A day with: The Heidelberg Project

If you’re all caught up with my latest posts – particularly my traveling one, you’ll know that we’re on Day 4 of conquering my almost 3-yr-hiatus flying on the plane. Days one to three were wonderfully spent in Chicago, and boop! A $5 dollar, 5-hr ride later, I hit the streets of Michigan. While there’s so much I could delve into for Days 4 and 5 in Ann Arbor and Detroit, what stood out to me most was the Heidelberg Project.

Here are some friends and I walking into the experience.

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In a community that had a 55 percent mortality rate, the Heidelberg project was an opportunity to make art out of a place that would otherwise be forgotten. Would there by any other way to get people from all over the country in a neighborhood like this? – Tyree Guyton, creator

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I mean, just look at the pics…A man with a vision to re-create urban Detroit’s reality – because he was born, raised, and lost 3 brothers to the environment here – Mr. Guyton took his background in painting and sculpting to the streets. Literally. Piles of household trash from abandoned houses became his drawing pad.

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So my friends and I are talking about this creative space and the concept when a man speaks up behind us, Where are you ladies from? We all start talking about our backgrounds, our belief systems, what keeps us going, and then a too-thin woman with gaunt cheeks and a swinging gait calls out to him from the opposite sidewalk. They speak and he turns to us. I give them jobs to help clean up and paint…gets them off the street. We had been talking to the creator himself the whole time! I was so giddy and questioned his ear off.

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Clocks are a recurring theme throughout the project. He explained to us that it represents time and reinforces that history matters but that now matters too. What time is it? Now is the time. Now is the time for change. He then instructed me to look out the yellow frame with him (pic above). We’re looking out into our future and we individually have the power to redefine that and how people see it.

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Best drive-by I ever had. If you feel so inspired, please support the mission. The Heidelberg Project has single-handedly taken the brokenness, violence and and fear of East Side Detroit and has begun to reconstruct it to one of vitality, hope and healing. I’m sure this is only the beginning.  

Travelers, have any of you seen similar projects of revitalization in other communities? Please share! I’d love to check them out.

How to hurt people you love most

Easy. Just get hurt.

Everyone has heard that adage, “hurt people, hurt people.” It made sense in theory but I didn’t really get it till one day, I found myself lashing out in defensiveness toward people I love. Why am I acting like this? Every comment, suggestion, and let’s not even talk about constructive criticism – it all felt like an attack against my identity, my personality and my character. I was like a soldier, armed and ready. I had to stand up for myself and prove them wrong no matter the cost. The recipients of my reactions were confused and hurt. “Girl, I didn’t mean it like that. You know that I love you.” I did know, but in the moment of their first comment, all I could think of was how their words lined up with the negativity others in my past had spewed and I couldn’t help but connect it all. It’s all your fault. “No! Lemme tell you…” It became hard to separate the past and present and I simply had nothing left but a quiver of hurtful words.

I had to take some time to think about this because I could still recall the days of shielding myself from hurtful defensive entitled arrows. Arrows of ‘I REFUSE to let you define me,’ AND ‘yes, you’re dear to me but I absolutely will crush your spirit before I allow mine to be crushed any further,” OR ‘I get what you’re saying but you don’t get what I’ve been through so I have a right to do what I want and ignore what hurts you.’ How did I now become that person?

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It’s a wicked cycle. You see, the people who crushed me with their hurtful actions were once crushed. They too had optimistic dreams about life and their future till someone who had been let down, brought them down. What we’re really saying with our actions is, “If I’m not up, you can’t stay up.” So we bring someone else down with our internalized entitlement, envy, and negativity – often, the closest ones to us. After all, haven’t we been dealt a bad hand at life compared to them? And on and on and on it goes.

Now, I’m afraid that I’ve drawn you into this story without a definite answer. How do we stop the cycle? How do I not hurt those I love even while I hurt, show unconditional love even though I struggle to recieve it? There must be a way to heal and hug it out, right? To be honest, I don’t have concrete answers to these questions, and I didn’t take time to Google either. BUT, one thing did come to me.

Relativity.

