Letter to my little one

Dear baby,

I don’t know if I’ll ever stop calling you that. I know you just moved past toddler stage but it will be a long time before I get over all the transitions.

On this day, 4 years ago, I had you.I want you to know, and always remember that it was one of the best decisions of my life. I didn’t think I was ready and many times I still feel the same, but over time, I have realised there is almost no such thing as ‘ready.’ You were not an ordinary baby, in fact, you were anything but ordinary. Your star began to shine very early and I constantly marvel at the phenomenon that you are. One day you were crawling, the next you were running and then went back to walking; I have never been quite able to keep up.

I love it when you giggle, even better when you laugh. I am sad when I see your tears, I never knew that love could sometimes hurt so bad or make you so happy you feel like you’re going to explode. Anything that can harm you, I want to protect you from, but I am learning that somethings you just need to feel on your own, and I shall not always be able to shield you. You challenge me in ways I can’t explain and keep me on my toes like no one else ever has. By now you know I love you with all that I am, but I will say it again anyway, I love you.

Our journey has been blessed, as I am sure you know, by God and the people around us. Everyone has come around to help me raise you, friends, family and strangers alike. You found favour and because of that, I can sleep soundly knowing you will always have someone. It wasn’t always like that, many people asked me to abandon you, some still do. I don’t get mad at them so much anymore.They don’t see what I see in you, they don’t understand what we have been through. I hope to teach you many things my love, but one of them is that you should not always listen to the crowd just because it’s loud. Most of your grandest joys will come from decisions you made because you felt right, not because everyone was happy with them.

Do you remember those long months,almost two years ago, when we couldn’t sleep, when we felt like the world was coming to an end? My heart ached physically, I could have sworn it was going to jump out of my body. I didn’t want to blame you for my pain and I certainly couldn’t bear to give up on you. I did not want you to see what having you had done to me but the piercing pain often blinded me to all the joy that you brought me. We made it somehow; that is one of the reasons I am certain that God ordained you for me. We have stumbled and fallen so many times since but because of that gut wrenching experience, we were able to learn to celebrate our scars and all the battles they represent. I want you to know, how sorry I am, from the bottom of my heart, for the times that I have looked the other way, for the moments when I was too weak to fight back. I am a work in progress but I am glad that we have experienced all of it together. In future, I know you will remind me that we are more than conquerors, whenever I forget.

I am now just a few years shy of the big 30 and it is as scary as it is exciting. We started out young, I could never have imagined the responsibility that came with the decision I made but time has flown by so fast and I must admit, you continue to surprise me. Do you know how many times I have been asked when I will get you a little sister or brother? Some people are subtle but most (especially elders) are blunt with no remorse. I often have a comeback, but sometimes I just let them be, you know? I am sure by now you know that your mommy can be stubborn and you have taken after her in some ways. You also know that we serve a faithful God and his timing is always perfect. As the years go by, I think about it, more; our family and what it shall look like, how far you will be when the next angel comes into our lives and whether or not the many helping hands that raised you will groom you into adulthood. These thoughts do keep me up at night once in a while, but thankfully, when my human self has over analysed that which it has no control over,it finally gives in to HE who is omniscient who’ll certainly take care of things.

Today marks the continuation of a journey we began 4 years ago during this beautiful season of lent. You have taught me so much! I am stronger and wiser,happier and more fulfilled than I ever imagined. Who knows where I would be without you?

Thank you for your patience and resilience, for your vulnerability and strength, for the chances you took and the dreams you allowed us to chase; Thank you for bringing people together from far and wide, and giving them a chance to give whatever they could offer.Thank you for being flexible, for surviving even when you had nothing and somehow managing to blossom against all odds. You are truly a miracle!

I hope that I have been as kind to you, as you have to me. I pray that I will not let you down and that our fire will continue to burn bright through every storm that comes our way. Years from now when all that we have gone through is a memory, may you look back with a smile, knowing everything I did, every experience, was a reflection of love and all the emotions it comes with.

