Of listless weeks and Unexpected Wins

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When I awoke to 2018 all I wanted was to go back to sleep. You see, I liked a boy and taking things to the next level seemed so promising with a small exception—within the past weeks it suddenly felt like I didn’t know him anymore. Maybe I never did. The whole episode left me in a bad emotional state that I ended up telling myself, whenever someone asked about my annual plans, that I’d get to it before the month runs out. I never did. 

February should have been better. I was with my girls and having fun but things went south so fast. I got robbed in a public place. Devastated doesn’t begin to explain how I felt. My brain wasn’t processing as fast as I’d like and the missing bag contained my phone, WiFi, ATM cards. I jumped into damage control mode, calling for accounts freeze. Then I sat there and stared into space, while my girls threatened hell, mentally taking stock of lost items. That’s when it hit me. If you ever keep a little notepad with you and a pen for ‘brilliant’ random ideas, then you know how important those are. I cried and wished I’d get that little book back. Just it. My words are like an extension of myself—my mind, and I felt so violated. How would I get it back? What if the thief had no idea what it was and threw it into the trash? I wrote to the company and got tossed around. I went to the police and learned how unhelpful they could be. I sought closure online by writing my story.

Finally, I was ready to let it go. I replaced my lost items and felt better. A minor setback wouldn’t put my life on hold. I was on a roll to the future. Or maybe I wasn’t.

In the next few months I understood what it meant to be frustrated, taken for granted and hopelessly depressed. Progress wasn’t a word I knew existed. I turned to God. I met new people—some who saw my February debacle online and broke protocols for me. During the wedding of an online friend I met some of the most amazing people, got added to a group where I felt out-of-place for a while, left and came back again because I never run away. Not entirely.

Amazon proved to be a pain in the ass. I couldn’t place an order for a laptop I needed because they kept declining my debit card for reasons I didn’t understand. Multiple mails, faxes and complaints later and I gave up on them. It sucks to come from a blacklisted country where the actions of a few determines the fate of many hardworking, honest people. Eventually, I had to use a third-party logistic company that misrepresented themselves, took too long to deliver and messed up part of my order. On the plus side (because positive vibes are shooting fireworks off my fingers) I learned how incredibly polite and patient I am. It became apparent I’d rather suffer for incompetence than vent my frustration on sales agents. 

This was meant to be a post about nasty weeks and gratefulness that it’s over, but writing this has forced me to really think about my experience in details by reliving it. In retrospect it wasn’t all bad. I met new people who proved to be supportive; people who responded to a whatsapp status cry for help. I’m thankful for these.

My fellowship team made our daily devotional in print. I mean we wrote a book and self-published! That’s big. Heck, it’s huge. I have over a hundred copies in my house for distribution and when I pause to think that I wrote at least twenty daily scripture readings for young people, some drawing from my life experience, it makes me proud. Like, hey you over there, we wrote a book!

You know, it’s fine to not have it together. Sometimes life hands you sour grapes and you can’t get a decent juice out of it even with sweeteners. It’s all right to fall apart and rant. A new friend and potential business partner died and I mourned for weeks. Weeks that managed to complicate my life further with stress at work, more man drama and partial blindness. For real, I couldn’t see for some days from staring at a computer screen.

My aim isn’t to inspire anyone here. For the most part, this is more like a rant than anything I’ve posted on this blog. I awoke this year without a plan, with hurt and confusion. I woke up today, the 31st, with a song in my head. I’m listening to the same song as I write this. It’s been a terrible year with so many downside, enough to drown whatever wins existed within.

But, right now, I’m forced to confront my wins. I’m starting a company doing what I love. Somehow in my frustration I got some clarity of everything wrong with my world and all I want to do is fix it. Opportunities abound and I’m grabbing them as they come. I’m going to school again. I met someone who has been so amazing I feel like it’s a dream. Old relationships that ended without notice have been rekindled.

