education, ethics, inspirational, motivational, Uncategorized

Customer Service

Great Customer Service! In Trinidad that is an oxymoron. However I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised on Monday 5th June.

Image result for customer service

There I was harassed and concerned about obtaining my International Visa Travel Card. I had joined a queue. You know how waiting multiplies times. Well… I felt that I had been there for a long, long time.

Just as I got to the top of the line, from almost nowhere, another bank customer rushed to the counter to “ask a question”. I was so annoyed but I kept my peace and waited to see what would be the outcome.

Thankfully, something wonderful happened. Something I hardly ever witness. The attending clerk very politely informed said customer that there was a line and everyone else was waiting to ask a question also.

I was relieved. I really thought that the person would have gotten through by breaking the line and it was a breath of fresh air to encounter fair customer service.

I got through but ended up having to visit another section in the same branch. Again, as I sat awaiting my turn, a hot and bothered woman rushed to the counter, with the look on her face that she was very busy and needed attending to right away.

There was already another customer at the counter, so I told her that she had to take a seat and wait her turn. Her response? “I just want to ask a question.” Well ‘dearie’ that is exactly what I was waiting to do as well. I shrugged and let her be.

The clerk noticed her standing impatiently in the way and addressed her with a pleasant, “Good morning”. That was her cue to rush in and “ask her question”.

Again I was fortunate to witness another moment of impartiality, rightness, courtesy, integrity…call it what you will, I witnessed it and was so pleased.

The clerk very nicely asked her to sit and wait her turn. She sat next to me and sought a sympathetic ear. I usually do lend such an ear but not this time. I could not condone her actions.

Would you believe that I witnessed yet another such incident mere hours later at another financial situation? My, my I just may have to reassess the level of customer service in Trinidad. It seems that slowly the apparently uncaring servers are evolving into people with a conscience and a kind, considerate and gentle disposition.

Kudos to those two financial institutions. My faith in humanity and goodness was nurtured on Monday.

education, mental health, resilience, Uncategorized

Series of Workshops on Resilience

We all go through rough times.

It may be a loss of job, loss of a loved one through death or breakup, loss of good health, loss of sense of self after a devastating blow or business or examination failure.

Whatever your particular loss may be at this point in time, I have come to realize that there are some basic steps that can help to smooth the transition to a “new normal”.

I recognized a pattern of behaviours to overcome tough times through my own life’s journeys down a rocky road that at one point involved being a survivor of gun violence.

Resilient woman

My third book,”Bounce Back Better, 10(+1) Key Steps for Building Resilience” discusses the steps that all of us need to employ as we traverse this unpredictable, sometimes bumpy life pathway.

 

Out of the third book, I have developed and am developing a series of workshops that will soon be available. The workshops are entitled:

  • Women’s Leadership Workshop: The Resilient Woman
  • Girls’ Empowerment Workshop Series: The Resilient Girl (Ages 12 to 18)
  • Boys’ Empowerment Workshop Series: The Resilient Boy (Ages 12 to 18)
  • Men’s Leadership Workshop: The Resilient Man

The series are 12 part series based on the principles in my book, Bounce Back Better. Each workshop is specifically modified for the the selected audience. The workshops include specially designed workbooks and can be done as half day sessions (12) or whole day sessions (6).

The series :

  • develops definitions of success and resilience,
  • evaluates participants current level of resilience,
  • provides and develops the steps needed for resilience and
  • includes interactive exercises on faith, personal strength, social networks and higher values.

I am planning to host the various workshops online at some point in time and will soon make available an introductory video.

If you are interested in the workshops, online or offline, leave a comment below. You can follow my blog to receive information as it becomes available or leave your email address in the form below.

book launch, bounce back better, education, motivational, Uncategorized

Bounce Back Better

 

Are you at a crossroad in your life? Have you experienced the loss of a loved one or the loss of your job? Did you just go through a defining moment in your life such as a major ill health diagnosis, an accident  or trauma due to a violent attack?

