Well. As always, so much has occurred in my life since my last post.
Yesterday made it officially 6 months that I have been living in The Gambia. Time has its way of moving so slowly here that you just forget about it. You look up and its December, but believe me when I say it still very much feels like July. I have gotten discouraged and regrouped and gotten discouraged and regrouped again. Such is life in The Gambia. I’ve kind of gotten the hang of cooking on a single gas burner in my thatched roof hut. Still, just a few days ago, in an attempt at make some French fries, I nearly started a grease fire and burned down the entire village. Balance. Kanye West is in the hospital. Finally. Something bit me last week that left my ankle with a burning itch for days. This is Africa. Apparently, I have asthma and allergies now. I pop the off-brand Claritin but thankfully, I haven’t needed the inhaler. I’ve dropped nearly 50lbs on the its-hot-as-hell-I-walk-everywhere-and-eat-rice-once-a-day-diet. Oh and did I mention that I'm seeing someone seriously for the first time in 4 years? No? Well I am and…let’s just say strangers have been telling me I’m glowing. He’s amazing. It’s taken some time, but I’m surely attracting my tribe. Loud, vivacious people with big hearts: girls that love to laugh and eat and guys that bark louder than they bite. Then, my uncle transitioned shortly after Thanksgiving Day. I can hear his voice and see his face in clear memory. It continues to be a surreal feeling. I spent last Thanksgiving with him and my aunt. I wanted to see them and one of my sisters before I moved abroad. So, I booked a flight to Chicago and made it happen. Educated white women and black pastors voted for Donald Duck to be their president and in the most epic political move in decades, seven parties merged to support a single candidate, Adama Barrow, to successfully seized the presidency of the Gambia after 22 years of dictatorship.
And here we are.
Y’all know I love writing out my goals. I have a pretty extensive list for 2017 broken down into categories! Awful I know. But seriously. All I want, is to be successful. I don’t leave it up to chance even though I do look at like gambling. I’m putting in the work and I know I’m gonna hit big soon.
More importantly, I am happy. So so happy! It is a feeling I have earned. Self-care is a full-time job. I worked hard to get to the place of acknowledging and properly managing my emotions, honoring my spirit, and making decisions based solely on what I want and need. I am a woman growing in wisdom and Spirit. It feels good and I’m so thankful for those of you who continue to shower me with love and support.
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My niece once confessed that she thought me to be somewhat impulsive. She thought I just decided I wanted to go somewhere so I packed up my stuff and left. Knowing the truth, I thought that to be hilarious! I'm a very spiritual person. Most of my major moves involve intense prayer and meditation. I've learned over the years that most people talk about this process but don't truly engage in it. It sounds good, in theory, to tell someone that you meditated about something but meditation is a work of diligence. Before I moved to Virginia, I prayed and meditated about that move for the entire 2 years I was in graduate school. I actually had two locations in mind. By the close of my final semester I was pretty clear. When I got to Virginia, I began another cycle of prayer. I knew the type of work I wanted to do and the conditions that I wanted to do it. And since 2011, that has always been my process.
Dream. Pray. Prepare. Move.
In ten days, the last two years of my life will rise to an amazing climax. Imagine having your dreams unfold before your eyes. Imagine truly living out your destiny. It's a surreal feeling! I've read numerous blogs. I've talked to people that have done it and those that are doing it and I've concluded that nothing can truly prepare you to travel from Mississippi to The Gambia. As happy as I am, things are not exactly ideal. I have family members that are ill and friends that are enduring painful life changes. How does one find balance? I'm relying heavily on the tools I gained in therapy to maintain my well being. I now know that my journey to better self care was divinely destined. Without therapy, I imagine that I would be completely overwhelmed with the desire to take care of everyone else while trying to prepare for my biggest move yet. Instead, I've completely let go of the need to fix anyone or anything but the few things within my control.
My plan moving forward, is to be mindful and present and to use my creative gifts to positively impact the lives of others. In living out my dreams, I hope to inspire others to make sacrifices, to take risks, to pray, to meditate, and to lend themselves over to God's divine design for their life. To anyone reading, may you be fulfilled by this process of self-love and may you experience a true sense of peace, happiness, and freedom.
I'll be maintaining my site as best I can while abroad.
