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Friday Reflections

1.) Happy New Year! When does it become too late to say this?

2.) I can't believe I'm back here so soon.

3.) "Your twenties is for firing dudes who don't act right." - Judge Lynn.  Preach! I will add, any age is a good age for firing stupid ass boys :).

4.) "Get a  large life so even if a dude does not end up in it you still enjoy it." I just discovered Judge Lynn through the video in number 3 and she is on fayaaa!

5.) How Vera's marriage ended. There is sooooo much packed in this post; so much lessons. I am so happy for Vera, I gotta say. Thank God for systems available to protect women, and we need champions for such systems to be created in developing countries too.

6.) Also, I am so happy Vera did not cower or bow to the shame and secrecy everyone expects Women to embody, so they can suffer in silence. NO MORE. EXPOSE SHAMELESS MEN. EXPOSE THEM.

7.) "It's okay for your plans to change—even  if you have had those plans for a long time." Sometimes we hold on to dreams just because we have had them for a long while.  Thirty things Dami learnt from 30.

8.) Everything on that list was actually profound no matter how straightforward they seemed. But something else from that list that needs to be louder for those at the back: "Just because you’re open about your life doesn’t make you a fool- there is nothing special about being secretive"

9.) That's it for today. Let's just collectively ignore the affairs of the world, and all the hormonal and overly emotional men at the helm of affairs. Yuck.

An End-of-the-Year Note Plus the Most Popular Posts on the Blog in 2019

Hiya! And welcome back. An interesting irony is that if I blogged all year with the same consistency I have had this month of December, this blog would have been really productive. But it is what it is.

Everyone is currently doing end of the decade reviews. The interesting thing is, end-of-the-year reviews were cumbersome enough already, now imagine adding end-of-the-decade reviews on top of that, it's wild out there on Instagram. I don't want to be to so cynical as to discard these reviews altogether. I will say though, that they can be very ridiculous and narcissistic. You should therefore not feel any pressure to perform this review, especially not so publicly. Not everyone achieved something grand in the past decade. Hell, not everyone can remember the past decade accurately enough to make an assessment of it, you know. It is absolutely fine to want to move forward instead of taking stock especially if it hurts you. I always talk about the seductive nature of pessimism: this need to couch every aspect of the year as terrible or sad or woeful even though, for many people it was a mix of the good and the bad. Or at worst, it was mundane or normal. Normal is good. I love normal. Finally on this issue, time is a social construct (for real. I joke about this), but end of the year/decade/century, whatever, are mostly arbitrary boundaries human beings created.

So instead of another  review of my life, which I know you have absolutely no interest in, I decided to highlight the top ten most popular posts on this blog this year. I did not really blog this year. But I liked the pace with which I blogged. When I wrote here, it was only when I absolutely wanted to and I think that enthusiasm seeped through my words. It was never a chore. I liked that.  Otherwise, I have been writing in other places too. So I'm really glad and proud that I can confidently call myself a Writer now. It's always been one of my biggest joys/dreams/aspirations: to be a Writer.

Without anymore ado, here goes:

Cheers to 2020!

10.) The tenth most popular was How to Make Decisions When Your Faith Wavers. This, I think is very apropos for entering a new year. Because make no mistake, you faith will probably waver every now and then. What happens when it does? What happens when you don't know what to do next? When you don't know if you will fail (again) or if something is God's will for you? I talked about how to handle such challenges in that post.  I can definitely understand the appeal of this post. The interesting part of that post is that I desperately needed that post for myself at the time I wrote it.

9.) Number nine was pretty phenomenal for me too; it was On the Joy of Really Living. It changed the game for me, and it made me bolder to dream. Something about writing that (or actually realizing what I wrote) woke me up. I hope in this new year, you really live. I mean, relax, enjoy, eat, drink and be merry because the Bible tells me in Ecclesiastes 3:11-13 that's God's gift to us: to enjoy life. And to remember that whatever your hands find to do, do them well. I hope that you don't just exist but try your hardest to pursue your passions, your hobbies...I'm not talking about doing things just to make money off of them a la side hustles. I'm talking about sharing your gifts with the world and doing things because they make you happy. And if you don't yet have something you're passionate about in that sense, keep looking. You will find it.

8.) This was the second part of the Eating My Way Through Lagos series. I mean, it was about food... and in Lagos. Enough said. Don't forget, if it inspires you to visit Lagos, Nigeria or to visit any of those places mentioned. You should let me know, please!

