On 2016 – A review of the most hated year by a Dreamer-Doer

I think we can all collectively agree as a people that nationally (and even for the most part, globally), 2016 was a crappy year, without a doubt!

In the midst of everything that happened, including witnessing the year take a lot from the world at large, the nation, and even the people closest to me, I still managed to not just survive, but thrive.

2016 is kind of like the old lady who just recently moved into the neighborhood that everyone hates, because they think she’s a witch, and because it was when she moved in that kids started dying, husbands started losing their jobs, marriages started to split, car accidents (let’s say about 6) happened…and guess where, at the front of her house. I mean, it’s really kind of hard to not want to agree with everyone else that she might be somewhat responsible, but…

…then you remember the apple pie she baked for you when it was your birthday (you still don’t know how she knew it was your birthday but eh, who cares, you have apple pie to stuff your face with!), and how you were pretty much balling so hard during the summer, because, thanks to her, you had a job – helping her around the house, washing plates, laundry, mowing her lawn, etc. and went home with baked goods + the dopest meals every single night!

What I’m saying is, while I can sympathize with my friends and family members and the world at large regarding how messed up this year was for almost everybody, the same year was consistently good to me. What 2016 has been to a lot of people I know was what 2015 and 2014 especially were to me.

What I’m saying is that I can literally mention at least one thing that happened each month throughout this year that proved to be significant to my trajectory as a person. So, that is exactly what I’ll do, list at least one thing for each month of this year for which I didn’t even really expect but am grateful for.

This year started off, in January, with a feature in a local magazine here in Houston. Also, I started a podcast with my friend, Jose Avalos Estrada. It was mostly a learning experience, I’d say for both of us, but I’ll say myself definitely.

In February, my friend, Sade Champagne invited me to join her on her radio show to share some words. Also, considering it was the month of love, I release an audio project of love poems, titled my song is love. Also, I was also asked to be a digital ambassador for the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts‘ CounterCurrent Festival 2016.

For March, I was awarded a fellowship by the American Psychology Association (APA), pretty much the highest honor I’ve received so far in my field, and it didn’t hurt that it came with $6000 and expense paid trips to conferences later in the year. An interview I did with The Lunar Cougar, the online blog that features profiles of University of Houston alumni, in January was posted.

In April, I was featured as a spotlight student via the Graduate Studies department of my alma mater, Sam Houston State University. Also, my friend Sade Champagne gave me the opportunity to host the “Sharing Your Story” segment of her show, where I gave the listeners some tips and encouragement on writing, etc.

Also, my work (a write up about identity – how I’m coming to terms with my experience as a “black” immigrant to the United States from Nigeria) got published on The Black Expat.

In fact, I, , forgetful me, found out midway into this that I actually wrote a recap of the first quarter on the blog.

Soon after, it was May, and it was then that I graduated with a Specialist Degree in School Psychology from Sam Houston State University. In May, I got myself a passport as a graduation gift to myself. Also, my friend, Charles (a Teacher) sent me a message to tell me that he found one of my poems in his school’s poetry resources for teacher.

In June, I finished my internship with Humble ISD as a Specialist in School Psychology Intern. And an adventure started – my first trip, another gift to myself, outside of the United States, to Costa Rica. Also in June, the poetry community I call home, Write About Now, was featured in the Houston Press.

In July and August, the adventures continued. I got the opportunity to travel to New York, Washington DC, Baltimore, Denver Colorado, and Atlanta, thanks, in part, to the fellowship from APA. Many many experiences to recount that will have to be another post if I were to do each justice.

In August, I started my first year as a Specialist in School Psychology with the same district. I signed the lease to my very own apartment – the first I’d have all to myself; brought a one man play infused with poetry to the Houston Fringe Festival. Also, I got the opportunity to work with my very good friends at Goodspero on a series of videos for my newest project.

