Monday, 25 July 2016

#SaturdayAdventures: Maisha Moto - In Conversation with Doreen Baingana


Where imagination can run wild...Maisha Gardens

 " Keep alert to your imagination" ~ Doreen Baingana
Over the weekend I went to Maisha Gardens for  'Maisha Moto : In Conversation with Doreen Baingana'. She published her short story collection titled 'Tropical Fish' in 2005. It revolves around the lives of family in entebbe Uganda. Please do get her book if you can.

"I stole from my life"~ Doreen Baingana

Doreen says fiction is a great way to explore different perspectives on life without judgement. I totally agree on this point. Sometimes a story is the best way to teach people some good life lessons. It's a format that has been used for centuries.  She says she would like to see more fiction about Africa told through the eyes of Africans. She pointed out a particular niche where we lack a clear voice on our continent,  travel writing. In fact she started of by sharing a piece she wrote about a recent trip to Nigeria.

While judging the Caine's Prize she felt non- native speakers brought an added flavor to the English language making their stories richer and more enjoyable.  When someone asked about whether Africans are forced to write the typical African story to ensure they get published, she simply reiterated the fact that that no matter the story if the writing is good, " I don't see how you will get rejected! Make sure the writing is superb. " 

She is currently working on a novel, I am eagerly awaiting it's release..

By the way Maisha Gardens is stunning!! Some gorgeous piece of paradise right next to Cassia Lodge.

Anytime you get the chance it is totally worth visiting, even if its just to snap a few lovely pictures.....
This is me trying to be interesting... the pressure on Instagram...LOL.... #HappilyFlawed

 Had to get that Selfie with Doreen Baingana

To start off Doreen Baingana shared a beautiful piece of writing about her recent trip to Nigeria


Me!


Saturday, 23 July 2016

A LESSON @ 30 : LOVE DOESN’T WIN…


 
You need to read his book if you haven't done so...


 
 Love is a REALLY powerful. But is it's strength really that useful? 

I don’t know. Romeo and Juliet killed each other. Didn’t they send a whole army of ships after Helen of Troy? I hope she was worth it…..

 I feel so defeated saying this, but I must confess. I have let people get to me.

 I have let the worst possible people get to me. I have let them ruin a fundamental part of who I am. The part that believes in love. I am  at that point in my life movie where I want to chuck the bottle into the sea and never look back. Literally. Please God don’t send that troublesome two-timing lying bottle flowing back……

 What if it’s just too overwhelming for me? Maybe I’m like a child who gets given chocolate/sugar for the first time. I’m that child who got that sugar rush and run around the house for a full hour afterwards. It was just too much for me!  I can’t anymore… I don’t know how to be patient, and hope I figure it out.
Either all my cards are on the table or they’re not… I don’t know how to bluff!


“ But you are always too intense
   Frightening in the way you want him
   Unashamed and sacrificial.” ~ Warsan Shire



I am not a poetry expert or that much of a fan but I feel poetry should speak to your soul. That quote speaks to  MY SOUL. It makes me sing gospel like Aretha Franklin in my head … so I had to place it somewhere. Please bare with me as I chop, dissect, mold,  pound and cook the ingredients of this story into a lovely meal of a blog post  for you. Forgive me for the sad aftertaste, I have  yet to discover the right kind of seasoning to disguise it.   

When people ask me about grief, I often tell them about the strangeness of losing my mother.

One odd moment still stands out. 

I remember us. When I say us I mean my siblings, their wives (soon to be), their children, and family friends who I consider siblings all hurdled up in the masters bedroom upstairs, looking through family albums.

Theses albums were created by my mother. She always had a camera. ALWAYS.  Do you remember those cameras in the 90’s? The one which required you to carefully roll out part of the film. Do you remember the rewinding sound? Do remember how you had to try so hard not to touch the film? That was my mum….. always prepared to capture that moment; to capture those memories for the  albums. It’s really a wonder she never became a professional photographer. I mean she knew nothing about technology in that way, but she certainly enjoyed taking photos of the people she loved. 


