Two brains – the curtains close

I’m at the tail end of the 100 Day Challenge. In fact I’m both at the tail and the end because this is my 100/100th post.

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So this morning, I was watching my Left Brain and Right Brain trying to have a decent conversation about the experience. They called in some media guy, they called me too, but we both declined to join them instead pulling chairs, to listen to them talk:

Left Brain [L.B]: So tell me, how did the 100 day challenge begin?

Right Brain [R.B]: [Clears throat] It all started with the questions. ‘Why do some people succeed and others fail? Is there a single quality that if everyone possessed, they would be successful? Consistency came shouting out loud. So I challenged myself to be consistent at something. Fortunately a few other people came on board, it couldn’t have happened without them. Journeying alone is so difficult!

L.B What 3 posts have been read most?

R.B: Somehow it’s posts about real people . . . probably a pointer to the kind of writing I should do? [gazes at roof contemplatively]

  • First it was something on Rehema, my friend’s sister who passed on. Although I’d never met her, it hurt me so badly and I wrote some thoughts down. A couple of hundreds flocked to read it, and then some hundreds more each day. I could feel the blog tremble. It scared me.
  • This one on Idd Salim got some crazy views too, and it did exactly what it was meant to do > dare B.A.K.E to launch a website in his honor, and although they grafted my post to make the website, it looks more like it was just a P.R stunt during his memorial. At this point I’m not sure anyone’s interested in making his content live again
  • The last man standing made it to that list too. Salute.
  • Wait, this one too about how I was beat up. Imagine, people enjoyed reading about being beaten up :/

L.B Is there a post you felt didn’t get the attention it deserved?

R.B: Haha, certainly the life and times of a blogger. An easy going post that I thought would grow wings and fly!

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L.B: Are there any pieces that surprised you?

R.B: Oh yeah, certainly those fictional ones which traveled across blogs. Members of the challenge had a way to simmer them in genius.

L.B: How has this journey impacted you?

R.B It’s made me know that I can start something and complete it. It’s improved the quality and speed of my writing, which has gone to boost my career as a humanitarian writer. Again, reading masterpieces by bloggers everyday, has not only given me exposure on a wide array of subjects, but also contributed to improve my writing

L.B: Biggest lessons you learnt?

When you commit to something, never give yourself an excuse to miss it even once. Because when you do, it will be easier to abscond a second time, and yet another. You can do ett!

FEAR

L.B Any advice to someone just starting out?

R.B Pick your pace. One post everyday for 100 days is hectic; even feels like a chore on certain points. But it’s very much possible. If possible pick a few fields of interest/ specialize in your area of passion. In case you lapse, keep getting back up. This is a journey between you and your old self, no one else is involved. Keep on.

L.B Any crazy surprises along the way?

R.B  I was roaming online when I stumbled on another Edwin Kuria who has linked his profile to my blog! Keeps commenting on other blogs. Man, I hope he never does something crazy.

“We are the wind”   Lot of words

L.B Retirement plans

R.B We’ll cross that bridge when we get there

L.B But you’ve already crossed!

Haha, we’ll see. .

The big deal about Singapore

I attended a talk by Dr. Victor Koh from Singapore, the other day. Dr. Koh is an advisor to the Government of Kenya on Vision 2030.

I remember before he spoke, the facilitator asked: ‘How many people have been stuck sat in traffic this week?’ Every one raised their hands.

Then he asked: ‘How many people have running water in their houses 24-7, 365 days a year?’ Only two people in the whole auditorium raised their hands!

That’s how it is :/

So what’s all the fuss about Singapore?

1963, as Kenya gained independence, Singapore was a slum island. Today, if you want to see a slum, go to a museum

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I won’t delve into lessons Kenya can learn from Singapore, just present the state of things as mentioned by Dr. Koh, how the country deals with ordinary issues that face every country. . 

1. Culture of saving – Savings make up 46% of Singapore’s GDP. The country has no external debt and instead huge reserves. Citizens value delayed gratification.

“When you borrow too much, you become beholden.”

2. Housing

When we had a poor housing system, our people had every kind of disease as a result of having no running water, poor sanitation . . . Today 90 % of houses are modern houses – there’s water running at CONSTANT pressure in every house, daily garbage cleaning, piped gas, optic fibre. . .

The housing system is run by the government (national housing), residential units are up to 52 floors high.

