Working as a Metaphysical Coach, I ask my clients this simple question: What motivates you?
Often, the first response given is, “Money! No doubt!”Would you respond the same way?
Don’t get me wrong, this response is not completely negative. What it IS, is a reflection of what the person values.
When someone says his or her only motivation is money, this person is also saying that money is the boss and has power over him or her.
I promise I’m not trying to be extreme.
During the weekdays, in most metropolitan cities in the United States, people spend a great amount of time commuting to and from work. When I used to participate in the busyness of the daily commute, I often wondered what was going on in the minds of the other commuters around me. I took a step back and looked at the ENERGY of the situation, and it was disturbing because people basically became drones. If they were the drones, who was the Queen Bee? Many people would say, “Money.”
Money itself it not bad, but it is the consciousness we have around it that can create undesirable results.
I encourage you to rethink what money is to you. Money is energy that is manifested in our lives through an exchange of energy.
Remember this: Energy is never lost.
Speaking of consciousness, there is another layer to my question above (Of course there is! I like Metaphysics…lol):
In Behavioral Psychology, there is something called Operant Conditioning. I won’t bore you with a drawn out definition or psychobabble, but I will tell you the basics. Operant conditioning is the process of learning behavior through reward and punishment. When someone is rewarded for a behavior, it is done more often. When someone is punished for a behavior, it is decreased or stopped.
We ALL are affected by this.
I am not bashing them, but I must say that Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter have maximized on this tremendously. In fact, our cell phones and other electronic devices apply this concept in some ways, too.
Don’t believe me?
Think about it. When you log into your social media accounts, you are bombarded with information. However, the one thing that stands out ON PURPOSE on all these platforms is your NOTIFICATIONS. The way they are set up feeds the reward system in the brain. These things become addictive because they activate pleasure centers in the brain, similar to what a drug would do.
While researching, I read somewhere (sorry, no citation) that people on average spend 20 minutes or more on social media sites even when they intend to spend a few minutes.
Pay attention. When the mind is in that state, it is similar to a trance, and the mind can be more open to suggestion. A person can get so caught up in this reward system that the person does not realize he or she is under the control of the next like, swipe, scroll, or newest filter.
So, who or what do you give your power to? It is whatever you give these things to: your time, energy, and ultimately your mind.
Obviously, I am not writing this post to degrade social media. There are positives to it too. More than likely you found this post through a social media site!
The purpose of this post is to get you to THINK, BE CONSCIOUS, and SHIFT your mindset.
Be conscious of why you access particular accounts, or do certain behaviors. It has been said over and over that we do many things subconsciously.
Be mindful of how you feel when you see notifications or prompts to keep clicking your time away. When something feels good, we are more likely to repeat it.
And finally, Shift your mindset, and know when you need to turn these distractions off.
Encouraging you to be the power center in your life,
Spring 2017 is in the air, and here we are, the United States of America, with our new 45th President, Donald Trump. In these first few months of his presidency, President Trump has equally inspired and enraged many American Citizens and people across the globe with his actions.
Many people continue to express extreme fear and worry about the future of the United States of America, due to the current political climate. Several people have been reactive, uproars of events have taken place, protests were organized, and even rioting occurred. America appears to be dividing further into opposite ends of the poles. Xenophobia appears to be on the rise, and equally so, more diverse groups of people have shown solidarity. I watched in sheer curiosity as people divided themselves through bigotry, racism, religion, political beliefs, etc.
When a person allows a concept to become more powerful than his or her sense of Self, then there is a problem. I am not only referring to politics, but also to labels that people give themselves, which then have become some of the same labels that people have allowed to disempower themselves.
I have spent many months away from blogging to really go within and to stay clear and aligned with what I am here to do. Hear me clearly though; I am aware of the things that are going on with this nation, but I have not lost sight of the Truth.
I am at the space in the middle of what appears to be a divide.
Several months ago, I knew that Trump would be elected for president AND win. When it happened, I wasn’t startled or upset, or even moved by it at all. This is the beauty of seeing the Spirit of things. I have no investment for or against him or any other person who has been our President. My investment is in elevating our consciousness as human beings and laying the foundation for a harmonious world.
“In all chaos, there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order.” -Carl Jung, Swiss Psychiatrist.
So, just for a moment, take a step back from any biased viewpoint you may have and open your mind to this information. Let’s be objective and see things as they are…Metaphysically.