In September, I turned 26, which is to say, I made it past 25! Also, I shared again, the introduction to a video series of the new project – kin.DREAD (more on that later)

As September ended, I had the opportunity to compete alongside some remarkable individuals who also poet remarkably in what is known as Texas Grand Slam.

In October, I met one of my poetry inspirations – Rudy Francisco, had the courage to share publicly, for the first time, (through Facebook) a deeply personal story about my past struggles with mental health, spent a Sunday morning with new friends on a beach in Galveston, witnessed my work ( a poem from Texas Grand Slam) get featured on the Write About Now YouTube Channel for the very first time, and I announced the desire to tour the kin.DREAD project – which as I type this, is a reality.

In November, I voted for the very first time, celebrated 9 years of being a US resident, celebrated the very first Thanksgiving where the whole of my family is in the US, and handled the cooking, witnessed two of my friends get married to each other, and came out alive of a situation at my workplace that resulted in a lockout/lockdown of the whole school.

This month, December, I started it by sharing the news about my tour. Soon after, another video of a poem, the most important I’d ever written if I’d be permitted to say that, from Texas Grand Slam was posted by Write About Now. Also, I finished paying off my school loans from Grad school (thankfully didn’t have any for my undergrad, thanks to Dad and grants), an interview I did with Millennial Faith Podcast got posted, and… well, it’s still December, so…

I’m sure I missed a few things and there sure are many more seemingly small moments over the course of the year that I could have shared, but these are just the highlights that, as I said, added substantially to my development personally and professionally.

As I’ve shared on Facebook, my word for 2017 will be BLOOM. For 2016, it was TRUST, and it was the perfect word to guide me through the year – to be reminded constantly to let go of my desire to control everything and trust that everything is working for my good. As you’d notice, there was a lot of firsts this year – and it was hard to not want to spread my wings for fear of falling, but then again, that’s where trust came in.

This year, for me, though a lot happened, was a lot of preparing, planting, watering, pruning, etc. I so cannot wait to share the flowers I’ve been tending, in all their glorious shades and hues, with you all in the coming year.

I sympathize with you if 2016 wasn’t as kind to you. I do hope though that your 2017 is grand! And it definitely can start now 🙂

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How can I support you?

How can I support you?

So, how can I support you?

You might be wondering, what does this have to do with dreams? – ’cause, for the purpose of this blog, it always has to come back to that, you know? Well, here’s an attempt:

You have friends. Or even, there is…YOU. And you all have dreams that you’ll like to accomplish but don’t have the expertise, or the resources, or the reach, or access to make it a reality. What do you do? Give up the dream? Go in search of people who can help you, who can support you? What if they can’t? What if they can but just don’t think much of your dream? These are questions…

Now, imagine someone actually comes up to you and asks you:

So, how can I support you?

What do you say? How do you respond? Well, if you’re me, you’re speechless for a few seconds. It’s unexpected. It’s rare. Which is why when I was asked, I was stunned.

Eventually, when I could find the words to say, I said something about a new project I am currently working on. But, I’m not sure that I actually answered the question. I’ve been thinking about it since then.

So, do tell, how would you have answered that question, fellow dreamers? Also, have you heard a question that left you similarly stunned recently? Do share!

And here’s a challenge: Go do the same – and mean it! – for someone you know. It just might make a world of difference to them (and their  dreams).

is this my life? | a 2016 first quarter recap

I think it’s a rather customary thing for me to do now — to apologize that I haven’t been here in so long (the last time being at the beginning of the year, in January)…except this time, well…

I’ve been busy. & we’re not even halfway into the year yet.

 – just a heads up: before you keep reading, the blue colored phrases/sentences below are links, click them/save as bookmarks to check out later  –

This post is in the same vein as what I did in 2014 – a year in review for each quarter of the year. Since a whole quarter (that’s 4 months y’all – January, February, March, April) is already gone in the year 2016, I thought I’d update you all on what this dreamer’s been up to.

