Category Archives: inspiration

Faith vs Ideologies

Come Sunday, we would be celebrating Christ’s resurrection and with that, mark the close of Lenten season. I must admit that I didn’t quite abide by all the rules of Lent per my catholic doctrine which was unintentional. During this whole period, one question has repeatedly popped up in my mind. How do I marry my Christian faith with my personal ideologies?

I guess some people would be justified to raise an eyebrow in wonderment since our ideologies are often times formed by our foundation in Christianity, which is perfectly understandable. And others might probably not understand why a parallel would exist in the first place between faith and personal ideologies because it would seem that faith gives rise to personal ideologies and they are not mutually exclusive. But I beg to differ.

I grew up in a very religious home; went to morning mass with my mom every morning, diligently observed all holy obligations, took part in church activities when I wasn’t in school and was very convinced I had the calling to be a nun ( topic for another day). At first, these were things I did because my mom introduced us to them and per my culture, you do as you are told. As I got older, I understood why I did them and actually enjoyed being part of it.

As a grown woman with some life experiences in her years, the many different realities I have lived through both personal and otherwise have shaped some of my personal ideologies and brought me to many questions, debates and concerns that sometimes do not match what my faith dictates I practice. For example, I have only become comfortable calling myself a Feminist recently because of how sensitive that label can get sometimes. It is not the issue of being a feminist that conflicts with my faith but the things I belief in espoused by that label. Like how I am completely for the woman having control over her OWN body and for no one to dictate to her what she can or cannot do to it. And how one of the things that she could do to it is frowned upon by my faith.Or how people who share my faith use it to hurt others in the guise of following what the good book says.

My mom would be the first to tell you I ask too many questions and the habit seem to only get worse as I age. I have become too critical of everything that I question even the things that seem obvious. And have you noticed that the more questions you ask, the less answers you find? (At least for me). That’s why I have been pondering how I can reconcile the two together. My faith reflects my ideologies but my ideologies do not always reflect my faith and there in lies the problem. I am a believer and I recognize that Christ paid all the debt for my sake. I also realize that He gave me the mental capacity to question the things that I don’t understand, to seek a answers to the things that puzzle me and above all, look to a higher power for calmness within me. I just can’t seem to find the answer to this particular question which has left me befuddled.

Does anyone else find themselves in this predicament or is it just me? If so, please share, It would be good to know that there are practicing Christians who hold values outside of the norm and hear how they deal with them. As always, thank you for stopping by, I very much appreciate it. Say, how are you feeling today?

An African In Session.

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I talked about finding one’s self in the last post (still in the search), but that’s not the only thing I have been up to these last weeks. If you have been following my blog, then you should know that I lost my older sister in the summer of last year. Recently, I have not been able to stop thinking about her and it almost feels as though I am grieving anew. You should also by now that I have been struggling with my weight since before the inception of this blog. So between finding myself, battling with my never-ending weight issues and grieving for my sister, I was becoming depressed.

I remember two days in row last month when I lost interest in everything; even in my studies which I believed was the one thing I would never loose interest in. To the point of not studying enough for an upcoming test that week and sitting for that test knowing full well I wasn’t prepared. Needless to say I flunked in magnanimous proportions on that test; proportions that have never been associated with me before. Yet, I “didn’t give ” a flying fish.

Not caring whether I failed an exam or not really scared me. I had read that loosing interest in the things that one cared a lot for in the past were tell-tale signs of imminent depression. Knowing that it could lead to something dangerous if not addressed sooner, I emboldened myself and made an appointment to see a counselor at school. You might ask why embolden?

