Top Three Things FMGs/IMGs must do to match into US Residency. 

As both an international and foreign medical graduate I have gone through the mills of this process. Between switching visas and learning the ropes only by experience I can confidently tell you some of what you need to know to begin this journey. 

1. ACE the Boards.

This post may as well end here. Board Scores are VERY Important. When I applied into residency in 2011, USMLE step 1 scores greater than 240 were highly desirable. High step 1 (and step 2) scores represent you as a competitive, strong applicant who is less likely to become a burden in training and more likely to excel in your specialty of choice. 

During my year as chief resident at a family medicine program in Kentucky I was easily drawn to portfolios with competitive scores. Your scores on step 1 have the power to make or break your application as an FMG. You need to prove how you are equally competitive especially with US graduates. Most students from US schools have the benefit of being able to use the reputation of their medical schools as leverage, this advantage is absent for FMGs unless you’re from a world renowned school. As chief, a high board score also translated into a higher probability of success on USMLE step 3 and eventually family medicine boards (which we take in April during the 3rd of year of residency training prior to graduation). 

2. Apply strategy in your observer-ship (clinical rotation) process. 

Yes, you should definitively shadow a practicing clinician but you have to be very strategic. Do shadow in more than one specialty but at least one of each category i.e. general adult medicine, medical subspecialties, general surgery, pediatrics and a surgical sub specialty. Certainly tailor this based on your desired field of future practice. You may need a few months of US clinical experience. In my opinion one observership for 30 days isn’t sufficient for anyone without US clinical experience. You need to use this time to expose yourself to the way medicine is practiced differently here in the US from where you were trained. It can serve as a step 2 CK board prep tool as well. Do look for clinical scenarios that tie into your board review prep to make your medical knowledge memorable. 

The second aspect to being strategic is to use this as an opportunity to network! Yes, in medicine who you know matters! Begin by picking out residency programs in the state where you live by visiting the ACGME website (for MD/MBBS degree holders). Do check other less saturated states as well such as in the Midwest, Deep South and SouthWest. Do appropriate research on these programs -including how many FMGs/IMGs have been previously admitted to these programs, visa sponsorship (if necessary) and the requirements for residency application. Most programs require US clinical experience for varying time frames. Once all these criteria are met I suggest you pick up the phone and call them to request an observership. The best option if you can afford it is to drive up to the residency coordinator’s office and have a one on one inquiry session. The worse that will happen is that they don’t accommodate your request in which case you will try the next program on your list. I remember calling programs directly to inquire about scheduling a visit and then disclosing intentions to apply during such visits. 

The most important part about strategizing is to request to do your observership (or rotation for carribean med students) with the program director (PD) or assistant PD. Essentially; ensure that your preceptor is directly involved with the program. You are trying to advertise yourself as a desirable, hard working future applicant. Remember that. 
In one instance; during the time when I was torn between pediatrics and adult medicine (before I settled into Family Medicine) – I took the bus to a certain reputable children’s hospital in Chicago to request information on a pediatric clerkship with the residency program director! I got in. I was the only FMG during that entire month, my counter parts were students from Rush University and one other Chicago based medical school. At the end of my rotation the PD sat me down and was clear as to how impressed she was with my work ethic and drive and expressed desire to review my application if I applied. I believe if I chose to do pediatrics I would’ve trained there. Easily. 

3. Start Early.

A common mistake I see among FMGs is procrastination. If you are a Carribean medical student – do not wait until the end of your 2nd year to start mapping out the above strategies. Start on day 1 of medical school. You know the programs in your community at home – so start there but don’t end there. If you’re outside of the US and planning a transition then start working on your boards long before you move. As soon as you’re settled then begin your networking process. You can never be too aggressive. You are a goal getter. That’s all. Again; the worse that could happen is you get rejected. I was rejected too, many of my successful, smart and brilliant co-residents (FMGs and non- FMGs alike) all have varying stories of rejection throughout medical training. What matters most is you cannot afford to give up. Trust God, trust your process and try again even after multiple failures and rejection. 

