First off, thank you to the awesome people in my life. Thank you for reminding me that kindness exists every where. Thank you for lifting me up. Thank you for brightening my life every single day. Thank you for being honest & straight forward with me. Thank you to my family, friends, my mentors & colleagues. Thank you for showing me a thousand ways to love & live in every moment.
I saw this video a couple of days ago and since today is my birthday and I am stepping into 37 and staring the big 4-0 in the face – it seemed like a good time to take a look back on what has been a rather interesting journey so far.
It’s been 7 years since I started blogging. Putting my thoughts out into the open, for others to see, comment on and debate. It’s scary. Very scary. Mostly because I had this hang up on an unconscious need for approval. As life happened, I learnt that I really don’t need the approval or validation of others to be awesome.
I am a round peg in a square hole and maybe I don’t fit in because I am supposed to help create a new world. And I am – in my own little corner of the world, in my immediate sphere, I am making a difference and that’s enough. I am kind (mostly), considerate (maybe too much), empathetic (again, too much), loyal & protective (but these are things that I never want to change about myself). Most days I manage to retain a sense of humor – someday’s its more sarcastic & dry and that’s ok too.
I know in my bones that even though the night is darkest right before dawn, the sun will inevitably rise. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and all I have to do is to continue putting one foot in front of the other, to keep moving forward. I have learnt to say ‘no’, draw my boundary and roll with the punches. I know that no matter how many times I fall down, I am capable of picking myself up, dusting it off and going on.
You never know when it might be the last time you speak to someone. As I lose more people who I love, I have learnt that death can come for any of us at anytime. It’s very important to tell the people you love that you love them. Let people know when you appreciate something about them. Give others compliments – genuine, specific compliments. Let people know when who they are, and what they do for you, lifts you up.
Love with gusto. I don’t get how people can love in half measures with a generous sprinkling of caution. That’s like saying I am going to the pool but I am not going to jump in, swim around or get wet in anyway. If you are going to love something, love with all your heart. I consider myself very lucky to have incredible people in my life, who care for me and show me that in a thousand ways.
Half measures & half-hearted efforts yield mediocre results. To cultivate high quality relationships takes time (sometimes years), sincere effort, devotion, honesty, integrity and most of all genuine kindness. You can’t do any of this in half measures, whether it’s your work or your people, give a 100% and more. Let go of attachment to results. The destination is important but it’s more important to enjoy the journey.
Be Grateful, cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Give more than you get, spread kindness, happiness – the world will always need more of that. When someone helps you out, thank them. Smile at someone who isn’t smiling today. Say good morning, thank you, ask how are you & really listen to their answer. Sometimes we all need a ear and a shoulder for support.
Life isn’t black or white. Choices aren’t straight forward. Decisions shouldn’t be rigid. Be prepared to change as things changed. If you are stuck in a position, take a break. Breathe, walk, come back later with a cooler head. More often than not, I find that it makes me more willing to take a look at the opposing perspective. No one is all good, all bad, no decision or action is a person in their entirety.
Bad things happen to good people all the time. And that’s ok too. Being hung up on good, bad, fair, unfair only creates discontent and dissatisfaction. Take life as it comes, instead of resisting, flow the way water flows around a boulder on a river. Death isn’t fair and sometimes it takes the one’s who are too young or too loved.
If you let people screw you over more than twice, then I am sorry but you really are a moron. And I have been moronic – too trusting, too giving, too sympathetic, too forgiving. Funny thing is, I don’t think I lost anything. I gained lessons. I learnt to lose people and sometimes to kick off the one’s that hang on and suck my soul dry. I am ok with living somewhere in the shades of gray but I know now that some things can never be compromised on. I have a better idea of what my ‘deal breakers’ are.
Success is mostly hard work, with a tiny sprinkling of luck. The harder you work, the more your luck improves. However, there IS a big difference between being smart, working smart and just being hard-working. Sometimes the lazy way to get things done, really is the best way, it leaves one with more time to do other things.
