Image

How Did We End Up in Arizona, Anyway?

On this Valentine’s Day, I want to tell you an Arizona love story. A love story of how two people fell in love and settled down in Arizona.

Okay. Not really. I’m just going to tell you how my husband and I ended up in Arizona and why we decided to make Arizona our home long-term wise. I will then proceed to tell you some pros and cons about Arizona living. Let’s start with my husband, since technically he is the one who brought me here.

Arizona was the first state he arrived in when he moved from The Motherland (D.R. Congo) to the U.S. with his family.  His sister had already lived in AZ with her husband for some time. They first lived in Tucson, but later on moved to the Phoenix area. He went to college and grad school right here in the valley, and now he is a young professional with a striving career.Screen Shot 2018-08-26 at 2.14.43 PMOK. My turn. I first came to Phoenix with my family on vacation in 2001. I was living in Dallas, TX at the time. We came and visited a friend of the family who lived in (what I thought was paradise) Scottsdale, Arizona.You know that quote that says:

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder…”

 

I say this because for some, when they see Arizona, all they see is brown, brown, and more brown. (a common comment on my Youtube videos). But for me, when we first arrived in Phoenix, I was in awe. All I saw was beauty.It was paradise. It was just so beautiful and peaceful, so since that day, it was on my “to live in one day” list.  I was impressed by the mountains, the desert life, the palm trees, the great outdoors, and the clean streets. It was just appealing to me. I even applied to Arizona State University, but decided to go elsewhere for college.”One day,” I thought to myself. And sure enough, that day came.I met my husband in Dallas when he came in town to visit a friend (now brother-in-law). He told me he lived in Phoenix and I was impressed. Fast forward years later, we started dating–long distance. I know. What were we thinking, right?Well, love and God brought us together because we made it through four years of long distance and Okay…I’m getting carried away here with the love story, aren’t I? I apologize, I suppose Valentine’s Day got to me, huh?

Back to the topic.

WHY ARIZONA?

So clearly love brought me here, but why did we decide to live here and call it home when we could have chosen to start our lives together anywhere else?

#1: DESIRE & COMFORT

The main reason would be simply because my husband was pretty much already settled here and I was willing (more like READY) to leave Dallas. I had the desire to leave Dallas and he was comfortable here in PHX.  He already had a nice job after graduating, while I was still in grad school without a stable job. It made more sense for me to move to Phoenix and I was glad to do so!

#2: COST OF LIVING HERE IS VERY AFFORDABLE.

This leads me to home prices. Here in AZ, you are able to purchase the home of your dreams for less than 300k for example. Whether you like McMansions, ranch with thousands of acres, or small cozy homes, you can have that here. Now, I am mostly speaking to those coming from Cali, Washington state, Portland, Bay area, or the East Coast. I would like to believe we bought our dream home–something that would have taken us years elsewhere.

#3: THE GREAT OUTDOORS

At least for me. I have always had quite an adventurous and spontaneous soul. I love the desert life. Some people don’t and could never ever imagine living here, but I love it. One misconception about AZ is that we are dying in heat all year long. Wrong. It is ONLY really hot about 4, 5 months out of the year, the other months are beautiful and feel like spring/fall weather. So, if you can survive the brutal summers, then you will enjoy the rest of the year. Lots of people escape up north (Flagstaff/Sedona) on the weekends during the unbearable months of summer.I love exploring the great outdoors. Now because I am in a special stage of life with very small children, I do not get to explore as much as I would like, but when I can I try to find something new to explore. Our children will grow up to love the great outdoors, which is important to me. 

I have so many places on my list here in AZ: Page, Sedona, Grand Canyon, Lake Havasu, etc.

#4: COFFEE CULTURE

Now you know I had to talk about this one here. I did not really become a huge coffee person until I lived in Phoenix, honestly. It is quite surprising to people that Phoenix is such a coffee town because it’s hot here. haha. No matter how you like your coffee, phoenix is the place. We are the Coffee Capital of the Southwest according to Vogue Magazine.I am now a huge coffee lover, connoisseur, enthusiast, or whatever you want to call it! If ever in town, check out all the cool coffee shops downtown near Roosevelt row.

