USA: Love in the Rubble of Life

USA: Love in the Rubble of Life

February 18, 2021

Yesterday, February 17, 2021, our daughter Sophia and son Wesley (& their grandpa) planned a surprise date for my husband Don and me. I left at around 10 am to go clean an office. On my way, I made a couple of stops and did a prayer recording for TikTok. It took a little more time than intended. I got to the office, cleaned it, it took the expected 3 hours, after which I waited for Don to get off the phone with a patient (took 10 minutes), and I went to the store. It hadn’t happened in a while, but I thought about Wesley’s heart and how miraculous it was that he didn’t have to go through a second surgery 3 days after his first one, (as the patch they made for him had opened, but miraculously closed). What would life be like, if he had? I don’t want to know. 

I went to Trader Joe’s; which is unusual as it’s a bit farther away from us than other grocery shops. As soon as I got in, I was met with an abundance of flowers. I remembered how Wesley brings me flowers from the backyard and thought to get him and Sophia some flowers. I got her tulips and I got him sunflowers. I got fruits, juices, sparkling water & cherry juice, some frozen meals, and “homeschool” snacks & desserts. I got home shortly before 5 pm. Don got off at 5 pm. 

I was met at the door by Wesley, dressed in a shark T-shirt and a proper tuxedo! He greeted me with “Hello, mother, and welcome to the Johnson Cafe” 

💗 Complete heart melt.

Sophia was dressed in a beautiful cream gown. Grandpa was just chillin’ like he hadn’t been involved 😂

They forbade me to look in the dining room and asked me to go put on a dress. I did so, and also undid my hair which I happened to have braided in the morning, in anticipation of the cleaning job I had. The kids and Grandpa started getting the groceries. They asked me to put some of them away, but I couldn’t look at the table in the dining room, still.  While I changed, though, they got out the fruit I had just purchased and set out the sparkling water and cherry juice (I saw this later).

A short while after I was done, Don came back from work. They told him to go get dressed too. 

Meanwhile grandpa put out the flowers I had just gotten. 

Then when we both were allowed to come out, we saw how they had set up the table with plates and everything – candles too! Sophia said, “This is your Valentine’s date because I was sick on Valentine’s and you couldn’t go on your date.” 

💗 Another complete heart melt! 

We were advised to self-serve because of COVID compliance 😂 

It was super sweet and an occasion full of love; even more than Valentine’s Day could have ever offered. 

I kept feeling amazed about how it all worked out. Don & I had zero ideas of their plan. Outside of a new orchid tradition, Don started last year, we usually get flowers around birthdays or some such occasions. We otherwise get plants that can grow. So the fact that I bought the kids these flowers, on the day they were doing all this for us, was just beyond serendipitous! It was like a thank you to them from the universe itself! 

My hair, my timing, Don’s timing, the groceries – everything was serendipitous and perfect! Even me fitting in the dress I picked after the holidays is amazing! 😂 

All this happened at a time when one of my closest friends and her co-denizens are stuck without power, in freezing cold Texas, with at least one politician telling them to go fend for themselves. At a time when death tolls are rising in Tanzania because of a renewed wave of Covid-19. At a time when many other saddening & maddening things are happening around the world. 

In the midst of it all, though, I would be remised if I didn’t mention this beautiful occasion. No matter how long we’ve been home as stay-home-moms (or dads) before the pandemic – homeschooling & virtual schooling and staying at home, going in circles or keeping busy with work and electronic devices, and books, and and and – it gets so exhausting sometimes and I want an open field to run on, where somehow none of our responsibilities follow me there. Where I can run and lay in the grass and look at the pretty blue sky and fluffy clouds shielding me from the sun here & there. 

The beauty in what happened yesterday, in my view, is in our children surprising us, in Wesley being here with his miracle heart, in them having a grandpa and the kind of grandpa who would take the time to help them organize it all, in them putting on clothing they don’t really like to wear that often, in all the details I mentioned above about the flowers and fruits and the timing and my hair – It was like that open field with the pretty sky and fluffy clouds. 
I know I am not the only person going through this feeling. I imagine the mercies shown to our fellow humans living in war zones everywhere, or a brief moment of love my brothers & sisters in Libya might feel in the midst of the modern-day human enslavement and trafficking.

