The Grey Zone

It’s been 10 weeks since I became a mom and what a wonderfully crazy ride. Between the sleepless nights, crazy messy hair and unfounded fights with my husband, I didn’t know what to think nor do. But guess what, we made it through.

You see, this is not something I can take back to the store if I don’t like it anymore nor give away to someone in need. Matter of fact it’s quite a serious commitment that I can’t back down from and I thought I was prepared but God no I wasn’t. I’ve been crying silently in the shower sometimes (when I could take one) trying to escape the frustration of not doing one thing right or being completely clueless.

I’ve been fighting and laughing with my husband over nonsense, while we both try to adjust to our new roles as parents at the same time as being a couple again. It’s been tough, it’s been stressful and scary but overall, it’s been amazing. Oyana is growing well and wayyy too fast. She is putting on all of her healthy weight and getting chubbier everyday! She is one happy baby that surprises us everyday.

On another note, I’ve been trying to get back to my old self. No pressure though. I yet have to get back to the gym and get a new membership so I can tone back my body. While I’ve been lucky to shed all of my baby weight and some extra pounds (thanks to breastfeeding), I lost my muscles and that will require some serious postpartum workout plan.

Work wise, I am still searching. Not as actively though as before because I want to enjoy my break at home taking care of my baby and travel a bit. But I am looking, because I don’t picture myself as a housewife only nor as a stay-at-home mom. I have more to offer and I have three degrees that I worked very hard on to get that need to be put to use.

I also am working/researching on some side projects (freelance most likely) close to my heart that will hopefully help me gain some experience and, stay up to date with my industry of interest. So if you need help or, know anybody that has some PR/Communications projects and opportunities, shoot me an email! Like seriously 🙂

Finally, I have taken a serious step back into my religious life, trying to regain a stronger and better connection with God and my spirituality. As a parent I believe it is important to also provide my children with spiritual guidance and protection. I therefore decided to observe lent this year, focusing on reducing stress and anxiety by limiting complains and unnecessary frustration caused by things I cannot control. I want to reconnect with my God, faithfully and completely, which requires lots of trust and self abandonment. It’s going to be hard, I know it already but, I am committed.

Once I figure out my routine with baby girl and re-establish a proper schedule for everything else in my life – fitness, work, relationship, social – the posting will become more regular on the blog. I know some of you may be disappointed with my absence or even the content of the blog right now but that’s where I am right now. And I will always try to remain as transparent as I can rather than making empty promises.

PS: More posts in French coming soon !

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One chapter closes, Another opens

For the past five years since I moved to New York City, my life has solely revolved around my degree and job search. Nothing else mattered.

After submitting my capstone, which brought an end to my NYU journey, I realized that my outlook on life had completely changed. I could not care whether this was my best paper but rather, I just looked forward to closing that chapter.

My life took a very different turn a few months back where I experienced everything from curse to blessing. I thought I would not make it out. I thought I would lose everything I had worked very hard to achieve those last years. But I survived. I did not have a choice.

You see, every time God has sent me a blessing, it has been accompanied with an equally challenging trial. As if I did not completely deserve it. At last, that is what I thought. But today, I realize it was simply is way to make me slow down, to let him handle on his time, which direction my life must go next. Because you see, God never fails.

I remember wishing last new year to gain more strength, overcome my fears and sorrow and learn to be more patient. I got it all, the whole package. And it is not over. I can feel it . But most importantly, I know it.

However, I am not alone in this journey. I have my God, and the amazing people he has placed in my life that became my support system through it all. And most importantly, I have her, the best part of me, my baby. Though I am afraid, I do not fear because she is the light I have been missing this whole time.

2016 brought me the greatest sorrow with the loss of my best friend. 2017 filled my heart with the purest of all loves, bringing back, both my best friend and greatest life accomplishment. Today I am closing one chapter but also, opening the most important chapter of my life: I become me!

As 2018 begins, I am ABSOLUTELY thankful for everything that has happened. This holiday season, I received the most beautiful gift which is giving life.  Nothing compares to that. This new chapter will be eventful, scary and fulfilling! Although I am terrified daily toto care for such a perfect angel, I know I will be fine.

Oyana, you are my everything and I am thankful that you chose me to guide you through this crazy world!

Happy New Year!

Is anybody home?

