Life Is A Game: Winning Isn't Everything...

"Life is a Game: When we see everything in life as a game, we will be equally joyous when falling as we are when rising. If we can fully understand this - if we can see life as swinging on a swing - we will never fall apart when failure comes our way."--Mata Amritanandamayi Devi (Amma)
Jean Honore Fragonard - The Accident of the Swing
When the game of life is not going our way, it is hard to see the swing from our stress laden eyes and recognize that, as in Murphy's Law, what goes up must come down. Sometimes we forget that the game isn't always about winning but about learning lessons that build our wisdom bone. Imagine if you never failed at anything in life and that every action or move you made was a full house on a deck of cards; where would the life lessons, insights and compassion come from?

I dont know about you, but I've learned some of my best lessons and gained respect and gratitude for life and others from some of my failures/disappointments. Our failures don't have to be epic ones either; we can learn a lot from small failures too. If we pause to remind ourselves of the peaks and valleys of life, we can develop a positive outlook with faith. How many times have you stopped yourself in the middle of a stressful situation and asked the question: What is the lesson in this event? Then remember, for what it's worth "this" too shall pass.

This post fits very well with one of MamaKat's Writing Workshop prompts for this week: But teachers know everything!! Write about a time a teacher disappointed you.

As I read Charlotte Bronte's poem "Life" below and share my language course lesson/story, I find comfort in the knowledge that gloomy events in our life are transient and the showers of a difficult day make our roses truly bloom; they make our character strong and resilient... Of course, our mental outlook is imperative. We must see the showers for the temporary fall from the swing that they are. What showers are you facing now?


Thursday Thoughts: My Hobby Horse

"Today is life-the only life you are sure of. Make the most of today. Get interested in something. Shake yourself awake. Develop a hobby. Let the winds of enthusiasm sweep through you. Live today with gusto." Dale Carnegie
Beijing Performance Art Theater
Did you know that the word Hobby is derived from the root word/shortening of the word - hobbyhorse?  A hobbyhorse is a very popular child's riding toy; it is made from a wooden stick with the shape of a horse's head on the front. If you had one as a child, you probably recall how much creativity went into playing with that wooden stick and all the wonderful places you visited in your imagination.

When I read RedHead Riter's prompt, she offers us a new weekly prompt for Tell The Truth Thursday, 
I was concerned that I might have little to do or write about as my interests have waxed and waned over the years. I went from being an avid gardener to barely watering our indoor plants and from modern jazz, Afro dance to no dance at all. Lately, I need more yoga not less... This is a wonderful contract for revisiting and renewing our hobbies and all those favorite little things that put a smile on our faces.

The question this week is:
Do you have a hobby?

According to Wikipedia and your dictionary, a hobby is an activity or interest that is undertaken for pleasure or relaxation, typically done during one's leisure time.  I like their definition because it reminds us that a hobby is enjoyable, relaxing and often not paid but can grow into a paid gig.  It could include any of the following categories below... Are any of the hobbies listed below one you still do or used to do?


Think Victory: We Have the Freedom to Choose

"You will know the truth and the truth will make you free..." John 8:32

Our thoughts have tremendous power... We often wish that we could choose words, thoughts and actions that set our minds free from defeat and failure yet, at times, we find a way back to self-defeating behavior and thoughts that undermine even our best intentions. Recently, I found myself introducing an old friend to a new friend and I was selling us all short... 

Why? Because I sang their praises to each other and when they sang mine back, I immediately swatted it like a fly; "Oh, not old me, I'm just...." We need to receive praise as much as we give it and the poem below is a great reminder that we all can achieve our best if only we stop back-handing our accomplishments. What do you do when you catch yourself swatting a compliment?

As moms, we have a tremendous responsibility for nurturing the bodies and minds of our kids and that demands a level of self-confidence; an assurance that even though we might do things differently from Suzi, our decisions are best for our kids. We must realize that a positive state of mind has an impact on our children and we gain personal victory from choosing to shift our thinking and our actions... How do you remind yourself to honor the beautiful butterfly that you truly are?


Thursday Thoughts III: Off the Floor & More...

