Monday, June 29, 2015

The Liebster Award

Picture courtesy of Unsplash

I received the Liebster Award from Ariadna of The Always Believer about a month ago, and just haven't had time to write this post until now! I finally decided to go ahead and do it. Thanks so much, Ariadna! (If you haven't already, please check out her wonderful blog, which happens to be a source of abundant inspiration!)

The Liebster Award is passed on from blogger to blogger, and is intended to recognise who are working hard and doing a great job with their blog. While I've seen different variations of rules for this award online, I'll be following the ones that say that when you're nominated, you answer the questions presented to you by the blogger who nominated you, then nominate a few others and set some questions for them to answer!

Here are Ariadna's questions, with my answers!

1) What is one of your favorite quotes?
Goodness, I have so many! I try share them on my Facebook page every week or so. However, for now, let's go with this one: 
"Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."
-- Howard Thurman

2) What is your favorite time of your day?
I think this would definitely be the night! 
3) If you could throw any kind of party, what would it be like and what would it be for?
I would love to hire a historical home for an entire weekend, and throw the kind of lavish party that people used to have in centuries past! Since I love to celebrate different kinds of people, I don't think this party would have a specific aim other than to just celebrate life and the people attending. Envisioning a guest list for such a party would be difficult in that I wouldn't know where to stop! I think it's important to know when you have enough people such that people can mingle around and meet plenty of new people and thrive on the energy of a large group, and yet engage in meaningful dialogue within smaller groups! One thing's for sure, my closest friends would definitely be in attendance, especially so one of my best friends from Sewanee who loves old homes as much as I do! 
4) If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
I would LOVE to be able to draw! I've always been drawn to art, and am in awe of anyone who possesses significant talent in this department. Unfortunately for me, I can't draw to save my life; even my stick figures are lacking! If  I could learn to put pencil to paper and perfectly recreate scenes before me and from my imagination, I'd be ecstatic.
5) If you could choose anyone, who would you pick as your mentor?
I think for me, picking just one person is extremely difficult! Part of this is because I do have a few mentors already, who guide me in various aspects of my life. I know this is a stereotypical answer, but I do think it'd be awesome to be mentored by Richard Branson or Robin Sharma! 
6) What songs are included on the soundtrack to your life?
This varies! But I guess I'd include 'Can't Hold Us' by Macklemore, 'Timber' by Pitbull (for sentimental reasons), 'Livin' on a Prayer' by Bon Jovi, 'Feeling Good' by Nina Simone, 'Happy' by Pharell, and 'Titanium' by David Guetta. 
7) When was the last time you had an amazing meal?
Saturday night! I'd gone out to an Italian restaurant in Nairobi with my family to celebrate my eldest sister's new promotion. 
8) What is something you learned last week?
Love should be about giving, and not receiving, and in order to be able to give love, you need to have it; you need to love yourself first! 
9) Where’s Waldo?
New Orleans? 
10) The best part of waking up is?
That in between stage when I remember my dreams from the previous night and laugh at them, the stillness and peace of lying in bed for just a few minutes extra, and the untapped potential of a new day. 

I'd like to nominate the following bloggers for the Liebster Award, and I'd love for them to answer the questions that follow. Please tag me back in your posts, I'd love to hear what you have to say! 

1) What are five words you would use to describe yourself?

2) If you were a character from an existing movie or a book, who would you be and why?

3) If you could recommend only one book to your readers, which would it be?

4) What's your secret talent?

5) What's the best feedback you've ever gotten on a blog post?

6) Who has been a great inspiration in your life so far, and how?

7) What's one of your greatest memories from the past five years?

8) If you could go back and speak to yourself three years ago, what would you say?

9) What's your favourite meal?

10) The sky is the limit; where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

11) Where would you love to travel to that you've never been before?

12) If you were to meet any famous person you wanted (real or fictional, dead or alive), who would it be and what would you say to them? 


Monday, June 22, 2015

Thoughts of All Kind

Here's a guest post by Ariadna Arredondo!

Thoughts, that´s it. That is what we think all day,all the time. Especially if you are a girl, supposedly. That´s beside my point.

My point is that we all think all the time and all the things that we think of often disappear within the hour. I want you to write down important things for you, I want you to actually see the greater side to this method.

First of all, organize your thoughts without repeating.
Second of all, as you organize your thoughts, the most important things come out in a clear fashion.
Third of all, why keep everything in your head? It is always good to write it out, talk it out so we can let go of the bad stuff and reminds us of the good things.

We all have phones, we all have a Note button on it, anytime, anyplace, it helps you to become you.
Take a look at this, if these people didn´t write these thoughts down, then someone else would have… right? My point is that these words, whatever they may be, are important because they made it through time. And yes, while I think that actions speak louder than words, it starts with writing your thoughts out in order to take it to the next step.


Never think that you’re not good enough. A man should never think that. People will take you very much at your own reckoning.

