Pat Yourself on the Back

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You deserve a seat at the table even if you just brought dessert!

 

Pat yourself on the back for every little achievement. Pat yourself on the back if you are not where you were yesterday. Pat yourself on the back often because people will be quick to point out your failures and slow to congratulate you for a small win. Pat yourself on the back for walking away from the destructive relationship, for leaving the negative people in your life. Pat yourself on the back for leaving that job that caused your depression, for having a vision and acting on it. Pat yourself on the back for being a great mother even though you didn’t get a manual, for being a great dad even though you were really scared (and unprepared) at first. Pat yourself on the back for not giving up, for pushing harder when they did not acknowledge your presence on the table. Pat yourself on the back for using the stones thrown at you to build a mansion. Pat yourself on the back for being you, for learning to love and appreciate yourself. Pat yourself on the back for being the person you are today. You have to be your own cheerleader.

We are all on our own journey hence why we never arrive at the same time. We use so much time comparing our first steps with someone else last step. We become stress addicts because our achievements can only be true achievements if they compare to the next person.

We do not pat ourselves on the back because we feel like we don’t deserve the win. I have felt that, in the last one week I have had two wins at work and for a moment I felt like I didn’t deserve any of that.

There are more experienced people around me so I doubted myself instead of feeling validated. I was scared because I didn’t feel like I deserved any of those wins. The first thought in my head was, who told these people that I can do this? Why do they see so much potential in me? What if I let them down? What if they wake up the next day and realize that I am just a small town girl who is not all that?  All these ran through my mind so instead of going home and pouring myself a cup of tea with some mint leaves, I went home and stressed out.

I am however learning that everything I put out there, someone notices. It is a blessing to have someone notice and recognize you for small wins. It motivates me to want to do better, to be greater. I am therefore going to put my best foot forward and even if I fail I will have given my all. I am cognizant of the fact that some days I will be strong and positive and some days I will be off, so I am putting on my cheerleader costume and cheering this girl today, tomorrow will take care of itself.

Let me leave you with this prayer from Paulo Coelho’s book Brida. This is a deep book that needs to be understood. It has witchcraft and God on the same page but interesting journey of a girl finding her purpose. I have no idea what to think of it but hey I resonate with this prayer.

“Lord, help me understand that all the good things in life that happen to me do so because I deserve them. Help me understand that what moves me to seek out Your truth is the same force that moved the saints, and the doubts I have are the same doubts that the saints had, and my frailties are the same frailties. Help me to be humble enough to accept that I am no different from other people. Amen.”

 

A Girl like you

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The bookshelf towered over her, such that she was almost invisible. In her little-ish hands, she held a book whose weight seemed immense compared to her size. Her round eyes squinted a bit, looked deeply at the book before stopping suddenly, as if the book predicted an impending danger. She looked at other books, shook her head and went straight to the table near the window. She placed the weighty book on the table and began to read, occasionally looking out of the window in a rather pensive mood.

She was clearly distracted.

Although her eyes were getting watery and nose runny, she managed to immerse herself in the book and, in no time, got lost in the world of the author. Getting lost had become her favorite thing. It helped her escape a world that was getting more chaotic by the second. She had spent the whole morning crying and praying if not for anything but peace.

The author had consumed her completely, until her vibrating phone brought her back to the chaotic world she was now getting used to. She reached for it hoping it wasn’t her boss.  It was a colleague, so she immediately dispatched an automated reply – I will call you later. He replied with “just checking on you.” She smiled, put the phone back and looked out of the window, wondering what could stop her tears from flowing. She reached for her bag, hang near the table and picked out a laptop.

“Writing is good therapy,” she thought.

She wanted to write about her life; the dilemma or state of depression she was in. She wanted to write about him too. She again turned to the window and looked straight into the traffic that was building up outside the café. She wondered if anyone in those cars felt as empty as she did. She felt envious of a mother, stuck in the traffic, playing with her son. She looked around and saw a couple holding hands in their car; in a public bus was a young girl staring outside, lost in thought, perhaps thinking about her toys at home.

Inspired by the world rolling outside the café, she quickly turned to her laptop, fired it up and opened a word document.

She typed the first word: Hope.

She punched everything she was hopeful for into the computer.  She hoped she could understand her job and figure out whether it was really meant for her. She hoped she could find a way to get her finances on track. She hoped she could completely let him go, along with the emotional ties that came with him. She hoped for peace…she hoped for more things.

A guy passed by her table and smiled on seeing the book on the table.

“I was looking for that,” he said.

“Aha and?” she replied, rather annoyed

“I was hoping you could let me have it?”

