A cuisine of herbs…..

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Herbal Broth

“Men of genius are admired. Men of wealth envied. Men of power feared, but only men of character are trusted.” – Arthur Friedman

Character is not a gift, far from it. It is the end result of a process, and more often the process is back-ended with loads of trying and very frustrating times. However it is in the process that character is formed and from an engineering or building perspective, forming or forging is tasking on both the smithy or technician as well as the object being worked on.

Children are truly precious and even though I have heard many rueful comments concealing wishes that babies would stay babies, there is no negation of their pricelessness. But alas even at that, those wishes are an aberration in life because change is inevitable. Several years ago, I recall trying to explain to my 4yr old daughter why she needed to eat her veggies. It was both amusing and just a tad annoying seeing her with brows puckered in a frown, assiduously separating the veggies from her meal. A couple of months later, with a hard fought win tucked in my belt, I remember her complaining bitterly that she was outgrowing her fancy shoes because she was eating tomatoes. Today, that’s a memory that she vociferously claims never happened.

I have come across some very fascinating people (pretty sure I am listed under that category in someone else’s journals); a chap who believed water was solely to be used in CPAP machines, humidifiers et al, another who believed bread was created specifically for culling the human race. However one thing that acts as a common factor across all types is that regardless of our perspectives, in order for there to be growth, sometimes we have to make some concessions. Growth in itself is not always that process that we so eagerly await because with growth, there’s always some form of discomfort however yin yang is one of the many attempts at explaining the process. Life consists of many exercises encompassing the need to understand and appropriately apply balancing.

Most often, the largest obstacle to our growth is the image staring back at you when you stand alone in front of a mirror. Ignorance has never been the best of reasons for the mistakes we often make because we are humans however embracing knowledge is setting ourselves free. No matter how hard we battle with the process, we just have to delve deep into that herbal broth because therein lies the very nutrients we need to grow. The more of a struggle we put up, the more exhausted we become and the more of a delay we unknowingly throw in our own journey. Understanding all things is impossible but in order for us to move on, we must embrace hope, trust and faith in The One who we owe everything to.

Right now, it’s quite a struggle for me, because having a sprained shoulder definitely gives me no edge over dystonia. However it has forced me to search out untried ways of reaching my milestones and attaining objectives. In this season, I have had to remind myself that although herbs might be bitter, I had rather look beyond the bitterness and dwell rather on the intrinsic positives that come with ingesting them. Trying to make head of everything at this moment would simply be an exercise in abject futility and so I am yet again reminding myself that waiting might seem pointless but there’s so much more going on that remains unseen. Someday, like the phenomenon of the Chinese bamboo, there would be a visible and significant change in who and what I am today.

Engaging in battles with myself when I so obviously do not have all the answers is not moving on. For there to be a move in the right direction, sometimes we just have to admit that although we have the vision, there’s also the undeniable truth that time and chance happens to everyone. Every life; a piece in the puzzle of God’s masterplan, we each must apply ourselves to the circumstances we find ourselves because in doing that, we do not only recognize divinity but we also positively affect the lives around us. Our positions today are a function of the lives before us and so selflessly we ought to also pay it forward. Ridding ourselves of every bit of resentment and bitterness that we allow build up in the face of opposition is usually a step in the right direction, because failing to do that irreparably hurts us and self-inflicted wounds attest to ignorance, naivety and sometimes just plain old stupidity on our part.

No battles have been won without making room for a retreat when the horns sound. And yes, most battles are won by the side that stays longest in their trenches because sometimes all that is needed is to hunker down when the barrage seems unrelenting and wait for the silence and peace that is the prelude to the joys of victory. In our frenetic lives, we get so enamored with the society’s definition of success that we fail to realize that we are trampling underfoot the very herbs we need for nourishment and growth. And so when we are falling headfirst into the chasm that signals burnout, then we realize the utter folly of our wrong choices. Failure to recognize the need for reassessment, rest and a possible detour is entirely nobody else’s fault but ourselves.

