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Opinion feet…

We live in a world where it seems like every Tom, Dick and Harry has an opinion. I suppose one of the triggers of this, is the fact that, the more advanced society becomes through technology and access to information at our finger tips, the more power lies in the hands of the majority. This is even more evident in this Knowledge Revolution/Era. If you look at social media, if something happens in the world people will start voicing what they think about it. ‘Everyone’ seems to have an opinion about Trump, Jacob Zuma, Mugabe. ‘Everyone’ seems to have an opinion about Africa, about China and about where the world is going in 2030.

At work, at gatherings with friends, and other events with people, you will always find people engaging in broadcasting their opinions about various matters.

I find that opinions can sometimes be overwhelming because, they are not always transformative. Sometimes they seem like “just words in the air” with no real power to make our world better in any way. It is also important to acknowledge that we live in a period where most nations encourage freedom of speech and it has become a part and parcel of people’s democratic human right. I am by no means against freedom of speech and it’s good that people are encouraged to engage in it, but of late I’ve been going through this journey of saying to myself, ‘I want to withdraw from this pressure of always giving opinions. I want to be deep in thought and think things through and in matters where I am not an expert, I want to be able to say I don’t have a comment. In matters where I am an expert, only if what I say will build and it has an action component, then I will open my mouth and give an opinion.’

I find that, what makes opinions powerful is when they have ‘hands and feet’. This means that they can be translated into something more meaningful. So, if I’m unhappy about a situation, the question I should ask is- ‘what can I do?’ in the spaces that I find myself in and where I can influence change, instead of only uttering words of discontent. I want to shift my focus and look at tools, skills, resources, etc. that I can use to influence change so that the opinion becomes something that ‘walks’ and moves beyond the sphere of words.

Things I’ve learned in the past 10 months…

The year 2017 is ending soon and a few days ago I was having one of my reflection episodes. Reflection is so powerful because it enables me to focus my mind on being grateful and progressive. I know some may ask, why not do the yearly reflection right at the end of 2017. I keep realising that we don’t know what tomorrow holds and as people we live as if we are immortal, but we not. Every moment that we have an opportunity to see a new day is truly a gift from God.

A few people close to me know the details of how 2017 started for me…it’s been one heck of a year! Full of surprises, both good and bad. But I must say this is truly one of the best years of my life…I have grown more in 2017 than the previous past two years. So, I’ve learned a few things along the way and I just wanted to share some of those things here…so here goes my list:

  1. God is my provider truly and NOT my job. I will write another piece someday just on this point alone!
  2. Tough situations always work out for Good – Just pray, laugh and rest.
  3. When days are dark, your true friends shine through!
  4. Have more than 3 good friends (you can send me a private message on this one and I will expand further ?).
  5. Family will always open their arms to you…the saying is true “there is no place like home”. Enjoy every moment with your parents, siblings & some relatives. Life is too short don’t spend it with people who don’t love you like your family does.
  6. Not everyone is going to be patient to see your dreams through with you, and that’s OKAY.
  7. Life will not ALWAYS go according to plan…but that does not mean give up!
  8. I didn’t know this about myself but, I AM a risk taker and I love it!
  9. Invest at least 30 minutes a week working towards something you love. If it means sending emails for opportunities, attending workshops, researching, reading up, strategizing etc.
  10. Have FAITH! Just believe! Trust in God and you will experience “crazy” peace even when things are falling apart in your life.
  11. Have shameless persistence! Knock on doors even if you keep receiving no’s/declines…one door will eventually open.
  12. When an opportunity to travel anywhere arises grab it! Travelling will change your life for good…
  13. Savings! Savings! Save a significant portion of your income so that should you be out of a job, your savings can carry you for a year of unemployment.
  14. If I have not bought my house and car cash, it’s not really mine…If I lost a job and every asset that I have is at risk of being taken/repossessed, I am not financially free.

Hold that thought!

We all go through periods in our lives where sometimes we find it hard to attach to a language. So, one of the most liberating things in life is being able to put into words and explain to someone in a very simple way, the complex activities of our mind. I recall how a few weeks ago I was taken aback by something someone said to me. They had completely misunderstood and misinterpreted what I AM about. So, for a few days I was trying to make sense of the statement because at the back of my mind, I kept thinking to myself ‘hold on a sec, that’s not true, that’s not who I AM’. I attempted to come up with a response strategy packaged with perfect words. My aim was that when I respond to this person again, they should be very clear about what I stand for. I was kind of losing my peace about this until in my heart I heard the proverb which says, “As a man thinks in his heart so is he” Proverbs 23:7. Man, in this context expressing both male and female.

