Thursday, 30 January 2014

Phil Collins - In The Air Tonight (Official Video)



Today is Phil Collins Birthday and according to Magic Radio, Phil belongs to a truly exclusive club consisting of only 3 members~ Phil Collins, Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson. This trio is unique as they all sold one hundred million albums with their respective groups and again as solo artists. That is such an incredible number of sales it's almost unbelievable!

Great to have some good news here in the UK where we are experiencing the wettest January since records began!

Let's wish Phil a Happy Birthday and a great evening!!!

Jaz McKenzie

Sunday, 26 January 2014

'He would never use one word when none would do'~ poem by Philip Levine


Philip Levine, now in his 80's has written some incredibly moving poetry including this poem whose very title makes you aware of Philip's observational prowess and deep thinking characteristics. This is a beautifully told story in poetic form and it is no wonder that he was awarded the Pulitzer prize for his collection, 'The Simple Truth.' Here is more information on Philip Levine

If you said “Nice day,” he would look up
at the three clouds riding overhead,
nod at each, and go back to doing what-
ever he was doing or not doing.
If you asked for a smoke or a light,
he’d hand you whatever he found
in his pockets: a jackknife, a hankie –
usually unsoiled — a dollar bill,
a subway token. Once he gave me
half the sandwich he was eating
at the little outdoor restaurant
on La Guardia Place. I remember
a single sparrow was perched on the back
of his chair, and when he held out
a piece of bread on his open palm,
the bird snatched it up and went back to
its place without even a thank you,
one hard eye staring at my bad eye
as though I were next. That was in May
of ’97, spring had come late,
but the sun warmed both of us for hours
while silence prevailed, if you can call
the blaring of taxi horns and the trucks
fighting for parking and the kids on skates
streaming past silence. My friend Frankie
was such a comfort to me that year,
the year of the crisis. He would turn
up his great dark head just going gray
until his eyes met mine, and that was all
I needed to go on talking nonsense
as he sat patiently waiting me out,
the bird staring over his shoulder.
“Silence is silver,” my Zaydee had said,
getting it wrong and right, just as he said
“Water is thicker than blood,” thinking
this made him a real American.
Frankie was already American,
being half German, half Indian.
Fact is, silence is the perfect water:
unlike rain it falls from no clouds
to wash our minds, to ease our tired eyes,
to give heart to the thin blades of grass
fighting through the concrete for even air
dirtied by our endless stream of words.


I would definitely recommend taking time to read more of his work and this poem echoes a similar observation in a book by Cecelia Ahern, 'The Book of Tomorrow,' in which she describes how her uncle communicated primarily with mucus swallows and head movements!! I think that sometimes when we wish to understand people we definitely need to look a lot further than beyond their obvious communication. Words are often used far to readily and especially when we have opinions and are waiting for a chance to 'jump' into conversations in a discourteous way! 

'Water is thicker than blood'- how often do we not quite grasp s phrase or an idea properly? Again, we need to pay attention and take time to understand things although the understanding here goes deeper than the words. Great food for thought and an opportunity to challenge ourselves in many different ways- conduct, skills, beliefs.

Jaz McKenzie

If you would like to submit your poems or thoughts send to: itsbraap@live.co.uk

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Have Questions~Have Answers? #3- Is free will really free?


We are told that we are born with God's gift of free will and we are free to live our lives how we choose, making our own choices and decisions. The question is, how free is our free will? 

I was talking with a friend recently and commented that parents are very quick to give their children Calpol. This is hardly surprising when it is basically advertised as a mini miracle which removes pain and fever instantly leaving children well and happy. Taking this a step further, many of us rarely question the medication available to us, especially over the counter medication. If people believe in alternative medication such as homeopathic treatments we might think they are a little 'different.' Ultimately perceptions of normal arise from our up-bringing. The same theory applies to all of our preconceived ideas and beliefs leading to the question, how free thinking are we in reality?

Actions stem from our thoughts and it takes a great deal of courage to break away from the culture or traditions we have been born into, yet we all believe we are right! What is right and what is wrong? At what age does a child understand the difference and whose difference are they understanding?

Let's consider morality. Morality is a huge subject, especially sexual morality. In some cultures we are expected to have one life partner whereas other cultures encourage men to take several wives. Who is right? Different religions will answer this question differently and ultimately it is not up to us to judge. Life is a learning journey and you can only digest any facts that you have in-putted. Our knowledge is strictly limited and if we need help understanding things it is good to seek help either through research or discussion. 

