22 Sep

Are you in Transition?

Going through transitionCould you be going through a transition? This morning whilst journaling I arrived at an epiphany.
For the last few days, I have felt a bit low. The best way to describe it is having spent months climbing to the top of a mountain, staying there and enjoying the view, I suddenly awoke at the bottom of another mountain. I am reluctant to climb again and I feel deflated. I would rather turn back and go home.
I understood as I wrote that I have come to the end of one journey and I am reluctant to begin the next phase. I also admitted to myself that my reluctance stems from 2 reasons.
1) I want to absolve myself of the responsibility of delivering the picture I have in my mind to the world.
2) I don’t want to go through the stress of climbing like I did previously. I just want to stay and enjoy the view.
Here’s how I got out of it. I recognise now that the last few months have been about gathering the tools and weapons needed for this new phase. I am not the same person, I have grown. I am experienced, mature and equipped to travel this new path.
If you are on the verge of starting something new, don’t stall. Start. You are ready. The last few years/months have been about this new phase. You have gathered all that you need to not only survive but to thrive as well. That picture you have of your future- it is your responsibility to deliver it. Just like it is a mother’s responsibility to bring into the world the baby she is carrying in her womb. No matter how painful labour is, she has to give birth. The last nine months were all about her body stretching and preparing for the process of birthing, emotionally and spiritually she was also being prepared. No one can nurture her child like she can. In the same way, no one can nurture your dream like you can.
Furthermore, this new journey will be nothing like the last. It is not a repetition of past challenges. This is a brand new season for a brand new you to seize. On the subject of repetition, I learned years ago to stop looking back and joining the dots of my previous challenges. Choose instead to see each one as separate and unrelated, yet they all have been sent to train and equip you for where you stand today.

Finally, celebrate the end of the last journey. Mark it so that your spirit, soul, and body recognise that

it is finished. Transition is a phase in itself and time and energy need to be allocated to it.

his morning whilst journaling I arrived at an epiphany.
For the last few days, I have felt a bit low. The best way to describe it is having spent months climbing to the top of a mountain, staying there and enjoying the view, I suddenly awoke at the bottom of another mountain. I am reluctant to climb again and I feel deflated. I would rather turn back and go home.
I understood as I wrote that I have come to the end of one journey and I am reluctant to begin the next phase. I also admitted to myself that my reluctance stems from 2 reasons.
1) I want to absolve myself of the responsibility of delivering the picture I have in my mind to the world.
2) I don’t want to go through the stress of climbing like I did previously. I just want to stay and enjoy the view.
Here’s how I got out of that state of mind:
I recognise now that the last few months have been about gathering the tools and weapons needed for this new phase. I am not the same person, I have grown. I am experienced, mature and equipped to travel this new path.
If you are on the verge of starting something new, don’t stall. Start. You are ready.  If you were not ready you wouldn’t be standing here right now. The last few years/months have been about this new phase. You have gathered all that you need to not only survive but to thrive as well. That picture you have of your future- it is your responsibility to deliver it just like it is a mother’s responsibility to bring into the world the baby she is carrying in her womb. No matter how painful labour is, she has to give birth. The last nine months were all about her body stretching and preparing for the process of birthing, emotionally and spiritually she was also being prepared. No one can nurture her child like she can, in the same way, no one can nurture your dream like you can.
Furthermore, this new journey will be nothing like the last. It is not a repetition of past challenges. This is a brand new season for a brand new you to seize. On the subject of repetition, I learned years ago to stop looking back and joining the dots of my previous challenges. Choose instead to see each one as separate and unrelated, yet they all have been sent to train and equip you for where you stand today.

Finally, celebrate the end of the last journey. Mark it so that your spirit, soul, and body recognise that it is finished. Transition is a phase in itself and time and energy need to be allocated to it.

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23 Jul

Emotions and getting things done 

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!

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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! 

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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
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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

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14 May

Inside out Living

If we are connected on social media, you may have seen some of my posts hashtagged #insideoutliving.