I know, it has been too long. I am sorry. But honestly, I have no idea where to begin. Too much has happened in such a short of period of time that I kind of let myself drown in. Maybe it was fear, maybe just an overall exhaustion of always trying to control things. So these past five months, I simply withdrew into myself and took life and events one day at a time.

I am not sure whether this post will make much sense but I will try. So what happened? I guess life would be the most appropriate and accurate word to describe the past months. A succession of feelings and emotions, coupled with the daily occupations and responsibilities. Quite an explosive cocktail, especially when overall, you feel like the spectator and no longer the actor.

I simply felt like I had lost control over everything – though I still feel the same. The worst part, there was never a pause button to catch a breath. That is not how things work in life. You get one test after another and, eventually have to make it work, to the greatest extent possible. And the truth is, I had absolutely no desire nor motivation to post content that did not feel authentic. I could even care less whether I was losing followers or viewers because “I was going through some s***t” and I still am.

I needed a break but I did not even get to have it. Life kept its course, I still had commitments to fulfill. So I shut down and escaped into my deepest parts. At least there, I could let out all the refrained emotions while I continued to act “normal” outside.

So this post is to remind myself that it is okay not to feel okay. That sometimes I need time off to focus on myself and,  figure s***t out. I could have deleted this blog but then I realized that it was also part of the coping process. I want to keep my promises and continue blogging to improve my writing. This time, I am not going to set unrealistic goals like “posting every monday and Wednesday” but something more on the lines of “stay true to yourself and do it when the time is right.”

Blurred-Heritage will be back. Stay tuned!

 

Intercultural Relationships: For Better AND For Worse

Dating and Relationships overall, are challenging experiences. It becomes even more complicated when you are involved with someone from a culture or race different from your own. I used to think that “sticking with my own kind” would ease my life decisions towards marriage, having and raising kids and, the place I would settle in. Well it was, until I realized that I was not the typical “Congolese” girl and, might have a hard time finding a man of my culture and race that could handle my outspoken, stubborn and independent self. Blame it on my father.

Expectations 

Like any teenage girl, I have had crushes, flings and flirts which allowed me to experience and venture out of my culture (ethnic group) and race. Even though my parents taught me cultural sensitivity and how to appreciate everybody to their true value, they never really believed nor imagined that I would marry a non-Congolese; while my brothers dated girls from everywhere. Well, my mother probably started having doubts after my last breakup, three years ago.

I gradually distanced myself from my “people” because of the hypocrisy, and the prevalent and obnoxious culture of recycling boyfriends. I never was the type to share a man so, settling for someone who couldn’t appreciate being solely with me, was a NO. Furthermore, I hated the idea that one day, I could be in a room full of women that had either slept or, been in a relationship with my husband. That was not for me. Overall, I was tired of the ethnocentric culture where a good wife/husband was determined by his/her regional affiliation. Nope, Nope, Nope.

Game Changer

Moving to New York was reality check. It changed my conception of relationships and marriage. While I did not agree with the U.S. “dating” idea, I loved the idea that here I could get a clean slate. I could finally get to really “know” a person without outside interference. I must admit I was scared, a lot, because that meant exposing myself to a stranger and, opening myself to a new culture and different traditions, with no guidelines.

However, Regardless of whom I married, I needed it to be someone who understood my special connection to Congo and Africa. Someone that would respect it because I cannot spend a whole year without flying back home. It is part of me. You can take the girl out of Africa but you can’t take Africa out of the girl!  

Language barrier

I was born and raised in Congo Brazzaville which makes French my first language. I also speak Lingala, a language we share with the DRC. Though I now am fluent in English, starting and building a relationship in a language that isn’t yours is difficult. There have been many instances where I couldn’t seem to find the right word or expression to describe  or express a feeling/situation. I get why people wouldn’t venture out of their circles because it is stressful and terrifying.

The main fear however was the difficulty to communicate with my family and friends. Expressing oneself in a foreign language is challenging, uncomfortable and sometimes discouraging, to a lot of my entourage because they don’t want to sound or look stupid. That also implied that a genuine conversation would always be ruined and altered by a third-party. It takes away the spontaneity and creates a disconnect between people. Plus, I hate translating. I get bored and tired after five minutes. It is annoying.

