REFLECTIONS: a work in progress

HelloHalima

It’s officially 31 days until 2020, what are your biggest accomplishments? Greatest downfalls? What have you learned? What are you proud of? Take a second, ponder it. 2019 has felt like whirlwind of losses, of wins, of some stagnancy but quick realizations that have turned into progress. Of understanding where you stand and where you want to stand. Of working towards something- a slow burn that you know will pay off in the end. Of meeting people who have changed your perceptions of how you love or want to be loved, or discarding of people who make you not love yourself to the best of your abilities.

Regardless of its inactivity, I’m still proud of this blog. I’m proud of my bounce-back game- my ability to move on and flourish from troubling situations that have plagued my life. I’ve learned that you will never be enough for someone- despite how hard you try, despite the work you put in- you cannot place your expectations of how someone should be/treat you on them- it will never be reflected the way you want it to be.

I was on the train the other day and an obvious but still alarming thought came into my mind: You can have what you’ve always wanted and still feel inadequate, undeserving of it- like it’s not enough, like it will never be.

I think that is the saddest downfall that we are faced with as human beings.

We search for happiness and when we have it right in front of us- when we have it in our midst- when we feel the embrace of what it feels like, when we see what it looks like and manifests into- we hardly recognize it.

Sadness becomes familiar, aching holes- voids that are left undone forever. Sometimes you’re tricked into thinking you’ve found something to fill the void, finally- you think to yourself- I won’t feel empty anymore

But like all gaping wounds- you are unable to stitch this one back together,

The sepsis spreads, makes you wish you never would’ve searched for remedies as the remedies are the cause of a deeper affliction,

The imposter syndrome that I feel dreads the truth, if you tell yourself something a million times, does it magically turn true?

It never feels quite enough, we’re grasping at straws only to come up with none,

Hope floods my mind as I wonder what the next chapter will be in my life,

Happiness and hope- they go hand in hand, until that sadness starts all over again. It’s never enough for any of us. What a shame.

I say all this to say, slow down, take a minute. I know that at the end of the day- the way you feel will be a catalyst for how you move through your life. It’s easy to bury the feelings of emptiness or loss- of unhappiness and hide behind distractions. To distract yourself with success or the pursuit of it and use its shield to “move past” traumas or feelings you have yet to heal from. Take a breath, take a minute, ponder what’s been hindering you, what you’ve been running from in your head. Take these 31 days to think about your year, your life, what you are working on, what you are proud of, what you are leaving behind. Once you do so, it will make all the difference.

Evading the inevitable

HelloHalima

What is it about the truth? That makes you want to play the avoidance game,

If you avoid something long enough- it’ll disappear right?

Wrong.

Erosions of miscommunication,

Deliverance of blunt truths,

In swift acts of self preservation,

I retreat within myself.

Terrified of what you might say, scared to see what could come of our new normal.

I want to save myself, I wish I could snap my fingers and trigger sudden on-set amnesia to forget

But I can’t.

You bring me great dissatisfaction,

knowing that I was your Achilles heel and yet you’ve gotten over what it was like for me to wound you.

It all feels kind of amateur- the idea that all it took was being true with yourself and suddenly I don’t want you?

Just like how you don’t want me?

Lying to each other seems like the obvious truth here, but maybe,

Just maybe,

It’s not a lie anymore.

It was an avoidance act all along.

We tried to get it together-

to sow seeds that were in need of something much stronger than water and sunlight,

Wishing and hoping for something to come out of this bleak and dreary situation.

But alas,

Talking in metaphors won’t solve the obvious here,

Neither will yearning for candy cane clouds to rain down sweet deliverance.

You painted me a pretty picture that I happily bought,

Naively framed and used as a pedestal to worship you.

The thing about letting go is,

when you see the truth- you kick yourself for not seeing it earlier,

For not forming the strength and ideals needed to get out of sticky situations.

I’m kicking myself for using candy coated language when talking about you,

Fantasizing about dreams that involved unparalleled realities,

Crying floods of tears when you’ve never shed any for me,

It is a tale as old as time,

How do you forget when it’s so etched inside your mind, into your heart and soul?

Forgetting is easier said than done,

But what do you do when you’re forever stuck?

You are evading the inevitable,

Putting aside intuition and gut feelings and trying to further what you already know to be true,

If you keep lying to me,

when will you stop lying to you?

relationship rain check

HelloHalima
“Stop spending so much time trying to pour yourself into people that aren’t ready or willing to hold you.” -Maxwell Diawuoh

Recently, I’ve been introspective on the idea of friendship- on what occurs when there’s a standstill in communication, in trust, in love. Often, sometimes- perhaps knowingly or unknowingly, we shrink into smaller versions of ourselves to please people who could ultimately care less. We wonder- why don’t they love us? Where is the same amount of effort we are giving back? Where is the joy when they see me? Why does it look like they are nonchalant in their love? Complacent in their communication. How did we get here? To such a silent space- where it’s not miles that’s between us but discomfort- mistrust and unfamiliarity festering. You think, what next? How do you begin to figure out a jigsaw puzzle with half the pieces missing?

I found myself thinking about what happens when we are faced with a disconnect in a relationship. Why do we push-pursue and annoy people when it is clear ideologies, perspectives and opinions are not mutually shared? Why do we invest and divest in relationships that are one-sided? The better question and the one we should all be asking ourselves is: WHY DO WE KEEP PEOPLE WE CLEARLY DO NOT LIKE ON SNAPCHAT? WHY DO WE WATCH THE STORIES OF PEOPLE WHO WOULD NOT THINK TWICE ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE DOING? Do we like the thrill of the access? Jackie Aina said it best: “Know the difference between support and surveillance.” We pour ourselves into people who *frankly* could not give a fuck about how you are doing in this world.

