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).

Thank You, 2013 – A Dreamer’s Year in Review

This has been a good year! Good in the sense that all my experiences (even the not so good ones) served a purpose. I do believe this year, I’ve been able to set a foundation for the life I’ll be building as the years roll on by. I really like who I’m becoming, and life this year has provided me with so many opportunities to help me uncover that even more.

First, I’d like to say that you dear readers might have noticed a decrease in the frequency of posts on this post, especially this year. To you all who really do enjoy what I have to say on here as it pertains to dreams, I’d like to apologize for it  but know that it is not without good reason.

This year, the deeds part of the blog – of Dreams and Deeds  – (glance over the about section of the blog if you may) took much more precedence, whereas it’s always been second nature for me to emphasize about the dreams. In essence, I was taking action (in my own little way that I can) towards achieving some of the dreams I’ve been talking about.

With the help of Facebook (and my journal), I’ll be sharing the highlights of my year in so far as they’ve helped to shape an outlook on life, where the daring (while somewhat small but yet scary!) for carrying out the deeds that’ll help fulfill certain dreams which as as a result makes me more open to what life has to offer. [The colored words in the post are clickable links for your perusal]

In *retrospect, it’s so beautiful to see how these experiences have in some way shaped the things I’ve written on here on the blog and vice versa.

*From the words of a man, Soren Kierkekaard, who I consider to be my favorite philosopher (what do you know, he’s an existentialist! Big surprise, eh?) :

Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.

And as I look back in order to understand the life I’ve lived forward since January of this year, I’ll talk about personal experiences of each month while also sharing the posts I managed to write in the respective months.

In January, right after graduation last year, I started work with an After School program. This will be my first job ever, and I’ll leave you to imagine the excitement at receiving my first pay stub. Looking back, this most likely set the tone for the year where I managed to find myself in a series of firsts. Here on the blog, there were posts about: goals for the new year; honoring the legacy of Martin Luther King; the human nature, and it’s longing for exploration.

The words shared from the third post about exploration reads:

The only limit is the one you set yourself.

And this I’ll come to understand, if only a bit, in the next few months.

I started off the very first day of February with an interview for a position that’ll later provide the content for the only post on the blog for that month. I would tell you whether I got the position or not, but I think I’ll let you check it out to find out for yourself.

Following the one of the goals I made for the year, Goal #13  – aptly titled: DO, I managed to watch a football game (the whole game!) I also managed to, as part of Goal #13, take more interest in politics by watching the State of the Union Address. For Goal #18, aimed at embodying the “we” spirit, I found myself assisting a friend with his project. 

The Diploma arrived at my doorsteps. I wrote a poem (about love) and a friend helped me to record it. As part of The Making A Difference Project by Jeremy Lin –  to support nonprofits that serve underprivileged youth in Houston, TX – PAIR (Partnership for the Advancement and Immersion of Refugees), an organization I was privileged to spend two semesters volunteering for won. A vote was all it took, from me and friends I shared the link with, and friends of those friends who shared the link and…. The next few months following this, the pictures from current volunteers and staff at PAIR will be testament to the impact of the support.

February was far from over though. On Facebook, I decided to pick someone randomly for each day of the week, and post as a status something nice (at least I hoped!) about them. The mere fact that I completed it was a success! Let alone the fact that I was able to add something of worth to people’s days. I’d like to think I was mostly influenced to do so by this video from SoulPancake. The month ends well, with me coming across a quote that will become defining (Whatever you do, don’t skip to October!) in the next few months.

“Be humble you are made of earth. Be noble you are made of stars”

March was mostly a fight for LIFE. It brought with it a reminder of a friend’s death the previous year. I avoided two collisions (with my first car, which I just started driving that month!). I cried! And the will to live was oh so essential! And live, I did. At times, all it took was something as simple as: reading a book – The Invitation; getting out to hang out with other people; conversations that sparked possibilities; the honest smile of a child – upon recalling a memory. And before the month ended, I could say:

You ever look back, smile, and say to yourself “It’s been a good life!”? I just did

It doesn’t come as a surprise to me that April was spent outside of Facebook – account was deactivated. The 3rd day of this new month, with me attending a simulcast event of TEDxChange, would later mark the material inception of my journey towards becoming a TEDx speaker.  There were small moments that ultimately coalesced into being able to write in my journal:

#Grateful: For Life. For all than I am, and all that I hope to be. Life is beautiful.

