CANDID TALK

what we don't say out loud.

August 28, 2016
by Kate Mwamba
0 comments

Tanzania Oust Kenya in Mega East Africa Projects

By Kevin Gikonyo,

Former Banker,financial market consultant and a contributor to Nairobi business Monthly.

www.huffingtonpost.com

www.huffingtonpost.com

Dr John Pombe Magufuli popularly known as “The Bulldozer” in his country, is living up to his nickname barely a year into his presidency. He was sworn on 5th of November 2015 after a hotly contested election since its independence, 54 years ago, by close to 9 million voters, of its 49.1 million citizens.

The 57 year old, doctorate of chemistry scholar from the University of Dare salaam, was elected on a platform to transform the economy by increasing youth employment, reducing corruption, provision of free secondary and primary education, amongst other CCM(Chama Cha Mapinduzi) country reforms agenda.

Magufuli’s  7th month “leadership chemistry” has managed to lock in major East African projects and unsettled Kenya as the main economic reference, in regards to infrastructural deals. Kenya has held the mantle of being the biggest East African economy since independence, but according to the recent signings and their magnitude, the button is about to shift to Tanzania, if it continuously replicates this growing impetus.

The southern neighbours have often been considered as the “unwilling partners” in the East Africa coalition for the longest time, since the formation of EAC post-independence in 1966. Many recall an emotional parliamentary speech by the former president Mr Jakaya Kikwete, who vehemently denied being uncooperative and rhetorically referred to other member states, as “coalition of the willing”.

There are many instances that asserts these negative noun, due to the red tapes against EAC business owners-primarily Kenya, the ban on Kenyan tour operators free movement to parks, implementation of free movement of goods and services under the EAC agreement, up to the recent pull-out from the EPA (Economic Partnership Agreement) pact, that sought to benefit EA trade with the EU countries and the list is endless. The later was a 14 year negotiated trade deal, whose disarray will hurt Kenyan exports to EU the most, since it is classified as a middle-income economy. A highly ranked economic stratus country enjoys little tariff concessions, unlike that which is least developed like Tanzania. “We have not pulled out of EPA as a result of Brexit, but for reasons of National interest to protect our nascent industries “said the foreign affairs PS Mr Aziz Mlima.

Historically the EAC cooperation existed before independence of the three nations of Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya and was declared untenable shortly after. Tanzania drew the first salvo by recanting the East African common currency among other agreements and fostered its own communistic path. An attempt to re-join the EAC in 1966 was shortly lived when in 1977 the rosy affair came to a dramatic halt, with Tanzania closing its borders with Kenya and ended up confiscating Kenyan owned vehicles, aircrafts and even detained some of its citizens amidst suspicion from Tanzania’s political class. Tanzania’s government controlled media denounced Kenyans as “business big shots “while the Kenyan government radio in turn claimed that Tanzanians “ talk all day and sleep all night expecting to be fed from the sweat of their neighbours”-Source 6th Feb 1977 Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

 

Twenty Four years on, the EAC union was rebirthed in a colourful launch in Arusha, Tanzania and its vice president then; Dr Omar Ali Juma stated that the cooperation should not be allowed to fail again. Tanzania’s recent political leaders have been quoted on paper as being pro-EAC, but they have always elicited pain to past wounds by their actions or inactions that have sought to sabotage the basic cohesion and mere renaissance of the 145.5 million community bloc.

As much as one may be desirous to fault Tanzania, they must be doing some things right for the past 5 years, which Kenya needs to learn. Their high GDP growth rate and ranking among the 6th fastest growing economies of the world are positions that affirm the leadership of the second biggest economy in East Africa.

EAC commands a combined GDP of close to 150billion dollars and has an average per capita income of nearly 850 USD according to EAC facts and figures report -2015.Kenya and Tanzania contribute close to two thirds of the total GDP of East Africa and the five year, 7point plus economic growth on the country once known as Tanganyika, is breeding a shadow contest with Kenya which has registered a dismal 5point growth since 2013.

 

IMG

Fig 2

 

 

Tanzania boasts of natural gas off its coast and minerals such as gold, iron, copper, silver, platinum, nickel and tin; gemstones such as diamonds, tanzanite, ruby, garnet, emerald, alexandrite and sapphire among other stone aggregates. Kenya prides in fluorspar, rare earth, gold, gemstones, titanium soda ash and niobium deposits.

In 2013 Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda had agreed to link up their boarders with a modern Standard Gauge Railway line commonly referred to as SGR. The mega project was estimated to cost 13Billion dollars. Uganda first signed an MOU with Kenya in 2009 and later became a tripartite agreement that saw Rwanda sign In August 2013, committing to conduct a common joint study in order to realise this common goal. Kenya was to become the oceanic link to these landlocked countries that sought to shorten the movement of goods and people. This was never to be, at least for the part of Rwanda that has recently declared through its minister for finance and economic planning, Hon Claver Gatete that its SGR project will run through Tanzania.

Rwanda’s research showed that through the port of Tanga, the SGR would be much cheaper by USD 200Million compared to the Mombasa route that would cost USD 1Billion thus sighting this as the major reason to derailed talks with Kenya. Consequently, this meant that Burundi will be looped into the newly agreed Dare salaam-Isaka-Kigali/Keza-Musongati (DIKKM) route expected to be completed in March 2018.Mombasa to Kigali was expected to be complete by 2018, meaning Rwandese and Burundians would have had to wait longer to enjoy the benefits of SGR.