I imagine all of us get a split second of Love that gives us just enough hope to keep pushing forward, until, hopefully, the next split second.

So, in short, here is a shout out to the universe, and to the Creator, for allowing small (and huge) mercies, for sparking laughter and acts of love in the middle of chaos, and for allowing us to see it all. 

ThinkSayBe

I am a mom amongst some other titles life has fortunately given me. I love photography & the reward of someone being really happy about a photo I took of her/him. I work, I study, I try to pay attention to life. I like writing. I don't understand many things...especially why humans treat each other & other living & inanimate things so vilely sometimes. I like to be an idealist, but when most fails, I do my best to not be a pessimist: Life itself is entirely too beautiful, amazing & inspiring to forget that it is!

More Posts

Follow Me:
Twitter

WORLD VOICE: “Listen,” Said the Heart, “The Trees are Talking”

WORLD VOICE: “Listen,” Said the Heart, “The Trees are Talking”

Sometimes, when the breeze passes through the trees, I ask my children if they hear the wind and the leaves make music and if they see them dancing. Have you ever heard this music? Have you ever seen this dance? I hope you have. It’s quite beautiful. This past July I went to India for a few days. My first stop was in Hyderabad; specifically an ashram called Kanha Shanti Vanam (Kanha). I had seen photographs of the place, and the plant life looked beautiful, but you know… it looked just as beautiful as I have seen and felt plant life thus far. I was not at all prepared for what I would experience in Kanha, but I heard my heart and it said: “Listen. The trees are talking”.

It was around 11 pm when I arrived at the dormitories in Kanha. There was a very light drizzle and the grounds were quiet… sort of still and calm. I was shown to a dorm where I quickly set my things down on a bunk bed, took a shower, brushed my teeth & went to sleep to be ready for morning Satsangh (a type of group meditation). The next morning, as I was walking to get chai from the cafeteria, I heard that familiar song made by the breeze and leaves. I looked at all the trees lining up the roads, and they were gently moving with the wind. Monsoon season was upon us, but we only had a light drizzle that would just begin and end now and again, and a consistent cool breeze in the 80(F) degree weather.

It’s interesting writing about this now, after going through the experience, because I have had time to contemplate on it and understand my feelings. A month later, it still is hard to put it all into words.

See, in Kanha there are so many things going on. There are volunteers who live there, those of us who visit and volunteer, construction workers who sometimes work through the night, there are people taking care of plant nurseries, people planting trees, there is a school for children, seminars, workshops, apartments and houses being built, ponds being created, meditation halls being constructed. However, the one thing I noticed as I walked around is that plant life seems to be the priority in Kanha. Not to devalue other priorities, but I don’t know how else to say it. Plants seemed to be valued so highly that it looked like construction was planned around them. And while walking on the tree-lined streets, I could not help but feel like the trees were not only dancing and singing with the wind, but like they were actually talking.

Let me back up just a tad. Kanha is a place in Hyderabad. It is the Headquarters of the Heartfulness Institute. In 2015 this land was barren. There was nothing there. To experience it today, it’s just completely amazing! I mean, there are all sorts of trees, from various places of the world! The majority of the food eaten at Kanha is grown on property. The pictures don’t do this place any justice, and the feeling that you get while there, is one that stays with you and makes the outside world feel…different.

Let me say, I didn’t hear the trees say anything in particular. It was like how you know that the Earth is a living thing, right? That, so is the grass and the flowers we see, and the bushes and trees we see. We know they are alive. I have never felt them as alive as I did in Kanha; nor as respected. It felt like the plants’ level of spirituality was higher than of the humans walking among them.

Now being back in the outside world, there is both a feeling of longing for that experience, as well as a reminder to respect and value plant life in our own back yard (so to speak). The heart keeps talking, trying to communicate and help us lead a beautiful life with experiences currently beyond our comprehension. All we need to do is listen. The more we listen, the clearer the heart is heard, and the voice grows louder. This is something I have learned from practicing Heartfulness meditation. As I am finishing up this article, it seems apparent that what I felt at Kanha with the plant life there was an expression of love.

