Monday, December 31, 2012

Farewell Fear

Omg! I wanted to catch 2012 before its gone for good. It's been so long since I've even visited my own blog. First and foremost, I wanna thank courage for helping me start a blog in 2012. Fear, I wanna say goodbye and that's the reason I chose to write to you on this day. Thanks for the many times you held me back with the little voice. You are such a liar! You said some really hurtful things you know... who cares? Of course I do care... you made me think I didn't care. While I was reflecting last night, your name appeared everywhere. How could I be so gullible? I knew it was you all along, but I didn't have the courage to call you out by name. I'm breaking it off with you. I can't do it anymore. What have I achieved by listening to you? While going through my 2012 goals, I realized  how far I would have been if I had ignored your tormenting voice.

You kept bringing shame into the picture, telling me that if I tried and failed he would be written all over me forever. That my friends would laugh and think I was stupid. Why do you involve all the others? You came up with countless excuses this year to keep me from my vision. I'm not blaming you, you have to do your job. I have learnt a lot from you. Like to never work alone. I have been for along time working alone. You ask a lot of questions too. Like... why should you? All I have a to do, is find the why not? I'm ready to fight for what I believe in. Your allies like Shame and  failure of whom we should not be afraid of by the way.... why do you keep asking me "what if I fail?"Of course I need failure in order to succeed...

I don't wanna go on and on about what could have been. I just wanted to let you know that i've replaced you with perfect love. Because apparently, all I needed was perfect love for it casts out fear. So goodbye FEAR. Someone described you as False Evidence Appearing Real. I have found that to be true in the last year. Your services will no longer be needed. As you pack, you might wanna leave some of your allies behind like failure because I no longer see him as my enemy. I need him, because he has made me stronger and wiser every time I had an encounter with him. Why do you make him look so bad? See... all along you've been the bad guy.

I know you'll not give up on me, but I have given up on you. I know you'll come back crawling in... and I know I might be tempted to give in......  but you'll have to face love, power and a sound mind cause they're now in charge at the door. I'm guarding my heart now. Farewell fear.

1 John 4:18
"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love."

Proverbs 4:23
"Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it"

2 Tim 1:7
"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Blessing in Disguise

When I was growing up, there were way too many street children in my town and country as a whole. I tried so hard to share with them whenever I could. This I learned from my dear mum. It was not enough though, and it really broke my heart whenever it rained... I just didn't know how they would survive. Where did they come from? Some actually had parents who had neglected them for one reason or another. Few were orphans...  Others, their parents could not afford to take them to school. The rest were just rebellious. We saw them everyday and everywhere, that they became a part of the society and were accepted as just street boys. This in so many ways affected the way people viewed pregnancy and babies. Pregnancy out of wedlock was frowned upon. While you were still in school it was a shame. Just after high school, you were the talk of the town. My personal opinion back then, was that you were finished! It was associated with so many negative things. Unwanted pregnancy was also the cause of so many street kids. It's what your mum in your teenage years would be preventing you from, through curfews and examples of girls who had failed miserably. So I spent my whole life trying not to get pregnant till I get married. Things didn't go as planned.

 I had just been separated about 5 months, when I started feeling sick... so I went to the hospital, but the doctor just gave me a sick leave. I was not satisfied, so I went back again. When I saw the nurse was not going to that direction, I took the liberty of suggesting a pregnancy test. As usual, they asked me to go for a blood test. That was gonna take way too much time, and  I was in a hurry. After the blood test I rushed to the nearby pharmacy and bought a test kit. I had a meeting with my boyfriend later on, so I decided to use the bathroom in the mall, so that I could give him the news. I took the test and put the kit in my bag. It was really slow... I kept looking during my short trip to the other side of town, but nothing yet. Finally, I got to me destination and sat in the car where he was waiting. We decided to shake it a little bit, and slowly the lines were showing. I was pregnant? I didn't know whether to laugh or cry, but one thing for sure, my marriage was officially over and there was no turning back. And as for me, I was finished! It's not like I had not made my decision, cause I was already seeing someone else... It was that, I was not married to this person and I had not been divorced.

My boyfriend however was celebrating! He was going to have champagne and pray it was a boy. That caught me by surprise! Babies from where I come from were unwelcome, if you were not married. They were mostly seen as a burden. There was school fees to think about, and all the expenses that come with bringing up a child. I had seen so many men abandon this responsibility, especially when there was no commitment like a marriage. My natural reaction was negative... and all this questions flooded my mind. I had been a good girl thus far... how could this have happened? The timing was so wrong.  What were people going to say? At this point though, my boyfriends reaction was all that mattered. I knew if he was on my side like that, I didn't have to worry about the outside world... right? I called my mum and the rest of my family, and they were so happy they were screaming on the phone. That gave me a lot of comfort and confidence. Everyone so far was on my side. Now... my friends had no idea that I was even dating this guy.

The morning to evening sickness got worse by the day. By this time, I was busy trying to stay away from everyone who knew me. My phone was mostly off and whenever I spoke with someone I pretended everything was fine. I never mentioned where I was or whether I was pregnant. I thought my friends would reject me. I was ashamed... I was scared of facing my pastor who had helped me through my hard times. My conversations were brief if I had any. I became too sick to go to work, and I would only get a few days at a time from my doctor. This continued for a month, till my summer holidays started. By this time I was not eating anything... just water and a few nuts. That was crazy. I thought it would never pass. I felt better at some point and decided to go to my home country for month. The decision was so random that I surprised my boyfriend too. I had to go. I had gone through too much in a short period of time, I needed some unconditional love. I was sickly but knowing my family would be waiting on the other side was all that mattered. My journey was difficult but the airline crew gave me so much love and blankets to take home.

