Slow Down

The world is running. I cannot catch up. I cannot hold my breath, sprint, run and watch it as it spirals into a dimension that is.

leaf sunlight sunshine summer grass nature outdoors yard lawn green

Slow down.

The world is running, but will it run out of breath?

I wonder, what world am I talking about? What do I mean by running, because as it stands, I am the one whose feet are in motion. They move faster than I can get my mind to sit still. They run away from…

They run and for a long time, I have endured and lived for the thrill of it. Running, or getting out of a situation because it was the easiest thing to do. Emotions are complicated, feelings can be summoned and then hurt and then what?

Slow down

Listen, laugh, love, live.

Live.

Slow down.

So, here I am, taking a break; staying when all I want to do is call things off and walk away. I am giving myself a chance. I am reminding myself that I too can take a break because there is no fun in running into a wall.

Shadow in the light

There is a part of me that demands an audience. It is a dripping tap in an enclosed space. Each drop summons my conscience to utter words to an unavailable audience.

“It’s like running into a wall every second and I am tired. I will not call or remind him of what he needs to do for his son because I am tired.”

She sank back into the chair and reached out for my hand. I held her hand and waited because a dripping tap will not stop until you fasten it. Sometimes, it will give you the illusion that it has, only to drip again when unfastened.

“How much pain can a person take? Is there a limit to what one endures, where they say okay, no more pain and that’s it?”

I desire to tell her that she will feel the pain but it won’t be an everyday nightmare. She will take care of her son and he will get the best in life. She will also have to deal with unexpected invites from the son’s father because even the most irresponsible people do ask themselves “what if?”

“I changed my phone number because I want to start afresh. If my son ever wants to meet his father, then I will organize a meeting but that’s it.”

I nod and look at the little boy. He’s got his legs in the air and he is waving his hands and drooling as he smiles at me.

His father is a fool. He is one among many but who is to pull his ear and tell him that he is going to regret this? Who can beat some sense into him when he is out with his boys bragging about a son he has never laid eyes on. Or how he says that his baby mama is driving him insane and the guys nod in assent because they only have his version to go by.

It is the ultimate turnaround.

She smiles and wipes away her tears then reaches for the son and breastfeeds him. He is suckling with his feet up in the air. I need such flexibility in my life.

“I don’t know what the future holds but so help me God, my son won’t be a bailout. If he at some point gets his girlfriend pregnant, I will make him take responsibility and even go a step ahead and care for the girl because it is not easy. Sometimes I wonder did his dad really mean to marry me? How can you get your fiancee pregnant and then say ‘I’m out’ when she tells you that she is pregnant?”

There is a part of me that demands an audience and when I close my eyes I can name twenty single mothers I know. I can also name the fathers who spend their time and money on everything but their children and sometimes I too do wonder just how much pain a person can take.

To illuminate a dark night

Life has its moments. Sometimes you are as bright as Venus but you are also enveloped by darkness. There are also some times when a spark comes along and ignites you, and slowly you start to illuminate a dark night.

Have you ever had the feeling that you could suddenly do something that you felt you’d never do?

I am talking about a small tingly feeling like “you’ve always got this” going on in your head.

As I write this I am humbled and in awe of mothers; single, married, engaged, divorced, separated, step-mothers, widows, baby mamas. It is an uphill task bringing forth another being into the world and pouring all the love and attention to them.

I also confer honor to fathers; single, married, divorced, separated, widowers, uncertain, serving time.

A spark’s been lit in me and for some reason I find myself questioning every time I put myself down. It is this bright orange spark that is bound to ignite a fire that I fear I would be unable to put out. I’ve compiled a collection of memories, thoughts, and written to my future daughter,things I’d love her to know. I even wrote a letter to her Dear Aurora but where am I going with this. The feeling that I could actually settle down scares me witless! (Replace the w with sh and you get my drift!)

