The Heart Of An Optimist

Romans 15:13

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

In this hour, I do not believe that any darkness will endure- J. R. R. Tolkein: The Return Of The King

Optimist Border

Welcoming Portion
Host: Thank you, thank you. It’s so good to have you with us, Tarisai, no excuse me, I should say Tsizzles or T.O perhaps?

Me: T.O is good thank you very much.

Host: Ah, perfect. So tell us, T.O, why do you happen to have so many names?

Me: Well in boarding school I was very often called by my surname, at least at the hostel, by my guys-and to some degree-my coaches also. Names ranging from Greenbean, Coconut, Tenessee and Premises, just to name a few, were among the popular ones. These just happen to come by probably because of the way I carried myself.

Host: Really? Please do tell.

Me: I was was not always the forward, teasing or dissing-for-fun kind of person, but still held my ground and hung out with those who did gain plenty of entertainment from taking advantage of the fact that I never dissed back. This became a very admirable characteristic unique only to me.

Host: Admirable indeed. I’m very curious as to where Tsizzles came from.

Me: Yes, first I must mention what I was called in Denmark very often: T and Mr T. It was interesting because I used T.O all the time so most people called me that, but then the Danes used Mr T and the Slovaks used T. This, again, came all on its own. After being there, I briefly became a recording artist and I named myself Tsizzles because of my sizzling fresh lyrics.

Host: Hmm interesting. You never mentioned your friends having called you T.O, how did that come to be?

Me: At this point, because I was so used to being given names and following along with them, my brother one day decided to call me T.O. That then got around the family quickly. This, by the way, was in 2004 and I went to Denmark in 2006. To this day it’s still very tempting to introduce myself to everyone as T.O.

Host: Well with a name like that I can see why. I’ll bet you get this lot but, what does T.O stand for?

Me: Actually knowing that people are immediately going to be asking that, I just answer before they get the chance, with Tarisai the Optimist. A friend of mine confronted me about that with a thought that never occurred to me because I was so used to it. They said, “That doesn’t make sense. How can you be Tarisai “Tarisai the Optimist” Mzwimbi?” I just told them it was simply because I could be. Admittedly though, Optimist is something that just came from the top of my head. Having been to YWAM in 2012 where, once again, I used T.O, I was questioned about it quite often. In Denmark I mentioned that it was just a random name. In Cape Town I realized that was not going to help.

Host: What did you decide to do then?

Me: I saw that using my first name and that awesome title was not going to cut it. I really loved it though. It just made introductions easy. I then chose to define those initials as The Optimist. This means in a literal sense, anyone who calls me out, “Hey T.O!” are really saying, “Hey The Optimist,” which honestly had a nice ring to it the more I thought about it. At least this way I can rightfully be called, Tarisai “The Optimist” Mzwimbi.

The Heart Of The Matter
Host: Very nice, very nice. The Optimist. I love that. Now you obviously carried this name around for a long time, did you ever feel connected to it in some way?

Me: In fact, it’s funny you say that because being an optimist is something I discovered I lived throughout my life. Whenever I have problems that scare me, like thinking about where my life is going, or a movie I would’ve seen, or comparing where I am to where the friends I learnt with at school are, I simply think my way through that. You see, I’m a Contemplator, that I means I think first, then act and feel. I…

Host: Wait , wait, wait, sorry to cut you there. Does that mean when you get hurt, you think the pain away?

Me: Believe it or not, yes! I cannot tell you how many deep secrets or moments of regret, embarrassment or disappointment I have kind of kept in mind and briefly forgotten about then feel less negatively impacted by, after a while. It was great experiencing that. It’s always a nice way to go through anything tough that a real friend is not in a position to lend an ear at that point in time. Sadly, though, because I’m not really the chatty type, thinking about telling someone-as enormously beneficial as it is-will more often than not, be the last thing on my mind.

Host: Understable. We can all be like that sometimes. Not sure about the telling someone part. Anyways, this thinking problems away method is not something everyone can do. Can anyone, realistically speaking, become an optimist?

Me: Most definitely. You see, it’s not about the perky personality that suppresses problems. If you are the shy or very reserved kind of person, you can still be an optimist. Looking at the bright side does not mean you forget or trivialize the problems you have, no, rather it’s centered on these two factors:

1) Things can always be worse. Another person may say, “Things aren’t always what they seem.” These essentially mean things are not as bad you think they are or as they appear to be, because they can always be worse. In other words, you can at least be grateful that you still live. That’s something very easily forgotten. Someone can say, “How can losing a loved one not be the worst thing?” Simply because you could lose more than one in a short period in time or you could be the one being mourned.

2) You think the opposite of negative thoughts. It’s very natural for us to think negatively towards any kind of situation or person, this makes thinking positively very hard. It’s not built in us, therefore, thinking the opposite of every negative thought that enters our mind makes it easier for us to feel better about how we can shape our future, no matter what comes our way.

Host: That is very deep, if I say so myself. A new way of looking at optimism. I imagine this was not a walk in the park.

Me: Not at all. It took years of training. In a way, I kind of understood what it meant to be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Rom 12:2). It all comes down to how you perceive the situation.

Host: Well that’s all from me. Thank you for being with us today on Inside Out: the show that gives you an inside look into the lives of the great, making a huge deal out of what would normally be viewed as unimportant.

Once again T.O thank you.

Losing Touch

Courtesy of reinventingmyselfinto.com

A lonely soul searches deep
Far and wide for a connection
Whether brief or worth the keep
Matters little as does perfection

Bumpy roads one does find
Value similar to a handshake
Swift a loss as second in time
Discovering many a path to take

Beauty from the inside out
At last a friend one can call
The only thing spoken about
Inseparable as peas in a pod

The feeling created from within
Words can only fail to describe
One finishes what other begins
A relationship firmly defined

Alas water now falls from eyes
With circumstance tearing asunder
Looking forward to what’s left behind
Experiences so great a wonder

Acquiantance with immense a pain
Comes not from life’s huge blow
But a visit back to memory lane
From neither party ever known

Ever since that fateful moment
A reconnection does not exist
As if never sought, never chosen
Was never born and never lived

Balancing Life: The Semi-Circle Of Rhythm

Courtesy of decorativeartefacts.co.uk

The Presence Of The Pendulum
Life presents us with a lot of opportunities to achieve something meaningful, do something amazing, and change someone else’s life. The real truth is we all have a chance to do this every day in one way or another, it all comes down to how we spend our time. Whether you are the busiest bee in town or the laziest sloth or feel that way, everyone has those moments to make something happen.

The worst period in my life was what I call, “The Sloth Years,” not because things did not progress fast enough in my life but because I did not have much to do! It is one thing  having one gap year in your life, I had three! That is the effect, strength and power of a lack of purpose. I literally had none. I was completely eaten up inside. The truly terrifying part was that a side of me felt impassive to the situation while the reality of it sunk in every now and then. The weight of being unproductive increased with each passing day as it horrifically became lighter at the same time. My comfort zone was all I understood. I created a world separate and distinct from civilization. The pendulum froze in one position the whole time.

Glimmer Of Hope
Before heading to Cape Town to learn video production I was a recording artist. This provided some sense of productivity but still lay in the shadows of laziness. I put effort into writing songs and fortunately managed to record a few. The artistry was similar to that of a preschool kid’s drawing. Things did not escalate past a mixtape. You could say I that received an E for “Effort.” It really hits you hard when your mind produces nothing but a vacuum as you dig as deep into it as possible in search for understanding and knowing what you were made for. Thankfully the birth of this blog emerged from those wilderness days as well. In the end they did not turn out to be completely futile. Despite this the pendulum now remains motionless on neither side of where it ought to be.

The Pain Of Overcommitment
The real truth is brought forth from the deception of overworking. After I finished my video production and film school courses, I became part of staff. A different but amazing experience. From shooting company projects to shooting and editing training ones, it stretched me and gave me a sense of fulfilment. The problem came when I found myself doing more than I bargained for. I was in charge of production equipment, garden tools, the computer lab, guest house, the staff offices, students’ theory and practical classes and homework, and finally reporting false alarms! Numerous times my plea for aid in splitting my tasks was briefly reviewed and ultimately denied. I was exasperated often but the time that consumed me with rage was when my beauty sleep was disturbed (yes even the small amount of peace I fought so hard to obtain, was taken from me), once again because of student assignments. I had no weekend. None at all throughout that year. This time the pendulum swung to the other side, held back from progression like a broken record.

The Balancing Act
After a cold year of searching for the job that suited me, I found it, then it departed from me no thanks to shareholder challenges. This opened the door to freelancing which has provided some freedom. I am currently juggling three jobs and they make every second spent in that year with work torture worth it. The pendulum finally swings smoothly from left to right, the way it was designed to. Finding the equilibrium between work and rest can be a full day job in itself but a reward worth more than the effort required to attain it. When you discover the value of working from your rest as much as the necessity of resting from your work, you begin to see how beautifully shaped each day turns out.

Tell The Right Story

Courtesy of versemag.com

After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.”
― Philip Pullman

People very often miss the beauty of the joy and wonder of story has in everyday life. We are beings that thrive and live on the essence of story. It is our life’s staple food. We tell stories more often than we both realize and give ourselves credit for. All it needs is the right trigger: What happened?

Closing Open Questions
The six valuable questions we learned in our English class to some degree get lost in conversation. I think the only one that is used most appropriately (unintentionally might I add) is “What”? The most unsettling conversation I have both seen and been in are the ones where open questions have to be thought of in order to get the person saying something! Yes an expression of lack of desire can be a huge deal breaker when it comes to straight answers. The sad thing is the recipient giving off these vibes does not realize it a lot of the time. Body language is what they become completely oblivious of. This leaves you wondering if you in some way are at fault. It can at times feel like a dagger piercing right through you with each attempt to get something out of them other than, “Fine, ” and “Good.” You start asking yourself some of these open questions:
When did I get this boring?
Why is sh/e not in a good mood today?
Where is their mind right now?
How can I change this atmosphere?
Who can help me in this situation?
What would they do if they were in it right now?

The Mystery The Open Book
Have you ever been around those people whom you feel there is nothing you do not know? I remember in my mini Bible school course, literally on our first day, I sat down with a student who spilled pretty much all her guts out in front of me after sitting down for about 5 minutes! I was thinking that most of the info should only be disclosed after knowing each other for at least 2-3 weeks. You know, build up to those sensitive and intense pieces of her life. Then I realized that it was in her personality. Strangely enough, when I spoke to new students the next year, since I was now staff, some of them confirmed my theory. Glad you asked. It was the fact that it was more or less a cultural thing. I first thought it was family culture until I found out that it stretched much farther than that. Then there are those friends who lie on the other side of the coin. The side I described above: the reserved.

How do you treat open books? Do you take advantage of their carefree attitude? Do you encourage it even more? Are you not concerned of possible pain that could rise from too much information? These people will need to learn the art of guiding their thoughts in order to communicate clearly because it is very easy to mix up two or more feelings in the same story, especially when they are two completely different ones only to them.

“Funny how a beautiful song could tell such a sad story
― Sarah Dessen, Lock and Key

Musical Touch
Upon reading that some may come to mind. Keep them there if that is the case. We are approaching Valentine’s Day and it would seem appropriate if the song/s that came up was/were about love. True this week is more of a love week but who says that has to be the only thing impacting you as far as music is concerned? Surely an adventure you embarked on that you thoroughly enjoyed is what brings you to memory lane. What would really be amazing is a song that kept playing during your stay as if it were your theme song for the holiday/field trip/business trip. Were you alone? Were you with friends or a friend’s family? Are you the person who wishes they could experience what I just described? My trips to Slovakia, Faroe Islands, Norway, Italy, Denmark and Germany were amazing. There were a lot of thrilling experiences. Funny enough Mika’s Relax (Take It Easy) was my theme song during the two years I was in Europe.

