Category Archives: Soul Food
I have successfully planned everything, and successfully failed. I’ve written long lists of the things I want to do by the end of the year. Who doesn’t? This happens when I’m so caught in the New Year hype I just want to do something really responsible like write a motivational book or something. At the end of the year, I look at my list of unaccomplished resolutions and shake my darn head. Certainly I can’t be the only one.
That list containing resolutions that you plan to accomplish by the end of 2015, shred it to pieces. You can even reduce it to ashes to kill any traces that it ever existed. I am certain (99.9%) that the list you made in 2013 is still lying around somewhere, unopened, so why would you waste your time by writing another.
For 2105, let’s experiment with a new strategy, that is spontaneous, one that doesn’t require us to be tied down to a list. Let’s break all the rules. Let’s not plan. Let’s just wing it. If this fails, I’ll be here to bear your barrage of criticisms. You’ll even be given the priviledge of throwing shoes at me in the public square (Kenyans are peculiar like that). Winging it is like gambling and crossing your fingers that the odds are on your side. It’s about improvising and living everyday as it comes.
Ready to be free-spirited, walk with me…
Each day you plan what you eat with an obsessive discipline but your dieting routine is just not working. You are not losing any weight. Reason: you’ve put so much emotion and planning into it, it’s draining you out. The truth is if you plan what and how you eat, you are likely to pick up bad dieting habits that only harm your body and health. You know, those kinds of habits like counting calories before every meal. That is so exhausting; it takes the fun out of eating. Don’t plan what you eat like you are running for the marathon, don’t count calories, don’t focus on the scale. Just eat your food, and enjoy every minute of it. As long as you are eating the right kind of food in the right amount, you’ll do just fine.
This is where everybody (guilty as charged) just needs to calm down and wing it. When in a relationship, you plan dates, picnics, movie nights, park walks and even small activities like holding each other’s hands in public. You micromanage your relationship like you are looking to get nominated for an Oscars in the best director category. Take a breather mate, winging it works miracles. Besides, where is the fun in controlling and planning out everything? When you plan your relationship it becomes a routine, and routines are so boring. The best relationships are the ones that are always spontaneous because you are always improvising as you go.
This one is tricky because gambling with your career is not a wise choice. But I’ll throw it out there anyway. It’s okay to dream but don’t set high targets you want to meet at the end of the year. I know, I sound like a really lazy millennial. Back up a bit, don’t throw your shoes at me just yet. You see when you set high targets; you are constantly under pressure to meet those targets. Pressure intoxicates your energy and breeds frustrations, panic attacks and anxiety. This negative vibe will overlap to your work and the people around you. Who wants to work in such a toxic environment? Sometimes it’s okay to take each day at a time and treat your job as a hobby, not something that you are obliged to do for profit.
All women do it, even the metrosexual males have adopted this culture. You plan what to wear three days ahead, and in between change from one outfit to the next, in your mind. And then when you can’t settle on one outfit you begin to freak out like a relapsing addict. Don’t stress about what to wear tomorrow. Just wake up and dip your head in the depths of your closet and fish out something, without looking. It is fun, spontaneous and I don’t think you’ll be committing any fashion faux pas unless your style is really awkward. Then again, you can argue with your critics that it’s avant garde.
Take a leap of faith, and wing it. Let the aforementioned promise (of hurling shoes at me) be your motivation. I am not that priviledged to hold press conferences so good luck finding me though. Happy New Year!
It’s always easier to just throw things around than pack them up nicely to create a neat, attractive space. Besides, everyone is pretty much living a fast life these days – leaving home at 6 am and coming back at night, spent and lazy. However, some people get so overwhelmed that they go overboard with ‘offloading’. Before they know it, their lives are buried in clutter. But Christmas is upon us, it is time to put your house in order.
Let this be the year that your friends (or family) can walk into your home and be happy to be there, without feeling the need to flee.
Here is the bitter truth; clutter makes your home look like crap. When I enter a cluttered space, I don’t feel the warmth of the room creeping under my skin. Instead, I feel like I’ve been plunged into a claustrophobic space with no escape or exit plan. So cut the crap in your life, and get rid of the clutter with this simple 12 days plan.
