23 Jul

Emotions and getting things done 

8ded0dbd-6416-4d6d-b67c-6ebde4e9ce38-2550-00000704d60b93e4.jpg

I will no longer rely on my emotions to lead me.

When a great idea or inspiration shows up, it comes with sufficient emotions to get you started. You must ride on the wave of that decision to start, but not rely on it to carry you all the way. 

I received the buzz word, ‘excellence’, and felt this irresistible pull to address all that isn’t excellent in my life and business. I started with a pen and notepad and went round the shop making note of the curtains, signage, decor and all that I wasn’t proud of. I did the same in my home and I’m currently working on me, my habits and proclivities. 

The practice of writing a list was liberating on so many levels. I ordered fabric for new curtains and booked in a fitter. I spruced up the shop with new decor while providing more choices for my customers to purchase and bought an outdoor plant for the shop- going with the flow. At home I booked in a handyman, made an appointment with a highly recommended oven cleaner and left a voice message for the garden. The exhilaration spilled into other areas of my life and for the first time in a while, I held the reins of my life and knew I could steer it whichever direction I pleased. 

The handyman showed up in my absence and despite schooling my guys and leaving the list on the door of the refrigerator, he left unsure about what needed to be done. The text he sent me said something about my partner not knowing what he was to do. In crossing notes with the said ‘partner,’ it was the handyman that couldn’t do half the things in the list. The gardener did not return my phone call and the reins I had held with confidence days earlier started to feel rather limp in my hands. The oven cleaner did come through like a shining star and I’ll leave his details below should you want a brand new oven, guaranteed. 

Three weeks later and I was yet to source another handyman or book a gardener. Not because there are none but because the wave on which the decision was made had been reduced to a ripple too weak to carry me through to the end. 

Today, I am exploring ways in which I can keep going, even when I don’t feel like it. One thing I know for sure is that my emotions do not have the responsibility of seeing me through from start to finish, I do. Remember the three states of matter, solid liquid and gas? Emotions are like the gas state of our being. They take up whatever shape the situation happens to be and drift away when the lid is open. Emotions are not reliable. 
I have been a student of my own mind for as long as I can remember and it never fails to amaze me what a powerful machine it is- for good or for bad. The mind can create and believe in dreams and cause them to come to pass. It can also give life to nightmares which can come to pass. For nothing is impossible to him who believes. 

A scripture I have been meditating on is ‘Now to whom who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his mighty power that is at work within us’. That power is what I’m now drawing on to get things done. It is more powerful than our emotions. It raised Jesus from the dead and it is ours to use. 

I say all that to encourage you to tap deeper into yourself, go past your thoughts, beyond your emotions and reach deep down and draw from the strength you have in Christ. This power works for all things from sorting out unruly gardens to finding a life partner. 

I hope this has inspired you, follow me on social media @toksaruoture, as I share snippets of my mind and discover what’s going on in yours.

Have a blessed Sunday and a wonderful week ahead! 

11 Jun

On Perspectives

We had an old friend visit to have a bit of a moan about his other half. Actually it was more than a moan. It was an attack on her character and everything she stood for. She’d shared her side of the story and he had come to give his version. After all doesn’t the scripture say only a fool makes a judgement without listening to both sides? 

Now, I thought he was being unreasonable and was a downright liar, but I also recognised that it didn’t matter what I thought, what mattered to him was what he believed. His belief was his own reality and I had to operate and address him from a space in his own world. 

I learned that you can never understand a person until you are able to get into their skin, enter into their world and see things from their point of view. You can’t help or give your two cents if you don’t understand the problem.”Seek first to understand, then to be understood” is the fifth habit of highly successful people.

I have since adopted that mindset when dealing with people. Good or bad, morally right or not, I try to speak to them from a place of their own reality. That’s the only way we can make some semblance of progress. One advantage of doing so is you are able to gain clarity as to whether it’s even worth carrying on the conversation, or simply leave them to live peacefully in the space of what they believe. The result was a peaceful conversation despite the vitriol in his words. We didn’t try to change his mind or get drawn into the mud slinging. It was clear he simply wanted to be heard, something I realised only after stepping into his world.

