Not Quite An End of the Year Review

As we end this year, I thought to take a step back and write something more retrospective. Sure, I write for an audience but I also write for me, for various reasons I have talked about on this blog. I am reluctant to title this in memory of because like I said last year, end of the year reviews can be narcissistic. But let's take a step back for a second. I started this year explaining my distrust for social media, and in  recent times after finding private information about me online (!), I became even more distrustful, and slightly livid. How can you balance a love for sharing some things and an ardent desire for being private? How about the overload of information? Believe it or not, I just don't care about your new purchase of bedsheets or yet another discount code from another sponsored brand. Ohhh and social justice warriors? Bless them, but they can increase your anxiety levels. Let me tell you, you don't know peace until you're free from endless tweets about the damage trump is doing to America or some other apocalyptic problem. So, again how do you balance wanting to KNOW and care for the world you inhabit, but also wanting to avoid insane anxiety levels? My quest these past few weeks.

My blessing and my curse is that I am very self aware. Osemhen's end of the year review reminded me that I am also very deliberate with everything, and there is nothing I do that doesn't involve me thinking and thinking and thinking. I don't mind that trait at all. So it is possible my exhaustion with social media is merely me overthinking. I know though that social media is more harmful than helpful. That post by Osemhen inspired me to write this whole post, which is basically me, meandering. Anyway, like her, I am rethinking social media. I will probably not completely shun it. However, can you imagine the freedom of just enjoying things and experiences without the pressure to share them with folks who don't care?

In the same post, Osemhen wrote about generational curses, and how we always think it is about witchcraft and literal curses, when it is often repetitive cycles, and persistent harmful or (sometimes) beneficial behaviors. But many people hardly recognize these because no one really likes to admit that there are aspects of their upbringing they don't like. And those who don't idolize their upbringings blame everything on their parents and refuse to take responsibility for their lives. Don't be either. In this new year, take responsibilities for your actions, but also be aware enough and pray against all forms of generational curses. In the very beginning of this—now famous (thanks to me, haha)—post, she mentions getting counseling and therapy, and I was very impressed and frankly, fascinated with all the clarity therapy brought her. To be honest with you, there was a part of me (the Nigerian in me, I guess) that thought that therapy has been idolized. Don't get me wrong, I think our mental health should be priority, but I still don't think everyone needs therapy. Osemhen's post might have changed or at least challenged my opinion. And I'm here for it.

This year was a lot. But isn't every year? The one thing adulthood has ingrained in me is the perfect understanding of life as a mix of the good and the bad. You can't get the rainbow without the rain. Life is mostly mundane and that's fine. I knew all this beginning of this year but I still started the year with an insurmountable amount of fear, ennui, anger, and exhaustion. The kind of fear that even thinking back now, was unhealthy and I still don't quite understand.  I mean, the beginning of this year was in fact a train-wreck, just from thinking back now. I even struggled with my faith. But my greatest miracle is that God didn't give up on me. Now, some of those fears almost materialized, and the funniest part is it never is that bad. I mean, there was that one time I had the worst sickness of my life and legit thought I would not make it, but I did. Despite all this, what I remember the most about this year is the successes. Good news, good news, good news. There is nothing like the end of the year to remind you of the seductiveness of pessimism. So to briefly recap, humble brag, but mostly thank God, I will say (what I'm usually too shy to mention) I presented my research at a major conference, defended a qualifier, wrote two MAJOR exams (and passed one with a distinction), won two great fellowships etc. I worked HARD this year.  But don't even get started on the amazing things God did for my family and loved ones—truly my favorite part of this year. I remember knowing without a doubt that God is GOOD. I remember also having a perfect understanding of a salient fact: even if, nay when I fail, God is still good. And that was beautiful. That was the best part.

The one thing I have not perfectly nailed however, is the art of not caring. Don't get me wrong. I'm supposed to care. I just should not care too much. I should not care what people think or say. I should learn to scroll past all the terrible news on social media without a heavy heart. I was really there for a lot of people in 2018, and it was good. However, in 2019, I want more of me for myself, you know? Some people deserve all the love I have to give. Some people don't. I must never conflate both groups. Most of all though, if I could just give myself half the attention, time, resources, joy, celebratory words, cheerleading I gave to others in 2018, then 2019 will already be perfect.

Ah what am I saying? What is the point of all this? Meh, who knows? Whatever you do in this coming year, be better. But please don't overkill yourself with the idea that you have to be perfect. So what if you don't achieve all your goals? Just be a decent human being. Don't be that person who never returns calls. Or who only ever messages people when you need them. Be better. Do better. Most of all, remember that in the end, everything will be okay.



Friday Reflections

1.) Last Friday Reflections of the year!

2.) "I am certainly not seen as a visionary, but I hope I'm seen as steady and prudent and able." - George Herbert Walker Bush

2.) Please read this, on the so-called millennial entitlement. Like, yeah right! The same generation that works hard like a dog, juggling two or three side hustles with a main job? getting more and more education? Yet saddled with debt, unable to own homes and marrying much later than other generations due to financial hardship? Get outta here, please.

3.) This story about how a devoted wife bludgeoned her husband to death is quite shocking and frankly, I'm surprised it took her so long considering the immense psychological, emotional, physical, and mental abuse she endured all those years.

4.) Michael B. Jordan will be king.

5.) 100 years of black hair

6.) "Why Love Actually is the worst movie." No really, that movie is trash, and dumping all those celebrities in it does not make it any less trash. I said what I said.

7.) Read about this single woman in her 30s tell you about how dating is the hardest part of being single. Lmao. Despite the humor in the article, it carries one reminder: no matter how single you are and no matter the age, YOU ARE FINE. Seriously.

8.) A follow up from the same writer about wanting to be boyfriend rich that reminds you that having a partner, nay, LIVING with a partner dramatically reduces the cost of rent. If that ain't true?! Imagine how much you'd save in rent and expenses if you were splitting the cost with someone?

