The Gift of New Beginnings

Many times in my life I have been incredibly thankful for the opportunity that each new sunrise and new year gives me to start afresh. With the benefit of hindsight; I plan to do better than I did yesterday or last year having learned and grown from my past mistakes.
Through last year’s trials, struggles, losses, I have been taught letter by letter,line by line and lesson by lesson in the ways of the world. The New Year presents me with an opportunity to die to what I have been and be reborn with a new level of experience. I am therefore wiser and less naïve.
Holding on to our dreams, hopes and visions even when things look the worst ; we all tend to begin the New Year with optimism, excitement, openness; trusting that things will go well for us during the new year. We tend to push the idea of what might happen right at the back of our minds other than let it rob us of new beginnings.
Life is said to be a journey towards becoming a better person so we enter each new year with a vision of what we want to achieve during the new year and with a road map guiding us on how to get where we want to be.
Now for 4000 years the Hebrews and Romans have prepared for the New Year by making resolutions they make promises to themselves to change and improve themselves and their lives during the new year. It has now become a common practice worldwide.
Statistics show that in USA, 45% of the people make resolutions for the New Year but actually only 8% of these achieve them!
Albert Einstein(1879-1955) the famous German Physicist defined insanity as :doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Each New Year presents new possibilities to each one of us so we have to train ourselves to do something different each new year. What you chose to do should be determined by the season of life in which you are – Spring, summer, winter or autumn and what you consider to be most important in your life at that moment in time. What you focus on grows.
This demands that each one of us looks closely at the year ending, analyse it
and use the lessons learned from the mistakes or successes to establish yourself firmly and reach prosperous new heights. Then you should close the old year completely and enter the New Year with a new attitude and new thinking while at the same time holding on to your dreams and ideals. Our thoughts determine the outcome of our goals.
The Roman god Janus after whom the month of January was named, was believed to have two heads: one looking backwards while the other one looked ahead into the future – a future pregnant with possibilities.
We all fear what we do not understand or know just because we are used to controlling things so it is a great challenge to plan for the New Year. Without a plan to guide us through the new year, we hardly get anything worthwhile done – too many demands on us and these most times crowd out the most important in our lives. Like any good marathon runner, we have to learn to plan for the race of life year by year. We should set realistic, measurable goals and sometimes we need to adjust our time goal. We have to ensure that we do not run out of energy to complete the last few miles – start slow and gradually increase.
Michael Hyatt, the renown American life coach and Virtual mentor has some very good, tried and tested advice to us all on how to make the next year your best year ever.
He advises us to make new goals in all areas of our lives using the SMART acronym:
S- our goals should be Specific
M- should be Measurable.
A- Should be Actionable
R- should be realistic- unrealistic goals put you on pressure.
T- should be time bound
At each point in time you should focus on what is most valuable and most important in your life.
Last Friday , I was thrilled and inspired as I watched Retired Supreme Court Judge, Justice George Kanyeihamba launch another of his many books and later watched on television a twelve year old student of Buddo Junior School do the same! These two are two poles apart in the seasons of life but each one has embraced his season and worked hard to live his dream.
At this juncture I would like to remind each one of us that Life is essentially about Relationships- the relationship between you and your God, Yourself, family and others.
Michael Hyatt also advises us to write down our goals and keep them visible on your desk,desktop or any other place which you look at every morning and to review them regularly. We should ask for help when necessary and celebrate the little progress we make day by day. The times when we feel fearful, uncertain and inadequate, he strongly advises us to push through these obstacles. Since our thoughts lead to our actions which themselves lead to the outcome of our goals, he advises us to get rid of anything that does not serve us well and replace it with empowering and affirming thoughts.

While doing all these, you should continue living your life fully by dreaming big, continuing to learn, having fun , having a zest for life- waking up each morning and picking new shells from the lake of life. Any time you stop doing any of these, whatever the age, you will be as good as dead.

