2016 At the Academy of Life 

At Queen Elizabeth National Park. Photo Credit :The Incredible Andrew Pacutho

Alot of my 2016 has been about growing. 

An introduction to life outside the norm.The brilliant light of it and the absolute sheer darkness.

So how do you write about a year that has been everything you hoped for and more, while being the perfect split between the worst and the best of your  life?  I guess we are both about to find out. 

Since  we are here, I can gratefully say, the good guys won..

I started 2016 somewhere in a prayer circle. It wasn’t a crowd, there were no great lights and perfect sound or heart lifting music, the kind I always find at Watoto Church every other end of year. (If you are in Kampala it’s the place to be) 

It was a group of friends, someone’s sitting room and two guitars all night long. There was neither an  epiphany, nor rhythmic shaking in the atmosphere no fire works. 

It felt ordinary, maybe even boring and yet 2016 has been everything but. 

At the beginning of every year, I usually text or tell people,  “happy calender change “, because frankly that’s the only thing that changes unless your birthday falls on the first day of January. 

I also don’t do New Year’s resolutions because as awesome as it is to have ambitiously incredible plans for 365/6 days,  the academy of life has taught me not to exert too much pressure on my calendar, because it always has away of creating enough detours. 

Let me confess right now that even as I type this, I have no idea where this is going. But how about a pose on the rambling, and just good old gratitude, wrapped in a number of lessons?

It’s been a growth year for me.Epic even, because it’s not every year that I find myself on a plane to the United States of America, for a full 8 days , at zero cost to me.

I also struggled with alot of things as well as suffering an amount of pain (it wasn’t physical and nobody broke my heart )  I still cannot believe exists. 

I also survived that pain, and  at this point, non toxic drink in hand, I would like to propose a toast to everyone who has come out on the bright side of pain in 2016. That’s the first thing I  am grateful for.

Moving on swiftly.Here is the list of lessons  am graduating the academy of life with in 2016/ the things I am grateful for. 

1. The ability to write.   Before this year I was playing. I had no idea how much being able to express myself through words meant, but having this blog and writing beyond it, is something am very thankful for. 

I have learnt of the therapeutic power of piecing words together to form sentences and then paragraphs. I have also created amazing friends from this place, some even really special ones. 

I have experienced the rawest form of my emotions while ink hits paper or where  fingers meet keyboards   in an effortless attempt to vent,make sense, or just to be alive. 

 I told the whole world here when I won the World Bank writing contest and how my feelings didn’t catch up as fast as I had hoped.  It was very frustrating, until I picked up my notebook and nice clear pen at the airport. 

I learned in that moment at 2am in the morning, that writing is my heart and soul. I may not feel like doing it everyday but feelings are also very overrated.

2.Investing in experiences.  I love clothes, one of my sisters thinks am a hoarder of clothes. Over the years I have accumulated so many clothes I don’t wear, need  or those that are simply ugly.There is a point to all this..

I have hardly bought any clothes in 2016 despite the fact that I have had the most money in my life, because I started to invest in experiences, and by experiences I mean #koikoiug. 

I have traversed this country, and seen it with a different set of eyes. 

I have seen waterfalls, and showered from them. I have  taken mini hikes and long forest walks. 

I have watched wildlife bond and scatter. I have taken a ferry and boat  ride on Lake Victoria and abseiled next to Sipi Falls.  

I have learnt about coffee and even brewed some on the slopes of Mount Elgon 

I have spectated while the  sun kissed the  lake in an effort to set only to  watch it  raise behind mountains later.  I have unsuccessfully learned about photography and I have met great people.

In 2016 I decided to do something about my everlasting swooning over #koikoiug by joining them to travel this pearl of Africa and tell authentic Ugandan stories. So I guess the lesson is buy less clothes and pay for more #koikoiug trips.

3. For Myself. 

I learned something about obligations and the need to please, but  more importantly about choosing myself above all as well as  the difficult  balance.

I have learnt that #FOMO doesn’t mean I must show up for an event and that I can still go alone if no one else is going. I have learnt that my friends and I don’t have to like the same restaurant.

That taking myself out of the crowd doesn’t make me anti social and that it’s okay to leave the party before it ends. 

That some people grow together and others apart, and it’s okay for some friendships not to last a lifetime. 

That as amazing and well thought out my opinion may be, I don’t always have to give it unsolicited. 

I have learnt about the reality of  depression, the disease, and especially the stigma, as well as the power of family  and am grateful for the success story in my household.

2o16 has been a great year, I will be going back to my prayer circle sometime tonight to express some of this gratitude to God. 

I look back on the last 365 days and like the psalmist,  I know that if it hadn’t been for God, I would not have made it out. 

Happy Calender Change 2017.

What did the academy of life teach you in 2016?. 

Thank you for reading my blog in 2016, don’t go anywhere.

 

The Evolution of My Christmas. 

I love Christmas. 

Don’t ask why,  I also can’t explain it.The spirit of it,  the lights in the malls. The discounts on prices of things  ( I got 10% off my cup of frozen yogurt the other day), the Christmas carols, the hustle and bustle of downtown, the excessive amounts of food,  the travel,  the relatives only seen once a year. You name it and it’s the reason I love Christmas. 

Christmas is a reminder of my happiest childhood memories. 

He that fathered me would slaughter a cow on Christmas Eve. We would then move around our village giving our neighbors  packages of meat,  onions and tomatoes as a Christmas gift.

