Proactive Habits

preview.png

Today, I received very valuable feedback from someone I look up to lately. A lady whose name pops up in several headlines and is quite a memorable person. I specifically engaged with her because I saw in her someone I could emulate and I wasn’t wrong. Today’s conversation was proof of that. And to sum it up, she recommended one area to improve about myself in one word; PROACTIVE.

This is one word that am sure even you have heard being used here and there and maybe like me, its real meaning had not properly related to you yet. I know I have heard and read it in may places but I think what I hadn’t properly related to was how it applied to my own self. God knows I would be so embarrassed if someone said that I have advised them to be proactive before because right now it’s almost a new word to me. However, with a few examples of current events, I was able to properly see what it meant. And then it sank in, the piece to the puzzle that I have been missing. Why everything has been slow for me lately and why I felt like all was against me in a way. It dawned on me in that moment, that I was being reactive, which in turn led me to think that something outside of me had to change for me to be better. Note that I had left this line of thinking way back and this was like a relapse of sorts. But let me share what it means to be proactive and a few steps am gonna take to improve in that area. I knew this, but I didn’t know that I did.

Proactive means acting in anticipation of future problems, needs, or changes.

It is a word that was coined to describe the kind of person who’s always looking into the future in order to be prepared for anything. The opposite of reactive. For example; a good parent attempts to be proactive on behalf of his or her children, trying to imagine the problems they might be facing in a few months or years and acting accordingly.

Stephen R Covey, in his book ‘The 7 habits of Highly Effective People’, had this to say;

Your life doesn’t just “happen.” Whether you know it or not, it is carefully designed by you. The choices, after all, are yours. You choose happiness. You choose sadness. You choose decisiveness. You choose ambivalence. You choose success. You choose failure. You choose courage. You choose fear. Just remember that every moment, every situation, provides a new choice. And in doing so, it gives you a perfect opportunity to do things differently to produce more positive results.

Habit 1: Be Proactive is about taking responsibility for your life. You can’t keep blaming everything on your parents or grandparents. Proactive people recognize that they are “response-able.” They don’t blame genetics, circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for their behavior. They know they choose their behavior. Reactive people, on the other hand, are often affected by their physical environment. They find external sources to blame for their behavior. If the weather is good, they feel good. If it isn’t, it affects their attitude and performance, and they blame the weather. All of these external forces act as stimuli that we respond to. Between the stimulus and the response is your greatest power–you have the freedom to choose your response. One of the most important things you choose is what you say. Your language is a good indicator of how you see yourself. A proactive person uses proactive language–I can, I will, I prefer, etc. A reactive person uses reactive language–I can’t, I have to, if only. Reactive people believe they are not responsible for what they say and do–they have no choice.

Instead of reacting to or worrying about conditions over which they have little or no control, proactive people focus their time and energy on things they can control. The problems, challenges, and opportunities we face fall into two areas–Circle of Concern and Circle of Influence.

Proactive people focus their efforts on their Circle of Influence. They work on the things they can do something about: health, children, problems at work. Reactive people focus their efforts in the Circle of Concern–things over which they have little or no control: the national debt, terrorism, the weather. Gaining an awareness of the areas in which we expend our energies in is a giant step in becoming proactive. 

Reading this text shone a light on some of the things I stopped doing which had helped me maintain a proactive attitude and also highlighted some of the new habits that I need to adopt in order to be better as a person but even so, more productive on a daily. Maybe they could work for you too. Let’s explore them;

  • I am “Response-able” like Stephen Covey says there. This only highlights the power we each have over the situations we are in or the events that happen to and around us. It simply means you have the ability to respond. Note that is ‘respond’ and not ‘react’. There is a difference between the two words though I have people use them interchangeably. Always remembering that you have the power over every situation gives you a better judgement to make a clear decision which will always favor you.

 

  • Know your day: Plan ahead what your day will entail. It is advised to do this before you go to bed but some people do it better early morning. I am one of those. I would rather be an hour early and have a moment to sort out what I have to do than scribble my to-do list before bed because I tend to lose touch with the urgency of the activities planned that way, yet what I plan in the morning, I execute to absolute satisfaction.

 

  • Live in the future: This is simply to say always think ahead of your current situation, this way you can easily anticipate outcomes and possible solutions that may save you time and resources. We tend to live so much in the moment and find ourselves stranded or in an emergency situation. I have learnt the hard way to always be ahead and on top of everything.

There are so many points I could but let’s first digest these ones and we will share more in a future post.

#BreakingLymyts

True Story

Joining university was such an honor for him, more of a dream come true. It was a place he never thought he would ever reach after his father passed away six years back. He had faced the harsh reality of saying farewell to a man who was not just his father, but a youthful vibrant soul whose life had only just began. A man whose dream of raising his young family was no more, whose goal of building a house for his family hadn’t even gone past the foundation and had worked so hard for his children to go to the best schools. His wife was just a young woman, robbed of a lover who had shouldered the world for her happiness and comfort, and gladly she had mothered three sons for him. Together they could see the future they wanted for their family. But death knows no love, for it takes whenever it sees fit. She was faced with the challenge of maintaining their children’s lives as they were which she successfully did, even though they do not know exactly how she managed.

It wasn’t easy on him either. But despite all the ups and downs, he blossomed into a young man, hopeful and ambitious, with a heart of gold, and for whom a new journey had just began. Acing the high school examinations, he had scored himself government sponsorship to one of the finest business colleges in the country. But before he could graduate and be the fine man he is today, there were a few lessons he had to learn. Just a few experiences to live, which would shape his character and define him as a man. One in particular was the love of a woman, which you should know by now, comes in all shapes and sizes. It will make or break you, and for him, a fine package awaited.

She was slender, of average height, not the pretty type but certainly very likable. Born and raised in the capital, she knew her way around and treated him to quite a number of interesting adventures. He began to like her as more than just a friend, and she knew, without a doubt, that she had him. Truth is she did. The kind of guy whose mother had raised to be honest, fair to others and never ever to ill treat a woman. In all his innocence, he was sure he had found his dream girl, the one he would present to his mother. A mother who had instilled in him all the highest Christian values, on which he based his fine judgement. He made a promise to her that he would stand by her and do his best to support her, after all, she was his girl. He was quite resourceful too. So much that he never called home to ask for upkeep but managed with the college allowances he received as a government sponsored student. She admired him a lot and told him so, until the trickstar in her emerged.

To her, he lost his innocence and gave his all. But was she grateful for that? Not long after they had started dating, she began to complain that he wasn’t caring enough. When he waved at a female friend, even those she knew so well, it was unacceptable. When he wanted to hangout with his friends, he was being unfaithful and when he stayed up late to read, he had to have been with another girl. We hear that city girls are very opportunistic and cunning, but he surely didn’t get the memo. He was about to witness a series of tricks that left all the trust in him so insufficient even for himself.

It was a day like any other; mid morning, afternoon lectures coming up, fine weather and plans to play soccer later with his friends while his girl cheered from the sidelines like she had always been doing. All was going alright, when his phone rang. A soft hello from the other side, and all the alarm bells started ringing in his head. In all the things he had imagined doing for her, sickness hadn’t made it to the list. But she wasn’t exactly sick, she had what should have been amazing news but for a college student, it was horrifying news. She had taught him much but not how to avoid a pregnancy. The weak voice suddenly climaxed to a boss lady like tone. A whole list of ‘You better not’s followed and he listened half attentively. The only concern weighing on his mind was; “How the heck am I gonna tell mum about this? Well, she didn’t care. All she needed was a list of supplies and enough pocket change. Day One, Two,….Fifteen, she still kept it up, and not once did he think of taking her for a pregnancy test, neither did he tell anyone about it, for he would have been advised to schedule a test. But she also never gave him a chance to consult with others because she had threatened to call his mother should he act otherwise.

Having dated for almost a year, she knew who mummy or brother or sister was, and played her cards well. Well aware of how much he respected his mother, she made sure to save her contact in her own phone book for those moments she needed to manipulate him. And this moment was the finest of all. Girls usually have those friends who are generally sharper and more manipulative even to themselves within their circle and should they hear of an opportunity to squeeze even the most little of shillings out of you, they will be the sweetest you have ever met. He didn’t think of all that either. He was the most reliable guy any woman would ever wish for, easily threatened and pushed around. To say the least, he was NICE, if you thought that was only for girls. He is the kind that reminds you of the fact that there still great men out there. Three months of taunting this innocent young man later, she calls him from a supposed hospital bed to say she couldn’t keep the baby and therefore, aborted it. And no, she didn’t allow him to visit her. She only made sure he doesn’t dump her. And he stayed. He was in a corner no sane man wants to ever find himself, that corner where he is under a woman’s control. Why? Because she would call his mother. Everyone wants to protect their image especially in the eyes of the people who have the most influence on us, like mothers. Your sins just cannot get to her, and so he played along.

A few months later, it happened again. And this time there was sufficient weight gain visible to support it. Usually, when a woman is pregnant, she adds on a few kilograms in weight and at least he knew about this. And again, he was the responsible boyfriend. Answering her every call and treating her to all that she asked. She at one time asked for a certain amount of money he did not have and then, determined not to be bossed around by a woman, declined to offer it. She dialed his mother’s number right there and then, as it was dialing, he confirmed that it was actually the correct number and he begged for his dear life to be spared. He literally knelt in front of her and swore to comply. Over the months, he could see that she looked quite different, not enough to ascertain a baby on board but he had to be nice if he didn’t want ‘mama’ to know. One night during the ninth month, she calls to say she had had a still birth. He mourned! But even more than mourning, he questioned his sanity because somewhere in her first trimester, he had introduced her to his mother, who didn’t like her at all and had voiced her concerns to him.

In this moment, mama’s voice re-echoed in his head and her message cut through his heart. He had to make a choice, and this time it didn’t matter whether she called his mother or not. He figured if he was going to be a happy man, she wasn’t part of that equation and he had to get her out of his life. And so after their final year at college, he asked her for some time off. And they both agreed to that. She eventually got a job within the same town he lived and worked there for about a year and later got herself another job based in the UAE, and left the country. With that, the relationship ended officially.

He graduated and got a fine job with a government entity and is an impressive picture of success. His mother is proud of him, and he also met a fine lady whom the mother appreciated. As a good friend of his, am saving for the prettiest dress a girl can wear to a wedding as worthy as theirs.

#BreakingLymyts

Random Thoughts 3

So, ladies actually hold a grudge if a guy asks for their phone number after a brief encounter? I am confused. I don’t see cause for anger, if anything, she ought to walk with her head held high. I mean, this guy just validated how desirable you are. Maybe I am being unrealistic because there are guys who ask for our phone numbers and we roll our eyes thinking; no way in the world am I giving this guy my number. Heck, No!! Especially because he physically does not impress you, or you just simply can’t imagine them in your life (if you have interacted for a reasonable amount of time). It happens. But why get angry? Can’t you just decline and walk away? I always cook up a fine reason should they insist but I simply say no, and catwalk away, because despite that, I am feeling so wanted in that moment. Sshhhh! All I am saying is, if your are a single lady and are very interested in marriage in the future, I don’t see why you would be angry that a stranger wants to keep in touch with you. Am not saying dish out your phone number like free candy, but for crying out loud, save your anger for something more deserving.

We used to have curfew growing up. We were not allowed to interact with boys whatsoever. As if we did not have brothers and male cousins, but you know what I mean. One friend even went so far as believing that just sitting next to a guy alone,would get her pregnant. Hahaha! I still laugh at this every time I remember. It took a very actively engaging lecture to make her see reason because she wanted to date but genuinely believed that the first interaction would give her babies. My sweet friend was so scared and worried for her life. I asked her if her brothers were less of men just because they were related to her, or her dad and also asked her if she had never sat next to a boy in class. She had, all the way up to university and yet still, her belief stood. Call in naivety or whatever you want, but it wasn’t funny anymore for me. But I didn’t blame her for thinking so, I was actually very angry with her family for selling such a big lie to her without a care of where it would take her. They are the same people who were pushing her to get married without even remembering to reprogram that thought that they had planted in her head years back. Well, anyway, after our thorough lecture, she managed to tell her family to back off and let her enjoy her dating life before she commits. We are yet to find a suitor. What’s the point of all the strictness on girls while the boys are let lose? I totally agree with Chimamanda Ngozi’s advice to her friend in her book, or should I say letter, Dear Ijeawele,… Lord help the girl child.

Then when a girl gets pregnant, why is it treated as such a taboo? I mean, that’s why she she lives. I know, I know! She should be married first but hey, that guy who got her pregnant knows that he should marry her first. So why is it her fault if she believed him but he did not keep his end of the bargain? See, she is not careless, she is a victim of deceit. He swore they would be together forever, but he lied. Or maybe he meant it but cannot afford to commit yet; these days formalities are too overrated. And this new craze of forcing the poor guy to immediately introduce the girl, I don’t get.  Why do you corner him like that? Yes, I want him to man up and take responsibility but forcing him to marry me doesn’t mean he will. I have seen many women stuck in unhappy marriages because the man was forced to marry her when he wasn’t ready, but just because she conceived. It’s a good thing she did. I have heard guys say they want her to get pregnant first, because they do not want to end up with a barren woman. Annoying excuse!!!! Anyhow! Am not making excuses for him, on the contrary, I am only siding with the girl here. She deserves better regardless. It is very possible for the baby daddy to organise himself and take care of her better as the child grows, or he may step aside and someone new takes her in. Times have changed. A baby is a blessing regardless of how it comes into this world. And those who ill-treat such a child are evil, mercy on you.

A male friend was talking to me about weight management. In one way or another, he made it clear that my current physical look is somewhat unacceptable but he continued to heap me with praises about what a great body I have. Along the way I got confused. So if my body looks great, why should I be worrying about my weight? I think boys need to learn to be specific about what they like but they should also understand that our bodies are very different from theirs and much as a girl wants to look slim and fit, her body is just different. She may be round and fuller but it doesn’t make her any less beautiful. Should you choose to like her and complement her, please mean it. She will never try to change you, neither should you. I just think we should inspire healthy habits in each other as opposed to making the other feel inferior or inadequate in any way. We are all beautiful.

And finally, I have been wondering for a while now. Is it really possible for a man to love two women at once? Or maybe it is but it cannot be the same. I have been musing over this for a while. Don’t ask. I have seen ladies who keep guys around for different benefits they get from them but I guess I have always assumed a man wants only one thing mainly from a woman. But they may want more. Say, physical with one and another challenges him on the intellectual front and so he keeps her around. He respects her and treats her right but this is where I get confused. How does he choose? He will seemingly treat the other one right as well. How do they do it? I better stop here before I voice so much more and look very awkward. Haha. Insecurities!

Back to serious business. #BreakingLymyts

Clarity Limbo

Yesterday was Friday, but not just any Friday. It was Momentum Friday. The first of its kind here in Kampala. If not, it was my first and a first for all of us who attended. Two of those who attended were my two special people; my roommate and our best friend. We had a great time learning from the amazing speaker and organiser of the event, Coach Phill and an even greater time breaking wooden boards. The boards represented all of the things we wanted to break through which were getting in the way of where we wanted to go, and what we wanted to be or what we wanted to achieve. It was a pretty surreal moment for me. I stood there and stared at that board, all my fear coming to life. I have an amazing relationship with Coach. He has seen me from completely clueless, through many learning moments, mistakes, failures and a number of achievements; small and big, minimal and major. And he has always been of great help, at least whenever I reached out to him. This time was no different, except that instead of a one on one over a cup of tea, I shared the moment with others and saw that am not the only one struggling with something. Sometimes we forget that there are others out there and it sucks us into a place where self pity dwells, and when self pity takes over your being, all you do is think of how unfair the world has been to you and how everyone and everything other than yourself is to blame for your situation, instead of thinking about how you got there in the first place and how to get out of the situation. And that is what I call Clarity Limbo.

Limbo, according to the Google dictionary means

an uncertain period of awaiting a decision or resolution; an intermediate state or condition.

In the Catholic faith it means,

the supposed abode of the souls of unbaptised infants; and of the just who died before Christ’s coming.”

Its neither Heaven nor hell but a place in-between.

The synonyms include oblivion, void, non-existence, and for the first definition; unfinished, incomplete.

Does this paint for you the picture as clearly as it does for me? Okay! Imagine living in an imcomplete house. Unfinished in many ways; maybe the windows are not fixed, there is no running water in the taps, or even no electricity. Maybe you have the electricity but there are no sockets into which to plug your appliances. Or maybe the house was complete when you started to live in it but over time things have been breaking one after another and you have been putting off the fixtures for later and now nothing seems to be working when you really want it to. The sink is all clogged with dirt and overflowing with dirty water, electrical appliances shock you now and again when you put them to use, you cannot find a thing easily around the house. You must first unpile case after box after another pile of clutter. Your loved one is constantly nagging you about this and that which you ought to have taken care of but you couldn’t. They should understand you’re trying your best. Right?  The kids also seem to be in trouble constantly, performing poorly at school or fighting each other; why won’t they stop? Do you feel the frustration? The anger? The urge to wave a magic wand and voi la! Its all clear, things are in place, everything is working and you’re a happy soul?

We all go through some stuff, stuff thats unfair to us and very undeserving. We trust and get betrayed. We give our all and get sidetracked. We really do everything we can but still lose. We have the best of intentions but we are misunderstood or still don’t make it. Don’t you wonder why? I have been wondering why for over six months. I couldn’t get why someone like me could be subjected to this kind of life. Everybody out there is supposed to understand what am going through and be of assistance. But guess what? That’s not how winners win. I learnt that yesterday. I learnt that if you are not clear about where you want to go, you will never arrive. I learnt that information without execution is poverty.

Its either your good at one thing or you will become only average at many things. I have been average and I see so many who are. Loved ones and friends, relatives and strangers. All looking to make a difference but spreading themselves out too thin. And achieving almost nothing at the end of the day. They too have the best of intentions, but now I know that like me, they haven’t been precisely clear about what they want to do in life which will give them most of the achievement they seek. I am now going to share what I learnt about the power of Clarity and how to get out of limbo. Mostly the action points I am taking on myself starting this first day of April. Here goes;

You can either be a master at one thing, or be average at many things

The world is too big and we are all equally ambitious, we want to conquer it all or at least die trying. History has proven that you cannot be remembered for doing so much. But you will be remembered for doing one thing too well. One of my favourites is Mother Theresa. This woman didn’t have much but she gave her all to those who are far lesser than herself. She didn’t flinch or think she is too good for it, neither did she choose a  high profile cause. She simply picked the ones she thought were forgotten and there dedicated her all to look after them. So many quotes and life lessons are attributed to her and her legacy will live on forever. And it’s not because she did so much, she just did one thing to the best of her ability. So, what is that one thing that if you did with all you have, would change everything?

The books you read and the people you hang out with will determine where you go in life.

This is so true. Being a reader and an avid one at that, there people you meet and cannot have a conversation with because their knowledge is limited. Have you ever disagreed with someone on a subject you are well versed with and while you try to argue your point out, you realise it is pointless trying to explain it to them because they just won’t get it? That is what happens if you do not invest in books. You miss out on so much. Like I shared in my earlier post My obsessions: Reading, you will be richly endowed with a vast knowledge about so many topics that you can easily fit in any group. So how far do you wanna go in life and which kinds of people do you want to rub shoulders with? You got it! Its all a book away. And that said, I recommend that you read ‘How to Win Friends and Influence people by Dale Carnergie.

The people you hang out with, hhmmm! This is a hard paper because we cannot control who we love and who we’re born with and it is even harder to let people go. But you do not have to, all you have to do is to reduce the time you spend with those who do not challenge you to be better, Coach advised. Surround yourself with people who speak to you honestly even if it may break your heart or wound your ego. It is better to deal with the unpleasant truths than foolishly bounce around with comforting lies. Many don’t want this and will call you names and hate you for being straight forward but do yourself and the ones you care about a favor and always be truthful and constructively so. Be the reason someone is doing better in life and in turn, the same will be done for you.

The quality of your emotions determines the quality of your life

Coach Phill emphasised this. He said that many a time we have the best plans to achieve our goals but we fall short because we have attached very little emotion to achieving the said goal. So how much, or should I say, how badly do you want to succeed at what you have set out to do? How serious are you about getting it? He said that the stronger the feelings attached, what we also call passion, the better your chances to succeed. But should you fall short on this, anything will easily sidetrack you. You will have left room for the naysayers, and they will get to your core simply because you are not strongly rooted for your cause. Therefore, as you visualise and write down your goal, ask yourself how much you want to achieve it and don’t start until you are ready to push through the odds till you achieve it. You will find yourself walking alone, but you must carry on. All those you need to support you will vanish but you must keep going, you will even feel like you are wasting time and resources but again you gotta push on because you won’t know for sure until you get there.

When there is commitment, God shows up

There was a slide that he shared with us and it said;

Perhaps  the world hasn’t given you what you want because based on your distractions, its unsure what you want.

How true this is.  Even God works this way. If you are constantly complaining and not asking for what you really want, He will never know how to reward you. The movie called ‘The Secret’ best illustrates this. You should watch it.

And with that, go on and find clarity with where you want your life to go and take action. Read the right books, interact with the right people and break all the limits.

Smile

For the past three days, I have woken up with Kirk Franklin’s song, Smile, on my mind. It’s like the cassette player in my subconscious mind is stuck on replay. Henewe, I love the song, so much that I could sing it all day and it will be relevant for every moment it echoes in my mind. My favorite lines are what make up the chorus. They are:

(I’ll be honest with you)
I almost gave up, but a power that I can’t explain,
fell from heaven like a shower now.

(When I think how much better I’m gonna be when this is over)
I smile, even though I hurt see I smile,
I know God is working so I smile,
Even though I’ve been here for a while (what you do?)
I smile, smile..
it’s so hard to look up when you’ve been down.
Sure would hate to see you give up now
You look so much better when you smile, so smile.

Kirk dedicates the song to recession, depression and unemployment. I wanna spread the dedication further. Hold up!

Ever feel like all hope is gone? Or like you just made the worst decision of your life? We all have that moment. For some, it comes from dealing with a whole lot of low self esteem, so they basically feel hopelessly helpless nearly all the time. They feel they cannot amount to anything good at all times, they constantly seek approval and, therefore, lack initiative. So there has to be someone telling them what to do all the time, always checking their work even if they are heavenly gifted. You cannot compliment such a person and they accept it, they will think it is flattery. Instead of a ‘Thank You’, they will ask for your affirmation with a word or phrase like “Really?’ or ‘Do you seriously mean that?’ If you are one of these people, smile. It is okay now. Believe me now, you are the best version of you and there is no one else like you. You are very capable just like those you think are better than you and you do not need anyone else’s approval to be or do anything. If you feel like trying out something new, go ahead.

Everyone is self-conscious, but not as bad as the one described above. You could be conscious about your body, your skin, your  background, and even worse, a mistake you have made in the past; recent and far back. Some of these things haunt us far longer than they should. We are only human and I have come to learn that these mistakes are what make us human. No one was created to be perfect. Even Adam wasn’t perfect and God knew it, that is why he warned him about eating the forbidden fruit. And again, when he made the mistake and tried to hide from God, he was assured of life despite that grave mistake. Imagine disobeying God himself! How do you think Adam felt, hhmm? Today we indirectly disobey God. We disobey our fellow human beings because we forget their Godliness on earth, if we were living in a time like Adam’s, how would you react to mistakes you make? So c’mon, smile. It will all be okay, life goes on. Dust if off and learn the lessons, but don’t dwell on the bad moments. Move on.

For other people, the smile has faded because of a loss they suffered. This is one of the hardest to overcome. I have been there myself and God knows I was so depressed I never thought I would ever come out of it. But the He knows us better, He is our all powerful, all knowing Father. He created life as we know it, and he designed it that nothing lives forever away from Him. So am much as we receive what we love, we ought to also know that sooner or later, we will have to let it go. Everything and everyone goes back to him for life eternal. And while your thinking that you do not want to lose anyone or anything, others don’t want to lose you too. And do you know what? You don’t have to die for them to lose you, you just have to focus on the wrong thing or person or dwell too much on what’s gone and you will be lost to those you have today and now. Unfortunately, you lose them too in the process. So despite the loss, be grateful that you are still alive and well to receive more blessings and entrust what you lost in the hands of the Almighty God. He always gives back a hundred fold. Smile!

It could be that what you have feels insufficient or is half baked or you have been handicapped along the way. A lot of anger and frustration could arise from this. You may feel cornered and discriminated against, and feel it is very unfair to be subjected to whatever it is or even worse to be permanently scarred. But it doesn’t mean life comes to an end. As long as you are still alive, there is hope, don’t give up yet. It’s just one of those situations where the journey to your goal has a few bumps that you didn’t expect or hadn’t planned for, even if they have come up because of you. Change your strategy or your approach but don’t give up. Smile anyway and carry on.

Lastly, most of the time things get tough or hopeless for us because we didn’t have a sense of direction in the first place. There is a saying that “if you don’t know where you’re going, you will end up somewhere else. And it is very true that if you don’t know what to do with yourself, i.e. you have no defined goal or plan for your life, you will almost always spend your time building other people’s dreams. And in case you have not yet realised, it is very frustrating to constantly be chasing after dreams that are not yours. Why? Because you are not in control. The other person will always be on your back, pushing and nagging you to act like them, to do things the way they want them done as opposed to doing it in the most creative way that you know. Many of us are in this position considering we are employees, are still controlled by our parents and guardians directly or indirectly or we simply don’t have the courage to chase after our dreams. But again, just smile and take a deep breath, all hope is not lost. You can still pick yourself up and do things differently.

Many times we are a book away from smiling our biggest smiles. Or just a new kind of friend away, but we must let go of the usual ones who do not add value to our lives. And other times we are just a bad habit away from the good stuff. You have to figure out which habits and friends are holding you back, then change them or adjust accordingly and pick up new ones. But through it all, you have to know;

it’s so hard to look up when you’ve been down.

And;

Even though you’ve been there for a while (what you do?)
Smile, smile..

That said, this song is dedicated to y’all who have lost someone important to you, who have been unfairly hurt and robbed of sleep for nights on end, and those who feel like you are inadequate in any way. Take it from me; You are Enough. You are beautiful. You are loved. And you are going to make it.

#BreakingLymyts

 

My obsessions: Reading

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.”
―Charles William Eliot

If you know me, you also know that a book and I are inseparable. There is not a day that I don’t have a book on me, be it a hard copy, ebook and of late; it’s almost always an audio book. But I don’t just have it on me, I read at least three pages of a book every single day and/or listen to a chapter. There is just about no excuse to go a day without reading or being read to. Anywhere, anytime. It has become so convenient that I am even more in love with my obsession, and I accepted to write 1,500 words about this God-given habit of mine.

In his book ‘A Dance with Dragons’, George R.R. Martin wrote that;

A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.”

I totally relate to this quote. Totally and also, like my mother says. See, I have learnt a lot about many things and places and people through reading. I know a word or two in various languages like Spanish, Italian, French and several others. Most of these words and phrases, I got from a book. I know about different cultures from around the world and meanings of different customs and practices. For example, did you know that in China, the color White is the official color of clothes in a funeral ceremony? Or that in Italy, your level of success is measured by the quality of the clothes you wear? I love the French, don’t get me started on them because I may never stop. In travel, my dream destination is Venice, Italy because a book so satisfactorily described the place and I could feel every single part of the city like I were there. Just know that I have toured it many times in my dreams, waiting to visit the place physically and compare. This kind of diversity you can only get from books, because you may never be able to travel the whole world in one lifetime.

I have ready so many books and yet I feel like I haven’t even started yet. There is a great wealth of books out there waiting for me. I buy a book every year, and thanks to technology, eBooks are piling up and I can’t wait to read every single last one of them. I am currently reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie ‘s Dear Ijeawele, or A feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions. Brilliant piece.  Which takes me back to one of the very first books I ever read. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë.

It is the one and only book which I have read from its ladybird version to the full edition. Each edition in between I somehow managed to find and read, and the most fascinating was the growth in detail. From about 16 words in the whole book to the full, approximately, 528 pages edition. It was my favorite in the Literature class during my A’level. I could write an exam on this book and pass it with flying colors right now, ten years after high school. I loved it that much. There are several others I read and shared with my friends all through my school years. Some I wanna go back and re-read for what they represent and others for the love of a rematch, especially the ones we studied in school, because at the time, I read them to pass and have come to appreciate the authors and their message and also the history contained there in. Authors like Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Wole Soyinka, Ousmane Sembene in particular ‘God’s Bits of Wood, and Shakespeare to mention but a few.

At some point I have read books that were totally out of my league. One such book, which I don’t even know where it came from or disappeared to was ‘How to Handle a Difficult Man‘. Do not ask me anything about it. It is the only book I have read but have zero recollection on. Why did I even pick it up? I guess curiosity got the better of me, and for such a juicy title and so many complicated boys in my class and circles, Hahaha, I don’t blame me. A reader is always curious, and C.S Lewis agreed with me when he said;

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me”.

If you’re an ardent reader, you very definitely agree.

Some of the craziest book moments I remember were back in school, both primary and high school. One time in primary seven during mid term exams, I was so bored reading class notes. So I decided to pull out my Mills & Boon novel and placed it in my class book for a disguise. What I didn’t count on was the supervising teacher’s clever tricks, especially because he knew my ‘bad habit’ like they called it back in the day. The teachers strongly believed it was a time wasting habit, and I still wonder how. Henewe, he snuck up behind me and lifted me with one hand. Drama ensued, but I wasn’t the only one. We were about four girls, cocooned together doing what we loved  most. He confiscated our books (I never saw mine ever again) and let us go after a good beating. Hahaha! I will never forget that moment. The other most significant moment is when I got possession of the thickest book I have ever read. Twelve chapters spread over 800+ pages. The teacher on duty got wind of it and started hunting for my precious book. That day we had to go to church in the evening as was custom at the school. I was tipped off about the ongoing hunt and I carried the book with me, safely hidden under my school sweater, with me clinging to a number of friends to remain invisible. Thank God I was pretty short and skinny. I made it out and back without getting caught, though he nearly did while we prayed in church. You know when you want to participate in praise and worship and must therefore place whatever you’re holding down and clap away. Another tip brought me back to reality. God bless my good friends.

I dont know if I have a favourite book but I have read quite a number of very fascinating and life transforming books. One I am going to share about in the next paragraph, the other I could say is Awaken the Giant Within by Anthony Robbins. And of course along with it, a number of Ugandan authored books that will leave you totally reformed. I could list a few here:
Daniel Choudry P‘s books will fire you up. They include Get your Dream Job in 48 Hours and Become a Sales Superstar and Dominate your Market.

Samuel Bakutana penned these three favorites of mine among others; You Will Manage, Fire Won’t Burn You and Fresh Apples for Single People, etc

Lawrence Namale‘s Turn your Setbacks into Major Comebacks is one to read.

– Other local authors whose works I have read are Doreen Baingana: Tropical Fish, James Abola‘s books concerning money matters and family, etc. It is one of my goals to read more Ugandan authored books.

My most re-read book is a short story called “Who Moved my cheese” by Dr. John Spencer. It came to me at a time when I was at crossroads in my life. Career-wise, and in my personal life. I was still pursuing my Bachelors degree course and it was given to us as a school assignment. We had to write a fourteen day journal reflecting on the book. That exercise not only helped me figure out the next step, but it also kick-started my writing career. I made sure to tell the lecturer about what am doing now, thanks to him. I have shared it with as many people as I have shared with about life and having dreams and goals, and will continue to share it. I will re-read it anytime because there is always something new to learn, a new angle to view current situations, et cetera.

Favourite category at the moment is personal development. I was introduced to this industry by Coach Phill Kambe of Intelligent Performance International. At the time, all I knew were adventure and romance novels. I have enjoyed reading authors like Sydney Sheldon, Stephen King, Daniel Steel, Barbara Taylor Bradford, James Patterson, the Nancy Drew series and so many more. A few Kenyan, Nigerian and other African authors have made it to the list like Ken Monyoncho, David Waweru, Anthony Gitonga and of course the literally authors like Ngugi was Thiong’o, et al as mentioned earlier in this text. There is so much to share on reading, that I am honestly slowing down to catch my breath at this point.

Reading goals are quite a list. But mainly it is to read more and more. More books by Ugandan authors, African authors and a lot more on subjects like leadership and personal development at large. I have managed to focus my reading as opposed to randomly picking books like I used to. Adventure and detectives are still absolute favorites, personal development because it enables me to help others. I wanna read more books by women, especially trend setters in leadership, entrepreneurship and family. I have read the least on family, by the way. Only read a title How to Raise Great Kids half way. So it’s another major area to look into. I wanna pick up rare titles and just read. One best place to get such is a Facebook page a friend living in the United States added me to called BookAShelf. Its a whole new world on that page, I have seen books I would never have thought of picking up and the rarest subjects any one could read about as well. I cannot wait to explore more of what is shared there. Another goal is to join more reading clubs or rather to find a very good one with dedicated members and stick with it. That sounds like one to create as opposed to finding. New goals every other minute. We carry on.

The wildest dream I have that is related to books is travelling the world collecting autographs. I visited Kenya in 2015 and met with David Waweru, whom I asked to autograph my copy of his book, Champion, one of the best books I have read. I cannot wait to read more from him. I wanna start here at home. Support my brothers and sisters and collect their autographs and the rest of the world will follow. Its a fascinating idea I cannot wait to execute.

Dr Seuss, in I can Read with my Eyes shut said that;

The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

Now how is that for motivation if you are still slow on this amazing habit called READING? Go on, pick up a book and don’t close it until you have read it to the very last paragraph.

#BreakingLymyts