Author Archives: juliasbloggg

About juliasbloggg

...just floating by, await to set my roots.

Why can’t I get what I want?

I told you I don’t blog often and why. I become resistant when my creativity is scheduled. I fear rigidity. Not with all my creative talents, no… Just with writing and painting. Which is why I started to paint for free; as long as you don’t give me a deadline for your piece or offer any money to use as collateral for the same, we are goodvto go. Regardless, I keep being asked to write more often. Even though I cannot write when I don’t feel like it.

That’s just an intro to explain my silence (smile). Really I want to talk about something else. Let’s see where this goes.

To help me deal with some pain in January this year, I went online and searched for Oprah. She always had something encouraging to say. There had been a radio interview Oprah had uploaded on You Tube which I kept saying I would listen to later, “It’s so fucking long…” I would complain. But on this day I had nothing but time. I would be on a five hour flight so I just might as well. I made the You Tube video/audio ‘available offline’ and let it download. And that is when I met Abraham.

Listen here to the interview that pretty much changed my life. Or created a huge marker in change of disposition and consciousness: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMaIPwYOjoc&t=3715s

Good day 🙂

Jules.

Who Are You Here With?

me-blogPre-London, I was single. Sure I wanted a boyfriend. Sure I wanted to settle down. But I was too busy discovering myself. Well, no. I was too busy trying to make something of my art and music only to realize that self-discovery was part of the deal. Another thing I discovered when one takes such a leap was the plenty of self-time. Alone-time. I woke up alone. Went to the gym alone. Came back home alone. Sketched on my canvas alone. Painted for hours alone. I did so much alone that I got used to being alone. I was no longer in an office dealing with colleagues and emails and badly brewed coffee. And so on weekends, I would be invited to a night out and I would drive out of my house alone and walk into a party alone.

Over time I realized that people would often ask, ‘Who are you here with?’ I would say, ‘Solo…’ It was no big deal. Matter of fact I didn’t realize it was a deal to be made into any matter. The non-boyfriend man I was seeing at the time went out alone a lot too. And my friends would say, “Oh, we saw Anthony last night. He was alone.” Or “Spotted Anthony at such and such, he was having dinner by himself.” At the time all I was interested in knowing was if he was with another woman and so, obviously, I missed the undertones of perplex in my friends’ comments, ‘He was alone…who clubs alone? Who dines alone?” is what they were really asking.

After a few parties though I got fed up. Not only by the questions but also by the pity party that formed around me when I joined a group at a party that I had attended by myself. So I started to call a friend to tag along. And then one day I asked Anthony, ‘Do people often ask you why you move around alone?”  And he said, “They used to. Now they don’t. I am a grown ass man with a lot of money and power Julia. Why would I give a shit.”

I went to London. Like I have always said, London became my second love. I had an exhilarating love affair with London and left Nairobi in the dust, literally. No one cared that I was alone. I drunk coffee and smoked cigarettes and people-watched and hang alone all I wanted and no one ever asked, even once, “Who are you here with?”

I ended my affair and came back home. She was still kind of beat up and unkempt my beautiful Nairobi, but you know- East or West. I told Anthony, “You know what I miss? Going to a bar alone. Sitting at a restaurant alone. I want to do that and not get odd looks from people wondering what a beautiful young woman such as myself is doing there by herself.” Anthony sipped his whisky and smirked, “You’re a grown ass woman, single…um, well… unmarried, at a bar by herself, in Nairobi. You will get an odd look.”

And there it was. The same rules just don’t apply for women. He was single. I was unmarried. And what if I had Money? Power?  Just like him. The conclusion would be that I am alone because I am too rich for a man. Too powerful for a man. I am threatening to the man.

And I get it. I don’t think it is fair but I get it.

Why am I writing this then? Look. This blog post will be my buffer. My get-off-my-case card. I am back home. I am still single. I am finally embracing singlehood and not in that sad miserable way but in an enlightened way. You know… I came to the conclusion that a beautiful young woman such as myself is still single because there is a lesson I am yet to learn before I can meet my partner. Simple. So I will just learn it. In the mean time I want the liberty to move alone. Whether or not my girlfriends are available. Besides, I am single.  And I want when I go out alone, like tonight when I attend Patricia Kihoro’s ‘Life in the Single Lane,’-go figure, and someone asks, “Who are you here with?” I just want to say, “I came alone. Here is the link to my blog.”