Also from my journal,

“I was totally captivated by the words of Rumi; and shouted like a maniac especially after reading most of the words…”

This would explain the post about him on the blog for the month. Interestingly, the only one for this month (I’m noticing a pattern here!)

I started this blog a year ago in May, which would by itself not have started if not for my experience at LeaderShape (also a year ago in May!) Few friends I made at LeaderShape graduated. There was another accident, which this time resulted in scratches (albeit minor) on the car. With the Citizenship Interview, I took a step closer to becoming a US citizen. I finished my position as an After School Counselor, but didn’t finish without the realization of how much of a difference I have made (and can make) in the lives of kids.

In June, I became an American. With an invitation to speak then perform a poem at the TEDGlobal 2013 simulcast, my TEDx journey continued.

Third day into July, a conversation to continue the journey took place with the TEDxHouston organizers. I visited a waterpark, something I do believe counts as achieving Goal #13, and tried to learn how to swim…key word: tried!

August started with a job interview for the Grad. Assistant position I currently have. Well, I started Grad. School (a specialist degree in School Psychology) Yet another first, I paid my first rest…ever! In what became an interesting turn of events, a camping trip with some friends became a visit to the beach. Again, Goal #13.

In September, I turned 23. 6 days before I did, there was another accident. The declaration in my poem, Unmask, becomes even much more stronger.

I am alive…I am here for a reason!

My journey led me to the TEDxHouston stage in October. (Clicking the picture will take you to the video)

TEDxHouston 2013 - Ayokunle Falomo

If you watch the video, you’ll hear me mention something about the ubuntu philosophy which brought to me a realization that “I’m a product of the people I’ve surrounded myself with.” And I’m surrounded by people who are doing seemingly simple yet extraordinary things.

November rolled by, and with events I was invited to, I was able to spend time with people (friends who I’d known a while; and ones who, strangers before, recently have just become so) who identify with the same mission of making the world a much more friendlier place…in rather simple ways too. Some conversations sparked creative ideas…for life, as well as the work I do as a poet! For Thanksgiving, while I did not have a post on the blog, there were a few things to be thankful for:

Thanksgiving 2013 status

And now December! I *finished my first semester as a graduate student (*for one, and considerably well, for another). Celebrated yet another graduation with friends. Overcame my irrational fear of using the washing machine (for some reason, I thought I would ruin either the machine, my clothes or who knows, both!) Just two days ago, had success with using chopsticks for an entire meal where before I would’ve ended up asking for a fork. And now, the end of the year.

Of course, I’m only writing exactly the things I’d like for you to know. Life, and our stories of it, does not present itself to us in a linear manner as I have managed to do here but the distractions, diversions, and even complete derails on this journey that we are all taking is minor, well, only in the face of the big dreams we have.

I am in no way dismissing experiences I’ve had this year of nights that sleep and food had to be sacrificed; nights when even with small victories, mistakes and perceived failures seemed so overwhelming enough to keep the tears flowing; car breakdown, eventually! (could be a result of the accidents I documented above?); days of insecurity, and bouts of self-doubt even when there’s a lot to be confident about… 

These are few things I could show you from my journal but that wouldn’t be necessary because in the same journal, you’ll see these words:

“…you don’t learn any other way but through experience and I am willing to go through life experiencing everything; that’s how you grow!”

For me, “everything” includes the fun moments, as well as the not-so-fun ones. And on that note, I’ll end the post the same way I began:

[2013] has been a good year! Good in the sense that all my experiences (even the not so good ones) served a purpose.

