Warning: 10 signs that your overwhelm is actually burnout.

6153578409_0f7b92fbe5_mHave you ever felt overwhelmed by your life? You don’t feel like you are coping; You’re not enjoying your life and you’re stressed about all the things you still have to do.

This is a common phenomenon and can be treated by making different choices.

Photo by Giuseppe Savo

BUT left untreated  overwhelm can  lead to burnout.

Burnout is serious.

How do you know if you’re shifting from overwhelm to burnout?

  • You used to care about being successful at work, now you have ZERO MOTIVATION.
  • You used to have a bad day once or twice a week, now EVERY day is a LOUSY day.
  • You used to have enough energy to get through the day, now you feel EXHAUSTED all the time. You even wake up feeling exhausted.
  • You used to enjoy some parts of your job, now you experience most of your tasks as work as DULL,  overwhelming and mind-numbing.
  • You used to feel good about your contribution, now you feel that NOTHING you do makes any difference.
  • You used to feel valued, now you feel totally UNAPPRECIATED.
  • You used to look forward to weekends and spending time at home, now even that holds NO PLEASURE for you.
  • You used to be relatively healthy, now you seem to pick up EVERY BUG going around.
  • You used to feel the pressure of too much stress, now you FEEL NOTHING at all. It’s like you are empty – devoid of all feeling.
  • You used to feel physically exhausted, now you are EMOTIONALLY EXHAUSTED.

If any of these statements resonate, it’s time to take a closer look and make some changes.

First: Get a sense of your emotional state.

Awareness is always the first step to change. Use the list above to asses your emotional state. If two or more items on the list feel true for you and especially if you feel empty most of the time, then know this:

You must take the next two steps, or else the universe will do it for you.

Second: Get Support

Do nothing else today besides reaching out for support. There is so much help available so make a decision  and reach out to somebody. Once you have taken this step, you are putting yourself on the path to recovery.

Here are some options: Speak to your Human Resources department, your manager,  your priest/ pastor, a psychologist, a counselor, a  life coach, your family doctor OR  call Life Line or FAMSA.

I don’t really care what you do, as long as you speak to someone.

Third: Build your stamina

Once you have started on your healing journey and when you are feeling a bit stronger, start thinking about how you can build your physical and emotional stamina. You can discuss this with your support practitioner as well. Take care of your physical  heath by eating healthily and getting plenty of rest. Take care of our emotional health by introducing time for daily reflection – try meditation, reading, writing, or doing something creative like painting. Building your stamina takes time and patience – but it is this that will sustain you in the long run. Make a commitment to yourself that this is a top priority in your life.

Burnout is not the end of your life.

It is a new beginning.

Burnout is the beginning of a life of balance and fun, a life where you value and care for yourself, a life where you feel emotions again.

Burnout is an opportunity to shift from enduring life to embracing life. Start today.

No one needs a smile

as much as a person who fails to give one.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Burnout, Life Mastery, Managing Stress | 1 Comment

How to shift out of overwhelm into productivity

8039674995_37db0158a8_mCancer and a mastectomy, death of a parent, marriage difficulties, teenage terrors – if you experienced all of the above in the space of a six-month period wouldn’t it be appropriate to feel overwhelmed? How about if three weeks ago you buried someone with whom you had been friends for thirty years?

                                                                                                        Photo by Jenifer Williams

These are just some of the things readers shared with me when I asked what you know about overwhelm.

Overwhelm is a feeling of  incapacitating emotional or mental stress.

It is often brought on by ourselves or our experiences.

Searching for ‘overwhelm’ on the internet revealed hundreds of articles – most of which dealt with that anxious feeling of overwhelm when you have too much to do and too little time.

What these readers, authors and bloggers showed me are that there are degrees of overwhelm.

If overwhelm is on one end of the scale, managing life effectively and being productive lies on the other end.

It looks something like this:    Productive-OverwhelmScaleWhere do you think you are on the scale?

