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Decluttering May Be Underrated

You probably always experience a feeling of relief when you complete an activity that has been on your mind or on your to-do-list, for some time. The relief that came upon me after I did some decluttering, this week, has been one of the main highlights of my week.

I got rid of both heavy and light university textbooks that I no longer needed, some of which I used back in my 1st year at university; in the process of re-organizing my room, I was able to make space by removing things that were no longer of value to me and some things that I knew that I would never use (e.g. manuals and tutorial CDs). These activities took time and were not easy to get done, however the after-effect of more space brought so much joy to me. Plus, the twist of the organizing process was how it pointed my mind to why decluttering is necessary not just in our homes, but also in our lives.

As human beings, we often practice decluttering (though we may not use that word. I never did till now:)), in our lives and in our relationships with people, including family members. At a point, you decide to stop asking a particular person for advice, you decide to stop going to unwind at a particular place e.t.c The happiness that I got from the decluttering that I did in my apartment, reminded of how happiness is sometimes the outcome when I practice decluttering in my relationships with people and essentially, in my life. Negative and fair-weather friends; your own tendency to stay at places that do not bring you joy; your tendency to patronize a particular store with bad customer service; your tendency to think negative and act negatively to people and so on – need a re-organization. In life, we constantly need to go through re-organizations because we continually meet new people; life brings different situations some of which can change our mindset and we become negative people at some level(s).

How can you declutter in your life? You can reduce the time that you spend with people who often hurt you with negative words and doubt, that is, if you cannot completely cut them off (especially, family members) by not picking their calls and by not contacting them; explore other stores that offer the service that you visit the bad-customer-service store for; when bad situations hit, try as much as you can to start doing those things that make you happy and talk to those positive, uplifting persons who are close to you.

Not allowing people’s negative words and actions easily get to me, and trying to stop making wrong meanings of things that people said or did without meaning to hurt me are major declutter tasks that I have been tackling for some time and I am finally making progress, especially with the former.

What are some declutter tasks that you are completing/have completed on yourself and with regard to your relationships? Let me know!:)

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Love,

Chiamaka.

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The Inevitability of Struggle & Where Your Powers Come In

Don’t you just admire people who seem to be in love with themselves and life? I certainly do. I admire people who seem to be portraying no one but their genuine self, even if I can’t fit into all the features of some of these individuals. I am scared to have a permanent tattoo or more piercings asides the ones I got as a baby. I am not bold enough to use some specific colours on my hair (I dye my hair blonde. I can’t dye it blue or pink, for example). However, I observe with awe, people who have and are wearing such features with confidence and some sort of infectious happiness. 

While nobody has it easy in life, you can control the tides sometimes. Especially when you make keeping yourself happy a top priority.

My self-confidence and content with myself took a sharp dive, last year. Luckily, I started strengthening myself by sticking to the things that make me happy and also, by searching for new ways to be happy.

It is important to be mindful of what makes you happy and be faithful to that thing because when the tide of depression, rejection, negativity, heartbreak and/or financial instability e.t.c – in summary, the tide of unhappiness, comes running, you need a plan B to shift your focus. I continue to discover people and things that make me happy and I am determined to stick with them. Since tides are an inevitable feature of life, I am learning to deal with them better.

One of my approaches is – trying not to judge others on the basis of my own life. As human beings, we tend to do so. I am learning and trying to listen better in order to understand people’s constructive criticism and harmless comments which I may normally take to heart, in a negative way. As it is great to humble yourself and take correction, advice and even jokes, it is also necessary to learn how to deal with negative people. My sister, Ebele Mogo, once told me – Don’t let people transfer their negative energy to you.

That statement continues to be at the back of my mind. There is no doubt that when people choose negativity, their words and actions hurt, but their negativity is not for you to bear. Negativity is like a communicable disease, it spreads easily. So, you have to prevent it from getting to you.

