The Masters

Photo by Daian Gan on Pexels.com

Have you ever been so passionate about something that you decided it’s going to be your “one thing” in life? Apparently, it becomes deeply ingrained in your personality that there comes a day when there’s no way to tell between you and your passion. You and that thing become one.

Masters of their own craft. Some of them are still living among us. The world may not know about them right now, or perhaps may not know them at all. That’s just how it works. It takes years to realize someone was a genius and a great dose of humility to accept that fact.

But masters don’t really care about how they are perceived by the world. They just make art, do their thing, and allow themselves to be a vessel that nature chooses to work with and through.

The same should be for you and me.
— to not care too much about the outcome or what people say; if whatever we do makes an impact, or whether it’s grand, eloquent, shiny, or too overwhelming for someone to fathom or even feel.

We bring out what nature or the gods intend to create, never refusing or bragging about it and claiming it as our own. Nothing is our own.

You are called to do something today.

If it’s something big, take courage. You were born to do it. Don’t ever doubt that.

If it’s something small, do it great, as if it’s all that matters and the last thing you get to do.

In the final hours, to hear these words echoing between two souls would be the sweetest thing in the world, “You made that happen. Thank you”.

Some Days When I’m Not Winning

A friend of mine told me once: Pick one thing that you can win today. Once you make it, pick another, then another.”  How I hope I learned this sooner. – #sundaewrites

I always make it a point to come prepared. It doesn’t matter which assignments I take, be it at work, ministry, personal goals or any activity set out on my calendar.  You see, I don’t like to be in a place where I’d hear myself mutter “I should have…”  I have high expectations from “me” and fortunately (or unfortunately), I project these expectations towards others.

Half of the time things go the way I envisioned them, and the rest of the time, they don’t. I get so pumped up on those “sunny days”, and well, “rainy days”- they always get me down.  These down moments seem to carry on forever. My heart bleeds, my positivity loses strength, my demeanor and stance obviously mirror defeat.

Still, I show up.  

As much as I want to analyze my feelings and thoughts piece by piece, I desire so much to just hit the rewind button and start fresh- wish I was better that day, wish I was smarter, wish people were more kind, more responsible, more caring.  When I realized I couldn’t even fulfill the wishes I had for myself, I understood how ridiculous it is to expect my wishes for other people to come true.

As I was driving home one evening I felt the urge to confront myself one question. “Why do you easily get frustrated?” A number of answers came up.

Your standards are too high

You’re trapped in the illusion of a perfect world

You’re over confident

You fooled yourself into believing that people are perfect

You like to operate in your own little world and expect people to fit in there

A lot of thoughts came running like athletes on a marathon pushing towards the finish line. Suddenly it felt too much. These voices. They hit you like a big wave, smashing and forcing you under water till you struggle to breathe and lose the will to swim.

Then it stopped. Calmness stepped in like a sudden quietness, a glimmer of pure silence.

I wrestled with that peace.  Reluctantly I said, “Okay’ I’m going to keep my commitment to those I made it to”.  And that still, small voice answered, “No, keep the commitment you made to Me”.  It’s like He knows, He’d hear me say “I quit” time and time again.

Point blank. I didn’t have the courage to say yes to that. So I argued some more

“It’s difficult”.

“It’s unfair”.

“How can you expect that from me?”

Did I get more answers? No.  I was left with those questions.

I guess, there’s no easy way to go about it, no easy way to go about uncertainties and the feeling of being let down.

A friend of mine told me once: Pick one thing that you can win today. Once you make it, pick another, then another.”  

Some days we lose, some days we win. I think the outcome is important, but more than that, the process is.  Whether we get a trophy or a zero star rating on any given day, it should not stop us from taking the next step.  We don’t get it all figured out at the start, even as we go on. But do we always have to have the answers? Maybe, but even if we don’t we go out there and keep asking anyway. We go out there and pick ourselves up.  We go out there and show up. Life “wills” you to take risks. When you do, it will define you and redefine you. At the end of it, you can never lose.

Questions:

Have you also experienced being let down? Did you wrestle with frustration? How did you come off it and what lessons did you learn? I’d love to hear from you.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

How To Discover Your Passion

Some of the people I know are lucky enough to have figured at a young age the things that they’re passionate about.  But for most of us, the journey to discovery wasn’t easy.

