Committing To Life

Committing, Celebrating and Growing through Life


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The Art of Reflection

One year is a very long sabbatical and I can safely say that “Committed 2 Life” took a ‘365 day’ reflection. Going forward the format will be slightly different and the content a little more robust. After countless questions of when I will be blogging again throughout 2014, I had to break the fast in the new year.

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
― Søren Kierkegaard

It is absolutely essential that we take a moment to sit back and introspect. Introspection simply means to look within and understand the mechanisms that make us, as well as the thought-processes that drive our actions and feelings. It is incredibly difficult to do this while you are going through say, a very difficult time or while you are nursing wounds. So upon exiting a cloudy/exciting/jubilant moment – take a second to recollect yourself.

I love Mondays. I love Mondays as much as I love New Years’ Day. Why? It is the perfect moment to begin anew, re-strategize, re-do and improve. Anyone with goals and aspirations understands the importance and significance of time. It is segmented into sections for a reason – to assist us in managing our lives, help us to plan and to manage our goals in what I call bite-sized pieces.

Have a look at companies: not only is the performance of a company segmented into ‘Financial Years” to measure performance and manage resources but it is also divided into quarters to breakdown strategies into manageable and measurable areas. How much more efficient would we be if we ran our lives similarly (with flexibility of course)?

Before we move into constructing our SMART (Simple, Measurable, accurate, Realistic and Time-Bound) life goals, we need to reflect a bit and understand where we just came from, what we did right and what we can improve on. So I came up with this exciting idea of a reflection chart and will be sharing it as soon as I am done. So as you start the year let’s start with these reflective questions, you can write them in a notepad, the first page of your diary, a huge whiteboard or whatever tickles your fancy:

1) What did I do right in the previous year and what type of attitude did I carry during those moments?
2) Which goals did I fail to achieve in the previous year and what went wrong?
3) Which major goals did I have in the previous year that I achieved, that I am proud of?
4) What were my major mistakes in the previous year and what did I learn from them? What type of thought-process/attitude should I adopt to not make them again?
5) What were the 3 major lessons learned in the previous year that have contributed to the betterment of my character?

These five simple questions are essential in that not only can you get a moment to actually celebrate your successes but you will get a chance to take heed of lessons to be learned. You can finally get a grip of what you can continue to do well and what attitudes to work on improving. It is only through reflection and understanding the journey walked that we can have a clearer grip on the steps we take next. I’d love to hear your thoughts and you’re free to share on the above questions.

Remember, in order to grow we need to be self-aware and the only way to be self-aware is to constantly reflect. Wishing you a splendid new year. 🙂

“The un-examined life is not worth living.” – Socrates

With Love,
Candice Mncwabe


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Passion and Resilience

Most people are wrapping up the year and jetting off on holiday with immense relief and excitement. I can’t say I share these feelings though. Sure, I am relieved that I can rest, but I am also quite awe-struck by the fact that the year is actually over. I feel like pressing a rewind button and reliving some moments, doing things differently and taking notes from every experience. I am actually more stressed now than I was when the year began and actually quite overwhelmed by everything I have gone through. This is largely related to my absence on my blog as I have literally come out of a whirlwind of activities, challenges and introspection.  

Reflection. This is such an integral part of our journeys on Earth. I feel that we cannot advance to the next level without fully understanding the implications and lessons of the present moment. Luckily life is divided into edible portions that we can measure ourselves on; useful start and end points that we can leverage off. Each year should be a benchmarking process for our potential and progress. Socrates said: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” So go on, examine, test, measure and rate your progress.

For students, the measuring point could be your academic progress. As a student myself, I know the feeling of exam pressure and the even greater pressure of awaiting your results and I cannot help but feel we always get what we deserve; what we worked for; what we have earned. What is your goal? Do you know your potential? If you are an ‘A grade student’ then why are you ‘just making it’ with Cs, What can you do to change this? Do you actually want to achieve better? These are questions we should always present to ourselves. Aristotle said excellence is a habit, so academic merits are that too.

As a working woman I also understand the tension and challenges of the working environment. Did you truly give off your best this year? Are you proud of the way you handled difficult situations at work? What can you do to become a better employer/employee? Quite often, we look for external factors that hinder us when in reality the biggest variable that we can control is ourselves.

So the biggest lesson I have learned again is resilience: my favourite word. ‘Going from failure to failure with the same amount of enthusiasm.” We should never lose our desire to learn, grow, advance and become better.

