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:

(Updated List) All the Mentors Attending Social Changemakers #MatchMentor | The Arena Kenya

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

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

Can We Reimagine Our Online Futures?

A month ago I completed a 30-day self-prescribed social media cleanse. I deleted all my apps- Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and stayed offline for a month. It’s really not that big of a deal, but I’d like to share some thoughts on my experience.

Over the years, social media has become an important part of my day-to-day routine. I use social media to connect with family and friends, to share the projects I’m working on and to learn about what’s happening in different parts of the world. It’s been instrumental in shaping my politics and world views. The platform it gives for sharing, learning and engaging with people and issues is extraordinary.

I took the cleanse because firstly, I wanted the challenge. I’m not obsessed with being online, but I spend a lot of my time scrolling up and down newsfeed(s). I wanted to see what else I could do with my time. Do I need to tweet all my thoughts? Maybe not. Can I take a picture and enjoy its’ aesthetic without sharing it on Instagram? Probably. Secondly, I was overwhelmed. It can be terribly exhausting to wake up in the morning, read about the world’s problems and simultaneously be engaged with everyone’s lives at a pseudo-intimate level. It’s too much.

During my break, I realised I wanted to be more conscious and disciplined with how I use social media, as an integral part of my self-care practice. I want:

  • to protect the sanctity of my morning and bedtime
  • to make sure I give myself a clean (mental) space to begin and end my day with
  • to engage with myself first, before I plug into other things and people
  • to ease myself into productivity

This cleanse has also been about curating a better newsfeed for myself. Although you don’t have control over the information shared online, you can make an effort to weed out anything that doesn’t nourish, entertain or inform you.

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“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare”– Audre Lorde | Sheffield, England

The break gave me an opportunity to think about broader themes of connectedness and how they manifest in my life. I have a friend whose only means of communication is email (he doesn’t own a phone) and lately, it’s really made me think- what does it mean to be connected? I say this as someone who is on almost every social media platform. Is it necessary to be plugged in to everything? Why am I online? Sometimes it feels as if I have to build a life online as well as one offline. While this can be fruitful (the professional opportunities online are vast and incredible), it’s important, for the sake of my well-being, to be more intentional with the time I spend online and with the information I’m exposing myself to.

T

© Tessy Maritim

Tools for Transition

For a few months I’ve been going through transition. Transition is about many things. It’s an indication that we’ve outgrown a season of life. It’s a time to regroup. And depending on the nature of the transition, it may require a period of healing.

During a period of transition, you may want:

answers to questions you may have

avenues to escape

assurance that what’s to come is better than what you leave behind

On answers

Your questions don’t need answers. I thank my angel friend for teaching me this. Your questions don’t need answers. At the time she shared this with me, I was going through emotional pandemonium. I pegged my transition on answers that quite honestly, were never going to come. Her words were sharp and just what I needed- you know you don’t need an answer!? It may not always be clear to us why. But, we don’t always have to know.

My friends words were the beginning of (what seems to be) a long journey of healing. I needed to free myself from the expectation of answers so I could see the expanse of life again. Sometimes you need to free yourself so you can do beautiful things. You say, “this isn’t working“, bless the experience for what it taught you and let it go. Give yourself room to do and be more.

On avenues

So… How do you escape and begin the process of transition? How do we get out of situations that hold us hostage? You can wait until you are forcefully ejected. Or, you can do the (arguably) less painful task of unshackling yourself. Run away. Set yourself free. Do what you need to do

Give yourself the avenue. Allow yourself to start afresh. Allow yourself to face a new direction.

And once you’ve committed to a new beginning, it matters not whether the world aligns with you. Go forth, chart a new journey for yourself. Once you’ve committed to a new beginning, opinions about what you’ve done in the past have no power.

On assurance

God never lets me down. I can’t emphasise that enough. So I have that assurance. I’m focused on creating a life of exquisite things, exquisite people, exquisite experiences. I commit that to God and it gives me immense hope for a better future.

If you allowed yourself to conceive a better future, you would realise there is so much for you if you want it. Let that be your assurance. Abundance. Abundance of life. Abundance of peace. Abundance of love. Abundance of knowledge. 

Remember this– Healing is never linear. So when you find yourself going back to smallness, being consumed by the smallness, remember that it’s a necessary part of transition and healing. Keep going.

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The sky is too big for two birds to clash” (Heard on an episode of An African City| Sheffield, England 

The world is vast. I wish you the courage to set yourself free, always. 

T

© Tessy Maritim

It is Finished

Full (.adj) not lacking or omitting anything; complete

Regret typically consists of looking back and feeling a sense of incompleteness. Like there’s something you could have done better in a particular situation. Like an experience ended too quickly. We wish things were different. Maybe longer. Or shorter. Perhaps in a different context. Or at a different time. But my own experience has taught me that everything is complete in and of itself. Including me.

I’m a true ambassador for exerting yourself fully in fixing friendships, repairing relationships, making amends and correcting mistakes wherever they may arise in life. But that also comes with the knowledge that there’s a divine plan for life that may not align with your own. Sometimes there’s too much of a reliance on our own plans that when things don’t work out the way we intend them to, we feel like we’ve missed out on something. But what looks unfinished from your perspective is actually complete in the way it was intended.

And framing life in this completeness makes it easier to let go and move on to the new chapters of life, because you understand that there’s nothing more you can squeeze out. It is finished. And if our lives are complete, then we ourselves are also complete. Complete in who we are and complete in our actions. Complete because at any one moment, we have everything we need at that point to deal with each encounter. Complete because whether or not we realise it, everything we have done or not done is as it was supposed to be.

For me the completeness of life and experiences and ourselves is also in every sense a biblical allusion. I link it to the love I feel God has for me and the understanding of God’s divine plan (Jeremiah 29:11). Despite the depth of sadness or low moments, when we look at our lives as complete, we can understand that they fit into the overall puzzle of our lives that in God’s eyes is perfect. When we look at ourselves as complete, we realise that even mistakes, poor judgment and failures are also features of the overall picture. There’s nothing that you can do to take away from this fullness because your life is bigger than any one moment. Your life is big, grand, magnificent. Complete.

I often pray for a rich life but forget that a rich life is the culmination of ALL seasons- high, low and everything in between. If we selected just certain parts, we’d be taking away from that richness. Leave it to God.  

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I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18) | Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh

Try not to be paralysed when life doesn’t transpire the way you want it to. Find the courage to face a new direction because your life is full- in this moment and in the end. 

T

© Tessy Maritim