For starters, if you missed it on my about page, then you should know I am Cameroonian from Central Africa. As per my culture, talking to ‘shrinks’ is absolutely unacceptable. Africans ‘believe’ that we don’t need to be sharing our problems with random strangers and if there’s anything to talk about, then a family meeting would be just fine to take care of that. I’d be honest that I did ascribe to these ideologies at some point, but living in America these many years later, I have a different perspective. I understand the importance of having that neutral person to open up to, who wouldn’t judge you and who is just listening to you pour your heart out. I think it is a really beautiful thing which is one of the reasons I started writing too and have not revealed my identity yet. Because I believe there’s some power that anonymity provides and allows you to speak from the heart unlike when you are familiar with your audience.

Despite all this knowledge, I had to talk myself into keeping the appointment because a part of me still thought it odd to talk to a complete stranger about my feelings. So I had to convince myself that fulfilling this was very important and so it was that I found myself face to face with a counselor.

After basic introductions, we both sat down across from each other and he asked me why I felt the need to see a counselor. A few minutes passed between us before either one said anything. Then he repeated himself and I blurted out an awkward laugh. Thankfully, he was very gracious to recognize that my nerves were getting the better part me. More time lapsed before I could muster the courage to talk and speak freely.

It was one of the most freeing experiences I have had in a long time and I wondered why I hadn’t done it sooner. It felt good sitting there , pouring my heart out to an unassuming person and for them to encourage me to talk about the feelings that I was even oblivious to these weeks. Things I thought I had forgotten reared their ugly heads again and things I didn’t even know existed where just lying in a corner waiting for the ‘right’ time to surface.  The session lasted for an hour and by the end, I must have cried a river because my face was all puffed up from the constant streaming of tears and my nose was blocked.

He suggested I return for a follow-up session and again I was hesitant. Going back would mean I have a fully manifested problem which needed fixing, which would mean I needed fixing, which would mean I am broken. But I don’t believe I am broken, let alone that I needed fixing. It took a bit of convincing on his part for me to agree on a second session. I understood from him that the ‘stigma’ about therapy isn’t reserved to Africans only but even to some western folks whose issue with it is the ‘fixing’.

I know Christians might say well, you have God to talk to, to which I say God in the scriptures encourages us to confess our sins to one another. The act of confessing things to someone else in itself is a form of counseling. And I know of a lot of Christians who could really use some counseling in their life but are either ashamed to go for it or are being to hard on themselves for their faith not being enough. (this deserves it’s own post in entirety.) It has little do to with your faith and more about your mind-frame. Your mind might be attacking itself and making it hard for you to accept the grace that your faith provides and this is where a counselor is very helpful.

What are your views on attending counseling? If for, have you been and what was your experience like and if against, why? As always, thank you for stopping by and I love you for it.

Have a sunny peachy day.

 

 

‘Hater’ Alert!!!

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How many times a day do you hear or read the word ‘hater’ either on social media or regular conversation? How often do you read it in FB statuses or comments on blogs/articles? Or are you one of those who easily gravitate to that word in defense of your opinions or in response to someone else’ opinion?

Well, regardless of your usage of the word; if you are a social media practitioner, then you have probably come to accept the term ‘hater’ as part of normal day-to-day discourse. Although there are scenarios in which usage of the word is appropriate,  often times those scenarios are few and far between.

The world over has become a village of overtly sensitive people; many people have become passive consumers that they no longer try to think for themselves or even aim to stand out from the crowd. It seems to be expected of us to not only dress-alike, eat the same things or even do the same mundane things. Heaven forbids that anyone steps out of this ‘norm’ and they are immediately tagged a ‘hater’.

I am always puzzled when I peruse through FB and read the countless statuses addressing haters, wondering how said poster knew of their haters if they themselves where not hating in return. I fail to see a ‘hater’ just because someone gave you constructive criticism or when they either reason differently from you or live opposing lives to yours.

Now, you have people who use it as a defense mechanism for poor choices, those who  use it as an excuse to be lazy and yet, others who use it as a shield to avoid criticism. The word has been so over-used that it is loosing its meaning. It would soon be on the same list as cursed words, that is if it is not already there.