A mentor of mine once said that if you’re into music and thinking about learning to play an instrument, you have to experiment with at least one from different classes: percussion, wind, strings, electronic, and determine which one feels more like you. Playing an instrument is supposed to be an expression of the music in you, so you have to pick up one which best translates the colors and shapes you silently see or the symphony that rings beautifully in your ear.

Once you have chosen an instrument, you have to go on full gear. Work on learning and improving your skills and fend off any temptation to be good as well in any other instruments. Good is the enemy of the best. Remember that. Don’t try to be a jack of all trades and a master of none. If you want to command a high level of proficiency at playing one instrument then dedicate all your time, energy and wits to it. That way you get to focus on one thing and one thing only.  This is the way of the champions and the path of the people we call experts in their chosen fields.

Proponents of multitasking teach us to do so many things at the same time. While this may fit in some circumstances like household chores or tasks which are more routine, mechanical or predictable, this won’t work if you want to immerse yourself in deep work. The latter would require intense focus to a point where you are oblivious to the world around you. This is where you get to experience the flowa state where you are no longer outside of what’s happening, rather, you are in it, intricately woven into the fabric of what’s unfolding: the process of creating, learning, imagining and expressing.

The flow, is more like being, instead of doing.  Any deep, meaningful work would give you that experience. If any of your work gets you in the flow that reveals one simple truth- that is where your passion lies, the one thing in this world that’s true to you, that speaks of who you are, what’s important to your soul, and what your very core is truly made of.

Discovering your passion takes a lot of time and a lot of trial and error. But the more you open yourself to possibilities and explore the world around you, the sooner you will find your calling.  Allow yourself to get lost so you reach unchartered territories. Your inner compass will point you home.  You see, passion is like a homing device. It will beckon you like a lighthouse when you’re caught in a sea of options, desires, wants or wishes.

Explore. Get out of your comfort zone and your limiting beliefs of what you can or cannot do. It’s only in the process of discovering, that you will liberate your true self. Once you find your passion, know that it is your gift not only to the world but to your self. So take responsibility to nourish it, hone it, and refine it ‘till it feels like you’re holding ounces of silver in your hands.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Why Care About A Morning Ritual?

It’s important.  At first, I wasn’t a believer myself. But as I got older, life became more demanding. I realized then that we have to be more intentional of our days instead of allowing others to rule it for us. This is where a morning ritual comes in. You have to set up the tone for the day. It’s more like conditioning your mind, body, and spirit before embarking on the day’s journey.

Morning rituals can differ from one person to another. Designing it should correspond to your need. For example, If you’re days are stressful, you might want to start your day with some relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation. If you feel spiritually weak, then maybe you can dive into your Bible or tune in to a Christian radio station first thing in the morning.  If your typical day, however, involves more physical action, then maybe you can go for a run before the dawn breaks to pump up your adrenaline. 

Most people would combine these morning activities with things like having a healthy meal, share meaningful conversations with loved ones, or goof around with kids, anything that sets up a positive mood or fills the air with positive energy. Of course, doing these entails waking up early, which further means not resisting an early nightcap.

Some people start the day planning and writing down priorities.  That way, no matter how chaotic, busy, or demanding the day goes, they go to work with a strong intention and commitment to accomplish what they have set out to do.  This allows them to end their day with a sense of fulfillment.

Morning rituals would do us good especially during these times when most people are stretched out to thin. With lots of responsibilities and expectations to meet, a sense of balance is getting harder to achieve.  Regardless of what your circumstances are, you have to be deliberate in determining the course of your life instead of going with the flow. Else you will find yourself wondering where the years have gone by. You’d regret knowing you’ve missed out a lot in your own life mainly because you became too occupied meeting other people’s agenda.

You don’t want to fall victim to a busy world and a demanding environment. You don’t want to go through your days completely detached from what you want to accomplish meaningfully for yourself and the people who matter to you.  To truly live, you have to be purposeful, and you have to set out that purpose at the start of each day.  

