(trigger warning: this post discusses loss and grief)
Last year, a great family friend of ours passed away. I think that was the first time that death has hit me hard in my life. Our friend was only in his early 30s and he was the last person we thought we would lose. Before that, I had only seen how death affects people; people like my mother, father, and people that I have dated. The main thing that I noticed about how death affects us is our memories. We usually just remember the good times and the good things about the person until we forget that these people were also human. It takes a while to realize that these people that we loved and lost were not perfect. Sometimes, we even idolize them and try to live our lives for them. I am not saying whether that’s good or bad. Keeping one’s legacy is a great thing to do but I think we should never try to measure ourselves in their eyes. We all want to make our family and friends proud whether living or not. However, we should not pressure ourselves to meet a level of perfection that even those who have passed could not meet. I’ve been watching the Kanye West documentary and one of the quotes I remember him saying is “the only thing that is guaranteed in one’s life is death”. We are all going to die one day so make sure you are living your life in a way that makes you happy. Because truth be told, you are the most important person in your life. Even if you have kids, you can’t pour from an empty cup.
So how did death affect me? I fell into the same pattern that I noticed from others who have encountered loss. I thought about the things I could have done differently. I also started to perceive the deceased friend as perfect. Later I realized that even if the dead become angels in their transition from life to death, they were imperfect humans while they were living. This means they made mistakes just like us and trying to live perfectly for them is impossible because we are just human beings. Bringing this back to the Kanye West “Jeen-Yus” documentary, I think it is good for us to acknowledge that death is inevitable and appreciate the great things that people have done. However, let us not idolize anyone. The people who passed away lived their life the way that they saw fit and so should you. Appreciate them for living their best life by living your best life. Make mistakes just as they did and don’t obsess over them. Do the best you can for yourself. Make yourself proud! Because in your last moments on this earth, you’ll be looking at your life through your eyes; walking through the tunnels of your memories, and trying to find the inevitable light.
To end this on a lighter note, life is a gift. One that we have to cherish, treasure, and be grateful for because it is not guaranteed. Let us all take moments to celebrate our lives just as much as we try to celebrate the lives of those we have lost. Cheers to more life, more love, more peace, and more happiness in the world! ❤
As the wise Bob Marley once said — ‘The biggest coward of a man is to awaken the love of a woman without the intention of loving her.” Bob Marley has numerous great quotes from his interviews and even more from his music. This one is somewhat of a paradox though especially considering that he had 9 children from 7 different women. So if Bob really believed and lived by his quote, that would mean he actually loved all those seven women. And maybe, it is possible that some people are able to love more than one woman equally. However, it seems that his wife Rita Marley also had a child from another man during an affair. So from my basic analytic skills, either Bob and Rita were hippies who freed each other of possession by loving others or they just had the same marital problems that most people have. Either way, I am sure they had love for one another. And Bob Marley will never be seen as a coward because he took care of all his children. He clearly set a good example for them as they all followed his footsteps in music. Also, quite a number of his children are happily married with children so the value of family was not lost on them.
But besides Bob Marley, let us dig into that quote a bit further. There are some men out there who get satisfaction from getting a woman’s number and keeping her wanting him for the sole purpose of an ego trip. Some men just want to be wanted. And once they feel wanted, they leave because the woman has been “conquered”. I have been fortunate enough not to deal with too many of these types but recently, it clicked in my head that one of the guys I’ve dated in the past might have this problem. And just for disclaimer purposes, people are complicated. Sometimes, someone is acting elusive after you gain interest in them because they are afraid of deep connection. You never know what that person has been through. But I will say this, please search within yourself if this behavior describes so that you can figure out why you do this. If you frequently end up on the short end of the stick with someone dropping you as soon as you gain interest, then learn to identify the signs of these emotionally unavailable people.
I will admit that I have been emotionally unavailable before and still ventured out in the dating world. However, I would disclose my emotional state to the other person if somebody gained interest in me. So, I think love is really about honesty and trying to do right by someone. Remember, actions speak louder than words. Be true to yourself and the other person. If your emotional states don’t mesh well, then move on. If Bob Marley was able to find 7 different women to have kids with, I am sure that there is somebody out there for you (if not multiple people, haha). 🙂 ❤
From the moment you become responsible for your life choices (let’s say adulthood), you become married despite your relationship status. Why? Because self-love is marriage. Self-love is a life-long commitment to one-self to make decisions that serve to protect and flourish oneself. Therefore, I believe that we enter a polygamous relationship when we get married to another person. How? Because your love for one-self should not dissolve once you say “I do” to another person. Love has to be divided between love for yourself and for the other person. Or if you and your partner are truly in sync, then theoretically loving the other person is like loving yourself. Either way, self-love should not be compromised in order to love another person: that would be the definition of a toxic relationship.
