In Memory of 2016

"Either way, I WIN."

I remember listening to Christine Caine sometime ago, when she told a story that has come to matter a great deal to me. She talked about being diagnosed with thyroid cancer and needing surgery. She was scared and terrified, as anyone would be in the face of such a precarious situation. So she prayed and cried out to God for help. After praying she realized there could only be two possible outcomes: one, the surgery is not successful and she dies. In which case, she goes to heaven, and that's a WIN; The second outcome is a successful surgery,  where she comes through hale and hearty. In this outcome, she also WINS. She said upon this realization, she assumed a new level of confidence and said “Either way Devil, I win”. Whatever the outcome, I WIN. That’s my biggest lesson from this year. In retrospect, I wish I was more confident of this fact. That whatever happens, NO MATTER the outcome, with God on my side I WIN. In the course of this year, I KNEW without any iota of doubt that there's a God and he's rooting for me.

And, If God is for us, who can be against us?

This year started very much like 2014; filled with optimism and confident in what was to come, I was certain the sky was the limit. But like the annoying sequence of my life I described here, things started to take an awkward turn when rejection after rejection started to pour in. When I say rejection, I mean from every single facet of my life. Everywhere and everything and everyone kept saying NO. I did not understand. I hard worked very hard, I was very qualified, I was ready; why were things not going my way? Anyway, it was a new year, but I was sad, depressed, angry, and most of all the situation was familiar. It was turbulent emotionally: one minute I was hopeful, the next I was ready to give up.

No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.

In the course of all these, I learnt how selfish people really are, and I decided  to care less about others or what they think. Because in the end people only mostly look out for themselves.  This brings me to my next point: family. I can't say this enough, but my family really, truly rocks. This year taught me the importance of family.  My family always supported me and believed in me even when I couldn't dare believe in myself. My parents always insisted that no matter what, we should count our blessings and trust God. They were (as they always are) right. God kept picking me up even at my lowest. He kept reminding me of how awesome, steadfast, and amazing he truly is.

The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.

For the first time in my life,  I almost bought a lie devil sold to me. I thought, "perhaps there is a God, but maybe he doesn't really care about us." But nah, God SHOWED me he rules in the affairs of men. I will never forget watching Bishop TD Jakes' A Crumb in Crisis on YouTube.  My God!  It changed my life. I watched it when I needed it the most.  I became rejuvenated. All that anger, hurt, disappointment, rage that I was feeling just dissipated. God reached out to me even when I wasn’t looking. He reminded me that no matter what happens, God loves me. I wasn't out of the woods, but it was clear the battle was not mine but the Lord's. Hence, devil had lost.

This year, God taught me to wait; life is more about the journey than the destination. Now, for a control freak and quasi-perfectionist, this is terrible news. But we must learn to forget about our own timelines and completely depend on and wait upon God. He taught me there is no surviving without God. Most of all, he taught me it's okay to question things. It's okay to be lost. It's ok to express your feelings to God.  I would advise anyone going through a tough time to check out Matt Bay's "Finding God in the Ruins" on YouVersion/Bible App.

But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

See, God had plans for me.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

April 2016, doors SWUNG open.

When it rained, it POURED.



God came through with full force. The miracles that have happened  in my life since April till this moment have been nothing short of God's relentless love. There is a God, and he loves me. Grace came through. Grace told me, "screw your achievements. Screw your qualifications. Screw your efforts." This is not platitude; It is not a cliche: God ALWAYS comes through. I am now on the path of achieving one of my biggest dreams. It's HARD but it is worth it. Most of all, I feel at ease.

2016 was the year I did the Whole 30 challenge and was pushed to my limits. I saw M twice this year after not seeing each other for years. I even had the time to take a vacation out of the country. I served in church for the first time ever. I remember first joining the presentation team and just mighty frustrated with how hard it was. In retrospect, everything this year seemed unnecessarily hard. I have since come to realize that only a few things give as much pleasure as the joy that comes from contributing to God's kingdom, no matter how little that contribution is.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

The above was the YouVersion verse of the year 2016; the bible verse that was shared, bookmarked, and highlighted most often by Bible App users worldwide in the year 2016, according to YouVersion. Indeed, if I had a verse of the year, it would be that. My plan on living intentionally was not completely foiled. I consistently blogged every most Sundays this year. That's great news for my constant journey to be  more disciplined. Further, I felt led to change the name of my blog to further reflect who I am. Despite a crazy and hectic schedule, I took the time to read for leisure, and went a step further by reviewing them on this blog in the Book of the Month series.  I gave my time more this year by serving and volunteering more for those around me who are less privileged. I lost my grandfather this year, but it was a life well lived and I'm grateful for the life he lived.

I can't talk about 2016 without talking about the election that shook many of us to our core. Like I mentioned here, I am enraged, furious that America did not elect her first female president. Yet when the story is being told in the future, I want my unborn children, niece(s) and nephew(s) to know that I stood on the right side of history; I stood with Her. I'm still constantly intrigued at everything that happened globally and politically this year. I read about what he whose name shall not be mentioned called Michelle Obama: an ape that belongs to Zimbabwe's forest. I just couldn't understand how one human being could have that much hate and vitriol in them. The election was devastating but it made me much more resolute to stand for what I believe in; and to always  embody the very values I profess. For a little while I was so uninspired by the political climate of the entire freaking world, that I forgot my principles. But the biggest lesson from that is when you fall, get right back up and keep fighting. I am more determined than ever to speak out for the poor, marginalized, voiceless, destitute, oppressed...because I'm confident that's what Jesus would do. I realize that I live in a bubble of my excessive privilege. Grateful as I may be for that, I am inclined to do more with the plenty God has bestowed me with.

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.

To those who found this year challenging; those who mourned; the people who failed woefully; those who tried so hard and struggled so hard, yet have nothing to show for it; those who demonstrated faith, unwavering faith, yet had their prayers unanswered; the people who felt like if there is a God, he probably hates them; those who don't even know who God is; The ones that spent every minute of 2016 in hospitals; those who cried themselves to bed every night; I hope you find joy, peace, and laughter in the coming year.

I have written down specific goals for 2017. But I'm not naive; I know I need God more than ever. I'm excited and hopeful for 2017.

Bring it on 2017. my FAITH is STILL UNWAVERING.

Love,

I

P.S: sorry this was very long. You are the real MVP for reading all the way through :-)

Merry Christmas!

I promise I have not forgotten I own a blog.

I had to come out of my quasi-hiding place to wish you a Merry Christmas! So this is to everyone who has read this blog this year; I'm grateful. I rarely ever talk about people reading, not because I don't want people to read or  care about people who do; I DO. It's just how the blog was birthed; a kind of online journal that helps me keep record of my life, so I can look back someday, and see how far God has brought me.

With that said, I think in coming months, I'll be more particular about YOU. I know how quiet YOU are, but Blogger says YOU always come around, so thank you. Although, I'm probably one of the more awkward people in real life, I've never had a problem communicating with writing. My pen/keyboard has always been more effective for me to communicate my feelings. Therefore, here goes. Thank you so much for sticking around, and following me on this journey. I'm grateful for you.

I hope everyone has/had a Merry Christmas. I'm very particular about the reason for the season: Jesus Christ. And sometimes, I still cry just thinking about the sheer love God has for us; that he would send us his only son while we were yet sinners. It's amazing, isn't it?


I don't want to talk too much here since I hope to still post my usual recap in the "In Memory of..." style. I do it every year; so I'm somewhat confident I will do it this year too. So help me God. Because chale, I have been LAZY. I'm really enjoying the Christmas break and just time with family. So writing has been a real chore.

