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Reclaiming Your Identity: Embrace Life

 

I work as a Regional Coordinator for an Indigenous Program here in Canada. I was recently  meeting with one of the field teams to discuss opportunities of how they were implementing land based healing to their program. The team talked of their new opportunities to help their children to define who they are and re-claim their identity, which was taken from them and their ancestors through colonialism, for many generations .

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“We lost our medicine when we were relocated, “ one of the team member went on to say.

 

“You see, my family, my community and I have been greatly affected by the Residential School System. My mom was in attendance from Kindergarten to Grade 3, and although many years have passed, my family has not been able to recover from her experiences. Throughout my childhood, the negative messages that have stemmed from that experience such as poverty, shame and neglect were evident in my home since I could remember. Many members of community have had to struggle through humiliating memories, personal dysfunction, and family pain, but we are now changing that story, we are reclaiming back our identity through Jordan’s Principle, “ she was very excited and confident.

 

“ We teaching our children to make Bear Grease, a traditional medicine used by our people. We are excited to see children take on this in our country, we Bear Grease in ceremonies and healing procedures and we are grateful to learn more teachings and participate in preparing the medicine from our elders,” another team member went on to explain.

 

They talked about a recent winter camp for their youth, “we saw our kids becoming calmer and more aware of the connection to the land – listening to the birds, wind, to their breath, the trees and remembering the times of being immersed in the healing work. I, myself breathing deeper, letting out sighs of stress and exhaustion. As I commented to my friends that this day was exactly what I needed, our healing journey has began, “ she smiled. This was so encouraging and energizing. Their stories about bringing healing in their own way, reclaiming their voices and identity was raw and powerful. We all wept as the team told their way out of pain and all they had endured, and rejoiced as the community choose to rise from the ashes like a phoenix. Their story shines like a brilliant light star, journeying from horror and pain to hope and redemption.

 

The team mentioned that in there landbased healing journey they were integrating traumas and triumphs, “ we are reclaiming back the right to express our truth with power, and compassion, as embodied beings, living in this moment,” an elder with the team stated, “ we are making peace with what was, what is and what will be. We are people of value, we stand with grace, forgiveness, and with joy, take full responsibility for our lives. In so doing, our voice emerges with strength and purpose. We value our feminine voices, and our sisters, our mothers, our daughters, our ancestors, and we encourage the sounds, the groanings, the whispers, of all women who are waiting to be heard.”

 

This community story ignited fire in me, I could hear my dad’s voice in me. I remember him telling me similar stories. I remember him saying, “When the British settlers began pouring into what is now Kenya in 1902, they intended to set up an agricultural colony. The plan was simple: Flood the land with settlers who would set up farms. To kickstart that project, they needed to shove the native tribes off of the land and turn them into cheap (or preferably unpaid) laborers.

 

“The British government then began expropriating large tracts of land in the highlands, with or without compensation, and evicting people whose ancestors had lived there for a thousand years. The British set up reservations to house the newly landless peasants, which quickly got crowded and overtaxed the marginal lands they were sited on,”dad explained.

 

Given these conditions, an internal refugee crisis was well underway by 1910: Masses of native people, most of whom had no connection to their reservations and no reason to stay, started drifting out of their pens and across their old lands in search of income. The roughly 1,000 British settlers now had around 16,000 square miles of prime farmland under their control, and their cheap labor came to them looking for work.

 

 

At this time, the British were only farming around five or six percent of the land they had seized. They classified any Kenyan native farmer caught sneaking back onto the land to start a garden as a Squatter. He could stay there, but at the cost of 270 days of unpaid labor per year as rent — days which correspond to the planting and harvest seasons.

 

To keep all of this straight, the British imposed a pass system, called kipande, a paper document that all native African males over 15 had to wear around their necks. The kipande listed the worker’s classification level and included a few notes about the man’s history and character, so that any police or farm official would know at a glance whether he could be trusted with a job or should be hauled off to jail for another whipping.

 

“Settler began to restrict the natives’ freedom of movement to an obscene degree. Majority of Kenyan natives were relocated to rural “villages,” ringed with barbed wire and trenches and patrolled by guards with orders to kill escapees. Outside of the camps, reservations, and “villages,” dad explained, you could see hurt on his face and eyes.

 

“The colonial government had resorted to open violence and routinely displayed the corpses of executed prisoners at crossroads as a warning. Unfortunately through the imposed culture, rights to individuality and community was taken away from the Kenyans, as they were given new names by their masters, therefore branding them as their own. By imposing a new name on them, the masters ensured that their natives had to give up part of who they were, are or will be. What came after was loss of self and community identity, they were no longer their own, their future was not shaped by their self determination but just labelled by what the settlers called them,’ he stated.

 

Dad told me that Kenya and the rest of Africa are paradise on earth, “we are kings, queens, princes and princesses. However, the colonialist made us feel lesser than who we are, preventing us from seeing what is right in front of our eyes–our cultural wealth.”

 

Dad told me that when the British left Kenya in 1963 Kenya was at a crossroad, “ We had to ask ourselves, where do we start in our journey of self-remembrance? This is the first step to remembering the identity of ourselves, we must start by questioning the lies we have believed for so long.” That began the resurgence to healing and cultural identity for the new Kenya.

 

Dad told me that taking this journey was answer to these question of self-remembrance, a vault that opened our eyes to the truth. The answers helped us realize what the colonizers knew too well: Africa is wealthy. The wealth is not just material but also in the form of values–love, generosity, kindness and the spirit of ubuntu. These qualities should enable us to be independent. Values we are slowly losing in the name of development or capitalism.

