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

Womanhood, Likeability and #IWD2016

Today is International Women’s Day. International Women’s Day celebrates the contributions of women across all spheres of life. I could write an endless list of phenomenal women who inspire and challenge me but I’d like to focus instead on three of my favourite women- my Mom and sisters, Tebby and Tania

I grew up around mostly women so I’ve learnt and understood that women come in different shapes and sizes- physically, mentally and emotionally. Some of us love the kitchen. Some of us don’t. Some of us love the workplace. Some of us don’t. Some find meaning bearing children. Some don’t. But we’re all still women. 

For this open-mindedness, I have my Mom to thank.

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Mama Tess is the original carefree black girl. Long before I became aware of the likeability politics that women often struggle with, I watched my Mom live her life unapologetically. She taught me to walk into parties by myself at an age when I was afraid to be seen without friends. She taught me not to centre my life around the opinions or activities of other people. Likeability was not romanticised in our house- there were (are) far more important things in life.

My mom taught me to love my hair. Not just through words, but most importantly by action. When she undid our braids, she always took her time to section it and gently comb it before we went to the salon the next day. She never said our hair was difficult, or tough or unmanageable- it was just our hair. At the salon, hairdressers would beg to put relaxer in our hair- it was too kinky and needed to be tamed. But what could be more glorious than the tufts of afro hair that grew graciously out of our heads? You couldn’t convince my Mom otherwise.

My mom is also an amazing storyteller. She’s animated, she’s expressive, she’s full of life. Ask her about her day and she’ll tell you about it in vivid detail- from start to finish. That’s my mom- thorough and deliberate and never wanting to miss a detail. She can sense when something has gone wrong. She’ll tell you your mood before you realise it yourself. She knows when one of her glasses is missing. Basically, she runs a tight ship.

My mom is also an aspiring member of our sister squad- I don’t blame her. My sisters and I are inseparable. You could give us all the beds in the world, but we still want to squeeze together in one bed.

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My sister Tebby follows me in age, but too often precedes me in thinking. Occasionally, when I’m not in the mood to act grown, she’ll take over and do a damn good job at it. She’s my big little sister. She loves the Lord. And I love that she loves the Lord. You can hear life speak through her. She also cooks and bakes the most delightful food and treats. If there’s a cooking gene, it missed me and found a home in her. Can you help me pressure her to start a bakery soon? Thanks.

Tania is our littlest, but tallest and fiercest sister. She’s a fairy- always in her own world, but a magical being in every sense of the word. She stands up to the big ones, with no fear of contradiction- you can’t get away with much with her. She is grounded in herself and moves with a confidence that I can only wish I had at 16. Tania is the one person I feel comfortable taking my picture- she gets my aesthetic visual preferences. She also beats me up and bullies me. Mom, I hope you’re reading this.

Happy Women’s Day, Mama, Tebz and Tania. I love you!

 

To all women,

Do not live someone else’s life and someone else’s idea of what womanhood is. Womanhood is you, womanhood is everything that’s inside of you” – Viola Davis

 

T

© Tessy Maritim

Thank You, January

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:

  • New Beginnings– Sometimes you need the convenience of a New Year to push you to reset the areas in your life that need a little watering and tender care. That was the start of 2016 for me. I shared more in this post.
  • Colouring In Between The Lines–  Literally. I bought a colouring book and it’s brought me so much joy. For anyone who enjoys creative meticulousness with the same enthusiasm as I do, I’d encourage you to purchase a colouring book. It’s not only so fun but excellent for your mental health. Indulge! Here’s the link to the one I have.
  • A-Team of Life– We finally unveiled our new A-Team! If you’ve been keeping up with The Arena, you know we’ve been going through recruitment for our new A-Team. The process has been so exciting and I can’t express how hopeful I am for the future. The Arena is a labour of love but I’ve learnt some difficult lessons along the way. Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people. Quality over quantity. Make no mistake- business is business.
  • #Goals– One of my new year’s resolutions came into fruition and it was not as great as I hoped it would be. I’m planning on riding it out as much as I (mentally and emotionally) can and then I’ll see what to do. Goals aren’t always as magical as you imagine them to be. And that’s okay. Not everything needs to feel magical, right? Fairytales are for books.

 

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“Coming together is a beginning; Keeping together is progress; Working together is success” – Henry Ford | Nairobi, Kenya

 

Thank you, January.

T

© Tessy Maritim

On Things That Don’t Feel Right (And How To Deal With Them)

I’m reflecting on the things in my life that haven’t felt right.

I like to think that I’m a (generous) giver of chances. A patient friend. The kind of person who will stick things out. Because for me, if I love and care for you, I’m here for keeps.

Jobs, friendship(s), relationship(s).

There are things, activities and people that fit seamlessly into our lives. No questions asked. And there are things, activities and people that every bone in our body repel. Stay away.

But it’s not always discernible. The pendulum oscillates- it feels uneasy and then, it’s really good.

This isn’t so bad!

Okay, just a few more weeks and then I’m done.

Is it that serious?

How often do we talk ourselves into staying in places and with people who sap the life out of our souls?

And by the time you realise, you’re already waist deep, trying to pull yourself out. Trying so desperately to stay afloat.

I guess there’s something in all of us that is drawn to the glistening charm of potential. We want things and people that will come into our lives and fill the missing spaces. But in that headspace, we get it wrong. We get trapped into setting expectations for people who have no desire to fit into those spaces. We see in them only what we want for ourselves.