On the larger scale, President Donald Trump is doing exactly what he is meant to do in the exact way he is supposed to. Trump carries strong trailblazing energy and is the perfect vessel to push against the grain, causing many people to pay attention (whether they are for, opposed, or even indifferent). He is a catalyst. If we get honest with ourselves, we can see that ALL our other presidents were catalysts as well.
The people who we collectively put in leadership (consciously or subconsciously) are reflections of where we are and what we are transforming about our nation.
What we are experiencing is the next step in our human evolution and our spiritual awakening.
In Common Sense in 1776 Thomas Paine said, “We have it in our power to begin the world over again.” We do.
A farmer must till the soil before planting the seed. The very much alive seed remains in darkness until the right conditions are present for it to break through the soil. This situation is no different.
If you find yourself becoming upset or reactive to things happening with our political system, look within first. Something in you is getting your attention, inviting you to own the deeper power within.
Let’s get even more real…
Last time I checked, no one has any power over us but ourselves. Everything we have engaged in is because we have chosen to do so. It’s not a bad thing. Laws, rules, and regulations are in place because they have been helpful over the years. We, as humans, have agreed to these imaginary rules and what their consequences are. We, as humans, can change them…starting with our consciousness about them.
It is a beautiful thing when people join together to connect at the heart level and express themselves from this space. When people are at this level, no external example has to be constructed or forced. It is an organic process. (Just like that “something” in you that led you to keep reading this.)
Please understand: I am not against marches, protests, or demonstrations, etc. I am for unity through empowerment of each other and ourselves.Empowerment, for some, includes physical demonstration made public. For others, it is a very private, daily practice. For all, it requires the constant cycle of awareness, intention, and conscious action.
There must be a point where we begin to face the facts:
We all share this planet whether we like each other 100% or not.
Killing one group of people only leads to more killing.
Divide and conquer leads to war, classism, racism, oppression, and eventually a revolution. (By the way, “revolution” means to go in circles…again and again.)
The people who continue to be referred to as “minorities” in America are becoming “majorities”. (“Racial” lines are more blurred than we realize.)
Many religions and moral philosophies have similar core tenets, that if we followed them on a personal/introspective level (without forcing others), then we could live in harmony.
(Refer back to Fact Number 1).
I wrote this to encourage you not to get swept away in the sensationalism that gets blasted in the media frequently. Sensationalism breeds cloudy thinking and impulsive reactions. Whether you are Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Jew, New Thought, Native, Black, White, Brown, Transgender, immigrant, refugee, Conservative, Liberal, or whatever else you identify with…
No matter where you are or what country you are in, we all live on one big mass that we call Earth, located in this expansiveness we call space. We need each other. That’s it.
“In all chaos, there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order.”
-Carl Jung, Swiss Psychiatrist.
A cosmos is a harmonious and orderly system, and it is up to us to create it.
When your heart speaks to you, do you listen? OR Do you talk yourself out of what is being said to you?
There comes a moment when we know without a doubt that we are being called to do more with our talents, our gifts, and essentially our lives.
Depending on where you are in your journey, some people might call it a mid-life crisis. In some spiritual communities, this process is referred to as Divine Discontent. I like to use this phrase because it is more than just a developmental stage; it is the Universe’s way of getting your attention and growing you into someone even better than you were before.
From personal experiences, and working extensively with several clients, I recognized that this process typically happens in stages.
Here is my summary of the stages related to Divine Discontent:
Stage 1: Misalignment= This is when you begin to feel out of sync with what is going on in your life. The things that you normally do might start to feel monotonous and boring. You might start to feel fleeting senses of disinterest or displeasure for these things. (Not to be mistaken for depression symptoms.)
Stage 2: Denial=The awareness of your misalignment increases, but instead of looking further into the reason behind it, you go against what you are feeling and try to continue in your monotony. You basically talk yourself out of whatever it is that you are feeling…or at least you try… which leads to the next stage.
Stage 3: Detachment = This is when you still are not quite ready to “dig deep” and give anything up or make major changes, so you start to distance yourself emotionally from the things that are causing the discontent. Unfortunately, this state of discontent may also spill over into other things in your life. People might notice and comment on your shift in mood and your distant presence. You can’t hide it anymore.
Stage 4: Epiphany/Climax/Aha Moment =This is when Shift Happens. Your discontent pushes you to the edge of introspection. You look inward, and question what is at the core of your feelings. You realize that you need to make changes, whether small, medium, or major ones. You decide that you are willing to make these changes.
