5 Things I Learned In Haiti

As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, I recently traveled to Haiti and that trip taught me a lot. So in this blog post, I will share 5 things Haiti taught me.

1. My Love for Culture and People of Color

Living in America in predominantly white places, I have never really gotten a chance to be surrounded by people of color for extended periods of time. The feelings I got in Haiti were quite similar to the ones I got after watching Black Panther. It’s hard to describe, but there is so much power in being around people who look like you. Very cliche, but I felt at home in Haiti. I didn’t feel like I stuck out, I didn’t feel out of place, and I loved it! Also, I loved the culture. Coming from a household of blended cultures (Nigerian and Kenyan) it was no surprise I fell in love the with Haitian culture and the similarities I found between it and the environment I was raised in. I saw simplicity, work ethic, and joy just to name a few but also just a strong sense of community. Most of all I saw beauty in the way the people around me lived their lives, and I found God at work in the details, the big picture… I saw Him in it all.

2. Paved Roads and Driving Laws

The last time I went to Kenya, I was two, so I don’t remember much. I rely on the stories of my parent’s childhoods to paint the picture of living in a third world country. My mom has always talked about how long it takes to do things there. Doing one thing can be an all-day event, and most of the time it’s simply because of the commute. The minute we hit our first gravel/dirt road, I finally began to understand what my mom had been talking about for all those years. Paved roads are truly a blessing and driving laws are too because they save you for almost having a heart attack on the road.

3. The Importance of Communication

As a black girl, the most frequent questions I got when I was in Haiti were are you Haitian, do you speak Creole, and do you speak French, to all of which I answered no. People were in shock, mainly because I look like them and they just assumed I was or could do all of the above, but also because it really limited my ability to talk with them. Thankfully I had wonderful translators around that were more than amazing, but I felt so entitled and even rude to be in their country without knowing even a little Creole, yet they knew anywhere from one to four languages. To say the least, I don’t plan on visiting a country without knowing at least a few common phrases. But in all honesty, I’m in the process of learning Creole as you reading this.

4. People are People

Cultures are different but people are people. While languages don’t always translate, smiles do and thank God for that! It’s funny how when you can’t communicate very well sometimes that’s when it’s easiest to see someone’s heart. It’s easy to get distracted by looks, status, etc., but nothing says more about a person than they’re joy, they’re smiling, and their heart.

5. Less Is More

A lesson I’ve been learning recently is that there are pros and cons to everything. I love living in America, but because of the privilege I have living here, a lot of my worries and concerns are of things that don’t actually matter. To put it more simply, the things I worry about most are things that I am privileged to actually worry about. But living in a third world country, many people only worry about the things that actually matter: God, food, clothing, and family. It’s amazing how short that list is how long I make mine sometimes. Or how often times we think things will bring us happiness when in reality the exact opposite is true.

So those are a few of the things I learned while in Haiti. If you haven’t already, I hope you get a chance to visit the wonderful country. It is beautiful!

Until next time, get up, get moving, and be salt and light.

Introduction to a Minimalist Closet

MMinimalism. If you type it in on YouTube, you will come across a variety of videos. You’ll find the minimalist who owns two shirts, one pair of pants, shoes, and a toothbrush. You’ll find the minimalist that follows the black and white color pallet for everything they own. You might even find the minimalist that swears it only takes a day to turn your junk filled life into a clean and pristine existence. But then there are “minimalists” like me. While I’m not on YouTube, I feel as though I’ve watched enough videos on minimalism to realize it’s a simple concept, but it isn’t easily executed.

For the last six months, I’ve worked on becoming a minimalist, but I think I’ve come to the conclusion that I own too much stuff. I go through these phases where I’m ready to sell half of my belongings on eBay because I don’t feel they are necessary for my lifestyle. Then a week later I’m online shopping for a new pair of booties to add to my “collection” and at Sephora purchasing my fifth brightening face mask to grace my vanity this month.

