Friday, April 24, 2009

Atlanta Convenience Group cleared - Ismailis in the News

Zee's Notes: Interesting article in a Convenience Store Trade Magazine - seems a group of 900 Ismaili c-store owners in Atlanta (wow that's a lot in one city) formed a trade group to negotiate with large suppliers and were sued for discrimination for not allowing non-Ismailis to join.

Discrimination Charges Dismissed against Muslim Convenience Store Group ATLANTA

Ismailis in the News - Meghji's expand Alberta hotel empire

Rahim Meghji along with Amin Meghji with Platinum Investments outside of their Hilton Garden Inn hotel at 17610 Stony Plain Road
Photograph by: Walter Tychnowicz, Edmonton Journal


Family brings Platinum luxury to city
Two new hotels planned by 2011
The Edmonton JournalApril 22, 2009

Amin Meghji's family owned a soap, glycerine and oil manufacturing empire in Kenya and Tanzania, and he lived a life of luxury in Nairobi with five servants.
Then nationalization of large companies, first in Tanzania and later Kenya, forced him to flee to Canada in 1976.
"We were really spoiled in Africa. If we wanted anything done we just ordered the staff to do it. Then we came to Edmonton and I had to do my own laundry," Amin says with a laugh.
He can afford to chuckle these days. Platinum Investments, the family company he runs with nephews Ali and Rahim, owns two of the city's top-rated hotels and is building another two in the next two years despite the slow economy.
The five-year-old Hilton Garden Inn and the more recent Hampton Inn and Suites -- both in the west end -- are rated the top two city hotels by travellers on the Trip Advisor website.
And they hope the Marriott Courtyard, under construction at 184th Street and 100th Avenue, and the nearby Marriott Residence Inn, due in 2011, will be just as successful.
It hasn't been easy. They were able to take advantage of the late-'70s boom by buying the 10-unit Parkland Motel on the west edge of the city, and expanding it to 40 rooms, while Amin's wife, Shahbegum, developed her Mill Woods medical practice.
They lost their downtown highrise apartment building to the bank during the '80s recession, but survived to run the Coliseum Inn next to Rexall Place for a number of years.
"We're proud we were able to get Hilton back into Edmonton," says Ali. "It wasn't easy because they had failed before (with the current Sutton Place), and weren't getting a lot of franchisee applications. But we brought them up here and they liked what we were doing."
Hampton Inns and Marriott also were impressed with the collegial approach taken by the Meghjis, an Ismaili Muslim family of Indian descent, to the hospitality industry.
"We believe in prayer and what has happened to us in Edmonton has been a miracle," Amin says.
"You can change stones into gold if you believe, but it has to benefit everyone else as well as you."
The only regret is that Amin's older brother, Alaudin -- the visionary of the family -- is not around to see the latest success.
He died two weeks after the Hilton opened in 2004.

His Highness the Aga Khan in Washington, DC - April 23, 2009

His Highness the Aga Khan meeting with The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton, United States Secretary of State, at the State Department.
Photo credit: AKDN / Zahur Ramji



Washington, DC, 23 April 2009 - His Highness the Aga Khan delivered a keynote speech at the 8th annual Global Philanthropy Forum. The Aga Khan also met with The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton, United States Secretary of State, at the State Department prior to delivering the address to participants at the Global Philanthropy Forum

http://www.akdn.org/photos_global_philanthropy_forum.asp

Zee's Notes: You must read the speech MHI delivered at the Forum yesterday. He is so articulate and makes key points in the challenges of fighting poverty in areas of the world where it seems there may be no hope. More important his views are from a first hand perspective and I am encouraged that the audience and location may well be one that can move the Global Poverty agenda at a faster pace - allbeit in an enviroment where everyone is watching their money. The advantage of the AKDN is that it has probably the lowest administrative cost as an NGO meaning most of it's money gets spent effectively.

The second reason you must read this is that MHI, at the beginning of his speech, is very funny. Is it me or does everyone notice that lately MHI inserts jokes in all his speeches and firmans. Here is the link for the speech on thed AKDN site:

http://www.akdn.org/speech/736/Global-Philanthropy-Forum-Washington-DC

Video of MHI's speech at the Forum:

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Ismailis in the News - Eboo Patel named to Obama Inter Faith Council

Zee's Notes: If you haven't heard of Eboo Patel, an Oxford University PHD, here is a look at this remarkable young American Ismaili who through his passion for articulating his faith has managed to be appointed on President Obama's Inter Faith Council in Feb. 2009. If you have children you must pass this on to them for inspiration.