7.) I'm so glad a Book of the Month was one of the most popular posts. This one was on the book, Woke Church. Again, not surprising at all. It's a phenomenal book, and could not be more important for the world we live in now.

6.) Sometimes I like to use this blog as a medium for ranting. So thank you for always indulging me ha. Cos y'all loved this: A Sunday Ramble on Being Carefree, Being Anxious, and Being Gifted. I gotta tell you a secret: I have this post permanently opened in my browser to remind me to live audaciously. I hope it inspires you to be bolder in 2020, to be more authentic, and to be a little bit more carefree. After the happenings around number 9's post, I was now able to admit certain things to myself, like compliment myself.

5.) This was quite recent haha. It was basically about how traveling and self-care are overrated. I was actually a bit worried I would step on toes with that post. Turns out, tons of people really agreed with me.

4.) Sigh. This one still breaks my heart. It is and will always be For Rachel. Heaven truly gained an amazing soul this year when Rachel Held Evans passed away. I did not even know her personally but I just wanted, needed to write something in her memory and to honor her. Plus I think I needed to grieve her too. She was so young. I'm glad the post resonated with many, both here and on Instagram.

3.) We are warming up now. I wrote about the BEST, most PROFOUND piece of entertainment I consumed this year: When They See Us. And to say people liked this post would be an understatement. Again, I'm truly glad I wrote when I felt like rather than writing...just because. If you haven't seen When They See Us, please watch it on Netflix

2.) The second most popular post on this blog this year was about love, relationships, dating, marriage, and why you should never settle for less. I rarely talk about love and romance on this blog because enough people do that. But once in a while, I like to share my truths. This was an extremely long post but it is becoming one of the most popular posts on the blog EVER. So maybe I should talk about that more? Nah. Lol. Another unconventional thing I do on this blog is to write what is heartfelt and not necessarily based on trends. I'm a purist in that sense.

1.) DRUMROLL!!!!!  Hahahaha. The most popular post this year and now among the most popular posts on the blog ever was my very first post on grad school and academia on this blog.  I wrote about the differences between getting a PhD and a Medical Degree. Wild. The popularity of this post is wild. For the longest time, I had been very careful and deliberate to separate my life in academia from my blog/online life. I had gone the extra mile to make sure I never even mentioned the fact that I was getting a PhD, much less talking about it. But I realized there was not enough information and honestly there are too few black girls doing this. So apart from wanting to share resources and tips,  I also wanted to be a little bit visible for others coming along, which took courage because I'm an in-her-shell type girl. I have not regretted the decision to share at all. And I will probably share more of that.

There we have it. The ten most popular posts of the year on this blog. I'm probably not going to blog more next year. I will however, truly write when I can and when it matters. Thank you so much for always hanging around despite how sporadically I post. Thank you for sharing this space with me, and for always reading. Please definitely stop by in the next year.

Happy new year! I truly wish for you in 2020, joy, goodness, and peace.



Food Chat: Cafe Lift in Philadelphia

Hiya! So as promised in this post, I'm back with more food posts. Since there is only so much restaurants I can visit myself, plus the more the merrier, right? Anyway so I will be talking to people about their food and restaurant experiences. I figured it's easier to ask people a couple of questions than have them commit to an entire post; ain't nobody got time for that. This way I can ask questions about their experience and then either narrate the rest myself (based on what they say) or just show you pictures. If you are interested in sharing about your food experiences, feel free to hit me up by the way. Make sure you have food pictures, though; not necessarily professional food pictures. And this can be from anywhere in this world, literally. I guess I should say "anywhere in this universe" not world, but you get the gist.

The first person is Abby, who had brunch somewhere in Philadelphia while traveling.

Hi there! Welcome. So tell us, where did you have this food in Philly, what restaurant?
Hi Ife. Thank you for having me. It was at Cafe Lift on N 13th street.

How did you hear about it? Or are you are frequent visitor there?
Nope. It was my very first time, and I found it by Googling, really. I just searched for a brunch place and it looked like the nicest option I found.

So... spill the beans (pun intended). What did you like about it?
The food, definitely! It was really nice and I was not disappointed. The ambience was also fantastic! There was something about the vibe, I'm not really sure how to describe it. Both inside and outside looked very nice. There was also parking available. It was a weekend so we didn't have to pay for parking. I had avocado toast with runny eggs and it was REALLY good. Someone else in my party had French toast and, another had pancakes. I'm pretty sure everyone was very satisfied with their food. So that was good. It was also very affordable, with meals ranging from $9 to $15 or thereabout. There was also  wide range of options on the menu.

