Tag Archives: . Inspirational

You Are Competent/You Have All the Know-How

Often, when we are faced with a new project or idea, one of our first concerns is whether or not we are competent, or have the skills necessary to accomplish the task.

DSC03709I use my own life as an example.  I never say no, which is how I got my first teaching job, designing a course I had never taught before, about people, many of whom I had not heard about before, and on a topic/subject about which I was only cursory familiar.

I was always just one step ahead of the students. It was the hardest I ever worked, researching and learning what I did not in a short period of time. But at the end of the semester, I had one of the highest evaluations for the semester.  Saying yes secured me a full time contract the following semester. And just this week, a former student of that class 30 years ago, told me it was one of the best in her college career.  Having said yes, I was not about to fail.

Since then I have said yes to  things that have come  my way and learned as I went along,  happy for the opportunity and knowledge I gleaned along the way.  I wrote about things that were not on my mind, but honored the request and in the process was rewarded.

This is how I raised my children to say yes to whatever opportunities that come their way and learn as they go along.

The truth is, everything that comes our way is an opportunity for growth and expansion so why turn away out of fear.  You don’t have to know until you need to know, and as long as you are willing to try and learn there will be a teacher and/or guide present to help you along the way. And if there isn’t anyone, it is because you are capable of figuring it out on your own.

Remember, You are Competent and Have all that you need to do whatever comes your way, so before you say No or make excuses why not, just step into the Possibility and expand your horizon.

Thank You LaRhonda.

Sharing Your Gift

Although it is a cliche, it is also a fundamental true:

We all have a talent to share.DSC03730

What do you enjoy?

What makes your heart soar?

What puts a smile on your face?
When do you feel your best, your strongest, most at ease.

For me that remains the classroom — it has always been my stage — and sharing my work with others.

Yesterday one of my students gave me the greatest gift: She said I was such an inspiration and that I should go around and motivate young people, college students, about life and the world.

I love my life.  Each day gets better and better.

While there are many things that I still want to accomplish and seek the resources that would support this, I continue optimistically, daily.

Each day, I love the life I live.

I love where ever I am.

I love the people I encounter.

I am thankful that I am in such a great place in life.

I love the trees and flowers and birds and the natural environment that surrounds me.

I see all the minute beauty.

Yes, I am a motivator and I will continue to inspire!

Another Big Win For Jamaica: Marlon James Wins the Man Booker Prize

DSC03193Tuesday night, at London’s Guildhall, Marlon James became the first Jamaican to win the £50,000 Man Booker Prize for his novel, The Brief History of Seven Killings, inspired by the attempted assassination of Bob Marley in the 1970s.

This semester in my seminar, The Scent of Memory, that is examining texts about slavery, I am teaching James’  The Books of Night Women (2009), that is set on a Jamaican plantation at the turn of the 19th century.

Three weeks ago, when James was a visiting writer at California College of the Arts where I teach, we spoke about the Man Booker Nomination and how awesome it would be if he won.  And he has.

What an accomplishment.  Nuff Respect to my fellow Jamaican, and may this island that has produced so many greats find its way to peace, and as the late Bob Marley, who inspired James’ books sang, “One Love, One, heart, One Destiny.”

searchBig Up Marlon James

and Big Up Jamaica

that produced him.

Soil for Your Roots

DSC02587We are the very essence of nature

and just like a tree we have roots

that allow us to grow and flourish

in those things we select to pursue.

If, however, you are feeling stagnant — as if things are just

not working out for you, then it’s time to stop and check the soil

–your thoughts;

the people you surround yourself with.

your daily habits…

How healthy is that soil?

Certain trees, like mango for instance, need acidic soil with good drainage or it will rot.

What type of soil do you need to flourish and ripen as sweetly and abundantly as a good mango tree?

Chance are, if you are not blooming prolifically, yearly, you are in the wrong soil.

Now you know so don’t bemoan the fact.