Of course, I wouldn’t be much of a Life Coach if I didn’t ask the next question:

What do you need in order to shift more to the left on the scale?

AND

What do you need to let go of to shift more to the left?

Sometimes life sends us much to deal with, as with the readers that I mentioned at the start of this post. Your feelings of overwhelm may be totally appropriate for the time and space that you find yourself in. It is useful to acknowledge that and to spend some time finding your way and growing into acceptance.

What you need to watch out for is staying stuck in this space for an extended period time.

There is also the overwhelm that is experienced by so many of us that comes from the way we view our very busy, very hectic and very full lives. 

I have worked with many clients during the past few years in this situation. Some of the common observations I have made are: some people push themselves too much; some people can be unrealistic about how much work they choose to do in a day vs. the number of hours in the day; some people sabotage themselves by saying YES too often.

Some people don’t like it when they come to this realisation in my coaching room and I am going to say it anyway: Saying you are overwhelmed is your way of giving yourself permission to be less productive, inefficient and not accountable.

Decide where you fit on the scale.

Now consider which of these actions would help you to shift:

1. If you are far to the right on the scale, please get professional help – there is so much available – therapists/ counsellors/ pastors/ FAMSA/ LIFELINE. Whether your feelings are appropriate or not, get yourself some support. You do not have to cope with this all on your own. When you are stuck in such deep overwhelm that you battle to get out of bed in the mornings – do only one thing today and that is to get the support you need.

2. If you are somewhere in the middle here are some options:

  • Sign up to a blog such as this one (there are plenty of others). Study appropriate posts. Decide on a small change to implement every week and do it.
  • Start each day in a calm and peaceful way. Meditate/ pray/ read/ reflect. The way you start your day paves the way for the rest of the day.
  • Watch out for my next post on dealing with “too much to do – too little time”
  •  Learn about yourself – self-reflection and journaling can teach you much.
  • Find a buddy to work with – keep each other accountable, share what works and doesn’t work with each other.
  • Get a mentor/ Life Coach

3. If you are on the far left of the scale, wonderful! You’re on the path to self-actualisation. As you no doubt know, there is always more – more to learn, more to achieve, more to grow. How will you ensure your continued growth, development and enthusiasm?

The mantra I offer, as usual, is awareness first, action second.

This is how you change your way of being in the world and hence your life. This is also how you deal with overwhelm.

My next blog post will look specifically at the phenomenon of the 21st century – too much to do, too little time – which leads to overwhelm. And, of course, some ways of shifting this!

Sometimes when you’re overwhelmed by a situation –

when you’re in the darkest of darkness –

that’s when your priorities are reordered.

Phoebe Snow

Posted in Life Mastery, Managing Stress, Way of Being | 3 Comments

A Formula for Letting Go

DSC06366Emotional pain arises from holding onto past issues.

Letting go bring peace and contentment.

How do you do that?

Follow the 5 step formula below.

Know this before you begin: you have to go through the process. You have to do the work. You have to dedicate the time for yourself to do this.

Holding on keeps you stuck. Letting go frees you.

Step 1: Awareness

If you feel emotional pain on a regular basis, there’s a strong possibility you are holding onto some issue. Start with this post to increase your awareness . Decide on one issue to work on at a time – it always helps to narrow the focus and give yourself time to process the steps. Remember letting go is a journey, not a single action. Write down the issue you have identified in clear and simple words. Be specific.

For example:

  • I am not good enough.
  • I can’t live without my ex.
  • That armed robbery proves that I will never be safe.
  • I know the best way to bring up the kids.
  • I am better than my spouse.
  • I will never pass these exams.
  • I am fat and ugly.
  • I hate my marriage.
  • I’ll never get all my work done.
  • I don’t deserve a rest.
  • Younger, smarter people will take my job.
  • etc

Step2:  Process

Give yourself the gift of reflection. You need about two or three hours to really work through this step. You will need  journal and a pen that writes easily and smoothly.

