7 Answers – Interview & Introduction


7 Questions.jpgA few months ago, I was featured in “Seven Questions…” – a popular column of a UK based newspaper for the Polish diaspora. The interview format was quite unusual. I was given a number of one word/two-word questions to choose from and asked to develop answers based on whatever reflections they triggered in my mind.

When the interview came out I promised my English-speaking readers its translation, so here it comes – slightly adapted for this blog but true to the heart of our conversation.

Monika Ribeiro

Writer, Poet. Published two books with inspiring poetry and short stories – “Do Lend Me Your Ears” and “Love, don’t Fear” – currently writing her third book (epic novel). She comes from Poland, completed a master’s degree course in marketing and management at the University of Szczecin. She has lived in London for the past 15 years.

Colour

Black and white, hence brown… like my skin which reflects the fusion of two cultures – Nigerian (my dad’s side) and Polish (my mum’s). My parents met when they were students at the Technical University of Lodz. For the first few months after I was born, subsequently every now and then: I’ve lived there with them – in a student home. Skin colour means nothing because we all belong to one race – human race.

Place

The old town of Barcelona. The beach, sun, museums, beautiful antique buildings, music… One of my visits, about 4 years ago, is especially engraved in my memory. One morning, in the search of peace I discovered Museu Frederic Marés… I spent half of my day there – writing, staring at tourists and artists immersed in high-focus drawing… I lost the sense of time. On the other hand, London is the city where I don’t feel different – where I can get lost in the crowd. Here, I met my husband Miguel, started my adult life and gave birth to three kids.

Life’s Motto

Never Give Up because Nothing is Impossible. This thought subtly but consistently re-appears in my poetry and life choices.

Join me on Insta

Hobby

Writing. It’s my passion, therapy and career choice. It’s great when a reader or listener comes back to tell me how much they appreciate my creations, but the writing process is just as important as the final effect. During the process, I experience an emotional catharsis and feelings stronger than those I get whilst travelling because when you write you’re allowed to create new places instead of merely discovering them. The book I’m working on now is about love, friendship, the pursuit of happiness, finding God and fighting for your dream…

Music

It has to be positive and spirit lifting. Melody, of course, is important but first and foremost, I care about the lyrics and the atmosphere a musical piece creates…

Book

The Bible. 15 years ago, I was in Paris visiting Ayo (who authored the foreword to my book “Love, don’t Fear”). One evening, in preparation for travel, she was packing her suitcase: clothes, jewellery, a storm of colours. What struck me was that, in spite of a relatively small travel-bag, she packed three bibles – English, German and French… Many things have happened since then, but the Scriptures still are my main spiritual food. They helped me get rid of a few-year long depression and they’re the source of daily wisdoms I have not found in any other book.

Film

“Rocky” with Sylvester Stallone. A story about a small-time boxer realising his dreams of becoming the heavy-weight world champion. I watched the series a few times and will probably watch them again. Highlights – literal and metaphorical battle, facing his opponent but mostly himself, love… Main message – fight until the end, don’t lose faith, love and respect others…

 

If you speak Polish, see the first pic above with the original interview. Join me on Instagram too. 

Racism, Politics & the Spirit of Fear


Martin Luther King

Yesterday, I was verbally attacked for not being fully black (my mum’s white)… I couldn’t believe the hatred that came out of the person’s mouth. They directed racist abuse towards me – pointing out my background, my skin being fairer than theirs and my hair being too long to be “black”. Whaaaat?! Are we really going there, again? 

This happens to me every now and then (click here to read), but whenever it does it’s still a shock to my system, especially when it’s done by someone who’s close to my heart.

I won’t say who they were because I’m not here to fight the perpetrator, but I do want to come against the spirit (of fear). That person has been following American politics and got infuriated by president Trump’s racial attacks on 4 democratic women of colour… I understand why he felt angry, but he did to me the exact same thing Trump did to the other women. That’s what fear does – it makes you irrationally hate another… Reverse racism does exist. Since when are all white people responsible for evil actions of one or even a group of “their kind”? By that standard, should all black people be responsible for evil actions of one or a group of “their kind”? Moreover, being mixed-raced, should we be responsible for every crazy utterance of every black and/or white person? This… is… madness! We are individuals responsible for our own actions and nobody else’s. 

