Is our social welfare system ready for a complete lockdown?

(Almost titled rambling thoughts of a COVID-19 observer)

So, a couple of weeks back I was given the option of working from home and I guess that makes me one of “those people.” I was excited for a couple of days because this meant that I can work in my pyjamas, while I eat blue Doritos (hi). It also meant that I could basically work my time the way I wanted, ensuring that I had the right amount of work done over the right amount of work time. I thought about this and what it meant for me going home because my parents are over 60… Does that mean I stay in the house by myself- or rather with my dog? As all these things were crossing my mind and as I was excitedly thinking about all the things I should buy #stockuponthetissue, I was also thinking about all the areas that I needed to sanitize regularly (hello jik). As I was thinking about all this, I realized that there were some over-arching, external things and situations I hadn’t been thinking about that we, as a country, need to take into consideration…. Leading to the question: is our social welfare system ready for lockdowns and quarantines?

First of all, let’s talk about the way the eSwatini is set up. Like, we are so good at “translating” (read as copying and pasting) international policies and implementation processes into our response to COVID. I mean, that’s great because why would we waste thinking power on something that has already been put in place and that seems like it will work? In doing that we have neglected unpacking the impact this will bring to our communities (I don’t know if neglected is the right word here). I am not even going to talk about what this means for the rural areas as an independent area of concern, I am not going to talk about what this means for our grandparents, I am not going to touch on what it means for how bogogo will get their monthly allowances and all those things. Let’s talk about things that I feel like we often ignore. Let’s talk about children. We know that eSwatini is a country with one of the highest orphaned and vulnerable children rates which means that a lot of these children do not have anyone to take care of them at home, which means that a lot of them depend on the neighbourhood care points for the meals. So, we are going on lockdown and schools have been shut down for at least a week already. The question for me then becomes, what it means for food allocations.

Where’s the food at?

Let’s start with that, basic things. FOOD. Let’s think about the parents who go to work and maybe have lunch/ break meals provided for them at work. In so many cases you find that these parents will bring lunch boxes and put food in their containers to take home to their children. Then you think about the children who rely on school break and lunch (thank you government there!) for food. SO what you are saying is as schools are closing and as lockdown starts, children are at home… What are they eating for their break? What are they eating for lunch? We need to realise that in some of these situations – and in a lot of our situations as a country – the school and the NCPs are the only places that some children get food and, as soon as you put them in a place of isolation and shut down the schools; as soon as you dictate that all schools and all non-essential services need to be shut for an indefinite amount of time, some children lose their access to meals. I think that’s one thing that we need to take into consideration as a country. Like, what are these children going to do in these instances? And so now you talk about that and then it translates to the parents.

Are the parents gonna be alright?

So you have children right? Maybe you have two or three maybe four or five. I mean, maybe even more that. You have children at home who are really hungry all the time, you have to provide! It is your duty as a parent to do so. Let’s say you are providing, you’re that lady (or man) working on the street – in one way or the other. Assuming a single-parent family, which is more common than not, where only one parent is doing the provision, we are rapidly getting to a place where all those people who feel like “ayyy COVID” – and they have every reason to – are not purchasing things as much as they would in town. You are not sure what the partial lockdown means for you which means you are not sure how you will be getting money to support the food that you have to provide multifold now because children are home for an extended period. So what does that mean?

Psychologically, once people get frustrated it’s easy for them to take their frustration out somewhere else. It may be that parents take it out on the children. What does that mean for the family? Individuals might be shouting more, maybe beating their children up more. As children say they are hungry it gets frustrating and those frustrations will be channelled somewhere.  What are we doing about those cases? How are we making sure that the single-parent homes  – and not even single-parent homes actually –  and the families that live by street vending or those services that will not be operational or fully functional are surviving? How are we making sure that individuals in these industries can still support their families? How are we making sure that they can still support their children? That’s one thing that I really think we need to think about at a deeper level, as a country – Especially as we look at cases like Italy where it’s been months since corona has come into play. How long are we going to be on lockdown? How long are we going to be in a state of emergency? We speak of two months but is it really going to be two months?

Frustrated people frustrate people

And, finally, the argument is… Well, hold on, let’s go back to the issue of frustrations. When people get frustrated they often take their frustration out in other areas, in other places. Let’s think about that. If you are frustrated, what are you doing? I was reading a couple of articles on this, trying to figure out what psychologists have deduced from this period. Really, what it boils down to is when people are frustrated, they take their frustration out on someone else. This means that at a family level if I am a man… Backtrack, maybe there are some generous companies where you can get indefinite leave but really are there any? And maybe there are a few jobs where a person can work from home. That said, let’s not ignore the fact that, if you can work from home you are probably in a place of privilege because it means that you have the tools to work from home: You have internet access in your home, you have stable electricity in your home but that is not a general case in eSwatini. If you are working from home you are fortunate but then there’s a lot of people in construction; hourly-paid workers even, who will have to lose their jobs during this time. Maybe not permanently but for an extended period. Ontrack again, once this happens, frustration is inevitable. I am not even going to go into the frustrations that might come with alcohol abuse or the ones that may come with drug abuse; let’s just leave that on the side for now because for me the biggest concern is children and women in eSwatini right now.

