Inside a poets heart

Inside a poet’s heart,
Lies a hidden well,
Bubbling with truths,
Bubbling with dreams,
Bubbling with questions needing answers.

Inside a poet’s heart,
Lies a dark maze,
That is slowly lit,
By a steady trail of words,
Streaming from her heart to her pen.

Inside a poet’s heart,
Lies stories and secrets,
That are yet to be told and shared,
Follow the poet down this road of discovery,
And you just might catch a clear glimpse of what lies inside a poet’s heart.

Opinions and expectations

Somebody asked me, “How does one define your purpose? How does one get to that place where they are living the life they were meant to live?”
There are various views on this. Mine is just one more. The broad spectrum of purpose cannot be summarised in one short piece so I will just share on what I have seen and learnt about opinions.
Opinions play a big role in the way we see ourselves and what we work towards. Often, we find ourselves living our lives based on the opinions of others. They say that what others think of you should not matter but the reality is that it does. We find ourselves wanting to live up to the expectations of the ones we care about, needing to meet that status, buy that car, get that job and have a particular lifestyle to fit in with the crowd. Is this a bad thing? No. Being mindful of the expectations of others make us more accommodating towards them, and we can then live peacefully with each other.
However, what others expect from us can become a trap, keeping us from living happy and fulfilled lives. For instance, the young person who gives up their dream to be a musician for a desk job because that is what his parents expect from him finds himself losing sight of his purpose and enjoying his every day life.
My take – we need to listen to others but be wise enough to know the difference between the opinions that should influence us and the ones we should ignore. Remember, we only have one life to life, we should be living it to the fullest. Sometimes just being brave enough to stand up for what we believe in is the first step in the journey towards purpose and a fulfilled life.
And so my dear reader, be brave enough today to stand up for your opinion. Prayerfully consider the direction your life should be moving towards. Play an active role in pursuing your destiny: the world will respect you for it and you will find yourself more fulfilled in the long run.

Traveling light

I recently had to move from the land of my birth to a new city in a different country. On my exit flight, I had a luggage limit of 30 kgs. That was a very big problem. You see, I am the type who person who has difficulties throwing anything away. I always think that I will need it in the future. Now, not only did I have to narrow down my most important items into 30kgs, but also had to pack the rest of my belongings to occupy as little space as possible. In short, I had to get rid of my non-essentials.

And so the sorting and categorization of my stuff began. I found that some items I simply had to forget and throw away, some I could store for future use and others found new homes with my friends and family. What started as a mammoth, difficult task turned out to be a richly rewarding experience when I involved others in it.

Life can be like that sometimes. We walk around with so much stuff in us, both good and bad, and all it does is weigh us down. Perhaps its time to learn how to travel light. I believe life would be much easier if we learnt the stuff in our lives to forget, store for future use or give away to others.

Our hearts would be lighter if we chose to forgive and forget all the bad stuff that happened to us, giving that hurt to God, the only one who can heal it. Our lives would be richer if we learnt to store the beautiful moments happening today in our minds and hearts, to encourage us when times get a bit harder. Our relationships would be stronger if we remembered to give away a smile even when we are exhausted, to give away a word of encouragement even when we are discouraged, to give away our time and affection even when the daily grind is pulling us in other directions. Traveling light is not easy, but I am convinced that it might be one of the most fulfilling ways to live life yet!

Sharing stories, sharing hope

Every life is unique, with a story to tell.
The beauty of this life we live is that experiences others have gone through can give us renewed hope and energy. Many times in my life I have been greatly encouraged by the people I have interacted with. Today I’d like to share one life story that reminds me sometimes all you need is to take a step of faith and use the little you have in your hand.

