It’s Super Tuesday! Are you ready to vote?

Super Tuesday is finally here! The day I get to vote for the first time. I am super, super, super excited. I think I am ready to vote. I woke up this morning and confirmed my polling station in my town. Turns out it is a walk from my house.I also checked out the ballot to see who the options are. Oh! I am actually off work as well so I have no pressure on me. I can take my time voting and enjoying the moment. takes a deep breathe

Let me tell you why I am so excited to vote. I grew in Nigeria, in the days of Abacha. I grew in a military dictatorship. Even though Nigeria was not voting, my mother always talked about elections and voting. I remember the day Sani Abacha died. I remember when Abdul-Salami Abubakar gave that first speech on NTA. We were still in FESTAC. My mother was literally jumping and screaming at the TV in excitement.

I don’t take the right to vote for granted. I have been a US resident for about 13 years. I have lived through the George Bush re-election. I was in California during the recall year when Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected. I was here through the beginning of Obama game-changing ascension from the unknown to the Presidency. I remember so wanting to vote in that election. I was unable because I was only a resident. Now I am a citizen.

Being an American citizen has been one of the most unexpected stories of my life. It has also been one of the most defining status of my adulthood. Being American gave me the freedom to discover who I wanted to be and believe I could be that person.

I am excited to do my duty as a citizen. I am excited to make a choice. It is not an easy choice. No matter how certain I am about the candidate I am voting for, I have come to realize that as a voter I have to be prepare for heartache. I am keeping my eyes on the bigger picture. Do my bit and hope that other do theirs as well.

It is funny that when I first started thinking of voting, I never imagined I would even be interested in the primaries. Since I have immersed myself in this election cycle, I have come to realize that voting counts at every stage. As such Super Tuesday would be my first vote. Seems like less of a bit deal since it isn’t the big November election but I know this is important.

*If you live in the state of Massachusetts and you are not sure if you are registered to vote, check out your status here. It will give your voter status. You can also see your polling station as well as a sample of the ballot.


Restorative Silence

There is something powerful in hearing nothing


The first time I took a yoga class was really early in the morning. I remember dragging myself to the little room in the gym and going through all of these movement. Then, at the end, I remember Savasana, or corpse pose, feeling like all the stress I had accumulated was drained out of my body. In that moment, I felt so relieved. I felt like I had slept for hours instead of the minutes of calmness. Silence, it appears, could restore my equilibrium. That was weird to me because I have always been afraid of silence. I tend to fill up spaces with sounds. I even talk out loud to myself if I feel like a space is too silent.

In the past  few week though I have been craving silence. It started with my morning walk to the train station. I tend to leave my house early in the still morning to walk to train station. At that time, there are not a lot of cars or people moving around. It is usually really quiet. I normally would have my earphones on and listen to music really loud. Recently though I have been walking in silence. At first, it was because I felt like I needed that time to think about how I wanted my day to go. To visual the many steps and goals for the day.

This meditative walk turned into taking the train to work without playing music. The train has a rhythm of its own I have discovered. It is the way the train rolls on the rail and takes the curves in the way. It is in the beep on public announcement system. It is the voice of the conductor announcing the upcoming stations. It is all just one sound outside my head. Soon, without music, that rhythm disappears and becomes silence. I find myself getting lost in my own thoughts instead of the beats pumping into my head. On my day off, I usually spend a considerable amount of time in the kitchen playing music. In the past weeks, I have spent time in the kitchen, without music, just listening to the wind and the city moving about me.

Being in silence has had a centering effect on me. I feel like I am calmer because of it. I am not so hyped up. The one big thing it has done is allow me be able to hear better. I used to listen to my music so loud. A few days ago, I put my earphones on and I had to reduce the music to really low because I was not used to anything that loud. My phone calls have also gotten better because I am calm and able to hear better.

I am starting to think of this silent period as a sort of Savasana. I am after all the person who has always enjoyed Savasana, the last silent moment of yoga practice. There is something powerful about the restorative calm of hearing nothing and being turned inward.

*If you feel like you could use some calm, try practicing Savasana. The Yoga journal has a whole article on getting into Savasana  and its benefits here.

What’s in the Gym Bag?

Are small towels motivation to get thinner?


I did not grow up in gym culture. I grew up in Lagos where exercise was really about walking from one place to another. Of course, there was inter-house sports day in school but it was sports was a special occassion. Physical Education classes were for learning rules of different games not actually playing games. By the time I left Lagos though, gym culture was slowly infiltrating the mainstream. I remember do crunches on the brown carpet in my mother’s house because I heard that was how people got flat tummy.

When I arrived in the US at 16 and started community college, my step-mother randomly signed me up for a step aerobic class. It was not in my original schedule but she slipped it in there. This was the first time that I was part of a formal “gym” class. That was 13 years ago.

