5 things learned from watching “This is Us” (no spoilers)

looking like mom
Dec 2018

I first started watching This is Us while I was in Boston Spring 2017. The show actually started September 2016 but I am always fashionably late to watching shows which allows me to watch the show at my own pace. I am actually not all caught up with the current season so please don’t ruin it for me. To say the least, “This is Us” is a tear jerker and “aww-inducing” kind of show filled with family tragedies and milestones. It is very real and the cinematography of life in the 70s, 80s, and the current day is very spot on. The show centers around a family of 5 known as the Pearson’s, which consists of 2 boys, a girl, and a set of heterosexual parents. Sounds pretty normal except that one of the boys is adopted and black in race while the rest of the family is white. Furthermore, their father dies when the kids are teenagers which sets the course of the rest of their lives. Based on the fact that they all idolize their father, he plays a great role in the lives despite his death. Therefore, the show is filled with drama and heart-wrenching moments of seeing how their story unfolds with different coping mechanisms and challenges. But despite all this drama, there is a lot to learn from the “This is Us” story.

  1. Family should always come first. Treat your siblings well. Treat your parents even better because, at the end of the day, they are the people who will come running to help you in moments of trouble. I can honestly say that my brothers are in my top 3 of best friends in this world because they know me very well. We have a lot of inside jokes and lots of memories together since we’re all so close in age. I jokingly said to my little brother this week that we have to buy houses right next to each other for those moments when we have some “tea to spill.” I’ll also probably need him to set up my TV in the house lol.
  2. Everyone deals with loss differently so don’t judge people for how slowly they recover or if they never recover because both are very likely to happen. Some people find comfort in substances of abuse, others in food, and others in finding something they can control. This is why I think therapy is so important when facing a tragedy in your life. Talking to a therapist can really help you face your emotions instead of drowning them.
  3. Adoption can be a very beautiful thing especially if the child becomes part of a new family shortly after being born. Ever since I was a teenager, I have been interested in adopting children one day especially children from disenfranchised parts of Africa. I still haven’t decided if I want to open an orphanage or just adopt a few children but I do think the former option might be more impactful.
  4. When we have a dream career and something happens to make that dream pretty much impossible, pick up the pieces and try something different. I really honestly believe that we all have so many different potentials for our life. For example, I am currently in the medical field which I am very passionate about but I am also passionate about fashion, politics, and business. So like that good old saying, never put all your eggs in one basket.
  5. The person you marry has a very monumental impact on your life, always handle that decision with great care. Yes, we all have feelings of passion towards certain people but you should also think about how that person handles challenges. Because life will definitely throw challenges at you. This has been evident throughout the test of time.

Thank you for reading. What are you watching right now and what have you learned from it? Hopefully not to kill thousands of people in efforts of gaining power for your family like Game of Thrones. 🙂 ❤

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 🙂 ❤

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. 🙂 ❤

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. 🙂 ❤

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.

 

New Olreans ft Essence fest trip

I am a visual person so the best way to show someone New Orleans is through an in-person tour or in pictures. My brother and I went on Saturday for Essence Fest and intended on coming back that same night. However, New Orleans has some magic and a family friend of ours who was there for a girls trip invited us to join them that night. Eventually, it was too late to go home so we crashed at their beautiful air bnb and did leave until Sunday evening. I didn’t take any pictures at the concert because my phone was dying but just to break it down for you: Missy Elliot, Queen Latifah, Salt and Pepa, Brandy, Xscape, and Mary J. Blige all had really awesome performances. Without further ado, let’s get to the photos.

Food:

 

Day Activities : click arrow for next picture in slideshow

 

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Art:

 

Let me just say that the food in New Orleans never disappoints. Definitely, a must visit place if you’re ever in the Gulf Coast area of the U.SA. And yes I do believe in magic….New Orleans magic 🙂 ❤

Taking Stock: June

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At Home Decor, June 2018

The last time I did a taking stock post was April which is a different season so it just makes sense to do one for the summer season we are now in.

Making: my bedroom prettier with each run to furniture and home décor stores. My bedroom theme is mainly black and white although my bedding colors are mainly dark blue and white. I totally revamped my room this year with new furniture, carpet, and bedding. I wouldn’t call myself an interior designer but I do know what I like. So far, I am happy with the look.

Eating: is not as healthy as it usually is. I blame this on the summer season because it inspires you to eat out a lot because who wants to be inside during good weather. My weakness is the Maui Wowie pizza from mellow mushroom which has jerk chicken, pesto, banana peppers and thick crust. I actually ate this pizza twice this week so pray for me y’all.

