22 Feb

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


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?
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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

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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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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?


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17 Dec

What to do instead of complaining

I got inspired to share this after I took on a project that wasn’t a good fit for me.  It was a simple project that was worth my while only if I set boundaries on just how far it stretched.  A bit like someone offering you £50 to drop off their child at school as you drop off yours, a one off event that doesn’t take you off course, but then they overstep their boundaries by later asking you to also collect the child and take said child home. You know you’re not a child minder but it’s a small task that you can fit in. You just didn’t bargain for added tasks and you can of course say no.

I found myself complaining about the project, even though I knew fully well what I was getting into. It was similar to a friend’s job situation. She needed a job desperately and took the first one she was offered to meet her immediate needs. Her plan was to leave after a few months as soon as she was back on her feet but 3 years later she is still there. And she spends a lot of time hating and moaning about the job, from the salary to her boss and the actual work at hand.

Here are the lessons I gleaned from both our stories:

1) People are entitled to make any offers or requests, they have a right to pay what ever they feel like for a role, you reserve the right to turndown the offer and move on.

2) Should you decide to take up the offer because of a single benefit in the grand scheme of things, for instance out of the 10 slices of the cake only one is palatable to you, don’t give your time and energy towards complaining about the other 9 that don’t serve your purpose. That is not why you took on the job. You did not accept the job because you wanted a good boss in your life, you accepted it because of an immediate financial need. Focus on making sure your slice meets that need while you work your plan for something better.

3) Set boundaries and stick to it. Your boundaries may be tasks, time or how much of yourself you’re prepared to give up. Don’t get comfortable and lazy thereby forgetting this was a temporal fix to a pressing need. Don’t try to fit your dreams or your tastebuds around the other 9 slices you are not there for.

4) listen to your soul. If your soul is unhappy, you may have overstayed your welcome. Move on. Dedicate your energy towards getting out as quickly as you can rather than trying to force your soul to be happy.

If you’re in a situation you’re unhappy with take some quiet time to evaluate why and how you got there. No longer serving your needs? It’s time to move on. It’s just one life.

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08 Nov

The Overfed Mind


The Cluttered Mind

Cancer occurs when a group of cells begins to multiply at an abnormally fast rate. In our world of bigger is better along with the constant persuasion to go for more, it would make sense if cancer actually increased our capacity to live a longer or more fulfilling life as far as physical abilities go. Of course, that’s not the case. Instead it destroys the body sometimes aggressively, at other times slowly but cancer is one disease no one wants to be diagnosed with. Saying the word is even a taboo, it is often called the ‘C’ word or ‘the big C’.

There’s an illness that seems to have pervaded our lives today which affects the mind in what appears to be the same way. It’s the force-feeding of our minds with an alarming amount of information. The medium is social media. If you don’t go looking for it, it will find you. This is when you feed your mind with excessive knowledge just because the information is present. If it was all healthy it wouldn’t be too bad- still bad but possibly not as dire as the deadly cocktails that are out there. I remember my mum telling my brothers and I, “too much of anything is bad,” this gem of wisdom was usually forced in us when we asked for another bottle of Coke, more cake or we wanted to spend all day riding our bikes. She always said it in relation to something we enjoyed and I learned that just because you enjoy something doesn’t mean it’s ok to overdose on it.

I use the main social media platforms for both business and personal purposes, and I started writing this post after I found myself scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed. I asked myself, “Toks, what exactly are you looking for?” And I had no answer to that question. I don’t know what I was looking for but I kept looking, and as I scrolled I came across a number of quotes, storylines, links, videos and pictures that had absolutely no bearing on my present circumstance or my future. I noticed the way businesses and media outlets trick you into clicking through. It’s phrases like ‘you won’t believe what this person did after they woke up this morning‘ Or, ‘10 celebrity homes that would make you doubt your reason for existence‘ or another ‘cuteness alert’ cat video. These target our own curiosity and address the issue of ‘am I having the best life or is someone else doing better than me?’ Is there a way I can improve my life so I don’t finish last? ‘What’s missing from my life?’

This morning I saw an advert for coaching where the coach offered to ‘help you clean out your mind’. I have no issues with coaches, I have friends who are good coaches and I have even engaged the services of one in the past. But my instant reaction was, all one needs is a pen and paper to declutter one’s mind. Wouldn’t I  be just the laziest person ever if I couldn’t even empty my own damn* mind?

There was another post where the business owner suggested that people are in search of a formidable leader who will help make their path clear. On the contrary, people do not need a leader, people want to be responsible for their own success and don’t want to attribute it to others. People want to have clarity, gain understanding and derive joy from seeing their own damn dreams come to life.

And my pet peeve- ‘Let me teach you to be successful,’ a generous offer from someone who clearly doesn’t understand the word success. These ones only ever attribute success to making money and constantly make irritating references to John Maxwell, 7 figure sums, and Tony Robbins. They are the curators of the ‘10 things you must do each day at noon to be successful’ and the ‘5 reasons you are not yet married, we love number 3′ type lists. These types don’t realise that to the woman in war-torn Sudan, a woman on minimum wage in the western world is very successful.