I have been thinking a lot about adding value which I have decided to save for my next blog post because I feel that now is actually the time to do some introspection and rate ourselves, without the influence/opinion of others but just the real and honest internal voice called truth and reason. I feel like there is so much untapped potential that we are not harnessing and if we start getting to know ourselves we can relinquish the fear of finding and releasing it. The greatest successes are built on passion, resilience and honesty. I hope that as we wrap the year we can all offer ourselves the opportunity to look back, reflect, celebrate our successes and formulate plans on improving on our failures. Dedicate yourself to every area of your life that makes you ‘you’: family, work, academics, health, spirituality etc. Delve into each sphere and observe yourself and how you can offer more and better of who you are. Whether it is through a book, workshop, a chat, meditation, prayer, food etc. never neglect to enrich yourself and build a better and valuable you.  

Happy Holidays! 🙂

With Love,
Candice Mncwabe


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Cold Wars

“I’ll tell her that I know what it’s like to drag a woman out of a Cold War and then being to worn to clean up the battlefield it has made of her.” – Jasmine Mans (Dear Ex Lover)

Definitely one of my favourite artists (poets) and definitely one of her most potent poems I’ve heard. ‘Dear ex-lover’ may be a poem written about abandoned hearts and lost love but I feel like its meaning transcends all sorts of life’s facets: Ex-dreams; ex-failures; ex-victories; ex-companions; ex-courage; ex-pain; ex-scars. Remnants of our sanity left scattered after long cold wars that leave us too scared to embrace any warmth or even believe in the soft embrace of hope.

How often do we find ourselves crawling from our life’s battlefields left so worn out that we lose the will and strength to clean ourselves up and embrace a new season? This thought hit me weeks ago when Spring began and I thought back to a year ago and where I was emotionally and mentally and I thought ‘damn, my how things change.’ I thought to myself, how beautiful is it that the sun rose one morning to signal the beginning of Spring and we swiftly forgot how cold it was a week ago? I was overwhelmed and amazed by how beautifully synchronized nature is and how everything really has a season. It sparked more thoughts in my mind about a topic I like to delve in a lot: healing. I thought about the terrible Winters I had once been immersed in, the cold wars I had struggled with for years until I accepted the end and whether it was a victory or not, I had survived and I had to clean myself up for peace and a fresh start and that’s all that mattered.

I am a reflector by nature and a prude analyst (which sometimes isn’t so good) but as Socrates said “An unexamined life is not worth living.” So I track my emotions, responses and thoughts all the time and somehow I did see a change in things. I had decided to raise my white flag and accept my scars as the warm sun rays warmed the rifles I carried through my darkest hours, turning them into heavy keys to unlock the shackles of my Winter.

So what I am trying to say is that as ‘feelers’, us people who write, know what it is like to go through all sorts of life’s trials and lessons. We know what it is like to fight, kill mercilessly just to survive, flee when it is dangerous and emerge out of hardships that fall incessantly like raindrops in a hard storm and wonder if we will ever ‘live’ again and if life will ever offer us another Spring. Sometimes we remain so closely attached to our hardships that we do not know when it is time to get clean, put on some blusher and allow our cheeks to be kissed gently by new beginnings. I admire strength in human beings but we can never remain in ‘fight mode’ even when it is time for us to transform from bullets into butterflies. Yes you are too worn but you are still breathing – your life is worth another take, another chance, another scene.

What I have learned is that as tough as it is sometimes we may block our own sunlight because we have married the darkness that was never committed to us in the first place. Release yourself from your Winter and acknowledge your ‘exes’ – your ex-dreams, failures, disappointments, negative thoughts, failures etc. Acknowledge them, take in the lessons and move on to your new season.

It is not about adopting an idealistic view but it is about letting go of what needs to be let go and accept what needs to be received and allowing what needs to begin to commence in your life.

None of us has been predestined to a lifetime of darkness or hardships. Find one thing that you love and is worth living for and let it give your legs strength to accept that your time to shine and be fuelled with passion and light has come then run.

Have a splendid week and Happy Spring 🙂

QUOTE: “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery because none but ourselves can free our minds.” – Bob Marley


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The Modern Warrior Woman

On the 16th of August I attended a “Women in Leadership Conference” hosted by the Bertha Gxowa Foundation at the Wits Business School. The aim of the evening was basically to highlight the female freedom fighters of South Africa, the unsung heroines, and to challenge us modern women to take heed of the lessons they left us with and to continue building our societies.

