Zimbabwe: The Audacity of Hope.

When I created this blog it was a reformation from my previous blog which I had originally created as a hobby blog but unfortunately over time I corrupted it with political debate and opinion, and although politics is not who I am and what I created it for, the blog itself gained over a thousand followers so essentially a blog which did extremely well in terms of followers and popularity. It however came to a point one day where I became uncomfortable with who I was becoming, my political opinion was becoming one sided (my side) and I was becoming highly self opinionated, a trait that I do not like much in other people, so all in all I was letting myself down; and so when I stepped down and closed that blog I vowed to step away from politics for good as it is not who I am. However, the accounts in the following week in Zimbabwe and yesterday have been extraordinary and provided a basis of hope. And so it is these accounts in which this piece is attributed to and, in a way dedicated to not only my fellow countrymen and women but also to the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, and to the soldiers of the Zimbabwe National Army who made this fresh start possible for all Zimbabweans, regardless of creed, race, religion – whatever our station in life, wherever we are. This is a fresh start for Zimbabwe and Zimbabweans worldwide.

When I thought about this this morning, fighting back tears of relief I thought of one of my favourite reads by one of my most favourite people in the world, Barrack Obama and his book, The Audacity of Hope:

 

“Hope – Hope in the face of difficulty. Hope in the face of uncertainty. The audacity of hope”. Barrack Obama

When I think about that quote I not only think about my personal circumstances and for how long I have been down and without, or low on hope but I am now also spurred to think about how Zimbabweans have kept going and how yesterday Zimbabweans took to the streets in their thousands to demand Robert Mugabe’s resignation from 37 year rule. All of this made possible by a very special group of people who stood on the side lines and remained patient. A group who quite honestly could have been an enemy of the people. However, their actions have proven me wrong this past week they have been strongly allied to the people of Zimbabwe and in the quest for freedom and independence eventually stood their ground and practiced their oath of allegiance to Zimbabwe, to the people of Zimbabwe and rightfully stood for what they are meant to stand for. Peace, equality, justice, unity. They have stood for the motto of Zimbabwe: “Unity, Freedom, Work”. Through the actions of General Chiwenga and his subordinates all that was not possible to be attained has finally been attained. A huge debt of gratitude should be given to the Zimbabwe National Army should granted for they have made the impossible possible. What I deemed impossible, possible. For what I deemed a recipe for civil war done in peace with a professionalism that I didn’t think existed. Today marks a day where my analysis has been wrong, for once in my life a situation has proven me wrong on every level and this I am extremely happy about.  The same oath of allegiance I swore in June 1998 was adhered to by the soldiers and officers of the Zimbabwe National Army and I could not be more proud and grateful. But my pride does not stop there. Well done to the people back home for sticking to it, well done for remaining hopeful and peaceful. Well done to all of those who have attended the Zimvigil outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London since October 2002 – you have all made this possible. Also to those who have carried on the fight despite all against them, risking their lives, those such as Acie Lumumba of Viva Zimbabwe, Evan Mawarire and Patson Dzamara. You are heroes, never forget that. Through adversity you led all Zimbabweans to this point. My thanks and deepest respect also go to those who fell in this quest for freedom, those such as Itai Dzamara who single handedly started the movement for freedom. We will never forget!

A big salute to the people of Zimbabwe, and a big salute to the ZDF  “2, 3 up – 2, 3 down” – thank you Sirs. You have made history, you have brought Zimbabwe together in one big, peaceful, final stand.

 

 

 

 

Kis For Your Dog

*MWAH* – who doesn’t fancy a good ol’ snog, though I have not had one in a very long time and do not see me doing so anytime in the foreseeable future due to decisions I have made, but even though romance is a big thing this post is not what that is about – so I have deliberately missed out the double “s” due to a concept I have come up with on basic training of your furry companion. K I S for your dog, “keep it simple”…in that I refer to training your best K9 companion, but not the more complicated ideal such as protection training…the simple little things like stop, heel, sit, stay, lie down, kennel and the ever important “come here” and no. Obedience training is inherently important. Like teaching your kid…unless you are unfortunately one of those kind of parents who believes in letting your child get away with blue murder??? Not literally.