The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.

Put your heart, mind, and soul into even your smallest acts. This is the secret of success.

There is nothing more beautiful than seeing a person being themselves. Imagine going through your day being unapologetically you.

Even if you fall on your face, you’re still moving forward.

The happiest of people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes along their way.

Happiness really comes down to two elements: the way we think and the way we act.

Even in darkness it is possible to create light.

All these thoughts and more to come, pick one out, pick all of them. Write them down, post them around your house, whatever you see every day. One thought, one positive attractive thought, will push your day brighter and off to the right start.


Make your own, do it for a better tomorrow, Your Better Tomorrow. Your life depends on you, remember. So, all those thoughts, get them straight, get them out and start living life your way.
What´s your favorite quote? Drop a beat!
Like what you see? Follow everywhere, hit those buttons and share the love. It´s the greatest gift you can give!
You know it!
Have a wonderful day,

Saturday, June 20, 2015

What Does Ramadhan Mean to Me?

Another guest post by my good friend, Aniqah Khalid, of Maisha, about what Ramadhan means to her. This month of fasting for Muslims around the world has just started, and I know that many of us non-Muslims have questions about what this month actually means to them. Enjoy!

This is an extremely complex question to answer in a long point form manner. How I can answer this, however, is in a more metaphorical way.

Ramadhan is coming home after a long hard day. Coming home, kicking off your shoes, finding solace in familiarity and comfort in its security.
Ramadhan is that strong pain killer for when your body aches that you cannot sleep at night, you cannot eat and you simply cannot think.
Ramadhan is that small open window in a hot and stuffy room.
Ramadhan is that drop of water that can save the thirsty beggar.
Ramadhan is what many pay hundreds and thousands of dollars on therapy for.
Ramadhan is the light feeling after being forgiven and after forgiving.
Ramadhan is fuelling the car after it has broken down.
Ramadhan is that calm, tranquil feeling of peace after one has cried away their sorrows.
Ramadhan is that magical feeling when you are loved and when you love.
Ramadhan is faith and hope in a better you; in a better tomorrow.

To me Ramadhan acts as a new year- New resolutions, fresh starts, a new me and a positive approach.
To me Ramadhan acts as therapy where my only therapist is Allah and I have a direct communication with him, no interruptions.
To me Ramadhan is a test of my character; a test that molds me into the perfect depiction of myself I can possibly be. It tests me in order to prove my strength and reminds me of the faith I carry within my heart that I may doubt.
To me Ramadhan is a chance for all of us; the alcoholics, the thieves, the bigots, the jealous and all the evil within. There is hope for us all to come back to divinity and righteousness.
To me Ramadhan is a clear sign that Allah indeed loves me for He made this month especially for me to gain closeness to Him. It is as if a teacher has rigged an exam in your favour or slipped you an answer before an exam. I am so lucky, as are you. There is no clearer proof of the love that gravitates us from above. Without that love, we would be lifeless souls wandering earth aimlessly.
To me Ramadhan is perspective. What is important in life, what is expected of me and the things that matter in the bigger picture.
To me Ramadhan is a cure for all illnesses of the mind heart and body.

“Ramdhan is like a rare flower that blossoms once a year and just as you begin to smell its fragrance It disappears for another year. Make the most of it now while you still have a chance for the harvesting season is here and it won't last.”

-Anonymous

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Change Begins



Why do I return to the topic of change so often? Because stagnancy scares me. It bores me, it infuriates me, I absolutely hate it. I'm not the person I was 5 years ago, and 5 years from now, I'm sure there'll be many more changes in my life. These changes can be and have been both internal and external, but mainly focused on myself.

Recently though, I've been thinking about the need to create change in the society I live in, for a couple of reasons; one being that most of our society is still stuck in the past as far as certain things go, like attitudes toward women and sexuality. The other reason is that when I look at the people around me, I recognise attitudes that I either had in the past, or would be terrified to be stuck with now, and that drives me to action. This reminds me of a book I'd read a few years ago, called "The Gift of Peace" which I won for some academic achievement in high school. One of the things this book talked about was that things that bother us about other people are actually due to us recognising the attitudes within ourselves. This resonated with me, and I think it's very true. Those who know me best know that I have a certain degree of dogmatism; and I absolutely hate it! True enough, one of the qualities that angers me the most in other people is their dogmatism, but especially with regard to traditions and practices that have no part to play in today's world and yet persist like a nasty cold. 