I remember my biggest downfall- perhaps it can be considered to be a toxic trait- would be spending so much time wondering what people thought of me- perhaps this is a insecurity that has manifested by social media or within myself but I have since realized how draining it is. It takes a toll on you and you realize the negative ramifications of being “cordial” in order to keep relationships you have outgrown in your life/on social media is settling when you shouldn’t have too.

Why do we settle for one sided- heart feeling drained- stress whenever you talk to them- relationships? Why do some of us value what people might think instead of how people make us feel? I feel like resentments in friendships start when a relationship is nearing its expiration date. Most of the time, people don’t know what to do with this phase. When you’re confident in your communication skills, the end of a friendship isn’t as terrible as you think. It slowly fades, respect and mutual admiration remains. It’s when resentment festers that a situation turns sour quickly.

Due to this, when we are stuck in endless cycles of the same sort of relationship/friendship, we forget to go where we are loved and celebrated. I’ll say it again if you haven’t heard me clearly!

Go where you are loved and celebrated and appreciated. Way too often, we sit idle- hands clenched together- thumbs twiddling- wondering why we feel drained in our relationships, constantly giving to people who drain you, always reaching out first, half hearted semblances of friendship. It’s clear when we’re not being loved and appreciated in our relationships, in our friendships- we ignore the warning signs! We justify changed behaviour. You see it in the micro aggressions, in the manipulative undertones of a conversation. You ever have a friend that was just constantly mad? No matter what you did or how you tried to better any situation- their angry facade never wavered? What about the friend who knows another friend is talking shit about you but doesn’t say anything to you? Is she at fault too? Let’s talk about the friends who make you feel bad about yourself in sly comments and fake comments masked as jokes- throw in the backhanded compliments and you got yourself a shitty friend. Words impact you a lot harder than people believe. Sometimes we shrink ourselves to fit their perfectly crafted molds and expectations of who we are. You don’t notice until pieces of you are scattered- intwined in misunderstanding- in communicating superficiality rather than mending what’s broken.

Alhamdulliah. I am thankful for everyone who’s ever entered my life. I’ve learned a lot about who I am and what I want as a result. My friend Basma recently said “focus on the friendships that are blessings and that do appreciate you”, more often than not, we are so stuck on the negative in our lives that we forget to cherish the blessings that are constant in our day to day experiences. We forget to choose ourselves, to focus on what makes us feel like pure light and joy- so… I’m no longer going to apologize for other people’s shitty behaviours, actions, excuses- I’m no longer going to invest in people who want to be tuned into my life when it is convenient for them. We have to want better for ourselves and for the relationships we hold dear. I’m gonna take a rain check on shitty relationships- thank u, next!

Hope, Ambiguity, Confusion: a ménage of dreams

HelloHalima

Photo by Alexander Milov

Ambiguity masquerading as hope,

I reached for it, siphoned it into my life-

hoping that it would somehow transform itself into the answers I was searching for,

But Hope left me empty, left me wondering what was next-

Hope did what she always does- like a chameleon, she transformed herself into something new-

something different,

something shiny and alluring,

I reached for it, hoping it would lead me to another path, one that was not disturbed by traffic or decay,

But alas, I was stumped again, trying to rack my brain- wondering what I did to deserve such treatment,

All I wanted was for my love to be received and given back tenfold, but all I was getting in return was 1 percent off my investment,

Scammed, cheated and searching for another way out- I mistook friendship for love,

And Hope disappeared for a while.

I enjoyed Friendships company, she left me feeling full with love- with respect- with a big heart and sometimes a big head,

But those pesky feelings, creeped back up again,

There she was- sitting pretty, Hope.

I sighed, exhausted by this cat and mouse game- a game that I did not have the rule book too

I was saddened by his heart, wondering why I was not apart of his affections,

Wondering why hope did not transform into what I wanted her to be,

I was in love but the only one that could see it was me,

Well- me and Ambiguity,

I saw how he cradled his confusion, feeding into it until it destroyed Hope,

she was no match for what lied ahead-

He chose confusion and chaos over figuring out what he felt for me,

I felt cheated and I missed Hope deeply.

Egos bruised, wondering why I wasn’t enough

But I quickly realized, it wasn’t me

I realized I couldn’t be sad over someone who did not want me,

That’s a loss that will register in his mind eventually,

I offered him love in plentiful heaps,

He chose confusion over me,

I hope they are happy together.

They have to be.

Valentine’s Fool

HelloHalima

It’s easy to say that I miss you- but perhaps that’s a lie,

It’s only when the memories rush through my mind,

Montages of happy beginnings and abrupt endings,

Maybe I miss the memories the most

And you the least,

I definitely do not miss the pain you caused me,

Sometimes if I shut my eyes tight enough, I can almost forget,

But something always seems to stir it back up again,

What is it about dwelling that breaks your heart wholeheartedly,

What is it about the cycle of you and me?

I remember the naïveté would wash over me-

Daydreams of us living blissfully,

But reality came knocking- wanting to shake some sense into me,

You cannot make homes in people who live in confusion,

That’s what I tried to do with you,

You cannot be blissful with people who are hurting inside,

That’s what I tried to do with you,

Their bitterness will swallow you whole,

They will convince you that you’re the broken one,

That there’s something wrong with you,

an optical illusion they have orchestrated in their minds too,

Instead, I will wish you away,

I will wish you the best,

Maybe that will help me love you less.