9.) Remember when I said reading Money Diaries revealed to me how many girls are actually being bankrolled by their boyfriends, and thought, wow no wonder we are so far behind on the quest for gender equality. Yeah, I said it.

10.) When you are confused about your calling?

11.) Anyway, looking forward to a new year and maybe cranking out one final post for 2018. I feel like I wrote more in December than the entire year combined. This irony is not lost on me.

Eating My Way Through Lagos: The Foods You Should Definitely Eat in Lagos, Nigeria

I went to Nigeria for the second time this year this past October. This time for my friend, S's wedding, and for some work too. Because this was going to be a longer trip, I planned to document my food. Yes, everything I ate. I would not necessarily call myself a foodie, but I like taking pictures of food, and I have a particular fondness for food photography. And we all know the one thing everyone misses about Lagos is the food. So with the opportunity to visit Lagos, I was on a mission: take as many pictures of food as possible. The problem however was that I went for meals with serious, smart,  chic people. This meant there was no way to take pictures of my food without seeming...uncool or unchic buhaha. Long story short, I resorted to taking only pictures of street foods that I ate in the car instead. Street foods are actually gems in Lagos, so this was a good problem to have. Enjoy the pictures.

Okay this one was technically not in Lagos. It was in London, at the Wagamama in Heathrow. I think it was chilli ramen, and it was meh. There was nothing fantastic about it so let's move on real fast.

My brother, my friend, E, and I wanted to wait out traffic on our way home one day, so we went into Casper and Gambini's at Ikeja. First of, I feel like things are generally overpriced in Lagos for no reason. I don't remember the price of what was supposed to be a mojito? But what I remember was literally tasting granulated sugar in the drink. Now I'm as much a sweet tooth as the next person, but no.
Super Yogo. Of all the street foods in Lagos, this is King. I feel like I took this every single day. Anyway this frozen yoghurt drink is what dreams are made of and what has been rescuing people in Lagos traffic since the beginning of time. It is usually paired with gala, another street food. This did not disappoint AT ALL. When we were kids, was it even Sunday if we didn't buy this or other variants of this after Church? I don't know how I would have lived my relatively healthy diet lifestyle if I lived in Lagos. There are so many seemingly healthy things that are filled with sugar. And the terrible part of most foods in Lagos is how they give NO dietary information about what you are eating. So weird. I always had to Google calorific and nutrient information Lol. But YOLO, man.
 Ofada Rice. Before I even left the states, I had been dreaming of Ofada. One time I told E I could give my pinkie finger for some Ofada rice, and she said she didn't doubt me. So this was my first attempt at Ofada or what was supposed to be Ofada and it was a fail. I got it from The Place, but it was still technically street food since I ate it in the car. But anyway, it was just pepper stew with palm oil. It was so underwhelming and disappointing.
 Coconut covered doughnut. This thing requires an entire post on its own; an ode, if you will. This thing got me through the worst traffic, and was just altogether glorious. Goodness. Let me explain. I don't care for doughnuts here in America because I consider them wack. They all taste like powdered sugar. Doughnuts in Nigeria are usually fluffier and more flavorful, but I didn't care for them that much either. But then we were at Shoprite one day, and I saw this and I have a thing for coconuty anything. So I took a risk. Let's just say, best risk ever. It was so freaking good! So good. Every time I went to Shoprite, I bought it. Soft, fresh, delicious, and flavorful. Yum. I miss this :-(
 Pasta? Another from The Place. I swear, the name of the place is actually The Place. No kidding. Anyway, whatever this was, was okay. One thing I don't include here but I feel like I should mention is the asun from The Place. It would be unfair for me to crap on everything from The Place, and not mention the one thing I actually really LOVED. Their asun is really good. Every other thing was not very good. But my friend, R, already warned me lol. On a second thought, this might not have been from The Place. I think it was from another fast food, but I don't remember. So scratch this. BUT, the asun from The Place is bomb nonetheless.
 Plantain Chips. Girlllllllll. Enough said. So good and so cheap. I loved it.
 Amala from a local buka. This is another one that was technically not from Lagos. It was from our trip to Ibadan. Bukas are basically local restaurants in Nigeria. Ibadan is a city in Oyo state  (also in South West Nigeria). Now, Ibadan is famous for really good Amalas. Hmmm, the thing is I don't know very well what the standard should be for Amalas from bukas, but if my standard is homemade Amalas, then this was not excellent. It was not very good. If this was the first Amala you ever tasted, you would hate Amala. And Amala is a beautiful, delicious meal. There was way too much oil than stew in this. And excess oil in stews irritates me. Also the meats were too tough, and this was a challenge on Lagos-Ibadan expressway, with all the potholes. Meh. Still, being inside the buka, and placing our orders was an anthropological study in itself. Haha.
 My second attempt at Ofada. Yay. This was actual ofada rice and ofada stew, courtesy of E. She knew my desperate attempt to eat ofada, so one fine Monday morning, she called us to come over  because she bought Ofada from an Ofada hawker. Now, you gotta know, no better ofada than those sold by hawkers in leaves too. It was delicious. Hella delicious. And I loved it.
This was ewa agonyi, basically overcooked beans with palm oil sauce, locally made with some smoked fish. This was okay, especially when paired with fresh bread. My only problem again, was too much oil. Otherwise, it wasn't too bad. I was really scared about upsetting my stomach, but I was good afterwards.

So there you have it. Some of the street foods I ate in Lagos. To be honest, these were the real winners. So even though I couldn't take pictures of the actual meals in restaurants because ahem, I couldn't be uncool, they were mostly not as good as some of these street foods/snacks. Honorable mention, and exception to the previous sentence is Wheatbaker Hotel. The food from that place was hands down the best meal I had: all courses. But I don't have pictures, sorry.

This was fun! I will take more pictures of food or I should say, I will post more pictures because I always took pictures anyway. Haha.

How was Christmas?



Merry Christmas Eve!

