In Case You Missed Me

Friends,

It’s been a while.

…so, I just wanted to say:

In case you’ve missed me- I am well. Just up and down, left and right- all over the place really.

Working, mostly.

My friends say I’ve lost a lot of weight! I don’t see it. But then again, we’re not always privy to the change that happens to us. Sometimes the people around notice before you do.

A time like this last year, things were really bad for me. At least, it felt that way.

A crisis.

My research proposal was not holding together like I hoped it would. Actually, things in general, were not holding together like I hoped they would.

Nothing I tried was working. I was drawing blood from a stone. Looking outside from the library to the Meadows, everything seemed far away- and yet the end was nigh.

I was trying to be calm but I was looking for help from everyone I came across. Hoping they would tell me something to soothe things because I truly felt lost.

I remember the feeling so vividly and often walk through it like it was yesterday. It was tough!

I’m telling you this so that in case you’re going through the same you know that you can make it through. As I tell you, I’m also reminding myself, for future reference- you can swim, when it feels like you’re drowning. Take it a day at a time. Don’t rush yourself.

2016 started off really well. And then crashed somewhere in the middle. The end was restorative, refreshing- desperately needed.

I’m hoping this year will end with a clean break. I don’t think I’m quite there yet. But seeing how far I’ve come since? Eish! I’ll make it through. At my own pace.

This life is full of roughness. But roughness comes with so many beautiful things that I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

 

For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay” (Habakkuk 2:3) | Nairobi, Kenya

So yes, that’s it. Just wanted to let you know, in case you missed me.

T

© Tessy Maritim

 

p.s. I have an event coming up on Saturday 29th July, please come through! Details here:

All the Mentors Attending Social Changemakers #MatchMentor | The Arena Kenya

T x Free Mind Sessions

As mentioned in my previous post, I had the pleasure of being a panelist for the Biashara edition of Free Mind Sessions. Free Mind Sessions is “a community that comes together once a month to chat about emerging issues as Creatives and Thinkers alike. Free Mind Sessions stands for something unique and powerful – being able to generate solutions together, as we grow each other.

photo by Kreative Vault

They host the event every month at The Yard which is inside the compound that hosts The Alchemist and several food trucks. It’s fitting that they host it there because the vibe and audience sync wonderfully- it’s chilled, expressive and vibrant. The team do a fantastic job with the event set-up.

 

photo by Kreative Vault

I was on the panel alongside some great people:

  • Charlene Migwe, Managing Partner at Considr, an innovative research and Monitoring and Evaluation firm that works with non-profit organisations, donors, corporates and government departments providing specialized services
  • Dean Okonji, Co-Founder and Business Development Director of Magiq Lens Kenya, a collaborative photography agency
  • DJ Andre, a deejay
  • Kevo Abbra, a fashion stylist, prop master, set designer and location & talent scout
  • Muthuri Kinyamu, Chief Evangelist at Metta and Co-Founder at Turn-Up Travel
  • Patricia Kihoro, Singer, Actress, Radio Presenter, Improv Comedian and Sporadic Blogger

We shared so much but here are some of my key takeaways:

  1. Don’t be Afraid of Time– Sometimes we are scared of the time it takes us to achieve. Time teaches us so much- to be patient, to be relentless, to be strong. There are important things we find when we allow time to take its natural course- so don’t rush yourself- relax and do your best
  2. Trust your Dopeness– Believe in yourself, believe in your work
  3. You Learn by Doing– The only way to learn the career that’s right for you, the type of food you like best, the kind of partner that suits you, is by doing- and that can be frustrating. But, by doing, you learn so much about yourself and open yourself up to the best opportunities
  4. Sometimes You Need to Put People in their Place– When you’re young, and particularly as a woman, some people feel that they can push you around and disrespect your time and work. Although I understand that it’s important to have ‘thick skin’, you can’t take everyone’s shit. Sometimes, you have to assert yourself and call people out. This can work out great and set a boundary for a future working relationship or it can put you at a loss. It’s up to you to assess what’s most important to you in the particular context
  5. Ask for Help When You Need It– Recognise when you need help and open yourself up to it. You can learn from other people’s involvement in your work and sometimes the best work happens through collaborative effort

 

photo by Kreative Vault

It was a wonderful experience- much gratitude to the Free Mind Sessions team for inviting me.

T

© Tessy Maritim

Thank You, May ’17

Life moves quickly. So swiftly, that it’s easy to miss the things, people and events that make life worthwhile. I’ve decided to create a new section of my blog, to share, appreciate and reflect on each month.