There’s no blueprint for a perfect morning ritual. You can create it and make some improvements along the way. You have to adapt it to your needs. Discover what works for you and continue doing what gives you results.  The purpose of these rituals is to enhance your life, improve your days, increase the quality of your relationships and fulfill your reason for being.

Now the challenge:  Think about a morning ritual that you can start. Create a simple one that you can accomplish every single day and see how it improves your life.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

In The Zone

Five years ago, I had a couple of friends who would come by my place to jam.  With guitars and portable amps, they would arrive at seven in the evening. We would catch up a bit before kicking off our sort of rehearsal with “Hosanna”, a song by Brooke Ligertwood, and play a couple more pieces. That makes three songs in a row, played and sung on repeat mode. Call it passion in action.

These sessions went on for almost two weeks and every single night, we’d finish past midnight. No breaks but just focused work and the occasional exchange of ideas on how we can deliver better.  My roommate would quip, “You guys are definitely in the zone. Anybody could see it”!

In the zone. Wow! Wouldn’t it be wonderful to experience that every single time?  Unfortunately, we don’t.

Many people don’t get to find their passion as easily as maybe you and I. So for us, we have a responsibility to keep it alive and burning. To have the constant eagerness to strike while the iron is hot. 

 

 

A good friend of mine told me once, “If you stop singing, you’re going to explode. So don’t ever think about quitting”.  She was right. When I did quit, I exploded.  

Letting go of your passion, may not cause you to burst into pieces as fast as fireworks vanishing into thin air. But slowly it will leave you dry, dull and bored. Imagine a canvass with nothing on it, no lines, no shapes, no color, just plain, white, empty space.

 

Yours can be the hand of a painter who could bring colours to life.
Yours can even be the wits of a comic who could make people laugh with peculiar jokes.
Yours can be the words of a poet who could melt any maiden’s heart with a lyrical prose.

 

Whatever that passion is, you are alive because of it. It’s your GIFT, and it will lead you to you’re unique CALLING.  

We are all pieces of a puzzle. If we don’t fit in our piece, the whole puzzle will never be put together. Think about it, in God’s grand design, you are part of it. Quite a responsibility isn’t it? But quite an honor too!

Friend, my desire for you is to find your passion. Nurture it, and share it with the rest of the world.  We’ve waited long enough for you.

 

 

“How do I find my passion”?  You ask.  

Get to know your self.

Explore the many things you’re curious about.

Try. Make mistakes, and fail forward.

Be true to who you are. Stop pretending to be someone else. Stop living somebody else’s life.

Go out there. Get out of your comfort zone.

Get a coach, a mentor or have a role model.

Talk to people you trust and ask them what they think are you good at.

Take heed of compliments freely given to you.

Fill a gap, a void, a lack, or solve a need, a problem, or answer a call.

And to nurture it? 

Find your tribe.

Focus on your WHY.

Yes, it’s always hard at the start. There are many roads out there and it can be confusing and frustrating. But the one who searches, the one who looks, will have increased his chance of finding his true north.

 

Passion. Let it burn you. Leave a glow or better, dazzle the world!

 

FOMO

“Run your own race, and most importantly, own it”.- sundaewrites

I have struggled with the fear of missing out (FOMO) few times in the past. My schedule was filled with commitments I thought I have to make and responsibilities I felt I needed to take, else nobody will. In all those cases I believed I could do everything and on my own. I barely had enough rest, rarely gave myself space or just little moments to breathe life in. I was always breathing out- giving and doing ‘till I felt so drained, so used up and figured I needed to get away from all of it.

Believe me, it was so difficult with FOMO dancing before my eyes like wildfire. I faced a lot of questions in all shapes and sizes:
-who’s gonna do this when I’m not around,
-what if no other opportunity comes
-what if I miss the fun
-what if this business succeeds and I failed to be a part of it
-what if I abandon this project and it fails
-what if my teammates can’t handle this on their own

At that point, I knew I needed to let go and trust. Let go of the worries, fears, the scarcity mentality, and believe that I need some time to rest and give God room to do His wonders.

This introspection did bring some old fundamental questions:

What is my WHY? What path do I intend to take? Is it leading me to where I want to go?

Am I traveling light, or do I have heavy loads on my back filled with stuff I don’t really need?

Am I answering a call or just drifting through my days, or worse, climbing someone else’s ladder?

When you unplug from the world and all its cares and just enjoy a sunny afternoon outside with the sweet warmth of northern breeze touching your skin, it’s refreshing. As what a good friend said, “When you spend time with nature, you get to slow down everything by losing yourself in the moment”.  And I do believe it. Pulling yourself away from the noise and distractions moves you closer to your heart, your thoughts, and yes your very soul.

Like a garden, our inner core needs nurturing too. If we want to give meaningful gifts to the world, we need to feed our entire being. We have to give ourselves time to grow deeper roots, so we can bear more fruit, and good ones at that.

My friend, I don’t know what you’re filling your days with. But I hope whatever you do today is really meaningful because you’re exchanging a day of your life for it. If right now you’re in a place where you feel like you’re swamped with a lot of urgent and important tasks, I invite you to pause for a moment. Empty your table. Take seven deep breaths. Inhaling through your nose and breathing through your mouth. Then slowly, pick the things that you really need at the moment, put them back on the table, leave the rest on the floor. In your life, try adopting this mental exercise too. Take just what you need and carry on. Be fluid.

Abundance-think of it, believe it. Once you do, you’d never be haunted by the fear of missing out. You’ll begin to see the world with more than enough for everyone. Yes, you can pursue anything you want but make sure it counts. Let it define the beauty of your unique existence. Run your own race, and more importantly, own it. Don’t let the world run it for you nor let it decide for you.

Your life is your responsibility, and whatever good thing you have today, there’s more where that came from.

Once

I never appreciated the value of gratefulness until I woke up one day to realize that in my pursuit of happiness it was the missing piece.

Knowing and being thankful for your blessings is one thing.  But naming your blessing and calling them out one by one in the face of sadness and despair is another.

Lately, I’ve been so absorbed with the discomfort of a body pain. I’ve been dealing with it for years. I would whine about it in my mind and blame it for things I couldn’t do, for my short temper, and intolerance to just about anything. Though I never blurted my dissatisfaction out loud nor acted on the annoyance I get to contend with every day, the inner struggle was real and was taking its toll on me. Depression set in, to a point where I questioned, “Why am I even here if I’m up to no good”. Believe me, it wasn’t always my narrative. At at a young age, I already believed I was special- just like everyone else.

My appreciation of every person as being unique and innately good, made me sought and believe in the undeniable gift that every human being can bring into this world- the gift of being their own authentic self.

But though inherently pure and innocent, we cannot deny the truth that as we grow old, our minds get corrupted, we get tempted, we grow frail, and of course, we retire, for good.  Often times we forget about these realities and wonder why people do hurtful things and make bad choices.  We get worried when we start to feel physically weak and we get drawn into the illusion that our strongholds will always be there, till they betray us or leave us.

A time will come when these truths will sink in and find their way to unsettle our steady hearts. Some realities we can change, and some we can’t.  And because not everything in our lives is perfect we have to take the good with the bad. When bad gets overwhelming, we have to start reminding ourselves of things that are actually working in our lives. Mastering this power will help us focus on what we have, instead of magnifying the things that we lack.

“Once I get that gold medal, I will be happy”.

“Once I get a raise I’ll be more passionate about my job” 

“Once I hit the lottery, I’ll be generous to every person I know.

“Once this sickness goes away, I will work to achieve my goals.”

“Once I have everything I could ever want, I vow to love everyone I meet”.

Conditions. We attached them to promises, to our purpose, and to our goals. But do these conditions need to be satisfied before we start doing the things that we know we’re supposed to do?  What if we remove them and declare that starting now,

“I will be happy”.

“I will be more passionate with my job”. 

“I will be generous to every person I know”.

“I will fulfill my dreams”.

“I will love all the people around me”.

Anything is pretty much doable, don’t you think? Getting rid of conditions we set for ourselves, rewards us with the freedom of making our own deliberate choices, regardless of our circumstances.  And that ultimately defines the person we become.

We can only go as far as we allow ourselves to go. So enough with conditions and excuses. The world doesn’t owe us anything. But we owe one thing to the world- – a better us.