I always say I love Christmas and that it's my favorite holiday but I don't know why. And there has to be a why. Since there is no why, I'm beginning to think what is going on is I merely love the idea of Christmas.  I laugh at this because I once told my siblings that someone liked the idea of me and not necessarily me. I digress. Yes, so when I say idea of Christmas, I don't necessarily mean the underlying idea: the birth of Jesus, beginning of salvation et al (I mean, I do love that obviously). By idea, I think I mean, the joy, gift giving, laughter, family and friends time, and just the spirit of it all. Check out this Smith Family Christmas video for what I'm saying. There was so much joy in that video. I gotta say, no one personifies black man joy like Will Smith. And I love all that love radiating in that video too.

Now, if you don't have that, don't beat yourself up too much. I hear the holidays have the highest number of suicides and depression rates, which completely negates every BS I just said about the "idea of Christmas". I can really see how people would be sad during this period...especially the lonely. Since lonely encompasses varying kinds: maybe you're without family, or without romantic love, or just without cheer. It is fine too. Jesus came for all of us. Last Christmas, I mentioned that if you have a heavy heart, remember that Christ has overcome. It is still true. The one mistake people often make though, is to think the biological family is the only kind of family there is. That is not true. And even if there are no friends, the holiday is a season and like most things and every season, it will pass too and things will go back to normal. So try not to worry about that sadness that engulfs you too much. In the meantime, here are pictures from the National Zoo lights festival to cheer you up. The cheer comes from just how underwhelming the photos are, hahah. get the joke? I hope you do. Yeah, so this is me signing out and wishing you a Merry Christmas! In the meantime, I am about to go back after a long and quite frankly, peaceful break from social media, to feed off from the cheer of others as well and see how everyone is celebrating Christmas, before exing again. Social media is exhausting (let's talk more about this later).

Merry Christmas, for real.

I wish you all the joy and cheer of this season.



Now the photos:

Jesus was not a deadbeat

Less than two weeks to 2019!! Are you pumped? I'm not. Kidding, Lol.

Today, my devotional talked a lot about the disciple "whom Jesus loved", whom everyone believes to be John. Now, every verse read today where John was mentioned, it's prefaced with "the disciple whom Jesus loved". The really interesting part of this is when we first met John in the Bible, his nickname was "son of thunder". There is a lot of speculation that "son of thunder" was in reference to his temperament: impetuous, headstrong, etc. But as we progress in studying the bible, and as John spent more time with Jesus, we notice a transformation in his behavior: gentility, love etc, He allowed Jesus to transform him. So now I'm thinking have I let God use difficult circumstances and people to transform my character? Honestly? The jury is still out on this.

Seven Habits That Show I Took My Relationship With Money Seriously in 2018

At the beginning of this year, I told y’all I was getting VERY serious with money, and I meant it. My relationship with money this year is the biggest (and probably only) proof that I am an adult. To be fair, I was never reckless with money to begin with so it wasn’t such a huge leap. Anyway, so find below some of the ways my relationship with money has changed since beginning to be more conscious about money habits.

1.) Budgeting: listen, this is a game changer. After a few months of tracking what I spent, I was able to develop a realistic budget. This means, I factor in my rent, food, entertainment, utilities, transportation etc. and set a financial limit per month for each expense. The goal is to not exceed the budget for each expense. Because of this I write down every SINGLE expense. If I pay $4 to get a cart at the airport, I write it down. If I get a $4 white chocolate mocha at Starbucks, I write it down too. I’m almost anal about it. And at the end of the month, you know what you earned, what you spent, and the rest can go towards your financial goals: saving, investing, paying back debt etc. So basically, money management.

2.) Reading books and getting financially literate: umm, I have read many money books and contrary to what you might think, many of them are actually fun; think Broke Millennial and The Financial Diet. I also watch YouTube videos. Dave Ramsey is really good, but he can be too intense and somewhat unrealistic. I mean, you want to be good with money, but not at the expense of actually living or glorifying it. Important or not, many other things surpass paying debt, and tracking your expenses. I also read Refinery 29’s Money Diary series. I want to say I read it to see how other millennial women in America spend, but really I am a nosy person who likes to feel good about not spending so egregiously like the rest of America. Bite me. Seriously though, Money Diaries give you the full spectrum: from the twenty-something-year-olds that earn middle six figures per year (and make me think of my life and inadequacy LOL); to the ones that earn $20,000 per year and spend half of it on a stupid boyfriend; to the one that granpa left a hefty inheritance for. Wild. Biggest lessons from that series are: people are hella privileged; many Americans can’t survive not being coupled up; and many, many girls wouldn’t survive if their boyfriends weren’t footing [at least half] their bills. Yeah, I said it.

3.) An emergency fund: I haven’t completely nailed this but I am onto something; meaning I am building it. The most concern here is so you don’t lose your safety net if anything happens; say, you lose your job or something. And let's just say my faith in God comes to play here (HAHA), plus I am somewhat privileged to not be afraid of becoming homeless. That said I am working on it. One huge lesson you will learn from becoming responsible with money is that it is not a one-size-fits-all thing; different lifestyles, different goals, but a few basic and fundamental principles: like an emergency fund is compulsory.

4.) Buying investment pieces: I was never a big shopper. Don’t get me wrong, I like the fine things of life but I can do without them. I also really like to look good (sometimes) so yea I buy clothes. Now though, I am learning to buy things that will last forever even if they [sometimes] come with hefty prices: like a good winter coat, a nice pair of boots etc. I am not going to be bougie and say never buy fast fashion. Meh. Buy what you can afford, but consider buying things that last and staples rather than every single thing in fashion at the moment. I mean there is also the conversation about the ethical standards of some of your favorite clothing stores, but that's conversation for another time.

5.) Treating my credit card like a debit card: ooh this one. One time many years ago, young
Ife had no job, but had a new credit card and totally forgot that APRs kicked in after a year or so. Long story short, I tanked my credit score from not understanding when minimum payments were due and completely ignoring the credit card (I just kept on spending lmao). Now though my credit card is like my debit card, so I buy only and only what I can fully pay back at the end of the month. That way I am building my credit history but also being responsible. Now, once in a while of course you will have needs that you can’t afford, so you may need to use your credit card. Do it, but try to pay back quickly. P.s: these kinds of needs are why emergency funds and savings are important.

