Reflections

1
Christmas Chronicles
2
2016: My book list
3
The colour of giving
4
In NaNoWriMo’s end is my beginning…of daily doodling
5
The U.S 2016 Elections: Donald’s Trump Card
6
Working that muscle
7
The older I get, the better I was
8
Are you my mentor?
9
Tailor – made
10
Just do it

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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The U.S 2016 Elections: Donald’s Trump Card

So the joke won the election. Who is laughing now? With this turn of events, does it mean: …Hillary is going on death roll? …that wall is definitely going up into the sky? …all minorities – African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, etc – should watch their backs? …Nigerians are coming back home(remember his comment about the Nigerian in Alaska)? …the migrant laws are going to be stringent enough to cause the kind of roar of the republican rallies? …the fact that one cannot handle a twitter account does not necessarily mean one cannot be trusted with the nuclear codes (buttons)? …Obamacare will be flushed down the toilet? …Putin and Trump are now BFFs, and Putin has direct access, free pass into the white house at any time? And to think the world anticipated a Hillary win. And to think Hillary was poised to make two more of several firsts: …the first woman president of the most powerful (are they?) nation of the world …the first first lady to return to the white house (like it’s her father’s) as president And there was Obama poised to achieve another first too: …the first black president to handover to the first female president (What a double whammy that would have been). I can’t help but wonder where his hands were when Trump kept winning key states; on his waist – hopeful that their fortunes could change – or on his head (How the hell did this happen?!)? Sorry, folks. The world has changed and, perhaps, America has gone crazier. The white house is back to being truly white. Like Nigeria, America decides/deserves (whichever one fits) the president they get. The Donald is President – Elect of the United States of America; he’s going to be their 45th. Let’s brace ourselves for impact.

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Working that muscle

A whole year’s worth of work. That’s how much I lost on this blog. A first time visitor here would think me unserious. And I would agree. After all the date of my last post reads August 31st, 2015. Yet, this month began so well. After deep introspection (along with millions of Nigerians) about the nation’s direction on its 56th year celebration, I mapped out my writing goals and intentions for October. Just as I planned, so did the universe. Boom! Sickness swooped into my body and I was out of commission for two weeks. 14 whole days! Of doing absolutely nothing but waking up and wishing I felt stronger. Not nauseous. Wishful thinking. October 16th dawned, and I was free and fit. Guess the first place I rushed to? The sinking feeling in my stomach when (I stopped my endless refreshing of the home page) reality sunk in was comparable to the nauseous one while I was sick. A year’s work (September 2015 – September 2016) gone. Poof! Like an illusionist’s bad trick. All due to hosting rights. Retrieving them all would be near impossible. I wasn’t certain of having all the original text in long hand. The pit in my stomach remained for all of two days. Then I was like…well, so what?! Why the heck do I feel like I’ve lost 80% of my world? Half of my writing world for the last year or so, actually. No, all of it, in fact. Some of them could be recovered or so my long – hand notes reveal. Just some of the very recent ones. (Long hand, you know I never take you for granted. You just proved your worth!) But that’s not all I need to recover. Posts written on specific dates – birthdays, anniversaries, first – time events, national holidays, the children’s holidays , etc – are probably gone forever. Those can hardly be posted to mark particular dates. Unless I want to re – post them regardless. Do I really want to do that? Upload old, lost articles – as many of them as I”more

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The older I get, the better I was

A friend’s t- shirt, back in the university, had that scrawled across it (beginning at the front and ending at the back). I wondered about the statement every time I saw it. I mentally compared my vainer, younger self with my ever – growing, worldly – wise older self. Cuter? Yeah. More hair? Yep. Easier life? Definitely. Carefree? Uh hu. Eager to please everyone? Oh yes. More organized? Yes. More selfish than a cat? Check. Quite shallow? Oh yes. So superficial? You got it. Prim & proper? Yes, yes, yes. Large helpings of impatience? Yeaaaaaaah. Bashfully shy? Loads. Read voraciously? Uh hu. The more I compared, the less I liked the outcome. The statement didn’t hold true for me. Scratch that. I didn’t like that it didn’t ring true for me. I wanted it to. So badly. Almost two decades later, this thought has gone through a total transformation. I think of that inscription today like I do every year on my birthday as I begin to compare last year’s me to this year’s. Today, yet another birthday of mine, is no different.               On becoming a vulture. I prefer the woman I currently am who can deliberately manage her impatience and reign it in when she feels her grip on it is slipping. A decade or so ago, I was incapable of this or even the willingness to try. My goal is to be almost like a vulture waiting to devour a carcass. Grey matter. In my life now, there is a grey shade that is ever – widening. Before, black or white was good, very good, enough for me. Unless, of course, it was the rainbow or colour spectrum being talked about, don’t you go telling me about grey or its varying shades. Miss Prim & Proper. That was my middle name for as long as I can remember. In my speech, habits, writing, the way things ought to be done… Today, I am not quite so rigid. Yes, there are correct and formal ways of doing things but the times have”more

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Are you my mentor?