So think about these cases where men are frustrated – and women even – they are frustrated and cannot bring money into the home; they cannot bring resources into the home which means they have to find an alternative way to ensure their families survive during the lockdown. How does that work? How does this work for these families? If a man or a woman… if a parent gets frustrated, they can lash out. And, usually, the people to suffer may be the spouse initially and then the children. There is no doubt that this situation leads to extended physical abuse of significant others and the children. We think about this and it seems, as a country that is not so focused on mental health anyways, this is going to be a major issue. Now I start thinking about the long-term repercussions but let’s look at it short term… The amount of physical abuse in the home might increase. What are we doing? How are we going to curb this? How are we going to deal with this social issue? Where in most cases in this country we are not even going to talk about it because “Tibi tendlu“. So as we think about the lockdown, as we have all these committees – however many they are at this point. lol – that are thinking of solvency and how we can curb some of the implications of the lockdown, let’s think about the social welfare aspect of it all.

How is our social welfare system being prepared for this? How are we going to counter these issues? How are we going to deal with everything that rises because of isolation; because of lockdowns and because of the state of emergency as it is right now and what we expect businesses and companies to do. So, yah… I have so many thoughts on COVID implications – short term and long term -, let’s just start with the welfare system. I have so many questions that I hope that our system can address… But for now, please stay safe, stay sanitized and stay blessed!

*Initially written March 25th, 2020 (So some of my questions have been answered, somewhat, now)

Dear 26 year old Me…

Today, and today only, I claim to be wiser than you. Let’s just take a moment and laugh at that! We made it!! We made it to the other side of obstacle number 1(And by “obstacle number 1” I mean: all those “you should be married at 25” statements, hopefully, they realize that’s not going to happen now so we are good. We can breathe and do whatever *Whew*). Y’all it’s rough out here… If you know, you know. Haha.

One day we will have a conversation about the stumbling blocks. We will talk about the “almost” business deals, the “almost” companies and the “almost” jobs. We will talk about the “almost” happy ever afters and the almost baby daddies, lol. We will talk about all the almosts and then we will smile… We will reflect and, maybe, we will cry. We will cry about the hurts and the emotional baggage we picked up along the way (Girl, what were we thinking?).

We will talk about the walls that have been so beautifully built around every curve that is you (You know, the internal Berlin wall). Then we will tear them apart, brick by brick. That one brick that was placed because of lies and broken hearts – yep, it’ll be gone – , the wall that has been elegantly architectured with bricks bought with the realization that the knight in shining armour was actually a villain – that one will go to!. We will talk about the bricks of indifference that were delivered by the ghost under the bed and the witch in the wardrobe … We will talk about the walls of pseudo-confidence that were built by deliveries of insecurities. We will cry over the truck full of losses and arguments that put it all together…

One day we will tear the wall down, piece by piece. Like the wall of Jericho, it may take a couple of marched around the city… One day we will… But today, today we do none of that. Instead, we remember…

  1. There is no road map to originality. You have to cut through the undiscovered forests to be uniquely you so don’t be intimidated by the giant trees!
  2. It is ok to be weak. In fact, it is important to be weak! The strongest people are those who embrace their weaknesses and use them to their benefit.
  3. You will fail. Not once, not twice but countless times. Remember to take your failures as lessons rather than permanent losses.
  4. You cannot be the smartest person in the room. That will mean you have stopped learning when…
  5. You should never stop learning. Take every opportunity you can to learn something new.
  6. You should never stop LEARNING ABOUT YOURSELF!!! You are the most important piece of the puzzle and you need to continuously identify each part.
  7. You cannot let your past define you. It is the past for a reason. You are not who you were 2, 5, 10, 20 years ago (in fact, you are not who you were 2 minutes ago so there’s that). The sooner you embrace that, the better.
  8. Don’t dig up the skeletons. They are dead for a reason. Leave them dead!!! It is not for you to bring them back to life. Mummies are a no-no.lol
  9. If you still pay attention to what people think to determine your course of action, you are not going to go far. See (1).
  10. Take RISKS!!! Take ALL the risks. Better to say “I tried” rather than “I wish I had”.
  11. Take care of all parts of your “self”. Take care of your mind, take care of your health, your heart and your soul.
  12. Don’t give up on love. “The greatest of these is love” was not put in the Bible for no reason. Jesus is wiser than all.
  13. Give all or nothing in everything that you do. If you are going to give mediocrity, don’t do it.
  14. Know you why! Walk in your Purpose!! Never stray from these two, they define your legacy.
  15. Prioritize family! These are your people, family should be your safe place.
  16. Take time to heal… “Don’t bleed on those who didn’t hurt you”. If you don’t heal, you will bleed in the wrong places.
  17. Introspection is everything.
  18. Be quick to course correct. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Learn to know when you have failed and when you need to take a break.
  19. Fill up your well! You cannot draw water from an empty well.
  20. “Forget yourself long enough to help others.” It’s not all about you, it’s about service and servanthood.
  21. Celebrate your wins, celebrate other people’s wins! Nothing is as rewarding as seeing the fruit of one’s work. Join the party!
  22. A “Principled” centre is a winning centre! Never forget!
  23. Know your Vision and Mission statement, then “walk it out”
  24. “He who fails to plan plans to fail”. Prioritize Planning!!
  25. Put God first!! Nothing, and I mean N.O.T.H.I.N.G., should happen if God is not at the centre.
  26. Travel!! Travel far and wide!! Travel in season and out of season. It is good for your heart!

