Wake Up and Start Dreaming!!

The Definition of a Dream:

A DREAM is a “series of thoughts, images and sensations that occur in a person’s mind.

” A dream is “a cherished aspiration, ambition or ideal.” A dream is your best life yet.

ImageIt is seeing better things through your mind’s eye. It is when one is able to look beyond current circumstances, where one is able to look above limitations, where one is able to look beneath the surface to realize one’s passions and where one is able to look out onto a horizon where things are everything you want them to be.

Dreams are the first step towards achieving a bigger and better reality.

 

Steps Towards Achieving Your Dreams:

  1. Stay awake and determine what your dreams are!
  2. Realize that whatever you dream, it is possible and you are more than able!
  3. Create a list/sketch/picture of what those dreams look like
  4. Surround yourself with reminders of what your dreams are and envision yourself living out your dreams
  5. Break down each dream into achievable goals that will lead to their realistic attainment
  6. Surround yourself with positivity (positive thoughts, positive actions, positive people and positive pursuits)

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  7. Identify and surround yourself people that can enhance your dreams, advance your dreams and encourage your dreams (friends, family, mentors, industry experts, etc.). This can be both through real-life interactions and virtually – through a study of those who encourage you from afar. Do your homework: find articles, videos, social media platforms on which to interact, etc.
  8. Determine the positive attributes of those you look up to, both near and far and seek to make them a part of your good habits
  9. Determine what you must hold on to and what you must let go of in order to achieve your dreams (i.e. habits, strengths, weaknesses, lifestyle choices, etc.). There are talents and traits about you that set you apart, and make you a perfect match for your dreams – determine what these are, enhance them and nourish them

10. Celebrate your victories along the way, both big and small

11. Allow disappointments to teach you the lessons they are there for and if at first you do not succeed – try, try, try again!

12. Put in the work towards achieving your goals and ultimately your dreams!

 

Any and everything is possible, but in order to call it into being you have to realize who you are and the power you have to shape your destiny. You have to simultaneously identify what you want, discover steps necessary to get there, align your life with the goals necessary to achieving your dreams and begin to work towards them. ImageYou have to motivate yourself every step of the way by giving your best along the way, by striving to do more tomorrow than you did today and by never giving up!

You can become the next (insert name that personifies success and the rest). Whoever it is that inspires you most, connects with your passion and speaks towards your dormant dreams – realize that they are human beings who identified their strengths and passions and worked towards making them a reality. They do not have two heads! They have one heart, one brain and a determination and a tenacity that turned their dreams into a reality. Go out and do the same!

It is good to have heroes that inspire you and achievements of others that you aspire to, but most importantly you need to realize that you can develop (insert your full name here) to a point where he/she realizes his/her full potential, and become a leader in (insert industry/area of expertise/interest). You ultimately have little to lose and everything to gain by bettering yourself, challenging yourself and elevating yourself.

 

 zcsj.

 

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Child Stop!! That is not LOVE! -_-

I recently read an amazing post where a man confessed that he did not love his wife when he married her. And shortly after marriage he began to doubt what he once called love, was really love. The feelings that had him feeling so sure were no longer his feelings anymore. This article really inspired me and got me thinking about what we call “love.” Between the time he fell in love (first date), confessed his love (second date), proposed to her (2 months later), married her (3 months later) and started a family, his definition and understanding of love changed, (http://popchassid.com/didnt-love-wife/).

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That Ain’t Love! 

I believe that what we call love is just dust and chaff, that barely scratches the surface of a much deeper emotion. Love is not a warm and fuzzy feeling, love is not butterflies in our bellies, love is not stars in our eyes and a quivering in our core. When we call these things love, that means we are on a lifelong pursuit of firsts – first kisses, first touches, first time you feel someone really sees you or understands you – we become thrill seekers who may leave who we once called love for what it now takes to fill that void. Looking towards the love stories that are lasting, that are not defined merely by good times or grounded in chemistry, we see that the ingredients of lasting love differ from what is popularly deemed love.

That’s More Like It!