Maybe you are feeling burnt out at work or have a sense of restlessness, like there is something missing.

If you are overwhelmed with uncertainty about the future or if a friend or loved one seems to be feeling like this, then my new book, Bounce Back Better is for you!

This book is highly recommended by Trinidadian educator and education consultant, Raymond S. Hackett. Here is what Mr. Hackett had to say about the book in his foreword:

As an educator for the past five decades and three years, I cannot honestly admit that I have read a book more comprehensive than and relevant to the times as Bounce Back Better 10 (+ 1) Key Steps for Building Resilience.  Inspired by the message and advice which characterise this book, I look forward to an outcome which will cause the general public, magistrates, judges, lawyers, members of the Lower House and the Senate of our Parliament, policemen, doctors, nurses, social workers, probation officers, teachers, particularly secondary school students above Forms One and Two, guidance officers, clinical psychologists, and last but not least advocates of Restorative Justice to read this third book which Caron Asgarali has written. Without doubt, it is prescribed reading for all.

Click on the link below to get your copy of Bounce Back Better, 10 (+1) Key Steps for Building Resilience.

https://www.amazon.com/Bounce-Back-Better-Caron-Asgarali/dp/1504368568

Let me know if you think you need a book like this right now in your life, in the comments below.

 

inspirational, motivational, peace, relationship, Uncategorized

Relationship Tape

What a wonderful metaphor I encountered innocently last week!

One of my students claims that she is very clumsy. This I learnt as I observed that her 12 inch (30cm) ruler was broken and repaired with…scotch tape and her spectacles handles were taped to the frame as they had broken off sometime ago.

As we joked about her clumsiness, a thought hit me. Many things can be broken and repaired simply by applying tape or glue. I myself had broken my cell phone once and repaired it with tape. Many torn pages were held precariously together with tape or staples.

If only it were so simple to mend broken relationships!

Image result for relationship tape

However relationships are formed between living, breathing, emotional beings. We grow into relationships, daily doing things to earn trust, to build rapport, to show support and to demonstrate our love for another human being or for that matter an animal, a pet.

The human ego , the psyche, is extremely fragile. Some more than others. It takes time to forge bonds. They are tested time and time again. And sadly in an instant of volatility, one mistake, one harsh word, one misunderstood emotion or one misstep can cause those carefully crafted to bonds to snap!

Perhaps it is a good thing that this type of breakage is difficult to repair. Had it been easier then less effort and time would be spent on trying to build rather than break down bonds.

What if there was some sort of relationship tape or staple or glue that  could be used to mend a broken relationship or heal a hurting heart?

After we laughed about this direction that our conversation had shifted into, it became clear that there is a way.

Of course nothing worthwhile comes without a lot of hard work. So this “relationship tape” comes through the practices of faith, humility, gratitude and forgiveness.

Each one of those is a huge mouthful for anyone. In today’s technologically advanced world, people have become worshipers of the Universe. Alternatively they claim to be atheists or highly open minded so that anything goes. Faith though is integral in any undertaking. We do things not knowing the final outcomes and that in itself is faith.

Spiritual faith gives us a freedom and strength to be able to release perceived or real hurts and helps us to see the good in spite of the bad. It provides for us a foundation of integrity, morals and values that is needed for the development of civility and social consciousness.

Humility, gratitude and forgiveness come with faith. That does not mean it comes easily. We are human and hence imperfect beings. No matter what our religious persuasion or faith may be, practicing these big guns of character definitions is difficult. Difficult not impossible.

By adopting a humble approach, we can see things with new lenses. We can learn to put others before self. Not easy by any standard but with daily practice it becomes more integrated into our behaviours.

Gratitude makes us cast a backward glance and recognize the good that others may have done for us, even the ones who are currently doing something to bring pain. It makes us see the small efforts, not just the large gestures.

Forgiveness is perhaps one of the most difficult practices. But when we incorporate faith, gratitude and humility into our habits, then forgiveness comes much more easily.

Our “relationship tape” then is formed by the melding together of faith, humility, gratitude and forgiveness.

The next time you mend a torn page or stick a broken ornament, remember that relationships can be mended too…with the right “tape”.

 

inspirational, motivational, public speaking, self help, Uncategorized

I Made A Terrible Mistake

I made a terrible mistake when I mounted the platform to speak officially for the first time. I had been invited by a prestigious insurance company to one of their breakfast morning sessions to end the year at Christmas back in 2014.

I was nervous because I so wanted to impress the person who had invited me to speak. More than wanting to impress him, I did not want to let him down. I also felt that there was a lot at stake here. This was my first speaking engagement. If properly done, it could open so many other doors.

Image result for first speaking engagement clip art

Given the theme for the session, I gave it much thought. I tried to find a unique, pseudo-intellectual opening and angle. I wrote, re-wrote, added, subtracted and just kept changing so many times in an effort to have the perfect speech.

I tried memorizing the speech just a few days before. I knew what I wanted to say. I knew my personal story. But I wanted it to sound exactly the same as I had it written down.

On the morning of the event, I got up early. I dressed in an immaculate white pantsuit with a sky blue vest. My accessories matched the blue of the vest. My hair was well coifed and of course although no one would smell my speech, I sprayed my best perfume that morning.

I thought I looked pretty good, all things considered. I knew I smelt good. I had lost a lot of weight since 2013; it was about twenty pounds or so. The pair of trousers was a bit slack but it did not matter. It fit well and stayed up without a belt.

Anxiously, I packed up the car with copies of my book for sale as well as the roller banner that my mother had given me as a gift at the launch of my first book.

We got there very early. “There” was a local hotel which was very close to the southern coastline in Trinidad. The view was magnificent. The cool morning air was refreshing and eye-opening. The sea was calm and the whole atmosphere was peaceful.

Final arrangements were being put in place as we walked into the hall where the breakfast was being hosted. We were greeted like celebrities. A special seat was allotted to us. There was ample time for the banner and books to be put in place.

Soon enough, the programme started but first we were invited to have breakfast. Breakfast was good I remember but I honestly cannot remember the various items.  As we ate, a couple performed several songs, some local, some oldies not local. I was blown away by how good they sounded and by their performance. Speeches related to the annual insurance performances by the various agents and agencies were next.

Then it was time for the guest speaker…me! I went with my notes thinking that if I forgot or stumbled, I would have the notes to help me back on track. Big mistake. I got up in front everyone and, although I taught for so many years, I somehow got stage fright. I started to read my speech.

Sure I looked up and made eye contact. Sure I ad-libbed to some of my past students in the audience. But that did not change the fact that I read my speech. I knew my story so why did I do that? I must have panicked. I do not know for sure, but that must have been the reason.

I felt that I did not connect with my audience… and I most likely did not. I felt so disappointed with myself. I had let down the gentleman who had invited me. All they needed was a testimony. I went with the wrong approach.

The good thing about making that terrible mistake was that I learnt a valuable lesson. I could plan my speech but I must not read it. I should not even walk with prompts because I may just revert to reading them instead of speaking from the heart.

Since then I have planned my speeches. I know what my message is. I adjust the speech to suit the theme or the audience and then I talk…straight from the heart. I allow my personality to show (just a bit because I am not sure how many can actually handle my personality). I relate with the previous speakers. I make references to current events if relevant. Perhaps the most important thing that I do is to give praise to God in all that I do.

Making that terrible mistake the first time may have prevented any further engagements as a result of that event but, it taught me how to approach future speaking engagements.

gun violence, inspirational, motivational, resilience, Uncategorized

How Victims of Gun Violence Cope

If you were a victim of gun violence, then this blog post is for you. I am reaching out to anyone whose life was drastically affected by an act of gun violence.

My story is told in part on my blog. You may read the older posts. I also wrote a book on my story of survival, pain and healing.

I would like to hear from you if you too suffered as a result of gun violence. I am particularly interested in how you coped, how the healing process is coming along for you and if you are now doing anything that you may not have done if you had not been shot.

The purpose of doing this is to start a blog series with stories from survivors. The intention is to provide stories that imbue hope for others who may be struggling to cope with a desperate situation. Through reading about the overcoming of adversity by others, perhaps someone might be able to make a positive change in their life.

Initially I am focusing on gun violence but I am willing to interview victims of violence generally.

If you are willing to be interviewed so that your story can inspire someone else, please leave a message in the comments below or you may email me at caron_asgarali@yahoo.com

The stories will be published with or without real names depending on your choice. Primary  (actually injured) or secondary (affected but not shot) victims are welcomed.

In my third book, I wrote about the value of deflecting attention away from yourself to help others. It really does work to help you heal when you help someone else. I look forward to hearing from some of you, as we take this leap forward to help others.

Leave a comment in the space below to let me know your thoughts.

book launch, bounce back better, education, gun violence, Uncategorized

A Different Approach to a Book Launch

My third book has been out since December 2016. I have not done, planned nor have I thought about planning a book launch.

This time around things are different. My book is about resilience. The title is “Bounce Back Better 10(+1) Key Steps for Building Resilience.”

It is a follow through from my first book “From Lion to Lamb A Spiritual Journey”.

The first is a memoir based on the incident that changed the course of my life through a severe injury. The third is a self-help book for anyone who has undergone some kind of difficulty and needs encouragement to move forward from that setback.

Both books have come after one act of gun violence. The theme for both books is the same, peacemaking not peace breaking.

Thus after the first book launch which was steeped in formality, planning and structure, I have decided to try a different approach with this third book.

I have put the word out on Facebook that my new book is available. I have my FB page linked to my Balboa Press website. The book is also on Amazon.

In keeping with the theme of the book, I organised an event to launch another of my projects, RARE.

RARE refers to Raising Awareness on the Ripple Effect of gun violence. RARE seeks to raise awareness on the physical, emotional, financial and spiritual effects of of one act of gun violence on the victim as well as those directly and indirectly connected with the victim.

On a deeper level, RARE promotes peacemaking and resilience building.

The launch included four different speakers for each aspect of gun violence. I spoke to pull all aspects together. I did not directly pitch my books but showed the connections between the books and the work being done.

At the event I had all three of my books on display and available for sale. Attendees received a prayer card with one of the prayers from my second book, Gently Powerful Personal Prayers for Collective Grace. Lots of refreshments were available.

 

Critical in this event was:

  1. Ensuring that everyone was clear on their role in the programme.
  2. Having my thoughts well organised before the event day, so that on the day, regardless of any physical setbacks,I was able to clearly communicate to the attendees the purpose of the event.
  3. Having people to handle the distribution of the prayer cards, the sale of the books, the thank you cards and the refreshments. Special thanks to my family and friends.
  4. Sending out much more invitations than the estimated amount of guests.
  5. Having an outline or programme of event so that the evening flowed smoothly.
  6. Outsourcing the refreshments. I already had enough to do without having to worry about preparing refreshments.
  7. Having a good, experienced host for the evening, who was able to hold the fort and bring harmony among the speakers.

There is more but I will leave that for another post.

So a book can be promoted without directly promoting it in a classy way (not that I think I am classy).

Feel free to ask me anything about launching your book.

Uncategorized

The “GAME SHIFTER”

Image result for game shifter meaningYou may have heard of game changers. A game changer is an event, idea or procedure that brings about significant difference in the way of doing, saying or thinking about something.

A game shifter I have learnt is a video game or some such thing involving what looks like a gear shift mechanism.

