20/20 Vision – My Perspective

Vision. What comes to my mind when I hear the word vision is sight. Sight in different layers past, present, and future. We all know that one person who can visualize their dreams and actually watch them come true. That is not the case for many of us who make decisions based on what we see in the natural. At the beginning of this year 2020 the word I received was Vision. This did not make any sense whatsoever as I thought I had my year figured out and knew what I planned to do in the 12 months ahead. Two months in and everything is topsy-turvy and feels like the start of a very confusing nightmare.

As we all know, the months up until now have not gone exactly as planned and looking back on these 9 and a half months, my vision has completely changed. I feel like I was seeing black and white and now I can see in color. Things do not always make sense but in the different aspects of my personal life, the lens has definitely been adjusted and is much clearer than before. For many of us the year 2020 will mean many things but the COVID-19 pandemic will definitely be a defining period in time with the lives that have been impacted in so many different ways. Personally, I was impacted in different ways and this starts to put a strain on you mentally and physically. I kept going back to my word for the year Vision and I asked God what exactly He wanted me to see in all of this. Nothing seemed to make sense and I was more confused than I was when the year started.

Source: Google Images

So, I was tempted to focus on the point I was at and everything that I had lost and I must say I did dwell on it for a while but that did not do me any good. My other option was a shift of focus, I purposed to grow in any way I could and that started with enrolling in different free online classes, listening to podcasts, reading books, joining a ladies’ group, deepening my existing friendships, and getting to know myself more. In doing these things and many more I saw growth, initially it was almost unnoticeable but as time goes by, my sight is clearing and I am able to see from a different point of view. This took conscious effort which is not always easy as it does not make sense but it is possible. One day at a time. One step in front of the other. You will eventually get there and when you do, you can possibly help others out as they walk on a road you have been through before.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

We can make a difference in each other’s lives and spread some hope and joy to people we come across with our words, actions, and in the choices we make. Its been an honor having you walk with me on part of my 2020 journey and I hope this does inspire, encourage and make a difference to your lives. Love you all. Until next time

~xo~

Kate

My Ugandan Story: Food I miss from Uganda

On this week’s blog I am collaborating with a good friend of mine Racheal Kizza and writing about the food I miss from Uganda having been away for some years now. The mind is a powerful tool that is able to store thoughts and events from the past and at the least expected time those thoughts will pop up making you nostalgic. The memories I have come in different seasons and different times of the year ranging from when I miss birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, and other celebrations.

When you least expect it, the memories will come. Embrace them.

Kate

When I first moved to the US, I did not think that much about the Ugandan cuisine as I was busy trying out all the different foods around and it is only after a while that I really started to miss the food. I had to constantly catch myself as I kept making comparisons about the food here and the one in Uganda. I am usually open to trying out new food and I love to experiment on foods like crocodile meat and crab legs, but even with all of that I still miss the familiarity of the Ugandan food I grew up to know and love.

In this blog I will focus on the different Ugandan foods that I miss at the moment.

1. Milk Tea a.k.a chai wa mata

Anyone who knows me, knows I love milk tea and milk in general. My first time in the US, I had to keep explaining to people what milk tea is as majority of the people will drink their milk straight out of the refrigerator cold or in coffee or as hot chocolate. Others would offer me black tea with milk on the side to make my milk tea. This was a totally different way that I stopped drinking milk when offered and now for the most part, I make my own spicy milk tea from home. I could not contain my joy when I discovered chai masala in Indian restaurants. It is milk tea spiced with all the right spices and brings back those memories I miss so much.

Spiced milk tea
Source: Google Images

2. Street Food

The Ugandan street food is extremely diverse from cassava chips to barbeque. It is a common sight to see the food vendors lined up by the main road selling their delicacies. It is important to inquire and get the best vendor who makes the most delicious food. Usually you would notice the long lines of people waiting to be served the hot delicious food. In particular I want to highlight the famous rolex which are fried eggs rolled in a pastry known as chapatti. This food serves all classes of people and is a great way for the vendors to make a living.

