Thursday, December 11, 2008

I used to love to hate my body

Growing up i was told that the way you look does not matter. I guess to prove that point, my dad thought it would be funny to make fun of us. He would make fun of our forehead, our weight… My dad used to say that when he looks at me he knows that beauty is not hereditary. Hahaha... So i grew up hiding my curves and focusing on my school. Yet, secretly I always admired women that were comfortable in their own skin. There is something so sexy about a woman accepting her body for what it is and playing up her assets. For a very long time, I walked around knowing that I was cute but wanting so much more. Here was my wish list:

1. Have a 6 pack stomach
2. Have smaller hips
3. Have bigger boobs
4. Have smaller feet (size 7 preferably)
5. Have long and curly hair
6. Have flawless skin
7. Be a size 6
The end product would have been a mixture of Beyonce and Halle Berry.

I would not say that i hated my body. I just disliked some parts of it; would have gladly traded it for another one. I would have even gotten a boob job if I was not worry about dying and money. So when i got pregnant and gained 40 pounds i knew then that i should have been happier with the way i looked. Isn't it funny how we don't know what we have until it is gone. I would look at my old pictures and i would get so so sad. I was sad because i had wasted all these years not appreciating the way i looked. Why is it that we act like being “pretty” is something we worked for. Like some babies in the stomach were working extra hard and came out looking prettier than others.

I have spent more time worrying about the way I look than how I can impact the world. I have spent so much time picking myself apart and fearing to be judged that I forgot to see the beauty in me. But that was the past and now i can finally say that i loooooooooooove my body just the way it is. I would not trade it with anyone. (Sorry Beyonce) . I love everything every part of my body. Not in a cocky way but in a loving way. My stretch marks tell a story. The ones on my lower back is the story of my trip to Ivory Coast. Gosh i ate so much on that trip. The one on my stomach are from carrying my 9 pound and 4 ounces baby boy. Don't blame him blame the Indian restaurant i was going to on a daily basis. I love my nappy hair (hope i can say nappy) and understand that no amount of perm or hair extension would make me look like i am mixed. I am not mixed my parents are both from Cameroon and there is not a trace of white in our heritage. So yeah my hair is short and nappy and i love it.

I really can relate to my dear Ophrah who is finally coming out and saying that she has put on some weight. We all knew that already but she feels like she has let the public down. But why should she feel that way! The woman is 50 years old and looking damn good. We do not owe any excuses, apologies to anyone for the way we look. This is ridiculous, if we spend as much time worrying about our internal beauty then the world would be a better place. Here is my understanding, if you are looking for external approval you will never be too thin enough, too light or dark enough, too anything enough simply because beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder. So since it is my body, I choose to be the only opinion that’s relevant. Of course I want my husband to find me attractive but nonetheless that can not and should not dictate the way I feel about me. At the end of the day there is something extremely sexy and attractive about a woman that loves who she is.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Practice what you preach

For so long i have been feeling like something is missing in my life. Almost like i was wasting the talents that God has given me. I have almost started so many businesses; however, they have never felt quite right. I have this thing of wanting to help the helpless; however, i always assumed that i needed to be "somebody" to be able to help. I thought that i needed to finish my master and have my life figured out first. After all, shouldn’t good charity start at home? Yet a part of me still knew I could do more. That God has sent me on earth for more; more than being a daughter, a wife, a student, a mother. I knew that I needed to do something to impact the world in a positive way. So many times we think that someone else, the ophrahs and bill gates of the world will do and should do something. But God has blessed me as much as he has blessed them. I might not be as financially rich as they are but i am also capable to give back. In that spirit I have created a foundation: “One Baby at the time".

Our goal is simple: “we cannot change the whole world but one baby at the time we can get closer to a better world.” The concept is straightforward. I would be collecting baby clothes from mothers that do not need them any longer and would be giving them to those that are in need. See babies grow out of clothes really fast. My son has some clothes that he has only worn once or twice. I am going to get the clothes and wash them, iron them and package them by sex and give them out to mommies in need.
The truth is that when i found out that we were expecting, i panicked. I did not feel we were ready financially, emotionally and all the ....lly you can think of. Still, the financially part was what kept me up at night. I truly did not think we will be OK. God knows i was wrong. So many came together and threw us the most amazing baby shower. We got more than we could ever imagine and for that i would be forever grateful.

