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?

About that Future…

There’s nothing as bad as getting conflicted over something that means a lot to your professional well-being while getting in the way of your personal happiness. More specifically, it stings when your romantic life suffers under the pressure of a performance contract, frequent job reviews and strict supervisors. 

Right?

I was 14 when I decided that my work would make up most of the chart that would be adult my life. I gave up any ideas of marriage and kids. That decision stayed with me. Let me pause here and indicate that we should watch what we put out into the universe. Because the universe listens and remembers.

 

Fast forward to almost 14 years later and my heart is still where it was all those ago. And little has changed with regard to the order of my priorities. Funny story, I fell in love with one amazing man through most of my 20s and the only time he broke my heart was when he left for Europe to study. So much for unlike poles attracting. I haven’t given up on love, but it feels more like a buffer for those days when work will feel more like a huge burden than a source of fulfilment.

 

Back to that thing about the universe. I’m sending out good vibes for the second half of this year. I will be consumed with work which will finally be related to what I want to focus on for the rest of the foreseeable future. I like structure. And it will feel so darn good to get back into a regular routine in a new environment!

 

Also, the writer’s block will have dissolved some and I will be bursting forth with new material and just enough time to post weekly.

Foreboding

😦

I cleared out my desk at the office today. And I don’t just mean cleaning up. I mean I packed my stuff and left just enough to carry comfortable in a handbag should I receive confirmation that my company is closing shop.

About two weeks ago, I was in the kitchen when a client stated how unfortunate it is that the business centre is closing down. Shocked, I pretended to have known my director’s plans and proceeded to promise to help with the move the best way I could. I started feeling unmotivated about going to work. Then I wanted to be at the office all the time. Then I sent an email asking for a confirmation and something solid to report back to my clients who had started to ask about the notice period.

I like to be control. All the time except for when, say, I am in the arms of a lover. So when control is taken from me, especially when I think I deserve it, I lose it. So this is the story of my life. Sending out job applications and looking for inspiration online. That and dancing so hard on the weekend I can actually sleep when I get home – hopefully without being able to think or feel anything other than fatigued on the ride home. And overstaying my welcome at friends’ places, all the while impressing them with my cooking and cleaning so they’ll be okay with having me around so long.

Now, the internet does not forget. And there’s this thing called “due diligence”. Where your future employer’s HR looks through your public history to determine employee risk, etc. I should care. Because I plan on remaining employed for a while. Yet here we are. And I promised myself that I would stop putting up a strong front.

I feel bad and I’m sharing this with people the universe has brought my way. Because one of the things that helps me get through a bad feeling or experience is the knowledge that I am not going through this alone.