Sunday, August 30, 2015

Poem: This Calling, Our Most Holy Grail!

He is the shepherd of our souls, the lifter of our heads, the pulse of our lives.

Men in the world grope in the dark
They wallow in squalor
Like a troubadour in shallow rigour, they are confused
In diverse places, they seek a solution, a panacea, redemption
But search no further. We have not just found a solution, we are the solutions.

Today, we celebrate excellence in bodily forms
We celebrate stalwarts of the faith
We acknowledge men and women of Olympian feats, who have kept running, without being weary.

We are that generation that was spoken of
The chosen people the saints envisaged
The cynosures of angelic envy
The top notch and the elite breed among the heavenly creatures.

And when life storms rages with reckless abandon
When the storms of circumstances beat on us
When people despise us for our convictions
And when the burden of life threatens the foundation of our faith
We will still be standing
Unmoved, undeterred, unshaken, unfazed
For our conviction is made of steel, our hope is hunched on him, and we know that he has promised to be with us even unto the ends of time.

Dear Holy Spirit
Our friendship shall never wither
Our bound shall grow tighter
Our fondness shall linger
Our relationship shall never flounder
And you shall always remain the most important personality of our existence.

Words will not be enough to aptly describe the essence of the cell system
A haven for growth
A habitat for perfection
A home for reassurance
A family with unbreakable ties
A place of fellowship.

We rejoice and celebrate the cell system today
For it has been the foundation of our success
The crème de le crème of this beautiful nation
The microcosm of our structure
And on days like this, we appreciate our general, our finest soldier, the effulgence of excellence, our life coach per excellence, Rev Chris Oyakhilome for conceiving the cell system.
And we celebrate you our dear pastor Sylvester Esedebe
A pastor of our dreams, a father sent from God to us in such a time as this
No doubt, our journey shall be long, fruitful, laden with feats, notable achievement, laudable triumphs and uncommon greatness
This is our calling
Our most Holy grail.

Poem presented on the occasion of the Cell Ministry Day, 2015!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

15 Quick Stories that Will Make You Think Differently

1. This morning, like he has every morning for the last decade, my 86-year-old grandfather picked a fresh wild flower on his morning walk and took it to my grandmother. This morning I decided to go with him to see her. And as he placed the flower on her gravestone, he looked at me and said, “I just wish I had picked her a fresh flower every morning when she was alive. She would have loved that.”

2. Today, on my 47th birthday, I re-read the suicide letter I wrote on my 27th birthday about two minutes before my girlfriend showed up at my apartment and told me, ‘I’m pregnant.’ She was honestly the only reason I didn’t follow through with it. Suddenly I felt I had something to live for. Today she’s my wife, and we’ve been happily married for 19 years. And my daughter, who is now a 21-year-old college student, has two younger brothers. I re-read my suicide letter every year on my birthday as a reminder to be thankful – I am thankful I got a second chance at life.

3. After injuring my back, losing my job because of it, being evicted from our apartment, moving in with Laura’s parents, nursing my five-year-old through a nearly fatal bout of strep throat, I was stuck in a tragic rut for far too long. And I was sitting on the front porch of my in-law’s house feeling sorry for myself, yet again, when my old college buddy called me crying and said, ‘Mel-Mel-Melissa, my baby girl, just died in a car wreck.’ And suddenly I felt like the lucky one.

4. This morning, nearly five years after my husband’s passing, a beautiful couple and their three kids knocked on my front door. The man smiled and said, “Your husband was my heart donor. He saved my life. Not a single day has gone by that I don’t pray for him and think of you. Thank you!

5. Last week, at my friend Haley’s funeral, her husband stood up to deliver her eulogy and said, “Life is the leading cause of death, and Haley LIVED her life, passionately. She died doing what she loved to do. If she didn’t do what she loved, she may not have died yesterday, but she wouldn’t have truly lived either.”

