Saturday, 8 December 2012

Chasing Success: L. L. S. F (5)

Thanks to all of you who keep on visiting here. You motivate me to write ..........even when all I want to do is eat, read blogs and sleep. LOL ................God bless you all

In concluding this series, I will go straight to my fifth L.L.S.F (Lessons Learnt So Far). This one is fairly simple: 'KNOW THYSELF - SELF REFLECTION IS A BLESSING'

This is not an easy task. Indeed, it has been said that 'The most difficult thing in life is to know yourself' (Thales, ca. 624 BC–ca. 546 BC). However, if one is able to do this, it makes so many things in life clearer and dare I say it............a bit easier. 

When I say 'know thyself, I refer to knowing who you are including....
- What your family background holds:
All families have secrets and all families have flaws. However, a person can only know his/ her make up if s/he understands more about his/her family. Some people talk about 'generational curse' and how it holds people back. However, I believe more in 'generational stupidity' - when family members repeat the same mistakes over and over again.

Personally, I come from a long line of stubborn, determined women. This can be a good thing or a bad thing...............depending on the circumstances. However, since I know I have this trait, I try to use it to my benefit and avoid situations where this 'stubbornness' can put people off. Knowing your 'family background' does not only relate to common traits and behaviours we share with family members, it can also relate to health related issues. For example if one comes from a family with a history of high blood pressure/ strokes......... it is unwise to drink heavily, eat fatty foods or ignore one's weight.

- What your Weaknesses are:
We all have bad habits and sometimes we can ignore them because they don't hinder us in any way. However, when such weaknesses hold us back, it is imperative we sit up and take notice.

For example, I know a very intelligent man who is great at generating ideas but lacks the determination to follow through these ideas. Similarly, I know a very intelligent young lady who puts people off with her 'I-know-it-all attitude'. While she has 'book intelligence'; she lacks the common sense to realise that others who might not have her academic qualifications might know more than she does................. Again, I know a lady who seems to lurch from one abusive relationship to another. When a pattern is being repeated, it is time to look inwards.

- What your Strengths are:
Yes, it might seem crazy to say one does not know his/her strengths but I challenge YOU to highlight your 5 key strengths.....What 5 things set you apart from others???? This is not easy for everyone. However, it is important to know your strengths because this knowledge is (a) comforting in times of self-doubt; and  (b) empowering in times you are challenged.

- What your Limits are:
This is a difficult one because it takes time and maturity for most pf us to realise/ accept our limits. However, I have found that knowing my limits has been key to keeping my sanity.......When to say NO......When to BACK OFF..........When to accept DEFEAT........When to accept SOMEONE will never change............When to accept you cant change OTHERS

I once knew a successful business man who was always being approached by people with one business idea or another. Ninety nine percent of the time, he ignored these people who approached him. When I asked him how he knew which business to invest in and which to avoid, his reply was 'I
 stick to what I know' Simple !!!  

So, 'Know Thyself'.....Where does one start?????
One of the best tools I have seen used for self reflection is the personal SWOT....which stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. When it comes to a personal SWOT, an individual has to answer these questions:
- What are my Strengths?
- What are my Weaknesses?
- What Opportunities exist out there for me to use my strengths ?
- What Threats exist out there that will highlight my weaknesses and cause me to fail/ not achieve my full potential?

I strongly recommend a personal SWOT to all jobseekers and those caught at crossroads (between mutiple choices - of jobs, careers, partners, locations etc) Seriously, it has helped me make some really difficult decisions - especially where I had to consider my strenghts and weaknesses against external factors/ people/ situations I have no control over. If you are interested in carrying out a personal SWOT analysis, do visit here

Before I leave you all, I would like to recap my five lessons learnt:
(1) Knowing one's Locus of Control is important in understanding who/what you allow to shape your destiny
(2) Event + Reaction = Outcome
(3) Recognise your millstones and act accordingly
(4) Be aware of your Personal Brand and how your potray yourself
(5) Know Thyself - Self Reflection is a Blessing.

All I have shared can be summarised in this saying: 'In order to change unwanted habits and actions, it is important to take the time to get to know yourself'  (Darren L. Johnson)

I hope I have made sense. Many thanks for coming back again and again.

May God bless you all

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Back on Saturday

Dear all,

Apologies for the break in transmission ....LOL

Seriously though, I do apologise that I missed my deadline

I will post the final part of the L.L.S.F series this Saturday (08/12/12)

I am tied up at the moment.