We have become an abhorrently politically correct culture that anyone who dares to be different or to have a contrasting view on  the subject being discussed is easily branded a ‘hater’.  This view is very simplistic at best and ignorant at worst because people are always going to have diverse views and ideologies.

Dictionary.com defines a ‘hater’ as someone who has an intense dislike for another person or thing. Intense dislike is a very strong emotion, think about it. Not everyone who doesn’t agree with you or who lives differently from you is out to get you or feels that strongly about you especially when they don’t know you in person.

The beauty of our world is in our differences in opinions and individuality. I guess I am beckoning to your inner being then; to not care too much about what people would think but ‘do you’, be more open to others’ views, don’t be quick to dismiss criticism for it could hold a lesson, and be more accommodating to others’ choices too.

And if you don’t agree with this article, then you are just a ‘hater’. (pun intended).

No Inspiration

emoticons-sadFor days I would come here, peruse through this blog and reread past articles and other WordPress blogs. I always opened the blog with the intention to write, topics abounding in my head, so many exciting things I wanted to share with whoever cared to click on the story, but at last; I would stare at a blank page for minutes and sometimes hours without the words, no idea how to begin a sentence. Time after time after time. I did enjoy reading other blogs and discovering new writing styles. So I think it wasn’t all lost.

Is this what is meant by writer’s block? If it is, how long does it last because I have been suffering from this for months. I thought writer’s block was meant to last only one writing session not weeks and months. If it is indeed writer’s block, how do I resolve it having lasted this long. I miss writing and I have material to write about but I just don’t get the inspiration to put my thoughts to screen.

It got me wondering whether there was something else much bigger at play, like say depression? I know it seems a bit far fetched how a lack of inspiration would mean that I am depressed but I had recently lost interest in all my favorite TV shows too; and I have been eating so mindlessly lately. Everyone always becomes a doctor to self-diagnose their symptoms these days thanks in part to WebMD; so imagine my horror when I my fears where confirmed by the good internet doctor.

In all honesty, I haven’t been myself these last months and that is putting it lightly, but I also know I am not depressed because that is not a very good place to be and I refuse to go there. I generally feel lost most times and I know what I am supposed to be doing but I can’t bring myself to do it. Instead I focus on all the wrong things; my distraction is so alarming I don’t know what else to do. I feel like I am just surviving and not living my life, and it is annoying.

One of the unintentional habits of mine I had hoped to quit is stop quitting. I took a hard look at my life and I wasn’t happy with what I saw. Apart from my education,  I always start a project but never see it through;countless times I have stopped a project half way without reason or even without intent. If I had a penny for every project I unconsciously quit, I would have a hefty bank account. This bothers me because I am not a quitter, at least not intentionally.

So in hopes of holding myself accountable (another thing I have tried severally but failed), I got a planner today to write my intentions down. I learned this from my management class on Tuesday that to see anything through, you have to have a timeline of events and the only thing to help with that is planning ahead using a planner. I am barraged with ideas and things I would love to do everyday but I am scared I would start only to leave them half way.

As I have read, baby steps is the way to go, meaning small things first which is why I am very ecstatic about being able to write a full post today. I have read quite a bit about people feeling lost and finding themselves again. This is me trying to find myself again on WordPress. Most of my exciting moments I can remember where always when I wrote a full post and published it. I can’t wait to see how I feel after this.

If there’s anyone out there who feels this way, care to share how you got through it? Thank you again to my WordPress fam for always coming through even when you had no idea you did. To all the bloggers out there whose blogs kept me entertained, educated me and motivated me; blogs like Naked Christian, TantoVerde: Simple. Delicious. Vegetarian, Talking to My Weight Loss Counselor – God, Stories without Border and so many others, thank you. Thank you because you have no idea how many times you came through for a girl.

 

 

 

 

 

 

To My Mom – On Her 50th Birthday

Happy Birthday to my adviser, my mentor, my counselor, my inspiration,my confidant, my anchor, my partner in crime, my love, my best friend and MY MOTHER. I cannot believe that my sweet young mother is 50 today. The big 5-0.

