Monday, February 19, 2024
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To you, Long Distance Mum

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Woman with temperature staying home wrapped in scarf and drinking hot tea

Dear Mum – with kids miles away,

I cannot claim to know how you feel, still, I am writing this for you, to let you know that you are seen, wherever in the world you may be.

If you have been following my blog you would know that I have a soon-to-be two-year-old daughter, and if I had a good reason to leave her behind somewhere (even in the best of hands), I would probably weep every day; from not being there to hold her, feed her, play with her, and grow with her. I would wonder if she misses me or remembers me less. So no, I cannot relate to all the emotions you must feel, but at the very least I can imagine, and it makes my heart wrench.

…her son called her auntie…

Sometime last year, a friend mentioned how over a video call with her son, he called her Auntie. Goodness, it was barely six months since she traveled abroad to study. This was also after she managed to get his attention, as he seemed more interested in his physical environment than a face and voice over the phone.

Moments like this will fill you with doubt, worry, guilt, jealousy, resentment, or other ugly emotions. They can make you frequently lethargic and perpetually stressed, affect your productivity, and make you less interested in building connections within your physical environment. You are by yourself, pushing through each day, trying to make it work, and you probably can’t complain to hubby and family back home, especially if you are African – ‘Well you chose to go’.

I call you courageous, I call you strong, and I pray your choices bring you and your family great rewards. I also have a few tips that I think you may find helpful as you navigate your path:

  1. Continue to make those video calls. Stick with a schedule and do not get discouraged even when your kids are running around rather than just staring you in the face and smiling. Call in the morning and at night, join for devotion, and stay on the call as they get ready for the day or school, to the extent that you can.

    I know that time zone differences can be a challenge, but together with your spouse or whomever your kids are with, think about it and come up with an arrangement that works.

    we make/have time for who/what we prioritize

    Years back, I had a boss whose family lived in Canada. He was the General Manager of a food processing firm, and nobody else in the company was busier than him. Yet it was from him that I learned ‘we always make/have time for who/what we prioritize’. Jagaban (as we dearly called him) often had his iPad positioned on the right corner of his table, with a video call ongoing as we went through our 9-5. They were not always speaking, but he/they was/were there.

    This may not work for you, just think of how to be consistently present and stick with it, no matter what.

  2. You must believe your children love and need you. Many days it won’t feel like it, but they do.

    My daughter used to be all around me (gum-body) until a couple of weeks back when I resumed school and began to be less around in the afternoons. She grew so attached to her dad within days; he picked her up from school and cared for her till I returned. She insisted on doing most things with him, and one day when I went to pick her up from school, she kept saying – Daddy? Daddy? Daddy? Daddy? It was so annoying. It was annoying, but I sang her nursery rhymes till we got home. I fed her and changed her clothes. I played with her and did everything she needed her mum to do. Because, she loves me and needs me, whether or not she screams daddy all day.

    …you are carved deep within their hearts

    Do not take children’s preferences to heart, they mean no harm. You are their mum and you are carved deep within their heart. So keep showing up, even if it is via a video call.

  3. Pay attention to your relationship with your spouse, (or whomever your kids are with). You want to be sure your children are being reminded of your presence and love, even in your absence. You want to know that they are not being misinformed about you. This is important, as it can either ease your relationship with the kids or make it tough. Nourish this relationship as it is a very crucial one.

    …a career does not have to come at the expense of family

    One of the best things in the life of a woman (or man) is a spouse who supports her (his) growth and pursuits; because with a person like this, a career does not have to come at the expense of family. A benefit to one is seen as a benefit to all.

  4. Go home as soon and as often as you get the chance. Do not compare yourself with other people; a single person may choose to save money rather than travel to wherever their family is, but you are different. When money and time intersect, please go home; and if all you have is only a few days, spend it loving them intensely. Get to meet their new friends and teachers, and be intentional about creating memories that make them long for you again.

    Give the best there is to give, even virtually

The world is changing whether we like it or not; the impact of globalization is bigger than we know it. How you engage with that change is up to you; your values and priorities. We are having to make tough choices by the day, but don’t beat yourself up over it. Give the best there is to give, even virtually, and I pray God brings you together under one roof again, soon.

Stay blooming.

Practicing Kindness

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In a world where you can be anything, be kind - Zara Bejmyr

I used to be a mindless surfer of the internet and social media. I am less so now, and sometimes I go weeks without opening Instagram or my Quora notifications. That said, today, I am sharing something that came to mind while browsing through Instagram. I am sharing it because it touches on kindness, and since September, SA’s book Random Acts of Kindness has been a manual for me.