Start by calming yourself down. You may want to stare at a lit candle or listen to soothing music. Breathe deeply and slowly for a few minutes. Now begin to write. Answer these questions:

  • How does holding onto this thought play out in your life?
  • Make a list of 50 to 100 examples in your life that disproves the thought. Do not move on until you are finished. Yes this is tough – believe me the evidence is there – open your eyes.
  • Acknowledge that there is some truth for and some truth against your thought. Acknowledge that the thought is jut a thought. See the devastating way that holding onto this thought impacts your life.
  • Write down an opposing thought. For instance, if you wrote “I am not good enough”, swop it for “I am absolutely ok”. Describe your life if THIS new thought was the one that occupied your mind on a regular basis instead of your original destructive thought. How would this play out in your life?
  • If you never ever thought this thought again – how would that be?
  • For more on this part of the process visit Byron Katie

Step 3: Identify learnings 

Take a break of a few days after Step 2.

Now schedule an hour of your time for journal work. As before, get yourself calm and quiet before you begin.Answer these questions:

  • What are the lessons that you have learnt from completing Step 1 and 2?
  • What have you learnt from your experience of holding onto this issue?
  • What have you learnt about in your whole life that will hold you in good stead as you move forwards?
  • Look at all the lessons you have written down. Which three lessons will make the most difference for you as you move forwards into your future?

Additional exercise: Become calm and quiet. Write a letter to your Future Self ( your self in twenty years time). Tell your Future Self about your experience of letting go. Ask him/ her anything else you need to know. Ask for some advice on how to proceed in the future. When you are done – take a twenty minute break.

Come back. preferably sit in another chair, write with another pen and if possible write with your other hand. Now write an answer from your Future Self back to the Present You.

Spend some time contemplating the advice from your Future Self as well as your three most important lessons. Picture yourself moving on.

Step4: Closing Ritual

Once again, make time for yourself and become calm and quiet. Reflect on the process that you have been through.

Tear out the pages in your journal from Step 1 and 2. Briefly read through them and remind yourself that this era of your life is past.

Commit to letting go and moving on.

Tear up those pages or burn them (if you have a safe way of doing so). As you do this, tell yourself repeatedly that you are closing this chapter so you can move on.

Tidy up your space. Put things away. Spend some time in gratefulness and hope for your future.

Step 5: Move on

 It can take a while to train your thoughts on this issue to stop arriving. For a while they may continue to pop into your head uninvited. Thoughts do that. This step is crucial so apply your determination to work with dedication for a few weeks.

Here’s what you do: every time a thought about that issue arrives in your head, notice it, say “Oh well” and then purposely focus on what you are currently doing. Don’t shout at yourself or get upset. Just notice, comment and shift focus. These thoughts will soon fade away due to the lack of air-time they receive.

That’s the formula: Awareness; Process; Identify learnings; Closing Ritual; Move on

Guess what? It’s work. It’s a process. It’s necessary.

Give yourself a better future: commit to following the steps and taking the time for you.

Now let go and move on.

Stand up and walk out of your history.
Phil McGraw

 

 

 

Posted in awareness, Feelings, Happiness, Life Mastery, Thought Patterns | 1 Comment

Warning: Holding onto these ten things will stunt your growth

Holding onto issues keeps you stuck.2349798104_fd15441544_m

You will live with emotional pain as long as you identify  with the problems/ issues of the past.

Holding on is about believing in the past.

Letting go is about moving on so you can create a better, brighter and bolder future.

You probably know this already. The big question is HOW?

You start with self-reflection – you can’t let go of something if you don’t know you’re holding onto it!

