Saturday, 3 October 2015

ZIWA AWARDS Ceremony...

The long awaited ZIWA Awards are finally here. I will be there celebrating with my beautiful Zimbabwean women. So proud of them. To watch this red carpet event live tune in to Doors open at 5pm! #PROUDZIMBABWEAN

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Everything Happens For A Reason?

‘Everything happens for a reason.’ We like to use these words a lot. Mostly, I find, it is because they are words filled with hope and promise where there is despair. I reckon we all need that to keep us going and motivated in life. But do we actually believe them? Do we stop to reflect and meditate upon them? If you had uttered these words to me some twenty odd years ago, I would’ve told you that it was all just some BS invented as an excuse for life to get away with being unfair! But after having experienced what I’ve experienced and endured what I’ve endured, I could be excused for coming to the conclusion that everything does indeed happen for a reason.

No matter what you’re going through, whether big or small, I genuinely subscribe to the notion that there is a Divine purpose for it. I have a friend whose stepmother used to mistreat her, she contemplated suicide. She could not see a reason for living. But later in life, this friend got to appreciate the challenges that she faced growing up for she had learnt to become resilient. The work her step-mother used to make her do prepare her for life. Now she is able to work her way around life with such ease. When someone tries to mistreat her now, she knows all that is doing is to strengthen her. She rises above it and carries on with her life. So was it wrong that her step-mother was horrible to my friend? Of course, it was. But, she would not be the kind of person that she is now without that experience.
One of my primary school teachers was very tough on us. She used to pinch us and beat us up when we got our timetables wrong. I remember having nightmares about learning my timetables. She made sure you could recite them in your sleep. And she wasn’t just terrible at Maths, other subjects too. The handwriting had to be perfect, you could not afford to get a spelling wrong, and you were inspected from head to toe the moment you walked through the door. It seemed horrible at the time, at times it was. But now, years later, I find myself thanking her for being this tough on us. Her methods, though not the best, taught me to be diligent, hardworking and to look after my appearance. She passed on some standards that I am grateful for to this day.
My favourite example of things happening for a reason has to be about my first crush. He was the cliché tall dark and handsome. No other boy came even close, and every girl in school wanted him. I recall daydreaming as I watched him play soccer. We were going to get married and walk off into the sunset together. I had it all figured out. The house we were going to live in and our two and a half kids. Lo, and behold he did notice me one day. He even went as far as asking me out but to cut a long story short, he later dropped me like a hot potato! A week later, I saw him with another girl. The girl was, dare I say it, prettier than me. Boy did that hurt. I cried myself to sleep for days. At home, I had to tell them I was on a diet. Now years later, I consider myself to have had a lucky escape. He hasn’t turned out to be the person I envisioned then, and I have him to thank for all the other heartbreaks that were to follow in my life for I fully appreciated the fact that not everyone you like is right for you in the end. I learnt to draw strength from my heartbreak and to move on with dignity. So, if anyone ever breaks your heart or disappoints you for some reason, understand that not everyone you meet is meant to remain in your life. Some people cross our paths but only for a season. Perhaps to teach us lessons, some to draw our attention to the qualities that we find unappealing and some to make us wiser.
Then there was the job that I had my eye on soon after I had finished high school? As far as I was concerned, there was no other job for me. Being a sales lady in Nyore Nyore Zimbabwe furnishers was the job to have. Not only would it give me the quick buck I needed for a perm and to buy myself some high heels which were in at the time, but it also meant I could spend time in town, closer to fashion, cafes, restaurants and the cinema. I cursed when that Indian manager turned me away, citing my lack of experience. How dare he? My dream of becoming prettier and trendier had been shattered. I no longer stood a chance to compete with the girl who had taken Mr tall, dark and handsome away from me. Looking back now, I can’t help but feel gratitude towards that Indian manager and all the other managers who were to turn me away later as I scuttled from shop to shop in my little town of Chinhoyi searching for a job. There is never a doubt in my mind that had I gotten what I wanted at the time, I would’ve lived in absolute contentment. The reason being that I hadn’t had any real exposure to life. My imagination, goals and ambitions stretched as far as what went on around me, what I saw and experienced at the time. Now, having grown and broadened my horizons, I can be excused for coming to the conclusion that everything happens for a reason.
And coming to my most painful experience of all. An experience I still struggle to come to terms with it to this very day. He was the most ‘beautiful’ man I’d ever known. Funny, kind and caring, as well as romantic. I was his princess, and he showed it through words and actions. He married me, and we had a beautiful baby daughter. A year and some months later, during one fine morning, I got the eeriest of feelings. My heart began pounding. Something inside of me was stirring havoc for some reason. It turned out my husband; the father of my child was breathing his last breath during those very moments. He was snatched away from me just like that. Those who’ve read my book A LifeSteered will remember this bit too. So does everything happen for a reason in this case?
Some examples still hurt to this day. But I believe all that I went through has shaped me and made me the kind of person I am today – kind, resilient and determined. I’ve learnt to play the cards that I’m dealt with life. Life will throw us challenges and test us to the core. But what’s important is how we deal with those problems. How we let them define us.
In this blog, you will notice that I have deliberately ignored the good examples. Those too happen for a reason. But I want to encourage those who may be going through a bad season in their life right now. If you’re like me, then you better start believing that all that you’re going through is for a reason. The reason may not benefit you today or directly, but rest assured that there is a purpose for your pain. Perhaps those watching need to learn from you. It may be a horrible diagnosis, redundancy, ill-treatment, grief, failure or rejection, you name it. All these are put on our doorstep to test our character, to help you develop and make you stronger and wiser. So, I am saying to you, hold on regardless of how much it hurts and consider the possibility that:
Everything happens for a reason.
Stay cool!