Happy Valentines Day

Anxiety+Mental Health in the age of #BellLetsTalk

HelloHalima

I wrote this poem a couple years ago when I felt consumed by anxiety/depression. For me, it wasn’t about the quality of the poem but the outlet it provided me to feel calm again. An anxiety attack makes you feel out of control, elevates the beating of your heart- to create intense palpitations, makes you feel like you can’t breathe- preys on the deepest darkest thoughts you have and brings them to life. Although most of the sentiments in the poem below still ring true in my life, I feel better when I am able to cultivate work that communicates exactly how I am feeling. For Bell Let’s Talk this year, I wanted to post it as a reminder that it will always be apart of me but doesn’t have to consume me the way that it once did. While Bell Let’s Talk is a commercial- way for industries to feel like they are apart of the mental health initiatives, it is an amazing way for the conversation to begin for people who are not apart of it as of it. If you feel lost, hopeless, anxious, empty, low- try to talk to someone! As terrible advice as that might sound, sometimes getting it out and out from your head into words will alleviate some of the pressures that you feel. I know it does for me. Write it down- if you don’t want to talk to anyone- writing down how you feel is so incredibly cathartic. Therapy also is a really great tool to use, I used to shy away from the idea of telling a stranger all your problems- I used to think- why would they even care? That’s weird! The stigma is something that I once fed into- but I’ve since found it to be the best way to bring myself out of days of complete despair and get myself back to feeling like myself again. According to CAMH, 1 in 5 Canadians are struggling with mental illnesses right now, by the age of 40, 50% of us will have experienced it first hand. With statistics like that- it is heartbreaking for places and people to still value the idea of physical pain as more important than that of mental health. It is as debilitating, confusing and detrimental to our health as well.

There are immediate resources (listed below) if you need help, would like someone to talk too or want to understand mental health further:

1. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) has a 24/7 Psychiatric Emergency Department at 250 College Street location.

2.Toronto Distress Centres (416) 408-4357 or 408-HELP

3.Assaulted Women’s Helpline 416-863-0511, Toll-free: 1-866-863-0511

4.Kids Help Phone at 1 800 668-6868

Live Chat: https://kidshelpphone.ca

5. WHAT’S UP! Walk In Clinic: http://www.whatsupwalkin.ca/service-providers/

@ashsgreen

an anxious soliloquy:

Anxiety won’t let me rest

Palpitations and waves of arithmetic sensations fill my chest,

It doesn’t change when I turn over in my bed,

scattered thoughts echoing in my brain, making me feel “insane”,

Chest feeling heavy, brain feeling dizzy,

It’s 4:11 am and I’m feeling weary…

Anxiety knows no time,

Responsibilities and duties do not matter when anxiety’s around,

I wonder if it will always be this way

Or whether it will consume me,

Because right now it feels like my anxiety is winning

And I’m always losing,

The worst part is when my depression comes out to play,

Anxiety’s first cousin- twice removed on any given day

It makes me feel hopeless, like this world wasn’t meant for me,

hopelessly searching for a remedy,

Therapy helps- sometimes at least

But when they team up- it feels like an all out war against me,

I try to explain how I feel to my loved ones,

Some tell me to pray, others gently tell me “get over it”,

It’s hard to explain how you are feeling when people do not understand you-

Comprehension completely removed,

It’s not their fault, I think to myself,

Maybe it’s me- maybe I just need help.

I know now that that’s not true,

Not everyone is meant to help you,

My anxiety will always be apart of me- but at least now I’ve found coping mechanisms that work for me,

Setting aside time for me- removing people from my life that always belittle and doubt me,

Writing out my feelings is a huge win for me,

Makes me remember what I am feeling so I can better deal with it,

Verbalizing your stresses and pains are cathartic and soothing

It’s unfathomable to think,

That physical health is valued and understood more than mental health

But as long as I keep vocalizing my truth, I’ll always be fine.

January 2019: c-c-changes!

HelloHalima

It’s that time of the year again, a new year/ the freshness of a new start. Snow’s falling on Toronto’s cemented streets, lush pilings that’s pretty to look at but dreadful to walk/drive through. In true global warming fashion, it’s all gone the next day. Kind of makes you feel hopeful! The feeling of a fresh start- while a new year doesn’t necessarily erase old bad habits, stagnant lifestyles or immediately begin change, it brings a syrupy sweet inspiration that helps you bring forth changes in your life. I- for one- have been inspired to write more- at least- recap months of experiences in the form of reviews, prose/poetry- pieces to not only inspire myself but others.

“Why one writes is a question I can answer easily, having so often asked it of myself. I believe one writes because one has to create a world in which one can live. I could not live in any of the worlds offered to me — the world of my parents, the world of war, the world of politics. I had to create a world of my own, like a climate, a country, an atmosphere in which I could breathe, reign, and recreate myself when destroyed by living. That, I believe, is the reason for every work of art.”

Anaïs Nin

It almost feels like déjà vu, this time last year- I was paralyzed by all the changes in my life! Being a recent graduate, changes in friends, in dynamics, lack of changes in my personal life- jobs! This year I feel so motivated, inspired already! I have so much planned, that thinking about it is already exciting me. The idea of a full circle moment just feels surreal, that a isolating- dark moment can make you feel hopeless but when you embrace every facet of change- you are able to will it into how you want it to manifest within your life! I’m going to the gym everyday, I feel comfortable with the people in my life, I’m looking for employment within my interests, planning trips with loved ones, squirrelling away my masters applications, taking coding classes and working to better my side hustle (of course… hello halima!). Change is here and I am welcoming it with open arms.

forgetfulness

HelloHalima

You are a stranger in my mind- roaming about with no substance of memory to hold you up.

Pedestals you once occupied- now torn down-

renovated into vacancies that will never be filled again.

Souls cascading into an ever flowing stream of

awkward encounters and empty relations.

The love- one that was once plentiful and felt by everyone now ice cold

frozen to the touch.

I don’t know whether I miss you or want to forget you completely

If I think about it hard enough,

my mind unlocks a memory a day/ like a twisted advent calendar.

Instead of sweet decadent chocolates-

I get mirages of pure happiness turned bitter by the sadness in my heart.

