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. 

Poetry Evening – Let’s Meet Offline!


Stanley Halls EventEverything happens for a reason… It has been a while since I posted on my blog, I know… However, it’s been even longer since I hosted a poetry evening offline. It’s been too long… With that being said, I have one coming up in three weeks, on the 29th of June at 17:30 pm.

Place: Stanley Halls, London, 12 South Norwood Hill, SE25 6AB

This “Poetry Evening with Monika Ribeiro and Friends” started with a rather significant hiccup though. For a moment, I wasn’t even sure if I’d be writing this blog post. To begin with, last year, I was asked to host a poetry evening. Originally, the event organisers who asked me to do it, were meant to provide the venue… In April this year, we agreed the date and time. Everything was meant to be a–okay, but then… 3,5 weeks before the show, they asked me to change the date explaining that they had double-booked. Whaaaaat?!

I know I know, we all make mistakes. I’ve made plenty all by myself. Still, by then, I had already started promoting slowly and invited five artists to support me. They all agreed and they’re all busy people, so I really didn’t want to change the date which has been on their calendars for a few weeks already. Also, a few days before the venue cancellation, another person, who had seen me perform at other people’s events, DMd me saying that she’d change her work schedule to be there… I mean… changing the date of the event was not an option. I was left with a show but no venue and no promoters to support it… Great! That happened last Monday…

Thank God, without going into too much detail, I was able to find another venue quickly. 😊 That means that we’re back on track and can focus on preparing the show rather than looking for a stage to put it on. Yes, I’m left with less time, but I believe that the show is worth the hustle and that it will be much greater than the off-stage drama. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade! 

So, if you are in London on 29.06.19 – please be there. I’d love to meet you, and I wouldn’t want you to miss it! Please RSVP by 27.06.19. 📮 I can’t wait to see you there!

Free Poetry Event – Click to Register Now.

Made of Many Worlds – Poem


Bushy Hair Woman

I was born, brown-skinned and a black-eyed girl,

Into a blue-eyed spot in this world –

Blessed with black, thick and rather frizzy hair

Where hair tends to be silky, smooth, mostly blond.

.

When I was a girl, maybe twelve years old,

I would lay my head down, on the ironing board

Because a real iron could tame my real hair…

Benefits seemed great… Risks? I didn’t care.

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Sometimes, I would hurt my neck

While trying to look more like my peers…

My silky, smooth hair would cover the scars,

But couldn’t heal wounds inflicted upon my ears.

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Finally, my strands lost all strength and shine.

Hurt, brittle and broken, they told me the truth:

Silky and smooth was not to be mine –

What was, however, was a gift… divine.

.

Some say, I cannot relate to the black woman’s plight.

I’m not brown enough – they say, again and again…

And yet, in the white crowd, my skin’s far from light.

No blue sockets in my eyes, no blue blood in my vein.

.

Some say I’m neither, but I share both bloodlines

So, I take the liberty to claim Angelou’s lines

“Out of the hats of history’s shame, I rise”

Up from a past that’s rooted in pain, I rise…”

.

There are decent and wicked people, in every place.

As Shakespeare well said, many years ago,

“There’s no art to tell the mind’s construction in the face”.

This line could apply to the subject of race…

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There’s more that connects than divides us, you see?

I won’t get offended if you disagree…

But, do look beyond the cover, listen to my words –

We live in a world made of many worlds…

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I live in a world made of many worlds…

Even more come alive in the depths of my mind

I pray that this world, made of many worlds,

Becomes one in the One who is colour-blind.

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Besides, I’m the world that lives within me…

Letter by letter and word by word –

HOW I look at things determines what is…

My own world gets recreated, every day, by me.

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I’m no longer looking for my place in this world…

His sweet spot within me is what I’m striving for.

In the midst of it all, still, I have to believe…

That right now and after… will surpass before.

↓↓↓

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Taking Happy Mental Pictures of the New Year!


 

Happy Pictures.jpg

We spend so much time reminiscing good old and bad old days… That’s fine… It’s okay to look for motivation or lessons in days gone by. Having said that, why not spend at least the same amount of time visualizing our future…

Once we’ve captured the beautiful picture of what we want to become we should lock it in our memory bank until it comes to pass! Start taking beautiful pics of your future right now, and remember them throughout 2019.

Happy New Year!

Remember your future

When the past is bleak

Remember Tomorrow

When you’ve had a tough week

or a year, even many tough years…

which have left you discouraged and weak

 .

