Seven Key Questions to Answer Before Publishing OR Writing Your Book

So, you want to become a published author? Congratulations! The world needs to hear your message.

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Whether you decide to go the traditional or self-publishing route, it is a step that must not be taken lightly without due thought, purpose and passion.

By all means, please start as soon as the idea comes to you. But, having the idea to write and an idea of your topic is not enough. There are several things that need to be in place or at least that you need to start putting in place as well.

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Having got to the point of deciding to write, perhaps you may have even started, then you ought to take some time to answer some of the following questions, that is, if you want to pave your way to a successful and sustainable launch.

Seven Questions to Help Guide You on Your Writing and Publishing Journey

  1. Will you be using an ad hoc writing technique or will you work with an outline?                                                                                                                                          Working with an outline helps keep me focused and able to delve deeply enough into each chapter. You may find that it is easier to just write then find order, especially if you are writing fiction. It really is what works better for you.
  2. Do you have deadlines and designated times and places to write?               Having deadlines for each step of the writing process is vital for keeping your manuscript alive.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Without deadlines, you can lose steam and never finish, you can blame writer’s block or you may delay finishing: when will the first draft be completed; set your date for completing the book cover; who will edit, by what date; have a date in mind for submission to the publisher. A good publishing company removes a lot of the heartache associated with self-publishing. You may find a good one here.                                                                                                                                                    Remember that each stage is a process that requires time. My mentor for my first book reminded me that there must be “gestation periods” to allow the product to reach its greatest quality.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Keeping a regular schedule for writing and the kind of place you find conducive to writing motivates you to keep writing. I like quiet. I write best when no one else is around to ask me something or to interrupt my thought process therefore I go at it on mornings or during the day when I am alone.                                                                                                                                                                                                                     But, I also write if I have to wait at, for example, the doctor’s office. Sometimes a change of scenery stimulates your “writer’s gland”.
  3. Who is your target audience?                                                                                                 At this stage, you should begin to plan for your marketing strategy. Actually, if you could have done this before writing, it would be even better.                                                                                                                                                                               Nonetheless, if you have begun to write, it may be clearer to you, the type of reader who would want to read your book. With this in mind, you can adjust your writing style, language and concepts to be more appealing for your target audience.                                                                                                                                                                          Are you writing for young children, for teens, for young adults, older folks, for a specific industry or skill or hobby? These are all important questions to consider.
  4. Where will this type of reader be in cyber space?                                                       This is important because you want to be sure to find yourself in those same places.                                                                                                                                                      You would want to do this so that you can begin to build a relationship with potential readers. After gradually getting to know them and vice versa, you can reveal that you are writing your book.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Take it in increments. First share that you are writing, then what you are writing, then maybe what was your inspiration, maybe share a small portion or a paragraph of what is already done to seek feedback.  By doing this you have begun your marketing and market research.
  5. Where will this type of reader be in the real world?                                       Utilizing the same principles as for the reader in cyber space, you begin to network and build real relationships.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              If you are writing fiction, join local libraries, go to cafes or social networking events  to meet your possible readers.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            If you are a non-fiction writer, visit related clubs, Rotary Clubs, Lions Clubs, Community Centers, Chambers of Commerce, related industry networking events and other such events.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                These will present opportunities to position yourself in front of your target audience, giving you more impact than virtual meetings. Emotions are powerful weapons that can be used for good in the right hands with the right motives. Use this power to foster strong links with your potential readers, thereby building a base of future fans.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Let the anticipation for your soon to be released book build. The greater the anticipation, the greater the positive reception and sales for your book. It will also serve as a motivating factor to help you keep on writing to meet imposed deadlines.
  6. Do you have a written marketing plan?                                                                             I did not at first but soon taught myself how to do one and did it. It may not have been the best plan nor was it done like a professional plan but it was certainly very useful and helped move the marketing successfully along.                                                                                                                                                                                                        A marketing plan must be as detailed as possible, including a description of your ideal reader, goals, action plans, expected outcomes and deadline dates.                                                                                                                                                                              A good idea is to start spreading the word to those who are closest to you, your family members, friends, neighbours, community and then beyond…the sky is the limit. Contact television stations, newspapers, radio stations, related bloggers, podcast interviewers, and get interviews done. Contact the groups with which you began networking. Set up opportunities to spread your book’s message.
  7. Have you brushed up on your public speaking skills?                                            This is extremely important to your success.                                                                                                                                                                                                                            You may be shy, an introvert, have a speech impediment (like me) or just don’t like speaking in large groups. That does not matter. A great part of your marketing will involve you…speaking.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     The better your communication skills, the more effectively you can connect with your readers, the more will be your sales and your fan base will grow at a rapid rate.