She looked at him, wondering what had gone through his mind before approaching her. He must have thought a smile would help. Or maybe he was also struggling with depression and needed the book more. She shot a deep look into his eyes, smiled and said, “Sure, have the book.”

He looked at her, certainly surprised by the sudden change of mood, swallowed a small ball of saliva and shouted a ‘thank you’. He walked hastily to a nearby table and for a minute the girl seemed to wonder what the guy’s life was like. She loved opening up to strangers about her troubles, but the guy didn’t look like a perfect stranger.

She read through everything she had typed out, saved the document and left the café. She needed to go home and cry everything out. Tears work magic. They wash away troubles and water the seeds of hope and future happiness.

She hated this feeling. It derailed her so much, but there was not much she could do about it. She thought of the afterlife, but she hadn’t served her true purpose, yet.

She went down on her knees cried and asked Jesus to take the wheel. It seemed easy to tell Him so, but deep down she didn’t really believe it, there were still tears in her eyes. She sat down on her bed, phone in hand wondering if she should dial him but on second thought decided not to, he was part of her misery and that certainly could not give her peace. She thought of dialing a number and just talking to whoever was on the other side but let go of the idea too. She was more vulnerable when she talked about herself, she had never opened up to anyone about her inner feelings. She talked to people but they only knew the parts she allowed them to see, all this had led her to this place, this pit of depression.

She needed sleep, so she lay on her bed looking up, not thinking about anything but just staring. Sleep wasn’t coming along so she took her earphones and played some music on her playlist which she had carefully selected ensuring no love song came close to playing.

After a long struggle, she closed her eyes and fell asleep. She must have slept for a long time because she missed the incessant sound of her phone warning of low battery. She woke up early in the morning and found her phone dead, for a moment she was glad it was dead because it meant the world was shut off from her. She debated in her mind on whether to charge it or not but eventually decided to let it charge. She sat on her bed and wondered what it took to have a better attitude today.

It’s true what they say, sleep takes away our sorrows maybe not all but some of her sorrow had gone.

A hot shower should work more magic,” she thought and headed off to have one. After the shower, she carefully selected her outfit for the day whispering to herself “it’s a good day, it’s a good day”, a move to convince her skeptical self that it was indeed a good day. She later applied her makeup, bright lipstick and well-shaped eyebrows, all that was remaining was a smile. She could pull that, at least on the outside. She plugged off her phone, picked her earphones and headed towards the door. She couldn’t open it, her hands were trembling as she tried to open, maybe leaving the house was a terrible idea, she can have another day, she thought. She tried to convince herself why she needed more time alone and as she did so tears ran down her face, black tears as the mascara ran down. She took out her phone, she knew she had to talk to someone before today turns out to be like yesterday. She dialed her mother’s number but couldn’t call her. She thought of how worried that woman would become, stressed even, so mother was out. She thought of her aunt but retracted, she knew she could get help but wasn’t elated on being the topic of discussion during family get-together or the pity stares she would get. She sat down on the couch and one person came to mind, Stanley.

Stanley was a friend who didn’t know much about her, late twenties, ambitious and most importantly God-fearing. There was something about him, they had met several times and every time their conversation gravitated towards living a life of purpose. Stanley had invested in seminars, he had gone on a journey of self-discovery, discovered his weakness and learnt to accept himself as he was at least that’s what she got from their last conversation. She texted him it was easy that way, she knew she would cry loudly if she dared talk to anyone on phone or face to face. He texted back immediately, “Hey Tess what’s going on? Let me buy you coffee at 10 A.M if possible please”. He was that polite, she replied “perfect.” Ignoring the first part of his text. He replied with the location and a “hold on,” as if privy to her thoughts of wanting to let go. Tess decided to report to the office after mumbling a prayer so she could leave to meet Stanley later.

“What are you most afraid of?’’ was Stanley’s first question after they had sat at the corner of a café and made their orders.

She looked away as if in deep thought then looked at Stanley and said “failure, I am scared of failure, I am scared that my life will never amount to anything.”

She looked away again before continuing, “I am so scared Stanley, I feel so alone in a world full of people, I am scared of living an ordinary life, dying ordinary.” She stopped, to fight the tears threatening to fall, the waiter came with their orders and she breathed in before mumbling a thank you to him. She had ordered a latte and Stanley a big mug of coffee. He looked at her and again asked another question, “what would make you happy?’’ she looked at him, clearly not expecting such a question. “Stanley I don’t know.” She said defensively.” No what event would make you happy?’’ he insisted. She took a sip, looked away and then said “I would be happy being able to let him go, I would be happy being financially stable, I would be happy if I found my purpose, I would be happy if I loved my job.” She stopped took a deep breath, oh the magic of saying all that loud. She raised her hands up as if to stretch and covered her eyes with her palms. She felt victory saying it aloud, as if by just saying it, it had become so. She put her hands on the table and smiled at him, “I want that Stan, so bad.”

