Grief and joy | Life and death.  The juxtaposition.

Grief and joy | Life and death. The juxtaposition.

Grief and Joy |Life and Death: the juxtaposition

The past few days have been about life and death and grief and joy and how they live together and yet separate and I was reminded of again, how the Universe provides me occasion to pause and reconsider the ‘who am I and where am I headed’.

Yesterday was the funeral service of a friend of my daughters’ Nonno.  Her Nonno had been ‘her person’.  And like my own Dad, her Nonno had arrived on the shores of South Africa from Italy looking for a ‘better life’ way back when.

These two men were similar in so many ways. From their devotion to their wives, to their ‘I might be slight in stature but don’ta you mess with me’ approach to life, to the fact that one day they were healthy and talking shit to the grandkids, to literally months later no longer at the Sunday lunch table.

As I held this family in my heart, I cried for that Nonno, for this family and for me.  I cried because I wasn’t able to have a ‘goodbye’ for my Dad, for our Nonno.  It was hard lockdown in April last year when our ‘Nonno’ died.  We were here in Johannesburg and he was 1200kms away. 

Somehow not having a funeral, or wake, or memorial for our ‘Nonno’ has left his death somewhat unfinished.  And yes, I’m aware of how inane that may sound.  He is dead.  And it is finished.

And yesterday’s funeral brought the grief that was still stored in the nooks and crannies of my body, front and centre.  

Grief doesn’t have a start and end.  Grief is. And then it is no more.  And possibly the grief gets painted with colours of joy and after a while it is joy.  

Joy for the person’s contribution to your life.  Joy for their existence.  Joy for the laughter that you shared.  Joy for their crazy ditties like ‘The man from Calcutta’.  Joy for sharing recipes for THE best sugo.  And moelas. Joy.

And again I’m left wondering how I might bring joy to my own life.  Have I really learned about joy? What does joy feel like for me in my own body? How do I invite joy in? And if truth be told, I have to say I play this skittish dance with joy.  Sometimes a little nervous. Sometimes a little afraid.  Of what?  

 

Death is an interesting advocator of Life.  My Mom was petrified of dying.  In the last 24 hours of her life she refused to close her eyes, telling me that she knew that she would die when she did.  She was right.  When she eventually closed her eyes that evening, she didn’t wake again.  She fought death. Tooth and nail.

My Dad had always spoken of his belief of life beyond this life.  He wasn’t afraid of death.  So he said.  And yet he fought death for an entire day. It was as if the unfinished conversations, possibly the regret, the words unspoken were the battle he fought with Death herself.  The bargaining.  “Let me stay that I may ….”

A girlfriend’s Mom passed yesterday after a week of ‘still holding on, still grasping to life’s ethereal whispers of breath’.

Why now did they so desperately hold on to life? 

I feel more than shaken these past days.

I’m left wondering if I have forgotten about Life herself.  I’ve spent hours asking myself if I am ready to die?  Would I fight death? 

And no, I’m not ready to die and I would fight ‘for another chance’.  

And that is it.  

Another chance.

Now. Today.

Today.  Life. 

Doing the things that bring me joy. That make me laugh.  That I feel alive. Taking the risks.  Telling random strangers how beautiful they are, because they are. Knowing my worth. Making mistakes.  Speaking the shit that happens in my head without fearing the judgement of others.  Saying and doing what I want to say and do, but instead do that ‘reaction formation’ thing. Doing life.  Being alive.

 

Grief has taught me joy this week.  And death has gifted me life. The juxtaposition of all that is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Jamez Picard on Unsplash

TWO LEFT FEET (and doing it anyway)

TWO LEFT FEET (and doing it anyway)

Have you heard of the expression ‘two left feet’?  Have you ever used it when speaking about yourself? In what context?

The origins are early 20th Century but for me what is intriguing is the hidden meaning behind the expression.

Did you know that the word for ‘left’ in Latin was ‘sinistra’ meaning evil (think sinister in the English language) and get this; the French word for ‘left’ is ‘gauche’, which also means lacking in social graces, awkward.

