The Five Second Rule

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A couple of times in the last few days, I’ve gotten some pretty cool topics to write about on this blog. However, I got distracted every single time. I have an assignment. Oh, I must read these chapters NOW. Papers to grade. And the best one, “I’m going to sleep for a bit and then get up and work”. Guess what time I woke up? Next morning (of course).

Just like me perhaps you have experienced those times when something good comes your way and suddenly you hesitate. These are what I call  “Pause and Kill it” moments. An opportunity presents itself, a great idea pops into your head, an introspective thought that could propel you into a new and better place, a plethora of things but somehow you take a pause and stop. And forget. Or get passed over. And the moment or opportunity gets lost, oftentimes, forever.

It has happened to me a few times. And it sucks.

Snooze and you lose. Yes.

There is something in us, (I don’t know what it is), that causes us to pause when we are on the brink of a breakthrough. Perhaps it is self-sabotage, but it could be just a survival instinct that prevents us from moving into the unknown, even if its simply jotting down an idea that could open the door to great things.

So how do you get beyond this tendency to ‘pause and kill it’?

We all know the phrase Carpe Diem – seize the day or in this case, the moment. And it is simply that. We have to get up and go do whatever it is that calls us the moment it does. If it’s a creative thought, write it down if you can’t do it immediately (for these things sometimes involve a process); engage in that process that will cause you to move towards that which has been calling you, waiting for you. This doesn’t guarantee success, but you surely will be better for the experience because now you know. It could be that audition, or that important phone call or the desire to write the first few paragraphs of that novel you have been thinking about; maybe it’s that the melody for a song that has been echoing in your mind – whatever that thing is, you will never know what could have been unless you get moving.

Not knowing is worse than trying and failing. You’ll always be wondering ‘What if’, and that can cause us to become stuck. Stuck in a moment that has passed, or has died. For with the pause comes death of the dream. You may think that you paused for just this time, made an excuse just this once but then it becomes a habit. You keep putting it off for one reason or another until it’s forgotten, swept away with the tide of complacency and normality.

Here is what you should do: each time the opportunity presents itself for you do something that will propel you to a new and better place, move in the first five seconds or so. Once that time passes, you will have lost the moment. You could try, but it’s hard to get it back and it certainly won’t be as good as the first. In that moment, the universe is perfectly aligned to receive from you in exactly this way.

Right now is always a great time to move, to do SOMETHING. What are you waiting for? Go on, grab a hold of your destiny. The world awaits you.

 

 

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When Friendship Dies

How do you let go when friendship dies?

Today, I got a wake-up call that a friendship has died. Even as I write, I hesitate to say that it has. We have shared so much and the thought of how much I grew under the sun of this friendship, makes me want to hang on to it.

I feel guilty because I feel as though I contributed to its demise. There was a time, even with the others in my very small circle, that she and I found time to engage in discourse about particular topics of interest to us. We were always there to encourage each other or to reinforce some important beliefs. For me, she was right for the part of the journey that I was growing through and things had were just perfect between us.

Then life happened: I started studying again, and one day led to several days and then weeks and months of not engaging as we had. I wanted to but I guess the desire was not as great as the need for sleep, completing research papers and performing my many and varied job functions that had me sacrificing meals and plotting when next I could get some sleep. I was just too tired. I still am.

We see each other often but I know our connection is no longer there. At least, not as strong as it used to be. Today, when I stopped to greet her and received a less than pleasant greeting, it hit me. The time has come to move on and let go. I have been feeling it for some time now. I have not felt ready to accept it but the encounter had me thinking about something I read years ago: People fit into either of three categories in your life – people are here for a reason, season or lifetime. I’ll treasure the lessons we have shared but its time to move on.

