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

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…