Birthday and the joy of finally finishing, launching my book

Should I

Two copies of the book ‘Should I?’ by Florence Bett.

Photo credit: Pool

What you need to know:

  • On my 35th birthday in 2019, Eliud Kipchoge was in Vienna, Austria making history.
  • I celebrated my 37th birthday this year. By then I was months into writing my book.

I celebrated my 35th birthday down in Diani, Mombasa. It was on October 12, 2019. A Saturday that was tipsy with possibilities, as endlessly open as the sea. I was down there with my brother, our spouses and our kids.

I know that date doesn’t ring a bell for you – birthday dates are only special to the person celebrating it – but something else happened on that day. I don’t mean to be dramatic but it was a very important event for all of humankind. Something like the moon landing. Or the first successful heart transplant.

On my 35th birthday in 2019, Eliud Kipchoge was in Vienna, Austria making history. He was attempting to run a 42-kilometer marathon in under two hours. No one had ever cracked this before, it was the biggest story that weekend. The headlines said Eliud was the greatest marathoner of all time. His personal mantra – ‘No human is limited’ – became a trending hash tag on social media. I am certain babies born that weekend were named Eliud. Or Ineos, he-he.

Eliud’s event started when I was in the hotel’s dining room having a late solo breakfast. I remember a guest on the queue for omelettes pointed her chin towards the TV and saying, "I don’t care how long he takes to run, I just hope he wins." I scoffed. I didn't know how to tell her that he wasn’t running against anyone – he was running against the clock, against himself.

My family and I were up in our hotel room watching when Eliud tore through the finish-line ribbon. I won’t squander my limited word count explaining the collective euphoria. What I distinctly recall is thinking, "The Universe has sent him running to tell me something for my birthday. But what, exactly?"

Writing my book

I celebrated my 37th birthday this year. By then I was months into writing my book. My rudimentary ideas and thoughts were sprawled out on the page; vulnerable, raw, bloody, a work in progress. Seeing them out in the open like that made me feel like a surgeon who walks out of the operating room with a sliced-open body still on the table – he returns to it the next morning to carry on from where he left off.

It was while writing my book that I finally heard what Eliud Kipchoge had been sent to tell me. He had said, "You are destined for greatness, Bett. You are destined to live a phenomenal great life." He told me this plus something hilarious in Kalenjin, ha-ha, I will tell you when I see you next.

We all have greatness in us, I believe. God placed it as He was writing your DNA. Some people go to their graves with their greatness intact and untapped. God frowns when He sees this – it’s not the purpose He placed you on earth for.

Most people imagine greatness to be a public spectacle that reeks of gaudiness and vanity. They imagine it to be a giant dummy cheque presented in front of blinding camera lights. Or addressing a crowd next to the cancer ward you built and donated, three microphones in your hands. Entertaining a full– house stadium like Sauti Sol. Or growing a cult-like following on Instagram.

Such gaudiness may appeal to some people but not to me. The greatness in me is subtle, camouflaged. I am not the puppet putting on the show. I am behind the scenes, I orchestrate it all from the shadows. I pull the puppet strings.

Rediscovering my purpose

My greatness is the type where, when I die, someone will say, "You mean all this was Bett?!" And they will respond, "Yep!" Pause. Reflective sigh. Cheeky small smile. "It was all her."

I rediscovered my purpose to greatness while writing my book. The book is titled ‘Should I?’ It’s about personal finance and money, for the working class in their 20s and 30s. Young and hungry folk like me.

I had started writing it last year, in February, but I trashed it when I was a quarter way in. Many reasons. First, I was pregnant with our son, so my creative mind was useless, I felt like it was stuffed with cotton balls.

Then Covid-19 had just landed at our airport and turned life upside down. I also didn’t like how the book was shaping up. It was bland, prescriptive. Had a so-what cadence to it. It read like a CBC textbook on business education.

I knew that at some point I had to finish what I had started. So while I was knee-deep in breastfeeding and sterilising bottles and waking in the middle of the night to soothe the baby, my subconscious mind was busy refining alternative ideas for me. Once I was good and ready, the words spilled out to the page in the same way Eliud cracked that challenge. 

We launch the book on Tuesday, December 14, 2021, Inshallah. I ask that you be there with me as I cross the finish line.

‘Should I?’ will be available in all major bookshops countrywide. You can also email the writer, to get an autographed copy

@_craftit; [email protected]

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