I found my voice again. In a time when it seemed like I was failing, I learned what it meant to be me. I am smart and beautiful and inspire people. Excessive modesty has been the hallmark of my existence for so long. In the last few weeks I’ve sat in panels, questioned and asked how I’m so confident that I talk like someone older than my age. I smile, but what I truly want to say to them is I have lived. I sense more than most; I feel more than most; I question more than most; I experience the world differently. And that’s a good thing. I know I will change the world and my words, heart and charisma will be the tools I use.

This new journey of rediscovery is something I want to share with so many people. I’m taking a chance and placing a bet on myself. I’m refusing to let other people’s fear define me because in a moment of clarity I opened my bible and saw this: If you are not firm in faith, then you’re not firm at all and I want to stand for and believe in something. I want to hold on to that belief with tenacity. So, this is me and whatever comes next, I’m standing and saying, ‘Go girl, you’ve got this.’

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And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer

After reading Fredrik Backman’s “A Man Called Ove”, he’s become my new obsession.

There aren’t many writers out there who draw your soul into a story like he does. You see the characters. You root for them. You feel their sorrows and hopes and triumph. You sit in bed at 2am weeping for them, and smile when things finally begin to work for them.

Because deep inside, these stories mirror yours. Your story is buried inside words and you recognise this. So, it stops being about the characters really; it’s about you. And me. Hoping we’ll get a happy ending eventually.

I read Backman’s novella “And Every Morning The Way Home Gets Longer and Longer”.
It’s a very short complete-in-one-sitting kind of book that tells the story of a man searching for the best way to tell his son and grand son goodbye.

His greatest fear isn’t death; it’s not remembering. It’s waking up each day knowing your memory will fail you. That you’ll stare at the people who meant the world to you and have no recollection of who they are. That you’ll pick your favourite book for 10 years and not know why it was so perfect for a decade. That the words you loved so much, or the numbers that excited you means nothing.

I would fear that. Not death. Never death. Not going grey or wrinkled. I look forward to it. I would fear forgetting; looking into the mirror and not knowing. Scratching at the surface of consciousness and not being able to dig within. It’s frustrating today to have a word right there at the tip of my tongue and yet my mind betrays me. It’s frustrating to feel like I need to recall something and yet can’t access the file. But to know that one day it’ll simply be a natural reaction to aging…

Noah, his grandson, takes this in strides. He’s a child who loves numbers like his grandpa. But he also understands adult complexities because his grandpa always spoke to him like an adult.
Ted, the son, likes words and music. He never got along with his father. He taught himself to ride a bike.

… Grandparents dot on their grandkids because they’re trying to apologise to their children for being bad parents.

I can live with this.

Backman weaves an emotional, compelling story of family, love, regret and hope. All fundamental themes familiar to us.

………………….

There’s a hospital room at the end of a life where someone, right in the middle of the floor, has pitched a green tent. A person wakes up inside it, breathless and afraid, not knowing where he is. A young man sitting next to him whispers:
“Don’t be scared.”
The person sits up in his sleeping bag, hugs his shaking knees, cries.
“Don’t be scared,” the young man repeats.
A balloon bounces against the roof of the tent; its string reaches the person’s fingertips.
“I don’t know who you are,” he whispers.
[…]
“You look different, Noahnoah. How is school? Are the teachers better now?”
“Yes, Grandpa, the teachers are better. I’m one of them now. The teachers are great now.
“That’s good, that’s good, Noahnoah, a great brain can never be kept on Earth,” Grandpa whispers and closes his eyes.

Operation Andrew

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The Cathedral Church of Christ, Marina (CCC) is the oldest Anglican cathedral in the Church of Nigeria. The foundation stone of the first building was laid in 29/3/1867 and the cathedral established in 1869. While the construction of the current building began 1/11/1924 and completed in 1946.

But this isn’t about the church as we know it. Much of what the Anglican communion is today traces its origin to Church Missionary Society’s work (CMS). Little wonder if you spend some time in Nigerian villages, you’ll hear the oldies refer to Anglican churches as CMS or Mission rather than their given names. You’ll also see that the CCC sits at one of the most popular bus stops in Lagos, Nigeria called CMS.