“Then have it,” he said in a way that sounded cocky.

Stan was confident and everything he said was thought through. She looked at him wondering whether he had been listening to her. She wanted to be told how to achieve that, a procedure like how to make pancakes or one of those ‘do it yourself’ stuff on Pinterest.  She shook her head and asked Stan how she was supposed to do that. “It’s simple, you go for what you want, you have realized what doesn’t’ work for you so now go for what works for you.” That made a little sense but not total sense. “What I am saying is, let go of everything that is holding you back, you have too much baggage hence the cloud of sadness all over you,” he added tactfully. She looked at him, overwhelmed with emotions tears started falling, she was an emotional girl but that’s what made her who she was. The baggage was people and things she thought she needed. She knew exactly what he was talking about, if only she could now get the strength to do it all she knew she would be complete.

You are exactly where you need to be, everything you are going through is meant to prepare you for greatness. Our current suffering cannot be compared to the glory that is going to be revealed in us.”

 

Positive Energy

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I possess so much power, we all do. We have the power to allow negativity or positivity in our lives. The power to choose right or wrong. I especially love having the power to say YES and No. “I love you can we date?”  NO. “Can you help me with work?” NO. “Will you hang out with us tonight?” NO. I love never having to explain why, because NO is a complete sentence. The answer to these questions could also be a YES depending on how that will impact your life. I have used No more lately, I have let go of destructive habits and said no to people. I have said No to relationships that do not build me. I have said No to a certain lifestyle. I have also said yes. I have said Yes to taking care of myself, I have said Yes to loving myself, I have said Yes to motivating myself.

It has not been easy, at some point I keep sliding back to old habits, trying to fix people, trying to control things and people. It’s a learning process. I am not where I was yesterday I have actually gotten far and like Jonathan McReynolds I pray that God helps me maintain. That He helps me love myself more every day, to be able to look in the mirror and call that woman beautiful every day, to call her loved. I pray He helps me maintain the confidence I am gaining, that I may not be hard on myself for making mistakes or failing. I pray He continues to give me the strength to let go of everything that is not of Him.

I am also learning to love the process, to live in the moment and not get so focused on what I lack. I have my vision board all clear, everything I want to achieve this year. I am almost there but even as I plan I am learning to live today, enjoying simple things in life, like catching up with an old friend, reading a book or even catching up with a television show. I am learning self-love, something easily said but hardly done. We think we love ourselves but we never show ourselves the love, think of that guy or lady who says they love you but their actions say otherwise, and are you that guy or lady to yourself?  Self-love is loving myself with all my flaws, it’s doing things I know she loves.

She loves music, so I get her some nice music and play it when she is tired or when she is going about her house chores. She loves to catch a movie so I get her nice movies and a ticket to go to the movies. Her mind is blown away by words, I read her poems and get her books that change her perception of life. She is an introvert and gets energy just being alone, so I take her out on a date, catch a table for her at the corner and order her coffee.  She loves Jesus so I take her to places she can learn more of Him and get her all the materials she needs to build a relationship with Him. She is a happy girl, her soul is beautiful and I am sorry that I took time to know her. I would have protected her from all the tears, the pain and the lies that the world showed her. I would have showed her earlier on how to let go but I guess she needs me more now so I am present. She will no longer have to face all that because I am here to protect her and more so to love her beyond her wildest imagination.

Growing Up.

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The most beautiful thing that happened to me last  year was growing up. Well I did turn a year older but my growing up had everything to do with life experiences. I am no longer oblivious on the brevity of life. I now live as a woman on a mission to find her life purpose, no longer enslaved by fear or people’s judgment. I can attribute my growth to a lot of things but God comes first. The people He placed in my life, the ones I have met and others may never meet have all influenced my growth.

I have grown up and realized that I don’t have to follow all traditions, especially when it comes to career. I have quit a job and risked being labelled ungrateful. I have joined an industry that is not a favorite of many, all in the pursuit of happiness. When you grow up you become cognizant of the amount of power you possess. The “move on if you are not happy, you are not a tree” shifts from being a cliché to a slogan you live by. Meagan Good once said “I would rather not work than to do something that I’m not passionate about.” Growing up is realizing that no one can change your life but you. It is choosing the life you want to live and actually living it. It is acknowledging that you have your weaknesses but focusing on working on them.

