Koona dance

This might be the shortest blog post I ever write but even as I type, I am reeling over the content 😀

It is no secret that I go gaga over great music, even better if the beat makes my knees weak and electrifies my system. These songs don’t come very often but when they do *insert those emoticons, you know them*
Anyway, when Ritah recommended I listen to this song, I did not know what to expect. However, I had a good idea because *screams* Sauti Sol!
I shall not say much more, watch the video and then we can discuss our own dance version, yes?

 

 

Watch till the end!

Happy Friday!I know mine is 🙂

Leero weekendi!

 

Xx

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

War room

I had it on my to do list to watch the movie ‘War room’ but the opportunity did not present itself until last night. I am glad it did because I have an uncanny talent that leads me to watch movies several months or even years after their release *SOS*

From the on-set, you can tell that it did not cost an arm and leg to shoot this movie. The actors were unknown to me, which was both a good an bad thing. Good because you get to discover new talent and bad because there are scenes in which I had someone in my mind who I thought could have given a stronger performance. Nonetheless, the message was brought safely home and that is the most important part.
P.S If you have watched Courageous or Fireproof, the brothers behind it; Stephen and Alex Kendrick produced War room. If you haven’t, I recommend them 🙂

Without giving away too much; In the movie, Elizabeth is married to Tony and they have one daughter, Danielle. Elizabeth is unhappy in her marriage mainly because her husband does not listen to her, verbally abuses her, is drawn to other women and has no time for her or their daughter. When Elizabeth meets an elderly lady, Clara during her rounds as a realtor, she is introduced to ‘The war room.’ This room is a small room that was once a closet but Clara turned into a prayer room to pray for her husband and family. Here, she spends quiet time with the Lord and articulates her needs while crying out to him.  She tries to encourage Elizabeth to do the same. Elizabeth is adamant at the beginning but later submits. It is when she (Elizabeth) is fully immersed in faith and belief in the power of prayer that her life begins to turn around.

If you are a Christian or a spiritual person watching this movie, it presents moments of conviction, learning and reflection among other things. If you are agnostic or even an atheist, there will probably be moments when you’ll roll your eyes till you can see your brain. Hopefully though, after the eye roll, you can appreciate one or two messages therein.

On a personal level, I could relate to this movie in many ways. I actually remember a time a few years ago when the phrase ‘I’ll pray for you’ sometimes rubbed me the wrong way. It is not that I did not believe in the power of prayer, it is that I wanted it to be backed by some tangible support. If hypothetically I told someone we are trying to raise money for a loved one who needed an urgent operation. I expected them to either offer support, ideas, ask me how they could help or at the very least offer to/spread the word. If there first reaction was ‘I’ll pray for you,’ I felt cheated for lack of a better word. However, I have come to realise that if it the prayer is more than just a promise, if someone is actually going out of their way to pray for you, prayer does indeed change things. Fast forward to the ‘current me,’ I am now the one ‘stressing’ people with my I’ll pray for you. I am very much still an advocate of backing prayer with action. After all, faith without actions is dead. So, for example, while I pray for my unemployed friends to get job, I shall also send them links for jobs, offer to proof read their applications and then provide as much moral support as possible. You need not restrain yourself from going the extra mile, in prayer or action.

prayer

In the movie, the underlying theme is prayer so you might think, “If my spouse is abusing me, should I just go into a closet and pray?” There are obviously many other courses of action but I believe the writers/producers saw the need to remind us that before we should not involve the world or fight battles alone when we can begin with letting it all go and submitting to the Lord. Once you know that ‘someone’ stronger, mightier and more capable than you is taking care of your business, it is easier to worry less and sleep more.

sin

Last week, I had my own rock chasing me downhill. I was not able or willing to reveal its full intensity. One night,I decided to seek out to a few friends whom I knew would pray with/for me even when I failed to myself. I mentioned exactly what I wanted and then I went to sleep. The next day I woke up with that “I believe I can fly” attitude. I was singing and dancing in my room like I was being paid. Had all my problems vanished overnight? Not at all. Did I believe that they would? Yes. Did reminding myself that I was incapable of fighting alone help? Yes. Did my prayer and that of my loved ones change things? Oh yes!

