The Lesson in Eating Your Vegetables

Anika and Sasha copy
Working on a Sunday afternoon at a local cafe with my best friend. Vegetables were already eaten before this photo was taken.  =)

…well more so metaphorically speaking.

Eating your vegetables is a universal analogy that many can relate to. Think about yourself as a kid or any show that depicts a child at dinner time (e.g., Everybody Hates Chris season 4, ep. 4 Everybody Hates Sausage)  The child will eat what he/she wants but would skip over the more nutrient dense foods like broccoli. I know you’re wondering where I’m going but hear me out.

As an adult, the equivalent to ingesting “icky, gross” vegetables so that your mother doesn’t yell at you can be likened to having discipline. Discipline and its dear sibling, will power, become your closest comrades as an adult.  I’m here to encourage you not only to eat the greens but also to be determined and unshaken in your commitment to do so.

WHY DISCIPLINE IS IMPORTANT – PHILOSOPHICAL DISCUSSION

Discipline is love. Say it over and over. Let this mantra be etched into your frontal lobe. Meditate on these words. Inhale & exhale keeping these words attached to your breath.

To exercise discipline is to exercise and exhibit self love. According to what I believe, the Creator provided us with all that we need to thrive on this planet. In order to reap the rewards that have been put forth for us, we need to carry out our tasks with humility, gratitude, determination and discipline. By doing our due diligence we not only praise the Almighty with a grateful heart but we also align ourselves with divine purpose. If you choose to forego the ickiest of your journey, there’s a high chance that you’re missing out on the opportunities that were designed to better prepare you for exactly who you’re supposed to be. We can catch up on the premise of purpose later. 

By skipping out on the more challenging assignments, there will come a time when you’re forced into doing the same things that you were avoiding in the first place. You’ll end up like Tanya, with a yelling, frantic Rochelle at your throat, and fearful brothers and a dad coming to your defense. Is that a stretch?! Maybe.  The difference between your life and a scripted show is that you may not have any lifelines left by the time your back is against the wall.  Ultimately, that leaves you with the options to either cower under pressure or to push through.

And if you want my advice I mean that is part of the reason you’re here right…? My advice is to push through because at some point there IS no excuse. Either you want to do everything it takes to make ‘ish happen or you don’t.  

THE BENEFITS OF DISCIPLINE – EVERYONE LIKES A REWARD

Believe it or not, aside from the confidence boost, there’s a level of satisfaction (and reward) on the other side of things one rather not do.   Discipline and determination in one area of your life bleeds into other areas too! Discipline is a messy b*tch but in a good way!  I guarantee that if you actively start making certain decisions, you’ll have an easier time making others because discipline and will power are like muscles. The more you use them, the stronger they get. This doesn’t mean you won’t “backslide” sometimes but typically, exercising these muscles often means that you can do more heavy lifting with less strain. You’ll have reference points and personal inspiration to draw from when in tough times!

When I started to hold myself more accountable for my thoughts, emotions and behaviors, the world opened up to me. It was as though the Universe was waiting on me to align myself with what I said I had always wanted. Opportunities began to present themselves and for the first time in a very long time, I didn’t just believe that I was capable of creating my own life – I WAS ACTUALLY DOING IT.

DISCIPLINE IMPROVES SELF-TRUST – IF NOT YOU, THEN WHO?

After some time, you’ll find that discipline and determination are the catalyst to trusting yourself more. This is important, and it is this key item that provides us with the confidence and inspiration boost that I mentioned earlier.

With D&D, your focused work ethic will yield more positive results.  Consequently, the likelihood of you moving out of the safe zone and taking on more (calculated) risks will increase. I hope. Instead of doing the bare minimum, you will have more energy and  prowess to pursue those things that have been gnawing at you since the beginning because you now trust in your abilities like you never have before!! You had been waiting to start that academic program, side hustle ($$$) or new fitness challenge, and now, you have the know-how and the turbo to make it happen.