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The picture above has really been my facial expression for most of this year. An expression of disbelief that this is the life that I get to live. If you haven’t guessed, it’s amazing!!!! It is not without its own challenges and difficulties, of course, but it is nothing short of amazing. Something major happened to me literally every month in this year.

In January, as I shared on here, I was featured on the cover of Local Houston Magazine alongside 8 other Houstonians, in celebration of diversity. In the same month, I announced my collaboration with one of my friends, Jose Estrada: a podcast, titled Riffs of Inspiration.

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February rolls along, and I get the chance to be interviewed by Sade Champagne on her radio show – Sade Champagne Show. Additionally, I released a project of love poems, my song is love, that I am still very much proud of — even more so because if it were up to 2015 me, it would not have happened. I was also asked to be a digital ambassador for the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts‘ CounterCurrent Festival 2016.

In March, I was awarded a fellowship by the American Psychology Association, and it remains the highest honor I’ve received during my training in Psychology. An interview I did with The Lunar Cougar , the online blog that features profiles of University of Houston alumni, in January was posted.

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I also got back on the mic after a long while (2 months is a long time away from something I love), and won a poetry slam – took home $10 -, then had the privilege of joining some remarkable individuals at Write About Now‘s stage for its Gentlemen’s Mic night.

Well, April brought with it the pleasure of being featured as a spotlight student via the Graduate Studies department of my school, Sam Houston State University. You can watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdOky4P-QHE

Grad Studies Spotlight of the Month

Also, Sade Champagne (who interviewed me on her radio show in February) announced that she’ll be adding me as a new castmate on her radio show, by bringing me on to host a new segment titled “Sharing Your Story” for the next season. What I’m supposed to do? – give the listeners some tips and encouragement on writing and how to share their authentic story with courageous transparency: something I know how to do well.

Also, my work (a write up about identity – how I’m coming to terms with my experience as an immigrant to the United States from Nigeria) got published on The Black Expat.

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Also, I had the opportunity to compete alongside some brilliant poets for a spot on Write About Now’s team, in preparation for a national poetry competition. It was only the semi-finals. I made it to the finals, but we’ll see if I make as a member on the team in May.

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Remember that digital ambassador thingy for CounterCurrent16, well, I essentially wrote poems for/inspired by some of the events that I attended…and they were awesome enough to share them. You, if you care to, also can read them here: http://afalomopoetry.tumblr.com/tagged/countercurrent16

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In the next few days, specifically May 6, I’ll be graduating from Sam Houston State University with a *Specialist Degree in School Psychology (*what’s that mean, you ask? Well, a way to explain it is that it’s a lot more hours than a regular Master’s degree, and a lot less hours than a Ph.D…and it’s, well, a degree in a specific specialization lol) and I’m still here wondering if this is really my life.

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And you’ll ask if I am still scared of my light, of how much I still have left to accomplish…and I’ll give a resounding yes. I don’t think the answer will ever stop being yes.

I’m also kinda slowly but surely working my way through my 25 goals for my year 25. So, we’ll see about that…soon.

Till next time… keep dreaming. Dreams do come true. My life surely is a testament to that!

For anyone who feels far from their dreams

…or as if it will never happen for you, here is an encouragement:

History is FULL of people who overcame great odds to walk in their ordained destiny! People who lived the impossible. We are still benefiting from their resilience, and every day the word impossible becomes smaller and smaller. For nothing is impossible!

Spend time around people who empower, encourage and challenge you. Read about and watch videos of people who are living their dreams- especially if it’s similar to yours. Find people in your community who think big and dream bigger! People who challenge the status quo. Their lives will inspire you and uplift you. You won’t have to look far. I ATTACH myself to people who are following their dreams and making a positive impact in the world. I feast on testimonies, miracles, positivity, optimism and encouragement.

You are not ordinary. No, you are EXTRAORDINARY- made to walk on water! A beloved child of LIGHT. Every single person was created out of the overflow of LOVE!

written by, and shared with permission from, Sade Champagne.

