Poetry Corner: A Chance’s Ballad

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Ms. Dyson, I wanna believe but how am I supposed to have faith when I walk in these streets.
vacos, hookers and needles
Everything around me was designed to defeat me.
Yea I hear what you saying and trust that you’re true but none of that is helping me deal with the constant red and blue.
The pop pop pow
That’s as common as music.
Normalized.
I can’t function in this state of calm you’re pushin’.
You’re intentions are good but your advice to walk away from the war that is my life might get me killed.
See conflict is not just a conflict.
Conflict is life.
Just like war, street conflicts speak dollars and these dollars put food on the table.
Ms. Dyson, I know you wouldn’t want me to abandon my family.
These dreams you speak of and hopes you have for me…
There no room for.
Dreaming is selfish.
No room for dreams in the hood.

Can’t even dream in my sleep
You’re always poking me
“Not in my room” you say
Then where?
How many times I gotta tell you I gotta a family to feed
And I’m only 16 so not too many tryna pay me
Its aight tho
I learned young not to depend on no one.
The hustle is the only constant.
Can’t do my kinda hustle under the eye of the sun
And to protect what’s mine sometimes I have to use my…
Well, I don’t want you to see me that way.

Would you believe me if I said I don’t want to be bad?
Do you think God hears me when I tell him I’m sad?

What kinda God would let so many innocent people struggle?

Not my God.

Where I’m from, you gotta be your own God

And sometimes someone else’s.

Life and death lies in the index finger.

Mine is on the trigger

But Ms. Dyson believe when I say I wanna be a better person.

I do some fucked up things

But I believe the means justify the ends.

Maybe I won’t be shit

But lil sister…

She’ll be a queen.

Inspired by books and classy things.

My baby Bro

Won’t ever know the struggle of poisoning his own.

No hope for me except my hopes for them.

So I sacrifice

So they can be

Be better

Be happy

Hell anything that requires them to be… here

The world I mean.
Ms.Dyson did you hear about the murder today?

Walked out the door and I saw the crime scene tape on display/

Not even 7am and it’s already hot.

It makes me sick

Knowing that nigga coulda been me.

Pure or corrupt

We all have targets on our backs.

Keep ya back against the wall so you see the threats coming
I wanna be everything you say I can be

But that kinda success means jumping blindly.

Do you think I can afford blind faith?
You say everything thing worth having is worth fighting for.

Well, I’m fighting for my life.

But maybe just maybe you’re right

Look, If I make it through another night

If I can walk down one block without getting shot

I’ll reach for the stars you talk about.

I’ll be somebody special you can brag about.
Bang bang pop.
Ms. Dyson…

just say you’ll never forget who I was

Not the thug the news will describe me as

Know that I wanted everything we talked about

Just feels like I was never given the . . .

Just feels like life stole my . . .

Just feel like this bullet just ended my . . .

chance.

 

 

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*This poem is not to be republished. 

Poetry corner: On and Off

In 2017, I’ve been dabbling in poetry. I am not a poet but I have found a love for it. I hope you like and can relate to this piece.


