Wednesday, June 30, 2004

The Rat Trap

I saw this a while ago and forwarded it to a few people. Unfortunately, I never thought to save a copy myself. So I've been looking for it for almost 6 months now because I always come into situations whereby its applies so much but can't for the love of me remember the whole tale.

So ... finally .... here goes!

The Rat Trap

A rat looked through a crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife opening a package. What food might it contain? He was aghast to discover that it was a rat trap.

Retreating to the barnyard the rat proclaimed the warning; "There's a rat trap in the house, a rat trap in the house!" The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said,"Excuse me, Mr. Rat, I can tell this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by it."

The rat turned to the pig and told him, "There's a rat trap in the house, a rat trap in the house!" "I am so very sorry Mr. Rat," sympathized the pig, "but there is nothing I can do about it but pray. Be assured that you are in my prayers." The rat turned to the cow. She said, "Like wow, Mr. Rat. A rat trap. I am in grave danger. Duh?"

So the rat returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmer's rat trap alone.

That very night a sound was heard throughout the house, like the sound of a rat trap catching its prey. The farmer's wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see that it was a venomous snake whose tail the trap had caught. The snake bit the farmer's wife. The farmer rushed her to the hospital. She returned home with a fever. Now everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the farmer took his hatchet to the barnyard for the soup's main ingredient.

His wife's sickness continued so that friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them the farmer butchered the pig. The farmer's wife did not get well. She died, and so many people came for her funeral that the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide meat for all of them to eat.

So the next time you hear that someone is facing a problem and think that it does not concern you, remember that when there is a rat trap in the house, the whole barnyard's at risk.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

The Rules

The Rules From the Male Side

We always hear "the rules" from the female side. Now here are the rules from the male side. These are our rules! Please note these are all numbered "1" ON PURPOSE! Print this out. If you're a Man pass to your partner for a greater understanding. If you're a woman keep it somewhere prominent like on the fridge!

1. Learn to work the toilet seat. You're a big girl. If it's up, put it down. We need it up, you need it down. You don't hear us bitching about you leaving it down.

1. Birthdays, Valentines, and Anniversaries are not quests to see if we can find the perfect present yet again!

1. Sometimes we are not thinking about you. Live with it.

1. Saturday = sports. It's like the full moon or the changing of the tides. Let it be.

1. Don't cut your hair. Ever. Long hair is always more attractive than short hair. One of the big reasons guys fear getting married is that married women always cut their hair, and by then you're stuck with her.

1. Shopping is NOT a sport. And no, we are never going to think of it that way.

1. Crying is blackmail.

1. Ask for what you want. Let us be clear on this one: Subtle hints do not work! Strong hints do not work! Obvious hints do not work! Just say it!

1. We don't remember dates. Mark birthdays and anniversaries on a calendar. Remind us frequently beforehand.

1. Most guys own three pairs of shoes - tops. What makes you think we'd be any good at choosing which pair, out of thirty, would look good with you dress?

1. Yes and No are perfectly acceptable answers to almost every question.

1. Come to us with a problem only if you want help solving it. That's what we do. Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.

1. A headache that lasts for 17 months is a problem. See a doctor.

1. Check your oil! Please.

1. Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument. In fact, all comments become null and void after 7 days.

1. If you think you're fat, you probably are. Don't ask us. We refuse to answer.

1. If something we said can be interpreted two ways, and one of the ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the other one.

1. Let us ogle. We are going to look anyway; it's genetic.

1. You can either ask us to do something or tell us how you want it done. Not both. If you already know best how to do it, just do it yourself.

1. Whenever possible, please say whatever you have to say during commercials.

1. Christopher Columbus did not need directions, and neither do we.

1. The relationship is never going to be like it was the first two months we were going out. Get over it. And quit whining to your girlfriends.

1. ALL men see in only 16 colors, like Windows default settings. Peach, for example, is a fruit, not a color. We have no idea what mauve is.

1. If it itches, it will be scratched. We do that.

1. We are not mind readers and we never will be. Our lack of mind-reading ability is not proof of how little we care about you.

1. If we ask what is wrong and you say "nothing," we will act like nothing's wrong. We know you are lying, but it is just not worth the hassle.

1. If you ask a question you don't want an answer to, expect an answer you don't want to hear.

1. When we have to go somewhere, absolutely anything you wear is fine. "Really".

1. Don't ask us what we're thinking about unless you are prepared to discuss such topics as navel lint, the offside rule, or motorbikes.

1. You have enough clothes.

1. You have too many shoes.

1. No you really do have too many shoes.

1. It is neither in your best interest or ours to take the quiz together. No, it doesn't matter which quiz.

1. BEER is as exciting for us as handbags are for you.

1. Thank you for reading this; Yes, I know, I have to sleep on the couch tonight, but did you know we really don't mind that, it's like camping.

1. I'm in shape. ROUND is a shape.

Monday, June 28, 2004

South London

Tim is a saviour! If I had not met him at the door this morning, how would I have managed to get my things to Access Storage and pay the monthly fee? I thank God for Tim. He's been a great tutor and very helpful guy. I truly was very lucky to have found space in the trunk rooms to put all my stuff (for free!) and to get to pick it up when I graduate. I thank God.

A lesson in Geography

The Geography of a Woman

Between the ages of 18 - 21 a woman is like Africa or Australia. She is half discovered, half wild and naturally beautiful with bushland around the fertile deltas.

Between the ages of 21 - 30 a woman is like America or Japan. Completely discovered, very well developed and open to trade especially with countries with cash or cars.

Between the ages of 30 - 35, she is like India or Spain. Very hot, relaxed and convinced of its own beauty.

Between the ages of 35 - 40 a woman is like France or Argentina. She may have been half destroyed during the war but can still be a warm and desirable place to visit.