Making decisions that may change my life forever has been part of my growing up. I have learnt to let go of things and people. I have let go of my pain and choose to lose the victim mentality. I am starting to look for the good in people compared to always thinking people are out to get me. I have learnt to look for the problem in me before I point out the problem in others. I am owning up to my mistakes and working to do better. That said growth has helped me distance myself from things that cause me misery and keep pulling me behind. I have let go of people that I used so much energy to stay connected to. I have learnt to pray and wish them the best from a distance. It is part of growing up, realizing that our paths are different.

I have grown up and defined love in a whole lot new way. I know what I deserve and live by it.  I have defined what settling means to me and what compromise is. I know what I can allow and what I can’t. I am not governed by fear of being alone rather I am driven by the fact that Love is something created by God. It has no shortcuts, it’s either love or not – there is no middle. I have learnt to love myself unconditionally, I now look at the mirror and call that woman beautiful but most importantly I call her enough. There is room for growth, there will always be room but right at this moment the growth is immense.

 

Being Dad

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Grandpa, how did daddy become great?

This is a line in Fidelity Bank’s Always Always advert, which, in my view, is one of the greatest ads ever produced for television. On occasion, Coca Cola ads come close. Very close to being awesome.

Set on the backyard of a house that overlooks a river and a city; a grandfather peruses through a magazine called Business. Playing close to the river is the old man’s grandson, whose father’s photo appears on the magazine cover.

**

Anyone who tells you fatherhood is the greatest thing that can happen to you, they are understating it.

Many sons and daughters have lived to tell the tales of their fathers. It’s a moment of pride and satisfaction when a father watches a fruit of his seed, the one that out-swam the rest, blossom into a beautiful human being with sound principles and impeccable character.

We all, for certain, want to be great fathers, like the father of that boy in that awesome ad.  We want our kids to see us as a destination. We want them to know that after God and Jesus, we come next in that chain of command.

What do you want to be, child?

I want to be a writer or a photographer or a surgeon or an engineer. Your child will shoot, excitedly.

We may never admit it, but this isn’t the answer our hearts desire. `

I want to be like you, dad, is the answer we seek. But they never say it, and each damn time they don’t, our hearts are broken. Our egos are ripped apart; shot down to a fundamental level.

**

Nothing quite prepares you for fatherhood. While society has average estimations of a man who is adult enough to raise a family, it no doubt plays down the bits and pieces that go into building a father. Society has rigged us all in into a false philosophy; that the hallmark of a great man and father is being in the news, appearing in magazine covers or breaking into top 40 men at 40 piffle.

Fatherhood means much more than planting seed. It means much more than putting a couple of storeys over your kids’ heads, and a fence that purrs electricity around them. Fatherhood means seeking Christ and doing God. It means dreaming in a hopeless world. It means going on your knees to seek God’s wisdom and blessing. It means leading your family to Church and showing them the path to Christ. It means holding your kids, even when they are a few minutes old, slippery and fresh. It means not being afraid to show your imperfections, because in our imperfections kids learn people are not defined by flaws, but by their deeds.

Fatherhood means living for the truth. Fatherhood means accepting failures and disappointments. Fatherhood means standing up, even when life pulls you down. Fatherhood; fatherhood has no definite reach. Fatherhood is a voyage around a shoreless sea. Fatherhood is such an endless journey, that even death – the grim reaper that connects humans with mortality in no certain terms – doesn’t spell an end to it. Even from amongst the soil, our fathers live on, ever so inspiring us in ways we can’t count.

Image source: Ruth Usher.

 

The Next Level

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Fans of the series suits watched the first half of the season come to an end as Jessica Pearson bids the firm goodbye. The episode was poignantly written, as the viewers were made privy to what led to her decision. She reflected back on why she started and realized that along the way power had consumed her, deflecting her from her purpose. I don’t know what the writers have in store for us in the next half but I know that part spoke to me. I, like Jessica have had to leave what I know for something uncertain. I was scared and unsure. I didn’t have much support too because it wasn’t easy for others to comprehend what I was going for. I had my reasons, I was trying to find my purpose, and I am still on that journey. I don’t know if I will find it where I am now but I know that I have to try. The common feeling people who decide to move to the next level experience is fear. This feeling goes on until you succumb to it and actually make a move. I want to believe it is the same feeling the three women I will talk about felt before making their move.

Julie Gichuru’s move

I was caught by surprise when I started missing the non-aging beauty on Sunday live. I actually concluded that she must be on leave until I logged on to social media and it was clear she had left. I envied her, how does she get to be so strong and so strong? I thought of the emotions she went through when making that decision. When she decided not to get a similar position from competitors. Julie had all the big political interviews and a really huge following so her departure caught us all by surprise. She told Larry when he enquired “I am tired of doing politics, I want to do something inspiring now”. I hope she got all the support but even if she didn’t she still made the move. “It gets to a point where it’s not about success it’s about significance. Larry to be honest I’m tired of the politics, I have done it for 15 years, I’m fed up, Kenya needs inspiration, it needs to look at role models like our athletes rather than keep looking at people who frustrate us with negative politics.”  She explained. Her next level includes entrepreneurship, director at Mcheza betting company and also focusing on her dialogues show that are more inspiring and educating.