I acquired another approach to dealing with tides after reading the following sentence in Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project, this week – “And rumination—dwelling on slights, unpleasant encounters, and sad events—leads to bad feelings.” In summary – let go.

I choose to control life’s tides by being mindful of the people and things that boost my happiness and by sticking to the tips that I have gathered so far, on how to be patient with people and to avoid negativity from sticking with me. My advice is that you do same. 

Tell me, what are some happiness tips that you have? I will love to know!:) 

Love & Peace,

Chiamaka.

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The Friendship Challenge

I have written a post on happiness before. In that post, I mentioned that one of my major happiness boosters is spending time with friends. My conception is that many people feel that way about having quality time with friends too. Making new friends also helps to foster happiness. As we maintain already built friendships, we should look for ways to make new friends too. Never feel like you do not need more people in your life unless the people that you have been meeting have characters that you find repelling. Being that I have a strong passion for social justice and entrepreneurship, I am determined to connect with people who share my interests, on social networks; go out to more events when I get back to Canada from my summer-long vacation and of course, be more outspoken about my interests. My aim is to meet people who share my interests, and build a friendship with such people. Also, by being more social I will have more sources of happiness added to my life. So, I encourage everyone to be well involved in their community and in life in general. However, make sure that you do not overcrowd your calendar with extra-curricular activities, even though they are useful. If you fill up your calendar with too much extracurricular activities in the midst of your daily tedious schedule, what should be fun would become stressful. Earlier this week, my friend, Jemmy, gave me a task which I have named The Friendship Challenge. She wrote: “I’m giving you an assignment: one new name by the end of the week”. “Hang out in common places and say hi! Should be an interesting experiment”. I was skeptical about it for a bit, then I thought it was a good challenge. I hate to be negative on this, but I don’t know how well I am going to fair on the “experiment” as I am in a new city for the summer, I don’t know the area well and using the pubic transport often, will cost some money. However, with the Friendship Challenge, I am determined to meet at least one new person every week. This challenge has given me somewhat of a happiness boost. I am transferring The Friendship Challenge to you too. The only exception is that you do not have to report to me. However, make a goal to speak to at least one new person by the end of every week. The person may not seem interested in following up with you, but give it a try. Give new friendships a try!

My Question For You

Have you ever had to do a Friendship Challenge? If yes, what was the experience like?  

Love & Peace,

Chiamaka.    

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Do You Ever Burn The Black and The Grey?

A 9am to 5pm job, schoolwork, family responsibilities are just a few examples of the many useful things that we focus on so much that we make them seem like bad things. We focus a great deal on such things that we forget about balance. We forget to make time to unwind –  work-out, have a good laugh at the movies, have a good time with friends, explore the city that we live in, we may even forget to make time to cook, e.t.c. However, we should not forget about such things and the likes of them that lighten the inevitable hard work and persistence that come with living. When you balance your life by making time to both work and play, you give yourself room to de-stress and be a happier person. Get a gym membership, join a sports team, join a book club, register for a fun volunteer job in your community e.t.c. Good planning is a great way to ensure that you are living a balanced life. Plan what you hope to accomplish each day and within each daily schedule, make sure you set out time to relax. Don’t fill your whole schedule for a day, with work. Making time to eat is not the same as making time to rest. Another key to achieving a balanced life is to believe that you deserve to be happy. Really, you do! While it’s great to work your best to make a name/a living for yourself, and also to maintain order in the household, it is not good to not have a plan B for when our positive goals tweak us. When we don’t have a plan B, we get stressed at failed plans and our mood easily becomes overcome by such failed plans. Rest when you feel like it. Don’t rest or have fun only when your plans get perfect. Gradually work together with your family members to make things right when there are problems. Never lose hope in success. Make plans to ensure that you are living a balanced life. Do away with the dullness of doing the same thing over and over again. Time will sort things out. If something doesn’t work out today – tomorrow, next week, next year holds hope.

My Questions For You – What do you do to balance your life? – If you have ever been at a stage where you did not make enough time to have fun, how did that feel? Let me know!