Another huge deal that slipped from Kenya’s hands is the pipeline project from Lamu to Kampala and consequently Rwanda, Burundi and DR Congo. In one blow Uganda bungled out and shattered Kenya’s dreams of becoming a key connection to this multi-billion dollar business. Uganda sighted the project would be close to 4Billion cheaper and faster through Tanga port that is already operational unlike Lamu port that is deemed to be completed in 2021,if they are lucky to get any infrastructural funding. Uganda’s production meant to start in 2018 ,has already secured French’s Total Company funding for its Tanga route with deposits valued at over 1 billion barrels of “black gold”, the biggest find in the region and equally huge gas reserves.

This new connection would be completed in 2020 from Kabale, Hoima to Tanga which is 1,400 km apart and the plateau much clearer than the ragged terrain in Kenya. Tanzania’s government owns these vast lands, unlike Kenya that has to deal with protracted land compensation battles and otherwise inflated land valuation claims that often benefit the Land registry and ministry officials. The security of the pipeline was also a main decider to dropping the Lamu-northern Kenya route, where there is almost no infrastructure and a lot of tension among communities in sharing existing resources and the pipeline revenues would only seek to complicate matters further. Kenya proposed to charge a pipeline fee of USD17 per barrel compared to Tanzania’s quote of USD12 per barrel, which also offered other incentives like waiving land fees, transit charges and taxes associated with pipeline transmission, a move that caught Kenyan’s project managers flat footed.

In the red is also the LAPSET (Lamu Port, South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport) project, where Ethiopia is in a “near shift” even after their PM’s visit to Kenya. Its minister of mines and petroleum Hon Tolossa issued a statement from Addis Ababa, negating Kenya’s position that they ever inked to a formal agreement and that it was only an MOU to guide a joint feasibility study on the viability of the project. Ethiopia is currently in advanced talks to use Djibouti as its main port and the two countries have just overseen the laying of the last part of the 752km electric SGR to connect the 2nd largest populous and land-locked country in Africa. Djibouti aims to earnestly get the SGR to South Sudan, Central Africa Republic, and Cameroon to connect from the Red sea to the Atlantic.

Kenya has boasted and rightly so, to be the biggest economy in Sub Saharan Africa north of Limpopo, although the torch may soon fade. The ground is shifting faster than Kenyans imagine and the much talked off pillar projects in successive regimes will soon be silhouettes in chronicles of history. Smaller countries like Djibouti seem to be in a race for time and focused to meet their MDGs sooner than later. Tanzania’s sharpened negotiating and deal making skills are just an indication that we need to relook into how we approach our cross boarder and internal projects of national importance. Abortion of the “Green field” airport expansion project is one of the misguided decisions that had poised Kenya to become the next “Dubai airport of Africa”. Dubai’s decision to expand the now 6th largest airport in the world 33years ago, is now finally paying off with their aviation industry contributing to 37.5% (26.7 Billion dollars) of their 2015 GDP through its famous duty free project.

Most of the projects have stalled, abandoned, taken more time due to corruption or degenerated into “talk big-less action” political tools. Questions on these mega projects abound like an abyss on; Why two Chinese state-owned enterprises; Third Railway and Design Institute (TSDI) and China’s Roads and Bridges Corporation (CRBC) were nominated to supervise and build respectively, the 324Billion Mombasa-Nairobi SGR project against a court of appeal order (Case No; Nai 282 of 2014(UR 210 of 2014)? Why have LAPSET investors developed cold feet and fees of USD 20million to Japan Port Consultants (JPC) recording as the highest feasibility fee in Kenya’s history? Why was the Parliamentary Investment Committee (PIC) report on SGR ignored? Why has Kenya abandoned the “Greenfield” project just three years after commissioning?

“The biggest threat to national security is corruption” are the very words of President Kenyatta. Our answers to losing out on mega deals may never be addressed. What is confirming to be true each passing day is that our Kenyan vision 2030 will just qualify to be a well written vision in theory while other regional countries patriotically lift themselves from bonds of poverty.

August 4, 2016
by Kate Mwamba
0 comments

Marriage 101

Year two of marriage and here I am on the verge of literally giving up and letting go. Who said marriage was going to be easy?  Every time i am on Facebook more of my friends are getting married and joining this bandwagon, others are taking up the 7 days love your partner challenge and splashing the whole Facebook with airbrushed photos of lovely couples smiling .It leaves me thinking if my marriage is the only one that is almost ever on a rough patch.  Truly my partner and I have taken embarrassing pictures like when I posted  little bubba with her clothes not fitting her since she has outgrown them and everyone is liking them and posting diplomatic messages(Parenting challenges memes) .Others of when he is so drunk and half way asleep in the driveway and am trying to pull him out of the car into the house or worse when we have had those heated arguments that leaves us sleeping angry at each other, does anyone feel me ?Could we just be real for a moment please!

What’s the hardest challenge in your marriage?

Think about that question for a minute. Your answer says a lot about the current state of your relationship. For my partner and ithe answer to that question has changed through the different seasons of our marriage. At one point it is financial stress. At another point, it is managing complex family dynamics. At different points in marriage, we’ve wrestled with inter -country moves, depression, debt, parenting stress, work stress, health issues and many other challenges along the way.

I’ve  realize that struggles are always a part of marriage, because struggles are always a part of life, but how you choose to face those struggles will have a tremendous impact on the health of your marriage. I had a conversation with a close friend with whose words profoundly helped my perspective on struggles in marriage.

