Month: February 2016

Your First Step to Being a Renaissance (Wo)man

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Leonardo Da Vinci was a Renaissance man. His interests spanned a wide range of topics; from engineering to cartography (=map drawing, in case you were wondering ‘what is cartography?!’). But you know the most fascinating thing I find about Da Vinci; his notebooks. Some may consider his notebooks as pieces of art in and of themselves. They recorded the man’s thinking and his fascination with nature. So your first step to being a renaissance (wo)man is simple; Start a Journal.

Journaling helps you learn more about yourself. It helps you disentangle your thoughts. Sometimes you can’t figure out why you did something until you adopt a third person’s view of it, and sometimes you can’t do that until you write about it and read it later.

Journaling can be cathartic; the pen providing a valve through which you can relieve all of your personal frustrations.

Journaling can also help you harness your creativity. Whether it’s through creative writing or drawing sketches, an empty page can both be thrilling and scary.

You can also use your journal to collect quotes, mementos from moments you never want to forget so when your fickle memory becomes unreliable you have something to remind you of the good old days. It’s always a good idea to capture specifics while describing bits and pieces of your current life because things change so quickly.

A beautiful example of presenting specifics can be found in The Unabridged Journals of Sylvie Plath,

“I may never be happy, but tonight I am content. Nothing more than an empty house, the warm hazy weariness from a day spent setting strawberry runners in the sun, a glass of cool sweet milk, and a shallow dish of blueberries bathed in cream. When one is so tired at the end of a day one must sleep, and at the next dawn there are more strawberry runners to set, and so one goes on living, near the earth….” Tweet this

It’s easy to take one look at Da Vinci’s notebooks and have such a high standard for a journal, but let’s be honest here, as much as I encourage you to be a renaissance (wo)man, you are no Da Vinci, and most likely, nobody’s really going to care about your journals so as Gretchen Rubin advises, sometimes to get things done you’ve got to lower your standards. Another sage advice she’s made popular is,

“Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” Share on Twitter

In other words, open your journal and scribble about mats or cats, cars, or Mars. Let your tears smear the ink on the page so every word is illegible. Use the paper bag that came with your samosa as a bookmark so there are grease splotches everywhere. In other words, Wreck your journal!

After all, there’s something amazing about writing for yourself; it’s liberating not to have someone judge you for your ideas. The only trick, especially in our Kemeni culture, is to make sure your journal doesn’t look fancy. It shouldn’t be leather-bound or have a lock or pink feathers, because it might attract the wasabasi (nosy) people in your lives. Get one of those kasuku notebooks and let it meld in with your other school/work/recipe notebooks.


If you’re always virtually chained to your laptop, you can keep an online journal on There’s also the iphone app called ‘Day One’ that’s becoming popular nowadays. For other platforms, Evernote is another good example. The best thing about personal journals on your computer is the control+F function.

So are you thinking of starting a journal? Leave a comment below telling me about the type of journal you’d like to use and/or tag me on twitter (@ahscribbles) with hashtag (#journaling). What’s your first entry going to be about?

Feeling uninspired? Try answering one of these three questions in one of those inconspicuous kasuku notebooks;
1) What would I do if I knew I couldn’t fail?
2) What advice would you give your fourteen year old self?
3) If you had a million dollars, how would you spend it?

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Be True to Yourself

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If you’ve done the exercise in the previous post, then by now you have a list of your core values on a piece of paper somewhere. It’s easy to use that paper as coaster for your coffee mug and eventually throw it out, but don’t do that! Habit # 1 in Steven Covey’s book, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” is Be Proactive.

Proactive people get things done. They don’t twiddle their thumbs waiting for the right opportunities to head in their direction. Notice the active word here is ‘done‘ not ‘planned‘ or ‘thought about‘. Proactivity is defined by action; positive steps taken in a particular direction. So where does this fall within the overarching theme of values? Being proactive about cultivating our values helps us be true to ourselves. It helps us build consistency; align our lives to some internal compass. For example, you might say that you value creativity, but when’s the last time you worked on a creative project? Do you exercise your creativity every day or once every blue moon (btw, did you know that a blue moon isn’t actually blue? I only discovered that recently and was quite disappointed).

The trick with this is to start with small, consistent steps. Sometimes we set the bar too high and that stops us from taking any action. For instance, you might think that adding ‘Adventure’ on your Values list means you need to go skydiving or something you can’t currently afford, but what if you start small and just decide to explore a new area in your town?

At night.


Without your phone or wallet.

Okay that will probably cultivate the value of recklessness so don’t do that.

But you get the picture. Start small but be consistent. Consistency is the main key here, and to help you stay consistent, you can use apps such as to keep track of your daily/weekly habits or join a community to hold you accountable. For example, the Nanowrimo community is a famous one for novel writers during the month of November, where writers commit to writing a 50,000 words novel.

“A jug fills drop by drop” Tweet this

For those people who are not familiar with Steven Covey’s book, here’s a nice summary in animation form that I found on youtube

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