Saturday, December 31, 2016

Rose tinted three decade old glasses

Leap years have last days, and today is the closing of an epic year 2016. The year was all sorts of things: a circus on steroids, a roller coaster, and at other times, it just coasted along on autopilot. The year was like the box of chocolates Forrest Gump talked about, and all in all, it had a strong character and brought about lessons that I won't forget in a hurry. I'm thankful that I got to ride this particular year out till the very last day. 

2016 was the year I turned thirty, a gift that came with its healthy share of existential crisis. Should it be called a crisis if one enjoys it? If I ever showed any traces, strong or subtle, of being a type A personality, I moved over to a solid B this year. As life would keep happening, the central theme was experience evaluation. Reflection. Stopping and smelling proverbial roses along the way appealed to my senses like never before. I redefined my focus, cut down on things that didn’t matter to me, practised yoga, mindfulness and heartfulness, stopped forcing things to work, started asking and paying attention to why they were not working smoothly. That didn’t mean I let my life take a back seat. I was still clear on my aspirations, and in fact that was the big difference. Clarity. Instead of running after every seemingly good idea, burning out and getting confused, I decluttered my life and reevaluated what was worth going after. FOMO was to be gone for good.

Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities. (Quote Fancy)
30 saw a struggle and eventual realization of an inherent cognitive dissonance: a self-seeking attribute was desperate for a certain kind of respect, wanting to be approved, validated in a light of admiration. Nothing wrong with that, only stripping off the layers showed what the real need was. 30 meant realizing misfocused priorities, and deciding to focus on being and sharing the light I already had/was. See the disconnect? Wanting to be seen as powerful, successful, intelligent vs. inspiring someone else to find their power, success, intelligence. I am already powerful, a success, and an intelligent woman. There was no need to prove to anyone else what I already am. One of the things I'm most proud of was leading Small Pictures in March, where I started teaching my Sunday school class to code. Also delighted that I’ve taught Sunday School for 15 months now, since I started in September of 2015. Ins and outs, yet still going by His grace. And I love those precious children. I have no doubt that they love me, they let me know just about every time.

30 meant realizing the nuances and correlation between a job and one's work, avocation and vocation. 2016 saw my longest ever streak at a job. While I appreciated the awards at work, it really indicated to me that my light was underutilized. I found myself been drawn more and more to children and women, understanding and advocating for our causes. I craved being occupied professionally with doing the things that truly mattered to me, as opposed to merely trading my labor for a paycheck that permitted a lifestyle that I might have dreamed of. I cared about who got my resources, and made to seek out organizations whose mission and values would complement mine, and of course compensated me for my worth. 

Health-wise, rounded w
ell-being was priority. I worked out every week at the gym, lost about 10 pounds over a period of eight months, while working on being fit and healthy, and did not stop. And for the most part, I ate well, and slept well at night. In matters of the heart, I moved away from being the disengaged participant who would observe events from a distant third-party perspective. In 2016, Love was urgent. It ended its terms of deferment, moved from the back burner and would surge in priority, forcing me to face the music and dance to the tune of rousing emotions. And there was a lot of music (and so much travel).

However, it wasn't all roses this year. There was death and disappointment, tears and thorns. Nevertheless there was beauty and birth, friendship and love, as seasons came full circle. My old walls fell into gentle ruins, and hidden emotions showed up. I put away my jaded lenses and embraced a softer perspective on life. Nothing that came my way broke me, it only humanized me. And when it did, I cried - more than I had in a long time. My tears flowed in people's arms, sometimes after sloppy rom-coms and comedy dramas, at gravesides, in dialogues over the phone, in my bed, car, office... I hope that no matter what life brings my way, it doesn’t leave me hard, cynical, ever again. I met up with love interests from the past at different times, and rewrote the stories for how the relationships ended. Ikire boy recently quit his job after 10 years and would be expecting his first child. Tom's career was kicking off and he had just made team lead. And then there was Bamz.

Deciding to be the linchpin in my family, and seeing that start to happen. Deciding that having my own biological children would neither matter nor be a priority for me, and that this decision would not make me any less of a person, a woman, or a mother. I have been mothering others people’s children since forever, and that is and will always be an active part of my work.

This year, I read a lot. So much that notified me that I was among the top 10% of readers and writers on their platform this year. Who wudda thunk? I read quite some good books offline as well, and added some 30 or so paperback books to my shelves. The goal was not to read them all in the space of a year. Some of the books I had from previous years finally made it to my reading list. Some of them really impacted my thinking. War of Art, Rework, Status Anxiety, First Universe ... off the top of my head. James Altucher, Danna Faulds, Tony Robbins, Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson (DHH), Seth Godin, Tim Ferriss, TY Bello are some who made the list of my influencers teachers this year.