Today… Today we hope. We hope that the brighter days are many and the darker days few. We hope that these 26 reminders act as a guide where we forget how to live [Because, come on now baby girl. I know you are stubborn but you have to accept the lessons you give to yourself, if anything. Just saying]… We hope that the past failures and experiences are building blocks, not to the defensive wall system though – we are done with the walls fam! -, building blocks to a live well lived. Today we hope that we inspire, that we try, that we live… Today, we hope that our existence epitomizes a full life. We hope that we live it out and, where we fail, that we laugh it out.

Then we celebrate! We celebrate 25 years of up, downs, lefts and rights (oh, man… That was so cliche but I love it. Hahaha)… And, most importantly, we pray that the next quarter of a century brings with it wisdom and growth!!!

Six Year Anniversary Post

A few weeks ago, WordPress reminded me that I have been on these streets for 6 years. Y’all SIX FREAKING YEARS!!! As a commitment-phobe (but the type where commitment doesn’t like me not the other way round) this is amazing!! School is the only other thing a girl has committed to that long. I was thinking of renaming this blog “the journey of a part-time masters student who is a full-time employee starting her first teaching side job and a wannabe NGO-ist/wannabe businesswoman who purchased her first cow”. I don’t know exactly how to label it but I think that is the thing that I am about to retitle this blog as. Really, I am just kidding. I think of this idea at 7.39am on this Sunday morning because I got frustrated and switched off my laptop… because I was trying to find articles for my master’s research paper – it’s not even a research paper, that’s the ridiculous thing about it. It’s an assignment that I have to work on that requires a set minimum of citations and you know I am an overachiever so I’m like it has to at least be 20 as I don’t want to do the bare minimum for this. Anyways, it’s Sunday morning, theoretically, I should be preparing for church – which I am –  but I’ve been up since 4.0am because I was trying to do some work for the NGO and for my class before I start my day. Am I going to survive? I don’t know.

I looked at my table and I was about to take a picture of the mess that’s my coffee table (that’s what you call it right?) and I was like Nah fam… This is a mess, DON’T DO IT! So I did not do it and basically what is life? I don’t know what life is, I am about to be a mess but actually…. And as I think about this more, there’s just so much going on and it’s encouraging when there are parts that have no sticky notes on my planner (not planner board though). I am retitling this blog (but not really), we will see how that goes but I feel like one day I want to look at this journey and laugh – or cry – about it and when I think about doing a PhD in the future so I can stop myself because I am sure if I had done a recap or a reflection of my undergrad I probably wouldn’t have gone back for my masters so this is my brain check, rain check type situation. But also, I think it’s important for us to share our struggles as women trying to do the most; as women trying to take up space because it is not easy on these streets. There are so many expectations that come with being a female. Like, I am 27 almost 28 people are starting to get worried that I am not married, people are starting to get worried that I have no children, people are starting to get worried that I am actually legitimately considering buying a dog (*Whispering* I bought one by the way. Okay, I won’t tell anyone). So it’s like, you know, it’s very hard and then you have to juggle all these parts; you have to perform in all areas, you have to overperform in all areas too because hey, we are taking up space right? But it’s just very encouraging. Like, I have read a lot of blogs where people are telling their own story and I’ve thought that it’s important. For me, it’s been important to see, not just the good parts of it but the struggles of it as well, the struggles that women have experienced as part of their come up and the struggles that women; not just considering themselves as women perse but as professionals have struggled with. Because the female thing is just an addendum right? That’s what you call it right? Of this. SO yah… 6 years later…

Welcome to my journey. Welcome to the journey of a woman in the second year of actually running her NGO. Welcome to the journey of a woman in her first year of her master’s program welcome to the journey of a woman on her route to self-actualisation, Welcome to the world of a woman on the road to self-care – mentally, physically, emotionally. Welcome to the world of a woman on her journey of spiritual identification and crossroads. Welcome to the journey of a woman BEEEEECOMMMMINNNGGGG!!! Hahaha,  you thought I’d leave that? Nah fam, Nah!!! Welcome, welcome! It’s gonna be fun, it’s going to be an exciting journey. Hopefully, I can keep track of these, hopefully, I can produce a new blog every 2 weeks (Don’t hold me to this though). I promise no promises but I will try! Welcome, to the life, of a wanna be!! Welcome to the life of someone struggling with imposter syndrome day in and day out. Welcome to the life of a woman trying to take up space in the world of networking and engagement and failing to figure out how! Welcome to the life of a woman trying to go into the world of academia and struggling. with validation.every day. Welcome to the life of a woman living in a “studio” flat – batsi ma bedsitter ngesiSwati actually – and trying to make a flat a home. Welcome to the life of a woman who buys her own flowers because I ain’t waiting for anybody to buy me flowers plus they look pretty on my table!! Welcome to the life of a woman working towards being a doggie mama

Okay, cool. That’s it…. REBRANDIIIIING (but not really)

First Things First: Stephen R. Covey

So I have been slacking on reading this year. It has been a loooooooong year on the personal front and I find that my productivity dwindles when I am going through the most. I started “First Things First” by Stephen Covey possible at the beginning of my year (November.lol). It’s been a hard book to read – but aren’t all Stephen Covey books though? It has been challenging, it made me realize I am a mess (rolls eyes) and that – where I can pin point the mess in others – it is paramount that I acknowledge my imperfections and the contribution that I make to making a situation what it becomes. Y’all, it isn’t child’s play to work toward #becoming but I am grateful that – where I forget – there is something that comes in and kicks in a reminder. So, here we are with my notes from Coveys book. Thank me later.