Apologies again

Monday, 26 November 2012

Chasing Success: L. L. S. F (4)

Good to see you here. I hope all is well with you?

In continuing my ramblings on 'Chasing Success', I will be touching on my fourth L.L.S.F (Lessons Learnt So Far)

As usual I will start with a preamble:

Recently, I have been reading about Moses (in the Bible). I know we often see him as a great leader who was chosen by God etc etc.......but he was actually a very reluctant leader. 

Indeed, when God first spoke to him and told him he was to lead his people out of Egypt, his initial reaction was one of great reluctance as he asked God: “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”

To convince him, God showed him some miracles, by......................:
-         Turning his staff into a snake
-         Transforming Moses’ hand into a leprous hand and back again
-         And finally reassuring that if Pharoah did not listen, He would change water into blood

Despite this, Moses still protested...........
Exodus 4.10 “..........I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”

Despite God reassuring him, he begged................
Exodus 4.13 "Please send someone else........"

Although He was getting angry, God tried to reassure him AGAIN by highlighting the fact that his brother, Aaron – who was a great speaker could do the talking for him.......

Was that enough? No...still he protested:
Exodus 6.12....“If the Israelites will not listen to me, why would Pharaoh listen to me, since I speak with faltering lips

I laughed when I read this because this is the man who was chosen by God to do a great deed..........and he sounded more 'zero' than 'hero' 

 If I were God, I would have given him a good slap and told him ‘You better do it or I will send thunder on you’ LOL

Seriously though, Moses' example shows that even the greatest amongst us is flawed - so we should not be so hard on ourselves. If God had been a mere human being, I bet he would have walked away from Moses. God saw something in Moses and that is why he chose him. There is something special in all of us.

This leads me to my fourth lesson learnt – BE AWARE OF YOUR PERSONAL BRAND - How you potray yourself often affects how others perceive you.  

To drive my point home, I would like to sell you two products:

PRODUCT A is a drink with the following features:
-         It is refreshing and thirst-quenching
-         Experts say it has rejuvenating qualities and makes drinkers look younger
-         People say it has a very unique taste
-         Lovers of this drink believe it has rejuvenating properties
-         This drink is good for people who are watching their weight

PRODUCT B is a drink with the following features:
-         Some feel the taste is a bit bland and boring
-         People do say too much of this drink can make tummies bloat
-         Certain versions of this drink can cause diarrhoea
-         Taking too much of this drink has caused death in some people
     -         People complain that certain versions of this product can be expensive

Can you guess what the products are? Well, both Products A and B are the same: water

Yes, a product is only inviting and desirable when it is perceived as such. 

Thinking of some favourite brands - Coca Cola, Dyson, Apple, Blackberry, Gala, Peak etc etc....Those who love these brands associate then with positivity. Similarly, the same applies to individuals and their 'Personal Brand':

 If someone is perceived as antagonistic......or......lacking confidence .......or.......cheerful..........or........selfish........or......indicisive.........or........reliable etc etc.....He/she is generally seen in that light most of the time. 

One of my favourite sayings is 'Success has many fathers but failure is an orphan' Too true. It is very easy to only remember the negatives that occur in one’s life but if that’s what you associate with yourself................What do you expect others to do?

 Yes, we can all do a 'Moses' (lacking confidence, courage etc) from time to time but not everyone has the patience of God; so as we are dealing with mere mortals from day to day - we must try to portray ourselves in a positive light.

YOU are the best advocate of your personal brand:
-         Celebrate your heritage. I believe we were all born in different circumstances for a reason
-         Celebrate your gender. There are good things about being male or female.
-         Celebrate your knowledge. I learn everyday – from old and young. No one knows everything.
-         Celebrate your experiences. Failure = Lessons Learnt. Setbacks = Hope for a better tomorrow.
-         Celebrate YOU. No one can do YOU like you can. Manage your Personal Brand. 

Hope I make sense?

I'll be back on the 5th of December for my final LLSF. Till then be safe, be nice.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Chasing Success: L. L. S. F (3)

Good to see you here again. I hope all is well with you

In continuing my ramblings on 'Chasing Success', I will be touching on my third L.L.S.F (Lessons Learnt So Far)

As usual, I will start with a preamble:

When Abby graduated in 1991, her priority was to make sure her younger siblings were well provided for. Her parents were both pensioners and this was the time - in Nigeria - when pensions were often not paid and pensioners really struggled to survive, talk less of taking care of their families.

As soon as she arrived in the UK, she contacted friends to make sure she got a job asap. Through her friends, she got a job as a carer (someone who goes into people’s homes to take care of their needs). Her job involved going into old people’s homes and help them with things they found difficult to do i.e. shopping, paying bills and laundry.

