“There is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time”
– Desmond Mpilo Tutu
Good bye 2022.
It’s been a year for the books and boy oh boy… have I learned and grown exponentially. If I were to give this year a rating it would be a 6.0 out of 10 and if I am going to choose honesty, the real rating is probably closer to a solid 5.0
I opted to throw in an extra point for the sake of practicing gratitude.
Truth is, many things sucked and sucked really badly about 2022, but the lessons gained are invaluable.
As I sit and reflect on another expired year and all the memories it has left behind and what is ahead of me, I am left to wonder… where do I begin? What am I setting out to achieve and how do I intend on doing it?
Now is a good time to become overwhelmed and inundated by the pressures of the “new ambitions”.
Desmond Tutu once wisely said, “there is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.” I deduct that Desmond used the metaphor of an elephant to mean anything grand that we are faced with or choose to tackle, whether it be a challenge, a goal, or anything that will require an extended period of time and effort to be completed, dealt with, or achieved.
Of all the valuable lessons I’ve learned in 2022 , three of the standouts are:
Be mindful and
If it adds no value to my life, be ok with saying goodbye to it
I received the advice to be present when I was too overwhelmed by a past I could not change, to be mindful when I only wanted to see situations through the lens of my own worldview and limited perspective, and removing invaluables from my life as I’ve come to realize that anything that does not enhance my space or help me become a better version of myself only serves as clutter whether it be thoughts, things, or sadly even people. This is not to say we only keep people around who are doing things for us. But the real question is, do these people mean you well?
A clutter free life has proven to be a happier and more meaningful one.
I typically try to come up with a word of the year but I’ve concluded a more fitting question I will ask throughout 2023 is…”Does it add value to my life?”
A Prayer for 2023:
Creator of this universe, God I thank you for another year, a year many did not live long enough to see.
One thing I know is that I do not know what the future holds for me but because I know that you do, I put my entire trust in your guidance in the steps I should take no matter what comes my way.
All my dreams, aspirations and goals I commit to you asking for your help to bring them to fruition for I know that I need to take the steps to get there and not just sit and expect you to do for me what you’ve enabled me to do on my own.
Remind me of the lessons of 2022, to be more present, mindful, and intentional about who and what I invest my time and energy in or allow to take up space in my life and lead me to the resources that will help me in those areas.
Help me with discipline and perseverance and remind me that you’ve made me a creative being to innovate and to do my part in creating order out of disorder in this world as you have done when you created an entire universe out of chaos.
Help me with discernment and wisdom this year and balance in who I am and in all I do.
Remind me that when my world seems to be falling apart, to turn to you, the creator of the world.
God I thank you for all the things and people you have placed in my life who mean me well, both the ones I’ve known for a while and the ones I’ve recently met or have not met as yet. Please protect and bless them.
Help me to always see the opportunity to be a blessing to someone and to remember that it is more blessed to give than it is to receive.
I claim a year with only your best for me and help me to know what that looks like. Thank you for being so faithful to me no matter how many times I’ve been a disappointment and help me to remember your mercies are new each morning.
You deserve all the praise, all the honor and all the glory. In your mostly Holy name I pray, amen.
Have a happy new year all! All the best for 2023! Whatever you set out to achieve this year, do so with Tutu’s advise in mind… one bite at a time.
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“Every season is one of becoming, but not always one of blooming. Be gracious with your ever-evolving self.” — B. Oakman
Summer officially began this past Tuesday, June 21, 2022. If you ask me, summer started at least three months ago, but I live in Florida, so that should explain that. Weather-wise, it is my least favorite time of year. Why? For obvious reasons. Have you stepped outside lately?
The sun beats down during the day like an undefeated champion in a boxing ring. The humidity at night; ungodly. My curls absolutely hate this weather. Not to mention me trying to wear a moisturizer that has some amount of sunscreen in it. A sight to see.
The hellish season of summer is marked by the highest temperatures of the year which is the perfect environment for thunderstorms to form that brings along with them doses and doses of fatal lightning strikes. This alone inflates my anxiety whenever I’m outside trying to make it safely to my car under an overcast sky.
With the heat being the highest during this time of year, so is the misery of any amounts of time spent anywhere with no air-conditioning. Wouldn’t it be immensely convenient to circumvent the extreme heat of the summer by having a portable ac unit to walk around with at all times? Or to be able to have a remote control to turn down the temperature of the sun?
Let’s just say, I complain a lot during the summer. And for all of you with leather seats, I pray away those third degree burns awaiting you after you sit in that car that has sat in the sun for ANY period of time.
Though this blog post is not about how to survive the summer, I’d like to provide some helpful tips when outside temperatures are exaggerated enough to cause heat advisories: stay cool, stay hydrated, and stay informed.
The book of Ecclesiastes, chapter 3, (excerpt below), presents the theme “a time for everything“. The literal and figurative representations the text provides is a list of seasons we; as human beings; may face at some point on our journey in this thing called life:
A Time for Everything
1 For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
2 A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
3 A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
4 A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
5 A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
6 A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
7 A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
8 A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.
There are 28 different seasons mentioned. All of which does not appear to last forever but has a recurring opportunity.
As for me, life has served me up at least four of those seasons so far this year, and while some of them bring me an immense amount of joy, others certainly did not. “Character building moments” is what a good friend of mine described them to be.
The summer season has consistent harsh and somewhat predictable weather patterns; blue sunny sky by morning followed by extremely hot days along with afternoon storms. If I choose to set aside my complains about the heat, the heavy blanket of humidity and frightening afternoon thunderstorms, and navigate those nuisances by making small adjustments like staying hydrated, using the sunshade in my car to keep the internal temperature reduced,
walking with an umbrella or a raincoat and wearing rain boots to prevent my feet from getting soaked or just as simple as running errands earlier in the day to avoid getting caught in torrential afternoon downpours while embracing the benefit the weather has on vegetation, (and maybe my vitamin D level), then maybe, just maybe, I would have much more to be grateful for and less to complain about.
How To Handle Difficult & Unfavorable Seasons
A ‘difficult season’ may be subjective. What may be a tough time for me could easily be smooth sailing for you, and vice versa. This is where sympathy and empathy for the circumstances of others become important.
If I simply applied the facts presented by the general nature of the summer season’s influence on vegetation, it would only make sense to conclude that when navigating a challenging season of life, it is critical to not focus wholly on the discomfort of the season. Yes, the heat & mucky humidity of the summer can be unbearable, and possibly so are the long drawn out sunny days; but choosing to redirect the mindset that the kind of growth the climate of this season is able to nurture and provide makes it one to appreciate.
Sure easier said than done, but not an impossible mindset to acquire. It is simple to focus on the discomfort and misery of any given moment, but if we tried to understand the potential positive climate conditions within it, would that make it easier to endure?
So what season are you in right now? Is it a season of singleness? Could a love for self grow out of the climate of this season? Is it grief? Could you learn to appreciate every moment with loved ones more? Is it illness? Could you learn to nurture, understand, and appreciate good health? Or is it a season of happiness and abundance? Could you learn how to extend a hand to others who may be unhappy or lacking?
Do you believe there’s any good that lies dormant in your current unfavorable season? Can you dig deep enough to discover the positive change(s) that could arise within you at the end of it’s duration?
Seasons are great when things are tranquil, serene, and effortless, but if you understand how a car is able to move from point A to point B, then embracing the bumps and friction involved in the process may make your journey – though hard – a little easier and the load a lot lighter.
I cannot control the summertime thunderstorm patterns, but I can choose to utilize the tools to navigate how I get through the weather conditions better and to remember that the temperature and other conditions of the season are the perfect conditions for many plants to flourish. Most of which we need to survive.
With that in mind and my current season at hand, the question I ask myself is; what things are needed to grow and develop within me that only this season can aid in?
I believe the best season for the growth you need right now, is the one you are currently in.
Just like the marked varied importance of all seasons of the year, so too are the seasons of your life. I implore you to zone in on the areas that need the challenging conditions to cultivate and grow from them and seek further guidance if you are struggling to discover them.
GOAL: To take full advantage of the season you are in.
Until next time friend, take care and know that you are always in my thoughts and prayers.
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Let’s be honest – if you’re a Christian, you may have noticed that talking about your faith and God in this post-modern era may have earned you the crazy eyes from onlookers. Even worse than disapproving stares are the death sentences many Christian evangelizers receive around the world. Why is talking about faith so ‘cringy’ or threatening for that matter?
