Walk with me awhile……

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Please walk with me….

“We learn something from everyone who passes through our lives. Some lessons are painful, some are painless…but all are priceless.” – Anon E. Moss

There is the familiar story about not knowing contentment in life that has birthed the age old idiom, ‘the grass on the other side always looks greener’ and sometimes we actually and with real intent blur the lines differentiating reality and our fantasies. However life with inevitability brings us around, sometimes dragging us on our butts to acknowledge that there is more to life than positive talk, reciting mantras or forwarding stuff that has a silly condition at the end. Yes, we are saddled with responsibilities every day that we arise but when we align the fact that our being alive today is simply a reaffirmation of the truth that God is not yet through with us then we can truly be grateful for the many blessings we receive (and oft take for granted) or else why are we still here? To live is Christ, to die is gain is a very weighty statement but that is simply truth in its plainest form.

A couple of days ago, I actually felt that I had touched the gold paved cobblestones of heaven because unfortunately the past few days have not just been torrid but have been progressively chronicling a decline in my health. Six months ago, I had a bad fall and sustained significant injuries to my right shoulder (rotator cuff) and just having to deal with myoclonus each day is a full-time career on its own, adding a torn rotator cuff was just adding more to an already overflowing bowl. With the same doggedness that is characteristic with faith, I continue; choosing every day to be thankful for something at the very least. Against what I term my fundamental values, a friend set up a GoFundme campaign because in his words, sometimes we just have to let go and let ‘friends’ and others help. After the dismal campaign ran for a month or two, he had to shut it down as requested by me because we do not decide the paths or channels from where our relief will come from. It is and will always be about His timing – He does make all things beautiful in HIS TIME!

Being the proud father of an amazing daughter, whose life all on its own is simply a testament to God’s sovereignty, I am more than just a soccer dad. Despite the frailties of this body, I tend to want to push the envelope just a tad more. Well, the fall was a result of attempting to push the envelope and even though she bosses and fusses over me, I still know that there are a couple of things I can still do because our children are the best gifts that Heaven has in its store and so I am never going to let a white flag hang from my doorway with regards to issues pertaining to Heaven’s precious gifts. Again, I am a firm advocate of taking care of your body but sometimes it is easier said or written and most times it just goes awry however it is either of two options – Let go entirely and Let God or delude yourself into believing that you have when you truly haven’t.

Well I am still a work-in-progress and tenacity still means loads to me, but ironically where that tenacity is applied also matters. Against plain common sense, a couple of days ago, I dropped my cane in a bid to help her during her training and that was like a culmination of everything bad – the lack of sleep, the rigors of just being fairly active for consecutive days et al. During the night, I was seized with the most severe episode of dystonia – tremors so intense that the king-sized bed was literally absorbing and trying unsuccessfully to contain all that energy, pain so intense that curling into a fetal position did nothing to help, tears of utter helplessness cascading down my cheeks as I prayed believing it was my last along with that scary feeling that I tend to describe as my brain over-heating because as always it was doing the processing and still firing away on all cylinders. I remember telling myself that this was what the end feels like….

….definitely one of the worst storms but from force of habit, I clung to every promise that applies to me – knuckles whitened from clutching hard, I was able to ride out the storm not by my own strength (that really does not mean so much to me anymore) but because my story is yet to be concluded. In retrospect and as I continue the long and difficult task of recuperating, I bear no angst. No hard feelings for those who in their ivory castles feel comfortable and secure. No hard feelings for those who believe that it is a fair trade to copy and paste a prayer as against doing something more tangible. No hard feelings for those whose ignorance make them all the more ludicrous, no feelings of resentment directed to the world because I know that what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. And even though the furnace be stoked more than usual, I choose to be hurled without a fight into the fires confident that God’s got me; acknowledging that His ways differ from mine and so I know that salvation will come.

Salvation not by my own understanding or standard, but rather salvation as dictated by Him with the end result being that I will emerge at the other end so much better than before the journey through the fires. And whilst the waves billow high and angry, and this vessel gets more battered, I choose to make each moment count. Regardless of the darkness that creeps like a smothering garment blocking out the stars of the night, I know that there is still going to be light once this night is over. And so I hold on, not because of the medication that miraculously never completely runs out (even when the funds do) or the fact that there will always be help raised up on my behalf, but rather because I know that there is that one life that will draw a second wind to continue pressing on just by reading my story. There is that one life that was just about to succumb to the darkness and let the little light be snuffed out, that is why I hold on. For every point I get to on my journey, I learn some more and apply that faith that recognizes not only that He exists but that He is also with me through it all. He is more than the worst of storms and withersoever He leads, I submit.

For as long as this breath courses through my lungs, I choose to be a pineapple, standing tall, wearing a crown and being sweet on the inside. Remember that you cannot start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one.

פרידה עד שנפגשנו שוב בתזמון שלו, וייתכן שאהבתו של אלוהים להיות אמיתית לך!

Adios!

The reverberation of silence…..

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Silence!