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Every one  always says their mom is the best mother in the world but my mom, she takes the crown of the best mother in the world ever. I don’t remember a moment in my life when my mom wasn’t there for either one of us.

She was only 19 when she met and married my dad and they both started a family. When her dream of going back to school to get her degree didn’t pan out, she graciously became a stay-at-home. It wasn’t that she didn’t have something to fallback on (she had learned every trade and handwork she could) but she decided she was going to spend her day and time caring for her children.

My mom was always there for us because my dad was mostly away at work (he was in the military and came as often as his job allowed him to) and because of that, she was both our mom and our dad. My mom understood early on (unlike most African parents of her generation) that spanking/beating wasn’t what got kids to listen and obey.

So she developed this system with us where she gave a warning the first three times we committed an offense before resulting to stringent discipline like spanking. For my sisters and I, we always adjusted by the second warning but not my brother, he got the most spanking from my mother.

We sometimes described her as having “split-personality” because one minute, she is laughing with us, telling us funny stories from her childhood or being our friend and the next, she is this stern, strict and no nonsense disciplinarian.

When I was first going away to dormitory school, my mom sat me down and tearfully pleaded that I do nothing else but study.She recanted how much she loved school and longed to finish her own education but didn’t have the opportunity and admitted how proud she was that I excelled in school, stating that she was fulfilling her educational goals through me. We both cried so hard when she dropped me off at school and she had to be escorted out of the “girls’ camp” because she wasn’t ready to leave me just yet.

She lovingly explained to me one Sunday morning when I wouldn’t stop panicking about how I had now transitioned from a “girl” to a “woman”. It was a beautiful sunny day and we both sat at the back of the house and she gave me the “lecture” about sex (very uncommon for African parents). I could tell even then, she felt very awkward discussing the topic with me but kept going.It was from mom I first knew that the fear of boys, was the beginning of wisdom (basically, a boy grazing me meant I was pregnant…lol).

She is our biggest critic and yet our biggest cheerer. She would always correct us when we faltered, always doing so lovingly; pushing us to be our best and assuring us at the same time that we were better than we gave ourselves credit for. We gave her many nicknames relating to different things and one of them was “report card”. It was an unwritten rule in our house that if you didn’t want dad knowing your business, then mom was better off not knowing either because once she knew, our dad automatically knew too.

My mom is down-to-earth, easy-going and the life of the party every where she goes. Just as we have nicknames for her at home, so do her friends.(Some call her “amstel”, don’t ask me how they came about the moniker)  She has an amazing sense of humor (I often wonder why I didn’t inherit that side of her) and incredulous one liners;she enters any room and a party ensues. My mom is so friendly that we sometimes get “jealous” of her friendship with our friends. Some fondly call her “Ma Caro”

My mom is always the first person I run to when something exciting happens to me and when things are not going well. She was reluctant to discuss my love-life when I first started dating (again, very typical of African parents) but gradually she came around and wanted to know every detail (I know, TMI to be discussing with my mom) and I obliged. Sometimes, she would offer tips “about how to treat a man”.

Everyone says I am a carbon-copy of my dad but my mom says I am totally and completely her in character. She tells me to tone down my aggressiveness towards my wants and dreams sometimes because as she says “I am going to drive men away”. She never fails to tell me how proud she is of me even when I don’t feel good about myself and never misses an opportunity to tell me she loves me.

She would fast for days and go on retreats praying for us and every time we talk on the phone, she always ends the conversation with prayers in the form of blessings. She never missed any opportunity to introduce us to her friends who mostly didn’t believe her, stating she was too young to have kids as grown as us; to which she would just laugh it off saying “if only the world had let my Merline be Merline”.

