Not just the good…

So I couldn’t blog this June because I was overtaken by #30daysofjune on Instagram. Interesting place I must say. I am not too sure though that I want to explore more apps of social media. Too addictive. Not a bad thing if it makes you money or helps you reach out / in.

I still don’t plan to blog in July because I am not done with school. As soon as it is done I will be here. I have to be here. But somehow the emotion – the writing emotion – gets its way and words are all over the place. My phone, my diary, my fridge, my computer. The head refuses to hold them. “Get us out! Get us out!” They keep saying. So I have to walk around with a power bank because it’s easier to dispel my thoughts while charged.

Coach Ingenious threw some writing idea at me. I am so excited about it. I literally have to block it from interfering with my daily thinking. I am learning, however, to accept that it is okay to go to bed at 1.30am because such literary moments must be expunged, exorcised, maybe expressed is a less mortifying word.

But my greatest learning is that God can use anything – writing in my case – and no I am not amazing. That will take me finishing my paper and on that day (read published and available on Amazon *dreaming is valid*), I shall distinguishly accord myself the title of writer because churning accounting manenos isn’t a joke. That paper will open doors because I refuse to close the door at 100 pages. But yes in this dilettante-ness, God is creating me a message. The stillness, the betterness, the eagerness is all coming… O my soul it is well! 

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I will allow space for all the feelings my heart holds. I will not cower or hide from myself. It’s okay to feel the ugly messy things. It’s okay to feel the burning brilliance of beauty. It’s okay to feel the soft winds of happiness and the quiet bursts of loneliness. It’s okay to feel it all. It’s okay to be myself, all of myself, not just the good ~ Unknown

Thank you June! 

 

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Try Blogging…

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Today’s post officially marks my 50th entry. It’s been a fun journey of learning how to write, figuring how to write, simply writing. And sometimes when I get the block, I choose to read or watch stuff – mostly watch. So the other day I stumbled across a podcast by Michael Hyatt giving 10 reasons why every leader needs a blog. Not that this blog provides leadership but I really loved Hyatt’s viewpoints. And so in this post, I use his thoughts to reflect on my blogging journey:

  1. Blogging improves communication skills – I definitely am not where I was a couple of months ago. Putting out no less than 500 words a week – as Hyatt puts it – has forced me to distill my thinking and communicate with precision or so I hope 🙂
  2.  Blogging creates a repository for best thinking – I sometimes meet people who are confused about my car, people who ask questions about my neighbours or simply investigate into my love for telenovellas. The last telenovella I wholeheartedly watched was Esmeralda and AMINI is not about me 🙂 but an assignment that was to be submitted several months back for a creative writing class I took. Blogging encouraged me to complete it and the teacher to read it 🙂
  3. Blogging provides thought leadership to your industry – I had to recheck the definition of thought leadership – one whose views on a subject are taken to be authoritative and influential. Let me not even pressure myself 🙂 I am here for leisure!
  4. Blogging raises your organization’s visibility – Lets just say I am glad to have a place to share my heart sorry art 🙂
  5. Blogging shares your organization’s vision – Hyatt’s podcast made me really think about where I am going with this blog. When I started it I just knew I wanted to write. I thought it was easy to write until I put down 3 posts and ran out of ideas, energy and most importantly patience. For now I am determined to grow in the skill…
  6. Blogging networks with people who can help you – This blog landed me an invitation to my very first writing class and more recently BAKE awards. Bloggers Association of Kenya Awards that is. But most precious was when my cousin sent me a kindle. A KINDLE! Because he thought I deserved it. I am still over the moon ❤
  7. Blogging builds trust with prospective customers – Hyatt’s podcast details how being professional, practical and personal helped Thomas Nelson Publishers, where he is CEO, gain more revenues. One day, one day…
  8. Blogging builds authority in your niche – see point 3…
  9. Blogging gathers feedback from your constituents – The best feedback yet was getting a message from a friend that went like this “…totally loved your Amini 11 post. Just had to tell you…” That remark will last a lifetime. ❤
  10. Blogging mentors the next generation of leaders – I am subscribed to / read a couple of blogs and they for sure challenge me to better writing, to better thinking, to better betterness!

