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