#5: CLOSE TO OTHER MAJOR CITIES

That’s right. Within 4-5hours of driving, you could be in San Diego, LA, Orange Country, Vegas, Colorado, New Mexico, Mexico, or Utah.This is great if you have a big family and love to travel, like us. Instead of flying and purchasing multiple airline tickets, you could rent a big car, and have your family vacation within hours. Or you can simply get away for just the weekend or the day in Sedona or Flagstaff.

ALL THIS GOOD STUFF. WHAT ABOUT THE CONS? A FEW CONS ABOUT LIVING IN ARIZONA FOR ME WOULD BE:

#1: SUMMER HEAT

I will not lie. I will not sugarcoat it. Like I mentioned earlier, summers are brutal and very long. You must have a pool and AC to survive those months. Be ready for a high electricity bill.

#2: INSECTS & BUGS

Everywhere. All kinds. Pest-control is a must.

#3: LACK OF DIVERSITY

It is not uncommon to be the only person of color in certain areas.Well, there you have it. The Arizona Love Story. Haha. We may not live here forever obviously. Things change. 

“Opportunities come and go, but for now, Arizona is definitely home.”

Image

Dealing With Mommy Guilt & Comparisons

 

I never knew how competitive moms could be until I became one myself.

From feeding choices, to daycare, career choices, and sleeping methods, moms constantly compare their child or parenting choices to others.  Most do it unintentionally and are probably unaware that they’re comparing. But still, it happens often.

The moment will come when a mother has to make one of the biggest decisions in motherhood-one that has moms of today divided into two categories: being a stay-at-home-mom or a working mom. Some are able to do both (more power to you!), but most moms are not able to. But with whatever decision you decide, don’t let anyone make you feel bad about your decision.  Moms already deal with enough stress, so we should be uplifting one another instead of making each other feel bad for whatever reason.

I’ve talked about how some moms sometimes feel a sense of self loss at times. It can get lonely. Staying home with an infant all day and feeling out of touch with “life out there.” Or maybe you had to go back to work and now you’re feeling mommy guilt because other moms have it “easy” and are able to stay at home with baby (which isn’t easy at all, by the way!).  Whichever you are,  you should not feel bad for making a decision that another mom doesn’t agree with. And what’s with the term full-time mom? We’re all full-time moms, the way I see it… I hate that term…

Anyway, it has been a rough couple of days. Enough coffee could not help with the physical and emotional exhaustion I’m feeling right now. Exhausted because my baby is teething and hasn’t been sleeping well, and also because I have recently gone back to teaching online part-time. Although I get to stay home with my 3-month old infant,  I sometimes second guess my decision to go back to work.

Is it too soon? Am I crazy?  How will I manage everything?

I’m grateful to have a career where I can do both-stay home with baby and work, but I won’t lie and say it’s easy. I don’t know how long I will be able to do it but for now, I’m enjoy the little moments.  I get to see him grow and reach every milestone.

“Sometimes the strength of motherhood is greater than natural laws.”
-Barbara Kingslover

Keep doing you. No matter what, do what’s best for you. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. And if your friends are making you feel bad about your parenting decisions,  get you some new supportive friends!

Image

What Would You Tell Your Younger Self?

 

Just live the little things.

This is what I would tell my younger self.

Growing up, I always looked forward to the next best thing.  The next phase of my life when I’d graduated from high school, went to college, got a new car, traveled,  got married and etc.. I would literally check mark when each thing on my “list” happened. I did that so much that I feel as if I started to miss out on just living in the moment.  I was constantly wishing and dreaming for the next “best thing”.

When we are always looking forward to “the next best thing”,  when will we ever truly live in the present?

Cherish those friends, because one day they will no longer be. Cherish your family, because one day your relationship might change.

If someone had told me ten years ago that my life would have turned out the way it is now, I probably would not have believe them; because then years ago, my life was a whole lot different.

In the past ten years, I have gotten married, had two children, moved away, gained weight, lost weight, made  friends, and lost some friends.  A lot more has happened, but this is just a snippet.

One cannot go back in the past to change things. Sure there are lots of things I wish I had handled differently that resulted in broken friendships/relationships, but all I can do is learn and move on with my life.

