Friday, September 22, 2017

Divorce Vows



Did y'all watch Marlon on NBC? It was so good! The premise is that Marlon and ex wife Ashley are divorced and raising their kids.  Marlon is way comfortable and always at the house and basically wants his cake and to eat it too; all out here being bachelor up in these streets but still wants to come home to his family when he feels like it. You know the usual....man stuff.

It's actually a cute show. On the season finale he tries to take Ashley, his ex wife on a date on their anniversary. For the sake of the kids, Ashley has been going along with most of these shenanigans because they are good friends.  Ashley says she doesn't want to celebrate with him this year but Marlon lures her to the restaurant where they had their first date anyway.  And they have the following exchange:

Marlon: "I'm sorry if in our marriage I didn't follow through with promises but in divorce I promise you I will."

Ashley: "And I promise you I'll hold you to that."

Marlon then jokes that they just have divorce vows and someone should say "You may now kick the groom."

I chuckled and thought hmmmmm this could be something, divorce vows could really be a thing.

This arrangement/friendship/happily divorced thing doesn't make sense to everyone but it makes sense to them.  Gwyneth Paltrow called it consciously uncoupling and the concept had folks scratching their heads.

Here's the thing my good people, come closer so you can hear me, it is possible!

You don't have to hate the person you were once married to.  You can actually be friends, give each other advice, and all that stuff that society tells you is impossible.  I had breakfast with my ex-husband and his girlfriend recently.  It was our son's graduation and I decided I didn't need any awkwardness for my son's special achievement.  That simple.

Lets be clear, this is a process and y'all ain't gonna be friends right away.  There's gonna be lots of anger and you need to feel it but somewhere down the line anger dissipates and friendship returns especially when kids are involved.

The best part is that you don't have to deal with all the things that worked your nerves anymore. You're an outside spectator now and have a front seat to all the habits that used to drive you insane. It's quite entertaining.

My divorce vows would be, "I promise to not freak out about you being late all the time and not showing up for all the important things because I don't have to and I'll be there anyway."

How bout that?!

Can you imagine what these celebrity divorce vows would be?  Ha!




Thursday, March 16, 2017

Facing Giants


I turned 40.

Life happened and I faced more challenges than I can recount. I really thought it would be smooth sailing after 40, HA!!! What's that saying about making plans? Yeah that.

If you follow me outside real life and know a little about me then you know I am a runner. I laced up 4 years ago and haven't looked back.  I couldn't run 2 blocks when I started then before you know it I was running 5Ks, 10Ks, 15Ks, 10 milers and half marathons and enjoyed it.

Something else happened after entering this new decade.  I felt a shift in my mind.  I remember the first time I ran and thought there is no way I can run 3 miles but I stuck with it and did! 

I ran my first 5K and ran many more. I looked at my run buds and thought they were crazy for wanting to run anything more. Then came the shift, I thought yeah I can run 6 miles.  And I did.  The more I ran the more my body became acclimated and the more upping the miles didn't feel like Goliath.  I got up to 13.1 miles and stayed there. My core sole sisters went further one by one and I cheered them on but I wasn't there yet. I was content on the sidelines.

My first half marathon was in 2014 and considered Atlanta's toughest one. I wasn't afraid because I trained for it. I remember looking at the course map and thinking, "THESE CRAZY PEOPLE RUNNING THE FULL MARATHON ARE RUNNING TO DECATUR!"  Not me! Keep your crazy over there.

Last year running 26.2 miles suddenly didn't feel like something only crazy people did. I felt the shift and I signed up.  In 3 days I will be running my first marathon!!!!  And I am running it with hundreds of my cuzzins from all over the US, Zambia and Quatar.  One fierce woman named Heather King had a vision to run the 2017 Publix Marathon in Atlanta with as many African-Americans as she could and a movement was born. Here we are all 425 of us about to make history.  



I started training in November, yes girl in the Winter! For 18 weeks I have been training and it hasn't been easy. My focus has been on 1000 and I am proud of myself.  Back in 2014 my body was ready but my mind wasn't. All my mind could handle was 13.1 miles.  Presently, my mind is ready but girl this body! I'm feeling all 4 decades in these knees! But I haven't quit, I've shown up and proved what I can do.

I'm facing my giant.  I am facing 26.2 miles. I am calm.