I enjoyed my holiday to the max. It was so much fun to be with my family. I even forgot I was sick. There is nothing like unconditional love. We all need to bath in it when we're running low on love. It replenishes. It's amazing how small our world becomes when we're out here. Now, I could see what my mum was seeing. She would say, "Forget it, you're not the first and certainly not the last, if it's not working let it go" I could now see my life from outside, and also from where she was sitting. It was so small. It was as simple as that... let it go.  She was right.

I got so much strength and I was able to make decisions.  I wanted to live on my own, but who was I doing it for? I didn't want to be judged. My mum told me it didn't make a difference whether I moved in now or later, cause I was pregnant anyway. My family and friends showered me and my unborn with so much love, that I started embracing it. His father would call me every other day to check up on me. It was awesome. I was given priority whenever people found out I was expecting. There was favor everywhere. My mums pastor was pure awesomeness... he's so open minded cause he knew what I was going through and had been praying for me. He opened the door to my speaking career by arranging a seminar for me once he knew what my dream was. So many great things were happening. My time was running out though. I had to come back to my reality.

When I got here, the sickness became even worse for sometime. Then slowly I started feeling better as I approached 5 months. By this time, I had only been to work for a week. I stayed home till about 6 months. I had some good and bad days but I could now eat. My diet consisted of avocados, mangos, broccoli , maize and beans. My boyfriend was awesome and supportive all the way. He would be very sad though to find me lying in the same position all day. I only rose up to vomit then I would go back to bed. My confidence in the house was soaring but outside there was judgement. I had gathered the strength to tell my friends by now, and they were all so happy for me. What a reaction?... I was so relieved. My mentor is the only one I was able to share with right in the beginning and the first thing she asked me was, "can I be grandma"? The way people reacted to the news was always the opposite of what I expected. I was now in love with this baby.

This baby came to heal, strengthen and  to help me move forward with my life. I truly had no choice. Even if I was to go back, I was pregnant with someone else. He was a blessing in disguise. I only realized this, when I woke up one morning and noticed since I embraced my situation back home, all I thought about was the future. My past hurts didn't matter anymore. I was blank... no fear, no pain from the past. I was healed. God works in ways we cannot see. The timing was wrong for me, but not for him. I would have wanted to look good for sometime. To probably prove to people it was not my fault, but now it looked like my fault. I was now the bad guy. In fact, he found out and used it against me. Everything he put me through didn't matter anymore. I was now pregnant. They hurled insults at me. He called my mum and everyone else to inform them that I was pregnant. Telling my mum I should have at least waited till the divorce was final. Now he had a voice. I was too gracious to answer... I let him enjoy the show, cause soon it would not matter. He would remain bitter but I was free. Free from hatred, resentment, anger and blame.

I have never felt so much peace in my life. So much love for anything. I was blessed with a beautiful baby boy. My world is complete. I found love and a supportive family with my boyfriend. It was something I would have been ashamed of before, but having been through a huge wedding with nothing to show for it, I have come to embrace my 'come we stay' till further notice. If you ever want to move on, pretend you're pregnant cause that way... there is no turning back. After all I went through with the pregnancy, I have one question. How are all this precious children abandoned and living on their own. Where does a woman find the strength to give birth and abandon a baby? My dream of one day building a school and a home for orphans will come true.. and I hope more of us will come together and change one life, or two...... in other parts of the world because this is not only a Nairobi problem, its a universal problem.

“A baby is God's opinion that the world should go on.” 
 Carl Sandburg

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Master and the Slave

I had battled with the decision to leave for months, my first attempt came in December. I had found a temporary place, and I needed to make a decision fast. That evening, things seemed to be looking up and my then husband was making an effort to be nice, which he only managed for a maximum of two days. By the end of that week my dose of happiness and hope to restore my marriage was running low. I decided to leave... before I could do that however, I was reminded that Christmas was approaching and I certainly didn't want to spend it alone. I called the woman who had offered me a place and gave her all the excuses in the world. Besides, this is family time for you and I wouldn't want to be a distraction. The real issue here was, I had expressed my struggles and someone had found a solution faster than I expected, and now I was filled with fear and questions of what if...I knew deep down this was the right choice, but I was afraid to leave my comfort zone. I imagined how challenging it would be for me to connect to my work place from my new found home. My comfort was more important than my happiness. I promised myself I would move after Christmas. Christmas as we all know it, is a time of giving and possibly mending and reconciling broken relationships. We spoke for the first time after months of being just room mates. We exchanged presents in what seemed to me as 'lets pretend'. Let's pretend we are a family, and everything is Ok. It appeared like an unspoken let's start all over again. There was a glimpse of hope there for a moment.

Christmas went by, new year was all right... I never called the house lady.  I was afraid... What were people going to say? Was I even ready to move? After new year, the cold treatment continued. We spoke here and there, mostly on sundays when he needed to soften my heart, so I would go to church with him. I Went for counseling, It was not helping. I shared with friends, acquaintances and anyone who was willing to lend an ear. I spent most of my time looking for answers. I googled...  I could not find any... I only drew conclusions from my observation. It wasn't enough, I needed to make him speak. He never answered any questions and in turn I got tired of asking. We lived like room mates for what seemed like an eternity. I could not pretend anymore. I used to admire other women's rings. To me, it was a symbol of contentment, success, true love, happiness and all the beautiful things I imagined about marriage. Mine was beautiful to others, but it had become a symbol of bitterness and failure in my life. I was ashamed of what I was going through, and what people would think. 