There you have it. Seven important steps to take into consideration as you write your book and prepare to launch.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    There are other steps to consider but these are some critical ones. Perhaps if your feedback indicates the need for more info, I will share some more details in a future post.

Have you started to write or do you already have a published book? Leave a comment below to share where you are in your writing journey.


Bounce Back Better Assessment Tool



“Not one day…today”



 Determine Your Suitability for the FREE “Bounce Back Better” Breakthrough Session

How well are you able to recover and thrive after a trial or difficulty in life?

The answer to this question will give you an idea of how resilient you really are.

Resilience is the ability to recover or bounce back from and effectively adapt to life changes and challenges.

Research has shown that “In a remarkable number of cases, those who have suffered and prevail find that after their ordeal they begin to operate at a higher level than ever before. . . . The terrible experiences of our lives, despite the pain they bring, may become our redemption.”

In the past, resilience was thought to be an innate quality that some people had and some didn’t. Today it is accepted that we are all born with a certain level of resilience but the difference is that now we know that resilience can be learnt and developed at any stage in life. That is something for which we can be thankful.

So, what this means is that with some work, each of us can become more resilient and better manage life’s trials and tribulations, our stresses, our problems and any challenges we may encounter.

If you feel that you can be performing at a higher level in any aspect of your life, then you can! Celebrate the resilient aspects you have in place and take action to improve the rest.

Score your resilience by completing the quiz below and, depending on your score, take action by contacting me for your free Bounce Back Better Breakthrough session to see how best to develop the resilience you already have so that you can move from striving to flourishing and thriving.

To have a better understanding of your current resilience, you can take the quiz of 20 questions below, circling the answer that is closest to the truth for you. Count the number of times you answered “yes”. This number will be your score.


  1. I am satisfied with my work and personal life, and feel my life has purpose.  Yes                              No                              Not sure
  2. I have an optimistic perspective on life                                                        Yes                              No                              Not sure
  3. I spend time doing things I like and being with people I care about.                          Yes                              No                               Not sure
  4. I believe that every challenge or problem has a solution and that I can overcome.      Yes                              No                              Not sure
  5. Asking someone for help if I need it is easy for me to do.                                                    Yes                                    No                              Not sure
  6. I have reliable and loving support systems to assist me if things don’t go well.            Yes                     No                              Not sure
  7. My physical health is my responsibility: I exercise, rest, hydrate and eat properly.      Yes                              No                              Not sure
  8. I believe in God, that there is a force more powerful than us.                                            Yes                     No                              Not sure
  9. I  get an average of seven to eight hours of good, restful sleep regularly                        Yes                      No                              Not sure
  10. I am committed to learning new hobbies, reading new books, joining a class etc.        Yes                              No                               Not sure
  11. I am willing to serve others regardless of their status in relation to mine.                      Yes                    No                              Not sure
  12. I am open to new circumstances and welcome change.                                                    Yes                                     No                               Not sure
  13. I am able to forgive those who I feel have hurt me or done wrong.                                    Yes                                     No                               Not sure
  14. If I have done something wrong, I am able to say that I am sorry.                                Yes                                     No                               Not sure
  15. I have goals that I am trying to accomplish.                                                                           Yes                                     No                               Not sure
  16. I allow myself time to feel the pain of problems and difficulties                                      Yes                                     No                               Not sure
  17. Sometimes I just have to let go of thinking about tomorrow and focus on now.            Yes                    No                               Not sure
  18. I make time to reflect on my actions and my day.                                                                  Yes                              No                              Not sure
  19. Even in my difficult times, I try to help others.                                                                Yes                                     No                               Not sure
  20. There are things I do to help me relieve stress.                                                                  Yes                                     No                               Not sure

You can see your resilience rating here.



Bounce Back Better Assessment: Results

Your resilience is dependent on many factors including the number and types of stresses you face at home, at work, at school or in your leisure time. How well you deal with these various problems you may face is what determines your ability to bounce back and thrive after a critical or ongoing difficulty.

If you answered “Yes” to 17 -20 of the questions above, you’re probably a very resilient person. You probably deal well with challenge and adversity. (But since resilient people like to learn, like to explore, like to find out if they are missing out on something then you may still want to read my book “Bounce Back Better”).

If you answered “Yes” to 12-16 of the questions, you’re probably a pretty resilient person. But there may be parts of your life where you could become more resilient. The GAMESHIFTER in my book “Bounce Back Better” can provide positive steps you can take and skills you can acquire to help you feel stronger, overcome adversity and become more in control of things. You may still claim your free breakthrough session by messaging or calling me at 1-868-370-4086.

If you answered “Yes” to eleven or fewer of the questions, you may be feeling overwhelmed or under a lot of stress, and these feelings may be affecting your ability to bounce back. You will benefit from a free Bounce Back Better Breakthrough session with me and together we can determine if you can work with me through the GAMESHIFTER as outlined in my book, “Bounce Back Better” to improve in the game of life.

