Saying “YES” to help!

I love shopping, but what I find most frustrating is having to tag along heavy shopping bags. A typical street market in Africa is haphazard and navigating is not exactly the most pleasurable experience. Thankfully, here in Ghana, there are people called “carriers” who make your life easier and ensure you have a nice shopping experience. They assist you with your shopping bags for a little token.

My only worry is that these “carriers” are usually young women (some with children on their backs), who carry metal bowls on their head. Back home in Nigeria, we have such “carriers” – they are mostly males, and they use wheelbarrows. As you might imagine, I always have mixed views about using female “carriers”.

A part of me feels like it is abuse to do so – I mean, these are women like me, and I should not take advantage of them. Another part of me feels like using their service would be a way of helping to put some food on their plates and empowering them to meet their needs while being of help to me.

Market post

A few Saturdays ago, I had a memorable encounter during my shopping. I had bought quite a few items and still had a lot more on my list. My shopping bag was getting heavy and cumbersome to pull along. I was approached by several “carriers” who wanted to assist me with my bag, but my humanistic side had the upper hand, and I turned down those offers.

A certain young girl, however, was rather persistent. She was good looking, polite and neatly dressed. Noticing I could not understand the local language, Twi, she spoke perfect English to me. I turned her down severally, but she would not give up. She was insistent. In her own words, “I just want to help you”.

This statement reminded me of an encounter I had with a woman I greatly admire a few weeks before this incident. I asked for her most significant life lesson which led to her overwhelming success as a woman and as a scientist. She noted that she had learnt to accept help whenever it was offered to her knowing that no one could achieve everything all by themselves.

So here I was – with a young lady offering to assist me. I eventually bulged and had one of my most exciting shopping experience since I arrived in Accra. She showed me areas of the market I never knew existed, helped me negotiate some prices in the local language and made great company throughout my shopping. In the end, I was more than glad I had accepted her offer to help. It was a perfect win-win!

Yes to help

Many times, we struggle with things for which we can conveniently get help. I am as guilty of this as I write this post. Most times, I like to think that I am super-woman. In reality, there are no super-beings. We only have people who have learned to be sufficiently interdependent on others and have achieved super-productivity by doing so.

 

When saying “yes” to help, remember these:

  1. It is a sign of strength: It is tempting to think that saying “yes”, especially when you need help the most, is a sign of weakness. I assure you, it is not. Sometimes, you need to be proactive and ask for help early. You can delegate some tasks, but apparently, there are some things you have got to do yourself. It is essential to identify those tasks which can be assigned so that you can focus on those that cannot be. Nobody is completely indispensable. If you died today; you would be surprised how well life goes on in your absence.

 

  1. It is never easy at first: I can relate to all the emotional barriers to receiving or asking for help. The truth is there is always a possibility of failure in everything you do. You must come to terms with that and keep trying regardless. It may feel like no one would be able to give you the help you desire effectively, but human beings are brilliant. They have the propensity to learn if adequately directed. Sure, this would require much patience on your part, but it would be worthwhile in the long run. Once you can cross the mental barriers limiting you and reach out, you will be surprised at the outcome.

 

  1. You must be willing to render help to others as well: While it is great to receive help, it is more honourable to offer help as well. We live in a collaborative era. One good turn always deserves another. You cannot keep receiving all the time; you must also be prepared to help others whenever we can. I do not mean to imply that you should go out of your way to please others and greatly inconvenience yourself doing so. Selflessness should not be self-detrimental. There should be an excellent balance between saying yes to assist others and saying no when it is inconvenient to do so. In my pre-teenage years, I read a book titled “don’t say yes when you want to say no”. It was from the book that I learnt the words “assertiveness training” for the first time in my life. I cannot help but appreciate the hidden truths in that book: it is essential to know where to draw the line in helping others.

 

I hope you enjoy reading this – and you say “yes” to help that comes your way henceforth!

