I was in Berlin, Germany for a few days as part of a solo trip to Europe and I wanted to share a part of my trip with you all. Special thanks to my gracious host Nik (whose cute apartment is in the background) and my classmate Lokus! Enjoy!
I don’t know about you but when I don’t reflect, I get ungrateful. When I don’t look back on where I started, I miss how much I’ve grown.
A couple days into the 2016 new year, someone asked me how 2015 had been for me. With a labored sigh, I replied “In all honesty, it was a tough year.” I hadn’t told a lie– 2015 was sprinkled with unexpected let-downs and challenges. Social media has a way of compiling a highlight reel of our lives that gives the false impression of a perfect life. While I was winning awards and getting speaking engagements, I was grappling with the reality of a dwindling savings account. One day, when I’m ready, I will tell you all that story. It’s one of true friendship and God’s provision. I’ll save it for another day.
Right now I want to take you back to how I started the year. I wrote down a vision for what I wanted to see in the next 365 day. I included my ambitions, my hopes, and my motivations. I believe that the way you start (with optimism and hope) frames how you’ll approach the year, with all its good and its bad.
“Go. See. Do”
I had purposed in my mind that I wanted to take a solo trip after I graduated with my Masters degree. I was nervous and was constantly checking Google Flight alerts for tickets during my lunch breaks. My destination of choice? Copenhagen, Denmark. I love biking culture and I had heard it’s a safe place for a woman to travel alone. I caught huge a break with a roundtrip ticket for under $600. On my trip, I stayed at the Urban House in Denmark and hopped over to Germany to visit friends and learn about sustainable fashion at H&M Starting House. I’d recommend a solo trip to anyone who’s ever considered it.
Be Happy. Live Well.
Happiness to me consists of spending time with loved ones and being free to be myself. Living far away from my family and friends, the things I cherish the most are unexpected phone calls, care packages, and authentic acts of friendship. In order for me to “live well,” I had to shed dead weight that was not helping me develop as an individual. It can be difficult to let go of relationships and things that used to fit you. Once those things become a hinderance, it’s necessary to remove them from your life. As a recovering people-pleaser, I still struggle with the need to justify my actions but a dear friend challenged me to start living for an audience of one. As long as God is pleased with my actions, I don’t owe anyone anything. I have said many times before that I am fiercely protective of my happiness— as we all should be. Before you invite people, habits, and things into your life, examine them thoroughly. And let them in only if they will make you a better version of yourself.
One day, I was praying and I thought what big and specific thing could I ask of God? I declared, “I want to have 5 speaking engagements this year.” As the months rolled by, I had almost forgotten my prayer. But emails and calls started pouring in and on December 4th, I found myself on stage at an award ceremony, giving remarks about sustainable fashion. It was my fifth and final speaking engagement for the year. Sometimes, I still feel like the nerdy girl who reads articles about textile waste for fun and it’s humbling that people want to hear what I have to say. The Word says, You have not because you do not ask (James 4:2). God is not intimidated by our ambition. Ask Him for what you want and when you do, ASK BIG.
Leaders of the New Cool
I’m not shy about telling people that I want my startup Style Lottery to be the thought-leader in recycling textiles. We’ve been working with the circular economy for a couple of years and we have been changing the way consumers get rid of their old clothes. Sustainable fashion isn’t just the new cool, it’s going to become the new standard. This year, I challenged myself to be true to my convictions. I adjusted my shopping habits and now more than half my closet is second-hand. I enjoy fashion and I recognize its ability to connect and empower communities. I am an outspoken advocate for sustainable fashion. You know what qualifies us as leaders? Our closets, our wallets, and what we chose to use them for.
I dabbled in the zero waste world for a bit and learned some great ways to lower my carbon footprint. I attended SXSW Eco, tried composting, eliminated meat from my diet, and read The Zero Waste Home from cover to cover. At the end of the day, I identified the necessities and the excesses in my life. I focused on getting basic staples and timeless pieces that will last several seasons. I have chosen to adopt a minimal waste lifestyle, where I work to minimize my environmental impact. Ever since I made the switch, I have less stuff and more substance. I’m aware that not everyone can fit all their trash into a mason jar, but if we can all reduce our waste in some way, we can make the world a better place.
Writing this post was therapeutic for me. In retrospect, I can see that I had a fantastic year. Although I didn’t get all the answers I wanted in 2015, I know that God will complete the work He started. One of my favorite verses is Jeremiah 29:11. It says,
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
That promise from God is enough optimism and hope to launch me into 2016. I cannot wait to see how His plans unfold in my life.