We are all human, frail and weak. I relate to you as a human, as someone with dreams, as someone who loves people, as someone who is flawed, as someone who was also let down in some way in life. From that place, I can support. If I look at you as less-than, a foe, or a competitor, I stand alert and dry-eyed, waiting to attack you back (or first). But if I see you as someone who is in as equal a need for God as I am, as equal a need for love and acceptance as me, then I can use those as threads of relativity so that we both can get help. Perhaps…if we didn’t always try to differentiate ourselves from each other and trusted our similarities, we could put down the hurt and start building.

…and the greatest of these is love.

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my gang of cousins – and Grandma!

Share: In what ways do you fight against hurting those you love when you are hurt? Or is this something you struggle with?

No limits, no boundaries: Chi-TOWN babeee!

Hey there, loyal followers! I hope your day is as sunny as mine. Warmth finally decided to settle in New York and it’s actually scorching if you walk more than 3 blocks. But I’m not complaining!

I wrote a post on Instagram and here on the blog detailing my issues with flying before Chicago. Long story short, my last five years of any air travel included EXCRUCIATING ear and sinus pain, temporary hearing loss, splitting impenetrable migraines, wheezing and common flu symptoms. Naturally, I got travel anxiety and resigned myself to 30-hr train rides and no international time. I wasn’t losing my hearing over no vacay. Till this trip, I hadn’t gone on a plane in almost three years. I know it’s only a local trip but it meant sooooo much to me!  Giving up meat, going HAM on water and vitamins, and just trusting God led to my first pain-free flight in years. And my first trip solo! Woooooot!

So begins my travel journal:

DAY 1: Chicago, IL. Flight day. I literally made NO plans for Chicago. I just wanted to land with hearing, ha! When I landed, I did a few victory dances, explored my GORGEOUS downtown neighborhood on the Chicago Transit Authority – which was almost as robust as the MTA in NYC – and went to a nearby music cafe to chill out.

Unfortunately, the snapchat video of my day isn’t uploading but here’s a quick look.

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DAY 2: Chicago, IL. Don’t judge me but I woke up at 7 am only to get caught up in a book in my Airbnb host’s bookcase. It was way too philosophical a read that early in the morning. 4 hours later (!), I finally headed out, hit up some of Chicago’s finest touristy hotspots, met a sweet new subscriber (hey girl!!), and hopped on a 90-min architectural boat tour. That’s when I fell in love. ::flips hair:: “well hello there, Chicago. You look so good and dapper sitting here all pretty, with rippling water and amazing architecture.” After that lil tryst, I ended my evening with an amazing service at a local church – All Nations Worship Assembly. Amaaaazing energy, worship, everything!

 

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DAY 3: Chicago, IL. Remember all the love I had for Chicago on Day 2?? Things changed after the wind blew and froze my bone marrow. I stepped out of my apartment that morning and turned right back around to put on everything I could possibly layer. ::brrr:: Chicago will have to be my long-distance love. My last full day was for doing things I don’t take the time to do in New York: going to the zoo, museums, the aquarium, the planetarium, etc. etc. I ended up purchasing the Chicago CityPass, which I highly recommend if you’re going to at least 3 places. It felt weird to be grown and at the aquarium admiring turtles with hundreds of children but I quickly got over it. I went back to the same church that night and man, it topped the night before!

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Suspended in air, encased in a glass box, 1,353 ft in the air.

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DAY 4: Off to Michigan!

I love, love, love Chicago – or what I got to see so far. I can’t wait to go back and visit all the places I didn’t get to go.

Stay tuned for a quick highlight on Michigan, sobering Flint trip coverage, and other #TTF topics.

Let’s talk: Have you ever been limited from doing something you love, determined to go after it, and succeeded?! After this trip, the world is now my oyster! Share your story below!

