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 🙂

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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.

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!

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

…& the tears keep flowing

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.

This is a attitude to life that tends to lead spirally downward. And that’s exactly how most of this week has been. It’s left me empty, alone, and inadequate to a certain extent. Of course there were moments when I reminded myself (and was reminded by others) that this was no way to live, and got a taste of envisioning myself in a more bountiful state; but those moments were like a grain of sugar in a gallon of sea water. Sooner than later, those moments became overwhelmingly insignificant.

This week, I cried. Yesterday again, I did. Below is a page from what I wrote in my notepad/journal yesterday night.

the tears keep flowing
…the tears keep flowing

This is why I cry.

Sometimes, this dreamer gets lost in pursuing his dreams that he loses himself in the process. He forgets what drove him to chase after those dreams in the first place. He doesn’t remember why he dreamed, nor why he continues to dream.

I write this post to give you a glimpse into nights like yesterday when optimism (living in the realm of possibilities) is not easily accessible to this dreamer. Nights like these are as important as nights I’m inspired to accomplish the things I’ve set my mind to do for me; and ultimately, the world. However, the goal is still in sight. Nights like these, I get derailed and lose sight of my dreams. And so, I cry.

I cry to let my tears – like the rain – wash off the dirt on the windshield of possibility; the vehicle that will transport me to the land of my dreams.

You need not know about this part of my life, but it’s a promise I made in posts such as this one – I Wonder What My Bed Sheets Say – to tell our stories as they are, no edits. This is mine.

It would be a lie for me to only post here about days I am inspired to wake up to work towards achieving my goals when there are nights like yesterday. And nights like yesterday are very much part of the whole story.

And yes, there’ll be nights like these. And yes, it’s OK to feel like you want to give up on your dreams. As long as you don’t!

Addressed, To you:

When was the last time you cried? And what (or who) made you cry? This dreamer would love to hear your own story, do share 🙂

The writer of one of the Psalms rightly note, that “Weeping may last for the night, but there is a song of joy in the morning.

And below is one of the songs I started my morning with.

I Wonder What My Bed Sheets Say…

“…I know this sounds weird, but sometimes I wonder what my bed sheets say about me when I’m not around. I wonder what the curtains would do if they found out about all the things I’ve done behind their backs…”

This post is about integrity. Apart from the endless possibilities mind-frame we were taught to embrace at LeaderShape, we were also taught to lead with integrity. As leaders (anyone can be a leader, and we all are in one regards or the other. Leaders are not born after all, they’re made!) integrity is very essential. It’s what determines whether or not one deserve a following or not.

The dictionary defines integrity as:

soundness of moral character; honesty. the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished

And truth be told, I can’t say that I’ve fully lived (or am fully living) a life of integrity. But part of being a person of integrity is being at least honest about that.

Honesty.

Authenticity, to be specific, is one of the five core values I was able to identify as important to me at LeaderShape. The other four are Service, Creativity, Balance, and Growth. So far, I have written about Service and Growth on this blog. (Click on the links to read about them)

The quote above is from a poet by the name of Rudy Francisco whom I revere so much . His poem titled “My Honest Poem” is one of  the major influences for the poem UnMask which I did for my birthday. The other influences being Miles Hodges’ Maskless, and Benjamin Zander’s book, The Art of Possibility. (Again, click the links)

Honesty. Transparency. These are qualities I absolutely adore (as anyone close to me would tell you), and sure this comes with a willingness to be vulnerable – to be considered weak. However, to be vulnerable requires a lot of strength. Try it once, if only once in your entire life! No excuses, no explanations, no apologies, nothing! Just your story!

And that is where integrity comes in. See, it’s quite easy to lie about oneself in a poem – either to paint oneself worse than one actually is, or better than one actually is.

Integrity (or character) after all is this:

doing the right thing when we think nobody’s looking.

And the right thing here is telling our stories exactly as they are.

No edits!

And I can assure you, my closed curtains have been witnesses to some of the countless wrongs I have done. Now if only they could talk…

The Makings of Me: On My 22nd Birthday

For starters, I really don’t know where or how to start this (I love ’em, but pardon the pun!)

I am 22.

And for some reason, it’s very significant to me. One would think my 21st year should be…but I was not nearly as excited then as I am today!

I think I know why

Again, just to remind you what this blog is about, it is to document my journey towards the accomplishment of certain dreams I’ve had since I was born, and the deeds I’m doing to make them a reality. So far, so good.

And I’ve never quite been so close. In the last 22 years, I’ve never quite had that feeling of “I got it!”

…until now!

I am so assured, and am continually reassured that “the future [indeed does] belong to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams”, and trust me, I am dreaming, and dream…a lot! Lots of events (most significantly my experience at LeaderShape) have happened this past year leading to this one I’m about to start today, that have equipped me with what it takes to make that future I’ve dreamed about happen. Sure, like I said, it’s all ‘one step at a time’ and for this next year which I start today, I just want to keep the ball rolling. I’m not stopping…at least not any time soon.

I am grateful I have people (family, friends, and even strangers) to share all that I am with. I mentioned somewhere on this blog, that my deepest fear – what I fear the most – is that I am actually good at being everything I am.

I enjoy life, and I delight in learning from it, and siphoning from it everything it has to offer.

And 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’m very close. This Close!

With that as a form of preamble, I decided to sum up the whole of what I am (not quite lol) in a 4 minutes video  using the spoken word format of poetry. This is just something else I deeply love. Words….

…words are as living, breathing, able to shape, form…just as life itself is.

Of course, achieving certain dreams is about setting goals. I mentioned on this blog that creating this blog was actually one of my manageable/short term goals, and it definitely feeds into the stretch goals as it pertains to the BIG PICTURE!

And for this year that starts for me today, I decided to set some goals for myself. 22 to be exact!

Just know that if you’re reading this, I have enrolled you into my team (yes, without your consent. You’re welcome!) and you’re responsible as well as accountable to making sure I achieve these goals by this time next year. So check up on me to see how I am doing on them. Thanks.

And to wrap this post up, I thought this song is fitting, to describe my journey over these past years. I stole the title of this post from the song as well, so I might as well post it. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again just in case you’re wondering why I always end my posts with Music…

How could I not!?

Okay, maybe that’s not exactly what I said before, but oh well!