Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Taking Stock : May 2017

Making: Serious career and life decisions that will determine my future. They were right when they told me that in my 30's I would buckle down with an  undisturbable intense focus on what I needed to achieve in this life time. I think my purpose is clear. Now I know exactly what I want... my energy is sooooo focused on how to get there. At the beginning of this year I attended Dine and Dream which has helped me keep track of my progress thus far. (I wrote about it here). I am enjoying this process. I am thankful for this process. With God's guidance, this is a time of clarity and Work, Work, Work...

Drinking: Hibiscus Tea, which I bought for my Dad, but I ended up drinking some of his stash. Only cost me 5000ugx a pack in Nakawa market. Worth it!

ReadingJust finished reading David and Goliath, now that's a book everyone should read and one that I will write about on this blog sometime soon. The book helps you start looking at any disadvantage as an advantage. I highly recommend it. I also just finished reading Shake Hands with the Devil. I had to read the book because I had the opportunity of meeting RomΓ©o Dallaire last year. I was a little embarrassed that I didn't quite grasp who he was at the time.  

Playing: Playing Beyonce's Lemonade in honour of it's anniversary. I love Adele but 'Yonce deserved the Grammy for album of the year. I think last week they released stats saying Lemonade sold more albums last year than any other album released including Adele's, that is some serious shade from the academy. Also loving Tiwa Savage's All Over.

Wishing:  Not wishing for anything right now. Just trying to be present in each moment.

Enjoying: All this reading I have been able to get done! Seven books so far in the year of 2017 according to Goodreads. I hope I beat my book challenge this year. I think I have five more to go. 

Writing: Finished a short story in March. Haven't been writing much since then. Hoping to get back into it this month.  

Loving: BeeWax for the skin! I bought some in Koboko because I left my trusted Shea Butter at home and I needed something thicker than lotion. I stumbled on this product while buying some fresh honey and I feel like I have discovered more skin GOLD. We need to do something about this. Just know I am hatching a business plan...

Eating: Eating everything and anything. My healthy eating plan went out the window after spending so many weeks upcountry. You have to eat what is available! No shame...

Needing: To learn to be a little bit more assertive in my relationships. I am actually working on this.

Wearing: The same dress I bought from Mr. Price a while ago.It needs to be banished to the back of the closet. It's actually the striped one I wore in my last Taking Stock blog post. It is too too much now, I need to give my other dresses some love.

Knowing: That prayer can help you get through some very trying moments. Must always remember to talk to God. πŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œ

Thinking: Ummm.....where do I begin?

Giggling Over: Erika from Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. She's my new favorite!

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

The People Factor by Van Moody - A Book I Praise hands Emoji

Do you ever find managing  the relationships in your life  depressing, challenging, confusing, tiring, baffling, hard, surprising, humbling etc?

Are you looking for a book that will give  you good heart to heart basic guidance on how best to nurture all types of relationships in your life?

I found this book after particularly painful experience. I was angry with myself for allowing a certain person into my life only to be betrayed. I felt I had been naive and that I needed to learn how to better manage my relationships. This book was just filled with gem, upon gem, upon gem, upon gem of wisdom. It's another book I have spoilt with my highlighter. It discusses all relationships namely family, friendships, work and even romantic ones. I have to mention that it is based on a christian perspective, there are many references and stories lifted from the bible.

"This is one of  the reasons I urged you in chapter 1 to know yourself, acknowledge your secrets in safe ways, and make it a priority of getting your heart healed."
Biggest lesson from the quote above  is to know yourself, In the book, He even  requests that you ask your most trusted circle what they think about you so that you can be aware of your person and how you come across to people. I did ask my close circle and at first they were slightly startled by my questions but because they are my people they gave me some good feedback to work on.

"One of the immutable laws of relationships is the law of sacrifice, which means everyone involved must enter into and remain in a relationship with a willingness to give, not to take."
 "Understand that giving is rarely about the gift; it is about the heart."

In other words if someone doesn't know how to give in ANY relationship, y'all are gonna have issues! Don't even waste your time hoping for change. Takers eventually exhaust the company they are in. It's draining being around such people and you'll resent being taken for granted. I have learnt to be observant in the very beginning and to see how a person behaves.  Also it's not about what people give you, its about the sincerity in giving. Don't be fooled by lot's of money, social circles or elaborate gifts look at the person's heart. Are they really making the effort to give you something special, material or non-material?

"A good candidate for a relationship is a person who places a premium on integrity ."
 "Look for a quality human being, and do not enter into a relationship until you are certain that the person is someone of character who can receive and multiply what you have to give."
I love the above quotes. It is common knowledge but how many of us actually really consider this? Most especially for friendships, colleagues you confide in, and romantic relationships.  A lot of times peer pressure gets in the way. In some environments  good character and integrity are not valued and such people are usually labeled as 'too proud'; it may be difficult for a person to choose to associate with the 'goody two shoes.' But to avoid getting hurt you are advised through this book to choose wisely.

