Some. One.

Right now there are Tibetan Buddhist monks in a temple in the Himalayas endlessly reciting mantras for the cessation of your suffering and for the flourishing of your happiness.

Someone you haven’t met yet is already dreaming of adoring you.

Someone is writing a book that you will read in the next two years that will change how you look at life.

Nuns in the Alps are in endless vigil, praying for the Holy Spirit to alight the hearts of all of God’s children.

A farmer is looking at his organic crops and whispering, “nourish them.”

Someone wants to kiss you, to hold you, to make tea for you.

Someone is willing to lend you money, wants to know what your favorite food is, and treat you to a movie.
Someone in your orbit has something immensely valuable to give you — for free.

Something is being invented this year that will change how your generation lives, communicates, heals and passes on.

The next great song is being rehearsed.

Thousands of people are in yoga classes right now intentionally sending light out from their heart chakras and wrapping it around the earth.

Millions of children are assuming that everything is amazing and will always be that way.

Someone is in profound pain, and a few months from now, they’ll be thriving like never before. From where they are, they just can’t see it.

Someone who is craving to be partnered, to be acknowledged, to arrive, will get precisely what they want — and even more. And because that gift will be so fantastical in it’s reach and sweetness, it will quite magically alter their memory of angsty longing and render it all “So worth the wait.”

Someone has recently cracked open their joyous, genuine nature because they did the hard work of hauling years of oppression off of their psyche — this luminous juju is floating in the ether, and is accessible to you.

Someone, just this second wished for world peace, in earnest.

Some civil servant is making sure that you get your mail, and your garbage is picked up, that the trains are running on time, and that you are generally safe.

Someone is dedicating their days to protecting your civil liberties and clean drinking water.

Someone is regaining their sanity.
Someone is coming back from the dead.
Someone is genuinely forgiving the seemingly unforgivable.
Someone is curing the incurable.

You. Me. Some. One. Now.

-Danielle LaPorte via Mary Standing Otter

I thought I’d share Mary Standing Otter’s poem. It is so full of life, riddled with ubiquitous activities that turn delightfully meaningful as one realises this is life itself unfolding, through our connection with one another.

The baby box

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

Bells chimed in the hallway. Doris waited a few seconds to give the bell-ringer time to leave. Or change their mind. Then she went downstairs, taking care with each step not to make a noise.

Doris heard the soft rustling of wool against cardboard. That alone told her she’d find a note with the baby that was gently waving limbs about, upsetting the carefully wrapped blankets. A mother’s last act of love in her desperation: “Please take care of my baby. His name is Edwin.”

It was seldom longer than that. A wet spot stained the note – tearful kiss.

99 words

Written for Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. The challenge is to write a story in 100 words or less. Click the frog to submit your flash fiction and join the Fictioneers!

So where do you see yourself in thirty years time?

PHOTO PROMPT © Marie Gail Stratford

He noticed the man randomly opening books and scribbling inside them.

He detached from his nook behind the cash register and made a beeline for the aged vandal. Well, as much of a beeline as one could make weaving in between book aisles. “Hey you! Stop that at once! Or… I’ll call the police!” Would the police actually come, he wondered.

The man flashed a mischievous smile and darted out of the store. Someone said, “Was that Ben Khalid, the famous author?” Plucking a book from the shelf, he opened it to reveal the unmistakable autograph of the eccentric author.

100 words

This is like a flash fiction version of a meme.

Written for Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Write a story in 100 words or less, and click the frog to submit your flash fiction. Join our group of tea-drinking (coffee for me please) cat-loving group of writers!

Click to submit!

Out of ink

PHOTO PROMPT @ Jan Wayne Fields

It was pinched between a bank statement and a courier bill. Amy didn’t know why she noticed the envelope. She had been looking for a pen. Except she did notice it. When she shouldn’t have. Shouldn’t even be reaching for it and reading the sender’s address as she was now – attorneys. She googled them. Specialising in divorce. The walls of her dad’s office spun around her, making her feel woozy like the time she first smoked weed. Except that was way better. She tore it up and threw it in the bin. Hoping, that was the end of that.

99 words

Written for Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Write a story in 100 words or less. Click the frog to submit your flash fiction and connect with other writers there too!

CLICK ME!

Meet-cute

PHOTO PROMPT © Trish Nankivell

“I’m pretty sure it is missing some words.” Jaleel scratched his head.