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…

  .

Just remember your future,

Picture it in your mind

Decide what you want

What it will be like…

  .

Stop remembering your past

Don’t repeat old mistakes

Start remembering your future

Let it find you prepared…

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.

.

***

 

Final thought:

“Just keep swimming” Dori from “Finding Nemo”

If It’s Broke – Fix It: Poetry & Self-Publishing


Love, don't Fear - Book CoverYou may have noticed that I changed the title and the cover of my latest poetry collection. Ha… the book had only been out for a month… ‘Why did you do that?’ one could ask…

Well, that month was the driest month as far as my book sales, on Amazon, are concerned. Not only was this book not selling, but my first book “Do Lend Me Your Ears” took a significant hit too. While they might have been caused by a range of factors – those events were too time-correlated for me to ignore. So, I pulled the plug on “Poems about Love and Fear” ☹ And when I did – my first book sales spiked yet again. Boom! 😊 That was about 1,5 months ago…

After picking up the scattered pieces of my wounded ‘marketeer ego’ (not really), I’m back with a confession: I rushed the cover design and did not take enough time to consider the title. It was me…

I don’t write about Love and Fear as if they’re equal – they’re not… I write about Love overcoming fear, hence the new more appropriate title: “Love, Don’t Fear”.

About that cover… picturing a random couple kissing in the background of the red, red wine… I mean the red, red cover… One of my friends said that, at first sight, she thought she was looking at an erotic novel.👀 Well, the book’s about affairs of the heart, but there’s no direct sexual content in it. “Love, Don’t Fear” explores emotional battles and relationship lows. And then, the plot leads you to inspiring breakthroughs and solutions. That’s what you’ll find within its dramatic and captivating story-lines…

Change was needed, hence poems about love and fear are no more (though Google may not know that yet). The cover’s still passionately red, but the kissing couple is gone. The title no longer magnifies fear – it puts LOVE in its proper place… 

Food for thought: If there’s a book inside of you – don’t be scared to write it and share it. You are not a failure if you don’t succeed at your first attempt. It just means that your story will gain a backstory… Gather more information, get all the help you need and go do it again! Just do it better, this time around.

I’m super excited to introduce my new (old) book: “Love, Don’t Fear” to You. It is available on Amazon now.

Check it out. Pick it up. Be entertained and inspired to love – not fear…

All the Time & Everywhere – Poem


lost found searching

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You don’t just find Him in Love, although

Many people like to think you do…

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His Love & His Peace break through our Hate

You find Him in joys, but more in despairs

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You find Him in dry spells. You find Him in rain

You find Him at night and during the day

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He is all the time. God is everywhere…

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Yet, here is the most beautiful thing

About finding Him…

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When you cannot find – you can’t even search

Your heart is too tired and too weak to care

He will find you…

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Wherever you’re at…

In sadness, in pain,

In the storm, in the rain

He is there…

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All the time & everywhere.

Get Free & Stay There – Poem


put on some music

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There are fervent desires hunting for each soul

Don’t let them imprison you. Learn to let things go

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When it hurts to not have what you think you need

Release and defy it – let your mind “stay freed”

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Learn to wait and believe – learn to let it go

Find a happy medium. Take your time to grow

In the meantime,

 .

Relax… Hear the silence and dance…

Life need not be this complicated, and you only live once

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Free yourself… Don’t be hasty. Be grateful today

When the time is right things will come your way.

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Yeha Noha – A Friendly Croydon Café


yeha noha outside again

Interview with one of the Founders: Talking about Vision, Accolades, Team Work, Competition, Positive Energy & Work-Life Balance.

Today, I’d like to introduce a wonderful café, based in South West London. Why? Well, I know it’s cliche, but I like to write (or spend time) in coffee shops. Yeha Noha Café is one of my favorite cafés in London. 

gosia i ja
Gosia from Yeha Noha Cafe & I

Yeha Noha’ means ‘Wishes of Happiness & Prosperity’. It’s also the first single from a very successful album of Chants and Dances of the Native Americans, released in ’94. Back to my subject matter… When Yeha Noha Café won Croydon’s Best Independent Café Award its owners were surprised, but I wasn’t… This café is a gem amongst restaurants and cafés in the area.