Our free will enables us to take or leave God as we choose- in the same way we make other decisions. Nothing is really forced on us and we can choose consciously or subconsciously to accept or reject things. Often we make excuses to ourselves to allow us to remain in unhappy situations- relationships, jobs, geographical areas. This may be because we choose familiarity or fear over courage. We have the free will to change our lives at any time and it is up to us to assess the cost. Sometimes people say that there is always a price to pay for happiness, success or security- but maybe that is simply another comment arising from conditioning. If you expect to pay a price then you probably will have to pay a price but if you believe you deserve the best life has to offer the 'price' might be more of a joy than a burden.

Now is the time to use your mind and examine how you view life: are you thinking for yourself or following the crowd? World leaders are generally people who form their own opinions and stand up to be counted. How about you? Are you living the way you really want to live and exercising your free will or just carrying on as you always have? We were given free will as a gift so don't take it for granted, use it and make changes for the best.

Jaz McKenzie 

Simply Red - Holding Back The Years



Great song here from Simply Red. Sometimes we are tempted to try and hold back the years yet life is really about moving forwards. Yes we can re-visit and gain a great deal of pleasure from memories, but the secret of life is to live in the moment and draw as much joy and blessings as we can from it on a daily basis.


We live best and are happiest when we accept life rather than fighting against it. We all have good and not so good phases in life; things to face over which we have no control. Maintaining flexibility in the way we view things is extremely important and can enable us to accept things more openly and make the best of every event and situation. There are times when it is best to keep our opinions to ourselves and work within situations rather than fighting against them, especially when others would clearly benefit from support.

You can never hold back the years but you can make them worth remembering and aim to make the most of every situation.

Jaz McKenzie

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Sugar Minott~ join us for some Lovers Rock



~IB~ enjoying a trip down memory lane with the late, great Sugar Minott as we indulge in some Lovers Rock. Of course, there are many excellent artists around today continuing the legacy of this era alongside the modernisation of other forms of classic reggae music. Sadly it is generally the more commercial sounds which hit the charts or receive frequent airplay yet we live in the hope that authentic reggae will receive more accreditation and be aligned properly with other popular genres.


Reggae is very much alive and there are always a number of events which you can attend to hear live reggae music from bands and solo artists alike. We have interviewed different artists and exposed some lesser known music previously on ~IB~. If you wish to share music or information relating to exciting reggae events please contact us: itsbraap@live.co.uk

Have a blessed day.

Jaz McKenzie

Monday, 20 January 2014

Have Questions~Have Answers #2- Why is sorry so often the hardest word?


Why is sorry so often the hardest word?
It is funny that so many very young children seem to find it hard to say sorry and even adults can acquire a reputation for being stubborn and refusing to admit their mistakes. Of course, children often present ‘challenging behaviour’ and we need to find ways to work around this and still achieve the desired outcome. Often they will give someone a quick hug rather than a formal apology. As adults we need to learn to work with our pride. Pride can be inherited in our genes or cultivated within individual families or societies yet all too often it acts as barrier and can keep us prisoner within undesirable situations in fact, pride can exacerbate bad situations.
In order to apologise and actually mean it takes maturity and humility. Young children usually apologise as directed until they begin to learn what an apology really signifies, quite often using ‘sorry’ in a flippant manner without meaning it; to be genuinely apologetic we need to understand cause and effect. The hardest people to apologise to are usually those we are closest to and the more hurt we have caused the harder the apology becomes, especially when an array of agendas come into play.
One of the problems facing most of us is the tendency to be a little self-centred. Stopping to think of the other person’s point of view during an altercation can prevent a situation from becoming out of hand and enables agreement therefore avoiding the need for an apology. Problems often arise if we have fixed views or expectations and remain inflexible when others act in a way that we disapprove of or cause us to feel ‘let down.’ Sadly it is often simply a question of not being empathetic towards others and instead of discussion leading to compromise there is upset, hurt and discord.
People who always need to be right either have too great a sense of their own importance or a lack of self confidence that creates a bullying attitude- they may ‘walk over’ other people’s opinions. A refusal to apologise on principal can be a sign of immaturity although there are cases where a person may not need to apologise. Sometimes apology can be a good tactical move if it calms a potentially explosive situation without anyone losing face.
The hardest thing is to apologise to yourself when you let yourself down! There are many occasions when we need to forgive ourselves before we are able to forgive others. If you do not forgive yourself you will carry the weight of your wrong doings and this will hold you back. Likewise, you should stop being judgemental and hard on yourself. Weakness is a part of our human make up and we need to accept the good with the bad to keep moving forwards.
A useful guide in any situation is to consider how you feel about something. If you are feeling bad the probability is that you are in the wrong and an apology is due. Be honest and be discerning; it will help you to get along well with others and help you to progress in a positive direction.
Sorry shouldn’t be a hard word, it should be helpful word used to express true remorse and release its healing qualities.
Jaz McKenzie
If you have questions or comments send to: itsbraap@live.co.uk

 

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

HUMMINGBIRD~ Poem by Jaz McKenzie

 


HUMMINGBIRD
Master of illusion
Sweet Hummingbird,
Hanging
In mid-air, suspended in time
Effortless
Beauty with grace
Supping sweet nectar
Inner engine whirling
Working feverishly
Familiar hummmm
Audible, intriguing
Defying gravity
Just long enough
To refuel until
In a flash
You’re gone!
 