Stage 5: Pursuit = You take action and make the necessary changes so that your discontent decreases. You actively seek guidance, whether it be inward, from mentors, or both. You change your direction and move towards your new goal.
Stage 6: Alignment= You feel more alive and the things you are doing or engaging in feel right. You no longer have that unpleasant sense of monotony or boredom. You are in motion, and it seems like everything and everyone around you are propelling you so that you stay in motion.
Stage 7: Realization= You reach that point of bliss where you know that you are doing what you are meant to do. You have moments where you reflect upon where you were before this stage, and you are grateful that you made the changes. You realize that everything was already worked out for your benefit, and all you had to do was take the first step.
Consider what things (or people) in your life that you feel discontent with. How long have you allowed this feeling to linger?
Approximately 5 days prior to my return from my journey in Ghana, many people started messaging me frequently. Most of the messages said one of two things: “When are you coming home?” or “You’ll be coming home soon!” I kept on receiving those messages almost daily. I felt conflicted when I read them. By this point, I had gotten accustomed to being away from the US, and was excitedly exploring areas of Ghana on my own.
In the beginning of the trip, I was anxiously trying to make sure that I had access to wifi. I have this app on my phone (that I will keep anonymous for now) that allows me to communicate with anyone across the globe who also has the app. The more that I let go of my fears about being overseas, the less that I looked at my phone to see if there was a wifi connection. So, by the time I had reached the closing of my trip, I really did not overwhelm myself with using the app, unless I was talking with the locals and a few friends.
Plus, part of the conflict I was experiencing was because I kept thinking and wanting to reply, “I AM home.”
I loved walking freely down the streets with the locals, smiling, wearing my summer dresses, eating fried or fire-baked plantains, slurping down the sweet chunks of local pineapple, and having heartfelt discussions with fellow young adults about ways we can unify our world.
I was definitely Home.
Yet the time came for me to leave. I was very upset, but checked in with my heart and got clear: “All is in Divine Order and there is a reason for my return at this time”.
I got on the plane heading back to the US. It was going to be at least an 11-hour flight into JFK airport, and then another 3 hours or so back to Atlanta. I wanted to stay awake for most of the trip, so I decided to watch movies while I was on the plane. There were several choices, but I was drawn to two particular films. I watched Selma and 12 Years A Slave during my flight back to the United States of America…coming from Ghana, West Africa.
Notice any irony?
Needless to say, I am not sure what drew me to those films (and I knew what they were about), but watching them during the flight had more of an impact than I had imagined. I cried, felt disgusted, and was reminded of another fact about the foundational history of the place I was heading to.
So many thoughts and emotions rolled through me. My parents, who are in their late 60’s and early 70’s now, were once forced to use public amenities that were for “Coloreds/Blacks Only”. They went to schools that were segregated. They saw the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. inreal time. My dad marched in demonstrations, and I recalled marching with him and local members of the community as a very young girl in order to commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr’s activism when he visited my home town. (Where he was arrested, by the way.)
Then I landed on US soil. I made it back into Atlanta, Georgia, and attempted to re-assimilate myself into American culture by catching up on the latest news. The first thing that I heard about was another shooting of an African American male. I turned off the news and sat in silence for a few hours. I felt numb and heavily detached, because I knew (and know) that this does not have to be.
Not long after that, the shootings in Charleston occurred. Once again, I thought about my experience in Ghana, and then recalled what I was witnessing here in America. It was challenging to go from an environment that oozes with freedom into a place that began to feel oppressive and constrictive. But I always remember that I have choice, andI can choose my own thoughts.
From our thoughts, our feelings and behaviors are affected. We can choose to interact with our environment from an intentional and positive mindset.
Yet, I still chose to reflect upon the history of America…briefly.
Many Americans know that this country was built from the desires of ego-centered men who seemed to have lacked understanding of the True Essence of humanity as a whole. Here it is, the 4th of July, where many of us Americans celebrate Independence Day. Yet, what is really being celebrated? The signing of the Declaration of Independence is not completely about freedom. (I also learned that some colonists did not sign it until an anti-slavery clause was taken out of it, but that may be for another blog post.)
Essentially, the 4th of July is celebrated because the colonies chose to declare their independence from Britain. The colonists were upset with Britain because they were being taxed, feeling stressed, and various rules were placed upon them that they did not like. But think about it…aren’t these same types of taxations and rules in existence in the country right now?
