This Month in Music (January 2018) ft. Jaden Smith, Jorja Smith and Jidenna

Nairobi, Kenya

January is coming to a close- thank God! Here’s what I’ve been listening to all of this month. Enjoy!

Track List

Let Me Down- Jorja Smith ft. Stormzy

Fast Car- Tracy Chapman

Naked- James Arthur

Rehab- Rihanna ft. Justin Timberlake

Boomerang- Jidenna

George Jeff- Jaden Smith

Run Me Dry- Bryson Tiller

Said- Nasty C and RunTown

I Took a Pill in Ibiza (Seeb Remix)- Mike Posner

Easy to Love- Bucie ft. Heavy K

No Drama- Tinashe ft. Offset

T

© Tessy Maritim

The 25th Hour

I was really keen to improve on my reading habits last year. As a student, I rarely read leisurely because I associated it with academic pressure. I tried to get as far away as possible from books in my spare time. Time outside my studies would be spent engaging with people, exercising or watching shows.

I only recently started using reading as a tool to relax. But then, where is the time? My days are super busy and finding time in the evening often seems elusive.

Sometime last year I started reading in the car on the way to work in the morning. And it became a habit. Soon, I found myself finishing books that were taking me months to read.

I’ve realised I don’t need to set aside a period to sit down and read. I can make use of the spaces in my day where I’m unoccupied:

  • on the commute to and from work/school
  • at lunchtime
  • at a cafe while waiting for someone
  • in waiting rooms
  • on a road trip (although if you get nauseous on long car rides like me, you might need to minimise)

The thing is to keep the book you’re reading in your bag so you can grab it whenever. Those 10/15/30 minutes of reading while in traffic add up and help you finish books. I rarely read at home. Most of my reading is done while out and about.

This approach has really helped me be more efficient with time in general- if you find yourself having no time, think about how to utilise your small in-between times. 10 minutes can be little, but it can also be sufficient time to advance many of the small (or big) tasks.

Nairobi, Kenya

Last year I read (in the order I read them):

  • Coconut by Kopano Matlwa
  • The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
  • Kitchen Table Series by Carrie Mae Weems
  • The Big Conservation Lie by Mordecai Ogada and Mbaria wa Mbaria
  • Dusk in the Morning by Kap Kirwok
  • Building a Movement to End The New Jim Crow by Daniel Hunter
  • Female Circumcision and the Politics of Knowledge by Obioma Nnaemeka
  • The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

On my list this year:

  • Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
  • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
  • The Wretched of The Earth by Frantz Fanon
  • Matatu: A History of Popular Transportation in Nairobi by Kenda Mutongi

What else should I read? Let me know.

T

© Tessy Maritim

Good Writing

Happy New Year, friends! I’m feeling very happy and relaxed. I had a really good December. And I left 2017 feeling light but grounded. You want to relieve yourself of the burdens that make the journey ahead heavy while still staying rooted in the things that give you clarity and a sense of direction.

I’m starting my year off finishing Arundhati Roy’s ‘The God of Small Things‘. Heh- I don’t know what to say. It’s an exquisite book. Wonderfully and delicately written. I’ve always struggled to give an answer to the question ‘What’s your favourite book?‘. Now I have a response.

This year, I want to become a better writer. I really enjoy writing. I also think it’s an essential skill- to be able to communicate and articulate your ideas clearly. I’ve been trying to flesh out what it means to be a good writer and obviously there’s no universal standard. I’m not going to be Arundhati Roy. Or Chimamanda. I’m Tessy– and that’s all I’ll ever be. But there’s a gap between where I am and where I’d like to be and 2018 is about closing that gap. Or at least, moving as close as possible to it. Practice makes perfect, ama?

I’ll also continue to read. For new ideas. For fresh vocabulary. To see the possibilities and to push them. I think readers make better writers.

 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together (Colossians 1:17) | Knightsbridge, London

I’m asking myself, what does it mean for me if I’m a better writer? Writing is how I express myself. Becoming a better writer is about making room to understand myself more deeply. For people who love me to understand better. To know what I think. To know how I think. To be honest. To document and capture a journey that sometimes feels unbearable. To read this and remember what I’ve been able to overcome. To see the distance traveled. To bear witness.

I’m approaching 2018 with deep conviction and intention. It’s going to be beautiful!

T

© Tessy Maritim

Before We Close

We’re wrapping up 2017 and what a year it’s been! My year has been guided by a deep desire to explore and expand. I’ve been excited to learn about areas not typically within my purview- Kenya’s problematic conservation principles, emergency healthcare courtesy of the film 18 Hours and lots of new music (which I’ve been sharing via my playlists here). It’s been great to be back in Nairobi permanently- I feel settled.

2017 was also led by an intention to be really active about the things I wanted to have in my life. I shared this quote by Akwaeke Emezi a while back and it’s been central to this idea:

It might not be advice per se, but I will never forget my mother telling me once how she realised 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

Being fundamentally responsible for my life has not meant I don’t engage or depend on other people. It’s just an understanding that I’m the only person accountable for my life. For all the things I desire- emotionally, physically, mentally, professionally, I’m responsible for: identifying the needs, establishing how to meet these needs and taking the steps to have these needs met.

I want 2018 to be the year in which I anchor myself more deeply. Since moving back, it feels like I’ve been catching and keeping up with so much. And although it’s been great, it’s also been terribly overwhelming and has made me feel burnt out at many points in the past year. In 2018, I want to focus on fewer areas but with some more depth. I also want to build better relationships with people across the board. I’m excited about this.

Some 2017 highlights for me that I’m carrying forward to the new year:

  1. Always carry your charger. Even if you think your phone is charged enough. Just put it in your bag.
  2. Be consistent. Try not to abandon the seeds that you plant with so much zeal, just because you get bored. Give them time to bloom! Water them, feed them, give them sunlight.
  3. Make a list of all your favourite things to do in your city. Or all the things you’ve been wanting to do but haven’t had a chance to do yet. It’ll make things easy when you have friends visiting.
  4. Listen to people- useful information doesn’t always come through the channels you think.
  5. Create the experiences you desire.
  6. Plan for things even when you don’t have the resources. And then start with what you have. Just start.

Wishing you all a dope, exciting, special, rich, lovely and wonderful 2018!

T

© Tessy Maritim

October Debrief (Audio Post)


captured in Nandi County

Introducing my monthly ‘Debrief’ in which I subject you to a little ramble about how my month went. Basically, new format to my previous ‘Thank You’ posts!

I hope you enjoy it! Press play, below:

References made:

  • Tetu Shani– find him on Instagram and check him out on YouTube
  • MatchMentor– would love to see you there! Please come or share with someone you know who could benefit from the event. Link here with all the details on the mentors, sessions and how to get tickets.

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© 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

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

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

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

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.

IMG_2308

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

Love You and Thank You, Summer Sixteen!

T

© Tessy Maritim