faith

I am no expert in these matters, far from it. However, I have seen what suffering does to people. I have seen what it does to me. I know what it is like to feel like there is nowhere to turn, like God has forsaken you. Except, that is when he is working overtime! He allows trouble to pursue you and I. Through these troubles, he leads us to discover the gifts in darkness, the lessons from tribulation. I can’t reiterate enough what joy there is in learning how to wait, to be still in anticipation of his next move. While me may need to wait for him sometimes, other times he calls us to leap. To leave everything we know and love and go on a journey. Think of all the faithful men and women in the Bible. Now begin to meditate on the trials each of them overcame. Did God test them because he hated them or did he allow their faith to transform them? And so the learning continues…

John-1010

Overall, it was a good watch, with many learning points. It would be nice to watch it with your spouse and is suitable for family viewing.

Recommended music from the movie

Shake loose- Vickie Winans

Press on- Mandisa

Warrior – Steven Curtis Chapman

Crazy faith- John Waller

To know you- Casting Crowns

Healing begins- Tenth Avenue North

What were your thoughts when you watched the movie?Do share 🙂

X

Putting pain to good use

On any other Monday, I would be as fit as a fiddle, running around trying to do anything and everything that time can allow. Instead, I am lying in bed trying to type this post at an awkward angle.
For the past five years, I have been hospitalised at least once annually for a condition that is yet to be ‘correctly’ diagnosed. It comes in small doses during the year but there is always that one episode that comes prepared to crash and burn. When this happens, I run several tests with the hope of a new, more satisfying response but these efforts are mostly futile. Still, one must keep trying!
Last week when I saw a ‘new’ doctor, I recounted this to him and he asked “Have you been admitted this year?” I happily responded in the negative and he added, “So, is today the day?” I told him I hoped we would find an actual problem this time and treat it so I could go home. Several tests were done and they each came out negative. I left with drugs to take care of the symptoms, feeling worse than I did when I made my way to seek medical attention.
The fact that I know my body sometimes turns against me means that when I am 100% healthy, I have to be 150% active. When I work, it’s like my life depends on it with 2,345 items on my to-do list. When I dance, it is to ‘finish my money,’ never mind that half the time, no money has been paid in the first place 😛

“Turn your wounds into wisdom.”

There’s a positive side to all this and I guess that is what I would like to highlight today. Experience makes you wiser and wisdom gives you insight that can help you ‘save’ others. Let’s see if I can illustrate this.
My grandfather was a humorous man who always had a joke up his sleeve. When he got Alzheimer’s, it was difficult for us to tell because most of his actions resonated with the personality we had grown to love. When he was diagnosed, it all started to make sense, albeit too late. Thankfully, he came to live with us to ensure he was surrounded by love and maximum care in his last years.
One of our family friends whom I shall call George noticed some changes with his own father a few months later. When he shared this, mom quickly recommended grandpa’s doctor. As suspected, he too, had dementia. He began treatment immediately and the gentleman who had looked after grandpa during his illness is now a caregiver to George’s dad. Whereas we lost a loved one, another family benefited from the lessons we  learnt.

The irony is that as I treat my yet to be identified condition, I am constantly dispensing mostly unsolicited advice on the meaning of certain symptoms, which specialist to see and when to seek a second opinion.
My ‘experience’ as a full-time participant in health issues concerning myself, my loved ones and those around me  has ensured that I often make the right call ‘accidentally.’
Recently, I visited a friend’s mother after her surgery and very soon the room filled up with her friends and relatives. We exchanged several ‘horror tales’ of our country’s health system. After a while, her cousin tapped me and asked “How long have you been a medical professional?”
It was sadly funny.

