Brand New Beginnings

Brand New Beginnings

Date Like A Queen TB

 

Hello loves!  It’s been a minute, hasn’t it?  It’s April and you know what that means. RENEWAL and GROWTH!  My birth month always ignites something in me.  This month, I’m birthing new beginnings.  My main focus is expressing gratitude on a daily basis and shedding complaints.

One of the reasons I haven’t been as active on this blog is that I’ve been engrossed with my work as a matchmaker at Tawkify.  It’s been an amazing experience connecting people to their higher joy on a daily basis.  I’m combining my observations as a matchmaker and love coach in a new column at Tribe Called Curl called “Date Like A Queen”.  Check out my first article about the ground rules for you regal journey.  As always, I am grateful to have you on this journey with me!

Back to Bikram

I think it’s time. Don’t you? Time to recalibrate and reconnect. What better way to do that than a vigorous Bikram yoga challenge?

Today I embarked on day 1 of a 30 day Bikram yoga challenge. It involves 30 days of taking 1 yoga class a day. That’s something I know I can easily do. I’ve done about 6 of them so far.

In all my challenges, I only did classes every day for 30 days straight during my first month of practice.  Actually I did 31 classes in 30 days because because I did class twice on one of those days.  Subsequently in my challenges, I have compressed 30 classes into 15 or 16 days.  I love doubles.  Going to just 1 class a day for a consecutive 30 days is definitely challenging considering my frenetic New York City schedule.

The real challenge though is to see if I can take on Bikram 101 and take class every day for 101 days!  The Bikram 101 blog explains it best:

Why 101 consecutive days?

There are different “challenge lengths” in Bikram yoga. Here is a break out of how each one helps and heals your body…

  • 30-Days: A readjustment period… You’re getting your body primed for an on-going practice. Just getting through a 30 consecutive day challenge is a difficult for most people. It can be difficult to mentally commit yourself to going to class for 30 consecutive days.
  • 60-Days: In the 60-day challenge, the second 30 days are where you get to the “emotional stuff.” While you experience the mental exhaustion “here and there” in the first set of 30 days, you experience it far more frequently in the second set. Anger. Tears. Hysterical laughter. It all comes out here… Both in and out of class.
  • 90-Days: This is when your body suddenly (or so people claim) changes shape. You will notice in the 30 and 60-day challenges that muscles and body parts tighten up. But the third set of 30 is when you start to see the yoga practice pay off physically in your body. You’ve been feeling it up until this point… But now you can actually see it. You can see your “yoga bum” starting to take shape.
  • 100-Days: Ten extra days, just to make things a nice big number…
  • 101-Days: Because you just have to show up for one extra day.

Day 1

I’ve set my sights on a new studio closer to home.  Although I’ve only been there just one day, I’m really enjoying Bikram Yoga East Harlem.  I took class with one of the sister duo who owns the studio, Stephanie Pope Caffey, and it was lovely.  She has an amazing, nurturing, challenging energy.  Her suggestions around standing head to knee might just be the difference between barely making it through the posture and actually powering my through it.

Today’s class was great although I had a few bouts of lightheadedness simply because I’m reconditioning myself after almost a year away from consistent practice.  It wore me out but walking out of there, I felt wonderful.  See you BYEH tomorrow!  Here’s to 30 days and then 71 more!  Let’s see how it goes!

Results, Not Resolutions…Again

Stop hoping, take the shot!Every year, at the close of the year, it seems like the world (or maybe just NYC) goes into a frenzy about where to drunkenly herald in the new year and  higher-minded souls dream up resolutions to make the ensuing year great.  And every year, at that time, I laugh in the face of those resolutions and tell the new year to hurry up and come on because we have some work and lots of fun to do.

I do not subscribe to the impotent resolutions culture.  The very action of coming up with a number of lofty things I will and will not do for the coming year neither inspires me nor does it give me what I truly need: RESULTS.

I should get it printed on a t-shirt, “Results, Not Resolutions”.  But before I go there, I’d like to ask you, after waiting deliberately two days into the new year, what of your resolutions at the turn of the previous year?  Do you remember them?  Did you keep them?  And what was the reward?

Resolutions have no steam because they spring from compensating for our failures in the year or years before.  “This year, I’m finally going to stop (or start) doing that thing that I need to stop (or start) doing…I hope”.  They, like so many other Jedi mindtricks we play on ourselves, convince us that we are somehow in action when all we are really doing is contemplating action but never taking it.

I believe that the secret to phenomenal success and happiness is simply, action–ANY action.  At least any action in the direction of what we say we want.  That action breaks down the inaction that not only robs us of our belief in transformation but validates our lack of trust and belief in ourselves as capable change agents.