However I use the term “GAME SHIFTER” in a different way.

My new go to saying is “gradual steps to glorious living”.

What  I mean by this is that by gradually making small changes or shifts in your thinking, lifestyle and actions, you can achieve great rewards.

Sometimes there can be big jumps in your circumstances and results. More often though it is rare to get overnight success.

Even what appears to be a sudden stroke of good luck is usually the culmination of a series of concerted smaller efforts.

The “GAME SHIFTER”  is a collection of key steps for building resilience to help you overcome difficult situations and to promote peaceful living. The steps are discussed in my third book, Bounce Back Better 10(+1) Key Steps for Building Resilience.

Goal Setting

Acceptance Through Grieving

Moment by moment

Exercise and Things Physical

Seek Support

Honour God

I after you

Forgive

Train the Brain

Embrace Giving

Reflect

Glorious living through gradual steps or shifts.

 

 

 

bounce back better, gun violence, motivational, peace, resilience, self help, Uncategorized

R.A.R.E.

Raising Awareness on the Ripple Effect of gun violence. R.A.R.E. GuV

Paving the way toward peace.  

The two statements above are representative of the work I am about to undertake. The actual title and tagline are still being worked on but soon enough I will get there.

This work ties in with the availability of my third published book, Bounce Back Better, 10(+1) Key Steps for building Resilience. The idea for working to combat the forces that drive violent actions was born at a Global Leadership Summit I attended in Trinidad during October 2016.

I had plans to raise awareness of the plight of victims of gun violence prior to that, through the book, and I had a vague concept of what was needed to be done but, attending that summit brought a degree of clarity that was missing.

In this post, on this new page, I give you the rationale for such action and the nature of my stance i.e. a position of action not reaction, not blame. So here goes.

Sunday January 29th, 2017 will mark the fourth anniversary of the day that gun violence made its indelible mark on my life and the lives of many within my inner circles.

There are those who would trivialize such an incident by remarking, “It has been four years after all, move on, forget about it.”

Sadly, though it may be easy to utter such words, anyone with a social conscience will know that path of simply forgetting and moving on is obvious only for the unenlightened. For those who have been through the fires of such an adverse situation, the path forward requires more than physical and emotional healing. Recovery is an ongoing process that demands giving of self to elevate society.

As such I have come to that point in my personal journey where I may now serve by sharing from my experience. The prevalence of gun violence in my beautiful twin island home of Trinidad and Tobago is increasing. It has now become almost the norm to hear reports of yet another fatality or injury through gun violence. In fact the current statistic available at the time of writing this piece, taken  from the Trinidad and Tobago 2016 Crime & Safety Report , reveals that 81% of murders in 2015 were committed by the use of a firearm (https://www.osac.gov/pages/ContentReportDetails.aspx?cid=19522). No figures were available for 2016.

Being a former victim positions me to speak out in favour of peaceful resolutions instead of violent persuasion. The burden of responsibility for raising awareness about the ripple effect of gun violence is squarely cast upon my shoulders.

The position I have chosen to adopt  is not to cast blame or seek to point fingers at anyone. It is not intended to vent anger or frustration against those who choose the use of guns. Instead the purpose is to raise awareness of the ripple negative impact of the use of guns. Through that awareness, the mission is to generate peaceful resolutions and attitudes. The ultimate purpose of R.A.R.E of gun violence is to bring to the forefront the sanctity and value of life and the respect we need to have for individual lives.

The effect of gun violence has already impacted many of our citizens in the past. Perhaps even as you read this, someone else may be affected. It may have indirectly affected you. Who knows what the future holds? Let us not keep assuming it is going to be someone else and their family. Let us strive to add our one drop to the ocean to make a difference. Let us embrace peace and work toward developing our moral, mental and spiritual consciousness as we systematically reinforce our strengths to defeat the kind of environment that breeds violence.

Let us pave the forward peacefully.