Tag Archives: Life unencumbered

THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON I LEARNT IN 2018

2018… it’s almost done, y’all, and I’m still here…. yaaaaaaaay!!

It’s been an interesting year for me, full of challenges, intrigues, and mysteries (psyche! My life isn’t that interesting).

I have had fun living this year, and I can honestly say that for most days in 2018, I lived my life with intention, I followed my passions (baby steps), and I remained true to myself.

For most days….

I think my biggest achievement this year was being able to prioritize my loved ones despite how crazy busy my schedule got, or I wanted it to get. I managed to do this by completely turning my life upside down (😮😮😮) in order to accommodate the people who mean the absolute world to me.

Okay, maybe I’m being a tad dramatic as all I did was relocate from the capital city to upcountry (in order to help my mum manage her farm- she’s getting old and she can’t keep traveling to and from the city in order to oversee farm activity) where I spend most of my weekdays.

On the weekends, I travel back to the capital city in order to take my darling nephews to church every Sunday (I’m a Sunday School teacher, and a deacon, remember?), and to spend time with my best friend, John.

My new lifestyle took a lot of adjusting, but, honestly it’s been worth it. I feel whole now as opposed to how I felt at the beginning of the year. The depth of my relationships with my loved ones has increased, and all I had to do was just be there, be present.

Take my mum, for instance, we’ve become absolutely inseparable since I moved to the farm, (and began to spend weekends with her in the capital city).

Before I moved, I had no idea how much her age and deteriorating health (she’s a 70 year old with high blood pressure and diabetes) was affecting her life and her mobility. Don’t get me wrong, she can still move around and stuff, but she has so many things to manage, and it’s becoming very taxing for her.

She’s also quite forgetful nowadays, and her eyesight and hearing have had better days.

There’s also the loneliness bit of it. Aging can be lonely, that’s for sure!

I would have never known the challenges my mum was facing if I hadn’t stepped out of my self-centric comfort zone.

But, I am so glad that I have gotten the opportunity to make her life, in her old age, much easier, more comfortable, and more enjoyable.

She relies on me so much nowadays (including mentally and emotionally), and it’s an absolute honour for me. This beautiful lady has sacrificed everything for my brothers and I to be where we are today- and, I am glad that I am physically close enough to her to be able to give back to her every single day in all the ways that I can 💖💖💖.

I can say the same thing about my relationships with my brothers and my best friend. My bonds with these boys is considerably stronger than they were a year ago.

I’m here when they need me, and they know that- what a spectacular feeling!!

Here’s a pic of me, two of my brothers, and my nephews.

The quality of my life has also dramatically improved- I can’t compare to how I was when I was living alone. Don’t get me wrong, living alone was immensely fun mainly because

– I like being alone most of the time (my company is that awesome),

– I am a workaholic (it’s not a good thing)

– I don’t like sharing my time (refer to the first point)

– I love routines. I am sure I have told you this before, but I absolutely love routines. Living alone meant that I could follow and enforce my own routines without anyone judging me or interrupting me

– My apartment was my sex pad, and I could dictate my sex calendar (so liberating)

BUT….

………it was still empty. Why? Because I wasn’t paying attention to the people that matter, people that actually yearn for my presence i.e. my mother, my best friend, my father, my nephews and my brothers (in that specific order).

My spirit wasn’t at peace knowing that I wasn’t giving the very best of myself to the people who have loved me through EVERY stage of my life.

There’s something very selfish about spending all of your time alone when there are people that love you and would love to share some of your time. I have been selfish for a very long while.

This by the way is my biggest weakness when it comes to relationships (familial, sexual, or romantic)- I just don’t like sharing my time with others (probably why I am still single)

But, I realize now that this is not the way to live. Something about the way I lived my life had to change in order for me to be the best daughter, the best sister, the best aunty, and the best best friend that I could possibly be.

That something involved relocating upcountry and traveling to the capital every weekend (it’s only 1 1/2 hours away).