Life is not about what happens to you but what you do with what happens to you.

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How To Stay Healthy While You Travel.

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– PREVENT BLOOD CLOTS : By walking the aisles of the aircraft (to improve circulation) or by wearing compression stockings. I prefer aisle seats so I can walk when I choose. You can do easy leg exercises while seated if you are stuck in a middle ūüíļ seat. Most airlines have exercises on the back of travel magazines in the front seat pocket. Just ask.

– TRAVEL VACCINES : applies to international travelers. Hep A&B, typhoid, rabies, yellow fever, flu etc are preventable by vaccinations. Talk to your doctor to determine what may apply to you prior to leaving the country. Check CDC’s website for info in regards to your destination.

– Combat EFFECTS OF DRY AIR: Dry air & DEHYDRATION from hotel room AC or heating units, airplane etc can cause havoc to your skin and mucous membranes. If you can’t afford to carry a portable humidifier drinking plenty of water helps (¬†I recommend the usual eight 8 oz glasses a day),¬†or even consider moisturizing your nares with petroleum jelly for those who are prone to crackling skin from dryness.
– HAND HYGIENE: This will keep you void free throughout your traveling. You will be touching several surfaces and meeting various people, portable sanitizer is an easy way to stay clean. Scented options keep you feeling and smelling super fresh.
– Take off and landing ANXIETY: engage in conversation during these crucial periods to take your mind away from the movement of the airplane. You can also disclose this to the person sitting next to you to ease your anxiety level. In severe cases where there is a phobia talk to your doctor about short acting anxiolytics if that applies to you.
РSUNSCREEN: recommended for all ethnicities even darker skin tones! SPF > 30 better. Any brand works. I love cheap yet effective @neutrogena which is available over the counter. Debunked myth: Black people also get sunburn and skin cancer.
– NECK PAIN: likely from positioning during flight. Neck pillows help stabilize cervical spine and offer support to prevent muscle tension buildup.
– Research risks associated with all ADVENTUROUS ACTIVITY planned during your trip and apply them accordingly i.e. Helmets for bike or ATV rides, safety glasses, proper attire and hard soles shoes for outdoor activities.
– Minimize ūüźú INSECT BITES: by using bug spray or proper attire to cover extremities as the weather permits.
– Practice SAFE SEX ¬†or none at all so you won’t have to worry about STDs .
– If you travel with family learn basic life-saving techniques like the Heimlich maneuver which can save a choking family member, or what to do when someone drowns or gets stung by a jelly fish etc. You’ll be surprised what free resources exist at your local library ūüďö or on the internet.
– Wear comfortable clothing for long flights.
Go ahead and be safe!

Child Support

I need your help with this.

NOT in the divorce type of way j/k.

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You see these children with me in the photo?

They need YOU, yes YOU. They need your help. Every dollar you give through me to them will provide a pot of hot food. Delicacies like rice and stew, beans, corn meal, yams, plantains etc.

Click this link here to support.

OR

Type this into your browser: gofundme.com/orphan-help-needed

If you don’t want to click on that link and read all that here is a snippet of what is included in the link as to why I am asking for your help.

                         Please, help Dr. Lum support the Amity Social Assistance Family.

Who are they?
Amity Social Assistance Family is the fancy name for a  family of vulnerable and disabled children in the adoptive home (aka orphanage) of Mrs. Loh Margaret whom I have known personally for 3 yrs now. This home is located in my hometown of Douala, in the country Cameroon and launched as an NGO on April 13th 2004.

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Why help? 
Because you can make a difference in the life of an impoverished handicap child who has been otherwise abandoned by family.  The goal of the home is to provide a living situation and create sustainable development opportunities for these children/youth. They are taught marketable skills during their upbringing here that allow them to develop an attitude of self-reliance.