 

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Finding my balance

There are three categories of people. Those who identify a problem, talk elaborately about it but do nothing to change the situation. They hope that the problem would be solved by someone else, so they walk away. Next, we have people who have identified the problem, but they pretend that it does not exist. They just ignore it. Lastly, we have those that recognise the problem, evaluate it critically, determine the best approach for tackling it and go all out to solve it. I call this group of people the “problem-solvers”, and I like to think that I belong to that class. Since I commenced my PhD programme, a skill which I have come to appreciate more is creative problem-solving. It entails identifying a challenge, then finding the most innovative way to tackle it within the shortest possible time and with the available resources. This, in reality, is what research demands and in fact, it is a life skill that is highly required for survival.

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“Life is not designed to make things easy for us, but present challenges that help us grow.”Terry Laughlin

“The challenge is that the day before something is truly a breakthrough, it’s a crazy idea. And crazy ideas are very risky to attempt.” —  Peter Diamandis

 

Stepping out of my “comfort zone” to commence my PhD programme was a huge step for me – I believe we can relate to this because everyone has at some point taken such dips into the “unknown”. To say the least, for the first few months, I felt imbalanced. Imbalanced because I had always found that I was more productive and creative when I had some positive distractions around me –  and I had none. I discovered this productivity hack serendipitously some years ago when I started my handcrafts, which like my desire to pursue a career in science was a childhood hobby. I found that it helped me express myself, not just creatively but in every other way, while putting my time to productive use. So yeah, I had identified a challenge which needed to be urgently and creatively addressed: my life felt very triangular (school-church-home), and it seemed I had lost myself.

Balance 2

“If you cannot find peace within yourself, you will never find it anywhere else.”Marvin Gaye

“People have to learn who they are — you can’t have somebody else telling you who you are.”Hale Irwin

 

These days, I find writing to be a great productivity booster. My inspiration to start writing here was borne out of many things. First, a passion for telling a compelling story that would inspire. I believe everyone has a voice that the world needs to hear. I think sharing our life experiences is an excellent way to leave an indelible mark on the lives of others and create memories that would outlive us. By empowering others to find themselves, we discover the core of our being. Months ago, I never would have believed I could be doing this. I always knew that I had a flair for writing but never to this scale. This new-found hobby has dramatically improved my confidence in my writing (both creative and technical writing). It has also helped me to express myself better and crystallise my ideas. As a child, I was always told that “all work and no play made Pearl a dull girlie”. There is no dispute regarding the amount of work I currently have to deal with….but play?? yeah, I have found it – my balance!

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“Do what is inside you”George Lucas

“He who has a ‘why’ to live for can bear almost any ‘how’”Friedrich Nietzsche

 

I aim to write here as frequently as I can – once a month at the barest minimum – and on a variety of subjects, especially from my experience as a PhD student. I hope you enjoy reading this…and you find your balance!

 

My PhD Journey: Lessons Learnt So Far

I commenced my PhD programme in Molecular and Cell Biology of Infectious Diseases at the West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens (WACCBIP), the University of Ghana in August last year. WACCBIP is a world-class research centre where young African researchers are groomed to be research leaders who would change the landscape of African research, and in fact, worldwide research in the nearest future. I enthusiastically bade my family, job and country farewell in pursuit of a dream – the African dream. My fairy tale story had only begun.

Oxford Workshop

The first few weeks were epic: I settled in quite well into the new environment, started meeting new people, began to understand the dynamics of the unique and stimulating place I found myself in. I quickly realised that the programme was a lot more intensive than I had anticipated.

It has been several months down the line, and I could not have asked for a better opportunity! It has been one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. I have learnt so much; I have grown too. In this post, I share some life lessons gained in these few months.

  • Ask the right questions: All through my life, I grew up asking myself questions and silently finding answers to those questions without necessarily voicing them out. This might have been because of my naturally introverted tendencies or perhaps I grew up in a culture where asking questions was not particularly encouraged. In the past months, I have come to understand the importance of asking questions – and asking them out. In reality, there are no silly questions. However, there is a difference between an interesting question and an important one. The desire to answer questions drives every research – important questions to be more specific that provide answers to complex life problems. Ghanaians have a popular saying: “knowledge is not in the head of one person”.

The more we ask questions, the more knowledgeable we become, and the richer our lives would get.

