Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Was there life before the internet?

In the picture (above) is my dear friend and housemate Rumbi and I (I, being represented by the second laptop facing the camera that’s sat on my lap). We are on the couch working on different things on laptop computers and occasionally speaking to one another, mainly to request songs we are “streaming” [this is a one-way audio transmission over an internet network - http://www.answers.com/topic/streaming-media]. We then started talking about the population of the world (yes, all 6 billion plus people) and I said that China had the largest population in the world which we agreed but then we started to wonder which country was the largest geographically but did not know and after about 30 seconds Rumbi said, ‘why don’t we look it up online!?!)  To which we both turned back t the laptops on our laps and started searching away… in less than a minute we had the answer…Russia! Yes, just like that, at a click of a button we had out on our couch, access to a multitude of libraries and all their information were available to us…
The World Wide Web (WWW) has revolutionized the computer and communications world like nothing before. The invention of the telegraph, telephone, radio, computer and Internet set the stage for this unprecedented integration of capabilities. The internet was invented by Sir Timothy John “Tim” Berners-Lee, a British engineer and computer scientist between 1989 and1991. The Web has become a medium for collaboration and interaction between individuals and their computers without regard to geographic location. http://www.ideafinder.com/history/inventors/berners-lee.htm.

I wonder if the scene I described earlier is the idea that Sir Tim had in mind back in 1989 when he first suggested the global internet… Had he considered the possibility of groups of people in different countries around the world being able to share their every moment together through social networking sites such as facebook or twitter? Or the online dating scene that brings strangers together and sees countless relationships and marriage unions formed as a result? Had he considered the possibility that I would be in a country 8 256 km away from my parents and would be able to see them on live video as well as chat to them daily using an IM medium (instant messenger and Skype to be precise). It really is an amazing feeling each day when I get to see my Daddy through a webcam conversation on Skype each day and it is really great to be able to brainstorm ideas, ask her questions and share my day with my Mummy through Google talk, these systems and indeed the internet is so much more important to me personally because I have not seen my parents in person for a few years…The same is true about my sister in America and my brother when he was in Namibia. The internet has taken traditional distances and geographical space which used to be a barrier to regular communication and brought Zimbabwe, Namibia and America into my living room and onto my lap in my laptop.
My friend stated that she studied for her whole degree without withdrawing a single book from her university library because all the information she required was readily available on the internet. Others can complete degrees online whilst residing in a different country. With the boom of dot.com businesses, many companies exist solely on the internet and transact through online mediums without owning a single shop. The World Wide Web has in twenty years completely changed the way we communicate, how we see each other, who we can meet, how we work, are educated and how we do business for better and for worse…The internet has many dangers and like all things, there is a good and a bad, but for people like me, who have family scattered across the globe and friends to boot! It has given an opportunity for relationships to be maintained and continuously invested in, in real time… Sir Tim, I salute you!

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Life...


                                                                                                                                                                                                    
Life...is the interval of time between birth and death. 
That is the physical, mental, and spiritual experiences that constitute existence.




“If you know nothing at all in life, know this;
That yesterday is a canceled cheque;
Tomorrow is a promissory note;
 Today is the only cash you have;
…so spend it wisely…”  (S. Cha)

I recently received the quote above and I thought it quite profound in its estimation of life. I must confess I don’t often reflect on the full constitution of life and its depth of meaning…which I suppose is not prudent for one yet to navigate through life, seeking a station and place for purpose. However on this occasion I ponder on this very question…What is life?
Life can be defined as, ‘the property or quality that distinguishes living organisms from dead organisms and inanimate matter, manifested in functions such as metabolism, growth, reproduction, and response to stimuli or adaptation to the environment originating from within the organism’. However I prefer this definition, ‘the physical, mental, and spiritual experiences that constitute existence’.