Classic example: the love between a mother and a child. A mother who sacrifices immensely her life for her child and invests everything into her child’s future has forged a bond of love that will last a lifetime. Her child does not give her butterflies, her child does not make her feel like she’s just reached the perfect peak of a rollercoaster, in fact at times her child no doubt infuriates her, breaks her heart, frustrates her efforts, etc., but no matter what the only constant is love. When the tables turn and the child is responsible for parent in some way or another, it is still that love that is the guiding force and the motivator, the love that demands action – not the ‘love’ that evokes fuzzy feelings.

Now this love that is unshakeable and unbreakable cannot be used to describe both a near unconditional love a mother has for a child and a relationship that is based on shared interests, physical attraction and great conversation. Surely before the latter can truly become love it must go deeper than a few fantastic feelings, because our emotions are in constant flux, and feelings are shaped by so many other factors.

ImageIf LOVE is a warm and fuzzy then you are Sh* Out of Luck!

If you wake up on the wrong side of the bed with a spotty face, a runny stomach, a pounding head, a short fuse and a flat tire, it may be hard to muster up the romance. On days like this it is hard to love yourself or your life, never mind another individual. If your partner then adds insult to injury by saying something annoying, doing something selfish or disregarding your feelings – whatever emotions were present the night before must surely evaporate with the morning’s dew. That is why we need to define, determine and deliver on our definition of love.

Now We’re Done Talking, We Can Start DOING.

We need to understand that love is a verb. Love is an action. Love is an action, on an action, on another action. My mother has made so many deposits into our love account that no matter what she does, how we disagree, or my own personal financial or emotional status – I am compelled to be there for her and to do for her. These acts of love are natural to me, they bring joy to me, and they are compulsory – even at times when we have argued and there are no warm and fuzzy feelings on the horizon I know that beneath whatever positive or negative emotions I have – there is a solid foundation built on love.

Similarly, LOVE is a verb. Love is acting in ways that promote the passions, pursuits, plans and pure joy of another person – not for any tangible gain. Love is acting in ways that give pleasure to another because our feelings towards them are deep and wide and worthy of expression. Love is patience, kindness, goodness, self-control, humility, and happiness in the success of another. Love is forgiveness – that even in that moment of unadulterated anger and a sense of betrayal your heart is already coming around to forgiveness because “LOVE the action” is gearing up to stretch its limbs, sweep aside hurt feelings and remain steadfast.

real_love__by_vanilla_tapes

Forget Between ‘Man and Woman,’ How About Between *Love and Love?*

Love for friend, spouse, sibling, parent, child are not as different as the greeting cards make them out to be.

It is the separation of spouse/partner from every other relationship/bond of love that perhaps leads to the latter outlasting the former in our contemporary society.

When we chase an emotion we can never keep up with, and define that emotion as love, then we have a tendency to give up when we deem the love is gone.

I want to encourage us to look at all our loves with different eyes, to recognize that love is not a feeling but a verb – and taking that initial rush and emotion and channeling it into a series of actions that can build on the love, deepen it, grow it and groom it.

Of course different relations are formed based on different connections and attractions, but after you have categorized all your relationships into their relevant boxes, recognize that the LOVE that is alive inside of you and that is meted out to them is of one nature, a giving and doing and being nature – LOVE is a verb, its not a feeling.

zcsj.

Charity ENDS @ Home

What happens when charity does not begin at home, but comes to the homestead to die? When the wrong ideas are cemented, the wrong impulses are encouraged and the wrong benchmarks are set? What happens when the parameters by which “success” is defined are those that are detrimental to any within the sphere of influence who do not share the same bloodlines? What happens when individuals are reared like crabs in a bucket, taught to grab and claw at their counterparts and use them as stepping-stones and stairs in the ultimate climb to the top? What happens when a nation is comprised of a populace raised on the aforementioned principles?