Ugandan rolex
Source: Google Images

3. Pork

Pork is special to me and the Ugandan pork is extra special. I miss the lusaniya pork, which is pork and other sides like avocado, cassava, greens etc set out on a large tray for a group of people to eat. This is a great way to bond with friends over food and all the food is prepared really well. The places that prepare the best pork are the local pork joints as they are popularly known, and they serve the pork on these lusaniyas or also as take out.

Lusaniya pork with steamed cassava and vegetables
Source: Google Images

4. Sim-sim Balls

If you have not already guessed, sim-sim balls are balls made out of sesame seeds and sugar. They are a delicacy and are usually eaten as a snack in the different parts of Uganda. They are a healthy and quick and easy snack that all ages of people can snack on at any time of the day.

Sim-sim balls
Source: Google Images

5. Passion fruit juice a.k.a katunda juice.

Passion fruit is a delicious fruit that is grown in different countries from Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina to Ecuador, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, India, etc. Passion fruits are in plenty in Uganda for most part of the year and it makes one of the most delicious types of juice that I have tasted. It is common to find restaurants and homes serving this juice on a hot day. This juice can be mixed in a cocktail of juices or drank on its own.

In as much as I miss the food and the events around food, one thing I know is food is better with community and community is wherever you are. Food is a great way to socialize and bond with different people around us. I will use this time to take every opportunity to learn about the different foods in different areas that I visit and make new memories that will carry me on. Share with me in the comments below which foods you enjoy and the ones you miss the most from your past.

Thanks for taking the time to read. Love you all and until next time.

~xo~

Kate

Self-Care for Health

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Welcome back and a happy mid week to all of you. For many of us a large part of 2020 has been so stressful, and we are trying to figure out different ways to get through the days, weeks, and months. The Covid-19 pandemic has created a new norm for us all and many of us are still trying to figure out the working from home, zoom classes for people in school and the whole mask situation. With this has come increased levels of stress, anxiety, and general feeling of overwhelm. It is very important to stay positive and motivated in this season despite what is going on around us. Self-care does it for me and today I share with you my list of tried and true ways of self-care that are working for me in this season. This helps me so I can care for myself in the best way possible and in turn help and care for the people close to me.

  • Spiritual

This has greatly helped ease my mind and keep me in the right frame. Time alone meditating on the promises in the word of God works for me. This changes my perspective and removes my eyes off the turmoil in the world and onto what the Lord is saying. Through this I must say my faith has grown and my hope has been restored and renewed. Other ways I use spiritual to self-care are journaling, connecting with nature, prayer, and bible study with my small group.

  • Physical

Physical release is very important now more than ever with us cooped up in our spaces. One thing that has worked for me and continues to work for me is getting enough rest. When I talk about rest, I do not mean only sleeping. Rest as a whole in my mind, my body and all round is a very essential element of self-care. Having periodic rests from social media helps me rest mentally. This is not easy, but the benefits are worth it. Eating good healthy food, hiking, walking, running, working out, stretching etc. are all different ways that you can use to self-care physically.

Image by Catherine Wanzala

  • Emotional

This one is another big one for me because many times I may not realize I am neglecting my emotional and mental health until I see the effects on my physical body. I have taken a few classes during this season on emotional awareness, emotional maturity, and maintaining good mental health. This focus is not something we gravitate to and I have had to make a conscious effort to self-care in this area. Dealing with emotions like unforgiveness, bitterness, anger, etc. and replacing them with positive emotions help boost your emotional health. I look for ways to manage my stress levels, so I am not overwhelmed by everything and I protect and take care of my mental space and refuse to accept unnecessary stressors.

“Self care means giving yourself permission to pause.” Cecilia Tran

  • Social

Under the social ways to self-care, my highlight is my support system. Words fail me when I think of all the ways my support system has helped keep me sane and strong in my weakest moments. It is important to have the right support system who have your best interests at heart and lift you up when you need the support. Setting healthy boundaries with yourself and with people around you is another big way to self-care. This helps set basic guidelines on how you want to be treated and that the relationships around you are respectful and supportive. Other ways I self-care under social is watching inspiring and positive social media, good movies, connecting and communicating with family and friends.

