LIFE

RECLAIMING MY POWER.

I never imagined I’d ever be counted as a statistic. Its one of those stories you hear about, happening to other people… never you; But one day you find yourself a victim and your life completely changed. 6 months later, you finally accept that its happened, but vow never to forget.

…THIS IS MY STORY…

Every time I think about it, I realise that he had it all planned out; pre-meditated on his actions and all that was remaining was for me to follow the script. The script to a play I never auditioned for.

Every time I think about it, I realise that in his eyes, I was (am) just a body, no soul. To him, I was an object designed especially for his pleasure; to be subsequently to be disposed of. 

I get shivers, every time I think about it. It could have happened differently, I could have been killed that night. I am thankful to be alive.

Its hard , not to hate every inch of myself, every time I think about it. Looking at myself in the mirror and not recognising the reflection looking back. Its hard to shut off the voices inside and outside your mind, telling you that its your fault… ‘you should have been more careful

Every time I think about it.

Its been 6 months of thinking about it. 6 long months of fighting with myself and my emotions. Of finding myself in a dark and what seemed like endless hole. Realising that time is standing still and passing me by simultaneously.

Sexual Assault: A term used to describe criminal acts that are sexual in nature e.g unwanted touching or kissing, groping or  forcing the victim to touch the perpetrator in sexual ways.

Rape: Sex without consent. Including oral sex.

I was sexually assaulted just as 2018 was coming to a close, by someone I knew. We were never really friends, but I knew him. What I thought was an innocent interaction, resulted in me losing a big part of myself.

He knew his intentions of the night. He had it all planned out. . He didn’t account for his lead actress not following the script. We met in a public place but that didn’t stop him.

His plan? To get me drunk and take me home.

His mistake? I wasn’t in a drinking mood and paced myself as he gulped down his drinks.

There was something about the way he downed the drinks that made me anxious then, after some time, he said it ‘ I don’t like this place, too noisy. Come to my apartment its close by. I can buy Champagne on the way and I can make you my special cocktail

There it was his intention.

I said no. Why would I go to his house from the restaurant, yet I have my own place to stay?

He bought shots, of the deadliest alcohol they had. 63% abv. He had 4 of them, all at once. I had two, paced. He then switched up, ‘ You know I love you‘ I laughed at the joke, except when I looked up, he had a serious look. ‘ I’m serious, I’ve always loved you, but you broke my heart this year’ Again I failed to follow the script because I just laughed and ignored his comments. It must have infuriated him.

About half an hour later, as I excused myself to go to the washroom, he grabbed my bag before I could and began walking out with my phone, my keys and my wallet. ‘Come you can use the bathroom at my place its close by…‘ He had the higher bargaining power, I saw no other choice.

Five minutes later, in his apartment (which I’ve come to find out was never his), I asked to use the washroom. I returned to the living room, picked my bag and looked for my phone to call an Uber… it wasn’t there… he had set the ball in motion. He had picked it out of my bag and hidden it. He said it was in the bedroom (which I hadn’t entered yet) then tried to manipulate me into thinking that I had put it there myself… silly boy! He misjudged my level of drunkenness.

If there was ever a moment that I knew I was in danger, that was it. As I was trying to call an uber, he burst out crying, taking me by surprise. My kind heart and curiosity let me down, because I wanted to know why he was crying.

*sob* you know I love you, *heavy sob* I truly loved you and you hurt me. I even bought your friends drinks and have been nice to them to get your attention’ ‘I love you’

Next thing I know, I was on the bed, his lips were all over my neck and he was trying to kiss me as well. I screamed ‘NO! STOP IT‘ many times, shocked that this was happening. I tried pushing him off but he is quite heavy. I was about to give up.. thinking that it would be easier to let it get over quickly… but somehow, I was still resisting and screaming ‘No‘ even though I knew that no one could hear me. ‘I would never hurt you, I love you. I would never hurt you, I love you’ he repeated over and over as though those words were to comfort me.

I don’t know if it was fear of what was about to happen, but something came over me and I shoved him, got off the bed picked my things and began screaming at him… you know what he did? He blocked the door and began crying ‘I would never hurt you, I love you’ He still had the audacity to keep going. ‘Don’t go I’m sorry‘ He made as if to hug me, and I took the opportunity to push him to the floor and make my way out… he still followed me, begging for us to ‘talk about it‘, all the way to the taxi…

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Or so I thought, that was just the beginning of what was to be the hardest 6 months of my life so far. I was fortunate enough to have a friend act as my sense in the moment and convince me to report the incident. Had I not done so, I’m sure the secret would have made me worse off than I was.

The thing is, this experience is such a lonely one. The only true home you have on this earth (the body) has been violated. Emotions are all over the place, but you have to keep it together. An ongoing police case and the voices of people around you don’t make it any better. ‘ He didn’t know what he was doing and now that I’ve explained it to him, he’s sorry‘ The words of my assaulter’s friend, trying to convince me to drop the case and settle the issue without police involvement. Does it make it worse that this was a fellow woman?

It doesn’t end there, even those you’d assume would support you, end up victim blaming and try cover it up as advice. ‘You shouldn’t have been there’ and‘ Sometimes the victim needs to hear the truth’ These same people when unfortunately made to imagine the women close to them as a victim, suddenly become soft… ‘Oh that’s different‘ they’d say… Is it because only those that they love can be a victim?… I hadn’t explained the whole story because I didn’t see the need to beg for support.

