Positive Vibes for Results

Oh how good it feels to be back in circulation!

Back story: I lost my job at the end of May. Even the two month notice did little to stop the onset of anxiety about the future. I crawled into a shell and felt like crap about everything. Especially, getting out of bed and going to the office. All I could think was: What’s the point?

Upside, I went to Arusha, Tanzania, on a week long holiday. I got a chance to enjoy a break from the busy city that is Nairobi. Because nothing depresses yo more than having nothing to do and little to no energy to do anything when you live in a loud and constantly buzzing city. I got to listen to my body and eat and get back into a regular exercise regime. Like the book and movie, I ate and prayed and loved (the experience and myself for deciding to break away and treat myself to some healthy change).

The upside manifesting as a downside, was the introspection I subjected myself to. I thought seriously about the things I had done that I wasn’t proud of, about relationships that needed restoring and those that needed severing, about my greatest fears and biggest dreams and what I wanted to do about them.

I put it out into the universe that I wanted a break in June and July before resuming employment. I also decided to start considering what I would do in October – I would either find myself in Germany mastering in Public Health Nutrition or I would be 2 months into a new job. The focus of said job would be nutrition. I would make sure to turn down any offers in other fields, especially if the pay was better than my last job; because I now know the sort of black hole that that can prove to be.

I’m glad to report that I started my third week of work today. At a nutrition focused company applying the two skills I enjoy putting to use: client relations/customer care and clinical nutrition. Next month, I will take on social media support. I cannot wait to start!

If you’re reading this post and you cannot remember what I have been going on about from the beginning, remember this one thing:

Put out into the universe whatever it is that you desire to have. Pray earnestly and specifically, citing all the little details. Then surrender and expect it with all the positive energy that you can master.

Enjoy the rest of your week, good people.

Unplugged

Day 1

So I decided to time off and be quiet for three days. As I type out this draft on my phone, it has only been 24 hours and I am going crazy. I have walked, slept, read and prayed. But I am terrified of being alone around so much quiet and the fact has never been as obvious to me as it is now.

I’m measuring out how much I eat and the quality of my meals. No junk. And I’m offline. Meaning no chats, text messages or calls. I’m starting to understand, just a little bit, the punishment behind solitary confinement. The hardest part, funny enough, is not being able to listen to Michael Bublé. Someone please tell this man that I just might be in love with him. Really. And for the first time in a while, I am glad for the occasional blare of music from noisy neighbours. Like putting on lingerie for no particular reason when you’re home alone, the FM hits are some of the highlights of my day.

Naturally, I’m also going a little crazy with all the time I have to my thoughts. It has become painfully obvious that I am battling anxiety and the need to fill my head with sounds – music and binge watching whatever intriguing series I can find and rewatching (for likely the 10th time or more) Sleeping with Other People – just so I won’t think.

And what am I so afraid of? Loneliness. Failure. Getting left behind. Because I haven’t yet received an email from the school I applied to for a masters program in Europe. Because the path of my relationship is at a fork and I must soon decide which way to go and I haven’t the slightest idea which way would be the best to go. Because I have been out of work for two months and all the free time and writer’s block and the realization that everyone else is busy with their own lives is eating away at me in large chunks.

*sigh*

I have a personal time limit for writing too so I’ll report back in 24 hours. Wish me luck!

I broke the code. I’m back. It has been almost 4 hours since I got into my very warm bed and I’m still awake. I have sung hymns and talked to myself and gotten up to dust the guitar bag (which was likely the only seriously dusty item in my entire house), I have walked out into the cold in just my top and panties to get some fresh air and comb my hair, I have trimmed my hair with kitchen scissors, I have considered going into town to get a muffin or ice cone, I have played back every interesting conversation I have had in my head over the past several weeks and hours.

I think it’s finally safe to say that I am on the verge of insanity. And it isn’t midnight yet!

 

Day 2

I barely slept last night. It follows that I was groggy most of the morning.

Thankfully, I had church in a small intimate community and it lasted all day. I even shared about how hooked I’ve been to my phone and what a struggle it has been to be offline. And I made a new friend.

I am super grateful for human contact, the great tasting leftovers I’m having for dinner, fried eggs, sunshine that is lovely enough to make you slow your pace so it can warm your soul, bananas, my house (in spite of the cold and less-than-ideal access to natural light), a good night’s rest, and answered prayers.

See you on the other side. Which, I hope is in 24 hours.

 

Day 3

I made it!

In all honesty, I lost it at about 3 a.m. and decided to listen to a TED NPR podcast on happiness. And then I was a little sleepy at 4 a.m. so I slept through the morning.

I went out walking and met an old neighbour who introduced me to a current neighbour who also has issues with how cold her house is and the appearance of mold during the cold season (June and July in Nairobi and its environs). So I’m putting it out there that I want a warmer house with lots of natural light.

