Chipping Away At the American Dream – 2013
Facebook gave me a summary of the major events of this year. I was amazed at the number of things I had forgotten had happened along the way. The criteria FB used was to select the most popular posts of the year judging by how many friends liked them when you posted. While that highlighted some things I would like to reflect on, I felt a bit depressed about some of the posts. However, I generally noticed that my friends “like” those posts that tell them I am happy, I achieved something, or raved positively about my children, family and friends. Other than being directly miserable and complaining bitterly, I have a feeling people do not know whether to like a post when its sentiment is not very clear, i.e. “I finally broke up with my boyfriend.” It might be good news to some if I had been struggling to break up with a serial cheater, but not so good news if I am losing a friend whom we could no longer see eye to eye. That post may not be popular but it is a major event in my life. Besides that, some of the major events in my life have not been considered worth sharing yet, because of the time factor. Some things are better shared in retrospect.
As for my big moments in 2013, here is a little history, I hope you get inspired.
The year in review begins with an enlarged picture of what was the best gift I got last Christmas. I just realized that I only wore that set once and I have no idea where on earth it went. Says a lot about Christmas presents, I did not think about half the things I received for all this year, and tomorrow I will be opening others. I promise to remind myself to make use of what I receive or else to pass it on to someone who needs it more. May the Spirit of Christmas prevail.
Featuring prominently in the pictures at that time of the year is my friend Sherelle with her nieces, the twins. Sherelle was there last Christmas and took Kuwunda out to see the Fireworks display. Two days ago, Sherelle came with the twins to pay us a visit and drop off Christmas gifts for us. If that is not a true friend, then I do not know who is. So Sherelle is here with us through good and bad, a friend that I have found reliable and “stress free” (hahaha, what ever that means) 🙂 When I first met Sherelle, she had the brand of shyness that makes you look unfriendly and aloof, but i kept greeting and talking with her. Then one day, we clicked and since then, we have not really been out of each other’s lives. Thank God for true friends, they will always be there no matter what season it is because they are like family.
A picture I posted of me and my husband in our earlier years, went viral (at least on my wall). People tend to like pictures a lot I do not know if that is their way of showing compassion or it is synching with the event. Or may be it is because my husband and I do not appear in pictures together so much anymore. I do not know if that is a tell-tale sign of a troubled relationship or of people so free and happy with another they have nothing to prove. Anyway, people really liked it. The picture received 45 likes and 17 comments in all, rather popular considering that I am not very good at responding to comments that say wonderful things about me (my own worst critic). Most interesting comment.Oui c’est vous, et bien sur c’est tellement un jolie couple……..!!
February 14th, Valentine’s day. I passed my Certified Nursing Assistant exams. I set out to get a career and a job in June 2012 so I could be able to help my father who was very ill and my family back home needed financial help to get him good medical care. I decided to pursue the one path I had resisted all along because according to me, I did not need to become a CNA like everyone in my circle was and suggested. In January of 2012, I started writing fervently on Hubpages in the hope that I could make some money to help with buying my baby some diapers. I realized that I needed to write as an American to be read by American audiences, In March 2012, my family and I received our Green Cards and I straight away I enrolled into university to pursue a degree in Creative Writing English with a specialty in non-fiction.When duty called, I sat for the Tab tests and enrolled into Nursing Assistant school. When I started Nursing School on August 21st, My father had been in his grave, exactly 7 days (he was buried on August 14th). For most of my studies I cried, but I paid a lot of attention to the things that caused my father so much pain. I did not need to make money to help him get better anymore, but I decided the week before I started school when he passed, that I would use my skills to help other parents and families get better, as a gift to my dad who was such a wonderful and caring person. I determined to the best CNA I ever knew.
