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

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After the dorm

“When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his dream.”

Over a year ago when we did our research to decide which community to work with, we were rather overwhelmed by the fact that our best fit desired infrastructure worth 28 million UGX.
At the time, we did not even have a bank account. After months of relentless campaigns, we achieved our goal and put up a dormitory for 210 children.

dorm complete
I overheard someone ask on that very day when we opened the dormitory “What about beds?”
When you work for an organisation like 40-40, it is easy not only to succumb to pressure from the outside world, but also to slowly realise that almost everyone has an opinion regarding what you can do better, when and how. You may attempt to do everything and end up doing nothing at all. Striking the balance between following your heart and taking advice will often seem like rocket science until such a time when structures are stable, responsibilities are apparent, funding is stable and activities are streamlined. That day is coming soon.
I knew at the back of my mind that eventually, an ideal situation for 40-40 would be one in which; a community identifies a need. They decide on a nursery school for example. They are not in position to raise all the funds necessarily but they realise their children need a firm foundation. We ask them what they can provide. They agree to offer land and man power. We then find resources to make their dream a reality. Along the way, health workers within the area agree to visit weekly to deal with any health conditions the children may suffer. Before you know it, one of them has been employed as an in-house nurse. A single father who long since gave up on his teaching career recognises the need within his community and decided to volunteer time at the school. 40-40 partners with an organisation which focuses on early childhood care especially for disadvantaged children. They come in to give the teachers in this area skills and training specific to their situation. The list goes on. By now I believe you get the drift.
We told and retold the dormitory story. One of my favourite memories of this occurred when an article was published days after we commissioned the dorm. Evelyn was at the salon half paying attention to the music on the radio. The presenters spoke only Luganda and she didn’t even know the frequency. She would soon realise they were speaking about ‘abavubuka a’ba zimbye e’Luweero’ (youth who built in Luweero) She became attentive and contacted me immediately. I was thrilled! Brenda on the other hand stopped asking people “Have you heard of 40-40?” and started to ask “Do you know about the youth who built a dorm?” That should catch your attention! 😀
We stayed in contact with Happy Times Luweero but lent a hand to other projects we thought deserved our time and attention.
Then it started to happen!
Students who belong to AISEC, more specifically from China and Japan visited the school. They fell in love with the kids although they could barely speak any language besides their own. One 16 year old boy got malaria and his Japanese parents told him to catch the next flight home or they were coming. He was adamant. He asked to be treated at the same hospital the kids went to and stayed around for another month during which he recovered completely, feasted on posho and beans and helped with the chores.
The students then purchased beds, mattresses,bedsheets and blankets that filled the dormitory. All the children had to do was carry the other school requirements! What a beautiful sight.

Made in Uganda, in fact- in Luweero :)

Made in Uganda, in fact- in Luweero 🙂

beds
One of the reasons we built the dormitory was because the school was taking in many abandoned babies who had nowhere to go yet the space was not enough to accommodate them and the older children.
Looking at the babies’ section, it is difficult to believe that all those children were once squashed in there but then again, there is a time for everything.

Baby Harris (named after a 40/40 team member) was abandoned at 4 days. He has a home now!

Baby Harris (named after a 40/40 team member) was abandoned at 4 days.
He has a home now!

Tunyumila mu pair :D

Tunyumila mu pair 😀

When Hudani Manji Holdings Ltd (Yo Kuku) contacted Brenda about how best to partner with 40-40, we were especially excited to find out that their 64 acre factory was located close to Luweero. The natural option was for their support to be directed to Happy Times.
Since their primary product is chicken, their donation would be in kind. Fresh frozen chicken, for the kids, straight from the factory! When we informed them that the school had no fridge, they replied ‘Let there be a deep freezer that can contain 100kg!’ (not in those words but you get the drift)
Wululu! The excitement! Yes, 50kg of chicken for the children monthly. A meal they only anticipated over the Christmas holiday.
The first batch was delivered on Monday- public holiday just!

yo kuku 2

yo kuku 3

I am hungry!!