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How can you help?
In the process of raising these children; there are several basic necessities that are often lacking. I witnessed this myself during my visit in October 2016. Their meals are prepared community style and in quantities enough to feed each month just for the day. There are seldom any excesses or snacks. Certainly, nothing gets thrown away in the trash. Every dollar you donate toward this project helps to fund the market list (grocery list), pay for raw food and a clean water source.
Yes, every $  you give towards this project will be donated to the orphanage and used solely to buy food that will be prepared and shared among the children.

When can you help?
Truly;  anytime. But, for the purpose of meeting an urgent need such as food earlier is always better. Preferably on or before June 30th 2017.

How to know what happens to your donation?
For a photo or evidence of how your money will be spent, you can email slyloh53@yahoo.com for updates. Mr Loh is able to share photos of the children with you through the previous email address. I know this because I communicate with him often. Others listed are   mmmagloh20042@gmail.com or handicap.center@yahoo.fr or  you can call +237 677 94 18 21 or +237 6 776 66 787. Data charges apply when calling from the USA.
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Nina N. Lum, what is your role with this orphanage?
My mother first introduced me to this organization where she has served free of charge as the general pediatrician and a mother to these children for many years. I began to support financially with “food money” as soon as I was able to. But as the proverb goes “It takes a village to raise a child”, hence I would need more help from my virtual village here to help support this unusual family in my hometown.

James 1:27
Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world

#mindfulmed: How MINDFULNESS is keeping me stable.

No, I am not crashing! Set your pads down, you wouldn’t need the crash cart for this one. J

The excitement that follows completing residency (especially if you opt out of fellowship) is often so strong that it seldom accompanies a plan to excel as an attending. I have only been an attending physician for 19 months now and I am well aware that there is a lot to learn in my future but this fact cannot steal from what I have already experienced.

In my opinion, with any career in life, one is going to have to develop a strategy that offers balance and productivity in order for us to stay sane at home and deliver at work. This is where mindfulness comes into play for this new younger and hot- but-not-so-fresh-off-the-press attending.

‚ÄúMindfulness‚ÄĚ in my relatively short practice of medicine has become a tool that helps me transform what could‚Äôve been an unpleasant experience into a more appealing one. It keeps me enjoying the present moment, leaves me with a new meaning to distress and gives meaning to undesirable circumstances.

It is only natural that when I saw this handle #mindfulmed trending among the medical community on Instagram I chose to share my 2 cents. Reading other virtual colleagues posts made me smile because I realized I was not the only one who has redefined the psychosocial medicine of mindfulness to achieve happiness at work or at home.

If you read nothing else from this post, just remember that these are the 5 things I practice to remain a well-balanced individual. Obviously these come after the fact that I work with phenomenal people and absolutely love my job as a hospitalist!  All these factors combined  makes it easy to excel at work daily. But, I still tend to practice these 5 things when faced with stress filled situations.

  1. Realign my focus
  2. Realize my territory of influence
  3. Reset my gratitude
  4. Repurpose my shortcomings
  5. Redesign my presence

    In these ways I am able to transform even the most stress filled moments into lessons or more pleasant experiences.

Now if you are one for details and that wasn’t enough for you can continue to read the specifics.

To Realign my Focus – I very simply look at the bigger picture. This is the creates way to achieve mental balance. This happens a lot at work and all the times I begin to find reasons to want to complain about ‚Äúdysfunctional stuff‚ÄĚ, I quickly remember days I prayed for where I am now. Overcoming the odds as a foreign medical graduate and infiltrating the system were more challenging than any other scenario I can possibly find myself in. Instead of complaining, I look for a way to improve “said situation”, I question myself as to whether my role in the¬†moment¬†could be one of resolution¬†‚Äď whatever that may be.

To realize my territory of influence gives me reason to endure the most unpleasant occurrences. At some point I realized that when I aspired to attain greater heights, with that came greater responsibilities. As a doctor some people’s lives depend on your acts of heroism but also a lot on your mistakes. It is my responsibility to be patient and kind to people especially during the most vulnerable of times as is the case with the sick and dying. It is irresponsible to think that you can be a community leader in service to patients and coast along without having to support others or facilitate life for other people. The added weight which can seem stressful comes with the territory. Very simply said ‚Äúheavy is the head that carried the crown‚ÄĚ. But, I add, that to stay in balanced mode ‚Äúgo ahead and adjust the crown‚ÄĚ.