Tradition & Customs

Family always comes first, and sometimes, at the expense of everything else. That is something that almost all cultures share, especially African. My family and I are extremely close and stay connected regardless of our locations. That’s how we maintain our bond. I am a true African. My continent and country’s values run through my bloodstream. I will always have a pied-à-terre either in Congo or in Africa. And I cannot see my kids growing up without knowing nor having a connection to Congo or Africa.

 Marriage

I believe in monogamy. While Congo allows two different status of marriage – monogamy and polygamy, I could never see myself build a life nor bring my child in a different environment. A relationship is hard enough in itself to bring multiple actors into it.

I don’t believe in divorce. As a Christian, marriage is a life commitment and, I strongly believe in “till death do us part.” While it is easy to call it quit in a relationship when one of the partner is unfaithful, in marriage, there is only one option plausible: working it through.

Reality

With all that being said, I ended up falling in love for someone who had always considered “dating” the norm. He was raised in a polygamous family and envisioned his life the same way. When we met, he was still “talking” to other girls and, had no desire to learn or speak French.

This was probably the greatest of life lessons. You see, God has a way to force you to grow by sending your way, situations and people who will have you question yourself. My husband definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone. I was his first African girlfriend and he, my first African-American babe.

He is the demonstrative and touchy-feely type, I am not. At least, not in public. He believed in polygamy, I did not; which became our #1 argument. He is first generation American, of Ghanaian descent, but born and raised in the Bronx. I am from Congo, lived in Paris and settled in New York. That however, didn’t stop us from falling hard for each others and, tying the knot.

Step by Step

I never had that “simple” type of love where you just take it one day at a time. Our story should have ended after a couple of months but we are now going towards our 3rd year together. He taught me how to be patient and how to trust men again. Though I disagree of his “friendly” manners, he is the cutest and most annoying human being ever. Well, my most annoying human being.

I don’t think people see how difficult and pressured intercultural relationships are. Adjusting to one another while remaining “yourself” is the greatest of challenges. You both want to fit in each other’s worlds but at the same time, fight that natural instinct to “colonize” the other. Learning and embracing someone else’s culture are two things that require time, patience and a strong commitment to your partner.

The stereotypes also seem stronger and harder to overcome. Although we might both be Africans, there is a huuuuuge gap between Central and West Africa that goes beyond the language barrier. The Francophone and Anglophone Africa had different experiences through and post-colonization and, that in itself, greatly influenced their people and culture.

For Better AND for Worse

Just like any relationships, there is a lot of work required, even more in an intercultural one. Spending time together, mingling with each other’s family and friends was crucial to understand each others. Until you have seen your partner in his/her natural habitat, you cannot really see their true self, without inhibitions.

We are lucky to be both Africans because our eating habits are very similar. That makes it easier for me since “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” I do plan on learning and speaking his language (Twi) and his, mine (French and Lingala). When? At some point. But definitely before our traditional wedding. Once we have kids, we will definitely emphasize on their rich cultural background. We want them to have a solid understanding and a strong love of their ancestry. Who doesn’t love a polyglot child?

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Cul-de-sac

For the past couple of weeks, I have experienced lots of stress and frustration. The reason is: I feel stuck and, this is no new feeling. I have actually been feeling that way  for the past three years. So this is something I am familiar with, except that it has become unbearable lately because I’m starting to doubt myself.

My frustration stems from my inability to secure a job. It just seems like things are “blocked” for me – like my opportunities are benefitting someone else. Although I have always been successful in my studies, I never seemed able to fully transform that potential into a full-time job. Watching all my friends around me succeed and gradually building their careers is definitely not helping. Don’t get me wrong: I AM ABSOLUTELY HAPPY for them but at the same time, it leaves me wondering when will be my time.I am a human being and jealousy is a natural feeling.

While I am still a full-time graduate student, I had hoped that my first two degrees would have been enough to demonstrate my qualities and potential in the marketplace. Maybe I just have no idea how to sell or brand myself? Maybe I need to be more patient? Maybe you’re not all that special Isis and you need to face it? This frustration has become so invasive that it is starting to impact my relationship. While it is all happening in my head, my body as well is starting to feel it and this is not a good sign.

So today, more than any other days, I finally found the strength to voice my feelings – something that I still struggle with. (Mother Nature might have helped a little here) At 25, I have a bachelor and a masters’ degrees but still no job. My biological clock is starting to tick which only adds fuel to the fire. I am no longer sure whether I want to have a baby now or wait until I have secured a job. Why should I have to choose? Why can’t I simply have both? Why does it always have to be so complicated? I mean, I got to be good at something else than studying right?