Michael Hyatt has great leadership insights and I have been waiting desperately for his next upload. For this particular one, he concludes by saying TRY BLOGGING

14 AMINI: Phena…

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2.30 p.m. found six of us seated in the Chairman’s living room. I wore a yellow dirac. Yellow because fashion psychologists say it helps diffuse tense interactions. I also hoped that Mama Clevens, who had always met me late in the evenings, would see me in better material. Material she wouldn’t mind wrapped around her Emmanuel. Wife material. Mama Frosa, seated by me, chatted with other ladies of the Council who occasionally glanced at the ‘bad’ girl. Kayamba and the Professor went on and on about the doctors strike that had headlined news for 5 days running. “It is very wrong…” they lamented. I simply cast my gaze on the ‘No weapons fashioned against me shall prosper’ plaque that rested peacefully on the fading blue walls.

Mama Clevens walked in a few minutes past 3. “I am so sorry for coming this late. You know how these matatus keep kupandisha na kushikisha. One day my Clevens will buy me a car Oh.” “Ehe now…” The other ladies applauded. Naija movies had not only changed the intonation in their speech but every mama now wanted to dress like Patience Ozokwor and there was even a Mama G’s kitenge stall that provided the very service.

So what do you have to say for yourself young girl?” Kayamba inquired after bring the meeting to order.

Well Phena has been pouring water from their balcony dirtying my already washed clothes and she has been repeating this every single day of the week.

And why did you come to speak to me about it?

I have come to your place several times but she said you were not to be disturbed

And so you went ahead and decided to call her all sorts of names.

Never an abuse but I told her that she behaved like one lacking common sense

Common sense? I see you also lack it! Do you think being well read, making your own rent, fueling your own car makes you better than her.

I kept silent. If they only knew the insults their Precious Phena had hurled, they would understand my common sense and not take musical turns in ‘spanking’ me.

My girl is now so disturbed and always crying. I have my own fair share of troubles and I suggest you go and apologize immediately. Kayamba what do you say?

An apology is good but not good enough. You will have to buy her a set of lessos to completely settle the matter.

Nikuteleza tu. I’m sure it will never happen again.” Mama Frosa finally put in the good word I had been hoping for. And because I wanted to get over with the whole fiasco, I agreed – without question – to the council’s humbling demands. But just as I was about to serve the porridge Mrs. Kayamba had already prepared, Mama Juma stormed in.

Mama Clevens, I was told you were here. I have warned your girl several times not to pour water over the balcony but today she’s soaked my grandchild’s mattress. You tell me where he is going to sleep? Just tell me how I am going to wash off dirty oily water from a mattress? But no no no you must give me another mattress. You just but must!

Mama Juma. Karibu kiti…” Professor Lach interrupted. “My dear girl, can you run up and call that foolish girl…

Holding my dress by the side, I gallivanted up the stairs and told Phena that Mama Clevens needed some quick help. “Naufunge mlango.” I reminded. She sneered, pulled the door and dashed down to finish the trouble she had started. I looked to the heavens in relief. Day had broken. It had surely broken.

13 AMINI: Yesterday…

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Have you ever dreaded the wake of day? Not deadlines, not debt, not dreams but thoughts that have tormented you through a better part of a less starry night? Have you ever wanted to plead with the moon to linger a little longer, move a little closer until it eclipsed the sun? Not for a moment but for an entire of what could have been a brighter day? Have you ever wished that your bed would hold you captive demanding you kept it warm? And with every attempt to escape it strangled with the knotted agreement of its purple cotton sheets?

Well that was my yesterday…

Not even once have my relatives ever summoned me to answer to errant behaviour. Yes I still get a reprimand but never too often. They are more enthused with their daughters meeting sons of their friends and friends to their sons friends. Men whispered to be exemplary in deed and polite in speech. Men whose fathers toiled hard to earn the lands that now dignify its labourers. Men whose mothers mix a really mean ugali. “Spaghetti,” they gloat, “has never satisfied an African man’s belly.