Love,

Chiamaka.  

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Nadya Kwandibens; Touring Canada To Shatter Stereotypes Through Photography

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Pictured above: Nadya Kwandibens

The negative portrayal of Aboriginals by the Canadian media and sometimes, by members of the Canadian public is something that has been of great concern to me. So also have been other forms of mistreatment of Canada’s Indigenous peoples. Yesterday, I had a Skype interview with popular Aboriginal-Canadian photographer, Nadya Kwandibens. What got me interested in interviewing her was the nature of her job – Nadya tours Canada capturing happy, beautiful and very impressive images of Indigenous communities. Ms. Kwandibens’s images are in great contrast from the sad representations of Aboriginals that are promoted by the Canadian public. Aboriginals are usually portrayed as people who are not peace-seeking, constant irrational complainers, and as people who possess a culture that hinders them from progressing. I am so glad that I got to interview Nadya. I love that she has moved out of her comfort zone to deconstruct very harmful stereotypes. Here are the excerpts of my interview with Nadya: – Tell us a little about yourself I am 35 years old. I am Ojibwa. Originally from Northwestern Ontario – a small reserve called Northwest Angle thirty-seven. About an hour South of Kenora. However, I moved to British Columbia(BC). Right now, I am on tours. I will be on the road for a month and a half or so, not as long as the tours that I have done in the past. I run a photography company called Redworks Photography. It is a dynamic touring photography company. I am on the road for pretty much most of the year. – When did you establish Redworks Photography? I founded it in 2008. – Before then, did you use to tour or it was after you started the company that you began to tour? Really, how it all began was I started doing portrait photography. Up until then, it had only been a hobby. It was about a year or so after I started doing portraits that I began professionally shooting in 2006. So after about a year and a half or so, that’s when I started touring. I thought, you know, the only way to get more exposure and get my work out there is to travel. So I have been pretty much travelling ever since. – I have seen your website – http://www.redworks.ca . You take a lot of positive images of First Nations communities in Canada. You capture a lot of happy moments and really lovely images that will just give one positive energy by mere looking at them. You capture the kinds of moments that the media fails to show the public. You tour around Canada too. I want to know what inspired you to take on this kind of job? All the imagery that we were subject to while we were growing up, the native history – and that is not very positive and in the news and all that, seeing our stories and they are not portrayed in a positive light. It’ s all very negative – focusing on protesting and all that sort of trials and tribulations coverage that our people are always getting. Just looking at that overall and then thinking to myself, there is something that my art can do to help shed a more positive light on who we are as so many diverse Nations across Canada and even in the States too. I always come back to my artist statement. It’s on my website. – Have you experienced any challenges with your job? Yeah. Pretty much wherever I shoot. I don’t shoot in studio. One of the reasons Redworks was called Redworks studio at a time was because the intention I had was to actually open a studio in Toronto. I just travel so much and I love travelling and pretty much all of my shoots that I do are improvised, so there is the challenge in that and I really love shooting with natural available light. I don’t travel with big lighting kits. It’s just me and my camera. Another challenge I guess with being on the road is just, I guess, finding time for yourself. That would be the main challenge. Although, it’s become easier over the years. This is my seventh year of touring.  – You are really experienced at travelling. From all your experiences, what are some exceptional things that you have noticed about Canada? Like, is there a particular city that has an awesome landscape or maybe there is the best city to get waffles at? Hmmm … Well, BC is beautiful. It would be one of the most beautiful provinces I have ever been to. As far as different must-dos or must-haves in each city, I am not sure. – I have your vision statement here and I am actually going to read the part of it that I really like (and I saw a part of it in your recent CBC interview). It’s: “If our history is a shadow, let this moment serve as light. We are musicians, lawyers, doctors, mothers and sons. We are activists, scholars, dreamers, fathers and daughters. Let us claim ourselves now and see that we are, and will always be great, thriving, balanced civilizations capable of carrying ourselves into that bright new day.” That’s just beautiful. How did you come up with that? I am not sure where it came from. I was just really moved by how thriving and vibrant our Nations are and how much you don’t see that and for it to be partly poetic, I guess, is just how I write and how my personality or spirit expresses itself . A lot of people really connect with the statement. – What encouragement can you give to fellow Aboriginal-Canadians who are also interested in correcting the stereotype? I always say, “just go for it”. You have this life here, it’s important to go for it. Put away your fear. Once you think something and you put an idea out there, there is always people or situations that will come together to make it happen for you.

How To Contact Nadya Website: http://www.redworks.ca Twitter: @_RedWorks

Love,

Chiamaka.

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Why Happiness Deserves Your Hard Work

Each person has things that make him/her happy that differ from another individual’s picks. Every one wants to be happy but most times we do not focus on that goal. We let a lot of things take over that need. Sometimes we let people’s hurtful words, their jealousy or their uncouthness divert our attention from that top priority that is – being happy. Happiness is also left hanging on the edge when we desire money over the former. An academic advisor at the University of Ottawa told me something that has made him one of my best people forever. He told me: Do what makes you happy. I took that advice and I am not regretting doing so. That advice applies to every sphere of life. Don’t take a job that you don’t enjoy just because it pays well. Go find that job that you are actually passionate about. Make effort to be happy. Happiness not only makes you feel better, it makes you do better. Also, happiness will make you be the best person that you can be to others. The truth is everybody needs some positive actions from other people to boost their own happiness. I consider happiness to be a dream because it feels good to be very happy, but then, honestly, the feeling of happiness is inconsistent. However, we can avoid stressing over those things that are not worth compromising our joy, our happiness, for. I have been on that journey to get immune to certain annoyances, for a while now. Last year, I was speaking with my elder sister on the phone and I was telling her of my plan to be going out for dinners with friends very often. At that period, I was having frequent bouts of depression. I have made improvements now. Back to my point … I went further to tell my sister that sticking to my new plan would be costly, then I added: I don’t mind spending a lot of money. I just want to be happy. I did not have a lot. Trust me! However, I did not mind spending a great deal from the ‘just enough’ that I had. Happiness was my goal. That plan helped me very much. Every week, I would have a friend(s) that I will be meeting with for breakfast/lunch/dinner. I would take the effort to search for the restaurant to go to; I would plan where my friend(s) and I should meet at before we headed to the restaurant. My efforts were not in vain, I always had fun each time I executed my happiness plan. Happiness is a selfish emotion. It does not stick to anyone for too long, but there are ways to avoid staying out of touch with it for too long. I will share with you personal tips that have helped me grab a hold of happiness and sometimes, they have helped me hold it captive for a good amount of time. Here you go: – Stop looking down on yourself. Appreciate the person that you are now and the better person that you will become as time goes on. – “Do what makes you happy”. Really! In my case, I love going out with friends, hanging out with my sister and dancing. I also enjoy travelling. I like being an entrepreneur-in-training. Find your own passions and stick with them. – Don’t reply every insult or sarcastic statement that is directed toward you. – Don’t send an email to someone when you are still angry at that person. Give yourself some time to lighten up, so that you can express yourself in a peaceful manner, while still trying to send across your message. – It is better to call someone than to send a text message to that person when you feel that the message might be interpreted to mean something contrary to your intention. – Exercise often. People who exercise often tend to be happy and energetic (so no time to lie around and drown in sadness!). – Go out often, and try to make new friends when you do. – Distance yourself from people who make you doubt yourself. – Do things that will help others to be happy as well. Here is a quote that I learnt about from the book that I am currently reading called, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin: “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.” – Aristotle I hope you put those words at the back of your mind. You deserve happiness and you need to put in effort to attain it.  

My questions for you

– What makes you happy?

– What are those things that you are going to get rid of, so that you can be happy more often?

Wishing you lots of happiness!

Love,

Chiamaka.  

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