CHOOSE WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY.

Choices 2Today, 12th May, happens to be my birthday. I think this was a perfect day for my mother to give birth to a bouncing baby girl for all the worthy reasons. First, on the year I was born, 12th May was one of the best days of the week- now for the people who are curious about my age, go check your calendars. Second, its tongue friendly and sweet to your ears, twelfth May. If you think this is a joke, you should ear Stan pronounce it with his baritone voice.  (I literally paused to hear him say it and wish I could attach a sound clip for the ‘doubting thomases’ on the streets). Third, my birth-date makes me a Taurus and the whole world knows that Taurus women are the best thing that happened to the universe. I could go on and on but let us leave it at that. Okay?

On my birthday eve, I tucked in quite late trying to finish a book that I had to because I did not want to grow a year older, reading same book. Sounds lame but it is what it is. I love reading but am very selective on what type of books I read. I had been reading The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz. This was Stan’s recommendation during our last monthly book review session. He convinced me a good one until had to comply. Some quotes from the book did inspire me and this post as well.

“Learning to choose is hard. Learning to choose well is harder. And learning to choose well in a world of unlimited possibilities is harder still, perhaps too hard.”

 “Knowing what’s good enough requires knowing yourself and what you care about. So: Think about occasions in life when you settle, comfortably, for “good enough”; Scrutinize how you choose in those areas; then apply that strategy more broadly.”

Focus on what makes you happy, and do what gives meaning to your life”

“If you seek and accept only the best, you are a maximizer.”

The first quote is more like a perfect summary for the book while the other three are my key takeaways. We are very close with Stan and always talk about anything and everything. He is smart, just as I am, but we get silly and stupid sometimes. We have inside jokes. We can talk about you while you are seated next to us and you would never know it- infact, you will contribute to the story blindly.  Stan always jokes about how we met and how vulnerable we both were. He throws shade about some guys I was dating and it never gets old.

For a long time, I did not know who I was. I did not know what I cared about. I did I did not know what I wanted out of this life-my life. Let me use a cliché one- I did not even know my purpose. Boy- this girl was lost! But see, see what God does? I now know crystal clear what I want and want I don’t want. I know my boundaries and confidently talk about them. I know who I can entertain and who I can’t. Am not luke- warm about anything. Am either hot or cold. Am grey about no nothing! I only know of white or black. I am very expressive and let people know who I am, “the dance moves we can have and those that we can’t have”. I have known what is good for me overtime and every day I strive to use this strategy to choose what is excellently good for me.

Every day I choose to seek and accept only the best and what makes my beautiful self-happy. See, like calling myself beautiful! I have chosen to be a maximizer.

See, before I met Stan, I was stuck at a failed relationship. I was sad and somewhat depressed. I would blame myself and tell myself, “if only on that day you had done this or that, the relationship would still be strong”. I kept thinking about someone who did not feel the same way I felt about him. I was waiting for a call or email from someone who I was probably the last thing they ever thought about. But don’t we all go through that phase in our life?

Then amidst this dark period Stan happened. Boom! You all know why he is one of the best thing that happened to me.  He did not make me happy but helped me begin focusing on what makes me happy and gives meaning to my life. Life has never been the same and everyday he holds my hand and walk through life with me. He has become my cheerleader, best friend, confidant, prayer partner…

Truth is that learning to choose is hard. However, when you know who you are and what you want then you begin to align your choices. You choose what brings you happiness. You choose what helps live your purposes. You choose what gives true meaning to your life. You choose who you give your heart to.

Go thee and be a maximizer! Seek and accept only the best.

Like T.I. and Iggy Azalea would say… No Mediocre!

 

 

 

 

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OF HEADLINES AND JUDGEMENTS.

IMG_9809It’s in the wee hours of Saturday morning and you would confuse the flow of the river and the swaying sound of bamboo trees next to my house for showers of rain. My alarm is one minute away from going on. Its 5:14 in the AM. I have thirty minutes to shower and dress up in preparation for my treat from Stan.