"In relationships understanding  motives is vital"

That just goes without saying. You have every right to know why someone wants to be your friend. You have every right to question who you allow into you inner circle. You may not be able to avoid bad things happening to you but you can certainly limit the risk by questioning motives early on.

"Learning to be selective about the people with whom you walk closely will accomplish atleast two valuable  objectives for you. One, it will empower you to surround yourself with the kinds of people you need to be around- people who will help you advance toward your destiny, not derail or distract you. Two, it will keep you from wasting  your most precious commodity-your time-on the wrong people."
Van Moody gives the reader permission to not only question motives but also be selective. If you know yourself then you should know the types of people that are good for you. Be very careful about who you let into your close circle. You may find after you read this book that you need to gently and tactfully start cleaning house.

"People who add value to your life will honor God above all. They will  not bow to peer pressure. they will be secure enough in who they are that they really do not care whether others approve of them, as long as God is pleased."
"If you are in a relationship with someone who does not respect and honor God, you cannot expect that person to respect or honor you. If you want people in your life, first look to see if they are faithful to God."
This is a bit of  a touchy subject, because not everyone believes in God, But I am writing from my personal experience and I do believe in God. I have learnt  the difference between those who attend church and believe in God and those who 'respect and honor God' . trust me, there is big big BIG difference.

"Loyalty does not sacrifice people for personal gain."
The quote above just speaks to a person's character, if someone cares about you they will not sacrifice you for their own personal gain and you should not put yourselves in a vulnerable position with someone who does otherwise.

I really enjoyed reading this book, I gained a lot from it. I am still learning how to navigate through relationships and this book provided me with some essential guidance. I frequently find myself flipping through it and reading through parts that I previously highlighted so that I can reflect and internalize them once again

I am saving this book for my teenage children, it will save them many tears

Have you read any good books on relationships lately or even been given some good advice? Comment below would love hear your thoughts 

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes - A book I Heart Emoji

I want that ring and that hair! 

I am extremely late to this party, I only just finished reading this book a month ago. My friend Marianna recommended it to me. It's been out for a long while now and a lot of people have written about adopting a ' Year of yes' into their lifestyle. Surprise...surprise I won't be, but I enjoyed this book. I hope by the time you are reading this blog post, you have atleast watched some  of her series namely Grey's Anatomy or Scandal. I know people who stay up until 4.00 am on work days just to finish her series. There was time when I crushed on all the good-looking men in Grey's Anatomy, until she killed them all off one by one 😒😒😒. I kind of expected Shonda to be an unabashed titan  like her character Cristina...

"If you want  crappy things to stop happening to you, then stop accepting crap and demand something else." ~ Christina yang, Grey's Anatomy

If  you watch Grey's Anatomy them you know that Cristina takes  no  bull' from anyone. Christina is played by the actor Sandra Oh.  The character is a no nonsense trailblazing kind of woman. Love her or hate her you can't help appreciate how she's totally altered the narrative of a women in today's working world. Cristina is hungry, hungry for success in her career as heart surgeon. She will sacrifice everything else in her life. Relationships, marriage even having babies are all things she is willing to NOT have in order to succeed. The only thing she fights for is her friendships.  Shonda once said Cristina is the one character she created that she feels closest too. In fact in her book she talks about  the importance of creating this character to encourage women to be confortable making their life choices regardless of people's expectations..  Shonda has adopted children and she has publicly said she will not get married. Some very interesting  points are made in this book and I do love Shonda's honesty.

"I have been interviewed by Oprah three times. Here is what I remember about being interviewed by Oprah, a white- hot flashing light behind my eyes. A strange numbness in my limbs. A high pitched buzzing sound in my head."

I enjoyed reading this book because it totally dismantled some of the misconceptions I have about her. Who'd have thought the Queen of TV is afraid of the Queen of  the Talk Show? Shonda is a titan but she is also shy and vulnerable. A very unique combination  that makes her human. She has worries, she has doubts about herself, and who knew that until her Year of Yes she spent most her time at home or in Shondland drumming up TV gold? The book is written in such an informal style that one almost feels like it would make a great podcast series too. I was taken aback because  I expected great prose and poetry from her I guess . I am not sure why,  I just did. It was a lovely surprise, and especially entertaining that she had to drag herself kicking and screaming through the first few months of her Year of Yes.

"I thought saying YES would feel good. I thought it would feel freeing. Like Julie Andrews spinning around on that big mountain top at the beginning of The Sound of Music."
 "I mean don't worry. I'm not going to pass out, die or poop my pants. Mainly because just by telling you it could happen, I have somehow neutralized it as an option."