Is it because I have had too much time on my hands since resigning from my job? Is it because I am writing at a leisurely pace that I can suddenly think of the unorthodox? Or maybe it’s all thanks to Hannah Doyle’s book “The Year of Saying Yes.” I read it this weekend and it’s about this feature writer at a magazine who says that instead of writing new year resolutions of things she would not do, she would start saying ‘yes’ to stuff and hence a dare game begins!

Well, one major thing is that I got accepted into the 20th YALI (Young African Leaders Initiative) cohort this year and I cannot wait to gain some much needed expertise and knowledge in Civic leadership and engagement. I have always wanted to take on a life-long project but for four years I’ve been swayed by responsibilities, bills, wanderlust, yearning for experience and the need to be more confident that I never saw it build up. I am looking forward to a great start, baby steps, just…baby steps!

I was going somewhere with this and it seems as though I have gone past my destination. Does this spark scare me? Does the thought of actually being great and embracing this new feeling scare me? A whole lot! I haven’t even had coffee! Coffee is bae and I haven’t been able to take one sip. There’s this phrase “do what scares you,” and for some reason this is the moment when it would fit a situation.

So, for what it’s worth, now I know how a candle feels as it gives light…and ladies and gentlemen, you have secured front row seats to a freak show!

Have a lovely week!

 

10 things I’m learning this month

I woke up at 9am.

Have you ever read a policy so much so that the first thing you utter when you wake up are policy statements? I stayed up all night working on the policy, drafting ‘what if’ scenarios that would help a Counselor implement the policy or use it in assessing a case. I also got derailed for an hour reading Brooklyn by Colm Toibin.

Image result for brooklyn colm toibin

This week started off on a great tangent for me because I have no room to procrastinate and I’m feeling energetic because most of the things I wanted to do are falling into place. On the other hand I find myself accepting and learning some important life lessons:

  1. It is never to late for an apology. So, I am working on a clean slate, making amends as I press on.
  2. Admitting when I am wrong.
  3. There is nothing wrong with a plain t-shirt. In fact my grey, white and black plain t-shirts collection is growing at an alarming rate.
  4. Make goals. It does not hurt to be clear and honest about what you want and how you’re going to get it.
  5. A drop of kindness never hurt anyone, people are dealing with major stuff and kindness is one way to show that they are awesome no matter what they are going through.
  6. It’s okay to be proud of your ancestry, but make it even better, live up to it. I come from a lineage of some strong women and after I shared this post, I learned that writing has always been somewhere in our family. I am not the only writer or literature buff, we’ve got Professors, Lecturers, Teachers and the works, but it turns out that whenever my Mom brags about my writing, she is not far off because Azenath Odaga was my grandma’s blood cousin. I rolled my eyes at this, but mom sat me down and pulled some old photographs pointing at people, spouting names and saying she was right. “It’s such a pity you never met her, but didn’t you ever ask yourself how come I had all her books?”
  7. When you marry, you do not just marry your spouse but his/her whole family and true to form, it can be a whole lot to handle. So, at the moment, I am sipping my tea and listening to Hillsong’s album Open Heaven/River Wild album and keeping my thoughts to myself. I love two of Hillsong’s albums: Open Heaven/ River Wild and Let there be Light. 🙂Image result for open heaven river wild hillsong
  8. I’m also learning to let go when it comes to keeping in touch with friends. This came about after trying to reach a friend three days in a row. I figured, if she wanted to get in touch she would and if I would still be available then I’d make it happen. It’s not worth the worry or concern.
  9. I learned this from Grumpy. It was his birthday and he made it all about his mom, so when I asked him why, he said, “It may seem like my birthday, but it’s her special day because every year she relives what she went through to get me here.” I’ll keep this in mind when I celebrate my birthday.
  10. The internet never forgets, but it also takes in what you feed it. 4,998 friends on Facebook, 279 likes on my page and I still know that when it gets thick, I have 10 people I can count on and that’s one person for every finger in my writing world!

When it comes to writing, I learned a long time ago that the delete button is the enemy incarnate! So, I covered it up using white masking tape so I do not press it whenever a story doesn’t go my way.

Ten lessons may seem like nothing but admitting that you don’t know it all, is something that I believe learning is all about. Have a great day world!