Naturally, Stan treats me to a lot of things. However, today’s treat is special. My friends know I believe in self-love more than anything else but Stan, is on another level with the concept of self -love. This is his life-mantra and stand point for 95% of his viewpoints.

Last couple of days I had been dealing with a great deal of family stuff which took a toll on me. This did not only affect me but Stan as well. We actually have this inside joke about “your people will be my people”-which I promised I will never share in details so forgive me for leaving it at that.

He had planned a trip and the only details I was given about this trip is what I was supposed to wear and carry in my bag. He had advised that I carry a book-which I found odd. A road trip with Stan and a book? How? Why? Anyway, I obliged.

Did I mention that Stan is such an English-timer? At 5:45 AM he arrived to pick me up and at 6:30 AM we were done with breakfast. I suggested we get water and a few bitings but he points me to the trunk. He is too organized for life! In fact, if you need someone to organize your next trip holla at Stan. He does trip planning so effortlessly and perfectly.

This seems to be a weird trip, because he advises that I take the back-left seat. “Ma’am please “he says while opening the door for me. This is good, amazing and weird but I oblige. He hands me over my take-away tea and Maasai Shuka (which he had brought along) because it’s a bit chilly. Isn’t Stan boyfriend goals? *Winks.

Just before the journey begins he does the thing pilots do prior to starting a flight- am sure you know what am talking about. But he is smart—he fumbles around the destination section. With a broad cheeky smile and staring at me through the rear-view mirror, he plays our current collection of favorite jazz and country music and this takes me to cloud 7. The long awaited and deserved journey begins and I turn to my current read- No Higher Honor. A memoir of Condoleezza Rice years in Washington. In the prologue she says something which is very profound.

“Today’s headlines and history’s judgement are rarely the same. If you are too attentive to the former, you will mostly certainly not do the hard work of securing the latter” She ices it with words of C.V Wedgewood “History is lived forward but it is written in retrospect. We know the end before we consider the beginning and we can never recapture what is was to know the beginning only”

The first statement got me thinking that we care too much about what people will say “in the now” about our choices. What will people think- a question that has killed so many dreams.

The fear of what will people think, makes us do things to please our families, our colleagues, our friends, and the society at large. We want people to say good things about us at the expense of securing our bright future. We end up being people pleasers!

If you are too careful thinking about what people will think, you will certainly-or most likely (because there are outliers in all situations), not make history. And history, does not have to be grand! It’s the small things that make you live an authentic life and guide you to achieve your goals, your dreams and your heart desires.

Stop asking what will people think. Stop being a people pleaser. Seek advice but follow your gut. Submit to your conscious. Listen to that inner voice. Make choices that that you can live with the consequences forever. Work hard to secure history’s judgment that you will be proud of.

X0X0!

BE CALM. RELAX! BE FREE.

bE cALMSunday breakfast at my house- One thing I always know for sure Stan will sacrifice his Sunday morning sleep for. But why? You ask. Because, I usually go extra with Sunday breakfast and it’s always more of a brunch menu than a breakfast menu. As my friend Wakesho jokingly says “Gina you show off on Sundays or whenever you are preparing breakfast for your visitors.”
I understand that’s her way of saying am extra. She loves it. Stan loves it. Anyone in my house on Sunday morning loves it.

Today was quite a special Sunday because and I went for a 5KM run in the morning. Not solely because I am preparing for some of the marathon happening in 2019 but because I needed to be ready for my tomorrow’s gym session- a story for another day.

Getting back home and after a quick shower, I put on my dira/dera (whatever- a free dress) and get ready to have my hands dirty as I prepare plantains, some eggs, some bacon and all other good stuff we love on our Sunday brunch! Slowly and carefully peeling my plantains while watching the beautiful flowers right outside my kitchen window, it strikes how calm they are- the flowers! Whether it’s hot, chilly or pouring heavily they thrive. Across all seasons they are always in their element. Yes! – am that observant.

This observation reminds me of the Bible verse that says- I paraphrase “be still and know that I am God.”