It may be seen as an infringement on the beliefs of others primarily because of our melting pot society of many different races, nationalities and a diverse upbringing and life experiences that carries with them many unique beliefs and values.
Apart from that, many Christians wrestle with the new influences presented by the increase in technological advances which heavily aides in a greater distribution of distorting and unsolicited worldviews.
This kind of hinderance, amongst the many others, causes many believers to find shelter in silence. While many of the faith grow mute, the media plunges forward in it’s pursuit to publish distasteful content for the public to absorb because, well, the number of views and public approvals have become the driving forces to what becomes “viral” and “acceptable” even when the information is far from the truth or damaging.
Some unbelievers are at odds with the faith because, as I’ve heard time after time, Christian teachings appear to be “illogical”. If human logic and reasoning was so great, why then are there so many ethical issues in our world today? Would it then be safe to say human logic is limited?
I’ve never worked in ministry nor am I surrounded by all like-minded individuals every single day, which to be clear, is not in and of itself a bad thing – but when the discussions get intense, it becomes hard not to pull from the knowledge of my Christian worldview. It guides me in all I do and when I fall short of the guidance that had been provided, I run right back to it for correction and redirection.
But then, the moment I reach for my personal faith beliefs, which I believe has many of the solutions for our problems today, the conversations eventually die or never last much longer and the awkward silence soon invades the room.
And so, with every moment that presents itself to talk about my faith, I am left to wonder, “am I going to offend someone with my God-talk today? or “will they think I am crazy?” I’ve hesitated even offering prayer. Why? Because to some of my peers, there’s no one to pray to. “If God is real why is all of this happening?” I get this question all the time and I honestly wish I had the right answer ready. I’ve learned from many real life situations that we do not need all the answers to take the first step towards the unknown, so why should it be any different with the Christian faith?
So, how exactly do we go about telling our “non-religious” friends and family about our own beliefs and experiences of God? Why do we need to do it and what exactly should we really say? How can we prove that what we are saying is even true and if we can, how can we relay it effectively to others? Is there anything that could hinder the process and how do we avoid those hinderances?
As I’ve mentioned, we do not need to have all the answers and we probably never will. A Christian belief will not satisfy the desire for human logic. It is beyond what we will ever be able to make sense of in this life. It does the complete opposite of societal norms which is why it is so necessary to dive into. New actions means new results.
The Beginning Of My Christian Walk
I’ve spent many years learning of God through the experiences of others. My grandmother introduced me to church at the very tender age of 3; if my memory serves me correct; and it could be argued that if I was born in a different part of the world, I would hold firmly the values of a different religion.
But what good are speculations?
Knowing what I know about the teachings in the bible, I am grateful this faith chose me.
Let me be real with you, I’ve had moments of doubts that I don’t even know if I believe in what I say I believe in. Many people of faith may have experienced this at some point in their journey. The mass media, (mainly social media) is notoriously known for information and worldview overload. It takes me 3-5 business days (a running joke I have with some friends) to catch up and all the videos and links I receive. If I’m are not careful, the opinions presented in these posts soon permeates into my daily routine and unknowingly could begin to shape the way I behave.
I did life on my own terms for many years and learned hard and fast that I could not rely on my own human strength and reasoning. I made many disastrous mistakes and yes, it is indeed true that experiences can be our greatest teacher, but had I have my own personal relationship with God and had spent time in the profound teachings of scripture, I could have avoided many of the traumatic situations I’ve had to live through.
Creation – The book of Genesis provides an account of the events of creation. It is here that God’s authority is established (source). God created the world and ultimately created us in his image. God placed man in the garden of Eden to be good stewards of what He created.
Sin – Sin entered the world (again in the book of Genesis) through the disobedience of Adam. Sin is a result of human rebellion against God. The extent of sin goes far and wide (universal). As a result, God sent His only son, Jesus, (John 3:26) to sacrifice His life in order to redeem human relationship with God. A fallen world is evident in many ways. Have you seen the news lately?
Salvation (Newness of Life) – Christians believe that through Jesus’ sacrifice, we have been granted a renewed relationship with God but to experience the fullness, we must receive this gift. (Romans 10:9-10)
Good News(Proclamation) – through Jesus’ ascension, we are promised the gift of the holy spirit who is our guide to living in this broken world and when that time comes to an end, to spend eternity in God’s kingdom. (Mark 16:15 & Romans 1:16)
Witness(Sharing through communication) – this is why you are reading this blog today or have even experienced someone in the streets sharing how God revealed Himself to them. Had I never been exposed to the faith or someone making it a determinant to communicate what they belief, I would have been living life hopelessly.
Applying What We Believe
Learning what the bible tells us is possibly the easiest part of the Christian faith. Anyone can do that. To bring this knowledge to full potential however, we must apply what we have read. How do we go about doing this?
Allowing ourselves to experience God mainly through His word. We learn the nature of the God of Christianity through careful study of the scriptures. I’ve noticed a difference with how I handle my day when I have not spent time in the word as opposed to when I do.
Through worship – Attending church services gives us an opportunity to gather together with raised hands and open hearts to worship the creator of the universe, but there are many other ways we can worship God.
Through serving – The foundation of Jesus’s mission was to serve us and through his example we too can learn how to serve others.
How Do We Get To Know God?
All around us are revelations of God. Christianity is about walking by faith and not just by what we can see (2 Corinthians 5:7). I know, telling you what I know about the Christian faith may not be appealing. “How can you prove any of this?” is a common question I get. Truth is, I cant always prove the information presented in the history books are presenting me with accurate information, but truth has a way of revealing itself. God is the author of truth. Scripture was written by men, but inspired by God. I know, hard to believe and possibly why many are skeptical about the information presented, but in taking some time to get acquainted with the bible, I’ve proven that it is indeed inspired by God. A college professor I had many years ago said that the bible is the only book that people question and has doubts about. If a best-seller book is advertised with raving reviews, the chances of it being purchased is high without any questions.
God created everything, including the universe. For us to understand the universe, we have to study it. As a result we have science and science, as I’ve heard some time ago, is really God’s way of giving us an idea of how He did it.
The best way to get to know God and to communicate Him to others, begins in scripture and with prayer. Effective communication is a two-way process. If we never tap into the spiritual aspect of our being and connect with a source greater than ourselves, How will we ever know what He is trying to say to us?
God Communicates Through…
Nature – Is there anything about nature that was known to mankind without careful study? I’m not an expert on the details of nature, but take a moment to look outside and see the wonders of God’s creation.
The written word, The Bible – The greatest source of communication authority is through the scriptures. But to understand it, we need the divine help God sent us when Jesus ascended.
Why People Don’t Experience God
Like any thriving relationship, there needs to be communication. Effective communication involves speaking or relaying the message as well as listening to the respnse. Have you tried whispering a message to someone who was miles away? How effective was that? Did they need to come closer to hear? Isn’t this possibly the same with the God of the universe?
How Should Christians Communicate God?
How to overcome the noise of fear, doubt, and confusion can be a tough one to do. We are called to evangelize and share the goodness of God. We can share of God through our actions, our own experiences of God, through what we do and in how careful we are with what we say.
Danny Gokey has a really neat song on communicating faith. If you are an unbeliever and you’ve made it this far in this continually developing blog, I pray you experience a God who desires to communicate with you. For my likeminded readers, share your faith communication story. What do you believe and how do you relay your beliefs. What can you add that will edify others?
“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forward”
– Soren Kierkegaard
Happy new year friends! We made it to 2022 or as some would call it; 2020 too. I’d like to think this year will be different regardless of how similar it may have started to past years. We’re about two weeks in with a short 50 more to go. How has it been for you so far?
I still can’t believe this year marks two years since we’ve been living in a global pandemic and from the looks of it, it is not letting up anytime soon.
As I reflected on what 2021 was like for me (and even prior years), I vividly remember excessively stocking up on paper products, bottled water and canned foods. Fears of running out of essentials were at an all-time high. This was possibly a new experience for the majority of us.
Once the shelves grew bare and became decorated with the dreaded “only one per customer” sign, I began to care less and less about my personal brand preferences and arguably, slightly hoarded enough of whatever was available.
No one wants to find themselves toilette paperless in the middle of a bathroom visit; at least not me.
This desperation and depravity made me think of times when I had uninhibited access to purchasing as much or as little grocery essentials without having to worry if I was ever going to run out and not have access to these necessities when I needed them.
They say “the cow never misses it’s tail until he loses it” and I dare say many of us probably understand that saying without needing any explanation of it.