Always,

Jules_her

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a selfie at a restaurant

How I experienced Brexit undertones as a Foreign Student

CaptureBrexit. A term that has been used recently to explain UK’s interest in pulling out of the European Union. By now I think we all know what the EU is and what it stands for (albeit the fact the biggest online search term from the UK this past weekend was ‘what is the EU’. Hilarious.)

In summary, however, the EU was formed to basically improve the economic well-being of its 28 member states. Cameron, who was pro-EU stay, stated that it should now be a decision by the public (by way of referendum) as to whether or not the UK should stay or leave the European Union. And so the polls called it; British voters endorsed European Union Exit.

I could go on about the ins and out, the pros and cons on the ‘Leave or Remain’ debate but I think I will just talk about my personal experience. I lived in the UK. London. Not too long ago and not for too long. I was a legal immigrant on a short stay or limited stay – student visa it was called. After deciding to pursue my master’s degree abroad, almost everyone I talked to was not too keen about me going to England.

They said it is too rigid. Too tight. That the policies on student visas don’t give you room to do much outside of class and that applying for the visa itself was a long and tedious process. I did it nonetheless because the UK was the only place where I could complete a business post-graduate degree within a year.

And so in London, I arrived – just as the leaves turned yellow and the wind became unforgiving. I loved it. I went to school. I studied long hours in the library. I did my own laundry. I toured the city. I tried microwave food. And I got blown away by the intense multiculturalism in London. I mean, I probably brushed shoulders with more immigrants or non-born Brits than I did actual Brits. Even those born there mostly had their roots from other countries; Jamaica, Poland, China, Nigeria, Albania. I was stunned.

But I needed work. London was extremely expensive and I wanted to do more leisurely activities –all which cost a pretty penny. I dropped my CV at a recruitment agency and within a couple of weeks I had a job. An office job at that. Another pleasant surprise see, that nepotism was not the number one recruitment method in London. That a young and ambitious Kenyan girl like me that didn’t pronounce ‘water’ as ‘wo-ah’ could get a job at a multinational in a city such as this. Sure, it was part-time, 20 hours a week max as stipulated in my visa, but it paid, got me into the English job market I so desperately wanted to experience and added onto my resume.

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A few months in, I decided that I wanted to stay in England after my studies. For a little bit. They were so ahead. I had so much to learn, so many new ways of doing things. Especially in my field, marketing, it was a whole new world for me. I started to apply for jobs within the field. I decided on an entry level job because I didn’t feel like my experience in marketing at my home country could get me through the rigorous interview levels. I also felt like I needed to learn rather than manage. I was in a new market with different kinds of customers that had all sorts of dissimilar consumption patterns from those I knew.

By my fourth job interview I was hopeful. I had discovered that the Brits really did mean it when they asked, “What can you do for Us?” I practiced and polished my interviewee skills. This time I made it to the final stage. The few of us that had been selected sat fidgeting in the global marketing firm’s board room. The black carpet was impeccably clean. “Alright guys! You alright? That was good! So can I just have all of your passports please? For some processing?” Hannah, the very friendly HR lady walked in with that dreaded list in hand, a politely rehearsed smile in broad display. We all handed our passports to her. I noticed that mine was the only navy blue one. She flashed me a look and then quickly turned away. I wasn’t sure what I had just read from her face.

Shortly after, she came back and pulled me aside, “Erm, Julia… I was just wondering… I realize that you are erm…” she looked down at the piece of paper, now limp, in her hand “Kenyan is it?”

“Yes…” I responded.

“Right. And do you have erm… a work permit?” her voice was soft ang chics 4d motherly

“Yes, I do, but as a student. After you take me up on a permanent basis, the company will have to sponsor me. But you are a registered sponsor… so I figured it would not be a problem…” I responded coolly.

“No, no, not at all! We actually do have a lot of people here on work permit… Em…this doesn’t affect the outcome of your interview. Not to worry!”

That night I called home. I told my mom and dad that work visa’s in the UK are a nightmare to get. That it was not easier for students. Even masters students. That I only wanted 2 years work experience in the UK and that this would really propel my career. Mother asked when I would hear back from the company. “Tomorrow. They call us tomorrow.”

That night I went online and did some research. As it turned out just a couple of years ago, students would be given 2 extra years on their visas to work and live in the UK after the end date of their school year. For my lot however, we only got 4 months. 4 months to get a job that would sponsor our stay (basically pay us a salary through work) and thus allow us to be granted a work permit.  I also found a group online that protested this slashed time, “What is four months? I can’t even get part time in four months where I live! “One student lamented.