The best part is: I was able to purchase a parcel of land just right next to my mum’s!!!😁😁😁😁😁😁😁😁

My biggest lesson learnt in 2018 has brought with it an abundance of blessings, and I am truly happy that I chose this path.

I have found fulfilment in sharing my time with the people I love; I have found balance; I have found purpose 💖💓💖💓💖

And, you can too.. don’t wait until it’s too late!

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DEPRESSION, SEX, AND DRUGS

Ask anyone who knew me in campus or two years after that about the kind of girl I was, and they will probably tell you a myriad of stories, all of them revolving around my drinking and smoking.

This is despite how sweet and innocent looking I was. Exhibit A:

My habits were not only bad, they were excessive. I tend to be a slave to routine, and unfortunately, those days, alcohol and cigarettes were a big part of my daily life.

Whenever I look back at how I used to live my life a few years ago, I see that my habits were extremely unbecoming of a woman with a forehead such as mine (I’d like to believe that there is a code of ethics that girls with HUGE foreheads have to live by; such facial features are a gift that come with their own set of rules and morals).

But that is the girl I was back then.

A heavy smoker, an alcoholic, and a depressed little girl trying to hide herself and her forehead from the world.

Of course, with the excessive alcohol intake came the many sexual escapades, some of which were a pretty risky undertaking.

There was A LOT of sex! A LOT!

And there was also the RA (rheumatoid arthritis), most likely triggered by my excessive smoking.

Even that didn’t stop me from engaging in these harmful activities. In fact, the pain from the RA fueled my drinking and smoking because they helped me forget about the pain and also the shock of having such a condition at such an early age.

Yes, I was using drugs and sex as a way to cope with things, and I had been doing it for years without realising it.

It’s like I wanted my life to end, but I was too scared to go through with it the quick way (although, I did try once and it failed miserably. It’s crazy; after a failed suicide attempt, shouldn’t you get like an epiphany or something, that leaves you wanting to live your life better?)

The epiphany never came in my case.

And so, I chose the slowest, most painful, most accessible, yet most concealed way of ending my existence.

The drinking. The smoking. The sex.

No one knew that I was on a mission. I don’t think even I knew I was on a mission.

On the surface, I thought I was doing it because I liked it; but, on further introspection now, I can see that I was doing it to cope.

Unfortunately, I had no clue what it was that I needed to cope with, which fueled my frustration further.

So, even though I promised myself not to kill myself, I found relief in engaging in such risky activities because they had the potential to do the job for me.

There was something wrong inside; but I didn’t know what was wrong, I didn’t even know how to find out what was wrong.

So frustrating!

And so, the drinking, and the smoking, and the indiscriminate sexual activity continued.

But even the most well laid out plans can backfire, and my deep conscious’ attempt at ending this seemingly miserable life through drugs and sex, wasn’t working.

I was as wreckless as I could be, risking my life in ways that you can only imagine, and not even a scratch (okay, maybe apart from the RA, which came and went as it pleased- it wasn’t doing its job fast enough, and I wanted results).

I was tired. I was bored. Nothing was working, and so, I became recluse.

The more I spent time alone, listening to my thoughts, the more I became aware of the sadness that had engulfed me mentally and emotionally.

I had never known I was sad. I had never known how sick sadness was making me mentally.

The sadness was emanating from wounds in my past (mostly childhood) that had never healed; grief that I had never properly processed; anguish and pain that I had never acknowledged.

Bad things had happened to me, and I buried these memories so deep making them virtually non-existent.

But they didn’t go away, and I continued piling memory after memory, pain after pain.

Introspection led me to start reliving these memories instead of running away from them.

It felt like an endless horror movie each time I did these mental exercises, but they helped me gain a better perspective of my experiences. They helped me validate all of the anger and all of the pain that I felt I wasn’t allowed to feel.

For the longest time I had believed I wasn’t allowed to mourn the death of my mother, abandonment by my father, or the loss of my innocence at such an early age; they happened, and there was nothing I could do to change it, but to just move on like everyone else, and forget.

