Thursday, 27 April 2017

Big up a friend.

This morning I crossed paths with a friend doing the school run as I do almost every day. After we were done we continued to chat as we headed in the general directions of our homes we were deep in conversation so we decided to take the long way home and eventually ended up in a cafĂ© because I really needed an ear. First of all I just want to say thank you to Preye (check out her amazing talent  on instagram @cakesbypreye) for being such an amazing friend and woman, she doesn’t get much time to herself but what she does have she was willing to spend listening to me and my ramblings. Secondly, not only does she listen but she tells me the truth of what she is hearing from me and she reminds me that I ought to start practising what I preach. I think so much about what I should be doing and I plan what I want to do so much that I convince myself that I am actually doing these things but I am clearly not. 

It’s easy for us to believe that we are the only ones ‘going through it,’ sharing helps because you have the benefit of gaining a different perspective and maybe even realising that its really not a problem it’s just life. No one has answers to everything you just have to work things out as you go along, but we must choose to be happy as we journey along. One great outcome of our conversation was realising how much we as individuals and a collective have to offer in providing the community and experiences that we want for our kids, which has perhaps birthed a new project for us that fills me with excitement, hope and nerves, all of which are signs that I am alive and therefore winning. With the only certainty in life being death we really should reach for the stars and welcome new experiences people and opportunities.

Focussing on what you don’t want or what is not going so well will only bring you more of that thing. I have never thought of myself as a 9 – 5 worker as I am just not the conventional office type but because that was all I ever thought about as regards work, so that is all I had ever done. Now that I am accepting who and where I am, I am beginning to create opportunities for myself that allow me to work more creatively and flexibly, Preye inspires me in this as she stepped out in her truth with faith and natural talent to create a business for herself that is flexible and brings happiness to herself and others.

 Focus on who you are to become who you are meant to be. 

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Make time to make time.

Getting my priorities right has always been hit or miss. I have never been very big on order and for a long time this worked for me, I managed to get things done and convinced myself that I was better at doing things last minute as this somehow produced the best results for me. I was operating from a place of limited knowledge as I had never given planning and its associated benefits such as having extra time left to perfect projects a chance. As responsibilities in life increase so too does the need to organise, staying on top of bills, work, assignments, keeping relationships going and looking right all require planning. The most important resource, time, being unreplenishable is the most precious resource of them all so use it thoughtfully.

When my first child was born, I was so stuck on getting everything right for him and being his only source of everything which led to my chaotic world becoming even more chaotic.  I had a team of helpers that were for a while redundant because of my stubbornness. One afternoon as I wandered into the living room still in my pyjamas, hungry, exhausted and on the verge of tears, my mother offered me breakfast, but I declined as baby comes first and I was sure he needed another feed. My darling sweet as pie mother replied, ‘how are you going to feed the child when you are dead?’ Extreme but fair. Normally this would have sparked an argument but I could only muster a shadow of a smile, defeated chuckle and accept the food. As I ate the baby lay happily in grandma’s arms, the two of them were so lost in their bonding session that I was able to sneak away get clean and put myself together, and learn the lesson that prioritising my basic needs was necessary for me to be there for the little person I had brought into this world. In taking care of me I was also allowing someone else to help and develop a relationship, bonus and I woke up to the fact that mum was not going to be around forever so something needed to change.

Bringing a child up away from extended family is tough, being from an African family where normally the village that is needed to raise the child is readily available, be they hired or not, adopting a routine for mother and child did not come naturally but it came because it had to. When prioritising it may be necessary to delegate and assign tasks to others where possible and that is ok it does not take anything away from you. Sometimes we want to do everything to prove how strong or capable we are, there is strength in admitting weaknesses and the need for support. I appreciate that there are circumstances in which we are truly alone in this regard I would say do what’s most important first but remember what’s most important may not be what you think is most urgent. Identifying what is important to us and acknowledging that matters of importance are as unique as we are starts with considering your values and beliefs. Rather than being constraining mapping or planning (and writing it out) our life’s and goals frees not only mentally but it creates more time and space for other things too.  Once you have a plan commit to it, but make changes as needed no process starts off perfect. Committing to a process brings with it focus and improved quality when you know you have a limited amount of time to do something you make the best of it.


A perfectly timed one-liner from someone who cared changed an aspect of my life for the better, imagine what a quick call to check in and let someone know you care can do for their life, all it takes is making the time. 

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Chinese Whispers.


 “If your lips would keep from slips,
Five things observe with care;
To whom you speak, of whom you speak
And how, and when, and where.” William Edward Norris

The game Chinese Whispers teaches us an important lesson. For anyone who has not had the pleasure of playing this game: a group of people stands in a line or circle, the first person whispers a message into the second’s ear and so on to the last person who then delivers the message aloud to the group. 99.999% of the time the message that comes back is totally different to the original one, a perfect example of the waste of time gossip is and to illustrate the purpose of seeking truth in everything. I used to be a fan of gossip, I’ll hold my hands up, I’m not proud of it, I never gave it much thought I don’t think any of us really do we just get caught up in it. What we can do is choose whether we are going to pass on this information and to whom and to what end or stop the fake news in its tracks. My personal view is if we are not bothered enough to seek the truth then really what we heard need go no further and we must question why we are filling our time and minds with such useless information when we could be getting on with more important tasks like minding our own business and fixing our lives. That said I’ve realised I play Chinese whispers with myself and that can be the most damaging gossip we can ever hear.