I leave you with this quote from To Kill a Mocking Bird:

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view–until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” Atticus Finch

I am passionate about learning life-lessons and I enjoy storytelling. Feel free to share this lesson with a friend or colleague, it can be found at letsbrunch.co.uk.

 Do share your thoughts with me and have a blessed day! 

22 Feb

Airplane Mask Rule: for the emotional woman who gives until there’s nothing left

airplane-oxygen-mask

On an airplane, we are told during the safety announcements to “put your mask on first before helping the person next to you”. This is because you will not be able to help others if you reach a point of low oxygen levels.

This theory has been playing about in my mind and I thought about how we as women give and give until we are empty. The demands carry on so we give from our emptiness until our physical and emotional balance is in the red. I have heard and read opinions that say we need to reverse this trend but I didn’t take it seriously until now.
Yesterday I started paying more attention to how I give to my household. I observed not as Toks, but as an unbiased third party having an aerial view of my life. This is what I saw. I saw this woman giving until there was nothing left. Then she convinced herself she could do more so she did. This happened over and over. I did not see her once stop to give to herself.
I am emotional. Most women are wired that way. I give out of instinct and I give from my emotions so this morning I pondered on how to address the issue, because when I give until there’s no more and more demands are made I fall into the irritable and drained zone. I wondered if God made us that way and if he did, is it actually right for us to reverse our natural disposition? Surely if we were crafted as  emotional beings with the instinct to give and deny ourselves, are we not meant to accept who we are and live like that?
My soul heard this:
“Life is about self discovery and navigation. We are handcrafted by the creator and there are kinks and knots in the intricacies of our emotions. Finding creative ways to undo the knots is part of the joy of living.”
This morning I surprised myself as I said ‘no’ to a demand that was made on my time. I noticed the slight disappointment that followed as they realised they’d have to do it themselves, I also noticed myself starting to backtrack and then I said “stop, Toks.” I allowed myself to feel the discomfort of disappointing a loved one, the emotion lasted all of 39 seconds. I heard a whoosh as exhilaration swiftly followed behind that emotion and then it settled in my belly. Yes, the result of saying ‘no’ was a sweet feeling of contentment, self respect and joy. One knot was unraveled and I not only enjoyed the experience but at the end of it was pure joy. In addition, the time was mine to feed my soul with so I was able to write this- writing for me is pure oxygen.
This is not the first time I have arrived at this bend in the road, I have been there many times but responded to the emotions of others. I didn’t know then that the discomfort was brief and joy was right behind it. Two years ago I learned not to live by my feelings; they are fleeting and are birthed in the soul. I choose to live from my spirit which is one with God. Maya Angelou said when you know better, you do better. I’m doing better.
How about you, what kinks have you had to unravel lately? Are you wearing your oxygen mask?
cake
13 Jan

Other People’s Opinions

This has been on my mind this week as I recognise that leaning on other people’s opinions has played a part in some of the worst decisions I’ve made in life. 

Maturity is coming to a place where you trust what the Spirit of God is saying to you. You trust your own gifts and God-given ideas.

Relying on the opinions and views of others creates a false safety net, it gives you a temporary sense of assurance in case things go wrong, but in reality you are not safe at all.

When God gives you an idea or a plan, He also gives you all of you need to bring it to fruition. Sometimes that means connecting with the right people but the decision on whom to connect with also lies with you. Spreading your idea around and cherry picking from the pool of other people’s views is dangerous. Too many cooks do not make the broth tastier. Your gift, not the gift of others will make room for you and your gift lies inside you, not them.

I sat back and began to observe the circumstances in which I took on the opinions of others when I shouldn’t have. I noticed that it tended to happen when I shared my thoughts with someone I loved or admired, held in high esteem or they were simply strong when putting forward their views. I discovered that if I was unsure about something, then shared it with someone who was so assertive or sure of themselves, their opinion was placed higher than mine and I’ll run with it.

I have now learned to mull over things and work on it first before asking if I must ask, for input from others. It may be out of laziness that we avoid the process of thinking through an idea, rather we want the finished result presented on a platter by someone who seems to be an expert at presenting finished ideas, in other word someone who appears to have it all together.

When we do this we are living only skin deep as opposed to living from the inside out.

I have also learned not to talk about an idea or plan that I am still very uncertain about. There must be some degree of comfort in it before I put it out there, that way I am on fairly solid ground and won’t be easily toppled over when they begin to shoot holes in them.