Take action to move successfully into the next phase of your life. Call or message me at 1-868-370-4086.

Get your copy of Bounce Back Better here.

Seven Good Reasons for Setting Goals

Back in 2012 I had a new Form Class, a bunch of high-energy, lovable Form Four students, ranging in age from 14 to 16 years old. These kids needed direction and guidance to maximize their capacities.

I used to read for them every morning from a small book on Goal Setting, after which we would discuss why it was important. Of course the discussions were always vibrant although they seemed to be on the brink of falling asleep as I read.

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When I was trying to re-define myself after the 2013 incident, I appreciated the importance of goal setting even more than I had before. My time frames were significantly smaller now: I was close to fifty and trying to start rebuilding a life. At the same time, things that seemed monumental and important before diminished in stature in the shadow of the great hurdle I had just surmounted. So I was in a rush but no longer believed in rushing. What a dilemma!

To reduce the feeling of overwhelm when I set out to launch my first book, I set goals for every stage of the publishing process. I had a deadline for finishing the actual writing, for the editing, for submission of the manuscript, for reviewing/proofing, for book covers, and for the launch.

Did I stick rigidly to every deadline? Of course not. That would have been impractical. The idea was to have the deadlines or goals to help guide the process with the least amount of stress and worry, to eliminate the feeling of overwhelm.

So how does setting goals help you to achieve objectives?

Seven good reasons for setting goals are:

  1. You have a clear idea of where you want to get to or what you want to be or do.
  2. You develop a plan or system for getting things done.
  3. You can focus on activities that will be useful to achieving your purpose.
  4. You can eliminate activities, things or, sad to say but true, people that distract you from your purpose.
  5. You can slip up but still get back on track easily to accomplish whatever you want.
  6. You can acquire the things that will help you to achieve.
  7. You can fill your circle with supportive persons.

Edwin Locke proposed a Goal Setting Theory in the 1960s. This theory addressed motivation and stated that the achievement of specific and challenging goals coupled with appropriate feedback led to better task performance.

Essentially it stated that having clear, specific and challenging goals on the job is a great motivator for getting things done. It provides a means of developing self-efficiency which in turn prompts greater effort for more demanding tasks. There appears to be a greater chance of completing a job if goals are set as this seems to result in goal commitment.

In other words, there are some basic principles involved in goal setting that assist in getting things done.

There are many proponents for SMART Goals.

The acronym SMART has several slightly different variations, which can be used to provide a more comprehensive definition of goal setting: 

S – specific, significant, stretching

M – measurable, meaningful, motivational

A – agreed upon, attainable, achievable, acceptable, action-oriented

R – realistic, relevant, reasonable, rewarding, results-oriented

T – time-based, time-bound, timely, tangible, trackable

This broader definition will help you to be successful in both your business and personal life.

When you next run a project take a moment to consider whether your goals are SMART goals.

Another important point to keep in mind is that we need to set goals for every aspect of our lives. We can do this by noting what we want to achieve personally in terms of a relationship, family, a home, a car, academic qualifications, a career and a hobby for example.

These would be long term goals. The next step would be to break them down into a series of smaller tasks that must be completed to accomplish the final goal. These could be medium or short term goals. The short term goals can then be broken down into many smaller parts called action steps that can be taken daily to accomplish each short term goal.

As we cross off action steps and short and medium goals, along with feedback from self and others, we become motivated and encouraged to continue with completing the ultimate long term goals. That feeling of satisfaction as little steps are crossed off acts like a boost to keep us going.

What I have learnt along the course of my life is that before we can fully achieve any objective though, we need to do self-assessments. We need to know what we have already, what we don’t have, what can be used to help us and what can hold us back from accomplishing as we should. This is a SWOT analysis of self to determine strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

In these turbulent times it is easy to overlook doing this as many other things appear more urgent. It may seem unnecessary to do such a self-analysis but the benefit of doing it is tremendous.

The GAMESHIFTER covers all of this and more in the first letter/chapter. The book, Bounce Back Better can be optimized by using it in conjunction with the accompanying handbook (still to be published) along with a group session.

But in the meantime, remember to set your goals for the new year that is just around the corner.



This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”                                                                                             2 Timothy 3:1-5 KJV



In Trinidad and Tobago, the onset of the Christmas season is heralded with parang. Parang is our local Christmas music with Amerindian, Spanish and African influences. Originally, groups of singers and musicians would visit houses in their communities performing their parang renditions; this is similar to the North American tradition of caroling. The sweet sounds of paranderos ( those who perform the parang) and the cool night breeze were indicative that it was time to begin Christmas preparations.