I took classes, sewing, entrepreneur and language. This was meant to distract me from the reality of what was going on in my life. It didn't go very well though. I quit my sewing class. The women there were happily sewing clothes for their kids while talking passionately about their husbands. I wanted to contribute, but I knew my comments would betray me big time, and there was a woman who knew me. My entrepreneurial class was even more challenging... it was in finnish. I would be flipping through the dictionary the entire evening and come out with about three words or five when it was good. I sat in those classes looking pale and tired... I remember a classmate I knew receiving a phone call from her husband, telling her what he had prepared for dinner. Mine didn't even know where i'd been all day. I quit that one too.... It was a finnish version of what I had done in school. I felt lighter and ready to tackle my challenges head on. I was so disappointed one morning to find out I got so carried away with wanting to do stuff to look important, that I had forgotten to check the info properly. I got a bill from the school. I thought it was free, and I had used it only to kill time and a place to hide from my misery. Didn't know it was going to cost me.... 

Love is something else... when it's not right, there is a constant reminder of that everywhere you go. No matter how much you run from your reality, someone somewhere somehow, will remind you of it. There was the women with the nice rings. The newly wed immigrants who had their perfect lives. The couples holding hands on the metro, the friend who's hurrying home to cook for her caring husband. The friend who gets phone calls every hour from her boyfriend. I felt alone, and there was no escaping what I was going through. My international phone bill was huge. I was calling my mum daily for comfort. We would talk endlessly trying to figure out... As women, we do not necessarily want solutions. We just talk. My mum would tell me in the end to forget... that even her who had a come we stay marriage, had a better life. I would imagine the wedding and all the people involved, and my efforts to make the right decisions would be paralyzed by the fear of the unknown. I made another decision to leave... then there was a good sunday, and I changed my mind. Then there was another period of silence and the cold treatment started all over again.  Like I mentioned earlier, we only had a maximum of two good days each time we had a breakthrough.  I made another decision to leave and  each time he agreed to let me go. 

I left for a week, I needed a break. He never bothered to call or check where I was. After the week was over, I returned home and no questions were asked. Two weeks went by, and still no word from him. I made my decision again to leave. When I expressed this to the person who was helping me find an apartment, she told me that I had to be sure this time, since I had cancelled so many times before. I was sure. We set a date and I packed a few clothes expecting that when he doesn't find me home, he will come looking for me, and then that way, we might set some ground rules, and even try to make this work. My intentions were to make him talk and realize we had a problem. It  was natural for him to go for months without talking, but for me it was not Ok. I settled in my new home in March. I waited and waited until about two months and three weeks. He never called, and never bothered to find out where I was. I called him but as usual he never picked up. We spoke later that evening but he told me he had no time but when he does find time we will meet. Talk about feeling important. Unfortunately I knew he was just playing big, cause I had lived with him and I knew his schedule. It was basically full of avoiding reality and hiding from the truth. Going to work late and coming home while I was asleep, watching television till 3 am in the morning and showing up to church events and bible studies on time. Nothing else mattered.

He finally found time, but unfortunately I was down with fever and the only option for us was to meet at my new place. My stay would be expiring in a week and I needed to know where I was going after that. He sat down and I immediately broke rule #1 Thou shall not ask questions. I asked him if he had thought of how we could restore our non existence relationship...I only found out the underlined later. He rose up, picked up his bag, and responded with "did I come here for you to ask questions,I thought you had a solution" well, this is someone I had not seen for almost three months, he didn't even care in whose house I was living, and now, he was getting ready to leave because I asked the obvious..... I was furious. I had never seen such arrogance and pride in my life. I was not going to go through this even when I was a way from him. I realized he had plans for me, to put in a box where I shall never speak again. I would be his slave and he would be my master and whatever he says goes. I locked the door and told him he would not leave till he spoke.... I wrestled with him, trying to show him how much it hurt.  Slapping him was the only way I could express how much pain I was in. A slap doesn't talk though... He told me when I get tired, I may open the door for him to leave because he was not going to speak. And we sat there for about two hours in silence...

I sent a message to a friend of his. She was dismissed as soon as she entered  because he was embarrassed, he told her he was capable of handling the situation. Long story... he was now aware that there was a third party and so he suggested we could talk the following day. I went to his place as promised. I had spoken to my mum earlier and she told me she was praying for me, so I was in a surprising good mood. I felt so powerful for some reason. When I got there, everything became so clear. I asked for duct tape so I would not interrupt... but he declined. I sat there listening, and it dawned on me.... This guy does not talk because he probably has nothing smart to say about the real life. He was good at what he did at work, but that's not what he was or who he was. I knew him as the church guy, he was good there, but again that's not who he was. He was clueless like all of us. He was an engineer and God fearing to me. I had given him way too much credit. I had trusted him with my life. I had overestimated him. He started by saying things like  "being like Abigail in the bible, who was an obedient and humble woman" who probably in his opinion never spoke out when she was oppressed and so on. I listened in amazement to what he had to say... His 1920's ideas of marriage. To conclude, he told me not to rush I could think about it for as long as I wanted, and he left. I stopped him on his tracks and told him I had an answer right there, and it was I would never be Abigail, and the person he described would never be me. What did it for me was " You should not talk to your husband the way you talk to your friends" So I knew I had a master and I was the slave. Another day in his kingdom and I will be lost forever. My dreams were half dead. I no longer knew who I was. I told him I would not be coming back later that night and we should go separate ways. He agreed and told me he respected my decision. 

My next challenge was to find a place to live. I still battled in my mind with the thoughts of divorce. I never wanted to be a part of the statistics. I thought some marriages should be divorce proof, especially in the church. At the end of the day we are human. We can be God fearing, successful in our careers, but we're still capable of making bad decisions. My ex is not a bad person, he just wasn't right for me. My values are different. I love freedom, to be able to dream and pursue my dreams. To be with someone and yet feel like I have my life. I found that freedom, and I thank God for it. Whenever I'm struggling in any area of my life, I never rest till I find out why. Most of the time, it's because I'm not supposed to be there. Just like our God given gifts... if you're not operating in them... you struggle.