I am not denouncing getting advice from people, but I am suggesting we learn to dig deep and unearth what God has placed in us, trust it before allowing the opinions of others to be a part of it. And even when that is done, we are to be objective.

“This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth.”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭4:13-14‬ ‭NLT‬‬

http://bible.com/116/eph.4.13-14.nlt

23 Nov

Trying Temperaments 

In boarding house I probably met every species of girl God created. Even though we were young, there were personalities of every kind. There were the happy go lucky ones, the malice keepers, the ones who didn’t care, the class clowns, the miserable ones, the anxious ones, the people pleasers- every temperament was represented. 
I remember some difficult to please characters, no matter what you did they had something to complain about. I also had a good friend in my clique who had a habit of saying ‘ignore her, this one cannot be pleased.’ Or, ‘I don’t care what she thinks, I do what I please.’ Often we left such people out when we had exciting plans for fear that they would spoil things for us.

Of course as an adult I now know some of them were dealing with difficult situations at home and of course we are all just made differently.  
This scripture tells us we must be considerate to all- not just the happy go lucky ones, but the super sensitive ones too. Granted, it is speaking specifically about eating meat, worshiping on certain days and the likes but we can apply it to other lifestyle choices too.
Do you have a miserable, anxious or difficult to please person in your circle? Don’t toss them aside and be satisfied with pleasing only yourself. Christ didn’t live to please Himself even though much of the personalities around Him were challenging ones. 
We who are of a particular personality must be considerate and tolerant if those who are of a different temperament. That’s how we build people up in the Lord, it’s how we let our light shine so others can see the way to Christ.
“We who are strong must be considerate of those who are sensitive about things like this. We must not just please ourselves. We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord. For even Christ didn’t live to please himself. As the Scriptures say, “The insults of those who insult you, O God, have fallen on me.””

‭‭Romans‬ ‭15:1-3‬ ‭NLT‬‬

http://bible.com/116/rom.15.1-3.nlt

08 Sep

Count it joy, name it joy.

This reveals to us our own power to define our situation. Feelings of sadness do not necessarily mean you are in a sad place. Thoughts of scarcity does not mean you are lacking.

We have the privilege and the power to name our state of affairs whatever we choose. When we fall into various trials, we can rename it a season of joy. Whatever we name or christen our situation to be is what our spirit, soul and body will interpret it to mean, and therefore act accordingly.

I have chosen to call challenges, ‘Teacher’, because I have not been in a single trial where there wasn’t a lesson to be learned. Mind you, it’s a choice. Being a student is a choice and it is only when you put on that attitude of learning that you can be taught. In the past I have been through trials that were just that, trials. Now I know they were actually teachers but I just wasn’t a student at the time. An old Tao saying says ‘When the student is ready, the teacher will appear’.

Currently,  as I address the issue of fear in my life I have chosen to name it  ‘Faithful Guard Dog’- because it never leaves my side. It is there to protect my interests and warn me which is great, but it isn’t the master, I am. I hear it barking, I feel it tugging at me to pull me away from the offending situation but  I make the decision whether to advance or not.

What are you dealing with this season? Rename it. Count it joy or peace or a teacher or a season of strengthening. There is nothing we will go through that we can’t handle.

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,”

‭‭James‬ ‭1:2‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

29 Aug

Business Lesson: Building Materials

This lesson was inspired by the scripture below, which is referring to our lives as Christians and building on the foundation that is Christ. As I read, I found myself drawing parralels with how l am to run my business.

“For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.”
1 Corinthians‬ ‭3:11-15‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I am going through a season of implementing processes in my business. As I do this, I’m coming across holes of inefficiencies and a lack of excellence in the way the business has been run. The foundation of your business is the idea that God gave to you in the first instance. Going forward it becomes your responsibility to choose the best materials with which to build it.

Straw and wood are cheap and easy to come by. It is easier working with these sort of materials as straw can be bent into shape with little effort, wood can be carved or sawn easily too. It isn’t expensive to obtain either.
Silver and gold on the other hand are costly and difficult to work with. It requires the skill of a metalworker or blacksmith, it requires fire and hours bent over a furnace. If a mistake is made using such a material it requires painstakingly starting all over.

