Sometimes we are silent, not from a lack of things to say but because the experiences we are going through are too poignant, too intense, too raw to give voice.
So you sit there and just observe yourself for a while. Watch as things fall apart and blend back together. Watch as boundaries blur and finally come into focus. Watch as fear, doubt, anxiety scream their lungs out until they go hoarse then reluctantly leave center stage to hope, faith and love.
Sometimes a long pause comes, loud and drawn out, disrupting all the chatter of everyday living. Sometimes you emerge from the silence rested, with new wisdoms and a new story to tell.
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.
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
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:
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
This one is for the ones who are not sure which season of life they are in right now.
It’s for the 30 something old mother who did the whole “be a good girl- get married – have kids” routine and isn’t quite sure if this is what happily ever after is supposed to feel like.
It’s for the 25 year old who still doesn’t have a job, doesn’t have a house, doesn’t have a car and isn’t quite sure just yet that they are on the right path.
It’s for the 47 year old who has put in the time and effort chasing dreams but has nothing to show for it – not yet.
It’s for the 69 year old who is post retirement and wondering were the years went.
Give yourself grace as you shift though the seasons of your life, nothing and no one blooms all year around.
It is true that there are seasons to life. If you pay attention you will see the trends.
Some years of your life will be full of success, progress and joy. Some will be full of struggle, pain and loss. Others will be a time of healing, renewal and growth. At times you will bloom and shine at your very brightest.
Know this – it is all part of the journey and it all happens with perfect timing. The cycle of life is very much the same in nature and in human life. We, too, go through our own winters and springs.
Transitioning between seasons can be painful especially when you move from extreme highs to extreme lows and vice versa. Here are some lessons that can help us through:
Find the rhythm: We often do not pay attention to the ebb and flow of events in our lives or the feelings they bring. Slow down and pay attention you will find the rhythm. Acknowledge and name the seasons, see how they affect you, find ways of coping that work best for you. Remember all of life is a cycle, you will be back here again – over and over until life is through. Next time you can come better prepared.
Letting go: Moving between seasons will mean at times having to let go of people, of things, of places. Shedding leaves like the trees. Learn to let go with grace. The time you spend with bare branches, with bare minimum is necessary for renewal. Everything comes back to us, better, bigger, brighter if we give it space.
It’s all a cycle: Anything we go through is part of the cycle of life. Birth, death, renewal -repeat again. Everything must change and change again. That’s one of the certainties of this life. As sure as the sunrise and sunset every day. We all must go through it, so the best option is to do it with grace.
Harvest and enjoy your life in seasons of plenty, prepare for your winters thrive in them as best you can.
It is through the seasons that we grow. Be the master of your own journey.
They don’t usually tell you this but the job market is flooded. There are many people looking for jobs and not enough vacancies. Your first interview is your resume and often the lovely folks in Human Resources are looking through mountains of applications so yours has only a few seconds to grab their attention if you are going to stand a chance.
But most people have resumes that do not tell the story of who they are and what they are. Put some thought into your resume if you want to set foot in that interview room. Here are a few tips for getting it right:
1. Keep it short and sweet. No one has time to read your 5 page resume. Truth is if your first page is a yawn you have lost them. So make it count and have the important stuff on there – especially highlights of any noteworthy achievements related to the vacancy you are applying for. Summarise your qualifications, skills and experience in 3 pages max, with the third page being references and links to your portfolio, if necessary.
2. Biases are real, though they suck. Do not give recruiters the opportunity to disregard you by over sharing. Information on your sex, age, marital status, religion have no place on your resume. I also recommend to leave out your hobbies and the fact that you were a prefect or captain of the football team. It’s not relevant to whether you can do the job. Anything really important they can ask you in the interview, until then you are just X with the right qualifications and experience.
3. Resume templates are available free online. Put an effort into how yours looks. Going the extra mile always pays. The shortlisting is your first interview, sadly part of that battle is influenced by looks. Keep it professional and crisp. No photos on the resume, it’s cheesy!
4. Put your contact details in a simple format where they are easy to find. You do want to get them to call or email that invitation to interview, right? Have no more than 2 phone contacts, one should preferably be your personal line. Make sure you include email with a professional sounding name – no email@example.com. Confirm your references contacts are correct always
5. Cover letters are a thing. Consider them the 5-second pitch of the recruitment world. They say to a potential employer, this is why I am interested in working with you and this is how I add value. Don’t list your qualifications and experience in the cover letter, that’s what the resume is for. I have come to see really good cover letters as an art in personal branding. Learn it and get really really good. Your next interview depends on it.
You know that company you have always wanted to work for? Your professional crush. Approach them instead of waiting for a vacancy to open.
In the dating world its becoming more common for people to slide into their crushes DM and get to know them. Same thing is happening in the employment world. Its unconventional but that’s exactly what will make you stand out.
Do your research about them and prepare before you go out on faith and make a complete fool of yourself though.
You will need to know who to approach – the higher up the better. You want to aim for the hiring manager or CEO.
You will also need to go in with a good pitch of why they need you. Clearly you need them but who cares – whats your value addition to them and their bottom line or vision.
Don’t be tempted to DM the CEO on social media or LinkedIn, though – send a formal email. Keep it short and sweet with clear evidence of what you are capable of that’s of interest to them.
If you are looking for a lower level role sometimes it pays to drop off your CV in person and be nice to the receptionist so she makes sure it gets to HR and is noticed. The gatekeepers matter, don’t see them as a barrier or a nuisance.
And remember, shooting your shot is shooting a shot in the dark essentially. It may or may not hit. The success rate from shooters of professional shots is getting incredibly high though, try your luck