I sat in the pit of loneliness for a while, deciding that it is best I keep everything to myself and very few trusted people. Hoping that I would experience the healing that they say ‘comes with time‘ On the outside, everything seemed fine, on the inside was a mess. The world kept going, as it should, despite my life being turned around. It was my job to keep up. I still attended classes and tried my best to keep up social interactions but it was hard. Imagine being physically present but the sights, sounds and even smells around you seem to be coming from a distant.

Anxiety crept up on me. I was scared of leaving the house, least I bump into him or his friends. When I did, my brain played tricks on me because I kept seeing people who looked exactly like those I was hoping to avoid. This kept going, until I actually saw him… twice! The first time he didn’t see me but the second, outside the library he did, and looked me straight in my eye… but I had to keep going.

Insomnia became my friend, fuelled by the thoughts that would not stop racing around my head. I envied my youngest self because she would sleep through anything, yet at hat moment, the slightest noise would wake me. My memory got tampered with, I could barely remember the simplest things and it was a struggle to pay attention when someone was talking to me. Worse, my speech was slightly impaired. I noticed how hard it became to speak without stammering, or to speak and remember words. I no longer knew myself and quite frankly was slowly losing the will to do so.

Nothing made sense anymore. Nothing was interesting and so I began giving up. The signs were there, the way I spoke, ate, dressed. I became increasingly irritable at the smallest things, the end of the month being the worst, my body felt 10 times heavier than it actually is. The simplest thing like getting out of bed became a chore, I completely hated this body that became a chore to carry around.

For 6 months, I slowly lost interest in everything even things I enjoyed seemed like punishment. All this went on until recently when I decided it was enough. He had taken too much away from me and so despite losing a big part of myself, I decided to reclaim my power not only for myself, but for those who may be afraid to speak up due to fear or those who sadly have been silenced forever.

This is a social issue that is avoided regularly because it has to do with sex. An act which has been labelled as shameful. How long will we refuse to speak about it despite the rising number of cases being reported? How long will we allow the victims to punish themselves because law enforcers decide its not an important enough case to get involved in? Unfortunately, the more we keep silent about it, the more we allow it and only when it happens to someone you love will you realise how serious an issue is. Question is though, will anyone be willing to help even then?

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LIFE

TO BE A WOMAN (II)

Growing up surrounded by numerous (XY) chromosomes meant I did not feel the rush to be romantically involved with anyone till I was 18 (much to the disappointment of many). This could also be attributed to the fact that my parents are strict and unlike my brothers, I was always afraid of getting caught. I eventually had my first relationship and it was sweet and innocent for the most part 🙂 but like everything else it came to an end. Now younger me was quite fortunate, the men around me were most often around to make sure I was protected, they always did it no matter how irritating it would be. My 13 year old self would be nervously talking to a boy when my older brother decides to pop up ‘to get something from me‘ or my younger brother screams my name from the balcony. More often than not though, they had been sent by the Mzee. They were always there, until they couldn’t be.

I am the daughter of a man who is more traditional than most; This means that there were certain topics he could not dare bring up with me, boys being one of them. However, the Sunday after I finished my high school exams he brought it up without me realising it. He took it upon himself to warn me of how dangerous men can be…

‘When you go out here are some rules to follow always…

  1. Buy your own drinks
  2. If anyone offers to buy you a drink, make sure it is opened in front of your eyes
  3. If you leave your drink to go to the toilet, don’t bother with it once you come back… buy another one
  4. Do not leave anyone with your drink, carry it with you if you can even to the dance floor.
  5. When you’re going out even if its during the day, make sure you have enough money to settle your half of the bill. Never rely on any man’

You see, what most boys don’t understand is that part of the reason I tend to be picky with who I decide to get involved with is because his words are always ringing in my head. The minute I sense something is off with a guy, thats the end of the road… The unfortunate part about growing up though, is that there is no blueprint to life. Those who care enough can give us advice but most times it is only experience that will teach you a lesson. No matter how good you are, or how much you try to keep yourself safe.

I went into university with the words from my father constantly ringing in my ear anytime I went out. Obviously due to society’s tendency to victim blame, I also make sure that I am dressed appropriately enough for the event but not to the extent that I would encourage a man to approach me. From experience though, men will always grab whoever they like no matter what they are dressed in. In fact, refusing their advances or fighting back will only lead you into more trouble. Being told no, is like a hot slap to their face, it angers them and the one way they know how to take care of their bruised ego is to retaliate; either through words or actions. Let me introduce you to three different guys I have have met.

  1. The Nice Guy/ Gentleman:  I met him during my first year of University. To me, he was only ever going to be a friend, but he saw things in a different light. We met outside my accommodation the first time, then the next was inside a club. We began talking and it was strictly on friendly basis, until two weeks later he messaged me saying ‘You know I like you‘. It came as a shock so all I could think of replying was ‘Uh, thank you‘. As can be expected, he didn’t take that too well and the conversation turned a bit nasty. He later apologised and we tried going back to how things were. Unfortunately he was good friends with my flatmate and was over pretty much all the time. He eventually managed to get a kiss during a party, but that only served to make it clear for me that I was not at all attracted to him. I gently broke it down to him the next day and he seemed to take it well until he didn’t. Messages came flooding  in, filled with insults. He called me a user and said that he had put off so much time from his final project and topped it off by saying that he only wanted to treat me like a queen . He would later tell me as he apologised, that back home, he never had to try so hard to get a woman’s attention and that I frustrated him to the point he couldn’t hold back the insults. I had to make it clear that we are from two different countries and that he would need to respect me as a person, before eventually discontinuing conversation with him.

