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.


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.


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.



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!🍷