Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Joy in Authentic Living!

What does it mean to embrace our authentic selves? It simply means being true to who we really are and answering present in our own lives regardless of what people may think about us; it means loving ourselves and being unashamed of who we are. People are generally smart and can sense when we are not living our authentic lives.

Why is authenticity so important for our lives? Authenticity means freedom and liberation! It means joy! It means that we are living our lives as us, rather than as others. Being authentic means that we are living our truth. Truth usually sets us free. Freedom means soaring in most aspects of our lives. Living our truth almost always propels us in the right direction, ultimately steering us to our right calling, path, or destinations. When we are living our truth, we are approaching life from a path of conviction and courage and in that process, fear is conquered. When fear is conquered, almost every obstacle and challenge becomes exactly what it should be for people who get it – a positive teaching experience. When fear is conquered the sky becomes our limit. Throughout history, it has been men and women who are not afraid of being their authentic self through taking a stand, or voicing out their truth that continues to leave their imprints in the sands of time.

A lot of us go through life pretending to be who we are not for fear of getting disapproving glances from others or being unpopular. The effect of that of course, is a situation where we become stuck in the rot of a job we do not like, or the company of those that we cannot stand, or remain silent in the face of a glaringly wrong act perpetrated against another in our presence because if we voice our opposition, we lose our friends. (Now seriously . . . are they really friends for starters?). When we live our lives different from whom we really are, life becomes unhappy, overly complicated, our relationships suffer because our partners cannot even decipher who we are; our businesses suffer because we are not conducting the business from a place of conviction and truth; we are angry, and infect others with the same negative emotion and ultimately, we fail to excel at what we do because we do not have faith in it to begin with. Ever noticed what happens to us when we lie, our tone sort of falters. We normally do not have the same courage and convictions that we usually exhibit when we are in the right or when we are telling the truth.

Without question, no two human beings are exactly alike. As children, we usually have different personalities and ideas and are usually unafraid to say exactly how we feel.  In that state of absolute truth and innocence, life is less complex and more fun! As children, everything is out in the open and generally we are mostly happy. We are unafraid of anything, (ok, may be. . ., except for the boogieman and ghosts J) Something drastic happens to us on our way to adulthood. As adults, we try to conform to a set of unwritten norms and become boring and in the process lose our individualities. Everyone acts just like the next person and sounds just like someone they are not. Of course we fail at what we do because we are fake! Many success stories today are about people who are different from the rest of the bunch and most of us fail to notice this.

I am in no way advocating that living your authentic self means that you become insensitive to others out of a need to always voice out your opinion, or that you must constantly be in the opposition. I am merely advocating that a life lived from an authentic place usually is a happier one for the person living it and for others whom he encounters. His endeavors and goals are usually easier to accomplish because of the strength and conviction that backs the endeavor. His relationships are usually happier because it is less complex and not ridden with a lot of secrets. His business will attract customers and clients who sense the devotion and conviction behind the business.

Are you living your authentic life?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Because we LOVE them and Need them to Succeed . . .

So, I found one parallel or common denominator if you will, that spans the length and breadth of the globe; and exists amongst every parent or care giver in every race, of every continent and every nation throughout history.  This parallel is the immense love they have for their children and their compelling desires to have those children succeed. We all want the very best for our children irrespective of our race, social status, and culture. We all want our children to emerge as very successful adults who would be able to contribute their quota to better the world.

This holds true for every parent that I have personally encountered without exception. No parent ever envisioned their child's grand arraignment in a court of law for assault and battery charges, or for armed robbery charges; rather, they imagine their child walking up to the podium to accept their degrees within their various field of endeavors while they stand and cheer them along with the rest of the crowd. (Yes we all do)!

The reality of our times is that most our children are not turning out the way that we envisioned. The question becomes whether it is our children who are failing us or rather, whether we the parents/care givers are failing our children. I regret the position that I am about to take on this topic, but I'd rather speak from a place of truth in my heart. I believe that it may be in fact us not trying our hardest! In taking this position, I must concede that I strongly believe that raising a child/children the proper way may very well be the most difficult job in the world.

