Friday, November 21, 2008

For the Love of Music!

I like what I've seen on some folks blogs, you know, a weekly, recurring "event" like "Lurker Thursday" over at Diary of an Anxious Black Woman and "Monday's Meal" over at My Little Slice of Pie or "Wordless Wednesday" at various blogs I've run into.

Well, through the miracle of YouTube, I've been able to find some fantastic music. I've grown to enjoy many different kinds of music and I want to share with anyone who might stumble upon my blog. I'm going to start out with Igbo music because I think that has been the greatest thing I've found on YouTube. I'm not sure what day this "musical event" will occur but it seems that since I finally got around to it on Friday, I'll stick with that. Now to think of a clever name.

So here it is, the first installment of [insert clever name here]: "Agam Adi Ndu" by Paul Nwokocha


I love this song. Calming. Peaceful. And so powerful. It basically says that "human beings predict or say all these negative things about me and what will become of me but it is only what God says that is true--what God says I will be, is what I will be."

I'm becoming more and more motivated to reconnect my children to my family back home in Nigeria. It's not in the budget or in any way convenient but . . . songs like this make me feel nostalgic and remind me how important it is to go back to the root.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I've Been Tagged!

So I've been blogging for a little while now and I never really imagined I would enjoy it so much. What I am really surprised about is how in starting my own blog, I found so many other fantastic blogs. One such fantastic blog is The Glamazon Chronicles by OG. OG is the person who "tagged" me and I'm so tickled. So I'm taking out time this morning to do my "Tagged Duty". I've been thinking about it so here goes . . .
First the Rules:













Seven Random or Weird Facts
1. Even though I'm a very picky eater, I enjoy eating strange combinations of food. For example, cheese and jelly, pickles and fish sticks, yogurt and peanuts. My husband and friends joke that I eat like a pregnant person even when I'm not pregnant. Also random, I have never eaten lobster or clams or squid. And I never want to.

2. I scored a perfect score of the verbal section of my SAT and on the SATII writing exam and was 20 points away from scoring a perfect score on the SATII American History. In high school, I took three AP courses and scored a perfect score on 2 out of the three. I can't believe how important my scores were to me when I was younger and how inconsequential they are not to my life. They mean nothing now and honestly, I wish I had enjoyed school more instead of working so hard to be "perfect". I really missed out on my teen years!!

3. On each hand, I have the "nub" of what would have been an extra finger. The one on my left hand is larger than the one on my right. As a baby, the doctor tied off the extra fingers (no bone or nerves or anything) and it fell off. But the "nub" is still there. I've always been self-conscious/embarrassed/ashamed of it. In school when we were asked to hold hands, kids gave me such a hard time about the nub and often would refuse to hold my left hand. The hubby melted my heart when we were dating/getting serious by kissing the nub.

4. I wear glasses. Thick. Super Duper Thick. I cannot see a thing without my glasses and the first thing I do in the morning is feel around for them. I worry that if there's a situation and my glasses get broken or knocked off, I'm in a real pickle!! I also have astigmatism some buying contacts is an (expensive) royal PITA.

5. I wanted to be an opera singer when I grew up. I listened obsessively to Kathleen Battle and other Black opera singers and I knew that's what I wanted to do. I practiced and practiced and practiced (much to my mother's annoyance). In high school, one racist teacher "demanded" to know where I learned to sing opera, saying that "hood girls" don't know anything about classical music.

6. I also wanted to be a doctor and was well on my way. I started college in a combined B.S./M.D. program commuting from home. I did horribly and left the program in hopes of becoming a doctor the traditional way. After an all day chemistry lab where by 9:00PM I had no results, I finally decided that the sciences were not for me and found my way to the English department. I graduated with a degree in English lit and a minor in Black studies and I never looked back.

7. I hope to retire to Ghana after I become famously rich here in the United States. I visited for the first time last summer and fell in love. Oh, the two-week trip wasn't easy. I had a 2 year old, was 3 months pregnant, got woefully sick with stomach virus after eating undercooked eggs accidentally but it was fabulous and beautiful and heartbreaking all at the same time. Interestingly enough, I did not get on the computer or check my e-mail for the whole two weeks. It was a great detox and I hope to have the discipline to do another two-week detox right here in the states.