What happens when we teach our children to cut corners? To pay extra instead of queuing. To buy on the black market instead of waiting in line. To secure their results through tips and bribes round the back end instead of investing the time and resources into learning the material. To come back to their parents to leverage off their acquaintances and nepotism instead of going through application processes. To value who they know above their requisite knowledge. To consider their self worth a direct measure of how much money is in their family’s coffers. To choose their career path based on the accessible budget of the ministry, department, agency or organization. To consider their spirituality and relationship with God to be determined on how well they dress to their house of worship, how fluently they speak in tongues or whether or not they plant enough seeds to sustain a religious forest all on their own might. What happens then?

Do they somewhere along the line drown out the training and rearing they have received and listen to their conscience that has been violently silenced for almost two decades? Do they from somewhere within determine that the value of an individual is greater than his or her net worth, deeper than their pockets or connections and more meaningful than “getting ahead in life.” Do they begin to seek solutions for those that are not comfortable or confident enough to do it for themselves?

This is hardly the case. More than likely charity has been buried beneath the rubble of their own morality and so they grow up to be policemen who abide by their own rules and set the penalties for “offences” based on their current private needs and whims. They grow up to be politicians who plunder the resources put aside for their people. They grow up to be Presidents who do not spare a thought for the policies and projects that will benefit the masses, but pursue programs that will secure ties with the high and mighty and merit return favors in the near future. They grow up to be employers who are comfortable owing their employees months of back pay while they break their backs with work. They turn out to be lecturers who give the highest grades to the highest bidders. They turn out to be husbands and wives whose fidelity can be bought and sold based on silver and satisfaction and gold.

They do not question why tips are given in foreign currencies while the strength of their own monies wane. They do not ask why people are allowed to reign with terror over their own offices, staff and families exhibiting behavior that would be deemed insane overseas. They do not question why young children weave between expensive vehicles selling them goods in traffic while their own children are safely seated in school. They do not wonder why the cost of goods is so high yet the minimum wage is so low. They do not wonder how the other 99% get by; instead they concern themselves with how to be the top 1% of the 1%. They worry about how to secure a bigger title, which will afford them less work and more opportunities.

They grow up to be people who are oblivious to when a revolution is desperately needed, ones who are never inspired to be the change they want to see in the world. In fact, they grow up lacking the desire for change. They do not want to change the rotting system in which they reside; they simply want to change their status – to upgrade from the oppressed to the oppressor – from the oppressor to the ultimate intimidator. They look to those they know are doing wrong with a misplaced sense of reverence hoping to one day occupy that position that grants access to more possessions. They hope to be able to sew bigger agbadas (sp.) with richer fabrics and deeper pockets that can carry more dollars and euros as they slump in first class seats on yet another undocumented trip overseas.

The extreme majority within this “upper class minority” grow up to be those that suffocate the few good men, stealing their hope, frustrating their efforts to make a difference and gnawing away at their resolve. They grow up to be those that have access to the change agents yet focus their attentions on discussions over trips taken with stolen funds, items purchased on project budgets, lives salaciously lived with little to no loyalty or faithfulness to neither man nor beast. Those who are “not as bad” grow up to be complacent or simply flee to other countries where they can live middle class lives filled with order and morality, far from the inequities of their own nationality.

They grow up to be a third world nation whose champagne consumption rivals and surpasses that of seasoned veterans with reasons to celebrate. A developing country who owns and operates and sells every new fangled device yet refuses to develop simple methods to feed their starving population. They grow up to be the grown ups who rise up and push down, oppressing those below and clawing away at them with hardly a thought or a glance as they seek to amass more wealth and care solely for their own circumstance. They grow up to be greedy, misguided and worst of all – bad parents who pass on these practices and pollute the next generation – raising up another tier who will tear down those around them.