So I ask you, “What are you celebrating?”
I love this line in Bob Marley’s Redemption Song:
“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our mind.”
One of the reasons I named my company Metaphysical Freedom is because Freedom first begins in the mind. For example: The colonists who declared their freedom from Britain first had to THINK they could be free from British rule. The slaves who fought for freedom first had to THINK that they could be free. The activists who marched for Civil Rights first had to THINK that change was possible.
I encourage you to recognize the power of your mind and the unshakable freedom that you have from owning your own thoughts and creating your experience from your authentic mind. Not from what someone else has told you, and NOT based on history. History does NOT have to repeat itself, and would not be able to if we renewed our minds and evolved.
You and I KNOW that there is a better way for ALL of us to live on this planet, and that is in HARMONY with it and each other.
I mentioned in Part 1 that earlier this year, I traveled to Ghana, West Africa and stayed for a month. In my time there, I learned a lot of positives about myself and the Ghanaian culture. I also recognized some of my own stigmas, and challenged others’. However, there are some things that I learned which opened my eyes to the reality of the challenges we face due to our ego-centric human nature and history. Through my next set of posts, I will address some “ugly truths” that I developed a better understanding of while being in Ghana.
As I shared in the first post, there were several people from other countries visiting Ghana. Due to my naivety, I thought that the majority of these people were tourists or volunteers. When I spent more time in the country, I paid attention to the landscape, noticed the architecture, and witnessed the different “classes” of people.
There were notably many people from China, India, and France in Ghana. (Through conversation, I learned that there are many people from these countries who reside or visit Africa in general.) I have seen videos of other African countries with “foreigners”, but the experience is different when something is observed firsthand.
I saw extravagant hotels, numerous casinos, and fancy apartment buildings in Ghana. When I asked the locals who owned them, I was surprised to know that most were owned by “foreigners”. These luxurious establishments were in the middle of cities with shack houses, cramped market spaces, and unstable roads. In the least, they were hard to miss because they appeared to have higher quality construction.
Why, you may ask are all these businesses there? Well, think about this: Which nation/continent is one of the largest leaders in cocoa production, has lots of oil, precious metals, diamonds and gold? You got that right. Africa.
I was bothered to not only to witness the economic disparity among the native Ghanaians, but also to observe the ways that the people were being taken advantage of by “foreign” businesses (example: Paying workers far less to run million-dollar businesses). I talked with many educated local businessmen who expressed that other countries are investing heavily in the continent of Africa and its countries. I learned that treaties were formed centuries ago that have left the people with little to no input or income when it relates to the extraction, use, and distribution of their resources.
It is funny to me that a great amount of the American publicity about the continent has been geared towards driving people away from Africa, or displays the people as poor and impoverished. Yet, I clearly saw that other countries see Africa as a rich continent filled with resources and wealthy opportunities.
I am not against people thriving and doing well in their business and economic endeavors, but I do not vibe with groups who take advantage of and oppress another group for their own gain.
It is once again, another form of slavery. The Ghanaian people are very kind, open, and non-violent. Their hospitality is nothing like any Southern hospitality I have experience in the United States. But, something is missing. They are rich and do not know it.
The long-term effects of colonization have left several of the people with a case of learned helplessness. I will talk more about the long-term effects of colonization in another post.
However, a crafty way that I can explain learned helplessness is like this: A person desires to get help with turning off a light in a room. The person is facing a wall, and the light switch is on the opposite wall that the person is not looking at. Due to the person’s history and past experiences, the person was made to believe that he/she cannot help him/herself. So, this person asks every other person who comes into the room for help with turning off the light. In reality, all that the person has to do is turn around and flip the switch.
When I roamed around Ghana, a lot of the people expressed that they want to come to the US in order to find jobs and make money. Almost none of them said that they wanted to have their own businesses and thrive in their own country. I couldn’t understand it. I felt like they were in a land overflowing with wealth, yet they were seeing it only from a limited viewpoint, and a very negatively skewed one at that.
It appears that their view of their situation is a result of a centuries old “(human) race consciousness” that supports limited awareness of personal strength and freedom. I desire for the Ghanaian people to know how rich they truly are. Food grows almost everywhere, the air is lively and basically unpolluted (most places I went), and the land has a wealth of resources.
These ants did not question if they could build this structure. They knew they had the ability, worked together, and did so, unencumbered.
