New Year…New Beginning… Fresh Start

 

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    ”Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most”-Buddha

Last day of January! Yes already!! January is the month of the year when most of us make New Year resolutions. Each January brings new hope for change, for a better world, for a better you. And I think this is wonderful. It gives us the desire to do better than we did the year before. It gives us a renewed chance to do what, for some reason or another, we could not do the year before. The New Year gives us another opportunity and we should make the most of it. Many of us will take this opportunity to set a new goal, to start a healthier lifestyle or simply be a better person. However, research shows that less than a quarter of us will accomplish our resolutions. Many of us tend to give up on our resolutions even before the Christmas decorations are down.  

Something to remember is that it takes 21 days to form and get used to a new habit. It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop. So let’s not give up at the first sign of failure. We have to carry on until our resolution becomes a habit.  

I have recently read about two things that I would like to share – Two things which I think is most important for starting the new year and before making our resolutions. They are: be happy now and learn to let go.  

Be happy now– Don’t make happiness the feeling you only have once you have achieved a certain goal or accomplished a project. Don’t look at happiness as the future. Be happy now. Whatever you are doing today, it is possible to find happiness in it. If you keep pushing it for later, it might never come.  

Let go – The only way to have a fresh start is to let go. Let go of any fears built up in the last year. Let go of any failures encountered in the last year. Let go of any guilt you’ve had. Let go of all regrets that you’ve had in the last year. Let go of last year and start fresh.  

Wanting change, wanting to make a resolution is a good thing. It gives us something to look forward to and to keep working towards. Even if some of us will not be able to follow them through to a 100 per cent, making the resolutions shows that we have the belief which is needed to be a better us.

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THE BIG 30

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Photo credit:Rayan

 

There is always an apprehension reaching a milestone age. It is something you look forward to with both expectations and uncertainties. I have recently turned 30 and many people asked me how it feels to be 30. So I decided to give it a thought. I realised that 30 does have a meaning and that is whatever meaning you choose to give it. I have decided for it to mean a celebration of achievements, of love and of self-worth.

Life may not always be the perfect picture but it does not have to be that way. Embracing the imperfections of life, the uncertainties that it carries is what gives a beautiful meaning to life. Meaning should not be measured by the highs and lows, it should be derived from all the moments in between and all the lessons we learn along our journey.

Here are 30 lessons I have learnt 30 years into my journey:

1.       Be happy now– Don’t make happiness the feeling you only have once you have achieved a certain goal or accomplished a project. Don’t look at happiness as the future. Be happy now. Whatever you are doing today, it is possible to find happiness in it. If you keep pushing it for later, it might never come.

2.       You do not have to do something big to make a difference. Do your little bit of good where you are and when you can; it’s those little bits of good put together that matter.

3.       Live the best story of your life. We only get one shot at this.

4.       Robin Sharma: when you are old, what you will regret most will be the books you did not read, the people you didn’t meet, the cities you didn’t visit and the ambitions you left undone. DO IT NOW.

5.       There is no need to get even…..rise above and do better.

6.       Good things and bad things will always happen in life. You just have to keep living and not stress over what you can’t control.

7.       Don’t be lazy and make judgments about people without knowing them. Ask about their stories. Listen and be open.

8.       Change comes from within…. Start with the person in the mirror.

9.       Don’t blame society. Always remember we ARE society.

10.   Being kind is sometimes more important than being right.

11.   Friends change in all phases of life. It’s normal and it’s ok.

12.   See the beauty in the sun, the rain, the butterflies, the trees and let them bring you a moment of peace.

13.   Find joy in the simplest things like your partner’s company or your baby’s smile.

14.   Your words matter. Think carefully because once they are out, you can’t take them back.

15.   Pain is inflicted but suffering is a choice. We cannot control what happens to us but we can control how we deal with it.

16.   Sometimes a job is just a job. We invest a great deal of time, passion, intellectual and emotional energy in our work. However, we often fail to realise that we all have potential beyond the job we do, the status we have and the salary we get. A job is just a job, we are much more than that.

17.   Perspective is a beautiful thing. The problem you are facing today, the thing you wanted but you didn’t get, the fight you are having today. All of it won’t matter 5, 10 or 20 years from now. It is often hard to see long-term when all you know and feel is the short-term but unless it is life threatening, try to let go and move on.

18.   Make that phone call today. Hear that voice on the other side. Tell that someone who you love. Tomorrow might never come.

19.   Sunsets are proof that no matter what happens, your day can end beautifully and sunrises are reminders that no matter how your day ended there is always a bright new beginning.

20.   You need to find your own inner sanctuary of peace. No one can do this for you.

21.   Do not fear changes. Sometimes you might be forced to continue your journey on a new path. There will certainly be obstacles on the way but you slowly come across better things – things that you would not have discovered or experienced otherwise.

22.   Be happy with your own life. Do not wish to be in someone else’s shoes, you don’t know their story.

23.   A goal is not always meant to be reached; it often serves simply as something to aim at – Bruce Lee  

24.   Do not hold other people responsible for the way you feel. Life is too short for the blaming game.

25.   Forgive does not necessarily mean forget. Sometimes it just means letting go and not giving someone else the power to disturb your inner peace.

26.   Believing that something could happen is the first step to achieving something.

27.   What we did yesterday and what we will do tomorrow are equally important but what we do today is what matters most.

28.   Don’t be in a hurry. Life is a journey not a destination.

29.   Love is not just a feeling; it’s a choice that you make everyday. Everyday we get to choose to respect, be kind to and support the one we love.  

30.   Finally, age is just a number. Don’t let your chronological age define the person you really are inside.

 

Our Beautiful Planet

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From where I live I see a beautiful sky full of stars. When I look up it feels so peaceful…it is so beautiful…and I think to myself what a wonderful world we live in. The universe has created something so beautiful. Something so complicated to our brains but yet so simple to our eyes.

And then we, humans, came into this mesmerising world. Nature gave us the brains to be intelligent enough to further develop what was already so advanced. All we had to do was appreciate what we have, love and protect one another and work together not as citizens of a certain country or certain race or religion but as citizens of our beautiful planet to protect it from any harm.

However, when I take my eyes off the sky and look back down, it breaks my heart to face the reality of what has become of our beautiful planet. It is heart-breaking to see what have become of us humans.

William Shakespeare’s Hamlet proclaimed “What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and admirable, in action how like  an angel, in apprehension how like a god!!” We humans are indeed a remarkable species. We have this seemingly infinite capacity to achieve great things, and yet our planet is filled with violence. We are the species who have created amazing structures like the pyramids, explored the surface of the moon and reached the depths of the ocean and yet we are the same species who are committing acts of murder, rape and waging global wars.

If we all instead use our intelligence, our energy and resources towards good causes, improving and protecting our planet and by doing so enhancing our quality of our lives, we can really make a difference. The planet belongs to all of us and we all have an equal amount of responsibility towards it. We can all make a difference simply by being considerate, being nice to one another, not polluting our environment, and living in peace and harmony. A.D Williams – Imagine what 7 billion humans could accomplish if we all loved and respected each other.

At the moment it feels like we are walking on egg shells unaware of when they are going to crack and if this continues we have to brace ourselves for a very difficult time coming our way.

I believe that if we give up on our planet, the latter will give up on us someday. And at that moment we, humans, will realise that we have wasted the opportunity we had been given to make this planet our beautiful world. But then it would sadly be too late.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Christmas brings back a lot of memories for me – the cold weather of the UK, the crowd of the shopping malls, the Christmas markets and the winter wonderland. Well here in Mauritius, we do not have the snow or the winter wonderland but we certainly have the Christmas spirit. We have, although on a much smaller scale, the same decorated malls and shops, the same crowd and the equally excited children.

Let’s face it, we all need a little bit of Christmas. We’ve all had a whole year of our own fair share of success or failure, happiness or distress, but at Christmas time we take a moment to forget everything and just have fun. Sometimes it’s hard as we grow older – With increasing responsibilities and work pressures, we tend to lose the wonderful spirit of Christmas. However, we all deserve to feel special at Christmas. So let us all restore our spirit of Christmas and I am sure we shall all feel special no matter what kind of a year we’ve had. So,

Let’s put up our Christmas tree

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My tree is up 🙂

Let’s turn on the Christmas tunes in the background

Let’s watch a Christmas movie

Let’s get out the house and feel the spirit around us

Let’s spend time with family and friends

And let us all have that special feeling once again and let’s have a wonderful Christmas!!

The home is often the most dangerous place for women and many live in daily fear of violence.

Whenever I encounter a problem in life, be it the littlest one, I always turn around and look because I know my husband will be right there behind me to support me. He will always have my back. I see in him someone who will protect me and love me unconditionally. Most importantly I feel safe. The naïve or I should say the ignorant part of me used to think that this is how every woman feels everyday. It breaks my heart to realise that this is not the case. Some women are physically and/or emotionally abused by the very person who was supposed to protect them.

There are a lot of misconceptions about domestic violence – it only happens to the minorities, the uneducated or lower class people. I must admit I had some of these misconceptions before it happened to some I know. Then I realised that domestic violence has no limit or barriers. It crosses all boundaries of wealth, race and culture. It can happen to the most beautiful person, the couple who seems so much in love or the ones who have everything in life. We cannot always recognise an abuser or even a victim in public. We cannot always know what happens behind closed doors.

Domestic violence happens towards both men and women. However, it is more often towards women and the main cause is unequal power which is unfortunately rooted in patriarchy that encourages men to believe they are entitled to power and control over women. It is more common that we think it is. According to a 2013 study from the World Health Organisation, at least 1 in 3 women will experience physical and or sexual violence in their lifetime.

Far gone are the times where women used to be submissive and considered inferior to men. Far gone are the times when society used to think it is ok for a husband to hit his wife. Or so I thought!!! I was shocked to read in a study by the United Nations that 603 millions women still live in countries where domestic violence is not yet considered a crime! Certain people still think it is ok and it still sometimes considered normal behaviour.