James Altucher, whose thoughts I followed everywhere I could find them*
As I read more, I wrote more as well. In my seven prior years of blogging, I had 156 posts in total to show for seven years. 156 in seven years, and then 140 in a single year? Clearly something or someone changed. I feel like it took seven years of churning out "junk" to get to this point where I understand my writing is part of my work and one of the tools I've been given to work. I will write. I am here to teach, and I will write to enlighten and to advocate. Sometimes I am the beneficiary of this gift, many times even, and I hope that in the future, I'm not the only. 

As the year comes to an end today, I am with two of my dearest friends who are married to each other, and both their moms. One of the moms while praying for her son and daughter-in-law, starts to pray for me. In her prayers, she declares that I will be married in 2017, after which my friend says, "So Vicki, let's choose your wedding colors." Lol! Don't worry about me, I say under my smile, and thank them for their goodwill.

All in all, 30, like 2016 was deeply spiritual - not religious. It was an amazing place of consciousness, and a major teacher. You go through all this to get where you’re going, and you’re always on your way. Keep going and one day, you will get it. You will figure it out one lightbulb moment at a time. Happy new year!

Thought Exchange with Silly Lara

"I tried to read a book about giving & receiving love - oh yes, I want love. I do. But, right now, this book seems far more appropriate.  The majority of the men in my life have been kind & loving. But, some have been ugly, really ugly. My most recent ex is a good man. But, I've encountered some men this year who I just can't vibe with - on any level. So, I'm trying to make it less about men & more about me.  Why, at 33, do I feel scared & alone? Why do I feel my chance at love & a family is over? Who put these thoughts in my mind? How did they arise? And more importantly, how do I remove them? Hoping this book will provide some answers. Hoping my thinking will shift from feeling alone as a single woman to feeling fucking empowered as a single woman.  More to report at a later date.  Signing off as BeyoncĂ©,  Hugs & kisses to all.  All the single ladies, put your hands up!"
- Lara Frazier (@SillyLara) on reading All The Single Ladies by Rebecca Traister.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Paying for Free


I get that.
Businesses are here to maximize profit. While we are at it, can the same (businesses) monetize maximally without spamming and flooding customers consumers with loathsome interruptive ads? Or will this always be the price we pay for "free." As the old adage says, "if you're not paying for a product, then by default you are the product." Yup, no such thing as free lunch.

When it comes to distinguishing between a customer and a consumer, it's definitely no thin line. Companies serve "free" products and services to their consumers and conversely make tons of revenue via advertising to users of these free products. And then paying customers on the other hand bring in revenue directly. In summary, customers pay, and consumers don't.

Can we, or they, depart altogether from the online ad model? Or is this trying to have your cake and eat it? Ads today have easily become the bane of 
our existence, and by our, I mean the collective whose flow has been frequently cramped online - from Spotify to YouTube and every platform in between. Ads these days take away from our experience, rudely interrupt programming, reek of indifference with respect to individualized need, to list a few. Is the bigger issue that online ads are not done right?

Climbing the ranks

Where are you on the ladder, and what do you need to make progress?

On Diversity of Thought

I really like the impact of diversity of thought in corporate, that I can for example, read about black hair in the New York Times, in my day. Those are my struggles. Those are real to me :)

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Cataloged Thoughts

In this new year, I hope you tell people how you feel.

When you love them, you tell them. When you want them to stay, you ask them not to go. When you’re missing them, you express that. When you’re hurting, you let them see the innermost parts of your heart. I hope you stop pretending. I hope you stop acting like you’re okay when you’re cracking on the inside. I hope you stop telling yourself you don’t need anyone. And I hope you become strong, but soft.

In this new year, I hope you love with passion.

There are no rules for love. You don’t have to act a certain way or say a specific thing. You don’t have to follow the guidelines of those around you, or fit into a mold of the man or woman you’re ‘supposed to be.’ I hope in this new year, you break away from those expectations. I hope you love with fullness, love with passion, love with everything you have.

In this new year, I hope you are bold.

I hope you love fiercely. I hope you give people your heart and you let them hold yours. I hope you share your mind. I hope you believe in the future. I hope you quit measuring yourself and your relationship to those around you and find happiness on even your most difficult days. I hope you fight for things and people that you love. I hope you look back and know that you lived your life exactly how you wanted to, with the people you care for by your side. But most of all, I hope you are fearless when it comes to matters of your heart.

Marisa Donelly, in Thought Catalog