This year, I invite you to take a look at your resolutions and ask yourself how will you know they’ve been accomplished.  How about transforming those resolutions into actions that will culminate in satisfying results?  Take those resolutions and make them goals.  Go even farther and make them S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely) goals.   Turning your resolutions into SMART goals gives them a chance of surviving in reality, moving them from the plane of hope onto a plane of actualization.

When you add a “by when,” resolutions emerge from the undefined, unattainable goop of wishful thinking into actual possibility.  Aid yourself in making these goals reality with the exercise of reverse timelining.  Fast forward to the date/moment you have set to achieve the goal and work your way back to the present with events that make each following event inevitable.

For instance, if my goal were to get married in a year, I would visualize myself a year from now getting married.  Then I would look at what would have had to happen the month or a few months before to make that event inevitable.  I would say, the month before, all except a few last-minute wedding preparations were complete.  Then I would go to that event and look at what would make it inevitable.  I’d go back event by event, looking at what would make the next one inevitable.  Somewhere in there would be the proposal and telling the parents.  Before that would be the wonderful vacation together.  Before that would be dating each other exclusively and before that would be narrowing the dating field to three candidates.

I would jump all the way to realizing my goal and work my way back to today.  In the example above, I would look to see what I would have to do this week to create a dating field that I would eventually narrow and create an action to make this inevitable.  That would look like joining an online dating site by Thursday.  When you’re done reverse timelining, you will have a string of actions to take that will lead to the inevitable achievement of your goal or at least a great adventure in learning and adjusting your approach!

If you have questions about this process ask me in the comments, read more about reverse engineering your future here and goal setting here and get started on a phenomenal new year!  This year is set to be a great one.  If you don’t believe me, check out the Chinese zodiac, it’s the year of the Dragon, the most lucky of all years.  There are scores more “signs” of the impending greatness of 2012, so go get results and make your dreams come true this year.  Good luck! You have nothing to lose…except resolutions!

Secret’s Out

So the big open secret of Tessism.com is that I’m a bit addicted to 30-day challenges. It is in that spirit that I’m committing to a 30-day challenge every month or every other month!

I reviewed last year’s November challenge with flashbacks at Random Tessism and came to the realization (again) that reserving challenges to once a year in November is not sufficient. Squeezing personal growth challenges into one month does not do them justice. Many of last year’s daily challenges deserve an entire month, if not lifetime, for their honing.

I have always done 30-day Bikram yoga challenges, taking 30 classes in 30 days. It’s time to apply those challenges to other areas of my life and see if I can incorporate them into my lifestyle.

This month’s challenge is to do 30 days of Bikram yoga, walk an hour every day and complete 100 pushups and crunches a day. I took a break from the flurry of gratitude blogging that was 30 days of Tessism and now I’m off to another challenge.

So far the crunches have been great, the yoga challenging, the walks reflective and the pushups just plain hateful!

My walks have been magical especially when I take them under moonlight. I’ve been listening to music and sermons and they make the hour fly by.

I’m listening to audio of Bikram himself for my daily class and that’s been difficult since I cannot reproduce the same high temperature of the studio. I’m really focusing on improving my discipline and the postures little by little. I see some improvement already!

The crunches are a no-brainer. They are a challenge but I can power my through them…Now the pushups, I despise. The following articled helped me ensure I’m doing the pushups in proper form: Doing Perfect Pushups and Proper Push Up Form: How to do a Push Up. Thanks to them, I’ve made modifications that make the daily hundred manageable.

I started December 2 and will see what December 31 brings. It’s a nice way to power in the new year. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Gratitude Day 14


I bring great news and the source of much gratitude on Day 14 of 30 Days of Tessism, new life.

Gratitude:  Today, I am beyond grateful for yesterday’s safe delivery of my newest godson.  And like that, a new open, clear mind has entered the world and is ready to absorb everything that comes his way.  It’s quite interesting that on the 14th day of last November’s 30-day challenge, I took on adopting a beginner’s mind.

With the birth of every child, we have the opportunity to observe the beginner’s mind in action and how it interacts with everyone and everything around it.  We have a lot to learn from the newly born.  I am grateful that he is born.  I am grateful for the honor being his godmother.  I am grateful for all that he will show and teach me.

30 Days of Tessism

It’s that time of the year.  November is here and that means another 30-day challenge.  This time, I’m going all in with NaNoWriMo aka National Novel Writing Month:

a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing.  Participants begin writing on November 1.  The goal is to write a 50,000 word, (approximately 175 page) novel by 11:59:59, November 30.

