Of listless weeks and Unexpected Wins

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When I awoke to 2018 all I wanted was to go back to sleep. You see, I liked a boy and taking things to the next level seemed so promising with a small exception—within the past weeks it suddenly felt like I didn’t know him anymore. Maybe I never did. The whole episode left me in a bad emotional state that I ended up telling myself, whenever someone asked about my annual plans, that I’d get to it before the month runs out. I never did. 

February should have been better. I was with my girls and having fun but things went south so fast. I got robbed in a public place. Devastated doesn’t begin to explain how I felt. My brain wasn’t processing as fast as I’d like and the missing bag contained my phone, WiFi, ATM cards. I jumped into damage control mode, calling for accounts freeze. Then I sat there and stared into space, while my girls threatened hell, mentally taking stock of lost items. That’s when it hit me. If you ever keep a little notepad with you and a pen for ‘brilliant’ random ideas, then you know how important those are. I cried and wished I’d get that little book back. Just it. My words are like an extension of myself—my mind, and I felt so violated. How would I get it back? What if the thief had no idea what it was and threw it into the trash? I wrote to the company and got tossed around. I went to the police and learned how unhelpful they could be. I sought closure online by writing my story.

Finally, I was ready to let it go. I replaced my lost items and felt better. A minor setback wouldn’t put my life on hold. I was on a roll to the future. Or maybe I wasn’t.

In the next few months I understood what it meant to be frustrated, taken for granted and hopelessly depressed. Progress wasn’t a word I knew existed. I turned to God. I met new people—some who saw my February debacle online and broke protocols for me. During the wedding of an online friend I met some of the most amazing people, got added to a group where I felt out-of-place for a while, left and came back again because I never run away. Not entirely.

Amazon proved to be a pain in the ass. I couldn’t place an order for a laptop I needed because they kept declining my debit card for reasons I didn’t understand. Multiple mails, faxes and complaints later and I gave up on them. It sucks to come from a blacklisted country where the actions of a few determines the fate of many hardworking, honest people. Eventually, I had to use a third-party logistic company that misrepresented themselves, took too long to deliver and messed up part of my order. On the plus side (because positive vibes are shooting fireworks off my fingers) I learned how incredibly polite and patient I am. It became apparent I’d rather suffer for incompetence than vent my frustration on sales agents. 

This was meant to be a post about nasty weeks and gratefulness that it’s over, but writing this has forced me to really think about my experience in details by reliving it. In retrospect it wasn’t all bad. I met new people who proved to be supportive; people who responded to a whatsapp status cry for help. I’m thankful for these.

My fellowship team made our daily devotional in print. I mean we wrote a book and self-published! That’s big. Heck, it’s huge. I have over a hundred copies in my house for distribution and when I pause to think that I wrote at least twenty daily scripture readings for young people, some drawing from my life experience, it makes me proud. Like, hey you over there, we wrote a book!

You know, it’s fine to not have it together. Sometimes life hands you sour grapes and you can’t get a decent juice out of it even with sweeteners. It’s all right to fall apart and rant. A new friend and potential business partner died and I mourned for weeks. Weeks that managed to complicate my life further with stress at work, more man drama and partial blindness. For real, I couldn’t see for some days from staring at a computer screen.

My aim isn’t to inspire anyone here. For the most part, this is more like a rant than anything I’ve posted on this blog. I awoke this year without a plan, with hurt and confusion. I woke up today, the 31st, with a song in my head. I’m listening to the same song as I write this. It’s been a terrible year with so many downside, enough to drown whatever wins existed within.

But, right now, I’m forced to confront my wins. I’m starting a company doing what I love. Somehow in my frustration I got some clarity of everything wrong with my world and all I want to do is fix it. Opportunities abound and I’m grabbing them as they come. I’m going to school again. I met someone who has been so amazing I feel like it’s a dream. Old relationships that ended without notice have been rekindled.

I found my voice again. In a time when it seemed like I was failing, I learned what it meant to be me. I am smart and beautiful and inspire people. Excessive modesty has been the hallmark of my existence for so long. In the last few weeks I’ve sat in panels, questioned and asked how I’m so confident that I talk like someone older than my age. I smile, but what I truly want to say to them is I have lived. I sense more than most; I feel more than most; I question more than most; I experience the world differently. And that’s a good thing. I know I will change the world and my words, heart and charisma will be the tools I use.

This new journey of rediscovery is something I want to share with so many people. I’m taking a chance and placing a bet on myself. I’m refusing to let other people’s fear define me because in a moment of clarity I opened my bible and saw this: If you are not firm in faith, then you’re not firm at all and I want to stand for and believe in something. I want to hold on to that belief with tenacity. So, this is me and whatever comes next, I’m standing and saying, ‘Go girl, you’ve got this.’