I know they are mothers out there that are not as lucky as we were. They are still wondering what their babies are going to wear. Through" one baby at the time" we would be able to provide some relief to these moms. However, I cannot do this alone and I need your help. So here it is if you want to help. They are three easy ways:

1. You can donate baby's clothes or/and
2. You can pass the word around or/and
3. You can nominate someone you know that would be blessed by these clothes. (The identity of the person would remain confidential)

If you have any suggestions please feel free to comment.
If you want to nominate someone you know my personal e-mail address is

Sunday, November 23, 2008

To my African people

With Obama winning, a lot of questions have been brought up by my African people. My mother for one, thought that as of January 20th all the illegal immigrants would automatically get papers. Even though I have told her that it does not work that way here in the USA, I think she still has hope. The truth is that President elect Obama is in a very tough spot. I doubt that the American public would take it lightly if he decides to do favors to Africans. The reality is that he is an American citizen first and his priority is and should be to solve the many issues that this country is going through. Still, I believe that president elect Obama has given us Africans the biggest gift we can possibly have. He has given the African continent a new and positive image; the rest however is in our hands.

I have been in this country for seven years and I have to say that I am not impressed
with my people's behavior and attitude. While some are doing some great and amazing things, others are lounging around. It's like we (Africans) do not like to endorse something or someone until it becomes successful. I have seen this time and time again. How many of us have an aunt that has a business here in the country and we do not even carry a flyer with us. How many have a cousin that has a talent and every day we are bringing him down? How many of us had endorse president elect Barack Obama at the very beginning, when it looked like he could not win. Better yet, when it even looked like he could win, how many of us sent money to his campaign? One last thing, how many of us are going to the inauguration in January? Also, why is it that the minute we become successful we decide to treat our own people like second class citizens. All of a sudden they are no longer good enough to work with. Well, it is time for us to take responsibility for our actions.

I used to get offended when people would say that all Africans are crooks. However, I now understand that we play a great part in perpetuating this stereotype. How many headlines have we seen with my people robbing a bank in this country or doing some shady business, or sending some funny e-mails. I am not mad about the people back home that are hustling and are suffering and resort to any means to make it. I can understand the situation back home being hopeless in many instances. But i am upset with my African brothers and sisters here who have taken this laid back attitude. We are known for parties but the minute someone is trying to ask for money for a project that would help our people all the excuses come out. " oooh, i don't have any money... "Or " please is someone paying my bills in this country" My favorite one is " yeah right, I know that guy, he is not going to send any money, he wants to use it to buy his new car..." I know those excuses too well because I have buried myself behind some of them.

However, it is time for us to stand up and stop the excuses. Stop pointing fingers at the white man as a justification to why we are where we are. I am not naive into thinking that they do not have a big part to play in where the continent is right now. Yet, the youth here in this country has no reasons not to do something productive. I am frustrated with all the young people that come here with no dreams. I am sick of some of my people wasting their lives doing ridiculous things. Like buying cars that they cannot afford or houses that are too big just to show of; or trying to fit in so hard that we lose ourselves. We need to go back to the basics. We need to change our thinking. We need to know that when one of us screws up it puts all of us in a tough spot. We need to know the sacrifices that our parents had to do to send us here. Trust me every parent that sent their child to this country has so much hope. For every child sent here they are thousands that are left behind wanting to be in that position. For each one of us here there is a whole family praying and hoping that you make it. I have yet to see us fighting for something that matters. The most I have seen us fight is about someone stepping on someone's shoes at a party, Or someone taking someone's girlfriend. But, there are wars going on in many of our countries. How many of us are actually doing something about it. Look at the Hispanic population fighting for their rights. Look at the gay and lesbians population raging hell for their rights. Look at how the African Americans rallied behind Obama. I am sick and tired to be invited to parties that have no purpose. If we can go pop champagnes at a club and make other people rich, then we can come together and do something productive for our people.