In that time, I have become an active member of gym culture. One of the things that I have had to learn was how to pack a gym bag. Trust me when I say that a well packed gym bag is an essential part of my work-out. When I first started going to the gym, I was very body conscious. I was mystified as to why the towels just seemed so small. Are small towels motivation to get thinner?  At first I used to pack my own extra large towel with me to the gym. Now I don’t even bother putting a towel in my bag. No, I have not gotten thinner. I have simply gotten more body confident.

I have gotten really good at packing my gym bag to include the things that are essential to me. Here are a few things that I am currently packing in my gym bag

  1. Body Wash: This is a new product that I have gotten addicted to. I have finicky skin that gets itchy quickly so I have to be careful with my body wash. I have used so many great ones in the past. My current favorite body wash is the Arnica Sports Shower Gel by Weleda. This is a new product that I have gotten addicted to so quickly.
  2. Body Oil: I like oil. Some people find oil too greasy or too shiny to use on their skin. I am the opposite. I find oil to be the best thing for my skin. There are many great lotions on the market and I use them occasionally.  When I am treating my skin right though I use coconut oil or an oil blend that I have mixed at home myself. I am currently in love with the Nature’s Way Liquid Coconut Oil. I use that on my face and body at night at home. At the gym I use it on my body only.
  3. Face Wash: When I first moved back to the US in 2013, I did not really have a face care routine. I have become a face care addict in that time and I have tried many great brands. My favorite brand to use on my face hands down is Acure. I love their stuff so much. I use the Acure Facial Cleansing Creme because it is so gentle yet so effective. I can tell the difference in the quality of my skin.
  4. Face Oil: Again, I use Acure brand face oil. I am a big fan of their Argan oil. My favorite from their line though, for winter, is the Seriously Firming Facial Serum. This serum is really just an intense blend of Argan Oil, Borage Oil and Cranberry Oil. I wear it under my make-up as well.
  5.  Shower Cap: If you have black natural hair like I do or just a really delicate hair style then you understand this one. I don’t have a fancy shower cap. My sister bought one of those packs with hundreds of flimsy caps last year and I have just been using those.
  6. My Make-Up Bag: I don’t wear make-up everyday. Sometimes I wish I did but I don’t. However, I carry my make-up bag with me everyday in my gym bag because there are some days when I have time and I just really want to doll up my face. I will do another post on my make-up bag sometimes soon.
  7. Anti-perspirant/Deodorant: I use to wear a deodorant for a while simply because it is supposed to be better for the body. However, I found myself really conscious about my body odor. While I recognize the risk in wearing an anti-perspirant,I switched because it made me less self-conscious. I usually wear a gel from Secret.

Of course there are other things that I put in my gym bags depending on the day of the week. However, these are the things that are consistently in my bag. For things that I use out of the gym as well, I tend to buy two. I keep one in my gym bag permanently and I use one at home. It is just easier for me that way because I don’t have to worry about forgetting anything.

What do you have in your gym bag?



The Guilt of No

Saying Maybe Delays the Guilt. Say NoI was a consumer behavior researcher, for a hot minute during my graduate school days. My research work dealt with the relationship between intention and behavior. One of the most important things I learned is that intention precedes behavior. Intention, for the most part, is within the full control of a person. Behavior is influenced by a series of factors that are not necessarily within the full control of a person.

Understanding and acknowledging the relationship between intention and behavior is an important part of living a guilt-free life, in my opinion. Sometimes we intend to help but we are unable to help. By understanding that which is beyond our control, we are able to let go of the guilt of being unable. I am reminded of this a lot when I volunteer on Mondays. This past Monday I was leading the shift when an older couple came in. Neither one of them could have been younger than 80. They were both almost frail but sort of full of life. They had stopped at the office to see how they could help.

There are many ways you can help a campaign. Not everyone is able to do everything. The older couple that came in were unable to help much because neither one of them couple could complete basic tasks on the computer. They both felt so guilty and kept apologizing. I kept trying to reassure them that their intention in coming to help was much more important than the fact they were unable to help. The fact that we are using a computerized system is beyond their control. As such, they shouldn’t feel guilty.

Personally, as much as I intend to help the campaign, I can’t do everything. Sometimes, I can’t do anything. Sometimes, I am unable to volunteer for more than 3 hours at a time. Sometimes, I feel guilty about leaving people behind and going home. I know this guilt is irrational. One of the things that I am working on is letting go of irrational guilt.

I have started spending a lot of time thinking about my intentions. What am I intending to do when I go to work in the morning? I intend to help customers have a wonderful shopping experience. However, if a customer asks me to answer a question and I am unable to answer it, does that mean I have failed for the day? No, it means that the question is beyond my volitional control as such I am unable to follow through on my intention.

By focusing on my intention, I have also been able to recognize my limitations. Yes, I would like to help. But, no, I am unable to help. I am learning how to say “no.” In the past, I would edge my bet and say “maybe.” Saying “maybe”was a way of not having to acknowledge my limitations. But “maybe” really was a way of delaying the guilt. Now, I am honest. I say “no.” By saying “no,” I set myself free and I am able to do the best of that which I can.


