New Facebook page

So, I did a thing. Ankara & Lattes, the blog is now on Facebook! You will find me on this link here

This has been a long time coming as I tried to figure out which platform would serve best as a home for the kind of conversations I want to have with women, especially young women.

Let’s keep the conversation going!

Limitless

I wrote a note to myself in January. A blessing. It said “God is doing a new thing in your life…”. It spoke of transformation, a flood of good things, a blossoming that would be beautiful to behold. Sometimes I wonder if I am blossoming at all. Then I look around me and laugh because I am surrounded by blessings, dreams come alive and answered prayer everywhere I look.

This is quite a wonderful thing because I am generally a very ambitious person. So much so that every five years I hold a moonshot thinking session and make it my mission to dream up the wildest dreams I can imagine for my life. I take these big ideas and turn them into the biggest, hairiest, most audacious goals for myself. Then I get to work!

I did this in 2019, gifted myself a trip and spendt a couple of days in glorious solitude and silence mapping out the next chapter of my life, designing the next version of my. A lot of things I am working on for my life currently, the crazy ones at least, are things I dreamed of on that trip. Everything I am becoming emerged from that blueprint God and I created that time.

Year one is such a high because you have beginners energy, beginners luck and all of that on your side. Then things get real, very quick in year two.

I am now in year three of this current cycle which is mid-stream. Every December I pause and take stock of all of the wins and acknowledge the fails. The energy can begin to wane but you need to focus on how far you have come and celebrate all of your wins. The disappointments can start to mount up and make you want to give up, focus on what you have learnt from all of it and how you will use that to do better.

I am writing this to say “Go ahead and dream big! Aim for somewhere between crazy ambitious and science fiction. Then get to work. There is no dream too big to be lived by you”.

In 1961 JF Kennedy, then President of America set an ambitious target to land an American on the moon before the decade was out. It seemed impossible at the time but in 1969 it happened. You too can do the impossible for your life. Dream it then their your everything into making it happen.

May God go with you!

Stop trying to find yourself, you aren’t lost.

Social media has given us an unhealthy fixation with finding ourselves. It’s like getting back to the older versions of ourselves will make the life we are living now become just as great as life was in the past we romanticize. When you are feeling stuck this can be comforting but it’s an unhealthy fixation with the past and a wrong understanding of how we evolve as people. Just as butterflies go through metamorphosis, changing from pupae to butterfly, human identity is not a constant state.

We are preoccupied with loss of identity and constantly trying to figure out who we are. The thing is – you do not lose or forget yourself like something that can be misplaced or stolen. You change. We all do. There’s seasons to our lives as we evolve into different versions of ourselves.

This process can involve burying parts of ourselves that no longer serve. Or taking up new ways of being to suit where life has taken us. Sometimes, if you are not in tune with yourself it is easy to wake up one day and feel like you don’t recognise the life you are living. And if you had a particular version of yourself that you really liked it can feel like you “lost” yourself there.

Instead of spending a lifetime trying to be the “old you”, however exciting that person was, be more intentional about your evolution and take bold strides towards who you want to become. Let the past be, who you were back then served their purpose. Step into the future more intentionally and deliberately mold the upcoming version/s of you into someone you can be proud of.

Creative muses: Upile Chisala

Yet another creative muse of mine is Upile Chisala, a poet and published author this time. Her pen spits beautiful words that speak to my soul of healing, power, love and other languages I can understand. I also love how visually creative she is. I won’t say much but just feast on these, please.

Creative muses: Nneka Julia

Nneka J – creative muse #2

One of my main creative muses is Nneka Julia. Though she is actually a photographer it’s her evolution that drew me in and continues to have me in awe.

I came across Nneka when I was struggling with my own authenticity, felt out of touch with my voice and was increasingly tempted to create what I thought would get the most likes and shares. Everybody likes a big following, right? Then there was Nneka with her 65,5k followers on Instagram yet she was raw, original, candid, deep, everything I am and wanted to bring to the TL.