I too have a dream. I dream of the day that Africa would no longer be looked upon as a country but a s continent. I too dream of a day where my son would be proud to say I am African. I too dream of that day where my dear continent would be a force to be reckoned with. But it starts now, with each one of us taking responsibility for the image that we are portraying to the world. Here are little steps we can all take:
1. We start by supporting each other. What does it take to promote each other's businesses?
2. Stop thinking that someone else is going to come and change our countries for us. We are the future.
3. Start fighting for what we want instead of complaining.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Love takes time

I was watching today's Oprah show about SEX. I found out that I have been mistaken for a long time.
I always thought that you should love your partner as you would want to be love. You know the bible old saying about do to others what you would want done to you. I followed this bible principle into my relationships. I was so proud of myself. I would spend time doing all the things I wanted to be done to me. For example, I would write nice little notes telling my husband how wonderful I think he is. I have never wondered if he actually enjoys these gestures. I assume that since I would love it then he would too. How very self centered of me.
What i found out watching the show was that there is a language of love that we all have. So instead of doing the things that i would like done to me, i should ask him what gestures equate to love for him.
Can you imagine? I have been wrong all these years. I mean i consider myself pretty good at this love thing but i was completely wrong. So i am on a new mission: learn my sweetheart language of love. This should be interesting....

What about you, Do you know your significant other language of love or were you as clueless as i was?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

baby's etiquette

Before I had a baby, I was really clueless on what to do, say or bring when I was going to visit someone that had a baby. When I saw new moms I felt strange, a little bit out of place. The whole pregnancy and giving birth thing really freaked me out; almost like they were part of their own club. So if you have ever felt that way, unsure on what to do when you go visit a newborn, here are some tips.

1. Gifts are a new mom best friend. If you are wondering what to bring to the new mom, I think that it is pretty unanimous that diapers or wipes are a great gift. I do not know any mom that will turn away diapers. If you are not sure about what size or what brand to buy, feel comfortable calling the mom and asking her. Better yet, you can always call her and say that you were thinking about getting her diapers but is there something else she would rather have you bring. Trust me we always need something. It is funny because when you have a child any trip to the store that you do not have to take is a blessing.

2. We need our rest. The first week that a mommy comes home, she needs her rest. I have never been as exhausted as I was the first week home. It’s like your hormones are raging and your body is soooooooooooo soared. Maybe the best comparison would be you feel like you were hit by a truck. Furthermore, you have so many expectations that you want to fulfill. For me I know that I wanted to be the perfect mom, wife and hostess. The problem is that your body just won’t let you. So here is the truth, even though we loooooooooooove to have people around, we still must rest. The best compromise would be to respect visiting hours. So no midnight visits

3. Compliments are a mom best friend. This could be the only time I ask people to lie. But yes we want compliment. So telling us something like “oooh you still look pregnant” is just not acceptable. That's the last thing we want to hear. Trust me we just spent 9 months pregnant we do not want to look pregnant. So yeah, I am asking you to lie if you have to.

4. Cleaniless is the key. Since we are on the subject of look. Please make sure you are looking clean and presentable. To my fellow ladies, watch what you wear. The truth is that most of us when we just give birth we can be a little paranoid. When you are coming to visit a baby, please abstain from wearing something too revealing.

5. Hand sanitizer. Use the hand sanitizer without making a scene. I am always perplexed why this is such a problem. People sometimes take it personal and I wonder why. Babies are sooooo susceptible to germs; please don't be offended if you are asked to use the hand sanitizer. Some moms have a hard time even telling people to do so, so use your discretions and do that anyway. If there is none available please just wash your hands. It shows that you care about the wellbeing of the baby.