The way that nature is incorporated in the planning of the development of the land in Kanha, makes total sense. It’s something that is doable and would be functional in other places too; cities and rural areas alike.

Although the language of the trees felt like one I hadn’t heard before, the feeling I got from it is that they definitely are our ally; if we would just listen.

ThinkSayBe

I am a mom amongst some other titles life has fortunately given me. I love photography & the reward of someone being really happy about a photo I took of her/him. I work, I study, I try to pay attention to life. I like writing. I don't understand many things...especially why humans treat each other & other living & inanimate things so vilely sometimes. I like to be an idealist, but when most fails, I do my best to not be a pessimist: Life itself is entirely too beautiful, amazing & inspiring to forget that it is!

More Posts

Follow Me:
Twitter

Interviewing Nancy Sumari, #WorldMom, Miss World Africa, Miss Tanzania (2005)

Interviewing Nancy Sumari, #WorldMom, Miss World Africa, Miss Tanzania (2005)

Happy Women’s Month!

You may have read some of this phenomenal woman’s posts right here on World Moms Network. One of our own contributors, Nancy Sumari, has agreed to be interviewed for my Phenomenal Women Series, and it comes right on time as we keep celebrating Women’s History Month and women’s excellence (something, I believe, we should do every month)

#WorldMom, Nancy Sumari

#WorldMom, Nancy Sumari

Interview:

Sophia Neghesti-Johnson: So, Nancy, tell us a little bit about your self. Where are you from, do you have any siblings, and anything else you might want to add about your foundation’s details; so to speak.

Nancy Sumari: I come from a beautiful family of Arusha, Tanzania; one of the most beautiful cities of the world. I have 5 siblings – two boys and three girls. We grew up on a small farm house in Mererani, the world’s only known source of Tanzanite gem! It was filled with adventure, animals, and mischief and I loved it! My parents are both hard working middle class folks. My dad is a geologist naturally, coming from Mererani, while my mom loves to cook and runs her own catering business.

S: That sounds like a fun childhood! I know, you wear a few hats, and it seems there is much more to you than meets the eye. What are your favorite hats and why? (I’m referring to business, modeling, etc)

N: Hahaha I was about to say Berets… hahahahaha! (*I love Nancy’s sense of humor!*) I enjoy my family a lot, I am highly fueled by the work we do through our family foundation that promotes literature and technology through children and youth, I enjoy teaching, very much, and more importantly working with the dynamic team of content creators at Bongo5. As you can tell I enjoy service to children and youth because I also have been afforded chances and opportunities that have allowed me the chance to be the best of who I can be. I believe paying it forward is standard procedure for me and I enjoy it so much.

S: You were Miss Tanzania in 2005. How was it to be in such a pageant that year, in Tanzania? Was it much different than late 90s, much different from now?

Nancy Sumari, Miss World Africa, Miss Tanzania, 2005

Nancy Sumari, Miss World Africa, Miss Tanzania, 2005

N: I think it’s a lot different now because pageants are more frowned upon and viewed more as working against the women empowerment movement. In the 90s I think it had more flare and glam and overtime, especially here in TZ (Tanzania), it has not changed with the times and therefore lost a lot of momentum. We however have fresh leadership now and hope that with that we will get a fresh approach to pageantry altogether.

S: What has been your view of the business world, both locally and globally, as a woman and/or an African woman?

N: I try to focus on excellence and what I bring to the table in terms of my business-offering and my work ethics. Of course challenges are ever present in terms of stereotypes against women, challenges of equality and equal terms of pay etc. but I strongly trust and believe in excellence propelling one beyond the walls that man creates. I therefore focus on giving excellence and allowing that to fly open all doors of opportunity.

S: That is definitely a progressive way of thinking! A few years ago you published a children’s book, Nyota Yako, which was such a pleasure to read and own. What inspired you to write this book in particular?

N: I was uncomfortable to not have enough local content tailored to children on bookshelves in Tanzania. We didn’t have enough stories that honored our history and allowed these stories of our culture, color, vibrancy and awesomeness be told to children. I felt it was time to reach out to young girls and boys with stories of their mothers, grandmothers, aunts and women they know of, (or don’t know of,) but are from their communities, to awaken and inspire, and challenge them to rise above and reach their highest potential.