Faith Muturi

The ever smiling beautiful lady warmed our living rooms Sunday after church. She was full of energy and always knew the questions to ask her guests. Faith’s announcement that she was leaving TV also caught us by surprise because she had built a name. I however felt the same way I did about Julie. She was leaving because time was up.” I simply realized it was time to leave. I was not joining another media house nor was I at loggerheads with my employer.” She told parents’ magazine. “Leaving was both an easy and difficult decision. It’s easy to get accustomed to the limelight. “It is important to transition at the right time because if you don’t, life will find a way to push you into your next phase,” she emphasized.  Faith is now onto the next level where she will continue to mentor students through her Simama Trust. She will also be dedicating time to her passion as a transformation organization trainer and that to me is what I call a boss move by a boss lady.

Kalekye Mumo

The ever sassy lady whose voice we were more accustomed to than her face painted the town white on her 40th birthday. Days later she had something else for us as she announced that she would be leaving Radio after 10 years at the station. There were speculations about why she left but mine remains that she made a boss move. She got the inspiration from planning her birthday party and my guess is that, it motivated her to go to the next level. Mumo is now working on her PR Company and her music. She has also been busy influencing people to live healthily by watching what they eat and also exercise.

The next level, however, is neither comfortable nor easy. People warn you about it, some try to discourage you. The sad thing about it is that it may not work out as planned in the first few months and you will get the “I told you so” statement. You may even go broke if your next level was venturing into business or an uncertain career. The worse may come and you may go into debt. This is when you start doubting yourself and wonder if you were too ambitious or you made the wrong move.

They say that your dream should scare you and to echo Sarah Jakes Roberts words, “if you are not afraid of it, it is not yours.” You should be ready to face objections and even fail, how you rise up each time will determine the final outcome.

image source: Business 2 community

 

Broken Self

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I don’t know who emasculated you. I don’t know who defined a man to you. I don’t know who hurt you in your earlier years or recently. I have no idea why you have so much anger in you. How is laying your hands on me therapy to you? Your blows leave me with scars that may define me for a long time. They lower my self-esteem. I have lost myself in you, so in order not to lose myself outside there, I lie for you. I live in fear of a man who vowed to protect me at the altar. A man I have borne kids with in the hope of continuing our generation. A man I would have sworn I was made from his rib.

This man I call my boyfriend insults and hits me and yet I stay after a dinner at a 5-star hotel and a packet of chocolates with flowers sent to my office. We are not married yet but I believe he will change before then. He loves me, I can see it in his eyes. I can see the guilt in his eyes after he has hit me. This is our challenge, every relationship has one. We will overcome.

See, I don’t know who hurt you. I don’t know who took away your trust in men that you feel you need to protect yourself. I don’t know who taught you how to deal with men. I do not know why the anger in you makes you see me less of a man. Your words cut deeper than a knife. Your blows emasculate me. I cannot sit next to my fellow men and talk about traditions, politics, economics and other topics we engage in. I feel less of a human leave alone a man.

I know that I am enabling you with my silence. That is not my intention, I am only doing so to save my face or at least what is left after you devour me. I am also trying to convince myself that you will change. That you will see the woman you fell in love with. I am afraid of what society will say, that I couldn’t keep a man. I am scared of being alone and never finding a soul mate, because what if you are my soul mate? I am scared that my aunt will say I told you so, you know the one who saw you grab my hand violently at the family event. I am scared that my life will change financially, how will I provide for myself leave alone our children? I am scared that our children will have to change schools and that may affect them in their academics. I don’t want them to have an ordinary life.

I am silent because men are supposed to endure pain. How do I start in the middle of a football match with my boys to say my woes at home? I am ashamed but I do not have a voice. I will lose my seat where real men sit. I will be called names by my friends and laughed at for a long time. My ancestors may even deny me, God forbid, if you be the cause I leave this world. How will I make another woman love me when I leave you? How do I get her to understand that I am broken but still a man?

I however have desired freedom for a long time. I am taking my life back. I have worshiped you and let you determine my fate. I have lived like a woman whose life is in the hands of a man. You have controlled me and it is enough. I will use my voice and tell the world what a coward you are to fight with an unarmed party. You do not see my worth at all. I will leave because despite of what society has to say they do not know what I endure behind those four walls that I am supposed to call home. I will leave because despite of the financial security you give me it has not been enough to buy peace or happiness. I will let my children have a change in their lifestyle but grow as healthy kids. I desire a bright future for them and having you as an example of what a man is for my son does more damage to him. I cannot let you be what my daughter will look for in a man because she knows no better.

