Ride Along

Last night I took an uber at about 21:55. I usually sit in the front when I am alone but I let Karen have the co-driver’s seat as I placed my ‘luggage’ in the back. Some people feel safer at the back but I am more comfortable studying my chauffeur in this position. I digress.

Shortly after dropping off Karen, he initiated a conversation.

*Hakim*: How is work with your organisation?

Me: Which organisation?

Him: You do fundraising or something…?

Me: How did you know?
* I notice the donation boxes I placed in the car before getting in*

Oh…you saw the boxes. <Face palm> Work is good

Him: What exactly do you do?

Me: We work with vulnerable children to improve their literacy. Right now we are working in Makindye division.

He asked several other questions about how we started, what we have achieved and how we raise funds. . As we were nearing Old Kampala he said “I would also like to start paying monthly subscription, from January. I was in total awe.

‘When did my pitching skills get this good?’ I thought to myself. Just a few minutes into the ride and he wants to subscribe? It was suspicious.

He asked me about what my parents think of this decision and remarked. “If only Uganda had 100 more of you, we would be in a better place. You are so young yet you are doing so much to improve lives.” I muttered an awkward thank you and was grateful to be at the back sans eye contact.

I realise the conversation has been heavily one-sided and begin to ask him about what he does. He mentioned he owns a transport company. We had just been talking about the need to hire a car for a scheduled 4040 trip to deliver children’s books across the country at our meeting earlier. I grinned as I made a mental note.

We were now getting closer to my home and the most bizarre thing happened. Hakim began to slow down and I noticed the indicators were rightly directed towards my stop. He was off by just one house and I had not given him any directions up until this point. I told him it was the next turn and he quietly drove- then parked.

Me: Have you dropped me off before?

Hakim: *Laughs*

Me: How did you know where to turn?

Him: The GPS

Me: That is a lie. My location shows a landmark close to home, not the actual house

Him: You are a big woman, I know where you live

Me: *Freaking out a little* Please tell me you have been here before so my heart can settle

Him: Relax Esther. One day you will know

Me: I am going to spend the night trying to figure this out. I will probably not sleep. Please explain.

By this time my left leg is out of the car but the rest of my body is intact as I wait for an explanation. I was holding onto his fare, my own little ransom.

******

At about this time last month, I set off from home to make deliveries to 3 locations. Donation boxes to be placed at Karveli restaurant, Hair by Zzziwa and the Kurb. They were fragile and I opted to hire a car. When we got to destination number 2, Krishna mart mall, I got out of the co-driver’s seat to pick a box from the back seat. The driver had forgotten that I would have to pick something from the back. He reversed the car to get a good parking spot and ran over my left foot in the process. I let out a silent scream and he noticed a little too late. He yelled in disbelief, with a million apologies. Amidst my shock, I asked him to drive towards the front to free my foot which was still stuck.

What happened next stunned me as much as my small ‘audience.’ I carried the box and walked right towards the security check point. The security guards asked me if I needed help or a hospital perhaps but I just shook my head and kept walking. Even my tears froze. It is kind of funny now. *SMH*

When I got back, the driver could barely look at me. His gaze kept drifting towards my foot and I kept on repeating “I’m fine.” I got to the Kurb and asked him to end the trip. He tried to refuse the money but I wouldn’t hear of it. I kept reminding him it was an accident.

My plan was to make the last drop off and take a boda boda (motorbike) to the office. I received a phone call as I waited for management to confirm where I could place the box. It was the driver. He said he was waiting for me so that he could take me wherever I had to go. I tried to fight it but he would not budge. I gave in.

The trip was quite short but he spent it apologising and asking about my foot every 2 minutes. The pain was mild and I had so much on my mind, I had quickly moved on. I hoped he would do the same, for his own sanity.

We finally got to the office and I assured him I was okay. My friends/colleagues were equally shocked by the tale. Besides mild pain, I really was fine. No swelling or (visible) blood clot. After a couple of days, I was as good as new.

*****

“You were very kind to me after that accident in Kisementi, Hakim said. You forgot me but I can never forget you.” At this point I was utterly dumbfounded.

“I didn’t even tell my wife, nothing like that had ever happened to me. I knew that God would bring you back into my life. When you requested the uber today, it did not show your name or face but when you called, your name came up because I had saved your number to check on your foot.”