JUST DO IT — THE FOOTNOTES

No one wants to get up for work every morning unless you work for Google, intake the daily recommended glasses of water (where’s the Pinot Noir?) or head to the gym. Sadly, when it comes to adulthood not wanting to do something is just not a sufficient reason to skip over challenges! You would be missing out on A LOT!

But if you’re finally ready to see an improvement in your productivity, creativity and life all around, take discipline and determination with you. You’ll be surprised at what’s awaiting you on the other side.

 

Advertisements

Like that which the Wind Carried Away

To read about it in your high school textbook is one thing. But to actually experience the Trans-Atlantic slave trade through your own senses is another.

Approaching the castle, you really don’t know what to expect. The week before you dreamed about horrific images of mal-nourished people being beaten mercilessly and treated like human waste. Last night you tried to emotionally prepare yourself for the torment. And today comes. You stand in front of the castle. All of those dreams, lectures and last minute preparations are washed away by beach waves of nerves and anxiety.

Or at least that’s how I felt…

Re-visiting Cape Coast and the Elmina slave castle felt like a new experience. I knew exactly what I was going to expect, but it was as though my memory had failed me because I missed out some crucial details like the putrid vomit smell mixed with stifling mold that covered the walls of the female dungeon quarters. However, that gut wrenching odor couldn’t be compared to real-life conditions some hundreds of years ago. Imagine a hot, stuffy room overflowing with 150 or more women crouching to preserve space. Their own menstruation, feces, vomit among other fluids surrounding them. Since there were no separate quarters for children, young boys would be kept in the male dungeons and the young girls would be kept with their female elders. A girl under 10 years old in those conditions is nearly unfathomable, outside of the fact that this was once–and in some places in the world, today–a reality.

The room had very little ventilation, and one of the openings in the main female dungeon led to the magazine, where ammunition was kept. Gun powder fumes and other explosive gases would seep into the female dungeon quarters, suffocating the already dying and the sick.

Image
Taken by me in 2011

In front of the main female dungeon was an opening where, after the Governor chose his woman for the evening, she was made to wash up in front of her counterparts and white, male captains. After being washed and given a small portion of food for sustenance, she was led up a flight of stairs that took her straight to the Governor’s bedroom. There he had his way with her, either for the night or for longer. Still, this abuse was not enough. She would then be violated and raped in sequence by his subordinates, all before she returned to the miserable and foul quarters to rejoin her peers.

Image
Photo of the stairwell leading to the Governor’s room. (taken in 2011, my first visit to Elmina)

After the tour of the female quarters, we were taken around the rest of the castle. Towards the end of the tour, we visited a dungeon were slaves were taken to be punished. There, “unruly” slaves would be kept until they died. At times, the living and the dead would be chained together, and although the captains knew one died, they did nothing. The mental and emotional torment had to have been tremendous. The living slave had to sit, idly awaiting his own death.

We were also taken to the door/dungeon of no return, where slaves were gathered before they were shipped across the Atlantic. Standing in that room, many of my colleagues shed tears of disbelief and anguish. Around us, there were wreaths that were placed by past vistors– commemorating the loss of their ancestors to this trade of human cargo.

Image
The final exit for the slaves. (taken in March 2011)

Today this castle stands as proof to much of history’s nightmares and dark secrets. Much of African Diaspora as we know it today, started with selling and trading–with Elmina as one of those sites. Many people would like to hush the whispers that are heard through these castle walls, claiming that we’re in a post-racial society. But how could we ever be? Many of us still wear the brand that made us to be sold and traded in the first place. My skin color could never change. Neither can the shape of my nose, lips, nor the coils in my hair–at least not without external modifications.  Furthermore, because we’re in the 21st century oppression changes shape accordingly–so please don’t think because you aren’t being sold and made to be a slave, that you aren’t just that: a slave. Our ancestors that left those Atlantic shores are like the chaff which the wind carried away…

The Guilt?

Castro and his son, Onyx

Caveat:

Just because you’re black doesn’t mean you are automatically welcomed, invited, or accepted into an environment of other blacks.

Just because you are of a specific nationality/ethnicity doesn’t mean you have to be proud of your nation’s history, present or future.

This is the reality of our world.

Continue reading “The Guilt?”