We hear what we want to hear and this is normally dictated by what we are feeling, suppressing, or fear. Many moons ago a helpful person told me that it was so much fun to hang out with me because “you are so much fun when you’ve had a few.” …I heard, “the only time you are worth being around is when you are in party mode.” Not wanting to be out of favour I obliged and partied hard even when I didn’t really want to and even long after I lost touch with her. I don’t blame her one bit for my partying habits, she couldn’t have known what was going on in my insecure mind but that stayed with me for years even after the parties were over because in my mind I just was not interesting enough. Taking care of ourselves includes auditing and processing messages we receive, thoughtfully. But be careful not to overthink, just listen to what you are saying to yourself and turn on your truth-o-meter. As we hear what we WANT, changing what we want can also have an immediate effect on what we hear. With my truth-o-meter in check, I came to know that the truth about fun is that it is safe, non-toxic, and free and sure enough out clubbing one night a more helpful person said to me, “I’m so jealous, to dance and have fun like that I need at least three drinks!” Transcendence achieved and still being perfected, it was a long process with relapses but I see those for what they were, lessons pushing me towards what truth told me I not only wanted but needed as well.

While we can’t take responsibility for the way messages we send out are received by others we have a duty of care to humanity to watch what we say about and to others. We talk about people we know little to nothing about to make us feel better about ourselves, to detract from our own shambolic lives and maybe to feel like we are part of a group. Often the more negative and inaccurate the messages we pass on about and to others the more mess we are refusing to deal with. You fix nothing, least of all yourself, by being so concerned about another person’s life, while you’re so busy talking about them they are probably busy getting things done achieving goals and living life in the meantime your dirty laundry bin runneth over. As a parent and former child, I have experienced the power of words in their ability to empower, deflate, encourage, influence, and confuse. Kids can bounce back and move on from many things but there comes a time when words stick. If they repeatedly hear ugly words they will have ugly thoughts about themselves and the world and may carry this through to adulthood. I endeavour to build my kids up with the appropriate truth and words so that they have strong foundations, it’s a tricky game this thing called life but if we simply learn our lessons and enact the good we’re one step closer to a life less misunderstood.


Speak life and truth to all you encounter, beginning with you.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

The one I was waiting for was me.

For as long as I can remember I have been looking for someone to make things right for me. To open doors, hold my hand, tell me I was loved, tell me what to do and how to be fulfilled. Life provided some people to fulfil what I thought I wanted, I can attest to the fact that you do find what it is you are looking for, but I never felt quite complete and would keep searching without adapting my search technique. I was truly the mad woman who did the same thing expecting different outcomes, as I look back on my life I see repeat behaviours and experiences that sometimes brought me back to full circle, knocked me back but thankfully not out. Life has been kind enough to allow me my mistakes, and there have been many, until I learned (I continue to learn) the lessons I need to be my best self. When you look to someone else to complete you what we normally don’t consider is that they too are looking for something, while you are looking for someone to take care of you and protect you from the world they may be looking for someone to control or my need protecting as well.  As I am the only one who knows what I really need to feel complete it follows that I should complete me and anyone else coming to the table is to add value, a different dynamic and for expansion purposes.

Comfort zones are very comfortable. My comfort zone was created to protect me from potential disappointment which has its roots in comparison, my go to reasoning is I will never be as talented/rich/slim as whoever so why even try. Instead of comparing myself to people it has been more helpful to understand that everyone has their own journey and talents, by appreciating traits and habits of people we admire we can change our lives. In a comfort zone, you know what to expect and know what you need to do to stay safe but I believe we are designed to want more out of life and at some point, we always want more or something different be it from work or play.  Fighting to stay in a comfort zone can become so uncomfortable we are forced out, we can be bolder and kinder to ourselves and not fight just step out into perceived danger zones which are thrilling and teach us much more keeping us growing. Comfort zones are identifiers of the limiting beliefs we hold about ourselves, mine was chaotic and dramatic, I believed that was just who I was and I didn’t deserve any peace and even in seeking peace by withdrawing, drama followed because I held on to the limiting belief of myself as chaotic. The minute I allowed myself to live drama free by changing my perspective and becoming more organised and purposeful things became calmer, simpler, and more focused.