"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen, nor touched...but are felt in the heart." - Helen Keller (1880-1968)
I like the pattern, it's still not me!
This week's Tell The Truth Thursday is rather interesting as it asks a question that left me baffled or as my Fashionista King, Tim Gunn, of Project Runway would say ... flummoxed. Read the question below and let me know if you see yourself on the floor somewhere ...What is behind the reluctance?
The question this week is:
What type of flooring does your personality most resemble? Which flooring would you prefer to resemble?

As I pondered the question, I really couldn't bring myself to be anything; marble, Formica, oak wood or limestone... nothing was calling my name at all. Oh well, I figured, you know... Do me! I was foraging in my files when I came cross a poem by Edgar Guest, the famous British/American poet from the late 1880s, that I felt would do. Edgar was quite prolific in his writings and I think this should suffice. The poem is called "Myself" and it is an excellent rendition of a self-analysis; one completed without blinkers or a cocktail. Enjoy and leave me feedback below!


Prayer for Peace: Saint Francis of Assisi's Way

“Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one's weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.” Mahatma Gandhi

From a very young age, I had always enjoyed prayer and biblical stories... Actually, I enjoyed all stories that had a moral teaching of sorts and I understood, somewhere deep inside of myself, that there was one universal God who embraced all of us regardless of the path we chose to follow. 

Whenever I am exposed to something that disturbs my soul, I find myself turning to prayer and it has sustained me. I know that there are those who don't believe in prayer, I can respect that, but because it has always come alive for me and helped me find a calm in any storm, I turn to it again and again.

The Prayer of Peace from Saint Francis of Assisi is an example of such a prayer and the fact that we live in shaky times makes it even more necessary and relevant.  What do you turn to when your spirit has been touched by harshness or mean words? How do you cleanse yourself from such exposure? I have added  the Prayer for Peace below. I would love to hear your take on prayer and how it has affected you or not...


My Dream Home: Amazing Homes Worth Dreaming About…

“There is a magic in that little world, home; it is a mystic circle that surrounds comforts and virtues never known beyond its hallowed limits” Robert Southey 
“A house is made of walls and beams; a home is built with love and dreams.” Anon
Casa Batllo, Barcelona Spain

In 2001, I got a real estate license. It was the height of the market and business was booming. Everyone and their grandmother’s cat was jumping into the business and if you listened to the media, you didn’t even have to get out of bed, as agents were making money hand over fist. Of course, those of us in the business knew it took hard, consistent work to bring about the meeting of the minds, and that finding a ready, willing and able customer/client was as easy as pulling teeth without anesthesia.

Point is there were all calibers of sales agents; some knew plenty and some knew nothing. To stay in the business, you took classes to be better, you bought software to work smarter, and you networked and schmoozed till your eyeballs were spinning in your head. Yes, we made money but by the time you got paid, it was a roller coaster ride. We loved it and got to see and be in some amazing homes and some dumps. But, you know, home is where the heart is.

Mama's Losin' It

This week’s prompt is: Describe your dream home ... house, location, and grounds.
As I thought about this week’s prompt, I realized that instead of spending time describing my dream home, it would be best to showcase amazing homes that have qualities I would love in my ultimate home. The homes I feature would essentially offer a mental collage of features that my dream home would have and, of course, there must be water nearby; ideally ocean water. I love the ocean. Enjoy the visit and share your thoughts.

A Favorite Food: Coconut Jollof Rice

“Let the stoics say what they please, we do not eat for the good of living, but because the food is savory and the appetite is keen.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Jollof Rice

Jollof Rice

Growing up in a large family meant we had many occasions to celebrate. Inviting extended family members and serving traditional foods was always a big part of our gatherings. Days before a special event, my mom and a few aunts would go shopping for all the fresh ingredients and gather in the kitchen to discuss who would make what dish - Jollof Rice was always on the menu. Jollof Rice is a very popular savory dish in Nigeria, and its origins can be traced back to the Wolof people of Senegal and The Gambia. The addition of desiccated coconut to my recipe is a twist my ever-inventive, gourmet cook mother added to this traditional dish, hence, her dish/recipe for -
Coconut Jollof Rice.
What comes to mind when you think of happy times with your family? Think about it. Many family stories are centered around cooking and eating favorite foods. When I think back to my childhood days, more so than my adult life, I have fond memories of dishes prepared by aunts and grannies from both sides of my family. There were dishes that, Dada, my paternal grandmother made and other dishes, Mama Clara, my maternal granny prepared. Each set of relatives brought their childhood food memories, from our varied and extended family history, and planted them firmly in their dishes. Visiting extended family for special events was always an opportunity to be regaled with stories of ancestors, and close friends, who gave away secret recipes only under duress on their dying bed… We all have these stories.