Regardless of the lack of supplies on those barren grocery isle shelves, one thing that I did notice was that no matter how they dwindled in numbers, there was always more eventually. I am beyond grateful for all those stockers who worked diligently day and night to ensure consumers, like myself, had access to groceries.
I know for many, reflecting on all that transpired during the initial and ongoing phase of the pandemic may be tough to do. Maybe goals were not met and were instead replaced with set backs. For some, it may have been the loss of income, good health, hope, property, relationships or the loss of loved ones.
My heart and prayer goes out to anyone who has been hurting greatly during these unprecedented times. Regardless of how hopeless your circumstance may seem to you, please know that weeping truly only does endure for a night. As long as you are breathing, there’s more to your story.
I know I’ve spent quite some time reflecting on pandemic woes, but if I am being completely honest, that is only a small part of the fraction of the things I’ve sat and pondered on over the past years.
I think of the people who are no longer on my journey, the harsh realizations I’ve faced with some of them, the life lessons I’ve acquired through making mindless decisions, the person I used to be and who I am today, the excessive amounts of money I’ve spent at the grocery store, how horrible I was (and slightly still am) at sticking to my budget, the habits I’ve tried to break that has won the battle over my own mental strength, and the personal and spiritual growth that came from it all.
No matter the unfavorable past mistakes, I’m grateful for all of it and for the opportunity to see a brand new year that was never promised. While I welcome you dear 2022, I’d like you to slow down for a quick second to take a moment to reflect on a few things I need to zone in on from 2021.
You’ve probably started off the year with a list of resolutions and goals that you have every intention of achieving for yourself and possibly for your family. It is nice to set new goals, to dream new dreams, and to have new visions.
NEW is exciting.
Whether it is to finally start exercising, eating healthy, reading more, saving more, paying off that nagging debt or at least knock out a good chunk of it, starting your own business, writing your first book, discovering your God given purpose, and if you’re like me, you’ll want to cut back on groceries (the inflation that is upon us is no joke).
There’s something about new beginnings that gets me inspired and pumped and most importantly, hopeful. Many times, unfortunately, those goals that were decided upon are seldom achieved. The spike in “new year, new me” adrenaline seems to taper off and by the time it gets to March (or even as early as the end of January), the urge to pursue those goals is long gone.
Think of all those resolutions you’ve set last year. How many of them have come to fruition? How many didn’t? Why not?
We want to achieve the goal but are we disciplined enough to get there? Too often also are we inclined to hastily throw out and try to forget the old year. Don’t underestimate those mistakes made in 2021 my friends! Those hurdles you’ve had to jump over could possibly be the golden tickets of insight for growth and better choices in 2022.
Here’s why I say that.
Mistakes, in my humble opinion, means you’ve stepped out of your comfort zone and tried something new. That’s commendable. That is proof that you’ve had more faith than fear. Comfort is nice, but we know there’s no growth in comfort zones.
In the midst of your mistakes, you may have made very little progress, none at all, or even have taken a few steps back. That’s ok. What matters most is that now you know what does not work and you aren’t willing to give up. That in and of itself is an accomplishment. Why? Because now you have knowledge about something that someone who never tried does not. You can tell others what worked and what didn’t.
While driving, I use my rearview mirror a plethora of times. If you own and/or operate a motor vehicle, you’ll know where to locate your rearview mirror and when to use it. Incase you aren’t familiar, here’s the Importance of a rearview mirror:
“Your car’s rear-view mirror serves a multitude of purposes that help keep you safe as a driver. The rear-view mirror promotes an alert driving experience by allowing you to see behind your vehicle without turning your head. By checking the rear-view mirror, you can monitor traffic and prepare for any potential dangers. It’s also helpful with parking as it gives a clear line of sight to the sides and rear of the vehicle. The rear-view mirror is a great asset when backing into a parking space, parallel parking, and exiting a parking space.“
“Most driving instructors suggest checking your mirrors every five to eight seconds with a glance. A glance does not mean studying the mirrors, but more along the lines of a quick check. It’s important not to stare off into your rear-view mirror as you can miss hazards in front of you. Checking your mirrors frequently gives you an adequate mental map of what’s happening on the road. From moments if there’s a vehicle about to hit you from the rear or an item falling off of a truck, mirror checking keeps you prepared.“
Did you notice the emphasis from the article above to glance back quickly, when using a rearview mirror, (for the obvious safety reasons) but not to plant your eyes on the rearview mirror for too long? While looking back is important, if the car is moving forward, it would be very dangerous to keep your stare glued to what is happening behind you.
Our eyes are certainly at the front of our head for a reason.
After looking back, here are a few things I’ve realized I need to adjust this year that you may be able to relate to and how I intend on seeing them through:
Breaking bad habits – Identifying what triggers me to keep falling to the same temptation of the bad habit and to be disciplined enough to stare clear of the trigger. For example, if I am trying to reduce my sugar intake, the obvious decision is to not buy sweets at the grocery story. I’ll have little to no sugary options when that late night craving hits.
Stop overspending at the supermarket – this is such a sore area for me. When I looked at the dollar amount I’ve spent over the past year on groceries, it is safe to say I spent way too much on food. The sad thing is, some of it ends up in the trash. With the inflation that is upon us, this most certainly has to stop. How I intend to cut back is to plan ahead on meals for the week, make a grocery list based on that plan, use coupons when I have access to them, take advantage of other saving opportunities the store provides, and to never shop while hungry.
Aim for early, not on-time – I’ve heard the saying that if you’re on time you’re late. This is true. Aim for early as we cannot predict the journey to wherever we need to be is going to be unobstructed every day. Accidents happen, road constructions show up unannounced. If you aim for early, there’s a better chance of making it on time with these conditions.
Flee from procrastination. Heard the saying delay is danger? Why risk forgetting or not completing something if I remember it now and can get it done?
Stop overbooking my schedule – it is easy to get dragged in all directions. It can be even worst as a full-time employee and student. Prioritizing mental breaks is important. It’s great checking off the to do list but should not happen at the cost of a burnout.
Prioritize taking care of the temple – Get that pedicure sis! We can’t be out here with a job and a roof over our head but when someone looks at our feet they think we’re homeless. You have one body, so take very good care of it in every way possible.
Listen without distractions – Most people today have smart phones, in hand, and almost all the time. We live in such a multitasking era that we feel like listening while someone is speaking but needing to scroll through the phone can still be effective and then after they are done speaking we realize we don’t even know what they just said. Sometimes we miss the opportunity to be there for someone because of this.
Control the thoughts, don’t let the thoughts control you – This is a tough one. I know I am not the only one that needs to work on this. Being emotionally led can be detrimental because we act on feelings rather than facts. The key, in my humble opinion, is to take a moment to think through all the thoughts and to ask ourselves how many of them are true and how can we work through getting our peace back without making matters worst.
Scripture presents many references that suggest the detriment of looking back at the past or better yet, staying stuck there. This is pointing to the true meaning of salvation and incase you are thinking of salvation being only a soul saving event from sin, I’d like to inform you that salvation also refers to being set free from old ways of thinking and operating. Things like breaking bad harmful self-sabotaging habits, how we steward God’s creation of self and of all the things He’s created on this earth that He has allowed us access to.
You may remember the story of Lot’s wife and how she looked back and became a pillar of salt. She appeared to not have wanted to let go of the things of old and her unwillingness to let go stripped her of a future. – Luke 17:32
If you ever get stuck in the past thinking you coulda shoulda woulda, please remember this promise:
For we know that for those that love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose – Romans 8:28
In the one minute video below, Michael Hyatt shares his perspective on reflecting on the past. He explains his phenomenon of “completing the past” as:
“If you don’t complete the past, if you don’t deal powerfully with what happened in the last 12 months, too often we drag that into the future so that it becomes an inhibiting factor in accomplishing our most important goals.
For example, if we went through a failure or disappointment last year we might be tempted to not try in this year. And so often, people that are successful failed their way to success. And so we have to learn to deal powerfully with the past.
Michael uses 8 major questions to guide his students. One of which is:
“What were your major accomplishments last year? (It’s good to rehearse those to get into a powerful frame of mind where we’re building on our success and our momentum which builds confidence and gives us a reason to set even bigger and better goals for the future.
But we also have to deal with things like disappointments or regrets or maybe there were times last year when you thought you should have been acknowledged but for whatever reason you weren’t and if you don’t get that out and just deal with it, then it’s hard to get the slate wiped clean and to develop a plan for this next year that is inhibited by what happened in the past 12 months.”
