Preparing meals is always fun for me. I consider it my me-time. Not because I’m a great chef, far from it. But those few minutes spent in the kitchen turn into a coaching session with some of the smartest people on earth. The Cheese hunters I would love to meet.
So I either turn to my music folder and splash the kitchen with the inspiration from an audiobook or head to YouTube and grab a new one from there.
Before COVID-19, I operated in the all-bliss version of my kitchen.
You see, I work from home. So every morning I turned my apartment from the usual home to a magnificent office overlooking the tops of palm trees seemingly spread across the blue sky. This ran from 8 am till 4.30 pm when the first member of the family returned and deleted my dream. Then the following morning I would recreate it all over again.
It was fun!
Well, with everyone working from home, everything changed. Picture, my husband pacing around with huge headphones and phone in hand while attending a Zoom meeting. My daughters actively participating in their online classes. And yours truly pushed to a naughty corner in my bedroom, pinned to my computer desk with limited permissions to exercise my powers in my once beautiful office.
I must say, sharing ‘my space‘ with them has been a mixture of pain and pleasure in equal proportions.
But of late, the constant, ‘can you hear me‘, ‘I can see you’ and occasional intrusive visits to my corner by some members of the family demanding my attention has driven me up the wall!
My kitchen, my beloved fortress back in Mombasa couldn’t keep its side of the deal, to hide me whenever I needed my emotional food from my audiobooks.
I mean, halfway through say, ‘The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar‘ by Roald Dalh, a member of the family walks in and instead of just refuelling from the fridge and leaving me in peace decides to spill a few of their worries. At this time, I’m expected to pause the audiobook and give an ear.
I kind of got used to the quick ins and outs that didn’t require me to pause the audio, but this?
Abso-freaking-lutely Never! 🙀
Ok, calm down buttercup. But this became an insult to my me-time as the intruder didn’t just pause the audio but actually turned it off in the name of, ‘It’s gonna be a long talk‘
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a quiet person looking for a quiet spot. Far from it.
I’m super talkative with plenty of colour. As parrot-y as they come. And when I can’t talk to someone, I write. One of my recent writes, a memoir hangs somewhere on Smashwords as I edit it for the umpteenth time, “I Hate Me‘. That colourful Fedora on the cover signifies the real me.
Going back to the intrusion story, yes I’m still hiding in Kanamai. Here, my host has no problem with me waking up in the forbidden hours of the night to enjoy my me-time. I have a thermos flask to hold enough water to brew my coffee and keep me fully fueled as I write and listen to my fellow writers whenever I please.
Kitchen visits reduced?
Ah, about the kitchen, yesterday I decided to exercise one of the permissions granted by the host to cook anything I needed. Everyone in the compound was minding their business and in the same endeavour, I decided to mind my pancake-y business.
You see, I love making pancakes. Not those drippy things lazy people call pancakes, but the most translucent type that melts in your mouth upon indulging.
So I drove through the music folder on my Android phone and parked between the Inspirational and Romance audiobooks. Trust me I have adequate real estate on both. And boy don’t I treasure every drop of juice in them. ♥ ♥ ♥
I had just completed a 3.5k words assignment from an online client who I’m truly grateful for. He has been gushing jobs into my writing account while everyone else drips them.
I decided to take the Inspirational Street and landed outside a gate labelled, ‘Who Moved My Cheese‘ owned by Spencer Johnson.
You probably have been there and know the story.
But if you don’t, Google it. Better still, visit YouTube after this and listen to the story. Don’t you dare walk out on me now.
OK, where were we?
Oh, we were hunting for the fellow who moved our cheese as we made the slim kind of pancakes, weren’t we?
So I spent the next 45 minutes pouring bits of batter into the pan, smoothing each out thin, flipping them this way and that way before tossing them into a waiting tray one after the other. All this time soaking in the words of the narrator of ‘Who Moved My Cheese’ and drifting my soul across the maze.
Then it dawned on me, – and this is why I’m writing to you – the reason I left home is that someone moved my cheese!
Yes Seriously, Somebody Just Moved My Cheese!
Think about it, when my once convertible office became congested, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, I could no longer use the space as I did before. The closure of learning institutions and the call to work from home disrupted everything.
My government was overturned!
And so the longer I sat in my corner trying to write my new book in and out of my routine, the harder it became. The presence of my family undid my creativity. And that was infuriating!
Don’t get me wrong, I love them. Yes. But my cheese was in their departure every morning so I could create my office and pour out delicious content for my online fans.
You see, their presence disrupted, no scratch that, literally choked my creative juices pipes and no matter how much I turned the tap on, nothing came out.
