February 2018 Reading List

People!!!! I am really sorry I know I had promised to update more this year but this month has just been so short you know.

Any way, I have had like three posts pending but before I post them I am going to post my monthly reading list.

Like I said this month has been so short and I honestly didn’t think I’d read that many books but I think I managed just fine.

I loved the books that I read this month because as much as they were different, they had one thing in common, they got to me. And when I say they got to me I mean that they managed to fuck with my emotions.

When a book manages to hook me in and leave me feeling some type of way then in my opinion it is a good book.

N. Y. P. D Red by Robert Patterson and Marshall Karp

This is the second book written by James Patterson that I have read and I just can’t help but wonder, do all of his books involve mentally unstable murderers? Not that I am complaining, Along came the Spider was a deeply engrossing book and so was N. Y. P. D Red 2.

I loved the suspense and also speculating about who the murderer could be although in the latter book he or rather they were very evident from the start.

This book definitely left me conflicted because these guys were only killing criminals or so they thought and at some point I actually rooted for them until they were not and almost killed an innocent woman then I realized two wrongs really don’t make a right.

You might think you are righting a wrong by doing something equally wrong but you become the same as the wrong doer. I really hope that makes sense.

We’re Going To Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union

This one literally made me want to grab a glass of wine, a comforter and sit at a cozy corner somewhere and just immerse myself.

Maybe I am being biased because let’s face it Gabrielle Union is an icon to most, me being one of them and reading about how her life was and has been was just something.

I saw a woman who like most women has been through a lot in her life and has had to live with insecurities and doubts about herself.

From living in a time where skin color was an issue for most to going through the hardships that come with losing a baby and lest I forget, dealing with a cheating husband who she not only loved but also supported.

These are things that most women face and I imagine this book must have given hope to someone who has gone through the same. Hope in that they knew they were not alone and that at some point it gets better.

Go Ask Alice

I felt really shitty after reading this one because it was so sad and yet so true. The book is actually based off of a diary of a fifteen year old drug addict.

It is a clear depiction of what goes through a teenagers head, the things that lead them to taking drugs, the way their lives are affected and the aftermath.

Alice goes through a lot of shit because of turning to drugs as an escape and also as a way to fit in.

At first she is not able to come to her parents; a thing that most teenagers seem to be incapable of for one reason or the other.

The aftermath though is what really got to me. She had started getting her life in order towards the end of the book and bum! She is found dead and it is not known whether it was because of an intentional overdose or if it was accidental. Whatever the reason though, this book just goes to show the fate that many young drug addicts face.

I would really recommend this one to all the parents or guardians struggling to understand their teenage children. It really brings a lot to perspective.

Storm & Silence by Robert Thier

Robert Thier is the name that he goes by on wattpad and he is the author of this amazing series of books that I have come to fall in love with.

Wattpad has a lot of amazing author’s and this guy is on top of the list. His books are extremely long but oh so engrossing and because it is set in what I believe to have been the past like women-couldn’t-wear-trousers past, it is abit modest but then again when it is not it is not.

Lord Rikkard Ambrose and Miss Lilly Linton’s relationship is so refreshing and oh so funny. I laughed so much while reading and even cried at the Titanic-like scene. Although their relationship is dragged out all through the four books, the latter being where he finally confesses his love, there is never a dull moment.

Nairobi Days by Shelina Shariff-Zia

It starts off with talk about the Westgate Saga. If you are a Kenyan then you know very well how trying a time that was for all of us.

I got to experience not only what growing up in Kenya in the past was like but also experience life from a different perspective in terms of culture and religion from the book.

While in the States the author tells her sister in law stories from her young age while she lived in Kenya. At first the stories are meant to distract them both from the fear that her brother might have been in the the mall during the attack but as she continues, she gets more engrossed.

We see what it was really like for a young girl growing up in the 60’s in Kenya. This was the time when Kenya was just beginning to develop, it was just immediately after getting independence.

I am actually supposed to write a review for this and thus won’t dwell on it as much as I would have loved to.

This right here is my February reading list. I really did try to have it up on time😅 You can refer to my previous post for Last month’s reading list.

Until next time😘

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January 2018 Reading List

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I know, I know. This post should have been up about two weeks ago but life happened and I let it.

It’s actually a pity because it’s the first post of my monthly reading list segment and also because I really enjoyed writing it.

I had set a goal; to read a book each week of the month and I achieved it. I was on my book-a-week groove this month and it gave me a sense of accomplishment to achieve what I had set out to do.

This is one of those small achievements that shouldn’t really make that much of difference or impact but they do.

I managed to lock in five books, four of which I absolutely loved and would recommend for different reasons.

Two of these were motivational books, one a tragic romance and the other two were historical fiction. Here is my January 2018 reading list:

1.Angels And Demons by Dan Brown

Now Dan Brown’s books are known to be controversial and although some of his facts are usually not accurate, I am a big fan of his work.

Angels and demons is part of the Robert Langdon series. Robert is a symbology Professor at Harvard. In the books he finds himself solving murder cases where his knowledge in symbology is required.

Interestingly, I had watched the movie before I read the book so I knew what to expect. This was about ten years ago and even though I could remember almost every scene, I still enjoyed reading the book very much. I preferred reading the book because as much as my imagination was influenced by the movie, it was still better and also I am a sucker for anything that involves the classical elements; Earth, Water, Wind and Fire.

Robert is called to help in an investigation when a Physicist/Priest is found dead with a missing eyeball and the words Illuminati branded on his chest.

It turns out the deceased had invented high amounts of antimatter which is highly unstable and if it collides with matter it causes annihilation which is usually in form of an explosion as energy is produced.

They have to find the killer (Hassasin) hence finding the antimatter and they only have six hours to do so and oh did I mention that the story is set in one of my favorite cities in the world: The Vatican City!

And of course my favorite line: “You’ve never been to bed with a yoga master, have you?”

You would think that the action, controversy, solving murder mysteries and the suspense gets old but it really doesn’t.

I was young while watching the movie and hadn’t really taken that many Chemistry or Physics lessons so the idea of antimatter wasn’t really that intriguing at the time. It’s probably because I didn’t even understand the concept at the time.