The vicinity used to be grey and uninspiring. Gosia, one of the founders, was able to see the potential of the area which may not have been obvious to everyone.

yeha noha outsideI feel like smiling when I look at the café’s colorful outbuilding and its cutesy fence – they’re friendly, fun and unusual (in the area). Inside, the atmosphere is quite special too – some call it magical. Gosia says: “I had imagined that this place would provoke growth in people, but at the same time it was meant to stop them from running all the time. That was my intention.” She says. “When you enter the café, it’s like being transferred from one world to another. It’s a bit like going on holidays. You can sit down and think, ‘What can I do to be happier’? Maybe I can meet new friends here…”

I wanted to find out how the idea to open this precious place came about, so I sat down with her and listened as she told me their story.

Gosia: We thought it’s difficult for a family with small children to live in London. My children were ‘half-orphans’ – Boban used to leave in the morning and wouldn’t come back until midnight…” Boban is Gosia’s and Yeha Noha’s significant other i.e. husband and co-founder. He used to work “in the City” managing a successful restaurant by the River Thames…

yeha inside lamp

Gosia continues: “One day, when coming back from our friends place we noticed a restaurant lit with soft colorful lights transmitting a wonderful atmosphere of relaxation…” Mesmerised Gosia said to her husband: “You have a business background. I have ideas. Why can’t we open something like this?” He answered: “Actually why not?” That’s how the idea was born.  It was a joint venture from day one. “Once the intention had been released into the atmosphere things started falling into place even though it’s taken a while” she adds…

Gosia, a self-proclaimed risk taker with a philosophy that “unless you do something you’ll never know if it could work” says: “I have to be able to make money independently – in such a way that kids can have free access to both mum and dad.” One of the initial challenges was finding a venue. They’d almost secured one in Crystal Palace, but that fizzled out. “It wasn’t meant to be” Gosia says. Today, Yeha Noha Café is just by their house. The kids used to go there after school – they’d eat dinner and do homework in the café, but most importantly they could spend time, with both parents, in a family-friendly work environment.

Gosia recalls being exhausted while painting the fence before the grand opening. She tells me how “passers-by kept shaking their heads with pitiful comments such as ‘I hope you survive for about 6 months’. People didn’t believe in us. Some laughed at us when they found out we were about to open” She says.

Yeha Noha ChocolateHowever, sometime after the opening, customers started showing up. The owners were excited to see their intentions materializePeople came. They ordered coffee, hot chocolate, food… They’d sit down and relax… In the first year, Gosia’s friends, from North London, organised all their events in the café. “Travelling the distance made no sense” Gosia says and adds how grateful she still is for the support. Yeha Noha is a labour of love – it is a sweet reflection of its owners.

The Best Croydon Independent Café Award (2016) came as a surprise to the owners. A client called yelling into the phone: “Gosia, congratulations! You won! You won!” They didn’t strive to win. They didn’t even announce that they’d been nominated. “I will not be part of a rat race… I don’t have the need to be the best. I like team work…” Gosia explains. When asked about the award, however, she admits it was encouraging. It re-affirmed their belief that it pays to be honest in life. The owners have a very interesting approach to competition. They believe there’s enough resources and space for everyone. On this note, they choose to support other cafés and collaborate rather than compete… “We can grow together” says Boban in an interview with a local TV station.

Boban is organised. He’s a social being and people like him. Gosia is more of a creative strength. Organizing events, courses, opening doors to meditation, Bible studies, live music & poetry is what she thinks about. He is an entrepreneur while she takes interest in psychology, psycho-biology, being assertive, designing your life rather than being a victim of circumstances. Her husband deals with finances, accountants, lawyers, etc. During a time of major challenges e.g. no building, no money – Gosia was there to encourage him, so he could fight those battles with confidence. They work well together, which is one of the “secrets” to Yeha Noha Café’s success.

Yeha Noha SoupGosia shares with me that one of her desires is to bring positive energy into her world. She says: “I don’t want people to feel like they have to rush in, buy and then rush out of the café…” She encourages her customers to stay and enjoy the place & food (so tasty, by the way) while respecting the needs of other customers. “Just because I am born Catholic doesn’t mean I cannot serve a Muslim woman in a hijab. If we both have good will, there’s no problem.” She says. Yeha Noha Café is a place for everyone.

Reportedly, old & new friendships continue to grow in the café. Marriages have been born there. Couples come back to celebrate their anniversaries while new initiatives continue to develop within and around the café. Yeha Noha Café, recognized by the judges & journalists, continues to be appreciated by its loyal customers…

Consider visiting them if you’re looking for a café to call your own, or if you simply want a nice cup of hot chocolate or a delicious meal to warm your soul…