I will leave because you laying your hands on me as my boyfriend shows me the kind of husband you will make.

I want my freedom despite of what society will say about me. I am a man because I am not afraid to say that I am broken. I am a man because I fully comprehend that only I can save myself. I understand that I am weak when I hide the ugly side of my life. I can be redeemed. I can become the man that I am destined to be.  As a man I understand that in order to do so I have to acknowledge that I am broken.

Now, I forgive you, because only then do I attain my freedom. I know you are broken. I cannot save you and neither can the next person who comes in your life. I want you to know that you have the power to save yourself. Release the anger inside you, seek help, it’s the only gift you can give yourself right now.

God, not society can judge us. He loves us enough to forgive us, He is waiting to embrace you no matter how lost you feel. Do not stay in an abusive marriage or relationship. Above all the greatest is love. Love is many things but pain. 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7

image source: Real is me

 

The End is Nigh.

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A random Friday night, phone in hand but not really using it. My attention is on Terrence J’s latest movie. His tenacity more than his looks got me watching this. I am being honest.

A few minutes in and a message puts a halt on a funny part. A message from a friend asking if I had heard about our former classmate in university. I replied with anxiety that I had heard nothing.

“He passed away” he replied.

I knew his name; I knew his face because he was my friend. I wished that it was just a bad joke. He confirmed that it was indeed true and that our friend was no more. I needed a moment. How does someone so young, full of potential and energy pass on?

My mind went back to the days we passed by each other, saying a simple hello and sometimes sharing a few stories. You know. Campus. He was not my best friend; we were not the closest but at this moment every time we had spoken came vividly in my mind. We visited his home for a poignant service that left most of us wondering how much we had paid God that morning so we could see a new day.

His death shook me in ways I can’t describe. It brought me face to face with the old scoundrel that death is.

The thing with death, you never know how or when it strikes. Some people meet their fate on the road, others die when a plane disintegrates at 35,000 feet, and others simply slip away in their sleep. Whichever way death strikes; it still leaves a tragic feeling.

Even the bravest warriors fear death. They pull a courageous face on the outside, while on the inside, praying death takes a different path. In truth, since the days of our birth, we all begin the walk to our graves. Or, death walks towards us. If it wants to hurry it will, and if it wants to slow down, it still can. Ultimately, our paths will cross, sooner or later.

The question is; are you putting up a good fight? Are you keeping the faith? Are you well and truly in the race? Or will death whisk you away while you still haven’t started fulfilling your purpose?

The whole experience led me to have an epiphany, I realized life can be ruthlessly short and we need to live, actual living.

Chase selflessness

My friend was doing certain projects in his community and I know they will always remember him for that. I have thought of Martin Luther king, Florence Nightingale, mother Teresa and Wangari Maathai. These people died quite a long time ago but they are still remembered because of their selfless deeds. We are so self-obsessed; all we think is how to get to the next level. We forget we have a purpose in this life. Money is good but don’t let it define you. Be kind to people, go out of your way to not only pray for the homeless, the sick, the orphans and widows but also help them where you can. People remember you because of what your actions made them feel. Take a moment, count your blessings then ask what I am doing with my gifts, talents or that which you have been given.

Create time for loved ones.

We grow up and suddenly life becomes more than just a night out or a day lazing around. People become busy and gradually you forget who your best friend was. You even almost forget your way home because you are busy out there chasing money or trying to make ends meet. At the service, our friend’s friends spoke of how they had met, what they discussed: people in the society recognized him. I thought when is the last time I talked to my friends, when is the last time I went home and when did I last hang out with my friends. It’s been quite some time to be honest. I need to say “I love you” which I don’t. I need to show people how much I care and appreciate them.

Live Today

None of us is guaranteed tomorrow, we only have today. As a statement of fact, we only have now. Quit letting a bad encounter ruin your day. Let go of toxic things and people. Let today be your happy day. When you wake up, give thanks to the Lord and ask Him what you want for the day. Choose happiness, put an x to all the things that bring you down. Make decisions, try outrageous things, quit procrastinating and go for what you feel will make you a better person. Let today be the day you love more, you smile more and more importantly the day you live more.

Cultivate a relationship with God.

