Big Magic

One of the best things I did this August, maybe the only good thing really, was to read this book, Big Magic. I was looking for something to help me out of the funk I was in and this sure did it. If you are a creative looking for something to get you back into the zone, this is it!!!

First off, let me say don’t be put off by the size of the book. Big Magic is easy reading. Its structured in short, quirky, to the point chapters. You will find yourself thumping through the pages like your life depends on it and the conversational tone in which its written will have you feeling like you are sitting across the table from Elizabeth Gilbert herself exchanging wisdom over a cup of hot chocolate. Its that good!

And what is Big Magic you may ask. It is the divine relationship between creativity and you – the mystery of how inspiration comes to us humans and works with us to create.

Here’s the lessons I learnt about Big Magic.

  1. We all have it, yes even you:

As a creative it is easy when you are in a funk to think you have lost it, or maybe you didn’t have it in the first place – you know “that thing”. The world has us thinking there are a select few born with the gift of creativity and that you either have it or you don’t, right. But we are all have extraordinary little treasures within us and the universe is just waiting for us to put in the time it takes to create and bring them forth. Everyone has something.

2. It takes a special kind of bravery:

Its a vulnerable thing, to be a creative. To make something, anything and put it out there for the whole world to see. Be it a blog post like this one, a whole book, a photograph, a painting, whatever your creativity brings forth – allowing yourself to make it and then present it to the world takes bravery. Often we create in order for our product to be likes, praised, applauded, awarded, bought – and when that doesn’t happen it can be paralyzing for the creator. Do not let success in this sense be your guide. Create for the sake of creating. Create because its what you do. Create because it brings you joy. Let your creativity be its own reward. That way if people show up for you and love your work – great! And if they do not or hate it – also great!

3. Don’t sit around waiting for divine inspiration:

We have all heard tales of creatives who got some kind of divine inspiration for their greatest works. The musicians who dream the lyrics of their number 1 hits. The writers who just feel the words of their next bestseller flowing through their pen. Yes, that sometimes happens but not always – let it find you working at finding ideas and inspiration for your next piece of work. Keep it moving, whether ideas appear magically or not.

This last one hit me particularly hard because for years my writting had always come easy to me. Ideas and words flowed easily, inspiration was everywhere it seemed. I had always lived “in the zone” you may say. And then suddenly, I didn’t. So I wrote and shelved what must be a a hundred or more pieces and a whole manuscript too! I was waiting for the next inspired post before I blogged again, waiting for inspiration before publishing that book, before sharing my thoughts on social media even.

Big Magic doesn’t often come to the idle though because it cannot be sure you will answer the call to create – it loves the ones diligently working because it knows your engine is warm and you are ready to go if inspiration whispers in your ear.

If I was to summarize the biggest lesson in Big Magic is this, create whatever that’s in your heart to create, do it for the love of it, do not wait until its perfect, the process is its own reward.

NB: When I am not blogging here I share my thoughts and experiences on Facebook and Instagram

Good Vibes Only!

The other day during a conversation Mr Man said to me “You are a very very sensitive woman. I mean like very very VERY deeply sensitive. You feel everything and you take it to heart”. That I am, no denying it! I am an emphatic Sagittarius who also happens to have an INFJ personality. I am that rare introverted, intuitive, feeling, and judging type. You cannot begin to imagine how hard we have it this year.

My people i.e. the emphaths, the healers; we are feeling and dealing with a lot of emotions, our own and those of others, during this global pandemic. The world is in pain and we feel it all, we carry it like a physical load on our shoulders.

A sensitive person will be in the same room with someone that’s got a headache and next thing you know you got it too! You will be minding your own business when you get a call from a loved one that’s going through something, next thing you know you are also feeling whatever they are struggling with. We are emotional sponges like that. Most of us without even knowing this is who we are or realizing this is what is going on. Others know and struggle with it, an elite few master the gift and can heal or turn off bad energies or channel positive ones and diffuse situations. But that’s a whole other post, there.

This business of being a “sensitive” person is not spoken about a lot and when it is its spoken of as some voodoo stuff or some weakness. The ignorance this brings makes it hard to be this kind of person. Often you don’t know what going on and you are just going through it. So if what I have just described here is you – take heart, you are’t weird, you aren’t alone and you can control this. Here’s how to manage emotional overload:

Grounding:

Take off your shoes, walk barefoot for a while. If you can get outside and step on some soil directly do that. Or take it a step further and get into the garden, nurture a plant, touch the soil with your hands while you work. The earth exchanges her energies with us all the time, you will feel loads calmer and energized in no time.

Look to the sun:

The sun is the biggest energy source known to man. There is a reason some civilizations worshiped her back then. Open a window or go outdoors and soak in some sun, preferably looking up so you feel it on your face. Fell it warm you up, imagine the negative energies melting away like ice. Its fail safe. If there’s no sun, sit by the fire, take a warn bath, drink a warm cup. There is something about warmth thats comforting.

