Keep Long Held Dreams Smouldering, Don’t Give up on Them

Do you have a dream that seems to become dormant as time passes?

Is there a dream you have that you are afraid of pursuing because it seems too big?

Has life just come and made you forget to dream or keep going after a dream you have had for a while?

Keep your dreams smouldering. You may have to expand the dream or tweak it in some way but look for ways to feed the fire for your dreams. A dream dies only when we lay it to rest.

Learn to unpack that seemingly impossible dream and look at it with new eyes. How can you shape it so that you can accomplish it step by step. Remember to look at how to build something you dream of and not only think of the final product. Dream, research and plan well to enjoy success. Remember to season your expectations with time – some things take time.

Do you want to go back to school, travel the world, start a business, live abroad or whatever other dreams you have? What’s holding you back from pursuing this dream and breathing life into it? Knowing this, is the first step to bringing a dream to life. Interestingly, many of us never take practical steps to birthing a dream before giving up on it or trying to do so.

There are some dreams though that take hold and won’t give up on us. We try to tamp down this dream and live around it but it is there smouldering. That one may be the very one to pursue. Don’t let fear hold you back or thoughts of what others will think. I know sometimes a lack of finances may be an hindrance. However, we should find ways to cut back and save up to pour into such a dream or find a side hustle to get funds to invest in it. Dare I even suggest borrowing a modest loan with a low interest rate to use for this purpose? Think about it.

Finally, never stop dreaming. It can be a simple thing such as wanting to be more active and outgoing. The dreams that I am talking about here aren’t fairytale things. I am talking about goals, short term and long term that add value to your life. Essentially, at every stage of life we ought to build on old dreams or generate new ones as we grow.

Go ahead, take the first step to bringing that smouldering dream to life. Do the research, set a timeline and map out different paths to bring it to fruition. We often think, “what if I fail, but what if you fly?’

Slow Growth is Growth, Go at your OWN Pace

We all have dreams and goals as well as aspirations. There is nothing wrong with having lofty ones as well as small safe ones. We also want to accomplish or fulfil these at specific points. Unfortunately, life often has different twists and turns that may mess with our timelines. This means that we may not be where we thought we would be and certain points. As a result, we may feel disappointed and even lose motivation sometimes. What do we learn at these times?

Even when we do not meet certain goals on our timeline we are growing. It may not be in the way we envision and we may not be ticking off the goals we want to, when we want to, but…

How about other positive things that are happening that are helping you to mature and be a better you?

What can we learn through reflection about things that do not happen on our timelines? Embracing this is a part of growing. Something as simple as being flexible and changing how you view that situation is beneficial.

Remember to go at your own pace and remind yourself of this, when you feel like you are not where you want to be. Each person has his or her own journey. It’s so easy to forget this from time to time amidst expectations set out by society, family friends and even yourself. Give yourself a break. Applying that mindset when needed is a a part of personal growth.

Be on guard about mapping your timeline based on what others are doing or have done at a certain time. They are not you. You are not them. There is much growth in moving forward amidst disappointments and the unexpected events that delay dreams and goals coming to fruition.

There are some things that you can accomplish by yourself just by being disciplined and working hard, yes. There are others though that you can’t control – even though some people tend to differ on this. I am talking specifically about finding a committed partner for marriage and the ability to have kids and do so at a particular time or at all. It’s best to be open-minded and live life fully. Unfortunately, many people allow these disappointments to take away from the beauty of their lives.

My growth and the pace at which I grow looks different from everyone else’s. That’s life. Focus on finding another way to accomplish a dream. Embrace singleness, being childless or adopt a child (I know this sounds simplistic but getting into this mindset brings so much peace).

If you get nothing else from my diatribe, remember slow growth is still growth. Keep going and learn to be content where you are as you plot about how to move forward. Go at your own pace. This is something I remind myself of often. We all do well to remember this.

How to Budget, Organise your Money and a live a Financially Healthy Life

Change how you view and spend money

If we earn more than we need for the necessities we should be saving consistently. This is sometimes a struggle for some people because of the relationship they have fostered with their money.

It’s not enough to pay all the bills then spend what is left. Organising what is left after the bills are paid is a apart of living a financially healthy life. This is why having a budget and following it is important.

We are never too young to start saving for retirement.

We are never too healthy to save for illnesses.

We are never too securely employed to plan for rainy days.

Catch my drift? It often takes a mind shift to start budgeting, sticking to it and putting away money for the future (near and far). The money we earn is not merely to pay our bills and feed our temporary wants.

See what you earn as a necessary ingredient to help you attain different goals – debt free.

Organise your Budget in a way that gives you Freedom

Find what works for you.

Having a lean budget where all wants are not catered to does not work for many of us. It isn’t realistic.

Adjust savings targets for different goals as time passes or just because you want to.

Budget in your treats, the things that help you to live and enjoy yourself. A budget is not something to cause stress. For example, I budget for recreation every month because that is important to me. This may look like going out to eat with friends, doing so alone, going to an event and things of that nature.

Also put away something in the miscellaneous category because stuff comes up.

Reconcile your Budget as you Spend

Keep track of payments, all of them. Everything from gum to rent/mortgage. Line up all the items and check that what you plan for is what you are spending. This becomes habitual with time. I like to do this after paying each bill. I also use cash for things like groceries, lunch and utilities. I keep them in their own envelopes and return whatever is left after each transaction.

Using cash for some purchases may help to keep you on track. Some people use credit cards to get points I know. The goal should be to use it within the confines of what is budgeted and pay the sum off each month.

Develop the Habit of Saving

You truly pay yourself from what you earn by putting aside some money into savings. Each amount you add to your savings, helps you to develop this healthy habit of saving. This habit contributes to a financially healthy life. As I said in the opening, if you earn more money than you need to cover the necessities, savings should be a priority. Budget for savings.

At first it might be frustrating and if you are a spender you may be tempted to just use it all. A good way to motivate yourself is to have a list of short term and long term goals. Write down a desired amount to save over a period of time. Make it something like a challenge for yourself. You can put this on a poster or app and have countdown each pay period. I believe that once you start meeting different gaols you will become addicted to this practice.

Budgeting is something to talk about with families, friends and others. Share the value of this habit and help others to live financially healthy lives.

Don’t Get Caught up in Social Media and Lose Yourself

How many times do you watch a Youtuber share an item and find yourself searching somewhere online for it? I have even gone into a store looking for said item.

I have gone down many a rabbit hole and wasted money because someone or a number of people spoke glowingly about a product. To be fair I have also had good recommendations.

They key is to know what is useful and to ignore the rest. This isn’t easy because many of us humans are visual people. Yep, this can affect us without us really even being aware of it.

I mean we may become uncomfortable with our bodies, our wardrobes, our jobs and so on and so forth. I think this is a major issue for young teens, who are trying to find their identity. It also affects us adults because we all want to present our best selves out in the world.

We must remember to guard ourselves and not lose who we are amidst the trends and influencers on the different social media platform. Unhappiness with who we are and what we look like among other things, can creep up on us and overwhelm us.

This is also true for those of us who create content through blogs, videos, photos etc. It is easy to get caught up in doing what other successful creators in our niche do, just to chase success. Remember why you started and keep reminding yourself.

Would I like to make money from blogging? Of course!

Is this the only reason I blog? Of course not!

Will I learn from others to showcase my pieces better? Probably

Success for me with this blog means posting regularly and editing posts. It’s true, that’s enough for now and probably for a very long time. This is freedom for me because I have a job that offers me a salary that covers my needs, wants and whims. Moreover, I love said job and serving my students.

When I look at my blog stats and see only a few people read my blog and fewer comment, I sometimes catch myself getting anxious for more. I then mentally smack myself into remembering my goal (see above).

Social media is great. The different platforms offer so much to both creators and viewers. I like that we have so much to choose from and that so much knowledge is being shared.

We would do well to remember to carefully monitor and manage what we take in and reflect on how it affects us negatively. It’s important not to lose ourselves through what we consume and over consume on social media platforms. Remember most people only show a perfect snapshot of themselves to craft that narrative for viewers. Proceed cautiously.

Meal Prepping Weekly as an act of Self-care

Who looks forward to coming home after a long day of work, to stand over pots cooking dinner? Certainly not me.

Since, I am all about spending responsibly and living debt free, I do not eat out on a whim most times. To take care of the basic need I have to full my belly after a long day of work, I meal prep. It is so satisfying coming home, knowing that there is a complete meal in the fridge. I actually, want to eat what is there 9 times out of 10 and don’t get tempted to buy something on the go. This is good for my savings and health in the long run.

Meal prepping is an act of self-care in my book. I can warm my meal quickly, eat and unwind for longer. I am able to eliminate cooking a meal after work which may be time consuming and just plain tiring. As a teacher, I am on my feet a lot, so I don’t want to be on my feet cooking dinner after work too.

Meal prepping takes some reflection though. I try to have two options and vary them from week to week, so I don’t get tired of eating the same thing. For example, this week I am having oxtail and vegetables as one option and lentil stew with quinoa as another option.

I do my prep on the weekend and portion out the servings in individual containers. I also give myself one evening to buy something on the go. There are many great options for meals here in Japan, around the train station where I live. I can get sushi, fish and rice, Chinese and a bunch of other options. I budget for this because I believe in having freedom in my budget.