In another article I read about the concerns of Britain and the high level of immigration. “We need to pull out of the EU. Too many jobs are being lost to these immigrants who are willing to work for lower wages,” a worker was quoted saying. “These immigrants, they come and live here and use up all our benefits. Our taxes are going into their pockets… Our healthcare system is under too much pressure,” another quote stated. I recalled going to hospital once…I didn’t have to pay because National Health covered me. Being a legal immigrant, I had access to free health care. I wondered if I was putting pressure on the NHS.

I wrote under the comments section of the article,

What about students? We have paid to be here. In the tens of thousands of pounds… International students make more than half of the immigrant population in England and we have paid to be schooled here. We have gained education from here and we are willing to WORK here, pay taxes and therefore contribute to society, rather that only take away from it. I understand that this is a complex issue but as an international student who is looking for a skilled job, I don’t think the process should be as barred. Is this issue on the exit and stay of the UK within the EU about economic freedom or just a masked case of extreme Xenophobia?”

The following day, Hannah called me. I wondered why she used her personal mobile phone rather than the office line she had used before, to contact me. Her voice was preppy as usual but I sensed something else in her voice.

“You didn’t get the job. “

“Is it because I am not British (EU)?” I interjected.

“Julia… these matters are quite complex. No. it’s not because of that.” She paused.

“But a lot is changing in England and companies risk a lot when they are tied in between government decisions and an employed work force. The issue is not us. We want to…have qualified people here-” “Yeah, I hear you,” I interrupted her before she said too much. I liked her. “I wish you all the best!” she was now back to her official, HR-friendly, politically correct self “I know you will do well. Do keep looking at our career page for more opportunities…”

The rest of my interviews were pretty much the same after that. Latasha, my friend from New York who I also was in school with, gave up after 2 job interviews, “Going back to the Big Apple girl! In two weeks. No point staying here any longer…” She too, an American, needed a work visa to work in England. Katyia was next to leave, then Karina and then me- all of us international students. Kacey stayed 3 months after me… she wasn’t ready to give up just yet. She also preferred London winters-it was December, Russia’s cold was merciless.

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And so now that the Brits got what they wanted, I wonder what will happen to my friends who stayed behind… those from the EU like Daniel from Hungary and Terry from Italy. What of Huyen who fell in love and married a Polish guy who lived and worked in London? Will she have to move to Poland with him? She’s South East Asian, she doesn’t speak Polish…

At the end of the day, I feel like this is an immigration issue rather than anything else. I may be wrong but most immigrants coming into the UK are young people ready to work and by doing so spur economic growth and help pay for public services. There are those that take advantage of the system so I may empathize a little with the pro Brexit folk. It all depends on how you look at this issue though and what you deem important for ones economy. I on my end am happy to be home. I will be back to visit though! Hope you don’t deny me a visa for that too!

Julia.

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Found your Talent?

I was listening to a conversation a friend of mine was having about a Kenyan photographer, highly sought, and just how passionate he was about his work, “He will even climb an acacia tree full of thorns to take that perfect shot,” Monica exclaimed.

Talent. Passion. Purpose. These are just some of the nouns that have haunted me from the day I received my Bsc. in International Business; overheated under my black graduation gown, feet in aching agony because my  black peep toe heels were brand new and still too tight… But I had to look good walking down the podium to receive my degree.

A few weeks ago I was invited to a talk. The email invitation was bold and captivating, ‘Talent. What is Yours? Turning your Talent into Money.’They allowed to me carry a plus one and so I asked one of my best friends to tag along.

The talk kind of blew me away. Of course there was the inspirational guest speaker whose story was intriguing but what really fascinated me was the definition of a Talent. I’ll give you my synopsis on it.

When someone asks us to describe talent or perhaps give an example of it, we tend to describe things that are out of the realm of what I would call the rigid, the desk job type, the 8-5 ish… we think of things that are expressive in an artistic or abstract way. Cooking! Painting! Landscaping! Singing! Acting!  You say, “Yes I am good at accounting but my talent is Baking…” or “I am a really great engineer but my talent really, is Pottery.”

” First things first, talent is not only something that is artsy or vocational…” Well I knew that… But did I really?