Anyway, you are worth coming out of hiding. So excuse the rambling, but MERRY CHRISTMAS again.

God is AMAZING.

I wish you "Joy unspeakable".

Love,

I

Finding Joy in the Ordinary and a Smoothie Recipe

Two posts ago, I was all zen...and sounded quite pessimistic, for lack of a different word. It's all good in da hood, trust me. I learnt the huge difference between joy and happiness today in church (Shoutout to Citizen Heights #possibleawaits!!). Anyway, it did help me better understand where I'm at in life. I'm confident I have joy in me. I'm not always happy; no sane person is. But still, I've been learning to find joy in the ordinary. Shout out to YouVersion; my oh my...that's one app that's actually worth paying for, but it's totally free!!! I completed a plan about finding joy in the ordinary, and then today my church started a new series called JOYFUL. Coincidence? I think not. Part of my "joy" task is to find joy even in mundane, and especially when life doesn't go your way: while eating; having to wait for the train in this crazy cold weather; multitasking; reading leisurely; replying messages from people who aren't family and/or closest friends. Let me digress a little bit; responding to messages from (those who aren't close to me) has become some sort of herculean task now. Granted, I'm mostly occupied and all, but texting used to be my thing (hate phone calls).

WHY?!

Moving on.

The task is to find joy in these things and in life generally. I've really cut off social media from my life this year, and that has helped me a GREAT DEAL. Or not? I feel like social media sometimes helps to virtually connect and just smile (or laugh) at people's shenanigans and I sorta miss that. I now mostly use only Facebook; it's the perfect medium: it's not crowded and I'm able to get current news on it. Win win.

So in the spirit of finding joy, while making my breakfast smoothie this past week, I thought to blog about it. Totally random, as I don't do food here. But I gotta give you something for reading all the way through this rambling, right? Haha. Let's face it though, I've always found joy in eating. Food time is kinda sacred to me. I just love eating alone; food time is my favorite time always. I relax, and savor each bite, spoon, fork etc. Anyway, here's my strawberry banana smoothie :-)

You only need four things as depicted in the picture below. However, you should endeavor to use bananas riper than those shown. I already cut and froze the one I used, which isn't evident in this picture; it was definitely riper than these.



Which leads me to my first point, freeze your bananas for a more delicious smoothie.

You would need strawberries, blueberries, PLAIN Greek yoghurt, and bananas. Quantity would of course depend on the serving size. Those shown above (in the plate) are for just one serving.

Next, bring out your blender.

Put some water; then just some yoghurt (not the entire tub in the picture above!); next your frozen bananas. Pulse for a while. When you have a somewhat creamy texture, add the berries. Pulse again, and voila!

If you want some veggie boost, then add some spinach or kale. It would still be delicious (tried and tested).

Voila!


I used some toasted coconut chips as toppings. I paired mine with re-watching How I Met Your Mother, which would have been an amazing show but for the twisted, creepy, incestuous Barney-Robin-Ted sicko love triangle. Whew; been meaning to say that out a while now. I'm definitely relieved lol.

Mine may seem liquidy even though I'm taking it in a bowl. That's my style. For a thicker/creamier smoothie, just reduce water and have a very strong blender.

That's it; easy peasy.

Now, I know some people advise against smoothies in the morning because of a sugar rush. I say, better sugar in fruits than in Ice cream or doughnut or cake; you get the point. Besides, banana and blueberries are the main sugar culprits here lol. Just handle everything in moderation, basically.

That's all for now.

I hope you have a week as delicious as this smoothie ;-)

Love,

I

P.S: pray for me to have some self control in this life as some people have refused to learn boundaries. Geez, have some boundaries people. UGH. Jesus needs to take the wheel before I lose my mind over annoying, no-home-training, no-sense-of-shame, just-plain-rude folks mahnnn. Jesus also needs to just take the wheels; our next president about to run the country via/on Twitter. Shudders.

What Are You Thankful For?

Me? Way too many to list.


For life

For salvation

For family

For food

For love

For friendship

For good health

For everything!

Love,

I

On Not Writing, The Election, And Forging Ahead...

Hellurrrr...

Lol.

So I really have had no inspiration to upload anything here or to write for that matter. I have a couple of drafts that can be refined for a post, but I did not feel like editing either. I'm about 60% sure there will probably be no November book of the month. I don't feel like doing anything that isn't particularly compulsory/necessary; not just with my blog, just with life generally. And that's okay sometimes. There's no need to force it. It will come back. I guess we can chalk it all up to end of the year blues; you know being burnt out from the entire year. It is after all the eleventh month of the year. Heh. Perhaps.

Book of the Month: The Last Lecture

Welcome to November! Well, we're six days in already but better late than never. The book of the month (of October) is an especially poignant one. And obviously, I make a case for every single book of the month I feature, but I'm especially making a stronger case for this one. If you can get through without bawling your eyes out, it's one I'd advise everyone to read at least once. I'll tell you why, of course.

The Last Lecture is a New York bestselling book co-written by Randy Pausch, who was a Carnegie Mellon University professor of Computer Science, and Jeffrey Zaslow, a journalist. You'd understand the combination in a short while. How did this book come about? Pausch was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and had about six months to live. Now, generally CMU had a talk series, where they invited professors to give a "last talk"; a speech they would give if they had to give only one speech before they died. As it turned out, it WAS indeed Randy Pausch's last talk. So while Pausch was putting his affairs in order, and literally getting ready to die, he accepted this challenge. Not only as one last thing to give, but also as a sort of letter to his children for when they grow up. At the time his kids were so little, they had no idea their daddy was about to die.

Before speaking (there is a video of the lecture on YouTube), he received an applause/standing ovation from the audience, which was so unusually filled up, they had to set up an overflow room. As he motioned for them to sit down, he said "make me earn it." Someone shouted back, "You did!". After the lecture garnered lots of media attention, he decided to turn it to a book. But because he really wanted to spend the little time he had left with his family, he collaborated with Zaslow.

This was one heart-wrenching, heavy, highly emotional, yet somewhat exhilarating and liberating piece. Basically, the book is filled with life lessons from Pausch's life. And from such an accomplished person, who lived so much in all his 47 years, the book was filled with gems: some pretty obvious, others very ingenious.


As you can see, he doesn't ease us into it at all. He goes straight to the point of telling us his prognosis.  The same way he started the actual lecture; by showing a scan which displayed ten tumors on his liver. He then went ahead to do some push ups for two reasons: to prove to the audience that although he was dying, he was in better physical shape than most of them; second, he did not want pity. In most of the book, you will see that matter-of-fact attribute in him. Again, if you can get through it without bawling, this is probably one of the best books you will ever read.

Or at least one of the best autobiographies.

He spoke on many different things about his life: growing up, failures, successes, personal philosophies, and most impotantly, advice on how to achieve your childhood dreams aka how to live. He spoke on the importance of discipline and how his coach taught him discipline when he joined a football team as a child.

"I don't believe in the no-win scenario." He said.

His determined, dogged personality and persistence shined through in pages of the book, but more so in how he handled his disease.

"Brick walls are not there to keep us out, but rather to give us a chance to show how badly we want something." 

And boy did he want to live. He fought hard.

Reading this book in public was hard stuff. Most of the time, I just wanted to break down in tears. Not necessarily sad tears. For instance, he wrote about telling his niece and nephew to tell his children when they are older just how hard he fought to stay alive. To tell them how he signed up for the hardest treatments possible just because he wanted to be around as long as possible to be there for his kids.

Oh, his perfect description of his wife. He joked in an interview that he did not want his life made into a movie because no Hollywood actress was beautiful enough to play his wife. Theirs was a beautiful, perfect love story.

