Friday, June 17, 2011

The Art of Forgiveness

"The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong." - Mahatma Ghandi

We must learn to Forgive. Truly we must.

I was with a Pastor friend recently, and he talked to me about Forgiveness, a concept that I also speak to people about, know alot about, and make a concerted effort to practice, or so I thought...

However, after the conversation with him, I knew that he had been inspired not only to pass on a message to me, but to further enlighten me on a necessary topic that is so fundamental to our Growth.

We are told to "Forgive...AND Forget." Many of us say; "I have forgiven him/her, but I will NEVER forget what he/she did to me!" And here in is the crux of the matter. The heart of Forgiveness lies in the "Forgetting". I know I forgive easily, but I would be lying if I say I forget. In fact "forgetting" is actually the hardest part. (Maybe this post should be titled "The Art of Forgetting"...)

"The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naive forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget." - Thomas Szasz

Which category do we fall into? I know until a few years ago, I was one of "The Stupid". And before talking to the Man of God the other day, I was one of "The Wise" (and proud of it) according to Thomas Szasz's quote. But now, I strive to become one of "The Naive", and this is the "most humongous" (as my children will say) challenge of all. As I mention children, it unwittingly comes to me that indeed they are the most naive of all!

"I tell you the truth, unless you change and Become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven." - this Bible chapter comes to my mind as I type. I think it is to be found in the Book of Matthew.

So if we cannot enter the Kingdom except we are naive (like children), then by implication we cannot truly forgive except we forget. It IS that simple.

Now you all want to ask me "how does one forget?", and I will be reminding you here that it is also new to me, so I cannot readily answer. But, I do know there are several things I DO forget...

I forget my passwords ALL the time. I forget my ATM code. I forget my bank account numbers (I never know them in the first place). I forget names of people from the past (mostly those I didn't interact with). There is no limit to the things I forget. Why do I forget these things? And why do I not "Forget" even while "Forgiving" (supposedly) those who have seemingly wronged me.

I realize that I forget the things I do either because I have so many other "more important" things on my mind, or because so much time has passed that it has been erased from my memory.

Eureka! As I say this the answer comes! To forget does not mean to "not remember", it means to put in the back of our memory. To not keep in the forefront. This means not talking about it ever again to anyone (we all know repition reinforces), and after a while it stays there.

To forget would mean to me now, as I think about it, filling my mind with other thoughts. Thoughts that Uplift and Enlighten and not thoughts that will hold one down or keep one attached to the subject of one's attention.

"Holding on to anger (not forgiving) is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one getting burned." - Buddha

All of a sudden this quote takes on an even deeper meaning. Now I see that what the Pastor said is Truth, for one who has forgiven and who is sincerely struggling to forget (i.e to put it away), will not talk about the incidents nor the people involved to any other. They will only commune with their God, and He alone is it who can Heal the hurting, Comfort those in despair and Forgive us our own sins.

Yes! That is right! We pray, fast and beg God for unconditional Forgiveness! If He were to hold on to it like "The Wise" in Thomas Szasz's quote, where would that leave us? We must not "Forget" this!

Thus, as I struggle to absorb this Truth, and Live it, I leave you with my favorite Psalm (121):

"I will lift up my eyes to the hills-
From whence comes my help?
My Help comes from The Lord
Who made heaven and earth.

He will not allow your foot to Be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
Nor the moon by night.

The Lord shall preserve you from all evil;
He shall preserve your soul.
The Lord shall preserve your going out and coming in
From this time forth, and even forever more."

Salam. Be Blessed.xx

Saturday, December 4, 2010

"Choose the path that leads to Wisdom"

I love Einstein when he says; "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." At a first glance it seems like a very obvious statement, for why would you keep doing the same thing, day in - day out, and expect things to turn out differently? Except of course if you are banking on other factors in the equation to change....

Too many times we expend all our energy complaining about other people's behaviours, the things they do or do not do, the way they disrespect or disregard us, the things they say or do not say. We want to change them, for by our calculations we are bordering on perfection. We are almost 100%!

The Mahatma, Gandhi said; "Be the change you want to see in the world...." How can I change the whole wide world, you wonder, by just changing myself? The answer to this is - just change YOUR world. Change the way YOU do things. Change YOUR actions and reactions.

Unfortunately or fortunately, it depends on how you look at it, change is one of the most difficult things to put into effect, especially for the male of the human species lol! Yet change we must if we are to acheive our dreams, our ideals, our God given talents and aspirations.

I was prvileged to be given the opportunity to speak with a couple recently who were experiencing some personal and emotional challenges. The woman had been bullied into believing that there was a serious need to change her ways if their marriage was to survive. So, what did she do? She read everything she could on Change! She prayed. Fasted. Meditated. Contemplated. And guess what? The more she did these things, the deeper and more reflective she became. She came to the eternal realization that change MUST begin from within, and then and only then will it begin radiate outwardly.

I know you all are figuring that by the time we were having our 'little' talk everything was lovey-dovey with this couple, right? Wrong! Absolutely the opposite. Apparently, things had never been so bad! But why? Because, her partner, who was the initial proponent of the need for her to change, had stayed exactly the same! In fact, he obstinately insisted that he, the god, was going to continue to do things exactly as he had done them before! Remember Einstein's definition of insanity lol!

Was he 'insane' or what? I say maybe! At least a little bit! (though he insisted his wife was the crazy one!) We were however thankfully able to identify the underlying challenge in their relationship (thank God he was a willing partner, and really wanted to make things work!). We traced the root of the problem to his need to control things. He let us know that he had had a stressful childhood, and was never expected to succeed by his family. We discovered that he never believed his wife loved him for himself, but only for what he could provide for her. This guy had some serious issues! But then who of us does not? Believe it or not we managed to sort out a few things! Not as many as we would have liked to make immediate changes, but enough to throw him into a state of self-reflection, which hopefully will lead him to illumination over time.

Control...what is it? And why do many otherwise spirtually endowed people feel the need to control others and situations? Control basically stems from a lack of knowledge of one's true self and nature. Control is closely related to feelings of inferiority and a lack of true confidence. When we identify our selves with our possessions and positions, we live in a state of perpetual fear (though often masked as courage) of what will happen if we lose these things. Thus we feel the need to bring things under our 'command', to be 'in charge', to assert ourselves even when we are in the wrong (or should we say 'the not so right!).

We should and indeed must strive to take control of our lives, but not of the lives of others too. That is cheating. You want to live through not only yourself, but through others too! It is a form of greed.

O Man! What creatures we are! I am sure God 'looks' upon us constantly with a smile.

Deepak Chopra (I'm quoting all my people today!) says; "If you want to reach a state of bliss, then go beyond your ego and the internal dialogue. Make a desicion to relinquish the need to control, the need to be approved, and the need to judge..."

Finally; Be nice. Be considerate. Do to others what you would want done to you. Don't take people's good nature for granted. Don't make people feel bad just for the fun of it. Trust. Believe. Have Faith. Be Loyal. Be True. Be gentle. Be supportive. Love and be loved back in return. And do not play with people's hearts.

There is nothing wrong with most people that a little love will not fix.

Let us "BE the change we want to see in the World."

It's going to be alright. Together we can do this...

I love you.

Salam. Namaste.xx

Monday, November 1, 2010

"One Monkey Can't Stop The Show..."

I am either happy or not so happy, there is no middle ground.

Some people are lucky. They can enjoy blissful, even moments for long periods of time. Not so me...

I am either very excited or almost moribound...

I either believe in you or I don't.

I love or dislike....not a good thing I know, but that's the way it is.

I eat alot of the stuff I like until I get so sick of it that I never want to see it again. The same goes for what I drink...

I give people a lot of credit or none at all...but I get really disillushioned when they 'disappoint' me.

I laugh or I cry. I don't have those average "just feeling satisfied moments", though I wish I did or could?

Remember I couldn't get into this blog....

Then Eureka! The password and all the other 'stuff' just came rushing back into my memory without any effort...

I guess that means it's time to write again...

So what's with "the monkey?", and what "show is it not stopping"

The 'monkey" is/are, all those people that do not or cannot (if they tried)understand you.

"The monkey" is/are, all those who have to listen to what others say, before they/them (or he/she) can make a desicion...

Shame on them!

And guess what "the show" is...

Yep!!!! You got it right...

"The show" is LIFE itself!

So read between (or just read the lines lol!)...

And it goes like this; Do not let ANYBODY, man or woman, and their 'opinions' dictate the way your life should be!

If I was given to more explicit language (publicly lol), I would tell YOU where to tell THEM to go!!!

Good luck guys! You need it!

And remember; YOU can do this!(with or without them!)

You CAN Do This!

To all those who rely on others opinions; Thanks for the inspiration!

Thanks for keeping us motivated!

I love you!xx


Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Little Prayer....

He said he wanted to pray for me, so we all stood up. He said it was a very special prayer, so we shut our eyes tight in anticipation. He was younger than me. His name was Shedrach...

It was about seven years ago. I had been invited by a friend called Femi O. to co-conduct a training session of some church ( believe it or not!!) volunteers, or at least that's what I recall they were, though they were all professionals in their own right. The training took place at the mainland office of a well known Pastor, who is also an accountant. I can't remember the exact topic, but I think it had to do with Time Management or Organizational Skills. I remember their suprise on finding out that the second of the two trainers was not only a woman, but also not of the faith. And so this shock, which was followed by deep suspicion, and slight resentment, set the pace for the two day training.

I knew from Day 1, that my work was cut out for me, when my first direct challenger, Shedrach, asked how I, a non-Christian, could expect to teach anything to pious 'helpers' such as themselves. But, not being one to scare easily, I charmingly ( or so I thought ), explained that the topics at hand had no religious coloration, and were neutral, and applicable to anybody irrespective of faith.

And so we began. I remember during our first coffee break, Femi winking at me, to reassure me that he figured I was making progress...not on the topic alone, but at breaking down the barriers and reducing the suspicion. They seemed to be particularly impressed by my knowledge of the Bible, which I quoted, when applicable to put them at ease.

By Day 2, I had them where I wanted them, by the special Grace of God. I remember coming in with alot of sweets and chocolates to 'bribe' them into relaxing, as this was my main day with them. This 'habit' of disarming the trainees, is something I learnt in the Junior Chamber, a Worldwide Leadership Training Organization, also called Jaycees, of which I was President of the oldest chapter in Africa, Lagos Metro, at that particular time. And believe me it hardly ever fails!

Anyway, Day 2 was a fantastic day! As my niece Bahijja would say, 'I was in character!' It was flowing, they were with me, Femi was happy, I was happy, and Shedrach, well Shedrach for the most part was....silent? And I must admit, because we were such a small group ( 10 or 12, I think ), I was kind of worried.

I remember, I kept checking on him from the corner of my eye, and kept trying to pull him in, but he remained pretty reserved. So, I just figured " you win some, lose some ", and proceeded to round up the session. When we had finally finished, being Africans first and foremost, Femi suggested we end the training, with a prayer from one of the participants. It was then that Shedrach, before anyone could volunteer, requested to give the closing prayer. Oh oh, I thought, now I was in for it. He was, I was sure going to pray for me to be 'saved', and use the opportunity to express his displeasure at having to spend two days with one such as myself...

So, we all stood up, Femi and I were at the front of the room, and as we were about to close our eyes, he asked if he could come and stand close to me, as he wanted to specifically pray for me....and so we bowed our heads...and Shedrach prayed. Shedrach prayed a prayer, the like of which up till today I haven't heard before...and I don't think I will ever forget the essence of that prayer.

He raised his hands above my head and said...." Dear God, may this woman you sent to us die empty." Everybody opened their eyes and looked up shocked! I didn't know what to say. Then, noticing the effect he had had, he started again, but this time mentioning my name! He said; "Dear God, may Shade Biggar die empty..." there was total silence, then he continued... " may You keep her and us, until we are empty of all the Inspiration, Motivation and Knowledge, You have filled us with, to share with others..." and on and on Shedrach prayed, and prayed and prayed. After the prayer, he gave me a big, big hug, and explained to me the reason for his silence. He said, prior to our two days 'together' he had had such a bias against anyone who was not of the same religious persuasion as himself, and as such he never took the time out to listen to them speak. He said, he was so overwhelmed by the way I was able to interact with them, and them with me, that he was at a loss for words. Shedrach also said that the prayer he prayed for me was a blessing. That insha Allah, the more I shared, the more I would make space for more inspiration, continuosly filling me up, while I continuosly emptied these messages, in essence it was a prayer for a long life, full of giving and recieving. Do I hear an Amen!! After the training, Shedrach called me from time to time to say hello, but I haven't spoken to him for some years! Infact I should google him, finding him shouldn't be too difficult, afterall how many young Nigerian men are called Shedrach!!!

And here lies the lesson in this story...many of us today are walking around 'Full'. Full of Knowledge, full of Wisdom, Full of Inspiration, Full of Talent and more sadly, Full of Love. When are we going to empty it? What are we hoarding it for? What are we waiting for? We need to use these gifts that God has bestowed on us. We need to use them NOW, because the truth is God WILL take us back unto Him whenever He deems it fit, and woe unto us, if we are recalled 'Full'.

The ironic thing is that it is only through giving that we can recieve. The more we bless others, the more we are blessed. Some people utilize their God given talent and more, to such an extent that when they do depart this earth you know that they fulfilled their mission...I don't know why Michael Jackson comes to my mind...We must determine to Mentor, to Share to Love, and Love, and Love again, if need be. Life is so short. We are here today and gone tomorrow.

The transient nature of Life was brought home hard to me on December 8th, when I was told that my father, whom I had spoken with just about 12 hours before, who prayed for me that day, before he boarded a plane from Istanbul to Lagos, on his way home from successfully completing his Hajj, ( just the way Shedrach had prayed for me several years earlier ), had passed on in his sleep, at his home, in Abeokuta...we can only thank God that he ( Dad ), had emptied himself. Emptied himself of all the Wisdom, Experience, Prayer, Dedication and Love that he had in him. May it be the same for all of us.

" When A Dying Man Cries,It Is Not Because Of Where He Is Going, Which He Knows Nothing About, But Of What He Wishes He Had Done In The World He Is Leaving Behind." - Nigerian Proverb

We Can Do This! Really we can! We can maximize our Potentials. Utilize our Talents. And Live, really Live, the life of our dreams!!! I am determined to try! How about YOU...

You CAN Do It!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

" Obey Your Thirst "

Green, green, everywhere! We were, it seemed, in the middle of nowhere. There was no sign of human life as far as the eye could see. As we made our way steadily up the steep, quiet and lonely road, my whole body was on alert. I waited with nervous expectation for 'it' to jump out of the 'wilderness' again, into our faces. And yes, just as we had anticipated, there it was...

The Sprite billboard loomed larger than life; " Obey Your Thirst ", it said, and attached below was a sign indicating that the fuel station that we were trying to get to was now only 2km away. I heaved a sigh of relief, as I realized that we could make it there, if we just pressed on....

We had left home that morning, on a family trip into the hinterland of Benin. Everyone had told us how picturesque the route was, how serene and quiet, and also how at one point there were no settlements for several kilometres. So being the master organizer that I am, I had, as usual, overloaded the car with all sorts of contingencies for our trip. Everybody was in charge of one aspect or the other. Stuff to eat on the journey ( Mummy ), our first son; binoculars, camera, and of course Gameboys ( or whatever they're called ), and someone who shall remain nameless was to bring the drinking water!

It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining, everywhere looked so was also very hot. After driving for about forty minutes, we came to a point where there was a little traffic. I remember looking to my right and seeing this huge Sprite billboard, with the green bottle open, and all those little moist beads of water, well you all know what I mean, and the words " Obey Your Thirst ", I also remember thinking how nice the green bottle looked against the scenery and so on!

Another few kilometres, and another billboard! At this point, we were in a less inhabited area, and unknown to me our passengers in the back ( the children!! )were also noticing these billboards! After a while, I felt the dreaded tap on my shoulder, and then my seven year old daughter said...." Mummy, I....", Oh oh I thought, were are we going to find a bathroom here???

She tapped me again...." Mummy " she said, " I'm thirsty....I want a SPRITE!!!" Me too chorused the other two, it was then I realized that I also was craving a cold Sprite! We looked around us, there was nothing in sight, so despite their disquiet and discontent, which was becoming a little short of a mutiny, we pulled over to have a drink of water. But, guess what...that person, whom we previously agreed would remain unnamed, had forgotten to put the water in the car! Hmmmmm....

Left with no choice, we decided to drive on, literally following the billboards, until we could get to the station a few kilometres down the road, which we eventually did! On getting there, I asked everbody what they wanted to drink, and despite being a bunch of Coca Cola addicts, everbody wanted to drink Sprite!!! This got me thinking...Why? Why did everbody want a Sprite, not a Coke, not a Pamplemousse, not a Fanta, but a Sprite? Why Sprite?????

In 1957, James Vicary announced the results of an amazing six week experiment conducted in a New Jersey cinema. The words " Eat Popcorn " and " Drink Coke " were flashed several times on the movie screen, and the result was that the sales of both Coke and popcorn went up by almost 20% and 60% respectively! One does not have to be a rocket scientist to realize that this use of repititive, in your face messaging was and still is what is responsible for the success of modern day advertising techniques!

It stands to reason therefore, that we also can employ the use of repetitive, constant, positive messages, to increase our self belief, our self worth, and our ability to succeed! These messages are now popularly called Affirmations. They are powerful thought patterns that are proven to help you acheive anything you want! Many sports figures, politicians, successful business people and entertainers use affirmations to remove limiting thoughts, doubt and fear, and replace them with constant, high powered, mega charged messages!

Affirmations should be used to support your Dreams, Goals and Aspirations! They are statements, which when repeated first thing in the morning, last thing at night, and SEVERAL times in between, programme your subconcious mind and keeps you focused on what you want! Stick them all over the place! By the bathroom mirror, beside your bed, in the kitchen, by your dashboard, tattoo it on your person, if you're so inclined!

Jack Canfield and Mark Hansen suggest that personal affirmations should:
1. Be in the first person ( " I " )
2. Be in the present tense ( " AM " )
3. Include an emotional word ( e.g " PROUDLY " )
4. Include a verb ( " RUNNING " )
5. Be short ( " MY OWN BUSINESS " )


However, affirmations can also be expressed as short, three or four word statements, e.g " I CAN DO IT!", " I AM WEALTHY!", " I AM BEAUTIFUL!" etc. Affirmations can also be an expression of gratitude, for an anticipated or expected future outcome, result or situation..." I THANK GOD FOR MY BEAUTIFUL HOME IN MALIBU!", " I GIVE THANKS FOR MY MULTIPLE STREAMS OF INCOME!", " I AM GRATEFUL FOR MY PERFECT HEALTH AND BEAUTIFUL LOOKS!" Or, they could be a combination of different styles: " I AM THANKFUL FOR MY $1,000.000 INCOME, WHICH I INTELLIGENTLY INVEST!!!"

Remember Obama's collective popular affirmation: " Yes We Can!"...look what happened!
Take the time to create affirmations in all the key areas of your life TODAY! Let them become personal and daily mantras! Repeat them over and over again, and unconciously you will find yourself changing your behaviour and thinking in line with these positive messages, which in turn will attract that which YOU want to YOU!

As we stood by the car, 'obeying our thirst', I couldn't help but marvel at the effectiveness of repitition on the mind! Repeat these words out loud...





Good Luck!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Whistler's Law

Call it Black it Juju, if you like...Obeah...Voodoo, or as it's more recently called, in Nigeria, and they should know, it Jazz!

I have encountered alot of ' witches ' in my life time...believe me this is true! But, the first percieved witch I had to deal with, and try and fob off, lived in our house when I was very young! As a matter of fact, I can't remember a time she wasn't there, and by the special grace of God, she....NO...she wasn't burned at the stake, but, by the special grace of God, she is still with Mom!!

I was so sure my mother was a witch, when I was very young, I am still young, so maybe I should say, when I was younger! Anyway, the story of my torture, goes like this; I hated vegetables, like most children do. But, unfortunately for me, in our family, back in the day, when men were men ( and they still are!! ), I had some weird sisters, three to be precise, whom I still have, again by the special grace of God. Anyway, they liked vegetables, or pretended to...pretty, much like my seven year old daughter, Khadija, who just loves salads, much to the horror of her two brothers, because it puts them under pressure to have to eat some! Although, I must commend Majid, who is a month short of seventeen, for begining to nibble on some lettuce, because he says; it's going to give him access to a certain type of girl! He figures that teenage versions of babes like; Rihanna, and Beyonce, will not exactly be eating fufu, so he needs to get with it! Anyway, back to Mom and the torture she put me through!

Because, she is from another part of the world ( we used to think she was from another planet! ), Trinidad to be precise, we didn't get alot of the Nigerian food, we used to crave...I even remember that I used to go and eat with our neighbor's stewards family, in their boys quarters, but don't tell my Mom I told you this! Ok, where was I, before I digress ? Yes, veggies! I tried to tell Mom, that I could do stuff like okro and egusi, but that the lettuce and avocado, didn't work for me. But, what would she do... she would force my mouth open, shove it in, and short of working my jaws with her hand, she'd make me eat it! She is sooOoo lucky, that we were totally uninformed in those days, and there was no cable, and mobile phones, or I would have called for them to come and take her if, even in 2009, in Nigeria, they would respond to a seven year old!

Years later, Trinidad 1985 to be precise. We were living in Diego Martin, Port of Spain during this time. I had grown nicely, or at least I ( the emphasis is on the I ), thought so, and at that age nobody else counts! Guess what tree we would have growing in our little garden at the back of the house? Yep! Avocado! I still hated it, in fact to be honest I had never eaten it before. It was the one thing I was adamant that I would never, Ever, EVER, touch! And I didn't! Then I grew, even more nice... lol! This now being not my own opinion, but the opinion of others lol! And I got married! And, guess what was my husband's favorite vegetable....avocado!

Now, I believe that there are no coincidences in life, and so it was obvious to me that this particular vegetable or whatever you prefer to call it, was destined to figure in my life! So four years ago, for the first time in my life, I ate an avocado salad....and I just loved it! Since then I eat it at least three times in a week! Not only does it taste good with tuna, tomato, cucumber and also lowers your cholestorol levels!

So...Shade...big deal! Ok, I know, it seems like, ( I actually am ), rambling! What's the point??? There's no point! Must there always be one! Well, maybe just a little lesson to be learned here, but if you actually think of it, maybe quite a few! And yes I know, I use alot of exclamation marks ( ! ), but isn't life just so exciting!

If I tell you I didn't start off this post with the intention of writing about avocado, you probably would not believe, except if you know me personally, because if you do, you would know that despite the fact that ' technically ' ( Majid's favorite term ), I am a master planner, I plan for the long term, but allow the shorter term to take care of itself. Maybe that's what I should write about - technicalities or long lerm versus short term planning! You all are thinking, you mean she isn't about to wrap this up! So, let's do it like this; if you are bored go and do something else, if not, the real story starts here!

Where was I? Now I remember, ( that sounds like Millie Jackson, I wonder if she's related to Michael...she's also an MJ! ), the real story, talk about being distracted! Here goes: I have agreed to ride from Cotonou to Accra, on motorbike, with my husband Tom and my son Majid next April. Please note: not as a ' passenger ', but on my own bike...No big deal you say, especially for those who know Tom, he has ridden from Abidjan to wherever and back! For those who know Majid...well, he too would do something like that! But, for those who know's stranger than...avocado lol!
And here's why:-

1. I have never ridden a motorbike. I am a frequent passenger...Agreed. I am one of the best female drivers in West Africa...Fact. I can ride a bicycle to Kutuwengi...Fallacy, ( technically, I can cycle, but not to Kutuwengi, simply because I'm not sure if such a place exsists! ). Thus, I am a bit worried about this voyage or escapade I have agreed to embark on!

2. I have some deep seated fears, which I push myself to overcome, and riding a motorbike is one of them. And I am very serious here. Let me just tell you a few of what my fears were or are, if you prefer, considering they may never actually go away, but they have kind of been brought under control.

a. Marriage - I was so sure it would be a stress, and it is! But positively so! That's why I had to do it so soon after meeting Tom, or I would never have done it...
Lesson one: Do not think too deep...Just Do It! ( Especially marriage lol!)

b. Driving on a long, dark, lonely, Nigerian expressway alone ( with no street lights and the possibility of ALL sorts ). I did that two years ago. I deliberately set out for Cotonou from Lagos in the dark, and I was scared as hell. My thinking always is, what if there was an emergency, and I HAD to do this thing? I believe that he subconcious knowledge that it's been done before, sort of like a trail run, allows you to function better in such a situation.
Lesson two: Do those things that you fear the most and liberate yourself.

c. Driving through deep water, alone. wouldn't believe this, but this is my worst nightmare. I think it comes from a childhood memory of our car being stuck in a puddle of water, when we were younger, and the driver, Mr. Odebiyi, I think, imagine I can still remember his name, threatening to drop me in it, as he carried us from the car to ' dry land ' lol.
Well, this June, it rained so hard for three days in Cotonou, and living near the beach means the storms break by us first, there's more water, and the way out is all sandy!
The short of it is, we were marooned in, Tom was in Ghana, and I was craving chocolate ice cream so badly, like I always do when it's cold! So Majid, my buddy, said, ' Mummy this is a good time to overcome those fears ' ( note he really was only interested in the ice cream )! And I told him, ' Majid, I can't, I'm scared. What if my car get's stuck, do I climb out of the window on to the roof, and then some stranger will carry me through the water ( hopefully ), and probably drop me in it? ' Then Majid explained to me that ' technically ' I couldn't get stuck, because the water was only about knee deep, and that my car was higher than that, and that it was a four wheel drive and as such would not stop once I kept accelerating gently, and that because of the position of the sump of the Mercedes, water couldn't get in the engine, and that...and that...and on and on...I was very, very, impressed with him... but I was still scared!
However, I went, I saw and I conquered! And I'm still scared at the thought, but I could do it over and over again if I had to!
Lesson three: ' Technically ' speaking, most of our fears are baseless, that is they are not founded in reality or fact, and yet they are so strong, they prevent us from doing things we CAN do! Remember the AVOCADO!

d. Cockroaches and mice: This one I have not yet been able to overcome, but I'm working on it lol!
Lesson four: Some fears just never go away, and cannot be overcome, but it doesn't matter!

3. I believe practice makes perfect, and knowledge is power! Suffice it to say, that I am just about to start my motorbike lessons. Tom has explained all the technicalities to me; ' once you ride a bicycle, you can ride a's actually safer than a car??...your awareness is heightened...your higab will blow in your face and cause you to crash if you try to wear it, Shade... trousers are better than a flowing jallabiya...and most of all it will be fun! '

We need to take charge of our lives. Our destiny lies in our own hands. We must overcome those things that hold us back, those things that hinder us. Success is just round the corner, indeed it is upon us, if we would only act. We cannot keep doing things the same way, if we want different results. We must remember that it's never too late to learn something new. We must strive to be happy. It's one life to live, and indeed the second half of life goes faster than the first.

Whistler's Law states; " You Never Know Who Is Right, But You Always Know Who Is In Charge! "

Get in the driver's seat of your life today! Fear is the only thing holding you back! Fear of the unknown, fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of success, fear of ridicule, even the fear of fear itself! Don't let them fool you, YOU are your own judge! Other people's opinions DO NOT count! Break down all barriers in your way, remove all obstacles! Affirm NOW... ' I AM IN CHARGE OF MY LIFE! '

' No One Knows Caution Like Regret. ' - Kenya

' You CAN Do It! '

Sunday, June 14, 2009

' In The Red Corner, Weighing In At......'

As he bent down to pick me up, I looked into his 'sexy' brown eyes, he inhaled deeply, and I closed my eyes in anticipation....this was a moment I had only ever dreamed of, and it was about to happen, but I never thought it would be like this!

I remember that period in my life as if it was yesterday! I was seventeen, in school in North Wales, frisky, popular and.......very much over weight at 97kg! Indeed I was the ' biggest ' girl in school at the time. This was pretty strange considering the fact that when I was in The American International School in Lagos, I was one of the skinniest in my class, very athletic, and a very fussy eater!

Anyway, here I was on this beautiful, spring, Welsh Sunday, looking into the eyes of a guy we ALL fancied! He was tall, lanky, had brown curly shoulder length hair, and a beautiful tan, and he worked for the school. So why would he choose me???

He didn't Lol! And ( in school they always said don't start a sentence with 'And', but I do it all the time!), before curiousity gets the better of you, let me give you the whole scenario!! We used to play Squash,( Ronke, Feyi and I ), Sunday was a ' free ' day, so we would go to the court in school and muck around! On this day in question, one of us, who shall remain nameless lol, decided that we should see if we could jump from the top of the squash court down! She went first, and landed beautifully on her two feet, laughing! I was next....

Weighing in at 97kg, I sat on the upper beam, held my breath, and jumped! I landed on my two feet, and laughed for a few seconds....beore I felt the most incredible pain in my left leg just before it gave way! I couldn't move! Any attempt to get up sent shock waves up my entire body. Ronke and Feyi, very worried at this point, ran for help! Luckily, ( depending how you look at it ) my ' beau ' was on duty, and came running to my rescue!

But, ( another word we were told not to use at the begining of a sentence!) when he tried to lift me up, I was too heavy for him to carry, so he ran to get someone else to assist him. He came back with another guy, and a wheelbarrow....guess what for?

So, here I was, eyes closed, in, not of a first kiss! but in anticipation of the pain I would feel when they managed to pick me up, and dump me in the wheelbarrow, so they could push me about 500 metres to the school clinic! Talk about an undignified and embarrassing encounter with your ' heart throb!' To cut a long story short, I tore a couple of ligaments in my leg, was unable to walk for six weeks, and now supposedly suffer from osteoathritis as a result....please note the ' supposedly '!( That is another day's topic!!)

So, what is this all about? It is about self esteem, it is about being what you want to be, it is about self will and determination, it is about the fact that the only person that can do anything about you is YOU!

A couple of years later, I was in Nigeria on holiday, walking with my father on the Marina, on our way to the bank, when a bosom buddy of mine from secondary school walked straight past me without saying a word! I had seen her coming, and was already gearing up in anticipation of hugging, laughing and catching up ( if my Pop would spare a few minutes!) I grabbed her from the back, calling out her name, as I realized she hadn't ' seen ' me! She turned and looked at me puzzled, then recognition slowly came into her eyes, as she screamed " ShaAAade!!" and hugged me!!!

Weighing in on that day, at 62kg ( I will never forget my weight during that period, because I was constantly asked by old friends!), I was looking good, and knew it! I had lost ALOT of weight, ALOT!!! At the instance and prompting ( read as heckling!) of my maternal uncle Ossie, in Trinidad, who spoke to me, who made me realize that I could do anything I wanted, who made me see that I did not have to accept or put any limitations on myself, and most imporant of all, who paid me for every kilo I lost ( that was actually the best part!); I had dropped over 30kg!!!
Note: Three other times after this my weight went up to over 100kg ( pregnancy related Lol!), the last being seven years ago, and using the same self motivating methods I lost the excess weight!

We do not have to accept our current situations in life if we are unhappy about them. There's an old saying that " By The Yard It's Hard; But Inch By Inch, Anything's A Cinch!" And Brian Tracy says " The Best Way For You To Eat A Large Frog Is For You To Take It One Bite At A Time." Procastination is not only a killer of dreams, it is a killer of the essence of man himself. No matter how difficult the task ahead may seem, resolve to begin to tackle it today, one tiny step at a time.

When I decided to lose weight, I went out and bought a few outfits in my desired and anticipated size! I used to look at these clothes regularly and envisage myself in them. I use this visualization process for anything I truly want, and it works for me! We must remember that everything starts with a dream, but it will remain just that if not followed by a decisive written plan, a strategy and action! Direction is central to success, as is knowing what you want, and this is where many people are going wrong. There has never been a time such as this. A time where we are faced with a multitude of choices, which ideally should give us more options and ways to fulfil our dreams, but the opposite seems to be the case. Never before have people been so confused, impoverished and in constant debt. Why? And what can we do about this?
It goes back, ( and always will ) to these easy to accomplish Q.U.I.C.K steps:


2. Translate your dream into easily definable, realistic, time bound, short term GOALS, that you can visualize.

3. Put these GOALS in writing.

4. Put these written GOALS in a place where you can refer to them everyday.

5. Do something everyday towards acheiving your GOALS.

6. Do not be afraid to share these GOALS with people you can trust to be supportive.

* BEWARE: DREAM KILLERS ARE EVERYWHERE. They are those people that tell us it cannot be done. Those who tell you you want too much, or that you want it all. They could be friends, family or even total strangers! You have to be careful that they do not influence your thinking. Because sharing your dreams is an important part of making them real, you really need to protect your dreams and keep them safe! Look for DREAM BUILDERS; Positive and successful people, who will encourage and guide you!

Having it ALL does not mean having it all at once. It takes time. Start small, no matter your age, and concentrate on TODAY. This slow accumulation will one day make a difference! What you are going to be tomorrow, you are becoming TODAY!!

And never, ever forget;

' You CAN Do It!'

" The Illiterate Of The 21st Century Will Not Be Those Who Cannot Read And Write, But Those Who Cannot Learn, Unlearn, And Re-learn."