Valentine’s Day should be a movie! No. Not the one as we know it. Not the flowers, candy, red hearts and romance kind. Not the messages, chocolate and expensive dates. Not the sweet nothings and dear somethings to make them him or her smile. The movie of St. Valentine himself!

Me: Kids, I’m going to tell you an incredible story: The story of how I met a brother Valentine (well read his story).
You: Are we being punished for something? More mushy gushy Valentine stuff?
Me: No.
You: Yeah, is this going to take a while?
Me: Yes. And no. Just sit back and relax. A long time ago (over like 1500 years ago), in Ancient Rome, there was this priest called Valentine….

St. Valentine to the rescue!

The following events take place during the rule of Emperor Claudius. He was better known as Emperor Claudius the Cruel. Why, you ask? He issued a law that forbid young men to marry. And contrary to what we may think, it wasn’t because they were not ready. He felt that they would be unwilling to join the army if married since they would be tied down to their families. Of course joining the army was no small feat as what would happen to their families if they died in the line of duty. Man, Claudizzle made it sound like it would be the end of the world if people get married. But wait..there is more…

“You can’t trap justice! It’s an idea, a BELIEF!”

– Metro Man, Megamind

Not so far way, we had a priest, Valentine, who wasn’t for this idea. He would not stand for it. In the face of such injustice, he defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young couples. Some have Batman. Others Spiderman. Even some Superman or Captain America. In 270 something AD, young and bubbly lovers had Valentine to the rescue. He was that day’s hero. [enter heroic theme song in the background ].
To the heart-mobil!
Look up in the sky! Is that a bird? Is that a plane? No. It’s love in the air, and St Valentine following close behind.

How Valentine welcomed the young couples to his church

Upon hearing what Monsieur Valentino was up to, our antagonist, Claudius, ordered the arrest of the hero in this here story. He was given a three part execution of a beating, stoning, and finally off with his head! People out there losing their heads, all for the sake of love. Well, it does still happen, metaphorically speaking, but I digress. An interesting thing is while in jail he became friends with the jailer, Asterius. Now Asterius was so intrigued by Valentine’s way of life and his commitment to his faith. In fact, in some accounts of the story, we are told that he took Valentine to his daughter when she was sick and he prayed for her. The prayers worked and his daughter got better. On top of all this, Asterius even started believing in the faith. This was the start of something special between Asterius’ daughter and Valentine. I am sure the heroic priest must have been thinking that love wins in sickness and in health. When the time for his execution came, he had a dying wish. All he needed was a paper and pen (quill dipped in ink). His last words he wrote were to his friend and lover. After pouring out his feelings and thoughts in the note, he signed out, “from your Valentine“.

[Outro: Long theme song, with credits and list of producers.
Post credit scene: People having a good time and downing chocolate with fine wine as they dine]
It’s a wrap people! We have a movie!


No man can win every battle, but no man should fall without a struggle.”
Peter Parker, Spiderman

Maybe an expression of love is not just limited to the super duper things that money can do or buy. Not to the expensive or things we hold so dear. A friendship that Valentine formed even at his worst of situations lives on to be celebrated today. Truly then there is more to life than these. Maybe it’s all about a commitment to something. Taking a stand on something. Being able to take a stand on how you feel for someone. What stand will you take, not just one day out of 365, but your entire life- in your friendships, relationships, at work, school and home? Leave an impact, maybe even impact enough to have a day named after you. That’s just an opinion of a simpleton. Or simple-tony.
From your Tony

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So when I was a young’n I seem to have it easy making friends, despite being a bit shy. One of my best friends was Jeremy. We were quite the pair. Always hanging out with each other during school breaks and even after school as well. We had similar interests- from soccer to video games, movies and cycling- which made it even easier to relate. All was fine and dandy between us up until one day we almost fought. Jeremy must have been the one who started it (” No. He started it!” He would probably say if he read this). He playfully tripped at my foot from behind me as I was walking and I think I must have taken the joke a bit too far. Almost without giving it much thought, I retaliated with a swipe at his feet and he went tumbling down. He was fuming on the ground, fists clenched and just about ready to spring back on me. Before he could even get back up and probably revenge, the teacher called us aside to settle whatever was happening. For a moment there, everyone wondered what happened to the dream team of J.T. (Jeremy-Tony) but conflict does come about even among friends. We sat in our corners and cooled down. After like thirty minutes, I went over to him and pushed him a bit. He shoved me back. We laughed. And presto! We were joking about who would have won if we actually fought. It wasn’t long before we were talking and playing hide-and-seek with other kids after class. Just a minor disagreement, I still wonder why we was trippin’ like that… 🙂


