7/31/17

Just for funsies

Just wanted to share the cutest little walking thing on earth...

Oh sh*t, I'm 32!





Like, I need to get my sh*t together. I have been waking up the past few months and looking at myself in the mirror and really unhappy with what I see. What I do know, is that I have the discipline to do what needs to be done. However, I am tired of it going in waves. Like I go through these phases. A lot of this has to do with stress and depression. It will really kill you. I recently turned 32. Like, when did that happen though. I swear time be moving. You better move with it or you will get left. I know right now my body and my mind looks and feel sad. And, I really want to have a better hold over both. I need to take the reins back on my health. I need to do what is right for Raven. I am getting no younger. And, I know I want to be in the best health before I start popping out little Raven's lol. OMG! Like, I am seriously in baby-making age. LOL, thats pretty scary, I cannot lie. But I gotta have my body and mind right. Sometimes we get so focused on the body, and we forget the mind. But I know my mentals have a lot to do with how my body looks right now.


So today, I said, enough is enough got dammit! Back to conscious eating! Back to daily meditation! Back to feeding the mind and soul with postivity! This is no easy feat. I work really hard not to be hard on myself, but I want to make my discipline my dedication. If that makes any sense, lol. Anyways, we always gotta remember to love ourselves; even when we don't want too.


Can I get an Amen!!


(I'll give a 3 month update ;)

Proud to be American.

One my ongoing self exploration journey,lol, I have longed for something to connect with. I have always thought there had to be more. Not feeling as if this place we called America really belonged to me. Not feeling like it is my rightful place. Not feeling like my culture is deep enough. After traveling out of the country 5 times in 2 years (crazy! I know, I am sitting my a** down lol). I have found a new sense of pride in what it means to be American. 

I know I would see the American flag and not know whether or not I can identify with it. Looking at America as it being the White man's country. Not being appreciative for all the blood and sweat that my elders put in building this country.

I had for a long time envied my friends that were from other countries. How they can wear their colors proudly. How they can come together and enjoy their homeland food. It all clicked when I was in Togo. Like wait? We have all that in America. 

I am proud to be American. I am even more proud to be Black American. We are a resilient group of people. We are survivors. We are dreamers. We are inventors. We are trendsetters. I just love our swag. We have our foods. We come together. We love family. We have religion. This is OUR land too! And I am not ashamed to say I am American. I am proud! And I say that in all sincerity. Yes, we have a f*cked up history, but sh*t what country doesn't. Yes, our present can be kind of shady. But, have you watched BBC lately.   

America. We come in different shades, we come in different cultures, we speak different languages, we dress different, but doesn't make it any less than any other country. Makes it more unique actually. And I am grateful for my place in this land. 

My trip to the Mother Continent. Togo, Africa

So I finally made it. Awaited so long to go to Africa. Sh*t, anywhere in Africa. But, West Africa in particular. Why? Supposedly because of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. The dark history of what brought enslaved Africans to the Americas. The need to feel a connection to a long, lost, homeland. Being able to see with my own eyes what some of the countries are like. Well, instead of taking a trip to the beach this year for my birthday, I decided to go to Togo. 

Here in Maryland, my closest thing to a family are a group of people from Togo. Before moving to the area, I had not known anyone from the country before. But spending most of my weekends with these guys, I have learned some things about the culture, food, music and language. One of them was traveling back home this month, so I decided to tag along. At first, I thought I would base my decision on what country to visit on my DNA results. I had that done a few months ago and the results came back saying that my bloodline was 80% Nigerian. I was pretty amazed. I guess I never imagined it saying that. But it did. And, honestly, I had never really considered visiting Nigeria. Just wasn't a thought. So, I didn't want to force myself to a place that I had no desire to go to. So, Togo it was.

When I first got off the plane (after two 6 and a half hour flights, f*ck, I really hate international flying lol) I was looking for my friend. I walked out of the airport, and all I could see was Black people. LOL. I heard someone calling my name, but couldn't make out anyone. And then I seen Joe. lol. My initial reaction as we drove along the road was like "F*ck, I'm really in Africa." And then about 7 minutes later, I was like, this looks like Jamaica. And then about 15 minutes later, I was like, okay where is the country-side. LOL. Lome is where we were. The city. A bunch of motorscooters, cars, and very Western. It was a version of any other city. 

Once I got settled in, I pretty much did what my Togo family does in Maryland. We did a bunch of going to different people's houses, eating, drinking, and talking. LOL. Socializing is very big in Togo. They love it. It was a lot of the way they had fun. They were really surprised about how much I had already knew about the food and culture. I told them my friends back home had Togolized me well. They also had interesting views about Americans, similar to the way that Americans would view Africans. No one group of people is exempt from having limited views or ideas about other groups. We all have to be more open to exposing ourselves more to different people and getting to know them. 

Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to see a slave house or a voodoo village as I had hoped (fyi, not the evil sh*t that we see in Hollywood movies, but the actual religion which has been used for healing). But I got to spend time with my friend and live the Togo way. We did take a long drive across the country side that I enjoyed very much. Driving across the country, I got to see miles and miles of undeveloped lands. Which was beautiful. I also got to see small villages where people lived in huts made of hard clay. They walked miles to the closest town centers to pick up and sale items. I watched children walk miles in the pouring rain. Definitely hardcore! 

Probably the best site was the waterfall. It had to be one of the most beautiful things that I saw. We headed up North to visit a city called Kara where they would be hosting a traditional wrestling match. Unfortunately, I did get very sick, so I was not able to fully enjoy that experience. But, I did have a chance to drink the local beer. It was delicious. It was sort of like an alcoholic sour apple cider. I loved it. And we had it for breakfast, what better way to enjoy local brew.

