ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE

All you need is love, love. Love is all you need. Love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love. All you need is love, all you need is love, All you need is love, love. Love is all you need. ( excerpt from the Chorus All you need is love- the Beatles ) It’s a fact, it’s the truth, its uncontestable, all we need is love, unattainable, misunderstood, misinterpreted, love. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant  or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful,  it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13 v 4-7 

I experienced love, I need love, I see love, I give love, I live love, I know love, do you?

GOD’S LOVE- THE STANDARD, THE UNCONDITIONAL There is no fear in this love, as his perfect love casts out fear. (1 John 4 v 18) A pure, peaceful, sacred form of love. Importantly, according to Peter “cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5 v 7), how easy is that? Love from God is undeserved kindness and mercy, just meditate a little on this. God had no need to, but dedicates this love to us, in that while we are/were sinners, while we are/were very unrighteous, Jesus came and died for us all. (Romans 5 v 8). Ponder a little more, he did not wait for us to promise, contract or do anything, he volunteered. We can’t earn this, its free. Yes, he acted first, without warranties, guarantees, or conditions; nothing therefore, nothing, nothing you can conceive- can separate us from this love. (Romans 8 v 39) So since he first loves us, it should be so easy for us to reciprocate, in fact its incumbent on us to love him, and then because of this overarching love, to love others too. ( 1 John 4 v 19) Try it, just try it, if you truly love God your only response will be to love others.

PARENTAL LOVE One of many earthly blessings, a sweet, demure and protective barrier, that gives without taking. A privilege to each, a gift to all.

ROMANTIC LOVE – The thrill, the rush, the energy, the bliss,………….the highs without lows, the yes and no nos, deranged and wild- fickle, transient and unrealistic.

LOVE FROM FRIENDSHIP I can depend on you for honesty laced with compassion……. I depend on you for objectivity when I am not……I can depend on you to listen to my every rattling and wrangling……. I make sacrifices for you, we inevitably argue- we disagree, we fight, then we quickly forgive. I scratch your back, and you scratch mine. No judgment, no name calling, no undue pressure, no quid pro quo. Unaffected by borders, distance or time.

SELF-LOVE The most obvious, and yet the most elusive…..finding the clean, clear and crystal space inside.  Its the pre-requisite, without which- you can never truly give your heart away, without which you can never really experience love at all, because you cant give what you don’t have. Look inside, search within, you will find it lying latently there. Careful though, as if feted too much you can become ‘drunk in love’.

THE TRUTH ABOUT LOVE Know its form and content and you will never go in search of it, know its form and content as the counterfeit is all-pervasive. After all ‘the heart wants what it wants’, with real love there is no need to abuse or numb, no need to be clingy or needy, no need to be overbearing or self-indulgent, no need for arrogance. Know love and you easily recognize and quickly discard the phonies, you can never suffer from delusions, then and only then will you find strength to let go and courage to break free.          

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SELFIE

Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love at all  is to be vulnerable.” C. S. Lewis.

Love……. an enigma, a peculiar emotion, but we cannot live without it. Love matters, and if you go to the core of human existence  it is what we are perpetually searching for. It fills us with joy, makes us smile, gives us hope, wrings us up, spits us out, hurt like hell, and still we traverse its slopes without reserve and thought. Is it any wonder then that we have seen a a shift in emphasis to ‘loving myself’, ‘loving all these girls’, ‘loving me’……………. the selfie.  According to the authors of ‘The Narcissism Epidemic’ narcissistic personality disorder has more than doubled over the past 10 years in the USA.  Jeremiah long ago contended that the heart is treacherous.

The Millennials, those fortunate or unfortunate enough to be born in the knowledge era, are of a different ilk.  They are more tolerant of the extremes, they explore, are extremely radical and liberal, grossly impatient, lack inhibitions, selfish to the nnnnth power, and very adventurous. Homosexuality, oral sex, ‘sex-capades’, bungee jumping, space exploring, cyber bullying, cyber sex, and cyber just-about-everything are commonplace and ‘cool’. Makes me wonder if this an offshoot and or unintended consequence of Capitalism, and whether these Generation “Y’ers are the engineers behind Data Analytics, Facebook, Whats App, Google, Instagram, and Twitter et al. Did social media and the Internet create Generation ME, or is it the other way around?  Have we gone too far? Is there still further to go?