I guess my message today is to encourage you not to let any kind of pain go unused.
This might sound pretty strange but you need to make the most out of it, in any shape or form that you can possibly muster.

Julie lost her job and it turned out to be a great time of self reflection for her. Before long, she knew exactly who her real friends were because the fake ones walked out the door the moment they realised she was broke.
It didn’t matter that she had picked them up during their lowest moments. They quickly forgot that and became instantly unavailable whenever she needed them.
As she starts her new journey, she knows exactly whom she’s carrying along for the ride and those she will happily leave behind.

We all have these moments. They come in form of different experiences.

You break up with Bosco, the love of your life and suddenly everyone has evidence to prove that he is such a low life. *Never mind that none of these friends told you when you were together. * <smh>

Before long, your heartbreak turns into a ‘good riddance!’ and guess what, you still continue to breathe after this failed relationship.

As cliche as it sounds, what doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger. The best gift you can give to your current  and future self is to deliberately seek out the lesson in each situation that threatens or even manages to break you. After all, you can’t mend that which is not broken in the first place 🙂
It’s only a matter of time before it is a distant memory and the best ‘revenge’ you can ever get is to take a seat, grab some crayons and draw your little rainbow when it’s all over.

jumping

Fresh start(s)

Today, 2nd July is the date which actually marks the middle of the year. We have completed 182 days and have 182 days to go. Congratulations! If you are reading this then you are alive and well. Well is quite relative so maybe we shall just go with alive. That is an accomplishment in itself, we might not be responsible for it but well, we are here.
“Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” If you lived by this mantra, it would be possible to reinvent yourself and make changes every day. It’s easier said than done, though, right?
Like most people I set out to achieve a few things this year (notice the deliberate absence of that word..that rhymes with solution?) I noticed recently that some of my goals were a trap for me to fail as they were not in my control. What if you want a promotion at work and then you end up losing your job because Boss X brought his wife’s sister’s boyfriend’s son to take your position? Is that your fault? Do you then get to December and put an ‘X’ against this box? That’s a bit unfair. However, even as we made all these plans there was no guarantee we would still be here. It is important to do ones best but still remain realistic. Also, don’t be too hard on yourself.
The beginning of a month, or a week seem like easier times to start a routine. Although if we refer to a certain quote above, you can decide to close your business, withdraw your savings and travel the new world on a random Wednesday after deciding that ‘this is the day.’
According to Maxwell Maltz, who was a plastic surgeon in the 1950’s ,it takes a minimum of 21 days to form a habit. Apparently, the world chose to edit the ‘minimum’ bit and went on with a myth that indeed 21 days are enough. This article explains that after more research was done, it was found that it in fact takes about 66 days. Woah!*Hands on head.* Apparently it was inspired by this study.

Nonetheless, there’s an exception to every rule. Not to mention the researcher didn’t necessary study people living your kind of lifestyle in your city for that period of time. Every individual’s uniqueness certainly plays a role in the result.
Last month, I decided to make some of my year’s  goals a reality by taking little steps. My focus was mainly on health. I made it very simple and achievable. Take a glass of water before breakfast,and as much as possible throughout the day, do a few exercises at home and ensure my diet includes either a fruit or vegetable (or  both) every day. All these were in my control unless of course for some reason  I got ill and could not walk or suddenly there was no water supply. Lucky for me, ‘healthy food’ is usually available at home unless one chooses to ignore it.
I can’t say I formed the habits for sure because I faltered a few times. I missed out on my morning glass of water twice, the exercises I also skipped a couple of times but made up for them by doing double the next day. For the fruits and vegetables, if I had errands out of home, chances were high that I did not care to incorporate them. Thankfully, these days weren’t many and were relatively apart. Not too shabby, I think. The cherry on top is that I have all these things at the front (not back) of my mind and that pushes me to do better. Additionally, I think this is great practice for when I grow my list to include more difficult tasks.
According to ’66 day article,’ this is how to divide your time.
• Day 1-22- Be vocal about your resolve. Apparently, It is more difficult to disappoint people than yourself.(mmhh) It’s easier when you are accountable to them.
• Day 23-44: Look inward. Ask yourself why you are doing what you are doing and remind yourself about the importance
• Day 24-66: Keep moving. You are getting there
• Day 66: Celebrate. Oh and not by doing that which you set out not to do. Yes, they are saying if you were trying to get off alcohol, find a nice virgin pina colada in a colourful glass with a straw and be content 😛