6.) Building my credit score: Enough said. Many of the aforementioned principles have contributed to my success in this regard.

7.) Thinking about retirement: Not in the sense of wanting to stop working, more like in the sense of thinking about my future. Before I didn’t even know what IRA meant (individual retirement account), stocks were like rocket science to me. But now, and again this is due to consciously willing to learn, I have a better understanding and know where to begin with investing in my future.

It's like Chelsea Fagan says, this is all basically like taking care of future you. You will probably not regret it. Listen, pick one thing to do to get better with money. And to be fair, for a lot of people the solution to their money problems is to earn more. However, for a WHOLE LOT of others, it's superfluous spending: shoes, clothes, natural hair products you and I know you will never use, gym memberships that you don't need, trips you can do without because traveling is NOT and will never be that big a deal, expensive cars, and all of that lifestyle creep you allow just so you can post on Instagram or compete with your friends in a passive aggressive manner. Do better in 2019. Okay? Okay. Haha

I promise this is not in any way a criticism of people's lifestyle but mostly to say there are benefits to getting better and having a better relationship with your money. There truly is.



Book of the Month: The Financial Diet

I included this book because it’s the only book I’ve read in December, so far. And that’s okay. People like to compete slash show off: I read fifty books this week. Lol, ok boo. As I have often said, I diversify my hobbies and what not. And reading is just one of them, in addition to you know, actually working some 60+ hours (or more) every week. So yeah. I say this to say, people often feel bad about not reading enough and the thing is, reading should be fun and/or educational, not punitive. When you can, by all means, please read. When you can't, don't feel bad. More importantly, this is the book of the month because it’s a money book. In my next post,  I will share how being better with money has improved the quality of my life, so this seemed like a good precursor.

The Financial Diet was written by Chelsea Fagan and Lauren Ver Hage, the co-founders of a hugely popular website with the same title. They were my first teachers in this whole millennial-becoming-good-with money business, and it seemed like it was worth it to invest in and support them. So I’m glad I did. Well technically the book was a gift from my friend but I requested it sooo same difference. Even before the book, the goal of The Financial Diet website has always been to inspire women to take control of their finances, become more comfortable talking about money, and just be a general bad ass in life in the most realistic, yet optimistic way. The book models this approach. It gives step-by-step guides on how to save, spend, cook, decorate your apartment, thrive at work, and dress your way to your best financial life.

The first thing I want to say is this book was a very easy read. Truth is, I tend to select books of the month that are easy to read because no one has time for authors who write to deliberately confuse their audience and complicate things just to sound smart. My favorite writers have always been the ones that write plain and clear. So yes this book is easy and it takes you through the aforementioned life necessities through practical applications, suggestions, and interviews with experts.  While I enjoyed it, I also was left wanting for more. But I think this was largely due to the fact that I have watched many of their videos and read several posts on the websites, so nothing the book said was particularly new [to me]. Again, perhaps because they are millennials, their approach to finance is very relatable and they are sure to emphasize that managing money is not a one-size-fits-all thing. How you handle money depends on your lifestyle, financial goals, personal hobbies and favorites, and of course your reality. They also remind you not to forget to live or  enjoy life because of insurmountable and unrealistic expectations you have set on yourself.

Chelsea is the perfect person to talk about finance. She has gone from maxing out several credit cards, to quitting college, to drunkenly quitting her job over the phone at 4am (?) because she didn't feel like waking up early the next morning or so, to co-founding a successful lifestyle and finance website, and now leading a team of about 5 at the the same website in New York City. Yeah, what a rollercoaster, huh? Chelsea is humorous, and she has a lot of personal advice to dispense without coming off as condescending. Even if you don't read her book, watch their videos on YouTube. You will enjoy them.

Another finance book I read earlier this year was of course Broke Millennial, which frankly, I slightly prefer to this. I found that one much more resourceful, as far as learning technical terms, investing, saving, paying back debts, the different kinds of financial institutions that exist etc. Broke Millennial was incredibly helpful. Not to say The Financial Diet wasn't at all helpful; it was. But it was also very lifestyle-bloggish, if that makes any sense at all. Again, I think the reason I feel this way might be because it is geared towards total beginners, and as my next post will show you, I'm no longer a beginner with money *flips hair* so some advice in the book seemed rudimentary to me. However, one way The Financial Diet stands out for me is the real, practical advice on making career choices. They are careful to warn readers to beware of the "dream job" trope; even going as far as coining a term "career lattice" in place of the traditional career ladder. You know, life is real and not an Instagram hashtag or yet another trite motivational quote. Don't seek all your happiness in your day job. Sometimes, your job is not the answer to all your fulfillment and happiness challenges. Sometimes, you job is just that, your job; your source of income; another outlet to prove yourself smart and resourceful. Diversify; meaning spread out the source of your fulfillment and happiness. Another interesting part of the book includes all the cute graphics at different points of the book; they made it even much more engaging. I mean, even the paperback is definitely one of a kind and makes for a good coffee table book/decor.

In the end, you should know (and this book reminds us often throughout its pages) that there should be a goal to money. It's not just about acquiring and acquiring; as one of the experts in the book say, "Money is nice, but there has to be a point to it or you'll ever have enough."

That's it. I have actually started another book, and maybe to compensate for my sporadic postings this year, I will do another book of the month. Maybe not.



Book of the Month: An American Marriage

I honestly need to title this post, book of the year. This is definitely the best book I read this year—by any measure. First, praise God I am back to fictions and this is what you would describe as back with a bang. I love how it is both deep and lighthearted. Whatever you have heard about the book, it lives up to and surpasses that hype. I first heard about this book this past summer on The View. Joy Behar recommended it, and because Joy Behar is all of our aunties in our head, you know we gotta listen to her. Also it was on Obama’s summer reading list…uhm that’s enough reason it.