As an act of self-care, I meal prep on the weekend when I am off from work. This is because I have more time to chop, marinate, steam, stew, boil and do whatever is required to make what I feel like having. A key step in this process is deciding what I will make and getting the necessary ingredients. I live alone so this isn’t very demanding. I dedicate 2-3 hours meal prepping so that I can have my evenings off.

I am able to sit and browse YouTube for longer, read a book, blog or do whatever else I want to do, that relaxes me. It’s now a apart of my routine, since I have been doing this for years. There is no going back for me. My evenings are far less rushed thanks to meal prepping on the weekend.

Being Grateful is a big part of Self-care

How often do we stop and count our blessings? Do we stop and say thank you to God for another day? Being grateful is a part of self-care.

Expressing gratitude for all things great and small in our lives help us to be content and mentally well. Discontent comes many times when we focus for too long, on what we don’t have. The things we yearn for but can’t see how to get them. Also looking too long at the lives of others and wanting what they have blinds you to your blessings. This is a joy stealer.

I often talk to myself at these times and remember the things I have that I am grateful for: relatively good health, family, friends, a job, joy, a place to sleep, life and so on. It is easy to get lost in the illusion of perfection we see in others especially on social media.

This world and its wants, make us feel as if we never have enough or that if we do not have certain things by a certain age we are less than. I am making myself learn to take my eyes off the world and fix them on what God’s words say about me. I focus on life-giving words to remind myself that I am not a puppet, to be tossed about by every flight of fancy that the world throws my way. I practice being grateful for the small things and big things as well as everything in between. I also actively pursue peace and contentment in my life. This is self-care in action.

I am grateful for something as simple as taking a shower and stretching out on my bed every night. After a tiring day, that is just wonderful!

A good way to practice gratitude is to jot down a few things each day that you are thankful for. This has a way of shifting the focus from what we lack to being content with what we do have.

Cultivate a grateful day, one day at a time and help your mind to be at ease.

Travels in Africa: Victoria Falls, Zambia and Zimbabwe

I am on the African continent for the first time to soak up Victoria Falls – The Smoke that Thunders (literally and figuratively). After much planning, researching, budgeting and saving, I am here! Pinch me! I can’t believe it! It is not cheap, because flying from Tokyo here via Johannesburg costs a pretty penny. It’s well worth it though. Here is the fruit of of my mid range saving and discipline.

Mist is swirling all around me as I bask in the wonderfulness of life in nature.

This is the first of many trips to the African continent that will follow. I know it in my inner being.

I enjoy a leisurely but wet walk across the bridge on the Zambian side of the Falls. Though I am wearing the raincoat the people there gave me a few minutes ago, I can feel water seeping into some parts of my clothes. I don’t mind though because, I am here enjoying Victoria Falls in all its fullness.

After walking down and down and dodging cheeky monkeys, I take in the swirling river below and chat to the young natives a bit.

I am giddy with joy though the trek to get down to the river below the falls is a trying one. Thankfully, I have no food to entice the monkeys milling about, who are very obnoxious, though cute. I am here, as you see in the picture, chatting with some natives about all kinds of things. This is one of the awesome things of travelling – connecting with the natives. After that, I huff and puff my way back up to the top. It is quite steep and the path isn’t very clear. I am so happy I wore sneakers – YAY! mE!

I finally get to the top and make my way across to the Zimbabwean side of Victoria Falls. Jamaicans have visa free access to both Zambia and Zimbabwe, so I did not need to pay a dime. Reciprocity is a beautiful thing. I even stop to chat with the officers at the Zimbabwean side and one sweet mouth one try to proposition me. I laugh and keep it moving.

I enjoy the view of the Falls from the bridge on the road that separates both countries. I get there and a guy introduces himself. He says he is a guide and wants to show me this aspect of his country free of charge. I wait for the other shoe to drop because if he doesn’t want money surely he wants something else!

He takes me to different sides to see the Falls in all its splendour. The Zimbabwean side offers far more than the Zambian side. It’s in my face literally and splashes me liberally when I view it from some sides. This guy shows me the ins and outs of the area. I am so grateful. At the end of doing this for a good two hours, we walk into the town of Victoria Falls. He shows me a supermarket then bids me farewell. Alas! He only wanted to show me this beautiful site as he said. Consider my mind blown. I remember the beauty of kindness in us humans. I am humbled and amazed.

I do my shopping and start walking back to the Zambian side where my hostel is. I am accosted by a policeman who cautions me that this is not safe since it was nightfall. He escorts me all the way back, all the while sweet talking me. It’s flattering. I enjoy it, say thanks and go where I am going. I had a nice day and my experience at Victoria Falls is complete and perfect.