Healing. Mindfulness. Discipline

In my Karibu 2021 post I mentioned that one of the things I decided to try out in 2021 is a Word of the Year and after much deliberation I settled on Discipline as my WotY.

In my letter to my mum on the third anniversary of her death, I said that 2020 was a really muted year for me and I am hoping for better and MORE in 2021. I have never had a WotY before but decided to try one out this year because I read that a WotY can set you in the right direction by bringing more awareness to your intentions, and help guide your decisions to continue moving towards what you want.

I started playing around with the idea of having a WotY towards the end of 2020 and I was initially leaning towards joy, happiness, pleasure and other words along those lines. I told the story of my mum’s 5 ½ year battle with stage IV breast cancer in 13 themes last year because even though she died on December 13, 2017 at 1:10 a.m., the battles lost are still worth telling. When I started the blog I committed to tell my mum’s story to comfort and inspire, but it turned out to be harder than I could have ever imagined and I often felt like I was reliving my mum’s slow demise all over again. That, together with the overall downcast mood of 2020, is why I was initially leaning towards words rooted in enjoyment for my WotY. None of the words I was toying around with felt nearly enough though because I did not just want joy/happiness/pleasure, I wanted MORE. Eventually I settled on vaibuu because the word, said exactly the way Savara says it, captures the essence of what I want for my 2021 vibe.

I started off the year in Diani on baecation with my incredible boyfriend and the four days we were there were major vaibuu and I came back to Nairobi confident my year would emulate my baecation vibes. And then I resumed work on January 11th and all hell broke loose because work was astronomically busy and only slowed down after Valentine’s Day. I had to postpone bringing the blog back by a month, a decision I did not make lightly and left me feeling like a failure. My hectic work schedule also resulted in me taking longer than planned to set my goals for the year. It has been years, maybe even a decade, since I set goals for myself at the beginning of the year as I usually set my goals/resolutions around my birthday. But 2020 kinda sorta passed me by and if I want to accomplish better and MORE this year it will be impossible to do so without setting any goals.

Work may have slowed down after Valentine’s Day but it is still exceptionally busy and will remain so for the foreseeable future. Additionally the goals I have set for myself are quite lofty and if I am to successfully juggle all the demands that come with being Valerie Lwile, the Media Director, and Lwile the Leo, the writer I will need to work harder than Beyoncé. Lol. At the very least I will have to emulate her work ethic and for me to do that I will need a shitload of discipline which is why it is my 2021 WotY.

Discipline may be my Word of the Year, but I technically have three Words of the Year: Healing, Mindfulness and Discipline.

  1. Healing

In my post 13.31 that I put up on my last day as a 31 year old, I shared 13 things I know for sure and one of them was healing from grief is a not linear process. I further elaborated on it in my Some Days. Other Days post that I put up 1,001 days after my mum died when I wrote:

Some days my grief is barely noticeable, like the sun hidden behind clouds on a rainy day. On those days there is even a rainbow in my sky as I go about life with genuine happiness in my heart and soul. I still think about my mum, but on those days my grief moves behind other things instead of always being in front of them. Other days my grief is like a toddler throwing a tantrum, not giving me a minute’s peace as it demands my undivided attention. On those days I breakdown and cry like it is December 13, 2017 all over again.

Healing from grief is a long, complicated, painful and deeply unique process that is difficult enough on its own. However in addition to healing from grief I am also on a journey towards mental wellness as I have three out of the five common anxiety disorders: Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). As you can imagine, life with one anxiety disorder is no walk in the park. Now imagine trying to find a way to live with not one, not two, but three anxiety disorders in a world where the love of your life does not exist. That combination is exactly why Healing will always be my first WotY.

2. Mindfulness

I had a session with my therapist in February last year and that was the first time she mentioned the term mindfulness to me. I had been seeing her twice a month since November 2019 by then so she was well-versed with my reasons for going to therapy.

There are several definitions of mindfulness but the one I resonate with most is from Greater Good Magazine:

Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, through a gentle, nurturing lens. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.

I fucking hate a lot of things about having anxiety but the thing I hate most is the overthinking it goes hand in hand with. Because of my anxiety I tend to worry about the future a lot and rehash the past even more. I also fixate on things that are out of my control, which only serves to aggravate my anxiety. My therapist believes that practicing mindfulness is integral for my healing as focusing my attention on the present moment will counteract all the worrying and rehashing that goes on in my mind. Practicing mindfulness will also help in quietening my mind as I have said many times before that the thoughts in my head can get really loud and I struggle to silence the noise.

The concept of mindfulness is very new to me and I have a lot of learning to do which is why it is my second WotY.

3. Discipline

Discipline comes from doing the very thing you keep praying for the discipline to do.
Iyanla Vanzant

If a goal without a plan is just a wish, then a plan without discipline is an even bigger wish. There is a lot of shit I want to get done this year on a personal level while still meeting the deliverables expected of me on a professional level. The only way I can make shit work on both ends is by the choices I make and my commitment to those choices, and that is where discipline comes in.

The essence of discipline is doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done even when you do not feel like doing it. I put up a post in 2019 titled Know Better. Do Better. Be Better about how many of us know better, but because we do not do better we end up not being better. More often than not the reason we do not do better is due to a lack of discipline because discipline is choosing between what you want now and what you want most. For example what I want now is to sleep, but what I want most is to write for a living. So as much as my bed is pleading with me not to leave, I must get up and write because my goals will not accomplish themselves. Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.

I understand all too well that it is not always easy to be disciplined, but you are not always going to be motivated to get shit done so discipline must carry you when motivation leaves the chat. My determination to be disciplined this year is why I took a weed break on 21/2/21. I am not sure how long the break will last because initially I wanted it to be all of March and April, but then I remembered 420. I have never missed a 420 since I started smoking up and you can be very sure I am not about to start now. I am yet to decide if the break will resume after April 20th but lucky for me I have more than a month to make up my mind.

If you have a WotY or are inspired to come up with one now after reading this post, I would love to hear from you so do let me know in the comment section.

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