“Life’s not about how hard of a hit you can give… it’s about how many you can take, and still keep moving forward.”
― Sylvester Stallone, Rocky Balboa

Disagreements. Arguments. Conflicts. Tiffs. Disputes. They are part of everyday relationships- whether professional or otherwise. And even more so in friendships. This could even be one of the reasons why we find it so hard to make friends– sharing with each other and each other’s spaces is bound to lead to a fight at one point or another. Boxing must be one of the oldest sports which at its most basic is fighting. Ever since man’s existence, where he is, there is bound to be conflict. It is certainly at least as old as 688 BC when it was included in the ancient Olympic Games. Fighting in the ring, has its own rules. Fighting in the ring of friendships also has rules.

No hitting below the belt: this is an actual rule in boxing that does not allow the participant to hit the opponent around the kidney area. When in an argument with a friend of yours, you would know what their strengths and weaknesses are. Remember, the whole point of the hearty discussion is not to attach the person, but the issue. Now is not the time to recount the number of times they have failed or disappointed you. Let the main issue be the main issue. Your friend is not to be your punching bag.

You cannot hit an opponent when they are down: while in the ring, the opponent must be allowed to get up. That is fair play. It’s not the time to bombard him with more punches or even kicks. Before any disagreement, you were friends with someone. It wouldn’t be in your best interest to attack or deal with an issue when they are down- probably physically, emotionally or just out of sorts. Let’s have some sense of civility and respect for each other.

Each is entitled to rest: when the going get tough, the tough get resting, then they get going. When one has been fouled in the ring, they’re entitled to rest. Also, in between the rounds, we have water breaks and time outs that allow the boxers to recover. If you can’t settle something in a ‘clean’ fight, then let’s take a break. Let’s take some time to recollect ourselves and reflect. It’s a good time to get some perspective on somethings. It’s also a good time to just clear your mind as well.

All’s fair in love and war. No one has any reason to comply to your standards. We are different at the end of the day. Yes, we are friends, buddies, comrades or even soulmates. But we are different. We may have to reach a compromise or part ways. Sometimes, it’s not so black or white, sometimes it is. Sometimes you have to settle the ‘match’ and leave everything in peace (and not pieces). How many fists for you to be first? How many tears for you to be heard? Well, the choice is in my hands. In your hands. In our hands. Being a winner at times is deciding to lose, so that friendship wins.

Two conflicting forces cannot exist in one human heart. When doubt reigns, faith cannot abide. Where hatred rules, love is crowded out. Where selfishness rules, there love cannot dwell. When worry is present, trust cannot crowd its way in.”


Billy Graham


Toy Story was an all time fave as a kid! For those who know, know. Those who don’t, it was a ’95 animation showing the life of toys and how they interact with each other and human beings. One song that comes to mind is “You’ve Got A Friend In Me“- a reminder that your friend has always got your back no matter what. The song was performed by Woody, a cowboy puppet. “The real treasures are your friends and family,” says the puppet. At one point, he rubs paint off the bottom of his boot, revealing the word “ANDY” (complete with a backwards N) and is reminded of his friendship with Andy (young boy who owns him), as well as his identity and purpose as a toy. His change of heart is immediate, and he decides to return to Andy. All that from toys man…toys. I am not playing around with…toys! Do I play too much?

Friends to infinity and beyooooond!