Abby did this job – with two employers - for three years; and was able to send enough money home to ensure her two younger ones could complete their university education. However, this was done at great sacrifice as Abby’s social life was nonexistent. Her living arrangements were also very basic as she chose to rent a room only so she could keep her living costs to a basic minimum. All through this period, whenever Abby called home, there was always one demand or another........... Abby did her best to make sure her family did not lack.

In her fourth year in London, Abby met a special person and they got married the following year in a small ceremony with a few friends. As they began to build a home together, Abby started to question her future as a carer – especially as she felt she was not achieving her full potential. Both her siblings had now graduated and she felt it was time to focus on her future. With the support of her husband, Abby decided to change to a part time job position (meaning a significant drop in income) and return to university - to retrain as a social worker.

When Abby told her siblings and parents about her new position – and that she wouldn’t be able to send money home regularly; she was surprised that her family was very cold. She expected them to warm up to the idea but this didnt happen. It seemed the ‘golden goose’ had stopped laying golden eggs. Saddened, she reminded her younger sister that she had done so much for the family and it was time to focus on herself – to consolidate her own future. Her sister’s reply:
‘Wetin you don do, wey somebody never do before?’ (What have you done that hasn’t been done before)

Broken hearted, she told her mother she was disappointed by her siblings’ behaviour......Her mother’s response: ‘Abeg no vex, you know first born be like dustbin !!! (Please don’t be offended, you must know that the first born child is like a bin – always on the receiving end)!!!

I use this story to illustrate my 3rd L.L.S.F : ‘Real Friends and True Family members should NEVER resent your success – Recognise Your Millstone’

(Millstone = One of a pair of cylindrical stones used in a mill for grinding grain - Also refers to A heavy weight or burden)

Dont get me wrong, we are all competitive. However, true friends and real family members should NEVER weigh someone down.
In most African cultures, we are brought up to put family first – always. However, over time, I have come to realise that some friends and family members can be  ‘millstones’ that can drag you down.

I have to be honest when I say some friends and family members can resent progress and change. That is when we hear comments like:
-         ‘You are not the boy/ girl I used to know’  OR ‘You’ve really changed’
  My opinion: How can people expect someone to remain the same forever?
-         ‘You think you are better than us now because you are now .........’
  My opinion: More often than not, the person asking the question is the one that is feeling inferior
-         ‘Are you ashamed of us?’
My opinion: Except the person who is being asked this question has been behaving like a snob, the person asking the question is likely to be trying to make the successful person feel guilty.

So, as harsh as it might sound – If one wants to achieve one’s dreams; one has to be conscious of those millstones in one’s life.

There is a pidgin saying that goes: 'Twenty pickin no fit play together for twenty years' (Twenty children cannot remain friends for twenty years)..........................Too true. One must recognise one's millstones and decide what to do with them.

May God grant us the wisdom to surround ourselves with people who are good for us. Amen.

Stay blessed, I'll be back on the 26th November.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Chasing Success: L. L. S. F (2)

Thanks for dropping by

In continuing the L. L.S. F series,  (L.L.S.F = Lessons Learnt So Far) I will be touching on my second lesson learnt today. Before I do so, I would like to share two scenarios with you:

Scenario 1:
Yemi was an assistant store manager in a London based fashion store. She liked her job as it involved fashion, meeting new people and talking to people - her favourite things in the world. 

However, recently, she had begun to hate going into work because her new manager - H - was making work a nightmare. Whatever she did was never enough. Even worse, colleagues have come up to her to tell her the new manager was spreading negative feedback about her work - painting her as an inefficient, incompetent worker. Yemi's branch was often visited by Head Office representatives and she noticed H was quite friendly with most of them. This made her take a back seat whenever they came into the branch because she felt every snigger.....every whisper mocked her. 

Yemi didn't know where to turn and everyday she went into work she felt a part of her was dying. She didn't even feel she had the energy to look for a new job as she was dealing with an unemployed husband, a sick mother and two young children. As she walked into work on Monday 3rd September, she felt so drained because she had had a weekend of rows with her husband; dealt with a sickly child and had very little sleep. As she sat down that morning in the office to print out last week's performance reports, she felt totally exhausted. At that moment, H entered the small office and started to whinge about something Yemi forgot to do. Yemi says she cant remeber what happened .................but something in her snapped and the next thing she knew, she was shouting in H's face and threatening to beat her up. Needless to say, Yemi lost her job..............