Are you headed in the right direction?

I should add…”and other questions I’ve been asking myself lately.”

It’s forty six minutes past eight and we’ve just had supper. I prepared spaghetti and I am now looking forward to having a cup of black tea before I sleep. Have you noticed that I tend to specify the time I write these posts? Like here, here and here?

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Okay, well, maybe not so much but I seem to be drawn to time and this is partly due to the fact that my writing hours have changed. It is also largely due to the fact that I underestimated my writing and ability to set a scene that’s closer to home.

Have you ever sat down with friends or family and right when you are having a laugh at something funny one person just asks you some deep stuff?

Hear me out world, it’s been years since my aunts got on my case about getting married. I do get the occasional product launch at functions and church. “Meet my daughter, she’s a great Counselor and did I tell you that she’s a Writer? Yes, we lost Margaret Ogolla, Azenath Odaga and Grace Ogot, but God’s always gracious, we believe He’ll bless the work of her hands.”

“Yes, how’s our son doing? I hope he is well. Tell him to come visit me or call me.”

So, there I was seated on the floor with my back leaning against the front door. It was four in the evening. The muezzin had just summoned Allah’s faithful servants to the Mosque near our home, so that “Allah hu Wakbar” was my cue to get black tea and mandazi. I was getting ready to feast when my friend calls and starts by saying “we need to meet up like now!”

I told her, “it’s four and NASA were to make a statement so there’s no way I am making my way to your place because that means going past Kondele where we both know GSU trucks are parked by the road.”

“It’s quite safe, you should come,” she responded.

“No thanks. I love you but I am in no position to run for my life when I haven’t committed a crime, so tell me, what’s up?”

“You know how things have been with that guy I told you about? Well, let’s just say that I am over it, because I got this great job and it means I’ll be moving to Naks and sitaki drama! It’s just, how do you know you are headed in the right direction?”

I did what I always do when I find myself cornered to provide a solution or to justify someone’s actions. I asked her, “tell me what happened?”

She hang up ten minutes later after our chat and by then my tea had gone cold. I looked out just in time to see a police patrol truck drive past our house. Her question still rang in my mind as I went to heat up my tea, “how do you know you are headed in the right direction?”

In what aspect? Is it life as a whole, a project, a goal? What exactly are we talking about here? I struggled with this and though I’ve often mentioned that I tend to worry, I also do overthink and it wears me down. It wears me down even though I know what it’s doing to me. So, how do I know where I am headed to and if it’s the right way? If it’s a location I use Google Maps or ask for directions until I get there.

If it’s about a goal, I take my time and reflect on what I’ve done and weight the pros and cons to ascertain whether I’ve made progress or not. So, it’s got to be progress. The results tell me if I am headed in the right direction.

I was so pleased with this kind of understanding until something dawned on me, “what if you can’t see results yet you’ve been working hard?” Now, I have to think about that, but here’s the thing how do you tell that you are headed in the right direction? What works for you in relation to this?

 

 

Make or break; safeguarding a relationship

It is 8:15pm as I write this. I had tea and a chapati for supper then took a motorbike to Nakumatt where I bought a 250ml strawberry yoghurt. I bet you don’t really need to know that, but I am prone to digress, for it takes a while for a story to develop. 

This will be my last night in Bungoma and I am not looking forward to sleeping early because last night all I heard was the sound of someone snoring like a truck.

I sat up in bed from 1:44am to 3:45am reading Americanah by Chimamanda Adichie. The snoring ceased at 4:20am and by then I could not go back to sleep.

What’s more important in a relationship? 

A lady asked me this particular question at the restaurant where I was having my tea for supper. She’d joined her friend, someone called Milly, yes, she said “Milly with a y sio e!” They were sharing about a friend who seemed to make wrong decisions thinking she was doing the right thing. This friend was struggling to save the trust they’d built with a certain guy and her actions seemed to generate the unexpected results.

They turned to me, “what do you think? Like, don’t you think she should forget him, I mean if you don’t trust each other why stay together?”