Your impact on my life- left like bootprints on freshly fallen snow,

But like all snow fall, more eventually trickle down from the sky

Covering up any and all comprehension of our ties.

It’s hard to think  of how far we’ve fallen,

from the highest peak of our Ivory towers,

Now splattered on the ground- run over on the asphalt- gone forever.

You’ve become a ghost in my heart, a spirit that I so badly wish to resurrect but how can I?

Familiarity replaced with resentment,

Resentment in cahoots with constant misunderstanding,

Isn’t it easier to lock away the cookie cutter ideals of starting over than to

endure moments of Deja Vu?

Who are you?

Word Vomit/ What’s Next?

HelloHalima

Source: Melissa Grant

Free falling into an unknown abyss/ reliving dreams shaping up into nightmares,

sleepless nights and empty thoughts/ feeling kind of lost, distractions only last a while.

Cycles of repetitive charades, will I ever be content?

Premature happiness brought on by moments of complete bliss, will it ever be enough?

Incomplete contemplation and contemplated hesitation, what’s next?

Can you dream when your hopes lay awake?

A syrupy sweetness invades, filtering out bitter truths- realities that are meant to be lived instead.

What’s worse than your mind on fire, unable to extinguish what ails you?

Wandering and constantly contemplating artificial relations- meaningless connections of superficiality

Wanting more and seeing zilch- opportunities always gone amiss, anxiety eats me up but I persist, what happens now?

12:34pm on a Thursday, manifestations, dreams and friendship

HelloHalima, Life, Poetry

Hi, it’s me again.

Ugh… dont say it

don’t say it

don’t say it

don’t say it

….

back at it again with another blog post!

mocking-spongebob

I HaveN’T posTED iN A WhILE HEADASS! 

UGH!

I HaveN’T posTED iN A WhILE. I can’t help but laugh whenever I say such phrases.

I am going to stop putting such a premium on posting and see if that alleviates any sort of pressure or blame within the self. A lot has happened since my last “updates” post, I turned 23, in the process of *shuddering* applying my masters programs, employed but looking for a new job that is sandwiched between my two loves of health studies and English (employers, here’s looking at you!) and overall just trying to live “my best life”.

Recently, I’ve been living in such a writing drought that late night twitter had me up writing twitter poetry. 😭 it’s interesting how you yearn for all your hopes and dreams to come true but your self sabotaging monster (can you tell I started watching Big Mouth On Netflix?) will awaken within you and you end up blocking your own blessings.

big_mouth_s01e03_8m22s12047f

I don’t think I have a hormone monster, I have a self sabatoge monster. Can that be a thing?

You become ignorant to what you once dreamed of, the goals you wanted to establish, the realities you wanted to create. When I first started this blog, the goal was twofold, one part was to just post poetry, articles and have an outlet for my creative expressions. The other goal was to eventually write a book of sorts, an anthology inspired by love, loss and everything in between. By halting- self sabotaging my blog dreams, I indefinitely put the book dreams on the shelf. I don’t know what it is! Is it depression? Anxiety? Fear of disappointing myself? Whenever I do it, I kick myself… imaging being your own worst enemy. This is not energy I’d wish upon my worst enemy.

An Anthology by Halima Farah

I spent the better half of 2018, slowly grinding- trying to get over things… trying to live a life free of lived trauma, trying to just read, work and apply for these masters programs, trying to get over major friendships that have broken my heart, trying to get back to my dreams. There’s trying and then there’s being reminded that there’s an end goal. That’s just the part I was missing and did not know how to find. In the process of getting back to my dreams, I received a remarkable birthday present from my friends Niya, Heaven, Nikita and Rochelle. A published anthology of all my poetry, articles and everything in between! A tangible example of my dreams coming to life. Inside, every single poem I ever cried writing, articles that I’ve mulled over, ideas that I have pondered since the inception of this blog. To say I cried was an understatement. It was a wonderful reminder of your friends not giving up on you- not letting you give up on yourself- to continue to fight for your creative ideas and freedoms, to continue to imagine, cultivate and create.

It has definitely helped to jet-start my love for writing, my ideas and has left me so inspired. This post is dedicated to them- my angels and to all my friends who constantly leave me with inspiration, motivation and endless support and love. THANK YOU. This is why supporting your friends is so important- you could be the catalyst in healing their creative spirits and souls. Sometimes we get by with a little help from our friends. Thank you.

Manifestations for 2019 and for this post:

  • I will write more/post more content on hellohalima
  • I will work towards publishing my own anthology by the end of next year
  • I will continue to look for inspiration in my friends and my lived experiences.
  • I will spend time saying no, putting myself first and working toward my goals…

Till next time, XO.

flashbacks of kenya

HelloHalima

Do you have a happy place? A memory that you constantly hold dear? One that stops you from going to the deepest darkest places in your mind?

Kenya. I dream of you. I stop to drink everything in. The sights, the sounds, the long stretch of road between Eastleigh and Jomo Kenyatta International Airport as we are zipping through- peacefully. The constantly busy and always bustling streets are silent, a ghost town of beings- almost eerie. Especially at night. The way the cold air feels against my skin- reminds me of October’s air. It is a relief from the sweat inducing heat that filled the air earlier- I am in love with the feeling of it. the way the air fills my lungs as I roll the windows all the way down. I am at a crossroads with my emotions- feeling peaceful and incredibly happy to have had this experience yet so sad- filled with anguish, beautiful melancholic heartache as I do not know when I will be back next or if I will ever be back. It is the uncertainty that hurts the most.

It’s October 25th. I’m back in the throws of my regular life in Toronto, life hardening me into someone I don’t recognize, everything in my life- up in the air. Sadness has become my default emotion. It’s quite interesting how you wish you could wish away your unhappiness when you experience so much of it. Sadness that seems to swallow you whole, the epitome of all consuming. I feel the same uncertainty I felt in Kenya, except the difference is- I am bombarded with questions about my future, about my relationships, about who I have become and what I hold dear. Anxiety becoming the silent killer, whispering doubt into my ears- uncertainty filling me up once more. Questions of- Will I ever be enough? Will you ever understand me like you once did? Will I ever be the version of myself that I have always yearned to be?