Scenario 2: 
Like Yemi, Marion had loved her job - till the branch manager-from-hell took over. Again, like Yemi, Marion had a lot to deal with outside work........her husband was always away in Nigeria, her teenage son was acting up; her daughter's schoolwork was suffering and her parents were always calling from Nigeria to remind her that she was not supporting them enough. 

Again like Yemi, she was becoming increasingly reluctant to go to work as she felt the new branch manager - V - was constantly undermining her and making her look inefficient.  Whenever the Area Manager came around, she noticed V was eager to impress him. That meant a lot of running around and trying to make the branch perfect. 

One day, the Area Manager dropped by in V's absence.........for a surprise visit. Marion seized this opportunity to have a chat with him. She avoided saying negative things about V and told the Area Manager all her ideas for improving the branch's performance. She also told the Area Manager what customers were requesting ...........and suggested she put together a formal document suggesting how sales could be improved. The Area Manager was very receptive to the idea and said he'd get back to her.

Marion didn't hear from him for some time.....until she was contacted and invited to Head Office to deliver a presentation to senior officials................That was how her career took off. 

These two stories come from two real life experiences and serve to illustrate my second L.L.S.F. This lesson is a simple equation:              E + R = O (Event + Reaction = OUTCOME)

This equation was passed on to me by a seriously impressive man I met sometime ago and it applies to so many aspects of life. 

We are all faced by different life-changing Events in Life.............and our Reactions determine the Outcome following these events:

- Betrayed by a Husband/Wife ? : Various reactions range from hating all men/women; Becoming extremely Promiscous or Continously seeking love in all the wrong places etc etc 
- Lost A Job ? : Various Reactions range from Securing any jobs to pay bills etc etc
- Abused as a Child ? : Various Reactions range from Feeling Self Hating Continously seeking love in al, the wrong places etc etc
- Failed To Get Admission to study your preferred Course ?: Various reactions range from Choosing another Taking a year out to retake the Avoiding University altogether etc etc 

All these choices, All these options ...............but each reaction will lead to a different Outcome.

I pray we all have the wisdom to be patient - and composed - enough to react appropriately, so we always achieve the best outcomes ....Always. 

I'll be back on November 18th. Till then, God bless you all

PS - Please forgive my delay in replying to comments. I will do so soon. I just like to take my time and read through properly *mwah*

Monday, 29 October 2012

Chasing Success: L. L. S. F (1)

Thanks for dropping by. 

As I mentioned in my last post, I will be sharing five lessons I have learnt so far - from people who have impacted me positively. (L.L.S.F = Lessons Learnt So Far)

The first lesson relates to a concept called 'Locus of Control' - which I will refer to as LOC in this post

What is Locus of Control?
In Psychology, Locus of Control is considered to be an important aspect of personality and refers to how an individual perceives things that happen in his/her life. It can be summarised as how a person answers this basic question:
Do you believe that your destiny is controlled by yourself or by external forces (such as fate, god, or powerful others)?
Individuals who answer 'yourself' are classed as having INTERNAL LOC ....Those who answer 'external forces' are classed as having EXTERNAL LOC: 

External Locus of Control

Individual believes that his/her behaviour is guided by fate, luck, or other external circumstances

Internal Locus of Control

Individual believes that his/her behaviour is guided by his/her personal decisions and efforts.
With regards to the short quiz in my last post - If you chose mostly a answers - you are likely to have an EXTERNAL LOC. If you chose mostly b answers, you are likely to be INTERNAL.

However,  like everything in life - people might change their answer from time to time.............but, in my experience, high achievers usually tend to possess an INTERNAL LOC most of the time - They feel that they are in charge of their destiny and their efforts can have a positive impact on their ability to achieve their goals, their dreams and their vision.

This feeling of 'being in control of one's destiny' might take a bashing from time to time and numerous influences can shape one's LOC:
- Gender: I do feel men generally tend to feel more in control of their own destiny
- Age: The older people I meet generally do feel success in life is down to the effort you put in
- Upbringing: Children who have grown in competitive household - where excellence was rewarded - might grow to appreciate the relationship between effort and reward
- Environment: Without generalising, a lot of Nigerians I know feel our Nigerian society is very much one of 'who you know' - so effort is not often rewarded
- Religion / Beliefs: From experience, a lot of deeply religious people I encounter forget that prayer without deeds is futile. If one keeps on attributing every event to luck or fate, the person is likely to feel powerless in his/her own life

I must also warn that we should not take a simplistic view - that being having an EXTERNAL LOC is bad .................OR...........having INTERNAL is good. This is because INTERNALS can be great worriers as they try to control everything..........Also, EXTERNALS can be very easy going as they attribute events and experiences to 'luck' or 'fate'

However, one lesson I have learnt from people I admire is that - if we want to achieve success in life - we must recognise instances where we hand over control over our lives to others........ That is why I think we should all be aware of our LOC as it can highlight attitudes we need to change/ modify.