“No, but why would you walk away without sorting out your problems, Milly,imagine leaving a guy and constantly wondering why things went wrong, si utarudi kwa ex yako kila time,” added Fannie. They went on for a while as I stuffed my face with chapati hoping for a clear exit because they did not need my opinion.

It is true that when a couple openly express their views and emotions, it fosters an understanding that with time builds on trust. On the other hand I have seen couples who in their need to be open and be true, drift apart. It’s not that they did not love and cherish one another, but in their communication, they managed to push their partner away rather than draw them closer.

When such situations arise, three things could happen and if I could dig into some psych understanding, these are; fight, flight, freeze. Let’s call them the 3 F’s.

The disconnect in how they communicate and express themselves can lead to a fight, or it can make one to opt out of the relationship either emotionally or physically and finally it can stagnate the relationship, where the couple cannot grow psychologically or emotionally and it’s a constant case of ‘it’s complicated.’

Milly and Frannie went on debating on who was right and which action was best so much so that they did not see me make an exit. If they did then they did not mind my absence as much as they minded my presence, but between you and I, the friend they were talking about was Fannie. 

So, Fannie, if you are reading this, I hope I spelled your nickname as it should be. I also hope that you look within to understand your actions, were they initiated as reactions or to support what you wanted? I am no preacher of love. I however love writing and reading romance novels. I am also not a guru, if I were, I’d be having a show on “Love,here’s what I did” on TV. All I know as I type this is that inasmuch as we speak the truth, and strive for openness in any relationship, there’s also the need to safeguard trust in how we pay attention and focus on how we express ourselves and the effect it has on the other person.

A friend was once given the silent treatment for six months because he told his expectant wife “unakula nyingi sana.” She said, her decision had nothing to do with hormones but when he told her that she almost went to the kitchen gorged the baby out of her womb and inserted into his stomach. She felt as though she was the only one who was involved in conception. 

Now that I think about it, I reckon she might have thrown everything at him had her hormones been involved, but hormones or not Fannie, words can slice and sink deeper than claws. 

To be human

people man sitting alone sad hoodie cap trees plant outdoor nature
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We have all hurt someone tremendously, whether by intent or accident.

We have all loved someone tremendously, whether by intent or accident.

It is an intrinsic human trait, and a deep responsibility, I think, to be an organ and a blade.

But, learning to forgive ourselves and others, because we have not chosen wisely is what makes us most human.

We make horrible mistakes, it’s how we learn and it is inevitable.

Nayyirah Waheed

Lessons I have learned in 2016

I remember making many plans and working on resolutions. It was going to be the year in which I published more books and had more visibility as an Author.

However, you know that life is what happens when you plan and something else occurs, right? So, when you ask me what have I learned this year? I’ll probably write a book about it, but here are some of the things I learned and I am still learning:

  • I am learning to always leave loved ones with loving words, to always get that hug, kiss or blessing because it might be the last time I see them.
  • I am learning that you can do something in the spur of the moment that will scar you for life.
  • I am learning that there is more to life than followers, like, mentions, retweets, reposts, comments and hashtags.
  • I am learning that ‘I want to marry you,’ is a declaration and not a proposal. It is more an intention and not an act. There is no rush to marry and it does not make me less of a woman if I am single and without a child at my age.
  • I am learning that money is a lousy way of keeping score. Success is not the number of cars, houses, clothes, bags, or bank notes someone has. It is the strong and positive relationships one has and sustains. God first and the others will follow.
  • I am learning that having money is not as cool as I thought it was. Money can buy houses but not homes. It can buy vacations but not peace of mind. And when you die, your family will still fundraise in order to bury you.
  • I am learning that attitude matters a lot, a good attitude can always get me out of situations I cannot control.
  • I am learning that there is no such thing as too much coffee and chocolate cake.
  • I am learning that ‘thank you’ is as important and valuable as ‘hello, how are you?’
  • I am learning that I am not just black, I am dark, bold and beautiful and it transcends what other people say of me.
  • I am learning that a pen+notebook and some alone time between the hours of (7-8am) and (7-9pm) helps advance my writing.