Let’s Make the Most of Our Time…


My 2019 ended… well… with passing away of one of my mentors and friends. Mine and other journalists’ tributes have just been published by the Voice News. And, I couldn’t start 2020 without acknowledging the impact this editor/publisher and friend had on my writing and life.

“…Barbara Campbell trained me as a journalist while I was freelancing for Black Heritage Today and International Women’s Month magazines. She taught me how to write feature articles, conduct journalistic interviews, research and more. She welcomed me into her home and heart as well.

“I remember proudly presenting my first feature to her. It was embellished – quite “flowery”. She cut so much out. I got upset thinking she took my soul out of the piece. I then showed it to my friend who had read the original. She didn’t hesitate to tell me that Barbara’s pen made it better. So, I decided to stop mourning my style and started paying attention. 

‘HER HEART BLED FOR THE BLACK COMMUNITY’

“Barbara knew exactly what she wanted to say and how she wanted to say it. Her heart bled for the black community and for black stories to be told the RIGHT WAY. I could see a flame in her eyes when she spoke about how much the community needed positive role models and narratives. That passion drove her and made her fight tirelessly against financial, physical and all other odds. It was tough on her, especially towards the end. Sometimes, I think she sacrificed her life for it.”

Speaking about the lasting impact that Campbell had on her life, Ribeiro says:

“These few words are not enough to summarise the impact she made on me as a writer. When I decided not to pursue journalism, she encouraged my poetry and gave me a poet’s corner in Black Heritage Today. In one of her recommendations, she said ‘…Anytime, she is performing l hope to be there – cheering from the front!’ Sadly, she never made it to my shows, but I still hear her voice in my head reminding me to use the word ‘reportedly’ just in case… I edit my stories the way she taught me. Her heart and skills are part of my writing. She was an excellent journalist, editor, boss lady, teacher and friend…”

Please read the rest of mine and other tributes on the Voice News Website.

I wish you and myself a Happy New Year. Let’s make the most of our time here and let’s appreciate friends and family while there’s still time.

Extraordinary Things in Ordinary Places


Two weeks have passed since my poetry evening. I’ve had some time to reflect and would love to share my thoughts with you…

After-Party Poetry Evening.jpg

The event was a success. The venue turned out to be the right one, and it was full. Due to previously mentioned last-minute changes, I had less than 3,5 weeks to promote the show, hence filling it up was probably one of my main concerns…

Testimonial Joanna.jpgSome of the words attendees used to describe this poetry evening were: eclectic, organic, inclusive, something different… Paul, one of the guests, said that it was “an interesting, colourfully put together event”. 😊 David, another guest, apart from leaving a solid testimonial in the pic above, said the event was “low key, but nice”… People got inspired to write, create and many met other like-minded folks. Yuppie! For the purpose of this post, however, I would like to zero in on David’s initial thoughts – low key but nice…

Ostentatious is, in my opinion, the best antonym of low key. This event wasn’t that… I’m not saying there’s something wrong with showy presentations, but they’re not in my nature. Plus, if I’m honest, I didn’t have an “ostentatious” budget this time around.

Testimonial Desiri.jpgWell, even though my poetry evening could be considered low–profile – we had some interesting guests in our midst. There were award-winning authors, publishers and other creatives who’re experts in their respective fields. Why is this important? Because they’re the ones who can teach budding or fellow creative-entrepreneurs a thing or two about their craft… Then again, I think that some of the lessons many super–talented (especially young) creatives need the most are life lessons which you don’t learn at school.

I found the following claim in an article by independent.co.uk: “For people in Britain, everyday problems can seem like the end of the world – and most of us are guilty of complaining about things like bad weather…” I’m guilty as charged (every now and then)… It was extremely hot on the day! After the event, a few of us met at a local café… I had only brief conversations with most people, but one of them still resonates with me. The guest’s a filmmaker, whose first film won the Palme D’or at the 50th Cannes Film Festival. We spoke a little about her films which was fantastic, however, what struck me the most was what she said about preparation.