Q: How has this knowledge helped me?............A: To make better choices :
- If I spot an opportunity, it is up to me to pursue it. I am responsible for my own progress
- If something bad happens around me, I have the option of learning from it or letting the event defeat me. I have a choice
- If something good happens to me, I have the option of putting it down to luck or identifying what I did to facilitate that event. If I was instrumental to this event/ experience....I can repeat it
- If something I have been doing is not working. ............Why am I carrying on? I have a choice to stop it
- If something I am doing is successful........... Why cant I extend that success to other parts of my life. I have the choice.
- If I am confused and unsure of a path to follow (personally or professionally), I do as much research as possible i.e. speak to more experienced people; Pray and make a decison. I have the faith and confidence to explore any option that might see me excel in life.

If you are interested in taking the full LOC test - so you can understand where you stand -  please go here

In the meantime, do let me know if I make sense.  Your comments are always welcome.

I'll be back on the 8th of November. God bless.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Chasing Success - L. L. S. F

I enjoy meeting interesting people who have managed to achieved success in life. 'Success in life' doesn't only have to be in terms of financial success....... Success can be with regards to being able to impact positively on others...............Being able to raise happy, healthy, productive children or................... even being able to correct a wrong within the community they live.

When I meet such people, I always try and learn  from them as one must always seek to improve and grow.

As we approach the end of the year, I would like to share with you 5 key things I have learnt from some successful people I have come across.  I believe it is a grave sin when one allows someone else make a mistake ....when one could have prevented it. So, I am hoping that someone somewhere will benefit from my rambling thoughts and words. 

The title of this series is 'Chasing Success' (because I am yet to meet a human being who doesn't want to be successful in at least one aspect of life). The acronym 'L. L. S. F' stands for 'Lessons Learnt So Far'  *cheeky smile*

I intend posting my 5 LLSFs on the following dates: 29th October; 8th November; 18th November; 26th November and 5th December. I hope that's okay...................In the meantime, please look at the statements below and - for each -  make a note of which option you agree with the most (a or b):

1.  (a)    Many of the unhappy things in people's lives are partly due to bad luck
     (b)    People's misfortunes result from the mistakes they make.

2.  (a)  Unfortunately, an individual's worth often passes unrecognized no matter how hard he tries.
     (b) In the long run, people get the respect they deserve in this world.

3.  (a) Without the right breaks, one cannot be an effective leader.
     (b) Capable people who fail to became leaders have not taken advantage of their opportunities.

4.   (a) Many times exam questions tend to be so unrelated to course work that studying is really useless
      (b) In the case of the well prepared student, there is rarely, if ever, such a thing as an unfair test.

5.  (a) Sometimes I feel that I don't have enough control over the direction my life is taking.
     (b) What happens to me is my own doing.

I'll be back on the 29th .....................Till then *kisses and hugs*

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Thanks to all

I was just informed that I have been nominated for the Nigerian Blog Awards and I really wanted to say thank you to all who nominated me. I am honoured. A big thanks also to the organisers of the Nigerian Blog Awards. That is passion in practice. God bless you guys.

Like most bloggers, I started off spouting whatever came to my head and it was a pleasant surprise when I discovered a whole family of creatives online. Each person on my blog roll has a unique voice and I thank God that we live in a time where we all have an avenue to air our opinions. Each voice is important.

Before I go, I have to be honest and say I find it difficult to campaign because one of the other nominees - Gbemisoke - is a dear blogger-sister. So, all I will say is thanks again to whoever nominated us.

I'll be back soon

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Your Eye

The beauty of the internet is that information seems so accessible and close. Whatever you want to find out about.....type it in...and more than likely, you will get some information.

However, like everything that seems so easy, there can be a downside.

Over the past few months, I have seen bloggers post some very disturbing pictures and videos on their sites. I wont mention the issues they have touched on but the most recent pertains to the Uniport students - referred to as 'Aluu 4'. While I commend some for drawing our attention to certain hitherto 'hidden' issues...I do question the motive behind some bloggers' decision to post really gruesome, disturbing material.

