Updates on the writing, reading, Covid-19 and everything in between

It’s the last week of August and Covid-19 containment measures have been in effect in Kenya for 524 days. We have had lockdowns, curfews, issues and we are still experiencing the upheavals and grief.

A few minutes past midday on a sunny Sunday and I am on my second cup of coffee listening to Usher’s song, Trading Places, thinking of how best to share what’s been going on in my life in the past two weeks or so.

I got to travel to Nairobi twice, sometime in Mid July and on August 13th and discovered art and food at The Nairobi Street Kitchen eatery in Westlands.

On Writing: If there is something I have been loving this month, it’s writing and rewriting scenes of a book that I thought I would not publish but something about going back to a story you let gather dust has me loving the characters and working on completing their story.

On Reading: I have been reading more books this month. Perhaps the greatest shock to me was how brief Annie Proulx, Brokeback Mountain is, 55 pages! I nearly had a heart attack just wondering how a 2hour movie could be born of 55 pages! Other books I’ve read this August are:

I am currently reading: The Illuminator by Brenda Rickmann.

Aside from enjoying reading and writing, something that I have been deeply committed to is watching Korean Dramas on Netflix and this August, there have been awesome shows that kept me glued to my phone late into the nights and let’s just say that once you start watching a K-drama there’s no stopping until you get to that finale! So, here are some shows that I absolutely loved this month:

There are rising concerns about the spread of the Delta Variant and for someone like me who has to work in communities visiting public schools, I find myself always traveling with hand sanitizer and masks, so much so that now when I get home, I shed off my clothes and take a bath before doing anything- somehow, I find it interesting how people in the rural areas respond to Corona, one old woman told me that ‘death is the one thing all of us experience, if we live in fear, always looking over our shoulder, we may stumble and fall to our death because we look back and not forward.’ Schools will be taking a break for 3 days from this coming Thursday and I look forward to traveling home, just to have tea and evening walks with my Mom, maybe she’ll weigh in on the current book I am writing.

Have an awesome week ahead!

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.

Looking for excuses, finding them and missing out on life.

I am in one of my moods, or as my sister says “in my feelings,” because I have been on the road non-stop for a week.

I love my sleep and can recharge for hours like a cat. So, this past week had me travel to Nairobi, then Kisumu and now I am back in Mbita because my best friend was getting married and I had the honor of witnessing her wedding as a bridesmaid. It was more of a firsts for me because it was the first time I had on: block heels (3.5 inches) for the whole day, had my eyebrows trimmed, and wore make up!

Days have gone by so fast, and I had been looking forward to being selected as a 2021 IREX Community Solutions Program Participant and for a program that’s very competitive, I felt ready this year, made it past the first round and got my regret letter after the second round of interviews. I was crushed. And what I learned about that moment, reading that email is that my mind completely played out various scenarios for me: I play a role in something I am passionate about and with a great team I get to see public primary schools improve their structures, I see it in the eyes of the children in rural communities when we are constructing classrooms how eager they are to step into new, permanent and well ventilated classes. So, not getting into the program this round, does not mean that I stop working.

On writing: I have been writing a new book and in my head it is complete and perfect, but on paper, let’s just say that I need to go stationery shopping and get everything going right. I have perfected giving excuses every time I want to write and this has resulted in downloading more DJ mixes, drinking more coffee and reading books🤦🏾‍♀️, help!

On reading: This year has been the best for I have bought more books and this has also seen me not read as many titles from Netgalley, and I hope to catch up on the reading soon. I have also read more titles from Pulitzer Prize winners in the fiction category.

I am currently reading Should You Leave by Peter. D. Kramer and he’s writing from the Psychotherapist point on view on advice, when it comes to the age-old question in a relationship, “should I stay or leave?” Coming from a Psychology background and training, reading this is like learning and rediscovering my love for therapy and what it means to help someone work through the dilemmas they have.

I have been making excuses on working out and writing and now I am reaping what I’d sowed and it’s started with a guilty conscience and every time I see the schedule I stuck on my wall, I cringe. Part of me is acting like it’s not bothered and the other one is losing it’s marbles, and the wisest of them is slowly coming to an understanding that I am focusing on the output but not the input and could try and see the growth or set tasks that could lead to the goals I want to achieve, now if only I knew how!

Have a great week, I’m still working until Wednesday when all schools are supposed to be closed here in Kenya.

Goodbye September and Hello October!

It’s the last day of September and I often feel a certain kind of warmth when a month ends mid-week because I am guaranteed a weekend in the first week of the new month! Well, that was before COVID-19 struck and decided to shake us up!