The little Ndola girl who loved to run fast and won all her track races until around age 9 when her chest developed and the crowd of boys formed at the finish line for a front row view so she put that passion on the shelf.

The young Wife and Mother who devoted her life to her family and lost herself in the shuffle.

The divorced Mother of 2 teenagers who felt them gaining their independence and needed to find something to fill her time because she had seen too many lost empty-nesters and didn't want to be lost in the shuffle again.

I found running.

I found my people.

I haven't looked back since.






Friday, June 3, 2016

Energy, Babies, Birthdays, The Middle and 40 things I've Lived Through

I love babies.  I love their new baby smell, their little bodies, their cries, the peace that fills your soul when you hold them, their little eyes, the way they grip your thumb with their teeny weeny hands. Even when they cry I love soothing them and assuring them that everything will be just fine. I almost considered being a volunteer at the Hospital to rock the babies in some ward that needed it but then overthought it when my mind got away from me and found itself in that "What if I get attached to one and I come back one day and the baby is no longer there not because the baby got well but because the baby didn't?"  There are things I have known about myself for many decades and one is that my heart simply cannot handle that.  In an instant I saved myself from the imagined heartbreak all the while robbing myself from the delight that rocking those babies would have brought me.  I am all kinds of complex and I made peace with that a very long time ago.

I love babies.  Just me? Fine. I love babies.

What I especially love about these new members of our planet is how they read energy.  Babies don't lie.  They can sense whatever it is you are covering up and will promptly not want a thing to do with you.  They will cry their loudest cry to get away from your bad energy.  They also do this thing where they are drawn to good energy and want some of it.  How many times have you heard a Parent say little Shiloh won't go to anyone but wants this new person to hold him and cries when they try to get him out of said person's arms?

Yeah, energy. That thing is realer than a mofo.

I turned 40 this year.  Yup, right there on May 1st I entered that age we thought was the end of it all when we were 8.  New Year's Day and seeing 2016 just pushed in me into overdrive and all I talked about from then till May 1st was I'm turning 40 this and I'm turning 40 that.  My people's grew weary of hearing about it but because they love me, they dealt with me.

I even did something I have never done in my entire life and threw myself a party. Me!!! This is an important detail cause as much I love my birthday and want a big deal to be made of it, I reserve that for my parents, siblings, kids and a significant other if there is one.  Fact: quickest way to lose my interest is to NOT acknowledge my birthday as the greatest day on earth.  Back to the party, yeah that was a huge deal for me to ask others to acknowledge and celebrate me and I am grateful that they did. Speeches were made about me (my sister's especially brought me to tears cause of reasons and if you want to catch up go back and read previous blogs) and I got sang to.  I truly got my flowers that day and it was everything I needed.

And then the day came and went and that was that. Isn't that funny how that goes.

I've maybe said I turned 40 once or twice in conversation since then.  While I'm happy to be here on the other side of 39, something feels different.  I've felt like an adult since forever ago, I was married with 2 kids at 25 but since crossing over, I just feel like a bona fide adult and like this is the starting line of the marathon and on the way to the finish line.

Now girl I need you to come back to me.  I know I lost you there for a minute.  No, I'm not saying I'm on my way out because I'm so old and my bones creek when I walk and I can barely see and barely remember anything!  Calm down!  What I am saying is that if I live to 80 and beyond then here I am at the middle. The middle.  When you're 10 and excited to make double digits finally, 18 and grown and know everything and don't need anyone to tell you anything, 27 and coming into your own finally making some real money and better decisions, the middle seems way over there.

But here I am at the middle with nothing but possibility in front of me.  I say the starting line of a marathon because I am about to train for my first one and let me tell you, you don't get through 26.2 miles with just your two feet carrying you without a strategy of some sort.  With just my feet I hope to complete it under 6 hours but in keeping with this life metaphor, I hope each mile is another 2 or 3 years of my life and I gotta plan and enjoy each and every one of them to the fullest and make this life thing count.

The middle also makes you look back and see just what you've been doing up until now.  I realized that a lot of things that are in history books or will make it to them are actually things I have lived through and that made me smile.  So here they are, 40 things I have lived through in 40 years of living:

1.  Michael Jackson (Jackson 5, Off the Wall, THRILLER, Bubbles, Prince, Paris, and Blanket, BET Awards with James Brown, Scream, and This is It).  All the stages man, all of them.

