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

AirBrush_20181118182217
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. 🙂 ❤

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 things I learned from Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

BP_Photography_091618 - 28

I want to start by saying that every autobiography of a successful person always emphasizes the value of hard work. I think it is somewhat implied in this summary especially in my first thing that I learned from Shonda Rhimes book, Year of Yes. So let’s dive right in.

  1. Check yourself. Recognize what is holding you back in life. Are you comfortable in your unhealthy lifestyle where you put work first and yourself last? Do you not spend enough time with your family? Are you in unhealthy relationships just because you are afraid of being alone? Shonda shares that she was pretty antisocial and was more comfortable working with her imaginary characters, with her favorite being Cristina Yang from Grey’s Anatomy. It wasn’t until her older sister told her that she is afraid to say yes to things that she decided to dedicate a whole year to saying Yes. Throughout that year, she grew as a mother, friend, work mate, and most importantly as an individual.
  2. Learn how to say NO. Essentially, say Yes to saying No. Before her Year of Yes, Shonda admits to finding it difficult to saying no to people. When people realize you don’t know how to say no, they start to take advantage of you. For example, think about the person that takes on extra work because everybody knows that he/she won’t say no. Don’t be that person. Learn how to set boundaries or you will find yourself drowning and the person responsible for the drowning will be you. I’ll end this with one of my favorite quotes: Don’t set yourself on fire trying to keep others warm- Penny Reid.
  3. Know yourself and never compromise who you are for anyone. I do not want to ruin the book for anyone but I think it is common language that Shonda has not birthed any children. However, she does have 3 children. Like Oprah, she doesn’t really believe in marriage. Despite societal norms, she has come to accept that she doesn’t need a man in the picture to have kids or even to raise them. I am personally very option to adoption of children so I was glad to read about a woman who shares similar unconventional values.
  4. Know what love means to you, including self-love. Yes, we should all love our bodies but what if we are in an unhealthy state? Should we not love our bodies enough to treat them as much care as we can. Shouldn’t we understand our unhealthy coping habits like eating lots of ice cream or drinking excessively, etc. Yes, I think a little bit of tough love can be self-love (like saying no to that extra piece of cake when our bodies are screaming yes). If somebody didn’t treat you right, you are quick to think they probably don’t love you. So when we are quick to trash our body, then we should recognize that we are not practicing self-love.
  5. Find your gladiators and love the hell out of them. Your gladiators are the people that fight for you, root for you, and also put you in check when needed. They want nothing but the best for you. They do not limit you to who you are now. They see the best possible version of yourself and push you to strive for that. They know your weaknesses and strengths yet they want you to face your fears. And if you are their gladiator, then you do the same. Be their Olivia Pope, without the being mistress to the president part.

Thank you for reading. May you say yes to the things that scare you. May the year of yes transform into a lifestyle as it did for Shonda Rhimes, the queen of Thursday night television with Grey’s Anatomy, How to Get Away with Murder, and Scandal under her belt. 🙂 ❤

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 🙂 ❤

5 benefits of being close to your siblings

 

1. No one can call you out like a person that shared the same womb you came from. Your siblings have seen you at your worst and best while growing up so they usually know you a lot better than most people. When you think you’re untouchable, nobody brings you back down to earth better than a sibling calling you by a silly nickname that you had back in the day.
2. On the same note, your siblings usually know your true potential and can push you when you are second guessing yourself. My brothers and I gas each other up with compliments as quick as we are to make fun of each other. For example, we all know my younger brother has the best legs in the family, somehow I have the best brains, and my older brother just eludes a cool self-confidence that can only be countered by Idris Elba himself (I sometimes think they kind of look alike too but that’s just me).
3. They can be key players in choosing the person you spend the rest of your life with. Studies show that we usually model our desires in a partner based on our experiences with our family. So having to spend most of our lives with a sibling that sometimes gets on our nerves is actually good practice for the partner you’ll be spending the rest of your life with.
4. Entertainment! My younger brother is truly an entertainer and growing up with him definitely led to a lot of laughs from his pretty on-point impersonations and “inside jokes” type humor. For example, when we at the Essence Festival last weekend he saw a guy trying to hit on a girl and my brother immediately whispered “le soif” which is French for “the thirst”. This was an inside joke from way back when there was a thirsty guy at this Kenyan party we were at and we had to speak French so no one could understand us.
5. Lifelong side-kicks! No matter how deep I am in some mess, I always know that my brothers have my back and similarly I have theirs. I honestly couldn’t imagine life without my brothers and I pray that we may grow old together!

As a last thought, I have never known how it would be to have a sister as I am an only girl. But I am really not good at sharing so I am kind of glad it worked out that way. My mom looks young enough to be my sister and now I have a sister in love (not law, as we say in my household to describe marital family). I also have a little niece and based on my baby face I could probably pass as her sister too so I guess God knew what he was doing by only giving me brothers! 🙂 ❤

5 reasons why travel is so important

mom and dad
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). 🙂 ❤

The duality of human existence: more than just black and white

 

Screen Shot 2018-05-27 at 1.18.45 PM
May 2018

In the event of Kanye West saying “slavery was a choice” and people we looked up to such as Morgan Freeman being accused of sexual harassment, we have to acknowledge the duality of human existence. A person can be a great musician, actor, co-worker etc but still be a less than perfect human. When we revere people to the extent of unrealistic adoration, we are bound to be disappointed because no one can ever live up to such expectations.

In the words of Tupac, “ a role is something people play and a model is something people make. Both of those things are fake.” I think it’s okay to have a role model for a specific facet of their life but not for their entire being. For example, we can admire Michael Jackson for his work ethic but not for his other life choices. We can admire Kevin Hart for his humor but not for his infidelity. When we realize that people are more complex than what we see with our eyes, we allow them to make their choices and have their peace.

I was watching an interview of Keke Palmer on the Breakfast Club radio show. Let me just say Keke is able to dissect being human so well for a person who is just 24 years old. In the interview, she discusses going through depression and growing up in the limelight. Her most interesting discussion for me is when she recalls the first time that her parents fell short of her expectations. She wasn’t trying to throw her parents under the bus. She was simply making the point that everyone is bound to disappoint us at one point or another. However, the greatest disappointment is when our parents first let us down. It’s not until that we are adults that we are realize that our parents are just human and were trying to do their best when raising us.

So to drive the point home, It’s important to recognize the complexity of human nature. It’s important not to harbor hate or judgment towards someone because of his or her life decisions. Everyone is going through life without a road map just like you. Nobody is perfect, including you, so don’t expect perfection (even from yourself). This post feels like a TED talk or therapy session, I’ve been avoiding writing this one for a while but I am glad that it finally came together in my head.

As always, thanks for reading. 🙂  ❤