Resources I used: A follow-up on depression

Happy Saturday! It’s beautiful here in New York – I decided to take a long walk this morning and all the bugs in my neighborhood, who were apparently excited about the weather as well,  decided to join me…so I’m sitting here writing and itching. Anyways,

I was floored by the response for my last post. I mean, at one point I just sat down heavily and stared blankly at the wall. I never imagined it would have that kind of impact and that so many would relate. Friends started messaging me about their past or how they were scared because a loved one seemed to be slipping away. People I didn’t even know reached out asking for help with current struggles. And many others simply thanked me for being brave enough to share. At that, I just laughed.  Ya’ll, I am not fearless. In fact, this is one of the most vulnerable periods of my life – I am changing, things around me are shifting, and my dreams have outgrown my resources. But that’s the power of testimony. It’s moving in the midst of the uncertainty and you simply being you opens more doors.

I couldn’t just come back and say, “Great, now that you’ve all opened up your hearts to me about needing help and my stats are up, let’s talk about Chi-town.” That can wait for a second.

This post is listing just a few of the resources I used to help me climb. I inundated myself with books, workshops, sermons, and classes. The resources below are mostly about mental health but expand past that. Read books on wealth (a wealthy mindset is more than just money), on the world and other cultures (it takes your mind off you and your problems), on things that interest you or you’re talented in (because this sad season shall pass. I currently love architecture, fresh seasonal food, and beauty). OK, let’s get into your mindthis is where it all starts. Share this with someone you think may need it! I still read and re-read (and re-read) these books.

  • The Bible. The most important resource. Camera and manual. Ikea desk and instrux sheet. Inventor and product. People and Bible. If I’m broke down, I need to find the inventor of me, and what the manual says to go where so I can stand the way I should.
  • I Need A Day To PrayLet’s just get this out the way: I love Tina. I see my friends rolling their eyes right now. LOL. If you ever tuned in to the Mary Mary show, you’ll know her. She’s the fiery, loud, “I got something to say so Imma say it,” sister. I love her most because she’s honest. Even about the fact that her husband cheated on her with a close family friend and she almost killed him. I’m pretty passionate like that too (!) so I thought, “If God can help her, He can help me.” Her life is radically different now; her and her hubby are very much healed and in love. This book of prayers is life-changing and I STILL use it.I need a day to pray
  • Redeeming LoveThis here book is a full-on Christian fiction novel. I know you think you’re too manly for it but guys I know have read it. It’s the story of a prostitute and a man that chose to marry her and love her through her whoreish ways. Based on a real Bible story, it illustrates how God loves us though we put our friends, men, women, careers first, and when we finally get it, He’s still there. I’ve read it 3 times thinking, “but how….why?” Get into it.

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Codependent No More

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Battlefield of the mind

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I used Redeemer Counseling Services, did workshops with Cleansing StreamPure Life Ministries and Momentum Education. I kept in touch with the leaders at my church, Bethel Gospel Tabernacle. I also had friends who listened, never judged or blamed, ignored me when I was moody and still checked in, made me laugh, spoke life and the truth in love. My fam was invaluable. I procured a long list of mental health practitioners and would be happy to email it to you if you live in NY.

Keep  walking ya’ll, one step at a time, and then once you get past one level of crazy, help a friend up.

Yeah I believe, I believe
But its a dream that I ain’t seen yet
Chasing a dream that I ain’t dreamed yet
But I’mma meet it halfway if I keep on walking, walking…

**Please note that this post does contain affiliate links, which means if you purchase any of the books I mentioned in this article, I get a small percentage of the sale, which helps me eat. 🙂

MAYBEWELL. Stop drinking the poison.

Did you miss me??! You better say yes because I definitely missed y’all. It’s been two weeks since I posted anything and in that time, I battled with whether I should interrupt the projects I was involved in to write but decided against it. So, to make up for my absence, I’ll be posting a few times for the next few weeks chronicling my adventures of the last few.

You’ll be seeing more about those experiences soon but today is a more somber day. May is mental awareness month. Someone you know well is likely suffering with depression or anxiety or PTSD or SOMETHING. The problem pervades in the black community but 63% of us feel like we’re weak if we address it.* Shame on us. I was able to collaborate with a dear friend on a special project called MAYBEWELL. Every day of May, she will release a 2 min video chronicling personal stories on how people from the black community feel or deal with their emotions. Today was my day.