On Valentine’s day, sat for my written exams and practical exams. I nailed both of them. What a relief! My American dream was taking shape in just little over three months since we became permanent residents. I registered this blog and got ready to talk about our lives here in America and hopefully share them a little like a reality show would. That dream has not yet taken effect because of what has happened since then and me not being sure where to start from. 48 likes and 35 comments, viral by my standards. I loved what people had to say, but an old friend who has always encouraged me posted this comment that I will take away: of the reading of books, there is no end..well done go another step
In between Valentines’ day and March 7th, my family and I drove to Atlanta Georgia for a relative’s wedding, but that does not appear anywhere, I guess it was no big deal..To us, it was. We were in Georgia on 2nd March when snow flew in the air and it was colder than anything we have experienced in our lives, it was like a dream seeing little insignificant flakes of ice flying in the air. We loved the experience. We especially loved driving the ten hours to there and the ten hours back. We also enjoyed being with members of our family whom we rarely ever see, we almost decided to stay there.
On March 7th, it was Women’s day (celebrated in most parts of the world). I got hired and would be started my life as a Nursing Assistant here in Florida, counted as my first job. It was difficult knowing where to apply as a Nursing Assistant especially with little or no experience in the field. I did not want to join local homes that paid people so little and treated them like they did not matter. This is a subject for another book, the poor treatment a lot of caregivers get from their employers, especially in the smaller facilities. My question is, when a worker is treated so poorly by an employer, how good are they likely to be at their job? Besides that, there is the constant struggle between workers to be on the good side of the boss. May be that happens everywhere people work, may be that is why I have always wanted to be self-employed because I cannot stand such bias and pettiness. Well, that is not what I am talking about now. I got a job with an agency that was run quite professionally too. In fact, I got hired by two very different agencies, I knew one of them would put me to the test because of the reception I received and the attitude displayed towards me from the first day, but that did not matter so much, I was there to be the best CNA, care excellently for my clients and bring more business to my employer. I was off to a great start even if the hours never really were sufficient to earn me a reasonable living. 38 likes and 18 comments. The comment that caught my eye was from a satirist back home in my country, Zambia: “Good old God. I see that he was so pre-occupied sorting out your employment that he took his eye off the ball in Syria. Please God, pay attention! Syria was having problems, they still are today. I was being rebuked for saying “Praise be to God for giving me a job!” My sentiments right now: just because the heavens have fallen down in America, does not mean that God stops caring for people in a village in Africa, It is all significant and what matters is our view.
On April 15th, I posted my first picture in scrubs from work. I was taking a break from caring for my first regular client. I loved her and I got my first endorsement there as a Nurse of character, compassion and degrees. What was supposed to have been a onetime arrangement became a long term arrangement and I loved it thoroughly. It is wonderful to know that though the person eventually died two days after my last visit and five before my next, I still remain close with her family. May Her Precious Soul Rest in Great Peace, she deserves it. 21 likes, 8 comments. Fascinating comment: “Even in scrubs you still look gud sister…” I wonder if I am supposed to look ugly in scrubs. Or did that mean I did not look good in scrubs?
On May 12th, For Mother’s day, I wrote a tribute in form of a poem to my mom. My sisters must have shown it to her. The title of the poem was “The Woman My Mother Was.” Only four likes, but i highlighted it. It had 13 comments, 12 shares (8 of them mine on the walls of friends who had lost their mothers). My mother is still alive, I was writing about her early years with us and presently. Famed comment:“Wow am speechless! So amazing!” I just wished she could say more to let me know whether or not my poetry or tribute really was nice or it sucked. What did my friend find amazing? My mom personally, her hair or my writing? No way of knowing or asking.
May 17th, another indulgent mug of myself in scrubs. Something about scrubs or people feeling sorry for me, 36 likes and 17 comments. The comment that concerned me: “Crack a smile next time.” Some friends may not know, sometimes smiles are so hard to come by and when taking a selfie, cracking a smile seems like the weirdest thing to do. Smiling at myself or some imaginary audience? I have done it before, but at that time I had imaginary friends and I used to hear voices in my head.
By June 20th, I was a working woman, mother to four young girls below 17, a wife, working two jobs both day and night. I was still studying for my degree online and trying to write whenever I could, life could not have been more stressful. My whole life was a major struggle. My two year old was noticing the competition for time between all these preoccupations and taking care of her. She would make me miserable with her demands for attention, so I found one way to keep her busy, the one I had kept her from all her life (two years), watching TV. My family introduced her to television to keep her busy when I was away at work. So now, she watched PINGU over and over, till she began to behave like Pinga (Pingu’s little sister). By the way, Pingu is a penguin cartoon series from Sweden, I believe. 16 likes and five comments. Comment pick: “she looks exactly like you Isabella..how sweet.” Very nice comment from my college friend of almost two decades ago. I do not know when I last looked like that, when I was 2 years old? My hair might have been better because my mom did not keep herself so busy with the things that distract me from being the mother she was.
