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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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is this my life? | a 2016 first quarter recap

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grad Studies Spotlight of the Month

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

of Dreams And Deeds | Hi, 2015

How time flies! Can’t believe it’s already 14 days into the new year.

If you’re reading this, I wish you a very happy new year, and do hope that it’s off to a great start wherever you are.

Keeping up with the tradition of the previous years on this blog, I’d love to share with you readers my intentions for the blog this year 2015. As it was last year – where I only had a post for each quarter of 2014 – my posts on here will intentionally be limited. Unlike last year however, most of what I’ll be sharing will not be from me. To make sure that happens, I have sought out dreamers who do (dreamers-doers like myself) who’ll be contributing to this blog starting this month, and in the months to come.

The idea for this – which I wrote about in this post – started in 2012 but sadly, I never followed through with it. That, of course, is changing this year. As I shared in the post,

Life is too beautiful not to dream. This is the purpose of this blog, to document those dreams, and the deeds that are being done as I journey to achieve them. However, I am interested in not only documenting mine, but others’ as well

So, it is in light of this that I’ve decided to create a section on this blog called G.O.O.D which would document the dreams of others…since I’m not the only dreamer here. It would be a great delight to share the dreams of others, and the deeds they’ve done (or are doing) to achieve them…

So be on the lookout for amazing friends of mine who will come here to share with you the things they are passionate about.

In the words of John Lennon, “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope some day you’ll join us

Each contribution will be a kind of profile on what it means to be a dreamer-doer, hence the #DreamerDoerProfile tag that will precede the title of each of the posts. At the minimum, you should expect 12 contributions this year, which if that turns out to be the case will be posted on the 28th of each month as a way to commemorate the date I published the post that started this. The first contribution has already been drafted, so look forward to it 🙂

With that said, here’s to an amazing 2015!

N.B – If you’re a fan of social media, you can connect with the blog on there. Twitter: @ofDreamsnDeeds, and on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ofDreamsAndDeedsBlog.

Now, that’s new!

Year In Review: Fourth Quarter – I lived

 

I lived!

That was the one thing I had as a goal for this year and I accomplished it. I lived!

Consider this post my victory chant since I can’t necessarily do what I would have wanted to do – to get on every rooftop and scream it out as loud as I possibly can. I lived!…

in spite of the situations that threatened my will to; more so this year than ever in the history of my 24 years.

That to me – minus the few goals I accomplished and wrote about in the previous quarters – makes this year a success.

It’s true when I say that it’s been a very polarizing year in that there was too much to rejoice about yet at the same time too much that was painful. It left me confused as to how to navigate that “joy in the midst of pain”/”pain in the midst of joy” phenomenon. And for that reason, I didn’t celebrate as much as I needed to, and couldn’t grieve as much as I needed to. That’s the paradox of living.

Well, it’s almost over now. Here’s to many more years ahead and I’ll see you all next year.

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.

Year in Review – First Quarter

Since the last post of 2013 – my year in review, it’s been silent here at “of Dreams and Deeds”, and for good reason. It’s been a deliberate decision to deviate from just talking or in this case, writing about dreams, but rather to commit myself more to action (or deeds) as the name of the blog implies.

I liked the format the last post took, and decided to do something like it  for the year 2014; first to minimize the amount of posts on the blog and to be intentional about the few posts I do write.

And of course, there’s continued traffic on the posts I’ve written since the creation of the blog in 2012, and I still want attention on those – both from myself and those who visit the blog – as opposed to churning out new content for the sake of it.

Hence, upon dividing the year into quarters, there’ll be a post at the end of each quarter – a quarterly year in review of some sorts, if you may.

As far as the quarterly posts go, this means that you’ll be hearing from me (as you are now) in March, June, September and December. There will be the occasional one or two posts in between, before the quarterly posts arrive but other than those, that will be about it regarding posting on the blog for this year.

So with that said,

January started with making preparations for a poetry event centered on the soliloquies I’d written, in poetry format, on love which I intended to do in February – since it was Valentines season. I’d dreamed in times past about having such an event…except that I didn’t take a single step towards making sure it happened, but it had to be different this year – and it was!

And in February, it happened (not exactly what I dreamed) but it was exactly what I needed! And better yet, in line with what I hoped for this year to be, it was achieved through partnership; with help from the people around me.

As I wrote in the year in review post for 2013,

[The] word which I hope will drive all my action for the new year is PARTNERSHIP.

In the vlog I made when I turned 23, I mentioned a project I started working on then (which I called “23′)  that has now morphed into something that I originally did not intend or imagine it to be.

The 23 sections I discussed, which I hadn’t even finished at the time of my 23rd birthday last year, have now become the basis for 23 individual poetry events with the aim of prompting conversations about each section as it pertains to the journey we all are taking towards becoming the person we’d like to be for the rest of our lives. 2 events out of the 23 have already been completed, one last month along with the Valentines’ event and another just few days ago. More information about the project is here at www.23thejourney.com, and also you can follow (the journey) via Twitter.

The words below, from the music I’ll be posting for this quarter (Passenger’s “Life’s For The Living”), echoed in my head much more than I wanted it to – and served as a constant reminder of the singular goal I set out for myself this year; which is to “LIVE, by embracing ALL that life has to offer.”

Life’s for the living so live it
Or you’re better off dead…

Our lives are in seasons, and in this season, one thing I’m learning more than anything else is patience. To say the least, it’s sometimes frustrating! There are things I still want to accomplish, there are things I believe I *need to do/attain, but I am still subject to timing…which often brings about reasons for disappointment and discouragement.

This is, as I believe, due in part to the shift I’m making from merely dreaming my days away while hoping my dreams magically come to pass to getting off my butt to do what I can. Needless to say, there is still tension in balancing the dreamy self and the self that wants to see those dreams come to pass fast…by doing.

Of course, patience doesn’t mean just waiting idly…but there are times when you’ll have to do some waiting and that I’m still not good at. Over the past few months, there’s been a certain eagerness and anticipation for the next thing/things ahead, making it difficult to be present with what is, as of now – a component of patience. I hope I can take this into account as the new quarter starts tomorrow.

And since the win that gave birth to the words below happened in this quarter, I leave you with these words from Lupita Nyong’o:

your dreams are valid

With that as a conclusion, I hope to see you all in the next quarter 🙂