Trying new and unfamiliar ways do not in anyway portend emasculation, rather it is the highly undervalued second opportunity that we so urgently require. Today represents another opportunity to realign ourselves with our purpose, today represents another call to wait in trust because His Promises are true and infallible. Though they tarry, they are in no way having the similitude of or are they denials. With the patience of the lapidarist, a trait that comes with discipline, we must be thankful for what we have before us. And when we start to entertain doubts regarding the safety found in the multitude of counsel, there’s One Counsel that is completely devoid of the slightest of shadows.

Nourishment is not fast food engorgement, and whilst the latter is so easily available, the truth is that the herbal broth (though plain looking and bland tasting) is what is needed to initiate the growth needed to occupy the next season in our lives. For us to grow above and beyond today’s bleakness, there has to be an acceptance that every experience can either be a stepping stone or just another stone in the wall that further shuts out the glimmer of tomorrow’s riches. I choose to make mine a stepping stone and even in the silence of being different, I am thoroughly convinced that when the night seems to embody just weeping, surely joy and growth comes with the morning.

Remember, rather than complain about the thorns among the roses, be thankful for the roses among the thorns!

עד ניפגש שוב, תן אהבה שלו למלא ולשמור אותך!

Adios!

The Flip Side…..

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Age, my dad once said(still hear him) is a matter of the mind. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter. Now that I’m on the back end of my race, I appreciate the wisdom within those words however reality bites just when you think you are all alone. It’s the wee hours of my birthday and it’s quite surreal because the silence of the night can either be unnerving or welcome. For me, it has always been the latter and the ticking of the clock reminds me that time inevitably continues its passage and with its passage comes the realization that being alone is not always dreary or boring. I do apologize for the long break however writing without a suitable device can be a turn-off.

I have absolutely no regrets because every time life tries to make me accede to regrets, I choose instead to see a learning point. My life sometimes feels like a hospital corridor, busy during the day and as the day winds down so does the traffic till eventually it is just devoid of human presence. The flip side is not the predictability but rather the incongruous relationship between the interaction that occurs during the day and the silence of the night to muse over. So much to muse about and quite a lot probably still left to do however I’ve learned that life is best lived when you acknowledge that all we have is a collection of moments. Some seized hurriedly, others like the fermenting of wine gradually but surely assuming shape and content.

Contentment is one of those words that should not be used lightly because you can put up a facade resembling it and yet without an iota of doubt, you know that much effort can be applied to things that really do not matter. The worst thing a man can do to himself is convince himself fo believe in a made-up lie. Does the sun cast its warmth and glow on a select few? Do the stars twinkle for just a select few? No, it is our choices in response to the fluid constants of life that determines how much we are committed to being purposeful. Does time and the light of day wait for the man who slumbers all day? Undeniably, he who chooses to toil at night most likely has his own reasons.

I am thankful for the lives I’ve been blessed to encounter. Grateful for the opportunity to empathize with those who continuously battle the demon hordes of sickness, pain and death. To every season, there is always the start and the finish. Where you decide to stack your chips is a choice you have to make yourself otherwise you face an absolutely horrifying life of trying unsuccessfully to make sense of the choices you inadvertently allowed others make for you. I made my own choices and true, not all were right however I did it my own way. There is truly beauty in brokenness and as long as I put the brokenness in retrospect, I can focus on the beauty.

For me, this is a new year and today as always, I reassess and reevaluate, not for lack of activities but rather to ensure that I am still aligned with my identity and purpose. I know that there can be no darkness without light, so I choose to look for the light even when the darkness threatens to overwhelm me. It will never be about how far but rather how well and with that in mind, I choose to wear myself out as against rusting out. No man, to the best of my puny knowledge, has had it all nicely put together like a rubic cube. Regardless of the roughness or smoothness of my path, I choose to make it a path well walked and with every new day, I choose not to give up. And when those times come again when I’m all alone (because they must surely come), I can encourage myself by saying, “I did it my own way!”

Adios!

Judgement

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My Life With A Movement Disorder

I hate when people are put in boxes. When they are overgeneralized as lazy, unintelligent, worthless or any other adjective you can think of. We tend to want to put anyone who is different from us into a category that is lesser. We most often either judge someone and do nothing or judge and try to help. I don’t believe either is okay. Doing nothing is simply uncaring and unloving. Trying to help on the other hand is generally just to inflate our own ego’s. When we try to help someone we try to make them into a morally better person which too often is just a version of ourselves. Before writing someone off as hopeless or in need of your help, first try to understand where they are coming from.

I’m a white, middle class, male who lives in a society dominated by white males. I know little of…

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Bon Anniversaire!

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“In the ladder of lives we are given to climb, each life counts for only a second of time. The only one thing to do in that brief little space is to make the world glad that we ran the race.” – E.W Wilcox

Chronicles Of A Dystonia Muse

14605022_s editedA year ago today I pressed the publish button on my newly created, blissfully pink WordPress site, a simple motion that shook my very core with far greater velocity than Dystonia. I’d embraced a new self-view removing shame from my equation, embarking upon an exploration of alien territories within myself and new roadmaps to human understanding.

My blog marked the end of one odyssey and the beginning of another, perhaps even more transformative than the first. I set out with lofty goals – no less than unburdening my soul, sharing deeply felt insights and describing my strange disorder without it sounding like a virulent medical horror, starting with the post pinned to the top of this site. I ventured into foreign lands endlessly more foreboding than the manipulative villain lurking in my brain. I’ve tackled my deepest nightmares of how I might present to others, wildly misplaced self-phobias, misinformed perceptions of disability, even notions…

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MY JOURNEY…….

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This is going to be like a journal of some sorts and as the word goes, it is an expression of my various encounters and my continued triumph over the neurological disorder termed dystonia. For the benefit of the countless who are still  ignorant, remember that the message is always in the details. DYSTONIA IS NOT A DISEASE, IT IS A degenerative DISORDER! And going by the dictionary definition, a disorder is a physical condition in which there is a disturbance of normal functioning while a disease is an impairment of health usually caused by a pathogen. Kindly desist from making some of us pull out our hair in frustration and it is worse when confused by a medical practitioner who ought to be in tune with dynamism that accompanies everything in life, careers and professions inclusive.

Which reminds me of a hilarious episode in a divorce proceedings which I am keenly following whenever possible. The parties in dispute are individuals just like you and I, and as the case where maturity usually precedes the natural bestial nature of man, the man has opted to seek redress and dissolution by going through the appropriate channels whilst the woman, a self acclaimed and proven pseudologist, (note that not every female is a lady) despite being an epitome of shamelessness and a walking catastrophe cannot but revert to being bestial irrespective of her ‘decent’ origins. Well that said for the two, the counsel representing the woman (again note that birds of similar plumage can only flock together) was so severely trounced by his counterpart – a younger attorney with decades separating them in terms of practice that it was actually bemusing to be reminded that stagnancy in life is worse than being dead.

No matter how hard truth seeks to be muffled, in the end, freedom and true liberation comes only from acceptance and acknowledgement of the truth. As we watch with bated breath, the health struggles of Mandiba, the legacies fought for and left behind can never be eroded. That the actions of a simple illiterate black lady who refused to submit to the oppressions of apartheid has become one of the most notable events in black Africa only drives home the point that in every one of us lies the resolve to make a difference in the world. If each one of us can tell ourselves that truth, then what a wonderful world we will live in. A simple black African-American Minister, just like anyone of us dreamers dared to be different and today, decades after his demise, his words still ring loud and true.

As I contemplate on the events going on in my life, and the seeming uncertainty of the future, I can still proclaim that there is hope as long as you can dare to grasp it. Angelina Jolie, in yet one of her sterling performances in “Changeling” ended the movie with these lines…….’now I have gotten something I have always looked for. HOPE’. What else do we live for but hope that there will be a better tomorrow? What else will make a previously healthy individual, now seemingly bested  by dystonia, still able to make his voice heard and proclaim to as many that life is not determined by the state of your physical condition but by the strength of your spirit. And what determines the strength of your spirit, is the source of your strength. I know what my source is and I choose Him over and over again.

Little gestures of kindness, a friendly pat on the back, a friendly smile are inexpensive acts which cost us nothing but are received with much appreciation. I made a new friend in Zimbabwe and her husband is dystonic, and all she needed were just a few words and some empathy because whether we like it or not, irrespective of what we are going through, there is always strength to offer a helping hand. What helping hand have you offered in the past twenty-four hours? How many words have you directed towards someone on the other end of the divide? What act of kindness have you shown someone else apart from yourself in the past twenty-four hours? These are the very things by which our own lives will be measured at the end of all things because it is not so much as how much you intend to but what you really get done that matters.

One of my very good friends, Hody is finally getting married and I celebrate with her because hers is a story of choosing to triumph over life’s unfairness. In as much as she can look back at it all with a strength of spirit formed over the years, I can attest to this fact that we are the only ones who can change our lives however we should not be content with just our lives but endeavour to reach that one person who is also going through stuff. Hody, knowing you has been a privilege indeed and just like you always say, remember to do whatever makes you sleep at night especially as you wade the waters to begin a new life with your physician and teamie.

I am seeing a new Neurologist in a couple of days and as I anxiously prepare for that meeting, I know that my choices have already been made. For the rest of us out there, who are contemplating life’s sometimes aggravating tantrums, remember that the will to live is also a choice but the passion to dare to be different is a battle that will be continually fought and even now, you can determine to be the winner because the truth is that the victory has already been won, it is now up to you to cease that victory or continue to wallow in the squalor that life has tossed you into. Get out of the muck and live a life of purpose.

I leave you with the words of Johann Gottfried Von Herder, “Without inspiration, the best powers of the mind remain dormant. There is a fuel in us which needs to be ignited with sparks.” Do yourself a world of good and inspire yourself, utilize the best powers of your mind and dare to be you.

Also remember………………we were made to live for His pleasure and not just exist.

 פרידהעדשנפגששובחבריםיקרים ….

Adios!

BE DIFFERENT!

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DIFFERENTIt is yet another beautiful day as I look out my windows and just enjoy the stillness of the moment. To many, it is just another day but for a few, it is a new day completely replete with its own portion of ups and downs, joys and despair, achievements and failures – summarily it is a different day. With a temperature of 17oc, it is truly an amazing day to possibly get atop a power bike and let your hair down even as the wind courses through your hair and reminds you with startling clarity that you are alive in today. Remember that today was yesterday’s tomorrow so if for nothing at all, bask in the fact that you made it through.

I recall vividly with a smile creasing the corners of my mouth, one of the very first lessons instilled in me by arguably one of the greatest men that has walked and is still walking the earth. My father! “Always remember that the greatest battle we all have to fight is to constantly be ourselves in a world that persistently and consistently wants to make you someone else.”

Now, I can understand the meaning of every word in that sentence and wish today to share it with you even as you take out time to go through this piece. Of-course, there are a million and one things vying for your attention but Opportunity Cost….right? As at the last time, I paid attention, it was said that billions of humans inhabit the earth and guess what, there are no two identical humans. Siamese twins? Nope, I am getting down to the nitty gritty of high school biology – the chromosomes and genetic make-up can never be the same. In other words, there are billions of different humans inhabiting this earth and so the questions comes a-begging, why settle for something less than who you were made to be? Different.

Last night, I watched Piers Morgan as he gave room for David Cook (I think) to let us into his mind (he is presently incarcerated for life for murdering both his parents) and what really stunned me was when he was given the opportunity to reach out to those who could be contemplating similar acts. In his words, ‘I know what you may be going through right now, and the events that may be pushing you to take that plunge. I can assure you that I have been there and it is not worth it……..’ Now that brief clip reminds me yet again that irrespective of the circumstances life seems to always leave you in, there is the issue of making choices. And because we are made to be different, we all have to make different choices.

Now one of the ‘beautiful’ things about being dystonic, is that without seeking my consent, I am compelled to be different; the very thing I have always strove to be. Now it makes me doubly different, isn’t that just a blessing. And even with this incapacitating pain that recently began on my right foot and the traction devices that I wear regularly to ease the cervical tremors and the pains of sitting and/or standing (I only need a costume to complete the look because the world really needs super heroes). Living with dystonia is a blessing in disguise, funny right, considering that there are only about 70,000 UK residents living with dystonia so that makes us a small community and being able to be on the same page with even a tenth of that is simply an awesome opportunity and a unique pedestal to reach across and touch the lives of just a few persons beginning with that one person.

Why are we so scared to be different? What prevents us from daring to be different? Care to know what my answer is? Nobody or nothing, just YOU. I was talking with an old high school mate and making him aware of dystonia and as he was expressing sincere concern for my well being, I reminded him that sometimes, especially when least expected, life has the funny habit of throwing you a curved ball and you had better swing as hard as you can because that ball just has to be dealt with. And mind you, those balls are hard and can really hurt when taken in the face of the body. So keep swinging, practice makes improvement.

Vivian Stanshall captures it so succinctly in these words I’m not different for the sake of being different, only for the desperate sake of being myself. I can’t join your gang: you’d think I was a phony and I’d know it.” Now what better way to express life’s greatest battle – a desperate fight to be different, heck! That is how you were made. The worst life lived is being on the band wagon with everyone else, you do have company and you are just another face in the crowd but then what happens to the real you. Sucks! Why not dare to be yourself? Be proud of who you are because these days, if you don’t blow your trumpet (by being yourself), someone else is going to take that unused trumpet from your limp hands and blow it for himself.

Begin today when you arise from your bed or wherever you passed the night and look yourself in the eye – use a mirror or get to the nearest puddle, and behold an astonishing Masterpiece. If the Louvre in France can hold such a collection of acclaimed masterpieces created by individuals just like you, what prevents you from creating your own niche regardless of how small it may be? The world is large enough for everyone and sometimes when I pass by the cemetery, I wonder how many undiscovered geniuses are entombed there with nothing but just a few words etched on their headstones and some distant memories left behind with just a few persons. You can begin today, but remember that even as kids, your first fistfights hurt like nothing you were prepared for. So be prepared, this is a fight that is going to call upon every lesson that you learnt or should have learnt along the way.

For many of us, Elijah Woods is just a kid but hear what he has to say (which again reminds me that age and wisdom are not directly proportional) “I think being different, going against the grain of the society is the greatest thing in life”…hmmm! Age is indeed just a number, what counts for us are the amounts of trials we have gone through and emerged scarred but triumphant. Today, we are yet again faced with a choice. Deeply contemplate these, the choice to be you, different and unique or to be just another fleeting memory in the minds of a few. There is the choice today, to dust yourself up and start to live a life. The greatest tool in the world lies within you, remember that centuries ago, people just like us without the most obsolete equipment but just their hands almost put up the world’s tallest building. They wanted to be different, what is that thing preventing you from reaching out and changing lives for good, starting with that one person.

As I exchange experiences with my friends all over the world living with dystonia, my message remains the same – We are the ones responsible for making the choice to live a life that counts despite the handicaps and limitations we face. Nobody can change your life for you, only you can. And it must begin with a critical self assessment of who you really are and even if I have never met you before, I can say this about you – there is just one of you and that makes you THE ONE (like Keanu Reeves role in the Matrix). Make the right choices, ascertain what you were created for and plunge into that uncharted territory. You are a winner, I am rooting for you.

And remember………………we were made to live for His pleasure and not just exist.

 פרידהעדשנפגששובחבריםיקרים ….

Adios!

Success???

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Mark Twain wrote this ‘Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect’. Kinda whimsical, many would say but right on point I opine. There is a long list of words that even though they lack the property of malleability, have been persistently knocked out of shape so as to suit the whims of varying categories of individuals. Awakening this morning to the beautiful sound of rain falling, the glistening drops of each pearl of water collectively falling upon the good, the bad and ugly – one cannot help but contemplate on the mysteries of life. Why do good things happen to bad people? Why is it that success seems to favour but a few? What is so alluring about success that makes her twin; failure an orphan? To get a better perspective, I checked and affirmed that the etymology of the word is from the Latin phrase succedere ‘going beneath’ which has metamorphosed into the word ‘success’ which means ‘not going under’. Now the question arises, under what? Who sets the benchmark? For me, the answer is as clear as the glistening drops of rain falling from the sky…..YOU DO!

If you have been to the Victoria Station or Oxford Street, you literally can lose a child if you are not firmly attached to her. Even on the escalators, those of us who are no longer as nimble have to keep to the right except you want to hear ‘get out of the way mate’ in that beautiful London accent and with all the hustle and bustle, you can only but contemplate the varying driving motives behind all the rush. Life is to be lived and the resources to sustain ourselves abound all around us and whilst we adhere to the infallible instruction of ‘he that does not work must not eat’, I tend to draw the line between being enslaved by our ambitions to the detriment of all else. For me, the question we all ought to ask ourselves is who is really in charge of our drive and if the answer is a hesitant yes, then take a moment to really hear me out. Being successful is a function of who sets the benchmark for you and if you did set the benchmark, what else have you sacrificed at the altar of that benchmark.

Living in London has been so enlightening because irrespective of whether you are in the top echelons of society or at the bottom rungs, there are always the bills to be met and so being in a situation of utter dependence on others is certainly not a viable choice for many of us. Yet again, what are the needs of man? And if we acknowledge that our wants are insatiable then why do we choose to esteem our wants higher than all else? I remember being introduced to the subject of Economics prior to my seating for my O’levels and what really intrigued me was the topic on Opportunity Cost. For everything we aspire for or aim to attain, there is something else less prioritized and the issue is what do we give up to meet the distorted use of the word Success. Right outside my windows is a birch tree, and every morning without fail, the twitter of the birds remind me that no matter how hard I strive, true freedom is in the ability to do those things that I would love to do without fear or favour even as they remind me that my value is worth more than one of those cheery winged friends and yet without ceasing, they have something to always be thankful for.

Now, being a success in life is contextual but for me, I dare to say that, take a glance at both your arms because right at the end of those arms or arm are the very things that you should be most thankful for. You are a determinant of who you want to be, whether employed or not, salary earner or not, wage earner or not, it is the satisfaction of being content at the end of every day. Delighting not in the fact that you have finished a day’s work but that you have been able to accomplish something worthwhile not just in your own life but in the life of the very people around you.

The Word says that an infidel is one who is unable to cater for his family. What then do you need to cater for your loved ones? It is the ability to share a word of upliftment with a loved one who seems low, being free to share your time with them, enjoy peace and joy with them because love cannot be bought and a meal of herbs eaten in a happy home is a better treat than a banquet in a mansion shadowed by strife and inordinate desires. Freely we have received; freely we also ought to give. Behind many of those gild gated mansions are a world of chaos, spite and longing. As you desire that Ferrari or Cadillac roaring past, be glad for the fact that even whilst on the bus – you are happy and content. Aspire for the very things that matter in life, friends.

As I struggle to put my words down in meaningful order, I remember some new friends I have made along the way. Being able to make them understand what dystonia is and hearing them say I am an inspiration to them is one of the greatest joys that I get to receive in daily doses. Amidst the hurts and pain and sometimes apprehension, lies a spirit that acknowledges that it is not about my status in life but what I am able to do with those I am privileged to encounter. That for me, truly defines how successful a life one is living. Just like the little puppy that was chasing its tail in circles, so many of us are sacrificing everything meaningful to reach for that which is already ours. Just live your life with a purpose and success will truly follow you.

My friend, Jess is in Malaysia on holidays and we all partook in the countdown because life consists of these little moments where we can truly spread our hands and exhilarate in the beauty all around us. Dystonia or not, we are committed to living and not just living but living a fulfilling life. I look around me and I see not just obstacles in my way but the opportunity to put a smile on someone else’s face. I see the opportunity not to be stared at with pity but an opportunity to bolster someone’s spirit that despite how unfair you think life has been to you, your very life is a success story if you choose to make it one. I want to end with this challenge to you “BE DIFFERENT!”

And remember………………we were made to live for His pleasure and not just exist.

 פרידהעדשנפגששובחבריםיקרים ….

Adios!