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!

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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.