Between the ages of 40 - 50 she is like Yugoslavia or Iraq. She lost the war and is haunted by past mistakes. Massive reconstruction is now necessary.

Between the ages of 50 - 60 she is like Russia or Canada. Very wide, quiet and the borders are practically unpatrolled but the frigid climate keeps people away.

Between the ages of 60 - 70 a woman is like England or Mongolia. With a glorious and all conquering past but alas no future.

After 70, they become Albania or Afghanistan. Everyone knows where it is, but no one wants to go there.

The Geography of a Man

Between the ages of 15 - 70 a man is like Zimbabwe - ruled by a dick!

Sunday, June 27, 2004

God always meets us at our point of need!

Yes! I called my cousin Joe and Gerry has agreed to put me up for a short while! Thank God! Now all I need to sort out is where to put all my stuff while I'm in London ...


I can't believe it! I'm homeless with nowhere to stay, I haven't packed and I've no idea where I'll put all my stuff even when I do!!!

It's so crazy! No money. Storage places are all full. There's no space in the Tocil container or in the trunk rooms that I know of. What to do?

Somehow, something tells me God will provide .......

Child Abuse ... my ass!


My son came home from school one day,
with a smirk upon his face.
He decided he was smart enough,
to put me in my place.

"Guess what I learned in Civics Two,
that's taught by Mr..Wright?
It's all about the laws today,
The "Children's Bill of Rights."

It says I need not to clean my room,
don't have to cut my hair.
No one can tell me what to think,
or speak, or what to wear.

I have freedom from religion,
and regardless what you say,
I don't have to bow my head,
and I sure don't have to pray.

I can wear earrings if I want,
and pierce my tongue & nose.
I can read & watch just what I like,
and get tattoos from head to toe.

And if you ever spank me,
I'll charge you with a crime.
I'll back up all my charges,
with the marks on my behind.

Don't you ever touch me,
my body's only for my use,
not for your hugs and kisses,
that's just more child abuse.

Don't preach about your morals,
like your Mama did to you.
That's nothing more than mind control,
And it's illegal too!

Dad, I have these children's rights,
so you can't influence me,
or I'll call Children's Services Division,
better known as C.S.D.


Of course my first instinct was
To toss him out the door.
But the chance to teach him a lesson
made me think a little more.

I mulled it over carefully,
I couldn't let this go.
A smile crept upon my face,
he's messing with a pro.

The next day I took him shopping
at the local Goodwill Store.
I told him, "Pick out all you want,
there's shirts & pants galore.

I've called and checked with C.S.D.
who said they didn't care
if I bought you K-Mart shoes
instead of those Nike Airs.

And I've canceled that appointment
to take your driver's test.
The C.S.D. is unconcerned
so I'll decide what's best.

I said "No time to stop and eat,
or pick up stuff to munch.
And tomorrow you can start to learn
to make your own pack lunch.

Just save the raging appetite,
and wait till dinner time.
We're having liver and onions,
a favorite dish of mine.

He asked "Can I please rent a movie,
to watch on my VCR?"
"Sorry, but I sold your TV,
for new tires on my car.

I also rented out your room,
you'll take the couch instead.
The C.S.D. requires
just a roof over your head.

Your clothing won't be trendy now,
and I'll choose what we eat.
That allowance that you used to get,
will buy me something neat.

I'm selling off your jet ski,
dirt-bike & roller blades.
Check out the "Parents Bill of Rights,"
It's in effect today!

Hey hot shot, are you crying,
and why are you on your knees?
Are you asking God to help you out,
instead of C.S.D..?

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Final Day of Term!

I spent the day with my special people: they know themselves. It was pretty emotional. I don't know how I managed to brave it without shedding a tear. I had a very good time at the End of Term Party. Saw pretty much everyone I haven't seen in ages. Said goodbye to the people that matter. It's gonna be a real big challenge to keep in touch with everyone but will try my level best. After all, there are many of those I shall be seeing in London after graduation. The Kenyan connection will have to do with emails after the 16th June.

My time in Warwick has really had a profound impact on myself. I must say I'm grateful, happy, elated and fulfilled by my times at this university. The people I have known and met will remain ingrained in my memory for ever. The friends I have made will be a strong part of my life from now henceforth. God give me the conviction and ability to keep in touch with all these wonderful people.


Please make a habit of reading through any official letters you write!!! Please!!!!

These are extracts from actual letters sent to various councils and Housing associations throughout the UK:

1. I want some repairs done to my cooker as it has backfired and burnt my knob off.

2. I wish to complain that my father hurt his ankle very badly when he put his foot in the hole in his back passage.

3. And their 18 year old son is continually banging his balls against my fence.

4. I wish to report that the tiles are missing from the outside toilet roof. I think it was that bad wind the other >night that blew them off.

5. I am writing on behalf of my sink, which is coming away from the wall.

6. Will you please send someone to mend the garden path, my wife tripped and fell on it yesterday and now she is pregnant?

7. I request permission to remove my drawers in the kitchen. 50% of the walls are damp, 50% have crumbling plaster and the rest are plain filthy.

8. The toilet is blocked and we cannot bath the children until it is cleared.

9. Will you please send a man to look at my water? It is a funny colour and not fit to drink.

10. Our lavatory seat is broken in half and is now in three pieces.

11. I want to complain about the farmer across the road, every morning at 6:00am his cock wakes me up and its now getting too much for me.

12. The man next door has a large erection in the garden, which is unsightly and dangerous.

13. Our kitchen floor is damp. We have two small children and would like a third so please send someone round to do something about it.

14. I am a single woman living in a downstairs flat and would you please do something about the noise made by the man I have on top of me every night.

