1. be kind to yourself

Just when I was feeling spiritually low God sent me my sisi in Christ and fellow PCV Nicole. Go check out her blog when you get a chance at settlernswaziland.wordpress.com

This weekends Reach Conference in Jo burg with International Church of Christ was exactly what I needed. I indulged in familiar american foods and restaurants and god to hang with some awesome Christians who are souled out for Christ

 

I really enjoyed the message from the singles session entitled “Take a Selfie”. A selfie was we know it according to Websters dictionary is

A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and shared via social media but for the purpose of this message a selfie means to take a good look at yourself and your walk with Christ.

Lamentations 3: 40

Let us examine our ways. If you are going to reach in and grow you have to really examine yourself. Are you more concerned about your hair than your heart?

ASK YOURSELF THESE THREE QUESTIONS

Luke 9:57-61

  1. Am I spiritually fit?

In order for you to be a servant in the kingdom of God you have to be spiritually fit.

2. What are you choosing before Christ?

When we lack contentment we begin to look back.

Luke 14: 34

3. What does your spirituality look like?

James 1:22-29

Colossians 3:5-6 (get rid of the filth in your lives that is holding you back from a relationship with Christ)

3 steps to taking a perfect selfie

  1. examine yourself
  2. take action
  3. continue

Remember: Have the humility to accept what you see and Humility to accept what others reveal to you about what they see

Its never to late to make a change and change is continual. God bless and keep the faith

Self-Acceptance Challenge

So from the last blog post you can see how much fun I had at GLOW Camp 2k17. The camp was filled with such great energy and amazing counselor lead sessions for the girls. Of course I sat in on almost all of them because I am always excited to learn. One of the sessions that stood out for me was the one on Self- Acceptance. What exactly is that? I thought the definition given to the girls was excellent so I wanted to share it.

Self acceptance is an invitation to stop trying to change yourself into the person you wish to be; long enough to find out who you really are.

Wow. I hope you enjoyed that definition as much as I did. For me it was exactly what I needed to hear. I feel like I’m always changing but the core of me always stays the same. I’ve been struggling with accepting the fact that I’m single, away from family and friends, out of shape, and not always my optimistic self. So I decided to challenge myself to jumps start my acceptance of my current self and embrace the adversity and understand that God has a plan for my life that doesn’t need my approval or understanding.

The session have an excellent list of 8 ways to jump start self acceptance that I would like to share.

  1. be kind to yourself. (no one judges you more that you judge yourself. be patient with yourself and accept your flaws)
  2. confront your fears
  3. stay positive (write yourself sweet notes)
  4. accept imperfection
  5. don’t take it personally
  6. forgive wholeheartedly
  7. believe in yourself (try and fail but don’t fail to try)
  8. don’t give up no matter what

So I challenge you to join me on the is self acceptance journey. I can’t guarantee that you won’t experience discomfort, minor set backs, etc but what I can ensure is that it will be worth it.

GLOW GIRL GLOW

Glow Camp 2k16 was a blast. GLOW stands for Girls Leading our world and is a female empowerment program started by Peace Corps Volunteers here in Swaziland. Through this program clubs are formed by PCVS and Swazi counterparts all over Swaziland to help empower young Swazi girls to make better informed decisions about their lives. Since you missed it of course here are some photos from this years GLOW camp compliments of my best friend Nathalie. Go check out her blog: https://negesnarratives.wordpress.com/

 

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Crowning of Big Mamma: The camper who showed leadership and commitment to GLOW during that dayimg-20170427-wa0015.jpgimg-20170425-wa0002.jpgimg-20170425-wa0005.jpgimg-20170427-wa0014.jpg

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Aerobics Session

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Beautiful GLOW girls just casually QUEENING!!!

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No obstacle formed against these girls shall prosper. Amen!!

I’ll be your HEad Wrap QUEEN

So this one has been a long time coming so for that y’all please forgive me. I can remember the first time the head wrap chose me. It was after countless hours of trying to figure out how to perfect the Queenness of such a wrap. I literally didn’t want to let my ancestors down so it had to be right. I consulted my kindred sista Queen herself baby J and she showed me the way. From there I doned a  head wrap almost everywhere I went. It has become second nature to me. A way to always give homage to the Queens who came before me. In most recent years I’ve become very intentional about almost everything like the way I dress, from the trinkets on my locs down to the natural deodorant I rock under my pitts.

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Everything serves a purpose. Everything is symbolic of something larger than myself. On this journey of self-discovery I wanted to learn more about the head wrap and its history both for African Americans but for my ancestors from the motherland. Most of what I’ll share about the head wrap is from this awesome article I recently read entitled “The African American woman’s head wrap: unwinding the symbols” by Helen Bradley Griebel. Feel free to check out the full article here: http://char.txa.cornell.edu/griebel.htm

Another great resource is this video https://www.facebook.com/refinery29/videos/1619284988101687/

There are some awesome nuggets in there. For starters the head wrap originated from the motherland and is symbolic with the crowns in which Queens wear. When Africans were brought and sold into slavery their masters would often require for them to wear their hair covered as a symbol of bondage. Can you believe that? Some states like Louisiana even had laws in place where slaves were not allowed to walk around without their hair covered at all. Could you imagine having to live under such restrictions considering the resurgence of rocking fros and loving our natural hair?

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Hattie Mae Daniels. She is best known for her role as Mammy in Gone with the Wind (1939), for which she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, the first Academy Award won by an African American entertainer.

Of course like every other tool used to oppress black women, slaves flipped the meaning of such a thing. For one wrapping our hair at the time ensured tidiness and protection from insects and dirt while working long hours in the field.