6. Yesterday my sister and I were in a pretty bad car accident. Luckily both of us were wearing our seat belts and didn’t have any major injuries. My sister is and always has been Mrs. Popular – she knows everyone. I’m the complete opposite – an introvert who hangs out with the same two girls all the time. My sister immediately posted a comment on Facebook and Instagram about our accident. And while all her friends were commenting, my two friends showed up independently at the scene of the accident before the ambulance arrived.

7. A good friend of mine, who graduated with honors from Cal Berkley several years ago, is now the co-founder and CEO of a successful start-up in Silicon Valley. Throughout grade school he struggled with reading and writing disabilities. He spent kindergarten all the way through 12th grade in English ESE classes. During a parent-teacher conference when he was a freshman in high school, two ESE teachers collectively informed his mom that it was highly unlikely he would ever graduate. So how did he do it? How did he push through and overcome the odds? “Affirmations,” he told me with a serious smile when I interviewed him yesterday for a side-project I’m working on. “I literally told myself that they were wrong about me. I told myself exactly what I needed to hear, every single day, to move my life forward. It may sound like a cliché to some people, but it’s not; it’s powerful stuff!”

8. My dad is a blind cancer survivor. He lost both his eyes when he was in his early 30’s to a rare form of cancer. Despite this, he raised my sister and I, and took care of my mom who was in and out of rehab for alcoholism and depression. My mom is a fully recovered alcoholic now, my sister and I have graduated college, and my parents are still together and back to being happy. I’m certain none of this would have been possible if my dad hadn’t been such a resilient, positive force in our lives. My dad’s mental strength literally saved our family.

9. This past weekend I volunteered at my alma mater and gave a campus tour to a couple dozen incoming freshman. There was a young man in a wheelchair in the group who chatted with me all morning and never stopped smiling. He had a positive energy about him that was absolutely contagious. At the end of the tour I found out he had a scholarship to play basketball before a car accident left him paralyzed from the waist down. He told me, “It didn’t ruin my life, it just changed my circumstances. I’m happy to be here with you right now, with so many opportunities in front of me.”

10. The drummer in our band, Nick, is legally deaf, and has been since he was born. But he can still hear low bass tones and feel the vibrations from the drums and other instruments. Honestly, he’s such an incredible drummer that most people don’t believe he’s deaf. Sometimes I can’t believe it myself.

11. I’m sitting in my hospital bed waiting to have both my breasts removed. But in a strange way I feel like the lucky one. Up until now I have had no health problems. I’m a 69-year-old woman in the last room at the end of the hall before the pediatric division of the hospital begins. Over the past few hours I have watched dozens of cancer patients being wheeled by in wheelchairs and rolling beds. None of these patients could be a day older than 17.

12. Tonight Angel and I met a family of six staying at a hotel in Miami where we were vacationing. We saw them hanging out in the lobby, sharing stories and laughing hysterically. So on our way out, we said hello to them and asked where they were from. “Oh, we’re from here,” the mother said. “Our house burned down to the ground yesterday, but miraculously, all of us made it out safely. And that makes today a day worth smiling about.

13. This afternoon my teammate broke his right arm during our first game of the season. It was actually his first game in over two years, after his doctors told him that he would never play again due to knee surgery. This evening when I stopped by to see him I assumed he would be terribly upset. Instead he smiled and said, “That hour I spent on the field today was once only a dream.”

14. Last week I interviewed a motel housekeeper in Miami Beach for a side project I’m working on. “Do you like your job?” I asked. To my surprise, she smiled from ear to ear and was breathless for a couple seconds. She finally collected herself and said, “I can’t believe how much I love my job! I get to make dozens of our guests happy every day and feed my two beautiful children at the same time.”

15. I’m sitting here on the eighth anniversary of a dear family member’s passing, thinking about the last conversation I had with her. With a soft, weak voice she told me her only regret was that she didn’t appreciate every year with the same passion and purpose that she had in the final two years of her life, after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. “I’ve accomplished so much recently,” she told me. “If I had only known, I would have started sooner.”