I used to think wanting more and not being satisfied with what I had made me an ungrateful and covetous green-eyed monster.  Not wanting to be a monster I remained in a comfort zone with an unhealthy relationship with a lot of things in my life most significantly people, money, and myself this did not, however, stop me from wanting more and hating myself for not being able to lay my hands on more although I never gave much thought to what exactly what I wanted.  Understanding that in order to enjoy life more we have to be satisfied with and thankful for what we have did not come easily and it began with being accepting of the fact that I not only wanted more out of life but was deserving of more, I had to give thought to what it is I want out of life and why. I am grateful for all the people in my life and I am no longer in silent competition with anyone, the only person I compete with is me. I am being more open and honest in my relationship with money which I now see as an abundantly accessible tool for good.

Life is much more fun when you show up to your own party and are the best dance partner for you. When you are ready allow others to dance along with you.



Thursday, 30 March 2017

Breathe … It’s life.

Pausing for a minute, an hour, a week or even a year is something we do less and less in this microwave one-click culture we have created. We want everything now and are led to believe if we don’t have it or can’t get it now we are somehow inferior or less deserving of success and all the good stuff. I know time waits for no man and truly these days you blink and there’s a new iPhone out but we can get so busy trying to keep up we lose focus of what really matters to us and makes a difference to the way we experience life. On the flipside, there is the rebirth of the Nokia 3310 symbolising a return to slowing down and simplifying of life to me. I remember a time when there were no mobile phones and therefore we were uncontactable for the majority of the day sometimes even days if we were relying on the post. Life didn’t stop, there was no FOMO, you simply were where you were and got to hear great stories about events you were unable to attend.

I used to love receiving and writing letters the waiting gave me something to look forward to and the writing helped me process events whilst practising an actual skill. Now the only letters I receive are bills and emails are nothing to look forward to. With all the advances in technology and communication devices we are losing some basic language skills like spelling and talking, I know I used an acronym before, I too am occasionally a culprit. Messaging or IM or whatever the kids are calling it has killed conversation, I would love to sit down and have long phone or one on one conversations with people but there is just not enough time in the day, what it is I am busy doing I could not tell you. There is so much pointless distraction out here.

Browsing through magazines in a shop the other day I read an article warning about the danger of rapid weight loss and fad diets and how they speed up the ageing process. As a “passive diet addict” (I plan diets that I will attempt sometime in the future to unleash my inner size 8 who has never and possibly never will be seen) this was reason enough for me to journey towards getting happy with myself as I am and focus on health and increased enjoyable physical activity. The magazine had pictures of celebrities who have achieved and some over-achieved their weight loss goals and added years to their looks in the process. I am not a medical professional but to me that signifies that something isn’t quite right. Slow and steady wins the race, I want to stay looking as young as I can for as long as possible, although my grey hairs are telling on me lately.

I sometimes catch myself holding my breath and need to remind myself to breathe. It’s normally when I am over thinking, worrying, stressed or anxious about something. The fact that I am thinking so much that I am cutting off the one thing I cannot live without tells me that I need to pause and simply just breathe.  What good does thinking or worrying actually do? As someone who suffers from anxiety, I can tell you it does no good at all, this does not mean that knowing this I don’t worry it just means I acknowledge my worries and move forward the best I can asking for help if needed.


We have a lot to gain from slowing down. Call someone or invite them over for a drink. Tell a story,  breathe.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Nature is a great educator.

Nature throws out lessons for free we just need to turn up to a class and appreciate it. I was looking at a plant I have on my windowsill and apologising to it (yes out loud) as I sometimes forget to water it, yet still it grows. So much so that it has outgrown its pot, some of its leaves have browned but for the most part it is flourishing and still a beautiful deep green, it is much fuller and does not look as manicured as it did when I first bought it. An option could be pruning it to keep it looking good in its little red pot, which I bought specifically for it but imagine how much bigger it could grow if I changed the pot and I took better care of it, keeping it in a small pot could also on the flipside be stunting its growth and killing it. There is no wrong option, it's more about intention. To make sure we choose the right option there needs to be a plan and clear alignment to intention. If there is no intention or goal, we are fighting a losing battle.

As we grow in life we outgrow situations and relationships. We can outgrow a job but stay there because we are afraid of the unknown or lack the confidence to step up. This is something that I have suffered, the job/career market can be a battlefield from applications/interviews to office politics. If we arm ourselves with knowledge, skills, courage and an army of mentors and encouragers it can and should be a supportive environment that helps us grow to give and be our best whatever our interests and skills. For a while, I was the Queen of leaving jobs because I thought I had outgrown them but what I didn’t have much of was a plan for how to get what I want and I had stopped believing that I could secure my dream career and even lost touch with what that was. I let life do the choosing which has left me right back where I started more than once, life has a way of bringing you back to square one as many times as you need to learn a lesson (as I write this I am having a revelation – mind excitedly blown).

I have a habit of going back to what is safe and familiar but in so doing I have been playing it small. My branches were growing wild, roots stunted and within no time I was banging my head against the proverbial wall and handing in resignations with no plan for how not to find myself here again. What I know would be more helpful is creating a supportive environment keeping the goal in mind and looking for opportunities to deepen my knowledge, expand my horizons, network and find mentors and encouragers or five to guide and cheer me on. Recognising your opportunities, mentors and guides is whole other post, they are easily missed and mistaken. The pruning I need is in the limiting beliefs I hold about my capabilities, mistrust of the “system”, and engaging in activities that do nothing to help me reach my goal.