That was sadly my story for a time but I’m so so grateful for it because it’s how I came to know and love God as I do today. Not the judgmental God the world shuns, not the stone-casting God church babies grow up with and eventually cast away, determined to cast their own happier lot. The God that probably shook His head as I frantically tried to piece life together again on my own and when I finally turned to Him in desperation like “ok I’m a hot mess,” smiled and said “I got you.” Emotional, physical, psychological mess and all. NOBODY else would do that for you. Nobody. He’s my ride-or-die.

It’s also how I came to authentically love who I’m made to be. Outside of my intellect, strikingly good looks, charm and wit – and most importantly – of PEOPLE. Mi nuh care WHO dem is (Translation: I don’t care who they are). I’m in this skin, talking like I talk, loving how I love, and expressing the way I do because I am purposed to use all those things the way God wants. So boo. Boo to the lies that tell you you’re too much or too little or too expressive or too honest. You may very well need some refining but you are equipped with certain personality quirks because of your life assignment. Ultimately, it’s not even about you or your personality – it’s about the assignment. Never forget that. I did for a second.

One more note: Victimization/self-pity is not your friend. It’s the kind of friend that comes around and makes you feel good as you hang and wallow together. She comes over and leaves lil gifts at your place. Gifts like bitterness, resentment, entitlement and unforgiveness. These gifts feel great at first because “I deserve it! I earned the right to be angry! Did I get an apology? Did anyone change their stance? Has anyone seen my point of view? Did you see how amazing my life was before and how I gotta fight back now? Why the bleep do they get to get away with their crap and I’m over here suffering?!” So thank you very much for these gifts; I will definitely unwrap and wear them. Sooner or later though, they end up suffocating you and you realize your desire to be heard and understood at any cost will cost you far more than the reward of being heard and understood will ever bring you. You end up drinking the poison that was served. When I realized this was happening to me, I had to make up in my mind to change me even if nobody else did. And that’s when you really start to walk in God-given power. You harness that thing and go! The time to change is now and the only person you can change is YOU.

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Please like, share, tweet this post – someone needs it. Feel free to reach out for prayer or advice or references for counselors. Remember to check in every day of May at www.maybewell.com. It’s time to be well.

Xoxo,

Shaloma

UPDATE: See my post on resources I used for depression.

Sneak peeks of what’s to come:

*I took that trip I said I would finally take. Whoop!! I went to Chicago!! By myself! Agh. Beautiful city. Cold and beautiful.

*I went to Ann Arbor & Detroit. I met up with a college friend and we had such a blast.

*The other trips really came about because I planned to go to Flint. Man oh man – I have no words for my time there.

Can’t wait to share! Subscribe, you hear me?! Subscribe!

Weekend Edition: Getting In Formation

I’m breaking all the blog rules here. I’m supposed to be blogging on a Monday or Tuesday between 8 and 11 am, and here I am on a Saturday morning, knocking on your inbox. Anybody home?

It’s been a busy week of preparations and I can’t wait to share more with you soon! My quick Saturday lesson:

 CHANGE YOUR POSTURE.

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Literally. I watched an amazing Ted talk where social psychologist Amy Cuddy broke down how your literal posture reveals how you feel about yourself and is an indication of the effectiveness of your presence. Her research finds that a small change of posture for two minutes when you’re feeling stressed or nervous can positively affect your testosterone and cortisol levels in your brain, making you feel more confident and ultimately, less stressed. People with these levels confidently take big risks and have no qualms. Kinda sounds like my cousin, Kamar, eh?

Changing your posture is the ultimate faith it till you make it. Accept the dynamic tension between becoming and being what you’re purposed to be; in the meantime, do the work and act like you know who are.

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Know your purpose, then prepare, and plan, practice a lot, pray a ton, and you will prosper. That’s a promise.

Get.

In.

Formation.

xoxo,

Shaloma

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P.S. All #TBT pics. As evidenced by the fact that I had hair.

Health: Going cold turkey – my pescavegan journey

I am a self-proclaimed pescavegan.

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Prepping for meals

 

Yes. That is a real word.

Ok no, I made it up and it means I don’t eat dairy or animal flesh but I do eat fish – mostly salmon and snapper.