So I did the most inconsiderate and appalling thing a mother can do according to the ‘The Unwritten Rules of the African Wife‘. I left!
Yes! You read that right. I freaking left! 🤷🏾♀️
A girl gotta do what a girl gotta do!
So, there you have it.
And now I’m out here chewing my cheese night and day as I look for more.
But listen up cupcake before you run off like me. This has been in my mind for ages. Like premeditated murder.
I have dreamed of taking my sandals, staff and cloak and venturing wherever the new road may lead. Then I woke up from the dream and finally did it.
And if you think that was easy, listen to ‘Who Moved My Cheese’ and see me in the form of the two little men.
“Movement in a new direction helps find new cheese”
I didn’t want to believe that my creativity had stalled and there was a need for me to seek some untamed environment. So I sat there, pinned in my naughty corner and grieved. I became bitter towards my family and then hated them all for invading my Creative Cheese Station.
You should have seen me vent about it to a friend as if they had the power to get my Cheese Station back.
It wasn’t until two weeks ago that in a vent-of-a-conversation, my friend violently grabbed my arm, shook me hard as if waking me up from a drunken stupor and warned me.
“My_darling, you have been ranting about your wish to leave home and take a writing holiday for so long but have done nothing about it. Do it now!”
That wasn’t a request. It was a command.
This friend made me promise to give a full report on places I could move to before the following morning so as to make sure I paid the debt.
And with this strict follow-up, I did. I contacted three buddies that evening and called the fourth the following morning. All three couldn’t host me. But the fourth, whom I had visited the weekend before and fallen in love with her farm-ly home, consented. So I called my friend and reported my findings.
The next step was to choose the date. You would think I did so immediately. Huh, the joke is on you!
I took another 5 days to do just that. All this while my friend kept pushing and pleading so I could dare the scary step.
Then it happened.
It was on a Saturday morning when some members of my family, titles withheld for obvious reasons, could not sort out their issues. I knew they could, but the mere fact that I sat there listening, they knew I would intervene. Arbitrate actually.
Well, I did. But not the way they had anticipated.
I put my foot down, dug my elbows into the dining table and passed the judgement.
“You, do your bit of homework about this stalemate.” I pressed, pointing at the first character.
The room temperatures rose a dozen degrees. Yet, total silence took over.
“And you,” Booming at the other. “Stop bugging other people and bring to the table conclusive research. Then hold a meeting next Saturday at a time like this and reach a consensus. I don’t ever want to hear this argument again in this house.”
And just when they thought I would say I would mediate on the judgement day, I added a mound of pepper to the injury.
“And with that, I will be leaving for Kanamai on Monday afternoon to give you time to sort out your issues. I need to write but I definitely can’t in this atmosphere. Don’t you dare call me. May the best researcher win.”
And with that, I rose and exited the meeting.
When Monday came and everyone realized that I was serious about leaving, I got all sorts of pleas to stay. A date even.
Has Your Cheese Been Moved? Don’t Resist Change, Move
Look, I don’t hate my family. But when I can’t complete writing a client’s book because my peace, read peace, has been moved, I see no other way than to go hunting for it wherever it may be found. And this is the first of many writing trips.
So hate me if you must, but fetching my cheese is more important than you can fathom.
Back to my pancakes. I ate them as I listened to the cheese story again. Now the thoughts filling my heart right now come in question format.
Has your cheese been moved and you, like the little men, are still sitting where you last found it and waiting for it to return?
Think about it. Your business may have been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and now you are low. But you insist on waiting for the pandemic to pass so you can restart. With all due respect, that’s sick-crazy!
Though the pandemic may pass, but the state of the world has changed. You need to move from your Cheeseless Station C – or is it See – and venture into the maze, wherever new cheese may be found. Otherwise you stand a chance to starve.
Whether you were running a school deep in the roots of Africa and the learning institutions have gone dead to resurrect in January, maybe. Or were running a transport business between borders and the process has slowed ten times due to the testing.
Or maybe you sold high-end clothes, held inspirational seminars at a fee, ran a clearing and forwarding shop.
No matter the kind of business, if COVID-19 has disrupted your cash flow for the worst, don’t just sit there and whine about it.
Don’t even wait for it hoping COVID relief will trickle your way. Just get up and develop a new way of doing business. Change your strategies. Talk to different people. Better still, let certain people go and change your business.
There’s no law in any country I know that stops citizens from starting different businesses from their initial. So don’t limit yourself, go chase your cheese baby!
Now if you don’t mind, I need to eat the remaining piece of pancake from yesterday before my coffee freezes. It’s Cheese time!