Sharing my hopes with you.

LET’S TRY TO DREAM

***

I felt upside-down when 2022 began, so I really wasn’t in the mood to set goals or dream big. However, there were three things I still desired, and I repeated them to myself and others again and again:

  1. Publish my poetry book
  2. Get a job I like
  3. Be happy

All three were crazy endeavours. I published my book, secured a good internship, and spent the rest of the year freelancing. Happiness was a tide as always; it came and went. I felt depressed for the first couple months of the year but after that, things largely looked up. Looking back now, I think I attained the last two goals to some degree, even if they didn’t look exactly how I expected them to. There’s a poem in my book called The long way Home which describes that feeling.

In my last post I discussed how I’ve had to adjust in the past year and build resilience in a new environment. I now feel like accepting this truth has paved a way for me to dream big in 2023. This year I want to have more on my heart in the hopes of success and achievement. So let’s try something new.

Here are some questions I’ve answered in my journal as I plan my first-ever vision board. I got the questions from a YouTube video by muchelleb. Everything below is 100% true; the kind of sharing I avoid because I value privacy. But I feel like sharing. Perhaps this could help you to think about your year ahead too. I may not share the vision board when I complete it, so I will share this.

What’s the next chapter of my life about?

  • Achieving financial certainty/stability/ease
  • Committing to a creative endeavour
  • Exploring (my) belief(s) and lack thereof
  • Looking after my body: rest and gentleness

Who do I need to be?
Someone that is…

  • Patient
  • Positive-minded (Philippians 4:8)
  • Self-compassionate
  • Confident
  • Brave
  • Willing and eager to learn from my mistakes
  • Direct
  • Hopeful
  • Genuine

How do I need to grow?

  • Trust my own approaches. Advice isn’t law.
  • Be softer and more loving and caring to my family
  • Accept needing God when I realise it
  • Turn jealousy into inspiration. Keep congratulating people
  • Stop assuming people’s responses. Always ask
  • Take less things personally
  • Make healthy eating a priority – spend time cooking
  • Speak to myself with love always
  • Look at myself with love always

What skills do I need to learn?

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • TikTok
  • Meditation
  • Praying for others more
  • Sew-in with a leave-out
  • Flexibility – splits!
  • Self-discipline
  • Saying no when I want to say no
  • Healthily detaching myself from people’s feelings when it’s best for me

What steps do I need to take to get there?

  • Establishing a routine for working and non-working days
    • News @6am
    • Bible/prayer before I get up
    • Breakfast daily
  • Remember discipline over motivation
  • Start therapy
  • Change environment when I’m restless/groggy
  • Put effort towards a goal daily
  • Be patient
  • Break down goals
  • Remember all timing is divinely in alignment
  • Tell myself there’s no mountain too big for God
  • Think with hope, challenge negative thoughts and anxieties
  • Be actionable
  • Make a vision board!

It’s still pretty generic. But that suggests a holistic approach to my dreams, I think.

I avoided vision-boarding in the past because the thought of ending the year without achieving it all was painful. But I don’t think I care about that much anymore. I can’t keep shielding myself from something that could be great out of such a trivial fear. We’ll see how I get along.

How would you answer these questions for yourself?

I bought a bike.

IMMA DO THE BEST I CAN WITH WHAT I’VE GOT!

***

Moving

I have had seven addresses in the past five years. Every year since 2017 has brought on suitcases and relocation. My only issue with all this movement was that I knew I wouldn’t stay anywhere for that long. Whether it was my uni accommodation or wherever I was living with my family, I knew it was all temporary. This harboured a desire for belonging inside of me. I desired the comfort of once again living somewhere with my family for the “foreseeable future”. That way I could really take off my shoes, really sink into a sofa, really fall in love with a room.

Then we moved out of London in February, and I finally felt like I belonged at home again.

But life is always going to throw some lemons your way. When you’ve spent your whole life in one area, growing accustomed to the way of life there, it’s natural to struggle to adapt to a new place. To go from where I grew up in East/Greater London, to deep Essex was a shock to say the least.

Despite my gratitude for being near grassy fields and quiet roads, I’ve found it quite hard to adapt. I tell my friends all the time how long it is to travel to anywhere in London now (since everything I do is still there) and even I am sick of talking about it. I didn’t expect transport to be such a thorn in my side.