The 50 shilling (about 0.6 dollars) miracle
A dear lady once sat with a group of young women and was asked to speak. This woman is now an accomplished business woman, singer and songwriter who travels the world over. Naturally the women, me included, wanted to know how she got there. What she told us left us amazed. She told us of how when she was young, her mother had to leave her and her younger brother alone at home, traveling for many weeks to distant cities to try an earn an income. She told us of days she and her brother went without food, till one day her brother collapsed and she knew that she had to do something about it. Being only twelve years of age, she could not get any kind of job and the local store could not allow her to take any more goods on credit. The local store owner, being a kind-hearted man, gave her just enough for one meal and a fifty Kenya shillings note as it was all he had.
She then went home and made a meal for herself and her brother,immensely grateful for this act of kindness. The next question was what to do with the little money the shopkeeper had given her. At this point, she had no way of knowing when her mother was coming back, as they were too poor to afford a mobile phone or a landline. She did not even know where exactly her mother was. If she and her brother were to survive, she would have to start making some money.
This little girl, armed with nothing but her faith that God would see her through and the fifty shillings note, went to the open air market and bought a packet of onions and tomatoes, reasoning that the average Kenyan uses these two ingredients to make a basic meal, so she could resell them and make a little more money.
And so the young girl went back home, spread her little shuka (a traditional sash) outside the house near the path and started selling her wares. Now you can imagine the sight; a little girl in the twilight hour asking passers-by to buy her wares. Anything could have happened to her but God kept watch and gave her favor. She sold everything and made double the money that evening and every other evening for two weeks until her mother returned.
There, her love of entrepreneurship was born. Her little business continued to thrive, with help from her mother, and it became their livelihood.
Over the years the young girl grew, honing her business skill and building her faith in God. She now sat before us, an accomplished role model we could look up to. There were tears in her eyes as she told us this story, as she remembered the man who helped her when she was on the verge of helplessness. The man who was the turning point in her life. She reminded us that what to us is little, will be much in someone elses eyes. So be encouraged today, keep giving and helping in your own little way; it might make a world of difference in somebody’s life.

Seven miles to heaven

I once read somewhere that seven is the number of completion. On the seventh try, we get to the grand finale, the thing we have all been waiting for: we finally win the elusive prize. I think that’s all well and good, but what about the time in between? What happens as I am moving from my first try towards the great number seven? How can I even be sure that I will get there?

Thanks to my love of figuring things out, when I have questions like these, I stop and think a bit harder than usual. Growing up, we were always told that we need to work hard, get good jobs, make a decent living and raise wonderful children, then we will have made it, we will have won, creating our own little piece of heaven right here on earth. Well life does not always turn out that way, does it? Sometimes we work hard but do not get the good job. Sometimes we have the job but just cannot make ends meet. Sometimes our children are our worst nightmares. Does this mean that we have failed? Have our seven miles to heaven now become seven hundred more miles to heaven? Are we running an impossible race that we cannot win?

I tend to think not. Sure, sometimes we do not reach our goals and life ambitions. I fall flat on my face more often than I would like to admit. As I have grown (a bit) older, pondering over these questions has led me to a different way of thinking. Maybe we don’t have to get through all seven miles to reach heaven. Maybe all we need to do is live in the moment, focus on the good things we are blessed with every day, even as we work towards the bigger things.

The person who said that the best things in life are free was truly clued-up. Yes we may not have everything, but we have something. I may not have the perfect job, but at least I’m not begging on the streets. I may not have the perfect children or family, but at least we have shared a few moments I can look back on and smile. It’s really not that bad. Sometimes we need to stop focusing on the big thorn that hurts us, lean over just a bit more and smell the beautiful rose. What’s in front of you might be that piece of heaven you have been searching for all along.

Accidents and consequences

Who would have thought that an accident would be a source of inspiration?

So there I was driving home feeling super confident as usual, after a fun catching up session with my girlfriend. It was one of those days that traffic is exceptionally light and there’s not too much drama on the road. It was quite easy to get lost in my thoughts reminiscing on nice moments and great friends I am blessed to have in my life. Now I know the road is not the place to daydream, but we all have those moments, right?

Anyway, I got to this junction where all of a sudden there was so much traffic and very little order. Naturally, my mind snapped back to attention and I started driving like the good law-abiding citizen I try to be. After skillfully (read bull fighting my way through – Nairobi drivers are the worst when it comes to giving way!) weaving my way through traffic to my lane, I was back to my nice happy thoughts, grateful that the worst was over. Then my phone rang.

