Life, love and new beginnings.

September is here; it is a new beginning for many. Are you in back to ‘skool’ mode and buying a new pencil case and shoes? Aspiring to create a different version of yourself. Planning to reset your intentions to realise your fullest potential, carrying on as usual or simply seeking less nonsense and more harmony in your life?

Btw, I’m not selling anything, just musing; I should be writing 5,000 words for something else — procrastination? Distraction, life!

I’m not entirely honest; I heard this morning that a genuinely inspirational young woman passed away, leaving very young children. Apart from being deeply saddened by this tragedy, I’m also touched because she appeared to be flourishing (they is more to this story) and has built an incredible legacy that hopefully will continue. So it made me think, and I have 2 Q for you.

1. What would you do if the “success” you want/desire was guaranteed? 

2. Do you want to leave a legacy? If yes, does it give your life clarity, meaning and purpose?

Most of us simply want to flourish, thrive and be happy — in all aspects of our life, work, love and other stuff, but how? It’s a rhetorical Q; I have no answers.

To say we are complex, complicated creatures is an understatement (no s**t, Sherlock!). Life is a messy hodgepodge of early programming, lived experience, expectations (self and others), joy, disappointment and uncertainty. When you add the fuel of tittle-tattle, gossip, judgment, other people’s well-meaning but unhelpful advice, microaggressions, societal discrimination, imposter syndrome and “unprecedented world events.” Life can get hard, too hard for some.

While I recognise correlation is not causation, it’s no surprise that the reports of (di)stress are rising along with people stating their peace of mind is diminishing. I heard others saying their potential is being undermined because sometimes the above combination triggers deeper, often hidden issues.

The resulting self-doubt, mindset gremlins, resurfacing of suppressed or repressed emotions, or self-sabotaging behaviour merely makes folks feel more of a failure or worse. We know that stress, pain, loss and grief are part of the human experience, but suffering is optional, right?

After a tornado of significant life events, my SMART goal for September and the rest of the year was (and still is) to dive deeper into becoming a better human, a more person-centred practitioner, and a tad more hopeful as an educator. Yep, I know this might sound improbable; but as a work in progress, it’s never too late to live a truly authentic life, hopefully!

I’m still going to make space for my favourite pastimes; being curious, making mischief (but keeping out of trouble), debunking misconceptions, aka calling out bullshit, including the stereotypes and tropes around being a woman with brown skin in the UK.

I’m writing this at the end of another week of genuinely horrific world news. Most days, I take the freedoms and choices we (I) have in this country for granted while so many people live under genuinely fearful regimes. I am so grateful that the UK was my accidental place of birth. Yet yesterday, I heard many stories of people who have the same ‘privilege’ feeling trapped and paralysed by indecision about their next steps; why?

Most of us are knocked harder than we admit by the setbacks and disappointments of life or remain shackled by our past (I use the term deliberately), so only a few can genuinely choose to take on the challenge to seek the abundant life they desire. Yet, failure and obstacles are the roundabouts and bumps on the road to success; you can’t avoid them, but you can learn better ways to navigate to become antifragile.

We are all the product of circumstance, our environment and personal decisions; it’s a privileged statement that should wrangle and demand your attention. It bothers the bejesus out of me, and I wrote it! Prolonged stress blocks mental clarity, while creativity and imagination can empower positive change. Stay with me here — have you heard Dr Waheed Arian’s story? It’s on the Slo-Mo podcast (Mo Gowat has a brilliant podcast IMH0). It’s a powerful account of escaping the cycle of mental survival and shifting into a new headspace of hope. Waheed Arian was born in a war zone and changed his life because of his creative growth mindset. Highly recommended if you need to listen to something meaningful and uplifting.

Creativity enables us (me) to see past current limitations, to move beyond my more than fair share of life shocks (and why not me). “Doing the work”, as my USA cousins like to call it, aka the deep dive of personal growth, is one way to find the more profound contentment many human minds seek, but it ain’t easy!!!

The other (and probably more accessible) option is minding our own business (MYOB), aka focusing on our circle of influence. MYOB is a muscle that needs to be trained just like any other; it can help eliminate the negative noise of the human experience — and cut the bull. Like Stephen Covey says, too many people spend too much of their time on the things they can’t influence or control, so they are essentially trapped, powerless in misery mode or on struggle street (it’s also a headspace). Doomed to repeat what hasn’t worked; chasing stuff that brings transient and hollow satisfaction or happiness. They’re okay, just not thriving.

What I’ve relearnt so far- 

  • Words hurt — they may not break your bones, but they can cut deep and often leave unhealed scars. 
  • Know when to step back; it’s okay to retreat to your safe space or support without explanation.
  • Recognise if “this” issue genuinely directly concerns you; if not, why waste the one thing you can’t get back — your time.
  • Ditch the judgment; it could be you or one of your loved ones next! 
  • Boundaries; understand yours, respect others.
  • Cultivate the art of non-judgemental thinking; it will genuinely change your life and the words that slip out of your mouth.
  • Support others without getting in their way or expecting anything in return, although receiving a thank you is lovely. 
  • Understand your truth, purpose and story because it is the framework of your authentic growth as a human, health, and future development.
  • Learn how early childhood experiences can disempower the thinking and behaviour of those you serve at work or in your personal life.
  • Understand how your early childhood experiences affect your thinking, beliefs, and actions.
  • Stop the cycle of gossip and rumour; remember, words and misinformation can be harmful.
  • Sometimes NO is a complete sentence, so stop talking.
  • Almost everyone will have experienced some adversity or trauma; in the main, it’s invisible.
  • Give folks the benefit of the doubt; tripping over your words is okay if you make a genuine apology.
  • The face you show at the first meeting is likely to be your authentic self — yikes.
  • If you can’t say something kind or compassionate, smiling and keeping your mouth shut may be the best course of action.
  • Make a conscious effort to share uplifting, positive news; if there isn’t any, or you can’t, please KISS (no, I don’t mean pucker up lip smooching, although that’s uber nice too). 
  • It is okay to ask for help.
  • Vulnerability is a superpower; change occurs when we lose the fear to be vulnerable.

I repeat the Q. What would you do if the “success” you want/desire was guaranteed?

I’m off to walk my naked feet on the beach and leave you with these two quotes.

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” — Rumi.