girl chat episode 101: his friends

Now, let me preface this by saying that I’m no relationship expert by far. But I, like many women I assume, have often struggled with the role my boyfriend’s (when I have one) friends play not only in our relationship but in my life in general. To that end, I reached out to one of my dearest friends today to get her take on the situation via text. Find a transcript of the convo below. She’s absolutely brilliant and I hope you all enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed speaking with her about it.

Me: My love!!! How are you? I have a situation that I’m trying to flesh out in my head…like how I feel about it.

Friend: Tell baby girl about it.

Me: How do you deal with your man’s friends? Do you expect them to be your friend as well and have your best interest in mind…or do you take into account that they are “men” and will abide by “guy code” and look out for your man and his interests only?

Friend: I would say a little of both. I like to believe that I’m a good person and that a sane individual would like to see another person treated well (“man you shouldn’t do that to her she’s a great girl” etc. etc.)

But also, I know that when it comes to my friends I care about them way more than any man so I’m more than likely to expect the same from a man’s friends.

Me: Okay. I was wondering if it would be unreasonable for me to expect a male mutual friend to express those sentiments you mentioned. I think it’s reasonable. Maybe less when it’s more his friend than mine but again…a sane individual should have some sort of moral compass.

Friend: One thing I have realized is that a man’s moral compass doesn’t always work as accurately as a woman’s because most of them don’t have  a sense of urgency in life. We women are truly concerned about our future selves and any damage we do to another person really sticks with us. Men are absolutely sure that they will have the woman and the life they want regardless, so they are more willing to forgive their own past transgressions.

Me: Wow…that’s so insightful. It makes so much sense as well. Does that mean that we have unrealistic expectations then? It’s all just so confusing…

Me: Let me answer my own question. I don’t think it’s unrealistic if a guy is actively pursuing a relationship with Christ because then his views about these types of things will more accurately reflect what is right. Got it. 😊

Friend: I think that’s the answer.

Me: And I think you’re wonderful.

Friend: Like attracts like m’lady. 😍

(The last two exchanges weren’t particularly relevant, I just wanted you all to see how cute we are lol)

Moral of the story is simple- if you lay with dogs, you’re going to get fleas. You may think that your man is a good person and he very well may be, but you should also consider who he surrounds himself with. He should surround himself with like-minded men that are in active pursuit of the Kingdom (as you should with women) and the issues discussed above won’t be a concern. Yes, Jesus hung out with the tax collectors and’nem. BUT Jesus was preaching to the wretched, not turning up with them.

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#relationshipgoals

xx

graduation realizations

Eek! I can’t believe it but I graduate from law school in a little over a month! As I scramble around trying to get enough tickets for my family and friends to come, I’m reminded of another place that I want to see all of my family and friends.

Recently, I rededicated my life to Christ. I was raised Christian and often frequented church, but I can say that this decision is of my own, adult fruition. I’m tired of living just to satisfy myself in the now- I’m focussed on eternity!
So where do I want all of my family and friends to meet me? Heaven, of course! Forget graduation celebrations- this is going to be the ultimate turn up! Jesus is having a party and he has tasked me with inviting folk and I want everyone to be there!
This weekend, I was speaking with several of my friends. It was about the normal stuff such as school, relationships and whatever else 20 somethings seem to deal with. As we discussed these things, I had a tugging in my heart. “No, don’t do that sis/bro. It’s not from God.” “Bro/sis, I know it’s hard. But just rest knowing that what God has for you is for you. Trust his perfect timing.” I was sharing whatever book/article/song/conference or whatever else I could to try and get them to want to know Jesus like I want to know Jesus. I have such an inner peace about life right now and I want my family and friends to experience the same thing!!
Needless to say, I got a lot of mixed reactions. I never want to appear as the “judgmental friend” so I backed off whenever I could sense some discomfort. I realized, that just as I can’t force people to come to my graduation (but I’m sure to have a good turn out), I can’t force people to want and actively seek to go to Heaven either. It’s just something I can’t do. I can encourage my loved ones,  pray for them like crazy and share my own experience, but this is a personal walk. Just as I reached a point in my life where I was tired and couldn’t find any comfort in anything or anyone but Jesus, I pray that they will seek the same comfort and in Heaven.
As I embark on this journey, it makes me sad thinking about the relationships that I might lose. But in the song, “Live Through It” by James Fortune, he ensures us that God already knows who is meant to be in our lives and that it may be better to leave some people behind. I’m looking forward to gaining new relationships and strengthening old ones with the love of Christ. I’m learning to trust in God and his will because I’m going to Heaven even if I have to go alone! Turn up! :)
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why you should go chasin’ waterfalls