To reset my gratitude helps me find joy in hurtful situations. I started this kick where I write down the most mundane and tiniest things that I am grateful for. Yes even the crazy stuff. When you work in healthcare and see so much hurt, loss and pain it is easier to be grateful for good health but I don’t end there. I mean I am thankful for crazy stuff  i.e. even perfume, nail polish, French toast, my purse, you name it. It leaves me feeling like I found gold in a thrift store.

To repurpose my shortcomings I begin by doing the soul searching and mortifying task of accepting self-fault. This is hard, but with maturity comes humility. Meekness facilitates the process of identifying the ways in which I have fallen short of my own expectations of self. Once I have identified a failure, (usually after briefly basking in self pity/correction #fixitjesus) I quickly look for ways to refurbish the lessons from the experience. It is certainly true what they say: its not about what happens to you as much as what you do with what happened to you.

Redesigning my presence enables me to remain in the moment. I am so easily distracted (aren’t we all?) by mid rounds chatting, unexpected outcomes, healthcare news or political debates, other people etc. I try to mentally realign my focus by bringing my mind back into my present moment; pleasant or unpleasant and just deal with it. I have realized that it’s best to go through the unpleasantness of a season than to skip through it, because it somehow always knows hot to catch up with me.

Now, I know this applies to everyone in every walk of life, my life only seems to be partially consumed by medicine. Feel free to replace specific scenarios with whatever is applicable to your current routine.

IMG_4284 copy.pngNina

My Health Career Feature on BlackmanMD.com

<I was recently featured on a health career blog written by Chrystel Wekon; a passionate student doctor at Wake Forest. Here are a few snippets that shed some light into my career path. Disclaimer: this was written and published on http://www.blackmanmd.com&gt;

  • Where are you currently at in your career path and why did you decide to pursue this career path?¬†

I am a hospitalist (occasionally nocturnist) practicing with an internal medicine inpatient group in London, Kentucky. My background is  in Family Medicine and I completed residency training in 2015. I chose this specialty because it allows me to be involved in all the different specialties of medicine without formally training in them. It essentially offers variety.

  • If you could go back and have a chat with your 1st-year postgraduate self, what would you tell him/her?

 Prepare yourself for success from the start. Pick a major in college that will favor your medical career. Start early. Inform yourself on all the medical specialties and sub-specialties available and learn about what it takes to get there by talking to and working with physicians who are in the field before making a informed decision as to what to specialize in.

  • What advice would you give to a professional student looking to pursue a similar path as yours?

Know what you want, write it out and then ensure that you go for it. Do not give up. Talk to people who are in the specialty of your choice, most importantly – find a mentor. Shadow as many physicians as you can; especially those you admire. Always ask for help along the way. Study extremely hard. Get an accountability partner who has similar goals and help each other grow forward.

  • What is a major challenge you have had to overcome and how did you do so?

 Financial problems and challenges with being a foreign & international medical graduate. These are familiar struggles with studying in the USA as a non-immigrant on a study visa with limited access to sources of income. I couldn’t work my way through school or afford the comforts and sometimes necessities of life that could’ve facilitated the studying process. There are unfortunately residency programs that do not support visa applicants or consider foreign medical graduates into residency.A s for the residency application process, I looked for programs that ONLY supported the visa (J-1) I was going to be eligible for. I focused on programs with previous foreign medical graduates. I diversified my search and did not limit myself to certain geographic locations hence I ended up in Kentucky but still achieved my dreams.

Finances: a family member who is also a US citizen co-signed a private student loan with me, facilitating the process. My parents supported a majority of my tuition. I qualified for tuition deduction for working in the medical library at my Caribbean medical school. I was also awarded a partial scholarship for maintaining a GPA >3.5 each semester.

