The Uuuhs and Aaarghs of my life

Posts tagged ‘Creativity’

Bank on being you!

Bank on being you

Bank on being you

One of my mentors is an event planner who’s been in the event planning business for more than 20 years in Kenya. Let’s call her Alice*.

During a session one day, I asked her what an entrepreneur should protect at all times. I thought she was going to mention networks, investment, knowledge/wisdom, loyal staff members…etc.

Little did I expect to hear her say, “your creativity.”

Alice went further to explain that it is what has kept her in business for more than 20 years. Despite her being one of the pioneers in the wedding industry in Kenya, she has faced challenging times as people check-in to her organisation in the name of “learning” yet in reality some are often sent by competitors to copy her mode of running business. Boy am I learning it first-hand as others try to do the same with my new startup.

Over the years, Alice watched businesses come up and crash down as they tried to copy her approach. They got what they wanted so why didn’t the businesses thrive?

Well, her answer to this is that copying is attractive but in real sense more tiresome than coming up with your own ideas. When a business faces challenges, it is the leader’s creativity that often plays a part in salvaging the organisation.

In her events business, Alice was able to always come up with new products, services and approaches that the “copy cats” found hard to keep up with because they only depended upon her steps. Her creativity helped to fuel her vision which helped her branch out of Kenya and into other countries while some of the “copy cats” went out of business over the years.

Moral of the story: You are your best asset because you are the only one who understands your vision 100%. So protect your creativity as this is what every successful person holds as a secret weapon. Look at some of the most successful initiatives in the world then do a background check on the leaders who contributed to their success. You’ll realise that it’s their creativity that helped them spot opportunities in places, things and climates where others didn’t see possible for the success of their vision.

#StayMotivated

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Michelle Ayuma ~ Creative Communications Specialist

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Michelle Ayuma - Creative Communications Specialist

“Slowly, I’ll rise and get up there. Slowly, I’ll reach the top. Slowly I’ll learn my lessons in life. Slowly I will try my best.” ~Anon

I think that what makes me unique is the fact that I can only function in creative environments. Literally! This is how I get inspired to do something, write a new story, design a new concept or even sing a new song. Also, as a humanitarian, I draw my passion from children. There is always something about children that gives me the courage to keep going, to keep hoping, to keep sharing love in different ways and hopefully leave the world a better place than I found it.

If there is something the world does not know about me, it would be that I started writing stories as a pre-teen. I was always a geek and I never got the chance to hang out with the cool girls or the cute boys in school. Writing helped me paint a world of my own with unique characters that often featured intercultural and interracial relations. At a young age, I picked this up real quick and so later on in life, I had more confidence to meet with people from different backgrounds and totally enjoy their company.

The lowest point in my life so far was about five yeas ago when adversity hit me hard to a point I launched into depression for about three years. After recovery, I came to have a deeper appreciation for life and seasons of loss as well. This helped me appreciate the scars of my past which made me reflect on my strengths which pulled me out of depression.

If I were to meet with the girl I was five years ago, I would tell myself that I am my only limitation because the future is as bright as I imagine it to be. Not knowing my worth is what led me to depression. I can only imagine what difference it would have made in those three years of my life if I was reminded that if I keep working towards my personal vision, I would stumble but I’ll have something to keep fighting for.

My greatest achievement so far is receiving an Enterprise Champion Award this year from OpenText for showing exemplary effort in the promotion of Knowledge Management best practices as a Communication assistant at CARE International’s East and Central Africa’s Regional Management Unit. What makes this a special achievement is that it was my first time interacting with the term ‘Knowledge Management’ but I did not shy away from learning about it. I requested for mentorship by some awesome colleagues in CARE Kenya and CARE Canada and they sure taught me so much and I had fun in the process. This also helped me teach regional staff members and regional communication focal points about fun and interactive ways to share knowledge with an extra African touch – storytelling. I am truly excited to see how some of the initiatives that I started carry-on even after my leaving the amazing CARE global family.

TOP 3:

Best: …travel destination of my dreams is a hot air balloon ride over the Maasai Mara. I love Africa and Kenya to be specific. My country has got the best mix of bush to beach and a snow-capped mountain. How awesome is that!