But the biggest lesson I learnt from that book is that no natter how bad things get; saddle up and keep moving. This was beyond his sickness, that was just who he was. It reminded me of Sheryl Sandberg's famous "keep the shit out of option B" mantra.

The best part about him wasn't his formidable courage, or his inspiring optimism in the face of the worst, it was just how many people he helped achieve their dreams.  I learned the importance of handwritten thank you notes. I learned the importance of hard-work instead of short cuts. I learned to be like Norman Meyrowitz (page 160) and be ALWAYS prepared. I learned to pay more attention to what a man (romantically interested in me) does, not what he says.  I learned to dream big. To allow myself to dream, to hope. He inspired me to desire to achieve the maximum  human potential. To dare to be great. To dare to be different.

Needless to say, Randy Pausch has since passed away. But the legacy he left would continually live on. I haven't watched the entire speech on YouTube myself. But I will as soon as I have enough time to watch carefully. Do one at least. Either read the book or watch the speech. It will affect you somehow. If nothing, it will show you how fleeting and ephemeral life can be. It will and should inspire you to be better. To do better. To live better.

Love,

I

Dear God...

New series, yay! When I'm anxious in public settings or if I make a gaffe in public, I tend to scribble a lot. Mostly nonsense for the most part. I was scribbling on a paper towel when this dropped in my heart: a "Dear God..." series. It'll go in a letter format like the title suggests. It will be totally random and depend entirely on how I am feeling the moment I write it (NOT when I post it). I feel like this is the kind of thing future me would want to read. By future, it could be a week. Just to know that whatever it is, I got through it. And if it's a great feeling, then to know that at the time I felt real great. Also, if someone reading shares similar emotions, they can personalize it to God however they like. Or they could just be glad they found kindred spirits. Here goes!

********************************************************************************
Dear God…

On Being Overwhelmed.
Remind me that when life throws curveballs at me; when every situation has the potential to throw me off balance; when everything becomes stressful; remind me that you’ve got me. Help me to focus more on who you are rather than on what the problem is. I mean, you did send your son to die for me while I was still a sinner. That’s a huge deal. You think I’m worth dying for? Nothing tops that.


When I fail or stumble, help me to stand. Place my feet on a solid rock. When I’m afraid, walk with me, Lord. Remind me that you are with me. Help me to not give up. When my confidence is shaky, teach me to place my hope and trust in you. When I especially feel like I'm sinking, and the pressure is way to much to handle. Remind me that I "GOT THIS" through Christ who strengthens me.

Remind me of your faithfulness. It’s a constant, but I must confess, I don’t always remember that. Your mercies are fresh every morning. I always forget this too. I sometimes jet off on my own like I can really handle everything by myself. Er nope, I can't.  I really need you to be the foundation of my life. I want my life to depend on you not anything fleeting.

Best of all, you have given me this beautiful life. I never seem to forget that (Let's keep it that way). I'm incredibly grateful for it...for everything. 

Love,

I


My [Nigerian Food Style] Whole 30 Experience

WHOLE 30!! I talked about it more than once on some of my Friday Reflections. I guess I should start by describing what Whole 30 is. I can't possibly do it enough justice so I'll just direct you to their website. In short, it's a nutritional program "designed to change your life". Basically, no rice (or grains of any kinds; not even oats!), no sugar (of any kind; real or artificial), diary, alcohol, cigarette (duh!), MSG (hello Indomie, knorr or any other boullion cube!), sulfites, legumes, do not try to recreate baked goods of any kinds using "healthy stuff"; for thirty days. Oh, no weighing yourself too. This is way more than just a diet; supposed to heal unhealthy relationship with food. But real food is allowed: meat, fish, vegetables etc. Just go to their website for the long lists of Don'ts and short list of DOs.  It's been said to "cure" MANY lifestyle related diseases like PCOS, Lyme's disease, infertility etc.

“Think of it as a short-term nutritional reset, designed to help you put an end to unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, and balance your immune system”

I first heard about it on La Bella Imperfezione about a year ago, where she just dropped a one liner about it. And then this year, she mentioned joining the program. The first thing about my partaking in it was just to satisfy my curiosity. A second was, it seemed like a good challenge, and while I love to whine a lot, I am realizing more and more that I do love a good challenge. So I did not join to lose weight or anything like that. I just wanted to see the effect of eating painstakingly healthy on my body and I had [targeted] specific health markers (read hormones, skin etc.) I thought food affected. I now realize, upon writing this post that I did not take enough photos of the foods I ate. Sorry about that. First let me tell you that it's VERY doable on a Nigerian diet. I ate things like vegetable stew aka efo riro (remember don't add maggi or knorr), plantains, sweet potato (made as porridge or roasted), irish potato, salads, grilled chicken, grilled fish, okra, eba, amala, salads, and more salads lol. You WILL get bored with what you eat, but nevertheless you'll enjoy them if you can cook. I kept a daily journal of my Whole 30 progress on my phone, which is what I share below. I will give my  final thoughts on the program in the last paragraph (so read till the end :-p).

My whole 30 experience started pretty well. So well, I was almost thinking easy peasy. I ate strictly compliant meals. I basically had no cravings. I did not experience the rage and terror from sugar withdrawal that I had read about. What on earth were people complaining about? This is easy! I thought.

Note: Then Day 5 came.

I am getting angry for no apparent reason. My default mode all through the day has been "pissed off".

I think the problem is that I am hungry, out of my apartment with nothing compliant to snack on and the fact that I'm unable to just grab something on the go (well hello no sugar rule!) is really annoying. After being in the sun for so long, what I need is sugar! I want to strangle someone.

Note: Then I had to go grocery shopping. Let me tell you something about my local Whole Foods express line; It's filled with temptation. You are flanked by sugary treats! Ugh
On the Express Line at Whole Foods; this stung!

It's week two and I'm not having it. I'm continually nauseous; and desperately craving actual food like rice, pasta, and something (ANYTHING) with sugar.

I also worry this thirty days of deprivation might lead to an over consumption of the things I miss once this is over. I share these concerns with M (who at the time, was with me in the Whole 30 madness business).

In the meantime, I judge myself for ever thinking this could be easy.

I'm experiencing a kind of inexplicable bursts of hunger. The kind of hunger that makes you shake.

Day 9 comes with a bathroom disaster. I can't keep food down and it's disrupting my day. I can't believe I have 21 more days of this misery. I have a cucumber, tomato and spinach salad packed but I can't eat. I'm starving but I can't eat. I contemplate quitting. I head to my journal meeting at 8:15pm and there's Georgetown cupcakes. I want to grab one and forget about Whole30. I learn tonight that I have a really strong willpower and my self-control is topnotch. I do NOT eat cake. Unbelievable.

It's day 10 and I have full blown diarrhea. I can't keep food down.

Its day 11. My supervisor and I are hosting a conference with participants from Asia and everywhere in the US. I take them to a welcome dinner at an Italian restaurant and of course bread is passed around. Guess who can't eat it. Ugh. Whole 30 is being done at a very wrong time. But we move. Will I give up tonight? Let's see.

Note: I did not.

Day 12 is conference all day. I arrive and realize I may have to compromise at lunch. In the afternoon, I grab a sandwich and can not eat it. I wan't to, but can't. I'm saddened by this because I may have developed an unhealthy attitude to food. I don't want to be the one who never eats outside cos everything is bad and unhealthy. But I really can't eat this sandwich. So I don't eat lunch. I look forward to dinner.

Day 14 is huge. My church turns ten today and there is a huge block party in celebration. I don't plan to stay because I have a great deal of work waiting for me at home. I think about forgetting work and hanging out with friends at the party. But then again I literally can't eat anything being served. So what's the point? I just found out there is a dessert truck *gasp*. At this point, this Whole 30 feels like punishment, but I have a crazy obsession with knack for  completing anything I start at all costs. So I head home.

Day 17: Whew. I am getting closer to the finish line. I have been quiet because there really is nothing to talk about. It's been very routine. However my stomach hurts a little bit today and I have to use the bathroom. Now as for the effects, I wouldn't say my skin is glowing anymore than it used to. By the grace of God, I [normally] have an okay skin; a little bit dry but pretty good. I don't have any extra glides in my steps, if we are being honest. Maybe it's too early to tell. I sleep ok; as okay as it always was.

Note: Some of the major benefits of Whole 30 as advertised were extra bursts of energy, amazing glow on your skin, and just an all round fabulous life. At this point, I wasn't experiencing any of it.

Okay so it's day 19 and I notice that I'm always tired and lethargic and just generally in a foul mood: I don't wanna do anything. Meh.

Day 25: now I'm just [really] bored; from eating the same things everyday. Five more days to freedom. Yes, freedom. I'm constantly weak. I need out :-(

Day 31: I am exceptionally glad this is over. It feels like freedom to be able to eat anything. I feel relief. Joy. Peace.

Now that this is over, I'm much more comfortable writing about it. Would I advise anyone to hop on the Whole30 train? Yes, if you want to lose weight. Yes, if you have an unhealthy relationship with food. A la you eat when your boyfriend is fighting with you; when you are sad; in the middle of the night; a gazillion times a day. Then you need this. I think this mostly taught me I do okay with food. It also taught me to be constantly aware of what I put in my mouth; to eat better because my body is the temple of God not a trashcan; that we are always offered food in public. Goodness, food is every freaking where. Now, upon completion, I don't feel anything different per se. I don't feel cleansed or rejuvenated or wholesome. And if you read online, many people share this feeling. There are some others that record this being the best thing since God said "let there be light". So don't take my word for it. Perhaps the best news from the experience is  all the foods in my regular diet work [well] for me. I have pretty much reintroduced all my regular meals in my diet [except legumes; gotta have me some moi moi soon!] and I feel great. I am absolutely, stupendously thankful to God for this. Also, I'm really thankful he saw me through this till the end.

So my best advice is to reiterate my dad's advice: eat everything in moderation. Never ever go overboard. If you had ice cream this morning, maybe say no to chocolate cake in the night. Lol. So yeah, that's it. I will be incorporating some of the Whole30 thing in my regular diet and maybe once in a while do it (or variations of it) for some days. But I don't see myself doing it for 30 days again, except I'm desperate for some detoxing.

Sorry for the long story!

Love,
I



Why President Buhari Was Wrong For Saying His Wife Belongs To His Kitchen

That statement was very offensive.

That statement was very offensive.

That statement was very offensive.

Did you say it three times? Good. Now I shall defend that reasoning.

Women have literally sent a man to space just by solving maths; women are mathematicians; women are world leaders; women are Rocket Scientists; Engineers; Lawyers; Ph.D. holders; Teachers; Doctors; Entrepreneurs; heck, we are less than one month away from electing the first female president of the United States. In case you missed the memo, we are equal and capable members of the society. So when the leader of the most populous black nation says on the world stage that his wife "belongs to his kitchen, his living room, and 'the other room'", I take offense. I take offense because reducing a woman's worth to what she can cook in the kitchen and/or whatever she does in 'the other room' is undoing centuries of hard-work by pioneer and contemporary feminists.

This is the same country where girls are being married off at age 14. This is the same country where a gender equality bill could not successfully pass in the legislature. This is the same country where an elected official threatened to rape his female colleague right on the SENATE FLOOR. This is the same country where women are denied the right to their fathers' inheritance just because of their unfortunate luck of having the XX chromosome. It is the leader of this same country that trivially referred to his wife like she's his property; like she's the furniture in his living room. No sir.

I know many people think it was an innocuous joke, and we angry feminists always have something to cry about. Yes, thank you. Just a couple of days after the International Girls Day, we can not afford to have the girl thinking all she can amount to is being a man's property. We can't have the girl aspiring to nothing else in life but the kitchen, and thinking the most dignified thing that can ever happen to her is to be some loser's Missus. No sir.

I deliberately did not mention the backstory to this misstep because I do NOT CARE. If the president and his wife can't fix whatever the heck is going on in their marriage within the four walls of "the other room", that's their business, not mine. What I know is that given their position, it wouldn't be too bad to foster a world of equality and mutual respect. I–as I imagine other feminists and frankly, every woman—take this quite seriously.

I also know there is the excuse of: what do you expect from a seventy something year old Nigerian northerner? No. We will not blame an entire religion, tribe, or demographic for one man's mistake. If he chooses to not follow the rest of the world into the twenty first century, that's on him.

In this seminal Facebook post aka manifesto by Chimamanda Adichie on how to raise a feminist, homegirl hit all the right spots but one point particularly stuck out to me: "Teach her to question language. Language is the repository of our prejudices, our beliefs, our assumptions." Sidebar: that post was legend—wait for it—DARY! All hail Queen Adichie.

So yes, I question Mr. President's language. More so against a backdrop of a society like ours, where for a long time women have been treated [side eye Nigeria Twitter] like apart from our cooking, we are a waste of space. We are not, sir.

Fix up Mr. President, fix up.

With Respect,

I

Friday Reflection

1.)My Dad's wealth of information is mind-blowing. He's what I like to call my human wikipedia.

2.) Why don't they teach us Nigerian history in school? That sucks so much, because ours is such a rich and vital history.

3.) I'm way too stupefied to have anything to say about President Buhari's offensive statements. Maybe I'll write an entire blogpost on it. Maybe not. I'm just tired.

4.) I mean, how can the president of the most populous black nation, say in 2016, that his wife belongs to "his kitchen, his living room and 'the other room'". Oh Lord!

5.) Toothache sucksssss.

6.) Help me understand how Nigerians proudly praise those who fell in love on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, but then turn around to vilify online dating?

7.) Whole 30; day 26! THE END IS NEAR. Yes, I was screaming. I will write about my whole 30 challenge next week.

8.) I'm also supposed to write about the show West Wing.

9.)  I need divine intervention on how to successfully manage 24 hours in one day with everything I have to do.

10.) I don't even feel that guilty for not having a social life anymore. I have the perfect excuse: I'm busy!

Lol.

Have a great weekend y'all!

Don't be like me; have some fun ;-)

Love,

I

Different People, One God

This post was inspired by two things. The first is the political climate in recent times. Personally, I don't really like to be partisan. I tend to lean towards an individual than the party they belong too. But not many people are like that. Most people, once interested in an issue, love the dogfight with others on the opposite end of that issue. And that's okay; partisan polarization is not the enemy. There is a reason functioning democracies thrive on it. What is dangerous is spewing hatred because someone disagrees with you. People will disagree with you. Deal with it.



The second reason is because of a discussion between my friend and I on wedding vows. Now I vehemently disagree with her reasoning and will not be stating details of her position here because...well, I'm certain she will change her point of view. I don't want that point of view to be on record. But you see, she backed her views with God's words. I did back mine with God's words too. Differing opinions, one God.

Nevertheless, as human beings, we are notorious for believing our ways are the right ways. There is a vilification of the "other".   Since we definitely interpret things differently from one another, it's no surprise disagreements abound. That's fine. I just need you to know that  someone disagreeing with you does not make them the enemy. It doesn't make them less of a Christian than you. When it comes to Christianity, no one person has a monopoly on Jesus. No one person—well except Jesus himself—has the final say.

