Why I’m thankful for the toughest year ever

There are 2 hours of 2014 left as I write this and I am extremely emotional. This year has been the toughest that I’ve ever experienced and yet, after a really long time, I feel more authentically myself.
The lows
Business was extremely challenging and along with that, finances. And when you’re responsible for the finances of 10 other people, it’s a whole other level of pressure. I started to doubt my competencies, skills and vision. At some point, I even lost sight of the joy that I derive, working to help passionate people express and present the magic they bring to the world.
Add to this, the health condition which, my body miraculously manages by itself, took a turn for the worse. After 8 years of not having this condition interfere with my day-to-day life, this was an immense wake-up call. I took it as a sign that I seriously had to review my life and start doing things differently.

The answer was less
Top of the list was simplifying things right down. Doing less – which, I find quite hard thanks to my many interests, huge enthusiasm and desire to give and give.
On the work front, it meant letting go of responsibilities and situations that were causing me stress. I questioned the entity that I’ve been building for over 4 years and whether I even wanted to continue this line of work. I had to say ‘no’ a whole lot more, I had to trust my gut more and I had to make a lot of difficult decisions. I had to start doing what was in my heart – I needed to start focusing on making and accept that I am first and foremost an artist.
On the health front, I had to stop theorising and strategising about taking better care of myself and, actually start doing it. Self-care had to no longer be the thing that happened at the end of the day but rather, the thing that was sacred – that happened first, that happened even if nothing else got done. I started working with a homeopath, I worked on getting 15 years of pain sorted, I started meditating regularly, I started budgeting for well-being … I basically stopped taking my body for granted.
The most important things
The year’s troubles created a recluse out of me. I found myself retreating from social interaction because it was just too hard to put on a smile and ‘act normal’ when there was so much going on. I’m not very good at opening up to people so that wasn’t an option. To all my friends, I am truly sorry for not being an active participant in the nurturing of our relationship. This is top of my list of things to rectify in 2015 because, these relationships are indeed one of the most important things to me.
Speaking of the most important things, one of my cousins started a family WhatsApp group chat last week. There are 3 generations on there – including many people I haven’t seen for years and the younger ones who are now teenagers and young adults. It’s amazing just how much joy this has brought me. That we can all share, laugh and connect so instantly, despite the distance of time and space.
Freedom is something we have the power to give to ourselves
I am so grateful to have made it through 2014. I wouldn’t say I’ve done so unscathed but, I have gathered a lot of self-knowledge, a touch of wisdom and more confidence. I approach 2015 with much more fearlessness than ever. After years (decades) of worrying, trying to control everything and feeling the need to prove things to people (and myself), I have come to the realisation that the only thing I really need to focus on is, being true to myself. In every arena of my life. This year has forced me to embrace this and slow down (to stop hustling).
I appreciate that it’s a quest that requires practice and continuously checking in with myself to ensure that I’m on course. I share all of this here with you to make a record and to keep me accountable. I also share it with the hope that it might encourage others who are in despair. Freedom is something we have the power to give to ourselves.
Another thing I’ve realised is that, freedom is not a destination – it’s an action. We choose to live free. I’m reminded of one of the most inspiring books I read a while ago (note to self – re-read!): Ben Okri’s A Way of Being Free – a collection of essays that celebrate life, creativity and liberation:

In a fractured age, when cynicism is god, here is a possible heresy: we live by stories, we also live in them.

One way or another we are living the stories planted in us early or along the way, we are also living the stories we planted – knowingly or unknowingly – in ourselves. We live the stories that either give our lives meaning, or negate it with meaninglessness. If we change the stories we live by, quite possibly we change or lives.
Final thanks
Thank you for taking the time to read this and for sharing this space with me. Thank you for all the support you’ve shown me this year – whether or not you know it, simply reading, responding and interacting with me has provided much comfort!
I am thankful to my family and friends for helping me get through this rock-bottom of a year.  And to Lusungu, who has been right there beside me and has supported me in every way.
You are all so precious to me.
I wish you an abundant and joyful 2015. May you choose the stories you live by and create the life you desire.

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2 thoughts on “Why I’m thankful for the toughest year ever”

  1. This was touching.
    Thank you for always being you.
    You are my hero…and we must have a superhero meeting STAT!
    Love always
    your FB

  2. FB! Thank you for the wonderful words and for being such an amazing friend and supporter – even in those moments where I can’t see what there is to champion! In fact, especially then. I want that superhero meeting – YES! I’ll hit you up about that. Love you always.

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