But that wasn’t right. The girl inside needed to be heard, needed her pain to be acknowledged, needed her vulnerability to be seen.

No one else could do this. No one else but me.

Bearing witness to the pain inside helped me heal. The inner me could now trust herself to be open, and I am a beautiful sight.

I learnt to love the wounds and the scars and the damage inside, and to accept them as a part of who I am.

I learnt to authentically love myself despite of how messed up I was, despite all of the miserable choices I had made.

I also learnt that there was so much more to me than my trauma.

I learnt that I am obsessed with routines, and I absolutely THRIVE when there’s a routine in place.

I learnt that I love to be alone. I love being left to my own devices for long stretches of time. I find it so refreshing.

I love to hear the sound of my laughter. It makes me laugh more.

I love to eat (alone), and to cook for myself. I find immense pleasure in spending time by myself doing normal, simple things.

I love to read. Economics is a great turn on for me.

I learnt to look deeper past people’s actions in an attempt to make sense of why they do what they do. This little nugget helped me come to terms with my mum’s suicide, and my dad’s leaving.

And, of course, I learnt more about my sexuality. What I like, what I don’t like; who I like it with, and who I don’t like it with. I’m still at the sex-without-commitment stage because I’m really into variety and I LOVE my own space. But now this is no-risk sex. It’s clean, it’s fun; no alcohol or drugs . My physical needs are met, and that, for me, is a top priority.

Maybe in time, I will learn how to share myself emotionally and mentally with someone. But, I am not there yet.

I also learnt that there are people whose regular presence in my life has been a boost to my mental health.

Wahu, my adopted mummy is number one on this list. She is my rock. We are INSEPARABLE!!

My best friend John is also on this list. And so are my nephews and niece, Justin, Jude, Aiden, and Jasmine, plus my annoying brothers.

I have learnt to follow my intuition, my own voice, and the more I do, the more I end up exactly where I want to be. Fulfilled!

Most importantly, I have learnt to value myself. To appreciate myself even when no one else does. To feel beautiful inside and also to acknowledge and appreciate how physically attractive I am.

And to learn and love people… just the way they are…

Have an awesome rest of the week, won’t you?

MY FAVORITE QUOTES FROM ‘MINIMALISM-THE DOCUMENTARY’

Hi there!

I know, it’s been forever. Hope you are doing awesome, I am.

Now that the niceties are out of the way, I wanted to share something with you.

Last week, a client of mine asked me to transcribe a documentary for him. The documentary, Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things, is about two guys, known as The Minimalists, who are on a journey to raise awareness about the benefits of a minimalist life. The film also includes other speakers, from authors to neuroscientists, economists, a former Wall Street broker, and high profile news anchors.

The overwhelming conclusion from the documentary is that majority of us are addicted to consuming; not because we need it; but because we all have this empty void, and over time, our brains have been conditioned to believe that we can only fill this void with more and more stuff. We have been made to believe that we are not happy or content unless we have the latest gadgets, the latest fashion, the latest product in the market, essentially.

Advertisement and consumption go hand in hand, and this is why we are constantly being barraged with adverts, seemingly everywhere we look. And this is not only happening in Western nations. It’s happening right here in Kenya, and we have so many examples of how we are evolving into a people who over-consume.

If it’s not our love for stealing and consuming money that isn’t ours, it’s our love for over-consuming alcohol and drugs. Our greed is so evident in the things we do, and we are not ashamed of throwing vulnerable people under the bus just for a quick shilling. It’s our love for always looking fashionable and spending money we don’t have or didn’t earn.

More, more, more. Nothing is ever enough for the average Kenyan. Nothing!

The unfortunate thing is that now our kids are being sucked into this consumption cycle, which by the way, is highly unsustainable and is quickly leading to the degradation of our environment. Our kids are now the targets of these advertisements convincing them that they need to spend more on things they don’t need, and less on the things that they really need.