So we don't have to take everything we hear hook, line and sinker. What does Jesus say? What does Jesus want? At the same time, we don't have to antagonize every singe person or idea to prove superiority. Disagree with grace; prove your point with grace; but never think being a Christian is equal to stupidity. Have principles; take a stand. God doesn't hate that.  God gave us minds for a reason. He gave us complex, beautiful, brilliant minds and does not mind us reasoning, thinking and maybe even questioning things every once in a while. It's okay to be confused. Just accept that there is a mystery to life, accept that no matter how hard you try, you would never know or get all the answers. Yes, even science—which  some people swear by—does not have all the answers. That's where God's superiority comes in.

You know, my pastor gave an analogy today, which I think proves my point even further. Look at Jesus's disciples; look at the breadth and diversity of what they embodied. Some were fishermen, some were zealots, who opposed Roman oppression (my pastor joked you could probably call them modern day terrorists), yet some others (Matthew, a Roman employee) were tax collectors—I mean a literal representation of Roman oppression haha. So before you go off writing someone off because one idea they have is different or before your condescending self starts to feel all superior, chill out. God is probably snickering. There is no homogeneity amongst his people. Heck, he's a creative God, you can't expect him to create a bunch of similar people with similar ideas. Nope.

However, though we differ, our love of God and acceptance of his grace makes us all common citizens of his kingdom. And that's the most important thing: an unwavering love for Christ and obedience of his word.

P.S: Needless to say, you should know that despite the kumbaya I just sang, there is right and there is wrong. The bible states this clearly. There is varying opinions, varying beliefs, and there is stupidity. We know that bigotry, racism and misogyny are wrong. So don't come to me with faux neutrality or blatant bigotry in the name of differing opinion. I will check you on that :-)

Peace out,

I

Friday Reflection

1.) I went to fill up the gaping hole in my tooth yesterday; not the most pleasant experience

2.) What sucks is that apart from a recent love for Belgian chocolate cake, I'm not your usual junk eater.

3.) Thankful for the privilege to be able to fix my teeth though.

4.) So a character had a heart attack on a show, but survived. A couple of months (years?) later, the actor playing that character had a heart attack in real life and died. I'm really weirded out by that.

5.) They of course had to finally kill off the character on the show and during his "funeral", people were sobbing so bad, I could tell they were not "acting", they were mourning the loss of their friend and colleague.

6.) I'm probably the only one who is not surprised by the leaked video of the Donald being misogynistic as usual.

7.) I can't wait to write all about whole30. Eleven more days to the finish line

8.) I think I am making new friends, all of whom I actually really like.

9.) Zeal. Passion. Enthusiasm. I need those. I need that fuel.

10.) I also need a holiday ASAP.

11.) Hurricane Matthews :-( Go away, please.

Book of the Month: Violence

Believe it or not, this is the book of September not October. I don't know why October came two days early*. She be like that sometimes. Okay so, Violence may sound like it's a book about actual physical violence, terror etc. in the literal sense. No. It's not about a war or revolution or murder. No, it wasn't literally about violence. Rather the violence here was a symbolism for violence of the mind, of dignity. Acts of violence are committed when a person is denied the opportunity of being educated, getting a job, feeding himself, getting medical attention etc.

There are kinds of political and economic systems that brutalize a man. It was these types of brutalization we saw in Idemudia, the protagonist of the novel, who suffered in the despicable hands of poverty. The book delved into the lives of Idemudia and his wife, their lack and nothingness against the lives of Obofun and his wife, Queen who, thanks to greed and corruption lived in opulence, plenty and wealth.

More than just a story however, the book touched on systemic poverty and the nuances of a failed system in Nigeria of the 70s. A particularly poignant part was at the beginning of the book when Idemudia fell terribly ill, and getting him good healthcare was a disaster. Just as poignant and deeply mortifying were the things both Idemudia and his wife had to do to put food on the table.

It also focuses generally on our institutions and how poorly they serve the citizens. Police is not really your friend is what we discover when mama Jimoh's husband is arrested. Our justice system is deeply flawed. Health care is a travesty. Sigh. The issues are too numerous to count.

It's as much a political book as it is a fiction. What saddens me is that some of the issues highlighted still persist in today's Nigeria. Basic healthcare is still inaccessible, abject poverty still has its grip on many people, and exploitation of the government by it employees is still very commonplace. A select few at the stop still have the monopoly of the system, and there is a vested interest in seeing the country fail in terms of infrastructure and basic services.

So yes the book tells a good story but it also mirrors Nigeria.

Now while I like that the book highlighted very important themes, I don't particularly care for the style of story telling. It put a lot of burden on the actors to tell us what was going on. A lot of time, there were long, endless quotes from characters, which can be fine. Except how do uneducated people speak such eloquent English? I mean, barely educated Adisa had a full grasp of English. Also, perhaps I missed it, but where the hell was this book set?! How do you write an entire fiction without mentioning the setting? At first I thought it was a fictional South Western city in Nigeria; a place that mirrors Ibadan for instance. But then again it would sound very South South-ish.

Anyway, good stuff or good enough to be book of the month!

See you next time ;-)

Love,
I


*Life just happened (and it's still happening) very fast. I barely found the time to read for leisure, let alone write about it. I will try to do better by better managing my time. I hope.

Friday Reflections

1.) Crickets!

2.) Ha, it's been so long since I did this. **Dusting cobwebs**

3.) No, I did not run out of one line quips and ramblings.

4.) The last time I did this was May! Don't blame me; summer was busy!

5.) Fall is here!!! All that excitement is because my shows are back.

6.) Why do people cheat folks of their hard-earned money? This is a developing story but yeah I'm currently really angry at how unethical some Nigerian small businesses can be.

7.) Remember how I used to love Don Lemon's show? Yeah. No. I have not watched in months. I am tired of CNN bringing on racist, bigoted, misogynists on air in the name of some faux-neutrality. Miss me with that nonsense, please.

8.) I started Whole30 on Monday. It deserves an entire post on its own. Plus it's just day five, who knows how much longer I'll last?

9.) On fear, anxiety, and nervousness: a discussion with M.

10.) I read this article on getting to your "30s" and all of a sudden: the veil is removed; you can see clearly since the rain is gone; and you know, you are now mature. I thought:  "either this is some real BS or I'm extremely precocious, cos I'm just in my mid twenties and this pretty much describes me".

11.) The West Wing is pretty gooooooooood!





The People's House: A White House Tour


"The White House is the only building in the world that is free museum, an office, and home to a head of state. But this isn't simply a place for Presidents. It's 'The People's House'—so it's your house, too" - President Barrack and Mrs. Michelle Obama

I'm gonna confess now and say these heavy-photo posts are part due to me being so busy (thanks to a new schedule) I can't properly edit a post for the blog. I'm pretty sure I will have a book of the month though, so there's that.

My sister and I, despite our insanely hectic schedules, took the time this weekend for a White House Tour. We almost decided to forget about it when we got the email from our Congressman's office (MONTHS after applying) that our request to tour the White House had been granted. Unlike other museums and public places, you can't just walk into the White House for a tour. You have to go through your Senator/Congressman months in advance and then you are either rejected because no space, or accepted. We were rejected earlier this year, but my sister never quits. Good thing she doesn't because the second time was a charm.  I did not plan on blogging about it, but I figured not everyone gets to tour the White House, so why not?

