Yoruba Orishas: African gods and goddess

Photographer James C. Lewis created a series of photos where he artistically depicted the African Yoruba deities – ORISHAS – venerated by the Yoruba people of Benin and Nigeria. The result is a stunning series of photographs depicting the divine and spiritual symbology and life.


When asked to express where his inspiration for this photo project arose from, Lewis said,

“Throughout my formal education from elementary up through college I never heard tale of African deities. A little over a month ago I began to research online to find information in regards to the gods & goddesses of Africa. To my surprise there were many, however the ones that stood out the most were the deities of Nigeria and Benin, West Africa which they referred to as Orishas.

I wanted to portray the regal beauty of each Orisha while also representing their majestic sensuality. Each iconic depiction was rendered to lend strength to our resilience as a great race of people and to show our youth that they are beautiful, bold and brilliant just they way God created them to be. […] each Orisha’s name is written in the Yoruba dialect and captures imagery of powerful men, women & children of various complexions who are all of African descent.”





Sources: All Images Property of James C. Lewis

I learn something new everyday & this is awesome :D

How the worst moments in our lives make us who we are

When we’re ashamed, we can’t tell our stories, and stories are the foundation of identity. Forge meaning, build identity, forge meaning and build identity. That became my mantra. Forging meaning is about changing yourself. Building identity is about changing the world. All of us with stigmatized identities face this question daily: how much to accommodate society by constraining ourselves, and how much to break the limits of what constitutes a valid life? Forging meaning and building identity does not make what was wrong right. It only makes what was wrong precious.

What do we do with the worst things that has happened to us?

Live with shame? Lose ourselves in what could have been? Live with a lifetime of regret, anger, hurt, shame, betrayal, inability to trust?

Or could you take all that and build for yourself something more – something that is bigger then what could have been, had ‘it’, the hurt and pain, not happened. What do we appreciate more? The things we easily achieve, or the stuff for which we have had to struggle for long and hard?

Rebuilding a life anew from the ashes of one in which I had sacrificed and lost everything that I thought gave meaning to my life, I am no stranger to struggle or building new identities. Some days I still wake up and have to remind myself that ‘today is all there is and tomorrow is promised to no one’. Each day comes with 24 hours and each hour comes with 60 minutes. It’s a deposit in your bank that you cannot save for tomorrow, neither can you borrow from what’s to come – so all you really have are these moments in which you are still alive. What we do with that is really who we are choosing to become.

Our words shape our narratives. The one we play on a loop inside our head. The one we verbalize or project to others. Instead of worrying about what could be or what was, the question that plays the most in my head is “am I doing the best I could do in this very moment?” Am I being who I want to be?  consciously and unconsciously do my words and actions align with my core being?

We humans have searched for meaning through out time with the most basic question of all “why do I exist?” and in this beautiful talk Andrew presents some brilliant insights into how we come to be who we are – by persevering through all of life’s ups and downs.

Writer Andrew Solomon has spent his career telling stories of the hardships of others. Now he turns inward, bringing us into a childhood of adversity, while also spinning tales of the courageous people he’s met in the years since. In a moving, heartfelt and at times downright funny talk, Solomon gives a powerful call to action to forge meaning from our biggest struggles.

Stuck in a meeting… falling asleep?

Then you need this :D Just try not to grin too much or laugh out loud ;)

The ability to be vulnerable

Brene Brown is a social researcher who thought she was researching “connection”. You know the thing that holds us together? whether its society, community, family, work or relationship between two people. It doesn’t matter if you are an extrovert or an introvert, all of us needs connections, a sense of belonging, a sense of self-worth which is intrinsically related to our well-being. Take this sense away and each person is an island of desolation. Keep it alive and you are part of a much wider picture and together you are beautiful.

So there she was starting what she thought was going to be a one year research, except that it turned into a six-year stint, during which her assumptions were thrown right out the window and at one point, she was forced to seek out a therapist because she was struggling with accepting the result that was staring at her on the face “Vulnerability”. The people with a strong sense of belonging, of self-worth, were the people who were willing to be Vulnerable. Now admittedly that’s scary. It scares me. I am so good at being self-sufficient and strong that the idea of allowing myself to be vulnerable to or with another person frankly gives me the heebie-jeebies. I am not sure if it’s something that I am willing to do deliberately.