It was exciting especially because it gave us bragging rights in the village for the rest of the year. 

We would then go and hunt for a Christmas tree from allover the place, cut it and drag it to the house, where we waited for mother dearest to instruct us on how to decorate it. 

My job was mainly to blow air into the balloons and I was very good and competent at it. 

There were no Christmas lights in our house at the time, but it was a beautiful tree. It had such a fresh scent about it and sat in the corner breathing Christmas to us. 

Christmas morning was really busy for the older siblings. One of my sisters and I had the absolute pleasure of having well made katogo breakfast,adorning our matching outfits and heading to church with he who fathered me. 

He made it a point to buy two packets of sweets. One for the tree and the other for us to give to the other kids in Sunday school. (I remembered this today and it warmed my heart) 

Because my sister is too nice a human being she made sure I didn’t pocket any of those sweets,  we would give all of them out, apparently to emulate that God gave us His son, or the spirit of Christmas. 

The day usually ended with alot of food made by mother dearest’s impeccable culinary skills and her vast number of assistants a.k.a the older siblings. 

We would have enough people to fill our compound and we would dance till dark. He that fathered me would reward the best dancer (usually me because well last borns run the world)  and we would retire to bed exhausted, but having had a great day. 

28th December, (it’s a day dedicated to children in Uganda, I don’t know if that happens everywhere), together with the children from my Sunday school, we would go visit ‘Toro Babies Home’, and we carried gifts  together with alot of love for these children. 

It  taught us to share Christmas love for those children who didn’t have the privilege of family. 

Well I have come along way from those days. While I sat at village mall the other day with my sister watching and listening to my musical girl crush MoRootsSandra Suubi and Solome Busuuta spread some Christmas cheer, it struck me that like everything else  in my life Christmas has evolved. I turned to my sister and asked if she remembers what Christmas looked like back in the day. The realization of how far our Christmas has come was bittersweet. 

Earlier that day I  had attended the very first show of Watoto Church’s Christmas Cantata and it was heavenly. (By the way if you are in Kampala please enter appearance at watoto church down town. Shows are at 6pm and 8:15 pm every day until the 24th,  you will be glad you went).

Christmas has evolved from Ngombe A Village in Kabarole District to events on Kampala road.

The only thing that hasn’t changed is the piles of food. There is no tree,  or sweets to give. 

Christmas Cantata at Watoto Church. Source :Facebook

Christmas for me is more than finding something merry about the 25th of December. 

It’s gratitude to God  for making it to the end of the year, regardless of how well or how bad it went. 

It’s a reminder that love is a gift.

I get to meet most of my family all in one place (it’s an abnormally enormous family)  and between the chatter, and more food than we can all ever finish, I look around the compound and there is no place I would rather be.

I know in those moments, that it’s not about the carols or the beauty in the decorations at Acacia Mall and all its cousins. 

Christmas means remembering that an awesome God gave me an undeserved gift,  so I can wear my party shoes all the way into the new year. 

Thank you @ugbloc for this writing prompt. 

Merry Christmas. 

What does Christmas mean to you? 

Surviving a fatherless childhood. 

My father exited my life when I was 12

Next  time I saw him again, I was 15 and I had already gone through all the stages of grief. 

Seeing him again didn’t fill me with any anticipation or desire to have answers. 

The expectation of him to show up dwindled with every bell that asked parents to leave at the end of every school visitation, where he didn’t show. 

All the questions I had for him had been asked and answered by me,  myself and  our imaginary friend. 

I sat with him on a pavement, looked at him, and we made small talk.  He didn’t volunteer any explanations and I was grateful, because there was now a numbness about our relationship that was comfortable.

Then I grew up and discovered the phrase,  “daddy issues.” The label we receive for not having our fathers present in our lives. 

It was  cool at first. It made me feel special on some level as if I had an enviable unique  characterisic. 

Before I could settle into my newly acquired title, I realized, it was just a mockery of my character. Some sort of explanation for how I behaved,  spoke or responded, so I resented it with every fiber of my being. 

I promised myself to be the opposite of what having daddy issues ‘dictated’ I should be.

I saw him again,  this time,  I was 19, getting ready to join university. Our conversation lasted longer than the last time. 

We talked about going to law school and how he was worried that the course would put me in harm’s way.

He suggested a few easier or safer choices, I agreed with him so I didn’t have to explain myself.  

He held my hand and walked with me for a while and we parted ways just a few safe meters away from mother dearest. 

After that day,  I realized how far apart him and I were. It hurt like hell.

I wanted to talk to him about why going to law  school  was important to me. It was so heart wrenching,  almost like a desperate need for approval. 

I wanted to confide in him about my fears of going to campus, because well I had been in a single girls’ school and the idea of  sitting in a classroom with boys was really disturbing my 19 year old brain. 

I also feared that telling him those things would remove the comforting numbness from our relationship and replace it with a feeling I couldn’t control.

So I let go of his hand and disappeared into one of the toughest phases of my life, and I have  survived, for the most part.

It’s safe to say, that in a way without trying ,he trained me to love with restraint and forgive at a reckless speed.

I would let go of your hand before you have an opportunity to let go of mine. 

I would run way before you have a chance to walk away from me. 

It  worked, until now,

I grew weary of being cautious in the name of being careful. 

Somewhere along the way I healed from all of it, 

It’s no longer the story of my life, it’s just part of my story 

And because Uganda Blogging Community is insisting on all this telling this week, I get to share it. 
 Otherwise how are you doing?