I’ve learned something new every single year about myself. No matter what I’ve learned about others, what I came to realize about myself mattered most because the only person I can control is myself. As I am graced with life, I try my best to take those lessons and apply them to the new year, new month, new week, or the new day. Thankfully God’s mercies are new every morning.
Not only can we be grateful for that, but no matter what you did not accomplished or failed at or wished you had done differently, know that you can be hopeful and expectant each and every day in the fact that it’s a new opportunity to do what was not done the previous day all while not having to spread your bed in the despair of your past failures.
You must be intentional about this new mindset.
I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you an unforgettable new year for all the right reasons. One filled with higher highs, good health, more joyful moments and one riddled with much laughter and little to no tears – unless of course they will be tears of joy. Be expectant for the new adventures and accomplishments on the road ahead. And don’t be afraid to fail at something new. You got this!
What goals have you’ve set out to achieve this year? How do you plan on seeing them through? I’d love to hear from you. Don’t forget to leave a comment below and subscribe for new content and announcements. Until next time, have a blessed week.
Have you ever experienced perfect peace with what you had until the moment you found out there was a better version out there?
In my closet are over 29 pairs of pants, more than 80 shirts and blouses (combined), about 10 dresses, and roughly 38 pairs of shoes. At this point you may be thinking “#blessed”, but the irony of these numbers is that whenever I have an event to attend, I almost always experience a meltdown from having ‘nothing‘ to wear. This, my friends, does not include the clothes in my dresser nor the ones in the dirty laundry basket.
Please do not mistake this as bragging. That conclusion could not be any further from the truth. I only just came to terms with this statistic when I made a conscious decision to count my closet’s inventory while working on this blog to prove to myself that I may have a problem on my hands. I’m not gonna lie, the numbers surprised me.
I was very tempted to stop counting midway through my collection. How can anyone have this many clothing options and still have a hard time finding something to wear at any given time? Clearly my taste in my own fashion selections was changing faster than the seasons in the year. To make things worse, half the clothes I bought I ended up not even liking.
I could go on and on about my expertise in dissatisfaction and tell you about the other “stuff” I’ve accumulated; from hair care products to stationaries to food pantry items – because I always need to be ready for food shortage for some reason – and I dare not mention the many unread books that have only been collecting dust on the bookshelf.
Some of these excess items have possibly been expired for months now but with all the other unused stuff in the way, who would be able to keep up with these important details?
“I’ll get this for later“, is something I’d tell myself ALL the time because I’ve become so good at dissatisfaction that I just know I will be needing something different not long after that initial purchase. Don’t get me wrong, some of the things I’ve gotten when I didn’t need them did come in handy – eventually – but many never did.
“So why did you buy so many clothes and things that you ended up not using Kaydene?”
Well I thought you’d never ask.
Short answer is, shortly after I made a purchase, I either realized quickly that the item(s) do not bring me the maximum satisfaction I expected or I found out that there is a newer version out and so help me God, I just had to have it. But then I thought to myself, why would I have made a mediocre purchase decision to begin with? Are my impulsive purchases and inability to say no to something I do not need or to keep up with the latest trends lending a hand in my world of discontentment?
We live in such a consumerist culture where minimalism is NOT encouraged. This is possibly a very new term to you. It’s the practice of living on and with the bare minimum. It’s having only the things you need and nothing extra. But silly me, why would this be encouraged?
I think I can speak for many of us when I say we love to have extra because having options is great. Product sales dictate the value of a company which means we continue to consume in excess and half the time we are only left with heaps of things that we never get to use. We are left to either hoard them, sell them or donate them and if we’re going to be honest, most times they end up in the garbage.
This mentality has permeated into more personal matters like becoming discontented with who I am or with the people in my life, or with my income, or how course my edges are without edge control, or how some guy’s eye lashes are way longer and thicker and fuller than mine and before you know it, the result is a long list of insecurities because I’ve somehow deducted that I do not measure up to someone else’s version of “better” or “best”.
What human has the authority to dictate what a perfect human being is suppose to look like anyway? We’ll leave that discussion for another time.
President Theodore Roosevelt was certainly onto something when he said, “comparison is the thief of joy”. I started to see how the comparison mindset and all it’s discontenting by-products was going to lead me down a slippery slope of eternal misery. So I decided it was time to unsubscribe from comparison and to stop looking at the empty half of the glass.
My ‘aha’ moment was when I got tired of spending, so I decided to become contented with exercising contentment
Settling For Less
For many people, contentment is unattainable. To them, it is the equivalent of settling for less. Why accept and older version of anything when you can have the new upgraded model? Why settle for this low wage career when you can go back to school and give yourself a chance to earn more?
Is it contradictory to say I live a contented life while pursuing a higher education in hopes of a higher wage or a new more fulfilling and purposeful career?
Have you ever seen the movie “The Pursuit of Happiness” starring Will and Jaden Smith? As you may (or may not) know, it is based on a true story and is the epitome of human resilience and how pursuing a better life propelled one man and his son into a future of higher purpose and abundance. Had he settled for his current situation, He’d probably not become the success story and encouragement he is today.
I don’t know that I could have been contented with living like a stray animal myself, but even in the rut, it could be argued that there was some bits of contentment.
I thought long and hard about how to be contented while pursuing more. Based on the definition given, it appears that it is impossible to be contented while aspiring for more. I could not disagree more. I’m convinced it comes down to the question of why?.
So I asked myself, what is my motive for wanting more? This is not an easy one to answer because there are so many little moving parts that would determine why we do what we do. From my experience, settling for less and thinking that there is nothing better in-store or that I have to have it now, has led to more of my discontentment than not settling ever did. The right approach to contentment, I’ve deducted, is hoping and actually waiting for the best that our creator has for us, while embracing and celebrating in ALL the things (and people) we do have now.
I am an advocate for continued growth in all areas of life within the reason of becoming a better version of myself and not with the intention of impressing others and I do feel as though the moment we stop learning is the moment we stop growing. If my intention is to keep up with the accomplishments of others, I’m as good as living with discontentment for the rest of my life.
My friend E.D. was beaming with excitement when she found out about her acceptance into the law program from one of the schools she had applied to a few months ago. Her radiant aura and immense sense of happiness had quickly engulf my own reality and I soon found myself thrilled all because of how much she was.
I know a thing or two about breathing a sigh of relief with getting an acceptance letter and feeling like life was finally starting to head in the direction I long hope it would.
She’d been anxious for weeks, possibly months, about her applications and so I felt genuine happiness for her when she shared the exciting news with me. Immediately I became eager to plan a celebration dinner. It was a great day in my book and I would think in hers as well. She finally realized that her potential was not going unnoticed.
By the next day, E.D. was not nearly as thrilled as she was the day before. She told me that she submitted a new application to a different school. I was a bit confused by this, so I asked her what had happened to the prior acceptance?
She brought to my attention that she had spent some time the prior evening, doing detailed research on the accepting school, (almost like going to WebMD to self diagnose), and realized based on the reviews that this may not be the best option for her.
While I can absolutely relate to this kind of discontentment, I was still amazed at how her excitement withered within a few hours all because the reviews were quite disapproving. The interesting part was that she had moved from being contented with getting no acceptance at all, to becoming obsessed with wanting to have a better option of school to attend. When I asked her why was she not contented anymore, E.D. said that for the money she was about to spend in tuition, she needed to make her journey well worth it.
I get it, contentment can come with a price tag and law school is a major investment.
Learning Contentment the Hard Way – My Uncle’s Story
If there is anyone I know who lives and breaths contentment, it is my uncle.
He had just signed off from duty after many months at sea working as a chef on one of the largest cruise ships known to many. What was to be only a few months off from work turned into almost a few years. He was neither financially nor mentally prepared for this extended amount of time from work.
The hospitality industry had taken a hard hit during the covid-19 pandemic and there was nothing he could have done in his power to adjust that reality. It was such a major setback and something he wished he had seen coming. He shared many struggles he faced physically, mentally and spiritually, day and night. It was a tough time. His livelihood was swept from under his feet.
Many of the ill feelings he felt went unnoticed by many who had interacted with him because of how he handled the situation, with much contentment knowing that there are some things that are just out of his control.
When I asked him how could he have possibly practiced contentment in such a tough season, he expressed that for him it was a spiritual process. He could not have gone through what he did on his own strength. He believed it was a breaking process for him to teach him many important life lessons as well as to put all his trust in God, the only one who had seen this coming and had already worked out the provisions for him and his family.