 

Dad told me that after the Independence, Kenyans had to look at themselves clear of the lies that had been told, remembering all the reasons to love being Kenyans. Self-love inspired by self-knowledge will cure us of self-doubt or self-denial, which in my opinion is the greatest crime to a humanity.To know oneself is to return to these origins of experience. Obliging the unconscious to return to the conscious mind its concealed memories of our past experiences is liberating, for therein we discover the forgotten influences that have made us what we are. The memories recalled re-establish our sense of continuity with the past and hence show us the truth about ourselves. In reaching back to origins to recollect lost fragments of our experience, memory makes us whole once more by reaffirming our connection with the past.

 

Has your voice been silenced in some way? Are you able to speak out in the workplace, in your community or in your relationships? Or do you feel somewhere deep inside you that you have no voice and no one will listen? As you read this story, you are probably going through a journey of reclaiming your voice, your identity, your self image, your own space and your location. Maybe your voice have often been silenced or repressed through experiences of cultural conditioning, personal or collective traumas, for others reading this story, you are probably an ally and advocate for those who have lost their voice or maybe you are of those that have taken voice from others, whichever side you are in, I want you to know that you are joining many of us who re in this journey too.

 

Past traumatic and emotional baggages imposed on us by others or by ourselves can put you in a bit of a deep freeze or even dissociation. That’s what happened to me over the past year. Your brain and body will know how much and how fast to let out the painful emotions but if you aren’t picking up your body’s and brain’s signals due to trauma or shock, you can end up with physical body pain or illness from emotions lodged inside you. Do your best to let the tears flow, and let go of whatever is coursing through you, right in the moment if you can, or at the very least, soon after when you’re in a safe space. How to release emotions?

 

The process of reclaiming and rebuilding a strong, healthy sense of self requires first and foremost looking critically at your life. What is your life reflecting back to you and where are you focusing your attention? What is the common story you tell yourself when things go right?
When things go wrong?

 

Here below are a few tips that have helped me and others in this journey.of reclaiming our spaces, voices and identity:

Retell Your Story

Each of us has a story about who we are and why. Often we have several. These stories express what we believe we can do and who we believe we can be. They define who we think we are. Stories can be positive. Narratives like “I’m great with numbers,” “ Tomorrow will be a good day” “The best is yet to come” “Kids love me,” or “Music is my calling” can inspire us to develop and give our best gifts; they encourage us to show up confidently and authentically in our relationships with others. Often, though, our inner accounts and repressed emotions have less-salutary effects. Stories like “People always let me down” or “I can never do anything right”  become self-fulfilling prophecies. They convince us that we’ll never have what we want or be what we were created to become.

 

What’s Your Story? John Sanford, in his book “Healing and Wholeness,” essentially says: “Our life must have a story in order for us to be whole. This means we must come up against something; otherwise a story cannot take place.” I daily tell communities I work with that they hold their own pens to write their own stories. I reclaim with them new stories, stories of hope and self determination. We cannot change our past. But if we stop blaming mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, ex-spouses or former lovers — or our heritage — we can redesign our future. Fear and anger keep us entrapped and, therefore, deprives us of the good life.

 

Connect with like-minded People.

We learn about ourselves and thrive in relation to others. Your identity and social space is in part of the social environments you put yourself in. We are relational beings created for connection. When we are in community with others who are striving for the same goals, embarking on the same journey of self-improvement, and can encourage and motivate us when we need it, we win. There comes a time in your life where the circle you are part of no longer helps you to grow -where you fall into old patterns of behavior, rather than soaring to a new level of yourself. That’s a clear indication that a new identity, a new space and  a new voice of yourself is wanting to be re-generated, it just needs the right opportunity to grow.

Work towards accepting yourself.

If you are in a constant state of self-judgement it’s like trying to see yourself clearly through a rain of fired arrows- you aren’t letting yourself just be long enough to see yourself, let alone feel strong and confident. How can you, when you are focusing on the negative? Of course being told to accept yourself is all well and good, but if you do feel down on yourself already it can be that sort of advice you feel worse for hearing.

The secret is to not focus too long on the idea of acceptance, but to as quickly as possible focus on real actions that lead you in that direction.

Re-Defining Who are now

The way you see yourself directly affects the way that you perceive the world around you; everything is filtered through the prism of your identity, from the way you interact to other people to the way that you think. Your “self” lies before you like an open book. Just peer inside and read: who you are, your likes and dislikes, your hopes and fears; they are all there, ready to be understood. This notion is popular but is probably completely false! Psychological research shows that we do not have privileged access to who we are. When we try to assess ourselves accurately, we are really poking around in a fog.

 

Princeton University psychologist Emily Pronin, who specializes in human self-perception and decision making, calls the mistaken belief in privileged access the “introspection illusion.” The way we view ourselves is distorted, but we do not realize it. As a result, our self-image has surprisingly little to do with our actions. For example, we may be absolutely convinced that we are empathetic and generous but still walk right past a homeless person on a cold day.

 

 

At the core of all human behavior, our needs are more or less similar. Positive experience is easy to handle. It’s negative experience that we all, by definition, struggle with. Therefore, what we get out of life is not determined by the good feelings we desire but by what bad feelings we’re willing and able to sustain to get us to those good feelings.Here are a few examples we all struggle to achieve:

 

  • People want an amazing physique. But you don’t end up with one unless you legitimately appreciate the pain and physical stress that comes with living inside a gym for hour upon hour, unless you love calculating and calibrating the food you eat, planning your life out in tiny plate-sized portions.
  • People want to start their own business or become financially independent. But you don’t end up a successful entrepreneur unless you find a way to appreciate the risk, the uncertainty, the repeated failures, and working insane hours on something you have no idea whether will be successful or not.
  • People want a partner, a spouse. But you don’t end up attracting someone amazing without appreciating the emotional turbulence that comes with weathering rejections, building the sexual tension that never gets released, and staring blankly at a phone that never rings. It’s part of the game of love. You can’t win if you don’t play.