It’s a sad state of affairs that we are in.

Anyway, here are some of my favorite quotes from the documentary. I hope you find them as profound, as thought-provoking, and as behavior-altering as I did.

Dan Harris: Author, 10% Happier

So much our life is lived in a fog of automatic habitual behavior. We spend so much time on the hunt. But nothing ever quite does it for us and we get so wrapped up in the hunt that it kind of makes us miserable.

Ryan Nicodemus: The Minimalists

‘I had everything I ever wanted. I had everything I was supposed to have. Everyone around me said you’re successful. But, really I was miserable.

‘There was this gaping void in my life. So, I tried to fill that void the same way many people do. With stuff. Lots of stuff. I was filling the void with consumer purchases. I was spending money faster than I was earning it; attempting to buy my way to happiness. I thought I’ll get there one day.’

Eventually, I mean, happiness had to be somewhere just around the corner. I was living paycheck to paycheck. Living for a paycheck. Living for stuff. But, I wasn’t living at all.’

Imagine a life with less. Less stuff, less clutter, less stress, and debt, and discontent. A life with fewer distractions. Now imagine a life with more. More time. More meaningful relationships. More growth, and contribution and contentment.’

‘The people you bring into your life; you should always be hanging out with people who have the same values. And that’s really what minimalism is about; it’s about living deliberately. So every choice that I make every, every relationship, every item, every dollar that I spend; I’m not perfect, obviously, but I do consciously ask the question, “is this adding value, am I being deliberate with this decision?”’

‘The whole point of this message. The whole point of Sharing the story is to help people curb that appetite for more things because it’s such a destructive path to go down. I’ve literally have used people to sell cell phones. I’ve used people to get bigger and better clients, and what I love about my life now is that I can be genuine. That there is no manipulation.’

‘Imagine a life of less. A life of passion unencumbered by the trappings of the chaotic world around you. Well, what you are imagining is an intentional life. It’s not a perfect life. And it’s not an easy life. But it’s a simple one.’

Jesse Jacobs: Entrepreneur

‘It’s why lottery winners are miserable. It’s why homeowners have three car garages. The first car creates an exponential awesome rush of happiness and joy and utility. The second car comes about because we tire of the first car, and as humans, we are wired to become dissatisfied. It’s an addiction really. And we are encouraged to maintain the addiction through technology and information.’

Juliet Schor: Ph.D. Economist and Sociologist

‘Advertising has polluted and infiltrated culture.’

We are too materialistic in the everyday sense of the word and not at all materialistic enough in the true sense of the word. We need to be true materialists like really care about the materiality of goods. Instead, we’re in a world in which material goods are so important for their symbolic meaning. What they do to position us in the status System based on what advertising and marketing say they are about.’

If you think about the concept of fashion, it embodies in it the idea that you can throw things away not when they are no longer usable but when they no longer have that social value or they are no longer fashionable.’

Historically companies which had products aimed at kids would go towards the mothers and get the mothers to wanna buy the stuff for the kids. What happens is, the companies decide to go around the mothers, and go directly to the kids.

‘There is a problem that both process and content. And the problem of content is huge. The products that are being advertised to kids are junk. It’s a junk culture. It’s food that’s bad for them. its crappy toys that are gendered and violent. I don’t see the argument for subjecting children to this like there is no positive social benefit from it. we just know there is a negative and it is just a political power of advertising and the companies that do the advertising that keeps us from doing something about it.’

If I had to revise the American dream, it will be more about coming together in community. It would be more about a society, which had much less inequality and more fairness in which everybody had a chance that is responsible towards the planet and our ecosystem. To me, that would be an American dream.

 

Patrick Rhône: Author of Enough

‘It’s been a slow revolution. This is not something that just happened yesterday. This is something that has been sold to us over say the past hundred years, slowly but surely by those that want to make a whole lot of money. They want to believe that you really need these things.’

