I saw this goofy graphic on Tumblr that read something like: "I think 2015 tried to kill me". Alas, this quote is used somewhat in jest, but 2015 was indeed probably the most challenging year of my life. There have been a number of not-so-happy days, which is the main reason it's taken me over a year and half to get to Day 53 of my positive thinking challenge. I lost two dear friends in the first half of the year, and honestly the thought of entering a new year without them in the World had left me in a rather melancholy and contemplative mood.
That being said, these losses have been constant reminders of Carpe Diem - to seize the day. Life is for living. Each moment is an opportunity to move closer to the kind of person you want to be. Though I struggled this year, I also found the courage, with immense support and inspiration from family and friends, to step outside my comfort zone. It's been important to me this year to be very real about both the highs and the lows, because life is a messy, beautiful hodgepodge of all those moments. So here some of my most memorable (for better or worse) moment of 2015. Warning: picture-heavy post ahead!
In January, spent some time at home after my semester in Ghana. Going to my little Norwegian village always allows me to recentre and figure things out. This time at home was much needed after a very brainy and emotional time in Ghana. I feel so grateful to have been able to go home and spend Christmas and New Years with my parents and sister, who flew in from the States. There's really nothing like a Norwegian Christmas.
After coming back to the States for school in mid-January, I returned to Norway
for the burial of a dear friend at the beginning of February.
for the burial of a dear friend at the beginning of February.
On the day of the funeral, it rained, as though the sky was weeping with us.
When I got back to school, I participated in a production of Ntozake Shange's For Coloured Girls. I played The Lady in Purple. Formed some amazing friendships with the women I performed with and grew so much as person. I'm so grateful for this experience.
In March, W. Kamau Bell visited my college campus, and some students had the opportunity to chat with him. My friends and I made sure to get some pictures with him.
In April, I saw one of my favourite bands, Ibeyi, live in an intimate concert with my sister and some friends. We got to snap photos with them after the show.
In May, my beautiful and intelligent rock star of a sister got her Master's in Business and Administration! Our parents flew in from Norway, my grandmother (who lives in Ghana, but was visiting family in the US at the time) was able join us, and my uncle and aunt from San Diego drove up to celebrate her achievements as well.
Several of our adopted siblings, our chosen family who mean the world to us, joined us. Our sister, Mariama, also made the trip to celebrate Nana. It was a big, beautiful family reunion. We were all so proud of our MBA!
The turn-up was amazing. We had a blast! #NanaisanMBA
After graduation the parents, big sis and I joined our Californian family for a road trip to Yellowstone, Las Vegas, and joined them at home in California. Then we bid adieu to the parents, sending them back to the land of the midnight sun.
Sis and I took our first trip to Disney World with our aunt and uncle. It was wonderful.
And then a few days later, I headed to Ghana to continue my fieldwork in Accra. In Ghana, I got the explore new parts of Accra while trekking around the city to do interviews and participant observation. My friend, Rhoda, a true Accra girl, was a tremendous tour guide. I also had time to catch with my friends from study abroad, and attend graduation at our school.
I returned to the States for to spend my first full summer here working and taking the time to get to know my city better, and enjoy all it had to offer. My sister Nana, and my friend, were my partners in crime as we explored park, new cafes, and restaurants, and enjoyed moments of carefreeness under the summer sun.
In August, I took a spontanous trip to Chicago with a group of friends. It was my first time in the Windy City, and I have to say, the city stole my heart.
The end of summer saw our cousin marrying her best friend. My sister and had the privilege of attending the California nuptials. It was a beautiful ceremony, full joy and love.
This semester, I signed up to have my own radio show on my college's radio station, which has been an item on my college bucket list for some time. I played a variety of Afro-diasporic music, particularly emphasised sharing Afropean sounds not on Top 40 lists with my community.
It was a blast, and I was so humbled by my family and friends who tuned in from different parts of the US and across the Atlantic Ocean to listen in! I am excited to continue this next year.
Another item on my bucket list that I wanted to cross of was to contribute to my college's newspaper. I signed up to write a coffee column for the food and drink section. I explored different coffee shops around the Twin Cities, and reviewed both the beverages and the ambiance. It allowed me to explore the city and the response from my peers was amazing. My first article was one of the most shared throughout the semester.
I got to see another of my favourite artists, Lianne La Havas live.
Words cannot do justice to how great she sounded and how wonderful the experience was.
It was AMAZING! I smile just thinking of it ...
My friends from high school, who I had not seen since we graduated three years and half years ago, came to spend Thankgiving with my sister and I. We were joined some other friends based in our city and it was a beautiful time of reconnecting.
The holiday season, spent here in the States this year has been a time of rest, reflection, and laughter. I am grateful for my sister, parents, and friends who have become like family, and love me, as imperfect as I am. I am grateful for life and for the lessons this year has taught me. I am looking forward to applying these lessons in the new year.
I particularly want to give shout out to these individuals, Nana and Hanna, who have been my pillars during this time. I love you both.
And also pho. Pho was really the homie this year. Thank you, Vietnam, for this beautiful dish.
The ultimate comfort food.
2016, I am excited for what you will bring! Please, be gentle.
In my next post, I'll talk about my New Year's Resolutions. But for now, I am going to eat leftover pizza, write some notes, and watch the Jane the Virgin.
Happy New Year, everyone!