S: Now, you and your husband are both quite active in the community in one way or another. How do you balance marriage, parenthood, the many other responsibilities, and working together in the community?

Nancy Sumari's community, where she works for children's education

Nancy Sumari’s community, where she works for children’s education

N: I think we treat it as a way that we continue to bond and spend time together doing things that we are passionate about and drive us. We don’t always agree but we definitely count our blessings to be able to run projects together that we care about and bring impact. We involve our kids also in the work we do, so it also is very fulfilling to have causes we share as a family and work towards together.

S: If you could streamline the top three things you deem necessary in a successful relationship, what would they be?

N:

1. Unconditional Love
2. Friendship
3. Trust

S: Let’s switch gears a bit. As you have had the chance to travel, tell us, what has been the most pleasantly surprising thing you have experienced?

N: I am constantly in awe of the rich history of the cultures and peoples of different nations and the great effort and steps taken to preserve their history. I am captivated by stories and I think it I may take up anthropology at some point in life. I love traveling in Africa, Europe and Asia. There are many parts of the world I am yet to visit, but I certainly keep a rather long bucket list. I recently returned from Amsterdam which was really beautiful. I rode a bike down a highway and had way too many saucijenbroodjes, patates and poffertjes. It was surreal!

S: Hahaha! They are pretty tasty! With the varied experiences you have, what have you learned about your self?

N: That I am an old soul. I thrive through old stories, cultures, diving into the past with hope that it may inform and build up on my present.

S: If there was anything you could tell young African girls, what top three things would you tell them?

N:

1. Bloom where you have been planted – We don’t have the choice of our beginnings, but if we take charge of our narratives and focus on excellence of self and others, we bloom and consequently others do so too.
2. Trust in your journey – With the rise of social media, we often are enslaved with other people’s lives, their achievements, way of doing things, and often fall victim to questioning oneself. You are unique and so is your journey. Be the best, you can be, and let God do the rest.
3. Serve – in whatever capacity you are, we should all be able to give back. It is good for your soul and good for the world! Do everything in service.

S: The last question I have for you is this: if you could tell your younger self anything, what would you say?

N: Relax and stop worrying so much. Move with the flow of life and not against it. Pay attention, Show up and Show out and enjoy the surprises that await along your path!

~~End of Interview~~

Thank you once again, Miss Sumari, for allowing us in your world.

To the reader: If you’d like to see more of what Nancy Sumari does through The Neghesti-Sumari Foundation, Bongo5, JengaHub, and other exciting things, please click on the links below.

The Neghesti-Sumari Foundation

Bongo5

Nancy’s Instagram

Jenga Hub’s Instagram

Jenga Hub on Facebook

Photos credits to Nancy Sumari

ThinkSayBe

I am a mom amongst some other titles life has fortunately given me. I love photography & the reward of someone being really happy about a photo I took of her/him. I work, I study, I try to pay attention to life. I like writing. I don't understand many things...especially why humans treat each other & other living & inanimate things so vilely sometimes. I like to be an idealist, but when most fails, I do my best to not be a pessimist: Life itself is entirely too beautiful, amazing & inspiring to forget that it is!

More Posts

Follow Me:
Twitter

Interviewing An International Model: Miriam Odemba

Interviewing An International Model: Miriam Odemba

Happy Women’s Month!

A few days ago I had a meaningful and fun conversation with international Tanzanian model, Miriam Odemba. If you have Instagram you might want to pop on over and see what she is up to, as she is always inspirational, motivational, fun, and has the kind of beautiful smile that makes you want to smile as well!

Ms Odemba has agreed to answer some questions for us through this interview, as we celebrate women by showcasing phenomenal women who pursue their dreams and encourage others to do the same.

S: Hi! Please tell us your name and a little bit about where you are from.

M: My name is Miriam Odemba and I come from Tanzania.

S: First of all, I want to congratulate you on your success as an international model! What are some countries where you have modeled?