Music:

Almost every religion on earth incorporates some form of music, for a reason. Music speaks to our subconscious and to the divine in many ways. Play some music to suite your mood – soothing music to calm you, happy music to cheer you up, dance music when you feel lethargic to help you move and get the blood flowing in your veins.

Scent it away:

Take a salt bath or use any scented products you can get your hands on. As you bath imagine the soap washing away all the emotions that are not yours, pray as you bath and affirm this. Baths are not just about washing away dirt – there is something spiritual about water. This is why so many religious rituals include use of water, often as a purifier, an agent for washing clean, for washing things away. Make every bath your own little ritual.

Now do you see what we just did there? You have 4 tips for balancing your energies and emotional state now, dear empath – earth, fire, sound, water. Hope you find this useful. Let me know in the comments how your emphath journey is going during this tough time…

NB: When I am not blogging here I share my thoughts and experiences on Facebook and Instagram

All my children

This one is for my unborn children.

The ones that never saw the sun.

You are not forgotten.

I still think of you in the midst of my happiest moments.

I imagine what it would be like with you here.

When I hug your sisters and brother I imagine stretching my arms wider so you too would fit

I cry sometimes towards your birthdays.

I loved you then and I love you now, you see

I love you all my children 💝

How goes working from home?

A couple of months into 2020 and most people have adjusted somewhat to working from home. Having always worked mostly home even before C0VID-19 hit I realize that I got a head-start to this slightly strange working arrangement but that doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with it still. So I thought I would share some of the issues I have with working from home, how I am working around and hear how its going for those of you who work from home.

After work ritual:

I am quite good at maintaining my morning routine which includes clear, wake up – go to work habits. Everyday I bathe, dress up, eat and show up for the “office” as though there were some mean boss watching. I never work in my pyjamas, never work from bed and on good days you can catch me in lipstick and earrings even! That said, I miss having a buffer between work and everyday life. You know how you finish work in the office and have time during the drive home to decompress? Or you pass by the store, have drinks with friends or your SO before going home? You don’t get that when you work from home. So I have started to build in alone time after I knock off – time where I do non-work/non-family stuff that allows me to decompress. It can be just 15 minutes of yoga, a chapter in a book, watching the sun set, walking barefoot in the garden. Whatever helps you ease slowly out of work mode do that before you dive into home life – do it!

Work Space:

My home does not have an actual work space and that sucks! Initially I had a desk in a corner in the bedroom but hated how that meant my “work” was always with me in this intimate space. I like to relax in the bedroom and view it as sanctuary so an office corner in there doesn’t work for me. Tried the dining room table also for a while but lets face it that’s public space and asking the kids to tiptoe around you while you work is just unfair! I am looking forward to creating a dedicated home office in our new home in the near future. For now, I work where I can but its not ideal.

Other people your age:

The honest truth about working from home is that your interactions with other people your age go down significantly and on some days are like zero. the thing I struggle with most is the loss of contact with friends, work colleagues, even strangers! Before the world shut down, I would go work from the office or a cafe every Friday in order to fill this gap. Also just making time to text, call, meet with people who give you meaningful conversations, laughs and joy works. In the end this is one of the most important things in life – this sense of community and connectedness.

How is your working from home experience going? Let me know in the comments.

NB: When I am not blogging here I share my thoughts and experiences on Facebook and Instagram

Braai Roles

There are two types of braai experiences – the gender segregated one and the unsegregated one (for lack of a better word). I prefer the latter but they are so rare. The segregated ones suck for the most part if you are a woman. Nobody ever talks about this though so why don’t we just do it now.

The gender segregated ones usually go something like this:

Step 1: Men decide to have a braai.

Step 2: Women buy meat and other provisions. Sometimes the men will buy and leave out stuff like disposable plates because who cares about having to wash a ton of plates, right?!

Step 3: Women prepare the meat. Men prepare the fire

Step 4: Women give the men the meat, prepare side dishes with other women in the kitchen while the men grill meat and drink beer with other men by the fire.

Step 5: Men generally hang out by the fire and eat as a pack, often to uproaring laughter. Women generally hang in the kitchen or a respectful distance from the braai area – occasionally servicing the guy pack with cold beer, compliments and side dishes

Step 6: After eating women pick up dishes and clean up. Guys drink beer and continue with the fun.

Step 7: Braai is over and guys ask the women if they enjoyed the “night out”

The second type of braai, the unsegregated one is the one were people show up as people. Everyone has a place around the fire, the work of cooking is not split by gender, everyone does their bit and both the guys and “gals” are free to drink, eat and laugh together as one big clique.