Ever spoken to a stay-at-home parent? They are the hardest working people that I personally know. The fact that it is extremely difficult to raise children does not mean that we should become hopeless and not continue working the hardest we can when it comes to our children. Children are exposed to so much these days; the Television, internet, school environment, home environment. etc. They learn from us constantly. They watch every little word that comes out of our mouth; every little action that we take; in fact, they copy us so much, it is almost frightening. I was watching my 16 month old today and cannot believe how much she has learnt in such a short period of time from us (her home environment).

There are four things that I know for sure regarding raising children that worked for me as the child ( I am sure it worked for my parents too) and still is working for me as the mother of the four children that I am today. I am one of a billion other mothers in the world who is embroiled in the enormous challenge of raising my children "the proper way" in order for them to become responsible and successful adults.

Check out my four convictions as it relates to raising our children:

1. Children Learn What they Live- Yep!, Dorothy Law Nolte spoke these words in her poem. This poem was a fixture on the wall of our living room when I was a child. My father, who still remains my greatest inspiration would always come home with posters/frames of poem that really were lessons for life. Daddy will make us (the children) learn these poems because he believed that they taught valuable life lessons. When you understand them, and commit to them to memory, you recite them to daddy and he will give you a prize. I believe that the words of this poem are “wisdom” in probably its fullest manifestation.  I mean it!

I recommend to every parent/caregiver to get a copy and have it affixed to their bedroom wall or any other place where they are constantly reminded of those words. It is not so much for the child but for the adults who pave the way and creates the environment in which the child lives. Ever notice this? Every classroom in every continent or every culture always has those few children who are extremely confident and tend to excel better than the rest of the students. Most of them are products of very encouraging family environments. Their confidence level usually impacts almost every one of their endeavors.  On the hand, these same classrooms have the kids who are constantly fighting other kids and are always in the middle of every problem in the classroom. A closer inquiry usually reveal a not so great or hostile family environment where fighting is the norm.

2. Children Need to be Shown Unequivocal Love Tampered with a Reasonable Degree of Firmness - If we do not show our children that they are loved unconditionally by us who are their parents and care givers, they loose confidence and seek out love elsewhere. By love, I do not advocate giving a child all that him /her requests. Indeed, I strongly believe that the word " NO" may be one of the best vocabulary in the dictionary of proper child rearing. (If there is anything like that). When a child is used to getting everything they demand from us, they develop that pitiful feeling of entitlement and become little brats (excuse my language!). When your child know that they may not get everything that they demand from you, they are less likely to be adults who feel disillusioned when things do not go as they expected. They develop better coping skills and turn out as well adjusted adults.  A child need to understand that he/she does not always have to get his way because there is other peoples’ interest at stake in every issue encountered in life, not just his.

3. Children Do not Need Privacy AT ALL; Teenagers Need Some Privacy - I have seen parents argue that they need to give their children some privacy . . . , I always watch them with the "are you kidding me" expression on my face! My point is that in order for us to be effective parents/adult care givers who want the best for our children, we must totally eliminate the concept of privacy for our children from our brains. What Nonsense privacy!!!!

We must know who their friends are; where they go on the internet; what they are doing in their room; who they are speaking to on their phones; etc. The minute we ignore these, it becomes easy for our children to slide down that really slippery slope. The world is not made up of just our individual families. We may be doing our part at home, but there is no way of predicting what goes on in other families where parents are not even doing their part at all.

As for Teenagers,  . .  . Yes, . .  . They need some privacy, but, it should not be a case of unfettered privacy. I may have taken this position because I constantly see mothers especially, who are balling out their eyes in court because their teenage sons who are facing really serious jail time as a result of crimes that they are accused of. They are convinced that their child is the good one but that the influences of bad friends may have caused their child to engage in criminal conducts. It is really hear-breaking for me, Really!  If we as parents put our feet down and say to our teenage children, "I do not want you hanging out with this kid, and if you continue doing that, you may have to give up your laptop (or their most valued possession) or, You are not going to that party sweetheart, and I am done talking about it". etc.  It may be an effective deterrent. Giving these children and teenagers their privacy almost always results in parents who are caught totally unawares!

