Ngala-Najla

I Celebrate Myself…


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Pt. I – Acknowledgement

I am sitting here on the sofa, with incense permeating the air, being introspective. I needed to write. I remember praying and asking God for some guidance and what came to me was that I should write. A vision of the journal that I only wrote in when I was at some emotional extreme came before me.

The house is hauntingly quiet. The ticking of the clock and the clicking of the keys on the keyboard are the loudest sounds in the house–I am home alone.

I watched an excerpt of an interview with Paul Newman and Barbara Walters and she asked him last year, at the age of 82, if he lived the life he wanted to live and he answered,”I have lived a lot more.” Right now, without a job, without the knowledge of what comes next, I wonder about living my dreams, of living my life to the fullest. Now, I feel as if I am paralyzed, emotionally paralyzed–stuck in the quagmire of victimhood. I do not feel like this everyday and yes, some days, maybe most days, I am exuberant about life, but I also have to acknowledge the effect that doing something has on me, of how having a title influences my own sense of worth. I often internally cringe at the question, “So, what do you do?” And as months drift further and further away from my graduation date, the answer of being a recent graduate may soon run its course.

Now, as a person who is rational at times, I do not desire rational thought at this moment. I am admitting my inner fears and being real about them. I do not seek comfort, nor advice. I simple desire a podium to speak.

It is the best of times and the worse of times for me: having a lot of free time on my hands but having no clue of when I will be welcomed into the fold of being an ordinary, everyday working person in this world. Yes, I know that maybe in the future I will look back at this time with envy, when loads of work are due and I am sleep deprived. Right now, however, I seek balance. In my prayer for guidance, I ask for having the sense to honor this moment, this gift. However, on some days, like this one, I am not logical and instead of fighting this feeling, I will acknowledge it and then move on.

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Boys Don’t Cry

My nephew has a friend who he really adores. This past weekend she stayed over with us. It was a joy. Her mother needed a break after she (the daughter) decided to call 911 because she “needed a friend.” My sister thought that I could use my social work skills to talk to her. The little girl is going through a lot– her mother has cancer and she is scared. This time away was good for both of them.

So, my nephew was so happy to have her around that every now and again he would put his arms around her to give her a hug ( this happens every time she visits). Here is a conversation that occurred one of the times he placed his arm around her:

K: “S, why do you keep hugging me, S?”

S: ” Because I love you, K. I love you”

It was that simple: he loved her and he wanted to show it. I looked at the two of them and thought to myself that I hope that he continues to communicate his feelings openly and freely. That even when society tells him that he should hide who he is, or how he is suppose to feel, that he will express it without feeling afraid to. I hope he knows that boys do cry and that it is okay to cry.

I read an article on The Root about the black male bravado and “the pain that is beneath the swagger.” So, let me say this before I continue: Yes, I am a woman and I may not understand everything about being a man but I believe that we often do not give men the room to be human based on societal expectations. Being an aunt of 3 year-old boy, I hope that we can create a space for dialog for this issue and then change it.


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It’s O.K.

(I wrote this entry a couple of months ago, read it to my sister who simply rolled her eyes. After seeing her response, I placed it in the private folder worried about how others might view me, but I think I am better now. I understand that it was more about pride (that made me not post it) than anything else and more importantly, I am ready to let this weight go. Life is really not that serious. If you roll your eyes, you roll your eyes, but if you connect with this, then I am glad to share a little of my life with you.)

Written: July 13, 2008

I am not sure when it began, the getting up on Sunday mornings and along with reading the headlines of the day, also having to read about couples who were recently joined in holy matrimony. An avid reader of The Times,in the past, I would read or at least skim the online version of the newspaper without care for who was marrying whom. However, something changed around a year and half ago, I began to be obsessed with their stories about meeting each other and prayed for more highlights of people of color. I especially looked for stories that could possibly reflect the outcome of my relationship with the guy I was madly in love with at the time. Then, I started to notice other things as well: young couples passing me by, wondering to myself, “how did they know that each other was the one?” Looking at older couples and paying close attention to the wear on the wedding bands to just simply ask, “How did they do it for so long and are they happy?” Additionally, the sudden increase in impending marriages along with the accompaniment of left hands adorned with diamond rings ( mostly by the woman in my graduate school classes) left me puzzled and honestly, secretly wishing that I was starting a new course in life like they were— with someone to share it with.

As times progressed and disappointment followed, when the guy did not live up to who I thought he was, I started to become mired in self-pity. I saw the loss of him as me missing out of something great and even questioned the authenticity of my own self.

I began to realize that this emotional turmoil was not working for me and that I needed an intensive internal audit of myself. I began various things like walking outdoors, praying, meditating, yoga(ing). Then a shift happened, I began to recognize that my outlook changed, not as an outsider, but as a possible participant in this thing called love. Many realizations came to me, including the realization that I am not missing out, that more than likely, the men at those various times in life, who often shared similar traits of confusion, no strong sense of self and lack of honesty, would have been detrimental to both of us–both half-broken souls.

During some of my yoga meditation sessions I simply chanted,”I am surrounded by love, I am loved,” To remind myself that true love begins within. During my time detoxing, I also noticed the Universe giving me examples of true love—friends who have meaningful relationships with themselves (more importantly) and with their partners. Additionally, a couple of day ago, I came across an article by Veronica Chambers telling me that it is O.K.: the obsession with men in the past, and all the other “stupid” things I did with the guys who did not work out in my life was ok. I read her story about losing love and more importantly finding love. I immediately sent the article to my friend who I knew would appreciate the article, as well.