Did you make a vision board this year? Or make New Years resolutions? If so, what were your main themes for 2016? Leave a comment below :)
After coming back from my Spring Break trip with my friend Jennifer to Johannesburg and Cape Town, I was excited to share my adventures with friends and family. It wasn’t until I started comparing notes that I realized we had packed an insane amount of activities into the 3 days we spent in Johannesburg and 2 in Cape Town. I’ve pulled together some tips to help you see South Africa like a local. May they serve you well on your journey!
Disclaimer: This is not a paid review. I just believe in giving credit where credit is due.
1. Stay with Curiocity Backpackers
When I told my good friend that I was traveling to Johannesburg, he told me that there was no better place to stay than at`1` the Curiocity Backpackers hostel located in the Maboneng Precinct. Their website and Facebook page highlighted game nights, clean bunk beds, an in-house bar, and a prime location in an eclectic neighborhood. We were sold. The Curiocity team were extremely helpful at all points of our trip: they arranged for a driver to come pick us up from the airport (Ask for Arnold, he’s our favorite!), Dudu (sweetest girl ever) was at the front desk to greet us with a warm welcome and show us our room. First thing that struck me about the hostel was that it was the kind of place I would see in a cool urban magazine. From the graffiti wall with “Curiocity” scrawled across it to the upper deck attached to the kitchen, there wasn’t a design element the guys hadn’t thought of. The second thing that surprised me was how young the guys are (pictured above). Bheki Dube brought together a group of entrepreneurial friends and merged their ventures into one awesome experience for young travelers.
#2. Explore local neighborhoods
In my opinion, the best way to see South Africa is through a guided tour with someone who will show you the historical sites as well as the quirky spots in the area. I will admit that upon arrival at Jo’Burg, my main objective was to soak up the sun and eat South African food. So when I signed up for the Inner City walking tour with Bonnie from Curiocity, I had no real expectations other than to have fun. I’m pretty sure Bonnie took us EVERYWHERE in the city and I’m equally sure he knew EVERYONE in the area. We were always greeted warmly because we were with Bonnie. Most of the pictures from my South Africa photo gallery post were taken during Bonnie’s tour. His extensive knowledge of South Africa’s history and connection to the city of Johannesburg helped us understand the significance of the sites we were seeing. We ended the day on a somber note at the Apartheid Museum (which has a student discount if you present your ID). Our town to Soweto the next day was led by Tshepo. His tour “Sowe2 With Love” took us through historical area of Soweto. We walked on Vilakazi Street, the only street in the world to have housed two Nobel Prize winners (Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu). We also visited the Hector Pieterson museum while we were there. If you’re interested in taking the tours, click on the links above to get more information.
#3. Do something you’re afraid of
As we were wandering through the streets with Tshepo, my friend Jennifer had the insane idea to stop at a place where you could hold a snake. As you can see in the picture above, I had no chill about the entire situation. I did manage to touch the snake and then warm up to the idea of letting it drape over me. This speaks to how comfortable I was on the tour and how confident I was that Tshepo wouldn’t let me die in Soweto. Because Tshepo is very familiar with the area, we were able to see some great spots in area. Just as was the case with Bonnie’s tour, everyone greeted us warmly and invited us into their stores and their home.
#4. Enjoy the scenic routes
After our Soweto tour, we headed over to the Orlando Towers. In between the two towers, you can see there is a small red platform for bungee jumping. I really wanted to do it, but after the snake incident I figured I’d had enough excitement for the day. Behind the wall was a great hangout spot called Chaf Pozi where people were eating braai and jamming along with the music. Braai is South Africa’s version of barbeque meat and it is delicious! I was so busy savoring the flavor and enjoying the atmosphere that I don’t remember to take a picture of the inside. But that’s a good problem to have. This was a great people-watching spot where we could see the young and old dancing, eating, and laughing together.
#5. Ride public transportation
When we were on Bonnie’s tour, he showed us different hand signs you could use to hail a city van in Jo’Burg. Most of the time, when the van pulled up to you it was typically jam-packed with people. It was a cool way to see local people and feel like you were part of the hustle and bustle of the city. Jennifer and I always went around together and we had the help of our new friends to tell us where we were going and . I do not recommend going on the bus alone. It was a little overwhelming and easy to lose your way. The van pictured above taken during our Sowe2 tour where it was just us, Tshepo and our driver friend. We lucked out and just happened to be the only ones on the tour that day so we had to whole van to ourselves that day. Special thanks to Ayo for letting us borrow his GoPro and selfie stick!