2.  I was 4 when Zimbabwe became the last African country to gain independence. (Namibia and Eritrea don't count Historians because they gained independence of other African countries).

3.  President Samora Machel's death.  In 1986 at school while we were lined up after recess, it was announced that Mozambican President had died from a plane crash.  That may have been my first realization that death was an actual thing.

4.  Madonna performing at the 1st ever MTV Music Awards in 1984 in a wedding dress.  Yes girl I know we are salty about current state Madonna and her half tribute to the Purple one and all, but girl in 1984 even in Ndola, Zambia, my eyes were glued to that TV screen!

5.  In 1993 the Zambian National soccer team lovingly known as Chipolopolo all died in a plane crash on their way to a FIFA qualifier game in Senegal.  The plane went down in Gabon.  I remember that day so clearly, I was walking back home from hanging out and an eerie quiet fell upon my hometown. We all stopped and heard the news.  My father had just at the last minute not gone on that flight.

6.  The internet! Girl, not the singing group but theeee internet.  Boys and girls once upon a time everything you wanted was not at your fingertips and you couldn't connect with people all over the world just by logging into your social media.  Nope, there was no internet and you had to wait weeks for a letter to get to another country.

7.  Nelson Mandela being released from prison in 1993 and then becoming the President of the very country that imprisoned him with such dignity.

8.  Kerri Strug performing at the 1996 Olympics with her broken ankle and winning the gold with her team!

9.  Kobe taking Brandy to his prom in 1996.

10.  In 1998 two little girls from Compton named Venus and Serena burst on the tennis scene and took over the sport and have won everything ever since!  It amazes me to no end that they are still dominating to this day! #blackexcellence #blackgirlmagic

11.  9/11/2001.  It was my second day back from maternity leave and I watched in horror as planes crashed into the World Trade Center.  Then the towers came down.  I refused to fly for many years after that and got anxiety every time I saw a plane fly by.

12.  Lorena Bobbitt put every man on notice in 1993 when she did what every woman has thought of doing at least once! You would have thought that would have taught them but here they are still acting a fool.

13.  In 1981, President Ronald Reagan was shot and survived.

14,  President Bill Clinton and the sexual relations he did not have with that woman.

15. President BARRACK HUSSEIN OBAMA!  Not once but twice!!!!  Man that November night in 2008 is one I will never ever forget!  The only reason I finally decided to become a citizen and VOTE!

16. Michelle Obama! Girl, what? Game changer. Bar set waaayyyy up!

17.  Tupac and Biggie.

18.  1990's Hip Hop and R&B.  Hype Williams videos and alla that.  Lissen, that was a good time.

19.  Silicon Valley.  Girl these nerdy kids done developed everything we needed and got rich as hell in the process!

20. The m'fucking recession!!!!

21.  Michael Jordan greatness.  All of it.

22.  Magic Johnson and Eazy-E announcements.

23.  Flava Flav reality show and that chick that shit herself on national TV.

24.  The Osbourne's on MTV and the birth of ______________??? What was Ozzy saying?

25.  Milli Vanilli.  Gurl you know it's true, girl you know, girl you, girl, girl, girl!!!  Oops you gotta blame it on something.

26. In 2003 a tired tiger was over it and bit Roy of Seigfried & Roy right there in the middle of their show.

27.  Caitlyn Jenner.

28.  OJ Simpson and the glove that didn't fit.  I was in college and had no clue who Juice was much to the dismay of every black college student around me.  Hey, I was new to the country and had never watched football.

29.  Ellen saying she was gay on her TV show and it making history in 1997.

30.  2004 Thailand Tsunami.

31.  That knee-grow Rae Carruth had his pregnant girlfriend murdered because he didn't want to pay child support in 2001.  Guess who will be released in 2018? Girl, girl, girl.

32.  AOL dial up connection.

33.  The brilliance of Steve Jobs.  It all started in 1976.

34.  Kentucky Wildcats win national championships in 1996, 1998, and 2012.  I was clueless on how big this thing was and I used to work the front desk at the Wildcat Lodge and just thought Walter, Derick, Ron, Mark and them were just normal folks. Someone asked me to work for them that night in 1996 at another dorm and I thought why not?  Extra hours as a college student was always a good idea.  Cut to 1 AM and folks were out there acting a fool on Euclid and in the dorms burning cars and what not.  What a night!  What a memory.  CATS! CATS! CATS!  Yeah, I bleed blue.