“Kind of a funny place to put a sign.” Jabu kicked at the grainy dirt at his bare feet. “You think Big Jack put it there?” He asked Jaleel. They eyed the shack at the edge of the bare patch of land where they had spent hours catching lizards and playing cricket. Until Big Jack moved in.

A skinny, weather-beaten man leaped out from his new dwelling and the children scattered as he yelled after them, “Get outta here! Can’t you read the sign? Be Gone!”

98 words

Written for Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Write a story in 100 words or less. Click the frog to submit your flash fiction and read what other’s have written too!

I pictured this being the meet-cute between two young boys and a homeless man with whom they form a friendship later in their story.

PS I arrived late to the party and have joined Instagram! If you’re on it too, then find me @fatimafakierwrites and let’s connect and troll each other 😉

***Last FF for the year!***

The rose garden

PHOTO PROMPT © Sarah Potter

They were in full bloom now. Red. Pink. White. Yellow roses had been Anna-May’s favourite. A bouquet of fresh buttery roses always cheered her up. Especially after they argued. Shame flushed through him as he remembered. Raised fists. Hurt and anger. Sobering shame. She always forgave him. Until that day her skull cracked. He had wiped the kitchen wall clean of her blood and his tears and got the shovel from her garden shed. He glanced at the ground beneath the rose bushes. Now Anna-May would always have her yellow roses near her. And she would always be his.

99 words

Written for Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. The Challenge is to write a story in 100 words or less. Submit your flash fiction to the frog link below and read what other’s have written too. Thanks to Sarah Potter for her photo prompt contribution.

What if growing your small business didn’t have to be a guessing game?

It was supposed to be fun in that financially-independent way. Only now, your small business has burned a hole in your pockets, credit cards and your self-esteem.

You feel far from independent.

In fact, you feel totally at the mercy of your next customer. Spinning your wheels on the latest marketing advice that you read online with no results to show for it.

Even when you have a sales spike, your customer retention rate is low. You’re just not able to keep the momentum going.

If you’re like most fledgling entrepreneurs, the issue may likely be that you lack clear direction. But that is what strategy is for.

There is a better way. Of course there is.

What if you knew exactly which opportunities to take advantage of to scale your business, or what advertising medium will work for you? Imagine if you knew exactly what new product or service to offer to your customers?

As a business owner you may have come across brand strategy but maybe was unsure of how to use it in your business. Or even if it was worth it.

We usually associate brand strategy with multinational corporations who sell their products and services by the millions. Yet it is applicable to small businesses too. Think of it as getting to the core of your enterprise from which the rest of your business emanates. Like a starburst or inclining spiral.

Influencing customer perceptions

If branding is about influencing customers’ perception of your business, tapping into the psychology of the consumer to form authentic relationships with them, then brand strategy is about designing it from the inside out.

Once you have defined your brand, it lends clarity to marketing and operational decisions. You’ll know where and how to reach your customers, what to offer them and how to get them coming back for more.

Steps to creating an effective brand strategy for small businesses:

  1. Define your brand identity by answering these questions:
    • Who are we?
    • What we hope to achieve – the impact our business will make on the lives of our consumer. It doesn’t have to be world-changing. It just needs to make a difference to the consumer, no matter how small.
    • What are our values? These are not traditional values like honesty, integrity etc. Think of what is important to you as the owner and why you started your business. Is it Freedom? Helping others? Improving customer service? It will be unique to you and your business.
  2. Who is your typical customer?
    • Imagine the type of person your business serves best. Write down everything from their age, likes, dislikes, job, family life and what problems they have. Bonus points for defining problems they have that your business solves for them.
  3. Define your brand position.
    • This is the perspective your customers will have of your brand. This is your chance to directly influence it.
    • The easiest way to do this is to write down all the things you want your customers to think of when they think of your brand. If you’re the proud owner of a restaurant, when customers think of your restaurant do you want them to think of fine-dining or family friendly? Affordable or atmospheric? There are no wrong answers here. It is all up to you. Make sure you dig deep.
  4. Put it all together in a strategy framework.
    • Write a paragraph for each of the following:
      • Your typical customer
      • What the main problems are that you can solve for them?
      • What does your competitors offer that doesn’t meet customer expectations?
      • How is your business different from the competition?
      • How will your typical customer feel once your business has solved their problem? This is not the actual product or service features. This will be the emotional benefit the customer will have once they have purchased from you.