Image result for trini christmasImage result for trini christmas

Soon neighbours would be busy trying to outdo each other: cleaning their yards and their homes; windows would be washed; fences would be painted; shopping for and sewing of curtains would be completed; and an air of anticipation and excitement would waft through the countryside. In the old days, the night before Christmas would be the time to change curtains and do all baking. A sure sign of Christmas day would be the heady aroma of ham and turkey mixed with the spicy, sweet fragrance of sweet bread and black cake( Trinidad Fruit Cake).

Then there is the pastelle, that savoury appetizer consisting of highly seasoned minced meat (either chicken, pork or beef traditionally) encased in a corn meal patty. The sight of banana or “fig” leaves being cut is a giveaway that pastelles are being made.

Also around this time of the year, market stalls are laden with the rich crimson or dark red sorrel flowers. These are in high demand as the sepals of the sorrel flowers are used to make a deliciously refreshing drink. The sepals are mixed with a variety of spices including cinnamon, clove, orange peel and ginger and all are boiled together and allowed to steep overnight to develop full flavor. The intoxicating bouquet produced by this blend of sepals and spices is an undeniable indication of the Christmas season.

There is no snow to bring in the wonder of the Christmas season in our tropical isles but there are many titillating precursors which alert the senses of the approaching event. We have the house cleaning and painting; the parang; pastelles, ham and turkey, fruit cake and sweet bread;and the drinks – sorrel, ginger beer and punch de creme. The season for exchanging gifts is always expected and most people, Christians and non-Christians, are prepared when it arrives.

There have been major events which have changed the course of history throughout the years. The biblical incidents with Moses and Noah saw the freedom of the Israelites from Egyptian rule in the first case and the destruction of the earth by water in the second case. In both these incidents there were warnings and signs. Those who heeded the warnings were prepared. Those who chose to ignore them were destroyed.

There were the wars, the first and second World Wars, the Depression and many other events of lesser magnitude. In all cases there were signs of impending change. For example, the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, who was the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, by an ethnic Serb, turned out to be the precipitating factor of World War I.

However, the existing military, political and economic climate at that time provided clues that all was not well and that soon enough there would be some disastrous event. Nations such as Russia, Germany, Britain, Italy Austria-Hungary and France were desperate: for control; to be in possession of strong armies for power and pride; to be regarded as the best nation; to form alliances so that less powerful nations could have protection against more powerful nations.

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We are fortunate to have access to a manual which contains the signs of the times in which we are living. We are told that there is no way to know the exact time of the next momentous time in our history but there are definite signs of its approach. That manual is the Bible. Throughout both the Old and the New Testament there are references to the signs of the times. We are warned to live so that we are prepared at any time for the next coming of our Lord and Saviour. Many scoff at this but that also is a sign of the times.

Let us examine what is meant by signs. Let us look at different references to the signs of the times in the Bible and see if we know why we ought not to ignore those signs. What do the signs say and what happens if we choose not to pay them any attention?

One of the meanings for the word “sign” is that it is something which tells us of some event that has happened or that may happen. Signs may be real or virtual. A sign may be literal such as a traffic sign indicating “no entry” or “no parking”. Alternatively a sign may be a visual change such as a change in the sky from clear, blue to grey indicating the possible occurrence of rain. Many times when we are confused or worried we turn to God for a sign, not really knowing what to expect. However God has provided signs throughout the ages and He has provided signs even for the present times and for future generations that may come.

In the Bible there are many occasions of strife or concern when signs from God either provided a solution or gave a warning or indicated how we ought to live. Some of these signs are from the Old Testament; some are from the New Testament. To ignore the signs written in scripture is to err, for then we will not be familiar with the ways of God nor will we be able to discern when He signals to us.

One very powerful scriptural reference is linked to signs which may abound during the end times or as the second coming of the Lord is expected. It states as follows:

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;

Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”

2 Timothy 3:1-5 KJV

This compelling and poignant piece of scripture has to be read and understood in context. Previously Paul had been telling Timothy that God’s servants have no need to fear any attacks against them. In this particular reference, Paul proceeds to enlighten Timothy of the impending threats and peril that he may face and that he has to be prepared for such grave danger.

In the first verse, Paul speaks of the “last days”. Many commentators speculate that this refers to the second coming of Christ. Still other commentators are uncertain as to what precisely is meant by the term “last days”.  That time is not specified, neither is the hour nor the day nor the year known by any, except the Father Himself. However, what Paul is highlighting is that there will be indications, occurrences and events which will become more prevalent as that time approaches to act as beacons to those who are aware of them, ensuring that they live in accordance with God’s instructions.

The next few verses are related in simple, plain terms, directly stating what signs will indicate the presence of false teachers and false doctrine. Verse 2 speaks of valuing self above God and parents and your neighbor. It conjures an image of an ungrateful being, unholy and full of conceit.

Verse 3 develops that imagery of aggression, selfishness and unrighteousness while verse 4 reveals that the pursuit of pleasure will overcome pursuit of God and all that is godly. Verse 5 sums it all up: there will be a form of godliness but it will be based on false teachings, not completely submitting to God’s will; it is a form of godliness which seeks to justify its own selfish beliefs and pursuits. At the end of verse 5 is the important message to those who are willing to heed the signs: stay away from those who interpret the scripture to suit their own agendas; stay away from the hypocrites and their carnal pleasures.

Essentially the signs do not tell of when the last days are but they become more pronounced as those days approach. Whether it is the end of the world or the second coming of the Messiah, the times will become increasingly perilous or difficult. Specifically Paul is not referring to trying economic times or times of natural disasters, but times when evil will abound. He is telling of times when many charismatic persons will arise, who will speak corrupted doctrine in dulcet tones and will lure the simple minded and the desperate into their own nefarious ways.

It will be easy for anyone to inhale the alluring fragrance emitted from the metaphorical crimson sepals of those beguiling yet pernicious men. Their words and intentions are dripping with the syrup of deceit set to capture naïve, misinformed souls. However there is hope! The signs of these men are clearly detailed for those who take the time to read the scriptures and who are willing to place their trust in the Lord’s word.

There are instructions for what is acceptable in life and there are instructions for what is to be avoided. Let us be wise and discerning; let us not be lovers of self, man and pleasure but rather be lovers of God and righteousness so that when the time which is unknown arrives we will be prepared having lived our live according to His word and having heeded the signs.

The signs of the times are all around,

Evil, deceit and treachery abound.

Read the scripture for there you will learn,

Instructions in righteousness, to prepare for His return.



God’s words and my actions:

Today I will use every opportunity to be strong in God’s word by:

Knowing the scripture so that I can exercise wisdom and discernment in my encounters with those who claim to teach His doctrine.


Thank you Lord, Amen!

Book Review of From Lion to Lamb

Here is the first professional review of my book, From Lion to Lamb, A Spiritual Journey.

Dr. Glenville Ashby and I met at a Qi Gong workshop just over a month ago.

That morning was one that, for me, was filled with pain. I woke up to find my pet cat, Pretty, dead in the middle of the road. It was such a sad and rainy day. I remember it clearly.

WhatsApp Image 2018-09-03 at 10.31.09 PMStill one has to do what one has to do. I removed the poor kitten’s body and disposed of it properly even as tears flowed incessantly.

But to go back to the main story, my mum and I attended an all day health and wellness workshop organized by her Cancer Support Group. This was just the therapy I needed to ease the pain of the morning’s tragedy.

Several Qi Gong sessions were facilitated by Dr. Ashby.

Dr. Ashby revealed at some time in the day that he reviewed books for the Jamaican Gleaner and suggested that I could send the link to my book for him to review. I was not overly enthused as my heart was still heavy with the loss of my loved one but I took note of what he said.

Sure enough, days later he contacted me, indicating that the book was already on the way to him. I forgot all about it until yesterday when he sent the link to me.

Here is the link to the review that appears in the Jamaican Gleaner.

If you do take the time to read the review, accept my gratitude in advance. Let me know your thoughts on the review and if you like it then do visit the Amazon site to purchase your own copy of my book.

Tell me do you think you can forgive if you are violently attacked and left almost dead?

7 Steps for Lifelong learning

The battles that count are the invisible ones inside all of us.

Many of us face battles everyday. Not the battles we see in the movies or have read about in history books.

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Instead we face battles of internal conflict, depression, anxiety and the need to move from where we are to where we feel we want or need to be.

Of course, sometimes these battles require more resources to overcome than we already have. What this means is that in some cases, we need to seek professional help, medical or psychological therapy.

If however, we are able to manage our battles without professional assistance, then there are things we can do on our own to combat them and earn victory.

I am sharing with you today seven ways in which you can take control of the reins and steer your life in the direction you want it to move by indulging in continuous learning.

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Step 1           Engage yourself in activities

By occupying yourself in productive, creative or positive activities, you can counteract the internal emptiness that accompanies frustration, loneliness, sadness or any other struggle.

This works by not giving your brain the time to indulge in those negative feelings. While the feelings do not necessarily go away, they are temporarily shelved until moments of weakness, and eventually may even just drift into nothingness.

Be careful though that the activities are in fact uplifting and do not require you to focus too much on yourself and your feelings.

Step 2           Take up a challenge

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Challenge here is not the Facebook challenges that become viral. No, this is a personal challenge. Something that you probably always wanted to do but never made the time for it. Or perhaps it is something you felt you could never do.

This could mean going on a hike. I recommend a hike to Mermaid Pool in Trinidad. It could be learning to dance; this is a real challenge for me, I simply do not dance. There are numerous dance classes offered throughout our tiny island as I am sure there are throughout the world.

Here in Trinidad, Latin dance is very popular, as is Zumba. Two great forms of recreation and exercise, neither of which I have really given a go. Maybe one of these days I will join a class.

Step 3          Learn a new skill

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The job market is in dire need of skilled individuals. Persons who can do tiling, plumbing, construction work, sewing, make up and the list goes on.

You can enroll in a class to learn or go along with an expert as an apprentice. Becoming skillful in a new field, even if not expert at it, helps to build confidence. This in turn helps you to move past the battles that we spoke about.

With every new technique learnt, comes a sense of accomplishment.

But more importantly, it positions you more highly on the job market. You now have acquired something of value that can be monetized if you so choose.

Be aware of your limitations and your passions. Do what you will want to pursue without giving up. Don’t undertake a mission that makes you feel that you are incapable and that you may want to quit before completing.

Step 4          Do a short course

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Engaging the brain in other activities could include doing short courses such as journal writing, book writing, how to do taxes, landscaping, accounting, learning a foreign language or so many other options.

You are not too old or too young to do a short course. The benefits are that you focus on the learning and gain a certificate of completion or participation at the end. It can help to make you more marketable as well and of course you can be more self-reliant.

Don’t limit yourself to one type of course. Spread out your learning. Take up different types of courses. Keep enrolling and learning.

Step 5           Adopt a new hobby

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Yes, this is a good one. Go and start doing something you love that is not for income generation but just for fun.

I like to run so that is what I do on evenings or some mornings. Truth is that as I have gotten older, I find it a little more difficult to get up on mornings early enough to run before it gets too hot. Regardless of when I run, I do run.

You can start so many different hobbies. I prefer those that involve some form of physical activity, such as cycling, swimming, gardening… But it can be reading, painting, photography, soap making or anything you want.

This acts like a carrot on a stick. You anticipate doing your hobby with great pleasure. You replace the negativity by feel good hormones. Your battle becomes a distant memory.

Just ensure that injury is minimized for the physical activities otherwise this could set you back more than when you first started out.

Step 6          Travel

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Travelling to different places in the world is great. But you can be a local tourist too and still glean lots of benefits. I am sure you do not know everything about your location and may never have been to all the nooks and crannies in your country.

If you cannot physically travel to your destination, then do so virtually. The internet is a great place to travel. You can see the beauty of new places and learn about different traditions, locations, people and cultures, all at the reduced price of your internet provider!

There is safety too in not physically going. You are certain not to slip close by the Niagara Falls or to be confronted by gangs in such areas.

Step 7             Reflect

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This is such a powerful tool. It is a pity that more persons do not make use of it. This is not just rehashing or rehearsing. This is deeper.

Reflection involves a careful examination of events in your life on a particular day or time. You think about what happened, how it made you feel, why you felt or responded in a certain way and what you can do to improve how you reacted or what lesson was learnt.

This is not for the faint-hearted and requires some practice and guidance initially. Continued use of this technique can bring about great results.

There we have it – seven steps for life long learning that are simple and, in some cases, fun to implement: engage in activities; take up a challenge; learn a new skill; do a short course; adopt a new hobby; travel; reflect.

Remember this list is not exhaustive. There are other ways, these are just seven of those ways.

What have you done lately to pursue the path of continuous learning?



10 (+1) Key Steps for Pushing Past the Pain

What is Pain? More precisely, what is emotional pain?

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The image above shows the pathway for how we perceive physical pain. The pathway for emotional pain is different but can produce equally or even greater effects, including physical effects.

How then do we define something so intangible yet so real and so harsh as emotional pain?

Just like me, I am sure you too have had numerous painful experiences. Some are much easier to get over than others. Some just have to be worked out of the system over time. Regardless, there are steps that we all can take to help us push past the pain when it feels like it will never subside.

To get back to the definition of this “pain”, I think it is best to define it by example.

A few days ago, I lost my best friend. I felt as though the external atmospheric pressure had suddenly shot up so high that all the air was forced out of my body! How could I move, eat, talk, laugh, go out or even think anymore?

A void that seemed to be abysmal was created by this loss.

This is what “pain” is: that hollowness; the emptiness; the dull,constant ache; the ennui; all this and much more is what makes up the pain.

When the proverbial rug was pulled out from under me five and a half years ago, I felt that pain like I had never felt it before. I lost almost everything that I had for the first forty seven years of my life. Thankfully I still had my son, my mother and my brothers.

My life was shattered. My face was shattered. My career path was shattered. My emotional reference points were shattered. I was at a loss.

Many persons, including my relatives and friends (and perhaps even me) felt that was the end of my life. And it was. It was the end of the first part of my life.

It was also the beginning of my second chance at life.

Slowly, the “pain” was used to push forward. Step by baby step. Systematically I dragged myself out of the pit of despair.

