First of New beginnings

As I was walking along the streets of Nairobi, a lady stopped me and asked, ‘Are you Brenda Sharp?’ I nodded. ‘I know you from Facebook! Thank you very much for your lessons on letting go. You came at a critical moment when I was battling leaving my abusive relationship. I am now at that point where I am asking myself, where do I go from here?’ This question challenged me. I realized I had a task ahead of me to continue the conversation I had started. So on this month of May we will continue the conversation, this time on new beginnings.

Indeed this is a weighty question. We must always ask ourselves what is next for us? Through asking we engage our minds in creating valuable adaptive solutions for us.
Before we continue, I have exciting news! Wadada is back and I am super excited. Wadada is a music space created by a group of ‘woke’ friends who play reggae and dub music with positive conscious messages. Learn more about them here I knew of Wadada through my friend Wasuna and even though I was not a fan of reggae then he made me very curious to be part of the experience. Wadada came at an opportune moment when I was just taking a break from politics. I was exhausted and broke. Sharing this with you takes me down memory lane.
It’s early 2016, I have been sent for a reporting meeting to Dadaab refugee camp. I had been suffering vicarious trauma and as a result was burned out. The more I talked with my therapist the more I realized there was this push in me to quit the job. I had taken a police vehicle, with two police officers seated up front – one of them the driver – and two officers and I behind. I was the only woman and somehow I felt safer as a woman but unsafe on this path. The vehicle as you can guess is going at extreme speeds for safety. I watch children on the way asking for water and one police officer throws a bottle through the metal openings on the cruiser. We ram into rocks and ruts but nothing stops the man from driving at those speeds. The ride is a roller-coaster of hard bumps and jumps and at some point I’m nauseated. Stories of attacks and kidnappings keep replaying in my head, sometimes with me as the victim. I try and concentrate on this dry land where nothing grows this shrubby thorny tree. Emaciated people peek from the meager shade the tree throws and deep within you know how the enemy hides among the innocent. I ask myself questions, why would I, Brenda be here? Why shouldn’t I, the daughter of Kapngatip just go home to Chepkunyuk and the serenity pluck tea in that lush green, making 200 shillings a day and be content rather than live in this constant fear of an impending attack. I know I can eat and survive even in the small garden where the gods in their infinite grace have seeded wild foods such as Chepkerta and mushrooms. More and more I was convinced. By the time I was in Dadaab I had made a decision. I was done and leaving.
I called my dad, sobbing, wondering why I had to keep this life up. I told him that I was quitting. He tried to convince me that I should persevere for a little while but he realized that I wouldn’t budge. I took a shower and began penning down my resignation letter. I only had one month now and I would leave. That one month opened the doors to my creativity. I chose Sharp perceptions as a name and started thinking of the skills I had and how I was going to make a living from them. Thankfully I had gained so much from Frank Covey’s leadership training that it gave me the confidence in what I had. That was a moment of which I had the courage to let go.
Fast forward. I come home, it is easy at first then it gets hard. Apparently asking people to pay you to listen to their problems is quite the uphill task unlike at the NGO where clients were there and my skill was all I needed. Now I need more than my therapeutic skills. I also need marketing. I decide to get into politics and it makes things worse, it makes me realize the damaged systems and the trauma of the people.
I realize I cannot help if I cannot find an economic function to my skills. Letting go is not an easy journey as you already know and one has to be prepared for the pain and to truthfully face the self. One morning I wake up to major mood swings, I am on my periods and broke. Dead broke. I cannot afford pads. My ego is full to the brim and I cannot imagine myself asking for a coin from anyone not even my supportive partner. I am regretting why I quit my job and blame myself for all the ills that were befalling me. I have been experiencing a bout of depression, I am stuck in that bedroom waiting for my fate to find me. My feeding was horrible and nights were sleepless if anything they were moments when all the troubles came to mind. I asked myself why I was so ashamed of asking. It is in that moment that I started cutting my dreadlocks one by one thinking of selling just feeling the shame in my very being. I posted this picture on a private FB group where I have created a very respectable image of myself. I pour out my heart and I just want to feel this shame wholly, if it kills then let it get to its end. I wanted to feel all the shame, I just wanted to let go this burden of trying to hold myself so highly when I did not deserve nor belong. It is in this moment that I saw the truth in “problem shared is halfed”.
I started receiving money from strangers, 10,000, 15,000, 5,000, 1000….. I was so rich that day. I got back into the mitumba business. I paid off debts and saved some amount to invest in myself. It is here that the idea of the Alchemist was born. I took a challenge; that I would go to the Alchemist order an orange drink then say hello to at least one stranger. I took a self-challenge to get better because if I am to sell anything, I have to go out and sell myself. I would go out meet people I do not know and interact with a new world.
That was going to earn me an uber ride back home and if I do not then I would use a matatu. The deal was that I would leave when they close. The wealth of experiences, the strangers I met, the businesses I sealed. All it needed was me getting out there and presenting to the world who I was. I healed big time through the music and dance. Two people stuck with and somehow shaped my path. Next week I share more of the people I met.
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