I’m grateful for:

  • A Trip– After a super busy April, I was delighted to have the opportunity to travel to Geneva for work. I’ve been wanting to go to Geneva for the longest time and feel so blessed to have had the chance to visit this early in my career. God continues to be so good to me!

 

  • A Lagos Babe– I met Yagazie Emezi! If you read my #faves: African YouTuber‘s post, you’ll remember me mentioning my love and admiration for her. She was in Nairobi for a series of event’s with Everyday Africa and I got the chance to meet her after a panel discussion she was part of. Yagazie is so lovely and sweet! And yes, her hair is just as wonderful in person.

 

  • An InterviewI was invited to Citizen TV’s Power Breakfast where I shared The Arena story, how I got in to student politics and why I’m so enthusiastic about our generation. Watch the interview here.

 

  • A Big Conservation Lie– Everything I knew and understood about conservation was picked apart and turned upside down after I attended a lecture by Mbaria wa Mbaria and Mordecai Ogada based on their book ‘The Big Conservation Lie‘. They questioned the hegemony of a conservation model that undermines the rights of local communities and cultures. They asked, “Have you ever seen a black man on Animal Planet?“, demonstrating that black people are largely absent from conservation discourse. I’d encourage you to get the book but you can start with this for context.

 

  • Free Mind Sessions– Thank you to Free Mind Sessions for inviting me to be a panelist at their ‘Biashara edition’. I got to share alongside some really cool people who I learnt so much from. I’ll do a feature post soon on some key takeaways from the event.

 

The main thing is the you beneath the clothes and skin- the ability to do, the will to conquer, the determination to understand and know this great, wonderful, curious world. Don’t shrink from new experiences and custom. Take the cold bath bravely. Enter into the spirit of your big bed-room. Enjoy what is and not pine for what is not. Read some good, heavy, serious books just for discipline: Take yourself in hand and master yourself. Make yourself do unpleasant things, so as to gain the upper hand of your soul” (Web du Bois in a letter to his daughter) | Geneva, Switzerland

Thank you May, you’ve been good to me! 

T

© Tessy Maritim

At Your Own Pace, Babes

We’re on our way to church. My mom is driving and we’re about to cross Waiyaki Way. She’s concentrating because it’s a busy highway. There are people behind us hooting- she’s moving too slow and they want her to cross quickly. My mom looks across the car to me and says;

“Mummy, when you start driving, don’t let anyone rush you. Take your time.”

She looks back at the highway. Someone behind us is still hooting.

My mom is right. Take your time.

We live life with a tremendous sense of urgency. Like everything will be taken away from us if we slow down. What are you running to? What are you running away from?

My mom says that it’s important to slow down and take your time when making decisions. Give yourself time to internalise information and familiarise yourself with context. How does this feel? What is this doing for you?

Sit with it. Meditate on it. Let it sink in.

Don’t rush yourself. Don’t let anyone rush you. If they’re threatening you, let them know that they must wait- or, they can leave.

Part of living life on your terms is knowing how to express your needs with those close to you. Often, they don’t mean harm. They just want what they want. But if it’s pressuring you, if it’s hurting you- make it clear to them. Ask them to give you time. Ask them to give you space.

Give yourself time,

to heal

to move on

to start your career

to finish school

Don’t be afraid to pause. Pause so that you can engage, dissect and understand- what is this really doing for me?! 

Haraka haraka, haina baraka” (Swahili proverb) | Geneva, Switzerland

Let no-one cheat you- this life is yours. Make what you wish out of it.

I’m learning this everyday.

T

© Tessy Maritim

No More Words

Can a writer ever run out of stories to tell?

Someone wanted to know. I did too.

I had ran out of words. I was out of stories to write.

But words are not stories. Writing is not the only way to tell a story.

The way we express ourselves over time changes. Today, we sing; tomorrow, our voices just want to talk. There’s no melody left.

Expression is about release. Setting words free. Setting ideas free. Setting worries free. Setting yourself free. 

Your hands may not write forever. Give them room to do new things. To grow and learn a new rhythm of expression.

It may be that each season requires a new form of expression. And to see the best of it- observe and listen before you find your bearing.

An integral part of new beginnings is letting go of what looks and feels comfortable to you. Embracing the pain and discomfort of a new direction. That’s where the magic of life lies.

Yes, you can run out of stories to tell- but try not to. Because stories concern the way we see the world. And losing that ability to translate and interpret what’s around you is a sign of darkness.

You can translate the world around you in so many different ways- writing is not the end. Be open to something new.

