Friday, October 14, 2011

Lessons at my Granny's knee

I started a series on the people that have been very instrumental in shaping and forming me into the person God planned for me to be.I am a work in progress,but I can definitely look back and see the impact that specific people had on me without even realizing or knowing it.One of such people was my maternal grandmother, or Dada as we called her.
Dada was one tough old lady.Having grown up in one of the remote portions of colonial Ghana, she grew up without formal education and learned to farm and to trade.That was what she did to take care of her family of five children,my mom being the second.My earliest memory of her would be her sitting on her little stool out in the sun weeding( yes weeding!) or cracking nuts or some such thing,and this was no mean feat for someone who was almost 70 years old.She was always doing something.If there ever was a firm believer in hard work.it was my grandmother.No idleness for her!That is one thing I have come to appreciate about her.She knew that there was so much to do and so she didn't believe in wasting time.

Perhaps the one thing I will always remember her for is the fact that she insisted on me learning to speak my mother tongue.I was about five or so and couldn't speak it very well, and she came and said I was going to learn to speak it whether I liked it or not.I am really grateful for that because otherwise I am pretty sure I would be lost if I had to go to my hometown!

Some of the best memories I have are of her telling us stories about growing up in her time and the things they did.She would also tell us all these parables and riddles that set us thinking till we could solve them.She would always give us kids a piece of meat from her bowl because where she grew up that was the culture.One of the most valuable cultural lessons she taught me had to do with honesty.She grew up in a large family, and this was fairly common in those days, so whenever the kids were eating together they had to find a way to split the meat fairly among them.What they would do was pick one person to split the meat into equal pieces and then everyone would take their share, but in order to ensure that the person doing the splitting up did not cheat ,he/she would be the last to pick their piece of meat.Morale of this?Be fair otherwise you get stuck with the smallest piece of meat!That was just one of the many things she taught us and I am grateful to have known and spent time with such a grand old lady.When she died I was devastated, but she was pretty old by then.I was in college at the time and she had already been ill for a while.She would always be complaining about being cooped up and so sick she couldn't do anything.She just hated being idle but I guess she had no choice then.It was tough on her and on all of us to see this feisty lady confined in such a way, but through it all we remembered that it would only be for a short while.

I thank God for her life,( because otherwise I wouldn't have been born)!But seriously, she taught me the importance of respecting your culture and the need for hard work.For that I will always be grateful.I do miss her, especially running to her whenever I got in trouble with my mum or auntie, knowing that she would be there to listen and protect me.It is an honor to be her grand daughter.
(image courtesy: jonathanpritchard.co.uk)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Inspiring People Episode 1


Hiiiii! I hope you are all doing great!Its been quite a while.I have been working on so many projects that it has been tough to stay in touch, but I am back now(hopefully for good…lol).
Over the next few weeks I would like to share some information and inspiration with you in the form of real life stories about real people who have challenged me to become more than I was and I am now.These people may not seem too extraordinary to you who may know them, but they have helped form me with the help of God into the person I am now,and I believe you can also let their example challenge you to excellence.
I will mention the names of those who have given me permission to do so and will leave out personal details for those who would prefer to remain anonymous.Also keep in mind that some of this stuff will be just one time encounters or ongoing ones, but it is the effect they had on me that I am trying to capture on paper.
The first person is a man who has changed not just my life but countless others.He is a motivational speaker,a philanthropist,miracle worker,a change coach and refresher of life.I met him when I was very young and my life has not been the same since.He changed the way I thought, behaved and walked.
So many things about him challenge me,but the one thing that has totally revolutionized my life is his non selfish nature.He is such an epitome of love that he gave up all that was important to him in order to ensure that the dreams of others would become realities and their lives would be changed.I have decided to model my life after his because there is no better role model for me to follow.He is the person who challenged me to dedicate my life to helping others with my whole self.The One Cedi Foundation would not be in existence if not for this man.Everything I have done and am doing, I can say, was because he motivated me to dream of these things and to take action to see those dreams come to pass.
I used to dream only of making my family proud.That wasn’t bad in and of itself, but it was self centered.After meeting him I realized there was so much more I could do,so much that I had that could change the world, if I would only dream of making an impact, and he was right.I cannot imagine how mediocre my life would be if I hadn’t changed my dreams to those I have now.
I am grateful to him for so much and to day I would like to say thank you to him.This man is none other than Jesus Christ himself.With his life teachings,he transformed my mind.With his death and resurrection,he transformed my heart and my soul.I salute you,Lord!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

In the Beginning....