I’ll be writing that novel…finally.

I’ll also continue to blog here, counting down all the things for which I’m grateful in this next to last month of the year.  On top of that, I’ve created a microblog where I will be sharing Random Tessism.  Expect tidbits from last year’s challenge and wherever I find them.  I hope you enjoy the ride.

I’ve got my lessons from last year, chunks of my novel, my #naijalife and a gratitude attitude to keep me going for the next 30 days.  Read along to keep up with me or join the fun and come up with your own challenge for the next month.

Here we go!

Gratitude:  I’m grateful for the privilege of sharing my life and these challenges with you, my community.

Where to now?

Before I came to Nigeria, I had lofty ideas about how I was going to approach “the new experience.”  2 months into my visit, those ideas have not come anywhere near the reality of my what I call my #naijalife all over my Twitter feed.

As per my last post, I did my best to hold my judgment at bay.  I have learned, by the way, that at best, I can work toward a momentary reprieve from harshly maligning things I don’t know, understand or accept.  At my weakest, I have been known to batter a new situation endlessly with disapproval.

In that regard, I’ve come to a tenuous agreement with my opinionated self during this trip: no snap judgments.  I allow myself to have opinions.  I just will not spew them instantaneously.  I observe.  I process.  I notice its effect on me.  Am I reacting to what I’m seeing in front of me or an unpleasant trigger based in the past?

It is for that reason that I’m just now beginning to blog 2 months later.  A good deal of what would have come out of me earlier would have been reaction-based and far from generous.

Let me begin from the beginning and see how far that gets us.

In which she discovers…

Something newIn those last heady days before I left the US for my 30-year overdue trip to Nigeria, I had no idea what to expect.  It really didn’t matter.  I was finally going!  The Nigeria I remembered–my best friend, red clay, playing kitchen–was through the eyes of a toddler and not enough guidance for the woman returning there.  There was what I barely remembered, things I’d read or been told and some things that I’d made up a long time ago about Nigeria.  Now was my chance to see for myself.

A few months ago, I came up with a model for dealing with new situations, particularly jobs, that I shared with a coworker newly introduced to the maelstrom our workplace.  I remember saying to her that very often, we go to new jobs with an idea that it shouldn’t be this or that way and that we, clearly, have the best sense of how things should be.

Should and shouldn’t are quite treacherous territories that usually leave us dissatisfied and distressed.  The model I created seeks to help us maneuver through the unknown while keeping the shoulds at bay.  It calls for us to put our relentless judgment aside and learn, master, improve, and innovate.

Learn

When facing the new, acknowledge that your presumptions and biases– your already knowing–are irrelevant.  You have never been here before .  You have never done this before.  You don’t know what to expect even if it reminds you of something you’ve already experienced.  Repeating the steps from the past gives you more…past.  Instead, observe the situation as much as you can.  Feel free to compare but don’t stop there.  Learn what there is for you to learn to be successful in that new job or to maneuver your way through that new location.  This is not time intensive and doesn’t require years of observation.  Learn quickly, competently and concisely so you can move on to the next step.

Master

Once you’ve been humble enough to discard your inner know-it-all (now THAT is difficult!), you get to see what really is happening in front of you.  You get to say, “Oh, this is how they do this.”  Eventually, you should be able to anticipate how something would be resolved at your new job, for instance, based on what you’ve learned about how they solve problems.  Now that you’ve learned, endeavor to master the ways of this new environment.  Can you do what this place requires in your sleep?  The aim of your learning is mastery.  Mastery is an important step before you take the situation and make it your own.

Improve

Now that you’ve entered this new situation, refrained from denouncing its stupidity and have gone so far as to master its existing ways, you allow for new tools to manifest: respect, authority, legitimacy.  You now have the opportunity to possess and wield these tools.  From this space, you can work to improve the situation.  You have established that you know how things go.  You’re very good at the status quo and suggestions for improvement hold far more weight from you now than if you’d done so at the very beginning.  Now you can propose, “Let’s do this in 4 steps instead of 10″ and actually be heard.  Your recommendations can now be based on your experience of and expertise in the existing system and come from a place of empathy rather than one of complaint and will be more easily heard.

Innovate

As you climb the hierarchy of legitimacy and authority in this new situation you can reach the apex of ownership of the new situation when you innovate.  You have acquired the knowledge of how things work.  You have gone so far as to be an expert on the what’s so of the situation.  You have seen and shared ways to make this situation better for everyone involved.  Finally, you can go so far suggest, “You know what?  Let’s stop doing this altogether and do this instead.  This isn’t simply improving what we normally do.  This is a whole new approach that eliminates the need for those steps and creates a satisfying result.”  In this instance, you do what you may have been tempted to do from the very beginning.  Your innovation is far more acceptable now because it is based on experience and participation rather than blind dismissal.

