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Diary of a thoughtful girl series: Put some ‘respeck’ on it!

89209F78-106C-49F0-8D16-092A2722D61ADo you ever find yourself worked up and frustrated, resenting certain people in your life because of how they treat you?

You find yourself holed in a dark pit of self-pity and loathing, changing your number, cutting off people abruptly and moving cities, homes, and states? All this while you are blaming the whole world for the respect they don’t show you?

Has it ever occurred to you that maybe, you fostered the habit?

That maybe you did not set proper boundaries and now you are wrestling with feelings of anger, guilt, and fear and completely losing who you are in the need to appeal to every whim and need of others? You find yourself asking, ‘how about me?’

Well, how about you start giving yourself that TLC first.

It is true.

I love people, believe me I do. I am the sort of person that will take up anyone, the strays, the happy, and the crazy. I will listen to long sob stories of unfortunate existences, I will party with you because I love a good party and if it makes you happy, I will stay up late on the phone to help you sort your issue, I will go the extra mile whichever way I can because I can and because it brings much fulfilment to do for others.

But

The problem is when it becomes routine and expected of you to always be at the party, always be on the phone till late, always bring the joy to the room, and always lay down my life for others to prosper. I went through the ‘how about me phase.’

Cursed people. Got mad until I started to read about boundaries and why we need it. Ignorance is the most ‘un-blissful’ reality, you short your own potential in life when you don’t know how to live life fully and regaining your self-respect by placing some boundaries is vital!

I found out:

  • It’s okay to say no (and not feel guilty about it), if it infringes on my values and peace of mind.
  • It’s fine to not pick up the phone at all, even all day if I don’t want to text or talk to anyone, you on the other end will be just fine.
  • It is okay to go out and about my business by myself because I need me time and time to reflect on my own life.
  • It is okay for people to fall away from my life because in the business of living, not everyone can be on the same path as you or stay on it.
  • It’s okay to speak my mind, in love (please, don’t go biting people’s heads off simply because you are sick and tired of their mistreatment of you, realize you allowed it in the first place , but now you are putting a stop to it, you made the step, don’t lash out in anger and resentment, find it in you to calmly let them know your boundaries)
  • It’s okay to have values that may not be yours but I will stick by mine whether you like it or not and you shall adjust.
  • A job that does not respect me enough will have to go. (FIRE THE JOB!)
  • It’s okay to cut people off no matter how long they have been in your life, when you finally start to recover your space and boundaries, they will either adjust or leave and that is alright.

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Many times we are afraid that we will lose jobs, friends and people will treat us with disparity if we set boundaries. But in actual sense. you won’t lose anything you want to keep,  you set yourself up to attracting the right energy and people in your circles. There is nothing more precious than your esteem, peace of mind and wellbeing and

anything that defies it should not be there in the first place.

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So where do you need to enforce some boundaries and put some respeck on it?!

 

Thoughtful girl

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Diary of a thoughtful girl series; Creative season

It’s been many weeks since I last wrote and that is quite inexcusable although I do have an excuse as to why.

I have been busy.

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So busy, my thoughts have been fully engaged in gainful living, in stretching the reins of my imagination into a carefully thought out story with characters that leave me spent and schizophrenic, as I deal with their stories, their personalities, and their values. I am swept up in their world of pain and love and tragedy. I am a part of them as they are of me. Like pieces of shattered glass that still display the same image only a little distorted or only just a little of the whole image.

So yes, I have been busy writing a book. I still am. So that soon, my name will be on the lips of book enthusiasts, I shall present myself at a book reading, indulging in the lives of my characters, uninvited and inviting many to peep into the thick pages at my handiwork.

My sleepless nights.

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my research and writer’s block.

I imagine the day, I am compared to Chimamanda or Noviolet Bulawayo or even Jennifer Nansubuga. no not compared, classed with them as an African female writer with pizzazz and captivating storytelling that enchants readers off the planet until page 500- the last page.

That my fans and readers will laugh out loud unceremoniously and burst into heart racking sobs and clutch at their chests, grind their teeth and secretly crawl in bed and curse the villains, pray for the protagonists, love and hate their heroes for their motives and fears, admire them for their courage and walk down memory lane in nostalgia to events and mentioned places, songs and smells that they are familiar with.

That my readers will sit in groups on social media and in cafes, ponder and argue the intent of the characters and conclude in awe, “my, what a complex human story”

that they will say, ” maybe she should have ended it this way, maybe that way. ”

“But why did she leave it that way? ”

“so what happens then?”