  • Miscellaneous

The ways to self-care are endless and here are bonus ways that I self-care. Reading a good book, listening to music, dancing, having a home spa time, using essential oils, lighting a candle while I soak in the tub etc.

At the end of the day, self-care comes down to different ways that you care for yourself. In the beginning it might not come easy but when you do find what works for you, go ahead, and take good care of you. Never forget you are important, you matter, and there is only one you out here. What are some of the ways you like to self-care? Share with me different ways you are caring for yourself in this season. I love you all and until next time.

~xo~

Kate

Gratitude: Counting My Blessings

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Gratitude simply means being thankful. Doing this always changes my perspective and helps align my thinking to help keep me in check every time I am tempted to complain about what is not going right. It is important to me to pause and count my blessings. This is not always easy especially when life is doing a number on me, but I purpose to pause and be grateful. This week I want to take some time and talk about the things I am grateful for in this season.

1. God

My faith is very important to me and my salvation journey has a deep meaning to me. God has been a strong anchor in my life, and I have seen countless God moments. I cannot talk about my life without mentioning the hand of God being ever present. God has guided and saved me from so much that I usually do not realize in the moment, but looking back all I see is his constant presence in my life and for that I am grateful.

2. Life

I am grateful for life and the path that I am on right now. It is so easy to grumble about what is not going right in our lives in the moment that we forget all the blessings that life has to offer. No matter where you find yourself right now, you can love your life because it is precious and unique and there is only one you in the whole wide world. This year many people have lost their lives and I am fortunate to be alive and so I purpose to make the most of the life that God has given me. Do not forget to live this life ever present.

Thankful-Quotes-Good
Image from Parade.com

3. Family

We have all heard the saying we do not choose family. I believe we are placed in the families we come from for a particular purpose. Different things in our families annoy us and looking from the inside always gives us a vantage point on the inner workings of our families which in some ways biases us. There is family strife that lasts generations and I am aware of toxic families. Family bonds just like friendship can be nurtured in order to grow and flourish. Personally, looking at my family, I see people who give life all that they can in the best way they know how to. They are strong and courageous and do their best. It is never easy for they are not perfect but human. That to me takes strength and I applaud it.

4. My Small Group

I am grateful for a small group of ladies that I am part of. Words cannot express the impact that they have had on my life in this season. The timely words shared, the prayers said for one another and the bond that has been created over the weeks and months of meeting. This has shown me the importance of being part of a small group, where I can belong and grow my faith. This group offers direction, structure and accountability and it was no coincidence that God brought our lives together.

Canva
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5. Friends

I do not even know where to start with the friends that God has given me. My prayer is that I can give back to them what they have given to me. These friends have stood by me in all seasons of my life in different ways and have had different impact in my life and on my journey. They have encouraged me, prayed with me, served as accountability partners, and have helped strengthen my faith and walk with God and for that I am forever grateful.

6. Mentoring Group

I have been part of a mentoring group of ladies for the past four years. This group was formed after we took part in a mentoring program which is the foundation of the woman that I am today. I have walked with many of the ladies in this group personally and strong bonds of friendship have been formed. I have been challenged, stretched, and grown in so many ways that I have to give others part of what I have been given.

Thank you so much for passing by. Share with me what you are grateful for in this season. Until next time.

~xo~

Kate

Melanin—not curse!

I could not have said this any better. Beautiful!!

Lizzie's Journal

I’m in a fight with myself
One I lose everyday
This fight, this war,
This dilemma I am in
Really doesn’t make sense…
To me or anybody else
But I have it anyway

Vaguely, as I stare in the mirror
There stands my reflection
Staring right back at me
Giving me that look,
The same blank, expressionless look I’m carrying
She’s thinking too…
Brooding over the same questions that trouble my soul

Aloud, I ask…
Why do people hate others…
For things they have no control over?
Her lips move in sync each time I open mine
Why must people torment others…
About things for which they had no choice?
Like the colour of their skin
Or the shape of their nose
Or the way their mouths twist in laughter even?