An American Marriage tells the story of a couple through different people’s points of view.  As this new couple, Roy and Celeste begin life of marital bliss, they are thrown into an unfortunate, external circumstance beyond their control.  While they were visiting Roy’s parents in Louisiana, Roy is arrested and eventually sentenced to twelve years in prison for a crime his wife is certain he didn’t commit.  This event would shape the rest of their lives, and this book shows us how they navigate its aftermath, with some glimpse at life before this inauspicious event. While Roy is in prison, Celeste finds some comfort in the hands of her childhood friend, Andre (who is also Roy’s childhood friend!) and ahem a relationship ensues. Now a few years after, Roy’s conviction is overturned, and he returns home to resume his life but…bloop, so much has occurred. I know it looks like I already told the whole story, but I promise I haven’t. So much more happens. Plus all of this was on the cover of the book, so I gatchu.

But that’s what makes it such a good book: it’s not just that such life altering events happened, it’s the HOW. It’s the style of story telling, and the way the author draws you into the minds of every character, because somehow you empathize with ALL of them, but you are also furious at them. She created real characters. And oh God, I have so much about to say about each and every one of them, but I also don’t want to spoil the book. So this is an ideal book for a book club because there is a lot to unpack. There is also a lot about culture in America’s South. It’s about the juxtaposition of families and upbringing. And of course, there is racial injustice and discrimination, and the complexities of our justice system in this country. Normally a book like this would have you think it’s about to tackle the complexities of American justice system, but nope it goes beyond to examine the way it destroys souls and families. It is very, very well written, and is able to delve on a lot about black experience in America without seeming like that’s what it is doing. The book is about love, and about hurt, and about friendship.  I’m currently writing this post while traveling in the South so I feel an extra connection. Buhahaha. No. Seriously, this is also quite easy to read, so you never want to drop it. Trust me on this.

If nothing, know that a book that got me to blog must be a good one. LOL

Also, YIKES, it is the last day of November, unbelievable! 2018 is about to end and it has been a great year. So good, I want to break my own rule and do an "in memory of..." post. But then again, I might be too lazy/busy to actually write one. Hmmmn, we'll see.



P.S: I'm looking for Christians who have changed churches as young adults. What prompted this change? Why did you do it? And how? If you have, please let me know!

Happy Thanksgiving Plus Meet Patricia

Y'all, Happy Thanksgiving!

My family entrusted the turkey to me, and not to humble brag but it turned out pretty dope; especially in pictures. I mean I almost got frost bite from defrosting the 14 pound bird, and I have a big gash on my finger from a cut, but turkey was delicious so it was all worth it. So I brought pictures. After pictures more words to be said below. But enjoy. This is not a food blog so let's not bother with a recipe? But if you see this, and love it, email me and I will send a detailed and elaborate recipe to you. It has a Naija tweak to it (which means well spiced and delicious).

Look at that bad bird, huh? We named her Patricia. Poor thing. Anyway, moving on.

Not to bring down the mood, but a popular entertainer and OAP, the Voice of Lagos, Tosyn Bucknor passed away this week from complications of sickle cell. Now, of course I didn't know her personally, but it just hit me so hard. The worst part about death, like I posted on Instagram is how everyone just moves on with their life. Like someone just lost their sister, someone just lost their best friend, someone just lost their daughter, and yeah people posted and stuff, but then life carried on. In fact, some of her own friends went ahead to post about random things that same day after they had publicly posted their sadness about her death. But life had to continue, people had to know? We are here one minute, and poof the next one. So, you are really on your own. So better live your best life (and I don't really like this phrase haha). But really, do your best to live your best life. Love hard. Laugh harder. And really, just chill. Try to be there for people you love.

Okay, that's it for the day. Sorry I didn't have a more inspiring post. My thanksgiving post last year was equal parts deep and thoughtful, so check that out. Happy thanksgiving again, guys! And if I never come back here before Christmas, well then, haha. Kidding. I probably will be. God willing.

Now let me go cradle my food baby while having a glass of wine.



Friday Reflection

1.) When a stranger decides to destroy your life.

2.) Such important message from Jane Fonda on love, hate, empathy, fear, forgiveness, and growing old.

3.) Tammy Duckworth, on being a new mom at 50; the first Senator to give birth while in office; and the first female amputee in the Senate.

4.) I felt this video (about women with different salaries and their anxiety about money) to my CORE; Way too real. But it is also the PERFECT example of how fleeting money matter what you earn.

5.) Njideka Akunyili Crosby, daughter of former NAFDAC chief, Dora Akunyili is now somewhat of a superstar in the art world, with paintings selling for $3 million. This article tells a little bit of her story from Enugu to Los Angeles, California.

6.) "To not be political is to be political", Timothy Keller says in the New York Times op ed. His argument is that Christians don't fit into the two party system, and I am very inclined to agree.

7.) "I am black and I'm a member of the 1%" Check out this feature on some of the richest black people in America.

8.) Everything you could possibly want to know about therapy

Defining Home

My friend, M got married on the last day of August. Now, since she is practically a sister to me, this meant I had to visit Nigeria after a VERY long time. Coincidentally, on our way back, M, her husband, siblings-in-law, and I were all on the same plane. After the most chaotic airport experience in Lagos, we briefly talked about what home meant. How could home be so...hostile? Annoying? Stressful? In addition, the woman that sat near me from Lagos to Paris narrated her frustrations with the system in Lagos and vowed to not return home.

Interestingly, before all of this, the Luvvie situation got me thinking a lot about what home meant to me. Some background on the Luvvie story: Luvvie made a joke on Twitter (like most people do) about an African American musician. And before anyone could say Jack Robinson, people (some African Americans) questioned her blackness, told her to return home to Africa. The same sentiments of neo-nazis, really. People deemed her unqualified to speak on African American culture and pretty much told her she wasn't black enough. The same way the neo-nazi would say those of us with darker skin hues would never be American enough. Now, all of this was said to Luvvie who moved to America when she was just 9; whose formative years were all in America; and who frankly, probably has no recollection of the Lagos/Nigeria she left behind. To better understand the Luvvie story, check it out here. Is it possible some Africans haven't educated themselves enough on racial history and black American culture? Hell yes. But when white people say I'm not American enough, and black people say I'm not black enough, you know I gotta sit and think about where and what home is. What does home mean to me?