60% of the population is involved in an on and off again relationship.
And we fall right in.
A statistic.
We are a statistic that proves we can’t get our shit together.
We try and we try
Until…
We don’t.
I squeezed and squeezed.
Holding on tight, afraid to let you go.
I held on so tightly, My love caused asphyxiation.
Stifled.
I stopped your breathing.
Oppressed your ability to love me freely.
You ran from me.
On to a place that felt like paradise.
Because my heart no longer felt like your vacation.
Distance.
You got it.
And right when I was ok with seeing you on the horizon, you came in with the tide.
You missed me.
Your vacation from your vacation was over.
No longer needed.
I resisted.
I began to realize I was happier alone.
Without you.
When the stress of trying to keep you dissipated
I found me.
A spirit that seemed anxious eternally was finally free.
Free of rejection,
Sadness and  disharmony.
But still you came.
You  pull at the strings of my heart commanding me to give it another try.
I conceded.
At one point you made me happier than anything in the world.
So I tried.
I had knocked down the walls you forced me to build when you decided you needed space.
Love.
It was happening again.
We were so drawn together that the thought of separation was frightening.
I’d wrap my arms around your neck and stare into your eyes.
Forever.
The word your lips mouthed before they connected to mine.
Connection.
The act our bodies made time and time again.
Our spirits finally aligned and it felt like we were one.
Thump.
The sound your heart made when my ear was against your chest.
Your arms wrapped around me as if leaving this position was unthinkable.
This was beautiful.
But man cannot just admire beauty.
Something in man drives him to destroy anything he finds beauty in.
Maybe I knew this and I began to squeeze too tight again.
Maybe you made shit up to get space again.
Maybe it was just not meant to be.
Maybe.
Maybe we know love not.
We have confused addiction with the confliction Of love.
We.
Are.
Addicted to the euphoria that comes with every breakup.
We are enchanted by the sensation that comes with sex after every makeup.
You love to hear me say it’s yours despite time.
The look on your face when I do my thing is worth every feeling of regret after.
I’m not in love.
But I would love to be.
We know it won’t work but the make up is the win of every breakup and we have no problem doing it again.

Imani’s Top Books of 2016

Now that the year is over, I can FINALLY discuss my favorite books that I read this year.   I made it a mission to read a new book every month that had nothing to do with work or school.

1.Daughters of Jerusalem

This gem was one of the first books I read in 2016.   Joan Wolf explores the story of Mary Magdalene, a woman we often hear about when discussing the bible. Some believe she was a whore. In this fictional story the author explains how Mary got the label and how she transitioned to be one of Jesus’ first female disciples. It is a beautiful story of redemption, faith and female empowerment.

2.Milk and Honey

Rupi Kaur has a beautiful and raw way of expressing what it means to be a woman. Through short poems and simplistic art, she perfectly captures the complexities, emotions and power that make up womanhood. This is a must read.

3.Parable of the Talents

Octavia Butler’s talents, follows the life of Lauren Olamina when the world is filled with complete anarchy, pain and suffering. Butler clearly has some prophetic gifts as this story painfully mirrors the direction the world seems to be going in. There is even a president the spews hate and discord such as the president elect now. Similarly to my first two picks, this story has a strong female lead and captures her ambition, empathy and ability to love perfectly.

I read so many other awesome books last year but the above three really stood out to me.   I am so excited about exploring more literature in 2017. If you love to read as well, I suggest becoming a Kindle Unlimited member. I have access to thousands of free books and Audibles. I was able to explore so many books that I wouldn’t have read otherwise. Through Kindle Unlimited I read Daughters of Jerusalem, The Wait, Queen Sugar, Yellow Crocus, and Trail of Broken Tears.

 

What books are you all reading?  What books do you suggest for others this year?

A Year in Review: Imani Vision (2016)

2016 was good to me.


I know many have complained about how terrible this year has been but I don’t share this sentiment. It was a good year. I was able to grow personally, spiritually and professionally. I had some major moments this year. I was able to see my friends and family thrive. I was able to deal with my life’s obstacles and make the best of many situations. I had a few fails as well but overall, my failures, mistakes and obstacles didn’t taint all of the positive thinks that happen to me and my loved ones. To kick off the new year and my return to blogging regularly, here are a few of my highlights from last year.

 