  • Be open: As Africans, you would agree with me that being open is not particularly one of our strengths. People tend to jealously conceal their ideas because they fear it could be “stolen” from them. Contrary to this belief, I find that openly discussing my thoughts help me realise how dumb or intelligent they are and crystallises these ideas. I also receive constructive feedback by doing so. In this day and time, we cannot afford to be like the tortoise in the childhood folklore who in a bid to hoard his wisdom fell off a tree and cracked his shell. WACCBIP encourages us to discuss our ideas openly. These days, I am better able to share my opinions and my needs: It is a lot easier to get help from others if they understand how they can be of help. Also, I used to be a sponge when it comes to ideas – I read scientific papers, books, whatever just to glean knowledge out of it. I selectively took out what I found useful and discarded information I considered to be irrelevant. Now, I take everything with a pinch of salt: I called that “healthy scepticism”. I critically evaluate every information and make an informed decision on what my position is on the subject and how I can improve existing knowledge.

Group Discussion

  • Every opportunity is the right opportunity: My experiences at WACCBIP has taught me that there are no “perfect opportunities” – every opportunity is just right. WACCBIP is blessed to have a rich network of international collaborators, who frequently visit, providing us with immense possibilities. I find that the most fruitful conversations with these people were during seemingly awkward times. To be successful in life, “you need to be sharp” as one of my lecturers is fond of saying.

In essence, every opportunity you have is what you make out for it.

  • The power of community: At WACCBIP, we are not random researchers doing science instead we are a community – a formidable force. Everyone has a strong sense of belonging and responsibility. We are one big family made up of different people from different backgrounds with different strengths all pulling together their uniqueness in beautiful harmony. The centre has achieved all it has in such a short time because of its unity. If we are ever going to do anything epic in life as humans, we need to be united, and I have seen this at play.

We must identify our strengths and leverage on it to add value to those around us.

  • You are extraordinary: As an African scientist, I have seen excellent examples of exceptional people who have achieved greatness despite their humble beginnings and against all the odds. This is a massive motivation for me. It makes me realise that my dreams are possible, and I can achieve anything I set my mind to be without any limitations. I have also seen incredible women excelling in every facet of life and these sparks up unquenchable fires in me. If they can, so can I – and so can you!
  • Clarity: I have always known about the importance of being clear about what one desires out of life but being at WACCBIP has made me better appreciate that. Before the commencement of any research here, one is expected to have an unambiguous picture of the task ahead: What research questions are you asking? What is your approach to answering these questions? When you get your answers, how do you deduce meaning out of it? How innovative would the answers you get be? What do you need to get an answer to your question and how long would it take you to do so? These are basic. The tune of your research would evolve as you commence but then you need to be on top of your game even before you start. I cannot help but notice how critical this approach is to solving real-life problems. You must always have a clear-cut plan for tackling any obstacle on your way. You should have a sense of direction because if you do not have a destination, you would never arrive.

In Awandare Lab

  • Have fun: Work is just like air – it fills every space available to it. It is tempting to be so carried away with studies that my life becomes very triangular (class – home – church). In reality, this reduces productivity and heightens boredom. Thankfully, WACCBIP is a place where people work hard and play hard. We understand that achieving a work-life balance is essential. Writing on my blog is one of many other things I do for fun. Aside from the great joy I derive whenever I get the opportunity to put my thoughts together in one piece, it also helps me to express myself better and to improve on my writing skill which is invaluable for my research career.
  • Celebrate small wins: The workload is vast, so I have learnt to break down enormous tasks into smaller, chewable sizes for effectiveness and celebrate each small victory along the way. If I fail to do this, I get overwhelmed by the thought of the enormous task ahead, and I am barely productive. The environment at WACCBIP is very competitive. Everyone produces immense value – nothing short is expected. I find that each little victory gives me the strength to push on when the going gets tough.

Welcome Durbar

I initially set out to share only five lessons – I could not help but include an extra three. I hope to share more experiences as time goes on and events unfold. In the meantime, I hope you can learn some lessons from these and I would be glad to know which of these you find the most insightful.

