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Thursday, 3 August 2017

Becoming More Than Beautiful.


Have you ever looked at your body and wished you could change it or some parts of it? Do you wish you could afford a surgery to look perfect?

What is your idea of PERFECT? Is it the idea sold to you by society of how you should look? If you do get to do have your 'perfect' look, would it make you happy?

It's as Beyonce sang in Pretty Hurts, "we shine the light on whatever's worst but what we can't see is the soul that needs a surgery".

It's your mind that needs to be told that beautiful is not what the media feeds you.

Beauty isn't bought or built and it doesn't look a certain way. It is diverse and that's why it is said to be 'in the eyes of the beholder'. It's up to you to behold your beauty when you look in the mirror.

So, when was the last time you beheld your beauty?
Also, when you think of beauty do you see you? Or pictures of clothes, jewelry, shoes, bags, make-up and accessories? As much as these are important they are mere accessories and are not the determinant of your beauty. They exist for you and would be useless without you but you are good as you are and are complete without them.

One truth about beauty is that it doesn't guarantee happiness and that's why some people end doing so many surgeries in search of 'perfection'  when what they really want is to 'feel good' about themselves.

This feel good feeling which really is 'happiness' sadly can't be bought through surgery nor attained through filtered pictures.

It is the result of accepting you as you are. It is knowing you are beautiful and this beauty isn't dependent on how you feel, what you have or what others say. You only need to be aware of this fact so you can live freely and confidently else you could 'alter' your body with surgery and filter your pictures all you want and still feel empty when you are by yourself.

Take a few minutes daily to remind yourself that you are beautiful, say those words to yourself till they become entrenched in your mind.

Say it so much that even when you have no make-up on, your hair isn’t made and your dress is ill-fitting, you still feel beautiful. Say it till you become content with yourself and the opinion of others no longer matter. Say it because even if others do, it would never matter until you do.
Say it because it is true.

Do not wait till someone else appreciates you to appreciate yourself. Do not wait till someone calls you beautiful to feel beautiful but beyond being beautiful, strive to be intelligent, compassionate, loving, honest, courageous and amazing.

Own your flaws because they are proof of your imperfection, be aware of and accept your beauty because that’s the beginning of love but most importantly remember that beauty doesn't guarantee happiness and sometimes it is the soul that needs a surgery.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Lessons I Have Learned In Life


Life is a process of becoming and un-becoming.

Our experiences daily sometimes help us become all we ought to be and sometimes help un-become everything we are not so we can become all we are meant to be.

Every experience serves a purpose and that is to teach us to do, act, speak or simply be better.
They are to serve as lessons to us.

I have had my fair share of lessons in life one of which is that no one is perfect. I am a bundle of imperfections and the best I can do is recognize my flaws and see how I can be better. I have made mistakes, said things I regretted and erred because the truth is I was not made to be perfect.

Another lesson I have learned is that everyone deserves grace when they err. I will err and I deserve to be accorded the grace to do better next time I must therefore accord others grace when they err.

I have made my fair share of mistakes some of which I could have avoided but another lesson I have learned is that every event whether good or bad is a learning experience. This is not to say we should willfully do what we ought not to do but when that happens, we should learn from it and move on.

Another lesson I have learned is that ‘the only person I have control over is me’ because people will do what they will, say what they will but how I respond is what matters.

I have learned also that people forget as easily as they remember. People tend to easily forget the good you did to them but will easily remember all your wrongs and there is nothing you can do about it.

I have learned that people may forgive but they never forget and may bring up a past mistake to get even or prove a point either intentionally or not.

I have learned more importantly though that because no one is capable of perfection and because everyone will err at some point the only one I can count on is God.

He alone is perfect, will not err and will forgive and forget.

I have learned that if we let God he restores us piece by piece and that there is nothing too dirty for him to make clean.


I have learned that life is a process of learning and that there are still many lessons to be learned.

Welcome To August!

Love is God ensuring your name is on the wake-up list and leading you into a new month.

Have you said thank you to him today?

Blessings and grace to you in this month of August.

Happy New Month!

Saturday, 1 July 2017

I Came Face To Face With Fear


Thieves broke into my house and there are certain things I now know about fear.
Fear is a Spirit.
It lurks around our neighbourhood but we would never really know it until we come face to face with it.
Fear opens you up to the reality that 'life na per head' and if fear visits you it could mess you up so much that even in the midst of people you feel alone and very afraid.
You can never really call yourself bold until you have come face to face with fear and survived.

I still recall the feeling of blood rushing to my head, my heart beating fast and my feet feeling cold when it gets dark.

There is paranoia too.

I would wake up at night and rush to my kitchen to grab a knife for self defence only to run back to my room to find my friend sleeping soundly on the bed.
I always forgot that I was not alone in the house, my friend had come to stay with me till I was strong enough to be alone yet I felt alone. I would wake up at midnight and stay awake till 4:30am.
I was getting less than two hours sleep and still had work to deal with.

When night came fear would lurk eyes with me daring me to sleep. Peace had fled in the presence of fear, those two can never live together.

It was crazy - I was going crazy.

I had to move to my friend's house cos I almost died the night I tried to sleep alone.
I was awake from 11pm till 6pm too scared to sleep and I realized I had not healed.

Let me state here that I'm the girl that was never afraid.
I could walk the most lonely road at midnight without the fear of being attacked.

I once was attacked in 2016 by seven armed men dressed in Army uniforms and face mask. They had jumped into my compound at past 1am and I was alone in a compound that had 6 apartments.
It was newly built and I was the first to move in. The house before mine was uncompleted and the one after was just at the foundation stage.

I was alone but I faced them confident that God would not let them harm me.
After the incident I stayed with friends for a few days because my Mum thought it was unsafe to be alone but I went home and continued living in my house until my neighbours moved in.

I always said to myself that the fear files have been deleted.

That was until I came face to face with fear again - this time I was ill prepared.

No wonder the Bible says in Proverbs 24:10 that "if you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small".
I fainted not because I didn't have strength but because my strength was SMALL.

