Joy is a discipline

Joy is a discipline

Talk about paradoxical.

 Discipline. Punishment to correct disobedience. A framework of training people in order that they obey rules or a specific code of behaviour.


 Joy.  Isn’t joy about freedom and spontaneity? A sense of lightness.


 Joy is a discipline.  A line from Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant’s Option B stopped me in my tracks.

So what is joy?  Is it not happiness?

 Joy is said to be an internal state, a purposeful choice.  Whereas happiness is purportedly externally driven.  Joy is said to linger like a mood whilst happiness is said to be transitory.

The opposite of joy is fear.

Misery being the opposite of happiness.

 I got thinking about this year – 200+ days of lockdown – and where I’ve experienced joy and to my horror a tsunami of examples didn’t come rushing to meet my thinking.

I was determined to write something in my journal.


 What about 2019?

Was that last year, no couldn’t be, it feels like years ago?

Travel.  Our trips to Italy and Crete.

Food. Beautifully prepared food.

Reading. For pleasure. Getting lost in a book.

My daughters.

My Habibi.

My girlfriends.

 Back to 2020.

And that’s when I understood why joy is a discipline.  Joy IS paradoxical.  BUT because joy is a purposeful choice, an internal attitude, it is imperative in times like these, in times of sadness, in times of stress, to choose joy and not succumb to fear.

And I’ve slipped into the ‘easier’ path of fear.

 Discipline.  I can do that. Today I’ve committed to myself to consciously seek out and find, joy.

To relish the beautiful meals that are made for me – every day.

To curl up in my big armchair and delight in the 100’s of books that I have around the house (and on my bookcase).

To book a trip for next year.

To have long lazy lunches at my ‘dinner’ table with my girlfriends.

Oh and bubbles.  To sip on champagne bubbles.

 So that in 2021 when I ask how disciplined I have been about my practice of joy, I can without a moment of hesitation and with delight in my heart, count the many ways that joy has been present in my life.

How my mood has been one of joy and not fear.

 When last have you experienced joy?

What brings you joy?

Are you committed to a practice of joy?

Lost at sea

Lost at sea

Being lost at sea (the current VUCA in my life)

It was the time of my life that I didn’t pay attention to my body in a demeaning way.  I didn’t shun it, shame it or speak with disgust of it or to it.

I was 12.

It was summer.

I was sporting my new red and white polka dot bikini (and given the Mother I had, it covered more than an itsy bitsy yellow polka dot one).

I grew up at the coast.  We’d walk to the beach early on a Saturday mornings and only head back home when our skin was taut, red and tingly and our stomachs, having chewed through every last reserve, were now in revolt.

It was a summer day like every other.  The sun was baking and it was only 09h30.  The water cold and refreshing.  Families were setting up for the day; brollies and blankets and the necessary bottles of sunscreen and water.

I wasn’t (still am not) a good swimmer, bit I wasn’t afraid of the sea.  I was simply respectful of her ever present duality – gentle calm and raging fierce.

I shouted to my Dad (Mom hated the sand, the mess and the heat) and let him know that I was going to cool off in the water.

I saw one of my friends further out than I’d usually go.  She seemed to be having a blast on her new boogie board.  I paddled out, the waves bobbing me further and further away from the sandy shore where my Dad was.

I saw it too late.  The wave had built up momentum behind me.  Every surfer’s dream.

They called it a dumper.

“You got taken by a dumper”.  “You’re okay”.  “Your Dad is here”.

I remember being sucked under the waves.

Unable to breathe.

Swallowing water.

Being tossed around.

Chest on fire.



From that day on I’ve not gone back into the sea more than ankle deep. I don’t get into a swimming pool if there is anyone else in it.

However poorly I swam before, now I can’t even do that.

The fear of the sea is real.

Much has changed in my life in the past 9 months because much has changed deep inside of me.

The who I am.  The what I desire.  The where I wish to be, are all in question.  All in flux.

Everything that I knew to be true, a bit like being on terra firma, is being tossed around.  Not much different to being caught in that dumper.

Much has changed in the world in the last 2 weeks! COVID-19 is the lurking ‘Jaws’ and the music is getting louder each day and as much as I try and drown it out, I’m not winning.

Terra firma.  The day to day practices, or should I say programming that we blindly carry out.  That which we say keeps us ‘safe and sane’.  Like driving the same route to work each day (so that we don’t have to think about it).  The opening up of our social media apps when the alarm goes off and before you jump out of bed (so that you can catch up with the world).

Or that artsy movie that you only watch with your friend Connie, or when you’re after a serious conversation how you holler for Nadine.

Terra firma – the solid ground -the sense we make of day to day drudgery, that we call the normalcy of life.

Terra firma – that way of being – the only way of being that we’ve known – where the ‘waves’ are gentle ripples in the water of life.

Where a pair of gumboots and a rainmac are all you need and where the ‘storm’ passes by with a roof tile or two dislodged, and still your ‘home’ remains untouched.

But all of that, that I know to be the terra firma of my life has been uprooted.  The ‘home’ of me, the roof, the walls all swept away by the waves of change.