I've definitely been feeling the frustration of dealing with societal dogmatism; it's always easier to deal with in individuals, but trying to advance the way a society thinks and operates seems like an uphill battle. I'm sure we've all had times where we're frustrated with the lack of changes around us, and have absolutely no idea how to proceed. I vented these frustrations out to a good friend, and the message he sent me was so perfect that I had to share it with all of you. I'll let him do the rest of the talking: 

I believe that to incite change you must first do what others will not, and that is to live day and night with that which you desire etched in your mind. An intaglio. When people press up against you, that thing is impressed upon them. People are right in the sense that no one does that effectively on their own, but that is not what you should be trying to do. Speak your mind when the need arises. Call out those that need to be called out, but remember too that often a gentle word or the right analogy will move a mountain. Fire, earth, water, wind - in different ways all have the energy to change the landscape that we walk, and all of them are us. Choose the property that counters that ignorance and be it. That is your right, just as it is your right to challenge those who would claim you are anything less than you are, for any reason. Be what you are, and others of like mind will find you, and then you are not alone. But, above all, meet people where they are and do not fault them for it. Even if their position wounds us deeply who are we to judge? We do not know the things which have brought them to this place, and if we want to be the thing that leads them from it we do not have the luxury of assumption. 

-Dylan Orlady

PS: Dylan also happens to be an awesome photographer; check out his work here! Dylan Orlady Instagram

Monday, June 15, 2015

Wine Tasting with Spier

Last Thursday night found me at a wine tasting held at the Nairobi Wine Gallery on General Mathenge Drive, featuring wines from Spier Wine Farm (Western Cape, South Africa) which dates back to 1692 and is one of South Africa's oldest wine farms. Also in attendance was the lovely Jean Wandimi, of the Wine and Food Review.

We got to try 7 delicious wines, 4 white and 3 red, under the tutelage of Danie De Kock from Spier. I'll list them and share a brief description in the order I enjoyed them from most favourite to least (although all were delicious), first whites and then reds! The reds were definitely much harder to rank than the whites.

If you want any more information on these wines, please check out their website. All of these are available at the Nairobi Wine Gallery for those of you in Kenya, and hopefully at your local stores for those of you abroad. I do have some rough prices for them too, so message me if you'd like those.

Whites:

1) Spier Signature Chardonnay: 

Spier Signature Chardonnay
Vintage: 2012

This was by far my favourite out of all the whites, and I went and bought a bottle after the wine tasting! It was straw-coloured. Its bouquet was slightly smokey tinged with a hint of citrus, and it was wonderfully creamy and woody with a citrus aftertaste. While the citrus was the prime flavour for me, there were hints of apple too that others picked up as being stronger.

Danie recommended that this wine be served with a grilled chicken salad with peach slices in it. I absolutely agree, and would also happily drink it on its own!

2) Spier Signature Methode Cap Classique

Spier Signature Methode Cap Classique
Vintage: NV (the grapes were not harvested in one particular year)

This was served as an aperitif before the official wine tasting started, and I would love to drink this at breakfast! The blend for this wine is 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir (sounds wonderful, right?). It was light gold and bubbly, and had a light fruity bouquet with a tinge of apple. Danie described this wine as dry, but hinting at sweetness, and I think that describes it perfectly! This is a light wine, and doesn't require much work to drink (those of you who drink heavier, spicier wines probably know exactly what I mean!). The apple flavour followed through in the taste, and there was the slightest taste of citrus. The wine overall was quite crisp, and left a fresh, smooth aftertaste.

3) Spier Discover Medium Sweet: 

Spier Discover Medium Sweet 
Vintage: 2012

The reason this ranks third on my list is not because it's not a great wine (which it is). It's just that I personally tend to favour those which are not as sweet, so please don't let its position on my list influence your choice!

This wine is a white blend (sorry, I forgot to ask which grapes!), and would work well as a dessert wine. It was a very pale gold, bordering on straw. The bouquet was grassy with a tinge of vanilla, and it was a lighter, sweet wine that had tastes of mango and papaya (and if I'm not mistaken, this means that the grapes were harvested in a warmer region). This wine would work well with spicy meat and poultry, or even as a dessert wine.

4) Spier Signature Chenin Blanc

Spier Signature Chenin Blanc
Vintage: 2014

I'm sorry to say that this wine was my least favourite out of all the whites. While it is a really, really good wine, it didn't cater to my personal taste (but that shouldn't prevent you from trying it out; in fact, I encourage you to do just that). The wine was sweet and slightly acidic, with crisp, tart flavours of pineapple and guave coming through (and these indicate grapes grown in cooler regions).

Reds: 

1) Spier Creative Block 3

Spier Creative Block 3
Vintage: 2012

Like the Chardonnay amongst the whites, this was the clear winner out of the reds! This is a wine inspired by the Creative Block art initiative. (And yes, I bought a bottle of this too).

This is a blend of Shiraz, Mourvedre and Viognier grapes; the first two are red, and the last is actually a white which helps to bring out the fruitiness of the wine! The spice of Shiraz and the mulberry of Mourvedre combined well too.
The wine is a deep, purplish red, and has an earthy, smokey bouquet, with clear notes of berries and plums, and a slight hint of pepper. It was a rich, smooth, fuller bodied wine that was on the drier side. Slightly spicy, the flavours of plum and berry lingered, and left a pleasant aftertaste. I highly, HIGHLY recommend this one! Food recommendation? Ribeye!

