Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Food Seasonality - Are You Affected? (Student Project)

Warm greetings!

We need your assistance with a student project we are currently assisting with.

Aimed at sourcing out more information on the benefits and detriments that food seasonality can have on economy, society, hospitality industries and food & beverage industries, we'd like to know what you have to say on the issue by participating in a survey.

We thank you for your participation and for passing it on.

Are You A Carrot, An Egg Or A Coffee Bean

Author Unknown

A certain daughter complained to her father about her life and how things have been so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and she wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed that just as one problem was solved another arose.

Her father, a chef, took her to the kitchen, filled three pots with water and placed the fire on high. Soon the three pots came to a boil.

In one he placed carrots, in the other he placed eggs, and in the last he placed ground coffee beans. He let them sit and boil, without saying a word.

The daughter sucked her teeth and impatiently wondered what he was trying to do. She had problems, and he was making this strange concoction. In half an hour he walked over to the oven and turned down the fire. He pulled the carrots out and placed them in the bowl. He pulled the eggs out and placed them in the bowl. Then he ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.

Turning to her he asked. "Darling what do you see,"

Smartly, she replied. "Carrots, eggs, and coffee."

He brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. He then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, he asked her to sip the coffee. Her face frowned from the strength of the coffee.

Humbly, she asked. "What does it mean Father?"

He explained. "Each of them faced the same adversity, 212 degrees of boiling water. However each reacted differently."

"The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. But after going through boiling water, it softened and became weak."

"The egg was fragile. A thin outer shell protected a liquid center. But after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened."

"The coffee beans are unique however. After they were in the boiling water, it became stronger and richer." "Which are you," he asked his daughter.

When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond?

Are you the carrot that seems hard, but with the smallest amount of pain, adversity, heat you wilt and become soft with no strength?

Are you the egg, which starts off with a malleable heart, a fluid spirit? But after a death, a breakup, a divorce, a layoff you became hardened and stiff. Your shell looks the same, but you are so bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and heart, internally.

Or are you like the coffee bean? The bean does not get its peak flavor and robust until it reaches 212 degrees Fahrenheit. When the water gets the hottest, it just tastes better. When things are there worst, you get better. When people talk the most, your praises increase. When the hour is the darkest, trials are their greatest, your worship elevates to another level.

How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

College Is About

Author Unknown

College is about learning. It's not as simple as learning whatever it is that's being taught in your required gen-ed classes though.

It's about learning how to listen, how to speak, how to think. Learning who you are, who your friends are, and the type of people you want as friends.

Learning how to trust your innermost feelings, and how to find those feelings in the first place. It's about learning what's really important to you, and learning what you really don't give a damn about.

College is about learning how to tolerate, how to accept, how to like and how to love. Learning how to give as well as you receive, and how to trust that everything will work itself out on it's own (you buy a pizza one night, your roommate will the next night).

It's about learning that your mom and dad actually do have the right answers sometimes, and that your kid sister isn't such a dumb little kid anymore. College is about learning how to treat people as people, not as stereotypes.

Learning that a kiss isn't just a kiss, that sometimes it means more, and that sometimes it means less. Learning how to achieve, how to succeed, how to accomplish.

It's about learning how to not come in first place and still be proud, and about coming in last and learning how to admit that you could have done better. College is about learning that loud parties don't necessarily mean a good time. Learning that loneliness doesn't go away in a crowd, and that sometimes it's okay to be by yourself on a Friday or Saturday night.

It's about learning that your lunchtime crowd doesn't constitute your popularity, and that popularity is all a matter of perspective. It's about learning that boredom is simply laziness of the mind, and that watching three hours of Thursday night NBC is not quality relaxation time.

College is about learning how to pack a bag, how to pack a car, and how to pack a room full of way too much stuff. Learning that people like you a whole lot more than they'll ever tell you and that it's your responsibility to make sure your friends know how much you appreciate them.

It's about learning that doing simply what you're supposed to do isn't enough. You need to put forth twice that much in order to fully grasp whatever it is that's sitting in front of you. It's about learning how to make people smile.

College is about learning how to love people enough not to stick them in the past, and how to not miss them so much that it keeps you from moving into the future. Learning how to motivate yourself and how to motivate others.

Learning what the phrase "make do" means, and how to use it to make it seem as if you're not simply "making do". It's about learning 25 different ways of saying "we made out" and how to swear in all the different languages of your class/floor/dorm/housemates.

College is about learning, learning how to live.

The Letter

Author Unknown

Ruth went to her mail box and there was only one letter. She picked it up and looked at it before opening, but then she looked at the envelope again. There was no stamp, no postmark, only her name and address.

She read the letter:

Dear Ruth,
I'm going to be in your neighborhood Saturday afternoon and I'd like to stop by for a visit.
Love Always,

Her hands were shaking as she placed the letter on the table. "Why would the Lord want to visit me? I'm nobody special. I don't have anything to offer." With that thought, Ruth remembered her empty kitchen cabinets.

Oh my goodness, I really don't have anything to offer. I'll have to run down to the store and buy something for dinner." She reached for her purse and counted out its contents. Five dollars and forty cents.

"Well, I can get some bread and cold cuts, at least." She threw on her coat and hurried out the door. A loaf of french bread, a half-pound of sliced turkey, and a carton of milk...leaving Ruth with grand total of twelve cents to last her until Monday. Nonetheless, she felt good as she headed home, her meager offerings tucked under her arm.

"Hey lady, can you help us, lady?" Ruth had been so absorbed in her dinner plans, she hadn't even noticed two figures huddled in the alleyway. A man and a woman, both of them dressed in little more than rags.

"Look lady, I ain't got a job, ya know, and my wife and I have been living out here on the street, and, well, now it's getting cold and we're getting kinda hungry and, well, if you could help us, lady, we'd really appreciate it."

Ruth looked at them both. They were dirty, they smelled bad and, frankly, she was certain that they could get some kind of work if they really wanted to.

"Sir, I'd like to help you, but I'm a poor woman myself. All I have is a few cold cuts and some bread, and I'm having an important guest for dinner tonight and I was planning on serving that to Him."

"Yeah, well, okay lady, I understand. Thanks anyway." The man put his arm around the woman's shoulders, turned and headed back into the alley. As she watched them leave, Ruth felt a familiar twinge in her heart.

"Sir, wait!" The couple stopped and turned as she ran down the alley after them. "Look, why don't you take this food. I'll figure out something else to serve my guest." She handed the man her grocery bag.

"Thank you lady. Thank you very much!"

"Yes, thank you!" It was the man's wife, and Ruth could see now that she was shivering. "You know, I've got another coat at home. Here, why don't you take this one." Ruth unbuttoned her jacket and slipped it over the woman's shoulders.

Then smiling, she turned and walked back to the street...without her coat and with nothing to serve her guest. "Thank you lady! Thank you very much!"

Ruth was chilled by the time she reached her front door, and worried too. The Lord was coming to visit and she didn't have anything to offer Him. She fumbled through her purse for the door key. But as she did, she noticed another envelope in her mailbox.

"That's odd. The mailman doesn't usually come twice in one day." She took the envelope out of the box and opened it.

Dear Ruth,
It was so good to see you again. Thank you for the lovely meal And thank you, too, for the beautiful coat.
Love Always,

The air was still cold, but even without her coat, Ruth no longer noticed.

Walking Bible

Author Unknown

His name is Bill. He has wild hair, wears a T-shirt with holes in it, jeans and no shoes. This was literally his wardrobe for his entire four years of college. He is brilliant. Kind of esoteric and very, very bright. He became a Christian while attending college.