So, on Monday our President decided that well, the curfew is still on for 60-days and stretched the time to 11pm- 4am. He also granted permission for bars to open and my absolute relief was that schools would still be shut until we are better placed to contain the virus. What sucks about this is that the funding they received from the World Bank and other donors goes into their stomachs and not towards the health facilities!

On books: I was going through my Goodreads “READ” page and discovered I have read and reviewed 165 books so far and some of the best titles I got to read were in June (34 books in total). This month, I read more paperback copies and here are some of the titles that kept me company:

I am currently reading “EndGame by Derrick Jensen” and enjoying drinking lots of tea as well…

On writing: I am taking part in the 10k-Novel Writing Challenge that would mean writing 1000 words every day for the first 10-days of October.

I have been watching Never Have I Ever as well and in a weird way, I am now #TeamPaxton because at least he’s single and his sister called him out on how awful he treated Devi, whilst Ben is cute and considers Devi equal and brilliant- he’s still got a girlfriend, an athletic one as well, so hey…that means he’s got a decision to make!

My September song is definitely: Be Praised by Aaron Moses & Naomi Raine off Maverick City’s Vol 3, part 2 album

And, the greatest thing I have done this month is keep up with my laundry! It’s been refreshing knowing that I don’t have any dirty clothes waiting for me to clean them up and fold them!

In the previous update on life and staying at home post, I said I was struggling with consistently working out and this past three days have been a good run for me, I get to do some squats, push-ups, mountain climbers and 20-second planks in the morning and evening and I feel pretty good about it.

I am looking forward to October and we’ve got 93 days left until 31st December 2020, so live as best as you can, love as hard as you can and be kind- the world needs gentleness.

Weekend plans and everything in between

Hello weekend! Is that you? I’m looking forward to staying indoors, drinking tea and reading books- yes, I just bought 12 new books making my tally come to 18 unread books and now they are staring at me like I am doing them an injustice by not picking them up.

I have been on a roll, watching series like I am paid to do so. Let’s just say that so far, I watched: Summertime, Never Have I Ever and Love, Victor! I’m a sucker for romance and drama, so far let me just state that I can’t wait for the second seasons of these shows and if I am still as interested as I am now 🙂 I’ll probably catch up!

On work: I’d say my week has been eventful. I am happy that we are wrapping up most of the projects and this means completed classrooms and happy schools and their communities.

2-classroom block constructed at Kitare Primary, Suba North.

On writing: October is fast approaching and a friend recommended that I join the 10k Novel-writing challenge and when I read the invite I nearly fell off my seat “10 days. 10,000 words. Are you ready?”

I love a challenge just as much as I am freaked out by it because I’ll be on the road pretty much from the 7th to 12th October and so getting to see this through scares me so much that I’ll attempt it! So, how about it? If you are looking to get some writing done, work on that schedule and pace that you so desire, how about joining the 10K Novel writing challenge? SIGN UP!

On studies: I’ve been taking online lessons, doing my best to participate in the New Heights Fellowship Program and so far, I am learning that I can always do my best, pursue and serve excellence in everything I do and I am also challenged to build more leaders in the communities I am working in.

On publishing and book sales: Look, I’ve been on the receiving end this past week especially regarding Zuri: The Chronicler of Enzi! Phew! If you got the book and read it, is it truly that deep and difficult to read? I need to know…

I took time to set up the publication of “IN THE QUIET” and this is because I have been exploring digital publishing in Kenya and I enlisted the help of a Tech-Expert I know and absolutely admire to help me with this and as they’ve been working on this, I have been editing and revising the book which I hope to share with you at some point this year. I just want it to be the very best version I could share with the world.

I am looking forward to being more courteous and keeping my word in all that I do. Have a lovely weekend wherever you are and I am sending you love and light and a ton of positive vibes.

Updates on Life, Staying-Not fully staying at home, reading and writing

182 days since we got the #stayathome verdict from the Kenyan government. How are you holding up wherever you are? What have you learned in 2020 thus far?

One thing is certain: we have 108 days to the end of this year and I for one, find myself more aware, present and grateful for every moment I experience.

I have been reading more books because I joined this awesome whatsapp book, admnistered by Prime Book Hubs and simply put- they post books for sale and you get to reserve a copy, pay for it and they ship it to you. So, I’ve been buying books and my first September haul includes a book loaned to me by my sister which I just finished reading.

I absolutely devoured Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan and if you are into books that are set in bookstores with some hidden secrets or puzzles, you’ll love how technology meets print and ingenuity in this book.

I am currently reading Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani.

On writing: Let’s just say that I need to travel a bit, change the environment I’ve been in- read more, or just kickstart my brain into actively writing this next book. I’m taking a leap going into non-fiction and I am learning that it’s not that easy to string words along. Research takes time and I am forever at the phase of “would you tell me that again?” and it’s driving me insane. I need some patience juice! No sugar please, just the patience juice.