Cheers!

Writing a compelling statement of purpose

The statement of purpose is a critical requirement for many graduate applications; it must be clearly and thoughtfully written to highlight your uniqueness. One of the most frequently asked questions by intending graduate students is “how do I write a statement of purpose?” I get asked this question a lot, so I have compiled a few tips in this post which I hope that you would find somewhat helpful. My aim is not just to provide information on how to write a statement of purpose, but a compelling one at that.

Compelling SOP

  1. Your statement of purpose is not your research proposal: I have seen several people try to get overly technical in writing their statement of purpose – you need to pause right there. You are certainly not writing a research proposal here, so there is no need to “try to impress” by using ambiguous words and terminologies. Keeping it simple always works.
  1. You do NOT need to state the obvious: I mean, this sounds obvious enough right? There is no need to say anything unnecessary; a classic example of this is: “I strongly believe that this M.Sc./PhD programme would help me expand my knowledge in my chosen field”. There is also no need to repeat yourself over and again – we all got the point the first time you stated it. An unduly long statement of purpose can be a huge put-off. It shows a lack of thoughtfulness in documenting your ideas. As much as you can, be concise.
  1. You do NOT have to “cook up” a story: While it would be so much fun to tell a very intriguing life story in your statement of purpose, you do not have to be dishonest to get attention. Keep it real, guys. Honesty is still the best policy.
  1. Be creative: I am sure that whatever position you are applying for, many other people are doing same as well. You want to capture your reader’s attention within the first few minutes of reading your work and keep them spell-bound till the very last full stop. But how do you do about that? Well, you need to be creative and figure out how you can accomplish that.
  1. No embarrassing errors, please: Do not be too much in haste that you fail to proof-read your write-up before sending. Nobody enjoys reading anything filled with grammatical and syntactical errors – that is one of the easiest ways NOT to make a good impression, and you certainly do not want that. Give yourself enough time to read and revise your work. Ask friends to assist you to do so where possible.

 

All that said, some fundamental questions which you would want to answer in your statement of purpose are:

  • Why are you passionate about the field of study/course that you are applying to?
  • Why are you applying to that specific programme and not anyone else?
  • What skills have you acquired that makes you an excellent choice of a candidate?
  • How do you hope to use the information that you have acquired from the programme you are applying to in the long-term?

 

There is for sure no perfect way to write a statement of purpose, so do not expect your first draft to be perfect. Everything good comes with practice and practice makes for perfection.

“Only one who devotes himself to a cause with his whole strength and soul can be a true master. For this reason, mastery demands all of a person.” — Albert Einstein

 

I am pretty sure that with all these, you are on your way to writing a compelling statement of purpose. Congratulations!

Please feel free to drop questions and comments here. You can also reach out for any further information: gentlegirlie@piosirike.com.

 

 

 

Your ONE Word

I discovered Evan Carmichael’s YouTube channel serendipitously. It soon became my early morning “boost” — I eagerly looked forward to listening to his interviews on the “10 rules of success” every day (I still do). In all his posts, he talked about “your one word”. I thought I already had an idea of what he meant, so I never bothered to read his book until early this month — I am glad I did.

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“All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word.” — Winston Churchill

Although originally intended for Entrepreneurs, hidden in the pages of this book are invaluable, transforming life lessons that apply to all (in a technical sense, we are all entrepreneurs). Evan not only shared his personal experiences but those of highly successful entrepreneurs as well. The book “Your One Word” is highly practical and you would find it a very useful handbook through your journey of life.

No one really has a bad life… Just bad moments. — Regina Brett

I would easily rank this book as one of the most impactful I have read recently. Some critical lessons that stood out for me:

1. Do something important with your life: Majority of people are mediocre — you do not belong there. You NEED to discover your relevance and unleash your greatness. That is what makes you stand out from the crowd. There is ONE word that defines who you are. To make meaning out of your life, you need to stand for something powerful and important — your ONE WORD!

“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” — Francis of Assisi

2. Know yourself: This is pretty straight-forward. First, find your one-word then motivate yourself to pursue it. This makes it easy for people to talk to you and to talk about you. If the message you communicate to people is one word, it is powerful, important, difficult to forget and easy to relay to others.