#6. Sample the local cuisine
We were given a some good food recommendations of things to eat while in South Africa. The top three things were braai, bunny chow, and an ostrich burger. We got to try all three and they were all delicious. It wasn’t hard to find braai, but we had a little difficulty tracking down bunny chow. We finally found it at the Eastern Food Bazaar when we visited Cape Town. Bunny chow is a hollowed out loaf of bread and filled with a stewed/curried meat (chicken or lamb). The little Nigerian girl in me was taken back to the days of dipping agege bread in stew. This meal was genius and I’m going to find a way to have it again in the States.
Here’s a list of the restaurants we ate at while we were in South Africa:
- Little Addis (Ethiopian food in South Africa. Seemed pretty authentic and spicy…very spicy lol)
- Cadillac Jack’s Roadhouse (The caramelized onions & sauce with the cheeseburger were perfect)
- Soul Souvlaki (I recommend the “mixed grill” with chicken, lamb, and bisteki)
- Fabulous Burger Boys (Try a tasty ostrich burger)
- Chaf Pozi (Enjoy some great braai and great music)
- Truth Coffee Roasting (We didn’t even eat here. We just wandered in and sat down. By the time we left, we’d had a deep conversation about race with an American PhD student we randomly met.)
- Eastern Food Bazaar (Get the bunny chow. Make sure you have a lot of room in your stomach!)
- Little restaurant attached to Curiocity (I forget the name of the place, but we had breakfast there twice and dinner once. The meals are simple and low-cost. The staff is always friendly and willing to feed you early or late. Great place to eat if you’re in a pinch for time or money.)
Word of advice: If you’re trying to sample as many dishes as possible, I suggest that you and a friend order different things and share with each other. This is Jennifer’s style and since she’s been to more than 20 countries already, I think we can trust her advice.
So now you’ve seen all of my trip to South Africa. I already miss my Curiocity brothers and am scheming to return soon. If I didn’t have the travel bug I definitely got it after this trip. I hope this post helps you see the real South Africa, rather than the packaged tourist version. Cheers to more trips in the future!
In case you missed it, check out Part I: Naturale Chronicles Goes to South Africa.
My favorite purchases from last year were my red Hershel dupe knapsack and my secondhand cafe-brown Levi jeans. Naturally, I brought them with me on my week-long vacation to South Africa last week. The cafe pants a great staple piece in my closet and were very comfy to walk around in through the city. My knapsack held all my essentials (passport, money, IDs, water bottle, sunscreen, etc) and allowed me to explore the city hands-free. I will let these two items tell the story of my trip to South Africa.
Special thanks to Bonnie, our tour guide in Johannesburg from Curiocity Backpackers. Stay tuned for my part II of this post, giving more details about the places I went, things I did, and people I met in South Africa.
Have any of you traveled to South Africa? Leave me a link to your blog post below. I’d love to see what you saw!
(Photo cred: Jennifer Osias)
“In 2014, I Will…” New Years resolution post, I mentioned that I wanted to travel and make more memories with my friends. I’m excited at the progress I’m making already. In January, I went on a family cruise to Cozumel. At the beginning of February, I went to New Orleans to celebrate my friend Vanessa’s 25th birthday.
I’ve been friends with Vanessa since my freshman year in undergrad. When she randomly told me about her birthday celebration, I immediately said yes. I didn’t even stop to think of the cost or if my schedule would permit me to come. All I knew was that this was an opportunity to celebrate my friend and make memories. I’ve learned to stop overthinking and waiting for happiness to come to me. In life you have to be intentional and purposeful. I know the kind of life I want to have– one filled with love, adventure, and laughter.
Being at school for the past few months, I haven’t seen my college friends in a long time. In our time apart, I’d forgotten how much I like them and enjoy their company. These people knew me when I was Timi the awkward freshman, Timi the teacher, and they love me just the same as Timi the friend in grad school miles away. I have grown with these beautiful people and I am excited to stay in touch and grow old together.
My trip to New Orleans was only a weekend, but it was enough for me. For this one time, I was content to just be with them again. We honestly didn’t have a extensive itinerary: we ate, we went downtown to Bourbon, we went to brunch, tried some beignets for the first time, had a masquerade dinner, and went home.
But the weekend reminded me that sometimes it only takes a couple days of fun to remind you to live more fully.
Special thanks to Vanessa, who orchestrated this whole birthday shindig. It was great and it gives me something to think about for my 25th birthday in May.
Look out for my next trip post. I’m going to somewhere nice and warm for Spring Break!
Every New Years Eve, I enjoy making goals for myself. I’m a big picture kind of gal, so I like to start with the vision of who I’d like to be at the end of the year and I work backwards from there.