Bonus Random Fact
My first name has 11 letters in it.
My middle name has 12 letters in it.
My maiden last name has 7 letters in it
My married last name has 9 letters in it.
My last name is hyphenated. So my whole name has a total of 39 letters in it.
(As a 4 year old, learning to write my name was, I was convinced, slow, painful torture!)
---------------------------------------
Now for the folks I'm tagging!
1. Nya over at 80sBaby70ssoul
2. Amoi over at I am the sum of my parts
3. Just me at My Little Slice of Pie
4. Anaylli at Nyam: Adventures in Cooking and Eating
5. Kellybelle at Ephphatha
Hmmm . . . I need two more but I don't have two more. The two more would have probably been OG (but she tagged me and if you're reading this, it was great to read your 7 random things . . . LoL!) and Black Girl in Maine.
Anyway, tagged folks, I hope you'll do it!! :)



Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Not So Hidden Racism

Okay, so every Black person I know has a story of how they've felt racism--overt and covert. I always find it interesting the times/places where racism rears it's ugly head.

Tuesdays I take my boys to the local library. They play, look at books and have storytime while I collect the books needed for the week's lesson. Well, today upon our arrival, I noticed an older White lady kind of just sitting there waiting. She soon started to pass out papers. When I looked at mine, it was basically a breakdown of healthy eating, you know, according to the food guide pyramid. Me, being as well-versed in nutrition as I am, was like, okay, cool, whatever, I know all this.

So the kids are playing and making all their noise and enjoying themselves and she starts in on talking to "the mothers". Now, I smirked because she didn't even bother to find out if we were actually the mothers. Brown women. Brown babies. Ass-umption. Most of the ladies there are actually the caretakers/babysitters. Well, she continues on addressing us as "mothers". What annoyed me first and foremost was that Homegirl never introduced herself. Like, who the heck are you anyway and what qualifies you to be "educating" us? She never did say who she was and where she came from. She just started in on lecturing us. She never found out what we did know and what we didn't know. Just started to let us know that indeed, McDonald's is crap food and you shouldn't be feeding it to your kids. Well, as time went on, the lecture rolled around to whole grains. I thought I'd give Grandma a run for her money so when she said, "Now do any of you mothers know about the kinds of whole grains?" I said, "Sure, there's millet, amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa, oats, whole wheat groats, and rice." She genuinely looked stunned and retorted, "What kind of rice?" I said, "Well, brown rice of course." She turns to "the mothers" and says, "Yes, brown rice for your brown babies!" Wtf??

Well, the lecture hobbled along that way. She asked where you can get things like whole grains and high fructose corn syrup free foods "around here". And I said, "you can't get it around here . . . you drive 5 mins to Super Stop and Shop and you might be able to get a couple of good things; you drive 20 mins and go to Trader Joes, Mrs. Greens or Whole PaycheckFoods." She looked at us so pityingly I almost wanted to say, "Don't worry Grandma, most of us poor Black folks own vehicles and drive." I guess because these "mothers" were there at the library at that time, they couldn't be gainfully employed or otherwise educated. The whole thing was in sharp contrast to another White woman who came to give us a presentation on lead poisoning. She respected us. Engaged us. Introduced herself for goodness sake. We left feeling positive and having received some useful information.

I did speak to her after the session though. In a "Black Ambassador" kind of way. You know like, "Well, actually we've learned a lot about this stuff because we've had folks come before" and "yeah, I've always been interested in health especially since I was a vegetarian for a number of years" and "yeah, I've considered returning to school to earn my Ph.d in nutritional anthropology" and "yeah, you know my mother is actually a Columbia university educated nutritionist" and "Oh and yeah, I have a master's degree in childhood education and cook all our food from scratch . . . " The old biddy couldn't process all that--like, "You? A nigger? Wow."

As I watched this older woman today functioning under all these assumption about us as Black women, I just felt the enormity of what the daily struggle for people of color is in this country. This woman was ostensibly there to give out good information. I know she thought she was doing good. But the motivation behind her actions was all wrong. And because it was wrong, based in racism, she wasn't able to do an effective job. I think if nothing else, it crystallized what the problem with racism is--it makes building bridges, connecting with other humans based on our humanity virtually impossible. If we cannot connect, if we cannot build bridges, we cannot collectively grow and evolve.