15. Please send a man with the right tool to finish the job and satisfy my wife.

16. I have had the clerk of the works down on the floor six times but I still have had no satisfaction.

17. My bush is really overgrown round the front and my back passage has fungus in it.

18. He's got this huge tool that vibrates the whole house and I just can't take it any more.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Something to ponder

I know people have funny takes on different random occurences in life but this one is one of the most unique I've ever come across!!


Please read the following six statements and the amazing conclusion to which they lead:

1. The sport of choice for the urban poor is BASKETBALL

2. The sport of choice for maintenance level employees is BOWLING

3. The sport of choice for front-line workers is FOOTBALL

4. The sport of choice for supervisors is BASEBALL

5. The sport of choice for middle management is TENNIS

6. The sport of choice for corporate executives is GOLF

Amazing conclusion:

The higher you are in the corporate structure, the smaller your balls become!!!!

Thursday, June 24, 2004

I've passed my exams!!!

Yes! I have triumphed over a course that had threatened to get the best of me! It is all over! I can rejoice that God has seen me through! He kept His Word as I had asked - therefore it is up to me to keep my side of the agreement. Thank you so much!

How old is Grandma

This I'm sure you'll find even more interesting .......

One evening a grandson was talking to his grandmother about current events. The grandson asked his grandmother what she thought about the shootings at schools, the computer age, and just things in general.

The Grandma replied, "Well, let me think a minute, I was born, before television, penicillin, polio shots, frozen foods, Xerox, contact lenses, Frisbees and the pill. There was no radar, credit cards, laser beams or ball-point pens.

Man had not invented pantyhose, air conditioners, dishwashers, clothes dryers, and the clothes were hung out to dry in the fresh air and man hadn't yet walked on the moon.

Your Grandfather and I got married first-and then lived together. Every family had a father and a mother. Until I was 25, I called every man older than I, 'Sir'- and after I turned 25, I still called policemen and every man with a title, "Sir.' We were before gay-rights, computer- dating, dual careers, daycare centers, and group therapy. Our lives were governed by the Ten Commandments, good judgment, and common sense.

We were taught to know the difference between right and wrong and to stand up and take responsibility for our actions. Serving your country was a privilege; living in this country was a bigger privilege. We thought fast food was what people ate during Lent.

Having a meaningful relationship meant getting along with your cousins. Draft dodgers were people who closed their front doors when the evening breeze started. Time-sharing meant time the family spent together in the evenings and weekends - not purchasing condominiums.

We never heard of FM radios, tape decks, CDs, electric typewriters, yogurt, or guys wearing earrings. We listened to the Big Bands, Jack Benny, and the President's speeches on our radios. And I don't ever remember any kid blowing his brains out listening to Tommy Dorsey.

If you saw anything with 'Made in Japan' on it, it was junk. The term 'making out' referred to how you did on your school exam.

Pizza Hut, McDonald's, and instant coffee were unheard of. We had 5 & 10-cent stores where you could actually buy things for 5 and 10 cents. Ice-cream cones, phone calls, rides on a streetcar, and a Pepsi were all a nickel. And if you didn't want to splurge, you could spend your nickel on enough stamps to mail 1 letter and 2 postcards.

You could buy a new Chevy Coupe for $600 but who could afford one? Too bad, because gas was 11 cents a gallon.

In my day, "grass" was mowed, "coke" was a cold drink, "pot" was something your mother cooked in, and "rock music" was your grandmother's lullaby. "Aids" were helpers in the Principal's office, "chip" meant a piece of wood, "hardware" was found in a hardware store, and "software" wasn't even a word.

And we were the last generation to actually believe that a lady needed a husband to have a baby. No wonder people call us "old and confused" and say there is a generation gap.....

and how old do you think I am ???.....

Read on to see -- pretty scary if you think about it and pretty sad at the same time.

This Woman would be only 58 years old!

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Final Year Results!!

Oh my! I almost can't believe the day is here! My results come out this evening! Strangely, somehow, I am not as scared and anxious as I was a few weeks ago. Its almost like I have come to accept that I can't change this outcome. Whatever happens, I am at peace with myself. I did my best this year and whatever results I get today, I will be happy. After all, they are MY results and I worked for them! So .. here goes!

Pun on little children

I found this pun on little children while surfing today that was so interesting I just had to share. It really made me smile.

Little Children

1) You spend the first 2 years of their life teaching them to walk and talk.
Then you spend the next 16 telling them to sit down and shut-up.

2) Grandchildren are God's reward for not killing your children.

3) Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like clearing the driveway before it has stopped snowing.

4) There is only one pretty child in the world and every mother has it.

5) Mothers of teens know why animals eat their young.

6) I asked Mom if I was a gifted child ..........
She said they certainly wouldn't have paid for me.

7) Children are natural mimics, who act like their parents despite every effort to teach them good manners.

8) Children seldom misquote you. In fact, they usually repeat word for word what you shouldn't have said.

9) The main purpose of holding children's parties is to remind yourself that there are children more awful than your own.

10) We child proofed our home 3 years ago and they're still getting in!

11) Be nice to your kids. They'll choose your nursing home.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

The Perfect Marriage

It truly is sad to see how many marriages are disintegrating today, many of these destroyed by the prevalence of domestic violence in many a union. Wife battery is on the increase and it is shocking to learn of the number of women who put up with regular beatings and physical acts of violence from their spouses. A lot of these women suffer in silence, either in fear of rejection or the future of their children.

One remembers the old saying 'being caught between a rock and a hard place'. People tend to blame the woman calling her 'stupid' for not wanting out as soon as the first blow lands on her face. But this decision is easier said than made. One cannot even begin to imagine the inner turmoil a woman in an abusive marriage is going through, not to mention the emotional abuse and mental torture the frequent acts of violence are inflicting on her. I have a newfound respect for women who come out of these relationships against all the odds and manage to re-build their lives.

