Be who you are

For a long time I thought that being physically active is the only indicator of living life well. That I had to belong to a gym and make healthy food choices every day. If I wasn’t doing these things, then it meant I’m failing at life.

Added to this I work with some very active and healthy people. They run and cycle. Play various sports. Eat healthy. Do triathlons. Go for hikes. Climb mountains. 

I would compare myself to them and always fall short, because those things are just not my strength. Or really even something I enjoy.

Earlier this week we were having a conversation about weekend plans. Someone mentioned running a race. In the past I would have felt “bad” and justified why I don’t really participate in these type of activities. Not that day. Nope. I told them my plans were to read a book.

I jokingly compared my reading to more active hobbies during the conversation. 

Friend: “Where do you find time to read?”

Me: “Where do you find time to run? I read on the train, late at night. I find time.”

Friend: “I run in the mornings before work or after work. I wish I could read more. I just don’t have the time.”

Me: “We make time for things that matter to us. Everyone has different strengths.”

Later in the conversation…

Me: “Don’t judge me because I read. I don’t judge you because you run.”

Throughout the week I have been reflecting on this conversation. What stood out for me most was my feelings during and after.

I did not feel bad that I didn’t have weekend plans involving hikes and obstacle courses. I felt empowered when I was honest about who I am.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m no couch potato. I’ve done the Lion’s Head climb three times since last year November.

But I also enjoy relaxing with a good book.

I’m realizing that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. As long as I am happy with who I am, that’s all that matters.

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” 

Dr Seuss

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I am…

I am overwhelmed trying to be the perfect wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, employee…trying to be the perfect everything for everyone.

Some days I just want to take a break and run away screaming from it all. I just want to tell the world “Shhh!! Please leave me alone for a while.”

Those are the days, where I feel like this poem by Nayyira Waheed.

All the women.

In me.

Are tired.

But I know that I need my crazy world as much as it needs me. So I stick it out and try to remember that there are so many blessings in my life.

I remind myself that I’ve survived every “bad” day I’ve ever had.

And in the iconic words of Chaka Khan…

I’m every woman

It’s all in me

Anything you want done, baby,

I do it naturally

I am who I decide to be and I define myself. I am not defined by other people’s standards and expectations.

I am truly, madly and deeply me!

A year from now

This morning I’m standing on top of Lion’s Head, having just completed my third climb to the top.

I didn’t even have climbing Lion’s Head as one of my goals a year ago.

So much has changed in the last 365 days.

This year has taught me that nothing is guaranteed. Time. Money. Love. Life. These things all have an expiry date.

The biggest lesson? Less is always more!

When I have less priorities, I can spend my time better.

When I have less wants, I can meet my needs better.

When I have less expectations, I can be more accepting.

When I have less commitments, I can spend more time with my loved ones.

Here’s to a year filled with more memories, happiness and gratitude.

Conquering Mountains

It was a cold morning, with rain lightly falling as we made our way towards Lion’s Head in early November 2016.

By the end of the day I stood victoriously at the top. Basking in sunlight and looking out at a majestic view.

Beginning and end of the story. 

Isn’t that how we want to experience life? No struggle and difficult climb to reach our goals, just a smooth beginning that transitions to a blissful ending.

Well, most of us know that life is not that easy or uncomplicated. There is an in-between that happens, where many of us fight difficult battles.

Climbing to the top of Lion’s Head was quite an experience. Something I did not think I would ever be able to achieve. As I was doing the climb I had a few moments where I felt like stopping and not continuing. Reaching the top made all the struggles worthwhile.

The lessons I learnt during the climb are ones I can take with me into this new year.