But here I was summoned by the Amini Council of Elders to answer to the misdemeanor of meddling in the affairs of Mama Clevens. My relatives would be so ever ashamed if they got wind of the said meeting. I imagine they would pull one of my adult ears to expel the foolish child that never left. “Manze hapo ulikosea…” Peter, the shopkeeper, rebuked as he handed me the half kilo of brown sugar. Mama Clevens – a retired midwife – was well respected and like Kayamba, gave herself to the affairs of the community. He didn’t even give me a chance to state my case but Mama Frosa did. “Don’t worry too much…“She encouraged, “I’ll see how to support you.

With breakfast done, I took to the ceiling attacking the cobwebs now threatening my canvas. Things were seemingly getting dark for me at Amini and I contemplated changing the hues in the painting and instead colour it bad. For a few minutes I set my dusting feather aside, and sank into my 3-legged-one seater sofa supported by a stack of forgotten books, to think through my defense. The company insists on preparing for tough meetings. The goal – restore the client’s faith. Win more business!

How could I convince the plaintiff  I was right when the entire jury thought I was wrong? How could I make her advocates break sweat in their attempt to prove me wrong? How could I motion the already prejudiced magistrate to dismiss the case? Nothing, absolutely nothing, came to mind that could work to my advantage. I had been rude, rightfully so but it was just me against the world.

My article got featured!!!

Exactly 10 days ago, I had the awesome privilege of having my article feature on BANKELELE. One of the very top business blogs in the country. I am so grateful for giving me the opportunity and God bless all – including you the reader – who continue to encourage me in this journey. Below is the article. Indulge me 🙂

23 Things about the 23rd Home Expo (A Review)

For the second time in my life, I got time to go to the 23rd Home expo. I didn’t think it would be much fun being alone but the 4 hours I spent there definitely says a lot…