His background :

EBOO PATEL, Founder and Executive Director

Eboo Patel is the founder and Executive Director of the Interfaith Youth Core, a Chicago-based international nonprofit working to build mutual respect and pluralism among religiously diverse young people by empowering them to work together to serve others. He is the author of Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation. Eboo holds a doctorate in the sociology of religion from Oxford University, where he studied on a Rhodes scholarship. He writes "The Faith Divide", a featured blog on religion for The Washington Post and has also written for the Harvard Divinity School Bulletin, the Chicago Tribune, The Clinton Journal, The Review of Faith and International Affairs, The Journal of College and Character and National Public Radio. Eboo serves on the Religious Advisory Committee of the Council on Foreign Relations, the National Committee of the Aga Khan Foundation USA, the Advisory Board of Duke University's Islamic Studies Center, and the National Board of the YMCA.. He has spoken at the TED Conference, the Clinton Global Initiative, the Nobel Peace Prize Forum and at universities around the world. Eboo is an Ashoka Fellow, part of a select group of social entrepreneurs whose ideas are changing the world; was named by Islamica Magazine as one of ten young Muslim visionaries shaping Islam in America; was chosen by Harvard's Kennedy School Review as one of five future policy leaders to watch; and was given an honorary doctorate from Washington and Jefferson College..

He wrote this gem of an editorial in the Washington Post a couple of years ago:

Eboo Patel
Aga Khan a Man of Vision, Inspiration
How do you explain your faith to people who do not share your truth claims and who find your sacred practices foreign?

As a minority within a minority within a minority in the West – a Muslim, a Shia, an Ismaili – I have long struggled with that question.

When I was a child and I had to explain why I was fasting from food and drink on a certain day, or why I wore an Arabic symbol for God on a chain around my neck, I would put my head down and mutter: "My mom makes me do it."

In a world where people from different faith backgrounds are in constant contact with one another, and there are forces who actively seek to sow division between diverse people, we need better ways to build understanding. We need what I call a 'public language' of faith, a language which highlights the history of our traditions, and the good works they are doing for the broader world.

Every tradition has a history, and while yours might be different from mine, I expect that you will have more understanding for who I am and how I practice faith if I tell you a little about where I come from. And every tradition has a core which seeks to serve others. And if I tell you about how the people, institutions and leader of my faith are helping people live more peaceful and prosperous lives, I think that you will have deeper respect – perhaps even admiration – for my tradition.

Today, on one of the holiest days of my life, I want to use this public language of faith, in the hopes that it will provide a window of understanding into my tradition and community.

Today, I celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Imamat of my spiritual leader, the Aga Khan.

I am an Ismaili Muslim, one of 15 million members of a Shia Muslim community spread across 25 countries. Ismailis, like all Muslims, affirm the Shahada – that there is no god but God and Muhammad is God's messenger. Like all Shia, we believe that the Prophet Muhammad appointed his cousin and son-in-law Ali to lead the Muslim community after his death. Ali was known as the first Imam (this is not to be confused with the small 'i' imam, as in the person who leads Muslim congregational prayers), a designation that carried with it the unique ability to interpret the meaning and application of the Holy Qur'an in changing times. The Imam, according to Shia tradition, chooses his successor from within the Ahl al-Bayt, or the family of the Prophet. Over the course of history, disputes arose over the appointment of certain Imams, and the Shia split into multiple communities.

Today, the Ismailis are the only Shia community with a living and present Imam. The current Aga Khan is the 49th in the line of Imams recognized by Ismailis. Previous Imams have played a significant role within the Muslim ummah and the wider world. Ali was not only the first Shia Imam, he was also the fourth Caliph of the entire Muslim community. Ismaili Imams laid the foundation for the modern city of Cairo in the 10th century, and built there one of the world's most ancient universities, Al Azhar. This Imam's immediate predecessor, Sultan Muhammad Shah, served as the President of the League of Nations and was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

As an Ismaili, I look to the Aga Khan for religious guidance. But one does not need to have a spiritual allegiance to the Aga Khan to admire the work of his institutions. As the Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) - an innovative and highly effective association of health, education, cultural and economic development institutions - he has helped literally millions of people in forgotten parts of the developing world live more peaceful, prosperous and dignified lives.

Consider these concrete examples:

-There are 300 Aga Khan schools in the world, educating 62,000 students and employing nearly 5000 staff.