Merline is my older sister, the first born who as my mom tells us had an accident on the same day I was born. She became mentally challenged and epileptic following the accident. Many of my mom’s friends were always shocked when they came home and found she had a disabled daughter at home because she was always jovial, like everything was alright in her world.

We have watched her provide unwavering care and unconditional love to my sister and together with my dad, they have never stopped seeking help for her.

I haven’t seen my family in 7 years and I miss them all so much, but of all the things I miss, what I miss most is mom’s food. Anyone who has ever tasted my mom’s food will testify that she is “Da best cook”. My sister calls her “Master” because that is what she is, a master at her craft and once someone taste her food, they keep coming back for more.

It is hard even for me to grasp that my mom, my “sweet little mother” as I refer to her sometimes is turning 50, that she has been on this earth for half-a-century already. I called her this morning to wish her happy birthday and we spoke for over an hour and when I asked her what her wish was for her 50th, she said for God to bless her children that they live their full potential and for God to grant both her and my dad long life so they live to see our success.

My mom is a special woman, she is the pillar on which our family rests on and the glue that has kept and continues keeping us together. She is the woman behind the successful man my father is, she is the one we run to for support and protection when dad is mad at us, she is the first one to yell at us when we are wrong and the first one always encouraging and pushing us to be better.

I know that she lives her dreams vicariously through me and I am honored to be the medium that fulfills those dreams. She is not just my mother, she is my inspiration, my motivation, the reason I strive to be better and literally the reason why I am here. She chose to give me and my siblings life and even if for no other reason, we are indeed grateful and thankful.

I am proud to call you my Mother and on this day, I wish you a mighty Happy Birthday and pray that your wishes do come true. I love you mom and Happy 50th birthday.

My Invisible Body

I have tried to lose wait since I can remember. I am one of those people who never had a petite figure to begin with, but gradually I got bigger and bigger. I am also one of those born into those families with ‘fat’ genes (I totally do not blame my weight on that) but I know I have used it as an excuse sometimes.

I remember too while in high school, one of my friends always teased me or perhaps predict my future when she said if I didn’t watch myself, I would get bigger and I always told her, there was no way that was ever happening. According to me, as I told her, I was either going to lose weight or keep up my stature. I wish that were true.

Sometimes I feel like my weight snuck up on me. I look at myself in the mirror most times and I wonder when I got here and how I got here. Don’t get me wrong, I am foodie I admit it. I have always had a sweet tooth and my cravings seem to control me at other times that it felt like if I didn’t do anything about it in the moment, I will be impregnated by it. At the same time, I have always been an active person, I always made sure to work out. Now my workouts were not by Olympic standards by any stretch ,neither were they that of the most athletic people. But I tried to work out on the treadmill at least 30 minutes for at least three times a week.

My meals were not/ are not the most health conscious meals but I tried/try my very best and it is my snacks that just seem to mess up my whole efforts. I am not trying to justify my weight neither am I making excuses for not losing it. But every single time I think I am making a step in the right direction, something always messes it up.

I have been to places before where I either knowingly or unknowingly eves dropped on people’s conversations and I would hear about their weights and look at them and wonder ‘ wow, you weigh that little and look that big?” That is because for most of those that I have heard and seen, their weights don’t add up because in most cases, I weigh more than them but I look less heavier than them.

I am also very conscious of my body, so I always try to dress “decent” and not wear any thing that is unflattering to my figure, which always gets people to compliment me on how good I look. Not to sound vain, I am a very confident person myself and each time before I leave home, I look in the mirror and tell myself, ‘girl, you look smashing’.

So I was thinking about all these things two days ago and wondering if they have all made me invisible to my body. How is it that sometimes, I feel like the biggest person in the world which does affect my self-esteem and yet everybody keeps telling me how good I look. Is it that my body became a normal to me that it was now invisible to the point that even I didn’t see that I needed fixing?, in this case weight loss.?