I think these steps are great, if you alter them to suit your personality and routine. I only just read about them and yet I think I did fine-ish. That said, improvement is always an option even if you are at the top.
I think mid-year is a great time to reflect on your plans and even make new ones. I don’t know what works for you but I suggest a journal/notebook, reminders on your phone/PC/bedroom wall. Generally, anything and everything that will get you to where you want to be.
I am going to continue on my quest to make these ‘habits’ stick as I incorporate new items on this list that I hope will outgrow me in my pursuit for a better all-round life.

Go ahead, fly.

darling
My mini-celebration shall take place tomorrow. This is fate, I tell you! As we begin the next part of the year, I am only more determined to do more and better the old me.
My team and I have organised a night of music and poetry dubbed ‘Croak and Rhyme.’ If you are in my circles then this >> #CroakAndRhyme is very familiar and you might even be on the verge of chocking or blocking my team and I. If you do not feel like this, what a patient person you are! Also, ignore all those ‘suggestions,’ they were a bad joke.
This event is different because much as well-known Ugandan Artists will take the stage, ordinary fans and music lovers like you can have your moment of fame. It’s all for the fun of it really, that’s why it is called Croak and Rhyme and not Uganda’s finest musicians.
While you will hear ‘old hits’ performed by great artists like Joanita Kawalya of Afrigo band, the legendary Maddox and Qute Kaye, you will also see several recent favourites.
From Hip hop, to Rn’B and acapella groups, we have it all. Naava Grey, Mun G, Richy Kaweesa, Ruyonga, Benezeri, The Mith, Maro, Nutty Neithan, Shine, Canaan Gents and Sauti ya Africa.
Poets will also hit the stage to give us a dose of their talent. The event will cost you Ugx 10,000 and will take place at the Uganda Museum.

collage
All of this sounds awesome, yes? Well, I am excited even as I type! What’s more exciting is that the proceeds shall help build a dormitory for 30 girls at Elohim Children’ centre Bombo. These children also have a performance actually so you get to see them for yourself.

Please note, they are quite talented so you might leave your wallet, visa and car keys with us 😛

Elohim kids
If music and poetry don’t tickle your fancy or you are unable to make it, contact us on other ways to support the cause. Email info@40daysover40smiles.org or call 0704816607/0777499991
Good luck forming new habits, you have 6 months to go. Scratch that. You have the rest of your life. 21, days, 66 or even 10? Whatever works for you, go for it! Let me know how it goes? Also, see you tomorrow 🙂

Listen

I do not know what you are going through right now. Quite frankly, no one does except you.

I know this because no matter how much of yourself you actually share, only you can truly feel some things, if you get my drift.

If I had never been rushed to hospital in the middle of the night, in an ambulance, I would not know what it feels like to stare death in the face.

If I had not been raised by parents who opened their doors to everyone, giving would probably be a chore.

Had I not dreamt a dream bigger than me, I may never have had the opportunity to witness the beautiful souls of human beings Vs the extremely callous.

See, a big part of who we become is a result of our experiences. It is simply sad that for many of us, our sad past means ‘punishing’ the world when we ‘make it.’ Moreover, we often reward good with evil.

Like many years before it, I started 2015 with great hopes of a better everything. It started out rougher than I anticipated which made me rethink all my mantras.

When I wasn’t lost in my own little world, I was out there pretending everything was okay. Sometimes, I did both-half day locked up, the other half smiling with the world.

Do you ever have those days when you tell your loved ones just enough for then to feel like you have let them in while still holding on to the details that matter? Do you find yourself more worried about worrying them than about that which keeps you awake at night? Well, it all occurred and then some.