My uncle said that he was reminded of the story of Job (as I had mentioned a few blog posts ago), and how when we are stripped of everything, we are faced with the inevitable decision of either choosing to be miserable or to practice contentment. What I also admired about his story is that his family, (wife and daughter), are faithful and loyal through the entire process. They all learned, alongside him, how to be contented in a season of lack. While they wished things had played out differently, they found comfort in trusting that God would never turn His back on their distress.
From E.D.’s and my uncle’s story and even that of my own, I realized that contentment is best achieved through intentionality and or through the harsh reality of the inability to acquire that which is out of one’s control.
So I’ve deducted there are two types of contentment:
Inevitable contentment – the one where you have no other choice but to satisfy with what you have and where you are in life because you do not have the means to acquire more. It is also looking in the mirror and acknowledging that you had no control over your genetic make up and you are perfect just the way you are.
Practiced/Intentional contentment – the one where you realize that you can no longer keep up with the Jones‘ or keeping up with them is only going to put you in a financial rut and knowing that what you have is good enough until you can responsibly, and within good reason, acquire more.
“Contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want, but the realization of how much you already have”
There are two practical ways you can start practicing contentment:
Do not compare. If what you have works and serves you well, it is all that you need. My cellphone may be 3 years old and my friend may have gotten the latest and greatest version, but mine still works and that is enough reason for me to not replace it. Until it stops working, I will remain contented with it.
Be grateful for what you have in this very moment and season. An attitude of gratitude can go much further than we realize.
I know, easier said than done. Contentment to me is intentional and I’ve found it will take much effort on my part.
Advice From Rachel Cruze
While listening to chapter 9 of Rachel Cruze’s audio book, “Know Yourself Know Your Money“, I received a few guidelines on how to really practice contentment. Here’s what she had to say:
“Contentment is a process that changes your motivation for spending money. How? By changing what you value. Instead of valuing the acquisition of more stuff, you value other things more. It starts with gratitude, which develops into humility and over time grows into contentment. Contentment is the opposite of spending money because of other people. It’s about being satisfied with your life right where God has you versus feeling like you have to keep up. It’s about having peace in your heart for the season of life you are in and knowing your life is meant for something meaningful. Instead of chasing after the next new shiny thing, contentment changes your heart to be satisfied with what you already have.“
“Start with an attitude of gratitude – start your day by writing down (or even thinking about) 3 things you are grateful for. Not just the big things but the small things as well like writing with your favorite pen or drinking your favorite cup of coffee.”
“Being contented does not mean you are aimless, a doormat or lazy.“
“Being content has more to do with your “why”. Living life on your terms not with what you have. You can be content with a little and you could be contented with alot.” – Rachel Cruze
The Holidays is one of the best but possibly the hardest times to practice contentment. If you received nothing for Christmas would you still be happy? Could you still have joy if you were overlooked? The holidays can be a very triggering time of year for many as their lacks become emphasized.
For Christians, the real gift of the season was salvation embodied in human form and a new way of living life. No longer do we have to be enslaved to our past mistakes and for many, this is enough of a gift. No monetary or material possessions will ever be able to measure up.
Joyce Meyer puts it this way, “enjoy where you are on your way to where you are going“. Joyce, I could not agree more. I definitely won’t sit and do life without aiming for something greater, or better or even God’s best for me, but if my idea of what this looks like never happens, then let it be known that I will be contented knowing that if it was meant to happen any other way, it would have.
Have you had to practice contentment? How was it a struggle for you? How has your life been different since you’ve learned contentment? Share your thoughts in the comment section below. Don’t forget to subscribe for new content as soon as they are released. Until next time, have a blessed week and a very Merry Christmas.
Hey you! yes… you. The one who has launched out into a new adventure filled with optimism for a future drenched in passion for living on purpose. The one who wants to rewrite history, creating new traditions, breaking generational strongholds and releasing yourself from the shackles of past mistakes.
It is you that I am talking to.
The one who realizes that this new journey is easily as scary as it is exciting and who has heard that “if your dreams don’t scare you they aren’t big enough“. The one who stepped out of your comfort zone to seek out something greater than that of yourself to tread the path that leads to places you’ve never been before, doing things you’ve never done with talents you did not even know you possessed.
Is it you that I am talking to?
May I take a few minutes of your time to give you some words of encouragement? I know, you may feel alone, unclear and doubtful and words may never be good enough. The journey to fulfilling calling and reaching new milestones can be a scary one, but many have trod this route before and are living to tell the tale.
Too often, all we see are the glorified triumphs, the ripened fruits weighing heavy on fragile looking yet sturdy branches and the perfectly patterned fluttering butterflies who were possibly still only just a caterpillar yesterday.
But what about the parts before the triumphant endings? What about the tears, the fears, the sleepless nights, the heartbreaks, and the discomfort that seems like a lifelong companion along the journey? Can we find comfort in the dark places? Can we reflect and ponder and feel every bit of it and speak life and light into the uncomfortable places?
Can we talk about the struggles you may or have been facing on this new journey?
Whether it is a new years resolution of going to the gym consistently, saving money, purchasing a new home or writing a book, starting could be argued as much easier to do than bringing the project to completion. As 2022 fast approaches, so are the long lists of resolutions. Seldom do we plan the survival strategies for the bumps ahead that will make every attempt to throw us off course.
Let’s dive into some of the obstacles you may face on your newly sought after journey and what to remember while you are experiencing them:
1. The lack of support and encouragement
You may come to a harsh realization that not everyone will find interest in your new pursuits and many of them will be people you thought cared about you. They probably do but not in the way you expect them to. You may even find yourself begging for the kind of support you expected should have been given freely. You will find that your only option to keep you moving, is to become your own cheerleader. If you are a Christian, please do not forget that the Holy Spirit is with you to help you in ALL you do. There is no greater cheerleader and support than that.
2. Realizing who is NOT in your corner
The lack of feedback will be your guide for this one. People may even start acting differently around you and towards you. If this is the case, we can’t even begin to image what they are probably saying behind our backs. It is some of the people you hoped you could rely on that probably will not be in your corner and it may be the people who you least expect that will appreciate what you are doing. This is where you will understand the concept of knowing who your tribe is. Still be as graceful and as forgiving as you possibly can, no matter what your emotions tell you what to do.
3. Lack of vision
Some days you will struggle to know what your next move is. You may find yourself asking the question “what do I do next?” more often than not. You may even end up being stuck here for awhile.
Ever heard the quote about not seeing the whole stairway before taking the steps? This is not quite the thing for control freaks, but I do believe some things are out of our control and for those things, I rely on God who already knows what the future holds. Someone asked me once, “how do you come up with the topics for your blog?” in which I responded, “I just think of what I am struggling with in the moment and ask God what does He want me to learn in the midst of this storm and the rest is history.”
4. Self doubt
You may feel like you are terrible at this new task. Give yourself some grace and adjust your self-talk to speaking life and positivity. Remember, you have to become your own cheerleader. With experience you will become proficient and better with each new day. Remember, we learn to walk before we are ever able to run.
When I had reached about 9 months in the transition of my natural hair journey, I was ready to do the “big chop”. It was scary to think that I was not going to be able to put my hair in a ponytail for the first time in my life. I was filled with fear and it was only just hair. I was once told “the only thing to fear is fear itself.” Fear is crippling. Fear is not from our all powerful creator so it is important not to entertain it. By His power we can live boldly and in the confidence that He has created us for good works and even if it is not exactly what we had set out to pursue, He will guide us in the direction He wants us to go. Also, do not live in the fear that others have right you off from being qualified for this. People will remember your mistakes and try to keep your capabilities hostage to your past. Let them. You cannot control what they do, but you can control where you maintain your gaze. Keep pressing ahead.
6. Lack of Motivation
Self-governance does not seem important until it needs to be. It is already bad enough that the area of encouragement is low. You will have to dig deep on most days to find the strength and couragement to continue. Remembering why you started will help you with this one. Take a mental break if you need to.
My friend John says, “When you find yourself up against an obstacle, keep pushing and use it as an experience to learn and grow.“
People will make an attempt to tell you why what you are aiming for is useless. Let them. Tell them you appreciate the feedback and continue on your journey. Not everyone will understanding your calling because it is not theirs to understand. It is yours to stay faithful to. Keep pressing.
8. Success Does Not Happen Overnight
This is major. Please remember this when nothing seems to be happening. Don’t lose hope. Persistence is key. That was one of the best advices I ever received.
Dennis (a fitness advocate and friend) says, “To build muscle, you need resistance. Muscles are built when they are stretched, torn and healed.”