Lagos will always be home. By default. Yet somehow I had a more difficult time fitting in that I thought. I thought it would be a perfect fit like my pajamas. But I had forgotten roads and struggled to identify major places. I passed by my secondary (high) school and felt no tinge of nostalgia. The driving drove me crazy and the potholes worsened my motion sickness. Is it weird to say people just...stared...a LOT? Nonetheless, Lagos was still familiar. I took a local flight from Lagos to Port Harcourt, and the pilot introduced himself (or herself, can't remember now), it was weirdly cool for me that it was a Nigerian name. That everyone knew how to rightly say my name. All of that felt...normal.

The funny thing is I'm probably (almost certainly) not as American as Luvvie. This means that the African Americans who abused Luvvie would definitely tell me to go back home. And for a minute during the Luvvie debacle, I started to wonder if I would ever be accepted in America. After all, people still ask, where are you from? And when I tell them where my family lives in America. They say, no, where are you really from? Hmmm interesting. America is home. America is where my family is. America is where my phone automatically connects to wifi. Hell, I am incredibly privileged to have more than one home in America. America is where I found a career[path] I love. America is where I found my voice; where I better understood justice and equality. America is where I truly understood my spirituality, and frankly, where I re-found God. America gave me a world class education. No one can take that from me. Ever.

When we landed in Charles de Gaulle airport and I saw my city on one of those announcement TVs with our time of departure to the United States, I screamed, “home, soon!”

A week before then, when I was landing in Lagos and I saw the view of the cityline, I thought “home, again!”

I'm incredibly lucky and privileged to have more than one home, and the world is globalized such that it doesn't or shouldn't matter as much anymore. Home is where my heart is. Home is when I am with people I love. Home transcends bigoted views. And make no mistake, I am black, blackity black, blackity blackity black. That my progenitors were not slaves does not and will never nullify my blackness. So what does home mean to me? No other person can define what home is to me. Home is wherever the hell I want it to be.




One reason I rarely blog is because I feel like I have to say something grand all the time. This is of course ridiculous; just write is often is advice. To be fair, the main reason for my absence is busyness. I am busy; am I ever not? Are we ever not?

I just took what was my last exam ever (I think for the rest of my life), and let me say, I feel relieved. Relief. Joy. Hope. Excitement. I will be honest, it was an all encompassing, thorough, and HARD exam. But I am grateful to God because it represents an advancement in my career.

I am taking a few hours to not think; you know, re-watch Grey's Anatomy from season one, or maybe West Wing? Who knows? I just need to chill.

I have been wanting to blog about contentment for a while, and today feels like a good day to talk about it. I remember reading in my September devotional that we often conflate what we want with what we need. The Bible says we really only need food, clothing, and shelter.  But then we crave more and more and more. If you took away competing with people you know, showing off and the likes, would you find you have all you need? Could you actually enjoy all you have without an audience? Without anyone liking or validating your experiences?

Satisfaction should not be found in money. Money is meant to provide our needs, the needs of others, and an opportunity to give back to God as an act of worship. In Philippians 4:15-19, Paul mentioned he was content. When all the gifts they sent were enough, Paul said, enough, and kind of returned the rest rather than acquire more and more and more. Now, I don't mean to badger pastors (because frankly, it's trite to keep abusing pastors every time Lol) but our current spiritual leaders never say they have had enough. They continue to acquire and acquire and acquire. We live in a world with no contentment whatsoever. Everyone of us is freaking greedy.

"And my God will meet all your needs according to his riches in glory." Verse 19.

This part, he has proven to many of us over and over again. We can trust that God will meet our every need. His generosity exceeds ours exponentially, so there is no need to worry.

"But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for moment, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs."  
- 1 Timothy 6: 6 - 10

This one is filled with many truths: we came with nothing to this world and will leave with nothing. So why can't we be content with with what we have and especially when we have enough? Why do we get carried away? The temptation to acquire more and get more can lead us into more temptation and make us get carried away. When the truth is we will leave this world with nothing.

Maybe this will give us rest and peace. We need to know that peace comes from God; security comes from God not money. Forget competing with friends,  forget living your life just so others can have a certain perception of you. Stand your ground on principle and don't be afraid of being different.

"I can't afford it"  is a perfect response.

True godlinesses with contentment is itself great wealth. Longing too desperately to be rich can push you to be trapped by harmful desires that plunge you into ruin and destruction. Don't we see this everywhere? People will do just about anything, and I mean, anything for money. For fame. For attention. I don't know that a lot of people can live without attention.  Let people think what they want, but live with your means and on your terms. All of this is of course, counter-culture. Even spiritual leaders want to fly in private jets and own as many cars as the colors of the rainbow. So feel free to ignore this, but know that we can strive and strive and strive, ultimately except we get peace from God, it will be chasing the unattainable. You will find that no amount of cars, designer clothes, Instagram likes and comments can feed the giant hole in your heart.

Yeah, I'm telling it like it is today, sorry.



Book of the Month: When Affirmative Action Was White

We read this book for my book club and I knew it had to be book of the month. The title tells you a lot about what the book is about. The author, an actual academic, traces history by detailing how economic and social policies in America’s history excluded black folks and were racist. This is truly the perfect book for the people who always complain about affirmative action. But it also is ideal for Africans and others who genuinely thing African Americans are merely lazy or complain way too much.