A cancelled cheque refers to a cheque that has been cashed or paid [http://www.investorwords.com/5435/cancelled_check.html]. When we consider our own lives in this way, a cancelled cheque could refer to successes we achieved as well as failures we paid for. Those that were successes signify the things in our past that we got right, the battles we won, the lives we touched, the hope fulfilled and general good times…The failures we paid for refers to the those things we got wrong and the regrets of the past, the things we didn’t achieve, the battles lost, the time wasted and joy lost…I find that there are two types of people in life; those who spend a lot of their present, living in the past, regretting and living out the consequences of their failures with no hope of being present in the now. We may know that the past is time spent that we cannot recover, yet often people take the view that if the ponder on it long enough or dwell in its failures, those cancelled cheques would somehow become paid. The reality is that those who are trapped in the issues of yesterday, they completely miss living their today.

Tomorrow…the day after today…the future… the unknown…the dreams yet to be fulfilled… Those who are not focused on their past regrets are often focused on worrying about their future.  The bible tells us that, ‘no man is promised tomorrow’, that is, you do not know the day and time you will die… so what is the point of worrying? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we shouldn’t plan for our futures, but once we have made plans, we need to start making headway to achieving them by living in the now. Being afraid that you won’t achieve or succeed tomorrow often paralyses people and stops them from trying to do anything…FEAR, a state of mind that says, ‘I can’t’ often robs us of the promise of tomorrow and all its possibilities… A promissory note can therefore be described as a promise to pay a negotiable amount. Therefore God determines how much time you receive in your future which is changeable until you posses it. [http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/promissory-note.html]

Cash is the physical currency you have in hand that has a corresponding value / worth that is at your disposal today [http://www.investorwords.com/747/cash.html]. This is today, the now opportunities, the things we see, feel and experience in the present.  What we are doing with our now is what is more important than what happened yesterday or what will happen tomorrow. No is when we can make positive changes to mitigate the effects of our past mistakes on our future. Now is when we can refocus and redirect our energies into the most important things. Now is the time to make a positive impact on our local communities, invest in the future of the next generation and have an overall positive impact in the now… Martin Luther King, Jr.  once said, ‘an individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity. Life must have a purpose beyond satisfying self, seeking for its own and gaining for its own benefit…A life that constantly looks back, overlooks today in fear of what its tomorrow will bring and sets out to achieve for itself alone is indeed a wasted life…

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

For the sake of peace and progress...

    
    I have been sat here for a good portion of the day staring at a blank sheet of paper with only a topic scribed upon it, wondering how to begin… We could talk about the meaning of the word peace; typically thought to be the absence of war or other hostilities, freedom from quarrels and disagreement or public security and order. [http://www.answers.com/topic/peace]. Progress is commonly defined as movement (advancement) as toward a goal; development or growth [http://www.answers.com/topic/progress]. In order for there to be growth in the human race, children have to be born through the trauma (struggle) of childbirth. Consider the metamorphosis of a butterfly; they are by nature unique in that they go through the process of metamorphosis; a distinct transformation process from egg to larva then pupa to adulthood. [http://www.bonsaigardener.org/bonsai_176.html]. When the butterfly comes forth from its cocoon in the final stage of metamorphosis before it becomes an adult, it has to fight its way out ‘for peace (liberty) and progress’! The reason for this is that the butterfly needs to go through this period of struggle in order to become strong enough to fly and survive. The same is true for progress to take place and be sustainable.

So what then can we say about the need for peace and progress? I believe that there is certainly a climate in which we can experience peace and progress however it may not be in line with popular thinking on the subject. As we have not known a state of genuine peace since the times of the Garden of Eden, this definition of peace seems somewhat fallacious.  To think of a world with no quarrels of any kind, where we are all in harmonious agreement always, no physical or verbal ‘cold’ wars, no family disputes and dramas… Surely such a utopian existence can only exist in heaven? The reality is that the world as we know it has never been in a state of true peace as the definition above suggests. 

Peace is a progressive development from one state to another, fighting through each stage to gain a new experience of a version of it as we evolve through life. Peace is therefore very much dependent on perspective and what you as an individual deem is possible to gain from any one state in life.
A more progressive position to the norm is one where peace is viewed as the result of victory though a struggle than to think of peace being devoid of war or disharmony. Therefore, ‘ for the sake of peace and progress’, one would compromise on one part and fight their corner on the other. That is; a workable balance of needs resulting in a semblance of peace. One which is driven by the understanding that to have all your own way is to leave the other at a disadvantage which results in strife and disunity that is counterproductive in the pursuit of peace.