Mark 8:36, for what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? We belong to a heavenly kingdom and in this earth we are just passing by, so each of us our time is coming. Get your heart right with God, stop living for the world and let your hope and faith be found in Him. We have lost ourselves to the world and created idols that we adore. We live each day oblivious of a higher power that watches over us, we go to church, we are aware of our religion but our relationship with God is what matters. I pray that we seek God and leave the ways of the world. I envy Paul, his relationship with God is incomparable. He says “what is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost everything.” Philippians 3:8

Rest in Peace, Arnold.

image source: tinybuddha

The Career Talk

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In this cold weather, nothing beats a Saturday morning. No work, so the natural plan is to pull over a duvet, and keep sleeping.

This specific Saturday, however, I couldn’t enjoy all that despite waking up with freezing legs. I had made a commitment to attend a career seminar in the afternoon. But because the devil is a liar and the number 1 enemy of progress, thoughts of missing the event became more tempting.

Luckily, when Jesus shed blood on the cross, He condemned the devil to perpetual defeat. I wasn’t going to miss the seminar. Just to be sure, I called my mentor, who reiterated that I should go, gather knowledge, and later share it with her.

So, case closed. Out in the cold. There were a few hurdles like getting to the venue a few minutes late but it all turned out well. In the end, the seminar was really worth the time.

Welcome to the Centonomy career hub, and here are some standout lessons from the phenomenal speakers of the day;

Ken Njuguna:

A young successful attorney with Microsoft who did not mince his words when it came to giving us advice.

Shrink yourself

Most of us have been interns or rather on our first jobs, and to be honest it’s almost like a testing period. I mean people look down on you and test your nerves. It is a period that can either make you or break you and for Ken, it made him. His last day as an intern a lady requested him to bind her books and he did it even though it made him feel so small. He later had an interview with a good company and little did he know that one of the decision makers was married to the lady he helped bound the books. For that, the lady put in a good word for him. Moral of the story: Shrink yourself, be humble.

You are a constant advancement of yourself;

I was born like this (sic); I really don’t like mornings or I can’t survive in another industry. These are some of the excuses people come up with when faced with a new challenge. Do not limit yourself to the one thing you were taught to do. We acquire skills from life’s experiences, so there is basically nothing you can’t do as long as you pump effort into it.  Most people struggling in their careers are in their 20s, which is the right time to take chances and try new things even in other countries.

Stay updated

There is no way one can say they are interested in a certain field and not know the trending news in that field. To be a step ahead, monitor your industry’s latest trends. Get to know where people are getting jobs lately, and keep your LinkedIn updated, for it is the new hunting ground for potential employees. We are at an advantage because the internet makes it easy to stay updated.

Be Memorable

Everybody is constantly improving, getting advanced degrees and chasing professional certification. Do not be the dispenser at the corner of the office. Find your niche and stand out in it. People remember your impact in the office or in business, long after you leave. They remember the energy you exude so go out of your way to create such memorable moments. This, in some cases, makes you indispensable.

Ken concluded by advising us to find our mantra, something that we believe in and that will push us to become the very best version of our self. He did remind us that we will never find success in our comfort zone. If your plans to become successful do not scare you, then they are not big enough.

The next speaker, Dr. Kiplangat Sigel, said so much in less words.

Acknowledge that you do not know everything.

There is a famous saying that if you speak too much you are repeating what you already know but when you listen you learn something new. Sigel did give an example of how he lost a good job opportunity because he went for an interview feeling himself a little too much. The achievements and experience you have gained can never be too much. There is always something that you do not know.

The moment you acknowledge that you do not know everything is the moment you make it easier to learn new things.

Sell your strength

Realize that you are a product and so you need to sell yourself as one. Improve the skills you have acquired and do not shy away from including them in your resume. Let people know your achievements and what you have to offer regardless of how small they may seem. Stop playing small, there is nothing enlightening in that.

Jump

When it feels scary to jump that’s when you jump. Most people are scared to go to the next level concerning their career or relationships because of uncertainty of the outcome. We are scared to pitch that project to our boss, or to connect with people that would benefit us. Well, am guilty of that. The good news is the worst that could happen when you jump is that someone will say NO. Having already known the outcome then go for it and you never know, it could lead to greater things.

The last speaker of the day was Connie Aluoch.

Connie exuded class and sophistication which, as a personal branding expert, is expected. She had a few lessons on how to market oneself as a brand.

Invest in your image.

This is a department that I have not been so keen on, so I needed the lesson. Dress the part, people will take you seriously. Dress like a used clothes salesperson, and only buyers of such will notice you. Dressing professionally makes it easy to connect with others. It’s innate in humans to be attracted to neat people, those that have the smell of ambition. The main thing though is the confidence that is evoked by the feeling of neatness and looking smart. The way you dress affects your brand.

Connie however did add that your brand can be different from others. One could be into art so you dress like an artist so people can relate to you as one.  Clients, peers and investors perceive you as you present yourself. Put on decent clothes and if you need make up to complement your look, let it be attractive. Not scary. Pay attention to your body size and wear accordingly.

