You Don’t Have to Lose

I’ve been on the losing end of far too many relationships, and for the longest time, I thought they owed me what I deserve. I have since learned that you have to earn it.

The only twist to this story, is that you don’t earn what you deserve by going out of your way to please the other person/party, or reducing yourself to near nothing in trying to keep their attention on yourself or earn favours. I’m sure you’ve come across the saying that “the person who wields power in the relationship is often the one who cares less”.

From experience, I have learned that it isn’t that they care less really; unless they just aren’t into you, but the truth is they have a real identity away from you, while you have built your world around them. You have to be firm in who you are and what you represent, if you want to be accorded what you say you want and deserve.

Be firm in the sense that, away from the other person or party, you have an identity of your own. You have a strong belief system in yourself. You have a vision for yourself and your life. You have clear principles that cut across all aspects of your life consistently. And this person represents what will help you achieve what you’re working towards. That way, they will feel valued and have a reason to come back to you. Who wouldn’t want to add glitters to someone’s life, and be acknowledged for it?

This cuts across all types of relationships. Corporate(work) relationships, intimate relationships, friendships and family. In all these, there is always someone in charge. The other person, you’ll often find, has less to bring to the table. They’ve either been misguided to think that doing extra for the other party will earn you favour from them, or they are just ignorant that they are doing everything wrong.

At home, and for the longest time, I was always at odds with my immediate family, not because they don’t love me and I them, but because ultimately, I had less to offer. In the long run, I always felt disliked by them and that they didn’t really care for me. I didn’t feel like they “heard” me. The validation I so desired from them, and maybe even deserved, just wasn’t coming my way. Well, now I know, they were only being human.

It wasn’t until I took a step back and cut myself off to reflect on me, that I started having honest conversations with some of them and actually feel “heard”. Because of how long it had been going on, I had to completely shut off. They didn’t take it well, at first, and maybe still don’t appreciate it but the healing I am experiencing is far more than I knew I needed.

Away from the pressure of having to prove myself, I’m discovering that the answer has always been in having an identity of my own. When they don’t see what you stand for, they will label you anything they want, knowingly or unknowingly, which will always cause conflict.

In the corporate world, we often behave the same way. After all, CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME, right?? We walk into the workplace like it owes us a living. In actual sense, we ought to earn it through our contribution. What do you bring to the table?

In a corporate training I attended earlier this year, the facilitator made an illustration using a venn diagram. See below;

A = Personal development goals.

B = Organisational development goals.

AnB = where the two meet and exchange value

Your personal development goals have to be clear, therefore, if you are to be deserving of anything from the organisation you work with. They have to see what you bring to the table. Away from the learned skills, what attributes do you possess as a person? What goals do you have for yourself and where does the organisation fit in helping you get closer to achieving them? You have to be firm with this, lest you will be thrown off balance and start acting like the world owes you a life.

I’m now learning that this is even more important if you’re going to lead a life of self employment or freelancing.

When you understand this, you will clearly see where you stand and save both your time and that of the other party or person. I had this realisation with my most recent employer, and it ached my heart to stay where I knew I could no longer contribute adequately. This led to a number of honest conversations with my employer and eventually a mutual agreement that it was time for me to move on. I’m grateful that I found this out in time, because it would have hurt to burn that bridge. Now I am at at peace knowing I have family there, forever. We’ll always celebrate the milestones whose foundation I contributed to. I’m proud.

Now with fellow humans, its the most disheartening of all. Our “expectations” metre is too high that we keep falling and crashing so badly, breeding unnecessary resentment and hatred that would have otherwise been avoided. For some people, being without a romantic relationship is unacceptable. The people around us aren’t any help, they demand a spouse like it’s your sole purpose on earth. None of them ever pauses to assess if you are truly ready for such a long term commitment, in terms of what attributes have been groomed in you which will help you build and nurture a healthy relationship long term.

I’ve learned that when you do not know who you are and where you’re going, it’s often hard to relate with another, because they won’t add value to your life nor you to theirs. What this leads to, is a weariness in your spirit because you feel like you’re giving too much and not getting back what you think you should. Or things are plain not working out between you. Expectations will be unrealistic and you’ll be incapable of commitment.

