Us And Others…

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A shocking story made the british headlines a couple of weeks ago; after losing his wife  of 38 years during lockdown, a septuagenarian found himself in deep isolation, no family or friends around to console him or keep him company.

The widower decided to take matters in his own hands, and started handing over his contact details to strangers in local supermarkets to make new friends. The phone remained shtum…

That effort being unsuccessful, he went on to publish a few adverts in his local paper, still to no avail however.

In the end, the poor man resorted to sticking a big long note on his house’s front window to appeal to passers-by. On it he wrote that he had lost his wife, he had “no friends or family”, “no one to talk to”, and found the never ending silence all day long “unbearable torture”.

How heartbreaking is that? It is rather unthinkable and revolting that somebody can end up in such a desperate situation; nobody to talk to, literally begging to have a conversation with another soul. Mindboggling really you would think…however when I come to look into this closely, I have to admit that this should really not be that shocking. This is what society looks like today, and I’m not even trying to judge!

“Solitude is fine, but you need someone to tell that solitude is fine”

Life is very stressful. We’re so much caught up in our little lives that we can’t see the wood for the trees. There are lots of lonely people that we meet in our everyday life, but we just don’t notice them, too busy and too tired to lend a smile or a look to a stranger. We so do with existing relationships as well, to tell the whole truth…

You’ve noticed how prominent social media platforms have become in our lives, they have become the norm. This is in a way a trade off against the lack of effort or courage we bestow to new encounters or current circles in the real physical world. We are tired, we are mistrustful, we are not brave enough.

It might be the “only child syndrome”, but I love my time alone haha! I totally revel in spending time with myself, choosing when I sleep, what I eat, where to go etc. However, there always comes a time when I reach out to friends or family, because as enjoyable as my me-time can be, I will always eventually feel the need to connect to other people.

We need each other to thrive, to feel alive, to be healthy mentally and physically, there’s no escaping that truth. We are special, unique, only in comparison to other people – I am me because I am not you.

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Ubuntu, the African philosophical concept famously used to facilitate the transition towards democracy in South Africa has at its core the thought that a person is a person through other people.

Okinawa, a Japanese longevity hotspot, gave us the Ikigai concept (meaning the reason for being, the raison d’etre. I recommend a fabulous read on it by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles). One of Ikigai’s founding principles is social connectedness.

Okinawans have this fascinating tradition of pairing children from a young age into groups of friends –Moai – who commit to each other for life! Moai form a second family for the members who can count on each other for experiencing life, financial assistance, company…basically being there for each other through thick and thin. Institutionalized friendship literally!  Amazing…

Guess what? Our friend from the beginning managed to crack the code! That poster on his front window was everything! Media outlets got hold of the story and spread it all around. His email inbox crashed because inundated with emails, phone calls and letters galore…

He was brave enough to be vulnerable, and he made it happen…Vulnerability, bravery…

A happy ending.

Lessons learned

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I had planned this post to be about age, as I was graced with another year about a week ago. I changed my mind though; just felt more fitting for the mood I was in to reflect on some of the most impactful lessons at this point in my life, and share them here.

Accept what is.

We sometimes have a hard time grappling with challenges life throws at us, which is fair enough. It can however get quite tiring to try and negate certain realities, when we have no control over them.

Our human nature doesn’t allow us to accept “defeat” willingly; but the fact is fighting reality, what is, is the best way to get stuck in a distorted reality and not progress.

The lesson is that humility is the sure way forward, but it can also be excruciatingly hard. Control the controllable as I tend to say; if it works out as planned, perfect; if it doesn’t, then it wasn’t meant to be.

I want to accept what is, with grace. Not because it would make me feel elevated, but truly because I need to, for my sanity.

Don’t judge too fast…

After seeing the movie The Black Panther 2 years ago, a real cultural phenomenon, I became a fervent admirer of the actor who plays the main character, Chadwick Boseman. After watching a few of his interviews, I became a stan haha! If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll remember he looked quite buff in it…And then his silhouette got slimmer, then a bit more slimmer; why does he need to lose weight? He looked just fine before…Is it for a role? He’s overdoing it…These were my thoughts. And earlier this year, I saw a video of him, he looked gaunt…Definitely preparing for a role…

2 days before my birthday, the news of his untimely death broke.

The physical transformation we were witnessing – and judging – was the testimony of the biggest fight of his life.

Forming an opinion of a person or a situation without knowing the full picture is not something I would like to carry on doing carelessly. This is one of the reasons why I don’t rate platforms like Instagram; although photographs are supposed to capture a soul, they do not speak really…They might give you a hint of a truth, but which truth?

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Perfection is a scam…

Perfection is an illusory notion I was very much attached to until recently…how exhausting – and sometimes unrewarding – that can be! Chasing perfection is a gateway to stifling our growth and creativity, and encouraging anxiety.

I’ve come to the realisation at this point in my life that the journey to my authentic self is my version of perfection. Becoming me is perfection. Leaning fully into who I am inherently – my character traits, flaws and all – is perfection.

Authenticity is scary though, it exposes us in a way that makes us vulnerable to our fellow humans. But boy oh boy does it feel good when you hit the mark; that sweet spot where you don’t really care much who thinks what about you haha!