Why is it so hard to make friends as an adult?
When I was smaller I would simply walk up to group of boys playing football and ask “Niko team gani?” (‘What team am I in?’) and presto! I wasn’t too sure what position I was I would fit in but at first glance I was told “Shika post!“(‘Guard the goal post!’). That made sense since I was bigger than most of them and wasn’t as fast as they were. About three hours later, goals on both sides, frustrations and injuries- so started the journey of forming lifelong buds from just playing together.
Right now it’s not as easy. We play when we have time. To have time we have to make time. And making time is just too much commitment. We don’t play anymore to form friends, we only participate in the slightest even card game if they’re friends. No longer as easy as walking up to someone nice, telling them something I like and then asking them to be my friend. If only it were that easy! For some reason, making adult friends gets much trickier. Did we get shy? Less to talk about?

“Friends? I have friends. Here they are! in fact I can literally count on them.”

I guess with time probably priorities have changed. As kids, priority number one is fun. As adults, we work, we have family responsibilities and we have to pay bills. When that time comes, play and fun and relaxation take a backseat.
Could there be some element of pride and fear? Who wants to walk up to someone and ask them to be friends? Who wants to be rejected? Not me! But then again who doesn’t want the that Friends kind of friendship- “I’ll be there for yooooouuuu…” kind of feeling. We remember the song, right?

Then entered Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and every other social media platform that just made it way easier to make friends- in as much as they are virtual friends. And even with these diverse platforms to “add friends” and “follow back” we still having pending ones that we keep on the waiting line- because we already have enough? I don’t know. But back to the real life authentic friendships- what about those? Is there a way to regain those back- even one person at a time. Find more meaning in one-on-one meet ups and conversations just as much as tech has made it easier to communicate. Then and only then you can find what’s up with your pals, a little bit more past WhatsApp. You make more authentic connections on the streets then the Tweets. In as much as there is that difference between being online on Hangouts and in line at a concert with friends to hang out- there is a common feeling. We instantly find even a gram of gratification and joy being one’s friend versus Instagram- you would be #friendsforever #winning #makingit #blessed. There’s no doubt that much of the happiness we experience in life is due to friendship.


When you’re in jail, a good friend will be trying to bail you out. A best friend will be in the cell next to you saying, ‘Damn, that was fun.’

Groucho Marx

So, what is friendship? It is valued, sought after, enjoyed and maintained, sometimes over the course of a lifetime. When we know we have made a friend, on some level we experience joy. Deep and meaningful relationships all require friendship. Sometimes these relationships bring opposites together merely through the fact that the opposites share a common joy.

Let’s be friends 🙂 (phew! I did it!)


Friends come and go, like the waves of the ocean, but the true ones stay, like an octopus on your face.

One of the memories I have of high school was going for school functions (aka funkies). The very first was through the school choir. Yes! I did sing at some point in my life. I was taking notes in class and hitting notes after! We would go for practice right after our classes and also after the night preps. My pal, Danson, would come and pick me from class just before the class ended. He’d be so psyched up for the practice sessions that he go on and on about the way he has got to get it right this time so that he is part of the choir, the way he would make great first impressions during the funkies or how he would come up with the lamest jokes to make people laugh (or was that me?)

Singing is not just a matter of opening your mouth and making sure your vocal chords vibrate. There is a bit more to it. The long nights we spent singing during the day, after class, through the night, after preps and sometimes weekends proved this to me. We had two strict choir masters and an even stricter music teacher who wanted nothing but the best. It was all or nothing. But once you got it, you got it. Once you developed a rhythm to how you are supposed to flow, then you couldn’t miss a beat. The same applies for developing a routine and making a habit – just get the right rhythm and you hack getting the right beat to what you need to do. Here are some few highlights I learnt through my short music stint.

Being the man with the bass

What’s your type?– Are you a tenor, soprano or bass? If so, what level of that type: 1 or 2? Oooh. You don’t know? Okay. Say this with me: “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”- just say this and your voice will be Poppin! 🙂 Back to the point: to sing you have to identify your voice. You can’t sing in the same position as a friend, brother or neighbour. And even then, the technique would differ. I started off as a Bass 1 and probably felt that I should have been a Bass 2 but hey, I just didn’t have that deep enough bass. I just had to contend with the second deepest then (I don’t think I even graduated to Bass 2). The same applies to our techniques on getting the right routine and forming the right habit. We each have our own method to the madness hence won’t go crazy trying to keep up with another person. Again, I may not have a soprano like Adele but I am just as comfortable rolling in the deep (voice).