Day 1: Kill the switch
The reason some people cannot clean up their homes is because they are always lounging on the sofa watching TV. Well, it’s the time to turn the TV off and apply some organization skills.
Day 2: The rule of the thumb
This is where anything goes, look around the house to separate what you genuinely need from what qualifies as baggage. Be ruthless when you make the cut.
Day 3: The yard sale
Look around your house for the things you don’t need but can still be useful to someone else. Get them out in the yard and sell them, at a discounted price of course. The highly publicized OLX is a good place to start.
Day 4: The garage show room
If you are not ready to sell or give away the extra items, pack them up in boxes and keep them away in the garage.
Day 5: Use and dump
Do not leave food packages, wrappings and boxes (like pizza boxes) lying around after eating. Collect them and stuff them in the waste paper basket where they belong.
Day 6: Clear the paper trail
Whenever you carry your work home, don’t leave any papers lying around once you are done even if you no longer need to use them. Instead collect them and toss them in the garbage can. But if you have to work again later, arrange your papers in a neat pile and place them inside the drawer.
Day 7: Disentangle the spaghetti
Phone chargers, TV and radio cables, DSTV plugs, laptop chargers, gaming system wires, earphones and headphones, all these entangle to create one mess of cord clutter. Well, it’s time to free the wires, keep away the ones you don’t need and coil those that are too long so they don’t get entangled again.
Day 8: Marry the ketchup
Group everything that belongs together, from magazines to CDs to remote controls to shoes. For instance, there is no reason why your magazines should be on top of every table when you can group them together into a neat pile.
Day 9: Resist Imelda Marcos’ charms
Former Filipino first lady, Imelda Marcos holds a reputation for having a lavish collection of 3,000 pairs of shoes. Sometimes, we buy shoes we are not even going to wear and end up cluttering them in the closet and under the bed. If you have to buy more shoes, get rid of the old ones.
Day 10: No trespassing
When things are not where they are supposed to be, they tend to create a misplaced mess. Don’t carry bedroom items into the living room and vice versa.
Day 11: Control mutiny
It can be frustrating trying to declutter when the people you are living with cannot follow in your footstep. Just imagine clearing the coffee table of magazines, then coming back later to find a new pile. That’s why you have to be strict with the people around you so they can help you in getting rid of the clutter.
Day 12: Develop an obsession
Decluttering is not a one-time thing; it is a regimen that has to be maintained on a daily basis. Observe your decluttering plan with an obsessive discipline.
On days when I ‘m facing writer’s block, I usually step into the balcony to have a glimpse of the world below and refresh my mind. Let me stop your wow moment right there, mine is not a magical view of silhouette pelicans against a backdrop of a beautiful African sunset. My immediate view is a bedroom window of a cohabiting couple.
Here is my predicament, this couple is way out of its honeymoon days (or they’ve never been there). The man is tall and slender with a receding hairline and a stifled voice. The lady is a rotund petite lady with a mouth that really needs a zipper. I don’t like eavesdropping on other people’s conversation but when I need that pure breeze to hit my skin, I can’t help it.
It’s dramatic to watch them argue, the way she flings her hands in the air and leaps to thrust him in the chest. It’s more like watching a native Indian tribal dance. This is the kind of picture that could go viral on Youtube but I restrain myself.
This woman is loud, way above the normal pitch range. Sometimes she hangs out her head through the window like she doesn’t mind broadcasting their bedroom banter. At this moment, you can see curtains being drawn, windows being opened and hear back doors creaking open (the official neighbourhood gossips cannot miss such juicy details).
This goes on for hours as she shreds the poor man’s ego into pieces. I am certain that she can do this to twenty men in the city square and still have the energy to go on.
She is a shrew, a woman with an inherent (almost sadistic) need to embarrass others in the full glare of the public- often aggressive without any qualms. She is the woman in the bus who won’t forgive you for accidentally brushing against her shoulder.
She is the neigbour who always competes with your alarm clock to wake you up with her overbearing morning tantrums. She is a public nuisance even on personal matters that need to be discussed behind closed doors.
