Friday, 26 May 2017

I love MCR!

What happens when you can’t simply turn off the TV and choose to ignore all the bad news. It’s easier to distance yourself when you believe something does not directly affect you, but you come to learn that everything and everyone is connected. This week my home city got a taste of the daily struggle of people in conflict zones across the globe.  I don’t have the option of simply disengaging because terror came knocking on our door. My adopted city, Manchester, is an amazing place to live I have been leaving Manchester since I was about 6 but it keeps pulling me back, I’ve never fully understood the attraction until this week. The people are a diverse bunch, the overwhelming majority of whom are warm and friendly, the city is full of life with events and attractions all year round for all to enjoy, Manchester Arena is one of them.

I have been to concerts at the Arena, taken my kids there, walked passed there on many occasions never have I had a reason to feel unsafe. For a couple of days, that feeling changed and I began to think about whether going into town was ever going to be an option again. Thankfully the spirit of Manchester has helped me realise that with love and hope we can move forward and towards eliminating hurtful hate and actions. Loving and finding acceptance through pain is a tough thing to do but with time and the right people around it does happen. I can’t even begin to imagine what the families of those who lost their lives and those who were injured are going through but with the wonderful compassionate response from around the world and from the local community, things are made just that little bit easier.

What doesn’t break you makes you stronger and Manchester is definitely not broken, I sincerely hope terrorists are noting that their actions serve no other purpose than to bring the rest of the world closer together. Do they not realise that all their efforts are in vain? For centuries terrorists have been losing, they have been causing disruption, hurting the innocent and spending their lives hidden in the shadows only to be thwarted and meet miserable ends themselves. The positivity of unity, empathy and solidarity will always win over negative divisive behaviour, yet repeatedly new threats arise signifying an imperfect system. While we are good at rooting out evil we need to get better at stamping out the seeds of evil which include inequality, injustice, ignorance, and isolation. I've just realised all the seeds I have identified begin with 'I', the message that sends to me is selfishness or the interests of the individual or few breeds hate. 7.5 billion of us share this tiny planet, if we were meant to live isolated disconnected lives surely we would all have our own planets or at least Islands, but that was not God's plan. He created us all equal and gave us each other with our individual strengths and weaknesses so that we could work and live happily together as one and thrive. 

I encourage you to do as much as you can in your homes and communities to stamp out the seeds of evil. Change begins with the individual and quickly spreads, as it should, making positive change viral should be a global goal.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

The joy of the unknown.

We should all try new things to get things or experiences we have never had but more importantly to dispel myths that we tend to create for the world. By trying new things, we surprise and inform ourselves opening ourselves up to the abundance this universe has on offer.

I am writing a book. It’s an idea I have been playing with for years. I have started and stopped so many times, the minute I tell someone about it I am filled with fear to the point of paralysis.  I have lost so many edits because I just did not think them good enough. Any time I sit down to work on it I search for things that I have written before and upon reading them I think well that’s rubbish and then just move on doing something else. Being a seeker of the meaning of life and knowing that it begins with knowing thyself I believe that it is that which we fear most that we must do. In seeking the answers to life and getting to know yourself you come to understand that there is no end to this journey so while you may take some time off to do this, the work is never over. The challenge is in taking action as we learn, the most successful and fulfilled people in life are those who are not afraid to fail, those who take calculated risk and keep trying. When I say success, I do not mean financial success although that is what most people count as success, myself included.

Chasing a high salary has never been for me but I used to believe that this meant something was wrong with me, so I would look at those who I believed were happy because of all the money they were making but without understanding their struggle, motivation, and sacrifice. All this came to was me beating myself up for nothing, time wasting. I wish I could say that I am not motivated by money but I am in as much as it keeps a roof over my head and puts food in my belly and a little bit more to enable me to do things that bring happiness to me and those I hold dear. Which is the real reason why I could never fully commit to writing. It does not put money in my pocket. One day I had the crazy idea to change the way I looked at it, rather than being a vehicle that literally fed the body, writing became a fuel for the soul and mind. First with letter writing and journaling, then blogging and now actively working on my book and having my mind opened to other writing opportunities in this big glorious universe. All we need in this life is opportunity which we must seek for they rarely come calling. With this in mind and with my 40th birthday looming I have decided to make a Forty before 40 list to broaden my experiences and network and give me more to write, talk and laugh about. I will share some (maybe all depending on where my mind takes me) of the list soon and invite anyone to do the same and share as well.  

When I sat at my desk this morning I had no idea what to write about but I showed up and created something it all began with intention, get your intentions right and the rest will come. Trust the process.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

This woman is not an island.

A gentle reminder from my 1996 self, Keep reaching,
I am not superwoman. And that's ok.

Occasionally I find myself believing that I am the all seeing all knowing eye, no one can tell me anything, I just know things because I have a beautiful mind like that. Life in its wonderful glory has a way of subtly reminding me (and, more often than I care to admit, slapping me in the face) that I know very little and as such should take a seat, notes and approach certain situations humbly, assuming a position of ignorance to make sure I am open to learning something new.

I am always going on about how organised I am and how sharp my memory is, this week has shown me that I am not and that needs to change. I have disappointed my son three times this week because I didn’t pay attention. I can’t tell you how many emails/tweets/texts I get from the kid’s schools that go unread or skim read which sometimes is just the subject of the email, as the boys attend different schools it's double the fun for me, I am normally on top of it but this week has been rough, I have had a lot going on and my mind has just been all over the place.

I dropped Jamal off at school on Friday and just as I was about to pop my earphones in and do the freedom shuffle I hear feet running towards me and turn to seem him looking distressed and he says, “it’s non-uniform day!” It was too late to go back home and get changed so I had to persuade him to tough the day out, when we got to school I had a word with his teacher who said she would find him a top and he could wear his P.E. shorts this appeased his Gods, she did, however, mention that an email had been sent which I was convinced I never got, checking my phone later proved that I was in fact in the wrong and the message was read, Ooops!

The silent African in me thinks this is character building for the child, he will be resilient, unafraid to stand out in the crowd. Just as I had to find the inner strength to deal with awkward situations as a child so would he. I remember waiting to be picked up at school in Zambia when a clapped-out University Teaching Hospital ambulance pulled up. I doubled over in laughter pointed at it and proclaimed very loudly that someone must have been very ill to have to go home in that. Over my laughter, I heard the driver call out my name. M-O-R-T-I-F-I-E-D, silenced, first of many lessons in humility, but I’m sure I came back to school as cool as a cucumber the next day.  

The mother in me was sick with the shame of letting her child down, his main fear on both days was that his schoolmates would laugh at him and no one wants that, this part of me remembers wondering whose side her parents were really on. It hadn’t even been a week since I had sent Jamal to school in the wrong uniform for school pictures because I just knew I was right. I swore I would do better… then comes today. Spring fair. I was sure it began at 2 pm, we get there and the street seems rather quiet, but we keep going, we get to the hall and its empty but my ego still didn’t want to believe I had messed up yet again but I had. Pockets full of change to spend on goodies the kids were crestfallen for a few minutes but as soon as I mentioned spending the afternoon in the park and cake they were fine. I was not.  I checked my emails again in the park and the same email that had information about non-uniform day stated the spring fair start time. 12 pm. I had missed vital information twice.

Events had been trying to tell me to plan and do better and I hate to admit it but so had my other half who is always on at me to clarify information, write things down and tell him what he can do to help. But in my know it all manner I have thought, who ever sees wonder/superwoman with a notepad google calendar? Note to self: superwoman is a fictional character but even she has side-kicks and learns on the job.

Know that you know what you know, but understand that you have a lot to learn.