I am hungry!!

meal 2

The P7 pupils cut and cooked their own chicken after the exam. No jokes!

The P7 pupils cut and cooked their own chicken after the exam.
No jokes!

One of our findings with people who are looking after vulnerable children in this country is that they want to remain pitiful and show no sign of development in order to attract donors both local and international. Little do they know, it simply makes them ‘less attractive’ candidates for whatever help you have to offer. Sometimes they don’t know better, most times though, they are driven by greed. Like Michael has asked before ‘Can you teach initiative?’

Changing a mindset is certainly a full time job that requires years of patience.

“And sure enough, even waiting will end…if you can just wait long enough.”

The director at Happy Times, Ms. Joyce Namigadde though, tells things as they are and makes it a joy to give. Why? You get to see the developments almost immediately.
In two weeks or so, the school shall be pumping clean water after an Australian family raised $10,000 for construction of a borehole at the school. At the beginning of this year we were working on a proposal to a corporate company whose CSR was directly for water. We soon found out about the Australians who have clearly  kept their word.

borehole
As if this News is not good enough, three of the babies from the home are going to be adopted and given a chance to grow up with a mommy and daddy *clapping incessantly* 🙂
The adoption fees have been used to purchase land near the school that will be used to build a self contained house exclusively for the babies and toddlers.
There is little else to do other than give God the glory.
Hard work, dedication and perseverance pay off. Granted, sometimes it takes a while but your patience will yield fruits.

“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.”

What is your dream today?
#Iam4040

Take the shackles off my feet so I can dance!

I woke up this morning and this is all I could think of. “Take the shackles off my feet so I can dance!’

I quickly sent a text to my friend Ritah and asked her to send me the song ‘Shackles-Mary Mary’ because she is my song bank.. and she did!

I replayed it and it was clear that the lyrics spoke to me just the way I wanted them to.

In the corners of mind
I just can’t seem to find a reason to believe
That I can break free
‘Cause you see I have been down for so long

Feel like the hope is gone
But as I lift my hands, I understand
That I should praise You through my circumstance

Take the shackles off my feet so I can dance
I just wanna praise You
I just wanna praise You

You broke the chains, now I can lift my hands
And I’m gonna praise You
I’m gonna praise You

I have been immobile for seven days, which is a lot for anyone but even more disturbing for a victim of OCD like yours truly.

I have my days, weeks, months planned out but it is true what they say, time certainly doesn’t wait for anyone.

I slowly looked at everything urgent, important, urgent and important and the not so important ones and kept telling myself the next day would be better. When I noticed the universe wasn’t in agreement. I slowly cancelled everything and only maintained the weekend rendezvous’ which I sadly had to miss too.
Last night I received the image of a cake for a do I had helped put together and I could almost hear my tummy yell. ‘Let’s go get that!!’ but well, that didn’t happen.

Having four walls  closing you in can be disturbing. You think of the most random things. I tried not to look at the time, keep offline mostly and away from phone calls under the pretext of bed rest. That meant that I had to use my brain for other things EXCEPT self pity. Not the easiest thing to do under those conditions but well, you fake it till you make it.

And then the 7 days blogging challenge happened! I wished I could take part but I sort of did, as an admirer and appreciator, right? I waited for that hour of the night when sleep would elude me and then I began to follow link after link, read one blog post after another, grinning,frowning,smiling.Name it. It was exciting, not in a ‘I want to scream’ type of way but more like I could-get-used-to this. Could it be that God timed this just for me? To slow down a little and take in everything else that life is about? Good reads, silent meditation and everything in between?

I lay in bed and read every article in the dailies like a curious tourist in a foreign land. I got round to reading some magazines full of celebrity gossip that the mother had got me a while back which I never had time for. They can have a lot of rubbish but a dream outfit here and a holiday destination there never hurt anyone. Oh! some eye candy too. Wait, perhaps I enjoyed this a little too much.

time 1

Whereas I didn’t intend to take time off, and it wasn’t the most painless affair either-I did get time to think about a lot of things.

I even learnt a new word that I have failed fix somewhere in this blog. Wait, now I can’t even remember it :/

Sure I missed some days that I can never recover and I am behind schedule on a few things but hey- there is always a bright side 🙂

There’s no advantage to hurrying through life

So, if the universe doesn’t force you to take time off, like me, you better grab every opportunity you can to stop and actually smell the roses (literally and figuratively)

In the meantime, I shall be getting these shackles off so I can- DANCE!!

xx

BE Santa this Christmas

Every year, 40-40 has both an Easter and Christmas drive to make these days more special for disadvantaged children in the country.

These young people(40-40)  are even cooler because they make other ordinary days special too but you know, these just stand out more 😉

A few months ago we embarked on a project to build a dormitory at Happy Times Junior School, Luweero. It seemed like an impossible task at first but well….See what we had to do;

Ninjas be like

Ninjas be like

After all that,this is what came out of it….Not to say I built alone, but just leave me to have my building moment of fame, thanks 😀

Dorm-

So we were like ‘WOOOOOPPPP!’, Dreams come true!Let’s finish this by end of December and then we can begin on a clean slate next year.

We can’t do it alone. This is where you come in.

#BuyABrick and #BuyABag raised 10 million shillings in 12 days and gave us so much hope. This time after 8 days, we don’t even have 1,000,000 shillings 😦

It is not about the money by the way, it is about the hope, the promise, the joy when we realise this dream and  this building that can be a home to over 200 children.

What do we need? Well, I am glad you asked. 😀

Item Quantity Price Total
Doors 4 300,000 1,200,000
Windows 10 250,000 2,500,000
Concrete Stones 5 Trips 120,000 600,000
Sand 16 Trips 50,000 800,000
Cement 80 bags 26,000 2,080,000
Glasses (Windows) 400,000 400,000
Paint 12 Jerrycans 1,200,000
Labour 2, 000,000
Total     10, 780,000

We have to throw a massive party for the kids this Saturday and plan for logistics so that brings our target to about 13 million shillings.

If you can get the actual materials, we shall be amazed as well. Feel free to contact us on facebook, twitter or numbers 0777499991/0773152701.

Most importantly, we would love it if you joined us. Your time is the most important resource you can ‘donate.’

Meanwhile, this post wasn’t meant to ‘beg,’ its real purpose is to represent the before and after. Today I am ‘weeping’ because the campaign is so slow but at the end of it all, I shall have a testimony! We all shall.

Find us at Kyadondo Rugby Club during Power Fm’s ‘Phatfest’ on Friday and then  join us Saturday for a Christmas party with the kids in Luweero.

It is going to be one big celebration I tell you! Can’t wait!!! 🙂

See you before and after we have our complete dormitory and a generation of change agents!!

This is how to join in

This is how to join in

Merry Christmas 🙂

Winners: Best Campaign at Social Media Awards

“We would like to thank all our haters for getting us here.” These should have been the opening remarks of my speech at the Social Media Awards on Friday 15th November, 2013, right?

I am only kidding! We all know who got us there and we shall thank him for all of our days 🙂

The two nominations 40-40 got for these awards were a pleasant surprise. Faith said we would get the accolades, doubt shouted ‘Never!’ We on the other hand, didn’t know what to expect.

The atmosphere that evening was bright and breezy. I am not sure if I should be confessing the bit below but here goes 😉 *Types with eyes closed*

The terrific organisers of the event had an invite for me, uhm, yes, just me. I could not imagine being at the Hub ‘on my own’ at the time we were announced winners, or mourning solo in the event that we lost. We had to devise semi crafty measures *No further details* to get a few more invites.

If I had my way, the room would have had about 20 members of the team(or more) in one LOUD corner but, we got a good number nonetheless 😉

image

When I got to the venue at 6.00pm, which was starting time according to the programme, there was some activity but at the back of my mind, I figured the event would start an hour or so later. That was the case. However, with the drinks and tasty little bites at the cocktail, I am certain very few people had a chance to look at the time..Perhaps after the treats were done 😉

Roy, the entertaining MC of the night eventually got the ball rolling, and Patricia Kahill, one of the judges later got onto the stage. At this point the short but eventful evening started to unfurl as we watched and listened expectantly.