Monday, August 17, 2015

Mourinho Must Learn With Age

First, a disclaimer: I am a Chelsea fan to the bones and Jose Mourinho is not just a sporting idol, but a great inspiration. However, events over the last one month have made this article inevitable.

Like him or loathe him, no one can deny the fact that he is a serial winner. And while his antics and methods might be divisive, his output remains successful. No manager, dead or alive could claim to have enjoyed a decade of successes in different turfs as Mourinho have. From FC Porto to Chelsea, from Inter Milan to Real Madrid, he has left with a mindas touch. He has left in gold everything he has touched in the world of football. In truth, his coaching ingenuity is in supernumerary measure that to contest his abilities will be foolhardy. In his book, 'My Autobiography' Sir Alex Ferguson described Jose as a pragmatist with a huge primary philosphy of ensuring his teams don't lose. The former United gaffer went on to admit 'Jose's managerial ability became the greatest obstacle to our rebuilding.' He is that good!

Yet, with success have come a price for almost all teams Jose have managed. Some argue that he has left a dent in the reputation of his employers. In his defence, some have maintained that Jose Mourinho has become a gigantic brand in himself that it will be sensible to now sepretate his behaviour from that of his team. True as it may sound, we know enough to understand that one man by reason of his association can damage the reputation of his institution. Without attempting to do a rehash, Jose has always been known to talk big. He surely thinks highly of himself and his powers, so highly infact that one might mistake him crossing the border line of self esteem into arrogance. Yet, football is primarily entertainment, and bullish talking is a feature. However, with age should come maturity and prudence, but Jose seem not to have evolved with time in this regard.

For the purpose of this article, citing two recent examples will suffice. He was certainly patronising when he hit back at Montse Benitez, wife of Real Madrid Boss, Rafa Benitez. Montse had stoked the fire when she remarked that her husband always has to clear Mourinho's messes. She was refering to the fact that Benitez had had to manage teams previously coached by Jose. This includes Inter Milan and Real Madrid. Mourinho's response was classic 'If she takes care of her husband's diet she will have less time to speak about me.' It was a comment that was both unnecessray and rude. At 52, one will expect that Jose dosent respond to all issues and take matters too personal as he has done in the past. To drag Benitez into the picture and question the effectiveness of their matrinomy is to drag rivalry and bluntness too far. On this occasion, jose was not just wrong to have responded but to also have used such derogatory choice words.

Then, only weeks ago, there was the case of Chelsea doctor Eva Carnerio and Jose Mourinho. Her sin was to run into the pitch in the insistance of the refree and attend to Eden Hazard while Chelsea playing with 10 men were being held in a 2-2 draw at home to Swansea. Jose's response after the match in the full glare of the media was smashing: “I wasn't happy with my medical staff because even if you are a medical doctor or secretary on the bench, you have to understand the game. said Chelsea manager Mourinho. “If you go to the pitch to assist a player, then you must be sure that a player has a serious problem. I was sure that Eden didn't have a serious problem. He had a knock and was very tired. My medical department left me with eight fit outfield players in a counter attack after a set piece and we were worried we didn't have enough players left.” Vintage Jose many will say.

In the face of this dual Jose's shenenigans, many have called the Chelsea gaffer a sexist and the feminists have been quick to dismiss his knowldge and adherence of chivalry. However, I think calling Jose a sexist is blowing the matter out of proportion. He is not one, and the remarks above is one he could have meted out to the young, old, male, female or even trans-gender. What is also closer to the truth is that Jose Mourinho's excesses of recent seems to be ignited from a place of subtle frustration, perhaps about the state of his team going into this season, in comparison to his main rivals.

The real issue however is that Jose have always been like this. From poking the eyes of Tito Vilanova to slandering referees, he is a classic sore loser. A decade and more has passed since Jose announced his name in the footballing stage. Today, he is an established name with noteworthy successes. He might well become the greatest or one of the greatest managers of all times. It is not too much to demand that Jose Mourinho curtail his antics and alter some of his ways. Attitude and character are not his greatest strengths, but he must now live beyond pettiness. Age and circumstances should bring maturity and even if he doesn't care what the rest of the world thinks about him, he must realise that in the final analysis, it is essentially a game. Whenever Jose Mourinho's name is mentioned, the haters will always be on the prowl. That's a given. What I simply ask is that he respects others and their opinions, that's all!