“well I like the ending anyway”

So many perspectives, so many views, so many ideas. however the book is done and as they smooth over the glossy cover screaming the title and my name, they will be satisfied or dissatisfied but they will hopefully read it to the last drop, without catching their breath.

that the tale that held me hostage for weeks and months in libraries, online, with creative people and learned people on the subject that pertains to my book, that the tale that kept me awake pouring over paragraphs and timelines in case I missed something  or had a gaping loophole that would kill my story’s credibility, that the tale that kept me away from birthdays and road trips and every occasion I could have attended would finally be conceived with exactness and accuracy, With a taste of class and thoroughness, a dash of autheticity that it would only be a miracle if it falls short of a best seller list.

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So I am not just writing a book. I am laboring with all of me to pour the best of me into pages of life and time, chapters of culture and questions, words illuminating the raw human condition. I am pouring my essence, pieces of life through my eyes strewed to a garland of life into hundreds of pages.

you shall be the judge,

Thoughtful girl.

 

 

 

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Freshly Ground- a review of smell

 I am seated on the front porch, windy hot day, listening to ‘freshly ground’.

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mmmm, Scent.

 The music makes me think of scent.

 Barbecuing steak over a hot charcoal grill on a hot hot urban Saturday afternoon on the top of a beautiful flat-roofed double story house…The delicious scent of half-charred, almost ready marinated flesh, potatoes, and bell peppers mingled with the slight dry breeze that swirls around the barbeque guy; sweaty, strong masculine body odor, not necessarily repulsive…more meaty, manly… sensual.

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And there is light lovers rock wafting teasingly from the amplified player through the wide open doors and windows of the apartment meshed and merged with giggling, loud jesting and off-key singing…

The scene changes but it’s always hot…

 Something about ‘Freshly Ground’ is the image of sultry heat it paints,

And with it blithe, adventurous colors of a sunburned afternoon, straw hats, sandy beaches, bare feet, loose see-through clothing and gaudy sarongs, tough cowhide sandals, flashy beaded bracelets.

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I breathe…

Hot arid air, the temperature is only helped by the wind; dry monsoon winds that swirl and twist the sand…Into your eyes… sunglasses, huge and sundry… and all the while, sweat-dampened sticky bodies, aching for a dip in the cool beckoning sea water… 

And the barbeque guy…

Oh yeah… 

In rudely shredded khaki shorts, bare chest, constantly wiping the sweat off his brow, as his long fork prods into the pieces of meat turning them over, aware of the wanton eyes of the holidaymakers, he can hear their stomachs growl, the juices flow fast as they lick their dry lips. He smiles…

The music plays on… ‘Freshly Ground’

The young merrymakers laugh, pretend to mime…dance clumsily… a young man steals stealthy glances…Sidelong glances at a girl that pretends not to notice. She knows. Her friend already told her he was crunching on her.

I breathe…

Hot arid, sea salt air…

It’s all in the music… 

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Habits Live in Your Free Time – creative work as roommate

For the #stuck creative, repetition is discipline, is mastery, is Key!!

The Stuck Creative

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It seems like it should be within reason to switch some of our daily free time to daily creative work. Our other time is clearly spoken for; work, people, animals, cars, bills, bodily needs, all these things occupy our non-free time.

But free time is not as free as we think of it. Our free time, every bit of it,  is already occupied with the world of our habits.Whatever we do now within our free time is something we selected to do a long time ago and it has been well practiced. It could be a few hours of television watching. For months, years (longer?) we sit and watch television. We stop on particular programming that strikes us. We open up to its content. We absorb it. Probably, this free time, we once declared, is our unwinding time, our hang out time. We worked hard all day and damn it…

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Diary of a Thoughtful girl series: Silencing the voice of reason

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Scenario #1

We sat down to dinner, a sumptuous seafood feast of mussels, shrimp, crab legs, scallops and crawfish with the usual accompaniments of corn slathered in butter, piping hot andouille sausage and warm bread rolls. Just before we could swallow our first or second mouthfuls- amidst chatty appreciation of the goodness of the sea- Piper (not real name) decided to delve into Politics, lavishing extravagant praise on the president that was and the one that could have been and a loud obscene disapproval of the one that is.

My three other friends joined in, all spewing death wishes to the president that is; dispelling rumours that run amok from all media to underground conspiracy theorists that shed doubt on the credibility of the president that was and that that could have been.

then I, after two more bites of my andouille sausage and enough of what seemed like empty-headed sycophantic praise asked a critical question concerning grave accusations hurled at the president that was and that that could have been. In that split second- I saw our friendship tested when I pierced the grumbling air of bias with a simple ‘What if the accusations are true?’

Larry’s face turned a tomato-red, his eyes a deepened icy blue as he shot out, ‘Of course it can’t be true! How can you even say that? Maybe its because you don’t know American Politics!’

The force of his anger threw us into surprised silence but I responded amidst the uncomfortable tension, ‘ Maybe it is because being foreign makes me an objective observer,’

More silence.