So, I was not surprised when looking up wedding stories this morning, trying to find out if the guy I was totally obsessed with for months, published his weddings announcement that as soon as I began to mentally reprimand myself for holding on to the past, a voice simply said to me, “It’s ok,” and immediately I understood.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

-1 Corinthians 13:4-7, The Bible


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New Cooking Blog

I am so excited! If it weren’t Ramadan I would go out, buy some of the recipes and cook one of the meals, immediately! I found this awesome blog/website that has great Indian food recipes. The site is called Hooked on Heat: Simple Everyday Modern Indian Cooking. I am talking about some tantalizing recipes. The person who keeps this blog seems to be a working mom. She is so organized and plans meals for the fam’ everyday. A woman after my own heart. I want to be her when I grow up. So, after I am finished with this blog, I’ma continue with my perusing of Hooked on Heat! I came across her site after simply googling the recipe below. Blessed be!

MANGO CHICKEN WITH RED PEPPERS
Prep time: 10 min | Cooking time: 20 min | Serves: 4

2 large boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 large mangoes, diced into cubes
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 medium-sized onion, sliced
1-2 red chillies, finely chopped
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
1/4 cup chicken stock/water
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
2 tbsp light cooking oil
salt, to taste
fresh coriander leaves, chopped for garnish

HEAT oil in a large non-stick wok and saute chopped chillies, ginger-garlic paste and onions till lightly browned.

ADD in chicken pieces, peppers and spices, and stir-fry till chicken is cooked through. Stir in chicken stock and mango, and allow to simmer for a few minutes.

SEASON with salt, and garnish with fresh coriander leaves.


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On a Day Like This

It’s Friday. The sky is mostly overcast with the sun peeking its head through the clouds every now and again. I am so introspective I think I can see me insides. I guess that’s what you get on a day like this. I need to get out of my own head. So, I am dragging myself to see this dark comedy called Towelhead, in Manhattan and then off to my Progressive Muslim group’s iftar.

As I write this blog, I am thinking of one of my favorite bloggers who is taking some time off from writing. I guess that’s what you get when you are honest with yourself and honest with the world: knowing when it is time to just let go. I wish her the best. She’s been hinting at dealing with some emotional stuff in the last couple of posts. I know others who were and are drawn to her are thinking about her as well.


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Between A Rock and A Hard Place

Has this happened to you:  you’re standing next to a rowdy group of teenagers and you contemplate what to do? I had that dilemma today as I waited for a bus in my neighborhood. The students were apparently football players from the neighborhood high school — some were wearing their jerseys. They started to get louder as the minutes rolled on, and when I looked up from my ipod I noticed that a fight was beginning to ensue. The young men began to use curse words without regard for the onlookers of mostly professionals coming from work. For some reason I think the mere fact that there were people around instigated them a little more.

So, my delimma was this: should I step in and stop this? I watched as other men looked on , some shook their heads and one even told them to move in the other direction, away from him. I thought to myself,who will be the one to go to them and tell them to stop, that they are better than that? That they are worthy of so much more than being involved in chaos on a street corner? Who?

Watching this I had an internal conversation with myself. The conversation ranged from these young men needing a stronger sense of self worth, to me acknowledging my own fear of retaliation by the young men if I intercepted, to even being ticked off at the men who were standing there as the young brothers denied themselves of some self respect. However, I also knew that these men were coming from a hard day’s work , wanting nothing more than to go home to their own families. Who was I to judge? Eventually the police came over to break up the brawl. When I placed the earphones back in my ears, Bob Marley’s “Craven Choke Puppy” was playing. As I boarded the B6, the words so erringly fitted the mood:

“So you want all for yourself alone
And you don’t think about the other man
Let me tell you my friend if you gonna live this life
It’s not good for you to build strife

Craven a-go choke puppy

Want all lose all
Then I know the wicked must fall
And getty, getty no want it


The craven dog will lose his bone
The craven dog will (whoo) lose his bone
(whoo)
Grafting after (whoo) something (whoo) else (whoo)
Can’t take it for themselves alone
They don’t think about the other man (whoo)
The old time people say (wow – wow – wow – wow),
wanty – wanty cyaan get it, yeah!”

He said, “They don’t think about the other man,” is that what we were doing as onlookers? Just caring about our own lives? I still do not have the answer.


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Stuck

Have you ever watched a lab rat in a maze? A lot of times the rat takes the same route over and over again, ending up in the same place it was before. Sometimes I feel like that lab rat– so close to getting over stuff( i.e. making it through the maze) but yet so far away ( taking the same emotional route, over and over again).

So, how do you get unstuck? I ask myself that from time to time especially when I am stuck, “How the heck do I keep this from happening again?” Am I making sense here? We get stuck in the past from time to time, whether it is a past relationship, a time when you were slimmer or when you actually had money, anything that made you feel worthy at that time. I find myself reminiscing on things in the past… And I so wanna let go! Yet, with that, I know that in order for me to really let go, I have to be ready to let go. The thing is, I think I am letting go– no matter how slow the process is going for me. Yes, there are days when I reminisce a little longer, but those days are getting further and further apart from one another. With this I know that one day, I will eventually find myself out of this mental maze, without even looking back.