“People who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world are the ones that actually do!” — Steve Jobs

3. Be motivated and stay motivated: You need to prove to yourself that your one word is really powerful and the only way you can do that is by testing it. You always have to remind yourself why you do what you do and what you hope people remember you for. Let these be your driving force as you press on.

“The answer isn’t to be unafraid but rather to feel the fear and do it anyway because this is your only shot at living up to your true potential instead of continuing on in mediocrity.” — Evan Carmichael

4. Planning is key: You need to be genuinely interested in what you do. Break your one word into core meanings, make them powerful, share it, turn it into a credo and tell your story powerfully. Determine the steps you need to take to give life to your one word and do it! That way, people would follow you.

“Your story is important—way more important than you likely give it credit for.” — Evan Carmichael

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In course of reading the book, I discovered that my one word is #PASSION. I have shared a few insights on what my one-word means here.

“The unique part isn’t the word but your take on the word.” — Evan Carmichael

If you are wondering what YOUR one word is, this book provides a step-by-step guide on how to find it.

“People have to learn who they are—you can’t have somebody else telling you who you are.” — Hale Irwin

If you desire to start a business at any time in your life, this book shows you how.

“If you just work for money, you’ll never make it, but if you love what you’re doing, success will be yours.” — Ray Kroc

….so, read the book!

I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did, and I look forward to hearing from you.

You can overcome every obstacle…NO MATTER WHAT!

It all started with a YouTube video – a story that would change my life, and possibly yours, forever…..by the award-winning motivational speaker and life coach, Lisa Nichols.

After watching the video, I knew that I needed to read Lisa’s book “NO MATTER WHAT! 9 steps to living the life you love” and I did read it!

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To say the least, reading the book has been one of the best things I have done this year. It has been a transforming experience! It is beautiful how Lisa owned her past, developed her “bounce-back” muscles and fought for her dreams. Many times, you could relate to her story because she vulnerably bore out her heart – which makes the book so much more impactful.

If you greatly desire to live more impactfully and make the most of your life, against all odds, then this is the book for you.

In a very practical way, Lisa shared nine main “muscles of character” that can only be shaped by overcoming challenges and if well developed, can take you through life-threatening situations so that you experience the joy and peace that you desire.

  • Your Understanding Muscle: When this muscle is weak, you make decisions about yourself based on the actions of people. You fail to see the good in everything that happens to you and keep pondering about your past mistakes.

“Today, I know that my past is not who I am; it’s only helped me to become who I am” – Lisa Nichols

  • Your Faith-in-Myself Muscle: You know this muscle is weak when you begin to listen to all the negative voices in your head that tell you to “give up your dreams”, that “your life is worthless”, to quit!

“When you can’t use your own legs, borrow someone else’s strength. When you don’t have the vision yourself, borrow someone else’s love. When you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, borrow someone else’s faith.” – Lisa Nichols

  • Your Take-Action Muscle: This muscle allows you to create the future you desire knowing fully well that one (unpleasant) experience does not determine your life story. It allows you to rise above your situation and keeps you on track to your ultimate destination.

“You are the master designer of your life. It’s your job to design the life that you want!” – Lisa Nichols

  • Your I-Know-Like-I-Know Muscle: A strong “I-Know-Like-I-Know” muscle gives you a calm assurance, even in a storm, that everything would be okay.

“The goal is to find a way to rekindle those feelings of inner well-being and peace” – Lisa Nichols

  • Your Honesty Muscle: When this muscle is strong, you accept the truth about yourself and the role you have played in creating the life you are presently living. You accept that you have made some good choices as well as some poor ones. You are not under any pressure to hide your truth from other people. Little wonder Lisa could so boldly share the intimate details of her life! She had accepted her truth.

“For every moment you spend suppressing your truth or creating and living a lie, you’re taking time, energy, and resources away from developing your power and expanding who you are.” – Lisa Nichols

  • Your Say-Yes Muscle: This muscle allows you to deliberately “say yes” to those things that bring you immense joy and fulfilment – even if it is only a baby step.

