Man is a creature of habit: doing and following a learned pattern of acting or thinking or feeling. We learn this pattern of responding to problems and challenges in life from those whom we closely associate with starting with our parents and following it through with our peers, friends and spouses. Some habits are good while others are bad. We develop these habits to fit in or gain approval of others and occasionally we develop habits to remain different. Good habits help to conserve human mental energy for more complex tasks and challenges while bad habits cost us by wasting energy and limiting human growth and development. It is the responsibility of parents to guide children into establishing good habits in the early years of their lives.

One good habit I have been practicing for the last twenty years is to organize my physical space regularly. At the end of each winter season, I would comb through my wardrobe for items that I did not need any more and give them to the children in  the SOS Children’s Village. I would also give some items to the helper in the house. At the end of the year, I would also clear the kitchen and my desk, leaving only what I needed at that moment in time. I had no attachment to things so I never even kept anything that I hoped to use in the future. By letting go of things that I did not need, I was freeing my mind, heart and soul to engage fully with life. As a result, my life was organized ; my self-esteem was high and I was more productive and creative in my work. I did not need a psychologist to teach me that there was an emotional connection between a disorganized physical space and attachment to things.
During the short time I have been home , I seem to be accumulating things more than I have ever done in my life ! I am worried that if I continue holding onto things, they will weigh me down. Both my mental and physical health will be damaged. I have had to pause and ponder.
I have had to ask myself what I was doing differently and why I had relaxed about committing without being attached to people or things.
Am I being affected by the disorganization floating all around me in the country? Is there something missing in my life to be a complete individual? Have I missed what is most important in my life at this moment in time ? Do I feel that I have a lot of free space in my home?

I have had to read extensively about Clutter and Declutter. The psychologists have helped me understand what I am experiencing in my life. The clutter in my life symbolizes some emotional baggage and unfinished business in my life.
I am one of those people who function best where there is order and functional systems. If I am to survive and thrive in this chaotic environment, I have to create some order of some sort. I have everything in me to function as a complete individual. I have to rely on myself once again and pursue things that inspire me and keep me busy. I should improve my life – physically, mentally and emotionally and the best way to start is to do what it takes to overcome this bad habit of allowing physical stuff to take up room in my life. I have to replace the bad habit I had picked up with the old good habit I had established years ago. I have to ‘relearn’ to organize my physical space by letting go of my attachment to things and people. It is the only way I can stop all my old boundaries from being blown apart. It is a gradual process. I have to go through all the clutter one item at a time. For each item I have to assess its value in my life and its association to what I want to achieve at this level of my life. The cardinal rule still holds: keep only what you need at that moment in time . I should not keep anything that does not bring anything positive in my life or anything that I hope to use in future.
I believe that my strong character will help me to break that bad habit I had picked up. I am so determined to improve my life that if I fail to overcome the habit, I will have to seek for professional help.
After all I know for sure that asking for help is a sign of courage and wisdom.
Oprah Winfrey says : “ You get in life what you have the courage to ask for.”
“ Be strong enough to stand alone, smart enough to know when you need help, and brave enough to ask for it.’’ Author Unknown.

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In June I was like a Viking Age ship: the strong winds blew me off centre. It has taken me a while to get back on course.
It all started with that dreaded phone call from my young sister in London, United Kingdom. We had lost a close relative who had lived in London since his graduation in 1976. He had won himself an academic scholarship to the University College London and was awarded a doctorate in Science at a tender age of thirty two years. He went on to teach Mathematics, later added Computer Studies in several schools within London. He was recognized for his contribution to education for overt thirty years.
Long before our conversation ended, I knew for sure that the funeral would be in London.
“ Are you bringing Emmanuel home for burial?” I asked.
“ No, he had made United Kingdom his home and wished to be buried there.’’
Thereafter, I dropped everything and started on the arduous process of applying for a Visitors Visa to UK. I had to go and support my sister through this rough time.

Applying for the Visa online was not a problem but gathering the catalogue of supporting documents required in such a short time , was as daunting as crossing the first part of the Drakensberg mountain range of South Africa. The fact that I have recently returned home after being away for twenty one years, did not make things any easier. I even had no idea of where the Country’s Visa Application Centre was located. I had to move fast and learn fast too.
I have never been as grateful for the current easy communication by Mobile phone and the Internet as I was during that hectic week. Finally, everything fell in place and then began the waiting for the response from the Regional Office from Pretoria, South Africa. Amazingly, eight days later, I was on the Emirates flight from Entebbe Airport to London via Dubai. Having sheltered in the Southern African region for the last two decades, I had never travelled by Emirates or passed through that humongous Dubai International Airport. The four hours of waiting at Dubai turned out to be an advantage to me. It took me ages to get to terminal 3 where I was to board the flight to London. This proved to be child’s play after I had taken almost two hours to be cleared through Immigration at Heathrow Airport Terminal 3! A Sports watch showed that I had walked 1,723 steps during that time! No doubt Heathrow is Europe’s busiest airport. Next time I travel by Emirates I will definitely choose to land at Gatwick Airport.

By the 8th June, all those who mattered had gathered in London to fulfill our beloved’s dying wish.
Many friends; some of whom I had not seen in over twenty years, joined us to celebrate a life well-lived. One of Emmanuel’s favourite sayings kept playing in my head: “ A teacher affects Eternity. He can never tell where his influence stops.” As for the family, he had left us with too many happy memories to remember him by. By the end of the day I felt that it had been worth all the effort.

During the days that followed, I kept waking up in the middle of the night wondering where I was. This was the only trip to London that I had not planned for. It took me another week to wake up to what was going on around me. It was early Summer time and the days were crammed with activities. There was the five-day Royal Ascot horse racing in Berkshire, Flower shows, 2018 Wimbledon Tennis Championships from 2nd July, and the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. When England played against Sweden, my sister and I held on each other , sat through the match and cheered wildly after the 2-0 defeat. It went to show that life is for the living. Gradually we shall pull from within and get on with our lives. I am determined to get back to the centre and sail with the wind.

It is now a week since I returned, I have had time to reflect on what I have learned from this unexpected experience. Among them is that I may plan for the day but a Higher
power directs my steps, that the world would be an incredibly dull place without true friendship and that every complex situation presents me with an opportunity to learn and grow.
A quote from Martin Luther King Jr reminds me daily of how we are interrelated: “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.’’
As you run through the maze of life take moments to remind yourself that the most important people in your life is yourself , family and friends. They exist in your life and you exist in theirs and therefore need to be protected and respected.

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