And if you’re wondering my plans for 2014, it’s simple (though it’s easy to want to avoid it): LIVE, by embracing ALL that life has to offer. The 22 goals will continue in some shape or form, and this post by a friend (with things like: Dance even if there’s no music, Live purposely, etc…) is an inspiration for things that I can incorporate to living fully as well. A word which I hope will drive all my action for the new year is PARTNERSHIP. And this, I’ll seek purposefully!

Readers, I’ll say the same thing to you as I would myself: have yourself a prosperous year ahead! Dreams are fun, but please, let’s take action…in the little ways we can.

Of Dreams and Deeds: One Year Later…

blog_anniversary1

A year ago today, I started this blog, Of Dreams and Deeds. It was meant to chronicle my journey as a dreamer – the actions (deeds) I’m taking to make sure those dreams come true. This blog was created following my experience at LeaderShape. Read the ABOUT page to find out what that means. Really, there’s a couple of reasons to be excited that a year later I’m still writing on here.

First, this blog is more FOR me than it is for others. It’s enabled me to learn how to better navigate this often-bumpy terrain of dreams. I tend to forget…a lot, and coming back to read some of the things I’ve written over the past year has helped redirect my wheels back on the road I’ve steered off. 

Second, it’s the fact that there are people who actually care enough to read this blog. There are people I know, and there are people I don’t.

And without being as wordy as I tend to be, I want to thank every single person who has visited this page. I really don’t care how you got here – whether intentionally or by accident – I just want to believe that whatever you’ve read on here has contributed to your life in the smallest way imaginable.

Below is a snapshot of some of the places in the world where my blog has been read over the past year. It’s kind of exciting!

1 Year Anniversary Blog Visits

Of course, there’s still a lot to say about dreams. As long as I’m still alive, and still dreaming, I’ll keep saying all I have to say on this blog (to remind myself how beautiful it is to be a dreamer still) This is all in hopes that someone other than myself can join in the many quests that are yet to be made.

I could go ahead and say that I love everything I’ve written on here and that would be nothing but the truth. However, there are certain posts I find myself coming back to. And just to be honest, there are posts I don’t remember writing.

Judging by the number of views they’ve received, I’ll be sharing the most popular posts on the blog. Do click the titles and you’ll be linked to the original posts.

Here:

Exploration: It’s Human Nature

The post features a Red Bull clip about human exploration. It rightly assesses that “it’s human nature to want to explore, to find your line and go beyond it…” and reminds us that “the only limit is the one you set yourself”

The Makings of Me: On My 22nd Birthday

Man, I was so glad to be 22. The post mentions that “a lot of things I do today have been 22 years in the making. And still, I don’t think I’m there just yet…but there is no doubt that I am very close.” I shared a spoken word poem of mine then, and the words “Did you know, that I am not done?!” masked as a question continue to resound as a declaration for me to keep dreaming! Also, I decided to set some goals for myself (some of them I’ve managed to fail, some I’ve managed to accomplish)

My Deepest Fear

This is one of my favorite posts. It contains some of the most beautiful words I’ve written…EVER. It might have something to do with the fact that I actually truly believe those words. It speaks of “my greatest fear [which] is owning up to the fact that there is absolutely nothing ordinary about me.” I’ve realized from people who’ve read the post that I’m not the only one that suffers from this disease, Mephobia – the fear of becoming so awesome that the human race can’t handle it and everybody dies. Well…

I Wonder What My Bedsheets Say

I really do! “…Sometimes I wonder what my bed sheets say about me when I’m not around…” are words from Rudy Francisco. These are words from his poem, My Honest Poem. The poem influenced me to write my own honest poem – an attempt to UNMASK. In essence, this post is about integrity – doing the right thing when no one is looking; the right thing here, telling our stories exactly as they are. No edits! That includes being honest about our failures as well as successes. And if I were to be honest, I haven’t done a really good job at that. 😦

Possibility; It’s an Art

It speaks about the art of possibility, defined by myself as “The production, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance of anything that is possible!” This post is largely influenced by Benjamin Zander’s book aptly titled The Art of Possibility. I have 2 copies for myself, and I’ve given 4 copies out as gifts. If there is anything that speaks to the dreamer in all of us, it’s the fact that “every little thing is possible now”

Honorable Mention:

…& the tears keep flowing

This is a good followup to the post above. I wrote:

If Benjamin Zander, the author of “The Art of Possibility” – a book that continues to shape my life as it pertains to visions, dreams, etc. – were to have been given the chance to assess or judge my life this week, his verdict would be that I have not been living in the realm of possibility, but rather scarcity.