Here are ten things that humans commonly hold onto:

  1. Discontent with self: You re-live past mistakes, playing them  over and over in your mind for months or even years. Your inner critic is so harsh that your self-esteems is a crumpled mess. You will never be good enough or successful enough. EVER.
  2. Stress: You experience feelings of overwhelm on a daily basis. You continually think about all the work you have to do and stress abut how you’ll never get it done. Your shoulders are tense, your back is full of knots and you don’t actually know how to relax your body. You have to be doing something constructive every minute of every day. You sleep badly at night and skip exercise, healthy eating and nurturing yourself because you are too busy.
  3. Worries: You worry about everything. The most common thought in your head starts with ‘What if…” . You often lie awake at night worrying about the future. You feel helpless because so many things can go wrong and you want to control everything.
  4. Relationships (unhealthy ones and past ones): Your current relationship is unhealthy and unhappy and yet you do nothing to change it – except think about it and complain about it continually. OR – you think about a past relationship all the time, wishing it could have been different, moping about the fact that that its over, telling yourself over and over that you actually can’t live without that person; you spend every spare minute stalking them on social media and plotting how you can get them back.
  5. Negative feelings like anger/ bitterness / resentment/ revenge: Your daily focus is on what the person did to you. You think about the circumstances over and over, allowing the anger and bitterness to fill your entire being. You plot your revenge and resentfully think about how they have ruined your life. You almost enjoy those negative feelings and wallow in them whenever you can.
  6. Bad habits: Self-sabotage is the name of your game. You know the actions you are taking are bad for you, yet you choose not to change. You have a list of handy excuses so that you are able to rationalize your behaviors. You truly believe you can’t help yourself and so you let yourself off the hook.
  7. Fear: You hold onto living a small and mediocre life. You are scared to try new things, you are scared to be bold in your choices, you’re scared to ruffle feathers. You refuse to do anything unless you are almost guaranteed that it will work. Failure is not an option in your life.
  8. Being right: You are always right. You feel indignant when other people don’t see it your way. Your rigidity and inflexibility cause unhappiness in others and you don’t care. You are not a listener: you might pretend to hear the other side of the story, but are busy preparing the defense of your idea whilst they speak. You judge others harshly. You refuse to entertain any other possibilities because you know you are right – so why bother?
  9. Unhappy circumstances: You hate your job or your partner or your life. Yet you stay. You use your misery to get sympathy from others or to manipulate others. You complain bitterly about your life and yet you take no action to change anything. You feel like a martyr because you are able to live with what you despise. You believe this makes you a better person.
  10. Expectations: You experience disappointment at every turn of life. People disappoint you. Holidays disappoint you. Work disappoints you. Nothing is ever good enough. Nothing ever works out. Most of your sentences contain the word ‘should’. He should be… ; They should have been… ; I should ….

There is a common thread that runs through all these. Can you think what it is?

As you read through the list, you may have recognized something that will help you to identify what you are holding onto that is keeping you from moving forward.

Alternatively, take a solid chunk of time for yourself. Reflect on your life.

Answer these questions:

  • What is working in your life? What can you continue doing/ thinking/ being that is supporting those parts of your life that are working for you?
  • What is not working in your life? What are you being that is contributing to those circumstances? What are you holding onto that is not serving you well? (NOTE there is no space here for blaming someone else – this is about being empowered by being accountable!)
  • What steps can you take to let go and so move forward?

Have you worked out  the common thread amongst the ten issues?

Each and every one of them has to do with the kinds of thoughts you have in your head. Most of them start with the thoughts you are thinking.

Change your thoughts and move on.

Congratulations. The first step on becoming unstuck and moving forwards is identifying  what is holding you back.

If you need a formula for letting go – watch out for the next blog post.

In the meantime – continue reflecting and identifying what you’re holding onto that is keeping you stuck.

Holding on to anger

is like grasping a hot coal

with the intent of throwing it

at someone else;

you are the one who gets burned.

Buddha

 

Posted in awareness, Choices, Life Mastery, Thought Patterns, Way of Being | 5 Comments

The ONLY way to fulfillment

Massage tables are difficult to climb onto, aren’t they?6790337465_804c467321_m

I made myself comfortable on the shaky bed, and waited restlessly for the massage to begin.

As the masseuse rustled around softly, I smelled the heady aroma of essential oils.