 

Unlike traditional European usage of the head wrap where women would use a triangle like piece of fabric tied under the chin, the African American head wrap was the total opposite. It started with a long rectangular piece of fabric tied upward on top of the head and tucked within itself. It would elongate the face and bring attention to the natural features like a crown. I love my head wrap and I rock it with great honor and pride because I know I am a reflection of my ancestors. Here is a quick step by step quide for how to do your own:

Step 1: Get you some popping fabric, cloth, t-shirt, towel (yes i’ve wrapped my head with towel before)

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Step 2: Decide which style of wrap you wanna rock

Step 3: Put your hair up at the top of your head or find a filler to add inside your wrap as a base to wrap the fabric around

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Step 4: Ill be describing how to do this wrap pictured for this post. Start with the wrap at the base of your neck

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Step 5: Bring the fabric forward and bunch it in your heads in front of your forehead

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Step 6: Cross the fabric and begin to wrap the cloth in a circle around your hair

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Step 7: As the cloth begins to run out begin to tuck the ends inside the already wrapped fabric

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Step 8: Thank the ancestors and get your black girl magic on and popping. OOooookkkaayyy

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Also below are a few pictures of some of my favorite headwraps I’ve rocked with some of my favorite people in the whole entire world.

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Loneliness in the Peace Corps

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My thoughts have become a dangerous place to be left in. As if my mind is some sort of toxic landfill. My pen and paper have become my saving grace. Typical days like this in the states would be filled with the company of both family and friends, grad classes, field placement, work, activities, night clubs, music concerts, stimulation, common language and the list could go on. Most days here are the polar opposite.

You get lost in the idle time. Lost in your thoughts. Lost in yourself. The very things that once worked for you are not suffice enough to quench the thirst of stimulating conversations, familiarity, convenience and ultimately all the things that once masked the loneliness that was maybe always there. There is no real busy here because there is always time for reflection.

There is always time for introspection. Like you really get to know yourself in your alone time because sometimes no matter how full the homestead, classroom or community meeting is you still find yourself feeling alone. It’s like that song “cranes in the sky” where she talks about her use of distractions to rid herself of the loneliness and past pain. I wouldn’t consider myself pain ridden or hurt but I must admit that I’m struggling. I am struggling in all the places that I thought I had figured out. Like myself. I’m ever-changing, I’m constantly evolving  and reliving old experiences while experiencing new ones. It’s like my feelings are all over the place and I can’t get a grip on them at times.

The Mother Bear Project

“The Mother Bear Project is dedicated to providing comfort and hope to children affected by HIV/AIDS in emerging nations, by giving them a gift of love in the form of a hand-knit or crocheted bear.The simple gift of a hand-knit bear with a tag signed by the knitter has touched children with the message that they are unconditionally loved”.(taken from motherbearproject.org)

I had the great priviledge of partnering with this organization this past week to deliver teddy bears to children in my community. The smiles on their faces were priceless. Here are a few pictures from the big day

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The true meaning of community

 

“It is possible that we have been brought together at this time because we have profound truths to teach each other”- Malidoma Patrice Some

For me its never been about proving whos right or wrong. It’s never been about othering or placing one’s beliefs above one another. I truly believe that there is no one way of doing things but that solutions to various different problems require us to enlist perspective. Perspective for me is the defining factor and its our perspectives that make us unique. I joined the Peace Corps to share my culture but also to learn about the swazi culture that has whole-heartedly embraced me over these past 9 months. My community has taught me so much about life, the power of collectivism and teamwork when it comes to even the slightest tasks.

“Community is important because there is an understanding that human beings are collectively oriented”- malidoma patrice some

Inclusiveness across the board and
the consulting of everyone throughout the process is what I’ve learned most over this journey.
I can remember my first emphakatsi meeting like it was yesterday. We all gathered under a huge shaded tree with our grass mats and lihayas all for a chance to meet with the inner council for guidance on projects we’d like to implement in the community. In most communities across swaziland, no one person can just go off and start any project without consulting the inner council. The inner council is comprised of various elected officials from the community. Some of these officials include the chief, bucopho, indvuna, community runner etc. All of these people are elected by their peers to oversee the inner workings of each and everything that happens in the community. This very sense of collectivism in the decision making process has been much difficult for me to adjust to than what I had originally imagined.

I’m used to doing things myself. The quick and easy way is what I call it. Or the saying “if you want something done right you have to do it yourself”. Its safe to say that that frame of mind doesnt exist here nor would it flourish if it did. The true essence of ubuntu and collectivism reigns supreme and that’s something that I’m learning more and more each day.
It becomes quite frustrating to me as I perceive experiences as “oh we’re wasting time”, “but why do you need permission? “and “can we just get on with the project?” But ultimately I ask myself what’s the rush? I think I do it because I want to feel that I’ve accomplished something or the fact that I want to do as much in my power for the youth in my time here. Two years seemed like alot of time in the beginning but when I began to look at my calenar the days are flying.

I’m making strides by making friends but for me tangible projects or things are slim to none. I’m hopeful but at times I grow weary. I recently started an English club at the high school and the amount of support and participation from the students has truly been rewarding. They are eager each Wednesday as we all crowd in to the schools library which is sadly not in use to conduct fun activities in English. They seem to really enjoy the activities and the time we spend together. This past meeting we translated the popular song Tigi by the swazi artist Sands into English and the students loved it. They worked in their groups fearlessly for the two hours as they debated over the translations of words and the true meaning behind the song. One group said that the song is very powerful because it teaches us to never use the word Love if we don’t mean. I was very pleased with that answer and proud that the students were able to go so deep into the meaning behind tje song and effortlessly articulate their thoughts. Im excited for whats to come with the English club and the improvements that the club can potentially have in their English speaking, listening and overall confidence when it comes to speaking English.