Monday, July 16, 2012

My perfect Picture

Being brought up by a single parent, I was so content that I swore I would never get married. I had so much freedom of speech while growing up with my mum. With my dad, we had to pretend to be doing something important when he was around. We would be chatting the evening away with mum, but as soon as we heard the gate open, we ran in all directions, because it would not only cause us trouble, but my mum too. They had such a huge communication break down, that they only spoke through my brother and I. My dad always read the newspaper in the living room, while keeping an eye on us. Those were really awkward moments, because most of the time my brother would be dozing off or just staring at his books. How I knew that... was from his grades. When he had had his dinner else where, he would come home pretending to be tired, and would complain about the food, just because he couldn't bring himself to tell my mum the truth. He had an awesome relationship with us though, and he had cute nick names for all the kids. My only problem was, my mum was there before the kids and the most important relationship for us, was theirs.

Living with my mother, was a breath of fresh air. We didn't need to try hard, or to pretend. The picture I had of dads was the controlling kind, where kids had to behave at all times, and by behave I mean quiet or living in fear. Though his hostility was directed mostly or all the time toward my mum, it affected us a great deal. I would say especially me, because my dear brother didn't seem to have a clue about anything. As the first born it was natural that I became more aware of my surroundings. We moved away and I personally burned all the bridges behind me. With my new found freedom, I knew I would never return to such slavery. Through out my teens I made decisions and swore I would never get married or I would never divorce. My mind was made up and I didn't take any nonsense from guys.

I grew up however, and soften a little bit. I wanted love, but I didn't care very much about where it was gonna take me. I enjoyed it while it lasted. I had a happily ever after dream somewhere in the back of my head. My favorite story like many girls was cinderella. I was waiting for my prince charming, to come one day and rescue me. It happened, not once or twice, but many times in my life. There were many heartbreaks and many wonderful memories. I would fall and fail but I rose up and tried again. I would never give up on love. 

Time went by, I moved to a new country, met new people. They believed in love, they seemed to know exactly how to do stuff. This was a new world for me.  I was still searching, waiting for my prince charming. I had not found him and I envied those who were so contented in their relationships. I could not find that. I was not proud of anything in my life. Were my expectations too high? Was I unrealistic? The challenge was, I had no role model, I didn't know how it was supposed to be. The only ones I had, were in the novels, the movies, and my imagination of what perfect would be. I knew very well what I didn't want and I can say that helped a bit. Before this phase in my life, I had been surrounded by people like me, who grew up with single parents. When you grow up a certain way you tend to surround yourself with people who are like you. So Mr. right was never discussed.

I met so many wonderful people at my new church, and I noticed most of them were married even at a very young age. I was not used to this. I had seen what we call in my country 'come we stay'. This now became my perfect picture. I would hear men talk about their wives, and  they did it with so much pride. This was all new for me. I felt cheated by life, that this was happening in this world but my perspective of marriage had been totally distorted by my reality. I wanted the same thing. I wanted a husband who would be proud of me, one who would praise me like that. In my world, I had not seen this, not even in the movies. This was special, It was the kind of love that you trust. My new found friends seemed so sure. They were happy and looked like they knew exactly what they were doing. I made a list, and a deal with God to give me a husband. I knew if I find him in this place, he would know exactly what to do just like this men. I saw it everywhere I went, and this made me want it even more. Was it something they saw others do? Was it a trend? I had no idea... all I knew is that I wanted the same.

Continued in 2

my perfect picture 2


There were many challenges in this journey, and one is that there are few and handsome men in the church. I don't mean this the wrong way. It could have been the one I was attending. I mean they get married so young, that if you're above a certain age and hasn't found, it might take you sometime or years to ever find. When there is a single good looking man, all eyes are on him or he might just not be your type. I found love outside the church but I didn't want to be unequally yoked.... Then I would start the project of bringing this guy to church, he would feel pressured because of how uptight and principled I would be, that the whole thing would just crumble. I was not going to compromise...I was going to either make the man or find the man. I was not so hopeful of finding one ready. I took on a few projects, then I realized, the only way is to truly find exactly what I wanted instead of teaching an old dog new tricks.

I became a slave of only what I saw on sundays. The perfect picture of families. I never thought about what could be happening beyond the church. The sunday impression was all I had. It was all I knew, and according to me this people had it all. They spoke so well about each other, they praised each other, and the men mentioned their wives in every sentence. This is what I wanted... I would visualize myself with such a family. It became almost my obsession. There were prayer groups for wives, husbands and praying for the kids. As a single person, I felt left out, I wanted to belong to this group. They seemed so contented and one seemed to get instant respect if they were married.  Finally, God answered my prayer I found a man who was the perfect picture of a church guy. All this happened so fast and at a time when I guess I was vulnerable. All I knew about him was that he was a church guy. His character, goals, ambitions, likes and dislikes I did not think about or ask. We had spoken on our long phone calls about topics totally different from we liking each other, and because of that I thought I knew him. I felt safe with him. I knew he would be like all this men I had seen in the church. He like them, knows exactly what to do. When he told me he loved me, I never questioned why or how. I should have because he had never indicated he liked me in that way. All this time I thought we were friends since we didn't hit it off when we first met.