God calls us to go deeper

Each person is born with an unencumbered spot, free of expectation and regret, free of ambition and embarrassment, free of fear and worry; an umbilical spot of grace where we were each first touched by God. It is this spot of grace that issues peace. God calls us to go deeper in our search for the spot of grace that issues peace,to look again and again, to discover the Divine Beauty in the people we meet and the circumstances we find ourselves. In all the seemingly ordinary, poor, broken, vulnerable, small experiences of our day, we begin to see our God – the One who was born in a poor family, helpless and vulnerable; the One who hung broken and disfigured on the cross; the One who stood a wonder to behold in His Resurrection. He is here with us.God had created man with characteristics that He possessed and He desires for man to live that out. I believe strongly beloved, that God in that moment was saying, even as how I have dominion in the heavenlies I am granting you that dominion in the earth.

 

My friend, you are working with your false identity until you feel good about yourself. You don’t need a reason to feel good about yourself. You are good enough. You deserve a great life. You are worthy of having great relationships. When you know this in your heart – not just your head – your life will transform.Determine your direction and your purpose. Without a direction, it is easy to be at the mercy of those around you. By establishing your purpose, it infuses everything you do, and you can easily remove all odds, interactions and activities.Remove toxic people in your life and find those that embrace you for who you are. This step has been one of the hardest. You can’t thrive in the same environment you got sick in.  This might mean something different to everyone. Maybe you just need to delete that contact, or maybe you need to switch schools. It may be lonely for a while, but once you find your true friends, it will all be worth it. If you already have supportive friends, spend time with them!

Remember, you are a beautiful work in progress. You are so much more than a body, a label, a grade, or a number. You are fearlessly authentic. I hope these tips will inspire you to support you in your journey to reclaim you space, your identity or space. If you have tips about reclaiming your identity, share them below!

 

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Taming monsters in your life: Your Journey to The End of The Rainbow

Koffee with Joe

It was 8 PM. I was riding Toronto Subway from Spandina to Lansdowne. As reminisced through all that had taken place during the day, I started to notice some hand unusual hand movements of the woman sited across from me.

“Don’t be like your dad, ” she shouted at her three year old son, who was trying to free her grip, wanting to walk in the train.

“Men are monsters,” she shouted, at this time everyone in the train cargo was looking at her.

“Andrew, you are a monster.”

“No, ” her son freed himself, “you are a monster.” In no time the train was in Dufferin, which was her stop. She left quickly holding her son and shouting at him. As she left the cabin and as the doors closed I wondered why she has so much bitterness, I wondered why she repeatedly called men “monsters”. Could she had…

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Keep hope up, no matter what 

Koffee with Joe

Not all those who wander are lost.

– J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

When I was 10 or 11 had a disability. I remember losing control of my legs,
then stopping suddenly stopping to walk. Being disabled in a rural Kenyan community was the last thing one would want to see. It was very difficulty to get out of the bed, my mother, who at this time had other young children had to juggle around all our needs. She had also to work in the farm to provide for us, my dad did not care very much it was the role of women to look after the family. I remember crawling on the dusty floor, as our two bedroom thatched and mud house was not cemented. I remember trying to chase my younger siblings on my knees unable to catch up with them, I remember crawling on the bumpy ground looking for the best spot (with lots of sunshine) to take a nap.

I remember my mum and sometime neighbors carrying me on their backs to take me inside the house. I remember being pulled on a sack (sisal bag) back to the house. There were many embarrassing moments such as going to the bathroom right in the bed because I could not crawl or get help to go to the outhouse. My family and I had to endure this moments of shame, desperation and fear of living for the rest of my life handicapped.

That all changed one day, after my mum’s prayer. I started to have feelings to the feet again. I was so happy and I was ready to restart my life again. I had been in that condition for more than a year. I could not wait to start praying soccer again, I could not wait to go back to school, my dreams were renewed and I could not wait to live my dreams again. I now live in Canada, my experiences working with persons with disability in Canada has been very different from what I and other persons with disabilities have to go through in countries such as Kenya.

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In Kenya, the traditional view of disability often focuses on the individual, highlighting in capacities or failings, a defect, or impairment. This focus creates obstacles to participation on equal terms since an individual who seems to lack certain capacities may not be able to attain autonomy. In Kenya, many children with special needs are considered a bad omen by some families and are therefore locked in and denied opportunities for personal growth and development. It was and (possibly) very painful and difficulty to be disabled in a rural  village in Kenya and if your family is poor you suffer even more. This is what I had to go through for a year.

I can never take walking for granted, it is a gift. I can not imagine what would have happened if I never walked, I would still be crawling or I might have died by now, and if I was still alive I would have caused many more shame to myself and family. For many people who have been fortunate to get out of their dire and desperate situation you probably feel like it will never change, you were born to be in your situation. I can not completely walk in your shoes but I am here only to encourage you, to mention to you that may be your miracle has not happened like it did for me but do not want you to lose heart. It is by responding in the proper ways that we are able to progress toward our dreams. God gives each of us dreams to strive for. Yet for a number of you those dreams has not yet been accomplished. You have encountered many obstacles and setbacks and now your dream seems distance and unreachable. Those are the obstacles that we see. I am always reminded that every obstacle that we overcome and every hardship we endure serves to make us stronger. Make a list of difficult circumstances you have endured and what you have gained from them. For example, losing a job may prompt some people to further their education and learn a new trade thus opening the door of opportunity to bigger and better things.