 

2. The Rich Guy/ Arrogant: This is by far the worst kind of guy I’ve met. In addition to descending from a highly misogynistic culture, his access to the amount of funds he ‘accidentally‘ mentioned one day makes him feel entitled and therefore expects everything to go his way. He got frustrated because he tried it with me, threw hints my way, offered to buy me and my friends as many drinks as we wanted but nothing was working. What he didn’t know is that my father has always ensured I understand the importance of being independent from any man. Defeated he tried the I love you card one night and proceeded to break down into tears claiming I hurt him so much (we barely talked though). Fed up, he resorted to try take my power from me buy forcing himself on me. It was a struggle I won’t lie, but fortunately he failed miserably. Unfortunately, his assault broke a huge part of me that I am still trying to recover from. Despite his numerous messages begging for forgiveness and still claiming his love for me,  we don’t talk/ associate anymore.

 

3. The Unusual one: I’ll stick with this title for lack of a more suitable description. See I’ve never met this guy before. He saw me on my friend’s Snapchat post, three years ago and decided he likes me. I’m really strict with who I allow to follow me on Snapchat, but after constantly pestering my friend for my number I allowed her to give him my username. He followed me but didn’t talk to me for a good number of months and I seemingly forgot about him up until I posted a book I was reading and he commented on it. He seemed interesting and so we began talking. It was on neutral ground so I didn’t see a reason to keep my guards up. I travelled and was cut off from the world for a month and our conversation inevitably died. He knew when I was back in Kenya, we had a brief conversation through my friend’s phone, but never actually met. So why then did he feel the need to call me at 3:00 a.m on New Years day to tell me that he loves me and wants us to be together? Thank God for bad network that day because I honestly have no idea what I would have said. When we had a proper conversation later, I told him that I don’t get into a relationship with someone I’ve never met and barely know, a comment which he took to heart because according to him ‘we had spoken enough for me to know him‘ and he added that ‘a relationship is the best way to get to know someone‘. I was adamant and he did’t like it, so to try persuade me he began sending messages that pointed the fact that two people are better together and can achieve much more than a single person. He went on to say that he had to see me soon, tried to convince me to get a plane ticket home and even offered to buy it for me because I was perfect for him. When he later found out that I was seeing someone, he became emotional saying he had tried to befriend me because he wanted me. My lack of responses to his messages after, had him trying to get my attention on all social media platforms. I eventually had enough and let him know. His response was emotional blackmail , claiming I looked down on him and that’s wrong because I don’t know how much he will achieve in future… Safe to say I don’t bother with him anymore, even when he tries messaging me.

I unfortunately had to painfully discover that men tend to be the same, they just have different ways of showing it. Had I been told this before? Yes. But as I said sometimes you just have to experience something for it to actually stick. These three examples I’ve shared are all the same. They couldn’t accept rejection and so they tried to hurt me in their own way, through words or actions. They had to make me suffer for a decision I made that was contrary to what they wanted.

Being a woman is a terribly difficult task since it consists principally in dealing with men’

 

 

 

 

 

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LIFE

TIME.

Well would you look at that, its November, two months left to the end of this year… Time really is flying isn’t it?

While having dinner at a friend’s house recently, one of the conversations that came up was one we may all be familiar with… of a friend who happened to leave the country for studies and unfortunately ended up getting involved with drugs, and had to drop out. Fortunately the person upon returning was able to get back on his feet and turn his life around.

However, what inspired this post was a comment my friend happened to make…

“Yeah well he wasted 5 years of his life”

But did he really? 

Obviously in comparison to his friends, he would be considered to be ‘behind in life’. I personally however do not believe there’s anything like having ‘wasted’ time in your life. Let me explain why:

Where you are in this given moment, is exactly where you’re supposed to be in order to make a difference in this world’ – Me

I started saying this phrase when some of my mum’s friends would question why I was going into university after their children, yet we started school together. The comparison used to really weigh in on me, and I began feeling slightly embarrassed.

‘Have I let down my parents?’

‘Will I never be able to make something out of myself because I’m behind?’

‘Oh no, now they’ll get ahead with life and I’ll be left behind’

These are just some of the questions that would instantly flow through my mind at the time, and honestly they are quite depressing.

However, two years later, I am appreciative of where I am and how much I have matured. I would definitely not be the same person had I rushed into university. All the people I’ve met and activities I have participated have shaped me into who I am today. In fact, this blog is as a result of me going to University when I did, I’d never have gathered the courage to share my thoughts with you if otherwise.

Same goes for the guy in the story, for him to get to where he is today, he had to go through what he did for those 5 years which people claim he wasted. They weren’t a waste as they taught him valuable lessons that hopefully could be a driving factor to his influence on the world. Those 5 years steered him in the direction he is destined to be going. He had to lose himself  first to find his calling.

The fact that we each have different paths and callings is the reason I do not believe in the phrase ‘You’re losing time’. The main reason we are so used to this is because we enjoy comparing our life to that of the person next to us; very illogical seeing as we are different in almost every aspect. Different purposes, different goals.