  1. Entry to the Expo: There were 2 options – to buy a ticket (200/-) or buy a ‘Homes Kenya’ magazine that came with a free copy and bag (350/-) I chose the latter. My mentor says that magazine has everything!
  2. Condos or Condominium if you prefer: I only used to hear about Condos in movies. They are now available in present day Kenya and this particular one cost a whooping 80M. Before going to a home expo, have a budget in mind. It will help you narrow down to what you are looking for.
  3. SACCOs: There was this lady who tried to convince me that there’s wasn’t a cooperative society but told her that is what exactly SACCO stands for. The investment information she shared, though, was good for making future comparisons
  4. Goals: You may have noticed this as a repeated comment on social media. Basically it says I aspire to the great stuff you’re doing. My goal for going to the expo was to identify a dream house and thereafter pray towards it. Whilst there I got another reason to go for expos, business ideas!
  5. Friends: But the principal reason that saw me get into a matatu and head for KICC was because one of my besties has been looking for a house and keeps dragging me along the trips. I wasn’t excited about the whole affair but the student has now surpassed the teacher
  6. Technology: And when I thought a presentation via an iPad was ‘it’, I walked into a hall where a number of exhibitors had ultra-high definition displays (UHDTVs) and you can be sure it helped move dreams into reality
  7. Everything: and I mean everything to establish a thriving real estate business was here. Generators, solar panels, roofing material, steel beams, sliding doors, kitchen tiles and even simiti was available
  8. Furniture: There was a stand with the most beautiful of mahogany pieces and it felt like a dream to sit on them
  9. Truly Kenyan: Exhibitors came from all over the country were here. Western Kenya, Central Kenya and those from the Coast were well represented. What blew my mind, though, was this gated community in Red Hill accessed by a road 35 feet above it. The thinking to its design – absolutely breathtaking!
  10. Dubai: Kenya is a very rich country one of the foreign exhibitors explained and therefore no surprise was it to see Emirati investors scouting for fellow investors
  11. Sales people: Extroverted ones, genius ones, clueless ones and those who knew you didn’t have a cent in your pocket but still went all out to make the pitch. One day I will make one of them commission happy. One day…
  12. Architects: Exhibitors who did not have the advantage of high-definition technology, used architectural models to convince their prospective clients. A closer look betrayed those whose final workmanship would be cheap. These things are (very) important
  13. Off Plan: The expo was not just about selling property but ideas and with ideas, one cannot just jump on board, without seeing the property’s location, knowing who the developers are, and investigating their previous portfolio(s). And what exactly does 58 square metres in comparison to 125 square metres mean? A lawyer? Is one needed?
  14. Chamas or Investment Groups if you like: were here doing big, hairy, audacious stuff and I can tell you for a fact that those chamas have toiled to reach this level. I salute them!
  15. 2.5 bedrooms: Have you heard of this before? Me neither. But basically what it means is such an apartment comes with 2 bedrooms and a miniature room that can either be used as a study area or additional bedroom.
  16. Serviced apartments: Still reeling on this concept because mine is to move from my rented flat to an apartment but when you hear the probable rents, it begins to make investment sense. At this point I pause to clarify that flat is what the Americans refer to as apartment and a condominium is a block of apartments or flats. Ça va?
  17. Marketing: In the entire tour, I only found one stand that didn’t have brochures. Those in the print business definitely made a kill but there was this one pamphlet where I overtly told the dealer that a “serviced plot behind Kitengela prison” caption scared the investor out of me
  18. Carpets: Carpets confuse me especially when there is so much variety of colour and texture to look at. The guy manning the stand generously explained the types best for different areas of flooring and I will definitely be looking for him should the opportunity present itself in future
  19. Sadolin: These guys saved me from my desperate search for a colour chart and offered theirs for free. They also gave me the exact type of paint that should go onto a bath tub. Such enthusiastic employees!
  20. Eisenkraft: This is a German company that sells tools for bending wrought iron exclusively at exhibitions. It looked easy but doesn’t every business idea look until you start counting the resources
  21. KRA: The government was here not to collect taxes but to offer amnesty to homeowners. In short, no taxes accrue for the years between 1974 and 2013. For 2014 and 2015, taxpayers will be allowed to claim 40% in expenses and only pay 10% in taxes of the remaining 60% of rental income. For 2016, the 10% of the gross income when received must be paid to KRA. Returns (including nil returns) must be filed monthly i.e. by the 20th day of the consecutive month
  22. St. John’s Ambulance: The emergency services people were also here to sell their very affordable courses for the individual, the babysitter, and the company.
  23. To do list: It would be a shame to go for such an exciting experience to go to waste and I have promised self to visit some upcoming properties.

Make sure you visit the next expo! Click here for image credit

12 AMINI: Manu…

The evening found my phone switched off after sending a very strong message about our company policies. Kara is a really good person and I knew better than to compete with my boss. Really she deserved him, all of him. In fact, they both came from the same leafy suburb of Nairobi and would make a good fit. Maybe that was it! They were neighbours. I moved from my last box of tissues to a roll of paper towels. Where exactly was I when all these emotions were getting concocted? Truly matters of the heart are a mystery.

A knock on the door interrupted the blowing of my sorry nose. Aargh! Not on this day of life. I ignored it but the pounding got louder and louder and louder forcing me to attend to the reinforced steel. There he was with what looked like a very hot sufuria of lumpy porridge. He jumped in explaining his gas had ran out and needed to finish mixing his ugali. “Please grab the eggs and Mala in my fridge.” I laughed – Manu’s fridge was so much like mine and probably every other single soul in Amini.

As my friend whipped his magic, I rid the living room of the wet tissues dumped at the corner of my derelict sofa. Quickly, I ran to douse my face with the hope that it would conceal the truth of my afflictions. By the time I was done, a decent dinner for two awaited. He ate quietly, respecting the promise of what these nutrients do for our bodies. My attention was grabbed by the highlighting of cobwebs that stretched from the ceiling into my unfinished canvas. I wanted to get annoyed at Pendo, my once-in-a-week housekeeper, but remembered the many times Kara has covered my shortcomings.