Drinking: Ice pops. Another summer weakness is flavored ice pops which I eat every day because they’re so good for calming down the body and brain (at least that’s how I justify my intake). Luckily the brand I like is only sold in the summer so this won’t be a yearlong thing.

Reading: I can’t make this up by Kevin Hart. I know he’s cheated both of his wives but my favorite non-fiction books to read are those written by comedians. After not being able to get Trevor Noah’s book at the library, I thought Kevin Hart’s book would suffice for now. So far it’s actually an interesting book.

Playing: lots of tennis. This week I played tennis three days for a total of 4 hours of play time. This week I discovered muscles I didn’t even know I had when I played an older lady (maybe 30-40 years older than me) and she whooped me which goes to show that tennis is a lifelong sport. However, the sunscreen I’ve been using is causing breakouts on my face so I am ditching it and trying Aveeno SPF 70. I hope this works.

Creating: memories with my family. My younger brother graduated in May and we’re happy that he’s now started his career. My little niece is getting smarter and bigger every day. We are all hoping that she’ll be left handed so she can be an undefeatable tennis play (and by we, I mean me haha).

Wishing: that everyone who is hurting in the world, may find peace within themselves and their greater purpose on this earth. There’s entirely too much loss and pain in this world.

Enjoying: discovering new music. I am a soundcloud type of girl and I credit most of my musical discoveries to the app. Yesterday, I discovered a new Indian artist known as Pav Dharia and I am so excited to listen to his full album.

Liking: positive energy. It’s always refreshing to meet people who have great vibes and resonate with your wavelength. I am happy to have found some of these people.

Wondering: what to wear today to a dinner my family has been invited to by a fellow Kenyan. I am thinking an African dress at the moment.

Loving: my current work life balance. I am blessed to have a job where I am not constantly stressed every day and to be able to have the time to enjoy life outside of work (i.e. tennis, vacation, and free weekends).

Hoping: my friends in Kenya are able to get me a book by a Kenyan author (namely Drunk by Jackson Biko).

Marveling: at how time is flying by. I can’t believe half the year is almost over. So much can happen in a day let alone 6 months. I am happy that so far, this year has been promising.

Wearing: my night gown because my official night clothes have either been bought for me by my mom are or “borrowed” from my mom.

Noticing: that romantic love does have seven stages: Stage 1: Appreciation. Stage 2: Infatuation.     Stage 3: Attraction. Stage 4: Impression. Stage 5: Conviction. Stage 6: Reaffirmation. Stage 7:         Commitment. I noticed this from watching an Indian movie, Dil Se, last night which draws from     the seven stages of love in its story.

Knowing: that life is full of ebb and flows (up and downs) which is what makes the experience so interesting. As Forrest Gump would say, “life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.”

Thinking: that music is the spice of life. It truly makes life more enjoyable, more bearable, more relatable.

Feeling: at peace. Namaste fellow readers. May peace be with you. 🙂 ❤

5 reasons why travel is so important

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Mom and Dad, 1987

I would like to preface this post by saying that if it wasn’t for travel, I wouldn’t exist. My parents are both from different parts of Kenya and if my dad never traveled for a work assignment to my mom’s area, then my father would not be Mr. Wangondu. On this glorious fathers’ day, I am grateful that Mr. Wangondu is my dad as I call him and I thank him 100x for making that first move to travel to Ukambani and that second move of choosing my mom as his wife. So without further ado, this back story leads me to my first point.

  1. Travel can be important, not only in finding love but also in assessing it. My father and mother as pictured in the photo above took a trip to visit a long lost uncle during their first year of dating. As my dad tells the story of this treacherous trip of not knowing exactly where they were going, he makes sure to emphasize that the trip established that my mother was the woman for him. The way someone handles being in a different place and a long journey can tell you a lot about them. As such, it is important to take trips with your potential mates.
  2. It gives you a wider view of nature. The world is an oyster as they say and so you have to travel in order to see the full picture of this oyster. There are so many wonders of the world, some famous and others non-discovered. For example, visiting a world wonder like the Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa was such an exhilarating experience as it made me realize that mother nature has so many curves and crevices. Like really mother nature’s body is like woah when you really think about it (Cue Maya’s- my love is like wo).
  3. It allows you to experience the diversity and similarity of humanity. If you travel throughout the world, there will be of course so many new faces and things to see. Through this diversity of others, you will probably also notice what makes us similar. For example, I brought samosas to work the other day and one of my co-workers mentioned that it’s so interesting that all cultures have some sort of meat filled pastries (i.e. burritos, wontons, pizza bites, samosas, etc). I had never thought about that but I definitely have to agree as when I was in South Africa, I noticed that they also eat corn meal dishes like Sima in East Africa and like Grits in the U.S.A.
  4. It inspires you with new ideas. If you think about all the historical travel figures such as Christopher Columbus, Marco Polo, and Mansa Musa, there was a trade of not just items but also of ideas between their countries and the lands they traveled to (not found since that would insinuate that they were lost). Similarly, when you travel you learn about different foods, fashions, and language while also sharing the same with the people who interact with you.
  5. This may vary but travel can also to lead to higher spirituality or appreciation of life. First of all, being able to travel is a physical and financial blessing as everyone is not able to do so. I am definitely a water sign because something about being closer to water really relaxes me. This might happen to everyone but I also sleep like a baby after spending the day swimming in the ocean. The best part of traveling is discovering what lights up your soul, for some it is nature while for others it may be tall buildings or even other humans. The only way to know is, yeah you guessed it, travel.

