Our Top 10 inspired quotes from Zimbabwean women who inspire us

I continue to marvel at just how much giving my time and effort to this platform has transformed me.  GOD is truly at work through some amazing women in my life. I draw strength from the knowledge that there are so many women I can learn and grow from if I open myself to asking questions on how they encounter their successes.

In the coming weeks, we look forward to bringing to you more inspired testimonials, interviews, musings if you will – from Zimbabwean women that are mastering their own destinies and sharing their lives with others through their professions, works, talents and gifts. QF Features have been some of the most widely read elements of our blog, as readers are able to see themselves in the stories of other unique and tenacious women.

Today i’d like to share in one setting, some of the most beautiful words shared by women we have enjoyed sitting down with. I hope you enjoy these as we enjoyed sitting down and talking through their success stories…

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Check out their full interviews under the QF Features tab on our homepage. There’s plenty of wisdom there!

Quintessentially yours,

QF Yvonne

Don’t talk yourself out of what’s yours!

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”- Joshua 1:9

A few days ago I received a “YES” to something I had been believing in GOD for a little while. You see with me, when GOD wants me to take on an assignment, I become engulfed by a sense of urgency – like time is running out and I need to get started right away! As a matter of fact, that’s kinda how Quintessential F was born. An instruction, brainstorming over Skype and emails, and GOD meticulously sending the right people that would be a part of this vision coming to life. The same was the case when I got to researching, putting forward applications and drafting paperwork for this particular task, before sending it all in and letting GOD take control.

A call came in at almost 10pm and I picked it up because it was an international number (I have a no phone calls after 8pm policy unless time difference is involved). As the caller shared the good news and went over the next steps and what documentation I needed to send in in the coming days, I was immediately overcome by total anxiety. I silently started talking myself out of this thing I had been praying for over the past few weeks.

“I don’t have capacity, my schedule is too packed right now…”

“I’m barely scrapping the surface with all i have to do during the day; maybe I should wait till next year…”

“Budget!!!! I really need a vacation and want to go somewhere exotic before the year’s out but how now with the money required to get started with this thing…”

This internal debate loomed until I fell asleep.

As I drove my cubs to school the next morning, I asked GOD to give me a confirmation that would settle my mind.

You see beloved, GOD gives us what we ask for. If we ask for a job, He will give us one. It may not be exactly what we are looking for, but it is what’s needed to take you to that dream job. If you ask GOD for a marriage, He will give you that also. But He won’t do the work for you to keep that marriage happy and thriving. YOU need to put in the work.

As I drove back home, I felt a calm in my spirit as GOD reminded me that the doubt in my mind about whether I could or should pursue this thing, was yet another attempt by the devil to derail me from my ambition. I had asked for this particular thing. In fact I had asked for it for a long time but at different intervals such that anxiety should have been the last set of emotions to pay me a visit upon receipt of the good news. Now was the time to get started!  NOW presented the right ingredients and conditions to challenge myself further, but here came the enemy trying to talk me out of what’s already been given unto me.

This is what the devil, and his cousins fear and anxiety do. They talk you out of your purpose, they talk you out of your faith and they talk you out of your strength.  We ask, GOD grants, but then we resist receiving by convincing ourselves we aren’t ready, or worthy, or capable. Don’t let this be you! Not today and moving forward, not ever!

As a type this, I am excited to having accepted this gift i have been praying for. It took me 24 hours to push through and psyche myself up spiritually and mentally. I am excited to discover more of GOD’s power working in me as I live out my life and work towards my destiny.

If there is something that your spirit has been telling you to do, but you are overcome by doubt, fear and maybe anxiety – look back at the prayers you have been sending to the heavens over the years. The enemy does anything he can to keep you from your blessings. Don’t give him that power. Rather, call on GOD to grant you the strength to see you push through the labour required for your vision to be born.

Quintessentially yours,

QF Yvonne

When your body checks-out, and REALISM checks-in

“He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary”- Isaiah 40:29-31

Fear, anxiety and subsequent sickness is very real people. Never underestimate its ability to completely derail you – if you let it. I work hard to stay on the optimism track – maintaining a positive outlook as best I can with everything I do. In all my doing, I pray that GOD helps me to allow my rather colorful and animated outlook on life leave an imprint in the hearts of people I encounter. But even those that aim to spread the message of good cheer crash and burn sometimes. I have to say though, that the women in my life do an outstanding job of helping me to keep my “slay tap” running. Only GOD knows how grateful I am for them.

A few days ago, I took a second to take stock of what needed to be done in the next couple of weeks. We’ve just recently moved house, the kids are enrolled in a new school and I am trying to adjust to the new driving distances, the new school and work schedules, knocks on the door from home from family members affected by the malaise in Zim – et al. No kidding – I went from cruising at 100kph mentally to a screeching zero! I shared the other day that I unexpectedly fell sick – and that messed me up completely.

Then came the being bedridden on pain meds in a full on comatose state. It’s Eid break here, so I was looking forward to the extra days of regrouping and hopefully getting my body back on track. But my mind was plagued by guilt. I didn’t feel like I had been as productive as I should be notwithstanding how much more is on my plate with the new scheduling. I felt like I was merely glazing through, like someone sitting on a train watching the trees zoom past through the window. I was struggling to reconcile my thoughts – what needed to be done, getting it done EFFICIENTLY and moving onto the next task. My spirits were low. Marry that with the “mommy can you take us to the movies, mommy we don’t like this in our lunch, can we have this instead, mommy, we have Arabic homework” – (still not sure what they expect me to do to help my kid with Arabic homework but I digress)….

24 hours became 48 hours of me slipping down a slope of complete drudgery and anxiety. What is going on? How will I get this done? Oh wait – this and this still isn’t done. I need a vacation…soon. Why can’t I go on vacation anyway…and enjoy fine foods and colorful drinks with my feet in the sand somewhere…and those starchy hotel sheets, yes..those hotel sheets!!! So I parked myself in my bed and wallowed. The I got to breaking my feelings down to hubs who is away on a whole other continent, mom and day, my brothers, my friends – all of which are also on whole other continents! I reached out to whomever I thought would have a word of encouragement for me. And encouraged I was.

Hubs said something really profound. His pragmatism never seizes to amaze. Sometimes it’s what I need to get jerked out of those thoughts of self-pity and disgruntlement. I quote him:

“If you are unwell, and are resting, you are SUPPOSED TO BE UNPRODUCTIVE! Part of your stress is coming from you fighting what your body, mind and spirit are telling you. Listen to your body. That’s why they have hospitals with beds in them – to force people to listen to their bodies and do nothing until they get right”

A dear friend of mine Mutsa – bless her. Her jokes – alongside the daily musings, debates, unadulterated vent sessions, laughs and such my other ex-Chisi sisters Vee, Loz, Chido, Zish, Ziso, Noma, Msipa, Ru, Linda, Sandy and the others who chime in apo na apo – give me life. These women offer me MY DAILY SISTERLY SOULFOOD. Mutsa said as I vented:

“Sometimes you have to just say ‘ok, today I am NOT 100% in doing this so I will be 100% at doing something else – even if the something else means watching TD Jakes and refueling your tank”

I can’t emphasise enough, how much these two statements shaped my mindset and helped me get back on my feet. Throw in doses of Iyanla, TD Jakes, some Joyce Meyer here and there – and I realized that I was doing myself a disservice by trying to be a hero and trying to do everything perfectly. I also learned that it is okay to raise your flag and ask for help. Sometimes all you need are a few words or a little prayer from someone to pick you right back up and bring back your mojo.

The lessons for me over the past few days were strongly aligned to the importance of taking time to stop, unwind and in some cases, do nothing at all. Doing nothing at all for a short time actually means you are restocking your internal cabinetry, refueling your tank, refilling your cup. You cannot give what you do not have. If your strength wanes, how then can you have all that’s needed to tackle your to do lists with vigour or help others when they need your support and input.

Today’s post is about encouraging you beloved, to value yourself, your time and the need to replenish your stores. Your body checking out is never a good sign. It is always a signal to scale back on some activity so you can rebuild your capacity to do more with tomorrow’s set of objectives.

Quintessentially Yours,

QF Yvonne

 

Be still: When doing nothing is all you need

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If you are anything like me – I have days when it’s literally a struggle to get out of bed. Last week’s heat, the school run making a re-entry, juggling the day to day hustles of life and such – all of it – took a toll on me. I was bedridden for a day with a severe migraine and inexplicably high blood pressure, which the doctor attributed to stress. Stress I could accept – possibly…but nah! “Do you have a history of blood pressure issues in your family?” the doc asked. I thought about Mainini Tsitsi who passed away from a brain aneurism triggered by high levels of blood pressure. She was 21 when she died. I thought of my gran who sometimes experiences swollen limbs when hers peaks. “Surely no” I thought to myself. The challenge though was that each doctor visit this year had comes back with some irregularities in my BP – and that was beginning to throw a wrench in my positivity.

I’m in my bed as a type this out, suffering from the equivalent of writer’s block to a writer and lack of inspiration to a creative. My mind is telling me that I cannot let fear of ill health, and my body feeling a certain kind of way – keep me from pushing along – but my body really is tired. I was talking to my girlfriends just yesterday, wherein I asked if they ever feel like checking into a hotel, closing the curtains and sleeping for days on end – waking up to order room service and have a shower. What a relief to hear them all chime in “Yeap! I feel like that now!”

It’s important to take stock of what’s happening to your mind, body and soul, establishing root causes for any feelings that are contrary to what you would rather be experiencing. I woke up with a plan yesterday, but turned around and checked myself in for a massage because I felt I needed the quiet and the de-stressing. I’m soaking myself in some good content to restore all the flowery inspiration that keeps me soldiering on. I understand more than anything, that sometimes when I’ve been doing too much too fast – GOD has a way of making me take time away to refuel. So that’s what today and tomorrow will be about; taking time away to do nothing at all….

The profoundness of Og Mandino’s “17 Rules to live by”

Do not worry about tomorrow

A dear friend of mine unexpectedly lost someone very close to her. Over the past few days, we’ve shared several conversations on the impact of death to families, and just how much we often times take the very essence of living for granted. I’ve also in recent weeks, not only turned a year older, but come to realise the magnitude of responsibilities that come with being an adult. Thinking about it all can create  a tad bit of anxiety to be honest…

Life is a gift, a precious one at that – but how many of us are actually taking time to really smell that morning brew or listen to the sound of birds chirping outside our windows. The difficult thing about growing older, is that it also seems a little like the world expects more from us. Time commands more out of us; people need more from us, goals keep staring at you – often times leaving us sapped.

I read an inspired piece by Og Mandino the other day, that really spoke to me about how we ought to live our lives and thought to share it with y’all…

17 RULES TO LIVE BY From A Better Way to Live BY: OG MANDINO

1. Count your blessings. Once you realize how valuable you are and how much you have going for you, the smiles will return, the sun will break out, the music will play and you will finally be able to move forward toward the life that God intended for you…with grace, strength, courage and confidence.

2. Today, and every day, deliver more than you are getting paid to do. The victory of success will be half won when you learn the secret of putting out more than is expected in all that you do. Make yourself so valuable in your work that eventually you will become indispensable. Exercise your privilege to go the extra miles, and enjoy all the rewards you receive. You deserve them!

3. Whenever you make a mistake or get knocked down by life, don’t look back at it too long. Mistakes are life’s way of teaching you. Your capacity for occasional blunders is inseparable from your capacity to reach your goals. No one wins them all, and your failures, when they happen, are just part of your growth. Shake off your blunders. How will you know your limits without an occasional failure? Never quit. Your turn will come.

4. Always reward your long hours of labor and toil in the very best way, surrounded by your family. Nurture their love carefully, remembering that your children need models, not critics, and your own progress will hasten when you constantly strive to present your best side to your children. And even if you have failed at all else in the eyes of the world, if you have a loving family, you are a success.

5. Build this day on a foundation of pleasant thoughts. Never fret at any imperfections that you fear may impede your progress. Remind yourself, as often as necessary, that you are a creature of God and have the power to achieve any dream by lifting up your thoughts. You can fly when you decide that you can. Never consider defeat again. Let the vision in your heart be in your life’s blueprint. Smile!

6. Let your actions always speak for you, but be forever on guard against the terrible traps of false pride and conceit that can halt your progress. The next time you are tempted to boast, just place your fist in a full pail of water, and when you remove it, the hole remaining will give you a correct measure of your importance.

7. Each day is a special gift from God, and while life may not always be fair, you must never allow the pains, hurdles, and handicaps of the moment to poison your attitude and plans for yourself and your future. You can never win when you wear the ugly cloak of self-pity, and the sour sound of whining will certainly frighten away any opportunity for success. Never again. There is a better way.

8. Never again clutter your days or nights with so many menial and unimportant things that you have no time to accept a real challenge when it comes along. This applies to play as well as work. A day merely survived is no cause for celebration. You are not here to fritter away your precious hours when you have the ability to accomplish so much by making a slight change in your routine. No more busywork. No more hiding from success. Leave time, leave space, to grow. Now. Now! Not tomorrow!

9. Live this day as if it will be your last. Remember that you will only find “tomorrow” on the calendars of fools. Forget yesterday’s defeats, and ignore the problems of tomorrow. This is it. Doomsday. All you have. Make it the best day of your year. The saddest words you can ever utter are, “If I had my life to live over again…” Take the baton, now. Run with it! This is your day!

10. Beginning today, treat everyone you meet, friend or foe, loved one or stranger, as if they were going to be dead at midnight. Extend to each person, no matter how trivial the contact, all the care and kindness and understanding and love that you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again. 17 RULES TO LIVE BY [Og Mandino] 2

11. Laugh at yourself and at life. Not in the spirit of derision or whining self-pity, but as a remedy, a miracle drug, that will ease your pain, cure your depression, and help you to put in perspective that seemingly terrible defeat of the moment. Banish tension and concern and worry with laughter at your predicaments, thus freeing your mind to think clearly toward the solution that is certain to come. Never take yourself too seriously.

12. Never neglect the little things. Never skimp on that extra effort, that additional few minutes, that soft word of praise or thanks, that delivery of the very best that you can do. It does not matter what others think, it is of prime importance, however, what you think about you. You can never do your best, which should always be your trademark, if you are cutting corners and shirking responsibilities. You are special. Act it. Never neglect the little things.

13. Welcome every morning with a smile. Look on the new day as another special gift from your Creator, another golden opportunity to complete what you were unable to finish yesterday. Be a selfstarter. Let your first hour set the theme of success and positive action that is certain to echo through your entire day. Today will never happen again. Don’t waste it with a false start or no start at all. You were not born to fail.

14. You will achieve your grand dream, a day at a time, so set goals for each day-not long and difficult projects, but chores that will take you, step by step, toward your rainbow. Write them down, if you must, but limit your list so that you won’t have to drag today’s undone matters into tomorrow. Remember that you cannot build your pyramid in twenty-four hours. Be patient. Never allow your day to become so cluttered that you neglect your most important goal-to do the best you can, enjoy this day and rest satisfied with what you have accomplished.

15. Never allow anyone to rain on your parade and thus cast a pall of gloom and defeat on the entire day. Remember that no talent, no self-denial, no brains, no character, are required to set up in the faultfinding business. Nothing external can have any power over you unless you permit it. Your time is too precious to be sacrificed in wasted days combating the menial forces of hate, jealousy and envy. Guard your fragile life carefully. Only God can shape a flower, but any foolish child can pull it to pieces.

16. Search for the seed of good in every adversity. Master that principle and you will own a precious shield that will guard you well through all the darkest valleys you must traverse. Stars may be seen from the bottom of a deep well, when they cannot be discerned from the mountaintop. So will you learn things in adversity that you would never have discovered without trouble? There is always a seed of good. Find it and prosper.

17. Realize that true happiness lies within you. Waste no time and effort searching for peace and contentment and joy in the world outside. Remember that there is no happiness in having or in getting, but only in giving. Reach out. Share. Smile. Hug. Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting a few drops on yourself.

— From A Better Way to Live by Og Mandino

“Not waving, but drowning”- The battle against depression

I first came across the poem ‘Not Waving but Drowning’ by Stevie Smith in high school and I remember even then, it hit me in the gut, and over the years I have returned to it time and again because it so aptly describes how I feel a lot of the times.
Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.
If you want to know what depression feels like, the gaping chasm that sometimes feels like it’s eating your heart, a chasm in which you can scream as much as you like but no one ever hears you, then read this poem. It says the dead man lay moaning and nobody heard him. That’s what depression is like. It’s like death whispering at you even in your happiest moment, when you should be rejoicing it whispers ‘this won’t last, you know it won’t’ or even worse yet, ‘this is a dream, it’s not real, enjoy the adrenaline while it lasts, because soon it will be gone…you know I’m right.’
And even worse, it feels like it is your condition alone to carry – only the dead man lay moaning; no one else heard him but they heard each other…
Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he’s dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way, They said.
‘He always loved larking…’ That is what they think…people wonder how someone who seems so strong, seems so capable and gifted and beautiful and whatever it is could take their own life…
There was a song I heard years ago and I remember I could never get the one line out of my head… ‘I was always on the outside looking in’.
A dis-associative feeling, like somehow you consciously know you are in the world but you feel far apart from it and all those around you. Many people have felt it but it is hard to describe and worse yet explain to someone else.
Oh, no no no, it was too cold always (Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.
I really find the final stanza fascinating: It is poignant sad and for once quite clear in meaning… ‘it was too cold always’, and because he is dead, he is truly beyond help – ‘I was much too far out all my life and not waving but drowning.’
Are you drowning and everyone else thinks you are waving? Putting on that winning smile, clapping your hands so you stay in beat with the rhythm of this life – people’s expectations that you are struggling to live up to? Your own expectations for yourself? Your own limitations? Feeling trapped in the shadow of other people’s successes and afraid to say how you really feel – frail, unaccomplished, unwanted, unheard and misheard, like an outsider? Is that you too saying, ‘Im not waving I’m drowning!’ and no one hears your screams or sees your frantic flailing in the deep deep waters of life against a never-ending onslaught of waves, each new one bigger than the last and threatening to overwhelm and sink you to depths where no one else can reach you?
Well you are not alone. I have been drowning not waving and for a long time unable to articulate it. To speak it out loud. That life is too hard. The world is too big and sometimes, many times we will be standing in the middle of a crowded street screaming our lungs out and not a soul will stop or see or hear us.
Never has that scripture been more profound to me that we are strangers in this land –
For I am a stranger with You,
A sojourner, as all my fathers were.’
And sadder still – everyone is screaming. They may not tell you, but they are screaming too. But if you are reading this you are still alive. Unlike the man in the poem who is now an afterthought, gone like vapour in the wind – you are still breathing. You are not alone. You are not forsaken. You are not forgotten.
“But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me, And my Lord has forgotten me.
Can a woman forget her nursing child, And not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, Yet I will not forget you.
See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands;
Your walls are continually before Me.
Your sons shall make haste;
Your destroyers and those who laid you waste
Shall go away from you.”
(Isaiah 49:14-17)
“Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.”
(Psalm 61:1-3)
You are not alone and I am not alone, and while we yet breathe there is hope for a better day.
Quintessentially Yours,
QF Chiratidzo

Financial Intelligence: Are you a good steward of your money?

