Being responsible for your own happiness

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I was reading an interview with the authors of ‘He’s just not that into you’ and the male author said the above. It reminded me of relationships I’ve had where I’ve been the personal cheer leader/careers advisor for my partner. And on the flip side I can’t expect someone to wholly fulfill me. Just a good reminder that we are responsible for our own happiness.

Reflections on 2013 & my hopes for 2014

As December ends, I start to think about the past year and my achievements. When I first thought about my 2013, I originally thought I had not achieved that much. However, a random comment on facebook (thanks Danny!) made me look at my year in review and this revealed a bigger picture of my achievements both big and small.

On New Year’s eve, I created and posted on fb a list of the key things I achieved and enjoyed in 2013:

*had an amazing new year in Bruges

After a lifetime of NYE in London, three years ago I decided to spend new year in a foreign/ new city. I have celebrated in Edinburgh, Bruges and this year Liverpool. I find being away from home psychologically helps me to feel like I am starting a new year afresh and the experience of discovering a new place makes me more positive about the coming year and what I will achieve in it.

*moved house

It seems commonplace to write about but after two months of stressful looking, in March 2013 I moved in with my landlady Julia and two cats. I have gained a new home and a new friend.

*started swimming lessons & progressed well

This is one of my biggest achievements of 2013. I am pretty much terrified of water and it took all the patience of my swimming teacher Katy to get me in the adult pool, let alone learn how to tread water and take my first stroke of swimming unaided. I now can’t believe I progressed as much as I did in such a short time and will be resuming my lessons soon.

*helped to organise a fab 30th bday for one of my oldest friends

This is a small achievement but I’m glad that I was able to have some input and contribute to one of oldest friends 30th birthday. Particularly as I was not there to celebrate in person. Knowing that she was happy and thoroughly enjoyed herself made me glad.

*travelled to Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi & Mozambique

This is my biggest achievement of 2013. Myself and Fu travelled overland from Kenya to Mozambique in 6.5 weeks, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I’ve always wanted to do some ‘proper travelling’ and see more of the motherland, but it was in July 2013 that I finally got to realise that dream and surprised myself by how much I got into backpacking. I met some lovely people in the most varied of circumstances; saw some of the most beautiful places in the world and just lived for the moment. I have definitely been bitten by the travel bug and plan to have some more adventures in 2014.

*celebrated my 31st birthday

This isn’t really an achievement, but after having some considerable angst about turning 30, I am pleased that I was able to celebrate being 31 with equanimity. (and with lots of friends, alcohol, dancing and excellent food!) I also find that I am more self aware, more committed to taking responsibility for my life and financially stable, all of which I strived for in my 20s and which I have learnt is an ongoing process.

*organised another great Black History Month event at school.

For two years I have organised and hosted a Black History Month event at my school, celebrating the achievements of those from the black diaspora and those students whose academic excellence should be celebrated. It was a great night and highlighted both of these with lots of positive feedback from parents.

*helped to set up a feminist society at school

I am a feminist. I think feminism is important and benefits both men and women. I discussed this with a like minded teacher at school and a feminist group has been started. The group have already taken part in the ‘I need feminism because’ campaign. In a world where gender stereotypes are rife and media portrayals of women often focus on their relative attractiveness, we need to give young people the tools to deal with this crap.
On New Year’s day I thought about what did I want to achieve in 2014 and how was I realistically going to achieve my goals.

My biggest commitment this year is to continue to aim for more positive mental health. I am using the term mental health deliberately because there is unnecessary stigma about the term. I started this blog because I want to become a more positive person, and what I actually meant was – I wanted to be able to see my world in a different way and be more appreciative of what I have. A change in my mind set- an improvement in my mental health. As a coach and educator, I know having a positive mind set and understanding your goals and motivations are key to achieving any goal. By having more positive mental health this will enable me to achieve all my other goals. How am I going to achieve this goal? By surrounding myself with positive & supportive people; by reading more- A road less travelled and books on mindfulness are on my reading list and by starting samba classes (Sundays @ Islington Arts Factory if you fancy it!) . Doing what you love is also a powerful motivator so I will continue to tend to my mini garden and read lots.