Let me give you some background:

I had swine flu junior year of college. Everyone was hunkered down because it was finals week; the dorms were empty and the libraries were full, but I was in my bed hacking and coughing. I don’t know what started it but I literally couldn’t go ten minutes without coughing up a lotta fluid. Sorry not sorry. My friends always try to call me out and tell me that I didn’t have swine flu, but nobody can tell me that it was a regular flu. It came with a vengeance and by the time it passed, I had lost nine pounds and infected my two hallmates, who had braved it into my room, with a milder version. I still remember us all hanging out, breathily heavily through our mouths, and re-evaluating life.

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Gluten-free, dairy free pizza made from scratch

Soon after that, I had a terrible flight to Florida where my ears didn’t unclog. You know, when you feel pressure and you yawn? Yawning didn’t help. Instead the pressure built till I felt pain. Those of you who have felt this know it’s EXCRUCIATING. I had never experienced that before and thought something weird was up with the plane. But then it happened on the way back. And on the next 3 flights. I continued flying, hoping it would stop, till my fateful trip to New Orleans where I was sick all SEVEN days. Because of the ear pain, I had sinusitis leading to post-nasal drip leading to hyperactive airway disorder. I really knew it was too much when I had to leave the Beyonce concert early. I paid good money for that concert. That was my last flight. To date.

After another sinus bout this past December, I decided I was tired of my frequent sinus issues and of the many one-month health binges I did. It was time to make a lifestyle change. So I went cold turkey. No pun intended. No meat except fish. No dairy. No processed food. No grains.

IT WAS TOUGH. But I had SO much fun, I’m glad I did it and I learned a few things:

  1. Fail upwards. I cooked lots of great decadent meals but also lots of terrible ones. It was sorely disappointing to invest so much time and energy but you had to just throw it away and quickly whip up something new. A girl’s gotta eat.
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ULTIMATE FAIL: Slivered sweet potato with ricotta tofu. Aka weird lasagna. REALIZATION:  I don’t like tofu.

2. Don’t get caught up in the hype. Honestly, I couldn’t do the meat-bashing vegans. They were too much. I tried to be hard-core (I even made my own vegan butter!!) but I literally lived in the kitchen and did nothing else. So I made my lifestyle my own. If I wanted to eat honey, I did. I started eating some grains again. I try to live a lifestyle that I can keep up with. Do what works FOR YOU!

 

3. Don’t quit just because you had a cookie. Around 2 months in to my lifestyle change, I had a cookie. I wondered if I was a fraud. Am I really a pescavegan? It’s really ok. You ate the cookie but you are still living your life. Pick up the ball again, not tomorrow, but with the next meal.

4. Homecooked meals are always better. I began to appreciate homecooked food more than storebought. Storebought began to make me feel sick, especially since my palette started to get used to fresh, seasonal food. Cooking is fun, therapeutic and saves me a ton of money. Cha-ching!

5. Be prepared to make some overall lifestyle changes. Going out, staying out is sometimes a hassle. I learned very quickly that I had to bring something but honestly, it’s not always possible with fresh food. It’s kinda like deciding to stop selling drugs. I don’t know – that’s the first thing that came to mind! LOL. Seriously though, you can’t decide to make a lifestyle change and hang around people who don’t respect your decision.

6. It’s ok to quit altogether. When I say quit here, I mean it’s ok to try a lifestyle change for a certain period of time and then decide it’s not for you. I may eat meat again, but for now, I know that I want to give up any inflammatory factors from my diet.

BONUS: Parents are the real MVPS. Cooking is a full-time job. How do you cook for a family and take care of children??! I have to plan my schedule around cooking.

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Herbed cauliflower mash with mushroom marsala

Ultimately, I feel better than I did before, I’m super proud of myself for sticking with it and I am still making changes. In all food plans, I would say, HAVE FUN! Don’t take it too seriously, but be dedicated and you’ll start to see the results you want. FYI, I lost 13 pounds but that was absolutely not a goal. Cheers to flying again!

Do you have any healthy lifestyle changes you want to make? Comment below!

I think you all want some of my high (no fooling!)