We got married,  the women would welcome me like 'welcome to the club my sister, it's not easy' I was shocked!  It's not easy? I could not believe it... were they living a lie? Was everybody pretending to be happy? I was determined to make mine work. I was not going to survive..I was going to thrive! My dream came to a grinding halt only weeks after. I realized then that I was doomed. My life was over. I had gotten what I wanted, but not what I needed. I continued to battle with thoughts of shame at the realization of the mistake I had made. I tried to make it work just so I can look good, but I had to to tell myself the truth. How long was I going to pretend to be happy. We did the church thing... showing up places and smiling even though I was dying inside. This is not who I was. He had obviously played this game for so long that it had become part and parcel of him. Long story... I could not make it work on my own. 

My decision to leave was criticized by many. One particular to my face said that marriage was for strong people. Even though I had poured my heart to her right from the beginning. I was seen as weak and stupid. Some called me impatient and that I could not keep a man. I was wearing the shoes, and they hurt so bad. I knew the truth, that this was not what I signed up for, and it was not how it looked like.  Yes, I didn't have a role model, but that doesn't mean I didn't have common sense. I knew how to be treated right and I knew what I didn't want. I could not live a lie, or live my lie for other people. My life is mine, and I'm not here to please anyone. It requires enormous self-control not to succumb, because our natural tendency is to want to please. Many asked me to be patient, that's because we all think marriage problems are Identical and there is only one way to save a marriage. To be patient.  I realized then that very few people have the gift of listening. Those who listened understood, those who didn't asked me to be patient. 

When a marriage ends, in most cases the woman is to blame with this verse from proverbs 14:1  "A wise woman builds her house; a foolish woman tears hers down with her own hands." If I behave in the way people expect me to behave I'll become their slave. My perfect picture is so different today. It's authentic, from a deeper place. I now set my own standards, I'm not so easily deceived by what I see. I live my own life. I have my dreams and Ideas about life. I'll stick to that no matter how off they may seem to others, or how naive they may be. All things are possible and I can create my own reality the way I want. God wants the best for us and most of the time we might get our way in order to learn a lesson. When we do take the lesson, we become better, wiser and stronger.  

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The power of Influence

Where I come from, the method of teaching your kids about life was through warnings and comparisons. You'd be warned by an example of some rebellious kids, or you were compared to kids who seemed well behaved. My mother warned me several times about some of my classmates, neighbors and friends. Nowadays I see kids standing up to their mothers and speaking their minds, you just couldn't do that with my mum. She didn't know how to talk to me about the power of influence, so all she would say was, "I don't want to see you with those kids". Even though you were just a kid, your parents assumed you should know exactly what that meant without question. Nothing was explained to me properly. You were only warned about certain things without an explanation. The simplest thing to do, would have been to be told straight forward about how powerfully the people you hang around with can influence you, be it negatively or positively.

I came to learn about the power of influence the hard way. It took me a bit too long to understand what my mum was trying to say the whole time. It's not like I had bad friends or anything. Our parents in those days became very insecure once we hit our teens. I said parents, because I've heard some of my friends talk about their teenage struggles the same exact way. I understand today that my mum was afraid I was going to do the unthinkable, and instead of expressing that, she would just say some really awkward things that I didn't understand. My mum like every mum did the best she could with what she had, and I guess no one spoke with her about stuff when she was growing up, so she didn't know how to talk to me. I had a curfew for 5pm everyday though, cause they assumed evil happens after about 6pm. Somehow we got the point. My mum and I today are best friends. 

It's easy to make good decisions under the guardianship of your parents, it's easy to choose who influences you when they can help you see. It's easy to stay on the path when your parents can point out for you that you're going off course. The challenge comes when you're away from home and your comfort zone. It's not only in our teens that we need good influence, we need it probably even more when choosing our own path. Being away from home for me has been very challenging in many ways. I have made bad choices in almost every area of my life. I've had to learn the hard way. Learning from life is not an automated process. As I evolve I've understood it's a choice that you make, you may take the lesson or choose to ignore it.

One of the lessons I've taken with me, is that you should hang around people who are doing what you'd love to do or love to do. Hanging around people who don't know what you are about, makes you feel awkward and lost and can lead to loosing yourself and your dreams, and even alter your life completely. When you loose track of your dreams, retrieving your steps can become a challenging process. Another thing I learned, was to choose carefully who you share your dream and vision with. The way a person responds to you can make or break you. We share in order to get support from friends and family, and so it's important to know who is in support before you share. My dreams have died and risen so many times, just because I shared with the wrong people and this in turn made me feel naive and stupid.

For a smoother transition in life, we need positive influence. Sometimes this comes from other successful people who are willing to support you with encouraging words, and some offer practical help if it's in their power to do so. They might be doing something totally different but since they've been in your shoes, they understand what it means to dream and to need support. I have a few people I look up to and I'm happy to say that today I feel like I'm on the right path. I'm not where I should be, but I'm on my way.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Doing it ashamed

When I was growing up, because of some of the challenges that I went through, I made some decisions. Challenges are so important because it's in those moments that our character is built. Most of my decisions started with ... I will never. The thing about I will never though, is that I became so uptight but also principled and there is a very thin line between the two. I was for many years till recently too busy trying to live or be right that I forgot to be happy. Some of you are probably like me.

I don't know exactly how this started... but I suspect it's from my childhood, or the expectations of the society. Where I come from, people have a tendency of minding other peoples business and sometimes or most, that affects the way you live your life. There was a time I didn't care about anyone else's happiness but mine. In the process of growing up, I became logical, reasonable, adaptable and I conformed to the standards of I don't know what. I tried to be like everyone else and everyone else was trying to be like everyone else. Then a tragic thing happened! I lost myself.