  1. I bought a house! This was literally the last thing that happened this year. On December 23, 2016, I officially became a homeowner. My house was a short sell and the battle to close was long but soooo worth it. My home is beautiful. It has character and it was purchased undervalue. Everyday I come home, I feel blessed and amazed. God saw it fit for a 25 year old to become a homeowner. I plan to blog about my buying process and tips at a later date.
  2. I know travel is not new to me but after a year of struggling financially, I was able to get back to my love affair with traveling. I was able to go to several new cities including: Puerto Rico, Washington D.C., Miami, Memphis and Baton Rouge. I lived it up in New Orleans with my best friends, danced with the locals in San Juan and drink free wine Beachside in San Juan. I had to sit back towards the end of the year to purchase my home but this years travels definitely make up for the year I spent grounded.
  3. In 2016, I completed year one of teaching. I survived a year with teenagers and began year two. I have improved in so many ways and my desire to improve is only growing. I have built relationships with my students and peers. While teaching can be stressful and its hard work, I love my job. I love that my career directly impacts the people I care about the most. How many people can say that their job has the potential to make the world better? I go into work with this attitude and it helps get through the hard days and stress.
  4. I failed at this in 2016. I am still trying to understand how I allowed fitness to get almost none of my attention this year. In previous years, health and fitness has been a top priority of mine. I ran a ½ marathon, increased muscle mass, found holistic health options. So why didn’t this translate in 2016? Stress! I wasn’t giving myself enough self care. I was so focused on negativity and work that I forgot to take care of my body. I was burning out. The last few months of this year, I began to take care of my body again. I am losing some of the weight I gained at the first half of the year. It is definitely a goal to get back to my ‘pre-teaching weight.
  5. I am really proud of the relationships I have with my family and friends. It can be so hard to balance work, self and relationships. I like to think I did a good job of balancing the ones I love with my endeavors. There is always room for improvement but I know my loved ones know my love for them. As far as dating, I suck but we can’t be good at everything.
  6. Faith. I spent the greater part of the year rededicating my life to God. I never forgot about God but God was not a priority. I joined my church about a year ago and have been so inspired by my River of Life church family.  They are constant motivations to live a life of purpose and faith.

 

Bonus: Books. I have always been a lover of books thanks to my mother and TeeTee. This year, I wanted to get back to this love. I decided to read a book a month that had NOTHING to do with work or school. Sounds silly but when you are reading two-three books at a time for something other than pure enjoyment, it takes the fun out of reading. I read some awesome books this year. Find my top picks here. Reading is a powerful tool.

Black Mizzou: We Are The Elite


The University of Missouri, better known as Mizzou, has a sea of problems.  The biggest problem being systemic and blatant racism, classism, and gender based violence.  My alma mater has been in the news over the last few years and few of the reports are positive.  

I graduated in December 2012.  I spent 3 and ½ years actively working against campus and community racism and sexual and domestic violence against women.  I was involved passionately in the school’s NAACP, RSVP (Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention), LBC (black student government) and more.  So while recent news seems to be ‘exposing’ how oppressive Mizzou has become, it has always had those elements.  Mizzou’s first accept black student, Lloyd Gaines, subsequently went missing after his lawsuit (Read about Gaines Now).  My point is, this is nothing new. (check out my old blog from the college days).

Students of color who choose to go to PWIs (predominantly white institutions)  must go into it knowing that they will not fit in.  You must acknowledge that for every nice and liberal white person you meet, there is one closet or blatant racist in the crowd.  There will be classes where you are the only black person.  There will MANY, MANY times where your response will represent ALL black people to those ignorant white students.  For those of us that grew up in poverty, you will also have to deal with your financial hardship in a sea of spoiled, rich kids.  Some of your well off peers will only work to pay for booze, while you struggle to pay for a meal.  It can be frustrating. There will be times where you wonder why you have to work so hard.  (Please read Nikki Giovanni’s, College Racism 101,  It is required reading  here ). 


All that being said, I (overall) LOVED going to Mizzou.  I made some of the best friends of my life.  I had some of the best opportunities.  I made lifelong connections with some of my professors.  I can only speak on MIZZOU, but we had (and from what I have heard still has) one of the strongest black communities I have ever witnessed.  The desire to fit into the rest of the Mizzou community was non existent because we had our own.  We had our own student government, professional organizations, choir, homecoming, events, parties, etc.  We had our own midday meeting area.  We had our own twitter hashtag.  I know that some of, if not all of this, is a part of the systemic racism black students at mizzou have had to endure over time but we successful and excelled in spite and despite all of this.  