Instead of viewing affirmative action as developing after the civil rights movement, this book goes back in history to the New Deal policies of the 1930s and 1940s. Also, ask most folks and they will tell you affirmative action was designed with a bias for minorities. However, history is truly missing from public debates about affirmative action, because people often start the conversation with the 1960s, when beneficiaries shifted from white to black. This book details how social security programs like the New Deal, GI Bill, the Fair Deal created powerful programs for whites, even if they were not explicitly called affirmative action at the time.  History will also show you that affirmative action was in fact designed for the majority, with and (by?) racist Southern Democrats who were in support of staunch racial hierarchy. Before the civil rights movement at all, policies were created to enable the prosperity of whites and deliberately leaving out blacks. For instance, while the Fair Labor Standards Act was great for factory workers, it was practically useless for maids and agricultural workers, the fields that were dominated by blacks, and this was because of the Southern Democrats. Reading this book makes you feel like going back some decades just to punch those racist, annoying, moronic Southern Democrats.

What this book does well is making a case for how and why we need to close racial inequality; rather than ambiguities like "reparations", which are messy, and quite frankly not feasible, isn't it better to enact policies that benefit minorities and *attempt* close the gap that racism and slavery and discrimination have created? Let's face it: although the Civil Rights Acts in theory shut down and forbade discrimination, it didn't address the centuries of discrimination black people had gone through. So President Lyndon Johnson initiated a new government policy, affirmative action, designed to repair some of the lasting damage that years of racism, slavery, and brutal discrimination inflicted upon blacks. And there was and (there still is) damage. While white folks or perhaps some others might find some of the contents of this book shocking, I didn't. I knew for instance, that for the longest time, blacks were excluded from receiving mortgage loans. This meant that while whites were able to build equity through owning homes and thereby multiplying their net worths, blacks were stuck. Consequently,

"at the end of the twentieth century, as a major study reported, 'the net worth of the typical white family is $81,000 compared to $8,000 for black families...only 10 cents for every dollar of wealth held by white families."

Black families have still not caught up. And with what was lost, you can see how it is easy for a white person to go to college and a black person wouldn't be able to. You can understand where privilege comes in. Privilege is many, many things, that one blog post can't cover, but one of them is never having to worry about the color of your skin being a hinderance to your progress. Privilege is having a trust fund for your education created by your father's father's father, whereas another person's father's father was restricted in the kinds of schools he could go; or the kinds of water fountains he could use. There are also *still* tons of policies that exist in favor of white people, but work against black people. Even post Civil Rights Acts, truth is (and this is especially for all the people with the rallying cry against affirmative action because it favors black people yen yen yen) white women as group are the single greatest beneficiaries of affirmative action.

One thing that stands out is how, although the book is more than a decade old, it actually feels fresh, like it was written this year. My favorite part of this book is how it is able to bridge the divide between policy and academia; it fits very well into both worlds. Of course as a true academic, he concludes with policy recommendations for American policymakers in their dealings with the legacies of these policies by reexamining the original vision of  Lyndon Johnson and affirmative action itself.

I put some excerpts in form of pictures across this post to truly give you a better picture. I will warn that the book is a little bit dense, but that's to be expected in a book by an academic. I implore you to read it though, because I couldn't possibly adequately explain the importance of this book in this era, and indeed for posterity as we have conversations surrounding race.



Friday Reflections

1.) How to conquer negative thinking and give in to hope.

2.) How to sharpen your concentration for bible reading...or really, any reading. I read a lot of journal articles and book as part of work, and frankly this was helpful for that too.

3.) This excerpt from Lisa Brennan's (the eldest child of Steve Jobs) memoir makes me think he was an annoying or worse, horrible person.

4.) Okay this essay on motherhood was equal parts breathtaking and terrifying.

5.)  What happens to #Metoo when a feminist is accused?  I don't know where to begin with that story. Why do people have no sense of boundaries? Why are we so readily okay with allowing people into our personal spaces?

6.) Know that if some random person addresses an email to me with "my beautiful and astounding Ife", or "my sweet baby" a PROFESSIONAL SPACE? I too would report it as sexual harassment. Please people, keep work spaces distinct from personal spaces.

7.) If the emails in that story happened, then the accused is nothing but a BIG CREEP, who thinks she can hide under the guise of being a hippie or "queer". Get outta here with that.

8.) Also since when did it become okay to blame the victim, just because he is a man or because your creep of a colleague is a "global feminist star with keen wit"?

9.) Sandra Oh is one of the BEST actresses on TV. She also is a fave because she played my best character ever, Cristina Yang, MD. Read this article where she talks about her recent Emmy nomination and her love for self.

10.) I always wondered what it was about Beyoncé, and why everyone idolized and adored her. I kinda see it now after reading this. She truly is a force. And I love how she mentioned generational curses. Too many people are walking around with the sins of their ancestors and progenitors hanging over them.

11.) The world has finally caught up to Jane Fonda.

12.) "This is personal", Steph Curry says about feminism and the fight for equality.

13.) The role of faith and modern belief in Africa

14.) If these seem to be a combination of both old and recent events, it's because I sometimes have these post in draft for monthsss (without posting) haha and keep updating it.

15.) Also, I am posting "Friday" Reflections on Saturday because I haven't gone an entire week without traveling in quite a while and I am exhausted and sleep deprived, so I can basically do what I like.

16.) JK. I forgot to post it yesterday. No kidding about being tired though.

Of Dangerous Ponytails and Costly Hair

Let's talk about hair! I found this post on Refinery 29 about the perils of sourcing human hair. Traders scout women desperate enough to sell their hair for cheap to feed their family. Granted, some of these women are offered $100 per ponytail of hair on their head, and while that sounds like nothing, it's a lot in Vietnam and some of these women can even "retire" afterwards. The truth though is, it is seldom so straightforward with honest buyers empowering women. Apparently, what is more common is that this [unregulated] business (reportedly worth billions of dollars) opens up the opportunity for scammers and con artists who prey on desperate women, luring them to cut off their hair for a few dollars and then they sell the same hair to those of us in the Western world for exorbitant prices. What's worse? some of these hair brokers flood war-torn and conflict ridden countries to find these women. Women are attacked, rubbed at gunpoint, and violated for their hair. It's a problem and I implore you to read the entire article and maybe even go a little bit further to understand what exactly is happening.

