carries himself as though you are in his presence even if you’re not.” I think that’s the statement that really shows that Future is not a cool man because he is not a responsible man. Future disrespected both Ciara and their son by cheating on her. As far as we know, all Russell has done is show Ciara and her son love and respect. So in my opinion, both Ciara and Russell won this argument. I hope they may continue to live happily ever after.

When I read the list of descriptions that make a man “cool”. It also reminded me of the want list that a lot of us have when we’re looking for a partner to spend our lives with. I think Ciara’s list is spot on. I am not sure if this is the list she used when looking for a partner after she broke up with future but it’s pretty clear that Russell has all those qualities. This week I was watching a Kenyan blogger, Ess (Sharon Mundia), who recently got a tv show called “living with ess” on NTV. One of her guests this week was a man who has been married for 7 years and was giving some great dating advice. One of the tips he mentioned is to have a list of what you’re looking for in a partner. He also went on to say that when we write something on a wish list, the more we see it wherever we go. He made this analogy with a phone where you’re interested in a particular phone and everywhere you go, you now start to notice advertisements for that phone. This may have something to do with the “law of attraction” which I can’t speak much about since I haven’t read that book. However, I am sure everyone would like a little help from the universe in getting what they want. 🙂 ❤