Time did not wait. Life continued.

A couple of days ago, on a dimly lit road, something happened. Right in the middle of nowhere as my ‘chauffeur’ glued her eyes to the front and I sang along to Jennifer Lopez’s waiting for tonight. I felt an inexplicable joy in my heart. Everything was still for a split second and I thought to myself, “I am alright. I am okay.” It was at this point that I started reflecting on the past few months and realising how far we had come. Yes, we. My soul and I.

I thought to myself, perhaps sharing this tale with someone will give them renewed hope, so here I am.

Truth is, not very much has changed but it is also not very easy to achieve complete nirvana.

Something will always come up whether it is trivial like why the sales girl is always dressed better than you yet she earns a quarter of your salary or serious like sitting through your mum’s chemotherapy session wondering how much longer she will be with you.

I have categorised the things that trouble me as follows;

-Things I cannot change

-Things I can try to change, keeping in mind other people are involved (hence it isn’t 100% up to me)

-Things I can change

In this regard, I actively play my part and acknowledge that things may or may not work.

I know it is difficult to keep hope alive when everything around you is telling you the exact opposite, do it anyway. While at it, allow yourself to fall, breakdown, yell,cry, and roll in the mud. That dramatic stuff can scare your troubles away :P. I kid. Bottom line, after all that, stiffen that upper lip and show life what you are made of. Musical interlude: *I am tiiiiitttttaaaaannnnniiiiuuuummmm! *

So, what I really wanted to say is; Listen.

LISTENNNN

Whether you are in an unhappy relationship or unemployed, lacking in motivation or balance; sick physically and/or emotionally. Listen.

The voice of reason will find you if you let it.

That whisper saying “Stop the self-pity and take a few risks” shall be heard. Heck, it may even come to you on the dance floor!

Allow yourself to listen. Allow yourself to breathe.

Live!

 

Passion. Pleasure. Pain

It is one year since I made the decision to walk out of what is commonly referred to as  ‘gainful employment.’ When I asked google what it meant, this was the response I got. ‘Employment situation where the employee receives consistent work and payment from the employer’

Never mind that I thought gaining can be in other ways, you know, knowledge, dream chasing, etc? Well, I was wrong-“serving to increase wealth or resources”

wealth, wealth and more wealth. I could argue though that wealth is more than just assets, right? Perhaps,another day.

One Monday two years ago, I opened something that would change my life-forever. At that point, I did not know this, only the author of life did.

Before I knew it, I was in love with these children who fit perfectly in my heart. It seems like their spot had been there all along.

I found myself spending lunch money on a boda boda ride to visit them, work hours to plan for them and weekends to do all the above with anyone who was willing.

40-40 was quickly becoming my life and although I recognised this, I needed to work, survive and be ‘normal.’

It wasn’t very long before I realised that I was biting more than I could chew. By day, I was keeping the social media pages active, running to hospital to visit a sick child, meeting potential partners and countless things in between. By night, I was writing business plans, editing marketing strategies and looking over proposals for the job that paid my dues.

I always told my boss “I will have it sent to you by end of day and by this I mean midnight.” As a result, my emails to him usually had the 11.58pm time stamp. I felt like superwoman. I was chasing my passion and doing my job, surely it couldn’t be that complex, right? Wrong!

My system began to crash physically and emotionally, relationships quietly crumbled and at any one time, I was under pressure from not one but both ‘entities.’ It was a nightmare!

Crossroads

Most of the people who cared about me expected me to ‘snap out’ of this ‘charity thing.’ Explaining my predicament only proved them right. “Focus on your job,” was the easy response.

Here I was-a journalism graduate writing business plans after failing to find work in ‘my industry,’ a ‘mobile mind’ that jumped at any opportunity to work out of office and ‘multi tasker’ who could not even realise when to ‘give up.’ Something needed to change-fast.