In the post, I give you a glimpse into my life: Nights when I get derailed and lose sight of my dreams. And so, I cry. It features a picture of words from my Journal. Transparency at its best if I may say!  It was an attempt at telling my story the way it is, no edits a la the directives from I Wonder What My BedSheets Say…

There are other posts I’ve written on here that I am really proud of. Of course – being the human I am, not totally free from bias – I might as well give you a link here to every post I’ve written, but I’ll leave you to browse through the blog and find the ones you might enjoy for yourself. Besides, I’d like to believe that’s more fun.

To dream or not to dream: How about all these posts I’ve written on here compiled in a book format one of these days? I already know what I think, but I’d like to hear what you think. Yay? Or Nay? And thanks to WordPress! 1 years though?

1 Year Anniversary Blog

Call Me By My Title 2

(In case you didn’t read the first one, you can HERE)

I’ll keep this brief.

I wanted a position that would have given me a title that speaks to the core of me. It passed the test every major decision I make have to pass – whether or not it feeds into my core values: Authenticity, Balance, Creativity, Growth, and Service. Well, I didn’t get the position.

The End!

Now, how’s that for keeping it brief?

Just in case you’re not familiar with the idea behind CALL ME BY MY TITLE, it’s a way of embracing (and even celebrating) failure, missed opportunities, mistakes, etc.

The title I would have assumed, if I was granted the opportunity for this new role, would have been perfect; especially since it’s in the line of the work I foresee myself doing for the rest of my life in the capacity of a school psychologist. Helping humans, and especially kids – since things we are introduced to when we are young tend to mold and shape us into the adults we become! – to realize their full potential is a lifelong passion of mine. The role, as a Behavior Technician, would have enabled me to work with autistic children to help them develop skills (developmental and social) needed for a functional life. Though I missed the chance at this opportunity, you can still call me by that title – for it represents who I am.

So, here’s a toast to a missed opportunity. Cheers!

And just before you think I’m crazy, below is the creed (as regards to failure and missed opportunities) I live by. Mull it over, maybe even try it once, and you might come to the conclusion that I’m not that crazy after all!

Robert Sutton: Reward success and failure, punish inaction!

Yeah, still sounds crazy, right? Well, “It’s important to have tried, and failed than not try at all is the message.

Before this new approach, receiving the rejection email (no matter how beautifully worded it was!) could have put a damp on my day, but it didn’t!. Well, at least it shouldn’t! – not when the kids I work with presently decided to draw pictures of me! In itself, that’s a reward right there! And they have no clue…

#MLK DAY: A Story and A Dollar + 1

Today, we honor the legacy of the man Martin Luther King Jr. He said a lot about many things in his lifetime, and his words still resound with folks everywhere. For me, one of such quotes from him is on service – one of my core values.

Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.

And like Martin Luther King, I am a dreamer…

I too have a dream

I (too) have a dream…

…about many things. I often revel in idealist visions, one which permeates the “I have a dream” speech, which I’m currently watching again to commemorate this day. This vision of his leaves no one out.

added: After I had finished writing this post, I remembered that this speech was played to us on the 3rd day of LeaderShape conference. This was meant to inspire us to create our own visions, vision being “mental pictures of what we want to create for the future.” These pictures often seem impossibly difficult to bring to reality, and it might take time – sometimes, the original dreamer might not even live long enough to be a part of it. Well…

I too have a dream

…that one day, I’ll travel across the world, telling and sharing stories (of mine and others) as an echo of that ideal sense of brotherhood among all men.

I have a dream

…to use these stories I tell to connect us all.