This is where I call upon all of us to reflect. Single or married, we all need to pause and think about where we are in our relationships. Are you happy? This is a personal responsibility, by the way, no one else can make you happy. And if you’re not, why? Where did you go off track? What did you do? What didn’t you do?

Most often, you’ll find that what you didn’t do is to define who you are and what you stand for and what what you really want. Principles, goals and dreams, gifts and talents, attributes. These then help you be deliberate about who you journey with going forward. If it’s marriage, what kind of person do you need to help you achieve what you’re working towards long term? Do you need an encourager? A social person? A more laid back person to counter your hyped nature? Someone with tighter financial principles since you tend to carelessly spend? Who do you need?

And most importantly, what are their goals and dreams, gifts and talents, principles and attributes? Where do you fit in their life and will help them achieve their own goals?

If we keep approaching relationships for the sole purpose of being married, we’ll have even more broken people than we can help. What’s happening is that everyone is busy chasing what they don’t really know in the name of survival, that they aren’t helping the younger generation (their children) to live purposefully and avoid chasing the wind in the future. The more wind chasers we have, the more our nation fails us.

This has contributed a lot to an increase in mental health cases like depression. It all starts with us, then we can help another.

I’ve since resolved to be clear about who I am and where I am going, in order to attract only the people that will help me go farther on this journey, as opposed to sitting in the corner whining about what’s not manifesting in my life. I want that person in the corner with me to be a genuine friend, who will help me ask the right questions and find answers to them, so that in the end, I have a progressive life. And I, too, will be that friend for them. I’m grateful for my special people, they haven’t let me off the hook, and I am better now, thanks to their support.

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed in the workplace, re-assess. The organisation you’re working for won’t think twice about letting you go if they are the first to see that you aren’t adding value. It’s the worst feeling being fired or asked to resign over performance issues. Do yourself a favour, figure this out asap, and take the next best move forward, before you start taking shortcuts that will ruin your reputation. Sit down and list your personal development goals, review your appointment letter and the company manual to remind yourself of the company’s development goals, where do you sync? That intersection is where your value addition is. Both to the organisation and the organisation to you. Be clear.

If it’s family, yes, they too are a relationship and you can take a break. Clearly state why you will be emotionally unavailable. This may be hard if you are the family provider (dad and mum) but it’s important for them if you are in your best shape. What will it benefit them if you crumble and can’t meet their needs anymore? You have to take care of yourself as much as you take care of them. You need “Me time” everyday to re-assess and re-align yourself to benefit everyone.

Friendships are very critical. We have seen friends who tear each other down when something goes sour between them, huh! Clearly, some things were not clarified in the beginning, otherwise, there would be more understanding and compassion. So yes, dig through this list too. Some people are better off as acquaintances, valuable only when you need each other. Otherwise, steer clear. Better safe than sorry.

Then the jackpot; romantic relationships. Let’s save ourselves the heartaches. It’s disheartening reading posts like “Ladies, men are using us as booty call” or “Women today are corporate prostitutes”. We can do better by ourselves. You don’t need a boyfriend/girlfriend to survive. You can actually be single and fulfilled. And while you look for the one you will share your life with and build a family with, have clarity of the journey ahead. Be deliberate to find that person whose life you can add value to and who will add value to yours. It’s frustrating when year in, year out, nothing is improving in your lives. Then you’ll start blaming your partner for all that’s not working or worse, start looking for it in someone else, at the expense of your own relationship/marriage. Even more, you will feel like you’re doing too much for the relationship and the other person is taking you for granted. You can turn things around if you really want it. Define who you are away from your partner. That’s where your power lies.

When you have an identity of your own, you will know what you can and won’t tolerate in the other person, thereby earning the respect and commitment you deserve.

When you have a clear vision of where you are going, you will ably find the help you need and understand your partner’s shortcomings and how to fill in the gaps, that way saving yourself the frustration of feeling stuck and unsupported by them.
When you understand your personal development goals versus the other person’s, you will not enter an undefined relationship that will waste your time. Many have been left after so many years of dating and they feel betrayed. That says you didn’t pay attention in the first place. You ignored the signs. I’ve been here, and boy, does it suck. We now know better.

I’m still learning. I’m still making mistakes. I’m human and my needs still influence my choices, many times I still fail on this journey. But we push through it all and never give up this self improvement task.

