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Of Buns in Ovens….

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I have always looked forward to having a second baby. Pregnancy is supposed to be a wonderful time in a woman’s life as her body nurtures new life and prepares to create a miracle of life from tiny cells. The actual experience is varied from woman to woman with some having a relatively easy time and others suffering the extremes of hormonal imbalances and body changes.

My first pregnancy passed in a blur with barely a recollection of the trimester milestones and changes in my body as my son grew. I always felt like I didn’t truly enjoy the pregnancy as I was struggling with so much turmoil in my life and the expectancy of new life only confounded it further. It wasn’t until I took my son home with me that the miracle and wonder of his creation and birth really truly hit me and I began to appreciate every mother and what she has to go through to experience the blessing of nurturing.

I therefore vowed to myself that my next pregnancy would take place on my terms, when I was good and ready and when I didn’t have too much going on in my life (as if that is even possible!). Best laid plans and all that! So I took my time, ensured that things were more or less in place in my life and decided, mid last year, that I was finally ready to take the plunge – Seven whole years later! In case you’re shaking your head or laughing at me and my naiveté, in my defense, I’m a bit of a control freak and I figured I needed some control over this particular pregnancy.

It came as no surprise when the test turned positive and there were no awkward conversations with the dreaded “we need to talk” phrase that turns most men into stone! It actually felt like a bit of an anti-climax – perhaps I was expecting drum rolls or something dramatic. The first trimester went by like a dream, much like what I had planned. I was lucky enough to experience zero morning (or any other time of the day for that matter) sickness and I didn’t even bother to see my gynecologist till I was ten weeks along. After all, I was now a seasoned expectant mother. The scan was predictable and my first peep at my little bun in the oven went exactly as planned.

So there I was, very pleased with myself and beautifully glowing with just the tiniest bump showing and I was the picture perfect mum-to-be. Nothing could possibly go wrong; after all I had planned this perfectly. Boy was I wrong! At exactly this point, life decided to do what it does best – laugh in the face of my plans. Shortly into my second trimester, I suddenly developed the worst case of acid reflux and heart burn known to humanity, the craziest mood swings and a deep aversion for social skills. I suddenly could not stand to be around anyone – people literally drove me crazy.

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Meanwhile I was unable to sleep thanks to my displaced digestive system and every night was a choice between eating and sleeping! No antacid could sort me out and the only choice was to sleep with my upper body elevated, like patients do in hospitals. I have no clue why doctors would think that patients can possibly get any rest; honestly sleeping in an elevated position on your back is the equivalent of having a nightmare while you’re wide awake. So combine sleep deprivation, mood swings, a non-existent appetite and trying to keep my stomach acids where they belonged and I was basically a walking time bomb with a live fuse!

Suddenly my pregnancy had gone from being wonderful to my worst nightmare in the blink of an eye. I largely kept to myself and the few people who were unfortunate enough to cross my path deeply regret it to this day. I honestly did not like what I saw when I looked in the mirror and I am not referring to my physical state. I slowly realized that I could allow my condition to take over my life (for the next few months anyway) or I could do something about it. I had never been one of those people who believe that being pregnant is an excuse to get away with anything and I wasn’t about to start now.

With no small amount of difficulty I started to make a conscious effort to revert to my usual self. I made the effort to smile at people even when I didn’t feel like it. I ensured that I had my dinner as early as humanely possible to increase my chances of sleeping at night. Slowly by slowly I started to feel better about being pregnant and my energy levels gradually improved. I stopped making excuses and started taking action on things that I wanted to do. Including writing again which had become a casualty of my previously constant foul mood. I resumed my walking and my swimming. Most importantly I began to feel like myself again and I stopped blaming my (poor) pregnancy for all my woes.

What did I learn from all this? I will let you all know once I have my baby in another 3 months! :-)….Seriously though, I figured that I really cannot control everything; I will plan and God will laugh. When you think about it, carrying a little human in your body for nine months is the most unnatural natural thing ever! It’s bizarre to say the least and could only have been created by God. So the best way to cope is simply to take each hour of every day as it comes and to try and keep in mind that you’re really not yourself for those nine months. And that this really isn’t an excuse to be the worst person in the world.

