The Simple Life

You never know who is changing around you.

I keep being reminded that this life isn’t about me. I am here to live a life that will mirror the plan God has laid out and provide a road map for others.

A cup of tea on a hot day, a slice of bread for breakfast, a slice of homemade cake and a scoop of homemade vegan ice-cream and the list goes on. I have tried many different diets over the years and lifestyles and there are things I like and things I don’t like. I have tried some foods and gagged and tried others and been on the wings of angels. How then do I share a road map with others? How do I help others on the path? Quite simple, be honest about the journey.

You don’t know how much you know until you meet someone who doesn’t – Wanjiku Lucia Mugo

I had some amazing conversations in the last few weeks that made it clear that I have something to share. The thing that is standing out for me is how for so long my life looked rosy on the outside yet it was so broken on the inside. How hard it was to explain to people how vulnerable I was yet they needed me strong and solid. I looked like I was drawing strength from my faith but it stopped working when things weren’t panning out as I planned and prayed they would. Then it all came crashing down. In my early thirties, it all fell apart when I realised just how unhappy I was and how unskilled I was to deal with it.

My faith as I had always practised it imploded and I needed another rudder in life.

In time I found one and it is a deep relationship with God that is outside the structure of religious practise. I stopped going to church and fellowship and dared God to show up and build a relationship with me outside these structure. I dared Him to connect with me, as I am where I am in a way I could understand and boy has he done it! I know many would say that God isn’t at my beck and call, but I found that when He hears a heartfelt cry for Him, He makes it happen. He made it possible in ways I didn’t even know before and my faith begun building. Note the faith was building not rebuilding because there was no foundation left from the implosion…nothing made it through.

Our relationship is very interesting. It is leaning on a pillar and being pleasantly surprised it is so solid. It is being brutally honest without fear of being destroyed. It is understanding that I don’t know it all but He is patient enough to teach me what I need to know. It is understanding love on a new and deeper level

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I learnt to listen to the inner voice and ask questions; to read scripture and find deeper meaning in the word; to pray as simply as I breath rather than have all the ceremony I had known; to fast things that mean something and not the things I wouldn’t miss; to share openly with my people and my village and grow together.

This new place also took a lot of unlearning.

To become healthy, I had to unlearn many things, shift things, realign things. What did I unlearn?

  • Routines of how services and prayer times should run
  • Concepts of who God is and how he deals with people
  • Rules and regulations
  • Culture and tradition that didn’t really add value to my walk with God
  • The belief that God is a policeman waiting for me to fall then he can beat me into submission
  • Fear of failure and being disowned for falling short
  • Conditional love that led to judgment and legalism
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What did I learn in its place?

  • The unconditional love of a father
  • The love of real family
  • To love me and choose me first every time
  • To sit still and mediate
  • To have honest conversations with God about how it is

If you have never known the catastrophic failure of the faith you have and rebuilding of the same, in some ways…it is quite likely that you  haven’t really lived.

The Simple Life

80% Rule

Recently while reading about ikigai, I came across the 80% rule. Before I get to rule, let me explain ikigai. In simple terms, ikigai is the purpose for life. I call it existential fuel, fire in my belly and the reason I am alive. Ikigai is discovered internally and not externally because it is the compass for life, not a map. Living in purpose is really an art and it has many components that include eating and exercise habits.

As we walk towards ikigai, one of the key elements is diet hence the eighty percent rule which states that we should eat until we are only eighty percent full. Yes, eighty percent full! This means that we should be a bit hungry at the end of every meal. Tell that to an African mother or grandmother.

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When we were growing up, it was expected that we should eat a lot. In many instances, it meant that our plates were piled high and we ate until we were beyond full. I remember many times when I visited my friends and their parents would be horrified about how ‘little’ I ate. Even my grandmother at times thought I ate too little. Ha! I was always conscious of the need for everyone to have a portion of whatever was prepared as well as the fact that I needed to take care of my size so I ate carefully. I ate so carefully that I was often teased that I eat leaves and twigs.