As we complete 2016, let us process it fully and look to the future with confidence.
Take great courage to paint the blank canvas to your heart’s content, to write a new chapter in your book of life or fill the clean slate to your huge satisfaction.
Tony Robbins another American life coach says : Your Past does not equal your future.
And I for one would love to encourage you by telling you that beginning again is both a gift and a beauty in itself.
May 2017 turn out to be your best year yet.

Jane Nannono

A Season For Giving

The end-of –the –year festive season is fast approaching and before we know it, we shall be singing Christmas carols, attending church services, feasting and exchanging gifts with loved ones. I only hope that the true meaning of Christmas to any Believer will not be lost in the merry making. The giving of gifts started with the three Wise men from the East who brought special gifts to honour and worship the baby born to be the king of the Jews.

The birth of Jesus is a free gift from our Father ; given to us out of his love. Jesus was later to die at the cross for our sins so that we could have eternal life. For as Jesus himself rightly said: If the Son sets you free, then you will be really free.

Just as I was thinking about giving and sharing, I found myself singing The Twelve Days of Christmas song. It is an old English Christmas carol (1780) which I was taught in junior school some donkey years ago! In this song a generous person sends a gift to his true love each day for the twelve days of Christmas – from the 25th December to the 6th January and the gifts become increasingly grand as the days go by.

I surprised myself by remembering all the twelve gifts though I have not sang this song for more than ten years!

Can you imagine receiving a gift from your true love each day for twelve days? I would probably walk on cloud nine or walk around as if I owned the world. For the love he feels in his heart would be driving him to send those twelve gifts. Amy Wilson Carmichael, an Irish Protestant missionary in India said:

“You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.’’

I laughed out loud and then I got the idea of writing this Post just to remind ourselves of the importance of giving and sharing what we have. It is not the gift that I give that is important but the reason of why I give. You give because you want to and you give out of the love and concern in your heart for the person you give. This also makes us understand why the best gifts that a parent can give to a child cannot be found in any shop simply because they are too priceless: namely love and prayers from your heart.

Those of us who read the Bible cannot forget the Widow’s offering of two little copper coins into the temple treasury while the rich people dropped what they had to spare of their riches.

I also remembered that the poor and needy are always among us throughout the 365 days of the year so they need to be shown our loving kindness every day not just during the twelve days of Christmas.

This was ingrained in me by my late father at a tender age. There was a time when our home had the only telephone in the village( compare with the present time of mobile phones). It became the public phone to use for all emergencies in the village: to call a father at work to come home to take a sick child to the hospital, to call a father at work to attend to a child sent away from school due to unpaid fees, to call the Fire brigade  to attend to a house on fire or kill a python at someone’s home.

Thankfully, the service was never abused for the emergencies were genuine. My father never charged for this service for all those years. He provided the service out of concern and love for his many neighbours.

My favourite writer Kahlil Gibran, the Lebanese born American writer and philosopher said that you give most when you give of yourself- your time, efforts and energy.

“I slept and I dreamed that life is all joy. I woke and saw that life is all service. I served and saw that service is joy.’’

My father made time to serve gladly with Uganda Red Cross Society, YMCA, Lions’ Club, Uganda Boys’ Scouts Association, The Bible Society and many School boards.

Up to today I cannot figure out how he managed to get the hours to serve wholeheartedly during the 24 hours of the day! Surprisingly, he had time to supervise us do our holiday homework and even watch you hold the pen properly.

For all the festive seasons we spent deep in the village, my father would order a cow or two slaughtered  then have small packages neatly wrapped in banana leaves sent to all his neighbours. We were involved in the delivery of some of those parcels. My father was not looking for his neighbours’  votes; he just wanted to share what he had with them. He understood that by giving to others , you live a meaningful life. Winston Churchill, a former British Prime Minister, once said that: “We make a living by what we get. We make life by what we give.’’

I have also come up with my own simple ways of giving to the needy for if I do not do it ; I would me dishonoring my father’s memory.

As the proverbs say : Teach children how they should live, and they will remember it all their lives.

