Are you feeling uninspired and stuck? How doing nothing can win you a Nobel Prize

I have been trying to get on top of my fitness lately so I joined a gym nearby and I had a fitness assessment with one of the trainers. During our chat I discovered the importance of rest to our productivity.

The trainer told me the importance of working out just to the point where your body feels challenged but can handle it. If you try to work out and push your body even when its tired, you might feel like you achieved something, but your body will not learn from it because your body is now using the anaerobic stores of energy.

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What you want to do instead is to consistently work out your body just to the point where you feel like you are doing work but you are still focused and then take a break. That way you are training your body to be able to learn to do more work while in the aerobic phase.

Now in between all of these comes the importance of rest. The trainer helped me understand how rest works for the body.

Rest is when your body learns and does better. So if you are overexerting yourself everyday in order to build muscle but don’t give your body maybe a day in-between every other 3 days, your body will not have enough time to learn from this exercise in order to build the capacity that you need.

Same thing with gaining inspiration or learning a new skill or being creative. Rest is a very crucial phase for inspiration to happen.

History is filled with people that got inspiration during times of rest. Paul McCartney was said to get his song in a dream, Stephen King the writer was said to get some of his stories in his dream, a dream helped Kekule the scientist figure out the structure of benzene, Frankenstein the popular novel character was inspired by a dream. The pianist George Gershwin got his inspiration for his composition not just when he was writing but out and about- from taxi horns in Paris.

Last but not the least, Otto Loewi got the inspiration for his experiment on neurotransmission from a dream and ended up winning a Nobel-prize for it. The list goes on and on but I’m sure you get the point by now.

The key is to first of all work that idea or skill you are trying to build to a point where you are challenged but not exhausted, then take some rest and let your body learn and translate this information from bare information to insight.

Working out yourself mentally, physically or emotionally to the point where you lose focus and skill is counterproductive. Not challenging yourself either and just having a breeze is also equally counter productive. The key is to toe that line in-between.

So if you have worked so hard and now you are feeling stuck, do yourself a favour- rest, sleep, or just get some down time and you might be surprised to find that aha! you have been looking for when you least expect it.

Have you ever had any great ideas while doing something completely different?

Leave me a comment.

Oh and here is George Gershwin’s composition I talked about to jumpstart your rest hehe;)

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On broken dreams & being pregnant

Psst: I’ve moved. Visit me here http://streetsideconvos.com. Maybe the new blog will be for you. Maybe not.

“Hi nice to meet you, my name is Ebele.”

“Nice to meet you too.”

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“Tell me about your broken dreams.”

Maybe that is one of the questions we should ask these days instead of the boring “what do you do?”.

Without sounding dramatic I am surrounded by broken dreams. By these dreamers fighting not to be disillusioned but not knowing what to do with the heaviness that comes from dreaming.

“Why do I dream too much?” I asked Emeka in frustration.

“That’s what I love most about you” was the response.

So many hopes, so many ideas, so many blueprints for the future.

Yet all we have is today and no idea of what tomorrow will look like.

Listen in and hear the broken dreams all around you. The hopes getting sore from lifting reality-sized weights.

I hear them.

I also hear hundreds of millions of people in my age range are unemployed.

Suddenly it seems the map the teachers and parents and uncles and aunties gave us aren’t enough for navigating a complex world.

No this is not blaming. This is owning.

Owning all the little broken dreams that I once cried over (in retrospect they weren’t even mine).

Mourning and celebrating simultaneously the journey to embody the new dreams I’m now pregnant with.

I’m not a very realistic person and somehow that has worked for me.

So back sore from trying to push back against “reality” I hold on.

This must be spiritual, emotional, mental strength training.

My tribe mourns together. We confess our losses. We face the rejections that keep us up all night crying but we’d dare not admit because what if we came off as depressed? At least we have ourselves to confess to.

In one breath we talk changing the world and in the other our job search. In one phone conversation we talk being broke and in the next creating value. In one moment we are so scared in the other we are so courageous.

We celebrate too. Those little ways we are dropping the fear. That tiny step forward that no one else may see. In the midst of our broken dreams, there is something in us that knows so well that we are making the future with those broken dreams. That they are stepping stones not stumbling blocks. After all they didn’t die, they broke – wide open to set us free to dream closer to the centre of ourselves. They set us free to soften into more humane versions of ourselves. They set us free to learn grace.

