Was it the lack of wanting to write the cause of this extended break? Certainly not.
You know what it is like, when you feel that knot in the stomach every time you get a mental reminder of a task you imperiously need to do, but just don’t have the actual time or are not in the adequate mental space to proceed.
That’s been me battling with that urge to sit down and lay thoughts on paper. Why, because everything else somehow became the priority. Was I fair to myself? Certainly not.
2021 has been a lot. At all levels, for most of us. I’ve however – finally – reached my lowest tolerance limit, and the urge to write is too strong, too loud to keep on ignoring it.
And goodness does it feel good to fall back in my safe place…
What is your safe place? Your happy place as a friend of mine likes to call it?
When there’s so much going on in the outside world, we paradoxically tend to neglect our safe place. Paradoxical, yes. Natural, unfortunately yes. We’re drawn towards the magnetising 24-hr sensationalized news, external loud alarm bells fighting to captivate our focus.
Covid. Covid casualties. Covid vaccines. Women abductions. Missing people. Economic recession. Global warming. Business closures. Online scamming. Just to name this month’s highlights in my part of the world… STOP.
There’s only so much toxicity I / we can take. When the bucket is full, water overflows. We must turn the tap off, and find refuge in our safe place. That place for me is more than one thing, and writing is certainly in the top 5 of my self-care regimen.
The fantastic thing is we have a phenomenal internal compass! Our body will communicate its need to sleep, fast, move or eat. Our soul will whisper or shouts to us that something is amiss. We sometimes will stumble, we will fall, we will get distracted, we will lose sight and hearing; we can nevertheless rest assured that wewill always know when we need to switch things on or off.
Self-care is the fuel that takes us beyond surviving; self-care is simply living the moment, taking time to stop and enjoy the gifts of life to us…The cherry on the cake is that giving ourselves grace that way empowers us with the tools to enrich, support, and be an asset to others. Full circle.
I took a leap of faith earlier this year and mustered the courage to start this platform, to give in to a lifelong passion of mine that’s writing. By far not an easy task given my sheer incompetency at using this WordPress tool!
You Reader have accompanied and supported me in these infant stages of my public writing journey, by reading and/or commenting my posts. I warmly thank you for that, and am looking forward to carrying on sharing my views, as well as welcoming yours.
I wish we All make the most of this (festive for some) year-end break wherever we are, and not worry too much about the disheartening news all over the media or whatever circumstances we cannot control…
I like to get inspired by human interaction or topical events. Needless to say I’ve found it hard to find a subject matter to write about, something a bit featherlike.
Contact with others is pretty much restricted, so my life rhythm is punctuated by a few humdrum activities. No surprise expected. Work from home. Grocery shopping. School runs. Watch the (always deflating) news. Lengthy time spent on Youtube. What’s on Netflix? Try to read / write. So much for human interaction…
But there’s Whatsapp, Zoom among others… Yes of course, but to talk about what? Conversations in this part of the world revolve mostly around how we’re all overworked, about the lockdown 2 rules, stress, upcoming vaccination, Brexit…
Oh, we’re talking about Christmas, but just to relish the idea of a proper break from work at last, not to trade Christmas menu inspirations – the air is thick with fatigue, hopelessness and expectations.
Impossible to escape the doom and gloom of current times, even when speaking with relatives who reside in my motherland; shocking killings are rampant in the North /South West regions of the country, the economical and moral plight raging still.
What’s the state of your mind in the midst of this quagmire? I’m sure I’m not the only one here eager to see the back of 2020, even if it’s wishing our life away. For my part, I’m pondering about my relationship with my mind, and how to keep it sane and catering to my needs in these chaotic times.
For those experiencing the same funk, all I can say is we cannot escape this mess, because this is what life has meant so far this year. But we still are bound to move through the motions, and make sense of our everyday.
You, who are having the time of your life, please share your secret!
Silver lining there is in any situation though; dark times tend to back us into a corner, forcing us to rethink the usual, the common, the “too-comfortable”. Hardship can lead to dramatic life changes and new beginnings. However there’s a tunnel to cross – a dark one – to get there for some of us, that requires enough light to land on the other side. Maybe a bit bruised or even scathed, but on the other side nevertheless.
I’m reading quite a compelling book, The Mind Management, that essential endeavours to explain why we are not our mind. We’re supposed to look at our mind as a major part of our being that can either lead to self-fulfilment, or depression (no no, we don’t want that!). We tend to let the mind control our decisions and actions, whereas we are actually the master of it. Tricky task, but we need to be aware of that power, and exert it.
I use optimism as my light in the tunnel. Good old positive thinking schmilblick. Most spiritiual beliefs assure us that we intrinsically possess internal peace. Why don’t we automatically reach for it then, if it’s already embedded in us? Would we be addicted to mental unrest? Are we holding on to our stress membership to belong to the majority? Or are we merely lacking the tools – knowledge, energy – to manage our mind like we own it?