Sing from the stomach (diaphragm), not the throat– now when was the last time you heard the word, diaphragm-that part just below your lungs? Though the diaphragm is more related to breathing control, it still plays a role in singing. With breath control, you will be able hold long notes, improve your tone and throw your voice to a larger distance. You need to work from a point where you are able to breathe, not suffocate trying to ensure you stick to your routine. Wake up, take a deep breath, start something, follow through and stay open to the opportunities of the day. Ever wonder why a child’s wail can be heard at a long distance even when its lungs are so tiny? Since as children we do not know the wrong way of breathing our voice resonates and can be heard loudly and clearly. As we grow up we start taking shallow breaths instead of deep breaths. There is no wrong way of doing it- take a deep breath, do it and learn. So catch me outside doing breathing exercises like “Woosaa!”

Wooosaaaah!

Tenuto, Marcato, Staccato, Legato (and Tomato)– according to Wikipedia, in music, articulation is the direction or performance technique which affects the transition or continuity on a single note or between multiple notes or sounds. Those are the first 4 words you see that sound like Greek or is it Italiano. The last word is what happens when all notes are in perfect harmony then I feel the music from my head to-ma-toes. As I plan around my day-to-day routine I know that there are those things I have to cut short and others give more attention. You know so that at the end of the day I don’t spend 10 hours on Facebook and 30 min reading a book or doing my hobby. But the joy of the routine is being able to transition from one point to another- this fights the boredom and monotony. We need the very high impact activities as well as moments of peace and serenity.

The problem is that our emotions, impulsiveness, and impatience all too often overshadow the rhythm. We give way to our thoughts, wants, and needs in an attempt to make things happen in the direction we want them to go or the way someone else does their thing. I know all too well what it means to always try and keep up with the next big thing or person.

Everything in life has a rhythm. Everything cycles. The art of living has much to do with learning to ride the waves. The more hectic life becomes, the more rhythmic our dance must be. Our routine becomes our music. In a busy environment, we may be switching from moment to moment, from one note to the next. The right music requires a great deal of rhythm. Life is a dance. To master it, we must master the rhythm of our lives. Timing is everything.

The stream of our lives is like a dance from morning to evening, month to month, and through the years. To be a good dancer, we must develop rhythm. Though there is some objective component to rhythm, it is mostly composed of feeling. We need to feel the beat of our lives.”

Michael Mamas, Contributor (Huffpost)

I got my first bicycle when I was 7 years old, I think, and because it was my first time cycling I started off with an extra support wheel- a tricycle. But I really wanted to be like the other kids who were doing wheelies, free hands and standing on their bikes as well which meant I had to ditch this third wheel. So during the school holidays, every morning, I would rush outside and start practising. My method was simple: start at the top of a slope and avoid the hedge of bushes at the end of the slope. This meant I had to steer clear of the bush and take control of the bike while balancing on just two wheels. Gravity was my friend and the slope my extra boost. After several crashes into the bush and twigs getting stuck in the chain, I finally got it! The next day after I got my rhythm, I removed the extra wheel and I felt like Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the movie Premium Rush. Nothing could stop me!

The feeling you get when you have done that one thing you wanted to do!

What I had done as a child, most probably subconsciously, is form a habit. I had formed a habit with one goal in mind: have to learn how to cycle. What would I get out of it? Bragging rights. And also another pass time activity- I could join others as well. Now I probably would say it keeps me active, easy way to get cardio done or even run some errands from one point to another. Oh and bragging rights- I can still cycle! These days I have to admit that it’s not as easy to stay true to good habits. In fact, with time there are bad habits that have formed over the years- laziness, procrastination, passivity, falling to peer pressure and some more. You relate? No? Okay. So maybe just be :). I was kind of hoping that if you all related we would sit in a circle and I would say, “Hi guys. My name is Tony. And just like Linkin’ Park, I’m breaking the habit.”

“Consistency is more important than intensity.”
— Christopher Sommer

“What habits can I put into place that will get me to that end goal I want?”
I guess developing good habits has become extremely important to me for my personal growth. The bad habits are hard to break—and good habits can be even harder to form. People hate talking about their own habits, because…it’s hard. That’s why. It’s hard. It’s revealing. It’s obvious proof you’re not as disciplined as you thought you were. That you waste time — a lot of time. You struggle with commitment. You distract yourself out of fear of failure. Every single goal, achievement, award, finished product, deliverable, completed project, and cooked meal requires one thing:
Time.