Over the weekend, I was in Puerto Iguazu, Argentina. Not much there other than the world famous Iguazu Falls waterfalls. It was my first time seeing a waterfall and I was overcome with so many emotions. The views were absolutely breathtaking. If anyone would dare question the existence of God, I would tell them to visit here. Somethings are just undeniable… While here, for obvious reasons, Waterfalls by TLC popped into my head and I found myself singing it to myself as I walked the trails. I didn’t remember much besides the chorus:

Don’t go chasin’ waterfalls. Please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to. And I know that you’re gonna have it your way or nothing at all. But I think you’re moving too fast.

I was beyond confused. This waterfall is so beautiful- even in the midst of the rain showers that were happening while I was there! Why would they advise us not to chase it? I know this seems really silly, but I’m a law student and a music lover so I had to dig a little deeper to try and figure out what they were getting at.

I went ahead and found a website with the lyrics posted in their entirety. Lefteye’s (Rest In Power, Sister) rap lyrics provided the most insight for me. In the beginning, she talks about how she hasn’t seen a prosperous season in awhile and even in the midst of her gray season, she hasn’t even seen a glimpse of hope through a rainbow. She then realizes that only her faith can restore her blue skies.

That’s so true. When it’s raining or gray in our lives, we have a tendency to only focus on that and feel sorry for ourselves. Instead, we should be praying and asking God what we are supposed to learn through the midst of this storm instead of just hurrying to wish it was over and looking for the rainbows. Every storm is a process with a beginning and an end. You will come out better on the other side if you ask God what he wants you to get out of it so you won’t have to experience the same storm again.

As far as chasing waterfalls, I don’t ever want to be complacent sticking with the rivers and lakes (people, places, experiences) like I usually do. I want to walk out with the faith knowing that if I do run into a storm God has sufficiently prepared me for battle and that in the end, the storm will make me better! Now, of course I will pray and seek God’s guidance before chasing new waterfalls or taking on new challenges. But, if I get God’s okay, then I’m well on my way into the waterfall and possibly the storm.

Here are some pics from my trip. I highly encourage everyone to visit Iguazu. And yes, I did catch a glimpse of a beautiful rainbow while I was there.

xx

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viaje sola

It was quite random actually. I was sitting in my room pondering what I wanted to do the upcoming weekend. Hmmm…why not a trip to Mar del Plata? I looked up the bus ticket prices as well as a few hostels just to see. It wasn’t crazy expensive..so… why not? It’s only 5 hours away on bus from Buenos Aires..so if anything, I could catch a quick bus back or even a flight. Done and done. My trip was booked. Yes, my first sola trip. It was 3 days before my trip was scheduled and I couldn’t contain my excitement. Was I nervous? Not really… I had such an easy peace about it that I really didn’t give it any thought.

