Thursday, March 27, 2014

That's What Friends Are For

I pride myself on the fact that I share very special relationships with my students that go far beyond textbooks and Grammar. 

When Yahya Zwita, from Libya, opened his heart and told me that his friend, Mohamed (aged 20) committed suicide at the beginning of the month, I knew that I had to be there for this young gentleman. Far from home for the first time in a foreign country with family and friends far away, I instinctively took on the role of his big sister.

During one of our conversations, he told me that he wanted to give a presentation / tribute about his friend. I immediately agreed and said I would help him in any way I could.

For his tribute today, Yahya spoke to a group of about 25 students - all his peers. Voluntarily, he put himself in the spotlight...and spoke. I have always maintained that "Words that come from the heart, enter the heart." This was exactly what happened this afternoon.

I teared as he spoke so fondly about his friend. An hour later, as I drove home, I stopped at the beach and looked out at the vast ocean before me. My thoughts traveled to Lydia Labuschagne, who is at this moment, fighting for her life at a hospital in Jerusalem.

It's not the kind of message anyone expects, but when I learned about Lydia's sudden admission to hospital, I have been in constant contact with friends around the world about this. I first met Lydia when her family moved to East London and Lydia joined my class in Std 1. We were 9 years old.

On my way to work this morning, I had a devotional song playing in my car. I surprised myself when, as I neared work, tears trickled down my cheeks. The song took me back to Johannesburg, a month ago when I was at the final prayer for my uncle, who suddenly passed away.

It always intrigues me why people cry after hearing about death. Is it because one is sad that the person will no longer be around? Will the physical body of the late person be missed or what they stood for and the role they play in others' lives. Do we cry over guilt or regret of not saying certain things to the person who has left us? Is it a matter of "If only..." or "I wish..."?

Death always brings us to a standstill. With our extremely busy lives, we spin around from dawn to dusk, not stopping to acknowledge. To appreciate. To say "thank you".

Blessings can be found in the darkest situations - even amidst news of death. With our friend, Lydia lying in hospital now, I have been talking to school friends after many months. The best part about it is that it feels as though no time has passed. This is the beauty of friendship.

This blog is dedicated not only to Yahya and his friend, Mohamed, but to my school friend, Lydia, who is so dearly loved by one and all who knew her. To say she is a ray of sunshine to many is not an understatement. Together, we hold faith that our prayers will be heard and that Lydia will soon return to her family.

Yahya's tribute ended with this song:

Unleashing a creative spark!

I have a few stories to share about my various "light bulb" moments with students. This usually happens when a certain grammar point is finally grasped or if a certain skill has improved because of advice given by me. 

I recently tried something different. Two of my students, Yank Lai (Taiwan) and Mohamed Abogila (Libya) have been joining me twice a week from 08:00 to write. I, too, have been joining in the writing process. The challenge to get as much out in 20 minutes is something of an adrenaline rush.

There is just one rule: No idea or structure is wrong. Apart from checking obvious grammatical structures, I have emphasized the power of words and the effect it can have on a story.

This morning, Yank and Mohamed blew me away! I simply couldn't believe the caliber of work that was produced in limited time! I am known to gush about my students - especially when they produce something amazing. I have taken their writing success quite personally as it reminds me of MY English teacher in high school who unleashed the creative spark in me! 

Dearest Mrs Felton. AKA - The Legend.

Knowingly or not, she is the one person responsible for making me believe that anything...anything is possible! The sky is not even the limit.

After reading Yank and Mohamed's pieces this morning, I felt compelled to get in touch with "Mrs F" and tell her that over a decade later, she continues to have an effect on my life. I dedicate this to her. I have such deep love and gratitude to you, Mrs Felton!

Please read below for Yank and Mohamed's writing.

Prompt: Write about yourself as a 10-year old child
Looking Back
by Yank Lai (Taiwan)
Level: Upper Intermediate
I am 10 years old. I am enjoying extreme happiness in my life. At least, I have been thinking…
Not only can you often see your parents and close friends. Also, you don’t have any stress at this moment. You can do many things. You can be a dreamer and do everything you can imagine: You can cheat girls, stealthily kiss her and confidently escape. You can fight with your best friends and after half an hour you are playing together again. There are no rules in paradise.
Wait! Don’t forget – you have a charitable grandmother who always gives you what you can imagine. My parents are shouting at me, but I can hide behind my private protector and peek with a smile at my parents.
I would really not like to grow up. I want to try to grasp everything and hope it won’t change.

Prompt: Describe how you would like your life to be in ten years time
My Light
by Mohamed Algantri
Level: Intermediate
Actually, I have many plans in my mind.
Firstly, I would like to be a famous pilot I want to be intelligent, optimistic and self-confident. I will be ecstatic when I have made all my dreams come true. So, I want to work in a massive company and I would like to earn a lot of money in my job. I want to travel all over the world. I want to be like a falcon. I want to fly. I want to feel free. then, I would like to be someone who is hard-working, because my family told me that they want to see me as a famous pilot – lively and reliable.
When I hear something like that, I feel strong. I will fight to get my dream.
After that, I will get married to my princess. We will live in a castle and have two children. I want to live my life as a warm person. I want to be happy. Also, I would like to be a teenager. I will think just about love – play – dream! I want to be an amazing man and a wonderful father for my family. I want to be like fire for my wife and I want her to be like water. 
I love life. I don’t want to think or feel angry. I would like to delete this adjective in my life. I want to say goodbye to my sadness and tears.
I want to die after I would be a father and I want to see my family. Then, I can die after when I was a pilot, with my children, wife and parents.
I will be ambitious all in my life and I will love and think under the earth when I die, so my life, my blood for you…forever.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

This is taken from one of my Secret Scrolls emails about gratitude:

Begin your day by feeling grateful. Be grateful for the bed you just slept in, the roof over your head, the carpet or floor under your feet, the running water, the soap, your shower, your toothbrush, your clothes, your shoes, the refrigerator that keeps your food cold, the car that you drive, your job, your friends. Be grateful for the stores that make it so easy to buy the things you need, the restaurants, the utilities, services, and electrical appliances that make your life effortless. Be grateful for the magazines and the books that you read. Be grateful for the chair that you sit on, and the pavement that you walk on. Be grateful for the weather, the sun, the sky, the birds, the trees, the grass, the rain, and the flowers.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!

The Riches Within (Demartini) Chapter 1: Genius - Your Mental Treasures

  • What is your destiny?
  • I am a genius, and I apply my wisdom.
  • If you can conceive of a question, you can create an answer.
  • Look for those things with genius in them if you'd love to inspire the genius in you.
  • Don't read good books. Read the great ones:
    Realize that inspiration breeds creativity and awakens genius.
  • Stare into space:
    To gaze out at the far reaches of the cosmos gives you a sense of limitlessness and provides you with the open dimensions of space and time to contemplate unbounded planes of thought.
  • Take a walk in the park, field or forest:
    Stop and listen whatever the whispering wind guides you to stand. Ask for natures message in the moment, and listen with your heart.
  • If you can spot it, you've got it!
  • Sometimes we think that other people have a better deal than us, but the reality is that we have the potential for just as great a deal as anyone else! Discover what mental power is inside of you!
  • Anytime I run across people I think possess great minds, I read their biographies and identify where we're similar
  • You know, the world treats you the way you treat yourself. If you value yourself, the world values you. Until you value yourself, no one else will. Likewise, if you don't give yourself permission to do something great, why would the world assist you? You must allow yourself to be great and do something extraordinary.
  • Aligning your intention with ACTION: Using the power of your mind to shape and consciously create your reality. 

Good reviews

"Why is it that we only seem to believe the negative things people say about us? No matter how much evidence there is to the contrary - a neighbour, a face, an ex-boyfriend can cancel out everything we thought was once true.  Odd, but when it comes to life and love, why do we believe our worst reviewers?" - Carrie Bradshaw: Sex & the City S05E06 "Critical Condition"
It only takes one good review to cancel out all the good world of mouth.

The truth is: At any given moment, someone, somewhere could be making a face about you, but it's the reviews you give yourself that matter.

The Riches Within (Demartini) Introduction

  • Why contemplate something more than your existence right now?
  • If you don't plant flowers in the garden of the mind, then you'll forever be pulling weeds.
  • One of the greatest impediments to personal evolution is an exaggerated, lopsided expectation - one that reflects neither the magnificent order of the universe nor the
    brilliance of every individual in it.
  • Big visions are those dreams that are doable and aligned with your values. Fantasies are not achievable and don't align with your values.
  • Doing what you love and loving what you do are the most powerful ways to build wealth.
  • Questioning teaches you to look, and suddenly brings you to timelessness and love. If you don't take the time to look, you simply react; and everything you continue to perceive as one sided adds another layer of debris, dampening your brilliance, further burying your seven secret treasures.
  • Take no credit; take no blame! Just keep focused on the game! Focus on the mission and chief aim!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Unleash Your Greatness (Robin Sharma)

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man. -George Bernard Shaw

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Life Lessons

The prayer for our uncle in Johannesburg today was so peaceful. Sitting there for over 3 hours allowed me to reflect on so much...
Life & its purpose
Love & its intracasies
At the end of life, what matters most is how you lived it & the relationships you maintained. Being amongst family was wonderful & uplifting. Feel like I've come back with many blessings. ♥