Of Love & Order part 2: Love Yourself First

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Courtesy of wisbar.org

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matt 12:31

You have to love yourself or you’ll never be able to accept compliments from anyone.
Dean Wareham

If you can learn to love yourself and all the flaws, you can love other people so much better. And that makes you so happy. Kirstin Chenoweth

Who Are You?
Everything that happens to us, we make happen for ourselves and/or others and our actions and inactions shape and mould us into who we are. We live in an imperfect world which means we are in a constant refining operation. This is a slightly easier undertaking for those who make an effort to renew their minds as often as possible. Daily taking up your cross as growth towards conforming to the image of Christ occurs is not a walk in the park. If we are going to be real with ourselves and be serious about not cheating ourselves by portraying aspects of ourselves we wish we were-both to others and to ourselves-it will start with a few things.

Conquer the dark side
Every now again I would ponder the existence of a dark side within each of us. People often refer to this as fighting our own demons. For the constantly prayerful Christian this does not apply to them because of the Psalm 91 protection. The struggle to gain and maintain high self-esteem is a battle that can feel like it lasts for an eternity. I am of the impression that building and prolonging high self-esteem comes primarily from being honest with yourself. There can be truly no excuse for certain behaviour and patterns to persist firstly  in the individual’s life at all, but more so for those caught in the vicious trap of ignorance. Erupting in complete anger (much worse in longer durations) towards someone important to you, especially your relationship, has devastating effects. You can attempt to defend yourself, “The circumstances made it appropriate for me to be angry. They messed up,” supposing it is so, is it not true that  preserving a relationship is more important than being right? Overcoming our dark sides (the things we hate about ourselves) will be a tough but necessary process. Why am I leaning towards this direction? Here is the bottom line:

NB: If you are going to give yourself to someone, give them someone you love

There is nothing more selfish in the whole world than you not loving yourself. Take time to think about that. It is completely unfair to everyone you come into contact with and everyone already in your life. You do not have to be fully whole and complete when you either meet your life partner or continue the relationship with them, but you must do your level best not to be completely broken as well. Be honest. Joyce Meyer mentions the value of having a meeting with yourself. Work diligently to improve on those things you dislike or hate about yourself. Are you short-tempered? Being patient, listening, understanding and empathetic, slowly but surely, is a place you will eventually reach.

Love Yourself
Giving a part of yourself to anyone requires a certain measure of love for them. You will not give your time to someone you do not like or respect. Give yourself first what you will give someone else. You say you love them? Good, love yourself immensely. You say you respect them?  Have lots of respect for yourself. Their importance to you stems from you having deep self-worth. The measure of love you give to someone will be the same measure you have for yourself. Why is this the case? Simple. You can’t give what you don’t have. In the process of loving yourself, particularly if you are finding yourself, ask these questions:

What do you see yourself as?
Does that change every now and again?
Are you a different person in public than you are at home?
Do you have very good standards in general?
Are you honest about who you say you are?

Qualify Your Expectations
A great woman of God, Ashley Brown has been doing a series on her YouTube channel Ashley Empowers called “Dating With Purpose,” where she interviews different couples who have gone through the process the right way. I highly recommend you see as much as possible. This couple Rachel & Roger have a lovely story and share wonderful lessons they have learned in their journey. The one I will be focusing on here is the significance of being who you are looking for. It is crucial to be real about your relationship and expectations for it. If you desire someone who is fit then you will need a good reason for that. It does not make sense to expect something in and of someone that is not already in you.

A message from the King of love
Taking note of the creator of love is paramount. Joyce Meyer says, “Love yourself, but don’t fall in love with yourself.” Hit those affirmations and declarations over yourself. Personalize Scripture. Romans 8:31 which says  What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? You can read it as  What then shall we say to these things? If God is for me, who can be against me? It is vital to remember that. Chapter 10:17 talks about faith coming by hearing the word of God so be sure to hear the word you speak over yourself. A good way to bear in mind the avoiding of falling in love with yourself (where pride and conceit thrive), is to be guided by these:

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Phil 2:3-4

 

 

A Better Sense Of Everything

Sometimes You Have To Let Go
I have decided to take on the Daily Post challenges each Wednesday from now on just to spice things up. I do enjoy the deep thought-provoking posts I normally do but I would like to experiment with the more light-hearted ones just to see where things lead. The challenge is for us to decide which one of our 5 senses we would love to enhance in exchange for  completely losing another. After much thought and deliberation (believe me, it took a really long time) I have chosen to discard smell for sight.

I am one who has sadly had their eyes imprisoned in glasses for 17 years. More on that much later when do a small series on my journey to better eyesight without glasses. I have always been drawn to what I like to call Binocular X-Ray Vision. Any and every superhero whose vision was enhanced in addition to the primary power they possess have been a particular fascination to me. As for smell, Well I do admit that the drawback of not being able to smell is getting an idea of what unrecognizable food tastes like. This is something I can live with though. It is extremely important to hear music, voices, people, noises of vehicles and animals, and the beautiful and mellow sound of nature. Touch is vital, we underestimate the beauty of pain. Imagine leaning on a thorny plant by mistake but not being able to tell? Or feeling the glorious touch of the angelic hands of a masseuse/masseur? I love my food and because of that I will always appreciate the job our tongues have. Those who taste food for a living are very privileged. They must never take that for granted, the good, the bad, the works.

Seeing Things Differently
Imagine what the world would be like if everyone had eagle eyes? Anyone and everyone could see anything from anywhere! Ideally that is how the world should be. For me I  enjoy the things I see. The good things this world has to offer. There is the nature, the mountains, especially when the sun sets behind the mountain and its reflection shines on the river. A father overjoyed to pick his daughter up from school. A mother’s undying support at her son’s sporting game. Movies like The Blind Side, Faith Like Potatoes and Facing The Giants. A man opening the door for a woman, or offering to help even when she does not need it. A couple you intuitively/instinctively know were always meant to be, sharing a kiss on a park bench. The things we see essentially have an effect on us, a lot more than we realize. After all what can man give in exchange for his eyes? Sometimes the most significant things in our lives are treated with least respect and are given least regard. The key to overcoming that is understanding that the small things make a big difference and to see what nobody else sees.

  

Do Something, When You Feel Like It And When You Don’t

Proverbs 13:4
The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.

Proverbs 14:23
In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.

2 Timothy 2:6
It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops

Get up and do something -Tee Kay (ZiFM Stereo)

Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.- St Francis Of Assisi 

Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it. – Lou Holtz

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.- Albert Einstein

Getting Started
Do what you hate and do it now. It is so easy to do the things we love. What about the positive impacts the opposite has? You see, so many times we find ourselves kind of going through the motions wondering if what we are doing (or not doing) is giving us or depriving us of the fulfilment we desire. For a minute though I would like to speak those who partially and courageously honest call themselves: Lazy Bones. 

We all aspire to be something, something we can be proud to show off everywhere. You kick off and do what you believe is right for you and God willing is in fact right for you, a few days, weeks and months pass and the train is running smoothly. Momentum flows and the ride is a such a smooth sail that it feels like cruise control! Nothing fluctuates. There are no ups and downs. It is like driving on a beautifully tarred road with so minimal bumps, you cannot even feel it! Until suddenly a heavy responsibility is required of you such as staying in late, or more work than usual piles up on you and you now have to slice up some workout time, TV time rest and relaxation time in half or more. 

This easily becomes mentally overwhelming and you get up each day wishing you did not have to go to work or even so much as pick up groceries! I have definitely felt that numerous times. One small habit of slightly slacking in work leads to another one at home and slowly but surely you turn into a sloth! You get to that stage quicker when you are so diligent and excellent with everything that you find yourself with nothing to do. The solution is simple but not easy.

You just do what you hate. If you hate writing, write. If you hate reading, read. There is only so much entertainment TV can give. I have realized that over the course the past few months. It could be that start of a brand new hobby and you may also surprise yourself, friends and family with your new-found skills! 

Do something new and uncomfortable. I remember first practicing with DJ softwares. I was completely clueless! Thankfully though my audio and sound engineer friend helped me out and with some practice I was getting somewhere in no time. I discovered that an hour felt like 5 minutes! I love that hobby and I simply jump straight into that if for some unknown reason I cannot think of anything to do. Avoid talking yourself out of it. You cannot uncover the potential you have or realize how bad you are at something if you let fear take the best of you. Get in, give it a shot and tally the results!

Use the Pomodoro Technique. Believe it or not I am literally doing that right now. Find a small activity you like and keep at it for a straight 25 minutes. Drawing, preparing a new dish which might take longer but at least keeps you busy, running,  or working with your hands. I recommend using the countdown timer on your phone or tablet. After which you take a break for just as long a time! This way you balance rest and some measure of productivity. You may fancy trying this out at work if you do not normally do so. I definitely encourage it if you tend to procrastinate often. 

Have at least 3 activities planned. There is nothing worse than being highly motivated to do something and all of a sudden you stop midway because it is not so exciting anymore. This is where rotating activities comes in. The one moment you are going for walk, the next you are taking pictures, finally you are comparing author’s viewpoint in different magazines in the same category. Split these in 25 minute chunks and go from one to the other after your break and you have yourself an exciting day to look back to.