Time went by, and deep down I kept feeling like I was wearing a big shell. I had no way to break free from it... Then I met a lady who reminded me to go back to what my mum had taught me. To pray and give everything to God. This is something I did every morning and night but I had not seen much results. I went back to her and she told me the secret was to believe that you receive. I never did that before, I was just praying without being specific and probably without believing, but so I can live right. I always said God help me! That was my prayer. Help my mum, brother and sister and my dad. I would mention all the names of the people I wanted God to help but I was not specific about what. I figured he would know what I mean. I tried to be specific once, and my sister laughed out loud in the middle of the prayer, I thought it would be a sin.

I grew up with a God of punishment. Who would do something really terrible if I made a mistake. I lived in fear and believed everything everybody said. I was evaluating my life the other day, and realized that I still had that fear and it had held me back so many times in so many ways. We all know that God is love but that side of him was never mentioned to us. We were taught to live in the fear of God instead of reverence. Now... one of my I will never was... divorce... then I found a verse in the bible that said that he hated divorce. I had nothing to worry about since I would obviously make the right decision.

I made my list of what I wanted in a husband way back and forgot about it. My life changed every year, I kept growing up and being reasonable. I put aside all the desires of my heart to what I considered selfless. The standards of what I wanted in a husband were narrowed down to God fearing. I completely ignored me and my needs and what makes me happy. I was afraid to ask God because I thought he was boring and was to be feared alone, and he couldn't possibly give me anything interesting. Then something happened... one day God answered my prayer.

I met someone through a friend. I had known him and thought he was so not my type but I went anyway. One year passed by, I was not attracted to him but he would call here and there. After one and a half years of meeting about three or four times, he smsd and said he loved me. That came as a huge surprise! Then I remembered, he was the perfect image to me of God fearing. I said yes. We dated in what he termed as unconventional. That meant we only saw on weekends when he had time. This disturbed me a great deal but I kept encouraging myself with, 'he was God fearing'. Life changed for the better we got married.

Two weeks before, I had called my mentor and told her I was going to cancel.... Then I thought about the money we had spent on the planning, the invitations, the people involved and so on. I called him again and the best answer he gave me was; if you do, you have to know there is no turning back. In short there is no other chance. That should have been a huge red flag... but again he was God fearing and he might change or he knew what he was doing. After we were married, I realized the only thing he was, was God fearing and I had made the biggest mistake in front of the God that i feared and two hundred people. I had two choices, to commit suicide or divorce. It was that serious. I could not imagine myself divorced and I couldn't imagine myself unhappy. I had to make a choice.

I thank God for my mum, she's a strong woman. She supported me every step of the way but I could not get past the God of punishment. I decided my choice would be maybe to die. Then I remembered what I always told myself... "It is more important for me to be happy than to be married". Easier said than done. I battled with the thought of pleasing God by remaining married. Then my mum with her humor would remind me that I'm not the first and the last, and she's still alive. I was filled with shame... what would people say, they will think it's me and so on. All my life I had wanted to do things right, and here I was... with a failure that was witnessed by hundreds of people. I was ashamed, alone and afraid. I had good friends though. They stood with me and by me. Thank you dear friends... I love you all.

I made a decision after much Prayer, effort, counsel and hope of making it work. There was no way... This was the biggest and hardest decision I ever made. I filed for divorce! One good man helped me realize the God of love. That I can be happy, it's was not the end of the world. That he wanted the best for me and he wanted to fulfill the desires of my heart. It didn't come easy, slowly I embraced love. I was filled with shame and fear for a long time after that, but I made steps to forget and live my life to the fullest. I decided to follow my bliss... I went to my list and found I had gone off course. This man was not for me... he was what I Imagined him to be. I had put my desires in a God fearing box. It was not everything, it was not enough and the title doesn't make a man. We have become a society of titles like; engineer, pilot, doctor, lawyer and so on. There is nothing wrong with that... I say this cause I remember my mentor asking me if he makes me laugh, and my answer was; he is God fearing. Maybe you like me has sacrificed the things that matter most to you, it's never too late. I found my list and the man that fits there. Today I'm happy.

I was ashamed, afraid, but did what I had to do. The wrong person affects your perspective of life and love. The excuse of nobody is perfect I find unnecessary because to me, perfection doesn't exist. I found myself again after this challenges and today I put myself first because when I'm happy and healthy, I can operate in my full potential and also be there for others.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The caged Lion

When I moved from my home country I had a dream, to build a better future for myself and my family back home. This is probably most people's dream who move from their native countries. I arrived here with all the excitement you can imagine and I had expectations too... to work hard and make a life for myself. I had a picture in my mind of how it was all going to play out. It was me working part time while I studied and graduating on time and then I would go on to get a nice job or start my own business. In that picture was me dressing really well. I used to love the show melrose place and liked the way Amanda dressed and how authoritative she was. Don't laugh... that's how I envisioned myself.

I packed my bags really excited to embark on this new journey of pursuing my dreams. I didn't know anyone here and I didn't worry at all about it. My mind was set on going abroad to make my dreams come true. This was it for me. It's funny that today if I had to go anywhere I would first google and make sure I know a thing or two or even someone. This are the kinda guts you have when you have a dream. You walk by faith not by sight. I love me back then but not more than I do now. I met a guy who was coming to the same school at the airport and we immediately connected and I quickly learned he had family. I told him I didn't know anyone here and asked if his family could find me a hostel... thinking about it... isn't it crazy that I didn't even know where I was going to stay? long story... his family hosted me for the night and took me to take my exams the following monday. The exams went well but I was so nervous and jet lagged. After the exam was the beginning of my training about my new country. This was a training that would shutter my dreams beyond my imagination and it would take years to get back on track.

