On Peace, Rest and Productivity

It’s okay to take a break. 

I learned that this week.

A great man once explained that our stresses are what truly drive us to grow. He used a fantastic analogy: the lobster needs the pressure and discomfort of outgrowing his shell to be able to seclude itself, shed its old “comfort zone” and grow into its new biological environment.

So is it with us.

If you are allowing the pressures of daily life to destroy you, you are losing. Your challenges, struggles and shortcomings are valid. But it is only you who can break free from them.

I went through the fear, the fight, the resignation. And I made absolutely no progress. I decided to get up again and fight. I may have been moving slowly, making marginal progress, but I was progressing.

I drove myself to a standstill of anxiety, fear and (often unfruitful) endless hours of non-stop working. I thought I was making progress, and I was, but I was hindering myself.

This week I learned the true importance of planned, structured rest and disengagement. It sounded counterintuitive at first. But you NEED to refuel. You need rest. I was sleeping an hour a night and I grew so ineffective that I couldn’t even keep track of the days.

If you were doubting yourself, let this blog post be the anthem to help you realise that it is okay to rest. It is okay to take a break. It will help you succeed, it will not hinder you. You can be your own best friend; or worst enemy. Don’t make my mistake. It took me years to learn this.

Rest. For in rest, you will find productivity. And in rest, you will find peace.

Dealing with guilt and self-depreciation: A series of questions

A seven-step guide to taking care of yourself.

Dealing with self-hate, cultivating a spirit of self-love and avoiding subconscious self-sabotage. I wrote this for myself, I needed this. And now I offer it to you.

lake-mcdonald-landscape-panorama-sunset-158385

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Are you still alive?
  2. Is it that bad?
  3. Against whose criterion are you really evaluating yourself?
  4. What are the realistic worst possible consequences of the particular action/s
  5. Forgetting the past, what steps can you take to mitigate any realistic damages?
  6. Is there any possibility that your sentiments exist within a vacuum of self-doubt, pity and self-hatred; or that your evaluation of self is based on the arbitrary standards of others or warped social norms?
  7. It’s not easy, but work to forgive yourself. Your forgiven self is the most capable version of yourself to move forward, find solutions and mitigate damages.

Cheers, peace & love.

 

– Chonye

On Navigating Uncertainty

Focus on the journey. Because ultimately, life is a journey: the destination is the end of life. Not only is the outcome unknown to you, arriving at the destination is of minimal importance in the grand scheme of this game we call life.

I’ve been hit in the face with the proverbial sack of bricks several times in the past years. I’ve gone hard on that quarter-life crisis. I’ve had my dreams seemingly shattered – summer after summer. I have lain in bed inert for days. I have cried myself to sleep; I have been weak. I rode the rollercoaster of anxiety, depression, reform, vices, self-medication and shame. Nightmares.

Each time fell prostrate on my face, stumbled and I managed to get back up, I thought I had come back stronger. Just to be paralyzed by the next assault. I found myself seeking things I did not want. Indulging in escapism and subconsciously trying to find fulfillment in The Temporary. I turned into a shell of myself. I abandoned my gratitude journal, the gym, food and all the routines that kept me mentally afloat.

I had to make a decision. And I had to realize that my happiness is not predicated by the outcomes of my endeavors, my expectations nor my dreams. The person I had become was not capable of pursuing these dreams, achieving the goals I had once set or dealing with the successes I so desired.

I had to fight. Rekindle my ambitions. But simultaneously, be comfortable in my own skin and my current circumstances. Distant as they were from where I, and others had seen myself at this stage in life. This number. I allowed it to define me: 22. I am 22. But until recently I could see nothing in this but utter failure.

Perhaps I will die tomorrow. Perhaps I will live to see 90 years. This frightened and infuriated me. Why should I live so long in this miserable torture we call life? But what I did not realize, and what nobody could have convinced me, is that I did not have to be miserable. I was choosing to be miserable.

I was sick.

My mind could not perceive any greater hope. I was stuck; I was a prisoner in my own mind. And it was taking me nowhere. I was burning with an internal fury that manifested itself as pain and sadness. I was simply waiting for a future that I did not believe existed.

The future is now. This is the future. And I can change. I can love. I don’t need to be defined by my past. I can forge this future from now. Despite the time seemingly lost. I can forge it now. I fought. And I’m winning. Not because I am now where I had hoped; far from it. But I have come to accept and enjoy uncertainty. I don’t know what country I will be in next month. I don’t know where I will live.

