Friday, December 16, 2016

This is 30

"Travel is truly the only thing you can buy that makes you richer."-Diane Von Furstenberg

Turning 30 was and is still, something I am processing. With it's many positives, come several lows that threatened to break my spirit. And then, with the craziest, most unpredictable year of my life, I went to Africa to open this new chapter. My dear friend Efrem and I were even remotely prepared for what was in store. The continent was, in a word, incredible.

I was not at all, prepared for the wonderment that awaited me. I had an absolute BLAST! Every single moment of the trip was amazing even the stressful. From the wild animals that frolicked around the land, the exotic foods we enjoyed, our first mini safari, and even more, our first realization of true prejudice. Africa, South Africa, was a world all its own and I wanted in.

Pretoria and Johannesburg was like any major city. Cars whipping by every single second, traffic galore, crowds of people waiting for buses. Pretoria had another layer to it. It is the hub of all central intelligence complete with government officials. The malls are being renovated, the business is overflowing, and the atmosphere is rambunctious. It reminded me of so many major cities I have been to, except, this one was complete with its own nearby, ocean breeze and palm trees.

After several days of "discovering Joburg," we headed down to CapeTown. It was there, that we discovered and embraced the true beauty of Africa in its natural and raw form. Everywhere we looked, nothing but Shea butter smooth, bronze toned sk
in fluttering all around. It was a sight to see. Along with all the melanin comas, we witnessed various other shades including; vanilla, golden yellow, and the indigo blue of the Indian Ocean. CapeTown captured our hearts.

We were constantly mesmerized by the beauty of Table Mountain. Neither one of us ever witnessed clouds peacefully floating over mountain tops so effortlessly. It was a shock and an amazement we are still scrabbling to describe. For 1 and a half weeks, we forged friendships with people from all over the world. Some local, some foreign, most very friendly. If was not the lovely staff at The Hamilton in CapeTown, it was the beautiful server at our hotel in Johannesburg. Every person, more personable than the last. Every experience even more exuberant than before.

Despite my despair of turning 30 in such a way, I was especially grateful and pleased with my birthday trip. I finally got a chance to lay eyes on "The Motherland" and learn about a new layer of myself. A layer I never even knew
existed. I was never more enthusiastic about growing and developing as I am now. I am developing, I am in development, and much like Africa, I am evolving in the direction I am meant to go. As if I could love my melanin any more....

Friday, November 11, 2016

30 for 30

I guess 2016 was the sequel to 2015 because it has been quite the valley. Steeped in despair, frustration, growing pains, and serious mental anguish, I have survived so far. As I sit here, preparing to leave this crazy country for one that feels like a strange homecoming, I am reminded of 30 things that made me cringe, cry, create, and congratulate myself this year. I have affirmed from these moments that....
  1. I do not have an autoimmune disease when I was almost diagnosed with Lupus (thank God!)
  2. I do not have diabetes, but I am still not out of the woods.
  3. I no longer languish the lost love of my ex. I believe I officially left him mentally in 2014. 
  4. I no longer work in "corporate" America and I am not sad about it at all. It was trying to kill me. I fired my job and decided to take a leap of faith. Just know this, I will be traveling much more in 2017.
  5. I am no longer moving to Washington D.C. in spring. I am going to take my time and develop myself into the woman I wish to be in order to truly prosper there.
  6. I am done with shifty and so called "friends." I deserve real, meaningful bonds.
  7. I have taken up the art of organization. This will be my next business.
  8. I will pursue my masters before it drives me nuts entirely!
  9. I have grown weary of old habits. I am moving on from those. 
  10. I have not found love. I am praying about that so it finally finds me.
  11. I voted for the first time in 2008, I am so thankful it was for my only president, Barack Obama. It is a shining moment for my 30 years. 
  12. I will no longer cry over spilled milk. I will try and be careful not to spill more.
  13. I have mastered the art of "everything happens for a reason" because it truly does. 
  14. I will walk and trust God. So far, I am failing at that. 
  15. I struggled with self love. I will do better from 30 on. 
  16. Carmen is going to be paid off and then it is time for a business of my own. 
  17. I will never feel destitute again. I have so much and I am blessed. 
  18. I will count every single blessing and failure as a wonderful learning experience. 
  19. I will make time to love others and myself appropriately. 
  20. I will stop looking backwards (I no longer live there). 
  21. I will be unapologetic and share everything that I feel. 
  22. I do not have everything I want, but I will pray until I am closer to my final destination.
  23. I am going to travel and see every inch of the world; it will only make me stronger. 
  24. Someone told me I am ungrateful; I needed that. I will work on this immediately. 
  25. I have health concerns that are growing. I have to treat my life as it I only get one (clearly, I think I am a cat) 
  26. I will seek joy, not happiness because joy is everlasting. 
  27. I will buy the things I want; I have regretted too much even the little things.
  28. I am putting my creative juices together and working on a master plan. No more desperate behavior. 
  29. I will own all mistakes and create an action plan to do better. 
  30. I will love myself, not like. 
These last two years have been more than trying. It was like an instant replay of 2008 and 2009. Or worse, 1997 and 1998. I have been reminded many times on my descent to 30, that it is truly a roller coaster. As I take this pilgrimage to Africa, I bring with me my mistakes, disappointments, sorrow, disgust, love, anguish, pleasure, success, failure, and an open heart.