Next time you think that you’re losing time by postponing a major event in your life such as making the decision to go into University, Start a business or even get married, stop and ask yourself:

  1. Who am I comparing myself to?
  2. Why do I feel pressured to do this?
  3. Am I ready to do this?

I believe that asking yourself this will help you realise that this life you’re  living is your own, and no one should rush or pressure you to doing things that you do not feel prepared to do. There is a reason for everything including the fact that you don’t feel  ready. Possibly that’s not the path you should be following or it isn’t the right time for you.

Hesitation is also an answer

Recently, Ariana Grande released a song that as lyrics I believe resonate with what I’m trying to say.

The song is called ‘thank u, next

‘I got so much love, got so much patience…

I’ve learnt from my pain, I’ve turned out amazing’

Have a listen to it 🙂

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I really like this picture; The fact I could look so calm and collected when I was really a wreck on the inside is amazing.

 

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TRAVEL

THE HIDDEN BEAUTY THAT IS FIJI.

Jet-lag has had me sleeping continuously for the past 3 days since my arrival back into the U.K and it’s definitely not done with me just yet. I’m not complaining though, anyone who knows me knows that if presented with a choice of two activities, one being sleep, I’d always choose sleep. However, falling asleep at the weirdest times in the most uncomfortable places isn’t anything I signed up for. Fiji, was, as you’ll soon find out definitely worth it.

Departing from London’s busy Heathrow airport, was nothing  compared to my arrival into Fiji’s Nandi International airport. Of all the landings I’ve ever experienced, Fiji definitely wins by a landslide for the most beautiful views from above. It starts, all water and then gradually as you approach one of the main islands, Viti Levu, land appears from the water in the most magnificent of ways, and suddenly you see signs of human life; the green of the hills, the grey of the mabati sheets (corrugated iron) that they use to build their bures (houses) and cars on the road. Even then, you are definitely not prepared for what awaits you when you actually step foot on the island. Travelling for 28+ hours is no easy feat, but, and feel free to quote me on this, the destination is definitely worth the length of that journey.

If you travel often, you know the worst part about arriving your destination is meeting the immigration officers. It’s quite intimidating because one wrong word and they’re onto your case. Well Fijians do things very differently, as you walk into the immigration section, you are welcomed with live acoustic music and wide smiles. This one simple act definitely lessens your nerves which you later discover weren’t necessary since the immigration officers themselves are quite friendly. Added bonus to this trip was the fact that Kenya (and a number of other countries) is visa-exempt. For the first time I didn’t have to go through the stress of obtaining a visa to enter a country. All you need is your passport and flight ticket.

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The men usually wear shirts and a Sarong.

If I show you a world map, would you be able to locate Fiji?

I wouldn’t be surprised that a majority of people have no idea where Fiji is. In fact I can bet 90% of people only know of Fiji because of their Rugby 7s team.

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Photo courtesy of soileiragusgonta.com

Located at the South Pacific, Fiji appears literally as a dot (or in our case, the star) on the world map. It however, is made up of 322 islands, the biggest being Viti Levu, which is where the capital, Suva, is located and Vanua Levu. Being in Fiji made me realise that the Fijians are in their own bubble whether or not they realise it themselves. They are awake when everyone else is asleep and asleep when the rest of the world is awake. To make it a bit more clearer, Fiji is a good 9 hours ahead of Kenya. In all honesty, time difference is one of the many advantages Fiji has; that and the distance between them and the rest of the world. (Chinese have however found heir way there as they have everywhere else 🙂 )

I had the opportunity of visiting Fiji during their ‘winter’ period. I say this lightly because I was sweating profusely by the time I disembarked from that plane and made my way into immigration. It was only 8 a.m and the temperatures were already as high as  24 degrees celsius . However, the heat was just a slight inconvenience which I got used to over time.

Aki nibebee Unga ya chapati na ugali. Na usisahau majani chai na..’  ( Please bring for me Chapati*and ugali* flour. and don’t forget..). This is the most common request you’ll hear anyone living abroad give to another travelling to them from the motherland. It’s not even surprising that we may be violating customs by bringing in foodstuffs from outside the destination country, but they don’t say anything so we don’t bother to be cautious..right?

Well, being an island far away from everyone else, Fiji strives to protect her biosphere. This is evident because before you can proceed to the arrivals terminal of the airport, you have to go through screening. The biosphere officers take great caution on what can enter the country. In fact you have to declare if:

  1. You have visited a farm in the days prior to arrival in Fiji.
  2. You have in your possession any tinned food/ fruits.
  3. You have anything else that is restricted in Fiji.

Refusing to declare and being found with anything illegal results in a thorough search of you and your bags and, if anything is found imposition of a heavy fine which must be paid in cash at the moment.

Once you leave the airport, it’s a breath of fresh air. The cool breeze coming in through the windows to cool you down, the warm smiles and waves of pedestrians who shout “Bula!” when they see you and all that topped up by the smooth roads you travel on. I did not encounter one single pothole during my stay in Fiji. To say I was impressed would be a lie, I was more than that and slightly embarrassed when I compared what I was seeing to the current state of Kenya’s infrastructure.

