Guest post by my sister – Amanda Shivamba
I was sitting in Church the other day, minding my own business, casually thinking about what seven colour meal I was going to make my family for dinner… all this whilst attempting to look righteous and First Lady-ish (my husband is a Minister by the way!) I heard the Pastor saying close your eyes… and go back to the time when you were really happy… when you felt on top of the world, and ask yourself ‘what has changed?’ I pressed the rewind button and went all the way back to when I was 16, in high school. I was untouchable! I was popular, thin, top of my class, extremely confident and of course I didn’t have a worry in the world! Did I mention that I was THIN?
I asked 16-year-old Amanda why she was so happy’? And with a teenage like brashness, she answered “I do the things that make me happy, I listen to music, I read novels, I jog, I journal, I hang out with my friends and I’m dating the hottest guy in school! ( at least I thought he was at the time! ) ‘what more could I want?’ she asked me so flippantly! I shrugged her off and quickly fast-forwarded to the present. What does she know anyway, she’s 16 and has no bills to pay, no career to chase, no diapers to change and no marriage to maintain.
Besides she was yet to be injured by the reality of life with arrows of heartbreak, failure, and disappointment coming her way. She hadn’t yet experienced the loss of a loved one or the anxiety and worry of nursing a sick child, she hadn’t felt the pain of betrayal by a close friend or the stresses of the corporate world. I instantly disregarded her as naive, bright eyed and bushy tailed and mercilessly hopeful. What a silly girl I thought! All that hope will be stripped away from her layer by layer by this cruel harsh world until she is left with nothing but scars and an overpriced therapy bill.
Later on in the day, I revisited the conversation, curious as to why my 16-year-old self-had irritated me so much, yes former me irritated present me! and I began to realize it was my present self that had actually irritated me. I had forgotten all the things that made me happy, that actually made me feel alive, I had put everyone and everything else before me, and made my husband, my children and my job more important than ME! I mean how could I forget something so simple as the fact that music makes me happy, and that reading allowed me to escape into the reality of another universe, even if it was just for a few hours, how could I forget about ME? I realized that I had allowed life to dictate to me what was important, any inkling of attention I paid to myself was riddled with guilt. I had created this idea in my head, that any time not dedicated to attending to the God-given blessings around me, was sinful, selfish and irrational, that I would be a bad person if I actually focused on ME for a moment! I had even convinced myself that watching tv mindlessly was a sensible form of ‘me time’.
So I decided to make a note of all the things that made me happy way back then and to consciously make time to do them, if not all, then at least some. I downloaded Spotify and created playlists of all my favorite songs, (just as a side note, they were all about 10 years old cause I haven’t consciously made an effort to listen to music in ages!), I downloaded the Audible app and looked for audio books that would interest me, (I spend copious amounts of time in traffic and so that works out better for me when it comes to reading) and of course I decided to start writing again! I even made a mental note to start jogging again- its the thought that counts right!
Just this slight adjustment in my day to day life has made a huge difference in the energy of my soul. The one day, I played loud music and just danced and danced with my children, aimlessly for no reason, and with no reservation, for a good fifteen minutes, they were giggling and chuckling and were probably thinking they’ve got a whacky mother, but in that moment I remembered a quote that 16-year-old me used to love so much, which says; ‘dance like no one is watching’ and I immersed myself in the feeling of being free and liberated, without a care in the world, and more than anything I felt so authentically Me!
Someone once told me that the lioness needs to be strong in order to be able to take care of her tribe, and this is my way of finding my strength. small as it may be. so I challenge you today to remember what made you happy way back then, before the world and everything in it stripped you of your joy. I mean granted a spa day or a trip to Bali could probably serve the same purpose, but sometimes it’s the little things that can make all the difference.