So I wake up Saturday morning and I’m getting packed and ready to go. My bus leaves at 7am and I must leave my apartment like an hour before that at least because I didn’t quite know where I was going. My cab driver obviously didn’t either and dropped me off at the train station. I specifically asked him to drop me off where the buses would depart but I suppose he didn’t know. So it’s like 6:15 and I’m frantically trying to find where the bus station is. I finally find the bus station and I see a row of at least 100 buses pulling in and out as they reach and leave for their destination. Great. Now how am I supposed to find my bus? I approach the information desk and ask which lane I can anticipate my bus in. “I don’t know,” they guy tells me. “That’s not your ticket anyway.” Umm…what? I have the email confirmation and everything on my phone. He tells me I must print it. Annoyed, I rush off to try and find somewhere to print my email. I’m walking back and forth in the station (mind you I have my backpack with my laptop in it which feels like its 100 lbs at this point). I can’t find any ticket machine or anything. I finally asked one of the armed guards where I can print my ticket. After a conversation with several guards (and regular citizens) I finally find a place where I can print my 4 page email for $47 pesos. Kind of a rip off, but whatever. By this time, it’s 6:55 am and I’m sure that this trip just wasn’t meant to be. Miraculously! I made it and started my journey to MDP. I’ll spare you the details of the bus ride…it wasn’t that exciting. I arrive to MDP and everything was seamless. I quickly find the waiting taxis and give them the address to my hostel. I arrive there within 10 minutes and the owner is waiting for me. “You’re alone?” she asks. “Yup, just me.” I tell her, smiling confidently. It’s really cheesy but I already felt accomplished at this point.

She has someone show me to my room and I get a little settled before I head back down to arrange some excursions. I notice 3 youngish black men in the room behind her on the computer. I assume they are her sons or something because their rapport was so easy going. Other than that, I paid them no mind, got a city map, and set off to do some sight seeing. After a few hours of walking around, not only am I famished, but I’m really tired (I didn’t sleep much the night before or on the bus because I was so anxious haha). I decide to chill in the common room since I didn’t have WiFi in my room and I wanted to decide on a restaurant to eat for dinner. The owner is also in there along with the 3 Brazilian guys. I hear someone saying, “hola” and I can tell that they are talking and waving at me with my peripheral vision. I ignore because…well idk. I just did. lol The owner tells the young men that I speak English, so I’m basically forced to say hello. We strike up a quick conversation about why I’m in MDP and why they are and etc etc etc. It turns out that they aren’t Brazilian at all, but Israeli (by way of Ethiopia many generations back). They have just finished their mandatory 3 year stint in the army and are traveling along South America as a vacation! How cool. They were so nice and friendly that I needed up feeling badly that I didn’t want to talk to them at first. It’s not that they seemed scary or anything, I was just planing to do my own thing and didn’t really want to alert anyone to the fact that I was alone.

They invite me to go out with them later that night. I’m thinking in my head…”yeah right.” This seems like a setup from a movie. Taken is real!! So I agree to pregame with them at 11p until we head to the club at 2. My goal was to just have a few drinks with them in the common room and then bow out to my room because I was so tired. That didn’t work. As soon as we sat down for dinner (I got take out and they all cooked together), it was just natural. They kept asking me if I was okay and if I wanted some of their food and everything. They were just so…accommodating. We talked about everything from Kendrick Lamar, to the war in Israel to being black in Latin America. It was excellent. Although I told my friends that I was not going to go out, I ended up going. Again, this is not something I would normally do and I would not advise anyone else to do it, but I felt a peace about going out with them. I knew that they would look out for me. I could just tell.

We arrived to the club on the beach a little after  2. They took care of everything from my entrance fee to my drinks. It was so nice of them. While we often split up in the club, I was never without one of them by my side dancing with me and making sure that I was okay. If an Argentine (or someone who wasn’t one of them) began to chat with me, they closely watched just to make sure that everything was good. We were the life of the party! We got back to the hostel around 6 or so. It might have been later, I don’t really remember. They went to their room and I want to mine. That’s it. No one tried anything other than telling me good night and to be safe on my excursion in a few hours.