Jaz McKenzie ©2014
If you would like your poetry featured on ~IB~ contact: itsbraap@live.co.uk

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Haiti Four Years On.


Four years ago the world was shocked by Haiti's almost total devastation following a monumental earthquake. There were many fundraising activities and projects in full swing with everyone doing their part to help in a pretty hopeless looking situation. I am sure we all recall the feelings we experienced at the time so it is really good to see some smiling faces and be assured that devastation gives way to hope.

The pain of loss will always be with those who were directly affected by the quake and whilst life goes on it is good to know that many organizations use their expertise and continue working away in the background. There are many reports available as 12th January marks the anniversary of the earthquake and Oxfam's account of the original situation and progress made during the past three years is extremely clear giving a good overall perspective. Please note that current information from Oxfam is available on twitter  OXFAM - HAITI 4 YEAR PROGRESS 

These are the main aims Oxfam is focused on accomplishing:
As a result, Oxfam´s current work in Haiti is focused on longer-term development, promoting sustainable change. All programs are based on the following rights´ based aims:
  • The right to life and security: facilitating safe and decent housing in healthier and safer communities.
  • The right to a sustainable livelihood: strengthening food security through agricultural livelihoods programs, focusing specifically on small farmers and women-led enterprises, and emphasizing climate change resilience and awareness.
  • The right to essential services: building stronger and healthier communities by supporting the construction of long-term sanitation services;
  • The right to be heard: supporting community groups and women leadership at community level to strengthen their links with government authorities and local NGOs, through empowering and engaging activities.
  • The right to an identity: facilitating opportunities for displaced Haitians, especially women, to reintegrate into the society-at-large.
When you consider Oxfam's report it makes you wonder how much more progress could have been made if Haiti had benefitted directly from all monies donated. This report makes very sad reading, especially as many people sacrificed in order to help: Unaccounted US FUNDS

Ultimately, there will always be greed and corruption in this world but our job is to care and give joyfully to those in need.

Jaz McKenzie

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Have Questions~Have Answers? Week 1 "What came first-the chicken or the egg?''




What came first- the chicken or the egg?
This has to be THE proverbial question which is often quoted in numerous situations. A friend of mine once said, ‘that’s obvious, the chicken.’ Must say I agree for two reasons:
  1. God made man – or man evolved within the universe. Either way,  according to logic species of animals, plants and so forth must have been fully formed in order to relay comprehensive coded genetic information via ova, sperm etc so that the species continues.
  2. Eggs have to incubate before they hatch therefore an adult of the species is a requirement so that they develop into babies.
This question is great for emphasising the purpose of questioning itself. We like to understand our world, our universe and constantly observe everything around us, drawing conclusions based upon  current knowledge. I expect scientists have examined this question and formulated pretty accurate conclusions but the great thing is that we unpeel knowledge in layers and just when we think we know something, discover something else! The atom was once thought to be the smallest thing possible until scientists discovered they were wrong!- go look it up if you’ve forgotten.
The chicken or the egg? It si immaterial really as it doesn’t affect the man in the street. We have myriads ofchickens who lay eggs and the cycle of life continues with both the chicken and the egg awaiting an unfortunate destiny in the majority of cases.  The next questions this thought provokes are,’ should we really eat meat or be vegetarian?  Should all battery farming be banned?
Any Braappers fancy arguing the case for the egg or giving feedback on other questions around this subject?
Jaz McKenzie





I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me) - Whitney Houston




~IB~ helping you start out the day with a spring in your step. Very catchy Whitney song which we are all familiar with and if you can't dance with somebody right now just do a few twirls on your own!!
Have a beautiful, blessed day.


Jaz McKenzie

Chakra Meditation Balancing & Healing




Last year we posted a chakra meditation video which proved popular so today ~IB~ is sharing another which includes the healing element. Chakra balancing helps tune up the energy centres in your body which can be done in as little as seven minutes making this an excellent daily practice. Have a go and see how peaceful you feel afterwards!



Jaz McKenzie

Have Questions~Have Answers? Introduction to our 2014 Blogathon


For the third consecutive year ~IB~ is running its popular Blogathon, a 52 week series under one heading. In 2012 we focused on being positive and inspired with, ‘Live Life~Love Life,’  full of suggestions  to  help you live the life you wish for. Last year we visited the Bible and looked at mini quotes in no particular context with the aim of drawing encouragement for daily living.

