You’re shocked, disappointed and frustrated. You begin to think life is so unfair. You did all the research required. You were even asked the exact questions you practiced. It really was a great interview and “all” went well. Or so you thought. But by some mystery, you did not make the final cut, even though they said you were good.

How could they not hire you! You are tempted to call and tell them they either made a mistake or even worse, it’s their loss.

Paul Arden, and many others think differently. In his best-selling book “IT’S NOT HOW GOOD YOU ARE, IT’S HOW GOOD YOU WANT TO BE”, Paul Arden shares a true story of how his ad agency was one of six companies to be short-listed for a government account. His agency spent three months working on the campaign. They were due to pitch their concept on a Friday, but at 5pm on Wednesday, they were told their agency didn’t make the cut for the final three.

Do you think they gave up and said, we were not lucky this time, maybe next time? No, they didn’t!

Instead, Paul convinced his CEO to tell the client they had another campaign prepared and they were willing to show the client at 9am on Thursday. Matter of fact, they didn’t have any new campaign. They lied. But they made sure the team met at 8am the next day and worked through the feedback the client gave on why their original campaign did not make the cut for the final 3. They then came up with a new campaign. Guess what? By Friday, they had turn things around and their agency ultimately won the account.

My question to you is, do you think you can get over the disappointments and ask if your best was really enough? Probably not. And that is where most people miss it.

But, I hope for your own sake that you do ask why and find ways to improve and be better.

Paul Arden’s story goes to show that it’s not just about the preparation before, but the analysis after is even more crucial.

 

Take, Bobby Fischer for instance. He was one of the best chess players of all time. He was talented, but he wasn’t exactly the best player growing up.

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At he age of 13, he “disappeared”. He went into hiding and thoroughly studied all the games played in the 17th century. When he reappeared to play, he became great. He adopted some of the “old-fashioned” methods from the 1850s, but he would infuse his own little improvements he had developed along the way.

He “disappeared” again after he was US Champion. This time, he spent time learning Russian so he could read all the Russian chess magazines. He will study his matches after and analyze how he can make it even better next time.

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How much time are you spending honing your skills? Do you assume you have “arrived”, so you don’t want to learn anything new or revise the old? Or you truly believe in not fixing anything that is not broken.

If all you have are the old skills that got you wherever you are now, don’t assume it will automatically get you further next time.

Einstein aptly puts it this way; “there is nothing that is a more certain sign of insanity than to do the same thing over and over and expect the results to be different”

Mick Jagger’s band, The Rolling Stones made over $600 million on their last tour, but when they started over 50 years ago, they would perform at over 200 places yearly for almost no money. They were honing their skills.

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The Beatles also played for about 20 hours a day, 7 days a week at various strip clubs in Hamburg, West Germany from 1960 to 1962. They were honing their skills.

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Benjamin Franklin said, “I haven’t failed, I’ve had 10,000 ideas that didn’t work”

Thomas Edison also notes that, “Of the 200 light bulbs that didn’t work, every failure told me something that I was able to incorporate into the next attempt”.

If you want to be great, achieve mastery, dominance, world-class status and to be known as the best, then go through your various experiences and analyze them piece by piece.

Anything less, will make you good and soon your good will not be good enough reducing you to average.

Life might not be fair, but be fair to you. Learn, unlearn and relearn. Do the work, piece by piece.

Photo credit from http://www.longlivesomaliland.com

Photo credit from Google images

I am angry. I am crying for my race and my continent.
Can we all do our bit? Let’s ask questions and find answers.
Let’s change the narrative. Let’s just try.

Enough of the low self esteem, mediocrity and accepting the status quo.

Where did all this nasty and selfish attitudes come from?

Where are our priorities?

Why did we stop getting hungry and thirsty for knowledge to make things better?

To whom much is given, much is indeed required. We are living in exciting times with loads of advancements in loads of fields. What is our excuse?

Do you think if you close your eyes , the situation(s) will go away?

If you are waiting for “governments” and “leaders” to fix things, it will be a long wait.
We put them in power, but we don’t demand change. Why?

We are sometimes not objective, but rather religiously praise our respective political parties even they they don’t deliver. Why?

You can start from your neighbourhood. Yes, some people will sit and watch and even mock you. It’s not about them.