It all started when thieves broke into my house a few weeks ago.
Not my compound - my house.
I had woken up after I dreamt that someone was trying to break into my house. I stayed awake, praying and worshipping for 2 hours then I dozed off for a few minutes and woke up again to see light in my kitchen.
I got up immediately grabbed my phones as I asked  'Who is there'? - like I expected the thieves to introduce themselves.
That was when I saw them, two boys rushing towards me, I began to scream for help and ran out fast to open my front door.
They had broken in through the back door but couldn't harm me or steal anything because God kept me awake.
They left but fear stayed back robbing me of sleep and peace.
Now everyone says I am dealing with the trauma and I nod in affirmation but deep in my heart I know 'TRAUMA' is just an English word that describes the smallness of my strength and my lack of Faith in a God never sleeps and always protects his own.

I am learning though to build my strength by renewing my mind. I am reading books, listening to messages and studying the word.
I cannot fully say I'm good to sleep alone yet heck the sound of the wind rustling startles me and blood rushes to my head when night comes but I'll keep working on my mind.

I came face to face with fear and learned that it is not just a feeling that can be shaken off but a Spirit that can only be overpowered by another Spirit. No wonder the Bible assures us that we have been given the Spirit of power, love and a sound mind in place of fear.
I came face to face with fear and I have chosen to rise and not bow.

July Is Here, Happy New Month!


So you have made it through six months already.

Whew!
It seemed only like yesterday when we said Happy New Year but 181 days have gone by.

We have been ushered into the second half of the year and if you are like me you are probably reviewing your goals for 2017.

As you work towards achieving your goals stay optimistic, stay grateful, stay in the fight, stay true to yourself, love hard, love yourself, stay prayed up and make great memories.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord...Welcome to July!

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Be That Street Sweeper


“This woman can sweep o, she’s so serious”. Ada’s voice jolted me to reality and I turned to look at the woman she was referring to.

The woman was bent down sweeping with so much vigour and one would think she was expecting to see gold on the sidewalk of the tarred road she was sweeping.

“Ha she can really sweep o, see the attention she is paying to the road” I retorted.
We both stood watching the woman and then I muttered out loud “sweep so well that even the angels will notice, even Ada now has noticed”, I was recalling the quote by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Do you know the quote”? I asked Ada and she shook her head in the negative all the while watching the woman who seemed not to notice us or the people walking hurriedly past her in different directions.

We were waiting for the driver that had gone in search of change for us.

“Imagine this man o, I asked him if he had change and he was nodding now he’s keeping us and time is going” it was Ada speaking and I responded “you clearly tried to avoid this o, I mean you asked him 3 times abi’?

“Ehen na” She sighed. 

We were on our way to work and were running late.

I turned again to look at the woman who swept like she was competing for an award. I spoke up again “she is sweeping as if people will not walk on the road again when in fact it will be sandy in a few minutes”.

Ada laughed and as we spoke the driver came with the money and we continued our journey to work but through the journey I kept muttering the lines from Martin Luther’s quote to myself “sweep so well that even the angels will notice”.

Isn’t that how we should do things and execute tasks? Shouldn’t we like that woman work with passion and the consciousness that our role no matter how small is important?

Whatever your work do it with love or leave it but if you cannot leave it then love it and give it your best.


Your work is only as inconsequential and unimportant as you see it and make it to be.

You are part of a system that would not function well without your full participation and as Rev. Martin Luther King said “If you are called to be a street sweeper, you should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. You should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, 'Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

TAILOR-MADE LOVE


“Oga please bring my cloth o, I don’t want you to sew them again. Haba for three months, is that not wickedness”?
“Madam wait let me explain...”
“Explain what? You always have an explanation, just bring the fabric for me”.
“So you have been ignoring my calls but called back when I used another number”.
I ended the call in anger, no it was frustration – I was frustrated at that time.

Have you ever loved someone and hated them at the same time? One minute you want them and the next you want nothing to do with them. Know the feeling? Ever been in a relationship like that? This is the relationship I have with my tailor. I am angry with him today but tomorrow when he delivers my clothes I forgive him and give him more fabric to make more clothes.
If you have dealt with tailors before then you will understand this kind of relationship.

I told myself that I was done with him – for good. This is not the first time I would be making this decision but I tried to mean it this time.

I turned to my friend sitting by me and expressed my frustration. “What kind of nonsense is this? Since March o and now this is June, will I have to beg for my own clothes when he is not making it for free?”
He tried to calm me down.

I was angry because I had tried to call my tailor about the clothes but he ignored my calls and then when I tried to call with another number he picked up and even called back after I ended the call. That was all I needed to know that he intentionally ignored my calls.
He called me again afterwards but I ignored and then he sends a message that he would deliver my clothes the next week.

I was seething with anger and promised myself that I would never deal with him again.
The next week comes and he brings my clothes – very well made and as I held them in my hands all the anger I felt seemed to fly out of the window.
He apologized as I looked lovingly at the clothes but I paid little attention to him.
I finally put down my clothes and expressed my displeasure at the delay in delivery.
Then he dropped the bomb, “Madam I will be relocating to Lagos o, in fact by next month I will be gone”.
Say what? I tried to control my surprise as I asked him why. He explained and I tried to encourage him to go ahead…”sometimes God makes us uncomfortable just to push us to something better, just make sure you pray about it”.
Before he left I brought other fabrics I had been keeping and we picked styles for them.
As he left I thought about the stress of finding a new good tailor...choi! Minutes ago I wanted nothing to do with him and now I didn't want him to leave.

I hope he delivers before he leaves for Lagos because that would mean another round of arguments that would again result in me vowing not to work with him and when he delivers my clothes, I would change my mind and the cycle will continue.

Oh well…I guess there will always be that one person you hate to love and love to hate. You vow not to communicate with them when they offend you but like a deer panting for water, you find yourself going back again.

Ever had a love like that?


For me it’s my tailor…I guess ours is a love that’s been ‘tailor-made’ just for us.

Who Send Me - My Jasmine Jollof Experience


I like to play safe. I find what works for me and stick with it.

I wear pink or red lipstick only, eat what I know or seems familiar at restaurants, wear colours that I’m comfortable with and generally don’t take too many risks - I simply try tom avoid stories that touch.
I used to think it was boring but recently I had an experience that made me resolve to always stick with the familiar.