Similarly to HBCUs, we had the opportunity to connect to Black excellence in a way that endures longer than the college experience.  It is our constant reminder in a sea of whiteness that we are absolutely amazing.  I went to college with people that not only went on to be business men and women, lawyers, teachers, doctors and nurses but actors, artists, entrepreneurs, authors, social media coordinators, journalist, and more.  I am soooo proud of every single person I got to know at MIZZOU and those I didn’t know.  We exude excellence and magic and joy.  We didn’t just become successful for ourselves but for our community.  Many of us still volunteer, or work in non profits.  

I know that this does not undo all of the negative aspects of MIZZOU and other PWIs but it shows you how strong we are.  Its shows how little we need to fit into mainstream society (whatever that means).  I am a teacher now, and when my students ask me about my experience at Mizzou, this is what I tell them.  I tell them that society may treat them  as if they don’t belong.  As if they do not have the capacity to be great without assimilating.  It will make them feel inferior at times but they are not.  They are the strongest people most of the world has ever seen.  They are creative and compassionate.  They are logical and calculating.  They won’t fit in because they were made to stand out.  


My fellow Mizzou Alum, y’all taught me that.  You all taught me that we are beautiful and tough.  We are educated hustlers.  We are spiritual and hold knowledge beyond our years.  I love you guys.  I love all of the future Mizzou tigers too.  Keep your head up.  Don’t give up and Mizzou is just as much yours as the rest of the students.

-Imani

What Happened, Miss Simone?

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Many days, I have listened to the soulful tune of Nina Simone. Nina Simone the musical legend. Nina Simone the activist. This past Friday, I FINALLY got the chance to catch the documentary titled What Happened, Miss Simone. For several months I had been urged to watch the film on Netflix. However, I never had the time to fully dedicate my attention to the documentary until this weekend.

A new fan of her work, I was very interested to learn more about her. Like many people my age, I had heard her name and a few songs or two but it wasn’t until this past spring that I really began to dive into her music and learn more about her.

What happened, Miss Simone, is a beautifully put together documentary about Nina. The film was composed of interviews from Nina and those who knew her, as well as, pictures and journal entries. It was a perfect dive into the mind of young Nina Simone. The film brought attention to the loneliness of many gifted artists and the struggle to face reality and their creativity.

More than learning about the ingenious of Nina Simone and what made her tick creatively. The film discussed in detail the symptoms of mental illness. Nina Simone was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder and had battles with depression her entire life. In the film, it was said that people had notice her mood changes and sometimes erratic behavior but it wasn’t until later in life that an actual diagnoses was made. The black community even now has difficulty acknowledging mental illness and the seriousness of it. It is still a taboo subject that is often ignored or downplayed. The film does well to acknowledge he illness without discrediting her as an artist or activist. There are some who have stated that, male artist are rarely menaced with the state of the minds after passing. I find this to be true, however, the need to discuss mental illness in the black community was outweighed this point for me.

This documentary is well worth the time. It gives a glimpse into who Nina was in her own words and through the words of those who experienced her.   It also brought much needed attention to mental illness and how to deal with those who are affected by it.

If you have seen the film, what are your thoughts on it?

-Imani

Bye to the Blues Playlist

Everyone loves a good sad song. That drake assortment that fits your emo mood. Those songs that make you feel guilt free about doing nothing and going through a bottle of wine before 9pm. The Sade cry in the mirror songs. Everyone has those moments. Those “in your feelings” moments.

Don't Drake and Drive
Don’t Drake and Drive

If you’re like me, you just don’t have time for those moments. I’m far too busy to indulge in feeling sorry for myself. As much as I would love to listen to my 90s don’t leave me playlist, or the infinite amount of Drake and Jhene songs, I just can’t lose the time.  Plus, I just don’t want to.

Instead of listening to songs that keep me in my feelings, I listen to songs that uplift me and make me feel awesome about myself. They are songs that encourage a little cockiness or flat out just make me want to dance.

Get out yo feelings, check out my playlist, Share with me yours for your bad days.