35.  Mike Tyson biting Evander's ear in 1997.

36.  Oprah becoming a Billionaire and having the longest running Talk Show on TV.

37.  Lauryn Hill and The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.  G.O.A.T.  #Stan

38.  Flo-Jo! Those outfits, that face, that body!  She still holds the record for fastest women's 100 m time at 10.49 seconds in 1988.

39.  The 8-track (I don't remember this one at all), records, cassette's and CD's. I've lived through them all.  Before Apple Music kids, we had these options.

40.  The beauty of Princess Diana.  The Royal Wedding in 1981. I watched it.  Her death.  Seeing her kids flourish and watching it all over again with another Royal Wedding in 2011 with Kate and William.  Who knows one day I may see a 3rd one when Princess Charlotte gets married.


Fascinating stuff!

So yeah, I'm 40.  I'm here in the middle and at the starting line.  And my goal is to become like the babies I love so much.  I gotta get back to reading energy and seeking out the good energy and fleeing as fast as my feet will carry me from the bad.

Onward!




Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Love and Ringtones

It's still the month of love, right?

You know what good love makes you do? It makes you want to carry that feeling with you that that person gives you when you're not with them.

You look for a reminder throughout the day of that person to bring a smile to your face or make your heart skip a beat.

Some folks stalk Facebook profiles, go back 238 weeks on Instagram, heck go to their LinkedIn profiles and see what they were doing in 1999.  I just don't have time for that so I do the next best thing, I pick a ringtone.

Music is life to me and I am a lyric person so a lot of thought goes into picking the perfect ringtone.

There was Ledisi's "I Blame You" when I finally stuck my toe back in the dating pool and found someone to hang out with longer than a day or 2.  This one actually stuck and after a month of being a couple I went ahead and assigned the ringtone.  The lyrics were exactly what I was feeling and it was because of him that I was smiling more and in a happy place.

Then when I really, really, really fell head over heads there was Brandy's "Wildest Dreams."   Listen Linda, listen you couldn't tell me nothing. This was it. Game over. Thanks God. You sent him. Thank you and goodnight. Everything I have ever wanted and dreamed of are here and Brandy reminds me of this every time he calls.

The happy ringtones are everything when things are good but honey when things go left, that whole song puts a frown on your face and you never want to hear it again.  The struggle!

It took me forever to sit through those songs after they were no longer my ringtones and feel good about them.

A ringtone also can serve as a reminder of what you don't want anymore and an empowerment theme. Keyshia Cole's "Enough of No Love" was my ringtone for a good 2 years post divorce.

Life is a teacher and I am a good student. I take good notes and underline them twice and even highlight the important lessons.

This is my newest highlight - I will never assign a ringtone to any fella cause I love my music way too much.

These days the Apple ringtone is all the love I need.




Thursday, December 31, 2015

Twenty Fifteen - And Another One

I made it through another year's journey, God kept me here and for that I am grateful especially since I lost a dear friend this year and my dear cousin Jane lost her husband just weeks ago.

Started off the year on a high note in love. Beautiful, soul stirring, get me on all levels love.  We had settled into a beautiful relationship and I just knew we were in it for the long haul. Then came the shattering of it all. I wasn't even mad. Just grateful I hadn't wasted years pouring into what would no longer be after just 6 months. Wished him well and sent him right along his merry way. I thanked him for the memories and appreciated the purpose he served.

Cancer.

Yeah, the year also started off with me being the chemo partner.  12 rounds and radiation. That chemo room taught me so much humility.  This thing does not discriminate.  I watched a couple that looked no older than 25.  He was the patient and she snuggled close on that chemo chair under a soft blanket as they watched Netlix.  Anything to get their minds off the 4 hours and all the medicine being pumped into him drop by drop.

This room had wives of over 50 years sitting with their husbands, Mothers sitting with their children, children sitting with their parents, and I, a sister sitting with her sister.  All of us hopeful that these rounds would kill this disease and bring us back to our normal.

Prison.

January found me in a waiting room of a prison bringing some hope and sunshine to an otherwise dreary situation.  This waiting room has become a part of my new normal and again this experience humbles you. This thing does not discriminate.  Some of us get there on private jets, others by driving all night.  Some have bank accounts that have never taken a hit and others had to scrape everything just to make it here. But once we walk through those doors, we are the same. Just family members here to see loved ones and remind them that we love them still and nothing they did could ever change that.  We are here to show them grace.