The long drive towards Suva (capital city) and as well towards Namosi Highlands (where I stayed for 3 weeks), left me absolutely speechless. The Pacific Ocean, a deep blue farther out, blended seamlessly with the lighter blue closer to the shore and looked magnificent on the right side of the road. While on the left, hills, filled with grass, and trees, showing the different shades of green depending on where the sun’s rays touched. Seeing cows, and horses grazing peacefully and having the scent of food, especially the rice and meat cooking in the structures on the side of the road really made me realise how far away from home I actually was. It was at that moment that I kind of missed home, but I managed to push that feeling out of my mind and continued to take in the beauty of where I was.

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EXPERIENCING THE FIJIAN WAY OF LIFE

Culture in its most basic form is defined as the way of life of a group of people.

By the time you’re visiting a new country, more often than not you’re either going to face a completely new culture, or one that is similar to yours in some ways. Whatever the case, do not go trying to make changes to suit your lifestyle. That is an insult to the community you are visiting. Instead, go with an open mind, ready to learn new things, try correct in a subtle manner but remember, if it’s not your culture you may have to take the long route to make any changes.

Fiji is one of the few countries I can say have really tried to preserve their culture while still adapting to changing times. Going to live in an actual Fijian village enabled me to experience this culture first hand and in turn learnt to appreciate where I am from even more.

Below is a summary of their culture, I found it not so different from the culture back in Kenya which helped me adjust quite fast.

Family – Basic unit of the clan. The father is the head of the family. He is so revered that he has his own door in the house located at the front of the house. Everyone else uses the family door or the kitchen door.

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This was our family picture taken in front of our house on the last day. The door shown is the father’s door. P.S Notice my Vava rocking the Dashiki I gifted him 🙂 

In addition to that, the village have a community hall where village meals are hosted, events are held and Kava (their traditional drink) is drunk for a large number of people

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The villages are led by a chief, who sits at the front during ceremonies, and he is assisted by his Turanikoro (the speaker).

I must add that family is so important to them. When we were in the village we were assimilated into the families and I’m sure if any of us were to return, we’d be welcomed with open arms.

Roles – As it was with most African communities back in the day, roles in the Fijian culture are divided along gender lines. For example, men are responsible for building houses/ providing security while the women stay home and cook/clean/take care of the children. However, the girls still go to school and luckily are allowed to participate in sports. In fact when we were there we were honoured to meet one of the 2 girls in the province who plays rugby competitively with the boys.

Customs/ Rituals – Fijians always welcome you into their home when they are having a meal. Kerekere (sharing) means that the villagers are not supposed to let anyone pass their home without offering them some food or a place to stay if they are travelling. This works for them because they don’t really have the issue of insecurity.

In addition to that, as the pictures above show, everything is done on the floor. Meals are eaten while sitting on the floor and sleeping is also don’t on the floor. My volunteer sister and I however, were lucky to get a house with a bed in our own separate room, which our family insisted we use. If you walk into a room where people are sitting down, it is custom that you sit as well even though you’re there for a few minutes just because being at a level higher than the rest is a sign of power/esteem.

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Our nene’s banana cake was hands down the best!

I know this is something that’s common everywhere, but it’s quite prominent in Fiji. Remove shoes before entering any building. That includes, houses, community hall, offices and even classrooms.

Dressing– While in the village setting and when working in schools, girls were not allowed to wear any revealing clothes, we were wearing maxi dresses and tops with sleeves or the sulu with a top. It was a bit more lenient for the guys as they could wear short, but had to wear shirts with sleeves as well. However, during solemn ceremonies they also had to wear their sulu or traditional sarong. In all honesty I didn’t find it hard adapting to this mode of dressing. I had carried my deras and they helped me survive !

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Our school made outfits for us as a farewell gift,

We were allowed to wear knee-length shorts or 3/4  leggings when we went out for excursions but we had to cover up before getting into the village.

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While by the river for swimming

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Covering up before heading back to the village

Sports- I think I don’t have to say it. The fact that Fijians take sports very seriously. I mean if you look at their physiques you can tell that being active is just a part of their lives. However, it isn’t just in Rugby which is their national sport. They also play netball and volleyball very well. While in Fiji we had the chance of celebrating a national holiday with them. Would you believe me if I told you that it was their National sports day though? We spent that day competing with one of the villages and I’m sure it comes as no surprise when I tell you we lost pretty much all our games 🙂 but it was all fun.

It’s so unfortunate that I had to leave that little paradise and come back to my reality.

To Fiji, especially Vunidavo village all I can say is a massive Vinaka Vaka Levu (thank you very much) for the three weeks I spent with you and the lessons I learnt 🙂

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Sunsets in the village were definitely the best. ❤

N.B/

  • *Chapati and ugali are local dishes eaten in Kenya
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LIFE

DEATH; THE EXIT.

‘ This is for my people who just lost somebody; your best friend, your baby, your man, or your lady.. mothers, daddies, sisters, friends and brothers, this is for my people who just lost their grandmothers. We will never say bye.’ – Bye bye Mariah Carey

When I was younger I always used to wonder who in my family would be the first to go. I was (and maybe still am) interested in my own position in that line. Unfortunately the list has begun to reveal itself..

This train of thought used to make me fear death completely, ‘how is it possible to just stop breathing ?’ ‘Is it painful?’ ‘Which is better; death in your sleep or being shot?’ Truth is these are just mundane questions whose answers we will never really know; one can only imagine , never actually coming to a solid answer. Why? Because we have to experience it.