“your art

is not about how many people

like your work

your art

is about

if your heart likes your work

if your soul likes your work

it’s about how honest 

you are with yourself

and you

must never

trade honesty 

for relatability”

(Rupi Kaur)

Eldoret, Kenya

It gets tough- it really does. But this expression is about you. A lifeline. A way to keep you above the water. And that’s worth fighting for.

T

© Tessy Maritim

#faves: People on Twitter

If I had to be on just one social media platform, it would be Twitter. I find it the perfect platform for words, pictures, news, banter, etc- it forces us to say what we mean- no flowery language.

A well-curated timeline is important for any brand or potential suitor. If you like someone, their Twitter timeline is an important reference check.

A dope Twitter timeline consists of:

  • clever use of words
  • appropriate use of images/gifs
  • palpable personality

Here are my Twitter #faves, in no particular order:

Blitz the Ambassador 

Blitz the Ambassador is a Ghanaian-American hip-hop and visual artist- but most importantly, my current Twitter crush. His timeline consists of beautifully curated photos, references to black/African history and regular pep-tweets.

J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling is queen of clapbacks. Her timeline is an incredible source of quality banter.

OkayAfrica

The best source for news concerning Africans and people of African heritage.

Upile Chisala

Upile Chisala is my resident timeline poet- always stringing together beautiful words to lift my spirit.

AKA 

What would my timeline be without AKA’s regular self-love and rants about the music industry?

 

That’s it for now. Please let me know who else I should follow on Twitter and make sure to follow me, just because: @tesscherono.

T

© Tessy Maritim

Just Like Before: A Pep Talk To Myself

Okay, you’ve done this before.

It always starts like this- seemingly impossible. Big. Scary. Above you.

Like a mountain. Insurmountable. Little me. How did I even get here?

Well.

You got here slowly. Step by step. One leg after the other. You divided and you conquered. You committed the journey to God. You covered yourself in prayer. You looked after yourself- every day, every moment. You reminded yourself that it’s okay.

You asked for help. You took breaks. You slept. You cried. You woke up, determined to face each day.

Looking ahead, it seems like there’s no way. It always feels like that. But remember the valley of dry bones:

Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”

Ezekiel 37:4-6

This work, this life, may seem like an endless valley of dry bones. But, speak life into each situation. Watch the tendons, flesh and skin come together and bring life again. You can do it, just like before.

The journey will emerge, even if it doesn’t seem that way. Just like before, you’ll rise up to the occasion. Because you’re prepared, you’re capable. You are loved. You are precious.

Just like before, you’ll go up, across and down.

And you’ll celebrate. Not just at the end, but throughout the journey. Because small victory is still victory.

Remember that things may be different. You can’t always use yesterday’s blueprint for today’s journey. You may have to go back to the drawing board. Take time to think. Turn things upside down. Unpack the issues. Deconstruct, so you can construct again.

That’s bringing to life what was not there before. That’s the power you hold, never forget.

What seems above you is above you for a reason. So that you can stretch yourself. Make yourself bigger. That’s the essence of life and that’s what you’ve been praying for. A richer life. An exquisite life. This is what it looks like.

Kuvunjika kwa mwiko sio mwisho wa upishi” (Swahili Proverb) | Nairobi, Kenya

May you see life in all its colours. May you learn throughout the journey. May you always see yourself the way God sees you- as strong, as kind, as compassionate, as smart, as important, as special.

You can do it, again.

T

© Tessy Maritim

Agency, Autonomy and the Complexities of Life

I’m someone who loves, appreciates and understands the complexities of life. I know that it’s not always black and white. It’s frustrating that sometimes we are required to be simplistic, normative, basic in the way that we think, in the way that we live, in the way that we love. There’s not enough space for our colours and nuances- the things that make us special.

I wish there was more room to be complex. I wish it was possible to survive and thrive with the complexity- without it being diluted.

But sometimes for functionality, for practicality, we need definitive answers to the difficult questions-  Do you want to leave this job or not? Do you want to love this person or not? 

It’s not always possible to live with the complexity. Sometimes you have to strip it away, forget it, ignore it and just get on with life. Life requires us to be decisive sometimes. If we take too long to make a decision, life will make it for us.

And I much prefer the agency and autonomy of making the decision myself- as difficult as it may be.

There’s no toolkit for these things- we make a way as we go along. And hopefully others can learn and be inspired by it.

I know that it helps to seek help; to ask questions- furnish yourself with information. Information can increase the depth of complexity. And, it can also distil your situation.

