Investing in our success - the book

ABOUT INVESTING IN OUR SUCCESS

Investing In Our Success: A glimpse into our world is a story about most Jamaicans which began in the struggles of their ancestors for freedom from slavery to enjoy economic, political and social freedoms; to chart their own destiny. Slavery and its aftermath did not prepare them to achieve material success. As such, the majority of the population fight, literally and figuratively, for their share of the spoils to achieve their version of success. 


Investing In Our Success: A glimpse into our world is a story about the struggles and successes of Jamaicans who are on their never-ending journey to achieve their version of success.

Investing In Our Success: A glimpse into our world takes you on an excursion into the lives of these Jamaicans and allows you to travel with them on this journey. It exposes the secrets to the successes that Jamaicans have been achieving in all spheres of life on the local and international stage.


See the introduction and two chapters below for your reading pleasure.




Two chapters from Investing in our success...

INTRODUCTION

For whom is this book?

This book, Investing In Our Success: A glimpse into our world, is for all of us.

It is validation for all of us who have grown up in circumstances in which poverty has been pervasive, but instead of allowing our poverty to dictate the circumstances of our future, we have been taking matters into our own hands. We have been following a course that we have charted for ourselves, and we have been rising above our circumstances.

This book is for all of us who have grown up in circumstances of privilege, but who have decided to improve on the foundation that we have been given, instead of settling into what already exists.

This book is also for people who have grown up in circumstances in which poverty has been pervasive, but instead of taking matters into their own hands and trying to rise above their circumstances, have been allowing this poverty to dictate their futures. People who are in situations like these can find some inspiration in this book to start their own journeys to their own versions of success.

Purpose of this book

This book, Investing In Our Success: A glimpse into our world, is inviting all of us to invest in our success, or to continue to invest in our own success, if we have already started to do so, because this is what all of us wantsuccess. It is inviting all of us to engage in a process of stocktaking, ourselves containing the “stock” of which we will do a detailed inventory, write our own reports, and spend time studying these reports, then taking the necessary actions to improve our stock in terms of its quality and therefore its value.

Inspiration for writing this book

This book, Investing In Our Success: A glimpse into our world, is the product of my reflections on my life so far, as well as the reflections that some of the friends with whom I have interacted along my continuing journey through life have shared with me. It is also the product of my observations of others who have been sharing similar experiences to mine, as well as my observations of others whose experiences have been diverging markedly from mine.

This book reflects my understanding of my experiences and observations, as well as my understanding of the experiences of others with whom I share space in the many environments in which I have my being. My reflections, in concert with the reflections of relatives and friends, as well as my listening in on the reflections of strangers whom I have met along the way—strangers who proudly tell their stories to all and sundry of rising above their circumstances in spite of the odds that they have been facing—have convinced me that we have powerful stories to tell, some of which I have told in this book.

The stories of our lives which we have only been able to process on reflection have been the fodder from which this book has taken its form. These stories have always been simmering just below the surface of our consciousness, but now have escaped their constraints. These stories now constitute this book that is now before us, urging us to read it and to do further reflections.

The impetus for our journeys

Many of us have been born into circumstances where some form of deprivation has been a feature of our existence. Some of us have lacked many of the material things of life, or have not had them in the acceptable quality and quantity that society holds up to us as standards of success. Some of us have lacked the nurturing that we have needed to develop the emotional strength to cope with life´s challenges. And some of us have lacked both the material and the emotional resources as a result of the circumstances into which we were born.

Having developed an understanding of our circumstances of deprivation, we have decided to leave those circumstances behind because we have realized that there are more and better things “out there” than the ones to which we have been accustomed. We have therefore struck out into the unknown, being determined to find our versions of success, the kind of success that we know will not be possible within the confines of the circumstances that we have come to know.

Our versions of success, we have realized, differ in many respects, and in many cases do not reflect the standards for success that some elements in society hold up to us as the ideal. Our versions of success reflect what we believe is important to us. Therefore, it is this success—our versions of it—that we have embarked on our journeys to realize.

We have been on this journey since the dawn of our understanding of the circumstances of our lives. We have not been satisfied with being bound on all sides by deprivation in some or all of its forms. Therefore, we have been committed to this journey, and we have been managing to gradually rise above the circumstances into which we were born.

Our stories

This book, Investing In Our Success: A glimpse into our world, tells our stories. Our stories recount our journeys from environments where we have been surrounded by poverty to our destinations, yet to be finally attained, which we hope to reach. These destinations are our versions of success which we have envisioned for ourselves.

Our stories are multifaceted, and we are the characters with our diverse personalities, motivations, beliefs, experiences, orientations, body types, features, colors, ethnicity and races, among other differences. We have had our beginning in diverse environments. We have suffered through many disappointments, fears, and hurts. We are at different stages on our journeys to the success that we have envisioned for ourselves. But at many points along our journeys our paths have crossed, literally and/or figuratively, as we hurry along the roads that we have chosen to lead us to our versions of success.

Our stories are ones of struggles: emotional, mental, and physical struggles. But, they are also stories about winning; winning some of our struggles against the odds. Ours are also stories of strength; emotional, mental and physical strength that we have been using to confront our circumstances and rise above them. We have been searching for and have been finding our emotional, mental and physical fortitude that we had buried deep within us, and we have been using them to chart our courses to our versions of success.

Ours are stories of reflection. That is, staring our past in the face, and examining all its characteristics. Ours are stories of self-discovery and decision-making. Ours are also stories about possibilities—what is possible if we are willing to exert the effort to attain the reality of our dreams.

The structure of this book

I have written this book in the third person plural and for the most part in the present tense. I have done this because this book tells our stories of our journeys that are still in progress.

This book has an introduction and twelve chapters. Each chapter explores a different element of our stories. Chapter one explores the story of our past in our present. Our stocktaking and our SWOT analysis of ourselves are explored in chapters two and three, respectively. Giving up on failure is the story that we explore in chapter four. Chapter five explores our ambition. The stories of sacrifice, effort, and reciprocity are explored in chapters six, seven and eight, respectively. And, the stories of faith, choices, rest and success are explored in chapters nine, ten, eleven, and twelve, respectively.

This book chronicles the journeys that some of us have been taking to our versions of success. We are on our journeys because we have wanted better and/or more than we have had for ourselves and our families. This book provides the reader with a glimpse into our travels on these journeys that we have been on, as well as a glimpse of some of our accomplishments.

Reading this book

In reading this book, the reader is invited to note that the book is not presenting a linear process that we who have been on our journeys to our versions of success have been carefully following. Far from that! Our journeys have been iterations of all the steps that we have listed in our action plans.