As human beings we tend to worry about things that are beyond our control. Things and opportunities that we have lost. People who walked out of our lives. Failed relationships. Friends who have betrayed us. Disappointments at work or by family members. And the list goes on and on.

Am not immune to these type of experiences and before I would get close to depression when things did not go my way or close to my expectations.

However, overtime I have learnt that when life begins to crumble and I find myself drowning in a sea of circumstances, when the world is swirling and the noise is deafening I remind myself that everything happens for a reason. And most importantly I remember to be grateful knowing that I have God who calms the sea. A higher being that will hold my hand with love, take me through the phase and see me come out stronger and better.

To you, who is reading this remember that, when the pressure is really on, you can dramatically improve your own situation by remaining calm and relaxed. To remain calm, whenever the world around you is swirling in confusion, is to be firmly in control.

When you are calm you can carefully consider your options. Act with focus and precision. And you will gain advantage over those who thoughtlessly act out of panic and frustration.

See the good in everything that happens. Stay calm, and stay in control.

X0X0!

DO EXTRA. BE EXTRAORDINARY.

ExtraOrdinary.Sunday afternoon and the sun seems to be closer to earth than usual-as my mother would put it to describe the high levels of heat. This heat however, does not deter me and mine from taking our usual Sunday afternoon walk. The clear skies are beautiful to look at but we can only steal a glance through the branches of trees on the walkway.

Usually we barely talk to each other during these walks. Everyone is always plugged on their headset. I listen to some jazz versions of popular pop songs, while Stan being the special kid that he is- will listen to his mixtapes of different genres of music- pop, reggae, jazz, gospel rnb… list is endless. “Today” we decided to be good fitness partners and conversed during the walk.  One kilometer into our walk and in the middle of our jumbled conversation, he said something that had been in my mind for the last couple of weeks. I took this as God’s and “mama’s” sign that I should do post about it.

Now grab a cup or glass of something that makes you happy and let’s have a small chat about being extraordinary! Shall we?

Ever heard of someone saying “S/he is so extra”? Before I didn’t think this was a good or cool thing- and if you also look for its definition it’s sort of a negative thing. However, nowadays I love it when someone tells me am extra. This makes me know that my efforts are elevating me from the ordinary category. So, can we can flip the meaning of “extra” and glean it positives?

Being extra is about expanding yourself. Expanding yourself means getting yourself of your comfort zone.  Being extra is being consumed with uninterruptible energy. Research has not proven this but from the few people I have interacted with, getting out of your comfort zone is one of the ingredients for the success recipe. As the old adage goes, “Success is not a comfortable thing to attempt”

If you have extraordinary ambitions, aspirations and dreams, you have to do extra. There is no other way! Good news is that we all have extra ordinary capability. You only need to put extra on your ordinary and I can bet my bottom dollar that you will not be the normal girl or boy next door. What I know for sure is that, everyone is good at one or two things- something you glow talking about- and that is your ordinary. Improving and polishing this gift is the extra which makes you extraordinary.

I love examples and one for the post is no harm- right?

Oprah- I don’t need to mention the second name. She is gifted at talking. She is not only loves it but she is good at it.  The last quarter of a decade she has been getting extra at it. And see her life!

From my own experience being extra required you to be:

  1. Authentic- Be yourself. Be you. Do you boo.
  2. Courageous- Stepping out and owning your gift with excessive passion that fear has got nothing on you.
  3. Inspired to find meaning- Find meaning in what you do. And especially if it serves a greater good. If it builds your legacy.

So, if you want to earn your pass to the party for the successful, try being extra and excellent! Otherwise, you will get an invite by extension!

Remember that putting extra will not only get you this pass but give you to the life that God- the higher being you believe in- wants you to have.

X0X0!

TEA. HEROES. MY STORY.

pexels-photo-433113333Sunday afternoon! Time to visit my newly discovered coffee and tea house in the neighborhood. Showering I can hear their very vanilla masala tea which I had promised to treat myself to today calling my name. The thought of how the chef described the recipe gets my saliva glands active. No better way to spend this afternoon than sip this tea, as I finish my conversation with Napoleon Hill about peace of mind. He is my current read.