Wow!It's been such a long time!I guess I have some explaining to do and we will get around to that shortly,but I cannot wait to share a little something with you.
One of my favorite things to do is to curl up in bed with a good book or watch a funny movie when I am ill.I watched a great movie a while back and I learnt such an amazing lesson from it that I decided to share it with you.It was a hindi movie and as far as hindi movies go,one of the best I had ever watched.The story line of Bhootnath(that's the title) was basically about a small boy who moves into a haunted house with his mom.The ghost living in the house had succeeded in scaring away all previous occupants of the house,resulting in a large house nobody was willing to live in.When this small boy and his mom moved there and the haunting began,he got scared initially.Then his mom told him that ghosts did not exist so the person he was seeing was an angel.He believed his mom and from then on,any encounter with the ghost was to his favour because he was no longer afraid of his tricks.Eventually,he and the ghost became friends and the ghost stopped terrorizing his family.
This movie was a funny and interesting movie to watch,but it was the lesson I learnt from it that was really important to me.That little boy had more courage than me!
No seriously!I know some of you will laugh at that but he did!It was just amazing watching him face the ghost head on and laughing at all his antics.The ghost would do something crazy and he would imitate him even though he couldn't really do the same.He just would not back down until he had the ghost eating out of the palm of his hand!
That boy taught me to face my fears and challenges head on and not hide under the covers.I learnt to deal with my issues immediately instead of running away from them(like I normally do).
Sometimes in life we need to have this child's perspective.View the things that would normally scare you out of positive tinted glasses and you will see them as opportunities to grow.So today do yourself a favour and face that challenge head on.After you do,don't forget to tell me all about it right here!Maybe its time you asked that girl or that guy out....or told the truth to a hurtful person......or cleaned under that bed(lol)..or..I don't know what it may be,but time to stop being a coward about it!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Yvonne Nyavor

Yvonne Nyavor: "Yvonne is a not for profit fundraiser with experience working with several Charities and Not for Profit Organizations.Currently,she is the projects director at the One Cedi Foundation,a Not for Profit Organization she founded in late 2010.The Cedi project which raises funds to support several charity and social change projects also conducts several projects which aim at impacting society positively.Yvonne also volunteers as a business consultant,helping to grow and nurture several start up companies.
"

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

If I had a million dollars....



I spent some time a few weeks ago asking several friends what they would do if they had a million dollars. Quite a number said they would quit school or their jobs, buy houses, cars, settle down and invest the rest of the money. Some said they would simply travel the world and then set up their own businesses. A very small proportion said they would continue schooling and get their PhDs.

Listening to all these views, one thing became clear to me: a lot of us have tied total achievement and fulfilment in life to money. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but there is more to achievement and fulfilment than money. What about family, relationships built over time, moments of laughter and fun, the shared times of pain and sadness? I could go on and on, but for the lack of space ( and your time..) I’d like to just touch on one- the import of making an impact on the world around us.

We seem to always be concerned with ourselves, our dreams, our plans and our lives, but we forget that we live in a world full of more people than ourselves. After school, after getting that good job, after settling down to enjoy our wealth, what next? Is that really to be the sum total of our existence? Is that to be all our lives would count for at the end of the day? What about the children who are dying? What about the poor and hungry the world over? What about that family just down the street who needs someone to just come speak a few good words to them? How about that young lady with a low sense of self worth who just needs someone to tell her how beautiful and lovely she is? What about the dying love deprived world waiting just for you to show some love? What about all the corruption and injustice in the system you can do something about? What about.......?!

The list is just endless. There is so much more to life than just you and your desires. We are living in a society where we are becoming increasingly self absorbed and self-ish. We seem to be only interested in what we can do for ourselves and our families ( if they are lucky!).That is why we need to be asking ‘What about...?’

So what would I do if I had a million dollars? Probably end up giving most of it away, but hey, life isn’t all about ME! What about you? What would you do if you had a million dollars?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Garbage In, Garbage.......?