Across the street from the campus is a well-dressed, very conservative church. They want to develop a ministry to the students, but are not sure how to go about it. One day Bill decides to go there. He walks in with no shoes, jeans, his T-shirt, and wild hair. The service has already started and so Bill starts down the aisle looking for a seat.

The church is completely packed and he can't find a seat. By now people are really looking a bit uncomfortable, but no one says anything. Bill gets closer and closer and closer to the pulpit and when he realizes there are no seats, he just squats down right on the carpet. (Although perfectly acceptable behavior at a college fellowship, trust me, this had never happened in this church before!) By now the people are really uptight, and the tension in the air is thick.

About this time, the minister realizes that from way at the back of the church, a deacon is slowly making his way toward Bill. Now the deacon is in his eighties, has silver-gray hair, and a three-piece suit. A godly man, very elegant, very dignified, very courtly. He walks with a cane and as he starts walking toward this boy, everyone is saying to themselves, "You can't blame him for what he's going to do. How can you expect a man of his age and of his background to understand some college kid on the floor?"

It takes a long time for the man to reach the boy. The church is utterly silent except for the clicking of the man's cane. All eyes are focused on him. You can't even hear anyone breathing. The people are thinking.

The minister can't even preach the sermon until the deacon does what he has to do and now, they see this elderly man drop his cane on the floor. With great difficulty he lowers himself and sits down next to Bill and worships with him so he won't be alone. Everyone chokes up with emotion.

When the minister gains control he says,

"What I'm about to preach, you will never remember.
What you have just seen, you will never forget.
Be careful how you live.
You may be the only Bible some people will ever read."

How To Live Life

By Sarah Singer

Take it all in. Let it all out.

Always remember. Never forget.

Grow older. Stay young at heart.

Remember me. Stay true to yourself.

Be an individual. Stick with your friends.

Have no regrets. Learn from your mistakes.

Laugh. Cry.

Strive for the best. Share the spotlight.

Be confident. Admit when you're wrong.

Give yourself more credit. Take the blame.

Think for yourself. Think twice.

Love more. Hate less.

Miss it lots. Move on.

Be prepared. Be spontaneous.

Improve yourself. Never change.

I'll always be here. Things won't always be the same.

Don't miss it by blinking. Close your eyes and breathe it in.

Be strong. Ask for help.

Reach the top. Don't fall.

Believe in miracles. Don't depend on them.

Live for today. Look toward tomorrow.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Please, Just Love Me

By Rebekah White

As a teen I yearned to hear you say, "You are wonderful!" Instead I heard you say, "You are bad!"

When I made a mistake, I yearned to hear you say, "It's alright, what did you learn from this?" Instead I heard you say, "You are nothing but trouble!"

When I failed, I yearned to hear you say, "I believe in you, you can succeed!" Instead I heard you say, "I told you so; you're just too stupid to listen!"

When I made a fool of myself, embarrassed and hurt you, I yearned to hear you say, "I love you anyway, it'll all work out, you'll see. We are here for you and we will get through this, together!" Instead I heard you say, "There you go again, ruining this family's good name. Why do we even try?"

When I ran away from home, I yearned to hear you say,"Finally, our trouble has left us." Instead I heard you say, "Why would you do this to us? Are you trying to hurt and humiliate us? What did we ever do to deserve your behavior?"

When I looked you in the eye and saw nothing but hatred, I yearned to die, because then I would hear you say, "You were wonderful, I believed in you, and I loved you." Instead I returned to your hom and endured two more years of mental, physical, and verbal abuse.

If you are reading this, you may wonder how my life turned out.

First, do not feel sorry for me. If it wasn't for her, my mother, and the experiences that I endured, I would not be the human being that I am. My mother was in and out of my life at her convenience. When she "happened" into my life, I made a decision in which I would consciously refuse to listen to my mothers' negativity.

I, thankfully, had a father that loved me unconditionally and told my sisters and me how wonderful we were and how he thanked God each and everyday for providing him with the miracles (his daughters) that graced his life daily. He prayed for us to have strength, compassion, love, humility, and life insight so that it would not matter how mean others were to us or the challenges that we would have to face. He knew that we would be equipped to stand strong on our own.

After high school, (yes I graduated) I went to college and slowly worked to educate myself so that I could stand on my own.

I succeeded! I am now a nurse. I've been married 13 years to a gentleman who tells me daily how wonderful I am and how proud he is of me. I have two sons and I pray the same prayer for them that my father prayed for me.

My sons and I have a strong relationship and they are praised, guided, and loved unconditionally. They will never know evil or harsh words from my mouth that would have the possibility of tearing their spirit apart or wounding their heart.

My mother, well, now she believes that I am the way I am because of how she raised me. She spends countless hours telling her friends how successful I am (as well as how wonderful and intelligent my children are: according to her, my sons are the children she dreamed of having all of those years but was never to have) but I have never heard any of those kind, proud words of praise or support out of her mouth.

After many years, I confronted her (for my personal healing) and I learned that she mentally could and would never be able to understand the gravity of her actions in regard to my life. And yet, at the same time I realized that it was up to me to make sure that my children and nieces/nephews would never endure the torture that she radiated through our entire body, mind and spirit.

My sisters and I keep our children very close when she is around and we have explained to them the effects of mental illness so that if she would ever say to them something mean, they will be equipped to understand and see past it.

I know now that my mother does love me and believes that I am wonderful but it is in her own way. It will never be the type of love that I share with my children or that I yearned for as a child, adolescent and as a young adult.

Looking back I realized and have come to understand that I had a choice as a teenager as well as a young adult to allow her to upset me or not.

As I have gotten older and wiser, I have learned that the greatest armor I had during that time (and I did not know that I possessed this at the time) was self-control. I learned to control my emotions so that she never knew what I was thinking. This was very hard, I never cried, laughed, smiled, grinned, etc.I exhibited no emotion around her.

Her rejection was too great for me to handle. I chose to be me when she was not present. This way I did not have to fear rejection. This way, I felt safe.

I lived through my teen years accumulating many scars. Today, I remember each one as a stepping stone that has led me to greatness.

My definition of greatness: strength, humility, compassion, love, life insight coupled with the ability to choose and the wisdom to accept who you are: that is greatness! My father knew what tools I would need and he equipped me with all of them.

As an adult, I look back at my life and I am able to see the magnificent people in my life that have made me who I am. There are not many human beings who I have met who are truly great; I have had the honor of knowing only one. He is my Dad!

I thank my Dad daily. I hope that each and everyday, I grow more like him. I hope that I am as strong, as humble, as compassionate, as loving, and possess the insight into this life as well as the wisdom to know and accept my abilities and to appreciate all things as they are, not as I want them to be. I was not told that this is how to live but I was shown through example. This has been the greatest gift given to me.

Now as an adult, I know that it is not what type of house I have, what type of car I drive, how many staff I employ or how much money I make. It is the type of life you live and how you live it that matters.

I want to live my life with greatness! I do not want to be like the Smiths or the Jones's. I do not desire to have what they have. I would rather give my coat to someone who is homeless, right off my back, not because I have to but because they need it more than I did.

I want to stop and truly take in the roses, not just smell them but also truly take the time to admire all that there is and ponder why.

I want to watch my children grow into strong, loving, compassionate men who envelope humility and life insight and possess the wisdom to live well.

I want to grow old with my husband, watch as we both wrinkle, our skin dries and our hair thins, and sit, hand in hand, and remember all of the things that we did together and how fortunate we were to have had the opportunity to experience this life and all of the time we were given together.