Even more so, I question some readers/ viewers' motives when they view such material:
- Is the reader viewing it motivated by voyeuristic* tendencies ?
- Is the reader viewing it to spear-head a campaign that will aim to right whatever wrong has been committed ?
- Is the reader viewing it to be titillated* ?
- Is the reader viewing it to gain knowledge about something new ?

Whatever the reason is, I suggest we remember this:

 34 Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness. 35 See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. (Luke 11:34-35)

Research has shown that there is a strong link between porn and child abuse. This is no surprise as images can distort people's view of what is acceptable or unacceptable behaviour.

Whether we like it or not, the more we view violent, dehumanising and abhorrent material.....The more we begin to think this is the norm. The first time I watched a video of a Python swallow another animal on Youtube...I screamed.....Now....I yawn and go...'Next video please...!'

As users of social media, I believe we have a duty to think before we post and think even harder before we repost. We are not sheep.

*Voyeurism is the sexual interest in or practice of spying on people engaged in intimate behaviors, such as undressing, sexual activity, or other actions usually considered to be of a private nature.[1]

*Titilated is to Stimulate or excite (someone), esp. in a sexual way.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

An Ephiphany

(Ephiphany:  A comprehension or perception of reality by means of a sudden realization)

Have you ever woken up in the morning and just wondered where you would find the strength to do all you had to do that day?

Well, that was me on Wednesday............

After five hours sleep, I woke up to a new morning and my whole body ACHED. Believe me, I didn't need an Anatomy textbook to tell me where every bone and joint was ....because EVERY bone and joint ached from  tiredness. What made it even worse was the realisation that:

Hubby was out of town............
I had a day long programme to deliver to a new client;
I had one child to pick up from a rugby tournament after school;
The two other children were to be picked up from another location after school;
Three lots of homework had to be supervised after work;
And a work-related deadline of Friday was also looming.......

To top it all, we were throwing a birthday party for my last son on Saturday (29th). Somehow, somehow that cute brown chocolate of a boy had got us to agree to throw a party for 15 kids AT HOME.... !! and just two days to the day...I hadn't bought a single thing !!!! *sigh* 

After my morning prayers, I gave myself a pep talk and faced the day - handing everything over to God. My God did not fail me as that day went very well .......

I then decided to do most of the party shopping on Thursday so I would have Friday free to tie up work-related issues. Hubby was also due back Thursday so I knew he would take over anything that was left over. 

Anyone who knows me, knows I hate shopping so as I entered the first shop on Thursday, I was already muttering:
         'Na who send me this kind wahala, I for just beg this pickin make im do party next year !!!  (Why did I get myself into this? I should have just begged my son to have his party next year instead)

However, as soon as I got to the toy shop and started looking around for his 'perfect' present, my son's face came to mind and I imagined his delight and excitement at receiving gifts; having his friends round and generally being made to feel special for ONE whole day.

At that moment, something spoke to me and said 'If you were preparing for a funeral....wouldnt you still be doing all this running around? Is it not a blessing that you are running around for a joyful celebration?'

I then recalled the Bible passage Ecclessiastes 3 (1-9):
 There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens............
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance.........................
Believe me, at that moment, my whole body was energised and I shopped and planned like a woman possessed. The mental picture of my happy son was enough for me to ignore any aches and pain. All I wanted was for him to have the happiest birthday because no matter what happens, this birthday will never come again.

When hubby arrived, I shared my 'epiphany' with him and he loved it so I wanted to share it with you all.

I'm happy to say we had a wonderful day and even the weather was beautiful. Thanks be to God.

I know life can be so trying sometimes that we forget that every tribulation is temporary. Every situation is transient. No condition is permanent.

That is why whenever we are blessed and lucky enough to celebrate and laugh, we should do so with all our heart and might. There is a time for everything. Celebrate like its your wedding; Dance like its your last ever party and laugh like you have won the lottery.

Why? Because you can.......................someone somewhere  cant.

God bless you all...........and happy birthday to all September babies out there

PS - I'm off to sleep now. My body still aches LOL

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Ramblings, Questions and Thoughts

Hope all of you are well ?? I see a few nodding, a couple shaking their heads and a handful looking undecided. LOL

Anyway dearies, I had a post ready but I had to come back with a few randoms. Please bear with me:

(1) A Diet Too Far
Disclaimer: This is not aimed at those among us who are temporarily taking steps to lose weight but it is aimed at women who are healthy but go on and on about losing weight.

We all watch what we eat from time to time but I do get bored when conversations with some women centres around losing weight ALL THE TIME.