Therefore, peace could be re-defined as a state of overcoming in times of struggle or finding a place of victory in difficult times / situations. Peace indeed is characterised by struggle; an internal battle to swallow one’s pride, set aside one’s own choices, views and sometimes even beliefs. It is also an external struggle to ‘keep the peace’ whilst not losing your stance, finding a way not to rock the proverbial boat without selling your soul... It is a constant work of frustration by my reckoning and very much unlike the thoughts of harmonious tranquil utopian existence one ponders upon when they think of it…

The greatest progress we can make as people is to accept that our original thoughts on the matter are flawed and instead of consistently reaching out for this utopian place called peace, for the sake of peace and progress, let us recognise that peace is a journey, not a destination and that it is with each daily decision, each battle, each struggle, that we can find ourselves progressing towards it, heavenward…

Friday, 19 March 2010

Perils of consumerism



With each life experience and interaction with the world, our minds are shaped, opinions formed and decisions made which alter our viewpoints, challenge our existing knowledge and understanding. Every form of media and popular opinion that we are exposed to changes our perceptions and way of thinking. We are consistently being bombarded with advertisements, trends through an array of different forms of media. All of which have an impact regardless of whether or not we are actively involved in following them or passively. An example of this is technology (gadgets). Every few months there is a new and ‘better’ phone, laptop/computer, car, and TV / DVD system and on and on… It doesn’t stop! The temptation is too great with all that is positioned around us to desire these things. Advertisements make us feel like what we already have is outdated and invalid and that we need to consistently search and seek something new whether we really need these things or not.
Consumerism is a social and economic order that is based on the systematic creation and fostering of a desire to purchase commodity goods in ever greater amounts [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consumerism].
 
Fashion is another excellent example of this; being a great lover and ardent fan of shoes, I recall the introduction of the UGG boots, (if you escaped them you are one of the lucky few!) They are an Australian branded and made ‘snow’ type boot for winter (the irony was certainly more than I could bare…) These shoes became popular almost overnight at the ridiculous price of approx £100 and true to form, as soon as the celebrities started being seen in them, they flew of the shelves like the last few loaves of bread during the Zimbabwe ‘now you see it, now you don’t’ food crisis of the last few years!

Outrageous I know but a powerful example of how little choice one can have in life. If you ask anyone who owns a pair of these oversized boots if their choice was completely uninfluenced by who had them in the celebrity world as well as their own local circles, you will find that the decision to purchase was influenced even sub-consciously through advertisement or directly through peer pressure. I am pleased to report that on a matter of principle I refused to purchase UGG boots and deliberately chose to buy a pair of Emues instead  (another Australian brand but at half the price). My choice at the style of boots was however influenced by the UGG craze and therefore is debatable where choice stopped and external influence took over. In contrast; my good friend (whose identity will be concealed to protect the guilty!) who took a similar stance to mine in relation to the cost of UGG boots, but she spent an hour of her life filling in an online questionnaire with the promise of a free pair of these boots at the end…they never materialised!

One of the most influential pulls or pressures if you like, that drive consumerism, is the ‘keeping up with the Joneses syndrome’. It is a phrase applied to competitive acquisition: trying to have all the new things that your neighbours have [http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_does_Keeping_up_with_the_Joneses_mean]. This is the final link in the vicious cycle called consumerism. It uses advertising to tell us we are not good enough as we are; incapable of having style unless we follow their fashion, unable to connect to the world without all the latest gadgets to be able to use new technologies to do things we do not really need. It then provides for us the solution to our inadequacies or areas of lack... (...fill in the blank), and it’s sold in the nearest shopping centre or town to you. Finally it gets all your friends, family, neighbours;  people in your class at school or work colleagues to buy things and brag about how great they are and how it has changed their life. Then you see it, the look that says oh dear you still have that old version or last seasons... and you’re spurned on to ‘shop ‘till you drop!’ or ‘buy, buy, buy’ (for the gents). So next time you go out to replace that mobile phone or computer or your perfectly working radio, pause, tell yourself you’re a victim and chuckle quietly to yourself  ... 