What I learned is that African countries is like playgrounds for Europeans. Partly because of proximity and also history of colonialism. I suppose not a lot of Americans, particularly Black Americans visit African countries for vacation because of the torn history that our country has with the land. 

Another thing that stood out was how lean the people were. It made sense, people did a lot of walking. So the bodies was gorgeous. And the stuff I seen young girls carrying on their heads, it just deserves an award. LOL. Also, the guns on the girls pounding fufu. Man! Gym for what? LOL. 

Would I go back? Yes, but honestly, I am a nature bug! So, I like experiences where I can be among nature. So, I would plan a trip that can focus on that part. No city life for me, I get enough of that at home.


Thank you to all my Togo family who welcomed me in with open arms. 


6/28/17

A butterfly among bees

So this picture doesn't quite reflect my current state of mind, but use your imagination and picture 10 other bees surrounding that butterfly. LOL. A butterfly among bees. When I think of this, I think of the individual butterfly. Flying around, pollinating, spreading love and beauty, nourishing plants, and bringing smiles to those that see it fly by. Then there are the bees. Pretty much doing the same thing, but BUZZING! Moving really quickly from plant to plant to pollinate. They are very intentional, they are on a mission, and then reporting back to the queen bee. Very much a hierarchy to their madness. 

My current state of mind. Since I have moved from Oakland to DC, I have definitely struggled with finding my place. With connecting to the community. And most importantly, finding my place in the world of work. Its different here (as with most places that are not home). But, its like really different here. The pace of work (everyone just BUZZING around lol), how people speak and treat each other, how we work to help community. And let me be clear, I have been very much embedded in community and politics. Those things intersect in a real way here. And yes, I am very much a community centered person. The politics side of it, yea, not really my thing. But I am in Washington DC. You cannot escape it. It is every where. I come from a place where we value very much making change from the bottom up. I am from the land of Huey P. Newton and the Black Panther Party. I am from a city that prides it self on making noise and pushing systems to respond to their needs. On the flip, in DC, I have been feeling like I need to schmooze and play this game, in order to get work done. When really, I am just trying to uplift the power in people. 

Another thing about this place, is the value of status. Everybody wants to be somebody. Got dammit, I am somebody, and I don't aspire to be anyone other than myself. And I thought that would be appreciated. Individuality. Embracing all types of thinkers, creators, workers. It brings diversity of thought and execution. But, I have been feeling like as if I was being molded to become a BEE. Clipping my wings. Making them shorter and snappy-er. LOL. Yes, that's like nearly impossible. 

I am not out here trying to prove my being to anyone else, besides my community. And when I say prove myself to my community, the only thing I want to prove is that I can be a part of the change that I want to see. And I do not need to be applauded for that. I do not need to be given an award for that. 

I have done something that can be hands down one of my most brave moves today. I chose Raven. I chose health. I chose principles. I chose my sanity. I chose my well-being. I quit my job. Yes, I quit my job and I currently am very uncertain what my next moves are. However, I had to do what was right for myself. 

Life is too short. Too short to be stressed. Too short not to feel valued. Too short not to recognize the beauty that you bring to the world. Too short not to be brave. 

This butterfly will find her home.

4/23/17

SOUL FOOD

Exercise

Meditation

Good Food

....then repeat

😊😊

Even happy people get sad...

Yes, overall I am a pretty positive person. One of the young homie's put it best "Raven, you have such a happy disposition." Yes, this is true. My outward facing is positive, easy going, free spirited human being. However, I battle low moments also. Feeling not confident. Feeling inferior. Feelings of confusion. Feelings of negativity. Feeling like, "why must I live this type of life?" And what I am learning more and more, that is also me. Because even happy people get sad...

This is something I cannot run from. Life throws us all kinds of twist and turns. Put us in situations that pushes our thinking of what we have imagined ourselves to be, And sometimes, when these moments occur, we are not sure how to react. And for me, a lot of times, I can easily just shut down. When I shut down, it is very hard to function. Very hard to be productive. And even more hard to remain positive. 

When I have these moments, the logical person knows what it is that I have to do. However, sometimes you just want to sit in it. You want to have a moment to embrace what you are feeling in order to let it all out. But, I am good at putting a time constraint around that "sunken place." Because it isn't healthy to stay in it for long. So, I do what I need to do, in order to ground myself. 

BUT, the key is consistency. And what I am learning about myself, is that I can no longer go on these hypes of "fixing" myself. I need balance, And in order to stay in balance, I must make self-care a way of life instead of a temporary band-aid fix. 

So today, I am dedicating myself to myself. Dedicated to loving Raven, And to love Raven, to really love Raven, I must take care of myself. I cannot depend on others for that. This is not to say that I do not need help from other people, because I do. Even more than ever. And I have allowed myself to be vulnerable  and ask people for help. Never be afraid to ask for help. However, know that all people have their limitations. So, make sure that you do not expect no more from anyone, than they can give you.

Okay, back to self care. Its called soul food. Mind, Body and Soul. This girl needs wraparound services. A holistic approach. It is a journey. But I am ready for it. And I working to have folks around me who can be supportive to this journey. In a way that holds me accountable, but doesn't push me where I am not ready to be pushed. 

Today, I smile. Today, I feel renewed. Today, I focus on self. Today, I love me. Why, because I am a beautiful person. I am a great contribution to my community and this world. I desire to be the best version of self. And that takes time, patience, and dedication.

Remember to love self, limit the "sunken place" and never expect more from people than what they can provide.

Raven Willoughby, I f*cking love you!!