“…What happens is of little significance compared with the stories we tell ourselves about what happens. Events matter little, only stories of events affect us.
― Rabih Alameddine, The Hakawati

Our Reflection In Movies
I do not think I have ever had a friend who did not like a movie because one or more characters experience very closely what happened to him or her. I have, however, met friends who could relate to characters in some movies, others feel for them. In some ways I have felt as heedlessly ridiculous as Danger in Million Dollar Baby. After being comforted by his trainer about asking stupid questions, he asks about a water bottle, “How’d you get all the ice in here through this little tiny hole?” I will not box myself in a crowd by saying we have all been there before, I will be honest, if I am the only one then I am the only one. Other times I feel like Captain America in The Avengers calling all the shots in battle, for most of my scholastic life I have felt that way, often not by choice. In the heart of movies are stories. That is why no matter how many times we have heard them before we can never tire of a very good story. I wonder if it is the same reason we relate to some movies so well, some times to the point it scares us?

What Story Are You Telling?
No I do not mean this in the deep philosophical sense but rather in the literal sense. Every time you are asked the appropriate question at the right time, you have a story to tell. If you were hurt, “What happened?” can mean the difference between healing and prolonged pain. If you were impacted by someone you cannot stop talking about, “Who is/was this person?” can influence what the asker perceives of them. It all comes down to how you tell the story. I have been with people who tell the wrong story. Meaning they have the wrong motives. Two reasons for the wrong motive a) they want to be or feel pitied and b) they want to fabricate an event to a certain extent in order to gain support. This does not help them in any way whatsoever. A speaker once said, “You delay your prosperity when you tell your story for the purpose being pitied.” It is perfectly fine to get your thoughts out and let the weight off your chest in the beginning, but build to an ending where you, the hero, emerge victorious or at least have a plan for getting there. Whenever you tell your story the most important thing to do is always leave the listener with a positive perception of you. The key factor about the listener is that you choose them.

One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say. Bryant H. McGill

The Listening Challenge
People talk about reading between the lines. That is actually quite an art. When it comes to enjoying stand-up comedies, of course the object of the show from the audience’s perspective is to listen. You are literally listening to one person. What about your best friend? Your spouse? Coworker? Even a stranger has a voice. Everyone has something deep within them that they are bursting to communicate, except it has to be with the right person at the right time. My Greenlandic friend told me I was a good listener even though I listened to her for literally less than a minute. At that time all she needed was to be heard. It is that simple (because it is not complicated) but not always that easy. This is your undivided attention, coupled with uninterrupted, attentive listening, not a two-second quicky that can be solved in just as short a time.

Conclusion
Story is built in the very core of all that we are. It is one of the most inspirational aspects about us. It is what separates us from the rest of creation. Tears, laughter, love, celebration, mystery, are all encounters we have when story meets people. When I mentioned earlier how we should not tell stories to be pitied I excluded counseling and psychology sessions because that is a whole different thing. On that note gossiping does not fill the heart with the fulfillment that comes from a beautiful story. Children yearn for the glory of story. Even made up stories told the right way with the right atmosphere make that much of a difference. The only thing every story needs-whether fiction or true- ultimately, is a good storyteller.

Tell the story that’s been growing in your heart, the characters you can’t keep out of your head, the tale story that speaks to you, that pops into your head during your daily commute, that wakes you up in the morning.”
― Jennifer Weiner

Auto-Alert: Being Ready Anytime, Every Time For Anything

Courtesy of blog.perpetuelle.com

Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 2 Timothy 4:2

If you’re not ready for everything, you’re not ready for anything- Paul Auster

Regret’s Hard Lesson
This year I have one very important resolution: to be ready for anything at all times. It essentially is a strategy for helping me fulfil my life motto. There is nothing worse than realizing what could have been because it is already gone, the moment is already past. Someone could say, “Yeah but you can always relive the moment,” except the truth of the matter is, some moments cannot be recreated. You cannot make someone feel about you the way they did at the time they did so, before you gave the wrong impression about yourself through you making a fool of yourself, whether that was intentional or not. Losing dignity and self-honor-especially in the eyes of someone you care about-is most shameful and heart-wrenching. Now granted, the possibility of unknown circumstances bringing out the wrong side of you-more so prior to the time preceding your predicament-could be an underlying factor, unfortunately even if you were in a bad mood or had the wrong words slip out, you were responsible of your emotions and actions and therefore can really only blame yourself. Know what I mean?