Something about how deeply sitted and comfortable in her talent felt just right and I wanted to know how she got there. So I read up on her, scrolled all the way back to when she joined IG. I found something intriguing and learnt an important lesson about evolution.

Back when Nneka joined IG she was barely getting 10 likes on a post. Her feed was full of visuals completely different from now and nothing much was happening for her back then. Her presence didn’t carry the force of her personality and charisma- not in the way it does now.

Then she started to show face more, bought a real camera, started gaining skills and the photography definitely improved. Nneka has a love for travel, food, family and people watching just like me and she started to capture that with her camera. That’s when the following started to grow and 10 likes turned to 500 then a 1000 and shot into the tens of thousands.

But Nneka only really exploded when she brought her voice onto the platform. You see, the woman has an amazing gift with words and an angels voice! And somewhere along this creative journey she began writing and finding these wonderful captions, wordsmithing and telling the most beautiful stories about all her many passions. Her podcast, Passing Through, is a gem too and another milestone in the evolution of Nneka

The lesson I take from all of this is we must evolve if we are to tap into the true potential of our creative talents. Nnekas is at the top of her game as a story teller and shows how evolution can take through many stages into something different from what we started out. Nneka’s creative evolution shows we can master more than one medium too, if we like. The channel does not matter.

You can see your own evolution, or lack of, clear as day when you scroll through your feed. Go look through yours. Are you bringing your all as a creative? Are you growing?

Creative muses: Finding Paola

Paola Mathe – creative muse #1

It’s no secret that writing is my first love but one of my earliest memories is of my father teaching me how to use a camera. Photography has always drawn me though I am not a very good shot myself. It’s no doubt then women creatives using photography as a medium fascinate me no end. One of my muses is Paola Mathe who I came across on Instagram where she goes by Finding Paola.

Paola is incredibly talented and is constantly bringing really amazing visuals to the timeline. She has a love for color and attention to detail that make every shot feel like it a labour of love.

What awes me the most about Paola is how her creativity is consistent throughout the different seasons of her life. It’s unrelenting. She just does not stop. Watching her create while struggling with health issues, with new motherhood, with her second pregnancy, while growing her business etc had been a life lesson for me.

In every circumstance there is a story to be told using your kind of creativity as a medium and telling our stories is necessary not only to purge our demons but to let others know they are not alone and to bring beauty into the world in ways only creative beings can.

Winter blogging challenge: Let’s go

It’s time again for the Afrobloggers Winter blogging challenge – a month long digital story telling festival. It’s easily the highlight of the year for bloggers on the continent and definitely takes the boring out of winter.

I hadn’t realised until now just how much the Afrobloggers platform has given me a sense of community and introduced me to so many creatives on the continent. It’s not so lonely out here anymore! And seeing as this week is themed Creatives Week, it’s for us fam. It’s all about us!

As a tribute to my fellow creatives my very first post for this challenge shares some tips for keeping the creative juices flowing this June.

1. Let the big magic find you: You see the universe is full of ideas looking for a home, for a kind soul to bring them to life. Ideas can be unruly and come to you at the weirdest times, they can arise from the most banal moments and they come in all sorts of forms. Allowing the magic to find you involves welcoming ideas when they come knocking, even the not so big ones. It means sometimes acting on them even if it’s not your best work. Because ideas are like visitors, if you are nice to them they come back and they give more. So play nice. Be a good host otherwise they will go off and find someone else to inhabit.

2. Schedule posts in advance: We all know it’s not everyday that the ink from our pens flows non-stop, not everyday photoshoots yield art for that vlog – get the drift? Prepare content in advance, write and proof or shoot and edit ahead of time, schedule your blog posts to publish when you need them to. That’s how you get to “post daily” and still live your life. Befriend Hootsuite or whatever autoscheduler you prefer for sharing to social media. Pick 1-2 days a week when you do content creation, let the beauty lose and then spend your days engaging with your followers not worrying about what to write/photograph/video/podcast.