Our speaker then asked us to think about something, anything, that when doing it we were ‘in the flow…’ That’s all he said. In the flow. The room stared back at him blankly, some eyelids frantically blinking.

“…guys, when you are doing this thing, you find yourself completely engaged… free from over-thinking, it comes easy to you, usually easier than it does to others and more often than not, you lose track of time. What is it when you do, you are in the flow? Take a moment and write a bunch of things that come to mind.”

I grabbed my paper and pen:

  1. Writing
  2. Cleaning (not always)
  3. Creating stories in my head.

He then pointed out, “I will tell you this. There is a class I attended where one of the participants wrote down, ‘Climbing Trees’. So I want you to really let yourself to wander into your past experiences and allow it to be anything. It can be the obvious or not so obvious.”

I then went back to my list and edited it a little bit:

  1. Imitating people
  2. Story telling
  3. Writing
  4.  Cleaning (not always, but most of the time-especially with bleach).
  5. Organizing
  6. Creating plots for short stories-like those in ‘Encounters from Africa’.
  7.  Painting, mostly in black and white.
  8. Singing …well…of course, singing.

After this, he asked some of us to tell the rest of the class what we wrote down. Someone said, “Taking care of animals.” A lady yelled from the back, “Reading and analyzing maps,” Another said, “Budgeting my money on a spread sheet.” And another, “Talking… or like inspiring people by talking to them…”

“Great,” our moderator said. “Next step is one of the most important. Now you must keep in mind that people will not buy your ability to talk, or read a map or your liking of budgeting. What people buy is a product. You must then package your skills into something that is sellable. For the young lady who loves to read maps, what are some of the things that you think she can do with that… how can we package that?”

Hands shot up in the air. Hers did not.

“Creating apps for city maps”

“Being that er.. co-driver to the rally driver?”

The rest of the class went on like this. There are many other important things that were said. But for me these were the most important. Finding your flow and packaging that flow. Apparently, everyone has that one, two or whatever number of things that to them come easily. And those things, those things that come easily to them don’t always come already perfected. It is your job to perfect them. But it is easier to move these things from a B to an A star performance than move something that you are forcing yourself to learn, from a D to a C. Ever sat in a meeting about the most boring project and you have this one annoying person who is super pumped and is just in her moment with the planning and perfect lead times and amazing delivery? And you’re just there like, “Oh god, I can’t wait for this to end…”? She’s in her flow and you’re not.

In conclusion, if you want to turn your talent into money and do what you love every day, then find your flow,perfect it, package it and sell it. If you don’t want to sell it, doesn’t matter. Let it be your escape. In this flow even if something is exhausting and demanding, you will see a challenge as a mole hill and not a mountain. You will even climb that thorned acacia tree for the perfect shot.

Always,

jules_her

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Nothing Much…

Got a lot of responses from my last post. Appreciate it all. Unfortunately I don’t write every week but only when I feel compelled to write. Writing is my avenue to express my thoughts calmly and peacefully with the aid of auto correct and the delete key-because in real life I am very talkative and have hardly any filter (smile). I am therefore afraid to taint this process with a schedule.

I was reading through my personal diary this past weekend and I came across an entry that I put in on 8.12.2015. It is closely related to my previous post and so decided it would be nice to share it. Sort of as an extension of the other post. Sometimes it’s interesting to see where you were mentally at certain times in your past which is why I write a diary. Also because I want my grand kids to know who I was and that I wasn’t always old and backward… And so that they can see that life’s shitty problems were still the same in the early 2000’s and maybe be inspired by my my journey to keep on keepin’ on :-).

I was 4 days away from my flight back to Nairobi. blog 1

blog 2

Always,

jules_her.

I’ll tell you why home is Best-well Better.

When I left for London, I left Nairobi in a huge ‘good riddance’ exhale. Before I left, I must say I was not at my best. I had given myself about 2 years of self discovery and what you learn when you open yourself to self discovery is the ugly part of life, and yourself. You also learn the beautiful. But mostly, you are astonished by the ugly.

I had left work, joined a band, taken up exercise, started to paint, sell my work and meet all sorts of people outside my regular circle. Until today I am uncertain as to whether I regret that decision. When I look at where I am today I am glad I did what I did because had I not, I would not be here. Neither would I be me. But when I think back at the time, while in the time, I think I never want to go back as I cannot understand even my own strength not to give up. On everything. Even life. Certainly out of the concrete a flower can grow.