And I thought, is it so bad to throw in the benefit of a doubt? do we even know our politicians well enough to emphatically rally behind them? For all I know, a campaign is a facade, ‘Put your best foot forward,’ Like a beauty contest or a job interview (it is quite the job interview) and the fairest wins – whatever ‘fairest’ represents in politics. So again what is so wrong with questioning claims? To question all things is to seek for truth. There, after all, is no smoke without fire.

Scenario #2

It was a wet evening in July 2000, the crowning match of the UEFA  cup underway with the final showdown between two master teams France and Italy. who would take the cup?  The senior 6 boys, sat alongside the senior 5 boys; a privilege seniors were afforded to watch the games every evening in the dark student hall. A majority of the boys rooted for Italy and a subdued few for France. And while they watched that ball get tossed and dribbled and flung from one foot to another; one player to another, one team to another with a tie of 1-1 goal allotted to each team. Tensions were high and everyone watched as extra time was given to break the tie goal. A winner was required.

Then the unexpected happened- France scores that golden goal in the extra time afforded to break the tie to give France a lead and title of the UEFA champions; and the majority Italy supporters gasped and screamed in disbelief- while, simultaneously, a ‘subdued France’ supporter roused in rebellion and jubilation, bottle of a just opened Fanta soda in hand, shook the bottle, allowing the fizzy drink to shoot through his half pried thumb over the bottle rim, a celebratory orange supernova. It gashed and splashed over the group of boys within a radius of it.

the Italian supporters, taken aback by the bravery of not just a french supporter but also a senior 5 boy, a level down from senior 6- pounced on him outraged for spilling soda on them and for siding with an unpopular team. they rained upon him passionate blows and a furious fight between the two supporting sides erupted. A teacher on duty was alerted and he had to come in to diffuse the situation but by then, the poor French-soda- spraying senior 5 boy had a swollen face, spitting blood and begging for his life.

When I heard of it, I thought, was it so bad for the French fan to celebrate, after all the Italian supporters had subdued everyone else with their own heated argument for Italy and why it was a team to reckon with, anyone on the opposite side was a fool, they were not listening to any with a benefit of a doubt explanation, in their minds, Italy ruled and would forever rule. they had quickly subdued everyone with threats and insults and premature celebration of a sure win.

Was it fair that one’s own voice should be suppressed simply because they did not go along but had a preference? So what if we don’t share a view? What if I have questions that beg answers? what if my view is different and what if I am curious as to how and why your soundproof view seems hollow to me and my questions beg for you to convince me? What if we both really don’t know the half of it?

UP until now, there is really no reconciliatory answer for my questions or for the two scenarios of outbursts. However, I learned that- when outnumbered- first eat your seafood meal or drink your fanta , masticate and ruminate on a strategy in case things get sour-because, believe me, you will need the strength!

 

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Thoughtful girl

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REVIEW : Sidamo;Gem in a wall

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It is always a pleasant thing to come across a little hole in the wall, inconspicuous coffee shop- away from the corporate chains- these precious little nooks- are the real deal coffee- Sidamo comes into view as I make my way from F street to H with its looming gigantic tea pot-a rustic artsy symbol- that for me is a welcoming sign that ‘good coffee’ resides here’ and so it did!

I immediately yelp it for reviews from coffee lovers that have sojourned to H street whilst resisting the thought of messaging my ‘coffee-pedia’ friend Robinson Mutiso (because he knows where the best coffee around the United States is!) Yelp undoubtedly gave Sidamo- 5 star rating with one particular visitor stating that the ‘Sidamo Chai Laben’ was everything- she could not believe she had been depriving herself of this ingenious place and why has it taken her so long to return? but she was definitely coming back for another cup of the heavenly Sidamo Chai Laben- and that settled it for me.

I spy two lovers seated by the window, holding hands, the girl has this ‘aww’ expression all over her face, her head slightly tilted, her gaze fixed intently on the man across from her, not too far off for their knees are touching underneath the table. He has that look in his eyes as he speaks, and I can only imagine what sweet nothings he is saying-

“when we marry, I will buy you a house and a dog”

“aww”

That’s cheesy but who knows or maybe it was…

I think I wanna marry you, peaches”

“aww” look again

Her nose is scrunched because her smile is wide- their hands intertwined, the laptop, coffee between them forgotten and me- the unashamed spectator behind the glass- hardly noticed much to my relief

Well , my excuse for staring is because I was looking for the entrance- I really was! I finally find it, on my right, almost in a corner, an old green wooden door in need of fresh paint- but I like it- it lends it an antique aura.