I haven’t figured out how to commemorate today and I may not even do anything significant to the untrained eye, but in my heart and soul, I celebrate you everyday and look forward to the rest of our lives together.May God continue to be at the centre of your life, and may you always look to him.

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With love from the one whom you knew first, the one who will choose you every time,

me.

Xx

 

Home is where the heart is

Do you really know what your brother/sister/uncle/aunt (insert other relatives) does for kyeyo in ‘outside countries?’

Have you ever asked or are you content with simply receiving the fashionable clothes and turning to them each time money is ‘scarce?’ I have always had great admiration for people who leave their home country and start a completely new life with meagre  resources. I am even more awed by their resilience, accepting that despite being away from their loved ones for a long periods of time, they shall be in better position to provide for them. It is a difficult decision to reach given what you have to sacrifice. Lately, I have heard many stories of people in these situations and while I feel like I’d find it difficult to ‘survive,’ I also know that desperate situations call for desperate measures. Sometimes. you just have to learn on the job.

Linda will soon mark two months since she left home. Everything has changed. Everything has remained the same. She has experienced all the ways life can humble one and learnt how to deal with the agony that distance can sometimes turn into. Birthday parties have been ‘attended’ on skype and whatsapp, new jobs and promotions have been celebrated with an array of emoticonsshe has only been able to commiserate over the phone with loved ones who are mourning and in a couple of weeks shall miss a wedding where she was meant to be a maid of honour. She will not be able to hold Juliet’s hand as her momma undergoes surgery next week and there are many more moments that will sail by as she watches on, helpless. An  ‘adulting manual’ would probably have a chapter on this. Any writers ready to embark on this project?

While being away from everything one knows and loves can be difficult, it also presents so many opportunities. Linda decided to create new moments. On Tuesday night, at exactly midnight,her skype showed it was Jacob’s birthday exactly midnight. She made a mental note to talk to the other scholars about doing something to celebrate the day. The next day, while at the library, when she mentioned it to Milly, she found out the day before had been Norah’s birthday too. The more the merrier, she thought. She only had a few hours to plan a small do. The easiest, most practical thing would be to purchase a cake and have them cut it. When she mentioned it to Nadia, she was quite astounded by the response. “There are cakes at the supermarket at 2 pounds, which can be heated in the microwave then shared.” Quick calculation, approximately Ugx 10,000, for a birthday cake? Linda thought out loud before she could catch herself, “I’d definitely not want a microwave cake on my birthday so I shall not buy one.”  Nadia quickly remarked that if she wanted expensive things it was up to her. Linda had already decided she would not ask any of the group members to contribute as it’d prolong the simple process but this moment reaffirmed her resolve. She found a restaurant and luckily they had a chocolate cake that already had the words ‘Happy birthday.’ She had about 4 hours to get everyone together and ensure they kept the little secret. As you can guess, it was dramatic. If it is difficult to get friends together, imagine how much harder it is for near strangers. From people showing up late, to the the ‘guests of honour‘ failing to fall for the lies while everyone hid in a dark room waiting to scream ‘surprise!’ It was a pretty funny experience. Eventually it worked. Jacob and Norah couldn’t have been more clueless! Vanessa carried some drinks and it all made for a nice little treat.

Owing to the fact that there is a difficult, yet important assignment that they all have to hand in soon, there was a shadow over everyone’s head. Sadly, this shadow was spoken about for longer than Linda would have liked. During the toast, Lillian mentioned the assignment more times than celebrating life or happiness which were essentially the ingredients for the little do in the first place. Linda decided it was probably her who was ‘unserious’ enough to put this time out above all else. Nonetheless, everyone was quite pleased as they had not met in one place since their first week in London. Before long, they were asking Linda to organise more meet ups and tours for the whole group. She laughed at herself later that night when she reflected upon the habits she had carried with her all the way to her ‘current home.’