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Another Comprehensive Review By Eddie Hewitt

A Life Steered is a wonderful but sometimes heart-rending story of Sandra, an ambitious young woman who finds herself having to endure a series of painful experiences and emotions, interspersed with only moments of happiness. Some of the challenges seem unbearable, but still Sandra holds on to her dreams of a more fulfilling life.  

The story is semi-autobiographical, with the author finding the writing process a form of therapy as well as a channel for delivering an engaging story. Thoughtful and compelling to read, the story also offers hope to those who may be seeking to overcome their own hardship and sadness (i.e. most of us at some point).

Sandra, a young Zimbabwean girl, is the oldest child in her family, headed by a father who drinks too much and frequently changes his partner. The mother has been long gone. Sandra wishes to pursue her education to pave the way to a better future, but circumstances conspire against her. The will is there, but the resources are not. Unable to improve herself in the way she hopes and expects, Sandra finds her life being steered in a different direction.

Marriage soon follows, after a surprise and as a moral necessity, but also out of love for a man who loves her back and supports her. Sandra gets the chances to train as a teacher, but to get there she has to undertake a number of unpleasant journeys on public transport, fighting off the unbearable heat and the unwelcome attention of lecherous men, and falling victim to a cruel confidence trickster. Moving forward is never easy. The marriage is tragically short-lived, and Sandra has to pick up the pieces of her life yet again. Other relationships follow, but they all appear destined to fail, and Sandra forever seems to have only herself to rely on. Ultimately, we leave her on the brink of a new and potentially rewarding journey that deserves, almost demands a sequel.

There are many intriguing and interlinking themes in the story. Becoming a woman, education, family struggles, lack of male support, financial troubles, finding and losing love, resilience and exceeding the expectations of others. As the story develops, the concept of a divine will is developed.

If there is one defining message, for me, it is the awareness that we cannot rely on earthly relationships. Other people will invariably let us down, sometimes through no fault or will of their own. So we have to be strong within ourselves. We have to develop the confidence and the courage to move forward with a purpose that sometimes seems to make little sense.

A Life Steered is not a happy story, for the most part, but it is nevertheless inspiring. Full of warmth and commitment, it reveals the author’s passion for sharing something of her own life in order to help others. The message will apply to many of us, if we are prepared to look deep and to acknowledge some key truths. Sandra is humble, but she is also a leader and someone who has a story worth listening to. And I want to know how the story continues…

Thursday, 13 August 2015

My ZIWA Author Award Nomination

Dear Friends,

I am delighted to let you know that I've been nominated for the Zimbabwe International Women's Award in the category Author of the year. It is indeed a privilege and an honour to be recognised by my own people. To vote for me click on the link below.

