Archive | April 2012

Celebrating the wonderful ‘Marys’ who shaped my life!

Cover of "The Meaning of Mary Magdalene: ...

This Easter weekend, I ‘d love to celebrate some wonderful women that have shaped the course of my youth and subsequently, my life.  I call them the ‘wonderful Marys’. They were women who dared to follow their passions, went against all societal norms and fulfilled their destinies.

#1: Mary Ike, my aunt.

Aunt Mary was my mother’s younger sister and they could not be more different in personalities. While my mother was quiet and reserved, aunt Mary was extroverted and talkative. She was blunt and never suffered fools. Some important life lessons I learned from her was that the best way to proclaim your faith in God was to love people and have faith in the human spirit  even in the face of hurt, disappointment and pain.  She taught me that ‘education’ without ‘heart’ was merely an ego-tripping exercise and our greatest accomplishment was not in our job titles or positions but in small, practical ways we positively impacted the lives of those around us.

She taught me to never keep things bottled up and that some times in life having respectful confrontations was necessary to getting closure and moving on. She taught me about navigating the often challenging waters of family ties and relationships, the importance of always being clear on what I stand for and believed in, without equivocation. And most of all, the secret delight of cooking and enjoying family meals as a form of worship and bonding.

She was an unapologetic optimistic, a wise realist, a smart woman and a hard worker who consciously made a choice to be a dedicated home maker, wife and mother and did it with great panache!

Sadly, aunt Mary passed away one week ago. I know she’ll be having a wonderful ball with the angels above! May her soul RIP.

#2: . Mary Okobi, my high school principal

The first time I saw Mary Okobi, I was a new student at an all girls’ boarding school. I remember the mischievous dimple, those intelligent twinkling eyes and the sing-song lilting voice saying ‘Good morning girls’. She built a centre of excellence where we arrived as starry-eyed pre-teens and left as confident, well-bred young ladies. We were taught to be future leaders who dared to dream and accomplish the impossible. She taught us that there were no boundaries to what we could achieve as long as we set our minds to it. Boundaries were non-existent in her world; not gender, not race, not disability….She was eternally curious about life, science, the arts and she succeeded in passing the spirit of originality and wonder unto all of us..

With her, I saw first hand the magic of a magnetic personality, the gift of charisma and an ability to wield authority with grace.  She taught me about being visionary and taking action and most importantly, that leadership was not about being popular but about creativity and engagement and creating a compelling call to action!

She ignited my passion for the written word and was the first person to understand the unwritten lines within my works of prose and poetry. I remember a poem I’d written for a visiting education minister:’Let’s take it to the Minister’. On the surface, it seemed to be a tribute with praises and accolades but for me, it had a subtext and had really been a satire about the unresponsiveness of government to the education sector and  the egocentric nature of officials in positions of power and authority. It was such a fantastic feeling to find that after countless recitals of the poem, she was the only one who knew it was a satire and she had even a  ‘laugh-out-loud’ moment and winked at me when the clueless minister gushed over the poem. I thought to myself: ‘Here’s a kindred spirit’. I must confess that she’s one of the key reasons that I still write today.

Although, Mrs Mary Okobi passed away several years ago,  she’ll always live on in my heart.

#3: Mary of Magdala

While Mary, the mother of Jesus mystified me as a child with her sense of innocence, faith and stoic strength in the face of her son’s life, it was the other Mary- the  Magdalene who simply fascinated me. The whole mystery surrounding her life, her ability to leave everything behind and follow this man, this saviour who seemed to ‘get her’ always intrigued me.

There always seemed to be an air of unwritten pain and history about her and a hint of a certain fear by historians in writing about or delving deeply into her life. She was an amalgam of  feminine strength, passion, fearlessness, sensuality, innocence, humility, power and banked embers of fiery fires.  That part in the holy book when she anointed the saviour’s feet with oil and used her hair to gently wipe it off- sheer poetry in motion!!

There was nothing traditional about her and some of the most important lessons I’ve learned from her life is the power of true repentance, the beauty of unconditional love and the peace of a truly forgiving spirit. And also, the importance of pursuing our purpose in life with everything we’ve got.

(For all the Mary Magdalene enthusiasts out there, two suggested readings you’ll absolutely enjoy: ‘Mary, called Magdalene by Margaret George and The meaning of Mary Magdalene by Cynthia Bourgeault).

So ladies, are there women who have shaped your beliefs and ideas about life? Is it a  family member, friend, mentor, colleague, historical or mythical figure? We’d love to hear from you as you celebrate these women and describe how they’ve shaped the wonderful, unique creatures you’ve become!

Leave your comments and be an inspiration in action to others.

Live Beautifully! Live Passionately! Live Freely!

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Remember, you are not ordinary, you are divinely unique.

You are WOW (Wonderful One-of-a-kind Woman)!

w(H)olistically Yours,

© Whole Woman Network

Key to Success? It’s all about what you DO!

Note: Some members of the WWN community who are currently working from home as professionals, starting their own business and/or are involved in a Network Marketing opportunity requested that we share some tips for success with the larger group. So here are some thoughts:

The success of any business venture: Brick and Mortar, Internet-based Sales & Marketing, Network marketing, Professional Services etc is all dependent on what YOU DO! It has nothing to do with the 1000’s of franchises, ideas, programs, opportunities and hypes out there.