I ask her…
How many creams must I buy?
How many pills do I swallow?
The lighter the better?

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Taking Stock 2

august
Source: Google Images

Welcome back to my blog, I want to thank you all for taking your time to read as you journey with me in the month of August. As August comes to an end, it is a reminder of the changing of seasons from Summer to Fall. The transition of seasons is always exciting, and I am fully expectant to what the next season holds. Enjoy.

Making: Time to do the things I have always wanted to do from road trips, picnics, hiking etc. I must say by doing that, this month was full of lots of adventure with family and friends.

Eating: Mexican food. Trying out the different Mexican foods from different restaurants and food trucks has made me appreciate global food even more.

Food
Source: Catherine Wanzala

Drinking: Juice made by myself or by a brand called Bolthouse that I recently discovered at the store. Their products are 100% fruit juice and I love the consistency and taste.

Reading: A book every week. This is a great habit that a group of ladies I am part of have been doing for the past weeks. The book choices have been amazing and mind opening. I find myself being stretched and learning so many different concepts.

Wanting: To do more of the things on my bucket list like travel, be more involved in the community, stretching myself in my gifts and skills. One thing this year has taught me, is to use all the time before me wisely and live my life to the fullest the best way I can.

Attended: The Queenology 2.0 Global Cyber conference by Bishop R C Blakes Jr at the end of July. This conference that was attended by over 1000 women from over 20 different countries was phenomenal and mind blowing. It gave me a better perspective of myself as a woman and being able to harness my strengths and walk boldly into my purpose.

Fondest Memory: Boat cruise with my sisters. It was amazing and a time to relax and enjoy our time together outdoors. This was a birthday celebration for our friend Tina who became part of our family. We had breakfast together and a 2-hour boat cruise on a fancy boat.

Creating: Memories with family and friends through the different activities and moments with one another.

Collage
Photos by Catherine Wanzala

Excited: About the autumn season also known as Fall. This is my best season in the whole year as it symbolizes so much to me and has the prettiest of colors on the trees. This is also the time I celebrate my birthday which I am excited about this year.

Appreciated: The different ways I have been able to grow and stretch myself through different opportunities from volunteering, online classes, online programs, meeting new people. This would not have been possible if it were not for my network of people and for that I am grateful.

Read: Let your life speak by Parker J Palmer, The 7 Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra, The Dip by Seth Godin.

Wearing: Lounge wear that still looks and feels good and I am able to stay in it comfortably the whole day. With the new normal of working and school from home, lounge wear is the go-to clothing for me this season.

Loving: Different types of hats at the moment from fedoras, baseball caps, berets I am all in. It is my belief that the way an outfit is accessorized makes a whole lot of a difference.

Smelling: Freshly mowed grass. I enjoy the smell of freshly mowed grass and each time I step out of home someone somewhere always seems to be mowing their lawn. So, I am getting plenty of that this season.

Missing: My niece and nephew. These kids just light up my day and say the sweetest and funniest things. Also, for some odd reason, I am missing the early morning commute to school/work.

Thank you for taking this journey through August with me. Share with me the highlights of your August and what you are looking forward to in the coming season. See you in the next blog.

~xo~

 

 

Taking Stock 1

taking-stock
Photo Credit: Burgaw UMC

Taking stock would be simply defined as to carefully think about something in order to make a decision about what to do next. I have been reading and been inspired by Racheal Kizza’s writing for a long while now and taking stock is something she has done consistently. You can check out her writing here. This month I have decided to start blogging about my taking stock. I personally feel this helps me pause and think about what exactly it is that I am doing.

Since this is my first taking stock, I will keep it short and sweet.

Making: The most of my time with myself during this pandemic.

Eating: Cassava and yams that I found in an Asian store. Closest thing to Ugandan food that has similar taste.

