The Uuuhs and Aaarghs of my life

Posts tagged ‘courage’

WHY I WEPT ON MY 2015 BIRTHDAY

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Courage is an Attitude

I had just come from Nairobi Garage where I had hosted an early-morning speed networking event for young Nairobi entrepreneurs. It was the very last event. I could not afford to produce another one. So I had a little cupcake and coffee party to thank my guests, and to encourage them to keep on with their good work. I went home.
 
With my handbag still on my shoulder, I sat on the couch, silent.
With a box of stationery still on my lap, I stared at the feedback forms inside.
Warm tears slowly slithered down my cheeks into the box.
Suddenly, a loud cry burst out of my mouth and echoed into the box.
 
I felt like such a big failure!
A failure to my company. A failure to myself. A failure to my parents who’d invested in my business. A failure to my supporters. A failure to my country.
 
After weeping, I sat on the couch for a while, trying to figure out my next steps. Normally, I would write an evaluation of the event and plan for the next one. Then send a message of thanks to guests, along with a networking tip.
 
But this time round, I had no idea what would be my next step.
I could not afford to pay back the loans from my parents because the banks I had visited didn’t offer loans to young unmarried ladies with small enterprises. I got to understand why there are so many microfinance banks for women in Kenya. Despite modernisation, most banks still see women as high-risk customers.
 
I could not reach out to my mentor because our relationship had been tarnished by his sexual advances. He had been in the process of supporting my application for a grant at an embassy, the accounting firm already set to receive the funds. But when he realised that I stand firm on my principles, he blocked the process and sent me this message: “I can’t be a mentor to a person like you. The people I mentor understand how we work. No wonder your startup is not working!”
 
So I put down the box of stationery, slipped off the couch onto the floor and removed my shoes.
I prayed. I wept. I prayed some more.
 
Exposed and vulnerable is what I felt as a human being. But I did not care at that point. If I were to be broken and all vulnerable, I would rather be so before my God who is also my friend. I asked Jesus to show me that all my effort had not been in vain. I asked for His guidance.
 
A wave of calmness came over me and I found the strength to smile. Suddenly, I noticed the chocolate cupcake that had remained from the party I had with my guests. I grabbed it, took a bite, and told myself: “Happy Birthday Michelle! All will be well.”
 
One birthday later, I am so grateful to have my prayers answered.
My parents chose to look over the loans I owed them, and invested in furthering my education in Social Innovation Management at the Amani Institute. So happy that I’ll be graduating this month. Yay!
 
I found the courage to take a few steps back on the idea I had had to focus on the core, which is positive conversations that inspire positive change. Now, I serve change leaders as a coach through a project that celebrates storytelling for leadership.
 
Despite not having surplus funds at the moment, I have never lacked. Opportunities are showing up along my journey. Not to mention the amazing people I’ve had the pleasure to meet and learn from.
 
I’ve got a strong roof over my head, food to put on my table and clothes to keep me warm. Every day, I wake up to new opportunities to serve people by doing what I love.
 
The greatest lesson I have learnt is that…
Failure is a great teacher with an ugly face.
It takes courage to look past the ugly face and see a resource to learn from.
 
Courage is a key word this new year of my life.
 
My hope is that this little story of mine encourages you never to give up on you. And remember…
 
Courage, Prayer & Chocolate cake!
 
Happy Birthday to me

Rivers or Dams? Pick one!

 

Berta Caceres 2015 Goldman Environmental Award Recipient

Berta Caceres stands at the Gualcarque River in the Rio Blanco region of western Honduras where she, COPINH (the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras) and the people of Rio Blanco have maintained a two year struggle to halt construction on the Agua Zarca Hydroelectric project, that poses grave threats to local environment, river and indigenous Lenca people from the region. Source: goldmanprize.org

 

As we chase after modern knowledge, skills & lifestyles, are we loosing ourselves?

We are all indigenous to somewhere on this earth.

We all came from somewhere!

Our human identity isn’t in fashion brands, fast cars, academic achievements, air mileage and fancy houses.

Our identity depends on real connections with humanity, not things.

Berta Cáceres has taught us an expensive lesson – to protect our identity or allow our footprints to vanish from existence.

