Category Archives: Life journey

Eat, Pray, Love

Standard

Some time, within the last year or the one before I wanted to write an article inspired by the movie Eat, Pray, Love. I actually started writing but it lacked flow so I abandoned it. Forgive my powers of recall because I cannot say for a fact what happened to that article because I looked for the title in my archives and could not find it. If I could hazard a guess I would say I modified it and posted it in a different form. Turns out sometimes when you throw some things out (read words) they come back to you. I don’t need to tell you that you should be careful what you throw out.  A friend of mine asked if I felt like I had a slow year and I responded it was a restful year. She thought I was being positive but later when I pondered over it, I realized 2013 for me was Eat, Pray, Love. Fortunately, it was different from the Elizabeth Gilbert version.

Pray tell, what do you do when you think you have met the one and he is missing something that you hold sacred? Answer: you pray. I met a man at the tail end of last year and I thought it was gift from God. I know I know who says such things out loud? Me! As I beheld my gift I wondered why God would give me a gift that I couldn’t grab hold of just yet? Well, simply because He is God and He can. I prayed that God would make it clear if He was giving me this gift and a verse came to mind every good and perfect gift comes from above. What was required of me was to trust God. I trusted that God would remove all doubts that the gift was mine and He confirmed it in his own time. Have you been given a gift and you’re not quite sure if it is yours or you’re not sure what to do with it? Pray! God hears you when you do and if it is within His will to give you something don’t fret He will make it happen. I also prayed for some things and I didn’t quite get them. In between feeling frustrated and sorry for myself, I prayed that God would help me to trust Him. One of those things was a big dream I had. I didn’t get my big dream but my eyes opened to the little dreams I had which came true. Some, I thought were too much to wish for but they came true nonetheless. I also had the privilege of praying for friends and seeing their dreams come true; which is a wonderful blessing. As I go into the New Year I am reminded I should dream and whatever dreams I have I should cast them upon God who loves me and knows which dreams are worth bringing forth and at the right time.

I dreamed a little dream that I would have a cooking club and experiment on exotic dishes I could not even dreamed of. It’s no secret I love to eat but only to the extent that I would like to live to eat another day. I shared my dream with a few friends and together we took some culinary journeys to exotic places. To clarify, exotic in this case means outside of your usual fare. What a fantastic thing it is to share your dream with like minded people. We still haven’t called it cooking club but amongst us we have created food memories to last us a while. From the first All Natural Red Velvet Cake which was alongside the Chocolate Fudge Cake that was unrivalled by anything we had ever had before, to the chicken pasta salad with the amazing Italian dressing, the spinach dip which we couldn’t get enough of, the pineapple carrot cake with the frosting that was too runny and yet so rich and delightful and the sweet and sour chicken that smelled glorious. The beauty of it all was though we used recipes created by others we made our own modifications to suit our different situations.  I learnt that creativity breeds creativity. When you take a step to create something new you might be scared especially if you’re not sure of the outcome but go ahead and create anyway because that’s the only way your creativity will grow. Another highlight for me was also sharing the food we cooked with the people I love. Moreover, I got to experience fine dining and cooking with someone I love which was a dream come true. Of course eating has its hazards when it is over done but my advice is as much as possible if you have to eat (not to live) to really live share it with people you love. Calories shared are calories halved.

What can I say of love? It’s a beautiful thing. It is not hard to see God’s penmanship in some love stories. Is God writing your love story or are you writing it yourself? The difference is God can see the end from the beginning while humans can only see so far. Even so when God is writing you have a role to play. What is your role you ask? Your role is to make choices. You choose to communicate in love when things are great and especially when they are not great, to give without expecting in return, to forgive when you have been hurt, to apologize when you’re on the wrong and even when you’re not sure if you were entirely on the wrong just to bring peace, to make sacrifices to preserve the values you hold dear, to accept the other person as they are and to bring a smile to the other person’s face by doing thoughtful things. You also choose to allow God into your relationship, to ask Him to refill your love supply when it is diminishing and to help you to take the high road, to be the bigger person and all those other things that are not pleasant for your ego but have good returns in the long run. In my year of love I have learnt that love is its own reward. I have also learnt love is more than a feeling, it is a commitment.

Finally, after we eat, pray and love let us not forget to laugh because life would be dull otherwise. I know it sounds simplistic but “a life lived without joy (mirth) is a life less well lived”. Feel free to quote me. Happy 2014 to you!

Advertisements

Embrace Discomfort

Standard

Sometime last year my friend was driving us to a place close enough to the CBD. See we live in a country where traffic in the central business district is a complete nightmare so drivers avoid it like most people avoid pumpkin in a meal. For those of you who are confused right about now, pumpkin must have bribed its way into becoming a pet name if you ask me or other pumpkin averse people. So as he was driving us we passed some gorgeous houses on Dennis Pritt Road and State House Road and these houses are the stuff of dreams. Then he said the most interesting thing: he said he likes to drive around the “better” neighborhoods because it makes him uncomfortable with his current status quo. I found that very interesting and yet it made sense.

