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.

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

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

What I’ve Learnt From 3 Years in The Arena

In August this year, it’ll be 3 years since we started The Arena. I thought of waiting until then to write this as an anniversary commemoration post but I’m feeling the urge to write and post it immediately.

Working on something you love is difficult. A labour of love soon morphs into something laborious. There was a time I really disliked being asked about The Arena. I would brush it off and say, “it’s just this thing I’m working on“. I was confused about what we were doing and I didn’t want any questions because I didn’t have answers to give. It was messy. Everything was under construction (everything is still under construction). And it scared me that we were out here for the world to watch but things were not quite in place.

The Arena is about not being afraid. It’s about taking your imperfections out in the open because that’s where they become productive and lead you towards your purpose. So in worrying and panicking, I was contradicting myself- teaching one thing, practising another. 

I’m learning to change that slowly. And in honour of this, I’d like to share some of the important lessons I’ve learnt so far, courtesy of The Arena.

  • Treat your work seriously- It’s a job like any other. If you’re a student, it can be difficult to balance your time but allocate a few hours each week to working on it. Protect the energy within the organisation. Build a culture in the way you work that’s unique to you. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have an office or revenue streams yet- work as if you do.
  • Be consistent with your work– This isn’t necessarily about being consistent on your public platforms. I think it’s more important to be consistent behind the scenes. I’ve found that sometimes there’s a pressure to keep up with the image people expect of you and you end up rushing just to be seen to be doing something. It’ll drive you crazy and it’s not worth it. Focus your energy on being consistent with your vision. Don’t worry about keeping up with expectations- stay committed to your vision.
  • End working relationships with people who don’t take your work seriously– Everyone wants to be part of something that looks glossy, light and fun to do. But the truth is that before you get to the glossy, light and fun part, there are a lot of difficult hurdles to jump over. Not everyone can handle that. Very few people are willing to stick it out through to the end. And that’s okay. But you should never compromise your work to keep people comfortable. If you allow sloppy work at the early stages of your business, that’s the work culture you build for your organisation. Only work with people willing to work as hard as you do. Quality over quantity.
  • Be professional- Package your work well enough to circulate. It makes it easier to get support when you have something for people to share. Here’s a website that makes it super easy for you to make your own promo material.
  • Let go, go with the flow– Allow ideas to change. Sometimes you lose more by holding on. Relax, it’ll be fine.

FullSizeRender (9)

When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision; then it becomes less & less important whether I am afraid” (Audre Lorde) | Loch Katrine, Scotland

Your work will change over time and that’s an inevitable part of the journey. Just remember to hold on to the vision. Remind yourself why you started, often. It’s what will carry you through the most difficult days. Stay in love with your work.

T

© Tessy Maritim

p.s. This is the quote that inspires the name ‘The Arena’:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Theodore Roosevelt, 1910  

On Darkness, Demons and (self) Destruction

Marshawn McCarrel, a 23 year old American activist, died last week from self-inflicted gunshot wounds. This is the message he left on his Facebook,

My demons won today. I’m sorry.

I read those words and felt defeated. I feel defeated because it reminds me of the helplessness I feel watching people close to me suffer emotionally and mentally.

Unlike physical pain, which is typically overt, emotional and/or mental pain is very difficult to detect. You can spend time with someone and be completely unaware of the demons they wrestle.

But soon, they can no longer hide the darkness.

You notice that they look different. Sound different. The energy is different.

Is everything okay?

They promise their okay. They smile at you, laugh with you and things flow back to their usual.

But it doesn’t last long. The darkness is persistent.

You hope. You pray. You hug them, tight.

You reassure them endlessly, “I’m here for you, you know that“.

If your love could heal them, it would.

But they can’t receive the love. They can’t help it.

You get angry with them. Please, stop self-destructing.

But mental illness isn’t self-destruction. It’s like someone falling over, cutting their arm and then telling them to stop the bleeding. How?

There’s no switch on or off button for mental illness. It creeps into your life and you wonder how, why – I didn’t invite you..?

Here’s what I know- you can’t fix people. You can try- but it’s an exercise in futility. You don’t have magic healing power. Healing comes from within. Healing comes from God.

So don’t take it personally when your efforts are met with no response- it’s not about you.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep trying. Or that you won’t cry endlessly knowing that someone you love so much is in such pain.

You would give anything to see them whole again.

But again, just remember- it’s not about you.

IMG_5268

See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you.”  (Isaiah 60:2) | Glasgow, Scotland

For mental health information and support, check out:

 

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

#faves: Blogs & Vlogs

When I started blogging in 2012, I didn’t have much to look up to except for the few gossip blogs that would often pop up on my timeline.

Today, I relish the work of so many thoughtful, engaging, creative and inspiring content creators. It’s beautiful to watch journeys start out, metamorphoses and move-making right before my eyes!

This #faves post pays homage to some bloggers and vloggers whose work inspires me (not in any particular order).

writing to lift your spirits// Hayet Rida | thathayetrida.com

photo via www.thathayetrida.com

If you want raw, heartfelt writing, look no further than Hayet Rida’s blog. I love that she uses her blog as a space to uplift herself and others. She seems like the kind of friend who’d sit opposite me at a cafe chatting about life over copious amounts of tea, cake and laughter. She’s basically my spirit sister-friend. Her style and hair is also sooo swoon-worthy! Yum.

comedy with a conscience// Chesca Leigh | youtube.com/chescaleigh 

Chesca Leigh

photo via franchesca.net

Chesca Leigh is remarkable. I came across her work earlier this year when I had just started making my own vlogs. Although I am not a comedian myself, her content inspires many of the topics I speak about. I love that she makes profound social and political commentary in an accessible and easily understood format.

photography & lifestyle// Cynosure by Lyra Aoko | lyraoko.com

Lyra Aoko

photo via lyraoko.com

I love the clean aesthetic on Lyra Aoko’s blog. Her photography is beautiful and I can hear her authentic voice through her content. I also keenly follow her segment ‘Play Kenyan Music‘ which features new Kenyan music each month. Truly an all-rounded lifestyle blog!

africa to the world// Siyanda Writes | siyandawrites.com

Siyanda Mohutsiwa

photo via siyandawrites.com

I first came across Siyanda’s name and work on my Twitter timeline. The first line on her Twitter bio says “I don’t come here to be governable“- it was love at first follow! Her content is witty, smart and stimulating. She writes book reviews, speaks about black consciousness and has a dope vlog called ‘Africa This Week With Siyanda‘ featuring hot topics across the continent. Another spirit sister-friend!

p.s. Please support her as she raises money for her project ‘Africa this Week’. Details here.

I’m grateful to each one of these content creators and many others- for being a reminder of the power of stepping up to be seen and heard. Wishing you all much love and flourishing!

 

T

© Tessy Maritim