Getting out of your comfort zone

Earlier this week, someone that I am only just getting to know described me as ‘limber.’ It was surrounded by other adjectives so I almost missed it but thankfully I didn’t. I did not know what this word meant so I quickly checked it out. Available synonyms included ‘flexible.’ I like flexible!
For many years, I was a slave to my own habits and values. I was far from flexible. Things had to be done a certain way and that was it. I still have my moments but I have consciously chosen to be more open minded overtime. There was a time when I had every minute of every day thought through. If one person switched up an appointment, my plans crumpled as did my mood. If I kept time and the other person didn’t, I waited impatiently for a concrete explanation. All I often got was a simple apology if I was lucky. I wasn’t helping anyone by keeping an invisible black book. In fact, I was only hurting myself. Of course I also had to admit to myself that I had 3,432 bad habits that my loved ones had to deal with. Why did I have to scold them each time for not living up to certain standards? As you can imagine, this OCD reduction cannot happen overnight. Every now and then we have a relapse. It is not all doom and gloom though, some people actually change for the better after you have yelled enough 🙂
This weekend I did two things that were out of my comfort zone. They weren’t exactly planned for prior, at least not completely but I patted myself on the back for not running away simply out of discomfort.
Exhibit A
This gentleman I will call Mr. K asks that we meet on Saturday so that he could give me some ‘bricks’ for the dormitory. I agreed and waited for him to suggest a venue. He did. A sports bar. In the afternoon. During Premier League season. I thought of several possible excuses but I kept them to myself. Instead I figured, I would get in and get out. There was a problem with this plan though. Just picking the money and leaving would not be polite. The other option had its own issues though, stay and chat in a place where people clearly came to watch football not talk? I would endure option 2. I had to.
Thankfully I found Mr.K seated by the door. If adrenaline had a smell, it greeted me at the door. The bad news was he was surrounded by at least 8 friends. Efforts to introduce me were futile. Guys had come for soccer. I might as well have been a rucksack on the chair. This worked in my favour.
We did talk though, with outbursts of ‘Laba guy ono’ or ‘Goaaal…’ and other football banter. I finished my bottle of Krest in record time. Finally it was half time and the group could now ‘talk.’ He introduced me and what I do and did the same for me. Give me a one on one with a stranger any day or a room full where I can make eye contact only when I choose to but this? Can the ground swallow me up already? Very soon we were talking about 4040 and bricks and business cards were being exchanged, pledges made and cash handed over. Uneasiness pays! Well, I stayed for a bit longer and asked to be excused.
As I left, I saw some friends. I was determined to say hello and leave. Eh, we talked another former colleague into a pledge and got into other random conversations that never ended. Each time we began, someone almost scored or got a foul (is this the spelling/right way to say it?) I refused to eat or drink because I knew what it meant. I can actually pretend to enjoy some football matches and can tell if it was interesting or uneventful. However, setting and company play a big role.
I fled soon after and one of my most interesting boda rides yet (and I have had quite a few) When I got home, I narrated the abridged version to my mom and she said. “Would anyone have found you in your room and handed you that money?” The correct answer is no…so perhaps I need to get me a team to support and train myself in the art of getting emotional about a game.
About a month ago, I was invited to give a talk at the end of August. I asked what the topic was and was told to choose my own. I asked about my audience and the response was “young people like you.”
I reached the venue and suddenly my notes needed to be heavily edited or not used at all. Thankfully the session began with mass which calmed me down. Why did I need to calm down? Well, I am always nervous when I have to speak but this time my audience of about 100 was so diverse, I couldn’t keep up. In the front were little ones, 3-10 years old, then some teens, followed by twenty somethings and lastly their parents! Seriously, the oldest person was probably 65 years old. How to use a language that appeals to each of them, without them falling asleep or resorting to their phones, neighbours and private games was a paradox. Somehow, I did it. My favourite participant was the three year old who said “I want to be a doctor to treat people well,” when I asked them to share their dreams. She was so cute and confident. None of the teens were about that life, till I walked over to them and put them on the spot.
I had to run soon after the talk but one of the youth out up her hand to say she was thankful because even though she is an orphan, someone looked after her and she is now a C.F.O of a company. A few others asked how to work with 4040 and I was surprised by some texts during the week. A lady who knows mom called later that night. She was exclaiming that the talk made her husband cry.
I shall tell you the truth. I left that place unsure if I had even got through to anyone. Honestly, I was too busy worrying about what could go wrong to pay attention to little details.
The moral? Get out of your comfort zone and the results might pleasantly surprise you. What have you done differently today?