Be open to new things. It really is amazing to stay open to new opportunities, adventures, places, people, culture, food, experience. Test your boundaries – life begins at the end of your comfort zone. Be alive while you are still living. My places to see and things to do list is ever-expanding. At this rate I have given up on any hope of being able to tick it all off. However, every time I do tick off something, I do my victory dance – the cross between my chicken dance and pointy dance. Find your rhythm and do your funky dance, celebrate your victories & success, celebrate people & their kindness.
I have learnt the value of quality over quantity. It doesn’t matter whether it’s clothes, shoes, handbags or relationships. It’s better to have few very good friends, who lift you up, sing you the song of your soul when you have forgotten it. Then to have hundreds of friends whom you rarely, interact with. Small talk is over-rated. Don’t change yourself to fit with others. You are an original and it’s worth more than a copy. So be you, be awesome, be totally weird!
Commit to things but make sure that they are really what you need. We tend to confuse our wants with needs. I want a knight in shining armor who will ride off into the sunset with me, so we can have a house in the country with white picket fence and 2.5 kids. What I need is someone who will let me be the monk who meditates for a month in a remote mountain in solitude. Or go off in a grand adventure around the world with my friends. See the difference? Huge! What I think I want is what I have grown up with in fairy tales and the social expectations heaped on me. What I need is what my soul demands, the wanderlust in me who begs to be set free.
Don’t listen to other people’s advice, nobody knows what they are doing. People mean well – at least sometimes they really do. But if I wanted to run like the wind, I wouldn’t go to a turtle for advice. We are unique human beings and each one of us dreams of something very different from the others. If you listen to other people, they’ll either tell you what they have done, what has worked for them, or how you should or shouldn’t do what you want to do. So if you are going to take advice, better make sure that the people who advice you ARE where you want to be.
Avoid toxicity – at all cost – in everything. You only have one life to live, one body to live in, one mind that will be with you for the rest of your life. So be kind to yourself, to your body, your mind. Avoid toxic people, junk food, negative thoughts. They take out more than they put in and in the end, it’s really not worth it. Cut out the crap, exercise, meditate, take long walks in nature, hold hands and hug your loved one’s.
The only person you should be competing with is yourself. Don’t compare yourself to others. You don’t really know what they are going through. Also, you may not really want their life if you knew. What others have to say about you is none of your business – it’s a reflection of them, not you. Also what others do is none of your business unless it has direct negative impact on you (like a physical threat). In which case – hit first, hit hard, neutralize the threat and remove yourself from the situation.
Discard labels. Tags and labels are for stuff – clothes, shoes, bags, accessories. Not human beings. Do not allow others to label you – beautiful, smart, stupid or whatever. Good or bad – your life’s narrative is your own. You decide how you want to write it and do it your own way. If you don’t, others will. Choose your words wisely – the way you describe yourself – verbally out loud or silently within your own head – is what you project out into the world.
If you are stuck, keep hammering at the door to new opportunities. If it stays closed, then sneak in through the window. The only one who can really help yourself or change your life for the better is you. Pick your heroes and mentors carefully, they do shape who you become but even they can only show you the door, the decision to walk through is exclusively yours.
Be awesome, be kind, charity starts with yourself and in your own home. Be the best version of yourself. Be your own best friend. Learn to love your life and be comfortable in your own skin. Believe in yourself and stop being your own worst critic.
Most of us start off exercise routines at the beginning of a New Year and then we struggle to hold on to it. We struggle to make space in our hectic lives for exercises, other things take over our priorities. So if you are like most people – chances are … you fell off the bandwagon. You skipped a few days, maybe even a few weeks and then hopefully you got back to it.
One way to get the most out of any exercise routine is to do it in short intense routines. In case of yoga, that means you hold your poses just a little bit longer. Now if you are struggling to hold your poses, then THIS is just the right thing for you.
Follow this link to see more: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/565483296939369401/
So at some point in time or other, we all get these body image issues. Too fat, too thin, not enough boob, too much boob, jiggling in the wrong places … you name it, either you got it or someone you know does. What doesn’t help is the media portrayal of women who just look too damn perfect! Perfect skin, hair, make-up, figure.. everything is just too perfect!
