Friday, July 26, 2019

Self care and my steps to living mindfully: How pride and independence affects your thankfulness.


I have always been an independent woman. I take care of my bills, I take charge of situations and most times I really do have enough to not need extras from other people.
I grew up having more than most kids my age had and often, my grandma would be giving away clothes I was barely out of to neighbours for their children.

When I got into college, the universe shifted a little. Here I was thousands of miles away from home trying to figure out new currency. I was in class with kids whose parents served  in the government or in the military. The rest belonged to a ruling class in Western African countries and had real titles like Prince.
They drove Audis, Jeeps and other big cars. I rode in the free bus provided by the state I lived in. Sometimes I got home late when the bus driver, seeing only Africans at the bus stop sped off without stopping.

At times I shared a cab with the Iranian man and the girl from Kuwait in my Broadcasting unit who lived downstairs.

My housemate was this sweet thing that was studying design and she made the house quite comfortable. We had rugs and cushions and differently colored walls.
In my second semester, I still had not bought any new clothes. I was still wearing my khakis and gray Tops and brown coconut husk bangle to class.

One evening she handed me a shopping bag with new shorts, a new huge top and a new handbag.
That was the new style.
I would have looked quite hot in the outfit.
Within the week she gave me a maroon dress.
My deskie in Communication unit teased me and said I must have a boyfriend else why did I so suddenly start wearing dresses to class?

The following week my housemate invited me for dinner at the boathouse. I said yes then said no thanks when she said- my treat.


I didn't want to be given all the time.
It was making me feel small.
And beggarish
So I told her 'don't give me things anymore since I have nothing to give you.'

Yeah. I said that.

It was quite offensive to her. She was Arab you see, and Arabs, at least the ones I know believe in sharing and distributing and what you have is mine and what I have is yours sort of set up.

I still didn't learn.
And even when things have been tough other the years I never learned how to accept things from people. Because - sasa atanionaje-

When you don't ask, people assume you are fine.
When you say no thanks I'm ok people stop trying.

When you feel you are in a superior position, the benefactor, mfadhili and the source of all good things, you get to a point of intense independence that no one can pull you out from. Independence breeds pride.

'I don't need anything from anybody.
I have everything I need.
People thank me, for my gifts.'

But you really miss out on a crucial human element of interaction.
You never learn to say thank you.
You never lack anything so intensely that the moment you get it you really would like to do a dance around the house.
Or really give the person that 'sorted' you a good firm handshake full of thanks.

Your relationships don't run deep.
And you start to develop :


You feel like the world owes you.
Your parents owe you.
Your siblings owe you.
Your boss owes you.
Your neighbours owe you.

If they do not bow and curtsy whenever you pass along then they have personally attacked you.

We of course don't bow anymore but there are other ways.

How important is your opinion?
How readily do you force it down others throats?
How do you feel about those that dismiss your opinion to only buy Whiskas for their cats?

Lack of exposure

When you are independent, possessing high opinions and possibly unaware that you fit the description of a proud person, it's very likely you live in a bubble.

You have no idea that if you came home one night and realised you don't have matches in the house you can simply knock on your neighbours' door and ask for three matchsticks and it would not make you a beggar.
So you go to bed hungry or call an Uber to take you to the mall for matches.

I have missed on many opportunities to show gratitude when I was too quick to say 'no thank you I'm fine.'


How do you maintain friendships without any of you taking advantage of the other?
I at one time had the faulty idea that friendship was better maintained by only meeting up when both of you were in their best mood, dressed up in your best dresses, with purple lipstick.

But I have learned that true friendship also thrives on gratitude. And gratitude, in turn, grows out of periods of needing each other.
You know when it's date 17 when you would rather not have visitors because you only now have that brown chapati flour and two garlic blurbs in your vegetable shelf but your friend appears in your house with a bag of soko ugali and a bunch of edible greens?

Or when you have been biting your nails because you said something stupid to your friend and you are not sure if you will be forgiven and you are too old to start making new friends so you just sit there calling yourself all sorts of names Coz you blew it.

Then your friend sends you a whatsapp meme and asks you if you want to work together on Thursday and you realise you are forgiven?

That kind of gratitude.

Coz yes you needed that maize meal and yes you admit you said something stupid but you are willing to never be stupid again. Because you treasure this friendship.

You don't learn gratitude in theory. It is not from perfunctory thank you phrases in high pitched voice.