As soon as I took the last sip of milk, Manu picked his sufuria thanking me for saving his evening. “But this is the thing…” He now said in a sober voice, “…It is never that serious.” Never that serious! The woman that usually isn’t me flared up in tearful anger accusing the poor guy of selfishness and insensitivity. Manu, who by this time had stepped out of the flat, turned back and held me. I wept like a most wounded gazelle.  Thirty minutes it took to detox before we finally sat down at the steps adjacent to my door. Manu stretched his hand across my shoulders, I leaned my head against one of his. Just what I needed. A friend. Everybody needs a sufuria wielding friend.

Ehe! Are you the one who is going to spoil our boys now?” It was Mama Clevens. We were so engrossed in the moment we didn’t hear her come. And being that the stairway was dimly lit, a whole lot must have gone to her imagination. Manu and I stood up, quickly moving to the opposite sides of passage in the hope that the chair of Amini’s Womens Welfare Group would find a way up to her flat.

Instead, she chose a tongue-lashing where she accusingly spoke of crafty lasses whose sole intent was to trick innocent lads like her Emmanuel into pregnancy and thereafter leech, out of their souls, every bit of goodness. Manu tried to explain the situation but Mama Clevens warned not to raise his voice against the woman who helped bring him to the world. “And do you know from whom your father used to borrow money when his disorganized employer delayed salaries?” We stood stiff. “Get into your cubicles and let me never catch the 2 of you together again!” With hands akimbo , Mama Clevens waited up at the next landing to ensure we were all locked up.

It was definitely not meant to be a good day. Definitely…
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11 AMINI: Today…

Today should have been a fantastic day.

I got to work on time and for the first time in ages the B14 needed not a jumpstart.

Naona leo iko sawa.” Manu (short for Emmanuel) my next door neighbour chirped.

Iko sawa.” I smiled.

To add to the good fortune, I got a slot within the office block sparing me the hefty council fee. But did they really put thought into this charge or was it an arbitrary figure? 300 bob is a tad too much for parking considering it buys 6 packets of milk (or loaves of bread) and an egg to crown it. Surely there must be more creativity put into income streams. Amini’s newly constructed perimeter wall is brandished with some ugly ua-mende and vote-for-mimi posters which could make for good penalties. Capacity issues I guess.

Today should have been a fantastic day.

Instead of Dora’s usual gestures that the big guy had checked in, she jumped off her high-back mesh chair to hug me. Confused, my 88 kilo self followed to her flat screen monitor. The promotions listing had been sent for her action in readiness of Friday’s staff meeting. “Top secret mami. Top secret!” She said. I was over the moon. Couldn’t hide my joy. Caleb and SaraMarie assumed that my early arrival spurred the aura. I said a quick hello mentioning there was hardly any traffic then rushed to the washroom to do a private Hallelujah dance. My God is good Oh! So good Oh!

At my desk, I quickly pulled out a spreadsheet and the permutations and combinations begun. Finally I would be able to request Dominik wa Phase V to import a red Polo or better still a wine red Golf. And he would say “yes they have decent engines” but question why a fine lady like myself wouldn’t want to consider the Benz A-Class series. The projections would also include reupholstering my hand-me-down sofas. Finally a junior manager. Finally…

And when he walked in, I knew it was going to be an extremely fantastic day.

Ty, the Geneva visiting client, was here! We could finally speak without flouting any company rules. He was carrying a black gift bag with what I am sure was chocolate. For me – to share with everyone. Clever way not to raise eyebrows. And with a smile he would say, candy for my favourite professionals and I would carefully blush a thank you.

Then she rose from her seat, I could swear she run and thrust her arms around Mister Man. His discomfort was the only assurance of me being the only recipient of his suggestive messages. I sort solace in my spreadsheet. Iris was my manager and, til now, had generously shown me the ropes in this promising establishment. There was no way I was going to bite the hand that fed me. Absolutely no way!

It was a large tin of Lindor. Iris took a few for herself and motioned me to distribute the rest. I tried to conceal my disappointment; Ty seemed to blink some sort of apology. How did I not see it? The many single applicants in this office? The spreadsheet became blurry. A tear was trying to burst its way out of my duct. And for a second time, I rushed passed Caleb and SaraMarie’s desk and inside the washrooms was an Unikumbuke lament!

Today should really have been a fantastic day.2