Today, I Chose To Write About Love.

Valentine’s Day is around the corner. In the spirit of “love”, I’ve opened up on how I view this phenomenon and what it means to me.

Today, I want to write about love. But, I’m not sure where to start.

Because, what can one say about this…experience that totally changes your heart? Valentine’s Day is around the corner and, of course, we’re all talking about love.

How wonderful it is. How painful it can be. How we wish it stayed. How it is such a mystery.

What is it about love? What is it about this thing that makes us want it and almost despise it at the same time? There’s a whole day dedicated to  ̶f̶̶̶i̶̶̶l̶̶̶l̶̶̶i̶̶̶n̶̶̶g̶̶̶ ̶̶̶t̶̶̶h̶̶̶e̶̶̶ ̶̶̶p̶̶̶o̶̶̶c̶̶̶k̶̶̶e̶̶̶t̶̶̶s̶̶̶ ̶̶̶o̶̶̶f̶̶̶ ̶̶̶c̶̶̶a̶̶̶p̶̶̶i̶̶̶t̶̶̶a̶̶̶l̶̶̶i̶̶̶s̶̶̶t̶̶̶s̶̶̶  love, and we’ve been speaking about it since the 26th of December.

What is it about love?

When I think about this sensation..this experience…this chain (because Lord knows once love catches you, it’s not trying to be released), the only words that come to mind are from Brene Brown:

To love is to be vulnerable.

I hear the word “vulnerable” and I think of pain. Because what could hurt more than letting your guard down and telling someone, “See. This is me,” not knowing whether they’ll wrap you with warmth, or leave you worse off.

To love is to be vulnerable.

Have you ever felt the intensity of love? 

Have you ever found your heart pounding, your body restless, and your mind racing, all because of love?

Has love ever woken you up? Shocked you?

I’ll be honest with you. Love scares me.

You see, it’s easy to talk about love when it brings you butterflies, makes you smile, and has you posting multiple heart-eyed emojis daily. But you have to accept that this isn’t the whole truth. 

No matter how much we may fight it, love is ever-changing ground.

Happy today. Strange tomorrow. Sometimes painful, too.

I’ve chosen to divide what love means to me, in 5 parts. Maybe you’ll relate.

To me:

Love is a risk

To open up your heart, let someone in, and also commit to exploring their world, means unveiling layers you usually keep closed. 

To love is to let someone into the places you reserve for yourself. It’s letting go of your guard and doing the things you don’t usually do. 

It’s looking silly. It’s laughing unrestrained. It’s going to the bathroom while they’re in the lounge. It’s showing them your anxiety. It’s revealing layers. 

Love is a risk because you lower your guard, hoping that you won’t be met with missiles. You can never know for sure how it will go. 

What is life without risk?

Imagine living such a careful life, to avoid disaster, you end up missing any chance at experiencing the fullness of life itself.

Love can go any way. And it’s on you to decide whether it’s worth it or not

Love is a journey

Where you start and where you end, when you let love in you won’t know.

But love will leave you a different person. Sometimes for the better – sometimes not. As you and the one whom you choose to share this journey with, take it day by day, you create a new stop on the map, a new road along the way, another mile on the meter. 

You experience each other at your highs, individually, together… 

You hold each other during the lows. 

You pick up the pieces after the times you cause them. You bandage each other when the wounds come up. 

And you get up each day, choosing to see where love will take you next.

Love can be pain…

We must remember that we grow in different homes. We don’t always get to grow up whole. Sometimes, our scars inflict pain. 

Our insecurities. 

Our tempers. 

Our fears. 

Sometimes we hurt each other, accidentally…sometimes intentionally. 

When you lay your heart bare before another, understand that as amazing as you may both be in each other’s eyes, there are times this sensitivity…this softness…will be mishandled. And it will hurt. 

There will be days you realize they are not the oasis you think they are, and you will remain parched. Disappointment scratching your throat. 

Love can hurt. But it should not kill you. 

A love that seeks to harm, intentionally and deliberately, is not the pain we excuse. It is not a pain to tell to stay. When love tries to take your life, beloved the love you have for yourself must overcome you so you can walk away.

 But even in simple love, love where you breathe life into each other, comes with pains. But it does not mean it will always stay. Because as much as love hurts…

Love also heals

As we come from different homes that put cracks in our “whole”, we also learn how to create warmth. 

We learn how to soothe wounds and grow fresh roots. 

We help in healing each other. 

With simple hugs, silent embraces, and affirming words that remind each other of why this earth rejoices at every breath you take. Love heals, too. 

It’s the “I’m sorry” after an argument, and the clear signs of changed behavior. It’s sending care packages before exams, during periods, and after a hard day at work. It’s breakfast in bed. It’s “I hear you”. It’s showing one another that you are seen. 

When love seeks to help and not to harm, you can see it. Thought times may be tough and doubts abound, a love that heals is what helps you both say, “One more day.” over and over again. 

Sometimes, a love that heals is also knowing when to let go.

Love can end.

I’m a firm believer in endless love.

I don’t believe that there is only one person for you. In this world of 7 billion? Only one heart is yours? That is cruel. 

I don’t think we’ll meet every heart that could be ours, and the few we meet might not always be the end.

 We live in a world where time can be faster than our expectations, situations throw certainty out the window, and sometimes love isn’t enough. Sometimes, two hearts cannot sustain it and out of the love they have for one another, they realize that the journey needs to end so that they can continue to grow, alone. There is no shame in a love that ends. 

And it will take time for you to be grateful that it passed you by. And sometimes you’ll wish you never met it, because the pain is just that much. Sometimes, love ends, and it’s okay. It doesn’t mean that’s the end for you though. There is new love ahead, maybe just..not right now. Not today. 

The heartbreak that comes from an ended love is enough to make people move countries, learn new languages, and cut off all their hair. Heartache from love drives people to write books, sing songs, and take hikes up Everest. Heartache from love makes one wonder why they opened up in the first place. But does it stop us from trying again? Usually…no.

Because no matter how many upsets, hiccups, and mishaps we encounter in the name of love…

Love is still worth it.

If I asked you to share your experiences with love, I’m sure you’ll have a volume of tales to give me. 

From seeing it on those sucrose-sweet happy-ending films, to reading about it in those books your mother told you not to read. 

From thinking you’d found it when you first saw their face in year 5, to feeling it the first time the two of you held hands. 

From regretting the times you gave it a chance, to throwing yourself into its arms again. I’m sure we all have our stories – and the scars to back them up, too. 

What is it about love that makes us keep searching? 

After recovering from the gutter, we find the strength to try again. We meet someone else and suddenly, we have hope again.

Accepting that it may hurt, and hoping that the healing will abound. We know what we’re signing up for the moment we let those words slip. The moment we feel it coursing through our veins.

To love is to be vulnerable.

To be vulnerable is to risk. Risk more pain. But we do it over and over again. We love because despite the mishaps, we believe that this is worth it.

 We see that it can be. We want it to be. And I don’t think there is any shame in that. 

You don’t need to be ashamed for wanting to love and to be loved. But it is on you to make sure that your heart is healthy enough to give and to receive.

So, this weekend as we prepare for the phenomenon that is Valentine’s Day, I hope you get a chance to think about love and what it means to you. I hope you are met with warmth and hope, even if, presently, you are alone.

I hope that you get to fully experience the gift that is a healing love. 

I hope that you find a love that feels like home.

I Wrote This For You: It’s Time To Start

You’re ready. You can feel it.

You’ve got the vision in your mind, you have the process rolled out, and you know that you’re ready to start.

But, you haven’t.

January was a test run. You’re easing into February. Deep down, however, you know that it’s not about the month. It’s about the daily struggle that is telling yourself to “just start”, revving yourself up….almost starting…and deciding to wait for the next day.

With every day that passes, with every “Tomorrow”, you find yourself becoming frustrated because you can’t figure out why you’re still standing on square one. 

Why haven’t you progressed to another part of the board?

Why are you still here?

You’re not alone in your thoughts. 

Launch paralysis is a real thing and you’re not the only victim. When you hear the words, “Just start”, you know that it’s true. You know that all you need to do is get out there and…well, start.

Have you considered that you feel stuck because of:

1. Fear: You’re afraid to get started.

Putting yourself out there is hard, in any capacity. 

The world can be very unkind and I’ve seen people laugh at, mock, and drag people who try something new. It doesn’t have to be online people, too.

Have you ever tried to tell a friend or family member about your new plans and they’ve shut you down?

It hurts when people greet your efforts with unkindness, whether you know them personally, or if they’re some random person from the internet.

I can’t take those feelings away, or promise you that the road ahead will be easy, but I can share a quote, from Brene Brown, that helped

“You either walk inside your own story and own it or stand outside your story and hustle for your worthiness”

No one can take the reins for you here, my friend. At the end of the day, the only one who can determine whether taking the first step is worth it…is you. 

But for what it’s worth, I’ll share another quote from Brene Brown,

“We need more people who are willing to demonstrate what it looks like to risk failure, disappointment, and regret. People willing to feel their own hurt instead of working it out on other people. People willing to own their own stories, live their value, and keep showing up.”

And, if fear doesn’t seem to be your “big block”, then maybe you’re struggling with…

2. Overwhelm: You don’t know how to start.

Information overload is a real thing.

 I’m a firm advocate of “Success happens when preparation meets opportunity”, but sometimes I overdo the preparing part. I research to the point that I’m aware of any potential way to get started, but I don’t know the right way to get started for myself. And then I remain stuck.

Can you relate?

There’s a difference between planning and acting. When you plan, you’re confident, you’re ready…you’re in control. You believe that you’ve got everything covered and that should help you execute successfully.

Until you actually start and you realize that there’s more to blogging than just writing. You have to set up an account on a platform of your choice, you have to pick a name, you have to share links with your network, you have to show up the next week.

You realize that after the first workout, you have to show up for the next one.

You realize that there’s life after just starting and it’s not as pretty as the picture in your head. You realize that to build that picture in your head…you have to keep going.

And that realization is enough to paralyze anyone. But, to climb this mountain:

You have to take it a day at a time.

Big pictures are built by consistent, tiny efforts. If you’re overwhelmed by information overload, it means that you are well-prepared. You’re over-prepared, actually. You just need to put that preparation into motion.

The best way to break the overwhelm is to take that overload, sift through the mess, and pick a point you’re comfortable starting with. It doesn’t need to be chronological – not right now. It just needs to be a point. Because once you’ve got that point out there, you’ll realize that:

  1. That wasn’t as hard as you feared it would be. And in case it was,
  2. You still got through it and got it done, anyway.

And once you realize that, you realize that you can build on that point with another part of all that information you’ve got stored up until you find a pattern that makes sense.

To find your process means to accept & navigate “the mess”. To find a solution means accepting there was a problem in the first place. You use your problem to identify the areas that need work.

You need to know your problem so you know what may be the cause of relapsing or becoming stagnant.

Becoming “comfortable” with it doesn’t mean being complacent. It means knowing it’s there without beating yourself up. 

Instead you remind yourself that you’re continually replacing the mess with the good, and each step you take is a step closer to a process.

The mess is part of the process. 

Perhaps, you’re struggling to accept this and you find that you’ve become comfortable with…

3. Waiting: You’re still searching for “perfect”.

You’ve been pushing off that date for the last six months to three years because the time hasn’t been right. 

You’re waiting for things to level out at work before you start offering your services on the side.

You’re waiting for next month to start adjusting your eating habits. You’re waiting for the right name to come in your head before you finally post.

You’re waiting…

You’re waiting…

“Yes, I’ll put something out there but…”

“I’ll get to it once I -”

“The time isn’t right, yet.”

This isn’t a call to apply pressure. I’m not trying to get you to stress yourself. But if you know, deep down, you’ve been holding on to your comfort zone in the name of waiting for the right time or circumstances, then I need to ask you, 

“When do you think the right time will come? And what does it look like?”

Sometimes, you block your progress with the vision in your mind, not realizing that reality & imagination aren’t the same. In this case, your dreams are holding you back because you’d rather stay in your mind and keep yourself from building in real life.

Sometimes, “just starting”, looks like:

– Creating an outline for your first blog post

– Writing the first (messy) chapter of your book

– Posting online, once a day

– A 15 minute workout

– Creating a free account on WordPress

– Finally taking that course that’s been chilling in your Udemy for over a year

– Asking for help

Your start doesn’t have to be a big gesture. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just needs to be something you can come back to later and tweak. Small efforts count, too.

Don’t overthink it. Because if you leave it to waiting, life will pass you by and one day you’ll ask yourself, “Why didn’t I start back then?”

“Just Start”: The Bottom Line

You have the bare minimum required to take the first step – you just need to accept it.

You don’t need to have 1000 customers before you unleash your side hustle. You don’t need to run 10km to officially start your fitness journey. And Lord knows you don’t need to cut out 5 different food groups to eat clean.

“Just starting” doesn’t require brazen bravery or bravado. Starting just needs your “yes” and your action.

And in case you need an extra push, I’ll leave you with these words:

“Start now. Start where you are. Start with fear. Start with pain. Start with doubt. Start with hands shaking. Start with voice trembling but start. Start and don’t stop. Start where you are, with what you have. Just… start.”

Ijeoma Umebinyuo

How To Make Sure You Start & Finish Your 2021 Goals

A simple, 5-step method to help you create realistic goals that you can work on and finish by the end of the year.

Am I the only one who started this year tired?

By the second week of January, I found myself keeling over my workspace, wondering,

“Is this how every year starts?” I couldn’t remember.

But I’ve had to remind myself that I’m still in the middle of a pandemic, still recovering from 2020’s trauma, and still trying to be a functional human being who shows up daily.

However, I don’t want to let my fatigue stop me from making the most of this year. I may not have started the year with the same zeal as 2020, but I’m ready to make the most of 2021.

It might be a good thing that I don’t have the same energy I had last year because friend? I was doing the most.

Setting Goals in 2021: What Happens When You Do Too Much?

I remember when I tried setting goals last year. I had a whole spreadsheet with categories & each category contained five goals. I can’t show you the sheet because some of those goals are too personal, but I’ll give an example. There was a section dedicated to learning and these were a couple of the goals:

Complete 2 courses in Front-End Web Development

Complete 3 courses in Copywriting

Complete 3 courses in After Effects & Motion Graphics

In one year? 

For context: I was a complete newbie for both Web Development & Motion Graphics. Also, each course I wanted to take was an average of 30 – 40 hours (of teaching, never mind the practice).

And this was just one part of my 2020 Goals. There were other courses I wanted to take, too. As well as 60 books I wanted to read, 2 websites I wanted to manage, and a new job I needed to look for.

Mind you, this was before we were hit with a pandemic.

In whose 2020 was I going to achieve this? 

When I wrote those goals, I wrote them in all sincerity. I thought I could really make it all happen.

Narrator: She did not make it all happen.

I didn’t complete a single course. But, I did manage to read 20 books, find a new job, and work on my personal development. The rest of that spreadsheet, though?

Nothing was achieved and I knew why. I was doing too much!

So, when I sat down to think of what 2021 was going to look like, I knew that I didn’t want to end the year with a number of incompletes. To avoid making that mistake, I had to go beyond identifying where I went wrong. I had to figure out how to do this right. So I created a process for myself that I’d like to share with you.

5 Steps to Creating 2021 Goals You’ll Actually Start and Finish

1. Ask Yourself: “What Do I Really Want?”

Do your goals really reflect what you want to achieve? Or are you onboarding other people’s aspirations, too, because they sound good?

In this age of social media, where we’re feeding off of people’s thoughts day in & day out, and sometimes it’s hard to find the line between inspiration & duplication. Are your fitness goals based on what you want for your health, or do you feel like it’s necessary to have these goals because of the current conversations occurring online?

Are you tailoring your productivity goals according to what you want to get out of your personal & professional life, or are you copy-pasting your favorite YouTuber’s process because you feel like it’s something you need too?

There’s nothing wrong with adopting ideas from other people because you’ve identified a gap in your life, but if you want to have a set of goals you’ll focus on, this year, then you need to vet them ruthlessly. Not just to say “These are my own”, but so that you don’t find yourself out of your depth.

Once you know what you want to have or be by the end of the year, you have your goals. Now you need to find a way to fit them into your schedule – which leads us to the next step:

2. Fit (Not Force) Your 2021 Goals Into Your Current Timetable 

Before you start adding new tasks to your list, you need to make sure that they won’t clash with the responsibilities you’re already managing.

I know you’re ready to do everything you can to get to the next level, but you need to be realistic with your time, too.

Being aware of the responsibilities that take your time regularly (daily, weekly, etc.) helps you understand how free you actually are. So, instead of operating with guesswork, you can intentionally set aside time to study, write, code, job search, etc.

I manage my obligations with my scheduling app – Woven. I’ve blocked out my work hours, meeting times, and I’ve also created “No meeting” times so that I’m not fastracking myself to burnout.

Now, I know when to tell people I’m free, instead of saying, “Hey I’m free on Tuesday!”, only to realize that I am not free on Tuesdays.

You shouldn’t just be aware of your blocked out time, you should have it readily available. 

You can use Google Calendar, a scheduling app, or a good ol’ planner to mark out your unavailable time. I’d suggest a digital method so that you can set recurring times and save yourself the stress.

 3. Be Honest About What You Can & Cannot Do

One of the reasons we fail to achieve our goals is because we try to force our bodies & minds to do too much.

Yes, you want to lose weight, but that doesn’t mean you need to fast for 20 hours a day and limit yourself to 4 hours of eating, especially if you’ve never fasted for longer than six hours before.

Yes, you want to become fitter but if you haven’t run 1km before, without collapsing, there’s no need to set expectations of running 10km regularly after your first month.

The secret to achieving your goals – and maintaining the results after – is to create a manageable process. Extreme diets work for a couple of months, but are you going to (honestly) live off of limited food groups for the rest of your life?

If you know you want to return to drinking, don’t go cold turkey. Focus on limiting your intake, setting appropriate boundaries, and also understanding why you tend to binge drink if that is a problem for you.

If you haven’t written a blog post in the last couple of years, and your schedule is a mess, beloved please don’t force yourself to write a blog a day. I tried this last year and it ended in hot tears (I’ll blog about this next week).

Instead of trying to do too much, too soon, and for no good reason, you should take time to understand yourself, understand your reasons for wanting to improve your life or level up, and work according to a level of “uncomfortable” that pushes you but doesn’t tip you over into relapsing.

People don’t like starting small because it feels like you’re achieving nothing. 

But one bit of “something”, done daily, is better than going hard one day, crashing for thirty days, and trying again only to give up completely.

So make your steps manageable & work with your constraints. If you know you hate running with a passion, don’t commit to running 10km a day. Try out other forms of exercise until you find one that works.

If you know reading “proper” books bores you to your core, don’t buy an entire library off of Kindle. Look into Audiobooks if that’s your thing and see if that works. Understand your limitations, and play to your strengths.

4. Throw Perfection In The Bin 

Here’s the truth: you’re going to fail. You can create as many backup plans, adopt as many accountability partners as you need to, and set up a fine system if you want to go the whole way, but there will be at least one (or a few more) times where you’ll want to give up…and that will happen.

You’ll miss a workout and take a break for a while. You might gain a couple of kg’s back. You won’t post a blog every week – something will come up. You’ll fall.

You will fail.

And that is okay.

The only way to get things right is to discover what makes them wrong, in the first place. You can’t correct or perfect a process if you can’t see the errors.

One of the reasons why we give up on our goals is because we become frustrated with the fact that we aren’t reaching the vision in our minds. We aren’t hitting the pace we envisioned. We aren’t dropping the pounds as fast as we want to be. We aren’t loving kale chips, cauliflower wings, etc.

To achieve your goals, and keep the results long after, you need to understand that you’re going to make a lot of mistakes along the way. Heck, there are times where you’ll quit – and it won’t be for a couple of days.

The only thing that will help you come back is committing to show up – and you do that by remembering why you started in the first place. Which brings me to our final point, which should’ve been the first one but we’re shaking up things a little.

5. Don’t Forget Why You Started

You’ve got a tough road ahead of you. 

The fact that you want to level up means you’re leaving a habit or flow that you’ve been maintaining for years. The pull-back will be strong. The temptation to quit and withdraw even stronger. Fatigue will kick in when the novelty of what you’re doing fades & that’s when you’ll have to keep pushing.

Remember when I said you’ll fall off a couple of times? The only reason you’ll come back is when you remember why you started. So write it down. Keep it in front of you. Vision board it.

Goal-Setting 2021: The Bottom Line

The reason why you’re so set on achieving your goals is because you want to make a change in your life for the better. So instead of focusing on how to get there quickly, think about the best process to keep it going for longer than a few months, a year, etc.

This may mean reframing your goals and thinking of a more permanent solution. Upgrading your goal to a system. Where you constantly contribute to being & doing better, instead of trying to hit a checkpoint and feeling clueless afterwards.

This is falling into a new topic, so I’ll leave it here for today. 

be kind to yourself throughout the whole way. Here are a couple of tools that can help you win:

Bonus: Chipo’s Top 3:

Tools to Help You Achieve Your 2021 Goals:

Book: Atomic Habits by James Clear

App: Productive App

Scheduling: Google Calendar

From 2020, With Love: 6 Lessons I’m Carrying Into 2021

Reflections on 2020: the year we never asked for, never expected, but survived nonetheless.

If you want a quick summary of this article click here.


What a year.

We’ve lost so many people this year. To COVID-19. To cancer. To accidents. To illnesses. To suicide. To police brutality.

What a year.

We processed grief together. We questioned life alone. We fought for human rights and saw the raw evil that is systemic oppression.

What a year.

And still, we tried to find a way to make the most of this season. We tried to revive Christmas. We tried to hope.

What a year.

And to think, it didn’t start this way.

January 2020 looked like hope. It looked like real, tangible hope. You could feel it everywhere you went.

Social media was teeming with threads on Vision Boards, Setting Goals, and Levelling Up. This was meant to be the year.

The year we were getting new jobs, getting our money right, and kissing the nightmare that was 2019, goodbye.

The hype only lasted a week.

In January alone, World War 3 almost broke, Australia was on fire, a volcano erupted in the Philippines, Turkey experienced an earthquake, locusts invaded Eastern Africa, and we lost Kobe and Gigi. The coronavirus was well under way, and that hope started shaking.

We chested January and thought, “Okay, that was bad. But it’ll get better.”

Narrator: It did not get better.

You know how the rest of the story goes. By March, most of the world was in lockdown and life stopped looking normal. Jobs, dreams, and plans were put on pause, supermarkets ran out of toilet paper and we started baking bread.

Somewhere in the middle of the year life returned to a pseudo-normal for a bit but as it stands, we’re all at home again and COVID-19 is not letting up.

2020 was a surprise breakthrough year for a lot of people, too. New businesses. New jobs. Loads of marriages (did I miss the town hall where we agreed that this is what we were going to be doing?). And even babies!

What a year.

We all have different stories to tell when we’re asked about 2020.

I summed up mine in these 6 lessons:

1. Plans were not meant to be set in stone

People had plans this year. And when those plans were forced to take a backseat to survival and adaptation, most of us didn’t know what to do.

I’m sure we haven’t forgotten the feelings of grief and confusion that occupied our chests as we tried to figure out where on earth to start.
Some of us had just started jobs that were meant to change everything…and then they were snatched away.


There were many of us who were looking forward to relocating to a new country for a fresh start…and then the world shut down.
Relationships were thrown into disarray and life stopped making sense. Weddings cancelled, engagements postponed, birthdays hushed…

We lost the plans we were looking forward to and had to settle for Zoom, Twitter, and banana bread.

I remember my own pain.

In the heap of grief and frustration, I looked at my vision board. I sighed many times as I deleted the planner I’d designed for this year. I responded to reversed job offers with, “It’s okay. I understand. We never expected this to happen.”

I mourned. I waited. I cried.

But at some point, I realized that this wasn’t going to go away. The uncertainty. My dead plans were not going to come to life.

I had to accept that things were not going to go the way I’d hoped and it was time to adjust. Because that is part of our lives. That is our reality.

We will make plans, we will fill them with the highest of our hope, but that won’t stop them from changing. And we need to prepare for that – not with baited, anxious breath.

But, rather, with an understanding that change happens, life can turn upside down, and we will be required to adapt.

Which brings me to the next lesson:

2. If you can’t control it, wing it.

In a year like 2020, you come to realize that you’re going to have to become comfortable with leaping when you don’t know what’s waiting for you below.

You have to become comfortable with taking risks.

Think about it: At one point, doing the weekly grocery run was a risk. We didn’t know if we’d come back from the store without picking up the virus.

But we still went. Because we knew that it had to be done…otherwise how were we going to eat?

And though the end-result differed for each of us, we still chose to keep going to the store. We kept taking the chance. We did it afraid.

This was a scary year. It still is.

Things we thought were safe fell from our grasp and suddenly, nothing made sense.

Anytime we caught our breath, something else would happen.

How many times did you find yourself crying out, “When will this end?

There were times where it was hard to enjoy the good moments. If you’re someone who deals with anxiety, then you know this feeling very well.

So, to curb the overwhelm and cope better, we created our own, personal safe houses.

Schedules and systems that involved no risk at all. That required as little redirection as possible and no need for taking chances. We reduced our hope to minimal levels in order to cope. And for a while it worked.

But, safe houses only feel good for a little while. Until you realize that you’ve been cooped up for so long, you’ve missed out on your life.

The truth is: even when this pandemic is over, you’ll find yourself still having to take chances.

Having to hope. Having to leap without knowing how it will pan out.

And you’ll have to leave the safe house because that house is not life. You can keep it for the days you need to rest and just be, but you cannot make it your home.

This year has taught us how fleeting this life is. How quickly things change…and end. The time you have is a gift.

And I believe the only way to live that time out is with as much intention as possible.

You can do that by:

3. Making the most of the things you can control

I’m the type of person who doesn’t like not being in control.

Now, I won’t be the person to engineer things to work in my favor, no. But I like being in situations where I’m familiar with the odds. I like to know what I’m walking into.

Enter: 2020.

I’ve found myself in situations where there was nothing I could do to change the circumstances, or even fix the outcomes. My anxiety peaked so many times throughout this year, I can’t even think of individual moments to use as examples.

My response to overwhelming situations used to be “Freeze and Sleep”.

I’d become listless until something magcally worked out. A reaction like that only works in the short-term. You can’t freeze and sleep when you’re unemployed, got bills due, and money from home isn’t an option.

This year I finally learned to pay attention to the quote, “Focus on the things you can control, and leave the rest to God.” And if you don’t believe in God, still focus on the things you can control.

So in overwhelming situations, where I knew there was nothing else I could do, I’d work on what was within my grasp and accept what was out of my reach.

For example, when I was painfully unemployed, I knew I couldn’t force anyone to give me a job. So, instead, I focused on what I could:

  1. Trailing job boards and applying to everything that fit my scope
  2. Constantly reviewing and updating my CV and freelancer profiles
  3. Putting my best foot forward in all my interviews
  4. Taking courses & reading books to improve my writing and marketing skills

I’m big on the “Preparation Meets Opportunity” mantra and I’ve tried to apply it in my life where possible.

When you focus on the things you can control, you’re preparing yourself for the good outcomes you’re looking for.

It’s definitely way better than freezing and sleeping….though stress naps do have their benefits…on occasion.

Another lesson from this year, had less to do with practical skills and much more to do with emotions:

4. Anger has its place…but know when to show it the door.

This lesson was personal.

I’m well acquainted with most of my emotions – happiness, joy, sadness, angst, love, excitement, and the ones in between. But one emotion I’ve never sat with, never given the time of day, is anger.

You see, my personality revolves around trying to look on the brighter side of life while doing anything I can to avoid conflict and uncomfortable moments. So, any form of anger I experience is often shoved under the rug and left there until further notice.

But, the problem with sweeping things under rug is this:

The moment you do, you relinquish your ability to control how and when it comes out. And when it comes out…it’s never pretty.

Anger made me bolder and brazen, yes.

But it also flared up my anxiety, worsened my angst, and left me lashing out left, right, and center. I recently had to own up and apologize to someone who was the main recipient of this anger.

When he called me out on it, I had two choices:

  1. Double down, throw blame, and justify my rage (because that’s what it really was)
  2. Or actually own up to the fact that, even if I felt hurt or aggrieved, my anger had hurt him and a lot of my acting out was unnecessary.

I’m glad I chose option 2.

It also helped me realize that while we’re encouraged to be angry, I think we need to be sure that anger doesn’t blind us. Blind us to the point where our actions cause more harm than good.

That doesn’t mean you should stifle anger and ignore it.

No, you’re angry because something happened to you, or someone else, and you’re not okay with what happened. Maybe you were hurt. Maybe you were harmed. Don’t disregard that anger, it is valid and should be felt. It should be expressed.

But, as the title of this section says, anger has its place. Give it room to speak, to be felt, to be acknowledged. However, do not let it overstay its welcome.

Because more often than not, this is when we end up becoming no better than the people who harmed us.

And where you get a chance to heal through your anger and make amends (not out of force, but only where it is possible), please do.

This life is short and tomorrow is not guaranteed.

Which brings me to my second last lesson:

5. Love on your people. Love on them as much as you can.

Life is short.

Painfully short.

This year has robbed us of so many people.

We’ve lost people we looked up to. It feels like Death was the theme of the year, and everytime we’ve tried to come to terms with it…someone else goes.

Don’t wait for the next time you’ll see someone to tell them what they mean to you. Don’t put off that phone call, text, etc. I know this message is everywhere, but it is for a reason.

We need to be intentional about the way we treat the people we love. This is one place where procrastination can’t work. This is one place where we can’t keep saying “Tomorrow”. Tomorrow isn’t promised and it hurts to think of it.

Give your people their flowers while they’re alive. While they can respond to you. If you have conflict in your life that you can resolve, do it if you still care for that person.

Don’t let tragedy strike before you realize the importance of forgiveness and reconciliation.

Love on your people as much as you can. Until it tires them. And I hope you receive all the love you deserve, too.

6. Lastly, be kind about your progress. You remind yourself of your failures enough.

The end of the year is a time where people start thinking about ways they can do better.

Progress and performance reviews are done, shortcomings are analyzed, and more goals are created.

But, can you make time to acknowledge and dwell on the good progress you’ve made this year? Can you take stock of the areas you got things right, no matter how small, and give yourself credit for what you’ve done?

This has been a heavy year, even with the wins and accomplishments. While you may want to forget this year and turn 2021 into the year 2020 should have been, take time to sit in your progress and acknowldge that what you did was remarkable.

You survived. You pushed through. You gave life another chance.

Those aren’t small wins, friend. Treat yourself with the celebration you deserve.

And one last reminder:

You’re in the middle of a pandemic that changed everything. Of course you’re stressed, disoriented, and exhausted.

You have woken up to terrifying headlines, day in and day out. You’ve had hope snatched from you and nothing was given to replace it. You’ve lost in ways that can’t be described.

But you’ve also won.

You’ve chosen to give each day another chance, even if this was done with a bare sliver of energy.

You’ve chosen to show up. To find ways to make up for the setbacks. You’ve tried.

You’ve rested. You’ve acknowledged your limits. You’ve listened to your body.

The year ahead is one filled with hope…and angst. Will it be 2020+? Will we lose even more? Will we get to see “normal” again?

I don’t know. I wish I had answers. There’s only one thing I want to be certain about.

You’re going to be okay. We’re going to be okay.

We’ll cry our tears. We’ll laugh until our cheeks hurt. And we will wake up everyday and find a way to give life another chance.

We will be okay.

TLDR | Well done, friend. You made it (summary)

These summaries are for anyone who wants to get the “important” parts of the article and finish it in less than 2 minutes. By the way TLDR stands for “Too Long, Didn’t Read”.

These summaries are for anyone who wants to get the “important” parts of the article and finish it in less than 2 minutes. By the way TLDR stands for “Too Long, Didn’t Read”.

Intro:

Reflections on the year we never asked for, never expected, but survived nonetheless.

My six lessons from 2020:

1. Plans are not meant to be set in stone

“We will make plans, we will fill them with the highest of our hope, but that won’t stop them from changing. And we need to prepare for that – not with baited, anxious breath.

But, rather, with an understanding that change happens, life can turn upside down, and we will be required to adapt.”

2. If you can’t control it, wing it.

” So, to curb the overwhelm and cope better, we created our own, personal safe houses.

Schedules and systems that involved no risk at all. That required as little redirection as possible and no need for taking chances. We reduced our hope to minimal levels in order to cope. And for a while it worked.

But, safe houses only feel good for a little while. Until you realize that you’ve been cooped up for so long, you’ve missed out on your life.

The truth is: even when this pandemic is over, you’ll find yourself still having to take chances.

Having to hope. Having to leap without knowing how it will pan out.

And you’ll have to leave the safe house because that house is not life. You can keep it for the days you need to rest and just be, but you cannot make it your home.

“This year has taught us how fleeting this life is. How quickly things change…and end. The time you have is a gift.”

3. Making the most of the things you can control

“For example, when I was painfully unemployed, I knew I couldn’t force anyone to give me a job. So, instead, I focused on what I could:

  1. Trailing job boards and applying to everything that fit my scope
  2. Constantly reviewing and updating my CV and freelancer profiles
  3. Putting my best foot forward in all my interviews
  4. Taking courses & reading books to improve my writing and marketing skills

I’m big on the “Preparation Meets Opportunity” mantra and I’ve tried to apply it in my life where possible.

When you focus on the things you can control, you’re preparing yourself for the good outcomes you’re looking for.”

4. Anger has its place…but know when to show it the door.

“…we need to be sure that anger doesn’t blind us. Blind us to the point where our actions cause more harm than good.

That doesn’t mean you should stifle anger and ignore it.

No, you’re angry because something happened to you, or someone else, and you’re not okay with what happened. Maybe you were hurt. Maybe you were harmed. Don’t disregard that anger, it is valid and should be felt. It should be expressed.

But, as the title of this section says, anger has its place. Give it room to speak, to be felt, to be acknowledged. However, do not let it overstay its welcome.

Because more often than not, this is when we end up becoming no better than the people who harmed us.”

5. Love on your people…love on them as much as you can.

“We need to be intentional about the way we treat the people we love. This is one place where procrastination can’t work. This is one place where we can’t keep saying “Tomorrow”. Tomorrow isn’t promised and it hurts to think of it.

Give your people their flowers while they’re alive. While they can respond to you. If you have conflict in your life that you can resolve, do it if you still care for that person.

Don’t let tragedy strike before you realize the importance of forgiveness and reconciliation.”

6. Lastly, be kind about your progress. You remind yourself of your failures enough.

“But, can you make time to acknowledge and dwell on the good progress you’ve made this year? Can you take stock of the areas you got things right, no matter how small, and give yourself credit for what you’ve done?

This has been a heavy year, even with the wins and accomplishments. While you may want to forget this year and turn 2021 into the year 2020 should have been, take time to sit in your progress and acknowldge that what you did was remarkable.

You survived. You pushed through. You gave life another chance.

Those aren’t small wins, friend. Treat yourself with the celebration you deserve.”

Final Point:

We will be okay

You can find the whole article Here.