Instagram This Conversation

I don’t support the American president’s racist comments and the dangerous ways in which he carries on in his role. I don’t know much about politics, but my heart sank when he became the head of the state… Still, I don’t appreciate the vulgar way in which one of the women expressed her desire to impeach him. I understand her anger, but there’s a better way (language) to confront evil. We cannot fight fire with fire and we can definitely not fight racism with more racism… Two wrongs don’t make a right. Why do we remember and respect men like dr Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandela? Because, despite injustice and cruelty, they responded with love and reason. They did not debase themselves to the level of those misguided by hatred and othering… 

We live in a fallen world. Bad things happen here. Bad people further their evil agendas… Is it difficult to manoeuvre through the darkness? Yes! The only thing that centres me is knowing that in the midst of it all, God is still in control. And, that there will be a time when all lies will be exposed and the truth will stand. It may not be  for another hundred years, or it might be tomorrow – but that time will come. In the meantime, we have to stay close to Him or our hearts will surely fail out of fear… 

I’d like to conclude with the following verses from the Bible which is what helps me with my own struggles in this area…

Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken…” 

Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”

Flower Petals Around Her Eyes – Poem


Flower Petals Around Her Eyes.jpg
Croydon Graffiti

She was a beautiful girl

With flower petals around her eyes

Many sad pictures they’ve seen,

This life was born into lies…

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She was created by love

And had a pure little heart…

Yet, before she turned seventeen,

Her face was far from His art.

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If the house, she lived in, had eyes and ears

It would hear constant weeping

It would witness her tears.

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Thus, her soul embraced many a crime

Pictures she saw changed who she was –

No, it wasn’t just time…

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Just like her mum, she too became wild

She quit school at thirteen

At fourteen, she was carrying a child.

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She gave birth and her baby away

Since then, she’s been drinking, every single day.

She tried many evils, under the Sun…

And she run, she run – like a wild horse she run.

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While searching for love and for an escape

She became familiar with the pain of rape.

So, she run even faster, but could not run away

Until… she yielded and started to pray…

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Only then, she knew she was truly heard.

He sounded unlike the others, who yelled,

Punched her belly and slapped her face…

There was only love within His embrace.

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Amazing Grace!

It washed her mind and erased her curse.

Now, she was ready to embrace His verse.

She became His child. She was fifty, by then.

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The world had told her she’s worthless,

and yet… He bought her…

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His Life was the Price!

They studied wrinkles she had acquired

He focused on petals around her eyes.
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She had nothing to give, but gave Him her all
Now, the world sees art – not a dirty wall.
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Number Seven – Poem


Number 7 Man

Even when I do all 6 tasks just right

You still focus on the seventh

Which is done, just not quite…

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Your kudos last but a minute

Criticisms never stop

It’s annoying just like dripping water

Drop, drop, drop, drop, drop (it)

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7 is a symbol… of perfection

Is that what is needed to avoid rejection?

How about 6.99?

Will 6.99 secure your affection?

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As You turn Love into Math

You’re turning joy into pain

Can we scratch number 7?

So, His Passion can reign!

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Can we cover one another

For as long as we’re alive?

I have never met a 7

Not even a 6.5

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The Plea of a Gnarled Tree – Poem


woman tree

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. I’ve been thinking about you a lot

You capture attention – mine surely got caught

So, here’s my reaction to your heartfelt plea

The plea of a gnarled and exhausted tree

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This detail won’t stroke your ego

It won’t make too many mentions,

but the road to hell is paved with details,

or is it ‘with good intentions’?

 .

Never mind…

I know you mean well,

Still, one cannot ‘good-deed’

Their way out of hell…

 .

Even so…

.

In doing good we must leave no stone unturned

Yet, Grace is a Gift which cannot be earned…

This gift is not carved into tablets of stone

We cannot reach peace on our own…

. 

Bread can be hardened, and yet

You can never turn stone into bread…

The truth’s independent of one’s belief

If you bite into stone, you will break your teeth

 .

Some say truths are many, but how many are there?

And how can those ‘truths’ contradict one another?

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There is only One… for the old and the youth

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“What makes me think that I’ve met the Truth?”

I am Free Finally – I take that as a proof

There is mercy and grace for those who repent

Even to the gnarled trees that are twisted and bent.

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Where are you growing to? – Poem


Woman - Sunflowers

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“You are rising too fast

You are aiming too high…

Courage is foolish –

Brave people die!”

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‘Where are you growing to?’

‘Why such a rush? They’ll implore

‘It’s just your pride…’ They will add…

‘We don’t believe you should take the floor!’

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Yes, one should challenge oneself

And one must question their thoughts…

Not to succumb to misleading voices

or misdirection of untamable wants…

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Where are we growing to?

Are we growing at all?

Are we rising to greatness?

Or preparing to fall?

.

Reaching out to heavens,

Or in the other direction?

Are our minds filled with ego?

Or with divine perception?

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If you’re growing the right way

There is no need to explain…

Critics won’t go away

They will forever remain…

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So, keep on growing to where

You were created to grow…

Don’t let the skeptics define you

Enticing your mind to stay small

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So… what about you?

Where are you growing to?

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Our days are numbered you see

We have limited minutes and hours

After the danger of spring frost is past –

Have courage to bloom… like Sunflowers!