Happy New Year + Feature in Local Houston Magazine

Happy New Year + Feature in Local Houston Magazine

Not a bad way to start the new year, eh?

To say the least, I am honored to be on the cover with these individuals. I know two people on there – Karen (center middle row) and Ilham (left top row), and reading the write up on the others, I can easily say that I am in good company. Please, head on over to Pages 62 and 63 to read more on (and also share) their stories. Link here: http://www.joomag.com/magazine/january-2016/0814543001451325863?short

Ayokunle Falomo. Local Houston Magazine January 2016

It is customary for me to have a word (or two, as was the case last year – create + partnership) to guide me through the year, and as I shared in the previous post, my word for 2016 is TRUST – aided by courage and authenticity.

I really do hope to hear a lot more from you all this year. So, I’d love to know (if you don’t mind sharing), what is yours?

Here’s to a wonderful 2016, and I hope it’s off to a great start for you too.

2015 – A Dreamer’s Year In Review

2015 – A Dreamer’s Year In Review

Just as much as I did in 2014, I fought…to live. to live life to the fullest. Many things happened that attempted to stop me, that made me want to seek to embrace the hopelessness that often accompanies a dissatisfied life, rather than the hope I know that’s proven to be helpful in navigating my world as a dreamer. But, I fought.

I was dissatisfied, discouraged, disappointed…a lot in 2015.  I had to learn how to fight…for joy, in spite of…

It was not an easy year. It’s quite interesting though that as I looked through the pictures I took this year, though they were not in any way flashy, they tell a different story. They tell a story of someone doing a hell of a job achieving his dreams…

However, the moments I did not (or rather, could not dare) take pictures of tell a totally different story. They tell the story of a man who struggled, who failed, who fell…and who sometimes didn’t want to get up. They tell the story of a man who gave up…often a little too easily, and sometimes, not nearly enough. A huge portion of my 24th year – before my 25th birthday in September – was spent in 2015, and I wrote/said a few words about how tough it was in this post.

The last few months of 2015 compensated for how hard this year has been, but the “harvest” (so to speak) still wasn’t enough for me to understand why life had to forcibly teach me certain lessons.

To finish off the year on a good note, a friend of mine hosted a vision board party for the year 2016 a few days ago, and we each came up with a list of things we wanted to really accomplish in 2015 that we failed at. Mine below:

– get sponsorship deals
– get paid for speaking
– sell 1500 copies of my book: “thread, this wordweaver must!
– pay off school loans
– do a better job with posting on this blog. I failed to keep the promise I made at the beginning of the year.
– and, (I did not write this one down though) get a poem into a journal

Trust me, there were many more that I didn’t share. I just felt these were some of the most important personal failures.

After we finished, we decided to talk about why some of these goals were not accomplished, and see how we could, going forward into the new year, do a better job. Some words came to mind as we shared, and we put them on a board (below)

excuses for 2015

I have no promises to make for the upcoming year. We’ll just have to see how it goes.

And as is my tradition to choose a word for each year, the word that’ll be guiding me in 2016 is: trust. A lot of it! This trust, as I understand it, will be aided by courage and authenticity.

For 2015, it was two words: partnership + create. And I believe I succeeded in doing that.

If I can make one promise, you’ll hear from me soon.

Happy Thanksgiving

…to each one of you readers. The significance of the blog wouldn’t mean much to me without you. It’s true!…to you dreamers and doers. You continue to inspire me to do, to dream.

Your role is a unique one – you see what can be & work towards making it a reality….to all the contributors who have shared their insights about what it means to be a dreamer-doer.

…to those who can say along with Mary Oliver:

“My work is loving the world.
”

Have a Happy Thanksgiving 🙂 There’s always more to be done, but take time, especially today

…to rest and appreciate the little (or much) that’s been done,

…to be grateful for the dreams that have come true, and those you still patiently wait for.