I believe this election was the last straw to make me see more than ever that now is the time to attack my goals. The premise of being unqualified will no longer hold me back. I will either learn the necessary tools or "fake it til I make it," but one thing is certain; I will get exactly where I want to be because now more than ever, I need it. Here's to 30, 2017, and a fresh start (despite being Trumped), I am forging ahead. Goodbye 29!

Monday, February 29, 2016

9 Reasons I Love Leap Years

  1. The mystery and intensity of a day that only comes once every 4 years
  2. Celebrating your friends whose birthdays are today 
  3. We get an extra day to enjoy Black History Month 
  4. Listening to the stories and things people partook in on Leap Day 
  5. Learning the history and origins of Leap Year 
  6. Seeing all the new babies born on Leap Day 
  7. Being 29 the year that February has 29 days 
  8. Watching the movie Leap Year and laughing hysterically 
  9. Turning 30 the year of a Leap Year which hopefully means good fortune....

Sunday, January 31, 2016

We Need a Dialogue....and a Resolution

Over the past few months, The United States of America has been in a constant state of regression. Everything from the national joke and spectacle that is "Donald Trump" running for president to the disgusting race and culture related issues that seem to be growing in popularity each day is helping propel the regression. It never truly dawned on me how bad things were until things
became personal and hit close to home.

On January 25th, a group of Caucasian seniors from my high school alma mater, Desert Vista, decided it would be a good idea to veer off from the annual, "Senior Photo Day" and compose their lettered shirts to resemble the word "Nigger" with two ** replacing the G's. I have never been more appalled and embarr
assed for my school. The things I have seen from the youth of today makes me worry. They are so incredibly desensitized by words, race, religion, and politics that it allows them to present themselves in the most damaging light.

These "girls" who are actually all 18, not only decided to compose this absolutely wrenched and horrible word, additionally, they decided to post the picture on SnapChat to commemorate the experience. Ever since this photo surfaced, there has been national outrage and most of it came from the community in Ahwatukee or as many would say "All White Tukee."

Many have voiced their opinions on social media and if words were daggers, many people would be dead. Sadly, several parents and commenters on Facebook voiced an overwhelming and highly "entitled" opinion regarding the situation. I heard comments like "Well, the black kids say it too, so they should get suspended" and "They are kids, what do they know. They made a stupid choice. Time to move." As I read most of the shockingly raw, commentary of relative strangers, I couldn't help but wonder of a group of black or hispanic youth had posted a picture with a racial slur on their shirts, would they be granted the same compassion and understanding for their ignorance and youth?