Never stop learning because life never stops teaching.

#BreakingLymyts #Soar

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Take Care of Yourself

One of my loving brothers, Lwanga, shared this inspiring message on his Facebook page last Sunday and I just had to share it.

The grey zone he talks about is one of those things I have been struggling with lately and his advice couldn’t be more timely.

Everyday is a new day, with new opportunities but we often give “this moment” less credit and attention than it deserves. We waste a lot of time on needless thoughts and things.

So, while you tell your dear ones or are told by them, to take care of yourself, what does it really mean?

Here is what he says;

Hi!

We often end emails and letters with “take care of yourself!”.

This is a kind and loving wish.

But it can sometimes be difficult to know how to take care of yourself in a smart and practical way.

So this Sunday I’d like to simply share two of the most powerful and useful tips that have helped me to take care of myself in the past few years.

I hope they will help you to make this an autumn of self-kindness.

1. Stay away from the grey zone.

When you get stuck in thinking and worrying about your job when you are at home or your private life when you are at work, then you are stuck in the grey zone.

And as you may have noticed in your own life, it can be a very destructive mental habit.

It robs you of so much energy and creates huge amounts of stress and worry.

It can leave you so unfocused that you cannot do your work well or spend quality time – time when you are mentally 100% present – with the people closest to you.

I have had quite a bit of trouble with this in the past and what works best for me to stay out of this mental zone is to set up very firm limits.

* To take a 10 minute break for every 50 minutes that I work.

* To not work after 7 o’clock in the evenings.

* To keep my weekends work-free and disconnected. It is not easy in the beginning and if you’re like me, you’ll slip during those first weeks.

But after a while it becomes easier and easier to keep these areas and your thoughts about them separate and to keep your attention and energy focused in the right place.

2. Be your own best friend when you stumble.

When you make a mistake, fail or stumble in life then it is so easy to start beating yourself up.

When that happens this autumn, promise yourself to not fall back into this old and destructive habit.

Instead, take care of yourself by asking yourself:

How would my (encouraging) best friend/parent support me and help me in this situation?

Then do those things and talk to yourself like he or she would.

This simple habit can keep you from falling into a pit of despair and it helps you to be more constructive after the first initial pain of a mistake or failure starts to dissipate.

Have a self-kind Sunday and week!

I pray that this works for you and your dear ones as much as it has for me.

A blessed and productive week ahead.

#BreakingLymyts

Your Voice Changes Everything

We all, as children, had a big dream. That one thing that made your heart jump and your imagination run wild, really really wild. There were no limits, only endless possibilities and an even greater oblivion to what requirements there were to achieve that dream. All you knew was that it was what you wanted and it was going to happen when you grow up.

For me, that was being a great speaker. Commanding audiences, always elegantly dressed and going places. The world was at my feet, all I had to do was make my move and all would cheer me on. I saw myself on TV reading news. I saw myself on a big stage hosting a show/MC-ing. I saw myself surrounded by young enthusiastic people imparting wisdom. I was bigger than Oprah Winfrey. I was braver than Nelson Mandela.

Years later, that dream was painfully far from my reach. Not only had I since picked up so many many many don’ts and countless stereotypes, I wasn’t brave enough to dress up to that image. But I had one thing on me: a very active reading habit.

Thanks to my mother, I learned to read early and had one tool that would later work well for me in regards to getting closer to my dream. I didn’t see it over the years as a great tool but it kept my dream alive. I read a lot about people doing what I loved to do and so many other great things. If you know me, then you know that I never run out of good stories. One problem though, my audience was too small to get me to that dream, and I always consulted the wrong people.

In 2015, I was invited to a public speaking course. My first ever. I was in shock that such classes even existed. It was an amazing short course that gave my articulation more muscle with the different tools used in forming/writing a great speech/story. This was thanks to my friend Samuel Bakutana of Inspired Leaders International.

While it was an amazing and eye opening opportunity, one switch remained turned off. My writing improved greatly with the new tools given during the course, but I couldn’t comfortably take to any stage to speak. Something was still missing but I was unaware of it. I just sat on these gifts and did nothing much about it. I took the tools, but didn’t really use them beyond my pen and paper.