This is a good starting point for small business owners in any industry, from authors to zookeepers, to think about brand strategy. Once you know your typical customer, you know where to find them and how best to market to them and serve their needs. And more importantly, you’ll know how to create an authentic relationship with them for the long term in a way that builds trust and that elusive customer-loyalty.

Post sponsored by Intelligrowth Consulting – my consulting business – I help purpose-driven entrepreneurs achieve strategic growth.

Book review: The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult

I was always afraid to read Jodi Picoult’s books. Thanks to an Oprah’s Book Club review and interview with Picoult of My Sister’s Keeper, giving me the impression that I would never emotionally recover from her stories. I mean, if Oprah was scarred or had some deep wound brutally ripped open, I didn’t think I’d stand a chance.

Fast forward to social distancing and quarantine days and TBR lists pile up like we’re in a pandemic or something.

The Book of Two Ways was not in any way a book of trauma as it was food for thought in that most delicious, lingering way after you clicked to the last page on your kindle.

The story

Dawn is a death doula, someone who helps people transition through death. It is a thing apparently, though as one can imagine it doesn’t pay grandly. She is supported by her science professor husband whom she met at a hospice by a twist of fate, when both her mother and his grandmother were on their deathbeds.

Dawn had been a budding Egyptologist before she met Brian and had a daughter, Meret, with him. She had also been in love with someone else, someone she sees flashing before her eyes when she thinks she is about to die in a plane crash.

An urge to return to a turning point in her life overwhelms her as questions nag and haunt her. What if I had made different choices? What person would I have been? Had I made a mistake?

Themes, characters and drawbacks

Questions like these will prompt readers into a one-click ebook purchase. Especially since we’re spending more time online these days.

This kicks off the story as we follow her in two different timelines or parallel universes. As a child I dreamed of being an archaeologist, imagining myself at the tombs of Egypt or somewhere else equally mesmerising and steeped in history. Consider this a fair warning: the novel doesn’t hold back on academic information and there were moments I skipped ahead the textbook details to get to the story-line. It just felt like too much information to dig through.

Besides Egyptology the story is rooted in themes of Quantum Physics, parallel universes, and the afterlife, playing scientific concepts against art and spirituality like an ideological ping pong match. Perhaps in some parallel universe another me is happily spending days under the Egyptian sun uncovering hidden artefacts.

Beneath all of these, is a unifying theme of love. Is it a choice or a feeling?

Plot and prose

Picoult spins prose so beautiful I regret not picking up her books earlier. Her words are raw and cut to nerve and bone. Like philosophical non-poetry, you repeat certain phrases now and then to feel it and let its wisdom and beauty sink into you.

I quote Brian’s character, “…Say you’re a passenger on a plane whose engines fail and you’re about to crash and die, should you take solace in the fact that there are other versions of you out there somewhere, that will live on? Or the inverse: should you feel worse knowing that there’s a version of you whose life is a disaster – a you that flunked out of school or became a criminal or got bitterly dumped and divorced…”

Why have I not ever considered that in another universe I didn’t turn out to be a homeless, rum-addicted pirate holed up in a cave on some God-knows-where deserted island? What makes us choose to mourn the lost opportunities and not rejoice in the disasters we possibly avoided?

When she writes about the mysteries of life that we never seem to have the answers to, she evokes a sense of wonder at how big, bright and brilliant the universe really is.

Dawn can easily be seen as a saint because of her dedication to her clients, though she’ll be first to admit that she isn’t. She does things that I don’t like, but on the whole she is just doing her best with the curve balls pitched her way, in a world without answers.

The plot leans by the tiniest degree towards literary style. It’s not fast-cars-space-monkeys-alien-murders action. It isn’t quite women’s fiction either. The entire story gave me the impression of abstract art, a painting of human life and love. Just like the story one of Dawn’s clients, Win related to her of performing artists Ulay and Abramovic whose works are entrenched in the idea of life reflecting art and art reflecting life, Picoult cunningly does the same.

Why you should read it

The Book of Two Ways will stir deep questions you knew you always had but were too afraid to acknowledge. And like all good art, it invites you in as a participant to find your own answers to those mysteries of Life.