Kindness has become so uncommon, and yet as a candle suddenly lit in darkness, a simple word or act of kindness can make a huge difference.

On a popular blog on Instagram, I saw a post of a young girl in tears. While I know she is of course an adult, she looked like a scared teenager. She was crying profusely, and as she spoke her voice was broken up. She had recently relocated to Canada and was having a very depressing experience from the shock of loneliness and change. I felt deeply for her, even as I wondered in my head ‘How are some people so convinced that those who care the most are on social media?’

@iStock

You know how they say the comment section is where it is happening? I think so too, and I was curious to see just how many viewers cared for this sad lady. Nothing was surprising there, as comments like ‘Take your bags and go to the damn airport’, ‘How can you record yourself crying?’, ‘Take some weed and feel alright’, ‘This one is on her period’, ‘Get a man, everything will change’, ‘Abroad systems are not built for introverts’, and ‘Please let us switch places’ littered the place.

Then I saw this ‘Where in Canada are you?’ and then this ‘Can someone tag her here please?’, and tears welled up in my eyes.

We all have standpoints, lenses through which we view the world, and that is why the more educated I get the less likely it is that I will insist that someone is wrong in how they think. Those comments reflect the background and realities of the writers. Some of us are no better, we judge, but unlike the bolder people, we keep our disapproving thoughts to ourselves (I fall in this category sometimes, thankfully, not most times), driven by the saying ‘if I have nothing good to say, then I will say nothing’. It is a fine mantra, and some would even call this silence kindness in a sense.

@iStock

But, you see those who can regardless of what they think about a person or situation, take initiative or make the choice to try and do something to help or produce a change, they are the real Gs. Folakemi is more and more like this every day, by choosing and by the grace of God. I implore you to be too.

God forbid that this person here gets on the news tomorrow for having committed suicide. Alas! The comments will be different. It is only then that many will realize that mental resilience differs greatly from one person to another, and even though you may never be pushed to record yourself crying, someone else easily will.

Some people can never be pushed to vent about their marriages, work, friends, in-laws, or local church on social media; it does not mean there is something wrong with those who do. Sure, the cons are obvious and more for the latter, but do not judge people as though everyone was you.

Let people breathe, and you practice kindness.

I recently helped bring about change in a matter that I was unaffected by. I could have just kept quiet, and not drawn unnecessary attention, but I chose to speak up. Immediately after speaking ‘worry’ coursed through my veins as cold water washes down a dehydrated throat. Who sent me? Then I saw my phone beep, a text from one of those affected – ‘Thank you for saying it, love.’ She had not even been one of those on my mind when I chose to speak up. One week later, we got the news that the change would be effected. The word for how I felt, I have still not found.

Be kind with your words and actions. Be kind within your family and without. Be kind to those who share your faith and opinions, and to those who do not. Be kind to children and to the old. Be kind to strangers, and they are mostly not angels from God. The best acts of kindness are the ones where the receivers cannot pay you back.

For more reflection on kindness please click here to read and download the book by SA – Random Acts of Kindness, for free. If you would like to pay for it, we will consider it as donations which will be used to execute a kindness project. You can send an email to projects@seyifunmiadebote.com

You are also invited to join us at the book launch, to be held on World Kindness Day – Monday, November 13, both onsite in Uppsala-Sweden and virtually.  A Kindness Run by the Abuja Run Club on Saturday,  November 11. You can check them out on Instagram, do a run at your location the same day, and share your pictures.

@abujarunclub

How to move on, without closure

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man standing on the bright and the dark background in the doorway with shadow

Closure means different things to different people; acceptance, apology, explanation, restitution, reconciliation, a gift, or a simple recall of something that was said. Sometimes it is a combination of at least two of these. In a broad sense, closure is an action or interaction that suffices as settlement. While it may not remove a scar, it often kickstarts or catalyzes healing.

...you feel helpless against it

When a person has had a traumatic experience that they can’t seem to move on from or a hurt that won’t go away, it can be because they haven’t found closure. Sometimes it feels like an emptiness that won’t fill up. You feel strong and fresh emotions from an event that happened a long time back, and while you may not hate or despise anyone, you know that you are stuck in a place of pain and anger, regret, or even shame, and you feel helpless against it.

It may be as simple as getting fired from your job unfairly, parental abandonment, sexual assault without consequences to the perpetrator, being ghosted by a friend, or the sudden death of a loved one. Incidents like these would leave anyone with questions, and not getting answers can feel devastating. It feels like fetters keep you tied to that incident, and there is no moving forward or leaving it behind.