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Let’s fix things, let’s get to work. Yes, let’s get governments to be accountable, but it is not enough just blaming one political party after another. This can be a useless trip to no where.

Oh! citizen of the land, what are you doing? What rent are you paying for using the planet?
Where from the apathy?
Don’t be a dead weight.
Don’t get busy doing nothing.
Don’t just watch and complain.

Do something. Just try.

The situation is bad, but not hopeless. You and I are hope enough, if we decide to think and do and not just talk.

My focus is on education. What is yours? Health ? Environment ? Agriculture? Technology?

I know some try, but can MORE people please try?

Get angry and find a solution. Don’t give up. You give up “you die”!

Start thinking and start doing!
By all means do something. Let’s keep moving, but let’s strive for excellence.

Let’s just try!

edemadzaho:

The everyday things we do!
Delali, I am humbled to know I influenced your life positively.

Originally posted on Miss Dee writes:

The three inspiring ladies

The three exceptional ladies.

Saturday, March 8, marked International Women’s Day (IWD). I went through a list of all the ladies I have met, and decided to write about three of them. These ladies, I believe are different in every way, but have managed to challenge and shape my thoughts as an individual and a lady for that matter.

Edem Adzaho- CEO, SPEC Consult (photo credit- www.specconsult.com)

Edem Adzaho- CEO, SPEC Consult (photo credit- http://www.specconsult.com)

Edem Adzaho – I had an encounter with Edem during a Barclays Bank and British Council organised programme for graduates, about two years ago. She is the CEO of her own company, SPEC Consult. This tall lady walked into a session, very confidently while I sat admiring. She challenged the class to more inquisitive, adventurous and target the global market as graduates. She admonished us to look for opportunities all over the world.  Spotted in blazers and high heels, this lady shared her…

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It’s my birthday month and when I am blessed to see that day, I don’t want to invest precious time worrying or asking silly little questions.
Of course questions are good when put in perspective, but I won’t be asking sad ‘why me’ questions. Matter of fact, I don’t have those questions to ask anyway.
I will rather be figuring out more ways to be an even better human being.

If you’re my age or whatever age you are, did it come too quickly? Have you ever taken the time to evaluate how you used that time? Well, I invite you to do a life audit with me. Don’t wait till 31st December.

Take it as a feedback by you for you. You can be your own shrink. It’s about time you pat your self on the back or chest or make amends. More importantly an audit will give you the confidence to step into the “next chapter”.

There were things I wanted to do. Oh! lots of things…

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In hindsight, I am glad I didn’t do some of them. I remember clearly saying how I wanted to get my Master’s degree by 25 and start my own business before 30. I have done both and happy I did.
I still have the energy, drive and ambition to still do some others. All I need is life , continuous health and the Big man up there watching over me :)
Do I have regrets? Yes, just one, that I haven’t seen as much of the world as I will have hoped. I know some people will find this odd, but I spent a lot of time in my 20s in London trying to reconnect with my parents and getting an education. These of course are very important things, but I could have done both if I had prioritised well and not spent a fortune on seemingly important things then. Things I will cringe to own now or even worse don’t even remember owning now.
To be fair , at least two of those years turned out to be possibly the best years of my life , forming friendships that have lasted till this day.
I am grateful for those years , a huge part of who I am now is the relationships I formed along the way, the people I had to cut off from my life, the really tough times I had to endure and the choices I make daily.

I have been taking care of my self since age 11 and I have come to discover, that though I am pretty disciplined, I am very much a free spirit and like to set my own rules. I don’t conform. More importantly I have never found the need to be popular amongst my peers. I don’t compete in that kind of contest. It’s a total waste of time.
My non-conformity also led to a “rebellious” streak that has served me quite well. My purposeful rebellion comes from knowing what I want to do with my life and living my life just the way I want it. Is it selfish? I doubt that, but only time will tell.

Like most parents, mine had “big ideas/plans” for my future and if I had followed my parents plan , I will have done well. Undoubtedly, I will have possibly made more money than I probably do now, but I will have been miserable.

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My dad had specific plans for my life. He had me at age 26 and wanted me to get married same age as he did , after I had gone to Oxford , gone to Chile to volunteer and learn Spanish ,then Japan to study for another Masters degree as well as the language ,then to Harvard for an MBA and then work in Investment Banking with Goldman Sachs.