In addition, the reader is further encouraged to note that I have not presented any prescriptions that are to be slavishly taken by persons who have found themselves in conditions of poverty on which the book focuses, and have been trying to overcome their circumstances. Instead, I have outlined some of the strategies that some of us who are on our journeys to our versions of success have been employing as we move away from our circumstances rife with poverty, toward the kinds of success that we have defined for ourselves.

These strategies have been working for us. You, the reader, may choose, after reading this book, to reject all or some of the strategies that we have been utilizing, and replace them with those that have been working for you. What we have in common as travelers is the similarity of our goals—we are moving toward success as defined by us.

You may choose to read selectively any chapter of this book that has peaked your interest. Each chapter tells its own story. Or, you may choose to accompany us on an exploration of our journeys by reading this book from the beginning to the end. The choice is yours.

Thanks

I am thankful to relatives, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances who have shared their stories about overcoming the odds and being on their way to achieving their versions of success. I am also thankful to the many strangers who have chosen some of the oddest places to share their stories: bus stops, in the buses, train stations, in the trains, on the street… I thank them for choosing to strike up a conversation with me and for just celebrating their joy in their achievements when their tongues have been made loose by thinking of the great distance that they had traveled from where they started out and all that they had been achieving.


CHAPTER 1

Our past in our present

Many of us who are on our journeys to our versions of success try to run away from our past but no matter how fast we run, it is always one step ahead of us, demanding that we take notice of it. This is a source of irritation for many of us because while we would like to get rid of it by pretending that it does not exist, or that it is something other than it is, we have come to realize that our past is part of our essence. It is always going to be with us because it is embedded in our memories. Anything from our present, we have been realizing, can transport us back in time to the circumstances of our past, of which all of us have our own perspectives.

Some of us look back on our past with nostalgia. It holds some good memories for us.

Some of us look back at our past with regret: there are things that we wished that we had not done; there are things that we wished that we had done; there are things that we wished that we had not said, and there are things that we wished that we had said.

Some of us look back at our past with disgust. “Good riddance!” we say. We refuse to be constantly tormented by our memories of hurts and deprivation that have been hallmarks of our past. But even though we think we have put it to rest, like a cheeky child we see it peering and smiling at us from around the corners of our consciousness.

Some of us look back at our past with a mixture of nostalgia, regret and disgust, each at times fighting for ascendancy, but none quite winning. There is no escape for us from our past.

1. Memories of our parents or caregivers

At times, memories of our past flow through our consciousness like a swift moving river. At these times, our senses are roiled and our emotions are in spates. For all of us, different memories of our past take precedence at different times. But, for some of us, our parents or caregivers are the recurring subjects.

We sometimes, still hear the murmur of their conversations. Sometimes, we hear the roar of these conversations. Sometimes, we hear the silences. We remember the tone of their conversations. Sometimes it is amicable. Sometimes it is quarrelsome, and sometimes it is indifferent. They have had their moments.

We still remember the nature of these conversations. We hear them discussing the state of their finances, their work, and the businesses in which they were engaged. We hear them discussing our neighbors’ business. We still hear the worry in their voices as they talked about our needs and the things that needed to be done in the home. We still hear their approval, their disgust, their dismay, their shock as they discussed the news of the day. The topics of their discussions are still with us, and some of us are realizing that we are becoming our parents or caregivers.

From the interactions of our parents or caregivers, we have learned about their beliefs and the principles on which these beliefs are based—whether religious or non-religious. We also have learned about their practices relating to their beliefs.

Some of us still remember their insistence that we follow their beliefs and practices because they are the “truth.” Some of us remember voluntarily embracing their beliefs and practices.

However, some of us remember reluctantly embracing their beliefs and practices and, at the first opportunity that we have had, finally rejecting them for our own versions of the “truth.” But, from an early age, we have learned from the interactions of our parents or caregivers about our place in the world that they created for us.

In our memories, their faces drift by. Some of us still see our parents or caregivers always lazing around the home with no care in the world. Some of us still see our parents or caregivers engaging in their daily activities. Some of us still see them bustling about the home, always busy, their faces studies in concentration. Some of us still see our parents or caregivers getting ready to go to work, anticipation written on some of their faces, dread written on others, while written on some of their faces, we see resignation.

We still see them returning from work. In some of their faces we still see the imprint of the day’s toil. In some of their faces we still see purpose; there is much more yet to be done before the evening is over. In some of their faces, some of us still see the glimmers of recognition of who we are, glimmers that they quickly replace with indifference or distraction.

2. Memories of being disciplined by parents or caregivers

Some of us remember being whipped by our parents or caregivers for any of a number of reasons. We remember being whipped for getting our clothes dirty, when our parents had labored to get them clean, and because we were not buying the soap, and we couldn't wash them for ourselves.

We remember being whipped for eating too quickly because if food got stuck in our throats we would be punishing them to take us to the doctor where they would waste time by “dragging their bottoms” on benches for the whole day, when they could be doing something useful. We remember being whipped for eating too slowly because time was going and we still had chores to do.

We remember being whipped for running when we should have been walking because we could fall and hurt ourselves, and hearing the story about them dragging their bottoms on benches again.

We remember being whipped for doing what we had been told to do because we had not done it well and because we were not learning to do anything. We needed to learn to do things for ourselves because we did not want to grow up to be worthless, so that people could take advantage of us.

We remember being whipped for not doing what we had been told to do because we were behaving like we were men and women in the house, but only “one man” or “one woman” was in “this house.” We were still children so we should do what we were told.

We remember being whipped for not hurrying to do our chores because “time waits on no man” so we should get a move on.

We remember being whipped for being back late from doing our chores because we had been wasting time gallivanting with our friends, and their bread was buttered on all sides while we did not even have the first slice of bread.

We remember being whipped for waking late in the morning because if we waste half the day in bed, nothing would get done.

We remember being whipped for going to bed too early because we had chores still to do, and we must not shy away from work because work would put food on our tables.

We remember being whipped for going to bed too late because if we went to bed late we would not wake on time in the morning.

We remember being whipped before going to school because we needed to make sure we learned what teacher was teaching because we did not want to become anybody’s toy.

We remember being whipped for returning home from school late and not being able to readily recite all that we learned at school that day, because they were not wasting their money on nobody who is not interested in school.

We remember that the floggings had all been punctuated by lectures. We also remember that the number of the slaps that our parents or caregivers had given us during those times had seemed to us to be commensurate with the number of words that they had uttered while doing so, unless we managed to escape from their clutches.

Some of us remember that most of our parents had been careful in their flogging of us so as not to leave any lasting physical damage on us. We have since realized that the beatings that they had given us had been the only form of discipline that they had known, having gone through it themselves.