Are you my mentor?                 Apparently, Sheryl Sandberg doesn’t like anyone asking that question of someone else. Yes, I’m still on about her book Lean In. Go read it if you haven’t. She encourages her readers to ‘excel and you’ll get a mentor’. As I read that line, I bit my lip knowingly. I plead guilty to asking that question because I once had a mentor more than a decade ago. My first job was at an NGO geared towards encouraging and supporting entrepreneurship amongst youths and adults. To facilitate its numerous programmes – classes, workshops, mentorship, trainings, etc – it recruited volunteers from all works of life in their professional capacities to share their expertise, to teach, to mentor, to consult. And whenever there was a workshop taking place, most staff pitched in to assist the department responsible for organizing it. Often, I’d offer to register participants or write up mini – bios for all the speakers. That day I chose to write. His resume was the second amongst the small sheaf of papers given to me. As I put his qualifications and experiences together, unconsciously my mind wandered a bit. Blame it on the work environment then and all that talk about the importance of a mentor. I knew him vaguely. I knew what he looked like and had formed an impression already. However, it had been his written words on paper that had made me sit up and take notice. (He had helped the organization conduct interviews and some of his thoughts were blunt, abrupt, harsh…). Later on, I walked down the corridor towards a colleague’s office and saw him being interviewed by the press, just before he was billed to speak. My mind wandered again. This time deliberately. By the end of the workshop, I had wrangled out an introduction from a friend of his who was also a colleague of mine (one of the workshop organizers), and he had invited me to dinner with them. I still remember the moment I asked him: ‘Would you be my mentor?’ as”more

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Tailor – made

Few people I know have good, all round stories about the individuals who make their clothes. From ‘He’s so good at it’ ‘It fits perfectly’ ‘She’s a genius’ to ‘It’s too tight!’ ‘It’s too big!’ ‘This is not the style I wanted’ ‘What nonsense! How am I supposed to wear this?!’ I have heard it all. I have been there too. And at some point, I have told myself: ‘No more tailors! I’d only buy my clothes and save myself the headache of an unreliable dressmaker.’ But how do you deal with asoebi matters for that special event? In addition, there are just some outfits that need to be made and not bought off the rack. The first (wrong) cut is the deepest Back in school, a classmate introduced me to her ‘fab’ tailor. And to test him out, I asked he reproduced a quite complicated, long – sleeved top with pockets and slits. The result? A perfectly executed job, right down to the finishing. He was ‘fab’ all right. Thrilled that I had a tailor I could trust, his next job was a simple, black, knee – length skirt with a slit at the back. Disaster! The front of the skirt was longer than the back; it was a little too wide at the hips and there were three buttons on one of the slit’s flaps! How did that happen? What was he thinking? Where did the ‘fab’ go? A Ghanaian was my first seamstress in Lagos. Large shop. Countless assistants. Even more countless customers. Would she have time for me and my little business of one outfit in three months? The white lace ensemble she made was complaint – free. She got my statistics and style down pat. She also got the feeling I like to have when wearing a well – made, well – fitted attire. I sang her praises to whoever listened. So when a cousin was getting married, a few months later, who else did we give the family’s asoebi to work her magic with? No contest there, it had to be the Ghanaian. The”more

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Just do it

              I haven’t posted anything on this blog in more than a month now. Maybe it was intentional.  Maybe it wasn’t. I had plans to put finishing touches to the general look and feel of the blog but, judging from the ‘nothing new’ or ‘still – the – same – look’ of the blog, I am yet to achieve that goal. I was side – tracked by a book project which has been pending for more than a year now. I spent the entire June fine – tuning that contract and all else that went with it – agreeing on cost, sorting out timelines, materials, man hours, resources and references, googling and mentality preparing myself for the task ahead. Yes, it took that long. Then again, my contractor didn’t move as fast as I’d have liked. Now that it is well under way (I’m at the tail – end of the first part of the book; there are seven parts in all), I can come up for some air…and blog just a teeny bit. I do not know when I’d be adding the necessary finesse to the blog as I had earlier planned but it would certainly be in this lifetime, as I am currently engulfed in this project with a rather distant monitoring eye from my contractor. Not that I mind it, though; it kinda keeps me grounded, focused. And to think I had originally rejected this offer a year ago. My contractor (a former boss and a lovable one too), on the other hand,  wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. He spent weeks (and mails with loads of exclamation marks) convincing me that I was the right woman for the job.           I finally changed my mind. Albeit halfheartedly. Blame it on his persuasion skills and one of my resolutions to face my fears, and try new experiences. Then it took months that piled up into a year before we could meet and discuss the project’s details. Scattered all around me are his notes as I write this. They”more

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