‘Because you can do anything you want, you can potentially do everything you want. But to do everything you want you to have to sacrifice the things that really are important. When it comes to the overwhelm, the easiest way to solve all that is to turn it off. Really, just turn it off.’

‘We think we need those things because we have been told we need those things. We have been told we need those things by our society. It has been this kind of slow little thing that’s just kind of trickled in, and suddenly, it becomes the thing you do.’

‘It really does come down to a value-based ideal. You want to do the most amount of good and get the most amount of value with exactly what you need. Having too little is not going to give you that and having too much is not going to give you that, right? Having that balance, having enough, that’s what you are looking for.’

Joshua Fields Milburn: The Minimalists

‘All of these things that I brought into my life without questioning. But, when I started letting go, I started feeling freer and happier and lighter. And now, as a minimalist, every possession serves a purpose or brings me a joy brings me joy. ‘

Everything that I look around, I have to go and justify to myself, not to anyone else, justify to myself, does this add value to my life? And if not, I have to be willing to let go.’

‘We want to promote a message we really believe in:  A simple living message of living more deliberately with less.’

There’s a template out there, you can call it the American dream or keeping up with the Joneses or whatever. That’s just a template; it’s not the template. And once we realize that we can create our own template that works just for us.’

‘There is this underlying discontent and I think that it starts to manifest in our stuff. and what I am finding as we go out on the road and we talk to so many people is everyone is looking for more meaning in our lives.’

‘Love people and use things. Because the opposite never works.’

‘I don’t think there’s anything wrong with consumption. The problem was compulsory consumption. buying stuff because that’s what you’re supposed to do. That is what advertising tells you to do. That’s what this magic template is for happiness and when you get it, you realize that it doesn’t make you as happy as you thought it would.’

I was living the American dream and I realized it wasn’t my dream. I looked around at all the stuff in my life, when my mother died and my marriage ended both in the same month and started questioning what was actually important. What things were actually adding value to my life and I realize that many of the things that I bought to make me happy they weren’t actually doing their job.’

Minimalism is not a radical lifestyle. Yeah, I absolutely believe in quality over quantity. ‘

David FriedlanderCommunications Director LifeEdited:

‘So we have people living in these enormous homes and if you really look at it, people don’t use the space that they have. it creates this big vacuum that you have to fill so people are throwing all this crap into their homes that they don’t need.’

Frank Mascia: Architect

‘We are living our lives depending on the space we’ve got rather than creating our space to fit our lives. It’s so easy to go wrong. And you wind up with three dining tables in the same house. Nothing is more responsible than living in the smallest space you possibly can.’

Jay Austin: Tiny House Designer

‘I think there is this element of affordability, simplicity, and sustainability that just makes tiny houses seem like the perfect solution to a problem that we haven’t yet figured out. Which is how do we go from working all throughout a lifetime to enjoying a lifetime with a bit of work here and there.’

‘I think we’ve only begun to re-examine what it means to be successful in life. It’s no longer about white Picket fence; It’s no longer about the big mansion. I think people are beginning to recognize that maybe they have been tricked. And that maybe they have more agency over their options Than they once thought they did.’

‘We’re not going to ever be able to achieve the environmental gains that we are seeking whilst we are expecting our lives to be the same. We’re going to have to get up a lot. The secret is that a lot of that, we are not going to actually miss.’

‘It’s not so much about financial gain for me as financial freedom. which is the ability to wake up in the morning and spend one’s day as they see fit. A part of why we consume things is that we work for so long and a lot of people aren’t finding fulfillment in their jobs and they need some way to tell themselves that it’s all worth it. that it’s amounting to something more than just a few numbers in a bank account. That there is more; there’s more to life than bills and money and work.’

Graham Hill: Founder of LifeEdited:

‘Very quickly, I realized that small space made so much sense environmentally, but also made sense on many other levels.’