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I recently set a goal for myself to complete 21 days of wellness focusing on physical exercise and diet. Today I completed my 5th consecutive day of being active. This morning for my "rest" day, I decided to visit PIES Yoga and drop into their Vinyasa Flow class. Unbeknownst to me, this would be a love-themed class to commemorate the essence of Valentine's day. Our instructor, Angela, began with emphasis on self-love, gratitude, and forgiveness. She guided us through a series of poses to open the heart, and ground and center our spirits. I did not realize how tight my chest was until I gave my best attempt to will my body into Camel Pose.
Being a beginner, each "flow" presented my body with a new challenge. For a moment I felt regret about never fulfilling my goal of being consistent with yoga. I refused to allow those thoughts to take over my practice so I countered them with, "I am here now. I have met my goal for today and this feels good. I am accomplished." Along my journey to better self-care I have learned that it is not enough to simply push aside negative thoughts. They will still remain lingering waiting for a perfect opportunity to come to the forefront. Instead, these thoughts must be called out and countered with more positive and healing thoughts.
To cool down and end our class, Angela guided us through meditation by asking us to visualize someone we were grateful for. To my delight, a vision of my grandmother, smiling and happy came to light. I love it when she comes into my sacred space. My grandmother made her transition when I was three years old. I still have very vivid memories of her. Throughout the years, I have grown to call and evoke her healing and nurturing gifts often. Her fortitude, dedication, and sacrifices act as guiding examples of love for me. This is why I dedicated my most recent creative work, a digital album of my poetry, to her.
I can honestly say, I haven't "celebrated" Valentine's Day in years. Today is different. Though my celebration does not involve a romantic partner, chocolate, and roses, it does involve a delicious glass of wine, a heart full of gratitude, and a spirit overflowing with love.
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Be more compassionate with myself.
NO is a complete sentence.
I am gifted, amazing, and multi-talented and it's nothing to be ashamed about.
Enforce your boundaries. Always.
Say something when others make you feel uncomfortable.
Trust your intuition.
Healing takes time.
What lessons have you all learned this year? Comment and share. oh and don't forget to stay true. Subscribe!
I have been working hard the past few months. My aim is to increase the amount of time and energy I put into my health, my spirituality, and my business. This journey is not a paved road. Losing weight is a challenge. Getting in 3-4 workouts a week is my goal. So far I've been successful. I'm trying to end my relationship with the scale but I can't bring myself to do it. I know that the number it displays is not an accurate depiction of my health or the hard work I'm putting in but something about it motivates me. So yeh, me and Tyrone (my scale) are going to keep trying to make it work.
Spirit told me a while ago that I was not disciplined enough. After some reflection on this message I think this applies to several areas of my life. One of the downsides to having the amount of creative energy that I do, is that it's sometimes hard to focus on one thing until completion. Discipline. I need to be more disciplined. So the month of October is dedicated to actually completing projects. I'm debuting a new online course this month so I really need to focus so I can just get it out. I've done most of the work but there's a lot still to be done! I try to aim for balance but something always gets neglected. In a perfect world I'd have a housekeeper and a personal assistant to handle the logistics of organizing my life. It could happen.
I showed my "therapist" ( she's really a clinical social worker) my overwhelming To-Do list and she helped me narrow it down to the three things I mentioned above so that I can have some peace. Being able to have someone understand how my mind works and assist me in moving at a normal pace is invaluable. Y'all just don't understand. Sometimes I feel like I'm going at light speed. My brain is like the night sky on the Fourth of July. Synapses firing on overload with creative ideas, tasks, and a never-ending diatribe of what I need to be doing at any given moment. So, although I sought out professional services for other reasons, I've extremely benefited from help in this area of my life.
My aim is for 2015 to be the most productive year of my life to date. I released my first book on my birthday. My online course came shortly after. Then I buckled down after a heart-to-heart with my mentor Romal and designed my new and improved website. I've traveled to Africa twice, speaking to students and teachers. I'm releasing another online course this month and I've decided to close out the year with my spoken word/poetry album. Plan is to release that on Christmas day. This is nothing compared to what some people are able to produce in a year but it's everything to me.
To all my fellow creatives out there, how do you manage your creativity? Any strategies for working on your ideas through completion? Let me know!
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Today was a great day. I woke up saying to myself, "Enough is enough. Today is the day." I was referring to my never ending pile of clutter and my 1/4 completed DIY projects. So today, I finally organized the top shelf of my closet, did my laundry, hung my curtains, and put my Kevin O'Keith print on the wall. Both are hanging on faith and a prayer so please keep them in your high thoughts! :-) At the days end, I am feeling accomplished.
