Yellow Tulips & Red Buses

Yellow Tulips & Red Buses This is what I would do if I wasn’t afraid, a memoir…

London. What if she pursued her master’s at an English university? Or left Florida to its sun and swamps, and feasted her eyes instead on historic towers set against overcast skies? What if crossing the ocean was the path to a brighter future?

Stuck in a dismal job and entangled in a back-and-forth relationship, Adia Kamaria ponders this unexpected idea for quite a while before finally taking the plunge. But when she does, she does so wholeheartedly.

Yellow Tulips & Red Buses reads like a journal in its vulnerability and hopeful honesty as it recounts Adia’s romantic escapades-first with a young Pakistani bloke, followed by a Nigerian prince-and traces her travels in the United Kingdom and beyond when she’s not hard at work studying. While she quickly learns she can’t leave her problems behind, she does realize that a fresh perspective can do wonders for the soul.

An inspiring view of life and love through the eyes of a thirty-something woman who’s had her heart broken one too many times, this no-filters account will make you laugh, cry, and long for adventures of your.

One of the Lucky Ones

Lucky OnesI was sitting at the gate at the airport on my way to Boston for a job interview. I was looking out the window at Ft. Lauderdale’s bright sky and thinking about how much I really didn’t want to trade in warm days, bright skies and beaches for slush, rust and an annoying accent – but I would do it if I got the job, I had to.

I looked away from the window and went back to reading Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead. I was reading it for the second time. Sheryl Sandberg’s narrative on how and why women need to man-up was all that was keeping me motivated in my job search.

I heard a woman yelling at her children as I read. I looked up and the woman sitting next to me said, “She’s so mean,” speaking of the woman that was yelling at her children. I closed the book and started a conversation with her. I asked if she lived in Boston. What was the city like? Where was she from originally? She asked me why I was going to Boston and what I studied in school. She told me she was from Virginia, lived in Chicago for 15 years and had lived in Boston for the past five years.

She and her husband moved to Boston because he got a great job offer there. She has a law degree but has never practiced law. They got married right after law school and she has been a housewife ever since. She’s one of the lucky ones, I thought to myself. A man found her, loved her and took care of her. She landed on her feet. Housewife is a dream job to me. I’ll take crying kids over asshole bosses any day.

I continued to talk to her until we were boarding the plane. We were standing in line in the jetway when she said to me, “I’m looking for a new city. I’m going through a divorce and I have to move out of my house. I don’t have a job and looking for one is a joke because I don’t know what any of the things they are looking for even mean. I haven’t worked in over twenty years.” Immediately, I went from admiring her to pitying her. “My children are grown, they’re gone,” she continued and then paused. “So, good luck to you. Take that job,” she told me and grinned as she took her seat. I nodded, thanked her and wished her well.

The conversation I had with her was short but impactful. Sheryl Sandberg is right. Women need to lean in, all the way in! We need to keep some of our power to be financially independent if necessary. Women are the ones that get left behind when traditional, or should I say old-fashioned, families break down. American society needs to evolve to make it easier for women to maintain careers and families. Women shouldn’t have to feel the need to choose one.  American companies need to make it easier to have a balance between work and family so more women can stay in the work force, thus protecting their financial future. More women need to be in leaderships positions so they can make these changes for women.

Sometimes I get down thinking about the fact that I’m not married and I don’t have any children, but after speaking with the woman in the airport, I think I may be the lucky one. I can do what I want, when I want and my future depends on me. More importantly, I have the chance to meet people like her, who share their stories which serve as advice for me on what to do and not do as I fight to get ahead personally and professionally.

Kisses,

Adia Kamaria

The Simple Life

what-if-I-just-want-a-simple-lifeI’ve been asked twice in the past month what impact I want to leave on the world. My answer was that I don’t. I want to impact myself and then die. The first person who asked me this looked shocked at my response. The second person said I sound defeated, deflated and like I just accepted my fate.  Huh? Does not caring about leaving a huge impact on the world mean that I’m lazy and doomed for misery? What if I just want a simple life? And if that is my fate, so what? What’s wrong with accepting your fate if you believe it’s your fate?