This is going to be good, I thought. I need this. It’s been  tough few months and I’m so stressed. That issue with my client left me depleted. The disconnect between ….

And so off my mind went, visiting all the stresses and problems, turning them over, analysing, obsessing and resolving.

The masseuse did her job very well. I think.

I did not do mine so well.

Later, when I looked back on the experience, (analysing once more!) I realised that I was not present in that massage. I was not focussing on the physical sensations. I was not allowing the experience to infuse my senses.

You may be asking, what does this have to do with fulfilment?

The ONLY way to experience fulfilment is to be present in the moment – good or bad.

Let’s take your work for example.

Lack of fulfilment comes from lack of presence at work, not the work itself.

Your mind makes a judgement about how your work should be.

Your work is not how you believe it should be. Your mind resists your work because it does not fit in with your belief about work.

You start fantasizing about another job. You focus on what your job lacks, and how you hate it.

You are not present to your task. You experience feelings of lack, unhappiness and resentment.

These feelings are the consequences of your belief.

Become present to the task, even if you don’t like it and your feelings will hover around peace and contentment. Focus 100% in the task at hand. Give your best to what you are doing in the present moment.

This is the ONLY way to fulfilment.

Don’t focus on your opinion of the task you are doing. Rather focus on the task itself.

The more you do this, the more often you will experience a state of fulfilment.

My opinion was that I needed that massage. I focussed on why I needed that massage and off my mind went. I missed the massage.

I am having another massage today. I have no intention of missing this one.

Do this: Choose one task every day that you will focus on 100% and put everything you’ve got into that task. Record your feelings and experiences in your journal every day. The following week, focus 100% on two tasks, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Share your experiences here in the comments or email Kirsten@coach4life.co.za.

 It  is not in the pursuit of happiness that we find fulfilment,

it is in the  happiness of pursuit.

Denis Waitley

Picture From Flickr

Posted in Life Mastery, Thought Patterns, Way of Being | 2 Comments

The One gift to Give Yourself in 2014

Time For ChangePerhaps you have a deep yearning for a more meaningful and fulfilled life.

When life gets busy, work is hectic, responsibilities are huge, you may often feel an emptiness inside and yet you are able to carry on regardless.

The danger is this is exactly how people end up on their deathbeds regretting that they did not make more of their lives.

In the last blog post, I spoke about what fulfilment is NOT.

Today, let’s look at how to begin the shift towards a more fulfilled life.

First Step:  Give yourself the gift of self-reflection.

There is no way you can become more fulfilled if you do not make the time to get to know yourself. After all, how will you know what kinds of experiences and activities fulfil you?

If everyone knew this, fulfilment would not be an issue in so many lives.

Will you commit to doing this?

If YES, read on…

Here is an exercise to start you on the journey.

In this exercise you will access the wisdom of your future self.

PART 1: Create some time where you can work by yourself without interruptions. Become calm and relaxed. You may want to meditate or listen to peaceful music, perhaps even light a candle. You need to be able to write.

Imagine that it is 20 years from now. Your Future Self is living a meaningful and fulfilled life. This person is satisfied and happy and deals effectively with the issues that life presents. Your Future Self has been on a twenty year journey – an awesome and successful journey. He/she has learnt much, does not worry about what others think, lives intentionally and authentically.

When you have a good sense of your Future Self, write a letter to him/ her. (You may even give them a name.) Tell your future self about where you are in life (your Present Self), the difficulties you are having and what it is that you want. Ask questions.

Write until you feel complete.

Take a break for a few days.

Part 2: Prepare yourself as you did in Part 1 – becoming calm and relaxed and getting  good sense of your future self.

Now imagine that you are your Future Self and reply to the letter your Present Self wrote. If you can, write in a different colour, and even with your other hand. Don’t think to hard. Just write whatever comes to mind. Comment on what your Present Self had to say and answer all the questions.

Take a break for a few days.