The first thing I was told is that no one makes it here and the only jobs available are cleaning jobs. If you were working anywhere else didn't matter where, people thought you were privileged. The reality of the life my country men were living was heart breaking. I didn't know what to say but I knew in my heart I am a different species and I came here to make it, to achieve something and hopefully take it back home. That was about to be tested. I had a big dream but when I looked around, surely it was not possible. The language was the biggest block.  My studies were in english but outside school all the other affairs were conducted in the native finnish. The visas took forever and all the student lived in fear of not getting a permit to work or even stay. Those were hard times.

When I left home, I didn't expect inequality, I didn't expect to feel different, didn't expected to made aware at every opportunity that I was different. I always thought of myself as a citizen of the world, and I still feel that way. Life became challenging and my melrose dressing was challenged by the weather and second by the jobs I was doing. My first job was cleaning a supermarket for one and a half hours from 5:30 am to 7:00 am and I got 195 euros a month. This was survivor... I did my job to the best of my ability and was given some sort of award for the cleanest supermarket (Alepa). lol.. Whatever you do, do it well. Every time someone asked you what you do, you felt smaller and smaller because you had to explain that you were a cleaner. Don't get me wrong being a cleaner is great, as long that is what you want to do. The only people who didn't ask and don't ask are your fellow immigrants because they know. I went on to clean some more, till one day I got my current job where I was working part time. I spent the last three years telling them I'm a graduate and begging for a full time job. Somehow it seemed to slip off their minds. I'm thankful today that they didn't give me because it has pushed me to find my purpose and helped me to discover my potential.

Before I got here, I had guts, faith, hope and a voice but over the years it shrunk to nothing. I was on the drivers sit in charge of my destiny. I knew where I wanted to go, till I  got here... where occasional depression took over, where my voice seems to disappear into nothingness. Where every time I try to rise above, I hit a glass and Icy ceiling. Sometimes I get a high and light up when I come up with a good Idea, it seems though that's as good as it gets.

I feel like a lion in a cage, always thinking of how to come out. The zoo is not my natural habitat. I'm locked up and tied down. My resources are limited to my cage. I know my potential, that I'm the king of my jungle, the author of my destiny. I have a voice that can silence the whole jungle and I'm in charge... sometimes I try to roar... then I start doubting whether I'm actually a lion. Slowly I have taken back the authority. I'm in charge and my dream is still intact because I realized the cage was just mental and I built it myself. The years I have lived here have not been easy but they are worth it. My character has been built, now I'm better, wiser and even from this mental cage I will roar with confidence because I know... the time is coming when I will be freely roaming in the jungle of my accomplishments.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A positive mental Attitude

I have a friend whom I have known for several years now. I was talking to him the other day and I just had to ask him what his secret for success was. The answer he gave me  just blew me away. He told me that he was naive into believing all things are possible. Talk about child like faith. His mother from an early age taught him to confess that he was the best and he could do anything in this world. He has done exactly that. I'm really proud of him today for the man he has become.

Most of us grew up hearing things like you will never amount to anything or can't you do anything right? and so on. If you grew up in this kind of environment, you think its normal and you don't  actually realize that those things get to you. You go about your life unaware that the little comments made by those who love you most, have affected your perspective of life and now you go about it fearful of not being able to achieve anything. The dreams you have are so big that sometimes you pinch yourself wondering who you think you are. At times you feel so tall in your comfort zone and are ready to unleash the giant within, then you get out to face the world and you shrink back because of the little voices that ask you "who do you think you are?"

The limitations we have put on ourselves and those from our well meaning relatives are really hard to overcome. Especially if like me you've had to fight to live a positive life. You believe there is something better and you pursue it, then you reach a point and you feel stuck because of the limits you've put on yourself. They say the sky is the limit, you feel deep down this is true but your reality tells a different story. You have stopped dreaming, you don't let your imagination run wild anymore because you are grown up, logical and life is not just like that. You see a gap that you might just be able to fill but you think somebody else should do it. The way you think, the ideas you have, the way you would execute those ideas, no one can do it that way. I realized we all have a part to play when I tried to ask my friends how they felt about certain issues in the world that have been such a burden for me. It did not bother them at all. I wanted them to care but they didn't, not because they don't care but because they have a different calling and gap to fill. That is my pain and my pain is my mission and my gap to fill.

After speaking with my friend, I realized I wasn't crazy for dreaming so big. I have sometimes felt naive but he told me that's the only way to change the world because naive people actually do not see the obstacles and limitations. When I said goodbye to my friend I was feeling so tall. I thought I could do anything. I survived in the tall mode for a few days and then I went right back to seriously... who do you think you are.? Then I rose up again and told myself that I can. I have a gap to fill, a mission to accomplish and a call to answer  and no one can do it they way I would because it's my personal pain.
A just man falls seven times but rises up again. So I'll keep rising until I reach that goal.

Because of my friend, today I am determined to change the world, even when I sometimes feel so small. I know I can make a difference. So the key to success is naivety and a positive mental attitude.

"I was naive enough to think I could make a difference" David Gest
"Every true genius is bound to be naive" Friedrich Schiller

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A neighbor's dream

My dreams of being a model began as a teenager when one of my neighbors became my mentor.  She had moved into our neighborhood as a newly wed and she didn't have much to do with her time. She was very tall and beautiful and I wondered why she wasn't pursuing that dream for herself. She told me she was now married and I thought to myself that marriage must be a dream killer. Maybe one should achieve their dreams before they tie the knot, cause that would be the end of them. She thought I was something but this came as a total surprise to me. She brought me all kinds of magazines and tried to convince me that I could make it. A model? I asked in amazement. She did all the visualizing for me and all I did was listen. She complemented me at every opportunity but this only left me confused. She was not the only one who encouraged me to do this, one of my teachers and random people would compliment me on my beauty. I really enjoyed my sessions with her, where we would flip through magazines she had ordered. Her dedication to see me achieve this dream amazed me. The dream for me though died immediately after our sessions. I would go home and sink into my reality.