- There are over 200 Aga Khan health centers in the world, caring for nearly two million and employing nearly 10,000 staff.

- The AKDN is currently building the University of Central Asia, whose purpose is to foster the human and social capital for democracy, pluralism and prosperity in a region that gets far too little attention.

- When a tragic earthquake struck Kashmir in 2005, AKDN helicopters were amongst the first to arrive on the scene.

Two particularly distinctive aspects of the AKDN is its understanding that culture – architecture, poetry, music, calligraphy – is a crucial part of human existence, and its commitment to nurturing effective private enterprise in developing countries. On the culture front, the AKDN built Al Azhar park in Cairo and restored Humayan's Tomb in India. It has supported everything from indigenous music in Tajikistan to Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Project. Regarding effective private enterprise, Roshan, a mobile phone company that the AKDN owns a 51% share in, is the single largest private employer in Afghanistan.

A substantial amount of this work is funded by the private resources of the Aga Khan and the Ismaili community. (I serve on the National Committee of the Aga Khan Foundation in the USA, which raises money and awareness for AKDN programs around the world, especially through the Partnership Walk). But all of it – the hospitals and schools, the private companies and university courses – is non-sectarian. In fact, these programs are specifically designed to nurture pluralism. As the Aga Khan once said, "Tolerance, openness and understanding toward other peoples' cultures, social structures, values and faiths are now essential to the very survival of an interdependent world. Pluralism is no longer simply an asset or a prerequisite for progress and development, it is vital to our existence."

There is a guiding philosophy, an animating ethos, behind the AKDN – Islam. Over and over again, the Aga Khan has emphasized that his work for mercy, compassion and dignity emerge directly from his commitment to Islam.

So while many people call the Aga Khan a leading philanthropist, I believe that term captures neither his inspiration nor his vision.

He is the Imam of the Ismaili community. He is a Muslim.

"On Faith" panelist Eboo Patel is the Executive Director of the Interfaith Youth Core and the author of "Acts of Faith."

Posted by Eboo Patel on July 11, 2007 9:23 AM

Kampala - 35 years later for Ugandan Ismailis

Zee's Notes: In October 1972 over 10,000 Ismailis left Uganda and migrated to Canada. Here's the funny thing even though things changed in Uganda, once Idi Amin was driven away to exile in Saudi Arabia, most have never gone back. So here is a little nostalgia.

If you get a chance send this page to someone you know who may remember some of the landmarks in the video or send them this link:

http://morningchai.blogspot.com/2009/04/kampala-35-years-later-for-ugandan.html

Here's a photo journal from someone who visited Kampala recently and you might remember the JK and the Primary School - amazing...

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ajk36/sets/72157614595999787/show/

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Ismailis in the News - Salima Ebrahim named on Calgary Herald People to Watch List

Each year on Jan. 1, the Calgary Herald reveals its list of Compelling Calgarians -- people to watch and people who will help make our community great in the year to come. Here are some of their thoughts.

Salima Ebrahim: Issue Strategist, Community And Protective Services, City Of Calgary - "My passion is really just breaking down the barriers between people in general. The one thing I've learned from living in different parts of the world is that at the end of the day, people just want to be treated with the same level of dignity as anyone.''
Photograph by: Christina Ryan, Calgary Herald

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ismaili Authors - Meet Ameer Janmohamed


Zee's Notes: I know this book came out last year but I just finished reading it and for those who want to connect with some history or want to know about our community in Kenya 2 generations ago this is a must must read - I absolutely loved it. If you want to buy a copy email me and i'll connect you with someone in Toronto who may a few copies left.


Article from Coastweek in Mombasa

A Regal Romance byAmeer Janmohamed

'This book is a gold mine for those who were born and brought up in Mombasa'