The Appreciation Mentality
I cannot stress the astronomical importance of gratitude. They say that you only realize the value of what you have always had once you’ve lost it, right? On the other hand someone else may say that the real truth is you have always known what you had except were too proud and naive enough to think you would never lose it. On the one case, the former leads a passive life by growing a passive relationship because the time spent with the individual/s is not valued. The party/ies involved are therefore taken for granted. The latter case also has some passivity to it but with awareness added to the picture. In other words the first case loses time spent in the relationship, while the second wastes time. We never know how long the people who are in our lives are there for, so it becomes more than imperative that every encounter with each person is held in high regard. The person you shape yourself to be is heavily influenced by such experiences.

Composure: The Essence Of Self-Control
This one is actually a very serious step. It requires being extremely and brutally honest with yourself: How much do you really love yourself? I am not completely talking about self-esteem but I am referring to a crucial part of it. What you think of yourself determines how you behave in certain situations. Should anyone say something inappropriate about you or to you, they will undoubtedly receive something from you. Now depending on a few factors such as the individual, location, atmosphere, your reputation and mood, the degree to which you react will leave the recipient in for quite an experience. Your actions in any and every given situation will obviously bear consequences that you will need to be ready to face. With that said, pumping the brakes and driving slow, breathing in and out a few times, and literally taking a step back for a good perspective of what is before you, is the wisest course of action.

Measure Your Growth
Sometimes I wonder how much I have grown over the past few years. Not so much in stature but rather in character. Have I become someone who is more caring than before? If I were to be honest with myself, how patient am I really? It would be a good idea to write down the person you think you are or know yourself to be and who your closest friend/partner or spouse sees you as. Then after each month, write another list without looking at your previous one then compare. This is the simplest way to tell just how far you have come from the person you used to be. It is especially important if you are looking to change who you are now.

Every Season Is Your Season
Paul was encouraging Timothy to be ready to preach the gospel both when it was convenient to do so and when all things turned out to seem unfavourable. The urgency to spread the message was what outweighed the conditions necessary to do so. In essence, Timothy had to create those conditions. Just like him, we too need to be ready for anything that we can do for anyone at any given moment. We must not neglect opportunities to give, creative ways to love, decisions to mature during disagreements, and the need to do what we know is right and might hurt as well at the time. The key in gaining and maintaining the art of being auto-alert, is not so much a security mentality where we take precautions to protect our valuables and loved ones, that goes without say, but rather how we handle the discomforting, depressing and disappointing times where naturally anyone and everyone would expect us to react in a typical manner. If we can do the opposite of what is conceived and perceived to be understandable and expected, basically be unpredictable and yet beneficial, then we are one step closer to living life and not merely existing.

Perspective: Seeing Things Differently

A very passionate person on Twitter, Kari Joys, stated something very interesting: “Let the warm glow of the setting sun kiss life’s hurts away.” ~Anon

I have often heard of similar sayings like, “The grass is always greener on the other side and The night is darkest before the dawn. Everyone interprets these differently and each of them have an effect on the way an individual generally looks at life. For me I have often said that life is a movie, in that each of us have a story and we all have those situations that seem impossible to overcome but can be done, and often approach us just as we are about reach and achieve our goal. Our story is something we tell each day and everything that happens to us, happens for a reason. The outcome of that and the way we feel about it is determined by the choice we make at that particular moment in time, in other words, how we choose to see it.

If things are great for our coworkers and they always seem to be doing much better with each passing day, whereas you are experiencing the complete opposite, the impact of such events will determine the kind of person you become. Will you be reactive and throw away opportunities for growth by complaining and being angry, stressed and unproductive, or will you take it a step at a time, think about, analyze and compare what they are doing to what you are doing so as to locate the missing link? The difference in each case is outlined by perspective.

Flip A Coin
I remember in primary school how we settled small but very significant disagreements. Usually the idea of flipping a coin would be to determine who starts something, as is the case in sports, however, in order to solve a case where conflicting points were brought up by both parties, we would flip a coin to see who had the better ability to calculate the probability of the coin falling on the side they thought had a higher likelihood.
Since there are two sides to every coin, each saying has a different meaning to each person. The sunset in general is a very beautiful thing but it can be disheartening if the most painful memories took place during sunset. If the individual were to look at the other side, so to speak, they would see that the beauty of the sunset and the impact it has is determined by them. Will they see the dark side or the bright side?