That’s my theme for this year. I have been learning all about living from the inside out. In November, I’ll be sharing my lessons at our final brunch for the year (we’re planning a summer brunch so stay tuned) but in the meantime, here’s a snippet of that hashtag.

Having answered the call in 2014/15 to live authentically, I went into 2016 with a desire to focus more on who I am on the inside, the real me, as opposed to my visible external self. Historically I have spent more time, money and energy on the physical than the soul despite knowing we are also made up of a soul and spirit and not a just body. The real you resides inside while the outside is just your physical representation. It follows then that if you desire transformation in your life, it makes sense to do it from the inside out.

Inside Out Living

I have enjoyed some truly profound lessons, some I have shared publicly, others I’ve shared with friends. It will be an honour to share these lessons with you as time goes on.

The results of living from the inside out- besides my healthy glow, (LOL) has been me living a much more meaningful life. My perspective on everything has changed and I’m enjoying a flow of calm and a contentment that in the past only showed up once in a while.  I don’t do anything I don’t want to because I owe it to my beautiful self to live authentically and be who God called me to be.

Living Inside Out has even affected my business positively and for that I am thankful. I am particularly excited because I believe that we do not need gurus to instruct us on how to live, we just need to be true to ourselves. But how can you be true to yourself if you don’t know who you are? Regular practice of introspection is one of the most needed practices today. We live such reactionary lives, we react to the media, we react to public opinion, we react to celebrities and social media trends. This is living on the outside or surface living. Living on the surface denies you the joy of discovering the unique path for your life. It stops you from reaching deep down to get a hold of your gift. Inside out living means taking the road less-travelled. It means not being afraid to be different, but being confident to use your unique gift, walk your purpose and impact those that are destined to cross your life.

Beneath everything happening, beneath the surface is the real thing. We are made up of Spirit (the part that is alive and connected to God), Soul (emotions, will, imagination, desire) and Body (the physical world, your flesh). Beyond the physical, beyond the flesh is the real thing. Your spirit is connected to God, it receives instructions from The Lord. The instruction is passed on to your soul which is where the believing and the planning & imagination happens and finally, the package is given to the body to carry out the action.

Here’s what I do daily, I make every effort to live on the inside so I receive guidance from my spirit which is one with God. I try not to make emotional decisions from the soul. Emotions are fleeting and are not reliable. As for the body, it is only interested in the image perceived from the outside. Decisions led by the flesh will make you look good and feel good but it has no real substance or direction. Such decisions are not linked to your purpose.

More on that as time goes on! If you haven’t signed up to receive the Let’s Brunch newsletter, please do so by clicking the Email icon at the bottom of this post. You can also find me on Facebook, twitter & Instagram as @toksaruoture.

Thank you for reading & I look forward to connecting!

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24 Mar

If you’re going through hell…

The beseeching not to worry. To trust God, He is delivering you. To just wait while this season comes to an end.

  

 I read one of such exhortations today and My mind formed a picture of stagnancy, waiting on God to change the terrain we have found ourselves in. Don’t we have to walk, to move if we no longer want to remain on the same spot or be in that environment? Too often we pray for God to change the world around us instead of simply picking ourselves up and walking.

Sir Winston Churchill said of you are going through hell, don’t stand still, keep walking.

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28 Feb

Slaying the Dragon: Analysis Paralysis

img_0734.jpgThis weekend found me doing some soul searching which extended from the pages of my journal to Facebook. I asked a question- rather I shared a status update:

“I have a tendency to overthink & over plan on a new idea until I over analyse myself out of it and it never takes off. Does anyone else do this? #insideoutliving”

Thankfully it turned out I’m not alone and have some wonderful friends who shared their thoughts too. Saturday was spent thinking about and analysing the subject and by the end of the day I had clarity. I understood the process that led to my being overwhelmed in this manner, but it wasn’t until this morning I discovered the ‘why.’