This morning whilst I was rebounding (remember all things integration) all was well in my world until the instructor asked me to pay attention to my body AND jump in rhythm with the song AND move to a choreographed routine. Too much. Overload.

All of a sudden I noticed my two left feet.

I became clumsy.  And to be honest a little nervous.  Afraid that I was going to fall off the rebounder.

I centered myself.  Paused my watch – ‘cause you know all things Adrian Gore keep a check on my heart rate and calories burned – and I paused You Tube.

What was I afraid of? What was so sinister about this experience?

I was afraid of falling off the rebounder.

What could happen? Really? How far off the ground was I? Was there any object in my path that would be fatal to my wellbeing if I fell and hit that object?

I was being silly.  Even if I did fall off, it’s a matter of centimeters off the floor and nothing of danger in my path.

So what was it?

Why did I suddenly experience two-left-feet syndrome?

I realized that I felt silly.  I felt awkward. I felt like I had lost every last vestige of being graceful.

My Enneagram 1 panicked.  I wasn’t doing ‘it right’ (look at that – right!).  What if someone saw? What if I wasn’t good enough? Well no shit Sherlock – I wasn’t good enough in this instance!

Was I going to fall back into that old pattern of mine (of the Enneagram 1 type) and exit before I got caught out?  That my secret of not being good enough was found out?

NO! Not today!

I hit play and got my rebounding teacher back in animation.  I hit the resume button on my watch and off I went bouncing away.

What did I do differently?

I gave myself permission to be wrong. To be not-good-enough.  I did what I could.  I laughed when I did fall.  And I climbed back up and tomorrow I’ll do it again.  And perhaps I’ll be able to do the full workout and perhaps my movements will be a little more co-ordinated and if not, I’ll jump back on the next day.

I will get to the point where I am no longer awkward, that I feel more graceful.  The place where I accept that I have a left and right foot.  The place where I accept me.  All of me.

Have you ever felt like you have two left feet (and possibly put both of them into your mouth)?

What triggered this feeling, this sense of awkwardness?

Perhaps you’ve been in a setting where you felt out of place? Did you do something, or say something that was met with ‘a look’?

Perhaps you experienced it when in your head you believed you could do that thing, or say that sentence in that foreign language, and then when you did it, or said it, you wished you’d never attempted it?

How have you moved to a place of feeling more at ease? More graceful?

I’d love to hear.

Here’s to a perfect pair of feet!

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Jamez Picard on Unsplash

Life lessons from my Habibi: what my Bouvier des Flandres taught me

Life lessons from my Habibi: what my Bouvier des Flandres taught me

My Habibti, my darling, is (our) my fur-kid. We got her almost 7 years ago as a 6-week old ball of tight black curls and a bright pink tongue.

She believes she’s a human and doesn’t know she’s a Bouvier des Flandres given that she’s the only kid in the house (and please don’t tell her otherwise). 

She’s spoiled as all kids should be.

She’s talkative. (As are all Italians)

She’s has a toy box that rivals Hamleys and loves playing with Ernie Ernelston II (he’s a grey elephant) and Zara the Zebra.

At the beginning of November we rushed her to the vet. She had a raging temperature.

She came home on Friday the 13th after having had countless blood tests, IV’s, FNA’s (if you’re a Grey’s fan you’ll know the term of Fine Needle Aspirations), major surgeries – gallbladder removed and a liver biopsy.

Far too many tablets shoved down her throat and fed intravenously.  Food syringed into the back of her mouth.

She was a shadow of her usual self. No chatting. No tail wags.  No asking for treats. No playing with her toys.

She refused to eat. She refused to drink, even water.

All she did was lie on her bed and look at us with sad brown eyes.

I slept downstairs on Friday night and Saturday and Sunday night.  I felt helpless. If you’re South African, you’ll get this – I even bought her Woolies rotisserie chicken! Nothing. No eating. No drinking.

On Monday morning at around 04h30 I leaned into her and informed her that we were going to get through this and that I’d do whatever she needed me to do.

It’s Friday.

She’s eating Woolies chicken and drinking water.

She’s walking around the house and garden albeit like someone who’s just jumped off a merry-go-round

She’s given a couple of tail wags.

