Tuesday 3 January 2017

2017: A year for new beginnings (reflect, remind, refine)


... To these damn mosquitoes, but also in disbelief that 2016 is now in the past. I have made a conscious decision to look at 2017 as the year to be a better ME.

Being a teacher, one has to really stay organised (people's versions/definitions of this may differ). Essentially, one has to have a system that will assist in keeping things in a state of order, without being a pain in the brain. For this year I decided to collate  organiser and calendar pages into a personal diary/planner to be used for home and school. I will list the websites/sources of the different templates in my next post where I elaborate on my plan for organisation this year. I also decided to get those large erasable year calendars to basically remind myself of my husband's work schedule, important dates, etc.

I have come to 're-realise' that maintaing a sense of order is necessary if one wants to remain calm and if one wants to perform optimally. Reflecting back on 2016, there are many things that I would improve on, do differently altogether, and definitely kick myself about. Oh well... That's life hey! No time for regrets but lots of time for reflecting, reminding and refining. This is my new motto for 2017: REFLECT, REMIND, REFINE.

Whether we believe it or not, we all reflect. The level and depth of reflection is what differs. When we reflect we think about certain things, the causes, the consequences, the highs, the lows, the falls, the blows, the journey we are on. Whilst doing this we are in a state of reminding ourselves that we are in fact in control of how we view things, react to things and learn from things. We remind ourselves that what happened/happens is all part of the universal plan of constant change. We are all evolving beings, yearning for fulfilment and purpose. And so, with reflecting and reminding ourselves of these things, we consciously either make the decision to refine or not refine our attitudes, behaviours and actions.

I have always been a perfectionist (to a certain extent), overthinker and procrastinator. It started as early as primary school where I would change my handwriting almost on a daily basis because I was upset with myself because my 'a' or 'e' just did not look right. I hated it when my pen would smudge. I would then take/ tear out that page and restart the note or exercise. At high school I did the the same. When I got to university, things got messy. I had to think fast, take notes quickly, follow a hectic timetable, work as an assistant at university, go to mosque to unwind during some of my free periods, and eat, eat, eat. This is where I found out that I was actually very creative and that people thought I was helpful to them (hahaha). It was here that I actually realised why students 'let go' and experiment when they get to university. Perhaps it is because you are now on your own, you are responsible for your actions, there are very few expectations that the people around you set for you so you have to grow up quickly and set your own. You have  to do what you have to do to get through all your modules for the semester/year. Here time is money, module is money. 

Somehow many mainstream  primary and high schools and the  way our parents rear us (in some cases) cause us to suppress our actual selves and our innate creativity. No disrespect to any parents and the way they do things, but without parents knowing, in the process of 'moulding' their children and 'teaching' them the 'right' way to do things, they could in fact be stunting personal growth/ development. This might not be the case of everybody but is certainly the case of many people. Conformity does not equate discipline. Reminders and motivation in all spheres of life are much more effective. Often when parents set certain behavioural expectations (very different to basic/general good manners or etiquette) for their kids it is because they are afraid that their children are going to be different to the 'norm'. After all, "My word... What are people going to think or say?"

At a spiritual workshop I attended last year, one of our leaders in the congregation had a Q&A session. One lady asked about/complained about her adult child/children that do not attend congregational gatherings anymore like they used when they were with her as ' younger children'. The speaker responded very humbly and said something like this: "I have similar struggles with one of my kids, but we must remember as parents that we can't always control what our kids are going to do or expect them to still do things the same way when they were younger. But what we must remember and what is most important is that while we reared them that at least we planted 'that seed' in them. God guides them. We must just remember that the seed was planted and whatever they do and whenever they come around is not in our hands." This, to me, was a profound lesson. As a teacher and young parent, it is very relevant. It also affirms that there is no such thing as perfect parenting/ parents. Many parents assume that a rigid upbringing/ rigid discipline methodology will ensure law abiding and religious/ saintly people. It often has the opposite effect. We are human beings, not robots. We cannot be programmed to do certain things in certain ways and expected to follow through perfectly every single time. We have different personalities, different ways of thinking, different belief systems, and different emotional intelligences. This is why the levels and depths of our reflecting and refining processes are so different. Doing this post is a method of reflecting for me, and I can re-read it as a reminder. When I have consciously questioned and looked at myself, I will then refine my attitude and actions. As Maya Angelou has said: "Do the best you can until you know better. And when you know better, do better."

I have decided to take action this year to be a better me, to do my best for myself and others and to be thankful.

The quotes that I receive daily from a inspirational man, motivational speaker and businessman, Jamaaludeen Khan, are good reminders and worth reflecting on. The few that stood out the most for me were:

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