Anyway, I had set my alarm for 11 the next day so that I could wake up, eat breakfast and walk the beach before my tour at 2:30p. I was so tired but I quickly got myself together so that I could do all as planned. After a quick brunch, I walked the pier and took photos of some of the views. Mar del Plata is really an amazing city. It’s off the coast of the Atlantic Ocean and the water was beautiful- not like the dreary gray water I saw in Uruguay. I found myself sitting on some steps with many other people watching a few older couples dance. It was so charming and so sweet! Everyone was laughing, clapping and recording.

After watching, I headed for my tour. The tour was with about 15 other people. We all rode in the excursion van. The tour guide asked (in Spanish) if that was everyone’s language of choice for the tour. I refrained from telling him that I was a native English speaker and didn’t speak much Spanish. Why? Anything I wanted to know, I could just google when I got back to the hostel anyway. lol The tour was based in the city of Miramar which is close to MDP. We saw many sights and attractions, but my favorite was the Bosque Energetico. I’m not sure why, but the trees in this forest contain some sort of energy that allows them to defy gravity. They grow inwards and without leaves. The branches that have fallen off are able to balance on each other in unnatural ways. It was so wonderful just to be able to experience that.

Somewhere along the way of the tour, an older Argentine woman asked me if I would like her to take pics of me. It was so sweet of her! She found me at each location and took photos for me. She was asking me about my story, background and why I’m in Argentina etc. She told me that it’s such a great experience and that she was happy for me. I returned from the tour around 9p. I went to my room to lay down for a bit and then I went downstairs to use the wifi. My 3 friends from the previous night were there. And who would imagine that they would have wanted to go out again? Haha Just to a bar this time though. I really would have loved to go, but I was just so tired from the previous night and the tour that day. We exchanged information and I bid them farewell. I went to bed and knocked out hard (which was good because the bed was very uncomfortable). The next morning I woke up, paid for my room and was on my way back to BsAs before I knew it.

This was such a momentous trip for me. Everything went seamlessly and I met some pretty amazing people along the way. It was nothing short of God’s grace that I went there alone, but was never lonely.

Things I learned through my viaje sola:

1. Yes, there are a lot of bad people in this world. But there are a lot of good people too. :)

2. No matter where I go, if it’s abroad, someone is going to want to touch my hair. One of the hostel workers asked me if she could touch it. I let her. As previously explained, there aren’t a lot of black people in Argentina. Next time, I’ll explain to whomever that while I don’t care, many others will take offense to such a question.

3. Be Safe. Plan. Plan. Plan. I did a good amount of pre-planning and I brought a lot of extra cash and my credit card in case of emergency. I also had my school’s contact info as well as my insurance card on my person at all times.

4. I can do this. For some reason, I had developed this complex that I “needed” someone to accompany me for whatever reason. Totally not the case. I made it back in one piece and I feel better about being here than I did before I went.

5. Step out on faith. God didn’t give us the spirit of fear. I can say it, I can live it. Today, I came across this devotional and it really hit home for me and is extremely relevant!

This is a time in your life when you must learn to let go: of loved ones, of possessions, of control. In order to let go of something that is precious to you, you need to rest in My Presence, where you are complete. Take time to bask in the Light of My Love. As you relax more and more, your grasping hand gradually opens up, releasing your prized possession into My care.

You can feel secure, even in the midst of cataclysmic changes, through awareness of My continual Presence. The One who never leaves you is the same One who never changes: I am the same yesterday, today, and forever. As you release more and more things into My care, remember that I never let for of your hand. Herein lies your security, which no one and no circumstance can take from you.

Here are some pics of my trip. Enjoy! xx

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Is Perception Reality?

I had a very interesting discussion with a friend of mine the other day. For some reason or another, we got on the topic of perception. Before I could even ask (which I surely would have), she told me her perception of me. This woman is completely candid and honest so I really took to heart what she told me.

She said, “You always seem so put together.” She then went on to elaborate. In her eyes (and maybe the eyes of others), I seem self-assured and poised. She told me that from looking at me, she could never really tell what I was thinking and that I have a very consistent way of presenting myself.