I wish you all the best in your current and future travels. As my brother likes to say, may the people say that you veni, vidi, vici (came, saw, and conquered- in a non Columbus type of way). 🙂 ❤

5 things the royal wedding (Harry + Meghan) taught me

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May 2018

I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t watch the full royal wedding ceremony mainly because I love my sleep. It was all over by the time I woke up yesterday but I definitely kept up with the course of events via instagram and twitter (twitter is my happy place by the way). I think the most interesting part about the royal wedding is not the ceremony but more so the love story between Meghan and Harry. Their love story has taught me a lot and I’ve decided to share the 5 main things that have stuck with me about this beautiful union of interracial, intercontinental, and intersectional love.

 

  1. Meghan is a divorcee and yet she still managed to find a man who loves her enough to break customary tradition. Imagine how she probably felt after the failure of her first marriage, just hoping that it wasn’t too late to find love again. Then not only does she find love but love with odds against her. Then despite these odds, Harry still chooses her. Ladies and gentleman, I am surprised a meteor hasn’t come crashing to earth yet because this story is so wild and beyond my imagination. The point from this is you should never allow someone to tell you that they can’t be with you because of their family or because of their title, career, etc. If someone wants you, they’ll move heaven and earth to be with you.
  2. You should never beat yourself up over a failed relationship, marriage, etc. I am sure walking away from her first marriage was not easy for Meghan. A lot of people are seeking inspiration from her relationship with Harry. However, there’s a deeper message from her first relationship. The message to me is that you should never settle for less than what you desire and what you deserve. Somewhere deep in Meghan’s heart, she knew that her first husband was not fulfilling her life in the way she wanted and instead of settling for complacency, she stepped out to look for something better. That hope is something we can all believe in (sorry for stealing your tag line, Obama). During most of my break-ups, it’s always because I realize that I don’t want to spend the rest of my life with said person. I am sure Meghan wishes she had realized that before marrying her first husband but it’s better late than never. So don’t settle for less. Look for the person who sets your heart on fire and makes you feel down right amazing.
  3. True love always comes on time. This is something my dad actually taught me. If you the love that has come to you is not fitting into your life and seems to have come at the wrong time, it’s not true love. True love comes when your heart and life is ready to experience it. If this fairy tale love had come earlier for Meghan (let’s say in her 20s), she probably would have never been fulfilled in her acting career because she would have been forced to give that up to be part of British royalty. So yes she’s 36 years old and this love is just on time. She’s not the only woman who was in her mid-thirties and unmarried. Best believe, she won’t be the last. So if some of us are destined for the same, don’t curse your life. Don’t hurry love, you never know what destiny has in store for you (hopefully a prince lol).
  4. Be true to yourself. Even if you are marrying a prince, your life is still yours. If you want to walk down the aisle in a simple wedding dress and bare minimum makeup, do you baby. While the world was watching and expected extravagance, Meghan chose to stick to her own personal style. That in itself was a pretty bold move despite the simplicity of her look. Also note, that Harry still looked at her like she was wearing a decadent Victoria secret fantasy lingerie set. I guess you can amp this up by wearing a potato sack to your wedding and seeing if your man looks at you the same (haha I am just joking). But anyway, moral of the story is be unapologetically you.
  5. Lastly, love knows no rules and no boundaries. There’s an African proverb that says “If you stay where you were born, you’ll end up marrying your cousin.” I paraphrased this quote but essentially it means, you should always look for new experiences, new places to see, and new people to meet. If you network very well, you have a higher probability of meeting possible suitors. As you all probably know, Meghan and Harry met through being set up on a blind date by a mutual friend (that friend is the real MVP by the way). Through new experiences, Meghan is now living across the pond with a prince as the Duchess of Sussex. Cue God’s plan for the millionth time.

And with that, I’ll leave you with a final quote shared during the wedding ceremony. 🙂 ❤

If humanity ever captures the energy of love, it will be the second time in history that we have discovered fire.”  – Bishop Michael Curry