The last few months of this year has been a blur, preparing for my final dissertation submission and consumed by hectic work schedules and pressing personal priorities. Time has no doubt passed by speedily and without any consideration for my “list of things to do”. It has also been an emotional 6 months for me, losing a close cousin and having two personal colleagues diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. This has certainly made me very sad. On the upside, we recently celebrated being part of an amazing surprise engagement for my daughter.
Life does have its seasons, seasons of growth and seasons of restoration. Through our own and through the challenges of others, we learn and grow. I am once again reminded of the fragility of life and how often we are so consumed by worry, prolonged stress, crisis, responsibilities and obligations, that we are often exhausted, burnt out and sometimes anxious, angry, fearful and bitter, resulting in self destruction. We are constantly at war with ourselves, defeating our own inner voices of encouragement and triumph, drowning our own passions and dreams to settle the score with others, battling through our preconceived ideas, debating right and wrong in our minds because we are in conflict with decisions we made and yet, through it all, we forget about the real warrior, ourselves.
We spend so much time being anxious about what the future holds that we work ourselves out of a future. We worry so much about everything and everyone that we drive ourselves crazy thinking the world will stop without us. We take on more and more in the hope that we can justify our existence. We hold back our thoughts and voices in the fear of being excluded, and we are afraid to say “no” because it make us look mean, selfish and inconsiderate. In the end, we achieve what we can, exhausted, compromised and sometimes angry.
We worry about our kids, our job, whether we will make payment on all our obligations, we worry about our future, our parents and so the list goes on. Over the last few months, I have been through my own journey, a journey of self-reflection, self-acknowledgement and self-renewal. Through this journey I have learnt a few priceless lessons which have created in me a different sentiment, a different approach and a different urgency around everything I do. Most importantly, I have learnt about the importance of faith in God and belief in myself.
There must be a divine purpose
When I look back on my life and what I have achieved. I know that there must be a divine hand guiding my path. It is virtually impossible to do everything on our own. I have learnt that I cannot control everything, and that in the absence of perceived control, prayer is the closest rescue. I realised that I need to let go of the things I cannot control and trust that everything will work out in perfect harmony
I am number “one”
I am the most important person in this life. Without ME, nothing else is possible. As much as I love my mom, my children, my family and my friends, the greatest gift that I can give them is the confidence that I am happy and well. That means that I need to take decisive action at putting myself first in everything I do. There is a difference between putting yourself first and being selfish. Being selfish means you care about no one else but yourself, putting yourself first means you care about everyone, that’s why you put yourself first. I knew that I had to trust myself more, worry less; exercise, exercise and exercise more, meditate, cycle, run, swim, make every yoga class, make the time to prepare a good meal and most importantly, make the time to sit down and enjoy it, sleep earlier, read and learn more for some fire to my soul. I could not focus on “Me” if I was consumed with focusing on everyone else. I had to let go of the guilt that I felt when I made time for the things that I needed. I needed to make myself priority number one. Remember, “You” comes before all that is “yours”.
It’s about quality, not quantity
I wished for a long time that I could spend more time with my mom, really be there for her in many more ways, when she woke up in the morning, throughout the day and even at night before she went to bed. I realised that I was so afraid of losing her that I was driving myself crazy trying to be there for her at every waking moment, even when she did not really need me. I was trying to balance all of this with running a business and honouring all other commitments, needless to say, driving myself to exhaustion. I reflected on the article that I wrote on “Balance is Power”. Not being there 24 /7 for our parents does not make us bad children. It’s the deliberate attempts we make to spend time with them, being fully present when we do, including them in our plans as if they will be around forever that gives them a sense of purpose. The greatest gift we can give them is being well enough ourselves so that we can in turn take care of them. So I let go of the need to constantly be with her, to instead harnessing the time that I did spend with her, making it more valuable and meaningful. I cannot control what will happen and how she will leave this earth, whether she will leave before me or me before her, but I can make sure that I do everything possible to give her the best of ” ME” in the way I love her, the way I care for her and the way I spend time with her.
My children have a different journey to mine
My children are such a big part of my life, they fill my day, they make me a better person in so many ways, and every single day I learn something new about the world from a completely different perspective. It’s natural to find yourself wanting to create the perfect life for them. I have been conflicted with how much I should be doing versus allowing them to sometimes stumble enough to learn about the basic values of self responsibility, financial prudence, and transparent relationships and, amongst many other things, prioritising learning for personal growth. I realised that no matter how much advice, direction and attitude I gave them, they were bound to make their own decisions. What I needed to trust was that the foundational values I instilled in them would be a beacon of light showing them the way ahead. I also realised that as much as they love us as parents, they eventually grow independent of us. Instead of trying to fight this internal conflict and hang on to them for dear life, or shelter them, I let go, knowing and trusting them to confidently embrace the big world as I have, where they can learn and harness their own talents and write their own story. I learnt that my role was not to create but to shape their future. I let go of taking full responsibility for them. I will always be here, to guide them, to advise them, to teach them but I have had to accept that they have their own journey.
We make time for what’s important.
Friendships whether with family or friends take commitment, time and sacrifice. To truly benefit from relationships, you must be willing to give it concerted effort. You cannot hope to have others spend time with you but you don’t make time for them. For a long time I exhausted myself caring about family and friends who never cared to check on me or reach out to me. I may be strong on the outside, that doesn’t make me less in need of love or care. So, I let go of holding them to ransom, and expecting them to care as much as I did. I did that because I realise that everyone has their own battles, their own priorities and their own journey. Of course I will always be there for them when they need me because that’s who I am but, I will no longer break my back to forge a relationship which has no significance in their life. People make time for you when they value you, it’s really that simple.
My job is the fuel for my engine.
No job will love you as much as you love it. Your job is a means to an end, not the end. There is life after every employment contract and I have let go of being attached to my job to the extent that I cannot make any decisions without it. My job is valued and cherished, it is not idolised.
I love life and I am constantly reaching out for new ideas, new opportunities and new experiences. I intend to live a good many years and I intend to accomplish a lot more. Challenging work fuels me and I sometimes lose myself in all the priorities that life hands me. But alas, we know that life is not guaranteed and that every one of us will be called according to our ticket number. We are either ready or not. We are either given time to say goodbye or not. How prepared are we for the departure terminal, do we have all our travel documents intact? Can we let go?As much as we should live our lives responsibly, making it easier for others, so should we leave this earth, without creating anxiety and stress for those we love and leave behind.
You can never attract any amount of success into your life without acknowledging the people, the circumstances and the lessons that created those opportunities. In every experience, there is story of gratitude so let go of focusing only on the negative aspects of your life. As, much as this year has been a whirlwind of so many escapades, it has also brought with it, excitement, love and togetherness. Being part of the surprise engagement of my eldest daughter, Tasarnia, also known as “the gilded hanger” has no doubt been the highlight of this year. In the midst of life and its challenges, there is always the promise of hope, faith and trust in the future. Let’s embrace that and be eternally grateful for the time we have here.
Until our next connect session, keep on learning!