Enuff said!

How much time will I have to set aside to accomplish it each day? How much time do I spare for this goal? If I don’t have the time required, how willing am I dedicate time towards this? Some tough questions I have to ask myself before I set off on something (including writing this blog regularly). Then identify the specific routine I would have to put in place and habits I need to for this to happen. If the size and immensity of the goal scares you a tad bit, shift your attention away from it and instead focus on showing up and doing your habit every single day. Start and don’t break the chain. If you stick to the process, the results you’re after will inevitably come as a side effect of your effort. Make your habit your habitat.

Root In Routine

Posted: January 11, 2019 in ambition, goals, Life Safe, Lifestyle
Tags: , , ,

Clang! Clang! Clang! (that was the sound of our bell around our sleeping quarters- a long steel rod banged against a vehicle rim). Clang! Wake up and dash to hit the showers. 10 min later and clang! Breakfast. Dash to the dining hall to fill up on a quarter loaf of block bread and wolf this with your barely milk tea within 10 min and then..clang! Back to the dorms and head out to the classes. Did I say ‘head out’ I meant run because by the next clang you should already have been seated at your desk and ready for the day. If you didn’t manage to speed to class dorms and classes were quite far apart) then you probably end up having to do some menial punishment. At my desk, I wiped the sleep I was struggling with and opened a book to look like I’m reading but I knew the truth. We all knew the truth. That before classes started, that’s in two hours, I would fall, as would some of us, to the fate of the Game of Doze. The truth was in the Game of Doze…sleep was coming! “Welcome to the rest of your high school life, Tony!” I told myself.

Things to do today: 1. Get up 2. Survive 3. Go to bed

It’s the end of the four years! We have completed high school and can’t wait to be adults now- for real now as some of us turn 18 years. It feels like a breath of fresh air. To be on your own and beyond the walls and construct of the institution that seemed to curtail your freedom and maybe even livelihood- whatever livelihood looked like at the age of 17 years for me. No more ‘Clang! Clang! Clang’! No more timetable. No more classes on homeostasis, electrons and Newton’s 3rd Law. Anyway, it didn’t matter now- no more routine! Yaay!

Though, is routine all that bad? According to Oxford Dictionary, routine is a sequence of actions regularly followed. A good example would be the former President of the US, Barack Obama, who used to wear identical suits- probably with this Obama’s reasoning was that it made sense to take less time making small decisions and focus on more global issues that I doubt were affected by what color of M&S or Armani he has to adorn. Artists have to take time to practise their skill and this is usually done in an orderly fashion as they continue to hone their art. A sportsman will make sure that they are in shape and attend practice otherwise they could end up being benched. They may be all that out on the field, court or arena but they have to make sure that they are always building their physical capacity, stamina and strength as well.


By rendering aspects of daily life automatic and routine we ‘free our minds to advance to really interesting fields of action'”

William James, psychologist 

Clearly, routine helps us cope with the continual flow of decisions that face us in everyday life- should I shower first? Should I eat this or that? Should I write this email now or later? Should I post this blog on a regular basis? (well, should I?). Rather than having to decide how to live each moment afresh, we can always work with a basic plan. All things held constant, choose whatever we chose before and plan around this making the same choices over and over again. In a sense, it frees our minds to be able to focus on other things and while in this ‘airplane mode’ you are able to come up with other ideas as well.

Routine also lets us to plan our work schedule and any deadlines which need to be met, which means we can be more realistic and set achievable goals. The art of being ‘freestyle’ has that danger of not having anything by the end of the day and being left free but with no style- see what I did there? :). Routine gives you a sort of style of doing things that only you can harness and master. The more you do, the more things will fall into place. It’s so easy to look down on the little bits of energy and time we put into something but it really helps.

Is routine boring, predictable and constraining? or efficient, organized and planned?