Being unapologetically your true self is however fair to others and us actually; it means offering your whole self to the world, your exceptionality that can only be enriching for All.

Be The Leading Act of Your Life!

Have you sometimes felt like standing on the sidelines of your life?

It’s a very common and perfectly acceptable feeling, as long as passivity doesn’t become the norm; the best team players in sport have all experienced spending some time on the “bench”; movie leading actors – unless in some obscure French artsy movies haha – share the limelight with the supporting acts.

Leading movie stars are so appealing though aren’t they? That’s exactly the role I want to play in my life. I want to reclaim my time (thank you Maxine Waters) most of the time, shine bright in my space and lead my life with Intentionality. Purpose. Power. Confidence.

Heck I want to be the Beyonce-at Coachella of my life 90% of the time! I leave the 10% to life getting in the way hahahaha!!

My mother often refers to this shortened Jean-Paul Sartre quote, “l’homme n’est rien d’autre que ce qu’il se fait (…)”. The beauty of it is, we have it in us to be the leading act of our life. No need to audition. We just need to want it – want it, and we’re the star of our life.

And other lessons…

  • Anxiety is a liar
  • Love always wins. Always.
  • Ego is overrated
  • Netflix is crap…

What valuable lessons come to your mind as you’re reading this?

Enjoying the new normal that is social distancing?

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Life has felt really alien lately; I’ve been working from home for 5 months, and my good old normal 9 to 5 routine seems light years away…

What started like a pretty cool adventure – no more school run, and working in my PJs? Bliss! –  has slowly lost a lot of its appeal.

IT glitches paired with an overwhelming amount of emails make working conditions literally nightmarish. For some of us juggling home-schooling and working from home until recently, this situation felt like a double sentence: no, home is not your safe haven anymore, and no, you can’t relax between two zoom meetings, because little man needs help with these unidentifiable geometric shapes!

Trips to the shops have become more of a relaxed affair nowadays albeit the mandatory masks in the UK, but do you remember what it felt and looked like up to a month ago? The comparison with an astronaut mission wouldn’t be far-fetched; this is when the infamous R rate and anxiety were at their peak, masks, gloves, antibacterial wipes or toilet paper scarce products, selling like gold dust.

5 months on, we’re still on lockdown mode in the UK and virtually all over the globe, each part of the world applying a customized approach based on their local circumstances. 

connection

/kəˈnɛkʃ(ə)n/

noun: connection; plural noun: connections; noun: connexion; plural noun: connexions

 A relationship in which a person or thing is linked or associated with something else.

Oh, some good has certainly come out of it – for many of us, the lockdown was the opportunity to genuinely slow down. No matter how busy work has been, confinement has given us the license to stop and breathe, rediscover ourselves, be crafty, get closer to our children and partners. Some have even had the luxury to not have to work from home at all, indulging in activities like reading, writing, drawing, painting all day just because they had plenty of spare time on their hands…

Havoc caused by this hurricane-like pandemic has taken its toll on many families though: the economic rut is raging in all parts of the globe (bank fraud is raging too more than ever…); domestic violence has gone up 20% worldwide according to the UN, the latter describing it as a “shadow pandemic” (have you seen the National Domestic Abuse helpline poster “abusers always work from home”? Efficient and chilling.).

And what about most of us piling on pounds like we were on a mission?! I guess we don’t need to worry, Boris is on the case appparently…

All things considered, are you looking forward to your old normal, dealing with unbearable colleagues in the open space wo can’t shut it when you’re trying to focus, awkward water cooler talk, dragging office town halls, stress inducing school runs and road rage, noisy and sweaty pubs’ meetups, countless kids’ birthday parties, crammed underground trains, air pollution and all that jazz??

The answer is YES for me.

Social connection, as messy as it can be, lends our old normal its humanness; I want it back.

My First Blog Post

Mastery of language affords remarkable power.” — Frantz Fanon.

It took me a little while to choose the topic for my first post, simply because I want to start on my best foot as you would. However, no topic would be perfect enough for me to write this first post, so I’ve decided to just start and see where my thoughts take me.

“Just S T A R T” is actually the name of my latest “campaign”; I periodically devise personal mottos like this one, to help me get over obstacles in my life, or keep me pumped up for everyday challenges.

Translating my intentions into words that I can physically see boost the chances of those intentions becoming actions. Obviously it takes more than seeing those words to jump into action, but for me they are the signal to myself that I want and need change.

wHY Am I doIng ThiS?

I write everywhere, anything will do: post-its, various bloc-notes, kitchen board, phone, you name it…it is actually fitting that my first post organically ends up being about writing. Words help me at so many levels, and I’m really grateful to have this thing I can fall on for mental solace.

I’m glad I’ve started at last, and now my brain won’t stop! I read on several blogging guides that long posts are boring, as our attention span is dwindling (thank you technology), so I’d better not linger here…

I want us to have some good quality time on this platform, with the purpose of deepening our sense of self awareness, to connect better with others; I therefore warmly invite you to share your opinions, suggestions, as we’re together exploring the magic of experiencing life with ourselves and others.