I wish I can fully express how liberating it was for me to hear those words. It felt as if God was saying to me, “Stop trying to convince people of who you are. If you believe you are something good, then you are that, stop and rest.”

If you live your life wide-open to wisdom, you will begin to realise that the world around us is awake and full of such great insights. In that same week as I was scrolling through Instagram, I bumped into a video which Khanyi Dhlomo shared (P.S If you don’t know Khanyi Dhlomo- please google her, this piece may not fully do justice to her accolades ?). She had been presenting at a women’s conference and one of the key concepts she shared in her presentation was a question she packaged this way- “What do you put after your ‘I AM’? “I AM…two of the most powerful words because what we put after them and what we believe about what we put after them shapes our reality” – Khanyi Dhlomo. Immediately I was convinced, if I didn’t hear the first voice, this was confirmation. She echoed how the legendary Mohammed Ali believed/ “had a thought” that he was the greatest even long before we all came to know him to be the greatest boxer.

Did you know that holding certain thoughts about your life is not just ‘wishy washy’ and ‘soft fluffy’ stuff? According to scientific research, thinking affects gene expression in cells of the Brain and the rest of the Body. This in turn affects the structure, function, and the health of the Body. This study is called Epigenetics. It’s not only what we eat, but also what we think that CONTROLS how our genes are expressed- for better or for worse. As people we have a choice to eat healthy or not and we also have a powerful choice to control our thoughts and reactions in a good or bad way.

The research continues to grow and advocates that the human body responds physically to what it THINKS reality is. Thus, thoughts have a larger impact on our DNA and health than ever imagined (https://renewingallthings.com/).

I don’t know whether this was a third and final confirmation, but realising that the kind of thoughts we hold can literally affect every area of our lives. This has made me feel much more at ease that I can control my quality of life even as I age. It has also made me realise I should be more conscious and proactive at fighting thoughts that are negative.

In a nutshell my friend if love, kindness, peace,joy, progress, growth, innovation, etc, comes to your mind, please HOLD that thought!

It always seems like death has won…

The last couple of days have been filled with great sadness. My beautiful cousin passed away last week and this weekend we laid her to rest in a dignified ceremony. As the different speakers came to share insights about her life, one after the other they echoed similar sentiments about how she lived her life to the ultimate fullest. It was as if she knew her time would be limited. Her beauty was an absolute gift. I always used to say to some people when they would make comments and offer to rate who in their opinions was the most beautiful women in the country. And I remember I would say ‘wait until you meet my cousin’. She is/was undoubtedly maybe in the top 5 of the most beautiful women in the world. And trust me I’m not exaggerating; other people can confirm this statement. When she entered a room or any gathering you couldn’t help but notice her, it was like she became the very light of that space….

I think more than anything, my cousin’s passing really shocked the whole world because her death was so sudden. There was no warning in a sense that she was not sick, in fact she was young and so full of life. Her death remains a mystery that I have chosen to make peace with.

She has been on my mind from the first time I heard she is gone and I know it sounds silly but I keep thinking this is one big dream and we will all wake up from it soon. It’s truly unbelievable, it just does not make any sense…

I know many people who have lost loved ones will probably relate to the mixed emotions one encounters of confusion, pain, anger etc…

In my solitude, I kept asking the Lord, ‘why her?’ ‘why did she have to die so suddenly?’ ‘why God?’ and for an entire week those questions kept consistent in my mind…

I started panicking and having a sense of fear of what would happen if I suddenly lost the people I love the most…in my mind I think I will not be able to survive. On Monday God spoke to me and I heard in my heart, “remember the words TD Jakes spoke at Whitney Houston’s funeral?” Immediately I went on to listen to the recording again and I love the words TD Jakes echoed and he said, “In moments like this it feels like death has won but the Bible says Love is stronger than death…”

And he goes on to make examples of great individuals who did great and extraordinary things but who eventually died. But his rendition was, death is just a transition from this life to the next. Though we may lose our loved ones outwardly, we never lose them inwardly. They will be a part of us if we keep their memories of the amazing times we had with them alive…they are the very image of love and God is love. Love can never die…so we can always live with the conviction that though it may seem like death has won…it can never win because Love is stronger and Love has conquered death. These words gave me strength to make peace with my cousin’s passing. This is the truth I choose to believe and I choose to see life and death through the lens of LOVE.

*This article is dedicated to all our loved ones who have passed on. They will forever remain in our hearts…*

 
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