I later learned that that was because I didn’t have a clear Why for mastering the art. My voice had been stifled so long, I didn’t see the greatness within me. But I walked away with one thing, a renewed curiosity. A hunger to learn more.

That’s where the World Class Speakers course by Intelligence Performance International found me.

I had picked up so many stories, but was still so scared to tell them. I had better platforms and opportunities to command audiences but didn’t have the courage. I had cheerleaders but was still chained to and by numerous limiting beliefs.

Day One was daring. It wasn’t about taking to the stage, it was about me. Guided by Coach Phill Kambe, we had to dig deeper into our souls, leaving most of us uncomfortably exposed and questioning so much about who we really are and what was possible for us.

The four day course pushed us beyond our assumed limits. We confronted our biggest fears related, not only to public speaking, but life in general and did a number of very insane activities all designed to deliver our breakthroughs. It was a holistic package that helped you review each area of your life.

But what’s a breakthrough without obstacles? My biggest fear came to life during one of the practice presentations. I choked on my own words. Not even a confusing sentence could make it past my throat. All I had prepared flew out the window and I looked on at my audience in shock and fear.

The amazing team of trainers at IP International always had our backs. In moments like this, they quickly reassured you and nudged you on. I felt more encouraged than criticized. They reminded me of the basics and recovery was mine to enjoy.

The most valuable lesson in that moment was that It’s not about you, the speaker, but about your audience.

I discovered that the biggest reason we fear public speaking is because we make it about ourselves. We get sucked into our heads and forget why we took to the stage in the first place.

  • What if they don’t like me?
  • What if I make a mistake?
  • Oh, I am so fat they won’t see past my round waist.
  • Oh my shoes, my hair, my very judgmental “##” is in the audience.
  • Etc

There were no better metaphors to breakthrough this psycho bubble than breaking wooden boards and walking on fire.

Breaking thick wooden boards with our bare hands was Insanity!!!! After a great deal of preparation, I, for one, just focused on what I wanted to break through. I brought it to life in that piece of wood and summoned all the anger for the times I failed in life because of it and shot out with all my strength.

Success!!!!

I was fired up beyond description.

Then came the fire walk.

Pause!!!

This is fire, man. Hot burning coals. Who does this guy think he is????

I looked at our trainer, Phill, like he was out of his mind, and prepared all my reasons why that was impossible for me to do. I had to be exempted, you know.

All the fear came back for me. A bit of regret too about why I signed up. And….. Then I remembered the board and what I crashed with it. My hand was still in perfect shape. What’s the worst that could happen here, right?

You’re prepared. You’re in state.

(Psycho bubble) Oprah Winfrey did it. Yeah? Yes, she did, with Tony Robbins, remember? You watched her and wanted to be like her. Here’s your moment. Deep breath!!

There is no turning back. It is excellence or excellence.

Now, let me tell you about overcoming obstacles. Remember the limitless possibilities you had as a child? Now here, You, my dear, are an unstoppable force. What can fail now you after walking on fire? What is going to burn you where fire didn’t? Huh???

Tell me, what???

What I achieved attending this course equipped me to take any stage and wow the masses. You too can by visiting their website here for more information.

There was more. A special gift from the organizers, because they believe it’s pointless to have all the wealth if you don’t have the life to enjoy it. That’s how I met the phenomenal Coach Jennifer Mwangangi, the most practical Nutritionist I have ever met. It wasn’t just about food, she delved deeper and addressed one’s mental and emotional well-being, led us through a guided meditation and more. You can find out more about Licial Wellness here.

Get equipped through the World Class Speakers training.

Your voice changes everything. Speak up!

heed the call of the peacock!

Posts like this encourage me to read even more. To better tell stories, to learn and to have richer conversations. Now you know my next read. Read along friends…

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A FEW WEEKS ago as I arrived at the Pearl of Africa Hotel for the launch of ‘The Call Of The Peacock‘, I noted how gentle and professional the Special Forces Command officials were as they guided us into the celebration room.

They were markedly different from the soldiers I grew up dodging, and from the parking lot to the very entrance to the ballroom I kept thinking of the term ‘Customer Care’ and musing at how it could now be used in reference to some of the toughest soldiers on the Continent.

At the entrance, I burst into a laugh when a plainclothes officer politely asked, “Is Madame not coming?” as he inspected my card.