Beauty In The Eye Of The Beholder
When a person takes a look at a painting, say of a woman running out of a door looking back with a face that seems as though she is wondering if the event has taken place, everyone would see it in their own way. Is she running from someone and hoping she has escaped? Is it from something? Could she be concerned that she forgot something and could not help but take a quick glance? Is there a relief that whatever was tormenting her will not be part of her life anymore? Is she saddened by the thought of leaving a life she embraced so much that with everything she has in that split second, take it all in?

As all these feelings and more take place in your head there is one underlying question: What is so beautiful about that? I like to think it is the element of uncertainty that keeps you lost in a world you create yourself. It all comes down to the way you choose to look at it.

What Is Life?
When my brother came back from doing a film school course in Boston, I asked him what his observations were concerning people’s outlook on life. He mentioned a number of interesting things but then kind of bounced the question back to me. I told him that life is beautiful and it is very good. Personally for me it is a journey mapped out by our decisions. I then went on to mention how most people have the wrong perception of life. The way they see it is based on their current or dominant circumstances. If they had a terrible background, and they are not always heard or understood, they do not perform the best even by their own standards, life becomes dull, boring, pointless and worst of all: unfair. On the other hand if everything was smooth, had a brilliant upbringing, did excellent in school, had a great relationship and a loving and caring family and friends, life is viewed as amazing as a whole. This, unfortunately, is the wrong way to look at life. It must be seen, rather, as a gift that is given to us. A privelege and honor to have. What have you learned from terrible circumstances and how can you use them to encourage someone else through a similar kind? How can you celebrate both yours and someone else’s success and push each other to greater heights? How can you lift yourself up (during your ordeal) through embracing someone else’s success and vice-versa?

My personal life motto is: See what no one else sees. Not in the freaky ghosts and supernatural beings kind of way but more like possibilities for doing what I have never done before, whichever way that comes, and intentionally appreciating what no one else would. I start off that process by always recognizing that no matter how bad they get things can always be worse. In the end they are never really as bad as we lead ourselves to believe.

What do you see?

Cherishing The Golden Moments

The Regret Of Living With Regret
If you are going to make sure, the best way you can, that you never lose the things or people most dear to you, it will be motivated by the realization that you did not do anything while you still had the chanceYou took every moment, if not most, lightly and those that were crucial, that is, the arguments and disagreements-which often lead to a point of reflection-you took for granted. They essentially were the ones that determined, from and through the depths of your character, the length of that or those golden relationship/s. The only thing worse than losing someone is the thought of losing them and living with that thought with every passing second you are with them. One puts a belief that the person they do not want gone is already gone, despite being with them in the present moment.

I know, a sad and depressing way to live. This is why I love to say:

Life is too short to complain about things that don’t matter. Life is too long to take for granted the little things that do.

Making The Small Things A Huge Deal
It is often important to be very intentional about each valuable experience in life, and even more so, the form it comes in. Some people fall in adoration for:

a) A newborn to 6 month old baby
b) The sunrise or sunset, both in general and over a river, a mountain or over a river with the viewer on a mountain.
c) A butterfly
d) The eyes of the significant other while seated on a bench at a park, couch at home, or under a tree anywhere.
e) The sight of a parent’s deep love for their child/children
f) The feeling after succeeding at a seemingly impossible workout
g) Any time, anywhere with the best friend.
h) A letter written instead of a message sent by sms, email or any form of social media
i) A married couple expressing gratitude towards each other for having each other
j) Family time, especially dinner or breakfast
k) The look on someone’s face when they achieve something
l) Stargazing with anyone
m) The look on a homeless person’s face when you help them

They are there in front us all the time, all we have to do is look for them. We can never assume we will have someone special to us all the time, therefore, instead of acting like we will always have them or like we will never lose them, we must rather be grateful everyday for every second in their presence. This should also be expressed to them as often as possible.