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 🙂

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!

2015 – A Dreamer’s Year In Review

2015 – A Dreamer’s Year In Review

Just as much as I did in 2014, I fought…to live. to live life to the fullest. Many things happened that attempted to stop me, that made me want to seek to embrace the hopelessness that often accompanies a dissatisfied life, rather than the hope I know that’s proven to be helpful in navigating my world as a dreamer. But, I fought.

I was dissatisfied, discouraged, disappointed…a lot in 2015.  I had to learn how to fight…for joy, in spite of…

It was not an easy year. It’s quite interesting though that as I looked through the pictures I took this year, though they were not in any way flashy, they tell a different story. They tell a story of someone doing a hell of a job achieving his dreams…

However, the moments I did not (or rather, could not dare) take pictures of tell a totally different story. They tell the story of a man who struggled, who failed, who fell…and who sometimes didn’t want to get up. They tell the story of a man who gave up…often a little too easily, and sometimes, not nearly enough. A huge portion of my 24th year – before my 25th birthday in September – was spent in 2015, and I wrote/said a few words about how tough it was in this post.

The last few months of 2015 compensated for how hard this year has been, but the “harvest” (so to speak) still wasn’t enough for me to understand why life had to forcibly teach me certain lessons.

To finish off the year on a good note, a friend of mine hosted a vision board party for the year 2016 a few days ago, and we each came up with a list of things we wanted to really accomplish in 2015 that we failed at. Mine below:

– get sponsorship deals
– get paid for speaking
– sell 1500 copies of my book: “thread, this wordweaver must!
– pay off school loans
– do a better job with posting on this blog. I failed to keep the promise I made at the beginning of the year.
– and, (I did not write this one down though) get a poem into a journal

Trust me, there were many more that I didn’t share. I just felt these were some of the most important personal failures.

After we finished, we decided to talk about why some of these goals were not accomplished, and see how we could, going forward into the new year, do a better job. Some words came to mind as we shared, and we put them on a board (below)

excuses for 2015

I have no promises to make for the upcoming year. We’ll just have to see how it goes.

And as is my tradition to choose a word for each year, the word that’ll be guiding me in 2016 is: trust. A lot of it! This trust, as I understand it, will be aided by courage and authenticity.

For 2015, it was two words: partnership + create. And I believe I succeeded in doing that.

If I can make one promise, you’ll hear from me soon.

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 🙂

Life is too deep for words… | Year In Review – 2nd Quarter

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…

Life is too deep for words, so don’t try to describe it, just live it. – C. S Lewis

…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.

These things happened:

Along with two other Nigerians, my TEDx Talk was featured on a blog curated by Tosinger.

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.

HAPPY NEW YEAR, 2013 GOALS, etc…

It’s not too late to say Happy New Year, I hope. It’s still a new year after all.

With that being said, I have mapped out some of the things I hope to accomplish this year, 2013. When I turned 22 last year, I decided to pen down some areas I’d like to see changes in my life. Sure, some of them are trivial, and some of them don’t even make any sense, but it’s all for the purpose of developing a holistic self. Since most of my 22nd year falls into this new year, I’m keeping these goals, with of course a few adjustments – additions, subtractions etc.

Here:

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.
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.

Goals, visions, and dreams are beautiful, however, it’s clear from the motto of this blog that:

“Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.”

So, surely deeds (actions) will have to accompany these dreams we all have for the new year 2013.

Just in case you’re interested, I decided to look back through the last year and did a year in review by documenting some of the highlights of the year. I’m halfway done, and you can click HERE to read the FIRST PART. Soon, I’ll be finishing up the 2012 year in review, and I’ll post it.

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you have a great year. I know I will!!!