Some people find pleasure sometimes in downing other people everyday not realizing the struggles that said people have to go through with everyday. My body is not invisible because I can’t see it. The compliments people give me are simply because I dress for my body type. But I am sure that like me, many overweight, big and obese people have let their bodies become invisible.

It is not that we don’t look in the mirror ,neither is it that we don’t see ourselves when we look in the mirror. It is simply that some of us have given up that hope that we would ever look like what we did in high school, some of us don’t have the courage enough to go on that journey and some, they have just chosen to not see that body.

Some of us like me, have chosen to not see that body not because it is not there, but because somehow it reminds us or tells us that we are failures. I was thinking just last week, how it is that most of the things I had decided I was going to do this year, I focused on them and did them. Unfortunately, my weight has been the one thing that I keep fighting with and for.

I have chosen to see this body now. With every bad meal choice, bad snack decision and failure to exercise I beat myself up because I am hoping that 2014 is the year when my body comes into full circle, when my body makes a 360 turn. This body is no longer invisible, this weight is no longer invisible, one step at the time and gradually, this body will come into full view.

How are you feeling today?. please share.

 

Reflections

We are three weeks away from 2014. I have had enough time in the last few days at any given opportunity to think about this year: its highs and lows, successes and failures, achievements and under achievements, and especially the resolutions that i had set at the beginning of 2013 that i now realize did not materialize.

If there is anything i had hoped for and prayed for most to have this year, it was focus and drive but examining the days past, i realize it eluded me as usual. I knew that setting numerous resolutions as i always did in the past from loosing weight, to finishing a writing project, to traveling and exploring more would not have come to pass, so instead, i resolved to be more focused and driven.

Focus and drive because i knew that if i had those two, i would somehow be able to achieve anything i put my mind to, but i think i just didn’t have enough of it. Sometimes i was more focused and driven than at other times and with particular objectives. I wish it had translated to all of my projects but i know that 2014, a new year, is always a time, a second chance to do it better and well.

So i decided this morning i am not going to wait for January 1st of 2014 to resolve to be focused and driven and i begin today. Starting with my writing which is why i resumed today. I have made countless excuses as to why i have not written since my first post, saying i was busy with school. But somehow, i found time to watch movies, shop and visit friends but couldn’t find the time to do what i am passionate about which is writing.

I also know why i was reluctant to write, which is the fear of rejection. If there is any lesson i have learned in this year, is that people will always criticize even when they don’t know why they are criticizing. That i will not and cannot make every body happy all of the time. That no matter the criticism and rejection, as long as i am confident with what i put out and in myself, i will be just fine and to not reject all criticism because some are actually my learning tools.

So with all of these lessons, i set out today to make this my official first post, promising myself to be focused and driven to write at least one post a day, even if it is just a word. To focus on my writing this year and do a lot more reading than i have in the past, to read one new book every month starting from now and to finally loose the weight.

To keep myself motivated and focused, i have decided to chronicle my weight loss journey here,my workouts if i do, what i eat through the day with the hope that it keeps me accountable to myself and inspires me to go further.

I cannot sit by waiting for January which is three weeks away to effect changes in my life when i could start right now. I hope you who stumbled upon this post can realize like me that three weeks is too much time to waste and get on with whatever it is you resolve to do next year and start now.

To move forward in life no matter what area it is, we have to accept and come to terms with our failures, examine why we failed, accept it as a learning experience, seek the solution and act on it. I will not lie to you that i am not disappointed sometimes or even mad when i reflect on the past, but that is just what it is, the past. I have accepted and i am looking to move forward.

So my new year begins today December 11th when i had the wake up call and made the decision to act on it. I have so many goals for this new year and hope to accomplish them but my resolve remains the same as last year’s ; i resolve to be more focused and driven because with these, i can accomplish those goals.

Forgive me for jumping the gun because while i celebrate Christmas and wish you a marvelous one with family and friends, i would like to wish you a Happy New Year first, that way your Christmas would be extraordinary.

peace,love…..