31

Can you sniff 2017? I know I can. Once I begin inhaling the fragrance of Christmas, the year’s end is often the next thought.

Last night I was at a vigil when the mother called in tears. I could barely make out what she was saying but I quickly figured it was news of another death. I went silent.

It feels like this year, I have attended more funerals than celebrations. When it isn’t a beautiful young soul who was just starting out, it is a parent leaving behind innocent little ones or even ‘unfinished business,’ which I feel like we all have. On top of all the salty seas that have constantly had to dissolve, this anguish has greatly affected how I think, how I feel and how I live. Fortunately, some of the outcomes have been positive.

While I have for the past few years been a great advocate for ‘leave whatever job, relationship or other situation which brings you more sadness than joy,’ my conviction has developed by leaps with each sudden farewell. The fleetingness of life increasingly affects my decisions and I find myself imposing these ideals even on poor unsuspecting victims.

A couple of months ago, I found myself ‘lecturing’ Carol about her choices, giving 150% to a job that only milked her, stole her sense of self-worth and lowered her self- esteem. It was only on my way home that I realised I had only met her once and should probably have found a more neutral topic of discussion, climate change? I shrugged it off as ‘motherly instinct’ and consoled myself in the knowledge that I did it in good faith. Last week she sent me a Facebook message explaining that she had suffered a breakdown and her doctor attributed it to her working environment. Carol has since tendered her resignation.

Unfortunately, many young people I interact with have convinced themselves that they should settle for less. On the surface they seem confident, ambitious, happy, and vivacious even. However, they are in bad relationships because “all women/men are the same.” They work crazy hours for little pay and no potential for growth because “it is the same everywhere.” Sadly for the latter, even I have to advise cautiously because I understand that the unemployment burden is very REAL. I also know that we can’t have passion and dreams for breakfast and dinner.

While it is unlikely that you will love people into changing their world view, it is also important that we support our loved ones. We need to take it upon ourselves to reignite their flame when we realise it is burning out, to have the courage to speak out even when we know the truth will sting.

I know there is a thin line between meddling and some of us might prefer to keep silent and ‘keep the peace’ but in my opinion, that is stealing a portion of what we need to give our loved ones.

 

What would you have loved to see/hear when you were younger? Did you (not) have someone holding your hand and showing you direction? Did their presence, or lack thereof affect the person you are today?

What happens when our would-be mentors in the work place are the biggest source of negative energy? What is the expected outcome when our parents tell us we are worthless and/or compare us to siblings/other families without giving us a chance to shine in whichever path we have chosen? Where do we turn when our partners, our friends who were meant to be our biggest cheerleaders become the greatest source of darkness?

Hurt people, hurt people. Can we think about this the next time we inflict pain on others or feel like we too have been wounded?

Many a time we go through life like we are immortal, other times, like we are untouchable. Once in a while, we acknowledge that we might be gone tomorrow but quickly forget and go back to our old ways. I know how guilty I am of this. While we don’t know the day or hour when we shall say goodbye, we do know what makes our hearts smile. We know what it feels like to be broken, betrayed, unloved, alone, forgotten, alienated..ashamed. It is because we know and have felt all this that we should not inflict such pain on others, and yet we still do.

dessert

The year seems like it is already over but in reality we have plenty of time. 31 days.

31 days to

love yourself

pamper yourself

remember yourself

teach yourself

31 days to love others, unashamedly-

31 days to say

I am sorry

I was wrong

I forgive you

I will change <and mean it>

31 days to let go,

Of that which steals your light and shine

31 days to chase

That which brings you joy, even if you don’t catch it <now>

31 days to be that person whom you wish you had in your life.

 

I can’t promise what the outcome will be, but I hope it will help you with a fresh start, or better still, a happier journey that will flow into the new year.

Xx

 

fear

 

 

 

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This one is for YOU

I wrote this 4 years ago and recently discovered it when Gloria asked if I ever shared it on my blog.

I decided to post it here. May it remind someone, today that they are never alone.

 

This one is for the girl who can’t sleep at night because her father is coming late yet again with woman number five, six oops she lost count

It is for the single mother who raised her daughter but has only gotten insults and lies in return, tales she can’t recount-

This isn’t for the ‘perfect family’ that goes to Sunday brunch or spends their weekend in Zanzibar

It is for the ones who don’t know where their next meal will come from because daddy is always in the bar, mummy’s pennies hard to come by-

For the girl who lost her youth to chores and fending for her younger siblings when she would really like a day off, okay maybe that’s too much. How about an hour or two just for her?