...closure does not translate to liberation

I have had a fair share of situations like this, where I felt I needed closure to get past it. There was a time when I went out of my way to show love, honor, and acceptance to certain people, and after a little while, I learned that they were saying very unkind things about me. It was hard to deal with because it wasn’t a setting where I could casually call everyone up and seek clarity. I had questions but no one to provide the answers; and soon the hurt became anger. I became like an active volcano, boiling and simmering, waiting for the perfect time to erupt. By God’s mercy, I never erupted, but a lava-full mountain was already a bad enough thing to become.

In my recent reflections on how I managed to move past most of these things, I realized that while closure is helpful in healing and emotional recovery, it is not responsible for liberation. Remorse or restitution from others has never been the reason I moved forward, rather I first acknowledged how I felt and then chose to move forward despite it. So while an apology may feel good to have, it wouldn’t matter if it never came. Closure places importance on what someone else can do for you; that is to say, only the person or system that hurt you can release you. It is a mindset that takes power from you and leaves it in the hands of other people. That can’t be right.

...fill up with faith, zeal & zest!

Not getting closure cannot be your excuse for staying down and swirling in the filth of anger, resentment, shame, or depression. For your own sake, you must face the pain (yes, whatever it is), and fill the emptiness with something more than the answers anyone can give you. Fill it up with faith, zeal, and zest.

Sometimes, it’s our ego that needs the apology, our curiosity that insists and waits on an explanation, or perhaps the fear of moving on. Whatever your experience may have been, I hope you remember that the most significant piece you need to move on is you.

 

Till your visit here, stay blooming.

Feature image from iStock by Getty images

As Thirty draws near

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I clock 30 in exactly two weeks, yeah, three whole decades. It’s dreamy in a sense, to think that I have been around for quite a while too, and now I am walking into what humans call ‘mid-life’. While I am particularly pleased with how the months preceding September have played out, it only makes sense to reflect further back. You’ll agree with me that landmark birthdays are a particularly perfect time for deep reflecting, alongside a number of other things.

Pictures from age 21 and 22

I have come a long way from the girl I was at twenty, and I am super proud of the woman that I am today. The woman I want to be, the one I was made to be, is a journey, and I am thankful that I am right where I should be now. Given that the last ten years have been a swirl of highs and lows, tears and laughter, heartbreaks and blissfulness, and loss and gains, there is nothing that I regret. I am beginning another lap of my race armed with lessons from 30 years.

On your mark, set, 30...

I tend to have retreats only when entering a new calendar year, but this is 30 (Yeske!). So, I penned a number of things, activities actually, to do weeks and days before D-day. Reflective Thanksgiving ranks topmost on my list because the summary of my 30-year life story is this – ‘Because the Lord my God is the builder and maker of this house that is me, my labor has not been in vain; and because he is my keeper, I and all that are mine have been sustained’ (Psalm 127:1). Reflecting rewards you with understanding and wisdom that only come from hindsight. To plan adequately for the future we must draw insight from the past. Hence, whatever my aspirations for the next decade, they are for the pleasure of God, my builder, maker, and keeper. All of it! Toripe emi ko ni se asedanu (life is too short to be laboring in vain).

Prayers, in Jesus name!

If in any way at all I have added color to your life or day (not black I hope), I humbly ask that you find some time to say some words of prayer for me and speak good things into my new decade. Below is a summary of the things that matter to me in this new decade, in case you’re wondering what to pray for/about.

  • I am running to stay fit, and eating more mindfully because I want to be able to serve God better and longer. Bodily exercise profits little…, I want to get every bit of that little profit.
  • My career roadmap is tailored towards nation-building and that requires competence and a state of heart that only God can impart (Psalm 78:72). There is nothing I dream of more than a time when those stirring the wheels of nations will be Seasoned Christians who are competent and love/service driven. There in that dream, is a place for me.
  • Family-wise, I simply want to be more, and more, of a true Christian to my dear ones, enjoy life with them, and make many more days delightfully memorable.
  • I want to pray and intercede so much more, I have seen God answer prayers so beautifully in these past years, nothing is beyond Him. I earnestly want to see and partake in the rejoicing and celebrating of friends and family around me as God shows Himself great in their lives and homes.
  • This is the first picture of them on my blog - strange!
  • I want to pay more attention to my mum and dad and devote more time to enjoying their company and sharing more in their moments. I want to contribute enormously to the quality of the rest of their lives (which is many many many more years, in Jesus name).
  • I want to travel a bit more; eat, drink, dance, and take loads of pictures.
  • …and on a lighter note – that my front hairline will be restored. The way it is going now,  it has become a prayer point. Baldness is not the portion of this beautiful daughter of God.