I find the segregated braais tiresome and am anxious for them to end. It’s about time the braai rules changed, honestly

An Ode to Dreams

I have been hiding. Literally, hiding behind daily routines and the small details of everyday life. The anti-orgasm that is the year 2020 had me feeling like the flower that spring forgot. So I retreated into home, withdrew into self, clocked myself in silence and put up polite smiles to keep people away. Within the shelter of home you can wake up, busy yourself doing what needs doing and let the days blend into each other so you don’t think about what’s NOT happening.

This was supposed to be the year things fell into place, please! Vision 2020, right?! The year the politicians finally got their stuff together and made peace and prosperity reign! The year our cities became world class and high tech, blue prints finally brought to life. It was to be the year we ended hunger, poverty and finally embraced being decent human beings. Vision 2020 – the year we were to walk into the promised land!!!

Well, we always knew all that was crap didn’t we? Political rhetoric and grandiose dreams conjured by the dreamers among us but it was wonderful to believe in for a moment there wasn’t it? We bought into it because the human spirit always craves better than it has. We embraced the spirit of dreams, made her feel at home and made our very own plans for our small, individual and maybe insignificant lives.

Some had big life goals, some held faithfully onto their recycled new year’s resolutions, some were taking it one day at a time, getting by on a wing and a prayer. But we had one thing in common, hope. Hope of surviving, hope of doing better this time, hope of finally thriving, hope of having this be the year, the decade when we truly lived or loved. Then 2020 shocked us all!

We are right now in the midst of a global pandemic and scrambling our way through it. That’s right, we are all fumbling along – including the most self composed of us, including the ones who have “pivoted” successfully, including the ones living their best life right now. 2020 has thrown us all off our original track because none of us saw this coming, none of us planned for what it’s dishing us. We have all had to stop, make do, adjust and proceed with caution because it’s chaos, it’s uncertain and so much is no longer in our control.

We are all grieving something lost; grieving the alternative futures we would have had, grieving people, places, ideas.

We are all wishing this ends well.

Don’t get me wrong, some people are thriving right now more than ever despite the chaos or because of it. Others like me are just tired.

That’s it, I went away to mourn what I thought this year, this decade represented for the world and for me personally. I hugged all my and our aborted dreams and wailed over them. The energy drained out of me, hope fled and all I wanted to do was – nothing. What’s the point?

Now it’s time the mourning must end. So, this is an ode to Vision 2020.

Here lies a much awaited year.

A lifetime I waited for you.

It feels like you are gone already, though you are still with us.

Lost forever but we must rescue our dreams from you.

You cannot take them with you into the realm of the Things That Never Were.

We hold onto hope and the joy of small things.

Heres to us weaving new dreams, rising on the winds of new tides and embracing every joy there is to be found in our new circumstances.

We may crawl for now but we shall walk again

As the sun rises, so will we.

Lesson in a cup of tea

Tea takes me back to my mother’s kitchen. It holds memories of family times past but also holds a powerful lesson that I want to share.

Growing up tea was a thing and anytime was, literally, tea time. Most of my memories of family back then involve a steaming hot cup.

My mother loved hers sweet with lots of milk. When I teased her for being too generous with the sugar she would answer with a laugh “Ndezvatakainga kutaundi” ie. “This is what I came to the city for”.

You see she wasn’t a city girl but migrated for work after finishing school. She loved to talk about how her motivation for making it through school was that she wanted to move to the city and live the good life. Her version of the good life included, you guessed right – sweet tea, bread with lots of margarine, lots of meat especially drumsticks and thighs because in the village those were reserved for men.

For me growing up with these things within easy reach it didn’t make sense that they mattered enough to drive her to chase educational and career goals. But to her, these things were potent inspiration to power her through late nights studies, job searches etc.

Every time I sit down with a cup of tea gazing outside the window I think of my mother and am reminded that we all have the power to create the life that we want. The idea is to pick a mark and not stop until we get there. And your inspiration for chasing those dreams doesn’t have to make sense to anyone but you.

That right there is the powerful lesson we find in a cup of tea!

Copendency and Culture: Is this our way?

We are a lot of things that we do not even know. Our socialization shapes us into some toxic behaviors that we cannot even name. I am a recovering codependent, for example. For decades I put other people’s needs above my own to the point where it harmed me.

It was the done thing so I knew no better. To this day all the women I know take pride in it. When the men gather they too compare scars!

Where I am from you are not your own person. You are part of a close knit whole that rewards and reinforces codependent behavior. The philosophy is that without it life as we know it i.e. family and society would end.

We say things like “Musha mukadzi” to convey the idea that without a woman there can be no home. Home is an idea built on the labor, love and self sacrifice of women. We carve home out of nothing and create families and a sense of community by giving our whole selves over.

The act of birth requires that we give our bodies – share them with another for anything from 9 months while pregnant to 2 years while breastfeeding. My grandmother with 9 children gave over her body for all of 18 whole years. Our very bodies is not your own.