Although the above photo is of an MWD (military working dog) and is either about to commence or has just completed his/her “Hot Sauce” (basically attack training for the unaware civi) training but that is for the more advanced training and for the dog owner/handler who wants to put their dog through protection training. Which, in this day in age is important, especially for a wife who is at home with kids and with the amount of…well, (how to keep this as entirely politically correct as possible without upsetting the insanely political correct?) crazies out there…how politically correct is that not? Anyway, protection training for your dog IS important and it should be considered by any husband who is at work or away from home a lot and his wife and kids are on their own, or even for a woman who is single. Take it under consideration. I know if I wanted to go down that route I would. Short of that buy your wife (or yourself if you’re a woman on your own) a small handgun and buy her (yourself) skill at arms training (provided you live in a country that allows you to own a personal firearm and have a carry concealed permit). Damn, I have gone off on a tangent on protection training…right, back on track…

Anyway, I am avoiding the more advanced training and sticking to the basic dog training. I do not consider myself a qualified dog handler or trainer but I have enough experience with dogs to know what I am doing when  it comes to basic dog training and this is important for anyone wanting to invest in their K9 buddy because that K9 buddy will turn out to be more loyal than most humans are.

In Zimbabwe my mother had a black Labrador puppy, an adorable chap known as Nero and because I had experience from teaching myself my own very basic methods to my own dogs in the past (a Great Dane and a German Shepherd cross…I have NO idea) she asked me to train him. Knowing that training also breeds loyalty I advised her that she train him with me so there was no confusion for him as to who he belonged to but she refused and because I had already fallen in love with Nero I took to training him knowing how it would turn out, it was inevitable and so I went around teaching him the basics…simply and sure enough, he became mine…and so, here I was. I had a dog called Nero, a cat that I got when I was nine years old that I named Bagheera, after the black panther in Jungle Book and a horse which I inherited called Beauty (a dark bay named by his previous owner and mentioned in this piece).

What I have noticed is the amount of people who invest in their trusty, adorable K9 buddy…that investment is however monetary but not time and then they have a hard time controlling their dog in later years when it is grown up. Sure, as it grows up it is super friendly, which kinda goes along with the territory but with that friendliness comes everything that it should not be doing which is jumping, not coming to you on command, humping every other dog it comes across, whether male or bitch. This though is not the dogs fault, it is the owners for not taking time to give their buddy time and I don’t say buddy lightly…I say it earnestly because that guy/gal will be one of the family and so deserves that time. As time will go on with training the dog will become even more loyal and adoring because they love that quality time. And for a lesson in that all you need to do is look at wolves with their pups in or outside a den, or any bitch or dog with their pups to see how that works. Training is good for the dogs future and your companionship…and of course passers by or other people with dogs. There is nothing worse than walking through a field with your best K9 companion when there is someone coming in the opposite direction with their dog which is out of control and starts jumping all over you and your dog and does not listen to their owner.

My Message to Dog Walkers.

This applies to dog walkers too though and in some aspects is a lot more important, especially for your safety and the dogs. If you cannot get a handle on your charge which you are entirely responsible for the moment you pick he/she up from your client then you either need training yourself or should pick another line of work, once it is another life it ceases to become more than your wallet or bank account – have confidence in your abilities and knowledge in your inabilities too, if that sounds unkind I am sorry but you are being entirely trusted with that dog which is a member of your client (s) family and so you should create a rapport with not only the dog but also with the family. And with that rapport you should find out what they do and don’t do with the dog so as to not upset the apple cart and confuse the living day light out of the dog and so you should identify which areas (if any) the dog needs training in and what really helps is having a charge which is already extremely obedient and easy to get along with but as a dog walker and being responsible for someone else family member it is inherently important that you know what you are doing. Also, the dog will pick up on your lack of confidence and knowledge and play on it. So you really do need to know what you are doing from the offset. So please, identify with your responsibilities there.

Training.

So at the end of the day vet bills, pet insurance, food and love are great investments but the greatest is time so if you don’t know what you are doing take a little time to look in book shops or on Amazon for dog training books, watch videos on YouTube, try and develop your own methods but which are kind and thoughtful for the dog. DO NOT use fear tactics to make the dog obedient. Take some time to train your dog, take some time to learn how to train your dog, watch your dog and learn from it. If you train your dog the companionship will be even greater.

Take time to KIS for your dog because at the end of it you will get a big kiss from them and you will be the greatest thing on its heart.

Interview Etiquette and Being Fired Before You’re Hired!

This has everything to do with the above image and the title and people who know me will tell you that I like to go through things the long way round. If I am asked a question I will answer with a prolonged response, I don’t like to keep things “short & sweet”. Perhaps this is because I already have a brief police background. No matter the reason or psychology of why, that is just a part of who I am as an individual but I can assure you that I even find it annoying when I think back.