I ‘compare up’ and it kills my motivation. I read a blog post by Valorie Burton that explained three motivation killers. The first one was comparing oneself to others who you perceive to be more successful. Now, I rarely compare myself to others because I have a sound understanding that we are all unique and different, we do things differently which yields varying results; rather I tend to spend time finding out why I do the things I do and that is what helps me make progress. So while this point did not directly apply to my problem, it shed some light on it. I compare up. I compare the start of my dream or goal to the end product. A bit like taking a piece of metal and planning to build a Ferari. Then you become paralysed because you cannot possibly imagine how your piece of metal will one day become one of the world’s fastest cars. I shared in my last post about perfect being the enemy of good. This still shows up for me from time to time. For instance, I read a very good novel written by a friend. I enjoyed it thoroughly and was to take a selfie and post a review. I decided that wasn’t good enough. I would blog about it instead. 3 weeks later I have no selfie, no review & no blog- because I feel a blog does it more justice. Now as I iterated, everyone is different so these solutions are based on my personality as I know it, but like my Facebook friends, you may find it applies to you too.
Here’s my way forward:

Plan. No, I’m not a natural born planner. I tend to dive in and enjoy the thrill of not knowing what comes next. One of several reasons why planning is important is that you become aware of what lies ahead- the many steps, so you are under no illusions of how it will play out.  I started to implement planning in some areas of my life last year and one way to do so is to schedule time to do the planning. It’s not enough to plan while driving or while doing the dishes or watching TV. We tend to accord more importance to some things than others, for instance we’ll plan our holiday but we won’t take time to plan what a hairstyle we want to have. It then plays like a tennis game at the back of your mind- braid or weave, braid or weave?

Throw in the obstacles Of course it would be ideal if everything was smooth sailing, but we don’t live in an ideal world. We need to brainstorm obstacles and add a work around should they occur. That way there are no nasty surprises that’ll cause us to jump ship halfway into the project.

Celebrate your Milestones. I’ve heard this often but until you know where the milestones are you will not have much to celebrate. Picture the journey as a long drive on the motorway with service stations. The service stations are your milestones where you get refreshed. If you never even planned your journey you’ll not get there. You’ll be busy driving around in circles in town, busy and apparently working towards something- just not your goals.

Be Present in the Moment. Another expression of our time that only started to mean much to me recently. My tendency stemmed from being so obsessed with the end that I saw the middle as a chore. I was in a race with only one thing in mind- to finish. I did not care about the steps, I enjoy starting, I love finishing, but that middle bit is a drag. Being present in the moment requires us to change our thinking, that each step is meaningful and just as important as the first and the final. We are to accord the same honour to each of our steps, and not call one more important than theother. At the beginning of the project make a pact to celebrate every single step; to treat each one as wholly important, because without it you can’t get to the end.

Be Kind to Yourself. Someone said we treat others better than we treat ourselves. We don’t yell and berate people who make a mistake but we do it to ourselves. My theme this year is inside out living, I’ll share more on that soon. In a nutshell my focus is more on my inside than my outside. I believe that if the inside, the soul is thriving, so will the body. Being kind to ourselves mean being patient, forgiving, loving and nurturing of oneself.

I hope this has shed some light on a similar issue you may be having, do share your thoughts on how you’ve slayed this dragon! Thank you for reading.

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27 Dec

Lessons 2015 Taught Me

IMG_0603.JPG2015 has come to an end, it has been an amazing year! Not that I achieved all I hoped for, I didn’t, rather it is because of the fabulous lessons I learned which have opened my eyes to limitless possibilities. The last 2 years had me all gung ho about authenticity, it was even the subject of the last brunch. Going deeper into that lesson I uncovered some traits that restrict my progress on that journey.

1) Perfectionism is the Enemy of Good.