Please Click Here To Vote For Me

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Doing The Right Thing.....

Recently I asked a friend of mine what they thought doing the right thing meant. After a few stabs at different explanations, they concluded that doing the right thing 'is telling somebody the truth.' The truth that has to be uttered regardless of how the person on the receiving end might take it and/or be affected by it. I probed further and asked what if the truth led to disastrous consequences e.g. suicide. Of course I was playing devils’ advocate and the answer I got was if one listened to their gut and act upon it then it was still the right thing to do. Still unsatisfied I asked how they could be certain that what their gut nudging them to was indeed the right thing. They told me that the gut is never wrong as long as reasoning and justifications from somewhere doesn't come into it. They said that our decisions have to be led our feelings. Feelings that come from the pit of your stomach and that's how you know you're doing the right thing. Well, in the end I had to embrace their opinion. It was after all their opinion.

It's a tricky one because what is the right thing anyway? According to whose standards do we measure right and wrong? If you’re Christian like me then the right thing is according to His ten commandments- Thou shall not steal, kill, and commit adultery and so on. When I was growing up it was always being hammered into me that I should always do the right thing. I was taught what was right and what was wrong. Our society sets standards and expectations and it is these that determine what is right and what is wrong. But I’ve since discovered that this so called right thing isn’t always the easiest of things to do regardless of what that may be.

Sometimes it means putting all your wants aside. And there are times doing the right thing demands that you put the wish of others before your own. Have you ever had to put your pride aside and apologise for something you knew you had not done wrong because it was the right thing to do? Have you ever had to say no, give up something or someone because you knew it was the right thing to do? Not always the easiest of things to do. A story is told about a homeless man (and it’s a true story) who picked up a lot of cash but returned it to its rightful owner because it was the right thing to do. Even though he had nothing the homeless man recognised the fact that the money didn't belong to him. Perhaps he felt a tinge having to give it all up especially in his predicament, perhaps he didn't. It really doesn't matter because what he did is what he decided was the right thing to do according to his standards. And those were very high standards in my book. So what was poignant about that scenario? The man was rewarded immensely. His honesty evoked acts of generosity in the hearts of many in the end he was indeed a rich man. That, my dear friends, restored my faith in human kind. The response made me realise that when it comes to the crunch, people do recognise the right thing when they see it.

So how do we know we are doing the right thing? If the homeless man example is anything to go by it is by the response we get from those around us. We have something special that distinguishes us from animals and that thing is called a conscience. That inner voice that whispers to us when we know we aren't doing the right thing. The way our heart beats. That's how we know. We may ignore it for a while but eventually it comes back and pokes at us again and again. It will keep knocking until we can bear it no longer. But there are times we as human beings ignore this voice, repeatedly, and in the end we destroy ourselves be it physically, spiritually or emotionally. We lose our self-respect, our dignity as well as faith in ourselves. I've said it and I will say it again - doing the right thing is not always the easiest of things to do. You will lose friends, family members and there are times you will get hurt, but I would like to believe that in the end what matters is that you will be able to look at yourself in the mirror and smile knowing that you've done the right thing by you and by others, difficult as it may be!

Keep on doing the right thing!

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Time to Take Stock!

We are halfway through the year and I’ve just been reflecting on my goals. I haven’t achieved all that I had set out to do by this time of the year, but I am pleased to say that I have made progress. At the beginning of each year some of us like to go to the drawing board and make plans and set goals for ourselves. But we mustn’t forget that life happens during the process of working towards our goals and dreams. Death and disease may come in the way and we may find ourselves putting our goals aside in order to deal with that. It’s called life and that is okay. We shouldn’t beat ourselves up about it. What we have to do is give ourselves time to deal with the issues at hand, get up, dust ourselves off and keep going. That’s all we can do.

When the year begun I told myself that by this time I would’ve published my second novel. But as the process is progressing I am discovering that I have to make adjustments. Furthermore, the plans I had for this book as the year begun have somewhat shifted. As I gain new knowledge and understanding of the writing industry and all matters regarding publishing, I find myself needing to give myself more time and room to work in order to really get to where I want to get.  