I was completely speechless. What are the odds that the same person who drove me to drop off the boxes appeared on the same day I had to take them back home, almost exactly one month later…? **&^%(@?<<!

Eerie.

In the words of Hakim “Sometimes bad things happen to you and you have no idea why but there is a reason for them. You just never know what God has planned for your future.”

I have nothing more to add. Listen to Hakim

Happy new year!

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Drop of sunshine

The other day at dinner my brother said to me, “You have some really good friends.” I smiled and nodded, nothing I would say could fill that space sufficiently.

Last month after 4040’s annual fundraiser, 5 aside UG, Vivian* called me up. She had seen the surplus we made from the event and decided to round off the figure. I was really pleased by the offer because we had not made as much as anticipated. Vivian and I planned to meet for lunch that day but our schedules failed to match so I went by her office instead. She handed me the money casually while I sat there wide eyed and grinning. Heavy on my heart that day was the situation my friend Bridget was going through. She has been unemployed for a while and countless job applications later, the hunt seems more and more futile. We talked a bit about her qualifications and Vivian agreed to keep her ears open in case of any opportunity.

Fast forward to later that month, during one of my whatsapp chats with Vivian, she asked me to remind her about ‘something’ on the 22nd of July. I did not ask questions because it wasn’t the first time she had been sneaky with information. I always let her be no matter how curious I am. I made a note to remind her and even forgot about that conversation. On Wednesday, 20th July, I sent her a message reminding her. I was sure it was about a conversation we needed to have although I had no idea what she needed to tell me. We agreed to meet two days later.

That Friday I got up with a to-do list for days and spent the better half of the morning trying to figure out what I could cancel. It turned out everything was important. I decided to take a stroll to Vivian’s work place just before heading to Kibuli for 4040’s weekly literacy sessions. We took a short walk instead and it was then that she gave me the most pleasant surprise I have had in ages!

She handed me an envelope and asked me to pass the money on to my friend Bridget. “That can be her upkeep as she looks for something to do.”

What?

How?

When?

Where?

Which?

These were my follow up questions as I picked my jaw off the pavement where I had stopped to stare at this creature. She downplayed it in true Vivian style. I can’t cry. I won’t cry I thought to myself. She gracefully assured me she would deny me and walk away if I made a fool of myself. Smh.

I gave her a huge hug and we soon parted ways. My legs could not move fast enough. I needed to go to a mobile money point to send Bridget the money and call her to give this testimony. I finally found a spot on Dewinton road, started the transaction and called her before it was completed. Poor girl was in shock and started to cry. The mobile money agent was probably eavesdropping because I could see her face light up as the conversation continued.

 

kindness

Vivian and Bridget have never met. They probably will one day but Vivian saw a need and from the goodness of her heart, decided to bring some sunshine into a ‘stranger’s’ life. By now, I guess you know where I am going with this so I will go ahead;

You probably know someone who is stuck in a rut. Maybe even several people. Each time you think about helping them, you convince yourself that the world isn’t yours to save or that there is only so much that you can do as an individual. I urge you to do that ‘small bit’ whose impact you are undermining.

Perhaps it is your friend, a colleague, member of the family or even a stranger whose story you have heard about. Whether it is an anonymous donation, a phone call to check how they are doing, a month’s worth of grocery shopping or a simple visit that will leave their spirits lifted, just do it. Do whatever you feel compelled to do in your capacity.

Chances are high that they may not be able to repay you for it. Chances are also really high that they will pay it forward, probably not now, but eventually.

Lately the news is even more frightening than horror movies, but oh! there is also so much good in the world- be part of it; make it known.

3: Still here

It is said the two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.

I ‘accidentally’ found out my purpose at 24, as a passionate, curious, naive and mostly unstoppable woman.

On February 27 2012 when I opened that 40-40 page, I could not have imagined that three years later, we would still be here. Yes, I became we and to me, that is the biggest achievement thus far!

This year a friend even bought me a gift on this special day. It was heart-warming knowing that my baby was being celebrated. Best of all, it was by somebody other than myself.