This article from one of the Kenyan dailies gave an interesting insight into th elives of a couple who were otherwise considered as having a picture perfect marriage. Although the author writes the story from a fictional standpoint, the tale unfolds in a very realistic manner. Personally, I believe there are quite a number of women out there today who can relate to this.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Keira Knightley's Lip Job

Well, all I can say is that it was just a matter of time. Acne treatment my ass! Isn't it interesting how her press agent claims that the girl " hardly needs plastic surgery"? Hmm!

Original Article from Teen Hollywood Web Network

Keira Knightley has sparked cosmetic surgery rumours after being photographed with apparently fuller lips.

Speculation was caused when the 19-year-old actress was spotted at the London address of a top celebrity surgeon.

The 'Pirates of the Caribbean' beauty spent an hour and a half at the building where Dr Jean Louis Sebagh has his offices, and was later seen with a seemingly larger top lip.

However, Keira's agent has vehemently denied the star has had any cosmetic surgery, claiming the actress was visiting a dermatologist at the same address.

The agent told Britain's Daily Mail newspaper: "She is 19 and has never been to a plastic surgeon. Just look at her - she hardly needs plastic surgery."

Lip enhancement procedures are popular with celebrities, and new alternatives to collagen implants are now being used.

Meg Ryan and Liz Hurley are among those rumoured to have had their lips enhanced.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Mailu's number in my phone book

Today has been a pensive day. After my late night of fantastic dinner and watching Nigerian movies with a few friends, I couldn't get up early this morning. So I slept in. However, I didn't quite feel myself.

I think it was because I woke up to the sound of a text message alert on my phone. As I randomly sifted through the phone book, I came across Mailu's number.

At that moment, I felt a sharp pain in my chest and a strange dull feeling in my stomach. I can't really explain but it just brought so many memories and thoughts flashing through my mind. A strange wash of feelings just hit me.

And in those few moments, my day was ruined. Its like I fell apart again, only that there were no tears. I feel like my heart is crying such that no tears well in my eyes, but the pain is real.

And its so raw ....

Expressing oneself as a medium of overcoming grief

I found this particularly helpful.....

Expressing Yourself

Share With Others:

One of the most important steps taken in the grief process is telling others what you need. Many people probably want to help you, but are not sure how. People often are afraid of upsetting those grieving with mentioning simple tasks or errands.

Whether it's shoveling the sidewalk or just going for a cup of coffee, we need to share with our living loved ones what would be helpful to us.

Share With Yourself:

Another important step for us in expressing ourselves is sharing with our self how we are really doing. Many people who have suffered the death of a loved one have felt a need to record their thoughts and feelings about the event and its aftermath. Keeping a written journal is the most common method, but others have painted, drawn, sculpted, photographed, tape recorded, written poetry, or composed music to express themselves and promote healing after the death of a loved person.

Ways to Start Expressing Yourself:

Plan to spend some time each day with your journal. Before you begin, take a few moments to relax and meditate to help you focus.

Date each entry. When you look back after a few months, you will be amazed at how much you have grown and changed.

Consider what was and is easy, what was and is difficult. What color and shape is the emotion or image?

Put entries in sections of your loose-leaf notebook labeled, for example, present, past, future, hurting, healing, disappointments, accomplishments, dreams, etc.

Let your thoughts flow freely. Do not censor. Be honest with yourself.

Writing a letter to the deceased sharing sad or happy memories or completing unfinished business is very healing.

Write, compose, or paint spontaneously, forgetting rules of the discipline which would inhibit your creativity.

Protect the privacy of your journal. You do not need to share it with anyone, but it could be healing to share it with someone you can trust.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Coping with the loss of a loved one: Emotional Health

I liked this particular extract because it applies not only to coping with grief and loss but to the daily stresses of life ....

Handling the Stress of Grief

How do you cope with the stress in your life? Although there are numerous ways, some are more effective than others. In some cases, the way we cope with a situation may be as harmful as the stress caused by the situation itself.

There are many ways in which you can effectively and healthfully cope with the stress in your life. What coping strategies are you currently using?

Ask yourself

Do you feel that you have a supportive family around you?
Are you actively engaged in a hobby?
Do you belong to a social or activity group that meets once a month?
Do you practice some form of "deep relaxation" (yoga, meditation, imagery, etc.)?
Do you do something that you really enjoy that is "just for you" during the course of an average week?
Do you keep a journal?

Try avoiding or limiting:

The amount of cigarettes you smoke during the course of an average day.
The amount you consume of any form of medication or chemical substance (including alcohol) to help you sleep.
The amount you consume of any form of medication or chemical substance (including alcohol) to reduce your anxiety or just to calm you down.
Bringing home work that was meant to be done at your place of employment.

Ways to Nurture Yourself:

Taking bubble baths
Reading a good book
Journaling (try our online version)
Watching a movie
Calling a friend

"When will I stop crying?"
Although it may not seem like it at times, eventually the tears will end. There may be times when hearing a favorite song, smelling a remembered fragrance, or doing something you used to enjoy together will bring a moment of sadness and tears.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Coping with the loss of a loved one: Mental Health

Thought this was good to know just in case .....

Mental Health

Feel like you're losing your mind? Living life without a road map? Forgetting everything? Your mind—like your body and heart—is going through a lot right now. But like other reactions, the mental fatigue will lessen as well.

Special Feature: Traumatic Events and The Mind
Read suggestions from the National Mental Health Association on loss from traumatic events and your mental state.

Is It Normal Grief Or Clinical Depression?
As Dr. Therese Rando explains in Grief, Dying and Death, "depression and despair are common reactions to important losses." However, it is important to understand the difference between the depression following the death of a loved one and a clinical depression requiring intervention of a professional mental health worker.

Dr. Alan Wolfelt in Death and Grief: A Guide for Clergy gives these possible distinctions between normal grief and clinical depression:

Normal Grief vs. Clinical Depression

Responds to comfort and support : Does not accept support

Often openly angry : Irritable and may complain but does not directly express anger

Relates depressed feelings to loss experienced : Does not relate experiences to a particular life event

Can still experience moments of enjoyment : Exhibits an all-pervading sense of doom

May have transient physical complaints : Has chronic physical complaints

Expresses guilt over some specific aspect of the loss : Has generalized feelings of guilt

Has temporary impact upon self-esteem : Loss of self-esteem is of greater duration

"Why do I keep thinking and talking about how she died?"
Talking about the way our loved one died helps us grasp the reality of the experience. This is a life-changing experience so it is natural that it will be a vivid memory. As you work through your grief, you will not need to talk about the death in as much detail.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Busy Thursday

Well .. today was an interesting day.

For the first time since the end of my exams, I got up before 3pm! Hence I got a lot of things done which I had been procrastinating for about a week now.

I called Helen from Thresher's about the Traineeship for General and Assistant Managers. Somehow, she managed to give me an incorrect number for the recruitment organisation Thresher's uses to screen applicants. So I called her back within minutes, much to her surprise!

Anyway, after that I ate, had a shower and went into Coventry to continue looking for a guest house/B&B for my dear parents for the graduation week of 12th - 16th July. Unfortunately, the ones I checked out near the city centre are booked for that period. Luckily for me, I found one in Broad Lane (Bus Route No. 10 and 11). The lady was really nice but I don't see Mum and Dad walking that long path to and from the bus stop near her house!

All in all, tomorrow is a new day and chances are I might find a cheaper place tomorrow when the search goes on ....

Coping with the loss of a loved one: Physical Health

This was really interesting to read - I can totally relate to this. I know it is something that I feel I have little control over but who knew! There is light at the end of the tunnel .....

During mourning, you may drink more alcohol and smoke more cigarettes than usual and overuse tranquilizers and other medications. All of these habits contribute to poor health, making it even harder to work through your grief. The effect of grief on our health is just beginning to be measured. While guarding your health can be among the least of your concerns during the throes of grief, you must work toward maintaining your health as soon as you feel able.

Symptoms to be alert for:

Stomach pain
Loss of appetite
Intestinal upsets
Sleep disturbances
Dramatic loss of energy

Many of these symptoms of acute grief, and other physical manifestations of your mental anguish, begin to disappear as you adjust to your loss. You will have to be alert to their messages. Report any ongoing physical complaints to your doctor.

Steps to Renewed Health

1. Regular Exercise
Walking, running, and weight training are good activities to pursue. Start by just taking a walk around the block for 15 minutes. Maybe a day hike in the local park. Invite a friend to join you.

2. Proper nutrition
Cooking for one can be a chore even when your appetite is good. When your appetite is poor or, at best, unpredictable, cooking can simply not get done. Some people find that they are eating unusual things at odd hours, or that they never sit down for a meal because they can't bear to face that empty chair across the table. Understand that these feelings are natural and look for ways to make mealtime as bearable as possible. Perhaps you could share shopping and cooking with a single friend or neighbor.

3. Sleep
Adequate sleep is perhaps one of the toughest goals to achieve. Beware of the temptation to rely on drugs, such as alcohol or tranquilizers, to numb your pain, to bring on sleep. Many people who were offered such artificial relief during their grief say that the drugs only delayed the time they were forced to confront their pain. Take a nap. Go to bed early.

Your health is at a critical point right now. The physical demands on you have been enormous. Take care of yourself!

All very true!

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

A positive outlook to healing

I came across this quote by Henry Ford that I found very comforting. I am in the midst of mourning the tragic deaths of 4 family members and these words touched me:

'Life is a series of experiences, each one of which makes us bigger, even though it is hard to realize this. For the world was built to develop character, and we must learn that the setbacks and griefs which we endure help us in our marching onward.'
— Henry Ford

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Ways to remember a departed loved one

As part of my grieving period, I have been looking at several ways through which I can keep the memory of my loved ones alive in my heart. I came across the following:

Ways to Remember

From photo collages at a memorial service to planting a tree, there are many ways we can say, "I remember and loved this person." As you consider how you might want to remember a loved one, here are some ideas to start with. Consider:

Lighting a candle in her memory
Creating a memory book of photos of your loved one
Donating a gift of money or time to those less fortunate
Wearing a photo pin of your loved one
Starting a memorial scholarship fund in his name
Writing a poem or story about him
Visiting a place you both liked to visit
Hanging a special ornament on the tree in her memory
Playing her favorite music
Making a quilt from his favorite clothes
Sharing memories of her with friends and family
Providing memorial flowers for her at your church or synagogue
Creating a memory box of items that were special
Honoring his favorite tradition
Creating a new tradition in your memory
Hanging a stocking filled with loving memories of him
Gathering your family and friends together in celebration of him
Reading aloud your favorite story

Some of these are pretty difficult for me as it has been a while since I was last in Kenya for a holiday visit and there are also few tangibles I can collect. However, my memories of the time we had are still alive so it looks like I shall have to hang on to those for now.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Its so hard ...

I've been trying to come to terms with the passing of the Muthokas. Its been extremely difficult - I can't fully accept what has happened without 'saying goodbye'. I hate being overseas. I can't grieve properly because I haven't 'laid' them to rest. I hate having to struggle to suppress my feelings of hurt, despair and a deep sense of loss. I hate having to pretend that I'm ok when really I just want to scream at the top of my voice so that everyone can know how deep the pain is, how much I hurt, how hard it is to fall asleep every night since my every waking thought rips away the scab of my emotional wound. I hate having to email my parents in Kenya telling them I'm ok when I truly need their emotional support right now and can't say anything of the sort since they'll just worry unnecessarily about my history of peptic ulcers. I hate that much as my friends have told me I can always count on them for support, I can't - because self-punishment and martyrdom is the nature of my personality. I just wish I could turn off a switch and the pain will end. The grief will pass. My heart will find peace. And I'll get some sleep at night. Today is a new day. Let's hope that when I accompany my friends to Birmingham for a shopping trip they will not notice my sleep depravation or the dark shadow I feel developing behind my face as a result of trying so hard. I hope I can maintain the facade of someone who is together. God please help me heal .....

Things don't just happen ... they happen just (Dr. Johnnie Coleman)

I've been trying to understand the recent demise of 5 family members in the most tragic of circumstances. And the question that kept popping into my mind was ... "why them?"

Why did it have to be that the Muthokas' car that had a road traffic accident that evening?

Why did it have to be that Ruth and her husband both died that night?

Why did it have to be that both Mailu and his brother died that night?

Why did young Terry have to perish with her parents?

Why is Raphael now an orphan?

One would probably feel compelled to ask me ... "why not them?" "Would you like to recommend someone else?"

Then it occurred to me. Perhaps I was being selfish. I am not the first person to have experienced such a loss, and history tells me I probably won't be the last. So what makes me feel that I am somehow not entitled to suffering such grief?

Maybe with time I will learn to accept this lot as my lot - a path towards increasing my faith in God. Very very tasking at the moment ...

Perhaps I will come to know that this too will pass as a sojourn into strengthening my ability to endure ...

Johnnie says that things happen the way they should, at just the right time and to the right people.

But still ...

I can't help asking, thinking, praying ...

Why me?

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Raphael Muthoka's health

I only just learnt today that my little nephew Raphael is out of the ICU and his condition is improving. Although I don't have any details yet, it is still very very encouraging to hear this.

I only wish I were there to see him. It still hurts to think of this tragedy but the pain is slowly lessening. Since I always shut people off in times like this, I guess it will take a little longer for me to heal.

My eyes still well with tears whenever I see or hear anything even remotely connected to my memories of the Muthokas. The hurt is still there, maybe not as intense, or maybe I'm just getting over the shock of the news and beginning to grieve. Either way, I just want to wake up one morning and hear Ruth's voice on the phone, asking when I can come over to her's to spend the weekend. Or hear the doorbell ring and open the door to meet Terry and Raphael running into the house shouting, excited to be visiting again.

Its so hard.....

Monday, June 07, 2004

Goapele's 'Even Closer'

Some of the real gems of the so-called neo-soul era, have been those artists who've recorded projects for independent labels well below the radar of the tastemakers at MTV or Entertainment Weekly. Acts like The Jazzyfatnastees (who broke with MCA to record their second disc with the indie Cool Hunter), Ledisi, Kindred the Family Soul, N'Dambi and Conya Doss have more than held their own, both commercially and artistically, in comparison to their major label peers like Floetry, Bilal, and Musiq and Vivian Green. Bay area chanteuse Goapele is on par with many of her neo-soul peers in terms of style and talent, but what sets her full-length debut Even Closer apart from the rest, is the activist spirit that informs both her music and her decision to record on her family owned label Skyblaze.

According to Goapele Mohlabane (she is the daughter of exiled South African activist Douglas Mohlabane), the decision to go the indie route was the result of wanting to "get the music out the way I see fit, without having to compromise my values, my image or any of my lyrics". (SF Weekly, 20 November 2002) Goapele's spirit is indicative of a woman, who at the age of 10 formed a pre-teen support group for the Bay Area Black Woman Health Project, was the child of a activist-minded bi-racial couple, and was born and bred in a region of the country known for its political and cultural mavericks. Goapele is just the latest in a long line of San Francisco/Oakland Bay Area figures who pushed against the margins dating back to Sly Stone and the Black Panther Party in the late 1960s and represented most recently in folk like Davey D, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Michael Franti and the legendary hip-hop collective known as Hieroglyphics.

Even Closer started-out as a nine-song EP (Closer) that the artist and her family partners distributed themselves, eventually selling 5,000 copies of the disc out of the proverbial car trunk. It was through her relationship with Hieroglyphics (who she collaborates with on "Ease Your Mind") that Goapele was able to negotiate a deal with Red/Sony to distribute the Even Closer, which includes five additional tracks. Released in November, Even Closer caught the attention of some industry folks as the record managed to outsell 50 Cent's record breaking debut Get Rich or Die Tryin' in the Bay Area.

Possessing a flat, nasal tone that is reminiscent at times of Faith Evans, Goapele co-wrote every one of the songs on Even Closer. Though she earned a following initially for politically tinged tracks like "Childhood Drama", "It Takes More" and the brilliant "Red, White and Blues" ("Red, white and Blues / If you don't claim them they'll blame you"), much of Even Closer is romantic fare. Goapele's talents shine most extraordinarily on the album's ballads and mid-temp grooves.

On tracks like the title track and lead single "Closer", "Too Much the Same" and the moody and introspective "Back to You", Goapele's voice sways gently against supple jazz grooves, bridging the neo-soul/smooth jazz sound in ways that only Amel Larrieux and Jill Scott have achieved consistently. "Back to You" is sandwiched between the disc's two best tracks "Salvation" and "Butterflykisses". "Salvation" is a beautiful meditation on the desire to find grounding amidst the chaos of everyday life (". . . hope is sifting through my hands/Like lost time/I can't make believe"). "Butterflykisses" is as cinnamonly sweet as the title suggest. On both "Butterflykisses" and "Salvation", Goapele employs a vocal style that can be best described as "searching for the perfect note" as the passion of both songs is literally expressed in her ability to squeeze every bit of emotion out of each note. The fact that her style is much more restrained than the classic gospel shouters, makes her ability to convey such emotion -- think Laura Nyro and Sade -- such a feat. Written and produced with neo-Chitlin' Circuit groovemasters Soulive, another highlight of Even Closer is the surly, greasy funk that is "Romantic".