Sometimes we set goals for ourselves at the beginning of the year only to discover that we need to raise our standards and expectations. And if that means giving more time, changing our mind-sets, our circles and our strategies, so be it. Do what you’ve got to do in order to get to your destination. Make those necessary adjustments and never let anyone pressure you because it doesn’t matter so much whether we have achieved everything by a set time. What really matters is whether we are making progress. Real progress towards achieving our goals and dreams.

Speaking of progress, a while back I blogged about my fear of public speaking. When I was asked to speak in front of hundreds of women at a church conference in Nottingham a couple of years ago, I swore I was going to die. There was no way I was going to stand in front of an audience and speak. It was unthinkable. I could not fathom all those eyes on me. I mean, after all, what did I have to say that was worth listening to? This is what was going on in my mind. I was trying to talk my way out of it. I didn’t have the confidence and self-belief that I could do it. But guess what? I went out there and I did it. I gave it my all and I am still here, alive. Now a couple of years later I found myself doing it all over again. This time with the understanding that all it takes is the right mind-set.
Not only have I developed the art of speaking, I have made progress in other areas of my life too. I have achieved things I never thought were possible and I now believe there is greatness in all of us. All we’ve got to do is tap into that greatness without fear and with confidence. We were all born with unique qualities and if we hide in our shells, then what we’re doing is depriving the world of ‘us’. Of our greatness. No one is going to write your book, deliver your speech, invent that great machine you've been dreaming about or run your company. Only you can do that. The world needs you because there can only be one you.

So worry not if you are a little behind on your goals and dreams. There’s always tomorrow, next week, next month and next year. Deal with life first if that’s what getting in your way; but once you’re done come back and refocus. Anything is possible and as I continue to explore my own greatness, I am learning that there are no shortcuts to success. You will fail, meet challenges and stumbling blocks along the way, but what sets you apart is the manner in which you navigate around those.

Stay encouraged!

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Turn Your Life Around

‘In a field full of dandelions, it can be hard to see a hundred wishes instead of a thousand weeds.’ 

There's is an old African proverb that says, "If there's no enemy within, the enemy outside can do us no harm." If you want to effect change, then you should start with what's inside. Your heart and your mind. Crucial but not always easy for everybody to follow. Especially when life has left us battered and bruised. How do we even begin to process our circumstance and turn our lives around?

The moment we are born, our environment subjects us to some harsh realities of life. This kind of stimuli, if persistent, conditions us to almost expect adverse outcomes and to maintain a defeatist attitude. It becomes virtually impossible to think positively.
 So what can you do to turn a negative situation into a positive one:

 1)   Write your feelings down. Writing is a cathartic experience when your heart is heavy. Instead of bottling it all in, pour your heart out on a piece of paper. You will also discover some truths about yourself as you put pen to paper. You may get emotional and cry. That is okay. With that comes healing. Isn’t that better than popping pills into your mouth each day? 

 2)  Forgive and let go. Reflect, retreat and learn lessons. There is always something to be gained from every situation that we go through. This way, we know not to repeat the same mistakes.

3)   Use your negative experiences to build others. Someone once said, ‘Every situation, when properly perceived, becomes an opportunity.’ Out of our hardships, we can discover ourselves. What we were meant to become in life. For example,  you can start a support group, write a motivational blog, or indeed birth a book. That way, you will get a sense of purpose and find the strength to move forward. 

4)  Dwell on the positives - The human mind tends to move towards that which occupies it. So, as much as you can, look for what's working and focus on that. 

5)   Give people and life a chance. So you have lost and been hurt a few times. It happens to the best of us. God never promised a life free of trials. Humans were made to overcome adversity.  You will bounce back, and when you do, try again and do it with an open mind.

6)   Care for someone, love, smile, respect, forgive and give to others. The vibe that you send out into the world is the vibe you will receive in return.

7)    No situation in life is permanent. Things change, and sometimes for the better. Trust that you, too, just like the next person, deserve happiness and peace!

8)   Last but not least, find your source of strength. For me, it's prayer. It is not my job to wrestle with the Devil, but God’s.

 The message here is simple. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade! 

Friday, 10 April 2015

My Easter Break in Texas...