Having put on my sunscreen and Gucci Bloom ready to leave, there is a knock on my door. My neighbor. She is here for our normal short chit chats that always leave my ribs aching because of the laughter. She makes my days and I am grateful for her. 10 minutes later, I slip on my Ngoma rubber shoes- my current shoe obsession and swing my headset around my neck. Listening to Stevy Mahy’s Beautiful I begin my walk.

Fifteen minutes later I arrive at my destination and Mike welcomes me with his warm smile showing me to my favorite sitting spot. It has a very clear view of the sky and since I love cars, I always get to steal few glances of the nice machines in the parking.

“What do you want to try today? Favorite? ” Mike asks. “ I will have the very vanilla and  an almond croissant with some extra butter” I quickly respond, while smiling and winking. Am mastering the art of multi-tasking.

pexels-photo-45926555

As Napoleon and I begin our conversation, I notice a Bentley Bentayga being parked-we will discuss this car another day because what actually catches my eyes more is the clear blue skies. There is enough beauty in nature. Staring through the clear mirror, I begin to think about 1001 things but what strikes me best is the question “what is my story?”

Faith, would tell you that Gina is obsessed with- or rather she really looks upto Oprah, Oprah Winfrey. Did I even have to mention the second name? Anyway, for the last three year since I heard her first speech, I have been following her and she does really inspire me. If before 1st December 2018, anyone asked me who inspires my story- my hero- I would mention two people, my dad and Oprah. Since then, this has changed and now my hero is…. Gina in five years. My hero is my 5 year older self. (You should see my grin as I write this). These words make me so self full. I am super excited and positive about the next 1,819 days of my life.

So what is the connection? Heroes and stories?

My story inspires me to be my own hero. Not because of many things but because I draw a lot of inspiration from my future self and feel inspired to wake-up every beautiful morning and experience life as I create my story, which eventually translates to my Legacy. I am inspired by my future self being my hero because, I know I have potential for enormous, all round success and I am willing to pay all the price that comes with it.

The very vanilla masala tea is life but what makes me happier is that I am at my happy place, I know who I am and I know what I want. My future self is my perfect hero and I have people to draw inspiration from in this journey.

As I begin writing these thoughts on my notebook I text Stan. He is the first one to get the question- What is your story going to be? He says he will tell me about it later in the evening and am really looking forward to our before bed-time video call. *Winks*

And as the year begins I pose the same question to you…

Who is your hero and what is your story going to be?

X0X0!

HUMBLE AND KIND.

5893b5ad-a477-48b6-865b-50c80eadea7bAs we walk through the small town, he meets and waves to many. Most people don’t call him by his official names, but by the name of a brand he has built over the last thirty-three years. Across the street someone shouts “his name”, actually his brand name. He seems thrilled and am sure that this must be one of his closest friends. He requests that we cross the street, and as we do, he reminds to be careful, so typical of him. He introduces me with what describes me best- a story for another day. “You don’t even need to introduce her” the friend says. “You look so alike” he continues. We look at each other and laugh-happens all the time. He cuts the friend short because my time with him was limited and we had important matters to discuss.

I had driven three hours just to talk and lunch with him. I don’t want to call it a lunch date but rather a father-daughter lunch.

Three days before this, he had called and as we talked he told me that from my voice he knew something was not okay and he wanted us to talk.  These were his actual words “Something you are not telling me must be going on. Am your friend and I want us to talk” Hearing these words I got emotional and I knew, I had to talk to my father. He not only listens, but he gives the best advice.

I remembered this flow of events as I was listening to this song by Tim MacGraw. This is a song that reads and sounds like a parent’s letter to a child who’s about to fly the coop, with the protagonist compiling a list of important life lessons, including “Don’t expect a free ride from no one.”

A song that encapsulates everything that I love about country music. It’s a guitar vocal, it’s stripped down, it’s the truth. It’s the kind of truth that can sort of make you uncomfortable and emotional.