Nothing on Goapele's Even Closer is likely to ever be an MTV buzzclip, but throughout her debut she exhibits striking vocals and solid song writing skills, suggesting that she will be a figure that will be heard from again and again, likely outlasting many of her neo-soul peers and some of the independent labels they record for.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

The Muthokas: May God rest their souls in eternal peace

On Friday 4th June, I learnt of the tragic deaths of my beloved cousin Ruth Wajomba, her husband Mailu Muthoka, their daughter Terry Mweke and Mailu's brother Paul Munyao in a horrific road traffic accident. I cannot even begin to describe the pain and sense of loss I am experiencing.

Ruth was one of my closest and dearest cousins - one of the few selfless, honest and God-fearing people I know. Her warmth was unpretentious, her love for family touching and her zest for life infectious. Her passing has dealt a huge blow to my family. Herself, Mailu and their children Terry and Raphael made a loving young family. They were inseparable, went everywhere together and did everything together. Alas, they almost died together.

Little Raphael is still in hospital, recovering from head injuries and broken legs, unconscious, oblivious to the loss he has just suffered. My heart goes out to my beloved nephew, who loved his father so much and was ever so fond of his younger sister.

This news was broken to me 3 weeks after the accident happened. And I cried my heart out. I cried for the love of Ruth, who had so much going for her, with whom I had shared many an ambition and who was always looking to better herself and the lives of her family.

I cried for Mailu, who perished with his brother, a kind, warm and friendly gentleman, whose commitment towards his family was evident in the way he doted on his children and spent so much quality time with. He was also very spiritual. I had the joy of attending a Sunday mass at their local church in which Terry recited a Bible verse. Both Ruth and Mailu were active members of the Church. Ruth had a lovely singing voice - she led the Soprano voices in the church choir. And they were bringing up their children in the same vein.

I cried for Terry - a girl so full of life her eyes smiled. A little girl so polite at her tender age she always made my heart sing with joy when she said 'thank you' or 'please'. Always at the top of her class.

Raphael and his uncle, Ruth's brother Kisaka were the sole survivors of this tragic accident. May God give them the strength to overcome their grief and the courage to accept the loss of their loved ones and move on. I ask God to take the future of Raphael into His own hands - for You alone know why You let this come to pass. May Your will be done.

Friday, June 04, 2004

The Abortion Debate

Finally! It's about time the Kenyan government stopped sitting on the fence and took a firm stand on whether to legalise abortion or let it remain illegal.

What irks me the most is some of the reasons given for lobbying for abortion to be legalised:

1. Women who conceive outside wedlock should have the option of terminating a pregnancy in the event that the father of the child does not accept his responsibility.

2. A woman who conceives out of wedlock is shunned by society therefore abortion is the only way to avoid her being a social outcast and its repercussions on her quality of life and that of her unborn child.

These arguements reflect society's views. Yet there is a huge gap between this perception and the reality of the abortion patient. Most people envision the typical abortion patient as a high school student ending her first unplanned pregnancy. In reality, the average abortion patient is in her mid-twenties, possibly married with children or unable to afford another child. And, of course, many women arrive at the hospital after suffering natural miscarriages.

Therefore, the more pertinent issue is the health risks that would otherwise face a mother and her unborn child in the event hers and the life of her child are in danger hence an abortion is medically warranted.

One way to remedy the large number of illegally procured abortions is to put in place stiff legal penalties to the parties responsible. This will deter others from whimsically considering this procedure and instead address matters pertaining to their reproductive health more seriously.

Secondly, the Ministry of Health needs to aggressively look into measures to curb the high mortality rates arising from unsafe abortion procedures. According to a recent study by the Population Council, unsafe abortion accounts for more than a third of maternal deaths in Kenya, and the large number of women who arrive in hospital emergency rooms with complications from spontaneous and induced abortion burdens understaffed, undersupplied, and overcrowded facilities.

Staff training and counselling in hospitals is a third important issue. It is often difficult to distinguish between women who are admitted to hospital because of a miscarriage and those with an incomplete induced abortion. As a result, incidences of stigmatisation are prevalent since hospital staff assume a negative attitude towards the mother. This does not foster her emotional and mental healing and would often lead to psychological trauma that could scar the mother for life.

The need for preventive measures, such as family planning counseling and reproductive health care, is also very urgent. Post-abortion family planning can help women to avoid repeat unwanted pregnancies and additional unsafe abortions.

Another problem is that pre-abortion patients are sometimes given inadequate information about the procedure they are about to undergo. This again ties in with the arguement for training and counselling of staff in hospitals to ensure the physical, psychological and emotional welfare of the patient is taken into consideration during the entire duration of the procedure. And this should also be done post-abortion. Hence the focus is on treating women as both hospital patients and as people who deserve the emotional support and assistance of hospital staff.

So .... in a nutshell ... abortion should remain illegal BUT the Government must go one step further and ensure that healthcare facilities in hospitals are up to date and equiped to care for mothers who medically require an abortion. The legal repercussions of illegally procured abortions need to be revised to convey the no-nonsense stance the Government should have towards such procedures.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Force against Force equals More Force (Ashanti proverb)

There is nothing more annoying, more frustrating and more gut wrenching than interacting with someone who has a racist mindset. The most interesting thing is that they don't even realise they are 'racist' - because this disposition exists in their own minds on a sub-conscious level. Such a person, if confronted about a racist slur, ignorant remark, insensitive joke, mindless comment or ignorant viewpoint, would deny to the high heavens that they are racist.

Funny ...

