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.

@SadeChampagne on “the power in the middle”

Here’s a little piece of encouragement worth sharing, written by Sade Champagne, who is no stranger to this blog. She writes:

Don’t give up in the middle! Life is not always so glamorous during the in-between times. We often only see people’s beginnings (if that) and where they end up. But we hardly ever see the big chunk that many people get stuck in. Sometimes you might spend a lot of time or feel stagnant in the middle. In the doorway. You’re not where you started, but you don’t see the physical manifestation of your dream. It is precisely at this time you must decide to stay the course.

It’s OK to rest (I highly recommend living in rest), it’s OK to re-strategize or start over- but whatever you do DON’T THROW IN THE TOWEL! There is so much that takes place in the middle. You learn how to persevere and be steadfast- you can’t teach that. It can only be experienced. It can only be lived. You learn how to encourage yourself. You learn how to live from your inner being and not solely your emotions. You grow stronger in your dream. People, situations and places are being prepared and coming into alignment at the right time so that nothing will be lacking. You learn how to see things from expansive perspectives.

Every dream is for an appointed time- some for now, some for later. Just because you don’t physically see it today doesn’t mean it isn’t happening or won’t happen. Doesn’t mean it’s not fate! So suit up, get some popcorn and become well acquainted with the middle!! There is purpose in it. There is good stuff and life there too. Nothing and no one will be wasted.

Year in Review – Third Quarter

Don’t ask me how long I’ve been putting this off. There’s always much to say, but I often find myself promising not to say much these days…

Can you believe that we’re already done with more than half of the year, and after this month, only have 3 more months before it ends?

Well, here’s a summary of the year on this end so far:

During the first quarter, as I wrote in the year in review post for the first quarter of this year, I grappled with the idea of patience – learning to do while waiting for dreams to be realized.

The second quarter taught me to live (my mission for the new year) even when life gets overwhelming and becomes, in the words of C.S Lewis, too deep for words.

What this quarter has taught me is that you don’t have to be ready to begin, and there are numerous (or few) things that always need to be started which you might never be ready for.

Below is a quote I shared in July that quite describes this quarter well:

I’m no longer quite sure what the question is, but I do know that the answer is Yes.” – Leonard Bernstein

Quite a lot happened during this quarter actually. I did more of things that mattered to me, oftentimes much to my own surprise.

As I mentioned in the last post, a big dream of mine has been to have my name on the cover of a book, and during this quarter, I realized that dream. Like most things I did, I don’t think I was fully prepared for it, but it needed to be done.

As of September 5th, I can now call myself a published author. The collection of poems – thread, this wordweaver must!, which I announced on the post before this (link here: https://ofdreamsanddeeds.wordpress.com/2014/08/11/announcement-book-publicationtitle-reveal/), is now available everywhere books are sold. Really! You can get yourself a copy on

thread this wordweaver must on amazon

For the next six months, $1 of each copy sold will be donated to The Community Cloth. My goal, really, is to be able to at the end of six months donate $100 to The Community Cloth (that means 100 copies will have to be sold between now and February). Impossible? I think not.

I’ll be honest with you. For the past few months, I’ve been focused on metrics and stats…for every single thing! Those things in and of themselves are not bad, but it becomes critical when the utmost attention is placed on them, especially in using them to determine significance, worth, or impact. And that I’ve been guilty of! I have nothing bad to say about these tools we use to connect with each other, but I’ll be taking a break for the whole month (as soon as this week is over) from my social media accounts…and of course, school and other aspects of life require my attention.

Below are the highlights (because who wants to hear about the lows, right?) of this quarter:

In July, I worked along with PAIR – Partnership for the Advancement and Immersion of Refugees (an organization I volunteered for as a mentor in 2012) to put together a Career Day event for the kids.

PAIR Career Day Event 2014

Above is a picture via Nelson, who along with his wife and a few others of my friends from different disciplines – law, accounting, medicine, teaching, entrepreneurship, engineering, business, nonprofit – joined me to share insights with the kids about our fields, mine being School Psychology. Nelson and his wife, Jessica run a company called Goodspero which you can find out more information about here: http://goodspero.wordpress.com/about/

Also in July, I shared a video response to an article that was posted on BuzzFeed, originally titled “15 women say why they don’t need Feminism”. You can find the response – a poem in 15 parts below:

And then just before the month ended, I took home $50 as a prize for winning first place in a poetry slam competition.