When a couple gets married, part of their success or suitability for each other was assessed by weight gain and not one two kilograms. When a woman is pregnant and has the baby the most common thing you hear about food is that you have to eat for two so just go and eat as much as you want. As we navigate work we are told that food is the fuel you need so we eat big meals to keep going and snacks in between. How come no one has ever told us about the eighty percent rule?

As one who has never eaten much, but has always eaten until full, this eighty percent rule really grabs my thinking. It is intriguing because there are whole communities in Japan who thrive on it and are living longer yet I struggle with remaining a little hungry after the meal. How do I rewire my mind and tummy so that when I stop I don’t go back to the serving dish or plate? Some say drink water, but drinking water with or just after a meal isn’t advisable because it dilutes the digestive enzymes and slows down digestion. I’d rather not drink fluids for at least half an hour after food so that digestion happens ASAP.

The recommended ways to achieve the eighty percent rule is to eat smaller portions, drink more fluids especially water and skip dessert. These are doable and I have done them before but now I wonder why it is hard to keep on the light food path. The last few weeks, I am dealing with a new taste for carbs and a return of my love for dark chocolate and dessert. What has changed? How have I shifted? Where are we going with this? I really don’t know.

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What am I doing about it? For a start, none of the usual things for sure! This time I am choosing peace. I will not criticise myself excessively or bang my head on the table as before. I will not ask myself how could you? I will not stress about it all? I will, however, take an honest look at the situation and dig deep to find the triggers and then deal with them. No more surface dealings. There has to be a way to get to eating only eighty percent of what I need.

Off I go to sift my life and find the tools to shift.

The Simple Life

Organised But Undisciplined

‘You are organized but undisciplined!’ Papa said.

‘ What? Really?’ I asked totally gobsmacked.

‘Yup!’ he replied.

‘How can one be organised and undisciplined? That is just absolutely absurd.’ I said. The silence was a clear sign He wasn’t going to answer directly and I would have to dig deep.

By all standards, I am the super put together, get everything done well girl. For the longest time, I was a career planner, good at my job with a slew of happy clients. I repeatedly run projects on large and small budgets and with long and short timelines. I have lived with lots and little and ensured we never lacked. I have solved problems for a living, walked with people, challenged others and changed lives. How on earth could I be undisciplined? This one hurt.

How can I be organised and undisciplined? Undisciplined? I would never have said that of me in a thousand years then this conversation with God. Questions were racing through my mind. How was this even possible? What was I doing? What wasn’t I doing? What marks haven’t I reached? Had I even hit one mark? Did I have a clear picture of the world around me? What could I do better and what would it produce? I was determined to find out what this was about.

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As I worked through the situation, things caught my attention.

First was the Longman, definition of discipline. ‘Discipline is a way of training someone so that they learn to control their behaviour and obey rules.’ Fair enough I thought to myself, fair enough. There is a lot I could change right there. I had been trained by God and family but I hadn’t stayed with the content long enough for it to really take root. In some cases, I had even walked out of class.

Second is the quote by Elbert Hubbard, “Self-discipline is the ability to make yourself do what you should do when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not.” Ha!!! This one was big. Many times if I didn’t feel like doing something I walked away until I felt like it. I didn’t want to eat fruit, I walked away. I didn’t feel like writing I put the pen down or shut down my machine. It often took the threat of a deadline or unhappy team player to get me to work.

Third, defined discipline as follows; ‘When you have discipline, you have self-control.’ Did I have self-control over all areas of my life? Was I wholly dedicated in all areas or was it selective to matters external?

I can run circles around you if you drop an idea for an event and have a work plan in my mind in minutes but getting it on paper is often another matter altogether but it will come out beautiful. I can see a project through to the end no matter the drama if I believe in it. I can write just about anything I set my mind to in a time span I decide. I can walk with people and encourage them to believe and move mountains without breaking a sweat. I am bull-headed about people’s things, I continually excelled at work and in areas of ministry, but when it comes to the things that concerned me; that is a whole different story.