So there we were all hurdled together, a day after her death looking for photos to put in her funeral book. You know the one that has the order of mass, the hymns, and a short bio of  the deceased? Yes, that one.  I am not sure how this odd moment occurred but somehow it did. All I  can tell you is that grief is strange.  Maybe it was my mother’s spirit upon us , who knows?  She always loved bringing people together. She really was the quintessential definition of ‘ home’. Anyways …two minutes into looking through the albums, we started recalling the stories behind these captured moments , and before you know it we were laughing, the fresh mourning tears were still streaming down our faces…but we were laughing. All those happy childhood memories came flooding back, including the awkward moments where our mother would pull out the camera and chase us down till she got her photo.

As we flipped through the pages, pulling out our favourite photos, I had one of my famous epiphanies. 

It was really special. 

My heart is smiling as I write about these next few sentences. 

I figured out what my mother's legacy was.  

Her legacy was LOVE

It was LOVE. 

It will always be LOVE.

My mother’s legacy was her ABILITY TO LOVE. She LOVED hard and she LOVED strong.  I don’t know anybody in my life who can LOVE like my mother did.  That’s what they said at her funeral. They said her heart was too big. They said people could wrong her and she’d still be there. I don’t know whether they wanted to give the impression that it was her weakness, but it stayed with me. People failed my mother. People knowingly failed my mother multiple times. I feel like the world was always telling her to seek power, to be vengeful, and ditch people when they misbehaved. She couldn’t. It wasn’t her nature. She was loyal.   Lord knows she should have been treated better by those around her, and they know it too. Yet they want to make it her mistake; they want to make it seem like she was flawed in that way.


   "You can’t make a home out of human beings
   Someone  should have told you that.” ~ Warsan Shire

When I look in the mirror, I see her. I see her cheeks. I see her lips. I see my mother’s vulnerability staring back at me.   I love all those things about my mother, but  I wonder if they are things I need to change in myself. I don’t know if I am as strong as her .  I hate that when I break up with  a boyfriend they never truly leave my essence. I still love them despite all that they are. Which brings me back to the question that I asked earlier……. Is the power of love really that useful? The world keeps telling me that Love doesn’t win

Love.  Doesn’t.  Win.

I need to pack up my favorite fairytales and romantic comedies, the ones that I had stashed away to share with my daughter someday. It’s time to give them away.

 I am so sad I am coming to this realization.  I have to throw away that part of me that that was holding on to ‘love wins’. Is it a just a concept? An idea that was constructed? One that stayed with us for centuries until we thought it was true, like a really good myth, a story some grandma told long ago.

There is no happy ending to this story, except maybe the fact that I was able to write it, and now hopefully let it go. 



Monday, 18 July 2016

Why I Called My Blog Happily Flawed...

Forgive the mistakes please...






I needed a place to write.

I needed to commit myself to something that required me to write regularly.

I needed to get over the fear of people's  judgment and their expectations.

Someone, somewhere once said “ Life is For living…”. Wonder who said it….
This is me living. Influential Women are now doing great things in the media that change the narrative. This is the start of me joining the call. 

The name “Happily Flawed” occurred to me after sending a friend a guest post. I’d gone on this wonderful writing retreat two weeks before and on the application I had put “Start a successful blog.” 

I told myself I need to just create the blog, and fix it up along the way, in order to master the courage to hit the ‘publish’ button.  It was another chance I was taking in my life, like the time I ran for Vice President of the International Students’ Society at University. Just me trying to discover what is possible. (btw....I won! yes this strange girl rocks!)

I want to tell you that the name was extremely random but the more I write and experience my life since I started it, I have no doubt my  subconscious picked it out knowing that it would be an ongoing theme in my life.

I am tired. I am grateful….. but I have to be honest, I am  tired of people who are NOT my family or friends pointing out what is wrong with me. I dislike it when people judge other before they know them. I hate the fact that we put people into boxes based on their clothes, their accent, the car they drive, their social media status...

I am not perfect, but can I hope we can do better?

I have been reading a great book by Brene Brown and I am having all sorts of epiphanies, I feel like I have been slapped into ALL SORTS OF CONSCIOUSNESS. I am still rubbing my cheeks in shock….


 “Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”
Brené Brown


You know, I know very well as an African I am not meant to be emotional, or vulnerable
Heck, I am not supposed to show my feelings in uncontrolled ways….


 “You are imperfect, you are wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.”
Brené Brown



Yet here I am writing on my blog, sometimes exposing my heartfelt thoughts. This is one of my flaws. This is something I have been doing naturally since I don’t know when. I felt shy about it. I felt wrong about it. I felt shame. 
 