This year in 2014, we are taking a broader approach and will be looking at some of the questions life throws at us.  It should prove an interesting exercise as I have no idea yet as to the contents! Generally speaking even light hearted questions will be designed to get you thinking and might occasionally be controversial- who knows!

The stripy picture we are using this year to introduce the weekly blog is taken from a real tease of a question:
‘What is black and white and red all over?’ We have opted for the sunburnt zebra however the original answer was a newspaper; reminding us to always keep an open mind. If we consider questions deeply very often we can come up with more than just one answer and possibly create an interesting debate.

We hope you will enjoy this new series and if you have interesting questions of a general, not personal nature please send to itsbraap@live.co.uk and we’ll take up the challenge of answering them!

Jaz McKenzie





Image-ine this~No Images!

Good Morning Braappers~ Apologies as blogger is currently failing to display images- how dull! We will continue with our posts and aim to add them once the service is restored. Please bear with us in the meantime ~ Thank you!


Jaz McKenzie

Saturday, 4 January 2014

R. Kelly - Happy People



Let's be a little upbeat and keep the focus on happiness and joy! Here's a song that does just that, a very popular choice so tune in and keep smiling!!


Jaz McKenzie

If you have recorded a cheerful or encouraging song send you photo and video link to itsbraap@live.co.uk for inclusion in this blog.

 
Happy New Year!  

The New Year strikes true to form
And what are you anticipating?
Joy, Fear, Excitement, Trepidation
Or Curiosity? 
Feeling curious about the unknown-
What hand will you play and when?
Will this year be similar to last?
Or is your world about to rock in unimaginable ways?
Might it flip for the better or worse?  

Do not fear for worse is a hiatus
Making way for the New.
For better bolder changes and challenges
A chance to play phoenix
Rising from the ashes
of the bowels of life-
Or with less drama taking the oars
To steer a gentle course
Towards your dreams. 

Another New Year
Time turning, a gift.
What more can we ask for?
After all, New is THE buzz word
And we are all entitled to a piece of it
A New Year and a New opportunity
Let’s give thanks and be joyful
Whilst blessings abound. 

Jaz McKenzie © 2014
 
If you would like to send a poem to be featured on ~IB~ contact itsbraap@live.co.uk

New Year Wishes to one and all!

HAPPY NEW YEAR !!!
 
 
 
Isn't it amazing to think that we are already on the fourth of January- two more days of Christmas decorations for those of you who are hanging on to the last moment!- Personally I had enough and have taken them down already; find they clutter the mind.
 
Every new year either brings change, as in there are events we cannot control, people who are no longer with us and it always brings opportunity for change. It is the one time when the 'world en mass' takes stock and there is a tremendous surge of positive energy as we set about our resolutions with enthusiasm. In order to make the most of our lives we need to create opportunities and it helps to apply/sustain a high level of commitment so that we reach our goals and change our lives for the best.
 
Stop and think about your life- you may wish to consider the following:
~ How much do you love and value yourself?
~ Who is important to you?
~ Is there anyone who has a negative or even toxic effect; if so is it best to work with that person or walk away?
~ How well do you handle personal relationships and what changes can you implement to create increased harmony?
~ Do you handle your finances or tend to ignore them? If you are experiencing hardship or debt do something to help yourself. There is plenty of advice and once you start to work on any tough situation things usually improve.
~ Are you happy in your job? Maybe you have talents you wish to extend in a new role or outside work.
~ Is your work/leisure balance good or do you need to make more time for yourself possibly developing new interests?
~What are your personal expectations?
~ How positive are your thoughts and words? This is key to everything!
 
Of course there are many things to consider and it is a good opportunity to make a vision board. Pin boards are excellent as you can cut out words and pictures, moving them around to help you keep focused on the things you really want in your life. Images can always be used as representations for instance I used a picture of the Croydon Clock Tower to help increase overall mental strength. Always make time for building your dreams and see yourself as having already achieved them. This helps to bring your improved lifestyle in quickly as the universe works with you. For those of you who are new to this, look into the law of attraction and actively study it.
We finished 2013 by emphasizing the need to help others which is extremely important however this does not mean we should allow people to take advantage of our good nature. Sort yourself out, decide what you want and where you will dedicate time to different areas of your life. Finally, do not give away your power instead stay in control and make things work for you.
 
Just a quick mention- Its Braap is keen to feature your work, events, talents and ideas so please contact us with requests.
 
Have a very happy, successful and blessed New Year.
 
Jaz McKenzie