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Yesterday I felt like I was falling apart, today I feel like I’m on top of the world!  It’s not just that I have a manic personality, but I did some soul searching before I went to bed last night and again when I woke up at 4.30am.

Despite getting almost two weeks off work (a staycation nonetheless), I came back to the office feeling like it was the end of the year, not the beginning.  While everyone else (across social media mainly) were elated about the promise a new year brings, the opportunity to get it right, I was still reeling from the aftermath of last year.  Fear was setting in.

Love yourself first and everything else falls into line copy

How were we going to tackle our plans, as grand as they are?  How were we going to add value to our current offering?  How were we going to meet our shortfall?  What were we going to do about staff, replace them or do it all ourselves, or hire consultants?  So many questions, not enough answers. 

As if that wasn’t bad enough, my personal life was overwhelming me too.  I’d never been in a situation where both my personal and professional life felt this out of control.

So I decided to take a step back.  I turned off the music as I was working out, and actually talked to myself to get to the root of the problem of it all.  

Yesterday my friend sent me an article about Black girls loving themselves and it really struck a cord.  I spend so much time saying yes to people in my life even if it’s at the expense of my own ‘yes’.  I’m a giver.  And professionally, I’ve always lived by the ‘fake it until you make it’ motto, without stopping to think of when I did make it! 

I just have never found the opportunity to be still and listen to my inner self – not the self depreciating inner self.  But the one who says, ‘hold on, why are you so worried?  you have countless successes, that you did.’  The one who says ‘don’t listen to the haters, don’t worry about what other people think, you don’t need validation because you ARE good enough’.

We all have that inner voice that we suppress, wanting to listen to the critical, harsh voice instead of the nurturing one that speaks of our strength.  That is what it means to love yourself.  It’s to recognise the wonderful, beautiful, capable, strong person that you are – even if no one else sees it.

This world is filled with so many people who hate themselves and want to pull other people down (ugly people I call them), why do it to yourself?  Be one of the beautiful people, not just to the people around you, but to yourself too.  And then take care and nurture yourself too.

A friend of mine once said to me that she didn’t know what had happened in my life to make me this strong, this focussed on my career, but yet so critical and hard on myself.  And I do think there are things in life that try to break us, or indeed break us, and we react to it.  But we don’t have to.  Those things aren’t who we are, they aren’t what we are, and they shouldn’t break you down.  As Whitney (Houston darling) said, ‘I was not made to break’ and neither were you.

Being in love with yourself (aka loving yourself) is an every day journey.  Look in the mirror and tell yourself how much you love yourself – seems weird, but when I look in the mirror and say ‘I love me some her’ (as I think Tamar Braxton would say it), it puts a smile on my face and I can hold my head up just a little bit higher.

As women we look for love in so many places except inside ourselves.  Why are you waiting for a man to tell you how beautiful, special, extraordinary, amazing you are?  How much he loves you, and you make him that more of a person because he has you in his life?  What for?  Tell yourself these things because they are true about you to yourself.  YOU complete You!

My aim is to start this year (which for me is starting now, I’ll ignore the first 7 days when I felt overwhelmed and anxious!), with some inner self-reflection, and some inner self-love.  Taking care of me.  Besides if I love myself and take care of myself, I have more to offer others too – which is ultimately what I like to do – I just won’t do it at the expense of myself, of my soul, and of my well being.

I love me some me.  I’m going to date me.  I’m going to mentor me.  I’m going to trust me.  I’m going to be the me I no longer need to fake.  I have nothing to prove to anyone.  As Drake says ‘I’m a worry ‘bout me’.

It’s not selfish – I think we tend to worry that this way of being is selfish.  It’s not indeed, it’s self-love.  Embrace it, embrace you, and love you like the amazing person you are!

Last week we buried my uncle (for the purpose of our Zambian tradition where everyone is an uncle, I mean my mother’s brother). At the same time, my sister buried her husband’s sister. Yesterday, we found out a close family friend’s brother had died.

Death, they say, is a natural progression of life. But we like to think that death comes at the end, when you’ve lived your life, when you’ve enjoyed your life. Looking at the people I know who have died in the last week, that isn’t always the case.

When people die, we feel sad, we mourn their life, we ask God why He had to take them away, we try to accept that it was their time and we need to move on with our lives. We feel for those who have lost a life partner – a husband or a wife, those who have lost a child, a parent, a sibling, shake our head, say a prayer, and move on with our life. Unless it’s an immediate loved one, we easily move on with our lives, and hope for the best for those who have been left behind.

From my experience, those who have been left behind, focus on the death, sometimes unable to move on, hoping to find an answer as to why the person died. In my own life, I’ve lost (why do we say that, like they’ve been misplaced?) two brothers, now two uncles, a nephew, a best friend, and numerous aquaintance. My reaction to their deaths is based on my relationship with them. One brother, I felt like I lost a part of me, but I was also riddled with guilt – had I done enough for him while he was alive, sadly I always knew the answer was no. And even in his death, I’m failing to honor his memory properly – but that’s another blog.

Now, as I’m older, I look at death in a different way, a reminder to live life – every day. With my uncle’s passing, which was truly tragic, because it didn’t have to be, he died alone – none of us as his family there, all getting on with our lives, always thinking there was tomorrow to see him, tomorrow to check on him, tomorrow to pay him attention, tomorrow for anything he might need. Yet we all forgot the fundamental words – that the present, is a gift.

We do this all the time, take the present for granted. Always thinking about tomorrow. There are definitely times when you need to think about tomorrow, if it’s about finances, or education, or a career, but when it comes to relationships, tomorrow is definitely not something we should worry about. Relationships are very much in the present, and that’s all relationships you value be it a boyfriend or girlfriend, husband or wife, parent, or child, or sibling. Those you can’t get back tomorrow.

Even as I write this, I struggle questioning my own relationship, looking at the flaws and wondering if I can deal with them, as opposed to looking at the positives and recognising the fact that this might not be the ideal relationship I always dreamt of, but that it is the perfect relationship I’ve been in my whole life. Should I keep looking at tomorrow for the answer or enjoy the present I have in my life today?

We always question the meaning of life, asking what our purpose on life is, but we can go through all of life only to die without knowing our purpose. Perhaps our purpose is in death, to remind those who live to truly live life and know what we value in life before we die and are returned to the earth.

I read somewhere (a UK newspaper) that the 30s in women is described as flirthysomethings. Supposedly life is the happiest at this age. In our 30s we women seem to have ‘found’ ourselves, or at least we’re more accepting and comfortable with the women we’ve become – flaws and all.

What it also means is that we’re also at our sexual peak – there is a definite co-relation between confidence and sexual behaviour. But we’ve also had some practice to realise what we like and what we don’t like. Probably the best time to be in a relationship – you know what you want as a fully developed person.

The downside is that we have that very real biological clock ticking as well as the social pressures that come with being an unmarried woman in her 30s. Just the other day my mum remarked we needed to be nice to our relatives as we’d need them when planning my kitchen party – I ignored the comment.

However, now that I am in a somewhat stable relationship these two issues can’t help but rear their annoying heads. Kids? Well my partner has enough for both of us, but do I want my own, one that grows in me? Erm, not really. Call me selfish but I’m just not ready to turn my whole life upside down for anyone else, I like my life just as it is, and I like spending money on fun things, like shoes and parties, and not on real life things – diapers, school fees etc (I don’t quite make enough money for both). Marriage? Now that’s a tricky one. I really want to wear a wedding dress, I think they can be so pretty. And I am a romantic at heart, I like the idea of spending the rest of my life with someone I love (doesn’t everyone though?).

It’s definitely too early to even consider marriage with my current partner, but somehow in your 30s you really do start thinking about all these grown up things. Time becomes more precious – do I really want to invest in a relationship that might not be going anywhere? But at the same time, I don’t want to walk into a relationship analysing everything to see if he is husband material. Hmmm so dating really doesn’t get any less complicated in your 30s does it? I guess I’ll wait to see if it gets any easier in my 40s – though I do have awhile to go before I get there.

As we’ve entered the new year, I think it’s only right that I start on a note that is important to all of us, love and relationships. For this post I’m going to focus particular on love and relationships relating to the opposite sex (or same depending on your inclination), because this is something I’ve been experiencing for the last couple of months.

I can hardly believe that it’s been almost six months since I started seeing Mr Mature, as I don’t have the best track record of choosing men, I’ve had my fair share of cheaters, liars, dogs, bad boys, commitment phobes, you name the problem man, I’ve probably dated him. And I use the term dating, loosely! My longest mutually monogamous relationship probably lasted all of three months. Going in with Mr Mature, I didn’t really know what I wanted, but I knew it was nice to have this attractive, intelligent, successful, kind man want to be with me. However, I was also wary that he was into me purely for my young, seductive appeal – I tend to lean more towards sexy than beautiful in men’s eyes.

Months later, we’re still together and dare I say ‘in love’? But it’s definitely not without its challenges. I think while there is definite positives for dating at an older age, when you know yourself better, have more confidence, higher self-esteem etc, it does mean that you come with your own share of baggage from failed relationships, traumas, pre-conceived ideas of what a relationship should be and even a level of stubborness as you’re used to your own life, your way and nothing else.

Sometimes it’s easier to throw in the towel and keep on stepping until you find the perfect match. But then you ask yourself if such a think exists, without putting any work into it? Think about everything in life, what has come to you without you having to put any effort and work into it?

I am a big believer in communication – Mr Mature isn’t great at communicating, which is scary at times, but I think he hears me. One thing he always says to me is don’t change for me, don’t do stuff just to please me. As women, I think it’s too easy for us to compromise to please our partners, but when you are constantly compromising then you get miserable and unhappy. Relationships are a two way street, both partners have to make an effort, and while I don’t advocate in constantly banging your peeves to your partner, I do think that if something bothers or hurts you, you have to speak up about it. Sometimes your partner doesn’t even know that that’s how you’re feeling.

What I’ve found particularly difficult is divorcing my past (baggage and issues) from this relationship. It’s not that it ever crosses my mind to think that he’s unfaithful – though in Zambia, that would hardly be surprising, and even he thinks that I think he’s up to no good because of his lack of communication at times, but that’s not it at all. I think as women we tend to know our partners are cheating, we just choose to ignore it, so that isn’t the thing I worry about – plus unlike previous relationships, I never went into it thinking he would cheat!

But it’s other things, and I feel that sometimes I let my past experience determine my present. In 2012, I do want to put the baggage behind me and remember that the present is a gift and (just another cliche for effect), life is too short to be miserable. I know I have a good man, and I’m pretty sure he knows he has a good woman, will we last? Who knows, but it’s more important to love for today. You also can’t live your life being scared of another failed relationship – though it does make me laugh that he thinks my ‘independence’ is what has kept me from a deep, meaningful relationship! – I will continue to communicate and if that freaks him out or becomes too much for him, so be it, it just means we weren’t met to be. It will hurt, but it won’t kill or break me.

Love and relationships should be fun, should make you grow as a person, not make you sad, miserable and break you down. If it does, then you need to ask yourself why are you in that relationship? Remember, another person does not define who you are as a person, they might help make you a better person, but only a better person of who you already are. Love you more than you love anyone else, so that you can give healthy love to another.

Love and peace in 2012 – I wish you all the best and happiness – for all of us!

As I get older people keep asking me ‘Don’t you want to settle down? And/Or have children?’. My honest response is ‘I don’t know’. My ‘happily’ married friends with kids don’t understand this – allegedly having kids complete you. But I genuinely don’t know. I’ve been single for so long and am finally content with the idea that being single is ok, that I don’t know if I’d like to trade it in for a settled, committed relationship. I admit that occasionally I do think it would be nice to snuggle up to someone on those days that are particularly tough and just have that person whose shoulder you can lean on when the going does get tough. It is hard being superwoman all the time. Sometimes I do think it would be nice to have the Clyde to my Bonnie (not in the criminal sense though).

But on the downside, I always think of the hurt and pain you feel when you fall for someone and they break your heart. No one likes feeling rejected. I do always get up and brush myself off, so rarely do people know that I’m hurting. So every time I meet someone I’m slightly wary, not wanting to get hurt. Recently I let my guard down. I’ll call him Mr X. I’d met Mr X a few years ago but never really paid him no mind, not really sure why, I guess it was such a brief encounter at the time.

This time round we got to spend some time together and had a lot of fun, he made me smile. Though he’s physically attractive (ok hot) he made me feel like I was the most beautiful woman in the world. He made an effort, and just made me feel… wanted. It had been a while since anyone made me feel that special. I really didn’t want to fall for him, it was complicated, least not because I was leaving the country, or rather, the continent.

It’s not so much that I fell for him, but I definitely waited expectantly (if it was an M&B I’d say with bated breath) for him to text me – hey calls abroad are expensive – or for his email. But at the back of my mind I knew it was just a matter of time… Less time than I’d thought. It was totally understandable but it didn’t stop that sinking feeling at the pit of your stomach. It also knocks your confidence and leaves you thinking, ‘why me?’. Or even, ‘was I played?’, which is even worse, no one likes to think they’ve been played. I don’t have the best relationship history so of course these thoughts always cross my mind, though sometimes it really is a case of wrong timing. Doesn’t make it any easier to deal with though.

I know people always say you have to take the risk of getting your heart-broken to find true love but I’m kind of happy avoiding that altogether and just having fun as a single, flirty, young woman.

As for babies? Well, I’m not sure I want to lose my body. Yep, I’m kind of vain. I also don’t know if I’m ready to change my lifestyle to fit in a baby, can’t they fit into my lifestyle? Not that I’m that self-centered…

I think I don’t mind the idea of being pregnant – there’s something very fascinating about the idea of carrying a life in you – it seems like some weird concept. But… I don’t know…

Anyway, today has made me think a lot about these issues and I’m still stumped. Maybe it’s just the fear of it all. Being, single, and free to mingle, is something I’m comfortable with, so it makes it easier for me to stay that way. But I’m not cynical, or bitter, and I do believe at some point I’ll settle down… eventually.