I had gone to the city mall to buy groceries, toiletries, food stuff and on my list was rice. I couldn't get the brand I am used to at the mall so I proceeded to another Supermarket in hopes that I would get the 'familiar' brand.
I went to the supermarket in search of Rice but couldn't also find the brand I wanted so I opted for a name that seemed familiar too. What I failed to see or simply missed because I didn't pay attention was the part that read 'Perfumed Thai Jasmine' Rice.
Had I known I would have gone to the open market instead...sigh!

When I got the cash point and the teller told me the price of the rice it was double what I was used to paying for 5kg of Rice and I quickly snatched it from her hand. I took a proper look at the bag again to be sure it was the same rice I was being billed for but because each time I go to the market the price of things seem to have doubled - no thanks to the recession, I grudgingly paid.
I packed the Rice with the other items I bought and headed home.
Let me mention here that I like Rice and can eat Rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner so maybe love is a more apt word.

I LOVE RICE!

I got home, arranged everything I got and as I poured my Rice in my Rice bucket I noticed that the colour was unusually white but I thought it didn't matter so I shrugged it off.
Then morning came and I set out to cook Jollof Rice which was to serve as lunch at work.
When I first parboiled it I saw it was unusually starchy and very white – why should rice be so white?
 
At that point I decided to Google 'Jasmine rice' - that was when I realized there was more to 'Perfumed Thai Jasmine' rice than I thought - who send me?
It was really different from regular parboiled rice and looked sticky even in pictures where it was served with chop sticks. Why didn’t I ask at the store before paying? Maybe that’s why it was double the price I usually pay.
I reduced the amount of water I used in cooking it but that didn't help matters as my coveted Jollof Rice came out super sticky with a funny scent – did I mention that it was ‘perfumed’ Jasmine rice?
I packed lunch all the same for my friend and me. When it was time to eat I warned her that the rice was 'special' and unlike regular rice.
After 2 spoons she remarked that the rice was sticky and tasted funny.
'Babe this rice is meant to be sweet o, you prepared it well but this your special rice is not good for Jollof' she said.
I reminded her that it was special but after she complained again, I had to open up to her that it was 'Jasmine' rice and I had no idea it would turn out the way it did.
“Which one is Jasmine rice again? You mean Basmati?” She asked again.
“Babe it’s Jasmine o, never even heard of it before but let's just try to eat it for my sake so the food wouldn't go to waste”.
For where, we couldn't o. After several spoons we dumped my 'special' rice.
When I got home I packed the ‘Perfumed Jasmine’ rice in a bag.
I headed out to buy rice again and when I saw perfumed on some bags I didn’t even wait to see if it was Jasmine or Jazzman, I ran fast. Who wants to pay double for what they wouldn’t eat?
I finally got my regular white rice and now I am looking for anyone that wants Jasmine rice. If you want kindly let me know – it’s yours.

I have learned my lesson and next time I’ll stick with what I know.



If Only You Would Just Read This



I watched as she battled with the door trying to open it. She pushed, pulled, hit herself against it and looked around for anyone to help her. I made to get up to go help her but sat back again.
She pulled again and pushed but the door wouldn't give way.

I was seated in the office conference room in a broadcast training session with other colleagues and as I watched the lady struggle to open the door, my mind wandered.
I thought about the countless times my boss had complained about guests who almost damage that particular door because they are unaware that it is automated.
It is the door that leads to the live studios as such guests who come in for interviews or programmes have to pass through that door but it is always a challenge.

So after deliberations and upon his recommendation, I personally typed and printed the instruction on the door still that hasn't stopped people from trying to damage the door - because they simply wouldn't pause to read.

I watched the lady keenly hoping she would see the instruction clearly posted on the door on how to open it.
She searched frantically with her eyes again for anyone to help her and just as I made to stand up and walk up to her, I saw her eyes focused on the instruction posted on the door "PRESS THE WHITE SWITCH TO OPEN THE DOOR".
The white switch that she needed for the door to be opened was just by the side of the door.

She pressed it and the door opened.

Then I sat back again.
It is the thing said about the African that "if you want to hide something from a black man, put it in a book".
Times are fast changing though and so is the stereotype about Africans and reading but a large number of people still do not read even the simplest instructions.

Sometimes the answer to the challenge we face is staring us right in the face but we don't see because we do not read.
Knowledge is power and this statement is corroborated by the verse of scripture that says "my people are destroyed from a lack of knowledge" - Hosea 4:6.

Think of the many mistakes you could have avoided if you had simply opened your eyes to read.
Some people even fill out forms and sign documents without reading the instructions written.
Think of the many opportunities you may have lost because you simply didn't stop to read.

The ability to read in my opinion is one of the greatest skills anyone can have but that skill would only be meaningful when put to use.

So pick a book today and take time to read signs and instructions as often as possible.

Who knows what door reading will open for you like it did for the lady in my office? As Rachel Anders said "the journey of a lifetime begins with the turning of a page".

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Dear Mama, Happy Mother's Day

"This tiny thing what does she know, Madam Common Entrance Examination is not for babies and sucklings".

"Oga it's your son that's a suckling. Forget her size, my daughter will beat your son anyday in any exam".

That was Mummy speaking in my defense.

It was a Saturday morning in 1998, the day of the Common Entrance Examination for Primary School students. We were at Urhobo College in Effurun, Delta State the venue of the exam and there were hundreds of students from different Primary schools, some of whom were accompanied by their parents.

We were waiting to be ushered into the exam hall and I sat by Mummy alongside other parents in a sheltered space on the school's premises.
As we waited, parents conversed about different issues and that was when a certain Father who had brought his son for  the exams sighted me sitting by Mummy. He was a popular TV Presenter and wanted to know if I was writing or if I accompanied my brother who was also writing on that day and when Mummy told him I was writing he scoffed and told her to let me stay home as the exams wasn't for babies.

Mummy isn't one to take issues about her children lying low and she shushed everyone who thought they had an opinion about my ability to pass the exam.

I wouldn't blame them though. I was barely 8 years old, in Primary 4 and was small, tiny in fact but Mummy always reminded me that my size wasn't the determinant of my abilities. "You are a Queen with a strong Spirit", she would say.

