Preparing meals is always fun for me. I consider it my me-time. Not because I’m a great chef, far from it. But that those few minutes spent in the kitchen turn to 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 audio book 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 8am till 4.30pm 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, every thing changed. Picture, my husband pacing around in 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’t see you’ and occasional intrusive visits to my corner by some members of the family demanding my attention have driven me up the wall!
Disclaimer: The only reason I’m able to type this article so fast and furious is because I’m hiding in the back room of my friend’s house 80km away from my own home. Somewhere in Kanamai, Kilifi County, I think.
My kitchen, my beloved fortress back in Mombasa couldn’t keep it’s side of the deal, to hide me whenever I needed my emotional food from my audio books.
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 refueling from the fridge and leaving me in peace decides to spill a bit of their worries. At this time, I’m expected to pause the audio book and give ear.
I kind of got used to the quick ins and outs that didn’t require me to pause the audio, but this?
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 color. 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 colorful 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.
And the kitchen, well, 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 endeavor, I decided to mind my pancake-y business.
You see I love making pancakes, not the drippy things lazy people call pancakes, but the almost translucent type that melts in your mouth upon indulging.
So I drove through the music folder in my Android phone and parked between the Inspirational and Romance audio books.
Trust me I have adequate real estate on both. And I love them. ♥ ♥ ♥
I had just completed a 3.5k words assignment from an online client who I’m truly grateful for. He has been pouring into my writing account when all else released jobs in drops.
You probably have been there and know the story. If you don’t, make sure you Google it, or go to 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 the batter into the pan, smoothing it out thin, flipping it this way and that way before tossing it into a waiting tray. All this time, the words of the narrator of ‘Who Moved My Cheese’ floated in the air, 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 because 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. Closure of learning institutions and the call to work from home disrupted everything.
My government was toppled!
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. It 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.
You see, their presence disrupted the flow of my creative juices. They literally choked the pipe and no matter how much I turned the tap on, nothing came out.
So I did the most selfish thing a mother can do according to the African rules of a woman’s life, 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.
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 new direction helps find new cheese”
I didn’t want to believe that my creativity had stalled and there was need for me to seek new 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-land.
You should have seen me vent about it to a friend as if they had the power to get my Cheese-land back.
It wasn’t until two weeks ago that in the vent-of-a-conversation, my friend violently grabbed my arm, shook me hard as if waking me up from a drunken stupor and warned.
“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 be sure I would pay the debt I owed.
And with this strict follow-up, I did. I contacted three friends 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, could. 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, joke 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 own issues. I knew they could, but the mere fact that I sat there listening, they knew I would intervene. Arbitrate even.
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 homework about this stalemate.” Pointing at the first character.
“And you, stop bugging other people and bring to the table a conclusive research. Then hold a meeting next Saturday at a time like this and reach an agreement. I don’t ever want to hear this argument again in this house!” I boomed at the other.
And just when they thought I would say I would mediate on the judgement day, I added a heap 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 and I definitely can’t in this atmosphere. Don’t you dare call me. May the best researcher win.”
And with that I rose and left 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 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.
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 crazy!
Though the pandemic may pass, but the state of the world has changed. You need to move from your Cheeseless Station C 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 learning institutions have gone dead to resurrect in January, maybe. Or were running a transport business between boarders 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 mourn about it.
Don’t even wait for it hoping some COVID funds will trickle your way. Just get up and develop for a new way of doing the business. Change the strategies. Talk to different people. Better still, change the business.
There’s is 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!
Now if you don’t mind, I need to eat the remaining of piece of pancake from yesterday before my coffee freezes. It’s Cheese time!