There is something about art and hence always find myself linking some of my posts to a song that strikes a chord or two of my emotions. This is a song that made me pause for a minute and think. Think about how my father. He sits me down and takes his time to talk to me. He encourages me about 1001 things. He reminds me that am a star. That I am a Titan.

Back to my story. We talked and you can bet your bottom dollar I drove back to the city not only a happy young lady but with a lighter heart and so much hope for the future.

I don’t take it for granted I have both of my parents and they are not only loving and caring but also truthful and open with me. They tell me what I need to hear even when I don’t want to hear it. Well, most times, they package it in a nice way.

Humble and Kind reminded me of some of the most critical advice that my father gave me during that specific moment and am glad it has brought me so far.

I have moments when I seemed to have lost it all, but my father reminds me, that he has lost it all along the way but he never lost sight of his dream. Just like Martin Luther King Junior…. he had a dream. I have learned to remain grateful, strong, hopeful and for sure, events always realign to my favor. He has taught me to take pride in my achievements and stay humble. Just as Tim says,

“When the dreams you’re dreamin’ come to you
When the work you put in is realized
Let yourself feel the pride but
Always stay humble and kind”

And

Don’t hold a grudge or a chip and here’s why
Bitterness keeps you from flying
Always stay humble and kind.

Mad and much respect for our parents & cheers to staying humble and Kind.

XOXO!

 

 

THANK YOU.

Thank you..jpgHe’s done so much for me; I cannot tell it all eh.

Words that got tears forming around my eyes but what actually got the tears flowing down my cheeks was the words that followed after.

What shall I render to Jehovah? For he has done so very much for me, eh

Nara ekele mo which translates to take my thanksgiving, beautiful lyrics for the song titled Nara by Tim Godfrey Ft. Travis Greene. This is a song that for the past few weeks has been trending but I was not keen on listening to it until yester night. I had seen a few of my friends share it on their social media pages, but I never took time to listen to it. And I believe there was a reason for it.

Fast forward to 1st October 2018, around 11 in the PM.

A good friend, who we somehow share love for cars and night drives invited me for an evening drive. The destination was unknown but my ignorance for not knowing the changes that are happening in our city was the north star for determining our route.

“There is this song that I have been looped on and its sort of my fave at the moment, can we play it?” my friend asked few minutes into our drive.

“Sure!” I swiftly and happily responded. I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed because his taste for music is quiet a thing. Normally ,I would say it’s the bomb dot com.

The song started playing, he turned the volume up and in less than a minute, I was sold.

I liked the instrumental arrangement, voice synchronization between the lead artists and the back-up singers, how simple and straight the song’s message was…. Let me leave it at that because I am not a music producer and wouldn’t want to cause havoc with my song analysis.

Our drive was a calm one. The drive speed was reasonable, though I thought it was gonna be a fast & furious one because anyone who knows me well will tell you how speed takes me to a happy place. Being a Monday there were few cars on the roads. It was a good drive. Actually it was a very good drive.

I enjoyed the drive for sure but what I was and am still extremely grateful for is this particular song which I got a chance to listen to during the drive.

It not only got me emotional but made me realize that, I have so much to be grateful for in the context of reviewing the past 150 days of my life. There are lots of miracles in my life that make me wanna sing this song every minute and mean it from the core of my heart and soul. I can’t write a list all the things God has done for me that I am grateful for, but through this post, I just wanted to tell God that I am grateful for all that he has done. Because even if I had ten thousand tongues, it still won’t be enough God to tell it all.

There are lots of miracles everywhere I go and I have to be grateful to Him. Yesterday I had an intimate moment that words can’t express. I got in touch with that higher force that wants me to succeed, to do good. That higher force that places me at the right place, at the right time and empowers me to use the human creativity endowed upon me to help others and change the world for the better.

And when I got back home and the watchman smiled through his sleepless eyes~ get the joke. Felt the cool breeze flowing on my face during my morning run. SmelT and tasted my coffee in the morning. I was happy to remember that the world is for sure a miracle and a force greater than myself and my ego is always at work and always available.

I call it God.

Thank you God.