 

Here is one for the man whose father abandoned him as a child and still wants nothing to do with him many years later –

The daughter who did not get to meet her parents, unsure if they are proud of her wherever they are

The son whose dad and mom left just before he achieved his dreams

 

Today isn’t about the curvy confident girl who walks with an aura of splendour

It is for the one who is uncomfortable with her sexuality

Lesbian, asexual, transexual-

 

That girl who often hears words like fat, plus size, overweight, weight loss, exercise, gym bla bla bla gosh, when does it all end? So, I love juicy chicken, sue me.

But ooh, that isn’t all; the ‘small’ girl isn’t safe either. She is skinny, she is dieting, and she must be anorexic. Do you ever get clothes that actually fit? they ask. You must be spending all your time on fashion magazines, they add. Have they ever heard of genes? I guess not-

 

This one is for that boy who was bullied throughout school and thought the world would be more sympathetic

But all he has got is cruelty and thoughts of suicide. Surely everyone would be happier without him

It is for that girl who lost her self-esteem as a child and is still waiting for it to somehow grow back. Mummy can you hear her? No, wrong selection, it is she that took it away in the first place.

It is for the boy who doesn’t belong

Who stands in the middle of a crowd and feels all alone

It is for the girl who wants to know God

But can’t take the first step

The one who tried to walk the path with Jesus

But had no one to hold her hand through it all

 

This one is for the wrongfully accused that still serve sentences

The individuals whose existence is questioned because of their resemblance- to this tribe, that terrorist group, no matter how unrelated-

It is for the virgin who was shunned by her partner

The repentant thief that was judged by an angry mob

The girl who was abandoned after her last abortion

Even if she did it to please the man she so dearly loved-

The mother who held her baby for the first time and smiled

Blocking thoughts of the father that fled-

The girl whose little angel didn’t make it to her first birthday

The boy who only hears stories of birthday cake

 

It is for the broken hearted man who swears to stay alone forever

Because the love of his life said she would never leave but sort of meant;

I will never leave you, Mark, James, Earl and pretty much every guy that comes my way

It is for all the smiles you put on another’s face

Even as you weep profusely thinking about your life-

 

This one is for the hidden truths

The silent cries

The secret lives

The unspoken pain

The broken families

The poker faces

This one is for you…not the ‘you’ that the world sees but the ‘you’ who battles every day;

The real Y.O.U

 

lonely

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What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

This is probably the most excited I have been about writing a blog post! Perhaps it is because I don’t have to write much, or maybe the fact that it is something close to my heart. Either way. I can’t wait to share!

When I read the book Lean in, by Sheryl Sandberg at the beginning of this year, I found myself taking notes, nodding and generally falling in love with the brain of this woman. It is not that what she was ‘saying’ was new, more like she had evidence to back what I felt, what several women have felt for generations.

We are often afraid to risk, to lean in, to take positions of leadership. I mean some of us cannot even take a simple compliment! I can’t count the number of times I have been asked to write a brief about myself, a personal statement or just a simple cover letter and gone numb. I start looking around for someone who can help me describe myself! It is a bit ludicrous when you think about it but it is true. Ask me to point out good qualities about my loved ones, and I can go all day. If you can relate to this, fear not. You are not alone. If you can’t, good for you. You survived the bug!

Do you love your job or is it what your family expects of you, what society finds acceptable? Are you happy in your relationship or afraid to let go because ‘what if I don’t fine someone else?’ These are some of the questions I would like you to contemplate as you go along.

what would you do 1

Please watch this speech by Sheryl, as she talks to these graduates about leaning in and the real world to catch my drift.

I asked a few ladies what they would do if they weren’t afraid. It was so funny because some gave me 431 follow up questions, others told me to give them time to edit their pictures while some were even more excited than I was. Can I just say a quick shout out to technology for making it all that much more bearable?

Some ladies shared about career, what they should have done way back or what they can still do. One even had a complete ‘how to’ guide :D. See for yourself

 

Kyarikunda

Dru

ritah

Sharon

Pesh

 

shunkunu

 

Gloria

A few women have dreams that they are yet to chase, talents they have’t fully exploited, plans to do more with their time, pursue another degree, start a program..Do you fall under this category?

Esteri

Damalie

Karungi

Hannah

Kemmy

Carolyne

Is it a character trait you can’t seem to shake off, does society often determine how you act or feel, are you unable to forgive,is there something you want to say but are too afraid to?

Kamara

Celine

 

E

Violet

Laura

Felicia

I must say, this exercise got me thinking. I think I am going to just pack a little bag and run away after clicking ‘upload’….if I wasn’t too afraid.