You learn gratitude when you learn to cohabit with other living beings.
Because you will need something from someone one time.
And if you are this independent human being with a backup plan for everything, kwisha wewe.
Kwisha Mimi too because I am only learning this now.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Profile: The Constantly Constant Maureen K

This is Maureen K.
Maureen is constant.

If you decided to go to America to find a job and then your visa expired and you lived incognito for 23 years somewhere in Los Angels and then you somehow managed to find false papers to come back for a short visit to your relatives, you would still find her the same. But you, you would look out of place in your American clothes because this is Kenya and we keep up with the Kardashians.

 I think 23 years is enough for you to be rubbed off the family records.. ? And they start talking to you as when nanii  was alive.

Maureen, when she walks, she seems to be receiving interpretations to prophesies or revelations to things that will happen in the future so she has this smile that says, yes I'm listening mortal man but..
'I have food you do not know of'

I would like to say we are friends but I am not yet there. To be Maureen's friend you have to have reached a certain level of Zen, where all the elements: earth, sky and water are in balance.
I think it's called poise.
Her friends have poise
She has two friends. Dennis and Mambo. The rest of us are aspiring to be her friends.
She has two skirts, a maroon scarf and one full neck sweater. And a hat

She also has two sisters and I've been thinking if I was friends with her I might be able to request one of her sisters to teach me how to dance to 90's Hiphop.
I Donno if she knows how to but she looks like she might. Like the girl from that dance movie what was it- the dance one that had a really hot black dude?

I like Maureen because she makes sign language beautiful.
You know how some people sign and you wander:
Are they in pain?
Do they have indigestion?
Are they trying to remove a tiny piece of meat between their teeth but it's refusing and they are trying to remove it while hoping you don't notice?
Do they have an involuntary spasm going through their arms and upper body?
I am included in that description.

I admire Maureen because she has mastered the capsule dressing technique while the rest of us have three suitcases of  dresses and even after spending half an hour mix and matching we still end up looking like we were launched out of a racial street parade festival in Brazil.

I mean me.

Maureen is also a great cook. Not of big ugali and large pilaus but of Oriental sounding dishes like Quiche.

So now you have met Maureen and I know your life has improved.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

This Chic: Destination Canaan but oh wait sorry wrong turn.

I got these flowers to commemorate my 8th month of unemployment.

Pardon me, this is one of those real posts that give someone an unpleasant feeling.
I promise to write a happy one soon which you can like.

During these 8 months I have gone through the three stages of unemployment mental status.

1. Destination Canaan

This is the Greener pastures stage.
This is the stage where I was saying ,  I'm settling for nothing less than my worth.
I am gonna get full value for my experience and age and hard knocks of my former life.

'A son should earn more than his father after all.'

And why should I waste my life in a job that doesn't pay me enough to afford a tiny car to do my rounds?

And as woman of three and 10, living from paycheck to paycheck? It goes against nature.
Plus a hundred other philosophies.

'Show me the money,'
said I.
And if the money was not to my liking I turned up my nose and said it was nice meeting you but this is where our paths end.

2. The fighter stage

When I got to this stage I stuck my chest out and clenched my fists.
So you won't give me a job world?
I will show you!
Ata I don't need that job.
I am a survivor.
And so of course, I worked very hard.

Every small kibarua I got I gave it attention. I tried new things,
I remembered skills I had acquired  and was putting them into use.
When the hard earned money would slip out of my hands as soon as it came I started thinking that actually my former paycheck was not that bad even if it just took care of rent and bills.

So maybe I could take a similar job for a similar pay and in another five years I'll still need a KCB-Mpesa loan to get me to the end of the month.

(This would be a good point to cry very much)
The Pambana na Hali yako stage

So eventually you notice you have just sent out your 174th job application with an edited cover letter and updated CV.

You attend your 10th interview and three weeks later they don't call so you realise just because you did an interview doesn't mean you will get hired in 2019.

So what to do but  tupambana na hali yako the best  way you can?

Random person: Hiii!! How are you Cecilia?
Me: (with a smile like the sun itself) Heeeeey! Never been better!
Random person: How is work?
Me: Great! How is life?

Friend: Hey Ciss how are you?
Me: Not sure
Friend: I drew you a picture, see below
Me: awwww, just what I need to get through another day
Friend: I know, hang in there.

Efficiency, why we must learn to be.

 There are no schools that you will sign up to to learn how to be efficient. Most will teach you a profession or a skill and it's up to ...