Come on sisters, a cure for cancer is still pending; Boko Haram is still running riot and there are soo many current affairs' issues we should be trashing out. I respect the fact that we all need to watch our weight but it does get boring if that is all we talk about.

Has anyone ever gone to a funeral, looked at a skinny corpse - lying in  a coffin - and exclaimed 'My, my, my...that girl is looking good. She is so slim. I need to look like her'  ????? I GUESS NOT. Life is for the living. Eat sensibly, move around more and monitor your health. That should suffice.

(2) Outsourcing Parenting
More and more parents are sending their children here to study in British secondary schools and universities. I have no problem with this but it really amazes me when people choose to bring their children over to stay with relatives who they then assume will be responsible for their child's upbringing.
Wrong, wrong, wrong !! It is so unfair. 

The average Nigerian-British family home has two parents juggling work, kids, homework, tight finances and tight living spaces (FYI - our homes are not as big as what you have back in Naija). In the midst of all this juggling - and trying to keep the romance alive - a teenager is dumped on the couple by parents who are more concerned about the status a 'child studying abroad' brings to them. 

I have seen instances where such 'outsourced teenagers' does not even help in the houisehold, becomes a disruptive force and creates tension among the couple. Worse still, I have seen a situation where one of these 'outsourced' kids stole her hosts' jewellery and sold it. The reason - she was broke and had to maintain her 'aristo' lifestyle. When the issue was reported to her parents - they did not show any surprise because - apparently - she was known to be a thief in Nigeria. How can parents outsource their deviant child to an unsuspecting relative? JUST WRONG !!! 

(3) Put Down The Cloak
Women are wonderful creatures and my African sisters are amazing. It is normal to see one woman doing all these:
- Running a home
- Working Full Time
- Helping The Kids with Their Homework
- Arranging all the kid's parties and socialising
- Volunteering in Church
- Caring for her siblings
- Caring for elderly parents etc etc

All commendable, all wonderful BUT ..........we are not superhumans. Even the strongest tree can bend if the right amount of pressure is applied. I talk to a lot of women and quite a lot are one step away from breaking point. This is not healthy.

Since we are all destined to grow old and die, is it not a shame if our youth is festooned with worry, commitments and drudgery. My advice is that  no matter how many commitments you have, please find time, put down the cloak - at least once a month - to do something for you. You deserve it !!!! There is no Academy award or Nobel prize for sufferhead. 

(4) A Bad Smell can never be Hidden
Okay, I was at a party with hubby and we had been dancing for some time. We felt a bit hot, so we stepped out for fresh air. As I'm standing outside talking to hubby some Naija girls walk in between us without even saying 'Excuse me'.

I was a bit peeved but I let it slide. However, the same girls walked past us and brushed past me roughly. I begin to get angry...until hubby says to ignore them as they seem to be 'craving attention'. 

This scenario might sound familiar to some of you because I have since noticed that some of our Naija girls just lack social graces. Similarly, quite a few of our boys over here go around shouting into mobile phones - about one business deal or the other; ogling every female and looking for shortcuts to everything.

Walking around in fake Louboutin; tossing around 60'' Brazillian and squeezing into undersized lycra mini dresses does not make a cow a lady.

 Similarly, shouting into mobile phones, adorned in designer clothes and Ray bans does not make a village idiot a business tycoon.  

Whether we like it or not, when outside one's home ......we should try to conduct ourselves in a way that will make whoever raised us - proud.

(5) Reclaiming The African Child 
I really dont understand why - over here - MOST adverts for international charities have to feature a starving African child. It seems as if they feel that is the way to make people feel like giving. I also wonder why people who are raising funds for an African based charitable cause say 'They are raising money for AFRICA !!

OMG ! OMG !! 'Raisi'ng money for Africa?' Is it too much to ask 'Where in Africa?'......'What project?' .........'For how long..?'

I am not saying Africa doesnt have issues BUT not all African children are suffering, starving or disadvantaged. FYI, child poverty is a huge issue here. If you doubt me, please see here OR here OR here OR even here.

Know yourself no be curse.

See you all very soon

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Thank You

Recently, DNW and Ibhade have touched on Blogger Etiquette.

Sometimes we need posts like these to remind us of how we should behave and treat others on blogsville.

On my part, their posts have reminded me to say a BIG THANK YOU to............:
- Everyone who visits my blog;
- Everyone who comments;
- Everyone who writes on blogsville and encourages other writers
- Especially to the 173 people who follow this blog.