She explodes even with the slightest provocation, rants on and on like she is high on some designer drug. When you breathe a sigh of relief thinking she’s cooling down, buckle up, she’s just warming up.
During the early centuries, being a shrew was considered a petty criminal offense in Europe and the colonial New England. The culprit was punished by being placed in a chair and then submerged into a river, pond or a muddy puddle. Simpler times for men if you ask me, but this never did tame the shrew now, did it?
Travelling can be fun, especially when you cannot get enough of the beautiful sceneries outside your window. It can also be a nightmare, as my friend Nancy found out last week. Most of us never have the pleasure to choose who to sit next to. And aren’t we are all different in our own special ways? You can sit next to a woman nursing a wailing baby while balancing a bowl of pounded avocado. Or a Rihanna obsessed fan whose music is so loud, it won’t let you sleep. What about the old man who uses your shoulders as his pillow, drools and snores while at it? Even worse is the loud mouth who keeps spitting saliva and does not understand the contortion on your face. Feels like hell, I know. Wait until you meet the one with the ‘touchy man hands.’ My friend met an all rounded one – Mr. Know it All with touchy man hands, and she had the worst day of her life.
She was travelling from Nairobi to Eldoret (going back to Moi University) and she wanted to get as comfortable as possible. So she sat at the back, sandwiched between two well fed African men. Her first ordeal, air circulation inside the packed matatu was terrible. Her only consolation was the fresh rush of air into the matatu, albeit periodically.
Still, she could take that. But somewhere near Westlands, her seat mate decided that he had to know more about her. He ranted about this, and about that, pointing at those buildings mushrooming in Westie, indulges in a little background history about them and not once did he slow down. He talked a little about himself, his work and HIS AGE! Yes he did…I am a 30 year old bachelor blah blah blah. I say it like she described it; a scene out of KTN’s Tujuane Show.
Don’t get me wrong, striking a conversation on a bus or matatu is not a bad thing. In fact it can be the inception of a long lasting friendship or relationship. And travelling can get lonely, I know. But sometimes people just want to be left alone with their thoughts to torture them in peace. You are on your way back to school – assignments pending, a CAT coming up, a research project that you cannot seem to get past the topic and the biting cold of Moi University awaits you.
Trust this man to never leave you alone. Come on, you are only past Limuru. He then asked for her phone to make a call because his was off. He made a phone call alright, but to his phone which blared with Busy Signal’s Missing You. He now had her number. Smooth maybe, but treacherous nonetheless.
When they made a stop in Nakuru, he pulled the gentleman trick and offered to buy her lunch by pushing a 500 shilling note her way. Declining such offers is not just an African thing. Besides, he had put her through so much, it was the least he could do. She pocketed the money and headed out to get her lunch. My friend came back 10 minutes later to find him waiting patiently and smiling between his teeth.
Now he was smiling, woe unto her for accepting that money! The nightmare continued until they reached Eldoret. Then he pulled a new move. She felt his hands sneaking up on her thighs. Yes, his touchy man hands were slowly climbing up to the no go zones. This is the point where she contemplated giving back the money. Then like a miracle, she spotted the conspicuous Moi University sign board at Cheptiret. Free at last, free at last, thank God, she was free at last. Martin Luther King would be proud.
Theodore Bagwell is not a likable character, at least not where physical appearances are concerned. He cannot grace the cover of Vogue, adorning an Armani suit and drive women crazy, period! He is a dirty Southerner with a lizard tongue, blood shot eyes and terrible thinning hair. He is a murderer, a thief, a paedophile, a rapist, a racist and an opportunistic schemer. Simply put, Theodore Bagwell is a classical sociopath. He is the character we all loved to hate during our Prison Break days because he was the opposite of Michael Scofield.
Needless to say,he may not have wooed many ladies with his onscreen antics but he gave us something to ponder over. He gave us CAPTIVITY OF NEGATIVITY.
The dictionary defines Captivity of negativity as a form of depression in which you feel like crap and are falling down a never –ending gravitational spiral of negativity.
