Reflections of a Young Man™ - True Stories by Thuita J. Maina
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Book Review: Be Inspired Before You Expire

This is me in my bedroom-cum-study holding Be Inspired Before You Expire by Pepe Minambo, published in 2009 by Flamekeepers Company.


Oops! I am just from having a cold shower after our home had a power-loss early on this evening. It was scary putting myself under the cold water running from the shower-head. And it reminded me of my friend Festus Korosho Munene who once wisecracked on Facebook, "Guys, please pray for me; I am about to bathe with cold water!"

Jokes aside, that power-loss has reminded me of how grateful I ought to be to the folks out there at Kenya Power who work hard to ensure I get the electricity that not only enables me to enjoy hot showers but also connects me to the world by charging the gadgets I use to browse the internet.

Out of that gratitude, I feel I also have a responsibility to serve the world in return for the electricity and other services/goods that I enjoy everyday. I will emulate the great particle physicist Albert Einstein who wrote:
A hundred times every day, I remind myself that my inner and outer life depend on the labours of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving.
Pretty powerful words, aren't they? They have inspired me to continue serving the world using my talents. And writing is one of those talents.

Today, I will write about Be Inspired Before You Expire (see photo above), a motivational book by Pepe Minambo which I have enjoyed reading twice and occasionally thumb through for inspirational quotes.

Pepe Minambo basically distils in the book the usual yadda yadda we've all heard about what it takes to succeed in life. For me though, reading the book has served as a powerful reminder of those success principles.

And what are those success principles that Pepe MInambo reiterates?

First, is the need for inspiration. Pepe Minambo begins his book by noting that all great achievers in the long history of the world attained their success because they were inspired. In short, inspiration is the oxygen of success.

I can attest from a personal experience I had in 2011 that we do indeed need inspiration to succeed in whatever we set our minds on. Okay, let me tell you the story.

When I dropped out of the University of Nairobi back in 2011 due to financial constraints, I requested my family to sponsor me to stay in Nairobi. I intended to spend most of my time in the city at the Kenya National Library to expand my intellectual bandwidth.

But alas! After my family agreed to sponsor me, I ended up dozing in the library on most days I went there. On other days, I didn't turn up. Why? Because I lacked inspiration.

Back to the book I am reviewing, Pepe Minambo encourages us to acquire the sort of knowledge I aspired to attain when I dropped out of the University of Nairobi. How? Obviously by reading books.

He also encourages us to connect with nature regularly. He says nature can be a great source of the inspiration we all need to succeed in life.

As for me, I have resumed reading books of which I have plenty here at home thanks to my hard-working father who has been buying them over the years. And unlike when my family sponsored me to stay in Nairobi in 2011, this time I have the inspiration to read them.

Apart from growing our knowledge, Pepe Minambo counsels us to believe in ourselves. He says we can succeed even when others don't believe in us but we can't succeed unless we believe in ourselves.

Pepe Minambo acknowledges that we live in a world full of cynics, sceptics and doubters - people who discourage and put us down. He encourages us to ignore such criticism by reminding us that even God, despite the fact that He is real, doesn't have everyone believing in Him. I agree with that.

As part of believing in ourselves, Pepe Minambo extols us to build a high positive self-image. He gives an example of the way the Hummer, a classy car that captured the imagination of some people here in Kenya some years back, was advertised in a local daily:
It's time to cut loose from the rest. Unmistakable looks, unrivalled performance, unbelievable value...
Such is the kind of high positive self-image that Pepe Minambo extols us to have.

He also spares some space in his book for those of us who had a suppressed childhood by encouraging us to overcome it and move on with life.

I, for one, had a suppressed childhood. I was often ridiculed as dull and dumb. And when I joined Starehe Boys' Centre for my high school education, I was often criticized for being confused.

But now with people like Pepe Minambo encouraging me through their books, I have overcome that suppressed childhood. And I am feeling continually well-equipped to handle life.

Pepe Minambo didn't have a suppressed childhood himself but he reveals in the book that his father was an irresponsible parent. Had it not been for his mother, he wouldn't be the success he is today.

Having grown up in such kind of matrix, Pepe Minambo beseeches all parents out there to be excellent role models for their children, and to bring them up in a way that makes them realize their dreams.

All told, Be Inspired Before You Expire is a great read. And it isn't that long; you can finish it in three days if you are a slow-reader. Unfortunately, it is currently not available on Amazon.

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Visualizing

I have extracted this photo from the website of Hrenko Insurance Agency. All rights reserved worldwide.


How are you, my dear reader? Hoping that you are well, I am going to tell you something special today. It's not the usual yadda yadda.

I was reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey the other day when I learnt from the internationally acclaimed best-seller that we (yes, you and me) have two sections in the brain: the left and the right.

The left brain deals with words, the right with pictures; the left with parts, the right with wholes and the relationship between the two. All that means the left brain is where we analyse issues while the right is where we creatively visualize things.

Given the brilliant stories I have been posting in this lovely blog of mine, I believe my left brain is in good working order. But my right brain still needs to be exercised. That's why I have decided to be spending some time visualizing the kind of life I'd love to lead, beginning today.

After all, if I don't visualize the kind of life I desire to lead, how will I know that my dreams have materialized? Or to put it in Biblical language, how will I know God has fulfilled the desires of my heart?

And what kind of life do I desire to lead? Okay, let me begin with the material world.

I understand from the Scriptures that we don't live to eat, but again, we can't live without eating. So I desire to have enough genuinely acquired money not only to keep my body well-fed with a balanced diet punctuated with an occasional glass of wine but also to afford a decent life.