Singapore has the world’s largest real estate. ‘We can construct a fully serviced apartment in 8 minutes – to include everything you imagine. . .’

Most Singaporeans have a house/ own a home. This is important because everyone feels they have a stake in the nation.

Singapore_Skyline_at_blue_hour_(8026584052)3. Value addition

Africa the continent with the richest mineral resources is inhabited by the majority of poorest people in the world. There is a problem.

“Why sell raw materials and then import as finished products? Why don’t we (Kenya) add value to our resources? The whole game of industrialization is value addition.”

Singapore does not have mineral resources, but “we manufacturer anything we want.”

The country manufactures some of the most expensive pharmaceuticals in the world, ‘they are customized to your specific DNA, and exclusively made for you.’

4. Security – One of best armies in region. Everyone in the country is a soldier. Remains an active soldier for 40 years.

5. Political parties – No racial or religious or tribal issues can be brought up by political parties, these are emotive issues everywhere. “In Singapore, we have a law against this.”

6. Corruption – No forgiveness on impunity. High penalties for bribes. “We pay our civil servants well” We take law enforcement seriously, don’t just have beautiful laws.

7. Crime – Vandalism and violent crimes are punished by caning. It’s meant to inflict the greatest pain.

8. On dealing with pay hikes – There are no boycotts and strikes. Tripartite system where the government, business leaders and the trade union reward productivity.

“Wages have been increasing over the last 50 years. Everyone takes a pay cuts too during recession. We believe a pay cut is better than (retrenchment) no pay.

9. Unemployment – There are more employment opportunities than the people. There is over employment. We seek skilled professionals all over the world to work in our country at the same pay as nationals.

10. Central providence fund – The 20% that citizens save, pours into 3 main funds: Housing, catastrophic health issue, and retirement.

11. Port – Best harbor in the world, not due to size, but number of ships and movement. A ship is offloaded and loaded within 12 hours and it’s out of the harbor.

12. Public system – No traffic in Singapore. Number 1 in e-government. You only fill one form and it’s populated across all government departments. Easiest place in the world to do business

13. Social welfare – Distribution of wealth – every year they have surplus. Distribute 50 percent to citizens.

14. Life expectancy 80.1 years

15. Economy – Singapore’s economy has been ranked as the most open in the world, 7th least corrupt, most pro-business, with low tax rates (14.2% of Gross Domestic Product, GDP) and has the third highest per-capita GDP in the world. Also the highest trade to GDP ratio in the world, averaging around 400% (Wikipedia)

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Almost unreal. I still don’t believe something like this exists. But it’s what’s possible when we dream and want the best for our people I guess. Kenya someday? Maybe. .

As I grow older . . .

 . . . will I give a chance to the young,

or will I scrape for opportunities with them?

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Will my wife, happily grow old with me,

or will ours be a nightmare, an unending horror movie?

Shall I be friends with my in-laws,

Or an outlaw?

___

Present to do school assignments with my sons, daughters;

guide during the raging torrents of adolescence,

or will I be too busy pursuing wealth?

___

Will I be a decisive leader,

or a weakly hungry to please, tainted, immoral head?

___

Give to charity and ministry,

or take and take till it rots?

___

Photo credit | sunriserounds.com

Photo credit | sunriserounds

Will humanity be grateful I walked in their midst,

or will I sneak out from the back door unnoticed?

Lessons from 4 boxes

1. Cut out the noise!

A good photo does not include background details that require cropping out. The photographer captures only what is necessary.

At Photography school, I’m learning that it’s better to take 20 usable photos than 100 meaningless ones – a great photo begins by restricting only what you require, to the frame.

Detail

So is life: you only say what’s necessary as clearly and precisely as you can.

2. Contain it, and breathe . . .

Work unfortunately expands to fill all available time. When we’re not careful how much it spills over to affect other spheres of our lives, we will come tumbling down.

Balance

3. The ‘big break’

Often we are waiting for the ‘big break’ – a point in life when we will have adequate time or money to do what we’ve always wanted.

Yet a full life is waiting in the tiny spaces of time we have every day, the little monies we have that can be invested and accumulate over time. This is the difference between two people with similar goals, with similar time allotments – we all have 24 hours each day, we’ll never have more than this.

Content of life

During one of the busiest times in my life recently, I managed to complete 2 books in 2 days. It’s probably because I set my mind to use the little breaks in my day, and when night came, I stayed on to read one more chapter, and then another]. Sometimes passion sees no difference between day and night. It’s in how we spot those little gaps, and take them!