2) Spier Signature Shiraz

Spier Signature Shiraz 
Vintage: 2013

This one was a close second to the Creative Block 3. The wine was a blood-ruby red, and its bouquet had strong hints of pepper and smoke, with a slight undertone of coffee. Plums, pepper and spice came through in the taste, and it definitely came through as a bold wine! While I'd be tempted to drink this without any food, I think I'll take Danie's advice, which was to pair this with pepper steak, nyama choma, or good old barbeque.

3) Spier Signature Pinotage

Spier Signature Pinotage
Vintage: 2012

This was a great wine too; as mentioned before, it was so hard to rank the reds! The colour was a clear, plummy red, and the bouquet was light, plummy and earthy. The red berry taste was soft and creamy, with lighter hints of coffee.


Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Perception of Makeup, Covering Up Flaws or Creating a New Person


Another post by my guest blogger, Ak Brown! 

When it comes to the subject of makeup there are so many different opinions.  But before tackling those opinions and maybe "stereotypes" what is the factual purpose and idea behind makeup?  Makeup, whether you want to believe it or not is a true art form.  It is used in a variety of ways including consumer based, television, ads, films, and in many ways of abstract forms of art.  It takes lots of training, schooling, and hours or perfecting this technique in order for anyone to be called a true makeup artist.  More so on the consumer level makeup helps cover up flaws and accentuate our features.  It's a great way to look natural without showing the world a few minor "no nos" we don't want to reveal.

Recently however, there has been much debate over whether the utilization of makeup has gone to the extreme, transforming the entire face and possibly "tricking" others into believing in a whole new person that doesn't exist.  After seeing many before and after selfies, and numerous videos that you all probably have seen as well, it's a very interesting debate.

I don't know if I have a clean cut opinion on this situation and here's why.  I do understand from mainly a guy's perspective that they are tired of being tricked and bamboozled, I've known a few guys that it has happened to.  But at the same time men do not understand the weight some of us as women have on us to always maintain a flawless look, and most of it comes from the men who are complaining about being bamboozled by women who use makeup to their advantage and really for what the purpose of it is.  I don't know the experience of having to create a whole new face.  Not saying I'm perfect, beautiful, etc, but I use makeup with what I already have and just bring out those features in my face, and I'm lazy so I do the bare minimum anyway.  I personally hate when guys, however,  give this high standard they their chick can't wear makeup or what not but us wearing makeup is like a guy getting a hair cut.  And the fact is guys don't have to do NEARLY as much as women when it comes to getting ready and looking somewhat presentable.

I think where the problem exists though is when people apply all of this makeup and act like the face they created is the face they were born with,.  Putting down others who may not look as depart but they themselves look worse once the makeup is washed down the drain.  Those are the people I have a problem with, and that's when I believe makeup is being abused and used as a tool of self gloat.

Is there really a measurement of what is too much makeup?  What do you guys think?  And I would love to hear a great convo between men and women on this matter because it's a topic of concern apparently for a lot of people, so let us know what you think!

Instagram: www.instagram.com/mindofafashionista

Ak Brown: Creator and Head Fashion Blogger
Mind of a Fashionista


Thursday, June 11, 2015

How Do I Define Me?

Picture by Thomas Brault courtesy of unsplash.com

When I was younger, a large part of how I defined myself was by the relationships in my life. I was so-and-so's daughter, so-and-so's sister, so-and-so's friend. That's not to say that I didn't have an identity of my own- I did- but it was nowhere near what it is now. While I was by no means shy, I guess I could call myself reserved. Added to that, living in a "small big" city like Nairobi (the population of the city is well over 3 million, and yet it seems that everyone knows each other), I was stuck with the burden of being the person I had been for the past few years.

Many of you who grew up in small communities and went to smaller high schools will understand me when I say that it's difficult to really change yourself when people still see you as the person you used to be. I was fortunate enough in that I got to go to a university where I knew no-one. Not an exaggeration; Sewanee literally had no person who was connected to my life in Kenya. I did meet people there who had some ties to Kenya, but they got to know me after 2010. It was scary at first, sure, but this was a good thing.

It's not like I pulled a snake move to shed off my skin and show another person underneath (forgive the visual). Rather, I had a chance to start afresh and make relationships that were not founded on the person I used to be, or thought that I was. I believe that we all change over time, and having a chance to express these changes can be very positive. Not only that; sometimes being in a new environment can help you realise that you've changed too! I'm still essentially the same person I used to be; I've just grown up a bit. I'm more confident, more independent, more questioning of the world around me. I meet people I knew pre-2010, and it seems that many of them have this to say "Wow, you're so different!" Not really, I don't think so. I just had a chance to recognise and express the changes in me that for some reason I was afraid to do before.