We wrote the Common Entrance Examination and I was the second best from my school, defeating even the Primary 6 students.

On the day I was to write the entrance examination for the Secondary school I was to attend - Fieldcrest International High School, the Vice Principal who was Mummy's customer (she sold fabrics) called her aside and advised her to let only my brother write as I was too young and wouldn't scale through the Exam and rigorous Interview process.

Mummy responded that if my brother could write then nothing would stop me, "just try her and see" she said with a smile.
I wrote the exams and after the Interview with the Principal and other staff, I was carried and cheered by the staff to the reception area where parents and other candidates were waiting. Everyone wanted to know whose daughter I was - I still see the glow on Mummy's face as she sang my praises.

At times when Mummy had to choose between a son or daughter for any task or event, she picked the more qualified person and always reminded us that male or female we all had equal abilities and when I would go report any of my siblings to her after a squabble she would remind me (anyone of us in fact) that an outsider wouldn't offend me like my siblings would, only those we love can really hurt us.

It's Mother's day today and Mama is still dishing advise and cheering me on to great things. I think of you Queen Igho Imonirhua and I know I can never really repay you for always putting my love on top.

As I always say, I owe you success and the best Son In-law.

I hope to be the kind of Mummy you are to my children.

I love you Mama, Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, 11 March 2017

His Ride or Die Chic

Ajiri made to walk away and as expected Esiri pulled her hair yelling at her for walking out on him. Then she felt his palms as they landed on her cheeks, he pushed her against the wall crying and asking why she always tempted him and made him hurt her against his will. She cried too and made to apologize but he hit her again and pushed her to the floor, kicking her stomach. Ajiri clutched her stomach in pain.

She didn't blame him. She knew he never intended to hurt her, he loved her too much.

This was what she told her Mother the time she had to be admitted after Esiri threw a flower vase at her. He had not meant to hurt her. He was cleaning the vase and they were arguing when he threw it at her because she raised her voice at him.

Against her family's insistence she married him.

Even when her friends told her Esiri needed help she told them no one else could love and understand him like she did, he needed her. They had been through a lot together and she was his ride or die chic.
Esiri told her he needed her after every fight and this time as he kept kicking her in the stomach she reminded herself that he would soon get back to his senses and he would apologize.
He would buy her an expensive gift, maybe Jewelery or a car like he did eight months ago, or tickets for a romantic getaway as he had done severally or dinner at an exotic restaurant.

Esiri was a good man and a great Father but he had an uncontrollable temper.
Ajiri always told herself it wasn't his fault as he grew up with an abusive Father and a Mother that was barely there because she had to fend for the family. He only needed to be loved and understood.

She was jolted to reality as Esiri pulled her into the bathroom - he had never done this before.

She made to get away but he pushed her into the bath tub and turned on the shower knob.
The water pouring on her body made it difficult to breathe or scream, she was struggling and as she made to break free he hit her harder crying that she delighted in bringing out the worst in him even though she knew he loved her too much to hurt her intentionally.

She wanted to tell him that this was worse than anything he had done before and that Ovie their 6 year old son may walk in on them but as she opened her mouth, water from the shower poured in. She cried as she thought of her son who had watched his father abuse her severally but she told herself he was too young to understand that his father didn't mean any harm. Someday when he is older, she would tell him his father didn't intend to hurt her, he only needed to be loved and understood.

She waited for Esiri to stop hitting her but he continued.

Then she thought about the conversation that riled him up. She had told him that she wanted to accept the offer from her company to go start up a new branch in another state. She only had to work from Monday till Thursday and she would come home on Thursday evening and leave on Sunday afternoon. It was a 3 hour drive to her new base but he thought her being away would make it harder for them to have another baby. They had been trying to have another baby and she had lost two pregnancies from Esiri's beating.

As they argued, she reminded him of the pregnancies she had lost through no fault of hers and made to walk away. That was the beginning of yet another outburst of uncontrollable temper. Esiri pulled her back and pounced on her.

Esiri had by now stopped in his rage and at this point she felt herself passing out.

The liquid on her body was a mixture of water and blood.

She managed to open her eyes.
Her little boy Ovie was standing by the bath tub.
She heard him say faintly "Mummy you are bleeding, did Daddy hurt you again"?
She made to give him her usual response that Daddy meant no harm but she winced in pain as Ovie shook her and kept calling "Mummy, Mummy".

Everything seemed to black out and all was still.

She had become unconscious.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

The Tired Player

"Are you serious"? It was Tony speaking as he looked at Mark askance.
"Yes Bro, I'm getting married", Mark responded and then added "not now though, should be in a few months".

Mark's eyes lit up as he spoke to his friends Efe, Tony, Femi and Kelvin about the girl he had met about a month ago and how special she was. With her he was really happy and he only needed a few more months to convince her that he was good enough for her.

They clinked glasses and hailed him.

Efe who was all smiles turned to his right hand side and mockingly exclaimed "hey man, playa, when is it gonna be your turn"? He was referring to Kelvin who was just gulping from his glass.
Femi interjected "Kelvin isn't ready to quit the game, the baddest of them all".

They laughed some more, Kelvin laughed too but deep inside he wished they knew.
He was tired.
He had been the bad boy but deep inside he craved love too.

He looked at the guys, his friends from school Efe, Femi, Tony and Mark. The others were married and now Mark would be getting married but he didn't even have a relationship.

"Her name is Tara" Mark said when Tony asked the name of the girl.
"Tara"? Kelvin asked,
"Yes, you should meet her. She's a sweet girl"? Mark responded.

Kelvin took a sip from his glass as he thought again about the Tara he knew.
They dated briefly and broke up.
They tried again and were on and off for a while before she left.
He thought about the day he told her he wasn't ready to commit to a relationship.
She had smiled and told him it was alright even though they both knew it wasn't.
He had not contacted her since.
Tara was a spirited and unforgettable girl.
He smiled as he realized that he had missed her.

He decided that he would be the man he should have been about a year ago when he first met her.