  1. Classic man- Jidenna
  2. If You Dare- Jasmine Sullivan
  3. Alright- Kendrick
  4. See Line Woman- Nina Symone
  5. Yoga- Janelle Monae
  6. It was a good day- Ice Cube
  7. Smile- Kirk Franklin
  8. Feelin’ Myself- Nicki Minaj ft. Beyonce
  9. This is how we do it- Montell Jordan
  10. I’m Every Woman- Whitney Houston
  11. Smile- Boosie
  12. 5 Star- Yo Gotti
  13. Happy- Pharrell
  14. I don’t get tired- Kevin Gates
  15. IDFWU- Big Sean
  16. Yonce- Beyonce
  17. Flawless- Beyonce
  18. Get Right- Jennifer Lopez
  19. Trap Queen- Fetty Wap
  20. Some Type of Way- Rich Home Quan
  21. Post to be- Omarion
  22. Eff up some Commas- Future

-Imani

***Don’t question my playlist. Just know it works for me. 😉

Reflections On Ghana : Part 2

In Ancestral Park
In Ancestral Park

Despite getting in late, and sleeping even later, all of the Americans I arrived with woke up bright and early. The sound of the Muslim prayer and the neighborhood rooster may have assisted with this early wake up. The house that we would be staying in was absolutely beautiful. It was a small one-story house with a large gated front yard. The house was painted white with mint green accent and finishes and was decorated with beautiful pink ad yellow flowers. There were three bedrooms decked out with endless bunk beds for our stay. Pro World allowed their school partners to stay there for the entire trip, while the home stay interns only stayed here the weekend before meeting their Ghanaian families.

The Pro World House
The Pro World House

The rest of the Mizzou students wouldn’t arrive until later that night so myself and about 10 others followed the ProWorld staff on a site tour. On this first day, we visited a Cape Coast collaborative for children and young adults with disabilities. The collaborative we visited was at the top of a large hill. The estate was simple yet beautiful, representing the tropics of Ghana well. This school in particular, focused on the trade of sewing and design. There were beautifully crafted sewing machines at every table. We were joined by several other American groups and together we began our first interaction with the Ghanaian girls at the school. We were shown how to use the sewing machines, given a quick tour of the school, and overall just got to know the girls.

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The next day, all of the Mizzou students had arrived. As a group we took a walking tour of Cape Coast Ghana. We walked through town, where there was a never-ending market for food, fabric and other necessities. We walked through Rasta row were we met genuine Rastas, who would later become our friends, and viewed their art. We got our first view of the Cape Coast Castle, a castle used to house slaves before sending them to the Americas.

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The tour ended on the beach, surrounded by a group of Ghanaian children who had abandoned their sales and responsibilities to greet us. They were mostly amazed by the large group of white Americans, and the cameras we were glued too. We ended up doing an impromptu photo shoot. Ghanaian children, like all children, love having their pictures taken. The day was, all in all, joyous. The children would prove to be the greatest part, as the trusted and loved so easily. The entire day we had attracted children to our group and they would follow us until their mothers had decided they had gone too far. Never had I seen children so beautiful, happy and fearless.

Cape Coast Castle
Cape Coast Castle

The first excursion we had holds a special place in my heart. We were finally taking a tour of the slave castle. I had wanted to tour this castle since learning of it back in America. For me, Cape Coast was like Jerusalem for black Americans. Many of us had no clue of history beyond America and for me this was as close as I would get (maybe). Walking through the castle, seeing the dungeons and chains that once held African people captive was heart wrenching. In many of the holding cells, there were letters sprayed on the wall, representing the height of fecal matter that people were forced to live in as they waited to be sent away. Our tour guide (who had the most eerie presenting voice) told us of how women would be summoned to soldiers’ rooms and if they refused they would be beaten and chained. Finally we got to the doors of no return. Once slaves had reached this point, they would never return to Africa. It was the sealing of fate. It was so much to take in. Of course we all learned about slavery and the slave trade in school but there is something about being in the place were so many died, was abused and broken down that makes it feel… different…real.