When you are in the captivity of negativity, you channel all the negative energy inside you because you think you cannot escape it. The negative energy is like a fix, a dose of heroine and the more you feed on it, the more you feel worthless.
When it comes to negativity, we can all relate too well. We are captives of our own negativity, living in prisons of our own creations. Sometimes our lives are peppered with bad experiences such asbroken relationships, death of a loved one, losing a job, bad investments, poor grades, bullying, failure and poor choices in life.
And God knows, when you get your fair share of unpalatable experiences, sometimes the negativity is inevitable. It steals its way into your heart like a common thief, seeking residence in your bitterness, guilt, hate, revenge, jealousy, rage, self-loathsomeness and self-doubt.
Your mind is in constant turmoil because you want another person’s life. You want his life, his car, his job, his house and even his wife. You are stuck in your own captivity of jealousy. But the truth is, you will never be able to craft your own destiny if you keep looking over the fence for greener pastures.
Or perhaps you don’t give yourself enough credit. Every time you set out to do something, there’s always that midget voice whispering ‘I’m not good enough,’ a constant reminder that you are a failure. You recite it to yourself until you believe it.
The fear makes you numb, blocking you from achieving your true potential. So you shrink to obscurity, the only place you feel comfortable in. Before I began blogging, I was always asking myself, what if they don’t like what I write? What if I don’t have any ideas? What if nobody reads what I write? All these what ifs were skyrocketing in my head and all I could think of was ‘I was going to fail.’ I was stuck in a prison of self-doubt, my own captivity of negativity. Until I learned the secret, the only way I would ever know my true worth was to have the guts to publish a post.
I’m happy I did because it gave me the confidence I needed to share my thoughts with the world.L learned a valuable lesson: the first step towards freedom and control is acknowledging that a prison exists within us.Once we admit it to ourselves, only then can we break free from this captivity of negativity. It is like a cloud that you have to forcefully pull yourself out of, even if it sucks up all your energy. The life you want is out there, you only have to knock down the prison walls to get to it.
In ancient Rome, gladiators fought for glory in the Colosseum as thousands of fans cheered on. Every gladiator fought with only one goal: to win the crowd and keep them entertained. A man’s skull would be crashed to a pulp but the fans still cheered on – chanting names of the barbarian soldier who came out alive.
The gladiator would look up to his fans and thump his chest, the taste of blood fresh in his mouth and his demons clenched in his fist. He would smile at his odd predicament – a prisoner in the Roman dungeons and yet a hero in the Colosseum. He had earned his place in the Roman hall of fame.
Fame teases the mind of any man. It is like heroine; once you are hooked it is hard to get out. But fame is fatal. The heroic gladiator today would be the dead man tomorrow, surpassed by an even stronger gladiator. Today, ancient Rome is merely a history site but we are as much part of the Colosseum like the Romans were centuries ago. We are all like gladiators fighting for a taste of fame (even just a brusque feeling of it).
The modern perception of fame is retarded. It can be as shallow as posting a nude photo on the internet or as misguided as making a sex tape. It can be as naïve as posting an irrational tweet in the hope of stirring a debate or it can be subtle as having the highest number of friends on Facebook.
Fame has spiralled out of control; it has transitioned to an unhealthy obsession with the world around us. They have to know my name. They have to see me. They have to like me. We are fixated with being crowd pleasers even at the cost of our own sanity. This kind of obsession has been the prerequisite of self-destruction among many people. And one thing has always been clear – if you make fame an object of pursuit, it will DESTROY you.
Death on the CNN Curve (New York Times, 1995) tells it all. Writer Lisa Belkin begins her story…IT WAS FAME that killed Robert O’Donnell… O’Donnell was a common man whose life changed when he freed 18 month –old Jessica McClure from an underground tunnel where she had been stuck for three days. This rescue turned O’Donnell into an overnight hero as every TV station, radio station and newspaper scrambled for the story.
What nobody told O’Donnell was that fame has a sadistic side – it doesn’t last forever. When the attention and the cameras finally went away, a damaged man was left behind. Belkin writes…a man so changed by fame that he no longer belonged in his world but not changed enough that he could leave that world behind… Eight years after the rescue, Robert O’Donnell no longer able to uphold his status put a shotgun in his mouth and pulled the trigger. He was only 37 years old.