We move forward into a future that may not applaud us for anything. We applaud ourselves; we’ve come a long way. There’s a long way yet. We’ll cry some more. We’ll laugh some more; and something about it all will have us all saying “it’s all good”.

To my tribe of dreamers.

You are one of them.

Here’s another : http://thetruecornerstone.wordpress.com/2013/09/16/fear-of-the-unknown/

 Pssst: Don’t be shy, leave me a comment 😉

You are an expert. Here’s why

Earlier this year, I decided to live off my hard earned savings-  slow down, meet great people, take some time off to restrategize- relax, be flexible, travel and drop all the things I was holding onto to actually take the risk of trying out the ideas in my head.

After I realized my savings were reducing (like duh!) I still didn’t want the rigidity of a full time job so I decided to take part time tutoring as a source of extra income. I ended up tutoring a lot of Chinese people who were learning English as a second language as well as college students and high school kids. It turned out to be a great experience.

Along the line I decided to try my hands out at making similar content so I put out my course (https://www.udemy.com/become-excellent-at-analytical-writing/ ) and now my students are in the hundreds. While I still have a lot of work to do in getting the course out there, it was so encouraging to see the numbers increase and see that truly what I thought would be useful to others was indeed useful.

So what do I know about you that you don’t know? It is that your life experiences have made you an expert at something and you probably don’t even realize it.

So many times we are waiting for something to happen before we can live life. We are waiting to be more educated, be more experienced (whatever that means), more confident, more beautiful, etc.

Truly, when it comes to it, we are probably just afraid that we are not really enough. We are afraid of failure&rejection. We think that maybe if we can find more titles to mask our insecurity then we will be more confident to proceed in the direction of our dreams.

What you don’t realize is that you already have something that people want to know. You are probably taking yourself for granted thinking you have no value to add.

I don’t mean this post to motivate you. I mean it to be factual. You are an expert at something that other people don’t know and you are hiding it because you think everyone knows it already, or that you need even more experience.

What have you picked from your life’s experiences? Struggles? Lessons? Relationships? Share your gift today. There is always time to refine it. You cannot get experience without putting yourself out there and experiencing all life has to offer anyways.

Work or play?

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Psst: I’ve moved. Visit me here http://streetsideconvos.com. Maybe the new blog will be for you. Maybe not.

Work. It was all those things you ‘had’ to do for very justified reasons. Today it was in the name of commitment, tomorrow in the name of reputation, the next day in the name of tradition, maybe in the name of adulthood, and oh, watch for the big one- in the name of god.

It was all those boxes you had to stuff yourself into because of course you had to be realistic. Yet no one told you that reality was a constantly changing construct that perhaps you had a stake in recreating.

You justified it long enough although when you stopped to listen you knew that it was not wings but shackles that your so called ‘reasons’ gave you, and you were a willing prisoner. Your excuses were many- justified excuses. Everybody agreed to them because they were so wise and reasonable – except that little’ naive’ child inside of you that you just couldn’t get to shut up.

Then there was play. It was not what you had to do, but what you got to do. It was that place where you became a child again. There were no reasons here, all the reason you had was love. Love got you doing crazy things; much more things than tradition, reputation, god or any other thing they made up to guilt trip you into a loveless commitment could get out of you.

Work or play?

The pesky little child scurries off again into distant lands hidden deep inside of you. (S)he comes back, telling you that there is so much more. That there is a place where life can be play. That it is a place where work is play and so no longer work. A place where you give not just your time and your energy but your whole life. A place that everyone is waiting for you to claim but they just don’t know.

But how can you explain this? What if you never find it? What if you end up naive, irresponsible?

So your dreams become nightmares inside of you. And the light that only you carry gets suffocated in the dark musty cupboards where you hide it.

Your dreams get short of seeing because its been too long in those dark musty cupboards.

You dare not voice them and so they will never know that first kiss with the air that could birth them into words, then goals, then reality.

So then you become disillusioned. And you settle for work. Work is justified. Isn’t there something sanctimonious about the ‘sacrifices’ you ‘have’ to make? You hide behind reasons and everyone agrees with you and nods along because God forbid-  what if your dreams came true then their own dark musty cupboards will have to prematurely see the light in a way that will be oh so unbearable.

Except stubborn little child. There (s)he goes off to play and when (s)he comes home you give him/her a good spanking.

“Shut up! Shut up!”,  you tell stubborn little child.

“Say no more of your childish fantasies.”

But what if you went along with stubborn little child?

What if you got to play forever?

Don’t even deceive yourself that it is an easy road. It will not be as easy as hiding behind all those reasons everyone tells everyone.

Here you will fight and fight. At the risk of your life, your reputation, your tradition and all the other things you and they used to hold you bound, you will fight for your right to play.

Work or play?

What will you choose?

10 Characteristics of change makers. Are you one?

ImageChange makers have similar characteristics- from social/civic entrepreneurs to small business owners or people running big organizations or programmes.

I was doing a reading on Public Health Business Planning and thought I should share the key points since they cut across the board. This also helps me remember for my discussion tomorrow afternoon:)

1. Entrepreneurs find out what’s needed

– This involves studying your groups’ needs closely + understanding how to communicate the same data differently to meet the needs of different audiences.

2. Entrepreneurs brainstorm 

– They dream crazy audacious wacky and unusual ideas

– Brainstorming is more about quantity than quality.

– Diverse teams create more diverse ideas and thus they win

-To win, generate more ideas.

– Its not just about creating new ideas but also possibly expanding or redesigning existing programmes to make them better.

3. Entrepreneurs analyze

– To balance their crazy ideas they also analyze them to figure which is worth it.

– The goal is to find a workable idea for a need that exists.

– Something to think about – how will you present the story in a compelling way to your audience?

– Also- How is your new story unique to other previously existing stories?

4. Entrepreneurs build teams

–  There is no such thing as a single great man. Its always about assembling the team to run with the idea

– The ability to create alliances is very important in the 21st century

– Diverse teams will be able to open up diverse networks so build diversity into your projects

– in the 21st century its no longer about people from a specific field, interdisciplinary learning is the way to go

5. Entrepreneurs are hardworking and flexible

The best teams end up with much different projects than they started with BUT they tend to- spend lots of time together

-share the responsibilities

– feed off one another’s positivity

– seek out leaders and make trips to benchmark progress. Think mentorship and goal setting retreats.

– get really into their projects

– spend much more time and energy than planned

… so its more about flexibility and hard work than a great first idea

6. Entrepreneurs find the money

Entrepreneurs are “ambitious for others” and find the resources to fuel this ambition

7. Entrepreneurs start it up 

Think risk taking. Failure is needed for success. Entrepreneurs are not averse to risk but rather show that they have analyzed the risk and that the pay off makes it worth it.

8. Entrepreneurs keep it going

Think sustainability

How will your idea fuel itself?

9. Entrepreneurs keep tabs

– Think evaluation

– How will you make sure that you are doing what you planned to do?

– How will you evaluate yourself?

– Have you planned for transitions possibly if you need to leave the programme to someone else?

– Do you have an exit plan if evaluation shows it is not working?

 10. Entrepreneurs get it down on paper

– If your ideas are not stated down, they will probably not become reality.

Write it all down and it will change later but you have a starting point.

So in conclusion, think analytical skill + heart + finance + creative leadership + passion + flexibility =  great change maker

Where are you here and where could you improve?

Personally I am learning so I can do better especially in the area of number 9.

Do share 🙂

Hope you enjoyed my tips.

Intercultural West African love: Ghana comes to Nigeria for Pelumi

This summer my really good friend got married. She is the first of my close friends in my age group that got married and so it was very special to me. It was also different because she was marrying outside of her country- to a Ghanaian, a few countries away from Nigeria.

Gifts from the groom to the bride's family. Those are yams all nicely tied up

Gifts from the groom to the bride’s family. Those are yams all nicely tied up

If you know anything about the two countries you know Nigerians and Ghanaians have a sort of sibling rivalry though they secretly love each other at the end of the day. (Ghanaians probably love us more though :P)

I went to Abuja for the wedding with my dad and younger brother who also had people to see in Abuja. We travelled by road so it was quite the journey- we left Lagos around 5 am and got to Abuja at night!