You know how they tell us that mobile phones are terrible distractions on the road? Its true. Please ignore your phone when you are driving, don’t learn the hard way like me. But I digress. Back to my phone ringing. I took my eyes of the road for a moment (really it was a moment) to find my phone, just to hear a sickening thud. Just like that, in a split second, I had left my mark on the back of another person’s car.

Lucky for me, it was not a major collision and we were able to agree on a settlement. As I left there, with a heavy heart and a considerably lighter wallet, it got me thinking. Sometimes  we make one seemingly minor bad decision with far-reaching negative consequences that keep us stuck in that moment. It’s so easy to get lost in the ‘what if’s’ and ‘I wish’. We all make mistakes but that should never be a reason to give up. I tend to think that life is like a marathon, often not won by the fastest sprinter, but by the one who has the most endurance and stamina. Our mistakes help to redefine where we do not want to go again, making our future path clearer. So l choose today to learn from my mistakes. I refuse to let regret hinder my progress. Just like our quirks define us, I will let the lessons from my mistakes refine me and make me a better person. Will you do the same?

Thank you for your smile

It has always been said that giving a smile away leaves one richer. Indeed it does. There are many benefits to smiling, the importance of sharing some happiness through a smile can never be overstated. However, over the last few days I have come to discover being on the receiving end of a smile can also be life changing.

I spent the weekend with a few close friends of mine, days filled with fun and laughter. At some point, we wound up near what some would call a less fortunate neighbourhood. A cluster of houses made of iron sheets stood together with a common area in the middle for cooking and cleaning. At first, this was a depressing sight, leaving us wishing that we could make the lives of the residents living there a bit easier. Then we saw the children.

Right next to this little shanty town, there was a big pile of dirt, probably left there by contractors working on the high-rise buildings coming up next door. The most amazing thing was that these children made this dirt pile their playground. The mound of red volcanic soil was to these children a little paradise, providing them and their little pets an area to frolic. For all of twenty minutes, we watched the children play with their pet cats, chickens and even the occasional lamb, flinging the dirt around like it was snow on a warm winters day. The shrieks of pure joy were enough to remind us that if we see the world through the lenses of childlike innocence, wonder and amazement, we can be truly joyful regardless of the circumstances.

Just as we were about to leave, one of the children came up to us and offered us his little cat to play with. I will never forget the smile on that youthful face as my friend played with the cat and the rest of us looked on. There is truly something about a smile that warms the soul.

So I wrote this note to say thank you. Thank you to that little boy who blessed us with his radiant smile, thank you to the young person who smiles at strangers on the street, thank you to the parents who smile at their children and remind them every day that they are treasured and loved, and most importantly, thank you to you my dear reader. Thank you for all the times you smile even though life is tough. Thank you for being an encouragement to others and reminding strangers like me that indeed, life is beautiful.

Success in detail

I’m borrowing this from my pastor, who recently spelt out some of the key areas that define success for a Christian. I hope it encourages you to keep on keeping on as much as it did for me:
S – Sense of direction
Without a vision and knowing where you are going, then success will be an elusive target. Most people do not succeed because they do not know what they really want. As you decide what direction you are taking in life, consider the special passion God has given you – what you love to do, the talents that you have, your personality and the experiences you have had. Looking at all these areas will help you define who you are, where you want to get to and why.
U – Understanding
Success only comes when you have the big picture in mind. By understanding what the end will be, one gains strength to endure the difficulties that come along the way. If one understands that they were created to be a world class musician, then they will endure the endless hours of practice to become a maestro. Understanding will help you to keep moving forward. Don’t give up on your dream!
C – Commitment
Commitment gives rise to consistency and faithfulness. When you are faithful with little, you will receive much. Be committed to doing the best you can with the little you have now, and the big things will find their way to you in time.
C – Compassion
Without love for people, success is empty. Compassion makes you want to do something to make a person’s life better. Often, deeply passionate people who excel in life are driven by the fact that they want to make the world a better place.
E – Enthusiastic faith
Be optimistic. If God is for you, who can be against you? When you attempt great things for God, then you can expect great things from God. When you give, God will give back. All things are possible if you believe. Step out and take the challenge, power from heaven is backing you up!
S – Service to others
When we serve others, we share God’s love, grace, hope and mercy. Some of the most meaningful moments in life are created when they are shared with others. A compassionate person cannot help but serve others in their own little way.
Touching people’s lives adds on fulfilment to success.
S – Staying power
Before every triumph, there are moments where one has to look at themselves and the mirror and say , ‘I will not give up!” Believe in your dream, pursue it with your whole heart and keep going even when times get tough and it seems like the boat is sinking. The storm that comes your way will not destroy you. Lean on the advice of those who have been there before, learn from the mistakes you make, take a break if you must, but do not quit. Move through the tough times, one step at a time, and you will emerge successful!

