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Mindfulness Ramblings Work

When do we make out time to pause?

There are some posts you read on the internet that make you pause. One of them is from 8fit’s Coach Emily McLaughlin. Emily shared this on her Instagram page, and I have been thinking a lot about it.

“We aren’t here just to go through the motions or simply get physical. We are here to feel.”

Emily, Head Coach at 8fit

It made me wonder what the next step would be when we finally get what we want. What follows then? Do we stop chasing after sunsets or money or love or whatever it is that we have built our purpose around? Or do we find something else to chase then? 

T. S Elliot once said, “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started, and know the place for the first time.”

In this same regard, Lee Ann wrote: “We will never reach a point in life where we will have everything we have ever desired. The whole point of life is the launching of new desires and then aligning with those desires.”

Following from the two thinkers I quoted, If we do not get to a time when we would have it all, then, I hope we remember to make time to pause?

Pause –  the act of suspending activity temporarily.

thefreedictionary.com

Emily’s post made me reflect on the act of pausing. We do too much in the pursuit of our purpose. To make sense of this world, we are nurses, teachers, project managers, digital marketers, CEOs, venture capitalists, engineers, writers, etc. We have many interests, but sometimes our passions might not be our job, yet we need money, and in search of how to make ends meet, we dabble in many things and forget to make out time to stop momentarily.

Do you ever feel like you are living a monotonous life? You wake up with your alarm, rush to the bath, eat breakfast, go to work, get stuck in traffic, eat dinner, open social media, go to bed, repeat.

If you are anything like me, you do.

I will rephrase for those who work from home. Your alarm startles you, and you remember you have a meeting for 9:10 am. You rush to the bath, brush your teeth, run to the kitchen to fix coffee, open your laptop and join your call. You might not get to leave your house for the whole day, so you order in lunch and eat it at your desk. Work is over, you close your laptop, check-in on social media, watch Netflix, go to bed, and repeat.

When do we make time to pause?

Are we going through the motions, simply because? Do we go on and on even when getting on might not make much sense?

Life is difficult. We want what we do not have, and we go to work for it. Then, we have what we had been searching for, and we still keep the chase. It can be hectic to just get by the day, so when it gets to moments like this, remember to pause. 

When you are feeling very overwhelmed, and you feel the need to drag through to complete your day, stop everything you are doing and do something different.

This week, I woke up twice in a row without feeling like doing my morning exercises.

Monday passed by, and I tried to work out, but I could not bring myself to. 

Tuesday came, yet I was still too weak to do anything. Going to work in such state would have sucked, so I left everything I was doing and pulled my body outside, with my headphones, I went for a ride on my bicycle, and I rode the most challenging ride ever on a path I had never ridden before. It was tiring, but I felt sore and better after cycling. I was ready to work when I came back.

Sometimes, all we need to break the monotony is a change of events. If you feel like you are doing the same thing over again, try to do something different. If you are used to sitting in a particular place at a restaurant, sit somewhere else. Go on a different pathway if you have a specific path you love to take. Modify your routine, take a break, and most importantly, do not forget to breathe.

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Becoming Failing well Mindfulness

A failing well series #1: Running

I will start by telling the story of how I started running – a sport I detested with all my might, how I have come to see myself as an athlete, and how I have grown to enjoy and see running as a beautiful sport. I will start with a running story because Abi Booth’s running story was what inspired me to start this series.

The Fear

When it came to exercise, I was a scaredy-cat. I thought exercise was for a particular set of people – that some people came with an innate desire to want to stretch, while some were not.

I had this mindset in secondary school during Physical education (PE) classes. PE was compulsory, and it also served as a punishment for latecomers and delinquents. Instructors asked offenders to run around the school field many times — an activity that left one breathless and gasping for air. I knew many people who fainted on the playground, and I knew people who came out tops — this further implanted the idea in my mind that exercise was for a selected few. My school chose the ones who did well to represent the school, but I did not come close to coming first, and I did not even come last. I was part of those who stumbled on the way. I did not understand why they made you do PE in school. What was I going to do with it?