To my Ghanaian brothers and sisters (and you the reader):
Do not look outside of yourself in order to discover riches. See who You Are. You Are already Rich and well-equipped. Tap into your innate strength and wealth.
I toured a small portion of the country and gathered as much information as I could about the people, culture, language, and customs. Most of the Ghanaian people are Christian, and there is also a large Muslim population as well. The day after Easter Sunday, I visited the beautiful Aburi Botanical Gardens for an Easter Monday festival. There was a live band, picnics, dancing, singing, games, and lots of food everywhere. I noticed the FREEDOM of the people, unlike anything else I have ever experienced. Everywhere that I looked, everyone was walking around confidently, laughing, smiling, and LIVING in the moment. I loved every moment of it!
Without me saying a word, people noticed that I was “different”and often asked if I was African at all. A few people said to me that my skin was too light, so they were willing to believe I was from South Africa. I found that hard to believe, because I have a brown complexion. (Then, I jokingly thought about the 13% of my lineage that is European.) After this happened frequently, I learned very quickly not to be bothered by these statements because I knew that it was only curiosity.
I met two young men in their 20’s at Aburi. Their names were Francis and Joe. They were excited to meet an American and asked me hundreds of questions. The first thing they said was, “Are you a Black American?” I nodded. Francis and Joe expressed that they wanted to come to America so that they can have jobs and live a good life. I did not want to discourage them, but I was realistic and told them that many people in America are having difficulty finding work. They looked puzzled so I explained more about the American economy until they understood.
I asked Francis and Joe for their Ghanaian names. With hesitance, they told me. Then, they asked me what my African name was. I told them that I did not know. They looked so surprised at me and asked why I didn’t know. I had to explain to them how slavery impacted my family (and many others) to the point where I could not tell them my whole lineage or my ancestors’ names. They continued to look surprised and a little empathetic.
We continued our conversations and talked about several issues facing each country. I wanted them to know how much freedom they truly have and how amazing life can be, right where they were. I ended up talking to them for a few hours, but it was worth it. After our conversation, they each told me their native names again, and with pride.
New friends Francis and Joe at Aburi
There are talented young people in Ghana. I met Jacob during some downtime. Jacob is a creative and fashion-forward young adult. He makes handbags, shoes, accessories, clothing, and much more…ALL BY HAND. As I learned more about him, I discovered that he had given a large portion of his products to someone in another country who paid him little to nothing for it and now sells it in her store for 120x’s more. I encouraged Jacob to share his work globally using social media, instead of just in Ghana. I pointed out to him that he spends a lot of time and effort to do his work, so he should get back what it is worth. He agreed, and has started working with a Facebook page to share his work. (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ja-Creation/832268476851066)
Jacob, a talented and fashion-forward guy. He makes shoes, clothing, handbags, and accessories. By the way, he made the bookbag in this picture.
Hanging out with Jacob and taking selfies at a local Lounge in Tema
I also had the pleasure of meeting Kingsford. He is another young adult, and he works in one of the small shops in the Accra Arts Center area. He was cool, kind, and made very nice bracelets…BY HAND. I supported his business by getting personalized bracelets made. I would sit in the chair and chat with him while he made them.
Kingsford making a personalized bracelet.
Giving Kingsford a goodbye hug and thanking him.
My next to last week in Ghana, I stayed at the home of a missionary woman. She worked with several organizations and had numerous projects. One day, she asked if I could sit in on a meeting and give feedback based on my perspective. I agreed. The meeting was at the Malku Institute of Technology. The topic of interest was marketing and social media. I gave my honest opinion and shared research that I had read. Surprisingly to me, I was asked to come back and present a workshop to the core staff about the topic. I was thrilled to do so, and I put together a simple presentation to assist them in the best way that I knew how.
As I continued with the intention to connect with the Ghanaian people, I discovered that the ones I connected with were ones who needed to be encouraged and reminded that they are worthy of greatness. (Don’t we all need that?!)
Here is another person that I met. Thomas, pictured below. He was my cab driver during my last week in Ghana. Thomas is 70 years old, and has 2 adult children living in New York. He and I had great conversations about spirituality, religion, and stages of the lifespan. Thomas shared that he feels like his time on Earth is about to be up. He said, “My kids are grown and a lot of my friends are dead.” I expressed to him that there is so much life to live right now. He smiled when we talked and shared, “I wish we could have met sooner so we can really talk about Life!” Before I left, he commanded me, “You come back in a year, and I want to meet your husband and baby.” This statement made me laugh.