Drinking: Cold water and various herbal teas.

Reading: Don’t Settle for Safe by Sarah Jakes Roberts and Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Wanting: To stop limiting myself and do more things that I enjoy.

Playing: Upbeat music that I can dance to. Helps me relax and enjoy myself.

Wasting: No time with people with negative and bad energy.

Creating: Time for myself

Wishing: For a vacation to a beautiful island

Listening: To voices in the African American Leadership forum

Hoping: To be done with this quarantine and go back to life as we know it.

Marveling: At the power of our individual stories

Smelling: Freshly baked banana bread. (PS: My sister loves baking)

Wearing: Cute dresses and shorts that make me feel good even if I am home all day

Knowing: My strength and how to harness it for the benefit of myself and the people around me.

Bookmarking: Powerful quotes from books, sermons, and podcasts.

Feeling: At peace.

I would encourage you all to take time for self reflection. I like to call it the Pause and Reflect moments.

See you in the next blog

Pit Series #3: Strength Through the Pit

“You never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice.”

 Bob Marley

As life would have it, while I was writing this Pit Series, I went through my own share of a pit experience and I had to take a break. Needless to say, I have learnt a lot through this experience and will share the highlights of the journey in regard to today’s topic. This week I will focus on the strength that is formed around the pit situation.

Word art strength
Wordart.com

Strength comes from the word strong and strong is defined as the “ability to withstand great force or pressure.” We all have our unique individual strengths and through that we learn to recognize and celebrate each person’s individual strength. Strength comes in different forms, from just being able to wake up and show up, to speaking up about what is wrong. A person may talk about something or write about it and all of that takes a lot of courage and strength. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” We recognize we are weak in that moment, and we are not able to do it on our own and then trust the process with God and where He will lead us.

leafcutter-ants-carrying-leaves-costa-ingo-arndt
Google Images

The strength of an ant is something I have always admired. Though it looks so tiny and weak, an ant is able to carry up to 5,000 times its own body weight. Watching ants in the dirt going about their business teaches me many things. Even if you decide to block the path the ants are taking, they will either go around that obstacle or over it. They are resilient, work in teams, and despite their size, will not stop going until they get to their destination.

As we go through hard times, we feel helpless and weak just like how we would imagine ants would be, but on the inside of each one of us is a strength that we may not know exists until using it is the only option. While in these situations, though you may feel helpless and it may look like there is no progress being made, do not give up but keep going. These past months as I went through my own pit journey, I came to the full understanding that this experience was not only for me but for people that God was leading my way. Then as I began to share and open up with several individuals who were my support system, I was then able to hear their stories of resilience in the face of fear and challenges.

Canva - Man Holding Exercise Rope
Photo by The Lazy Artist Gallery

In addition to all of this, during this experience I realized that no matter how many times you have experienced pain, you never get used to it. There is need to heal as you get through the process and this takes time. You may be walking through the experience wounded for the most part, but with time those wounds will become scars that will be a reminder of your strength and resilience.

Finally, I never thought I would be able to stand one day and echo the words of Joseph in Genesis 50:20, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Coming to the realization that there is a purpose in my pain takes courage and strength and being able to hear other people’s stories and get encouragement to keep going despite everything is a strength in itself.

Thank you for sticking around as I conclude the Pit Series with this week’s article. For you who might be reading this for the first time, I would encourage you to take time and read both Part 1 and Part 2 of this series.

 

Pit Series #2: Life Beyond the Pit

This is part 2 of the Pit Series and if you have not been able to read the first one, you can find it here. This week we shift our focus to life beyond the pit. What does life look like after the pit? Many times, after we are out of the pit, we find ourselves living in that moment as we keep dwelling on that particular experience. This hinders growth and keeps us stuck in the past which is not a place we would like to be in. I want to share with you three things that have helped me navigate life outside of the pit and put me on the path of my journey.