Happy Friday! I know that the brain cells move a little slower today and your mind is probably already on weekend plans so let’s get right to it: Why do you read my blog? Meaning, do you really know what TallTalesandFancy is about? What I’m about?

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A friend texted me that not too long ago. She asked, “Shaloma, how would you describe your blog to someone who hasn’t visited?” I had to pause for a second because I hadn’t really thought to summarize it succinctly. I said things like “inspirational mind dump, a holistic journey of inspiration, teaching and sharing what I’ve learned.” I felt very proud of that answer until she said, “Refine that so your blog will be better. I want to know what you care about at your core.” I was like “wait, wait, what is she tryna say about my blog??!” But I quickly jumped off defense and really thought about her question: Outside of my projects and others, what does Shaloma care about?

I answered slowly…I care about peace. Peace with myself, and realizing that peace with myself is impossible if I don’t have peace with God. [then I start to ramble as I find my groove] Feeling unstoppable (and unpoppable) is great. But there are times when you by yourself just runs out. I ran out of unstoppable me’s and wondered, ‘How did I get here?! Why am I here?!’ We are human. So I had to find peace with God to begin feeling at peace with myself again. And my peace manifested with three major keys [thanks DJ Khaled]: 

  1. Believing I get a new slate EVERYDAY
  2. True change comes about with holistic living – just like you can’t target fat in your belly in your weight loss journey (sorry ladies), you cannot be more disciplined without changing almost everything in your life.
  3. Humility is key. I don’t know as much as I think I do. And knowing that leaves me open to take in more knowledge. And more. And more. I loveeee learning!

And that’s my core. That’s what I care about. Believing, Becoming, and Learning.

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As you can imagine, this was a hella long text message. I ended up calling her and we spoke. And it turned out – she wasn’t trying to play me; my initial answers were still right on. But let’s be real, there are a million inspiration blogs out here. As creators of a brand, we often get caught up in what people want to see. But then our unique voices and ‘whys’ get lost in the din of people-pleasing and our brand looks just like the next one. The perspective we spoke about was refreshing: Tap into your core, your why, and you’ll do your work in a way that only you can do it. What am I led to do? NOT What do they want to hear? Only I can hit heavy topics in the way that I do, only Devon can create music the way he does, Therese plan events the way she does, and Diamond change the lives of young teenage girls the way she does. Who are those people? My friends I’m shamelessly promoting.

How do you tap in to your core? Well, first ask yourself: What do I care about? I figured mine out but I sometimes struggled with tapping in, especially when I tasked myself with writing consistently. When I wrote more sporadically, I would have the HIT many creatives do: I’m singing in the shower and then an epiphany HITS. I had to take drastic measures like say it out loud a million times, wet up my carpet as I scramble out to search for a pen and jot it down. Those random bouts of inspiration just don’t work when you write consistently, though.

So I learned that I have to create my high. My HIT. I’m constantly open to inspiration and that allows me to find my why frequently. I can tell when I’m writing and it means nothing to me. It’s not fun to write. It takes longer. When my work is pulled from my why, it’s almost an emotional experience. The posts that you all paid most attention to were the ones I was almost shy to send because it felt so personal.

And since we’re being so open here, can I be honest with you? Sometimes, I’m afraid to write my faith-based posts. As more and more people read my blog, I get afraid that it’s too much because not everyone believes in God. I have to fight that feeling when it comes. I go back to my core – when I was in my “How did I get here? Why am I here?,” which one of my readers gave me purpose? As lovely as you all are, it’s God who gives ME meaning. So I dedicate myself to finding meaning through Him and using it to inspire my work. Which then inspires you. And there! You get a piece of my high.

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So I challenge you this weekend to find your why. I just shared mine. Blogger Shameless Maya gets into getting lost in pleasing her fans and finding her why again here. Share yours below! FIND YOUR WHY!

