Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Art of Living- Leo Babauta


For many years I simply lived, and got by.

But in the last few years, after learning a bit about habits and mindfulness and simplicity and love, I have changed my approach to living.

Now I see living as an art form, to be studied and played with and practiced and mastered. Of course, few ever master the art of living, and I don't know if I ever will. Probably not.

But I can pursue this art. I can appreciate it when others do it well. I can learn about it, through experiments and observation and introspection.

My pursuit of the art of living is only just beginning, but I thought I'd share a bit about this pursuit with you, my good friends.

Beginning the Pursuit

The journey begins with a single step, a wise man said, and for me that first step is simple:

Admit I don't know.

Learning begins by emptying your cup, so that you can fill it with what you find. Emptying your cup means getting rid of pre-set opinions.

I don't know what the art of living is, but I am curious.

And so the path is one of open hands, of curiosity and finding out.

And it's one of bare feet, of being open and naked, willing to be exposed to life and chaos.

It's about clear seeing, mindfulness turned to seeing reality as it is, without trying to make things rosy or conform to the story you tell yourself.

Clear seeing, naked, open hands, curious without knowing. That's the path that I've found, so far.

The Art Emerges

With clear seeing, I start to see why I (and others) suffer, why we stress and get mad at each other and want more and more.

And now I can start to apply the art of living to my days.

Here's what I practice with, imperfectly:

  • Compassion. Instead of being angry or frustrated, I find the pain in others, and open my heart to them. This includes compassion for myself.
  • Gratitude. Life is filled with wonder, and the people around me as well. I try to open myself to that wonder, and be grateful it's there, instead of complaining.
  • Joyfear. Joy is an awesome thing to have, but joyfear is present in the powerful moments in life where joy and fear mix, where we're taking chances and doing something outside of our comfort zone that both excites us and makes us face the possibility of failure. I now embrace these moments rather than avoiding them.
  • Not avoiding discomfort or uncertainty. When we avoid discomfort, we are limited by our comfort zone, and new learning and new ventures become impossible. When we avoid uncertainty, we only stick to what we know. But we can purposely become good at discomfort and uncertainty, by practicing in small bite-sized chunks, over and over.
  • Staying with the moment, even when it's hard. This is the hardest of all. "Living in the moment" sounds wonderful, but actually staying with the present moment isn't ever easy. Try it: with your eyes open, sit still and stay with the sights and sounds around you for 1 minute, without your mind wandering away from them. If you don't notice your mind wandering, either you're an experienced mindfulness practitioner, or you didn't notice when your mind wandered.
  • Relationships are everything. Getting what we want, having things our way, having control, being right … these things matter nothing compared to relationships. Imagine being in your death bed at the age of 80 … will your sense of being right and in control comfort you when you have no good relationships, no one who has loved you? Put relationships first.
  • Not holding on to expectations & judgments. Expectations and judgments prevent me from enjoying what I have, from enjoying the simple presence of someone else in my life. I practice with noticing these expectations and judgments, and practice with holding them loosely, letting them go.
  • Letting go. This is the art of living in two words: letting go. It's letting go of judgments, expectations, wanting to be right, wanting to control, fear of discomfort, fear of uncertainty, fear of failure, fear of boredom, comparing myself to others, wanting distraction, being irritated, complaining. It's noticing when I'm holding these, and letting go. Loosening my heart's grip on any of these, and letting go. And then letting go again. And again.

And so the art of living is a practice, one that doesn't end, that doesn't have a mastery level. It's a constant letting go, a constant picking up again, and then letting go again. And falling, and getting up without beating myself up.

The art of living is the art of getting back up.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Judicial Services Commission- Questions

I live in the quite dramatic country called Kenya. Inhabited by 35 million, only a few political players call the shots and everyone else seems to be invisible in Kenya.

Mrs. Gladys Boss Shollei, a former university lecturer, then Editor, Kenya Law, Deputy CEO at IEBC and formerly, Chief Registrar, the Judiciary has been what it seems unceremoniously sacked at the Judiciary.

