Wrapping up July

We are in the final week of this month and I look forward to more opportunities to grow in my thinking, learning and to finally commit to working out every morning- at least for 30 days.

July’s come with surprises for me; I bought more books this month than any other month of the year thus far. I traveled to Nairobi to spend some time with my absolute favorite humans. I had fun shopping for kiondos, bookmarks and brass earrings. I also came to appreciate freedom of movement when I got to stay out past 7pm without panicking that some police officer would hound me or clobber me for staying out past curfew time.

The other surprise was my patience when traveling back to Mbita and our bus had a flat tyre that took two hours to fix and I had to get to the house at 8:42pm which is way past the curfew time here.

So, I collected some snippets of things that I got, experienced and also look forward to courtesy of this month:

Stationery: I love buying pencils by the dozens and this month, I got a number of packs which I shared with some of my friends and neighbors while keeping some to myself.

stationery.

I also enjoyed watching some awesome Korean Dramas on Netflix and let’s just say that of these three, I loved Healer and K2 the most!

I also came across a quote on the Instagram profile page of: BusinessMindset101 which had me stunned and I couldn’t help but jot it down:

“Jealousy can come in the form of jokes. Pay attention.”

Books: What would this month be without not one but two major bookhaul deliveries? Here are 4 titles I am reading next.

And when it comes to music, I would say that some of the songs that I have enjoyed listening to this month include:

I am looking forward to spending more time eating healthy, staying fit and writing more in August.

Have an awesome week ahead!

July: Updates on life, COVID-19, travel and stuff

It’s Wednesday and I am still wrapped up in a warm duvet as I type this on my phone. It’s my way of checking in with the blogging universe while doing everything I can to stay warm here in Nairobi.

I’ve been here for 3 days and I have consumed more coffee, worn more socks and sweaters than I could ever comprehend at such a time. It’s got me fully aware of how much I am sunny through and through and I know I will enjoy some heat when I travel back to Mbita soon.

Every time I come to Nairobi I love visiting places that call unto me like book shops and jewellery shops mostly to buy earrings and accessories that I wouldn’t get at a fair price either in Kisumu or Homabay. So this time around I got notebooks and pens from Miniso, body splash from a store in town and bookmarks from Hilton Arcade.

There’s something about freedom of movement that has me appreciating life pre-covid. We could breathe freely without masks, walk in and out of places without fear of contracting such a deadly virus and travel to places unhinged. Now, coming from a town where the curfew is at 7pm to a city where it’s 10pm, it’s given me more time to catch up with family while still adhering to social distancing rules and regulations and that is something I found so precious in such a long time. I truly hope that we would overcome this pandemic, build upon our health system and come August next year elect more leaders who are accountable to us and responsible in fulfilling their duties.

On writing: I have been writing and it’s good to have that going so I truly hope it’ll work out and I have to push the release date given how many rewrites I am engaging in.

All in all,it’s been a good week thus far and I hope for the very best going forward. Have an awesome week wherever you are.

6 Lessons I keep Learning as a Writer

I am a Writer.

It has taken me twelve years to say that out loud without cringing or wanting to disappear. I take on a different persona online and maybe that’s why it was easier for me to add “writer” or “author” to my profiles on social media but not easily utter the word when in conversation with someone face to face. However, the good thing about life is that lessons assail you from every direction and if you happen to procrastinate, like me, then these lessons sometimes come with a nudge from gravity and late nights.

Someone recently asked me, “what can I do to be a better Writer?” and I nearly choked, because it’s a struggle we face, the desire to be better and to be acknowledged for being good, better, the best and so on. So, thinking back on everything I have been doing over the years, I keep learning that to improve as a Writer, there are six things I keep going back to:

  1. Write. Writers write, so whatever day you are having, you have to write something- a sentence or two, just make sure that you write.
  2. Read and not just your favorite writers, read widely and vastly. Magazines, journals, memos, fiction- chap books, you soon find that words are like taste or touch, they linger longer than you expected when they resonate with you.
  3. Observe. My Mom says that writers are travelers. It is true, for you to create a character or setting, your observation skills would come in handy. So, take time and truly listen to others as they talk, observe people in the street (without being too creepy), or at a restaurant or even your favorite actors onscreen- watch how they talk, laugh and what they do- do they tap someone, laugh while covering their mouths and so on.
  4. Challenge yourself. It’s not enough to write just a sentence a day, how about trying to write a novel in a month, or a poem, or writing in some genre outside your comfort zone. It does not have to be perfect, however, it is your way to seeing how far you can go and what that feels like.
  5. Study your craft. Well, this is one thing I struggle a lot with because I may love creative writing classes, or workshops but just attending them or following through on assignments is tough for me. What I find encouraging is that I am always learning something new from every lesson, or speaker and that in itself is way better than the assignments.
  6. Finish. Look, every Writer has numerous story ideas that never make it to published book, however, if you start out a story, try your best to tie up loose ends, to finish it just because there is something satisfying about completions that mean you can look back and gauge your performance.

What’s great is that these are insights I gained from my experience and they are not the only insights, if you think that’s just talk try looking up “Advice for Writers” on Google and you’ll know what your ancestors started saying long before you even picked up a pen.

I love that I get to write and can share my writing with others and hope I’ll be vastly read. Have a great weekend ahead!

Yesterday

I cannot hear your voice,

Not in my memory.

I see your face when tears adorn my face,

And it hurts because I cannot remember why I forget you.

I cannot recall what it was that tore us apart,

You grace the heavens, I tell myself this because to imagine you anywhere but there is beyond my soul.