He picked up his phone, excused himself from his friends, walked to his car and dialed her number.
It rang and her voice came on. "Kelvin...good evening"
"Hello Tara, how are you. It's been quite a while"? he responded ,
"I'm good. What's the special occasion that has made you call me"?
"We need to talk, Tara I have missed you". He said
"Not this time Kelv"
"Why"? He asked
"this off and on thing can't continue anymore" She responded
"I want us to work something out...you are a great girl Tara" Kelvin said.
She was silent for a few seconds before she spoke "I met a guy Kelv and he's been great so far"? Kelvin's heart skipped and began beating fast as she said the words but he managed to form the words, "So you are in a relationship, wo-wow in just 5 weeks, he must be something" he retorted
"He is something" she said, "Mark. That's his name".
"Mark"? Kelvin asked
"Yes" she said and added "I have a call coming in, I appreciate your call but I need to take this call. Maybe we can speak some other time"?

As the call ended Kelvin turned to look at Mark his friend who had gotten up with his phone pressed to his ear.
Mark was smiling widely and Kelvin knew who he was talking to.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Today She Is The Tired SuperWoman

She takes a deep breath and exhales. She smiles as she tells herself she should do this more often - inhale and exhale. It is the first time she is smiling truly since the day began.

She smiled in the morning when she took selfies with colleagues but that was for the Camera, she smiled also as she walked and the compliments about her looks reeled out of people's mouths but that was just an act of courtesy, she smiled too at Lunch time when a colleague came to her table with supposed 'hot' gist about irrelevant gossip but that was just to act interested in the 'booooooring' talk and she smiled also when her 'self acclaimed confused' boyfriend sent her a text 'hey beautiful, hawa you', she smiled because she relished the fact that he remembered to send a text even if she knew in her heart that it meant nothing and he probably sent same to other girls - she smiled still.

Now the day is ending and she is home.

She walks to the fridge, pours herself a glass of fruit juice and as she walks to the kitchen her eyes catch the frame on the wall of her dining room. The words come out to her 'a strong Woman wears her pain like a Stiletto and smiles even when all she wants to do is cry. No matter how much it hurts, all you see is beauty' - she is that woman.

The one who smiles even when she feels like crying, the one whose makeup is always well done and who is always dressed to the nines. The one who reminds the other girls to get their act together and not depend on anyone else, the one who sings with passion in the midst of adversity - she is the one, the 'strong' woman.

Today though she is not that strong Woman, today she is the 'Tired Woman'.

The one that is tired of acting tough even when she is broken inside, the one that is tired of being there for everyone else but has no one to lean on, the one that is tired of cheering others on but has to encourage herself when she feels demotivated, the one that is tired of wearing her pain like a Stiletto and smiling when all she wants to do is cry, Miss Fix it, the one that is tired of singing in the midst of adversity - today she is the tired woman that wants to be held as she let her tears flow freely, she is the woman that is tired of tolerating and putting up with a 'seemingly confused' man whose actions never matched his words, she is the woman that wants to be given a foot rub and an assurance that she will never walk alone, today she wants to be cheered, today she simply wants to be a girl - tender and vulnerable without fear of being taken for granted.

She smiles again as she recalls the abuse she suffered in the hands of her Aunt who took her in when her Mum who had remarried after a divorce with her Father, told her she couldn't bring her in to live with her new husband as she wanted to protect her marriage. Her Aunt never failed to remind her that she was a liability whom no one wanted. She recalls also having to menial work to survive in school and getting into a relationship with the first guy that made her feel loved - How was she to know he was just a loser on heat? He ripped her clothes, body, heart, self esteem and the resultant heart break almost ripped her life but she survived.

She smiles again as she recalls all she went through till she got her job and started her business - doing interior decor. Through it all she learned dependence and reliance on God.

She learned also to bottle her emotions and look out for herself in a 'dog eat dog' world. She learned to wear her pain like a Stiletto and smile when all she wants to do is cry.

Today though she is tired of being strong.
She walks into her Kitchen and makes to turn on the Gas cooker to prepare dinner but she turns it off again.
Today she wouldn't cook dinner, she will go get her favourite Burger and a bowl of Ice cream. She will indulge and not bother about calories or fat.

Afterwards she will soak herself in her bath tub and then crawl into bed to watch her favourite TV show till she falls asleep. Today she will drop the strong woman garb and just breathe - she will pick it up again tomorrow but today Superwoman needs to take a back seat, for now she is a tired woman who needs a break from being strong.

Feminism And The Increase In Divorce Rate

"I am a Feminist but also a humanist" is always my response when colleagues come to me about Feminism talk.
I have colleagues who are quick to call my attention to gender based issues, 'ehen Okiemute your fellow feminists have started o, look at this one tweeting that she will not change her surname when she gets married' is an example of the Feminism conversation starter.
I would respond that I am a humanist and believe in equal treatment of both sexes while still retaining some traditional values.
I will teach both my sons and daughters to do house chores and not make anyone feel superior to the other. I will teach my sons to be chivalrous and to not bottle up their emotions in the name of 'being a man'. I will teach my daughters to accept gestures of chivalry without developing a sense of entitlement. I will teach my sons and daughters to cook because it is a survival skill needed by everyone - hunger knows no gender.

I am a Feminist but also a Christian and therefore believe that the man is the head of the home because the Bible tells me so. I will teach my children this.

I believe in marriage for better or worse unless there's a threat to life.

I read a few minutes ago on a blog that a court has ended the 17 year old marriage of a popular Nigerian Actor on the grounds of infidelity and abuse. I read comments on the story too and most people are of the opinion that women are coming into their own and no longer willing to 'die just to save face and be called Mrs'. Some others think it's a shame that women are no longer willing to fight for their marriages and that Feminism is the reason why marriages are failing as women now think themselves equal to men.

Sigh! Were women created inferior to men?

I often get into arguments with colleagues about the roles of a Wife and a husband in the home. Especially because I have female colleagues who say they will never cook for a man because they were not born to slave in the kitchen. At such times you would see the guys boiling as they argue about how these women will not 'find a man to marry them'..."nonesense women deceiving themselves in the name of Feminism".

My response at such times is "to each his own, besides a couple should reach an agreement on how their home will be run before they consummate their union".