You see, discipline is driven from within and it doesn’t matter how disciplined or organised I look on the outside, if I am undisciplined on the inside or in my personal life then I can be organised and undisciplined.

There it was in full view and it was true: I was organised but undisciplined.

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The Simple Life

Keeping track

The year started quickly with goals set, targets lined up and the list sent to the system manager knowing that we were in for a year as good as 2018, or so I thought. A couple of days after submitting the plan to coach for accountability, I realized it wasn’t a true reflection of the plan for the year. In fact, It felt like I wasn’t the one who wrote it in the first place. Ha! How could that be?

After a time of reflection and recalibrating, I found I had simply taken the targets for 2018 and reworded them. First off, I didn’t even realise I had just adopted pre-existing actions. Why? It was easy and seemed right at the moment but it wasn’t. It was the lazy girl’s solution and I was unaware of it. As a result, I lost a bit of steam for the year yet I had earlier chosen to always move forward no matter how challenging things were or could get. Yet here was the opportunity to stand for my word and I chose the easy way out and I had to shift back to the right course.

The journey of isn’t for the swift but the determined, deliberate and dedicated.

A few mornings ago, I was thinking about this new path of intense honesty and recalled my choice to connect to the ongoing realities of 2019 and adjust accordingly because this is a year like no other. There has never been a year like this and there will never be another one. This isn’t a flippant statement but a deep certainty. 2019 is demanding my full attention and commitment. It is demanding deep gut-wrenching honesty with myself and the world around me. It is taking nothing but all of me because the internal and external shift must be fully aligned and completed.

There is no room or time to choose paths based on emotions or past success. There is only room to understand the fullness of who I am in Christ and constantly and devotedly work towards that. There is only room to walk in step with Papa and do only what He says, when He says and how He says. There is only room to dive deeper into the love He has offered me and to change and become the right person so that He can do all He needs to do with, in and through me. I can no longer behave like a porcelain doll and just look delicate and pretty. He has guaranteed I will look good but it is all for His honour and glory.

Even though I still don’t have the full picture, I press on knowing that as I keep asking He will keep unfolding and as I keep unfolding He will keep unwrapping the depth, breadth and height of His love for me and His capacity to draw me in and turn me into the fullness of what He sees.

Papa, open my eyes that I may see as only you know I must see, become who you say I am and accomplish all you have established is part of my walk. Nothing less; only more of you and your plan for humanity! Amen

The Simple Life

Fork or Spoon?

As a matter of choice we don’t bring dishes to the table rather we serve in the kitchen and come sit together. This habit started soon after I realized just how many dishes we have to wash if we have to remove food from the cooking pot into a serving dish and then to a food container for the leftovers. Suffice it to say, I cut down on dirty dishes by leaving the food in the pot.

Don’t even talk about the aluminium bleeding into the food. When I realized it was happening in my kitchen, I changed to the ceramic and stainless steel pots and pans; it has been a wonderful breeze since then. Easy cooking, heat retention and easy cleaning became a part of my daily life. Anyway, that wasn’t the point.

Fork or spoon? Oh what a question.

It was just the young king and I at home and we had just served food when he asked the above question. I was taken aback because he knew I mostly used a spoon so why was he asking. Even as I said spoon, my mind wondered why a spoon, not a fork yet a few years ago, I would not be caught using a spoon except for cereal and dessert. I realised that I switched to spoons only around 2003. Let’s not even talk about fingers. My mother tells a hilarious story of me and my fingers in her plate from when I was 9 months but that is a story for another day. (hope I remember to tell it)

In a moment of clarity, I found that I moved to spoon from fork when I had very short lunch breaks and I needed to finish the food on my plate before then next patient walks in or Doc finishes his current patient. I would eat at my desk if there was no one to hold fort so I needed to ensure I was done quickly otherwise all sorts of interruptions would ensure I didn’t finish my meal. The spoon helped me take bigger bites even when I got home from work so I ate faster and went back to the task in record time.