So many things happen in life that we simply cannot control. It is not about all of the horrible things that happen to us, but it is about how we handle the situations and what we learn from them.

 

Just live the little things. This is what I would tell my younger self.

Now that I’m older and wiser (at least I think I am…LOL), I am living the little things to the fullest!

 

Image

Living the American Dream: Is it possible to ever really live such a life?

What exactly is the American Dream and is it possible to ever really live such a life? 

“In the definition of the American Dream by James Truslow Adams in 1931, “life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement” regardless of social class or circumstances of birth.”

I am an immigrant to this country. I came here at such a young age with my family.  Not many people are as fortunate to move to the U.S from XYZ country for a better future. My parents have always sacrificed so much for us. When my parents married in D.R Congo—at the time known as Zaire, they spent their first year of marriage apart, living in two different continents. My mother stayed in Congo, while my father moved to France to try and prepare a stable future for them. This was a common thing for men to do back in those days. My dad has always been a hard worker and an overachiever. I get those characteristics from him. For most men, it would take many years until their spouse would be able to join them once they obtained a stable job.  It only took my dad one year. In that year, he was able to find a nice job although many people told him that the best job he’d be able to get as an immigrant would be cleaning toilets and such as.

He wouldn’t settle for that. So exactly a year later, my mother joined him in Paris where he later went to receive his Engineering degree and began to work as an electrician engineer. Fast forward many years later, they had kids and somehow ended up moving to the U.S. for ministry.

This is where I come in. My dad taught me the value of hard work. Not just me, but all of us—my siblings. Until this day, he continues to work hard and will soon start a Ph.D. program. Is he living the American Dream? You may say yes or no. It depends on how you want to define it. But he’s living a good life—only because he sacrificed so much so that his children would live the American Dream instead.

The other day, my sister mentioned that someone said to her, “Your sister (referring to me) is living the American Dream. She travels with her perfect little family; they have a nice house, nice jobs and everything. She is so lucky.”

Lucky?

What exactly do you mean by lucky? Do you think that luck brought me this far?

I don’t like that word very much.

I won’t say that I’m not living a nice life, because I am. And I am grateful for everything I have.  But I believe that the American Dream is what you make it to be. Almost anyone could be living the American Dream, but there is a price to pay and sacrifices that will have to be made along the way before getting to that destination. The problem with people is that they are not willing to go through what I went through to get to where I am. Years of studying. Failing. Passing. Borderline. Student Loans. Starvation. Being broke.  The list goes on…

Today, I’m a college professor and my husband in an engineer. We both have a Master’s degree. We have two sons. We own a house. We are members and are involved in a wonderful church. We travel as much as we can and enjoy discovering new places together. We are God-fearing. We are safe where we live.

For some, they may call this the American Dream, but for us, it is simply the result of our hard work. It is simply life. And it doesn’t end here. We still have many things on the list to accomplish. We were both immigrants with parents who worked their butts off to build a future for their children.  But there are so many people just like us—with similar backgrounds, who instead sit on their behind and do not take advantage of the opportunities right in front of them.

Envying is a waste of time, especially if it does not motivate you to go after your own dreams. Everything I have, it is because I worked hard for it. If you want to call that the American Dream, then so be it, but I simply call it life. I never wanted to settle for anything less. I knew what I wanted and I went after it. I just get so irritated and sick of hearing “Oh, you’re so lucky. Oh, you have the good life. Oh, you got it good.” As if everything was handed to me.

I share this quote with my students every semester, and it is my ultimate favorite one:

“I am who I am today because of the choices I made yesterday.”

— Eleanor Roosevelt

I want to end this entry by simply encouraging you all to go after what you yearn for. I could have simply been like many other immigrants who come to this country and settle with working at warehouses because they think “it is enough”. Now don’t get me wrong; I know that for some people, it is enough because they do not have any other choice. But I’m referring to those of my generation—those who have a choice but choose to work at warehouses vs. getting an education, establishing a career, or building businesses.  I’m speaking to those who have a choice but have forgotten that once, a very long time ago, they also had a dream to live the American Dream. But today, that dream has been killed because of many reasons.

It is never too late.