Just like O’ Donnell, life’s colosseum has had much power over us for years. We want a share of fame, no matter how we get it. Once we have it, we nurture our dependency on fame like it is the only thing that keeps us alive. We give and give, and the only thing we ask for in return is that the attention never fades. And when it finally does, reality kicks in. We are common people after all. But often we are high up in the clouds to acknowledge this glaring fact.
Fame has always been that fickle, one day you are in, the next day you are out. Yes, it is that ruthless! Don’t get me wrong, I am no cynic. But I grew up in the times of Marilyn Monroe and Princess Diana post-humus fame to know how these 20th century most famous women were destroyed by fame. Look at what fame did fame did to Marilyn Monroe – after struggling to achieve fame, she was held prisoner by her own status and finally destroyed by it. Princess Diana crashed to her death while being pursued by overly stalking paparazzi. Fatal fame is man’s own undoing.
If we could only stop living in this folly of fame, then maybe our lives would be easier. It is high time we ‘tap out’ from the Colosseum and treat shallow fame like the monster it is.
I have to admit I am not a mother. Yet. But this doesn’t mean I cannot give a rational opinion on the subject of raising children. It is sacred to be a mother but not everyone is fit to be a mother, leave alone healthily bring up a child. Bringing up a child is tough I know. In fact it is the toughest job bestowed on mankind.
Recently, on one of my escapades in the hectic streets of Nairobi (this city has been making my life a living hell) I met a young mother hurrying down a crowded alley, her beautiful daughter in tow. A sweet little girl (children are always sweet) of barely five years old whose manner of walking struck me as odd for a girl her age. She had a conspicuous limp as she strutted down the pavement. I could see the uncomfortable twitch in her face every time she took a step.
Imagine my horror when I looked down and saw this little princess adorning black leather high heel boots of almost six inches. I am a fashion enthusiast, and I know the pains that come with looking good. Believe me I am a woman, I know. But ‘the beauty is pain’ cliché must not spill over to the children for the simple reason that they are children.
It was disheartening to watch this adorable little girl learn about the pain and the strain that comes with wearing such high heels at an incredibly early age. Maybe she wasn’t complaining on the outside but who knows what every twitch represented on the inside. She must have been wishing “Mommy are we there yet?”
The mother of the little girl was alright. Her fashion sense was stylish; in fact she had matching boots with her daughter. I understand why she would want her daughter to look the way she looks. But mostly it is always to keep up appearances.
Some mothers treat their children merely as objects to show off to the ever prying eyes of the public. They dress them in clothing best suited for a more mature age; they pamper them with make-up such as eye shadow, mascara, blushers, lipstick e.t.c. All these just so that they can get the nod from the society that they too, can keep up with modern couture. Even child pageantry is a subject of heated debate in the society today.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that children should not adhere to the current fashion trends. My point is: let children stick to children stuff when it comes to fashion. Do not spruce them up like little Madonnas and parade them on the streets for everyone else to see. Some may applaud your sense of style alright (it’s a crazy world after all) but that gawky walk from your daughter says it all. It is wrong. It is mean and it is absolutely selfish for trying to make your daughter ‘you’.
How many times have you met a little girl whose baby eyes were hidden beneath a thick layer of make-up? Trapped beneath her ‘hip’ exterior is a little girl just crying to be let out and taste the freedom of being a child.
Children are like little angels, bundles of joy to the world and when they smile our hearts are filled with warmth. They are such innocent creatures, beautiful in their natural sense. Such magnanimous beauty contaminated by such senseless acts of motherhood. Please, please, in the name of God, do not let your children pay the price for your vanity.
Let them roll in the mud without caring whether they break their manicured nails. Let them play free without caring whether they disentangle their hair tied in a perfect bunch. Just let children be children.
It is an indisputable fact we humans are creatures of ambition. It is also a fact that we are often reluctant to leave our comfort zones and venture into something new. Two contradicting traits of humanity, but oh so true. We yearn for success but we are afraid to take the road less travelled.