Oh don’t tell me about the need to chew every bit thirty-two times and savour every bite.

Eating was a necessary function that needed to be done as fast as possible and this led to many different challenges. The most interesting one was the capacity to really overeat. The satiety or fullness hormone doesn’t kick in until after fifteen minutes of eating so as long as I was a fast eater I would finish and still feel hungry so go for a second round. I was conscious about the possibility of weight gain so I chose to have veggies when I added a helping but it wasn’t a perfect solution. When the fifteen minutes were up I was so full it was uncomfortable…too uncomfortable.

This full feeling led to a bloated stomach because of indigestion caused by too much food that was difficult to digest or took a long time to digest. It was amazing that such a simple thing could have such ravaging effects. I also noticed that the outcome was different for different people. For some it caused increased weight gain especially around the belly, others had crazy bloating and gas, others heartburn that was absolutely insane.

In time I changed to fork from spoon and it changed everything.

My bites were smaller, my eating slower, I learnt to really enjoy my food and in time my portion size and tummy shrunk. It became impossible to think that I used to want to eat on the run because I was too busy to stop. I also learnt to focus on eating not doing other things all through my meal. I sat down to eat and put my phone down, the computer away and focused on the task. The anxiety I’d always felt faded and I found that it was easier to enjoy life. Clearly, a spoon or a fork can change a life.

What do you know that needs to change for your relationship with God to deepen? Deal with it and be the shining light God sent you here to be.


The Simple Life

The Places I Hide

A safe space is a place free judgment, bias, conflict, criticism, or potentially threatening actions, ideas, and conversations held here will not be broadcast. It is a place of deep vulnerability and honesty that leads to incredible personal reflection and growth. It is established and defined by the parties involved and it cannot exist without each knowing it has been created. It doesn’t happen overnight but is cultivated intentionally over time and strengthened through action and understanding and must be protected.

A safe space starts with intimacy, needs time and focus

Growing a safe space needs all parties to remain connected and communicating without judgement or hiding. It entails no holds barred communication, interaction, challenges and sharing to ensure growth and commitment. It shuns spoon feeding and harnesses reflection and personal realizations to fuel lasting growth and change.

It demands deep personal introspection, vulnerability and honesty that guides life’s journey to growth because the hard stuff requires work and though it would be easy for those in the space to provide direct answers, it is beneficial to the participants to allow each other the opportunity to learn and develop the skills needed to deal with life. These spaces provide guidelines, accountability and social support structures through challenging and joyful situations that keep the journey on course.

The adversity and hostility around makes many prefer external conformity to social norms and expectations than to be themselves hence the need for more safe spaces. At it gets increasingly intense in all spheres of life the skills and lessons learnt in the safe spaces enable one to conquer the outside.

When I began walking with coach, I’d complain about everything from the schedule, to life, work, how the home was running, who wasn’t talking to me etc. He began pushing back at every complaint assessing my ‘reasons’ for the situation or choice and countering with questions. Often I wanted to walk away saying this is not what I signed up for until we revisited matter.

‘I didn’t sign up for this.’ I said

‘Yes you did.’ He replied. ‘The day you accepted my offer to help you walk this journey together.’ He said

‘I didn’t know it would be so hard…’ I sighed

‘It is only as hard as you make it,’ he chimed

‘Yeah right. All you ever do is ask questions and tell me how I need to look deeper, that I know the answer and I don’t want to deal with stuff. I am doing my best.’ I whined

‘Are you sure you are doing your best?’ he asked

‘There you go again doubting and pushing me.’ I responded

‘Do you understand why I push you?’ he asked.

‘Because you are mean…?’ I said

‘Ha!! No!! Try again.’ He said

‘That is what I think,’ I sighed

‘Good God help me,’ he sighed. ‘I push you because I am a true friend.’ he said

‘Yeah right!’ I puffed, ‘True friend my foot.’

‘It is true. Hard stuff requires hard work. I want to make it easy but I wouldn’t be doing you any favours. The goal is to guide you not do the work for you.’ he replied.