Yes, I'm still so-and-so's daughter, so-and-so's sister, so-and-so's friend; but now I'm quite comfortable being a so-and-so myself! Has this independence and confidence always been a good thing? Not always, to be honest. Dating especially is harder once you move to defining yourself by more than just your relationships. While dating in Sewanee, I emphasised that those relationships were just a part of my life, and could not be my entire life, especially so quickly. So when people came along who wanted more than that, I perceived them as being clingy and insecure, and downplayed the positives. I thought that depending on another person would mean compromising my independence, which I was not willing to do at all. Thankfully, time and good friends helped me see the light (older and wiser, right?).

However, considering the negatives of having so much space to explore myself, I'm glad I got the chance to! I'm definitely more confident in the friendships that I have now, and not as dependent on the relationships in my life, and this is so helpful considering that I have loved ones all over the world, from California to the Midwest to the South to the East Coast to England to Kenya to India to Australia. One thing that's completely new about me is my comfort, and even willingness, to walk into a restaurant alone. I haven't had much opportunity to do so since I got back to Nairobi, but soon I hope. In fact, I'm hoping to take a solo vacation later this year (fingers crossed)!

What's the point in all this? I'm just trying to emphasise that there may be times in life when you are completely out of your comfort zone, farther than you would usually push yourself, surrounded by people and places you haven't encountered before. Don't be scared of this; embrace it and use the experience to get to know yourself better. Accept the positives and negatives, and learn from them. Love the person you are, and the inevitable changes that time and such circumstances will bring in you!



Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Nepal 497

Photo credits (left to right): Omar Havana, Getty Images; AP; Narendra Shrestha, EPA; Niranjan Shrestha; ScanPix; Sewa.
The devastating earthquake that struck Nepal on the 25th of April, 2015 is still fresh in our minds in its scale and brutality. As news trickled in, we were horrified as we learnt how high the death toll was. Not only did the quake leave thousands dead in its wake; it left even more missing, injured or homeless. Those of us abroad with a personal connection to Nepal felt helpless and frustrated at being thousands of miles away and unable to lend our hands in the rescue and reconstruction efforts. Fortunately, there are several nonprofit organizations that are doing a great job on the ground with disaster relief and reconstruction, and now there's a unique way that you can get involved too, no matter where you are! Not only is participation easy, but you can walk or run and raise funds for Nepal whenever you want, wherever you want, at your own convenience. Read on for more details…

Charity Footprints is a great platform that connects people with active lifestyles to individual and corporate donors, for the purpose of supporting worthy causes and nonprofit organizations. What does this mean? This means that you don’t have to wait for a walk or marathon to be organized to fundraise; you can simply pledge miles from your regular workouts, on your own or in a group, and use these to fundraise instead! This makes it a lot simpler to actively (pun intented!) engage in charity efforts on an ongoing basis.

Charity Footprints has teamed up with Sewa International, USA to provide a platform for donors to partner in the relief and reconstruction work in Nepal. The reconstruction work will definitely go on for years, and this is the start of a long road to recovery.

In the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit, Sewa means service. Sewa International, USA is a Hindu faith-based humanitarian nonprofit service organisation whose vision is to increase civic engagement of the communities in the United States to volunteer and promote volunteering. Sewa International, which is one of Charity Footprint’s featured charity partners, has an impressive on-the-ground presence in Nepal and has been raising funds for Nepal earthquake relief efforts.

This collaborative fundraising campaign has been named 'Nepal497', 497 being the number of miles from East to West of Nepal, thus collectively walking (symbolically of course) the length of Nepal along its Himalayan Axis.  Charity Footprints will not be keeping any part of the registration amounts, and neither will Sewa International. All the proceeds will go towards earthquake relief measures in Nepal.

Sewa is working with organizations in Nepal to provide first aid, distribute safe drinking water, food packets, and blankets. Volunteers from Sewa International in the U.S. travelled to Nepal a few weeks ago to provide voluntary services. Sewa has also created an Emergency Hotline to help locate relatives in Nepal whose communication links are down and are not reachable through phones.

Nepal497 is a great way to get involved in the relief and rehabilitation process for those of us who can’t be on the ground in the disaster zone.

Registered users can walk anywhere at any time to move the collective mile marker forward. Please visit www.charityfootprints.com/nepal497 to learn more and register for the event. All miles must be completed by the 22nd of June!


Wouldn’t it be great if the whole world walks a mile for Nepal? If we each move 1 step, the world will move over 6 billion steps.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Another List That Will...

Another guest post from fellow HCBN member, Ariadna Arredondo!

Make your life a wonderful place.... 

1) Go to bed on time.
Okay, we are not saying to have a bedtime, for all that matters, we want you to go to bed at more or less the same time every day. (or almost every day) Just set a routine and unwind before bed, make sure you catch your extra zzz’s.