Part 3: As before, become calm and relaxed. Read the response from your Future Self. Write a list of actions to take. Commit to doing them.

Repeat this exercise every few months.

Hope you will join me on a journey to fulfilment in 2014!

It is not in the pursuit of happiness that we find fulfilment,

it is in the happiness of pursuit.

Denis Waitley

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Fulfillment, Life Mastery, Visualizing | 1 Comment

Avoid these misunderstandings about living a meaningful life.

self-esteemthumbsup-main_FullClients come to see me with specific goals in mind: I want to get promoted OR I want to improve my relationships OR I want to find a partner OR I want to manage my finances better OR I want to be happier etc…

That’s what I call their immediate goal.

99% of the time there is an underlying desire which is much harder to articulate. This desire comes from a deep yearning to live a more valuable life, a more meaningful life and a more fulfilled life.

Understanding that you want to live a more fulfilled life in one thing, but living it is another!

This is because there are some common misunderstandings about living a meaningful and fulfilled life.

One misunderstanding is that

living a more fulfilled life

is about having more.

This comes directly from the language we use when we describe the situation: I want to have a more fulfilled life. It also has to do with the word ‘full’. To get full you have to have more to eat!

If you assess your life by looking at the gap between what you have and what you don’t have, then the goals you naturally work towards will be about filling the gap with things, tangible (like a promotion) or intangible (like a better marriage).  

These things, especially the tangible ones, result in fleeting satisfaction. Once you have those things, you will discover that the underlying yearning is still there.

Another misunderstanding is that

fulfilment equals feeling good.

Ellen, a woman I admire hugely, is a wonderful example. Ellen spends 4 mornings of 40 weeks every year running workshops in various prisons around Johannesburg.   These workshops rehabilitate inmates and teach them how to lead better lives. (see www.heartwork.co.za). When she is not in the prison, she is preparing for the workshops, negotiating with prison officials, raising funds, organising family days and graduation ceremonies for the workshops.

Don’t for one minute assume that Ellen feels good every day. She is often exhausted. She is often hugely frustrated with the red tape she deals with. Her heart breaks when one of her participants gets unfairly treated or abused in some way. She experiences a variety of emotions, some good, some not so good, as she goes about her life’s work.

While Ellen does not feel good every day, she certainly feels fulfilled.

This is the paradox of fulfilment.

You can experience inner peace while fighting  an outer struggle.

Leading a meaningful and fulfilled life is about:

  • Fully expressing who you are by doing what is right for you
  • Making choices
  •  Feeling significant
  • A life of purpose and satisfaction.
  • Living authentically according to your values.
  • Being the person you were meant to be

You’re probably thinking –

this is great, but how do I get there?

Watch out for my next blog post- I’ll give you some pointers and exercises to start you on your journey.

“To be what we are, 

and to become what we are capable of becoming,

is the only end of life.”

 Robert Louis Stevenson

Posted in Fulfillment, Goal-setting, Life Mastery | 8 Comments

Madiba, Rest In Peace

imageNelson Mandela 1918 – 2013

The memorial service for Nelson Mandela took place yesterday. Many fitting and memorable moments of the day will help us to revere Mandela as the great man he was.

 In August 2007 my family and I proudly watched the unveiling of the statue of Nelson Mandela in Parliament Square in London. I remember the excitement of the crowd and the pride we felt  as Madiba came onto the stage. He looked frail even then, and yet lived for many more years.

I know it’s probably a pipe dream, but imagine if every South African citizen ( or even some of them) endeavoured to adopt some of Madiba’s character traits?  South Africa has the potential to be an awesome and amazing country and I believe this is one way we could do it.

Which character traits do you choose to bring more of into your life?