6. No kissing of the baby on the lips. I am so sorry, but as much as babies are cuties, you can not kiss someone's baby on the lips. It is wrong on so many levels. I heard a story that horrified me. Someone kissed a baby on the lips not knowing that they had Hepatitis B and passed it to the baby. The baby got it and was paralyzed. So I know that the temptation can be there but don’t do it. No kissing on the lips. Also, ladies, babies love to suck on things. They will try to lick your skin. So please be aware especially if you are wearing makeup. Also, if you have a cold or you are coughing, postpone your visit, we will understand.

7. Right to have an epidural. I took the epidural so mind you I could be bias. I have heard so many times: “ooooh so you took the epidural, uhm, well you know the side effect. I mean if you were in Cameroon you would have pushed..." Well to start with, I feel like the decision to take the epidural should be left to the person giving birth. Also, if you think that it is not a good idea, you should keep it to yourself. There is nothing degrading with opting to take an epidural.

8. Don't forget the fathers. The fathers are heroes in their own right and too many times they are forgotten. They are there from the beginning; they take all the mood swings. They are the ones that hold our hands through most of it. So it is always nice to keep that in mind when preparing your visit.

9. No parties .Don't invite the couple to parties the same week as the baby is born. I am sorry but that is just not to thoughtful. They need time to bond as a family.

These are just a few suggestions, please let me know if you can think of anything else.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

No longer a good fit

I have been going trough some changes in the past year. Within a year I graduated from college, found my soul mate, we bought a house, got married and had a baby. During this process I have realized that friends in many respects can be compared to shoes.

There is the last minute shoe. The one you probably bought in a rush because it would match your outfit. You did not spend too much money on it or time before you bought it. Well, i have bought many of those shoes. Sometimes they were a size too small or too big but I was in a hurry and it matched my outfit. I wore them that night for the party and it hurt like hell and I never went back to wearing that shoe again. The same goes with some friends/acquaintances. You might have those "acquaintance/friends" that you always meet at parties and you guys are cool and stuff but it stops there. You might not even know their names and do not have their phone number but for some reason you guys always end up at the same parties.

There are also the shoes that you buy because that's all you can afford. I called it my “I wish shoe”. It's the fake coach, Gucci… shoe that you buy while waiting to get the real one.FYI there are some really good fake out there. However, even though no one else might know, you know that you are wearing a fake. You can dress it up, hook it up, yet it still remains a fake. Well we have some friends like that. The friend that you got because she was sitting next to you in class everyday and would always let you copy off her. The friend that was driving before you did and always gave you a ride. The friend that was popular and because of her you were also popular. The friend that was single when you were single and you guys could hate on all the guys together. The problem with these friends is that once the commodity that was keeping you together is gone, so is the friendship. SO what happened to the friend with whom you hated on all the men with when you fall in love and get married? What happens to the one that was giving you rides when you get a car? The same thing that happens to your fake coach shoes when you got the real one. You can either toss them to the curve or try to keep them in the back of the closet for old time sake.

Then you have the designer shoes; the one that you only wear for special occasions. The one you would get in a fight for because you waited way too long to buy it for someone to step on it. That's the friend that has everything you think you want to be “when you grow up". That's the friend around who you feel a little bit insecure, the one that seem to have it all. As much as you love that friend you still can't help it but to envy her a little bit.

However, my favorite shoe of all time did not cost me much. This shoe goes with all my outfits and is extremely comfortable yet classy. I have worn the shoe so much that he has become a signature look for me. The shoe has been well worn and has the stains to prove it. It is my maverick shoes. I can wear that shoe all day every day but because I love it so much i am cautious of not abusing my lovely shoes. I bought my maverick shoe when I had little money, and I was still so naive about the world. Yet these shoes have grown with me. This is the equivalent of a best friend. When I first met this friend I had no idea that we will end up here today. It was not like with the designer shoe where it was love at first sight. With this friend we had disagreement from the get go but we always manage to stick together. I have been close enough to this friend to see her flaws and her qualities. You know it’s not like the designer shoes that you buy because its a designer shoe, just to find out that it hurts worst than your one night shoe. Nooooooo, this friend has been studied and life has tested her and me. Even now, with my life totally different than when we met, she still fits in perfectly .