Test

The above model will always needs fine-tuning and that it’s a great rough guide to dealing with a decidedly alien new workplace.  Could I apply it Nigeria?  The challenge was to attempt to shed the ball of emotion and information about Nigeria I’d been clutching to all my life and experience it newly.  I would learn before I leapt to conclusions.  I would test myself to see if I could do more than survive following the existing rules of the place.  I would seek to master some portion of my Nigerian life in the few months I was there.  And only then, after observation and training, would I attempt to improve and eventually innovate.  Based on a true understanding of my surroundings, I could work to eliminate inefficiencies and enhance the experience of people around me.  Could I do it?  Did I do it?

Well I’m still in the middle of it.  What I can say though is that judgment is no light thing.  It is cemented to my being and is almost as automatic as breathing.  I have failed numerously at evading my sense of judgment.  It has been a great struggle to set aside what I already know and just simply watch and learn.  Yet the challenge here isn’t perfection.  It is the actual awareness of automatic, endless assessment that undermines my experience of life in general in whatever country I find myself.

So, yes, I fail often but I go right back to my model when I notice that I’m imposing some stale bias on a brand new situation.  I’ve learned much about myself, my family and my native country.  I’ve learned which battles are worth fighting and what is best left alone.  One of these days I’ll tell you about it!

Tessism Returns to Nigeria

In the 30 years since I had left Nigeria, I had grown to believe that the longer you stay away from the land of your birth, the more ghost-like you become.  With my father’s passing, I finally got the chance to test that theory.

Traveling back under those circumstances has been surreal.  I promised myself that I would keep my eyes wide open and my judgment at bay.  I have definitely kept my eyes open but I constantly fight a war of attrition with my judgment.   Thankfully, today, my higher self is winning.  That is, until, I run into something difficult to accept in the bubbling pepperpot of brilliance, corruption, wealth, destitution, mismanagement, delight, highs and lows that I call my homeland Nigeria. By the way, Happy 51st Independence Day, Nigeria.

It has been a marvelous, emotional roller coaster filled with food, people and places I’d forgotten I was missing and stories of an amazing life that I will never stop celebrating.  One thing Nigeria will always be is breathtaking.  It is breathtaking in its beauty, greenery and blessings.  In the same token, it can choke you with it’s pollution, greed and absolute disregard of legacy and humanity but I’ll save that for another blog.

So I am here.  Was my theory correct?  Am I less ghost-like now that I’ve returned to my land of birth?  Well, yes and no.

Being away simply left me incomplete.  Not quite a ghost–a woman-in-waiting missing parts the longer I stayed away.  I still have no idea what those parts were but it feels different.  Yet my years away are an essential part of the woman I am today, something I would not change.

I don’t expect to ever be complete in this life.  I am happy for the experiences that expose more of me to…me.

And although I’ve learned to chase regret away as quickly as it descends, I am saddened that I did not see my father before he left us.  I connect with him each day as I walk where he walked and sit where he sat.  I fill in the parts of his life I missed.  Some days he is more of a giant.  Others, more human.

He lived life long and fully and left peacefully.  For that I am forever grateful.

He is my Daddy.  My prism through which the light of life is reflected.  His love, energy and legacy remain.  Always with me.  Thank you for welcoming me home.

April is For…

With all the seriousness occurring in my life and the world around me, April and its silliness have come right on time.  Instead of worrying about the state of my soul, I can finally focus on what would otherwise be deemed frivolous.

This April’s focus is on Botox!  I’m reaching a milestone birthday in a few weeks and it’s high time I started worrying about mummifying my looks.  Do you have any suggestions?  I’m not a huge fan of needles so I’ve been looking for alternatives like egg-whites, tape, shellac. The egg’s been messy.  Tape doesn’t last and the shellac’s just too darn sticky.  I may have no other choice than to just get older…or preserve my youth with some April foolin’.  What do you think?

Yes, April Foolin’ is the way to go!

Did you get gotten today?  My faves were Gmail Motion, YouTube 1911, my yearly insanity at Fool.com (particularly their Wikileak Fool Fiasco) and ZDNet’s warning about Facebook and college admission (glad I already went before the advent of social media).  What were yours?  Read about more April Fool’s antics here.

You see April is for fooling and fun, a month always great from day one to my birthday and until its very last day. Enjoy!