What did you not like about it?
Hmm several things to be honest. First of all, the wait; it was just sooo long. I understand it was around noon on a Sunday, but honestly it was excessive. They first told us it was a 45-minute wait, which we were absolutely fine with. We tried to walk around and stuff, but every time we would return to ask, they kept saying it was not yet our turn. I mean, it was overcrowded so I saw their point, right? Still, it was a freezing November day and it became uncomfortable really fast. Ultimately we waited for one hour and thirty minutes before we got seated. The hosts were really gracious about it and nice, but I was over it at that point. By the time we sat down, they had run out of chocolate so most of the beverages we wanted were not available. No mocha or latte etc. Remember, we had been in the freezing weather so we really needed something hot. Then at some point there was a dirty glass cup on our table. Yeah that was a mess. And have I mentioned how crowded and NOISY it was?

Hmm that sounds stressful. Would you return though?
I don't know, really. I did like the food but I can't justify that wait time and that noise, whew.

Thanks Abby! 

Well there you have it folks: Cafe Lift in Philadelphia. If you are ever there, and can stand a long wait and crowd, perhaps, you would check it out? If you ever do, please let me know and send some pictures, of course! Haha. Now enjoy some more food pictures!



The Danger of Lying And More

Thanks to some random (and insignificant) happenings coupled with the kind of reflection that only happens at the end of the year, I have been thinking a lot about lying and its effects on interpersonal relationships, not to mention how hurtful it can be. I usually joke that the thing the white people hate being called the most (after racist) is "liar". But it's true; people flare up and turn red when you imply they just lied. But they lie anyway. Just like people are racist anyway. But petty lies have become even more irritating than usual. Why do people lie? Why are people so deceptive even when the circumstance does not warrant it? The thing about lying is that it is a breach of trust.  When you lie to someone, you are breaching their trust. In that sense, a person's trust can be likened to a brick or a rock that each lie chips off pieces from. This is why no matter how many apologies you give after being caught red handed in a lie, often times the trust can never be restored.

I think it irks me even more because I am a fairly straightforward person and I can be fiercely loyal too, and in a world where most people are anything but straightforward, you can see how maddening this is. I think this is why if you absolutely can, you should try not to lie to people that you care about. I'm not naive: there are some situations that warrant you lying, probably to protect the person you are lying to. I understand that. But most cases, people lie to save their own asses or to be manipulative or to take advantage of your friendship; not anything noble.

Just stop lying.

Or don't.


On a lighter note, Merry Christmas! I hope you had an amazing day? And if not, that's fine too. It mattered a lot to me to share on my Instagram, especially among all the very cute family pictures being posted (mine included 😁) that if yesterday was hard, know that it really is just a day. If you have a difficult relationship with your family, or perhaps you had to spend Christmas without a loved one, or you are going through a rough break-up, or any other form of hardship, you will survive. Honestly, it is just a day of the 365 in a year. I think we will be okay.

I was especially thinking about kids at the border detention centers covered in tinfoils and separated from their mommies and daddies, and the amount of hurt in their little hearts. I am hoping 2020 is the year that we do better for those kids, one way or another.

Oh yes, my holiday read is "Children of Blood and Bone". I just said on Instagram that while the author's art of storytelling is genius and she is of course a brilliant writer, something does not sit right with me: this is either because of the genre OR because you can tell she carefully crafted the book with the intention (or desire) that it would be made into a movie. Something just feels somehow...I can't be more specific because I don't know dammit Lol. But she is not just black, she is Nigerian, so yes we will be supporting her  hahaha.

How is it that I have blogged more in the month of December than the entire year hahaha?

Anyway, just in case I'm not back here before 2020 (!), have a great rest of the year.



Book of the Month: Some Books I Have Been Reading

Sooo. For some reason, I haven't talked about any book here  in a while even though I have actually been reading. I have no reasons for that. But I decided to share a bunch of books I have been reading for my own personal development.

1.) The first is called, "Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes: A Guide to Starting, Revising, and Finishing Your Doctoral Thesis" by Joan Bolker. I mean, you can't literally write your entire dissertation in fifteen minutes. Lol. Anyway, in this book she gives tips and advice on working your way through the dissertation writing process, from developing a working habit to choosing advisors and a committee; to getting started on writing; to your first draft and other tidbits. Spoiler alert: the key to writing efficiently and finishing in decent time is to write every single day. You can say this about most habits.