It is in light of that, in an effort to be an active participant in this putting together of the strands of our stories to make a collective whole that I listen unreservedly while others tell theirs.

I love strangers, mostly because they have the most exciting stories.

On Friday, as I approached the stop to catch a bus, I saw a man sitting by the curb playing a guitar. From my rough assessment, I would say he was probably homeless. I struck up a conversation with him and asked him how long he’d been playing for. He said 40, 12 of those years he stopped, and just began playing again 8 years ago. There is something for me to learn in that, as a dreamer:

to be relentless in the pursuit of my dreams, to not give up (at least not completely – to still come back to them even after I might have stopped for 12 years )

I told him one of my goals is to learn how to play an instrument before I die; I started learning the piano a while back but stopped 😦 I asked him to play some popular songs, and he obliged. He played Jackson’s “I’ll be there”, Stevie Wonder’s “My Cherie Amour”, and a song by Roberta Flack which I wasn’t familiar with. It was then he told me his age (59), and we started talking about the music he grew up on. And then we talked about my accent (who doesn’t?), and where I was from…

…And then, the bus came. There were still a lot I wanted to talk to him about though. I wanted to hear more of his story.

In retrospect, I think it was in the spirit of service that I lent my ear to listen to this man. As I was thinking about how to compose this post, I remembered THIS POST by a fellow blogger that motivated me to include, in the list of my goals, a random act of kindness.

Maybe this was it.

While we were chatting, I kept thinking about the lyrics from this song, I Need a Dollar:

“If I share with you my story, will you share your dollar with me?”

Luckily, I had two.

As we stepped inside the bus, I told him, “It’s not much, but you can use it for your bus fare.”

2012 Highlights PART 1

At the end of every year, it is a common tradition for most of us to reflect and think about what the year had been like. For me, it’s an interesting exercise because it forces me to remember. I almost live entirely in the future. I wouldn’t be a dreamer and have a blog that attests to that fact if I didn’t live in the future for the most part. This lack of attention to the past or even the present however is a defect, as it is the source of most of my anxieties. And I am anxious, and fearful…. a lot. I’m learning to live more and more in the present however, which explains the “deeds” portion of this blog’s title. These little things I engage myself with in the present help to alleviate some of the worries I may have about the future. These “deeds” in turn help to contribute to the realization of those “dreams” I have!

So because I might have problems remembering highlights of each month in this year, I have decided that I would divide the year into four quadrants to make things easier. For the moments I can find pictures, videos, links etc for, I’ll be adding them. Do click on the links!!! They’re even colored BLUE to make you identify them easier.

Bear in mind that I believe these accomplishments and highlights, minor as they might sometimes appear to be,  are springboards towards what the ultimate goal is – The Dream Institute, a dream without which this blog won’t exist. The purpose of the blog has been, and still remains:

to document those small steps (the deeds) which often seem insignificant and how they eventually lead to the ultimate dream(s)

So, without much further ado:

QUADRANT 1

I started Spring of this year 2012 by joining an organization by the name of PAIR (Partnership for the Advancement and Immersion of Refugee Youths), aimed at refugee kids in middle school as well as high school. Every Tuesday, we would go to their schools, help with any homework problems they may have, do some readings, do several activities for the purpose of helping them to become better acculturized to American life as they over time improve on their reading, comprehension as well as oral skills, in the English Language.

All in all, we served the role of mentors they could look up to as models to encourage them to further their education – whether high school for the middle school kids, or a college degree for the high school students . Few experiences I’m driven to write poems about, and this experience extracted one out of my pen, especially because of the lessons I was able to learn – of patience, appreciation of other cultures (most of them being from parts of Africa I didn’t know much about – Heck! What do I know of where I come from? – and East Asia), and service (one of my core values) among other things! Someday soon, I’ll share that poem. Still continuing in that spirit of diversity for this quadrant, I was opportune to be part of Bauer MBA Global Experience where I was able to represent Africa – as a Nigerian – through a poem performance. This perfectly concluded the first quadrant since it happened on the 31st of March.

