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.

Oh, The Maze!

This post (now edited) was originally posted here —-> It was meant to highlight how I employed this principle below:

In his book, “Weird Ideas That Work” (which I just got in the mail a few days ago, *but only skimmed through) Robert Sutton says that we should reward our failures and successes but punish inaction.

June 25th, 5:07 PM

Today was very interesting. I don’t want to ramble as much as I would love to, partly because I don’t really have much time to post this…and I really want to post it now, it’s been sitting in the draft folder few days now.

Maybe these tweets will give an idea what it’s basically about!

Can’t find the location I’m supposed to go but still 2nd guessing asking for help smh

— Ayo Falomo (@aeWHYoh) June 25, 2012

Okay that wasn’t so bad…I asked, but if I don’t get it this time…I think it’s homebound — Ayo Falomo (@aeWHYoh) June 25, 2012

Whoo…and I hate directions. But I asked and I might just get where I’m going…hopefully. — Ayo Falomo (@aeWHYoh) June 25, 2012

Ahaha, this is not funny yo. Now battery’s low…

— Ayo Falomo (@aeWHYoh) June 25, 2012

#EpicFail I didn’t get to where I’m going. Gonna go get me some ice cream & head home. -> Reward your successes & failures, punish inaction.

— Ayo Falomo (@aeWHYoh) June 25, 2012

Well, because my failure today, I at least got a pint of ice-cream out of it, which might not have happened otherwise… #worthit — Ayo Falomo (@aeWHYoh) June 25, 2012

If it still doesn’t make sense, maybe these will?

@aeWHYoh the maze… — Michelle A. (@MiiChiLe) June 25, 2012

@aeWHYoh how fascinating!

— Michelle A. (@MiiChiLe) June 25, 2012

What exactly happened today, and what is the maze? How fascinating? What does these all mean?

July 12th, around 6 PM

I was at the Menil Collection, a very nice museum here in Houston where I live. In the midst of all the awesome artworks, paintings, drawings, and all the other incomprehensible art forms in there which I found, one stood out. It was Frank Stella’s “Avicenna”, which I sadly now can’t find a very good picture of online. This one below is pretty much close to what it was. It’s a work by him as well. It reminds me of a maze…and or like Michelle tweeted, “the maze”

I’m sure you’re still wondering what in the world “the maze” is! Patience dear, patience!

Well, long story short:

June 25th, …AM till something PM.

Today, I tried to get somewhere that I really wanted to go (I almost changed my mind about going) but couldn’t get there! I tried and tried to find the location AND couldn’t. I was on the phone with the person I was to meet, and he kept directing me, over and over again…AND still I didn’t get it. I actually never do! I was circling the whole neighborhood…on my feet, which are pretty much sore at this moment. Picturing me with a sad face wouldn’t be questioned, but rather it’s inverted, i.e I have something like this –> 🙂 on my face …

I applied Robert Sutton’s rule and got myself a pint of ice cream. So, not a bad day altogether.

Now for the maze, its history can be traced back to my experience at LeaderShape (remember how I said every post on here is going to refer to my experience there? Read the ABOUT section if you don’t know what I’m talking about). During one of the challenge courses, we were blindfolded, and told to find our ways out of a maze made of  ropes that kind of interlocked at some points. We were told that if we needed help, we should just call for it anytime. I was thinking to myself what do I need help for? All I need to do is find my way out of the maze, simple enough! The trick though was that there was really no way out…the only way out being for one to ask for help.

I was one of the two last persons to get out in the group of about 12 or so people that walked the maze!

All I said was (frustrated at this point) “Okay, Jeff can you help me?”, and he removed my blindfold…only to see everyone else standing outside!

As you would have guessed, I was furious!

To get out, all I had to do was ask for help! But…

Ask for help? Like, really?” That’s what you have to do in order to get out?

And the “how fascinating” part? It’s what we learned (at LeaderShape) to say whenever we made any mistake!

So, you can join us too, and stop taking yourself too seriously…Failure is part of life. Learn from em, and move on. Quit sulking!