This weekend also holds special meaning. It was during the Easter weekend that a group of friends whom I had collected over the years came together for what we mostly believed was a ‘one time thing.’ For two days I had people I had been with years ago in Primary school up till my ‘working life’ all gathered together-celebrating these amazing children that barely had family but had a whole lot of love.

Over the past three years, I have changed. We all have.

I will be the first to admit that it was easier then. There was no pressure of an organisation and all its structures, being young(er) helped because there was less to worry about and people were mostly gracious because it was a ‘casual’ arrangement. No one had signed up for forever. Wait a minute. No one had signed up, at all.

According to an article I read on one of those days when I was fretting about the future, it takes about 18-24 months to determine if a start-up shall succeed/fail. We are past 36 months (yaay!) but I am quite certain my definition of success is different from that of the business books. Thankfully, I am not running a business 🙂

Which brings me to my next thought; I do not know another Organisation doing what we do, exactly the way we do it. If you have any leads, do point me in the right direction. In the meantime, this ‘virgin land’ means that many mistakes are bound to be made out of ignorance but also because of sheer lack of a manual.  Needless to say, it has been a whirlwind that is difficult to explain to anyone who hasn’t been part of it. Heck, it is even challenging to explain to people who have been there since the days when we were merely attempting to crawl.

This week I was privileged to be featured on NTV’s women and power.  The first thing 50 year old Mr.M asked me was “Who paid the other, you or NTV? That is what it shall always come down to for many people, now and in the future. It is sad. Nonetheless, I doubt any leader ever performs their roles expecting to convert ‘everyone.’ That would be dooming oneself to failure before even beginning. What do we do? We continue no matter what.

The past year has turned emotional pain into a physical reality and vice versa, brought out the worst in people and also challenged almost everything we know and believe-but that is just the grim part.

It has also allowed us to grow as individuals and as an organisation, given us the opportunity to fall over and over again and get up.

For the past couple of years, I have given a recap of the journey in my anniversary blog post as seen here and here but this time, I am compelled to simply celebrate. To celebrate the fact that we are still here.

I still pinch myself when a stranger strikes up a conversation because of our story. Seeing a 4040 tee or wristband, especially on someone I don’t know makes me smile. I am inspired by everyday people who simply believe and go on to act. I am especially excited by children and teens who take part in our activities-they give me hope in abundance. I am overjoyed by the fact that we have to change lives, and work towards it everyday.

Yesterday someone asked me if I am living my dream. The short answer is/was yes.

However, none of it would have happened if I simply stood tall. Alone.

As I reminisce over this three year journey, I would like to give special thanks to the amazing people whom God has placed in my life; Those who joined at the start and never looked back, those who came by along the way and made 4040 home and those individuals who show constant support even across the miles, watching and waiting for an opportunity to help; I celebrate the believers and dreamers whose ‘invisible’ hands picked us up and continue to.

Although love is patient, kind and is not jealous or self-seeking, the world is not complete, it is not without its adversaries. I am glad we had those along the way and hope that we shall always have the wisdom and courage to understand their purpose and fight them off respectively.

To God be the glory for starting all of this and continuing it. I am confident he will carry it on to completion.

May the Easter holiday be glorious and fulfilling for you-no matter what your beliefs are.

Love is universal. No?

Happy 3rd my baby. You scare me. In a good way; mostly.

penda 4040

Me, myself and I

Someone once told me ‘never to start’ if I wanted to live with my loved ones peacefully.

In her view, if you know you aren’t going to do something ‘till death,’ it is better you do not start it at all.

Here is an illustration;

If a man is courting a lady and pulling out as many tricks as possible out of his bag, he should be ready and willing to maintain them when she finally says yes.

That means if you opened the door on date number 1, you should keep this up even on date 762. If you used to tell your wife you loved her ‘curves and edges,’ after her third child, you better be ready to continue complimenting her figure.

If you do not intend to then simply ‘don’t start.’ Now does it make sense?

We had a good argument about this. I explained to her that some things are possible ‘now’ and might not be in future so you need to maximise the opportunity while you still can. If you are wealthy, your children deserve to have the best life you can afford. In the event that something goes terribly wrong, and you become bankrupt for instance, at least they have good memories. Would you regret the ‘good life’ they had or wish they had gotten used to rugs in preparation for this time in their life?