And now I find myself at sea.

My fear.

I’ve never been a good swimmer, not even average.

How do I find my new sense of ‘terra firma’ out here in the vast scape of nothingness?

I can float for a while, but I won’t move closer to the shore.

Do I follow the north star?

My north star?

What is my new north star?

Do I look for a lighthouse and swim towards that?  Does that become my new beacon?

I’m afraid of everything lurking about and below me.  The things that I know are there but I can’t see them.

How do I stay calm and tread water because creating chaos will tire me out? I’ll swallow water.

I might even drown.

Is there anything around me that I can re-engineer to be a raft of some sort, or some form of support?

Can I do some backstroke and then float for a while?

How can I teach myself to open my eyes beneath the surface of the water and get a clearer lens of what is truly ‘lurking’?

What of my ‘previous life’s’ competencies can I draw on:

Staying calm in times of panic

Listening to my gut

Failing and not being defined by the failure

Leading from the inside out

Let me tread water for a minute or so.  Listen to what my deep knowingness is telling me.

And then I’ll try breaststroke – moving forward with determination – facing what is around me – facing what I am moving towards.

And then when I’m tired I can float a while.

Staying calm.

But wait!

What if I become comfortable in this new space?
What if I find my ‘sea-legs’?

Will this become my new terra firma? And how long before I find myself in a new ‘out at sea’ space?

We speak ‘casually’ about a VUCA world, a VUCA environment.  Most organisations that I consult to have run (some successful and others not) programs that they have called VUCA1 or VUCA2019 over the past couple of years.  But what competencies do we truly need in this ever constantly changing world of ours?

How do we as people, as organisations find our ‘sea legs’?

How do we ensure that we don’t become complacent to our ‘life programming’?

How do we consciously create change in our world rather than being swept to sea when we least expect it, with nothing other than a red and white polka dot bikini?

I am human

I am human

I’ve a confession to make

Perhaps it’s the young Catholic child still inherent in me and the desire to make confession (I was raised in a Catholic Italian family and of my own free will converted to Judaism when I was 21)

Perhaps it’s the desire to make amends and apologize for who I am

Perhaps it’s the desire to make visible what else is possible

Perhaps it’s the desire to share with you that I’m not yet dead, not yet 100% there, not floating on a cloud, still picking up my crown that’s tumbled off my ‘I’m a coach and have it together’ platform

Perhaps the confession is simply : I am human

I am human and I do not live a life where unicorns pee perfume or fart rainbows
I don’t live a life that is flatline – one constant thread of one emotion
I don’t live a life where I am the perfect friend or perfect wife (well we know I didn’t do that) or perfect mother (that’s why we’re in therapy)

And let me not even engage in what is perfect and perfection

I am human
I don’t cry pretty, I lose my shit and raise my voice, I get angry, I say inappropriate things,

I get the hot flushes and it’s often more than just menopause

I forget you and I forget me, I feel sad, I feel fear and afraid, I feel alone and I feel loved and grateful and blessed for what I have (and for what I don’t)

I have my shit together and then I don’t

I am compassionate and caring (often to others not so often towards myself), I am on a journey that is leading me back home … I get lost on the path and thank heavens find my way back to it …

So in all of this don’t expect me to live a life where I’m farting rainbows and peeing perfume
I am human
There will be days (are days) when my blogs are dark and my heart is heavy and my soul is feeling weary.  Where I have temporarily forgotten all about meditation, the power of gratitude, the ability to reframe my language – all of the stuff ‘I SHOULD know’ (and do know).  Where my Instagram and Facebook posts are of ‘heavy’ quotes and lyrics of songs that make me cry

And equally there are days when I am feeling light, filled with joy and hold gratitude with delight, where I laugh until my belly aches and my mascara is half way down my cheeks and I couldn’t give a toss, and my musings are frivolous and upbeat and my Facebook and Instagram posts are of balloons and candyfloss (cotton candy)

If all of this emotion, and specifically the ‘less light’ aspect of me scares you, or you find it unpalatable, then I have to say : I have a confession to make : I am human

I also invite you, instead of staying away, arrive at my front door, pull up a chair and have a coffee and be curious as to what is happening in my world

I engage with all of my emotions – they make me stronger – they bring awareness each time they draw up a chair and have a coffee with me – I learn deeply of my stories of the patterns that play out in my life when I engage with all of my emotions … the so called bad and dark emotions  and the ones where my smile is so broad that I can be a Colgate model

I have a confession to make: I am human

And no I am not apologizing for who I am.

It is my desire to be FULLY who I am and experience all the learning that emotions and being real are.  To experience the length, breadth and depth of life, to be human, to be real, for my pee to smell after I’ve eaten asparagus and my farts.. let’s just say I fart [Symbol]

I look forward to us sharing coffee, of speaking of our human-ness

And I leave you with the chorus of ‘I am human’ by Escape the Fate and a  couple of links to some interesting articles

Escape the Fate – I am human

I am strong, I am weak
I am everything between
I am proud to be me
I am human
I am weird, I’m a freak
I am different, I’m unique
I will love who I please
I am human
You are just like me
You are just like me

A week of unexpected delight – my version of Valentine’s day.