I hope so.

losing

HelloHalima

c7d876160b1f87bc879b6278ebe06d10It has taken me a while to get the words together, words that I’ve never thought of uttering, of even contemplating. I always found a home in you, a type of recognition that only love could find. We’ve been through a lot together, the pitfalls that life had created for us, experiences that should’ve bonded us together but instead, here we are. Separated by a difference in opinion, a shift in daily routines, a divide in understanding each other- perhaps of caring. Maybe I took you for granted, maybe you did the same of me. Somewhere along the way- we forgot what we meant to each other, for each other. A crumbling of our connection, of our friendship- an untethering of what bonded us. I used to forget about where it began, this sharpness in tone, playing catch up games instead of understanding the fluidity in each other’s lives. I used to dream of knowing you forever, of our kids growing up to call each other cousins, of family parties and a building of memories for the rest of our lives.

Now there’s a halt in those dreams, a disconnect in our lifestyles and a break in the ground that used to lead me back to you. I used to have a hard time letting go- of things or people- of grasping the realities that shape who we’ve become and what we deserve in life. I used to connect letting go to living with a broken heart- one locking the door of our experiences together- forever. I think I am okay now. I am ready to let you go, to look fondly on what you meant to me and what we’ve experienced together. I will miss you, perhaps when I stumble upon a photo or contemplate a memory in bouts of nostalgia. I wish you nothing but the best. I wish you a life of happiness, of building incredible memories in the life you always spoke about wanting to cultivate, of loving someone unconditionally- of finding sheer happiness- unconditional always. Goodbye my friend.

KEVIN’S HEART, INFIDELITY, MICRO-CHEATING AND J-COLE’S K.O.D: A REVIEW

HelloHalima

It is Sunday, the sun is shining, the birds are chirping and last week J-Cole released his fifth studio album on 4/20. Fitting and ironic as the title is “K.O.D” is “Kids on Drugs” or “King Overdose” or “Kill our Demons”. All three titles being homages to the ways in which drugs are the biggest forms of distress to our mental, physical and emotional selves and well beings. “K.O.D” serves as a 12 song- 43 minute landscape encapsulating a culture of drugs and how it has shaped the dichotomy of music: through the form of addiction, over-popularization of recreational substances, as well as people using drugs as coping mechanisms to fill empty voids in their lives. This album feels just as gritty and important as “For Your Eyez Only” (perhaps even more so) as the themes he uncovers in K.O.D are an extension of what Black and radicalized communities feel in the world. A particular theme that he delves deeper into with this album is one of Addiction and Mental Health. He highlights the different facets that addiction can intersect with, love and addiction, social media and addiction, infidelity and addiction. It was interesting to see the switch in the topics and how addiction manifests in different ways through his words.

Songs like “1985: Intro to the Fall off” discuss Cole’s perspective and thoughts on a younger rap generation and how artists like Lil pump, Xxxtentacion (etc) showcase a high level of drug use that’s popularized in the choruses of their songs, using that as the pipeline to popularity rather than rapping about things that actually matter and are important in the world. His subliminal jabs are beautifully articulated as he says “You coulda bought a crib with all that bread that you done blew/ I know you think this type of revenue is never endin’ but I wanna take a minute to tell you that ain’t true / One day, them kids that’s listening gon’ grow up/ And get too old for that shit that made you blow up. Now your shows lookin light cause they don’t show up.” He is foreshadowing the future and the end of the artists who are capitalizing off of rap that’s all mumble- all trap- no substance- infused with drug references and belligerent club rap. He even ends it off hilariously by saying “In five years you gon’ be on Love & Hip-Hop nigga“- the Where Are They Now equivalent for one hit wonders and people who rise to fame quickly and lose it when they become old news. Hilarious.

Don’t get me wrong, I love subliminal messages like the best of them but J-Cole’s “Kevin’s Heart” took it to a whole new level as he dives into the world of infidelity as he modelled the song after Kevin Hart and his recent cheating scandal on Eniko Hart. As I was listening to the song, I couldn’t help but think of the different parameters of cheating/micro-cheating and the concept of emotional cheating- a behaviour/actions that many people participate in and exhibit in today’s society. You are probably reading this and wondering: what the hell is micro-cheating????? Well:

Micro-cheating:

1. “A series of small (comments, actions) occurrences that indicate that a person is emotionally or physically invested or focused on someone outside of the relationship.” -Melanie Shilling (Psychologist)

2. “Micro-cheating is when you do [things] that might not be considered outright infidelity, but are nonetheless breaches of trust that could lead to genuine cheating in the future” -Jonathan Bennett

So if that’s what micro-cheating is, it’s very definition propels the nature of cheating, emotional or physical. J Cole covers this in “Kevin’s Heart” as he says, “She my number one, I don’t need nothing on the side”. This is what many men (who have been in situations nearing cheating) think until they find themselves in precarious situations. The irony is that in a culture that almost romanticizes side-chicks, it’s the side chicks that lose after falling in love with men that will always see them as a secondary option. When we think about cheating, many people think of the physical ramifications that are unthinkable. Many of my friends always say “Oh if my man ever cheated on me, it’s a wrap, I would throw hands, fuck that nigga”, they only envision the worst case scenario- finding your significant other in a precarious and physical situation. But what of emotional cheating? When your emotional intimacy is chipped away slowly but surely, taken by another woman. The secrets and conversations that were once had with you, are had with another. The dreams and aspirations that were once shared with you, now in replacement of fluff and sitcom commentary. I find that a lot more sad, a slow growing death much more deserving of mourning. Regardless of what form- cheating is still something that is hurtful, devastating to all parties involved.