Look, when Old Girl said that my kids "look healthy", I was hoping she wouldn't touch them. I would seriously have smacked her hand away or worse. It felt like another Color Purple moment (my life, it seems, is filled with Color Purple moments--LoL):
Mayor's Wife: Your kids are so nice and clean. Do you want to be my housekeeper?
Sophia: Hell no.
Mayor's Wife: What did you say?
Sophia: I said, Hell no.

Well, let's just be grateful she didn't touch them. My inner South Bronx girl might have made an appearance. :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Vision Boards and Other Meditation Tools

I want to focus on putting up a vision board in the space where I do my 5.5.5. I already did a vision statement using powerpoint but I want something tangible that I can see without opening up a program. I'd also like to make a Chakra poster that helps me organize the functions of each chakra, its strengths/weaknesses, and corresponding affirmations/meditations. I'm not sure how long it will take me. I'm pretty sure working on it will be next to impossible so long as "put everything in my mouth" Z2 is on the loose. So it might have to be an early morning project. I will need poster paper/oaktag, markers and pictures from magazines.

I'm looking online to get ideas about how to do each project. Can't wait to have it done and post pictures.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Keeping it Light Online

I have a vice . . . Okay we all do but I feel mine is silly and due to a lack of discipline. It is getting too emotionally invested in online conversations (message boards and blogs). The conversations sometimes get a little too real in my mind. I think about the conversation constantly wondering did I make my point. I get offended when folks say offensive things. And I forget that these "online people" don't know me and I don't know them. I forget that "online people" say and do a lot of things that may not necessarily be true. You can create a whole online personality if you so choose, say you are who you are not, make up a whole history for yourself, offer advice and tips based on stuff you made up or things you found on the internet and not really things you've experienced and gone through. Why then do I find myself from time to time emotionally invested in trying to bring my point across to "online people". It's silly. I feel silly. I know it's partially because most of my days are spent talking to a three year old and a 10 month old--that I crave the adult interaction and intellectual stimulation. The other reason is because clicking around reading threads/blogs is one of the few activities that I can do while nursing or holding a child (I now can type pretty darn fast with one hand). Like many things in my life, though, I have to remind myself that in due time, in due time, I'll get that aspect of my life back. Online "intellectual exercises" without the benefit of really knowing the participants, seeing their facial expressions and body language leaves much to be desired.

I was involved in a conversation for almost four days that I have had to mentally and spiritually purge from. It took an ugly turn (where I felt that I was essentially called "the enemy" in a "spiritual battle") for basically presenting an unpopular viewpoint. So I unsubscribed this morning, deleted all the e-mails, every physical trace of the conversation. And this post is my final effort to purge and recommit to the discipline of keeping it light online. If a post starts out with, "I know this will ruffle feathers", stay far, far away especially as soon as you realize that anything other than agreeing with the main point is not truly what is being sought for; when the poster is basically looking for folks to sign on. I realize that looking for support only is indeed a valid reason to blog/post.

Online is to enjoy. To learn. To connect. Not to battle or feel attacked or be defensive or to feel judged.

For me, blogging and participating in online forums is supposed to be fun and enlightening. Supportive at times. Light. I know there's work to be done in real life and sometimes engaging in "deep" conversation online is a way to avoid real work. I know that my real life is serious enough where my online life really shouldn't be.

Every time this recent "online incident" comes to my mind, I recognize it and purge it with one huge breath out. I'm getting rid of this vice today.

Getting your side hustle on . . .

I'm constantly trying to find ways to augment our household income that don't take too much time away from my babies. I hate feeling like I'm neglecting them just to make a couple of bucks. I also need time at some point in the day to decompress so I know I don't want to do any work that eats away at what little free time I have.

One way of making extra that I find extremely compatible with being a stay-at-home mom is my baking. Now, I made a go of the home baking business way before Z2 was born with meager results. I'm encouraged now to keep at it especially since recently I've received a number of orders. It's the best way to make money for me because I enjoy it and because I can do it while fully engaged with my babies.