How free is your 'Freedom of choice'?






Choice… to choose, to pick one over another… This is a concept we assume we understand without due consideration of the depth of its meaning and how far removed that is from day to day practice in today's society.  Let us start form the postulate that choice really is an act of one 'following one’s own will'.
Choice is defined as; 1. The act of choosing (selection); 2.The power, right or liberty to choose (option); 3.One that is chosen; 4The best or most preferable part. Care in choosing, an alternative. [http://www.answers.com/topic/choice]
Often choice is associated with the word 'freedom' which is often used as a prefix resulting in the expression 'freedom of choice'. Freedom is defined as the condition of being free of restraints...freedom, liberty, license. These nouns refer to the power to act, speak, or think without externally imposed restraints. [http://www.answers.com/topic/freedom]

Deciding on preferences is hardly ever done without considering, at least on a subconscious level, external influences and restraints. These can come in the form of culture, religion, race, tribe or status in society. In each of these groups there is a selection of social norms that one is to adhere to in order to be a part of that community / society. This results in altered perception / repressed expression of one’s true natural choice by temperament and character. For example, a young Muslim woman will make her choices within the confines of what is acceptable in Islam for her to do, like the wearing of the hijab headdress. It is similar in many African setting where a girl child is not as important to educate than a boy, therefore a girl child’s view on her education will be highly influenced by this thinking which could very well lead to an intelligent girl never realising her potential (thank God my parents believe in educating all children as far as the individual wants to go!). Choices made by each girl would be highly influenced by her society and the passive acceptance of its social norms, not just her choice.


The opinion and practices  of individuals with an influential role in one’s life can also shape and adapt one’s thought pattern’s to theirs which result in decisions being made in line with their views / opinions, instead of the individual reflecting inwards to discover what it is they personal believe or deem right and good.  – Influence is the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of others [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/influence] If this sort of ‘controlling power is yielded to another, then the ability to have ‘freedom of choice’ in dissipated and the result is what I like to call ‘conditioned choice’. Most people live in the realm of conditioned choice without even realising it, until something so earth-shattering occurs that forces a process of soul searching resulting in rebellion of this ‘control’. This is a common occurrence in history, colonialism and neo-colonialism being good examples. Colonised countries, having had one or two ‘liberationists’ (Those who act or begin a process of trying to achieve equal rights and status [http://www.answers.com/topic/liberation]) rise up in the minority group (which ironically was usually the majority of people), a wider variety was suddenly opened up to that group. Neocolonialism is a far worse monster than colonialism ever was in my opinion. Neocolonialism can be defined as the continuation of the economic model of colonialism after a colonized territory has achieved formal political independence. [http://science.jrank.org/pages/7920/Neocolonialism.html]. This has been said to be controlled externally of the nation by past colonial masters of the west but this is not always the case. In Zimbabwe for instance, the government and leaders operate in the ‘command, subdue and control’ style of governing which is neocolonialist in nature. The same is true for Kamuzu Banda’s Malawi where ‘command, subdue and control’ was the governing style of choice. He even went one step further in adopting ‘Hitler style’ propaganda and controlling all forms of eternal communication coming in to ensure his ‘subjects’ had no alternative influence that would give them real choice.  I remember stories of my father as a member of the youth movement for change, he became very vocal against Banda’s style of governance and calling for true independence of every man (a great liberationist). His political stance of achieving ‘freedom of choice’ and true liberty for his country resulted in a 27 years exile (a year short of my entire lifetime so far!) and countless attacks against him and his family. Why? because there is no true freedom, or choice where there is control and manipulation of one’s thought processes until said one chooses what is deemed ‘right’ by another’. 