The physical damage was done. What God had made and man had tried to destroy, no man could remake as He had done. I had to grow to accept this new me. The acceptance came as gradual changes took place, both in my appearance and in my thinking.

The financial damage was staggering for a divorced mother of one, with both a home mortgage  and vehicle loan to repay and savings diverted to reconstructive and plastic surgery. All this compounded by no more steady salary from teaching in a public school as I had been called before the medical board and accepted retirement on medical grounds. I am still in the process of overcoming this obstacle but it is getting easier day by day.

Then there was the big one. The emotional hurdles that could pose a challenge for even the best “Olympian”. The hardest part for me was to put on a bright face for everyone around me. They seemed less able to accept what had happened than I was. I could not let them be hurt further by seeing my own hurt and pain.

How could I explain to anyone the confusion in my mind? I no longer knew who I was. Prior to the incident, if anyone asked, “Who is Caron Asgarali?” I think I could have answered. I might have said that she is a teacher, a mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend, a runner…But now, I was unsure.

I questioned if I really even knew who I was before. Everything that was real now seemed unreal. I felt that there was nothing I could do and no one to whom I could turn (except my God).

I felt unworthy. Unworthy to be around people and for them to want to be around me. I felt defeated and insecure; incapable of doing anything. I wanted to not be anymore. And, I could not verbalize it to anyone.

There were no thoughts of suicide. I had come to understand that it was not yet my time, so I had to wait.

Within that waiting, in the midst of all that darkness, far away in the distance, was a hint of light. Very dim light but light nonetheless.

I searched out that light and kept it in my focus like an overboard passenger holding on to the remnant of a Styrofoam container that now pollutes the oceans; holding on to stay afloat.

Out of that darkness I was slowly drawn. Picking up the pieces of my life, putting each delicate piece back into its slightly distorted space, to move closer to the clearing, out of the darkness.

In retrospect, there were some key elements that helped me to push past that pain and begin an upward spiral to the second phase of my life – a phase that seems to have more meaning, greater focus and more gratification at the very least.

This phase is trademarked by turbulent economic, moral and spiritual times. The blood of our countrymen, whatever is our country, seeps unceremoniously into news feeds, blog posts, Twitter and Instagram.

Values and morals, respect for life, compassion, empathy, consideration, forgiveness, mercy, love and peace are foreign concepts for many of the younger generation.

Our people seem to be unable to push past pain and thrive successfully and harmoniously. From my perspective, it seems to be each man (and woman) for himself (herself).

Fortunately, my life lessons have taught me that where there is hurt, there is always hope and that we can learn to transform that hurt into hope.

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No matter who you are,  what your background is, what you have done or where you have been, the pain that you are feeling, the pain that is holding you back from achieving your best life yet, from fulfilling your purpose, that very pain is what you can use to help propel you forward.

It is not going to be easy but there is a systematic way in which it can be done to help with the process of stepping on your pain to get to a better place.

I used the process and it helped me to publish three books since the incident, to begin promoting peace and to run my first half marathon! (that is not me in the picture!)

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I will share the steps I followed and still do follow after every setback. I grouped them into four categories. There are 10 (+1) steps in the four categories. The +1 came about as an afterthought when I was doing that +1 step! Funny to me as it would be for you, if I was saying it out loud to you!

Here goes:

The four categories are:

  1. Emote (steps 1-3)
  2. Stay Afloat (steps 4 and 5)
  3. Devote (steps 6-8)
  4. Promote (steps 9 and 10)

Step 11 or 10(+1) applies to all four categories.

The 10 (+1) steps for pushing past the pain are:

  1. Goal setting
  2. Acceptance
  3. Minute by Minute living
  4. Exercise and well being
  5. Support
  6. Honor God
  7. I after you (humility)
  8. Forgiveness
  9. Training the brain
  10. Embrace giving

10 (+1). Reflection

Put them all together they spell GAMESHIFTER! Appropriate is it not?

The system is elegant yet simple, familiar and very powerful. Shift your game for success. Not gamechanger. That implies a sudden and drastic transformation that requires little or no effort.

GAMESHIFTER however implies slow, manageable effort in a methodical manner that brings about lasting, meaningful change.

If you feel like you are surviving instead of striving then the practices and action steps that I use in the GAMESHIFTER can help you.

Take a look at my book, Bounce Back Better 10 (+1) Key Steps for Building Resilience, see if you think you can relate to it as a sister, a mother, a daughter, an employee, an entrepreneur or someone who has lost a best friend. Let me know in the comments if you can.



The Power Within

I remember speaking at a meeting organised by the Association of Female Executives of Trinidad and Tobago a few years ago. At that meeting, the energy was palpable!

In the presence of so many independent women, women of intellect and influence, I was elated to be sharing with them. Being with them reminded me that the driving force behind meaningful transformation has always been an intricately woven matrix created by the coming together of women of varying ages, attributes and actions.

Women can choose to be supportive of each other or they can choose to bring down other women.

Repeatedly, history has shown that women who build up others have so much more influence than those who seek to destroy.

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We have the power to transform nothing into something. We can guide others to paths of success. We hold the necessary keys to destabilize negativity and lead people through our positive energy.

Women exude love, if they want to, if they choose to, if they know what it is because they love God and themselves.

After a lifetime of trials and challenges, I have learnt to love myself as I am. I recognize my faults and work at my strengths.

I know that I cannot be everything to everyone and that no matter what I do, there will be others who choose not to like my actions or what they perceive to be my actions.

However, there are many women, even professional women, who are doing well enough but, who know within themselves that they are capable of so much more.

Somehow it is not always clear exactly what has to be done to move from one level to another, either in  your professional life or in your personal life.

Sometimes it happens by chance; sometimes it happens just because you have been at it for a long time.

Sometimes it happens as a result of committed, focused and intentional work, not looking for anything but to make a vision a reality.

There is a method for turning visions into reality and it requires some knowledge, some sweat, faith and a little good luck.

For me that method became clear when I was recovering from one of the major challenges in my life. I had struck ground zero. I had to re-define every aspect of my life.

By steadfastly holding on to a vision of a brighter future, by knowing what I wanted out of the rest of my life, by discovering my purpose and then focusing efforts in that direction while maintaining a degree of practicality and engaging in some calculated risk, I was able to transition from a very dark place into a brighter space and time.

The GAMESHIFTER, a system I realized, only in hindsight, that I used, provides some valuable steps for helping anyone who feels stuck or who is having a hard time getting over a life hurdle.

What is significant is the emphasis placed on faith. Faith is the central pillar of the GAMESHIFTER.

Some of the great scientific minds in history have accepted that there is a greater force, a higher being. Even Albert Einstein.

Faith is intangible but with it anything is possible. Faith does not preach religion. It is a simple of act of trusting that there is a God that cares about you and that needs you to love Him, to love yourself and to love others.

A person with a weapon feels powerful but a person armed with love for humanity is  dynamic and potent, capable of transforming rather than destroying.

Are you poised to make a powerful transformation in your life? Do you know how to move out of that place in which you have been stuck for a while?

Are you ready to take a leap of faith and use proven steps to help you out of your zone?

Leave a comment and share with me what you think is keeping you back from experiencing your greatest life yet!








How Many More?

This was a post I wrote on Facebook. It addresses the excessive criminal activity we are experiencing in Trinidad and Tobago.

When will it end? It will begin to end when each of us average citizens say it will end, in one collective, loud voice.

When will it end? When the State recognizes that an intervention is needed, one that involves definitive action and courage; one that is not dictated by a political agenda but by a human one.

When will it end? When the “leaders” of our beloved country recognize that the population is not just a bunch of statistics to be bandied about like a trophy. Each one of us counts. Hurt one, hurt many.

When will it end? When greed for money, status and power no longer are the driving forces of policies and actions of those in authority.

When the “higher ups” can develop higher qualities, such as empathy, that many of the rest of the population possess;

when they realize that the blood of innocents are staining their hands and they wash in futility like Lady Macbeth;

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when we COME TOGETHER, in large enough numbers, to clamour for more arrests, more convictions, more police presence, maybe a state of emergency in designated areas or nationwide, for faster and more effective justice, for more…

when we, each one of us, stop going about our activities as if things are normal, not filled with violence and bloodshed, and respond to calls for support by groups that are willing to fight on our behalf.

Our government needs to feel it, and feel it hard enough it seems, before they stop pretending that things are getting better. They need to know that this is no longer about votes, race, power or money.

This is about life and death. This is about a people under siege by criminal elements. This is about losing human capital, losing international confidence and respect, losing loved ones and motivation.

This is about a hurting population, one whose tears are not sufficient to remove the stain of red on our nation.

This is about children growing up in an atmosphere of conflict and violence even as those who should protect and provide, fight for material things.

This is about depriving the future generation of their childhood, innocence, right to education, safety, and creativity.

This is about providing lessons of surviving surrounded by violence, bloodshed and other criminal activities. What will be learnt???

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The reverberation of firearms seems to have shaken the grey matter of our decision makers or made them deaf to the cries of a nation in pain!

Is the transient gain of new vehicles, travel and job opportunities, fame and fortune worth the sacrifice of our people?

The people of Trinidad and Tobago are crying out for solutions, for an ease of this pain.

As I did in a previous post, I end with the words of the Mighty Duke, “HOW MANY MORE MUST DIE? HOW MANY MORE?” and I add, since it is not just murders but all types of criminal attacks, how much more of this madness must we endure before action is taken?