NYT Writing Prompt: Great Conversations

It sounds like laughter punctuating rhythmic, meaningful dialogue. It is unpretentious. Deep topics share the limelight with casual stories about how someone’s child woke up 4 times last night and the chaotic morning traffic in the new town someone else has moved to.

Everyone is sitting around the table, splayed out on comfy couches, or wrapped up in balls on the floor. People’s recent accomplishments are celebrated and mistakes are discussed openly. Nobody feels judged or like they have not earned enough stripes to be welcomed. People are there because they want to be there. There may be slow music in the background; the décor may or may not be to ones taste; there is always an array of food.

The above is what I imagine when I think of an evening sharing a meal and having great conversations with friends #goodtimes. I am grateful for the opportunities that I have had to be able to travel to several countries and participate in occasions like this with people from different walks of life. Moments like these enable me to step behind stereotypes and Instagram filters to connect with ‘real’ people.

When I travel, make friends and share meals with locals and other travellers it reveals much more to me about culture than any book or Google search will ever provide. It reinforces the fact that despite what the media propagates, not all Africans are poor, not all Asians like Maths and not all Southern Europeans are lazy. It reminds me why I love cosmopolitan cities like London and Paris – and why although I will probably always be more at home with the black girl with the afro hair whose parents eat the same food as mine – I can still chill pretty comfortably with the young ginger father who is new to the south of France and wondering where he can buy Vaseline for his baby’s bottom. We have much more in common than we may initially think we do.

It also highlights to me how sad it is when people fail to enlighten themselves about those who are ‘different’ from them. It amazes me that in the 21st century, people still think that being young, black and male is synonymous with being slightly shady (this was demonstrated when at a 30th birthday party, a middle aged white woman interrupted my friend who was talking about his PhD topic to ask if he knew where she could go and buy some weed. N.B: She wasn’t asking him because she thought that he was hip and into trendy ‘alternative’ recreational activities).

Great conversations occur when people are willing to listen and be present. They occur on long bus journeys, via debates on social media and at dinners like the one I described above, but they also occur in silence when you take time for self-evaluation and are open to give yourself some home truths.

Let’s take time to get to know the people around us. You don’t have to go very far, just relax, be comfortable and start by smiling and saying hello to your neighbour. #goodtimes

 

 

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On new motherhood

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Both images by Deun Ivory

 

I had a multitude of emotions when I first found out I was pregnant. I was nervous and excited about being a mum. Although we ‘planned’ to get pregnant and I knew that I definitely wanted children, I was not 100% sure that the timing was right. I had so many goals that I wanted to achieve, and wasn’t sure how I could accomplish them whilst being a mother. I was scared about being responsible for someone else’s life and worried that I would lose my identity.

At the same time, however, I could not wait to meet my baby and dreamed about all the joyous moments we would share. I smiled at the thought of having a mini-me wrap their finger in mine; gurgle, crawl, walk, come for cuddles and talk. I looked forward to being part of the network of mothers who put their heart and soul into loving and raising champions.

When they handed my daughter to me in the hospital, I lay there shocked at the intensity of it all. It felt like the most natural thing in the world and pushing her out gave me a feeling of empowerment, but it also felt traumatising. I felt like I was part of a miracle. I was in physical pain, mentally exhausted and didn’t even have the energy to comprehend that they were handing me a baby and how my life was about to change, but I was so grateful to God that she was there, alive and well. I vowed to be the best mum possible to her.

Now that I’m actually living the daily grind of motherhood. I can say that it is incredibly beautiful and all consuming 🙂 😦 >:D 😥  😀 :/ ^^’ ❤ 😀 o_O. It is constant prayer and compassion. It is over-worrying that I’m doing everything wrong and amazement at my ability to do things I have never done before. It is playing breastfeeding by the ear and hoping that my child is not starving. It is trusting in my motherly intuition that my child is not sick, whilst googling every symptom just to check. It is feeling guilty when my child is crying and I simply just want a moment to myself in silence – to do nothing but stare at the wall, peruse Pinterest for DIY ideas I don’t have the time to do, or read a book.

Motherhood is believing in yourself. It is being patient as you and your child both learn and grow. It is trusting that you have that mum magic. It is willing your child to sleep so that you can sleep and then staying up all night staring at them to make sure they are still breathing. It is crazy. It is repeat insomnia. It is being tired and overtired. It is being somebody’s safe space and giving all you have. It is learning to love your self correctly. It is being in love and having your heart live its own life outside of you. It is delivering on your goals and dreams. It is people questioning what you do all day. It is you questioning what you do all day and then wondering how you did all you did some days. It is unmet deadlines and messy rooms. Motherhood is spit up on your new outfits and baby smiles. Motherhood is delightful and it is hard. It is continuously connecting and incessantly learning.

Motherhood is truly a gift and whilst it is crazy, I’m evolving and I’m grateful for it.

10 things I love about you…

They say behind every successful man is a great woman. I don’t know about every woman, but I can definitely say that for me the reverse is also true. Behind a lot of my growth and key achievements has stood my husband. He has prayed for me, encouraged me, pulled me up when I’m not at my best and even when he annoys me he somehow always makes me smile. My husband is my rock. I love that after so many years we are still so close and have developed a rhythm. I love that we are a team. I pray that we forever share a love of God, travel, literature, food, movies and old homes with lots of character and modern comforts.

Thank you for believing in me. Thank you for being my king, my best friend– a true captain of inestimable value. Here is to building a beautiful present and future. Here are the 10 things I love about you (amongst many and in no particular order :-)).

  1. I love the way you laugh. It is infectious.
  2. That I can still talk to you for hours about any and everything.
  3. How you love and respect me and constantly invest in our marriage.
  4. That you always kiss my forehead before you sleep.
  5. That you buy me apple crumble and custard whenever you go near my favourite crumble shop and that if you are home before me you always ask what I would like to eat.
  6. Wake me up super early to pray and encourage me to spend more time in the word.
  7. Set regular family goal review sessions to make sure we are both working towards fulfilling our vision.
  8. Send me random articles that stimulate my thinking.
  9. I love that you give me my space but also your time.
  10. That you are so fun and down to earth yet super disciplined.

On Writing…

I write because I enjoy writing.  It helps me explore my thoughts and express my understanding of the world around me.

I write because it helps me remember that I have learnt some things and am still capable of learning. In fact, writing reminds me that I am capable of anything. It helps me document my growth in areas that I would otherwise forget.

I write because I often struggle with writing and believe that is only through working on my craft that I can become better.

I write because I care about words – how they fit together, what they mean, imply and because I love how they carry all of our stories.

I write because my mother worked too hard for me not to try.

I write because I want my future children to be proud of me.

I write so I can be proud of myself.

I write to inspire others to be better.

I write because I can.