ON WHAT WE CAN AND CANNOT CONTROL

  • “While we do control our choice of action, we cannot control the consequences of our choices. Universal laws or principles do.”

Freedom comes with a cost…

  • “We need to constantly be asking ourselves, “What is needed out there, and what is my unique strength, my gift?”
  • “The way we see (our paradigm) leads to what we do (our attitudes and behaviors); and what we do leads to the results we get in our lives.”
  • “Principles are the simplicity on the far side of complexity.”
  • “The best way to predict your future is to create it.”
  • “The Main Thing Is To Keep The Main Thing The Main Thing”
  • “Balance in our lives isn’t a running between compartments; it’s a dynamic equilibrium.”
  • “one called to exercise responsible care over possessions entrusted to him or her.” We’re stewards over our time, our talents, our resources.
  • “We may pass up daily, weekly, moment-by-moment opportunities to make deposits because we’re too busy blaming circumstances or other people for our own failure to achieve our goals.”

ON PROGRESS AND THE COMFORT ZONE

 “So often, the enemy of the best is the good.”

i.e. the enemy of a great life is a good life!!

  • “What is the one activity that you know if you did superbly well and consistently would have significant positive results in your personal life?”
  • “Do I really want to do it? Am I willing to pay the price? Do I have enough strength to do it? Do I accept the responsibility for my own growth? Am I settling for mediocrity when I could be achieving excellence? Am I blaming and accusing others for my own inability to set and achieve goals?”

ON MANAGEMENT OF SELF AND OTHERS

  • “Management works within the system. Leadership works on the system… management: “Am I doing the right things?” before “Am I doing things right?””
  • “Do I often find that I’m consumed by one or two roles in my life, and that the others do not receive the time and attention I’d like to give them?”
  • “How many of my “first things” are in roles other than those that receive most of my time and attention?”
  • “What is the most important thing I could do in each role this week to have the greatest positive impact?”
  • “Focus on importance rather than urgency.”
  • “STEPS
    • Preview the day.
    • Prioritize.
    • Use some form of T planning for the day.”
  • “An empowering mission statement deals with both character and competence;”
  • “When our roles grow out of mission, vision, and principles, “balance” is a deeper issue than spending time in compartmentalized boxes of life.”
  • “Make sure that your roles grow out of your mission and that your mission includes all the important roles in your life.”

ON BEING A PERSON OF INTEGRITY

  • “Am I willing to be a person of total integrity? Am I willing to apologize when I make mistakes, to love unconditionally, to value someone else’s happiness as much as I do my own?”
  • “One man cannot do right in one department of life whilst he is occupied in doing wrong in any other department. Life is one indivisible whole.”
  • “A high balance in [the personal integrity] account is a great source of strength and security. But when we don’t achieve our goals, we make withdrawals”
  • “Conscience Creates Alignment with Mission and Principles”
  • “Self-Awareness Empowers Us to Build Integrity”
  • “Trustworthiness is only as high as the balance in our Personal Integrity Account.”
  • “The situation may change. We may change. And we can’t act with integrity without being open to that change.”
  • “Integrity means more than sticking to a goal, no matter what. It’s integrity of system, an integrated process that creates an open connection between the mission and the moment.”

ON PRIORITIZING THINGS THAT MATTER

  • “What do you feel would make a significant difference in each role?”
  • “Quadrant II organizing empowers you to look at the best use of your time through the paradigm of importance rather than urgency.”
  • “It’s easy to say “no!” when there’s a deeper “yes!” burning inside.”
  • “Good judgment comes when your logical and rational thoughts and ideas are supported by a gut reaction that the decision “feels” right”
  • “Each role in our lives has a physical dimension (it requires or creates resources), a spiritual dimension (it connects to mission and principles), a social dimension (it involves relationships with other people), and a mental dimension (it requires learning).”

ON CONSTANT IMPROVEMENT OF SELF

  • An hour a day spent “sharpening your saw” creates the “private victory” that makes public victories possible.
  • “If change is driven by mission, conscience, and principles, it moves us toward the best.”
  • “What are the one or two most important things I could do in this role this week that would have the greatest positive impact?”
  • “Determinations—things you’re determined to do, no matter what—and concentrations, areas of pursuit you focus your efforts around.”
  • “Personal leadership is cultivating the wisdom to recognize our need for renewal and to ensure that each week provides activities that are genuinely re-creational in nature.”

ON SELF-AWARENESS AND SELF-CARE

  • “Self-awareness prompts us to start where we are—no illusions, no excuses—and helps us to set realistic goals.”
  • “Self-awareness empowers us to ask: Am I allowing the good to take the place of the best?”
  • Balanced Renewal The perspective of the week prompts us to plan for renewal—a time for recreation and reflection—weekly and daily.

ON INTERDEPENDENCE

  • “ Quadrant II activities as: • Building, repairing, or renewing relationships with family and friends • Recommitting to deep values through religious activities • Restoring energy through rest and recreation, Developing talents through special interests and hobbies • Contributing through community service”
  • “Educating the heart is the process of nurturing inner wisdom… “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.””
  • “Think win-win (based on principles of see/ do/ get, mutual benefit, and cooperation). Seek first to understand, then to be understood (based on principles of respect, humility, and authenticity).”
  • “Both character and competence are necessary to inspire trust.”
  • “Peace and quality of life come only as we discover and align with the fundamental Laws of Life.”
  • “Frustration is essentially a function of unmet expectations—we expect something to be a certain way or to produce certain results, and it doesn’t.”
  • “Only as we focus more on contributing than consuming can we create the context that makes peace in all aspects of life possible.”

#BECOMING: the endless journey with ‘Self’

So excited for you all to read this month’s blog post. Guest writer, Thandisisa Mazibuko shares what #becoming means to her… “Babe, may I write it [from] a feminine perspective… It’s simpler for me [like that]” were her words when I approached her to feature this month… And write she did! This one is dedicated to women and the men who love them!! #thebecomingproject

In a world where we women are drowning in societal mediocrity, it takes utmost courage for one to pursue the often lonely path of birthing the Self. “Becoming” in its essence is a lifetime; a bitter-sweet and often treacherous journey that gives birth to the innate and predestined self unapologetically. It is a fearless tour with the Self were defying the odds becomes inevitable, normality.

Marianne Williamson once said, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be BRILLIANT, GORGEOUS, TALENTED and FABULOUS? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small will not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not in some of us but 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”

The Enemy of Becoming

This clearly exposes the major barrier to “becoming”… Fear!! Fear of self, fear of coming out, fear of defying the norms, fear of standing out and fear our greatness. I, too, am guilty of this. We women have this excessive need to belong and we will go to great lengths of sacrificing the Self in order to fit in and be approved of. We feel the need to “shrink in,” hide our light. and cover up the dynamite that we are so that people do not feel insecure around us. The ultimate justification being to feel accommodated in the crowd because we are now like everyone. This impedes the birthing and nurturing of the Self.

The Price of “Becoming”

The journey to “Becoming” has a price to be paid which is at times one getting used to being friends with loneliness. It involves embracing your uniqueness as a woman and running away from mediocrity. It comes with an understanding that fitting into a certain group does not always mean you belong there. Women, never sacrifice yourself for social approval and the need to belong! I know what it means to “shrink in” and suppress all that I am in order to feel accommodated in a social circle. I know what it means to be afraid of going beyond the normal so that I belong somewhere. I know what it means to decide that being “part of the crowd” is more important than being fully you. Thankfully, I have grown to realize that until we let go of compromising the self to feel accommodated we will forever wallow in mediocrity while being tormented by the “labor pains” of the self that wants to come out.

The above does not mean that the journey to becoming cannot be fruitful without one belonging somewhere. It demands one’s vigilance to distinguish toxic and negative people that will drag you down and winners that will see the best in you and make you thrive in who you are. A social “sieve” is one of the most vital ingredients in the path of Becoming. Let go of an “of-no-use” social baggage!

Becoming is Timeless

On another note, as I said earlier, “Becoming” is a timeless journey. One in which two things happen that determine how you perceive yourself and, consequently, how far you will go. The first thing is DISCOVERING the Self and the second is EMBRACING it. Let’s start with the discovering part. In this journey of finding “self”, you will find or make discoveries about yourself. This is timeless! You will discover your strengths, your “can dos”, your unique gifting and talents, you discover purpose and the things that make you swell-up with passion. But, you will also discover your weaknesses, your flaws, your areas of incompetency, YOUR CAN’TS.

Then there is the embracing part. This one comes with understanding two sides of the coin of self and being content with them. This is one weapon that will make becoming, or birthing the self a reachable destination. Let us learn to accept ourselves for who we are. Becoming comes from a clear and undistorted self-concept. Being content with keep YOU sane. It saves you from unnecessary envy and a competitive mindset. That is where the tranquil state of becoming springs up from.

Dear lady, be you unapologetically, enjoy the journey of becoming, realize that the sky is not the limit. You belong to the Maker of the stars so like them, don’t be afraid to shine. Break that limit, explore the universe and conquer the skies!!!!

Thinking out loud

Sharing this blog post from a friend… Food for thought, you get to determine what output you get from life!!! Enjoy the read and go follow

gasolobanele

Then I got inspired to write as 2016 starts. Happy New Year.

Life is either complicated or simple. It all lies in the lens that one chooses to view life. After all everything is about the choices made.

In life something is bound to go wrong. Wrong in this case is defined as something that you did not anticipate, something you do not like, something you did not plan, something that cripples whatever you were working on. Undoubtedly that brings disappointment, sadness and anguish. The choice then comes about on how you proceed from the situation. You can choose to accept that sometimes things go wrong, choose to learn from the situation, choose to understand what may have caused it to go wrong, find a way to prevent it from occurring again. You can also choose to blame others, blame yourself, hate the world and completely consume yourself with anguish…

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#LIFELESSONS: Understanding friendship

So I was listening to part of a series earlier this month and I had to reflect via this blog post. You can, for your own good, check out the video here 

So I am and have been, privileged to have a global experience when it comes to living and learning. I spent some time as an exchange student in the UK – something that gave me an opportunity to get travel experience in Europe. I studied at an international school and proceeded to graduate from an American university… Call it diaspora or Third Culture Kid tendencies, it’s on you hahaha.

Throughout my experiences, I have gained two best friends and numerous friends and acquaintances…. I often say, my best friends don’t fall under the “friend” circle. One is a “sister” and the other is “my person”… So I say this, right, and that is all well and good. I also, then, have A LOT of people that I consider friends… Having listened to this series, though, I find it necessary to conduct a friend audit.

A. Did I have it wrong all along?

Charles Metcalf speaks on three categories of “friendship”:

  • Fans
  • Followers
  • Real Friends

I am not going to go into detail on how he defines these (you can check out the video yourself) but I took note of his description of real friends. Think about this as the reflection on these.

B. Come along with me, in the night

One thing that I have always known about friendship is the value that comes with people coming alongside you. If you go to many Swati weddings – which I do because I am a pastors kid and dare not show up at the church members wedding… Uzozibonela, haha – you have heard the “two are better than one” statement [Ecclesiastes 4:9-12].

There are so many times where I have reflected on the value of someone who comes along with you in different situations. Think to break up ice-cream at sonic, think long nights and early morning… There are so many situations that I have been in and, really, just needed My Person to just be there – no words, no convo, just be present in the situation. I know I say this literally but it holds true figuratively as well. Understanding the value of friendship means understanding that the one you call a friend can fight alongside you in every situation that you face.

C. I ain’t doing that with you bro

So, if you know me, you know I am stubborn AF!! Once I decide on something there is no going back. I am not about to listen to you about it either. In that, I like things to go my way too. So, to be honest, I can be unreasonable in my expectations. I am grateful, though, that my friends often call me out on this… Sometimes I listen and sometimes I don’t. When it comes down to it, though, I know that there are people who will tell me, to my face, that I am off track and I need to fix my life!!

Pastor Charles speaks of the importance of having people who will be sure to “call you out”. He says “If you are the only warrior in your circle, you will get tired of fighting other people’s battles”. I know I have gone through situations where people were EVIDENTLY fighting against me and I wanted to walk away and never talk to them again – we’ve been there. In retrospect, though, these are the people who fought for me when I couldn’t fight for myself… And these are the people who will make sure I don’t slip away when I’d rather do that.

I remember reading Americanah and noting the relationship between Ime and Ginike (when Ime was depressed, remember that?). These are the times when friendship isn’t about simply agreeing with your friend but also entails calling them out into their full-blown identity. Y’all, there is so much value in having friends who will fight against you.

D. Chill, I’ve got you

Then there is the fighting for you when you can’t fight for yourself part. There is so much comfort in knowing when to fight for those you care about. There is so much beauty in being told, “you don’t have to fight, I’ve got you”. Knowing that, regardless of how you feel about the situation, your unwillingness to tackle something, there is someone willing to let you take a step back and “handle it”.

I consider myself a very independent person: I struggle with allowing people I am dating to pay for the whole meal, I struggle with sharing my need for help with friends, I struggle with vulnerability. One thing that I have realized, over the years, is that allowing someone to “get you” requires trust – a lot of it even. It requires that you let your guard down a little and realize that it is not just about being a receiver of pity or charity (which my independent mind always rushes to) but it is also about being a receiver of love.

Y’all, there is nothing as beautiful as hearing “I’ve got you” from someone you care about. There is nothing as comforting as knowing that you have a safe place to just be, where you do not have to fight or pretend you have a handle on things because your friend really knows you don’t and are willing to hold down the fort until you’ve REALLY got it.

E. When all is said and done

The translation of the word friend/friendship comes for the Hebrew roots “rh” and “hb” – with reeh and oheb being the most common terms for a friend. All things considered, these translate to “one who loves.” Thus “the ideas of friend and friendship involve three components: association, loyalty, and affection.”[ Elwell, Walter A. “Entry for ‘Friend, Friendship'”. “Evangelical Dictionary of Theology”. 1997.]

As the first quarter of the year is coming to an end, maybe it’s time to conduct a friend audit! Ask yourself:

  • Does this person fight alongside, against, and with me?
  • Do I consider this person an associate?
  • Do I consider this person loyal?
  • Do I consider this person affectionate towards me?

And be honest about answering these questions, you will be doing yourself a favor.

Let’s talk about it, what is your definition of a friend? How have you learned from your friends so far? Have you watched the video, what do you think? Leave a comment!

 

PULL UPS AIN’T PULLING ME UP- GYM LIFE STRUGGLES

***THIS IS PART 1 OF A 2-PART POST***

So, in August (or was it July? I can’t remember now) I decided I was about to take my #fitnessgoals to another level. I was on some, “ok Nosi, you KNOW you are on that get healthy tip and have been trying that wog (jog and walk) regime three times a week. How about we hit the gym?” Yea, yea, yea… Also, going to the gym is cool right? So I hit up my older sister, who has been religiously doing the gym thing for a while now, and I’m like “hook me up with that gym membership sis” and she does. So it’s game time and I have the hello Coca-Cola body type thing going in my head already.

The idea of it was exciting but the practice, not so much. Sooooo, the first week of the gym comes around and I am pumped – really, this was the second week, but I only went once the first week so that doesn’t count. Also, I am like, I paid for the month… The month will end soon… I have only been to the gym once… I am not doing this to my money (really my sister’s money but hey)… Let’s get this…. I better max out on this gym membership now…

And then there were pull-ups – Disclaimer, let’s be honest for a second. It wasn’t pull-ups, it was sit-ups but I wasn’t about to mess with the “Pull ups ain’t pulling me up” title so here we are ‘\_(“/)_/’ (That is a shrugging woman emoji, FYI). Y’all, I have never wanted to cry endurance tears this much in my life!!! It was legit, I was on some “heck no, I am not about to do this” tip but I had to…While the experience itself is nothing to write home about *boohoo Coca-Cola body* and *respect to those that hit the gym religiously* I took some lessons from the whole experience that I figured I’d share…. So here goes.

Lesson 1: Your SQUAD better be LEGIT

So, I did those sit-ups, right? Wrong!! I was losing fam! Like, it was bad. I didn’t want to do it anymore. The only thing in my head was, what in the world was I thinking signing up for this gym membership… But you know what? My sister didn’t let me give up.

At some point, she gave me that “big sister look.” You know that looks that tells you, you better pick yourself up real quick. Yea, that one! At some point she hit me with that, “Nosi, we paid for this and you are going to do this thing. When and where will you learn if you don’t do it right here and right now?” I wasn’t happy about that… NOT.ONE BIT!!

It was at that moment, though, that I realized she was NOT going to let me give up. Sometimes we get into situations and places where giving up is easy; where it is easy to let it go because we are lacking in endurance. It seems like the back, where we came from, is so much better than the future that seems unreachable. Those are the moments when you need the squad the most. If you have it right, they are the ones who will shift your focus from your sphere of concern to your sphere of influence. I beg, get you a legit squad.

Lesson 2: Your DRIVE better be LEGIT

One thing I know, the trainers’ drive was legit! Hahaha. No, seriously! The guy had me! He insisted that I wasn’t going to stop until I could throw the ball far enough (yes, yes, there was a ball. I had to do sit-ups AND throw a 4kg ball!! I.FREAKING.KNOW).

Let’s talk vision, mission and aims for a minute. We need to create a vision for our life that is focused on a solid purpose, a purpose that is bigger than ourselves. I told y’all, my motivation for the gym life was a “coca-cola body” but – to be honest – it was much more than that. It was about getting myself toned up, boosting my health habits and becoming a “fitter me” (corny I know). I am not sure if that is “a purpose that is bigger than [myself]” but that was my drive alright.

We need to get ourselves to a place where we are driven to achieve our goals at all costs!! It would have been easy for me to walk out of the gym at that moment, no one was stopping me after all, but I decided I wouldn’t do that. I wasn’t about to let my drive down. When our drive comes from the inside, it becomes legit. When it is inspired by our purpose rather than social media or social constructs, we have no option but to pursue it. One of my inspirations in a legit drive has been my younger sister for a while. I remember this girl taking a gap year because she made it into a Chemical Engineering program but not a Medicine program. She said, nope, ain’t gonna do that. Imma try until I get into medicine – she graduates next year!

How many times have you thought about quitting and then remembered your drive? How many times have you quit because you forgot what your drive was? Or maybe, how many times have you quit because your drive wasn’t strong enough; wasn’t legit? This was a big lesson for me in redefining my doubt and making it the legit-est it can be! We need to have a drive that will force us to do things, to put in the work, even when we don’t feel like doing it.

***Watch out for Lesson 3 and 4 in October***

“Be around people that make you want to be a better person, who make you feel good, make you laugh, and remind you what’s important in life.”

― Germany Kent

Year of Yes – Shonda Rhimes

Y’all, it’s women’s month!!! Happy 31 days of KWEN APPRECIATION!!! The fight for womanhood never sleeps so here’s to the start of another year of fighting!!

So, we’re doing things a little different this month. *You’re welcome*. I’ll be profiling one of the books in my reading list this year… Shonda Rhyme’s Year of Yes. What better way to mark this month. Really, it’s just vital life lessons that I picked up for myself through my reading. Enjoy!!

  1. Always remember that your happy ending is YOURS and it will, probably, not look the way others think – and expect – it to be.
  2. You are ALWAYS saying YES: To mediocrity, manipulation, unhealthy living, terrible habits, etc. Whenever you say no to one thing, you are automatically saying yes to something else.
    1. So, NOSI, every time you say no to working out you are saying yes to laziness and unhealthy habits, every time you say no to putting in work you are saying yes to procrastination, and every time you say no to saving you are saying yes to poor financial choices … Go figure!!
  3. Don’t take yourself too seriously! Learn to take moments and plan – learn to take moments out to “dance”
    1. Y’all, I felt this one!!!!
  4. It is one thing to “stand” like wonder woman and it is another to “be” like her.
  5. Don’t undermine your accomplishments. Receive praise, in humility, when it is given
  6. KNOW YOUR TRIBE AND INVEST IN IT!!! Invest your time, your love, your presence!!!
  7. Always say “Yes” to the things that scare you the most, that is where you will experience the most/best growth.
  8. Don’t just dream, do. “Perfect is boring and dreams are not real. Just…Do”
  9. Learn to be a better friend to yourself.
  10. Pay attention to the way you view people. See them as they are, not as what you want them to be – if the two perspectives are the same, you have found a unicorn.

 

P.S. Image sourced from: https://cafe4apps.net/year-yes-shonda-rhimes-epub/

#BECOMING – Featuring Njabu “Enjay” Khoza

Ok, ok!!! I am so excited about the July edition of #Thriving!!! I don’t get to write this month but Enjay graces your phones (or laptops, or reading apps, or whatever). If you are in Swaziland – aka Eswatini, aka the best kingdom on this side of heaven – you’ve probably heard her spit fire… If you haven’t, you’re a slacker and you need to do better fam!!!

Imma be nice to you and hook you up with her Instagram! Check it out….

There are a lot of things we will do in this lifetime. Some of them pleasant, and exciting and some of them not so much. Some we do accidentally and others intentionally. Becoming, however, remains inevitable. From birth, our parents overlooked the process, well at least as far as we know, they were supposed to. Teaching us right from wrong, what’s appropriate and what isn’t, which road is worth the hustle and which one isn’t, and every other ideal imaginable. So much can be said, on becoming, but one thing for sure is that if you are old enough to read this, then it’s about time you took the rails, and control who you’re becoming, what you’re becoming.

Quick disclaimer, I am not an expert “becomer-er”😏, quite frankly, I’m barely a functional adult. But I’ve realized the power of being honest about where I am, in order to get to where I am going, because it is evident that I’m going somewhere and I’d like to know where that is, God forbid I end up in a place, in a person I dread. Which is why I had to start somewhere,

Step 1: Scary step. Call yourself out on the person that you have found yourself. Question who you are, shake your foundations now while you do not have to, before you encounter a situation that insists on it. This is not a one day step, to be honest, this is a state you must live in. Do you really hate racism? Why Christianity? Why do you use the toilet paper that you use? Question everything that you have inherited, and allow yourself to change your mind after careful consideration. This is the 1st and final step to becoming, simply put, introspection.

I know it often seems like the day we were born our body landed in one place and our purpose or truest self or whatever it is we are in search for was broken into a thousand pieces and scattered all over the world, and the body was tasked with the mandate to run around like a headless chicken trying to find and piece those pieces back together.

Before God sent us into this world, he whispered all the things that we are, and not just those we ought to be when we get to earth, but the vigorous journey seems to have wiped our memories clean. And the only things worth piecing together are those lost within ourselves. What we are looking for is not abstract, but is greatly familiar to us, and focusing all that energy on improving personal existence in every moment is how we jog that memory.

Hold it right There, please get me right. When I speak of improving yourself, I’m not even on that St Teressa tip. The noblest course a person can ever pursue in life is that of self-fulfillment. Do not do things that do not resonate from within you. Do not contribute to a course you do not believe in, not until you’ve established who you are, who you want to be, and where you’re going with all this. Putting glitters on a wound makes it pretty, but also spreads the infection. Do not donate to orphans or other vulnerable groups if that is not where your sympathies lie. If you do not like the fact that you don’t sympathize with them, find out why and perhaps you will learn that you would much rather be involved in their empowerment. Do not fall into the pressures of political correctness. Do not smile at people you don’t like, if you don’t like the person that makes you out to be, then get to the root of the problem and address it. Stop with painkillers and start with treatment. From the inside out. So as far as “fake it till you make it” is concerned in this matter, I rule against it, this world needs people with conviction, and to build conviction “address it till you become it”.

Decisions are never final, only consequential, and if you ever find yourself regretting a decision. Pick another one, with consequences more along the lines of what you can live with.

With your patience, I’d like to share where I am with my journey to becoming. After carefully considering the pros and cons, the whole saga, I’ve decided that I’d like to put all my efforts into preserving my youth. 😒 Okay, wait, before you roll your eyes at this cliche, her me out first. I want to hold onto my free pass, being exempt from the formalities of the world. Always needing empowerment of some sort in a certain area of expertise, in all areas of expertise. I want to hold on to the feeling that at any point in time I can choose a different path for my life for whatever reason my recklessness sees for. I never want to know better. I’ve seen the people that know better and their lives are a sight for sore eyes.

I have no desire to walk about this world as though I possess some kind of profound wisdom when in fact it is wisdom that possesses me. There is no running away from the knowledge the journey, but I will not worship it, I will acknowledge it’s existence and use it in relevance but I will not be a slave to logic. For the longest time, this has been the enticement of adulthood for me, the ability to command this aura of wisdom and knowledge. The fastest way to close yourself out to something is to possess it. A person who owns a cell phone or 2 has no reason to get another and must simply be satisfied with what they have. I cannot bring myself to be satisfied with what I currently know. I want to die, still not having figured life out, But having explored as much of it as possible.

So to put it less dramatically, I’d like to become young at heart and mind, ever inquisitive and well established yet humble building my convictions from the ground up as opposed to adopting them. Without being ignorant of the less rosy consequential attributes of a questionable sense of loyalty. Nonetheless, at the sight of new information, I have the freedom to change my mind 💁. Although when it comes to becoming, I’m not sure if anyone ever arrived