Your success is dependent not just on your ‘talk’ and ‘plans’ but more importantly on your ‘actions’. You lead yourself and your dreams with your sense of focus and keep it alive with the steps you take. Remember, YOU set the tone and direction for the dynamics within your team(s). So while you are at the TOP of your network, your success also depends on whats going on at the bottom.

There will always be new businesses coming up, as well as those folding up. That is a fact of life. We all evolve, ideas, technology, needs and wants all change. Business opportunities exist on this simple premise. For instance, in network marketing, all you are doing is building a personal network and marketing different ideas, products, services and opportunities to them. So you should not be too concerned with the opportunity. What should be of more interest to is building a PERSONAL BRAND. Business success will flow naturally from that!

So the question you should be asking is not just: Is this a great opportunity? Rather it should also be: How big is my network? How consistently and persistently will I continue to build upon it until it is on auto-pilot? Focus on reaching and connecting with people in your network and building value-based relationships. If people are satisfied and ‘wowed’ with your brand and service/product offering, they will become excellent referral sources and send others to you! (This is particularly true for women clients).

Read our next blog entry titled: ‘Some useful Steps To Grow Your Rolodex’ for some tips on building meaningful relationships and expanding your business or professional networks.

Live Passionately! Live Freely! Live Beautifully!

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Remember, you are not ordinary, you are divinely unique.

You are WOW (Wonderful One-of-a-kind Woman)!

w(H)olistically Yours,

© Whole Woman Network

Ladies, Are You Settling For a life of ‘Burnt Toasts’ and ‘Designer Wheel Chairs’?

Cover of "Burnt Toast"It is often said that the space for who and what you truly desire in life is often occupied by whom and what you settled for. We all need the gifts of wisdom and courage to thrive and enjoy life with grace, rather than merely surviving the motions.

During the past two weeks, I lost two wonderful women in my life to the clutches of cold, sudden death. They both had a lot in common; both caring mothers and loving wives, who sacrificed their lives and dreams to give the best to their respective families. They held on to the blind faith that if they sacrificed their all and asked for nothing back, their spouses and children would love them more and return the favour much later in their lives.

They believed (rightly or wrongly), that at some undefined point in the future they would have enough time to treat themselves, to eat right, exercise right, dress right, take up a hobby, participate in their communities, live well and in general enjoy life! In the present, however, they settled for a life of ‘burnt toasts’ and ‘designer wheel chairs’!

The Phenomenon of ‘Burnt Toasts’.

I first came across this expression from the Desperate Housewives actress-Teri Hatcher (Her book ‘Burnt Toast and other Philosophies in Life’ is an inspiring, fun read!). She described a situation where women settled for the worst crumbs in life (aka burnt toasts), not because they want it or enjoy it but rather because they are conditioned to settling for the worst no matter how nasty it takes, looks or feel. It delves into the misplaced belief that by somehow ‘eating’ something that should ordinarily be thrown out in the garbage, we are doing some sort of ‘good’ and saving a bad situation. The reality is of course, that in choosing ‘burnt toasts’, all we are really saying is that we’re not good enough to deserve the best and we make ourselves the dumping ground for all sorts of ‘garbage’. In other words, we become ‘certified crap magnets’!

The Phenomenon of ‘Designer Wheel Chairs’.

I attended a couple’s 50th wedding anniversary party some years ago, where the husband, a boisterous charismatic man in his eighties gave a seeming ‘great’ speech/toast in honour of his lovely 75-year old wife for her unconditional love, support and dedication through the years. He talked about how she gave up everything-her family, career and passions to stand by him while he built his empire. In my naivety, I’d been moved by his touching anecdotes and commented to the other guests at the table. This drew some chuckles and uncomfortable glances. Later that night, I got to know that the husband was a chronic philanderer and that his long-suffering  wife had lived through many horrendous years of verbal, financial and physical abuse before he finally got cancer and of course ‘found the Lord’.

I remember watching her at the party, and seeing a woman who had glimpses of past beauty but now had very sad eyes. She had been adorned in stunning jewels but somehow seemed all drained and dried out. Most of all, I recall poignantly, the vividly beautiful, gleaming, state-of-the arts wheel chair she sat in. It was a sobering moment because it struck me then that she’d wasted the best years of her life simply waiting for her husband’s unconditional love. All she got in the end were ‘Designer Wheel Chairs’!!!

So ladies, are you settling for ‘burnt toasts’ and wasting away while awaiting your ‘designer wheel chairs’?

Live Passionately! Live Freely! Live Beautifully!

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Remember, you are not ordinary, you are divinely unique.

You are WOW (Wonderful One-of-a-kind Woman)!

w(H)olistically Yours,

© Whole Woman Network

BLOGGER BIO: The preceding blog entry is from Juliet Ume, MBA –Wealth Management Consultant & Lifestyle Coach at Whole Woman Network. Juliet is an avid Life Connoisseur and a passionate advocate of WomEntrepreneurship, Investment & Financial Literacy for women. Follow her on Twitter: @wholewomaninc