The fault in our stars

That’s the thing about pain, it demands to be felt.

When Raymond gave me the movie “The fault in our Stars.” He warned me that there would be lots of tears involved.
It is for that reason that I put it very far from me, waiting for the ‘right moment.’
They say ‘misery loves company’ but I find that when I am at my lowest, the last thing I need is to find out that someone else is in pain.
I had been having one bad day after another and as a result, I did not need any pain inducing movies or activities.
What I needed was a few happy endings and perhaps a chance to be invisible for a while. *Didn’t happen*

When I realised things were not changing, I decided to give the movie a chance and it is from it that I heard the phrase “That’s the thing about pain, it demands to be felt.”
Not that this was an epiphany or anything but it perfectly summarised what was going on inside.
Ever been in a place; where you did not want to hear phrases like “It gets better,’ or ‘Hang in there?’ Have you had to pretend that everything is okay when in fact it is the exact opposite.
Are there times when it was your ‘duty’ to be strong and so you did precisely that even if you dealt with fear after fear?
Did you ever need to turn to someone only to find they were not there?
It happens to all of us, at some point.
It is in these moments that self pity might creep up and you seek every ‘portion’ you can find that will bring even a speck of positive vibes, if only for a minute.
Although the movie mainly centred on victims of cancer, it was beautiful in so many other ways. Yes, it had me unashamedly wailing like a little child.
The tears might have been induced by the characters, but deep within so many emotions were aroused.
Aches from the thought of death, the real victims I have encountered who have lost the battle to cancer or are still struggling with it. The families, friends and care takers who are learning to adapt albeit sorrowfully. It was pretty devastating.
It ended. I meditated. It stayed with me.
Fast forward, to a few days later.
We were all set for Akiba, ready to pain the house, put up playing places and material for the kids who are struggling with cancer and make merry.
I was excited and restless.
The skies seemed to have other plans and I began to anticipate the “It’s raining, I can’t make it’ messages. A few of them came in but I was overwhelmed by the number of people who turned up despite the terrible weather. The kind of loyalty you do not find everyday.
We played indoor games during the downpour and it was so much fun 😀
When the tea arrived, it was just what the doctor had ordered. A huge ‘tumpeco’ (mug) all to myself 🙂
The cleaning, painting, building and at time demolishing (ssshhhh) finally began. People were like worker bees. I have not seen that amount of dedication and team work in a long time.
They did not even want to have lunch before the work was done.
My heart was just all kinds of warm and fuzzy watching all this.

akiba paint

akiba washing

paint 2

One pose then back to work

One pose then back to work

I had to run and give a talk at a women’s conference but I felt like missing even a few minutes of the ‘Akiba pimping’ would kill me. I know. I know.

Akiba with kds
You know how a young mother can leave her son with a sister or even her own mother and call to check almost every 10 minutes? Even if she knows the little one is in safe, experienced loving hands? Yep. That is the best way I can explain it.
Immediately after the talk, I rushed back to see what was happening. Not before a young lady, Daphne* asked for my contacts.
I shall share an excerpt of the email she has sent me.
Thank you so much for what you do to bring a smile to children in Uganda. Growing up as an orphan made me go           through various challenges but luckily, I was able to study and graduate.
I have no stable job but believe I don’t need a lot of money to help the less fortunate. I believe I can volunteer with you and bring a smile to some children.
I therefore request to be part of your team and look forward to changing lives.
After reading this email, I was reminded of what 40-40 is all about.
It is not easy or painless but it is certainly worth it. (Also, pain demands to be felt so we shall have to accept these demands, no?)
The feeling of joy in my heart from the experiences this journey has brought me is almost palpable.
It is also quite evident that I have been blessed in more ways that I ever could repay.
Related: Christmas is here 🙂

baby Jesus