The truth is i have not insider information from the judiciary apart from the newspaper "He said, She said". 

My questions for Kenyans is;
1. Don't we have anything better in this country that works or why are we fixated with a few people.

2. As we are fixated with these few people, a lot of them are making money with serious investments, huge ranches, good government deals etc. I wish i could have time to do my own " Who owns Kenya?"

3. Is this fixation, a smokescreen. That Kenyans may never move beyond fixating on these few political players and focus on improving their lives?.

4. Don't we ever learn?

Filed under Stupidity

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Ode to My Beloved-

I wrote this when i lost my auntie in 2010. I miss her terribly.

t is the end of the beginning of a beautiful story that would bring even the most genius storyteller into shame. As I sit here, not knowing what to do, scribbling furiously with my keyboard well, I refuse to go for a meeting to discuss your untimely demise for now, I don't know what to do. Yet I know, honestly, I do not have the strength to deal with everyday issues especially such as this one. But for sure, it will never be easy, not now, not ever.

I remember the day I met you. It was a sunny day, my great grandmother's funeral. It was your sense of style that struck me and I was barely 12 years. I thought you looked great, I didn't even know we were going in the same direction! Later I was to meet this lady my uncle was enamored with. I watched you two from a distance, sitting on the same mat, eating from the same plate and who would have thought one day I would be as wretched and grief stricken to watch you leave this earth without as much as a goodbye. Few years later, we had you in the family and even the success card you sent me in standard eight is somewhere in my box, the one I keep all the old letters.

We grew to love you, for you were giving without compromise and yet we all knew how strong you were. You took all of us like your own. You were like a second mum, we sat I talked, you listened, you gave me feedback. Even the way we got stuck during the post election violence when we didn't have fuel! Yet you gave my uncle life, you gave him babies and most of all you loved him in a way no one else could. I understand his pain now. Some people are just rare and maybe that's why God wanted you for himself. Gosh, the way you always brought samosas and gifts for my brother's birthday.
Now most I think of is your son, that whom you died for so that he may live. What a great sacrifice! I know he will never be grateful; it will be always a painful thing to him. A child left at its infantry with no mother and yet it is the greatest sacrifice that of love, the ability to give up your life for someone else, no one else could do that. Yet that heroic act is what we mourn today. We mourn all the young life you had, the beauty, your true spirit, the hope and the undying love you had for all of us.

Your laughter, wisdom is all etched in my mind today and thereafter. 

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Do you know your tenant? 2 simple ways to find out.

One of the worst rumours (or is it confirmed?) during the Westgate terror attack was that the terrorists might have been tenants of the Westgate Mall.

Some of us actually let out our premises to strangers without having any identity of the person/company renting the premises and as it has been shown this can be disastrous. It does not need to be a thorough review but using this 2 Government tools can save you a lot of headache later.

1. PIN Checker- Unless you are minor, it is a requirement to have a Personal Identification Number in Kenya. The PIN system at KRA is linked to the department of immigration. Using this link, you can check the validity of a PIN 

2. National ID - Given at 18 years of age, this is the document that is given as a form of identity in Kenya. One trick you can use is check the age of the person and usually, another person of the same age would have the same ID number (especially the first 2 digits of the ID are similar .

If someone insists that they are using a waiting car, you can check the status of the ID with a waiting number here or simply go to Immigration and confirm http://www.identity.go.ke/index.php/check-id-status

3. What about foreigners?
Well, they should have a passport, work permit/visa allowing them to stay in the country for a specific period of time and as a pre-caution do a google search/image search just to make sure they are not wanted criminals.

One thing i known about the majority of many Kenyans, they do a lot of things "chini ya maji" as we are inherently good people but well times are changing, kaa chonjo!Obviously, report any dubious person to the police.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Kid Entertainment in Nairobi Part 1- Karura Forest

Being stuck with a rambunctious 2-3 year old is something most parents dread so what do we do? Let them watch Dora the explorer, the whole day! We all know that is not good for their health.