A Mind-Map does not hurt. If you find that all the suggestions I have put forth are too tedious for the energy you have, either in the morning when you get up or when you come from work, you can always find out what you tend to think about when you are generally not doing anything constructive. Sit down, draw a mind map. It does not have to make sense. More often than it will be the opposite. The time here does not really matter as much as the effort you put into being as creative as you can with what you write down.  How do the thoughts connect? Are they really as different as they appear to be? Why are you thinking about these things specifically? Piece together anything and everything that make sense to you, even though it may not make sense to anyone else. Only you would understand your thoughts after all.

In the end it is about maximizing your free time. It is the most precious commodity we have. We cannot waste a single bit of it. I will be speaking to extroverts in part 2. Here, without meaning to at all-maybe because of my nature as an introvert-I came up with things that suit introverts. I have been in situations where my guys and I just sit looking at each other silly. I found out how to overcome that.

The Fourth Fruit: A Chess Battleground

Galatians 5:22-23
But the Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control. There is no law against such things as these

Isaiah 40:31
But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint

Ecclesiastes 7:9
Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the bosom of fools

The Checkers Challenge
I used to love playing Checkers so many times. It is actually kind of scary thinking about it. Admittedly my ability to perceive and anticipate my opponent’s move or foresee the possible danger in the move I made was a weakness I had. Fortunately to make up for that I took my time and saw some moves that were very beneficial for me, more than I ever imagined! There is still nothing worse than the handicap of taking blind steps. I was always mentally fatigued when my opponents reacted in a way that indicated vulnerability with the move I made.

At times in life I feel like I am playing checkers. I make decisions and later wonder whether or not I made the right one. I know myself to be the kind of person who only realizes the mistakes made, afterward. This has lead me to be a bit antsy about most things. I often question the next move before making it only because I will not be in a position to fully determine the advantages and disadvantages. In this case I am then mocked by circumstance as if to be told that my move was the wrong one and there is no resolution.

A Villainous Tactic
While that does seem to appear crude in almost every form-at first glance-it really is not. One thing I have to just sit back and applaud is the common factor that most villains have,  patience. True their intentions are obviously disreputable and to their misfortune, their patience is exercised in vain, however, it is still very admirable how long their limit is! I began to ponder this factor and came to understand that it lies deep in their desire to accomplish their goal. In addition to seemingly well calculated plans, and in the case of intelligent bandits, properly and carefully calculated plans, they are so confident in what they have put in place they believe nothing will stop them. One needs to comprehend the profound aspect of this. They are so organized that backup plans are also set. Of course this is to account for the hero who is to demolish all they have taken time to build, yet it still stands to reason that regardless of how sinister the outline is, the depth of patience lies in the confidence of strategic planning motivated by the strength of the desire to achieve the goal.

A few questions one must ask himself (generically speaking) is:
1) How smart is my goal? That is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely
2) How strong is my desire to achieve it?
3) Have I made tactical plans to accomplish it?
4) Am I confident in my plans? Why or Why not?
5) Do I have a contingency plan in place as a precautionary measure?

The Individual vs Wrath
I have asked a lot of my friends who are top chess players how long a game can easily last. I was shocked to have found out that three hours is a general length to reach. They speak of this as if it were typical! I respect that, truly. I must congratulate myself in recognizing how patient I have become in the past few months. True there have been moments where I have erupted in anger unnecessarily, fortunately to grow from that, glean from such experiences the qualities I lacked, and use them to my advantage should the need arise. Strangely enough a phrase that I have recently used indirectly in reference to how I must proceed with the situation before me is: I’ll have to let this play its course. My personal favourite one is: Patience will have to be the order of the day. Saying that immediately puts me into The Zone.

I remember a scene in Evan Almighty where the words of God were so revelatory I was blown away. He was speaking to Evan Baxter:

God: Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other?

For me growing in patience is like a game of chess. If I lose my cool for a few minutes then I have made the wrong move and my wrath begins to get the upper hand. If the length in time it takes for me to get angry decreases and the length in time extends while I am angry, then my wrath has put me in a corner and I am very close to receiving check-mate. If on the other hand the length in time it takes for me to be angry increases, and the time I am angry is brief, then I have trapped my wrath and have it very close to check-mate. When do I actually reach check-mate you ask? When my patience is so high that I annoy everyone around me.

Sometimes things aren’t clear right away. That’s where you need to be patient and persevere and see where things lead.- Mary Pierce

He that can have patience can have what he will. Benjamin Franklin

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.

Balancing Life: The Semi-Circle Of Rhythm

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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

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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