  • What advice would you give to someone getting ready to start their application process to residency? (if applicable)

Review your personal statement several times; be very specific about who you are and how you will be the best applicant into that program. Have your mentors proof read your personal statement. Research the programs thoroughly, if possible do an AI rotation with them or schedule a visit so you have inside information on where you would spend several years of your life. Show and express direct interest in your top 3 programs to improve your chances of ending up where you may want to work.

  • What is your favorite thing about your job?

I feel blessed when I admit a critically ill patient and after a few days (or weeks) I see them leave the hospital a lot better than when they arrived. The reward is instant. I also love patient education as this helps people improve their lives after discharge and keeps them out of the hospital longer. Secondary or even primary prevention at its finest!

  • Do you have another professional degree, such as an MBA and/or MPH? If so, how has it impacted you?

No, I do not, but I am working on pursuing an MBA to diversify into the business of medicine. Yes, that exists!

  • Can you please walk us through a typical workday?

I get to the hospital at 8 am, drop off my personal items at the office, and pick up my list for the day and head to the floor. The ‚Äúlist‚ÄĚ is a list of names of patients whom I will directly offer medical care to on a given day. In simple terms, I am the hospital physician for everyone on my list. I work 12 hour shifts for 7 days in a row and I am off for 7 days and the cycle is repeated till the end of the year. I typically start rounds in the ICU, seeing the most critical patients, discussing with the sub-specialists involved in their care and create a plan of care. From there I move to the step-down/Progressive care unit and finally the med-surg unit. Between patients on rounds I may go to the ER to admit or do consults on new or post op patients. A few months out of the year, I also act as a community-based preceptor for students from LMU doing Internal Medicine Clerkships. On most days I leave the hospital at 8pm, but I also only work half the year (full time hours) for full time pay.

  • How do you manage to balance your work life and your romantic relationship (and family life, if applicable)?

    I work half the month and I am currently single and without children but I still maintain a vibrant social life by traveling, visiting new places and enjoying new experiences.

 

  • Do you have any passions outside of treating patients? If so, what are they and how do you find time to pursue these passions? (Research, Mentoring, Writing, Fishing, Hiking, Reading, anything really)

Mentoring, reading, traveling, exploring, relaxing on the beach hopping, music, beauty & fashion

 

Kentucky Lovin’

Among the major adulting tasks in life, therein lies the art of filing taxes. Truth be told; I find it unpleasurable, but not as irksome as getting lost three times on my way to find the ultimate “tax guy’s” office this morning.

Yes, I had my GPS on but that device had me going around in circles. I slowed down “many-a-two-lane-roads” aka “hollers” to ask for directions from bystanders who were just as disoriented as I was. With no choice left but to be annoying, I called said tax-guy to help me directions and he kindly did. Three. Different. Times. And yes, that too was embarrassing!

The 3rd time is the charm they say, I finally found the office in plain sight. That certainly was not the most important thing I found today. This little gem of a restaurant was. It is You & Me, Coffee & Tea.

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It reminded me of an antique store a la that-70’s-show-rustic-but-new-age with the decor. Whatever that means to you will fit the description properly too. I got all the shabby chic vintage vibes from this place! Sort of like the place where all the thrift store shoppers from my previous life reunite to eat and play cards and board games.

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The menu variety was enough; I dislike being overwhelmed by food choices and I believe food should be consumed moderately anyways so this was right up my alley. I ordered the Cuban sandwich Р a tasty Kentuckian remix of it and I thoroughly enjoyed that. It was nice and quiet for the first half hour as I sat at the window practicing the relaxing science of people watching.

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It was nice and quiet for the first half hour as I sat next to this cute phone at the window people watching Main St.

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The closest I will ever get to “cowboy” or Western-styled boots¬†

Needless to say – what started off as this woman getting lost this morning led me to this palatable delight. If you are ever in Corbin, Kentucky I will love to take you here. Remember to bloom where you are planted.