June 25th, amazing day. Toastmasters gave me an award as one of the Best Speakers of the year 2012/2013. I became a Toastmaster because of my university studies. I like telling stories, when Toastmasters afforded me an opportunity to listen to the stories of others and tell my own, I was hooked and have been a member since. Actually, they found my stories interesting enough to put me on the lineup for an award. I was truly honored and so now I have a medal to my name. Besides that, I have many ribbons for speaker of the night or day, I look at them everyday (just joking). 39 likes, 16 comments. Favorite comment:
“That’s very nice. I cannot wait for the next level of achievement. Keep up the good work,” from another friend who has encouraged me through the years. He has even made me believe that I could one day be a Congress Woman here in America! I am sick and vain enough to believe him. Hahaha. Chipping away at the American dream.
July 20, this was a post that makes me blush (you might not see it, but I feel it) when I read. I decided to behave like many American parents, stop and brag about my children, I rarely ever did that, now I am part of the team since I did it. So I bragged about my children in many words that painted them as the most wonderful children a parent could ever have, even if that is far from the truth. My children do very well and I had to stop for once to give them accolades. Of course I just wanted to talk about Luwi’s award, but how could I ignore the fact that Wamweni had brought in many awards since middle school and through high school, but I never mentioned any of it to my friends because it was out of character for me? So I swallowed hard and talked about everyone. 29 likes, 7 comments. Outstanding comment: “This is that (sic) very good. You sound so much like me.” Coming from the one person I really would like to sound like, he was my respected English teacher in high school and faithful brother in the Christian community.
September 12th was my second daughter’s sweet sixteen birthday. I stopped to say some very nice words to her. I affirmed her in all the areas she needed to grow. I hope she saw that. I said I was so happy to have her as my baby and I would go back to have her again if it meant doing that. Of course it was just semantics, I did not really mean it, my forty plus so many years old body cannot take it. Besides, I do not want to give birth to anymore children even if it meant having the same one again. 26 likes and only three miserable comments! Did people not realize that I wanted more than likes? For heaven’s sake, this was my baby’s sweet sixteen birthday. Best comment: “Thank You, Love You Too!!” Oh, bless your heart Luwi, I rarely get to hear that, save on my birthday and some other important celebration.
September 20th, I was tagged in 14 photos by my little cousin all the way in Kimberly, South Africa. The beauty of the internet and Facebook is that we get to share live memories from the past and of places we have never been in. I am no longer mad at family that took away my pictures without asking (it is nothing to blink at in Africa, it used to happen a lot), because at least i can have access to them again online. Thank God for Facebook, we are regaining the things we lost and sharing in memories that could forever be lost, just like me sharing my year in review now. 11 likes, 7 comments. Heart stopping comment: “And where dd u steal those frm if I may ask.” Like I said, we have the beautiful opportunity of once again sharing lost moments. Some family members collect family photos, now they can share them. Hahahaha.
October 12, I finally let my hair down and received compassionate likes for my bathroom mug shot. 19 likes, 4 comments (I don’t care). Humbling comment: “Mistaken identity ; is it you or Constancy?” That came from my own brother in law that I spent so many years with. This is a sign that I am growing old and have completely changed, otherwise why would I be unrecognizable? Am I being paranoid?
November 19th, pictures of me in a limousine and on my way to speak at Stetson University. My blood is still boiling with excitement as I recall. I thoroughly enjoyed that trip, the talk and the people I met, I am yet to recover from all that, if I ever will. Am I getting closer to becoming a Congress Woman? 37 likes, 13 comments. Touching comment: “wow I can sleep, I can crawl, I can stand and do all sorts of stuff in that Limo..Isabella u surely deserve it.” I wish I could do all that stuff too, but the driver was just a rear view mirror away. I felt embarrassed even taking a picture of my own leg and the roof! As for deserving it like most of my friends told me I did, I am wondering if they think I deserved the Chickenpox I imagined I had?