I have a theory,

‘ A person in their final days knows it; they just can’t tell anyone about it for the fact that its personal. In any case, no one will believe you or they’ll quickly dismiss you as you talk to them, perhaps calling it ‘bad/dark thoughts.’

Now I’m sure you’re wondering how/ why/ when I came up with this. Well, simply from observation as well as hearing as people recount the last moments they shared with the deceased. There’s that line that is so commonly said ‘ Its like they knew they were going‘. The most intimate time I heard that line being used was after the death of my Late Aunt Ciru, and looking back at her final months and days, it was as if she knew…

Only problem is, being human, we never want to think about it [death], so we can only wait for it to show up at our doorsteps, something I must admit is quite the bad habit.

‘Why do you live like tomorrow is promised?’

How easy is it for us to say things like ‘I’ll do it tomorrow’ or ‘Can we meet next week instead?’ To be fair, I agree on the unpredictability of this life we are living. There are times when circumstances just do not allow us to do all we want/ set our minds to do in a given day. It may be stress levels/ unfavourable weather/ work overload, you name it.

However, if you really reflect on it, there’s been times you just rescheduled or procrastinated because you assumed ‘tomorrow‘ is another day that will be granted to  you. If you’re reading this, obviously your assumption came to pass, but that luck can’t last forever.

With death, more often than not, comes the feeling of regret. This emotion always reveals itself in subtle and not so subtle forms after the demise of someone. We always hear it, we always express it in our words…

We were supposed to..but I put it off’

‘I actually wanted to come see him/her last week..but’

‘I wish our last conversation wasn’t a fight…’

‘I wish I knew they were suffering/ I wish I did something..’

I have personally been a victim of this myself. Exactly one year and a week ago, my grandfather passed away…. unexpectedly. Just a week prior, mum had told me to call him and let him know that I was home. I instead suggested we go see him over the weekend when he was free (mainly because I’m very uncomfortable with phone calls, something I’ve really been struggling to change since). As you may already have figured it out, I did not get to see him because he proceeded to fall seriously ill a day or two later; and unfortunately he did not want us to see him in that state. I should have gone though, I should have forced issues, I shouldn’t have entertained guests in the house while he was dying in a hospital bed… (R.E.G.R.E.T). He died, and it took me months to be at peace with it and forgive myself for putting unimportant things before the ones that matter most to me.

There’s honestly nothing as bad, as looking down at the coffin of someone you love and get overwhelmed with sadness.  True, death is a sad occurrence in the fact that we lose someone we love, but it really should be about celebrating the fact that they lived and we got to be a part of their life. So tell me, why did I, why do we, feel regret when it happens?

‘We need to live our lives as if we were to die tomorrow.’ – Mahatma Gandhi

Death or even the thought of it, changes us; directly or indirectly and whether we like it or not.

I don’t know if you’ve read stories of patient’s who are given a few months/years to live and how they sometimes manage to accomplish a lot before their time comes. I always find such interesting. I mean, imagine ticking many things off your bucket list in a limited time.. the mere thought of going without having done much appears to be the force that pushes us to go the extra mile.

Maybe living with the thought that the next 24 hours may be our last is a habit we need to learn to practice. ‘If these were my last 24 hours, how would I want to spend them?’

How do you want to be remembered? and what do you want to be remembered for? Some of us will be great; known across all continents of the world, make millions. Some of us will be unknown; surviving, making money but choosing to remain unknown. Whatever our path, the destination is the same; 6 feet in. So what really matters is what you leave behind, how do you want to be remembered?

Truth is, you’ll mainly be remembered for the number of people whose lives you touched and somehow changed.

I’ll end with lyrics from a song I heard once, a while back that really are the reason I chose to write on this topic (I’ve never found the song unfortunately)

” I heard you die twice, Once when they lower you into your grave. The second when they stop saying your name.”

 

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‘You’re alive because you haven’t reached your best yet’ – Eric Thomas

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LIFE

IF YOU KNEW ME YESTERDAY,

A good friend of mine passed by the house last night to see me before our birthday and the conversation was short and intimate, something I realised lacks in most the conversations today. Where’s the honesty? The intimacy? Where are the deep, meaningful words? Why do we rarely challenge each other to be better than we are now?

Seeing as it’s my birthday I decided to gift myself a clean slate. The past year has been my most challenging one..yet and I’m sure it won’t get any easier from now (I can feel my parents letting go).  Do I have a plan for the rest of my life? I do, but it’s not solid. I however have an idea of how I’d like my life to go.

 

I need to let go of past mistakes. Instead of constantly over thinking a situation I cannot change, I’m learning to accept it and aim to be better.

I need to let go of friendships/relationships that aren’t benefitting me. If they’re not feeding my flame, they are helping to put it out.

 I need to spend more time with family. There’s nothing as painful as watching the coffin of a loved one being lowered, and you stand there wishing you had one more chance..

I need to do more things that excite me. Travel  more,  be friendly to everyone even those who aren’t friendly in return, read more

I need to get better at what I love doing, because that’s what makes me who I am.

I need to learn to say no and not have to give any reasons for my decision. 

I need to learn to live a life with no regrets.

If you knew me yesterday, that’s great but you don’t know me today. However, I understand that your opinion of me is possibly due to my  past actions. I can’t change that but at the same time I can’t let your opinion of me prevent me from living my life.