2) Do one thing you have been putting off since always.
Whatever it is, stop procrastinating. Yup, come on, get off your high horse and start to remember those things that you have been meaning to do. Set some time in your schedule to do them. Not in a year’s time, now. Look now.




3) Feelings.
Speak about them. Speak to that certain someone who has been on your mind for a while about that topic you need to vent about. Whether it is to dig deep down or just have a chat about everyday challenges, speak about your feelings. You’ll feel better, stronger and a lot closer to that person who you decided to share them with.

4) Appreciate!
Say thank you all the time. Acknowledge when someone is going out of their way to do something for you and that you are able to be by their side and say thank you. You got them, they got you. Spoil them, cherish them, say thank you.

5) Jump!
Take a risk – small, medium or big. Jump for it, let that fear go and get lost to find yourself again. It is always your call. It is always up to you.

6) Time out!
Get time for you. Make time for you. Once a week or once every two weeks, make time for you.

7) Believe and do.
First, start by believing that good things coming your way.
Next step, do.
Before we get to do, smack- dab right now, hope and believe in good things.
Make a list, read it every day, let it sink in.



8) Honor those who make the world a better place
Look up activists and trailblazers who you admire. Talk about them, let that positive vibe go around. Or, directly, talk to those who you admire and let them know. Take time to reflect and get informed about these amazing human beings to make the world a better placedoing what they love to do.

9) Bring something in at work/at home.
You know how when we were kids we had “Show and Tell”? For those who didn’t do it, all we had to do is bring in something that we loved, show it to the class and tell them about it. It was a wonderful day because you got to learn about other things while hugging your favorite teddy bear all day long. This is the same in the adult world. Take advantage and bring sweets to the office, bring a home cooked meal… do something to make their day better. What is even better than coming home from school/work and finding out that your parents/loved one brought home pizza for dinner?

10) Up that selfie game.
No need to post them up if you are all shy about it. You can, however, send them to your mom. She will love them! Or send them to your best friend. Or send them to someone you know that is having a rough time as a way of cheering them up. Be proud to flaunt your awesome self around, let the world see. Or at least, your own world see!

All in all, be you, be yourself, try your hardest, do what you love and keep that head held high.
You got this!
The Always Believer

Links: 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

A Tribute to Dave Goldberg by Sheryl Sandberg

I didn't write this, but read it on Facebook and thought it was well worth sharing! Death is one of the hardest things that we have to deal with, and I think many of us struggle to find meaning when presented with the loss of a loved one. Sheryl struck a chord with what she wrote, and I thought you all should read it too! 