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While Norah and Jacob were elated and couldn’t stop thanking her for the surprise , Linda knew her own joy was up there with theirs.

 

I know who I am

For the past couple of weeks, I have been waking up with different songs in my head,constantly; anything from the 90’s to an old hymn. I usually find myself singing or humming for the rest of the day and when my brain is really in overdrive, I question the lyrics word for word. *Do not try this at home*

Today, I started by humming “I know who I am” and it kept ringing in my head. I decided not to give up an opportunity to get up and wiggle in the name of the Lord so I played it on loud speaker and got up to shake it off. It felt good, no it felt great!

How powerful are these words though?!

We are a chosen generation
Called forth to show His excellence
All I require for life, God has given me
And I know who I am

I know who God says I am
What He says I am
Where He says I’m at
I know who I am

I’m walking in power,
I’m walking miracles
I live a life of favor,
‘Cause I know who I am

Oh oh oh, oh oh oh
I know who I am

I am holy, I am righteous oh…
I am so rich, I am beautiful

I’m walking in power,
I’m walking miracles
I live a life of favour,
‘Cause I know who I am

Take a look at me, I’m a wonder
It doesn’t matter what you see now
Can you see His glory?
‘Cause I know who I am

Oh oh oh, oh oh oh
I know who I am

Did you believe them as you read/sang? I know a thing or two about feeling the exact opposite of what the song is telling us to do. What if you don’t know who you are? What if you don’t think you are such a wonder, who is beautiful and living a life of favour? Well, the truth is you are and that you don’t believe it is what we need to work on:)
Sometimes you need to convince your brain/ heart even when it is difficult. I feel like this is the only thing I have been trying to do ALL year <not melodramatic at all,yes? :p> When I take a break from doing it in my life, I try to ‘infect’ the next victim. I really do believe those ‘cliches’ about finding happiness from within, teaching yourself to be positive *etc* can’t all possibly be wrong. We take what is applicable and leave the rest, oui?
I certainly feel pumped up after singing such a positive song or reflecting on a positive message. I don’t know what works for you but if it is, sticky notes on your wall, computer, wall paper, videos or even hanging around positive people, do it, whatever it takes. You owe yourself at least one smile a day (100 would be great too!)
A few things happened to me in this regard, yesterday that I thought I’d share.
First, I received a call from a friend who was reeking of positive vibes. Luckily, she called in the morning so it set the pace. The more we spoke, the happier I felt.
After the call, I decided to watch one TED talk before going on about my day. The one message I can’t get out of my head is “Don’t fake it till you make it, fake it till you become it.” I urge you to watch this for further context. It explains how our body language can shape who we are. I actually found myself subconsciously practicing it. What surprised me even more, was that a couple of hours later, I was faced with a potentially stressful situation together with a friend. We were already dealing with much more pressure so I asked her to walk away with me, and we did. A few minutes later she remarked ” I would still be panicking if you had not been here.”  I smiled. A cocktail of  interrelated events had unfolded for this result.
 Whether you don’t know ‘who you are,’ or you can’t figure out how to get to point B; ‘hoping for the best’ is not a strategy, allow yourself to take little steps even if it is just steps to acceptance/ dealing with the situation and not necessarily solving it completely. Love yourself enough to give yourself time. Probably a tad simplistic but like I said, whatever it takes.

P.s: Dancing helps too so if you can sneak a few minutes of it in, just dance!
Heeeeey Macarena, AAAhAA! 😀
macarena

Blueberry cupcake

It is one of those weekends that doesn’t seem like one. It is quiet and the air is heavy. Today’s weather is actually not bad, Linda took a walk without a shawl, gloves or hat and it was okay. Still, something just doesn’t feel right.

It’s been like this since Wednesday evening. After a fascinating lecture led by a charismatic woman, Linda was surprised to get to her residence with a sudden wave of gloom. What had changed?