Meet Kamar Green, Corporate Account Manager: “There’s NO reason for doubt”

Someone asked me the other day if I’m sexist. LOL. Of course not! I just happen to know a lot of successful women. But today, I’m bringing a man into the success fold. His name is Kamar Green and I can be found gawking at his extensive travel pics on Instagram (in January alone, he was in four countries), wondering whyyy I wasn’t invited. After all, I am his favorite cousin. Hehe. Yes, he really is my cousin. At family gatherings and holidays, my older family members gather us younger pups around the table and ask ::or badger, ahem:: us on what new goals we have, and give us tips on how to save, invest, and succeed.

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Kamar in Beijing

I think it’s safe to say that he’s taken their advice really seriously. At 28, he’s lived in London for two and a half years, owns a Brooklyn multi-family home and is the manager of EMEA & APAC – overseeing the Account Management team across Europe and Asia, working closely with Investor Relations teams at Public Companies, and offering financial and market data to a number of different audiences. I’m hoping you’re as confused as I was when he explained it to me for like the 12th time. You know, so I don’t feel as slow. He broke it down for me and I still don’t know how to put this simply but basically, he’s an advisor for investment relation officers (they are the liaison between companies and shareholders). But I didn’t want to write about him just because he’s my successful cousin. I honestly admire his determination and wanted to share how he did it.

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Kamar and I at his farewell party – off to London!

Shaloma: As a brother, friend, landlord, and traveling businessman, how do your balance your professional and personal priorities (as far as time is concerned)? Is there a pull and tug with what to choose and when?

Kamar: I find it difficult. I think it is best to keep separate work and personal calendars to get to all the things that you plan to accomplish during the week done. For me, that can include reminding myself to grab groceries, or finishing an important work project I need completed. It really comes down to your personal work/life balance and I often find myself making my work calendar my primary one. I could definitely improve on this balance but I guess that is why my Sundays are spent in bed.

Shaloma: What does an average day look like for you?

Kamar: It depends on my calendar, but it can start as early as 4am, due to my team’s locations. My daily to-dos consists of responding/sorting through a couple hundred emails, and managing a number of meetings and client calls. I try to get to the gym three to four times a week.

Shaloma: How do you handle social media? So many of us get caught up in mindless scrolling/responding to emails and neglect our own goals and priorities.

Kamar: I might be one of those people, sadly (HONESTY!). What I mean is, I like to know what’s happening with my network. Going back to time and how crucial that is, it’s sometimes quicker to view – rather than text or call – some of my friends.

I just would like to put a note here because this is where I asked him ‘what do you wish you learned’ and ‘why does what you do matter?’ He didn’t have anything to say on those topics and I didn’t understand why till I introduced this new question.

Shaloma: Well, how do you deal with doubt?

Kamar: I don’t deal with doubt. Absolutely not. I just don’t. Doing well and succeeding is all about going the extra mile, putting in the time, taking advantage of your training – all those things, you know? During college, I envisioned myself in a Marketing or Communications role to some capacity but didn’t know that much about finance or investor relations. After graduating, I got thrown into Finance and within a really short period of time, learned what I needed to learn. Was it easy? No. Was it worth it? Yes. I took it as an opportunity to grow and develop in a unique, niche industry and now I have the opportunity to provide insight to others. When I started, I took work home all the time. I didn’t sleep much. I worked around the clock. Same for home ownership. I ate Ramen Noodles for 6 months after purchasing my first home in Brooklyn – the 50-cent packs, not the fancy Ramen Noodles that are a big trend now. But in the end, it was all well worth it. So there’s no reason for doubt. I approach these things with confidence knowing that I did what I should and that I have the full capability to learn and get the job done.

Shaloma: I just wrote a post on integrity and authenticity – it’s a topic near and dear to me right now. How do you remain true to yourself and your values in the middle of so many conflicting values?

Kamar: Come up with a game plan, whether it’s professionally or personally. Stick to your pre-thought out plan and don’t let anyone stop you. If I listened to everyone along the way (while their opinion definitely helped guide me), I’m not quite sure where I’d be today. The point is – have integrity in yourself, and know that if you’re focused and believe in what you’re pushing for, there shouldn’t be any excuses to achieve your goals.