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.”
Brené Brown



Now at 30 years old, I care less. I still care but it’s a whole lot less! This is one of the ways I am discovering my writing. I make mistakes.  I have flaws. I am not perfect I have a weird accent, I have lisp. L.I.S.P. ( wait... is that how you spell it?!) I have a high voice. I have sensitive skin that just about does it’s own thing. Stop trying to share remedies with me, I have tried every one. Now I am living. Yes, I have put on weight, but I am not obese … FYI I am exercising to be healthy not to be the same size I was when I was twelve!!  I am an introvert, and yes people scare me, which makes me awkward, but when I am passionate about something I become an extrovert. (Don’t hate on me.) I am not clever, but trust me if I want something I will figure it out. I don’t need to shine all the time I’d rather my work shine for me. I like hanging out with my family and my best friends.
 
I am not perfect and I am okay with that. There is more to life than being perfect and fitting everyone’s expectations and I hope this space allows for others to be themselves. Criticism is good, it helps to better a person, but sometimes you have to tell the difference between someone helping you and someone unaware of their own insecurities. 

This is the reason I write on this blog. It is here so that I can remind myself to be myself, and not try to fit into people’s expectations or unreasonable standards. That means the writing will sometimes be terrible. Oh well….

“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It's about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.”
Brené Brown


 If you’d like to share anything that fits in this theme then send me an e-mail or comment below. That’s what this blog is for. For you and all your flaws, including your randomness. 

There... you’ve been warned about my randomness. Don’t waste your time trying to fix it. Move on! I am living. Happily Flawed.

Love and Hugs
Maria

My Saturday Morning Thoughts…





 It’s 6.30 am, I shall wake up at 7.00am
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7.00 am time to get up.
My body doesn’t want to get up
No… Get up! Remember you are supposed to take this writing thing seriously.
Go to the bathroom, switch on the tap.
Have you drank  your apple cider vinegar and water?
This stuff is disgusting
But my sugar cravings disappear…
The water is hot … take a shower.
Get dressed, do casual smart
Where did you put that pink jacket?
Will these jeans fit, squeeze girl squuuueeeeeeeeeeze … oh there you go…just don’t breath so much today.
Combed your hair? Check. Side Bun….. Check.
Where is your bag? Where are your keys?
My room is always a mess…
Why have you chosen to wake up so early on a Saturday?
Down the stairs we go….
Say good morning to Dad
Into the kitchen
Greet the house girl
Grab a bread bun to eat in the car
Out the door….
You are going to be late! Remember they said no late comers…
But how could they say that? don’t they know they are in Uganda?
Don’t knock the driver or the house girl when reversing… you never use your mirrors!
The car is making a weird sound, you need take it for service…
Isn’t it too early for service?
But the engine sounds grouchy, let’s call the mechanic,
Not now we are late.
The radio music is terrible.
Watch out for the chicken
Saturday morning = no cars= no traffic= just a random chicken
You forgot to put lipstick on….
If you put it on in the car, someone will see you and think you are vain…
What kind people will be at this workshop?
What if they think you are crap at writing?
*Deep Breathes*
*
*
*
OMG the Total Petrol lorry is going to run you over…
Reverse! Use your mirrors!
No…..turn…. turn a bit
Phew….
Do you need petrol? we are passing your favorite station....
Nope? Okay….
*
*
How about coffee from Javas? We are passing City Oil?
Nope? Too expensive? Yeah, forget it.
Is that the news on the radio? Damn it! It’s 9.00 am! You are late!
Hell, I don’t care….I am on my way.
Are you passing though Wandegya or Old Kampala?
Old Kampala….
No car = No traffic * Smiles*
*
*
*
*
What if we get lost after Mulago?
What if we take the wrong turn?
No. Don’t worry. You have been there before, when you were delivering diaries to The Observer
Will they have coffee?
Where will you get lunch from?
Don’t act boogie Maria!
*
*
*
*
Oh look there is Amber and Ronald
I am not late!!! Yay!
Be careful…. don’t run them over!
Where should I park?
Oh…. Thanks… Ronald, here we go
Good parking Maria.
Quick there is no one around, put your lipstick on… hehehe…..