Mum, wanted me to be a nurse or a lawyer and when there was so sign of that happening, she suggested IT and made her disappointment clear when I decided to study Tourism. She doesn’t remember all that now. :)
Only time again will tell the kind of parent I will be.
I will always remember dad saying ,“whatever you want to do, make sure you are the best” . I agree totally. Its a tough call, but doable and I try to raise my standards all the time, something people will find difficult to handle in their dealings with me.

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I feel like I have a second chance and these are some of the lessons I have learnt so far and try to live by:
· That it is important to find out who you want to be early in life and at least try being that person.
· Choose who you listen and don’t listen to, because you can learn a lot from their failures and successes.
· By all means listen to other people’s thoughts, opinions and perspectives, but never let them choose for you. It is okay to “rebel” and choose your own path.
· I have learnt to pack my own “parachute ” and to be very resourceful. If you also took care of yourself at age 11, you will have no choice than to be independent and resourceful.
· If you’re married, please communicate your needs to the person you are in the marriage with, not just your friends or family. It’s okay to have someone listen to you, but I think your partner has a right to know how you feel, what you want and how they can help.Then again, who am I to advise on marriage when I haven’t been married before? I can only speculate my ideals.
· Single girls are not always a threat. Were you a threat, when you were a single woman?
· If you’re single, enjoy it, there is nothing wrong being single. I enjoy mine and every now and then its fun to be “introduced” . Introductions are okay as the parties introduced will figure things out on their own . What I dislike though is when “friends” think they are doing you a favour and try to “fix” you up, dare I say , with unsuitable men, men they will never choose themselves if they have to do it all over again.

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They play cupid and think “time is running out”. I am not broken and the wrong man won’t “fix me up”. The wrong man will just destroy my soul. I have dated enough good , bad , terrible and ugly men to know what I want and don’t want.
· Being single can be a consciously deliberate choice , that requires no explanations to others. Since when did getting to know yourself before the right person came along  became a waste of time? Your biological clock might be “ticking”, but getting desperate is disastrous and the more you worry, the more stressful you will be and the less chances you will have to conceive if you’re unhappy or stressed when the time comes. Research has proven this.
· Not every man who says “I love you ” is worthy of your love. Do you love them too? If not release them.Let them go if you REALLY believe in love. I have “released” people and I bet they are grateful now that I did. I am glad I got released too. ;)
I know people who loosely say “I love you” in my part of the world without having the faintest idea what it means to love. They “love” you on their terms and will not negotiate . It’s so bad , it’s ridiculous.

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· God always has a better idea for you. Concentrate on what you have and be grateful for them. Stop focusing on the things you don’t have
· You have a child or children because you want to, not because people think you should. You don’t have kids for people.
· Be deliberate about your life and choices. Going with the flow can be a myth. Have goals and dreams, but know the cost of your dreams. What price will you pay for your dreams? Make sure you ask yourself that.
· I used to think I could help everyone, but I am not God. I am also learning it is okay to take and not just give all the time.
· Much as I am loyal and kind to a fault, and will forgive easily , I have no worries disconnecting disloyal people from my life.
· It will hurt sometimes, and although the idea of forever is great, not all friendships are forever, we evolve and want different things at some point.
· No one wants to hang out with a depressed soul, it is exhausting and if you are always down, the world will make sure they walk all over you. Get back up!
· Self-confidence is really sexy, so is a smile. It has nothing to do with the clothes you wear. If you feel awful when those clothes are off then work on your self esteem.

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· Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Admire them, but don’t compare.
· Please lets not judge people. You don’t always know the whole story.
. It pays to be patient sometimes. Just know when to choose your battles.
· Live, because you could be gone too soon.

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I started to come alive in Berlin.
The history , culture , art and architecture can be intoxicating.
There is so much to do and see in Berlin.

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Oh! I think I have some of the best photos from Berlin . Way too much to even choose from.That is what you get when one of your host is a super talented photography and film graduate.

