Thursday, 19 December 2013

Mind the gap

Nelson Mandela was buried last weekend and what a life he lived. Imprisoned for 27 years, released and becomes the first Black president of South Africa. His most significant achievement in my book though is that he became a living embodiment of what it means to truly forgive, to turn the other cheek and practice true reconciliation. I don't know about you, but if it were me, I'd be like "uh huh, no forgiveness here. I've left Jesus at home and I am about to go for some serious payback" (probably explains why it wasn't me. Jesus doesn't need anyone else giving Him a bad name!)

On a more serious note though, I followed the commentary and heard all the quotes and I just kept thinking "what about the spaces in between?  The life he lived- between the quotes. What was he like as a husband? How did he change through the years? What was he like as a grandad, given the experiences he had. What was he like as a man, when he wasn't in the spotlight?  All these questions got me wondering: what does a life of significance look like? How can we know for sure that our life has meaning?

This week's piece is about my answers, but I'd love to hear yours, so please feel free to send in your comments.

My first point is that life is made up of high points, low points and all the points in between. Or in the words of Forrest Gump: "life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get". I'm sure I'm not the only one, who sometimes thinks, "enough already with the low points!" But the truth of the matter is that most of us wouldn't be the people we are, if we hadn't had all the experiences we've had.  I truly believe that nothing we learn is ever wasted. It could be that one hideous experience you had, that qualifies you to help out someone else in the exact same predicament. Because let's face it, there comes a time when we aren't interested in platitudes anymore. There comes a time when someone tells us they know how we feel, we want to know that they really do!  When we act like we've got everything right we imprison ourselves and other people in the myth of the 'perfect' life. On the other hand, when we share our struggles, we set ourselves and others free and the advice we offer is so much better, because it is tempered by our lived experiences.

Secondly, I'd say that some of the most important lives are the ones that are lived in quiet significance. The neighbour who can always be counted on in a crisis; the acquaintance who comes through, when friends don't, the quiet old lady down the street, who turns out to have donated a whole heap of money to her local schools and other charities. When I look back over my life, there are 3 people who have been quietly significant in my life. My english teacher who recognised my passion for reading and helped me to cultivate a lifelong love of reading; a boss who saw my potential and encouraged me to go off and read law and my best sister-friend who constantly teaches me and challenges me to be a better person. When they die they aren't going to get a State funeral like Nelson Mandela, but to me they are special. When you look at your life, who are those people who are quietly significant? What experiences have you had that could help someone who is struggling?

The pomp and pageantry of Nelson Mandela's funeral is over and for the rest of us, life goes on. But it doesn't have to go on in the same way. Nelson Mandela left us with a rich legacy. A legacy that shows us how to live a life of significance, a life of value.  We can honour him and keep his legacy alive by living out the lessons he taught us. Because, in the end a life of significance is simply one that is spent, living out our divine purpose. Whether it's lived out publicly or quietly, just make sure it counts.

Until next time, go well.

born2bebeautiful is taking a 2 week break and will be back on the 2 January 2014. Have a restful and peaceful break.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

There's always more than one way to go...

I was once so concerned about my lack of creative thinking skills that I sent myself on a course, to learn how to think creatively. Of course I've since learned that "creative" is who you are, not what you do.  Doing things, just gives your creativity expression. But you know, at the time it made sense to my "don't know how to do something-read a book-go on a course" self. And in my defence, I will say that it wasn't just me on that course, there were a few of us!I'm pleased to say that my creativity is alive and kicking and comes out to play regularly in my writing, my cooking and my make up. The point is, there was nothing wrong with my goal to become more creative, I just needed to realise there was more than one way to find my creative mojo.

Sometimes, I think being a writer is like being a Pastor's wife- you never know what part of your business is going to end up being preached about on a Sunday morning.   Anyhoo, in this week's post I'd like to share two personal experiences from my life about what to do, when you hit a bump in the road, on the way to achieving your goals.

First up, I'd like to share my adventures in that special hell, known as "diet-land". That place where you can't actually eat what you want, but instead, subsist on things you really can't stand, all in the name of losing weight. I know I'm not alone here. I have tried every diet known to woman and actually performed community service, by devising a few of my own. There are many memorable ones, but my favourite? was the Atkins diet. You're allowed all kinds of protein, but no carbs. You're also expected to do a fair bit of exercising along the way. I lasted a week. I knew it was time to stop, when I was speaking to a friend and her arm started to look like a bread roll and I wondered what it would taste like, if I just took a little bite. I'm pretty certain cannibalism was not part of the plan, but by this stage I was hallucinating about carbs and if I hadn't stopped then, it was either eat my friend's arm or the treadmill and the treadmill didn't look nearly as tasty.  I tried exercising like a mad thing, Weight Watchers, detoxing and a whole host of others. My goal was to lose weight, but I kept coming across obstacles, in the form of unsustainable diets.  In my mind, I felt sure there was one super duper diet, which would help me meet my goal and I'd never have to diet again.  Well, I came across an advert for one that I thought was just that. Imagine my surprise, annoyance and downright terror, when it turned out that it wasn't a diet, but something called 'mindful eating'. My first thought was "what is mindful eating?" Followed closely by "how am I ever going to lose weight, by eating what I want, when I'm hungry?" And lastly, "these people have stolen my money" Fast forward 7 years and I am pleased to say that I no longer diet and have given up my passport to diet-land. My goal wasn't just to lose weight (I'd managed to do that a couple of times). My real goal was to lose the weight and keep it off. The reason those diets were more like obstacles was because they couldn't help me with the second part of the goal.  So, my first two lessons are "keep trying, until you find what works for you" and "don't be afraid to re-define your goal if you need to"

The next story I'd like to share is about my business. My passion is helping women to be the best that they can be.  I found that when I told people what I do, more often than not, they would say "great, we really need that kind of help here". Unfortunately, it wasn't translating into clients.  I did what I normally would do- read some books on strategy and marketing and sought advice.  Still very slow on the client front. And then one day, I decided to go back to basics. What are my values around this business? What do I stand for? What is the reason this business exists? When I answered all these questions, my goal became crystal clear. I became a coach, in order to help women and girls , particularly those who have or who are experiencing violence and abuse. I started to wonder about the things in my business plan that didn't line up with that goal and the first place I got to, was my pricing structure.  I started to wonder whether my pricing structure was putting off women who needed my help. So, I decided to be bold and do something unusual, which is, I let the client decide the value of the service I provide. I don't know how it's going to turn out, but I'm prepared to give it a go, because achieving my goal is important to me. And that leads me to my third lesson: "don't be afraid to do something bold and out of the ordinary". People may scoff, but at the end of the day it's your goal and only you know what price you are prepared to pay to achieve it.

What do you want to achieve in 2014? What are the obstacles you see along the way? Do you need to change your goal or just how you get there? Are your goals challenging? Will they stretch you?  My mum always says " if you're going to eat a frog, eat a fat one" I use that to say, don't play it safe, when you're setting goals, set courageous ones, that will change you as you pursue them.

Would you like to turn in your passport to diet-land? Contact us through the website or call today on +234 706 335 0864 to find out about the Hungry Heart programme. If you'd like help with setting goals or dealing with an abusive relationship, then contact us through the website or on the phone as well.

Until next week, go well.