These are obvious and clear examples of choice being inhibited to the point of non existence but there are much more subtle forms of this very thing prevalent in today’s society; political parties, educators, ‘thinkers ‘of the day, parents, those anti-religion and religious leaders. Each with their own agenda and for the majority good intentions, they all seek to push an agenda that favours their way of seeing over your freedom to choose and see for yourself.  Many like parents, educators and religious leaders operate in this way in the full belief that youy best interests are at heart whilst the others seek their own. The truth remains that anyone or thing that imposes a set of social norms or “acceptable practices” on you are in a greater or lesser extent seeking to control your choice, removing freedom from the equation.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Are you creative?


Nothing reveals the miraculous wonders of creation like the birth of a new born baby… The process is nothing short of a miracle…That a woman can grow a whole other human being inside her and then bring that life into the world and it is then able to exist independently...amazing isn't it? There is an awesome sense of surrealism at the thought that we were created in the image and likeness of The Creator of the world, the one who designed the egg fertilization process all the way through to the birthing process, DNA, nervous system and all! When we really think about it, it’s really outstanding, intelligently designed by a very imaginative Creator. Likeness denotes nature, the nature of the Creator is to be creative and design. If we were made in His image, then there must be on some level within all of us, the desire / inclination and ability to create. Now at this point you may be thinking, ‘I’m not creative! I can’t draw or write or sing or act… I don’t have a creative bone in my body!’

The term creativity generally refers to a richness of ideas and originality of thinking. It is defined as the ability to produce something new through imaginative thought, whether it is a new solution to a problem, a new method or device, or a new artistic object or form; essentially a new way of seeing (my addition in bold &/or italics). [http://www.answers.com/topic/creativity]. This is a more traditional view; that those inclined towards or with whom there is a natural talent or ability, they are the creative ones. Those who are more logical / mathematical / scientific are not. This way of thinking is flawed because there is a lack of understanding of what creativity is and therefore this school of thought is incredibly limited.
Creative thinking is looking at problems or situations from a fresh perspective that suggests unorthodox solutions. Creative thinking can be stimulated both by a freewheeling (unstructured) process such as brainstorming, and by a step by step (structured) process such as lateral thinking. [http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/creative-thinking.html]

Creativity can also be defined as the tendency to generate or recognise ideas, alternatives, or possibilities that may be useful in solving problems, communicating with others, and entertaining ourselves and others. (Human Motivation, 3rd ed., by Robert E. Franken page 396). There is a revolution going on called ‘Design thinking’ (Out of the box). This is the evidence of the fact that you do not need to be an artist to be creative. Every technological advancement, new management system, spreadsheet design, gardening project or game designed to entertain a child…No matter how seeming insignificant your idea, your quick fix or your resolution for a problem in the home, at work, with a friend…It is your inherent creative nature that allows you to sub-consciously ‘think outside the box’ and find solutions to the issues of life; that is creative! Our way of seeing is key to our creative development or indeed the reason for our stunted growth (created limitation) as people.
There are three reasons why people are motivated to be creative; 1. A need for novel, varied, and complex stimulation; 2.A need to communicate ideas and values and 3. A need to solve the problems we see around us (Human Motivation, 3rd ed., by R. E. Franken page 396). Our curious nature as people makes us ask questions, seek solutions for problems and create new things. Those who are highly creative express it naturally everyday through the traditionally recognised channels however the majority of us never even realise that we are utilising our creative nature in juggling and maneuvering through everyday life… often like mavericks!  


Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Product Placement

Product placement or embedded marketing is a form of advertisement where branded goods goods or services are placed in a context usually devoid of ads, such as movies, the story line of television shows, or news programs. The product placement is often not disclosed at the time that the good or service is featured. Product placement became common in the 1980s. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Product_placement]. Take my picture above of my dear friend, the intention of this shot was to take a picture of her to remember her by before she moved away but in the processes I captured the Coca-Cola bottle she was drinking as well which was on the table behind her. Though blurred out, clearly not the subject of the photograph, you can still make out that it is a bottle of coke. So as you peruse my work above you might be thinking a nice cold drink would be nice...maybe even a coke? That is how product placement works! The debate about the rights and wrongs of product placement are without our sphere of discussion today and I neither support nor refute its usage in a commercial setting.
There is a type of product placement that is called ‘self promotion’ [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Product_placement], which entails one advertising / selling one’s self in a socio-economic setting. I was considering this practice of product placement in relation to everyday life and our interaction with one another. People naturally use the method of ‘self promotion’ in settings that are unfamiliar, in the work environment or anywhere there is a sense of ‘needing to impress’ or gain a good opinion’. Parents do this with their children when they boast of their achievements to friends and strangers. People do this upon introduction to strangers especially in a romantic or business setting. I made a new contact recently and when asked what I do, I don’t think I stopped talking for 15 minutes! Evaluating the conversation later that night I had to ask myself, do I just do a lot of different things that were necessary to share in response to a polite enquiry (which was probably not even a genuine interest)? Or was I just going through the motions of self promotion and positioning myself for whatever contacts may be derived from this individual talking about me and all I do to a third party?

My conclusion in the evaluation process was this; if indeed the former is true, maybe I should review my workload to make sure I’m not biting off more than I can chew. If however the latter was true, I really need to work on and recognize when to use my elevator pitch!                                                                          An elevator pitch is an entrepreneur's one-minute explanation of his/her business model, often heard in an elevator and directed at anyone who might want to provide funding[or professional connections] for the entrepreneur's startup. [http://www.investorwords.com/1684/elevator_pitch.html].I realised that I had not specific intention when sharing what I do beyond listing everything I could think of. A completely pointless exercise because in reality people are not really that interested in other people or what they do unless there is a benefit to them.  With that in mind I had a brain wave, ‘Be quick to listen and slow to speak’ [James 1:19] – This is indeed a principle for all of life! You see, had I spent more time listening to who they are, what they are about and what their interests are, when it was my turn to speak, rather than state everything I do (at the risk of boring them to death!) I could have correctly placed the ‘product’ (that is the things I do that would be of interest to them) I have into a concise yet effective elevator pitch. This can be a highly effective approach, if correctly utilised in all areas of professional as well as social interaction. The key is to be deliberate in what and how you present yourself in your socio-economic discourses. Always ensuring that your audience is captured, your information current, relevant and understandable (not technical jargon) and that you allow them the freedom to speak first whilst you listen intently.

An "I didn't think I could do that!" moment...


I love children! They have no inhibitions; if they want to try something they do it with no care or concern that they might fail or popular opinion! Every day is an adventure, every failure a discovery of, 'what not to do when I try that again in a minute experience. Popular opinion bares no relevance, offence is not something they understand and fear is not in their vocabulary. So they march through life, like 'mini' Rambo's, taking no prisoners in the adventure called life. Children as a result, develop rapidly, take everything in their stride, and adapt to change easily, recover quicker and have so much more fun! 

The problem is they grow up! Once intrinsically fearless and adventurous, now cautious, predictable, triple insured (not that insurance in and of itself is bad) and busy concerning themselves with the opinion of others and 'how I will look if I...' In a nutshell, socially conditionedSocial conditioning can be understood as representing the role of 'Nurture' in the Nature vs. Nurture debate [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_conditioning]  

Social conditioning introduces us to limitations; highlighting the genuine and creating the imagined. I will take the liberty of classifying limitations accordingly; 'genuine' and 'created'. A genuine limitation for example is that a day is only 24 hours long so whatever you plan to achieve, it needs to be done in that window of opportunity. A created limitation for example is that you are born to do or be one specific thing; in schools this is supported by children being assessed and then being directed down the "sciences" or "arts" routes of education. Limitation can be defined as a limiting condition; restrictive weakness; lack of capacity; inability or handicap [ http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/limitation]. Genuine limitations are simply challenges and there is often a way to overcome them or operate within them. 

The real stumbling block is created limitations. These are the things that we are told from a young age, they can appear positive as well as negative but the result is the same, boxing you into a specific role function or journey and the result can often feel like entrapment for some who eventually rebel and choose to completely change their lives and re-invent themselves. The majority of us are not so fortunate... We live our lives in 'boxed limitation'  in the form of our race, nationality, geographical location, career paths, self-expression, relationships and worst of all fear of being different in a world governed by social norms... Who is to say that we have to choose between being an artist and a business person? Or be a philosopher and a surgeon? Why is it that we have to work in a job for life and then die? Surely the life choices of our friends and families should not hinder us from venturing out and beyond? Does one need to be exceedingly gifted at a particular discipline in order to pursue it? And if one is indeed so gifted does that mean they are destined to pursue only that discipline, ignoring any other inclination they may have towards something else? 

It is often the little things that social conditioning robs us of the most through the avenue of fear... Fear of failure being the chief of these. My mum taught me the basic fundamentals of cooking and baking. There are in baking as there are in all things, levels of skill and for me, the true test of a baker is the quality and ability to make chocolate cake. A test I have been petrified of taking for fear of failure. It’s been like that for over a decade! Silly really I know because I can make other cakes, but in my own personal 'social conditioning', a true baker must be able to make a chocolate cake. Lately as I have been pondering this very topic, I have started to challenge anything that I did not make a conscious informed decision about. Anything I did because 'that’s what is expected' or 'has always been done that way'. I am pleased to report that I embarked on a journey of no return, throwing caution to the wind and make, you guessed it! a chocolate cake...
                                   














This is it! a slice of my chocolate cake!!!

A limitation in law refers to; the assignment, as by statute, the period of time assigned: a statute of limitations. A far more positive interpretation on the word than in everyday life as it indicates a time limit within which a state of being can exist. Thereafter, things change... In the spirit of the law in putting an end to a claim after a limited period. 

I propose a limitation on the influence of social conditioning from this point on. Having had this imposition on our freedom to be all we can be; let us move forward, clear out of the boxes that have imprisoned us and stunted our growth and venture out into the world of possibilities and do all the things we just didn't think we had the skill, ability, breeding or option to do! 
Live a life without borders...

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Strength thy name is Mother

Mum & me at her MBA graduation ceremony 

The modern Mother's Day is celebrated on various days in many parts of the world, often in March or May, as a day to honour mothers and motherhood.


Mother's Day is a day when we pause and remember our mum's and send them cards, flowers, chocolate and other sweet gifts to show them we appreciate them. When I thought about this earlier I considered what my mum has done over the years, being a wife, raising six children, a God fearing woman, an entrepreneur,  professional working full time whilst achieving an MBA & PHD. My mum is amazing, because she does a lot but she always puts my Dad and her children first. 


When I think of my personal relationship with my Mum, I appreciate most how she has always challenged me to be the best version of myself, pushed me beyond the short sighted limitations I set for myself, dreamed big dreams for me and never stopped believing in or praying for me. I must be honest in that I have not always understood my mother; when I was a teenager we were forever at odds because I was head strong and pig headed and wanted to do things my way. I remember the time my Mum grounded me the day before I was to go out with a girlfriend who ended up wrapping her dad's car around a tree and the girl who went in my place was in intensive care for months and it took years from her life... I remember my Mum starting a florist shop and making me run it during my school holidays developing the entrepreneur she could see within me. It was my Mum who thought I could handle Australia on my own at 16 and Mum who sacrificed me going to her father's funeral so I could have a life changing experience that has brought me to the place I am now... I was mad at her through most of that and regrettably showed her such disrespect when I was ready simply because I never took the time to understand her then... 


As I have gotten older and have had a real exposure to different cultures and peoples in a foreign land,  I find myself referring back constantly to my mother, not so much what she said then (because I was too busy rebelling to listen) but to the testimony of her life, the way she lives. Coming home from her high powered job and putting her apron on to cook and feed her husband and family, washing my dad's clothes at the weekend rather than leaving the maid to do it, waking up at 5am to pray for the family and tend to her vegetable garden before preparing for work, making sure that if there was a good bargain going she would grab it and help my Dad keep the fridge and freezer full. She took us as children and dared to dream for better lives for us than we could ever have dreamed for ourselves, beyond our capabilities and limitations and she set the wheels in motion to make it happen (every one of my siblings has a story to tell). 