J-Cole continues the double entendres as addiction and the idea of love fuse together with drug imagery: “But I’m only human, I know loving you’s a crime // If I take this cookie now, one day I’ll do the time.” That last line commenting on two things, the first being: what eventually occurs when you enter the perimeters of cheating, you not only hurt yourself but all the parties involved. The second being, when you are involved with drugs and the consumption of it in your daily routine- what was once “for fun” and “a one time thing” could come back to disparage your life one way or another.

Kevin’s Heart also touches on distractions- using people, using xanny- weed- molly even as escapes from real world. J Cole struggles with this as well. The idea of numbing, temporary satisfaction in different forms. Numbing the pains and trials and tribulations through distractions is one of the biggest themes. It is true that we all do this, we replace our troubles with distractions- from the micro distractions of other people and sleep to the macro of drugs and alcohol. It’s apart of human nature. What bothers me is using someone while you already have another to satisfy your needs, the idea of having your cake and wanting to eat it too. The Greedy Syndrome. J Cole touches on this as he says, “Wanna have my cake and another cake too // Even if the baker don’t bake like you // Even when the flavour don’t taste like you.” Greedy Syndrome!!!!!!!!!! It is true, in the case of cheating, of love, of relationships, people always want what they can’t have. Many people also try to have the best of both worlds and that does not always work out. Maybe what J Cole had to say at the beginning rings true: “All a nigga know is how to fuck a good thing up.”

While many thought negatively of J Cole’s previous album of “For Your Eyez Only”, “K.O.D” continues to ring as a Cole classic, one beautifully saturated in authentic Cole- world truth, activism and imagery that depicts of past, present and future selves. Is J-Cole Nostradamus? Only time will tell.

Silence

HelloHalima, HMFpoetry

It has been interesting, all the twists and turns,

The miscarriage of all the words involved.

Speaking and yet not saying anything of substance,

So why am I feeling so lost?

Affected by the debris of your broken promises,

Of narratives we tell ourselves to keep from changing orders already put in place.

Expectations dropped as disappointments ensue and yet,

You are speaking but not saying anything monumental,

Speaking yet silent,

Laughter used to hide nerves, nerves cultivated by one sided comprehension.

What’s that about?

Speaking my truth only to have it misconstrued, broken up piece by piece,

Subsequently altered by our reality.

A miscarriage of desolate dreams,

Irreparable and yet continuous all at the same time.

 

Poetic Rebirth

HelloHalima

All my poetry is starting to sound like it is for you.

Beautifully written prose all strung together, encapsulating how I feel.

But how do you feel?

It’s been clear that the mountains you wish to move are not for me,

The songs you sing, not meant for my ears.

But how do you feel, really?

Perhaps it is only in my mind, but I find your feelings to be a greatly skewed facade.

I wondered what it would be like,

To crack open your mind, dig a little deeper and excavate all the feelings you wish to wish away.

As if 11:11 will stop you from feeling this way.

Sometimes I wish I could take a break,

From the reality that you and I have cultivated.

That way, my poetry and my mind will be baptized from your charms and reach.

I will not be writing another poem inspired by you any longer.

Universal Pull

HelloHalima

What you don’t say becomes you.

It feels like it’s vocalized in the thickness of your silence.

The universe is working overtime to correct and rectify the death of your decisions.

The less you say, the more you become a permanent fixture of your anti-self.

The baritone of your regrets are bellowing out like a speakerphone,

Drowning out what could have been great.

Change washing over us like a riptide of you and I.

You, walking miles on end unnecessarily does not become you.

It’s ironic how the more you tug on threads of cemented routines,

The more it unravels, revealing the mess you left, permeating beneath us like hot lava.

We’re slipping and sliding incessantly, wondering when the next shoe will drop.

All due to the built up tension of our kettles steam.

You used to dream about how the universe pulled your dreams together,

weaving in moments that we shared and memories that were blissful blips in your life before

Is that still true?

INTROSPECTION

HelloHalima, Poetry

The after effect shocked me to my very core.

All this bliss but I still felt torn,

All I could think of is the state of you & I,

Do you even love her? Or is it just I?

You try to have your cake and eat it too,

I used to marvel at the things you do.

The manipulations cultivated by comfortability,

When you’re with her, do you think of me?

When you’re near her, do you dream of me?

You pull me in close in fear of losing me,

but how will you recreate me when I am gone?

what are you afraid of?

HelloHalima

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Fear. It manifests itself into the aversions you have, the ghosts that you are afraid of and of course- through the dark and immense wonders of the world that we are taught as children: the concepts of life and death. As a child, I possessed three fears: 1. swallowing my gum and it becoming etched and stuck in my stomach for 7 years (what kind of myth/fear was this? sounds like it was perpetuated by elementary and middle schoolers and parents to convince you that chewing gum was not beneficial for your teeth) , 2. falling and scraping my knees (did this from my bike once and had to get multiple stitches and have to deal with a lifelong scar that is a constant reminder of the hill I should not have rode down) and 3. disappointing people. It was as if these fears were heightened as an adult, perhaps not the first two but more so- the last. The fear of disappointment becoming an anchor on my heart every time I contemplated making major decisions that could potentially alter the course of my life- especially when you feel like the decision you are making is in your own best interest but is met with a lack of enthusiasm from the rest of the people in your life. But how do we move past this?

Karen Thompson Walker has an incredible TEDTalk about Fear, about how fear and storytelling are intertwined and contain the same components that live within our minds. She speaks about the fables that surround fear and how its misconception has flouted our minds into believing its debilitating nature. But what if it isn’t? What if fear can be used as a mechanism to imagine the unimaginable, to move the mountains that stand in our way, to conquer the plights that we deem difficult and to finally- dream the type of dreams that can turn into stories. Walker uses this ideology in her TedTalk by equating fear into storytelling and using it to further our understanding.