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I was hosted by 2 Schneiders , both I met on separate ocassions in Ghana and have known each for at least 6years. Although they lived in Ghana at the same time , they never met. It was time to introduce these two lost “cousins” as they later started calling themselves cousins. They are not related :)
The first Schneider who was in Sierra Leone when I visited in 2010 , made it quite clear I shouldn’t even think of coming and not seeing him.He came for me from the bus station and we headed off to get the obligatory curry wurst to catch up. Being a lawyer and one of my interviewees for my book we talked non stop.

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I really enjoyed Berlin this time around ,but was shocked by the disgusting attitude of an obnoxious guy on the train , who called a woman probably his mother’s age, a fat pig, when all she asked was for him to make room for her to sit.
He had occupied all the seats by putting his gym bag and his feet on the seats making it quite clear no one was allowed to sit next to him.
But of course my other Schneider friend , the photographer and I decided to dethrone him. He wasn’t happy , but not brave enough to cross an overly excited me and my eccentric friend with the longest blonde dreadlocks he’s probably ever seen.

In Berlin I met an Angel. Okay , a human angel when I needed it most. :)
I was returning from Prague alone late at night and tired too. Some familiar stations on my route were closed because of ongoing construction work. I was feeling a little lost especially as my friends were against the Prague idea , then I heard the calmest voice ever in English asking “can I help?” “Are you okay?” Stefan , made sure I was okay and got me on the easiest alternative train connection.I found out later as we connected on Facebook he is also a big traveller ( http://redcat-travel.com/about/ )
and writes and runs a cool travel site on http://redcat-travel.com , you should check it out.

In Berlin , I met so many other travellers. An Australian who lost everything except his passport , when he and his friends went for a swim at 2am in Ibiza. (loosing my phone earlier in Antwerp was nothing after all).
An Argentine and Mexican who didn’t know where Ghana was. Oh! The Australian didn’t either. But now they know. :) I wish my fellow Ghanaians were there. They would have died in shock horror. :)  We Ghanaians  have a sense of pride and think everyone knows and should know who we are as we claim to be Africa’s friendliest people and “the gateway to Africa”.

Lessons from Berlin?
1. As much as I love my friends and appreciate their hospitality , there is no need to overly discuss my travel plans and next destination with them. I will in the future just tell people where I am off to on the day and when I am due back. They nearly discouraged me from going to Prague and Lithuania. They live in Europe and I don’t. They had already forgotten, how extensively they travelled ,when they lived in Ghana.
Plus , I had a plan , that I was paying for with my own time and money not theirs.
2.People always think they know what is good for you and how to live your life. It is really important to know what you want for and from your life
3.Life is sometimes full of  “almost”  situations and choices. I guess you take what you get until you maybe get a clearer picture

4 .There are human devils and angels everywhere.

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Celebrating Swiss patriotism

Celebrating Swiss patriotism

Writing about Zurich has been a weird struggle.
Anytime I try to write , I have flashbacks. Not very good ones.
I couldn’t do 2 of the interviews I was hoping to do in Zurich for my book and I felt like a failure.
Oh! and it doesn’t help that I have lost my draft for this post twice.
But I have made a commitment to keep you updated, so here is to another try. Cheers!

Zurich is beautiful and very , very expensive. If there is anything you can get for free ,is the many fountains dotted across town. It’s nice to drink from them and even nicer to watch other people do.Thought I should clear that up for anyone who is yet to visit.

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Now , until a few days ago I have always thought it was a waste of time going to Zurich.
A waste of MY time in a lot of ways especially as there were other cities on my bucketlist , that I didn’t get to see on this trip.
Note, I said MY TIME, not the legendary “Swiss time” so no Swiss should be offended. It had nothing to do with you and given the opportunity , I will love to see it again with other bits of Switzerland too. I was pretty impressed with how patriotic the Swiss are with all the Swiss flags at almost every turn.

It was one of those spur of the moment decisions I made when I was planning my trip back in Ghana. One minute it was on the list another minute it was out. In the end I sacrificed Austria , possibly Portugal and Barcelona for Switzerland.
I took up the offer to be a one-off photographer for a friend who was going to be in the city for a few days in exchange for her nice hotel bed to sleep in as well as discover the city together. The bed I got, the rest didn’t happen for a number of reasons.
I also had the chance to meet up with my other friend Samuel for the first time after talking online for nearly a year , if he was free to meet. He in the end become my photographer and tour guide . What an irony, considering there was very slim and almost no chance of us meeting.
Because of my missed train and bus connections to and from Antwerp(check previous blogpost) I could only stay for a day instead of three. This I was happy about actually.