This week I was talking to a friend of mine and we started talking about death. I said I wouldn’t want to live forever. She said, “Really? Why?” as if what I said equated to being suicidal. Why would I want to live forever? Firstly, it’s impossible and secondly, I don’t think life would be enjoyable after 90 or so years old. At that age I probably wouldn’t be able to dress myself, walk or go to the bathroom alone.

I always do what I think is right. I donate to charities, help disabled people cross the street, recycle etc. I have goals, but impacting the world in a major way one isn’t one of them. I plan to live a life that is pleasing to me and let people say whatever they want about me when I’m dead. I feel the way I do because I found that being more content with life as it is makes me happier. Have I done everything I want to do? No. Do I have everything I want? No. Am I unhappy because I haven’t done and gotten these things yet? No.

Nowadays there’s something wrong with being “basic”. Having a job, earning a paycheck and carrying your ass home is for lames. I feel like everyone wants to be the next Puffy, Mark Zuckerberg or Oprah Winfrey. That’s fine, have your ambitions and pursue your dreams. My dream is to take as many walks through as many parks in as many cities of the world as possible. Get married, have a child, spend the majority of my free time with my family, listen to music, maybe skydive, laugh, drink (a lot of) wine, eat stew peas, learn, make new friends, go new places and then die in peace when my time is up. Does that make me an underachiever? Is that too simple to qualify as a dream?

Kisses,

Adia Kamaria

Still Holding You Down?

I spent two days in Liverpool, England last week. While I Liverpoolwas there two of my friends and I did The Liverpool Slavery History Trail. As I expected, the tour was interesting and I learned a lot of new things. Towards the end of the trail, the guide took us to the front of a bank where the artwork in the attached picture is displayed. It’s a white man with his hands down on the head of two slave children. If you look closely you’ll see shackles on their hands and feet. Their hair being different says that they come from two different parts of Africa. Also, their backs turned to each other means they can’t talk to each other because they don’t speak the same language.

This is supposed to be a representation of what the city was built on – slavery. It was installed in 1927, long after slave trading had been abolished in England. We had a debate about whether or not it should be kept up or taken down. My two friends and the tour guide thought it should be left up because it’s a reminder if what happened to black people. They said British children don’t learn about slavery or any black and African history in school so this sort of public representation is needed. The tour guide said I’m one of only three people in his decades of doing the tour that thinks it should be taken down, the other two being children.

I’m not one of those people who blames the white man and slavery for every problem in black communities around the world today, but I am of the belief that slavery is the root of many of the psychological and emotional issues in that community. Because of this, I think slavery should be talked about and the world should never be allowed to forget the damaged it caused an entire race. However, this isn’t what this art does. In my opinion it’s a covert way of saying, “This is where you stand in our society. We’re still holding you down”. I wouldn’t want this on a wall in my city.

I thought about this over and over since I saw it, which is why I’m up at 5 am GMT writing about it. Experiences like this make me appreciate my home country so much more. The United States isn’t perfect. I feel that the nasty stain of slavery is often ignored and racism is definitely alive and well there.  I’m of Jamaican descent so I know slavery is somewhere in my family’s histroy. I’m too young to have gotten a first-hand or even second-hand account of slavery from my ancestors, but at least I learned about it in school. At least there’s a monument to Harriet Tubman in Massachusetts and one to Frederick Douglass in Maryland, people who represent liberation from slavery.

I’ve heard blacks in America talk about how terrible America is for black people. It’s not just America. Sadly, injustice and inequality in many forms is the plight of black people or otherwise darker skinned people across the globe, from the aboriginals in Australia to the Jarawa tribe of India. I actually think that blacks in America are generally better off than in most nations, we just don’t appreciate it.

No Kisses,

Adia Kamaria

Chemistry & Commitment

I spent the weekend with a girlfriend. As always, girl talk involved men and relationships. johncoulter_perfect_chemistry_lcs[1]At one point in the conversation I said something about someone who I regard as my heart, even though what we have right now is at best a complicated situation.  She asked me how I could feel something so strongly for someone who isn’t committed to me. Don’t I feel like he thinks that I’m not good enough to commit to? Commitment meaning marriage. No, I don’t think that. I think that I enjoy the time we spend together and I value his opinions.