And, how do you know you’ve got your writing mojo?

For me, this involves shopping for stationery and nothing speaks to me more like pencils in the dozens! So, I decided to put everything I’ve got working for me and share a picture, just to prove that I am not losing it, or rather, that I should open up a stationery shop…

Whereas the Ministry of Health provides us with COVID-19 statistics daily, I find myself inclined to document and journal what I’ve done in a day, and this is what I call, taking stock of the things that I may have overlooked that made my day.

  1. I decided to cut down on processed sugar and this is my third day without it.
  2. I’ve been changing my sleep cycle; now I go to bed by 10pm and get up by 6am. I am working towards going to bed by 10pm and waking up at 5am.
  3. Pitching articles to various editors is something I hoped to do this year and since last month, I’ve sent out 2, hoping to send some more and explore long-form article writing as well.
  4. My Mom is a huge advocate for Education and it gives because she taught for 30 years. Her challenge to me this year was not to give up on fellowships and scholarships because every year I send out at least an application for a fellowship and 2 Masters scholarships- and I get turned down. I got so close last year and it tore me apart- and she told me, not to give up, if I could come in fifth, then maybe I’d get it.
  5. Fitness is not easy. I can write everyday, because I worked on getting this done, but working out has been a challenge that means installing and uninstalling fitness apps- working out two consecutive days then quitting, so I’ll stick to walking. It may do me some good.
  6. I finally gave my visual threshold a chance- and watched two series: The Witcher and Cursed...and can I just say that I am looking forward to the next seasons? Who would have thought that grunting could say so much- because Geralt of Rivia, in The Witcher grunts in response to almost everything!
  7. Comedy! Yes, I’ve always loved Trevor Noah and this month, I discovered K-Von Comedy.

I am looking forward to reading more books, a bit of travel for work because we’re focusing on WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) projects this round-and most of the schools I’ve visited are in dire need to latrines, hand-washing stations, access to clean treated water and most of all- in need of some infrastructure development.

Have a wonderful week wherever you are.

Updates on Social Distancing, work, life and everything in between

Friday’s here and I for one would love to sit down by the lake shore and take in the breeze. However that’s not going to happen today, it may tomorrow, but today, I have some work to do and more cups of coffee to consume.

In Kenya, it’s been 100 days plus more since the first COVID-19 case was reported and what’s followed has been the never ending updates from the Ministry of Health that often starts with ‘fellow Kenyans’ and involves the three aspects of their reporting: numbers tested, positive cases, deaths and sometimes…if we are lucky enough we hear the number of those who have recovered.

I resumed my duties at work- and actively started on field duties this first week of June and it’s beautiful to see what’s coming to be. In one of the schools, the foundation of 2 new classrooms has been laid and I cannot wait to see how it’ll turn out in the next month.

100_9577

On writing: I published Zuri: The Chronicler of Enzi on both Kindle and printed out paperback copies for sale here in Kenya. So far, it’s been a thrill getting feedback on this book.

I am currently working on the next title: In The Quiet and it should be out next month, fingers crossed!

On physical distancing: Let’s say I was the Queen of Space long before Corona took over, and now I enjoy sitting in my house and listening to music- and there’s something beautiful about Deejay Mixes that mean I can listen for hours on end.

Books I am looking forward to reading this weekend and next week:

 

I am looking forward to the weekend and if there is one thing I have come to learn during this re-evaluation time is that indeed the little things count. Who knew something as simple as washing hands or keeping clean would be one of the measures we’d have to adhere to in order to keep a disease at bay?

Now more than ever, I am also learning to take good care of my mental health because this mind of mine could ideally lead me into some deep trenches that I would barely come out of. When it’s necessary, I spend hours out taking a stroll along the lake or even listening to music and steering clear of social media.

What scares me and also challenges me is the Ministry of Education’s call that when schools resume in September and the recommendation that each class hold 15-20 students- we’ll have another crisis. As it is infrastructure in public schools is lacking- and a class holds up to 75-100 students. Like most Kenyans, I find myself questioning how prepared my government is when it comes to handling a resurgence of this virus when schools resume.

I look forward to reading this weekend and sleeping in- or maybe taking a stroll along the lake later on in the evening.

Stay safe wherever you are and above all…I hope you stay sane.

Have a great weekend.

February going into March

I am ready for March! It’s my birthday month and I am here for it simply because I hope I can catch a break from being in my feelings and out in the field.