We have realized that our parents or caregivers had not had any malicious intent when they had beaten us. This pastime of theirs had always been intended as discipline. So, every time that we had, in their eyes, infringed one of their rules, or any time that they had believed that we had needed encouragement, they had drawn for their trusty belts.

We remember being resentful of those beatings, but many of us can expound on all the lessons that we learned from them, lessons that we have been putting to good use in our lives.

3. Memories of our communities and living conditions

As we have grown older and have traversed outside of our immediate environment, we have developed a much keener awareness of our circumstances than ever before. This awareness has been driven, more often than not, by our exposure to others who, we have come to realize, have been more privileged or less privileged than we have been. This awareness of our circumstances has dictated every move that we have been making to get us to this point in our lives.

Our travels outside of our neighborhoods have opened our eyes to ways of living other than that to which we have been exposed. We have been able to compare our neighborhoods to other neighborhoods and because we have done this, some of us have found our neighborhoods lacking.

As our eyes have been opened to other possibilities, some of us remember wishing for bigger and “prettier” houses than the ones our parents or caregivers were able to provide for us.

We remember wishing for electricity, water and telephones in our homes, as other people outside of our communities had.

We remember wishing for paved streets and street lights that other communities had.

We remember wishing for well-maintained, demarcated and equipped areas for sports and other recreational activities.

Some of us remember wishing for quiet neighborhoods in which there was no incessant reverberation of sound systems in our heads to keep us always awake.

Having become aware of other communities that have seemed to be “better” than ours, we have also focused our attention on our living conditions. And, for some of us who are on our journeys to our versions of success, we do not have fond memories of them.

a. Growing up in rural communities

Many of us who have had our beginnings in deep rural settings, and have not been “well-off,” remember our houses made of board with their one, two or three rooms, in their dilapidated states. Some of us remember having always with us a view of the outside world presented to us by the multi-shaped holes in the walls of our homes or in the roofing. We remember not minding this view during the day time, but we remember our terror at nights when the moving shadows outside had seemed to be getting ready to invade our space.

Some of us remember the leaky roofs that have often forced us to have an even tighter bond with our family members than we normally would have preferred, but have had to enjoy on rainy days.

Some of us are still seeing our tiny, outdoor kitchens in which our parents or caregivers spent countless hours preparing every meal—breakfast and dinner. It was a tiny wooden building or a lean-to that stood away from the house.

We can still see or hear our parents or caregivers creating their own magic inside. We can still smell the aromas emanating from there, and some of us can still feel the anticipation that we have had for whatever had been dispensed from its dark interior.

Some of us are experiencing the opposite reaction.

However, for many of us, every time that we think about our childhood meals, we have been amazed at the seeming wizardry of our parents or caregivers who had managed to feed their multitude with so little.

We remember our dining tables and chairs: the steps leading into the house and our laps, or the tree root and our laps, or the rails of the veranda, for those of us who lived in houses with them, or anything else that we were able to find to accommodate our weight at meal time.

Some of us who remember having “proper” tables and chairs remember our parents or caregivers either using them for decorative purposes or only on special occasions. And some of us remember these as being either the preserve of the father in the home, if there had been one, or them being used for additional storage.

Some of us remember our toilet facilities. We can still see them, tiny wooden or zinc-framed structures. They stood far away from the house and kitchen. They embraced the woods whose mysteries we had no intention to meet at nights. We remember rushing to them any time nature made her calls on us, whether day or night. We remember the races that we the children always ran to get there first, and we remember the discomfort that we always endured when we lost.

Some of us can still see our river, sometimes lazily, sometimes urgently making its way along its bed, all the way to the sea. That was our bathroom and washroom on the good days, huge and unconstrained on all sides, affording us unfettered views of the heavens and unlimited amounts of water for all our hygiene needs. We can still see its pools, small and large, deep and shallow in which we spent countless hours frolicking until either the voices of our parents or caregivers or our consciences alerted us to the passage of time.

However, on rainy days, some of us remember our bathrooms being the back of the house under the great expanse of the sky, while some of us remember the lean-to in which we had been able to enjoy our privacy, away from the prying eyes of passers-by.

And, we remember the pitch blackness of our environment at night. We can still see our mobile, trusty lamps, framed by the “home sweet home” lampshades, providing the light from which we read, and studied and stayed awake until bedtime.

We can also see our makeshift lamps that we used to chart our paths through the thick darkness to church at nights, to the party down the road or to the shop to get something that was so important, we couldn’t wait for the morning to get it. We can still see the circles of light that those contraptions emanated, and we can still feel the dread as we put one foot in front of the other in navigating the wall of darkness in front of us. Our hearts still race every time we remember our neighbors springing at us out of the darkness, and we, throwing off all good sense and taking off in the opposite direction at speeds unimaginable, with their laughter chasing us.

b. Growing up in inner city communities

Those of us who have grown up in urban centers, and who have been from poor families, can still see our wooden or concrete framed homes, or all zinc structures, or high rise structures that we called home. Some of us who have grown up in these wooden, concrete or zinc framed structures can still see the run-down corrugated zinc fencing separated our yards from our neighbors.

We can still see the containers of different shapes and sizes that we, or our parents or caregivers, strategically placed to catch the water that found its way inside by seeping through our inadequate roofing—an exercise in futility that we had never failed to perform on rainy days.

Some of us can still see our crowded homes, with hardly any space to put our feet because every available space is taken up with the furniture that our parents or caregivers believed that they needed, furniture which we had to keep in pristine condition, or else.

Some of us can see not much beyond the bed that takes pride of place in the room we call home.

Some of us can still see our communal shower and toilet facilities in their dilapidated structures. We can still see and hear the battles that were fought over them: somebody wanted to urgently use them while we were using them, somebody had left them in an unsanitary state, only one person had been cleaning them—our communal shower and toilet facilities were the sources of many of our quarrels.

We remember the feuds between and among rival groups over either guns, or politics, or space, or women, or men or a combination of all these. We still remember the perpetual dread and discomfort of our existence then.

Many of us who have grown up in living conditions such as these remember our communities, rife with either underemployment, unemployment, violence, or a combination of all of these. We remember our states of poverty.

Some of us remember our family members and other members of the community using unorthodox methods to eke out a living. We remember many of these family members and friends who, in their quest to survive, perished in their plots. We remember attempts by the masterminds of everything devious to draft us into that seemingly unending game of “Russian Roulette,” but either fear or self preservation or both seemed to have restrained us. We have survived our environment.

And for some of us who have had tough beginnings, we just remember our past as a stream of never ending poverty. When we look back, we realize that we have lacked. We have lacked the material things of life that we believed would complete our lives, if only we have had them. We remember our poor and overcrowded homes with everyone jostling for a little space, a space to be.

Yes, we have wanted nicer homes; we have wanted our own space; we have wanted access to all the utilities; we have wanted toys, fast food, new clothing, enough warmth, less warmth, yards with a few trees, yards with no trees, paved yards, vacations, books, schooling—we have wanted much. But, we have not had what we had wanted.

4. Memories of inadequate schooling

Some of us remember lacking schooling. We had wanted to go to school regularly like other children in our communities. We remember the school in our communities and we remember the one or two days per week that we graced its walls, and being excited by all the information that had floated this way and that, but being unable to grasp its significance, being stymied by debilitating absence. We remember vowing to ourselves that one day, one day, we’d figure it all out.

5. Memories of abuse

Some of us remember our whole past as a stream of never-ending abuse. Some of us remember our parents or caregivers as persons who, to us, seemed to have had frustrated ambitions with regard to professional boxing. Or, we have thought that they may have had too much zeal for the sport, and because of poverty, or stinginess, or both, or because of some other reason that we have never been able to fathom, they had chosen to use us as their punching bags, over and over and over, again, and again, and again, until we have become as frayed and worn as the punching bags, limply going through the motions of life.

Some of us have memories of being molested by people in our lives who we believed had the responsibility to protect us, but who abdicated their responsibility to do so: fathers, or mothers, or uncles, or aunts, or siblings, or cousins, or friends of the family, or other friends, or people in positions of trust or a combination of these people.

Some of us remember bringing our abuse to the attention of a significant person in our lives and being unceremoniously turned away, being called liars and worse.

Some of us have endured this abuse for years. But now, having grown up, we are filled with disgust and contempt for ourselves and our abuser/s. Some of us have felt such a deep sense of shame that we have refused to confide in any one. We have been carrying this burden alone, all of our lives.

6. Memories of our relationships with family members

Some of us remember with anger and resentment our past relationships with our parents or caregivers or siblings. We remember the actions of our parents that we deemed to have been excessively unjust, and for which we have been unwilling to forgive.

Some of us have memories of what we have perceived as ill-treatment by our parents or caregivers. We remember them deliberately giving us less food than our siblings, or the worst part of the meat—whichever part we think that is. We still remember the floggings to which we had been subjected, which we know we did not deserve. We still remember mistakes that we made, and what we believe had been overreactions from our parents or caregivers to those.

We remember our having to go without the new dress or pants or whatever item of clothing that we had wanted, because our parents or caregivers claimed that they could not afford it, even though we knew otherwise.

We remember their treatment of us in relation to our other siblings. We remember our siblings making fun of us, abusing us without our parents or caregivers reprimanding them.

We remember things they had said to us in the past that they are now pretending not to remember.

We remember our relationships with our parents or caregivers as bouts after bouts of discrimination and disadvantage.

7. Memories of the insults that have been tossed at us

For some of us, our memories of the past have centered on the insults that we have endured. We remember every insult that the people in our lives have carelessly tossed our way. We can still hear the voices: the voices of our family members, the voices of the people we considered to be friends, the voices of some of our teachers, the voices of strangers. We can still hear these voices taunting us.

Our minds spin as we hear these voices, voices which refuse to be silent, reminding us that we are ugly; “so and so” is prettier than you, we still hear. We are afraid to look ourselves face to face in the mirror because we remember that our nose is too big, or too small, or too pointy; they do not meet the ideal standard that someone has set for noses.

We hear the voices telling us that our eyes are too beady or too big; again, our eyes do not meet the ideal standard that somebody has set for eyes.

We hear voices telling us that our foreheads protrude too much, or that they are too flat or that they are shaped “funny;” yet again another one of our features does not meet the ideal standard set by some random person for foreheads.

We hear that our hair is too short, too curly, too nappy, too stringy, too dry or too oily; even our hair does not meet the ideal standard for hair that these random people have set.

We hear that we are as black as tar or as white as ghost, or as yellow as any comparison that they can pull out of their hats at the moment; our complexion is far from whatever that person thinks is the ideal.

Every part of our being has been found wanting; the criticizers all have different opinions of our person.

We hear ourselves being called lazy, no matter how much work we do or how little. We still hear the voices telling us that we will not amount to anything—that we are dunces; the negative superlatives never cease to haunt our memories.

These voices have been inhabiting our memories and therefore our present.

8. Memories of the provision of parents or caregivers

Some of us, in spite of lacking much, remember our past as being bound up with a parent or parents or a caregiver or caregivers who had a dream for us. These significant people in our lives never let go of the belief that education is the door through which we must pass to achieve success in life. As such, they never failed to send us to school every school day whether it was rainy or cloudy or sunshiny. We remember our parents or caregivers encouraging us to go to school and to do well because they wanted us to achieve much more than they had achieved from their schooling.

We remember going to school and doing our best, yet constantly being reminded by our more privileged friends and foes that we were dunces because we were poor. We remember teachers glossing over our work and giving us poor grades, no matter how hard we tried. But we remember, well, those teachers, friends and strangers who encouraged us to do well at school, so that one day we would be able to help ourselves and family.

We remember our chores that we had to do before and after school, and during the weekend, chores like walking great distances to water and feed the animals, to tote water for the family’s use, to do laundry at the river or spring, to collect the harvest from the farm, among a host of other chores which our parents or caregivers thought would be essential to our survival in the “real” world. “Horse must not be too proud to carry its own grass!” they drummed into our heads.

9. Memories of neglectful parents or caregivers

And while some of us remember with gratitude the care and love of our parents or caregivers, there are some of us who remember with regret and/or anger the laissez-faire attitude of parents or caregivers who managed our upbringing by what seemed to us like remote control.

We remember being left to our own devices, left to make our own decisions about our lives and we have taken what we thought was the easy way. We have enjoyed all kinds of freedoms: freedom from what we have perceived to be the boredom of school; freedom from observing etiquette; freedom from any constraint on our time; freedom from familial obligations; and freedom to be who we thought we wanted to be.

Some of us have been managing to find a path out of this situation, while some of us have been hoping for some kind of anchor to keep us grounded in the uncertain environment in which we have found ourselves.

10. Memories of our middle-class upbringing

Some of us remember our past as one in which we were not rich, neither were we destitute. We remember being privileged in many respects. We remember being relatively comfortable. We remember that our parents or caregivers had worked hard, and had been able to satisfy our material needs. We remember having access to nice clothing and to satisfying and, more often than not, nutritious meals. We remember always having access to all the utilities. We remember that our parents had either created recreational centers for us in our homes, or we had uninhibited access to them in our communities. We remember that though our homes had not been huge, they had been comfortable. We have had a good family life when we compared our lives to the lives of other persons we have been meeting along the way on our journeys.