Craziest: …dream is dancing in the streets of India like in Bollywood movies with a large crowd of people tossing colourful dye and flowers everywhere. Loved it!

Worst: …food is boiled cabbage. I cannot stand the smell of boiler cabbage. The sulphur… oh man!

BEST TIPS ON CREATIVE COMMUNICATIONS:

1. Never compare your dream with that of other people. As a creative, you need to stand out as uniquely as possible.
2. Have a great appetite for learning. Look for opportunities to be mentored by people with knowledge and experience in your fields of interest.
3. Avoid negativity. This is poison to any living creative on the globe. Positivity creates a healthy environment for a creative mind.
4. Keep a journal and write down all of our ideas and thoughts. Reflect upon these from time to time and see how they actively influence your direction in life.
5. Keep-up with the latest news within your field of interest.
6. Invest in technology. Know the latest trends that would compliment your interests and your personality.
7. As a Christian, I love to pray and meditate. This always keeps me on check as I balance what I want out of life and what my purpose is while I am still on earth.

WHAT AM I UP TO LATELY?

After my time at CARE International came to an end, I went back to doing volunteer work as a mentor for young girls at Vision Africa’s Seed of Hope Center. Also, I am currently being mentored by the best of humanitarian communication officers who represent various INGOs at the regional communications network. As I look for my next opportunity to learn more about humanitarian communications and Knowledge Management, I am learning more about creative methods of communication. I am so happy and my heart is full!

I am 25years old.

CONTACT INFORMATION:

Email: ayumamichelle@ymail.com
Skype: Michelle.Senda
Twitter: @ayumyum

PS: Please share your thoughts with me. Thank you!

Scars into Stars – A Lifestyle of Mentorship!

A Lifestyle of Mentorship

A Lifestyle of Mentorship

 

My failed businesses had a purpose after all! Recently, I learned the positive side to all of my failed business projects in the past.

My mother once looked at me as I cried, one failed business followed by another. I had done my research right. I had prepared a super business strategy; I had already contacted some business mentors. Yet still, my businesses did not pick up and failed in the end. I truly learned the art of trial and error with an extra baggage of frustration.

But today, my mother’s words, “My dear child, don’t worry, one day all these things will make sense.”

That ‘one day’ was today!

I met a young man on my way home who camped outside in the cold selling some warm snacks for passers-by. I was intrigued by his determination and the fact that he was the only vendor within vicinity who was actually standing up, waiting for customers. Other vendors had wrapped themselves in warm things as they curled themselves on their chairs waiting for clients.

I’ve got the blood of a marketer so I simply gave-in to the young man for his commendable appeal. What I had planned to be a one-stop trip to buy a roasted smokie with kachumbari led to a deep conversation about business.

He said that he never got the chance to finish school but he’s using what he’s got to earn a decent living. In the freezing cold weather he smiled with excitement over his small business and said that he would like to try out new products. Other vendors had taken up his idea and he needed to beat the competition.

As he spoke, I remembered all of my struggles; all the capital I had invested, burning the midnight oil doing research and coming up with a business strategy, prayers galore and making my family members guinea pigs for business experiments

I could not leave this young man without fueling his passion for his business.

And so I spoke, and asked him questions, provided him with examples and gave him ideas on how to expand his business. He was amazed that a stranger would take time to motivate him!

Well, at the time my business was failing flat on the floor… my friends had no idea about why I needed to make it work so bad, my mentors suddenly went A-WALL, my family honestly just needed a break.

Then I finally learned my lesson today: my business failed not because my attitude or plans were wrong. They simply failed because of that extra push to greatness that I lacked from someone who believed in me.

I know not if I’ll ever meet the young man again, but one thing is for sure – I made sure that by the time I left that young man, he didn’t have questions but ideas to put into action. After purchasing the snacks that he sold, I am glad that he was more determined than I had found him.

~Even if we suffer through challenges, the least we can do is carry the lessons we learn though it all and use them to inspire another person.

This is the true spirit of mentorship!

Yours Truly,
Ayuma.

Storymoja Hay Festival 2013 (19th - 22nd September)

Storymoja Hay Festival 2013 (19th – 22nd September)

 

UPCOMING HAY FESTIVAL!!!