Giving gladly is a form of ‘Double’ currency in that it enriches both the receiver and the giver.

I have experienced this first hand; for some years until the children flew the nest, together we would collect and sort out toys, books and items of clothing and shoes they had outgrown and I would take them to the nearest orphanage or SOS Village.

When I close my eyes now, I can see the big smiles on the administrators’ faces as I handed them the items. Much later when I would see a child wearing any of those items; I would smile to myself out of the joy in my heart.

May we all learn to give gladly to the poor and needy throughout the year not only at Christmas time.

Wishing you all a peaceful, joyful Christmas and a prosperous 2017.

Thank you for making time to visit my Blog and reading this post. Kindly leave a comment.

Jane Nannono

 

 

A Man Is Only As Good As His Word

When you know for sure that you have lived most of your life on earth; you focus on living your own great life trying to avoid being confused by the nonessential or being manipulated by others. You have been there, done that, seen that and have the real sense of where you are heading to so you are less likely to sell yourself short.

Last week I was reading about honesty and integrity, virtues that seem to be becoming less common in our society. I was reminded of this idiom: A man is only as good as his word. Simply put it means that a man or woman has to tell the truth and keep his promises. Such a man or woman can always be trusted because he/she will do what he/she says he/she will do. He/she will start a project and finish it.
Then this led me straight into the murky waters of Lies and deception.
I kept laughing at myself knowing very well that I was not in a position to throw the first stone at the liar.
We all lie and yet we do not want to be lied to- nobody enjoys being lied to. The irony was not lost on me.
Many of us lie almost about anything and if we are not careful, we shall forget how to tell the truth though the truth still matters. We lie to ourselves and others. The politicians, our bosses, and sales people lie to us every day and we lie to them by telling them what they want to hear.
Dr Charles . V . Ford, a professor of Psychiatry at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, has worked in academic medicine for over fifty years. He has been studying about lies for some years and came up with 13 major reasons why people tell lies.
Among them:
We lie to avoid punishment- common in childhood. It is a form of self-preservation.
We lie to hurt or harm others.
-to obtain a sense of power and the more we get away with it; the more power we feel.
– to put someone down
– to protect others
– to maintain self esteem- exaggerating whom we are: to make ourselves superior- to make people see you in a better way.
In this digital era, you can look up the types of lies: white, grey and black lies. Whatever the type, lies have ripple effects.
Mark Twain, the renown American writer of the late 19th century, said: “If you tell the truth you do n’t have to remember anything.”He meant that it’s time consuming to remember what lies you have told and to whom. You need to tell more lies to sustain the lies you made in the first place. It is not surprising that many of us have become habitual liars. Apparently lying produces an escape from difficulty and unpleasantness.
The habitual liars feel comfortable and safe lying.
We know the truth but we do not want it told and known. Sometimes we deceive others by telling half- truths or taking things out of context.
When we know the truth and do not want it told or known we have told the cruelest lies according to Adlai Stevenson 11(1900-1965) , an American politician, diplomat and eloquent public speaker , said that ,“The cruelest lies are often told in silence.’’ I have done this many times in my life.
At this juncture, my best friend, a lawyer by profession will not hesitate to take me to task about
Lies of Omission-Someone deliberately withholds some important facts in order to foster a misconception. This completely changes the story. Lie of omission often cause as much damage as an outright untruth.
Lies of commission – lie to mislead, to trick people in believing that something which is not true.
In this digital era, it easier to tell lies on the phone and on the internet mainly because the one you are communicating with cannot see you- to read your eyes and lips and body gestures.
As I struggle to become a person of honesty and integrity while walking my own journey in life, I have come to learn that if I am honest with myself, then I do not need to lie about myself or to myself. All that I need is to accept that I am not perfect; I am a human being with strengths and flaws. I have to come clean to own up to my flaws and if there is any way I can improve on these weakness I have to create opportunities for myself to improve. I am a ‘work in progress’ so I have to act on what I have decided and accomplish the improvement. At the same time I have to increase my strengths whenever I get the opportunity to do so.
If I feel good about myself, believe in my innate goodness, respect and honour myself, I do not need to lie about myself.
I have also had to learn to stop comparing myself to others- it forces me to lie to make myself seem bigger and better. This has cost me people’s trust and friendship in the past.
It is hard to repair broken trusts. Over time, I have come to understand that nothing can give me as much joy as living my own life- my own great story. The masks and veils we wear by telling lies about ourselves make us miserable in the long run. The lies we tell about ourselves and others; have consequences to you and to those around you. As King Solomon, the wisest man that ever lived warns us that our words can preserve life or destroy it. Lies penetrate all areas of our lives.
And when you happen to break your word – which should not happen often, be accountable and correct the wrong as best as you can.
I am now letting the truth be the truth; being as honest as possible though at the same time I have to keep some opinions to myself and learned to emphasize the positive in people and in each situation.
No doubt this comes with age but one has to make great efforts to make it a daily practice. Keep doing it until it feels right.
This is something we all have to learn to do as we focus on living our own great story. You have to be honest with yourself, do the right thing even if it may be painful at times.
The truth still matters and truth and honour are two sides of the same coin.
Keep your word to yourself and to others. Men who keep their word are greatly respected.
Keep your word or do not give it: the choice is yours and what you choose to do has a ripple effect on those around you. These three famous quotes may help to keep you on the straight and narrow:
“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’’
“If you tell the truth you do n’t have to remember anything.”
“The cruelest lies are often told in silence.’’
I have also added one of my own: Let the one who has never told a lie throw the first stone.

Thank you for taking time to read this. I hope it has given you something to think about. Kindly leave a comment and keep visiting my Blog.

Jane Nannono

 

LEARNING IS FOR LIFE

I can safely say that life is all about learning and growing into  the person you were created to be. You can learn from anyone be it a child  or a passerby depending on the situation you find yourself in. The famous inspirational poem entitled  Desideranta( 1920)  by Max Ehrmann says that : listen to the other; even the dull and ignorant , they too have their story. In the same breath , Ehrmann advises us to take kindly to the counsel of years.

Stories are told to teach us something about life. The wisest among us are humble enough to trust and learn from the mistakes and failures of others.

Our first teachers are our parents then the family and the community around us. The Bible tells us that God teaches us letter by letter, line by line and lesson by lesson. He does this through the experiences we go through : the victories and joys, the struggles and sorrows and the failures and disappointments. You can move to the next level only after passing the lesson from the experience or else you keep going through the a cycle. It is said that Knowledge is power. I would add that knowledge is power if you apply it to your life to grow and develop. What you learn should help you to make better, informed choices and improve your life – find deep meaning to life. You should enjoy life more and live a fulfilled life.

Science tells us that the human brain forgets 10% of what it has learned each year. Naturally,  by the end of five years  it would have forgotten 50% of what it had learned.

Even the Bible tells us in the Proverbs, that when you stop learning, you neglect what you even know.

Socrates (471BC- 399BC) the classical Greek philosopher and one of the founders of Western Philosophy admitted his ignorance for he realised that the more he learned, the more he found out that he did know anything. So he promised himself that as long as he still had life and strength he would keep learning and keep teaching others for the well being of society. One of his famous quotations says: “Admit ignorance to free yourself to learn.”

In this day and time of the 3rd Industrial Revolution – the Digital era; Alvin Toffle a sociologist and writer said ” The illiterates of the 21 st century will not be those who cannot read and write , but those who cannot learn , unlearn and relearn.”

In this Digital era ; information is freely available – ‘Simply Google it’ . Information changes fast and requires us to keep reading and learning.

We have to learn new things , unlearn old things and habits that have been overtaken by time, age and relearn to polish up what we already know. One verse in the Bible spells it out clearly to us.

“When I was a child , my speech, feelings and thinking were all those of a child; now that I have grown up , I have no more use for childish ways.”

Charles Darwin (1809-1882) the renown English Biologist and Scientist confirmed this when he said ” It is not the strongest of the species that survive, not the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to the changes.”

