Thursday, November 28, 2013

Gia in Her Pink Hat

Yes this is me.  I am getting ready to go out with my mommy, but since it is cold out, I must wear a hat. What do you think of this one? My great grandmother Betty bought this for me, and about 7 others.  But this is the one I like. Imagine, one day my granny Tonya could not find me a suitable hat at all, and then like magic I now have about 10.  I guess I am just a lucky girl.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Are You Ready? How does He Get You Ready for Your Purpose?

Today a great deal of things are going through my head.  I got married 8 years ago thinking that it was going to be an adventure.  I had been engaged four times prior to actually saying I do. I waited until my daughter went off to college as not to have that drama, and did it just for me.  This marriage was not going to be about getting a father for my daughter, or about getting someone to help me maintain a home for her, or about security. This was going to purely be about love and enjoying a life with someone, having an adventure, relaxing in this love and life with another.   tonyaYunus
My husband and I had talked about world travel. He had done a great deal of traveling, especially in Europe, as he was from Tanzania, Africa.  His ability to navigate through different cultures and countries, speaking several languages, was part of his attraction.  The other part of the attraction was the way he embraced my ambitions, my interest in many things. Where many men thought of me as not knowing what I wanted to do, he saw me as interesting, and for the first time, it felt like it was alright to be me.  That made me feel special. Now I wonder if that was part of the game to win me over. I now realize for every plan we had, or I thought we had together he had an ulterior one.  Therefore nothing that we planned together ever came to past.  I had no idea because I was blinded by the love, on many levels. Now that I am no longer blinded, which didn’t happen overnight even after separation, I am free to pursue my path, because it was obviously my path not his.  It took me years to wake up because I respect the sacrament of marriage and I didn’t enter into that commitment to just throw it away when it no longer pleased me. But after two separations and many broken promises, I knew it was never going to come together.  As much as I loved him, and still think he has some good attributes in spite of the ones that tore apart our marriage, I now totally understand what it is meant to be unequally yoked. First my husband is a Suni Muslin from Tanzania, Africa. Even though he is not active in his religion, he still has the beliefs because it is not only a religion to him and his family, it is a way of life, it who they are.  I saw him as a strong black man with strong family ties and great respect for family and his elders, who just happen to be from Africa.  I was totally unaware of the major cultural differences.  I figured that many people marry into other cultures and it works, so why can’t we.  As far as religion was concerned, my being a Christian and his being a Muslin was not a deal breaker because we both believed in God, and that was enough for me.  However, they do not believe that Jesus Christ was the son of God, they believe that he was a prophet.  Ok, I still did not see a problem.  Then we started to have marital problems and I realized that we could not go to the church for counseling, because we believed two different things. Even though I was comfortable going to the mosque he was not comfortable going to a Christian church. This is when I knew I was in trouble. So there was not going to be any real marital counseling.  Then the other things started to fall apart.  I thought we had the same values, but we didn’t. I thought for sure we valued family the same, but even that was different.  He was used to being thousands of miles away from his family, his siblings, his daughter, etc., so he never totally understood the urgency for me to be with my family at certain times.  Even though he never tried to stop me or even discourage me, he just didn’t see the urgency.  I understand now that he just had his own agenda, even though he tried to provide me with all that I wanted.  His idea of marriage from my perspective, is to take care of home first, enough to keep me comfortable, and what went own outside of that was ok.  There goes another difference in values. My idea was to put most of my energy in having a happy home, and the outside things were extra.  Well first of all we are not talking about the same outside things. Lol I had no need or desire to be with my husband 24 hours per day, I like it when he has his own interests and friends and I have mine, and we have common interests and friends, whether they overlapped or not.  He comes from a culture where it is acceptable to have more than one wife, but they had to be equal, so what many would do is not have more than one wife because they could not afford that or they realize how difficult it was, but it was totally ok to have women outside of the marriage.  It was my fault that I didn’t understand that.  I think all people should be true to who they are, do what makes them happy, but they don’t have the right to do it to or with people that are not willing to participate. I now realize that having more than one woman is viewed differently in his culture as it is in mine, not that men in my culture don’t subscribe to the same lifestyle.  Maybe we are not meant to be monogamous, I don’t know, but I do know the pain that comes along with that deception. Even though God did not choose him for my husband he put him in my path for a reason.  That is what is most important to me now.  I had to go through something to have clarity and understanding of myself and of life.  I am grateful for every minute of the pain and anguish, because I now realize that God could not use me where I was, he had to mold me.  The same way you mold metal, God had to mold me; you have to add heat to soften that medal; He had to add some pain (heat), to make me a little more pliable.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Making It Happen, Part 1

Many people ask me how I do what I do.  How did I get here? That answer comes in many forms.  One of the things I believe they are asking me is how could I financially afford to do what I am doing…  The first thing I am going to say is that I trust in my Father to provide my needs.  I wanted to concern myself with living and not making a living. I think of that song, “His Eye on the Sparrow”, and remember that if He takes care of the needs of that sparrow, food, shelter, and health, and He gave me dominion over that sparrow, then He is watching over me.  The Lyrics for this song comes from the Gospel of Matthew. My Father tells me, “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”(Matthew 6:26) Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father's will.  But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.  Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. (Matthew 10:29-31) I do live by these words, and I am reminded every day because He always comes through.  He put these desires in my heart, He guides my path, and I just listen and obey.