It’s enough to cause bulimia and anorexia in teenagers. It’s enough to cause any women, regardless of age, body-image issues. In fact, if we could take our mental picture of us and compare that side by side to how others see us… we would be startled at how beautiful people think we are and just how critical we are of our flaws – real or imagined.
Everyone has some feature that others envy. Trust me! Sadly, I have yet to meet a woman/girl/teenager who thought they were perfect the way they are. What does that tell us? So here’s a ted talk from someone who is PERFECT! really! she is! She’s smart, beautiful and has a rocking body. She’s been a model for 10 years now. She’s literally admitting her privilege and pointing out both the biases and superficiality of the fashion industry (which can severely affect the body and beauty image of young girls everywhere) and the way people judge others based solely on physical appearance (RACE, gender, weight, hair color etc).
The first part to fixing a problem is letting it be known – in this case that happens to be that ‘LOOKS’ aren’t everything 🙂
And here’s a talk that shows the surprising impacts of low body and image confidence—from lower grade point averages to greater risk-taking with drugs and alcohol. And then shares the keys things all of us can do to disrupt this reality.
This post is related to another one I wrote on girls & images: Caught in between lies & half-truths.
Let’s face it, it’s been about 8/9 weeks since your new year resolution to work on a healthier, skinnier you… and now your motivation is waning. Gym is boring. Food is interesting. You are cheating… with yourself.
“Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.” – Dalai Lama
Fact is most of us will not realize the value of good health until our body or mind or both quits on us.
In our hyper-active, hyper-connected modern life, we are so busy being busy that finding the time and energy to exercise, eat right, engage in activities that reduce the inevitable stress that arises from such a hectic lifestyle should be a top priority in ALL of our lives.
So what can you do when you don’t have time to take care of yourself? Here’s a short list which you can customize and adapt to your own routine. Six non-sweat easy tips and One that encourages you to sweat it out 😉
First thing in the morning when you open your eyes, in the space before thoughts invade and the to-do list in your head starts ticking. Stop. Breathe. Practice gratitude.
Be grateful that you are alive.
In your bed and not a hospital.
Be grateful for being able to breathe without assistance.
Some days I am so depressed that I find it difficult to find things to be grateful for. Yet I know that I am incredibly blessed. So on my bleak days, I decide to be grateful for little things, like breathing, reading, books, the fact that I can walk without pain or that I still have all of my teeth. Whatever floats your boat… just find something to be grateful for and sincerely concentrate on that blessing.
Take a few minutes and meditate. There are many ways to meditate. You can chant, concentrate, visualize, play the singing bowl, flute or a guided meditation CD … whichever method works for you. Again, if you are not the kind that can sit cross-legged on the floor with your hands on your knees, don’t. If walking on the grass in the backyard works for you, do.
Meditating is about centering yourself. Connecting to the here and now. To be present. It’s the deepest part of you that remains unruffled through the storm of life. It stores your energy, your resilience. Connect and appreciate yourself.
You can create a daily routine to help get yourself into the mindset to meditate or you can take a few minutes through out the day to practice it as you need it. It’s like taking a smoke-break for smokers. Instead of getting off your desk to go smoke, you take a few minutes to breathe and center your mind.
When you cheat on your diet or worry obsessively or simply don’t get around to doing any of the above… don’t worry .. there’s still something that you can do to keep yourself healthy. You can sleep. Not the tossing & turning kind of sleep but a real good night’s sleep. Empty your bedroom of all electronic devices, specifically the TV and make it the kind of haven that you need to truly relax in. If darkness is your thing, install double blinds or get a light blinder for yourself. If you are a light sleeper, put on some white noise to reduce outside interruptions to your sleep cycle. Whatever else you might cheat on… don’t cheat yourself from getting a good night’s rest. Make it routine & a habit to go to bed at a fixed time. Cheating throughout the week and making up for it by sleeping in on the weekend, doesn’t work.