11. Memories of a privileged past

Some of us remember our past as a stream of never-ending privilege. Our parents had much money, and they had not been afraid to spend it on us. We went to the best schools; we wore the best clothing; we got every material thing our hearts desired; we were exposed to every opportunity and we enjoyed many enviable experiences. We have had a good life and we continue to have a good life.

Yet, for some of us who have had privileged backgrounds, not all of us have agreed that it had all been idyllic. While we accept that we have had many enviable experiences and have enjoyed all the privileges that our parents or caregivers made available to us, some of us believe that we have suffered from deprivation.

We believe that we have suffered from a lack of acceptance, and we have suffered from a lack of confidence to chart our own course. And so the memories of the constant scrutiny of our family, friends and strangers—the scrutiny to ensure that we are “perfect” in their eyes—keep on haunting us.

We remember the constant criticisms: We remember criticisms of our features; of our clothing, of our attitudes, of our choices, and we remember being condemned to failure unless we toe the line that they had drawn for us. Some of us have now realized that all our lives we have been trying unsuccessfully to live up to the expectations of others.

12. Our pervasive pasts

Many of us who have been on our journeys to our versions of success have accepted that our past will always be a part of our present circumstances. We have been realizing that it has laid the foundation from which we have been expected to build, and from which we have been building.

We have also been realizing that the end result of our construction will be the result of our innovation and care with the resources with which we have been presented, whether much or less. We have also been realizing that whatever we have been constructing will remain mostly unfinished because, until we die, we are navigating the complex process of just being, and being requires that we keep on adjusting to the vagaries of life.

So, we have accepted that our past and subsequent experiences will continue to shape us into the persons who we have been becoming as the years roll by. Therefore, we have been examining our memories of the past every time that they have invaded our present. Whether or not we believe that they have been good, bad or we are indifferent to them, our emotions have been aroused.

For those of us who relish our good memories of the past, we have resolved to continue our journeys in order to acquire the resources to be able to continue to make good, even better, memories for ourselves and families.

For those of us who remember having had bad experiences, we have resolved to continue our journeys because we want to acquire the resources to create better memories for ourselves and our families—better memories than the ones that sometimes push past the barriers that we have set up to keep them out.

And, for those of us who are indifferent about our past, we have resolved to continue our journeys to our versions of success because we have been realizing that the more resources that we have, the more we have been able to satisfy our needs and wants.

We are all on our journey to our versions of success, and we have decided not to quit. We have decided to do whatever it takes to prepare ourselves to take on the ravages of our journeys, and we are confident that we will reach our destinations one day.

13. Our baggage

We who are on our journeys to our versions of success have started out with much baggage that we have been accumulating through the process of living. As we travel along on our journeys, we have been realizing that this baggage has been weighing us down. As a result, we have been finding it difficult to take great strides, or travel great distances daily on our journeys because of the weight that we have been carrying.

We know that we have many miles still to cover, and we know that we have a limited time in which to do so. Therefore, many of us have realized that we need to stop and sort through this baggage. We are aware that there is much of this baggage that we need to throw out, but there may just be some of it that we want to keep. So, we have been stopping at intervals on our journeys to our versions of success and we have been taking stock.


CHAPTER 2

Stocktaking

Just as the retailer, at intervals, takes stock by doing an inventory of items in her storehouse, making note of those items which need to be re-stocked, removing items which have spoiled and/or have passed their expiration dates from the shelves and storerooms, many of us pause from time to time as we travel through life to take stock. We take stock of our lives.

1. The nature of our stocktaking

Some of us have been realizing that even though the stocktaking process for the retailer is oftentimes scheduled and organized, for us it is oftentimes not scheduled and it is oftentimes not organized. We have realized that we have been forced to deal with the experiences that persistently clamor for our attention.

These experiences may be from our past, where we are coming from. They may be from our present, where we are in our lives right now. Whichever set of experiences, whether from the past or present, that seems to be having a hold on us at the moment is that to which we tend to direct our attention. These experiences that have a pervasive effect on us are usually the negative ones and they all impact us in different ways.

For some of us, however, stocktaking has been a deliberate process—one that we have scheduled. We have been taking stock because we have the trajectories of our lives in terms of accomplishments carefully planned. We have set objectives that we hope to achieve at predetermined points in our lives. We have been modifying these objectives as we navigate the twists and turns on life’s road.

As one friend on this journey to her version of success once said, after taking a new job which saw her elevating her status, “this is where I saw myself at this point in my life.” She has been achieving the objectives that she has set for herself, and she is noting another of her achievements— evidence of her success.

Our lives are storehouses which have a number of items that we have been collecting along life’s way. However, there are times when our storehouses become too full, much of its contents being junk. We do an inventory of all the things in our storehouses: things that we have been carrying around with us for a long time. We have been sorting through these items, separating the ones we deem to be “good” from the ones we deem to be “bad.” Some of us have been discarding the “bad” items, which we believe are inhibiting our progress on our journeys, and we have been keeping the “good” items that we believe are causing us to make progress on our journeys.

Taking stock, for us, has meant doing an evaluation of our lives with a view to making changes, positive changes. So, like the retailer who in taking stock wants to ensure that she has the quality goods on hand to satisfy the anticipated demands of her customers we, too, have our purpose for taking stock.

We take stock because we want to ensure that we can satisfy the demands that we have been making on ourselves. We want to make space for what we consider to be some of the more desirable collectibles that we have been acquiring as we travel along on our journeys to our versions of success, and we want to ensure that we have been traveling on the right road and in the right direction to our versions of success.

Some of the items that many of us have in our storehouses are the memories of our backgrounds and the experiences that we have had: relationships that are shaping our present, concerns about the future, issues with our physical being and our personalities, among other concerns. We begin the process of stocktaking by examining these items.

After examining these items, we have been finding much that we have overlooked before and we have been making some decisions. We have been making decisions about what we have to keep, what we want to keep, what we will repair, and what we will throw out.

2. Examining our memories

First, we have been spreading all our memories of where we are coming from on any surface that we have been able to find, and we have been examining them.

a. Poverty of our past

Some of us, when we examine these memories of where we are coming from see poverty in all or some of its guises: poverty in the physical infrastructure of our communities, poverty in the quality of our homes, poverty in the material possessions of our parents or caregivers, poverty in their provisions, poverty in the interactions between members of our communities, poverty in the interactions between members of our families, poverty in the relationships in which we have been engagedwe just see the bareness of the existence that we had to endure.

We realize after seeing our past in all its starkness that we have to do better. We tell ourselves that we can do better, and we have determined that we will do better. So, we are on our journeys. We have been looking for something that is much different and better than what we have left behind. We have been looking for our versions of success.

b. Poverty encased in love

Some of us when we examine the memories of our past that we have been spreading out in front of us see poverty encased in love. We see the deprivation but, superseding all that, we see love in the actions of our parents or caregivers. We see this love in the actions of relatives, and many of our neighbors.

