Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Keep these three things about: A Merry Heart. A Smile About. And A Twinkle In Your Eyes.

My childhood was a combination of many things. There were times of abundance, when we had too much of a lot of things, and then there were those times of scarcity, when it seems that everything was in shortage.
We never really lacked the things that truly mattered, but certain commodities were in short supply.
No matter what the situation was, I still can't remember ever seeing my Mum without a smile for a full day.

Now, as an adult, I know that she had it tough on a lot of days. 
Her job as both a health worker and a family counsellor, attending to the sick and needy. Raising seven children together with an almost absent partner, (because of his business, Dad lived in another city and visited occasionally. Mum didn't want to give up her career). A demanding extended family, and the fact that she committed herself to sharing other people's burdens. All these surely would weigh anybody down, but not Mum. She stood firm, handled all resulting emotions and always found reasons to smile.

I saw her angry, I saw her really upset about things. I saw her cry. I saw her sad. But, even when she had too much on her plate, she always managed to find a moment to smile. To tell a joke. And to laugh, not a small laugh, but a full belly and resounding laugh.
My Mum's laugh reached far and infected many.
She always found something to be merry about, and when she smiled or laughed, the world lightened up, there were really stars in her eyes and on our skies. She seemed to find such pleasures in little things and at unexpected moments.
And she would say, that no matter what anyone has to go through, there will always be things which will bring a smile to your face, only if you remember to see them.

And she taught us: "A cheerful disposition makes a whole lot of things, a whole lot better. So, my dear, no matter what you have to face in life, always keep these three things about; a merry heart, a warm smile and a twinkle in your eyes".

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Shut Up And Listen.

Mum always said, "My dear, you have two ears and one mouth, use them proportionately!"

You know how sometimes, kids tend to make such efforts to explain things or talk their way out of some situation. Mum would listen to you, sometimes amused, and, sometimes clearly irritated. 

But, she always listened to us, focusing intently, hardly ever taking her eyes off you (and Mum had real big eyes), then she would say, ever so gently but firmly, "Now, shut up and listen."
Not angry. Not uncomfortable.
Not scolding. Not reprimanding. 
Not judging. Not criticising. 
Just gently pointing out one of life's greatest lessons and one of the best gift you can give to anyone; your ears and your undivided attention.

I am learning to do the same. 

To give people more of my ears and less of my mouth. 
I'm learning to just shut up, focus on the person in front of me and just listen to them. 
I'm still learning to give people the gift of a listening ear. 
You will agree with me that there are times when this is extremely tasking. 
And then, there are times when I feel like saying to the other party after listening, "Now, you shut up and listen".
But, then I can, because, I still use my mouth from time to time... You know, finding the balance.
Oh, and don't worry, when I ask someone to, "Shut up". I do it in a really nice way, not as nice or as gentle as my Mum, but nice still...

The Four Kinds Of People You Will Meet In Your Lifetime.

There will be the ones who will bless. 
Who will teach and build.
Who will give. 
Who will add value. 
Who will inspire you to greater heights.

There will be the ones who will hurt. 
Who will betray. 
Who will judge and criticise. 
Who will try to bring you down, intentionally or unintentionally.

Then, there will be the ones who will do nothing. 
Not giving anything. 
Not contributing anything.
Just there, idle.
Just occupying space, taking from you and draining you.

Then, there will be the ones who will do all three. 
They will make you laugh, but they could also make you cry. 
They will give you, but they will also take from you. 
And, sometimes, they will do nothing, they will just be there.

This is a fact of life that you can only accept, for no matter how much you question or resist this, these are the four kinds of people you will meet in your life. 
And until you have met them all, you cannot say that you have truly lived.

Monday, 29 December 2014

You are enough!

The need to conform your perception of yourself to what others may or may not think is one sure way to self destruction.
The desire to fit into a tag as described by other people will only guarantee heart break.
The attempt to follow conventions and their definition of what you should be or do to be accepted will only lead you to frustration and despondency.
Contending to satisfy everyone's demand on your person and response will only usher in disgruntlement and circumvention. 

So, today and every day for the rest of your life, accept and remember this truth:  "No matter who you are, what you look like, or what you share with the world, there will always be someone who doesn’t approve of you. 
You are who you are, and you’re enough. 
It isn’t your job to conform to their idea of what constitutes a “worthwhile” human being. 
Instead of focusing on all of the people who don’t approve of you, try to take some time today to remind yourself of all the people who do appreciate and accept you. 
They’re the people who matter. To them, you matter. 
Let go of the rest."
~Daniell Koepke

Sunday, 28 December 2014

The Mirrored Image.

In front of the mirror,
Looking at the woman she has become.
She forgot to count the years
She was instead transfixed by the reflection looking back at her.

The lines caught her eyes,
but they are laugh lines.
the wrinkles creased,
but they are the lives she has lived.

Her eyes glowed,
With the promise of fulfilment.
There is peace within,
for the assurance that she has weathered most storms.
There is no sadness in her eyes.
She is rather expectant.
And ready to live, to give and to love.

Doubt momentarily flickered.
Fear threatened.
But then, she remembered that the tears always dries up.
And, she remembered that she always found reasons to smile.
And then, her smile deepened and brightened her horizon.

The mirrored image is the woman she has become.
Full of life and vigour.
Endowed with graceful gait.
Emboldened by faith.
And assured of a golden sunset when it is evening.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

The Thanksgiving Speech.

The other day, I listened to someone make a thanksgiving speech. 
She thanked God for her life, her family, her children, her business. 
She thanked God for how He protected her and her family..., for how He provided for her and her family, 
for how He did not allow her enemies triumph over her and her family... 

I could go on, but I'll spare you the rest of the details.
All good and well, and I was genuinely happy for her and thankful to God for keeping her and her own, but in retrospect, I realised that it was all about her, her speech was filled with, "I/My/me". 
Not once did she mention anyone outside her family, not once did she express thanks for what God might have done for others or used others to do for her. 
She simply did not acknowledge anyone else in her speech.

And, I realised that most times, most of us tend to focus so much on ourselves that we forget that our testimonies, our successes, our achievements, our accomplishments and our attainments always come about because of someone else, whether directly or indirectly. 
There will always be someone who contributes to your testimony. That person may or may not realise it, but without him or her, your story would not be complete. Their contributions might sometimes even be negative, but without them, you would not have been spurred on to greater heights.

And, as the year rolls to an end, we should all remember that even though your destiny and your success is in no one's hands, we do need each other to achieve and to attain. We need each other and we should be thankful for each other. Is there not a saying about no one being an island? And, truer words has not been said. 
No one is an island, so, when you thank God for the wonderful year you've had, remember to thank Him for all the wonderful people He strategically placed on your paths to make things happen. 
Remember to thank everyone who readily allowed himself to be a vessel in God's hands to make your story what it is today. 
Remember to be thankful for everyone who lent a helping hand. 
And, remember to say a word of thanks to everyone who offered a word of prayer, shared a word of encouragement, or whispered a word of hope, whether you know them or you don't.
Say thanks to everyone who was there when you needed to talk. 
To the people in your life who suffered when they saw you suffer, to the ones who rejoiced when they saw you rejoice. 
To the ones who put up with you when you were being a real pain in the rear.
To the ones whose testimonies and success inspired you.
Acknowledge people for simply being in your life.
Let your thanksgiving speech truly gives thanks for the right people and for all the right reasons.

And, I want to specially thank "you" for being a very essential and integral part of my life and my testimony. Without "you", there will be no me.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Some Of Those Quotes That...

Mere quotes will certainly not change your life, but they can broaden and change your perspective. They can act as a gentle reminder of some things you might be taking for granted or have forgotten. They can change your outlook in life and they can certainly change your day. And, sometimes, they'll just bring a smile to your face or trigger one good belly laugh.

In life, it is easy to get caught up in challenging situations and forget who we are, what we are, and how far we can go. So,  today and over the next few posts, I will be sharing some remarkable words by both men and women and use their words to create a reminder for myself and for women in general, but also for the menfolks. Compiling and bringing together quotes that inspire, empower, motivate and gently or abruptly remind us of the magnitude of the gifts that we have, and of how potentially powerful we really are.

Hope you enjoy reading them as much as I have enjoyed putting them together, and of course, you can tell us the quotes which most got to you and as well share any of your favourite quotes with us:

  • “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” - Maya Angelou.

  • “A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.” - Coco Chanel

  • “A woman is like a tea bag – you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water.” - Eleanor Roosevelt.

  • “Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.”  - Robert A. Heinlein

  • “Being a woman is a terribly difficult task, since it consists principally in dealing with men.” - Joseph Conrad

  • “I, with a deeper instinct, choose a man who compels my strength, who makes enormous demands on me, who does not doubt my courage or my toughness, who does not believe me naïve or innocent, who has the courage to treat me like a woman.” - Anaïs Nin

  • “Here's all you have to know about men and women: women are crazy, men are stupid. And the main reason women are crazy is that men are stupid.” - George Carlin, When Will Jesus Bring The Pork Chops?

  • “What would men be without women? Scarce, sir...mighty scarce.” - Mark Twain

  • “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” - Oprah Winfrey

  • “How wrong is it for a woman to expect the man to build the world she wants, rather than to create it herself?” - Anaïs Nin

  • “Women only nag when they feel unappreciated.” - Louis de Bernières, Captain Corelli's Mandolin

  • The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.” - Anna Quindlen.

  • “If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun. - Katharine Hepburn.

  • “There is nothing more rare, nor more beautiful, than a woman being unapologetically herself; comfortable in her perfect imperfection. To me, that is the true essence of beauty.” Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience

  • Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people. - Eleanor Roosevelt.

  • “There is a special place in hell for women who don't help other women. - Madeleine Albright (Keynote speech at Celebrating Inspiration luncheon with the WNBA's All-Decade Team, 2006)” 

  • When we do the best we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another. – Helen Keller.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Yes, Dream! And Dream Big!

Yes, dream! 
And, while you're at it, dream big!
By all means, build castles in the air!
Let your eyes wander and be wistful.

Aspire to the heights.
Dare to spread your wings.
And, when you have, fly!

However, my dear, 
always keep your expectations real,
gird yourself with the right armour
and make sure your feet are firmly on the ground".

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

This Explains my Crush on Denzel Washington.

Most people who know me will tell you about my lifelong crush Denzel Washington. Apart from the fact that the dude is one fine looking brother and an exceptional actor, I have always felt that there was something more...
Then, I recently stumbled upon this video and everything just clicked.

A man that reasons and speaks like this is a man assured of grace and the success that grace brings.

I am grateful for Denzel, and I am grateful that he can share these things with the world.
Oh, and I still have a crush on him! And, now with more justification, not that I needed it.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

What Is Your Deepest Fear?

Today, this note spoke to me in a very profound way.
I hope it will speak to you too.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. 
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
So that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us, it is in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, 
our presence automatically liberates others.
- Marianne Williamson.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014


We have all been at one time or another been influenced by things. Sentiments. People. Emotions.
We have received inspiration and motivation from people. From something they said or wrote. By something they did or didn't do.
And, indeed it is commendable that we allow ourselves to be inspired and motivated.

But, sometimes, we find ourselves on the opposite side of the coin and we allow ourselves to be misguided. To be negatively influenced.
We know we shouldn't, but we do it anyways.
We acquiesce to external or internal influences that  propel us to self doubt. And, sometimes, we do not realise it until it's too late.

Today, I encourage you to look out for those things, those emotions, those people, those situations that tend to push you towards the directions we shouldn't be heading to.

You should identify them and once you do, you should run for dear life.

Refuse to be misguided by your fears.
Refuse to be misguided by your past.
Refuse to be misguided by conventions.
Refuse to be misguided by societal norms.
Refuse to be misguided by what people say or do.
Refuse to be misguided by what you have or don't have.
Refuse to be misguided by misgivings, be they yours or other people's.

Refuse to succumb to anything that does not build you up.
Don't concur with any word or thought process that does not elevate.
And, don't be misguided.

Stay focused and as my Mum would say, "Surround yourself always with people who will motivate and inspire you to be the best that you can possibly be".

Monday, 1 December 2014

The Very Necessary And Fine Art Of Saying "No".

In life, work, business and relationships, we will be confronted with very diverse opportunities, choices and decisions. There will be many juicy and mouth watering offers, and we will be tempted to grab them all. 
People will ask favours and make demands.

We will want to explore and we will sometimes be plagued by the terrible malady known as FOMO (fear of missing out). 
Maybe, we are afraid of missing an opportunity. 
We might sometimes just want to be the nice guy.

But, whatever the reasons are, we need to understand that opportunities are not mandates.
We can not lay claim to all of them. 
To maintain our sanity and keep your mental, physical and emotional health, we need to learn and master the very necessary art of saying no. You will find that saying this little two-letter word can actually be wildly liberating. It creates space for the right opportunities to appear and when they do, it sets you free to accept them. Saying "no" gives you both the energy and peace you requires to make the most of the opportunity you commit to.

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the best-selling book Eat, Pray, Love, in an interview on The Oprah Winfrey Show shared one of her strategies for maintaing focus in her life. She said that surrounding herself with what she called a “wall of no’s” is what helps her to ensure that she could deliver on whatever she decides to say yes to.

You must have seen people who often say, “Yes” when in fact, they should say, “No” solely for the fear of disappointing others. But then, when you say yes to something just because you want to please someone else, you are betraying yourself, and you will lose a small part of you. And if you keep doing this, you will get to the point where there's very little or nothing left of you when what you really need to say "yes" to appears on the horizon.

The Decision:
When you’re faced with a decision, before you say, "yes" or "No", ask yourself and answer these questions.
  • Can I do this? Check yourself. Time. Ability. Availability. Result. And, maybe, I can, but, will you? Remember there is a difference between "Can't" and "Won't". And, you are entitled to both. 
  • Do I really want to do this? Think it through. Listen to your inner voice if you can trust it. 
  • Does this align with my values and goals? 
  • Do I have the time for this? Time is what everyone has in equal proportion. Make sure you're using yours judiciously.
  • Will it be of benefit to me? Yes, sometimes, you should think about yourself too. You don't want to waste your time in something that will not serve any purpose
  • Will I do a good job of this if I take it on? A job well done will bring you more opportunities, and one that's done in a mediocre way will not only tarnish your professional image, it will also leave you second guessing yourself.
  • What do I hope to achieve by doing this?
The Answer:
As you answer these questions with an authentic and honest "yes" or " no", you will be better positioned to give a response that will work both for you and the other party and at the same guarantee you aren't pitching yourself up for failure and physical, psychological and emotional burnout.
And, when you decide to say "No", be sensitive, be firm, and be polite. Be aware that your tone of voice and underlying intent should be congruent with your words to ensure the impact you want.

There are diverse ways you can let someone off gently, without ruffling feathers (at least, not too much), and these keywords and short phrases can help you articulate your "no" in a way that is authentic.
  • No, thank you.
  • No, thanks, but No.
  • Thank you for the gracious invitation. I regret that I must decline.
  • I am flattered, but I'll have to say, no.
  • That sounds like a lot of fun, which makes it even harder for me to decline.
  • It sounds like a great idea, but I'm afraid, I have to say no.
  • I'm not able to do that right now.
  • Let me think about it and get back to you.
  • I can't commit to this right now, but let me help you find someone who can.
  • I can't right now, but I can do it [insert a specific time here].
  • Unfortunately, I have other commitments right now. If you'd like, I can get back with you at [insert a specific time here].
  • I have another commitment at that time.
  • I'm sorry, I already have plans. Thank you.
  • I'm afraid this is not something I want to do right now. Maybe in the future.
  • I have an important family/personal commitment.
  • I'd love to help, but I'm on a strict deadline for the next few days. 
  • I'd rather decline than do a mediocre job.
  • I'd like to help out; but I have other projects I am committed to finishing before I take on anything else.
  • I'm sorry; I really can't give that project the attention it deserves.
  • Thank you. This really isn't my strong suit. Let me connect you with someone who can do it.
  • Some things have come up that need my attention.
  • No, I won't be able to make it, but please let me know how it goes.
  • I'm sorry, as a general rule I don't participate in [insert activity here]. If there's another way I can help, let me know.
  • I can't right now, but I know you will do a wonderful job yourself.
  • No, I can't because... Let me know if there's any way I can help another time.
In as much as you want to be polite and sometimes proffer reasons and justifications for turning down an offer, a request or an opportunity, you should remember that the honest answer is YES or NO, all the rest can be useful or useless embellishments as to describe the motives behind the answer if there are any. 
 Sometimes you don't need so much syrup or fog around your answer, you should just serve it straight, without any side dishes, be it a "yes" or a "no".