Well here goes:


Chronicles of the Billy Goat Trail

I went hiking yesterday. First of all, it was a terrible weather to go hiking. I could have sworn I was going to faint from the heat. But that was not the real problem; the real problem was just how difficult the hike was. If I had done just a little research of the trail the day before, there was no way I would have gone. I'm certain I would have opted out. So yay for being too busy to research the trail spontaneity. It was also a group thing so that mollified things a little bit. I took some pictures, of course. Unfortunately, I don't have pictures of the really difficult paths of the trail. Your homegirl was too busy surviving, plus I had to protect my phone from falling. It got to a stage I had to go on all fours to climb; it's a miracle I  did not sprain an ankle or bruise myself. Thank the Lord with me. Also, the great conversations with my friend, Ene helped a great deal. I don't know how I would have gone through it without her. If you think I'm being histrionic; I'll put things in perspective for you. The hike itself alone was about two hours thirty minutes!

Anyway, it was the Billy Goat Trail at the Great Falls Park. Enjoy!

How To Ruin Your Labor Day Weekend And/Or Make a Colossal Mistake

In the summer of 2014, while preparing for graduate school, get a PC. Decide that the PC is not good enough for you, so get a MacBook. Be oblivious to the fact that you just used your money to buy yourself a whole lot trouble in advance. Rather, tell yourself you just bought computer security for numerous years.  Finish graduate school with your computer still intact. Be thankful that your computer is solid. Quirky, but solid. So keep living life.

Two years later. Wake up on a beautiful Saturday morning; grab your laptop and start working.  Make substantial progress, because it’s morning and you are most productive in the morning. Be cogent, clear, concise, and very analytical. Keep typing and tying your arguments together like a boss. Think about getting coffee or tea just to be bougie, and then remember you react terribly to caffeine. Respect yourself and keep working. Then…cue people from your village*.

Remember this rockstar woman doing rockstar research you recently met. Google her [for the umpteenth time]. Think about a personal statement you once wrote to remember how ambitious you once were. Open this personal statement. Get inspired all over again. Decide to close it and continue working. Click “x”. See Do you want to save the changes made to document11?” but READDo you want to save the changes made to SOP?” Assume you mistakenly typed something while reading the personal statement and click “don’t save” because you don’t want any changes to that genius statement.

Click on the Word icon in your computer to continue working and get a blank document. Squeeze your face and turn up your nose in confusion. “Where the hell is my work?” Ask in confusion. Minimize every page in search of your work.  Squeal in horror at the realization of your stupidity and colossal mistake: you just deleted your WORK.

Scramble over to Google to try to pick up pieces of your broken heart and mind, because honestly you gave your freaking all to that work and do NOT know where to begin. Try everything Google tells you. Scurry over suggestions upon suggestions: remove one eye; remove one ear; insert one tooth inside your system preferences; nothing. Ask your Dad if he knows what to do. Hear him ask you why you did not save it in the first place. Ask yourself why you did not save in the first place. Rush over to your sister who is usually very resourceful. Stand with her in the bathroom—yes the bathroom—till she comes up with something. Try more solutions and read people talk about solutions that worked, and watch your idiotic computer not respond to the suggestions. Realize your computer was a waste of money. Because really why are Macs so freaking annoying and hostile to anything not made by Apple?

Go to your BBM and post your misery. Watch people respond, with kindness to your stupidity. Take their (you guys rock, by the way. Really) suggestions and again witness your computer’s idiocy.  Be grateful for the love you receive.

Call Microsoft. Call Apple. Sigh.

Eat.

Accept your fate.

Start your work all over.

That, ladies and gentlemen is how to ruin your perfect weekend. Or, How to Be Dumb 101.

Love

I

*I do not have a village, but that sounds like the only logical explanation for my daftness on Saturday morning.

Book of the Month: The Nightingale

"In love we find out who we want to be. In war, we find out who we are."

I can't really say what drew me to this book, because I'm not a war-type-girl. I don't do chaos. Lol. This book tells the story of two sisters as they navigate war-torn, German invaded France. I know that we already know this, but war is a devastating, heartbreaking, and senseless phenomenon. While whenever I found my crying (while reading) I consoled myself by reminding myself that it was all fiction, the truth is there are millions of people whose lives in 2016 have been shaped by the dire consequences of war. There are people who have found themselves in wars they don't even understand. Wars that have been fought for so long that the causes are now long forgotten.


Without giving too much away, one sister had to part with her husband who headed to the front and would later become a prisoner of war. Another sister, impetuous, and somewhat naive was desperate to resist the Nazis. Although in different capacities, both of them displayed massive amount of bravery and courage.

The very unique aspect of this book was telling the story of a war from the perspective of women. The women's war. They had to survive, and provide for their children during the war. Both women went through unimaginable, despicable, and outrightly dangerous circumstances all through the war, and came out strong. Vianne, the older sister was married to  and had a young daughter with a man she had been in love with since she was a teenager. All was good and well till Antoine, her husband was mobilized for the war despite her optimism that there would be no war. As if that was not enough, faced with the despair of never seeing her husband again, months after the war began a German soldier was stationed in her home.

On the other hand was Isabelle, the younger sister. The rebel. After being expelled from school after school, Isabelle finds her way to Paris where she would in a bid to surmount her restlessness and helplessness lead hundreds of men to safety.  I found Isabelle annoying sometimes, but her courage obscured that eventually.


Kristin Hannah was a wizard with her stroytelling; you could literally picture every character and live that war through them. Despite the fact that the it was purely fictional, the emotions were raw, which made the book a pageturner.   I would never forget the scene in which Vianne was trying to help her friend Rachel escape the Germans. I would never forget the wave of sadness that overwhelmed me, just from reading what transpired in those pages.

This book will make to you think, it will make you empathize, and it will make you angry. During my book club discussions, there were arguments that it was a bit slow at the beginning. Although I agree at it being just a tad slow, coming from my last book of the month to this, this took off way faster than that.

This was a great book, I would recommend everyone reading it. If nothing, you would get a peek into history. You would further understand the place of war in our society and how women fit into into. You also would enjoy the love stories intertwined in it.

#MESItakesToronto

Okay maybe it's a bit cheesy to have a vacation hashtag. Sue us. Haha.

I'll be honest; when I decided to visit M in Toronto, I wasn't expecting very much from the city itself. The plan was to have a good time with each other in the form of food, idle chatter, and lazying around. That would have been fine enough for me. I gotta say though, the Greater Toronto Area is a fun city to visit. Barring the complex and expensive public transportation system, and the excruciatingly painful long lines, it has a LOT to offer. It also is quite diverse. So let's get down to the nitty gritty of the week. If you can't already tell MESI comes from the first name initial of four of us. Four girls on vacation can really be a blast; lots of laughter!

I'll try to narrate the experience, and then conclude with about a gazillion pictures (so get ready). However, it would probably be hard to describe and explain just how amazing some of  these experiences were. Nevertheless, I hope you are able to vicariously feel the vibrant city of Toronto. Enjoy.

I got into the city on Saturday, August 13  at about 3:25PM after a thunderstorm caused us to land over an hour later than the expected time. Saturday was pretty chilled; the crew wasn't complete yet. So we went around the city, went to get some ice cream, went grocery shopping, and went to the salon. Oh, and we got a chance to catch up with our old schoolmate. It was so good to see you again, Tiwa!

Sunday was the actual beginning of the fun. Just before church, we picked up the final member of the crew from the airport. Later in the evening, my friend Ugo took us to Toronto island which we got to by taking a ferry at the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal. The journey to the Island was beautiful; just as we began approaching the Island on the ferry, we could see downtown Toronto and it was a sight to behold. After walking around and enjoying the sights of the Island, taking a bucket load of pictures, and pumping ourselves full of sugar, it was finally time to head home. Just before going home though, we visited Dundas Square and Nathan Phillips Square. To say we were exhausted would be putting it mildly. We could barely walk. But we had fun.