He knew neither “Madame” nor myself, since the card didn’t bear our actual names. But he was quite polite.

These were small signs of how things have changed in Uganda since the…

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My War Room Encounter

Life does know how to test us and  can easily cripple us till we lose sight of the goal we were aiming for. But while all that seems unfair, no one promised us a smooth journey and for this very reason, we ought to constantly recharge our faith and commitment to our journey. Problem is, many of us have forgotten the source of our faith, and have become so lost, frustrated and think we can fix it ourselves.

Two years ago, I thought I was wholly in charge of my destiny. I had a few things going for me and was in a relationship whose red flags I was so blind to because I thought ‘I got this. I know what’s best for me’. All that came to screeching halt, leaving me for dead and in the worst pain I never thought would happen to someone like me. Emotionally devastated, and physically maimed, I lost everything I prided in. Money, self-esteem, ambition and my motivation to face tomorrow. I told no one about it for a long time. I was a shamed that it happened to me, because I thought I was in control and should have foreseen all of it.

Warroom dvd

A great friend and Life Coach helped me kick start my healing journey and along the way, I stumbled upon the movie WAR ROOM, a Kendrick Brothers film. The story follows a young couple, the Jordans, who had great jobs, a beautiful daughter (Alena Pitts),  a dream house and seemed to have it all. Appearances can be deceiving, however, as husband Tony (T.C. Stallings) flirts with temptation and wife Elizabeth (Priscilla Shirer) becomes increasingly bitter, crumbling under the strain of a failing marriage. Their lives take an unexpected turn for the better when Elizabeth meets her newest client, Miss Clara (Karen Abercrombie), who encourages the couple to find happiness through prayer.

Miss Clara became my spiritual mother from that moment. I remember painfully pulling myself up to a sitting position and screaming out to the Heavens. I prayed and cried. The truth of what I had lost sinking in even deeper but this time followed with a calm wave. I did not know what it was but I felt so relieved. Loved. And in that moment, I chose to forgive. To forgive myself, but especially the one who had betrayed my trust. It had been six months of bitterness, regret and so much mental torture. I was depressed and cared for nothing else.

Karen
Karen Abercrombie’s character in War Room ‘Miss Clara’

Hearing Miss Clara explain how we face our battles with the wrong strategies, watching her use the lukewarm coffee metaphor to illustrate how we have taken our creator, provider and protector for granted was a wake up call. That day, how I face life changed. Along the way, I have constantly fallen back into the old routine and approach to life but the Grace of God never fails. He litters reminders along your path, and always makes sure you aren’t completely lost.

I was raised Catholic, and I am deeply rooted in my faith. My mother is one of the most faithful and committed women I know. I have always admired her relationship with God and wanted to have a piece of it but reality is, it’s a personal relationship and I had to forge my own with God. But many times, I have felt incapable of being that good a daughter to Him. With these doubts in my mind and heart, I went to attend a Christian Women’s gathering in Ntinda yesterday. The special guest, we were told, was one of the leading actresses in War Room, but I didn’t know who.

Funny part is, I had totally forgotten about this meeting. On Saturday I usually sleep in, but my eyes chose to open at 6:00AM. I honestly tried to sleep again but couldn’t. Moments later I pick up my phone and checked my messages. Then a message (about the War Room star) from one Inspired Leader, Connie, calls to me and shoot, I was out of bed and ready to leave my apartment in under 30 minutes. Talk about excitement. But I also realized I did not share the same with other friends, because I had forgotten about it.

The special guest was Karen Abercrombie, the lady who acted as Miss Clara, the spicy 80 year old prayer warrior in the film. It was an emotional experience. While we waited for her to join us, I listened to the testimonies of other women, whom the War Room experience has touched. It was hard maintaining my composure as these faithful women shared some painful experiences and how the power of prayer helped them through. And then our guest took to the stage and swept us off our feet with her own testimony. She shared her life and how the movie role came to be hers to play.

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Karen and I

Patience, unshaken faith and unceasing prayer are the best way I can summarize her life experience thus far. Did I forget dramatic? Oooh she is animated, with a very striking personality, very warm to others and she was blessing everyone she met. Being me, I knew that was my moment to make sense of some experiences and generous she was, helping me look beyond my human incapacity unto Him who sees all, knows all and still loves me unconditionally.