No matter how blue I am .. I usually feel a whole lot better after I have managed to get a good snooze. It has helped me hang on to my sanity on days I want to blow my top 😉
Hug the person next to you. Hug before you leave home. Hug when you get home. Hug your colleagues if you share that kind of relationship. Hug your friends when you see them. A 20 second hug releases oxytocin, nature’s anti-depressant and anti-anxiety hormone.
Find something to laugh about throughout the day. If not a belly laughter at least smile through out the day, even when you don’t feel like it. Try it. You can’t smile and hold on to anger, depression, anxiety, stress. It’s just not possible. The physical effect of putting on a smile or laughing, transforms negative emotions & releases happy hormones. So go on .. laugh at yourself, or if all fails, laugh at all the cute animal videos on YouTube 😉
Write it out:
Put aside 20 minutes at the end of the day, sit down comfortably and write. Don’t think about what to write or how to write. Just write. Whatever is on your mind. Forget about spellings and grammatical errors. Suspend that grammar nazi in you. Just write.
Write about whatever is running through your head. Whatever is clouding your emotions. Whatever is nagging at the back of your mind that keeps you up tossing and turning. Take up a pen and paper and write it out.
Get moving and feel that blood flowing through your veins. If working out at the gym is not your thing, try a different activity … yoga, competitive sport, dancing, start walking to the store, running to your chores, parking farthest at the parking lot…. if nothing else, walk back home from work, at least part of the way. Again, whatever floats your boat, as long as you are being active for at least 20 minutes every day, the kind of active that raises your heart beat.
So time to get on that band-wagon of new year resolution to achieve a healthier you. If you are tired of sweating it out without seeing some results that motivate you to continue… I suggest practicing the first six tips vigorously 😉
I know I am.
I have been too busy to get enough sleep and since I can’t sleep, I either lack appetite or I just eat because I have to and I eat whatever I can get my hands. Now that’s the worst kind of disservice really that I can do to myself.
I have been too busy running from office to university. Too busy keeping up with work and assignments to focus on quality. Too busy to pay attention to the fact that half the year has already gone by and I am suddenly faced with the realization that I have only six more months to go before the year is over.
I have been too busy.
You know I am starting to hate that… being too busy. I want to be ‘not busy’, not running to class or to work or to keep up with some other commitment which I had made. I long for days like today, when I can wake up in the morning knowing that this day can be anything I make of it because all the hours in it are mine. I can read, write, nap, meditate, listen to music, engage in some self-love to revitalize myself. Days like this … I finally have time to improve Me … my thoughts, my life, my health. To concentrate on who I am and who I want to be, to evaluate whether or not I am in the right road for it.
These past few months have also taught me humility. I am a nerd who has trouble accepting anything less than A grade on my papers. My grades are in par with full-time students, youngsters who are not worrying about paying tuition, mortgage or getting forward in a career that spans nearly 2 decades. In my striving to hold on to A grades, I have stressed, worried and freaked over papers, assignments and never-ending exams. In moments of despair, I have thought of a blind guy in my class and asked myself if he can do it, why can’t I?
While all this striving undoubtedly expands my horizon, it has also taken away the joy I had in learning. And days like today I realize that it is not my commitment that I have to change, it is my attitude to my commitments that I have to change. I have to learn to be ok with getting something less than A on my grades, I have to reconnect to life on a higher level than this to truly enjoy each day to its fullest.
And I think it’s high time to book my next holiday 😉
I know I came home last year from a field visit to one of our projects out in the Char areas and I quit complaining about water shortage. When I don’t have water coming out of the taps, I know that it’s only because someone forgot to turn on the pump that will fill in the overhead tank.
I quit complaining when there were ‘too’ many electricity outages, at least I know that it will be back in hour.
I quit complaining when I had to travel through hot streets in the summer, I know that I will be in the office, cooled by an AC within an hour.
Every time I even thought of complaining, I thought of all the women I had met. Women who walk for miles to collect drinking water for their families. All the people who live without electricity and all the gadgets for convenience that it brings. I thought of the heat in the char, the sun on top and the sand beneath my feet. Day after day, year after year, families survive harsh conditions like these.