She barked when she heard me open the front door earlier this morning.

She asked for a treat today.

She brought Ernie and Zara to me a short while ago.

And I’ve even managed to get 2 of the 11 tablets down her throat.

Lessons learned

1.     Trust your gut

I decided to give her milk diluted with water and she drank it

I changed her water bowls for plastic bowls and she’s started drinking again on her own

Leadership lesson:

Think Malcolm Gladwell: Blink

Think AirBnB

Think Uber

2.     We all need someone in our corner

There are times when we just need someone to tell us they’ve got us and we can lean in

We all need to know that we’re loved and that we make the world a better place

Leadership lesson:

Have people in your corner who: bring value | expand you |cheer you on |are the straight talker |

3.     Perseverance

I bought yoga mats and spread them around the house so that she had a sense of grip and balance and slowly we’re rolling them up. Even when you’re tired of facing what seem to be never ending obstacles and difficulties you find a way to get past the adversity

Leadership lesson:

Think Chris Nikic | Steve Jobs | Thomas Edison

4.     It takes a village

We’ve achieved this. From the vets, to my non-fur-children, to our housekeeper, to the friends who called for daily updates.  This has been a team effort.

The burden is definitely lighter when you’re sharing the load.

Leadership lesson:

In a world that few of us have experienced before, it takes the collective to bring about solution.

5.     Love is a selfless

So what if I slept on the floor? I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again.

She’s loved me unconditionally.  It was my turn.  So I cleaned up the vomit, and the messy bum.  And I told her how much I love her.

Leadership lesson:

Heart-centred leadership is not for the faint ‘of heart’ but it is so worth it.

Tonight I’m having a glass of wine in celebration of life and its lessons.  May I have the strength and courage to weather it all.

 

 

 

Photo by Jamez Picard on Unsplash

We get what we tolerate

We get what we tolerate

We get what we tolerate.

Are you evolving or revolving?

 

Both the statement and the question had me in deep reflection the past week.  The statement was a one-liner from the Tony Robbins Netflix documentary “I’m not your guru” and the question a chapter heading from Dr Edith Eger’s book ‘The Gift: 12 lessons to save your life’.

 

Tolerate (verb): to allow the existence, occurrence or practice of something one dislikes or disagrees with, without interference.

 

Revolve (verb): to travel around a central point; to turn back, to repeat

 

Evolve (verb): to expand, to develop by natural processes to a higher state

 

What are you tolerating in your life?

Are there relationships that have reached their sell by date and you’re still holding on?

Is it perhaps the manner in which you doubt yourself?

A job or career that is paying the bills and leaves you joyless?

 

By tolerating this in your life are you supporting the evolution of you or are you simply revolving around the same conversations of ‘just as soon as I get my bonus I’m out of here’ / rather I tell myself how much I need to improve than someone else tell me / I’m going to give them one more chance to redeem themselves.

 

Tony Robbins might not be your cup-a-ccino and you might not pick up a book recounting a 92-year old’s story of her time in Auschwitz and yet these pearlers got me thinking. Reflecting.

 

I’ve got to own up to the fact that the uncertainty of this year has had me tolerating a whole lotta shit and had me revolving rather than evolving.  If truth be told I was jailed in the prison of paralyzing fear.

 

I’ve realized that I’ve been literally weighted down by the unknown, the now what, the who I am, who will I be, to the extent that I have gained 12kgs.

I’ve realized how I hold the fear of abandonment and because of this, do everything in my power not to abandon another even if it means that I am holding on beyond the sell by date; it even goes as far as not ‘wanting’ to abandon limiting patterns.

My language became ‘heavy’, pessimistic, limited.

And my mood dark and bordering depressed.

 

What changed?  I’m not sure of the exact moment in time.  But I remembered a friend telling me years ago that I needed a board of directors even though it’s just me in my business.

I also started working deeply with my passion of ontology and archetypal enneagram patterns. 

In simple terms, I started paying close attention to the language, emotions and behaviours of my core enneagram type and the story behind them.