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via Think Big, Dream Bigger: Lessons from the Koi fish

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Keep hope up, no matter what 

 

Not all those who wander are lost.

– J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

 

When I was 10 or 11 had a disability. I remember losing control of my legs,
then stopping suddenly stopping to walk. Being disabled in a rural Kenyan community was the last thing one would want to see. It was very difficulty to get out of the bed, my mother, who at this time had other young children had to juggle around all our needs. She had also to work in the farm to provide for us, my dad did not care very much it was the role of women to look after the family. I remember crawling on the dusty floor, as our two bedroom thatched and mud house was not cemented. I remember trying to chase my younger siblings on my knees unable to catch up with them, I remember crawling on the bumpy ground looking for the best spot (with lots of sunshine) to take a nap.

I remember my mum and sometime neighbors carrying me on their backs to take me inside the house. I remember being pulled on a sack (sisal bag) back to the house. There were many embarrassing moments such as going to the bathroom right in the bed because I could not crawl or get help to go to the outhouse. My family and I had to endure this moments of shame, desperation and fear of living for the rest of my life handicapped.

That all changed one day, after my mum’s prayer. I started to have feelings to the feet again. I was so happy and I was ready to restart my life again. I had been in that condition for more than a year. I could not wait to start praying soccer again, I could not wait to go back to school, my dreams were renewed and I could not wait to live my dreams again. I now live in Canada, my experiences working with persons with disability in Canada has been very different from what I and other persons with disabilities have to go through in countries such as Kenya.

DnFRuJKU4AA8ywC

In Kenya, the traditional view of disability often focuses on the individual, highlighting in capacities or failings, a defect, or impairment. This focus creates obstacles to participation on equal terms since an individual who seems to lack certain capacities may not be able to attain autonomy. In Kenya, many children with special needs are considered a bad omen by some families and are therefore locked in and denied opportunities for personal growth and development. It was and (possibly) very painful and difficulty to be disabled in a rural  village in Kenya and if your family is poor you suffer even more. This is what I had to go through for a year.

I can never take walking for granted, it is a gift. I can not imagine what would have happened if I never walked, I would still be crawling or I might have died by now, and if I was still alive I would have caused many more shame to myself and family. For many people who have been fortunate to get out of their dire and desperate situation you probably feel like it will never change, you were born to be in your situation. I can not completely walk in your shoes but I am here only to encourage you, to mention to you that may be your miracle has not happened like it did for me but do not want you to lose heart. It is by responding in the proper ways that we are able to progress toward our dreams. God gives each of us dreams to strive for. Yet for a number of you those dreams has not yet been accomplished. You have encountered many obstacles and setbacks and now your dream seems distance and unreachable. Those are the obstacles that we see. I am always reminded that every obstacle that we overcome and every hardship we endure serves to make us stronger. Make a list of difficult circumstances you have endured and what you have gained from them. For example, losing a job may prompt some people to further their education and learn a new trade thus opening the door of opportunity to bigger and better things.

 

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carpe, carpe diem, seize the day