Facing fear

We all have those days. Those hours in the middle of the night when it feels like we have fallen off the bandwagon and lost our sense of direction. Those moments when it feels like we are so far gone that nothing can bring us back. When that little voice in our head tells us, “It’s over my friend. You will never pass that test; You will never live up to the expectations; You will never make it”.

Sometimes life gets really tough. When situations play out in a way that is the exact opposite of what we expected, we find ourselves asking many questions and doubt starts creeping in. I have found that where doubt is, fear is not very far behind. It often comes naturally to fear the unknown but as christians, we are called to be the pacesetters, living victoriously and attracting the world. A life full of fear robs us of victory and joy, and is not attractive to the world. How then, do we practically face our fears and conquer that little voice planting fear and doubt in our minds?

As we grow from level to level there are always new fears to conquer and new milestones to achieve. To keep growing, we must step out of our comfort zones and conquer our fears. Over the years, I have embraced a three-step approach to dealing with my fears that I like to call it the FEM way: Face it, Embrace it and Move.

  1. Face it

The first step is often the hardest. Facing fear can seem like an impossible task because sometimes our fears are veiled behind other outward manifestations and it takes a bit of digging to connect the two. Let me explain using a few examples – the student who deliberately misses classes and fails to study for the exam may be acting out his fear of not being smart enough to pass the exam and therefore subconsciously chooses not to try anyway. Such a fear can become so heavily masked in the student that all he knows is that he does not like school and would rather do something else with his time. The same applies to the single woman who constantly finds herself dating men who do not value and respect her, yet she knows that she deserves better and cannot understand why she never finds a better man. It could be that she has never acknowledged and faced her fear of being alone.

It goes without saying that different people can do the same thing for different reasons, so one cannot offer blanket solutions and say that the student who does not take school seriously is afraid to fail and the woman in a bad relationship is afraid to be alone. To understand the underlying fear driving your actions, deeper self-analysis is needed. When I find myself afraid of something or doing things I would not normally do, I sit down and ask myself why. It really helps to write the issue down and prayerfully ponder what is going on in your life. The best thing about being a christian is that you do not have to do it alone – we have a helper, the Holy Spirit who will help you understand what you are going through and why. Looking up bible verses related to your fear also sheds light on where the real issue lies.

2. Embrace it

It sounds odd to say that we should embrace fear. A wise man once said that fear is all in your head. I agree. Please understand that there is a world of difference between fear and danger. Danger is real – you could get hurt, you could fail the exam, you could lose your job. There will always be danger and threats in our lives, but that does not mean that we have to live our lives fearing possibilities that might never come to pass. The fact is, the Bible says we should not fear. We have a father who surrounds us with his protection and love, a saviour who calls us his friends and a Holy spirit to guide us as we navigate through life, so whom shall we fear? If our God is for us (and he always is, no matter where you are or what you have done), then who can be against us? No one, so we have nothing to fear.

With that knowledge, it becomes important to come to terms with what we are afraid of. If we do not accept that we are afraid, then we cannot deal with the fear. Sometimes it is as easy as looking yourself in the mirror and saying, ” I am afraid of xxx”.

3. Move

Finally, after facing the fear and embracing it, to complete the process one must move. Sometimes this means moving on from something or moving forward and looking at things differently. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Often we know what we need to do but are too afraid to do it. Take that first little step. Dare to do it anyway. It is the most effective way to conquer that fear. You are more than a conqueror in Jesus Christ, so don’t let fear hold you back anymore.

%d bloggers like this: