As the years go by and I continue to iterate, I realise there reached a point where Google searches and articles aren’t enough. There comes the point where what I do daily beyond work and proposal writing and pitching doesn’t cut.
It is a constant ebb and flow, times of busyness and times of emptiness, and it is in the moments of emptiness I ask myself, what next? Most of the time, I have answered the ‘what next?’ question solely on my career and how to improve it. I read books, find mentors, attend courses, and talk with peers to learn from them.
Over the past two years, I have realised that self-improvement isn’t solely about a career and growing income. Two critical areas of my life have suffered for decades, and I would only care and invest in building them from time to time.
These two areas are my health and creativity.
I was smacked in the face with the reality of my mortality when my mother was diagnosed with stage four cancer in March 2019, and only six months later, in August of the same year, she was gone. It is a constant juggle of acceptance and mourning. You never entirely stop grieving any loss. It is a life-long process.
But even as I continue to live a life I want my mother to be proud of, I had to look at myself deeply. It started with my mind. I had to deal with a lot of hurt, anger, confusion and self-doubt.
I am grateful for the pandemic in a sense; it slowed things down enough for me to have the time to really look deep into these emotions. Thanks to great therapy, I found healing and the tools to conquer episodic depression.
It also taught me the importance and need for consistent investment in my spiritual journey and meditation. The need to live in the present and not obsess about the past and future. It helped me fight the “I should have done this by now” syndrome I spent most of my life using to badger myself.
Getting my mind right was the first step to pushing me to tackle the next aspect of my health – my body. I started working out during the pandemic. I got a personal trainer, but my diet was rotten. I learned that genuinely managing your weight is 85% diet and 15% workout. I knew it in principle but accepting to make that shift was a mental battle. Food was where I burrowed my stress. I have been an emotional eater for most of my life. That was hard.
Fitness assists in ensuring your body functions well mechanically. But for it to function at its optimal, it requires the right kind of fuel. So in 2021, during my annual check-up, my gynaecologist told me it was essential I really got serious with my diet.
I signed up with a nutritionist in January this year. I honestly don’t recall the last time I felt so mentally aware and productive in my adult life. My limbs are much more flexible, and it really does help manage my mental health as well.
Exercise tied with good nutrition has proved invaluable for me. It is showing me what I am capable of. Of course, there are also perks like losing weight, but for me, it is stress management and mental productivity that make it a win.
With my mind more fired up thanks to better care of my body, I am finding myself pushing harder to create. I am currently developing training curricula and programmes. These are things I honestly have not really thought I would ever do. It was never in my mind as an option.
Even as look back at the past six months of the year, I can opt to beat myself up for what I have not been able to achieve with my plan. But there is a lot more to celebrate.
I have developed a youth career and an executive training programme, and I am finalising a communication training series. Unfortunately, the uptake is not as fast as I had hoped, but it is steadily growing.
I salute every teacher because developing curricula is darn hard. But it is fulfilling when you roll it out and see it work. I love it because it shows me where to iterate. This is a big deal, and right now, I laud myself.
Even as I develop these curricula, I can get back to writing my flash fiction stories. This usually is my creativity test. When I can actually sit and write flash fiction stories in as little as 20 minutes. When I struggle to conjure up stories on any content in that period, it indicates a dry creativity spell.
The last week was a low week for me emotionally, but I could work it through. Even as I start this week, I am still not 100% emotionally, unlike the past three years when I would be paralysed entirely. Now I have the tools to understand and care for myself as I continue to create. And for that, I am genuinely grateful.