Given that I grew up in a spacious bungalow spread out on its own compound with a large balcony and that through the years I have lived in either a duplex, townhouse or condo which usually comes with more living space, an apartment can be a squeeze.
My biggest hang-up is that there’s insufficient space to express myself and to set up my personal workspace, which kind of impacts on my ability to create the ambience that I want my workspace to have, to get into the zone and to focus on what I am doing. I love being surrounded by nature and growing plants/herbs, unfortunately, the heat of the Middle-East and lack of sufficient space does not make it conducive to go as green as I would love. Anyhow, I have indoor plants scattered around the house.
There is one central AC control which means that it is difficult to regulate the temperature in different parts of the house, so if it’s cold, it’s cold everywhere and vice-versa.
The AC ducts also brings in aromas/whiffs of our neighbours cooking or the smell of burning incense and a lot of times this happens in the middle of the night and being a light sleeper, heavy smells of garlic, fried onions, curry, spices, incense or what have you simply wakes me and keeps me up at night.
It is not all negative to say the least and over the years of living here, I have managed to create a cozy home for me and my family, but I do look forward to a time in the near future when I will leave the concrete jungle and return to something more spacious, private and surrounded by nature.
One fear that I battled with for a long time and can finally look back and say, I came, I saw and I conquered’ was the fear of being my true, authentic self. As a young black African woman, I was raised in a predominantly patriarchal society and have had to fight hard to get where I am today and still fighting. Sadly, experience and living in other parts of the world has shown me that this situation persists from place to place albeit in different forms. These situations used to bother me a lot.
As a young black girl, I was so concerned with not creating any ripples, making waves and rocking any boat, that I waited far too long to start speaking up for myself. I endured bullying and physical assault, that I thought that if I suffered in silence that it would stop and if I worked twice as hard to succeed in all that I do, that one day all of my hard work would magically pay off and my success would announce itself. I found out soon enough that I couldn’t suffer through such situations and had to learn to fight back any way I could.
Now living and working in the UAE, I have fought hard with prejudice, fought with not making myself small to make others feel comfortable and unthreatened by my presence as a vocal, audacious, confident and proud black woman. I have had to deal with various ranges of microaggressions and a lot of times pulled far more than my weight in order to prove my value. It hasn’t been a smooth journey learning never to think less of myself because of my skin colour and how others may perceive me and to stand tall in the face of such adversities – especially when everyday reality tries to assert the opposite.
I have learnt how to overcome these obstacles, how not to lower my standards and pride myself on how my experiences have helped me to become a connector of people, places, positivity and possibilities.
These days, I prioritize myself outside of work and above most things. Over the years, I’ve learned that at the end of the day, places might change, teams will change, projects and jobs will end but my mind and my body are the only constants that I have and that taking care of every part of all that concerns me is critical to getting through the storms of life. I had to learn to reset my relationship with self-care and wellbeing and I no longer allow work, or anyone dictate my mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. This shift in paradigm has given me the energy to take control of my situation where and when I can and not to be fixated with how others see me. I no longer look for permission to be me nor do I seek other people’s validation to be authentically true to myself.
As treasure connotes something truly special, my lost treasures are intangible and irreplaceable. Three people come so easily to mind: my dad, my mother-in-law and my brother-in-law.
Death can be so final even when it comes slowly like the way my dad and my mother-in-law lost their battle with Cancer after a valiant battle. It was a heart wrenching and intensely difficult time for our family and what amazes me till today is how graceful these two humans were in the face of such debilitating illness. I loved and still love my dad to bits and his passing hit me really hard. Just writing this makes my heart flood with sadness. I have grown to bear the pain of his loss and to ruminate in the beautiful memories that he left behind and appreciate him over and over again. I think one of my regrets is not telling him often how much I loved him and that my kids did not have enough opportunity to really get to know him. He was a gentleman and a good man. I believe that I was in a state of denial and had kept hoping that God’s mercy would prevail and that he would win the battle with cancer. Till his last moments I stayed hopeful, but death robbed me.