As I write this, I’m thinking of the times I was too afraid to ask. Not asking because I would rather not have known the truth. Not asking because I would rather not have known the lie.

You should also make a habit out of observation- watching people, things, life as they continue. You might see what you’ve been missing.

So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded” (Hebrews 10:35) | Nairobi, Kenya

What I know is- complexity notwithstanding, we will always find what we need to find.

T

© Tessy Maritim

2017 Sign-In

Happy New Year friends!

I’m so glad and grateful to be seeing a new year, 2017. Towards the end of last year, I committed much to God through prayer. I’m grateful for a God who has curated my life so perfectly- no mistakes, no delays. I’m grateful that I’m made fearfully and wonderfully. I’m grateful that I have everything I need to deal with each encounter, each difficulty, each victory- I’m complete. It’s another year to keep trying and pushing for a better life. Another year to love ourselves better, to love other people better. Another year to surprise us, show us what we didn’t know about ourselves and remind us how wonderful we each are. We are all so special. The heavens roar, each time we reach into ourselves and bring forth the best.

Here are some of the things I’m hoping for in 2017:

  • Decisiveness– I think a lot and sometimes this affects how I make decisions. This year I’m not asking to think less but rather to be more decisive. This means having sharper discernment and a clear focus on what is needed in each scenario.
  • Artistry– I’m working on honing my creative abilities as a writer and appreciating my perspective.
  • Competing Globally– I’m raising myself and everything I touch to global standards. I want to produce excellent work in every area of my life.
  • More Self-Love– You can never love yourself enough. This year, I’m pouring into myself more. I owe it to myself to aspire to and work towards an exquisite life. I’m guided by Akwaeke’s words:

 “It might not be advice per se, but I will never forget my mother telling me once how she realized that really, you are truly alone in this world. It was exactly how I was feeling and I was so grateful that she understood that stark reality. It sounds depressing, but it has helped me be self-sufficient, understanding that I am fundamentally responsible for myself and my well-being, and that never changes, regardless of what friendships or partnerships I may enter into. Centering on myself in that way taught me how to develop my own power, which I use to shape my world into one I want to live in.”

– Akwaeke Emezi

“See everything as art, hear everything as music and feel everything as love” – Anthony Anaxagorou | Edinburgh, Scotland

I know this year is going to be special. Thanks for following my journey. I pray protection, love and strength over your life. 

p.s. When I’m not here, you can find me on my Facebook Vlog where I (kinda) regularly make social and political commentary.

T

© Tessy Maritim

2016 Sign-Off

We’re two weeks away from the end of this year and the beginning of a new one.

2016 has been magical, joyful, sweet. 

This year, I’ve experienced immense joy and excitement. I’ve seen the expanse of life through people and places, both new and old. It’s important to rely on people- they teach you things you could never learn on your own; they take you places you could never go on your own. Cherish the love, the laughter, the unique intimacy you enjoy with the people closest to you. It’s been magic, it’s been sweet, it’s been special.

2016 has been confusing, ambiguous, difficult. 

This year, I found myself confused, struggling and fighting to keep myself together. 2016 has been peppered with many moments of self-doubt and sadness. Self doubt and sadness- important ingredients for the full-bodied life I stay in pursuit of. Every season has it’s lesson. Again, ask yourself- what is this teaching me? About myself? About others? About life? Low seasons deflate your spirit and force you to recoil- this process can be very important; for introspection, for change, for a chance to reconnect with yourself and for a chance to reconnect with God. Stay down as long as you need to but then get up and do it again. Maybe do it differently. Nevertheless, do it again and do it with God.

2016 has been hard work, tearful, victorious.

This year, I worked extremely hard. I pushed myself. I stretched myself. I worked through my academic insecurities and came out feeling as badass as they come. This victory was assuring, validating and a confirmation that indeed, every place I set my foot on belongs to me; belongs to my story.

2016 has been redemptive, healing.

This year, I found healing in myself. I nursed my wounds and took very good care of my self. My self-care practice has been peak. For this, I thank God. For working with me, negotiating with me, forgiving me, loving me, never letting me down. I found redemption in new beginnings. I look the same but things are definitely different inside- and I’m glad for this. I can make new of myself when I choose, how I choose- sweet redemption.

2016 is now over. Whatever happened, it’s now over. Look ahead, there’s something new waiting for you.

“Each fruit has its’ season”– Tessy Cherono Maritim | Nairobi, Kenya

 

Merry Christmas, friends. See you in 2017.

T

© Tessy Maritim