However, it is sad to think that even in countries where domestic violence is strongly outlawed, women still fear to come out. The reason is because such violence against women is often stigmatised and socially sanctioned. It is wrong to think that women choose to stay with their abusive partners because they like it. No one likes to be abused. Women stay for various reasons – kids, they think he will change, they think they cannot make it on their own, but also because of what people would say about them

You and I will never understand how it feels if we have never been through it ourselves. So who are we to say it is ok, who are we to say a woman should think of her kid first, who are we to say it is the woman’s fault and she should make it work? Who are we to say anything? A married woman (especially in the Indian community) is sometimes frowned upon if they leave their abusive husbands. Parent will sometimes advise their daughters to go back to their abusive husbands  ( give them a second, third, fourth or I don’t know how many chances!) because they fear that she will not find anyone else or no one will marry again. We need to understand that it is not about finding someone else, it is not about getting married again and it is certainly not about what people will say – It is about being happy, not living in fear for your life, it is about feeling free. These are every woman’s human rights!!! No society, culture or belief have the right to take these away from these women.

Domestic violence destroys everything – lives, dreams, happiness, confidence, self esteem… It is extremely difficult for a woman to be brave enough to take the decision to leave her abusive husband. We as a society should not make it any harder!

Is the grass greener on the other side?

Living in England, a city job that you love, earning good money – would you leave it all and start from zero on a small island. My husband and I did it and we haven’t looked back since. Some people say we were brave while some say we were foolish to do so. Although very content with our lives, my husband and I always knew we wanted more. So we calculated the risk and took the plunge. I am a law graduate and was working as an Adjudicator in London. My husband, H is a Marketing Manager and he was working for a well known chain of companies in the UK. I am a Mauritian national and my husband is British. We left our jobs and life in the UK and moved to my home country to settle. Taking the decision to leave our well settled life back in the UK was a hard one for both of us. However, for me it was nothing new. I was moving back to my home where I was born and spent my childhood – where my family is. For my husband it was a whole new experience in a foreign country where he doesn’t not even speak the language.

I have decided to share his story to help you make the decision for yourself, whether you want to move somewhere new for a while or for the rest of your life.

Dream Big

What kind of lifestyle do you want? What is your goal and how do you want to spend the rest of your life achieving it? These are the fundamental questions you should ask yourself . Back in 2013, H had everything in England – a nice Audi, a good job and the latest phone and gadgets (which even though available, are far more expensive in Mauritius). But he wanted more of life. he dreamed of a quieter yet more fulfilled lifestyle. He dreamed of a large house with a beautiful garden. He dreamed of spending the weekend relaxing in his outdoor swimming pool or playing with the dogs in the garden. Fast forward 2 years later he is doing just that. H who is a big fan and follower of Robin Sharma always tells me you should never fear to dream big. As Robin Sharma says If People Are Not Laughing At Your Dreams….Your Dreams Are Not Big Enough.

Plan Ahead and Don’t Give Up

Research everything – food, job prospects, climate, culture, education system if you have kids, social activities and so on. The most important of all – be optimistic. Be aware that there will be challenges awaiting you. According to his extensive research, H already knew that finding a job will be difficult. The reason being he does not speak a word of French. Although English is the official language of Mauritius, the main spoken language is French and a French dialect called Creole.

H sat at home for 4 months before finally landing a job as Marketing Manager. I gave up few weeks after arriving to Mauritius. I was not ready for the challenges and changes I had to face in the country I once called home. However, H, having had his share of difficulties and challenges in the past knew it well that he had to believe and keep going. He is a firm believer in the quote (by Robin Sharma of course!) – ‘When You Most Feel Like Giving Up Is When You Most Need To Be Keeping On’.

Make Sure You Have Enough Money

H had saved up quite a bit before moving. While it did not relieve the stress of being jobless for 4 months , it did help us big time. We were able to carry on even though none of us was earning anything. The harsh reality is that you will need more money than you think you need. We were lucky that we both found jobs within 4 months but it can certainly take much longer than that and unfortunately you have got to pay the bills somehow.

Find similar people

It might help to talk to and read about similar people who have made the move. H subscribed to an expat blog. It was a useful platform for discussing both the challenges and positive experiences encountered by the people who have moved to Mauritius from different countries. H gathered some useful tips from the blog. 

Sort out your immigration and visa

Gather as much information as you can from the Embassy/High Commission of the country you are moving to well in advance. Visa and immigration formalities can take ages!! Make sure all your documents are in order before you move. Facing immigration problems in a foreign country can be very distressing.

Finally… just enjoy the ride

Once you have made the decision to move, just enjoy the journey. Your life is about to change. Every change in life is an opportunity. Take it and use it to the fullest! We did and we continue to do so. For us it is the best decision we have taken in our lives so far. Today we can say we are living the dream or I should say we are living H’s dream.

H had a dream and a vision. He always tells me you should visualise your dreams. Write it down or draw it if need be – you need to be able to picture it in your mind. He did and we are living exactly what he visualised. I have managed to find a drawing he made years ago. He showed it to me one day and said – this is how I imagined our house one day. Years later, I still cannot get over the striking resemblance of the drawing to our house today.

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H’S DRAWING

 

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OUR HOUSE