Remember to always bloom where you are planted.

Love,
Nina

“Kentucky Loving” is a new segment to my blog where I share my experiences as a Cameroonian lady enjoying life in Southeastern Kentucky.

 

 

An Open Letter To The Confused Anglophone Cameroonian Youth

 

I woke up with a heavy heart for the anglophone youth of Cameroon. I was a first-year student at the University of Buea during one of the first strikes in 2004; you bet I was confused. I’d never been one to fight, so I left town in a taxi to Douala, determined to find another alternative to my first dream of being a doctor because that was not going to work for me. On a day like today when the Cameroonian youth is celebrated, I feel the need to encourage someone whose life or future is threatened by the political¬†gestures that continue to keep them out of school. ¬†Here is an open letter to all those affected by the current condition in our beloved country.

Dear Young People,

Education is important and in an attempt to demonstrate peacefully, the “wiser ones” among us have decided a peaceful strike is a way forward. In this, you may find yourself with nothing to do but first;¬†do not befriend idleness.

To the young men, I pray that you will not be misled or distracted. Drugs & crime can become enticing ways to make a living. Do not fall for the lie, instead harness the strength of your creativity. Great inventions came from men stuck in basements and college dormitories. There are still tons of books off the internet, share and read books that enhance your thought process. Remember that anything that does not align with your original purpose is a distraction. You can teach yourself a new trade or work on a skill or sport. Distractions are meant to deter you from your path. Do not allow your life to go to waste, the noble way to make a living is the one you learned when you were younger РHard work

To the young women, you did well when you decided you wanted to be an influential and productive member in your society. You chose to take the opportunity to educate yourself which was not always available to your mother or grandmother. The strike can leave you feeling shorthanded but remember your life cannot be wasted without your consent. Continue behind the plow, let your hobbies flourish, get involved with sports too, master those innate gifts and above all continue to educate yourself outside the classroom. Do not allow the richer men to distract you with alternatives to your personal success. Make wise decisions young girl, form relationships with mentors and older women who inspire you. Continue to aspire for your version of greatness and if your first dream dies in this process, dream another dream.

Love,

Nina

 

“Youth Day in Cameroon is celebrated annually on February 11. The celebration of the holiday reflects awareness and recognition of youth significance for the country. The first celebration of Youth Day in Cameroon was held in 1962, a year after British Southern Cameroon and French Cameroon unified.” ¬† ¬†source anyday.com

5 Survival Tips For Single People on Valentine’s Day.

Apparently, the themes this month include¬†executive¬†orders &¬†black history ¬†teddy bears, roses, chocolates, cards – yes, cards! Did you even know that after Christmas, the most cards are sold during the “Valentine Season” ?

It is so easy to get caught up in the social media proclamations of affection and romance which have become so easily mistakenly for honest and simple love. This is more likely to happen if you are a single person scrolling down your phone, alone and in your own bed in the middle of the night. Over the years, I have become increasingly comfortable with or without a Valentine. During the seasons when there is no Valentine whether by choice or chance here are a few things that you can do otherwise.