He and his wife have walked through many struggles and many seasons of life in their half-century together. Their current struggles include a move from their hometown to be closer to family and a diagnosis of a long term infection on his wife. Watching her battle the infection and lose her memories has clearly been one of the greatest struggles in their marriage, but apparently, not his “biggest struggle.”

His wife was on a weekend trip with their daughter spending some “girl time” together. I asked him how he’s been doing, and he said, “Honestly, I’m not doing so well.”

I didn’t say it out loud, but I thought to myself, “Of course you’re not! You are in a new town trying to learn a new routine and you are having to watch your wife slowly lose her memories and her personality through the cruel infection. Nobody in your shoes would be doing well.”

What he said next left me speechless. When he was talking about why he was having such a hard time, his struggles had nothing to do with the factors I thought he meant.

He said, “I’m having such a hard time, because I’ve never been apart from her this long before. I’ve never gone two days in a row without seeing her. I can’t wait until she gets home tomorrow!”

Over 20 years together, and they’d never been apart for a 48-hour period. While so many couples seem to try and invent ways to escape from each other (story of my life), this man and his wife and created a relationship that neither partner ever wanted to “escape.” In fact, even the thought of being apart left him feeling sick.

This temporary distance, was his current greatest struggle in marriage. His perspective was an inspiring reminder to me that a marriage isn’t defined by the size of your struggles, but by the size of your commitment to overcome those struggles together.

 

June 29, 2016
by Kate Mwamba
0 comments

 

A famous saying goes thus: “If you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go further, go with others.” Another one says that, “He who travels alone goes fast, but he who travels with others goes further.” I would like to remind you again that if you really want to go beyond the limits in your life, you only need three things: people, people and more people.

The struggle between the book smarts and the street smart

The struggle between the book smarts and the street smart

In my past experience as a credit officer I had many chances of interacting with all sorts of business persons and I can tell you for free that most successful and influential business persons are not book smart but street smart. The stories of success are most humbling yet they upheld a vision and sought the opportunities in smart way. In a book written by Robert Kiyosaki titled, Why A Students Work for C Students and B Students Work for the Government.  Simply explains that because C students are known to be street smart and charming. They are very good with people and very good with numbers. They can easily influence and are convincing because they have what I call ‘likability.’ They are likable and like people too; they know how to treat people, respect them and make them feel valued. They are less egocentric and more people empowering. They understand the universal truth that the greatest desire of every human being is to feel important, and whenever they interact with others, they apply this law. They make others feel superior to them and in the process, find their way around them, cross all barriers, go beyond limits and reach the summit of their potential.

Examples the late, great Steve Jobs dropped out of school before graduating. Thomas Jefferson dropped out after only a few months of formal education. John D. Rockefeller dropped out of high school two months before his graduation and decided to go off and start a little company called Standard Oil. Walt Disney, Richard Branson, Elton John, James Cameron, Frank Lloyd Wright all dropped out of school to pursue their passions. These are just a few names on a very long list of brilliant or ambitious individuals who gave lackluster performances in the classroom but crushed it in real life!

We know now that there are many different types of intelligence and grades only measure a select few, and poorly at that. A GPA does not measure a person’s emotional intelligence, it does not measure their leadership ability, it does not necessarily measure their ability to think outside of the box and solve problems. It does nothing to evaluate a person’s ability to predict the needs of society or consumers. It does nothing to illuminate the ability of an individual to work with others and find middle ground in standoffs or conflicts. All of these things are vitally important to an individual’s success in life and almost none of them are measured by grades. Grades, GPAs and standardized test scores largely measure one’s ability to answer questions and regurgitate information and not much else.

Think about this. Throughout history, legendary leaders have had great people skills. Your people skills will take you to places where your brain and papers cannot. A book  by Robert Shemin titled, How Come that Idiot’s Rich and I’m Not? Well  most ‘idiots’ outsmart most educated fellows for the simple reason that for their advancement, the ‘idiots’ solely rely on their gut and power of leverage. What is leverage? It is simply using other people’s goodwill, other people’s intelligence, other people’s resources, other people’s influence, other people’s ideas and other people’s contacts

 

June 18, 2016
by Kate Mwamba
0 comments

How to mind your own business at a work place

office-gossipESTABLISH YOUR BOUNDARIES

“Train your colleagues to know that you won’t engage in drama,” Walk away from gossipy or negative conversations. Ask for facts and ignore rumors. Some people thrive on drama—it fills a need for attention or for feeling good about themselves at another’s expense. If you deprive them of that, they’ll stop looking to you to fill that need.

LIMIT THE TIME YOU SPEND WITH GOSSIPY COLLEAGUES

If one co-worker in particular consistently stirs up negativity or gossip, make a point of keeping your interactions to a minimum. “Don’t respond to emails that may be fraught with innuendo,”  “Keep your conversations short and work-focused.”

GENTLY CALL OUT NEGATIVITY

“If someone’s being super-negative and it’s getting you and others down, give them gentle feedback,” like “Hey, I’ve noticed when we chat, our conversation is so focused on the negative. I don’t know about you, but I could use some positivity. What’s going well for you?” It suggests that you’re in this together, reminding your co-worker how important optimism is without actually placing blame on him or her.

MAKE IT ABOUT YOU

Rather than go on the offensive, tell your colleagues that you have a personal policy not to get mixed up in drama. A suggestion like, “I don’t really like to talk about stuff like that,” or “It’s none of my business.” Then, change the subject.

ASK FOR THE FACTS

When gossip comes up, put it in its place. Say, “Oh, wow, that doesn’t sound right. Is that a fact or did you just hear that from someone?” You’ll probably be the last person they want to share rumors with in the future. “It may not change their behavior,” I say, “but it will take all the fun out of sharing gossip with you.”