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Poetry Reading – Collaboration with Desiri


Desiri and i 2Welcome back to “Love Don’t Fear” stories and collaborations 😊

“I saw her smile” is a story of a girl who keeps searching for love in all the wrong places. I have shared this poem before, but I’m super happy to present you with Desiri Okobia’s rendition of it. Desiri (aka Miss Dee) is the author of “Diaries of a Visionary” and an English Literature teacher. Currently, she is preparing to launch her new book – a wonderful novella I can’t wait to read. In the meantime, however, please enjoy “I saw her smile” as well as Miss Dee’s powerful delivery.

A while ago, I’ve had an encounter with a lady on social media (I don’t know her personally), but she had read the poem and started messaging me about it. She told me: “If you don’t remove this piece from print – I will sue!” She accused me of thoroughly researching her private life to share it through my writings…

Whaaaat?!

Well…

To some extent, this tale may indeed be “hers” – not because I knew about her experiences, but because it is timeless and universal, while the principles it bears are gender-less… Truly, this poem is about (and for) all the girls and women, in all the corners of the world, who ever felt like they needed to be in romantic relationships (bad or good) before they could be whole.

Having said that, I asked Desiri why she picked “I saw her smile” – she told me she simply liked the story. So, even if you’re not “a girl who never smiles”, I believe that you’ll enjoy the narrative within the poem. As always, you’ll find drama and pain and all that stuff here, but ultimately it is a one woman’s journey from darkness to light.

FYI, “I saw her smile” can be found in my recent Poetry Collection “Love Don’t Fear”, so please go ahead and pick it up on Amazon if you like what you hear.

Please enjoy the YouTube video below and let me know your thoughts.

Just don’t sue – I haven’t been spying on you 😊

‘Love Don’t Fear’ Collaborations


POETRY AND BOOKS

DesiriiOne of the greatest American novelists Ernest Hemingway is quoted to have said “Writing, at its best, is a lonely life.” And yes, writing is solitary – it requires concentration and dedication, but that’s not what this post is about… This post is about collaboration.

“Love Don’t Fear” is filled with relationship stories, hence my need to share the book’s creation process with others came as no surprise. Ayo (foreword) and my husband Miguel influenced its title… During an impromptu ‘brain-storming’ session, Miguel put “Love Don’t Fear” out there and I knew that was it! One day, I might share the circumstance in which he got inspired, but that’s a whole ‘nother story… for later… maybe 😊

Moving on, I invited other fellow artists to contribute in the post-creation process. I can’t wait to share the fruits of these wonderful relationships with you. I hope you enjoy what’s to come and that we can connect through it…

On this note, let me introduce Desiri…  

Desiri Okobia (aka Miss Dee) is an author and English literature teacher from London, UK. In her book “Diaries of a Visionary”, she shares her experiences, positive energy and strong passion for God. She writes: “I made plans to move to America and pursue my career as an actress in Hollywood. By this time, I had built up my acting portfolio by attending a theatre school in London, taking part in theatre productions and appearing in some TV shows… …New York is similar to London, and I was used to the city life. I had it all planned out: first New York, and then eventually I would move to LA and work as an actress, live in a nice house on the beach and drive a red convertible. Yep! That’s all I wanted to do…”

Desiri’s honesty makes me smile and her story brings to mind a well known saying: “Man plans, God laughs”. Pick up “Diaries of a Visionary” (on Amazon) if you’re so inclined – find out how the Maker interrupted her American dream, see her growth and enjoy the rest of this inspiring tale…

Back to “Love Don’t Fear” collaborations, Desiri will be reading “I saw her smile” – the full recording will be here soon. Meanwhile, please enjoy this short snippet with her powerful delivery of the story about a girl who never smiled… until she did. 😊

There’s more to come. In the meantime, go ahead and pick up “Love Don’t Fear” on Amazon. ♥

Remember Your Future – Poem


Hope Endures

Remember your future

When the past is bleak

Remember Tomorrow

When you’ve had a tough week

or a year, even many tough years…

That have left you discouraged and weak

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I pray for your strength

When you’re weary and drained

That you focus your mind

On remembering good days

Again, and again, and again…

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Just remember your future,

Picture it in your mind

Decide what you want

What it will be like…

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Stop remembering your past

Don’t repeat old mistakes

Start remembering your future

Let it find you prepared ♥

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Keep Swimming – Poem


stony beach

A brief definition of a beach, by me –

Soft & golden sand with a fresh breeze & the sea

Yet, this shore, right here, without one grain of sand

Is believed to be qualified. I believe, but not quite…

Well… Sea? Checked. Breeze? Checked.

But then.., stones – and sooo haaard!

…..

In my mind, there’s a memory of a soft & smooth beach

Without the soft sand, my bare feet feel so… eek!

.. 

Rocks are surely great for the ‘mountain time’

Yet, each beach, in my mind, requires… the sand…

Second thought – let’s revise

It’s a fruitful land…

As in spite of my hurting feet

Which from pebbles bleed

 I prefer to keep swimming

In the sea bottomed hard

Than to drown in the one

Underlaid with soft sand.

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***

 

Final thought:

“Just keep swimming” Dori from “Finding Nemo”