But I realised you can never anticipate the upcoming root of so many issues in your life. An inconsistent bus? An expensive Uber? An M&S petrol station being your closest shop in walking distance? Yes! It surprises me anyway. The lack of access to a simple corner shop or close-by restaurant in addition to the price of the bus, trains and even Ubers has been chipping away at me for months now.

Knowing that most of my out-of-home needs can’t be met around the corner has made my appetite virtually disappear and any semblance of a healthy diet has long gone out of the window. I hardly have the motivation to cook or exercise, or even step outside for fresh air on most days I’m at home. Even my creative endeavours have been muted because executing them feels especially difficult. So I’ve spent the last nine months dreaming of moving back into an area I’m used to to finally bring my hopes to life and get myself back on track.

The bike

My only saving grace this whole time (besides the thought of a car) has been the thought of getting a bike. I got rid of my old one in February and I’ve been without one since.

So, after nearly nine months of complaining and procrastinating, my dad drove me to a local bike shop and I bought a bike. It’s light blue, and it’s amazing. When I rode it home that day a corner of my mind opened up again, and I remembered just how good I feel when I’m exercising.

The following morning, I cycled for about 45 minutes. Halfway through, I was faced with an uphill stretch. It was a cartoonishly steep bridge over a river. I’ve lost a lot of focus and discipline lately and my reaction showed that. Upon seeing the bridge, I almost turned around and cycled back home – I just couldn’t be bothered to put in all that legwork. But then I thought against it and decided to go.

And it was like a movie, an epiphany. I felt emotional as I willed myself to keep going over that river. As my feet pushed down those pedals and I tried to control my breath, the idea of resilience came to me.

I thought to myself, ‘perhaps I’m here to learn how to live when ease isn’t so accessible to me – when everything feels inconvenient. Maybe God wants me to learn how to operate when resources aren’t within arm’s length. Can I still create, thrive, grow and be productive when there are so many obstacles to doing just that?’

It was only as I pushed myself up that hill with nothing but the grace of God, weak thighs, and a dream, that I realised what all this is for. Life has not always been easy. Neither has it always been hard. I am just dealing with a different set of inconveniences.

So what now?

I now see the value in accepting new battles if only for the purpose of growing the list of things you can overcome. You could eventually turn that into the list of things you’re not afraid of.

I don’t have the area I grew up in at my beck and call anymore. Neither do I have a bus to the station that comes every 5 minutes. I don’t have access to a train journey below £10 and I don’t have a driving license (my test is booked for early next year, pray for me!!).

However what I do have, is dreams and ambition. So I will use the resources currently available to me, whatever they may be, to bring my dreams to life – no matter how they may turn out. In other words, I will do the best I can with what I’ve got! And I will no longer shy away from an opportunity as blatant as this to grow and develop some resilience.

The most beautiful thing about it all is reconciling this realisation with self-compassion. There are days where I am so frustrated that I don’t do anything. But I have more patience with myself on these days than I did a year ago.

I am learning about life as always because I am having new experiences. It’s a perspective I really needed.

Love, wonder, freedom

Despite the strength in my pen,
I know these words won’t cause waves unless I say them to you
But I’ll still tell myself you like to read

We love each other like the children we are
Only able to express it with the simplest of words
because the naïve one inside is still new to this

How do we articulate complexity so simply
The weight behind ‘I’m in love with you’
pulling ‘I love you’ to the bottom of the sea

I heard someone loved someone else with purpose
and it stuck with me
Maybe love words can be complicated after all
Some liken their love to reflections in mirrors
and other halves
So I wonder how you articulate yours

We wonder what crosses their minds when they try to sleep
We wonder if they think of us

There’s a lot of loving and wondering in the air
so we can wear our masks if we want
There’s a yearning for freedom in the atmosphere
so I will go when I give myself permission
And I will keep going whenever freedom grows walls
that begin to encroach on me.

