Hello, I’m Alive! (and ten lessons learned)

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It’s 2017 and feels like I got the memo when everyone’s already having a good time. For the first time since I started this blog I didn’t write a New Year post. I’ll tell you why, alongside the beautiful things that happened in 2016.

  1. My spiritual life became richer. I’ve always been an always-have-your-feet-on-the-ground kind of girl. If something does not make sense, the chance of trying them out is slim to none. In 2016, I learned that faith isn’t very logical all the time and the lack of sense does not make it an impossible feat.
  2. Forgiveness came easier. Ever felt like you lack the capacity to forgive someone who hurt you? I felt that way for a long time. I was hurt in 2015 and wondered how I would survive the year with all the anger and grief. Then I learned forgiveness isn’t a feeling; it’s something you do and then do again every single day after. It wasn’t my love I had to give; it was my consent to hand over the offender to the author of love. Life became easier after that.
  3. Studying made me almost mad. I’d say literally mad but that wouldn’t be true. I did feel almost mad though trying to pay attention to other things aside the pile of books staring me in the face every day, lecturers reminding me to read at least two hours daily and colleagues oppressing me with all their knowledge. But I realised with constant practice and discipline, everything becomes a tad bearable.
  4. We got stuck in a recession and Trump blew the world away. Typing this made me chuckle. Imagine waking up every day to the new fall in the value of your currency, going to the market to learn your favourite brands have doubled in price, searching for alternatives and hating them, dealing with the fear of unemployment and a pay cut, and knowing Trump is the president of America. Conditions will always change and everything bends to accommodate it.
  5. Ideas! That’s what happens when you know things may never be the same again. I spent a lot of time thinking of alternatives, which led me to considering the things I love most in the world, which further led me to research and now I’m a step closer where I want to be in 2017. Change can be a good motivator to realign priorities if it does not paralyze you.
  6. Learning to let go. Not everyone is meant to remain in your life. I heard that once and never gave it another thought until I had to let go of someone special to me. It was not an easy decision, but it had to be done. How did I feel afterwards? Terrible. But terrible is only a feeling and feelings change.
  7. Life hangs precariously on a very thin thread. And could be gone in a puff! I mourned the loss of a blog pal (you’ve probably seen Archaeopteryx here). But his demise made me think about life a little more deeply. Death comes for all like a long-lost friend; we can either embrace him with joy or regret.
  8. The past never goes away. I dream of him knocking at the door. Sometimes I look out the window and he’s there, bidding me to come out. But I don’t; I don’t invite him in nor do I go out to say hello. The past never really goes away; he’s there in our subconscious, but no one says you have to give him audience.
  9. Set manageable goals and keep them in sight. Goal setting have been a tradition for many. Some never see past February, and others can quite simply be termed ‘rolling plans’. I’m not sure why some goals never see the light of day, but studies suggest the reason for failure may be tied to our sharing. The logic is the brain feels gratified when goals are shared with others, hence reducing the likelihood of accomplishment. Mine has never tanked like that, but then I’m not a goal-sharer until I hit the mark. Perhaps it’s time to try a new approach (?) Write it down, keep it in sight, ask for help, but otherwise keep it to yourself.
  10. Victory! Comes sweeter to those who labour the most. I don’t know if I heard that somewhere or if it’s original. A week ago my final results were released and I’m happy to say this girl is an official holder of a professional certification. I had to let go of things I loved (like this blog) to get here, but I’m glad it was worth it. Although the journey may seem long and weary, the joy when it’s over will exceed every effort put into the task.

I like to begin each year with a general theme. In 2015 it was hope; 2016 was a time to tear down and reconstruct yesterday.  This year I’m trying out things that scare the crap out of me. I know it will probably feel stupid sometimes, but like an advice I read on another blog said, “if you wake up one morning and feel unhappy with where you are, have the courage to do whatever is necessary to make a change in your life.”

So here is to taking bold steps.

Happy New Year

 

Image: Pixabay

 

 

 

731 Days of Writing and Community

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I began this blog two years ago in a hotel room far from home, filled with questions of my worth. It wasn’t a very happy day, but then, my life was not particularly cheerful to begin with. There were times when I cried so much I wondered if the flow would ever stop, and there were days when between a quick smile and laughter I’d say to myself, who are you deceiving?

Who was I deceiving? Nobody. It was my subconscious indicating its need for expression. So when an old friend sent me a link to her blog, I thought to myself, I can do this too. And I did. My first month, in hindsight, turned out a summary of my persona, since the things I wrote about reflected my interests in culture, relationship (with others) and emotions. The second month in a nutshell: identity crisis.