I want to educate along my journey so that others learn how meaningful this life can be. We only need to take the time to make it so.

I want all human kind to know love.

I want all children to grow in acceptance of who they are.

I want all human beings to support each other and appreciate what each of us has to share with this world.

This world is wonderful because of us all. To think, that all of this, the thoughts, the understanding, the compassion and humility for humankind all grew out of a mothers inability to love.

We all have a place. Some individuals' purpose may be more difficult to see but we all have a place and we all serve a purpose.

What is your purpose? How will you live your life? Why?

Singapore - 24th April & The Weekend

By Rough Guy'd
A fairly uneventful day, this one was spent shopping with my auntie in Chinatown, where as well as picking up some groceries, she talked me through all the little nuances and interesting tidbits of life in Singapore and seeing a wet market is always enjoyable for the senses.
For those who don’t know, a wet market is a market where you can buy a lot of fresh produce, some of it so fresh in fact that it is still alive. We have similar markets like that back home in New Zealand but those are usually confined to Saturday mornings and do not have the bustle or charm of an Asian wet market. Many times later in my trip, I would peruse the wet markets of various towns and countries just to see what they were like, usually with no intention of picking up anything more than an explosion of sights, sounds and smells to assail the senses with.
Finally the weekend, and while that had no real meaning for me anymore, it did mean that my cousin had the days off and I spent them with him, catching up and getting to know each other better. It had been many a year since we had talked (though our mum’s still did) and we got on like a house on fire. I also learned at this stage that it is quite easy to spend big here as we caught a movie, went for dinner, dessert and then to a microbrewery, the cost really racked up and we spent more today than I did for the rest of the trip so far.
Now it is at this point that I will point out another important part of my trip. While the main goal was to enjoy myself and have new experiences, I had a few friends and family scattered around the place and I wanted to visit them as well. Foremost among the visits was my (another) cousin’s wedding in Malaysia. She was to be married in mid July and planning my trip to fit around that (visa constraints) was an important component of this early part of the trip. Not just me, but also my family from other parts of the world, including my mum and dad from New Zealand would be attending as well. It was with this thought in mind that I planned to fly to another country before coming back to Singapore (as my cousin had his work leave due soon) before finally going to Malaysia.
Though my goal was to decide on where to go, as for most of the trip I kind of just winged it and decided that I’ll decide best by walking around and being inspired. So, call it a plan, call it procrastination, call it whatever, my next goal was the Singapore Flyer, a giant slow-turning Ferris wheel giving an incredible view over the city and coupled with an albeit cliché audio commentary, was still well worth the effort to go see. It also inspired me to go see Sun Tech City. Imagine a shopping mall designed right at the start to be all about good luck, with the aesthetics, the colours, the shape and even a fountain in the middle that you’re supposed to walk around clockwise three times while dipping your hand into.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Singapore - Second Day

By Rough Guy'd

I woke up pretty early considering how tired I was the night before to find that the entire household weren’t really morning people. My cousin worked according to London time, which meant that he didn’t start until the afternoon and didn’t finish until past midnight and the rest of the family sort of adjusted to it a bit as well. So it wasn’t until about twelve that he woke up and we could have a chat. He was the same age as me but we hadn’t really talked much before, the only time we were both old enough to remember being about fourteen years prior and we didn’t really have time to talk much anyway.

At about one thirty, we decided to go out for lunch/breakfast and to start doing what we do, in his case to work, in mine to sightsee. It was about this point that I realised in the full light of day that the train station was only a five minute walk from his home and you can see it from his window. Commence facepalm.

Like I said before, I tended to use the guidebook for accommodations but it was also really great for tourist attractions and points of interest. What I found was that I used the book to guide my way but rarely did I use it as more than that. Sure I followed it closely but I found that it was the big things that drew you to a place but the little things that you remember more fondly. You had to stop to smell the roses on the way to your destination and photos were meaningless unless they had the power to evoke feelings and bring back wonderful memories of that time and place, a lesson that I think more people could benefit from as I would later discover.

So with that philosophy in mind, my target was the Esplanade, nicknamed ‘the Durians’ due to the resemblance to the fruit of the same name. By the time I reached the Esplanade, five hours had passed, including a photo session by the river, two museums and numerous stops into a mall to find a drink which did nothing for my sense of direction. However, this time my timing couldn’t have been more perfect as there was a free concert performed by a Chinese string orchestra and I was able to get a good seat.

The next day was quite a slow one due to the fatigue, the jetlag and a hard-learned lesson about bringing water with me all the time. Though drinks were available everywhere, I had underestimated the amount of liquids I would need and the constant need to leave a location to find a mall became annoying. A quick trip into the Chinatown was all I did this day and was probably a good idea.

How Much Is It?

By Pandora Poikilos

How much is it
To put a roof over her head and
provide her with the comforts of a house
To give her favourite toys
at every opportunity you get
To watch her enjoy her shiny new red bicycle

How much is it
To rob her of her innocence
For her to spend a lifetime
Figuring out what has happened

How much is it
For her to spend so much of her life misunderstood
For her to wake up with nighmares,
night after night
For her to never feel safe

How much is it
For the moments when you tell her
it's all her fault
For the cutting words that she
deserves the pain
For the comfort that she will never feel

How much is it
For all the days when she will
feel worthless
For the love she is sure she
doesn't deserve
For the future she is certain
has no light for her

How much is it
For the distrust she will feel at
having her own children
For the destruction she will
put herself through
And for the moment, she will
feel her soul shatter into pieces

How much is it
For the day when
she'll finally realise
That it's not her fault,
and she'll walk away
And you'll wish, on every wish,
that you can take it all back.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Blog-A-Licious Wednesdays - Weeks 5 & 6

Once again, yet another a collection of amazing blogs to be read and passed around!



To participate in Blog-A-Licious Wednesdays, please leave your link at http://peacefrompieces.blogspot.com/p/blog-licious.html

And if you missed Week Five, here's another look.



Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Singapore - One Long Night

By Rough Guy'd

Hello Singapore. It was only a short flight to Singapore from Brunei so I ended up arriving late that same night, though thankfully the MRT (Singapore’s very convenient mass rail transit) was still running. This meant that I could take the train all the way to my relative’s home. Armed only with a an address and a phone number (I didn’t ring them as I didn’t have any coins for a payphone), I managed to make my way to the closest rail stop and then from there I figured that I could ask someone how to get to the location.

One of the workers directed me to a bus to take and off I went. Now, call it an intuition, a feeling or whatever else you like, but after a short while, I started to doubt my current direction. Asking a nearby passenger, she told me that I was indeed on the wrong bus and told me how to get to my destination.

Now, it’s at this point I will mention my luggage. Though I knew it was a good idea not to carry too much, I still had a decent amount of luggage. I had a hiking bag full of clothes that I wore on my back and one piece of hand luggage that contained everything else. Being a little mindful of problems that could occur, I had backup copies of all my cards hidden in my hand luggage, with the main cards being in my wallet. As well as the cards, the hang luggage also contained all my other stuff, toiletries, books and other assorted stuff that you find you will need.

Funnily enough, considering all the weight I was carrying (about 18kg all up) I ended up using just about all of it. Though I was going around the tropical areas for the first part of my trip, the two pairs of jeans and cargo pants did end up handy (due mainly to the need to dress a little more formally than runners and shorts and to keep mozzies off my legs.