Z2 is young right now and requires a lot of me but I have some ideas about making Chi's Cakes and Cookies a profitable enterprise while I stay at home. Z2 will be one in December and I know that once children hit that one year mark (closer to 15 months), you as a mother can do so much more. And so I'm looking forward to picking up more business. I made the investment in equipment a while ago so I'm taking time now to plan, plan, plan to see if I could bring in some extra. Any extra helps. And if that extra doesn't cause the household complete upheaval (which in that case I might as well go back to teaching), I'm all for it.

I just wonder what angle to push Vegan? Healthier? Homemade? All of the above? None of the above? To label something as "vegan" and "healthier" sometimes gives people the idea that it's just nasty. LoL. Homemade . . . aren't people afraid of things made at home? Ahhh . . . I understand why marketing is so crucial. :)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Cleva

Erykah Badu dropped her album Mama's Gun back in 2000. My favorite song on the album is called "Cleva".

Now I like many other women, and women of color in particular, have struggled with self-esteem. A particularly traumatic fifth grade experience which involved being called ugly on a daily basis coupled with the fact that no one at home reinforced or even told me that I was beautiful (often implying that my sister was the pretty, outgoing one and I was the smart, quiet one), and a mother who probably struggles with her own self-esteem issues, left my self-esteem in the gutter. At one point, I would look at every other girl in the street and just know they were more beautiful than me. I just knew when walking with friends that guys were checking them out and not me--unless they were looking at my breasts or my booty. I would avoid mirrors afraid and ashamed to catch a glimpse of myself. My behavior also corresponded with how I felt about myself--including wearing provocative clothing and a "take what you can get" and "put up with a whole lot of shit to keep him" mentality with men.

Slowly but surely, I've been working on my healing and it has been a long haul, let me tell you. It is not easy to reverse years of negative thinking. But it's possible. And it's freeing. And I'm so grateful I've been able to do it. Now, there are times that I slip back a bit. Like when at 10 months postpartum, still none of my pre-pregnancy clothes fit. Like when I realized my locks were thinning again and I would have to cut all my hair off. I know it's harder to look feminine and chic with short hair and for a while there I was whining about looking like a guy. But yesterday, the hubby cut my hair into a dark caesar and gave me a rounded hairline. I expected to look in the mirror and be upset but the opposite happened: I love it. It looks very very feminine and classy. I even had a vision of myself, a full-professor, teaching, dressed to the nines, flawless rocking this style. So while I would love long hair, I am coming to embrace the short hair and being "all right with me" in every way. Yes, there are things I'd love to improve like my skin and losing weight and a better wardrobe but I have never been more sure that I am beautiful and good--and not in some cheesy, "fake it till you make it" way. And that feels good. So yes, as I save up the money to improve things about myself (encouraged in part by a blog by Khadija at Muslim Bushido), it's not like how it used to be, where the exterior things pumped me up. I'm pumped up from the inside and just want to make it easier for others to see just how beautiful I am. See, I was raised to think saying good things about yourself was vain and conceited (and even typing this I feel chided in a way but whatever). This world says awful things about me every day. I refute and challenge those things with right thinking and an assurance that, I'm "all right with me".

Oh, "Cleva" resonates with me so much I could have written it myself. My hair. My "ninnys". My dress. The "little pot in my belly". But I can sing the hook to Ms. Badu's song Cleva without an eyeroll or any twinge of doubt now. I couldn't do that 8 years ago when the song came out. Oh, I sing it loud and strong too, because if you didn't know, I can "sang" . . . .lol, no shame in telling the truth about that either. :)



This is how I look without makeup
And with no bra my ninny's sag down low
My hair ain't never hung down to my shoulders
And it might not grow
Ya' never know

But I'm clever when I bust a rhyme
I'm cleva always on ya' mind
She's cleva and I really wanna grow
But why come you're the last to know?

I got a little pot in my belly
So now a days my figure ain't so fly
My dress ain't cost nothin' but seven dollars
But I made it fly
And I'll tell ya why

But I'm clever when I bust a rhyme
I'm cleva always on ya' mind
She's cleva and I really wanna grow
But why come I'm the last to know?

Alright, alright, alright
Alright, alright, alright
Alright, alright, alright
Alright, alright, alright yeah

Alright with me
Said that I'm alright with me
Said that I'm alright with me
Said that I'm alright with me
Said that I'm alright with me
Said that I'm alright with me
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