Munira Premji

Showing Up

The past 3 months have been a busy time for me. In addition to delivering several workshops, facilitating meetings, doing keynotes and business consulting, coaching managers, speaking at The Princess Margaret Journey to Conquer Cancer event, and being featured in a number of publications, my workload has been full. During this time, I have also noticed a decline in my stamina as my body takes more time to sustain a prolonged effort. I suspect this is due to the new immunotherapy treatment that my body is adjusting to after I relapsed for the second time from the ravages of Multiple Myeloma.

Sometimes the lack of stamina shows up when it take a little longer for me to complete a project. Sometimes it shows up in fatigue. Sometimes it means using notes when I didn’t need notes before. This is frustrating for me. It sucks that I have an incurable cancer. It is certainly not the life I would have chosen for myself. But I have accepted that this is what’s in store for me in this moment, and not fight or resist it. Early in my diagnoses, more than 11 years ago, I started asking a question that helped me decide how to respond to challenges I was facing with the diagnoses. The question was “How do I want to show up (in this moment, at this time, in this situation, with this person)?” This one question opens up the possibilities and gives me choices. Not showing up is not an option for me. Showing up, even if feels heavy, means making a small, intentional and conscious choice of how I respond in each moment and encounter. It allows me to bring agency to my life, when so much of my life is out of my control.

I ask this question when I feel attacked. I ask it when a request is made of me. I ask it when someone reaches out to me for help. I ask it when I am in a conflict situation. This one question helps me be present and do what makes sense in the moment. It means deciding what to let go because it won’t matter one year from now. It means setting boundaries when necessary about what I can and can’t do. It means making every effort to be present for what matters most. This one question focuses my attention and energy on taking that next step, intentionally and unapologetically.

Showing up sometimes requires a leap of faith to take that first step when you can’t see the staircase. It requires having trust in the process, choosing hope relentlessly and a whole dollop of courage. Showing up is not, as I have learnt, about apathy, giving up or becoming a victim. Rather it is about accepting where you are and acknowledging what is in this moment (whether you like it or not), and then choosing consciously how you want to respond. When I show up intentionally, flaws and all, I put much less pressure on trying to be perfect. This allows me to be present to experience and live life in the moment, trusting in the universe to give me what I need to be the best I can be in that moment. I have a colleague who asks a different question that helps her navigate how she shows up, particularly during difficult conversations. Her question is “How can I be of service to this person in this moment?” Questions we ask ourselves can be a powerful tool to help us move forward. What are some questions you ask yourself to help you navigate your path forward?

I have such gratitude that cancer has given me the space to experience how to keep going, to keep trying and to move forward. I know that accompanying the treatment, the uncertainty, the good days and bad, there is an endless grace. Grace to try again, to experiment and learn new things. Grace to come out the other side of pain stronger, better and wiser. Grace to see the message inside the mess. To make me stronger and prepare me for whatever lies ahead. All we need to do is to show up and let life open us up to whatever we are meant to learn here.

Showing up for my newborn grandson, Robi Rakim Premji, in Nairobi, Kenya.

Feature image courtesy of Garcia Creative and The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation.

Showing Up


  • Linda G , August 21, 2023

    So beautiful Munira! Congratulations on another adorable grandchild! He’s a lucky one to have you as his Nana! So strong and courageous and definitely inspiring…

    • Munira Premji , August 23, 2023

      Hello dearest Linda! He is so perfect. Almost 3 months now. Sending you photos!

  • patriciagostick , August 21, 2023

    Thanks for your helpful insights.
    Congratulations on your beautiful new grandson, Munira.

    • Munira Premji , August 23, 2023

      Hi Patricia! Thrilled to hear from you. Sometimes it feels like a circus here, with 3 grandkids. It is wonderful and exhausting!

  • Almss , August 21, 2023

    You know what you mean to me. And don’t forget, I am following your footsteps and bravery and standing up and showing up to life’s battles. So don’t forget to look behind to see how far you’ve come and whose following you. This will be your light and path towards another sucess

    • Munira Premji , August 23, 2023

      Hi Almass! What a beautiful reminder to look behind to see how far one has come. Sometimes we forget. Thank you!

  • Patti Kurgan , August 21, 2023

    A very inspiring blog, and congratulations on your new grandson. So happy you were able to welcome him into your loving arms! 😘

    • Anonymous , August 21, 2023

      Hi Patti! It’s been a dream spending time with Robi. He is the happiest baby ever!

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