4. Devoting Time Together in Prayer and other Activities, Results in Better Children and Adults - The more time we invest in our children, the better the return we get out of them. Prayer is the most effective way of ensuring that our children are truly guided by the principles of morality. They are able to grow up with a conscience that is constantly alert to right and wrong. Finally, the prayers of children are especially effective because they pray from a heart that pure.

Is is hard to apply these principles? YAH! Extremely hard! But, we must all strive to apply them "Because we LOVE them and need them to succeed"


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What Are You? . . .Driver, Passenger, or Pedestrian

Everyone of us is the Driver behind our individual Destinies. We can successfully navigate our individual steering wheels towards our intended Destinations -  Destination Ambition, Destination Aspiration or Destination Goals. Being behind that steering wheel can lead us ultimately to three paths - one of greatness; one of mediocrity; or one of  total failure! Your current situation is a wake-up call for you to either remain in your current role or switch roles. 

Being a good Driver signals an enormous amount of responsibility. The rules of the road require that you be cautious, courteous, and observe the Golden Rule at all times  as you navigate to your desired Destination. Any misapplication or non-application of these rules of the road will result in failure or fleeting success in ones' life. There are all sorts of Drivers on the road; annoying, impatient, frustrating, crazy and of course, good Drivers. Do not be distracted by them until you reach your desired Destination!

It is pertinent to note that not everyone is capable of being a good Driver due to their peculiar circumstance. Such people still have the power to make the choice of whom to ride with. (Good versus Bad Drivers). There are however, people who remain Passengers for fear of failure or simply due to what people might think or say about them. Such Passengers leave their Destinations up to Drivers who may not be good Drivers . . . the effect? . . . an inability to get to ones' desired Destination, constant failures and if success is met at all, they are usually fleeting in nature!

There are others whom I refer to as "Pedestrians/Passengers by Necessity". Kids and teenagers are Pedestrians and Passengers by necessity because they need to ride at all times with a Driver. 

There are people who are neither Good Drivers, Good Passengers, or Good Pedestrians. They refuse to learn how to be Good Drivers and still insist on driving . . . driving to unknown Destinations.  Believe it or not, these Bad Drivers often times, have Passengers who are amazingly enjoying the ride. Some people may refuse to be Good Drivers due to a failure to grow up (yes there are people like that). For such people, being a Passenger or a Pedestrian feels safer.

"The moment you realize that YOU and only YOU are behind the steering wheels of  your Destiny is truly the moment you start living your Dream. Accelerate as purposeful and as cautious towards your Destination as you possibly can. Be mindful of other Drivers, Passengers, and Pedestrians on the road by applying the Golden Rule; soon, very soon, you will reach your ultimate Destination"

Which of these scenarios define your present situation? 

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Never Letting Your Present Circumstance Define You . . .Ever!

We are often times disillusioned by our present challenges and circumstances and constantly fail woefully at turning the tidal waves that occur in our lives around. I cringe at the thought of the havoc the residual effects of these toxic emotions create in our lives. Without question, it can be devastating on our health, self esteem and overall well being. We must not let these temporary challenges define us or dictate the future course of our lives.

Back in October,  I read this amazing book;  It the sequel to the book, "The Law of Attraction", which I highly recommend. It is one of my all time favorite book ever! It is written by the same author, Rhonda, Byrne and is entitled "The Secret, The Power. I  came across this quote that had  a profound implication to this topic of discussion and I immediately felt compelled to share it because it struck quite a chord in my brain!  Exactly what Oprah will call an "AHA" moment. It reads as follows:

"I am still determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learnt from
experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our

- - Martha Washington (1723-1802) First Lady, George Washington, First President of the United States.

We are so often disappointed and disillusioned by our present circumstances that we fail to realize that those negative emotions never beget positive results or outcomes. Simply put, negative feelings/emotions like hate, envy, jealousy, anger, resentment,  guilt, etc. equally attract further negative outcomes for our lives and  present circumstances; whereas positive emotions like love, joy, enthusiasm, contentment, attract equally positive outcomes. 

I look around and try to analyze people that I have encountered in my personal life and the coincidence is startling! I have seen people with overall pleasant dispositions succeed more than the doomy and gloomy people of this world. I encountered a really frustrating circumstance lately and by consequence of the natural human reaction, I not only lashed out in anger, but also felt really sad and deflated. Then I remembered this quote as I was driving back from work. The energy with which the kids greeted me at the door was the exact opposite of the emotion that I was feeling.  I decided that I have to take my kids out to Friendly's even though as a general rule, I would never do that on a week day. I tapped into their joyful energy  and enthusiasm and boy,  I had sooooo much fun with them at the restaurant that I totally forgot that the frustrating events of the day happened. 

This pleasant disposition carried over to my sleep that night and into my morning. Listen to this, I get into my office and my phone was ringing as I was coming in. Guess who the caller was? Yep!  It was the the catalyst that triggered the nasty events of the  day before, clothed in a totally different voice,  promising to give me what I was fighting so hard for without even getting into the reasons for the sudden change of attitude. I never bothered to ask him why he had a 360 degree change. I said in my loveliest voice, "Thank you Sir, Do have a wonderful day".  I gave myself a big hug for applying that quote so succinctly to my life!.

Just like a miracle, it worked . . . ; It worked!!! It worked because I was able to turn the tide around in my favor and not wallow in the anger and disappointment of that day!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Mental Attitude Does Determine the Direction of Ones' Life

Humans are innately feeling beings. We express and feel emotions deeply and then act out those feelings albeit unconsciously. We feel the whole spectrum of emotions like happiness, sadness, euphoria, depression, joy, jealousy, envy, LOVE, anger, etc. 

It is a universal truth that when we feel happy, we act happy, and people around us also feel better (they may not be as happy as we are but they somewhat feel better). On the other hand, when we feel the opposite emotion of sadness, we act sad, and people around us feel down. The consequence of these feelings and actions are that we infect people around us with those, and they in turn give us back what we give to them. Life in turn channels our way, events and circumstances that form our predominant emotions. We unconsciously chart our course in life as a consequence of our mental attitude!

We want to experience LOVE and JOY and BLISS and ENTHUSIASM and yet we whine, and criticize, and hate, and attack the same people we expect to give us all these positive emotions. The end result is that they dish out to us, exactly what we dish out to them. Newton put it so succinctly in one of his law . . . 3rd law of gravity when he said; "Action and Reaction are Equal and Opposite!

You can't expect to be euphoric when you don't give out euphoria; you dont expect successes when you don't give out pure joy at another's success; you don't expect to receive love when you don't give love; you don't expect your children to excel and succeed when you don't feel actual joy and cheer when other peoples' kids succeed; you can't expect to be financially independent and free when you don't give out your money no matter how little you think you have to another who is in a worse off situation; you can't expect joyous things to happen to you when you cannot even feel genuine  joy when others experience joyous situations!

I have made a conscious effort in my life and on a daily basis to smile much more than I frown not just because it is easier to do, but because my vain self believes that it makes me prettier :-); and that it also makes my interactions with people easier, and that it almost always results in positive outcome. people generally get instant boost to their happiness when we look into their eyes and greet them with a genuine smile on our faces. My kids are happier when mommy is happy. I choose only happy people around me because every interaction i have with them, builds me up! I always gauge my mental state after i hang with a new person on probably more than one occasion as a signal of whether the person is good or bad for me. There are people who will always leave you feeling beat-down, and sad, constantly criticizing other people. They generally leave you with an overall sense of  . .  . mental exhaustion . . . you know that they cannot be good for you.