I forget how important it is to maintain a sacred living space with scents, sights, and sounds that I find pleasing. I grew up in a cluttered home and it takes extreme effort for me to not accumulate more of it. I now know that clutter is usually an outward expression of inward distress. When I'm emotionally upset or spiritually restless, I'm less likely to put things away. Like I mentioned in my last blog, I still have issues, I just cope better these days. So this morning, I put on energizing music, lit an orange vanilla scented candle, opened the window, and got to work.
Now, as I look around my space and sip on a glass of Malbec from Argentina I feel sensual and complete. See, I'm 30 years young. Now mind you, I am not one of those women that lament growing. In fact, I was quite excited. My 20s were crazy. So I look to my 30s and beyond to finally find some peace. Half way through the first year of my 30s I feel myself growing in wisdom. It is an amazing feeling to connect with Spirit and gain understanding. I heard from the Divine today as I went about my housework. Spirit gave me the answer to a question I've been stumped on for over a year now. The grown woman in me receives and plans to act accordingly on this new found knowledge. See, evolving is what makes me feel most alive. Thinking differently. Moving differently. Remembering that knowledge is not power.
The proper application of knowledge is what separates the girls from the Queens.
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I have a closed group on facebook of beautiful Black women that I love and admire. My goal when creating it was simply to give us a space to be us, and love us, and support us. Yesterday one of my friends called and thanked me for creating the group. She said she had used it to help her remember her goals and as a source of encouragement to make it through times where she felt depressed. This amazed me and I am so humbled that my small group is able to impact her life in this way.
She also asked me if I had ever struggled with depression. My answer was yes, I have. The worst episode being two and a half years ago, during my second year of graduate school. I had a horrendous schedule and very little money. I was averaging about 12 hours of sleep for the week and practically lived in my car and the library. There were several nights where I literally sat in the middle of my living room floor and cried for hours. On the weekends I did not leave my home. If I did not have to work I would be at home for days at a time. I talked to few people. Typically I only ate once a day. Really, food was the only thing I ventured outside for. I had a very unhealthy relationship with Domino's Pizza.
No one really knew what was going on with me. I was lonely. I was hurting. I was struggling in so many ways. When I think back on it, I know that I was just trying to survive. I knew that school was temporary but it seemed that my professors were doing all they could to hold me back. I literally fought my way to graduation knocking down one obstacle after another. I did things in that program that no student had ever done. I received no recognition for those things. It hurt. I cried a lot. No one cared. To make matters worse, this was at a so-called Christian college. The lack of compassion I endured was a disgrace to Jesus Christ. My degree program was 31 graduate hours. I completed an additional endorsement of 21 hours outside of my degree. This means I completed 52 graduate hours in 2 years! I took a full load of courses every semester including the summer. I was not always perfect and I did fail one class but damn it I gave it all I had!
By the time of my emancipation from that college, I was convinced that it was time for me to move on. New city. New home. Two days after my graduation I boarded a plane to Texas to interview for an international teaching job. I didn't get the job and quickly moved to plan B, relocate to Virginia and live with a friend until I got on my feet. Plan B has proved itself to be the right and best choice I could've made. Graduating and relocating brought me out of that depression. There would still be other episodes though not as bad. When my cousin Mike transitioned in found myself in various stages of depression. This time it was manifesting in my sleep patterns. I went from sleeping very little to sleeping all the time. I just wanted the days to pass quickly. I didn't want to think.
My episodes of loneliness are deeply rooted and started when I was a child. As a 30 year old woman the only thing that has changed is that I've learned how to cope and manage better. I still get sad. I still feel lonely at times. I still feel misunderstood and painfully awkward more than most people will believe.
I can honestly say therapy has helped me tremendously. If you can afford it, go. If you can't afford it, seek out free group sessions in your area. Go to the library. Do a Google search. Do whatever you can to take care of yourself!
I'll be writing more about my journey with therapy and depression in hopes that it could help someone. Feel free to comment and share about ways that you manage day to day. Also look to the right and subscribe. I'd love to hear from you!
Kanika: Poet. Lover of Words. One who tells the stories of the mundane and inanimate. Bearer of Light, Water, and Sky.