And then we take it personally. Stop catching feelings. 

So when something doesn’t fit quite right in your life, how long before it’s time to let go? I don’t know.

All I can say is that from experience, and as with many other things in life, there is no silver bullet. I would tell you to remember why you started. Why were you there in the first place? But I know that the reasons for going in are not always the reasons for staying. So, how do you reconcile the two?

Use your intuition. Watch your body language. Pray. Seek counsel. Let time run its course. Tap into experience.

If it’s not complicated, don’t overcomplicate it.

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The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18) | Edinburgh, Scotland

There’s a resolve in each one us. Find it. Draw strength from it. Because it can’t be found anywhere else.

Pull through.

T

© Tessy Maritim

The Battle Behind The Scenes

For most people, myself included, the new year is about a new resolve, a renewed vigour and a refreshed spirit. I love that about new beginnings! It gives you the opportunity to just start again. And we all need that from time to time.

My new beginning this year is quite stoic. Despite the fact that we’re in a new year, there is a still a lot that I carry forward from 2015. And I guess that’s the thing about new beginnings- although you resolve to start anew, there are things you can’t separate yourself from.

So you learn to co-exist. Hence the stoicism. I’m not making a resolution to be happy for the year. I just don’t get the point of that. It denies sadness of the opportunity to transform your life in a way that only sadness can. It’s a unique process that can’t be found through any other emotion. But- I’m not asking to be sad. I’m just saying- I won’t fight the process. I’ll take what comes.

There’s a lot I’d like to do and be this year. Three of which include:

  • loving the people close to me better.
  • maxing myself out- academically and professionally.
  • replenishing myself, religiously.

I also want to continue to always be forgiving towards myself. It’s much easier for me to forgive others than myself. I disappointed myself at several points last year and after constructive introspection, I let things go, took them less as an indication of who I was and allowed myself to start again. I’d like to be the same way towards myself this year.

In 2016, I’d also like to always remember that even the work I love to do will be difficult, stressful and exhausting. That doesn’t take away from the fact that the work is still worth it. Or the fact that there’s actually no other place I would rather be.

I pray for the energy and strength to fight behind the scenes- at my desk, in meetings, in class, in conversation- because that’s where the magic really happens. It’s where my grades will be determined; where my ideas will actualise; where my mind will activate and where my spirit will grow.

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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) | Sheffield, England (picture by my sister love, Tebby)

I hope you have a flourishing, meaningful 2016!

T

© Tessy Maritim

What 2015 Taught Me

We’re about to close 2015.

Here’s what I’ve learnt over the year, in no particular order:

Friendship – 2015 has taught me that friendship is sometimes seasonal. It’s a heart-warming aspiration to want your nearest and dearest to stay close to you forever. But this year I’ve learnt that the seasonality of friendship is not an indication of a weak bond. Or that one or the other person is at fault. Falling apart can happen just as unexpectedly as your coming together.

The Pressure to Succeed – 2015 has (reminded) taught me that there’s space for all of us. Everyone seems to be move making at an exponential rate and it’s easy to feel left behind or lacking in some respect. But I’m learning that another’s success doesn’t impede on my own. I believe truly that my path has been marked out by God- just for me. It doesn’t matter how much other people seem to be doing. My time will come. Most importantly, I’m drawing so much inspiration from the success of others. There’s so much to do.

Health – 2015 taught me that health is expensive. It’s unfortunate, but it’s a price that I need to be willing to pay. On my 21st birthday, I decided to switch to a healthier lifestyle. I made a serious effort to stay fit and eat clean throughout the year but I found myself spending significantly more to maintain this. Life is about sacrifices, I guess? Additionally, I’ve failed on the healthcare front but I’m not going to make any more promises. I’m just going to do it. It’s no longer my parents’ responsibility to watch over my health. I need to own my physical, mental and spiritual well-being.

Hard work – 2015 has taught me to do more with less. It’s better to work hard on a few projects than to do everything at the same time. I have to repeat this to myself- prioritize. It’s okay to say, ‘not today’. It’s also okay to say, ‘no’.

Self-love – 2015 has taught me that I need to come to terms with self-love. What does it really mean? I’ve been asking myself- do I love myself? I think so. How do I know? I don’t know. And why is it important that I love myself?

Failing – 2015 has taught me that failure is success. There’s an element of success in every failure. You learn something new. You become something new! And that is something to celebrate and be thankful for. Failure has made me courageous, introspective and grateful. I’m focused on excellence but wholly embrace failure. Don’t shy away from it. Don’t let it shrivel you up. Allow failure to mould and shape you.

Learning – 2015 has taught me how much I don’t know. There’s just so much to learn from and so much to learn about! Most importantly, as you learn, it’s perfectly okay to construct anew. It’s easy to feel held back by what you know or believe. But I think it’s enlightening to be led by a search for truth. At the same time, learning can also strengthen and deepen your roots. Either way, don’t fight the process!

Living Away From Home – 2015 has taught me that a life away from home must continue. For the past few years, I’ve felt that my life has been on pause while I’m abroad. I often want the time to move quickly so I can go home and continue my life. I have to remind myself constantly that despite the discomfort and disconnect I feel, this too is my life. I have to remember that I carry life with me. And I need to make more of an effort in breathing life into my days, weeks and months here.

I’m so grateful for a 2015 rich in learning and experiences. God go before us all in 2016!

T

© Tessy Maritim