I will agree with whoever said it’s not about the destination , but the journey. I found that to be true especially with my trip to and from Zurich.
On my way to Zurich from Antwerp , I sat next to an older woman who asked where I was from.I thought I was smart to guess hers and said Ethiopia. She wasn’t amused. She was Eritrean. :) I now understood why she wasn’t seating next to her family , (4 of them on the bus) She just won’t stop talking. Even worse I didn’t understand anything she said.She will throw in one English word every now and again for effect. Luckily there was wifi on the bus and I had my iPad to read stuff on , but it was hard!

Our bus was stopped at the Swiss border. Passports were checked and for nearly 40minutes no one could get out to even go to the toilet as sniffer dogs were sniffing for what they sniff for. My bus was coming from Amsterdam, through Antwerp to Zurich. Any clues?
At last breakthrough! They found a suspect. A strange looking ,but unassuming young man in his mid 20′s dressed like a 60′s rockstar. He was asked to come along with the police and open up his guitar. After waiting for what seemed like forever, he was allowed to join the bus. Meanwhile , I spent my time people watching and trying to figure out how the police randomly stopped drivers and people for a routine check.

At my destination , I laughed so hard with Samuel who attempted to show me around particularly the Old town , and making up stories along the way or pointing to things in one word(for example, that’s a church,lake etc, very funny I know ).

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After the failed , but fun attempt of a tour in terms of history etc,(don’t blame him, he is a Brit who calls Ghana home, what do you expect ? :) )we had lunch by the lake ,fed swans and ducks and watched as people took turns to conquer their fears with a cheering crowd looking on to jump into the lake from the highest height possible.

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Later , I discovered the most amazing dessert made with beer at a pub in the main Zurich HB. I have to recreate that dessert or go back again for it. It was that good we couldn’t stop talking about it.And I am not even a beer drinker.
Off next , was to find my other friend’s hotel.This was another micro journey in itself, we got on the right train from Zurich HB, but somehow me missed some stops. We got lost maybe twice, until we got lucky.I am grateful to Samuel for taking this micro journey with me. My confidence was low and I just wanted to get lost somewhere else. I followed my heart and bought a ticket to Berlin my next destination.

20hours in and I was out.My outward journey though was more relaxing. The drive through Switzerland and a ferry crossing on Lake Constance or Bodensee as the Germans call it was amazing. The scenery was epic.
For the first time, I noticed I had become the attraction too as I was the only black person on this journey until we got to Munich .I saw curious smiles and questions written on people’s faces , but no one was brave to ask me anything and that is okay. I tried to answer the curios smiles back with my own.
I thought of the Eritrean woman from the day before , as I was lucky to have a teenager who spoke English sit next to me. She actually gave me her phone to use to get in touch with my friends in Berlin.

Before this post ,Zurich was becoming a blur with the occasional bad memories ,feelings , questions and doubt , until Samuel mentioned my time there was one of the best times he had there since he relocated from England and he doesn’t remember laughing as much after I left. Well then, this make Zurich worth it ,I guess.

Lessons from Zurich
1. It’s good to put things in perspective.
2. If you don’t like what is on the menu, leave. No need to always experiment.
3. We miss conversations and a possible chance to connect because of a lack of language.
4. It is not always about me

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If diamonds are a girl’s best friend, then passing through Antwerp to have a look wasn’t a bad idea as it has so many diamond shops in just one location. I was only supposed to pass through Antwerp to catch an 8hour bus ride to Zurich.
I left Amsterdam at 2pm hoping to get to Antwerp at 4pm, get my ticket, have a feel of the city and catch my overnight bus at 9:30pm.
The best laid plans can fall apart through no fault of yours and my 5 hour stop in Antwerp ended up being 3 days.
My train broke down midway between Amsterdam and Antwerp and for nearly 30minutes , no one was telling us anything. Not even something in a language I don’t understand, so I could at least ask for interpretation.
I decide to make new friends by giving away some of my Ghanaian chocolates to the Norwegian family opposite me, they have me an even bigger chocolate to my surprise and we were on our way to being friends.