We see the positive community spirit in spite of everything else that is lacking in our communities. We remember feeling safe, protected, looked over. “Not bad,” we say. But we also realize that we can do better.

We have determined that we will do better for ourselves and our parents or caregivers, and for all other members of our communities who have made an investment in our future. This has been the purpose of our journeysto find our versions of success by bettering ourselves, so that we can extend some help to those we have left behind.

c. A rosy view

Some of us when we examine the memories of our past that we have been spreading out in front of us stare at a rosy view of the existence that we have had. Instead of poverty, we see plenty and fullness. We see satisfaction. We see entitlement. We see success.

Since we have a first-hand experience of the possibilities that success can afford us, we have not been content to sit back and savor our existing success. We want more. This has been the purpose of our journeys, to find more success. We have been building on the foundation that our past has laid for us.

d. Examining our memoriesour decisions

Having been examining our memories of our past, we all have been seeing different pictures of them that are painted in different colors. Some of us are repulsed by some of our pictures. We do not appreciate their dark hues and grotesque shapes. Some of us do not mind looking at our pictures; they are not the prettiest pictures, but they speak to us in ways that only we can understand. Some of us are always looking at our pictures. They are beautiful, we think.

But, having looked at the pictures of our past, we see some that we will have to keep, we see some that we want to keep, we see some that we have to repair, and we see some that we will discard. We have determined that from now on, we will take our own pictures in the colors that we like; we will frame them the way we want to, and they will be just to our liking.

3. Examining the memories of our experiences

We have been spreading the memories of the experiences that we have had in the past in front of us, and we have been examining them. When some of us examine the experiences that we have had so far on our journeys through life, we have been caught in the throes of a myriad of emotions.

a. Memories of our charmed experiences

Some of us smile. We smile smugly when we examine the experiences that we have had, and where we have been. We smile smugly because we have lived, and have been living charmed lives, not because of our backgrounds, but in spite of them.

We have not wanted for much. We have always had benefactors who have been providing for us. Our journeys to our versions of success are bound up with their continued provision. We are confident that this provision will continue, so we skip blithely along the road as we continue on our journeys to our versions of success, thumbing our noses at the stragglers that we meet along the way.

If we can do it, why can’t they?” we ask. “They are sitting on their gold mines, and do not know it.”

b. Bitter-sweet memories of our experiences

There are others of us who also smile when we examine the experiences of our past and where we have been. But, our smiles are bitter sweet. We have been achieving much since we have embarked on our journeys to our versions of success, from as far back as we remember. We are not happy with the experiences that have made these achievements possiblethe experiences of deprivationsbut we have been realizing that these experiences of deprivations have been fueling our ambition.

We wish that our circumstances were different. However, we are happy that we have been achieving. But in spite of all that we have been achieving, we realize that we still have a far way to go because we have not yet helped our parents or caregivers in the way that we would like.

c. Memories of idyllic experiences

Some of us smile when we examine all the experiences that we have had in the past, and where we have been. Our smiles are unrestrained. We have been to many places, and we have had great experiences, but there are still more places to visit and many more good experiences to have. There is much more for us to achieve.

We see no obstacles along the road on our journeys to our versions of success. We only see opportunities, and we have been taking them. We briskly walk along the road on our journeys to our versions of success, genially greeting those who we have been meeting along the way.

d. Memories of our bitter experiences

Many of us, instead of smiling when we examine all the experiences that we have had, and where we have been, find ourselves being weighed down in desolation. We shed heart-rending tears. The bad experiences that we have had still take their toll on us.

Some of us have had pasts that have left us vulnerable, with stifled ambitions, with deep-seated hurts, lacking the will to exert effort, tightfisted, and negative and despondent. For years, we have been searching for an escape route out of our malaise.

We have been unable to loosen ourselves from their power in the past; this time is different we tell ourselves. It is time to move on. We have determined that we will exert the effort to wrest ourselves free, and we have been succeeding.

For too long, we have been locked in our prisons of despair, getting slight glimpses of what is possible, but never quite getting the chance, or taking the chance to hang on to the possibilities.

e. Our memories of our experiencesour decision

We have been examining our experiences that we have had in the past. Our experiences have been different and have elicited different emotions in us, but we all realize that these experiences are permanent fixtures in our lives. We have to keep them. And we realize that the nature of the experiences that we will have in the future are not guaranteed to be better than those that we have had in the past, but since we have decided to take control of our destinies, we know that we have a choice in the matter.

4. Examining our relationships

We have been examining the relationships that have been shaping our present. We have been examining the relationships in which we have been locked: relationships with parents or caregivers, relationships with spouses, relationships with friends, relationships with colleagues, relationships with acquaintances and relationships with ourselves. We have been examining the nature and quality of these relationships, and we have been making decisions about them.

We have been examining our relationships in our homes, in our workplaces, in our social groups, and we have been making decisions about these, as well.

a. Examining our relationshipsour decisions

When we have examined the relationships that have been shaping our present, we have seen a number of them that we have to endure, some in the short-term and some in the long-term. We see some relationships that we want to nurture. We see some that we want to repair, and we see some that we will discard.

5. Examining our physical beings

Many of us have been examining our physical beings. We have been concerned because we have been afraid that we do not meet the standard of beauty that our societies have set for us. So, we have been worrying.

Some of us have been worrying that we are too old.

Some of us have been worrying that we are too thin. Some of us have been worrying that we are too fat. Some of us have been worrying that we are too plump. Some of us have been worrying that we are too big-boned. Some of us have been worrying that we are too small-boned. Some of us have been worrying that we are too tall. Some of us have been worrying that we are too short, and some of us have been worrying that we are not tall enough or short enough.

Some of us have been worrying about our complexion. We have been worrying that we are not fair enough; some of us have been worrying that we are not dark enough; some of us have been worrying that we are too black, and some of us have been worrying that we are not black enough.

We have been worrying that our hair is too nappy or too curly or not curly enough. We have been worrying that it is too straight or not straight enough. Some of us want hair other than that which we have inherited from our parents.

Some of us have been worrying about the sizes and shapes of our lips, noses, eyes, ears, and breasts. We have been worrying that they are too big, not big enough, too small, and not small enoughwe find much that we do not like about ourselves.

Some of us are not content with just being a part of humanity, a part that is unique in its own way. We want to blend in.

a. Examining our physical beingsour decisions

We have been hearing the rhetoric about beauty that is being bandied about by many “experts” in our societies. We have been listening to this rhetoric, and we have been doing an examination of our physical being in relation to this rhetoric. We have been realizing that there is much about us that we do not have any choice about whether or not to keep or discard. We are stuck with ourselves.