This year, I turn a quarter of a century old. I’m not obsessing about it or checking for gray hairs in the mirror. I’m not lamenting the fact that I’m not married. Instead, I’m looking forward to year 25 with great anticipation. I’m looking forward to a new chapter of life.
Here are my Top 10 things I am resolved to do in 2014:
1. Get serious about my faith and prayer life
When I look at my life thus far, I know that I am where I am together because of God, His mercy, and His favor in my life. I want to challenge myself to live more fully for Him, myself, and for others. I often struggle with my prayer life and reading my Bible more regularly, but I’m pushing myself to do it because I know it changes your walk and your talk.
2. Travel (at least one overseas trip)
I want to go see the world. Ever since I started working, I’ve been saving for a big trip. I’m not sure where and I’m pretty open to different countries and cultures. I’ve always wanted to go to Australia (just saying). I will definitely be traveling next year, so if you need a travel buddy, just tell me when and where and we’ll make it happen.
3. Learn (5) new dishes
I will be the first to admit that I’m not a great cook. I can follow a recipe with no problem, but I’m not an instinctive cook. I had some rough days with unseasoned chicken and bland food. I’m tired of eating poorly because I don’t know how to cook. My goal for next year is to learn how to cook 5 signature dishes without the help of a recipe book. American, Nigerian, Jamaican, whatever. I just want to make food.
4. More adventures
I am an undercover adrenaline junky. I see things like jumping out of an airplane and I think of how thrilling that would be. I’d be 10% scared and 90% excited. Most of the time, I get over the little bit of fear that I have inside and go for the big jump. In the past, I’ve let convenience or cost deter me from potential adventure. No more of that. My new motto is “Pay for experiences, not things.”
5. Take a REAL vacation
I mentioned in a previous post that I’d like to take more vacations and have more “me” time. I mean the kind of vacation where I leave my laptop at home, grab my carry-on luggage and hop on a plane without a backward glance. I actually wouldn’t mind a cross-country road trip. Perhaps go see some old friends in London. Maybe even cross the border into either Canada or Mexico. Or explore Cape Town with Toni. No matter where I go for Spring Break or for vacation, it will be epic!
6. Get an awesome summer internship
I am looking for an opportunity that will allow me to experience new things and grow as an individual. I want to be inspired. I want to make things. I want to get my DIY mojo back. I refuse to subject myself to a 9-to-5 where I am answering phones or getting coffee. It’s not that I am too good for such things, but at this point in my life I am ready for something more substantial.
7. Be a better friend/sister/daughter
I am noticing that I am starting to lose touch with some of my old friends. I sometimes feel like I don’t know them anymore. All we have in common now are our memories of the good times in college. We don’t call each other or text each other so I never hear from there until I come home for the holidays. But that has to change. I have decided that I am actually quite fond of my old friends and I’d actually like to have them around when I get older. I can’t be the one waiting for the phone to ring, I need to take the first step and reach out. It only takes one good conversation to start or rekindle a friendship.
8. Legitimize Style Lottery
I launched my nonprofit, Style Lottery, in Fall 2013. I want to build a team of passionate volunteers who can assist me in helping over 15 women next year. I’m excited to see how this organization will grow and step up to fulfill the needs of women in low-income communities.
9. Define my personal brand
For someone like me who is always changing the way she looks, it’s going to be hard for me to not totally reinvent myself like I always do. I have found a look and a style that I really like. I call it the “Professoriate” look. It makes me look like an adjunct professor: colored pants, loafers, tortoise shell glasses, cardigans, and blazers. I’m going to stick with this look (at least while I’m in graduate school. I’m starting to realize that my quirks are also part of my personal brand. My obsession with fine point and felt tip pens, mini notebooks, and planners are a large part of who I am. My shoulder length locs. I’m embracing it all. It’s my brand. You’ll know me when you see me.
10. Have an epic 25th birthday party
I’m going all out. A party with balloons, a cake with sparkler candles, a pinata, and a dance floor– that’s all I want. My last birthday was a bit of a bust. I had an extensive birthday week planned out and then I went and caught a serious cold that knocked me out for the whole weekend. Somewhere deep inside me, the little girl in me wants someone to throw me a surprise party. I love surprises! No matter if I have to throw it myself, I will have a blast.
In this coming year, I want my life to be more about quality and less about quantity. The other day, I was sitting in my room and looked around to find that I had a lot of stuff. Nothing substantial, just items (clothes I no longer wear, online purchases, etc) taking up space. I have a growing aversion for hoarding unnecessary things, so I just started packing up things and giving them away. Thankfully, my nonprofit is the solution to my problem. I love meeting the women that Style Lottery gives to. I’m excited that God has given me this opportunity use my love for fashion to help others.