I also once asked a Female colleague, "so who will feed you, your husband and children"? That isn't my business though as I do not think cooking alone will guarantee the success of a marriage.

So to the issue of Feminism causing an increase in divorce rates, here's my opinion which is simply what it is 'my opinion'.

I do not think Feminism is the reason for failed marriages rather it's cluelessness on the part of a couple on how to make their marriage work that leads to breakup. Cluelessness will result in many things viz: a man forgetting he is the head and therefore has been entrusted with the responsibility of protecting his family, a couple letting the pressure and challenges of living daily making them forget that the promise they made is to each other and no one else, a couple forgetting that God is the author of marriage and is therefore the only one that can help them succeed in it.

I meet a lot of young men whose mentality leave me feeling sorry for the women they will get married to and of course I have met girls that leave me mouth agape at the way they think.

We live in a 'me first' society where people love with an agenda. We live in a society where Women are paranoid as a result of being oppressed for too long. We live in a society where Men want to get married and still live as though they are single. We live in a society where Women cry for equality yet will only date Men who they think 'can afford them' - talk about being delusional. Are women now a commodity to be afforded?

I do not think Feminism is responsible for the rise in divorce rates rather it's a decline in Men who refuse to be swayed by culture but chose to love their wives as Christ loved the Church and gave himself for her. A decline in women who would respect their husbands even when they don't feel like it. A decline in morals and appreciation of family & the sanctity of marriage. An increase in Men who have declared war against Women who clamour for equal treatment and an increase in Women who have declared war against men and inevitably themselves in the name of being feminists is in my opinion the cause of an increase in the rate of divorce.

This Is To Every Woman I Know



Arise little girl, rise up!
Rise from your slumber little one, the woman in you beckons.
Rise up girl and March on, into your destiny, set a trail and others will follow.
Rise up girl, you were created for better things, great exploits, big dreams and a better place.
You were created to climb hills, move mountains, slay dragons and conquer territories.
Rise up little girl, your destiny awaits you…Rise up darling, sleep no more.

Rise up Heroine, grow into the woman you are meant to be.
Enough of settling for crumbs, a larger portion and a better day awaits you.
Rise up girl, there is a battle to be won.
The baton has been passed and now it’s your turn.
Stand up girl, the voices of heroines beckon and matriarchs long gone rely on you.
Rise up girl, too much has been deposited in you and you cannot afford to be complacent.
It’s a tough world but you can take it on.
Rise up Soldier, you have all you need to win this fight.

Rise up sister, let your voice be heard!
You were not meant to be lost in the multitude.
Find your voice, the world will listen if you would only speak up.
Rise up girl, stand up and cower no more in a corner.
Rise up, let your light shine through and bless the world with the gift of you.
Rise up and settle no more for smallness…you are more than what you think.
You are a Heroine, a Goddess, a Queen, a Warrior, a Soldier and a Light in a world so dark and chaotic.
You are ‘the’ breath of fresh air girl…this is your identity.
Rise up and win girl, rise up for the sake of the little ones coming behind you.
Rise up girl, you are she who Kings and Poets past wrote about.
You are she who Princes ought to stand up for, you are the one to give hope to generations.

Rise up Queen, you were born for this.
Stand tall and proud, you were born to win this fight.
Rise up Goddess, you are the joy of nations.
Rise up even if you fall, your scars will be a reminder of battles won.
Rise up and let the world watch in awe as you wear your pain with grace.
Stand up and be the example for your sons and daughters.
Rise up darling, risk it all and leave your footprints on the sands of time.
Arise Warrior Woman, strut your stuff, do your best, fight and win… It’s a command!

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Okiemute Don't Kill Ya Self - Lessons I Learned From Playing Football

"Eh, I'm tired o. Please I can't continue anymore, abeg abeg I cannot kill myself". That was me screaming as I laid on a cement block by the side of the space that served as our Football field.

I washed my face with water and drank a little but couldn't swallow so I spat it out. My head throbbed and spinned as I sat up. 'No wonder Footballers get paid millions, ha! This thing is not easy at all' I exclaimed again to my colleagues who laughed and had to take a break because of me.

All I wanted to do was sleep off right there on the field - the Football field.
I had gone to play Football with some colleagues after putting it off for weeks. I really didn't intend to play Football o, what I wanted to do was just run on the treadmill, do sit ups and be fit but a colleague of mine suggested that I join other colleagues for a game of Football and that was how I found myself on the field.

I left my house early this Saturday morning all geared up for the game, arrived the office complex where we were to play Football and started off by jogging round the field ten times at the advice of a colleague.
You should have seen me panting as I counted 5,6,7, 8...and jogged round, I couldn't wait for 10 to come. I almost decided against playing after my jogging because I was sure I had lost all the weight, in fact I could literally feel my abs forming.

My colleague spurred me on and we started the game. Now I'm sure the last time I played Football was 15 or 20 years ago as a child with my brothers and so as I kicked the ball I almost flew off the ground with it.
I felt a sharp pain in my toes..."choi, choi, choi, Okiemute are you sure you want to continue"? I asked myself and then looked at the others (there were 4 of us, 2 males and 2 females and we formed a team of a guy and a girl each), and decided to brace up.
I kicked again and felt the pain.
I had to touch the ball to be sure it wasn't made of rock, or was it my shoes - they were plain black sneakers - maybe they were not built for Football.
I almost protested but kept shut and watched the others, I saw them kick with the side of their foot and followed suit, this time it didn't hurt like before.

We carried on, running, kicking, scoring...ah yes o I scored a goal, I felt proud and was convinced that if I could try playing more I would be more than a Jersey wearing Football fan. "Who knows? I may play for Nigeria someday"...the voice of my team mate jolted me back to reality "Okiemute the ball"! Alas! It was too late, the other team had scored as I was busy dreaming about playing for Nigeria.

Sigh!

I got back in the game played for a few more minutes, hi-fiving my team mate each time we (he) scored.
We carried on with our game until my body told me for the final time that it would fall on the ground and there was nothing anyone would do if I didn't stop to rest. That was when I threw my hands up, screaming as I staggered to the side of our field 'Eh, I'm tired o. Please I can't continue anymore, abeg abeg I cannot kill myself'.