  1. Date Yourself! 
    Yes, that’s¬†right no masturbation necessary. Do something good for yourself with your own resources. Buy yourself a classy gift, book a spa day, ¬†order fresh roses for your bedroom or bathroom. If you are a nerd like me; burn you a good candle and cuddle up with your favorite book. Do whatever allows your inner being to feel the peace of being left alone.
  2. Help Someone Else!
    You don’t need to look too far to find someone who needs some love. My patients tell me how lonely they are all the time! There are several single parents, children and elderly people in your community who need plain filial love. Set aside your desire for erotism and be there in service to your neighbor. Remember it is indeed more of a blessing to give than to receive. Give them the affection which you so selfishly desire or maybe go keep them company that evening or bring them dinner. You may solve your “alone-ness” by being there for someone who needs it more than you do.
  3. Work Harder on your Art or Science!
    Use the time to pick up a shift at work or offer to work for someone who desperately needs the time off for a get away with their currently available sweetheart. It is a double win for you anyways, you will be getting your coins while facilitating someone else’s life. Do I need to remind you that there are numerous hidden blessings in sacrifice?
  4. Ditch the Self-pity Party!
    There is a time for everything under heaven! Keep envy in check. Make an effort to be happy for all the ladies and gents at your office who are receiving gifts this week. Be prepared with positive intentions and words towards them even if you don’t feel like it. Remember that the simple fact that you are in a single season doesn’t¬†make it an indefinite season. Another way to get out of this mental funk is to deter your mind – go for a run to get your endorphins levels up or host a singles part for other aspiring lovers like yourself who have nowhere else to be on the night of Feb 14th.
  5. Have Fun with Life!
    Remember, it is just 24 hours out of the entire year and you should be feeling and giving love all year long anyways. Do not do love a disservice by boxing its meaning up into one miserable night in February. Let your agape be felt by all those whom you meet today and always. Great love is coming your way!

Love,

Nina

How To Thrive Through Confusing Times

Last night, I read a personal email from my immigration attorney advising me against travel outside the US at this time, she expressed concern about uncertainties which may or may not apply to me now but could in the future. ¬†In the last few weeks, I have received information from my family in Cameroon about the disruptions to daily life at home. Some of my cousins have been out of school for several weeks, my mother’s private practice is struggling in the aftermath of the political tensions primarily affecting Anglophones. Internet services are indefinitely suspended in both English-speaking regions of the country dampening communication between citizens and family members in the diaspora.

All these things are limiting, unfair, unjust, threatening, annoying, aggravating or whatever word you may choose to fit my emotions. When we are faced with subtle threats to our existence, it is very human to choose helplessness over hope, anger over grace and to ask why all this is happening?

 

So, in my quiet time that is exactly what I did. I asked God how to live thrive survive cope exist during such confusing times.  For anyone like myself; without legislative power, voting rights or physical presence where I can have an immediate impact on pressing issues that affect my life and family today, here are a few things I believe He deposited in my heart.

  1. ¬†First; Trust in His (God’s )¬†Sovereignty.


    “As for God, His way is blameless.¬†
    The word of the Lord is tested [it is perfect, it is faultless];¬†He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him. ”¬†Psalm 18:30

    Choose to believe that God has a better plan, then give your plans and solutions to Him to lead you in His path. The best way to trust wholly is to realize your limitations but without failing to recognize your authority. The difference being that your authority comes from submission to God’s authority. ¬†He functions with an eternal perspective and has a place for us to offer hope and restore our communities but we need to seek Him to find out how to do it.

  2. Then; Pick Your Battles Wisely.

    ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†‚ÄúI have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.‚ÄĚ John 3:33

    We have to resist the urge to focus on the distractions to our purpose during such times. Prayer, petition, service, encouragement, hope Р are a few things we can offer one another to help through the healing process of many who may equally feel helpless. Contrarily, public arguments and rumination of the facts do not seem to get us closer to a solution but help to fuel anger and strife. So, choose to focus on the ball in your hand and play with that. Choose to run your own race in the best way Godly possible.

As I implement both concepts, I hope to maintain my peace and continue to thrive now and even when the dust settles.

Love,

Nina.

 

5 Practical Ways To Achieve Your Goals for 2017.

There something about a new year that gives us hope of a new beginning. It is amazing how inspiring the sidereal year has become for us. We make decisions during this time and though most do not last, some have been able to change the trajectory of their lives by sticking with the simple choice to experience change. I do not believe in the new year new me bullcrap, but, I do agree that we should all take inventory of our lives on a daily basis and make changes where necessary. What I found difficult in the past was maintaining good habits, you know, that power to do what you desire or willingness to be what who you want to be. These five traits have helped me manifest change in areas where I have sought them the most.

1.Be Strategic

Proverbs 24: 6  MSG
‚Ķ Strategic planning is key to warfare; to win, you need a lot of good counsel.”