 

June 18, 2016
by Kate Mwamba
1 Comment

TITTLE TATTLE TALK..

This is a re post but oh well…A gossiper [talebearer, slander] goes around telling secrets; so avoid anyone who talks too much. We are what comes out of our mouths.For those who know me well then you know I love inner peace and I avoid stressful people or stressful situations at whatever cost .I take pride in myself in the achievements I have made so far in life because it has been a journey to get here and while am here I will not apologize to anyone for how I or my family lives and why I regard myself highly, if God does not judge me otherwise then any other person’s thoughts and sentiments are irrelevant. If you make decision to stop and throw stones at every dog that barks then you will never reach your destination.

Gossip is that “secret” that people try to conceal with superficial concern and erroneous motives but really it does nothing but stir up conflict because it comes from an impure place. 

Gossiping has two sides to it; first gossiping is when you say something that is true but with the wrong motives causing them to look bad to others. Secondly, gossiping is sharing information with others who were not meant to know such personal details even if without evil intent.

Now let us look at God’s perspective on this gossiping. Proverbs 26:20 tells us, “Without wood fire goes out; without a gossip a conflict dies down.” When you choose to not listen to gossip or to not spread it you help quench the problem. But when we listen to or partake in gossiping our words do nothing but add fuel to an already burning fire.

But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so(James 3:8-10)

Next, Proverbs 20:19 clearly warn us that, “When someone tells you something in confidence do not share it with anyone else. If they want others to know their business let them be the ones to share it. Your job is to listen, support and pray for them. Compromising that trust and spreading gossip to others that are not involved create a bigger problem and that is something God hates. God wants to use a mouth that is not suited for the gutter, but suited for grace

 Being overweight or underweight

Enough with this “I just don’t have time to work out; I have this or that  problem; I just got back from vacation” It doesn’t matter that you don’t replicate the painfully impossible standard of beauty that ruthlessly invades our sore eyes from the altar of billboards and magazines, so STOP justifying it. Own your size — for there is nothing sexier on the planet than being comfortable in your skin. Remember this: Beauty is health. Healthy comes in a plethora of sizes, so as long as you’re treating your body like the sacred temple it is, you’re beautiful.

Children or no children

Let’s get real: We don’t all want the same things out of this precious life, and that’s OK. It’s actually kind of great, for it gives the otherwise dull planet the sparkle of diversity. Whether you bear ten children or none in marriage, the society will talk, whether you bear children of the same sex or unable to bear more children, society will still have something to say. When will society mind its own womb?

Read an interesting article on the same https://nadirahangail.com/2016/05/25/mind-your-own-womb

I understand society has made all of us feel as if we’re missing an essential chip for not wanting children immediately, If you don’t want children, simply don’t have them. You’re still a warm, loving, wonderful, and fabulous and person. You don’t need to sprinkle sugar on the truth by earnestly claiming you have a family history of mental health problems, or your spouse is not in proper order for motherhood, or you will think about it when once in a stable relationship bottom line is just be happy with the path that you choose, the choice is entirely upon you.

Wanting or not to be a career woman

You can still be a liberated, forward-thinking woman while choosing to stay at home with your children. Feminism is doing whatever the hell you want, unabashedly living a life packed with personal happiness and wonderful fulfillment. 

“Reckless spending heaps of our own money”.

Why do you need to justify spending your own hard-earned money on cars, house, steaks, salacious trips, and rounds of top-shelf beer and whatever else it is you feel like to indulge in?. Society will talk whether you choose to constantly justify your spending on the hard earned cash on things that bring you pressure or whether you give away all your cash to charity .In my opinion I say YOLO (you only live once).

Jesus told His followers, “Whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops” (Luke 12:3). As Believers we must recognize the power that is in the tongue. They have the power to tear others down and even grieve the Holy Spirit. But when our tongues line up with what God proclaims in His Word, we are on the right path.

I sincerely hope I spoke to someone!

 

June 9, 2016
by Kate Mwamba
2 Comments

Your personal budget simplified

money flow chart

The flow chart above depicts the flow of money.

Part of the reason we accumulate debt is that there are so many distractions in our lives – things we want to buy but don’t need.

But we also ring up debt because we simply don’t understand the flow of our income and expenses, so we can’t accurately estimate how much money we have available to spend.

Last year, I put in place a “Money Flow” system to help my family track our spending.Asimple way to plan your personal finances as below;

Set Super Strong, Meaningful Goals

What’s the point of even having a financial plan if you don’t have any goals? There isn’t one.

If you want to make headway financially you need goals that are strong enough to inspire you to action. Goals are what allow you to practice delayed gratification. For instance, if you have a goal of paying off $3,000 worth of credit card debt in six months, you know that if you spend $30 on a new dress that you don’t really need, you’re robbing yourself of debt freedom.(guilty*)

Prepare a Budget

Next comes either the fun, or horrid part, depending on your personality. I’ll go ahead and be the first to admit: I don’t like strict budgeting. However, I am very aware of what I spend my money on. There’s no right or wrong way to budget. You need to find what works the best for you.

 An Emergency Fund

You need a decent emergency fund before starting on other goals like accelerating your debt payoff, saving for a house, or saving for retirement. Emergency funds come in handy and will prevent you from paycheck to paycheck living.Most financial experts recommend that you have at least 3-6 months’ worth of cash set aside for emergencies. I agree, but ultimately, your emergency fund needs to be whatever makes you feel comfortable.