The others had to take a break as they laughed, but I didn't care - I just told myself "Okiemute don't kill ya self, it's just Football and there's no trophy to be won. No crowd will boo you and no President will order your arrest because you didn't win even a Bronze medal, ehen".

My colleague's voice jolted me back to reality, "let's try again, 2 more goals and we will be done".
I just looked at him "na only you waka come o, my body wants to rest" but then my team mate motioned to me, "just stand by the goal post and stop the ball, I'll do the rest of the work".
I looked at him and nodded as I felt strength sipping in. I was helped up to my feet and we got back on the field.

We played - okay I  didn't really play, just stood by the goal post to stop the ball and occasionally throwing and passing it on to my teammate, I also ran into the field a few times.

He scores the 2 goals needed to end the game and that was how we won - I hi-fived him and did my victory dance.

We won 6 - 4, but more importantly I learned valuable lessons.

Firstly, we won not just because we played well but because my teammate refused to give up even when I decided that I was too tired to go on. He simply asked that I stay behind and stop the ball while he fought and tackled the others - that's a valuable lesson about team playing. A good player needs the support of his team mate.

Secondly, I also learned about not just playing to win but enjoying the experience not because winning is not good but it's who you become in the process that matters more. At first I wanted to score goals and ended up prancing up and down ready to knock down my opponents but I got exhausted and decided to just enjoy the game. I enjoyed the game and also won.

Thirdly, don't just win for the sake of winning. I played because I wanted to be fit and being fit would make me healthier, a lot more productive, active and valuable.

Fourthly, don't be so focused on winning that you forget everything else including relationships with yourself and others. We all occasionally joked even as we played and it was an opponent that helped me up to my feet when I decided I was too tired to play.

Lastly, above all else - WIN! Nothing beats the sensation of victory no matter how little. Even when you get tired, never lose focus. I cheered my teammate on and urged him to "score that goal man" even though I was tired.

And we won!

But more than winning I burned enough calories in the process and treated myself to Akara and Custard for breakfast...I hope though that the deep fried Akara doesn't ruin my efforts at burning calories.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

When A Guy Wouldn't Say What He Wants


’Why you dey ask me if I love you afterall the things wey I don do? You suppose know by now’… these are lyrics from Bez Idakula’s song ‘You suppose know’ which I am currently listening to and I must confess that it’s one song I never get tired of listening to.

I love the happy feel of the song and it also gets me feeling mushy…even now I am smiling ‘aww, what a beautiful thing to be loved and desired’.

Yes it’s a beautiful thing to be desired but how can one tell when one is desired?

Let me rephrase, how do I know when a man likes me if he doesn’t say it?

 And please don’t tell me you would know by his actions even when he doesn’t say it. Or haven’t you seen guys who act all lovey dovey with you only to deny when you ask if they have feelings?

Mbok, if you would not say what you feel for me and want from me, I will not bother about trying to decipher –I don’t do sign language or erm erm…action language.

I almost tried it once and thank God I asked early if not now how dem shoot bird and im mama fly leave am naim we for dey talk now.

I had an experience recently with a former friend who thought I was supposed to just know I am his girlfriend by his actions.

His exact words were ‘if you were not my girlfriend why would I be doing the things I have done’. By the way the things he referred to are evening outings, movies and him cooking dinner o – so don’t go thinking I spent his money a la Naija girl style.

I looked at him askance ‘bros we never discussed relationship na, am I supposed to read your mind’, and he was offended.

Did I do wrong?

I believe men are capable of actively chasing a woman they want and that includes telling her without mincing words that they want a relationship.

If he does not say he wants a relationship and you assume from his actions that you are in a relationship because of his actions then don’t be surprised when he reminds that he promised you nothing when you clamour for commitment. I interact with enough males – friends, colleagues – to know this.

I wonder though why some guys wouldn’t say what they feel. Maybe it’s the fear of rejection or maybe the fear of commitment. Whatever it is, it reeks of a lack of seriousness and immaturity when a man wouldn’t admit his feelings and expectations expecting a girl to just know.

Some may argue that a guy could say what he thinks a girl wants to hear even if it’s a lie but then you would at least know he said he wanted a relationship and it wasn’t you assuming.
I am not a man and may not understand certain things, so…

Anyway Bez is still singing in the remix where he featured Yemi Alade and as I enjoy this song I will remind myself that if a man wouldn’t be straightforward about his feelings and expectations then he can’t be trusted or taken seriously.

Gracias!


Note To Self - Give Yourself A Chance



The picture above is powerful and captures the reality for some of us. We stay fixated on what we see and forget that it's the invisible roots that help us stand firmly and withstand life's storms.

So I had a conversation with a dear friend today and he noted on how clever and smart I am. I chuckled and retorted thus ‘everyone keeps telling me I am smart and this is not to put myself down, but I expect results of my supposed smartness’

He responded that even if I believed it or not I am smart and that sometimes results take time – results take time.

This has been ringing in my head and I have had to say it to myself results take time.

I know I am smart but it’s easy to question that sometimes because of my expectations.

I remember all the times I have beaten myself up for not having achieved the goals I set for myself and while it is good sometimes, it usually leaves me feeling dissatisfied.

Dissatisfaction and discontent are powerful tools and catalysts for change and sometimes helps us question the rightness of the path we are on but sometimes we need to remind ourselves that results take time even when we are on the right path.

When a tree is planted it would not bear fruits until the time is right even if you feed it with the best fertilizer. The tree may grow tall in a week but fruits will only come ‘at the right time, in due season’.

After conception a mother has to wait nine (9) months for her baby to be born and if the baby is born before the term is completed it would be termed ‘premature’ and even when the baby is born it will need time to sit, crawl, stand, walk and run because results take time.

So what do you do while you await results?

You keep giving your best, keep at what you do, learn, get better and have faith.

Like God told the Israelites while they were on exile in Babylon, Jeremiah 29: 4 – 7, 10 – 11:
“So says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the captives whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon, ‘Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there and do not decrease [in number]. Seek peace and well-being for the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its peace (well-being) you will have peace.’ 
10 “For thus says the Lord, ‘When seventy years [of exile] have been completed for Babylon, I will visit (inspect) you and keep My good promise to you, to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster to give you a future and a hope."
Success is not always in what we see, the mental battles you win and the courage to face life and not give up is also success.