The Storymoja Hay Festival is on September 19 – 22, 2013. Mark the Date. You will definitely leave the festival thinking in a whole new way! Imagine the World OR Waza Dunia

Follow Storymoja Hay Festival on Facebook and on @SMHayFest on Twitter for updates on tickets, travel & accomodation, guest authors, pre-fest events and event programming. see also our official website.

 

HISTORY OF STORY MOJA:

Storymoja Hay Festival is a collaboration between Kenyan publishers Storymoja and Hay Festival UK to create a platform for showcasing great literature, poetry and ideas in the country’s capital, Nairobi.
Out of the various editions organized by Hay Festival UK the Storymoja Hay Festival is the only one in Africa. It is arguably the biggest literary event in East and Central Africa. It is held annually in Nairobi and features internationally renowned creative minds.
Founded in 2008 The Storymoja Hay Festival is a four day celebration of our stories and our culture through storytelling, books, live discussion forums, workshops, debates, live performances, competitions, mchongoano and music.
The Storymoja Hay Festival has grown from 500 visitors the first year, to over 5000 attendees in 2012
We have enjoyed the support of over 50 partners over the last four years, including HIVOS, US Embassy, British Council, Dutch Embassy, National Museums of Kenya, Kenya ICT Board, Google, Alexander Forbes, Oxfam,

Turkey Funeral by @ayumyum

Turkey Funeral

Turkey Funeral

COCK-A-DOODLE-DOO! The farm’s cockerel stirred up life in the farm. Mama walked into my room and found me staring at the ceiling. The carroty rays of the morning sun had pierced through the old curtains creating lovely patterns of light. One pattern looked like a peacock’s tail. Mama thought so too when I pointed it out on my bedroom wall. She then told me to go take the warm bath she had prepared for me and later on head to the hut where Nyanya, my grandmother, was. I sprung out of my mattress and left my little sister Dory* tucked into her bedspread. Mama didn’t bother waking her up. The poor girl was exhausted! She had spent her entire afternoon running around the farm on the previous day when we had arrived at our rural home.

My older cousins had already started doing their chores in preparation for the great family feast in the evening. The boys helped my uncles to choose the best cow for the banquet. The girls accompanied my aunts to the market to buy kitchen supplies and grind sun-dried maize at the millers.

Papa was a busy man. His quick and long strides told it all. He walked from one side of the farm to the other making sure that everything was in order. The cattle had been released. The cows had been milked. The poultry in the farm had been freed from their pens. The guard dogs had been fed. Money had been given to purchase supplies for the feast. A true Kenyan man he was, attested by his special request for a generous order for beer – Tusker to be specific! I never understood why Papa and my uncles liked the soda they called Tusker. I had tasted it once from Papa’s glass but it did not taste nice. It gave people a funny smell in the mouth!

Omwitsukhulu (grandchild) let’s go!” Nyanya called out to me. It was time for our walk. She liked morning walks in the forest. It was the only time she got to take-in fresh whiffs from the Kakamega forest, before the farm filled with activity. I liked accompanying Nyanya. She was the tallest old woman I knew. No one really knew how old she was apart from Kuka, my grandfather.  Whenever she sang, I hummed silently to her tune as we picked fresh wild mushrooms amid the jamboree of trees. She sang in a language that mother had been trying to teach me. Her voice blended well with the choirs of forest birds and the chattering of monkeys. At times I just stopped and stared at her as she slowly knelt to pick mushrooms. The gingery sunrise waves settled on her so gracefully, covering her with a golden coat of light. I followed her closely behind as I picked the mushrooms she uprooted and stored them in a small sisal basket. From a distance, a group of women gathered firewood for their households. They all waved at Nyanya who was quite popular with women from the local church. Every harvest season she gathered women from the fellowship to harvest crop at our farm and go home with a sack full of produce as a token of appreciation.

As soon as we arrived back at the farm, it’s as if we had returned during resurgence.  There was clamour from every corner. People hurried from one point to another. The look on some animals confirmed that I was not the only one in shock. And so I let go of Nyanya’s hand and run towards Dory who was playing with some ducks. Kuka sat nearby on an old tree stump to ensure that Dory finished her breakfast which he held in his hands. The two were inseparable – wherever Kuka was, Dory was just a stone’s throw away. Nyanya said hello to her old love then headed for the kitchen where my aunts and mother were.