The beginning — A little story about my grandmother and how her death moved me to run

My grandmother’s illness started in 2015. I remember coming home from my final exams in school to meet her sick. I remember the scary feeling that things were not going to remain the same. Grandma was present, but oblivious to what was happening around her. She did not know when I came in until someone told her, ‘Look, mama, It’s Ify. She’s here.’ And she smiled. A smile she has always reserved for me, her first grandchild. I asked what was wrong, but she could not make a clear sentence. It did not make any sense to me how someone’s body could, all at once, start failing them. 

From there, it led to many trips to the hospital, to her not being able to make coherent sentences, and to us having to feed her. She stopped walking, and we got her a wheelchair.

I don’t know what happened to my grandmother, but I remember a strong woman who instilled values and discipline in her grandchildren. I remember a hardworking woman who started taking care of my siblings and me when my mother died in 2008. My grandmother resumed parenting again when she was supposed to be retiring, and this meant she started worrying over what we were going to eat, how we were going to go to school. It was hard work 201. She went from a hale and hearty person to an invalid. She could not walk to the toilet or bathe herself, and she could not feed herself. If the grandmother that I knew could see herself in that state, she would have thrown a fit.

The last time I saw my grandma was in December 2020, when I visited her in a hospital in Ogun state. She had become a complete ghost of herself. She’d developed a brain stroke two nights before, and was plugged to a support machine. She could not tell it was me. 

On March 2, on my way to the grocery store, I received an SMS from my little cousin that announced my grandmama’s death.

I had many questions – How could someone suffer this much for so long? What was the purpose of the human body? Where did things go wrong? Would I suddenly fall ill too?

How I started working out

“Our bodies were made to move.”

“Globally, around 31% of adults aged 15 and over were insufficiently active in 2008 (men 28% and women 34%). Approximately 3.2 million deaths each year are attributable to insufficient physical activity.”

WHO – Physical Inactivity: A Global Public Health Problem

I started exercising out of fear of what would happen to my body if it ever breaks down. I had a scare once when I tried reaching for something underneath a couch in my grandparents’ house, and I felt a cramp build up in my upper back. However, my grandmother’s death was what incited the fear in me and spurred me into action. 

The fact that I did not understand what happened to her made things worse. She did not live a sedentary lifestyle because she was the most hardworking person that I knew. She always had lots of stuff to do – If she was not going to the market, she was on the farm, and if you did not find her on the farm, she was attending her peer meeting. I have also wondered if she died as a result of extreme stress. Whatever it was, I decided to become more mindful of the things I did. I started meditating, and I started running.

An attempt at running: The first try, my next run, and the lessons

I did not make it up to 3 yards on my first run before I started panting.

There were days when I would get tired and could not make it to the distance that I wanted, and there were days when I would end up in my running gear without going for a run. I’d love to get to a point where I can comfortably run three times a week. The last time I ran was yesterday, and before that, was my run on Friday. However, I believe I am making good progress.

I love going on the guided runs on Nike Run Club (NRC) with Coach Bennett.

One thing I have learnt from running with Coach Bennett is understanding that it is okay to run at a feel-good pace. He says, ‘Every run has a purpose.’ It is better to run for a shorter distance than aim for a higher one and end up feeling disappointed. ‘End the run wanting to run more,’ he says. The first run is all about wanting to do the next run.’ It does not matter how many times you go on the first run or the next run as long as you run at a comfortable pace.

Another thing I have learnt from Coach B is that it is crucial to always listen to our body. Our bodies are always telling us something, and we have to pay attention to be able to hear it. Running is fun as long as we make it fun. If your body wants a 1-minute run, take it for a minute run. If it wants to rest, let it rest. I always run solo because it helps me focus on my training and what I want out of the run. I am not sure I can run with other people, but I am willing to give it a try. 

The road to orange level

As a new runner, I would recommend Nike Run Club, as it is what has helped to build my confidence and get comfortable running. I am not sure I would be writing this if I had not given NRC a try. 

When I run, I feel the need to move. Sometimes, I don’t understand if I am running from something or towards something, but I feel my adrenaline pumping and pushing my body forward, and this beautiful feeling is what inspires me to keep running – understanding that I can get my body to move. 