Both my grandfathers were headmasters.  I never met my paternal grandfather but one thing that my maternal grandfather – and for that fact grandmother as well – never got tired of drumming into our heads was the important of education.  I have always interpreted this to mean both formal and informal education.  My definition of informal education is learning from the lessons that life presents to you.

One such lesson lies in the importance of saving and having realistic financial goals.   The truth is you don’t have to be earning millions to start.  In life i believe it is always the first step that is the hardest and therefore the most powerful. It is important to start where you are.  The rule of thumb is always to save 10% of what you earn whatever that may be after your tithes and other obligations.

I am passionate about women being financially intelligent because I find it upsetting when we can spend eye-watering amounts on our hair, make up, shoes and clothes but not put a cent aside for a rainy day.  Please don’t get me wrong, i want to look good like the next person but as my dad always says, “All those things will never end, so sacrificing ‘shopping money’ in order to start putting away money for investments; your pension etc. seems like a small price to pay.  Life really is about reaping what we sow…”

Below are some principles that I apply to my life:

  • Tithing – there is something  powerful about giving back to God the first 10% of your income – Malachi 3v 10 -12
  • Take the time out to prepare a realistic budget ( see article on budgeting)
  • Save at least 10% of your income every month
  • Have a rainy day fund which should be 8 times what your monthly expenses are.
  • Pray and work towards having multiple streams of income.  Now for everyone this may be as simple as taking the time out every couple of months to de-clutter your home and sell things you may not need anymore.  Seek God to show you what else you can do to bring in extra cash.
  • Set savings goals. Establish what it is you are saving for exactly. For instance, if you would like to buy your first piece of land in the particular area of town, and you’ve done your research, you can pretty much give a ball-park figure of what it will cost you to buy that land per square meter. Maybe you are working towards the purchase of your first car. Knowing that it will cost you $5000 to buy the car and another $5000 to get it shipped over, coupled with the dreaded duty costs – you have figure in mind that you need to work towards. Your target is $10,000 and it will cost you X amount to save it. Creating a goal, or reason for your saving is important because it gives you focus.

I heard a very sad but common story about a woman whose husband died in a tragic car accident and left the family with nothing but debts that sadly she was unaware of.  What makes this situation even more painful is that for the better part of the last 10 years the widow was a ‘kept woman’ who allowed her husband to handle EVERY single aspect of their finances, to the extent that on the day that he died because he handled all their finances and gave her an ‘allowance’ all she had to her name was $10…

She is now finds herself in a situation where the family has no vehicle as it was a complete write off – and that was the least of the struggles that ensued. Said lady had to endure the task of getting up to speed with what it was that the husband was doing to get them into debt, reading the fine print on paperwork signed and trying to keep her head above water in every way.

It gets even testier when there are children are involved. Was there any money aside for their school fees? Was the house they called home at some point put up as collateral for one of the many transactions the husband was involved in? She was a ‘kept woman’ – but did she have any previous experience she could ride on to get back into the work force or continue on with the business that her husband was running? I never got wind of the answers to those questions, but do imagine that had she been better prepared, perhaps after this life changing tragic event may have been softened.

Ladies, we have to be shrewd about issues of finances. I know people who borrow about town so they can serve a nice roast chicken for dinner every day or keep the pool full. As we know all too well – life can throw some hectic curveballs that often times leave us realising just how unprepared we were. Are there wiser decisions we can make with our money? Are we being good stewards with the money that passes through our hands and our books?

Quintessentially Yours

QF Ruvimbo