  • Humility: Nelson Mandela always carried a modest outlook of his own importance.
  • Wisdom: Mandela shows a capacity for reason and logic as well as deep insight into the struggles of humanity
  • Forgiveness: One of the most prolific memories of Nelson Mandela is that he bore no grudges and displayed forgiveness for apartheid when most others would have wallowed  in bitterness. In his words: ” “But if I continued to hate them, they would have still had me.”
  • Authenticity: Nelson lived his life according to strong beliefs. He displayed the courage to do what he believed was right not what was popular and so rose to greatness.
  • Desire to make a difference: Nelson Mandela lived his life with purpose and that was to make the world a better place. He was instrumental in setting South Africa on the path to a free society.
  • Perseverance: Madiba never gave up. He continued working towards his ideals through many trials and tribulations. Thank goodness he never have up. If you persevere you will attain your goals.
  • Dignity: Dignity and grace is how we will remember Mandela living his life. At the same time he was self-assured and commanding. He was an exemplary human being.

Nelson Mandela was far more than the character traits I have mentioned. We are blessed to have had such a great and humble man lead our country out of apartheid into democracy.

If you are committed to bringing more Madiba Magic into your life, choose a quality of Mandela’s (you may have one that is not on my list) to work with. Start each day with a quiet moment. Contemplate or meditate on how your life would be if you demonstrated more of that quality each day. Set the intention to do that all day. Then go out there and make a difference.

What counts in life is not the mere fact

that we have lived.

It is what difference we have made

to the lives of others

that will determine

the significance of the life we lead.”

Nelson Mandela

 

 

Posted in Life Mastery, Make a difference, Motivation, Thought Patterns | 5 Comments

Lessons from a dog fight

8328072045_96c3a6e32a_nThe gate bell rang.I immediately panicked.

“I hope that’s not a client I didn’t know about”

I certainly wasn’t ready to see a client – dressed in gym clothes and no make-up.

I answered. Nope. Thank goodness. Two lost dogs were running in the street.

A Good Samaritan had rung the bell to check if they were my dogs.

“Sorry “, I said, “no idea where they come from.”

Half an hour later the gate bell rang again. No panic this time. I knew it was my friend Cathy. We had planned to go for a walk.

Astro, our Jack Russell bounced like a Jack in the Box when he saw Cathy. We battled to hold him down to get his lead around his head. Going for a walk for Astro is like me getting on a plane to a favourite destination – beyond exciting.

Cathy and I headed out to the street. The gate closed behind us.

I noticed two dogs a few metres down the road. They were big, huge in fact – especially compared to my little bouncing dog.

As we headed down the road, the two dogs trotted towards us, tails wagging. They got close to us.

I planned to let them sniff Astro, but Cathy, who obviously had a better sense of dogs than I do, tried to stand between them and Astro.

Suddenly, the bigger of the two dogs sneaked quickly around me and grabbed Astro by the scruff of his neck. The aggressor’s jaws literally closed over Astros neck who yelped incessantly.

I was paralysed.

Cathy yelled at me. “Kick him in the chest.”

The two of us kicked and kicked. The attacking dog was like a ton of bricks and didn’t flinch.

I looked round, desperately, for someone to help us. The street was dead quiet – no person, no car in sight.

Cathy, the self-appointed director of operations, told me to kick his side. So we moved around and kicked some more.

Eventually Cathy started hitting him on his head and eyes.I followed suit.

After, what felt like an eternity, the dog let go.

I picked Astro up and ran back to the house, closing the gate behind me. Cathy chased the two dogs off.

I nervously examined Astro, who was shaking like a leaf. Not too much blood. No deep wounds. Phew.

Cathy and I were out of breath, hearts going like crazy. It was over. We had survived. My dog had survived. Even the enemy had survived!

As friends do, especially woman friends, we have unpacked the situation often. We’ve discussed what went wrong, what we could have/ should have done and what to do differently next time.

Naturaly , there are some life lessons to be learnt from the dog fight!