Coastweek - - FORMER Mombasa resident, Ameer Janmohamed has written a book about his life and events revolving around it, writes ANJUM ASODIA.
Aptly titled, "A Regal Romance and Other Memories", this book is a fascinating journey of a well-known and respected individual, who spent a major part of his life in Mombasa, finally settling in London in 1972.
Ameer, or ‘Bhurio’ as he was affectionately known as, begins his book tracing back his family tree as far back as possible, noting actual events that occurred and were recorded in family letters to the late 1800s.
From his forefathers, grandfather, and father and down to his own birth, every event is documented with times and excerpts from diaries and letters.
The story then picks up speed through to the family business, family affairs, deaths in the family and how it affected his immediately family and, of course Ameer himself. His youth, adulthood and final retirement is chronicled in detail.
But this is not just a story about the man himself.
Even as he speaks (this book seems to come from the heart), Ameer gives the reader an insight into society of that time, why things happened the way they did and other people’s influence on him and the events that took place.
You can feel the awe and bond that he had with his parents, grandparents and forefathers as he carefully tracks down his lineage.
The writer has kept his language simple and clear, making you feel that you are watching a black and white film as you go through the pages.
Each character that he talks about vividly takes shape in your mind, the numerous photographs in the book aiding this.
The book ends with a glossary of Gujerati words that will be useful to non-Gujerati readers and an in-depth chronology dating back to 3000BC to date.
This book is a gold mine for those who were born and brought up in Mombasa from the 1930s to the seventies, as they will definitely remember many events and people from that time.
For those, like me, who have an interest in history and past events, this book will open a chapter in Mombasa life in that era that will not only be interesting but educational too.
Ameer Janmohamed came from a very well-to-do family and thus was involved more with people in that class of society.
Thus there is little mention of those that did not reach that level, which is the only drawback in the book.
However, had he written about every little detail in his life, this would be a much thicker version and would, perhaps lose the reader’s interest span which the current book has.

World Partnership Walk - Ismailis making a difference

A-Channel reporter Meribeth Burton embarked on a journey to East Africa to see how the funds raised in Canada through the World Partnership Walk are benefiting impoverished communities.



If you want to see all 7 videos as part of the series :

http://www.youtube.com/user/WorldPartnershipWalk



Zee's Notes: As the WPW celebrates it's 25th anniversary it's also time to reflect on our 30 plus years in Canada.

It's now been over 30 years since that fateful day in October, 1972 when then President for Life Idi Amin Dada dreamt of a homogeneous Uganda. That dream led to the greatest upheavel of Asians from a country they had called home only to be forced to leave with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. Thirty years later, ex-Ugandan Ismailis are looked upon by Western countries as remarkable examples of fortitude and as hard working citizens who are solid contributors to their new homelands. I have first hand knowledge of this as my family, though from Tanzania, arrived in Vancouver, Canada on September 1972 just a month before the Ugandans started their journey. That period was special in that families pulled together to survive and make a new life in a strange country - imagine jumping into a land where there was so much opportunity.

Working menial jobs - the most popular at that time was the local parking lots run by Imperial Parking (see history here) - a company that took a chance on the new immigrants and at one time probably had literally hundreds of Ismailis employed in their various city lots. A side story is a gentleman who hired many of the Ismailis - Paul Clough started with the company in 1968 worked his way up to eventually becoming President and CEO. Today Imperial Parking, started with one lot by Arne Olsen, is Canada's largest and North America's fourth largest parking lot operator.

The same story probably applies in other Canadian cities as well in the UK. The Ismaili immigrants were the beneficiares of the efforts of MHI who through his friendship with then Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau was able to secure a new life for the displaced Ugandan Ismailis. In the context of modern Ismaili History there will no greater inflection point for our community than this event or period albeit it may compare to the migration of the Ismailis into the US from the Indian Sub Continent. Every day I think of my parents I see 30 years of sacrifice and hard work and the singular goal of making it a better quality of life for their children.

I dwell on the above for the simple reason that there lies an incredible opportunity for those of us who live in the Western World to make a difference in the lives of millions in other parts of the world in uplifting their quality of life. I mentioned in my blog yesterday that during tough times Allah taps us on one shoulder to find ourself to see whether we use the unique skills each one of us have in order to make a difference - the reason we are all here. I have to mention as well Allah has his other hand on our other shoulder and successful people tell me he never takes that hand away.

So the message today is that even though times are tough and will be tough for a few more years do not, do not miss this opportunity which may only come once in a lifetime. This opportunity is to make a difference in the lives of people you may have not met or may never meet and whether you contribute your time or your means remember one thing and one thing only - what if Idi Amin had allowed the Asians to stay and then decided to take out his wrath while they carried on with their lives in Uganda - we would have never had this chance of a lifetime to give what is so precious at this time - aaaahhh Allah brings his gifts in many different ways !!!

Monday, April 20, 2009

You're being tapped...are you ready ?

Zee's Notes: The Susan Boyles story received the most response out of any of the blogs in the past 3 years. Seemed a nerve was touched and that nerve was that the Morning Chai family really felt happy for her in that she achieved success against all odds - the biggest one being herself.