As Dory and I played with the birds, groups of men started approaching my grandfather for greetings. It was tradition to do so as a sign of respect. Whenever Kuka wasn’t around, Papa took his place as the eldest son to receive guests at the compound. I couldn’t help but feel so proud of Kuka. He was a short old man but very active in the community’s welfare. After Dory finished her breakfast, he stood up to put the bowl on the stump. Kuka grabbed his brown walking stick and went for a walk near a stream that flowed near his old hut. He did this whenever he wanted to pray. Perhaps he wanted to pray for a good feast and that Nyanya grants his request to make his favourite stew. Or perhaps he wanted to pray that Nyanya doesn’t cook his favourite rooster, she never liked his rooster. “It makes too much noise,” she used to say. Kuka always claimed that the rooster always woke him up in good time. Nyanya often disagreed and took the credit saying that she’s the one who woke it up before other farm animals. I loved how my grandparents got lost in their arguments and then laughed it off in the end.

Dory noticed that Kuka’s turkeys had fed well and gathered under Nyanya’s avocado tree to laze around for a while. The birds were so huge that I thought they would burst if pricked by a sharp object. There was a funny noise they made which I confused for one of Dory’s loud farts. For some reason, she quickly picked up a stone and threw it towards the group of turkeys. The impact it had was unexpected. Suddenly we were scampering from an angry mob of turkeys. The giant ones scared me the most. I thought that I was going to die if even one caught my toe.  “Would it swallow me whole?” But I feared most for Dory and wasn’t sure if a bird had grabbed her already. I cried out loud wondering what I would say if Kuka asked me about Dory. How could I tell him that one of his turkeys had swallowed his best friend?

Luckily, I spotted a clear path that led to the main kitchen at the farm. I could see Mama cleaning some utensils. I thought she was my best chance to prick the turkeys that were chasing me. I hid behind her and watched her scare away the fat birds like a superhero. I clung onto Mama’s colourful khanga tied round her waist and started crying. When she told me to calm down, I let out the secret. “I’m so sorry Mama! Dory threw a stone and the turkeys ate her,” I confessed. “What do you mean?” Mama asked. “Mama, what will I tell Kuka? His turkeys ate Dory!” What I expected to be a loud cry came out as a loud laugh by Mama. I was confused by her reaction then she reassured me that turkeys don’t eat children. I dried off tears from my eyes and jelly from my nose with the hem of Mama’s khanga.

The relief was short-lived as I heard the sound of Dory wailing nearby. Mama and I quickly ran towards the loud cry hoping that she’s alright. I had prepared to see the worst – Dory screaming from the inside of a giant turkey. My heart pounded hard in fright only to find Dory curled up at the foot of the avocado tree. She was crying as she held something in her hands. When she saw us, she uncovered her little hands to show us a young turkey struggling for breath. She asked Mama to rescue it since she was a nurse. Before Mama gave her an unfortunate response, the little bird stopped breathing. I knelt down next to Dory and cried with her. We had never seen anything literally die before our eyes. Mama told us to calm down but Dory shouted, “I killed him mum! I chased his family then his father stepped on him.” We broke into loud cries leading to quizzical reactions from relatives within the compound. To avoid attracting attention, Mama told us to stand up and give turkey to one of the farmers who stood nearby. She said that he would know what to do with turkey. She did not like that Dory held onto a dead bird in her hands. The look on the farmer’s face was so scary that it made Dory immediately surrender turkey to him.

Mama told us to cheer up and go to Kuka’s house to keep him company. She rushed back to the kitchen. Luckily, as soon as our mother disappeared into the kitchen Kuka found us with the farmer. He had heard Dory’s cry which made him worry.

With Kuka by our side, we requested the farmer to let us bury turkey. Kuka told him to let us do what we had asked. He put the bird in an empty packet of wheat flour that had been swept by the wind from the kitchen bin. Kuka walked into his hut and warned us not to get into trouble especially with Nyanya. I think he feared her tempers more than a lion’s roar. The farmer said that we could throw it into the farthest latrine in the farm. Silently, we walked to the latrine as we stared at the packet. The latrine greeted us with a slightly pungent breeze. Luckily, lots of hot ash had been poured into it to mask the full force of a reeking latrine.