There are however, people who leave you in such a joyous, blissful and euphoric state! they encourage you, build you up, and are constantly exuding positive energy. You know you want to be around them and you need them in your life. Those people are keepers! You may not initially like them because you are probably at a different mental place and you might feel envious and jealous, but you know that they are good for you. We have all met people like these in our lives . . . We love them secretly and hate them just a little teeny bit too:-) Changing our mental attitude means embracing these later group and making them an integral part of our life.

In a nutshell, my point is that we must live each day constantly alert of what emotions that we are feeling; cognizant of the fact that we unconsciously project those emotions in our actions and ultimately attract a similar experience and  circumstance to our lives . . .  Let us all vow to feel more love, so that we can give more love and attract more lovely situations to our lives!

No Person is a Universe . . . No Way is any Relationship Perfect!

By definition, the Universe per the Oxford Dictionary means, "all existing things; the whole creation;" For me, the concept of the Universe which for the purpose of this note,  I choose to approach from the perspective of the Maker/Creator,  evokes within me, a state of perfection, harmony, everything intrinsically good. At least my Christian faith taught me that the Maker/Creator made everything in a perfect state. Just thinking about the brain behind the universe always leaves me floored and in awe of the Creator/Maker. This article attempts to explore relationships generally and the reasons why it is very challenging for most of us. It also attempts to analyze the reason behind the breakup of relationships in record numbers and a principle that may go a long way towards ameliorating this disturbing trend .

Often times, marital and non-marital relationships alike involve unrealistic expectations from both parties within the relationship. The world with its general perception of" living happily ever after" perpetuates this expectation. Despite the staggering statistics of broken marriages and summer/spring relationships, we still want to cling helplessly to this age-old myth of "living happily ever after". 

Most people in western cultures engage in long courtships that may sometime span over a couple of years and yet, when it is called a "marriage", it becomes a lot more complicated and arduous and suddenly blows up in flames. People in other cultures while not really enjoying the luxury of the long courtship and dating, blame the lack of "a proper courtship" as the reason for the demise of their marriages. While I agree that a lack of courtship could very well lead to the demise of a marriage, I believe it is not all to be blamed; after all, people from the older generation seemed to have had longer, happier marriages than we are having today! These people from the older generation often times, have no dating and courtships  prior to their tying the knot. They do however, understand what most of us fail to get ~  that no one is a universe and as such, expecting to get a beautiful/handsome,  kind, smart, understanding, sexy, respectful, partner may be an unrealistic expectation! 

We are often times shaped by our past and present experiences both good and bad; and while some people are able to rise above and beyond adverse experiences that they lived through, most of us are still enslaved by those adverse experiences. The cumulative effect of this is that we bring into every relationship our past and present experiences and those in turn affect those relationships for good or for bad. 

If your partner lived in a home bereft of love; where fighting constantly was all that he/she knew, it will be harder for him/her to foster a loving relationship with you unless he/she consciously refuses to be enslaved by his past and makes a conscious effort to rise above that. On the other hand, if your partner grew up or lived through a home that Dad was always romantic, kind and loving towards mom; often times, these are reflected in the adult relationships that they foster.  

During my Law School  years in Nigeria, my Legal Methods Professor (Prof. Ibekwe of blessed memory) loved this Latin maxim; "Nemo dat quod non habet" Latin for, "You cannot give what we do not have".  Your partner can only give you what he/she has; what he/she knows about, and what he/she is capable of giving.

In my personal life, I have always been the hopeless romantic! I grew up reading all the romance novels that I could lay my hands on. I remember always hiding behind the blinds in our living room as a young teen where no one would discover me and devour all these romantic series of that time; (Do they even still write Harlequin Romance, Mills and Boon, etc). I would at that time dream of that perfect marital life where every minute of my life is punctuated with romance by my prince charming. 