Me, I had first world problems, that are not problems. So I quit complaining and started doing more of what I can do to help solve these problems for the millions of people whom I may never ever meet.
Do your part – we can all make a difference.
This is probably going to become a series on its own right. Every day I see so many people who are facing their battles. These are battles we don’t see from the outside. What goes on inside is way too deep to understand from the outside looking in. Yet, everyday, I salute these women and their courage.
Deborah Cohan is an Ob/Gyn and mom of two. A career woman with 2 children – that is hard enough in itself. But she’s also fighting her battle with breast cancer. Facing a double mastectomy with grace takes courage. Facing one with courage and joy is extraordinary. Deb and her medical team went into the OR for her surgery and just minutes before the surgery itself, the whole team breaks out in an impromptu dance 🙂 What better way to create positive energy for the operation that will take hours to complete? 🙂 In her website, Deb has asked for her fans to make dance videos of themselves and email it to her so that she has more positive energy to uplift her during her recovery 🙂
I could not think of a better example than Deborah to start off my series on “Face of Courage” 😀
You can support Deborah here:
Cancer doesn’t just strip the body, it strips the mind too. When it ravages lives, it takes away everything that people use to define themselves – their looks, body, strength, jobs, careers, families, marriages. These are tolls on a person that you cannot see from the outside, you cannot heal that wound with medicine. To lose everything, to have to redefine your entire existence… I don’t have the words to describe what that is like.
Next time you see someone who is fighting cancer, give them a hug. Make it a point to visit with them. Share your ups and downs with them. Don’t be so frightened that unknowingly you exclude them from your life. Embrace them on this journey and show them how much they are loved just by being there with them 🙂
p.s. I highly recommend watching the movie 50/50, simply beautiful!
- Celebrate life! Going in for double mastectomy, she dances (lilyreed.wordpress.com)
- Day 1: Courage (serenityinspired.wordpress.com)
- Is Preventative Surgery the Answer to Breast Cancer? (epicahealth.com)
Letters are an intensely personal form of communication that is becoming rare in our times. We don’t take a pen to paper anymore, we email, text or blog. Yet the romance and permanence of letters persist.
As part of my daily dose of positivity, I subscribe to the “Mountainwings”. Its written by a pastor who runs a business, a church and is a full-fledged family man on the other side of the world. So why do I subscribe to a daily dose from a man of God of another religion? Because wisdom, spirituality, truth, generosity, respect transcends every thing else. In today’s issue he posted a letter written by his brother to his children. A father’s letter to his children who shared it with the rest of his siblings and their children and which the pastor saw fit to share with his subscribers to the Mountainwings. I wish someone had written that letter to me. I wish I had written that letter. This is one of those timeless, ageless pieces with the kind of advice that everyone needs. So I share it here with you, hope you find it as beautiful and as useful as I do. A beacon of light, through this life’s turbulence.
------------------------------------------------- MountainWings A MountainWings Moment #13196 Wings Over The Mountains of Life ------------------------------------------------- A Letter From Father ====================== This is a letter that my brother, Bishop Dale Bronner shared with his brothers and children. I asked him could I share it with the MountainWings readers. You may have seen his twin daughters recently in the national news as the first twin college valedictorians. Both had perfect 4.0s. Below is a letter that I recently sent to all my children. If you find something useable in it to share with your children, please feel free to do so! Here is my letter to them: Beloved Sons and Daughters, This is a letter to all my children - Marquis and Dalina, Luis and Neiel, Kirstie, Kristie, and Dale. I want you to know that you mean the world to me! Your life, with your unique gift sets, is a blessing to me and to everyone who has the pleasure of meeting you. As Dad, it has been a joy to pour into your life. I often wish we could go back and re-live some of our great experiences together, but life marches steadily onward! I am proud of who you are and who you are becoming! My desire for you is that you are always content but never complacent! Success and happiness are never an accident. They are honestly the result of intentional living. You reap the harvest in your future of the seeds you sow in your present! You've heard me