I later found out from another friend that usually nothing is said when trains “breakdown” because , someone might have committed suicide on the tracks, leaving the train driver traumatised. In order not to send passengers in a state of panic we are not told anything. I hope this was not the case. I will like to be in denial on this one.

At the time , I wished the train delay was the only drama , but it was not.
I missed 2 connecting trains and missed the ticket office. I had 3 hours to book a bus ticket online. With iPad in hand , loads of cash and no credit or debit card , where do I find a wifi spot to go online? (Don’t ask how I would have paid for it. I know a way. Nothing fraudulent, sorry :) And it has worked in the past. If not sure , please get your advance ticket and pray you don’t miss your bus.)
Standing stranded at the bus station, I overhead someone , an older man on the phone speaking Hausa( an African language , spoken in some bits of Ghana and Nigeria and I had learnt this language at the age of 5)
I was smiling and waiting for him to finish his call, when his friend walks towards him asking him a question in Twi(another widely spoken Ghanaian language), I approached them explained my plight and asked for an Internet cafe or a wireless hotspot.
These 2 gentlemen were kind enough to take me round from one shop to another in Antwerp Central looking for an Internet cafe. Unfortunately , it was past 6pm and most shops and some businesses close by 6pm on most days except for bars. One of the men suggested another Ghanaian friend who has a smartphone. Remember these were middle aged to older men who were not keen on being hyper connected on social media or the Internet , the most they used the Internet for , as I found out later was listen to local Ghanaian radio stations online and the occasional Skype calls.

On our way to the bar I witnessed the police arresting 3young men. It turned out they were Congolese and Nigerian illegal immigrants and might be deported home. Will that be the end of their “dreams” I wondered.

Few minutes in and I was ushered into a bar with Ghanain kente fabrics as blinds for the window.Ghanaian highlife music was on full volume , about 8 other Ghanaians in the bar and everyone speaking twi. Where am I ? Back in Ghana? It was a mixed bag emotions.
The friend comes and tells me,there is a free wifi in the bar ,the two kind men get me a drink and I was able to use my iPad ,except now the reservations for the bus was now closed online and unlike Ghana where you can sometimes pay the bus driver directly or even negotiate or beg to sit on the bus step if you were really desperate and dramatic :) I couldn’t do that in Antwerp. Strangely I missed the somewhat informal and convenient system or arrangement in Ghana. I then learnt on the spot that we usually make an exception for ourselves .
Looking for bus tickets turned to looking for hotels and hostels online for the night as I figure out my next move , but my new found Ghanaian friends wouldn’t hear of it. To them I was family and they won’t have me stay anywhere else if not their home. Although they made it sound like they will respect my decision , in reality it felt like there was no choice to make. My saying no was like saying I don’t want their help.
I was just being cautious . As if they could sense this, one of them called his wife and daughter to come take me home.
And home was home. They gave me a a very comfortable place to stay for free for 3days!
They over fed me with Ghanaian food.

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Breakfast by 7am and by 11am ,they were getting fufu or Ampesi (Ghanain dishes) ready.

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One one such occasion I made excuses to get away from all the food in the guise of window shopping ,only to have my phone stolen. The irony of it all is I actually left the stuff I bought on that “shopping trip” , in the house when I left for Zurich days later.

I did come back to Belgium a week before the end of my euro trip under different circumstances , with advanced tickets this time :) to reconnect with a friend I went to grad school with in London. We hadn’t seen each other in 10years. Like me she was traveling the world, resigned from her job and took 3 months to travel. Pretty cool stuff.
We shared similar travel stories , laughed as hard as kids and discussed our spiritual journeys. It was a blessing.
I went on to Antwerp to spend another night with my “family” And pick up the things I left. yes, they still over fed me this time too. :)
The mother is keen I mentor her 7 year old to become “someone with her education ” as she didn’t get that opportunity to go to school. What an honour!
As they say one good turn deserves another , I will be more than happy to return the favour some day.

What did I learn?
1. Not everything will go to plan, but be flexible
2. Strangers can turn to family.
3. You can be at different ends of the world and still experience the same things.
4. Have your wits about you , but please keep an open mind .
5 . Everything really does happen for a reason.
6.You can’t explain miracles.
7. Never judge people, you don’t know their story

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