I learned a little while ago that consistency is actually a better goal to strive for than excellence or perfection. If you do something every single day, and I mean every single day without fail, you will inevitably be great at it. Take that approach with writing. Carve out time, sacred time for writing, where you do nothing but write. Not research, not edit, just write. So in that sense all of what the book addresses,  I already knew. In fact most things did not apply to me because I have passed those stages in my career. It's a great book nonetheless. But you can read all the books in this world about writing, and except you actually commit to these principles, you would be wasting everyone's time. So in a nutshell, I read the book not just because I am currently writing a dissertation myself (pray for me, y'all!) but also because I needed a reminder/refresher of some of what she talks about.

2.) The second is, "When Panic Attacks: The New, Drug-Free Anxiety Therapy That Can Change Your Life" by David Burns. First things first, if you struggle with anxiety, you are not alone. Many people are suffering from various mental health challenges. Sometimes, I wonder if people are misdiagnosing themselves. Who knows really? I know for sure though that our mental health should be prioritized. And if you can't afford therapy or you are still trapped in shame because you are afraid of what people would think if you go to therapy or you just don't know what to expect in therapy, then get this book. If you want to get better, period. Everyone should read something like this book.

It provides you with ammunition to defeat any kind of anxiety, without conventional therapy or prescription drugs. My favorite aspect of the book is his assessment of  the inclination of medical providers to prescribe drugs for every darn thing. He teaches you 40 new anti-anxiety techniques. I gotta say you need time with this book because it is very detailed, and working through all the tools can honestly be tiring. I will say though that if you can, you should do them because they are very effective. He also gives home-works and asks you to fill in the gap etc. I will be honest, I didn't have that kind of time to work through all of it. I just didn't. So while I read it painstakingly, I certainly could have been more thorough.

Can this solve lifelong anxiety and/or other mental health challenges? Definitely. But I think I would still prefer sitting in front of a therapist while they work through issues with me. I would rather someone asks me all the questions. It's too much to do by yourself. And I say this as someone who is incredibly introspective. That said, if you flip towards the end of the book, he walks you through exactly how to use each technique; how to work your way from an upset feeling to getting better. It's a solid book that everyone should have and read. I was just lazy. Plus I think more generally, I read the book when I was in a good place mentally (thank God!). Had I read it when I was in a much worse condition, I am sure I would have done the work, for sure. I would say (disclaimer: I am NOT a medical professional) before using all manner of medication, at least try the techniques in a book like this. One interesting thing about this book is that he (an actual psychiatrist) admitted to the arbitrary nature of the diagnostic criteria for anxiety disorders. He acknowledges that sometimes what psychiatrists call anxiety disorders are basically just normal feelings people have from time to time.  In fact, according to Burns, some medicines like Xanax make people completely dependent on them, so much that when you stop taking them, you experience withdrawal symptoms that heighten whatever initial problem you had. There is also a whole thing in the book where the author exposes drug companies that selectively publish studies and the bias in the literature that create false perception about the effectiveness of antidepressants. This is why I would caution against popping pills for the sake of. But heyyy, you do you. This is just me talking about a book and I do NOT HAVE A MEDICAL DEGREE, so what do I know?  And oh yeah, of course, brain diseases totally exist, not to mention serious psychiatry problems like schizophrenia, bipolar etc. I don't think there is a way around such ailments that does not involve medications.

3.) And finally, we have  "Discerning the Voice of God - Bible Study Book - Revised: How to Recognize When God Speaks" by Priscilla Shirer. This one is good for anyone committed to strengthening their relationship with God. I will admit that this book might come across like it's for mature Christians only. Because while I absolutely adore Priscilla Shirer, I do think she wrote this book with an assumption that her readers have attained a particular level of spirituality. If you are still really growing or if you are a new Christian, and you read this book with some of its instructions, it can easily become frustrating.