Friendships,many relationships, are often like that. The key is learning when, what and how to let go. Sometimes we get sentimental because of our shared past and we feel obligated to maintain it. Perhaps we need to recognize and accept that perhaps we were/are here for a particular phase of the journey, to be whatever is required of us to each other, in the boundaries of the relationship. It could be that you/we are meant to be in another’s life for a lifetime, for however long a lifetime is. What we need to do, is be willing: to let go when the time comes, to accept it for what it is, and to define its role in your/our life.

Does it mean you will stop communicating? Perhaps, yes. It may be instead you have an occasional really good conversation, a night out and that’s all you’re meant to. Or perhaps, this is it and you just need to wish each other well and get on with living. Understand that every relationship transitions, morphs, changes.

Even when you are as sentimental as I am, when the time comes, accept reality. Keep the memories, enjoy what was but look towards the future.

It’s waiting there for you.

 

 

 

 

I’m not buying what you’re selling

Our children are in trouble. And we’ve led them to it.

This morning I stepped into my class and had a long talk with my wards about the image they are selling to those who are evaluating them.

I had to speak to them about ‘impression management’, a term I coined when I lectured a course at a local university and had to create some content for them. Impression management, as I defined it,  is “actively managing or organizing behaviour in a sustained manner that would cause one to be evaluated as desired” (DSM, 2013). I explained to them that many persons engage in this practice without consciously organizing themselves but sub-consciously, since most of us want to ‘put our best foot forward’, we choose behaviours that would cause us to be viewed favourably.

Business entrepreneurs, media moguls, performers/ artists are just a few of the professionals that hire people to ‘market’ them successfully. Many of us tailor our image to suit whomever’s buying: your manager, the voting public, sometimes potential life partners.

The need arose to speak to them due to improper conduct that was observed at an event. There were several adults around, some of whom cheered on the ‘performances’, seemingly unaware of the message they were sending. I was taken aback, and sought to have a discussion with individuals within my area of responsibility, to address the ills that were seen. As I counselled my students, this occurred to me: these children are behaving as we have taught them to. A troubling thought for someone in my profession who sees manifestations of varied levels of conduct disorders, body dysmorphia and social pathology every single day, presenting in young people.

The fact is, the adults of this society are to be blamed. We complain about our children and the varied issues they have but it is us who create their world. As it came out in the discussion, we ‘sell’ them the sounds and images (music, videos, movies, magazines, books)that are rife with violent and high sexual content. Imagine a game where the dare is to ‘punch and knockout’ a total stranger (the old not excepted from this). No matter how much it is said that “There are parental controls on the internet and television”, our advertisements in magazines and television, on the billboards and flyers that is seen all around them are all filled with these images. We claim to try to protect them, but yet, every other image they see, created by adults, tells them something different.

They are confused. We tell our females about respecting their bodies and then create a world that glorifies the biggest ‘assets’ (insert____ here). We say ” You are beautifully and wonderfully made” then point out how great and perfect (whatever current pop artist, model, whomever) looks. We are teaching them that those individuals are the images we see when we say ‘Beautiful’ or ‘Handsome’. They proceed to compare themselves and of course, desire to look like that. Ever wonder why the cosmetics industry makes so much money? We tell our boys that females are to be treated in a particular way and yet create programs that promote promiscuity and label it “a reality show”.

Don’t be fooled that children don’t have access to content that we wouldn’t them viewing. I laugh sometimes that children seem to be born out of the womb, knowing how to use computers of every kind. Therefore, the adults of this world need to take responsibility for the future they are creating. We keep telling them one thing and doing another. It needs to stop being ‘Do as I say but not as I do’.  We need to stop playing ostrich and burying our head in the sand and exercise some control over ourselves for the sake of our children.  We already know what is out there. We need to do whatever it takes to create a world that allows a child to be a child, for as long as they are supposed to.

The world isn’t running away. Preserve their innocence, just a little while longer. Its only fair.

 

 

The Zika Virus and being scared sh*tless

I live in the Caribbean and we get all sorts of things coming at us every summer through to December each year: storms, hurricanes, floods are commonplace. However, though they happen quite frequently, I always get a bit tense and jumpy when the season rolls around.

We’ve been hit with a number of tropical related viruses and communicable diseases throughout time. I unfortunately, was not skipped the last time around and caught the dreaded Chikungunya Virus(Chick V) when it passed through. Usually all of those things pass me by but I was bit (literally) in the behind by the aedes aegypti mosquito and viola!, the rest was pain and more pain.

That was just a year or so ago and I’m left with all sorts of small issues: lumps appearing at my elbows and my left thumb. They have since disappeared but now I have some arthritic-like symptoms in my joints. Various little aches and pains that I’m told are remnants of the virus, though nothing to incapacitate me totally. This has left me a bit wary, so I’m careful to ensure that the much needed vitamins and irons are regularly taken.

Despite being careful, I have not posted in the past few weeks because its flu season and, of course, I caught it. That, in combination with a number of sleepless nights due to studies and my current mode of employment, left me incapacitated for the past few weeks. I am still not fully recovered (have a nagging cough) but I have still had to power though work and school and any other important task that demanded my attention.

These challenges has left me a bit pre-occupied with the Zick V. I’ve been watching and reading with horrible fascination, all the new coverage regarding this latest epidemic. Is it an epidemic though? It seems to have just surfaced but in fact, has been in existence for quite sometime. I shake my head at all the complications it has brought to the lives of parents who have been caught unaware and quite innocently in a fracas being brought by an insect that was created to destroy another. I watch from the ‘safety’ of my living room, these mothers who have a look of bewilderment and I can hardly imagine the social welfare disaster that has been created. I wonder if these governments are prepared for what is truly to come.

I see their fear and my own stomach knots in response because you sort of wonder ‘what’s next?’. Between science and nature, we have been lashed with a number of diseases that we seem ill-equipped to handle.

I wish the best for them. I hope the powers that be quickly articulates some sort of social welfare response to the crisis that affords them the kind of support they will need over the next few years, at least.

Keep humanity in your prayers. We certainly need it.

Bless up.

 

 

Living Beyond Limitations: Launch out into the Deep!

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“When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Luke 5:4

I recently posted on the matter of living beyond limitations and since then, I’ve been turning over the topic in my mind. Coincidentally, in alignment with these thoughts, I’ve listened to a few messages (sermons) and watched a vlog that spoke to the issue, directly and indirectly.

The one recurring theme of them all was the requirement of risk taking. From my own intimate examination of life experiences and those of others I’ve read of or researched, I have noted that in order to self actualize and succeed at the endeavour that you engage in, one must be willing to “Cast their bread upon the water” , so to speak. This word of wisdom, written by Solomon, a couple of thousand of years ago, holds true even today. In Ecclesiastes 11, he instructs us to “Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days”, which I believe is saying, “Put everything you have into it and you will reap great rewards from your investment”.

What does “Put everything into it” mean in todays context? Perhaps it means several hours and years of academic pursuits; huge commitments of time and money; foregoing ‘fun times and things’ in order for that dream business you have just started to not just come to fruition, but to flourish after a few years. Perhaps missing out on things that you’d prefer to do (for example sleep!).

We often second guess these investments because of the cost attached to it. As someone told me  a few years ago, you may toss your bread out there, and its eaten by fishes that you never catch! But that is a risk you have to take! No one knows what will happen but you can’t have the wisdom of experience unless you try! How about placing a hook inside the bread so that you get [catch] something for your investment? It’s all about perspective. Fear keeps you from launching out but the bread will eventually become stale and mouldy and less in value. The same thing with some ideas, with time they may lose their relevance or someone else may just have the same idea and step out in faith! Perhaps if its invested wisely, tossed out with careful planning and preparation, who knows what your net and bread will earn you?

In the chapter of Luke where Jesus instructs Simon Peter to let down his nets one more time, Peter had become frustrated because he had tried so many times and failed. Has this happened to you? Have you witnessed so many failures of others that you begin to self sabotage and delay or avoid important steps? Have you engaged in negative self talk that exhaust and demotivate you? Perhaps we need to do some thing that is illustrated in this passage: look to someone who knows more than us (an expert in the field perhaps), see what they have done in the past and also be willing to try again despite the many failures.

” If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again!”

Be open to the process. I know, as someone who’s had several failures, that it is hard to not become discouraged. However, I know, again from experience, that when you have a passion, a dream that seems to be with you at every waking moment, no matter what comes, it’s very difficult to abandon and just give up on the dream. Sometimes, unfortunately, we work less at it and are no longer open to the process as time passes and failures pile up. I keep seeing a picture being circulated on social media of a man hacking away at a wall and just as he is close to breaking through, he walks away. That is sad, because so many of us will be and is that person. We become so exhausted, so broken that we just can’t do it anymore.

How do we know when we are close to breaking through, that success is just around the corner?

Sometimes we just know, something resonates within us, and we have to keep at it. Sometimes it comes so quickly, so absolutely, that we are overwhelmed with surprise because we ‘can’t believe how quickly it happened’, forgetting the many years of struggle and sacrifice. The fact is though, many individuals who end up with successful ventures will say that they really had no idea of when to stop, they just knew that they had to keep trying, even when friends and family stopped believing in the dream.

You may have to go it alone

You have to become radical about your dream – there are some instances when we will have to go it alone, and block out the noise of the crowd in order to see our vision clearly. Not everyone is going to believe or be willing to give it all or nothing as you are. There will be a time in the journey that you will need to close everyone out and just do it, go it alone.

Perhaps that time is now.

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Living beyond Limitations?

6e0d091935eaaf5e98ee471b337ecda1Those who are called to extra-ordinary things are also called to make extra-ordinary sacrifices and will face extra ordinary challenges” DSM, 20/6/2013

Some sage words I told a friend of mine during a conversation some years ago. How true they are right now, in this moment as I seek to live beyond the limitations that circumstances, my mind and others I’ve allowed to become significant have placed on me. I’ve been evaluating my life and the role of others whom I have deemed important to my existence.

I’m  at a crossroads.

I need to leave but habit and an in-built sense of obligation has me at a standstill.

In the last few months, I’ve been quietly but steadily thinking of moving: leaving my current home, job, circle of friends, the people I love dearly and all the things I’ve come to both love and hate behind. Just get up and go. To another country and just start afresh.

I mean, its not like I’m unhappy. But I’m not happy either. I have been steadily making progress towards some life goals and have accomplished a couple of them in the last year. I’ve recently been appointed to a position at my job that I’ve waited quite a long time for (and many would love to be where I am) and I should be grateful. And I am. I have resumed an academic pursuit that will enable me to enjoy some professional growth and positioning in another year or two. Home life is good – there are some challenges but nothing that time cannot overcome.

So why do I feel this overwhelming sense of boredom and disappointment? Why this need for change?

I have shoved the feeling away every-time that it comes up and even started a gratitude journal to help me keep track of all that I do have going for me. How blessed I am and as a reminder of how long I have waited for many of these life events to occur.

But I just can’t shake the feeling.

It’ll go away, I know. But then it returns with a vengeance and I am hushed into silence and a feeling of utter dissatisfaction. I don’t like it at all. I am usually the one with the answers but this time, an answer eludes me. I know it’s there, deep down, but perhaps its revelation will frighten me and I don’t want to acknowledge it.

So instead, I wait. And let it go for today because it’s obviously not the day to face it.

 

 

Change gon’ come

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I am taking a break from my many assignments to write about something I just came across a few minutes ago: What do you do when tragedy strikes in the middle of your well planned out busy-ness? The tragedy is usually a loss of some kind: perhaps the loss of a life, a life style, a job, the end of a friendship, youth or a period of peace in your life.

I was searching for a document when I came across a paper I wrote a year or so ago. It was for a Psychology of Education class and I was reflecting on two tragedies that happened in the middle of preparing my students for final exams. Two persons I knew died – one from a long illness and another from an apparent suicide.

The shock of them both hit me so hard, that now I wonder how is it that I managed to operate during that period. I remembered thinking “Holy Crappanoli! I really don’t have time for this – I’m busy!” and then burst out bawling.

Then, as I did with my Dad’s death many years ago, I went into survival mode: I got up, brushed my teeth, showered, did the normal things such as eating, pooping (haha- nasty I know!), sleeping and even went to work and performed as I was expected to.

The fact is, when I read through that paper, I realise that nothing we have previously experienced truly prepares us for when tragedy strikes. For the friend who was sick for a long time, just like Daddy, I thought I was prepared. I was in the middle of a party when I got the news, as Fate would have it, for both passing.

Could it be that I was being reminded that life goes on and I should take even more care to ensure that I made the most of it? Perhaps.

So what do you do when these periods in your life happens?

You keep doing what you always have – you LIVE. That may seem a bit callous but it is what you need to do. You take it one day at a time and cry when you need to and ensure that you mourn. You face the fact that the part of your life will never be the same again and move on as best you can.

Should you hold on to memories? Yes you should. They help make the transition easier but it must be done with the realization that you can’t ever go back. Just as that person won’t ever be alive again, you have to understand that some experiences and some periods in your life was meant to be there for a season only, for however long that season was meant to go on for.

And just like seasons, change must come. If it doesn’t, your life would be one long drawn out ground-hog day like that movie! Imagine the boredom and frustration after a while! If change doesn’t come, you can’t experience growth. Therefore, view this as a part of the learning curve. You have to go through in order to grow through.

Change is going to come. Whether we’re ready for it or not. Our best response is to embrace it and manage as best we can.

Writing 101: The Promise of Happiness and Social Inequaliy

Inequality of some kind has existed since the dawn of man. Within every society, there exists a group that benefits from the position it holds and which seeks, through social organization, to maintain the status quo.

The maintenance of this status quo, unfortunately, often impinges on one’s opportunity to fully capitalize on the life chances that are given to each of us. The right to an education, the freedom to express religious and socio-political beliefs, to experience culture in its highest form or to enjoy a long, healthy life, in some societies, for those born a female.

It seems as though the promise of happiness is only that: a promise and one must pursue it with zeal. Happiness, in any form, is elusive and fleeting and often comes with immense sacrifice. The fact of social inequality presents an additional hurdle to be surpassed in order to obtain what seems to be a very temporary state.

What often remains unacknowledged is this fragile emotional state often means a loss of life, limb and precious effort that could be better spent.  But can this happiness be obtained without a loss of some kind? It is a question to ponder as successive examples throughout history has shown that happiness and the freedoms that we enjoy, came at a steep price for many who gave their lives to fight for what they believed to be right and just. This, we have evidenced with the French Revolution, the case of the former slaves of the Caribbean plantation society, who rebelled with bloody force to over throw their capturers and the civil rights movement. It is evidenced through the females who give up precious time with their children, in order to provide for them, as a single parent or the soldier who leaves his or her family, in order to protect their personal freedoms and that of others.

This ideal, it seems, cannot exist without sacrifice.

Marxist conjecture posits that society, through its relationship with things material, will have instances of conflict amongst its groups. The ideas held by each group, in pursuit of personal fulfilment, become increasingly incompatible to the point of a social explosion that results in change. The conflict amongst groups is a catalyst for change which must occur if society is to improve. Society is a dynamic force and as the culture, demands and focus of the groups within it change, it adjusts itself to reflect the new paradigms within which it operates.

Change must come. And so we too must change in order to enjoy the happiness we so readily pursue. .