She said she didn’t like to complain about things she couldn’t change, and the weather (hot, cold, or rainy…) made no difference to her. She said – the only people who complain about things are those who aren’t prepared… The topic of preparation is deep and wide – it can include many different aspects, besides the weather. Yet, my take away from the conversation’s that preparation is key, and as the saying goes – by failing to prepare, you prepare to fail…  

Extraordinary things do happen in ordinary places. Don’t take people for granted or you’ll miss whatever help God may be trying to send your way. Also, remember – help isn’t always material. Sometimes, it is the right word at just the right time. I hope this helps.

‘Twas a good evening, everybody. Track my event journey by checking out the previous post and by following me on Facebook and Instagram @monikaribeiro.writer.

‘How to master a foreign language???’


PART TWO

Some say that the ability to speak many languages improves social skills, and makes it possible to love others better. However farfetched this statement may or may not be – fluency in another language is often an advantage. Therefore, having gone past the ‘Why should I learn?’ question, the next step is finding answers to “How should I learn?”

I certainly do not claim to have all the ‘hows’, but I am able to share a thing or two. The other day, my colleague, who has managed to master five different languages, gave me what one might consider a basic advice, yet to me it was rather powerful. “You can learn any language, even Arabic”, he said. Subsequently, he added that without practice it is impossible to learn, or to retain any type of fluency or knowledge. Therefore, in my own words, do as little as you can, but do as much as you can. Be consistent until you can say:

  • “Qui, je parle Francais”,
  • “Si, hablo Español”,
  • “Ja, ich spreche Deutsch”,
  • Da, ya gavaryu pa ruski,
  • Or whatever else…

I am learning Spanish. It is a very different stage in my life compared to my childhood/teenage years (while ‘battling’ with English). I am a wife, a mother, a writer, and I have a day job too. ‘Aaaaaaa!’ You might be thinking. ‘Why add more? What’s wrong with you?!’ Well, if you aren’t, I do question myself sometimes… Nevertheless, I have a strong conviction that the Spanish language is one of “my languages”.

However, it would be foolish to ignore the fact that I can no longer run around attending lessons, like I used to. Nor do I particularly want to share my income with private tutors at this time. Therefore, plan numero dos was needed. Some of its ingredients have already been mentioned in the previous post and the ones that haven’t, will be mentioned here.

At this stage of my learning, I understand quite a lot while my speech although still quite basic doesn’t stop me from ‘speaking it’ whenever the opportunity arises. When it does, I usually explain briefly that I am learning still & that glorious patience is required. People are often willing to help if you ask them politely, therefore be brave enough to speak it even though you’re faaaaaar from fluent. Ask questions. Don’t be concerned about looking (sounding) silly. We all start there.

Surely, many people may not have the time to seat with us for hours explaining grammar, concepts and all. If you have a friend who will do that for you, that’s great. However, if not – use books, youtube, google, language apps, whatever. These are some of the resources available for free (or just about). Be creative & use whatever you can.

  • Google – if you know how to write it – drop this foreign phrase or word in the search engine next to the translate command.
  • YouTube – limit these films, random videos & all… C’mon – look out for grammar & vocabulary lessons instead…
  • Books – If you don’t want to give your coin away – check out the library (bring the book back though) 😉 I felt blessed having come across a book sale the other day. I got myself a lovely Spanish/Beginners/Intermediate book by Collins. However, don’t be cheap. If no sale is available treat the purchase as an investment & pick up the book. It wants you to have it. 🙂

OK, fine. Mastering a language may be easier for someone who has opportunities to travel, or for someone who lives in a metropolitan city e. g. London, New York, etc. However, everyone can learn. Whatever opportunity you get – make the most of it.

Holidays: Let your intention be to rest and to learn. If you are studying French – holiday in France or Cameroon for example. Don’t go to Poland, ma Cherie – unless of course you’re visiting family there (like I do :)).  Especially if your opportunities to travel aren’t many – kill two birds with one stone (not literally though) 🙂 I’ve recently taken a short vacation in Barcelona (check out a few highlights from my trip in the video below).