At the beginning of any new journey you must keep at the forefront of your mind why you started. Many companies have vision statement(s) painted mostly at the employee entrance for a reason. Many people may be motivated mainly about paying the bills, but to feel like you are apart of something greater may could increase to vigor to give it your all no matter how difficult the task may be.
“Make your vision so clear that your fears become irrelevant”
– Kerwin Rae
As for me, starting a blog and posting it to social media was nerve wracking. Left up to me, I would have kept it in the dark. But I had to remember why I started:
I hope you find this video as motivating as I have. Go ahead, take the first step to doing something new. You do not have to have it all figured out now and you do not have to be great at it from the very start. If it does not take you to where you thought it would, it will still take you somewhere, in a different spot than the one you are standing in right now. Be encouraged until next time. Have a blessed week.
A few minutes after driving off the DMV parking lot after officially passing my Florida driver’s license exam, I almost got into a car accident that would have been entirely my fault. What made it even worse was the fact that the car I was driving was not even mine. I almost failed myself and the person behind me, (not to mention the owner of the car), by switching lanes without taking the necessary steps to ensure that the lane I wanted to reposition myself into was clear for me to merge into. I made an impulsive decision out of fear of missing my fast approaching left turn because I was still heavily relying on a gps at the time to guide my trips every step of the way.
Photo by Artem Podrez
The irony of the ‘close call’ was that prior to doing the exam, I received an advice that still echoes loud in my mind after hearing it so many years ago. The advice was that, “switching lanes is one of, if not, the biggest cause of motor vehicle accidents so be careful to check your blind spot before you move over into another lane“.
I am almost certain that with all the new technological advancements in our world today, distracted driving may now have topped that list. But, that is still beside the point. I did not listen well or somehow had forgotten the advice and failed to take the proper “lane changing” precautions and found myself mindlessly merging into a lane I did not belong in.
Shaken up and embarrassed after receiving the disapproving deafening horn honk from the disgruntled driver on the left back side of my miscalculated decision, I nervously made an attempt to apologize for the almost catastrophic event by leaning out of the driver’s window with surrendered hands and an apologetic posture. Unfortunately for me, she was not having any of it and made it clear with rolled eyes and the lack of eye contact that my attempt of an apology was not welcomed. Ouch!
Photo by Liza Summer
At that point there was nothing else I could have done. I had almost ruined both of our morning. Obviously, in her mind it seemed, there was nothing I could have said that would have justified the “stupid” decision I made. So, like a dog with a crushed spirit walking off with it’s tail tucked away, I rolled my window up and humbly and carefully made my way back home.
Between the high of the celebration, the anxiety of missing my turn and my overly confident desire to change lanes, the complacency of not checking my blind spot almost became the cloud on a beautiful sunny day. All because I was moving into a lane I had no business in at the time.
Often times when we hear the words “stay in your lane“, it is usually in reference to the command of minding your own business. It can be quite the irritant (to me), when others meddle in matters that does not concern them. Maybe you’ve been the one to do the meddling. As for me, If I am not careful about my own approach on this topic, I get so caught up in minding my own business that I forget to ask the right questions for the sake of becoming enlightened.
Like the Florida law makes clear, there are times when moving over into a lane other than the one you are in, is unapologetically warranted. This is not something we put into perspective as it pertains to people getting into the details of our business. It feels more like a nuisance to be asked personal questions or to be put into a position to have to think about things you had no intentions of being concerned with. Context should be taken into consideration however.
What is the purpose and the intention of someone slithering their way out of their lane into mine? Is it to gain information so they can discuss it behind my back with others who does not, by the slightest, wish that I succeed? Or is it to find out enough to get to know me to offer support or a helping hand? Our own hard wired worldviews may determine the answers to these questions unless of course you have chosen the route of learning the facts about the people in question.
It Is Ok To Step Out of Your Lane
Photo by Toa Heftiba u015einca
Galatians 6:2 encourages us to share each others’ burdens and I do not see how we can accomplish this without stepping out of our own situation and circumstance, even for a short time, to selflessly focus on the concerns of others to uplift them in the way that is best suited for their specific need. This sounds like switching lanes to me, but only when the time is right and when the attempt is to benefit other drivers on the road. With self serving intentions, we may find ourselves in lanes we have no business in that proves to be very harmful for all involved.
When choosing to change lanes or to work our way into a situation that has absolutely nothing to do with us, it is a good idea to remember that our intrusion is only meaningful when the purpose is to uplift others or to expand our understanding of a situation in order to handle it better for the benefit of everyone involved. That is my personal conviction of a new perspective.
Your Lane, Your Unique Journey
Photo by nappy
Another way we can look at the topic of staying in our lanes, is to remember that we all have our own race to run with the unique talents we were gifted. I’ve learned one important element of running my own race is to maintain my gaze on my own actions within my assigned lane. To explain this better, I’ve linked a video below that has within it excellent encouragement on how to “stay in your lane”. I’ve found the advice quite useful and you may too.
Whether we are mindlessly wondering in someone else’s business for selfish reasons, being distracted by the journey of the people around us or seeking knowledge in understanding how to be the support system others need, staying in your lane should be considered within it’s appropriate context.
Were you ever told to stay in your lane? What does it mean to you? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Don’t forget to subscribe for new content as soon as they are released. Until next time, have a blessed week.
Originally named ‘Xaymaca’ which translates to “the land of wood and water“, Jamaica is the place I called home for my first 21 years of life. I am asked this question every time someone finds out where I am from; “so why did you leave your beautiful countryto migrate to the U.S.?” and after a brief chuckle and a short stroll down memory lane, my response is almost always the same; “to pursue an opportunity that became available to me.”
Like many Jamaicans, I was vaguely exposed to the American culture and values by means of television shows, through friends who traveled it’s terrains during the summer break and would come back looking like new money at the beginning of the school year, and through migrant relatives who returned to the island for what was described as a “well needed” vacation.
I would particularly look forward to seeing these relatives in anticipation of receiving the blessing of the crisp and seemingly coveted U.S. dollars which when converted to Jamaican dollars was more than enough to earn me some summer must-haves like bun and cheese, bag juice and prepaid cellular phone cards that I could burn through faster than the time it took you to read this paragraph.
I spent a good chunk of my childhood listening to stories of trips to the United States and daydreaming about the day I could say I was “coming to America”. While I waited my turn, I would fill in the gaps in my mind about what the experience was certainly going to be like. I’ve since been privileged to not only see what the United States is like, but to also live here as well in which I have for over 12 years. (Yikes! Where did the time go?) May I add, I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to live in such a great nation. Though very grateful for access to more resources and an abundance of new experiences, there are some signature luxuries about living in Jamaica that I do miss dearly and no matter how much time has passed, the yearning remains the same.
I know I cannot speak for all Jamaicans currently living in the U.S., but I can confidently tell you that these are easily some of the things I took for granted that I miss the most:
1. The Fruits
In my teenage years in Jamaica, it was a privilege for me to be able to buy American fruits in any of the Jamaican supermarkets. Purchasing grapes and American apples were considered as “a treat” as they were a little on the pricey side. Once they were consumed in their entirety, there would be no more to have until the end of the month when the next paycheck would hit.
Guinep (or spanish lime), pictured above, is one of the fruits that I miss most. I know, it’s probably not that impressive of a fruit to many, but the memory of what it represents means the most to me. I’ll never forget the first time I laid eyes on a bunch neatly packaged for sale in one of the supermarkets I shop at in the Tampa Bay area. I was delighted at the discovery and as you may have guessed, it did not matter what it was going to cost me to make that purchase, I had to have them. Unfortunately, unlike Jamaica, there was no “taste and buy” so the risk level was pretty high.
The package with the shiny green outer shells of the fruit took me back to some of the best summers I’ve lived through. I always looked forward to the guinep sellers riding around the neighborhood on bicycles selling bunches and bunches of guineps out of a cardboard box. Looking out for these guys by the way, was an extreme sport for me. Though the fruit would leave a stainy residue on the tongue and even on my clothes when the juice fell, it was still a hallmark to a well spent summer.
Guineps aren’t the only fruits I miss. The list is rather extensive to include fruits like sweetsop, soursop, naseberry, East Indian mangoes and of course sugarcane. Making this list was rather torturous.
2. The Food on the Beach
I have a feeling you are probably wondering why is missing the food second and not first. Well, that is because anywhere you go in the U.S. where Jamaicans are located, you will most likely find some semblance of the staple dishes. From jerk chicken, to curry goat, oxtail and beef patties, I have access to them all, one way or another. I do however miss seeing the street cooks out in the busy streets on a Friday night making jerk chicken on jerk pans and the inviting and irresistible aroma that would fill the air fresh off the caramelized and seasoned to perfection chicken. It must be noted how the chicken was always cooked to perfection even though the jerk pans or make shift “grills” had no temperature gauges.