Dessicated Coconut

This week for Tell The Truth Thursday: What is your favorite food/best recipe?
Interestingly, in today's world of busy, over-scheduled, modern families, the dynamic has shifted as people eat in a hurry, order take out foods or go to restaurants a lot more than previous generations. Working outside the home has meant that many of us can no longer follow the footstep of our moms and have a sit down dinner promptly at …. .... Fill in the blank. Even though I enjoy cooking and prepare several meals at home, we eat out too. In terms of favorite foods, we love Asian, African, Mid-Eastern and Continental cuisine, and vary our restaurant outings on eating foods from those parts of the world. However, we do eat foods from around the globe and my kids have developed a sophisticated palate and enjoy eating out as well as eating foods I prepare in my kitchen.

Despite the shifting, modern, dining winds in many households, I choose to cherish memories of my mom's cooking, while embracing the modern ways we break bread. I make sure that special occasions and holidays are celebrated at home with food cooked in my kitchen. What about you? Do you work inside or outside the home? How does it impact planning family meals?  Enjoy the rest of my story and the Coconut Jollof Rice recipe below…



Thursday Musings: Revisiting Childhood Fears

"Courage is the complement of fear. A man who is fearless cannot be courageous. He is also a fool." Lazarus Long

Recently, I took the plunge and joined Mamakat’s Writer’s Workshop. I signed up this blog and my WordPress blog because I realized it was time to break the once a week blogging cycle. So far I am enjoying the process and even added another Thursday writing exercise with Redhead Riter. All is well.

Every week, Kathy of Mamakat’s devotes part of her busy schedule to send writing prompts to the group. We choose one from a short list, write on it and then add it to a page link where everyone gathers to click and give comments/support to at least 3 other bloggers.  Just like the blog hops, the writing list provides a concrete way for the group to share a common goal and support each other with comments.

Mama's Losin' It

This week’s prompt: Write about Childhood Fears you've taken into your Adult Life.
My first reaction to the prompt was to say, "Oh come on, I have no carry over fears…" But I thought about it some more and decided that it would be a good challenge to revisit the scary “demons” of my childhood and figure out which ones had been put to bed and which, if any, still needed an exorcism. 

Would you like to join me and reminisce for a moment? You might actually shock yourself to find out that some might still be hanging around the edges, looking for a vulnerable moment to tap you on the shoulder and say… “I’m back!”  Now I’m scaring myself. Lol! This brings me to my first fear:


Thursday Thoughts II: Night Owl Meet Morning Glory

"It's at night, when perhaps we should be dreaming, that the mind is most clear, that we are most able to hold all our life in the palm of our skull…” Brian W. Aldiss

As you know by now, I joined Redhead Riter's popular Thursday writing group to write a weekly commentary called: Tell The Truth Thursday. We have all agreed to tackle a question on Thursdays and write truthfully about it. The questions are randomly selected by our very own community leader and maven - Redhead Riter
This week's question is: Are you a morning, afternoon, evening or night time person? Has it changed over the years?

Tell The Truth Thursday

I am a perennial night owl and have always been alert at night.... I often wonder what it would be like to get up early feeling all chirpy and, like a morning glory in full bloom, start my day like all of those morning people but, alas, the night calls me. 

Is it insomnia that keeps me up or just my internal clock? I  don't know... What I do know is that, as far back as I can remember, I've always enjoyed being up at nighttime. Perhaps, it has something to do with the lessening of worldly distractions and the quiet and steady calm that darkness brings with it. I find that once my household is settled for the day; albeit night, I can concentrate on my creative interests and get some reading under my belt.

My teenage years were different. Even though, of late, I am no longer one for midnight jaunts and crazy cruising; my teens years had such moments. Nighttime was for all the parties, clubs, late movies, and trips to other towns, even countries... and hanging out at friends homes. Oh yes, we partied and took long rides to other towns visiting friends and going out clubbing but that is just one part of the story...

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