Clearly I’m still learning but here are some more tips. Exercise when and if you can. Get enough rest. Take your supplements. Calcium really sorted out my muscle aches. Eat small, regular meals. Have a great support system. Someone who understands what you’re going through and will put up with your constantly changing moods without blowing a fuse. Keep yourself occupied – an idle mind is the best way to end up focusing on how crappy you are feeling in those low moments. Vent often. It’s important to speak about your conflicting emotions, of course to someone who understands. Don’t bottle stuff up, no matter how trivial it may seem. As long as it’s a big deal to you, it’s important. Map your own way, don’t be afraid to make your own rules. Each pregnancy is unique and so is each respective experience. Take time to look after yourself, you are the most important person in this equation; it will not be this way for much longer, especially when the baby gets here. Don’t be too hard on yourself either – you are just human.

I’m now happily (most of the time) back to enjoying the journey. Even when things don’t seem so easy I always remind myself that in this particular case, the end will truly justify the means. So come what may, I will take it in stride because when all is said and done, everything eventually comes to pass.

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My Testimonial

The testimonial below was originally posted on http://www.newdawnsolutions.net/expanded-testimonial—veronica-waithaka.html  It is the story of how I discovered my true passion and learnt how to use it to fulfill my purpose…

“I have always been the kind of person who could fix anything; well, almost anything. Every new thing I encountered was merely a new challenge for me to overcome and conquer. So it was extremely frustrating for me to wake up one day and just realize that I wasn’t happy with my life. There I was with a great job, a salary most people would kill for and a social life that could rival that of today’s socialites.

However I was miserable. I found myself barely able to drag myself out of bed, struggling to motivate myself at work and always bored out of my mind. The only thing that made me happy was when I got to coach one of my team members.

This got me thinking, what if I could work with people all the time, helping them find their direction and ultimately fulfill their full potential? But how was I going to show people direction when I didn’t really feel like I had any in my own life?

It was at this point that Caroline came into my life. I had never met a life coach in my life till this point and I didn’t think there were any in Kenya; I had only heard of career coaches and spiritual coaches. In our first meeting together, I immediately knew I had found what I was looking for – I wanted to be a coach. I was exuberant and signed up for her Create Your Dream Business (CYDB) program which basically guides people on how to convert their passion into a business.

Since I have a natural passion for working with people, I initially thought it would be an easy journey. However after the very first session, I realized that to become a great coach, I would first have to work on my own skeletons. What I expected to be a very painful experience was made largely bearable by Caroline’s keen guidance combined with just the right mix of tough love, pushing me forward whenever I wanted to quit.

She showed me how to uncover what was making me stuck and how to overcome all the obstacles that were holding me back from my full potential. She taught me how to accept everything about me, appreciating that every feeling in me serves a purpose and how to turn that purpose into power. I was initially skeptical about the true power of my thoughts over me, but with time I came to see just how much I was able to influence overall outcomes by simply changing the way I think.

Most importantly, she showed me how to truly believe in myself and after just two months in her program, I was already applying the principles to launch my own coaching practice – two people signed up for my own coaching program!

What I love about the CYDB program is the fact that it’s extremely practical and not just textbook theory. The principles that Caroline teaches are based on practical situations that you can apply to any business that you dream of doing – and the results are astounding! I am now running a part-time practice with a realistic time line of ultimately taking my coaching practice to full time; something else that she taught me. What I love most about being a life and motivation coach is that I have been able to take what comes naturally to me and turn it into something I do every day, and get paid for it! I was able to discover my true purpose in life and how to make every day the best day of my life.

I owe all this to Caroline and I recommend her without any reservations – you need her.”

You can find Carol at http://www.newdawnsolutions.net/

RollerCoaster Clarity.

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For the past two months or so I feel like my life has been on a roller-coaster of sorts. Turns out that running a coaching practice (part-time) alongside a full time regular job isn’t a piece of cake. Add to that trying to launch a whole new enterprise on transformational leadership and change management plus keeping the boys in my life smiling and I was basically spinning!