We want success, we want power and we hunger for more money but we are cowards of our own ambitions. We desire more but we strive for less.
At the beginning of every year we write down new resolutions and swear to fulfill each one of them. To finally scale that mountain, to write that novel, to apply for a new job, to quit drinking, to get saved, to finally propose to that girl, to save for that car.
Funny how the list is always long at the beginning of each year but extremely shorter or nonexistent by the end of July. And it is never because we accomplished our resolutions but because we erased them one after the other in our minds.
The road less travelled isn’t easy but that has never stopped great women and women to conquer the world. The Loretta Claiborne Story is an unusual story of chivalry. It is the story of faith moving mountains. Loretta Claiborne was born partially blind and intellectually challenged. Despite this, she dared to dream and refused to hide behind her disability or the sympathy that came with it. So she sprinted her way to glory – she has competed in 6 Special Olympics and bagged several gold medals and other notable accolades. To think that a woman of her condition could be so brave to become a world class athlete is humbling and inspiring. She is a legend because she chose the road less travelled and had the courage to walk the journey.
Many of us have passions, talents, desires just bottled up inside us. Perhaps what holds us back is the constant reminder tagging at the back of our mind that we are inadequate, that we will automatically fail. So self-doubt turns into fear, the little courage we thought we had shrinks into oblivion. And just like that we close that chapter in our life. But how can we know our maximum capability if we haven’t even tried.
Big breaks don’t come to us just by sitting idle, and throwing a wish to the wind in the hope that it will come true.
If only the graves could speak, they would whisper the many dreams buried in the graveyards. Dreams wished but never fulfilled. The child who wanted to learn how to draw, the father who wanted to build a house, the boss who wanted to trade in the stock exchange, the mother who wanted to go back to school, the daughter who wanted to join the school basketball team. Dreams that could never be turned into reality.
Oliver Wendell Holmes was right “Many people die with their music still in them. Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out.
You know being comatose isn’t just a medical condition, when you stay dormant because you are scared to take the risk then how can there be a difference between you and a patient in a coma? Both of you are just lying there waiting for a miracle.
Take a chance on the road less travelled. If your New Year resolution is to publish your first book, sit down and actually write something. It may not be a masterpiece but it is a step towards your dream. Baby steps, that is where it all begins.
PHOTO COURTESY OF http://cashmoneylife.com
In the classical sense of the word, home is the ideal place where we find love, warmth, laughter and sanctuary. It is also the place where we unburden our souls and let loose life’s beatings without monetary repercussions offered at the spa or the shrinks’. Whether recluse or lively, home offers that feeling of belonging.
Country singer Miranda Lambert must have been really nostalgic about home when she wrote The House That Built Me. Word by word, she described a childhood of memories in the house she grew up in. For her, home was a past she could borrow from to ease life in the present and sail into the future.
For Hansel and Gretel – two little children lost in a thick dark forest, alone and scared, home was a place of hope. And Hansel said to Gretel, “let us drop these breadcrumbs so that together we can find our way home”. They hoped to find their way back home where everything else was familiar and love blossomed.
In August: Osage County, home is the hell everyone else has been trying to escape their whole life. The obvious drought of love drives the Weston family to irreversible destruction. They do not sit down and opine about the weather over a finger-licking meal of lasagna. Instead, they claw each other till they bleed, and offer no remorse after. Watching Violet Weston (played by award winning Meryl Streep) tear each member of her family into tiny irreparable bits, a sad reality hits you. This is not one with a happy ending, there is no redemption, no salvation, no closure and all you can hope for is that the pain she inflicts may wane out sooner.
For thousands of refugees (some internally displaced) living in camps in Darfur, Zaatari and Daadab (where they now call home), home is that place reminiscent of war and terror but still somehow nostalgic of a whole life left behind. Of loved ones lost in the middle of the night where they were dragged away by men brandishing guns and machetes.
For me home is the place where we sit around the dining table and still save a place for the habitual latecomer. It is where we fight over the remote control and throw tantrums when we don’t get our own way. But at the end of the day we are still forgiven. Like Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote “Where we love is home, home that our feet may leave but not our hearts.”