The church exists because some people took up the call to bring the gospel to all of us. From the Apostles who died for the sake of Christ, to people who drive the CMS, and Christians today who remember what it means to be true disciples of Jesus.

Much is said about Apostle Peter, the Rock as Christ called him, but not many remember it was Andrew, his brother, who first saw Jesus and told Simon, “We have found the Messiah.” Then he took Simon to Jesus (John 1:35-42)

Today, as we remember the death of Christ on the cross and what it means to Christians all over the world, think about what His love and the Church unity is truly about.

It’s not in interdenominational bickering –whose church has the grandest design or who’s keeping with traditional doctrine or whose pastor performs the most miracles. We stray too far.

It’s in Mission. Being Andrews. Telling someone about our Jesus, what he’s done this Good Friday by becoming a willing sacrifice and what that means to anyone who will receive him.

So, will you be an Andrew?

One Year Older

Anniversary Reblog.

It was my birthday a few days ago. I read this post again and realise just how much of it still holds true for me.
I’ve made new friends, fresh relationships and met awesome people I’m fortunate to call ‘family’.

I’m still in shock from all the cake I ate on Tuesday lol, and cringe at the extra hour of work I need at the gym to get all the calories off my hips. But it was a good day– the very best, and I look forward to everything this new year brings 🙂

Mirrored Lens

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This is in response to the daily prompt Cake. I’m doing this as a free-writing exercising after abandoning us for over two months. Coincidentally this is one day of the year when I’m allowed to eat lots of cake without thinking about calories.

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Thirty Years Later

Because this is everything I would say to myself ten years ago, and everything I need to hear today.

A Holistic Journey

I don’t know why people seek out fortune tellers. Why would you want to know the heartaches that lie ahead, the assurance that life will take your spouse and body and dreams?

He will be with his family tonight, Doctor, when he goes home, the deathless man says. Why should I tell him that tomorrow he is going to die? So that, on his last night with his family, he will mourn himself?…Suddenness. His life, as he is living it – well, and with love, with friends – and then suddenness. Believe me, Doctor, if your life ends in suddenness you will be glad it did, and if it does not you will wish it had.

Not me, I say. I do not do things, as you say, suddenly. I prepare, I think, I explain.
~ The one quotable text from Obreht’s The Tiger’s Wife I can’t recommend

We hope…

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The Weight of Struggle

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It was few minutes past 8pm when I boarded one of the loading vehicles for the night before drivers called it a day. I rode shotgun, squeezed between the driver and a middle-aged man. The engines kicked to life as the light overhead cast its dim glow.

“Your money please.”

Hands stretched forth clasping wazobia notes. I helped him collect the monies so his hands stay on the steering wheel.

“Sister, your money.”

He was referring to me. I took my first look at the inside of his cab. Layers of dust coated the dashboard. I suspected the dust on the fake brown fur placed just below the windscreen would choke the occupants of the car if anyone bothered dusting it off. The stereo system could barely be called that, considering all it sported was a gaping hole—a testament to a vehicle that once was. The only thing that appeared in fairly decent condition was the seats. But then, wasn’t that all we really needed in a vehicle anyway. Every other addition, from the stereo to the air conditioning was for comfort and another excuse to attach ridiculous price tags.

The car wheeled into a pothole and I braced myself for impact as the hand brake dug into my thigh.

“I should pay half the fare.” I’m not sure what response I expected. It had been a lousy day and even the best of the people in this State would have lost their quip.

“My sister, no vex. I get just 250 naira per drive and in a day I might go only three times.”
That’s an average of 750 naira per day’s work. Take the mandatory 50 naira ‘tax’ to the garage administrators per trip and the total take home pay drops to 600 naira. That’s less than $2 per day. His family lived in the outskirt of the city and he got to pay them a visit once a week.

“No money in this business at all. When I pay my debt, I’ll carry my car to another place.”

The journey from the bus stop to my home is about five minutes and within that time I reconsidered everything I’d thought about my life. Earlier in the day I’d done a bit of mental cataloguing and brain whipping. I needed to raise money for a certain project to kick-start the next phase of my life, but too many projects in the pipe tend to drain resources—including the emergency stash.