The one lesson that I have learnt during this time is this: Be careful what you wish for, you might just get it!

You see, right before this roller-coaster episode of my life, I had been forlornly regarding my life as too slow and not exciting or challenging enough. I did not feel that I was utilizing my skills and passion to their full potential and I was generally feeling that my progress was too slow for my liking.

Now it’s quite true that life is strange and things happen when you least expect them to. Suddenly, in the course of a couple of weeks, I had numerous queries regarding my coaching practice with people requesting for sessions out of the blue. I took this in stride since I love coaching and promptly snapped up the opportunities. However, life was not yet done with me. Two major responsibilities were dumped in my lap, both requiring my time and attention. Suddenly the hours in the day shrunk to non-existent, and I began to feel overwhelmed at the immense pressure. I was literally coming apart at the seams and the balls that I was juggling began to fall to the ground one by one. I felt I had spread myself too thin and in typical cave-woman fashion, I dropped everything, shut down and bolted myself into my cave to figure out what to do.

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The one thing that conflicted me the most was the fact that all these were excellent opportunities – people would kill for them. I kept feeling that if I didn’t grab them now, then they would be gone for good and I would regret it for life. The more I kept feeling like this however, the more I retreated into the safe recesses of my secluded cave, shutting out any and all attempts to help me.

What I kept coming back to again and again, was my vision. My direction for my future. It was like a guiding light in a stormy dark night. You see, that’s the one thing that I am irrefutably grounded on. I know exactly what I want to do in terms of fulfilling my purpose and I more or less know how to do it. So I finally had to ask myself a really tough question; as excellent as these opportunities were, did they fit in with my overall vision? Would they lead me to my vision or away from it? Would I wake up one year from now happy that I had taken them on, or miserable as I was one year ago and feeling like what I did had no meaning?

What some of us may not realize is that too many opportunities are just as bad as none at all. A year ago I would have simply signed on to everything and somehow pulled it off, regardless of where it fitted into my vision – at that time I was wandering around in circles and grabbing onto anything and everything just to remain sane. This time however was different. As a result of being very clear on the direction I was moving in, I actually turned these opportunities down and returned my focus to what really mattered to me and what ultimately gets me out of bed every morning.

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As I went through this process, I realized that numerous bad decisions are made by people daily simply because of a false belief that opportunities are limited. You know, the whole, “once in a lifetime opportunity, grab it now because it will never again be offered to you!” How many of us have bought houses, cars, land, taken a job, gotten into a relationship etc simply because you thought it was a once-in-a-lifetime deal? Only to later realize that something better came along or you just weren’t happy with the decision you made? I know I have been victim a couple of times.

Truth is, that’s just a sales gimmick. Opportunities will always exist – they were there before we were born and they will be there long after we are gone. What makes an opportunity distinctive is timing. If you’re not ready for it, nothing will come out of it no matter how much you try to force it. As a good friend of mine often quips, “sometimes time chooses the person.” Meaning that, when it’s your time, even you will not be able to stop the roller coaster and you will actually enjoy the ride – you will be ready for the ride.

If you’re reading this today and you’re not clear on your vision or your direction, drop me a line. My passion is helping people discover their direction, develop their vision and in so doing, find their future and fulfill their ultimate potential.

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My Angel.

Exactly seven years ago, my life changed irrevocably. Exactly seven years ago, God sent me a precious little Angel to save me. Exactly seven years ago today, my little man Aidan came into the world.

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Today I celebrate him with this post, simply because, he is absolutely and without a doubt, the best thing that ever happened to me in my entire life. You see, I was never really prepared for him. People say you prepare for a child, but honestly, nothing really prepares you for a child. In my case it was even more extreme because he kind of popped into my life when I was at the lowest point of my existence. I was convinced I would be a horrid mum and kept asking God, why, why, why now?

Nothing could have prepared me for my little Angel. Little did I know that it was I who would learn from him and be inspired by him; and very rarely, the other way around. There was nothing cliché about his actual birth. I was highly doped up on pain medication (thank you Dr W.!) which meant that when the nurses grandly presented him to me, I did not go “oooooh, aaaaahhhh……” like I hear other mums declare. My first words to my son were “So this is the one who has been giving me all this stress….” After which I promptly nodded off. (effects of the meds!)

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Hours later, less dopey, I was happily receiving my visitors who of course demanded to see the little Angel. I found my way uncertainly to the nursery and inquired which of the many screaming tots was mine. When they showed him to me, I remember peering curiously at him and wondering, “….now what the heck do I do?” Bottom line, the so called and claimed “rush of love and motherhood instinct” never hit me until two weeks later during a particularly rough morning when he just wouldn’t stop crying. I remember trying to give him a sponge bath (he hated those) and he just kept bawling. I finally put down the wash sponge and burst into tears – frustration, sleep deprivation and apparently, effects of postpartum depression, all pouring out of me. When we were done crying, I just felt like something had shifted. I picked him up and looked into his eyes and just knew it. That we were stuck together, for better or worse, he was mine. All mine.

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There is no way I can possibly do justice to seven whole years with my little Angel in just one post so I will not even try. I will say a couple of things though.

Simply put, he is the most amazing human being I have ever encountered. He has this knack of just sensing when I am not ok and putting his little arms around me trying to make it all better. He is very creative and we often have a difficult time distinguishing between actual events, and one of his famous “creative plays”. He brings light and fun into any room he goes into, and makes friends with everyone! Children follow him everywhere, lapping up his every word. Adults find him refreshingly mature to have conversations with. He has the most beautiful eyes and will not hesitate to use them to manipulate me into whatever his heart’s desire is. (he learnt this too soon, honestly, I really pity the girls!). He has the most infectious laugh that can deliver you from any depression or preoccupation with trivial things. The best part of my day is always getting home, usually catching him in the middle of some mischief which he will desperately try to wiggle out of.

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If I had to summarize him in one sentence, that sentence would be “He is the best part of me.” Because he truly is. He makes me want to be a better person, just to live up to his expectations, since in his own words; I am the best mummy in the world. And just for him, I try to live each day to be the best that I can possibly be.

Happy Birthday my Precious Angel!!

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FOR ALL THE MUMS OUT THERE…

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Last week I was having a chat with my sister who recently got pregnant with her first baby. She was narrating an experience she had had with some ladies at a function. You know the typical ones where all the men segregate together and the ladies are left to themselves? So as they chatted, the topic (inevitably) turned to babies, motherhood and pregnancy. The interesting thing, or should I say shocking, was that none of them had anything positive to say about the entire experience. Now my sister found this very alarming, to say the least, considering that they all had more than one child. At some point, she couldn’t take the negativity any longer and gave them a piece of her mind. Of course they castigated her (as expected) and told her that her lack of experience was distorting her opinion and that she should wait till she got her baby to know just how “bad it was”. At this point, she decided that the men were better company and moved away from what she termed as “negative energy”.

Which brings us to our chat; she wanted to know if it was really as bad as it was being made out to be and why someone like me still remained positive about pregnancy despite having gone through what can only be described as a horror story in my pregnancies. (Yes there was more than one; story for another day). My response was my standard one; that some people will always choose to see the negative side of anything; it takes a lot of energy to always try and see the positive side. Which a lot of people do not have the time, nor energy for. It’s actually a lot easier to be negative.

To be honest, though, I have a much more profound perspective when it comes to parenting. I am a single mum, and I can honestly say that without my son, my life wouldn’t have that much meaning. Despite everything I went through to have him, I wouldn’t change a single thing. Because there is no greater blessing in my life than my son. I would give my life for him. I look at him every day and thank God for giving me the honor of raising him.