The first award was for the best blogger category. Bernard aka Beewol, who is one of our teammates, was up against some credible writers like Ruth Aine. We had our moment of ‘loud silence’ as we held our breaths to hear who the winner was. Beewol scooped the award and in trademark 40-40 fashion, we ululated and probably got ‘those looks.’ Still…yaaayy 🙂

Girls who chill with  winners be like ^^

Girls who chill with winners be like ^^

After this, we knew that only two other categories were close to our hearts, the Social justice award and the Best campaign.

We followed the programme religiously, got mini-heart attacks, pre-labour pains, short breaths and other conditions that I am afraid to put in writing for fear of being blamed for exaggeration:p

Just when it was time for the ‘Best campaign Award,’ as we held our breaths, it was cleverly skipped, leaving us disturbed and possibly numb.

Entertainment went on and I forced myself to sing along to songs, laugh at jokes and make small talk, anything to forget the ‘trauma’ ahead.

Eventually we got to the ‘Social justice’ award. We had each secretly believed this was the one we had a possibility of bagging. If anything, it defined us and the competition did not seem that stiff compared to the other but ALAS!

“And the winner is…… Barefoot lawyers….” Everything after this was a blur.
Some people took to twitter to ‘rant’ others ‘researched and gave stats of the traffic on the winner’s twitter and facebook page to understand why they won. It was too much to take in. My friend Ritah simply walked out.

We did NOT look like this at that point

We did NOT look like this at that point

Through all this, I sent whatsapp messages to tell everyone I knew had voted that we had missed out on one but would have faith for the next. That kept me occupied for a bit, then reality crept back. “What if we walk out of here without an award? I thought.

We had recently incurred losses at our Charity Bazaar. How was I to explain to the team that we had failed yet again? I needed some air so I walked out as well.

When I got to the bathroom, I found a disappointed Ritah. She told me she would stay in there till the event ended. She could not take the pressure and wanted to weep in private. “It is not fair, we deserved that award,” she said. All I could tell her was we had one more to go. I gave her a big hug and hoped to God for a miracle.

I went back inside. I wondered why we had finished the complimentary m n’ m’s. The chocolate would have been a good distraction.

In time, Seanice Kacungira , CEO Blu Flamingo came on stage with Nancy, her sister and their entire team. She gave an emotional speech which left my friends and I going ‘awww.’ This did not stop me from noticing the last three awards of the night ‘chilling’ on the side. “Would one of them be ours?”

The torture was colossal but there was nothing left to do. Breathing into the little ‘SMA’ paper bag did not do much for me either. Judgement day had come later than expected but it was still coming.

Finally it was time to announce the winner of the Best Campaign. I have no idea who handed it over or what he does, to tell you the truth I was in a daze for a while.

Who were we up against? Coca cola, MTN, Airtel and Malaria free Uganda. That must have been the first time ever those names were used in the same sentence. It most certainly won’t be the last. :D. Did I mention we are going to stalk them for sponsorship? Well….uhm, you know 😉

I do remember the camera man focusing on the scan which later unleashed a long-ish name. Could that be ’40 days over 40 smiles?’ It could be…and it WAS!! We won!! How/ When/Who/Where Which? Uhm, who cares, we did! 🙂

The pressure my goodness! I saw everyone around me get up but I couldn’t feel my legs. I let out a loud scream. For a moment, the room was empty except for the 40-40 team.

The Lord never fails his own, never!!

We went to the front; I said a few words (yawn) Let us go back to the real matter. WE WON!! The MC remarked “Indeed there are over 40 smiles!” In that instant, it felt like each of us had 40 smiles independently.

No one had screamed that much for their award, or had a crazy team smiling ear to ear until we did but let’s face it, we are not like anyone 😉

sma box

We were too excited after the ceremony to network, even when we spoke to the MTN marketing manager, there were just smiles, the photo op with the judges, also a blur, Navio in our photograph asking to also do the 40-40 sign (woah!!!) all went by too quickly.