Rant over. I am not suggesting that you throw out OPI, other people’s opinion, but rather that you guard your mind. Just because you’re a John Maxwell follower doesn’t mean you should overdose on every book, phrase, or seminar that he offers- he’s a great guy with sensible information but if you only ever fill your mind with his own ideas, there’ll be no room for any of your’s to materialize. Have your own definition of success, trust it and live by it, not some other person’s idea. For some, success is losing weight but if I haven’t got a weight issue how exactly will their 12-day miracle diet plan help me? We are all unique individuals charting our own individual paths. We do not need to compare it with others’ to determine just how well we are doing.

*I couldn’t find a synonym for damn that would appropriately express my grievance with the issue. Please share when you find one?

Thank you for reading, do share your honest thoughts or rant!


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19 Jul

Dream Big? My thoughts on that

We are often charged to ‘Dream Big’ or ‘Dream Bigger’. Bigger is touted as better in our world today. I had a thought this morning about purpose as I read one of my favourite books. God’s plan and purpose for us is a lot bigger or much further than our plans, and it is not limited by our present resources or circumstance. One of my notes to self is the reminder not to make plans based on my current or present limited resources. My resources will increase along the way or better still, the right resource will be provided at exactly the right time.

Dream Big but be flexibleMartin Luther King Jr said it best when he said you don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step. It is normal to want to see the full extent of our resources before going out to war, but there are many instances where we simply have to trust, take a risk and move without seeing it all.

Dreaming Big can take us off our path- sometimes. Our ‘big’ may not even be the best plan for us. Just because something is big does not make it ideal for you. What if God’s big plan for you is completely different from your big plan for yourself? God’s plan fits in with his purpose for us, and our personality is built to be in sync with our purpose. That’s why not all successful people are happy. They arrive at the place of success and are not fulfilled because they are not living out their purpose.

Another misinformed concept is the belief that pain and difficulties along our journey is an indication that we are going the wrong way. Another post, another day.

The solution?

Dream big, but think loosely. Be flexible. Leave room for your big plans to evolve as you go on. Be ready to change course when your spirit tells you to. A straight road is ideal but there are flowers to smell and lessons to learn along the winding lane. Don’t be so rigid in your pursuit that you lock out God’s plan for you. To get to that point you first have to trust and believe His plan is way better than yours. I am not suggesting that you think small, or that you become mediocre and wait for stuff to happen, rather in your sizeable dreaming you should have more of an open or pliable mind and don’t place a limit on how far you can go, or indeed what direction you will take.

Have a glorious Sunday!

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15 Jul

Note to Self: Harnessing the Power of Our Emotions

A TV programme I was literally hooked on in the 90s was ‘The New Adventures of Superman’. This was the series where Superman morphed from Clark Kent to Superman with a flick of his hair and a pair of glasses. I don’t think they meant to make  Lois appear galactically stupid, but that’s what she ended up looking like.

One of my favourite episodes was the one where HG Wells visited Metropolis and enlisted the services of Lois & Clark to avert a would-be catastrophe by taking them on a ride in his time travelling machine. I have always (and still) fantasised about time travel.  While they were away in the future, Lois discovered that Clark was indeed Superman. She wrote the fact down because she knew her memory would be erased once they travelled back to the present and she’d have no memory of their journey.

When they did return, however, Clark stumbled on the piece of paper seconds before Lois saw it and with his speed of light skills, ripped it to shreds and she was none the wiser.

While we are sadly unable to indulge in time-travelling, there is something Lois did that we can do to help us navigate trying times. We sometimes swing from one extreme emotion to another. Like Lois, we know the emotional journey to a place of sadness will end and we’ll be back to our default setting when the storm passes. Similarly, we know that our sojourn into extreme bliss will eventually come to an end and we’d be back to our baseline emotion. Here’s what to do; while in the space of happiness, write down your thoughts, your emotions and  the things you feel certain & happy about. This is a good time to write goals and make plans for the future since your confidence level is at an all-time high, there’ll be no holding back. In those moments, you feel there isn’t anything that you cannot accomplish, do you agree?

What happens though when some event knocks the wind out of you? You may swing to the other extreme, or at the very least get back to ‘reality’, your default setting. You no longer believe, you might even berate yourself for making ‘stupid’ plans. You look at all the obstacles staring at you and suddenly you are not so certain that your plan is doable.

When you make up your mind to make a decision...In reality, all that’s happened is a change in emotions. Your emotions have affected your judgement, first for good and later for bad. What we need to do is harness the positive emotions while we’re in that space, write plans and make decisions to support that plan. Create a blueprint if you like and vow to follow it. The reason it is important to actually write this down is because when you return to reality, your memory and emotions will return to its usual state and it will be hard if not impossible to ride on those waves of confidence again. The quote above was written by Maya Angelou, she absolutely adored her brother and that was one of his favourite word of encouragement to her. I love and agree with it because it takes a certain amount of guts to make a decision, and guts are also required to follow through. Often when we decide to do something powerful and important and then procrastinate on following through we lose momentum and it may never get done.

I have a note to self  that I read when I’m discouraged. I wrote it while I had fearless conviction. It starts with, “These feelings of discouragement are not real Toks, they are temporary. Do not make crucial decisions or make any important plans now. Stick to Plan A…”  This little note to self has been a beacon of light that guides my path when I’m blinded by disappointment or anxiety.

Why don’t you write a note to yourself and see if you can harness the power of your emotions?

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