As Mary Anne Radmacher said “Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, 'I will try again tomorrow.”

So give yourself a chance, enjoy the journey, keep trying and remember that everything good will come because results take time.

Note To Myself - Just Do It


After fiddling with the keyboard of my computer for minutes, I finally decided to write this down not because I don’t have thoughts to share but because I just can’t seem to be able put my thoughts to words.

So here I am writing about the fact that I am fiddling with my keyboard……………………

I have to admit that as much I would love to write more often I am unable to because of so many activities and thoughts that compete for my time – work, work, work and more work.

I mean I would get this great idea and do a one liner/sentence with a decision to write a full article later but at those times I imagine the voice in my head sneering and saying ‘yimu, na today’? ‘How many untouched and incomplete articles do you have?’

And in all honesty I wonder why I can’t write as often as I want or ought to.

Maybe I am not as passionate about this as I thought, I mean passion should trump everything else. Or maybe it’s the discipline that I lack – I think that’s it…discipline.

Why else would I decide to do something and not do it?

Wait, there’s a word for it in the dictionary – it’s called ‘procrastination’. Yes that is it, procrastination that great thief of time has made me not write as often as I would love to.

But who is to blame seeing as procrastination is not a person. Who do I blame for not doing what I ought to do? Work? But I don’t work 24 hours in a day. So? It could be laziness or maybe the challenges of living in this great country Nigeria saps me of inspiration. Sigh! That’s a story for another day.

I could go on and on about why I don’t write as often as I should but that wouldn’t help – I mean who excuse epp?

So I will just try to find passion anyhow, discipline myself – say something like no dinner for me till I write when I should, as if I wouldn’t eat when hunger pangs start – and just write no matter what.
Even if it’s about my neighbour’s dogs that wouldn’t let me sleep sometimes or the undergraduates I sometimes conduct Internship tests for that spell ‘Governor’ as ‘Govonor’ and write ‘Nigeria’ as ‘Naija’ on their test scripts, or even about the fact that the price of goods seem to increase by 200% each time I go to the market that I don’t even bother writing down prices on my shopping list anymore or maybe about the ‘when you go marry’ question that I am greeted with often or even about the fact that I can’t seem to find the inspiration to write when I should.

 I will just write…at all at all naim bad pass as my Warri people would say.

Wow! I have succeeded in writing about not being able to write – there’s hope then.

So going forward I would no longer procrastinate expecting my future self to be more disciplined than my present self.

I will just do it, so expect even the unexpected from me, all na writing, abi no be so?

Xoxo.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

This New Year 2017 I Plan To Be More Romantic


I picked up a pen and made to add being more romantic to my list of goals for 2017. 
But does that even make sense? Who makes being romantic a goal? *side eyes at me*

I sat down and replayed the conversation that I had with a dear friend in my head.
The words "you are not romantic and it's not good for a woman" reverberated in my head as I thought of ways to be "more romantic".

Then I thought to myself, "How dare he say that? He's not even my boyfriend for Christ's sake so why should I act romantic with a man I am not in a relationship with?"
"How dare he judge me? Besides aren't men supposed to be the initiators in relationships?"
The voice in my head cut in again,
"why didn't you say that to him while he was still here or you think there's an iota of truth in what he said?"

The questions and conversations in my head just went on and on.

This romance thing sef, are there people born naturally romantic? Cos some of us are too practical for the mushy stuff.

In case you are wondering what all this is about, here's what happened...
I was having a simple and friendly conversation with a friend who had come to see me. As he made to leave, I saw him off to his car and as we made small talk with me leaning against his car he blurted out the words "you are not romantic and it's not good for a woman".
I retorted by asking why he said that and he listed the qualities that makes one "romantic/emotional". Our conversation went on till he left.

That was when the conversation in my head started.
Now I know I may be taking this too seriously but truth is it's not the first time someone wouldn't be saying this to me so maybe they see something I am not seeing and maybe I need to make corrections.
"So how do I become more romantic?"

I proceeded to write a list of romantic things to do but all that came to my mind would probably make any man scared. I mean how would you as a guy react to a girl you are not in a relationship with sending you flowers? Or calling several times a day just because I'm thinking of you? Or asking you to go to the movies? Or going out for a burger or pizza or to do Karaoke? Or any other fun activity?
Talk about the recipe for disaster.

Assuming these are too far fetched and I chose to tow my friend's line of how romance works, I can't imagine being all over a man in the name of showering him with love and attention.
And then, aren't all these things men initiate?
I asked that question severally until a phrase dropped in my heart " from the beginning it was not so".
Those were Christ's words when he was asked about divorce and I wondered what that had to do with the questions about romance in my head.

I dropped my pen in frustration...maybe I'm taking this thing too seriously, I cannot come and go and kee myself.
I proceeded to continue the book I'm currently reading by Joshua Harris 'boy meets girl: say hello to courtship' and there I got it from the 7th chapter - 'If boys would be men, would girls be ladies'.
I had a eureka moment and answers to my questions on being more romantic.
Joshua in simple words wrote about the the roles men and women ought to play in relationships - a man should be the initiator and not take a passive, couch-potato stance in a relationship.

This hit home - from the beginning it was not so.

There are roles men ought to play in a relationship and there are roles for women too, so maybe I am not the unromantic one, maybe boys no longer know how to be men or simply refuse to be men as such there's no gesture of romance for me to respond to.

Talking about romance also, the opinion I have gotten of what romance is seems warped.
A man wants my body and sees it as romance when he hasn't even touched my mind. What happened to stimulating conversations?
He wants me moaning in ecstasy under him when he doesn't even know what makes me laugh, sober or fired up.

So you see, the romance thing isn't entirely my fault. These boys wouldn't put in work and maybe it's because girls these days have become aggressive and taken up the role of the initiator.

But I think I too could start being romantic as well - so I will start by making plans and taking notes of romantic things to do - for me.

I will make an effort at being romantic but I will begin with me.