Debt Payoff Plan

I hate debts but we all must live with them somehow, after you’ve reached your desired emergency fund amount it’s time to really accelerate your financial goals. If you have high interest debt, like credit card debt, paying that off should be your main focus. Once that’s done you can choose to pay off lower interest rate debt or move onto saving and investing.one thing you need to be aware of, is retirement savings. You should have a retirement savings plan as one of your goals.

You can take all that cash you’ve been funneling toward your emergency fund and spread it between your financial goals.

 The Right Kinds of Insurance – You will Wish You Had it when You Need It

Insurance is often overlooked in a strong financial plan. The truth is, without the right type of insurance all of your hard work could go down the drain with one accident example the Auto Insurance, Homeowner’s Insurance, Health, Life Insurance.

 A strategy for increasing your income. We all know working hard only pays bill but does not get you the dream goals done, while working smart in the other hand would. For a lot of people, expenses aren’t the problem – its income. If you’re making $20,000 per year you’re never going to get ahead. You need to get creative and actively look to increase your income. It takes hard work and hustle but anyone can do it. You just have to have the right attitude.

Here are 50+ side hustles to get you thinking.

Review Your Financial Plan Often

As time goes by your financial goals and insurance needs will change. Review your financial plan often and readjust whenever necessary to see if it works.

 

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June 6, 2016
by Kate Mwamba
2 Comments

Ditch these bad, time-killing habits

TIME IS MONEYThe clock strikes 3:00 PM. Suddenly, you realize you’re not nearly as far down on your to-do list as you planned to be. You think: Ugh, who’s stealing all my time? But let’s get real: No matter how busy you are, the only person sapping your productivity is you.

The truth is, it’s easy to get into routines where you mindlessly waste the precious minutes of your day. These unconscious habits might seem harmless—or even, ironically, like they’re actually boosting your productivity—but ultimately, they slow you down, distract you from doing your work, and leave you scrambling to catch up by the end of the day.

Fortunately, there’s a way to overcome every bad habit. So if you’re serious about upping your productivity game, it’s time to ditch these three patterns and replace them with ones that work (pun intended).

Bad Habit #1: Slow-Motion Mornings

When you arrive at work first thing in the morning, head straight for the snack pantry, stop by your friend’s desk to discuss the latest episode of whatever you just watched, and then plop down in your chair to sort through your inbox, you might think that you’re just easing your way into the work day. But with that routine, you might not find your flow until an hour in or longer—and that’s not a productive way to get your day going.

The Fix: Go Straight to Your Desk, Do Not Pass Go

So, when you first step through the door, don’t get too comfortable—get working. And yes, that means delaying your morning coffee chat. If you don’t have time to make a cup before you head to the office, try picking one up before you get to the office so that you can head straight to your desk and knock out a few quick tasks, allowing you to set the stage for success. If you really want to maximize your efficiency, jot down your morning to-dos before you even get into the office. Even taking 10 minutes at the end of the day—or, if you take public transit, during your morning commute—can help you dive into productivity mode right off the bat.

If you struggle to get down to business right away, you may want to try standing up at your desk instead of sitting. It doesn’t take a specially outfitted desk—you just need to find an elevated surface to place your computer on. Many people find that it naturally launches them into action—you feel focused, energized, ready to conquer your to-do list. If standing’s not your thing, try putting your phone out of reach, or changing up your to-do list strategy, or seeing if listening to ambient noise helps you.

Once you make some headway and reach a good stopping point, reward yourself with a mental break and grab that second cup of coffee. If you bump into a colleague who wants to dish about the podcast you both listen to, go for it: You’ve earned it.

Bad Habit #2: Sitting Through Too Many Meetings—Literally

Few things are more frustrating than having a day so filled with meetings that you don’t have time to get anything done. But here’s the secret: You probably don’t have to be in all of them. And if by some chance you do, well, then, you need to make them a lot more effective.

The Fix: Stop Following the Meeting Herd—Lead the Efficient Pack

In an effort to clear their inboxes, plenty of people blindly accept invitations without thinking about whether or not they actually need to go, but prioritizing your precious time is key to productivity. If a seemingly non-essential invite comes through, there’s nothing wrong with politely asking the organizer if you need to be there or letting her know that you need to tackle some other urgent items instead. You’d be surprised at how accommodating people are when you directly communicate your position. No one wants a disengaged multi-tasker clacking away at her keyboard in protest instead of paying attention to the meeting’s leader.

But sometimes, due to pressing deadlines or simply office politics, there’ll be meetings you can’t get out of. In those situations, if you’re able to, get out of the conference room and organize a walking meeting. This is especially effective for recurring check-ins or one-on-ones, less so for large gatherings, but if everyone is game, it can work for four or five people as well. Making meetings mobile keeps the energy levels high and the ideas flowing, while giving all participants involved a much-needed break from laptops and phones.

Bad Habit #3: Hiding Behind Your Keyboard

There’s something about using a computer as an intermediary that makes a lot of people feel more comfortable weighing in on sensitive issues or sharing honest opinions. And often, communicating through an online chat system or email just seems like the quickest way to get things done.

The Fix: Get in Front of Your Team

The keyword here, though, is seems. Sure, typing out a quick question and clicking send may be a couple of seconds faster than walking over to your teammate’s desk, but think of all the confusion that can result from only communicating through writing. (Anyone who’s ever felt momentary panic after receiving a text that says nothing but “OK,” knows exactly what I mean). If you’re trying to problem-solve or have a deep, multi-faceted conversation through email or chat, you risk getting pulled into a thread of back-and-forth misunderstandings.

