As 2013 ended and the new year year began, the singular goal I set out for myself was to “LIVE, by embracing ALL that life has to offer.”
Who knew life would hold me accountable to that goal!? Overwhelmed, in response to the amount of curve balls – which I stopped counting – that life has thrown my way in the past months, is an understatement.
Regardless, all those experiences which have for the most part left me with nothing but disappointments, discouragements, frustrations and even almost despair have made me more desirous of learning what it means to be alive. It, in more ways than I can ever describe in words, fuels the desire to LIVE even more.
Now, I get it…
…or at least I’m learning to.
Amidst the submersion though, there were few moments I was able to come up for air; moments accompanied by intense joy and relief, moments that provided me with clarity and a renewed determination more than ever before.
With one of my LeaderShape friends, Michelle Alvarez, along with other volunteers I helped to pass out roses to women in Houston to show them how appreciated they are – for her #GiveARose Campaign.
I reunited with my Mom who I hadn’t seen in almost 7 years. The most blissful of all things that’s happened this year!
Just a few days ago, I completed my first year of graduate school as a School Psychology major. #2moreyearstogo
And of course, poetry… (that still makes me really happy – be it writing, listening or reading it!)
Well, until when you hear from me again – which will be soon, I promise! – I’ll be somewhere learning to make sense of this thing called life, continuing to embrace all that it has to offer me; the joy as well as the not-so-joyful.
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.
I leave you with this from a commencement speech by Jim Carrey, below:
Life doesn’t happen to you, it happens for you… I [have] learned… that you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love…Your job is not to figure out how it’s going to happen for you, but to open the door… and… just walk through it.
And if you get the chance, do listen to the whole thing – it really spoke so much life (pun unintended, or maybe is) into me. It just might for you too.
Become a possibilitarian. No matter how dark things seem to be or actually are, raise your sights and see the possibilities – always see them, for they’re always there.
– Norman Vincent Peale
If I gained nothing else other than believing in the idea of endless possibilities from my LeaderShape experience, I’ll still be happy… except I gained much more. Each morning, the quotes I receive from LeaderShape in my inbox usher me to a new day where anything is possible. Today is no different, and I thought I’d share.
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:
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!…”
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.
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.
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!
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.
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”
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)
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 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. 😦
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”
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?
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:
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.
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.
“…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.
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.
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…
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!”
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!
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!