I don't know but maybe it has to do with the current economic climate that's threatening all of us. What I'm reading and hearing out there is that people are scared like they've never been scared in their lifetime - not only for themselves but also for their children. I'll leave the gory details out but if you read this you already know what's going on - nanima has sung (no my nanima was not a fat lady !) and now all the excesses of the past decade have come home to roost and we will have to get back to the fundamentals of living within our means - hey haven't we heard this for 50 years - so kudos to those who have been living this guidance. Anyhow we are neither there nor here and going forward people will need to alter their way of thinking and face this challenge with great courage and faith.

My thoughts on this are that we as humans only get tapped by the divine in times of turmoil - for some reason I seriously believe that. When things are good for us I think Allah, in his infinite wisdom, pretty well leaves us alone to have our party as long as we can do so in moderation. But we all get carried away and why buy a house we can comfortably afford when we can get a 40 year low interest mortgage with a balloon payment and really go for the million dollar 4 bedroom with all the bells and whistles. Works for some - we do know that only 5% of the people can live like that - don't we ?

Anyhow back to my line - tough times are an unbelievable opportunity for us to re-connect our relationship with our soul and along with that jump back on the rope that we call the light of Allah. A rich happy gentlemen once told me the greatest lessons he learnt in his life was during the times when he had nothing and the only thing that kept him going was his faith in that Light and the belief that there was something guiding him every single day - true story !!!

The time is now for us to strenghten that faith and come through these tough times stronger than ever - the ball is clearly in our court - yes you can have it all but are you prepared to lob some top spin crosscourts into the challenge of your life ? I think so and you have some unique qualities that will get you there...inshallah I hope to cover more of this in the days and months ahead and hopefully share with you some strategies that are working for the 5%...though I guarantee you know most of what you will hear from me...

I found this gem from Google Videos and needs no commentary.

video

Sunday, April 19, 2009

University of Alberta to Honour Aga Khan

His Highness the Aga Khan is among 12 people to be honoured by the University of Alberta for their enduring contributions to society. The Aga Khan will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree on June 9 during convocation ceremonies.

Read PR here...

http://www.prweb.com/releases/2009/04/prweb2333074.htm

Meet Farah Nasser...Ismailis in the Media





Farah Nasser
OCCUPATION:

Reporter, "CityNews"

SHOW DESCRIPTION: "CityNews" is Toronto News. All Day, Every Day, the City is our Newsroom. Intensely-local and urban-oriented, we focus on the 'Day in the Life' realities of people's lives with a visual realism that speaks directly to those that call Toronto home. "CityNews" is seen daily at Noon, Five, Six and 11:00pm on Citytv. "CityNews" ... What Toronto is Talking About Today.

BACKGROUND:

Farah Nasser caught the journalism bug early in life. Beginning in elementary school, Farah would bring in daily newspaper clippings for 'show and tell,' updating her classmates on the latest events and happenings in the world. It wasn't until highschool that Farah got to really report for local cable television station, Rogers Television in Mississauga.

In university, Farah made the jump to radio; first as a producer, then as a reporter and anchor for 1010 CFRB in Toronto. Upon graduation, Farah took the job of television reporter at Toronto 1, before making the move to A-Channel Barrie/Toronto in 2004.
Farah joined the "CityNews" news team in August of 2006, as General Assignment Reporter, where she continues to cover the latest in what's happening in and around Toronto.

Farah's previous work experience includes a summer internship at CNN International in New Delhi, India. An experience of a lifetime, Farah got to meet with South Asian politicians, a Bollywood producer and even interviewed Mahatma Ghandi's great grandson during her internship.

EDUCATION:

Ryerson University, Radio and Television Arts.
University of Westminster (London, England), European Media Studies.

FAVES:

When she's not chasing the news, Farah enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, rollerblading and attempting to cook Indian food like her mom (she hasn't quite mastered that one yet!)

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT:
Farah devotes a lot of time doing volunteer work. She is involved in the AgaKhan Foundation, a charity that provides sustainable solutions for the underprivileged in Asia and Africa. "I truly believe every Canadian should travel to a third world country at least once in their lifetime," says Farah. "After seeing children who most likely will never get an education, women being treated like second class citizens and seniors who don't have any form of healthcare at all, I just couldn't sit still."

Learning... By Heart - Ismaili Muslim volunteers

A great video of the work by Ismaili Volunteers in Edmonton to help resettle refugees from Afghanistan...