All in all, I loved to hear Thomas’s perspective, yet most importantly, he also appreciated my willingness to listen.
By the last week of my trip, most people said to me, “Are you Ghanaian? You look Ghanaian.” I was so amused by this because the only thing that changed for me was that I felt less like a tourist or visitor and more like I was at home.
When my host family asked me how I felt about being in Africa and specifically in Ghana, I replied: “I see the faces of my friends and family in the people here.”
It easily felt like home, indeed.
Think about this:
The more we seek to understand each other, the less and less we support the false barriers that exist between us.
Joe gifted me with a bracelet and asked to be a lifelong friend.
One of the many reasons that I traveled to Ghana and spent a month there is because I wanted to learn more about my African roots. One of my siblings did the DNA genealogy test to help us to determine what regions/countries that our ancestors came from. To me, the test results were…well…they weren’t very conclusive. They read something like: Overall 85% from Africa (of course), then it was broken down into countries- Cameroon/Congo 31%, Ivory Coast/Ghana 26%, Nigeria 10%, and traces of Senegal 7%, Mali 4%, Togo/Benin 4%, and the South-Eastern Bantu region 2%. The other percentages were roughly 13% European and 2% Central Asian. When I first heard the results, I asked, “What does that really mean?” I don’t believe that the same borders or boundaries existed when my early ancestors were living freely on the land hundreds of years ago, so I figured that Ghana would be a good place in West Africa to learn at least something about the people I come from.
I grew up in South Georgia with small beginnings on family farmland in the countryside. The farms were former plantations. I remember having family get-togethers outside where we fried fish in a large pot of oil over an open flame. We had live animals running around…horses, pigs, chickens, and the family dogs. My uncles loved cooking Brunswick stew, or bringing back fresh fish from the local river. My dad would cut sugar cane, and we all enjoyed chewing it to get the sweet “juice”. I remember when I was very young, I used to sit on my great grandmother’s porch overlooking the farmland and help her to “shuck” corn.
Some of the houses were more like shacks because they were built by family members and had tin roofs. We called some of them “shotgun” houses because you could walk into the front door and see straight through the house all the way to the back door.
Even when we moved to the city, we continued some of our lifestyle. We grew plums, pecans, figs, blackberries, and peppers in our own yard.
Life was simple and rich.
Sogakope, Ghana in the Volta Region felt the most like my hometown to me. There were mostly dirt roads, several handmade houses, and the people were laid-back.
A few homes in Sogakope
Mango tree in the yard
Food stand: Pineapple, yam, plantain, palm nuts, and chopped sugar cane (at the bottom)
Laid-back moto riders relaxing by a “shack”
Something else that was interesting to me was related to funerals.My family usually wears black to funerals. However, if it is a grandparent that dies, we (as grandchildren) wear white instead. I don’t remember questioning why we had this tradition.
During my time in Ghana, I learned that red, black, and white are the funeral colors for Ghanaians. The people wear red if it is a young person who has passed away. They wear black if it is an adult/middle-aged person. They wear white if it is an elderly person. I felt a sense of satisfaction with this information and pondered if our family tradition was a watered-down version of an ancestral practice.
One final thing that caught my attention and felt comforting was the clothes-washing. Almost everyone hand-washes their clothing and hangs them out on a line to dry. My parents grew up doing the same thing, and they did the same for us. At some point, we had a washing machine, but we NEVER had a dryer, so we used a clothesline. As a teen, I used to be ashamed of it, but now I smile joyfully about it. (Plus, it is very environmentally friendly.)
Clothes hanging on the clothesline at a university guest house.
These small similarities made me feel more at ease in the “foreign” country. I started to pay more conscious attention to the people, and began to see familiarity in all of them.
It is such a pleasure to notice the small things that connect us all as a people.
In March 2015, I traveled to Ghana, West Africa and stayed for a month.This was my first official flight overseas, so I was nervous. I was not sure what to expect on my way to Ghana. I flew solo, and was going to meet my host family at the final destination in Accra. I took a red-eye flight, but there was a brief layover in Amsterdam. When I made it to Amsterdam, I could already feel a difference in the air. There was a sense of movement and action that did not feel like mindless busyness.