People don't realise that racism or racial discrimination exists not only in a physical form (actions and attacks) but is a reflection of fear and insecurity on the part of the racist individual. A fear of the unknown, a lack of a sense of belonging that manifests itself in psychological transference. Therefore one who makes a racist comment towards another is in actual fact showing that they feel intimidated and thus have to resort to less tangible or significant sources of dominion.

I have learnt to ignore such individuals. I would imagine one would be tempted to hit back with an equally stinging remark. Wrong move. After all, to dignify such remarks with a response only makes it more difficult to distinguish between the two (they do say it is wise not to argue with a fool for no one will be able to tell the difference!).

As hard as it may seem, the best response is none at all. In this silence, the point is bound to hit home.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Religious Fanatics

If there is something that really ticks me off, it is people who take it upon themselves to judge others on their religious standing. I mean, if that is not hypocritical, then what is?

It is clearly stated in the Bible that as Christians, we should not judge one another for we are all sinners and the passing of judgement is reserved for the Lord alone.

So where the hell (forgive me - its just for emphasis) do these people get off telling others how they should live their lives as Christians and what they are doing wrong that they should not be doing???

I have no problem with those of our brethren who are confident in their faith and would wish to share that joy of their own spiritual fulfillment. However - every care and sensitivity should be employed in not crossing to the extreme of criticising others if they do not 'measure up' to one's individual spirituality and sense of oneness with God.

Stuart Wilde once said that 'pride that you express to others is ego; pride that you express silently to yourself is real pride'

Personally, I don't need some stranger telling me how i should communicate with God. After all, spirituality is a personal relationship and I know where I stand between myself and my Lord. And that's that!

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Cesaria Evora at University of Warwick Arts Centre

Truly this lady is amazing. Her stage presence is overwhelming, her deeply emotional alto voice is so riveting, one gets lost in the music (although I don't understand a word of Portuguese!).

Cesaria Evora was born in 1941 in the port town of Mindelo on the Cape Verde island of Sao Vicente and is known as the barefoot diva because of her propensity to appear on stage in her bare feet in support of the disadvantaged women and children of her country.

Cesaria has long been known as the queen of the morna, a soulful genre sung in Creole-Portuguese which is strongly associated with the islands and combines West African percussion with Portuguese fados, Brazilian modhinas, and British sea shanties. She mixes her sentimental folk tunes filled with longing and sadness with the acoustic sounds of guitar, cavaquinho, violin, accordian, and clarinet. Evora's Cape Verdean blues often speak of the country's long and bitter history of isolation and slave trade, as well as emigration: almost two-thirds of the million Cape Verdeans alive live abroad.

The string of soulful song which connects the fado of Portugal to the choro of Brazil also extends to the morna and other musical forms of the former Portuguese colonial islands of Cape Verde, off the northwest coast of Africa.

Now a whiskey-drinking, cigarette-puffing grandmother, Cesaria Evora has succeeded in exporting her tiny nation's sounds to Europe and the U.S, in recordings and live performances. You won't guess her habits or her age from her voice, soft and engaging as a large cloud in a sunny sky. And you'd be only slightly more successful in guessing the source of musical influences on these recordings, aside from the Portuguese.

Fado seems present in the opening track, "Petit Pays", where French touches the title and a portion of the lyrics, which are mostly in the Portuguese patois of Evora's native island of Sao Vincente. Likewise, you might think of the mainland legend Amalia Rodrigues when you listen to "Rotcha 'Scribida", though Evora's conveyance of longing is more accessible and credible, possibly because it doesn't use the throaty power of a Rodrigues. This and several of the songs were written by Amandio Cabral, now a resident of the Bay Area and much admired in jazz circles.

Others of the songs seem to take you across the Atlantic to Brazil. In its minor-major modulations and upbeat tempo, "Xandinha" is evocative of forro, while the tearful sentiment and hovering sustained notes of "Tudo Tem Se Limite" are closer to the ballads of choro. The airy, playful instrumental combo of reed, violin, and guitar backing the singer's "D'nhirim Reforma" would find itself at home beside Brazilian barroom pagode. These similarities, though, are more likely due to coincidence of parallel evolution than to intentional mimickry. And there are so many nice surprises that you'll find yourself listening repeatedly to find new treasures such as the ticklish rolling piano on "Oriundina", the decorative guitar work suggestive of country-and-western virtuosos on "Tudo Dia E Dia", or the humming and children's chorus on "Flor Na Paul", a French-sounding waltz from a grandmother's memory, complete with accordion.

As you become familiar with the songs, you'll begin to recognize the integrity of the Cape Verdean pastiche and probably fall in love with it. The predominance of strings, particularly guitar and cavaquinho, are reminders of the Portuguese connection, but the lacey rhythms underneath seem born of the shifting air and light of the islands. Don't overlook the translations of the enchanting lyrics, filled with nostalgia and unforgettable images such as "walking alone/with the breaking sea/crying at our separate fates".

"Morna is like the blues because it is a way to express life's suffering in music."
Evora's voice, a finely-tuned, melancholy instrument with a touch of hoarseness, highlights her emotional phrasing by accenting a word or phrase. Even audiences who do not understand her language are held spell-bound by the emotions evident in her performances.

Now 63, and a grandmother (though never married), Evora is gladdened by her current worldwide popularity,

"... in all those years when I sang in bars and in front of strangers I sometimes had an idea I might someday be successful outside my country. The thought never stayed with me for very long, but here I am."

Cesaria agreed to become a WFP Ambassador against Hunger after learning about the Agency's free school meals for over 100,000 children in Cape Verde.

"I saw with my own eyes how food attracted children to school," said Cesária. "We need to educate our children if we want our continent to prosper, but they can't learn if they go to school hungry."

Well said.

Cesaria is a woman who seems to derive much joy in going against the norm (she smoked on stage during her performance in Warwick University's Arts Centre that has a strict no-smoking policy). Check out her official website above for more info on this amazing lady.