“Be (known as) a person of persistence and endurance. One person with persistence, commitment and endurance will accomplish more than a thousand people with interest alone.” – J. Mason

When and where we are birthed is not a decision that provides room for our opinions to weigh in. We emerge, most times, angry at the doctor or nurse who swatted our bum while we also vociferously complain at the change in our residing address. That really does nothing to the process of childbirth and/or family building, we eventually get to accept (some of us pretty early and others pretty late) that there are things/events we can change and others that would be a manifestation of sheer naivety and wrongful application of energy were we to attempt changing them. That’s where serenity comes to play, giving us peace to go through those events we have no control over however wisdom is a prerequisite to enable us tell the difference.

I recall my first solo Christian outreach as a University graduate some 16years ago and was it an eye opener indeed. Not only did it satisfy my urge to go to new places but it also made me realize that entitlement is a unique word and not the very best to use in our common, everyday conversations. There I was, in a little village populated by about 100 families who had chosen to question the predominant religion. No schools, no water, no electricity but all around them these same ‘necessities’ were available to others, a reward for their conformity and reliable apprehension at rocking the boat. I juggled having summer classes, learning the language, helping on farms and talking about intangible treasures that are stoutly backed by infallible and unbreakable promises. Talking about streets of gold to someone who had never seen an asphalt road is not just a gigantic stretch in imagination but it also kindles hope, strength of purpose and incomprehensible peace.

Trust is something that is inevitable to life. From the moment you open your eyes to a new day to the moment you shut them at the end is a journey of faith. You unknowingly believe that you will live, you believe the atmosphere can sustain your respiratory system, you believe that your feet will hold you up……you believe without an iota of doubt because that’s what science says. Who made science? There is always a source, an origin if we choose to apply ourselves to searching however there will always be the plethora of unanswered questions that make life more of a mystery than just a monotonous exercise. And those unanswered questions, we believe will be answered someday. That in a nutshell was one of the minor reasons that made me enjoy my stay and plan another visit the next summer.

On the faces of children and adults, I could see contentment and unbridled joy because they chose not to dwell on their lack (they were not anticipating a turn around so soon or the coming of a messiah) but rather focus on The One who holds all of life in His hands. They could relate with that! They could relate with the fact that life in itself is a season, and just like every agricultural community, they understood seasons – every season begins and ends someday. From the starry eyed kids in their worn-out clothing to the fierce gleam of defiance in the eyes of adults, I learned that what we need the most in life is companions that are eager and willing to walk some way with us as we journey through life. And not just any company but the distinct few who walk in agreement with us, come rain or scorching heat. I learned the beauty of silence, not the silence of indifference and nonchalance, but the silence that brings the realization of our existence as humans devoid of all the frenzy of the big cities and wholly dependent on Our Creator.

Like Spinoza says, “no matter how thin a slice is, there will always be two sides.” We may choose to butter both sides and deal with ensuring we don’t get dirt on our faces and clothing or we may choose to be thankful for that slice regardless of the availability of butter or not. I recalled this life changing experience because once again, I’m embarking on something completely foreign to me as I grapple with dystonia. An entirely unprecedented chain of events for those who know me just a bit. However with a life as unique as mine, you develop the knack of ignoring the bumps (& associated pain) from the thrown lemons and focus on making some lemonade. It’s not just trying to survive (a puny task I dare to opine), it is instead recognizing the circumstance and adapting to ensure your purpose is not derailed. The purpose always counts, and what we put in today and tomorrow will always determine if we are striving for excellence or just pretending to enjoy (while cringing internally in absolute terror) the waters as we are hurled along in no direction by the strong currents of life.

…..and you are???

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends” – MLK Jr. No life can be lived in isolation and although we do not get to pick our families but we do get to pick our friends, and yet again we believe that most of them will be there for the long haul despite the occasional squabbles. The journey we all embark on will have its fair share of storms, and sometimes during those storms, what we crave the most from our friends is not just a deluge of words alone but sometimes that walm hand that is quietly slipped into your hand, reassuring you that you are not alone. So many times, we are so unsettled by the silence that we fail to see and appreciate how consistent and little our true friends are. Their actions are not preceded by a definitely not-so eloquent speech or a forwarded ‘do not break the chain’ prayer (insincere and bothersome). True friends are found in the silence.

However there will be those times when ego has even gone to ground (for fear of identifing with you) and your outstretched hand is completely ignored. It is in those times that silence, if permitted, becomes a complete set of percussion instruments all wailing in discordance. That is when silence becomes a banshee whose voice threatens your peace of mind. It is that silence that cuts the most deeply, leaving a wound that may seemingly never heal. And still, even as the silence reverberates all around you, there is still a choice to be made – give into the insanity that the cruel, intentional silence of friends offer or find that quiet place deep in the recesses of your mind where no hand can touch. Retreat there to ponder on the fact that life is a process and it is the approval and relationship of God that counts the most. On the many occasions when friends align with the enemy through their silence and it becomes nigh impossible to differentiate friend from foe, then you are forced to remind yourself that no man has a plan that makes total provision for you, it is then you just must find Him.