Your brand is on 24 hours.

There is dress down Friday where you feel the need to show some skin or maybe put on that dress that brings out your curves, but remember you don’t get a holiday to represent your brand. There is need to ensure your business casual can attend a meeting or represent you well to investors and clients too.

Connie concluded by emphasizing on the need to always be in your best behavior when out there.  This should be the goal of every person, I mean be kind to one another, because you never know who you are dealing with.

Image source: Lifehacker

 

 

Woman Enough

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Who is woman enough? Is it the woman who has it all going in their career? Is it the one who has a family? The one who can balance family and career? Or is it the one Lemuel’s mother described to him in proverbs 31?

Woman enough can be described as many things but one thing I know is that if you do not know who you are, society will define the kind of woman you should be. I know I am woman enough because I find my identity in God. I am acknowledging that I am an imperfect woman and I can only be saved by running to a perfect God. The journey is not easy with our insecurities and all the noise from society which can be hard to shut down. I am learning from other boss ladies who define their own “woman enough status” and most importantly I am learning from the Bible. There are important steps I have learnt to take to get to the point of being woman enough.
“Have an unconditional relationship with yourself as you are right now” Tracee ellis Ross

Beauty has been defined to us from a young age and it has evolved with time but its effect on us remains constant. Some people perceive beauty to be the woman with good physical looks that everybody is besotted with. There is a certain type of hair, body shape and size and also the clothes one wears. You need to unconditionally love yourself as you are. Enhancing your hips or changing your skin color will not make you love yourself more. What happens when you don’t possess the next thing society deems beautiful? Will you go and have it done also? We were created in His own image. Love yourself in a way no one can.  If you feel that you are healthy at whatever you weigh you walk with your head high.

I personally weigh more than I should and my health is potentially threatened but guess what? I am working on my weight but as I do that, I am having a stable relationship with myself. I once vented to someone on how my lips are really dark and hence the need to use lipstick and they said no you don’t need that. I didn’t listen until I realized that after fixing my lips with lipstick there is always another part of me that needs fixing. I am therefore learning that I am enough and I am loving this girl unconditionally.

Whether or not you have achieved what you wanted to achieve in your career, relationship or elsewhere, it is prudent to appreciate the “you now”. Love yourself unconditionally with all your flaws.

Forgive yourself

Everyone makes mistakes; it’s okay to forgive yourself. Forgive yourself for giving the wrong people your time. Forgive yourself for falling too easy, for hurting people or for prioritizing things that aren’t so important. Forgive yourself and let go; do not give your past the power to dictate your future. It doesn’t matter what people think about you. It doesn’t matter if they still judge you from your past ways. Just make peace with “the you” now. I am reminded of three women in the Bible, Rahab, Mary and the woman at the well. They had a past and yet God used them in different ways. Forgive others too and genuinely ask for forgiveness.

Define your own beauty

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful; I know that fully well.” Psalms 139:14. You can only be confident in yourself when you define what makes you beautiful. This includes both inner and outward beauty. Define your own style so you do not feel the need to be like someone else. People will try to convince you that a certain hairstyle looks good on u, or that dress will make you prettier. Will you truly feel beautiful in that hairstyle or dress, assuming you wear them? I don’t even think your partner should define your beauty. There is something beautiful about being self-aware. When you are self-aware you attract people who appreciate “the you” you love. You are able to understand other people and how they perceive you.

You are a work in progress

Put your passion into practice. If its reading books that gets you excited, then by all means read as many books as you can. Travel the world if that is what you want.  There is no limit to what you can do so go for it. Learn to rely on yourself and find a partner who complements, not completes, you.. There are so many things that I want to do, some even sound impossible to me, but the fact that I can dream makes me feel like a superwoman.

“When it comes to living and loving, what’s required is a willingness to jump in with both feet and be creative as you go.” John Eldredge. Do everything you can to grow as a person.

Have relationship with God.

Proverbs 31:30, “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”

There is religion and then there is intimacy with God. As a woman desire to have a relationship with God. There is so much fulfillment that comes from Him. There is a poem by Jackie Hill Perry where she advises women to take their heart from men and go back to God, their creator. Having a relationship with God means you allow His will to be done in your life, you trust Him. It means that you find your value in Him and not the world. It means you understand that we are all created by Him so no one on this earth can save you, define you or make you. You understand that you belong to Him and no one can invalidate you. You learn that you are woman enough.

It’s a journey but you can get there, head held high.  For me what makes me woman enough is the fact that I am secure in who I am. The fact that I am finding myself in a perfect God. The fact that I am having a relationship with myself and the fact that I feel enough as I am.