This International Women’s Day 2016, I celebrate Berta’s courage as a female warrior who fought for equality, environmental conservation, protection of her indigenous culture and peace!

Visit goldmanprize.org for more about Berta Cáceres!

#IWD2016

 

 

Lessons from Betty the Bean

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Betty the Bean

So a few weeks ago, I planted Betty the bean in the backyard. She is a special bean because she can produce about 300 beans even in a tiny space!!! I had to search for a safe place for her to grow and I found it. But it took her longer than an ordinary bean to germinate.

I was afraid that she wouldn’t make it. The rains fell upon the ground for a number of days and I kept checking up on her every morning and evening. At last, she sprouted off the ground but some ants ate up one of her food reserve on her cotyledon.

Still, I kept watering her and feeding her some organic manure. Monday morning this week, as I brushed my teeth I went straight to the backyard and saw Betty standing tall and strong with two whole leaves 🙂
She’s now a strong little seedling!!!

In my journey to discovering my purpose, I keep facing challenges that make me doubt if that great purpose is really for me. But even when the time takes longer than usual, even when stormy seasons almost drown me, even when adversity tries to bully me… I still believe that by standing my ground, I’ll break through the tough times.

I’ll soak up the good from all that’s around me and turn it into a motivation to help me get to the next part of the journey.

It’s not easy, but after coming this far, it’ll only be silly to give up hope when everything in me is already showing that little by little I’m almost there.

Do you feel like a Betty bean today?

Be strong, courageous, and believe in your able roots.

Flag of All Flags!

Flag of all flags is love.

Flag of all flags is love.

FLAG OF ALL FLAGS: It’s heartbreaking to watch people fight on social media about something that should actually bring us together as humankind.
“Why haven’t you changed your profile picture to support France?” “Why haven’t you changed your profile picture to support Lebanon?” “Why haven’t you changed your profile picture to support Syrian refugees?” “Why haven’t you changed your profile picture to support…?”

If you’re like me, you might have already picked up on the real purpose of the virtual flags: Love for humanity.
But by choosing to isolate and attack each other because of Facebook flags, we’re choosing that which the terrorists are promoting? Fear, the mother of terrorism.

Fear makes us believe that we are more different than we are similar.
Fear makes us violent with our words, thoughts, intentions, and actions.
Fear makes us strip people of their power of choice.
Fear makes us foolish enough to be inhuman.

So whether or not you choose to use a Facebook flag, the biggest question we have to ask ourselves is, “So what next?”
So what next, after the terrorist attacks?
So what next, after we change our profile pictures?
So what next, after fear knocks at our doors?

Instead of fighting over Facebook flags, why not focus on what really matters? Sharing love with humanity.
How do we do this? It’s in the everyday simple things like smiling with a stranger. Sharing your meal with a homeless child. Offering a friend your shoulder to cry on. Affirming what’s good in someone instead of magnifying the faults.

As we start the new week, I encourage you to observe the world around you and spot opportunities in which you could directly respond to fear with love.
We are all superheroes if you think about it. We fight in the background with acts of courage that save the world from further decay.
This is how slowly, we get to change the world one act of love at a time.

Love & Sunshine

Courage

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I can confidently say that I am not the same woman I was two months ago.
Why so?

Well… fear checked in big-time! I woke up one day and imagined myself as a 50-year-old woman. Judging from the attitude I had in life I predicted the kind of situation I would be in. Let’s just say that it didn’t look good at all. It was pitiful to picture myself as the woman I had imagined.

Snapping back to reality was the best feeling ever! I realised just how much I could still do to end up at a better place than I had seen myself in. There was suddenly an opportunity to work on my attitude and realise that the change begins with me and in my mind.

The best thing is that suddenly I don’t fear much in life as I used to. The greatest lesson I’ve learnt is that instead of focusing on fear of the uncertain future, it is much better to focus on the possibility of great things that lie ahead in my life.

So be kind to yourself. Don’t leave any room for fear, open wide your life to the possibilities of a positive future.

Courage is a state mind!