M: I’ve worked in Tanzania, of course, but in a lot of countries in Africa for various Miss competitions. I’ve been to Angola, South Africa, Senegal, Nigeria, Namibia, Kenya, Uganda. That’s mainly in Africa but I worked as well in China, in the United States with Elite Model Agency, in Europe, (Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland, U.K, Portugal), and of course in the Philippines for Miss Earth. I hope to visit more countries because my career is not finished yet.

S: Wow! Having seen so many places must have been very exciting! So in your travel and experience within the modeling industry, what are some differences you have noticed in how modeling is viewed in Tanzania and in other countries?

M: In Tanzania we need to have more things (in modeling). We need to develop this business. We don’t have that many modeling agencies. It is difficult to go international for models. This is why on long term I want to open my own model agency. Countries like Sudan, Senegal, Uganda they have more models. This is part of the Fashion Industry development. I think Tanzania has a role to play. We need to work hard to become international. Models are Ambassadors of their countries.

S: Well, let me ask you this: what was it like 20 years ago when you were one of the very first models there, and what changes have happened until now in 2018, for modeling in Tanzania?

M: I’m still a legend because I opened the door for next generation. There are a lot of changes because right now the young generation is more on social media and it is a good way to get some awareness. Before, when I was there (in Tanzania) it was only newspapers. Now you can be famous via Instagram.  There are a lot of opportunities for African models because the African market is developing.
The industry has started to recognize African models. Naomi Campbell, Iman, Tyra banks started the move but now there are many African models (models of African descent, and directly from Africa).

S: Okay, let’s switch gears a little. You are more than a fashion model. Please tell us about your health initiative

M: What I’m doing with this initiative and with my foundation, Run with Odemba, is trying to give education for our young generation, and to help the Maasai people. I think we have a treasure in our country, we have a specific culture and we need to bring that to the world.

S: What has been the response from the community in Tanzania in regards to your health initiative?

M: Run with Odemba is a very good project. As for me, I love to exercise. I think it is both very good for health and to feel fine. That is why I’m trying to transfer that philosophy to the young generation and I think it should be a part of education. For myself, I’m a trailblazer and a warrior. I’m unstoppable!

Exercise is key for human beings. It should be a habit from the beginning. We need infrastructure as well. In Brazil for instance they have a lot of places for training. We don’t have that in Tanzania. I think it is very important to have a sport culture in Tanzania. Once more, models they represent an image, but they are as well ambassadors of projects and countries. Running with Odemba first edition was a good success, but I intend to develop it in the future; maybe with partnerships with schools.

S: So, what are your thoughts on being a woman and being in shape? Do you think it matters and why?

M: As a woman you need to love yourself. To be proud of yourself. Wake up in the morning and think you are beautiful. It is not only about being a model but being a woman.
If you do that every morning every day you will be grateful. I’m not a perfect person but when you believe in yourself you become perfect.

S: This might be one of the tougher questions for you, because you love people, but I must ask: if you were to name your top top top most influential woman and most influential man who you see as role models, who would you name?

M: Oprah Winfrey because she has a strong speech, and she always gives good advice. For men I say, Barack Obama, because he was the first black president of United States and …he’s classy!

S: If you could tell your younger self anything, what would it be?

M: I would encourage myself to study hard and when I get a chance not to waste it, Education is the future for everything, and most of all, I would advise to appreciate everything!

S: Please share three tokens of wisdom with young girls
M: Respect, appreciate, and love yourself.

We sincerely thank Miriam Odemba for spending some time with us here at World Moms Network! We wish her all the success possible!

This is an original interview by Think, Say, Be for World Moms Network. 

If you’d like to see more of Miriam, her modeling journey, and her health initiative, please find her on
Instagram: @MiriamOdemba
Twitter: @Odemba4
Webpage: https://www.miriam-odemba.com

ThinkSayBe

I am a mom amongst some other titles life has fortunately given me. I love photography & the reward of someone being really happy about a photo I took of her/him. I work, I study, I try to pay attention to life. I like writing. I don't understand many things...especially why humans treat each other & other living & inanimate things so vilely sometimes. I like to be an idealist, but when most fails, I do my best to not be a pessimist: Life itself is entirely too beautiful, amazing & inspiring to forget that it is!