Today is the end of sheloshim for my beloved husband—the first thirty days. Judaism calls for a period of intense mourning known as shiva that lasts seven days after a loved one is buried. After shiva, most normal activities can be resumed, but it is the end of sheloshim that marks the completion of religious mourning for a spouse.
A childhood friend of mine who is now a rabbi recently told me that the most powerful one-line prayer he has ever read is: “Let me not die while I am still alive.” I would have never understood that prayer before losing Dave. Now I do.
I think when tragedy occurs, it presents a choice. You can give in to the void, the emptiness that fills your heart, your lungs, constricts your ability to think or even breathe. Or you can try to find meaning. These past thirty days, I have spent many of my moments lost in that void. And I know that many future moments will be consumed by the vast emptiness as well.
But when I can, I want to choose life and meaning.
And this is why I am writing: to mark the end of sheloshim and to give back some of what others have given to me. While the experience of grief is profoundly personal, the bravery of those who have shared their own experiences has helped pull me through. Some who opened their hearts were my closest friends. Others were total strangers who have shared wisdom and advice publicly. So I am sharing what I have learned in the hope that it helps someone else. In the hope that there can be some meaning from this tragedy.
I have lived thirty years in these thirty days. I am thirty years sadder. I feel like I am thirty years wiser.
I have gained a more profound understanding of what it is to be a mother, both through the depth of the agony I feel when my children scream and cry and from the connection my mother has to my pain. She has tried to fill the empty space in my bed, holding me each night until I cry myself to sleep. She has fought to hold back her own tears to make room for mine. She has explained to me that the anguish I am feeling is both my own and my children’s, and I understood that she was right as I saw the pain in her own eyes.
I have learned that I never really knew what to say to others in need. I think I got this all wrong before; I tried to assure people that it would be okay, thinking that hope was the most comforting thing I could offer. A friend of mine with late-stage cancer told me that the worst thing people could say to him was “It is going to be okay.” That voice in his head would scream, How do you know it is going to be okay? Do you not understand that I might die? I learned this past month what he was trying to teach me. Real empathy is sometimes not insisting that it will be okay but acknowledging that it is not. When people say to me, “You and your children will find happiness again,” my heart tells me, Yes, I believe that, but I know I will never feel pure joy again. Those who have said, “You will find a new normal, but it will never be as good” comfort me more because they know and speak the truth. Even a simple “How are you?”—almost always asked with the best of intentions—is better replaced with “How are you today?” When I am asked “How are you?” I stop myself from shouting, My husband died a month ago, how do you think I am? When I hear “How are you today?” I realize the person knows that the best I can do right now is to get through each day.
I have learned some practical stuff that matters. Although we now know that Dave died immediately, I didn’t know that in the ambulance. The trip to the hospital was unbearably slow. I still hate every car that did not move to the side, every person who cared more about arriving at their destination a few minutes earlier than making room for us to pass. I have noticed this while driving in many countries and cities. Let’s all move out of the way. Someone’s parent or partner or child might depend on it.
I have learned how ephemeral everything can feel—and maybe everything is. That whatever rug you are standing on can be pulled right out from under you with absolutely no warning. In the last thirty days, I have heard from too many women who lost a spouse and then had multiple rugs pulled out from under them. Some lack support networks and struggle alone as they face emotional distress and financial insecurity. It seems so wrong to me that we abandon these women and their families when they are in greatest need.
I have learned to ask for help—and I have learned how much help I need. Until now, I have been the older sister, the COO, the doer and the planner. I did not plan this, and when it happened, I was not capable of doing much of anything. Those closest to me took over. They planned. They arranged. They told me where to sit and reminded me to eat. They are still doing so much to support me and my children.
I have learned that resilience can be learned. Adam M. Grant taught me that three things are critical to resilience and that I can work on all three. Personalization—realizing it is not my fault. He told me to ban the word “sorry.” To tell myself over and over, This is not my fault. Permanence—remembering that I won’t feel like this forever. This will get better. Pervasiveness—this does not have to affect every area of my life; the ability to compartmentalize is healthy.
For me, starting the transition back to work has been a savior, a chance to feel useful and connected. But I quickly discovered that even those connections had changed. Many of my co-workers had a look of fear in their eyes as I approached. I knew why—they wanted to help but weren’t sure how. Should I mention it? Should I not mention it? If I mention it, what the hell do I say? I realized that to restore that closeness with my colleagues that has always been so important to me, I needed to let them in. And that meant being more open and vulnerable than I ever wanted to be. I told those I work with most closely that they could ask me their honest questions and I would answer. I also said it was okay for them to talk about how they felt. One colleague admitted she’d been driving by my house frequently, not sure if she should come in. Another said he was paralyzed when I was around, worried he might say the wrong thing. Speaking openly replaced the fear of doing and saying the wrong thing. One of my favorite cartoons of all time has an elephant in a room answering the phone, saying, “It’s the elephant.” Once I addressed the elephant, we were able to kick him out of the room.
At the same time, there are moments when I can’t let people in. I went to Portfolio Night at school where kids show their parents around the classroom to look at their work hung on the walls. So many of the parents—all of whom have been so kind—tried to make eye contact or say something they thought would be comforting. I looked down the entire time so no one could catch my eye for fear of breaking down. I hope they understood.
I have learned gratitude. Real gratitude for the things I took for granted before—like life. As heartbroken as I am, I look at my children each day and rejoice that they are alive. I appreciate every smile, every hug. I no longer take each day for granted. When a friend told me that he hates birthdays and so he was not celebrating his, I looked at him and said through tears, “Celebrate your birthday, goddammit. You are lucky to have each one.” My next birthday will be depressing as hell, but I am determined to celebrate it in my heart more than I have ever celebrated a birthday before.
I am truly grateful to the many who have offered their sympathy. A colleague told me that his wife, whom I have never met, decided to show her support by going back to school to get her degree—something she had been putting off for years. Yes! When the circumstances allow, I believe as much as ever in leaning in. And so many men—from those I know well to those I will likely never know—are honoring Dave’s life by spending more time with their families.
I can’t even express the gratitude I feel to my family and friends who have done so much and reassured me that they will continue to be there. In the brutal moments when I am overtaken by the void, when the months and years stretch out in front of me endless and empty, only their faces pull me out of the isolation and fear. My appreciation for them knows no bounds.
I was talking to one of these friends about a father-child activity that Dave is not here to do. We came up with a plan to fill in for Dave. I cried to him, “But I want Dave. I want option A.” He put his arm around me and said, “Option A is not available. So let’s just kick the shit out of option B.”
Dave, to honor your memory and raise your children as they deserve to be raised, I promise to do all I can to kick the shit out of option B. And even though sheloshim has ended, I still mourn for option A. I will always mourn for option A. As Bono sang, “There is no end to grief . . . and there is no end to love.” I love you, Dave.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

New Technology Billed as the Latest Breakthrough in Laser Vision Correction

Here's an article I wrote, in conjunction with Dr. Mukesh Joshi of Laser Eye Centre, that got published in the Daily Nation today! It's more on the scientific side, but I thought it was worth sharing. 