One specific dish that I miss the most out of all, is the freshly fried fish and festival that would be made in the huts by the sea side. There’s no better experience. Enjoying the fish dish while soaking up the cool sea breeze is an experience that even though simple, should be a bucket list item. The Jamaican KFC is another staple experience. You would only understand if you’ve tried it.
3. The Pastries and Snacks
I’ve had some very delicious and beautifully decorated donuts in the U.S., but nothing warms my heart more than the simplicity of the pink berry flavored jelly filled prestige donuts with the lightly sprinkled sugar garnish. Yum! This is only one of the many delicious snacks I grew up on. Pastries and snacks like grater cake, peanut cake, onion bits, big foot, tiggaz, just to name a few, will forever leave an impression on my taste buds. Should I even mention the sweet potato pudding and the delectable fruit cake made at Christmas time? My grandmother would make it a yearly tradition to bake dozens and dozens of Christmas cakes which, in my biased opinion, is still the best I’ve ever had.
4. Working Less
My first major job fresh out of high school at age 19, was an entry level statement renderer position at a bank in the New Kingston area. It was a salaried job. I worked 8 hours per day and one of those hours was a paid lunch. Yes, you read that right. So for all my mathematically inclined readers, I worked on average, 7 hours a day. Maternity leave, as I remembered it through my observation of others, (hold your horses), was 3 months with pay. That meant nothing to me at the time.
FYI: “Across the country (The Unites States), employees who are paid an hourly wage for their services account for 82.3 million workers 16 years and older, representing well over half (58.1 percent) of all wage and salary workers in 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Hourly workers have always been the backbone of the U.S.economy, and the importance of the work they do has only become heightened during this pandemic crisis.” (source).
All of this does depend on the choice of career but if you know, you know.
5. The All Inclusive Resorts
Summer of 2021 was when it dawned on me that I could not have the all inclusive vacation I wanted if I was not in Jamaica. To be fair, I have not traveled to many tourist destinations in the world or even here in the U.S., so I am not saying Jamaica is the only place that has great all inclusive experiences, but I first experienced this kind of vacation in Jamaica. What I payed for one night at a beach resort in St Petersburg Florida, which shockingly did not even have complimentary breakfast, I could have possibly paid for at least one night at an all inclusive resort in Jamaica with the guarantee of getting three meals. Yes, food is important to me because “belly ungrateful”.
6. Living Debt Free
Don’t get me wrong, you can live debt free in America, but unless you were guided properly before your arrival, you will most likely understand how finances work in the United States well into a few credit card mistakes. The financial backbone of the United States, from my vantage point, appears to have planted it’s feet securely on a credit score system which bases your financial fitness through your ability to manage debt. You only start to build a credit score when you start to borrow money and avoiding debt is difficult because your credit score is like a boarding pass to a flight to your next major purchase. Please correct me if I am mistaken.
I personally believe this approach is a set up for present and future financial failure. If you have not moved to the United States as yet but are planning on doing so soon, may I suggest a very careful approach to acquiring debt. Less is more in this regard. I am no financial expert nor am I qualified to give financial advice, but I would be selfish to not bring some awareness to avoiding the money mistakes I made. On the flip side, it can be very beneficial to not have to wait indefinitely to save up enough money for something that is needed asap. This of course depends on who you ask. Whatever you decide to do just remember, “a borrower is a slave to the lender“.
7. The Diction
I just miss using the letter “u” in words like neighbor (neighbour), color (colour), and favorite (favourite). I know, this is probably not a big deal to you, but it gets annoying having to explain it was not a typo and that you can actually spell.
Feedback from Jamaicans in Tampa
To gain some perspective, I took to the streets to locate other Jamaicans to chit chat with about what they had missed most about their beloved island.
My first stop was at a local Jamaican restaurant. Trudi, the first person I spoke with, was a server at this spot was brought to my attention as the only Jamaican available at the time, so I took a few minutes to talk to her:
Me: What is the thing you miss most about Jamaica?
Trudi: The atmosphere. I am from the country part of Jamaica (my interpretation of country is anywhere except Kingston or Spanish Town). The air in the mornings is so fresh and clean. I don’t experience that in America. I also miss the authentic food. I cyaah (can’t) stand anything out of the tin like tin ackee.
Trudi lost me at ackee. Fun fact about me: I cannot stand the taste of ackee. This is unfortunate because it makes up the Jamaican national dish.
I left this local spot and headed to a beauty supply store close by as I remembered there were some Jamaicans who worked there. After I had made my purchases, I once again sought out the Jamaicans that worked there. I found two very polite young ladies who were more than happy to participate in this conversation.
Me: Hi Sade, I’m just curious to know, what is one thing you miss the most about Jamaica?
Sade: The food.
Tanika: Deinitely the food.
Me: Is there anywhere that you can go locally that can provide you with food that is close to the original?
Sade: A mi yaad! (At my home) – this response tickled me
Sade: I also miss seeing how much pride we take in how we dress. People are a lot more casual in America.
Me: I agree. I was mostly surprised by the laid back dress code policy in many professional settings. This of course is not necessarily a bad thing and it does take the pressure off having to impress anyone by having to buy expensive attire when the money could be used for other important purchases.
Sade: Yes, Jamaicans know how to dress like fowl foot. (Jamaicans go hard with their attire)
Me: True, not to mention the church attire. No one went to church dressed casually. (this I personally do not miss)
Tanika mentioned a few things that, in true Jamaican style, I will leave unmentioned. Trust me, it is for the best.
Things I Do Not Miss About Jamaica
“Then if you miss there so much why are you here?”, some may ask.
Contrary to popular belief, it is not all sunshine and warm friendly smiles on the island. The media has paraded enough shortcomings about Jamaica to raise enough concerns and fears about the possibility of even visiting. Like any developing country, Jamaica has room for improvement.
Among the things I do not miss are the high cost for food and utilities. I also do not miss having to wait monthly for the salary to hit my bank account, and most certainly do not miss the limited resources and the lack of opportunities for advancement. Jamaica as mentioned earlier, is still developing, so I say these things with as much grace and love as possible. No matter the shortcomings, I would not change the experiences of my early years on my beautiful island.
As the Jamaican proverb encourages, “strive for a happy blend between the old and the new” and that is what this post is all about.
What do you miss most about living in Jamaica? If you still reside there, what is one thing you love about living there? Please share your thoughts below. I would love to hear from you. Until next time, have a blessed week.
Updated: November 26, 2021
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Whatever makes you uncomfortable is your biggest opportunity for growth
– Bryant McGill
Last November, I opened my home to Mickey and Malarkey, my two adopted domestic short hair tabby male cats. Try not to get hung up on the names, I had no participation in that decision and I was too lazy to think of new ones. Furthermore, I thought the already assigned names were perfect as is. A mantra I live by is to not fix what isn’t broken.
The kittens, alongside their lactating mother, were dumped into the bushes along a road in a plastic tote. Thankfully they were found by a good Samaritan. I am not going to advocate for a universal love for cats. I know they can be a handful and may display unfavorable behavioral patterns, but I would suggest that the humane thing to do, if they are unwanted, is to take them to a nearby animal shelter where they can receive the proper care until they are placed into a forever home.
At the time I heard about this discovery, I was not mentally prepared to own cats. I considered my dwelling space to be too small for such free spirited animals, but the dilemma had prematurely tugged on my heart strings and I could not find the breath to say no.
The kittens, at the time, were obviously traumatized and I was told it took quite an immeasurable amount of effort to rescue them. Once they were introduced to their new home, a few months after being rescued and getting back to good health, they spent hours in hiding before they realized this unfamiliar territory was going to become their new place of sustenance and safety. I know I’m probably about to lose the people who don’t like cats right now, but I urge you stick this out with me.
This past week they were both due for their annual wellness examination and booster vaccinations. Unfortunately, Mickey was the only one of the two that made it to his appointment. Malarkey, upon realizing that I was fixing to put him in the small carrier, made quite the scene and refused to endure that kind of discomfort. The outcome of course is that he would have missed a very important appointment. Mickey, on the other hand, unknowingly, cooperated well but like any cat would, became very vocal about his discomfort the moment I set him in the carrier, in the back seat of my car.
