a better place

“Heal the world
Make it a better place
For you and for me
And the entire human race”.

– Michael Jackson.

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Hello beautiful people!

From the title and the introduction of this post, it may be obvious to some at this point that I am a Michael Jackson fan. A few months ago, I wrote a post about implementing affirmations in my life under the title, ‘Starting with the girl in the mirror’. I don’t mean to sound so self-righteous, but the truth is I appreciate and deeply respect anyone who makes art with a good intention because I could say I do feel that intent in their work. While putting this post up, ‘Heal the World’ kept playing in my head and I thought it was such an appropriate accompaniment to what I’m trying to express today.

I am gradually becoming more aware of the thoughts and actions I put out in the world recently. It is becoming clear that whatever energy you put out will ultimately come back to you in some form or the other. Just like gravity, what goes up must come down. It’s the same with your thoughts and actions, whatever you put out will come back to you. And so it is important to observe what energy you are inclined towards, and that you should always lean towards the positive.

These past few days, there has been a disconnect in my psyche and I feel like I have been less ‘aware’ of what is going on around me. Work has been busy. I’ve been overworking myself and in practising gratitude for all that I have – I see it as a blessing – but I could feel it wearing me down so here I am. Taking a back seat on life briefly to write on here and talk about how I feel. You see, coming up with not only pictures but appropriate text requires a certain level of focus and presence, it forces me to be still with the intent to create something authentic every single time. It’s like taking time off from the noise – be it music, or thoughts about a million other responsibilities – to just be silent, and I have found it to be very therapeutic.

I’ve had to question my emotions, and try to figure out the root cause of the discomfort or joy I experience. Being at peace and joyful is just wonderful, isn’t it? With time, I’ve managed to reach a point where I can now check my thoughts and control the effect they have on my mood. It is not easy, but I have to admit that it has gotten easier with practice. Somehow as human beings, the easiest state to be in is the ‘victim’. The better state to be in is problem solving, but it is also a challenge to come to this realization most of the time. It doesn’t have to be this way, and so I hope I will master this practice. I look forward to when it becomes as mindless as breathing.

It may sound abrasive and contradictory in some way, but ever since I began this exercise I’ve had to consciously force myself to stay in a positive state of mind and/ or situations that improve my mood and help me stay present. I bombard myself with affirmations, audio books and positive text even when I’m not feeling particularly great. Especially when I’m not feeling great. I question myself at times, wondering what the hell am I doing? But I keep it up because I do see a remarkable – and very positive – change in my thought patterns and my general mood.

While trying to attract more positive experiences, I now also actively seek them out. So on the last Saturday of January, I met an old high school friend of mine I hadn’t seen for almost eight years. Shout out – hey Fatima! 🙂 Being the adventurous free spirits we are, the obvious way to celebrate our reunion was to watch happy baby elephants play in the mud alongside warthogs and then enjoy some iced tea afterwards – duh. The most logical thing to do, yes?

Question – do you want to make the world a better place? That was a rhetoric question, because I’m sure you do. You just made my world a little bit better by clicking on my blog and reading this post 🙂 Well, the truth is not even Bill Gates can save the ENTIRE world. But I’m sure he starts with whatever he can, and so can you. I have a suggestion that could prove to be fun and pocket friendly as well. How does saving baby elephants’ lives sound for a start?

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust embraces all measures that compliment the conservation, preservation and protection of wildlife. These include anti-poaching, safe guarding the natural environment, enhancing community awareness, addressing animal welfare issues, providing veterinary assistance to animals in need, rescuing and hand rearing elephant and rhino orphans, along with other species that can ultimately enjoy a quality of life in wild terms when grown.

– David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.