Now I know that all of this sounds like much of what you have heard before, but when you step out on faith, He will put people in your path to move you along in your journey as well as to help you grow.  I welcome this, because it is actually the easiest and most beautiful path that I have been on. I do own a travel business, Kalule Travel Groups, that provides income, but I don’t worry about money, I do try to be smart about it though.  Besides these things, I have taught myself to live with a great deal less than I thought I needed. No, not need to survive, need to live. You don’t need as many shoes, and boy do I love a shoe, nor handbags, nor clothes.    I realize that I wear the same things over and over anyway, because once we discover the clothing that is comfortable and look good, we just continue to wash and wear, or in many cases dry clean and wear. So I started getting rid of the things that I didn’t wear. Yes that was hard. This downsizing took place over several years. When I moved from Tampa to California, I only took things that would fit in the suitcases with the intentions of shipping the things in storage out later. Well that never happened because for the price it would cost to ship those items cross country, I could buy them again. So that is what I did. I found a really nice studio apartment in San Fernando Valley and that is where I lived for many years. Downsized! From 2 Br 2 ½ B condo in Florida, to a Studio. Before the condo, there was a 2500 sq.ft. house in Savannah.  The first two was when I was raising my daughter and the Studio, I lived alone.  The only thing different about the studio was that it was without washer and dryer, but the Laundromat was 2 blocks away. No I didn't like it, but I lived with it, because downsizing meant I had money in my pocket and the freedom to live and not worry about housing my STUFF.

Everyone who came to visit when I lived in my studio was first surprised and then wanted to hang out because it was quite cozy, with the deck it was like having an outside room.  So I grew to love this little space, because I took my time to make it my own.


  So the first lesson for me was to realize what things were more important to me.  Now you may not want to go where I have gone or even where I am going, but you may want to do something different from what you have been. You first need to de-clutter your life, and that starts in your house. Once you start to do that you will be able to let go of some of the things that you have obligated your time too.  You may need more time with yourself.  Yes it is great to give, but it is also very important to replenish.  You must love and care for yourself. Sometimes we just have to say no and decline things that are going to demand more of us than we are able to give.

In the words of Anthony Robbins, ... in life, lots of people know what to do, but few people actually do what they know.

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Journey

View of 3rd Street from Santa Monica Mall
We all have dreams of what we want for our lives and most often those dreams are postponed. When the opportunity comes for us to work toward that goal we are often driven by what we believe the end result will be, the money, the recognition, or whatever we believe that our lives will be like when we finally reach our goals. We are often frustrated by the road that takes us to this anticipated end, if we reach it at all. Most often, that end result is different from what we anticipated. What we forget to do is to enjoy the journey of getting to wherever it is that we are trying to go. The journey is where we learn and grow and cross many hurdles, which are small successes. Many times we see these small successes as merely stepping stones, but we need to celebrate them just the same. I want to be photojournalist and blogging is how I decided to begin the learning process, along with taking pictures of course. I know that photojournalism is merely telling stories through photos. Sometimes it is just photos and other times it is photos with words, but it is always telling a story.  I have always loved meeting people from all walks of life and I love hearing their stories.  I love celebrating their lives, the successes and the failures, the challenges and the triumphs, it is all what makes us who we are. Even though I would love to be recognized for my work, not necessarily rewarded, but I want others to see and feel what I do.  I want people to respond, to have a reaction of any sort. I have been intentionally living my life and enjoying every step of this journey.  Even the three years where I was recovering from several surgeries and all I could do was plan and research, as well as search within finding my strengths and weaknesses and asking what path am I to take.  I had to get the other voices out of my head (parents, society, church, etc) in order to hear His and I had to be Still.  Those three years I was still and I had a deep desire to live a more meaningful life.  I ask Him everyday to guide my feet, my heart and my tongue. This is where I am being lead too, this life, and I am so at peace with it.

 I have wanted to explore other cultures for as long as I can remember. It actually started with this picture book my mom bought me on Thailand.  No I have yet to get to Thailand, but I have always wanted to go, and I will get there. Moving to Los Angeles gave me that extra courage I needed to make things happen and not just talk about it.  I saw people there be happy not living the status quo. I saw people make a living walking dogs. Yes, some are making over 50k per year doing just that.  Now that I am in Peru, I see people making a living doing everything. I don't see a great deal of industry jobs here like in the states. These people learn skills and market themselves.  There are hundreds of small restaurants, hundreds and hundred of shops for clothes, shoes, food, everything.  These people are entrepreneurs, they are smart, and they are skilled. DSC_5394    

Tell me about your journey or the journey you dream about?