While I am still working towards minimalism, I realize that it’s not an overnight process, and in some cases, it’s not even a six-month process. If you’re interested in minimalism, this is definitely the blog post for you, and even if you’re not you might learn a thing or two.

For this post, we’ll be focusing on your closet. This is where I tend to struggle the most. Here are a few dos and don’ts to get you started.


Do

Take Clothes Off Hangers

This is a good place to start because if you don’t do this, I promise you, you’ll be more likely to keep clothes that you don’t even wear or like. Putting them in a pile allows you to pick them up, hold them in your hands, take a good hard look at them and figure out if the item “brings you joy.”

Try Each Item On

No, I haven’t read The Life-Changing Magic of Tiding Up by Marie Kondo, and honestly I don’t plan on doing so. From all the videos I’ve watched I think I get the gist. Hold the item up or try them on. If it doesn’t bring you joy than don’t keep it. So that means, if it doesn’t fit or flatter your current body, not the body you plan to have in the summer, if it’s not your color, if it’s ripped… get rid of it! Those are the clothing items that make you feel like you don’t have anything to wear in a closet full of clothes. You ultimately want your closet to be full of clothes that you absolutely adore, so if a clothing item doesn’t fit those criteria it has to go.

Create Secondary Piles

Clearly, you won’t keep everything, and sometimes there are things you’re on the fence about. First, create plies for things that you want to sell, donate, or that you ought to keep. For the things you might want to keep, pack them up in a box and store them away somewhere. If in 30 days you haven’t reached for them or missed them at all it might be time to get rid of them. Add them to the sell or donate pile and discard of them.

Sell or Donate

Since we paid good money for our clothes we at least want to get some money back in return. I often sell on eBay, Poshmark, Vinted, and even at Plato’s Closet. Plato’s Closet is convenient because you get cash right away, but sometimes the return for your clothes isn’t the best. For example, if they feel that they can sell your item for $10 they will give you #3.50 for it. “Really, just $3.50,” is what I thought, but that’s better than nothing. If you don’t need immediate cash it might be better to go the eBay, Poshmark, or Vinted route. Each site is better at selling certain items than others, (i.e. Poshmark is great for selling women’s clothing and eBay is a good site for selling athletic wear) but the return is usually better than Plato’s Closet. If all else fails, donate it! There is no sense in keeping clothes you don’t wear or like around.


Don’t

Let Price Hold You Back

Often, we don’t want to sell our clothes because they cost so much money in the first place. It was expensive but having it hang in your closet unused isn’t going to help you. Maybe you can sell if for money or maybe you’ll just have to donate it. But letting it sit in your closet cluttering up your life is not an option. Don’t let the price tag trick you into keeping things you don’t use.

Create A Uniform

Yes, some of the most successful people like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg all created uniforms for themselves. Their uniforms generally consist of something like a black shirt, dad jeans, and tennis shoes. But let’s be honest, no twenty-something female is trying to wear the same thing every day. I’m all about expressing my own style and of course not about the dad jeans, so a uniform doesn’t really work for me. Instead, I find it easier to establish hard and fast rules for what I wear. For example, bodycon items don’t look good on me. I simply don’t have the body for them and while it’s 2017 and fashion rules don’t matter anymore, I just don’t feel comfortable in that clothing. With that said, one of my rules is “no bodycon clothing”. This makes it easy for me when I go shopping, especially online. When I see a bodycon skirt that I like and it looks fabulous on the model, I must remind myself that I don’t wear bodycon items and the reasons why. These rules help to take the thinking out of the many options you’re faced with while shopping. Creating rules for your style saves your wallet, and your minimalist wardrobe.

I would love to say that after reading this post, you’re well on your way to minimalism, but you probably still have a long way to go, I know I do. Minimalism is a lifestyle not something you do once. The idea of living with solely what you need is an interesting philosophy and your wardrobe is a great place to start if you’re interested. But if you are interested, hopefully this post was helpful in jumpstarting you. Let me know in the comments down below your thoughts on minimalism, particularly when it comes to your wardrobe, and any steps you’ve taken to live more simply.