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. 


“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.

‘How to master a foreign language???’


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 🙂

“Little Big Mama/Papa…”

Mama Snail
Mama Snail

In most cultures, the mother symbolizes selflessness. She is  perceived as a phenomenon of endless dedication to those placed under her care. Nevertheless, there seems to be a fine line between parental devotion and martyrdom…

In Poland, the phrase “Matka Polka” (translate “Polish Mother”) is used mainly for honourable causes. One of the largest highly specialized medical complexes in the country is named “Polish Mother’s Memorial Hospital…” In 1830, Matka Polka became the respected recipient of a poem written by Adam Mickiewicz (a celebrated Polish writer). Paradoxically still, over the years, the same phrase began to be commonly associated with the futility of motherhood. Sadly, in many eyes, “Matka Polka”, in spite of her sacrificial devotion to family, is seen as a woman unfulfilled and un-inspiring…

Since becoming a mom, even my small everyday decisions require some form of consideration for others. Life changes when you step into parental shoes, no doubt. The time, which you once thought was yours, no longer even pretends to belong to you; and many things, once estimated to be accomplished in no time, now take longer.

Milton Berle (American comedian/actor) said: “If evolution really works, how come mothers only have two hands?” This rhetorical question, in a humorous way, illustrates how daunting motherhood can get sometimes. At some point, the world of a servant-less mother must accommodate numerous demands and messy issues, no matter how often ‘the laundry’ gets done. Moreover, nowadays, being a mother rarely exempts one from having to take care of other responsibilities…

Today’s world glorifies achievement. Everything moves fast – technology, cars, and people. Add the obsession with self, and there you have it – an ordinary mom’s profile comparable to that of a snail, which we all know to be on the smaller/slower side of things. Whenever I feel smaller and slower than the rest, due to motherhood, my heart is blessed to hear the following words: “What you’re doing is very important and significant.”

These words may just be what you need to hear right now.

You are an artist with a high callingone of the pioneers and very influential creators given to paint on the unique canvas of your child’s heart and soul. Your efforts may go unnoticed by people, but Heaven sees the most subtle of your brushstrokes… You are precious… Remember this because you will not always have someone there to remind you.

Little big mom, we need your strength and we need your smile 🙂

Dedicated to mothers, fathers and others… whose lives are strongly devoted to the needs of people.


Sometimes, it may feel like

We were left behind…

With dust in our eyes

From another’s wheels…


Keep it moving though…

As slow as you must and as fast as you can

There’s a time and a season for each one –

Even Mom.