You have to keep your mind and heart open to learn and grow into your full potential and to remain relevant.

To learn, one has to listen- with your ears and heart. You listen not to reply but to understand. Understanding is an integral part of wisdom. when you understand, you do better.

Essentially,we learn by hearing, seeing and doing. We learn most by doing. This has reminded me of the popular Chinese quote often attributed to  Confucius: ” I hear and forget. I see and remember. I do and understand.” Simply put hearing is not as good as seeing , seeing is not as good as knowing, knowing is not as good as acting; true learning continues until it is put in action.

Once I have learned something , I am given the inherent responsibility to teach others. It is for my own good and for the good of others.

Keep seeking for knowledge, keep listening, keep learning, keep doing things and keep teaching others for life.

Thank you for visiting my Blog and please leave a comment and keep coming back.

I have no doubt that this Blog will turn into a ‘Double currency’ for the two of us: enriching you the reader and myself ; the writer.

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WHEN IGNORANCE IS BLISS  by Jane Nannono

I know if you are now reading this you must be disagreeing with me strongly. Take heart, we are both on the same side: ignorance is not bliss. But for some fleeting moments when life throws you the unexpected in your path, not knowing what is likely to happen and when it can happen can be bliss.

My youngest sister had battled cancer of the breast for about six years and had developed a strong will to live but three months ago, sadly, she succumbed to the monster while I sat faithfully by her bed side.

She was a fierce warrior deserving to be presented with the finest feathers of the Blue crane if she was a member of the Xhosa tribe of South Africa.

The doctors had from time to time prepared her and the family for the final eventuality- death from the complications, but when it came, it hit us like a ton of bricks. It will take a while for my frail octagenerian mother and us the siblings and grandchildren to come to terms with the loss.

In the last four weeks of her life, I found myself many times thinking that Ignorance was bliss.

While writing up this post I had to do some research about the meaning of this idiom.

The idiom originates from Thomas Gray’s (1716-1771) poem entitled Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College(1747) It is a ten stanza poem each with ten lines. The last line of this poem says:

And happiness swiftly flies.

Thought would destroy their paradise.

No more; where ignorance is bliss,

‘Tis folly to be wise.

During those last three weeks ;complications  arose one after the other, all pointing to the final outcome.

I myself, a medical doctor for nearly forty years was the patient’s attendant and knowing the facts I knew turned into a heavy burden to me. In such moments, I found myself wishing that I did not know as much as I did about the condition and state of the patient.

Not knowing what was likely to happen and when it could happen would have been bliss to me.

Many times ,I wished that I knew the basics just like my mother and other members of the family.

It is said that “What you do not know cannot hurt you.’’

On a scale of one to ten ; I scored 9 for being terribly worried and frightened just because I knew too much and yet all my relatives depended on me. My mother and siblings could have scored five. No doubt they knew the end was near and were concerned. The medical doctor –turned attendant was in emotional turmoil. For the last two days, I was in total dread and despair and naturally I started panicking.

Knowledge is power and in this situation, I should have used it to make better informed decision. On the contrary,for some moments it was causing me untold pain and suffering. I had tried my best to prepare myself , my mother and siblings for the inevitable but I had to spare them so much pain that I ended up shouldering it alone. Had it not been for the daily discussion I was having with the medical team I could have been weighed down.

My sister kept telling herself that “When I get better, I’ll do this and that……….

How could I have punctured her inflated balloon or burst her soap bubble? Though all along we had been expecting it.

How do you tell an old mother watching over her youngest child that this is it?

How could I best strike a balance between giving hope and telling the truth gently without inflicting more pain and hurt?

I had read and seen many patients with the same condition on the wards and in the post mortem room. I could even imagine how the organs looked like as the cancer spread to them.

Much as I wished that I knew much less, I had no way of getting rid of the facts I knew. At that moment in time I was four persons in one: a human being with strengths and flaws, a daughter,a sister turned attendant and a doctor with a wealth of knowledge and experience. The four boundaries were blurred and finally the human being took control of the reigns. Since I had no power to prevent the final blow; I resigned to the Divine will.

It is said that : Blessed are the flexible, they will not be bent out of shape.

And George Irving said, “Little minds are tamed and subdued by misfortune; but great minds rise above  them.’’

So in the end I looked for something good out of this experience after all what does not kill you makes you strong .

I started hoping for the best while I prepared for the worst.

I also pledged to be kinder, compassionate to all the patients I touch and their attendants knowing very well that each of them is fighting an inner battle.

What actually Thomas Gray had meant by saying that ignorance was bliss was that misfortunes came to all of us in good time and that the young should be left to live in their innocence- paradise until they are strong enough to bear the burden and their minds are able to deal with the events. I would probably admit that at my age, I was mature and strong enough to shoulder the responsibility of caring for a loved one who even happened to be much younger than me. Had it happened earlier on may be the experience would have drowned me.

I am not allowing myself to dwell on this experience-giving it power to harm me. Instead, I am forging ahead promoting and protecting people’s health and mine too as I swore almost forty years ago.

Most likely I needed to go through this experience to bring out the best of me.

By Jane Nannono

24/11/2016

The Gift of Time

Each morning I wake up strong, up and about, I thank God for giving me the gift of time- an opportunity to start again and do better than I did yesterday. what happens to me during the day is an extra bonus. It then dawns on me that neither the curtains have been brought down nor the final whistle blown. This fires me to get up and get going with much energy and optimism.

I have looked up several  common quotations and sayings about time and the list was indeed long.

Among them are : There is a time for everything.

Everyhting has an end.

Time and tide wait for no man

Time is money

Time heals almost everything

Procrastination is the thief of time

Seize the day.

There are a myriad of them  to fit any situation that you find yourself in .

Over time , I have come to learn that we all have 24 hours in a day but the most succesful among us are those who make the most of those 24 hours to make a difference in the community around them. i have also learned that some things like the death of a loved one cannot be healed but instead over time, one learns to live comfortably with the pain.

somewhere in the Bible it says that God teaches us letter by letter, line by line and lesson by lesson. So it is not surprising that  the eleventh verse of 1 Corinthian 13 says:…………..When I was a child, my speech, feelings, and thinking were all those of a child; now that I have grown up, I have no more use for childish ways.”

Each experience you go through tests and challenges you and you learn from it. You learn from your mistakes, failures and grow. This is why an adult has no more use for childish ways and that is why it is said that great character is born out of great adversity.

It is not surprising then  to find that those who have been gifted with time  can right the wrong done. As they walk through life , they come to learn who they are truly and become their own heroes- thye are less confused about life and are at their best and happiest.

Beiing the best ‘you ‘ is the ultimate gift for undertaking the journey of life. when you find yourself, you help many people around you to find themslves too.

This is a process and can only be achieved by being gifted with the gift of time.

Sometime in 2012 , I was thinking deeply about this most important gift to me and I ended up crystalising the actual reward and meaning to me in this PROSE POEM ??

 

The Gift of Time. By Jane Nannono

We all mellow with the years.

Like good wine, we become better people.

Older,wiser and respected.

We have hindsight and know who we really are.

We have found our purpose and meaning in life;

we have learned from our mistakes and grown from our failures.

We are comfortable with ourselves,

we look at things in their true perspective;

no jaundiced views, no tinted glasses, no veils or masks.

We are our own bosses and have learned to say ‘no’.

We have stopped playing along to get along.

We have stopped feeling guilty and only do what we feel is right.

We have learned to forgive and to laugh at ourselves.

We have learned to love ourselves

and unashamedly put ourselves first.

We only do what adds value to ourselves;

what we love and enjoy doing.

Being comfortable with who we are: simply being ourselves.

 

The ultimate gift for taking the journey of life is to become your own hero- self-discovery: knowing who you really are and then accepting and loving yourself then make the most of it for your own good and for mankind.