Now, in hindsight while I think it was a good idea to start with so much luggage, at the time I didn’t think so. Walking down the streets at 10pm or so at night was pretty tough going and even were I as fit then as I am now, it would still be a struggle. I found out that it took only a couple of minutes to reach the street that I was after, but that I was at the wrong end of it.

The entire trip from getting off the bus and then finding and going down the street, encumbered as I was took about three quarters of an hour. Finally arriving at the block of flats with a healthy coat of sweat all over, I saw my uncle sitting in the common area having a ciggie. I was finally there.

Monday, 22 November 2010


By Rough Guy'd

My first full day in Brunei and also my last and I intended to make the most of it. I got up early and walked around the town and found a delicious bakery for breakfast. Now, while the thought of a bakery might not be the most exciting thing, I found a lot of interesting local tastes in there including chicken floss bun and Oreo brownies.

After this, I went for a walk to the harbour side, where you can see the floating village. The floating village is an entire village on stilts in the harbour. What makes this special is that the village has over thirty thousand residents, eleven schools, their own police station and fire station as well as full medical facilities, plumbing and electricity. Most villagers there are also serviced by water taxis who ferry them back and forth to the main town.

Now the taxis are also quite happy to take tourists out as well to see the village and I have to admit, it was quite stunning to see the village up close and to see how they lived. My driver was quite informative as well, telling me a lot about the history of the village, the high danger of fires to this type of a community and even the danger of accidental drowning of unattended children. After this, he took me down further toward the sea and the mangroves out there to see the proboscis monkeys.

Though I wasn’t able to take great photos of them, I was pleased to see quite a few of them and unlike many other so called attractions I would later see, these monkeys were swinging in the wild and unaccustomed to humans so I felt blessed to see them like this, with nary another tourist in sight.

Back on dry land, I took the opportunity to see some of the mosques of Brunei. The Sultan of Brunei whose full name I can’t remember (it’s thirty-one words long after all), is one rich guy and he loves to show it. Being a devout Muslim, you can expect the Mosques of this country to be quite fancy and you won’t be disappointed. There was a certain grandeur around them and even as a non-Muslim visitor, you could appreciate the beauty there.

A taxi tour took me to the Royal Regalia and then to the palace gates of the Sultan. Though I didn’t get to really see the palace, I did get to see the Sultan in his bulletproof limousine with a whole delegation briefly. The taxi then took me to see the Empire hotel and country club, five hundred rooms, two massive pools alongside eight smaller ones, movie cinema, 12 hole golf course and a four storey reception area.

Coming down from this level of decadence, I then went with the taxi driver to his favourite lunch spot which was more my type of place; small, bustling, noisy, cheap and great food. The taxi then dropped me off at the airport and my next stop, Singapore.

Bandar Seri Begawan

By Rough Guy'd

The first day of my big trip saw me take it at a rather sedentary pace, all things considered. I had only planned to stay one night in Brunei as I was taking an overnight plane. This gave me two days and one night before I moved on to Singapore to see family and plan the next part of my trip. I had been advised that many of the pulling points of Brunei could be seen on a much grander scale and for a fraction of the cost in neighbouring Malaysia. Early on, I realised that planning too far ahead was a silly move and I resolved not have a real plan yet after Singapore.

So after arriving safely, I tried to take a bus into town but quickly found myself stumbling around looking for the bus stop. As expected, a taxi soon noticed me and tried to give me a ride. At first I tried to wait for the bus but quickly realised that despite the guidebook suggesting bus numbers and price, none were forthcoming and I had to give up and take a taxi. At this point, the taxi tried to charge me extra for picking me up in the airport (apparently they had to pay a fee) so instead I walked ten metres outside and got a cheaper one.

One point I will make now. Though I tried not to rely on the guidebook, I found that their recommendations for accommodation were usually excellent and in all honesty a lot better than the taxi drivers/tuk tuk drivers that would sell me onto certain places. Thus at most destinations, I picked a guesthouse/hostel before arriving and only after trying and failing (because of vacancy, drop in standards etc) did I have a look at their choices for me.

One thing I discovered about Bandar Seri Begawan is that most of the town could be seen by walking. This country is not very big and though there was a fair bit of roads into more rural area, the only convenient way to get there was by taxi. As it was, I spent the first day going to the Brunei museum (though museums can be considered by people to be dry, I found them fascinating as much for the history they contained as for the point of view of the local people) and for a free museum, it did not disappoint. Lots of amazing things here including lots of Islamic art.

At night, I ended up wandering around the, admittedly sleepy, town. I managed to strike up a conversation with some of the local youths who basically told me the only thing they do for fun is text each other. Hmmm, just like home but without the alcohol then. After hanging around with them for a couple of hours, I headed back for some sleep.

Rough Guy'd - The Beginning

By Rough Guy'd

Greetings all, this is the Rough Guy’d here and I’d like to start talking to you about a life-changing event that happened to me recently. In April 2009 I took a trip overseas that has seen me go through eleven different countries and put me through experiences that I never would have dreamed of before. I’ve met new friends, shared new experiences and tasted new foods that I will share with you now. From that fateful first day until now, I’ve still been overseas and whether this continues for much longer or not, I can’t say but I can say it’s been a hell of a ride so far and I don’t regret it.

While these experiences are what I took from each encounter, you may see them in a different light. What was awe-inspiring for me may be a snooze-fest for you, what was ho hum for me may be a life-changing event for you. But that is the beauty of travelling. Everyone will take something different out of even the same situation and I hope that by reading my blog, you will be able to compare my experiences to yours or maybe even inspire you to try your hand at backpacking. At the least, I hope you will find this entertaining and I thank you in advance for joining me in this journey.

A little bit of background about me. I’m from New Zealand and have grown up there my whole life. Everything I’ve done up until the trip was pretty routine and to be honest not very exciting. I went through school, did my time in university and then started working at a regular job. While this would be all fine and good and eventually lead to a wife, kids and a white picket fence house, I felt a desire or a need for something different, something dramatically different that would take me out of my comfort zone and give me a chance to be completely independent with no one to hold my hand. The dreams of a wife and a white picket fence home with a mortgage would have to wait, adventure beckoned.

With the thought in my head, the next step was to plan. Where would I go, what would I do, how would I get there and many more questions followed.

After a lot of deliberation and thought, I decided to do Asia. The reasons were simple; it was close; it was relatively safe; the food was good and of course, it was cheap. The same amount of money used for going to Europe would last me three times as long in Asia and while South America was also another option, I had some family in Asia much like many kiwis have family in Britain so I would be able to use part of the trip as a sort of family reunion.

With the destination planned, all that was left for me to do was to buy a Rough Guide guidebook (better by far than Lonely Planet in my opinion), buy the ticket and pack my bags. First stop, Bandar Seri Begawan and Brunei.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

The Christmas Star

Author Unknown

This was my grandmother's first Christmas without grandfather, and we had promised him before he passed away that we would make this her best Christmas ever. When my mom, dad, three sisters and I arrived at her little house in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, we found she had waited up all night for us to arrive from Texas.

After we exchanged hugs, my sisters and I ran into the house. It did seem a little empty without grandfather, and we knew it was up to us to make this Christmas special for her.

Grandfather had always said that the Christmas tree was the most important decoration of all. So we immediately set to work on the beautiful artificial tree that was kept stored in grandfather's closet. Although artificial, it was the most genuine looking Douglas fir I had ever seen. Tucked away in the closet with the tree was a spectacular array of ornaments, many of which had been my father's when he was a little boy. As we unwrapped each one, grandmother had a story to go along with it.

My mother strung the tree with bright white lights and a red button garland; my sisters and I carefully placed the ornaments on the tree; and finally father was given the honor of lighting the tree.

We stepped back to admire our handiwork. To us, it looked magnificent, as beautiful as the tree in Rockefeller Center. But something was missing.

"Where's your star'" I asked.

The star was my grandmother's favorite part of the tree, for it represented the star of Bethlehem that had led the wise men to the infant Jesus.

"Why, it must be here somewhere," she said, starting to sort through the boxes again. "Your grandfather always packed everything so carefully when he took the tree down."

As we emptied box after box and found no star, my grandmother's eyes filled with tears. This was no ordinary ornament, but an elaborate golden star covered with colored jewels and blue lights that blinked on and off. Moreover, grandfather had given it to grandmother some fifty years ago on their first Christmas together. Now, on her first Christmas without him, the star was gone, too.

"Don't worry, Grandmother," I reassured her. "We'll find it for you."

My sisters and I formed a search party.

"Let's start in on the closet where the ornaments were," Donna said. "Maybe the box just fell down."

That sounded logical, so we climbed on a chair and began to search that tall closet of grandfather's. We found father's old yearbooks and photographs of relatives, Christmas cards from years gone by and party dresses and jewelry boxes, but no star.

We searched under beds and over shelves, inside and outside, until we had exhausted every possibility. We could see grandmother was disappointed, although she tried not to show it.

"We could buy a new star," Kristi offered.

"I'll make you one from construction paper," Karen chimed in.

"No," Grandmother said. "This year, we won't have a star."

By now, it was dark outside, and time for bed, since Santa would soon be here. As we lay in bed, we could hear the sound of snowflakes falling quietly outside.

The next morning, my sisters and I woke up early, as was our habit on Christmas day - first, to see what Santa had left under the tree, and second, to look for the Christmas star in the sky. After a traditional breakfast of apple pancakes, the family sat down together to open presents. Santa had brought me the Easy Bake Oven I wanted, and Donna a Chatty Cathy doll. Karen was thrilled to get the doll buggy she had asked for, and Kristi to get the china tea set. Father was in charge of passing out the presents, so that everyone would have something to open at the same time.

"The last gift is to Grandmother from Grandfather," he said, in a puzzled voice.

"From who'" There was surprise in my grandmother's voice.

"I found that gift in grandfather's closet when we got the tree down," Mother explained. "It was already wrapped so I put it under the tree. I thought it was one of yours."

"Hurry and open it," Karen urged excitedly.

My grandmother shakily opened the box. Her face lit up with joy when she unfolded the tissue paper and pulled out a glorious golden star. There was a note attached. Her voice trembled as she read it aloud:
"Don't be angry with me, dear. I broke your star while putting up the decorations, and I couldn't bear to tell you. Thought it was time for a new one. I hope it brings you as much joy as the first one. Merry Christmas. Love, Bryant."

So grandmother's tree had a star after all, a star that expressed their everlasting love for one another. It brought my grandfather home for Christmas in each of our hearts and made it our best Christmas ever.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Blog-A-Licious Wednesdays - Weeks 4 & 5

Once again, yet another a collection of amazing blogs to be read and passed around!



To participate in Blog-A-Licious Wednesdays, please leave your link at http://peacefrompieces.blogspot.com/p/blog-licious.html

And if you missed Week Four, here's another look.



Monday, 15 November 2010

Skype Me ... Or Not

5 Social Media Complications Nobody Tells You
By Pandora Poikilos

Yesterday, was like any other day. I had writing deadlines to meet. I had all my usual online tools opened up and ready to use. There was my GMail, my Facebook page, Skype and the blog. I received a Skype message from a friend but realised it just wasn't his manner of speaking. When I prodded, and I can be annoying, the person seemed to almost get offended and said - "Bye". Then, I got a notice in my email saying - I had changed my password and registered email address for Skype. Alarm bells! When I tried to access my account, all it said was that the email had been changed and try as I could, I couldn't change the registered email back to mine because obviously, I no longer have the password.

Next step. I removed my current email address, which thankfully I could do, logged out and created a new Skype Id. I wrote to the friend whose account was being hacked into and told him about what was going on and then I got around to changing my password information of accounts I use regularly and here is where things got so frustrating, I wonder why social media sites tell you to be careful about your privacy and passwords and then make it so difficult to change yours when you need to. As I cursed and swore, it also got me thinking about the other things these people don't tell you. Yes, yes, they all have their terms and conditions which function very well up to the point that something does go wrong and then everybody wonders what is covered and what is not. Don't get me wrong, I love social media. For the very simple fact, if you love having Coco Pops for dinner, you'll probably be able to find 10 other people who do just that and be talk about it but sometimes, during instances like these, I just wish things were a little simpler and a little more explained.

Can Social Media Sites Be Hacked Into?
Yes, yes and yes. If you Google the phrase "how to hack Skype", there are at least more than 10 results that will give you steps on how to hack into someone else's account and what passwords to use. They even tell you when to do it. So, if you can Google it, and they are writing the codes for it, do you really think Skype doesn't know? And if Google can be hacked into, even though it was just once (and like they are going to say anything different), then I don't think any site stands a chance from being completely safe. But before you get all excited and rush to delete those social media accounts, take a deep breath and read the rest. Think of it as a house. Chances are you're going to get robbed. Equipping yourself with the appropriate burglar alarm, windows and doors is your responsibility and not the neighbourhood watchman. What you keep in the house is also your decision. The neighbourhood watchman covers at least 20 houses in your neighbourhood and can't stay put at your house all the time.

In the same way, you must have an anti-virus (no matter how personal the laptop or desktop is) and keep your information to the bare necessary. Credit card details, bank details, personal photos - there are other places than social media sites and computers to keep them on. You can store them on a CD, print them out, write out the details that can be written. Passwords must be habitually changed at least every 6 months and must contain a combination of alphabets and numbers known only to you. Clean up your browser at least once a week or even daily. Internet browsers such as Mozilla help you store information and this is great until someone else gets their hands on them. Yes, it's very inconvenient to do things the old fashioned way but you have a choice. Slow and with a little more effort or easy and put yourself in more risk of having your personal details used.

But I Deleted That Post
It's an ongoing trend that most people using social media sites think they are able to say anything they like in the name of free speech, delete it and move on as if nothing happened. Think again, it really isn't that simple. There are records of what is being said and no, they are not invading your privacy by collecting this information, it's already stated in their terms and conditions. Don't believe me? Check this out.

Facebook Says - For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos ("IP content"), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook ("IP License"). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it. When you delete IP content, it is deleted in a manner similar to emptying the recycle bin on a computer. However, you understand that removed content may persist in backup copies for a reasonable period of time (but will not be available to others).

So, think again the next time you want to say something and are not sure whether you'd like it to be permanent. It may be a virtual world we live in but that doesn't make it any less permanent and any more free to do whatever you wish with no consequences. Most countries have updated or are in the midst of updating their laws which allow action to be taken against those who misuse Internet applications.

It's Their Responsibility To Fix It
This is like saying your neighbourhood watchman will have to pay you for your television that got stolen while he was doing rounds in another part of the neighbourhood. For those using PayPal or other financial portals you would really like to believe that all is well and safe. Think again. Even banks get robbed, don't they? So, yes, information stored in these sites are also not all that secure and even more importantly come at your own risk. Nobody will take the fall for you when something has gone wrong with your account, even more so when money is involved. For instance, yesterday when my Skype account got hacked into and I was wondering why, I also wanted to know if others had experienced what I had. There were loads. People were commenting that their accounts had been hacked into, their credit card details extracted and used to make calls from Asia to the Middle East.