Although I have received many words of encouragement from my family, friends and professors to trust the process and be more patient, I am starting to doubt that “my time will come.” And this is unacceptable as a Christian because I know God has a plan for everybody. I’m simply asking for a sign. I know I promised to be more positive and to only see the positive but it is hard. I know I am capable of doing it but right now, I just feel like I have reached a dead-end and it is quite discouraging.

I pray that God gives me the strength to keep up with my job search. I have never been the type to give up anyways. I guess this is just another lesson that life is teaching me and that I should be working harder on my patience. Alas, they don’t call it the mother of virtues for no reason. What I know for sure is that the wait has significantly humbled me.

I Am… Sasha Fierce

The month of love is here with its famous celebration, Valentine’s Day! This is even more special as we will celebrate our sixth month marriage anniversary and, our second year of dating! It is exciting and definitely one of those times where I want to surprise and spoil my man.

For the first time, I can freely unleash my Sasha Fierce and what better occasion than love season. If you know me, I outdo myself when it comes to showing and expressing my love and care when in a relationship. From time to time, I like to switch up things and make sure that we do not fall into the ‘boring couple’ category. I don’t like basic. Never have and never will. Therefore, I make sure to spice it up when necessary, sometimes just because.

So what’s the plan for V-day this year: I have no clue, as usual. lol, I just let my man handle that day. However, I surely have a few tricks up my sleeve, to make sure that I am always ready at all times. Like every woman, I absolutely love feeling and looking sexy & attractive, for myself and for my man. There is no better feeling than that look your bae gives you when you’re smoking hot! Lust and passion are definitely two necessary spices to keep a healthy and exciting relationship.

In order to properly prepare for the occasion, I went ahead to my wax lady last weekend  to handle my business and got a fresh mani-pedi. Another thing that is absolutely important is lingerie. I love it, well actually I am obsessed with lingerie. I like looking good underneath my clothes but above all, I want my man to feel like he’s unwrapping a gift every time he undresses me so I always look for the cute and inciting sets. I have a thing for boudoir lingerie and a clear obsession with lace and bodysuits. My favorite brands are L’Agent by Agent Provocateur, Fleur du Mal and of course Victoria’s Secret, to only name a few.

While lingerie plays a major role this season, I am very excited about Fifty Shades Darker. I devoured the trilogy in two weeks when it came out four years ago and was extremely pleased to see that the movie remained as faithful as possible to the books. Like last year, I managed to get advance tickets for 2/9 except this time, I will be treating bae to diner. From time to time, it is good to show him how much he is appreciated and what better occasion than NYC Restaurant Week. I look forward to it because it will give us an opportunity to take a break from New York fast life and, focus on each others.

Until then, ‘Laters, baby.’

New Year , Same me

Happy New Year!

I hope everybody had an amazing time and that you all spent the holidays with your loved ones. Goodbye 2016 and hello to 2k17 – year of achievement. Although I must admit I was anxious about what the new year would bring, I have set myself into thinking and acting more positively!

The first week of 2017 definitely started off on a good note. I passed all my classes with As; I got my French visa and managed to visit my family in Congo and France. I can’t complain, God has been good so far.

It is obvious that every year, one must anticipate new challenges, redefine and refine objectives and, eventually, establish new ones that will guide them through the new year. Not for me, not this time along. I decided that 2017 would simply be another opportunity to focus on myself, my family and loved ones and on my brand.

This year I want to work on really taking the time to appreciate life, one day at a time. 2016 was tough. I almost lost myself, trying to fight against the wave of events and, I almost drown myself trying to fight the inevitable. 2017 will be the year of achievement and personal enhancement. I need and must trust in myself and into God because worry never brought anything positive.

So new year, definitely same me. Setting up surrealistic resolutions has become such a trend in my generation in the past decade that we all end each year disappointed at ourselves and reflecting on what-ifs. I just hope that this new year will be filled with nothing but love and joy for each and every one of us.

2016 you taught me the value of life, you took away the greatest of souls but most importantly, you humbled me. In 2017 I want to become the best version of myself, worry less of the things I have zero control over and, maximize on the achievable.

Isis.

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