Then she asked if I compare other people to him. It’s not that I compare people to him. I compare the way I felt with him to how I feel when I’m with someone else. I want someone to make me feel the way he does. We don’t miss people because of their hair, smile or legs. We miss the way they made us feel.  It’s what we call having chemistry with someone. Then my friend said, “Well, I’ve learned that all the chemistry in the world means nothing if that chemistry isn’t committed to you.”  That made me think. Is it more important to have the pleasure of good chemistry with someone or the security of commitment? Would you rather be happily up in the air with someone or committed to someone who you don’t have chemistry with? Isn’t the latter settling? What good is security in an unhappy situation?

What’s the purpose of a relationship? Is it an exchange of support, companionship and trust in each other? Or is it simply a commitment with no regard for the way two people interact with each other? And what about a commitment from someone makes a relationship secure? Just as people get married, they get divorced.

I wrote a post about two years ago called ‘The Grey Area’. I was saying that there needs to be clarity in relationships, they need to be either black or white. Now I’m seeing just how grey relationships are. Committed or not, they are complicated. Our emotions are like your body jumping out of a plane. Once you’re going down, you can’t stop. You either glide with the help of your parachute (in a relationship your partner is the parachute) to a nice and easy landing or you crash to the ground breaking bones in the process. Either way, once you jump there’s nothing that guarantees how you will land. At least I think so. I’ve never jumped out of a plane before.

Kisses,

Adia Kamaria

Disconnect

no_social_media[1]I was recently driving with a friend while she told me about a terrible thing that had happened to her the day before.
“…and then Justin texted me and I felt so much better, but isn’t that bad?” she asked.
“What? Why?” I asked her.
“Because, I should be able to make myself feel better, you know, happiness is supposed to come from within, not from someone else,” she answered, sounding like a Tumblr quote.

I hear women recite these “rules for life” from various self-help books, blogs and social networks all the time. Some conversations start with “I saw a quote on (insert any social network here) the other day and it really made me think…” My friend asking if it was bad that Justin made her feel better made me start thinking. Whose rules are these anyway?

It seems that people are becoming so caught up in what books and social networks are saying about how to live life that they’re forgetting to listen to themselves. Instead of acting on a feeling they have, they’re remembering quotes and doing what a book said they should do. And feeling bad for accepting something that made them feel good because they think they’re breaking some rule that is supposed to be the key to the happiest and best life.

While some books and quotes can be enlightening and inspiring, we need to remember that they were written by other people based on their opinions. We live in an age of instant access to other people’s opinions on everything from relationships to medicine to cooking, sex and side chicks. If you’re not careful some of these quotes and lessons on life from complete strangers who know nothing about your life will make you question things about yourself that you never have before. Just because Coco Chanel or Rob Hill Sr. said it doesn’t mean that it’s right for YOU.

There’s nothing wrong with or weak about accepting what you need when you need it, even if it comes from a source outside of yourself. The idea that people are never supposed to look outside of themselves for happiness is absurd in my opinion. I believe what is found in oneself is contentment, which is not the same as being happy. There is a certain amount of interaction, affection and approval from other people that everyone needs to be genuinely happy.

I think it’s a good idea to sometimes disconnect from the online “social” world and self-help books, blogs etc. and help yourself by really listening to yourself and giving yourself what it asks for. I believe wholeheartedly that life is a journey where the focus shouldn’t always be on the end result. If we do what we have to in order to get through right now, the end result will be a sequence of satisfying moments.

But don’t take my word for it, listen to yourself!

Air Kisses,

Adia Kamaria

United We Stand

user390395_pic18394_1229515790It’s festival season in London, the season for celebrating arts and culture outdoors. Last Sunday, June 30th, marked the end of the 2013 Glastonbury Festival. A four-day music festival that has been happening in the United Kingdom since 1970. I had only heard of the Glastonbury Festival because when Beyonce performed there in 2011 it was a big deal. There aren’t too many deals bigger than Beyonce in pop music today so for it to be big news that she performed there, it must mean that the festival is huge.