My morning thoughts exercise written during a Writing Our World Workshop

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Dear God : 14th July 2016




 
Dear God,

This week I learnt a few things…

  1. When you say you’ve got it, you really do have it!
  2. I must get in the habit of listening. I must be still and listen to you, no judgements. (SIDE NOTE:  I would have loved to see Noah’s face when you told him what you required him to do.) 
  3.  My thoughts matter. I know… it’s REALLY cliché but “ Stay positive” and keeping them clean is real. Very real. 
  4.  You are taking my commitment seriously.. How!? I can’t explain but It’s official, you’re a keeper. Not just something I am obligated to do, but a choice.
I experienced some negativity from someone last week.  You advised me to sit still; “Don’t  react!” you said. I thought you were crazy! But okay, you’ve been around, and you do know your people, so I did what you asked me to do.  To my dropped jaw surprise, within five minutes the person tried to make up for their behavior. Now I know you did not control their reactions, but your advice saved me from judging someone harshly. They were under pressure; a bad reaction from me would have made it worse. Thank you. I will listen to you more often. Clearly you know what you are doing.

On the subject of my my internal thought process….. I do. Yes I openly admit I do expect the worst.  The conversations I have in my head need to be disinfected  with a good cleaner. They are a defense mechanism. They help me prepare for the worst.  I learnt this from the book I am current reading called  Daring Greatly.  What it says is true. In the moment we humans experience joy, our next thought is something bad will happen. I am one of those people that believe that doom and gloom is out there somewhere waiting to pounce on me. We usually say “The Devil is at work…..” I can’t experience a happy moment without looking over my back. I need to stop doing this. If I am going to trust you, then I have to try and stop doing this.  I can’t stop the bad things from happening, but maybe I need to trust that am old enough to know how to deal with them the best way I can? What do you think? I shall wait for your  wisdom.

And thirdly, I am so surprised at the ways you use to communicate. Why am I surprised though? Creativity came from you! I mean you are the ultimate. Seriously, Let’s continue. I made a commitment which it seems you heard, and you made one too. 

Once again thank you for my lessons.

I can’t wait for the next letter.

Always faithful,
Maria

#AnotherLoveLetterToGod
#HappilyFlawed

Monday, 4 July 2016

Dear God: July 4th 2016






 

Dear God

Hi. How are you? Just taking some time to check in…

Sometimes I forget to do that.  I remember to pray but I forget all about the conversation. So here we go. Here I am. 

Firstly, thank you.

Thank you for being my best friend these last few months as promised.  

Thank you for showing up many times and showing out! You rock. You’re my ultimate. This year I promised that I would make an effort with our relationship. That I would put you first and treat you the way I would like to be treated in a healthy relationship. Surprisingly, it’s been great… You’ve made time for me in the strange ways that you do.

Thank you for opening my eyes. Thank you for allowing me to see people for what they really are. Thank you for giving me the confidence to trust my gut.  You remind me on a daily basis that you have something better in store. I am suddenly feeling inspired to write my first real bucket list, because I have no doubt you'll provide. I am in a good space now because of these regular check-ins whether verbal or written.

Thank you for reminding me that life is meant to be fun , and that when we stop trying to control it  we can start to enjoy it. I have learnt to make time to listen you. You’ve been consistent, you’ve showed me which hassle free steps to take. You really do have a sense of humor.....

Thank you for giving me the strength to leave some relationships behind. Especially, those that are not healthy, and also the friendships that are dying. I will no longer seek out people who do not value people. I will no longer look for friends who don’t make an effort to look for me. We are done with the emotionally draining circles. Most specifically, the ones created by narcissistic people. The one's who belittle and try to destroy the self- esteem of those around them just so they can feel better. We are done with those. I thought such horrible people were make-believe. Thank you for showing me that they exist in real life, and I am grateful you’ve insisted on me shutting those relationships down fast! Please now let's move on to the healthy relationships. I know you have never once said " I told you so..." but you really did tell me so. I learnt the lesson, I am ready for the good loyal people to enter my life now. I shall, (because you advised me too) continue to pray for those who have hurt me deeply on a professional and personal level, because I have now learnt in my heart and head the wisdom of Jesus’ words. But that’s all, I shall do. They are in your hands now. 

I am already looking forward to our next catch up

Forever yours,

Maria

#HappilyFlawed