Do you ever get that feeling like something bad is about to happen and you don’t know what it is but the pressure is so strong? That’s what she felt. She thought it could have been because elections were the next day back in Uganda, but she could not confirm it. Instead, she prayed and went to bed earlier than usual.

She started to regret her decision to get off social media as the days went by, she needed to know what was going on. Linda had gone to church at the beginning of lent after she resolved to get onto social media only once a week. She’d thought she would check on a day with no activity, preferably a weekend to make her intention more ‘valid.’ However, something happened that she just couldn’t explain.  By the time she got home, the new plan was to go all out. As election week began, the urge grew stronger. It did not help that her classmates were making reference to different online activity. Her class even had references on twitter but she chose to stick to her decision, despite the temptation.

Yesterday’s class introduced the concept of posthumanism that was interlinked with human’s co-existence with technology. Some students admitted they could not live without their phones or social media and she could only grin, she still had over a month to go.  Since she had began this phase, her journal got more pages filled and the mind worked in overtime.  After realising one of the things she missed the most was Humans of New York,’ it hit her, albeit late, that besides just facebook, there was a website she could follow! That would be a good distraction from all the worry she was desperately trying to fight.

You know what else helps? Cake! After a few errands this morning, Linda chanced upon a cupcake stall. There were at least 50 flavours to choose from. That should be a good thing, except she simply stood helplessly unable to make up her mind. Finally, she settled for a blueberry cupcake. Unlike most Londoners who have no qualms about walking while eating, anywhere and everywhere, she saved her treat for when she got back to the room.

A cup of caramel flavoured tea was poured and then it was time to devour the cupcake. It is true what they say about good things coming in the smallest packages because Linda’s only trouble with it was that it ‘disappeared’ too fast.

bluebery cup cake

Perhaps, like Linda, you are in some sort of turmoil, mind, body or soul, maybe even, all the above. Find a little something to do just for you or someone else. If it is the only smile that you can afford, that’s better than none at all.

The other side

It is less than 24 hours to this year’s Presidential election in Uganda. At the last one, Linda, her mom and the entire household were up early to make the short trek to the polling station. The queues were long, the air was dry and the mood vibrant. It was like a meet up of old school mates. When the process delayed, everyone grumbled in unison and if someone cracked a joke, it was sent around in ‘Chinese whisper’ fashion until it reached the last person, who laughed last (and best?)

This time round, Linda has accepted her fate, she will have to get News 10th hand and follow updates online. Just a day ago, there were in the middle of a lecture when her Ugandan classmate tapped her and asked “Have you heard there’s tear gas in Kampala?” It would be the subject of their discussion for the rest of the afternoon during their break. It is just so difficult to helplessly look on in any situation, right? Jacob reflected on Kenya’s 2007 election violence which he witnessed and they all agreed to be positive about the process and outcome.

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Google image

When you are part of a system, and wish to complain or applaud it, first you must do everything in your power to participate. If it costs you something, even better.Linda will be praying for peace as she watches from the other side.

“Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.”

Long distance

“Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.”

For as long as Linda can remember, valentine’s day, as an adult, always meant buying a bouquet of flowers for her momma and every other routine remaining pretty much the same. It seems like when she started having some pocket change and knew how much her mother adored flowers, she found excuses to purchase them despite constant attacks of “Why do you waste your money?” Waste? Please. Waste is when you buy an expensive pair of heels that you only wear once and wince in pain the entire day. Making someone else smile has never been a waste.

When a suitor or two chose to surprise her with a bouquet on D-day ,it was the same story, with an edited cast. Linda took the flowers home and ‘enjoyed’ them with her momma. Everyone was happy. Valentine’s day has always been just that, and nothing else.

For some people, it is just another day; for others ‘just another day’ is code for “I really hope you surprise me” and I guess a few succumb to pressure, real or imagined. Where do you lie?

This year, with the help of a good friend and a reliable internet connection, the tradition did not have to end simply because she is thousands of miles away. Flowers had already been delivered by a hard working elf and all that was left was a catch up session. Linda got up, got dressed and prepared for a skype date with her momma.