Question.

What conditions have you set for yourself? How did it limit you in any way? What big decisions did you make? Share your thoughts. Love to hear from you.

Ride It Out

Yes, you heard me. There will be days when you’d feel like you’re not getting it. You feel slow, so behind, down, uninspired, even clumsy, and unsteady.  There will be days when you’d doubt yourself and your capacity, question your plans, and beliefs, or how you walk on this journey called life. Yes, the struggle is real. We have our highs and lows and sometimes we find it difficult to handle both.

In this amazing journey that we all share, it’s without a doubt that all of us are eternal students of a real-life university.  We stumble and make mistakes, and at times we reap small wins and victories too. It’s an exciting experience, at least, if you perceive it that way.

You see, we see the world through lenses that we choose to put on.  Some of us wear a pair of blurry ones, some too clear, and some are just about right. What do I mean?

I have met a lot of people who are either too negative or too optimistic.  I don’t judge, I’d tell you that. I’d take the person as he is and get to know him as time unfolds.  Talk about being a realist.

I wasn’t born a realist, but I think I became one as I navigated my way through pleasant and unpleasantness experiences.  If you’ve read past articles that I wrote, ( https://sundaewrites.wordpress.com/it-all-burned-down-to-the-ground/ , https://sundaewrites.wordpress.com/the-bitter-pill/, https://sundaewrites.wordpress.com/make-room/, https://sundaewrites.wordpress.com/closed-doors/),  I’ve shared an empowering question that most of us fail or fear to ask ourselves. The question of “What Now?”.

This sort of examination is so freeing and empowering as it gives us the courage to let go of what used to be, what we had or have lost in the past, and opens our eyes to the present along with the possibilities that are out there, things that we can hope for and realize. This brings me back to the first three words you’ve read in this piece- “Ride it out”.

Let these words sink in.  Yes, days can be difficult sometimes, just like the weather. But imagine yourself as water making your way through a river. Surely you will hit rocks but still, you’d flow your way around it. You go on and on, to wherever your strength could take you. 

Next time when you feel like you’re down and weak, don’t feel too bad about it. Don’t sulk in tears. If you must, allow yourself to cry or frown. Feel the feeling, experience it, but not for long. At one point you have to tell yourself, “That’s enough”. You have to pick yourself up and move on.  Others say, “Fake it ‘till you make it”,  but I say, “Fake it ‘till you BE it.- all in a positive context.  Emotion follows motion. Smile and leap instead of walk.  Trust me, you’ll be surprised by how different you’d start to feel.

Light up my friend. Never let a gloomy day or a losing moment, weigh you down too much or too long. It happens to everyone even to the best of the best. Life is too short to let yourself get stuck in that one moment forever. Again I say, ride it out!


The Bitter Pill

“Your mind and your heart is a battlefield.  You decide what wins, and who wins.”#sundaewrites

Disappointment.  It depletes your energy. It saps your motivation. It makes you think and do a lot of crazy things you wouldn’t have thought or done if you were in your happy state.

Remember the times you took out on people who have nothing to do with what you’re going through or the times when you’ve thrown in the towel and frustratingly exclaimed, “It’s over”? Crazy. Why? Coz often times we make decisions in the heat of the moment, in the height of our feelings.

Everyone has had experienced the weight of being let down. I have my fair share of it in different aspects of life- relationships, faith, service, work, even in the things that I do out of passion- music, and writing.  There would be people who would admire what you have or have accomplished but they never got to see the hard work you’ve put into it.  There would be times when your efforts are valued less, or go by unnoticed.  There would be moments when it would feel like, you’re hardly getting there not getting closer to your dreams or inching forward to what you want to accomplish.

Mind you, it’s tough. But that’s just how it is.  Yesterday you were happy, today you are sad, and tomorrow, you might find hope. The day after that you may feel invincible, the next day, you look at yourself in the mirror and say “What a total loser”.  Sometimes you may experience all these in one single day.  Take for example the old man who worries about money one morning, and wins the lotto in the evening. Just like that.  Or the day when you had a happy get together with friends, just to come home to news of a loved one’s death. Yes, just like that.