A toilet fly kept us company as it buzzed inside the latrine which was made of stone. Dory said that we should pray first before burying turkey, “God please forgive me for throwing a stone at turkey’s family.” I nodded in agreement. “Dear God, please forgive turkey’s father who stepped on him,” she pleaded as she cried. I held her shoulder and helped her complete the prayer by asking God to save some food in heaven for turkey since he would miss food from the feast. “Amen,” we ended the prayer. Dory let go of the packet which landed inside the latrine with a punching plop.

We walked out of the latrine feeling sad that we had lost turkey. But then again we were so glad that he would be in heaven with God who loves turkeys.

Storymoja Hay Festival September 19th -22nd 2013

Storymoja Hay Festival September 19th -22nd 2013

The Storymoja Hay Festival is on September 19 – 22, 2013. Mark the Date. You will definitely leave the festival thinking in a whole new way! Imagine the World
Follow Storymoja Hay Festival on Facebook and on @SMHayFest on Twitter for updates on tickets, travel & accomodation, guest authors, pre-fest events and event programming. see also our official website.

Silly is Legal – A Happy Dance by Ayuma Michelle

I believe in the beauty of simplicity, the colour of life, the romance that comes with every breath of fresh air. There is beauty! So much beauty around us, just waiting to explode into our sight, in our minds and in our lives. And what better means to paint this beauty than with words?

Storymoja Hay Festival Banner

Recently I wondered how ignorant I had been to the serenade of life’s silent simplicities around me. I had long forgotten the things that used to make me laugh out loud silly like a child to a point of tummy ache.
But is this what we ultimately call being grown-up? Hushing the child in us and handing over the baton to the seriousness of life? Tucking away the colours and adorning ourselves with the neutrals of grey? Literally setting aside only two or perhaps three days of the week to focus on “fun” instead of naturally letting fun run throughout our days? Well, despite the modern complexities we often find ourselves tangled into; let us forget not the simple things, just an inch away, to make you smile.

Here’s an interesting trip I recently took to my kitchen for breakfast. I captured some of the silly monologues I often host in my mind where imagination is the rule of the game. I hope you manage to steal a chuckle or two from this piece:

Breakfast Call

A beautiful song calls me from sleep at first light,
A chill oozes though my grumpy bedroom wall to pinch my cheek,
Into my bed, I slothfully sink like a strawberry into a pool of honey… Just for a few sweet seconds,
Then I hear it again!
The clash of crystal-like elements, breaking and crashing into beautiful symphony,
The chorale of bubble pops, jelly plops, juicy splash, crispy crackles,
All leading me into a sailing fling like a weightless feather.
Step by step,
I tip and toe,
To clink and the clank,
Of the chant.
And there they are… All lined up to serve me with their deliciousness.
“Pick me! Choose me!”
Charming me with their hotchpotch of tangs,
My knees grow weak, slowly giving-in to crippling cavity.
To my rescue, beckons Monsieur de l’eau, “C’est moi Cherie! C’est moi!”
And so I reach out first for his crystal arm and entertain Champagne’s sober cousin.
Suddenly, all in the land of Jikoni exclaim, “Relief! She is well fed.”
###

Did You Know?
The Storymoja Hay Festival is at bay and I for one look forward to joining various discussions to help me grow as a writer and a creative being. Workshops for writers, talks on writing, focus on identity, the environment and culture, all under this year’s theme “Imagine the World” [Waza Dunia]. Be sure to diarise 19th – 22nd September 2013 and be there with me. For now, please join the ongoing discussions on Facebook and Twitter!

Yours Truly,
Ayuma.

African Fashion Rocks!!!

WELCOME TO LA MAR

There’s a wild animal in each one of us!

We live in this modern jungle called Nairobi where the survival for the sleekest is the rule of game.

La Mar - Splash of Colour

La Mar – Splash of Colour

LA MAR celebrates two official years of online shopping for authentic fashion accessories which are all custom-made!