If history has shown me anything, "those" kids would not be granted the same freedom, respect, and allowance to start over. They would be marked with a scarlet letter of shame which would haunt them wherever they go systematically deeming them unworthy of a second chance at life. I think wh
at bothers me the most about what these ignorant little girls did is that there is no apparent or genuine reason as to why they decided to do this at all. It seemed like it was just some light hearted, humorous thing they did for social media likes. The fact they never they shuddered to think about how much this word could hurt others is what troubles me most.

Historically, the word nigger has been associated specifically with black people deeming us everything from lazy, to thieves or worse. It is a word that immediately strikes a chord with anyone who has a conscience. It is also a reactionary word that caused various thousands of African Americans to come together and rally for these "girls" to be expelled from high school their senior year. The school district, shockingly, only gave the girls a 5 day suspension.

This is a particularly light punishment in my eyes because I have seen kids get into brawls and get 10 day suspensions or worse. I guess they felt that since a word which drudges up every piece of racial degradation felt by any black person in the history of mankind was not deemed serious enough for extreme consequences. Let this be a serious lesson to the youth of America. Sometimes, you have to pay the price for what you do as a young person. And while I have some 10% compassion for these ignorant girls, I ultimately feel sorry for them because the only thing they will likely take from this situation is to keep their racial ignorant and prejudice private next time.

Hollywood is nearly as overt and blatant with their racial prejudice as the "Desert Vista 6" by deciding to, once again, nominate all white performers for the top honors for the upcoming Oscars. Am I surprised? Absolutely not. This is the kind of thing I actually expect them to do because the Academy is still filled with a majority, white male membership and as my grandmother once told me, "Things in this country will not improve until the "Baby Boomers" and beyond die out. The youth of America has got to be much better." Never have I known how right she was until now.

With Jada Pinkett-Smith rallying for change in the Academy's typical behavior towards performers of color, Janet Hubbert in opposition of the Smiths message, ignorant suburban youth displaying their vitriol entitlement, Donald Trump continuing to pump his own special blend of hate and separation throughout the world, and keep my feeling bottled up, I am about to explode. Let me be the first person to genuinely say, I am far from racist or prejudice, but I am also not dumb. I know how I may be viewed by some and instead of rolling in and slinging mud, I have decided to take the high road in most situations, but I want to present a theory, of having an open, honest, and raw conversation about race.

I feel the dialogue is needed now more than ever. There is no way we are going to be able to continue in this country ignoring the racial and cultural injustices faced mostly by minorities nor can we afford to have more "incidents" where the youth of America "play dumb" while offending. Enough is enough. There are simply too many statistics that show race plays a dominate factor in many of the things that affect us as adults (mortgage rates, loans, job offers) and it is time to level the playing field. A Z-list, Republican puppet, who is of very little importance, once said "Blacks need inclusion. We need to stop excluding ourselves if we want others to treat us the same. We need to do away with BET and Black History month and assimilate."

While her face now repulses me, I believe she is right in one way and one way only, we do need to blend meaning, Hollywood needs more African-American, Native American, East Indian, Persian, Latino, and culturally diversity in their productions and programs on a regular basis not just when they want to make a slavery, exotic, or foreign language piece of art. Every culture and race should be represented both equally and fairly in society. Every culture should be able to watch a program and feel a sense of pride knowing their are considered a part of the social fabric of American life. Gone should be the days where exclusion and one person of color is considered inclusion. She is right in the sense that every month should teach black history, present facts of various cultures, and give credence to the reality that the world is more than just one tone.

In closing, I am 29 years old and will make 30 this year, God willing. I don't have enough words in the English language to describe how incredibly tired I am of talking about race. I would love to just be in my own skin and feel every sense of humanity that is my God given right as a human being. I pray that one day the world will heal itself of the heavily veiled theme of "skin separation" and truly level the playing field so EVERYONE can have a chance to simply "be." Oh wouldn't that be a happy day? Most certainly.