Unlike when we were growing up, letting kids play outside especially in Nairobi is a risk i am unable to bear especially with such a young child. So what do you do with your young child?

These are my top kid entertainment and i am hoping that as a result of this post, others will share and i can expand my list.

Karura Forest!

This is my most favourite! I love taking my child to Karura Forest. These are the reasons why;
1. It is cheap. You only pay Ksh. 140 (100 for adult, 40 for child_ to enter the park.

2. Other places might be free, but there is a lot of lure to buy unhealthy foods and toxic toys

3. There are basically so many activities you can do with your child (you will have to be creative though)
Activities that you can do though include;
Cycling- I need to teach my daughter how to cycle but if your kid can cycle, they can do so without fear of being run over!

Tennis- They have a tennis court for practice sessions, i do not know how much they charge though. The coach told me to wait until my daughter is 4 years old so she can be "trainable".

Walking and Running
Usually, i will pack at the gate and we will walk to and from the KFEET centre which is 2 km walk, i have had to carry her on my back to the gate though! You can also walk your dog with some rules of course!

I remember when i bought the ball, the vendor asked me if my child was a boy! Of course i said no but i wonder why the stereotyping! Playing football on the open field is great for both of you!

Swings and Slides
There are very high quality swings installed by a steel company. There are 2 swings and 2 slides which are hardly in use! Go on rock yourselves out and remember how to swing.

4. Teaching
There is no better way to teach my daughter colours than with nature and with the fact there are so many flowers and butterflies, we can describe most of them.

There are so many things to see, the waterfalls, Lily Lake, the Caves!

Part 11 coming soon

Please check out the Friends of Karura Website

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Some tips on building a business

Businesses are registered by the hundreds at the Registrar of Companies every week and even more business are being run on the side without any formal registration. But does registering a business name or limited company make you a business owner? Here are some tips to transform your registered company into a business.

Tip 1: Have a plan

A lot of us Kenyans register businesses without a plan. I have in the recent past asked at least 5 small business owners if they had a plan before beginning to carry out their activities and it seems that many businesses operate without a plan. Why do you need a plan in first place?

A plan enables a business to map out revenue streams (in short, how the business will make money), where the business will play in terms of locale, target customers e.t.c. (you can't be everything to everyone!), how the business will  market its services and how much money is required to start?

As a business owner, If you approach the bank or Micro finance institutions or in the worst case scenario the venture capitalists, they will need to evaluate the business plan. That is to tell them, "how will you make money and how will you pay us" and if there are any chances of survival in the business field chosen within the prevailing socio-economic and political environment. After all, statistics show that new businesses do not survive the first six months. What I have just stated above is very simplistic, in the real world, a business plan requires a lot of research and most of the times companies hire an expert in this area.

Also market research is vital in that it provides a business with knowledge about its competitors and if there is viability in starting a certain company. When choosing a location or type of business, it is important to ask yourself if there are similar businesses in that area and even if there are, how your business will differentiate your products or service. I have seen butcheries located within a few steps of each other and in low populated areas and that just shows that the owner did not think about the location of the business.

A business that is not well thought out i.e. having considered the opportunities as well as threats prevailing might be one of the reasons a business may not survive. An example could be the recent demolition of a well-known garage on Westlands Road. The land on which the garage was built belonged to a private developer who as things may seem had not given consent for use of the land. I do not have a lot of details on this one but it makes little sense to build a huge customer base, brand equity and a business on a location that you are not sure of its ownership. I remember Barclays Bank refused to open a branch in Kasarani for the mere reason that the owner of the plot did not have a title deed. The thing is big businesses do not just do things for the sake.

To put up your business anywhere, have a lease, a business permit and any other thing that is required to operate your business or one day you might wake up to either government or city council demolition.