The next day was for Niagara falls; what I would personally consider the highlight of the trip. We almost missed the bus that would take us there; on account of the fact that the probability of four girls getting ready on time is low to nil. So yeah. For much of the about two hours trip, we fell in and out of sleep on account of fatigue from the previous day. But nothing like the magnificent sight of the Niagara Falls to jolt us awake. I can't even describe that sight. We took the horn blower tour right in the MIDDLE of Niagara Falls. God is great! Unfortunately, we couldn't take too much pictures here because of the fear of water destroying our phones. We also got a tour of Niagara on the Lake. And then we went wine tasting. It was then time to go home. We would usually end the night talking with Jenifa's Diary (which is insanely funny) playing in the background.

Tuesday began very late because of a heavy rain. We started with the Ripley's Aquarium and ended with the Museum. Later that night we visited this very bunz suya spot for some suya and asun which hit the right spots. It tasted exactly like those you get from Mallams on the road side in Lagos. Okay I did not do enough justice to Ripley's Aquarium. It felt like we were inside the ocean with Sharks and Fishes; it was that real.

Wednesday was for Canada's Wonderland, which I'll admit I was not too thrilled about. I'm just not a dangerous-about to die-scream off your lungs-rides type of girl. And I was not alone. Two of us love that thrill and really wanted the rides; the more dangerous, the better. The other two of us; let's just say were not about that life. We settled on splashes and water rides/slides, which let me tell y'all was NOT funny; those curves and bends and black holes. AH. It was fun though. We did two other scary non water rides, ate some food, fed our eyes and headed for the grocery store because the next day was a games night we were hosting, and we had to plan. In retrospect, my small regret was not taking any of the non-water scary rides.

Thursday morning started with us cooking the food for the games night happening later that evening. Sometime in the afternoon, we left for the CN Tower, which at 1815ft stands as the tallest building in North America; a fact M did not fail to drum into my mind every moment she got. We went to the very top and stood on a scary glass top through which we could see about 1800 ft beneath us. Crazy. We then went to Casa Loma but could only take pictures. One, they were about to close. Second, we had guests coming over soon.  Games night was super loud and fun. Oh, I mustn't forget froyo! HAHA.

On Friday, it was time to leave. I really had lots of fun. Thanks to M, an amazing host. And the entire crew, MESI for being Directors of Photography for this post. Hahaha.

"Take this shot for your blog."

"Oh that will be great for your blog."

Thanks ladies!

Alright folks, let's get to the pictures.

Love,
I

How Simone Biles Inspires Me

The Final Five.


These five amazing young ladies are representing the United States in gymnastics at the Olympics and have really got the whole world excited about gymnastics, which interestingly has always been my favorite Olympics sport. We all already know just how great these girls are. They really are all pretty exceptional. But you will have to excuse my bias while I focus on just one, Simone Biles. She’s 4’8 of magic. And she inspires me a great deal. I’ll tell you why.



First,  I am super proud of the chic, like she’s my own younger sister. She has been called the greatest even by historically great gymnasts. In a short video about her on New York Times, she was said to now be competing against herself. Since no one could beat her, and she was technically in the lead by a whole lot, it was fair to indeed say she was competing against herself. She doesn’t lead by one tenths or three tenths like it usually is in gymnastics. No, Biles leads by a whole point or even two sometimes. There is a technique called “The Biles” that can only be done by…you guessed right, Simone Biles. Most gymnasts are usually exceptional in just one aspect. Not Biles; she’s phenomenal on the floor, on the beam, and on the vault. She is all shades of awesome. She is extraordinary. And she is just nineteen. As if all that was not enough, when people tried to compare her with other great athletes like Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps, she responded: “I am not the next Usain Bolt or the next Michael Phelps. I am the first Simone Biles.” Boss. Magic. Excellence. Yeah uhhh, Black women did that.



Her life is full of great lessons and like I said she inspires me a lot.

You see, we are only seeing the final outcome. We are only seeing the well-crafted finesse and that elegance with which these girls contour their bodies into different shapes while hanging mid air, before a perfect landing. What we seldom see is the years and years of efforts that have gone into practice. While talking sometime last week, my brother mentioned some of the weaker athletes in the Olympics who are doing poorly in contrast to their U.S counterparts. I remember reiterating that we must NEVER forget that some of these U.S candidates have enabling environments and countless resources that set them up for victory. Some of them have spent every waking moment of the last four years focused on honing their craft.

What Biles and her teammates teach me is that there is no way you put that much dedication and commitment into one thing and you don’t succeed in that thing. Now combine all that with a natural flair for the thing. You’ll get excellence. You’ll become extraordinary. When she was asked how she is usually so confident, Biles responds that her confidence comes from years and years of insane practice; of spending no less than six hours per day in the gym; of working insanely hard. Most times, there are rarely shortcuts to success. Rarely. Biles said people tend to forget that although they may only perform for about a minute and thirty seconds or sometimes less, hundreds of hours have been invested in practice. We are sometimes not confident because we have not worked hard enough.
There is a video where one of Biles’ teammates, Laura Hernandez was about to do her thing and she said “I GOT THIS” before starting her routine. That was not just a mumble jumble she recites before each routine. No. She actually GOT it. She has worked hard and was therefore ready.

Another salient factor is making mistakes. Although they are the dream team, they are not infallible. However, Biles said something in an interview that has stayed with me since I heard. (If you can't already tell, I have invested hours into this girl's life. ) Anyway, she said that when she starts a routine and she makes a mistake, she NEVER lets it distract her from continuing. According to her, if she focuses too much on that mistake, the entire routine might end up being crap. If however, she continues her routine as usual, there is a huge possibility of redeeming herself from that mistake with a perfect conclusion. Rather than dwell too much on how something could have been, how about focus instead on what can still happen.

One last thing Biles taught me is to just have fun while doing ya darn thing. Legend has it that if Biles starts a routine by being too serious; if she starts a routine without goofing around or grinning, she would most likely stumble. Don't take life too seriously. Enjoy. Enjoy. Enjoy.

Oh and don't forget to have a celebratory pizza, The Final Five style ;-)

So while I LOVE Biles and admire the FINAL FIVE, they are reminders that if I have the grace of God (which I do) and I commit to something, there is no stopping me (or you). The sky would be the only limit.

Love,

I

P.S: Shout out to every Nigerian representing us (Nigeria) at the Olympics. That anyone can give that much to a country that has literally given them nothing is true heroism. We see you and we are proud of you, despite the shameless Nigerian sports ministry. We see you. Thank you.

A Christening: The Modern Cedar

"This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will take a branch from the top of a tall cedar, and I will plant it on the top of Israel’s highest mountain.  It will become a majestic cedar, sending forth its branches and producing seed. Birds of every sort will nest in it, finding shelter in the shade of its branches." - Ezekiel 17: 22-23


I don't know if it's the restless nature I have or if I really saw a need for some sort of change for this blog, but I did. Earlier this year I blogged about putting more attention on the blog; posting more, tweaking design etc. The first part I did and I am still doing. I don't think I have been as consistent in any other thing in my life as I have been with this blog in 2016. Come hell or high water, a new post always comes up on Sundays. It's another reason I love blogging and just using it as a creative outlet; the knack to be disciplined; it really does inspire me and that wholesomeness can overflow into other areas of your life. Okay the benefits of blogging will come at another time. Besides, who knows what next year will bring? Perhaps I would lose all interest in blogging altogether. Perhaps not. No pressure at all.

Weeks ago, I talked about identity and its importance. Along those lines, I wanna refocus on the identity of this blog. And since our names are a huge part of our identity, I started with the name. I am still going to change other aspects of the blog too to better reflect who and where I am in life. But first, the name.