I’m really excited for this next year ahead of me and I can’t wait to see what it has in store for me. 🙂

 

You can’t win the war against the world, if you can’t win the war against your own mind.

 

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Happy Birthday to me! 🙂

 

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LIFE

TO: A YOUNGER ME. (Part II)

A continuation of Part I..  TO: A YOUNGER ME. (Part I)

 

THE FINALE?

The point of this ‘chapter’ is to enable the reader to appreciate that change happens to everyone both internally and externally. Take time and use the questions to reflect on your own change over the years.

 

4.  IS THERE ANYTHING YOU DREAMED OF ACHIEVING WHEN YOU WERE YOUNGER, ARE ON THE WAY TO ACHIEVING OR ARE STILL HOPING TO ACHIEVE?

 You may not be where your younger self wanted to be.. but one thing for sure is that where you are at this moment, is where you’re meant to be.

R.J.K – We all have dreams as children of course. My main ones are in the category of hoping to achieve or still hoping to achieve. I’ve always loved the idea of wealth and making a name for myself in the world. Remember when I said I am materialistic? For me the end goal is to be at the top, successful and powerful no matter what. People say first you get the money then the power. You make some paper then you make your own rules. I probably push myself to get on with my life and try to make something out of myself so that one day I can look at the life I’d be living and just smile and my efforts.  That’s what makes my world go round.

Nyambura–  Yaass! I dreamed of writing for a larger audience than my diary, God and my four walls. Now that this is a reality, I am working to build Bloomkalture to greater heights. Always dreamed of being a talk show host as well, let’s see how that goes! 😉

Titania –  I guess intellectual growth is major one. I’m currently in Uni and I love what I’m doing. When I started my course guys were betting I wouldn’t even finish an year but I’m going to my second semester in second year and I think I got this. The second one is really funny I want 12 children, I always have, but I’m still hoping to achieve it.

I also hope to travel the world.

 

Serut–  I’ve always wanted to do well in school all through which I can say is still going well. Sometimes I tend to be short sighted so I never thought much about the future. More of my goals have started to pop up as I’ve grown.

 

 

 Stephanie- I dreamed of many things, to date I still do. I’ve always thought of myself as a child in this playground called the world. I wanted to start a blog and I did. I wanted to get to med school, worked hard and I did. Even small things like learning matatu routes…done that! There are some projects I’m working on currently, humanitarian in nature .. let’s see where that goes 😊

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Rafael–  I always lied to myself that I will be a pilot and I will fly the world. Well, I have achieved the latter, the former remains a bucket-list item. I also dreamt of never having to struggle to approach girls and engage them in conversation. So, I believe that is a bonus.

 

Andrew –  I dreamed of performing for crowds of people and making my own music. So far I am achieving that, albeit with smaller crowds and more or covers than original music. The dream has “evolved” to being a producer as well. So far I am still learning how to do that.

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Owen–  Umm, I always dreamed of becoming a performer. Lights, big stages and the audience always made me happy. Made me feel like I was at a home away from home. Have I achieved it? I’d say I’m in the process of achieving it. Everything takes time and everything has its Own time.

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Louise–  I dreamed of being a model. I am currently working on it and have made steps towards it thankfully

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Photographer’s IG Handle : @kidd_volt

 

5. WHAT DOES ‘GLO-UP’ MEAN TO YOU? IN WHAT WAY DO YOU FEEL YOU HAVE HAD A GLO-UP BETWEEN YOUR YOUNGER YEARS AND NOW?

‘OMG Ivy you’ve had such a glow up’.. is a sentence I’ve heard enough times. I appreciate that I have physically change but that shouldn’t blind me from acknowledging my internal growth as well.

R.J.K– The term “Glo up” to me means transformation as you grow. A positive change in you that portrays you in such a manner that can be paralleled to you radiating a glow thus the term “Glo up”. To me, “Glo up” comes with two types of growth: Physical and Mental. Sometime this week, I met somebody I had not seen in a few years and just as we got to catching up, she expressed how I have changed and I’m looking pretty handsome. That statement wouldn’t be uttered if I was looking ugly lol. Personally, I’m very conscious of my physical appearance I don’t mean I’m embarrassed or anything but I pay keen attention to detail when it comes to how I look. I like to dress in a certain way, I like my haircut done in a certain way and neat, by the time I’m leaving the house, I’m feeling confident in my look. I guess this contributes to my physical “Glo up” heavily but I’m happy with myself and how I appear as opposed to the chubby little me looking a bit fugly but wouldn’t change a thing on myself now and I guess I have “Glown up”

In reference to mental growth, my mental “Glo up” has probably majorly happened in the past 1-2 years. I did state that as a younger person, I was a naïve person.  The last 2 years have come with some hard-learnt lessons from mistakes that I have made, perceptions of “friendships” that I deemed to have been the ideal friendships but soon tumbled down and the hardest of all, seeing dark sides of people who I thought were my riders. Shit happens, friends come and go, relationships actually do die but that’s not the end of the book, but the end of a paragraph or a chapter in the book of being the greatest version of you. Life goes on like nothing happened and you indeed meet other people who you will fall in love with as friends and others as companions and what I’m just trying to point out is that for me to state the previous sentence without a heavy heart or any despair, it requires you to fall, probably fall again and get yourself up but for you to get up I believe you have to grow mentally as that growth only comes as a result of learning something from the things that put you down or tear you apart. Embrace each setback. So, looking back I’m really proud of the person I’m growing up to be and to me, for me to look at myself and be impressed with the character I’m building for myself simply tells me that there is growth in my character and mentality.