Decisions…decisions

I decided that I would not think about how to survive or what the future held, not too much at least.

I had not consulted anyone before starting the 40-40 journey. I took it then invited people to take it with me. It somehow worked.

I made up my mind to leave the job on my own and hoped that those who mattered would understand my decision and support me.

When I sent that resignation letter, I felt a strong sense of peace and a similarly powerful sense of panic. I am all about the optimism so I had to make sure the positive outweighed all other depressing thoughts. *breathe*

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

What next?

I needed some time to think, take a journey of self discovery and come back ready to do the job I was made for.

That was not to happen, not quite at least.

I no longer had ‘work’ as an excuse so structures had to be set up, plans made and as much as possible and we needed some evidence of progress, right? Okay. *breathe*

The Marathon

The events that followed were mostly miracles and if you believe in signs-these were the ‘loudest’ signs you could find.

I do not take credit for these. Many nights I went to bed and had this to say to God. “Really?”

When I quit, I barely sat for a week, ‘scattered brains,’ as we like to call them were at their best(worst?)

We planned a team building at one of the team member’s homes. While there, we had a speaker who among many things said, “ Why do you keep acting like a small organisation? You have grown, by now you should even have an office.” The irony! When I leave work is when you bring up such things? Thanks!

That night I went home and told mom. She knew someone who was leaving an office just next to theirs and gave me the contact.

Within three weeks, together with my friends and family, I had the ‘millions’ required to pay for 6 months rent. The rate would be ‘good’ because the former tenant put in a good word for us.

That was just the beginning.

Most of our events brought in about 5 million shillings (total) by then, Hoops for Grace that September brought in 5 million UGX as the surplus..

We would then have our most successful online campaign the following month, dubbed #BuyABrick- for a dormitory we were building. It raised 8 million shillings (cash) in 10 days on facebook and twitter. Period.

The following month (November) came with the inaugural social media Awards. 40-40 scooped the award for “Best Campaign” in a category we were certain we would not see light of day in. Why? The household names we were up against-Coca Cola, MTN and Airtel. How??!

As the year came to an end in December, I would be recognised as the “Heroine of the Year 2013” by the Young Achiever’s awards.

In three months,40-40 had had more ‘action,’ than I could contain. If the universe was sending a message, I had received it loud and clear. Wouldn’t you agree?

What lessons can I share? What do I wish I knew? What does this experience mean?

If at least one person can believe with you and go the extra mile, you are onto something

The 40-40 greater family is in thousands and that looks good-on paper.

The naysayers are lurking around, perhaps even one in three. To keep the main thing, the main thing amidst life’s hurdles is extremely difficult but NOT impossible.

Two years ago I met Joseph* In fact, he was one of the only people on the team whom I did not know from ‘my past life’ (Everyone else was a friend or at least an acquaintance)

He was dedicated,you could see that. Him and I were (are) also very different.  It took a while for me to get used to him, one of the reasons being >> ‘tasemba na kyo’ (loosely translated to mean, he always has the last word) even when it is obvious he is wrong. (in his defence, I also drive other people mad so…)

Let me even give a ‘real’ example. This one time he knocked a policeman (poor boy was on his way to a 40-40 meeting) and as he narrated the story to us, he seemed to suggest that the policeman (who was on foot) is the one who knocked Joseph’s car 😀 <<< see?

Well, he happens to be one of the most loyal members of my team

For almost two years, he braved Entebbe road traffic and a demanding bank job-to attend our weekly meetings(in Kampala) that often end at 9.00p.m as well as having a key role at all our events.

A couple of months ago when African Hope Network offered to support me and 40-40, my opening request was that they facilitate me to hire an accountant.

The first time I mentioned it in a meeting, a few people nodded, some weren’t sure. Joseph*  on the other hand sent me a message that night saying he would quit his job and join me- full time.

What? how? why? when?

I spent the next fortnight giving him all the reasons why he should not make this drastic decision.

I needed him to be sure. I was living a precarious life and did not want to carry any ‘casualties’ with me.