During a lecture in my managing and marketing events class, the professor brought up Glastonbury and why the festival hadn’t taken place in 2012. The reason was that there weren’t enough port-a-potties and police to cover the event and the 2012 summer Olympics simultaneously. I couldn’t believe that was actually the reason the festival had been canceled. The first thing I thought was, if it had been in the U.S. the festival organizers could have called for port-a-potties from another state, gotten state police to assist local police – something! I just couldn’t imagine that happening in America. There are too many resources for it to have happened in America.

The more I thought about it, the expression “United we Stand, Divided we Fall” came to mind. It was the first time I had thought about the phrase in a practical way. My thoughts were in the context of a music festival, but think about the bigger picture. It is much easier to do business within your own country, even if the distance is far away. The laws are the same, currency is the same, language is the same and any necessary travel is easier. Added to that, the country’s large size makes the population one of the highest in the world. More people buying things means more money circulating in the economy, more ordering products from overseas, which equals more leverage in the global economy.

There are 54 countries in Africa and 49 in Europe. The United States could have easily become 50 separate nations. Of course there are several other reasons that the U.S. has been successful in business such as innovation and excellence in higher education, but I must believe that the decision to stay united  plays a major role in the country staying as powerful as it has for as long as it has. This is proof that there is strength in numbers and power in sticking together, a concept that can be applied to many aspects of life.

(Air) Kisses,

Adia Kamaria

Not Who I Am

hiphopglobal_wide-ab6d0bc96c66a7476831f9059cc34d2d589a4f49-s6-c30[1]I’ve been studying in London for the past six months. The best part of this experience is the cultural exchanges I have with my classmates and other students. For obvious reasons, I’m particularly intrigued by the African students I meet.

The one thing that a lot of African students I meet or see all have in common is their infatuation with hip-hop music and culture.  Every day I see them wearing YMCMB sweaters and t-shirts with Jay-Z’s face. They blast Meek Mill and J. Cole from their phones and sing along to the lyrics with a passion that seems to transform them. Almost every time I’m speaking with a black man the conversation is about or related to hip-hop. If they’re not talking to me about hip-hop they’re saying something about President Obama, who is basically a pop star in his own way.  And a black woman made a comment one day that all Black-American women care about is their hair and nails, an assumption that is entirely incorrect!

When they find out I’m from Miami they ask me about King of Diamonds. Have I ever seen Rick Ross? It’s like they assume because I’m black and from America that I must be in strip clubs regularly and I’m hanging out in places that I will see Rick Ross because I’m from Miami. I don’t have anything against strips clubs or rappers and I listen to Two Chainz, Jeezy and Juicy J just like everyone else, but for some reason I was offended. It was offensive to me to feel that a culture that promotes misogyny, violence, materialism and sometimes downright ignorance was the best representation that these people had of me and my country.  Strip clubs and Rick Ross, really?  That’s not who I am.

At home in Miami, I never thought of the negative side of hip-hop as a complete or whole representation of Black-America. I know there’s so much more to it and us than that. I know that many of us, like me, are of Caribbean heritage and still hold onto that culture as our primary way of life. We mix with each other and other races so we have a fairly broad cultural awareness as it relates to that part of the world. America has black best-selling authors, dancers, chefs and successful business people but those things get lost in hip-hop’s shadow abroad. I may be experiencing this because I’m at a university with men and women in their early to mid- twenties, still it’s disturbing.

This isn’t an attack on rap music or hip-hop culture. My experience in London just makes me wonder if rappers realize the impact that have on youth worldwide. Does this impact mean that they have a greater obligation to us to be more responsible in their lyrics and lifestyle?  And if hip-hop can have such a big impact, how can we spread the popularity of other black arts in the same way? Is rap even an art?

Kisses,

Adia Kamaria

Doing You?

