I have felt worthless and invisible. I have wallowed in barrels of self-pity and almost drowned in self-doubt and hatred. I have considered suicide because I couldn't stand the sight of anything vibrant. The colors were too bright. I feared they'd shine light...
2014 has already proven to be extraordinary and divine! Every January, we meet as a family and outline our goals for the year. We prioritize them and plan for them financially. Of course, we know that the unforeseen will happen, but we try to prepare ourselves for those hurdles as well, at least in terms of having a financial cushion if needed.
This year we planned to travel as much as possible for leisure, to establish a firm educational format for our daughter, to continue developing our community here in Singapore and plan for the one we will join when we return to the states, to complete projects that have been on the burner for more than a year already, to step forward on entrepreneurial visions we’ve been given, and to conceive our second child before the end of the year.
It’s March, and we’ve already traveled to Thailand & Sydney as a family, and I’ve traveled to Bali (again) for a Girls’ Trip. Each venture was AMAZING!! In January, I began home-schooling my daughter formally and she is thriving; already reading site words, using phonics to read basic words, counting and adding in English, Swahili, and Chinese (we’re working on subtraction), exploring the world around us through the lens of science, and learning more and more about our history and geography. She can identify every country we’ve traveled, the continent of origin of mankind, and all of the countries where her friends have families on a map. And, she’s only 2 1/2. (I have to say though, this is mainly due to her love of learning than anything I’m doing. I have other students like this, and I have those who aren’t. Every child is different, and more specifically, learns differently.)
As an educator, I’ve been developing a curriculum for her since infancy, but this is the first time I’m implementing it on a schedule and with other participants. She is also enrolled in dance and a drop-off Chinese class, so that I can have a much needed break a few hours a week. The curriculum I use is African-centered and uses the methods of teaching to a student’s learning style rather than teaching in one uniform way. The closest resemblance is a Montessori Model, but I implore lessons that are culturally enhancing as well. It is extremely important to us that our daughter knows who she is and what that means in the context of the world we’re living and the the global community-at-large.
One of the ways we ensure that she does see herself is by surrounding ourselves with a community of people that share our culture and desire for expressing and exchanging it with others. Of course we also immerse ourselves in the truly rich and diverse cultures of which Singapore is replete. However, we understand the value of knowing and loving yourself first in order to fully embrace anyone else without the desire to emulate, imitate, or assimilate.
Before leaving the states, we prayed consistently to have a village, a true community built around the shared love of God and each other. Who would’ve ever thought we’d find that in Singapore?! We had to travel to the other side of the world to get it, but we finally do have what we’ve been searching for since we married. The unfortunate part is that we all know this is temporary because everyone is here on an assignment. Once it’s complete, the adventure here is as well and the community changes. But, at least we have the prototype, and we’re growing. We see each other regularly, support each other in our respective endeavors, engage our children with one another, and empower each other to be great. We see each other for who we are in a world that has tried to make us invisible, criminal, or targets.
The community we’ve helped to build here has been an even greater catalyst to begin planning for establishing and creating what we desire whenever we do return to the states, where we are fully aware that every type of “-ism” exists and the love of guns exceeds that of humanity. Hence, our development of the “The Back to Black List,” a list of proposed solutions to help restore a thriving and healthy black community. Again, we know we have to build ourselves first before we can idealize and eventually obtain a world free of racism. (See “Wide Awake Parts I & II,” & “Why We Must Forgive.”)
As we’ve been checking off our goal sheet, I finally buckled down and focused on the many writing projects I have on my plate. I’ve started and almost completed several different works ranging from cultural critiques to marital and relationship insight for adults and teens. Almost doesn’t count when checking off the list, so I have to take the time and discipline to focus on each project. One is a series of children’s books, and though they are all written, the greatest challenge has been finding an illustrator and publisher. You wouldn’t believe some of the experiences I’ve had in that process. It’s been challenging and discouraging to say the least, but I think I’ve finally found the right match. Keep your fingers crossed, say a prayer for me, and get ready to purchase your book before the year ends.
We’ve always been entrepreneurial and we share the goal of empowering the disenfranchised throughout the Diaspora, so we’re still steadfastly working on expanding the Black Girl Speaks brand (www.blackgirlspeaks.com), as well as some other enterprises we’re developing. I think, aside from wanting to empower and employ others who have been marginalized, one of our desires is to avoid being in a position where someone else, “The Man,” is in complete control of our financial security. We lose sleep over the thought of it.
As expected, the unexpected has happened. After setting our goals for the year and finally reaching a place where we feel “at home,” we got the news that my husband’s company plans to move us to Hong Kong before our lease is renewed in June! Now, we are absolutely loving the life we have in Singapore. Despite the restrictions, and there are many, it really is a wonderful place to live with a young family. Of course, this experience has been enhanced by all of the aforementioned, but Singapore itself is full of reasons to want to stay. Our neighborhood is conveniently located in a cultural enriched area amidst shops, incredible restaurants, the only 24-hour shopping complex, all of the public transportation outlets, parks, and most of our friends are near. You can understand why my immediate response was, “I’m not going. I’m staying here.” I have since journeyed from refusal, to denial, and now I’m at a place of peace with whatever happens. I didn’t want to talk about it at all, but I finally shared the news with friends of ours during my Bali Girls’ Trip. I just didn’t want a long, drawn-out farewell. Now, I realize by SPEAKing it, I released the anxiety that coupled it and I can just be tranquil and reassured that God will continue to shock us with blessings wherever we are in the world.
In fact, He already has! Shortly after discovering that Hong Kong was on the horizon, we found out the new addition to our family was as well. I’m elated to share that we are expecting Baby Bwelé aka Baby Blue aka Bean Pie in September!! Now, any normal person would probably initially panic at the thought of moving internationally with one child in tow and another on the way to an unknown place where language and culture are barriers and without any reference for physicians. And, I did, because I have normal person tendencies. Yet, I also have super-natural provision and the certainty that all will be well as it has been. Wherever we go, we’re blessed. (But, I really, really, really want to stay Lord.)