My layover was only for a few hours, so I made my way to the next gate for the plane heading to Accra, Ghana. When I got to the gate, I immediately noticed that almost everyone was Black. The people’s beautiful dark skin had a supernatural glow. I KNEW I was among Africans. It was an exciting feeling. The second part of the flight was long and turbulent. When the plane landed in Accra that night, most of the passengers applauded in relief. Shuttle buses came to the plane to pick up the passengers and take us into the airport. It was raining and humid, but I was in Africa!!
The customs line was long, and I had to wait for over an hour to make it through. Many diverse people were in the line with me. I saw Chinese, Lebanese, Nigerian, Belgian, and Canadian visitors, just to name a few. I admit that I was surprised to see many “foreigners” coming to Ghana. Then it hit me…I realized that I may have had some subconscious stereotypes and misconceptions about Africa even though I consider myself to be a very open-minded and an independent thinker. Due to this realization, this first post of the series is going to address some of the stereotypes and myths that many people might have about Africa. Although I was only in Ghana, I think that a lot of this information is relevant.
Prior to leaving the US, many people asked me, “Do they even speak English over there?” Often times, the tone of the question was condescending and judgmental more than curious.
To answer that question…Yes. A majority of the people in Ghana do speak some English (and also one or more of the native dialects).
Honestly, even if the people didn’t speak English, I was willing to learntheir language. As people of a culturally diverse world, I think it is beneficial not to be xenophobic or extremely ethnocentric. It benefits us if we do not go into another country expecting the people to speak the language that we are most comfortable or familiar with. It causes us to open up and develop an understanding of each other that verbal language can sometimes distract us from.
But yes, a majority of the people spoke English. This was a blessing, and I was extremely grateful.
Sign Above the door at a Primary school
Stereotype: There is extreme Lack of Education This is not completely true. There are professionals such as doctors, lawyers, pharmacists, teachers, etc in Ghana. I did notice that public schools seemed to get the least amount of assistance and care. The conditions were not the best ones for learning. (I will discuss this in a more in depth post later on in the series.)
There are colleges, universities, and tech schools in Ghana.
Stereotype: People only wear Traditional Clothing I can admit that I expected a majority of the Ghanaian people to dress in traditional African clothing. This was not the case.
In all of the places that I visited, the majority of the people were dressed similar to me or my close friends. They looked like Americans. I did learn that this varied based on regions, belief systems, and age.
Adults waiting for a ride near the Volta Region.
Young people dancing in the park at Aburi Botanical Gardens.
Myth: There are only Dirt Roads and Villages with no Running Water or Electricity There are some paved roads, and there are some unpaved roads in Ghana. I had the joy of experiencing both. In some areas, when it rains, the paved roads get washed away and turn back into muddy roads with enormous craters. It can make for a bumpy ride or limited access to areas, especially if you do not have a moto (motorcycle).
Man and woman riding the moto near the Volta Region.
There are traditional villages and thatch roof houses like the ones that are often portrayed on television. However, many people do have homes like the ones in America, and they are HUGE!
Village home in Dodowa.
Back view of a “toilet” at a village home in Dodowa. The owner was kind enough to let me use it.
Private bathroom in my bedroom in West Legon.
There IS running water and electricity in parts of Ghana. Not all places have running water or electricity, but many of them do. Unfortunately there is an issue with frequent electricity outages. The people are accustomed to it, and even have a name for it: Doomsor. Some days I had electricity, but almost every day I did not have electricity for 6, 12, or more hours. I seldom had hot water, but it was bearable because the weather is very hot and humid.
Village children pumping water while a man walks by carrying goods on his head.
Stereotype: There is dangerous “Wildlife” (lions) roaming everywhere.
There are several animals in Ghana. I did not get to see the monkeys, elephants, zebras, and giraffes, but I learned that they have nature reserve parks in different regions where I can go see them. Everyday I did encounter many cows, goats, chickens, dogs, cats, and sheep freely roaming around the streets and in harmony with each other.
Baby goat in Dodowa casually heading under the vehicle for shade.
Herd of cows calmly crossing the street in the city.
Myth: All of Africa is only Deserts. There is no Vegetation. Ghana is beautiful! I was able to experience the lush Aburi Botanical Gardens, go to the beach, see mountains, and visit the bush areas. Plus, almost every where that I went, there was mango, papaya, avocado, and plenty of foods growing naturally.It was magnificent!
Home on a hill in Aburi
Walking a path out in the “bush” north of Aburi.
