chasing dreams

“Artists have so much more control of their futures – they don’t need to rely so much on major labels or big companies to help them. You have artists like Skrillex that can dominate so much that he gets 5 Grammy nominees, and he’s clearly an underground artist.”

– Steve Aoki.

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Sometimes an incident, big or small, can occur that will make you second guess yourself. Your abilities, your dreams, especially when your purpose is unclear (it doesn’t need to be clear because everyone has a different rate of growth). I was in the dumps for a few days, second guessing whether I should proceed with my ‘pilgrim adventures’, asking if it’s worth it, do the easy thing, give it up, and conform or if I should do the difficult thing – keep going one step at a time and see where it goes. Then one evening I got a wave of an emotion I can’t describe as anger, but similar to it. Whatever it was, even after a long day at work, it kept me at my bedside table editing these pictures for the next two and a half hours until past midnight. It reminded me of something I read once that Maya Angelou said about the difference between anger and bitterness; ‘Bitterness is like cancer, it eats upon the host. But anger is like fire, it burns all clean’.

You see the thing is, I know I’m not perfect. I know I have a long way to go, a lot to learn and I don’t shy away from that fact. I embrace it. I came across a quote on Instagram that goes something like, ‘let the space between who you are and where you want to be inspire you.’ That is exactly what I live by. I will try something new today, may turn out well, or not. And I will get up and try again. The important thing is to keep creating, sharing, growing. I can describe more of who I want to be than of who I am now, so if I could describe myself in one word, it would be ambitious. This felt like an appropriate pretext to this post. Read on, I’m getting to my point.

On the second day of the Grand Prix, the entertainment section was just as incredible and exciting as the races. The organizers had planned activities for different age groups, and a post-race concert that began at around 7 pm just a few minutes from the viewing stands. Underneath the huge tents, were ladies dressed as mushrooms and fairies from Peter Pan, clowns on stilts and in inflated costumes, candy canes plonked into the ground at random places, the sweet and sticky smell of spilled soda, ice cream, candy, pop corn, pizza and Red Bull. An array of colour and activity, with furniture to seat at and observe the life around you if you’re as in awe as I am in new places! Additionally, there were several themed stands like the bubble making stand, sadly for children aged 5-10 so I just stood on the perimeter of the stand taking pictures, haha.

My family and I then dashed to watch the races and at 7 pm headed back to the stage early enough to get a spot at the front. My reaction to seeing Enrique on that stage was, drum rolls please, tears. I was tearing up remembering how at age 10 or 11, my dad bought his first CD and I’d sing along my terrible version lyrics to Hero and Escape. ‘Here’s how it goes, you and me, up and down but baby.. mumbles.. mumbles.. mumbles.. If you feeeeel like leaviiiiing’, you get the point 😀 I’d carry that CD with me in my schoolbag to show my friends (we’d call ourselves the Blooming Ladybirds lol) where we’d then appropriately scream and giggle like little girls.

I kid you not, at least 1000 views of the Bailando song on YouTube are mine 😀 And so by the time Enrique performed that song, my mascara and kohl was a mess, my voice was hoarse and I was in a dream like trance. At one point, he got off stage and came down to the barricade to mingle with the fans. I was star struck, paralyzed, and just stood there in amazement asking out loud, ‘Is this real?’ ‘Take pictures, be present,’ I’d then tell myself. At the end of Enrique’s set, Steve Aoki was next and woah, that energy! It made me think about people who I look up to professionally, leading the lives of their dreams doing what they love. Innovators. Artists. People who do different things and dare to step out of their comfort zones, prepared to take on whatever challenges are brought their way.

People like Enrique Iglesias, Steve Aoki, the formula 1 racers all take a huge risk stepping out onto the stage of life, opening themselves up to create and face criticism. They keep working hard at their dreams. I’d never been a fan of Steve’s genre of music but after watching him live, I now have a great respect for his craft. The visuals, his energy and enthusiasm. Wish I got to watch the whole performance but alas, we had to be home before the clock struck ten (and this was only because we were actually being chaperoned haha).

This post took me back to that barricade at the concert. Watching people I admire live their dreams, have people adore their craft and inspire others to do something too.

The easy thing for me to do would be give up on this blog (or any other ridiculous dreams I have) which is not only a hobby, but also what I see as a vehicle to help me live out a larger purpose. To push me towards following my dreams, and help you (whoever is reading) see that hey, if Fatma can get started then so can you. Whataver it is. Doesn’t matter who gets there first, just that you get started and keep going.

I’m writing to myself now.

If you have a dream, you will have to work at it and deal with whatever challenges that come your way. You will have to change some habits, create more time (borrow time from the future as Professor Anyamba would say) to accommodate all the responsibilities you need to balance. You will need to get things done. It’s the only way to grow.

Dream. Strategize. And work.

Watch this.

daring greatly

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again,

because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;

who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

“The Man in the Arena,” an excerpt from Citizenship in a Republic, Theodore Roosevelt.

 

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Day 87/ 365

I’ve been terribly busy this past week. A marathon – so many deadlines to complete in what seems like not enough time. And on some days, it feels like time has stretched itself out like fat men after a heavy lunch – just seems to drag on into a bleak existence.