I love that writing can express oneself, thoughts, emotions and interests. It didn’t seem quite appealing on the first trial and there were times I thought to quit this blog and move on… but I didn’t. Two years after I am still here. Writing. Sharing. Relating. With you. Because you let me. With every view, like, comment and share, you tell me you’re here and I am not alone. So that young woman who faced an identity crisis no longer exists and in her place is one eager to discover more about herself and this community.

The benefits that have accrued cannot be quantified. I’ve been more attentive to the world around, not just walking through it. I’ve listened to strangers, not only because they provide fodder for the next post (which is totally great), but because I understand what community means a lot better—it’s experiencing one another.

So this is me saying THANK YOU for walking and running with me. For teaching and helping satisfy that primal urge for communication. And most importantly for being you, because by so doing you let me keep being myself. Right here.

Reconstructing Yesterday

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It’s another season of resolutions. I love resolutions; I love that January  can be a marker, a month we set aside to take stock of our yesterdays and make better plans for our tomorrows.

A year ago I decided to take time to know my God better. It could have won the award for the shortest new year resolution list ever, but the effect of that single decision still ripples today. I’ve since learned it’s not how much you intend to achieve in a year that matters, but the quality of that achievement.

Just before the remodeling of our house commenced my dad and I talked about wisdom. The ease with which we make decisions based on current trends, and what’s acceptable today, but years after we are done reveling in the attention, we see the folly of our past choices and spend money and energy to correct the damages.

I sit in my bedroom and stare at the fresh cracks in my ceiling board. There are giant stones on my corridor and the parents have since relocated to another bedroom in the east wing of the house. Our living room is in terrible condition. The aluminum roofing sheets are totally gone and every morning I am jolted out of sleep by the slap of mallet on concrete above my head. There’s no telling when the ceiling boards will finally give way and cave in on me. The entire experience is frustrating. Yet there are nights when I stumble my way through the corridor to the living room, look overhead and have a perfect view of stars twinkling in the night sky. And I think that perhaps the remodeling process isn’t so bad after all.

There are two things this tells me:
One is that a new year resolution does not necessarily mark the close of a chapter or the beginning of a new one. Like a remodelling project, it can be a moment in time when we choose to retrace our steps and reconstruct.

Two, there will be clutters and times within the year when this new project seems like too much of a burden. It helps to remember why we’ve embarked on that journey in the first place and the quality of life we will have when it’s over.

Whether we are on a course to reconstruct yesterday, remodel, or simply taking more giant steps on the path we’ve been all along, I hope that when it seems like chaos is all there is we remember to look above and see the stars.

Christmas Blues

 

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I woke up today, walked outside and sniffed the air. It was there: Christmas. I could smell it in the cold, dry wind that signaled the beginning of the harmattan. It was there in the dust that twirled in the air; in this incredible heat from an angry sun, ever less often punctuated by rain. Rain in November was crazy– if anyone knows the seasons in Nigeria you know there should be none of that past October. But Lagos is the city cushioned by the Atlantic. We get rain whenever and harmattan only when it wins the battle of seasons. Yet there’s Christmas. I heard my first jingle yesterday: Jingle Bells, odd song to sing without snow or sleighs. But the season transcends international boundaries and brings with it a spirit of oneness. I can pretend the mist outside my window, sneaking in beneath glass panes isn’t trying to dry out the oil on my skin or dissipate the next hour, leaving in its wake chapped lips. I can pretend its snow like all the Christmas movies I’ve seen.

Soon corporate buildings will light up with decorations welcoming clients and customers with some cheer. The shops will advertise hampers filled with regular everyday items, strung together with red and green bows. And yes, I get to close work in a few weeks and run home—home could be the village back East with the rest of the family, sucking on marrows from goat meat pepper soup, or it could be here in Lagos, enjoying the road without traffic congestion and the freshest air you can breathe for a while.

For the first time all the stress and heartache of this year suddenly melts away. The moments of joy I’ve experienced seems like nothing compared to what is coming ahead. I finally get what the Apostle meant when he said leaving behind the past and striving for what’s ahead. There is no certainty what’s ahead, but somehow there is no fear of tomorrow—just hope. Lots of hope and a joy that cannot be explained

It’s amazing what one month can do. If we could take half the cheer of December and distribute to gloomier months—like October or May—there’d be so much left. I think though that December’s cheer lies in the knowledge of the end of a season and hopefully the beginning of a new one. The anticipation of meeting loved ones again. Perhaps the added joy that comes from bringing happiness to others. And there’s Christ—the birth of hope to a world filled with sadness. It’s a good time to remember what the 25th means for Christians all over the world.