Some of us like what we see in the mirror, even though it does not meet the standards that others have set. We have decided to keep it as is.

Some of us like what we see in the mirror, but we have decided to make some improvements.

And there are a few of us who are totally miserable with what we see in the mirror.

We all have been realizing that we have decisions to make and actions to take.

6. Examining our personalities

Some people who we have been meeting along the road on our journeys to our versions of success have been commenting on our personalities. So, we have been examining our personalities.

a. We are the life of any party.

Some us have been realizing that we have “big” personalities. We like to be the center of attention. We talk loudly. We are assertive. We are the life of any party. We recognize when others are stealing our thunder, and we know exactly how to get the spotlight back on us.

We have many opinions on everything and everyone, and we are not afraid to share them. We laugh at ourselves all the time, and we are always ready to laugh with, and laugh at others.

We know that we are a bit bossy. “This is who we are,” we say, even though we recognize that we aggravate others with our bossiness.

We want positions, the higher the status the better for us, and we have been relentlessly pursuing these to the detriment of anyone who gets in our way.

We are social butterflies. We prefer to delegate what we believe to be unpleasant or difficult tasks, leaving ourselves free to do what we do best engage an audience.

We have been examining our personalities and we have been realizing that we have decisions to make, and we have actions to take.

b. We are reserved

In examining our personalities, some of us have been realizing that we prefer our own company. We are reserved. We listen more than we speak. We have opinions on everyone and everything, but we choose to guard our tongues.

We like things that we believe are wholesome and right, in our estimation. We believe in doing our fair share of work, and even more if it is required. We genuinely care about people, what they think, what they need, how they are feeling. We are not shy about encouraging others. We participate willingly in activities in which we are interested. We are quietly assertive. We are not lacking in respect, but we are not easily cowed. We believe in personal and professional development, and we are always pursuing these. We accept responsibility if it is given to us and we feel that we can commit ourselves to it, but we do not go searching for it, neither do be begrudge others who are in higher positions than we are. We are comfortable with ourselves.

Having examined our personalities, we know that we have decisions to make and actions to take.

c. We are loners.

Some of us after examining our personalities have been realizing that we do not like people much. We are happiest when the spotlight does not shine on us.

We have our opinions of everything and everyone, but we rarely contribute to any conversation.

We are not interested in much, except that which directly relates to us.

We want to be left alone to do things our way, and only the things that we want to do or have been contracted to do, nothing more. And if more is asked of us, we expect to be rewarded. No reward, no work.

We think that other people do not like us. We have a list of possible reasons for this. And we believe that people are always talking about us behind our back. We can discern shade in every comment that anyone has ever made to us. Most times we feel all alone and abandoned.

We see the flaws in everyone. We have a long list of complaints that we are ready to share with anyone who is willing to listen to us. We believe that nobody likes us, but we don´t care, we say.

We, too, have been examining our personalities, and we know that we have decisions to make and actions to take.

d. Our personalitiesour decisions

We have been examining our personalities. We know exactly who we are, we say. We have been achieving some of our goals in spite of our personalities. Therefore, some of us have decided that we will keep our personalities intact. We are who we are. Some of us have decided to make a few changes.

7. Examining our hygiene

Some of us have been examining our hygiene. A concerned traveler on the same road as we who have been traveling to our versions of success has pointed out this failing to some of us. Some of us have immediately remembered that our parents or caregivers have always told us that if we are going “amongst” people we must be clean. We have learned from them. These persons have always demonstrated this belief in their daily lives, and we have emulated them as we travel on our journeys to our versions of success.

However, some of us on our journeys to our versions of success have been so busy chasing after success that we have been ignoring this issue of hygiene.

a. Examining our hygiene – our decisions

Some of us have decided to practice good hygiene because on this journey we have had to invade each other’s space, at times. We do not want to offend, so before we begin each day’s journey we ensure that we have paid very close attention to our personal hygiene. This has been an easy decision for us to make.

Some of us, after our initial embarrassment and anger at the temerity of this stranger to have raised this issue, have listened. We have been examining every element of our hygiene, and we know that we have decisions to make and actions to take.

8. Examining our dress

We who are on our journeys to our versions of success have been told that if we want to attain success, we need to dress for it. This has meant different things to all of us. Some of us have examined our wardrobes because we want to know whether or not we have the necessary items of clothing to allow us to dress for the success that we have been chasing.

Some of us have been satisfied with what we have found. Others of us have been dissatisfied, but we all know that we have decisions to make and actions to take.

a. Examining our dressour decisions

Some of us have decided that we will keep everything that we have in our wardrobes. We have been managing quite well with them.

Some of us have decided that we will make some changes to our wardrobes. Probably, doing so will make a difference in our prospects, we think.

And, some of us have decided that we will discard everything in our wardrobes. We will start anew. Our clothing will define us, and set us apart from the other travelers with us on our journeys to our versions of success.

9. Examining our achievements to date

Some of us have been examining our achievements to date, and some of us have been finding that we have been achieving much, educationally and financially.

Some of us have been finding that we have not yet achieved as much as we had wanted to achieve at this point in our lives. Some of us have been finding that we have very few achievements to our credit because we have just started our journeys to our versions of success. However, we have all been finding that we have had some achievements.

Some of us celebrate just being alive. Many of our friends have not been so lucky. Some of us celebrate just having a job, any job. There are many people we know who do not have one. Some of us celebrate our promotions on the job. These are validations that we have been moving in the right direction and that our success is not out of reach.

Some of us are happy to have finished our secondary schooling. Some of us celebrate just having had some schooling. Some of us are happy that we have completed tertiary level schooling. Some of us are happy that we have started the process.

Some of us are happy that we have a skill. Some of us are happy that we are in the process of acquiring one.

Some of us celebrate having a spouse and/or children.

We are happy about our accomplishments because we see them as one stage in laying the foundation on which we will build the rest of our success.

a. Examining our achievementsour decisions

We have been examining our accomplishments to date. We know that we have decisions to make and actions to take. Some of us have decided to keep on doing the things that have been working for us, and some of us have decided to make some modifications.

10. Envisaging our futures

All of us think often about our destinations and the experiences that we are likely to have when we get there. Our destination is success, our versions of it. Success means different things to all of us, but we all dream of having the material things in life that our pasts have lacked.

Some of us just dream of having enough food to eat, adequate shelter and clothing. Some of us dream of being able to afford anything we want to eat, a nice house, nice car and nice clothes. Some of us dream of living the life of high-fliers. Some of us dream of having some money. Some of us dream of having more money than we can ever spend. Some of us just want any job. Some of us want high profile jobs. Some of us want status.

a. Examining our envisioned futuresour decisions

We have been realizing that we all want the same thing and different things. We hope to find these at our destination. Success is our destination. We have not quite reached this destination, but we are determined to get there. There is still action that we need to take to get there. We have decided to continue to follow our plans.