When I was six years old, My little sister was born. It was a really exciting day for me when she arrived from the hospital. Everyone was gathered in the living room and there was a lot of food and music. My mother at some point sent me outside to get something and my mean grandmother found her opportunity to speak words that would destroy my self esteem for a very long time. She followed me outside, looked me in the eye and told me I was the ugliest thing she had ever set eyes on. There was so much evil in her eyes when she said that. I looked at her and could not believe what she had said. I never knew I was ugly and even if I was, I didn't expect a family member to put it on my face. I went back to the house and because I feared my grandma, I could not tell my mother what she had told me and I figured if she had wanted my mother to know, she couldn't have followed me outside. No one was going to erase the shame and the pain I felt. She left me scared and confused at only six.

While people were complimenting me in my teenage hood, I was busy trying to figure out who I was and why I was ugly. I had my first boyfriend whom I thought was being polite by saying I was beautiful, or it was something boyfriends should say. I had a very had time believing anyone. I would look in the mirror and see beauty, I could see I was fearfully and wonderfully made but my mind was playing the broken record of ugly. 

One day, my broken record was playing so loud in my head that I thought if I could have a stop button, I would put a permanent stop to it.  I decided to play that game and It worked for a while. Then I made another decision, that I would count all the positive compliments and if they exceeded the negatives then I would put a new record in my head. The positive compliments were flowing from everywhere, from friends, strangers and family members. Then I thought to myself... someone has to be right. My grandma or a thousand positive compliments. I decided to go with the thousand. 

After overcoming my many years of a low self esteem, I decided to visit my grandmother as a sign of forgiveness for being mean to me. It was so liberating. I bought her lots of presents and before she passed on, I was all she was talking about. That was pouring hot coal on her head, It was awesome to see the power of forgiveness.

I also embraced my neighbors dream and tried some modeling. At 5.5 inch, I was too short but I tried anyway. It was an awesome experience. Today I'm passionate about fashion and beauty mostly what not to wear,:)  because a neighbor awakened a dream that was deep down but was destroyed by eyes that find fault. Let us be good neighbors and may all the mean grandmothers become good neighbors.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

If I were my mother...

As the first born in my family, I've had to grow up in so many ways, especially to encourage my mother who is a single parent. I had a somewhat happy childhood but my mum's marriage to my step father was nothing but trouble. By the time I was twelve, they had separated about ten times and by the eleventh, I vowed I would not be left behind. In the past, she had left us and my step father would take us to live with his mean mother. I decided to follow my mum who was then a house wife, not knowing what was going to become of us. I had seen enough violence coming from my step father and I was determined persuade my mother to never look back. During the time that my mother was gone, I spent most of my time alone when I wasn't in school. I would visualize a better life and this is how I became a dreamer. I spent a lot of time lying on the grass studying the insects. My favorite was watching the ants come and go and I would imagine they had parents who had sent them to the shops. :) It gave me a lot of comfort and also an escape from my reality.

Encouraging my mother and taking care of my little sister while she was at work became my part time job. I lost myself completely on being her therapist, a teacher and a mother for my sister. Looking back I don't even know where I got the strength to do all that and I was only a child myself. Life became challenging in many ways, I hated not having a father and especially not having his name registered at my new school. When they called our parents names at school I would pause until they called a few more because I didn't want the other students to know I didn't have a father. I got over it with time when I found out I was not the only one with a single parent.

Life changed everyday for the better and we had wonderful times with my mother. Most were conversations after dinner about the miserable past she had, we laughed about it but I always made her swear to never go back. If she was to go back, she would have to go alone. I grew up worrying about my mother and she like every mother, worried about us. She kept comparing me with so and so and wishing I would turn out to be like so and sos daughter. I learned early enough however to say I will turn out better than all of them combined. As the encourager I had grown up to be, I told her not to worry we would turn out just fine. I would tell her about all the dreams I had for my life but I don't think she saw any possibility of them coming true. To her it was impossible to achieve all that.

Till today my mum worries about us but if I was my mother, I would tell myself, my kids have turned out really well and they have achieved most of their goals in life and they are all grown up now and everything is great!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

If I ran the world

I've always wanted to be in a position to influence people, for example when i was a kid i wanted to be a model so that I could be in a position to influence change especially in women's and children's lives. I'm only 5.5 inches though so that was not going to be possible. Years later, I'm still trying to figure out how I can do that. I'm a dreamer and hoping that will get me there somehow. I have ideas that i get really excited about and then I talk myself out of them the following day. I write all of them down, with the hope that someday I'll get the courage to go for it.  I'm big on education and I think every child should have the best possible. The world is not like that though... Imagine if we could all get free and high quality education... the world would truly be a better place. I know education is the key to everything. We do not necessarily get everything we need from school but one thing we get for sure is confidence to face the world. It does not matter whether we pass or fail, once we have been to school we have something to show for it. This is coming from a deeper place. As a person who aspires to change the world I had a seminar with single women a few months ago in Kenya and all that was holding them back, was they were not educated or educated enough. In a country like Kenya, lack of education can paralyze your ability to do many things. This women are capable of doing so much more but because they don't have a certificate to show for it, they have no voice in the society. I proceeded to ask them what their dreams were and I was amazed at the ideas they had. I then asked them how they would feel bout a training center that would give them skills they need to reach their goals... and the one thing they wanted to know, was whether upon completion of the training they would have a certificate. We all want to feel worthy, we want to show the world that we're capable and we all want a voice even a small one.

So if I ran the world, I would give everyone that voice especially through education.

What would you do if you ran the world?