Today is July 10,2019. I am writing this story as I fly to Bloodvein First Nation in Manitoba Canada. The morning looks gorgeous, with lots of sunshine. As I look through the window of my plane, I am awed by the beauty of the vegetation. It’s all green, full of life and hope. Crops look beautiful, every farm look well trimmed and full. As we fly over Lake Winnipeg, I see total beauty, clear water, small island and calmness. It is a beautiful day indeed!
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Surely, I can’t imagine that in a few months all of these vegetation and Lake Winnipeg will be covered with snow and a long cold winter. That’s is sad to imagine but that will start to be the the reality starting in October. Where am I going with this? In my short life on this earth I have come to realize that our time in every season of life is limited. Everything and everyone has an expiration date and we will eventually pass from this world. The thing is, we have no idea when our time on this world will end. So, while we’re still alive, we have to live life to the fullest.
There is no better way to explain this than it is shown in the movie Dead Poets Society. The movie has these scene where on the first day at school, the English teacher, Prof. Keating (Robin Williams), drags his boys out of the classroom into the hallway and shows them the pictures of graduates who were the legends of the school – those who had died, but had contributed a verse that would not be forgotten. He says:
“Now I’d like you to step forward over here. They’re not that different from you, are they? Same haircuts. Full of hormones, just like you. Invincible, just like you feel. The world is their oyster. They believe they’re destined for great things, just like many of you; their eyes are full of hope, just like you. Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of what they were capable? Because, you see gentlemen, these boys are now fertilizing daffodils. But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. Listen, you hear it? …”
In order to emphasize the point, he brings them closer to the photos and whispers in their ears:
“Carpe… hear it? …carpe, carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.”
In doing these, he wanted them to be the best they could; to take life by the scruff of the neck and live a life filled with passion and joy. But sometimes the fight can leave us for no obvious reasons. Which is why we must never forget to tell those around us that we love them. That we will lift them up when they are down. That we will not forsake them. Because God never forgot us – and He made us to be extraordinary.What is carpe diem? Why is it so important? What if we don’t carpe diem? and How can we live by this phrase?
Carpe diem is a quotation from the Roman poet Horace (65-8 bce). It appears in the last line of Poem 11 in the first book of his Odes, which was published in 23 BCE. The Latin word carpe refers to seize, and diem refers to day.
Carpe diem is a way of thinking, perceiving, and approaching daily life. It simply means to seize the day and to know that yesterday has already left you, and as for tomorrow, you have nothing to prove that it will be yours. In which case, your true life is the present day. Thus, make the present day the most important day of your life. Seize the day, catch the wind, and use all of your potential before it is too late to reach your goals and to realize your dreams.
“We are food for worms, lads,” announces John Keating, the unorthodox English teacher played by Robin Williams in the 1989 film Dead Poets Society. “Believe it or not,” he tells his students, “each and every one of us in this room is one day going to stop breathing, turn cold, and die.”
I am reminded of a story I recently read about the Cherry blossoms, also known as sakura in Japan. The Cherry blossoms are the most commonly used symbol of mortality in all types of art in Japan. The blooming season of cherry blossoms are brief, between Married and April of each year, resulting in instant beauty and immediate death of the flower. They, therefore, serve (within the Japanese culture) as reminders of humanity and mortality since, like cherry blossoms, a human being’s life can end at any given moment. The human condition is epitomized through the cherry blossom, alerting people that life is too short to waste away and that people should live life to the fullest.
The Cherry Blossom period and Dead Poets Society movie are our reminders of how fragile and transient nature of life is , with the cherry blossoms’ short lives reflected in lovely falling petals, and the unpredictability of peak days reflecting the power of nature beyond human control. We should therefore enjoy the moment’s incredible beauty while it lasts.On a daily basis, we should remind ourselves that life is indeed too short and precious to be wasted. This means you should not put precious things and people off or on hold. Pluck the day trusting as little as possible in the future, because the future may never be. It’s now. Pluck your fruit now. And if you are lucky enough to have another day to pluck more, you will see tomorrow, not now. Now, you can only see now! That simple. Make the most of it, waste the least of it.
What makes us miss the opportunity to live for the moments?
  1. Lack of vision. One of the biggest reasons people miss opportunities to live for the moment in life in life is simply because they have no hope and vision for living. A lack of vision can cripple your ability to look on opportunities that may be right in front of you. You must learn to train yourself to be sensitive and alert to opportunities that come along, and you can start by taking stock of your current situation, setting achievable goals for yourself in the present, and developing visionary long-term goals for your future. Doing so should enhance your ability to evaluate potentially advantageous situations and make you more keenly aware of opportunities that may truly be right for you. Additionally, while evaluating situations and circumstances on their merits is a prudent course of action, avoid the urge to be inflexible and closed-minded; opportunities can present themselves in completely unexpected ways.
  2. Fear is another huge obstacle that keeps people from seizing opportunities. Fear can come from many different sources: past failures, lack of self-confidence, overestimation of possible problems, uncertainty or concern about taking a loss, etc. However, sometimes in life chances need to be taken if you are ever to progress, so fear must be overcome regardless the source. Having vision and ambition may not be enough if you do not have the willingness to persevere. Hence, work at bravely meeting challenges and fostering confidence in yourself. Adhere to your convictions with constancy, and behave in a positive, proactive manner. If you do these things, you will likely find fear easier to overcome and opportunities more accessible. And remember, failure is not necessarily an ending; it may just result in a new beginning. Many extraordinarily accomplished people experienced failure before ultimately achieving success.
  3. Listening to doubting voices. In Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott shares an ingenious method for coping with the critical voices in your mind (the ones that say “I can’t do it” and “You’re ridiculous to even try.”) Your critical teachers (and the not-so supportive friends you may have had) are all in your head when you’re trying to seize an opportunity. Instead of letting their negativity reign, try to isolate one of the voices and imagine [it] as a mouse. Pick it up by the tail and drop it into a mason jar. Then isolate another voice….And so on….Then put the lid on, and watch all these mouse people, clawing at the glass, jabbering away. This exercise helps you to mute the volume on the voices that don’t serve you.
Today, remember that every of your encounters, even seemingly random ones, has a purpose. Every single person whom you encounter, even someone unpleasant, is put in your path for a reason. Always be open to hidden, unexpected possibilities in every one of your experiences. Every encounter, even the ones that ostensibly seem superficial, will offer you an opportunity to be kind, or be helpful, or to refine your emotional attributes. When you travel, even if its for business or pleasure, always be open for the spontaneous encounter that can change your life and the life of another.
As a Christian I am blessed to know that true life living for God and living for others. As I serve First Nations of Manitoba in my capacity as the Regional Coordinator for Jordan’s Principle, facilitating services for First Nation children and their families I am reminded that I am a helper, so I should serve with compassion and love. The one thing that helps me in seizing the moment in my service is to always have a sixth sense, serving from the heart and listening well, even for what is not said or heard. This helps me to me to be close to the hearts of many families and to also to promptly respond to requests based in the best interest of the child.
We have all been placed in this world for a reason, we have expiry dates but God has given each of us ample and short time to do something, you and I are in that prime time (where we are in life) to blossom, like the Cherry Blossom 🌸 we should enjoy the moment’s incredible beauty while it lasts. What is that one thing that you die to do it but have been putting it on hold, step up, now is the moment. Do it. This is your moment to blossom. Just like Professor Keating says in this lines:
“Now I’d like you to step forward over here. They’re not that different from you, are they? Same haircuts. Full of hormones, just like you. Invincible, just like you feel. The world is their oyster. They believe they’re destined for great things, just like many of you; their eyes are full of hope, just like you. Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of what they were capable? Because, you see gentlemen, these boys are now fertilizing daffodils. But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. Listen, you hear it? …”, so I am calling you too, step forward, seize the moment, blossom now, tomorrow is not guaranteed.