Not too ambitious? Well well well.

Yippie!

I hope you pray for me.

Thank you, Keep blooming!

A Bruised Reed

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Yaaay! It’s Saturday, again. For breakfast I am making local (jollof) rice; the one with palm oil, locust beans, dry fish and diced pepper. Not quite bougie, but I know you want it.

Anyways, I hope you had a rewarding week, and are enjoying some quality ‘alone’ or ‘family time’ this weekend.

I began writing a story a couple of months back, and although I haven’t been very committed to it, it’s about half way gone. The story casts the spotlight on the ripple effects of parental choices, dysfunctional homes, and the negligence for mental health care among Christians. Quick warning though, this is intended as a one-off post and not a series, but when the story is complete, you will see it first! I’ll really love to get your comments, opinions or questions. Enjoy!

********

Hannah smoothed out her skirt as she settled into a couch in the waiting lounge at the Teema Foundation for the Elderly. Nerve racked with anxiety, she tried to focus on the details of her surrounding. Only four weeks had passed since her last visit, yet the lounge had changed so much that she could easily be in a different building. The velvet settees arranged in a U shape had been replaced with chestnut-colored single leather couches that formed a circle. The revolving magazine rack which was usually at the center of the room was gone, in place of it were wall-mounted shelves which also held varieties of pot plants. The walls and drapes were still cloud white with just as many picture frames of nature hanging over them. For an organization like TFE, the decor had to be purposeful and so she wondered what this new look was supposed to say or do to visitors.

For her, velvet or brown mattered little, it was the cheerfulness and warmth of the staff that got to her; they made her imagine a room of her own within these walls. A place of solace, where she didn’t have to know or care about life outside. Parkinson’s or not, these oldies have it good.

“Mrs. Darlington”

Her reverie interrupted, Hannah looked up at the familiar face beaming with a smile, she had not seen her approach. “Hi, Olivia. Is she out now?”

“Yes she is, please come with me” The Hispanic-looking nurse replied.

Following fast behind she gave a little shiver. She knew she looked like a billion-dollar on stilettos, radiating confidence and composure with each heel click. On the inside though, she was scared, nervous, angry, tired, and caving. As she stepped out unto the orchard, on the west wing of the facility, her eyes darted towards the pavilion by the cupid-sculpted waterfall – Doreen’s favorite spot at midday.

“There she is!” said Olivia. “Would you like to get anything from the cafeteria? I can have it sent down to you.”

“No, thank you. I’ll be just fine.” Hannah said hastily and smiled to take the crisp of her response. As she neared Doreen she saw her sister’s familiar smile, sighing, she let a smile creep up her face to match it. It was always a relief to see Doreen. The voices in her head, the monsters that plagued her dreams at night and her thoughts at day time, always gave her a break when she was with Doreen. They were nine years apart but Doreen understood her and could read her just well. She wasn’t just her sister, she was her kindred spirit.

Doreen held up her arms inviting Hannah into a warm embrace. The sisters hugged and Hannah planted a kiss on her cheek. Settling into the wooden chair opposite Doreen, Hannah asked how she was doing. They made small talk about the beautiful weather and the new oldie on Doreen’s floor who had a sleepwalking habit. Doreen described the first night she had bumped into her on the way to the washroom in the wee hours of the night. The sisters laughed themselves to tears.

As the laughter subsided, Hannah clasped her hands on the table and stared past her sister to the waterfall behind her.

Doreen studied her little sisters face. Hannah had always been easily malleable and trusting, she bore no suspicion and could never read between the lines. For such a simple heart, she had grown into a deeply tormented woman. Nine years apart and she was looking just as old as Doreen, her make-up did little to hide it. Her lips were slightly parted and she had a slight crease between her eyes. Doreen clasped her hands around Hannahs.

“Love. What’s on your mind?”

Hannah moved her gaze towards her sister’s face and then their clasped hands. She pulled her hands away to reach for her bag. From it, she brought out a yellow A4-sized envelope and placed it on the table next to Doreen.

“I am leaving him” She muttered. Tears welled up in her eyes and she tilted her face upward to restrain them from draining out.

For a few seconds, there was a pause as the sisters looked at each other, pain etched in their expressions. Doreen stared long at the envelope before lifting her hands to her face with her elbows on the table.