Her observations floored me. For one, I have known this woman since my first year of law school- a time when I felt more vulnerable than I have in my entire life. If I could describe myself in a few words stemming from that year, they would include “timid” or “hesitant” at the least. Now, I have never been one to cower in a corner at the site of a challenge, but for me, my first year of law school was a reality check. I quickly learned that the study habits I developed in undergrad would be of no use to me in that environment. Anyway- I was shocked that I gave off that impression because I definitely didn’t feel that way. In all fairness, she could have been speaking about my growth over the years as well…

This conversation really got me thinking. Is this how other people see me? Confident and poised? What else do they see? I wanted to ask more but that would have been completely self-serving as we quickly moved on to another topic.

This week, I started re-reading Heather Lindsey’s book on Christian Womanhood, Dusty Crowns (if you are looking for some conviction, I highly recommend it). This book can best be described as a blueprint for how I would like to be perceived by people. When I walk into a room, I want people to know immediately upon looking at me that I am favored, a daughter of the most high. Poised and self-assured. I want an almost angelic glow of grace to follow me so that I can spread the joy of Jesus earnestly and relentlessly. I want people to listen and find Him through me. I am but a vessel. It is no wonder than I am already maturing in my relationship with him if people perceive me as my friend does. Isn’t it crazy how He works swiftly and silently? Just because I didn’t see the results doesn’t mean that they weren’t there!

One of my other friends shared with me this daily devotional that is all too fitting here:

May God bless the woman deep within me,the woman I’m trying to be. May he mend where my heart is broken and fill every empty space. May God erase the fears of my past, to create in me a brighter future. May he make me slow to anger and quick to forgive.

Amen.

He’s worked on me and He’s still working on me. He can work on you, too. Praise Him!

xx

Argentina: The Problem

Most of the time I love it here! Other times, I have a desperate need to return to Harlem as soon as possible…

The problem? Street harassment. I should have know this would be a problem since orientation where our on-site therapist gave two “warnings” that I still cannot seem to wrap my head around.

 First, she told us that street harassment was a sort of “cultural” thing here. She said it developed from a time when men were expected to say nice things to women to lift their spirits. *insert sideeye* Anyway, this behavior is still manifested today and definitely not in a way that lifts my spirits.  If anything, I feel targeted. More on this later. 

Second, she mentioned that a few of the minority students from last year were taken aback at how much attention they get here. She explained that unlike in The States, it is not considered rude or poor mannerisms to gawk at someone in the street. “It’s out of curiousity,” she explained. These two phenomena often play out in ways (most of the time together) that make me feel beyond uncomfortable. Let me explain. 

Before I arrived here, I was extremely ignorant about everything Argentina. I didn’t know what the food would be like, how the people would be or anything else. Being that the country is in Latin America, I had a few preconceived notions but decided to withhold judgment until I could actually experience the atmosphere. 

It turns out, Buenos Aires doesn’t have as much of a cultural influence from Africa as I thought it would. In fact, I’ve been here almost two months and have seen only 4 other black people aside from those in my program. This was a bit shocking to me initially but I am used to operating in environments where I am one of a few or only. However, when coupling this fact with the high proliferation of street harassment, things get a bit more complicated. 

I have been called Morena and Negra here more times than I have been called my name. It’s quite bothersome. What I miss most about NY is my ability to blend in- to be part of the crowd. My sex coupled with my race has pushed me to the forefront of some stage that I would never have asked for here. 

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Horseback Riding in the Andes

Tostado, the horse, and I have a love/hate relationship. I loved her and she hated me. Haha But this was one beautiful trek! I have never spent an extended amount of time on a horse before this so I’m sure that Tostado could sense my hesitations. We spent about 3 hours riding through the Andes in Mendoza, Argentina. Although my butt was sore sometime after the first hour, I still willed Tostado to run as much as she could over the rocky terrain. Life is much too short to always play it safe. 

xx