He did not budge.

Well, as I speak, he is my first real ‘employee’ and we haven’t killed each other…yet.

So you can say I am a boss-ish.

Speaking of bosses…

I do not consider myself a boss, it will take some time before I get the hang of it. When I was younger, I knew I would support a cause like ours, not be at the helm of it. See the universe playing tricks again?

Even with the titles Afande, CEO/ED/KCCA/UPE etc that we joke about, I see my team as equals. Some older, some younger but nonetheless, we are all 40/40.

My friend Gloria introduces me to everyone as ‘My boss Esther.’ The most awkward one was recently when I was at her ‘actual office’ and her ‘actual boss’ walked in. “Meet my other boss, Esther,” she calmly said. The expression on his face-priceless!

It’s all about the money, money, money…NOT

For the past nine or so months I have had interviews on t.v, radio, print and several occasions where I have been invited as a speaker.

This is what always happens when the opportunity avails itself, in this order.
Me: Oh what an honour!
Me: On gosh! What am I going to say?
Me: In front of all those people? I can’t.

Me: I do not have anything to wear.

You would think I would be used by now. I shock myself too. Same nerves, same panic, same fear of falling and stuttering etc.

At the end of all this, I will look at my closet, grab something, head out (almost always on my trusted boba boda) and then present myself and my dream.

I do not like audiences or speaking to them but I do enjoy telling people about 40-40 and hoping for at least one convert.

There is always that person in the audience who asks malicious questions so the poker face must be intact (I struggle)

After one talk, this gentleman asked “So how do you keep your hair looking like that if you are saying you are still growing and thus can’t afford salaries?” Before I could respond he insinuated I had a rich man taking care of me *yawn*

I do not know why  people are so myopic. They barely ask what drives you or how you have come this far. When they do, it is after a snide remark about charity and giving too much of oneself to others. Frankly, it is exhausting, but when you want something badly- you begin to gnore even the greatest humps.

Let us think of a business. You borrow money from friends to start it. You ask your family to let you use the garage because you can’t afford rent. You let your employees know you will pay them when things are good but they may go without salaries sometimes. You also assure them that you will understand if they need to go after ‘greener pastures’ because they have to survive. One day, you catch your lucky break, and the rest is history. Does this make sense?

Okay, now replace business with 40-40 but envision it as non-profit but with possibilities for it to employ the brightest and the best and one day actually pay those salaries. To be honest, my team is already all these things, only difference is they are not doing it for the pay cheque- which makes it that much more awesome. Plus of course, they will be repaid ten fold.

So whereas one might recycle outfits and forego vacations or seemingly incredible employment opportunities, there are few ‘real’ things money can buy, if any..happiness and peace of mind do NOT make that list.

Now that I mentioned opportunities, I have remembered my ‘excruciating conundrum.’ After reaching the two year mark at my old job, I figured it was time to move on. I decided to apply for this one job. I actually did fit the part to a large extent.

During the interview the interviewer seemed impressed by the fact that I had managed to balance work and 40-40, until she turned it around. Wouldn’t I give her organisation less time because of my dream? I decided that would be the last job interview I would initiate.

 

After I started to do 40-40 full time, the calls started to come in. The weird bit was that most of them were management positions. I leave my ‘baby’ which is what made you think of hiring me in the first place, come and (hopefully) ensure yours succeeds and then what happens to mine? Best believe their response came with more 000,000’s than words. It was then that I would say thanks, but no thanks.

I did actually try to take part in gigs that could be done part time and at my convenience…Hmm, let’s just say it is not them, it’s me.

From my S.6 vacation when I volunteered as a teacher at an international school where most of the children were snobbish and it rubbed off on the teachers too ,(or is it the other way round?) to the internships I did for four months, every year during my holidays at University, to the office where I watched our pay being swindled and realised I can’t keep silent in the face of corruption to the jobs I have done for pay and the life that I live now- I can safely say that I have never before been as comfortable in my skin as I am now. In the past year, I have felt more ‘useful’ than I have my entire life and that is something that has no price tag.