I received an inspirational message from a friend this week that exemplifies the depth of lessons from nature. It was about the eagle and its potential to live 70 years, but it can only do this if it makes the bold life or death decision at 40 to undergo a gruelling 150-day process of transformation that involves it going through the pain of plucking out its beak feathers and talons and then wait for new ones to grow back. Change is scary and hard but necessary, imagine the joy when the hard work is done, picture the eagle soaring through the sky with his rejuvenated set of wings. That could be us if we just made the bold choice to do away with that which no longer serves us.

Today I pay respect to the trees that against all odds expand their network of roots beneath the concrete, in this hostile jungle us humans have created and stands majestically enabling us to breathe.

Get out there, breath, listen and learn.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

I’m a chameleon.

Where are you from? This is one of few questions that make me pause and conduct a quick assessment of the person asking to ascertain the best answer. While it shouldn’t matter where a person is from its evokes so many emotions in me it’s hard to describe, yet I constantly find myself asking the same question to try and figure a person out. Double standards are real and I would argue almost impossible to avoid, in certain situations.

I was born in Zambia but from a few months old I have moved countries, towns, schools, and jobs. Along the way, I have picked up different habits, personalities, accents, prejudices, and experiences. Apart from the one distinctive thing I cannot (and have never wanted to) change, my skin colour, I got so good at blending in people believed I was “one of them,” sadly when some found out I wasn’t I was treated differently. My blending in was something I did because I did not want to be different, thinking that my differences may make me somehow inferior or irrelevant, later in life I realised how wonderful it is to be different. Being different though does not mean that I don’t adapt according to the situation, my mum always tells me how amused she is that when I talk to her I am not quite as British-sounding as when I am talking to my siblings and some friends, she should hear me in a work situation or an interview! Variety and fluidity of identity and proud ownership of our differences give us the permission to just be. The minute you stop fighting the cards that you have been dealt in life and play with them amazing things happen.

I don’t speak my mother tongue fluently, not being brought up around extended family or other speakers made it difficult to learn. I could take the easy route and blame my parents for my inability to pick up the language but at this stage of my life I know better, it has been up to me for a long time to learn. Thankfully, my kids went to school in Zambia for a year where it has now become compulsory to study Chinyanja, their homework even used to challenge grandpa and grandma, but they enjoyed sharing with them and they can at least now exchange pleasantries in the language. Due to my chameleon ways, I do understand a few languages which is a bonus and I love sitting in a room with people who assume I don’t understand what they are talking about. The fact that I can’t pass my language on to my kids makes me sad and I encourage my husband to teach them his, Yoruba, and even tried to learn myself but have you ever tried to learn Yoruba from a book?? It’s not easy o. But knowing the discomfort it has caused me in my life I know I must try my best to help them learn the language. Learning a language gives you a better appreciation of the culture and yourself if you happen to come from that culture, everyone has something to gain from learning about different cultures. One thing missing in the world today is an understanding of differences, our differences unite us so it would do us good to expand our knowledge and stamp out hateful ignorance. There are some things that you can’t understand the true meaning of unless you speak the language such as the Yoruba proverbs my husband uses to encourage, reprimand or caution that leave me and the kids looking at each other like “Is he Ok?” 

A chameleon, whilst being unique in its ability to adapt will always be a chameleon, it may change its outward appearance but inside remains the same. As you grow you stop caring so much about why you are the way you are and just allow it to be if it’s not hurting anyone if it is trust that you have the power and wisdom to change it.


Be bold, be beautiful, be you. 

Friday, 10 March 2017

Dance like no one is watching.

Dance like no one is watching…
But beware, someone always is.

Life is full of idiosyncrasies. We are told to dance/live like no one is watching but someone almost always is especially in this big brother age not to mention the big guy in the sky.

Walking down the street one day I lost myself to the music, which is not very unusual for me as music makes me lose control, always has and hopefully always will. I was so lost in the music I didn’t realise the dancing that was going on was not in my head until I heard cars honking and looked up to the of eyes of a bewildered driver who was enjoying the show, much to the annoyance of other drivers who had places to be. For a second I thought to myself I must contain this dancing beast, but to contain it just wouldn’t feel natural. Doing things that come naturally (and from a good place) keeps us alive and helps us attract more of the things we want from life and unfortunately or maybe fortunately sometimes things that we don’t desire or think of. I never thought my dancing could bring joy and cause road rage.

I am by nature an open trusting oversharer, in this case doing what came naturally has left me open, vulnerable and hurt but has also led to some of the most loving caring and fulfilling experiences of my life. Knowing how much to share and with whom is so important. When I came to the realisation that I judge other people and their actions it made me begin to assess myself and feel the need to control my own actions.  When I was not so wise I attempted to fit in and do what others were doing to gain acceptance even going against what felt right and healthy for me, when this got exhausting and I had lost touch with who I truly was I became paranoid and borderline recluse and I stopped dancing!! But it was a situation that I needed for my own personal growth and healing, most importantly it brought me closer to God who I now share everything with. Having a deep connection to a higher power gives you the freedom to be you and flourish while you do. Now that I am wiser I live my life for me by rules and standards that God has placed in my heart this has also brought amazing people into my life who I comfortable to be confident and insecure around and I dance everywhere - mind, body, and soul.