Photo Credit: http://www.scottgustafson.com/Gallery_LEP_A1.html

The Sky is Falling

The sky is falling
But it’s upside down
And it’s raining and it’s pouring
And it’s softening the ground

So ashes can be spread
And we can bury our dead
And we can wake to sleepless nights
Cold sweats in our bed

Memories seasoned with regret
Inside already tormented heads
Heaven is below
It is where they go
And hell is in a realm
Between the ceiling and the floor

The sky is falling
And hell resides above
So the fire and the brimstone
Fall down to earth on us

 

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The debris flutters down like snow
Making eyes water and hearts ache
Its toxic and its weightless
Yet heavy enough to make hearts break

Planes drop mindlessly out of the sky
Wasting 100s of our lives
Leaving behind orphans and widows
Death comes to part husbands and wives

Bombs detonate in churches near mosques
Making a mockery of our religions
Of our safety precautions, of us
Leaving in its wake another fresh & rotting corpse

The roads are soaked with blood
From this car crash and that fight
The streetlights don’t work
Either way, there’s no light

And distrust is so heavily woven into the tapestry
That we know things are never quite as simple as they seem
How does one even have clarity of vision when darkness sets the precedent?
For the environment, for the living conditions, even for the government

Is it the potholes?
Is it the cutting corners?
Is it corruption?
Is it lack of expertise?
Or is it just our quota for the deceased?

Whatever it is
Left behind
It’s getting harder and harder to breathe.
And even harder to sleep
The loss of the lost
Brings us all to our knees.

Father, Father, Father help us.
Turn our nation right side up,
So many things seem so senseless,
So can You please make it stop?

If the sky was the right side up
Blessings would be showering down
I cannot help but think we’ve destroyed the atmosphere
And turned things the wrong way around

When there is so much depravity, top down
How does one avoid gravity? It must come down.

The sky is falling
And it doesn’t matter if you cry
The residue from hell’s sewers
Will rise up to infect our lives

We are all sick
Inhaling these impurities
Cruelty has tipped the scales
No one has immunity

We exhale broken hopes
We breathe in dashed dreams
The future is a mirage
That is swept up in the evening breeze

The sky is falling down
It’s falling down on us
Are you willing to hold it up?
If so, at what opportunity cost?

Father, Father, Father help us.
Turn our nation right side up,
So many things seem so senseless,
So can you please make it stop?

ImagePhoto Credit: http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/jackalope/2010/08/where_to_catch_tonights_persei.php

First Quarter Analysis

The last time I checked we were praying and preaching in church, drinking and overeating with close friends and distant relatives, planning and crashing parties and most notably making New Year’s resolutions. Lofty plans of losing weight and gaining money and attaining certain statuses and possessions and affections; and here we are 3 months later. Time has whizzed by and 2012 is speed racing away from us, and as the first quarter ends it feels an appropriate time as any to conduct an analysis.

Have we achieved that which we hoped to? Have we maintained the near impossible standards we set? Were our plans realistic at all? Are we making good progress? Any progress?

Looking at my 2012 Plan, it is safe to say I have not achieved that which I hoped. Partially because things come up, and partially because certain jobs and tasks to which one is already committed leave little room for other dreams and desires to be concretized into reality. The passage of time thus far is not really a factor, there is still time and there is still now and there is no time like now – but looking ahead and seeing the lack of available time is what dictates how realistic projects and plans can be.

There have been wins and losses, and the strategy going forward embodies more certain spirits than specific line items. There have been leaps of faith, expressions of love, sweat seeping into concrete that has been borne out of hard work and the roots of money trees growing through the cracks as a result. There have been bonds established, relationships broken, bodies buried, dreams resurrected, the discovery of new horizons. There have been losses – lost tempers, apathy, unsound investments, the loss of creativity, loss of balance as a result of deadened passions in the pursuit of sleep and sanity after long working days.

The first quarter has gone by and I ask myself, what have you brought to the world? Some have brought life, some have discovered love, some have fueled hatred and others have published personal works while others have plagiarized. I? I have worked and toiled, and loved and decorated, and written and wished, and saved then spent. I have lived.

It may not have corresponded completely with the black ink on cream concord paper on which I penned my 2012 plan, but my 1st quarter has certainly been successful. The relationships, the man-hours, the ever-fluctuating motivation – the culmination of which have resulted in LIFE and LESSONS and GROWTH. Looking forward I see the areas that are unsustainable, the disciplines I need to acquire, the situations in which I need to let my hair down, those where I need not plan at all. Time is of the essence in terms of realizing what one must achieve, then again I have nothing but time, because although I may forget it I am young and blessed and time is on my side.