We walked out with our excitement and had a mini celebration. I doubt I shall forget this special night any time soon. The award was great but everything it represents is so much more amazing.

Perhaps, another blog post shall be written for that bit.

In the meantime, (Didn’t get to say this in the 20 word speech), we thank Blu Flamingo for the initiative, and all the sponsors that believed and came on board, the amazing people that nominated and/or voted for us-family members and ‘strangers’ alike, the awesome 40-40 team that works tirelessly like they are expecting a reward simply because it is the only way they know how…and God who has NEVER forgotten us, as we come close to our second birthday.

ASANTE!!

Blessings 🙂 🙂 Love…love…xx

Wululu!!

Wululu!!

Life-Precious (Part II)

If you do not remember or did not read what part I was about, it was basically a summary of events that occured a fortnight ago as I battled ill health.

I left out a few of the other parts so it would not be so crowded.

The day I git admitted, a gentleman who knows mum came to my room. It was filled with my friends and we were chatting away. “What are you sick of, he asked, Is it malaria?” By then I hadn’t even been told the diagnosis so my response was unclear. This sparked off a one-man conversation that I had not anticipated. “What would a young girl like you be suffering from?,” he mused pondered out loud. “If it is not malaria, it must be issues related to men.”

The mother burst into laughter and would not ‘recover’ for the next 24 hours. Of course my friends began to joke that I was love sick, hysterical or heart broken. All this while I was thinking but the near-stranger in here has guts.

Poor Uganda. The only disease we ‘accept’ is malaria? How sad. This guy also laughed himself into a stupor till he left. It was hilarious. Mum later told me he is a driver for a company that makes deliveries at her office. She barely knows him. The fact that he was that cheerful around people he barely knew amused me even further.

Later that night, I asked mum to go and get an update on my lab results. I heard her laugh a few minutes later. It is so distinct, you can’t miss it. When she returned I asked what was funny. She was shocked it had ‘reached’ me.

She explained that she had met someone who asked her why she was in hospital. When she told him I was sick, he asked. <drum roll> “Is it malaria?” I am sure he thought she was insane because she laughed at her inside joke and left. See,  the entertainment for that first night was covered 🙂

The less you know…

The next evening, another patient was brought it. There were two non-practicing journalists(mum and I) in there so we found out he spoke Swahili. A few pleasantries were exchanged and then we went on about our lives.

On day 3 however, as we spoke to a nurse, we found out the patient had no family or food. He had been dumped at the hospital. Mummy dearest went over and obviously returned with full details.

This Congolese National had been ‘hired’ by a Pastor and was working with a church in Kampala. He too did pastoral work. When he got ill, the Pastor dropped him, left 20,000 shillings and disappeared. What can 20,000 shillings even do? Being admitted obviously comes with extra costs but by the time we left, the nurses had promised to treat him with or without payment. *They asked him to go to Mulago before but he declined*

Mum began to give him meals until we left but one can only imagine what became of him after.

I would like to begin a rant which focuses on Christians and our lack of compassion, hypocrisy and other related issues but I shall save it.

My little testimony here is/was, laughter and a short conversation that begins with “how are you?” can be all it takes to make someone feel better 🙂

The day after I left hospital, I found out about two breakthroughs that had happened in lives of friends I was praying for.

1. Liz(not real name) graduated on 1st November. This should not be such a big deal ordinarily, except it is.

See Liz is about 34 years old. She decided to pursue a degree against all odds, cut her hair short and shared a class with 19 year olds who downloaded I phone apps while she raised her 3 children and juggled coursework and wife duties.

As if this was not enough, her husband was diagnosed with Hepatitis B, a disease that is 50-100 times more infectious that HIV. His treatment was costly and now more than ever the children needed her.

While all this was happening she got mugged after lectures, twice. One time it was so bad she literally crawled home. After such a dreadful year, she graduated with honours.