One struggling woman shared this beautiful “pick-me-up” kind of reminder that was passed on to her by her grandmother. It says, “Do your best with what’s in front of you and leave the rest to the powers above you”. Beautiful, sensible, comforting.  Indeed, we can only focus on one moment at a time. While the larger world moves around us at the very same instant, we can do something with what’s right before us.  After all, you’re only certain about this time Now, and not the time after that.

Our mind is a battlefield.  Oftentimes we already know what to do but it seems difficult to point ourselves in that direction.  That’s because we insist for things to happen the way it “supposed to”.  We find it hard to let go or we spend too much time asking “Why” and turn our back on the more important and liberating question of, “What now?”.   We’re stubborn like that, and we’re scared to move on.

Our heart is a battlefield too.  We should always guard and defend it from enemy invasion.  One thing I’m learning now is to cry my heart out to God about battles that I couldn’t defeat,  struggles that many people don’t know.  I always used to fix things my way. But not this time, not anymore.  When I surrender everything else to the powers above me, the weight on my shoulders is gone,  my heart is healed, my mind is clear. Then I can focus on what I can do best to what’s in front of me.  When frustration comes again, any time of day or any moment now, I just repeat this thought in my head, “Just do what you can now, tomorrow is another day”.

Hope this helps you get through your seemingly darkest days.  Always remember that you are not alone. There is still so much love in the world and so much love you can give to yourself.

James, Amelia and True North

Photo by Rushina Morrison on Unsplash

Too often, we fall into an all-or-nothing cycle with our habits.

The problem is not slipping up; the problem is thinking that if you can’t do something perfectly, then you shouldn’t do it at all.”

James Clear

This is by far the biggest, most relevant motivation I got this year.  

Why I’m like most people.

I struggle with motivation and discipline too. There are days when I get stuck and I can’t seem to find a way through. So I just stop and abandon things until I wake up one day wanting to pick them up again. 

That has always been the cycle. The only task I consistently show up to, is well, anything that relates to my day job. I’ve got to eat and pay bills. Apparently, that’s enough motivation to get myself to pull up a chair, open my computer and tick off tasks on my list soon as I get them done. But when it comes to personal things that I claim I’m passionate about, it’s always a journey through peaks and valleys.

Partially, I can justify my actions. When you write, you have to take a pause sometimes and allow real life to catch up. This is especially true when you draw inspiration from actual experiences you either went through alone, with others, or by people you get to talk to some days. So for the past 3 weeks, I did just that, live life and create experiences I can write about.

The Trade-Off

I sold the last piece of musical instrument I had. What gave me comfort is finding a home for these instruments in people I know will use and treasure them like I once did.

So goodbye my “Amelia”, my Ed-Sheeran signature divide.  

I must admit, life without music is dull. Listening to songs is entertaining but creating or producing pieces is pure joy. The week after I sold my guitar, a friend and I have covered two songs using karaoke music. Then the following week, I couldn’t help but buy myself a Ukelele. It’s fun to learn, it’s cheap, I can carry it around and play it anywhere, (even inside a food court)! It doesn’t attract unnecessary attention, which I like.

Days after, we covered “Emmylou” of First Aid Kit, the Ukelele is finding its way to my heart.

Back To Writing

After a 3-week hiatus I know I needed to go back to writing. Thinking about it while I was in the shower was already making me feel excited. Like music, writing, if it were a place, is my true north. Or, let me say it the other way. True north is anywhere I get to be alone with music and writing. Both activities settle my heart like no other. I know right between the notes and words my soul breathes like I’m fully alive. If only I could do these things forever without having to worry about putting food on the table.  

This is not to say I detest my job. In fact, I love it because it allows me to do the things that I love to do. I work to get paid to do the other things that inspire me to create and contribute to the art side of the world.

So James Clear, if you ever get to read this, thank you for the encouragement. Even if I do miss some days without writing or doing music, it doesn’t mean I need to abandon these interests. After all, these are two of the few things that make my heart beat, like I’m fully human.

As I find comfort in James’s words, I hope you find the grace and humility too, to pick up where you left off and finish what you started. Don’t even think you’re doing it for somebody. 

Do it for you. 

Do it because you want to. 

Do it because it’s important to you.