Building a strategy is key; it the equivalent to creating a road map. It involves brainstorming on an action plan in a  personal, clear and realistic manner. It is easy to get lost in the big picture, being strategic focuses on the pieces that bring the picture together. Like when I set out to cut my student loans in half in 2016, my strategy was to first create a budget,  then tally what I owed against what I brought in, take inventory of my expenses and make cuts on non-pressing issues. Once I realized that was not enough to meet my monthly pay-off-student-debt-in-two-years target, I had to increase income by working twice as hard than was necessary to meet my plan. I am still doing this today but 12 months in, it is working! I think it worked because the action plan was clear, precise and I made strides to get to where I wanted to be. This changed my goal from a wish to a manifestation in my life.

2. Be Intentional

Before creating an action plan towards any goal, determine what the reward will be. If this reward is pleasing to you, then hold it up in your mind as the end point you want to attain. This will keep you wanting and likely make it easier for you to achieve your goal. After you‚Äôve created your action plan, the next step is to start carrying out the very specific steps you‚Äôve brainstormed on especially when you do not feel like it. Practice makes perfect. Prior to 2016, I participated in group mission trips but never planned and carried out one by myself. With the Lord’s leading I carefully mapped out my solo mission trip to a village in Cameroon last year and that turned out to be the life changing peak experience of my year! I experienced spiritual, personal and professional growth through that trip alone. The same thing happened with the aggressive debt repayment plan.¬†My first few large debt repayments were difficult, I did not want to work any harder than I typically did, sometimes I was even torn between other responsibilities and debt repayment, but I was committed and I am still slaying behind that plow. Deliberate action is a sign of true discipline and maturity, particularly when it involves sacrifice. Trust yourself and stick to your plan even when you meet resistance.

3. Be Accountable

Eccles 4:9
” Two are better than one … For if they fall one will lift up another. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up.”

The 3rd step to getting what you want is to find people who are like-minded and keep accountability with them. When I chose to ‚Äúwork out more in 2016‚ÄĚ, I certainly did not get intense with working out until I found a gym buddy who pushed me and very well near trained me (Go Suzanne!). This was also true when I needed a spiritual accountability partner to pull through a 21-day fast in preparation for the new year in 2016. We were able to keep each other stirred up (Go Yoyo!). As the proverb goes; Iron does indeed sharpen iron. This works with preparing to pass a major exam, ¬†raising godly children, ¬†growing your relationship with God or even making healthier food or lifestyle choices.

Another thing to do is to study the lives of people who are where you want to be, learn about the character traits that got them there, read about them or speak directly with them. Mentorship facilitates your life. If you plan on being an entrepreneur, designer or whatever career you choose to pursue-speak with someone in the field. It is always easier to learn from other people’s mistakes.

4.            Be Visual

Fortunately, we are visual beings and there are several studies in psychology that purport this idea. Until you can see your goal in your mind, only then can you truly manifest it. There are several ways to do this but they all involve writing it down FIRST! Write your goals down! Useful tools can include hosting a vision board party, journaling your ideas and certainly using them as prayer points. Whatever you do, keep that written idea within eyesight. You have to see it to keep the dream alive in your mind.Pray yourself into it, psych yourself into it, speak words of positivity and inspiration over your life, make declarations and affirmations that bring you closer to carrying out your action plan, say them out loud and deliberately, discuss them with your accountability partner, write them down and post them where you can see daily (next to the bathroom mirror).

5.            Be IT

IT = whatever dreams/aspirations/desires/wants. Speak as though you are already living out your goals. ¬†I admire Trent Shelton‚Äôs vigor to inspire millennials and he always says to “Live It, BE IT, breathe IT”. I think this sums it all up. Be what you choose to see in your life. Be what you wrote down in your journal. Stand firm in what you believe, and you should believe in your ability to be the best version of who God created you to be. If you do not have the self-confidence to carry out your purpose it wouldn’t work. ¬†Go forth and make your life great again.¬†

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Love,

Nina