Presentation1I know I’m not the only woman that’s fallen asleep next to an empty wine glass (or bottle) with Mary J. Blige playing in the background after screaming or crying through an argument with my boyfriend and swearing that this is the LAST time, at least I hope I’m not. Yes, there’s just something about Mary. No one delivers I’ve loved, hurt, but now I’m doing me like she does. What does that even mean?

So often women, me included, go through these phases where we withdraw from any and all things male. It might be after a break-up or a slew of bad dates. We say things like, “I’m just doing me right now,”     and “I’m just going to focus on myself for a while”. Then we start eating better, working out, doing yoga, every Sunday we’re in church…We feel good while we’re actually working out, sitting in church etcetera but overall we don’t feel any better than we did before we started “doing ourselves”. That’s because avoiding men doesn’t solve the issues that we have with them, it only feeds the fear we have of another failed relationship.

While it is healthy to take time away for you, there’s a difference between spending needed time alone and being afraid to date because of past bad experiences. Unfortunately, many women fall into the latter without even realizing it. I personally feel that a lot of women don’t trust their self enough to believe they can go out with a man and get to know him the proper way— In other words, without sex too soon. That’s really the only time women feel bad about a situation. In a woman’s mind if there was no sex then there was no loss.

It’s completely logical to be jaded if you’ve had a lot of bad experiences with men, but let’s be honest, if you’re a grown woman that’s had so many bad experiences with men that you don’t even want to go out with one something is wrong with YOU. Some women realize that they may be the problem and they think that staying away from men and “working” on themselves is the solution. Again, makes sense but it’s not true. How will you ever get better at dealing with men if you don’t get any practice? When you learned to drive the more you did it the better you got at it, right? Right.

That’s not to say you should just start going out with any and every one that wants to go out with you so you can get practice. It means you should stay open to dating and love if you really want it. The only way to grow and to learn is to experience. If you’re doing it right, from experience you’ll learn when to hold ’em, when to fold ’em, when to walk away and know when to run (Shot out to Kenny Rogers) That experience should also eventually reveal what you’re doing wrong with yourself that’s causing your relationships to fail.

So, as Wendy Williams used to say, keep your waist tight and your nails done! Love might be right around your corner waiting for you to turn and bump right into it.

Kisses

Adia Kamaria

Mothers

Mothers_day_Wallpaper1[1]My mom died in February 2011. I was twenty-eight years old when I sat in the funeral home and listened to her eulogy, half-hoping she would just sit up so I could see her alive again. I was only half hoping because the previous five years of her life wasn’t living at all. She had been on and off life support, unable to walk, talk or eat solid food and her body was literally skin and bones. Her breasts seemed to have disappeared and her face was sunken in. No, that surely wasn’t the way a woman who had visited five of the seven continents would have wanted to live, so there was a huge part of me that was happy to see her finally resting in peace.

I miss my mom more and more as I get older. I realize now that I never got to be an adult with her which is when I think mother-daughter relationships are best. I never got to tell her about my first true adult love and cry on her shoulder when he broke my heart. She wasn’t at my college graduation and I couldn’t get her decorating advice for my apartment. Her home isn’t there for me to go back to if I ever needed to or if I just wanted to hang out on a Sunday afternoon. I feel emptiness knowing that when my child is born I won’t have my mom there to guide me.

I am grateful however for all the other women who have stepped into her place. My grandmother and my mom’s cousins and friends have always answered my calls when I wanted to talk about life. They have been the ones to congratulate me on accomplishments and encourage me through trails. They call to check on me when I’m traveling and advise me on “woman things”. I sit at their dinner tables on holidays and receive gifts from them on my birthdays. Women co-workers and college professors of my mom’s age have given me their shoulders to cry on and a hug just because. Life only gives you one mom, she can never be replaced but the world is full of mothers.

Losing my mom has shown me that all women are mothers. We mother our friends, families, co-workers and sometimes we even mother strangers. We are natural nurturers that celebrate each other every day in a way that only women can. So happy Mother’s Day to all the women in the world!

Kisses,

 

Adia Kamaria