Monday, August 10, 2015

7 Signs it’s Time to Change Your Mindset

1. You see nothing but negatives.

If you were determined to get joy out of the present moment, you would learn to focus on the positive. What it takes is not paying attention to negative thoughts – yours or anyone else’s. Disregarding negative thoughts isn’t about burying your head in the sand; it’s the focused act of not allowing negativity to fog your vision and dominate your experience of the present.

This moment is never enhanced or helped in any way by negativity, even though we as human beings are programmed to think our negative thoughts, worries and fears serve some beneficial function. When we deeply examine a negative thought we see that negativity doesn’t serve any benefit. Focusing on negativity doesn’t make anyone a better person, nor does doing so help us make any bit of progress. In fact, the truth is quite the opposite.

2. You are relentlessly resisting the truth.

Watch your self-talk. See if you can catch yourself consciously or subconsciously complaining about your present life situation, what other people have said or done, your past, your surroundings, or even the weather. To complain is always non-acceptance of reality. It invariably carries with it a tremendous amount of negativity and stress.

When you complain, you transform yourself into a victim. When you proactively take positive action, on the other hand, you are in power. So if something is truly bothering you, change your situation by taking action, or consciously let it go – leave the situation or accept it. All else is foolishness.

Remind yourself, again and again if you must, when something cannot be changed you must change your attitude about it. After you have done what you can do, happiness is allowing yourself to be perfectly OK with ‘what is,’ rather than wishing for and worrying about ‘what is not.’ ‘What is’ is what’s supposed to be, or it would not be. The rest is just you, arguing with life.

3. You have a tendency to blame others.

Letting go gives us emotional freedom, and emotional freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in your heart, you still cling to anything – anger, resentment, jealously, etc. – you cannot be free. And doing so doesn’t change the heart of other people – it only changes yours. Know this.

Put down the sword and stop attacking others in your head. The strong person is not the best fighter. Rather, the strong person is the one who controls herself when she is angry, and grows from it.

4. You are passionately worried about everything.

Worrying does nothing but steal your joy and keep you busy doing nothing. It’s like using your imagination to create things you don’t want. You need to stop getting yourself into situations in your head where all your options are potentially bad.

Remember, it’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see. There are always two ways to address your present situation. Each way is like a brick, which can be used as a stepping-stone, or which can be picked up in a worried frenzy and used to shatter your window of hope and happiness.

The bottom line is that everything on the outside doesn’t need to be perfect or make sense right now. Stop worrying, focus within, and be mindful. In your mind you can go anywhere you imagine. And where your mind consistently goes, the rest of your life will gradually follow.

5. Your expectations are stressing you out.

Drop the needless expectations. Appreciate ‘what is’ for a moment. It doesn’t matter if your glass is half empty or half full. Just be thankful that you have a glass and that there’s something in it. Choosing to be positive and having an appreciative attitude influences everything you do. The magnitude of your happiness and success will be directly proportional to the magnitude of your thoughts and how you choose to think about things.

Nothing ever works out exactly the way you want it to. Hope for the best, but expect less. Appreciate reality, don’t fight it. Don’t let what you expected to happen blind you from the goodness happening all around. Even if it doesn’t work out at all, it’s still worth it if it made you feel something new, and if it taught you something new.

6. You secretly want a pain free life.

Pain is a pesky part of being human, but it’s vitally important. It strengthens the mind, heart and body. You can’t grow strong, brave, or successful in this world if you’ve only had good things happen to you within the safe boundaries of your own little comfort bubble. You need real life experiences, and nothing ever becomes real until you experience it firsthand.