This brings me to one of my other goals. I recently read an interesting article about a woman who is only going to read books by writers of colour in 2014. As a black woman who reads voraciously, I am aware that whilst I have read books by writers of colour, I have never made a conscious effort to do so and so my knowledge of literature is mostly western, with the occasional foray into the literature of the country I am visiting and writers of magic realism. I have also been a bit concerned about the lack of diversity in both the characters and writers in one of my favourite genre’s- fantasy. I had a quick scan of the books I now own and this confirmed to me that whilst there was some diversity, most of my books were written by white, western authors. So inspired by the article, book suggestions found in fantasy threads and my amazon wish list, I went to the Islington library catalogue and came up with a list of books to read in 2014:

  • Coolie Woman/ Gaiutra Bahadur (Indo- Guyanese)
  • Pride of Carthage & Acacia: War with the Mein Bk. 1 / David Anthony Durham (African American)
  • The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (Inheritance Trilogy 1) / N. K. Jemisin (African American)
  • The bastard of Istanbul & The gaze / Elif Shafak (Turkish)
  • The museum of innocence : a novel / Orhan Pamuk (Turkish)
  • Fictions / Jorge Luis Borges  (Argentinian)
  • The fall of the stone city & The Palace of Dreams / Ismail Kadare (Albanian)
  • Arabian nights and days / Naguib Mahfouz (Egyptian)
  • Sugar in the blood : a family’s story of slavery and empire / Andrea Stuart (Bajan/Barbadian)
  • Witchbroom & Light falling on bamboo/ Lawrence Scott (Trinidadian)
  • When the Only Light Is Fire / Saeed Jones (African American/ LGBT)
  • The brief wondrous life of Oscar Wao & This is how you lose her / Junot Diáz (Dominican)
  • We need new names / NoViolet Bulawayo (Zimbabwean)
  • Ghana must go / Tayie Selasi ( Ghananian)
  • Sounds Like London: 100 Years of Black Music in the Capital / Lloyd Bradley (Black British)
  • Twelve Tribes of Hattie / Ayana Mathis (African American)
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God / Zora Neale Hurston (African American)

Wish me luck with my epic reading list and my quest to be a more positive, healthy person this year. I hope to have more good times with old friends and new and fit in at least one travel adventure. This will also be the year I learn to swim! Here is my final thought for what i want in 2014:

 

Resilience- how to keep on bouncing back.

resilience

Pronunciation: /rɪˈzɪlɪəns/

Definition of resilience

noun

[mass noun]

  • 1the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity:nylon is excellent in wearability, abrasion resistance and resilience
  • 2the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness:the often remarkable resilience of so many British institutions
Last October during Black History Month I gave an assembly to the Sixth Form on resilience. I used the example of Sean ‘Puffy’ Combs as an individual that had demonstrated his ability to bounce back from many a negative situation. My main point for the assembly was that during Black History Month we hear many stories of great individuals, and that all these stories are at their core about hope and resilience which is applicable to all of us, all year round.  

Recently I have been thinking a lot about resilience and how do we bounce back. I applied for role that I could contribute a lot too and that I really believed in. I had applied for this role two years ago and was unsuccessful and on the back of that went and invested in a course that would provide me with further knowledge for this role.

Nonetheless, a good interview and some feedback later, I was unsuccessful in getting this role. And this is where resilience comes in. We all know that the definition of resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties, but how do we keep bouncing back when our ego’s are bruised?

There are two ways you can help yourself to bounce back:

1. Acknowledge that this is a delay not a denial. 
I read this on a Daily Love post recently and this really struck me. I instantly felt like a weight was off my shoulders. I am experiencing a delay, and like all delays it is pretty frustrating. But a delay does not not mean you will not ever reach your final destination be it a new career, a new love interest, greater health etc. In other sphere’s of my life I remind myself ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ and I guess I need to apply this to my career dreams as well.

2. Try, try, and try again
This is the hard part. I realised that because I had been so caught up in applying and interviewing for this role and then subsequently being unsuccessful, I had also stopped taking the steps that would lead to my overall goal of getting my dream job. I need to go back to the drawing board and continue my research on social justice organisations. I need to reset my timeframe to September. And I need to continue to believe that I deserve a great job and that I will achieve one. 

Throw away your fears and continue to aim high.


Confirmation

At around 8.30am this morning, through my sleep I heard a tapping noise.

It went away. I thought:

1) Why am I so anal about sleep – then thought this needs more time and energy than i can give this morning!

2) There is a reason why I was woken up early, even though it is not apparent right now. The Universe wants me up and about.

So I sat down, checked my emails and thought about last night.

