Steps to telling a great story
Andrew Stanton is the Pixar writer and director behind both Toy Story and WALL-E
Andrew Stanton is the Pixar writer and director behind both Toy Story and WALL-E
HOW TO GET A PAY RISE (7 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF)
With several thousand articles on pay rise, I am guessing you might be asking yourself what I have to offer that others haven’t said. I guess the only thing I have to offer in a real sense of it , is experience of trying this out. In terms of value of this experience, I will let you be the judge of its value.
As some people that know me can testify, I am a big believer in experiential learning. In the past I had read way too many “personal narratives” of the way to success and I realised that while there are some similarities, there are many ways to the same goal. I am also a believer that people should not talk about something they either haven’t experienced in their lives as if they have or dish out directed advice (i.e if you do this, you will get this )
This brings me to the topic at hand, about 2 years back I decided to undertake a bit of a social/work place experiment on what I felt to be a very tricky issue. As you have probably guessed from the name of this, I decided to try to get a pay raise. After all, what did I have to lose?
Now before I continue I would like to quickly put a disclaimer out. I am in no way saying that this is a guaranteed way to get a raise however this is what actually worked for me. Also as you will soon be able to tell, I am not a writer nor am I an aspiring one. I am simply someone with a story to tell. I also would never ever advice anyone to experience something in order to know if it was true in all circumstances and to discard written work (some of which is based on good research). That is simply bad advice. My advice here applies mainly to me and my experience in seeking a raise.
Now, let’s go back to where I was. I have chosen the road of writing about the 7 most important questions that guided my “quest” for more money for a few reasons. Firstly, I don’t think you will get much value in me talking specifically or in detail about what I did every day . Secondly, there is a good chance you would get bored and scroll to the end if you are anything like my loving wife (see what I did there J ) so I will keep this short and reader friendly. Thirdly, while this is from experience and at no point from beginning till the end did I refer, read, watch or listen to any other writing, articles, peers, videos or audio advice; I am not so brave or silly to not give this some thought before attempting to proceed.
To cut a long story short, while trying to get a pay rise these are the 7 main questions I asked myself and a brief outline of why.
1) Are you really worth more? (Honestly?)
Let’s be honest here, most people think they are worth more than they really are or worth less that they are. It is very important to use your introspective skills (Introspection is the examination of one’s own conscious thoughts and feelings). Do a personal combined analysis of past achievements, professional accomplishments and development and your present value to the business compare it to similar businesses and similar jobs in those businesses (try to compare apples for apples if you can). It’s important in determining if this might not be the right time to ask for a raise. Your chances are quite slim or I dare say would be based on luck if this isn’t asked first.
2) Can you prove you are worth more?
While it is all well and good that you think, feel or even know something. In today’s world nothing means anything if you cannot “prove” it. Now I did not go creating a super power point presentation of why I was worth more but, a few things like feedback from colleagues (seniors and direct reports), past reviews, attendance history and lateness records would help a lot. What would help even more is if there is something to compare it to. Now, I must state at this point that I am in no way talking about showing how much better you are than specific colleagues as that would be very unprofessional. If you must compare, make sure it is generic data, such as average statistics for that department (present and future).Make sure it is relevant also.
3) Exactly how much more do you want?
Everyone would like a million pound pay rise. Yet there are very few occupations in the world where you could actually be asking for that and it would be realistic. There is no point asking for something and not knowing exactly how much more you want. It is usually best to keep it in percentages (10%, 15%, 20%) etc. Also ask yourself, Is it feasible or unrealistic for the company? This for me tied directly with the questions of worth. For every business there is an expected return on every pound or dollar spent. You need to know if you can deliver this back. It’s called human resources for a reason (hopefully that doesn’t sound too harsh). Do not be un-aware of it. I was taken more seriously because I had an exact figure I wanted and why I wanted it.
4) Who should you be speaking to about more money?
Now this one is something I honestly did not know mattered at all. I always felt that if you wanted a pay rise you should simply speak to your manager. However, 8 out of 10 times, this is probably correct but in my case it really wasn’t. Unfortunately sometimes your boss through no fault of theirs is more a figure head than anything else. Find out who determines the acceptance of your case and build the earlier steps again for that person also. You would still need to speak to your manager even if they aren’t the ones that determine if it is accepted or not but there is a good chance it could be more to inform them than anything else. It could be your bosses boss or even HR that determines this (though extremely rare for the latter)
5) What is the overall perception of you?
Now let me start by saying that there is a real difference between your real self (who you are) and your ideal self (who you aspire to be). Some people have managed to become who they aspire to be but for most of us, this is not the case. It is also important to note that just as a perceived grievance should be treated as a real one. It does not matter if who people think you are, is not really who you are. People would always treat you based on who they think you are. I guess a simple explanation is would you allow a perceived (not a convicted) serial killer into your home? Does it really matter that there is no proof to support your belief? Try to find out (using a soft approach) about who people really see you at work. You might need to fix an image problem before proceeding. Do not under estimate the power of the “right impression or perception”. Are you seen as a model professional, lazy, difficult, a work complainer or untalented?
6) Are you ready to negotiate?
Let’s start with a quick reality check. You are in an office that only stays afloat and profitable by their ability to mitigate risk, manage costs and expenditure effectively and negotiate its existence amongst competitors and new entrants and now you are asking for more money to do the exact same job. You must be prepared to have a conversation or a few about your request. Do not expect to win or get what you wanted just because you asked. You are attempting to navigate the ever tricky waves of price versus value. You must treat this as such. Be prepared and in my case it ws very beneficial to ask for slightly more than what I would have been okay with.
7) Are you prepared to fail and try again?
No thanks is a very real possibility. Think of this like the first time you met a person you were interested in. Now unless, you think you are God’s gift to the dating world or have an over blown ego, there is a chance you knew you could get shut down. There is also a chance you knew you would have to reattempt the exact same thing again. The main difference between this (looking for a raise) and that (dating) is If at first you don’t succeed, make sure you find out why. Dont just say “it’s okay, thanks for looking at my proposal”. If possible get a review date.
Now in my opinion, by combining this 7 things I managed to get almost 50% pay rise in 2 years (two different pay rises).
Be prepared and good luck with yours. Please feel free to let me know if this helped and better still if it worked for you.
Greetings. I want to share a very personal story with you all in the hopes that it will inspire you as much as the experience has for me.
I had just flown back to New York from England this past December, when I made a knee jerk decision to road trip it down to Florida to spend the holidays with my family. This would be the first time in God knows how many years that we would actually BE together FOR the holidays. I also really needed to be around my family as I was not in a good place, emotionally, and hadn’t been for quite some time. Now, those who know me, know me to be a very upbeat and fun person to be around, but I had begun to lose all of those qualities in what felt like record speed. Life was, kicking my ass so fierce and so fast, with one blow after another, than no sooner would I manage to pick myself up, I’d find myself right back down again. So much, (forgive me) S*** was happening in every aspect of my life that not only was I feeling it, I could almost SEE the “sedimentary” layers of it all around me as I was sinking deeper and deeper. This was, dare I say, The Perfect “Sh**” Storm and it showed no signs of letting up. I was PRAYING for a miracle, kids. Divine intervention. ANYTHING from anyWHERE or ONE to somehow show me that this storm WAS going to pass, and pass sooner than later.
January 1, 2015. I chose this symbolic 1st sunrise of the New Year to take a walk to the beach and have a word with God. I’m a huge believer in signs, having had so many wonderful experience with them over the years and on this morning, I DESPERATELY needed one. I was nearly broken, yet my Spirit was still having onto what was now the very tail and frayed bits of that “Hope Rope.” ( Oooh. Hope Rope.That’s a keeper. I like that one. Have I just coined that phrase? Sadly, I googled it and that would be a NOPE on the HOPE rope. Oh well. I’m still gonna use it. )
Anyway……I made my journey to the beach early that morning and I asked God. No wait. I didn’t ask. I PLEADED & INSISTED that He/She/It present a sign to me.TODAY. If anyone knew my pain and struggle, They did, and They knew what it was doing to me and had to know just how important this day was for me. Only a few days before, I drove to that very beach and sat it my car, feeling completely broken,lost,alone. All of the above and so much so, that I actually called a helpline…..and was put on hold. No BS. I can honestly say that at that moment of being put on hold, I shook my head and laughed. It was as if the Universe had given me that Cher slap in the movie, “Moonstruck”, telling me to “SNAP OUT OF IT!”
And so back to the morning of January 1. This was crunch time. I wanted a sign and I was DETERMINED. Now you would think that in my desperation, I would’ve taken anything that was possibly offered to me and be grateful , wouldn’t you? Not the case at all. I was very specific about my intentions. Like I said, it was crunch time and I knew exactly what I wanted as a sign.
No, I didn’t ask for buried treasures, although now that I think about it, I totally stopped the ball on that one. Damn!!! I asked for a shark’s tooth. That was what I wanted. I had spent an absolutely magical day with my Mom on the beach years ago and while we were walking, I had the sudden urge to say out loud, “I’m gonna find a shark’s tooth in the next 5 minutes!” Haven’t a clue why I said it and still don;t, but all that I know is that I found not one but 2 in those five minutes! And I vividly remember some guy walking by who said, “Looking for shark’s teeth? Good luck!” He about fell over when I showed him my finds!
I’ve been to many beaches since that day and was always hoping to find another and never did. Today HAD to be the day and I made my order quite clear. I wanted a tooth and not just any tooth. This particular one had to be bigger than the tow I already had. The color gray popped into my mind for whatever reason, so I insisted it had to have gray in it, as well. I also said ,(and by now, I was on a roll) that it had to be presented to me in such a way that I’d absolutely have no doubt from Whom/What it came from. I wanted a grand reveal. I wasn’t going to walk over it or pass it by. It was going to be there just as I had asked.
And so I set forth to find this tooth, talking to myself and God while sifting through shells, plants, as well as lazy people’s plastic garbage (WTF, peeps???!!! There are trash bins EVERYWHERE! Shame on you.), affirming to myself that I was going to find what I came here for. The more I looked, the more I felt in my heart of hearts that I WAS going to find it. I’m kept saying that I wasn’t leaving this beach until i did. I even went so far as to do my best DeNiro imitation from Cape Fear, saying, “Come out , come out, wherever you are.” No BS. I said it. Out Loud.
After 1/2 or so of crawling around on my now sand/shell/plastic-encrusted hands and knees in my search for that sign from above, I tool a bit of a break to realign my back and to feed the seabirds some popcorn I had brought for them. It was while I was feeding the birds that I made another declaration to God and I said, “You see me feeding these birds. When I am finished feeding them, You are going to show me what I came here for.” ( Again, No BS, folks. I am not embellishing this story one bit.)
The birds were fed. The food was gone. I then took about 6 or so random steps in the direction of the shoreline, and right there in front of me, with a natural rock seawall as a most fitting backdrop;surrounded by only freshly washed sand for at least a 2 yard radius (and this was a shelly/plant and plastic covered area of the beach) was a single shark’s tooth sticking out of the sand like a single birthday candle on a cake. It was and OMG moment and OH MY GOD was right. It was EXACTLY as I asked it to be. Bigger. Bit of gray. Presented in a grand manner and it really did take my breath away. I gasped. I laughed. I cried. All of the above.
I pulled that tooth (pun intended) out of the sand and held it up high and just kept saying , “Thank you. Thank you, GOD. Thank you so much, over and over for only They know how many times. I kissed the tooth and held it to my heart. I’m getting emotional at this moment just thinking it about again.
I could end the story right there, but just like those TV infomercials that say, “But Wait! There’s More!” And there really is more.
I had taken a photo of the tooth to send to a friend and wanted to show its size, so I grabbed something close by (in this case, it was quarter) and took the photo. It was only when I actually really looked at the photo, as I was making it my screensaver, that I saw something else that completely blew me away. Hand to heart, folks, this was a random placement of the quarter for size comparison only.
Check out the photo. See the tooth? pretty cool, eh? Now check out the quarter and see what it says…….
( I can resend the photo if you don’t already have it )
In God We Trust. And believe me, I DO.
That morning was a life saver and a game changer. It has changed everything for me and it has changed ME.
Ask and it will be given to you. Seek and you will find it. Knock and it will be opened to you.
How strange that even the first letter of each of those phrases spell out A-S-K.
I asked. I sought. I found. I put every ounce of my being into my intentions and, by George (again pun intended to the man on the quarter, I GOD IT !
I wear my tooth proudly and close to my heart, as a reminder of a day that needs no reminding from me. I was there and it was one of the best days through the messed days……Again, I so God It and I wish these kind of moments for each and every one of you.
Skinny. Nerd. Wimp. You name an insult, I’ve probobly been called it. It doesn’t help your confidence when you have every reason to not be. But, as is in every man, the allure of love found me. So here I was, in fourth period math, thinking of (let’s call her) grace. She wasn’t the prettiest of women, but I didn’t care . We had been freinds for some time, she was smart, funny, and, as Matt ruff once wrote, “when you see through love’s eyes, anyone can be perfect.” and so, there I was, daydreaming of spending the rest of my life with her. But there’s another thing wrong wih me: I have social anxiety. I wake up in the morning super pumped, and I walk up to her ready to ask her to date me, and then I run away like a coward. So one day I told myself “no more” and I decided that “hey, in fith grade, I had a girlfriend for a week, how much harder can it be?” And I was right. And I walked straight up to her, and I asked her the question. I can’t quite remember what i said, because right after I went into a frenzy of excitement, and from then on, I never doubted myself again. So every morning, take a look in the mirror, and say “hey, i am a human being. I know what I want, and the only person out there who can get me what I want is me, so I’m GOING, to live this day, as best as I can” once even a sliver of confidence finds its way into your head, anything is possible.
MY NEW OLD STORY by Dami O-Aliu (Second song attempt)
As I watched my lady sleep
I felt her pulse race
My heart skipped a bit
It’s an age old story
like beauty and the beast
An age old song
But never told like mine
No one can feel this
Give me your hand
I’ll give you my world
Show you everything
Stronger than the perfect storm
We’ll stand together
Burning through it all
Hotter than summer
Made to never weather
Built to last forever
Thoughts running everywhere
Much like my hands all over your body
You have never known passion like what I ve got now
Teach you new things that would shock even me
From top to bottom
Feel every nerve
Even ones you dint know you had
Get all excited
Its a trusted hand
Give me your hand
I’ll give you my world
Show you everything
Stronger than the perfect storm
We’ll stand together
Burning through it all
Hotter than summer
Made to never weather
Built to last forever
Let me get your head right
Get things looking tight
Give you a new reason to brag
Show you what passion really means
Get you all excited
Seeing old things new
Feeling all things gone
Trust this kid
Trust this old new hand
Sing you my New Old story
Give me your hand
I’ll give you my world
Show you everything
Stronger than the perfect storm
We’ll stand together
Burning through it all
Hotter than summer
Made to never weather
Built to last forever
Oh baby, let me sing you my New Old story
NB: If you want to use the lyrics or sing the song. Feel free to leave a comment asking to.
Daddy’s dark smile (song on living a lie, written at the request of Samuel Ishie)
Light of the world
I look in my daughters’ eye
Crying to daddy wondering if she will be alright
My little light
Today is here again
I cant hold this pain
Feels like I am in chains
If only you looked close you would see it in
Daddy’s dark smile
Daddy’s dark mind
Where daddy stays a while
Where daddy cries a mile
Yet it’s hidden in
Daddy’s dark smile
Another day just like the day before
Need to be brave
Can’t let it make me a slave
I feel another closing door
Want to let it go
Can’t take it any more
I lay on the floor
Hoping maybe today I won’t feel so sore
I can’t think of me
My baby needs me
Cant let her see my weakness
Only let her see her uniqueness
Daddy must keep smiling
Daddy’s dark smile
Daddy’s dark mind
Where daddy stays a while
Where daddy cries a mile
Yet it’s hidden in
Daddy’s dark smile
Baby come in
Hold daddy’s hand
Daddy will smile for both of us
Till you are ready to smile on your own
All my love I will throw
All my strength I will show
This can’t be the end
Something good, God shall send
All you have to do now is look at
Daddy’s dark smile
Daddy’s dark mind
Where daddy stays a while
Where daddy cries a mile
Yet it’s hidden in
Daddy’s dark smile
NB: Not a true story but written as a challenge. Picture is Sacred Angel of Comfort by Terese Nielsen (Very good artists, check her work out).
This is the prayer I assume Adam (of Adam and Eve in the bible) would have prayed to God after he and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden. It’s just a bit of rhyming for fun.
Dear God almighty
Last night I wore a nightie for the first time in my life
I feel a new pain like a knife to my heart
I want to blame the woman you gave me
But when she first came all i saw was art.
I never thought she would be the one to pull us apart
Ever forgiving king
I cling on hoping that one day you can take away this sting
Its spring now
The suns out today
but there is no sunshine in my day
I miss the days when all was nice and gay
Forgive my wife lord she was a victim and prey
We pray to you lord hoping there is a chance you will turn even for a quick glance
Please change your stance lord
Dont leave us to die by the sword
Helps us thrive once more
Protect us as you once did
Just as a father would for his kid
We were your pride
You never left our side
Yet all we repaid you was shame to your name
Our days are now numbered
When we die maybe we might be remembered
But till that day lord even if you can’t forgive this one
For all you gave and what we have done
Forgive our sons and daughter now and forever more
Restore our generations
Build a new nation
With no more rations or conditions
If you ever loved us then honour our one last request.
That all the nations might look to you and be blessed
With this last request
We bow our heads
And honour the God Head
TO MY FAMILY (THANK YOU FOR BEING MY REASON TO SMILE)
Same day different thoughts
I sit hear remembering the first poem I ever wrote.
Oh those youthful days full of hope,
Full of love
Full of endless zeal
What has happened?
I am a shadow of my former self
Self confidence replaced with self pity
Zeal replaced with despair
It now feels wrong to hope
Feels false to grow
I want the old me back
I am losing myself one day at a time
Help me get it back
Where has my smile gone?
Not the smile of “things could be worse” but that of “the world is my pedestal”.
Is this what growing up brings?
If this is it then I chose to not grow any longer.
I see my end now
When all I saw was my beginning.
I am giving all of me to everything yet still falling short
Caught in my own court room
Looking for a new bloom
My face like a costume
With a view to a future consumed.
I tell myself everyday
It doesn’t have to be this way
Hope never left
Smiles were always here
And when I start to doubt that which I should know
I hear my babies cry and I know
I look in their eyes and I feel
Only a fool cant see
In them I see my future
I see my past
I see my present
In my family I see myself as I once was
In them my heart truly beats for this world.
Can you die of a broken heart?
I guess it’s quite a deep topic. A few days ago I read the paper and saw an article about a woman that was married to her husband for over 70 years. He was her high school sweet heart and until the day he died they were un-separable. He was 93 years old when he died and then a few days later (3 days after) she also passed away. As I read this article the inquisitive part of me came to life and I started to ask so many questions came to mind.
The first one was about their love. I looked at the 2012 statistics for England and wales and it showed
There were 13 divorces an hour in England and Wales in 2012
• Women were granted 65% of all divorces
• 9,703 men and 6,026 women aged over 60 got divorced
• One in seven divorces were granted as a result of adultery
• 719 (less than 1%) divorces were granted because of desertion
• The average age at divorce was 45 for men and 42 for women
• 9% of couples divorcing had both been divorced before
• 48% of couples divorcing had at least one child aged under 16 living with the family
• It is expected that 42% of marriages will end in divorce.
In the USA about 40 to 50 percent of married couples in the United States divorce. The divorce rate for subsequent marriages is even higher.
How did they manage this feat? How did they stay in love for so long? Did they worry about the same things our present generation do? Did they ever fall out of love and needed or worked on falling back into love? What about commitment? We know that love and commitment are not the same thing so how did they manage this? What was their story?
You see, I wondered these things because I was recently married. I loved my wife and we had been blessed with kids but both my wife and I were from broken homes. Both our parents were separated. In my case they were married for over 20 years before the separation. I was curious and afraid because I wondered if it could happen to me. I just wanted to learn from their mistakes if possible and gain from the now deceased couples experience if applicable.
As I researched couples another question came into my mind and this question is the reason for me writing just now. It was a questioned that appealed to the hopeless romantic in me. Did she die because it was her time to go or did she die from a broken heart?
You see the thing is if it was a one off story then I guess it would be more likely she did for any number of reasons besides a broken heart. Now let me ask you a question, Is this the first time you have ever heard or read such a story? Is this the first time you read a story about true love and the second half dying shortly after the first?
According to Dr. Holly S. Andersen, “The answer is yes. A traumatic breakup, an extreme argument or experiencing the death of a loved one can elicit the release of stress hormones that can trigger a heart attack in people prone to them, induce a life-threatening arrhythmia or cause a syndrome that mimics a heart attack in otherwise healthy hearts.”
Another notable quote is from Shauna Springer: “One hallmark of couples who have passed into the ‘soul mate’ phase of their marriage is that they continually bless and inspire others through the way they treat each other and those around them. Another hallmark is the ‘widower’ effect – when two people become one, it is often the case that the death of one is closely followed by the death of the other. This isn’t merely romantic nonsense propagated by Hollywood movie-makers – this actually happens with notable frequency for closely-bonded pairs.”
Source: Shauna Springer, Ph.D. “Soul Mates Do Exist – Just not in the way we usually think…” PsychologyToday.com. 7/28/2012.
I am a big believer of research and in it comes as no great surprise that two people can form a bond so strong that when one dies the other could lose the will to live.
Separate studies involving thousands of couples in Scotland and Israel concluded that the risk of death among widows and widowers surges anywhere from 30 to 50 percent during the first six months after their beloveds pass [source:Dahlstrom]. After that initial period of bereavement, the statistical risk of death diminishes [source:Martikainen and Valkonen]. (See hyperlinks if you chose to read more)
One of the most prominent cases is that of Minnesota couple Clifford and Eva Vevea who were ‘hopelessly in love’ for 65 years of their marriage, died within hours of each other.
No matter what people say to you or tell you it is possible to die from a broken heart but that does not mean that you cannot chose to live. A way to understand or think clearly is to ask one simple question. What would my other half have wanted from me? If they truly loved you (and I guess they probably did) then the answer would inevitably be that they wanted you to live. Another thing to bear in mind is that most studies looked at people aged over 50 years old so it is not clear if this applies to younger people. Now I have to take a stance at this point and be clear on the fact that I am not saying that it doesn’t apply to younger people. I m just saying that there aren’t enough studies to conclude that it does.
My post has to do with true love. Not someone leaving you, not the normal day to day part of dating but the real deal. The type people sometimes spend their entire life looking for.
I am writing this just in-case there is anyone out there that has just lost someone they loved, their soul-mate. I want you to know that what you feel is true, it real and it is possible to still live for those you have left. I do not write this because of experience but because in some cases just knowing that you are not insane helps. Cry out to the people around you because you can die of a broken heart.
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS POST.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE “A GOOD PERSON” OR A “BAD PERSON”? THE PROBLEM WITH MORALITY.
“Life is neither good or evil, but only a place for good and evil”.
What is Morality? Why does this topic even matter? What’s so special about having a moral reference point?
Morality is from the Latin moralitas which means “manner, character, proper behavior”. It is the differentiation of intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are “good” (or right) and those that are “bad” (or wrong).
I believe the issue of morality is very vital as man in general is born blank (i.e not racist, immoral and no idea of what good and bad consists of) and can be socialised into violence or a number of ideas. This obviously also raises questions on the right way to raise a child, the right process for rehabilitation for the criminally convicted and so many other questions.
The problem with the question is in the definition. Who or what determines what is good or bad? Who says what is acceptable and what is not?
It is no secret that morals can vary from person to person and culture to culture however many are practically universal, as they result from basic human emotions.
A few years ago I came across this problem in a public forum between Christians and Atheists. The topic that was raised was not necessarily one on morality but one on a divine deity and its responsibility towards the starving folks from third world countries.
Though my topic has nothing to do with my previous discussion, I feel it might be necessary to repost it for the sake of clarity.
The post read as follows:
“I have read a number of views here from both Atheists and Believers especially with regards to starving children in Africa.
First of all let me start by saying that I am African, born, bred and raised in Africa. When we speak about Africa and its problems you must understand that God has nothing to do with it. Africa is one of the richest places on earth. Our people believe that we did not develop so many things in the past because there was no need for it. as necessity is the mother of all inventions. Africa has an abundance of food and in cases where there isn’t there is the land which is rich and fertile, we have good weather so there is a lack of need for massive structures and prior to colonialism there was respect for animal life. We did not kill animals except for when it was needed. Africa in a lot of ways is the cradle of life for the world.
The problems in Africa are complex but I can assure you they were not caused by God. They were started by colonialism, extended by slave trade and have continued by racial discrimination. Every single one of these is caused by men such as myself. When Barack Obama became president it was a big deal that a black man was elected. This feeling was not developed by God it was done by people. African presidents who were taught corruption by colonial masters have for centuries plundered and stolen its resources for their own good and starved their own people.
Africa is in trouble because of people and not because of God. God by nature has given us free will and as such will not deny us of the consequences of our choices. When a king/president rules with terror do the people not suffer?
Look to yourselves and see if you ever learnt anything from the 1st or second world war. Millions of people died. Did God cause this? How about global warming, Did God cause climate shifts?
More important than blame what have you done about it? I can honestly say that in all my years in Africa I have never seen one so called NGO or charity asking for £3 a month to help children ever.
I am happy for the girl that got to go to Disney land but I also know that even in the bible God did not always come down from heaven himself to make a change in the life of his people. He sent someone to deliver them. Look at Moses, Nehemiah, David, Habakuk and Jesus (who walked as a man).
To my fellow Christians be careful not to miss what that really means and my fellow Atheist be careful when speaking about things you really do not understand but have only seen from the media. God has nothing to do with problems in Africa. Africa is damaged by people. To borrow from a saying “Guns dont kill people, people kill people.
When you refuse to feed others when you have enough, you have starved him (not God), When you refuse shelter to a friend, you have made him homeless (not God). God answers prayers through people in a lot of cases so do not say he doesn’t. I have so many testimonies to share but not enough time as I am only passing by.”
In retrospect the post read more like a vent than an educated ramble but it still raised the question of morality. Who determines in your life or in the life of the people around you what is Good and what is Bad? Maybe if we can solve this we can solve the problem of human responsibility and maybe make the world just a little bit better.
Is morality determined by man (as an individual), society (collection of men), emotions or by a divine moral reference point.
Let’s examine the problems with the first one.
Morality defined by man:
“The whole course of human history may depend on a change of heart in one solitary and even humble individual – for it is in the solitary mind and soul of the individual that the battle between good and evil is waged and ultimately won or lost”.
M. Scott Peck
If the definition of what is right and wrong is determined or left to be determined by you or I then what we are essentially saying is that anything outside of myself cannot determine if what I have done is right or wrong.
I guess morality is a philosophical discussion more than it is a scientific one. If morality is defined by a man then ultimately does this mean that if that said man feels that it is morally right to beat a dog till almost death as a teaching then he is right? What does this bring?
In essence what we are really saying here is that if Thomas Smith decided that he wanted to beat his child as a sign of love (maybe in his own way he feels that if he corrects a mistake today it is unlikely to happen again tomorrow). Would you say Thomas Smith is morally a “good person”? After all Thomas Smith is doing this because he feels he is being good to the child.
What if it wasn’t so destructive in nature? What if all Thomas Smith believed was just as he was born without clothes, he feels he is right to walk around without clothes? As man ages so does his preference. A very powerful quote that explains this can be taken from a man called Paul who once persecuted and killed Christians but later became a Christian himself and suffered the same persecution he himself had met out to countless others.
Pauls famously explains the ever changing nature of man in 1st Corinthians 13:11 “ When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.”
Also as important in morality as defined by man is the question of the Will of man. What happens to his Will?
Albert DeSalvo (A serial killer) famously said “It wasn’t as dark and scary as it sounds. I had a lot of fun…killing somebody’s a funny experience.”
The problem of morality as defined by man is even clearer in the case of Peter Sutcliffe where he also famously stated “The women I killed were filth-bastard prostitutes who were littering the streets. I was just cleaning up the place a bit.”
If he defines/determines morality and in his mind he was doing the world a favour; is he morally wrong? How about TV’s most beloved serial killer “Dexter Morgan”? What he morally right as he only killed serial killers?
Morality defined by society:
How about morality as defined by society? In order to even discuss this one must start with culture. In the simplest definition of culture, it is the way of life of the people. Culture is man developed but more importantly collectively agreed. This means that just because Samantha jones likes to run around her neighbourhood naked, it does not make it the culture of that society. It must be done and agreed by the collective to be so. Culture in a lot of ways is similar to language. It is mans distinction from animals or the beasts of the fields. We (Man) have managed to create structure where it ordinarily won’t have been. This has sometimes been done for the survival of the species and other times for sexual satisfaction (not implying that these are the only two reasons).
Regardless of why a culture started, it brings in some really important questions to the table. A good way to explain this is to look at certain societies both past and present. The first that comes to mind is pre abolishment of slave trade. For the most part certain societies in the world (developed societies) believed that it was okay not just to own, rape, force labour but to kill at will as it was their “property”.
This was a society that did not even treat dogs that way at the time but seemed okay to do this with humans. Were the owners evil or was it society that defined it? Clearly it was society as now that the mentality of this has changed (even though racism still strongly exists) it appears that so also has society.
How about the Holocaust? Was that society or man? In modern times there is a society/village in Papua New Guinea that accepts cannibalism as a way of life. Are they “morally right”? After all it isn’t a crime to eat other humans there? Is the argument for morality as defined by society also based on location (we know cannibalism is not legal in the USA or UK)?
Also importantly is the fact that the only thing that is really constant in life is change and just as we all know now, Slave trade is no longer legal. Society has changed its mind on it, same as being gay. This means that society can also change its mind on other aspects. If Society changes its mind on its stance on Paedophilia, does this make it right? Do you see the problem with morality when defined by society? Can we also customize/manipulate society through public propaganda so morality can also be changed (Just as with Slavery and Homosexuality)?
Morality defined by God (Spiritual Deity):
Let’s look at morality as defined by God/Spiritual Deity. The first and most obvious immediate problem with this is “Which God”? There are many extinct polytheistic religions that man never heard about simply because they died out before man invented written language.
In Hinduism alone, there may be as many as 330 million gods. Some religions worship a pantheon; some religions believe that there is a god in each of us or that we are all a part of a god. There are potentially billions of gods if you follow this system.
Even in religions that agree on a singular deity that deity still differs. It seems like the search for the one true God from an educative perspective will take more than a few hundred life times to know the truth and even then I think if viewed by the same rigidity required for scientific hypotheses to be determined a “fact”, mankind will still come up short.
Now lets see if possible to go away even for just a bit from that problem of
“What God first” and take the assumption that there is only one true God. Lets for the sake of conversation say that this is the God of Abraham/Ibrahim (please notice I did not say Christian or Muslim). I use the God of Abraham simply based on the fact that this is the only time that Christians and Muslims agree on deity and they represent the largest religious sect in the world. Every thing after that simply becomes a disagreement. Unlike “morality as defined by man” and “morality as defined by society”, there is some hope here. First of all in order to be a God, God cannot change which means that his stance on good and evil can not be speculative. God is totalitarian (This is found in the definition of being a God), this means that he has a clear distinction on what is classified as good or evil and this combined with our previous point means that the reference point in theory will be eternal. He has no beginning and no end and is seen as the creator of mankind. This means that he is ageless and timeless.
Even with those being major positives it is also difficult to move away from the fact that God seems to exist through a spiritual consciousness (I am also not saying it is impossible that God is physical) but very often when people talk about hearing from God they are very often not speaking physically. This means that it is impossible to avoid the problem of “manipulation”.
I can presently think of 9 examples when this has been a problem
1) Human sacrifices in Buddhist Burma (over 500 bodies found)
2) Members of lndia’s Thuggee sect killing over 20,000 people a year (estimated to have killed over 2 million people) to appease the goddess kali
3) The Mountain Meadows massacre by a group of Mormons and Paiute Indians (120 men, women and children).
4) The Medieval Inquisition is a series of Inquisitions (Roman Catholic Church bodies charged with suppressing heresy) from around 1184 which tortured and killed thousands (true amount uncertain).
5) The witch trial by Puritans that settled in Massachusetts in the 1600s (20 alleged witches were killed and over 150 others imprisoned).
6) Roman Persecution of Christians (Christians were rounded up and killed. Some were torn apart by dogs, others burnt alive as human torches. This lasted over 100 years). The death toll also in its thousands if not 100 thousands.
7) Aztec Human Sacrifice (over 20,000 sacrifices a year). The sun God needed daily sacrifices of blood. This also is estimated to be in its millions.
8) Islamic jihads (holy wars), mandated by the Koran, killed millions over 12 centuries.
9) Thousands of pagans murdered by self proclaimed Christians not including the crusades killing an estimated 1 million plus people.
A few famous quotes on good and evil when decided by a spiritual deity include.
“God did not create evil. Just as darkness is the absence of light, evil is the absence of God.”
“In each of us, two natures are at war – the good and the evil. All our lives the fight goes on between them, and one of them must conquer. But in our own hands lies the power to choose – what we want most to be we are.”
Finally just before I end this introduction to this very controversial topic and give you a chance to share your thoughts. It seems like no matter what route you chose in defining morality or picking a moral reference point. There will always be the issue of manipulation.
Manipulation very often has a negative connotation to it and in fairness there are genuine reasons why this is the case. However, it is performed daily by almost every one of us and every sector. Think of your local McDonalds for just a second. Have you ever gone in and the music is slow paced just like your pricey restaurant? Even the music is designed or put to create an atmosphere of fast food. Lets take another look at the shelves in a shop. Do you think the ready made meals and the drinks are next to each other by chance? Think about your favourite political speech. Do you think it was not tailored or designed to elicit such a reaction from you? Think about a theatrical preview of a new movie. Is it designed to get you to watch it or not to?
Maybe all of this sounds sinister, Lets think about the first time you went after a person you liked (obviously I say this on the assumption you are a well balanced person). When you went on that first date? The clothes you picked or even dressing up for an interview. Were you seeking a particular response?
So can we say knowing fully well that we use it to survive and it is actually a vital requirement for successes in this present age that it is wrong to be manipulative?
They are all attempts to control the variables in our environment to suit a response in which we find favourable. It affects a person’s free will and choice and when people are really good at it we know them as social puppeteers. Prostitutes use this, politicians use this and religious leaders use this.
Or do we excuse ourselves as well that it is okay as long as we determine it to be (morality as defined by man), maybe according to society (morality as defined by society) or maybe as long as my religion says its fine (Morality as defined by Spiritual deity).
No matter which one of the three we (people) chose to live our life by, it is arguably more dangerous to not have a moral reference point so this remains a question that requires an answer. Maybe the answer is in the question, maybe its not. Maybe you know an answer. I sure would love to read your thoughts on it. So please share your thoughts, don’t just read and go.
I spent a long time thinking about what to write here and I felt that it might be better to write from the heart based on exactly how I feel.
I don’t even know where to start in praising God for his favour in my life. It’s like every thing I touch and ruin, he blesses and every time I fail him he forgives.
In the last few weeks it can easily be said that I have learnt to fall and get up. To pray for forgiveness repeat a sin and still pray knowing that God is my every present help and if not for him I won’t be here. I have seen that I need to forget about all I have done and how every sin I commit nails him back to the cross and think about what he already achieved.
Please do not mis-understand this message. I do not claim to be a perfect man in Christ. On the contrary, I claim to be quite the opposite. It with intense humility and pain that I write and acknowledge that just like anyone that might feel that he has squandered his inheritance like the “prodigal son” in the parable of Christ. I too am an unworthy “co-heir” with Christ. My imperfectness still astonishes me. His capacity to forgive and set straight to crooked road is beyond my comprehension.Now I have only but a faint grasp of the song “What manner of man is Jesus”.
I have not failed by lack of desire in that I am truly successful but through lack of action I am but rags. If my desire made me righteous then I am rich but my actions lead me into wretched poverty. If you are reading this please understand that this note is not about me. It is not even about you and all you might or might not have done and whatever sorrow and deep gutter you might be in. Lift you eyes and see what I saw. It about a real experience with a God that never see’s you as less. It is about the favour and forgiveness that comes from knowing a “loving God” that never judges a repentant heart.
In all my transgressions, my father has never left my side. In all my failures he has never departed me and now I truly see that the love of God knows no bounds. His love puts me to a shame that makes sin even worse to accept and the guilt that follows indescribable. I have nothing of personal worth that I should boast of now. Not even a single thing that men think are worth anything yet through the love that God has shown for me I know that my steps have been covered before I can even conceptualise my journey.
I bring to you the only hope we have of a future and a present. The gift of Christ’s sacrifice for a person like me. A gift that “whosoever believes in him will have ever lasting life”. This is not a tale from a book written from generations ago. This is the very story of my life till this very day. A story of Gods undying love and compassion for a dying and unworthy son and just like David in the psalms I am in awe that such a God could be mindful of man. Who are we father that you would take notice?
I could sit here and try to awe you and excite you just like in a multi million dollar movie with stories of Gods goodness or I can hope that whoever reads this note knows that the writer speaks deeply from their heart about a love that can only be understood when felt.
I have made many mistakes in my life and because of the ragged body I will still wear till the day I meet the one I put all my hope in. I know I might still fall even again but the one thing I know can never be a mistake is accepting that I cannot save myself. Heaven knows I have tried in the past and failed every time without exception. I cannot be my own messiah for in the chains of this body sin lives and no matter what I do only God can bring me peace.
I thank everyone that has been with me through my somewhat boring journey of faith and would like to say that I am a life that was saved. God found me through you. One person in particular who has always kept me humble through it all and made the love of God real in their own very unusual but special way. May God bless you, keep you and give you all your hearts desire. May the spirit of the lord never depart you and bring you a future that shows how blessed he has made you. A life time is not enough to show how much it has meant and will always mean to me. Ten life times is not enough to show you just how much you have given for the lord. Even though you never knew you did.
Like shattered pieces of Porcelain
I picked up the fragments of my heart
Oh the feeling of love
Here today, gone the next
One taking you high enough to soar with the eagles
The other dragging you by your hair
Leaving you to be ridiculed by your emotions
Self-pity mocks me, sadness knows my soul
Loneliness knows me by name
Reaching deep into the very depths of my heart
Burning through my spirit
Like a wild fire feeding on the Village homes
Leaving me in a void of desperation
My shattered heart forced to heal
Hope whispered in the distance,
To recover my lost love.
But I know I must move on
Hold the pain and embrace as I do my own beating heart
Maybe then life might make a little more sense.
I will find a way
Indeed I will
WISDOM FROM ANCIENT AFRICA ( PRE COLONIALISM)
Wisdom from the Yoruba Kingdom translated into English.
NOW SHARE WITH THE WORLD.
In this message Peter Pretorius describes his life story how having being a tobacco farmer and formula one driver his life was remarkably changed. Peter and his wife Ann literally left everything to pursue the call that God had for their lives. They also head up an aid organisation based in Africa where they feed, clothe and educate over 1 million children a day. Peter and Ann spearhead evangelistic crusades across the continent of Africa.
LISTEN TO A VERY POWERFUL TRUE STORY OF HOW A TOBACCO FARMER (ATHEIST) WENT ON TO SAVE AND FEED OVER ONE MILLION PEOPLE.
NB: This message was originally recorded in Destiny Church Edinburgh on the 12 Sep 2006 and all copyrights belong to them and the speaker.
CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON ABOVE TO LISTEN.
Good evening Family,
As a new month comes into play and old things go into the past, it is with a heavy heart I am writing this letter. I have decided to no longer just keep silent and watch as things destroy and are irrevocably lost but to speak up. I think it is time.
In the unexplainable web of family rivalry, bitterness, mixed truths, sadness, despair, depression, tears, hatred and conflict. I want to start by saying that just because I have taken the decision to speak up please never let it be said that I have taken the moral high ground or I have somehow put myself as “holier than thou, riding on the proverbial high horse”. I only speak because even though it is seen as an old fashion concept I still believe in “Family”.
Writing this is actually bringing tears to my eyes and I am not speaking figuratively. I cry out to God over my family and the life of every one of us. I write this from my heart and I hope that somehow just before the new month starts it gets to each and every one of you just in time.
A few years ago on a holiday trip to England. I attended New Wine Church in London and amongst everything the pastor said. I have held one thing closest to my heart. He said “just as God has given us free will and an ability to do just as we please, so also will he not deny us the consequences of our choices”.
In other words “We are where we are because of what roads we choose”. There is always more than one way to re-act to every situation.
You see the thing is, In the error of youth I believed that just as long as a human being is not mentally incapacitated or emotionally blunt his/her attribution of self-inflicted hardship has no excuses. What I am trying to say in simpler words is that “If a man has 2 eyes, 2 legs, 2 hands and 2 ears then whatever situation you find yourself financially is your fault and yours alone. I soon found out this was not an absolute truth. Getting out of a situation when you have put your all into it has as much to do with hard-work as it has to do with timing. I had spent countless frustrated hours feeling emotionally drained and physically exhausted because I believed that I failed because I kept making only “bad” choices and so focused so much on the perceived failure that I missed the opportunities that was present in every situation.
One thing you sad Dad that I would always remember is that “If you were born poor it is not your fault but if you remain poor it’s your fault”. For decades I have watched as individuals blamed their surroundings for the circumstances in which they found themselves, they have blamed God, their children, their wives, their husbands, their government, their family and even their children but have always managed to be too blind to see their own inadequacies.
Do I speak of one person when I write this? No I do not. I am not excluded. If anything I might even be the biggest culprit of it all.
I believe that every human being is beautifully and wonderfully created, but most importantly that they are armed through life with the ability to make rational choices (not easy choices but rational choices).
There are a few ways in which I could address all the ongoing issues. I could start by taking the road of pointing out who is telling the truth. This road of pointing out inadequacies and faults is one we have always taken but have never gotten any result. We could go on and say “Mr this” should never have said or done whatever to “Mr and Mrs that” but I think our catalogue of faults as a family are more than I am willing to write or go into. It is honestly a miracle that no one has killed someone else. We have all been hurt “very deeply” by each other and the scar from wounds of years ago still show up every day.
We could also go one to take the approach of saying to everyone that they should all just apologise and move on but what good is a half apology or one in which we do not know or accept we did anything wrong. In other to learn from our mistakes one must first of all acknowledge that they have made mistakes. Do we accept that we have all made mistakes? I guess this is a question that only you can answer.
I would like to start by saying that I know I have and I am sorry to anyone I have hurt in the process especially in my youth.
The final option is taken from a biblical principle taught by Jesus over 2000 years ago when a woman was about to be stoned to death for being a prostitute by a crowd of people. Jesus calls out and looks to the congregation and says “Let him without sin cast the first stone”. So I say this to my family, let him without sin cast the first stone.
Let the person that knows they are innocent of all sin be the judge of all. If you have sinned against your family in whatever way either as sons, daughters, mothers or fathers then I beg you not to throw stones in glass houses. I know how hurt everyone is but the problem is that EVERYONE IS HURT AND NOT JUST ONE PERSON.
It is time for peace and a turnaround but this must first come from a heartfelt acceptance when we cannot ignore the hurts we have caused others. I know there were times I disappointed the whole family but only self pride will keep me from knowing that everyone was affected but my decisions and not just myself.
Everyone one of us starts every argument (Please have no delusions about this, everyone does this and does it very deeply also) or disagreement by talking about ourselves, How it affects us, how we feel, what we wanted to do, what we did and how we do not want something. In the role play of our individual lives we are all victims of life.
It is time to stop thinking about how things affect us but how it affects others. I know it is easier said than done and I don’t think it will be easy but I promise you all it is worth changing or fighting for. Life is more than just how we feel or what we want or even our own happiness.
For me, it is now about my family’s happiness. I live for my family and know life has no real meaning until we live for others. Take a look at Nelson Mandela, we do not celebrate him because he was the best man in the world but because he lived for others, same with Jesus.
My family we are not victims. We are the causes of our own hurts and there is only one solution.
Love is the only choice we have, Love can build a bridge between our hearts. Love can overcome all the sorrow, the pain, the countless days of tears, the days you wished life would depart and the depressions we felt. Love will be our bridge and don’t you all think it’s time?
When we stand together it is our finest hour. We can do anything. I write in tears because I still believe that in between all these there is still love somewhere. Please do not prove me wrong or just a dreamer.
In the presence of darkness only light can overcome it and when light comes darkness cannot comprehend it but must give way to a stronger being at the expense of itself. Let love be the light the fixes all darkness.
1 Corinthians 13 (New International Version): If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
I think it is time. I put myself on the line to say let our last name be more than just letters but something that unites us. It is time to let go not because you were not hurt, not because you are not right to be hurt but because it is time to let go.
We have lost almost a whole decade as a family. Who can remember the last time we all smiled as a family? I have only a fading recollection of this. Time lost can never be gained so let’s not lose anymore. Let it be now.
I know we must all follow our paths but the best way to do that is to know what path we are presently walking on. My family we have gone astray and a lot is lost but not all is lost.
I do not write this to chastise or for self regret. I only say we made mistake because it’s about the road that gets you to a place where you finally see yourself for what and who you are and lose all sense of false self grandeur. The day you weep your eyes out because for the first time you really see your flaws and you realise that just knowing what they are means nothing if you continue to do nothing about it. That day “our” world takes a new shape. That day friends and family that have stood by you mean even more; “everything becomes an opportunity”, a second chance to get things right. That day maturity grabs you by the throat and becomes your best friend. You finally dissect yourself accurately and on that day self-pity leaves your side and self-action takes its place. Blame departs along with loneliness and new life takes its place.
That day you realise that even though your life and options aren’t what you want you learn to take the highroad (not your way), maybe you do this because you learn to look at everything as a lesson, or because you don’t want to walk around angry anymore hoping to rationalise life, or maybe it is because you finally understand the cards that are laid before you.
In life there are things we don’t want to happen, but have to accept. There are people we can’t live without, but have to let go and that there are things we don’t want to know or face (often about ourselves), but have to learn.
Doing something about what we already know is our fault is the real difference.
I have learnt that failing to see one’s own inadequacies is one of the biggest handicaps a person can have and to not see that ensures the real cause of a problem is never addressed.
It sometimes makes me sad that in a lot of peoples situations they need to go through sadness to appreciate happiness, they need to cry to know the value of a laugh and they need to lose a loved one to appreciate the beauty of life. They need to search for love to know never to take it for granted. This to me is one of the greatest tragedies of the human condition but ultimately it is what makes us human and not divine.
I present love as choice and just as I mentioned earlier it is one in which if we chose not to accept God will not deny us of the consequences just as any other choice in life we make.
Yes! We all made mistakes but falling down when trying is not failure it is just a learning curve and should be seen as one. It can be difficult and frustrating to fall but this is also a good thing as the deeper the pain the more you want it. This pain is good and I can honestly say take heart, it gets better. This fall should never be allowed to be the reason to give up. This is just part of life. Life will throw you curve balls and we do not always get to pick what happens in life but we do get to pick how we deal with what is thrown our way
My family what values do we place on each other? The time for talk is long gone. It is time for actions.
I do not want to end this on a low as a new month shall shortly begin so I would like to say this in the form of two quotes.
“There is neither happiness nor misery in the world; there is only the comparison of one state with another, nothing more. He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness. We must of felt what it is to die, Morrel, that we may appreciate the enjoyments of life.
” Live, then, and be happy, beloved children of my heart, and never forget, that until the day God will deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is contained in these two words, ‘Wait and Hope.”
― Alexandre Dumas
This page is for the music lovers everywhere. Feel free to just chil and enjoy our music selection. Please feel free to leave any feedback about our music selection.
Last night I hung out with and I had the longest and most meaningful discussions with my friend Joey. Honestly I have never talked until the sun came up in a really long time, which was really nice. I’ve only known him for a few months now and I’ve never connected with anyone so real and so passionate, and free spirited in a really long time, years maybe. Someone who thinks like me and wasn’t scared to open up about the deepest and most meaningful things in life. And I’m not one who opens up to just anyone but some how he just gets it. We talked about how people take life for granted and how life is way too short to not do the things you love with the people you love most. How education is so different, people worry about getting a good grade rather than actually learning. I talked about my life as a child, growing up, my life struggles, my father, school, art, losing myself, finding myself, losing myself again, friends that come and go, my first love, pets that I’ve lost, pretty much everything that I’ve ever been through for the past 21 years. How sometimes I can be both sad and happy and me not understanding how that’s even possible. I felt a little embarrassed saying that but when he said “no I get it, it makes total sense because I to feel and think like that”
I really was amazed and can honestly listen to him talk for hours. He mentioned how music is pretty much the most amazing thing created on this planet. How artists are geniuses to put a meaningful song together, with a beat, and touch the souls of thousands around the world. Which I can agree on. He opened up about his family how he drank, smoked, and did drugs to try and forget the awful things that he’s been through that I don’t even want to mention in this post. How he moved from SF LA Vegas New York to try and escape it but no matter where he went he still felt the same. Alone. How he’s tired of being betrayed by so many people that he loves, I can only sit and listen and admire everything because it’s true. People will hurt you. But it’s up to you to decide if they are worth fighting for. You can’t make someone love you, and sure as hell cannot make someone stay. If they want to leave, let them. Two people come to mind thinking about this which we talked about, my father, and a boy I onced loved. I can only forgive and wish the best for them and hope they truly find happiness. I told him how my father chose drugs over my mother and sisters and I, and how he just recently had another daughter with another woman so I basically have three sisters now. for me family is my number one. I told him how I don’t know where or who I’d be without my sisters. I love those girls to death. Literally. They are my everything and have given me strength I didn’t even know I had. How my mother and I never use to get along but now we understand each other through every thing.
We talked about how people are so caught up with the materialistic things, and how they don’t even notice the beautiful simplicity around them. How people are so caught up with technology and can’t help but be on their phones every minute. How at get togethers, dinners, etc everyone is just on their phones and cannot even hold a conversation with someone. How life is a constant update. I guess you can say its old fashioned but honestly I like it that way. It really opened my eyes because I was really caught up in this. I asked him if he had an instagram and he just replied with ” No, and I’ll never get one, or a snap thingy, Facebook, nothing. I hate all that shit.” Holds people back. ”
He mentioned how he’s even surprised he’s opening up to me about all these things and all his thoughts but I just said the same. How trust is something so rare now a days that it’s almost impossible to ever fully TRUST someone. But then again that goes back to being let down so many times. I just reminded him that there are good people out there, everyone’s afraid, and everyone just wants to be happy, successful and loved. I said people are so afraid of getting hurt they rather leave then actually face the problem and work through it. And that’s what we humans lack. People give up way too easily.
I told him we’re young, this is life, people come and go, it’s going to be hard at times and it sure as hell won’t be easy,
Nothing is going to be handed to you and if you want something you go and get it, there may be lots of no’s but there will be one yes. People need to love and just be kind to everyone around them because everyone is going through some kind of battle, every person I meet is beautiful in their own way. We are all human. Peace and love really saves on this earth. Just remember that you have the ones you love and the ones who love you”
He said “If you are happy you are successful”
There’s so much more that we talked about but it’s 12:36am and I have work early in the morning. So I’ll write more in my journal.
I just know I’ll never forget this night. Another beautiful human I’ll always remember.
As the new year begins. All of us at Theunderdogtales.com would like to say thank you for visiting our site, thanks for the comments and we wish you all a wonderful, prosperous and magnificent new year.
When I was 18 I dreamt a dream
I dreamt of a lady
A woman so strong she feared no man
A mother so true she would do anything for her family
A priceless jewel
A timeless heart
Its been a year since we promised forever
I can’t believe how time flies
Feels like just yesterday we met
Feels like just a second ago we fell in love
I love you now even more than when we first met but less than I will tomorrow.
I know I don’t deserve you
Sometimes I doubt the existence of God but with every breath you take I know he must truly exist
Who else could have made someone so beautiful
Someone so caring
Someone so kind
Someone so tough
Someone so strong
You are a blessing to me
You are my pillar, my strength and every time I doubt myself you are always there to set me right
I have so much to say but even the words seem insufficient.
I have no idea where or what I would be if our paths never crossed.
I am only grateful you took a chance on us
You not only gave up your heart for me but also gave me our angels.
My life is better than I ever dreamt it could be and finally I can say it and it be true.
You complete me
When we started our journey a year ago I never knew two would become four in just a year.
Angels from heaven through an angel on earth.
My Angel, My wife, My best friend, My everything and more
I promised you forever and forever is exactly what I will give.
On this special day, our first of many more years to share.
Every time I think I love you as much as I could, another day comes by and yesterday never compares to tomorrow.
I just want you to know that the earth has never had a wife so good or a mother so true.
We love you now and forever.
NB: Dedicated to my wife on our first year wedding anniversary
MY JURY DUTY EXPERIENCE
Ideologies separate us, dreams bring us back together
When I was only a few years old I started to ask myself questions about life. I wanted to know everything, the evolution of man, the differences in skin colour, creation of the earth but as I grew older my questions became more specific. Like what motivates us? Who are we? If not who are we then why are we the way we are? Why are we the same yet so different? Why are we (i.e humans) here? This eventually led me to pursue psychology as a first degree.
I wanted to know everything so I read about religion, not an in-depth reading but a fundamental understanding and just as each religion provided solutions they also raised questions. So I looked at science and that just seemed to complicate things even more. What was I to do?
Then a few years ago it hit me. The problem wasn’t the information I was getting but the way I was interpreting it.
This might be a little complex to understand but I will try to simplify it as much as possible. This is something I think I can term Multiple Directions theory (MDT) I realised that as I was being fed different information about different causes my brain almost quite automatically kept some aspects of the information (each theory) without necessarily synchronising it as a whole. The more I tried to synchronise it the less sense it made. My only option was to either build a hybrid theory (mixture of the two) or discard every information obtained and start again.
Maybe an example might help to explain this a bit better. If I was to explain a flight from Aberdeen to Amsterdam and I start to go into details as to how the pilot controls the aeroplane, the engineering mechanisms involved, the aeroplane speed and what makes it glide successfully, what altitude then I suddenly tell you that it goes out of the earth close to the moon, then down again directly into Amsterdam.
As a whole you should discard my theory and want nothing to do with it as you might be aware that intercity planes don’t fly out of the earth’s atmosphere but subconsciously your mind would have recorded the parts that make sense. The next question would be filling the gap/ the missing information (not starting again).
The next assumption is when you hear another theory that supposedly provides a different view of a flight from Aberdeen to Amsterdam. Your mind might seem to process the information as a whole, but in reality what we do not know is that we are processing this information in relation to our previously accepted information and trying to correlate them (It’s like hearing to different witness testimonies and trying to find out what parts are the same). Ideally as a rational being if a story is not totally complete and consistent it must be said to lack validity and reliability but I appeared to disregard that rule and piece things together based on my mixed information. This is something we are not aware we sometimes do
This basically means the more we hear, the more explanations that are provided. The less correlation we would be able to make and the further away we get from the answer we previously set out to get.
We do not realise that our confusion is not always necessarily brought about by the inability of each explanation to define a situation holistically (in wholes rather than analysis or separation into parts) but by a lack of synchronisation from the little parts of “accepted” information.
This view is in many ways different from the Gestalt theory (is a theory of mind and brain that proposes that the operational principle of the brain is holistic, parallel, and analogue, with self-organizing tendencies; or, that the whole is different from the sum of its parts, The word Gestalt in German literally means “shape” or “figure”) in psychology.
I feel I must at this point state that I do not disagree with the gestalt view of a holistic approach but I do think it applies more to visual situations than mental cognition.
Our perceptions are more individualistic and units related than we consciously realise. This can be found in situation where we say one thing and do another.
All I am trying to explain in simpler terms is that the way we interpret the information we receive is what forms our understanding of the world, it determines what we believe and what we act upon. Not the information we receive, so take a moment and realise that sometimes our interpretations might not be right even when the information is the same. It will help you avoid conflicts and lead to greater self-development.
When we mis-interpret information it often leads to mistakes that we sometimes blame ourselves for. Think of how many questions you answered wrongly during your educational development that you know were because you dint read the question right (interpretation) and how many times you blamed yourself for it.
Don’t be afraid to take a minute to re-think of an answer you think without a shadow of doubt to have gotten right. You just might have interpreted the question wrongly.
Build you competence by being willing to go back and take another look at what you think you know. Things are not always what we think they are. Trust your instincts if you have good ones. It sometimes helps.
In order to explain this properly let me draw from an experience I recently had. I tried to write about this as close to the end of the event as possible for two main reasons
a) I could not legally talk about an active case when I am a member of the jury until it is over and
b) I wanted to make sure it was as fresh as possible in my mind.
For anyone who does not know how a jury works or what it is let me give a short and hopefully clear background story.
First of all, a Jury (in the UK) is simply a 15 man or woman panel made of what society will term as responsible members of the community selected randomly to listen to possible evidence about a case in relation to the accused brought forward by the procurator fiscal (crown/city). Their sole responsibility is to decide on if an accused is guilty, not guilty or a not proven charge can be applied. In the United Kingdom as well as many civilised societies it is the responsibility of the procurator fiscal to prove beyond reasonable doubt the guilt of an individual and not the accused responsibility to prove his innocence. This means the onus of proving a charge lies on the crown/state/procurator and not the defence.
In order to decide or be a member of the jury there are a few things expected of you for the court to accept it was a fair trial.
a) You are not allowed to be biased (i.e race, age, sex, dressing, haircut etc cannot play a role in your decision making).
b) You must not bring in your own prejudices to the court either from experience or otherwise
c) Speculation or hear say in any form is not tolerated in the court which means you cannot assume an explanation to anything unless given during the process of evidence.
d) If the accused remains silence it cannot be taken as guilt.
e) Testimonies of expert witnesses such as doctors can only be taken as the presence of something and not evidence that the accused committed the crime.
g) There must be two or more corroborating witnesses that the just decides to be credible (truthful) and reliable (given a true account of what happened). This simply means there must be mutual corroboration.
h) A witness cannot corroborate themselves. i.e if witness A tells witness B what happened and the witness B is called to the stand, their testimony is the same as witness A and so does not provide mutual corroboration.
I) In a case where there is only one witness and so saying no mutual corroboration there is an exception to the rule in order to establish guilt. This however must be done with serious care. There must be at least two victims in which there is a similarity in method, timing, process used and the two witnesses must be seen as credible and reliable. In order words if for example a child is raped in a corner by a man by the strict sense of the law we only have the childs eye witness testimony against the man. There needs to be two or more victims with very similar events, similar methods and similar timing to the point in which it cannot be disregarded as a coincidence. I must admit I had difficulty believing that an event must have more than one victim if there is only one witness but this is the law as we were given.
J) Only established facts are acceptable.
H) The absence of a particular piece of evidence does not mean the presence of its opposite and vice versa (example is just because someone is not sad does not mean they are happy).
My jury duty experience lasted over 3 weeks and was made up 15 members of society (including myself). We did not have an equal representation of men and women as were made up of an odd number nor did we have an equal age representation as we were randomly selected. The case was details are irrelevant in the lesson and also I am not so sure if it is against the law to state it.
As with any case the procurator fiscal gives a statement then the defence gives the same statement. The onus to prove guilt is on the state and they need to be able to prove it beyond reasonable doubt. One of the most amazing things about my experience was that on day one after just hearing the opening statements with no evidence whatsoever. People had already formed their opinions of the case and the defendant’s guilt.
As this was my first just duty experience I assumed that this was normal. After all “do we not form our opinion of a person within the first few seconds”. The only thing is, I assumed that this would change after a while. I assumed that people will wait and see what the procurator brings to the table and then use that to determine his guilt when compared to the defence’s alternate version of the story. Little did I know that I was extremely naive in this thinking or maybe the best way to put this is that I was the only one that shared this version of thinking. Somehow as the days passed by it seemed like people used their own person experiences to come to a conclusion about the case, now I must hasten to add that this was not what everyone felt but what a good number felt. They spoke about experiences as a child, divorce experience, experience raising a child and even experiences at work and somehow seemed to attribute guilt and innocence based on this. It seemed as if our ability to independently judge a situation was impaired. Almost like hypothetical thinking was either none existent or we just would rather not consider it.
Even to the point that they decided that certain things mentioned in the charge but lacking any evidence or even mention by the procurator fiscal or defence were also assumed to happen. I learnt two very important lessons in this.
1) Changing a person’s mind is a very hard and difficult task and in some case even when multiple contrary evidence is present it still does not seem to register. It took the presence of a judge to discard some charges as there was no evidence mentioning it before people actually seemed to consider it. The charges dropped from about 15 charges to about 7 charges by the end of the trial and even then some members of the jury felt that even though there was no evidence or mention of those things, it still should have stood.
2) People seemed to prefer to believe the worst in a person before they take a second to see if there is any good in that person.
These two things made me realise certain things for my daily life.
1) Never take the importance of making a good first impression for granted. It takes a lot more to change a person’s mind.
2) Never forget to take a second to rethink something you seem to be absolutely certain about. It is very possible you have used your previous experience to make that judgement
3) Objectivity is not as natural as we think. Subjectivity seems to be the more natural of the two. It takes effort to remember to be objective.
4) Be careful when you make judgements about people. It might not matter to you but it might matter to them.
5) Rules (such as the rules for make a decision as a member of a jury) matter very little when making judgements about people. Somehow our bias seems to come into play. It is very important to be aware of this.
While a lot of the members of the jury were willing to reconsider their initial judgement when they realised that a man’s freedom was a stake. There were still two or three people that did not even want to reconsider and actually became defensive and took the case personally. They even questioned the judge’s decision to drop some charges even though they knew there was no evidence to support the charges or even a mention of it. This brings me to my final point
6) No matter how hard you try to change a person’s opinion about an event or about you. Sometimes it just does not work. They have their own opinion no matter what happens. Do not waste time on this. Do your very best and move on. Life is too short.
You see in that funny and unfortunate experience I realised that life is not always decided on what we do but what others think about what we do.
The Power of Perseverance (AKA Grit)
“Life is messy. Grit and grace come at us fast, side by side. Sometimes the grit becomes overwhelming and diminishes our spirit. What’s good seems lost and gone forever. This is a story about the pathway back to what’s beautiful, when the way back seems impossible.”
― Sharon E. Rainey, Making a Pearl from the Grit of Life
I have spent a good part of my adult life fascinated and dreaming about success. I have very often wondered what makes a man a success in life? I guess this might seem like a vague question especially when the term success is used but let us for a second try not to get hung up on the word “success”.
I know that success to people is relative and will ultimately be based on a person’s individual circumstances. I understand that success to me might be having a loving family and guaranteed roof and food for the lifetime of myself and my family members and to you it could be a seven figure bank account. In the discovery of what makes a man successful I can honestly say that an individuals definition of what exactly success is does not matter in the journey to success. Simply put, it does not matter what you define success to be, the requirement to be successful very often will be the same regardless of destination point. For the sake of this post I will keep success referring to a “successful business”.
I started my journey by looking at IQ, it dint take very long before I discovered that while having a High IQ surely doesn’t hurt. It also does not mean you will be successful. To be honest you don’t need to do too much research to see that success is not always a result of intelligence. Otherwise the most intelligent people in the world would be the most successful.
I then decided to look into Daniel Goleman’s claim that success is driven by EQ (Emotional intelligence). After much reading and to my dismay I also found out that this does not need to be present to be successful. It certainly does not hurt but it really isn’t necessary. You can hire someone who has a High IQ and EQ.
After taking a deeper look (without me turning this friendly post into an educational paper), I discovered it is an age old recipe called “Grit”.
You see when I say Grit I am not talking about being harsh as stone’s nor am I talking about being coarse. I am talking about the psychology definition of what this is. I am talking about being able to find a target and having a powerful motivation to achieve their respective objective. I am talking about good old fashion perseverance.
I guess one of the barriers to see the obvious for me was a life long handicap. My handicap was my education. The idea which is very often also unintentionally taught in subjects such as Mathematics and Physics. The thinking that if a person has not been able to solve a problem it is because they have not found the right methodology. This implies that as soon as you find the right method, then the problem becomes easy to solve and then it can be taught to other people who can also use the same method to achieve success in relation to that problem.
While I can not deny the merit in thinking this was, I can also see the handicap this creates in finding a method to success.
I quickly discovered that being successful had nothing to do with method but everything to do with your ability to persevere.
The real beauty about “Grit” is that it has nothing to do with methods or finding an exact way and everything to do with attitude. It also has nothing to do with Intelligence, either general intelligence or emotional intelligence but your ability to manage and keep pushing on.
How does a person get True Grit?
1) True Grit must originate from a genuine belief in what you want to do. I am not talking about a hobby or an interest. Your idea could very well start as a hobby but it must be so much more than that before you can push for it. It must be something you believe in.
2) Belief is not enough; you must be convinced of your idea. You see there is a difference in believing something is needed and knowing something is needed. Your conviction must be analyzed independently and must be honestly looked at. Your idea must serve more than just yourself. What use is an idea if it serves only you? In other words, what is in it for everybody else? This is very often where real value is identified.
3) If you are convinced by the need for your idea and its relevance to the general public or people more than yourself then you must understand that success can be a journey. Now when I say understand, I mean truly know it isn’t a sprint. You see a business or anything worth doing must be allowed to mature on its own. This is the same for life and love. Allowing it to grow means that you know that, just as you are who you are because of the things that happened to you (both positive and negative). An idea worth pursuing is also subject to the rules that it will be hit by both positive and negative things.
You must know that it is not necessarily going to be a bed of roses.
4) If you truly understand the journey. You must anticipate the road ahead and be psychologically and physically prepared for the coming journey. I am not saying that preparation means that you won’t be affected. I am simply saying that preparation for a potential storm might not mean that you will weather the storm but it certainly doesn’t hurt.
5) When the trouble comes and by trouble I mean things like discouragement, frustration and even sometimes financial constraints it is important to focus on the fact that you knew it will happen and work through it.
Just as you only know how good an insurance company is when there is a claim to be made. Or how much a person loves you when there is a problem. This is the defining moment when many new start up businesses either become successful or are a failure. This is the moment when true grit and perseverance helps. The difference between a successful company and failed company when they are both given the same idea is the ability to persevere in times of trouble.
Unlike Intelligence, the beauty of Grit is that it can be taught. You can equip an individual with the ability to cope or the strength to persevere. Grit is an essential and often overlooked element of success. It correlates more highly with success in business than intelligence or a specific talent.
A few things that might help could be simple things such as making sure that
a) New ideas and projects dont distract you from old ones
b) Don’t set a goal but later choose to pursue a different one
c) Be diligent
d) Be intentional in whatever you do.
e) Do not allow setbacks discourage you.
Just remember that even if you are not the most intelligent or the most social. Success is not impossible.
I will end this post with a quote
“It doesn’t matter if people are playing jazz or writing poetry — if they want to be successful, they need to learn how to persist and persevere, how to keep on working until the work is done. Woody Allen famously declared that “eighty percent of success is showing up.” NOCCA (New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts) teaches kids how to show up again and again.”
― Jonah Lehrer, Imagine: How Creativity Works
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run –
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man my son!
by Rudyard Kipling
I’m inspired to share with you what an older friend said to me a few years ago. I have been greatly influenced by it. Not exactly in his own words though, he said there isn’t an absolute finish line for everyone in life.
Our tracks are different, our lanes are different and our durations- different. The only thing we have in common is the same judge. For example one person graduates at age 20 and struggles for the next five years to get a job. Another graduates at age 25 and gets a job immediately. One marries a virgin and spends the next decade waiting for the blessings of children. Another, probably after having series of abortions in the past, becomes a mum almost immediately after marriage. One becomes an MD at 30, another becomes MD at 52.
Life is full of twists and turns, ups and downs plus many surprises and offers each one of us different opportunities. It is up to each of us to patiently prepare and wait for that opportunity. We learn on the way- no one knows it all or has it better. The devil always tries to tell us that lie over and over but that’s just it- a lie. There is a reason why we all don’t fall at the same time. Its so that when one is down, weak and discouraged, the other, who is strong, can encourage and uplift him. God never promised that the road would be easy but promised never to leave or forsake us. There’s no competition in life so let’s learn to go easy on ourselves and trust that God is working it all for good (even if it doesn’t make sense at the time).
The bible assures us that there is a time for everything but most importantly that “it came to pass”. Whatever trials, challenge or downtime, this too shall pass and in due course, you’ll be up and strong again to lift up those who maybe down around you” . It is well with us all, Amen!
Lots of things in life are by choice and not by force.
Let’s try to have an amazing life and help others do the same.
Never underestimate just how much of a difference you can make in someones life and how much they can make in yours.
THIS WAS POSTED IN MEMORY OF A DEAR FRIEND. I HOPE IT BRINGS COMFORT TO ANYONE GOING THROUGH ANYTHING THAT SEEMS LIKE THERE IS NO LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL.GOD HAS NEVER LEFT YOUR SIDE EVEN WHEN YOU CANT SEE IT. HE IS RIGHT THERE.
YOU MADE MY FIRST YEAR IN UNIVERSITY THAT LITTLE BIT LESS SCARY MISS MO. REST IN THE ARMS OF THE LORD. I STILL CANT BELIEVE YOU ARE GONE.
I woke one morning looking through a dark room
thinking life’s moving too soon
No light to behold
No sign of troubles after
Wanting to fight yet not knowing how
for a second I gave up praying
nothing to believe in
Then I found your book,
A little hook was all it took
Your heart, your soul
every word like freedom here, bringing me back to life like CPR
every promise a reminder that my story cant be over before it begins
No sitting here looking like life ain’t life no more
No point looking outwards for things you gave before I could walk
You taught me lord to walk proud
I had all I could
showed me the path
Walking the roads of champions
Push myself to the limit
Making a mockery of all the wisdom I acquired prior to your word
To those that say you will never make it,
those that used their words to do nothing but break you
we love you all
Those that felt you gave your all
No hard feelings
I thank you for your words
Your words made me who I am
If not for you I would never have fought
I would never have given my all to see those words untrue
Never have put it all in to ensure I dont believe those words
I thank you because I almost believed the words
I thank you because your words brought me to him,
your little reminders lifted me in a way I will never have found
I learnt opinions ain’t facts, you take it and let it be
I learnt to walk in nothing wearing nothing but my heart on my sleeves
And the days courage walked away I learnt to run out and pull it back
Being who you are comes from the heart
Telling you, that you can be all you set out to be means nothing if you don’t see it yourself
And if you cant see it now, look through the eyes of the one that never sees you as less
Look through the eyes of the one that doesn’t tell you one thing and act differently
Walk with me brothers and sisters
Leave all those lies behind
Let me show you the path I found for I know I can never walk alone
The father walks with us all
Reminds you of things long forgotten
For as long as he reigns,
your story hasn’t even started yet.
You will walk like a champion soon.
To see a world in a grain of sand,
And heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.
William Blake – Auguries of Innocence
As I walked down my office street my dreams and past aspirations flashed passed my eyes. And all I had was a deeply sad unanswered question, how did I get here? I remembered how many things I thought I would have accomplished at my age and how far I was from my target. Every day just seemed to drive me further away and I had no idea how to fix that.
I had spent countless hours dreaming, countless hours planning and spent what seemed like an eternity believing I could change everything if I just kept on believing in myself. You cannot even begin to imagine my surprise when I found out that almost every book I had ever read and every major tale I had ever heard about success was an absolute façade. It simply did not work. It was inspirational in its way but still something was missing.
I was 25 years old and I still had no major grip on what I sought after. I had attended private schools, gone to two universities, obtained an MBA degree and had 2 professional qualifications. I had achieved all of this before my 23rd birthday yet none of these added up to success in life or happiness. I had never been described as ugly nor did I have any major physical deformities. I was a Christian who deeply believed in all the church ideas on family and love. I had no criminal record, no mental or physical diseases and had not been in trouble with anything ever. I had a respectable IQ and no one had ever referred to me as weird or strange. I was not wealthy; was not happily married to the woman I cared about and I was nowhere near what I felt I could achieve and would achieve in life. So what on earth was wrong? Why couldn’t I just work for what I want just as I read? Why were hard work, determination and undying self belief just not enough?
I blame it on every lie I have ever read, all the “once you believe it you can achieve it” type lines. All the belief and talent in the world was never going to be enough. Success seemed to have more to do with luck and opportunity than with hard work. I had enough of reading the stories and believing them, they did more harm to my self-esteem than if I had gone through life and tried to make the best of every situation. Guidelines to life sometimes ruin people.
I decided to take the next best step. It was time to work smarter not to work harder. I dumped the “belief only” advice and decided that its time that my life taught me what was real and what was not. They weren’t the Geniuses in life, we are. Why should my interpretation of life depend on their view of life? That’s the only reason I decided to write. I have no intention of going on some ego trip rambling about how I have unravelled the great mysteries to life (I think the Bible is the only book than can claim that or at least for the most part tries to claim that) and I do not believe in guidelines to success. We must all follow our paths but the best way to do that is to know what path we are presently walking on.
I guess it’s about the road that gets you to a place where you finally see yourself for what and who you are and lose all sense of false self grandeur. The day you weep your eyes out because for the first time you really see your flaws and you realise that just knowing what they are means nothing if you continue to do nothing about it. That day “your” world takes a new shape. That day friends and family that have stood by you mean even more; “everything becomes an opportunity”, a second chance to get things right. That day maturity grabs you by the throat and becomes your best friend. You finally dissect yourself accurately and on that day self-pity leaves your side and self-action takes its place.
That day you realise that even though your life and options aren’t what you want you learn to take the highroad (not your way), maybe you do this because you learn to look at everything as a lesson, or because you don’t want to walk around angry anymore hoping to rationalise life, or maybe it is because you finally understand the cards that are laid before you.
There are things we don’t want to happen, but have to accept. There are people we can’t live without, but have to let go and that there are things we don’t want to know or face (often about ourselves), but have to learn. There are days we lack the courage to try to change but know we must someday.
Doing something about what we already know is our fault is the real difference.
That’s where truth comes in. That little push helping you to become what you already were. A diamond in the earth was already a diamond even before it was cleansed and purified. Truth is only here to unearth the diamond that was there all along. I have no intention of presenting a story that thinks for you. I do not believe you need me to and to assume so would be to call you stupid or assume you are incapable of thinking for yourself and we both know that is not true. My “rant” will be a guide to what has to inevitably be your decision; after all it’s only fair you decide since you have to live with the choices you make after.
It was 1992,I was 22 years old. I had been house hunting and came across this ideal house in the ideal area.
The Landlord showed me around and I decided to go for it, that is where it all began.
Over the coming Months the Landlord would collect rent,do repairs etc but seemed a nice quiet shy kind of guy.
After about a year he started to hang around more and become friendly. I saw no harm but then one day he asked me out,I refused and did not see much more of him for quite some time.
Then 6 Months later he was hanging around again,asking me to dinner,again i said no as i was not interested in getting Involved with a Muslim Man let alone my Landlord. He never gave up and after 3 Years i eventually agreed, that was that in a nutshell.
We started to see each other more and more and he was just hooked and madly in love (I thought). He was around every night,sometimes meeting me at work just for a cuddle,it seemed so sweet.
After 18 Months we decided to get a House together. We moved in and it was just perfect. 3 Months later I discovered I was Pregnant and we were overjoyed. His Parents decided to come and see me for the first time and insisted I convert to Islam for me and my daughter to be accepted. I felt sad but the pressure was on me and I decided to do it. It was not a big deal and I was now a Muslim. My baby was born and the family gathered round giving me all these orders about special baths for me and baby to make us pure and clean,I was so confused. I followed all their instructions etc as my Partner was telling me it was all for the best.
9 Months later we did a Nikkah,which is an Islamic Wedding in his friends House. It was not a special day by any means. I had no Family there or friends,just strangers and witnesses. It was all over quickly but I was now a Muslim Wife. No pictures,no Honeymoon,no memories,probably best way thinking about it now.
To cut this long story very short I went on to have 3 more Children as he was desperate for a Son. I never had a Boy just 4 perfect beautiful girls. As the girls were growing up his parents, sister were always commenting on how they should dress,eat with their right hand go to Mosque every day after School. Urdu School Saturdays and Sundays,where was my Children’s life? I became quite sad but plodded on to keep the peace but no matter what I did it was never enough for him or his family,always finding fault,always treating us different.
He started to treat me terrible and was always putting me down,never letting me out,casting up bills,telling me I was fat and controlling my whole life. It was like he hated me inside and it was a lot to do with his mother as she was just a Witch and at every chance was always trying to lure him to Pakistan and whenever he would go she would have a line of girls for him to marry. He never went through with it but I still had to be nice to this Woman,like hell I would. I soon realised I was being taken for a mug and they never noticed how much I had changed my life for them.
It was time for me to be me again. I pulled my children out of Mosque,Urdu Schools,made sure they dressed how they wanted to dress,made sure they still had Christmas, Big birthdays,Santa etc which his mother hated, kept my distance from his Family which then caused more problems for us as its very important you stay close to the man’s family as they are very family orientated. I stopped cooking Asian Food and having them all over for dinner,this hurt my Husband but did I care?
No! When his Family left me and my girls out of parties etc he would still go,when they treated me bad he would say “It is your fault“. They would manipulate him in such ways you would not believe as they wanted me gone and he believed every word they said. It was awful but I stood up to them and made sure my kids led a normal happy life.
After 15 Years I saved up some Money as he always controlled me financially and barely gave me enough to live on,baring in mind he was a Property tycoon worth Millions, I had nothing. He grudged every penny he spent on me and my girls but liked the best for himself. I just had enough and while he was away on business I took sofa ,beds from our home and moved to a Rented house. He was in deep shock when he got back and hated me for doing this.
After few Months he would apologise and ask me to come home but I just could never go back to that miserable unhappy sad life. Nothing is worth going through what I went through all because of Love, Religion and culture. 4 years on and he has just finally left me alone as he has realised I will never go back. He has now Married an Asian girl and I hope this means he will let me move on but I am not banking on it,will just have to see what happens!
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I sat there with my sister Annette looking at the clock opposite us, at Clinic 6 at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, it was first thing in the morning and we had been sitting for nearly an hour, because my records had failed to be taken from archives. But however they eventually came and the long awaited call; “Mr Smylie?” rang confident from behind us.
“Good Morning, Sam how are you feeling?”, asked the Consultant Hematologist, as we sat down next to his disk, situated against one wall of a sparsely furnished clinic examination room. With a bed on the other side and a trolley of medical equipment against the other.
“Fine Doctor”, I replied considering I had just spent a week in hospital having all manner of tests, both routine and very painful, performed on me; after being told at my first visit to the blood donation clinic on Nelson Mandela Place just of Buchanan Street, in Glasgow City Centre, that I should probably go into A&E immediately.
I was 17 years old and all this was starting to get a little daunting for my young confident and growing mind. The Doctor looked at me confusingly, the way a lot of medical professionals were starting to look at me these days, not that I have, by this time, came in contact with a lot, apart from my GP and friends and family working within the field.
“Explaining this can be difficult”, started the Doctor, my sister shifted in her seat,
“Try your best Doctor”, I prompted,
“Okay, you have a rare Bone Marrow Failure Disease called Aplastic Anaemia”, I stared at him blankly, so no cancer? I thought.
“It caused by the bone marrow failing to produce blood cells to a particular degree that it may become fatal”, the Doctor went on to explain, now I shifted in my seat, my sister remained still.
“From what we can see you don’t have any underlying conditions that may have caused this to happen, we are unsure is it is hereditary, because we just don’t know. However your condition seems to be stable and not fatal”, chimed the Doctor as I struggled to take everything in.
“But Doctor, I don’t feel unwell at all”, I protested.
“Most people with this condition look and fell absolutely fine until the “final stages”, in other words if we hadn’t found this condition your bone marrow may have continued to fail until there was nothing left”.
So we left the clinic, and for the next 6 years I attended the same clinic, talking with the doctors and giving blood samples. No real complications ever came about apart from some very severe infections, that were caused by my lower than average white blood cell count.
However I was feeling deflated because dreams of becoming a Police Officer or joining the Armed forces were now non-existent, my girlfriend left me because she couldn’t cope with my growing depression, another added weight came about when I lost my father not long after diagnosis to Lung Cancer.
So I decided to work hard at university; which eventually paid of when I was offered a job with a large and respected IT outsourcing company, with great benefits and a career plan which will challenge me and allow me to mature and develop as a professional. Then after six years of stability everything failed, literally failed. My bone marrow had started to fully pack in, and from being able to run 1.5 miles in about 12 minutes I couldn’t walk half a mile without feeling breathless, frustrated and tired. I began to bruise easily, as well as bleed regularly from my gums and nose. My active life of weight training, running, swimming and learning to snowboard halted.
My social life became non-existent, as I could not go to busy places, work became increasingly more difficult (resulting in me being taken to hospital on Saturday afternoon), and then cam another blow.
“I would advise you not to go to your new employer this year”, advised my new consultant, who had taken the case because of the rapid decrease in stability in my condition.
So there I was on the telephone with the man who had hired me into my new high flying job explaining to him that I couldn’t accept the employment due to my decreasing condition.
I had lost my job, and my freedom then the biggest heart wrenching feeling came as I was advised that I would need to have a Bone Marrow Transplant or things could become getting a lot more difficult and very quickly, I obviously accepted and now here I am.
Never less the past year hasn’t been all bad, by my side I have had my very own guardian Angel, my beautiful girlfriend Rochelle has stood by me through all the disappointment, all the fear and the increasing feeling of frustrated anticipation as knowledge of the future is out of our reach as human beings. With her help I have managed to stay calm, collected and proactive in my treatment. To date I have had 4 blood transfusions to decrease the risk of heart attacks, organ failure or strokes, as I await for my transplant.
I have been in touch with the Aplastic Anameia Trust, the only charity in the UK that focuses on helping people with this rare disease, as only 150 people are diagnosed in the UK every year. That is equivalent to 2 in 1 million people in the whole Western World. Aplastic Anaemia is a killer, just like cancer, it sucks life away each and everyday and the survivors are truly inspirational people.
I still fight to this day, as the BMT draws ever nearer knowing that at the other side of an email, or a telephone I have someone there for me. But most importantly as my condition continues to get worse my angel is still by my side, hand in hand, until that day when I am better, and I can be the man I always wanted to be too her.
I don’t know if I am a decent writer, but what I know, is that I am not a native English speaker so, please, show some tolerance.
I was about to write for my sexual experiences in Edinburgh as Master student from an exotic foreign and dying country, Greece. But I believe that the writer of ‘’Sex and the City’’ have already done that. And probably they were native American speakers. Anyway, I will share my story with you. I left from Greece to come here and be a neurobiologist. I thought that a master degree from the famous University of Edinburgh would be my passport to amazing research. I wanted to study at University of Edinburgh because of its outstanding educational system, focus on gathering relevant work experience, and your excellent facilities. Moreover, University of Edinburgh is considered worldwide as a center of excellence so it would be an amazing opportunity for me to be part of it. With many distinguished scientists as professors, I knew that I would gain expert knowledge at the forefront of discovery. That’s part of the personal statement I send to (the 100) applications. I hope I will not be charged with plagiarism myself.
As you can see I find it hard to find a PhD or a job relevant to my qualifications and I was really unlucky with my interviews. You see, I am the best second listed candidate ever… How amazing is that from a scale between 0 and 10..? ZERO.. It’s the worst thing in the entire universe. Studying for an interview for hours, for days, go to the interview, rock it and then receive a an email that you have been listed second even if you have been interviewed excellently. . How is the first? What did he/she do better? How can you compete God himself? You can not.. That’s why I start applying for irrelevant jobs. And by that I mean whatever jobs.. I even thought that it would be a good idea to be a personal trainer..
I have curls, you know these massive hairs come out of your head, and I have to shower and brush them every single day if I don’t want to have dreadlocks by the end of the month. Here in UK girls have straight hair so the first thing that a boy notices on me, except my huge but, is my hair. And then of course my beautiful smile, my gorgeous eyes and my deep personality. If we ever get to the point that we actually meet each other and exchange a couple of words. You see I am single the last six years and when I was 18 years old, I made a huge commitment to myself nit to get heart by anyone. Because I cannot stand dramatic situations and I have seen my girlfriends crying and losing weight (which is not that bad especially when you have a huge but) and hairs (which is horrible when you have curls and 90% of the boys especially in U.K are attracted by that figure). So after I made the decision about my future studies, I decided to have fun and be happy. Please, do not think at any point, that I am still a desperate virgin, and the fact that I will write my actual number is irrelevant, or that I got hurt by anyone. My one and only ex-boyfriend was an amazing person that loved my and treated me like a princess, he spoiled me to be honest and he put my standards about relationships very high. For six years, I was having fun (sex is the right word, but I am not sure if saying that is politically correct especially if this will be published). No commitments, no pressure, no tissues on the floor, zero loss of weight and hair.
Then I came to Edinburgh. By the time I touched this land I felt amazing. I had the feeling that I belong here and that this is the place I should be. Fountains of positive emotions and promises of a better future deluge me. Feeling like under the influence of pills, I thought that this is the right place to fall in love, to feel love, to feel that you miss someone and that you want to see him again even if you are apart for 5 minutes, to hold someone’s hand while raining, to hug someone while walking at the Meadows etc. etc. Having all this in mind I first date during summer. Well during July, because for a Greek this is not proper summer, no offence to the brilliant Edinburgh. It’s not that I did not meet anyone before that; it’s just that it did not happen. I think mainly because I was not spending time with any of the guys I met before Z. I like that. It’s mysterious and I it is not the usual X. Because this guy, Z, is far from usual.
So I dated for the first time in my life before a couple of months. It was the very first time that I went out with a guy (not a friend, not a gay guy, not a friend’s recommendation guy) for a drink and then I went home alone having this unspecified feeling which can be more easily described by questions like: Is he going to call me? Should I call him? Maybe I should have kissed him? And all these questions were troubling me because this Z guy did not try to kiss me, or to take me home for ‘’tea’’ or a ‘’movie’’ or whatever. Then we went out for another drink following the exact same pattern: having fun, nice and interesting conversation, flirting a little bit, goodnight and sleep tight. ALONE. I was so confused. That whole procedure was far away from my comfortable zone which involves kissing, sex and then ‘’I have to wake up early tomorrow so could you please leave?’’
The third time we went out, we kissed. Explosions, fireworks, Katy Perry singing the song in my head. This is how I can explain the feeling. I thought this is love. I finally, found love in Edinburgh. God or whoever has this authority, bless this city. Well I saw this guy once or twice more. It is not that we did something wrong it is that it did not work that way I had in mind. So basically he was not the love of my life. But what does that mean? Why we have to find the one and only love of our lives? Especially when we have our lives in front of us. I mean the average age of death is 75 and it increases. Right? I felt amazing for 2 hours, I had butterflies in my stomach (disgusting), my knees were trembling my head was heavy. For these two hours I will always be in love with Z. He was my one and only love for 2 weeks. Now I am not seeing anyone but I am trying to replace this feeling with other extracurricular activities like going out with friends, have fun with them and as cliché as it may sound with small daily miracles (cliché and melodramatic, I could not write something worse than that). What I am trying to say is that we do not need a guy to fill gaps. We have to try to fill these gaps ourselves and then, when we will be 100% sure about what we want a guy will be the extra flavour to an amazing life. And then butterflies and dither will be part of life.
“No One else will ever know the strength of my love for you.. After all you are the only one that knows what my heart sounds like from the inside”
“Always remember, You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think” ― A.A. Milne
“Life doesn’t come with a manual, it comes with a mother”
My mother brought me up as a single Parent, she has always worked full time, and I never remember going a full day, without seeing her. She never complained when I cried for no reason or when i broke her “favorite ornament” .
My mum always gave me the very best that she could, and without her i wouldn’t be the person who i am today, dont get me wrong we never always got on, we had our moments like every other parent and child, but no matter what happens i know that its just a matter of lifting the phone and dialing her number, she will help me in which ever way she can.
Thanks to my mum i now know how to cope with being a single mummy, she is my inspiration.
I sit back and think how hard my mum had it when it really was just me and her, we had some tough times, but mum always got us out of them with her head held high.
This is a thank you to all mums not just mine who care for their children, unconditionally love them, and will do the very best for them.
I hope my children see me even half as good of a mum than what i think of mine, after all i learnt from the best.
“A mother holds her child’s hand for a short while, But their hearts forever”
“Children must be taught , how to think, not what too think”- Margaret Mead