Then again, for every good thing, when done in excess it can be toxic. Routine can easily become a prison—especially for some people. For these people, we may even reason that the beauty of good and authentic ideas lies in the unknown. You can’t schedule awesome ideas, and you can’t come up with just the right spark of innovation at just the right time say 11:15 am while in the library. We may feel that we can only do or think of something just within that time. But that’s not the case. The root in routine is to have a blueprint of sorts with which you can construct this building of ideas flowing from every faucet of the construction. Hence routine can be applied to some things and not all. It’s quite subjective and depends on what your priorities are as well. It will be up to you to choose what will have routine and what you would be able to do even without a basic road map. It doesn’t have to be as dull as you think, Jack.

My two or three cents: trying to avoid routine of all kinds would make no more sense than having an aversion to breathing (which is an action we do regularly, right?). It is something we simply can’t live without. This is still something that I am learning and trying to grow in but I’m rooting for routine, how about you?


Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.”

Gustave Flaubert

You may (or maybe not) have heard this quote “Part of the journey is the end” from the trailer of Avengers: End Game, Marvel Cinematic Universe’ action, adventure and superhero sequel, Avengers. At this time, one of the heroes, Tony Stark, at a point of no hope sending out a message to a loved one. The roller coaster of emotions that one feels as Tony makes his last call to Miss Potts is inexplicable. Who would have thought that the “genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist” of a man would be put at the mercies of life’s hurdles and challenges- going without basic needs like food and water. Well, without going too deep into a fanboy’s feelings of a hero movie, let’s move on to the main point.


Tony Stark: Is this thing on? Hey, Miss Potts. If you find this recording, don’t feel bad about this. Part of the journey is the end. Just for the record, being adrift in space with zero promise of rescue is more fun than it sounds. Food and water ran out four days ago. Oxygen will run out tomorrow morning. That’ll be it. When I drift off, I will dream about you. It’s always you.
[he turns off the recording]…
https://youtu.be/ee1172yeqyE
 

So 2018 came to an end- and for sure it was quite a journey. It had its ups and downs, rounds and rounds an spins and curves. We have cried and laughed, loved and lost, fought and been beaten- still came out alive (I hope, yes?). I’m thankful for the year that has been and just how I have been forced to grow from the year’s experiences. We often say we get this “new year, new me” feeling at the start of the year. In contrast, maybe, I feel like every moment I was drowning in a sea of tears and fears and came out on the lifesaver alive- that was a new me! The new me came out when I had a problem to sort out and had to engage every part of my brain to come up with solutions. The new me was out there in 2018, everyday, accepting the things I couldn’t change, having the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference. The new me was changing my mindset and growing up from small boy thinking to big boy reasoning. Yes. 2019 does have the new me, probably the working progress from the previous year. But yes…new me.

“…nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
Benjamin Franklin

When it comes to living out our lives, we each have one life to live. The sure thing we know is that life comes to an inevitable end. Before this existence comes to a halt, say we have choices to make on how to live out our lives. This was the same with the year, 2018. In the course of the year there were choices to be made before the year ended. The same will also happen in 2019…20..21…22…23…you get my drift, right? Say we live our best lives ahead of us making the best choices without being afraid of consequences or waiting for the perfect timing. Yes, there is room for being cautious and weary- but how long before the end comes and it’s too late to do a good deed or say something nice or chase a dream or start working on your mini-project or make an endless list of things that you need to do – like this one;).

2018 came to an end. 2019 began. The end of a year reminds me that each transition, every change from a start to end comes with its own repercussions. So I guess it’s about time for me to take responsibility for my choices, and to pursue my dreams with less fear and hesitation. You want to do something new? You want to go on a trip or adventure? You want to start that business next week or month? There is nothing to be afraid of. Ever. Go for it!

Celebrating New Year’s just one of the ways to remind us of the end- knowing that the new year will also have an end. Thus ends up being a reminder on the fragility of the one resource we have tied to not only our dreams but also family, friends and experience- TIME. Probably with this in mind, it would be easier for me to even untangle bad habits, confront my weaknesses, accept failures, celebrate successes and embrace the curve balls that come my way. The more I think about the end of 2019, like 2018, the more I see more opportunities before the year ends. The brighter the year seems, the more excited I feel within. Why? There is so much potential for an adventure ahead and part of the journey is…

That’s all folks!