Helping others who are in a similar or worse pit experience is the first thing that helps me all the time. This might seem crazy because our natural response is to feel like we need a break and would love to throw a pity party. The answer here is to be on the lookout for others in situations you have been in. This helps shift your own focus off your pain and experience and channel your energy in helping other people. Life does not always work out the way we expect it to and many times we find that the same people that hurt us might be the same people that we are being called to help. This requires grace and maturity to be the better person and do the right thing, and not right as culture would say but the noble thing.

rearview
Source: Google Images

The second area I focus on is my vision. What is my intended vision of what I desire to accomplish? Even with setbacks, it helps to know that I need to put my focus on the big picture. This helps drive my focus off my problems and the past, and see and appreciate what is in front of me in the moment. This reminds me of an analogy of a car, “the windshield is bigger than the rear view mirror because where you are headed is more important than what is behind you.” You can glance back once in a while for learning experiences but your whole focus should not be on looking back because you just might miss all the beauty of what is in front of you.

gratitude
Photo by Carl Attard

Third and finally is gratitude. When I am ready to complain and compare how other people’s lives are looking better than mine, I am taken back to square one. Instead, I decide to choose gratitude. Gratitude comes even in our attitude. Many times, our salty attitude and complains at every chance we get, do not do anyone any good and these are things we need to get rid of and leave in the pit. We step out with gratitude for the lessons and growth of the pit experience and the people that God brought into our lives to help us in that particular season. When we are ungrateful, we become bitter and when we are bitter, we are hindered from experiencing all the blessings that are before us. It is never easy, and this is a process to discover that all that matters is showing up and trying the best way we know how.

Hope you enjoyed reading this week’s article. I will see you next week with Part 3. Do not forget to let me know what ways you have been able to live your life to the fullest beyond the pit

Pit Series #1: Perspective in the Pit

At one point or the other, we have found ourselves in a pit. A pit is defined as a large hole in the ground and being stuck in a pit would just mean being in a situation or time and place in our lives where we literally feel stuck at the bottom. I would say pits come in different shapes, sizes, and in different seasons.

Personally, I have had many pit experiences and it has been a real struggle. During my post graduate program, I had planned out how everything would go. I was content and knew this was the right direction my life would be taking; everything was going as planned until I fell into a pit of sickness. This shook me to the core as my whole life was before me, the things that I had planned out all of a sudden did not seem that important and basic functions of life were now what mattered the most. I had two choices: despair or hope. I picked the latter even as my plans had to change. This was an uphill task and I must say I would have never accomplished it on my own. Through hope I was able to receive help from friends, family, and my church community in order to make it through.

Hole in the ground
Photo by Skitterphoto

When we find ourselves in a pit, where is our focus? It is so easy to lose focus and fix our attention on something irrelevant which would not help in the situation that we are in. First of all, our focus should be on the why. Why am I in this pit? This helps us gain perspective of the reason for being in a particular position. Many times, it will not make sense and you will have no answers, but it is important to keep your focus and go into survival mode. When an animal is trapped in a pit, it will use all its strength and wit to find any way to get out. It will make sounds, move, use its strength, and any other way to get out. But question is, why do we as human beings for the most part, choose to give up and not try to think of anything else outside of the pit we might be in at the moment?

moving MLK
Google Images

True, you might have gotten into the pit due to no fault of yours or you might have been doing all the right things but still find yourself in a pit situation. The key is to look up. The only way out of a pit is up. You have to look up and force yourself to keep moving. Moving might be mentally, physically, or any other means and it may require help from people around us, our faith, or different avenues. DO NOT STOP MOVING!!

Secondly, we need to focus on the how. How are we going to get out and what resources are before us to help get us out of the pit. Our attitude is very important in this situation. In the story of Joseph in Genesis 37, the same brothers that threw him into the pit came back to get him out of the pit only to sell him into slavery. That is why it is important to be aware of what or who is around us because not everyone in your corner is for you. Have the right attitude, be positive, and believe that this pit season will only last a while.

I hope this has encouraged you to look at the pit in a different light. Let me know in the comments what ways have helped you get through your pit moments.