Every time I go for a run, I keep learning new things about this sport, and I am always amazed at the things my body can do. There is so much to learn about my body, and I am here for all of it. I am glad I took the initiative to start running, and I am also happy that I overcame my fear.

Categories
Becoming Failing well Mindfulness

A failing well series: Intro.

The best of us is not trying to be perfect but to know that it is okay to accept the lessons as they come to us, especially when they do not come on our terms.

Alexei Orlov on Failing Well

I am joining Abi Booth in his ‘failing well’ series, a series he started, to expose himself to what it means to fail. I will be sharing stories of how I intentionally participated in stuff that I wasn’t good at, my experiences, and my lessons from failing. This exercise would help me get to know me better, and also help me understand my reactions to ‘failing.’

What does failing well mean?

Failing well means intentionally using every stumble you encounter on your path as a component towards learning. In failing well, you celebrate your mistakes, and you look into your struggles, pick up understanding and knowledge, and you come out a better person. 

I remember how I had cried my eyes out when things had not gone according to plan at work. This experience, among many others, has taught me how very intense and passionate I can be with what I do, and how having anything less than perfection had seemed like failing to me. 

I keep teaching myself that I don’t have to be perfect here, hence, with this exercise, I want to mindfully throw myself into the deep end and explore things that I am not comfortable with doing. I will go to places that I haven’t let myself go to, and I will learn how well I can handle mistakes and how I’d react to letdowns and stumbles down the road. This will be very intentional as I am going to be writing all about my experiences doing these things in my part of the ‘failing well’ series. You can join in and tag me when you do!

Here’s to having fears and conquering them. Here’s to failing well. 🍷

Categories
Mindfulness Money Work

How to practice mindful spending with Google sheets

Until I started mindful spending, I didn’t understand what made me so apprehensive before salary day. Salary day was a day I always waited earnestly for because I’d spent everything from my previous salary, and a day I would later come to dread because I would spend all my monthly income trying to balance the past month’s debts. Later on, I’d try to improve on my spending, but it still didn’t matter because I wasn’t spending effectively.

Before I started mindful spending, I tried to remind myself of how much I needed to spend and how much I needed to save. The mind forgets, which is why we need reminders in our daily living. I drew up a plan that I visit every time to remind myself of the reason I started in the first place. A solid plan should be repeatable, organized, and agile.

What is Mindful Spending?

Mindful spending is being intentional about the way you spend your money and how your spending supports your goals. Satisfied Spending calls it lifestyle-based money management.

It is creating healthy spending habits that take you closer to your goals, instead of having your blood pressure rise when you think about what you’ve just purchased.

When you start spending mindfully, it becomes a part of who you are. You start asking yourself questions like these before moving money out of your account:

  1. Is this item in my shopping list?
  2. What is my reason for wanting to spend this money?
  3. What do I intend to achieve by saving this amount of money?
  4. Does making this purchase support my goals and needs? 
  5. How do I intend to achieve my spending goal?

I’ve come to understand that many people are not comfortable with engaging in money conversation. However, it’s okay to own up to the fact that our spending habit sucks. Every other thing follows from here.

I started mindful spending with Google Sheets. Google Sheets has a budget template that I customized to my preference. With the 50/30/20 rule, I created a planning sheet that helped me organize my spending into different categories. 

50/30/20 Rule of Spending/ Saving Mindfully - Winged Time Traveller
50/30/20 Rule of Spending/ Saving Mindfully

The 50/30/20 budget rule states that:

  • 50% of your net income should go to your Needs, e.g. Fixed expenses such as rent, work transportation, health, bills, and utilities.
  • 30% of your net income should go to your Wants, e.g. Lifestyle or flexible expenses such as food, travel, shopping, and even black tax, etc.
  • 20% of your income should go to your Financial Goals, which includes all kinds of savings and investments.

The 50/30/20 rule is ideal for me because it’s helped me with simplifying and organizing my finances. With the planning sheet, I was able to see how much I needed for what, and how much I should be saving.

I have prepared a monthly budget template for August that you may want to customize to your preference. Start with the Mindful Spending Worksheet before proceeding to the monthly budget template. On both documents, click on ‘file’ to make a copy.