Kill the never-ending email chains once and for all by resolving to sort things out in person whenever possible. It might feel a little intimidating at first, but nine times out of 10, talking things through face-to-face will be quicker and less painful. And the good news is, the more you do it, the easier it’ll be.

Whether you find yourself constantly running out of time—or you just want to step up your ability to get things done—it’s worth keeping those little time-sucking habits in check when you can. If you want to win the productivity game, you need to make the most out of every moment you have.

Who knows? If you use these small changes as a launching pad, you might even become the office bad ass who gets a ton of work done, plays a role in major accomplishments, and still has time for the after-work happy hour.

June 6, 2016
by Kate Mwamba
2 Comments

Some humor in marriage…

marriage humorI raise my hand super high that my marriage is NOT perfect. And, in case you haven’t heard this, let me be first to tell you, NO ONES is. It is so easy to browse Instagram or Facebook and see the “good”. You see the smiles, you see the happy family pictures, you see the good. People rarely post their fights, their struggles, or their bad days. So, while reading this, know that you are not alone. My prayer is that you would actively fight for your marriage and pray continually for one another.

Writers often get inspiration from the briefest moments in life. Something seen while driving, a headline on a favorite magazine, or something someone says that makes you laugh, instantly gets your brain thinking “How do I write about this?” This was one of those moments. Hold on there! Let me think like a married man..haha..i hope I pull this one off;

Wife says: “That guy over there is coming on to me.”

Husband translates: “You need to get up and go tell him to back off. Yes, I can see that he’s 6’2″ and outweighs you by 50 pounds, but grow a pair and go defend my honor.”

Wife says: “Are you gaining a little weight?”
Husband translates: “You’re fat, and from now on, all sexual activity will be conducted in the dark”haha

Wife says: “Can we talk?”
Huband translates: “You’re one response away from being a dead man because, make no mistake, I’m not happy and it’s your fault. So listen and think very carefully before you say another word.”

Wife says: “Do you think she’s pretty?”
Husband translates: “Alert. Alert. She’s absolutely stunning, but if you say that, I’m going to be forced to go all freaky ninja on your ass, so just look confused and say ‘Who?’”

Wife says: “Do you know what today is?”
Husband translates: “I celebrate all of our special moments. First date,  first kiss, first dance. Because this relationship is important to me. Isn’t it important to you?? Walk through that minefield, Big Guy.”

Wife says: “I’ve been thinking.”
Husband translates: “Grab a beer and a comfy chair, because this is going to take a while.  Forget the beer. You’re going to need Scotch.”

Wife says: “Notice anything new, dear?”
Husband translates: “You’ve got about 15 seconds to figure out what’s different about me (Did I cut my hair, lose weight) before I tell all my girlfriends that you’re a total douche who doesn’t pay attention to his wife.”

Wife says: “No, there’s nothing wrong.”
Husband translates: “You stepped in it, big time. But you’re going to have to figure it out because I’m too pissed to tell you exactly what you did.”

And so for all your lamenting over the years, guys, about how mysterious and confusing women can be, it would appear that you know us better than you thought. But all in all in my journey in quest to get near God this year I have learnt to seek the bible for most answers in attempts to become a better wife and mother. I have found that in everything;

Have Patience. Patience can be a hard thing. You sit in traffic, you wait in lines, you wait on the phone…. its takes patience. Your spouse leaves the dishes in the sink, you leave toothpaste on the mirror… its takes patience. Always practice and pray for patience with each other.

Love is patient.. – 1 Corinthians 13:4

Be kind. I know that this might sound basic, but it’s so basic that we can forget to be intentionally kind. By this I mean, have your spouse’s meal ready for them, make the bed, pick up their favorite snacks or surprise gift on the way home, do initially kind things for them throughout the day. Also, seek to be kind with your words. Having a patient and kind attitude can do so much throughout your day. Choose kindness.

Love is kind.. – 1 Corinthians 13:4

Do not compare.I slightly mentioned above that comparison is a huge struggle today that I feel social media makes even easier. When comparison sneaks into a marriage, it can be very hard to see any good. Be mindful of this and put things in place to combat comparison.

Love does not envy… – 1 Corinthians 13:4

Keep ego/pride away. Pride can be harsh. Pride can be ugly. Pride can be hard. Pride can make reconciliation hard or nearly impossible. Pride gets in the way. Leave no room for pride in your marriage. Instead, clothe your marriage in GRACE and humility. You are on the same team. Be quick to listen and apologize if necessary.

Love does not boast, it is not proud. – 1 Corinthians 13:4

Serve one another. I cannot stress this enough. Pay attention to your spouse and their needs. If they have had a long day, ensure dinner is ready and the house is peaceful when they get home. You could even offer a back massage or a fun movie. Serving one another is one of the best things you could do for your marriage because you put your partner first. Value them above yourself. Try no matter how tired both of you are from work or other chores.

Love is not self-seeking – 1 Corinthians 13:5

Keep a soft heart. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32) When people ask me for marriage advice, the two biggest things I say are prayer and keeping a soft heart. I think it can be very easy to become hardened, so I always pray for a soft heart. We know that through our relationship with Christ, we are already forgiven.

Love is not easily angered – 1 Corinthians 13:5

Keep no record of wrongs. Many experts agree that a way to keep a healthy and strong relationship is to avoid phrases like “you always..”, “you never…”, or “I can’t believe you did this again..” Love releases past mistakes and genuinely forgives. This gives you so much freedom in your relationship. Don’t keep track of your spouse’s offences or label them for their mistakes. God loves you and keeps no record of your confessed wrongs. it’s hard but do able.

