Oversized Diors


My shrink told me I must create time to play. “What do you mean ‘time to play’?” I asked.

She exhaled. “We’ve been conditioned to work, work, work. But if someone stops you and asks, ‘what are you working so hard for?’ you won’t know what to say. Sometimes it’s in a panic. Most times it’s because that’s what we’re expected to do.”

She let her words simmer. “Let me share something personal with you, Bett. There are clients who pay me three times what you pay just so they can have these two hours with me. They feel they’re getting real value for their money.

“I’m only able to give them this value because I’ve created time for myself to play. Women are wired differently from men, that’s why we need it more.”

There are all these technical formulas about personal finance, formulas that make you feel like you’re chewing glass. A formula for financial stability is Income + emergency fund = Living expenses.

A formula for your personal net worth. It says Your net worth = Total assets – total liabilities.

A formula for how much to save: 50 per cent needs + 30 per cent wants = 80 per cent spending.

Here’s a more colourful, more fun one: Work hard + Play harder = More money.

Work hard + Play harder = More money.

By the way, yes – I’ve been seeing a shrink.

I see her for therapy and, much to my surprise, for career and life coaching. I suffered a miscarriage back in May. It’s the third miscarriage I’ve suffered – one before our toddler Muna, two after.

I figured that three times in would turn me into an expert on coping. It hasn’t. It never will. You can never become at expert at knowing how to cry.

I really thought I was doing fine. I returned to my regular routines two weeks after leaving the hospital. GB doesn’t dwell on events from the past you can’t change. He moves on much quicker than I do. I followed suit, choosing to ignore the emptiness. Problem is, I’m not made like him. I don’t deal with loss the way he does. We’re individuals who see life through difference shades – he’s drawn to black Ray-Bans, I much prefer oversized Diors.

You also know how sneaky grief is? Triggers had me bursting into stubborn tears in the oddest of places, without warning – beaming parents on Instagram taking their swaddled newborn home. Invites to a WhatsApp baby shower group. Those tiny adorable baby clothes in Toi Market.

Early August, I told myself, “Chick, you’re lying to yourself. Go see a professional to guide you in unknotting these emotions that are inking your soul with darkness.”

Playing – instead of working – honestly sounds like a privilege you can’t afford.  Like it’s a waste of time. Time you’d have spent elsewhere earning an extra buck. What we don’t realise is that we undo ourselves – as women – when we don’t give ourselves room to breathe and take stock.

Refusing to play is like saying you can’t stop to fuel your car’s empty tank because you’re in a hurry.

Refusing to play is like saying you can’t stop to fuel your car’s empty tank because you’re in a hurry.

I’m a freelance writer so my I decide how my hours are spent. After my shrink gave me permission and said that it’s OK to play, I told myself, “Then let’s fucking play.”

I work only four and a half days a day week. I don’t work most of Thursday; that means no sitting infront of my laptop or sitting infront of someone hearing their story, for a story. If I must, I work strictly half day. Strictly. Until 1 p.m. I spend most of the day playing.

On some days, I go home and catch some inspiring shows on Netflix. I especially like ‘Chef’s Table’ and ‘Abstract: The Art of Design’ (earlier seasons, though). Now I’m catching ‘Interior Design Masters’.

On other days I’ll read a book. Or have whiskey at my local while listening to 90s music.

Evenings I’ll catch a movie big screen with GB. Last week we watched ‘Joker’; there are scenes in there that still haunt me to this moment. Week before that I caught ‘Hustlers’ alone. The storyline was thin but it made for mindless entertainment. And how hot does J Lo look at 50? Daaang. They’re constantly telling us to cut wheat and sugar from our diets and focus more on weight training than cardio. Well, maybe we’d listen if they made us see more of J Lo pole dancing in some stringy baby doll.

I also got houseplants. I thought caring for them would be a way for Muna and I to bond, but she sits on the succulent and tears the leaves off the fern. Ha-ha. Watching the geranium and spider plant flower calms my soul and teaches me the patience of growth. The peace lily gives me…  peace. Cheesy, I know. The snake plant is showing me what it means to care – and love – from a distance.

Window-shopping also feeds my obsession for those nice things I desire. I collect prices while at it, for my budgeting. Last Thursday I shopped for fabrics for curtains and sheers. I want to upgrade the ones in our bedrooms. I spent hours making my selections then the shop attendant drafted me a quote. I whistled like a farmer from Kaplong – the damn things cost about as much as rent for an apartment in LA. I know now to work harder next month so I can afford them.

Thursday is also my day to dream more and imagine more. Our reality is borne from our own imaginations. Our own thoughts. I look at my bank balance and Sacco savings, and ask myself what resources I have within my reach to double those balances by next quarter. I brainstorm ideas for projects and sidehustles, for what more I can sell to Kenyans.

I dream of being comfortable, and living a life of gratitude and abundance. A life where the lines between play and work are so blurred, they become one and the same thing.

An edited version of this story first ran in my personal finance column in the Saturday Magazine.

The power of broke
Dial my heart

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