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You see, children belong to God. A mother is accorded a special, divine responsibility to care for one of God’s children. How do I know this? Because in all my wildest dreams and fantasies, I could not have fathomed how this tiny being, so adorable, so innocent, so perfect, so loyal, so pure (I could go on and on)….could possibly have been my own creation. I’m obviously just a humble guardian; to take care of him till he can stand on his own two feet. Another reason I know this? He came laden with God given blessings! A lot of struggling mothers can relate to this; you will always somehow manage to feed, clothe your child no matter what your circumstances. It’s said that God will never give you what you cannot handle, and this is especially true for children. 

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So, when I hear mothers being all negative about pregnancy, children and parenting in general, it breaks my heart. Yes it’s not easy at all. It is however, the greatest blessing that will ever be bestowed on you in your entire life. Not your career, not your fancy house, not your spouse, not your annual holiday; Your Child is the greatest blessing. Straight from God.

You may have had a difficult pregnancy. Why focus on it? Focus on the amazing tiny being that resulted. Focus on the amazing milestones – opening his eyes, learning to crawl and walk, his first words, the first time he said “I love you mummy”, his first day at school, his first love, and how you will always be his mum no matter what. That’s what I choose to focus on. Because my son changed my life. For the better.

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Always speak positive of your child no matter where you are or who you are with. Your children need unconditional love. They need affirmation and encouragement. They need their parents’ counsel. Always appreciate your child; do not take them for granted. Discipline them in love when they do wrong and celebrate them when they do good.

And the next time someone starting out on the journey asks for your counsel, choose to give the full side of the story. That yes, it has its ups and downs. That yes, child birth is painful. That yes, your child will challenge you on a daily basis. That ultimately, all things considered, it will be the greatest and best experience in the world, filled with daily blessings. That your child will be the best thing that will ever happen to you.

Happy Mother’s Day! 

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The Second Time Around…

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I was never much of a believer in second chances. Especially in the big stuff like career choices, investment decisions and of course the biggest, Love. I always figured that once you had picked a particular path or made a choice, you were pretty much stuck with it for life. It also did not help that I knew (and still know to date) numerous people who were stuck in careers or relationships they weren’t really happy in. A common factor across all these people was that they had chosen to stick it out, not really believing that second chances existed for them, or that they could be happy should they opt out. I guess something to do with the old saying “Better the devil you know….”

So there I was; stuck in a rut. In a career that didn’t fulfill me at all but paid the bills so I figured what the heck. I was also recovering from the gut wrenching heart break of what I thought was the love of my life till it all fell apart months from the altar. And I had pretty much convinced myself that no one gets a second shot at that kind of love, it just wasn’t feasible. So I made do. I woke up every morning and went through the motions of life without really living. I filled the void of loneliness with meaningless friends, endless banter and the temporary comfort of liquor-induced euphoria. All the while convincing myself that I belonged there, since people didn’t get second chances – at least that was what I thought.

Then one day it was just no longer enough. I couldn’t continue just existing anymore. I couldn’t take the whirlpool of the black hole anymore. But I also had no idea how to get out. So I locked myself in my house for about 4 months to just figure out what I wanted to do. At which point my Second Chance literally walked into my life. Interestingly our lives collided at the exact point that we both desperately needed second chances, but didn’t honestly believe we deserved them. But we both took a risk and decided to take a chance. A second chance.

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I can now honestly say that second chances, once you take the risk and bite the bullet, are the best things in life. Why? Well for one, you have learnt from your mistakes the first time round and you apply the lessons. You have also learnt to appreciate what you have because you know what it would feel like if you lost it. You also know what it is like to fail, so you do your darn best to succeed. You have also learnt that no one is perfect, least of all you. You are therefore more giving, more selfless, more listening, more understanding, more compromising. You have learnt how to take your head out of the fantasy clouds and are very realistic in all the decisions you make.

 Alot of people I know are terrified of the leap of faith that a second chance requires; especially in the face of loss or pain from the first time around. But I also now know that those who do take that leap of faith never look back. They move on to third, fourth, fifth chances because they now have the faith to keep rising; no matter how many times they fall. I have learnt that the first step isn’t the hardest to take. It is the second, after you have fallen.

If you’re stuck today, look up. Your second chance is waiting for you.

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