I’ve had to change some of my habits in order to create more room for productivity. My days start earlier, and end much later. Without realizing what was happening, my hour (or two) of solitude in the evenings seemed to have disappeared. My alone time is essential for my sanity, so as a result, I became restless, increasingly self conscious and haven’t been sleeping well (the recent heat waves at night haven’t made it easier, sema global warming?).

The truth is, I’ve been exhausted. For the longest time, I’ve thought of exhaustion as a negative ’emotion’ but I realized today that it could be a reason to be grateful! Yes, I know. Sounds crazy.

“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again,

because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;

who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat”.

Exhaustion is uncomfortable, but it means growth. Struggle means that you’re actually trying, you are in the arena. I did some reflecting today, and realized that one thing is for sure; I don’t wish for comfort as a mental state I identify with, I want to keep growing, and I’m not entirely sure if I’m ready for it. Are we ever?

I can’t remember exactly how I found this interview of Dr. Brené Brown on Oprah’s YouTube channel. Everything she said made sense, so I knew I had to buy one of her books. I got ‘Daring Greatly’ two months ago, and was ‘saving it’ for something special. That special moment was last night, and one paragraph in I couldn’t put the book down.

I’m now about a third done with the book. It’s difficult to summarize twelve years of Dr. Brené Brown’s research into a single blog post, but she summarizes it best on the cover.

Daring Greatly; How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead.

Almost every page brings tears to my eyes and what Oprah calls ‘aha moments’ – discussing topics like shame, vulnerability and joy. It’s exactly what I needed to read right now. Once I’m done with the book, I’ll write a little more about the lessons I’ve learnt.

I’ll end today’s post with an excerpt from the book, where she talks about ‘Wholehearted living’.

“Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, passion and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done or what is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging”.

You are brave, and worthy of love and belonging 🙂

Other useful links:

Listening to Shame
Brené on Oprah

new books, who ‘dis?

This should have been a Saturday shenanigans post but I didn’t get to do anything substantial really, just ran a few errands, met my friend Lynette and bought a few things that just happen to make me very happy – books.

(yay!)

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I got three books this time – Originals by Adam Grant, and Rumi; A Spiritual Treasury compiled by Juliet Mabey – from what I believe is Nairobi’s best book shop, Bookstop at Yaya Center, and The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo – second hand from a man selling books on a sidewalk along Moi Avenue.

I’m at a point in my life where I’m continuously craving personal growth on what seems to be, every single minute of the day. I guess I’ve always been this way, just wanting to be better and not knowing how or where to begin chasing these ridiculous dreams like say, traveling the world, becoming a respected artist/ architect, knowing true love et cetera et cetera. And then again realizing that they aren’t as ridiculous as they seem. I guess this is why books have become an escape for me, by reading through other people’s thoughts I get to learn from their stories, and visualize my own dreams (somehow) through their words.

When it comes to films and literature, I seek out material that challenges my wits. In the past few months, I’ve rewatched The Matrix Trilogy, 8 Mile, Frida, and many other films that narrate the stories of people following their dreams or discovering ‘super powers’ just by simply realizing that it all starts from changing your mind set. That we possess immense potential to make our worlds, and even the earth, a better place.

Memoirs have to be my favourite genre of books to read – there is nothing like the rush I get after following an under dog to their success in their own words.

I’ve come across several Paulo Coehlo books before but never really thought to buy them, with the playful covers and not-so-realistic titles like ‘The Devil and Miss Prym’. I had a neighbour called Michelle back at the hostel I’d live in during my campus days, and she had one of his books on her mantel. She said she’d never read it either. I guess the graphic on the cover just never appealed to me and I (ignorantly) dismissed Paulo’s work as fiction, placing it in the same category as the ‘Twilight’ series. I’d read all the books in that series and let’s just say, I got over that vampire love romance phase a few years ago.

In the past three weeks however, I’d keep seeing The Alchemist everywhere I turned. On Instagram, Tumblr and even with second hand book vendors on the street. It’s like the universe was literally shoving it in my face, so I gave in and finally decided to grab a copy. And besides, it was the first time I came across an intriguing Paulo book cover. I highly recommend this book to anyone reading my post right now. It’s a beautiful book, but I rushed through it to get to see how the story ended so I didn’t quite enjoy it as much as I could have.

That’s the thing about life isn’t it? We get something nice and just want to rush through while if we took our time to savour every single moment, we’d have a much wholesome experience instead. Luckily for me, it’s a book that I have by my bedside and I can re-read it over and over again as many times as I like. I finished it in three days (I try to read even a little after work in the evenings and I breezed through this one, couldn’t put it down!).

I’ve known Rumi’s work for years now, but I guess I just wasn’t ready to understand his message. I’d come across deeply profound quotes here and there but it’s recently just began to have a meaning. My friend Magical Rabia wrote this poem for me in my notebook and told me to get some of Rumi’s work, and I’m so glad I did. It’s not the type to be read at one go, at least for me. I think it’s to be read one page at a time, contemplated over an afternoon, and resumed on the next day.

So I guess that leaves me with Originals. I hope I can finish it in a week or two (I’m trying to be generous). Well even if I don’t get to finish it in two weeks, I’ve managed to follow through with my monthly quota of books so yay me!

What are you reading right now? Anything you’d like to recommend? 🙂 ❤