2.The Origin by Dan Brown

I had mixed feelings about this one because it felt like he was trying to fuck with my religious beliefs(excuse my language ) but then again our beliefs are only as strong as our faith. I remember mentioning a thing or two about this in my previous post.

I can’t say I agree with Dan Brown’s line of thought in this or any of his previous books but I will not deny that the book was well written.

I will not even deny that I enjoyed it because I did. It was a lot to take in and I would recommend it if only it were to be read solely as a work of fiction and not as something that would be used to sway ones beliefs or lack thereof.

Robert finds himself in yet another murder mystery only this time he is not trying to prevent an explosion but to accomplish the deceased’s goal of explaining where humanity came from and where we are going or in other words how we continue evolving; where we are going while also disapproving the concept of God.

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3.The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

I enjoyed reading this book. In fact it was one of those books I simply could not put down and had it not been for work or life, I would have finished reading it in a day. After all, who needs sleep any way?

OK, so I might be exaggerating a bit but i really did love how it was able to play with my emotions.

Like seriously one minute I’m on the verge of tears and the next I’m laughing or doing both because Hazel Grace was just so funny but then again the whole cancer situation and loosing the love of her life thing was just sad.

I lost a person that was really important to me and it was at such a young age too.I remember bawling my eyes out at his funeral and I don’t think anyone really ever understood the magnitude of that loss for me.

To this day I feel the impact and maybe it is because of this loss that I felt like the book was somewhat relatable. I want to compare it to tragedies such as William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet but I will let you be the judge of that.

4. The Magic of Thinking Big by  David J. Schwartz

My brother sent me this one sometime last year and I kept off reading it until the beginning of this year.

It felt like the perfect timing because it helped set the pace for the year and even helped me in making my goals and resolutions for the year.

In fact, the very first post of the year was on the lessons I had picked up from this book.

5.The Secret by Rhonda Byrnes

I was so pumped when I got this book and could not wait to read it. I remember looking for it last year because I had seen the cover somewhere and it looked intriguing.

Remember the saying “Never judge a book by its cover”?

I wrote what I thought about the book in my previous post and would probably not recommend it unless you were in desperate need for motivation and was willing to trade off reality and practicability for a dose of “you are solely responsible for everything that happens to you.”

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there are things that happen to us that are beyond out control. How we react to them however is usually up to us.

There you go; My January 2018 reading list. I shall really try to have these posts up on time which will mostly be the last week of each month or the first week of each month.

Until next time😙

The Not-So-Secret Secret.

It wouldn’t be me if I didn’t start off this blog with a quote, now would it? You could say that this was the quote of the week last week because it not only made a lot of sense but also left quite an impression. It was like an answer that I didn’t know I was looking until I found it.

Aristotle

I found myself referring back to it a few times during the week. One time was when I was telling my friend about this book I had been reading; The Origin by Dan Brown. It is a well known fact that almost all of his books are centered on the conflict between religion, science and well secret and not-so-secret societies.

This one was not any different. It is about a young man who sets out to disapprove religion and use science to explain our existence and where we are going. In other words, it basically challenges the concept of God.

When I tried explaining some more of what the book was about to my friend, he stopped me and then without any attempt at being subtle asked if I had become an atheist. It didn’t help that we were in a family restaurant in a highly religious country.

Some people turned to look at me, disdain clearly written on their faces. I wish I had read that quote earlier because that simple sentence right there would have been the explanation to my answer which was (after an awkward laugh) no.

Like every other thing in this world, religion is and should be a choice. ‘I choose to be a Christian’, ‘I choose to believe in God’ or ‘I choose to be a Muslim’ and so on and so forth. I fall in the former category not because I was told to but because I chose to and I am confident and secure enough in my choices to read about other cultures, religions(or lack there of) and beliefs without letting them influence my own.

The second time I found myself referring to that quote was while I was reading The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. I got my hands on this book for a couple of reasons; it came highly recommended (Oprah had the author talk about it in her show a few years back), it has enjoyed immense success and sold millions of copies and also I was curious as to what this secret was.

The Secret

The Secret – Rhonda Byrnes

My expectations for the book were pretty high, I expected it to be nothing short of phenomenal and I think that was the first step to disappointment where the book is concerned. I found it lacked the flow that I was used to finding in most books I read and what’s more, the secret was not really a secret!

“BOB PROCTOR

You’ve probably been sitting there wondering, “What is The Secret?”  I’ll tell you how I’ve come to understand it.  We all work with one infinite power. We all guide ourselves by exactly the same laws.

The natural laws of the universe are so precise that we don’t even have any difficulty building spaceships, we can send people to the moon, and we can time the landing with the precision of a fraction of a second.

Wherever you are—India, Australia, New Zealand, Stockholm, London, Toronto, Montreal, or New York—we’re all working with one power. One Law; It’s attraction! The Secret is the law of attraction!

Everything that’s coming into your life you are attracting into your life. And it’s attracted to you by virtue of the images you’re holding in your mind. It’s what you’re thinking. Whatever is going on in your mind you are attracting to you. “Every thought of yours is a real thing—a force.” Prentice Mulford (1834-1891)”

I had barely finished reading the first chapter and I was already thinking, “Why am I reading this book?”. I realized that as I went further, my thoughts only grew more negative and if I was going to achieve my goal for this year which was being positive about everything, I needed to stop reading, gather my thoughts and start again with an open mind and a positive attitude.

Negativity is like a pool that seems shallow at first and it is so alluring that it appears as the only possible reality but then you get in and it gets deeper and deeper but the process is so subtle that you don’t even notice until it is almost too late.

Thankfully, I came across the quote and realized that I didn’t really have to agree with everything that Rhonda Byrne had written for me to read the book, I didn’t have to like it nor did I have to accept it. I could however pick the positive parts of the book because let’s face it, as much as I thought the book to be nothing but a good marketing scheme, it harbored a good message; positivity.

It is no secret that positive people are far happier and often more successful than negative people. It is also no secret that positivity or negativity towards people, things and circumstances begins with our mindset.