When I wrote to Skype informing them of what had happened, there were very quick in sending a response today. Here's a little bit of what they had to say - Unfortunately, Skype is unable to refund any money that may have been lost because of this incident. We urge you to check that your PC’s security systems are running properly and that they are up to date. In order to prohibit these incidents, Skype strongly advises you to regularly update your PC's security software (e.g. firewall, antivirus etc.) as it is possible that a Trojan/Key logger type of program could be installed on your computer which sends collected info from your computer to a third party who uses this information abusively.

Need I say more? Can they do it? Absolutely. The burden of proof and attempting to fix the situation may come from them but you use these sites at your own risks. You must remember that although you may have done it all by the book and find yourself caught in the middle of a situation where someone has used your credit card details or your email account in an abusive manner, it is not necessarily an immediate reflection on the site. Yes, they are prone to hackers but it also shows that for every right way there is to carry out a task, someone is out there coming up with a way to get around it.

How Much Is Too Much?
Facebook has very often been slammed with numerous privacy debates. The main point always being that they do not protect a user's privacy. I agree with this but only to a certain extent because when you look at the other side of the coin, it is the users who do not protect their own privacy. As I've mentioned in another post, people behave within social media sites as though they have been brought up in a house with no doors. They share everything. E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. What they eat, what they wear, what bus they take to work, how their boyfriend sleeps, pictures of them in their bedroom - seriously? Think of it, in a bedroom that comes with an attached bathroom, even the bathroom has a door and doesn't just open into the bedroom. So, why would you so enthusiastically type in all these information on the WORLD WIDE web and then be so hot and bothered about who is going to see it?

The one bone, and it's a very big bone, that I have to pick with sites like Facebook would be their enforcement of abusive users. For instance, pages or profiles that promote porn, kiddie porn, defamatory or even insulting to any person's human rights can sometimes take forever to be taken down or not at all. They are either not vigilant or seem to think that everybody comes equipped with common sense and one day, people will be able to pluck common sense from their backyard trees and learn what not to do on social media sites. You must also remember that information you share on any site is money to someone, legally or otherwise. When you join Facebook, they have one more user to add to their portfolio. When you take part in an online survey, they have one more email address to sell to an advertiser. You can use free email or free social networking but everything comes with a price tag. It's just the way it is.

It's Not Cool To Be Privacy Conscious
Yes, well I figure it'll be way cooler when someone empties our bank account, picks up our children from their school or even sends emails with our details to make exorbitant purchases which we'll not know about until 5 years later. Thankfully, because Facebook came under such scrutiny for their privacy issues, or rather the lack of it, most other sites have geared up to be more conscious on what user information is shared and not shared. I'd like to think of it in this way - irrelevant of the car you drive, you should be able to choose your parking spot and when you do park, you don't just walk away from your car without locking it, do you?

In that same way, most sites allow you to choose what you want to show your friends, your colleagues and the rest of the world. Showing a little less or doing things a little differently, in a good way should not be an option that you should toy with. It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of 'followers' and networking at the click of a button but the ramifications of what we do today, however virtual, are bound to come back to us sooner or later. Even if it means your grandchildren are going to Google your name and find that horribly indecent picture of you and an old 'friend' who is not their grandpa. What do you think?

How Do You Survive Your Child?

By Erma Bombeck

If you’re looking for an answer this Mother’s Day to why God reclaimed your child, I don’t know. I only know that thousands of mothers out there today desperately need an answer as to why they were permitted to go through the elation of carrying a child and then lose it to miscarriage, accident, violence, suicide, disease or drugs.

Motherhood isn’t just a series of contractions; it’s a state of mind. From the moment we know life is inside us, we feel a responsibility to protect and defend that human being. It’s a promise we can’t keep. We beat ourselves to death over that pledge. "If I hadn’t worked through the eighth month." "If I had taken him/her to the doctor when he had a fever." "If I hadn’t let him use the car that night." "If I hadn’t been so naïve, I’d have noticed he was on drugs or needed help with depression."

The longer I live, the more convinced I become that surviving changes us. After the bitterness, the anger, the guilt and despair are tempered by time, we look at life differently. While I was writing my book: "I Want to Grow Hair, I Want to Grow Up, I Want to Go to Boise," I talked with mothers who had lost a child to cancer. Every single one said that death gave their lives new meaning and purpose.

And who do you think prepared them for the rough, lonely road that they had to travel? – their dying child. They pointed their mothers toward the future and told them to keep going. The children had already accepted what their mothers were fighting to reject. Even those children who died a sudden death are able to spiritually touch their parents and help them live on.

The children in the bombed-out nursery in Oklahoma City have touched many lives. Workers who had probably given their kids a mechanical pat on the head without thinking that morning were making calls home during the day to their children to say, "I love you."

Joy and life abound for millions of mothers on Mother’s Day. It’s also a day of appreciation and respect. I can think of no mothers who deserve it more than those who had to give a child back.

In the face of misery they ask, "Why me?" but there is no answer. Maybe they are the instruments who are left behind to perpetuate the lives that were lost and appreciate the times they had with their children. They are the ones who help pick up the pieces when tragedy occurs and others have lost their children.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Safe Water In Benin

By Edward Bally
Sourced from Reuters AlertNet

COTONOU, Benin, 28 October 2010 – In one of the first large-scale responses to a crisis that seemingly hasn't yet registered with much of the world, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has airlifted thousands of tents for people displaced by the devastating floods in Benin.

The first flight in the emergency airlift brought 1,500 tents into Cotonou, Benin's largest city. The tents will provide urgently needed shelter for victims of the floods, which were triggered by heavy rains. They will be sent to parts of Benin where floodwaters are receding, making it possible for the tents to be erected.

"With more than 3,000 tents, some 15,000 people will get decent temporary shelter close to their flood-ravaged homes. This will allow them to start repairs while they wait for the national rehabilitation effort to start," said UNHCR Representative in Benin Angèle Dikongué-Atangana. "As a priority, the first to receive tents will be those who have been left homeless."

Floodwaters cause destruction
The country has not suffered such damage from flooding in half a century.

"It was all very sudden," said Jude Narcisse Edegan, chief of the village of Kpoto in eastern Benin. "The water levels started getting higher and higher. It started to invade our houses. We yelled and told the population to evacuate towards the school and the church.… We had to leave everything behind and take our children to safety."

Constance Dagnihoun was sleeping in bed near her five children when she woke up and saw the water rising.

"I stormed out of my house and took my children with me. I saw the other villagers running around and fleeing to shelter," she said. At dawn, she saw that floodwaters had destroyed her house and more than 200 others in the village, leaving no choice for the villagers but to evacuate.

'We have to find a solution'
Ms. Dagnihoun eventually took shelter in a nearby informal camp. She now shares a small tent with her children and four other mothers. "It's very small for my family in here, and it's not clean either," she said. "Our children are getting more and more sick every day. We have to find a solution and build a new home."

More than 1.5 million people like Ms. Dagnihoun have been affected by the recent floods in Benin and across West Africa. Almost 400 have been killed.

The figures are highest in Benin. Two-thirds of the country was hard hit by the floods. As a result, 46 people died and 180,000 were displaced. In all, the floods have affected more than 680,000 Beninese. Some of the displaced have taken shelter with relatives, while others have had to build their own informal, temporary housing.

Reaching the most vulnerable
To respond to this crisis, UNICEF and its UN partners have set up an emergency plan for reaching communities in the most urgent need.