What I like the most about this time away is how much more at ease I am without my gadgets. And that a blackout would not kill me; even though I’m charging my LED torch battery and planning to buy a couple of club candles. Also, I’m done with supper by 7 p.m. and eating more fruit because I see some while I’m out, I’m getting more sun and keeping physically active, and I have started to have those internal monologues going again instead of lots of noise and panic.

However, I am so very glad to have Michael Bublé back. Try it sometime. Unplug for a weekend and see how amazing you’ll feel at the end.

P.S. Your body will probably scream about not having your earphones plugged in or your about cellphone being off in the first few hours, but hang in there.

Rerouted

I had a nasty post lined up for early this morning. I have been waiting to rant about a few personal issues, most of them rooted in feelings of inadequacy, but I can no longer offer you the somewhat witty analysis of whatever has been eating away at me for about two weeks now. I lost the draft. I was copying it from my phone when I clicked something and lost the draft before I could copy it. Usually, I get very upset when I lose any of my original work. And I’ll be in a mood until I can come up with a piece which is good enough to offer some consolation for the loss.

Right now, I’m choosing to read this as a sign. It is time to let go and move on. The upside of taking a week long trip to a quiet getaway it that you get to clear your head and take note of the things that mean the most to you and those that have held you back the most. The romantic feelings you are struggling with. The anxiety that has shrouded your existence for years. The deep need for control rooted in a fear of getting hurt and being left alone again. The tough exterior that hides all the wishful thinking of a girl hoping to finally make a big career break before she clocks thirty.

The downside of a break from the stressful rushed existence that is often our usual routine, you cannot stop craving an occasional piece of the tranquility that helped unclog your life. I really need to figure out how to meditate!

 

*sigh*

I cannot believe how good it felt to say that. I honestly feel drained enough to lie down and sleep. By nothing in particular. So I’ll be an escapist and plug in my earphones and listen to Years and Years for a bit.

Tips for Travel

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Hello good people!

One month of unemployment has been particularly kind to me. I have been visiting my mother every week – enjoying hours of the Food Network on her large TV screen and the occasional coffee date at Java, I’ve been able to sleep to my heart’s content, I have been reading every chance I get, and I got to cross the border and visit a friend in Arusha, Tanzania. In summary, undulating landscape is breathtaking with lots of trees and rain forest cover, the people are friendly and chatty and they speak a fluent and flowery Swahili, and life there (compared to life in Kenya) is a lot cheaper.

My Instagram account,@sharonogugu, is full of pictorial evidence of the same.

Naturally, there was a handful of lessons on travel to pick on this trip. I thought to share them with you:

1. Plan in advance. Make calls and bookings early. Find out as much as you can about the weather and culture and local language.

2. Pack sensibly. Ladies, please don’t carry five pairs of shoes and matching outfits for a weekend trip. Comfortable closed and flat often work. Sneakers too. Maybe one pair of nice sandals. Two sweaters – one black, one white. A pretty dress. One pair of dark blue pencil jeans. Two vests. Shorts. A couple of socks, undies and an exercise outfit. Roll up your stuff into neat packs and fit it all into a backpack. Keep the personal effects in a smaller traveling bag which can double as a handbag – therein could be a smaller plain (like black) purse which you could use for lighter days spent outdoors.

3. Mix up the wardrobe just in case; make sure you have comfortable shoes and take one nice outfit for a day and/or night out. Pack for warmth, heat and cold. Some plain clothes and some colourful ones.

4. Carry at least one change of warm clothes; a warm jacket, sweats, thick socks, scarves (different colors). You’ll likely need these at night or in case the weather decides to change. Because it happens.

5. Plan your spending and work on a budget. Refer back to your daily expenditure and allocate cash for everything.

6. Be kind and helpful. If, like me, you are hosted – whether at a home or guesthouse or hotel. Pick the bill when you and your host go shopping or out for lunch, help out with some house chores, babysit or offer to take the kids out on a weekend. Keep your room clean and organized. Take part in common activities – gym days, market visits, movie nights.

7. Initiate plans. When asked to, have something to do in mind. Even simple visits to the city or local museum. You might have to do some things on your own, and you’ll likely crave some alone time too.

I hope this post, and these pictures, awaken your Wanderlust.

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Eid Mubarak, to my Muslim brothers and sisters!

Goodbyes

The day before yesterday, I went through a handing over process at my (now) former place of work. I looked around and realized how much I would miss the littlest things – the furniture, the annoyingly bright lights at the reception, the windows letting in lots of natural light, the bubbling in the bottle mounted on the water dispenser.

Keystone is the best company I have worked at in all the 3.5 years that I have been in employment. When I got here, I had big dreams. I had sworn to myself, while still at my former place of work, that I would manage a business centre one day. This is where my dream came to live and thrive. This is where my networks grew. Here,.I learned what it meant to be in charge and came with that responsibility.

Apart from a severance cheque, getting terminated has a handful of benefits. It forces you to see what you did right and what you did wrong. It also forces you to accept what you could not control. Everyone is opening up office space in Westlands. That simply means that competition is tight; which in turn means bowing out when the numbers tell you to.