Everyone needs a Miss Clara in their life, because we very easily think we can control every aspect of life yet in truth we can’t handle it all on our own. I bet she didn’t know how many people she would touch worldwide, when she took up the role. But I know she prayed that every woman be reminded of God’s infinite providence through the lessons imparted in the movie.

I am one of those she inspired. Meeting her in person was a privilege and left an impression on my soul.

 

See Thy Intentions

I won’t see your intentions, but I will remember your actions. – Maria Natknda

I’ve been having a little feud going on for a while with people really close to my heart. They meant well, but their actions communicated the opposite for me. While they expected me to read their intentions and thereby justify what they did, they didn’t realize that those little actions would be misread, which caused a silent rift between us. Well, saying NO would have had my own intentions misread anyhow.

A recent conversation with one of them didn’t really change what I felt all together, but it got me thinking because one of the key things emphasized all through, was that they meant well. I also mean well dears, by keeping to myself awhile because it’s the best way I can repair the damage. You know, to take a moment and accept what’s done, as done, and move on to the next phase where we will hold hands and talk/laugh about real issues, not only what is expected (of me especially).

I now understand what the proverb shared in a WhatsApp group recently means;

I already know that I am supposed to do what you are expecting and demanding of me, but your acting on the same is stifling. There are things in life that everyone has to step up to but they must be allowed to pick up that jacket themselves, not have it forced on to them prematurely. And when it is inevitable that they pick it up as early as life may dictate, let love be the reason behind it for them, not guilt tripping them to do it.

Guilt tripping anyone into doing something that benefits anyone but them, breeds resentment.

Many relationships, especially family, have been broken because of these unverbalized intentions, yet action is being taken. More so, in our cultural setting, it’s often the older ones imposing their decisions on the younger ones. I for one doesn’t know how to deal with that, because the experiences of my time differ enormously from those of the older ones. And until I am sure that they understand my position, most of their actions are not going sit well with me. It’s not being disobedient, your circumstances just are different from mine and therefore, the interpretation of events differs.

We look up to our elders and the last thing we want is to misunderstand them or be misunderstood by them. This means communication has to be clear and I believe it is the responsibility of the older party to establish such a relationship with the younger person, where they are confident to express themselves, as opposed to unquestionably following the directive given. But I also learned about leading forward, where you influence your senior’s actions and responses positively even as a junior. I am still learning how to effectively apply this without being disobedient. Communication is one channel, the how depends on the person you’re dealing with. Direct approach or indirect?

Might I be wrong about all this? Maybe. I have moments of guilt, feeling that my thoughts and actions are ungrateful and selfish. But how then, do I build the capacity to contribute if I don’t claim the time I need to do so?

Everyone deserves the opportunity to take care of themselves, and build their capacity to contribute to the well being of their people and society. This time should be given to them without expectations or conditions attached at the start of their life as adults (after school).

During capacity building time, the person will build networks, accumulate savings, make investments, lose some money, see and experience the world. It may take longer for some depending on their level of exposure but all in all, only when they have experienced these, will they feel obliged to share the benefits with those they love. To give back the same opportunity given them. Absence of this means there is going to come a time when they break themselves away, just to experience the freedom of being themselves. So, don’t blame the seemingly old people doing youthful things, they are just getting the courage and time to do it.

Where such time is not available, there ought to be a balance between the responsibility and self (personal) development. We can’t keep blaming the world for all we didn’t achieve. We should know or be shown that we have a choice. Making the choice shifts the burden of responsibility, while at the same time building one’s capacity.

#BreakingLymyts

Love

This is the closest I have ever come to writing about love, thanks to Muwado’s Roland for the constant nudge to pen something for Valentine’s day. It’s one of those things I am surprisingly shy about. Do not ask me ‘Why’ because I have no answer, but here I am, thinking of love in a whole new way. This I will attribute to one word-smith I encountered recently through social media and this particular Twitter post stood out for me on the eve of Valentine’s Day, 2018. It says;

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One of the deep short pieces by @iambrillyant

Now to say these words didn’t cut through to my heart would be a lie. I read and re-read these words and pondered on what he really meant. Then I watched Flicka, a 2006 movie about the Wild West and a wild horse (Mustang) that wouldn’t be tamed except by LOVE, the love of one girl. No force but love would settle this wild beast. And to crown the story, she had the following words to say;

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Kathleen McLaughlin – Flicka (2006)

“I believe there is a force in this world that lives beneath the surface, something primitive and wild that wakens when you need an extra push just to survive. Like wild forests that bloom after the fire turns a forest black.