James Allen’s tells us as much in his book, As a Man Thinketh and I believe that that same message is what Rhonda Byrne was trying to sell or at least, that is what I got.

Being positive is such a vital attribute to taking on the world but it can also be hard to master at times especially if you feel like things are really not working out. Negativity however, is easier to master. It seems to be an automatic reflex and an automatic reaction to most ‘bad’ things that happen to us, to some it almost comes naturally.

“Nothing can come into your experience unless you summon it through persistent thoughts.” The Secret

I however do not agree that all of the negative things that happen to us are as result of our negative thoughts because I do not think that an accident, rape or a war victim attracted that. (One of the things I disagreed with The Secret on.)

I do believe however our reactions to the bad things that happen to us are entirely up to us. We have been gifted with the power of free will which means we have the power to choose. I get a sense of déjà vu as I write this because I have written it down so many times, it’s almost as though I am trying to hammer the message into my mind.

In fact, I remember phrasing it like this in a previous post, “You are the C.E.O of your life…”.

I had written a whole review about this book and most of it was focused on the negative attributes about this book but I chose not to post it here because I believe that my negativity will not do anyone any good so I chose to write and post this instead.

Until next time 🙂

Thinking Big And Coffee.

New Year, New Better Me 🙂

“Success means many wonderful positive things. Positivity is one of my goals this year 🙂 Success means freedom: freedom from worries, fears, frustrations, and failure. Success means self-respect, continually finding more real happiness and satisfaction from life, being able to do more for those who depend you.

Success means winning.”

The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Shwartz

The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Shwartz

I was just noting down notes while reading this book that my brother sent me last year; The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz and thought why not share it here with you guys.

  1. Believe you can succeed and you will.

Having a strong belief system is one of the most practical success-building wisdom; believe you can and you will.

Not many people believe that they can move mountains. So, as a result, not many people do.

But make no mistake; there is a difference between wishful thinking and belief. You can’t wish something up, you can however wish yourself into working on something, believe you can and start.

I just got to reading this book and it’s like the perfect time because part or rather most of my resolutions for this year happen to resonate with this book so well.

I am almost the most pessimistic person I know but like many others, I call myself a realist. I didn’t need the book to help me realize that when I constantly doubt myself or subconsciously foresee failure I am in fact, sabotaging myself.

No, I didn’t need a book to tell me that, I had that all figured out by myself but like many bad habits, it’s hard to get rid of this one without any help and that is where the book comes in.

Maybe I need to read the phrase ‘Believe in yourself’ 1000 times so that it is planted in my brain and becomes a subconscious action. I don’t know. I do know however that you can will yourself into doing anything you want by believing in yourself.

“The “Okay-I’ll-give-it -a -try-but -I -don’t -think-it -will-work” attitude produces failures(trying to get rid of that one this year).”

Goal No. 1: Believe in myself!

  1. Excusitis.

I don’t even think that is a word but let’s use it because it has been used in the book. It’s actually quite catchy. Anyway, sometime around May last year, I made a mental note to stop giving excuses for my failures, take responsibility for them and move forward. Of course it does not help when you are constantly asked to explain yourself but hey that is life.

I had just started getting around to really listening to successful people and you know the saying “great minds think a like”? It is true. Most if not all of them agreed that all the excuses made by the mediocre fellow could be but aren’t made by the successful person.

Most successful people have the I-went-and-did-it story that translates back to belief. Some were at their lowest but believed they could be great and great they became. They didn’t give excuses.

Goal No. 2: Cure myself of Excusitis!

  1. Build Confidence. Destroy fear.

I didn’t even change the title for this one. It just sounded right. I didn’t know it when I was young, I didn’t even know it as I grew older but as I continued to learn myself I realized that I did lack confidence and my fear of failure has stopped me from trying so many things that I would have probably not sucked at.

I remember being to afraid to recite a solo poem in class five and letting my friend do it instead even though my teacher had insisted that I do it. My lack of confidence and fear blinded me from seeing what my teacher saw in me at that time and so many other times.

I would imagine all sorts of scenarios on how things could go wrong in my head and as much as the scenarios were and are a figment of my imagination, the fear was and still is very much real.

This is where I am right now, I have established the root of my problem but like all the other ailments, a diagnosis is only good if you can establish the cure.

Well, according to David J. Schwartz, Action cures fear and when you think about it, this makes sense. It’s like learning to ride a bike, even though you know you are going to fall the first few times, you still get on otherwise how else do learn?

“When we face tough problems, we stay mired in. the mud until we take action. Hope is a start. But hope needs action to win victories.”

It is the same for confidence. To think confidently, act confidently. Act the way you want to feel. Do not be afraid to be conspicuous, sit at the front, make eye contact, stand taller, sit a little straighter, speak up and most importantly smile. 🙂

Goal No.3: Work on my confidence, get rid of the fear and put the action principle to work.

  1. Know thyself.

When most people embark in the journey towards learning thyself, more often than not, they end up finding out their negative attributes. The focus on their weaknesses and forget to find out their strengths. I have been guilty of doing this so many times and it goes back to lack of self- confidence.

It is good to learn our weaknesses but learning only the negative and failing to recognize the positive leads us to value ourselves lower than we actually are.

Find out what your strengths are and exploit them! Work them to your advantage. Use them to add value to things, to add value to others and to add value to you and most importantly do not be afraid to think/dream big.

David lists some things that in my opinion can help in achieving this.

    • Learn not to sell yourself short instead, concentrate on your assets because you’re better than you think you are.
    • Be Positive. Use words that promise victory, hope, happiness and pleasure; avoid negative words; words that create unpleasant images of failure, defeat and/or grief.
    • Stretch your vision: See what can be, not just what is. Practice adding value to things, to people, and to yourself.
    • Get the big view of your job. Think; really think your present job is important. That next promotion depends mostly on how you think toward your present
    • Think above trivial things. Focus your attention on big objectives. Before getting involved in a petty matter, ask yourself, “Is it really important?”

Goal No.4: Learn my strengths and use them to make and achieve bigger goals.

Part of the initiative I am taking this year to working towards becoming a better version of myself hence the goals above. It’s all about growth and making myself a better person rather than focusing my energy on new resolutions that I can never quit follow though.My overall goals in life are to achieve inner peace (my cousin once called me a hippie for this), attain self-freedom and most importantly attain happiness in its truest and most genuine form; everything else is just a bonus 🙂

I know what you’re think, this post had nothing to do with coffee and you are absolutely right! I just thought it was time my favorite drink in the world got to feature here.

Until next time 🙂

Taking Stock: 2017

Taking Stock:2017

“Embrace uncertainty. Some of the most beautiful chapters in our lives won’t have a title until much later. ”

Every New Year feels like a new chance to start over and do things right. That is why most people come up with resolutions and write down things that they hope to achieve. Or maybe it’s just me. Haha.

When I was in high school, I thought I had everything figured out. I had planned out my life to the letter and I was so sure that by now I would be running my company or at least hold a managerial position or something higher in some company.

Life however had other plans. Nothing of what I had planned has happened and I was scared for a while; I still am but one of my resolutions this year is to let go of that fear, to stop being so rigid and let life be. ‘Everything happens for a reason.’ is what I keep trying to remind myself hence the quote.

“God give me the serenity to accept the things that I cannot change; Courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”

So much has happened in 2017 and I have found myself on the edge more than once. I have cried more times than I care to count and at some point I think I even forgot what it means to be happy. While I know reminding myself won’t be easy, I am hell bent on trying and getting rid of the negativity in my life while at it and that quote right there is my prayer as the year starts.

Don’t get me wrong, not all of 2017 was bad. I remember some good times and I am grateful for them. I think sometimes we go through hard times so that we can appreciate the good ones even more.

While that is my goal and part of what my next post is going to be about, this post was solely meant for stock taking. I am going to do this by listing 5 of my favorite books in 2017; the motivational ones at list. I would need a whole other post or three to list the fictional ones.

I managed to read 11 books in that genre in 2017. I would have loved for that number to be higher and I plan on making it higher this year but before then, here you go:

1. Developing The Leader Within You by John C. Maxwell.

I went back to reading motivational books in March because life has no hand book and such books are as close as you get. This was the very first book I read in 2017 and it was well needed because it came at time where everything was continuing to fall apart and I was struggling to find my own person.

I didn’t even know it when I began reading it but I realized that with every page, learning to lead myself was the reason as to why I was reading this book. It would soon become the reason as to why I read all the other leadership books after that.

John C. Maxwell in my opinion has a way of making you see things from a different perspective. He makes you want to take ownership of your life and steer it in the direction that you want. That has always been my biggest challenge especially in a world where everyone has a certain expectation of who you ought to be.

Taking Stock: 2017

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

2. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey.

I think this one was my favorite after Developing the Leader Within You. I remember insisting that my friend read it because it would absolutely change his life forever! I might have exaggerated a bit but this book can be compared to the type of spouse that makes you want to change for the better. You know the kind of person that makes you want to be good just for them? Yea that one.
“…I really want to change. I read all the new information, I set goals, I get myself all psyched up with a positive mental attitude and tell myself I can do it. But I don’t. After a few weeks, I fizzle. I just can’t seem to keep a promise I make to myself.”

At the time it was like reading into my head. I could totally relate. This book helped me see that in order to initiate the change that I wanted in life, I needed to accept the person that I was first and where I was then work on moving to where I wanted to be.

3. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell.

Just because the first one had not disappointed, I had no qualms about reading another one of his books. I remember I was reading this during my country’s  election period and things had been a bit intense because we had had a bad election year before; 2007 and everyone was afraid of experiencing it again.

As I read this book I kept thinking, “I wish my president would read this or I wish my governor could practice this or has my boss ever come across this book?” John C. Maxwell stated qualities that I would not only like to posses but also qualities that I would like my leaders to posses but most importantly I was reminded that it is not about the title or the position.

I was reminded that people need to know that you care before they can buy into your vision as a leader.

“People respond to benevolent intentions to a greater degree than they do to competence when reacting to authorities.”

4.What I know For Sure by Oprah Winfrey.

I loved this one probably because I’ve always been a fan of hers since I can remember. I loved watching her talk shows and was always fascinated at how good she looked for her age. However, like most people, it was her generosity that won me over. I cannot remember an episode of Oprah where the audience or someone didn’t get to walk away with anything.

What I know for sure is simply written and it makes you forget for a minute that she is one of the most powerful and most influential women in the world. She comes out as just another normal woman who has had to go through her share of hardships to get to where she is and it is because of this reason that you can relate so well to the book.

“Every day brings a chance for you to draw in a breath, kick off your shoes, and step out and dance – to live free of regret and filled with as much joy, fun and laughter as you can stand.

You can either waltz boldly onto the stage of life or live the way you know your spirit is nudging you to, or you can sit quietly by the wall, receding into the shadows of fear and self-doubt. You have the choice this very moment.”

They might be simple words but they hold so much depth.

5. Things I will Tell My Daughter by Joan Thatiah.

This was the last book that I read of this genre this year and I could not be more proud that it is written by a Kenyan author. She is authentic in that the lessons are from her experiences in life. It is relatable in that most women go through some of the challenges that she went though.
She is bold in that she rose up, dusted herself and ignored the scornful voices of disappointment when she fell and pressed on to become a success in her field.

She didn’t let her unfortunate background or failures define her. She chose to define herself and chose who she was going to be and worked towards where she wanted to be. This book makes you think the world is crappy but everything will be alright.

This is my first stock taking and hopefully not the last. As I look back, 2017 wasn’t all that bad because I learnt and I grew and I became stronger and somewhat bolder (still working on that one).

Taking Stock:

Until next time 🙂

The world owes you nothing.

Artwork By The KenyanBookJunkie

Artwork By The KenyanBookJunkie

“Beware lest you lose the substance by grasping at the shadow.” – Aesop

I guess this is my somewhat vague attempt at explaining my hiatus for the past one month. I lost focus, I listened to the voices around me and I let my vision get faltered.

You see, everyone around you has a certain image of who you are and what you ought to be. Most people think that you could do so much better by doing things different which simply translates to doing things their way.

