Vision Maps and Imagining the Future

A couple weeks ago I took two days off work to attend the How Women Work conference.

I’m passionate about HWW. I first met the founder Carolin, at a time when I was seriously doubting my decision to move to the desert. To use a well-worn but like all clichés, very apt, she was like an oasis of calm and strength and encouragement and I drank greedily.

I volunteered and was involved with the production of the magazine and had my first piece published in the same magazine of 2011. Since then I have had pieces published in the 2012 and 2013 magazines. The joy and pride of being published has helped me be more committed to my writing. Now I snatch bits of time at traffic lights, in meetings, anywhere to get my thoughts down.

This year’s conference came at a time when I could feel my spirits lagging and I was almost vampiric in absorbing energy from the youth volunteers. Sometimes I feel so jaded by life that it is so good to be around spirited people who are full of potential and dreams.

My interaction with the other adult volunteers was, I hope, more symbiotic, as I drew inspiration while womanning the stations and ensuring a smooth conference for delegates. So much so that at the end of the second day Kofi asked me why I was speaking with a South African accent. You know who you are! I even met someone whose grandfather or was it great grandfather was the 1st police commissioner of Trinidad and Tobago.

The enthusiasm from the delegates and the facilitators of the various workshops, panels and forums was palpable. I don’t really like singling out specific workshops but attending ‘The Power of Imagining Your Future’ with Frances Schnepfleitner has been a tipping point in my life. It showed me that many of my thoughts and actions have been about staying away from the feared image of my future. And in doing so, I am at risk of making little or no progress towards the desired image of my future.

I realized that I had been afraid to think and plan for the future I’d like. I’m now in the process of doing a vision map, for the first time in about 10 years. I’ve had fun downloading and printing pictures of Aston Martins and views of Mayaro beach but I have also mocked up a cover of my novel. Additionally, I have also written down words that are important to me such as Trust, Peace and Grace.

I also thought about what I wanted for Kwame and I managed to resist Sade’s bassist, Arsenal’s star striker, international man of mystery and the African default – doctor. Instead I choose characteristics that I am trying to help him form such as: God-seeking, Talent-using and Loving.

But I can’t deny that the memory of the conference and the positive feelings are diminishing. I feel that I need to top up, continuously. This is normal and expected which is why there is the opportunity to spread the feeling throughout the year with the ‘Equipped to Succeed series’. It’s a chance to fan the flame that diminishes with the memory of the conference.

Do you have any ideas for my vision map? Is it time you did a vision map?


Happy Birthday to me

I’ve entered my 40th year on this planet. I declare this a year blessed by the Divine. I plan to live intentionally this year.

These intentions include:

be more spiritually grounded by praying everyday – what I do may differ each day but I do find a few moments of praise, forgiveness and thanksgiving is a sure footing for the day.

be fitter – I have found a gym that meets all of my ‘essentials’ and many of my ‘desirables’.

Be a writer – focus on this by applying some of the techniques I use in my work on process improvement.

A week in – how am I doing? Its not easy and as many steps as I’ve taken forward, I have taken backwards. Its like moving through molasses but I am determined that each moment I can choose to move towards my goals despite the resistance.

In those moments when I act from my dark side by thinking, saying and doing things I regret, I can choose to wallow in self loathing and I can’t deny sometimes I’m like a hippo in mud when it comes to the moodiness.  Increasingly though, I am choosing grace. Grace illuminates the step ahead and allows me to move away from the awfulness and towards the light.

Do you choose grace?

Mothers’ days and mothering

In Norway, they celebrated last month and in Qatar and most of the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa) it’s on 21 March. Having lived in the shadow of the US for 16 years, I know that they will be celebrating in May.

As for the rest of the nations on earth one could spend a good 15-20 minutes on Wikepedia braining up on this – as one just did. In Panama it is 8 December – Feast of the Immaculate Conception and my Goddaughter Alexis’ birthday.

This makes it clear that being a mother is seen as something to celebrate! So here’s to us mothers, to our mothers and to all those who have been mother figures to us!

Almost anything I would say has already been said and probably more eloquently. See my friend’s blog

I am eternally grateful to the Great Spirit that my mum is alive as I journey through motherhood, as she is like a lighthouse in the storm – I did say it would be difficult to stay away from the clichés. As well as it gives me the opportunity to apologise for having been such a pain at times, especially when we moved from Trini to the UK.

Love you mummy.

Has your view/experience of motherhood changed since becoming a mother?

It’ not a race

It’s Monday and I like to publish my blog on Sunday so I’m late, again. And trying to not punish myself for it. Part of me wants to just give it up because that is easier but really deep down I want to do it so even if it is a day later, I’ve done it.

This is a very apt introduction to the topic that has been going around in my head for the last week but I had not had taken time to jot down, as I spent every spare moment polishing a short story I was writing for the Choc Lit Short Story Competition.

A few weeks ago, Kofi, my husband and keen cyclist, took part in a ride from Mesaieed to the Corniche, as part of  Qatar Chain Reaction.  This was in advance of the professional riders who were doing the last leg of the Tour of Qatar Tour of Qatar.

We left Sealine Beach Resort, shortly after Dhur and lunch. Kofi was riding with his friend James who let me drive his Porsche Cayenne!  James’ partner, Nora, Kwame and I formed part of the support team of vehicles: carrying all the gear, stopping every so often to cheer them on and protecting the riders from the other less aware drivers.

One of the riders did not set off with the bigger group. With a massive whirl of sand, his driver pulls up several metres behind the peloton (French word meaning little ball, like the English pellet which refers to the pack of main riders in a cycle ride/race) and with a lot of flourish pulled out his pimped bike. He’s all colour co-ordinated from helmet to shoes in Trinbago colours  – I know that Egypt’s flag has the same colours.  He mithers with the peloton for a several kilometres and then races off ahead of the others and is the first to arrive at the Corniche.

Later, while we were sat on the specially constructed bleachers cheering on the professional riders, this rider who we’ll call Ahmed starts chatting to Kwame. And my son machine-guns him with the following,

“Why does your helmet funny shaped?” (He had one of those aerodynamic helmets)

“Why didn’t you leave Sealine with daddy and Uncle James?”

“Why did you zoom past and leave the others behind?”

Ahmed was all over the place trying to answer all these questions but he could only stammer and stutter in response to the killer,

“You know it’s a ride, not a race?”

Ahmed works with the Qatar Aspire Football Academy, so I may have lost my chance of Kwame being discovered by Barcelona talent scouts and with it my Aston Martin. Maybe I need to teach him some tact, as soon as I’ve learnt some.

I so admire my son’s directness and on reflection it held a profound life lesson. As I struggle with living in the desert, I feel like others are zooming past me because I often fall prey to the lie that life is a race and feel as if I must react to keep up or win.  However, from the perspective that it’s a ride not a race, I can choose to wait on Divine directions and I will still finish the race… I mean the ride.

Do you live life as a race? Would you rather see it as a ride? What’s preventing the mindshift?