Being an ignorant and naïve young woman I have always detested politics and politicians. However, after the brief time (2 hours) of relearning about the history of our country and the work that female freedom-fighters put in, in order to grant me the freedom of sitting in that chair and sip sparkling wine in the auditorium, I was humbled. Truth is, we may hate politics but it is necessary. It is much like the church – it has a deep and integral importance despite it being flawed and tainted by certain individuals.

What hit me the hardest was that I had to wait 23 years to hear about my fellow ‘mothers’ that stood brave and determined in paving a clearer path for us. Why is it that we do not learn about individuals that will empower and inspire us as women at school? Would the situation of the moral decay and lack of sufficient self-respect of our women in our societies be any better if we at least knew that we came from a place of greatness; a place of courage; one that was driven and sustained by truly intelligent women? As young seeds we should be nourished and taught about our value and the foundation that was built for us years ago when our existence was a mere dream.

I was utterly grateful for the friend that invited me to the event instead of suggesting we ‘go out for drinks’. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good cocktail and the frequent glass of wine but I love nourishing my mind and building myself equally. To be in the presence of the graceful and intelligent Yvonne Themba (Human Capital Director of Shanduka) and learning about the ‘African Agenda’ – Peace, Prosperity, Stability and Equality – was truly inspiring. We live in a selfish society of greed and envy – who can climb up the highest and flaunt it the most? The issue of upliftment and sustainability is a foreign concept to my sisters and it is a shame. Sure, we could once again blame our education system for not grooming us and instilling the knowledge of the phenomenal females that helped build this country but then again we are intelligent enough to dig deep and question who is in charge of building tomorrow since we have been granted a today filled with so many opportunities.

Gauteng Premier, Nomvula Mokonyane, mentioned something so interesting called the ‘first black woman syndrome’. It has actually just become a race of who can be the first, best and most glorified black woman in [insert industry/profession]. I always bring it back home and tell my close friends that being ‘someone’s big sister’ is one of the greatest things that drive me. I know that I am not working, ‘hussling’, studying, stumbling, learning and trying my utmost to upgrade myself daily just for myself and my selfish needs. I have a younger sibling who needs someone to look up to and most of all build and guide her. How is your journey and the decisions you are making daily moulding and inspiring those around you? It need not be anything majestic that it makes the front page of the Mail and Guardian – the way we carry ourselves, rise from failure, take brave steps and lend a helping hand are important tasks in playing the role of the modern warrior woman.

I believe in the greatness of each female from the little girl to the mature woman and that we need to get over the mentality of shunning and disrespecting each other and begin to uplift, teach and encourage each other. My HR Director told me something that I actually don’t hear often from women: “there are enough opportunities for everyone.” I am truly blessed to be surrounded by some of the most phenomenal women that God created, may you all continue to shine, grow and never give up on yourselves.
As Women’s Month comes to an end may we continue this spirit of celebrating our femininity and most of all celebrating and supporting each other.

You are intelligent, amazing and brimming with potential, Modern Warrior Woman.

Stay Committed.
🙂


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Ode to The Women

Phoenix.
She rose from battered bones and discarded dreams.
Dusted the sorrow from her cheeks and smoothed down the grooves the tears had set.
Set in her soul.
The pain had created so much destruction her self-worth caved in.

The Book says we were created perfect in his image but this construction gives in so easily to destruction.
Marred by failure: Hope escapes and defies all positive instruction.
But somehow something kept her motivated even though her heart was blacklisted and she found herself undeserving of any love and devotion.

A Single mother who did not even think about terminating the seed that began to grow within her even though she knew she couldn’t build a garden lush enough to nurture it.

***********************************************************************

In light of National Women’s Day 9 August 2013 (In South Africa) and to celebrate our National Women’s month I felt the need to share an excerpt from a poem I wrote about my mother titled The Phoenix. We all know the popular tale of the phoenix that burned down to ashes but instead of succumbing to destruction it was reborn, renewed and rose even more splendid than before. The poem was inspired by my mother but ultimately I see the story reflected in a lot of women’s eyes.

I cannot even begin to describe just how many phenomenal women I have met and come across. The sad thing is sometimes we forget just how incredible we are, we forget the battles we have fought and we are left maimed and forget the mountains we have actually climbed. And so, I constantly ask myself what makes us believe that we are so weak when ultimately we are so strong and unbelievably resilient? This time we have to look for the solution within, this time I really think we ought to turn the hand around and point at our chests.

We live in a world where a woman has become so objectified you tend to wonder if we even remember that we have intelligent minds, beautiful hearts (though at times, they may be bruised ) and deep mystical souls. It’s a debate I have had in my mind for a while and somehow I always come back to how women have allowed themselves to become objectified. Sure, appearance is an awesome thing and I think the way you maintain yourself is a reflection of just how much respect and love you have for yourself but what we look like is not all who we are. I may sound like a feminist right now but we have to refuse to be bottled in to nothing but pretty pictures. I know single mothers (young and old), business women who created empires from their own mental capacity and toil, young women who grew up in tarnished homes but somehow grew up to become so beautiful and intelligent, women who have been abused who had the strength to walk away and so many more types of women who serve as shining examples of just how incredible we are. Why do we forget?

And so, after being objectified and labelled by the other sex they write books FOR US on how to live as women. What do we do? We flock to Amazon.com, CNA, Exclusive Books etc. because we hold so little faith in our inherent femininity and wisdom that we continue to seek approval from the outside world instead of consulting with the inside and living honestly with our values. Are we doing it for ourselves or to somehow be “accepted”? Introspection time ladies.

There is so much more to you than you give yourself credit for. Every now and then just look back at all your achievements and all the destruction/failure you have risen from. Do not succumb to other people’s definition of who you are or who you should be – the best person who can define you is yourself. You are not just beautiful, but you are all intelligent, resilient, strong-willed and capable of building not just strong families but massive empires too.

It’s time we take responsibility for how we feel about ourselves and start realizing our greatness. In doing that we should also uplift each other, I cannot fathom how we can wage war against ourselves and each other as well. To the amazing women in my life – thank you for always seeing my light even when I simply see it as a flickering flame. Thank you for being absolutely amazing and I doubt you would have made an impact in who I am if you yourselves were not phenomenal.

Happy Women’s Month.

With Love. 🙂
Stay Committed.


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Life on Repeat

How often have we heard or said one of these lines?
“I always fall for the same guy/girl.”
“I keep making the same mistake.”
“This is my 3rd job change and I still feel the same.”
“I wish I didn’t attract the same ambition-less friends.”

The list is endless. We end certain roads and begin new ones (or so we think) only to end up where the previous road led us. Our intentions are good aren’t they? I mean we want a different ending so badly but why is life stuck on repeat? Heck, we even adopt the rules of The Secret and picture the life we desire daily but somehow chapter 5 stubbornly clings to the same plot as chapter 6. What is going on?

I stumbled upon a quote a couple of weeks ago. As usual, it was a few words long but somehow sparked so much meaning and left me saying “Ahhh…” I believe in a higher power, so I don’t really think our existence and choices occur in isolation. There is a reason that we are here on Earth and even if we don’t see the impact that our breath has, if anything, we should leave with many lessons and growth.

Why does life repeat itself at times? Everything that happens, happens to build us and teach us something about ourselves. The same lessons will keep re-appearing in different forms and situations until “Life” is satisfied that we have learned. When this thought hit me I was amazed but looking closely at the milestones I had had and the defeats too, I clearly saw how each was packed with a lesson or lessons.

So actually, it is not life that repeats itself but rather its lessons that we simply have to learn in order to move forward. If you find yourself dating the same men you cannot turn around and blame ALL men for “being the same” – all billions of them? Really? It’s impossible. There’s a quote that says “we attract who are” and as tough as it is to swallow, it is true. The speck that you find in another’s eye is a mere reflection of the speck in your own eye.
First step, what about me attracts men/women that abuse me?
Second step, what about me makes me stay?
When I speak to women who have been in abusive relationships, I always ask them the second question: what made you stay all those years? In the end, an individual has to do some introspection and change a few things to attract different set-ups in life – I have no doubt that it is difficult, but every exam can be passed.

As a child of a mother who was diagnosed with depression years ago and developed depression herself in early adolescence– I know the difficulty faced in change and changing oneself instead of taking the easiest way out and blaming the world. I always jokingly say: I would rather be angry than sad. Anger is not great, I know, but I’d rather fight than shrivel into a powerless ball. Simply because I gained the understanding that life will never be to blame and as long as we are living and breathing we are growing and harnessing the potential within us that’s waiting to be released. Suddenly, I saw dead-ends as chances to re-evaluate, I saw failure as a chance to re-direct and go in the correct direction and I saw endings as opportunities to examine myself and await brighter horizons. I have no doubt that I am not done learning and my biggest lesson right now in life is learning to be gentle – the lessons are all around me and yes, certain parts of the plot are being repeated. And guess what? I love it, there is nothing better than running a new race and finding ways to become an even better individual.

We are really on a journey of self-discovery and growth. There is nothing as important as viewing every interaction as a lesson – you cannot risk forgetting who you are after spending years finding yourself.

It is never too late to dream a new dream, grow your roots deeper and become a better individual – the decision is really up to you. Take some time out to analyse the lessons learned and the lessons yet to learn from your experiences – press play and take the finger off repeat. There is greatness within you and abundance in healing that just needs you to learn and grow.

Have a great week ahead!

🙂 Stay Committed.

QUOTE: “I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.” – Carl Gustav Jung (Swiss psychologist, influential thinker and founder of analytical psychology)


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The Knowing

“I respect the man who knows distinctly what he wishes. The greater part of all mischief in the world arises from the fact that men do not sufficiently understand their own aims. They have undertaken to build a tower, and spend no more labour on the foundation that would be necessary to erect a hut.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I took a random journey today of looking at my earliest facebook posts from when I was 19. I just wanted to delve in my younger mind and ascertain whether I have always been the way I am. I couldn’t help but giggle and go ‘wow’ at every post because even at that age, I was as opinionated and sure of what I want as I am now.

What made me giggle and gasp was actually the rage and aggression I had developed because I was always intent on fighting and preserving myself from being tainted by external things. What was I fighting? I’m not really sure but I sure am glad that I was born a fighter because I wouldn’t have made it here otherwise. But, what I can say is from the day I started writing which was around the age of 10 years, I had realized that life was one huge battlefield and that I had to figure out just what it was that I wanted and making it clear to everyone who I interacted with.

My first song, which I wrote at the age of 10/11 was titled “broken dreams”. What did I even know about disappointment and broken dreams? I could perhaps relate it to the fact that I desperately wanted to be a “rock star” but my mother swiftly dismissed that yearning. I’m glad though, because she shielded me from a lot of exploitation and uncertainty because I know now that I would not want to be a guitar-wielding girl with a raspy voice. I’ve built a very different image from that.

I have had many people tell me that I am far too opinionated and just 2 days ago I had breakfast with one of our Director’s and she was shocked that I had found my purpose. Looking back though, I acquainted myself to my ‘reason for breathing’ at a very young age. I just needed to grow and learn more about life to hone it, which I am still doing.

It reminded me of the words of Johann Wolfgang van Goethe that have been comfortably saved in my phone memo for a while. I am nowhere near where I ought to be and I am not even close to the woman my late grandfather always said I would become but at least I know what the end goal is.

A lot of people trudge along life trying to live up to other people’s expectations and wishes because they just aren’t very sure. I would rather say ‘not sure’ than ‘don’t know’ because each of us is born with a true knowing of just what we are and what we want to become – its only more obvious in our younger years.

Knowing ourselves shouldn’t be a complex journey of embarking to sacred mountains with Shamans to tap into “Self”. Self is not so far, Self is in the very breath you inhale/exhale, comfortably embedded in every heart beat. Finding who you are simply requires blocking out all external opinions and studying just what makes you tick (happy) and tock (upset).

In my life journey I have made mistakes and gotten involved in things that were not really part of my tick but the tock they sparked redirected me towards my passion: The Engineering Degree I dropped, The relationships I fled, The thoughts I dismissed etc. All very necessary ‘tocks’

A lot of our mistakes and frustrations stem from building a foundation that is too weak/wide/thick for the structure we actually desire.

My passion (part of it) is learning just what makes people tick and the materials that their dreams are made of. I have no doubt that I’m still young and still have much more to learn but the end game in my mind will never alter.

You need to know yourself well before you attempt to build knowledge about the world and even attempt to fix it.

The amazing thing about life is it accommodates our mistakes and the universe is always eager to redirect us. Just be open to learning and growth. Its never too late! 🙂

As we begin a new week tomorrow, be aware of the emotions and thoughts that your surroundings trigger. Make your breaths valuable by channeling them towards your passion. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one.

Quote: “We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today.” – Stacia Tauscher

Stay Committed.
🙂