Sam Harris: Author and Neuroscientist

‘I think we’re confused about what is going to make us happy. Many people think that material possessions are really the center of the bull’s-eye, and expect that you gratifying each desire as it arises will somehow lead to a satisfying life.’

‘We have this capacity for focus. But we are living in a context where we are continually moving from one Stimulus to the next in search of the dopamine experience where we are rewarded by the next email or the next retweet or the next thing that comes into our phone, rather often. I think there is a price we pay for that.’

We are ruminating about past and future in a way that keeps us from really connecting with the present moment in a way that values it as good enough. Meditation is a technique of finding well-being in the present moment before anything happens. You can be happy and satisfied simply being aware of the sensation of breathing. Very rarely are we fully dedicated to one thing. We are interrupting ourselves and allowing ourselves to be interrupted by these streams of data and what would in any other context to be thought of as distractions, but now we think of them as being necessary parts of our bandwidth.’

Gail Steketee: PhD, compulsive hoarding expert

‘It is clear that, as human beings, we have a strong attachment initially in our lives to people who are caring for us. And sometimes it feels like those attachments spillover to objects. As if they were as important as people. I’m not so sure that we have such a great relationship with things.’

Shannon Whitehead: Sustainable-Apparel Consultant

‘Now we work in a cycle of 52 seasons per year. They want you to feel like you’re out of trend after one week So that you’ll buy something new the following week. 

There have actually been accounts of big fashion retailers bailing all of the clothes from one week together slashing all the clothes from one week with scissors destroying them and leaving them on the side of the road so that nobody can resell them or even wear them. They want consumers to buy as much clothing as quickly as possible.’

Leo Babuta: Author, Zen habits

‘I think people buy because they are trying to fulfill this void inside of them. I know that because that was me. But no matter how much stuff we buy and how many different fads that we try we don’t become a more whole person. We keep looking. This hunger never gets fulfilled.’

Rick Hanson: PhD neuro psychologist

I think it goes to the bottom line fact that you can never get enough of what you don’t really want. In other words, deep down, we don’t really want more goodies, more toys, more cars; we want what they will bring us. we want to feel whole, we want to feel content.

Colin Beavan

This mindless consumption, this same thing that is not making us Happy is also causing the degradation of our habitat.

Colin Wright: Entrepreneur, Full-time Traveler

What did it at the end of the day, knowing this path had been well tread, the direction I was going and very successful men and women with all this money and all this prestige and all this professional background behind them -they weren’t happy. They’re very successful but in an absolute sense; they are dollars and cents successful. It seemed far more likely that I could find something; find a definition of success that will actually get me to a place where I was both successful, and just incredibly happy.

 

Famous quote by Jim Carrey- I wish everyone could become rich and famous so they could realize it’s not the answer.

 

Mark:

In any disease or sickness, one of the biggest factors, one of the things that contribute to these things in the negative ways is the stress in your life. By getting rid of these things in our lives, these material items, and all of these excesses that we used to live in, good things happened.

Joshua Becker author clutter free with kids:

I wonder what the most common three words are in American homes. I don’t know if it’s I love you or if it’s I want that. 5000 advertisements we see every day from the moment we are born. And they all tell us, ‘hey, this is what your life should be about. it should be about accumulating more things or it should all be about focusing on you.

In 1983, companies spent $100 million marketing to children. In 2006, companies spend 17 billion.

Former US President, Jimmy Carter:

Good evening. It is clear that the true problems of our nation are much deeper, deeper than gasoline lines or energy shortages. Deeper even than inflation or recession. In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities; too many of us others now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns. But we have discovered that owning things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning. We have learned that piling up material goods cannot fill the emptiness of lives, which have no confidence. Or purpose. This is not a message of happiness or reassurance. But it is the truth. And it is a warning.’

 

AJ Leon:

‘When you recognize that, this life is yours and that it is the one and only and when that ceases to be the esoteric bullshit. When that’s not hippy poetry anymore. When the pragmatism of that statement sips directly into your bones, and you recognize that this is it. Everything changes.’