I discovered it was this trait that held me back from unpublished posts and many unattempted or unfinished tasks. It told me what I wanted to share or speak about wasn’t quite ready, it could be better. It suggested I hold on until an undefined time which really was, never. Perfectionism is linked to inauthenticity. It is the fear that a part of you will be rejected because it is less than perfect. Oftentimes the lesson is in the message and it speaks loud and clear; it really doesn’t require flowery words or embellishments for its meaning to be heard. As a creative person, I cannot afford to be hindered by that. Creativity hasn’t got a scale as the only one who knows when it’s ready is you. So any inner voices claiming it isn’t good enough when you know you’ve done your best are simply misleading you.

2) We Don’t Need Permission

I discovered this trait while journaling. It showed up again when my oldest son and I were preparing the turkey for roasting. Last year we stuffed oranges into the cavity after marinating as we came across a recipe that called for that. The citrus juices burst into the turkey and adds another mouthwatering layer of flavour. This year I forgot to buy oranges but we had apples yet when Aaron suggested we put whole apples in, I felt the need to confer with Google and check if it is the ‘done thing’. At times when writing or designing I stall because what I’m about to present is uncommon, hasn’t been done or said before and I feel it’s too lonely a road to throw it out there and walk by myself. I learned this year that we are uniquely created and we all have original ideas and creative expressions. It is a sign of inauthenticity if you try to make your creativity appeal to everyone, rather than simply letting the truth of what it is flow out naturally.

3) Stop Seeking Approval

Similar to the above, this happens after you’ve shared your thoughts or creation. You wait holding your breath, praying you are celebrated and recognised. A sign that you don’t have confidence in the uniqueness of your own gift. A common way this shows up is in judging your work by how many likes on Facebook or retweets on Twitter you get.

4) Feed your Soul

I recognised and honoured my soul’s yearning to be contained in a beautiful space. Not only do I need to look after my body so it is healthy and beautiful, I also need to make sure my environment feeds my soul. I need to live in a beautiful and inspiring space. Anything that does not serve that purpose is being tossed out as I come across them. I have some interior design projects lined up for my home For some that may extend to unhealthy relationships that drain, TV programs you watch or even your place of work.

5) Practice Alignment

Another huge lesson I learned (still very much in progress) is alignment. I’ll be sharing that in due course, but for now I’ll say this; for there to be order in my life, my spirit must be connected to God, where it receives the desires of the Holy Spirit, my soul is then given those desires which is where the believing and the feeling and the imagination goes on, as well as the exercising of the will, the soul then tells the body to carry out the required action. We face internal and external conflict when all three are misaligned, working towards different goals or when the hierarchy is disturbed. A very simplistic example is this. You have been gifted with a heart that cares about social injustice. But you harbour hatred towards other races or classes.

6) Renew your mind

I learned to change the way I think. Having battled with unsavoury thoughts like we all do, from fear and anxiety to discouragement and mental exhaustion, I found out that it is futile to address each individual thought. We process millions of thoughts daily from a myriad of sources, it is impossible to sit with each one to dissect and throw out the bad and embrace the good. Since the mind is the seat of our thoughts, how about we work on it instead? A scripture verse says renew your minds. That’s what I’ve been doing. Regular cleansing and renewing of the mind makes it harder for unsavoury thoughts to sneak in unnoticed.

I’ll share more lessons over the coming months as I learn them. The posts are divided into Spirit, Soul & Body and I tend to share lessons I have learned personally, not through books I have read- unless specified.

I hope your year has been fabulous- the fact that you’re alive reading this means that it was, for if we have no life there is no hope of things ever changing or getting better. If 2015 was your annus horibbilis, you are alive to learn lessons the pain brought with it, and use them as guiding principles in the coming year.

This year, I plan on staying open to lessons of life hidden in our day to day experiences. I won’t have resolutions per se, rather I’ll be sticking with guiding principles to help me navigate my way. I send you lots of love and encouragement to finish this year resolving to unearth your own traits and tools as opposed to searching everywhere else but inside you.

How about you? What lessons did you learn this year? Do you set resolutions or just go with the flow?

2015-02-17-08.49.37.jpg

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