"The situation is critical," said Francois Bellet, UNICEF Regional Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Specialist. "We're here to ensure that children are being looked after and that we avoid major outbreaks of diseases such as diarrhoea and cholera. The situation will be even more critical when people try and get back to their villages."

To help prevent waterborne diseases, UNICEF has taken the lead on water and sanitation. In Cotonou, for example, the organization provided fuel allowing firefighters to distribute thousands of litres of safe, drinkable water. UNICEF has also provided thousands of water tanks and hygiene kits. In Athieme village, western Benin, UNICEF partnered with the Red Cross on the distribution of 1.35 million water-purification tablets, as well as soap and mosquito nets.

Schools destroyed
Among those affected by the floods in Benin, children are the most vulnerable. Almost 280 schools have been destroyed, and thousands of others are being used as shelters for displaced families. In some places, the government had to cancel the first day of school and will keep on postponing it until the situation improves.

To help children keep up with their education, UNICEF has prepared school kits for distribution to affected students during the back-to-school period. Still, some 115,000 children still cannot attend school. To meet the basic needs of these children and others affected by the floods, UNICEF has issued an urgent funding appeal for $8.7 million.

The coming weeks will be critical to ensure that the situation does not get worse.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

When Words Won't Come

A Prayer For When Words Won't Come
Author Unknown

O My Father, I have moments of deep unrest -- moments when I know not what to ask by reason of the very excess of my wants. I have in these hours no words for Thee, no conscious prayers for Thee.

My cry seems purely worldly; I want only the wings of a dove that I may flee away. Yet all the time Thou has accepted my unrest as a prayer. Thou has interpreted its cry for a dove's wings as a cry for Thee, Thou has received the nameless longings of my heart as the intercessions of Thy Spirit.

They are not yet the intercessions of my spirit; I know not what to ask. But Thou knowest what I ask, O my God. Thou knowest the name of that need which lies beneath my speechless groan. Thou knowest that, because I am made in Thine image, I can find rest only in what gives rest to Thee; therefore Thou hast counted my unrest unto me for righteousness, and has called my groaning Thy Spirit's prayer. Amen.

Blog-A-Licious Wednesdays - Weeks 3 & 4

Once again, yet another a collection of amazing blogs to be read and passed around!



To participate in Blog-A-Licious Wednesdays, please leave your link at http://peacefrompieces.blogspot.com/p/blog-licious.html

And if you missed Week Three, here's another look.



Saturday, 6 November 2010

And Then, He Touched Me

5 Ponderings On Surviving Sexual Abuse
By Pandora Poikilos

As I set out to do groundwork for the Keep Me Safe Campaign, I was a little surprised to note that while we can find at least 10,000 different sites and places to meet people, there seems to be so much less reading material on surviving sexual abuse or outlets for survivors to speak up. Some people would consider what I am about to write to be a confession, I would prefer to call it reaching out. I've been down the road of sexual abuse and it is a road that is not only less traveled, it is a journey that never ends. No matter how much is done, sexual abuse is an act you survive, every day for the rest of your life from the moment it sneaks into your life. If at any point, I can help someone in realising that they can survive this ordeal, then I'd like to think my experience holds some reason. Here are some things I know.

It does not discriminate
We'd like to think that rape, molest, incest and any kind of sexual abuse only occurs in under developed countries and that uneducated people who have not been taught to control their urges are the only ones who become entangled in the web of improper sexual conduct. This is the biggest lie you can keep telling yourself. It happens more than you know to more people than you'd like to admit. Even when it happened to me and it took me so long to voice it out, one of the first things that I did realise was that the sooner I stopped having a reaction, the easier things would be for me. I was the one who was not 'normal' and in some way, this was all my fault. And that's the other lie we are taught to believe in. After all those years of research, training and education, we still live in a society that child or grown up, we will look at the victim's surroundings first before we consider the perpetrator's actions. If she was a scantily clad prostitute, would it really be easier to believe that we live with a person who does not understand the word, "no"? In reality, sexual abuse is an issue where fault lines are better left out because when drawn, you'll spend the rest of life in virtual chains wondering how it all happened. If I had been at home, if I had seen the signs earlier, if she had said something about it, what made him snap - are only the tip of the iceberg to how your mind can wander when trying to make sense of such an issue. Acknowledging the incident is of the utmost importance and is the first step towards surviving the issue before any other steps can be taken.

To tell or not to tell
As a child whose authority figure has moved away from the straight path or the grown up whose date has just taken advantage of her, this is a question that runs through every survivor's mind. If I say it and I am believed, how will I ever be able to deal with all the attention it brings me? Will people believe me? Even I didn't believe he was capable of such an act, how can someone else believe? In some cases, speaking out about the incident will seem to take much more energy than the ordeal itself and facing questions such as, "Wasn't there something you could have done to stop it?", will be so stinging, you'd want to dig a hole and bury yourself right there. I cannot speak for everyone but I can tell you that speaking up is always the correct step to take because it is a way of ensuring that you are not allowing him to do this to anyone else. But, coming from someone who has dealt with this, I know, it isn't as black and white as we would all like it to be. If you do not speak about it at the point of the incident, bear in mind, you must be prepared to deal with it at a later point in your life. Yes, it will pop it's ugly head again in future, this is not a fender bender that can be fixed as easily as you'd like to think.

It really is about power
Most counsellors will tell you that sexual abuse is about power and in those terrifying moments of the act, it is the perpetrator's way of saying, "I own you." This is true but there's more to it. If you'll notice, up to to this point I have been referring to victims of sexual abuse as survivors instead of victims, because it is what you have to do. You have to survive sexual abuse instead of falling victim to it. The moment you get it into your head that you are victim, you will also feel that the world owes you something and that you are weaker because someone has taken something from you. True, what has been taken is irreplaceable and a million dollars or more can never reinstate it but repeatedly telling yourself you are weaker because of what has happened means someone else has power over you and this is what sexual abuse can spiral towards. Every minute, hour and day you spend asking why, contemplating retribution, wishing him a slow death is time, energy and thought given to someone else other than yourself. It is a sense of power that he can hold over you and watch you squirm. Move on. While it will be easier said than done, it has to be done. Pay attention to yourself. You need to come out of this and you don't need any more bits and thoughts of him to do it. Very few perpetrators have it in them to seek forgiveness so don't hold your breath. If it comes, take it and move on. If it doesn't, and this is the most likely scenario, move on anyway. Survival is about what you need not what the rest of the world wants.

I don't know what is right anymore
Within any family or community, sexual abuse is not something we wish for. But, sometimes, come it will, literally taking a slow creep around our current perceptions and hopes for the future. Sometimes, when someone approaches you, saying someone has taken advantage of them, the first thing that runs through your head is, "can this be true?". Some of us get all geared up to confront the issue, others want nothing more than to sweep it under the carpet because "what would people think, if they knew?" and even others would prefer to say, "nothing happened, you're just making it up." Yes, there are a lot of ways we can deal with sexual abuse. There are no right ways and there are no wrong ones. It is usually a solution that comes from so much mixed emotion that no one knows how to take the next step. While counselling, therapy or even a change of environment can take place, parents or loved ones must remember, this is an issue that will never go away. When she falls in love, when she find the person she'll want to spend the rest of her life with, when she has her own children or even as she tries to live on her own, it will be there. Blaming yourself, wishing you could have done more to protect her, is as good as feeling like a victim too. Sexual abuse affects each of us in a different way, acknowledging the abuse and support for her are essential in ensuring your relationship also survives this incident.