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Doors of No Return

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In the male slave dungeon.  Behind me you should see the painted letters representing the fecal levels in the cell.
In the male slave dungeon. Behind me you should see the painted letters representing the fecal levels in the cell.


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Next we went to the Ancestral River Park. A park dedicated to walk to the slave castle. In this park we were able to see the great history of Ghana’s presidents, as well as the sad history of the “last bath” for many Africans who were enslaved. The trail we took was the path that so many were forced to take. We crossed into the river were slave captors forced their captives to bath for the last time before selling them off at the castle. Like the slave castle, it felt so surreal. It wasn’t all sad though. These tragic marks on Ghanaian history were very much integrated into their modern world. As we went through the park and saw the river, the graveyards, the displays of chains and guns, we also beautiful children lounging in the park. We saw nature taking over and making this site beautiful despite its past horrors.

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This weekend changed me forever. I knew who I was before but I couldn’t quite grasp how much our ancestors did for us. I thought about the strength it took to not just fall down in die during these times. The abuse, the conditions and the loss of freedom would be too much for so many, yet our ancestors survived it. Many refused to die. They survived the capture, the stay at the castle, the long and grueling boat rides, the rapes and beatings, the deaths of others around them. So while I was so sad to stand in the place where so many lost their lives and their freedom, I also felt so powerful. My entire being, and many of you out there, is because of the superhero like strength of those enslaved. My love for my people grew a million times after this.

Words cannot do this experience justice.

-Imani

Reflections on Ghana: Part 1

   

  

 In 2011, I embarked on my biggest adventure yet. I was spending the summer abroad in Cape Coast, Ghana with 14 other Mizzou students. I must admit, going to Africa, was never on the top of my travel priorities. I had never gone out of the country and I always imagined my first trip abroad being in Europe and gallivanting in Paris. I knew that at some point, I would embark on a journey in an African country but never did I imagine Ghana as my very first travel experience.

  
I tend take things as signs, so when I saw the flyer advertising a service trip in Ghana three times, I knew that it was in the cards for me to go. My sophomore year of college, I had gotten more involved with service and had recently switched my major from business to political science. It all seemed to fit so perfectly together. I jumped at the chance. I had no clue how I would pay for the trip and I knew absolutely nothing about Ghana but I decided I would go, so go I did. (I highly recommend applying for the Gilman Scholarship if you qualify).
After struggling and worrying about how I would pay for the trip, it finally worked itself out (Thank you Jesus). I found myself on the longest flight ever (around 11 hours total) heading to Ghana. On my way from the restroom on the flight, a Ghanaian woman promptly handed me her baby and instructed me to sit in her so that she could go to the restroom. It doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, but it was the first Ghanaian encounter I had. In America, a stranger would not dare hand their child to a stranger but in Ghana, I found that trust was a given. Raising a child was a community task and this flight was no different. I learned about the trusting nature of Ghanaian people before I even landed.
  
Fast forward to landing. I arrived in Accra on a sunny June day. There was no bridge way from the plane to the airport. We walked down the steps of the plane and into the airport. (I later found out this was not uncommon anywhere. This was my second flight ever, the first being the shuttle to DC for this flight). Going through customs was kind of frightening for me. I had never been out of the country and no one told me what to do. I was surrounded by a rainbow of languages. A friend and myself, navigated our way through the airport to find our ride. We had been told very strict guidelines about how to conduct ourselves in the airport. We were told not to let a cabby touch our bags. If one touched our bags we would be obligated to tip him regardless of the fact that his service was unwarranted.
We searched for the escort from the organization called Proworld. My university had partnered with them for group internships. Proworld was a NGO that provided interns and funding from the interns to local nonprofits, schools and clinics. The idea was that we would help provide a sustainable structure for the organization we assisted. (yes, cue the American savior music). 
We finally found our escorts without problem. We waited awhile for other Americans to arrive. My friend and I were arriving a few days earlier than the rest of the Mizzou students, so we were going to be with home stay interns for the next day or so. When we finally hit the road, we drove from Accra, the country’s capital to Cape Coast. The drive was long and tedious. Ghanaian traffic is notoriously bad so a trip that should have been about two hours took more than four. Luckily, I had a seat in the front of the 17 passenger van. I was able to get a quick tour of the country that would be my home for the next 5 weeks. I remember the dirt being so red and bright. It was like nothing I had ever seen. Driving between cities was like driving in between different worlds. Certain parts of Accra were adorned with multi colored mansions and buildings. Outside of the capital lie make shift shacks and homes barely big enough for one. While some of the sights were devastating, it still had a beauty to it that one could only understand when there. Businesses and homes were covered in cell phone logos. Children and women walked up and down the roads and through traffic selling water pouches, and plantain chips on their heads. 