I learned from that first experience, even in the silence, beauty can still exist. When the words from the lips of companions are like the falling of brown leaves, lifeless, insincere and meaningless. When their gestures threaten to extinguish the sliver of light you have because their intent is not to act but to be seen as being active. It is in times like these that I cling fervently to the promises of a good God who is not man that He would dare cast shadow on His Word. I remember that it is not the seeming abundance (just provocatively beyond your grasp) around you that counts but the ability to bask in what you have been blessed with; hope, purpose and a destination, that is what counts when the silence descends on you.

Remember, We need to find God, and He cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.” – Mother Teresa

עד ניפגש שוב, תן אהבה שלו למלא ולשמור אותך!

Adios!

In the stillness…

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Be Still

There will always be that time when it seems like I can barely escape the shadows. When all else quietens, and the sound of my beating heart reverberates through the silence. It is in those times that I reminisce on the topsy turvy of the journey I call my life’s tale and find true beauty in the ashes.

From the plucky little chap in his bright shorts and shirt, tugging on the leash of my toy doggie; Snoopy. The world in all of its enormity, a conquest to be had with nothing looking remotely like an obstacle. I remember how much of a daredevil I was, mischief twinkling in my eyes with hands and feet that couldn’t stay still for long. Searching for and accepting the craziest dares, it looked like I was invisible but life is a mystery box and when jack pops up – it is either of two options, a heart attack or a rush of adrenaline. Regardless of how neatly life appeared, a neatly stacked line of dominoes, nothing really prepares you for the uncertainties.

Even through high school, when friends were made anew with a promise of always being there, life was like a walk in the amusement park with a pocketful of quarters. Never hungry or butt naked, every phase was a trail to attaining a milestone and life was truly beautiful. Sneaking through the pantry with mother’s catering books, whipping out pastries and trying out recipes, nothing could possibly have been better. However there’s always going to be that turn in the road, when visibility is so limited and despite how hard one tries, you cannot see beyond the turn. Stopping, getting down and re-evaluating is not always feasible especially when the thrill of the ride is euphoric.

I remember the concussion I suffered when in my haste (why I always ran is still unfathomable) I ran through the discus sector and got hit by the discus. I remember having my fair share of being picked on and childhood fights. I remember walking home in tattered clothes because my ‘experiment’ blew up in my face and gave me 2nd degree burns (earning the nickname Acidman). I remember being so sick only to find out I had weird allergies. I remember witnessing a nurturing home and loving relationship being torn apart by folly and the influence of wrong company. I remember my first automobile accident, tumbling over and over. I remember being shot at. I remember waking up one night unable to breathe, the race to the ER. I remember journeys to strange places and encounters best left unshared. …….but I survived because of God’s mercy and love.

I recall the university years, being the enigma to many even as I sought to stay true to myself. Plunging headfirst into as many events as I could, getting the down side of misplaced priorities when I chose to continue my internship despite the fact that lectures had commenced. Grateful for the fact that I could be the ear to those in need, a shoulder to cry on for the broken and the elixir for the depressed. Life was beautiful indeed and with the mixture of highs and low, exhilarating describes it best. Graduating from university and going off to the unknown, I knew I would survive because that was just who I was. A blend of healthy spiritual fundamentals and a healthy body, I blossomed within an awesome relationship with God. I was prepared for anything!

Commencing my work career, I thought I had it all planned out and even when I dropped the white collar job for a stint in the military, the confusions of many was the least of my worries. Parenthood was another season and as always I had it all planned out in my head. Setting up a trust for tuition, acquiring what I wanted, it was all going well but it’s in our nature to plan however it is God who decides. Knowing I had that relationship served as a buffer when things went south occasionally, however I had been raised to believe in myself and so I always did. Just when it seemed like I had it all together, life happened. Series of events that I never imagined started unfolding bringing to fore the idiom, ‘when it rains, it pours!’

The culmination of a life in tatters was in December 2011, all around me that carefully built life in heaps of wreckage and just like a skilled burglar, night had suddenly and swiftly crept up on me. Struggling with those fiercely entwining tendrils of darkness, it was a struggle to make head of it all. And each time, I chose to head for the light, the darkness just got longer. This was no medical condition, this was my life now, almost completely subjected to the dictates of the rare, incurable neurological condition termed dystonia. Then it hit me right in the gut; there were no voices lifted in celebration to be heard, no hand to lift me up, no strength to light a match. This was now my life, like a pariah condemned to dwell outside the city walls, isolation was a welcome thing. However, we are a result of our choices and so I learned to bargain with an adroitness I never knew existed. Learned to lace my own shoes with brow furrowed in pain, every little gesture a battle of wits, things previously taken for granted were now things I had to relearn. Circumventing steps to conserve my little energy, being the object of compassion either as I was wheeled in a chair or as I struggled to make my way home leaning heavily on my cane.

In the stillness, my eyes slowly adapted to the darkness and my ears became attuned to the groans of those fallen around me. This was my life but still there was a purpose to it and regardless of the absence of ‘friends’ or ‘family’, one truth stood out; this was my life and so every choice I made had to count. When the cold hands of depression sought to console me, I chose to shrug them off and in the stillness, I found hope that I hitherto believed was lost. I found friends who became brothers and I realized that purpose is not shaped by your experiences rather it is given more clarity during those experiences. Today, I am not just a survivor but I am a victor because even though I have been scorched by the flames, I am now stronger just by the process of walking through the raging flames.

It is in the stillness that you learn some of the hardest lessons, letting go of pride and ambition whilst embracing compassion and aspiration. It is in the stillness that I have learned that my life is not dictated by the size of material wealth but by the riches of intangible values. It is in the stillness, empathy assumes meaning and pain can be shared. I have known abundance and lack, however I have also learned that contentment is wanting what you have, kindness is giving when all else is screaming, ‘save for the rainy day’. It is in the stillness that I have learned that it is better standing in the rain with a friend or someone in need than struggling not to get wet beneath a poncho. In the stillness, I have learned what true strength is, what trusting God means and what living actually means.

Sticks, stones and words will hurt but the resilience of the human spirit is so much more greater. That is what will define you when all else has gone silent. That is what nothing can take away from you except you choose to let it go. It is all about the stillness….

עד ניפגש שוב, תן אהבה שלו למלא ולשמור אותך!

Adios!

Be Strengthened…..

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He leads meIMG_0381

A friend recently commented on how emotional she feels when she reads my posts and uncharacteristically requested that I write a happy post. Happiness and Sadness, Joy and sorrow, Riches or poverty, life and death….these are like the two sides of a coin. It is what makes the balance in life, knowing that no matter how thin a slice of bread is, there will always be two sides. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death” is a declaration based on divine revelation. Many would, if presented with the choice, probably opt not to go through that valley but you cannot be whimsical about the order of things. Like ill-mannered kids, picking only the good stuff from the bag when it gets to our turn to pick, you just cannot eat your cake and have it.

Now this is no dirge or eulogy, this is simply the musings of one who has, not by personal choice, being given the opportunity to reach out and touch lives. Sometimes my feelings want to conflict with purpose but not anymore, as long as this heart beats and there is breath in my lungs. I have not yet had the wondrous experience of walking the streets of gold in God’s celestial city but what I have is the opportunity of witnessing how trials bring out the best in us…..when we do not collapse and keel over in defeat. This is not a journal of every pain and sentiment I feel since I got diagnosed with dystonia in 2012, it is almost impossible to do that – how do you describe accurately the feeling of helplessness as you watch everything that you thought was you being stripped away? How do you chronicle the sheer frustration of trying to rebuild a life from the rubbles or pen down the emotions that well up in you as you are faced with medical bills without knowing how those bills will get paid? How do you narrate the disappointments that come from being told you cannot do this by your own body or illustrate in clear terms that the way and the will are two different opponents that must be conquered concurrently? The proverbial town crier might regale in the sonority of his voice in the stillness of the African dawn but when the market is at its busiest, nobody needs to tell him what an exercise in futility it would be to cry out a message.

Money answers everything but what good will all the wealth of the earth amount to when you are confronted with situations that transcend the realm of physical riches. This morning, I answered a knock at my front door and there stood a delivery lady (slightly dampened by the early morning shower) with a huge envelope. Tucked inside the envelope was one of the prettiest handmade card (the largest I have ever received or thought of making) with the words “Be Strengthened” boldly inscribed upon it. Beautifully crafted between the covers of the cards were signed handwritten notes from several of my College/University mates, twenty names in total, if precision means a thing to you as it does to me. Just a few minutes before that I had hung up the phone, thoroughly exasperated with a call agent because she explained that my phone line would only be restored if a specific amount (to the cent) was paid. Opening that card and reading every note contained in that card was quite emotional because these notes were from my mates, now scattered all around the globe-most of whom I haven’t seen in the last 17years. Hold on just a second, if you may please, almost simultaneously I got an email informing me that my PayPal account had just received some funds from these guys who I know have their personal issues to attend to.

I have always loved surprising people, I would rather surprise than be surprised because the logical and analytical part of me usually categorises surprises as something akin to reading a 300 paged book; but commencing at page 85 and ending at page 200, or a shirt half tucked in (in itself, a very glaring and incomplete design, entirely unsatisfactory and requiring me having to work my way; back to page 1 and forward to page 300). Oh yes, I do have mild OCD, so that really can be aggravating at times and so I tend to tell people right off the bat that I do not like surprises! Juxtaposing mild OCD and dystonia is a chemical equation of horrifying  proportions, it almost always have a disastrous result. However I have learned to change what I can and force myself to walk away from what I cannot change (the walking away part is really difficult but in order to prevent triggering an episode, I must walk away). When you find yourself in certain situations, you must quickly adapt or face the option of getting steamrolled, that is what I have learned on this journey with dystonia. There is so much I have had to learn in order to adapt – I have learned that faith is not just a word, it is a lifestyle. Love is not a word, it is an action. Sacrifice is not just an action, it is a painful decision expressed through actions that are quite unsavoury. And that giving, especially when you have to deprive yourself of something, has a longer lasting benefit than the extremely short high of receiving.

I have learned that worrying only extends inconvenience, all activity and no progress and so being told that I am a source of inspiration by men and women from different origins, categories and location is something that is extremely humbling. All I aim to do with each new day is to make someone else’s life and struggles just a little bit lighter even as I struggle with dystonia. Proclaiming that even though I cannot control the storm, I can smile even in the darkness because the strength to go through each day is not mine to dispense, it comes from an inexhaustible Source. All I try to do each day is choose to stick with the design that He has laid out for me, I choose to acknowledge that even when it seems like the ominous winds of life is about to snuff out my candle light, He is still there with me. I choose to acknowledge that even though I am about running out of resources, He has promised to supply my every need and so I have learned not to bother myself with how or when because He always shows up on time.

I am particularly grateful for the immense privileges of sharing paths with men and women of such incredible potential, purpose and focus. Grateful for the recent opportunity to be in such awesome support groups, because with every life I have been blessed to encounter, I have come away with truths that truly liberate – truths that are so deeply engrained in the entirety of my being that even when I am knocked down, I know that there is but one option available – ‘Pick yourself up and press on!’  For the bonds of friendships that have stayed true and the accepting hearts that still receive me till this day. The true description of fulfilment surpasses Rupees, Dirhams, Pound Sterlings, Dollars; it lies in the ability to allow yourself become a vessel through which someone is blessed because when the time comes for the curtain to drop, no stack of gold will prevent it from dropping. For those, who like me are struggling through their own storms, I encourage you to share these words with me, ‘Be Strengthened!’ No life yet created was ever created to be confined to the dumpsters of failures, despondency and hopelessness; your life is no different.

And so, as I reel with gratitude from the sacrifices of these few and others who have refused to just be bystanders, I just want to say that every penned or spoken word comes from deep within my heart. Knowing that we are all on a journey, and as you press on and still choose to give freely even if you are yet to get the spelling of dystonia or insomnia or myoclonus or Parkinson’s right, realise that “there is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty.” – Proverbs 11:24. Within our hearts, desires lie; noble and pleasing but if we refuse to apply our hands, then we amount to nought but mischief makers, truncating the cycle of life. A soothing word, a little prayer, a look of genuine concern, a little token of compassion; these are what should define us as humans. And when a need is seen, do not first concern yourself with the genealogy but rather do something about it, because if you can see the need then you can do something about it even if reality kicks you in the teeth about your lack. Our lives are more than just a string of academic and professional titles, they are more than the string of mansions and stockpiled gems, they are easels that God uses in writing out a message of love, hope and perseverance to those around you.

Do not bask in the euphoria of your acclaimed fame and status because that in itself is no purpose, do not delight in the flurry of high-falutin verbage because that in itself is no purpose, do not pride yourself in your finely honed skill of bashing people with your beliefs because religion is just a word and not a purpose. Instead I choose to awaken myself each new day with a thankful heart for life and another opportunity to make the day count. Remember ‘Be strengthened’ might just be two words but the value of those two words are beyond the grasp of a life that is devoid of purpose.

עד שנפגשנו שוב, אולי התענוגות שלו להיות העונג שלך לעשות

Adios!

Stacking the cards…..

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Stack it!

Sometimes it just seems that when we are almost at the end of the tunnel, to our alarm and utmost chagrin, we realize that there is just a minor bump ahead of us and whilst our reserves are screaming depleted, somehow we must pick ourselves up and plod on. Now it has truly been a long break from writing and this has been in no way due to a desire to get out from the light but just another reminder that time is a fleeting entity. Whatsoever thine hands findeth to do, do it quickly because there surely comes a time when there can be no gathering of hay and woe betide you that during that time, slothfulness and laziness have become your closest buddies. “Too often man handles life as he does the bad weather, he whiles away the time as he waits for it to stop” – Alfred Polgar

Admittedly, the weather has been of a variety of sorts and to some degrees, it has been a very busy period for me and mine. Getting myself properly set up for the best days of my life and as always, the inevitability of teething problems is one that is being dealt with and suffice me to say that milk is utterly inappropriate for a grown man as myself and so without sounding too cocky, I know what the future holds for me. Regardless of the nay sayers and the doubters, somethings are inexplicably irrefutable – I am a survivor because I am more than a conqueror. And whilst it still saddens me at some of the whiplashes from the past, it will be unerringly obtuse of me to say that everything will be as it once was because from the dying embers of a flame, soot and ashes can be gathered but the brightness of the flame is one that hitherto lost, can and will be reignited again by choice. Somethings are irreparably re-positioned and what an exercise in futility were I to spend my present days in trying to rewrite history when a new generation eagerly awaits lessons learned to be passed on.

Someone ‘disparagingly’ told me in regal tones, “I do not even care to read your blog” and I am truly amazed that we more often than not, without the wisdom learned from passing through adverse times, choose to keep ourselves completely occupied and embroiled with affairs that pertain only to our own small world. Behold the beauty of the new day and compare that to how infinitesimally minute we are but yet we still make that choice to superimpose our views over that which is beyond our comprehension and control. It is such a thing of indescribable joy when the victory chants are finally resounding after series of long battles, and for me, the battles have been long and weary but the chants are just beginning. Without an iota of self glory, I attribute it all to He who alone is the very Essence of my being and true, the bumps may still come up now and then but hear it from me o ye people – my identity is ‘God is leading me’ and where he leads, I will follow for there I know that the end definitely surpasses my wildest imagination. The best victories are those evidenced by the defeated, not by any intentional display on my part (I have got more meaningful endeavors to apply myself to), but because the defining nature of truth is that it cannot be hidden or masked.

My latter days are so much better than my former, and indeed time keeps count as it winds down to an end someday but what a life still to be lived. What opportunities there remain to be grasped and appropriately utilized – be it in the few minutes spent in the office of a young career mother as she determines to let go of the past 16 years and begin again. To her and the many others out there who care to hear, it is better late than never. What is hope without trying times? What is faith without the darkness that so coldly blankets for a while? What is love without the arduous task of navigating the stormy waters of bitterness and derision? What is life without death? What are the realities that so headily confront us that we inadvertently choose to give up and succumb? We are who we are for a reason, we each have our unique identity, purpose and goal and so what an abysmal manifestation of our gifts when we choose to define ourselves by the actions of others? I have long made that choice and because I still plod on, situations and events will arise that will put to test that choice. That choice is mine to uphold and albeit if I have to do it alone because truly we are never alone.

The stars are indeed lining up, truly radiant in their celestial glory – my path is clear, sometimes hidden in the swirls of darkened clouds but clear it is and as I place each foot one ahead of the other, I make my way towards my expected end. My teeth may be gritted sometimes, brows furrowed, disappointments etching out the opportunities and blessings ahead but yet I will because I am led and even through the valley of the shadow of death, I will not be afraid because He alone is my Shepherd and I will never want. This is one story that you are part of, irrespective of the good or bad role played, I am telling it with all the fervour that lies beneath my breast. That can never be taken away from me because I am who I am – more than a conqueror.

Remember “You will become as small as your controlling desire; as great as your dominant aspiration” – James Allen. Again, you have to choose….

החיים שלנו הם מתנות מאלוהים , מה שאנחנו בוחרים לעשות עם זה הוא אובהערכה או זלזול גמור של מתנה ש….. עד שנפגש שוב , ייתכןשהשמש מאירה את הדרך שלך .

Adios!

Stripped bare……

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Stripped n bare

“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is like an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Admittedly, I have been yearning to get back to doing what I love best – this! however it has been a tumultuous period in the last two weeks and just when I desire to get back, something else comes up and yet still I strive to do my own little bit in the lives of the few people who I have been blessed to encounter. Now it feels like what has been dammed these past weeks just wants to gush out and that would inadvertently drown quite a few including myself and so I have to apply self-control or stand the risk of sounding like a blithering idiot. Like I have chosen to inculcate, each day is such an amazing experience whether I am down under, burdened by the travails of this medical challenge and besought by the emotional desolation that so doggedly accompanies this disorder or I am infused by the joys and beauty of life in every waking moment – I choose to make each day count because every day is a Present in itself and like a kid, I carefully unwrap it…….I cannot do otherwise anyway, being obsessively compulsive has its pros.

A few days ago, I travelled to beautiful South Yorkshire and even though travelling is wearisome and I have to make it as comfortable as possible, it is still a necessity. I actually fell in love with the region and above all I loved the fact that it was colder than London because I have learnt to accept that I am also a Super hero – Mr Exothermic, that is also one of the merits of this condition – accelerated metabolism enhanced by the regular tremors I experience, which translates to the need to be in a cooler atmosphere than most people would like. I was privileged to meet Ibrahim, Mark(s) and Hilary – sharing the stories of their own lives and the beautiful attitude they exuded even whilst doing their jobs. Such encounters make me realize that you can choose to continue to mourn what may have seemingly be lost or choose to celebrate that which you are blessed with finding each and every new day. Of course there were the ignorant ones who thought the shakes were quite amusing or those who seemed to be freaked out by my super hero outfit. All put together, it makes every day such a blessing because I know something that can never be taken away from me as long as I breathe – everything is working together for my good. Try as hard as you may, deride me, ignore me, withhold from me – I will still smile because you don’t and can never define me.

I am dedicating this piece to Carrie Ann who has finally bested dystonia and every illness, today she stands on the other side victorious and free of all disorders and disease and whilst her passing is painful but yet again it presents us with an opportunity to live our lives continually grateful that we were blessed to know her.

Amazingly, it is no news that we may be having the best winter since 1947 and honestly I look forward to it – weird or not! Every time I gaze out my window overlooking the front lawn, I am drawn to Miss Betula Lenta (the Cherry Birch tree) and as usual she stands stripped and bare as she is readied for the months in winter. To many, she has lost her beauty and appeal – gone are the chirping birds, gone are her beautiful leaves, gone are the exquisite buds…..however she still stands and teaches lessons that are priceless if only they can be grasped. If only we can but stop, dare to liberate our minds of all the meaningless junk that we have chosen to walk with and just learn, what a world of difference it will make to us as individuals and creatures of purpose. WHAT A CHANGE THAT WILL BE WHEN WE LEARN AND REALIZE THAT WE ARE FOR CREATED FOR PURPOSE!

How much I love these words ….“Let’s tell the truth to people. When people ask, ‘How are you?’ have the nerve sometimes to answer truthfully. You must know, however, that people will start avoiding you because, they, too, have knees that pain them and heads that hurt and they don’t want to know about yours. But think of it this way: If people avoid you, you will have more time to meditate and do fine research on a cure for whatever truly afflicts you.” – Maya Angelou……because humanity is like the ocean and its beauty is not defined by the few dirty drops. Walk with the few that God raises up for you when you are in need, determine not to dwell on the many that avoid you or that ignore you or worse still, the many that utter loads of balderdash and do absolutely nothing. My life, stripped and bare it may seem now is just a phase that is a precursor to the beautiful seasons ahead, and guess what, I am better off each passing day. I choose to continue to give from what I have, and whilst I may not have by the standards of many but I am so enriched each day by countless blessings that I have become attuned to appreciate even as I stand bare and stripped. And I am grateful to be stripped of all what I do not need now for this season, because it is such an awesome time to really acknowledge what I freely receive – from the new friends that prop me up each day to the lives that I can associate with despite their pain and challenges. I am thankful to be stripped of what has so long burdened me so that I can receive anew what truly counts.

I have seen seasons, experienced the lows and the highs and I have come to acknowledge without an iota of doubt that life in essence is simply a journey and each of us has a choice to make regardless of the circumstances we seem to have been thrust into unwillingly and seemingly without preparation. To realize that when we are forsaken by many,  it is yet an opportunity to be accepted by others. To acknowledge that when we are deprived by those that we thought would stand by us, it is yet an opportunity to give of what we have to those who stand alone like us and be cherished by others. To acknowledge that when we are disappointed by many, it is yet an opportunity to be a source of encouragement to another – choosing not to focus on the bleakness but painfully lift our eyes beyond and grasp the beauty of what lies just ahead. Acknowledging that when we can no more do what we used to, it is yet an opportunity to reach deep and pull out the potentials that have hitherto lain dormant within us. I choose to make the most of what I am blessed with daily, taking the taunts and the indifference and turning it inside out to be a stronger and better individual because the journey is one of endurance, perseverance and unrelenting faith in a Father who is able to perfect that which He alone began.

“How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world.” – William Shakespeare

I am ready for the winter!

lמסתדר טוב עד שניפגש שוב בזמן שלו

Adios!

Family of strangers?….

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In the family, happiness is in the ratio in which each is serving the others, seeking one another’s good, and bearing one another’s burdens.” – H.W Beecher

Today, I met Angela at the bus stop and summer is finally over (what a beauty the weather is…). Angela responded to my ‘hi’ and despite the drizzle, we both agreed that it was such a wonderful weather. Noticing my tremors and my staff of authority, she enquired more and having never heard of Movement disorders or Dystonia, I was pleasant enough to show her my health card which explains Myoclonus and describes the symptoms (saves me from having to do much talking) and in addition, states my medication. Quite a handy card, I will say. Being a little bit distraught with what she read and observed, she kindly helped me into the bus 29 and shared my seat, peppering me with questions borne with loads of sincere care and concern. A grandmother of Irish descent, she encouraged me to visit Ireland someday and complemented my sense of humour and cheer despite the ominous words that describe my condition, before getting off a couple of stops later. With an extra boost to my spirit, I continued onwards to my medical consultation acknowledging that I can never be alone no matter how bleak the days may seem. I have got a family in over seven billion people.

As a little kid, one of the phrases continuously drummed into my ears and passed on from generation to generation is ‘Do not talk to strangers!’ and as the years fell away and maturity set in, there inevitably followed a change in perspective and a greater appreciation of these childhood phrases and the appropriate application of wisdom and understanding. I recall vividly the story of the Good Samaritan that back in the days was as good a bedtime story as any and the underlying meaning behind the story: good neighbors (family) are those who help when you are in need and in the words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu “You don’t choose your family. They are  God’s gift to you, as you are to them’. Now I have truly come round in my little circle of life to appreciate the depths of these words, family is not defined solely by blood but by a genuine expression of concern and affection and an unquenchable desire to help alleviate another’s burdens – that is what makes family. And as I plod through life, I am blessed to meet family in every race, of every age, tongue, religion. Hey! we all have one origin and One Father and so regardless of the inactions of a few, how doth that measure against the over 7 billion that populate the earth?

I love almond nuts, cannot seem to truly encompass the beauty of those little nuts but I sure do love them. On thursday, I met Dee for the first time, all the way from the States, my first meeting with a stranger who had heard of me and had determined to squeeze out some time during her hols with her large family to say hello. Knowing of my love for almond nuts, she had walked into a departmental store in the States, purchased that bag of almond nuts and travelled with it all the way just for me. What an enjoyable period of time we spent, talking about my challenges, the current medical procedures, life, hope and above all, the faith that so unerringly defines and dictates my life. Now many would say, what is a pack of almond nuts compared to my regular weekly medical expense of £150 at the very least (excluding consultations), and my response would be that life is not all about money. Without the thought, there can be no giving and the pack of almond nuts was and is a clear case of giving. Dee, in those few hours, alleviated my burdens with her light hearted chats and lovable personality. Affection, care and concern are not resources that have a price tag, it is an expression of true familial ties, one borne from choice and not dictated by ‘tell me if you need something and I will be family to you’.

I opted to attend my high school alumni meeting on Saturday because of Dee. Having made a hash of my directions, I paused to get some rest from my severely aching back and tired legs (just to mention a few) and then across came Ian as he hurried along ostensibly to meet up with a pre-arranged meeting. Stopping by, he enquired if I was ok and in response to my stuttered need for directions, he pulled out his iPad phone, dropped his duffel bag, typed in my destination and then pointed me on my way (my destination was just two apartments away). “No worries,mate” was his parting words to me as he retrieved his duffel bag and watched me head in the right direction. As I contemplated on the kindness of a stranger, these words hit me “I don’t care about whose DNA has recombined with whose. When everything goes to hell, the people who stand by you without flinching — they are your family.– Jim Butcher

A couple of days back, I just had to do some errands – (I live alone) and help does not always come when you want it but things have to be done. A letter to post, a return to be made at ASDA and because of my mobility requirements, I just have to take a break now and then or face the inevitable consequences of tremors etc. I stopped by at Precious Moments to pawn my ring and also grab a chair and then I met Goli, beautifully wrapped in her hijab and ordering a pendant for her daughter. Devoutly muslim and a mother of four kids, she asked what she could do to make my respite better and enquired about my super hero outfit, yet again out came my card and with a ‘La il laha il Allah, Muhammad a rasool Allah.’, she fussed over me and after I explained where my hope, faith and strength came from even in the seemingly bleak situation – there is but one God and for every season, I trust Him to lead me in line with the reason, she gave it some thought and then delved deep into her purse, extracted a ‘prayer’ and handed over to me. Bading me well, she concluded her business and I was astounded by her public, unpretentious display of care and concern. “Strangers are just family you have yet to come to know.” – Mitch Albom

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As I receive countless opportunities of meeting various people, i count it a privilege not just to share my faith, my convictions, my hope but also to realise that I am never alone. Surrounded on all sides by strangers, I can now say that “The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life. Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof.” – Richard Bach.We are all blessed with so much to give and yet we choose to be so constrained by our self centredness, not realising that as we walk through life, we all have the opportunity to truly understand what a family of strangers that encompass us daily. And there can be no words that can ever eclipse the actions of our hands. I look around and am amazed at the mass of dead seas that persistently choose to receive and receive and receive, choosing to deny the beauty of blessings that amount to us if only we can but give from the little or the much that we are daily blessed with. For there is but one truth, and no amount of denial will upturn it – how blessed are they that give, for it is in giving that we truly express but a fraction of the love that we continuously receive from God above.

I can recall the conversation I had with my sibling several months back, when he so vociferously attempted to make me understand that the few friends that have stayed with me will someday disappear and I will realise that family is what counts (whether they act as such or not). Now in retrospect, I realise that the circumstances we find ourselves shape us to become better, stronger and wiser and so like Scarlet O’Hara, all resentment is gone with the wind because I not only know that some friends stick closer than brothers but that family is neither something we choose or is it only defined by blood but also sometimes and in some circumstances“Friends are God’s way of apologizing for your family.” – W.W Dyer (quite a quip, isn’t it?). The truth is that when we truly love another and unashamedly express it, then we truly embrace the beauty of family and realise with sudden clarity that we are surrounded on all sides by a family of strangers. All we can and should do, irrespective of your circumstance is stretch out a hand and help raise another up because all around us are countless hordes who are definitely unconcerned about how much we know until they know how much we care and then we can begin to change the world by spreading God’s love, one person at a time.

For the many like me, who are passing through such challenging times struggling with dystonia and movement disorders, realise that we each have a family of strangers who unceasingly pass through our lives for times such as these and whilst we are seemingly compelled to succumb to the whirlpool of despondency and depression, we can choose to stand tall and make a difference whilst we yet stand. “Let us make one point, that we meet each other with a smile, when it is difficult to smile. Smile at each other, make time for each other in your family.” – Mother Theresa

Remember what a miserable tale ours would be if we choose to just exist rather than live purposefully.

lמסתדר טוב עד שניפגש שוב בזמן שלו

Adios!