Love keeps no record of wrongs – 1 Corinthians 13:5

Above all, PRAY. Pray daily for your marriage. Pray for all of these things for your marriage (kindness, patience, soft heart). Never stop praying. Life can be hard, marriage can be hard, but with God, you can prosper. God is bigger than your struggles. He already has you and your marriage in the palm of His hand. Rely on Him.

 

 

 

March 22, 2016
by Kate Mwamba
0 comments

No one told me…

stretch mark

Now that am out of the bush, hiding face while laughing, into the clearing i would like share a few things that no one bothers to mention during the pregnancy journey to the time Baby is born. As much as that smile on the photo shoot looks very easy and all calm ,it is actually not the actual matter on the ground. I have been there twice now rest the aching womb syndrome comes calling again…

From decorating to your work to-do list, getting stuff done is your new specialty. You suddenly feel like a super woman, the energy surge is unbelievably high. You are here there everywhere handling everything!

You will become a bump-protecting ninja. HIY-YAAA commuter elbow! KAPOW!

Under wired bras are the enemy. Yes Mastitis is real! Keep off those beautiful push-ups and raced bras as much inviting as they look.

Everyone will comment on the size of your bump and nothing they say will be right. ‘Wow! It’s very neat!’ = ‘It’s unfeasible small, there must be something wrong.’ ”Wow, that’s a healthy bump!’ = ‘You got fat.’ I forgive my sister Shyro Njoroge  for utterly calling my bump fat and lazy,karma is catching up with you soon sister!haha..

You will burp, hiccup and have regular heart burn…unfortunately you will have to weather the storm since self-medication is a no go zone.

…but your hair will be real nice,full and shiny!. Everyone has an opinion on whether you should find out the sex of your unborn child. (Start practicing your nodding-along faces now.)

You will start to measure time in weeks and days. Downloading pregnancy apps while goggling anything and everything that you my strangely experience as the body adjusts to the new occupant.

Whatever their size, your breasts are about to get their moment in the spotlight. But fame and glory come at a price: Soreness and the sudden change of bra cups to a couple of sizes up!

Out of the blue, you will suddenly realize that there are two of you in the car / on the sofa / in the bath. Ha! you are a small giant

Your body stretches even in places you had no idea could stretch so as a natural order stretch marks become a familiar thing. Yes it at that point you get advises from everyone on all the remedies you can do to prevent this. Well, applying all the body lotions and natural oils in the world does not work. Accept and move on please!

You will be told – often – that you’re ‘glowing’. Sweating and panting like a pig in a sausage shop might be your way of putting it.

Pillows, pillows everywhere. Wedged in curves, stuffed in gaps, plugged between knees. Now let’s get some shut eye…and nothing! Sleep becomes a thing of the past.

Body aches and strain will be a familiar friend. Try stretching in the morning, muscle pulls occurs and other body pains that cannot be explained .The body feels like some hand me down piece of thing!.

The passage of time will slow to an almost imperceptible drip. Who knew nine months could take so freaking long? Especially third trimester…whooo!

Comfy pants are officially in. Good bye fashion sense.

You will be amazed at how many hours there are in the weekend when you don’t spend half of them hungovered. For those who enjoy a few glasses of wine, guilty…

You will worry about your unborn child not being cute. Then feel guilty you ever had that thought.(Hide face)

Even repeat episodes of “La gata” will have you sobbing like no-one’s ever sobbed before. It’s just all so amazing and terrifying at the same time. My husband doesn’t get it…duh!

Pelvic floor exercises will go from being something you vaguely read about in a magazine to what you do at the bus stop. When it’s time to go, its indeed time, waiting or postponing is no longer a luxury

Dead-eyed parents will eye your bump and say, ‘Just pray you get a sleeper.’ (This will make you anxious.).A crying baby will make you go utterly insane especially for first time mums. Whisper and talk to Baby to behave once they are out to the world.

Nobody can agree on anything (epidurals, soft cheese, formula, medicine balls, water births, riding a bike, wine, routines, co-sleeping, bouncy chairs, sleep nannies) except that having a baby is definitely and without doubt going to be the most awesome thing that’s ever happened to  any woman.

February 18, 2016
by Kate Mwamba
0 comments

Baby Fat be gone!

 

Whether you’re thinking about becoming pregnant, currently have a bun in the oven or, are already gazing into your new baby’s eyes, the topic of postpartum weight loss can instill feelings of anxiety, stress and fear in many (if not all) women.postpartum weight loss

Looking at yourself more frequently in the mirror to scrutinize the physical effects of a diet could actually lead you to feel less comfortable with your appearance than before you lost.

              Dr. Yoni Freedhoff in The Diet Fix

It’s natural and necessary to put on weight during pregnancy. During this magical time, there are a myriad of hormonal changes that happen within your body, personally in first pregnancy I added 5 kgs while in my second pregnancy I added 20kgs.Every pregnancy is different. What usually happens is that your body produce human placental lactogen (HPL) which promotes insulin resistance. This state of insulin resistance does two things, first it helps you increase your blood glucose to feed your growing baby and second, it increases visceral fat stores that will be utilized during breastfeeding. Both totally necessary and vital functions.  The truth is my second pregnancy wasn’t very conducive to staying fit and healthy. I’m not trying to make excuses (okay, maybe a little), but between my unrelenting, all-day, all-pregnancy morning sickness that made it nearly impossible to eat anything in the first trimester but refined carbs and my pelvic condition that make it hard to even walk from the bedroom to the bathroom, let alone workout, the weight piled on for me during pregnancy. And even more important to me than that, my fitness and general health plummeted—I had a scare with false  labor, and I figure my inactive lifestyle and poor diet during pregnancy probably contributed to that.