Nevertheless, there are times when her reasoning comes to mind and actually makes some sense.

A few weeks ago, I received a rather ‘hilarious’ text from Kate. It was 8.30 a.m on a hot Monday morning and I was figuring my day out when I noticed light flickering on my phone. My day’s first message- “I can’t believe you have also forgotten my birthday,” it read. *Meanwhile, other people were waking up to ‘Good morning beautiful’ texts…but not me*  I digress.

I was flabbergasted. I was not even dressed to leave the house but in this person’s head the day had already ended! I had actually planned to call later that day and wish her a happy birthday-fail!  After giving it some thought, I figured out the problem. She was so used to receiving a message or call from me at midnight so to her 8.30 was too late.

I really wanted to give her a nice long lecture but I thought it would probably make more sense on a different day. How do I ‘forget’ her birthday and also ruin it by trying to pump some sense into her head? I tried to delicately tell her not to ‘attack’ anyone else because people have ‘real’ problems that do not include the day of her birth.

Alas, a minor investigation a few minutes later proved that I was not the only one who had been grilled for ‘forgetting.’ At this point, I decided to laugh it off instead because it was quite ridiculous.

One of the most glaring characteristics I have noticed amongst the human race, over time is egocentrism, in all shapes and sizes. It starts small and then quickly spreads like a bad rash. Worst of all, we practice it with friends and foes, alike.

After satisfying our selfish desires, everyone else can go hang.

Kate didn’t care if I was okay, where I was or how I had been for the past month that she hadn’t checked on me. It was her birthday and thus the world had to stop and pay homage to her royal highness.

“We have a tendency to want the other person to be a finished product while we give ourselves the grace to evolve.”

I see it begin in simple ways. You are late for a meeting because something important came up but when someone else is held up, World war III must erupt. God forbid another person has an excuse! You are the only one who is entitled. Your lateness was understandable but theirs must be deliberate.

The boss makes little mistakes that cost the firm their reputation and maybe even some clients from time to time. The moment an employee even dares to think about almost, kind of, getting close to such a blunder, they will be insulted in tongues and reminded how worthless they are (Imagine the irony if this employee’s photograph is pinned on the wall as ‘employee of the month’ amidst all this drama)

It is more ‘acceptable’ coming from a superior but our peers are often the biggest culprits.

One day, you are ‘bffs’ and the next you are an adversary simply because you did not live up to the standards you set. <<The universe and its mockery.

The other day I overheard Michael complain. His very good friend owed him money and had taken weeks to pay it. “It is only 1 million shillings but he makes it seem like 20 million,” he added angrily.

It took a lot of self-control for me not to turn my chair around and wash his dirty linen in public.

He of all people would, idyllically be quiet on matters pertaining to money and debt but NO…one must show the world how ‘able’ he is.

See, Michael had been in those shoes not too long ago. He too owed money for months, much less actually.

During this time, however, he purchased a new phone, tyres for his car and even gave it a paint job.

You know those people who get potbellies when they owe you money and you are there chilling with your ‘one pack?’ >>>Michael is the poster child.

In all his wisdom, he saw it fit to share all this ‘good news’ with his creditor even though he had failed to pay up. Of course, his car’s paint job was more urgent than paying up his debt!

I really hope when his daughter tells him her school fees is due, he won’t reply “but sweetie, can’t you see daddy is still working on the swimming pool at home?”

I have been guilty of this selfishness too, we all have but can we at least make an effort, slap ourselves out of it when we notice it creeping in?

DO UNTO OTHERS IMAGE

 

A drop in the ocean

My cousin Jane is studying at a vocational training school in the neighbourhood. Within her first week of lessons, you needed to hide your lesu, kitenge or any other piece of cloth you had. If she got her hands on it, it would be quickly be transformed into a skirt, dress or purse. I am always amazed at how effortless she makes it all seem.
A couple of days ago, we got to talking about school and she mentioned the chores they have to do. I was particularly disturbed by the tale of Racheal*,her classmate who is living with a disability. She has to use a wheel chair for movement and can’t quite take part in most activities. Despite her obvious difficulties, she had recently been told to get off her wheel chair and mop an entire block as a punishment for being ‘lazy.’ The other students looked on in shock and when they tried to speak,(in her defence) they were given their own punishments. Why does someone who has probably got enough torture from society and inner battles have to deal with bullies in form of administrators in a place where she went to learn?
This is just one story out of many such occurrences countrywide.
Jane was still on my mind when I received communication from Joyce, the Director at Happy Times, Luweero. It started well. They got a new entrant to the school, an 8 year old girl.