It's  these lines in the book (see above)  that make this book funny. There may be moments when you find yourself cracking up out loud in the doctor's reception as you wait for your appointment.

" LESSON ONE: Ditch the Dream, Be a Doer, not a Dreamer"
I think the quote above has circulated many many times. It's one of her most famous speeches to the Dartmouth College class of 2014. It's a very educative and hilarious speech which you can  read in the book as well. She didn't start out wanting to write for TV but she took a class and that's where it all began.
"What's your goal? I want to take over the world through television. I said it jokingly. But I was not joking. I was never joking. And now its happening. On the stage at the Lincoln center with Viola Davis standing beside me."

Thank you Ms Rhimes!

photo credit: A.V club

Monday, 6 March 2017

Quiet By Susan Cain- A Book I Heart Emoji

Have you ever read a book and it just changes the way you look at the world? Have you ever read a book and it changes the way you see yourself? This was that kind of book for me. I stumbled upon it on that very first shelf  at Aristoc in Garden City  Mall, the one right near the entrance with all the 'how to be a success' books that we Ugandans love reading. Quiet is all about the introvert personality type and how we need to learn to appreciate it's strengths. So in line with the last amateur book review I did. Here are some of my favorite quotes and what I loved about the book...

"Introverts prefer to work independently, and solitude can be a catalyst to innovation"

This totally changed the way I work. Because for the first time I could accept that as an introvert I don't enjoy brainstorming meetings unless I have had time beforehand to generate ideas alone. I personally prefer to take time to sit with a challenge and then return with solutions to the group. When this is possible, then that's what I do. This doesn't mean we should get rid of brainstorming meetings , just that we should encourage other methods of idea generation. What I found so great about this book is how Susan Cain addresses the concept that work places are built to support the 'extrovert ideal' . We now have see-through cubicles and open offices. Meetings can occur on a big open table rather than in a specific room.This is not bad thing it just means that if you have any introverts on the team they may not be comfortable and this may interfere with their work. According to Susan our  different personality types mean our brains are wired to react to stimuli differently, apparently you can identify this in the first few months of a babies' life! You need to read this book. 😏😏😏

I work better in solitude but I believe we've all been conditioned to act otherwise so I feel horribly guilty when I take that time to myself.Warren Buffet is one of the most successful leaders in the business world.There is a great example in the book of how his introverted nature has helped him succeed. A lot of great inventors. writers, artists, innovators worked and work well in solitude so I am taking a leaf from them.  Just read the quote below about children's favorite, Dr Seuss.

"Even the considerable more cheerful Theodor Geisel (otherwise known as Dr Seuss) spent his workdays ensconced in his private studio, the walls lined with sketches and drawings, in a bell tower outside his La Jolla California house. Geisel was a much more quiet man that his jocular rhymes suggest."

This book also talks about the history of glorifying certain personality types in different cultures. Not just our nationalities and ethnicity but our education culture and work culture. I was mind blown by this because for some reason it never crossed my mind how much this could affect the success of a person. I  am now pondering what personality types we appreciate more within the different  cultures in Uganda. Does it defer with gender, age or societal roles? I am curious. One of my favorite chapters in the book is called ' The Myth of Charismatic Leadership' .The insights on the pressures at Harvard's Business school were VERY interesting (see quote below)

"The school also tries to turn quiet  students into talkers. The professors have their own 'Learning Teams ', in which they egg each other on with techniques to draw out reticent students."

I think while it may not be as intensive in other levels of education. Most systems are geared to get pupils or students to be extrovert-like. Once again, this is not a bad thing only that it made me consider for the first time... why are we playing to only one personality type? If we have all this information about how babies grow and develop, why not try a few new things? Like not marking the quiet shy  smart pupils low in the end of the year school report just because they did not put their hand up in class often.

"If personal space is vital to creativity, so is freedom from 'peer pressure'."
The pressure to fit-in is there throughout life. If you are lucky you start to not always seek everyone's approval as you get older. But in your school years especially when you hit puberty it is ALL about NOT standing out. So how does one create a world for children that supports these challenges as per the personality types? I don't know, but Susan's book brings up a lot of those questions for us. Even some great ones about parenting.

"If there is only one insight you take away from this book, though, I hope it's a newfound sense of entitlement to be yourself. I can vouch personally for the life-transforming effects of this outlook. Remember that  first client I told you about, the one called Laura in order to protect her identity? That was a story about me. I was my own first client."

I recommend this book to anyone and everyone, but mostly introverts. It's a great educative insightful read!

Thanks Ms. Cain

P.S: Check out the Quiet Revolution website here