More Posts

Follow Me:
Twitter

World Voice: Life in President Trump’s First 100 Days

World Voice: Life in President Trump’s First 100 Days

April 29th will mark President Donald Trump’s 100th day in office.

As a foreigner, I have watched the news feeling extremely grateful that I gained American citizenship during the last administration. As a foreigner who looks of ambiguous origin and definitely not of any Caucasian descent, I wonder if I will ever be in the wrong place at the wrong time. As the mother of three children who mostly look African American, I wonder how their lives will be here in their own country. As the mother of one of my children whose last name is Arabic, and who could pass for Arab or Indian, I wonder if she would be red-flagged during travel. As an American citizen, I wonder where we are headed for, and to be honest, I feel like the magnitude of the situation is beyond our spectrum of understanding.

I do not tend to get into politics very often. I do my best to look at the character of the candidate before voting, without paying attention to the party she, or he, belongs to. However, this time the outcome of the presidential race was quite different than what most people expected, and so far President Trump has been in the news so much that even small children know his name, and some have not yet spoken or been too aware of the name ‘Obama’. It’s remarkably impressive.

With President Trump in office, it feels necessary to stay up to date with news of his actions, because one does not know what extreme thing will have happened between one day and the next.

A number of decisions that President Trump has made, ensure that some of us sit at the edge of our seats, or walk around the living room in circles with our hands on our hands, wondering if this is all an episode from the twilight zone.

If I may be honest, I really held, and in a smaller fraction still hold, hope for President Trump to be a great president. Why? Because he is not a politician, and being a politician is not a constitutional requirement to be a US President. When he was elected I thought that here is a person, specifically a white male in America who has money (so he won’t have to pay as much attention to lobbying influence), who sounds bold enough to make decisions that could cause some serious good change! A person who is a bit eccentric in his own ways, but that is not a bad thing. A person who gained the love of many Americans by showing them love and value. I felt that maybe his rhetoric was more on the side of … wrong, but that he actually will make things right, or improve upon what President Obama’s administration built.

However, with changes on the government’s take on climate change, health, internet privacy , immigration, travel from certain countries; but really the reasons behind the Travel Ban,  separating the United States from Mexico, despite environmental issues that will arise (not discussing separation or blocking of people from entering the country), issues to do with Natives/First Nations and the bit of land over which they have sovereignty, I am no longer an idealist about what is going to happen.

(One can see a list of things President Trump has worked on as of January 30, 2017, by clicking here).

I wonder about the relationship between Americans of various ethnic backgrounds now that we are under this new presidency.

I personally know two people (one a child) who was insulted based on race, the day after President Trump was named president-elect.

I wonder how much the choices, that President Trump is making will impact American soil and the planet at large.

Planet Earth will always take care of herself, but I feel in her doing so, we may not fare that well.

So now, 27 days away from President Trump’s first 100 days, all I can think to do is pray. Sincerely pray for him every single day. I admit it sounds cliche, but I think it can only be so if it is not meant. I do not intend to hold prayer meetings for him, or ardently and with much effort be in prayer for him. I just mean, that every single day, I want to suggest to this amazing universe to put the thought in President Trump’s heart to make the right decision. Maybe it sounds like I care more about this president than others, but I really don’t. I do care about how they all make decisions. I just feel that as being one of the major players in how the world works, it is imperative that we all make a daily, prayerful suggestion that President Trump make the right decisions.

Have you faced similar feelings about the new president in your country?

Do you have any fears or concerns with regards to President Trump’s actions thus far?

Do you feel he can do a great job in leading this country and as a global team player?

Photo Credit: Flickr

ThinkSayBe

I am a mom amongst some other titles life has fortunately given me. I love photography & the reward of someone being really happy about a photo I took of her/him. I work, I study, I try to pay attention to life. I like writing. I don't understand many things...especially why humans treat each other & other living & inanimate things so vilely sometimes. I like to be an idealist, but when most fails, I do my best to not be a pessimist: Life itself is entirely too beautiful, amazing & inspiring to forget that it is!

More Posts

Follow Me:
Twitter