So maybe this should go on the list of things to which I challenge myself over the next four months of this year …. open myself up to the possibility of being vulnerable – knowing full well that it’s going to be damn uncomfortable and freaking scary. Now let’s see how that goes :)

Brené Brown: The power of vulnerability

The other thing that they had in common was this: They fully embraced vulnerability. They believed that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful. They didn’t talk about vulnerability being comfortable,nor did they really talk about it being excruciating — as I had heard it earlier in the shame interviewing.They just talked about it being necessary. They talked about the willingness to say, “I love you” first … the willingness to do something where there are no guarantees … the willingness to breathe through waiting for the doctor to call after your mammogram. They’re willing to invest in a relationship that may or may not work out. They thought this was fundamental.

I personally thought it was betrayal. I could not believe I had pledged allegiance to research, where our job — you know, the definition of research is to control and predict, to study phenomena for the explicit reason to control and predict. And now my mission to control and predict had turned up the answer that the way to live is with vulnerability and to stop controlling and predicting. This led to a little breakdown — which actually looked more like this.  And it did.

……..She said, “What’s going on?” And this is a therapist who sees therapists, because we have to go to those, because their B.S. meters are good.  And so I said, “Here’s the thing, I’m struggling.” And she said, “What’s the struggle?” And I said, “Well, I have a vulnerability issue. And I know that vulnerability is the core of shame and fear and our struggle for worthiness, but it appears that it’s also the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love. And I think I have a problem, and I need some help.” And I said, “But here’s the thing: no family stuff, no childhood shit. I just need some strategies.” So she goes like this. And then I said, “It’s bad, right?” And she said, “It’s neither good nor bad. It just is what it is.” And I said, “Oh my God, this is going to suck.”



New destinations on my travel list

Stumbled across this list  of 50 best destinations to travel to in 2015  and several new places just made it into my future travel destinations:

Chengdu, China – for it’s still-unspoiled bamboo forest near the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Qingcheng—the birthplace of Taoism and the Dujiangyan irrigation system, an ecological engineering feat dating back to around 256 B.

Oman – for its natural beauty, from poetic desert to beautiful coastline on earth.

Mekong river region – because Galli Zugaro launched a Mekong riverboat with three-, four-, and seven-night itineraries between Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and Siem Reap, Cambodia. All have off-the-beaten-path excursions—biking through remote Cambodian villages, exploring Vietnam’s floating markets—planned by a cast of excellent guides.

Tanzania – for it’s northern circuit, encompassing the Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater.

Nicaragua – for its geographic diversity—beaches, lakes, islets, volcanoes, rainforests, and reefs—as for its colonial-meets-bohemian vibe.

Check it out and let me know if you just updated your list too :)  http://www.travelandleisure.com/slideshows/best-places-to-travel-in-2015/19

Girl power!

If you are just starting your week and you have the Sunday/Monday blues… trust me .. you need this.



I just about died laughing watching this :D

Religion vs. Humanity

I stumbled upon this talk at a time when I, once again, denounced religion in utter frustration with dogma’s and religious intolerance.

I am born a muslim, in a religious family. I am deeply spiritual. Yet I have struggled with religious dogma for as long as I can remember. In my teenage years, I went in search of peace – looking into other religions, reading their books, talking to their people, religious leaders and it was an amazing experience.

I remember sitting in a small Ram-Krishna mission temple, with inscriptions from all religions around the walls inside, talking to the leading Purohit. He quoted the bible, the quran, the bhagabat gita, the torah. We talked about the centrality of compassion and how ultimately all religions preached the same essential message: “be a good human being first”, “treat others as you want to be treated”. I had the same conversations in churches, in guruduwara’s, in prayer circles, in self-help groups.

I felt alone. a misfit, when I started my search, only to discover that I am not alone. In a world gone crazy on religious dogma, others are denouncing the hate-speech, the privileges accorded to chosen people vs. infidels or disbelievers. Books are guides, the lives of the prophets who preached them are sign posts. Yet as a society we are so fixated on literal translations and interpretations by others that we chose to ignore the very first command passed to Prophet Muhammad by Jibreel / Gabriel (AS)… “read, in the name of your Lord”. While the prophet has encouraged people to travel to China to gain knowledge, we have mullahs preaching that women should not educated because their place is only at home. Had the prophet been gender biased, his wife would not have been the most successful business woman running a multinational business empire.