While some of these people usually have your best interest at heart, it is vital to remember that it is always up to you. The choices that you make, the path that you take are and ought to be your own prerogative. There is no right or wrong way to live life, we were never meant to be the same, you need to make your own mistakes,own them  and learn from them because otherwise, how do you grow?

As human beings, we are naturally inclined to passing on blame to literally anyone or anything other than ourselves. When we lose focus we want to blame it on circumstances or that friend or family member that keeps wanting to give you advice on how you should be living your life. I say this because I am no different. In fact, this has been me for the past few months.

I took a break from writing this blog because of all the things happening around me. I want to say that it is because of those things that I started to question my goals and my vision but I did that entirely on my own. I let those things affect me and in turn I lost momentum.

I lost focus and I could not bring myself to writing because I felt like anything that I would have written would have been a lie. You see, that is what happens when you lose faith and stop believing in yourself and in what you are doing.

I’m not saying do not listen or take advice when it is offered to you, I am not saying  do not ignore your surroundings or the things that happen to you, all I am saying is, be stubborn about your goals but flexible about your methods. Use the advice and your circumstances to get where you want to be.

Things I will Tell My Daughter Cover Page, Art Work By The KenyanBookJunkie

Things I will Tell My Daughter Front Cover Page

During my short ephemeral, I came across a book; Things I will tell my Daughter by Joan Thatiah. My thought at first were that using a title similar to Maya Angelou’s A Letter To My Daughter was a big risk to take. I was skeptical at first because I was afraid of being disappointed if the book wasn’t as good as the former or if it was just a replica of the same.

I am truly impressed at the fact that it is neither of those things. I found it very relatable and original in that, most of her lessons are centered on her experiences growing up. I could totally identify with some of the things she has gone through and it is due to that fact that chapter five really hit home for me.

I actually borrowed this title from that. Not very original I know but hey, repetition for emphasis? Joan tells of how she was born of a single mother and of how she had to learn to not let that and her unfortunate background define who she was going to be.

She tells of how she had to work to become something or someone bigger than that and of how she learnt that she wasn’t entitled to anything just because of these circumstances. The world didn’t owe her anything just because life had been unfair to her.

This is one lesson that most of us forget to take heed of and yet it is among the most vital lessons if we are to truly live fulfilling lives. Most people who fail to pay attention to this are often angry and bitter at life. Look around,tell me if i’m lying.

That’s all I have for now. I can’t promise i’ll be on here as much as i’d like to but i’ll definitely try. 🙂

 

5 Things I Learnt From Oprah’s ‘What I know For Sure’.

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“When you get the choice to sit out or dance, I hope you dance.”

This was the refrain from the song that Maya Angelou had sent to Oprah, a song that pretty much summed up her life.

The first thing that struck me about this was a cliché statement that almost every teacher, preacher, speaker and even my parents have repeated on numerous occasions. “Show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are” It was and still is evident that Oprah surrounded and still surrounds herself with great people.

Oprah’s “What I know For Sure “was in every bit as insightful as I thought it would be but what I liked the most was how simple her stories were. They flow so softly yet you can’t miss the lessons and the advice.

This woman who loves her four o’ clock masala chai and red wine, this woman who has tremendous achievements, this woman who has a humongous fortune to her name comes off as humble and fun and happy in this book.

She also seems like someone who has been through a lot but from that she learnt and was fortunate to take the lessons and apply them to her life resulting in someone who is at peace with herself.

If I had ever wanted to meet Oprah Winfrey, I want to, now more than ever.

Like every other book I read, I purpose to learn and this is why if I’m reading a hard copy I’ll always have a note book with me and if I’m reading an E-Book on my work laptop or from home I’ll always have a note pad open.

This book was not any different, I gathered so much and here is some of it.

1.You define your own life. Don’t let other people write your script.

Great minds think alike, they really do. Almost every book written by a leader that I have come across never fails to point this out.  Oprah was no exception.

“Every day brings a chance for you to draw in a breath, kick off your shoes, and step out and dance – to live free of regret and filled with as much joy, fun and laughter as you can stand.

You can either waltz boldly onto the stage of life or live the way you know your spirit is nudging you to, or you can sit quietly by the wall, receding into the shadows of fear and self-doubt. You have the choice this very moment”

2.Pleasure is energy reciprocated: What you put out comes back.

I think the one thing that I love about Oprah is her generosity. From the give-aways in her shows to her selfless need to always put others before herself.

On one of her Birthdays, she says that she would have gone through the trouble to have a musician she loved come not for her but for her friend.

The fact that she cried so much when her friends did the same for only goes to show that she never expected that they would, imagine that. She would give without expecting anything in return.

3.He who dies with the most toys is still dead.

“The gift of deciding to face your mortality without turning away or flinching is the gift of recognizing that because you will die, you must live now. Whether you flounder or flourish is always in your hands – you are the single biggest influence in your life.

Your journey begins with a choice to get up, step out, and live fully.”

Don’t be so caught up in chasing the world that you forget to live. At the end of the day, the countless amount of money and the many late nights at the office will not matter if you never got out and lived.

4.You deserve to be happy.

Whether it’s a spouse, who constantly degrades your worth, hurts you every chance he or she gets, a family member who is always waiting for you to screw up or simply a person who is always dimming your light, you have no business being around them.

When Oprah was in her 20’s, she had a series of bad relationships and one time while she was hurting from one of them her friend told her this; “He’s just chipping away at your spirit. One day I hope he chips deep enough for you to see who you really are – someone who deserves to be happy.”

If it wasn’t for the last part, I would have called the friend mean.

5.What I know For Sure.

This book got me to thinking, if I was asked the same question Gene Siskel asked Oprah, would I be able to give an answer let alone write a whole book.

I’ll tell you this, right now at this moment; I know that life is tough, that I need to work my ass off just to survive but I also know that life has its happy moments. I know that I need to fight my natural inclination towards solitude and the depression that kicks in once in a while.

I need to make new friends and go out because like it or not people make memories more worth the while. It doesn’t matter how long they stay, it’s the impact and the influence that they had on us and vice versa.

“Your journey begins with a choice to get up, step out, and live fully.”

5 Great Leaders Who Suffered From Depression.

Depression

Image Courtesy of India Times

We all have days that we’d rather stay in bed than face the world. Call it a case of the blues. While we all experience a case of the blues from time to time, some are unfortunate to experience them more intensely and for long periods of time ranging from weeks to even years.

This in very simple terms is what you call depression. Depression occurs in many different states and affects your physical and mental health. There are a number of illnesses or disorders associated with depression ranging from the likes of anorexia to anxiety, insomnia and so much more.

A common expression of depression that has been there from time immemorial is suicide which is actually what compelled me to research and write about the topic. Just this past month alone I have heard about 3 suicide case and that is just close to home, there are so many more out there and the reasons they give in their goodbye letters are just so trivial they make you wonder, “people are starving, others are homeless and you kill yourself because of this?”

Ignorant as that question sounds, so many of us have thought it, some of us have actually voiced it but the truth is, you can never really know what is going through someone’s head that leads them to take their lives.

Those that commit suicide have probably been depressed for a while and I’d like to assume that, that insignificant thing written on the goodbye note was just a trigger. Most of us take this act as an act of cowardice. You were afraid to face the world so you took the easy way out, but rather than viewing this act as an act of cowardice, I got to thinking, most of us fear death more than anything, right?

So maybe those who commit suicide are actually braver than we make them out to be; I don’t know and in search of answers I stumbled upon two books, ‘Lincoln’s Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness’ and ‘A first Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links between Leadership and Mental Illness’. I was looking for information on depression but I landed on how some of the greatest leaders of all times battled depression some even becoming great because of it.

A first Rate Madness, albeit a good biographical collection of various leaders, felt a little bit shallow and at one point I even felt like Nassir Ghaemi, the author, was defending actions of the likes of Hitler.

That might not have been the case.

Lincoln’s Melancholy however, I found intriguing. It not only delved deep into Lincoln’s life from his childhood to his time in office but also proves in depicting Lincoln as a man who suffered from depression.

I found it rather enlightening as it made me view depression on a whole different perspective. It’s not news that some of the greatest leaders suffered from depression and that to some it was an asset. Lincoln’s Melancholy is a great example of this.

Here are five world renowned leaders who are probably the most well known to have suffered from depression:

1. Abraham Lincoln

Kenyan Book Junkie- Abraham Lincoln

Background Image Courtesy of History.com

Joshua Wolf Shenk through his book, ‘Lincoln’s Melancholy’ shows us how Lincoln managed to turn his depression into an asset. It is probably because of this infamous piece of biography that when we speak about leadership and depression, Lincoln is among the first people that come to mind.

In the first chapter, Joshua mentions that depression can be inherited and that as much as Lincoln’s depression was as a result of personal tragedies he faced as a kid such as seeing his mother’s ailment and death, the death of his uncle and aunt, the death of his sister and his father’s absence, it could have also been inherited. Biological predisposition is what the author calls it.

‘”Predisposition” means an increased risk of developing an illness. As opposed to traditional Mendelian inheritance — in which one dominant gene or two recessive genes lead to an illness or trait — genetic factors in psychiatric illnesses are additive and not categorical.’

Lincoln’s friends at times feared that he would take his life due to how extreme his depression got.

“As a young man he talked more than once of suicide, and as he grew older he said he saw the world as hard and grim, full of misery, made that way by fate and the forces of God.” The Atlantic.

2. Princess Diana

As I was looking for more information to support the fact that she suffered from depression, I found an article from India Today with the title “She was bulimic, depressed and suicidal. Why couldn’t Princess Diana’s Midas Touch turn her life to gold?”
Kenyan Book Junkie- Princess Diana's quote
What shook me the most was that according to that and many other articles, there was a series of tapes found (‘13 reasons why’ much?).  The series of tapes had been availed to Andrew Morton the author of Diana: Her True Story. According to the book, Diana in her tapes, talks about her pressure she received in her rather stressful position as the Princess, her husband’s infidelity that began before their marriage and continued well after and her battle with Bulimia.

Makes you think twice about wanting to become a princess right?

Having read from a few articles (I am yet to read the book) about what Diana was going though,  it’s no shock that she too had tried to commit suicide by slitting her wrists, something I unfortunately know too well about but that is a story for another day.

3. Winston Churchill

A well know journalist who described his depression as a black dog, My black dog seems quite away from me now – it is such a relief. All the colors come back into the picture.”

While reading about the- oh- so- great Winston Churchill, I came across another term, Manic Depression. Manic Depression is what we call today, Bipolar Disorder. Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder that causes people suffering from it to have alternating moods of abnormal highs and abnormal lows. The abnormal highs or periods where the person has elevated moods are called mania whereas the lows are called depression.

Winston Churchill would have periods where he was extremely low, unproductive and borderline depressed then there were periods he was in extremely high spirits, periods when he wrote enough literature to surpass Shakespeare and Dickens combine and even win a Nobel peace prize.

4. Adolf Hitler

This post was supposed to be up by the weekend, he is the reason as to why it wasn’t. I know, typical right? Blame everything on the bad guy why don’t you.

I debated for awhile on whether to write about him or not because the issue of his mental health has been the cause of great controversy for a very long time.

Adolf Hitler

Background Image Courtesy of Globe and Mail

The question that many ask is was Hitler crazy or just evil?

Now I am no psychiatrist nor can I ascertain whether the man was crazy or not but there have been a number of articles that have stated so from claims that he had a personality disorder to the fact that he might have been Schizophrenic.

It didn’t help that most of what was written on A First Rate Madness sounded like mere speculation and did not really provide proof to back up the state of Hitler’s mental health.

I thought Nassir Ghaemi would provide answers that have been sought out for ages but I was mistaken. I do applaud him for trying though and choosing to take on these murky waters.

5. Martin Luther King

Having have read about the man and idolized him since I was a youngin’ it was quite a shock to learn that he too had suffered from depression at one point in his life. According to A First Rate Madness, Martin Luther King was clinically depressed. It is also a well known fact that he had even attempted to take his life twice in his adolescence.

I came across an article from Medscape that suggests the same. According to this article, Dr. King exhibited symptoms of Mania Depression where he had highly energetic periods and periods where he’d be very depressed. Just like Winston Churchill, Dr King in his highly energetic periods would be very active, giving numerous speeches and sermons and then he’d have periods where he was almost always exhausted, slept a lot and could not concentrate.

These two books and the numerous articles written on the depressive states of these and many more leaders just go to show that even the best of us go through depression. The case of Princess Diana clearly shows that even those whom we think have it all battle their demons. Another thing that I got was the difference between crisis and non-crisis leadership. Lincoln’s Melancholy serves to show how depression fueled one man’s greatness while A First Rate Madness suggests that the leaders who suffered from depression and other mental illnesses were very good in times of crisis while those that were termed as healthy were just as good in times of non-crisis but failed in the former.

All things said, the two books definitely push you to look at depression on a whole other perspective.

Using The Art Of Persuasion To Get What You Want

What started as a series of (more than I would have liked to read) analogies mostly about animals (I hate watching animal planet) ended up being an elaborate explanation of why we behave the way that we do (at least that’s how I understood it).

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

Background Image Courtesy of Meet Learn. Book Image Courtesy of The Market Agents.

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” is the book that I have been reading. It’s written by Robert B. Cianldini. Now this is the first of his books that I am reading and I was very skeptical at first especially since the first chapter was just a series of long paragraphs about animals(did I mention that I hate Animal Planet?).

It took a bit of time to warm up to the book especially after I realized that our opinions are not so different.

In the first chapter he talks about how a female turkey uses the ‘cheep-cheep’ sound made by its young ones to identify them. In fact, other identifying features of the chicks, such as their smell, touch, or appearance, seem to play minor roles in the mothering process.

As ridiculous as this sounds, it works very well for the female turkeys and other animals who use the same technique well most of the time. This is because, by reacting to just that one pre-programmed stimulus, these animals will almost always behave correctly when faced with a threat or otherwise.

Robert B. Cialdini goes ahead to remind us that we too have our pre-programmed ways of reacting to certain things. He calls them our pre-programmed tapes.

It was at this point that I actually began to understand what he was trying in so many words to pass across.

I began thinking about previous arguments that I have had with people about beliefs. Let us take religion for example; this is one topic that has been the cause of conflicts since time in memorial.

The reason being very simple, we all think that our religion is better than everyone else’s and we are not entirely wrong because that is how we have been programmed to think from the minute we were able to comprehend things.

Take for instance a Christian who has been brought up in the church and more so has been taught to look down on other religions or Muslims who have been taught to do the same or a Hindu or any person from the thousands of religions that we have in the world.

These people will always think that their way is better and try to fault others who do not follow it simply because of their pre-programmed beliefs.

However, have you ever wondered what would have happened if you had been brought up to believe differently?

In the beginning of the first chapter, the author tells us about how a friend sold some pieces of jewelry that had refused to sell for a while simply by accidentally doubling the price when what she intended to do was actually reduce it by half.

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The friend thought that this was mere luck and most of us would have interpreted it that way which is not entirely false.

However, there is a logic behind this and Robert went ahead to explain it. The explanation is pretty simple and it has to do with the fact that most of us have been programmed to think that we pay for what we get and that cheap is expensive.

This way of thinking is simply based on experience which makes it very rational. In fact I have found myself not only thinking but also using these lines from time to time when buying things.

Robert says that although the people who bought the jewelry for twice its price did not realize it, by reacting solely to the price feature of the items, they were playing a shortcut version of betting the odds.

Instead of stacking all the odds in their favor by trying painstakingly to master each of the things that indicate the worth of the jewelry, they were counting on just one—the one they knew to be usually associated with the quality of any item. They were betting that price alone would tell them all they needed to know.

In other words, the higher the price of an item, the better the quality.

The other thing that he went to talk about is a principle in human perception that is called the contrast principle. This principle affects the way we see the difference between two things that are presented one after another.

If the second item is fairly different from the first, we will tend to see it as more different than it actually is.

One of the examples he gave that explains this principle, is when a guy is talking to an attractive lady at a cocktail party then they are joined by an unattractive one, (in his opinion of course) the second woman will strike him as less attractive than she actually is.

This is called perceptual contrast and can be used to explain our perception towards different things.

Now I knew I was hooked when Robert decided to explain how one can take advantage of this. He did this by simply using a company realty salesman that he accompanied once as he showed houses to prospective clients.

Whenever the salesman began showing a new set of customers potential buys, he would start with a couple of undesirable houses which he called setup property.

This company maintained a run-down house or two on its lists at inflated prices. These houses were not intended to be sold to customers but to be shown to them, so that the genuine properties in the company’s inventory would benefit from the comparison.

While this is a bit deceptive it is also very smart, don’t you think?

All this said, the part that gave me goose bumps was the letter at the end of that chapter.

 

“From the Parent of a College Coed

Dear Mother and Dad:

Since I left for college I have been remiss in writing and I am sorry for my thoughtlessness in not having written before. I will bring you up to date now, but before you read on, please sit down. You are not to read any further unless you are sitting down, okay?

Well, then, I am getting along pretty well now. The skull fracture and the concussion I got when I jumped out the window of my dormitory when it caught on fire shortly after my arrival here is pretty well healed now. I only spent two weeks in the hospital and now I can see almost normally and only get those sick headaches once a day.

Fortunately, the fire in the dormitory, and my jump, was witnessed by an attendant at the gas station near the dorm, and he was the one who called the Fire Department and the ambulance. He also visited me in the hospital and since I had nowhere to live because of the burnt out dormitory, he was kind enough to invite me to share his apartment with him.

It’s really a basement room, but it’s kind of cute. He is a very fine boy and we have fallen deeply in love and are planning to get married.

We haven’t got the exact date yet, but it will be before my pregnancy begins to show.

Yes, Mother and Dad, I am pregnant. I know how much you are looking forward to being grandparents and I know you will welcome the baby and give it the same love and devotion and tender care you gave me when I was a child.

The reason for the delay in our marriage is that my boyfriend has a minor infection which prevents us from passing our pre-marital blood tests and I carelessly caught it from him.