My mother-in-law and I grew close especially considering how much my husband adored her. She was not just the matriarch of the family, but became my ally as well. Her name was Grace and indeed she was such a graceful and beautiful soul. Although her passing wasn’t sudden as she fought breast cancer for several years but her last day with us is forever etched on my mind as I was there in her last moments when she transitioned.
You truly never understand the enormity of what you have until you have lost it, more especially when the loss is sudden. My brother-in-law’s passing was like a bolt of lightening. It was a rude shock. He drowned. Till this moment, the circumstances surrounding his demise in Toronto is still unclear to us. He was quite a gregarious young man and his absence is felt.
If I could turn back the hands of time, I would love to have my family members back and relive all the beautiful moments with them. These people were gems and to know them was simply to love them.
My family is going through a very difficult financial time right now that each day is burgeoned with struggle. Each waking moment comes inundated with its own portion of challenges that goes beyond just getting through the day.
There are times when it’s truly hard to say that all is well when the struggle is tedious.
I go through bouts of depression and mental stress these days that I lose sleep and some days are much harder than others. Sometimes, I literally feel as if the quagmire of life is bent on swallowing me and I struggle to drag myself out of the funk.
Now as I grow older, I understand better and empathize with those who become overwhelmed with life and seek easy ways out of their pain. Sometimes, we are in so much unseen pain that the person right next to us does not even grasp the magnitude of our internal struggles.
Most times, these pains are not only in the mind, they affect other aspects of our body and who we are and a lot of times they are triggered by events out of our control. I am trying not to focus too much on the problems but to redirect my energy on possible solutions as focusing on the problems only amplifies them. I am also repeating the ‘serenity prayer’ to help me keep calm and absorbing the words
If you find it in your heart and with any change to spare, you can support me in your own little way. Shalom ♥
Getting back to blogging, I have found myself at a certain loss. It feels so familiar yet strange, because like everything that changes over time, a lot seems to have happened in blogosphere. I feel like a newbie, albeit with some jaded sense of know-how. I am tip-toeing around my blog trying to find my way once again, afraid to click on unknown features just in case I break something – not literally, but you get what I mean.
I recall that when I started blogging I could plug away for hours on end and derived such joy from putting my thoughts in writing. The joy has not gone though it has ebbed a bit. The hours to plug away on the keyboard has gone with the vagaries of life, since bills don’t pay themselves. Back then, I jumped in with such gusto and gumption and decision to make it work; to eke out a living doing something that I truly love. Things got in the way, life happened so much so that it made me question my trueness.
I have questioned my authenticity and second-guessed my passion for written and spoken word. I have found myself comparing and wondering if I am really true to my art. If I really want to be a writer as passionately as I had supposed? Because, as we are told, if you want something badly enough, you will do what needs to be done and you will find the time to make sure that it works out. It may sound romantic being a hungry, starving artist, but the rude awakening and harsh reality of life makes such aspirations a near impossible feat to achieve in this part of the world and in most parts I daresay.
NOT paying your bills can land you behind bars in my neck of the woods. As valuable as words may be, mine are yet to land me that goldmine and to present the peace of mind that money can buy or rather being able to sleep without your landlord hounding you for rent. I derail.
I have had to revamp my mind. To remember that often times the key notes of our life’s story might be out of tune for a bit, but once our fingers glide over the keys, like the gentle caress of a cherished old lover, we kindle with familiarity.
My thoughts are on how the blogging field has changed though my keyboard remains the same. How there are now many icons, bells and whistles here and there. I almost feel as if I should enroll in learning how things work here once again. Sadly, the course is paid for and I most certainly can’t afford such finesse. What do you think? Is going to WordPress University a worthwhile investment or do you think that I can find my way just by tinkering around?
The weather at this time of the year is at its best in the UAE. A great dose of chilly air with a bit of sun thrown in and I am totally lovin’ it 🙂
I’m going to stay in the present and enjoy every bit of the season without letting my mind run off to the fact that the blissful weather will not stay long with us.
Last evening, I had a lovely open-air evening out with some Emirati friends. We sat around the fire drinking Arabian coffee – a wonderful blend of coffee and spices – eating dates, cakes, grill etc. It was just a lovely evening well spent; watching the logs crackle and burn, eating, listening to music, chatting about everything and nothing.