‘Why?’ I ask softly

‘Healing comes from the work done in an environment that allows failure but demands you rise when you fall. If I coddle you when you need to keep walking I won’t be helping you long term and that won’t help anyone. In this space you can try and fail knowing that there is no judgement just pressure to keep pushing and working towards your goals. When you reach the goal, the push is to set a new target and keep walking and growing. Safe space aren’t about holding you with kid gloves, rather it is a demand that you to be the best you can be.’ He said

‘What happens when I fail, can’t get up and go on?’ I ask

‘We will sit there for a bit, allow you to catch your breath, find the lessons, apply them then get up and keep going. When you feel at the end of your rope or need to deal with deeper issues we will sit together and deal but in the end you must stand up and keep walking. There will be no wallowing self-pity so we don’t lose momentum and never get up again,’ he responded.

Suddenly, I really understood! This space allows me to grow in leaps and bounds because the pressure is consistent and unrelenting. It has forced me to deal with life in different, be more self-aware and know the voice of God . This deep self-awareness fuels the application of lessons learnt to the path walked. I have several safe spaces because different people are assigned to different parts of my life so we plan for these differences.

It’s impossible to keep moving without spaces to just be truly me.

Be certain that when you don’t see me losing my cool or understand where I get the strength to deal with the day from, I have been to one of my safe spaces, let down my hair (pun intended), cried, dealt and come back out a better person. I have been pushed to the corner and come back stronger. I have faced me and found the right way out of, through or round the challenges of growing. I have found spaces where no matter who I am or what I have done or am going through, I am free; I am loved; I am enough; I am accepted.

Do you need to ask God for a space of intentional growth? Take a moment and do so.

Life changes when we tackle it head on.

The Simple Life

Growing Is Here To Stay

It has perplexed me why there is so much pressure to shift and change from all sides, every day, in every way. Mark you, it has very little to do with the New Year because this pressure began to swell around me last year and only intensifies as time passes. There is a sense of urgency and intensity that needs to be joined into it.

Then coach just hit it on the head when he said, ‘Take a risk. See what happens, knowing that no matter what happens you’re well on the way to becoming the woman, wife, mother, child of God you’re destined to be. Before then, you have to promise yourself that you’ll dig deep and do what it takes to get to that side of the story.’

‘I promise I will,’ I responded.

‘How do you promise to accomplish this?’ he asked

In my head, I am thinking really? Can’t a girl have a break or downtime in this growth thing? This thing of tracking growth just seems to follow and find me everywhere I turn. There has to be something big about it or else it would have left my area of influence by now. Do I need to find some steps to go through? Do I need help finding the path?

It is becoming incredibly obvious that growth is the word of the season and there is no end to it.

I look back to who I was just 12 months ago and I wouldn’t want to go back there no matter what. In fact, I want to become better every day. The biggest change has been in my mindset. I know I have said it before but when the mind changes, life changes. Every time I came upon an obstacle I had tackled or something similar I would roll my eyes and ask God…really? There was no way we could have dealt with this once for all and not come back? It was hilarious but I thought I had done enough time and now needed a break until I really looked deep and it hit me, every circle takes me deeper and makes me stronger if I allow it.

Every challenge should open my mind and make room for more learning.

I no longer think growth ends. I used to think we grow then stop but now I know the model is to grow, adjust and then grow again. Life is a continuous growth process that never stops. The hard things learnt in the growing and stretching process allows me to deal with things I would otherwise have avoided and this ensures I become a better person. When I have dealt with challenges I can move on. If I circle back to a similar place I must assess and know if it is the exact same thing and then press in and solve once for all or see the deeper dimension that is being exposed and deal with it.

  • Growth is about becoming one with God’s plan more than I ever thought possible and enjoying both the lesson and the outcome.
  • Growth is attaching the same level of importance to who you can become and then work diligently to become all that.
  • Growth is about choosing to walk towards the goal set no matter the cost and that was the big one for me…the letting go, and letting go helped me realise the depth of joy it gives.

Growth is the only way.