(Cartoon by Rob Rogers, originally published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
Two guys(Kofi and Kwaku) were walking along one day when they came across a big pit in the middle of the path they were taking.They stopped and looked curiously at each other, wondering what it was doing there.Suddenly, a genie appeared and said, 'I am here to grant one wish to each of you.All you have to do is jump in the pit and say what you want as you jump and it will be yours'.The guys were a little skeptical but decided to give it a try. Kofi took the first turn.He went back a safe distance, came running at full speed and jumped into the pit, shouting 'Gold!' as he jumped.Instantly the pit was filled with Gold and Kofi was a rich man.Now it was Kwaku's turn and he smiled excitedly, knowing exactly what he was gonna ask for.He went back a little distance and began running towards the pit.However, he failed to notice a rock embedded in the way and just as he was about to jump he stumbled.Hence the one thing he shouted when he jumped was....?Can you guess?If it were you what would the word be if suddenly, out of nowhere, you stumbled while on your way to attaining your dream?What is the first word out of your mouth when something unexpected and bad, in your opinion, happens suddenly?Well, like most of us, Kwaku said 'Shit!' just as he jumped because he stumbled, and the big pit was filled to the top with,well,shit!(sorry to use such language).
So what is the moral of this story?Well first off when you see a pit in your way it is not necessarily bad news.You could get a genie!
But seriously, I told this story because it illustrates so well the principle that we should be careful what we say because we just might get it. But you know what we say is a direct result of what we listen to, read and watch?
That means if you watch a lot of stuff with cussing and swearing(all the s and f words you can think about) you end up cussing and swearing.In computer language, garbage in, garbage out.
So you are walking along and stumble and you are likely to say 'S**t'.You are going to get what you say, so feed your thoughts with the right things.That way you can still shout 'Gold!" when you stumble.After all, you don't want to end up in a giant pit full of poop, do you?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Playing God?!



I was hanging out with a few friends over the weekend and the conversation turned to what each of us likes to do and our interests. I of course talked about my love for genetic engineering and all things to do with genetic modification. I mean when you consider the potential benefits of being able to target particular genes, eliminating those that are harmful to us and maximizing the impact of beneficial ones, I am usually amazed that this is even possible. Some of these genes can be transferred between different organisms in order to help mitigate some the negative impact that human activity has on the environment. Of course something like this can be potentially dangerous in the hands of the wrong people (we don’t want another Adolf Hitler, do we?) and there are a lot of ethical issues involved. One the biggest issues so far has been that everything has been created the way they are for a purpose and “messing around” with them may upset the natural balance. In simpler terms, we are attempting to ‘play God’.
I happen to believe that at least some of the issues raised are legitimate, but that is not the reason why I brought this up. Try to imagine for a minute a world where everything is within your realm of control-the economy of the world, the health and lives of your loved ones (and your enemies!), the course and direction of your life, the ability to cut off anything in your life that is not beneficial (sort of like genetic engineering right?) and the power to do anything you dream with no limitations in your way. You’d like that, wouldn’t you?
Unfortunately not everything can be controlled in this way. If we could have control over all the components of our lives......wow! But the fact that we can’t control everything doesn’t mean that the ones that are within our control should be left to the wind. If we can, by our own initiative and desire for growth, earn more than we are earning now, we shouldn’t just take what we make, complain about it and then spend it all (with no thought for the future if I may add).If we can use our time to achieve more than we are doing now, we should. If we can achieve all our dreams with just some more effort on our parts, then why not?
I guess all I’m trying to say is that if we can engineer our lives by removing those bad habits and bad associations and adding on good habits which will produce better results than we have been attaining, then why not? If this means we are playing God with our lives, well then I don’t think that is such a bad thing is, is it? So technically not every circumstance can be within our control, but what have we done to affect the ones that are within our realms of influence?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Ahora! Now is the time!


I started taking Spanish lessons sometime ago and I am really enjoying it.One word I learnt was 'Ahora' which means now.Now I didn't just get up and start learning it.I actually started talking about learning it years ago but just never got round to it.Lectures, church, personal stuff, friends etc. etc. took up so much of my time that I felt I just couldn't do it.So I kept putting it off and postponing it even though it was something I knew I'd enjoy doing and I also knew it would help me.It took me about 6 years to finally buckle down and start learning it.
Does any of this seem at all familiar about your own life?Do you REALLY want to do something but never quite get around to it?Are you always finding excuses and stuff to do with your time?Now in my case I can say that it wasn't absolutely essential that I take the language lessons.It was just something I wanted to do because I'd enjoy it and it would be a plus for me to learn something new.Unfortunately a lot of the stuff we put off doing are not in this category.Some are life and death stuff, others would simply improve our lives if we would just commit to doing it.Some things need to be done and it doesn't matter if you wait a whole year-you're still gonna have to do it!
Here is a classical example.What words are as music to a student's ear?What makes a typical student really happy?Can you think of an answer to that?OK you are probably right so here it is:NO CLASS!Nothing makes us happier!It rains in the morning and we are happy because we have a good excuse to go in to work late.We feel just a touch of fever and we immediately call in a sick leave.Sound familiar?That's probably because you do it a lot too, but the interesting part is if we had gone to work when we were supposed to or that class had come on, we wouldn't have to do it later.No matter what, the syllabus has to be finished and that target has to be met so why PUT IT OFF?
I think it is just human nature to put off things we find hard to do or we think is hard to do, but at the end of the day what needs to be done needs to be done so we have to learn to deny ourselves the pleasure of procrastination for a moment; that will save us a life time of 'If Onlys'.As our elders say in Ghana, 'the slap that is yours is better taken now rather than later'.So today make up your mind to act now.Don't sit on that idea any longer.Don't wait till tomorrow to make that call or render that apology.Learn something new today and you will be glad you did.
Ahora!Now is the time!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Greatest part of pain