Though my inner throat was growling to snaffle all the goodies in sight, I held my self-respect like a cloak around me in the chilly night and indulged daintily. I am a foodie and believe me when I tell you that the struggle to behave myself around food is real, especially when it comes to sweet nibbles.
I keep having to tell the cookie monster in me that it’s all about balance and not either of the extremes – starving the craving or gobbling up everything – and I think that approach keeps her tamed, calm and contented.
Last night also reminded me that the deeply satisfying and pleasurable things in life are the simple things and most times these simple things are free: laughter, friendship, music, nature…and of course food 😉
It’s the start of a new work week, though mine started yesterday and wherever you may be at this point in time, remember that grace abounds. May your week be fulfilling and your hunger satisfied.
Many times, I logged on, but I failed to say anything. Words milled around in my head, but they couldn’t transport to my fingers.
Where would I start? Is it the fact that I had a heart-stopping couple of weeks when I felt a suspicious bump in my bosom buddy? I was scared shitless!
I wondered about how I would have to start putting my house together and preparing my children for their journey through life without me. My thoughts were morbid. I was seized with fear. The emotions that raced through me were on another level. I couldn’t give words to them lest they took physical form and wings.
The visit to the doctors was nerve-wracking, to say the least, and I won’t bore you with the details, but I must tell you that I did a lot of soul-searching, had leaky eyes, ugly-cried and clutched my beads as I bargained with God.
Thankfully, fate has been merciful. The results came back. My Boobs are well. There is nothing to be alarmed about. Phew!
I felt guilty and not so guilty for having neglected my blog. My mind and heart were not in the right place and I needed a breather to realign myself.
My blog is my second home and I’m quite attached to it to such an extent that I found it difficult to come in and be blase about things when there’s so much going on with me. The connection I have with this blog transcends my ability to describe it and I guess it’s because I’ve invested a lot of my time and emotions into it. Strangely, I don’t have such affinity with other social platforms that I use.
Every day I consciously remind myself of the things that matter and I am learning each day as I journey on my path that the most important lesson – which hammers itself into my cranium – is that every moment we have been given is absolutely precious with a capital P.
Thank you for everything. It’s me. Standing here in need to be heard. I try to keep a positive and upbeat attitude, but many times doubt creeps in through the cracks. I will not live in the debilitating fear of uncertainty. I will try not to worry ‘cos worry simply amplifies a problem. I will keep my faith and not fear about being unable to provide or to succeed. I believe that you’ll provide for us as you have always done and that success is my just reward.
Dear Lord, however, I can’t lie and I must confess to you that there are days that I fret so much about our finances and future. There are days that holding on seems such a struggle. Days that I fervently pray for calmness in the periods of storm and that your grace is sufficient unto that day.
Dear Lord, I try to pragmatically do just do what needs to be done, though most times I am not even sure anymore.
Yes, we literally planted our dreams. Grabbing handfuls of the remaining Spring’s moments, I took the children to the park armed with our post-its and coloured pens. Each of us wrote out 5 dreams/aspiration of ours, folded the papers nicely, dug little holes around the tree and planted them amongst the grass. We had a few curious squirrels as observers and I guess they aren’t surprised ‘cos they’ve seen enough queer humans.
I told the children that though the paper might decay and become one with earth, the dreams have been sown into their hearts and that each day they must till the soil of their dreams, water and nurture them till they yield bountiful returns ‘cos every seedling has its season.
I also told them that sometimes our dreams and aspirations change and our harvest becomes different but that it’s okay ‘cos that’s the way life works at times. However, for each aspiration, they must plant it into the soil of their reality and not hold on to the seeds ‘cos the seeds alone will not yield abundance. ‘All great deeds begin as seeds.’ Months and years may pass before these seeds grow into full form and we see the glimpse of our harvest, but the birthing moment is as important as the harvest.
The land is green and the Earth is ripe for planting. Amidst the pressures of our modern lives, we tend to think that the conditions have to be right in order for us to start but time and time again my experience has shown that most times the simple act of starting is what makes the conditions right.