“I discovered……even though I had been wounded, I could be a healer.” – Lisa Nichols

  • Your Determination Muscle: A strong determination muscle helps you to stay focused and to keep pressing on. While the “take-action” muscle gets you started, this muscle keeps you going.

“Clarity can come either with great joy or with great pain” – Lisa Nichols

  • Your Forgiveness Muscle: You need to embrace forgiveness by releasing your frustrations, showing compassion and finding your way back to the place where there is nothing but love (the “total truth process”).

“Forgiveness had everything to do with me and setting that part of my heart free, so I could put love in its place.” – Lisa Nichols

  • Your Highest Choice Muscle: Developing this muscle requires an understanding of where your negative behavioural patterns originate from, beginning with the end in mind and re-writing your life story.

Don’t start thinking that you need to develop only one of these muscles. Just the same way you need all your physical muscles to lift a heavy weight, you need all your “bounce-back” muscles to overcome all the obstacles on your path. You may ask, “how do I strengthen these muscles?”

Read the book!

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But before you dash off, here are some tips to make your reading experience more enjoyable. You should:

  1. Do all the “inspired action steps”: It is very tempting to gloss over the book without taking any active steps to see the changes you so much desire in your life. I urge you to take the “action steps” very seriously. Keep a “No Matter What” journal, this way you can track your progress as you read the book and long after you have read the book, you can always refer to your journal as a reminder of your beautiful journey to self-discovery.
  2. Get an accountability buddy: I feel reading this book would be most exciting as a group activity. Get a trusted friend or family member to read the book with you. Someone you can confide in and share your deepest fears with, and who can trust you enough to do the same. Be sure to discuss insights you have gained from the book with your buddy.
  3. Get connected with God: This is a recurring theme in many success books. Here, Lisa emphasized on the importance of connecting with your “higher power” – whatever it is. Well, I cannot think of any greater power than God Almighty. If your life is a tangled mess, God is not keeping score of your wrongs looking out for the right opportunity to vent out his wrath on you. Rather, he lovingly calls you to “come and reason things out with Him” (Isaiah 1:18). He wants to help you out of your mess and give your life a meaning.

“The irony is that God is sitting on the doorstep waiting while you think you have to clean your house. In reality, He doesn’t care if your house is dirty; He wants to help you clean things up.” – Lisa Nichols

I hope you enjoy reading this book as much as I have and as always, I would be glad to hear from you…..

My Open Gratitude Journal

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I recall vividly just like it was yesterday when we chorused “happy new year” and well wishes for the new year. Now, we start the countdown to the end of the year 2017.

How has your year been? Productive or maybe not?

Whatever the case, I have learned how important it is to be grateful for every breathing second. Two years ago, I challenged myself in the month of October to write a daily gratitude journal which would be publicly shared for twenty-nine days. I did that at a time when I felt that I had hit my “rock bottom” and the world around me was crumbling at my feet.

Through this experience, I learnt the power of gratitude: it unlocks great blessings, leaves you happier and more fulfilled and attracts positive situations in your life.

I am pro-gratitude these days. I spend the first few minutes of my waking moments excitedly listing at least ten reasons why I am grateful to see a new day.

Are you searching for reasons to be thankful? In this post, I share some excerpts from my 2017 October gratitude journal and hope you enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it.