Hannah wasn’t sure how she had expected her sister to take the news of her intended divorce, but it was certainly not this way, the silence was confusing. Then she saw the first streak of tear, and right after it another. Tears flowed down her sister’s face and hands as though they had been held captive for too long.

“No. No. No. I can’t do this” Doreen murmured amidst tears.

“Doreen?” “I thought you’d understand. You’re the only one who could understand. Please… say something to me. Tell me you understand, tell me it’s the right thing to do. Please.” Hannah reached out and drew her hands from her face. She saw raw pain.

Eyes shut tight, Doreen continued to mutter incoherent words, sniffing and weeping. Hannah got uncomfortable, if any of the nurses or staff saw Doreen this way they would ask Hannah to leave. Hannah drew her chair closer to Doreen, placed her head on her shoulder, and rubbed her back gently.  As Doreen quietened, she looked at Hannah and said “I’m sorry Hannah, I am so sorry.”

“No Doreen. It is no fault of yours. It is I who should be sorry. I come here all the time to whine and cry when it is you who needs all the attention.”

“You don’t understand Hannah. You don’t. All that you’ve known is a lie. It’s all been a lie, my sweet Hannah. We’ve made you live a lie; mother and I. But I can’t let it ruin you anymore, not you too.”

“What are you saying? I don’t understand, you’re not making sense. What lie? What did mum do?” Hannah asked looking pensive.

 

Feature  photo – iStock

Hello, August

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Dear friends, I am sorry I have been MIA here.

Life hasn’t been a tale of woes; on the contrary, it has been blissful and consistently progressive. Yet, holding on in faith and pulling through the highs and lows of each day required a pause.

Ernest Hemingway says “A writer must write…”, and at the moment he may not consider me a ‘writer’, but dunk it, I write. Sharing on the other hand has turned out to be more difficult than simple.

In the last year, I have been in a process, and one thing that isn’t easy to share is ‘process’.

The closest to ‘taking a pause’ look I could find

Nonetheless, I was up in the wee hours of yesterday typing away because, within a space of a week, three amazing subscribers here asked why I haven’t written in a while, a long while. Though my responses were dodgy, I deeply appreciate them. Coincidentally bloomwithme.org was birthed in August, and it seemed just right to make a post.

FK is very expressive (I can’t handle storing up feelings, good or bad, so I either talk about them or write about them – I wish I could draw too). It is how I appreciate things, events, and people, or let out steam. So I have been writing, just not sharing, and here’s partly why.

It has been a roller coaster kind of a year for me (I mean August ’22 to August ’23). While I am trying to figure out what just happened, something else is happening, and then all of a sudden nothing at all is happening, only for another nothing to happen again, and then two somethings come crashing right in. Do you see how that sounds? So while there is so much I am grateful for, it’s tangled up with so much I am stressed about.

Once and rather unfortunately, in a bid to encourage conversation with someone I shared my feelings about relocating, and this person ran off lecturing me about how lucky I should count myself. They are abroad now and I truly hope it’s a bed of red, purple, and white roses for them. But really, that’s the trending perspective.

You can’t share so much about the stress you feel as a young mother because motherhood is a gift after all, and you should be grateful. Some would even imply that you are weak or just not doing something right.

You can’t share the stress and disruption you feel from moving from your home country to another country (for whatever reason). “What?!! The opportunity so many are praying and striving for! Maybe it’s just not working out that well for you because every other person is having fun at this thing”.

Oh, how I miss my job (I loved what I did). “Ah! How much is 1N to a dollar? What’s there to miss?”

… and so on. …and so forth. But this is me in a nutshell.

It’s not just that I miss my siblings and parents so much, but that I have no idea when next I’d see them in person.

It’s not about if and how much more I am earning now, but that I miss doing work that I love and enjoy.

Star girl

Oh trust me, my daughter is a gift like nothing else, I see her say or do something so brilliant and kind, and I want to cry – how come God loves me this much! Still, my friend, raising a child will test the very fiber of your being (better make sure it’s anchored in Christ).

Lucky us, we found a good church with supportive people, yet I miss the ones back home where I was already planted, groomed, and bloomed.

I am so glad I can now ride a bicycle, but I loved it better when my dear husband was my willing chauffeur.

There are days when I crave goat meat and palm wine. I may find Holland-imported goat meat, but from where will the palm wine come?

Oha Soup (elemi meje) in Sweden

Anyways, I am truly gaining momentum again and even feeling more inclined to share. So fingers crossed, let’s see what I come up with.