QUADRANT 2

LeaderShape happened during this quadrant.  In essence, the birth of this blog. My LeaderShape experience prompted me to start this blog to document some of the remarkable things I was able to learn during the six day period I was there at Camp Cho Yeh. In summary, everything we were taught all boiled down to this: to actively pursue our dreams in an envisioned world of endless possibilities with integrity.

LeaderShape no doubt since May has been influential to the way I view life in general and more especially in relation to dreams and vision, and one of the vision I was able to identify during the event was The Dream Institute.  I look forward to one day when I’ll be responsible for creating a kind of repository where resources are available and given to help a kid birth a dream. Visions are expandable as I’ve pointed out earlier on this blog, so this is not limited to only kids. According to Picasso:

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.

In the same vein, we all start off dreaming as kids, and often we stop dreaming because we consider it a childish endeavor.  We decide to move on to other ‘grownup things.’  This is the reason my original vision is to kids, to the kid in all of us who still longs to dream.

During this quadrant as well, I got the opportunity with a organization called Justice For Children for an internship that exposed me to the child advocacy field. Receiving calls from parents who have every reasons to concerned about the safety of their children against abuse or neglect really does open one’s eyes to what the world can be like. This experience further fueled the desire to continue to do my part to alleviate some of the pain caused by such misfortunes in whatever manner I can; my future career as a school psychologist, educator and poet being just a fraction of that!

Speaking of fractions, I’ll continue in another post to discuss the highlights of the year 2012 for me. It definitely has been a great year (what with me turning 22 during the 3rd quadrant, and graduating with a bachelors degree in the last quarter of the year) and I eagerly look forward to what 2013 has to offer. More on the other quadrants soon.

And I wish you all a HAPPY NEW YEAR in advance!

This is the end . . . Skyfall (next year) is where we start

#Thankful

Well, it’s the season of thanksgiving  And one thing I am thankful for, among many other things, is for the people who read this blog. I am grateful because it’s reassuring to know that my words have an impact on people.

It reaffirms what I said in the post “My Deepest Fear”, that:

I can’t lie to myself anymore that I don’t have something to offer the world…that I am not needed here. That I have nothing to contribute.

The words on this blog are just words, right? But no, the reactions of you all to the things I write definitely make me want to continue. (I myself am surprised at what people say most times. I sure do want to hear more of it!) For the comments, and to those who share the words I’ve written on this blog, thank you!

It’s really humbling that I’ve gotten visitors to this blog from virtually every continent in the world. Here is a current breakdown of the views I have from different countries.

Country Views:

United States 490
United Kingdom 49
Norway 42
Nigeria 21
Pakistan 9
Philippines 7
Canada 7
India 5
France 3
Russian Federation 3
Australia 3
Jamaica 2
Indonesia 2
South Africa 1
Peru 1
Viet Nam 1
Malaysia 1
Taiwan 1
Spain 1

Sure, there are days the blog has zero views, there are days it has 7, there are days it has 22… you get the point! But despite the inconsistencies of the views, I still am thankful. For you & everyone else that stops here once in a while.

Gratitude is something I don’t take for granted. I’ve actually been accused of saying “thank you” a little too much. And I admit, I am guilty! And the things I’m thankful for are things like this: someone clicking a link to something I’ve written!

It does’t look like a lot but it is.

Since July 1st, I’ve been keeping a Gratitude journal: where for each day, I write down things I’m grateful for – for that particular day!

I pen down how grateful I am, for: moments where strangers smile at me, moments of laughter, the privilege that I get to have someone to pick me up if I need a ride somewhere, other several ways that people offer help, and opportunities I myself am grated to help others, ability to finish a project, articles, books I’ve read & are able to read & enjoy, poetry, music, the ability to sleep, to eat, great conversations – with friends  and strangers alike; & those in between, moments I’m able to talk to my family – my Mom and siblings, times I get to bond with my Dad,  moments that I didn’t miss my bus. Or moments I did, and lots of my other HOW FASCINATING moments like this – where I get to laugh at myself. How fascinating!!!

So, all this is my way of saying four words: Thanks, I AM GRATEFUL!