All of us experience pain at one point or the other in our lives, some more than others and some pain more severe than others. It is a normal part of living and growth, whether it is losing someone dear to us or getting hurt in our day to day relationships, but what we do with it determines the impact it will have on us. Sometime ago I experienced a very painful situation, and my reaction to it pushed me to find better ways of dealing with painful occurrences in my life. Generally, we all respond to pain in a variety of different ways, but there are 3 simplified responses:

1. Run Away!

Most of us do this more often than we know when confronted with difficult situations or hurt. For example, when we are very interested in a particular friend’s welfare but the person keeps blowing us off, we tend to just shrug and walk away. Most of us ( I am a culprit myself) say to ourselves that if the person is not interested in us, then it is not worth it. Another aspect of running away is retreating into ourselves to prevent further hurt from occurring. We stop doing some things we normally do eg. phone calls and text messages etc .I run away mostly by staying in bed watching funny sitcoms and laughing. I find that a few hours of this helps me feel better. I also like going for church programs and music shows that can help me take my mind off stuff. To each his own, right?

2. Volcanic Eruption

This is my personal favourite even though I don’t respond that way(most of the time).It is quite interesting to observe such a person at the peak of their anger.It is like observing a hurricane. They tend to become angry when in pain so lash out at anything and anybody around them.This type of response is very destructive so we need to try and limit our responses in this manner as much as is possible. Most of the time they are not really angry with others but with themselves. So don’t worry if you know someone like that-he/she isn’t angry with you! What helps such a person is a listening and patient ear so that they can vent and get it out of their systems.

3. Cry baby....

The term cry baby does not necessarily mean a cry baby. It is a figurative expression referring to those of us who tend to cry in response to pain. Almost all of us cry when in pain, especially unexpected excruciating pain. I cry even when I read a sad story or scene in a book, so I tend to cry when in pain. The tears help take some of the pain away and I get an excuse to eat ice cream!

Regardless of the response we give when we are in pain, one thing we all need to do is deal with the pain as completely as possible so that we can move on. Pain helps us to grow and mature. This happens especially when we can honestly examine ourselves after a hurtful situation, acknowledge our faults maturely, apologize if necessary and move on! Staying in that painful moment does not contribute in any way to improving our lives. We may end up withered and bitter folks because of that (who wants to be a lemon right?) so it is important to learn to move on!

Finally, as the adage goes, when life hands you lemons, make some lemonade! Make the best of painful situations in your life and you will find that it becomes very profitable to you.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Vitamins to maximise your 24

A wise person once made an observation. He said that time is the stuff that our lives are made of. If that is the case for every one of us, every second and every minute that passes by takes us one second or one minute closer to the day of our death. We may not like it but that is the reality. Our lives are spent in seconds, minutes, hours, and days before years.

Time is one of the most valuable, if not the most valuable gifts that God has given unto us. What we in turn do with this gift is what He will be judging us on after we die. So the question is what ARE we doing with our time? Are we busy with nothingness or are we spending our time meaningfully?

I believe that a lot of us have challenges with time optimisation at one point or another in our lives. For some of us it is a chronic problem. We wake up in the morning and twelve hours later or eighteen hours later we wonder what we have actually achieved during those hours or we ask ourselves where the time went. For most of us, this happens once in awhile, but when it happens too many times in a row we need to begin to consciously check what we do with our time.

Experts in the field of time management have come up with what is called the time management quadrant. The theory is a simple one that says that all the things we do with our time can be divided into 4 main categories:

1. Urgent

2. Important

3. Not urgent

4. Not important

A majority of us spend a large percentage of our time on either category 1 activities or category 4 activities. We are either busy trying to deal with important emergencies or we are doing things that are neither urgent nor important. Out of these four quadrants, the one category that can help us maximise benefits is quadrant 2 activity. If we will do what is important in time, they will never become urgent. The important things are what will help us realise our dreams and plans.

So this year, decide and plan to keep to important issues most of the time. Do not allow them to become emergencies. Spend some time with those you love! Do that assignment now! Go over those study notes today! Finish up that presentation or proposal! Whatever it is, don’t wait till it becomes urgent. Act now and you will realise you have become more productive because of it.