In line with this, I thought I’d share some of the insights and experiences I gained in February. When it comes to reading, some of the titles I enjoyed reading this month are:

Some of the articles I’ve enjoyed reading include:

  • The Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance: I was particularly drawn to their report on “Agendas 2063 & 2030: Is Africa on Track?” because I work closely with public primary schools in improving infrastructure with the end goal of seeing to increased attendance of pupils in schools while improving the quality of education. I was sad and not surprised that the quality of education has since 2014 reduced in Africa.

I am also in love with Tarot readings and this new obsession/fascination has had me closely following three wonderful humans:

On writing: I reached out to the publisher who saw to the production of copies of SIFUNA, to have my books ( Fire, Water, Wind & Earth) printed for the readers here in Kenya and we are still working around the costs and number of copies.

I know it’d be a great read this April.

The progress on my latest work, “Zuri: The Chronicler of Enzi” is taking longer than I’d hoped and this is my fault because I killed my main character and the villain and now I don’t know what to do with the story. I have not written anything for two weeks.

My favorite song in the month of February:

Life lessons learned in February:

  1. Rest, eat well and most of all, rest…you can’t get anything done when you are worn out.
  2. Do not take things personally…if you do, you’ll be bogged down by the wrong things everyone has done against you and that is a heavy burden to bear.

Books I’m looking forward to reading into the first week of March:

So, that’s it for now, I truly hope I can clear my mind, get some much needed rest and focus on writing and making the much needed updates to my work in progress.

Have a lovely weekend,

Stay safe. Live. Love. Laugh and Call the people you love 🙂

Monthly Wrap Up- January 2020

Hello February!

I loved January…and where it seems like it felt like a century for everyone, it rather breezed by me and now that I think about it, it was simply because I was doing lots of planning, meeting various school communities and prepping for February.

So, now I’m dreading February because everything I had been planning in January has to be actualized in this first week and precisely between the 4th and 7th!

So, looking back at the events of January, some of the things that stand out for me on:

Reading:

I got and read 8 books in January. These are the 5 titles that got me thinking afresh, so, if you’re into poetry, then Break Your Glass Slippers by Amanda Lovelace is a must-read for that 21st Century spin on Cinderella and self worth!

On Writing:

I struggled with the point of view of my work in progress. Torn between writing in the 1st and 3rd points of views had me re-writing the whole manuscript and if you’ve been following this blog closely- you may have read two chapters of it. [Zuri: The Chronicler of Enzi]

One of my writing goals for 2020 was to join a writing community and also engage with many more writers and so far, I’m learning a lot more through the #WritingCommunity on Twitter…like how to create an animated book cover…so, I tried this:

Read Sifuna...

To celebrate the start of February and get me focused on writing more, I bought some stationery…let’s just say 2 sets of a dozen pencils each, 3 sharpeners, 1 eraser and 2 cute stick notes.

On the blog:

I love how some of the content I post here just comes to mind…and some of my favorites to create and share were:

On Music

I listened to a lot of music this past month because of how late into the night I had to work on most of my projects. So, in no apparent order, I’ll just share some that I kinda loved…or had on replay

[From top left- clockwise: Awake by Hillsong, Fine Line by Harry Styles, Songs for You by Tinashe, Sweet Insomnia by Gallant, Always in Between by Jess Glynne, 8 Letters by Why Don’t We]

It feels like there’s a lot more for me to do this month and I cannot help but feel like it’s going to be great, and I am opening up to all the endless opportunities coming my way this month.

How’s your February looking?

I feel like this is my get up, get moving and strike that off your to-do-list month! So, here’s my quote for this month with regards to work:

BOOK QUOTE

 

Staying on Track: What happens when your plans go South

It’s  nine days to the end of January and I am already dreading February!

I have loved this month because I’ve seen the projects we envisioned late last year come to fruition. New permanent classrooms and smiles on kids faces because they get to enjoy studying in well ventilated, spacious and solid classes!

I intended to write more so I could have the final draft of my next book done by February but that won’t be happening. I think I killed the villain, and in her place another one sprouted and I don’t know what to do with her! So, this turn of events has thrown me off balance- and being a planner, I am frustrated to the point of not being able to align my thoughts to writing anything else.

What do you do when things go south?

I have had tea, taken a walk along the Lake, had some fresh mango juice, taken a nap, done some push ups (awful ones!), listened to my playlist on shuffle, set aside the draft…all these within a week and I still can’t get myself to calm down and get back to writing!

One of the greatest highlights of my day has been reading “Break your glass slippers” by Amanda Lovelace

 

My favorite lines…

“create a safe space

for yourself to go to when

it feels like the whole world

has turned against you.”

 

 

I am struggling to stay on track, trying my very best to follow this through and maybe going with the flow would help see to the completion of this draft, maybe not.

I guess I’ll not know unless I try…

Have an awesome week!