Christmas will come whether there is heat, cold or rain. It is ironical though that a season of birth and life will be heralded by another season of dying plants. But who cares? Death hasn’t been more appealing knowing that when it’s past, new life will bloom again. I think it will be nice to forget what day it is for the rest of the month and watch it glide by gracefully.

May your lives be filled with all the cheer December brings.

Alive, Barely Breathing

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The days past since my last post on a pet friend turned food. The stats tell me you’ve visited weekly, especially Sundays and Fridays. Everyday my Reader and mailbox flood with new posts from other blogs and websites I follow– I wonder how they write, where their inspiration and drive comes from. One word comes back each time, discipline.

According to Brian Tracy, discipline is doing what you need to do, even when you don’t feel like it. Timi likes to write about this and sustaining momentum—I think it’s an admirable thing, being able to push yourself to do the necessary. One of the biggest problems of my life is keeping to something. You’d declare me mad for writing that now seeing as I’ve kept this blog for over a year and stuck to writing one of the most life-sapping exams of my existence lately. Indiscipline should not exist in my vocabulary yet sometimes it seems that’s my enemy.

Few weeks ago I read a post on Holistic Wayfarer’s blog. Where does your writing fit in the scheme of your life? Is it hobby, work, life, cathartic, fun?

I’ve thought about that—what writing is for me. Writing isn’t fun. Nope. It’s not hobby; I’d rather read a book. It’s neither work nor sums up my being. There are a number of things capable of filling those slots. For me, this is air; the cut I bleed through. When the voices in my head refuse to shut up, I write. When my eyes see too much, I write. When my heart is heavy, I write. When the injustice around me becomes too much to bear, I rip the Buffon behind it in the comfort of my ink.
At this rate when I’m married dear future husband might have to keep his eyes peeled for epistles in sheets from a troubled future wife. Just because.

There is a backlog of unwritten trouble. The people in my close circle have been supportive and I love them dearly for this. Sometimes though this thing around my neck squeezes a little tighter, and I don’t think it will go away until I write and do something I’ve toyed with for a while now—stick the pages in a bottle and let it float across the Atlantic… or sink. It’s a very cliché thing to do, but it does seem like fun. Briefly considered burning, but when have I ever been able to let written words die? It’s sacrilege.
What ritual would you do with your pages if you had to write something cathartic?

On a lighter note;
I signed up for a course on WordPress about brand building… or something similar; then didn’t follow-up. I’m blaming indiscipline, disinterest or the world was too much with me.

Also been toying with new themes for the blog– can’t seem to settle. Perhaps you could help. I’ve vacillated between Motif and Highwind and… searching. I’d like to go grey (no colours.) What do you think?

The news is downright disturbing lately; reports of rape, violence and sexual crimes against women and children. The madness in the world now is capable of taking the shine from your perfect day. On the one hand I think people have gone mad and these things are end-time signs; on the other I think maybe this isn’t entirely a bad thing—the news. Bad things have gone on for decades, if there’s so much of it hitting the news now then it can also mean people are speaking up and becoming vigilant with our children. The latter gives me a modicum of hope; the former depresses.

Well, guess I’ll be seeing you. Do tell me how you’ve been and what pages of your life this hermit has missed.

Family Ties and the Feeling of Inadequacy

Meet S. Fashionista, celebrity fan, movie maniac, business mogul, accountant, dancer, singer, selfie icon, pout queen, sulker, Gazelle. She owns more shoes and clothes than anyone I’ve ever known and packs a mean gaze for someone petite. Sometimes I’m jealous she has such a lively résumé, other times I really don’t care that she has such a lively résumé. Continue reading

On Blogging: A Journey in Twelve Months

1. There’s something about February that makes people want to start a new life on a blog. I don’t know what it is, but everytime I visit a site, I dig into the archives to uproot the first post. February! Continue reading

A Sprinting Love Affair

 

I hate to sweat

But baby we did good together

I was marred by uncertainty

Unsure if I could go the distance

But you were there

Sturdy. Steady. A reliable cushion. Continue reading

Socialization, Complications and the Human Mind

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You’ve got to love the human mind.

Aside finding logical solutions to complex problems, it’s also adept at formulating theories and stories to make the heart and conscience feel better.

We do enough job complicating our lives for ourselves; add another human to the mix and the internal mechanisms of our minds begin to find a way out.

Is the end product self preservation or just excuses for our actions/inactions; or perhaps both?

Ebolaphobia And My Resident Rats

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Fear kills faster

My housemates are dying.

It’s no news that most people have pests pets. Some have Dogs; most have Cats; others even have Dragons. But me, I have Rats!–involuntarily.

My traps have been lying unproductive for weeks, it was beginning to seem like the guests for which they were intended had developed a higher level of reasoning unknown to their kind, and were now learning to outsmart humans.
Continue reading

Counting Blessings

imagesCA96F1XR[1]The past months have been an emotional roller coaster for me; from momentary happiness to an instant bubble burst, I can’t say I have been the happiest woman on God’s green Earth. Continue reading

Journey to self

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“Self-acceptance and self-knowing are deeply interconnected. To truly know something about yourself, you must accept it. Even things about yourself that you most deeply want to change must first be accepted – even embraced. Self-transformation is always preceded by self-acceptance.” – David G. Benner (The Gift of Being Yourself)

When P asked that I told him something about me that no one else knew, I froze. There are a hundred things people don’t know about me seeing as I am a reticent being by nature, never particularly willing to share myself completely with anyone. I’ve often been forced to wonder if I’ll make a decent lover or wife. Maybe I will, when I find a good reason to trust another man with myself. Or maybe I won’t. It’s is after all said that the heart of a woman is an ocean of secrets.

Either ways, there are two major reasons I don’t feel compelled to reveal my feelings to others: the first is that the more people know, the more vulnerable you become. The other being the fear of being misunderstood and judged. You see, I have stumbled too many times in search of my identity. I have discovered hidden perks that would make my folks and friends cringe inwardly. But right beside that quirky and perky female is the tolerant and compassionate one people are accustomed to.

For years I thought the latter persona a more acceptable version of me and inadvertently repressed the former. Can’t confess it was healthy. Sometimes an emotional outburst reflects itself in very crazy ways most people can’t relate with. It was widely assumed that I was most surely facing an identity crisis. I believed that for a while, until I realized they were all wrong. I wasn’t facing an identity crisis, I was learning more about what was in me.

The more I explored my mind, the more I discovered more colors and shades. The more curious I became of my environment, the more I understood that I could be both the quiet pool and the raging ocean. When I began to embrace my numerous personality traits–both those I loved and what I so desperately wished wasn’t mine, the better my relationship with myself and others got. Oh, they aren’t any less surprised by something new, but they’ve stopped thinking something’s wrong with me.

Today I am learning to hone my strengths, and manage my weaknesses–not shy away from them or pretend they don’t exist. I am learning to assess my blueprint and decide how to project this to the world, to create a healthy balance of sort with myself. Most importantly, I understand that to know love, I must first learn to love me–all of me; this way I can also learn to love others and all their different hues, and give those who want to, a chance to love me too.

“Being loved for our best selves is something we should rejoice at, but being loved for our very worst is a joy that reaches to the innermost parts of hearts, healing us, blessing us, and providing us with the strength we need to live a full and beautiful life.” – J.Soriano

Free Fall

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This is the first time I’m doing this–writing without thinking. Sometimes I have thoughts and words buzzing in my head, that i can’t seem to communicate. Feels like some disability of sort, epilepsy of the mind perhaps? Which someone was kind enough to term ‘writers block’. And other times when I manage to get something coherent out, I feel stupid afterwards.

You think maybe that’s some complex? I don’t feel inferior to anybody, intellectually intimidated Continue reading

Introspection: Necessity or Passion?

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I pushed my phone off the bed as my ever trusty alarm went off by 5am.

‘It can’t be morning already’, I groaned in protest as I placed a pillow over my head and instantly went back to sleep again.

‘Uju’, dad called out, ‘aren’t you going to work today?!’

‘I am’ I responded part mutter, part hiss. In a quick motion, I tossed the pillow off my face and flipped to my back staring at the ceiling.

Casting furtive glances at my wardrobe, I wondered what I was going to wear to work, while halfheartedly paying attention to the honks of vehicles of the early risers who I believed were in a hurry to beat the traffic already building up on the highway. It didn’t matter; I could always catch the bus afterwards.
With a sigh, I asked myself the same question that had plagued me for weeks now, ‘Why am I doing this?’

Some 592 days ago, fresh out of school, I walked into the labor market filled with expectations. I had a list of everything I wanted my place of employment to be:
1. Fun. A place I wouldn’t mind spending long hours working, with nice friendly colleagues.
2. Challenging and Competitive. Because nothing fuels your drive like healthy competition.
3. Educative. I aim for bigger things, and having smarter people to learn from would be a huge plus.
4. Paycheck. Oh that has to be pretty decent.
5. Social. Inasmuch as I’m a closet introvert, I do like to communicate with people. It’s all about networking.
6. Happy. This is the ultimate goal. Looking back and being proud of your life’s work.