Do you wear contact lenses or glasses? What if you were told that you could get perfect vision by lying under a laser machine for 30 seconds without any surgical instruments touching your eye? It seems like a dream, but it is now possible, thanks to the C-Ten procedure.
Patients suffering from short-sightedness, long-sightedness or astigmatism (distortion of the cornea that causes blurry vision), which cause them to need glasses or contact lenses, now have access to a procedure that can correct their vision in less than half a minute. The procedure, which takes no more than 35 seconds, is minimally invasive as there are no surgical instruments involved.
The principle aim of laser vision correction is to reshape the cornea to correct vision problems. The reshaping is done to the middle part of the cornea, known as the stroma.
Every year, more than five million people undergo laser vision correction, and 95 per cent of people who wear contact lenses or glasses are suitable candidates for laser vision correction. 
The methods include: 
1. Lasik (Laser-Assisted in situ Keratomileusis): In this method, a thin flap of the cornea is cut and lifted in order to perform laser vision correction.
While this is a good procedure and is still very popular, it has a few drawbacks such as dry eyes, night driving problems, possibility of infection and other optical complications like weakening of the cornea. 
2. C-Ten (Customised Trans-Epithelial Non-Contact): Keeping the same principle in mind, no surgical manipulation is required, leading to a much safer procedure and quicker recovery.
The procedure is very popular in other countries, including Switzerland, Canada and Norway, and is now available for the first time in Africa and Asia. 
How does it work?
C-Ten is a technology where no instrument touches the patient’s eyes, and the laser machine is specialised to perform the treatment.
Prior to the treatment, to determine whether a patient is suitable for it, the surgeon checks the prescription of the patient’s glasses and rules out corneal and retinal diseases.
A special type of instrument known as Precisio is used to conduct mapping (topography) and thickness (tomography) of the cornea, and then the patient’s pupil is measured in different lighting conditions.
All this data is then collected and exported into the laser machine. On the day of the procedure, the patient is told to lie under the machine. After inserting an anaesthetic drop into the eye, a small clip is put in place to prevent blinking.
The patient is asked to look at a red fixation light. The surgeon activates the machine, and the procedure is done within 30 seconds. 
What steps are involved in C-Ten?
 Step 1: A doctor carries out an external examination of the patient’s eye and prescription of their glasses, and rules out contraindications. 
 Step 2: Topography and tomography is used to map the cornea and measure its thickness. Laser Eye Centre in Nairobi uses the Precisio machine, which provides a three-dimensional analysis of the front and back of the cornea, where 39,000 spots of the cornea are analysed. 
 Step 3: PMetrics is used to measure the size of the pupil in different lighting conditions. In low light, the pupil is larger than in bright light. Since pupilometry varies from person to person, it is important to measure how each patient’s pupils adjust to light and darkness. 
 Step 4: On the day of the surgery, the patient’s data is exported into the laser machine, and the procedure is carried out. 
What are the other benefits?
For corneal transplants, the diseased cornea is replaced by a donor cornea available from an eye bank. The most common cause of corneal transplant is Keratoconus, a condition prevalent among young people where the cornea loses its shape (the normal cornea is like a watch glass) and becomes like a cone. The new treatment for this condition is to flatten the cone and reshape the cornea.
When Keratoconus is very advanced, then a corneal transplant is warranted. Until now, traditional corneal transplants have been done, but now, with the new C-Ten laser, the irregular corneal shape is removed and the donor cornea put in place with a few sutures. This is a non-penetrative surgery, so the chance of corneal rejection is remote and recovery is much faster.
For patients with existing corneal transplants, some of the corneal transplants done in the past have led to poor vision due to distortion of the cornea (high astigmatism). The C-Ten laser machine can reshape the cornea and improve the vision of the patient.
After cataract surgery, some patients do not see well after cataract surgery, in spite of having healthy eyes. This could be due to high astigmatism, and such patients can also benefit from the C-Ten laser.
 Frequently asked questions
  •  Is everyone who wears glasses or contact lenses suitable for this procedure? No, but about 95 per cent of glasses and contact lens users are. If you suffer from an existing corneal or retinal disease, Type 1 Diabetes, inflammation in the eye or Aids, it will not be possible to perform this procedure. 
  •  How good is the result? Doctors achieve perfect vision correction in 99.7 per cent of patients, which means that only three people out of every 1,000 will require a touch-up in the future. 
  •  If I have done Lasik or other laser vision correction before, can it be done again? Yes, but since it is not a virgin eye, the results cannot be predicted 100 per cent, and, rarely, there may be some surprises. 
  •  What if I am not suitable for C-Tten laser vision correction? There are other options if you do not qualify for laser vision correction. These are reflex surgery, in which the existing lens is replaced by an intra-ocular implant which replaces the previous spectacle prescription; or Phakic IOL insertion, which addresses refractive errors. Once in place, Phakic IOLs work together with the eye’s natural focusing system to deliver clearer vision.
Check out www.lasereyeafrica.com for more details! 

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