Archive - December 2016

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Christmas Chronicles: Two is company
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Christmas Chronicles: Boxing day bicycling
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Christmas Chronicles: Christmas day contest
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Christmas Chronicles: Arrival & Registration
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Christmas Chronicles
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2016: My book list
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The colour of giving
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In NaNoWriMo’s end is my beginning…of daily doodling

Christmas Chronicles: Two is company

It’s our sixth day, and even with the accompanying aches cycling brings to my body, I am still sticking to it, riding furiously and making the most of it while I’m here (making up for lost time). I’m cycling in the evenings as well. Not as long as the morning sessions because of the heightened distractions – people and automobiles and animals – but just as effective nevertheless. In the mornings, I have just the animals (goats and ducks) to contend with. On my second day of evening cycling, I took T along to the protest of the other children. My silent message to them: Go learn how to ride a bicycle properly. With T, I had to back pedal on my speed and length of the trail. While at it, I observed her reflexes and her awareness (and vision). She got a very good score on both. We were like a tag team, this mother and daughter duo – weaving through strolling humans, especially children; deftly dodging on coming traffic, breezing under the cover of the trees on the trails and drawing stares from all we cycled past. I take it it is a novelty to see a mother and her daughter cycling together, isn’t it? We should do it again tomorrow evening, T. To dispel of this seemingly new sight, get more out of the bicycles before we depart and, of course, spend more time together, bonding.

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Christmas Chronicles: Boxing day bicycling

In between the sand and grass, there are paved paths linking one another and some of the chalets, leading from one end of the resort to another. As always, my Shaun T. DVD was amongst my luggage but I had hoped not to use it while at the seaside. I wanted something different, and I did get something different. Bicycling. The resort had dozens for rent for the duration of our stay; we asked and received three – two adult – sized, one children – sized. It was still dark, about 5:55am with the harmattan chill fully in the air,when Jnr and I began riding through all the paved paths on boxing day. The last time I rode a bicycle was…I’m afraid I can’t even remember. The good thing though is that once you learn how to ride a bicycle, you never really forget. It’s almost like learning to drive a car. So it was smooth sailing(riding, actually) all the way. I wish I had discovered this the moment we arrived here. No crashes. No mistakes. Just easy – peasy riding. The aches and pains on my body came later on – after breakfast.

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Christmas Chronicles: Christmas day contest

I can’t remember the last time I swam – properly, effectively, consciously. Not that I can do it that well. I didn’t get to swim much while in the pool with the children on our first day here. My role and my brother’s was to ensure no one got hurt and we all left the pool the way we entered into it – happy, healthy, refreshed, alive and in one piece. So on our return, on the third day, to the pool, my brother and I were a little more self – centred. Indeed we kept an eye on the children but we were there for our own pleasures as well. In addition, my main concern, Chairman, opted not to swim; he stated he’d watch us. Something about the water being too cold and too deep. I am more of a badminton player than a volleyball participant.But there was a net in the pool, so volleyball it was. It started off between Jnr and I ; then a brother and sister joined us. A friendly game became a lively, fierce competition between two unassuming women and two confident men. A contest that drew a score – keeper amongst the children and quite a large crowd. In the end, just when the men were certain of a sure win, we sneaked up on them from behind and won the game. Yay! For a sport I have little or no love for, I thoroughly enjoyed it and did it a few more times after that.

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Christmas Chronicles: Arrival & Registration

My mum tried to reason with the children; likening our arrival to the first day of a three (or in our case, seven) day conference. The agenda would have read something like this: Day one: Arrival and Registration of Delegates She wanted us to settle into our chalet, unpack and take a breather before, perhaps, exploring our environment and using its facilities. With adults, maybe that would have worked. The children were having none of it. Once their bags were safely in their rooms, they changed int comfy flipflops and hit the beach hard. Screaming and shouting. Shovelling and digging. (They were armed with buckets and spades). Sandcastles came up and … down. The waves first caressed their ankles before rising upwards and splashing into their necks and faces. More excited squealing. The sun was high in the sky, blazing hot. Sweat, mixed with salt water, streamed down our faces and hair. But no one seemed to noticed. The beach and its lure were all that mattered. At some point, when there was a momentary lull in the fixation on the beach, there was a period or two of beach volleyball. The children tried to learn the game from my brother and I but the direction of the wind and hot sand afoot didn’t allow for much progress. Inevitably, we turned back to the beach, the waves and more excited screaming. Soaking wet, exhilarated,huffing and puffing but with huge smiles and specks of sand on our faces and clothes, we all trudged back to our chalet for a change of clothes. Minutes later, clad in bathing suits and floaters, we emerged again, heading straight for the pool. The conference was in full session.

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Christmas Chronicles

For us, Christmas is usually spent at my mum’s in the ancient town I grew up in. My siblings and I congregate there from our various bases, with our offspring, every year. Not in 2016. My mum had been with me since October this year and was not intending on returning home any time soon; she had other plans. So we made alternative ones. The kind that involved clean, healthy air, loads of activities and a totally different environment. Christmas this year was spent at the seaside. Think waves crashing loudly to the shore as the sound you hear when you wake up. The red brick chalets – either lined up in a row or in hamlet- style clusters. Palm trees and their fronds swaying lazily to the cool, gentle breeze. Squirrels scurrying up and down, and in between the trees. Monkeys merely jumping from tree to tree before landing, sometimes, on our roof. Guinea fowls treading quietly, unobtrusively ( in search of food) in order not to alert the attention of the milling humans. But no, the children see them and squeal with delight, frightening off the poor creatures. Goats and their young ones bleating across the greenery as they share the space with us and our roving eyes and wandering limbs. An untethered horse’s sudden, short flight before it it captured and restrained. Little bamboo and cement structures dotting the landscape, interspersed with a pool here, a basketball court there, & a volleyball court over there. At the far end, in total contrast to the raging ocean, is a quietly flowing river. It is serene and tranquil, gently moving in one direction, flanked by thick and lush vegetation. Jungle, as T referred to it. The river is as inviting as it is isolated. Wooden canoes and kayaks introduce its attractions and this waterbody’stole in the resort’s beauty. This is where we all are – T and Chairman, my beau and I, my mum, one of my elder brother’s , Jnr, and his children – Nicole & Anastasia. Season’s greetings from the seaside.

