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.

 

Daring.jpg

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!)

Biblio1

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? 🙂 ❤

viva la vida

“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.”

– Frida Kahlo.

13.jpg

When I first read the above quote about four years ago, I knew Frida was talking to me. I don’t quite remember how I came across this excerpt from her journal but it was probably on one of those late, sleepless nights I’d nurse my nostalgia by endlessly scrolling through my Tumblr timeline. Naturally, this was followed by hours obsessively poring through Frida Kahlo hashtags – images, quotes, basically anything and everything even remotely associated with Frida.

This woman was phenomenal, it’s no surprise she still has an almost cult-like following to date (Queen Bey included). I think people love her so much because despite all the pain she went through in her life – both physical and emotional – she did more than just survive, she thrived. She made art, and magnificent pieces at that. She’s become one of the quintessential images of a woman who embodies strength – a strong spirit despite her frail and aching body. A woman who didn’t define herself with her life circumstances – a survivor. An artist. Fully embracing the liberties that come with artistic expression – from her honest work depicting her real life experiences, to her personal style and choice of bold jewellery and facial hair – she would purposely darken her eyebrows and upper lip hairs – she lived her life to the fullest.

22

To give you a better understanding of her life, here is an excerpt of Frida’s life from Wikipedia.

Frida Kahlo de Rivera (July 6, 1907 – July 13, 1954) was a Mexican painter, born in Coyoacán. Perhaps best known for her self-portraits, Kahlo’s work is remembered for its “pain and passion”, and its intense, vibrant colors. Her work has been celebrated in Mexico as emblematic of national and indigenous tradition, and by feminists for its uncompromising depiction of the female experience and form….

When Kahlo was six years old, she contracted polio, which made her right leg shorter and thinner than the left… On September 17, 1925, Kahlo was riding in a bus when the vehicle collided with a trolley car. She suffered serious injuries in the accident (you make skip the next few sentences if you have a weak stomach), including a broken spinal column, a broken collarbone, broken ribs, a broken pelvis, eleven fractures in her right leg, a crushed and dislocated right foot, and a dislocated shoulder. An iron handrail pierced her abdomen and her uterus, which seriously damaged her reproductive ability.

Although she recovered from her injuries and eventually regained her ability to walk, she was plagued by relapses of extreme pain for the remainder of her life. The pain was intense and often left her confined to a hospital or bedridden for months at a time. She underwent as many as thirty-five operations as a result of the accident, mainly on her back, her right leg and her right foot…

Wikipedia.

What I’m trying to say is if you can overlook the morbid and traumatic description of her life and see the woman that did more than just overcome her challenges instead, we can agree on a few things. The thing about life challenges is somehow you easily get overwhelmed and think you have no control over your life anymore. We get stuck in, ‘why is this happening to me’ and forget, instead, about ‘how can I fix this’. Because the truth is you have the power to fix whatever it is that is brought your way, it all starts in your mind. Whenever I read Frida’s story, I am humbled to tears just thinking of how this woman overcame all that life brought her way and became a legend in the process.

32

You may have heard so many times from your elders, ‘stop complaining about this and that, someone out there is wishing they had what you are complaining about’. Case and point – F to the mother loving – rida Kahlo. Be grateful for life. For health. Can you read, see, smell, breathe? Can you understand what I’m writing? Can you think?  Be grateful for a healthy heart, an intact spinal chord. If you can read this, then you are more blessed than millions of others in the world.

My early twenties came with what seemed to be a sudden loss of control of time – everything seemed to be moving terribly fast and it seemed as though my luck was ‘running out’. It was all new, and everyday reminded me of this newness. There was no script, no high school teachers to grade homework on an almost daily basis – keeping track of my progress and calling my parents over to reprimand me if it seemed that my grades were declining even in the least. Increasingly, it became clear that and all I had to fuel myself was myself, and in all honesty, I struggled.

For somebody who endured so much pain in her lifetime, Frida sure was a positive person. Most of the time at least. You see, there is no such thing as luck running out. You take what you can out of every situation and make your own luck. Legends like Frida have to be strong, because, in Beyonce’s wise words, a winner don’t quit on themselves. What if I told you that you can be great? That you already are great? That it all starts in your mind?
I am trying to break down the self limiting beliefs I have picked up over the years and rewire my mind to be better and enable myself to do more. Be more. Be better.
If you fancy an elaborate read about her, please check this link out. And while you’re at it, whether you’re a fan of Lana del Rey or not, listen to her new song! :’)
With Frida’s last painting aptly titled ‘Viva la vida’, I think I will take her advice – live life.
Peace and love ❤
44.jpg
A big thank you to Joyce and Magati for helping me actualize this concept in recreating iconic Frida Kahlo pictures.
Concept and styling: Fatma Sultan (myself).
Photography and art direction: Magati Maosa.
Makeup: Joyce Osodo. Podoa by Joy.
Skirt and blouse: Moderne.
Jewellery: Alan Donovan | Location: The African Heritage House.