It’s exactly what you think
What is it about life that makes it so complicated or so simple? Why do we see some persons excelling far beyond theirs and other people’s expectations and what makes others suffer so much? Perhaps it’s the food we eat! Is it something in our genes? Or is it just the way it is and there is nothing we can do about it. Life, love, relationships, passion, family, work, LIFE! What makes this four letter word so special, so great or so dull! Can we go to the library for that one book, search on the internet or even dig up a treasure chest for the formula of life?
These are my thoughts on the matter, we can look at it from three angles, 1:How others perceive us to be, 2:How we perceive ourselves to be, 3:What we really are.
How others perceive us to be. It is true that things will inevitable happen in our lives of which we have little or no control. Disasters will strike, problems will come, and people will react. But what others do or say, does that define who we really are? We have all heard the saying, ‘sticks and stones can break my bones but words can do me no harm.’ As a child I believed every word of that statement, there was nothing or no one who could have convinced me otherwise. As I got older, I questioned the second half of that quote as I pondered for many years about what it was really saying. Today, I have returned to my child-like way of thinking of it being wholeheartedly true and I will tell you why. Although it can be painful or hurtful hearing certain words, getting bad news or perhaps hearing a lie being spoken about you. Words will always be just what they are, words. It is our interpretation and understanding of these words that create that impulse in our body, we call feelings. From the book, “The four agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz, the second agreement states, ‘don’t take it personally.’ Don’t take anything personally. Don’t take it personally, whether it is a compliment or an insult. Don’t believe it be either true or false, don’t believe it to be right or wrong. If you can truly be unmoved by the words others say, you will not be affected in anyway. We speak to ourselves more often than anyone else, consciously and subconsciously. We have more influence in our lives than anyone else around us. And according to “The Power of your subconscious mind,” by Dr Joseph Murphy, ‘All our experiences, events, conditions and acts are the reactions of your subconscious mind to your thoughts.’ So you create your own life. It wasn’t the words that your neighbour spoke but it was the thoughts that you generated in your mind, pondered on and created that next step in your life. Guard your thoughts as though your life depends on it, because it does. Whether it is good or bad, what others say about you, think about you and feel for you is none of your business. Of course if it is a compliment, you should show that you appreciate it and receive it but don’t take it personally. You define your outcome, you shape your life, what you have and what you are, is a result of you and your thoughts. Until we understand that we must all take 100% responsibility for what happens to us in our lives, we will forever blame the government, the church, the school, our boss or our parents for what we have or don’t have.
Which brings me to the second thought, how we perceive ourselves to be? We all have a vision in our mind and our minds eye about what we want in life or hope our life will be. Some of us have big dreams, that may include things that no one in our family or perhaps our country has ever accomplished, some of us may think that because of our present circumstances that we could never amount to anything good much less great and then there are those in the middle who just go with the flow, allowing the tide to take you where ever it wants to take you. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We do have a say, we can achieve the things hoped for without the evidence of seeing it. We can become what we believe ourselves to be. ‘We are all self made but only the successful will admit it,’ Earl Nightingale. So if you think you are great, you’re right and if you don’t think you can achieve anything, you’re also right.
I share this short true story with you. When I was studying in University a few years ago, after my first year, I was sent to a province which was an eight hour bus drive away from where my brother was studying. I decided that I wanted to be transferred to a University closer to where he was so that we would visit each other often. I had no idea how and if I was going to get the transfer. But In my mind I was already in that institution closer to my brother. In my mind, I had already gotten the transfer. I missed a week from classes to submit letters and have meetings before I was told it would not be possible to get the transfer until the following semester. I went back to classes for two weeks very sad and depressed before I got an unexpected phone call to say that my transfer was approved and I needed to collect all my documents and take them to the University the next day. That is the power of the mind, that is the power of faith. You have to own what you want before you see it or even see the means of getting what you desire, as if you already have it in your possession and if it’s for you, you will surely receive it or achieve it.
And finally, what we really are, how successful are you! What have you achieved, financially, physically and spiritually? There is a famous saying, ‘You are what you eat’. Yes we are what we eat, literally. We are what we eat physically and mentally. If you feed your body with junk food and fast food all the time and do no form of exercise then you will reap the fruits of your labour. Don’t expect to have that 6 pack the body builder has. In the same way the body builder has to put in the hard work and train five to six times a week and have a healthy and balanced diet to get and maintain their gorgeous physic, is the same way you would see the results by stuffing your body with unhealthy foods. Similarly with our mind, we must constantly be feeding our minds with healthy thoughts, by the conversations we have, the books we read, by the music we listen to, by the company we keep and most importantly by the thoughts we have especially of ourselves. We are what we think about, the thoughts that we posses in our conscious and subconscious mind will eventually be manifested in reality. ‘Positive thinking won’t let you do anything but it will let you do everything better than negative thinking will,’ Zig Ziglar. But a word of advice, just as it takes that body builder months and sometimes even years to achieve that look he desires, so it takes us time to develop mentally and spiritually. Never let up, constantly feed your mind with healthy and positive thoughts, build that six pack in your brain. Create that resistance that only you and your thoughts can influence your actions. Love yourself, love your maker, love others, forgive yourself and others. Make this year better than the last, begin to create what you believe you truly deserve, by changing your thoughts. Read the right books, meet the right people, create the right thoughts and watch it manifest before your eyes. The power is in your hands or rather in your mind.
4 Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. 9 For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; 10 but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13: verses 4-13 (New Revised Standard Version)
How do you expect someone to love you and treat you with respect if you don’t love yourself? Do you love yourself? Do you express that love in the way you dress, talk or walk? Is is expressed in the way you treat you body and mind on a daily basis? Not showing your self love can be a very dangerous path to take as it can be disastrous not only to yourself but family, friends and love ones around you. No you are not selfish to pamper yourself or treat yourself with a little extra tender loving care on occasions. You are simply showing your self love. Loving your self is a good way to attract love, to exude love and to create a stress free atmosphere with positive energy around you, where ever you may go. When others see how you treat yourself, they in turn will treat you in the same manner. Self love is not being full of yourself, it is simply demonstrating acceptance of the way you are and showing self gratitude. Show your self some love today, give your self a hug, a kiss even :-). Love thy self and love will follow, the same love that your creator shows you, unconditional love, selfless love, pure love.
When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh.
When care is pressing you down a bit.
Rest, if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns
As every one of us sometimes learns.
And many a failure turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out:
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow –
You may succeed with another blow.
Success is failure turned inside out –
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt.
And you never can tell how close you are.
It may be near when it seems so far:
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.
These are just a few words in the form of a poem, hopefully to encourage someone who may be having a bad day, week or year, DON’T QUIT! Rome wasn’t built in a day, so also it takes time to achieve your goals but as the author wrote “stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit,” and in the end you will see that it was worth it.
Captain of the soul
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
Invictus is a short poem written in 1875 by the English poet and editor William Ernest Henley (1849–1903) after he had a leg ambulated due to a long battle with Tuberculosis that affected his bones in childhood. It had been said that he wrote this poem in protest of possibly having to loose the other leg and that a missing limb was not going to hinder him from being successful in life. Mr Henley’s story is a reminder that anything is possibly and we are only limited by our minds and the goals that we set for ourselves. Do not be discouraged by failures and set backs that you experience but use them as tools and stepping stones to learn from to make you a better you.
By Maya Angelou
“Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
Cause I’m a woman
“Happiness always looks small while you hold it in your hands, but let it go, and you learn at once how big and precious it is. ” – Maxim Gorky
It can sometimes be challenging seeing the good in a situation or being happy despite facing a problem. It is very easy to become bugged down with life and all the problems that we face, that we seldom make time to just ‘stop and smell the roses’. Life goes by in a flash and we don’t know when our number will be called. So why spend our days, fussing and being miserable! With help from our Saviour, we can learn to be happy and grateful in every situation. We may not see it at the time when we are going through the difficulty and we will not be ‘happy’ 100% of the time. But once we would have learnt the lesson, we would be more appreciative for over coming the situation and because of it, we would be a better and stronger person.
Happiness by Jane Kenyon
There’s just no accounting for happiness
Or the way it turns up like a prodigal
Who comes back to the dust at your feet
Having squandered a fortune far away
And how can you not forgive?
You make a feast in honor of what
Was lost, and take from its place the finest
Garment, which you saved for an occasion
You could not imagine, and you weep night and day
To know that you were not abandoned
That happiness saved its most extreme form for you alone
No, happiness is the uncle you never
knew about, who flies a single-engine plane
onto the grassy landing strip, hitchhikes
into town, and inquires at every door
until he finds you asleep midafternoon
as you so often are during the unmerciful hours of your despair
It comes to the monk in his cell
It comes to the woman sweeping the street
With a birch broom, to the child
Whose mother has passed out from drink.
It comes to the lover, to the dog chewing
A sock, to the pusher, to the basketmaker,
And to the clerk stacking cans of carrots in the night
It even comes to the boulder
In the perpetual shade of pine barrens,
To rain falling on the open sea,
To the wineglass, weary of holding wine.
Martin Luther King Jr. said in his “I have a dream speech on the 28th August 1963, “All men are created equal.” Before that time even until now, people have been quick to point out the differences in each other that further divide them rather than to see the similarities that bring them closer together. And our hair is the same when it comes to being different in many ways.
Why are women AND men so fascinated over hair, their hair and other people’s hair, fake hair, coloured hair, natural and relaxed hair, short and long hair. We spend millions of dollars getting it styled, cutting and trimming it, adding colour and just to maintain it the way it is. Especially now, there has been a surge in the natural hair community worldwide, women every where spend thousands of dollars every year on a variety of hair products and accessories . It is certainly true that we can sometimes identify a certain ethnicity or group of persons from the way they carry their hair or from its very appearance. Although we do not have any control with the hair we were born with, I agree that our hair is part of our heritage, telling many stories. It is a part of who we are, it forms a portion of us. BUT our hair does NOT define us, it does not define our personality, it does not make us good or bad, but it is merely an accessory that compliments the person we are on the inside.
I can’t tell you how many time over the years, persons have asked me about my ethnicity. If we were to take a journey into our past and take a glimpse into history, we were taught that our ancestors who originated from the African continent were born into slavery and many made the long treacherous voyage to the Caribbean on slave ships where they worked the sugar plantation and picked cotton among other things. To make a long story short, the plantation owners went with the female slaves and these women bore their children. If we want to be technical out race and where we came from, then we are all of a mixed culture and race and nothing is wrong with that. I am pretty sure that if we were to trace our family tree, we would find ancestors of European, Asian and of course African decent and who knows from where else.
While I was studying in University, I was given the title of ‘coloured’ by some of my African colleagues. Before that time I never heard of that term and I did not know the definition of being coloured. I was soon taught that according to them because of the colour of my skin and more importantly the texture of my hair, that I was of a mixed culture, and there is probably some truth to that. As far as I see I am Caribbean, I am Antiguan. My efforts to convince them that we were all cut from the same cloth were in vain. They adamantly stated that I could not be from the same blood line because of my hair texture in particular. Back then I used to get very upset about the whole situation but now I simply smile because it is sad that people no longer take the time to get to know someone and are always quick to judge another person because of their appearance. You see we as Caribbean and black people are special and more so because of our hair. It would make this blog unbearable long if I were to explain in great details about the uniqueness of the curls, kinks and coils of our hair. Our hair is full of so many different textures on one head telling many stories with every twist and curl. We can choose to be curly or straight within hours if we so desire.
The point is not to convince you or even myself of who I am or where I came from because of that I am sure, because I consider myself to be apart of the black race. The point I want to bring across is that I hope that we would not be quick to judge a person because of the colour of their skin or of the texture of their hair.
Matthew chapter 7, verse 1 & 2 states “Do NOT judge, so that you may NOT be judged. For the judgment you make you will be judged and the measure you give, will be the measure you get.”
Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream in 1963 for people of every class and creed to live in love and harmony. 50 years later and we are still divided by a single strand, by the colour of our skin and by the texture of our hair. And in the words of Mr King himself “I have a dream that we will not be judged by the colour of our skin [and I would like to add the texture of our hair] but by the content of our character.”
Saying life is short is definitely a cliché, but it really is very short. Do we want to spend this short life that was granted to us, complaining, being bitter and resentful, angry and unkind to others and ourselves? Or do we want to learn all we can, do all we can and enjoy all we can, before it’s too late. Think about it! Good and bad things happens to us all, and we can either choose to learn from these situations or be forever miserable about them. What path are you taking or going to take? As I reflect on my life and the life of others around me, I realize more and more that we have to be grateful for every day that is given to us, every breath that we take, every moment that we have here on earth. Someone can literally be here now and gone the next minute, it is that serious. If you are facing difficult times, seek help, pray, find a way to rise above the situation and make it out stronger. If you are seeing great times, enjoy it, be thankful, and if you are able share your abundance, share.
The following poem was written by Maya Angelou, in memory of Michael Jackson. And even though these words were written specifically for him, they can be applied to anyone who has lost their life. May their souls be forever at peace and may their love one(s) whose lives may have been affected by their death, also find peace as they continue their life journey without them.
We Had Him
Beloveds, now we know that we know nothing
Now that our bright and shining star can slip away from our fingertips like a puff of summer wind
Without notice, our dear love can escape our doting embrace
Sing our songs among the stars and and walk our dances across the face of the moon
In the instant we learn that Michael is gone we know nothing
No clocks can tell our time and no oceans can rush our tides
With the abrupt absence of our treasure
Though we our many, each of us is achingly alone
Only when we confess our confusion can we remember that he was a gift to us and we did have him
He came to us from the Creator, trailing creativity in abundance
Despite the anguish of life he was sheathed in mother love and family love and survived and did more than that
He thrived with passion and compassion, humor and style
We had him
Whether we knew who he was or did not know, he was ours and we were his
We had him
Beautiful, delighting our eyes
He raked his hat slant over his brow and took a pose on his toes for all of us and we laughed and stomped our feet for him
We were enchanted with his passion because he held nothing
He gave us all he had been given
Today in Tokyo, beneath the Eiffel Tower, in Ghana’s Blackstar Square, in Johannesburg, in Pittsburgh, in Birmingham, Alabama and Birmingham England, we are missing Michael Jackson
But we do know that we had him
And we are the world.