Last night I went to a coaching meet up for a talk on career change. The facilitator was great and I had some important realisations

1) Your ideas about your career and what you want to achieve moves over time

For example, in primary school I wanted to be a newsreader, by the time I was near the end of secondary school, I wanted to be a teacher or a psychologist. During my degree, I wanted to work in getting more young people into university and/ or helping the world to become a better place.  The theme of helping others in society has remained, but during my masters I thought I could achieve this by joining the civil service. 
I’ve worked in a variety of roles but my core theme of helping others and society has remained. Now I want a career that allows me to grow, make an impact on society and also pays well. 

2) Who helps you and who hindered you?

I have been very lucky in that I have always had lots of support and encouragement from teachers, friends and my parents in both my academic journey and my working career. No one has tried to hinder me.

But I have.

People in the group shared who or what had hindered their career progress- teachers, career advisors, family, risk of financial insecurity and so on. I realised that I was the only person that had held me back in my career. Its really hard to admit and I need to work on how can I make sure I no longer hold myself back.

But this was not the point of this blog post.

Confirmation is.

The facilitator last night asked the group if they believed in signs/ intuition or if they went on their gut feeling. I have a mother that sees signs in everything and after reading the The Secret and The Power, I guess I do too. At the beginning of  the session we were asked if we were coaching, i gave a half hearted answer, because to my mind, if i am coaching, i would be doing it successfully ergo I would be doing it on a regular basis and getting paid for it. (He contradicted this but that is not important here.)

Halfway through the session, I checked my phone. I had one text message, from a friend that had I had recently helped, or should i say coached for a job application. She got the job.


And that was it. Confirmation. Confirmation that I am a great coach. Confirmation that I do this well. Confirmation that if i want to, I can do more coaching and be paid for it. Confirmation that i have a very high impact rate. So far, everyone that has had a coaching session with me has made a positive change in their lives. And those that have had more than one coaching session with me have made a significant, positive change. 

So what confirmation are you looking for? What signs are you ignoring?

I’d love to hear your thoughts, please comment below. xxx

JUST LIKE STARTING OVER

Special guest post by Chiara Valente, founder L’Arabesque Events.


What happens when you realize that a part of your life is over and that you have to literally start from zero –again? When you realize that you are already 34, you’ve lost your job – a job you liked a lot – and that after many years of hard work your hands are empty, you have built nothing of importance in your life?

Let’s admit it, you feel like a real loser, there’s no better definition for those feelings than that! And that was the way I was feeling one year ago, and at the beginning it was really hard. In addition, it seemed impossible to find another job, as hard as I tried, and I was very worried about my future….
Then my sister decided to open a shop. I started wondering: “why can’t I start my own business too? Why should I keep on waiting for someone else to give me a chance, I must be my own chance!”.

So I started looking on the web and I found that there were courses to become a wedding planner. I am a true romantic, with a deep love of art so I thought: “this might be ideal for me!” My friends were very encouraging of this career move, in fact almost everyone I spoke to said “Great! It really sounds like it’s the right job for you!”.


So I attended some courses, I read many books and spent hundreds of hours searching on the internet, but theory and practice are not exactly the same thing, are they? When the moment arrived to start taking action, I felt quite helpless and the whole plan seemed too big for me. I basically knew what to do, but not how to do it… I spent most of last summer feeling discouraged and frustrated. Luckily, thanks to the help of my family and friends, who had passed the word around of my new venture, I got in touch with the managers of a wedding location, who gave me the opportunity to work with them to a couple of events.  I also found my first clients -a young couple who asked me to help planning their wedding next summer! My first customers!!! What a responsibility, but what a joy!!!


A huge amount of  help to make this change has come from the web. Not only as a simple container of information, but as the place where I found real human support and friendship! First of all Michelle, who gave me precious advice and encouragement when I needed it most. Then I found a real family in the online community created by a great wedding planner and extraordinary woman, Silvia Bargagni, aka Magnolia WP, who, in a world of people thinking only to their interests, firmly believes that cooperation, mutual help, sharing knowledge, ideas and advice are the best way to work, improve and grow… and all the wonderful and enthusiastic people she is gathering around her are the demonstration she is right! And it is surrounding myself in this positive atmosphere that brings me more serenity and the will to face with more determination the new challenges in this job and all the difficulties it implies. 

So my advice is: surround yourself with positive people, who support and help you, because the moments of fear and discouragement can always happen, but if you have the right people near you, these moments can be faced and overcome!