How many people do you know who have had everything given to them on a silver platter and still collected more retakes than awards?

She is super woman and she does not even know it 🙂

2) Jenny is a good friend who is quiet but somehow surfaces at the right time. Our friendship isn’t conventional and sometimes we go a month without speaking. Nonetheless, we mourn and laugh together.

About three months ago I was in a rut. I took her to lunch because I had been procrastinating. During the meal, she broke down in a crowded restaurant. I was crashed. I would later find out her family was losing their family home to the bank because of one mistake and Jenny had also been recently cheated on by someone she thought was her soul mate.

All my problems became inconsequential and I felt terrible for being so helpless.

For all the time I have known her, she has been unhappy at her work place and constantly getting so close to getting a good job but only managing to come in second place.

Well, on this suddenly cheery Monday she let me know she had finally got a good job and was to start right away. She would then move her mother to a nice place and begin to save, something she had been unable to do in all her un fulfilling yet demanding positions.

All things work together for the good of those who love HIM!!

Why is life precious? Well, we are granted second chances, sometimes even more and it is up to us to utilise them, over and over again.

Are you the only one who is suffering? No! In fact, your misery pales in comparison to the ‘happy’ smart lady in your office. She smiles because she is out of tears.

What can you do?

Treat life like the miracle it is and your loved ones like the precious gifts they are 🙂

 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

xoxo

suuun

Life; Live it-Love it!

I once watched an episode of Grey’s anatomy in which a patient was diagnosed with lung cancer.
She was  against the idea of surgery because she was scared of death.
That was not all, however,she had spent her entire life trying to do right, follow the rules, be good. She had never smoked nor sipped an alcoholic beverage and yet here she was, battling lung cancer.

The possibility of death made her realise she needed to ‘live more.’ She began to eat a lot of junk, drink herself silly and slept with a stranger, among other things, to make up for the years she ‘lost.’

Whereas I have lived a life I am mostly happy with, I could relate with this feeling. *Never mind that she was a fictional character, blonde and what not*

Just this weekend I wished I was an alcoholic or at least a social drinker. I needed a ‘quick fix’ to the disappointment and pain that lurked within my heart. Perhaps a few drinks would give me the ‘forced joy’ I badly needed. However, when you have a conscience as loud as mine, you think about these things, maybe even say them out loud, then you take a bath and go to bed.

“Don’t you ever get the feeling that all your life is going by and you’re not taking advantage of it? Do you realize you’ve lived nearly half the time you have to live already?” 

You do know what I mean, right? Sometimes you think; ‘There’s gotta be more to life.’ Of course each action has its repercussions but hey, if it is for the right reasons, I guess it is worth a try.

I have been thinking a lot about all the things I have always wanted to do whether simply for fun,adventure or outright curiosity. I can start to consciously ‘chase’ each of those in my power. Why? Because no one else will do it for me.

“…No– but ours is a journey into ourselves, a walk with God every day! Ours is a book that we write, a smile, a love, a tear, a lust, an awakening, a learning, a joy, a laughter, a memory, a dream, a vision, a love, a love, a love and a love. Our life is now. And Heaven is always there, but this life isn’t always there, but this life isn’t always here. Heaven is always there for us but this life is a gift to us!

When I quit my job three months ago, I completely had no plan. I mentally gave myself till December to decide what I wanted to do with my life. It was a bold and perhaps stupid move, but it was my decision.

I have always believed in making my own mistakes. For example, I would rather get a job on my own where I am paid peanuts, rather than have a hook up by a brother to my friend’s dad. In the event that I mess up, or excel for that matter, the boss should be able to blame/praise me not whoever was the middle man.

It was this conviction that made it easy for me to respond adequately when ‘concerned parties’ asked “What next, How can you quit without a plan?” and other related queries. Those who understood, however, knew that for me to walk away from something, I must have good reason.

I digress.

All these months later, I have managed to somehow survive. I am pretty sure if I put my mind to it, I can last several more months.