3. Rinse and repeat: Find the kind of content that really gets people going, that draws people into your circle, the stuff you create that goes viral – do it again and again and again. I mean the point is to put good stuff out into the world, to create masterpieces! Check your statistics on the regular and do more of what’s resonating with people. Don’t be boring 😜

4. Have fun: The idea of all of this is to have fun creating. Do you best, do it well. The rest is up to the algorithm!

Here’s to a great winter challenge. Remember to like, comment and share each other’s content. Let’s go comrades!

Unlearning sorrow

Art by Keith Marlett

We carry a dark sorrow,
Generations worth of hurt and pain.
It’s a sorrow too heavy for words
Lurking in the shadows so you don’t know that you got it
That it’s got you
Weighing you down
Plaguing your dreams
Haunting your relationships
Unacknowledged

Say to great mother today
I see you.
You matter now, you always did
Rest, my love, let us make our own;
Our own joys
Maybe our own sorrows

Meraki – values to live by

The workplace today is overcrowded with talented and educated people. It is hard to stand out, get noticed and move ahead in your career. There are a few things that are guaranteed to set you apart though – “meraki” is one of them.

Meraki is commonly described as “to put your soul into your work” or “to do something with love”. In a society where we often see work as an almost mechanical doing of what needs to be done for the pay it may seem weird to use words like “soul” and “love” in the workplace.

The word Meraki refers to a concept that will change your life. It’s about work ethic and how we should bring ourselves to our work not as beasts of burden but as craftspeople, imbuing our soul into everything we produce. Meraki is about doing things with the utmost care, giving each task our undivided attention. It’s about doing things with a willing heart and letting our love shine through in the product or service we give.

Meraki is about being diligent in your craft, it’s about giving excellence each and every time.

Anyone can learn a skill, anyone can gain experience but very few have meraki. It goes beyond work ethic.

When you have meraki your work literally speaks for you, customers prefer you and ask for you by name because you will have “that thing” they can’t even name.

We all have it if we care enough to take the time and put our heart into things.

You don’t even have to like your job to have meraki. You could be scrubbing toilets and still do it with heart. Meraki is what will carry you through to the job of your dreams and have you doing with you love. It’s an investment in yourself that will make you unforgettable.

Setting boundaries for web conferencing

Last week I averaged five hours of virtual calls every day with frequent requests from people to turn on my video. People are very into video calling now that we are working from home but it is an over familiar way of working that’s become more normal than it should be.

For the most part I do not turn on video because my internet is not that good but also because virtual working is taxing enough without having to mind how you look, how you sound, where in your house you sit and how you position yourself when not talking etc. There is peer pressure though, even online and when asked to turn on camera so people can see you I find myself obliging usually just so I am not the spoil sport. I shared this sentiment on social media recently and had an interesting discussion about setting boundaries with people around video calls. Maybe its time we rock this boat.

“No is a complete sentence. If I am working from home, wearing an old tee shirt, no bra, and my face reflects my state of mind and if I really don’t want to show face I just say “Sorry, I can’t get on video right now”. Full stop”. – Francoise Moudouthe

I felt that. Its a firm boundary set. No excuses made. You are simply saying you do not want to use video and not trying to qualify with it with some excuse that you think people may accept and not take offence with.

“Is there a reason we need video for this call?” – Francoise Moudouthe

Now there’s another response that I found really interesting because 99.99% of the time there is no reason you need video for the call. People just want to see each other. If you find that intrusive and unnecessary then just don’t do it.

I know we showed up for meetings in person with no complaints pre-COVID but here we are letting people into our homes via video for months now because virtual meetings is all we do. It is invasive and weird on so many ways.