But that’s okay. I accept this. And I’m fighting. Enjoying this crazy rollercoaster we call life.

-Christiana

“Fortunate Happenstance”: Notes on my favourite word

A fortunate happenstance, a pleasant surprise. Sometimes beautiful things simply occur. Not necessarily when needed. Nor with any personal input, action, or longing.

Serendipity.

Not quite fortuitous. Not merely coincidence. Serendipitous. I’ve loved this word for years. I’ve also always pushed back against my love for this word. I’ve always questioned why I am drawn to this sentiment: of receiving something I seemingly have not earned or created.

sunset-192978_1280.jpg

Easy come, easy go?

Time and thought have allowed me to realise that these beautiful, serendipitous moments almost exclusively occur when I have taken the time to set my mind and my thoughts towards the light. These are the times when my every expectation is hopeful, and when I have diverted my focus from the insecure, self absorption of the inward facing lens to look outwards, focussing on actions, intention and most importantly, on others.

It’s what is called being an optimist. I have my own views on optimism; something that has not always come easily or naturally to me. But I can certainly attest to the truth that consciously removing your mind from the day to day worries of this physical world (90% of which are really inconsequential), and bringing it to a place of gratitude, respect, love, peace, and positive expectation both attracts and produces serendipity.

(And does a world of good for both heart and mind.)

– Chonye

‘Stimela’ as a metaphor for pain, and why I’ve been inconsistent

“We are told… that they think about their land and their herds that were taken away from them with the gun and the bomb and the tear gas and the gatling and the cannon… and they curse the coal train. The  coal train that brought them to Johannesburg.”
Five years later and forever, one of my favourites. From one of the greats. Jazz in its purest form. Deep, emotional, painful, touching the soul. Pain is something we all share. We have all felt it; or will. It is a part of life. Stimela, meaning ‘steam train’ in my native language of isiZulu, communicates pain in its deepest form.

Music has an immense power to communicate emotion. And few artists can do so as artfully and naturally as South African Jazz musician, Hugh Masekela. One of my long time favourites.

This song speaks of South Africa’s apartheid migrant labour system and the degradation, pain, humiliation and destruction that it caused. Pain, however, is universal. And if you have ever felt it. This song, this song in particular will resonate with you.

As for why I’ve been inconsistent. I’ve been involved in a new endeavour. One that has taught me a lot and has impacted me, albeit sometimes painfully, for the better.

Here it is. There’s nothing like it.

The Foe called Fear

Fear is that uninvited dialogue in my head that raises its voice every time I attempt to write my thoughts honestly, and candidly. It is false armor. It pretends to provide protection; but really all it does is encase and suffocate. It is the brother of anxiety, the cousin of depression, the grandfather of failure, and the evil twin of regret. Because, I find, that fear always, somehow, leads to regret.

Growing up, my mum always told me not to use the word ‘can’t’.

I understand that now. Because the lexicon of fear is ‘can’t’, ‘don’t’, ‘won’t’, ‘never’ and, deceptively, ‘later’. Fear will remind you of what is impossible. And every time you consider what is possible, it will remind you of every possible hindrance to your possibilities, until the possible becomes impossible, too.

Fear is the colonizer who will not stop until it has taken all of you. It thrives in the absence of hope and creates a vacuum, where hope cannot exist. Fear is a friend of no one. It has been my foe for many years; and something I have fought against, struggled with, at times even conquered, but only recently started to understand.

I will write more on this topic in future. This piece, however, is more for my personal benefit than anyone else’s. One day I will find myself skimming through my archives. And that might be a day that I need to remind myself to resist the foe called fear. And perhaps reexamine areas of my life where I have allowed this foe to linger, or even dwell.

 

Resist it. Fight it. Conquer it.

 

Light, space, zest—that’s God! So, with him on my side I’m fearless, afraid of no one and nothing. – Psalm 27:1 MSG

pexels-photo-4.jpg

Perspective

Here’s a thought:

Life is short.

We are here today; gone tomorrow.

In the grand scheme of things, 90% of what we worry about is of zero consequence. We worry about the actions of others (that we cannot change) but not about what will be said of us at our funeral.

Or what legacy we will leave behind. What our mark will be on our community; or world.

flowers-marguerites-destroyed-dead

Why not turn off your phone for the weekend. What’s the worst that could happen?

I think many of us could do with just a little perspective.

Thinker | Traveller | Writer | Scientist | Skincare Enthusiast