Ah yes! One other thing, between losing my Nigerian line and switching phones, I lost most of my saved contacts, and it has been painful. Here is my new number +46739659055, please save it and drop a ‘hi’ anytime.

I hope I write again soon.

Till then; Keep Blooming!  

Is Consistency Overrated?

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When folks use this word, they usually are attempting to speak about steady continuity. The quality of persistence; keeping at it even after the initial excitement, ease, encouragement, or approval wanes. As such, consistency is indeed an admirable quality in any positive context.

Why then are we surrounded by people, institutions, and organizations that have stayed true to their mission and vision, strategy and outputs, or patterns, and yet become redundant, visibly invisible, archaic, and least desirable over the years?

While I am eager to share examples with you, I will not, but I will make it easy for you. Consider TV stations, FMCGs, and restaurants that may have been your top choice decades back and are still alive today but no longer make your preference list. Not because you are not their target market, but because you have outgrown that taste or service level.

It is the same logic for individuals with gifts and talents that used to be but now are not, even though they are still present. These abound in the creative space and Christendom. Yes, Christendom – I said what I said. While many like to make God the excuse for stagnancy or redundancy, a lack of wisdom and drive can indeed debar one from manifesting to full potential and God will not force it.

Consistency is not doing the same thing the same way regardless of everything else. Consistency is;

Failing Forward: Quite simple; do not quit after you fail. Instead, become better equipped from the lessons learned and try again.

Evolving & innovating: Innovation lies at the heart of timelessness. People and organizations grow faster when they devote ample time to proactive thinking and brainstorming. Whatever the scale of your work, make out time to think – take the step – rethink – take steps. Reach out to people (network), read books (articles, podcasts, etc.), research, and take calculated risks.

Rebranding: This can be proactive or reactive; whichever it is can have great benefits or risks. Rebranding helps you to create a new image for yourself, your business, or your work in the eye of those you serve. It can be the route to engaging an entirely new market, audience, or class or changing your output and priorities.

Reinventing: This is not just changing the image of what you do in people’s eyes; it is becoming something entirely new or different. Most times, after doing something for so long we feel ashamed to move on to something else, even when we know that there is nothing for us on this spot anymore. At other times, unreasonable obstinacy keeps one rooted in the same spot, doing the same thing, the same way, and getting no results or fulfillment. Get out of your way, and become again. You can return to school at 30, change your career path at 40, or start a business at 50!

Revising your goals: Goals can change! Dreams can metamorphose! If your perspective at 31 can be different from what it was at 21, then it is safe to say that goals and aspirations too can change. They can be tweaked and modified, and this is just fine! Do not stay painfully devoted to an endgame that is no longer of import, nor serves the intended purpose or humanity anymore.

People say that consistency is keeping at it even when no one applauds you, and this is right. But then again, think about it – do food companies continue to produce even when they are not selling?

You must pay attention to those you aim to reach (is there a better way to reach them), and not mindlessly carry on – that is the broad way to redundancy.

Also, determine your success metric(s) – what does success mean to you? Not to everyone else, but to you.

 

Till your next visit here, stay blooming!

Fairytales, Myths, and Your Kids

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The community libraries here are functional and easy to navigate. They are divided into sections that make it easy to locate whichever book you are looking for. The shelves are labeled and the books are color coded such that you can tell if the content matches your interests or values. When I visit the library I spend the most time in the kiddies section, it’s cozier. The books are categorized for different age groups, and as you would expect, those for infants and toddlers contain more pictures than text. The pages are also made of hard paper to prevent tearing. Pardon my oversharing; I just love how deliberate, inclusive, and self-maintaining the system is.

SA borrowed some books and got one for Ari. I was excited to read that it provided answers to curious children’s questions. As I flipped the pages I looked forward to learning simple ways to educate curious minds. The answers to the first two questions about why the ocean is blue and what rainfall is were: fishes cry blue tears and flying fishes are crying.

I was disappointed. There is indeed a species of fish that can fly/glide in the air for short intervals – the flying cod), but fish don’t fly nor do they cry.

While I understand that we’ve built an industry from fairytales and myths for kids and adults alike, I continue to ponder the hidden effects of the falsehood of fairytales. I am not talking about ‘happily ever after’ endings; these are not necessarily make-believe. I am talking about how we buy gifts for our kids and tell them it was Santa Claus rewarding their good behavior. Or that a fairy replaced their broken tooth with some money while they slept. I am no tooth fairy and I have no idea why we are swapping teeth for cash.