 

4. The 24584#$$#$$%$ keys to be happy!

How often do we wait for a circumstance outside of us to change so we can be happy? Or someone else. We have all we need within us to be happy.

Awesomness

Take responsibility of that, no blaming.

My struggle with the bus preacher

My ears will instinctively switch to airplane mode whenever a bus preacher jumps on board.

Bus-preacher

Photo credit | thenet.ng

I will get offended before he opens his mouth, and although I’ll try not to fumble with my phone, staring outside the window the whole time is not sustainable either.

Some take too long, others are too dramatic, and yet others offer misleading doctrine. But there are those who show up, keep it short and leave. They don’t even collect offering.

It’s these ones who leave me with a tinge of regret. Because the whole time I kept myself distracted, especially waiting for them to screw up and alight. Alight they do, they were the real deal but I was too busy.

It’s similar to that one friend who suddenly starts sending unsolicited devotional messages at an alarming frequency. The first time you respond with words like deep, refreshing but when you realize they won’t stop, you pay back by stopping to read those spam messages.

Is it because we subliminally feel that our personal space is under threat, and anyone approaching must either beg for permission or enter rather cautiously? Probably some form of pride in the name of being careful.

Yet when you get deeper as a Christian, you can’t keep some messages to yourself either and just like them, become a chief spammer. Karma 🙂 Because no one else really cares.

It’s just how it is.

But maybe listening to the next bus preacher may not be so difficult, or could it be simply a matter of only giving short messages? I still struggle. . .

What’s your take?

A guide to surviving in a distant land

Straight after campus, I shot off to the horn of Africa region where I lived and worked for one and a half years. Being without family and close friends was tough. I watched some relationships crumble, others slowly fade.

My job was great, but loneliness would strike on slow days and refuse to leave. I remember staring at my phone, wishing someone, anyone could call me!

On the outside I must have looked like I was having THE best time of my life. I did sometimes, but others I crumbled inside – which is the reality for most folk abroad.

So it scared me when a friend abroad recently deactivated her Facebook account, and then another.

When we feel like nobody understands what we’re going through, the temptation is to isolate ourselves even more. We quit trying and plunge into toxic relationships, addictions as we sink further into the cave of solitude. And who knows where that ends?

For anyone living far away from familiar environments, you may find a few tips useful. They helped me in a hostile humanitarian environment:

How to cope

1. Find a support group

When you live far away you either survive as a heavy drunkard or a straight-as-a mirror Christian. It rarely works well in-between. The best decision I made was to join a good church. Although I played nominal Christian, when I eventually joined a Bible study group, my spirit was refreshed.

2. Get a hobby

Mine was drawing. If you’re an outdoor person, frequent the gyme and play active games with people in your line, and with village folk too. If you love reading, stock your library with books you enjoy. Movies sometimes can get depressing if it’s all you do for entertainment.

3. Grow your network

Whenever you exchange business cards, make it a point of contacting and meeting up with them soon. Such simple exchanges can go a long way.

4. Study your Bible

Psalms 119 had a way of uplifting my spirit

5. Keep a journal

I never got to do this, but my colleague who’s been in the humanitarian industry for decades has been recording almost every single day in a journal. I’m told it has a way of helping to reflect clearer and making better judgments over time.

6. Develop a routine

I had a colleague who would head straight to the kitchen, fix a hot cup of coffee and sit on a chair at a corner in the compound sipping it slowly. That’s how every single day begun for him. Another would watch the morning darkness lift, as he sat outside listening to the radio.

Is there something you can do everyday?

7. Know your surrounding, learn cultural etiquette, learn the local language and keep an open mind

 

The point of it all is to nourish your spirit, grow your skills during un-utilized time, being busy and fitting right in. That way you keep off lots of trouble, believe me.

Do you have a friend, sibling living in a distant land?
Pick up the phone and call them!

 

There is something about her . . .

. . . she’s delicately seated a few tables away, sipping from divine awesomeness. My camera and I are mesmerized at her feline ways – the lenses zoomed to 1000%.

We’re clicking.

Wondering, maybe we could clique . . .

I get back to the table, my index finger sore at all the snapping; when she reaches out and passes her share of dessert. To me. This girl I’d never met. .

Like a gentleman I accept the [love] offering with a gracious bow – my heart wildly drumming.

How can it not be heard?