Big brother and little sister are watching you too. A couple of days ago, there was a story in the news about how our TVs could be spying on us. This didn’t surprise me, it simply served as a reminder that we are constantly being policed so we must be mindful of what we are putting out there and opening ourselves up to, people have lost jobs and acquired them posting things on social media. I hate the way Google and Facebook customize ads and friend suggestions based on previous searches, can’t I just cyberstalk in peace? While the Internet, technology and social media are wonderful tools for information, marketing, and communication we need to be aware of the darker side of them. Cyberbullying and grooming are just the tip of the iceberg of issues us 21st century parents have to contend with. This brings me to the little brothers and sisters who are watching us. We have a duty to live our lives in a way that sets an example for those coming up behind us. I don’t ascribe to the do as I do not as I say school of thought, actions speak louder than words. Our kids are watching us, constantly! They see us glued to our screens and naturally gravitate towards that. It doesn’t take much to engage kids, I have impromptu kitchen and living room discos with mine where we dance like no one is watching. Sometimes life gets in the way and I forget to dance but they remind me and demand we dance, the joy I get from knowing I have passed on something good is indescribable.


I encourage you to find your rhythm and dance with those and that which you love.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Love does not come in a box.

As many different kinds of people there are on this planet there are different kinds of love and it’s not for any of us to judge how, why, when or what anyone decides to love.  Love is a funny thing. We all know what it feels like to be loved, we know that we want it and we want to give it. I refuse to believe that no one wants it. The problem though begins when we begin to standardise love, boxing it up and making it look all pretty. Love is complex.

After a long day at work, I got home to find my boyfriend sitting at his desk, we said our hellos and I turned around to leave the room when he stopped me saying there was something for me on the desk. I looked to where he was pointing with a pen. There was a ring box, I walked over with not a lot going on in my mind opened the box and in it was a ring.
“What’s this?” I asked.
“What do you want it to be?”
“Well, it could be a friendship ring, eternity ring or engagement ring, which is it?” He finally turns around and says “Do you want it or not? I want to marry you. I have been telling you this since we first met. You decide.”
“Ok, let’s get married then. But you know I’m a complicated mess, right?”
“Yep.”

Not quite the romantic movie proposal I had envisioned but it worked for me and to this day makes me smile inside. I do forget that sometimes and occasionally lodge a request for a do-over, which I am yet to receive. The words used may not be the exact ones but knowing us it’s probably about right and it brings me to my first point on love as I have experienced it. Love should not keep a record. I am guilty of keeping record of wrong doings and bringing them up in an argument or as a justification for my own wrongdoing. As I continue to grow I realise how foolish this is, it creates a vicious hurtful cycle and by doing this I am not taking ownership of my choices. I choose to leave childish ways behind.

One of my favourite misconceptions about love is that it doesn’t hurt… love hurts bad! (I’m not talking about physical pain unless consensual variations of 50 shades are your thing). Love hurts because it changes us, it takes us out of our comfort zone. I hate confrontation and would rather not see or speak to a person again than address issues. As a mum, more than anything I have had to unleash my inner lioness and fight for what’s right, with my words and actions. Taking responsibility for my life and circumstances to love myself more has meant facing some home truths which can be the most painful thing but also highly rewarding in propelling me to a better version of myself.

Another misunderstanding about love that I am fixing… love doesn’t pay the rent, no it doesn’t but it should work together to figure out how it does get paid. This could mean finding someone who is willing and able to pay all the bills which may or may not also include love and respect for each other and what each person brings to the table. It may mean bringing income and resources together to make it work with love and respect. Bills and money have an enormous effect on most couples’ lives, finding something that works for your situation, bearing in mind values and beliefs is essential.

The only person who can love you unconditionally and constantly is God and maybe your mother and I say that with all the love in this world. We all have our limits and saying no to love is the most loving thing you can do sometimes. I am a self-named hippy child who wants to love everyone every day, I used to think this meant living in people’s pockets, you can’t be with all your friends and relatives all the time it’s a physical impossibility also mentally and emotionally taxing.


Love, much like life, is what you make it and what you need it to be. Love is living, being you and sharing that. Give love freely but be selfish with it. The beauty is in the complexity that you cannot put in a box.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

The importance of being present.

My father used to give us talks at the beginning of each school term that were intended to be inspirational and motivational, and they were in hindsight. He always stressed the importance of doing well at school and the fact that the only inheritance he had for us was the education he was paying for. I wish I had listened more but as they say, youth is wasted on the young. One thing that struck a chord was him saying wherever you are, be there. I’d be lying if I were to say it was such a deep revolutionary moment for me, the phrase lay deep in my conscience for a long time, it would pop up every now and then and I would think, what was he on? of course I am where I am. I am only just now realising the meaning of what he said.

