“Having the Life I want by Being Present to the Life I Have”
The book of Awakening … by Mark Nepo
God willing, in six months’ time, on the 19th of April 2021, I will be celebrating my 60th birthday!
I am excited about the sixties … “sizzling sixties” … it is sometimes called … and in preparation, I take a moment to reflect on the previous decades and be present to my current one.
Happy childhood memories are scarce in my archives of the first decade … apart from the fact that I had an amazing childhood friend who is still very much part and parcel of my life today.
My teenage years, were spent mainly in school and these probably were my best years! I was a good student … in many ways. I excelled academically, took many leadership positions in the various schools I attended and participated in athletics, drama, choir and debating events. I achieved quite a lot during my school years and had a good time doing it.
Recently, during my Brand Incubator workshop in Gold Coast Australia, I was asked to say something to my 19 year old self … and this is what I said:
“Angie, Congratulations! Well done! You have done well for yourself. Moving forward, things may not be so straightforward and your life’s experiences will not be entirely dependent on your ability to perform. However, always put your best foot forward and irrespective of the outcome, pause often to eke out the treasures from the various experiences.
… and …
whatever you do, don’t forget to enjoy yourself … laugh often, … for when all is said and done, life is indeed a gift … to be lived fully … and joyously so!”
For me, my twenties were the years of fulfilment.
… I graduated as a doctor … I got married … and I gave birth to my first-born child! …
Major milestones indeed!
As for my thirties …
…. mmm … This was a tumultuous decade. …
Getting used to being a doctor … getting used to being married … and yes, … getting used to being a mother! …
Major responsibilities these turned out to be!
My forties … well, it is said that “life begins at forty” … and yes, in a way, I began my life afresh at forty … actually several times. It was a decade of new beginnings.
I began to live as a single parent … having walked away from my 10-year-old marriage at the count down into the new millennium. I gave birth to my now last-born, live child … and called her Lina, the last four digits of my first name. Having been called “Angie” during my twenties and in my thirties, I felt the desire to remember the silent part of my name, Angelina, and this particular birth, gave me that opportunity. It was a complicated birth, in fact, it ended up being a caesarian section. I developed high blood pressure at around 38 weeks and my obstetrician, having seen me loose other babies at different stages of gestation, decided to perform a cesarean section as soon as she felt I may deteriorate into pre-eclampsia and maybe even eclampsia. The caesarian section was carried out on 17th of April, just two days before my own birthday. For her middle name, I gave this baby my middle name, Akinyi (a name that means born in the morning).
So, with the silent part of my first name and my middle and surnames embodied into a new baby, I ushered in my forties.
My career was also undergoing quite a number of changes. After finally completing my master’s in public health, (a two-year degree that took me seven years to finish), I was able to take on various jobs in the non-governmental sector. This was quite exciting and although not as stable as a clinical job in a permanent and pensionable position in the government, it paid the bills. I travelled quite a bit and acquired new skills (Gender Activism, Project Management and Institutional Strengthening amongst others).
As I approached my fifties, I felt the desire to stabilize my life. I had just finished paying off the mortgage of my house, my children were growing into young adults … and well, I was getting quite nostalgic about the fulfillment one gets as they directly interact with a patient. I got a glimpse of this desired stability and fulfillment through a project I was running at the last NGO I worked with … and was willing to settle … but it was not to be. At the age of 52, I was literally kicked out of the organization. … Mmm… interesting experience that was … and maybe later I will glean out the learning points and write something about them. Just now, it is sufficient to say that it was at this point that I decided to go back into clinical medicine.
So, in my fifties, I re-started clinical medicine from scratch.
I believe that “When the student is ready, the teacher appears” and I am very grateful to Dr. Ntalo Were, a seasoned private practitioner, who took me in and re-taught me the clinical skills. I also went back to school and did a Master’s degree in Family Medicine with the University of Edingburgh.
Sooner than later, I experienced the realization of yet another saying: “When one desires something enough, the universe connives to give it to them”. I got an opportunity to work in our National and Referral hospital where I now run a “Healing the Healers: Caring for the Carerers” Program, based at the staff clinic and under the auspices of the Prime Care Unit of the hospital. Mmmm … I do feel settled, stable and fulfilled!
In preparation for my retirement, I have started an online business, which, although still in it’s infant stage, has the potential to have a financial trajectory that transcends any other that I may have had in the past … and … I get to enjoy this while giving back to humanity in a way that I enjoy, during my own time, and from whatever geographical location I choose to be in.
It is in this state, that I begin the count down into my sixties.
What a blessing!
I am grateful!