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Happiness Through The Hour-Glass

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If you had asked me what happiness meant a decade ago, my answer would have read: it’s finally coming home to good food and a warm bed. You see, I was in a boarding school that availed me only the basic luxuries—as basic as they could get. When I posed the same question to a group of friends, answers differed with each person defining happiness as best he could, given the prevailing circumstances of their lives.

I used to think this was a one-definition-fits-all thing; that you could tell people what should give them lasting happiness, and that the sum of one’s feeling would be their dreams, both short and long-term, fulfilled. I may have been wrong.

It explains why a person living in luxury would consider suicide when they can afford everything they ever wanted. Why a mother would kill her own baby if children are God’s gift to man. Why certain people suffer spousal abuse, if the call to marriage is the highest union that two people can find. Why privileged children run away from home, when there are less privileged that would die to have just a bit of their part. Or why some go into crime even when provided for by the State. The paradox is that people want happiness but do not understand why their desires, now fulfilled, leave them feeling hollow still.

The much I’ve come to know is that our personal and collective definition of happiness changes the longer the sands pass though the hour-glass. It was Heraclitus who said that no man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he is not the same man. If human character was subject to time and experience, one’s perception of happiness is also subject to the same prevailing influence.

It brings some perspective into this ever elusive definition. In fact I am willing to bet that if I threw open the same question, obvious as the answer(s) may seem, it will take some thoughts to offer one that pleases you.

So I asked myself again: what does happiness mean to me?

Over time it has been so many things, but the passage of time has helped to refine my perception. The more sand has escaped from the hour-glass of my life, the clearer I see through it. Whereas happiness used to mean getting as much as I could within the shortest possible interval; now it is knowing that happiness is not in achievement itself, but in the journey between how soon I want it and when I eventually get it.

Intricate

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It took staring at a leafless tree for days and struggling to still my hands from reaching for a camera to come to this; to realize how monotonous life is when we allow it. Wake up. Eat. Work. Sleep. And perhaps pull out our cameras and take a shot ever so often. It’s not difficult to see how one can remain absolutely clueless about the world and the delicate beauty it harbors.

Few days ago I conversed with a friend. We talked about the special things that make us tick—mine were books and photography—and then about joy, sadness and emotions. At the time I felt what it could be like to exist in a space without experiencing it. It’s a lot like catching a nice view and jumping in just in time to take a picture, before the moment passes. That is the power of photography: the ability to freeze time, as good as elemental power can get for us, until you take a closer look at your picture and a whole new wonder explodes—like that Dragonfly. I always thought it ordinary till I took note of the light play on its wings.

“My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.”  Psalm 139:15

I think of humans like that, artistically formed. We are the wonders of creation with our diverse characters and emotions. There are seasons to life, every emotion carefully woven in the fabric of time. Our feelings of joy and sadness are each a part of who we are, so that we are a bit more appreciative of the moments in our lives. To know that our highs and lows are not just symbols of our strengths and failures; they are also testament to the intricacy of the human soul. It’s great to know that we are alike and yet so different, and it will always be a wonder plying one road to discover the depths of a single being; to move past this monotony and experience life, not exist in it.

I learned a good photographer is one able to tell a story with a picture and infuse his essence into the frame. I’m not that kind of hobbyist yet, but I hope to get there someday. Likewise I believe this also forms the basis of our humanity: our ability to see past the visible darkness and confidently step into the lives of others. I’m not that kind of human either, but hope to find the courage someday to hear your stories.

A Long Way Home

I watch the bus make its last turn and come to a halt. The ride may have been a long uncomfortable one, but the early flutters of hope has my heart thumping in anticipation. The streets are full of people—old and young alike; some heaving bags out of boots, welcoming their loved ones with warm hugs; others chatting as they walk past. Rows of shops now replace a long line of familiar trees, sporting pepper soup restaurants with the promise of assorted meat, Continue reading

Are You An Old Soul? (On Reincarnation And Spirituality)

It’s a common belief in this part of the world—Africa—and certain religious circles—Hinduism and Buddhism—that the souls of loved ones who pass away reincarnate i.e. are reborn into this word. As a Christian, I am hard-pressed to disbelieve this, but some things happen that make me rethink my position. Continue reading

Have I Been Living A Lie?

This might sound weird considering the obvious, but I just discovered I’m a girl. Not just any girl, a girly- girl and that’s shocking.

It all began the day I noticed my brother’s toothbrush looked like it had been crushed by a truck, and offered him a spare. In disgust he said, “eww how do you expect me to use a pink toothbrush?” Continue reading