And a decent life begins by living in a comfortable abode. I envision my abode to be a home here in Kiserian - an area I have come to love and appreciate because of its year-long lovely weather and its green landscape demarcated on the Western horizon by the world-famous Ngong Hills.

Surrounded by a well-manicured green lawn and a well-knit kei-apple fence, my home shall basically be made up of a magnificent mansion like the one in the photo above, and a farm which I shall christen "The Garden of Eden". I will stuff the mansion with books, music, movies, modern appliances and comfortable furnitures as well as with rare and beautiful treasures.

And in the Garden of Eden of my home, I will set aside sections for an apiary, an aviary, a cow-shed, a fish-pond and a garden of vegetables which I shall separate with orange groves because as my siblings Joe, Bob, Paddy & Symo can attest, orange trees grow robustly here in Kiserian where I am currently living with our wonderful parents.

As well as connecting me with nature, such kind of farming will also provide my future family with eggs, meat, milk, fish, fruits, honey and vegetables. That's awesome, isn't it?

Besides building a magnificent home, I also envision having enough money to purchase a sleek car, to travel around the globe and to conduct a colourful wedding, God willing.

That's for the material world. Now let me visualize myself developing my mind, body and spirit - the most precious assets of a human.

Of developing my mind, I can visualize myself turning the pages of a book, getting engrossed with what it's saying and pausing occasionally to reflect on how its message relates to my own world, to historical contexts and to the opinions held by particular authors.

Of developing my body, I can visualize myself walking (my favourite physical exercise) and stretching with rollers according to recommended levels while eating at appointed times because, as all wise men know, too much eating leads to excess weight.

Of growing my spirit, I will be praying, singing and connecting regularly with nature which is the visible work of God as the wonderful old hymn How Great Thou Art puts it in verse one which goes like this:
O Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds thy hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy pow'r thro'out the universe displayed...
Then sings my soul my Saviour God to thee,
How great thou art, how great thou art!
I have always felt every word of that verse in my heart in the couple of times I have sang it with joy. And it's my faith that I will feel it again and again in my heart when I sing that verse to myself while gazing at the Grand Canyon in the United States, at the Coral Barrier Reef in Australia, at the Himalayas mountain range in China or at another magnificent work of God that I may be honoured to see before I depart from this grand and beautiful planet.

Enough about me. How about you, my dear reader? What kind of life do you envision for yourself? Join me in this journey of making productive use of the right brain which as I have told you, is where we creatively visualize things. Think about your future in pictures.

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Reconnecting With God

This is the magnificent Starehe Boys' chapel where we used to sing Guide Me O My Great Redeemer with unusual zeal. More on it in the story of mine below.


Yesterday late evening as I was going to check whether a certain bunch of banana fruits I had seen on our farm was still there or stolen, I was greeted by a sight of the full moon freely suspended on the sky to the East of the farm. Good heavens, what a majestic sight it was!

The Moon was so perfectly spherical that I had the impression God must have used a mathematical set to design and construct it. Then I found myself reciting the following lines from A Midsummer's Night Dream by William Shakespeare:
Sweet moon, I thank thee for thy sunny beams;
I thank thee, moon, for shining now so bright;
For by thy gracious, golden, glittering gleams
I trust to take of truest Thisbe sight!
And the sight of the moon has set me thinking about God because like it, I was also designed and constructed by Him. But I must be more important in God's eye than the Moon because I am more fearfully and wonderfully made because I possess reason, feelings and life.

I have decided to reconnect with this God who created me whom I know as the Lord, the Mighty One. By reconnecting with God, I mean tapping to the powerhouse within after experiencing a setback in life that could be anything from a rejection to an illness to a loss of loved one.

As for me, I usually reconnect with God through believing, praying, singing and studying His Word. Of believing, I have this time round deepened my faith in God by thinking of Him as my source of strength and guidance. You see, I didn't choose to be alive; I just found myself in this planet as it must be the case with you. Or did you apply to be born and live at this particular time?

And since I owe my life to God, I have decided to hand over the running of my life to Him. That means I will cease worrying about anything and instead pray about everything. Like I have prayed my parents may live to see me walk down the aisle with my princess charming, wherever she is.

Of praying, I have this time round asked for peace in my life using a prayer Dr. Geoffrey Griffin, the founder of Starehe Boys' Centre, used to utter during Friday assemblies. It went like this;
Show [me] O God,
Your mercy and Your grace,
So that my heart may be stirred to worship,
And my life may know Your peace.
O peace, what a pleasant and precious feeling to possess! Now that I have trained my mind to stop worrying, I believe peace shall always reign supreme in me as I journey in this life in a planet characterized by death and sorrow.

Of singing, I have this time round sang Guide Me O My Great Redeemer, a hymn I came to like during my days at Starehe Boys' Centre. We used to sing that hymn with vigour and vitality during a church service held before breaking for each and every holiday.

And we sang it with such zeal that we might have cleaved the roof of Starehe Boys' magnificent chapel (see photo above) with our pleas for guidance. But our zeal sprang not from an earnest plea for guidance from God but from a joy that we were finally heading home after more than twelve weeks in school at Starehe.

I have come to love that hymn these days because of the way it calls on God to guide me. And I have come to love it so much that I have committed it to memory.

And finally of studying God's Word as a way of reconnecting with God, I have this time been reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey. Now, I know some may yell at me, "Oh Thuita, for Christ's sake, that Stephen Covey's book is not God's Word!"

Well, I am alive to the fact that people usually refer to the Bible, and only the Bible, as the Word of God. But for me, any book, magazine or newspaper that helps me understand God and life better is God's Word phrased differently.

As from the Stephen Covey's book, I have learnt to attain emotional independence. That means the way I feel should never result from the way others treat me but from the way I accept myself as a brilliant and charming young man. Adieu!

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