HOW I SURVIVED DEPRESSION

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Much as I was excited to start my second year at the university, I sure did not feel like I was the same lady. All I felt was disappointment and his cousin called fear. For some reason, word had already spread round the school that I were a girl who “had it all”. As I interacted with schoolmates, there was always such a high  expectation of what I say, what I wear, the guy I am seen with, what I ate for lunch and how much I ate. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced in school life.

All I knew was how to remain socially invisible and just focus on my books. My expectations to remain socially invisible had gone down the drain once word spread across the campus that my two mates and I were the tallest girls on campus. I was horrified once I started experiencing what came with it all at once.

Suddenly, a classmate informed me that someone had placed a bet on me; to have sex with me and then he would win some money.
Suddenly, lady schoolmates felt the need to inform me as soon as I lost or gained weight.
Suddenly, everything I did went on the ‘campus grapevine’ and reached me at the end of the day.

In panic, I resorted to keeping my social circle on lockdown. My efforts were all in vain, for some ‘mates’ had been behind the betting, the rumours and the assumption that I were a politician’s daughter.

On the real side of my life, I was slowly sinking into depression. I was not okay and it took an emergency visit to the school clinic to know. As I walked to the hostel one hot afternoon, I felt faint in a way I had never felt before. A lady stopped me on my way to the clinic to ask if I was ok. But, she said this in reference to the weight I had rapidly lost. I told her that I was fine then staggered my way to the clinic.

After the nurse left me to rest and the fluid from the IV drip seeped into my body, I broke down and cried. For the very first time in my life, I felt so alone. The loneliness inside the hospital-scented room brought out the reality that had been existing inside me. I cried till my nose became hot. I sat in silence. Luckily, a good friend showed up and comforted me. Moments passed and others showed up as soon as they finished their classes. But, for some reason, I still felt alone.

When I went back to the hostel, I slept for a while and hoped to wake up feeling better. This was not the case. I soon received a call informing me that my only grandfather was no more. I had grown tired to a point my tears could not come out anymore. I felt so broken till my voice disappeared;I would open my mouth but no words could come out. Defeated, I lay my head on my pillow and woke up the next day confused but with enough strength to pack my bags and go to the village for the funeral.

All I can remember was that after the funeral, I felt more confident, stronger and complete. After a funeral? Yes.
Well, I’ve got God and my traditional culture to thank. Experiencing loss helped me discover my hidden pains, but also helped me appreciate what I’ve got left. I had my family with me and a great God who loves me. Love came rushing through my heart, kicked out depression and I had a wide smile on my face.

With this gift of a new appreciation of life, I had to carefully chose with whom to share it with. I am glad that we continue to share it even with the ups and downs that have challenged us in the years that followed and brought us to the beauty of today.

My hope is that this little story of mine will encourage you to let go of your past pains and have a deeper appreciation for what you’ve got left after a season of loss.

Love and Sunshine,
Ayuma

REAL BROTHERHOOD, BEYOND RUGBY

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During my freshman year at Daystar University, I thought that it was one big community of people whose friendships lasted only as long as your quest for a degree. But my thoughts slowly changed once I met Tim*, a fourth year student who was an active member of the university’s rugby team.

I had always feared him since his team members were so huge, loud, and all over the place. He was the last person I expected to befriend as a freshman. One day, I asked Tim why he and his team mates eat too much; their plates were always full, at times, too full. The answer he gave me was not what I had expected.

Tim told me that his rugby team mates are like his family and they all go through so much. Since the Post-Election Violence (PEV) in 2007 to 2008 there were some student’s whose lives totally flipped over. There were students living in school and no one really knew. Some went without food and could not even afford a basic meal; this included some of his comrades. This is why some filled their plates with excess food so that they could share it all.

This, to me, was a selfless act of courage. Tim and his friends chose to share in the embarrassment of looking gluttonous to protect and help feed their team members.

From that day, Tim continued being like the village idiot to other students who knew not his intentions. To me, he remains my hero. I still remember to stuff my bag with snacks every now and then so that when I walk in the streets of Nairobi and meet with a hungry person, I reach into my bag and offer them my little gift of food.

I cannot save the world, but I sure can leave a mark in someone’s life even if it’s with the blessed taste of food. With what you’ve got, please reach out and be a blessing to someone.

Love and Sunshine,
Ayuma.

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