So, why fired? The best way to consider an unsuccessful interview if you have not bothered to view simple interview etiquette is being fired before you are hired. The majority of us, when we go for a professional meeting or for a job interview, and the interview for the job of our dreams already know the simple etiquette – not only the background of the job we have applied for, but also the company we are applying to, it all helps. Turning up prior to the meeting, or interview – so being of a punctual disposition always helps. But not only this, well groomed. Well styled hair, cleaned and ironed shirts/blouses with all the right creases in the right places, polished shoes, brushed teeth, shaven and smelling right and not only that, but…well presented. by presented I mean not slouched, sitting up straight, maintaining eye contact, smiling and speaking clearly and concisely and being able to answer all questions and asking questions when asked if you have any.

I have office and people management experience and so am all too well aware what us “managers” look for whilst interviewing and while these are things we look for we will never say. You will never find us going “sorry, your shirt is unclean and un-ironed and boots unpolished” but believe you me, we take note of these details, but why? Why should it affect how you do the job that YOU are applying for? Well, it is these things that prove to us that not only do you care about your presentation but it shows us that you pay attention to detail and detail is everything. Personal grooming shows us what you will be like in your professional life and professionalism in the workplace is everything. It helps you create a rapport and work with your fellow employees and workplace staff better and if you deal with the public, on a one-to-one nature or telephonically this shines through how you present yourself. Personal grooming is everything when it comes to interviews, not only for the interviewee but also for the interviewer. A trained and well adapted, experienced manager or human resources member of staff will always view these things. It takes a few seconds to view what may be right or wrong in your appearance and grooming standards. If you are like me and you look someone in the eye when you go to shake their hand you will notice a quick twitch of their eye? Well, that is them checking your standards out, it is technique, as well as utter confidence in their ability.

A few weeks ago I saw a person I know where I live who is a qualified chartered accountant but has a few problems in as much that unfortunately and very sadly lives with a severe case of bipolar but always tries very hard to view things on the brighter side of life, so much so that he refuses to accept that he has a problem. And anyway, he was going for an interview at a small firm but his shirt was horribly un-ironed, shoes unpolished and he was slouched. I can tell you now, that as a manager if I did not know him that I would not have given him a position and when I advised him of the way he was presenting himself he told me it would not matter. The buzzer from x-factor sounds in my head, of course it matters, everything about etiquette and self presentation in an interview matters. If you do not view these simple rules you should not be surprised when you get rejected. Rejection is not nice, at all, in anything but one cannot afford to be surprised when the interview has been unsuccessful as it does play a part.

I guess this piece is not only for the types of people like the guy I know where I live but also for kids who have just finished school or college and are going for their first interview. I realise that the day of the tie is coming to an end, a well presented and pressed suit and well ironed shirt and polished shoes go a long way, personally I always don a suit and tie, for whatever engagement I turn up to, no matter my station in life – if it is important, it requires you to turn up well presented. Presentation is important and whether you believe it or not, or think you know better and do not think it will affect your interview – I am sorry, you don’t, you are wrong. Presentation is everything and is a factor behind being successful or being unsuccessful in a job interview.

So, please – remember that this is everything in a job interview – it requires you looking your best, attention to detail is of prime importance. Do not kill your chances by not giving or deserving yourself 100%. If you cannot iron, ask someone you know to help you, if you do not own an iron someone who you know will own one, if you cannot polish your shoes, ask someone who knows how to to do it for you. There is never an excuse to be poorly presented, no matter your station in life. It will also help you feel much better inside about yourself, at the very least. Are you not worth that?

You deserve to give yourself 100% satisfaction.

Self Worth, Self Belief. We are not limited but we are limitless.

Many of us cast doubt into ourselves on whether we can do something, or not. Whether this is something that stems from our past or childhood is not what matters. What matters is that we become mindful and aware that we can do anything we put our minds and our hearts to. For we are all limitless, we are a product of something infinite and so the only boundaries that are in place are the boundaries that were set before us at some stage. Break through those boundaries, fear not the unknown for it may very well be the unknown that carries you to untold successes.

We are not limited, we are limitless.

Physical Conditioning: a Key to Happiness and Motivation.