I pretty much took a 6 months’ vacation, I can feel it. My joints ache. I’m tired—and not just new-mom sleep-deprived tired. I have no energy. My hair is dull and lifeless. My nails are constantly breaking all the time. My skin doesn’t have the nice, healthy girl glow it once had. I just don’t feel good. And I used to feel really good.

And then there is the weight thing. I don’t really put a lot of value in weight as an indicator of health on a global scale, but I do think it’s possible to use weight as one guidepost (among many) to help you gauge your health on an individual basis. I know what number feels good on my body. It’s the number where my knees stop hurting, my energy spikes, and I can enjoy going on a strenuous walk or run. And that number is about 14kgs away from where I am right now— 6kgs  of that is baby weight and the other 78kgs  is extra weight I was carrying around before I got pregnant.

It is important to me to give myself a pass of the first few weeks of motherhood. When we first came home with Baby Samarah , I gave myself a deadline. I said that I’d try to get back to living a healthier life from month one—and if I got the urge earlier, I’d go with it. Turns out, here I am three weeks shy of my deadline, and I’ve got the fitness itch again! Yay! I’m so glad I am taking the time to just focus on being a mom and letting my whole world revolve around my daughter, but I think it’s now time to slowly bring back in taking care of myself, and that includes getting healthy again.

I’ve been thinking of a plan for the past few days, and it’s really nothing ground-breaking. It’s doing the same things I did the first time I had 10kgs to lose ,only adapted to take into account the fact that I’m taking care of a tiny human.

  • Reduce sugar. I’m not one to believe a few sugary treats is going to derail a healthy lifestyle, but I do think my diet has been a little too sugar focused lately. I’d like to cut back on the amount of sugary treats (and I’m not just talking white sugar, I’m talking honey, maple syrup, etc.), and make them more of an accent to my diet.
  • Drink more water. One of the biggest keys to my earlier weight loss success was keeping very well hydrated. I’m not dehydrated now (I get my 8-10 cups a day), but I could definitely be better about it. I feel so much better when my body is properly hydrated. And I have to remember that since I have a little baby, and carrying around more weight, my body requires even more water than it did before.
  • Get back to food prepping.it may seem silly to prep food and pack my lunch considering I work from home, but I think going through the process of thinking about everything I’d eat in a day in order to pack my lunch when I was working in an office really helped keep me on track. Now, I can graze all day, or, more commonly, I can skip meals all day because I’m busy, and then eat a huge dinner to make up for it—neither of those are very healthy. Have a food regimen during the day is really helpful for me.
  • By far, the easiest way to lose your baby weight is to breastfeed. Remember that hormone HPL that helps you hang on to weight during pregnancy? When you breastfeed, HPL is replaced by Prolactin. Prolactin’s job is to support lactation, reduce estrogen levels (causing freedom from menstrual periods) and mobilize nutrient stores to feed your growing baby. Prolactin produced please DON’T starve yourself. Ensure you are getting adequate calories to support your body’s recovery and activity levels. If you drop calories too low your milk supply will suffer.
  • Estrogen: If you have suffered from PCOS in the past, aren’t able to breastfeed or you’re baby has weaned early you may suffer from a condition called estrogen dominance. In hormonally healthy women, estrogen levels should be balanced by progesterone levels in ratios of roughly 1:5 on day 21 of their cycle. Having too much estrogen or too little progesterone can create this state of estrogen dominance which can cause weight gain, fatigue, cravings for sweets, trouble sleeping and thyroid dysfunction. See your functional medicine specialist if you think this may be happening to you. There are a number of supplements and lifestyle changes that can support a healthy estrogen/progesterone balance.
  • Eat Carbs:Low carb or ketogenic diets are in vogue right now in the weight loss world. For most women, the childbearing years are not the time to experiment with ultra-low carb diets. Limiting carbs in your diet (below 100g/day) can cause a host of issues for postpartum women. It can stress your adrenals, tax your thyroid, and decrease your milk supply and cause insomnia or other sleep disturbances.  We’ll be sure to dive into the carb-conundrum and get into specific levels in the upcoming baby making and beyond program, but for now, just be sure to add healthy and friendly carbs like potatoes, yams, squashes and even some rice into your diet.
  • Stress-less: Stress can increase cortisol levels (produced by your adrenal glands) making weight loss very difficul. Limiting caffeine, practicing regular meditation and sleeping will all make the journey so much easier.
  • Spending time exercising outdoors is a bonus. Outdoor movement increases endorphins and dopamine levels helping you stay happy and balanced.
  • Exercise: A little intelligent movement will support muscle growth and help sustain fat loss. Please, don’t go crazy and don’t start too soon. Start walking around 2-4 weeks. After 6 weeks, you can introduce some light weight bearing exercise. The best combination of exercise for postpartum women is lots of walking, a little yoga and some form of weight lifting, or body weight movement.

Remember, it takes 9 months to gain the baby weight and it will take 9-18 months to lose it. Practice gentle loving kindness for yourself and don’t sweat the small stuff. In the grand scheme of life, 10 extra pounds is a first world problem, focus on the things that really matter like family, friendships and being an active and informed citizen of your community and planet.

 

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