Nyambura– Yaass! I dreamed of writing for a larger audience than my diary, God and my four walls. Now that this is a reality, I am working to build Bloomkalture to greater heights. Always dreamed of being a talk show host as well, let’s see how that goes! 😉

Titania– For me a ‘glo up’ is to grow or change in all aspects of life (for the better of course) whether it’s physically, emotionally, spiritually or even mentally.

So how have I gone through a ‘glo up’? I think I’m still going through my ‘glo up’ phase because I’m not where I want to be as yet but I’m seeing progress. I won’t lie it’s hard like waking up to work out or food prep or even constantly doing my devotion and learning how to balance them all. But the journey’s alright. I think becoming more confident is my major ‘glo up’

 

Serut– I see a glo up as general improvement in different areas of your life despite most people taking it in the physical sense. This could be a book on it’s own 😅 I’ve learned to trust and believe in myself more and disregard the negativity around me which has helped me stand on my own feet and be happier in general. These looks have come from far heh 😂 looking back at late primary and early high school I realize that puberty hit like a truck. I love my body more now that I have accepted that what society deems to be desirable isn’t set in stone. My decision making is also much better at the moment because growing older and experiencing different things has made me wiser to some extent.

 

Stephanie– Glo up to me means becoming a better version of yourself be it physical, emotional or behaviour-wise. I’ve had a glo up character wise, but it’s still a work in progress. I’ve learnt to accept that not everyone will like you but that’s life.  I’m not perfect but that doesn’t mean im not one step closer to becoming a better person than I was yesterday.

 

 

Rafael– Well, for me a glow up would be you becoming a better version of yourself. And I feel in as much my academic prowess has dwindled over the years, I have heard glow up in social, mental, and even physical areas.

 

Andrew– “Glo-up”, to me, would mean a noticeable positive change in one’s character, style or activities they do – an incredible step-up.

I feel like I have had a glo-up in interacting with other people – speaking less and listening more, not being too open initially and being patient with the process of forming friendships.

Also, I feel like I’ve had a glo-up in music. I have become more confident when playing for people, valuing practice time more, as well as in airing my views during practice to other band-mates or a singer.

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Owen– “Glow up”. Hmm does Puberty count? to me means a transition, a change from one thing to something better. Do I feel like I’ve had a glow up? Umm yes. A very serious one. Emotionally, Mentally even Physically 😏 but definitely there’s been a change. Both seen and unseen

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Louise– To me, ‘Glo up’ means becoming who you want to be. Whether by losing or gaining weight, starting a natural hair journey or even broadening your knowledge on certain topics (not just the physical stuff). It means becoming the best version of yourself to the point not even a single bit of negativity can deter you, because you know how much it took for you to build yourself to that point.

 

6. WHAT QUOTE/ WORDS OF WISDOM/ BIBLE VERSE/ SONG LYRICS KEEP YOU GOING?

See the thing about words is, they cut deep, particularly in the long run. For that reason we are always warned to be careful of what we read and listen to..

R.J.K

Life must go on & The only person that’s got my back is myself.

A reminder to myself that things will not wait for me, if I want something I work for it and go get it, if something puts me down I should not fall and lie down but instead try put myself together as things will go on if I was to stagnate. There isn’t time and room for bitching and sulking in my life.

 

Nyambura

Life is short and precarious.

-I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! Phillipians 4: 13.

-It’s okay. Keep going!

-Do you, ‘cause no one can do you like you do boo!

Titania

Bible verse Joshua 1:9-10 Galatians 6:9 Proverbs 3:5-6

Quote

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection”
 – Buddha

“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.”
– Lucille Ball

 

Stephanie

  1. Be yourself, you don’t have to fit in .. that’s why you’re you.
  2. Don’t do stuff expecting rewards or payment back
  3. If everyone loves you , there’s something you’re doing wrong
  4. Go for it , whats the worse that could happen?
  5. JUST DO YOU, BOO BOO!

Serut

it’s always darkest before the dawn (lyric from shake it out by Florence and the machine) because no matter how bad things get there’s always light along the way.

Rafael

If you always say no, you will never say yes. (Mine)

Life is like a bike, to keep balancing, you have to keep moving forward. (Anonymous)

Prayer without action is useless. (St. Paul)

 

Andrew

The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.

Dream big, start small.

Owen

“Every wolf has its own platform, so choose the wolf to feed.” Words of wisdom? not every-time will the world accept what you’re doing as right.

Louise

  • My Dad once told me ‘The only thing stopping yourself is you’ and that really helped me get out of my comfort zone.
  • Thought become things

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Never rely on what you think you know. Remember the Lord in everything you do and he will show you the right way

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Photographer IG Handle : @hanso.theman

 

 

REFLECTION

I’ll keep this short since all I wanted to say has been put forward by the responses above.

  • Glo ups can be both internal and external
  • We all have dreams which we may not have achieved but there’s no time limit to achieve them
  • Life hits us in so many different ways which results in us having different scars.. but we’re still beautiful

 

‘If you are alive, you haven’t reached your best yet.- Eric Thomas.

 

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I know you won’t see him clearly but my dad is in the background 😀

 

 

 

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