La Mar Designs - Photography by Ben Kiruthi

We believe in the beauty of bringing out the best features of each animal in us with a dash of African flair: the rockers, the rooted African, the nostalgic retroman , sporty dudes & dudettes, the dynamic artist, the boardroom giant, you name it, we’ve got somemething for everyone!

La Mar - Mosaic of a Woman Dance

La Mar – Mosaic of a Woman Dance

There is a wide range of accessories to meet your fancy!

La Mar - Mosaic of a Woman Professional

La Mar – Mosaic of a Woman Professional

Men’s fashion, Women’s fashion, Kids’ fashion and even Home and Office accessories.

La Mar - Men's Fashion

La Mar – Men’s Fashion

La Mar - Fabulosity

La Mar – Fabulosity

La Mar - Kids' Collection

La Mar – Kids’ Collection

La Mar - Office and Home Wall Piece

La Mar – Office and Home Wall Piece

Our team is driven by a pure mix of creativity, fun and an adventurous smashing of rules to come up with fantastic pieces that leave each wearer of our designs feeling absolutely fabulous.

Faces of La Mar

Faces of La Mar

Having started from simple beginnings, LA MAR has now grown into a dynamic online shop through the LA MAR Facebook Page with thousands of fans from across the urban jungle. Like our page NOW and indulge in our rich serving of glamour!

La Mar - Standing Out

La Mar – Standing Out

It is said that a picture speaks a thousand words. So let La Mar blow your mind away with the thousands-of-words captured in the gallery below from the LA MAR Gallery.

Enjoy!

LA MAR PAIRINGS

La Mar - Fun Times Piece

La Mar – Fun Times Piece

La Mar - Safari Pairing

La Mar – Safari Pairing

La Mar - Date Night Pairing

La Mar – Date Night Pairing

La Mar - Afrique Pairing

La Mar – Afrique Pairing

LA MAR RINGS

La Mar - Ring Collection

La Mar – Ring Collection

La Mar - Rings

La Mar – Rings

LA MAR LONG NECK PIECES

La Mar - Funky Neck Piece

La Mar – Funky Neck Piece

La Mar - Men's Neck Piece

La Mar – Men’s Neck Piece

La Mar - Funky Fun Neck Piece

La Mar – Funky Fun Neck Piece

LA MAR EAR PIECES

La Mar - Button Ear Piece

La Mar – Button Ear Piece

La Mar - Ear Piece Fun

La Mar – Ear Piece Fun

La Mar - Ear Piece

La Mar – Ear Piece

LA MAR WRIST PIECES

La Mar - Charm Wrist Piece

La Mar – Charm Wrist Piece

La Mar - Wrist Mix

La Mar – Wrist Mix

La Mar - Men's Cuff Piece

La Mar – Men’s Cuff Piece

LA MAR ANTIQUE PIECES

La Mar - Brass Neck Piece

La Mar – Brass Neck Piece

La Mar - Bold Antique Neck Piece

La Mar – Bold Antique Neck Piece

La Mar - Aluminium Neck Piece

La Mar – Aluminium Neck Piece

La Mar - Antique Neck Piece

La Mar – Antique Neck Piece

LA MAR BROOCHE

La Mar - Brooche Piece

La Mar – Brooche Piece

LA MAR BAGS

La Mar - Fuschia Clutch Bag

La Mar – Fuschia Clutch Bag

La Mar - Clutch Bag

La Mar – Clutch Bag

LA MAR GIFT CARD

La Mar - Gift Card

La Mar – Gift Card

More from the LA MAR Gallery:

La Mar Beginnings

La Mar Spring 2013 Men’s Collection

La Mar Spring 2013 Women’s Collection

La Mar Fall 2012 Collection

La Mar Kid’s Collection

La Mar Home and Office Collection

La Mar Weddings

La Mar Bag Collection

La Mar Mosaic of a Woman Photoshoot

Out of the Shadows Fashion Catwalk featuring La Mar designs

Do you like what LA MAR has got for you?

Place your order NOW and get a free delivery within Nairobi!!!

Contact us on +254 787 148 198

We do welcome your feedback.

Keep it LA MAR!

🙂

La Mar - Logo

La Mar – Logo

Yours Truly,

Ayuma.

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