In this culture of exceptionalism we have seen a frightening level of disregard for others (the demise of the Golden Rule), a total belief in individual supremacy- with a penchant for the ‘Right’ to do this and ‘Right’ to do that and ‘Right’ to do just about whatever you please.  Never has there been a time before now, when rights are posited as such – never mind the fact that you live under my roof and are a minor! Never mind the fact that rights are umbilically connected to responsibilities.  Never mind the fact we are told ‘No man is an island’. Can anyone help me with any of this?

Is the gradual dependence on self, due to disillusionment or fear?

Has every generation been the same in one way or another?

Are you an anachronism if you are out with friends, on the bus/train, or simply walking and you are not plugged in? Are boundaries, etiquette and good manners old fashioned words?

Why do we need selfie sticks and selfie cameras- is it because we are selfish or self-centered or none of these?

What’s the threshold or protocol for posts, likes, comments, or following on social media? How far will we go to get same, and what happens when we don’t get ‘enough’ or the right ones? How many pics do you take before you get the perfect ‘postable’ one?

Why do we film or photograph our sexual encounters? Is it that our ‘smart’ phones are powerful enough to manipulate/outsmart us?

Is this why hair extensions, make-up application, manicures, pedicures, cosmetic surgeries, and facials important priorities?

Is greater exposure doing more or less for our self-concept and self-esteem?

Are we more or less grateful, humble, reflective, peaceful, contented, empathetic or happy?

Are the increasing rates of depression, suicide, crimes of passion and abuse linked to this phenomenon in any way?

Are we living in an upside-down, inside-out world?

Do you follow the herd or find your niche?

I would like to think that C.S. Lewis’s theme can help us bob and weave through this space, Worse case scenarios – get your heart broken or avoid all entanglements? You decide.

C.S. Lewis, possibly a prophet for our times.

 

 

THE SURVEY

So what possessed me to ask the question?  Not sure, (a nudge perhaps), maybe boredom and curiosity or all of the above. Anyhow, I decided to ask “ What is the one thing you believe makes a marriage successful/work?”  My responses were varied, routine, expected and also surprising; Can you imagine, only one respondent ( a male) said Sex, and went further to say that a female would never marry or stay married to an impotent man! Hmmmmmh, may be true, and it led me to start thinking about whether our responses represent our most real experiences or  just our grave desires?  Is it true too, that when something is in abundance, it is not perceived as important at all?

I must say I have never thought about this seriously myself, but I didn’t expect so many persons to respond with ‘communication’, neither did I expect compromise to fall so far behind.  This informal survey gave me a rare chance to peer inside a man’s mind (can they be understood?) and I was excited and encouraged to see that age and marital status caused minor divergences in opinion.

So because communication was the overwhelming response, I am concentrating on that. Language/speech is what distinguishes us from other mammals and boy do we have the means to communicate these days.  From social to mainstream media, myriad devices and connections we seem to be wired at the core, and boundary-less. Questions are, what’s the quality of our communicating? Are we communicating more or less or to the same extent these days, and to what end? I am sure we all are old enough to remember the days of letter writing and telegrams, when outside of face to face interaction we had nothing else. So we used to relish the long treks to the post office, and most of all the receipt of a letter and especially from a dear loved one, oh how we savoured each word; reading slowly or over and over again and most of all we would wait and wait and wait for weeks, sometimes even months for a response, without a problem and without impugning motive.  And then, more recently when we got the ‘call box’ (for those of us lucky enough to be in close proximity to one) and we would rush to buy phone cards (possibly once per week) and be quite contented to join a line to wait our turn while we eavesdropped of course, on the conversations of those so engaged in front of us.

But in our post-modern world, does patience still have a place in communication and is distance relevant/irrelevant? And this leads me to further question, is the length of time, frequency or time of day very important?  Were relationships working better those days because they were configured differently or because communicating was more meaningful (although much less) or were people just silent about their relationship woes since the means of communicating were so limited?

To get more specific to the matter at hand, communication within a union is inevitable so why was it the most popular response? Isnt it the norm that couples are expected to communicate their likes and dislikes, opinions, emotions, fears, jokes, plans, goals, ideas, sightings and just about anything else, verbally and non-verbally. Communication too within relationships involve apologizing, being empathetic, exercising humility, expressing gratitude, and most controversially and especially crucial these days, set the family head (I am old-fashioned I still believe men are).

Now, I believe, for communication to serve its purposes effectively each couple needs to learn to identify and isolate the style that works for them (compromise right?), understand communication triggers, and the barriers for them too.  These all create the blueprint for normal or abnormal behaviours  in the relationship (which only if they are known leads to understanding and clarity). And each relationship will have its own blue print. I speak from experience when I say, I learnt to communicate (maybe to another extreme these days) as there was a time when I was mostly mute. I cannot dismiss the fact that as a child I was hardly communicated to or with, and that shaming experiences made me afraid to speak. I took these with me to adulthood. So too each party will take baggage into the union and as a result I advise that each couple must learn, unlearn and re-learn communicating with each other.

Communication I daresay, however is not constantly checking up, or an overkill of ‘ I love yous ‘, it should not be not a tool for gratification, nor ego-feeding (everything in moderation), neither should it be used for one-upmanship or to create a scorecard. It’s about providing answers to questions that are not orated, but are asked anyhow, since we communicate so often without opening our mouths. Women I know we tend to feel vindicated by withholding sex.  But please be careful ladies, this will lead only to an ultimatum on us. And I cannot over-emphasize the need to speak with the ‘right’ tone. Maya Angelou reminds us in her Memoir ‘ I know why the caged bird sings’ that it’s the human voice that infuses words with meaning.

Communication may actually give light to the other variables that already exist or must exist in a successful union. So without communication how much compromise (not a betrayal or denigration of self, neither is it a tool for blackmail or entrapment) can you have, as we need to communicate a compromise in some form or another? And isn’t it true that we must be honest in our communications? Do we lie if we don’t speak? And what about trust, isn’t trust based on our actions over time, as to be established as trustworthy our words and deeds must match consistently? Isn’t silence golden sometimes? And can I respect you if you always or more often than not give a six for a nine? And more importantly if there is no respect will we even bother to communicate at all? Is communication the basis for a friendship or the other way around? And should you be forgiven without an apology?

I am led to wonder if communication means something different for men; as we can all agree that whilst men do not necessarily speak less than women, they definitely sometimes perceive communicating with their partners as being secondary to doing so with their male counterparts, not to mention bending over backwards for them, or visiting the man caves. Now I know as females we can be overbearing sometimes and we will want to talk at the weirdest times, so generally speaking there needs to be some communication etiquette established within a relationship, as the lack there of is fertile breeding ground for isolation and infidelity.

There is no one size fits all communication model so to each (both) his/(their) own, as this is where the level of respect will be tested/communicated too.  Of course, there are times when we say too much and we all know that the biblical principle ‘it’s what comes out that defiles you’ is very real, words can hurt and within a union (of any sort) is where it seems to hurt the most. This is so true that it can create ‘communication avoidance’ (from my lexicon), a severe form of punishment for those who have been so afflicted.  And it gets worse, when the in-laws or the friends are privy to this phenomenon or any form of infighting and conflict. I say that to say that, communicating too much outside the union can be just as deleterious; this is the time when being in the middle provides no form of comfort or solace.

Now don’t be mistaken, I am no expert on the subject so I am not saying for a minute that a union is doomed without communication, doomsday is near if there is no love, and what I believe for sure is that love is the foundation of all communication. I say this because there is no problem that love cannot fix. And I don’t mean only mushy, heart somersaulting romantic love (as this is transient), what I mean is the true, effervescent, eternal and Godly love. The love that calls us to Love God, love self and love others and in that order.  The love that leads us to find and honour our authentic self (a façade has a shelf life), because we cannot give what we don’t have. The love that reminds us that we need to give what we most want to receive. So I wish to paraphrase Ephesians 4 v 26  and say get angry but sin not; never let the sun go down on your anger (communicate in one form or another). It’s not a race to a destination, but a journey- you will need company out in the wild!

LETTER TO MY DEAR FRIEND…………………………..