Without question, I ended up marrying someone, I absolutely adored, (and still adore, thank God . . but only when he is not being his stubborn self:-).  I loved him immensely at first  but remembered wondering why I was not really experiencing all of those wonderful visceral reactions that I read about; those wonderful reactions that some of my friends would talk about . . . heart pumping so fast that you feel that you may pass out; sweaty palms, literally experiencing tornadoes and earthquakes when he stares into your eyes??? Seriously, I was asking myself whether or not I should keep waiting to get the guy that would evoke those reactions in me prior to tying the knot. THANK GOD I DID NOT WAIT!!! REALLY!!!!

Then I got married, and it got even more complicated. Why does he not cuddle me tightly in his arms whenever I cry like my dad would; why is he not as romantic as I want him to; why does he not let me win arguments;  . . .  there was just so many whys. As if all those were not enough, add my beautiful, precious babies to the mix and  . . . ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  . . . landslides of epic proportion! :-) The bickering and whining, and arguments would make a best seller any day:-) Of course, those were expected and were all part of a normal, vibrant and healthy relationship and the logical next step. The fun part of it being that because I am upset, i constantly failed woefully at communicating my feeling to him. I was not making any headway at all and neither was he. :-(  Alas, their goes my dream of that ideal relationship! There were constant back and forths and, did I mention I could be the poster child for "Cry me a River" :-). I allowed the world and experiences of friends to infiltrate and shape my own marital experiences. I should have known that no two people share the exact same experiences. I was not being very objective; I expected so much more from my relationship (which by the way I was not giving due to the intense negative energy constantly being channeled both our ways); I was instead seeing the relationship practically from my own angle. Selfish??, May be!

Then, one fateful day, I spoke to a friend of mine who was almost 60 years old and obviously from the older generation and little did he know the impact of these words he said to me amongst other things;  ". .  .Ogor you can never get a universe in a person" ; he had asked me to think carefully before answering the next question of whether or not I was perfect; and I did not need to think carefully at all because I knew what the answer was right away. I am so imperfect, I am no universe!! I was expecting him to be one. I come with my own set of baggage!! . . . hefty, hefty, hefty baggage. I come with such flaws that I cannot even describe because i am morbidly ashamed of them. I would want to be cut some slacks too! I may have been unfair to my partner with the constant whining  . . .  or have I? :-) (yes i have but . . . shhhhhh... so had he  . .  .)  I resolved that day to expect not the universe from my partner but a planet at a time. We were both works in progress. If each one person in a relationship uses a kinder set of lenses to look at the other party, BINGO! most of our relationships would have been blissful and viable! It does take two to tilt the scale!

I finally got it! JESUS LORD! I am no universe . . . , he is no universe . . . I can never get everything I want out of my relationship. Later on that evening, I put ink to paper and took stock of all the things about him that I LOVE . . .  and the result; Oh BOY!!!! I realized that I had in him, those core, unassailable, pristine qualities that I was not ready to compromise on. That was a huge realization for me! There are a lot of things that are solid about him! The fact that he does not show romance the way I want it shown to me does not mean that he does not love me nonetheless . .!.!! He is only showing it the way he knows how!! BINGO!

Those other things that are lacking from my universe, if they are really that important to me, I can get from close friends and relatives! Cultivating close friendships is so vital to every relationship, both marital and non-marital. (that is another lesson I learnt) Friendships outside of your relationship gives the relationship the desired air that it needs in order to thrive and flourish. Taking trips with your girlfriends or boyfriends are very therapeutics for relationships. (I love my girls' night out!)

In conclusion, ever since I realized that no person is a universe, I am literally having a time of my life in my relationship!  I am happier, partner is happier, kids are content; you infect other people you meet at work and in other random places with that same energy and everything is falling into place.

Is it easy? of course no way! But like Dolly Parton rightly stated in her song, "Make love work", we gotta try a little bit harder . . . and harder !
Enjoy this really inspiring piece with me.

Lovingly yours,