I am not a married person myself so my perspective may be a bit extreme but from what I have heard from people like Will and Jada Smith is that a relationship cannot complete you. You complete yourself through self-love. This is why understanding yourself and dating yourself first, before and during marriage is so important. Another person can only complement who you are. So I guess the “he/she is my other half” statement is a bit misleading. We are all our own people. A better statement that is now becoming popular is “I choose to love my husband/wife each and every day.” I agree with this statement more as it highlights that love is a choice. It’s not a feeling; lust is a feeling. Love is a choice and you have to mentally decide to love your partner through sickness and in health till do death you part.
Some people wonder about unconditional love. However, I think it is rare to find unconditional love between romantic love. I think unconditional love is usually for parents and children. Most people have a mental list of actions that would make them walk away from their partner: infidelity, dishonesty, addiction, and the list goes on. But I do recognize that most people continue to love the people who they walked away from or who walked away from them. However, that love decreases in intensity and is not as compelling for them to want to be with that other person. Therefore, I am of the theory that love does have conditions.
To tie the concept of unconditional love and self-love, I believe that we learn our requirements or conditions of love by loving ourselves. When you don’t tolerate negative self-talk, you will not accept someone talking to you in any kind of way. When you follow through on your goals and commitments to yourself, you won’t allow someone to tell you that you are too high maintenance or that your conditions are unreasonable. Therefore, how you love yourself provides the blueprint of how someone else is to love you. I wish you all success in love to yourself and to or from others. 🙂 ❤
The picture to the left was taken at my best friend’s Vietnamese wedding/tea ceremony. It was a beautiful display of love and tradition. It was an honor being there for her big day. According to my dad, love is taking care. As her maid of honor, I have observed how both she and her now-husband care for each other ❤
Flowers were a major theme of both her Vietnamese and American weddings. Today, I found this poem I had started writing a while back and it reminded me of how understanding how to love a person can be as difficult as learning how to keep a flower or any plant alive. The poem is kind of somber but I hope you enjoy it ❤
You want to possess me
but you don’t nourish me.
You forget that even a rose withers
when it’s not watered.
You tend to my petals
but you forget my thorns.
You seek to explore my beauty
but don't seek to understand my flaws.
You look at me with lust in your eyes
yet you do not see me.
You touch my skin
but you don’t feel what’s inside.
I am more than this shell.
I am more than how my name is spelled.
I am more than the cards life has dealt.
I am more complex than the ocean’s depth.
I would like to start by saying thank you to my best friend for doing the most in planning her bachelorette week celebration in Orlando, Florida. My family and I went to Universal Studios and Sea World when I was a kid so I was mostly excited about Disney World. As the blog title suggests, Disney World is known as “the happiest place on earth”. It should also be known as one of the most expensive places on earth as a bottle of water is like $5 U.S. dollars but anyway it was worth it. The place is truly and utterly beautiful, especially the magic kingdom where the picture to the left is taken. On the first day, I dressed up in “Princess Jasmine” inspired attired with a matching crop top and pant set from Fashion Nova (I bought this last year so it may no longer be on their website). My second favorite place was Epcot which features several recreations of different cities around the world and world cuisine including Tusker from Kenya. Disclaimer: Epcot food can never live up to the original world cuisine but most of the curated items are tasty (see pic below).
The Magic Kingdom: A major part of what makes the magic kingdom so magical is the cinderella castle which is so captivating and which lights up at night. In addition, there is a fireworks show surrounding the castle at 9pm every night. And this is a fireworks show that you can actually write home about (case in point, this blog). I also loved pretending that I was Princess Jasmine when we found a bazaar that resembled those in the movie. (See pics below).
Finally, let’s not forget the main event which was my best friend’s bachelorette celebration. I had a really fun time being around her and the other bridesmaids. Disney has a lot to offer although their rides are not really scary. I can’t wait to continue the celebration at the wedding in less than 30 days. Woohoo! Cheers to the soon to be newlyweds! 🙂 ❤
I would like to start this blog post by giving a shout out to my friend Ola who wrote this beautiful poem for a beautiful woman.
To be honest, I was shocked by his talent and I think he needs to perform this poetry live because it has great flow.
To answer your questions, Ola is like a little brother to me so I try to be his wing woman. Any ladies out there who want to be the beautiful woman by his side, come talk to me. ❤️🙏🏾
This question I ask
to catch the attention of this angel
on my mind all day
Curiously, I say
How was your day?
This question I hope
the birds, wild and fishes
in the mountains, forest, and seas
will scream with me
How was your day?
This question I know
Presidents, Kings, Queens, and everyone
upon seeing this angel named Renee,
will chant with me
How was your day?
This question I pray
The Cherubims, Seraphims
and all the heavenly host
will chorus with me
How was your day?
More poetry and blog posts to come. I am sorry for my brief break from posting as my life went from 0 to 100 real quick with work, tennis, family, etc. I hope you are all excited for the holiday season. ❤️
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 🙂 ❤
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
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’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.
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