And to the plus four-four I went. And I loved it. I was determined to love it. I loved the cabro streets. I loved yellow and red leaves in fall. I loved the street restaurants. I loved men in big bushy beards and overhang trench coats. I loved tea with a dash of milk. I loved sweaty Carribean night clubs. I loved the ease of shopping. I loved the dustless CBD. I loved the brick walls. The hippy subcultures. I loved the sight of dogs being walked in the morning. I loved being part of the morning rush hour in the tube-knowing that I too was on a mission, to get somewhere, to work, contributing to society… there was hardly anything I didn’t love.

However, I wished so baldy that my mom was there to see the red and yellow leaves. That Kathy was there to see the bushy beards and overhung trench coats. That Shiko was there to get broke with me shopping in Zara and Next and New Look and H&M. Primark too (lol).

I had an amazing group of friends: Karina, Jimena, Kacey, Julie, sweet Veronica, Katia and Latasha the New Yorker. My very own version of my Kenyan clique- Greenwich chicks, Jimena named us-but you know, sometimes you miss your own people. I was never really homesick, but sometimes you miss the inside jokes, the predictable reactions and familiar love. When it came time to decide whether I was staying or going, whereas before it was never an option to leave London my beloved, I suddenly became okay with the idea of being back home.

And so I started to mentally prepare myself for the horrific traffic, the scorching sun and the clutching close of my handbag in the city. Things I found synonymous to my home town. I bought my ticket and kissed my second love, healer of my soul London good bye.

And now that I am back and settled in, I am at peace. Nairobi is still the same. Politicians are still rumbling, our poor stray dogs are still straying, night clubs are still overly familiar, city dust is still unsettled as if we are never tranquil down below and the heat, the heat is still sometimes uncomfortable. I’m okay with that. I no longer sit with a blanket in the backyard with my dogs soaking up the sun as I had missed it so while in winter-wonderland-London but, I am okay with that too. I don’t have to speak slower now so that people can understand me, my slang fits in perfectly with the local diction, food tastes better than ever and everywhere I go I know someone-fine, that can get annoying really quickly but for the most part it’s comforting if I am being entirely honest.

Bitch I’m Back.

jules_her

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…Dedicated to you…

I ended up in a slightly heated conversation with my girls about depression and suicide. We are not usually a gloomy lot but miss sherane’s death sparked the exchange. Please note I am not a psychiatrist nor a psychologist and so the opinions expressed on this publication will be just that, expressions. And so to an expert, will seem deeply naive and short sighted.

I think depression is the worst disease to ever befall the human race. To me, depression is rooted in two things: self doubt and self pity. And it seems that these two things are ignited by an event or a series of events usually circling around the theme of rejection. For some, because of inherent personality traits and behavioural habits earlier picked up, it is easier to shake off these dark clouds. For others, it may be not so easy.Because at some point in everyone’s life as my mom said, “…you will always feel a ka depression…acknowledge it and then decide to rise above it.”  

I know I have been there. For about 3 and half years I wallowed in that onea dark, dark place. Because I am naturally outgoing and spunky, it was easier to mask. I would stand on a pavement and notice cars whiz past me as I was trying to cross the road. I would say to myself, “I am (was) only 40 ft from death with that car… I was only 30 ft from death with that one… “ I never tried. Thank God. But I let the thoughts swim in my conscience. When I finally was able to come out of the fog, people would say, “Boy, Julia, you were not happy last year…” or “…you didn’t seem to be in a good place that time we went on that trip.” All were acquaintances…people I knew from a far. It seemed those closest to me could not see because it was easier perhaps to hide it from them. The better, I thought.

And so nowadays, if I feel that wave start to creep back into my life, I resist it. I listen to the ques of my inner voice,aka, God, before the tragedy unfolds. I have come to learn that there is always a voice, an internal nudge, that is constantly trying to guide us to the right places.

And with that let me conclude by saying, depression is real. It is not limited to ‘those arsty’ or ‘those creative’ types. I believe under the right circumstances, anyone can slip into depression and anyone can decide to take their own life.

May God grant us all empathy. So that even when we don’t understand another’s pain, we are still able to lay ego aside and lend a shoulder. Amen.

 

Always,

jules_her.

RIP my sweet.

We are not humans on a spiritual journey, we are  spiritual beings on a human journey,”That Indian sounding guy who’s always on Oprah’s life class.