You need to change your soil.  Make sure you have proper drainage and adequate sun — if you are a mango tree.

First, find out what kind of tree you are, and the soil and condition that are best suited for your growth.

It all begins with self-knowledge and awareness, then willingness to do what is necessary to optimize the conditions for your maturation.

For more helpful tips check out our book:

Fame, Money, Power Not Required! Kindle Edition

The Creator of Kistrech Poetry Festival: Christopher Okemwa

Soft, spoken and very caring, Christopher Okemwa began writing poetry when he entered high school. He is a husband, father, teacher and working on his doctorate dissertation. He is very giving, has big dreams, and is willing to make the necessary sacrifices to transform dream into reality, hence the realization of the Kistrech Poetry Festival in Kisii, a remote city, in Kenya.

Christopher Okemwa (Kenya)

Okemwa says, ‘I conceived the poetry festival in 2005, but didn’t know how to start it; I didn’t have the funding, and I had not attained a degree in Literature yet. After I participated in the Medellin Poetry Festival in Colombia, in 2010, and in a Biennial poetry event in Belgium in 2012, I told myself thus: “I should start it now, I shouldn’t wait any longer, it doesn’t matter whether I have the funds or not.” I wrote to my friend, Niyi Osundaye (Nigeria), about the idea. He wrote to me, thus: “How dare you want to hold a poetry festival without funding? How can you bring poets to Africa without funding?” With these questions, I almost got discouraged. But I was determined, no matter the outcome. I went ahead and wrote to friend-poets I had met in 2010 in Medellin and 2012 in Belgium, asking them to participate in a festival in the remote area of Kenya. Most were excited about the idea. I set up a website. I posted the photos of those who applied on the site, and indeed they came. These included Prof. Sukrita Paul Kumar (India), Prof. Malashri Lal (India), Prof. Arif Khudairi (Egypt) Prof. Pornpen Hantrakool (Thailand), Vytautas Suslavicious (Lithuania) Sarah Poisson (Lithuania), Jasonas Stavrakis (Cypress), Onarinde Fiyinfoluwa (Nigeria), Asanda Vokwana (South Africa), Indra Wussow (South Africa), Lauri Garcia (Mexico).

“When they came to participate in the 2013 inaugural festivals, I had no funds. Some poets decided to pay for their own accommodation and buy their own foods. It was very expensive for me, being an assistant lecturer who earns little. I made banners and posters using my own funds. I paid for food and accommodation for some of the poets, paid for transportation, as well as for the hall for four days during the entire festival, using my own funds. I paid for everything, used up all my savings. It was extremely expensive and I almost gave up this idea of a poetry festival.”

But Christopher Okemwa did not give up, and based on the enthusiasm of the first festival, he forged ahead and planned for the second in 2014. It would seem his efforts were paying off as he got some support. Kisii University sponsored transportation, Goethe Institute made banners for the festival, Nsemia Inc. Publishers gave Ksh. 5, 000 ($50.00 US), Upfront booksellers gave Ksh. 1, 500($15.00 Us), and Mozamad gave us Ksh. 5,000 (Us dollar 50). The County government also promised to sponsor the festival, but could not be reached nor did they responds or help in anyway with the festival despite their pledge. Again, Okemwa had to dig into his own pocket to pay accommodation and food for two poets, as well as pay for the festival magazine, which cost Ksh. 180, 000 ($1, 800 US). He thought about abandoning his dream of the festival due to the expense, but decided to give it one more go.

Kistrech Poetry Festival, 2015 received some support from Kisii University in the form of transportation and lunch for poets, space for the festival and also the university funded the festival’s magazine and stationery. However, the university did not provide accommodation for two poets as promised, but in all their support made a big difference, and Okemwa financial output was as he says, “almost nothing compared to the previous two years.”