Meet Riaz Meghji...Ismailis in the Media



Check out some of his work..




Here is the bio on Riaz from Rogers TV...

About the Host


A born risk taker, Riaz Meghji was well on his way to a white picket MBA future when his love for entertaining took over. With perfect comedic timing and a natural talent in front of the camera, he took a chance and did a 180° turn. It paid off.

After a gig as a Roving Reporter in radio promotions for Z953FM, his talent and determination were noticed as he joined the powerhouse team at MTV Canada in Vancouver. With an undeniable desire to succeed, Riaz soon became Host/Producer for their flagship show “969”, earning a 2005 Leo Award Nomination for Best Host. Writing comedic editorial segments, along with honing his craft as a show host, MTV rewarded Riaz’s efforts with a majority of the A-List interviews that passed through Hollywood North.

Still wanting to learn more about television production in a live environment, he fought for the position of Weathercaster on a competing station, becoming one of the youngest on-air personalities to contribute to the CTV News team. By day, Riaz was up to his usual playful antics, engaging celebrities ranging from Miss Piggy to Matthew McConaughey, while still facilitating thought provoking discussion about the future of movies and music with the likes of Kevin Smith and Pink, respectively. By night, he was dictating low pressure systems in a suit and tie in the newsroom, taking in all he could about the industry.

Recruited by Toronto’s SUN TV in 2005, Riaz moved across the country to write for and eventually anchor entertainment for the show ‘Inside Jam’ and the live news program ‘Canoe Live’. In late 2006, he provided his hosting services to Bell ExpressVu’s ‘Festival Access’, having the illustrious task of covering the biggest Red Carpet and parties at the Toronto International Film Festival. Within a year, he had created opportunities allowing him to cover the MuchMusic Video Awards, Gemini Awards and once again, work his charm on stars such as Shania Twain and Pamela Anderson.

In between gigs, Riaz has still found time to travel, having lived in Puerto Rico and visited Australia, Eastern and Western Europe, Peru, Pakistan and the Middle East. With his belief that life experience is essential to being a good interviewer, these particular adventures have left a lasting impression on just how crucial a journalistic flow of information is and how important a good laugh can be.

With an impressive resume and now his own production company ‘RM Entertainment’, Riaz Meghji is a face and a talent impossible to forget. An ambitious and polished performer, Riaz’s diversity as a producer and host, shows he is as capable behind the camera as he is in front of it.

Riaz has a BBA from Simon Fraser University and was recently named ANOKHI Magazine’s TV Personality of the Year for 2006.

Aga Khan Foundation - 25 year anniversary - In the News...

Local Vancouver TV Station covers the Media launch of AKF's 2009 WPW...

FYI - the male host is Riaz Meghji...

I Dreamed a Dream - life is a gift...

Zee's Notes: Over the last few days this You Tube video has been downloaded more than 30 million times - I'm sure many of you have caught it or heard of it in the news. Susan Boyles is a 47 year old Scottish amateur singer who simply 'blew away' the judges, including Simon Cowell, on the UK version of American Idol - Britain's Got Talent, and the audience with her rendition of a song from 'Les Miserables'.

Susan Boyles story is that she always wanted to be a singer but something always held her back and not until her 91 year old mom died 2 years ago she made a promise to herself that she would do something about her life's dreams.

My comment on seeing this is that you never know what life brings in front of you - but I also believe that you have to absolutely believe life is full of opportunity and yours is just around the corner. Only thing is you never give up and push all boundaries to achieve that dream. In studying and reading about people living their dreams I have learnt that these individuals look at life with the utmost optimism and their glasses are always half 'full' and never half 'empty'. The most important ingredient being the complete belief that they deserve a life of happiness and success. So when you watch this keep in mind to think about your dream - the only question is are you pursuing your own dream every single moment of your life ?

Remember there is a hand placed on your shoulder by the most powerful force you can imagine guiding you to achieve everything you ever wanted in your life - how do I know - I heard it on December 13th, 2008 and you know what if you look deep down inside yourself you'll know that only you are blocking that dream...The only funny thing is that most times, as in Susan Boyles story, it's during adversity that people get a wake up call and they kick themselves off the couch and push themselves. So my wish for you is that you make the decision, if not made already, to pursue your dreams and that 'the force' (my words) guide you to fulfill your wildest desires...

Watch the magical 7 minutes of Susan Boyles life here...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lp0IWv8QZY