It was the perfect ending to my trip to Nigeria because I got to work on my non-profit, meet people old and new, and then party with the Aikins!

I enjoyed the traditional wedding because I don’t think I have ever been to one. Also, I am from Eastern Nigeria  (Igbo) and Pelumi is from Western Nigeria (Yoruba) so it was nice to see the differences in culture. A few that I noticed;

In Igbo traditional weddings,  the male elders of the family officiate, while in Yoruba weddings women officiate.

In Yoruba weddings, the girl’s family takes care of most of the traditional wedding since they are trying to make a statement about how well taken care of the girl was to the man that is taking her for a bride. In Igbo weddings, the groom plays a huge part since he has to prove that he can take care of his new bride.

Pictures speak better than words so check them out! I put mostly pictures from the traditional Yoruba wedding because I think that is something unique to the culture so it was worth sharing more of.

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Women from the bride’s family welcoming the groom’s family… with dancing of course!

 

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The groom’s family prostrating and kneeling to greet the girl’s parents. Males prostrate, females kneel as a sign of respect

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Jubilant groom dancing forward

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Eric explaining what he is here for and dropping some money in the bucket for the family

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The women of the family were having fun with him and issuing commands like asking him to stand at attention, etc

Receiving the blessings of her father

Receiving the blessings of her father

The bride dances into the venue

The bride dances into the venue

 

Mother daughter moment

Mother-daughter moment

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Showing she can take care of her husband

 

Eric showing he is strong enough for her

Bye Bye Nigeria

 

 

Hello Ghana

Hello Ghana

Happy couple

Happy couple

The drummer got some love and Naira for his hard work too.

The drummer got some love and Naira for his hard work too.

 

Church ceremony the next day- K-I-S-S-I-N-G

Church ceremony the next day- K-I-S-S-I-N-G

What they didn’t tell you about change

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My first week in Calgary- somewhere in Inglewood

If you know me decently enough you will probably know that I moved to the States recently. Please forgive me if I am behind on responding to emails or comments, its been busy 😉

Last week I met up with friends to say goodbye and it finally dawned on me that I would never call Calgary my home again. Next time I’ll come as a visitor and while I would still know all its corners so well, it wouldn’t be the same. Some people that I met in Calgary will go just like me. Everything will reshuffle.

While I have made so many major moves in my life, it seems that as you grow older you start to be more reflective about choices. It don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing.

Especially since I will be in Colorado for a while, I had those moments of wondering-  should I or should I not, will it be worth it? Don’t I need to just dig in my roots somewhere?

Am I sure? Really sure? Really Really sure?

While I don’t have an answer to that question, one thing I know for sure is that this year God has been calling me forward into that sense of focus that comes from trust.

Life only happens once so how could we be sure of anything?

We could never really be sure of every move. We could never predict if it was right or wrong, we can never predict how it will change us, we can never predict how it will work out, we can never predict how it will impact our relationships. The best we could do is trust and to die trying to follow that sense of calling that only us can really understand.

I knew those tears were coming eventually, I just couldn’t really figure out when. Its always been the same. It would start with apathy and just doing all I needed to do but my breakthrough always came after I cried it out, grieved that part of me that is dying and finally embraced that part of me that is reborn.

Even as I sorted through clothes figuring out what to take and what to leave behind, so would my emotions and personality and relationships be sorted out too, sieving out what’s not helpful anymore and strengthening new connections.

With every transition, whether it is committing to a relationship, moving to a new place, moving houses, welcoming a child or saying goodbye to loved ones who pass, that liminal space between one end and one beginning can be very complicated.

While we are told that its for good, and to be strong and to be excited, I think we also need to begin to say that its okay to not be excited. Its okay to not be sure. Its okay to grieve even when we are supposed to be excited about good news. Grieving simply means we are closing one chapter and in the same way letting a new chapter unfold.

So if you are like me and you have moments where you think you are supposed to be excited but find only apathy or maybe apprehension, remember that it is more complicated than that. Give yourself room to grieve. Then let go- and TRUST.

My tears are so powerful. After them I become ready to move on and start another new beginning.

in Stanley Park, Vancouver