But for a variety of reasons, the festival did not garner the same participation, and many of the expected poets, receiving no financial support from their home institutions, were unable to attend. Coupled with other logistics, including attendance, Okemwa is not sure where to go from here.

I asked Okemwa: What help and support do you need?

Reflecting and weighing all the pros and cons, Christopher states: “Having done 3 festivals, with no consistent, adequate support, especially for accommodation and food, I would like to stop here and take a rest. I have done my best. I have spent money meant for my family, and without funding, I don’t see myself improving the festival and bringing it to the standard and level of other international poetry events. However, my effort in organizing this event has left many poets, local people, students and writers very happy. I ask myself why should I strive to bring art to the people, create a platform for poets to meet and interact, but I end up not being happy? These and many other questions have made me stop and think. If I get adequate funding, I can carry on with this noble dream that I began in 2013.

“I feel terribly sad and it pains me, and defeats the objective of holding such an event when I, as the organizer, cannot provide for my guests. My inadequacy to provide adequately for the poets and running a penniless festival leaves me with a low self-esteem.”
Yet the benefits of bringing international poets to Kisii seem so obvious that the local government and other international organizations should jump to underwrite this festival.

Okemwa agrees, and elaborates, “The social and cultural interaction and exchange is a great benefit. Our students and emerging poets learn a lot by interacting and networking with the international poets. The festival creates platform for African poets to have their works published. The event enables village people, staff in our University and local people to learn new cultures and opens up opportunities abroad for their children’s education. The festival creates numerous opportunities for educational and cultural exchanges among lecturers and students of Kisii University. The Community has responded positively and has always looked forward to participating in the event every year. Most are thirsty for information and knowledge these visiting poets have and share.”

I want to encourage Christopher Okemwa not to throw in the towel yet, but to keep forging ahead by building a team to help plan and implement the festival. I am sure Kisii University will continue to lend greater support to the festival in the future. The management is aware of the immense value and benefits this kind of event brings to the institution, in terms of exchange programs, as well as more opportunities to staff and students for various academic, cultural and literary exchanges.



But there are also personals benefits for Christopher Okemwa, himself a poet. “I learn a lot from other poets in the world. The festival helps me to discover new poets and share them with my MA and undergraduate students. Through such visits, students of Literature discover new works and new materials for research. For instance, after this year’s festival, I gave Patricia Jabbeh Wesley and Opal Palmer Adisa’s poetry books to MA students. Some are considering studying these poets for their MA thesis. Also, we shall consider including these two poets in the reading list of the courses, “Literature from the Rest of the World” and “Caribbean Literature.”

Let Me Know

By Christopher Okemwa

(From The Gong)


If I ever offended you

Discuss it with me, dear love

Don’t keep it in the heart for too long

Let me know of the mistake

I have made, dear love

That makes you pale, mute

If I once shouted at you

And you were flustered, dear love

It is because I cared, or so I thought

Let us talk with open minds

Of the flaws, the pitfalls

And mend the broken fences

Bring to an end this silence

And hear your voice again, dear love

As it always came to me.

I hope you will be interested in helping to continue this important and worthy festival. Do contact: kistrechpoetryfestival2015@gmail.com to lend your support. The Kisii community of Kenya needs and deserves to have Kistrech Poetry Festival an annual, well-funded event. Support Now!!!patrica,opal.


When you are in alignment

you look in the mirror

and see the face of

the divine looking back at you


and everyone your encounter

–regardless of their actions–

you are able to see beyond

the obvious

and recognize

the divine in them

We tend to get

what we expect

so if you’re

unhappy with what’s

showing up in your life

then re-examine and change

your thought about what

you expect

If you focus on abundance

even in the midst of seemingly

scarcity more than likely

you will have all your needs met

IMG_3743it begins with right alignment

with the universe

with yourself

with your expectations

and who you invite

in your inner circle

Now is the time

to align yourself

with the all good

in the universe


so that even when

the hurricane comes

you’re ride the wind

with ease…