A friend asked me recently, when was the last time you let go? She didn’t mean go crazy or out of boundaries or completely changed my personality.

She meant that corporate is as corporate does, does it really have to translate to every part of my life?

Her simple question & challenge was: how hard do you laugh with your kids?

Truly I can’t say it was a belly laughter. The odd thing is that my daughter is entirely capable of this – the laugh till she feels compelled to shake her head crazily, because everything is the “best in the world”, “funniest in the world” and so on.

I don’t even know if it was laughter or just some odd sounds that don’t string together into consonants and vowels.

So I challenged myself, once a day – find an opportunity to laugh with my kids, deep-belly, stitch-inducing, tear-producing type of laugh. I will do this for one week.

I looked at the challenge squarely in the eye. Seriously for me. this is not going to be easy.


Break out the good wine, figuratively

I’ve learnt to, bring out the good wine (so to speak), instead of hoarding it for another day when it will be really worth it. At least before (whatever it is for you) actually spoils, disintegrates, gets outgrown, costs too much or worse, you do not outlive it.

In my case, it’s not actually wine, but other things. For me it’s about a pampering experience, so for instance the nice luxury soaps with essential oils were never opened.

It started with a fruit-flavored soap. Too precious to use and left in the clothes drawer hidden. I found a cockroach in it one day. After getting over the gross factor, and disinfecting my drawer and washing all my clothes thoroughly, and doing it all over again just one more time to be sure, I decided that was it.

No more waiting for special occasions. Or maybe, everyday if lived differently, presently, deeply, is a special occasion in itself.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not splurging on every single thing. In fact, I’m huge on savings and being thrifty. But for the things that you like, the things that you enjoy, as a reward to yourself, I decided it’s alright to splurge on that. Better to enjoy using a small set of items you have, but are important to you; then to buy many items at cheaper and less quality, hoard the best quality ones in storerooms and turn everything to clutter.
And most importantly to “spend” your experience in the best way possible, to enjoy presently, deeply.

Monday is over, what next?

Monday is over and the day has ended, at least since it’s bedtime.

I tried to search for what I wanted to say, after all I had been behind the scenes for a week but slow to post for the past week. However, I end the Monday in a less than celebratory mood and find it hard to look forward to Tuesday.

And strangely it’s not a day of all lows, with some amazing highs as well. So what makes the lows feel worse on Monday?

Probably myself, or yourself, or whoever is doing their own evaluation of their Mondays. And sometimes it’s also just about getting rest when I need to, because as the night wears on, the tiredness, aka grumpiness sets in.

The week moves in cycles, and Monday is going to come round. We can stay in the past lamenting our irritation of what has happened, or refuse to remain trapped by enjoying a good nights’ rest.

So off to bed, goodnight, sweet dreams.

Life is not a rehearsal – get up and play

There aren’t moments in life where we can “just try a little bit” and then wait and see how.

Like it’s a rehearsal. For a main event in distant future.

Even so, why do we think that rehearsals are for doing almost enough and then trying to achieve a dramatically higher result when push-come-to-shove? Aren’t rehearsals for performing your best so you can bring your best game to the main event?

(But I digress.)

Life is not rehearsal, one moment doesn’t serve as a back up to an “actual” real moment. Each are as real as they are present, as real as they have passed.

Michael Jordan said in his book I can accept failure, but I can’t accept not trying: “I don’t do things halfheartedly. Because I know if I do, then I can expect halfhearted results. That’s why I approached practices the same way I approached games. You can’t turn it on and off like a faucet. I can’t dog it during practice and then, when I needed that extra push late in a game, expect it to be there.”

A light turned on when I saw the quote.

Life is not a rehearsal – let’s get up and play, wholeheartedly.

On the shoulders of giants

The privilege we have today is the access to resources about great leadership that has gone before us.

Some more famous than others, some currently still alive or some long from history. There are news, biographies, documentaries, personal accounts and many other ways to obtain information about them. While one person may not appeal to everyone, there is someone out there we each find inspirational.

We are truly blessed, in today’s world, to then be able to stand on the shoulders of the giants who have inspired us in their own way. So that we may also play a higher game.

When you feel like you don’t know what you are doing anymore, a quick check on “what would _______ do?” often brings you back to your vision.

I have a wierd mix of inspirational leaders I look up to (wierd because they don’t all fit the same mold – though not so funny, because isn’t that what leaders are about): Michael Jordan, Paulo Coelho, Napoleon Hill, Da Vinci, Morrie from Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom, Mother Teresa and many more.

Who’s wisdom are you tapping in today?

And who is taking you through the weekend, to keep you always focusing on the higher game?

Behind the scenes: Part I

Recently, I’ve received feedback on my blog “Loving Monday Mornings” and some deserve a closer look.