A week of unexpected delight – my version of Valentine’s day.

Given that I’ve always rejected the notion of Valentine’s day; far too commercial for me. Why on Earth would someone choose to only recognize another person on one day a year or worse, on a day that primes most relationships for failure?

“They weren’t the flowers I wanted!”

“Priscilla got a trip to the Maldives, and we’re going to Durban!”

“Why can’t you get a hint; I left a trail of clues for you!”

The stores are filled with colours of red and pink and touches of white and silver.  Jewellery stores start their ‘subtle, not subtle’ marketing to unsuspecting suitors early January in the guise of new year specials.

Florists are punting the significance of red roses and of course the obligatory box of chocolates and fluffy bear, to join all the other bears that get packed away or donated after this commercial event.

And again this day got me thinking about why is it that we spend so much attention on expressing our love to another on just one day.  And what would it look like, sound like, feel like, if we expressed our love daily.  And what if we expressed our love to ourselves first. Daily.

And this got me thinking.

How might I show me a little love? How might I see the love in everything and everyone around me for a whole week of ‘Valentine’?

I love acts of service first and foremost. Empty the dishwasher when you see that the cycle is done.  Take the dog for a walk, even if it’s not your turn.

Gifts are somewhere on the list but not high up … Quality time is more important for me than a gift that your secretary bought for me ‘cause she’d like it herself.

But I had to become clear on what ‘love’ is important for me, for now, and then communicate it to the people who I love and care for and equally be clear on what and how they want me to love them!
And then let it all go.  ‘Cause being seen, being truly loved by another for who you are, that’s what it’s all about.

Imagine my delight when I was loved in a myriad of way this past week.  Each of them so special that my heart smiled.

I have new clients in my diary

My new corporate branding is coming together and I’m loving it

I’ve got a photoshoot booked with an incredible sister team who I already feel so supported by

The handyman whose services I’d only used once before, came out in the pouring rain to fix my indoor rain feature

Load-shedding hasn’t impacted me as it usually does

I’ve woken up at 04h00 to meditate and have been more energized than the days that I wake up at 05h00

My ex-husband brought me a beautiful bunch of lilies – of my favorite favorites

I’ve said no, and meant no and not waivered

Every day stuff you may say, but to me it’s been a wonderous week of seeing love in the most unusual places.

Perhaps when we change our story about love, about how it should be, from whom it should be and remove the constrictions we place on it, perhaps then we unlock the magic of everyday love … the love that is constant, that doesn’t have a colour to it or a plush toy dangling from it … a love that says simply ‘this is me loving you’.

Survive or Thrive

Survive or Thrive

What is the story you’re holding onto (and what is the impact)?

My love for language and more importantly the impact of language on our bodies and emotions is just one of the loves of my life (meaningful conversation, travel, my girl tribe and bubbles are few of the others).

And given that this is my first blog of 2019 I thought I’d share that love with you again, with the hope and desire that you create a 2019 of your dreams!

I was watching a documentary last night and if truth be told I was starting to doze off (it was close to midnight) but it hit me like a lightning bolt!

A woman was being interviewed, and through her sobs I heard her say: “Who will I be if this cancer is cured?  I have lived with it for so long, it is me, it is who I am”.


Thank heavens for stop-rewind.  I was awake. Wide awake. I had to replay that segment.

Yip, that’s what she said.

The profundity of what she said was not lost on me.

Consider it for a moment.  She was saying that her identity in the world had became that of having cancer.  That everyone knew her as “Alice, the woman with cancer”; or “Alice my wife who has cancer”.

Alice, the woman with cancer

Alice herself had disappeared and the cancer was now the person, the identity.

And more than that, her fear was that she would no longer have ‘the crutch’; no longer have her raison d’être.

When she imagined her life or the simple act of speaking of herself, she no longer would have ‘cancer’ to explain her being, the reason why she looked poorly that day, or how cancer had consumed her life and the life of her family.

And that’s exactly what happened.

Her language and her emotional reaction to her cancer had literally joined forces to consume her.

Our language has a direct impact on our emotions and our bodies.

Take these two sentences:

  1. All I want for 2019 is to survive
  2. All I want for 2019 is to thrive

In the former example, our bodies immediately go into a flight or fight stance because of the vibration of the word ‘survive’ and then our unconscious engagement with life and every day is that of having to ensure our survival.  We might speak of having to fight for what is ours. Or how tough life is. How this year is going to break so many people.

And in the latter example, our bodies are in a place of delight. We hold an unconscious belief that 2019 is going to be a ‘soaring’ year.  A year where we flourish, where the gardens of our lives are lush and there is an abundance of whatever it is that we need, dream and desire.

What story (stories) are you currently holding onto?  And what is the impact?

Are you leaning to ‘surviving’ or ‘thriving’?

I hear too often “I have no choice” or “It’s no use”.

Dammit people sit up.  Pay attention to your language.

Stop – rewind.

Start again!

Make your words count.  Let your language love you.

For further reading: