Reflections from the Mirror…..

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Embrace who you are but be YOU!

“When I see you, I think “I wonder which face she sees when she looks into the mirror.” – C.JoyBell C.

I, undeniably, am of the school of proselytes that inexplicably concur to the notion that karma is a female dog. I truly love dogs and I am forever grateful to my parents for schooling me about responsibility when I received Scooby as my 3rd birthday present and since that day, I have never looked back. Sometimes I genuinely believe that dogs are not just man’s best friend but that one friend that stands way above the pack. I am still unsuccessful in building up my dream pack of dogs like I once had in the past but oh well, I have got tomorrow to look forward to. As is the case with everything known to man, there are the pros and cons, the good and the bad but fortunately we have that one unique feature that many of us are too petrified to use – choice.  I am looking forward to getting a new Labrador very soon, how long? I really do not know but what is the whole essence of life devoid of faith because we can only aspire for as long as we can dream. Dreams! a figment of our imagination or a myriad of events to be that the Almighty weaves into our fragile minds?

I was privileged to be at the theaters a couple of days watching “The Good Lie” and suffice to say that I was among the only three people seated in a room capable of holding over 250 people, a poor showing and attendance. I did look up the movie online and saw that it made slightly over $1m, however just like the movie, again we are faced with the dilemma of being gauged by what people think of us or accepting the reality of who we are and therefore commit to walking our own unique path. I have long come to accept that regardless of what people are faced with, the choice of what they see and go away with is theirs and theirs alone. At several times in the movie, I was faced with the startling reminder that whilst tears are an expression of our emotions, our actions thereafter are not in direct correlation with those emotions – they are a willful determined sequence of events laid out and orchestrated by us, whether it is in response to our insatiable greed or our conscience, we play them out as we deem it necessary. In my opinion, that is something that we should dare to determine and just maybe, the onslaught of decay and decadence that is overwhelming us can be slowed down and just a few more lives be saved.

Needlessly, I always remind you that I am a continuous survivor of an incurable neurological disorder known as myoclonus but it has only spurred me on to heights that I previously thought unattainable as against quenching the beautiful life and spirit God placed within me. I have read about, listened to and witnessed the tales of war child Emmanuel Jal amongst others and while his story provokes so much despondency as to the nature of man, I did spend 5 years with a mythomane and so the ground rules are almost alike. When life casts you adrift an ocean of wrecks and flotsam, an unshakable thirst is born (an incomprehensible desire for truth that is so fleeting); one is forced to pause and take bearings again because that brief pause may just save your life. Undeniably, in acquiescence to life’s abhorrence of vacuum, you will definitely have to concede some painful losses but without some form of bearing, where are you headed? because “even if a river flows with milk, a dog can take in only one lick at a time” – Tamil Proverb

Brazen faced, I remember the times just after the diagnosis was made and I was faced with the fact that this was going to be and still is one very expensive battle and as we are usually wont to so badly believe, there are some people out there who have the financial resources to make a difference in just one person’s ‘south-going’ circumstances; I sent out series of correspondences to as many as I felt would utilize their ears. The result? Complete humility and a deep birthed trust in The One who steps in when we are at the end of our rope, because what kept me going were the actions of just a few from the myriad of people I had come to know. On its own, it definitely was not an antidote to depression but I made the choice to look myself in the mirror and remind myself that I was created with just one face notwithstanding the hugely popularly misconstrued context of this quote “humans feel a need to prove they are the dominant race of a species and they inadvertently take kindness for weakness from another individual” – C.J Dorner.  I do myself this gargantuan favor each waking day, reminding myself that my actions are solely mine and so I school myself each day in the fact that I should never grow weary of well doing, because no matter how much I try to infer that the reaction will be good – it is not always the case.

Truth be told, that I have learned that we all have a certain amount of days apportioned to us and one day, with all certainty, the clock is gonna stop ticking and no matter how much regrets we feel, there is absolutely nothing we can do thereafter. What we must live with is what did we do when we had the chance? A new season has set in, and as I sat listening to the gentle words of wisdom by Pastor Ernest Zilch at his retirement service last night, I reassured myself that life is all that we choose to make of it – however the memories and consequences of our choices will always outlive us. The impact of those memories will either better a life or worsen it, for when we are done on this fragile earth, the harsh reality of how we lived our lives will stare us in our face for all eternity. As you behold yourself today, make a verbal note to that reflection – we were not created to be two faced. Let that which you behold be a source of dignity and pride to the One who made you, for in giving then we can truly receive, and choose not worthless edifices of numbered days, but choose that which you will forever be glad that you gained.

Remember “It’s great to reminisce about good memories of my past. It was enjoyable when it was today. so learning to enjoy today has two benefits: it gives me happiness right now, and it becomes a good memory later” – George Foreman

עד שנפגש שוב בזמן שלו, לא דגל לבן הוא אי פעם הולך לתלות מהמשקוף שלי

Adios!

Taking it back….

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Whatchu gonna do?

Sometimes we have to take a step back and realize what is important in your life; what you can live with but more importantly what you cannot live without.”

Well it is a great day to jump right here and shake off the assertions of the ‘normal’ every day life which I got accustomed to in the past (the tale of being jumped on by myoclonus, a rare neurological disorder is something that always inadvertently pops up in my posts), got liberated and intend on staying liberated. Phew! It just sneaks up on you and before you know it, there you are, being dumped upon by everyday activities that are not the daily activities of your own choosing. Round and round we go, seeking to break away from the vicious cycle that has life always wanting to be the administrator. The weird issue about that picture is who should really be the one in charge because someone definitely has to be in charge and so for me, I am teamed up with the Creator and what an awesome team it is. I get to determine my daily activities based on an understanding of what He has defined and determined for me.

With reference to my identity and earlier posts, we are all prisoners of birth and someday we have to make the choice – remain prisoners of birth or break free from the shackles that are almost like a second skin. It has been a harrowing period of some sorts these past few weeks as I seek to clear out the cobwebs that have gathered in my very own niche, no thanks to myoclonus but this is something that I was made to do – occupy and be a value adder. I realize how amazing it is that we somehow inexplicably choose to be driven by life and its abstract goals – a choice made by our refusal to choose (cowardice) and fail to realize that the very priorities that should count in our lives are those that we ditch in a bid to meet up with the running around game. But, hold on a second, what is the running in circles for? and why engage in something that you neither know who set the rules of the game or who administers the benefits?

It is somewhat amusing and so exciting when I get to see that moment in that one individual when their dimming bulb starts glowing so much brighter as the awareness of who should be in charge of their life dawns upon them. That, dear friends is something that will continually drive me in my battle to stay in charge of my life regardless of myoclonus and its creepy associates, the individuals who daily cross my path with sniggers and disparaging comments, the nay sayers and the ignorants.  Regardless of how numerous they are, I know that there will always be that someone who gets to see the light – literally and more. We were not dumped here on earth because of some clean up exercise somewhere, absolutely not. We were created to take charge, created to be champions in life – riding high on the surf and standing tall and strong even in the twilight times. Somewhere things went wrong and so progressively, we find ourselves enmeshed in a world where the absurd has become the norm and the appropriate has become despicable. Quite a few remarkably absurd events have occurred and more absurd explanations have been offered and less than a ripple has been the reaction, such hopelessness and despondency.

I was among a privileged few that were under the ‘tutelage’ of Chip Ingram and for the half hour or less, it was another opportunity to see what we need to do to remain human beings. Like an epidemic, a wave of severely skewed reasoning patterns has birthed a multitude of people whose overwhelming desire is to do whatever life lays for them and so all around us are unique individuals, countless but distinctly crazed by their inability to choose. We have become less human beings and more human doings, everyone running viciously doing and doing and doing, each attempting to mirror another’s misunderstood drive. And yet we wonder where all the care, compassion, kindness, love, warmth has gone to. The very things that make us humans are being ditched by choice so as to be that which we certainly do not want to be. And in an ironic twist, many spend the little time they have as themselves whining about stress, disillusionment and a false grandeur of reality. The moment of truth is this, are we bold enough to make those choices that will make us stand out from the crowd? Are we bold enough to take back our humanity as individuals despite the torrent of derision and contempt that is bound to be hurled at us? It is all about taking it back, and the power to do so lies in your hands.

Now, it may somewhat be construed as strange coming from me – an emerging victor over this neurological disorder, but truth be told that today I stand different and yet victorious, liberated and bold, not daunted in that which I am because the scars I bear are not self inflicted but signs that whilst I still struggle, my victory is sure and certain. The path through the valley may still come up but now I am more strengthened because I know that there is One whose report of me I still stand by and choose to believe. I am taking it back, and pretty much surprising even myself. Sometimes, the sweetest victories are usually savored after the hardest battles and to me this is one delightful experience that I deserve and intend to savor to the best of my ability. My favorite personal question is ‘why am I holding onto what I have in my hand?’ and I always find that when I let it go, I get back more than I had in the first place. These are truly the best days of my life and I am thrilled to know that they just began.

“You get that one chance; and damn it, you’ve got to take it! If there’s one lesson I know I will take with me for eternity, its that there are those things that might happen only once, those chances that come walking down the street, strolling out of a café; if you don’t let go and take them, they really could get away! We can get so washed out with a mindset of entitlement– the universe will do everything for us to ensure our happiness– that we forget why we came here! We came here to grab, to take, to give, to have! Not to wait! Nobody came here to wait! So, what makes anyone think that destiny will keep on knocking over and over again? It could, but what if it doesn’t? You go and you take the chance that you get; even if it makes you look stupid, insane, or whorish! Because it just might not come back again. You could wait a lifetime to see if it will…but I don’t think you should.” – C. JoyBell C.

Remember, life comprises of moments and as make our individual ways through life, the moments we cherish the most are those that we took back….if we missed them the first time. We either take them or we live to regret not taking them.

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!