Indeed fairytales give room for imagination and kids feel a sense of ‘anything is possible for me’. But does it translate into creativity? Is it more empowering to feed a curious mind with falsehood, than to break down complex answers into the simplest possible truths?

In church, I interact with kids across different age brackets. I don’t teach them, I just love to have casual chats with them now and then. There is a beautiful 3-year-old called Dukia, and she talks. I honestly think she would laugh at me for being silly if I told her that flying fishes are crying.

With a prism, you can show your kid something that makes them marvel for days! The realization that inside light (sunlight or torch light) there are all these other beautiful colors – just like the rainbow. The seawater is like a prism (glass). Some of the colors enter into the sea and so we can’t see them, but the blue-like colors don’t enter, they stay on top of the sea, so we see only that.

Khali_Handkerchief

picture from @bloesemkids

We need to stop acting like school is where discovery starts and ends. A hand lens, rubric cubes, and paint sets (which you may even make from your scrap) should be in your home just as paw patrol toys are.  One afternoon after school, I must have been 7 or 8, I was playing outside the compound with other kids. One of our neighbors returned from work and asked me to follow her to her apartment. She had come home with materials that we (her 3 daughters, herself, and I) used to make embroidered handkerchiefs that afternoon. That experience has stayed with me ever since, knowing people did things like that in their homes.

You are probably thinking; the hustle for a livelihood is real and there is no time for this. Well, as parents we can choose the seeds we sow or not, but keep in mind that nothing extraordinary is convenient. It is common for parents to see a child prodigy and say; see your mate! But we don’t stop to compare parenting styles. And if you say that it is all about genetics and not nurture – the joke is on you.

There were three peculiar sisters in my secondary school. Each girl led her entire set from start to finish. The youngest of the trio was in my set, and she was the Head Girl in our final year (SS3). When as a group we had come to our wits’ end in solving a math, physics, or chemistry problem, we’d take it to this girl, and that would be that. It was the same with her sister before her, and their eldest sister before them. There wasn’t one subject where they weren’t leading. Three girls, one home; what was happening in that house? There had to be something the parents were doing and I doubt it included stories of crying fish.

Another thing that disturbs me about all these fairytales and magical fantasies for kids is this; in a Christian home how do we combine the teachings of God and His power, with Cinderella’s fairy godmother and the tooth fairy? How do you tell them to be good so they can get gifts from Santa Claus in December, but to also be good just because God says so? Isn’t it confusing?

Hmm… I don’t know. You decide.

Embracing Equity – The Zelophehad Sisters

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IWD2023

Now, much more than ever, International Women’s Day (IWD) is becoming well-celebrated and publicized, with organizations hosting events to commemorate the day, and people (men and women) across the world sharing pictures with gestures depicting the year theme. In fact, the month of March is fast becoming one for awareness and sensitization on gender inclusion and equity.  This is rightly so. The IWD is indeed an essential reminder of the role women play in the development and sustainability of any community, sector, or economy. I join the rest of the world to celebrate women and the many efforts (small and large scale) towards recreating the environment as an equal enabler for women.

I recently read Numbers 27 (It’s a book in the Bible), and it struck me that even as far back as 1450 BC there were women already advocating for the rights of women, for more inclusive laws (policies), especially in the distribution of productive resources. What an evolution!

IWD: International Women's Day 2023 campaign theme: #EmbraceEquity

They were 5 sisters, but this will do; LOL!

If you’d like to know the back story please read Numbers 27:1-11, Numbers 36, and Joshua 17:3. Here, I will dive into four, plus one extra lesson we can appreciate and emulate from the actions of the Zelophehad sisters as we continue to advocate for reforms and policies that are gender inclusive and equal.

The power of Agency:

There were five sisters affected, and five of them showed up. If only one had shown up, she may not have been taken seriously. She may not even have communicated as clearly and firmly. In today’s world, you don’t have to be affected; merely knowing that your future daughter, your beloved nieces, or your sister may face some form of discrimination, or disenfranchisement should make you eager to stand with and for gender equity at any and every level.

Perhaps if the entire women of Israel had come and spoken with the Zelophedad sisters, the new law may have been even more inclusive.

I do believe in the power of one. However, taking Nigeria for example, we would find that there is more power vested in ‘agency’ than ‘individuality’ when it comes to advocacy.