Sidamo is small.Much like the narrow living room of a two-storey townhouse (much like most little nooks in DC) a very familial feel.3F30305E-13F9-47B7-AE53-E21A7D7A4EBA

There are sacks of coffee beans by the door, a mini fridge for soft drinks, four glass looking coffee bean displays by the fridge with different Ethiopian coffee beans- Harrar, Yirgacheffee, Sidamo and decaf. Adjacent to that is a glass display with croissants, cakes, muffins- coffee pastry goodness. Atop the display of pastries sit coffee beans packed in brown bags for sale.

There is a coffee grinder machine in the left corner of the room, right next to the lovebirds; the chairs and tables lined by the walls of the shop are mostly occupied, so I make my way slowly to the coffee bar to make my order whilst trying to figure out where I shall sit.

 

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Kenfe , Sidamo’s owner

The owner, Kenfe, a pleasant elderly gentleman who I notice brews the coffee ordered with deliberate dexterity and something akin to mild absorptive love for the coffee ground to a dark brown powder levelled off in a stainless steel measuring cup, greets me and we strike up a conversation. He is easy to talk to-extends that warm homegrown East African hospitality untainted by corporate practiced customer service. Like visiting your grandfather in his own backyard after years of not coming by for family reunions. He then insists I pull up the stool at the bar and sit.

 

He immediately identifies me as East African too, but not Ugandan- Kenyan. Close. We talk about my order and I let him know, I have never had it, the Chai Laben, but he is convinced I have and labours to explain what it is- a blend of tea with milk cooked in spices and delectable herbs. Spices that consist of ginger, cloves, black pepper and honey. And I am sure I have tasted it many a time- it’s an East African, Arabian way of fixing a cuppa; load it with spices and herbs. I agree to a cup but please skim milk, of which he and the girl next to him, possibly his daughter, frown in disapproval and try to discourage me from skim milk- “it’s better with full cream milk,” I laugh and assure them milk and I have had a most tumultuous affair since I was a child and so far we both have reached a comfortable compromise which is ‘skim.’

That lets me off the hook. Occasionally when its slower and everyone in the café is absorbed in their phone, computer or their companions, Kenfe will engage me in light banter. He also offers to show me the backyard that is a mini garden lush with tall green plants in a canopy, the sun shyly peeking between the overhead spaces and in their midst garden chairs and tables, a most intimate setting for those that prefer a serene hideaway outdoors away from the equally intimate but narrow interior.

My tea takes the perfect time to brew-fifteen minutes and I literally inhale it when it is presented to me, a hot frothy delight with a magical effect that begs to be enjoyed thoroughly. Several sips later, I agree wholly with the Yelp reviewer, why had I been depriving myself of Sidamo, the chai Laben was truly everything!

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Diary of a thoughtful Girl series : Evening Tea

I just had a lapse into sweet reverie of younger days, when ‘ evening tea’ was something to look forward to after a harrowing 8 hours in school; period after period of dealing with different subjects and a medley of teacher’s personalities that left one feeling almost schizophernic what with echoed threats for unfinished work, promising of a beating and actual beatings, the dreaded ‘see me’s ‘, scribbled in that blood red bold ink, sniggering at hapless jokes, roaring unbridled laughter, lunch breaks with boring lunch food often consisting of boiled beans and posho and tea breaks of porridge or watered down milk tea, the ever consistent company of classmates with dizzying temperaments, naughtiness, and all round being a child who dreamed impatiently every day whilst wishing furtively of growing up and being independent of school or reliving it’s mundane script Monday to Friday – save for its glorious salvation – ‘evening tea’.

4:30 pm came around with the gnawing ache of hunger and it was such sweet sweet music to the tummy to get home to a table laid with two huge silver flasks ; one with hot hot milk, another with water cooked in tea leaves and spice, strained hot and smooth, a fresh warm loaf of bread ;soft ( my father always got them freshly baked from the bakery) sliced, butter and sometimes jam sitting in two separate containers- the occasional freshly squeezed cold orange and passion fruit juice and g-nuts in other containers sometimes queen cakes or other pastries. The dining table would be strewn with multicoloured plastic cups (we could not be trusted with the china), saucers, spoons and knives. The harsh day forgotten for thirty minutes or so, we dug in wholeheartedly; chomping on three or four slices of addictive warm bread slathered with butter and jam, stopping only when the stomach screamed ‘enough!

Satiated and refuelled, we dragged our behinds to the ‘after school’ corner and slew the dragon called homework with gusto. As I sit here in a little artistic coffee shop, a little nook, a creative’s haven, I think – can we do this again? Drop the vacillating work baggage at 5 pm and go gorge on some high tea, complete with spiced tea, bread so soft you eat more than your diet can handle- to refuel for the next psychotic work day?

 

 

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Thoughtful Girl