I want to wish for You a brave 2015 and this is sort of an invitation for us to ‘DARE GREATLY (http://brenebrown.com)  together.  I know you have some fears now competing with your desires, and because you are so much of a hero for me, I didn’t recognize it at first.  But thank you, as it made me realize that we are all human, and vulnerable and imperfect and afraid; this is helping me lean to into my vulnerability and to be OK with it.  I just want to assure you that I am here and that anything you wish to do, for your happiness, I will endorse.  I have had my share of mess-ups and you have never made me feel like I was stupid or a failure or just some love sick puppy;  I thank you for not judging but for being empathetic. I am so grateful for that, as not many people can give that or truly receive that blessing. That truly endorsed the adage, that we must give what we want to receive, that we teach what we most need to learn.

 

That’s because we need each other more than we recognize, to keep our feet on the ground and head out of the clouds.  But hey, don’t wait for an admission on this from anyone, ‘our greatest vice is pride’ you love to say that, so one step at a time, one day at a time, whether you see the palpable change or not; no one can hear this message and not internalize it.  What you are looking at is built/constructed over a lifetime it won’t change by a few years of admonition, but only from a constant steady message of truth, delivered with grace.  Don’t worry too much about the backlash, or  the constant shenanigans; those are merely fear-based responses………. because none of us like to be jolted from our comfort zone or to be told the truth.

 

What I am thinking is that part of our disappointment is due to our pristine and perfect, utopian  perception of humans, whooopsss that’s discordant with Adam’s fallen race…….where did we get that by the way?  What I am learning from this, and I know you are too, is that no NOT one is perfect, we are all practicing…. Although we at times would want to believe otherwise. But even more than that, recognize that the panacea, the power is in your own hands, so change your perception of the situation and see if the picture itself doesn’t change. I am going to recommend too that instead of trying to go against the tide, count to ten and then tap inside for a compassionate response and see how it works.  This will be hard, as its harder to practice compassion and kindness, harder to go the extra mile, harder to  turn the other cheek, and do good to those who hurt, hate or persecute us.  But what choice do we have?  What’s the alternative?  Can we afford not to?

 

All of us, every single one of us wants to be loved, needed, valued, vindicated, appreciated and understood. So whatever you wish for yourself, go for it, go right ahead, ‘if only’ only comes after.  I am recommending you listen to these songs ‘Rather Be’ by Clean Bandit and Lee Ann Womack’s ‘ I Hope you Dance” (Youtube them) beautiful songs. Also, read Theodore Roosevelts ‘ its not the critic who counts’ this is a source of inspiration for me……… I want nothing more than to live a life of faith, courage and freedom ( and in that order). Its a train ride my friend, we don’t know when our stop will arrive and the destination is definitely eternity.

Why I miss teaching but wouldn’t go back

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If you know me, you will understand the paradox,

Below are the the three P’s of my Experience

THE PEOPLE, THE PROCESS, THE PLACE

The expectation and fear on their faces…..

The questions and ‘fiesty’ on their tongues…….

The discovery and challenge in their words……

The conversations, debates, laughter and grapevine…………….

Loved the tension and heated meetings……………

Hated the workshops, semi-annual conferences, and college functions………………..

Appreciated the real-life experiences, being on the other side of learning,

Understood the disparity, cant get the divergence

The creation of objectives, the choice of methods and the development of strategies……..

The time allocation, the integration, execution………….

The reflection and introspection, developing structure and coherency ……………….

Hated invigilation, loved assessment………………….

The thinking on your feet, the vulnerability of not knowing, accepting and saying so…………………

Taking responsibility, making the call, dealing with people in a different form.

Admitting to mistakes, asking for help and apologizing…..

I do miss, miss, miss the frequent and long holidays

Wanted the work-life balance too

Hated the lunch, loved the lunch room

Loved my cubicle and my corner, loved the most that bathroom corridor

Loved the topography, only now appreciate the walking

Loved the view, the architecture and my daily commute

Miss, miss, miss my HOD, my friends and the camaraderie

LESSONS TO BE LEARNT FROM IT ALL

  • to be patient,
  • to listen,
  • to be tolerant,
  • I am secondary in your story,
  • Don’t take yourself so seriously, you are not that important
  • How to be grateful
  • The ways of fear and the power of love
  • I can forgive when I forget and even when I don’t forget
  • To be vulnerable
  • Experience is more powerful than certification (my view)
  • I have more power than I know
  • How to be humble
  • I can show up even though I am afraid
  • Don’t judge, its not as easy as you think, and there is more to it than you know
  • Cherish the Present, the Now