Discomfort is not something anyone enjoys (I mean its discomfort). It doesn’t get any more enjoyable than that but yet there is a point to it. I dare say we should embrace discomfort. Look around you at most of the successful people you know or have heard of. What do they have in common? They all grew up in discomfort and that is putting it mildly for some. They had to contend with less than the prescribed three meals a day. They did not have the best clothes. They may have had to walk long distances to school and luxuries that some of us consider so basic were just fantasies for them. Discomfort has a way of reinforcing our desire to change the status quo and it does more than that it causes us take action. Just think if you were wearing an ill-fitting pair of shoes and it was the only pair of shoes you owned, would you not want to work harder so you can afford another pair of shoes that fit better?

A few weeks ago I read an article and it made me uncomfortable. It was about rich Kenyans under 40. There are people on that list who are 27 years old. I am going to be 27 in the not too distant future (God willing) and after reading the article and pondering I need a miracle. But that is beside the point; what can we do to reduce our discomfort about things? Well, one of the things I have learnt over the years is that hard work is a huge factor in getting to the place you want to go. Besides working hard you need to work smart. Working smart is the best option because sadly because some hard jobs don’t get people pay that is anything to write home about. Instead people would rather toss the letter in the dust bin rather than send it home. To get out of discomfort you might have to get your hands dirty (and I don’t mean soiling your hands with shady business). Quite a number of people on that list started in agri-business. Allow me to digress a little. For the longest time my dad has decried the decline of agriculture in the rural areas. The young people in rural areas have been made to believe farming is a dirty job (literally) and they would have better luck coming to the big city. As a result farmers have a difficult time finding farm hands.  Yet what I find amazing, is that there is an emerging wave of graduate farmers who are taking it upon themselves to feed the nation.  I have to confess all the times my dad mentions Jembe and I in the same sentence I chuckle but I kid you not I’m so proud of graduate farmers everywhere I will soon join them: watch this space.  Another thing I learnt is you need guts. I went to a meeting last weekend and guts was defined as Getting Used To Sneers. You might choose to do something that people will not think too highly of and that is too put it mildly. We have innumerable stories of people who did very unglamorous work in the beginning but years later became the subject of envy. Whatever you are doing don’t let anyone despise you. The truth is you need to start somewhere. It was said at the meeting if you get used to sneers you will get used to success. It still spells G.U.T.S.

I have gravitated a lot towards enterprise and money but it does not stop there. I don’t care what people say there is more to life than money and quantifiable success. Are you uncomfortable with your relationships with family or friends or significant others? It’s ok. What are you going to do about it? The natural response by us mortal ones is to complain about the other person not doing this or that, not understanding where I’m coming from etc. This is selfish! Yeah I said it. Please don’t think I’m writing from some lofty horse. I am guilty of being selfish too. When it comes to our relationships, time for self-reflection is an underrated necessity. When you self-reflect you will see that you have been selfish in one way or other unless you don’t have a pulse. Feel the discomfort of your selfishness and work on it. Once I read a quote that I will paraphrase that said “everyone thinks of changing the world but no one thinks of changing themselves”. I know it has been said so many times it’s a cliché (people please find another line but) “change begins with you”. Think about it one it only took one person to decide eating meat was bad and now 1% of the French population is vegetarian. <Random fact of the day> The French love their meat so much that a vegetarian association had to lobby the government to get a more diverse meal plan for their schools. Would you like other people to be kinder, be kind that’s one kinder person in the world; a couple billion to go but still minus one mean person.

I think we are still in the season of making resolutions and one that makes the top ten lists is “I want to go to church more often”. Mi thinks people make this resolution because they are uncomfortable about their spirituality. I challenge anyone who has made this resolution to do one better. Resolve to know God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). Going to church is great but knowing God even better. I was watching a spy series and the male agent never liked to read the manuals of electric machines because he preferred to figure it out on his own. The result was the percolator caused the coffee beans to come out in an explosion. Don’t be that guy. God gave us a manual called the bible. You don’t have to figure stuff out all on your own. I find that when you read the manual you might even discover how to use the extra features on the machine. Who knows what else you percolator can do.

I finish with asking you to watch the movie Rio. Blue was a blue macaw (go figure) that was found by an American girl after he was smuggled from a forest in Rio de Janeiro. Being found was great because he got to live a cushy life in a house in America. His cushy life contributed to his not learning how to fly. The story went on and he went to Rio because it was thrust upon him to save his species by joining with a female macaw, something he did not want to do. A lot of times they were in danger and mostly because he couldn’t fly and he kept bringing the female macaw down. To cut a long story short, Blue had to save his female macaw friend from the hands of the smugglers and since she had hurt her wing he had to carry her and fly. The moral of the story is when we are too comfortable we don’t invest in skills (among other things) which we really need. However life throws discomfort in our way so that we can use our wings and fly.