As August rolled in, I announced the news about my book, and the month was marked by updates about the progress – meeting with designers, sharing test covers, etc. I also started my second year of grad. school in August

On September 12, I turned 24. Unlike when I turned 23, I’m still not sure how to feel about 24 to be honest. With September, in addition to realizing my dream of becoming an author, I had 2 events that allowed me to share my poetry.

There’s me in the picture above, taken by my friend, Valerie (reading from my book of poems) during an event this month at The Nook Cafe. And I finished the month by performing as the closing act at this year’s Houston Fringe Festival.

As as aside, if you wish to receive updates about what I’m doing next as it pertains to poetry, you can subscribe here: http://bit.ly/AFalomoSubscribe

Of course there are lows I choose to not talk about but as the next and final quarter of the year arrives, in addition to focusing more on detachment, I want to keep learning enoughness, to whelm myself in my adequacy, because if I’m honest, I’ve been failing royally at it, especially during this quarter.

In line with that, I’ll leave you with these lines from one of the poems in the book, titled Beauty II

…once it starts/it never stops,/this endless cycle/of trying to be better than,/of trying, to be more than/enough…

Till next time, go ahead and bask in your enoughness and I hope to share with you all soon 🙂

Announcement : Book Publication/Title Reveal

In the last post for the previous quarter, I wrote this:

I shall return here to make an announcement – a very big one, actually! – before the next quarter… let’s just hope everything goes to plan.

And so, with this post, this is me making good on my promise.

This blog, for the most part has been a medium to document the pursuit of the dreams I’ve had and still have. It is in essence, as the tagline for the blog suggests, a blog for dreamers who do. Before now, I’ve been the type of dreamer who just ‘dreams’ and sits, arms folded in wait for those dreams to somehow miraculously come true. My perspective has changed however.

Of the few dreams I have, a big dream of mine has been to have my name on the cover of a book. Of course, not just any book, but one that I absolutely can stand up for, to say yes I wrote that! I’ve heard you should write/publish a book many times than I can count, and it makes sense at this point to…after 12+ years. This definitely feels like the right time!

Hence, I’ll be releasing a collection of poems –  titled thread, this wordweaver must! – for publication and which will be available for purchase by September 5th. Below is an excerpt from the introduction section of the book which puts into perspective what I aim to accomplish with this collection.

I believe that our individual stories are threads which when interwoven produce a beautiful tapestry of what we call humanity. The relationship I have with words has always been glaring to other people and has earned me few titles, one of which quite recently is as a wordweaver. Living up to the expectation of that title, my end goal with the poems in this collection is to produce a tapestry where the visible and hidden threads tell the story of how interconnected our stories are, regardless of our individual differences. A blue thread adds to the beauty of this tapestry just as much as a green one does… 

I can’t keep count of  how many times I’ve said this, but I honestly cannot wait to get the book into your hands.

Till you hear from me again, keep dreaming! And more importantly, keep working to make sure your dreams don’t remain dreams.

My TEDx Journey…

This journey started a while back, a few years ago by accident. I can’t really remember what the first TED talk I saw was, and at the time, I was not even aware of what TED really was. And then after a long time, I saw another. And then, it progressed into me being obsessed about the Talks to the point where I saw at least one TEDTalk almost every morning. That fizzled out eventually, but later my love for what TED got rekindled. Of course, one of the ways it got rekindled was through LeaderShape (I’ve said earlier that everything I’ll be posting on here has something to do with my experience at this leadership retreat)

One talk we were shown was by Benjamin Zander, the author of The Art of Possibility. If you’ve been following the blog, the name looks familiar. And that’s because I’ve written posts about him on this blog on how much inspiration he’s been to the life I’m living as a dreamer. You would have to see for yourself why I consider his one of my favorite talks. Below:

Fast forward a few months after LeaderShape, hundreds of TEDtalks videos, TedxHouston 2012 came around and I decided I was going to go attend it. Unfortunately, tickets ran out before I could get myself a spot in the audience. I went for one of the simulcast events where they show the actual event as it happens live.