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2016: My book list

When I did this last year – write about the books I read – I was quite disappointed, appalled even, to discover my magic number was 16. Just 16! In a full year of 12 months, I could boast of only 16 books; one per month, and I just managed to squeeze in four more for good measure. It didn’t help that my goal was a book every fortnight. My count ought to have been 24 if I had followed that rule rigidly. But here I was thinking in terms of 36 books since I would have surpassed my target. Obviously, right? The reality was rudely shocking. The same rule applied this year; and while 24 books was the target, I had to remind myself that the number wasn’t quite as important as the amount of knowledge and understand garnered from each; the continuous improvement of my writing and speaking skills, the honing of my reading habit; the inspiration it sparked towards my creative writings; the constant mental trips I embarked upon or the other benefits that came with engaging the mind in a packed volume of well structured, interesting words. Truth be told though, it would have still been something to attain the 24 book mark (or more). Now that would be the target to beat in 2017, and I’d just keep improving on it year after year. How cool will that be? Back to the present. Here are the books that arrested my attention this year: Home Sweat Home – Lynn Johnston Mastery – Robert Greene Life’s a Pitch – Stephen Bayley & Roger Mavity Positioning – Al Ries & Jack Trout Rework – Jason Fried, David Heinemier Hansson The 46 Rules of Genius – Marty Neumeier Becoming a Person of Influence – John C. Maxwell, Jim Dornan Damn Good Advice – George Lois Mom & Me & Me – Maya Angelou 365 Things Every Mum Should Know Can I Change Your Mind? – Lindsay Camp The Untethered Soul The Appearing -Kristen Wisen

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The colour of giving

Have you ever wondered why this time of year is splashed with mostly red? You see it on clothes, display windows, decorations, presents, hampers, and it’s the official colour code of Father Christmas. I mean, there are other colours associated with Christmas. Gold, green, anyone? Ah yes, green can be found on those triangular shaped trees. And someone did dream of a white Christmas. So the colour white is included but not for us in this part of the divide. Try a brown, dusty Yuletide instead. I digress. This morning I pondered about this blazing hue as the children donned on red t-shirts with red & white hats for their Christmas assembly. The other day, a recent photo of my baby nephew saw the chubby cutie in a bright – red onesie and a hat to match. Why the predominance of red? The colour denotes ‘danger’, ‘hot’, ‘stop’ at a traffic light, red – eyed/faced ‘anger’, fire – truck ’emergency’, and ‘code – red’ doesn’t stand for the opposite of any of the aforementioned. It’s also the colour of that life – giving liquid flowing through our veins. The colour of one of the most important organs in our bodies whose regular beats indicate we’re still alive and breathing. The universal colour of love, and what better testament to the greatest love there is than John 3:16. Loving is giving. I doubt any of the other colours – gold, green, white or brown – would have suited this purpose just as well. Red is indeed the king of all the other Christmas colours. Reminding us to love, reminding us to give. So as we celebrate this season and the reason for it, let’s eat pray love …and give. There are people not as fortunate as us. Season’s greetings!

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In NaNoWriMo’s end is my beginning…of daily doodling

Exactly 11.59pm on this day last week, the frenzy of churning out 1,666 words everyday came to an end. I would know; I was a 2016 NaNoWriMo participant. Or so I thought. I started off great, reaching the set word limit; sometimes exceeding it to my twirling delight. The kind that makes you dance, twirl, shake, scream…you get my drift. My adrenaline was pumping overtime at this new and hectic challenge. Before then, my word count hardly exceeded a thousand, and I was quite satisfied with that achievement. You never know what you’re capable of until you try. Here I was cranking out (quite willing too) almost double my safe, comfort zone. Sadly, it lasted only in the first week. The second week came with symptoms of malaria (Noooooooooooooo!) and I had to begin medication immediately. The symptoms demanded that kind of instant action. Nevertheless, I attempted, several times, to continue penning. I never went past a line of illegible scribbling through a drug – induced haze. You realize just how much strength you need to do the simple, everyday things(you take for granted) when you’re ill. Who knew holding a pen and moving it along a paper (old – fashioned long hand style, that’s me) would require such energy? I could do this blindfolded. Yeah, when I’m hale and healthy. I gave up and resorted to bit – size thoughts of my developing plot. I also read some encouraging NaNoWriMo – related articles, most of which dwelled on the word limit. It was week three when I resumed active writing. Somehow, I never got my vibe back. That fire at the start died with my feverish conditions. The glowing embers that remained never blazed back into its full flaming self, despite the countless times I fanned it until I was bright red in my brown face. 1,666 became half of that. Then 750. Sometimes I struggled to even create those precious 750. Other times, writer’s block plagued me like my long – gone fever. To my dismay, the word count just kept dropping. If I got to 250 words”more

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