Taken out of context ANY religious text can be used to justify hatred and violence against those judged to be abhorrent, an aberration. Yet that is exactly what our religious prophets had not done – the lives of Musa, Isa, Muhammad, Ram, Krishna, Guru Nanak, Buddha, Zoroaster, Confucius, Laozi, Rishabha Dev – their actions were compassionate, their concern & love for all living being was universal.

Yet here we are… centuries later, killing each other over religion and destroying our humanity in that process.

Weeks from the Charter for Compassion launch, Karen Armstrong looks at religion’s role in the 21st century: Will its dogmas divide us? Or will it unite us for common good? She reviews the catalysts that can drive the world’s faiths to rediscover the Golden Rule.

Settling into exercising

Most of us start off exercise routines at the beginning of a New Year and then we struggle to hold on to it. We struggle to make space in our hectic lives for exercises, other things take over our priorities. So if you are like most people – chances are … you fell off the bandwagon. You skipped a few days, maybe even a few weeks and then hopefully you got back to it.

One way to get the most out of any exercise routine is to do it in short intense routines. In case of yoga, that means you hold your poses just a little bit longer. Now if you are struggling to hold your poses, then THIS is just the right thing for you.

Follow this link to see more: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/565483296939369401/




Doing exactly what I am not suppose to do … breaking the rules

Why does that happen I wonder? You know ever had those days or maybe months even when you end up doing exactly what you are not suppose to do?

My doctor told me to avoid red meat, or at least to cut down on it since my cholesterol was a tad high earlier this year. I declined medicine to tackle the problem and agreed to cut down to about twice a week max on red meat. What do I do? Immediately for the next two days I ate red meat. You heard me. I did exactly what the doctor told me NOT to do. And seven months later I am still struggling with my craving for red meat. I HATE white meat, you heard me, I really don’t like it, no matter which way it’s prepared. Give me a plate of red meat any day! Or maybe I can switch to prawns and lobsters, oh.. hang on.. aren’t those high on cholesterol too? I have to admit though that I have been more conscious about adding more fish to my meals, not yet up to the level where I wouldn’t feel guilty about having red meat though.

I have this stubborn streak. I like doing things that I am told I shouldn’t be doing. You know like taking on a high stress job that apparently women are not suited for? traveling alone cause it’s too risky? Aiming for a six-figure salary at a time when everyone else was settling for getting no raise on the job, cause the industry is in a downturn? So I know that doing what you are told NOT to do is NOT always a bad thing. In fact it could be really good for you (or your soul). Fall in love, madly, even if you know that the heartbreak would hurt like hell. Really is there any other way to live? except whole heartedly in this very moment itself?

When I was REALLY young, I was really good at following rules. Keep your head down, work hard at your studies, be a good girl and good things will come to you in life – kind of good. And then life happened, or shit happened and being good no longer felt good. It required too much silence, too many compromises, it chipped away at my soul until there was nothing left. So I rebelled and I thought I was doing it to fight back against the injustice of the world, except that I was doing all the things I was told NOT to do. Since I played the game on both sides, ultimately I did end up with a better sense of who I was – really was – on the inside, at my very core. Fast forward a couple of decades and I thought I found a nice balance. Push the envelope a bit but nothing drastic. Learn the rules of the game really well before you decide to break or bend them. That kind of being balanced worked for me for a while.

Now I find myself on the edge again. Wanting to break out, break some ceilings, some new boundaries. I’m restless for new challenges, to be told that I can’t do certain things just so I can do them. To be challenged and to rise to the challenge is perhaps what I find most addictive. That’s a negative word but not when it’s in a positive challenge. So last year, I had challenged myself to grow, and my Masters in Development Studies finishes this month. So for this year or for what’s left of the rest of it, I am thinking to challenge myself to consolidate – get healthier, travel more, spend more time with friends, read more books, meet new people, experience new culture. I think that’s already quite a tall order for four months, so let’s see how this one goes. Or maybe if I tell myself that I can’t do any of these, then I will actually go out and do them ;) 

And this book just went at the top of my reading list:

Bailey Matthews: Face of indomitable spirit

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