After driving for hours, we finally arrived to our pro world house (its been a long time, so I do not remember the name of my town L). We arrived late night and everyone was jet lagged. We ate a quick and short meal made by our house cook, Elizabeth. Then we all went to bed for what would be our first night in Ghana. I fell asleep dreaming about how the rest of my Ghanaian adventure would go.

What I was seeing was just a precursor to what I would soon know as Ghana. Ghana is a land filled with beauty, inspiration, and love as well as, poverty, oppression and despair. My trip to Ghana, thus far, has been the most enlightening trip I have had.

Stay tuned for a more on my Ghanaian reflection. 

   
 -Imani

Being Consistent In Your Wellness Practices

  

I pride myself on making healthier choices, finding natural alternatives and maintaining fruitful activeness but the truth is that is not always the case. 

Like many others, I find myself being inconsistent in my health journey. I do not consistently use natural methods to maintain health and prevent diseases. I don’t always make the best choices regarding my diet and how much I consume. Lately, I have not been dedicated to my fitness.

We live in a generation were outward appearance is the main motivator to work towards health goals. Truth be told, you can look amazing and not truly be healthy. My goal is to improve my quality of life and extend my youth. I will gladly get old but I never want to feel old. This goal requires me to make healthier choices now.

  
Many of my life practices are inspired and motivated by my goal to never feel old. If your goal is to always maintain your health and to grasp that youthful feeling, what are you doing today? Are you straddling the lines of healthy and unhealthy?
I have found that Consistency is key. I have not mastered this, yet I know that my inconsistency in my efforts towards health is a step towards sickness and dependence. We should all work to maintain healthy diets, weights, and healthy amounts of activities, and stress reducing practices.
If you have a tendency to be inconsistent like me, try thinking about your behaviors and practices when you’re dedicated to your health. Write it down and place it where you will see it regularly. 
Imani’s best health practices (non medical):

1. Be intentional about your goals. Are trying to lose weight? Prevent illnesses, improve breathing, gain muscle, aid reduction in diagnosed diseases? Whatever the case, write it down and remind yourself why your health goal is important.
2. Use a calendar. For fitness goals, I’m best when I use a calendar. Everyday I work out and run, I mark my calendar. This calendar is posted on my door so every morning, I can track my activity and I am less prone to forget.
3. Find healthier alternatives to your favorite foods. Instead of regular burgers, make turkey ones. Try sweet potatoes over regular potatoes. I also try to eat 1-2 servings of a superfoods everyday. What we put in our body is the most important factor in wellness. Find ways to make foods that are good for you, good to you as well.

  
4. Participate in stress reducing activities. Stress is literally toxic to your body. It can cause illnesses and can be a significant factor in why you have been inconsistent with your health choices. Meditate, pray, do yoga, go for a run, journal. Do whatever helps you to reduce stress. 
5. Have a no excuses attitude. When you’re off, admit that you’re off and that you dropped the ball. Yes, you work. Yes, you’re tired but nothing excuses your neglect to your body. In the long run, it’s worth the time to prepare a healthy meal. It is worth the time to try the holistic treatment to ailments. It’s worth your time to work out. Just do it.

– Imani