In her defense, I don't think there is a straightforward, simple enough book out there for all Christians about understanding God's voice. But ultimately, I really love that she acknowledges that understanding the heart of God is not about hearing a clear, audible voice. And though many Christians depict it like so, it is not always entirely true or at least not complete (I still do NOT think God told you what dress to wear to Church. Bite me). I also think that Christians should not live a frantic life, where they are constantly searching and searching for the voice of God and then getting frustrated when they hear nothing. Instead rest in knowing that God is always within you and will never forsake you. He is true to his word about leading you and allowing his will come to pass. I have actually spoken a lot about this on the blog: see knowing God's will for your life. Or what to do when you are waiting.  Or How to make decisions when your faith wavers. Interestingly, Priscilla does echo some of the sentiments in the posts I linked: yes sometimes you are not sure if it's God. Have faith anyway. Sometimes you have to work with exactly what God has placed in your hands right now and keep doing. And sometimes you have to just step out in faith and obey because you feel God is impressing it upon your heart to. All of these are never ever easy. Fear not, it's not all abstract. She does give some practical lists of things you can start doing at the moment to better understand God's will for your life.

Whew. Well. that's that.

Book of the month was quite busy this year so I hope to continue next year. What were your favorite books this year?



Friday Reflections

1.) Luxury beliefs (Like luxury goods) are the latest status symbols for Americans. I agree with everything in that article except the point on White Privilege. Yeah white privilege is certainly a thing, fo sho.

2.) Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on identity, feminism, and honest conversations.

3.) Celebrating Chimamanda. Chimamanda is actually a genius, and one of the most brilliant minds alive.

4.) Divorce lawyers give relationship advice.

5.) 100 people tell us their biggest regrets. A lot of that had to do with sex/relationships with the wrong persons. A close second had to do with education. What is my biggest regret? That is so absolute. I would say though one big regret I have definitely has more to do with education than with sex or relationships.

6.) For me if it no longer affects me, then it can not qualify as a regret. Simple.

7.) I just finished all five seasons of Jane the Virgin. Loved it! Some really corny parts but ultimately really lovely with its themes of family, love, passion, romance, and everything in between. For me, the strong connection between Jane, her mother, and her grandmother is what the folks at Gilmore Girls just couldn't nail with the two Lorelais.

8.) Check out this New Yorker profile of the show: "Jane the Virgin" is Not a Guilty Pleasure.

9.) Do you think a lot about getting more involved in your community? How are you doing this?

10.) The last Friday before Christmas. Are you taking time off work?

A Classic Christmas Playlist That Includes All Our Favorite Christmas Carols

♫It's the most wonderful time of the year...it's the hap-happiest time of the year♫ It's Christmas time! Haha. Christmas is my favorite holiday, which means it's my favorite time of the year. I love love it all. It's exactly one week to Christmas, can you believe it? I have been listening to Christmas songs every single day all month to get in the Christmas mood. I love it. It's a bit sad that I haven't been to a Christmas Carol in a while. But anyway, I thought to share some of my favorite Christmas melodies. They are mostly the classics that I'm sure you probably already know. But I love to get you in the Christmas spirit and cheer. So there is a link to each song for you to listen. In no particular order:

1.) Jingle Bells! Oh Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way. Oh what fun it is to ride on a one horse open sleigh

2.) Joy to the World! This is the OG version not the more recent covers, which mostly suck. Repeat the sounding joy, repeat the sounding joy, repeaaat, repeaaaat the sounding joy.

3.) I wanna wish you a MERRY CHRISTMAS from the bottom of my heart. This number delights my heart, so yell out the chorus to get the most of it. It's Feliz Navidad!

4.) Good tidings we bring to you and your kin, we wish you a MERRY CHRISTMAS and a happy New Year. If you guessed the title of this song is "We wish you a Merry Christmas", you'd be right.

5.) The next on the list is Silent Night. It speaks for itself, to be honest.

6.) Peace on earth and mercy mild...joyful all ye nations rise. Hark the Herald Angels Sing, glory to the newborn King!

7.) I knew every single word of this next one as a child, and boy was I proud of that? Haha. On the first day of Christmas, my true love sent to me... a partridge in a pear tree. And on the fifth day....yeah? yup a FIVE GOLDEN RINGS. Lol it's Twelve Days of Christmas.

8.) Mary's Boy Child.  For this one, I actually did not find the version I remember. And this was the closest I could get. Oops spoke too soon: here is the original version, which I prefer!

9.) Oh Holy Night. I have also two versions for this. Watch Hillsong Worship team perform it live here, and then Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard perform it here (this one starts at 1:30). I'm just gonna say Clay Aiken has RANGE!

Haaayy look, I finally wrote something simple and short. How's that for the perfect Christmas gift?

Merry Christmas people! And if you don't celebrate Christmas, happy holidays. Whether it's Christmas songs or movies or food, make sure you're doing something to get you in the Christmas spirit. Whatever you do, make sure you get in the celebratory mode, whatever that means to you.