There are many languages that I would like to learn. However, I prefer to keep my focus reasonably narrowed until I’ve reached the level that I am satisfied with – one language at a time. Having said that, if you have all the time in the world or you’re an absolute “polyglotic” genius, go ahead and study three or more languages at once, by all means.

Ooo! Important one – don’t be jealous of the progress of others, rather celebrate your own. Don’t envy that brilliant colleague of yours who has the best tutors, the best brain plus the best quality nuts to get the brain functioning at its peak (lol), even though he did master the language in six short months. Good for him – Yeay! 🙂

Never give up! The most challenging of times are those when you feel like you’ve put the effort & the time in, and yet have made hardly any progress. Let me tell you – NOOOO! Dooon’t give up!!! The progress is taking place, little by little.

Aaaand last, but not least – BE PATIENT. I cannot stress this one enough. If you are not surrounded by native speakers – it might take years before you become fluent. That’s OK though. Let it take as long as necessary. Isn’t it better to be able to say “Qui, I speak French” in 6 years from now, than to continue saying “I can’t speak French 😦 ” for the rest of your life?

Summary of what’s needed:

  • Belief that it’s possible, consistency, practice,
  • Creativity – plan numero dos, tres, cuatro (if need be),
  • courage to speak it, and to ask questions,
  • resources e.g. google, youtube, apps, books
  • Holidays – two birds, same time – remember?
  • Focus, patience, gratitude for your progress
  • And never give up attitude… Yeay!

So, whether I will take my own advice and finish my ‘course’ remains to be seen. Regardless, I hope that you will take it (the advice) because… IT WORKS 🙂

“Follow your path…, not the crowd.”


True Success quoteThere are many voices out there telling us who we should, or should not be. Those loud voices try to manipulate our minds in order to have us follow the generally acceptable ways of the majority. Yet, true success is not nearly as complicated as we may think.

True success is nothing else, but understanding and fulfilling one’s destiny. The man with the divine beauty and passion is the one who is truly alive. Some of us allowed our parents to choose our path for us. Maybe because we believed they knew what’s best for us, or because we didn’t want to go against their will, or simply because we saw no other option available, at the time…

Family tradition may be, but may also not be the way forward. Children do not belong to their parents. At some point in life (better sooner rather than later) we must learn how to make our own choices and follow God’s heart, even if it means going against the heart of our parents, friends or against the general solutions accepted as reasonable by the society.

People who follow the crowd are bound to get lost in the crowd. If you put your trust in the system you will be bound by its limitations (economy, education, skin colour, cultural situations). Too many people rise only to become another “ex”. Too many remain unaware that success can only be as lasting as its source. Education can get out-dated, trends may and will change. There will always be someone smarter, more beautiful and more “something” than you.

Yet, if you continually rely on the insight of the Mind, which does not fail, you will never become a yesterday’s man, or woman. To be truly free and not limited by others, or circumstances we need to follow the Maker. Only there, nothing is impossible. A joyful life needs courage to go after the quiet whisper within one’s heart…

Knowing who you are is essential. Knowing who you aren’t is part of that knowing. By getting to know the Mind of the One who made yours (mind), you are getting to know yourself. “In the beginning was the Word” so start there. Ask for wisdom and for an outline of your destiny, and then pray for strength to stay on your path. That path is the only place where you can be safe and fulfilled.

Take care of your beautiful mind. Keep it beautiful through a good spiritual education. Remember that thoughts of today will create your tomorrow. Heed that red light in The Book and within your heart, which is there for protection.

Have courage to go “against” the crowd and circumstances where necessary.  Dare to dream big – understand that possibilities are unlimited and you can decide your destiny. Be fearless when you know you are on the right path; and go after eternal success, which begins on Earth, in the heart of a man or a woman.

Be born again…

Monika Ribeiro’s “Follow your path…” was previously published by “TheAfroNews” newspaper.