Now that I have brought you up to date, I want to tell you that there was no dormitory fire, I did not have a concussion or skull fracture, I was not in the hospital, I am not pregnant, I am not engaged, I am not infected, and there is no boyfriend.

However, I am getting a “D” in American History, and an “F” in Chemistry and I want you to see those marks in their proper perspective.

Your loving daughter,

Sharon

Sharon may be failing chemistry, but she gets an “A” in psychology.”

I did't see that coming

GIF Courtesy of E Online.

I can only imagine her parents’ reaction as they were reading; it must have been priceless especially at the end!

20 Things I’ve Learnt In My Early Twenties.

20 things I've learnt at 20

20 Things I’ve Learnt In My Early Twenties

“In my life, I’ve lived, I’ve loved, I’ve lost, I’ve missed, I’ve hurt, I’ve trusted, I’ve made mistakes but most of all I’ve learnt.” Hp Lyrikz.

I am still trying to find my way and my place on this planet. I keep falling but I get up; I am still learning.

Here are the 20 things I’ve learnt at 20!

1. This Life Is Not For The Weak

I have gone though enough things in the last twenty plus years to realize that I needed to toughen up my skin to survive.
You can’t go through life being fragile and easy to break. You have to be strong and willing to fight whenever you have to.

2. You Lose Some You Gain Some

Friends come, sometimes they stick around but sometimes they don’t. Some you simply drift away, some you fall out due to discrepancies.  Treasure the ones that you have and appreciate the time that you spend with those that are gone.

20 things i've learnt at 20

No Pain No Gain

3. You Are Capable Of So Much, Just Push Yourself

The most fascinating thing about this world is that anything is possible. You just have to push yourself and have some imagination. I have pushed myself and had some things happen that I didn’t even deem possible. Do not be afraid to dream big or to set high goals, believe in yourself and in those goals.

4. It’s OK Not To Fit In

I’ve always felt like I didn’t belong, like I could never fit in regardless of how much I tried. This can be a bad thing especially if you give into pear pressure just to fit in.

You do not have to fit in; I mean why be basic when you were born to stand out?

5. You Are Going To Feel Lost

When you get into your twenties, you are excited and pumped to take on a new chapter of your life. You have so many goals set out and so many plans for the future. You are ready to take on anything but life throws at you more road blocks than you can take.

It is at this point that you will question yourself, you will begin to doubt your capabilities and question whether it’s really worth it and the worst part is that it gets really bad before it gets better.

Hang in there.

6. Everything Happens For A Reason

Whether it is to teach you a lesson, make you stronger or simply to give you a fresh perspective, things happen for a reason.   The reason might not be clear right away but it’s there and it becomes clear with time.

Ever heard of the phrase God doesn’t make mistakes?

7. Things That’s Seem So Important Right Now Might Be Utterly Insignificant In The Future

If it’s giving you a headache and you simply can’t get a way around it then why not just let it be? I look back at some things that I considered extremely important a while ago, so important that I invested my time, money and peace of mind on them.

Right now some of those things are insignificant and not worth all the stress.

8. Character Is Everything

“The true character of a person is not defined by what he does in front of a crowd but instead by what he does when no one is around”

Strive to be a person whose moral qualities even you would admire.

Kenyan Blog

Make Memories

9. Build Memories That Last

Travel, go out, do all the things that scare you and make memories while at it. There is nothing as sad as looking back at your life and having nothing to reminisce about.

Take advantage of the fact that you have fewer responsibilities now and do all the things that you want to do. Enjoy your twenties and maximize your experiences.

10. Meet New People

Different people have different views on life and everything in general. The world has a population of over 7.5 billion people, meet new people and gain new insights on life. You might be surprised at how good your life could be if you just looked at it from someone else’s eyes.

11. It Is Better To Give

Getting clothes, money shoes you name it, feels pretty awesome but I’ll tell you this for free; nothing beats the joy and satisfaction that comes with giving. The look that you get as someone appreciates whatever it is that you’ve given then is simply priceless and the warmth that comes with giving is just amazing.

12. Work Hard

Nothing and I repeat nothing in this world is free. If you want the good things in life then you must work for them and not just work but work hard especially now that you have more energy and very few responsibilities.

13. It’s OK To Make Mistakes

Mistakes are a stepping stones to success and failures are part of life. You learn through mistakes and they are the only way you know whether you are improving or not. Own your mistakes and learn from them.

14. Do Not Compare Yourself To Others

Someone else’s success does not determine your and vice-versa. When I was in high school, I used to hear the athletes being told not to look back at their competition as they ran as that would slow them down.

The same can be said about life, while you are busy worrying about what is in someone else’s plate, the food in yours is getting cold.

The only  person that you should be in competition with is you. Work to become the best version of yourself.

15. Be Real; Be You

In a world where trends are constantly changing and being fake has become a norm, it is very easy to lose touch with yourself. Don’t lose your authenticity trying to become someone that you are not. Be you, live according to your means and above all love the person that you are.

16. Everything Takes Time

Everything takes time, even a bruise heals after a while. Don’t be afraid of getting hurt because it always gets better.

Kenyan Blog

Make Every Moment Count

17. Life Is Short, Make It Worth The While.

You only have one life and you owe it to yourself to make it as awesome as it can possibly be especially since you might not make it till tomorrow.  In the words of Bonjovi “It’s my life, it’s now or never, I ain’t gonna live forever, I just wanna live when am alive…”

18. You Are Not The Only That Is Going Through Something

Just because you are going through something doesn’t mean someone else is. Everyone goes through hardships and the magnitude of those hardships is only significant to the person going through them.

19. Take Charge Of Your Life, It’s Yours.

Never let circumstances or people for that matter determine how you are going to live your life. It’s your life after all and only you have the power to determine how you are going to live it.

Never let anyone make you feel guilty for living your life your way.

20. Happiness Is A State Of Mind

Happiness is a choice, not a result. Nothing will make you happy until you choose to be happy. No person will make you happy unless you decide to be happy. Your happiness will not come from you; it can only come from you.

I am in my early twenties which means there is still a lot more I am yet to see, that I am yet to experience, that I am yet to learn.