Helen Keller once talked about lacking shoes and realizing the next man had no feet. I have my reservations about this eternal wisdom because while it asks that we be grateful for what we have, it also attempts to diminish the weight of our struggle by drawing a rough comparison with the next man’s. I don’t have to wonder where my next pay check will come from. I’m neither in debt nor have family miles away depending on me for survival. However, I understand this struggle, not because I live that life, but because in my little world I feel hard pressed to make tough decisions and find solutions, too.

A few months ago I would have felt shame for feeling the way I did. Here I was without shoes staring at another without feet. But whether shoes or feet, our needs were different and not in any way diminished by their size. What mattered was the value we placed on them, not some invisible measuring line deciding if our struggle measured up to a community standard.

If I learned anything in that old beaten car, it is that to share in another’s story isn’t to make mine of worth; it is the understanding that struggle is universal, irrespective of our destination, that expresses true community.

 

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Wazobia—Nigerian slang for 50 naira note. Derives its name from the pictorial representations of the major ethnic groups. 

 

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

 

 

 

Happiness Through The Hour-Glass

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If you had asked me what happiness meant a decade ago, my answer would have read: it’s finally coming home to good food and a warm bed. You see, I was in a boarding school that availed me only the basic luxuries—as basic as they could get. When I posed the same question to a group of friends, answers differed with each person defining happiness as best he could, given the prevailing circumstances of their lives.

I used to think this was a one-definition-fits-all thing; that you could tell people what should give them lasting happiness, and that the sum of one’s feeling would be their dreams, both short and long-term, fulfilled. I may have been wrong.

It explains why a person living in luxury would consider suicide when they can afford everything they ever wanted. Why a mother would kill her own baby if children are God’s gift to man. Why certain people suffer spousal abuse, if the call to marriage is the highest union that two people can find. Why privileged children run away from home, when there are less privileged that would die to have just a bit of their part. Or why some go into crime even when provided for by the State. The paradox is that people want happiness but do not understand why their desires, now fulfilled, leave them feeling hollow still.

The much I’ve come to know is that our personal and collective definition of happiness changes the longer the sands pass though the hour-glass. It was Heraclitus who said that no man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he is not the same man. If human character was subject to time and experience, one’s perception of happiness is also subject to the same prevailing influence.

It brings some perspective into this ever elusive definition. In fact I am willing to bet that if I threw open the same question, obvious as the answer(s) may seem, it will take some thoughts to offer one that pleases you.

So I asked myself again: what does happiness mean to me?

Over time it has been so many things, but the passage of time has helped to refine my perception. The more sand has escaped from the hour-glass of my life, the clearer I see through it. Whereas happiness used to mean getting as much as I could within the shortest possible interval; now it is knowing that happiness is not in achievement itself, but in the journey between how soon I want it and when I eventually get it.

Thinking About The End

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Death comes to all of us—eventually. Unless you’re of the biblical school of thoughts, then maybe you’ll live to see the rapture. Otherwise, death comes and it’s an end we all have to face.

I find the thought of this mortality amusing—I’ve said this before and got called a weirdo, but think about it. If we get to think about where we will like to be in the nearest or farthest future, if we are advised that the most effective way to ensure that we reach our dreams without giving up is to see where it all ends every time, then why shouldn’t we pay attention to our ultimate end which is guaranteed?

Yet people fear death. It’s the reason so many out there want to be immortalized in their children… I think it’s a biological order. Man forms community, chooses a mate and procreate to ensure that his genetic line continues to live long after he is gone. Animals—Lions in particular—kill off the cubs of the former leader of the Pride to ensure his offspring repopulate the feline nation. In life we’re still thinking about living longer than our mortality will allow. It’s like some kind of contingency plan against the inevitable. It’s the reason we feel remorse for one who has passed away, offering respect to the deceased we never knew like we’re appealing to Death to come for us at a much later date.