I’ll give life some time to untangle
while I accept there will always be a knot somewhere
I will use disorganised poetry
as a sign of disorganised thinking
A fire signal on your screen to pray for me if you still believe in God

I’m 23. Here’s what I know for sure

SOME NOTES TO SELF, AND TO YOU…

***

  1. My heart never stopped beating for me. I thank it and I thank God
  2. Remember to focus on what truly matters. It will calm you down when you feel overwhelmed
  3. There’s no need to be intimidated by façades. No one is worth being intimidated by; we’re all putting up fronts, somehow
  4. Love is a spell
  5. Trying is the least and the most you can do in any situation. To really live is to try
  6. The fact that I am still alive means that there is still a chance, for anything
  7. I am beautiful and amazing
  8. Hard work + self belief = greater proximity to self-assurance, satisfaction, success. It’s the only way to chase my goals and obtain them fearlessly
  9. All my answers are inside of me. I just need to ask ‘why’ until I locate them. I can unearth solutions from within
  10. God is eternally gracious
  11. I should not let people’s opinions hinder me. I must allow myself to do what I want
  12. It’s okay to be ‘unremarkable’. It’s a wasted fear, because we’re still alive
  13. I’m still quite introverted and that’s great because it is a piece of my younger self that I have held on to
  14. Paying attention to what moves you (big or small) is a guidance towards your passions
  15. I have survived everything I have ever gone through and I will survive all the more
  16. Just because something is free/paid for, doesn’t mean you need it
  17. I don’t have to ask so many people for advice. It confuses me and keeps me in indecision, and the final decision I make may not even feel like my own
  18. Work with the bones if that’s all you have. Or the tiniest thoughts – work with those. There is always something on your heart and in your mind. Work with it. Its existence is proof of its workability, so do it. Work with insignificant ideas until they evolve, transform or stop being so
  19. Self-honesty is a step towards personal freedom
  20. The conviction of winning is tentative. Celebrate it the moment you realise it. All too often we discredit ourselves and feel like we’ve achieved nothing
  21. Lessons aren’t confined to the tail-end of mistakes. you can learn anything, anywhere, for any reason

What do you know for sure?

Considering God

DON’T TELL ME IM OVERTHINKING THIS…

***

In every decision, I wonder if he would approve. I try to wrap my head around accepting God for who he is rather than questioning the things I don’t like or understand about him. I should not want to change God. In fact, I should want to be just like him. But I don’t like him sometimes, and telling myself that he is outside of my understanding doesn’t pull the wool over my eyes like it used to. Trying to unlearn that inclination feels like a dangerous game, like I’m throwing knives into the air and watching them shoot down towards my face. I could lose my eyes.

I’ve been warned against questioning too much because it killed the cat, and I’ve been encouraged towards resting in the unknown. Who vetoed the assumption that that approach to life would satisfy us all? Individuality makes no space for such a set-up.

Some of us are really trying to grasp who God is and there is little love shown towards that wondering.

I default to telling myself it’s my flesh causing me to question and that I should only embrace it so much. I’m no longer aware of who I can talk to about it because I don’t want to pull anyone down with me.

In an Uber today I didn’t put on my seatbelt. I briefly thought to myself that if I died in a crash for that reason in that moment, I would be okay with it. I feel trapped in God and I don’t know how to get out. The paradox lies in the fact that there’s still nothing better than him. But perhaps that’s a default conclusion for me too. I am lost.

An answer that has been proposed to me includes speaking to God about it and spending more time in the Word. But I don’t want to read it, it feels like my head is being pushed into the ground to ignore the chaos all around. It feels like avoidance. Though I am still scared of my head being chopped off if I stretch my neck out into the chaos for too long.

Another resolution is to do what I want and see where it gets me. Oh how dangerous that would be – I have a bright future.

I feel pain when I think of people who are like me, getting closer to God, while I am just slipping away. My hands are losing the ability to hold on to anything, they are apprehensive, they have lost all trust. The last prayer in my lungs is for it to make sense to me for the first time. Authentically. 

The only cloud in the sky 

He’s the only cloud in the sky
dwelling in absent companionship
while the sun shines from behind
as if there’s a reason to go on

Perhaps there is
since above is still blue
and the birds are still singing

It may be a time for alone-ness,
which isn’t the same as loneli-ness
Could be a time for solitude,
intentionally fixated on himself

Knowing that one day
some clouds will return
and perhaps he’ll float away from them
so they can find themselves too

Would you like an update?

I’VE BEEN WONDERING WHAT I CAN HOLD ON TO…

***

Everything in life is coming and going so quickly, as if nothing has meaning. Meanwhile, I know that everything does. Mostly. Fleeting, is stability, love and hope. Happiness, clarity, and contentment. So the secret to life is balance. You can apply it to any situation when you feel like you’re doing too much or too little of something. That’s what I tell myself.

Lately I have experienced lessons in self-compassion. If you think you lack it, you should read Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself by Kristin Neff. I am reading it very slowly but it is changing my mindset for the better.