Tip no. 2 Register a Limited Liability Company

Registering a sole proprietorship is fine when you are starting and the finances are still tight but it is extremely crucial to register a Limited Liability Company. There is no difference between a sole proprietorship and the person.  The main advantage of a limited liability company is that it confers; Corporate personality – a limited company is a legal person and hence can own assets and liabilities protecting you as a person from taking liability for debts owned by a company. Resources



Learn to protect your company and your assets

There are many ways of protecting your company;

1.      Copyrights

2.      Trademarks

3.      Patents

The Kenya Intellectual Property Institute (KIPI) is charged with registering trademarks and patents while the copyright board is charged with registering copyrights.

Registering intellectual property does not require a lawyer to do! There is a misconception that it is a very complicated process involving a lot of money.  All you require is go to KIPI and ask for advice on how to progress with the registration.



Tip no. 3 Separate ownership and management

Richard Branson says that he is only involved in a company while setting it up and then leaves the Chief Executive to run the company, recruit staff and develop the company. Eventually, larger companies choose to list on the stock exchange.

Management is involved in the day to day running of the company.

In fact, in Robert Kiyosaki's Cashflow Quadrant, the greatest assets to an entrepreneur are OPM (other People's Money) and Other People's Skills. This is because the company can recruit persons with different competencies that will help you run the company and grow it to the next level.

Business development

Having a technical skill does not an entrepreneur make! There is a different set of skills that are required to let say run a company like Microsoft. Yes, the company may be known for software development but its main strength comes from shipping and selling products in most of the continent in different languages. I read an article from I suppose a frustrated technical guy at Microsoft showing how shipping a product is important for Microsoft. The techies might complain of a product having bugs and all but for most of consumers, if Ms. Word works, nothing else matters.

I have witnessed technical people trying to present to the Tender Committee and while they may know their product, let just say it's important to hire someone who can sell the product successfully.  


This article is not exhaustive on how you can develop and grow your businesses but there are a lot of resources online that you can read (and implement) as listed below;

1.      Maple Resource Centre http://www.maplekenya.com/


2.      Personal MBA www.personalmba.com

3.      Small business administrations (US based) http://www.sba.gov/

4.      Coursera runs courses throughout the year www.coursera.org


 "The most you can do for a friend, is be his friend."

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Is the workplace in Kenya ready for women

When i fell pregnant 3 things happened at my work place

1. I was passed over for a promotion.

2. I became the "most" invaluable employee according to my supervisor and almost lost my job

3. I changed departments because the current supervisor could not adjust.

When i came back from maternity leave, i was given one hour off for 3 months. That meant either i come in at 9 and leave at 5 and in Kenyan traffic terms, that means there is no real difference.

What about a mother's room you ask. I needed to express milk at least twice a day. I had to do it in a dingy room that was unused at the time. No provision was made, use that room ama jipange. I never looked at HR in the same way again.

I guess the long and short is workplaces are not ready for women or mothers and all we can wait with baited breaths is for our HR to read Lean In and adjust accordingly.

About women not scoring political seats

As i was waiting to vote, scores of women came with children issues. Some were pregnant (though you could hardly see), others picked the neighbours kids, others, maybe their own kids.

So if you cannot queue for 5 hours to vote because of women problems, how could you lead anything. I think those women seen as weak by the male influenced a lot of the decisions for men outside.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


It's been a while since i have blogged. There are many times i compose a whole blog in my head but somehow work and other priorities get in the way.

I really hope i get the motivation to blog soon as when i read through my old posts i can always tell where i was at the time and how far i have come from. It's always though a shaky moment for me as i can feel all the insecurities i suffered in my twenties.

There are many things that have since changed. I am now a mother of one little beautiful girl aged 2 years 8 months. I have changed jobs somewhat and that has been difficult but rewarding. When you are stuck in a legal job, you miss out on other growth areas.

I am now reading Zen Habit's How to find motivation and i hope it will help.