  1. Just take the first step and it will lead to the next one, and the next one. If you don’t start, you will get nowhere.
  2. Honor your promises. Two weeks before the climb, I casually mentioned that I wanted to do a hike with my friend. We decided on Lion’s Head, setting a date and time. I thought about cancelling a few times, but did not want to let my friend down. I could have stayed home that day, but would have missed out on an amazing experience.
  3. Find a mentor. My friend had done the hike before so she was able to give me some good tips before and during the climb. She encouraged me every step of the way. I definitely would not have been able to do it on my own.
  4. Be prepared. We agreed what snacks to take with and had more than enough water. I also made sure to dress comfortably.
  5. Have fun. We laughed a lot during the hike. I was very vocal about how much I was not enjoying the experience, which made for some very interesting conversations. At one point my friend was trying to encourage me, pointing out the distance from where we’d come. Telling me to look at where the car was parked. My response, “I don’t want to see the stupid car. Its not going to help me get up the mountain.”
  6. Encourage and support others. On the way back down we walked past a group of ladies that were about to stop climbing. They had reached a point where they just could not see themselves continuing. I boldly proclaimed that I had just successfully completed the climb and that it was my first time. This seemed to give them a boost of confidence that they could also finish. We also walked past a group of people that still had quite a stretch to go before reaching the top. Noticing that their water bottle was empty, we offered them our remaining unopened water.
  7. Celebrate your success. When I reached the top my friend presented me with a medal. Totally unexpected, but so rewarding. I now have something tangible to look at and remember my achievement.

    Here’s to climbing many more mountains, while remembering…”It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves. Sir Edmund Hillary”

    Comes the Dawn

    Author: Unknown*

    After awhile you learn the subtle difference
    between holding a hand and chaining a soul
    and you learn that love doesn’t mean possession
    and company doesn’t mean security.

    And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
    and presents aren’t promises
    and you begin to accept your defeats with your head up
    and your eyes ahead
    with the grace of an adult not the grief of a child.

    And you learn to build your roads today
    because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans
    and futures have ways of falling down in mid-flight.

    After awhile you learn that even sunshine burns if you get too much
    so you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul
    instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.

    And you learn that you really can endure
    that you really are strong
    and you really do have worth
    and you learn and you learn… with every goodbye you learn.

    *I would like to attribute it to the right author, but there’s so much speculation around the true author. So I am citing the author as “Unknown“.

    Just Be…

    We spend so much time chasing goals and dreams, that we often lose sight of all the great things we already have in our lives.

    For today, I challenge you to just be present in the moment. To enjoy it for what it is. Not spending time stressing about the past or worrying about the future.

    I find that I am truly content when I am focused on the here and now. There are days when this positive mindset eludes me and I easily wallow in self pity. For a long time I would get so stuck there. In that place where I was this horrible person that deserves only the negative things in life.

    Don’t get me wrong. I know I’m not perfect and that I make mistakes, but for so long I believed I was worthy of no love or happiness. Stressing about past events that I would never be able to change. Worried about the future, even though I have no idea what will happen from one second to the next.

    My goal for today is to be fully present in each moment. 

    Blast from the past

    I just found a poem I wrote on 18.01.03

    Looking at the date now, I’m realising this was around the time I started university. Leaving my hometown for the big city. Guess I was trying to give myself a little encouragement.

    So much has changed in my life since then, but this advice from my younger self is still so relevant.

    Untitled

    You’re embarking on a journey

    What the future holds,

    is a vast ocean of possibilities.

    Sure there’ll be ups and downs

    Probably more downs than ups.

    Do me a favour:

    Stop focusing on the negative,

    even when you’re down and out.

    Be like a phoenix,

    Whatever happens…rise from the ashes.

    Be like a wind,

    blow your troubles and cares away.

    Be like a rock,

    dependable and reliable.

    Be like a river,

    flowing never-endingly to the sea.

    Be a friend,

    never too busy to listen.

    Be you,

    never be someone you’re not.

    The road you’re on may seem unfamiliar.

    But you’ve been down it before

    the only difference…that was during the day

    Now it’s night.

    Everything seems different, but

    it’s all the same.

    On the journey to finding the true me