Monday, October 20, 2008

Abundance: Female nature or nurture?

It’s official! The banks are cashing in us! It’s less about our pay checks and credit cards, and more about our nature. They love us because we’re women! It’s our innate ability to nurture, indelibly built into our nature that they want to tap into.

Bank research amongst rural women in the Far East and in Africa reveals that women who loan money almost always pay it back, on time. Not only do they honour their deals with the bank, they honour themselves and their communities by making the money go further. Often, women will naturally spread the spoils far beyond their nuclear family. The banks have picked up on this and so are targeting women as key drivers in their business.

Our nurturing qualities are renowned; after all, most women glide effortless through our various nurturing roles without thinking. We’ve probably been socialised that way and so we slot into pre-ordained spaces from corporate hot shot to wife, mother, sister, sista-friend – the list goes on.

But let’s be real. We love it too! Even though we sometimes stress over our (in)ability to cope, our heart swells at every nurturing opportunity we get. In fact, it feeds our soul! In the giving, we are also receiving.

So, if we are born with such fabulous rainmaking talent, how come most of us are still seeking abundance? Abundance is a slippery concept at the best of times, even more so when we’re faced with doom and gloom news about global economic meltdowns at every turn.

When you look back, how did our mamas raise families of eight or ten children on one or inconsistent income? It probably has much to do with creative money stretch strategies formed on pillars of love and faith that it would be enough.

Maybe it’s because we generally look outside ourselves for ways to create abundance as opposed to tuning into our female-essence as the key. As divinely gifted rainmakers, we possess incredible power to multiply whatever we touch. Seems though that the more we touch each other, the more abundance we’ll create. So, how far do we go in offering nurturing gifts in service of each other as women?

Now that’s power! Imagine what would be possible if we consciously cultivated abundance by caring, sharing and taking time to be with each other in nurturing spaces on a regular basis. Yes, we spend time together doing a range of every-day things that may nurture our immediate needs. But imagine what focussed nurture time could create?

It’s time for us to cash in on ourselves! The banks have seen the multiplier effect, have you? When last did you give thanks for your nurturing nature as one of the most potent forces of creation? Create nurture circles and invest in collective prosperity. It’s ours for the making.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Ubuntu: Movement of da people

When I think of random acts of kindness, I recall beautiful childhood memories when unexpected rainfall brought visitors to the house. They were not always known to us, often arbitrary people, taking shelter on my grandparent's porch while the rain passed. No permission needed. No one blinked an eye; it was the most natural thing in the world.

Thankfully, there are still places where such experiences are commonplace. After all, it's woven into our sinew, the need to give and receive and to really care. It's a basic part of who we are, isn't it? Such exchanges speak to love and simply being human.

Reclaiming humanity
The world is waking up to speedily reclaim what was rapidly becoming undervalued - our sense of community. Have you noticed how many movements are gaining momentum these days? As we read about the global slow food movement, do we heed the call to trash the quick-mix pasta sauces and cornmeal porridge in a microwave and swiftly return to savour rich aromas usually reserved for the Sunday table?

Some currently riding the wave in South Africa, the self-descriptive slow thought movement, and the moral regeneration movement, speak volumes about a growing need to redefine how we engage with one another, be it at home, at work or in our leisure spaces.

At one of the many Heritage Day events celebrated in South Africa on the September 24, the third Ubuntu Award was presented to retired Cuban President Fidel Castro. Created by South Africa's National Heritage Council, the annual award honours people who consistently embody humanitarian values which anchor the African philosophy of Ubuntu. Former President Nelson Mandela and Former Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda have also been recognised as beacons of ubuntu.

Ubuntu is notoriously difficult to explain in English without losing the nuance of the philosophy. Ubuntu principles are deeply rooted in a lifestyle framework where every person is knitted together in a behaviour code which upholds community and culture over individuality.

Essence of ubuntu
The essence of ubuntu emphasises hospitality, tolerance, appreciation and respect for one another. The spirit of Ubuntu is what anchors genuine acts of giving without asking, 'what's in it for me?'

What's in it for you and me is the chance to rescue our collective living values and reframe them in our everyday lives. It's an opportunity to move away from lifestyle trends that are fast eroding our soul. In placing humanity at the centre, we embrace the opportunity to revive harmonious relations with one another. So, yes, come join the Ubuntu movement where we chose 'we' over me, knowing that without you, I cannot be.

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Love: the body politic?

Who’s your best friend in this world and why do you love them? Is it because they’ve stood by you through some of life’s most exciting and challenging times? How do you express your appreciation for their friendship?

I did a quick impromptu poll around the room recently and everyone cited a person as their best friend. No one could begin to consider their body as their best friend. My body!?! I hear you cry in disbelief. Yes! Your body as your best friend - think about it.

Your body reflects everything you are feeling, going through and believe from deep within. When you live excessively, it shows. When you live a balanced, joy-filled life your body responds with super energy, great health and emits a magnetic glow that everyone notices.

You could say the body is a no-holds barred mirror that never lies. Can you truly say the same for any of your relationships with friends no matter how loyal? They love you yes, but they could never love you the way you could love yourself.

I know two people (living in two continents) who came to learn this simple truth through their amazing weight-loss journey. Both were vivacious, highly successful career women who had the world at their feet. Both decided they wanted to radically change their curvaceous body shapes. So, they lost over half their body weight and have, against the odds, kept it off. A success story on the surface but deep down, both devastatingly reveal they lost not only the weight but some of their ‘closest’ friends.

Their friends, who come packaged in various body shapes and sizes from and walks of life are united by a shared but muted desire. All of them, women, wanted to change something about their body. Only some however, were courageous enough to voice and reflect on their deep seated woes as the body shift they saw in their closest sista friends sparked uncomfortable and unexpected feelings of resentment. Others veiled the same issue as caring concern for health, not stopping to realise that they never showed such concern when their friends were double the weight and at increased risk of heart disorders, strokes, diabetes and the like.

As they saw their friends rapidly morphing into beautiful butterflies and becoming (in their eyes) even more successful, the friendships suffered strain. Through tear-filled eyes, both women caution that such responses were unforeseen and they have never felt so alone. Intense as it was, they came to the radical conclusion that nurturing their love for self and their bodies was the not only the catalyst that changed their friendships but ultimately, was also the only way to diffuse the pain.

So, to the question; statistics show that dieting is the highest ranked obsession for women over 25 years of age. We also know that over 95% of diets fail. Ever thought about the possibility of loving yourself slim as opposed to starting from a basis of rejection?

Think about how many times you’ve insulted, abused and hurt your soul by storing up heavy and negative emotions about your body. Would you do the same to your best friend?