My Easter break in Texas was an experience of a kind. I began by attending a church retreat which was held at Lakeview Camp in Waxahachie. I do not impose my beliefs on anybody, but I also believe that for me not to share that which is a part of who I am would be doing a disservice to those who follow this blog for they may never get to know the real me. To me this mission is bigger than my own fears, feelings and desires, and if my light is to fully shine, then I shouldn't feel embarrassed or shy away from revealing my true character.

The retreat was themed ‘Oh For That Flame’ which meant that we (the women from all over the world) were seeking the ‘Lord’s face’ and wanted the holy spirit to ignite us. And oh boy did we find ourselves burning with passion for the word of God. There was music, dancing and lots of laughter.

The health message was and still is an integral part of our worship. The women who attended the retreat were reminded of the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The food that we put inside our bodies, as well as exercise. On day 2 we took part in aerobic exercise routines and we were encouraged to make these a part of our daily routine. After all, the body is the temple of God and should be looked after properly.

A typical day at the camp comprised of prayer sessions, testimonies, and workshops addressing poignant issues in our society today some of which included domestic abuse, raising children and looking after our finances. The sermons were moving and the food to die for.

Once the retreat had ended it was time for me to head back to Dallas for a bit of touring. I went to the Dealey Plaza to find out more about JF Kennedy's assassination. Of course nothing good about the president's assassination but over the years I have read and watched documentaries about how President JF Kennedy was assassinated. I've also learnt about the conspiracy theories surrounding his assassination. But for now I choose to believe the account as given to me by the tour guide as I went on the JFK bus tour. It was as they say, ‘one thing to read about it, a whole other thing to see it for yourself!’

The tour guide set the scene for those on the bus, including myself, as we drove along Main Street. In my mind’s eye I saw the cheering crowd and heard the excitement in their voices as the president’s motorcade proceeded along the streets of Downtown Dallas. As the tour bus turned into Elm Street which would be the last turn made by the unsuspecting 35th president of America, who had only ruled for 1000 days, I saw the tour guide become misty eyed. His voice wobbled as he pointed to the window where the sniper fired his shot, and as he took us back to that fateful moment that resulted in JFK’s death on November 22, 1963. The passion and the patriotism that the tour guide displayed was nothing like I have ever experienced.

Oswald's boarding house
The sniper's window

We were also taken through the route walked by Oswald, and shown the shops he entered as he tried to weave his way through the disquieted crowd. A police truck still stood on tenth street where Oswald shot a police officer who was also an eye witness. We were also made to listen to conversations by police officers, the crowds cheering and heard the voice of Oswald himself. By the end of the tour I felt emotionally exhausted. And although I wasn't present on the day it had happened, it sure felt as real as the day it happened. 

After this tour I needed something to cheer me up. And for me there was only one place that came to mind - Southfork Ranch. During my early teens I remember my dad telling me in no uncertain terms that I shouldn't watch soaps, especially Dallas, Dynasty, Santa Barbara to name but a few. The reason being that he didn't want my mind corrupted before my time. He felt I was too young to be watching people fondling and frolicking inside swimming pools and bedrooms. But I am ashamed to confess that despite all his objections, I used to sneak into the living room after he had gone to bed to watch my favourite soap which, at the time, was Dallas. I was hooked and my dad's threats weren't going to deter me from watching it. So when I finally strolled on the grounds of Southfork and entered the house where they ‘shot JR’, and sat on his chair inside his room, my dream came true!

Driving the highways of Texas was a joy. The roads are wide with an amazing architectural design, the cars huge, the terrain spreading as far as the eye can see. The views on either side stunning; although one had to  bear in mind which side of the road they were meant to drive on! 

You either make love or war in Texas apparently. Thankfully, I never got to experience the warring side of Texas. It was love through and through. I didn't know how to get from point A to B, but exploring was a pleasure as I met some lovely people along the way. The strangers that I met were warm and welcoming, patient and smiled into my eyes. They even addressed me as ma’am!

I toured other places too. And even though I only stayed for a week, the inspiration that I got from Texas is invaluable. The experience will remain seared in my mind for years to come. And I reckon I couldn't have picked a nicer place to spend Easter, 2015!