Not Just A Woman

I don't have the luxury of being just a woman

LuxuryI went to see Kung Panda 3 this weekend. It is not like I go to see movies regularly. The whole movie thing was an accident of an ill-timed desire to bowl and being met with a 3 hour waiting time. Instead of going back home, my friend and I decided to go watch a movie. It just happened that the next starting movie was Kung Fu Panda 3.

The big theme of this movie was identity. It was simple enough for kids and complex enough for adults who chose to pay attention. What do you do when your identity is not as simple as white bread? What is Po to do as the adopted son of a goose and the biological son of a Panda? Where does he draw his strength? What makes him him?

These are complicated questions for an animated movie. These questions though are the ones I have to wrestle with as a voter. Who am I? What are my priorities? What will tip  my vote?

My identity is layered in both the physical and the psychological. I am woman. Born and raised as a Muslim in  Nigeria. Moved to America at 16. Became an American in 2009. Highly educated but struggling to achieve a solidly middle class status. Struggling to figure out the student loan game. Gaining a consciousness of my own blackness in American society. Worried about the lives of my future children in a society that does not value black lives.

All of these things and more influence the way I see the world. The layers of identity and world view color the ideal world I see. This ideal world inevitably colors the way I see myself casting my vote.

Any suggestions that my vote should be as simple as being a woman or being black or being Muslim is a shortcut to diminishing my experience as human being. One of the struggles I initially had before deciding of Bernie Sanders was the idea of the first female president. Am I traitor to womanhood if I choose a man over Hilary Clinton? Is this another case of betrayal of sisterhood and feminism of I feel that a man better represents my ideals that Hilary?

When Madeline Albright and Gloria Steinem start “scolding” young women for not voting for Hilary Clinton because she is a woman, they do so from the position of white feminism. The much stated quote about going to hell for not supporting other women is one that is based on the assumption that other women are accepting of all women. No if, but or maybe. That assumption is a privilege. White Feminist have the privilege of being able to see challenges to their life from the position of their gender. The glass ceiling for them is one layer thick. As long as they can overcome the barrier of having a vagina instead of penis, then they are good to go.

The fact is I don’t have the luxury of being just a woman. The inability to understand that gender is not the only barrier that young women are dealing is perhaps why feminism and Hilary Clinton’s campaign don’t appeal to a lot of young women. I’m not saying that I don’t connect to any part of Hilary Clinton’s platform. I’m saying I connect more to Bernie Sanders’ platform. I have too many questions and concerns about the future of the country under Hilary’s leadership.

 And just in case there is a temptation to drag out Barack Obama’s implicit or explicit endorsement to boost Hilary’s campaign, I shall still be voting for Bernie.

January Loves

There is nothing like empowering people to do something new

There is nothing like empowering people to do something new

I can’t believe January is over! I mean wasn’t it yesterday we made promises to each other and to ourselves. To live better lives this year. To do more. To be more. To be present. Now January is here and gone. The newness of 2016 is slightly faded; there is a luster but it is not so bright.

Despite the departure of January, I am still excited for the year ahead. In January, I enjoyed myself a lot. Sure there were moments of anxiety and deep thoughts. But there were also moments of levity. Read more

What is Success?

Success.jpgI am having a tough weekend. I am having one of those moments when I look at my life and all I see are my shortcomings. I know I am not being rational. That said the despair I feel is real because I feel like I am not where I want to be at this point in my life. No, I don’t feel like I am at rock bottom. At the same time, I don’t feel like I am on a successful path. There is so much more that I want out of my life.

Sometimes the things I desire out of life lead to competing interests. On one hand I feel like in order for me to progress professionally I should be open to moving out of the Greater Boston area. On the flip side, I have moved so much in the last thirteen years that the thought of packing my bags moving has me crying on the phone with my friend.

I don’t have much in Boston. I have a job. I have a few friends. Some clothes, some pots and pans and my growing sense of stability. For some looking at my life, that is not enough to stake a lifetime on. For me though, the bit I have now seems like more than I have had in a long time. The sense that I have people to call, places I know and some hope of a career seems like more than a enough to build a future upon.

While I was crying to my friend on the phone, he asked me, “What is success to you? You have to figure out your narrative and make decisions that are right for you.” I am not sure what my vision of success is. Okay…maybe I am telling lies. For me success is not just having a good job, it is having a social bearing as well. On the whole, I don’t have any of those things at the moment. And that scares me badly. As happy and as inspired as I am to turn 30, it scares me as well.

It is scary because I see so much more that I need to be doing. As much as I am inspired to live with vigor, 8 months is not enough to build a life like the one I want. But like everyone keeps telling me when I get worked up and too emotional about the whole thing, I need to calm down and take it a step at a time.