My point? If you have an option, do not stay in an unhappy relationship, sad work place or failing business. Work towards a plan to walk out, to survive after you move on, to be happy with your choice, and ensure the life you are living is yours; not so  your spouse, boss or family can be happy but so you can be happy.

Everyday really is an opportunity to start over.

“Existing is going through the motions of life with no zeal and feeling you have no control; living means embracing all that this large world has to offer and not being afraid to take chances. The beauty of living is knowing you can always start over and there’s always a chance for something better.”

I have a list of those things I want to do, some have timelines others don’t. In case yours is somewhere at the back of the mind, try and write/type it out.  Tell a close friend or two. Once you are done, begin to organise it; what can be done now, what should wait, which one needs savings, company etc. It helps.

I will use an example from my life. This year I did not make resolutions, just a few goals and promises to myself.

Not all of them became reality but some did plus I have one month to tray and fulfill the rest.

I love to travel, I have several dream destinations. I ‘live them’ through photographs, movies or my friends who have been there. Maybe I will visit them one day, maybe I won’t but in the mean time, why not tour my very own Uganda?

It is as easy as navigating google, having a few conversations or even reading travel pieces/guides.

This year I have taken a few mini holidays on a tight budget. Even after everyone said Gulu was such an expensive town, I found my unemployed self managing to stay over for several days and not being imprisoned for failing to pay for drinks and a meal.

There have been weekend getaways with friends to Jinja and Entebbe, oh plus Bule island off Ggaba. Small and affordable but they brought me so much joy.

I know people who earn three times what I used to earn that are envious when I share tales of these escapades. This is simply because they have not tried.

Some individuals and companies have made it their business to make travelling a whole lot more convenient and accessible in and around Uganda. See Sabili and Roundbob. These are just the ones I know.

Don’t be afraid to ask or indulge 🙂

“What’s the good of being alive if you don’t do anything?”

In semi-related news,I am skeptical about receiving ‘gifts’ in  form of grand gestures, heck I even raise my brows at small ones, especially if they are directly ‘for me.’ Although I am comfortable when it doesn’t benefit me. Once I see it coming, I sometimes think, ‘What is this person’s motive?’ ‘ How will I repay them?’ It is wrong but you know, I can’t help it.

The irony is that I am often in people’s business, trying to know how and when to help/jump in or whatever it is called. Yes, it is a flaw that I am aware of.

So, in a bid to practice what I preach, I am going to try and be more welcoming of these displays of affection, whether small or otherwise and just..you know, ‘go with the flow.’

“You could continue to repress and think about the life you could have had or you can take what you want from life and see that the world finds that person infinitely more irresistible…

If it is a new expensive phone(that you can afford) which will make you more cheery and keep you busy, walk to that shop and buy it without remorse, If the girl you have had a crush on for years is in a failing relationship, go ahead and tell her how you feel. She might never leave the douche, and you may not get a chance but what good is keeping this info bottled up when you are not certain about tomorrow?

“I don’t want to be that kind of person…so afraid of making a wave that I never swim at all.”

 This reminds me, must swim too! 😉

ocean

I have always been terrible with taking risks, in a way, I still am.. However, this year has taught me to follow my heart even when I know it will get bruised..but then again, to also have the wisdom to withstand a small cut on myself instead of inflicting a full-bloody wound on someone else.

The trouble with life is not that it ends too soon, it is that we take so long to begin it.

Oh and before I go, I urge you to use your skill, it might not be direct like a beautiful singing voice or magic with the paint brush. Maybe your laughter is infectious so you need to continue lightening up the mood of those around you. Perhaps you are great at bargaining and can use this to be a shopping buddy to those that need it or better still become a personal shopper for them..Maybe you make great business decisions and yet tonnes of people around you have money saved up without proper direction..<Insert relevant skill/talent> The list is endless and you know what? The time is now!

“Every year I live I am more convinced that the waste of life lies in the love we have not given, the powers we have not used, the selfish prudence that will risk nothing, and which shirking pain, misses happiness as well. No one ever yet was the poorer in the long run for having once in a lifetime ‘let out all the length of the reins.”