Already, I have been asked to consult at a few interviews a floor above my old office. That, I am happy to report, went well. I still had to drop in, though. I had to come back and see the place again and say “Hello” to people who have now graduated from clients to friends and good business associates.

As this chapter of my life closes, all I can think is how grateful I am that something so big came out of a Facebook inbox about the possibility of a new centre needing my expertise. I must say that that alone – the journey – makes me very proud of myself.

 

The Pillow

pillows

Pillows, have been to me, at least in my adult life, a great symbol of unshakable friendship. They carry smears of your snort and tears when we’re upset. They have kept our bums warm and properly cushioned while reading for tests and exams in campus. They’re what we use to prop our backs and legs to get ourselves comfortable during sex or after a marathon. They muffle our screams during episodes of intense pain, pleasure or madness – such as during menstrual cramps, coitus, and when the asshole ex is calling and you’re fighting with everything you are not to pick up, respectively.

It therefore follows that I think it a big deal to visit a guy’s place for a few weeks and find that he bought you a swanky new pillow. The only part of this backstory that I am allowed to share (at this point) is that said guy has indicated that he likes you but he isn’t looking for a relationship. Which stings a little because we all want to feel like the sort of woman who would make any rogue fool want to change his ways and settle down. But you’ve recently ended a less-than-perfect relationship and you could do with the company.

Now, back to the pillow. First of all, you likely complained about the hard cushion that is a flimsy excuse of a pillow for a while. Secondly, it probably took him weeks to do anything about it – he likely even bought throw pillows for his couch in bright red or yellow or both just to prove that he could do what he wanted with his house – especially if he is in his 20s with a competitive point-proving spirit and a lot more money that he knows what to do with. But that is a story for another day. Lastly, the pillow is technically his. But the fact that he got one, a nice one from Dr. Mattress (or more likely, Nakumatt Lifestyle where he last bought his milk), the very fact that he got one is a big deal. Add to this that he never uses it. Even when you offer to share while you cuddle. In my mind, it means that he wouldn’t mind having you around again for a while.

Pause.

For the men reading this, you will soon realize that a lot of conversation with a woman continues to happen is her head long after you have gone quiet and walked away or hang up. For this reason, be very careful about what you say, how you say and when. Because even cynics such as my subject use actions to fill the gaps in conversation. Why? Because men are not often (if ever) big about baring their souls. So there.

This post is dedicated, first, to pillows around the world for the unconditional love that they offer and, second, to the good friend who shared this with me; because we both read so much into everything and that’s likely why we had to meet unexpectedly in the middle of the night to talk about this and so much more craziness.

To everyone else reading this, treat your pillows with a little (or a lot) more love, will you?

Empathy

So I got to the office pretty early this morning, on account of a lift from a kind neighbour, and I made it here in time to enjoy staring out our big glass windows while listening to a podcast: To Endure on TED Radio Hour. It featured three personalities, but my focus was particularly drawn to one.

Monica Lewinsky.

Past the fact that she was the White House intern whose affair with Bill Clinton was brought to light in 1998, very few of us (myself included) have failed to be empathetic towards this brave woman. Take a moment. Imagine what it’s like to work closely with someone from the office and then develop feeling for them. Say you take it to another level. Like any normal woman I know, you talk to a friend about it. Downside, your friend records the private conversations and leaks them to create one of the biggest sex scandals in American history.

Does the scenario sound plausible? Our friends and colleagues sometimes confess that they have had affairs outside of their relationships or with people in relationships. Usually, we just listen. Worst case scenario, we tell someone else. If we’re decent enough, we rearrange the details of the story so that the real owner of the story (yes, owner, because it is never in our place to share such personal details unless we have been allowed to) remains anonymous. If you’re Monica Lewinsky, you are shamed all over the world by people of all ranks and ages, your former lover denounces you on national television while referring to you as “that woman”, insulted on social media and your name (both names) become synonymous with whoring, your mother has you take showers with the day open because she is afraid that the scandal will quite literally kill you.

That last part hit me hard. Stop for a minute and imagine having to take showers with the door wide open and your parent right outside the door because neither of you is confident that all the public scrutiny you’re getting for a publicized private mistake will not push you to suicide.

So the next time you think to put up a nasty, hurtful, racist, hateful, prejudiced message about another human being, think about what you’re putting people through. Another human being like yourself. Because I am willing to bet that you are as flawed and vulnerable and hurt as we come.

Life is already hard enough, let us take minute to be kind and nice and spread a little warmth around us. Let us do what we can where we are to make the world around us a warmer and more accepting place.

Pssst!  Here’s more on Monica’s own Ted Talk, The Price of Shame, and an eye-opening article on some of the consequences of social media comments on the same featured talk,  This Is What Happened When We Posted Monica Lewinsky’s Ted Talk.

Have a great weekend, everyone! Let’s spread some empathy, shall we?