Family stability is something that has been engraved in us since childhood and this year it has been tested the most.  Roles have shifted and it has been quite an adjustment.  This year has also been the year I've seen things for what they are and there has been some ugly.  Ugly I could ignore but not anymore. It has been hard to reconcile but I am grateful for seeing it clearly and knowing how to proceed.

Milestone.

My first born got his license this year.

This little baby that changed my whole life just by looking into my eyes moments after he was born is now a grown up. Soon, we will be going on college visits.

I started off the year unemployed and it made me readily available for the chemo room.  I asked God for a job when I needed it in May and 3 weeks later, he sent me one.  Actually he sent me 2.  Started off with nothing and ending it with 2.  Won't he do it?!

I turned 39 this year and wanted to be introspective. I went and climbed Stone Mountain on my own and looked at God's creation and just waited there. God met me right there and sent me the song "Beautiful" by The Walls Group that had me crying and praising....

Give Him all your pain
Call each one by name
He can make them beautiful
Beautiful, Beautiful
You make all things beautiful

That song was everything I needed in that moment and I have carried it with me in my heart.ever since.

Back to love, I was cool and decided that I was going to bow out gracefully since it wasn't for me.  I was really fine with it and had had a great run with it. I was just going to concentrate on raising my kids and getting them to college.

Well, here I am ending the year with Warrior love by my side.  Look at that.

Twenty fifteen.

Onward!





Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Angels Among Us



I come from a place where AIDS was something unspoken of.

Death was all around and it was obvious what it's cause was and yet silence.  People would give all kinds of explanations to save face.  Headache was a common one.  But even as a young kid in the early 90's, I knew people didn't die from headaches at such alarming rates.  Another was malaria which is a common illness where I am from but even that couldn't cover up the lie.

I left my country in 1993 as a 17 year old when the epidemic was at it's genesis.  Years later as I listened to a friend terrified of going to see a doctor even though she was 5 months pregnant, I finally had an Aha moment.  I didn't understand why she was so terrified and was putting her child in jeopardy when she finally blurted out, "You weren't there! You didn't see what we saw. After you left people we know were dying every single day and I saw them wasting away."  It's true I wasn't there and I didn't see it up close and personal.  Even though she was in the land of the best but most expensive healthcare in the world, her fear of a blood test and what the results could possibly bring paralyzed her.  I got it.  She put it all in focus for me.

There was such a stigma to go with it.  You were dying because of sex.  That's what it came down to. Whether it was sex you chose or sex brought into your home from your spouse to a clueless partner, you were dying.

Four years ago I was still healing from a terrible chapter in my life when an angel walked in.  I recognized him as "my people" and someone from my tribe right away and fell in love with his soul. We never ever had surface conversations.  From jump street we went deep with it.  He would sing to me, build me up in moments of despair, and our conversations felt like a prayer.  I would exhale after each one and know I was better off for having it.

I don' think there is anything he cannot do.  I watched him put on a concert and just move us, the entire audience to tears with his angelic voice.  And then he got to preaching and let me tell you, I knew our conversations were prayers but I had no idea that he could stand behind a pulpit and preach like the best of them! I walked out of there like such a proud Mama.  Then one day he told me he wanted to do makeup and went ahead and bought some makeup and got to practicing.  Just like that, he is now a Bona Fide makeup artist.  He makes women feel their best.  I felt like Naomi/Trya/Lupita the day he beat my face.

I was scrolling through my Facebook one day and he had a status update about being a survivor and something told me to ask him about it.  He told me that he had been diagnosed with HIV many years ago and was now living with AIDS.

Because of where I am from and how AIDS had been handled from my recollection, I should have panicked and done the ever so common human fade out and stopped answering his calls or acted like he did not exist.

Something remarkable happened that day. All I felt was this immense feeling of compassion for this man, my friend.  My friendship deepened that day and I learned an amazing life lesson.  Fear makes us miss out on so much that we do not have to.  Had AIDS been treated as a compassion illness and not a fear illness back when I first heard of it, it would not have the stigma it has today.

Living in your truth should be a lesson for us all.  Because of my friend and how he spoke his truth with no fear, no hesitation, and with nothing but love, my reaction was that of the same.  Living in fear and in a lie causes nothing but chaos.