Displayed on the wall of the reception area of my son’s school are statistics on attendance of each school year and the corresponding levels of attainment, the fewer the absences recorded the higher the level of achievement. From registration/roll call at school to clocking on at work, being present dictates levels of attainment and reward. This system of accountability and consequence ensures we turn up but most of us are not really present even when we do. When attendance is not mandatory or there is no obvious system of accountability the importance of presence tends to fall to the wayside, yet often this is the presence that counts most.

To fully benefit from presence, we need to make sure not only our body turns up but our minds and souls too. I can think of thousands of occasions of where I have been physically present but mind and soul were miles away. For years, I have attributed my low to average performance and absentmindedness to disinterest, depression, fatigue, mum-brain and much more, these are all valid reasons but at some point, it stopped being enough for me and I needed to sort it out because it was becoming overwhelming and frankly quite disconcerting.

I have driven to work forgetting to drop my baby off at daycare, I have put one of my children’s reading books into my handbag as I lectured them on how disorganised they are.  After my tirade, my poor little one gently replied “Yes, mum. Can I have my book now.” I recognised the look and tone of voice as I have used them often when my own parents have been “advising” me. I had recorded my attendance, “Yes mum/dad” but not my presence, evidenced by eye rolling and repeat offending. In both instances, I was so busy thinking about things that had to be done, things that had happened and what might happen in the future. Not only have I caused chaos and confusion in my own life but I have missed amazing moments in life because I was too busy being somewhere else in my mind and soul.

How much of life is passing you by because you are thinking about something else or doing something at the wrong time? TV is what I use to distract myself from addressing things. Distraction only serves to put things on hold and while they are on hold life goes on and piles on more. I have spent hours watching TV hitting the rewind button frequently because I have totally blanked out or been otherwise distracted. A more useful button is the stop button, even better power off and deal. Not saying there is no place for TV in my life. When I am ready to watch it I want to be fully present so I don’t feel I need to binge to make up.


Life doesn’t have a pause or rewind button, we may get the chance to do the occasional catch-up or do over but we miss the beauty in the moment. 

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Because I can.


“Because I can,” was the eloquent answer I gave to my son when he found me doing a headstand in the living room one afternoon. He accepted the answer no further questions and joined in, only he went one better and did a handstand and other show off kid contortionist moves. Being the people pleaser that I was I would often want to explain my actions which left me open to further questioning from other people and myself. Perhaps it’s my age, maturity and/or experience that has reunited me with a phrase that I have no doubt helped me navigate childhood. Those three simple powerful words with butterfly effects that have the potential to influence, inspire and affirm leave little room for questioning which allows me to just be.

I discovered a talent for telling stories in high school, most of my friends were mainly reading Sweet Valley High, Sweet Dreams, and Mills & Boon books, which I found so predictable (I was a Nancy Drew reader, not predictable at all, lol) and after butting in on a conversation about the oh so complex love lives of the characters in one of these novels I stated that I could write a better story. I had to come through, and I did. Armed with no more than a biro and an imagination I would spend any spare moment I had writing stories in exercise books and produced little novellas regularly, complete with book cover artwork and blurb on the back. I didn’t look for a course, seek guidance from anyone or doubt that I could do it.

At some point, I stopped sharing my stories and I don’t remember specifically why or when but I’m sure it had something to do with “growing up” and acting out a few mini dramas in real life.  I transitioned to journaling and keeping things to myself because life proved to be stranger than fiction and there was no way I was about to share that with the world. I can’t help but wonder however what may have happened if I had followed my passion and continued writing stories to share, maybe I would have written that bestseller and be a millionaire but I may have forfeited the amazing journey that has been my life. I love my journals they were and are my counsellor, confidant, and friend they are funny, thought-provoking and revealing. They represent the part of me that is trying to figure things out and I was still using a natural gift (bonus). The more insular I became the less I believed I in my creative writing skill and it lay dormant for years but now the beast has woken and I am ready to share again and all I need is my laptop and mind. The tools may be different and more refined but the agents of creativity and action remain the same.

Often, we focus on what we can’t do instead of doing what we can. I say doing what we can do, not thinking about what we can do, to create we must do. One great thing about creativity in action is that it produces results. If they are the results we desire, great, if not, great, either way, learn from the experience and do better, whether that means moving in a different direction or improving process to achieve excellence. Another great thing is that creativity comes in all shapes and sizes and we all have within us a unique set of gifts that have the potential to change lives.


As I inspired my child to shine even brighter (upside down!) than I ever could, so could you inspire someone else. A chain reaction of inspiration and creativity is something our world could benefit from right now.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Google Map your life.


Goals are for reaching, then perfecting and exceeding.

You need to know where you are going in order to get there, this is the purpose of goal setting. It is useful to be aware of where you are coming from, but do not dwell on this too much as you may fall. If you are not trying to get somewhere… are you a tree? If you are you still need to grow, reach and blossom.