This evening on walking to where I am currently staying my mind was seriously active and was thinking about everything, literally everything was flashing through my mind – past, present and future. One of the problems I have always had, and I believe it must be a problem we all have is I have a proclivity of focusing too much on the past and the future…but seldom the present, the present I do think of is thinking how miserable I am feeling, a negative feeling bound to breed negativity as I went from being a bit more jovial than I have recently to thinking of happier times and wanting them back which made me miserable rather than happy, I mean…seriously. Aren’t happy memories supposed to be there to make us happy when we think of them?

I was thinking on what is going on within myself now and my physical fitness from the past. The fittest I have ever been, for purpose has been in my adult life in my twenties (the fittest I was as a kid was on the farm in Zimbabwe, but then I had no goals or purpose, I was a kid). If you have been following my blog for a while you will have seen in this post that I had been in the process of joining the British Army as a commonwealth applicant. This was in 2006, a year after I had come to the UK and after I attended my army presentation at ACIO (Army Careers Information Office) in Aldershot I put myself through an intensive PT programme – using training techniques I learnt from my father in my youth who had been a member of the elite Fire Force of One Commando, the Rhodesian Light Infantry. I conditioned myself and focused. It was the fittest I have ever been in my adult life as I had a goal and that was to join the most senior English line regiment, the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment, 2nd Battalion (2PWRR) I reached my peak fitness of being able to run 1.5 miles in seven minutes without breaking a sweat and the time limit being way below the allowed maximum for infantry selection. I disciplined and conditioned myself. I worked on my martial arts (taekwondo & judo), and worked on my upper and lower body – not only did I focus on my physical attributes but also educational and studied religiously for my BARB test (British Army Recruitment Battery) which is what shows you where you are best suited. I did the practice test so many times and studied so much that I opened everything up (in theory) from infantry to trade regiments and corps to Intelligence Corps, to Royal Military Police, although I was focused on the infantry. I was focused and while I was so focused and conditioned, as well as determined to reach my goal my emotional status was also at its peak, I was never stunted and always had something to work towards. Anyone who has spent any time with me continuously since 2006 will tell you I was focused, self-disciplined and motivated. To cut a long story short the Army ended up not happening for me due to circumstances beyond my control, I however didn’t stop trying for years. There have even been times where I have decided to try elsewhere and as I speak a little French maybe try the Légion Étrangère (French Foreign Legion), but sadly again bureaucracy getting in my way as the requirements have changed somewhat and they are now a professional army, unlike in decades gone by. But my years of being a soldier have passed me by, now.

In 2014 however I found a better me and that version of myself that I discovered grew and grew, helped along by an awesome part of my life who saw the best in me, it was a version that has obviously always  existed as I had discovered how to get out of my own way. Somehow. I then returned to my fitness and became the most toned I have ever been in my adult life. Whilst I was training for the Army in 2006 I do not recall having become as toned as I did. But anyway, that all does sound vain, I must admit but what I am meaning was its fitness that helped unlock all that, both times. Actually, what helped 2014 and make me reevaluate life was a breakdown Christmas time 2013. But then I worked towards a better me and was helped along. Now I kind of feel I am slipping backwards, in a bad way, though some of it is self-imposed for what I feel is self preservation, but in an unhealthy way. Maybe time to apply some breaks and find that other version of myself but make it a better version.

And so earlier this evening I am walking along thinking about EVERYTHING, almost like…you know how you hear of people who have had near death experiences and their whole life has flashed before them? Almost like that but things from over the last few years, including me training to join the Army. And I realised something about all of us, myself included. I have been getting in my own way. A while ago I purchased a book by American singer, song writer, author, actor and motivational speaker, Tyrese Gibson entitled How to Get Out Of Your Own Way. And though I haven’t read the book yet, asides from reading the incredible introduction have realised something – that is the problem, I have been getting in my own way and whilst it is easy to let life do this to us maybe that is the key, we all, at some point or another get in the way of our own progress.

But, physical conditioning being a key to motivation due to the endorphins that are released into the brain at any given time we are doing any personal training and endorphins not only reducing our perception of pain but also trigger positive feelings in the body – I have never taken drugs but I imagine it is the same thing, once you exercise more the better the feeling and the more endorphins are released the more PT you crave making it a habit. To me that is the healthiest drug out there.

Are you struggling at the moment too? Do you feel that certain things are setting you back? Is there a version of yourself that you liked and would like back but an even better version? A better version for ourselves, our friends, our family, our loved ones. A better version for the future.

I will leave this in your hands to find what will work for you.  If you know of someone who is struggling, or if you are and have found this post to help you and feel that it might somehow help someone else. Please send it on.

Cheers,

G