“What if instead of calling them fears, we called them stories? Because that’s really what fear is, if you think about it. It’s a kind of unintentional storytelling that we all born knowing how to do. And fears and storytelling have the same components. They  have the same architecture. Like all stories fears have characters. In our fears, the characters are us….”  -Karen Thompson Walker

So if storytelling and fears have the same genetic makeup, why is it hard for us to see this as something positive and move past it by a means of conquering what ails us? Why is it hard for us to move past our fears? Especially when the elements of storytelling allow you to rewrite what the problems in the plot are and reimagine what present outcome you are apart of? Maybe Karen Thompson Walker was onto something. If the elements of fear are components of storytelling- How can we indeed move past this? What are YOU afraid of?

Picture it, your fear I mean, envision it in your mind. Is it preventing you from seeking the realities that you dream of? Is your fear tangible? Something existent in this world and as a result- grabs a hold of your every thought and breath? Envision it so you are able to say it out loud. One of own my biggest fears involves not being good enough at what I seek out to accomplish in this world. This coupled with my anxiety, my fear allows me to participate in self-sabotaging behaviour where I squander my opportunities in fear of ruining them with anything short of perfection. So much so that whenever I see any sort of success, the saboteur in me wants to come out in full force.

By saying this out loud- in the form of this blog, to my loved ones, I am able to rewrite the rules to my fear and as a result, I am able to work on conquering this fear. Once you are able to do so, you will find yourself weight-less, like the weights that were on your shoulders have been relieved and the fears that kept you up at night are on the road to no longer being apart of your life. The manifestations of fear gone, the narrative you are apart of, rewritten. I found that when I hold my fears in, keep them to myself- the progression of ridding myself of this pain and turmoil that comes alongside these fears grows and worsens over time.

By speaking your truths out loud and in technicolour, you will be able to take charge of what you are afraid of and in turn break the manifestations of fear.

December blues + UPDATES

HelloHalima

It’s happened again! This time, the reason for my mia-ness have been a combination of a matter of domain wars with WordPress + Godaddy.com + writing for NaNoMo and trying not to rip my hair from my scalp. I feel as though all my creativity  has been sucked dry by trying to remain consistent in my writing routines for this past national novel writing month and yet I found myself missing the strokes of my keyboard and writing for this forgotten and left in the lurch blog named hellohalima.

The last time I did any sort of “updating” post was in May when I was reeling with excitement over the prospect of being finished University while simultaneously feeling a sense of discomfort with the idea of treating this blog as a forgotten medium where all my stresses are channeled into something worth reading and comprehending. I truly missed this medium of having the space to speak my mind on the issues that plague me and in turn, find a remedy to it all.

Speaking of- last time y’all heard from me, I was a newly minted University graduate, on vacation in Washington DC and scrambling to find a place of work. I am proud to inform y’all that I’m now a washed University graduate (😂)- now working with children at a community centre whilst simultaneously applying for grad school and trying to find a research consultation firm that would want to accept one of my many trillion applications. Other than that, my hair is sorta red and I’m still unsure of my place in this world. But let’s not despair…. the understanding of that gets better with time.

I recently went through my camera roll and the memories I have cultivated in 2017 and I have come along way- while some things have changed (life situation, school circumstances, some friendships), some things have stayed the same in terms of stagnancy. 2018 will be full of power moves, will you join me?

J COLE, A REVIEW ON HATERS, ‘THE NEIGHBOURS THINK I’M SELLING DOPE’ AND HOPE

HelloHalima

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Instead of studying for my exams, I am sitting here listening to J Cole’s latest album ‘4 Your Eyez Only’. The fire that is emanating from my speakers is quite distracting (oh god Halima that was so corny, this is why you don’t write any reviews!). This by far is NOT a traditional music review- I am just a mere mortal who has immersed herself into the cold world of J Cole. Personally, I feel like this album is quite different- a visceral and emotionally charged account on themes of  mass incarceration, racism, love, marriage, growing up, mortalities as a black man and the perils of fatherhood. While these are ideals that he has touched on in the past, this album feels different. It feels like a good-bye letter, a joint effort cultivated through the experiences of his fallen friend (James McMillan) and the experiences that he wishes us to know about. This is a direction that was quite interesting to experience through our eyes and through Cole’s eyes as well.

At first, I was expecting a powerful classic, one that mirrored the same intensity and power as ‘Born Sinner’ or ‘2014 Forest Hills Drive’,  I ended up listening and being exposed to a sad and climactic goodbye. A farewell to familiar themes, ideals, beliefs, experiences. This narrative consisted of a 10 track story told through the perspective of Cole himself and that of his friend (possibly- James McMillan). What I loved about this album is how you can just close your eyes and be transported to wherever he is. The nature of his storytelling transcends traditional norms of the rap music that exists these days- with the rise of the Lil Yachtys, the Macklemores, the Madeintyo’s,  it is easy to be dazed by the appeal of trash music and not be able to recognize heartfelt sound when it drops and hits you in the face. It is also easy to be confused and not appreciate the full power of ‘4 Your Eyez Only” when the interconnection between fake trap- actual trap and plagiarization of this Cole-esqe type of aesthetic is all you are familiar with. Was that an attempt of me trying to dissect this album on a macro level? Who knows? What I do know is a few of my friends have come out the woodwork as newly coined Cole haters by saying all of J-Cole’s music “sounds the same” and “is not original” to which I say, first… no two J-Cole songs sound the same, it resembles the snowflake effect or that of eyebrows, you will never have the same Cole song. It is because all the lyrics are beautifully poignant, paint lovely imagery in your mind, so real you start to see it come alive (remember how visceral wet dreams was?) and second, I can’t take music advice from people who think Macklemore is a work of art. Sorry not sorry. 