Will it really get better?
Yes, it will. It will not be an easy route, that much I can tell you. You will experience numerous trust issues and you will have insecurities high enough to compete with any of tallest buildings in the world, but one issue at a time, it does get better. If you have to face people who keep pushing you face down into the mud and keep rubbing it in that the sexual abuse that occurred was your fault, do yourself a very big favour, turn a very deaf ear or walk away. As much as the world needs a lot of different kind of people for it to go around, you don't need people who put you down when you are already down. One thing I can tell you for certain, is that you will also have the opportunity of meeting or knowing people who are willing to listen to your saddest mutterings, who will stand guard to make sure you don't keep feeling sorry for yourself and most of all who don't look at you as damaged goods. They'll see you as unique, extraordinary and even eventful but these are the people you must have in your life and when you find even one person like this, treasure them. If they are willing to share your journey with you, knowing full well that it won't be easy, that in itself is the best gift they'll ever give you.

Book Review - Walking Through Illusion

"It was predictable; she understood hate. And giving up what she understood for something she didn’t, seemed pretty risky to her. She had survived, however. At least she could appreciate that. To handle her hate, she had to put herself at the helm of her experience instead of at the effect. True, she couldn’t control her father, but she could control her response to his behavior." - Betsy Thompson

Walking Through Illusion which is Betsy Thompson's seventh book, is centred around biblical people who either knew Jesus or knew of him, and were influenced by him in one way or another. From Batholomew, Paul, John, Mary Magdalene, Aaron, Judas and Pilate, their experiences are shared not in the usual fashion of drawing a biblical story but instead focuses on the emotions they might have experienced while allowing the reader to be reminded that these are emotions of everyday people. As each person and emotion is discussed, you will observe how easily disillusioned we can be, be it in our own lives or when trying to understand other people. Some of the questions raised by the author include - is approval or acceptance necessary, how do complaints affect us, what are we searching for and more!

The question and answer sheets included at the end of every chapter may seem like it can offer you a small lesson to carry forward as you come to the end of the chapter but instead raises questions and churns out very thought provoking memories and sentiments you will have to think about. You will find yourself challenging the illusions you have chosen to believe and carry on in your life while realising that you have the ability to change the situation you are given, at any point you want to. This is an ideal book for those who are at crossroads in their personal lives or for those who have come to a point in their lives where they know there is more to life but can't seem to figure what the 'more' actually refers to. Of course, it is also makes for a wonderful read for those who are looking to better themselves emotionally and are seeking personal growth.

Betsy Otter Thompson who is is the author of six other books has always had her work gravitate toward the media. A native Philadelphian, Betsy has worked as an account executive for WFIL radio in Philadelphia, and from there went to radio stations WPEN and WFLN. After that, she became a commercial print model and acted in television commercials in New York and Philadelphia. For seventeen years, she worked in Los Angeles at the motion picture and television company Castle Rock Entertainment as the Assistant to the Chairman and CEO. In August 1999, she followed her boss to Warner Bros. as he took a new position there as President and COO, and became his Executive Assistant. She is now writing full time. Betsy's writing began unexpectedly while going through an especially difficult time in her life. She believes that her books were the answer to her prayers.

Order your copy today

Title: Walking Through Illusion. Jesus Speaks of the People who Shared his Journey
Author: Betsy Otter Thompson
Published: 2009
Published by: O Books
Format: 242 pages, Soft Cover

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Life Is Coffee

Author Unknown

A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university professor. Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life.

Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups - porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some
expensive, some exquisite - telling them to help themselves to the coffee.

When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said:

"If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress.

Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee. In most cases it is just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink.

What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups. And then you began eyeing each other's cups.

Now consider this: Life is the coffee; the jobs, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain Life, and the type of cup we have does not define, nor change the quality of Life we live.

Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee God has provided us."

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Somebody Said

By Renee Hawkley

Somebody said
... a mother is an unskilled laborer.
"Somebody" never gave a squirmy infant a bath.

... you know how to be a mother by instinct.
"Somebody" never took a three-year-old shopping.

... that "good" mothers never yell at their kids.
"Somebody's" child never sent a baseball through a neighbor's picture window.

... a mother can end all the answers to her child-rearing questions in books.
"Somebody" never had a child stuff beans in his nose.

... a mother always adores her children.
"Somebody" never tried to comfort a colicky baby at 3 a.m.

... a mother can do her job with her eyes closed and one hand tied behind her back.
"Somebody" never organized seven giggling Brownies into a cookie-selling brigade.

... the hardest part of being a mother is labor and delivery.
"Somebody" never watched her "baby" get on the bus for the first day of kindergarten.

... your mother knows you love her, so you don't have to tell her.
"Somebody" isn't a mother.

Blog-A-Licious Wednesdays - Weeks 2 & 3

Once again, yet another a collection of amazing blogs to be read and passed around!



To participate in Blog-A-Licious Wednesdays, please leave your link at http://peacefrompieces.blogspot.com/p/blog-licious.html

And if you missed Week Two, here's another look.


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Books Sold - 6 Nov 2011 to 31 May 2012

Some of you have asked me for my total number of books sold to evaluate KDP Select so here it is. Bear in mind, that results will vary based on genre and author. Good luck and remember, Keep Moving Forward.

Total - 120,836

1. Excuse Me, My Brains Have Stepped Out
Amazon Kindle - 42,559
Paperback -
Smashwords -

2. Frequent Traveller
Amazon Kindle - 35277
Paperback -
Smashwords -

3. Dora's Essentials - Books, Blogs & Smiles 1
Amazon Kindle - 462
Smashwords -

4. Mirror Me Martha (Short Story)
Amazon Kindle - 281
Smashwords -

5. Drive On Hope (Short Story)
Amazon Kindle - 190
Smashwords -

6. Blog-A-Licious Directory 2012
Amazon Kindle - 1
Smashwords -

7. Pandora's Reading Room 1
Amazon Kindle -
Paperback - N/A

8. The Cat That Barked (Short Story)
Amazon Kindle -

9. Dora's Essentials - Examining Anxiety
Amazon Kindle -

10. Dora's Essentials - Books, Blogs & Smiles 2
Amazon Kindle -

11. Elevenses from Around the World
Amazon Kindle -

12. Genetically Modified Foods vs. Sustainability
Amazon Kindle -

Blog-A-Licius - Sherbet Blossom



Dealightfully Frugal

Blog-A-Licious - The Few, The Proud, The Wife


My Soul Slippers

Blog-A-Licous - Textbook Mommy

Blog-A-Licious - Blue Frogs Legs

Blog-A-Licious - Pretty All True

Pretty All True

Blog-A-Licious - tbaoo



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Blog-A-Licious - The Invisible Art

Blog-A-Licious - Rediscovering Domesticity

Rediscovering Domesticity

Blog-A-Licious - Quiver Full

Blog-A-Licious - Cori's Big Mouth

Blog-A-Licious - Great Fun


Blog-A-Licious - Busy Wife

Blog-A-Licious - Steps To Happiness

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Blog-A-Licious - Toby & Max

Blog-A-Licious - Amelie

Raising Amelie

Blog-A-Licious - Peas In A Pod

Blog-A-Licious - Riley

Blognostics - Poetry


My Awards - September 2010

My Awards - September 2010
Awarded By Jo Frances

My Awards - May 2011

My Awards - May 2011
Awarded By Alejandro Guzman

My Awards - May 2011

My Awards - May 2011
Awarded by Kriti Mukherjee

My Awards - April 2011

My Awards - April 2011
Awarded By Roy Durham

My Awards - June 2011

My Awards - June 2011
Awarded By Sulekha Rawat

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