 

And the cover of my soon to be released book says it all:

#TheStoriesWeTell

Shift your story, shift your sh#t

 

Time to evolve

Time to let go of outdated limiting patterns

Time to get me a board of directors and the sky is literally the limit: I’m thinking You-Tube / a free online course / a conversation with someone different to me, younger, older, different gender, different core business

Time to do the work

Time to be the new pattern – the new thinking, feeling, doing

 

What are you tolerating in your life?
Are you ready to evolve?

Mutation: The non-adaptability of the Social 1 enneagram type

Mutation: The non-adaptability of the Social 1 enneagram type

I was speaking with a doctor, earlier this week, who’s based in Europe and was asking her perspective around the upsurge in COVID numbers.  Like most viruses, this one is also mutating, she said. 


It got me thinking around the word mutation which in essence speaks to a change of state or condition.  Damn. Everything pertaining to this year, has been for me, a form of mutation. And because my mind does this – goes on a meander – I considered the words that are being used in relation to the COVID-19 virus.  

Words and phrases like fight, lockdown, pivot and new normal. I reflected on how these words show up in my body – tense, ‘armed for action’, stressed and more importantly I started thinking about my enneagram type and mutation.

 

I’m a Social 1 enneagram type.  The name given to this type is ‘non-adaptability’ and that is when the proverbial penny dropped.

The behaviours of this sub-type speak to the rigidity around beliefs, actions. Of how this type appreciates the rules, somewhat schoolmarmish in their approach.

 

Everything of my type’s stance has wobbled the past 10 months.  Everything that I have held so tightly as being part of my identity has been cracked wide open.  The masks (and not the Corona-mandatory type) have done more than slip slightly off my face. 

I’m no longer able to hold tightly to the ‘I’m good’ in response to someone asking me how I’m doing.

The people who I had believed were ‘my peeps’ have proven that they’re not, so what does that say about me?

My to do lists remain untouched, with a sense of lethargy around anything prescriptive.

The work that I do, that my identity was so tightly woven into, has morphed into a space that hasn’t yet made itself known.

 

My non-adaptability has been whacked. Whacked hard.  And it is necessary now to avail the space of mutation.

 

How do I shift my story and shift my sh#t?

How do I move from resentment to contentment?

How do I ask for help, becoming discerning as to whom to ask, instead of squaring my shoulders and telling myself that I can do it on my own?

How do I create a new identity that is separate to what I do in the world and instead is the who I am being? 

How do I become comfortable experiencing my emotions and not shoving them under the bed?

How do I lean into what’s to come rather than focus on what’s no longer?

How do I take definitive actions for myself and move out of the languishing lethargy?

How do I claim my worth and not anticipate it from others?

 

How do I change my state?

How do I move to adaptability?

How do I mutate?

I got rejected.

I got rejected.

Shocked. Gutted. Scrambled thoughts. Nauseous.

 I’m curious.  How do you deal with rejection?  What’s your story about rejection and the time that it happened to you?

 I recently pitched to a potential new client.

 I spoke of the one-degree of stretch change that we’d seek to attain and sustain.  I spoke of the enneagram and the shift that it makes possible for each of us, for teams, for organisations. Of how it allows us to shift our story and therefore shift our sh#t. I told stories around the concepts of the types.

 I spoke from the integrity of me. 

I asked for questions. None were forthcoming.

 I didn’t see it coming.

Now what?

 I could have chosen to sink into my story of not being good enough when the ‘thank you and no thank you’ mail dropped.

Instead I leaned into what I know.

Feel the emotions.  They’re valid. All of them.

 I asked for feedback.

Not what I expected.

They didn’t experience me as an authority in my field.  They didn’t hear or feel the credibility of who I am. They didn’t see the benefit.

 I’ve looked for the reframe.

Great learning. It’s gotten me into action as to who I want to work with and why.  It’s made me become crystal clear as to my offering in the world. And more importantly, it’s begged me to become confidently arrogant around my worth, my value.

 And now, a few hours later, with gratitude, I’m able to say: ‘thank you for the clarity that your rejection has afforded me’.

Rejection.  An occasion to learn.  An opportunity for growth.