I had it all worked out—in my head at least. So armed with a degree, dream and passion, I was set to take on the world. I submitted application letters to various industries—telecoms, consumer goods, banks, audit firms. For months I tried and nothing gave. Then gradually I sunk into depression like many others before me had; like many others after me would.

I figured I’d give it one more shot, and I did. So here I am a year and three months after asking myself, ‘why am I doing this?

‘Well, you were bored with being at home while all your friends went to earn a living daily’ I said to me.

‘But why this?’ I asked again, ‘why not telecoms? You had an offer there.’

‘Yeah, I had an offer AFTER I had this offer’. It took so long, but it would have fit if I had just decided to go there rather than stay.

‘Why then didn’t you go?’

‘Because this had better prospects in the long run’. There I said it. This here was really the summation of why I had chosen to be an auditor and not a Call Centre agent, or Administrative Assistant of some sort. At least that is what I thought. Now I wonder, could I have been wrong about everything?

Life is difficult without guidance.

I’m stuck day after day groaning at each blast of a car horn indicating daytime. It’s not that I hate my job, No far from it. I do it quite well and it almost perfectly fits my list. My Co-workers are great; I meet people on a daily(or monthly) basis; I’m learning fast and competition’s healthy—by this I mean ‘not choking’. But it seems I missed out on the ‘Happiness’ bit. I’m not happy, I am just bored brainless. Have any idea how annoying it to spend every single day of the week doing the same things? It’s death I tell you. I could walk-through this routine with my eyes close.
Don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there’s nothing more boring than constantly following a pattern. It’s no wonder people try to break away from tradition.

Tradition is boring. Patterns are boring. No spontaneity? BORING.

I believe there are people called to fill a particular spot in certain industries, but now I feel I may have been in a hurry to take this. I’ll also place my bet on a good 50% of employees doing jobs they’d rather not be engaged in.
It’s just a messed up economy we find ourselves, where we choose our career paths based on the availability of opportunities to grow and excel; while those brave enough to fight against the odds choose to go with their passions.

Passion trumps Necessity. I know that now.

If I have a chance to make things different, I will take it. This I’m sure of.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/03/24/daily-prompt-sixteen-tons/

Introspection: Blurred Lines

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Dear God,
I should start by saying thank you, shouldn’t I? For the things done of which I know of, and those I’m totally clueless about. So, thank you.
I am addressing this to you because there really isn’t anyone else I can tell this who will make a remarkable difference.

See, you gave me this really great personality. You know the kind that morphs and shifts all the time so it’s easier to relate with different kind of people? And a mind like a sponge. I can soak up a lot of information–sometimes I’m not even aware it’s happening, then everything comes tumbling out when they’re needed, and I’m like “Holy smokes! I know this?” But you know all these already, don’t you? You know everything.

You know the circumstances surrounding my birth. You know how a blissfully happy, ignorant childhood was ripped off. You know how hard I have had to struggle with knowing you, getting really angry with you for letting all those things happen–not just to me, but the people I love–and you know my anger was outright fueled by the fact that the lives of these people I cared about affected me in more ways than one. See? You made me like this, and I’m not sure what to do with it.
So I change personalities as much as Mercy Johnson changes characters in her movies. I’m afraid somewhere in the mix I lost total sight of who I really was. Now I’m more concerned who I am, and who I want to always be.

But that isn’t everything. I really need to know why you love me this much. Why? I feel totally unworthy, and yet I have this feeling you’ve been holding on so tight and yelling “I will not let you go!”
I think that’s great because I find myself slipping in more ways than one. I’m really not sure what’s happening, but I don’t like it one bit. Some of these people I have become in the past didn’t make me feel good about myself, or you either and I honestly want to please you. I guess you know that. Somehow I think maybe that’s why you have been holding on to me. You see the heart of man, while people look at physical appearance and actions. You understand the struggles–physical, mental, emotional–we face everyday, and you judge our actions based on that. I have slipped a hundred times already, and yet I feel you close by with your hand outstretched asking me to hold on. I haven’t.

Lord, I’m lost and in need of help. I mean the kind of help where you send a legion of Angels to minister. But most importantly, I need you. Just you. I have all these ‘depth'(like he calls it) that I can’t even begin to understand….don’t know what to do with it. But you know. Could you show me please? Will you take my hand and lead the way? Will you help me find me? The lines are blurred, and I see nothing.
Help me dear Lord, please?