Anyone can live the “American Dream”.

It just depends on how you choose to define it.

Image

You Make Motherhood Look So Easy!

Is motherhood as scary as it sounds?

For the past couple of weeks, since giving birth to my second baby, I’ve gotten comments such as, “You Make Motherhood Look So Easy!”

My first thought was, “What the heck does that even mean?”

I received this comment from a mom and from a friend who doesn’t have children yet.

I was so confused, so I asked my husband if I should be offended or flattered.Then I decided to ask for clarification from one of the persons who told me this—the one without children yet.  She further explained that as someone without kids yet, I made motherhood look like it wasn’t so bad and as scary as it sounds. I made it look easy. Maybe she could do it too after all. You know? Be a young mom and have a life too.

Then it hit me. Many women simply do not have kids yet because they are afraid of:

1) losing their freedom. 2) losing themselves along the way. 3) not having a life.

Often times, without realizing it, moms do scare women who don’t have any kids yet. All they hear when we talk about our children is all the scary stories about breastfeeding and crying babies or how toddlers will make you want to pull your hair out.

It is true that motherhood is not easy, but at the same time, it is the most rewarding journey any women can experience.  You will cry, laugh, possibly get depressed, but most importantly, your heart will explode—with love you never knew you could feel.

Spaces (1)Do I make motherhood look easy? No. I simply share my daily life as a mother and a writer.

Why should I give up my dream and passion for writing because I’m a mother?

p1040819.jpg

The key is, don’t lose yourself because you had a baby. Instead, let motherhood bring out the best in you and bring out new interests you never even knew existed.

For example, before motherhood, I did write, but it was mostly fiction. But now that I am a mother, I have developed new interests and topics in writing, and more opportunities within the writing realm has presented itself that I didn’t have before I became a mother. I made the decision to not use my children or motherhood as an excuse for not following my dream. I want to be an example for my children so that when they grow up, they too will follow their dreams and live a life with passion. No matter what. Is it easy? Absolutely not!

Some days I don’t write. Actually, not some, but more like several days go by without me even typing a single word. And that’s life—that’s motherhood.

So whatever field you’re in, don’t let motherhood scare you from being successful. If it’s painting, paint on. If it’s music, sing on. If it’s writing, write on.

Continue to grow as an artist and let the journey of motherhood be your inspiration. Embrace motherhood and its challenges and allow them to strengthen you, mamas!

 

 

Image

Love Your Home

“There is divine purpose in caring for our homes and wanting them to be places of loveliness and peace. Our homes won’t ever be perfect, but we certainly can enjoy the process of creating beauty, and we can appreciate the lessons we learn along the way.” –The Inspired Room.

Love your home. Appreciate what you have. And make it yours.

“Home is a reflection of ourselves. If we always need bigger, larger, more,  perhaps we  have lost sight of what really creates the good life or happy home.”

It’s so easy to get caught up in the game of comparison. In a culture where people always want more and bigger, don’t fall into the trap of not being content with what you have.

There is someone out there who would love to have your home, McMansion or not–love the home you have; not the home you have not.

Image

Nothing is Random

Do you ever wonder why certain things happen? I know I do. Things we can and cannot control happen. I believe that there is no randomness in your life. Live by knowing that nothing is random.

wpid-img_20150422_090111.jpg

When you worry so much about the future, you are avoiding the present. Don’t half live today’s precious moments because the future is blinding your sight. Live by knowing that nothing in your life is random.

Live with the determination to not make time for worrying about things you simply cannot do anything about.

Image

Why Are People Afraid of Change?

Some changes look negative on the surface but you will soon realize that space is being created in your life for something new to emerge.

― Eckhart Tolle

Why are people afraid of change?Change isn’t necessarily bad. As we go through our life journey, change is something that we will encounter. Change is good.

Change, however, can be unconformable. When we are so used to being a certain way or having certain people in our lives, change can be difficult to embrace. But as long as the change is for the better, don’t be afraid to embrace it.

“Things change. And friends leave. Life doesn’t stop for anybody.”

If things didn’t change in our lives, it’ll be hard to move forward.You can’t possibly remain the same or in the same place forever.

Change because you have to. Change because you need to.