Friday 19th February 2016
Recently, as in July last year, Poriot and I both happened to read Stephen Covey’s writings at the same time. I, while I was at the African Leadership Academy for the Global Scholars Program, and he when he was at Kenyatta University for the Young African Leaders Initiate (YALI) program. Among many things that we learned from these two amazing programs was proactivity- the idea that you (can) choose how things affect you. Instead of being re-active, you can choose to be pro-active. You may not have control over how things affect you but you do have control over how you respond to the issues/feelings/people. One of the taglines for that is ‘carry your own weather’, meaning don’t allow yourself to be sad just because it is a gloomy cloudy day, or vice versa. You can/must be in control of your reaction and mood and response to stuff.
So he (Poriot, not Covey, may he rest in peace) and I have been reminding ourselves of these lessons and trying to practice them (among other things such as me going to bed earlier so that I don’t fall asleep while driving). This week, on Monday, we drove home together and I was chatting like a chatterbox, (what’s new), and I was really in a great mood. Earlier in our relationship I used to feel guilty about this because it felt like I was hoarding all the ‘talk time’ until I realized that Poriot really did (does?) enjoy my banter and like most men (I generalize, I know), really only listens to half of what I say and knows when to Nod thoughtfully and say ‘Mmmhhhmm” and usually really that’s all the prompting I need to keep going. We also came to discover that in every (most) relationship(s) there is a talker and a listener, so long as you both are cool with the roles, it usually works fine. It has worked perfectly for us so far (in my view of course, you’ll have to ask Poriot for his :-))
So, back to the story, on Monday evening as we drove home together I was all sunshine and rainbows. I had managed to do thirty minutes of Zumba in the morning and was feeling very happy with myself because I had not done it for like two years and as a result of doing it I had had a really great day at work. Zumba always takes me to a good place. Apart from the glimmer of hope of finding my waist which went missing in 2012, and has since been quite elusive (One of these days I am going to put up a Missing Things poster for it); I really just enjoy the dancing, the rhythmic music and the endorphin that is released that makes me less stressed about everything at work and in my social life (such as people not responding to stuff in WhatsApp groups, I know I should drop it, shouldn’t I?).
As soon as we got home, however, I started noticing all this stuff that hadn’t been done in the house, and all the mischief that the kids were up to, pressing remotes and so on, and read an email that someone had sent that was not so positive, and my mood started going down. I started complaining, sulking, pulling my (already prominent) lower lip out…and Poriot was like, “Nooo!” “What? What has happened, I asked?” He told me, very gently, that I should stop being sad because when I am sad, I affect his mood too and he starts to feel sad too. And I was like, “Yah, by the way, I meant to ask, why are YOU looking so forlorn all of a sudden?! At least I know my ‘forlorn-ness” is about dusters and carpets and upcoming programs at work which people are emailing about at 6pm, for you what is the issue?” And he said, which I had never realized, that when I start to sulk and cause havoc and complain about tomatoes and cabbage and whatever else, I actually affect the whole household, kids included- though maybe not Lulu, her she really carries her own weather. Part of it is just , I think, she is not at an age where she can understand what people are saying so she is in La-la land having a ball full time, bless her. Lukundo is more sensitive and senses when you are sad or mad and you see him become withdrawn too. Our help too is generally very jovial and very social but she too withdraws to solitude when Mama Lukundo comes in with stress from work or the air or wherever I usually catch my stress from.
Poriot reminded me of that statement that I shouldn’t allow minor things to put me down when I had had had such a great day- that I should carry my on weather. And I asked why HE wasn’t carrying his own weather? Why was he allowing my mood to affect his mood? And he said, and this is the punch line, “You see what you don’t know is that you carry your weather and mine.” Gosh. I stopped right in my tracks and went quiet for a while. I felt that that was such a profound thing to say (I am a hopeless romantic, we all know this, so bear with me). I mean this sentence summed up an important aspect of relationships – marriage in particular, but relationships in general. When you are in partnership with someone who you love dearly, you carry each other’s weathers (to a certain extent, of course).
The whole point of it is that if you are in a relationship and you are ever busy sulking, complaining, worrying, stressing…you might be affecting more than yourself. In fact you ARE affecting more than yourself. Sounds quite simple yet we miss it all the time. You might be a major (not the only, but a major) reason why your partner seems sad, mad, down, uninspired, not thrilled all the time. I am not saying that we should take responsibility for our partners’ or loved ones’ moods (after all we live in the era of each man for himself and God for us all), but I AM saying that we have a lot of power over ourselves and over those we love, and those who love us, and vice versa. Hence it is worthwhile to try and give off what we want to receive, if it’s positive vibes we want, let’s try and give the same off. If it’s assurance, calmness, respectfulness, compliments, warmth… let us give off the same.
The following day after that conversation, I tried carrying my weather. I refused to allow people’s words and actions to dampen my spirits. I refused to allow them to determine my happiness or unhappiness. At work, I chose to respond rather than REACT to stuff. And what big difference it made to my stress levels! When I came home in the evening, I withheld from commenting negatively about this or that, and it worked like magic. It really did. Not that we must now keep quiet and not improve things that we see as problematic, but maybe do it with less stress, panic and less doom! So maybe the baby poured milk on the sofa… it is not the end of the world. Maybe someone at work is trying to pass blame on to you for something that they or someone else were/was totally meant to do… it is not the end of the world. Respond (maturely, rationally); don’t react. Maybe that rude, crazy driver is trying to cut you off in traffic, let them. You don’t have to stoop to their level (of foolishness), it will only aggravate you for nothing if you let him (okay, or her, or her) make you angry.
Now allow me to start my Friday, folks. I have weathers to carry. Today I would like to carry sunshine and warmth; I will try and keep dark clouds and storms at bay- for myself and all the people’s weathers I clearly carry. Are YOU carrying your own weather? I sure hope so! Good day.