Still continuing to watch religiously, now following updates – more especially from TedxHouston, I learned about some events they had, and decided to show up for one of them in April. Below is a screenshot of the outcome of me going there:

TedxHoustonChange 2012
TEDxHoustonChange 2013

The poem in question is the poem I made to celebrate my 22nd birthday. There’s enough post already about why the poem is significant to me. Below:

The theme of the event was Positive Disruption, and I felt the poem and all it represents was tailored to that theme. I’m an introvert, and there are times I choose to keep quiet rather than share what I have to say because everything/one else is loud. The washing machine in my stomach is loud enough to drown the sound of my voice. I mounted up the courage to go before the audience and share the poem, and added that “being transparent and being vulnerable by sharing our own stories – fighting against our insecurities and perceived imperfections – is an act of positive disruption”

Fast forward to a few months after, I receive this in my email:

“…It’s my pleasure to invite you to perform at our TEDxGlobal simulcast on June 12th at START Houston!…”

TedxHoustonGlobal 2013

The theme for the TEDGlobal Conference, taking place in Scotland, which will be finishing today is #ThinkAgain. I was thinking of performing the poem Unmask again, and while I was trying to find sections of the poem I could tie to the theme, I realized that it wouldn’t be that fitting. And so, I had to… well, think again.

I decided to go with a poem I had written about 2 years ago (minus few months?) called STOP. I had performed it 2 times already so I was quite familiar and comfortable with it and decided it was a great choice for this event, especially since it lends itself beautifully well to the theme. And then with that settled, I had to fashion the content of my talk in a way that would make for a smooth transition to the poem.

Usually, it’s bound to happen: I start to question if it was in my place to talk about stopping especially since I have a hard time doing it – which in an ironic way is why I really really love the poem; it is a constant reminder for me that I just have to. I have the words memorized and I repeat the whole thing to myself whenever I feel the need to STOP. The response I got from people afterwards affirmed that it was indeed in my place to say what I had to say; that I was indeed supposed to be there! I’m super grateful! I love the fact that I was able to connect with the people in the room on a very personal level, the space that was created by their reception was warm, and felt really intimate. I loved every minute I spent there.

Of course, I should have made efforts to record or at least take pictures, but I did not 😦 I promise to find out if anybody recorded it (video or photo) and would like to share the files with me , so I can have it as some sort of souvenir for myself, and to share with others as well. If you’re reading this and you did (or know someone who possibly did), do get in touch. Thanks, I’ll love you forever if you do 🙂

Afterwards, Roxanne Paiva, the Founder of Our Global Village spoke about her organization and the amazing resources they provide to help with grassroots leadership across the world. In Houston, it’s through The Community Cloth, designed to help provide income for refugee women. She shared an interesting story about how she came about creating this organization following a trip to Thailand; and from having trouble finding a name for it – We are one? The one? before she settled for OGV – to struggling with the mission statement; to not having a team (except if you counted her mom, and friends who did not know what the heck they were doing. She admitted she still doesn’t know what she’s doing)

Eventually, we all settled down to watch the simulcast of the actual TEDGlobal Conference; videos from Session 6 (World on Its Head) and Session 7 (Regeneration) to be exact. All in all, it was quite a productive day! Certainly one to be remembered for the stories I hope to still tell. This IS something to me! It means quite a lot, but ironically, compared to what I still hope to do; it’s nothing!

*The next mission is joining TEDxHouston as speaker/performer for TedxHouston 2013, #TheOtherThings. A boy can dream, but one thing I do know: dreams do come true.

I hope I do get a copy of a recording of the event, but if I don’t, I have a transcript of the talk I gave (including the words to the poem) here, and you can download yourself a copy of it: Ayokunle Falomo: Think Again, TedxHoustonGlobal 2013

  __________________ . _________________ . ____________

UPDATE:

Yes! That dream of speaking at the TEDxHouston 2013 event did come true.

& two years later, for TEDxHouston 2015, I was again invited to be a part of the event, this time, to host one of the sessions. Considering it’s something I know how to do well, I started off with a poem.

AYOKUNLE FALOMO, TEDxHouston 2015 - Opening Poem
AYOKUNLE FALOMO, TEDxHouston – Opening Poem

You have to admit, it’s quite the journey!

#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