I was never much of a planner; I knew where I wanted to get to but did not pay much attention to the how and why. From my self-imposed misdirection, I now know that you must hold on to the why to access the how in order to keep the what within reach. I would often take my eye off the prize, forgetting that I was on a mission and then get frustrated when I find myself dizzy from walking around in circles. Google maps (GM) illustrates a very important lesson to me. It gets you where you need to go, with options. It lets you know how long it will take you to get there via different modes of transport and even the cost. Installed in every one of us lies a route planner awaiting instruction.

Before you set off on any journey you need to know your goal- where you are going. Knowing your destination, you need to figure out why you need to go there, realising that my failure to identify this as a significant factor in maintaining motivation has made my goals more achievable. I once did a couch to 5K which was difficult but I completed the programme and then went back to the couch. In the process of achieving my goal, I let my original why - to get fit for my health and to keep up with the kids. During the programme doubt, fear and mundanity took over, I had positive results in terms of fitness but the negative voice was louder and my goal changed to just finish the programme. I was happy that I had finished the programme and still count it as an achievement but as I skipped the perfection and exceeding stage I found myself back where I started. On the bright side now I’ve done it I know I can do it again.

You need to be aware of your location, how you got there does not matter so much - although it may determine how fast you need to move. In terms of my running, I was honest with myself and began my journey back to fitness with baby steps. Had I dwelt on how I had let myself go I probably never would have started.

While the general direction you must take may be apparent the real journey begins as you take the first step but you must remain focused and present to enjoy it, learn and grow as you go along. Guidance comes as you decide to move towards your goal, detours will appear but they are just that, detours. There is always a way back.


Activate your inner route planner and reach those goals, be honest about why you need to achieve them, when you do perfect them then surprise yourself and exceed them.

Make you excellent again!

PS: I am not an artist, I'm just making the best of what I've got.



Thursday, 2 February 2017

Breaking up.



A Lulu Sanusi original …. Spoken word mixtape dropping soon.


I am breaking up with sugar
Because it makes me sad
At first it brings me so much joy
Then knocks me out with pain
It doesn’t know my name.
Since we became an item my body and mind
They’ve changed
This dependency, it’s killing me
I know I am to blame
I’ve been cheating on my size 8 frame
The truth is out, hooray I shout
I set me free
I create my destiny.

**Finger snaps**


I found this poem in a journal of mine. It made me LOL, then question my sanity, then appreciate the deepness and realise this can be applied to all types of relationships.

How much thought do we give to the relationships we decide to enter whether they be with other people, food, drink or material things. I personally don’t give it too much thought (or at least that’s what I thought until I started thinking about it) I’m a dive in and deal with the consequences as they come type of person. It has meant that I have had a lot of fixing to do, Olivia Pope would be so proud, I have often found myself in very awkward situations some very funny others not at all funny, because of relationships I should not be in or I should have amended.

It’s normally only when something goes wrong that I begin to question why I even know a person or needed to have that cup of coffee with sugar and a chocolate or muffin.  In trying to figure out the relationship game, life has taught me honesty is the best policy and it's mainly honesty with myself. When you enter any relationship it’s for a reason. You need to pay bills, you get a job or someone who can pay them for you. You feel lonely, you start talking to that person you walk past every day or you buy that chocolate fudge cake.  Know why you are going into a relationship, take responsibility for it and when things no longer feel right remove yourself or redefine it. I have stayed in relationships just so I don’t hurt others feelings but I was hurting me by not being authentic, now that I realise my worth I know it is much kinder to let things and people go graciously.

Human beings are funny things. We know what and who is not good for us but we keep holding on, hoping something or someone will change. As Maya Angelou, one of my personal sheroes said, “When someone shows you who they are believe them; the first time.” The only thing we have control over is ourselves, how we act, react, show up and present ourselves. Self-mastery is what we are aiming for here people, and if you are not, what are you doing here? Seriously.

I am addicted to sugar and have been for a while. My relationship with sugar is that of a child to their comforter. It is my go to. I must either work on redefining my relationship or cut all ties, neither option will be easy. Sugar is everywhere… milk, bread, granola, wine, fruit juice … basically everything nice. A complete breakup is hard, but not breaking up may be harder especially as it affects my mental, emotional, and physical health. To redefine this relationship, I will take a break from “hardcore” sugar and seek comfort in human beings, I heard being social animals this can work for us, I shall choose wisely. Sometime in the future, sugar and I will be able to have a conversation maybe even laugh about old times but I know we can never go back to how it used to be because we will have moved on. I will let you know how this is going.

Be good to you, that is the most important relationship you have, it sets the tone for all other relationships in your life.

If you need advice or a human being in your life please feel free to mail me smilelifemgt@gmail.com



Thursday, 26 January 2017

Own YOUR labels...

... and love them.

No, I’m not talking D&G, Gucci, Louboutin, or George J that is perhaps a topic for another day. For the purposes of this post I’m talking about the labels we attach to ourselves, the words that define who we are, how we want to be known and why.