Keep Working…

Standard

When I was young-er I knew that Manu Dibango was a great African musician. I cannot say anyone told me this but I just knew. I knew he was in the class of Youssour N’Dour, Salif Keita and much later I discovered Habib Koite. I think these musicians are Africa’s biggest export to the world musically. The weird thing is until recently I could not pin point to a Manu Dibango song. Once upon a time I stumbled onto a Manu Dibango’s record in my dad’s LP collection. I was thoroughly impressed but then again my dad’s collection is the stuff of collector’s items but that’s a story for another day.

I have a strong liking for Capital Jazz Club. The major disagreement I had with it was the timing. It is on Sunday evening. Throughout the years I fancied listening to Capital Jazz Club but I couldn’t bring myself to sacrifice my ears on Sunday evening. Then my brother pointed out I shouldn’t consider myself a real fan if I wasn’t willing to make the sacrifice. That sparked something in me and now I listen to Capital Jazz Club avidly though not religiously. Anyway, when I was listening to “The Club” as Jack Ojiambo (the host) fondly refers to it I stumbled upon a Johnny Walker advert on Manu Dibango. In the advert Manu talks about his song “Soul Makossa”. He said that when Soul Makossa came out people said it was an overnight sensation. But he continued to say it took 20 years. He said it took 20 years of hard work and practice before he came up with Soul Makossa. Bet you’re all wondering what is so significant about the song Soul Makossa. Michael Jackson sampled Soul Makossa in his song “Wanna be starting something” and Lionel Richie did the same in “All night long”. Manu continued to say whatever you do keep working and then he finishes with the Johnny Walker tagline keep walking.

The moral of the story is building something good takes time. In this age there is a lot of pressure to succeed. You look around and the guy or girl you grew up with is in a high flying job, driving your dream car and where are you? If it’s not the girl or guy you grew up with it is someone else maybe younger than you; depressing isn’t it? Of course pressure seems to come from everywhere. Look at the property pages in the newspaper awash with splendid houses at astronomical figures and you wonder when will I get there. When will I afford my slice of urban splendour? And there is a new car make every so often that makes your mouth water and you keep your dream alive and say one day I will drive that. Then you retreat to yourself and ask when? When seems like so far off. Then you start to feel really stressed out and inadequate. So you work harder, sacrifice more of your time working and plotting and planning your future. I have news for you. Those are premature grey hairs you are manufacturing. People talk about how life is a rat race and how they don’t want to be in a rat race. But the truth is no one holds a gun to your head and asks you to run. You take your two feet in there and you start to compete with other people. Like in all races there is only one winner. With the rat race it is no different, so we are killing ourselves only to be disappointed when we cannot keep up.

But then there is another way to look at things. Life is a process. What is more important than getting all these big rewards for your efforts is growth and maturity. Growth and maturity come from working at things for a long time. You need to work on your character, your skills, and your life purpose. These things take work and time. Allow me to digress a bit. I have a high affinity for food shows. There’s a show which features diners in America. In a particular diner they make doughnuts coated with bacon. It sounds strange but I reckon there is a method to their madness. When they make their doughnuts they mix dry ingredients and wet ingredients of course. One of the dry ingredients is yeast which makes the doughnut to rise so that when it is cooked it is this big fluffy ring of goodness. The thing that stuck me about their process of making doughnuts is that they let the doughnut sit for 24 hours. The host of the show asked again “24 hours?” Yes they said. Then he said “I love these guys”. The host of the show owns a restaurant or two and he knows lots about food. But even he was impressed that they would let their dough sit for 24 hours because he knows the product at the end is of superior quality. It won’t be your typical dime a dozen doughnut literally.

Still on food, it is common knowledge that a good wine is one that has been matured for a long time. Give a wine taster a 2011 bottle and he will only taste it out of politesse. Even the makers of Tabasco sauce proudly say there chillies are matured in oak barrels for six months. When you think of your average tomato or chilli sauce you would say “six months, are these people nut?” But you’ve tasted Tabasco sauce right; you know it’s not your average chilli sauce. What does this mean; if you want to be a dare I say a superior quality being you have got to know it is a process. Like the song Makossa there is no such thing as an overnight sensation. And if you think about it those overnight sensation songs fade to oblivion as quickly as they came.

Finally I will leave you with a story I have heard twice: the story of the Chinese bamboo tree. I am sure some of you have heard it, feel free to make any corrections where I have exaggerated or something like it. A person bought a Chinese bamboo tree seed and planted it. He watered it and tended to it for a year and nothing came out of the ground. He watered and cared for it the second year and still nothing came out of the ground. The third year he did the same thing. He watered and cared for it but nothing. The fourth year he still continued to water and care for it and nothing came out of the ground. By now someone must be saying insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. But still the fifth year he watered and cared for the plant. Around the third month or thereabouts something emerged from the ground. It was the Chinese bamboo tree. He continued to water it and within 5 weeks the tree had grown to 90 feet. This is a valuable life principle, invest in your character, abilities, life purpose and keep at it. It will surely pay off one day.