We don’t talk about this much but here goes;

  1. Asking people you work with to turn on video is as awkward as inviting yourself to their home for drinks after work. Contexts differ of course but for the most part we never attempted to go to co-workers homes before unless enthusiastically invited. Why are we so cavalier about entering each others homes via video now?
  2. Many people do not have home offices and work in all sorts of weird locations inside their homes. Video calling requires that they find or create a corner that’s presentable enough for them to show to the world. In a time when just showing up for work is an act of strength and resilience, that’s a lot to ask.
  3. People are going through a lot, the pandemic is emotionally draining in every possible way – getting up, dressing up and showing up daily is sometimes too much. Insisting on video means folk cannot just show up while not looking their very best for you. They are forced to put in extra effort with energy they may not have just so you can see them for 2 minutes or half an hour.

I have switched off my video setting as a default and only show face when absolutely required, my profile picture is good enough for you to get a sense what I look like if we have never met before and it we already know each other my voice is proof of life. And that is that about that. I also keep a scarf handy just in case I actually feel like it and decide to switch to video for like one minute.

What are your thoughts on video calling during this pandemic? Is it a “Yes, please” or “NOOOO!” for you?

100 posts milestone!

Red wine layout by Vicuschka at Creative Market

Gather here for a minute and celebrate with me. Over the weekend I reached a small milestone – 100 posts on this blog. It’s been just over a year and a half since I started Ankara & Lattes. 20 or so months of finding my voice and re-learning how to speak my truth. A big shout out to the 9,000 plus readers who have passed this way and read and had conversations with me and shared my work. You are the best!

This blog is a journey I began unsure. Not because I was new to blogging (I am not) but because for a while I forgot who I was, let myself be silenced, lost my magic. I shut down a wildly successful blog and started again in search of authenticity. I was becoming a different woman than I had been and wanted to redefine my craft, my voice, my brand.

It’s been rough. I have been unsure at times. Incoherent, sometimes. All over the place, at others. And just sheer brilliance every so often!

100 posts later and I am more aunthentic than I have ever been, just raw and genuine. I write more genuinely, more consistently, have a growing readership and am looking to build a brand around A & L. Stay with me. This is going to be fun and real and just very very good (if I say so myself).

Get off your phone and live

Living in this digital age is both a dream come true and a nightmare. It’s really convenient that we can easily connect to most of what we need on our phones and computers; now more than ever. No lie.

I found myself lying in bed, sleepless yet again the other day and just scrolling through social media on the phone. You tell yourself you are killing time until the sleep comes whereas it’s the phone actually keeping you awake. Just like it’s keeping us away from so many other things.

Sharing pictures of amazing stuff publicly has become such a thing we have started to photograph breathtaking moments instead of experiencing them. We see looking at life though the screen instead of actually living it.

Our senses are constantly overwhelmed because every moment of the day we are peaking into the perfectly curated lives of others and processing gloomy news from all over the world.

Could this be why there are so many people feeling like they don’t have enough money, enough time, enough power and respect, enough of the good life?

When you hardly look around you to experience and appreciate what you have you end up stressed and pressured chasing after what you think you don’t have.

We don’t speak about digital wellbeing enough so people don’t realize what they see doing to themselves by always having the phone in hand. We don’t realize all the time we are losing while glued to our gadgets.

But how do we claim back your time, unplug and actually live.

1. Phone free mornings

That habit of waking up and going straight for your phone. Stop it. Set a time every morning that’s strictly no phone. It could be just that first hour or you could actually just only open your phone after 8.

2. Don’t let your phone be a distraction

Put the phone away when working, when in the presence of other people, when watching TV etc. The point is if you find yourself multitasking with the phone, put it away and focus on the other thing whatever it is.

3. Wind down in the evening

It’s easy to scroll past midnight. Don’t do it. Have a set time when you put the phone away, it’s fine it’s job for the day. I think I will make mine 7PM and devote the rest of the day to family, myself and getting a good night’s sleep.

Wellness is important, especially now that we are in the middle of a pandemic. Getting our digital lives under control is one way to take back control of our health, actually notice life happening and deepen relationships with those who matter the most in real life.

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