  1. New beginnings: I have made mistakes, gained and lost possessions. Regardless, God has never given up on me. He loves me and each new second, minute, day, week, month and year is an opportunity for a fresh start. Admittedly, each day comes with its peculiarities, challenges, and blessings but it is precisely what it is – a gift. I realise that “crushed flowers produce the best perfume”, so I try not to dwell too much on the past but direct my energy to make the most of the present.
  1. Family and friends: Someone rightly said that “of all the beautiful gifts of life, the greatest is family”. I am grateful to have a family where God is supreme, love is a language that is freely spoken, and though we are worlds apart physically, we are more closely bonded together in unity. I could not have asked for anything better! By nature, I am an introvert, but I have been thoroughly blessed with the most amazing people in my social circles. I do not believe that God has created us to live in isolation. He has created people ahead of us to guide us, so we do not make avoidable mistakes and people behind us so that they can show us the way (isn’t that beautiful?). It was Emerson who said, “every man is my superior in one thing, in that I learn of him”.
  1. Growth: The “Pearl” you knew yesterday and the “Pearl” you see today are two different persons. It is simple logic: I am still actively growing – consciously, super-exponentially and in every ramification! In my perspective, success is never a destination but a journey. Daily, I take baby steps on this journey; I see a refined, reinvented and better version of myself each new day. I am work-in-progress! I am grateful for this. The journey to where I am currently has involved a lot of “stretching”. The rubber band is such a versatile object. It can be put to various uses – but only when stretched. I have been pressed but not crushed, persecuted but not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed…. stretched yet I stand valiantly. Every “stretching” (aka stress) I have gone through has helped discover a better version of myself.
  1. The Bad and the Ugly: First, I am a human being and like everyone else (I figure), I have my “good” days and “character-building” days. I am grateful for every closed door, missed opportunity, wrong decision, failed plan…and everything terrible. They have primed me. I do not believe in luck; luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. I believe in a God who carefully orders my steps, and though I may not understand all His moves, I can be confident in His unfailing love.
  1. Details: As I study Molecular and Cell Biology of life, I cannot help but notice how articulate our God is. Every process is so beautifully planned, it could take more than a lifetime to comprehend the complexities fully – these could never have happened by chance. A God who “numbers” even the strands of my hair and calls the stars, despite how numerous they are, by name. Do I need to worry about a thing? I know that God has all the details figured out. I only must trust him one move at a time. I would not say that I have accomplished so much, at least not yet, but I realize that for the little that I have accomplished so far God has carefully charted my course. I am indeed grateful for timely, divine assistance.
  1. Music and Books: For me, music is not just a pleasant arrangement of sounds (and words) – it is life!! I can barely get on a day without some musical spice. Books are my favourite objects ever! They are rich storehouses of ordered, useful information. Through books, I have learned from the best minds in the world and gained great insight. I believe one of the most significant ways to impact on people is through writing! I am grateful to those who have taken the initiative to document their thoughts for posterity. I am grateful for the beautiful men and women that God has raised to bless my soul.
  1. Smile: Recently, someone told me that I had a “million-dollar” smile. Whatever that means, I am grateful for the little act: the shortest distance between two people, the most beautiful facial expression ever, the most potent makeup ever. I am thankful for the smiles I have been able to give and those who have blessed my days with their pleasant smiles.
  1. “Press On”: This has been my slogan in the past year. Life really gets so rough a times, you know. There are those days where giving gratitude is a real challenge. These days do not last for long. Naturally, I have always loved to play things safe but recently, I have taken majors risks and God has blessed my faith tremendously. The statement “Sometimes, you have to risk it all for a dream only you can see” resonates so deeply with me. Like Les Brown says, “you can never get out of life alive”. I am grateful forever risk I have ventured – both the calculated and “uncalculated” (whatever that means) ones because I can put all my eggs in God’s basket and be sure of safety. “Tough times never last, only tough people do”. These tough times that made me realize how blessed I am to have good times.
  1. “Knee-engine”: Strange word, huh? Don’t even bother searching on google because I coined that word (I should win a Nobel prize for that, you know…. Teehee). I use that term for lack of a better word to describe the depth of heartfelt commune with God in the place of prayer. That moment when you resolve “I would not let you go till you bless me, Lord”. I am grateful that my God, though big enough to govern the universe, is small enough to live in my heart. When I cry out to him, he hears my call…. He comforts me. I cannot say this enough, but I am God’s biggest deal!
  1. No words: There are times when it seems that there are no appropriate words to express ourselves both verbally and in writing – and I have those awkward moments a lot. It is profound to find someone who understands my silence as much as my words. I am grateful to my Friend and Intercessor, Jesus Christ who understands the complexities of my emotions – and has himself experienced the full complement of human emotions. This makes me have so much more confidence in Him – and when He says He loves me dearly, I have no doubts.