Think Big, Dream Bigger: Lessons from the Koi fish

maximize_potentialsKoi is the Japanese word for carp, a brightly colored type of flesh water fish. The fish come in a variety of colors and have symbolic meaning in China and Japan.

One fascinating thing about the koi fish is that if you keep it in a small fish bowl, it will grow to be only about two or three inches long. But if you place it in a tank or a small pond, it will reach six to 10 inches. But if you put it in a large pond and it may grow as long as a foot and a half. However, if you put it in a lake where it can really stretch out, it has the potential to reach a size of up to three feet. Amazing, isn’t it? The bigger its space, the more it will grow in size.

Similarly, people are like the koi fish. Each individual has the potential to grow their vision big, beyond the dimensions of ones boundaries. I was sharing this story with First Nations leaders recently, I told them for us as we envision the future of our children we call to happen what we  see in the future.  I believe that the future of strong First Nation communities in Canada lie with the generation of today.  In our discussions we envisioned the land based healing that First Nations can lead, the leaders talked of land based wholistic education as a pathway to wholeness and self determination. Seeeing this happen keep me excited, it keeps me eager to see the dream we are working on together come true… just like Koi, the bigger the vision and dream the bigger the outcome.

Imagine that you have no limitations on what you can be, have, or do in life. Just for the moment, imagine that you have all the time, all the money, all the education, all the experience, all the friends, all the contacts, all the resources, and everything else you need to achieve anything you want in life. If your potential were completely unlimited, what kind of a life would you want to create for yourself and your family?

Dream: A Tale of Wonder, Wisdom, and Wishesby Susan V. Bosak. This beautifully illustrated book examines the power of dreams, and how we find the courage to achieve what we wish for. It is filled with inspirational quotes and poems about pursuing your dreams, no matter how big or small. Listen to your middle school students’ conversations, and you will hear of aspirations to become the next big NFL star, famous actor or actress, or even president of the United States. However, you may also hear of goals that will touch your heart.

I want to speak to leaders or Mangera for a moment, you as a leader are the ones who can establish such boundaries in your organization, you have the opportunity to create a small or larger limits to your  team’s potential, you can choose  to grow slowly, you can choose to stay on one place, or you can create a boundless environment where better opportunities are provided for the team to uncover their hidden potentials like the koi fish.

In my experience as a leader of different projects here in Canada and Kenya, I have found out that the limiting factor that restricts people with gifted abilities from excelling is fear. Fear is one of the most powerful forces in life.  It affects the decisions you make, the actions you take, and the outcomes you achieve. Who you are and what you do has at one point or another been influenced by fear.  And while the primary role of fear is to protect you, fear very often becomes a significant obstacle that stands between you and your  your dreams. It is therefore the responsibility of each lead to lift that cap and unleash every team member’s potential just it’s for the Koi fish growth potential.

Do not stop at the peak, keep looking for new peaks to climb. Look at Google. Google became famous for its search engine — and its leaders probably could have stopped there if they simply sought fame and fortune. But the tech giant has debuted Google Earth, is testing Google Glass, and has created the first self-driving car. How’s that for dreaming bigger?

Always be constantly improving.
“Whenever I go on a ride, I’m always thinking of what’s wrong with the thing and how it can be improved.” Walt Disney

Walt believed in the future. He insisted that Steamboat Willie have the sound synced and recorded, unheard of for a cartoon at that time. Before Snow White, there was no such thing as a feature length animated film. After it became a huge success and literally changed the film industry, it led to the success of several more beloved Disney classics like Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland and Fantasia. Walt Disney could have rested on his laurels, but that wasn’t his style. Instead, he completely switched gears and set out to build an amusement park where parents and children could have fun together. Once Disneyland opened, Walt would walk around the park, personally testing all the rides, noticing if anything was out of place and asking the guests their opinions. If he noticed something was wrong, he would personally see that it was fixed. As his animators could attest, good enough was never good enough for Walt Disney.

Take action. Simply wanting something is not enough. Reaching your goals is no one else’s responsibility but your own. Goals written down on a piece of paper are a great idea, but if you don’t go out there and take action, then what’s the point! You must do everything you can to get what you want. If the overall task seems hard, break it down and do something small each day. Taking small steps consistently over time will eventually lead you to reaching your goals. As the saying goes, it may not happen overnight but it will happen, as long as you keep taking action.

Big dreams lead to big things.
In the Cartoon strip of Charlie Brown, Peanut and the Gang, Snoopy was the biggest dreamer of them all, but his wild imagination often led to even wilder, more fantastic adventures in real life. Snoopy knew that you must have a big dream if you are going to lead a big life. Keep your dreams alive all the time. Every day you should become a little better than you were the day before. If you can become one percent better daily, you can recreate your life every 100 days. Learn to get better daily; look for ways to improve, to be kinder, more intelligent, and more helpful.

Never give up.Most great accomplishments are 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Nothing happens overnight. You can accomplish anything if you put your mind to it. All achievements, no matter how big or small, need just a little stick-to-ness, determination and a lot of hard work. 

Handy Hints

People that get into the habit of dreaming big will accomplish those goals because they have the right mindset. You need to look at life with the Koi fish perspective that you can achieve anything that’s possible. If you can accomplish big dreams, why wouldn’t you go after them? Why would you want to settle for small dreams?