Which materials will you use for your building?

The cheap ones can still make a beautiful building, it isn’t so hard to paint over wood with high shine gloss or create a bells and whistles website. What matters is the quality of your work. It is when faced with the fire, challenges in the business that the truth is revealed.  

Creating a quality product or service requires investment and not just cash, but hours of learning to become an expert. You can if you have the funds hire an expert where needed so long as quality, excellence is what is being produced. Where God is concerned we should do all things excellently. With each creation of the component of the world, God ‘saw that it was good’ when he completed it. He didn’t do a shabby job and say “this will do, it’ll work itself out”. He stopped only when it was excellent.

If your business gets burned up because the materials used were cheap and flammable, we have a merciful God. You will suffer the loss, it is painful but you will survive it. You can begin again, His grace is sufficient for you.

Finally, note that having a sound foundation or a great business idea does not absolve you of the physical and emotional investment required. Just because you were inspired by the Holy Spirit does not mean it will be a roaring success. You have to choose the right materials and invest time and energy into it while following the leading of the Holy Spirit. And after you’ve done all you can, stand. 

31 Jul

Inspiration from 90

The number 90 has been a motivator for me this week. I learned that the founders of crowdfunding platform, Indiegogo, approached venture capitalists 90 times before receiving funding. Today, Indiegogo is worth ‘several hundred millions of dollars’ according to Forbes and has helped raise millions more for businesses.

  
I started a project last week, it’s the second time and in a year that I’ll attempt it as the first time I did not obtain the results I set out to, got discouraged and quit. So here I was one year later dealing with familiar thoughts of it fizzling out just like the last one did. I received an email which would determine if what I feared was what had happened. I was driving when the email popped up so didn’t read it until I arrived at my destination. In the short 4 minutes between receiving the email and opening it, I had played out various negative scenarios in my head. And then coached myself back into a positive place by reminding myself disappointment is merely a human emotion that’s passing by, I was to embrace it briefly and keep on moving. I recognise that I don’t fear negative scenarios, it’s the negative emotion I dread. Then the number ’90’ popped up in my head. And I smiled, 90 times, I had only attempted this twice with a ridiculously large one year gap in between, Indiegogo tried one project 90 times.

That really perked me up and helped to readjust my thinking. Embrace disappointment; in it is the fuel required to try until you succeed.

Why did Indiegogo’s story affect me positively? After all, we’ve heard about Einstein trying 1000 times, JK Rowling being rejected gazillion times and even Oprah and Steve Jobs have had their fair share of disappointments. It’s because Indiegogo is a company I can relate to. They started with nothing but a dream that 90 other people didn’t believe in and today they are where they want to be. It is easier to empathise with or be inspired by a person going through something you’ve been through. I don’t know what it’s like to have my work rejected by publishers 100 times, although I do draw lessons and encouragement from JK’s story, it is even more powerful when it’s someone or a scenario I can relate with.

If you haven’t done so, research personalities or companies that are similar to yours and use them for inspiration, it doesn’t have to be a famous story either. I am currently drawing inspiration from Michelle Obama because I read a quote that spoke to me in an area I was dealing with at that particular time. She is a strong black woman with high career and family ambitions like I do, she inspires me.

Have a truly blessed week!

25 Jun

Reputation vs Money

“Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold.”‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭22:1‬ ‭NLT‬‬

A reputation is what others think or say about you, not what you think say about yourself. We don’t choose a good reputation by carving out an enviable image for others to adore. We don’t make claims of being an expert in an area were our knowledge is floundering. We don’t promote ourselves to the masses, selling what people don’t need in the name of running a business. 

Many people today choose making money by any means necessary over having a good reputation in business. There are charlatans that masquerade as ‘helping people to live their dream’ when they themselves don’t believe that they are capable of moving from their current nightmare into actually living a dream life; they have no real experience or even knowledge to share, they simply regurgitate old information that’s freely available yet pleasing to the ears of the unsuspecting. A good reputation is earned, not created. It cannot be purchased and it is not identified by how many followers you have on social media. A good reputation is what people say about you based on their experience with you. Don’t chase after riches, work towards earning a good reputation instead. 

“Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭22:1‬ ‭NLT‬‬