But death shouldn’t be something we dread; on the contrary we should encourage active discussions. And by discussion I don’t mean talking about it when we’re old and tired of this world; I mean thinking and talking it when we have everything to live for. We should take living everyday like it’s our last quite literally. We should even discuss the various means by which we could leave this world—as dreadful as some of it might seem. But most important, we need to think of the people we will leave behind and our legacy when it’s over… whenever it’s over.

A week ago I woke up to news of the death of a vibrant young man who allegedly slipped in the bath and died. I am privileged to have worked with him in the past and if there was something I loved, it was his jovial nature. The news got out and there was nothing but love from those who knew or were opportune to have read something he’d shared. I spent the rest of the day thinking of what will happen if people learn of my death. You should think that, too. Hopefully you do. Then I asked my sister what would happen if we both knew I’d die that night and she said, “We’ll spend the night awake; no sleeping for you.”

So there are a number of reasons for our fear of the inevitable. We fear the life we’ll have when the people we love are gone; we fear the life they will have when we are gone; we fear we will never be the person we want to be if we die now. We fear we haven’t lived enough. But we don’t have to be afraid, or death has the upper hand. We just have to embrace the truth of our very finite existence so it takes away the element of surprise.

How?
Think of the end. Talk about the end with people you love. Live well. Leave good. Perhaps this is a better contingency plan.

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.

Don’t Buy Her A Gift…

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According to the movies and stories passed down over the decades, courtship in Africa, specifically Nigeria was rather a funny and awkward exercise; one that still influences how relationships pan out in present day society. In those days when a man became of age and his elders deemed it time for him to get married, he would be ‘let loose’ on the community to scout for a suitable maiden to wife.

Now, what made a maiden suitable you ask?

  • A broadened hip believed to make childbirth easier and also strong enough to ‘back’ the child when it cries.
  • An ample bosom to nurse a child.
  • A thin waist line to showcase an hourglass figure (they loved their amazons)
  • A good stock line to ensure children had no evil traits likely to rear up its ugly head.
  • And let’s not forget, the gift of preparing and serving meals in a manner that would rival Nigella Lawson.
  • Throw in a pretty face and the said scout had reached utopia.

Basically, he went about the process with the mannerism of a prospective buyer at a cattle market. And when our scout spots the right maiden does he personally take her a gift or try to interact with her? No. He interacts extensively with her family, including distant relatives, but rarely spends any quality time getting to know her as a person.  He bestows gifts on her parents, her relatives as a token of his interest. Any gift that makes it to the bride is delivered by a relative, not directly by our scout.

The maiden is seen as something you acquired after making a reasonable offer by way of a gift. There was no need to appeal to her emotions; it was more or less a business transaction.

Fast forward to present day society, not much has changed. Man still hasn’t mastered the act of gift giving without strings as a sign of intimacy and friendship.

Our modern day checklist will look something like this:

  • Does she have a job, is she hard-working?
  • Is she devoid of illness (this includes her bloodlines)?
  • Is she well known in the community? Hmm, this might be a sign that she flirts.
  • Is she prayerful? I have gathered a lot of demons and I need a stand by the exorcist.

And the list continues.

History has made it almost impossible for men to approach gift giving from any other angle other than as an investment that indirectly benefits him.

He gave gifts to her father, he got her. Business deal sealed and delivered.

However, today the woman has a choice and sadly that has thrown a spanner in the investment wheel of many scouts. Some have invested and lost heavily; some have played cautiously and still ended up cheated.

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I know some of you are thinking, but we should invest in the ones we love. Absolutely true, however, investments are expected to yield returns; gifts are designed to please the recipient. A gift performs well under the atmosphere of love; selfishness on either side turns a gift into an investment tool for manipulation. Expecting to receive sexual favours or commitments because you gave a gift is totally opposed to the true meaning of gift giving.

 Most people give gifts to children simply to make them smile; to let them know you thought of them and you love them. If the lady in your life does not stir your feelings on gift giving the way a child would then I don’t think you should be together. Begrudging your partner a gift for any other reason other than you can’t afford or it feels inappropriate at the moment, is an indication that you evaluate your relationships based on what you expect in return from it.