When I first decided to blog, I knew that if I had to spend time thinking about what name to give this blog, I never would have started the blog. Since I am the most terrible with coming up with names, I would have kept putting it off till I never blogged. So that morning, flipping through my bible, I saw the phrase "five covered colonnades" in John. With no significance whatsoever to the blog, it jumped at me and I picked it. Now that was a unique name, weird maybe. But unique. Colonnades are pillars, supports for buildings or roofs.  So you can say it was not completely meaningless. Three years later however, I was no longer sure I wanted the blog to be identified by that.

So came the conundrum to come up with something profound or not. Maybe just something that explains the identity of the blog and the blogger, me. Anyway I asked my sister and M to come up with something. M was really useless here because she did not come up with a single thing (side eye). My sister kept coming up with things that have to do with butterflies. Don't ask please.

I kinda forgot about it and kept on with other things. Then this past week, eureka! Again, I was reading my bible and a word kept coming to mind. Cedar. The inspiration came in a deeply personal moment, but I somehow knew it had to do with Cedar. So I told my siblings immediately. Then I thought, cedar what? It just can't be cedar. Pink cedar? Purple? Growing cedar? My sister thought those were really corny. Lol. And then she said "Modern". The Modern Cedar. It was perfect. My blog would be re-christened Cedar. It may be tacky (or foolish) to change the name of a blog, I don't know. I'm doing it anyway. It describes me, but it also describes the blog: seeing the world through the opinions of a modern cedar.


You are probably wondering: what the heck is Cedar? I'll explain.


"Cedar is reddish, bitter and has an aromatic odor, offensive to insects, but VERY durable. The Cedar is a type of Christian; being evergreen, beautiful, aromatic, wide spreading, slow growing, long-lived and having many uses." - Smith's bible dictionary

The words and phrases in bold stand out to me because while they may not describe me now, those are the goals. I want to be evergreen. I want my blog to be evergreen. I want to be versatile, to embrace the different parts of me. I have the most diverse interests lol, and I am still just evolving. The same way it will be too boring to blog about just one thing I am too restless for that. I can't be pigeonholed, nope. I'm not exactly changing content of the blog; it will basically still be a little bit of everything, as long as it interests me. The ultimate goal though is that whoever visits this blog leaves feeling a little better.

What I found really interesting was that Cedars are so durable, they are often used as pillars; colonnades.

From acorns to oak trees...

So that's it. A christening or perhaps, re-christening. Here's to new beginnings!🍷

Love,

I

Summer-ing 2016

Summering last year featured the capital city. This year, it featured the big apple and the capital city. I won't bore you with words. Let's get to the pictures:








this girl, fierceee! ha.

























Book Of The Month: Ghana Must Go By Taiye Selasi

Unlike last month's book, this was certainly not light-hearted. On the contrary, it was heavy with unexpected deaths, poverty, sexual abuse, complex family secrets, love, and of course, similes and metaphors that never seemed to end. In all, it was exceptionally written. It was beautiful.

P.S: You should follow me on Twitter; got my Tweeting mojo back!

The above tweet captioned exactly how I felt when I completed this book. Before I go on, a quick anecdote. When I started this book—despite a few hiccups I will describe in a bit—I  knew it was my book of July and wanted to blog it. I was not halfway done and today (Sunday) was looming. Still, I told myself about a week before today that I would finish this book before Sunday. Honestly, I did not see how. I'm not what you will call a fast reader not because I don't know how to read incredibly fast, I do. But really, it's not a competition. I don't go an entire day reading a book; I have a life, and while I have a predilection for books, I swear by my TV shows too. There are only 24 hours a day, at least seven of which I must sleep if you don't want monster Ife. So you see all the things competing for my attention.  But my mind was set on finishing the book. So during work breaks, and couples of minutes before bed, I read bits and pieces and continually got enthralled with the Sai's family secrets at the turn of every page. Fast forward to the beginning of a weekend trip with my sister yesterday: I was just halfway through when I told my sister about my goal to not just complete this masterminded-crafted literary piece, but blog about it. She scoffed. She was right to. We both fell very deeply asleep minutes later,  instead of me reading. About an hour or two before the trip ended I started. Well vacation-ing began around 12 and ended about 5 for the day. I finished the book by 8:45 PM. Set goals people, even when they look unachievable. Set them anyway.

Back to this piece that got me all giddy. I'll confess, it took a while to get a hang of this. While her writing was brilliant, to say the least, I found it tedious at first. The metaphors, the similes, the play on words, the avid descriptions...Sigh. They were at first, quite annoying.  However, amidst the verbose prose, I saw a plot thicken and thought if only she could get to the point. I found myself saying "get to the point already!!!!" a couple of times. For instance, when she described Kweku's Ama using three freaking pages. UGH. So extra.

Despite that only shortcoming of the book, it was just really great. It began with Kweku's death and would later evolve around all his four children and their mother reuniting for his funeral. Selasi (the author) herself is what you'll call intercontinental: Born in London (of a Nigerian mother and Ghanaian father), raised in Massachusetts, Yale and Oxford trained, and now living in Rome. Watch her TED talk: "Don't ask where I'm from, ask where I'm a local".

It was therefore no surprise to see her put her rich experiences and background to use when the book spanned across continents, and state lines: Brookline, Massachusetts; Kokrobitey, Ghana; Accra, Ghana; Lagos, Nigeria; New York, New York; London, England; New haven, Connecticut.

The book tells the story of Kweku Sai and Folasade Savage, or Fola as she's called throughout the book. They met in Pennsylvania after Fola had to leave Lagos for Ghana after her father's unfortunate demise in the North, just before the Nigerian civil war. She then left Ghana for Pennsylvania, where she met Kweku, a gifted surgeon. She gave up her dream of becoming a Georgetown trained lawyer for Kweku, saying "one dream is enough for us". Unfortunately, after the demise of a rich person (Kweku operated on) at his hospital, Kweku was deemed the fall guy and ultimately fired from work. He hid this salient fact from his family, while trying to figure things out. When he couldn't, he walked out very unceremoniously from his family, without as much as a warning.  The book dealt with the consequences and aftermath of that incredibly selfish decision; how it affected the lives of each child; and the fragments from the broken (both literally and figuratively) family. But instead of just divulging it directly, Selasi did this with a series of flash backs. First, we began with Kweku reminiscing while dying, and then the rest of the family slowly, but ultimately dealing with all the ghosts and skeletons in their individual closets.

At the time of his death, his children were practically estranged from one another. My favorite part was their coming together and reconciliation. Although while alive, he wrecked the family, he did one last good thing with his death: he brought them together.

I like how she explored the children's reaction to the death of their fathers. How does one mourn something they never had? She delved into immigration and the barriers immigrants are willing and almost always break to achieve undeniable success, no matter the cost. Kweku was too egoistical to accept defeat and to start over. Instead, he completely gave up, leaving his family to misery. Fola, a flower merchant who was too broke to sustain four children on her own, decided on a whim to send her twin children to a half-brother she did not know. I thought that it was unusual for someone as brilliant as Fola to do something as stupid. But there was nothing usual about being suddenly left with four children without a provider. The experiences of those twins in Lagos, with their drug dealer uncle would later shape the rest of their lives and have dire consequences. Olu, the firstborn child, the administrator, and very like his father became an orthopedic surgeon but finds it almost impossible to love or be loved. He had to keep a level head while his world around him changed as he knew it. Sadie, the baby, suffered from bulimia and a serious case of low self-esteem, where she just always felt out of place, unsure of everything, even her sexuality. She threw unnecessarily tantrums, if you ask me, but very expected of the baby of the house.

I mean it when I say you really have to read it to fully enjoy it. Let's just say Selasi has a new fan.

And that's it folks, my favorite book this month.

See you next month!

Love,
I