Things have changed so much in my country now.  I remember speaking to my Mother about a decade ago and her telling me how she works with a group called "Living with AIDS."  When I saw video and saw people speaking so freely about living with AIDS, I was ecstatic and floored at once. I am so happy at our progress. Many are still living with fear and not living in their truth so we still have a ways to go. The stigma lives on as evidenced by Charlie Sheen's recent annoucement.

I thank God for sending my angel, my beautiful Dougie and all the lessons he has taught me about this life and living it out loud oh so fabulously.  He didn't crumble and think his life was over.  He believed and trusted in God even more and started his next chapter.  I salute you my friend.





Thursday, October 15, 2015

#DearBlackGirl



Dear Black Girl,

You have found yourself in a foreign land by your choice.

You are an immigrant.

A beautiful African girl on the cusp of womanhood in an American world.

It is a land of opportunity and so much goodness will happen to you here.  You will grow leaps and bounds and find your footing here.

I want to tell you that it won't always be beautiful.  You won't feel beautiful some days.  This land's view of beauty is not your country land's view of beauty.  They will make you question the very things about yourself that you find beautiful.  Your perfect nose will suddenly be called too broad, your hips will suddenly be called too wide and your sun kissed skin will suddenly be called too dark.

This will confuse you terribly because this is the only beauty you've ever known.  The only beauty you have been surrounded by.  Up until now you have never heard anyone criticize things one cannot change.  Or so you thought.

You will be tempted.  You will learn quickly that things you thought could never be changed can be changed.  A plastic surgeon can alter your nose to any shape of your choosing.Creams are sold in a tube that can change your skin to a lighter hue of your choosing.  And you can starve yourself or jump on the latest get skinny quick scheme to get the barely there hips of your choosing.

I beg you my little sister, my little African sister, DO NOT FALL FOR IT.

You will learn quickly how the very people telling you your beauty is not up to par are the very ones paying money to get the very things that you have.  You may not see it right away but just pay close attention and one day it will be crystal clear.

They will even make you feel bad about your name.  The very name given to you by your Parents after  consulting with their Parents.  They will act like it is too difficult to pronounce and try to give you a cool and hip nickname.  They can pronounce Louboutin, Givenchy, Ferari and Lamborghini but get tongue tied pronouncing Lubinda, Ganizani, Funjika, and Lwandamina.  Learning to pronounce is reserved for luxury brands and they would rather call you Lu, Gee or FeeFee.

The thing that I love most about you, about us little sister is how confident and outspoken we are.  Go to any school in Africa and girls are ruling the world.  We are strong, confident, smart and outspoken. DO NOT shrink away from any of this when you suddenly find yourself as a small fish in this very big pond.  Stand firm in all that you have been taught, all that you know to be true. DON'T ever shy away from it!  You will lose your footing as you navigate, that's life, but just keep going and always come back to all that you know.

I can tell you about racism, politics, religion, world economics and all the other important things in this world but lets face it, you are a girl and what you are curious about is Love. I get it, I was a girl once too.

So here goes.  Love is everything you have read about for the most part.  Don't go into it thinking it will be sunshine and roses every single day.  Roses have thorns and sunshine comes after thunderstorms. Love is hard work.  Let it find you and please let it be given to you freely.  Don't chase love.  If you find yourself chasing it then it know that it is not the love God intended you to have.  If nothing else resonates here, let this; love is 100% about how it makes you feel.  If ever you are made to feel bad about yourself then simply leave the situation.  You will be heartbroken and it will hurt more than anything but one day you will heal.  You will know that you are healed because it will no longer hurt your heart and soul to talk about it. It will just become that one more thing that you add to the list of things you survived. If by chance you come face to face to the one who hurt you, you will stand tall and not crumble inside.  You will feel whole and wonder why you ever felt how you felt to begin.

Find your people.  In the beginning even these people will disappoint you but eventually you find the perfect few that are for you.  Once you find them life gets simpler.

Life is beautiful sweetheart.  Things will happen that will make you question that but just know that it is a part of this thing.  Confusion, disillusion, and all the numerous -ions come with it, you just gotta navigate through them and know that you come out better on the other side.

And finally please be gentle with yourself.  Stop being so hard on yourself.  You are doing your best and it is enough.  Never forget that.

I love you,

Your Big African Sister