As soon as they can walk little girls are taught to serve. That’s the start of a life long journey of service. Every woman I ever knew served everyone, she served them first before herself; giving physically, emotionally, spirituality for families and society without complaint.

It is not uncommon for a woman to spend hours cooking only to serve the men first and then to the children sometimes leaving nothing for herself. The ones being served think nothing of it and rarely offer to share, the labor or it’s products.

Society rewards all of this with a pat on the back and the “good woman” label. Everyone loves a hard-working muroora, they all rave about the self sacrificing mother and are in awe of the wife who turns a blind eye to infidelity and gives birth to the most children. The backlash is strong for the ones who do not follow the rules. The”selfish” ones who put self first.

Typically we get the dregs of our own abundant love. We say “No” to very little so are always busy, and always tired and always drained. We hardly notice how we don’t really rest even after pouring until we are empty.

Our culture reinforces codependency both ways, even men are not spared. We all serve this master. So many work their way from boyhood to the grave trying to make money to take care of their families. This agenda is the first and sometimes only mission assigned every male, provide and protect. Take the money and the respect. It’s a one dimensional life, a road filled with endless toil, ego and an almost narcissistic self importance. The reward for men’s codependency is headship, a social status treasured above all things by most.

Despite it’s seeming rewards codependency is a deadly pursuit that means choosing others over yourself all your life. It’s toxic in that it is limiting for us individually and collectively.

As an alternative we could take up self care and collective care, a totally new business for most of us that involves choosing, loving and protection ourselves first. Kuti “tandira neuku ini ndotandoira neuko”.

Allowing individuals be their very best and helping each other along the way ultimately benefits the whole. We could be our best selves, together.

What to do when a loved one is feeling down

Because empathy is often not part of our socialization many of us do not know what to do when with people who have the blues.

Often we are dismissive and play down their feelings. Other times we try and bully them into getting over themselves and feel frustrated with them for not “choosing happiness” and “looking on the bright side”.

Empathy is acknowledging how a person feels, making yourself available to listen or support them if it’s needed and just being there even if there is nothing they want you to do for them in the moment. Even when we do not understand and cannot relate.

Say “How are you feeling” instead of “What is it now?” Even if you have seen them like gloomy like this countless times before

Say “Do you want to talk about it?” and respect if they do not want to talk about it just yet. Sometimes there are no words to explain how they feel. Sometimes they are just not ready to talk. Say “Okay, when you want to talk about it I am here” so that they know they can reach out to you later when the storm is over.

Say, “What can I do to help you feel better?” instead of “Get a hold on yourself”. If people could help it, they would. No one wants to feel like the pits. Most of the time there is something you can do to help, if not immediately then later.

As humans we are dependant on and highly responsive to each other. Your kindness makes a big difference, it could even save a life.

5 techniques to lift you when you are feeling down

Despite our best intentions occasionally we find ourselves feeling down. “Feeling down” can mean anything from just feeling a bit blah to losing all energy and will to live. Yet it’s not a really a commonly spoken about thing though so when it happens many of us don’t really know what to do.

The thing with emotions is they are easily fooled. We can influence how we feel by doing things that usually trigger peace and calm, happiness and joy in us. Here’s a few things that are helpful in lifting the human spirit.

Music speaks: There is a reason the theme music in horror movies gets your hair standing on end, lullaby’s send babies to sleep and church songs make you feel warm inside. Music triggers different involuntary reactions in humans. We can’t help it. So if you are feeling low, play music that usually makes you feel good. Play the music that makes you dance if you want to be more energetic. Play the classical tunes if you want to feel more calm. You know your tunes. Have your playlists ready.

Mother Earth’s vibes: Nature has a way of replenishing us all. Sit in your garden and soak in the sun. Go out and listen to the birds sing. Dip your feet into the river or sea of you can. Climb that mountain. We are one with the earth. She lends us her energy whenever we need it.

Revv up: Movement gets your system going and releases a feel good hormone they call dopamine that will instantly pick you up. Exercise if that’s your thing. Yoga. Go for a run. Even just stretching will do the trick. Just get your blood pumping. Get the revs up.

Tidy Up: It’s said there is a magic to tidying up and that putting some order to your immediate environment relieves the blues. At the very least watching you put some order to the physical world around you sends the message to your brain that you are in control of things and can resolve whatever has you spiralling. I can’t promise that it’s fun, but it works! So go ahead and declutter your home, wash your car, organise something…

Sleep: There is precious little that a good night’s sleep can’t fix. If you feel like you have just about had it take time and sleep it off. If anything you will wake up with a fresh perspective on things and tons of energy to deal with stuff.

Having the blues can seem like there’s no end to it. With the right tools you can turn things around and bounce back fairly quickly. Feel free to share in the comments any other techniques you use to life your spirits when you are feeling down

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