When I think of how to be a business woman, a wife, a mother, the one to aspire to be is not a person I met along the way or a character in a story or the ideal society portrays; no I choose my Mum every time because she is indeed a real life Proverbs 31 woman and I am indeed blessed as my whole family is to have such an example of strength and beauty amongst us...She is as fierce as a lioness and will defend her family at all cost. She is as gentle as a dove,  gently encouraging us and soothes us. I have so often longed for my Mum during the worst of my sickness this last year, she always had a way with me when I was sick, with her partner in crime (Daddy) they would conspire about ways to make me feel better and take turns to sit with me or pick me up form school...the time I had the mumps comes to mind, a classic example of their team work to get me back on my feet. 


So what is it that makes my imperfect human flawed mother so special and seemingly flawless and incredibly priceless to her family? Its a mother's love, there is nothing quite like it! My Dad shared with me once when my Mum was away on business about how they met and what it was that pulled his heart towards her and i'm sure as its mothers day he wont mind me sharing (thanks Daddy :-) .
Well, the scene is Zambia, about 32years ago my Dad a dashing young lawyer driving home form work to his three children having sadly lost his first wife...He was thinking to himself, how am I going to cope? What happens now? then he sees this vision of loveliness on the road side flagging down a lift and he drives past! But as he looks in his rear view mirror for a second look, he notices her legs and stops! (its fair to say my Dad has great taste and i am pleased to report that I inherited an exact replica of those legs!) Anyway, he reverses and asks where she is going and she says (cant remember where) He offers her a lift but says that he has to drop off some meat to his house so his house help could start cooking dinner for his children. They get to the house and as per normal fashion my older siblings come running out having been playing in the garden, covered in every debris to be found in the brown and muddy outdoors where a group of adventurous children would play. At the site of them my dad gets nervous wondering what my mum was making of his parenting skills with his children in such a state...Having been given the background about his first wife's passing;  my mother's response was to started to shed a few tears as she offered up a whispered prayer for these children who at such a young age had to lose their mum. She then offered to stay for a while and cook for the family (my Dad's house help was a young man so there was room for a ladies touch). It was much later,  having re-arranged a time to give my mum a lift to where she was going that day, did  my dad find out just how big that gesture was. My mum was on the way to pick up her daughter whom she had left with friends for a few days that had turned into a few weeks as she was struggling to find accommodation for them having recently become a single mother. At that moment I believe, my Dad fell in love with my Mum and then embraced my sister and loved her as his own. That very night my sister moved into my Dad's house and three became four as a whirlwind romance and courtship ensued. Soon after their marriage took place,  four became five and two years later I became six...


When I think of the ideal woman I strive to become in  my relationships, in my work ethic, in my faith, I never have to look further than my very own living Proverbs 31 woman, my Mum! Happy mother's day Mummy! 


Proverbs 31: 10-31

10 A wife of noble character who can find?
       She is worth far more than rubies.

 11 Her husband has full confidence in her
       and lacks nothing of value.

 12 She brings him good, not harm,
       all the days of her life.

 13 She selects wool and flax
       and works with eager hands.

 14 She is like the merchant ships,
       bringing her food from afar.







 15 She gets up while it is still dark;
       she provides food for her family
       and portions for her servant girls.

 16 She considers a field and buys it;
       out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.

 17 She sets about her work vigorously;
       her arms are strong for her tasks.

 18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
       and her lamp does not go out at night.

 19 In her hand she holds the distaff
       and grasps the spindle with her fingers.






 20 She opens her arms to the poor
       and extends her hands to the needy.
 21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
       for all of them are clothed in scarlet.

 22 She makes coverings for her bed;
       she is clothed in fine linen and purple.

 23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
       where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.

 24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
       and supplies the merchants with sashes.

 25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
       she can laugh at the days to come.

 26 She speaks with wisdom,
       and faithful instruction is on her tongue.





 27 She watches over the affairs of her household
       and does not eat the bread of idleness.

 28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
       her husband also, and he praises her:

 29 "Many women do noble things,
       but you surpass them all."

 30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
       but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

 31 Give her the reward she has earned,
       and let her works bring her praise at the city gate




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