say before that victory does not come in a day, it comes daily! The key to success is always found in your daily routine! The key to focus is simply knowing what to say "NO" to. So don't be driven by your problems, be led by your dreams! Mohammed Ali said, "Champions are not made in the gym... they have deep inside them - a desire, a dream, a vision." I want you to never forget that your destiny is ultimately determined by your decisions. Your decisions determine your CHARACTER, CONDUCT and DESTINY! With that in mind, I want to give you part of my greatest gift from God-- my WISDOM. Here is a short list of some things that will give you a tremendous advantage over others, if you endeavor to put these concepts into practice on a daily basis. These simple ideas will take your life to another level! Meditate on these and incorporate them into your life to make you an even more exceptional person: . Spend daily time in personal devotion to God-prayer, Bible reading, singing in worship. . Spend 30 minutes every day reading for self-improvement. Almost nobody does this. The ones who do are called rich people. . Don't watch more than an hour of TV every day. Why watch other people's lives on TV when your lives are far more important? . Don't spend more than 30 minutes a day on Facebook or Twitter or other Social Media/Internet sites, unless it's career-related. . Call everyone you know and want to maintain relationship with at least once every three months just to say hello. Call everyone who is meaningful to you on their birthday and call everyone who matters to you whenever they experience a life event. . Relationships are everything in life. Develop and grow only those relationships with people who are positive, happy, godly, upbeat and focused and avoid those who are negative, depressed and lack direction in life. Remember like attracts like. If you want to be godly and successful hang around godly, successful people. . Exercise every day. Make sure to include 20 - 30 minutes of aerobic exercise in with your routine. Aerobic exercise feeds your brain with oxygen, gets your metabolism going and keeps the weight off. . Volunteer at least 5 hours a month for some cause you believe in. You'll not only be helping people but you will also develop strong, long-lasting relationships with good people. . Watch what you eat. Don't eat more than 300 junk food calories a day. . Save 20% of your net pay and live off the remaining 80%. This forces you to live below your means. . Avoid accumulating any credit card debt. If you are then this means you are living above your means and you have to cut back. . Avoid negative addictive behaviors and substances. . Remember the 5:1 Rule. Listen for 5 minutes for every 1 minute you talk. . Filter every thought you have before it comes out of your mouth. Saying whatever is on your mind is a lack of self-control. . Control your thoughts. Thoughts become things. If you have positive, upbeat thoughts your life will mirror your thoughts. Do not let negative thoughts or sad thoughts into your mind. Cancel them out and replace them with positive, upbeat thoughts. Use daily affirmations to control your thinking. . Don't beat yourself up over mistakes you make. Mistakes are good. They are the foundation upon which success is built. The only thing you need to remember about your mistakes are what you did wrong so you don't repeat the same mistake twice. Remember, you WIN some and you LEARN some; you never LOSE until you fail to LEARN! . Control your emotions. Never lose your temper. Anger is a negative habit that opens the door to Satan. . Be thankful for what you have. Every day look back on the previous day and think of 5 things for which you are grateful. This creates a bridge over which future blessings will be brought into your life! Gratitude is the greatest deterrent to unhealthy personal pride. . Don't confuse a wish with a goal. A goal is only a goal if it is 100% achievable and requires action or some physical activity. Otherwise it's just a wish. Always have at least 1 major goal you are working towards each year. . Don't gamble. Gambling is a poverty habit. . Listen to audio books when you're commuting or exercising. . Don't gossip. Gossip is negative and entertains an evil report about others. Remember never to advertise anyone else's sins any more than you would advertise your own! Do these things and watch the difference they will make in your life! It's doing the little things in life that makes the big difference! I believe in you! Go to your destiny! Love, Dad ~A MountainWings Original by Bishop Dale C. Bronner~
- A Love Letter To The African Woman (elleafrique.com)
- Gratitude (seizuresara.wordpress.com)
- love letter (joysweet.wordpress.com)
- Writing Thank-You Letters Shown To Improve Mood, Decrease Depressive Symptoms (morehappy.me)
- Now This Is Romance Done Right (howaboutwe.com)
- 3 Reasons To Write More Letters (thoughtcatalog.com)