Be tactical

These sisters did not go to the market square, stripping themselves naked, pouring ash on their heads, and crying – we have no help! We have no help! No. They developed a speech that appealed to the irrefutable quality of the ultimate decision-maker – Justice! God is just. They were likely thinking this way – “We need to let Him see how excluding us from the land allocations is unjust”. We know He cannot be unjust, we know it, so we must build our case on that”.  “Our father died, he had no sons, will you wipe out his name from the fold for something that is no fault of his? He has daughters, through us his name lives on, give us his land!”.

Who is the policy maker? Where do their interests lie and what is their mandate?  If this situation is turned around, how does it enable or contribute to their mandate? We must put forward our competence and strength of character, not sell weakness. Women have value and tremendous abilities, and we must show the world what it is missing. This works way better than organizing a pity party. Pity parties get hand-downs.

Also, we will be clear about what we want without infusing insults into our message.

Approach the right office or channel

These sisters did not go to the leaders of their clan or the wives of the priests. Some folks know your pain, but they don’t believe your pain is unfair, they think you should just suck it up because that’s just how the world works. They’d tell you “That’s how my mother lived, that’s how I am living too, why should you want different?” These ones will either make you lose courage or stand as roadblocks. Besides they have no real power to effect the change you want to see. You have to get it right with the channel of advocacy.

These sisters came to the doorway of the holy tabernacle, where Moses and all the priests were gathered. Here Moses would have no choice but to consult God – “so how do we tackle this one Lord?” It was God the sisters came to meet, they knew Moses would have to consult him if they came here.

Be content with changing the norm in small steps

One would imagine that success would have looked like a new law allowing all women in all 12 tribes of Israel to inherit and own land. Well, they didn’t get that. Instead, where there are no sons, the daughters could now inherit land. This is change, progress, and impact because it is one step better than what it was before they spoke up.

The extra  one: The power of precedence

This is one word every HR person is familiar with, and while I worked in that space, it always helped stir the heart or force the hand of the management team towards a policy amendment or development. In this story, one cannot miss how God did not just say, ok give these ladies some land and let’s be done with it. No. He went further and made it the law. If we can be courageous enough to do it even though it has never been done, to say it as it has never been said, and to demand what has never been given; when we succeed we raise the bar, and others after us need not fight that battle again.

Happy IWD2023!!!

Picture from https://www.internationalwomensday.com/theme

Maximizing the Valentine Season

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Hey there!

This post was meant to be a movie review. I had seen the movie ‘The Wait’ and done a lovely piece where I detailed some lessons I wanted to share. However my laptop had a glitch and after fixing that, the document reverted to a very scanty first version. I will not be redoing it as I am too pained to try, so I am moving on, and TGiF (Thank God it’s February!)

February is always so infused with love. So far you’ve got data on your phone, you cannot escape the love bug in the air. I bet you have at least 2 – 3 vendors posting valentine’s sales on your TL, from clothing and perfumes to cakes and paranran. Like me, you may also have a couple of guys protesting campaigning for how they should also be at the receiving end of gifts and affection this season.

Anyways, this is a simple reminder that whether it’s valentine’s or it’s your anniversary, these dates come and go and the regular days are what you have 98% of the time. What are you doing with those? Are you also deliberate about love, commitment, responsibility, consideration, and forbearance, on regular days? The days when there aren’t any external frenzies to stir up and drive your emotions.

While happy Christian marriages/homes are a great encouragement to many onlookers who are being fed with news of divorce and breakup all over social media today, it is more important that beyond appearing happy, your marriage is thriving!

As a babe who loves the entire 9-mile of romance, I encourage you to please go all out in showing your spouse that they are cherished and well appreciated. However, if your marriage or relationship is not on course as God would have it be, then this is a perfect opportunity to make the needed changes. The flowers and gifts are great. But let communication for healing, and a determination to begin to strengthen your relationship, with Jesus at its center, accompany the lovely gifts.

It is always better to make it work between yourselves (and God). It is however good to have the discernment or at least common sense to know when it is pertinent to involve an appropriate 3rd party for help. There is no shame in getting help, just be careful about the ‘who’ and ‘when’.

Now tell me, what’s a good post without some gist?
I was craving some lovey-dovey time with just SA (let me spell that out – some time alone with my husband, in the absence of our daughter). No need to let your mind run wild, I only had a city tour and late-night dinner in mind, nothing indoors. However, this dream is not to be actualized this 14th, as we both have conflicting schedules while Ari is in preschool. So we’ll try again, on some regular day.

What are you and yours doing this 14th? If you’ve not made plans, well it’s not too late, you’ll find 10 great ideas here.

Happy Valentine’s to you and yours,

Till your next visit here, stay blooming.