Honestly, life is very much like a game of chess. To win you have to make a move, even when it’s tough and things before didn’t go exactly as planned. Knowing which move to make comes with insight and knowledge, by learning the unexpected and often painful lessons that are accumulated along the way.

7. You’re never satisfied with what you have.

Our stress and frustration is far greater when we have more than enough but want even more, than when we have almost nothing and want some. In other words, as human beings we are less dissatisfied when we lack many things than when we endlessly seem to lack but one continuously changing thing.

Details aside, the key is to want less and appreciate more.

A lot of people get so hung up on what they can’t have that they don’t think for a second about whether they really want it. Ask yourself: “Are these things truly better than the things I already have? Or am I just conditioned to be unhappy with what I have?”

In the end, happiness is an attitude of gratitude we act upon daily. We either make the best of the present or the worst of it. We either make ourselves miserable or happier and stronger. The amount of effort is the same.


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

EPL 2015/2016 Season: What to expect?

It’s barely days to the resumption of the buzz and razzmatazz that have become the Barclays English Premier League. And as it is typical with the dawn of any new campaign, the bookmakers and analysts are out with their permutations. It is a cliché in the English game that every season is typically tougher than the preceding one, and on the evidence of the dress rehearsals, the looming season will be no exception.
Without an iota of doubt, Manchester United have bought lavishly this summer, and go into the season as desperate favourites. In fact, they have bought so lavishly that even Wenger has accused the Old Trafford outfit of discarding ancient principles for instant success. Louis Van Gaal extravagance did not begin this season. The acquisition of Angel Di Maria last season was a British record and when one places that beside the purchase of Falcao, Blind and Rojo, then this summer’s acquisitions will seem less outrageous. The jury is still out on why Di Maria, the most expensive player in English football, didn’t quite work, but United has moved on and are ready to try other options. Amongst other reasons why Di Maria failed to make a mark last term is the imperious form of both Juan Mata and Ashley Young in the twilight of that season. However, since the days of Paul Scholes and Roy Keane, United have never quite got their midfield right. Darren fletcher, Owen Hargreaves, Anderson and Tom Cleverly are among the long list of experiments that failed, and that is putting it mildly. It is for this reason that the acquisitions of the duo of Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger have made the Red devils fans bullish about their chances. The latter might be a household name in his last legs but he is still very lethal. Schneiderlin might be a less familiar name, but he is a massive talent with a sure promise. Should this duo alongside the experienced Michael Carrick click, then United will take some stopping next season. The signing of Memphis Depay from PSV also holds a great potential. However, one factor that might be telling to United’s season is the man between the posts. The big question for United will be: can they keep their best player from last season, David De Gea? And if he stays, will his heart really be in the job to replicate last season’s form?
By their extravagant standards, Chelsea have been relatively quiet in the transfer window. However, the champions still go into the new season as massive favourites. While they might have run away with the title at a canter last season, Jose Mourinho’s men might be in for a stiff challenge this term. Chelsea clearly possesses the best starting eleven in the country, but the deficiencies come in when the bench and replacements are assessed. As we saw last season, the team lost traction when fatigue set in towards the latter part of the season, and they have not bought big to stop a repeat. Rather, the blues have lost depth by the sale of Felipe Luiz and the legendary Petr Cech. The acquisition of Radamel Falcao remains a big risk that tilts more to pessimism than optimism. It will be another of Jose’s Man-management ingenuity to get the Colombian in some form again. However, the testing point for Chelsea will come if they are not so lucky with injuries next term, to the spine of their team. There will be a genuine lacuna if any of Costa, Fabregas, Matic or Terry is out for an extended period. In truth, the Blues have remained stagnant while their rivals have strengthened. They still remain genuine contenders but if last season’s championship was a stroll in the pack, next season’s campaign to retain that championship will surely be one hell of a herculean task.