The most striking song (and my favourite off the album) is ‘Neighbours’. It tells the story of J Cole renting out a home for his Dreamville producers, artists. What was supposed to be a haven and a safe space to create music and be inspired quickly became poisoned by the influence and patriots of white suburbia. ‘Neighbours’ is a wonderful representation of the racism that is ravaging the world as Cole recounts what happens when you become a victim of the discriminatory beliefs and racist ideals his neighbours had. Cole starts off the song with a powerful intro: /I guess the neighbours think I’m sellin’ dope, sellin’ dope/ Okay, the neighbours think I’m sellin’ dope, sellin’ dope/ Sellin’ dope, sellin’ dope, sellin’ dope/. The irony is that Cole is indeed selling dope, his dope music, his dope persona, his dope story-telling all culminating in this amazing song and album to come out of it- horrible and typical experiences that are a result of such deeply rooted hatred from white people who only think black people at J-Cole’s caliber can be either drug dealers or rappers. Cole later on explains that he “can’t sleep cause [he’s] paranoid, black man in a white man territory. Cops bust in with the army guns, no evidence of the harm we done. Just a couple neighbours that assume we slang. Only time they see us we be on the news, in chains, damn” This diminishes his personhood as they do not lend him the courtesy of seeing him as a neighbour, as an equal. This just goes to show that levels of fame are not enough to protect you from these kinds of experiences. I feel as though some ignorant people would expect experiences like this to disappear and not affect prolific artists once they reach a certain level of fame- it does not matter if you are one of the president’s favourite artists or if you have grammys and oscars to your name, ignorance and racist ideals will seep through and hatred will become an overwhelming force to be reckoned with. Cole mentions this in ‘Neighbours’ but later leaves us with a sense of hope, a sense of renewal, a sense of clarity as he says ‘My intuition is telling me there’ll be better days’.

While there is a lot I can say about this album, what I will say is for the people saying “I was expecting better…”, “This is not his best album….”, “J Cole fell off”, I can only say I’m sorry for your loss. The impactful nature of this album and the ability Cole shares by being able to not only rap and express himself from multiple points of view and perspectives but share in the perspectives of others is astonishing. I do not believe ‘4 Your Eyez Only’ was meant to be the next “2014 Forest Hills Drive” or even a carbon copy of any of his earliest works. It is meant to be an album that speaks to the nature of today- an emotional, political and powerful commentary that is able to speak to the many. A narrative that honours his friend and shares in his legacy and allows for us to do the same. Thank you J Cole.

 

 

 

Temptations Rising

HelloHalima, HMFpoetry

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Our eyes meet, begging to have a conversation;
The twinkle in yours draws me in closer and closer.
The intoxication I feel is better than a mediated high,
One that takes me into mindless euphoria,
One that shapes the way I feel for you.
The point of the matter is discussed through a slight touch,
Gentleness contrasted by the flickering of the room luminosities.
I feel enveloped in the cliché of cloud 9,
Words are unspoken,

As our pupils dilated in the tide of lust do the talking
The attraction seems to know no bounds,

A craving that’s filled yet unsatisfied by only touch.
A feeling as if our souls were cascading.

Through an ever-flowing stream of emotion,
dancing gently through a monstrous storm.
The sensation you leave me with has me begging for more,
An ideal I cannot consummate.

Written by: HMF & FQ 

 

Tangibility

HelloHalima

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Too often we are stuck behind the formalities of hiding behind our pride. We become products of our own self-sabotage as we find ways to hide our real emotions and find the easy route to a lessened ideal of pain.

We become afraid of opening up to our loved ones because the truth becomes tangible, we do not apologize when it is the easiest option because fighting takes less energy than letting go of your pride to right a wrong. The options to salvage a friendship become harder to fathom so we end up just cutting ties altogether. In our idea of saving ourselves, we often end up hurting the relations we once held so dear.

That being said, some relationships deserve quick snips, severances so real and deep that looking twice is almost disgraceful. You are not fair to yourself when you choose to engage in ideals of toxicity. Toxic friends, toxic behaviours. A barrier and a block to your self-growth, a piece of the self-sabotage tree blossoming into branches of negativity, roots that overtake your life.

In this pursuit of tangibility, our grasp of our everyday reality is re-shaped and damaged. We rarely stop to fix and examine the misgivings that we are accustomed too. We lose pieces of ourselves in what we choose to shatter and discard. What happens to those pieces when we try to start anew? Our relationships tainted by holding onto what once hurt us, things that prevent us from fully evolving.

We hide behind our emotions- we do not text the people we like back in fear that we are being “too much”. We do not tell our friends and loved ones how much they mean to us in fear of being “too sappy”, “too cliche”, “too emotional”. These terms become catalysts in preventing us from furthering and connecting to our ever changing emotions. It is as if the arenas of our emotions become overfilled, the doors close as the last call for sentiment is made. We become disenchanted with the way we form relationships- superficial means hindered by rituals that become devoid of meaning. “Oh he took two hours to text back, I will take four…”, “She is snapchatting me but never hitting me up to hang out, I am going to ghost her…” “She’s my friend but sometimes I don’t understand her so I do not like talking to her…”

Our words become empty as we try to fight fire with fire, disconnect ourselves from people we do not even try to understand. We become stuck like glue to paper in certain relationships, the stickiness of it all becomes hard to remove. The relationships that occur in these social spaces become so strained and so hard to engage in- all hope becomes lost. We always think of the what ifs when it comes to engaging with people. We become numb to ways of connecting that when it becomes too late, the only blame we can place is with ourselves. Just like Kanye said, “If you admire somebody, you should go ahead and tell em/people never get the flowers while they can still smell em”