Download your monthly budget template now

Confronting Black Tax with Mindful Spending

In simple words, black tax is the tax every first child pays for being born.

As the first child of my family and the first grandchild on one side, I understand the responsibilities expected of me. Thinking about these responsibilities can be very overwhelming as you receive a text sometime in the middle of the month asking for money. You have a job, so nobody wants to hear you don’t have money. And heavens save you if they have an inkling of your monthly income. It’s okay to say you don’t have, but what about next month, and the upper month?

What I did was allocate some money for black tax under my ‘wants purchases.’ And in case the need is more than I budgeted, I wouldn’t do otherwise because I don’t have anywhere to unearth the money from, do I?

How do you measure what works with the monthly budget template?

As you spend and save, make every change in the sheet. At the end of the month, check back to see how much you’ve spent in the month. It’s okay if you spent more than you budgeted. The key is to take small mindful steps which in turn makes a big difference.

Make a copy of the sheet for next month with adjustment to your spendings. For example, if you budgeted N40,000 for food and you spent more than the amount you budgeted, adjust the expense for next month to the amount you spent this month and follow from there.

If you spent below the amount you budgeted, make the same changes.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. Please fill out this 1 minute survey if you downloaded the monthly budget sheet. I’d love to follow up with you to make sure you find the budget template helpful. Don’t forget to follow my blog so that you don’t miss any blog posts from me. Also, remember to share with that friend who needs this most. Thank you.

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Mindfulness

This is how Mindfulness is Helping Me Find Peace

“Small things — if not corrected — become big things, always.”

Benjamin Hardy

Some few months ago, I wrote in my notebook, ‘I want more understanding of what I want to do with my life.’ I had been battling with procrastination, a feeling of emptiness, and I wanted to be able to hold myself accountable for all of the things that were happening in my life.

I wanted clarity. I wanted to be more intentional with myself.

I started my first mindfulness journey in December 2019 by deciding to become more present with the way I was spending my money. 

I was not necessarily a reckless spender, but I didn’t understand what mindful spending was. I wasn’t paying attention to how I was spending my money or where my money was going, and this made me incredibly sad. I always looked forward to saving a good percentage of my money as I entered a new month, but when the new month came, after saving on Cowrywise and Piggyvest, I’d ask myself the question, ‘Where did all my money go?’

I started tracking my expenses. Google Sheets has an awesome budget template that I customized to my preference. When I found out that I could do this with Google Sheets, planning my money and expenses became easy. I didn’t need to enter my bank data on some app. It felt like I designed the app myself, and I could do the rest of my budgeting on the go while entering the expenses I’d just made at a Grocery store.

But that was not all. As this aspect of my life became better, I felt I could do anything I wanted. My budgeting wasn’t perfect, there were times I’d fail to enter a record, but then, I’d recover myself, sit at my desk, and go over the sheet until I’d added all entries. It’s not easy to break a habit, but it felt good to be able to stay on top of my finances.

The next part of my life I started looking forward to improving was my health. I am not obese, but I became conscious of the fact that I was gradually losing control of my body, and that I needed to do something fast. It was in March 2020, and I’d just checked my weight. I felt mortified to learn that I weighed 73kg. I didn’t even know I could go that far, and I take all the blame. I hadn’t been doing much activity, given that my job didn’t require me to leave the comfort of my home. I work remotely, and I could decide to stay indoors for a year, working on my computer without needing to go outside. I sought the help of online services to do my shopping for me, and I only went out when there was a need for it. 

As a result, I decided to start a morning workout routine. I downloaded Nike Run Club and some two weeks after I’d summoned up courage, I made my first run. Breathless, and not making it to 50 meters, I walked back home. My second run was two days later and better, on a Saturday morning with Coach Bennett, who made it more comfortable for I ran the first 22 minutes without stopping. 

And that, my friends, is how I started my mindfulness journey. I’m sticking to a daily routine while measuring my progress. This morning I checked how much I weighed, and I got 67.2 on the scale. 

If there’s one thing mindfulness has taught me, it is identifying my top three priorities and focusing on them one after the other.

Today, I thought about journaling the little steps that I’m taking to finding peace, and here we are. This is my second blog post, and these are bits and pieces about me.