Chiara Valente, L’Arabesque Events Wedding Planner


PS: and if you’re wondering: “the title reminds me of one of John Lennon’s songs”… well, yes, it’s not a coincidence. 🙂

I asked Chiara to write this post as I personally found her story inspiring and as this is a space dedicated to positive change, an ideal place to share with like minded people who are not willing to settle for a unfulfilled life. Please share with us what you  think of Chiara’s journey below.

Now or Never


So in my last blog post I mentioned that I wanted to start dating. Not only has a friend generously bought several of us speed dating tickets, another friend is trying to surrepitiously introduce me to an eligible man via a group theatre visit. 

However that is not why I am posting. I am posting because this morning, when I woke up an hour before my alarm, I had some very good ideas of work I can do using my skills and passion, so I ended up feeling grateful for that tiny bout of insomnia and  thought I should post about it here. So I have.

But what really prompted me to post was reading the below article from the Escape the City blog:

Lame Excuses for Why It’s Not the Right Time to Take Your Leap

by Guest on January 7, 2013

Alexis Grant is an entrepreneurial writer and digital strategist who left her day job to pursue her own business full time. She writes about how to make your own luck in her weekly newsletter.
Post image for Lame Excuses for Why It’s Not the Right Time to Take Your LeapYou know you want to make a change — no, need to make a change. But you keep putting it off.
And while the BIG reason you put it off is probably because making a life or career change can be scary, most of us come up with more practical excuses, ones that sound reasonable when we say them out loud.
Here are three excuses you shouldn’t let hold you back, plus tips for overcoming them:

1. You’ve got too much going on

Often, that means feeling weighed down, maybe by responsibilities, maybe just by stuff. So ask yourself this: How can you simplify your life to make room for your priorities?
Don’t feel like you have to accomplish this in one weekend. Take baby steps: get rid of belongings you don’t need, cut out friends who stress you out, and look for ways to streamline and even outsource chores that take up too much of your time.
Soon, when the weight of all those responsibilities lifts — and you realize that most of those obligations are actually choices — you’ll find the guts to make a bigger change, the one you’ve been waiting on.

2. You haven’t saved enough money

If this is your lame excuse, you likely fall into one of two camps: always feeling like you don’t have enough money no matter how much you’ve saved, or truly falling into the red financially but lacking a plan for how to get out.
In either case, figure out exactly how much money you need to make your transition. Once you put a real number on it, you’ll have a concrete goal to work toward.
Then create a plan to get there. Conscious and frugal spending helps, but figuring out how to make more money is far more effective. Can you launch a side hustle? Ask for a raise at work? Use your skills to help others reach their own goals (and charge for it)?
In addition to coming up with a financial goal, set a time goal for yourself, too. When will you have as much savings as you need? What’s your self-imposed deadline?

3. You’ve put too much time and effort into the career you have now

It might feel difficult to leave if it’s taken you this long to get where you are, but the truth is, all that sweat doesn’t mean a thing if you’re not happy.
Plus, no matter what you do next, the time and effort you’ve put in so far will not go to waste. Why? Because it’s gotten you where you are now. Even if you don’t directly apply the skills that make you money now in your next job, something you’ve learned will help you succeed going forward.
Sometimes the big thing you take with you is an understanding of what you want in life. And just think, if you hadn’t toiled away at a job you didn’t like, you might never have figured that out.

One last tip for moving forward

With all this in mind, remember: It will NEVER feel like the right time. NEVER. The pieces will never ALL fall into place at once. So you’ve got to do what you can to prepare financially and emotionally, and then somehow make the rest of it work. Push through that fear to achieve your goal.

One hack that will help you get there is surrounding yourself with go-getters. Because if the people around you are taking their own leaps, that will rub off on you. It will make living the life you want feel normal, rather than a crazy stretch. You’ll begin to feel like doing awesome things with your life is the status quo, rather than being stuck in a job and city you don’t like.
So look around for the people who will help you move toward your goal, and don’t let yourself make any of these lame excuses. And soon we’ll be hearing from YOU about your escape.


THIS IS THE STORY OF MY LIFE. 
Of my lack of love life, why I havent gone abroad, why I put things off over and over again, thinking that I have plenty of time to do things, when in fact time goes pretty quickly given that its now 10 years ago that I started university AND the babies I held in my arms when I was 15 are now assertive young ladies about to turn 16. It never feels ‘right’ and so I dont do whatever it is I’m meant to do until I am so unhappy I do something drastic.

I’m going to start saving and put a deadline on where I want to be by the time I’m 31.

So no more. 

The time is now. 

Start planning, start saving and STOP waiting.

Let me know your plans!