This Month in Music (October 2017)

Underground, London

Happy new month, friends! Here are the songs that took me through October. Enjoy.

Track List

Spirit- Kwesta ft. Wale

China Love- Victoria Kimani ft. R.City

Green Light- Cuppy and Tekno

Spice Girl- Amine

Nightshift- Commodores

Escape- Enrique Iglesias

Figures- Jessie Reyez (A COLORS Show)

Come Close- Common ft. Mary J. Blige

Big Kids- B.o.B ft. CeeLo Green and Usher

Big For Your Boots- Stormzy

T

© Tessy Maritim

Working Through

When work is difficult, it’s natural to feel like you want to stop. Difficult work requires the best of you and it’s not always effortless.

If you find yourself in a difficult space, struggling to push through and deliver what you need to do, it’s perfectly fine to pause. A pause doesn’t mean you’re quitting. A pause means you’re giving yourself the room to feel inspired again; the room for an influx of new energy to recharge you.

When it’s difficult, work through it, engage and confront the tough issues. There are things you won’t be able to run away from- because any (good) work will require you to reach far and wide and pull your best self in to action. I’ve found it useful to have quiet moments to talk to myself and ask the critical questions- What’s going on here? What are you not happy with? What can you fix? What’s the next step?

If you find yourself facing something big and difficult, find a way to unpack it- divide and conquer. It works every time. For me at least, anyway.

But it’s also necessary to realise when you should walk away from something big and difficult. You don’t have to work through every situation that comes your way. Sometimes, leave it alone.

I’ve said this before here– even the things we love to do are sometimes big and difficult. I’m learning the discipline of putting my head down and just working through the difficult things that come my way. It’s scary and sometimes very overwhelming. But I try to see the discomfort and pain as a process- shedding my skin and growing into something new.

One of my favourite songs on Sampha’s album, Process, is Plastic 100°C, where he says:

It’s so hot I’ve been melting out here
I’m made out of plastic out here

You touched down in the base of my fears
And that’s when your beauty appears

The analogy of the sun (or fire?) and melting plastic is poignant. Sometimes the things that awake our fears are vessels for the growth of new and beautiful in your life. I’m learning to not be afraid of the heat, the pressure- it may be good for me.

But, as mentioned earlier, I say this with a caveat- don’t burn out. Step back when you need to. Your life, your health and your happiness are far more important.

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.” | Alliance Francaise, Nairobi

I hope you find your rhythm again and may things come together for you!

T

© Tessy Maritim

This Month in Music (August 2017)

Music is such a central part of my life so I’ve been thinking about how to incorporate it into my blog. From this month, I’ll be sharing a monthly playlist with you- a curation of what I’ve been listening to. Music that’s made me smile, think, cry and dance. Some old tunes, some new.

Have a listen, let me know what you think.

 Track List: 

Too Fast- Sonder

Holy- Jamila Woods

Got Til it’s Gone- Janet Jackson

Teenage Love Affair- Alicia Keys

Lovestar- Common

Remember the Rain- Kadhja Bonet

Rendezvous- Craig David

Rivals- Usher ft. Future

Papa Lolo- Mose Fan Fan

This Kind Love- Patoranking ft. Wizkid

Rara- Tekno

 

Enjoy!

T

© Tessy Maritim

Facing A New Direction

 

For a time when I refused to look elsewhere.

 

My eyes were fixed. Fixated. Captured. I refused to look elsewhere.

It was gone, but I refused to look elsewhere. As if my gaze would make it reappear.

Your gaze will not make it reappear.

Your eyes will hurt. Your soul will hurt.

Look away. Or close your eyes, at the very least.

 

It’s gone, but you are here.

Listen- there’s nothing good for you there anymore. Look away.

Take your gaze elsewhere. Your eyes are not captives. Set them free, baby.

A new direction. A new bearing.

We’re looking for more. We’re looking for different. We’re looking for ourselves, again.

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:19) | Eldoret, Kenya

 

Your eyes will stop searching. Your eyes will stop seeing the same thing in a different place.

It won’t follow you forever.

A new direction. A new bearing.

 

T

© Tessy Maritim

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

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

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

Thank You, Summer Sixteen

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 so sad that I haven’t had the chance to reflect monthly in the way I intend to on this blog since February! In light of this, I’ll group the entire summer and reflect on the past few months in one post. I’m grateful for:

  • Completing my Dissertation– This has been a very difficult few months for me. I went to Kenya at the start of the summer to carry out fieldwork for my dissertation but things didn’t really unfold in the way that I had hoped. So when I got back to Edinburgh to start putting the research in order, I was very confused. I had to refocus, add new concepts, remove other things. I really couldn’t see how I’d make it through the summer. Everything seemed so large and impossible. I had guidance from my supervisor which was incredibly helpful. But the real battle for me was convincing myself that I could do it. In prayer I would say, if I can only make it to the end of today- just today. And if I could do that, I knew tomorrow would take care of itself. I broke down the months to weeks, and the weeks to days, because that was as far as I could see myself. Slowly, the days built on each other and I found myself at the end of a week. Progress. Another week. And then another. One month, finally. As the months passed, one piece of my work connected to the next and it just fell in place slowly. I feel so stretched by the experience and I’m truly a bigger person for it. To be at the end of that journey gave me peace and an incredible gratitude to God for carrying me through. My help comes from You.
  • Intentional Self-Care– One of my resolutions this year was to religiously replenish myself, so this summer was held together by daily doses of very intentional self-care. I read poetry. Did a lot of colouring. Cried when I needed to (which if you know me was often, lol). Took some days off. Talked to God. Necessary.
  • Friends– I am so so grateful to have shared these past few months with my friends. It was so great to lean on each other and find solace in a mutual struggle. Love you’zzzzz.
  • Views– Every season of life has a soundtrack and this summer I found myself listening to Views. I’m not even that big of a Drake fan but somehow found myself drawn to his music. My favourite tracks are: RedemptionFaithful, Fire & Desire and my absolute favourite, U With Me? (which is actually a sample of DMX’s ‘How’s It Going Down‘). For what a difficult summer it’s been, Views has been a great companion.
  • Pitch It/My Nairobi– This summer, The Arena also had it’s first edition of Pitch It! As a team, it was incredible to see what we worked on finally come to life. But as always, there’s room for us to make improvements. A few years ago a friend told me, “Errors accumulate in the sketch and compound in the model. But better an imperfect dome in Florence than cathedrals in the clouds“. I’m guided by this and look forward to working with the team to building a better dome! You can check out this and this for a glimpse of what went down on the day.
  • Watching Friends & Family’ Win– This summer was also very special for a few of my friends and family who achieved milestones in different areas of their lives. Although I wasn’t able to celebrate with all of them, I made a toast for each of their achievements from my desk at the library. Very celebratory, I know.
  • Dakar in Edinburgh– Last week I went to witness the magic that is Senegalese music legend, Youssou N’Dour! It was such a great gig, I was so moved and inspired. The crowd was also amazing and made the experience even more meaningful.

Despite it seeming like a long, never-ending low season, this summer will be special and memorable for me. I’m carrying forward so many lessons and I’m at peace with where I am now.

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Summer glow captured by my friend, Anne | Manchester, England

Love You and Thank You, Summer Sixteen!

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