 

 “I like the night. Without the dark, we’d never see the stars.”

Your script is different

I have friends whose lives have escalated quite ‘differently’ from my own. We are the same age, perhaps even come from a similar background. Our stories might be somewhat intertwined but often take different turns. Angella* is married with kids, Emily* is steadily rising up the corporate ladder and drives a car that costs the equivalent of what I spend in three years, Jane is in a new city each month and Brian* just got an international job that promises practically everything we dreamt of when growing up. Is this their story? Yes. Is it exciting? Yes. Is it mine? No

If society decides to judge you, their examples shall be simple and yet close to home. “Why can’t you be like your friend who……?”They will go on to tell you things about this friend whose story you probably shared in the first place. It is now ‘their’ story.

The truth is that everyone has their own story and there are no stories that can be identical, similar-yes, identical not a chance! For every ‘achievement’ {because this is subjective} you ‘should have’ attained by now, you are aware and possibly beating yourself up enough without any room for ‘concerned parties’ to add their voice.

The trouble is, though, that we often pay too much attention to the voices. These voices tell us everything we are NOT instead of reassuring us about everything we ARE.

In the end, we do not even remember our dreams or what we loved to do. We are stuck portraying everyone’s definition of success but our own. This is a cancer that can eat at you for the rest of your life if you let it.

Let your story be yours. No matter how dull, dramatic or painful it is-as long as it is yours, all else is secondary

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realise how close they were to success when they gave up.”

lonely

Before I go

A couple of weeks ago, I was looking at our accounts and realised they could be better. You know how when you are broke and you remember all your debtors? It was a bit like that. I remembered that this organisation had made a 1,000,000 ugx pledge that wasn’t fulfilled. When I contacted them they said their boss had been out of the country (never mind that he was in the papers and on t.v (United States of Kololo perhaps?)

24 hours later, the money was miraculously ‘ready.’ All I had to do was pick it up, and give the 3 people who ‘helped process’ it their cut, take the 40-40 share and go. What is 1,000,000 divide by 4? Yeah. Exactly.

I told them to give us all of it or keep all of it because we would rather close shop than lose integrity. After all, dividing it amongst themselves without us, would mean more for them.Their response? “We’ll call you back.” That call has not come through since.

The truth is that so many organisations and people operate like this in this country and many others- from the lowest level to the top. That does not mean that we should condone this nonsense because it is the ‘done thing.’

On the other hand, we can’t use blanket statements like “That is why I will never help people, they are all crooks.” There is always an exception to the rule.

Change does not have to happen at once. No amount of change is insignificant.

We need to support each other and help those around us grow.

There are some bits of African culture that do not sit well with me.  I will illustrate.

A woman is beaten by her husband for years and never lets the children know, she is the best mother but most depressed human being. Very soon her daughter is 25 and engaged to be married. It is a huge celebration. After the ‘honeymoon phase,’ daughter returns home. She explains that her husband is a monster. He beats her up like he is trying to kill her. Mommy raises her dress and shows her scars. “My child, guma” (hang in there). She goes on to share the stories of what she went through.

We need to speak up..!! NOW not tomorrow.
This year has been an incredible experience for me mostly because it has opened my eyes. It has not been easy and I acknowledge that. That does not take the beauty from it, in fact, it makes it that much more worthwhile.

If I am blessed with children or people to mentor, I would like to tell them things as they are, no sugar coating- only facts!

I would like to illustrate that it is not always black or white, it can be grey.

I hope that I will teach them to understand that passion is a beautiful thing and whether you find it at 13, 24 or 60- the best gift you can give yourself is to harness every last inch of it.

discover you

God has been good. I have no doubt he put me here and gave me amazing people to ensure his work gets done. I will serve him for as long as I live.

Thank you for reading up to this point! I know just typing all this out has exhausted me.

Just remember;

winner

To dreams and more, xoxo

passion