You all make me feel special. May all our dreams come true and may all our talents never be wasted. Amen

I'll be back soon

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Immigration 101 - Part Two

(6) When immigrants wont let go of the past:

One of my favourite verses - Luke 9:62 -  in the Bible states 'And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back is fit for the kingdom of God'

I love the simplicity of it because one can also apply it to different aspects of life:
- A new bride/ groom who still reminisces about old boyfriends/ girlfriends is not ready to build a happy home;
- A secondary school student who longs for the simplicity of primatry school is not ready to work hard;
- A mother who continues to moan that she misses her carefree childless days, is not prepared to be a good mother;
- An athlete who continuously looks over his/her shoulder - to check the competition during a race - is likely to stumble

I cannot tell you how many times I have seen Nigerians send money home to build mansions in Nigeria while they inhabit homes that can only be described as 'painful to the eyes'. Some send luxurious cars back home........which relatives end up driving on their behalf.

This situation is not exclusive to Nigerians. I have Indian and Pakistani colleagues/ friends who complain about same: Parents who built fabulous houses in their home countries..........while they have brought up children in very cramped accommodation.........all in the name of building a retirement home or showing their peers that they are successes abroad.

In my opinion, maintaining a link to one's country of origin should never be at the expense of one's dependants. An immigrant who spends more time wondering what s/he is missing out on in the country s/he not ready to build a successful life in his new country.

(7) When Nigerians/ immigrants refuse to adapt:
I am a true believer in staying true to oneself.....However, I am also believer in the saying 'Give unto Caesar what is Caesar and unto God what is God's'

One of the most difficult things an immigrant has to face is the need to adapt:
- Regarding Employment: A need to update his/her skills or education
- Regarding Finances: A need to understand that western society is generally a cash-less society (good credit rating is important)
- Regarding Education: A need to understand the education system if you want your kids to excel
- Regarding A need to understand the 'unwritten codes' i.e. what's acceptable or not

However, quite a lot of immigrants expect the society to adapt to them....Not going to happen.

Restricting all communication, socialising and interaction to the familiar (i.e. only your community) is not really helpful as one might never get to understand his/her new environment.

(8) When Nigerians do not patronise other Nigerians:
I am always frustrated when I see fellow Nigerians who do not encourage other Nigerian business owners. s  I am not talking about the businesses that deal in African food.....but the Nigerians who have other businesses.

Unfortunately, it seems Nigerians still prefer to patronize other nationalities when it comes to non-food transactions. I dont know if its a matter of distrust or envy but it amazes me when some Nigerians over here will pay double to someone else and then prefer to owe their fellow Nigerian.

(9) When immigrants think 'business' is a way out of dealing with 'the system': 
I have seen numerous immigrants decide to go into 'business' because they feel that is a way to avoid the 'system' or be independent. I applaud this choice as much as I despair about it. I applaud this because I believe the spirit of entrepreneurship means successful business owners will motivate others and break boundaries.

However, I do despair at times because some fail to realise that not everyone is cut for business.

More often than not, if you ask some of my fellow immigrants what kind of business they have in  mind, they are vague OR they base their business model on imitating someone else's business idea. Most don't think it through and the result is that most of these businesses fold up within a year. In my experience, a business MUST seek to address a need; MUST differentiate itself and MUST evolve to outlive its competitors.

The new phenomenon is that quite a lot decide to return to their home countries to start 'business'. I wont bore you with how many succeed and how many don't but believe me when I say that the vacumm left by a parent who spends most of his/her time in another country is not easy to fill.

I totally applaud the bravery of those who choose to start businesses - at home or abroad .........However, .my applause ceases in cases where the individual has chosen to invest huge sums in a business while they ignore the needs of their offspring.

(10) When immigrants forget about the other fingers:
'When a man points a finger at someone else, he should remember that three of his fingers are pointing at himself'

Immigrants often accuse their hosts of everything - while forgetting they are guilty of same:
- Complaining about racism...........???: How is that different from tribalism?
- Complaining that your hosts make fun of your skin colour............???: How is that different for the preference for lighter skinned Africans?
- Complaining about white parents who dont want their kids marrying Africans........?:  How many Africans dont feel the same?
- Complaining about how expensive everything is over here..........:  I agree..........but that's why things work
 - Complaining, Complaining, Complaining ...........???: Just deal with the here and be your papa house be this so save your energy and hustle (This is not your father's house so save your energy and get a move on)

In the words of Vintage Nollywood ...........'To God Be The Glory' LOL
Stay blessed everyone