Kamar in Santiago, Chile

Overlooking Chile

Wow. What a surefire way to get to know your family. I did NOT know that Kamar ate 50-cent Ramen Noodles for 6 months straight. What struck me most about this interview was his low tolerance for fear. I kept pressing him for an answer on regrets or fears – which many of us can have sometimes – and he felt like there was really nothing to say because everything in life just pushed him to push harder. No fears, no regrets. I am extremely inspired to be laser focused in my purpose as well as self-sacrificial so that there’s no room for doubt.

Kamar doesn’t have any sort of public platform but I’m going to try to get him to share some tips on investing. Stay on the lookout. In the meantime, let’s talk: What changes in your lifestyle, thought patterns, etc. would make you feel NO doubts in pursuing your purpose? My own answer is below in the comments.

“I am unstoppable, also unpoppable” – on hoarding your best skill

Think about that time you did a group project in school and you wanted to kick out that one person who seemed to do the minimum and give dumb* ideas. I mean, was it just me who got annoyed? I can seriously conjure up someone right now. Just. Don’t. Speak. Or that one time you offered a solution to a problem at work and she – your boss – totally dismissed you. Or when that friend seemed so much better than you; he was a classic man – swaggy, charismatic and funny.

*love 3

We all tend to pride ourselves on something. And it often MUST be something, right? If I’m not the cute guy, I must be the funny guy. If I’m not the pretty girl, I must be the sassy one. If I’m not funny, I must be smart. And if I’m not comfortable speaking, I must write emotional therapy memes on Instagram. Ha! Ok, I’m sorry. I couldn’t resist that one. My point is, everyone is clamoring to be seen and be heard, and sadly, we’re often trying to one-up each other to prove that we are something.

As I write, I laugh to myself, thinking of something I fought to claim. Alright, so I’ve had natural hair my whole life. Let. me. tell. you. That was MY THING. After I got over being the sole puffy headed gal in junior high school (my peers had to get over it too), I went into high school like “I am unstoppable, also unpoppable, come at me sideways, teflons are droppable.” I was theeee natural hair queen – not because I had abundant tresses :ha: but because I felt daring to do it, be it, when it wasn’t cool. When I went to college, I loved walking into parties with a puff. It made me unique, and different; it made me stand out. I also loved bi-weekly debates about why being natural was better. In retrospect, I was a bit of a natural hair snob. Given my enthusiasm and passion for natural hair, you would’ve thought that I would be oober excited at the natural hair movement. Nope. I was kinda annoyed. First of all, it was overwhelming in general. I think the world at large was taken aback. All of a sudden, EVERYONE was natural. I was like ‘wait wait wait, this is my throne.’ Long story short, I learned real quick to get over it and myself (to the point where I chopped it all off) and found more meaningful ways to define myself. 🙂

I think you get the point. I got to reading about this in 1 Cor. 12:27 and what it says on how vital all of our gifts are. Our individual gifts, talents, and personalities. Though churches may more readily honor the musicians and singers, ushers and sound guys are equally important. Your loud friend may be good for fun times but you, the quiet friend, may be who people turn to in crisis.

So what are we to do? Sometimes we can’t help that we’re smarter, or louder, or natural-er.

31 Pursue the greater gifts, and let me tell you of a more excellent way—love.

Preceding the popular love I Cor. 13 chapter, this verse sums it all up. Love is the greatest talent you can have. No matter how hard we try, we will never have it all or be it all. If you’re broken today, I can’t look down on you because I have been through it. If she’s rich today, she can teach others how to build and sustain wealth tomorrow. And that same wealthy woman can talk to a homeless man, knowing he can teach her something she probably doesn’t know. That’s love. It’s not all romantic and gushy. It simply makes room for others by connecting differences, ideas, and broken bridges. We are collectively important and are individually just a piece of the puzzle. It is the ultimate humility pill. 

So to be honest, it doesn’t really matter what you are or have accomplished. I think that growing up forreal means realizing that what you have to offer is only as good as the sum of your ability to readily accept people where they are, and the willingness to freely give to them what you yourself once needed. I am only as good as you. Can you imagine a world where people said, “Well, I have accolade and I am skill but I’m actually kinda good at love”?

MyMemeMaker_meme

Well, it makes for a good meme.

Let’s chat: How can you make room for others this week?