November 25, I wrote a note, the equivalent of a blog on facebook. It had been a while since I did that. My posts tend to be quite long (I cannot help it, I am a story teller, I need to be timed all the time), so I thought a little blog would do, besides it would say so much more; I could tag my regular readers and share my thoughts. “Hidden Valleys” was an inspirational note. 27 likes (less mine because my own likes do not count, that is why i do not like my own posts), 19 comments. My favorite comment: “Perfect timing! I got this message during a funeral mass this morning of a wonderful woman who was and is an angel now! I was in the Saint Paul cathedral… God is real! Thank you xo… Blessings.” This is why I write, it is the reason why I want to share inspiration from deep down my heart.
November 30th, Kuwaha’s birthday. A truth I must admit is that Kuwaha nursed until she was three years old. I am not ashamed to say that. I could have continued for a little longer because with my busyness, that was our most intimate point of contact. But, a survey or research done which proved that breastfed children are smarter, also said that the longer a child breastfeeds, the smarter the child is, but after age three, there is a decline that begins to take place. Well, I shamelessly shooed Kuwaha away from the breast like a mother hen shooes away her chicks after a while. Concerning the breastfeeding findings, I had a little talk with my kids and used their school performance and levels of struggle as reference to how long they breastfed. You should have seen the murderous looks I got from some of them, especially those who chose to wean themselves at 6 months because they preferred formula; and those who weaned themselves at 12 months because they could not stand the taste of colostrum after the birth of their sibling. The last two had their ultimate fill. I am so proud that I managed to breastfeed my children so diligently and avoided a lot of childhood sicknesses and ailments. Well Kuwaha turned three, gloriously rejoicing along with her was her whole family here. Cutest comment:“Happy birthday Kuwaha! Love from Scotland.” Love from across the oceans, from Europe; from Swaziland, in Africa. I was touched so much, especially by friends I rarely talk with.
December 3, another note about the importance of friendship. In this note, I spoke about learning form the least likely people and how that experience enriched my life and helped me make some great financial investments (by my standards). 17 likes, 10 comments. Truthful Comment: “That article best describes me Isabella Mukanda Shamambo……on point !” I like it when people sees themselves in my writing, even if I am not so sure what exactly they are referring to, but I have the secret pleasure of assigning meaning!
December 10th, our wedding anniversary and I was talking about power in relationships in a note. 11 likes, 9 comments. Did I record a decline in the number of my readers? Or was it a dislike in the content? Frankly, many people do not come on Facebook to read long posts or blogs. Most of the times, we are preoccupied with airing our sentiments. I spend more time reading and responding to what others write than I spend posting; I love reading so it does not matter. However, I am hesitant about posting because as a writer, I want my writings to be impeccable, but that is hardly the case. On the other hand, in forums where I comment, I have a lot of pain because it is so easy to be misunderstood, but I do not hold my tongue, often. Then when I write as a reader, I use my phone and the typos are horrible, but I cannot help to wait and respond at any other time. I believe in hitting the metal while it is still hot. Comment to reflect on:“…..ow go thru it again en again, its good en it needs undivided attention. Thanks sis.” I wonder how many friends really read and even consider coming back to read some more? I am probably the only one who does that, when I at least enjoy my writing. Sometimes I do not revisit my writings.
December 15 , Nelson Mandela was interred. I did not know it was the day, but for me the mourning had just began. Many things happened in my own life since his death on December 6th. I had changes in job schedules, lost one of my jobs and went through some major emotional roller coasters; but I was back to mourn the passing of a great man. 8 likes, 4 comments. What do you expect? I was not Mandela’s spokesperson, the whole world was abuzz with news of his day and reactions. A comment I posted later got more reaction than I meant it to, especially with regard to the talk of race. Down to earth comment: “I understand grief and loss, but I suggest his was a long life of getting up and getting on.” I hear you, friend, you are telling me that it is time for him to rest. Rest In Peace Madiba, may be one day when I am Congress Woman, I can walk just a little closer to where you walked.