I have a sticker on my wall. It reads “Courage does not always roar, sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying I will try again tomorrow.”

I hope that you who is reading this can try again tomorrow, that you can face your fear. The worst that could happen is that you will fail and guess what, failure is for mortals like us!

P.s: If you would like to take part in my ‘what if you weren’t afraid challenge,’ send me an email here.

A huge thank you to the ladies who participated, bearing my incessant reminders and letting me share a part of you with ‘the world.’

what would you do 2

The Pressure!

I went for a job interview once. Years later, I happened to get access to the evaluation form that had been used as I spoke.

I had scored highly on confidence. I laughed so hard! How was that even possible?! I had been a total nervous wreck. All my clothes looked like rugs, my vocabulary was at 2 on a scale of 1-10 and my heartbeat could have been at the level of a marathon runner. Somehow the facade worked.

Fast forward to this week, I am supposed to receive a Young Achiever’s Award, “Heroine of the Year.”

It is an honour I couldn’t have foreseen at the beginning of this year or even dreamed of.

When I checked for the dictionary definition of ‘hero,’ this is what I found “a person, typically a man, who is admired for their courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.

For a heroine, it applies and just changes to ‘woman.’ Who am I that I should be considered one?

40-40 first got honoured by the Rotaract Club of Kampala South in October this year, we went on to win a Social Media Award last month. As if these pleasant surprises weren’t enough, there is one more in store just as the year ends.

This week’s award shall be an opportunity for my team to get great exposure and possibly have more ‘influential’ people listening and joining in. I am excited at this prospect but shaking like a leaf at the thought of that large audience. Woah!! :O

Despite the fact that I have known about this day for several weeks, it is still surreal. I have been getting nightmares even during the day and it doesn’t help that these past couple of weeks have been extremely trying.

The obvious thing is that I am being given an opportunity to speak about something I am passionate about, that is my life, not some random theory that a genius came up with hundreds of years ago. This should make it easier, right? WRONG! The pressure is even rising with each letter I type here.

For fear of sounding like a drama queen, I shall henceforth compose myself. If we meet and I can only nod or shake my head, just go with it. I have warned you.

Did I mention the cold that decided to attack last night? As in on top of tripping at the Serena, stuttering as I pronounce the dignitaries names, now other thoughts of ‘achhhooo’ after every sentence have began to fill my imagination. Over 600 people shall see this, in 5D :O. Isn’t life grand?

nervous

Drama aside, I have only ever attended one ‘Young Achievers’ event. It was three years ago and I got an invite for my friend and I from a pal who was part of the organising committee.

The event was so big; we barely saw or heard anyone. Instead we chatted and giggled for the most part of the night. I remember clapping for a few winners and when my friend was commended for assisting the team. The rest is a blur.

Everyone left with a ‘Young Achievers Awards’ bag and a magazine among other things. I have used that bag to carry snacks to work and sometimes a laptop or reading material since then.

It only occurred to me recently that this bag is actually symbolic of a dream that I never even dreamed coming true.

Whereas I am still overwhelmed by “Heroine of the Year ,”title  and everything it represents, I am also honoured that anyone would think of me this way, let alone have an award dedicated to this sentiment.

However, one of the most puzzling bits of this state of affairs is the fact that I am convinced what the team and I are doing isn’t extraordinary. Not only did Jesus teach us to love our neighbours as we love ourselves, it should also be natural that as human beings we look out for each other because we are ‘One.’ Notwithstanding belief in God, race,tribe,level of income or any other ‘barriers.’

Our successful events, accolades and attention are just an added part of the package but really all we are doing is fulfilling our purpose, as we should.

That said, I am extremely proud to represent 40 days over 40 smiles, this award is acknowledgement of all your hard work and perseverance plus proof that HE who started a good work in you shall surely see it to the very end. You chose to join a good fight without any coercion and have remained vigilant despite all the toils and snares. I need you to always remember that I am eternally grateful for each prayer, helping hand or donation; the team’s long days and nights when we have an event, never ending meetings and constant call for sacrifice; everyone who has followed or supported in any way. It is not something I take for granted.

To my amazing family and friends who have accepted to dream and believe with me, I can’t even begin to try and repay you for I shall fail miserably.

To the organisers of the Young Achievers Awards, thank you for the recognition, not just of our work but youth in Uganda generally. It is no secret that our time is now, and we need every platform we can get.

To the Lord, the author of it all, we can only try to ensure we colour your pages with grace.

In case you hadn’t noticed, this is my feeble attempt at some closing remarks so that if I am dumbfounded on D-day, you can refer to this blog post 😉

Bless you!