Pushing myself had turned into punishing myself and I didn’t like that. So over the past months I have learnt to be kinder to myself, speak kinder words to myself, and practise patience with myself. I learnt that I don’t have to be harsh to be successful. Success can derive from love as well. It’s an approach I prefer.

Every night, I put down my phone and lie on my stomach. One leg is bent at 90 degrees and I have one or both arms on my silk pillowcase. I think to myself, I hope my mind doesn’t go where it’s been going every night for the past few months. But just like that, thoughts plague me. People, habits, worries, regrets. Wonderings – if I could just go back and change something… where would we be now if it never ended… look how much changed in a year… I wonder what next year will be like… will things slow down soon… will I be in the same place for 7 years, accompanied by memories that fail to radically change with time? My childhood wasn’t like that.

Seasons are changing again; I can feel it. That’s why peace is hard to find every night. There’s so much I realise I haven’t let go of when I lay my head. Heartbreak is the most excruciating thing I have ever experienced. And none of it even lasted that long. But I have carried hurt for months upon months now. This feels different because it was placed on me. This pain isn’t a result of my inner-turmoil, but rather a result of opening myself up to the possibility of love. I was unlucky.

The craziest thing about this season changing, is the fact that I hardly dwelled in it. I’ve spent the whole time feeling unadjusted, getting to grips with a new environment, and now it’s changing again. That’s why I’ve been wondering what I can hold on to.

I fall asleep eventually.

And then I wake up.

My birthday is soon. I’m not particularly excited about it. But I’m excited about the month of July because it is the month of my birth. I tell myself that only good things happen in July. It makes sense to me.

I think I still have joy, deep down. I may presently be at the depth of a rollercoaster but I am never without hope. Joy continues to trump happiness. I guess that’s what I’m holding on to.

I knew it

The bag of compost was £7.99. I knew I could carry it home, as long as I left my gym bag at work, a place where I’d found myself drifting again. I was reminded of the pain that comes when you drift away from what you wanted while you’re in it. Projections of naivety take you over and you wonder if you’ll ever know what’s best for you. All I ever wanted was to be free. And the practice of self-compassion tells me to show love to myself even when I feel like I made a big mistake. But it was hard to think about that when I pulled the bag of compost off the counter. It was heavier than I expected. I thought about my left shoulder, the only shoulder that I put my bags on. Even backpacks are unlucky enough to be slung over it. On my right side I may carry another bag in my hand. But sometimes I won’t even do that.

While the sense of my decisions continued to play in my mind, I envisioned my journey home. It was a warm June day so I was open to walking; it never really phased me. But I knew it would be a struggle by the time I reached the station. Yet as I stepped out of the dark shop into the best open air that London could provide, I found myself walking. An image of myself sitting on the train with a heavy work bag carrying a laptop and a notebook I scarcely used with a bag of compost from a shop in Old Street beside me plagued my mind. What will I be thinking about? I asked myself. Probably this. Probably an ache in my shoulder and the smell of a long day that was bound to surround me. A plan to shower when I got home that I may not commit to. An assessment of the fridge and consideration of a home-cooked meal. I won’t have the energy. The thought was interrupted by people in lightweight clothing, sunglasses and sandals breezing past me as I trudged against them. I had sunglasses in my bag but I didn’t feel like I should wear them. You have to be in the mood to wear sunglasses, they’re a feeling. My AirPods told me that it ‘gets better with time’ and I wondered what ‘it’ is. I wasted a whole day.

Back home in my mind, I will close the fridge door and lie down on my bed, fighting thoughts that I wasted another day, and because of that, I am a waste of space. Here, I passed over a zebra crossing. And I adjusted the bag of compost in my right hand. I had to loop the handle because it was too long, still hoping no one would move my gym bag at work. Just like I did in my November existentialism, I wondered just how many of the people walking past me went through something like this. Probably most of them. There, I will stay in the position I fell into on my bed, and scroll for a bit, in search of an immediate laugh to remind myself that things aren’t bad. Here, I finally made it to the train. And I settled in a spot I knew I would find. It sat for a while. I’m always a bit early. I breathed out, ideas of what home would be like in an hour dissipating as I grounded myself with where I was.

I knew it. The bag of compost sat beside me, an attempt to take some joy home with me. Though all it really was, was a bag of compost. Tomorrow I’ll buy an actual plant. I wanted one today but I didn’t know how I would carry it. The train left the station as I leant my head against the window. Another unremarkable day. At least this story was something to remember. I hope.