I was in for a shock when I read the rest of the message.
Mutesi lived in a small village called Kamira with her mother and step father. On one fateful day, she returned from school very hungry.(many schools do not offer lunch which is an extra cost to the parents)
She tried to roast some maize but ended up fainting and falling right into the fire. When the parents got a whiff of the smoke from the kitchen, they got in to find their daughter unconscious. She was rushed to a health centre and later referred to Mulago. She lost both arms. The scars on her face are healing though the one on her chest still developed wounds. The poor girl became distressed and it didn’t help that her parents became negligent. Last Wednesday her mother committed suicide and left her with a step father who is already known for domestic violence.
It is for this reason that a volunteer rescued her and took her to Joyce.
If having to type this tale is this painful, I can’t imagine what little Mutesi has to deal with in her heart and mind at such a tender age! Life has dealt her blows that no one, let alone a child should endure.
She requires corrective surgery. The team has since followed up the case to ensure that she gets the attention she requires and deserves. Thank God for Joyce who has now taken her in!
Almost every day you read or hear about a story of someone who is dealing with pain that is bordering on surreal. Sometimes you can do something, other times it seems like a hopeless situation.
My take is simple. Try.
We are all fighting a battle whether it is evident or hidden for one reason or another. All we need is at least one person willing to say “take my hand.”

kindness 1
It is a difficult place to be, you know, wishing you could do everything for everyone who needs help. What is not as difficult is doing something no matter how small.
If what you do is simply a drop in the ocean, great! That was a drop that would not have been there without you.

ocean 2

Charity; is it really worth it?

It is almost two years since the birth of 40 days over 40 smiles. Last night a few thoughts kept me awake and they shall consequently form the content of this blog post.

The journey we embarked on is designed in such a way that we meet people from diverse backgrounds; rich, poor, vulnerable, deliberately vulnerable, middle class etc.  Assorted characters; humble, conceited, selfish, hypocritical, selfless, devious, you name it.

I shall try to break this down using real life examples so that you understand what I mean.

What is your end game?

Many people have contemplated this, a few have articulated it. Even these ones are in different categories, the ones that want to tell you what to do because they have your ‘best’ interests at heart, and those who will make up a story for you simply because they have failed to comprehend what could drive you so much.

  • One of the beneficiaries from our programmes explained that I was providing assistance because I came from a wealthy family and this was some sort of relief so I wouldn’t feel guilty about all the wealth we had amassed. Funny, right? As if it wasn’t enough, another one mentioned that the car I sometimes drove had been purchased by the funds I raised for ‘her children.’ When they spoke to me though, they were so full of praises. Isn’t charity work just great?
  • A ‘concerned’ mature spectator also informed me that the more I looked after children that didn’t belong to me, the more impossible it would be to get my own. After all, I was only becoming pitiable myself. Her quick solution was for me to drop my work and find a husband. If I had any trouble, she would gladly help. How thoughtful :0

Do you know who I am?

Last year, at one of our fundraisers (Hoops4Grace) a popular basketball player turned up. He refused to pay the entrance fee of a measly 3,000UGX claiming he was there on invite. It was explained to him that everyone present had been invited and they still had to pay a small fee as it was a charity fundraiser.

He did not heed, said he would ‘help us’ and buy our alcohol as if he has ever gotten into a concert and said “Hey, your tickets are 20,000 but I shall drink whisky worth 100,000sh instead.”

We did not cause a scene but it sure said a lot about the ‘man’ that he is. (I shall not blame upbringing because at this age surely….*&^%”>#$*)

In semi related news another ‘celebrity’ agreed to perform at another of our events. He showed up two hours late. When he arrived, he saw the crowd of about 200 and said it was too small. He went on to explain to me that he had grown a brand for himself and could not be associated with ‘few’ people like the ones I presented. Before he drove off, he made it a point to remind me “FYI, it is not like I was being paid or anything.”  This particular one was so sad it became funny.