Many people put a great deal of thought into the names they give their children, others… not so much, I can think of many names that have had me widen my eyes and think well alright then, but hey if it works for them it works if not there is always deed poll. But I digress… Where I’m from the name given to a child can be based on various combinations of the following and more: the area and/or tribe they are from, the time of year they were born, circumstances surrounding their birth, their position in the family, the hopes and dreams parents have for their child or they may be named after a relative. People become their names and more importantly their labels.

My eldest son is named Jamal which is an Arabic name meaning beauty, he is a beautiful person inside and out. He KNOWS his name as a teacher of his found out when she insisted on calling him “Je-rh-mil” and after he attempted to correct her got sent out of class. When discussing the issue my child simply said “it’s just that is not my name.” I had to agree with him. Why would you let someone call you something you are not? I had a similar situation with my second child Talal (Arabic name meaning gift, and he is!) who in a discussion stated that he would no longer be accepting people calling him black because he is clearly brown. Both instances got me thinking about the importance of defining yourself, if you don’t know who you are how can you let other people know.

When I was a child I knew who I was. My name is Lumuni, meaning bright light, affectionately known as Lulu. I loved my name it is unique, I was unique, I could do anything because of my uniqueness I was happy, light and ready to conquer the world. But then people began to remix my name, I got called Lemontree, the moonie and more. At first I would correct people then I gave in and denounced the name telling everyone to just call me Lulu. This coupled with a few negative life experiences separated me from who I truly am. I let other people tell me who I was and learned to adapt myself to make sure other people were comfortable with me which got really uncomfortable for me. Thankfully, I have learned to do the work to find my way back. It’s not been easy and I am nowhere near done, self-improvement is a continuous process it keeps us alive. I can only change myself, I have had to listen to what I am saying to myself, change the script to support loving me which has changed the way I act, interact, and experience life for the better.

Labels I choose to attach to myself today are caring, loving, talented, Queen of my dance-floor. I have fun with my labels. I am still affectionately known as Lulu, I love being Lumuni and anyone who wishes to call me that must do so correctly, remixes kindly check yourself at the door.


Get back to being you. Listen to the names you are teaching the world to know you by. Change labels you don’t like keep ones you do. Be fabulous. Be you, because no one does you better. 

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Smile

Smile.

It is free.

The benefits of smiling are endless. Ask Google, better still, try it yourself. Even fake smiling is beneficial, personally sometimes when I am feeling a bit glum or someone is trying to tell me something I have no business receiving I just begin to smile and I am transported to the magical and often elusive land of joy.

Smiling on the outside is easy, smiling on the inside can be a bit trickier and we could all do with a little help finding our inner smiles. An inside smile is anything that lets you know and feel that everything is ok. It gives you joy, makes you feel love, happiness, giddiness and reminds you what we all really know - all things good come from within. By sharing some of my life with anyone who reads this I hope to make you smile or at the very least encourage you to discover what makes you smile.

Have you ever played a game that only you know you are playing? I do… frequently. Sad? Perhaps, but it brings me so much joy. Testing life theories and laws of attraction gives me life! Walking down the street I just smile at passers-by and am always amazed and invigorated by the number of smiles that I get back and even the occasional “Hello, how are you,” shock, horror.  It’s the law of attraction at its best… let the world know what you want, act, believe and it shall be yours.

I had my kids play a game with me on the school run a few days ago. Before we left the house, I announced that I wanted to see red cars not just any red but a deep (flowerpot from my windowsill) red. Less than five minutes into our walk we saw four cars the exact colour I requested, in close succession. I’ll admit I was not really expecting it to happen for me so soon but when it did it filled me with a joy that I have not felt in a while and even the boys were in near hysteria and I was the cool ninja magician mum, for the minute, until I went into my lecture about the law of attraction and how anything we want we can have if we just believe – not sure how much of this was absorbed but they did ask if we could play on the way home, I of course agreed but told them to both think of car colours that they do not often see and set their intention of wanting to see that colour ready for 3.30.

Home time. No hellos, just colours shouted at me. “Purple!” “Yellow!” Game on! This time the universe was having fun with us purple umbrella, coat, buggy, lower half of a bus. Nothing yellow though and homeboy was chanting “yellow, come on yellow, yellow!” Then I remembered you must set your intentions/goals and let them go, believing that they will happen. So, I change the topic and sure enough, a couple of minutes later we see our first purple car! After some time in a shop we step out and parked right there on a side road is the most beautiful never-before-seen or noticed shade of purple car. We all burst out laughing to the amusement and bewilderment of fellow shoppers. Mr Yellow is not impressed for long, I can tell he is thinking about his delayed order so I send out a mother’s secret plea to the universe, “please come through so this child can understand how wonderful life is.”  Order placed we began playing our usual word association game after a few totally made up words TWO rare YELLOW “black” cabs drove past! This time we were jumping with glee.

We are sorcerers who can conjure up anything we want.

I encourage you to play and smile your way to a happier you.


© 2017