The point I’m trying to make is that you can make the world a better place just by, first, changing your thoughts – by practising ‘mindfulness’ and consciously trying to attract better things into your life 🙂

Start at the elephants’ orphanage, maybe take a friend. Or two, or ten! You will get to learn a lot about the DSWT efforts, about the orphan elephants and the entrance fee you pay will be put to good use. You are literally saving the world, sort of. 🙂

Then find something else to do. Anyone who’s got a suggestion for me this weekend?

David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

Entrance: 500 Ksh. per person.
Viewing of the elephants happens only for an hour, between 11 am-12 noon so be punctual 🙂
Directions: Google maps link opens in new tab.
More information on their website here.

say it like you mean it

Every single day, we are faced with challenges. These challenges may be as small as stubbing your toe first thing after you wake up, and then hurting your gums because you were brushing too fast, because you overslept – because you’ve been snoozing your alarm for the past one hour and now you’re late. That was a mouthful.

Or the challenge may be as big as losing a loved one, or missing out on a great job opportunity. My point is, it is clear that in life we will face challenges. But you have a choice. Either let the challenge take the best of you and lead you to a downward spiral, or pick yourself up and take it as a lesson. Complain and persistently dwell on the issue without thinking of a way forward, OR see the challenge as a temporary bump and figure out what the next step is.

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Remember how I talked about making every single day count? Well, this decision was prompted by noticing that in the past three months my level of awareness and consciousness had grown, and I needed to take this ‘consciousness’ to the next level – you know, see where this could go if I just let it be. What do I mean by this, you ask?
It may sound like a very shallow statement, but I can’t find a better way of putting it – I  have become more aware of my thoughts and the effect they have on my mood, my health and my growth.

I realized that I choose how to deal with whatever challenge I’m faced with. Whether I’m aware of it or not. If I stub my toe, I can dwell on it all through the rushed brushing and then stay in this negative state as I shower and dress up and walk to the stage and get on the matatu etc, you get the drift. Or, I could see that it is temporary. It has passed. And just focus on the NOW. Get my point?

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Granted, we may WILL face larger challenges in life. These may require time to grieve over, but we mustn’t get stuck in this state of mind. We must see life as a this blank canvas, and every brush stroke is an opportunity to keep painting this beautiful picture. Our master piece. Every experience is a different brush stroke, and it all adds to the character of the piece. Our life. It is all GROWTH, and we can learn from everything – to become stronger. Better.

To keep these good juices flowing in me and stop this habit of complaining, I decided to repeat affirmations to myself at all times. I say them like I mean it, like I truly believe these words are true. I have seen a remarkable change in my state of mind. I’m lighter, and more aware of my thoughts – through the emotions I feel. And it almost seems like I believe my crazy ass dreams even more strongly now 😀 They sort of reprogram your mind to think positively and eventually make you believe it is true.

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I am not the author of these affirmations, I haven’t been doing it long enough to come up with my own but I’m sure in a few weeks I’ll get the hang of it. I bookmarked this article on my phone months ago (it’s finally starting to really make sense to me now) and I picked up the rest from other self help blogs etc online.
The concept is simple; have a positive statement about oneself in the present tense.

What are your favourite affirmations? Feel free to share, and say it like you mean it 🙂

  1. My body is healthy; my mind is brilliant; my soul is tranquil.
  2. I have been given endless talents which I begin to utilize today.
  3. I possess the qualities needed to be extremely successful.
  4. Creative energy surges through me and leads me to new and brilliant ideas.
  5. My ability to conquer my challenges is limitless; my potential to succeed is infinite.
  6. I am courageous and I stand up for myself.
  7. I am blessed with an incredible family and wonderful friends.
  8. Everything that is happening now is happening for my ultimate good.
  9. I acknowledge my self worth; my confidence is soaring.
  10. My future is an ideal projection of what I envision now ❤
  11. I radiate beauty, charm and grace.
  12. I wake up today with strength in my heart and clarity in my mind.
  13. Curiosity leads me to interesting new places.
  14. The world is large enough for my dreams.
  15. My dreams are valid.

“It is the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.” – Muhammad Ali.