What if money, time, looks, and gender were no object? What would your biggest dream be? Often we short-change ourselves. We listen to others’ put-downs, and internalize them. It’s hard to remember our dreams. Harder still, to imagine that we could achieve a dream. Take Walt Disney’s words to heart. Start dreaming. Then believe that you can achieve your dream.

 

 

 

 

via Yes, But Syndrome

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Yes, But Syndrome

So you’ve just ended a phone conversation where you were looking for some concrete help, and now you feel frustrated!

Thinking back on it, you realize that “yeah but” was repeated (by you) at least three times. You want advice, yet the conversation took turns that didn’t feel satisfying.

Image result for Yes, But SyndromeI know I am not alone on this, have you ever suggested something to a friend and had them respond, “Yes, but…”?  Or have you yourself made that comment?  I call this the Yes, but Syndrome, and I’ve worked hard to put it out of my life.

All too often, the “yes, but” phenomenon can be heard in ordinary conversation. One person makes a positive statement; however, for some strange reason, the listener feels compelled to respond with: “Yes, but…and so on.”

There have times where I have found myself  suffering  from YBS. I find myself  judging my ideas than imagining them. Yes but it will be probably be too much work. Yes but it has probably been done before. Yes but it will probably be too expensive. Yes but it probably will not work. Any one of these internal judgments would prevent me from fully imagining an idea and would certainly prevent me from sharing it.

I know I am not alone on this, so many of us often find ourselves saying, “Yeah, but he constantly watches what he eats…” about a thin friend. Or we say, “Yeah, but he’s a slave to his schedule…” about someone who achieves multiple goals. Or we say, “Yeah, but he took on way too much risk when he started his company…” about a successful entrepreneur.

Yeah, but that’s how success works.

Here is the thing.

​The reason we find excuses is because we’re looking for them.

Let me say that again.

The reason you find excuses is because you’re looking for them.

You’re looking for a way out. You’re looking for a reason why whatever you want to achieve is not possible. That way you don’t have to put yourself (your ego) on the line. You don’t have to be vulnerable, and actually ​try​.

Instead, you get to remain comfortable, eating potato chips, masturbating to porn, and pretending that you’re happy with your life.

The reason you fail to achieve your goals is because the mental framework you have for​ achieving them is flawed.

You suffer from what I call “Yeah, But” syndrome. Here’s how the conversation goes in your head:

“I really want to start my own business. ​Yeah, but, ​I don’t know how to start a business.”

“I really want to travel the world like Cam does. ​Yeah, but,​ I don’t have any money to do that.”

“I really want to finally quit gaming for good​. ​Yeah, but,​ I don’t have anything else to do with my time and I would just be bored all day.”

Yeah, but?

You may believe joyful celebration is the best time to challenge the troops. Usually it isn’t.

If you think so, then you minimize past success by using it as a platform to challenge people. “Great job everyone! Yeah, but we’re behind schedule for our next project.” Yeah-but moments are kill-joys and de-motivators.

You can challenge everyone tomorrow. Today, pause and celebrate.

Instead of “Yeah, but”… use “Yes, and”.

Look, achieving your goals is not easy. There are obstacles… there are adversities… and ​who  cares!​ ​None of that has to stop you from going for it.

The only person who is stopping you is YOU.

But accepting potential obstacles isn’t the only thing you need to do. You also need to commit to action. Action is what will get you the results you’re looking for.

Which brings me to the next phrase in our new mental model: “And, so…”

And so here’s what I’m committed to doing (action!) in order to achieve this goal.

Always do your best.

Some days your best will be different than on other days.  Figuring out how to maximize your best self is important.

Remember: In every situation, do the best you can.  Removing yes, but from your vocabulary is a good start.  Don’t beat yourself up and remember yes, AND.

What is your yes, and story?  Share it with us.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Mind of Putting Others First

Japan is known as a very polite society. People bow to show respect and to greet one another with a measure of humility and respect. Drivers are very patient with each other and with pedestrians and will quietly wait for others. Sometimes while waiting for a red light drivers will turn off their headlights to avoid shining their lights into the eyes of others. Vending machines are places in all sorts of places and they are left alone—I’ve never seen any of them vandalized in any way. When using an escalator everyone lines up behind one another on the left side leaving room for anyone who might want to walk up more quickly.

Image result for GREAT LEADERS PUT THEMSELVES SECOND

The best way to show others how important they are to you is by putting them first. Giving your friend the biggest piece of cake, your relative the most comfortable seat in the restaurant, your guest the center position in the photo, or baking a cake and sharing it with your neighbors are all part of everyday life in Japan.

Focusing on our own needs can protect us from burnout and other negative consequences. However, in the leadership world, this focus often crosses into a decidedly more selfish territory. In today’s complicated workplace, if you don’t put other’s needs before your own, you will lose in the long-term. If losing in the long-term isn’t big enough, when you put the needs of others before your own as a leader you do two big things.

The biggest investment you can make in your people is your time. Your team wants to spend time with you. Giving your time is a surefire way to let them know how much you care. Spending quality time with your team will impact their job performance directly and will, therefore, have great impacts on your bottom line. Spend time connecting with them as often as you can. Talk to them about non-work related topics and show genuine interest in them as a person. You’d be surprised how much this will mean to your team.

A final thought

So, whilst you might be a very integral cog within your team, you are a lot less integral without the people beneath you. Pay them heed by showing them you understand that it’s not all about you and that business success is dependent on them as much as it is you.