Cape Coast (The other side of the Atlantic Ocean)
Stereotype: There is nothing for Tourists because the countries are underdeveloped.
I would recommend that anyone with a genuine interest in the continent of Africa visit at least one country, even if it is only for tourism. In Ghana, there are hotels, spas, shopping malls, museums, national parks, and movie theaters. I am certain that other countries in Africa have the same amenities as well. 🙂
Spa in Sogakope, Ghana (Volta Region)
Museum in Kumasi (Ashanti Region)
Myth: They do not like African Americans.
My experience was that many of the people do like African Americans…and people in general. I was often referred to as “sister” (or “girlfriend” or “wife” by some guys who were really trying to push the envelope). The mindset of the Ghanaian people that I interacted with is , “We are family”. The people were extremely nice, helpful, and I felt very safe. I met some kindhearted individuals and made wonderful new friends during my time in Ghana.
My message to you is this: Africa is a rich and enchanted continent.
Do not allow stereotypes, myths, and targeted media coverage prevent you from visiting Africa, meeting the beautiful people, or exploring other regions of this planet.
If the inner guidance of your heart is pulling you to venture out, give it a try.
A loving presence is understood across all cultures and languages.
I love writing, and maybe you do as well. My most consistent writing practice began in my early childhood. I had a diary. Oh, the juicy, secretive world of diaries with their special locks and “keep out!” signs. Then I graduated to journals. I had several black and white composition books filled with some of my most intimate moments, fears, joys, and requests to God. I journaled almost everyday.
Recently, during the process of packing, I stumbled upon my journals from high school and college. I sat down for a moment and carefully read over my entries. I wrote passionately about my woes related to school issues, family, friendships, and relationships gone awry.
There was a pattern that took place in my writing: 1. I started out writing about the day (Ex: It was a rough day); 2. Then, I wrote extensively about the suffering or strife that I perceived I was experiencing (exaggerating most of it, by the way); 3. Lastly, as if in response to my discouragement, I wrote wise words of encouragement that were well beyond my years of experience and knowledge.
(Ex: I know that this is a situation where I am meant to learn about…)
I read through several of these journals, and was fascinated by something within them that I hadn’t noticed before.
You see, when I read more closely, I realized that I was also prophesying to myself in every entry.
At the time that I wrote the entries, I did not realize that they were more than words of encouragement, but actual prophecy. I didn’t know they were true until I reflected on the entries recently and recognized that most of the things had occurred!
But… Where did those prophetic words come from?
I went into meditation about this question, and here is some of what was expressed to me. Spirit reminded me that I am always taken care of and supported by unseen forces. It was brought to my attention that when I wrote my journal entries, they were a way for me to connect with My Creator and seek guidance. It was a form of prayer.
The most beautiful message I received was this reminder: “I already knew what you needed. I already saw everything you were going to request. I Am in You. Be in a place to receive those things.”
This makes me think of a biblical text that states, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…”
Take the time to think of all the things that you have requested of Spirit. What would it mean for you to know that your requests are already known?
Better yet, what if there is already an answer?
There Is.Affirm for yourself today: Everything is already in order, and the solution is clear.
When you come into contact or cross paths with another human being that you do not know, what is the primary thing that you want to do?
Do you make eye contact, smile and nod? Do you say Hello? Or, do you work hard to avoid eye contact, keep your space, and keep moving along your way?
What thoughts/feelings contribute to the ways you interact with others?
There is an inner knowing within all of us that helps us to gauge the general vibe of others. Sometimes we can become so distracted with cell phones, music, social media, and other devices, that we don’t tap into our inner guidance system. We might miss out on an opportunity to make a new friend, save a life, or lift up our own moods.
What would happen if you went throughout your day today with the intention that“No ONE is a stranger”? I am not saying that you should run off with a stranger and jump into a dark van with shaded windows. (Please don’t.)
I am referring to the conscious effort to mindfully acknowledge the people that are with you from moment to moment throughout your day.
From a Spiritual point of view,there is no unfamiliar face in our world. We came from the Formless (Spirit/God/Energy/Universe) and were made into Form (Human Beings).
If all of us truly are made from ONE Source, then we really are not strangers to each other.
We simply need to re-introduce ourselves.
Imagine how rich your world will be once you perceive yourself with connections everywhere that you go.
Turn off the music for a moment and say hello.
Look away from your smartphone or tablet, and actually make eye contact.