At this point, I’m not sure what is the best approach or whether it makes sense to do earlier or later, with more research:

1. Structuring a website or resources around the themes of the blog

2. A spin-off of another blog

3. Writing a book around the themes of the blog

In the meantime, I’ll still post my writings.  Thanks for reading!

One day wasted is one day too many

There was a time when I used to while Saturdays away. Perhaps it was more appropriate to say “mope”. Because Saturdays then meant that Sunday was just the next day – and the start of the week, Monday (some school of thoughts say Sundays are the start of the week but play along with me on this one), would be dreadfully close.

Looking back it was amazing the number of Saturdays I spent sulking away. One year had about 55 weeks, I saw few years went by with a flash, during which I had my first child. That’s a few hundred days down the drain, unappreciated, not lived for, irretrievable. Probably the main thing that breaks my heart is that my daughter’s first few years experienced a mom preoccupied with dreadful Saturday.

The interesting thing is I’m not always doing more stuff or less stuff these weekends. I sometimes end up doing the same stuff too. Perhaps it’s the fact that I’ve wasted too much time, and would just like to stop.

It took just one decision to switch. To appreciate Saturdays, enjoy them, live gratefully through them, so that I do not waste them. I’d probably put myself through less stress, despite having more to coordinate in my life.

The best part is I get to be someone who enjoys the weekend with my children and family.

The second best part, is that Sundays feel all the more enjoyable because you don’t feel guilty coming into the end of the weekend for having wasted another good day.

Make me a promise

How often did I break a promise to myself?

Definitely more than just-a-few-times.

If I made a list it will look like this:
• Times I told myself I’ll be on time (instead of being 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 15 minutes late and so on…)
• Unfinished personal projects – whatever is it I wanted to do for myself, if left unfinished, is another promise not kept.
• Issues I don’t want to look at – a definite hiding place for many broken self-promises.

It’s no wonder I get worried when the weekend rolls around the corner. It weighs on me like another batch of broken promises to myself would. I didn’t look forward to the weekend or starting off on Monday again.

Fixing it, one promise at a time
Surprise, surprise. No magic bullet to turn all around. Just fixing one broken promise at a time. Finishing a small project. Closing off the lose ends. Freeing the energy tied up in managing everything.

There was no particular burst of energy or ah-ha moment. Though I noticed a much lighter presence and a more fulfilled day ahead. One day at a time, this translated to something worth looking forward to, instead of something I kept hiding from. Weekends held enjoyment and the impending Mondays held potential.

I never found out at which point Mondays didn’t feel so dreadful anymore. Who’d knew that keeping or finishing the promises to myself held so much….promise?

Your life will not go un-witnessed

Over the weekend, a group of friends and myself worked together to put up an event for children from a children’s shelter. The event involved a cookery class and mini-master chef competition, with photography sessions in between. They came for the event unsure, afraid and shut off from the world. These were kids that did not feel wanted or loved, not simply shy.

Halfway through the event, they slowly started opening up. The next thing I knew, they were talking to us, asking opinions about their cooking, checking to see what we were doing with a particular item, asking for tips on how to operate the stove or the cameras. Most importantly, they were laughing, joking and reaching out volunteering to connect to the adults around.

If you had seen how a spark came on on someone’s face, imagine that lighting up on 20 children’s faces. Children, who thought themselves that the spark had died out a long time ago. The miraculous change was breath-taking and I wondered what had come together, in this simple event, for this to happen. It certain wasn’t the event schedule, the capital outlay, the preparation time – 18 of us spent 4 weeks planning.

It could have been about:

  • The VIP welcome we gave forming two rows of cheering adults all the way to the venue
  • The volunteer professional chefs (including a celebrity chef) and professional photographers (including an award winning photographer) patiently showing the ropes and enpowering the kids
  • Calling them ‘trainee chefs and photographers’ instead of just ‘kids’
  • Empowering them with skills to that they can take away (cooking & photography)
  • Respecting them by giving them T-shirts & aprons as a ‘uniform’
  • Treating them as equals
  • The spontaneous outpour of generosity, like a volunteer chef touched at a particular child’s eagerness to cook, and ended up giving him his professional uniform to keep the child inspired
  • Authenticity

Or maybe it was just about …

Being a witness:

Susan Sarandon’s character spoke about her marriage with Richard Gere’s charater in the movie Shall We Dance: “Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness.” Of course, she was speaking specifically about a marriage and why the connection matters.

Though, it struck me as essential in all human connection. That why the magic works, between friends, families, parents and children, teachers and students, colleagues, strangers – is that people want to matter. And without the theatrics, a simple act of showing, in your own way, that you will be a witness for this other person. You will be a witness to them. Because they matter.

And that, is the difference it makes.