I have heard so many times that when you get married you loose a lot of your friends. Well that has been the case for me but I do not think that it is because I got married. I think that some of the relationships started changing a while back simply because I started changing. It has been tough for me especially because I hold my friends dearly to my heart. So when I was going through some of the changes in my life and some of those friends were not there it was really hard for me. My mom mentioned to me the other day that I also need to take responsibilities for some of the falling out. It is true that I do not have as much time as I used to. My conversations are always interrupted by my little one who does not care if I am talking on the phone. I also probably talk way too much about him with others. It is a fact I have changed even though I like to think of it as evolving. So many of the friends I used to have might not know how to adapt to the new me. Heck sometimes I do not know how to adapt to the new me. Yet I can not help but to be upset with them. Maybe I am trying to hold on to something that is no longer there. Maybe I want to turn my occasion shoes into my maverick shoe. I guess it is time to let it go, you know have a spring cleaning in my closet. It could be time to throw away all the one night only shoes and the fake designer shoes and make room for the real things in my life. I guess it is not so much about quantity it is about quality. Maybe there is no blame to put on me or the shoes, after all it is not our fault if we are no longer a fit.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The audacity of hope

I have been a big fan of president-elect Barack Hussein Obama from the beginning. I read his two books. I think reading dreams from my fathers was life changing. The truth is that i never thought that i would live to see a black president. It is hard for me to put into words what his victory represents for me.

I have spent my whole life talking about people needing to follow their dreams and living their destiny. As of me, i have always known that i was born to be succesful and impact others. However, what amazed me about barack obama story is his audacity. You know they are dreams and they are dreams. How can a " skinny kid with a funny name" dream to be the president of the united states? I mean maybe some of us have thought about it vaguely before but it's one thing to think in your head and it is another to say it out loud. I am amazed. I wonder how that conversation went when he told his wife. I mean if my husband ( lets say for argument sake he was a senator)came to me and said that he wanted to run for president, i would laugh. I would tell him: " honey i believe in you but this country is not ready for a black president, so please lets save time, energy and shame; just forget about it. Trust me, i know what i 'm talking about"

How many of us have heard that kind of argument for an idea or a dream we have had. I know i have heard it many times from others. The truth is that it is not so much what others are saying about our ideas that hurt , it is the fact that what they are saying is a reflection of our own fears. Sometimes i don't even say my dreams out loud because i have killed them all by myself. At this point, i do not even let myself dream anymore. This takes me back to my question, how did this " skinny kid with a funny name" manage to dream that kind of dream. I mean wanting to be the president of the united states of America. Let's just look at it logically. His father is a foreigner from kenya ( we all know how people view Africa) , his mother is a "regular person". He is not extremely crazily rich, he is young with not much experience and yeah he is black. May i say that the odds were against him. But still he had the audacity of hoping, of dreaming that he of all people could maybe become the president of the united states of America.

Barack Obama story makes me question all the excuses i have used not to follow my dreams. I have so many of them. When i was single i used to say that i wanted to be married first so that my success would not come in the way of finding true love. Now that i am married i say that having a child makes it a bit difficult to follow my dreams. Yet the truth is that i am scared of failure or better yet maybe i am scared of success. Barack obama has put me to shame and has taken away all my fears. I now want to go back to dreaming like when i was a child. I want to go back to believing that i could be a senator. I want to go back to believing that maybe i can be a lawyer. I want to go back to believing that i do not have to be one specific thing , that i can ecxell in many different arena. That truly the sky is the limit. I wan to affect and help change the lives of women, the weak and the children. I want to believe that one day my name would be recorded in the history books. God knows i used to dream as a child, i truly believed that i could do anything with God help.

So when i heard that Barack Obama won, i cried. I cried for all the black americans that have struggled in this country. I cried for all the whites that made this possible, that look beyond race and that said we can not take back what we did in the past but we can start making things right now. I cried for my african continent that all of the sudden became something hot. I cried for all the broken dreams i have ever had. I cried like i knew Barack Obama personally.