Today I saw you Dad,

I was at work talking to a colleague and there you were…across the fence, in the man talking to his daughter,

reaching out to hold her hand while smiling.

I know it was you because I couldn’t stop the tears,

I cannot hear your voice, heaven knows I have tried to hear it- recall it- feel it- sound it…everything.

The heavens call you their own,

Yesterday was not as tough as today…

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Wallet Activism by Tanja Hester

“An Activist’s work is to keep chipping away at a big problem over time, not giving up when things are hard and not getting discouraged when change comes incrementally rather than in big bursts.”

Have you ever thought of the impact your financial decisions have on the environment, economy or simply put every bit of the value chain that it took to get something into your possession?

I will admit that I cannot help but think often, but following through on my actions or changing my habits to match my talk is something I haven’t done. The furthest I have thought about a financial decision is evaluating the true cost of what it means to have a refrigerator- because since getting it, I spend more on my electricity bill than I did before I had it.

In this book, Tanja explores where our money goes, what we spend on stuff- in small and large scale and even something as important as the food we buy, clothes we wear, houses we live in, electronics and so on. I love how detailed her research in, because not only is it convincing, it is challenging- a call to action, to review our spending and investing habits.

She shares 4 fundamental questions to ask yourself to help you make better decisions as a wallet activist and these are: for whom? can everyone do this? is it too cheap? and finally What am I funding? She explores various issues in each chapter geared toward better understanding the impacts of our financial decisions and especially how companies do their very best to manipulate consumers.

Rating: 4 stars

This is a good book not just to read, but to discuss with friends and colleagues- to see oneself in the larger scheme of our capitalistic world. Thanks Netgalley for the eARC.

About the Author

Tanja is the author of Wallet Activism: How to Use Every Dollar You Spend, Earn, and Save as a Force for Change (coming November 2021) and Work Optional: Retire Early the Non-Penny Pinching Way. She’s a former political consultant and journalist turned activist and early retiree. Visit her website: https://tanjahester.com/

Lessons I am learning about writing non-fiction

In the beginning of this year, I went through some writing goals I had made in 2018 and one of them included writing outside of my comfort zone. I love fiction and more so historical fiction and after writing The Currents Series and Zuri: The Chronicler of Enzi, I have been thinking of working on a book that delves into the situation of primary education in Kenya and this prompted me to start doing some research towards this in March this year.

Now, it’s my first time writing non-fiction and I am learning that above all, I cannot wing it or just write as much as I want without fact-checking!

I am also learning that when you are writing about a subject that you truly care about, there are some factors that you have to watch out for like:

  1. Your desire to want the whole world to know about it so much that you find yourself at a loss of where to start or what exactly to say and when.
  2. How attached you are to the subject that you lose objectivity. In my case as I was doing research, I found myself defending the teachers more and not truly understanding the whole system, how it works and why. So, every article or book I would read, I found myself defending only the teachers and I am still struggling with this.
  3. The chances that you may relive your trauma. On this point, I learned it by reading an article that Kurt Vonnegut has written some time back, when he shared that some stories he told were so close to an experience he lived that he struggled with objectivity. He advises to write it out, spit it out for what it is- and then dealing with everything after that, for once it is written it is out there.

This project is proving to be more challenging and rewarding as I learn along the way too and I can’t help but want to see it through to publication. I also came across some insightful tips on Creative Penn, and Masterclass guide to writing non-fiction that I read and found quite encouraging. So, here’s to fulfilling one of my writing goals!

Updates on the Writing life, June scares and July expectations

I choose to be happy on this day. It’s a sunny Sunday with highs of 26 degrees Celcius. I woke up today at 6:34AM to do laundry and finish braiding my hair and since then, I have been listening to songs on my playlist and drinking cup after cup of coffee. I am officially on my fourth cup.

We are 4 days into July and June was a scary month for me, for I realized how weak my body could be and the mere mention of being on supplements to keep me safe scared me. However, I did manage to get in more sleep and read more books but write absolutely nothing when it comes to my WIP. What I excelled at was watching Korean Dramas on Netflix late into the night and working on my work reports.

I would absolutely recommend the following dramas: Warm & Cozy, Man to Man, Healer, I am not a Robot and Tomorrow with You.

From March I have been buying more books to read and my June and July book hauls demand attention and I look forward to reading them in the coming months.

I am also looking forward to starting a professional certificate course to further improve my skills and knowledge in my field. It feels great getting back to some kind of structure and I can’t wait to see this through.

On future projects: The Miles Morland Foundation Writing Scholarship call for applications have been released and I’ll do what I always do, submit my application and keep my fingers crossed. I have been working closely with my Mentor/Professor who always critiques my writing to see to the release of the next book “A Hundred Little Things” in the first week of August.

My expectations for this month are:

  1. To improve on how I take good care of my body, from eating healthy ( more food rich in iron and calcium)
  2. To think positively of myself and what I do.
  3. To wrap up most of my work projects.
  4. Visit family and friends
  5. Have a weekend road trip- just to see another town, experience somewhere other than where I am right now.
  6. To watch some more K-Drama. My absolute favorite being Nevertheless– because in a way, Na-bi reminds me of a water-sign. She’s been hurt but she is still hoping for love, and with Park Jae-eon, she knows he’ll disappoint her but she is willing to give it a shot.

Monday

I want to have coffee with you on a Monday morning,

Let’s sit down at the break of dawn and talk,

It’s been a while,

I want to see the dimple in your left cheek when you smile.

I want to watch you frown when you talk,

Or how you shake your left leg,

Ten minutes into a conversation…

It’s been a while.

I want to have coffee with you on a Monday morning,

Just like we used to.

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