Most people are afraid of it and keep it buried deep inside themselves. But there will always be a few people who will love what is untamed inside us.”

These two messages got me thinking about love and my ‘supposed’ experience of it and asking myself if I had ever truly appreciated what love is. Do I even know what love is? At this rate, I think not. I have mixed feelings about all this now and I am trying to work through it.

First and foremost, I acknowledge the Love of God. This love by the Lord Almighty, my true Father and source of all things true. For every moment I have pondered what a force love is, I have grown closer to Him who gives it. He has nurtured me through it all, even when I looked the other way and momentarily forgot about Him. He never blinks and never tires. Oh how many times He corrects me. I love how He reminds me that it is Him I need. And how fresh it feels to acknowledge His presence in my life. Read Proverbs 3:11-12

If you have never known the love of an earthly father, you may have nothing to compare with the heavenly Father’s love. His love is more gentle than a mother’s breast and stronger than a father’s arms at the same time. It is more intimate than a lover’s caress. It is more consistent than a child’s affection. It is agape. It is God’s love. If you could ever fathom it- His love alone would heal the aching of your broken heart. He absolutely adores you. – Bishop T.D Jakes

And as I stumbled around some more, trying to understand love as we humanly perceive it and find clarity, this post found its way to my space. It’s a conversation between Kiah McBride and Billy Chapata, whose tweet I captured earlier in this post. She asks;

Would you say this generation has a false perception of love? What’s your perception of the current state of love?

Billy: I think this generation of love is just very skewed, and it’s very misleading.

……….

… we base love on the premise of it being a feeling, and the problem with feelings is that feelings are fleeting. So if you feel happy or you feel sad, whatever the case may be, feelings are fleeting—they come and go. And the problem with basing your idea of love on the fact that it’s a feeling is that you’re also giving me (read: your loved one) the permission to just come and go as well.

“Love, in all honesty, is a choice.”

Read the full post here.

Do you now get why I am confused about this whole love affair? The hustle is real, I tell you! But in all this, and after looking back on the few relationships I have had in the name of love (count family and friends too), I believe I got it all wrong. While I so much wanted to love the other person and make them happy enough to stay, I forgot that if I didn’t love myself first, I would never be truly able to love another person. Nobody else can make me truly happy. They can contribute to feelings of joy and satisfaction but happiness is my responsibility.

More importantly, you cannot give what you don’t have. Oprah says it best; “It’s okay to be full of yourself, because it’s only when your cup is overflowing that you can be able to serve others.” You can’t keep giving from an empty place. You have to keep yourself grounded, full. This may sound selfish but I have experienced it. I am at a point where I feel tired, drained and now I know, I have been giving a lot of what I did not have. It tires you emotionally, so you have to pull back a bit and take care of you first. Give the love to yourself first.

glow of woman
Written by Billy Chapata (@iambrillyant)

My third decade just dawned and with it, Hope. I hope that I will love harder than I have ever loved. I hope that I will have someone deserving to share this love with and who will truly love me back.

My twenties were a roller-coaster ride, graced with enough bumps to summon maturity out of me, just enough to appreciate the life and experiences I have so far. And above all, to learn to love right and to never forget myself in this picture.

That said, I celebrated myself on Valentine’s day. Not by doing anything out of the ordinary, but by renewing this relationship with me, and committing to myself in a way I had never done before. Allowing myself to feel and get lost in the motions of my emotions, taking note of every moment. And so will it be all year through and beyond. Therefore, to myself I say;

love yourself
Another piece from Billy Chapata

Lastly, a few titles I will be reading as I enjoy this self love include; Billy Chapata’s Sour Honey & Soul Food, for obvious reasons and A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson because every excerpt screams ‘it’s worth a read’ and Lupita N’yongo endorsed it. I’ll leave you with a famous quote from this book.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

#BreakingLymyts