As if to tempt me, for the next few days I was bombarded by tweets and conversations in which he came up. I put on my best poker face and moved on.

Call me, let us work together

This one used to get me so excited. The likelihood of a new partner, hope for a beautiful fresh relationship.  One who has come to us and not the other way round- great prospects, right? Well, one in ten of these particular promises turn out into something else, i.e 10% chance of it materialising.

For the past two weeks, I have been trying to track down this particular C.E.O after he asked that I get in touch. From calls to texts and emails, most of them ignored, it has started to feel like I am trying to get a date with a guy who is just not that into me.

There are other situations where there is a middle man, this can get worse. You are not sure if he is acting on his own or it is with orders from the actual ‘boss.’

Also the stalking look isn’t quite fabulous, but I shall perfect it :D.

Hey, let me tell you about 40-40

Yesterday, two members of my team had a scheduled meeting with another corporate.

He asked them to get to the hotel and then call so he could let them know the meeting room.

A few ignored calls and an hour later, this meeting did not happen.

What is the protocol exactly after this incident?

He had an opportunity not to accept but he agreed and provided the time and venue.

You are doing it all wrong

One gentleman sat me down and told me all the ways in which our approach was wrong, how we were young people who could do better things with our lives. When he realised I was relentless, his ‘professional’ advice was on how to turn the charity into a business so that ‘everyone benefits.’ mmmhhh….

It was my idea

Someone I know, let’s call him James, came to a few of our events. Fun, energetic, your average guy really.

A few months later (because Kampala is so small) James was trying to get this girl. As he listed all the things he had done with his young life, he added that he started 40-40. Poor girl, this was the point she was meant to realise that he was compassionate and therefore  Mr.right?. Seriously though, in this age of social media and information sharing-really?

Recently, another lady twice my age or more wanted to know how I managed to ‘steal’ her idea and grow it this much. Hilarious! 😀

These are just a few examples that could be interchanged with any other profession.

A young musician whose parents wonder why he can’t continue pursuing medicine instead of such a poorly paying ‘hobby,’ a business man who follows all the rules when he could make so much more if he only used the ‘back door’ a little bit; It could be a creative rookie who shares his ideas with an ad agency only for them to ‘steal’ his concept, switch it up a bit and then make a fortune out of it.

Fundraising for a cause is no easy feat, especially when you believe in it and need to break all potential barriers to pursue it.

Lucky for us, we have managed to achieve a certain amount of success without necessarily relying on organisations or wealthy individuals.

Our friends and their networks have been incredibly supportive and this has helped grow both our confidence and organisation’s brand.

However, growth comes with responsibility and thus the need to spread our wings.

40-40 did try to work with corporate organisations for a while in the past. When we realised they weren’t keen on joining hands, my friends and I became creative and came up with a few exciting and involving fundraising events that worked out great.  (Every cloud has a silver lining)

A little push can definitely go a long way and we thought it timely to branch out again.

It hasn’t turned out to be an easy ride but I guess nothing worth having comes without a price as we have learnt over and over again.

One or two things still baffle me, especially when people feel they should remind you that they are helping you or better still imply it.

Corporate Social Responsibility ensures that whatever aid is provided is mutually beneficial. If a company has 10 media houses present as they open a classroom in a community school, so be it. They get the coverage and attention they desire and the kids get a class. Everyone is happy.

As 40-40, we are more than glad to deliver a service to vulnerable groups of people and will use all the possible avenues to do this while maintaining our level of integrity.

It makes no sense at all to organise a meeting you won’t attend and have no courtesy to cancel, whether it is with a millionaire or peasant for that matter. People don’t see this too. Their mentality is still lacking as they believe that by supporting a noble cause, they suddenly should be treated like royalty.

Regrettably, we have been exposed to the wrath of several such individuals and organisations breaking promises they were not forced to make in the first place. My guess is that this is just the beginning.

Life is such a wonderful teacher and although the old adage is ‘If you can’t beat them, join them,’ this is one battle I don’t think I will join.

Instead, I am going to buckle up because what we are doing is worth much more than all the disappointments we have encountered.

#Star ta fa 🙂

work-in-progress

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.”