  • In moments of crisis, a leader will emerge – in this case Cathy. This is good. If you are not the leader, follow. It doesn’t matter who leads, it doesnt matter who follows – as long as someone does. Years ago when I was involved in an armed robbery, I took the lead, my domestic worker followed. We survived then too.
  • In moments of crisis, a team will form. Team work is crucial. Imagine if I had been telling Cathy what to do, and she has been telling me what to do? Cathy taking the lead, and me following allowed the two us to work as a team, and to come out strong. Together we overcame.
  • Sometimes you are unprepared for life. That’s OK. You can’t be prepared for absolutely everything. It’s more important to learn from your experience so you can be prepared next time. I now walk with a pepper spray – whether I am with friends or on my own. It’ll work for a dog fight or a criminal! There’s a good chance I’ll never use it. That’s OK too.
  • Any crisis is made better with a friend by your side. Friends are so important. We share experiences. We bond. We learn. Life is always better with a friend by your side.
  • Trust your instincts in times of crisis especially when there is no time to analyse and decide. Your instincts will serve you well.

Cathy and I have walked often since the dog attack. Although we have moved on and don’t talk about it anymore, the memory and the lessons live on.

Life is under no obligation to give us what we expect.

Margaret Mitchell

 

Image from flickr

Posted in Life Mastery, Managing Stress, Relationships | 3 Comments

A colourless citizen

I am a Colourless Citizen born on 20/08/1963

A Guest Post by David Fincham6097007477_3783b04a0b_n

I live in a Rainbow Nation. I go unnoticed. I am a Colourless Citizen. I was not born into a colourless World. I am not a Colourless Citizen because I was born blind!

I am a Colourless Citizen because my eyes are open. They were opened by living……………….

My eyes were opened slowly and sometimes painfully. They saw that in the world of colour, so many things are colourless. And only people need to give things colours, labels really. They do this to communicate, to understand, to justify.

What are the colours, we see, we use and we define things by?

 Colours tell us so much and yet :

  • Poverty knows no colour!
  • Being Homeless knows no colour!
  • Injustice knows no colour!
  • Destruction of the environment knows no colour!
  • Cancer knows no colour!

Our blood is the same colour!

Yet each of the things we label is filled with colour!

Love has many colours. Faith has bright colours. Hope has warm colours. Trust has solid colours.

Colours we choose can be negative.

These colours make it easy for us defend our prejudices’, to excuse our attitudes, our behaviour, the lives we lead, the choices we have made. These colours affect all citizens exactly the same! Negatively!

Even those of us who choose to be Colourless

Colours also affect us positively!

We do not have the right to choose to be Colourless Citizens but we can learn and live as Colourless Citizens.

What Colours do you wish to live your life by? What Colours make up your World?

How do the colours you choose affect who you are? How do they define you?

Do they limit your vision, your judgement, your choices, your behaviour, your potential or your relationships?

Learn every day to live in a Colourless World as A Colourless Citizen and you will see a brighter perspective, new opportunities and a better World.

The colours will blend and be blurry at times. This is called life!

Choose your pallet of colours wisely, colour your World brightly, use your brush strokes boldly, paint over the mistakes, change your picture daily, use the whole canvas, for this is what will define you.

No one has the right to tell what colours to use, where to draw the lines or to even use lines.  Only you know what pictures you can paint, what stories they will tell, how they affect your life and the lives of those, who are interested enough and love you enough to actually care.

For the rest Black, White, Coloured or Colourless who cares about them? They don’t see your Colourless World.

Now for the important stuff!

Thank you all for being here today to share this celebration with me.  You are here because you have each added colour to my life.

And for each and every one of you, know that your colours have influenced my life, my being, my friendship, my character, my soul.

May you all continue to share your colours, enrich your palettes.

And remember to live as Colourless Citizens!

The true worth of a man is not to be found in man himself, but in the colours and textures that come alive in others.

Albert Schweitzer

Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/albertschw164214.html#K75Su2GUMMuQX9C1.99

The true worth of a man is not to be found in man himself,

but in the colours and textures that come alive in others.

Albert Schweitzer

 

Photo from Flickr: http://tinyurl.com/p9jtdkh
Posted in Life Mastery, Make a difference, Relationships | Comments Off