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Surviving a broken heart

Koffee with Joe

“It felt like my heart had been torn out of my chest.”
– Jennifer Lopez on Ben Affleck, in her memoirTrue Love

“In the beginning, you tamp down the animosity for the kids’ sake. “I’m not going to deny that I went through the wringer. But I don’t think I doubted we’d end up here. That was always my dream, that the kids can have two loving parents that show respect for each other. And I feel that’s what they have.”
– Elin Nordegren on Tiger Woods, People


“I think when I came into marriage—especially when you’ve had divorced parents like myself… You’d want to try even harder to make it work and you don’t want to fall back into a pattern that you’ve seen happen in your own family. I desperately want it to work; I desperately love my husband and I wanted to share everything together. And…

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be proud of how far you have come

During a war 15 soldiers lost their way in the desert then suddenly they found themselves in the face of an enemy camp that had at least 400 soldiers. The enemy noticed them and shortly they started chasing them.

14 men ran away and only one man decided to stand his ground and fight. The man was shot in his arm then luckily a sandstorm came that allowed his friends to save him and run away.

The 15 soldiers survived the war. They didn’t win this battle nor they even won the war yet the man who stood his ground lived feeling proud of himself for the rest of his life.

images (40)Why is it that many of us spend a lot of time faulting ourselves for what we think are our imperfections? Why waste our time thinking this way in the first place?

Instead of reflecting upon this negativity, we should be doing the exact opposite. We should be focusing on the reasons to be proud of who we are and what we’ve accomplished in our lives thus far. With this in mind, when you feel the urge to think negatively, take a moment to remember all of the reasons why you are a great person who is worthy of self-love, self-respect and self-pride. Despite having many inevitable flaws, there are so many reasons to be proud of yourself exactly as you are.

Think about it, this time last year, where were you? What were you doing? What state of mind were you in? Then please be proud of you, be proud of how far you have come. Sending infinite light love blessings, may all keep their journeys strong.

The feeling of pride comes because you have the resolve to keep going and keep working on the things that are important to you, and because you’re honest and truthful to who you are. It’s only when we deviate from that, that we then lose that sense of pride — when we’re following somebody else’s agenda, or when we’re worried about what everyone else thinks of us, or when we don’t live up to our fullest potential.

Instead of it being all about these measurements and scale indicators and dictators, what if I’m proud of myself because I showed up today? I did the work at the gym. I put in everything I had in that moment.

You don’t have to feel guilty about being proud of yourself.  It’s completely different than going around showboating or telling the world how you’re the greatest thing since low-cost index funds.Telling yourself that you are in fact proud of the efforts you putting into your life is really important. Even if you aren’t necessarily working towards a goal, it’s still important to be proud of yourself. It helps to train your brain to be more positive. You should be proud that you’re aware of the discomfort and the dissatisfaction and you should be proud that you’re one step closer to finding where you belong, one step closer to finding what makes you happy.Even if you’re not in a relationship or you’ve been single for too long, you should be proud of your heart. You should be proud that you’re not settling. You should be proud that you’re not sitting at home crying about it day and night. You should be proud that you’re not sacrificing your life for something out of your control, for something you can never guarantee. You should be proud of your love whether it succeeded or failed. You should be proud of your heartbreaks because they shaped you into who you are now and they’ve taught a thing or two about people.

Even if you’re lost or unsure of what you want or who you want to be, you should still be proud of your journey. The way you ask questions and try to find their answers. The way you deal with the bumps on the road and the way you handle your pain. You should be proud because being lost means you’re not following the crowd, you’re not following the rules, you’re trying to find your own way, your own light and your identity. You should be proud that you’re not afraid to walk a different path.

Even if no one is proud of you, you should be proud of yourself because this is where it all starts, this is what changes everything, this is how you rise and this is how you stay on top. You have to root for yourself even when no one is rooting for you.

You have to look at the things that people don’t notice or see and give yourself a pat on the back. You have to believe in yourself before you make anything happen. You have to prematurely be proud of everything you’re about to accomplish.

The thing is, we’ve been conditioned to believe that we have to do something extraordinary and brilliant to be proud of ourselves. That we have to be rich, famous, successful, married with kids and in great shape to be proud of ourselves.But sometimes you have to proud of the small battles you fight and win that no one knows about. Like smiling after a traumatic experience or being there for someone when you can’t even help yourself. Like giving someone who hurt you a second chance, like telling someone you love them when they’re heartbroken. You have to be proud of the things that people don’t see. You have to be proud of everything that happens behind the scenes even if the movie doesn’t make it to the box office.

“Don’t wait until you reach your goal to be proud of yourself. Be proud of every step you take.” ~Karen Salmansohn

It’s not about being perfect. It’s not about achieving some crazy, lofty goal. It’s about, in that moment, doing what you can do and being proud of yourself for that.Look at the glass as half full — look back and see what you’ve done so far, and feel proud of your progress. Be happy about how far you’ve come so far, even if you have a long ways to go yet.

You have to be proud of your minor accomplishments because some days, you really need someone to clap for you and cheer you on and you won’t always find that person next to you. They won’t always be available to validate you. Being proud is more than just a feeling.  Being proud is showing self-respect.  We would never allow someone else to disrespect us so why not shut down the self disrespect and just be proud.

The key is to step back, and look back on what you’ve done. Sure, I missed some workouts, but look at how many I’ve done! And it wasn’t long ago when I wasn’t even a runner at all! Instead of beating yourself up, celebrate your success, no matter how small!

Every victory will not always be a “big” one but that doesn’t mean you can’t be happy that you weathered the storm.Being proud of you is a celebration of you for weekend and evening workers. Being proud of what you do every day. So, what are you proud about today? And tomorrow?