Very interested to know how you weather the storm, every little helps!
So, as you know life’s not felt right lately…straight out rubbish for some. The price our mental and physical health will pay for these surreal times cannot be assessed just yet, but the impact can already be felt by a lot of us. Lord knows when we see the back of this harrowing pandemic, but we somehow need to find a way to live with it, and its consequences.
Like for many, escapism is my coping mechanism; it looks like light reading, easy-listening music, a lot of time spent on YouTube (sort of addicted), and light-hearted TV shows. Light, easy…we desperately need some airiness, a good dose of frivolity in our lives nowadays don’t we?
If you’ve read the post “Lessons learned”, you’ll have seen my brief statement about Netflix…however, yours truly is still insisting on looking for the hidden gems on it – I’m really still a subscriber because of the F.O.M.O. (Fear Of Missing Out for us cool people – just to embarrass my son)). It’s in that quest that I followed my bestie L’s recommendation to watch the umpteenth dating TV show – clearly cash cows – that premiered early this year on Netflix, “Love is Blind”.
What is it all about? In a nutshell, contestants from different cultural and social backgrounds go on several blind dates (literally, seating in opposite rooms with a wall separating them), the goal being for them to connect emotionally and intellectually. No electronical device allowed on location. If two people decide to get engaged after a few conversations, they get to meet in person and move to the next phase of the show.
For all the lucky ones who have found their “perfect match”, it is off to some exotic place (somewhere in Mexico) for a holiday getaway and proper face-to-face dating. Glittery idyllic world, exuberant excitement, the newness of it all…what’s not to love there? If they don’t kill each other by the end of their break, they get to live under the same roof for some can-we-live-together rehearsal, and also meet their respective families. About a month later, they find themselves at the altar, and must decide their fate: embrace the unknown and actually get hitched, or do a runner…
Tantalising isn’t it? Allow me to share some random snippets of the show; promised, no spoilers! Names amended:
Joe: I feel so blessed to have you come into my life, I love you so much and want to spend the rest of my life with you…will you marry me?
Cora (Sobbing): Oh my God yes, I will marry you, I will be your wife! You’re such a beautiful person, I don’t need to see you to know that.
Finn: I love you with all my heart, you’ve taught me so much in such a small amount of time (…) I find myself thanking God for you (sobbing uncontrollably). I can’t see my life without you at this point.
Dionne: I think God put you in my life for a reason, because you are a phenomenal person (…). Oh gosh, this is like the happiest day of my life!
Mills & Boon inspo…
Mark: I appreciated this journey with you – I know I need to be with you, and you’re exactly the person I’ve been looking for (…) would you marry me?
Sinead: I will Oh My God! It’s so surreal; I don’t know how to even describe the thoughts going through my mind right now. I’ve found someone I’ve worked so hard to like even dream of or think of…you’re just the perfect person…you’ve been my missing link to complete me…
“You can fall in love with a person’s potential, but you have to be in a relationship with their reality.”
You’ve got the picture. Just like many of you I’m sure, I totally subscribe to the idea that the physical needs to be transcended, to form a potentially durable relationship. Physical chemistry tends to skew the game, and can lead to infatuation that is often mistaken with love.
However this show takes this viewpoint to another level! It is a caricature of an obviously veracious theory, made to create a buzz. Time is a crucial ingredient, in MOST cases. I can already hear some of you pinpointing this or that exceptional couple that made it to the altar after a week…hmm…how many of them actually make it in the long run?
I’m in a sharing mood today, so here’s a gold nugget for you on how we tend to perform at early stages of a relationship, and what the ideal approach should be (great Youtube channel by the way, and I’m not sponsored…).
Watching the show was a good laugh, if you take out parts where an aghast and definitely frustrated me would shout at the TV screen in quite a colourful language – abuse – as I felt increasingly cheated, the more I was engaging with the program. I don’t know why, but I really wanted this show to be good; I binge watched the whole thing in one sitting, 11 episodes… Madness I know! The premise of the concept bore promise of a notable meaningful watch, but it fell flat and felt deceitful to me the viewer.
Without giving too much away (and we don’t want this post to become a short story), I can reveal that 2 couples got married, and 3 people got dumped at the altar. Netflix has promised a second season for 2021. Why not? It garnered 2 Emmy nominations, and has been a great financial windfall for the network.
Am I too cynical? May be…To me, love is assuredly not this blind.
Good luck to all of them though; the beauty of life is, one never knows…
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.
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…
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?
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 – 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’ll leave the 10% to life getting in the way…
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?
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.
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.
“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.