Gift: something voluntarily transferred by one person to another without compensation.

Don’t buy her a gift this valentine because you see her as a potential ‘cow’ or ‘investment’ ready to yield an emotional, physical or spiritual bounty. Buy her a gift because she’s the girl who makes the sun feel brighter when she looks at you. Buy her a gift because your relationship is worth investing everything good into including gifts. Buy her a gift because you love her and respect her needs as a person.

Funny thing is when a girl senses she has your heart the benefits just keep giving ♥

 


 

Chioma is an avid reader and a non-biased writer. She writes to explore and change outlooks to life, while mothering and maintaining balance wherever she calls home. Visit her blogLifehomeandaway

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.

Your Story Doesn’t Count

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His was the only familiar face as I stepped into the bus. I made my way to his side—more leg space I told myself, but it was curiosity that propelled my feet. Then I spent the next minute stealing glances, willing my mind to connect the dots three weeks old.

We’d moved only ten minutes when he switched from the movie he’d been watching to hit up his friend on a social media channel. My waning curiosity piqued, searching for answers that eluded my mind.
Remember that babe I told you about that ran away with my money?
—Eh, you see am?
She’s beside me. She was looking at me when she came in like she couldn’t recognize me.
—Lol. Remind am na.
No. Leave am.
—If na me I go talk. I wan chop too.
No, it doesn’t matter.

My heart sank. This is the reason we must never eavesdrop on people’s conversations. I picked up my phone and told my friend what had happened, calling the young man beside me a jerk for his action. I could hear his laugh in my head.

It had been a mistake. Three weeks ago some driver with a temper gave four of us money to split among ourselves because he couldn’t be bothered to find loose change. That was difficult. I had custody of a boy’s change—a meager sum considering, but no less his. We spent the first few minutes looking for a means to split the money without succeeding because buses were going in different directions. Buses going my way were scarce, so as soon as one pulled over I was eager to jump in and get to work looking for change from other passengers. I succeeded. But when I looked out the window for my companions not one of them was in sight. When they eventually showed up, my call for attention was drowned by honking vehicles and the driver was already on his way.

Three weeks later I was beside one of them without a clue if he was the gentleman owed money or just one of the others. I contemplated raising it up and asking. It seemed awkward– for me. I figured I could pay his fare anyway and get the debt out of my system. But what if the real owner of the money meets me tomorrow? The stolen conversation set me straight, infuriated me, embarrassment burned my cheek. I turned to him willing myself to break the ice.

What’s the name of your movie?

He responded and asked if I wanted it. I nodded in the affirmative. We spent the rest of the journey pairing devices over Bluetooth, losing connection, sharing hotspot (his), searching for a quicker means to give me a movie I was half interested in watching. I watched him with curious eyes as he held my Tablet.

The driver requested for our money. I stilled his hand as it reached for his wallet.

Let me pay.

I didn’t think he was going to let me, so I pulled out twice the fare and handed it over to the collector. I glanced at my feet. Had he said thank you? Was that a smirk on his face when I touched his hand? Did he think I paid out of guilt or perhaps as payment for sharing his mobile data? Did he really believe I ran off with his money? Would he have thought that if I were a man? Was he simply a decent guy or living out the biblical mandate: pay back evil with good?

Was I over thinking this?

My eyes wandered to him again. He’d abandoned his movie and was trying to download a heavy file on my Tablet that would allow him send the movie faster—with his mobile data. None of this made any sense. He was a jerk, right? Why would he do any of this after obviously gloating to his friend an hour ago? A part of me wondered if he intended to run away with my Tablet when we arrive at our destination as revenge.

Finally the bus stopped and the passengers alighted. I got my Tablet back as we got off too. He asked for my destination and I responded. We stood in silence. My bus came, I turned to him, said goodbye with a half-smile. He smiled back.

Neither of us knew the other’s name. Neither asked what had happened that day. No story volunteered. It didn’t matter anyway. We each formed our opinions.

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.