As is always the case with Arsenal, optimism and renewed hope have greeted their anticipation of the new season. The capture of Petr Cech, especially from a direct rival, could well be the best piece of transfer business this summer. Cech is a serial winner and his coming into Arsenal will solve a major can of worms for the Gunners that have lingered for so long. However, while solving the goalkeeping puzzle is a mighty leap to Arsenal’s chances of winning the championship for the first time in a decade, it does not translate to uhuru for Wenger and his men. Since the departure of the prolific Thierry Henry, Arsenal are yet to aptly get another world class striker. While Giroud is a worthy goal banger, he is still not the finished article in that department. A number of names have been mentioned in the media in connection to Arsenal, but only time will tell if these talks remains in the realms of the rumour mill. However, one fact that cannot be denied is that should Arsenal acquire a striker in the mold of Karim Benzama and a midfield stalwart in the form of Claude Makelele, the team will be the overwhelming favorite for the trophy. Yet, with what it currently possess, Arsenal should mount a more worthy challenge this season better than its hitherto perennial tussle for fourth place.
Manchester City provides an interesting prospect. The blue heart of Manchester has not been aloof while their rivals ramp up. The team has added the vastly talented Raheem Sterling and former Villa star, Fabian Delph to their squad. The criticism against Manuel Pellegrini’s team is that it is an aging squad. Compared to their immediate rivals, there might be a case there but re-emphasizing that point will be stretching the fact. City’s best business this summer might be their ability to keep the spine of their team. However, one area they look not to have improved in, is at the defence area, which they fell short in last term. Vincent Kompany might find form again, but age and recurring injuries means he will never become the player he once was. Eliaquim Mangala remains some sort of experiment, while Martín Gastón Demichelis is an experience in his last legs. Sterling and Aguero provides great pace and artistry going forward, but City’s supporters will hope that Yaya Toure re-emerge from the average player he was last term and replicate the amazing ingenuity we all know he possesses. Manuel Pellegrini’s men will surely be in and around the top by May next year but they go into this season for the first time in recent times as perhaps, third or fourth favorites for the championship.
Then, there is Liverpool. For all the inflated belief of their fans going into the new season, it promises to be a tough campaign for the Reds. Losing their best two players in Steven Gerrard and Raheem Sterling simultaneously is a big blow. As was the case last season, Brenden Rodgers has bought quantity, but it remains to be seen if this translates to good quality. The Brazilian Roberto Firmino, the Belgian Christian Benteke, and the British trio of James Milner, Nathaniel Clyne and Danny Ings are surely bright prospects but the faster they all jive into a team, the better for the Kop’s fortunes. A flashpoint to the Reds campaign will be the fitness of Daniel Sturridge. A big homegrown talent, he has been hugely unlucky with a plethora of injuries. New captain, Jordan Henderson clearly knows that he has a tough act to follow in filling Steven Gerrard’s boots. He might have endeared himself into the hearts of the fans but replicating ‘the never walk alone’ moments that were the stock in trade of Steven Gerrard will be an amazing ask for the 24 years old midfielder next season.
Then, there is the rest. Tottenham Hotspur have done well to keep last season’s revelation, Harry Kane, but the summer business in White Hart Lane suggests that they might remain on the fringes again next term. Everton needs to for once in a long while, start a campaign strong to give themselves a fighting chance of breaking into the ever competitive top four. The battle against the drop also promises to be intriguing. For AFC Bournemouth, it will be a dream campaign for them playing in the top flight for the first time in their history. However, the honeymoon will be short as this league is unforgiving to mere efforts without corresponding productivity, as Burnley found out last season. To achieve safety for the new boys, a lot will rest on the shoulders of Artur Boruc, purchased from Southampton, and Chrsitain Atsu, who came in on loan from Chelsea. Same goes for Norwich and Watford, whose priority will be to retain their premier league status by May next year. Watford boss, Enrique Sanchez Flores might be new to the EPL, but the Spaniard has a wealth of coaching experience to rely on. Indeed, next season already has the makings and trappings of a precarious and theatrical season. It is for a reason it is considered as the most exciting league in the world and the looming season might well put paid to that. Bring it on!