Mad tales

PHOTO PROMPT © CEAyr

He glimpsed the man emerging from the alley. That insufferable man. The last time he endured his company he was assaulted with tales of time travel. Utter nonsense. His stash of cocaine had mysteriously disappeared too. Intolerable!


It was too late to get away, the man was upon him.

“Well, would you look at this? Sherlock Holmes! Is that you?! Boy, am I glad to see you.” said the approaching man.


“Emmet.” Holmes nodded curtly. “Back from 1985, I presume.”


“Not quite. Try 2020. I’ll tell you all about it over a finger of whisky. What do you say?”

99 words

Written for Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Write a story in 100 words or less. Click the frog to JOIN and submit your flash fiction and read what others have written.

I am so glad to be back and writing flash fiction after such a long while. Thanks to C E Ayr for this wonderful photo. I swear I saw this exact same side street in London years ago, but then again there must be hundreds of them.

Can you believe I only watched Back to The Future this year for the first time? I love movies, but somehow couldn’t get into this story. Until lockdowns became a thing and we all started trying new activities / hobbies.

Hope you enjoyed this encounter of two unique characters. I would love to listen in on this conversation, wouldn’t you?

Doc (Dr Emmett Brown) from Back to the Future. (Image from Universal)

The Two Types of Motivational Pressure

Most people can set goals. Sometimes we go on to achieve them. Then there are times when we struggle with motivation and persevering through the obstacles that inevitably pop up.

When that happens we tend to blame ourselves and we either push through or fall through. If you manage to push through and keep the momentum going then, good for you!

But if you fall through with your plans to achieve a particular goal, the emotional aftermath can trigger a downward spiral. The shame and guilt knocks your confidence and the next time you pursue a goal it will take even more willpower and blind faith in yourself. And you’re not even sure you still have those.

If this happens once or twice, I’d say to just plough on through that resistance. If falling through with your goals tends to be a consistent result, then it may be time to pull back and get back to the drawing board. (Or vision board.)

Achieving goals is meant to be challenging.

It’s part of the growth process of shaping you and your reality. However, if you have less and less motivation surrounding a particular goal causing you to release the pressure on the gas pedal, maybe it isn’t entirely your fault. It may not be that you didn’t try hard enough or that you didn’t rise up to the challenge.

It all begins with our why.

Why set goals in the first place? Probably because we want to achieve something. But what if we were motivated by something other than what is true to us? What if the goals we set for ourselves were borne out of a need to fit in, or please others, or be accepted, or a desire to be loved? What if these goals didn’t originate from an authentic place within us?

Think of motivation as a natural consequence of either external pressure (like stress resulting from financial troubles that prompt you to work two jobs or launch a business) or internal expansion.

Internal expansion is what happens when you feel inspired, curious, creative, energetic.

It’s energy rising within you and then expanding outwards exerting pressure on everything else, prompting you to take action. It makes you want to do that little bit more. Dig deeper than before.

It isn’t as extreme as fleeting inspiration, that rush of adrenaline at the beginning of something new. Motivation arising from internally expanding energy is more balanced, never aiming to build Rome in one day.

Have you ever attempted something just out of interest and not out of pure ambition? You were not invested in a defined outcome but you were just ready to try something different? Maybe it was a cooking class, a gardening course or starting to workout at the gym.

You followed the program and got great results! Or maybe it didn’t go as expected. It didn’t discourage you though, because something kept you going back to do more. You wanted to try again. Improve just that tiny bit. Then you know what this internally expanding motivation feels like.

Needless to say, of the two types of motivational pressure I’d much prefer to go with the second. It puts me in charge of the direction I’m going. As much as possible, I’m going to want to harness this kind of motivation.

Internal expansion only comes from being true to yourself.

There’s no other way. We can fake being curious about something that bores us to be polite, but it won’t carry us for the long term. We can experiment with creativity, but we cannot keep the creative juices flowing long enough for something that doesn’t stimulate us.

Even when it gets tough and we’re ploughing through those challenges, what gets us through it, is reconnecting with why we’re doing it in the first place.

So if your goals are forever on the horizon and you lack the drive to persevere through the challenges, then make some coffee and re-examine your goals. Ask yourself if it is something you truly want for yourself.

A good acid test

If nobody ever knew of your achievement, and you never earned a dime for it (money problems aside) would you still feel driven to figure out the challenges as they come? And would the achievement still be worthwhile to you?