Mickey stuck with me on that car ride through the discomfort. He was audibly uncomfortable and like most cats, did not like that he was confined to a carrier in the backseat of the car not knowing how this journey was going to end. The sole purpose of Mickey’s discomfort was to get him from his home to the vet to give him the necessary medical attention he needs as he gets older for a healthier happier adult life. Mickey’s pain was for a good reason, if only he understood this.
When it Rains
Like Mickey being in the dark about my plans to take him on a mentally uncomfortable car ride to the vet that day, I too am never ready for a misfortune to land at my doorstep. If I had it my way, I’d never want any if it and would probably set up a system of detection to warn me of the impending doom to allow me enough of a heads-up to do everything within my human capabilities to avoid it.
Misfortunes are uncomfortable and disrupts my smooth predictable routine. I’ve never seen anything more inconvenient than a problem I did not see coming let alone when they set up residence in my life. I’m not one for a surprise that I am not ready for, unless of course it’s one that would make me happy and misfortunes did not make the list. Depending on our worldviews, what may be a big problem to me may be small to you and vice versa. “When it rains it pours“, are words I grew up hearing and ones I’ve found myself repeating in my own series of discomforts.
I complain every time something throws me a curve ball. But why do we do that? To share the burden? It’s even more frustrating when others do not have the right words to appease us or are just incapable of expressing the empathy and sympathy we so desire. Perhaps you can relate to this. Maybe right now, you are in one of your hardest battles of your life and no-one probably knows about it. One after the other, problem after problem, struggle after struggle. Does it ever end? Can I catch a break?
My outlook on struggles changed drastically and for the better not long ago. To say the least, I found myself in quite an uncomfortable situation and it was not the kind I could (easily) run from. I had always been extremely crafty at figuring out how to escape discomfort. I lacked the ability to challenge myself let alone to accept the challenge. Somewhere along my life’s journey I adopted the culture of getting away from a problem, never to embrace it with outstretched hands. Who does that anyway? This time however was different. It was time for me to grow into next season and this was my catalyst. The light bulb had finally been switched on and I soon realized that in order for me to grow mentally, spiritually, emotionally, amongst many of the other “allys” that you could think of, I had to sit in the seat of discomfort and buckle up for the ride.
The Story of Job
If there is any story that has given me a renewed perspective on trials it is the story of Job. You may or may not be familiar. In the biblical era, the norm was to interpret misfortunes as punishment for doing something wrong. Many people still feel that way today. If you were facing trials of any kind, it was an automatic belief that you were a victim of God’s wrath. Job was exceptionally faithful to God and most certainly did not “deserve” misfortunes. His love and trust for God was probably more than that of my own if I am going to be honest. He was blessed in all areas of his life beyond measure but his comfortable life got turned up-side-down and he ultimately lost everything, except for his life of course. Feel free to fact check me and to dive deeper into the story in the book of Job.
I cannot imagine that he endured this with a smile on his face at any level of loss he experienced. The mind-blowing realization was that it got worst at every level of his circumstance. He never saw it coming and I would say it qualified him to have gone into depression and ultimately to have thrown in the towel and lost all faith. Job commendably endured and ended with more than he had to begin with. The process had only served to strengthen Job’s faith and trust in God and to show mankind that they should never rely entirely on human wisdom in tough times.
Lessons from Nature
A caterpillar must undergo metamorphis in order to become a butterfly
A mother must endure the pain of labor and delivery to bring forth a new life
Diamonds are formed within the earth’s surface under conditions of heat temperature and pressure
A seed will never grow into a tree without the right amount of sunlight, water, air and temperature.
You get the idea right? So it is with nature so it is with us, we grow under certain conditions and it is usually in discomfort.
This is not to encourage you to sit in an uncomfortable harmful situation that you need to get out of. There are things within our control and for those things I believe we should take the necessary steps to flee. Even then, use wisdom. What I am mainly referring to are those unsolicited moments that we can do nothing about that we have to allow time to remove. I’ve learned to grumble less in misery and to seek divine and deeper meaning to gain a higher perspective than that of my own.
If you have thoughts on this topic, please comment below. I’d love to hear your story and how you used those challenging moments for your greater good. Until next time, be encouraged and have a blessed week.
Sooner than later, one may find themself facing the inevitable reality of pursuing the possibility of owning a home. It is an achievement and one that is the hallmark of hard work, dedication and success. Whether a home is purchased by one or multiple individuals, big or small, it is yours and there is no better feeling. For some, renting is paying someone else’s mortgage and a complete waste of your hard earned money. In some cases this may be true. What they are unaware of is the unique financial situation of the individual renting. It is easy to encourage the purchase of a home, but it is hard to steer people in the right direction who have already acquired quite a bit of debt.
The problem is, owning a home only becomes a thought, for many like myself, well after there has been an accumulation of debt. The average American has $90, 460 in debt (Source). The average cost of a home according to zillow is $308,220. and the average monthly mortgage payment for US homeowners is $1487 (Source). This is not common knowledge nor explained ahead of time and while making those thoughtless financial mistakes.
There are many people who have not considered buying a home because of debt and have not thought it necessary to even find out how. It is said that ignorance is expensive and I am definitely paying the price to say the least. I’ve done some homework to learn a few things to start looking into before attempting to apply for a home loan.
Debt-to-Income ratio (DTI) is the primary consideration in the qualification of a home loan. A low DTI demonstrates a good balance between debt and income. Simply put. If you can keep your debt low or nonexistent it will become a home buying dream, if you plan on purchasing a home in the future of course
I took some time to stop by my local Credit Unions to speak with the home loans officers to gain an understanding of things to consider, while having debt, before buying a home. May I add these bank associates were extremely helpful. As I already knew for my own personal situation, I had to rearrange a few things on my financial record in order to maximize my home buying experience. I wanted to go in a bit more detail to find out exactly what areas to target and how were the best ways in doing so. If you are in debt and would like to be able to afford a home, eventually, here were a few things to consider in advance.
If you are like me you may receive monthly credit score updates from credit check apps like mint. Unfortunately, according to CD Thornton, one of my credit union’s mortgage advisors, there may be hidden occurrences on your credit that you may be unaware of that could poke it’s ugly head out once you are ready to buy a home. Things like unknown outstanding medical bills or even something as simple as not returning your cable box can be seen on your credit history and may be used against you. I guess it may be time for me to return my cable box 🙂
2. Student Loans
1% of your student loan balance is counted towards your debt when buying a home (TD Thornton). If you are not actively paying the income driven repayment plan. It is a good idea to make sure that you are actively paying off the balance with an Income Driven Repayment Plan to provide a set monthly student loan expense. This can be calculated as much less of an expense as opposed to the 1% consideration. This makes a tremendous difference when qualifying for a mortgage. Remember, the less you have to pay in bills monthly, the more mortgage you will be qualified for.
3. Move Credit Cards to Personal Loan
D. Pullara, relationship officer at my local credit union suggests one way to improve my credit just before applying for a home loan is to move my credit card balances to a personal loan. This should boost my credit score and allow me to pay a smaller interest rate and make smaller monthly payments. The goal is to keep my monthly expenses low. Personally, I am not quite comfortable with debt consolidation and would prefer to continue applying the snowball effect to my credit card debts but this was an honorable mention in the event you need to know how credit score can be boosted just before applying for a home loan.
4. Refinance Car for Longest Term
The goal is to receive lowest payment. A car loan can be refinanced, just like a personal loan on credit cards, to provide a lower monthly payment. When the loan is in the home stretch of ten months, the car loan does not count towards debt (D Pullara).
4. Save for Down Payment and Closing Cost
Though many may be quailified for a grant to aide in the down payment of a loan, many will not be able to be qualified and will have to find the money otherwise. Down payments can be 6-8% of purchase price. Dey, a member relationship officer from another of my Credit Unions says one mistake many people make when considering buying a home is forgetting about all the additional fees.
5. Consider The Climate of the Home Buying Market
It is November 2021 and we are in a sellers market. In my interpretation of this, it is harder for the buyer to negotiate and will more than likely have to be ready to make an impressive offer. My deduction, take a little more time to get ready than to force the situation when funds are low.
Full disclosure: This is not financial advise but merely things to consider based on my own personal situation. Please consult your bank to get an evaluation based on your unique financial situation.
Before we see other’s inability in pursuing the purchase of a home as pointless, it may be good to understand that many people are correcting some of the mistakes that have been made in the past and will need time to rearrange their priorities. Rushing someone into purchasing a home can be a vulnerable situation and instead, encouraging persons to address their financial woes first would be a more pleasant experience.