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The restaurants have valentine’s day offers and the shops are decked in red with a few sales but other than that, it will, indeed be, just another Sunday in London. Not for her though, she got to see a couple of her favourite girls and share in a great dose of love.

P.s: I am tempted not to tag #UGBlogweek because the only place I can actually write daily is my journal, but hey..even if we end up with 2/7; it will be better than none.

So……
#UgBlogWeek, Day 1.

 

Have a good one.

Out of sight,out of mind-Nope!

Midnight chat with the birthday girl,Anna, check. Assignment check-ish, to be completed during holier hours. A few plans on what the next day would look like and then  Linda hit the sack.

The next morning she decided not to attend one of the optional classes she had signed up for, to concentrate on her other modules. Staying at the residence often provided on and off distractions like imaginary hunger, loud music and conversations from neighbouring rooms but on a quiet day, it was as good as the library (with a bed)

Afternoon came and just after she had settled down for the next session, Linda heard a knock at her door. It was quite loud and she wondered who could be on the other side. Lo and behold, in front of her stood a tall handsome gentleman and he came bearing gifts! She looked down and noticed he was carrying flowers. Surely this was a mistake, who in the world would be sending her flowers at her doorstep in her little haven away from everything. He confirmed that they were indeed hers and the little card checked out with the exact name and address. When she finally got over her initial shock, she eagerly opened up the card. “Thinking of you as we celebrate my birthday :)” was the lone statement that stood proud on the cream coloured card. Whaaatt?! She had to hold back tears as she hastily dialled Anna’s number. Anna’s first question was “Has the boda guy arrived?” A few weeks earlier she’d asked for Linda’s address under the pretext of sending a ‘boda guy’ to visit. They had a conversation that was mainly filled with ooohhs and ahhhs and so many questions. Needless to say, Linda’s day had been made, probably her month too.

Flower station

Flower station

Now, whom to share the good news with. She looked around and the empty room suggested she’d have to hold that thought. She decided whoever would ask “How are you?” would be bombarded with “I am fantastic, I received flowers today.” ‘Too much?,’ she wondered. Jeff would be the first victim . When he returned from class, he inquired why she had not attended. She explained her reasons and then skillfully wove her surprise into the tale.

Jeff: No wonder you didn’t want to ruin your day with class. Valentine’s came early?

Linda: No, it was my friend’s way of keeping me involved in the birthday celebrations across the miles.

Jeff: Huh? Not your birthday, not valentines? Friend’s birthday and they send you flowers for kicks?

Linda: Now you understand I am not being childish when I tell you I miss home? I have amazing people in my life who bring out the best in me.

Jeff: Evidently. Can I be your friend?

Linda: *Laughs* Send an application for vetting.

Luckily for her, Grace also dropped by to visit and she got to share with someone who ‘understands’ as they gushed about how beautiful the flowers were, not to mention the gesture. Win.

This thoughtfulness says a lot about Anna, someone who would go the extra mile to make another feel special on a day when she should be the one receiving all the love and attention. The whole exercise can’t have been easy and yet she did it so effortlessly. Don’t you just feel a sudden surge of warmth in your heart? I know, I do.

Allow me to steal Linda’s moment for a bit as I try to add some ‘notes’ to this beautiful melody. I remember a couple of years ago when I did something for mum’s birthday and she shared her joy excitedly with a relative. The relative wasn’t as enthusiastic as she hoped. Her response was “But Esther can exaggerate her love.” When mum told me, I wasn’t offended at all, I took it as a compliment. Why not exaggerate my love towards she that taught me to love?!
I guess you can see where I am going with this, yes?

Go forth and exaggerate your love! I mean, we have only one life to live, why not spend it loving?

P.s: I hadn’t even thought of this valentine’s day train at all but if anyone asks, I am living my life vicariously through Linda;we must ‘tie’ on good things!

Love away!

Xx