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.

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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.

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.

A Bit About Gunshot Wound Mechanisms

The penetration of a projectile(bullet or fragment) into tissue is categorized as a special form of blunt trauma.
 
A gunshot wound consists of:
  • tissue penetration,
  • crushing and rupturing of tissue,muscle, capillaries, nerves and bones(depending on size and density),
  • the formation of a primary cavity or more accurately a permanent wound tract or channel,
  • the formation of a secondary cavity and
  • for close range shots, greater injury as a result of the blast effect from the bullet’s propellant gases. If the bullet is retained, tissue burning takes place.
 
The movement of the projectile through tissue follows fluid dynamics, a complex engineering topic. The immersed projectile is considered to be moving forward with surrounding tissue “flowing” around it.
The chances of survival depend on the nature of the injury. This in turn depends on how deep was penetration, the type of gun and bullet, the distance, the type of tissue into which the bullet entered, the degree of “yawing” and tumbling of the bullet as well as the amount of blood lost before the victim is treated.
Here is an illustration of the mechanism of a bullet wound for one type of bullet.
figure8

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.

 

 

 

Violence… a learned behaviour

aggressive-violent-behavior-nature-or-nurture

The response of violence to conflict is, to some extent, a learned behaviour. This statement includes gun violence.

It comes from a place of fear of being a target, fear of living daily with the threat of gun violence and fear of not conforming. That is a lot of fear.

Even before a crime takes place, guns, and the accompanying violence, play a significant part in the lives of those in communities with a reputation of violence.

The outcome of such fear and learned violent behaviour is a lack of respect for the value of life, individual, community and national life.

Those who suffer directly or indirectly from the effects of gun violence all reach to the same place emotionally and mentally.

This congruence of feeling and thought creates a hopeful opportunity. It ought to become the catalyst that gives us the will and courage to address the gun violence that is becoming a part of our daily life.

Religious leaders are casting blame on the lack of coherence of family units for the increasing violence in society.

Alternatively a family may be unified but their environment and learned responses of violence precludes the teaching of respect for anything including life.

One leader has included the availability of drugs and weapons as well as the existence of gangs as factors contributing to the rising violence and incidences of gun related crimes.

All of these are true. The reasons are valid and relevant.

However my aim (no pun intended) is not to cast blame or vent anger or frustration against the system or the perpetrators of violence.

Instead my aim is to amplify the message of the sanctity of life and the kind of respect each one of us needs to have for the life of another.

With every pull of a gun trigger, there emerges a bullet that may hit a living target.

That bullet may penetrate through tissue, tendons, nerves, muscles and bones causing physical damage in the immediate area.

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The kinetic energy of that compact piece of lead disseminates to surrounding organic matter causing further damage not immediately visible.

Similarly, that same bullet penetrates the psyche of the victim and his or her family, friends and associates, tearing their lives apart emotionally, spiritually, mentally, financially and in other ways.

The ripple effect of that nucleus of destruction is far reaching and has no time limits.

The learned behaviour of violence in response to conflict can be unlearnt. New, more peaceful responses can be learnt which lead to greater respect and harmony.

Your response?

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.

Bounce Back Better

My third book is now available online. I have included a link below. Take a look and let me know what you think.

Bounce Back Better

Bounce Back Better

For those of you who are interested in self-publishing or independent publishing, look out for some posts soon.

Those who are looking for different ways to launch a new book, I will keep you updated.

Thank you for your support.

Let me know, in the comments below, what particular questions are troubling you about the publishing process or about a launch. That way I can tailor my post to your needs.

Leaving you with my special brand of sunshine for now.

Today is World Mental Day, 2016 and there has been a host of information coming at me from the newspaper, Facebook posts and a Radio programme.

For the first time I delved into the pages of activists for mental health. I am amazed and impressed by the few I have had time to look at for today only.

I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in 2013. I accessed excellent psychological, medical and social support, through the public system, friends and family.

Truth be told though, upon careful examination of my life, I think I may have been experiencing bouts of depression for a much longer time than I can recall.

Over the years I can recount many, many occasions when my thinking was fuzzy and there was mental fog.

I would be hard on myself, always believing that I was just anti-social. Anti-social, because I would avoid going out, refuse to answer telephone calls and generally withdraw from many activities.

Activist/comedian based in the United Kingdom, Ruby Wax, likes to quote that  1 in 4 persons are suffering with some form of mental illness and, in the same breath, suggest that the figure is really 4 in 4. In other words, almost all, if not all, of us have some degree of mental problem.

Image result for mental health

If those figures are to be believed, then there are several implications with which we need to deal. I will focus on just one for today’s post.

If so many of us are ailing in this aspect of our lives, then we should be more compassionate toward each other. All of us are hurting, why do we need to add to that hurt by placing negative labels?

The stigma of a diagnosis associated with mental health is real. It is so real, that many are unwilling to admit it even to themselves. It is so real that it is a flowing source for comedic relief.

We do not hear of jokes about heart health, kidney health or other physical illnesses. In fact to laugh at any of these physical problems would be highly insensitive.

Yet…we continue to cajole or even badger those who are experiencing mental challenges to shrug it off, get going, stop being lazy and just get over it. We get impatient and intolerant when they begin sharing their situation with us.

Sadly instead of being supportive, what is needed, we become less available and less encouraging to those who have real mental challenges.

A mental health diagnosis is not necessarily a sign of being totally out of control of your thinking, beliefs and actions. Dr. Hanif E. A. Benjamin expressed it so well this morning on a local radio programme.

He said that mental health illness can be considered as falling along a continuous spectrum. There is a wide range of problems, from minor to severe. Some problems allow a person to function at a high level in society while other problems reduce that level so  that a person is unable to function according to societal norms.

The statistics are real and are a reflection of the times in which we live as well as only accounting for those who actually seek help. This means that the figures are probably much higher in reality.

There is help. We all can help. Ignorance and lack of compassion are unacceptable in these so-called enlightened times.

Let us all join in  fanning the flames of passion lit by the activists for and professionals in mental health. Let us start developing our compassion, humanity and respect for all life. Let us nullify the stigma as we stand in solidarity with each other for mental health issues.

Are you on board? Are you willing to help educate and support in the field of mental health? Are you already doing your part? Please leave a comment and let me know.