11. Findings from our stocktaking

For some of us who are on these journeys to our versions of success, we have been realizing that we still have much work left to do where our stocktaking is concerned. We have been realizing that our stocktaking is incomplete.

For some of us, the shadows of our tough upbringing have been our constant companions through all of our wanderings through life. They have been with us as we navigate all the relationships in the social groups that we have been passing through on our way to the destination that we have charted for ourselves. And if life has proven to be too difficult for us, and we have become lost in its maze, the shadows of our past have been unhelpful companions, but we have stuck with them.

We have been realizing that instead of staring down our past and confronting head-on those things that are strangling us in the present, we have summarily been dismissing it any time it has attempted to intrude on the present that we have constructed for ourselves. Sometimes, some of us have been reluctant to fully face the reality that our past represents.

From our stocktaking, we have been finding that there are items in our storehouses that we are running low on, that we need to re-stock. For some of us, we are running low on confidence, faith, empathy, among other such items. And, for some of us, we have totally run out of these items.

Some of us have items that have long passed their expiration dates on our shelves and in our storehouses: self-pity, self-doubt, jealousies, and all manner of negativity. But we refuse to get rid of them. We just dust them off as we do our stocktaking and carefully put them back in place.

Some of us have been realizing that the present that we have been constructing for ourselves has been laid on a foundation of pretense. We have been pretending to be people other than who we really are. The more steps we take on the roads on our journeys to our version of success, the more we have been realizing that our construction is unstable. We have been realizing that our building is tottering because the foundation on which we have built it is cluttered with delusions.

Some of us have been realizing that our construction is unstable because we have not cleared the foundation of its rubble: the hurts, the hatred, feelings of worthlessness, the despair, the feelings of abandonment, the feelings of betrayal, and all the other negative emotions that have plagued our formative years. But, what’s worse, we have been realizing that we have been constructing our present atop of this rubble, our present in which we view every joy suspiciously and we have been allowing every new hurt to become affirmation of what we already knowthat nobody likes us and that they are out to get us, that the system is against us, that we cannot win.

We have been coming to this realization by talking to other travelers who, like us, are on their journeys to their versions of success. Some of us therefore have been doing damage control.

12. Confronting our pasts

Some of us have been confronting head-on that reality, the reality of our past. We have been realizing that our past is still present with us and has been handicapping us, limiting our progress on so many levels. We have therefore chosen to embrace the reality that our past represents, learning from our experiences and have been using the lessons learned to construct the future that we have been envisioning for ourselves.

Having examined our past, we have been removing the rubble from beneath the foundation on which we have been trying to build our future. We have been realizing that if we bury our past without properly treating it, it will come back to haunt us, making any future for us untenable.

After traveling for miles with our baggage on our backs that have been pressing us into the ground, we have gotten fed-up, and have tossed much of this baggage in the dumpster that has been strategically placed alongside the road on which we have been traveling. Having been freed of our burdens, we have been hopping and skipping and running and dancing along the road on our journeys to our versions of success.

13. Benefits of stocktaking

In undertaking this process of stocktaking, we have been clearing a path out of the maze that our lives have been, and trying to find our bearings so that we can chart our course to take us where we want to go. We have been finding that the process is a complicated but necessary one. Clearing this path has been requiring that we employ several strategies in order to arrive at an understanding of our positioning as regards the myriad of situations that proliferate in our environment in which we have our being, so that we can best navigate them.

Moreover, taking stock of our situations has been providing us with options after we have answered these questions: Are we going to stay hooked to the things that are holding us down? Are we going to wait for someone, anyone to release us from that which has snagged us? Or, are we going to rock ourselves free from our bonds?

Our answers to these questions have been “No!” “No!” and “Yes!” in that order. Since we have been in search of some measure of success from our sojourn through life, we have decided to take the initiative and free ourselves from all that is constraining us and preventing us from this pursuit.

Furthermore, this process of stocktaking has been giving us the wherewithal to create our own plan from which we have been building the rest of our lives. Through the process of our stocktaking many of us have been developing the courage to systematically repair and strengthen, or in some cases, abandon the old foundation on which our lives have been built. That is, the foundation that we have been willed by virtue of the environment in which we were born.

We have all been searching for our versions of success. In finding our versions of success, we hope to enjoy our versions of the good life. In whatever state that we have started our journeys, we have been finding that the process of stocktaking has been a useful tool to keep us focused on our destination, and it has been helping us to steadily steer towards it, while navigating the obstacles in our way.

14. Negatives of stocktaking

For some of us, this process of stocktaking has seen us resurrecting experiences and emotions that we have thought carefully buried. Now, we have discovered that they have been festering all along and have been eating away at us, leaving us in need of urgent reinforcement and rehabilitation.

Many of us on our journeys to our versions of success have been realizing that when we seriously take stock by looking closely and honestly at where we have been, the experiences that we have had and what these experiences have done to us, then seeking and accepting help to resolve the troubling issues that will not let us be, we have been taking the first step toward healing.

For many of us, healing holds out the hope to us that we can begin to create the type of structure that is authentic to us, and on a foundation that is able to support it. Having begun this process, we have been finding that we have been able to achieve some measure of genuine enjoyment from the life that we have been creating.

15. Reflections on our stocktaking

In doing an examination of the items in our storehouses that we have been collecting on our journeys through life, we have been seeking answers to this question: What is this past that is having such a pervasive influence on our present?

As clich├ęd as this is, we, somewhere along our journeys through life, have realized that we really need to understand where we are coming from in order to determine where we are going. Our examination of our memories and experiences of our past has been providing us with the answer to this question.

16. Our next step

We who are on our journeys to our versions of success have been realizing that we all have diverse pasts, which, for many of us, still have a controlling interest in our lives. Many of us instead of sitting down, folding our arms and being overwhelmed when we have been faced with the challenges that life continues to throw at us, have been active, aware and have been finding innovative ways to overcome. Being passive, that is, covering ourselves in a cloak of helplessness, has not been an option that we have ever considered. We have been finding the strength to deal when we positively reinforce ourselves.

So having done an examination of the issues of concern in our lives that are in our storehouses, we turn to doing a detailed analysis of ourselvesa SWOT analysis.


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About the Author

Janette B. Fuller is a teacher and author of three books. Her business is to write stories set in the place she knows best – Jamaica – while also helping writers to write their own stories. When you are ready to write your story, make contact with her @ writingwisdomtree@gmail.com. Check out her books here


 



 

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