Three quarters remain of the year, so much more to be achieved, so much more energy to exert, willpower to attain, lives to invest in and deliverables to deliver. I feel hopeful, hopeful for the life in my veins, the conviction in my heart and the hope in my spirit. Hopeful that the One who has brought me thus far, and given me the gifts and persons to successfully make it to this time will not abandon today or tomorrow.

The conclusion of the analysis is as follows: if you stay positive, work hard, dream harder, sleep less, laugh more, trust your instincts, surround yourself with extraordinary individuals, participate in ordinary conversations and love deeply you can make it through many a thing. I have done this and I have done well. I have been frustrated and saddened, but I have also been inspired and gladdened. 2012 seemed like a beacon somewhere off in the distance, yet it is here and it is passing through us unless we make the conscious effort to possess it and shape it into what we desire it to be. 2012 is not a far off mark somewhere past graduations, it is here and here I this moment I do not look as “old” as I thought I would, I do not feel as “tired” as I felt I might, and somehow somehow I have a feeling that the next quarter of the year will go exceptionally well, by His grace.

Stuck in a Rut (23.03.12)

What’s the easiest way to get out of a rut? Do you sit still, feet out in front; staring up as the sun melts the stars, hoping some cosmic miracle or natural disaster will displace you? Or do you panic – ferociously run in place hoping to head in any direction that’s closer to “out” while your heels dig deeper and deeper in? Or do you sit still, devise a plan and when energy and opportunity meet – execute it? The last one sounds most appropriate, but then again cliché sounding advice always does.

I assume it depends on the size and depth of the rut. The biggest rut she finds herself in is a chasm where creativity used to be. The more she works – the longer the hours, the more mundane the days, the more menial the requests – the more she loses her words. She is at a loss for words. The place where her creativity used to be is filled with to-do lists and office gist. That person inside who was on fire, passionate and ever producing random ideas, has gone away to hide. In her place are echoes of “Yes Sir” and “I’ll get right on it.”

In his sketchpads are daily schedules and deadlines, on his desktop are meeting minutes and calculations of office related figures and digits. No more manuscripts and pushing her creativity’s limits, no more off-key hummings of beats and lyrics he composed for the industry greats, no more. They have become corporate slaves. With some variation of similar job titles and descriptions come the shackles of response. There is always a command, for which one must respond positively; always an actionable item, for which one must report promptly; always a detailed document for which one must produce an abstract. The roles detailed on their business cards garner great respect from below, great pressure from above and great conflict from within.

Is there a compromise? Is there a place where one can marry the great opportunity that is just a stepping stone job (that gains one experience, teaches one patience and process, and exposes one to networking opportunities and previously unexplored systems) with the actual desires of one’s heart? How long after graduation before an individual actually begin to embrace what they have actually always wanted to do? How does one develop a road map to even identify said path and take steps towards the final destination of the journey when there really is no space in a day? How does one take strides towards the person one seeks to be when all of one’s time is devoted to the person who one is?

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The answer sounds like a combination of discipline, strength, willpower and waitpower. The discipline to take the orders currently barked at you because somewhere in the back of your mind you know something about this experience is intended to grow, shape and train your mind to work under pressure and increase your precision and strive towards perfection. The strength to redo, redo, redo and take criticism in private and public, close after 14 hour work days and wake up the next day to return to the same pressures and problems. The willpower to stay instead of up and quitting, to remind yourself of why you are where you are and dig deeper and deeper to pull out that person that’s positive and flexible and helpful and hardly human it sounds as the “ands” add on. The waitpower to continue to exist and flourish, instead of flaking when you are not in your chosen profession or pursuing your real passions.

How does one get out of the rut? By finding a happy medium. You don’t sit, you don’t get frantic, you dig; because although it may appear you are stuck – up is not the only option. Sometimes you dig and you mine and you discover precious stones. So you dig within yourself. You dig your feet in and do the work. That happy medium is tailor made by the individual, after all perception of contentedness is the reality. It is about a certain balance between passion and process, about having perseverance in one’s purpose while still providing professional support as and when needed. It is about expanding one’s endurance to be able to do more, sleep less, dream bigger and redefine one’s success; to be able to feed the experiences of one’s reality into the framework for one’s dreams. Practical example – the daily painstaking task of screening troubled and troublesome visitors can lead to being able to network and negotiate across socio-political lines and can help to define one’s target market when one’s actual dream job becomes one’s current occupation. The mental downtime and almost tangible frustration can be rechanneled into frantic brainstorms that can be used to fling wide the gates of creativity, opportunity and freedom.

So when you are stuck in a rut, you keep on keeping on. You keep putting one mundane overworked foot in front of the other, you take a moment to inhale deeply and when you exhale not only release your worries but allow your dreams and passions to surface from below the box files and list of outstanding deliverables currently weighing you down. Because if you can be assed enough to take that moment to search within, you will realize they are still there. They may be a little crumpled, a little harassed, a little dusty but dreams are resilient and rekindling the fire from within is more than enough to reenergize them. So that when they are ready for release, in that moment, somehow you allow the new wind to come and carry you, which allows you to marry your reality with your vision. It allows you to get through the seemingly unbearable days knowing that this too shall come to pass, and one day you will live the life you love.

x.o.

Beware the Hand that Holds the Ladder

 Many an imminent citizen has been quoted saying “they rose up from nothing…they found their potential and used it to alleviate their own poverty.” People speak about it, rappers rap about it, and individuals allude to it when shirking the responsibility of lending a helping hand to a stranger/friend in need – after all they pulled up their bootstraps and rose in the ranks all by their lonesome.

“Self Made.” There have been albums titled after it, ballads sung about it and movements made with regard to the notion. Personally, with no disrespect, I believe it is a load of bullocks. No one is self-made, not in their entirety. I do not seek to minimize the role of the individual, the strength of character necessary to reach that pinnacle of success, the self-discipline, nor the marrying of preparation with opportunity; however that success was not reached based solely on individual effort.

That repositioning from destitute poverty to power and great riches must surely have had at lease one hand up somewhere in the rise. There must have been a friend that helped you, a foe that fueled your desire to do the seemingly impossible, a partner that pushed you, or even an angel investor that gave you financial wings.

The concept of building an empire from the ground up requires a foundation, and surely one must have masons and carpenters helping to lay the blocks and secure the scaffolding even if you are attempting to be a “jack of all trades” project manager.

It is important to realize and itemize the contributions of others. The climb up from nothingness to success must surely involve someone holding the ladder to stabilize it. The width and breadth of your come-up might be easy enough that the ladder is virtually stable on its own, but even then having someone to ensure that passers-by do not bump into it and aggravate it to the point where it topples over and deters your progress is a necessity. In order to focus on the climb up, there are those on the ground providing stability and support in whatever aspect necessary.

People often accredit success and progress to the I’s, I did this, then I did that, then I achieved the other, then I, then I, then I… However it is vital to give credit where it is due. Whether the contribution has been money, time, wisdom, expertise or even a less conventional catalyst planting seeds of doubt and despair that propelled you forward – it is important to have an awareness of these things and not omit them from the autobiography. It is important not to disregard the stabilizing forces, not to attempt to re-write history, and not to give in to the pretentious lure of keeping up appearances of occurrences that never occurred. Ultimately beware of the one that holds the ladder, don’t step on the fingers straining to stabilize your effort to your success.

There is a force, a spirit; “karma” if you will, that must surely circle back around. And if somewhere in the process you have purposely or unconsciously disregarded the importance of others’ contributions to where you are, there will be negative consequences from not giving credit when credit is due. The helpers sent to help you on their journey deserve their accolades too. Beware not to crush the fingers of the ones who are providing that stabilizing force for you, because ultimately, they might yank you back down or alternatively it may not by their own volition, but somehow, in some way, something will come round and bite you in the ass for your lack of gratefulness and class.