It got me thinking too, and particularly something in that article stuck out:

"There’s nothing wrong with wanting to wear someone else’s hair"

I wanted to puke. Like actually reading it out loud. Someone else's hair. On my head. See, I am a self-proclaimed germaphobic. I don't even like people touching me because I worry I don't know where their hands have been. I go over hand sanitizer like crazy. But I also wear hair extensions. I posted on Instagram stories, asking isn't it hypocritical of me? Why doesn't it gross you out that you have another person's hair on your head? Don't get me wrong, this is not about extensions in general. Because there are tons of hair extensions that aren't  actually human hair. Crochet hair, for instance is mostly synthetic; in fact some hair peddled as human hair, are not people's hair.  But...someone's actual hair?

What is more worrisome is that despite the injustice against the owners of this hair and proclivity for this business because its unregulated and opens up to violation, no one is boycotting it. But people (rightfully) boycott H&M and forever 21 because they expose factory workers to inhumane conditions. People boycott shea moisture and others. But not this industry. Now, I no longer boycott organizations and I explain why in another post.  However, the hair situation is one easy industry where we can say you know what, without a regulated system, we ain't buying jack. Because yes, it might be more expensive when it is regulated, but hell it's something we can do without..

But that's what fears me. What if we actually can't do without these weaves. What if we have been so conditioned to think out hair is just not good enough. What if we have finally accepted that European standards of beauty (longer, straighter the better) is indeed the hallmark of beauty? What is wrong with our own hair? Why do we need someone else's hair??

I know we always say we wear weaves because we can and not because we hate our own hair. But do we really?  I wear weaves too (I have drastically reduced it though) because truth is our hair is hard to manage and its always easy to put them in protective styles. But honestly, I am tired of conforming to the European/Western standards of beauty. So I am now turning to other means of protecting my hair like braids, crotchet locs (I see the actual, natural locs in my near future), and synthetic wigs. Of course again, when I wear the stupid wigs, they are mostly always straight. I am not judging or criticizing anyone here, I'm just really becoming uncomfortable with it.  I am increasingly becoming tired of human hair: the price, the ridiculous lengths UGH. And I wish we all were too. I wish it bothered us to have someone else's hair on our heads. At the very least, let's not contribute to a system that exploits disadvantaged women. If they willingly choose to sell their hair to empower themselves, then great. But how many are actually willing? And how many only do it because  conditions of hardships and systemic corruption have pushed them too. It truly is something to think about more and more. While embracing our natural hair is becoming more popular, it is not nearly mainstream enough. And yes, I know black women are not the only ones that wear extensions. I talked about that here. I also believe we can choose to wear our hair any which way and still be gorgeous. This is just something to think about.



Banana Bread

I feel like people might think the title is metaphoric and I have something deep to say. Except, the post is really about banana bread and nothing more.

After lots of blood and sweats, with [a little bit of] help from my mama and sister, I baked for the first time. Like I said on Instagram, I only have time for this kind of nonsense when I'm visiting my parents haha. Because, seriously, why not just buy it? Cooking, I have down, almost to a science. I'm good at it, it's almost innate even if I don't enjoy it very much. But baking is not my kettle of fish; that's more my sister's specialty.

But it was Sunday night, so I baked. And I have pictures to prove that I did.

So find below.

There are tons of recipe online if you are interested so I'm not going to bother typing down the recipe I used. This was the one that inspired me. I added my own twists like shredded coconut, using considerably LESS sugar, and mixing an egg white (with that mixer thingy) for a fluffier cake/bread. And it turned out delicious, if I say so myself. No really, it was great.

On Gifts, Talent, Wealth, and Privilege

"In the end, we win." - Priscilla Shirer

That's legit the best news of the gospel. In the end, we win. The devil knows this; it feels like some of us aren't fully aware of this though, so we don't act like conquerors, we act like the conquered. But that's not why we are here today.

Aretha Franklin passed today. I wrote on Twitter and Instagram that my dad first told me about her legendary song, "Respect" when I was about 16 or so.  I'm not a music person per se, but I loved that song so much that for several years after I called it my best song. Now, I no longer believe in such absolutes but I will always love what that song embodies—what Aretha Franklin herself embodied. So rest in peace, you Queen of Soul. She was in every sense of the word, legendary.

Now why we are here.

I reread a parable in Matthew 25 (14-30); it's a parable on talents. The popular one in which a rich farmer left some coins for his servants and went on a journey, and then when he came back, the ones with the most talent made the most of it. And the one with 1 bag of gold literally went and buried/hid the master's money.

I thought perhaps this is more that just gifts or talents that God has blessed us with, though those certainly matter. It could more broadly apply to what we do with our lives; the privileges, opportunities, families, abilities that we have been blessed with, how do we use them? It goes way beyond money, in my opinion. How do we make the best use of our privileges and opportunities, and how do we use it to benefit and impact others. Often, we think that making an impact means something GRAND, but it is usually not. We must make sure not to be too egoistical as to think the deliverance of the world lies within our hands. Get over yourself, honey. Rather, think about the unique way you can help even just one person. It could be mentoring. It could be volunteering. But what are you doing with what you have. This also means if you are one of the people with the privilege of getting an education, you better apply yourself to it, because not everyone has that privilege. If it's a job, do it well too. Remember, God did not distribute talents and gifts and privileges and everything equally, and he expects according to what we have.

While we should not be greedy, we also must never be complacent or play it safe in life or even worse, do nothing. Many people do this: choose the option of doing nothing or playing it safe because, well Jesus can come anytime or YOLO. Nah B. We have to make excellent use of each moment spent on earth so that ultimately Jesus can say, "Well done, thy good and faithful servant".

Bottom line is, Jesus IS coming back and will most definitely require us to give account of how we spent out lives. He does and will hold us accountable.

For whoever has, more will be added and they will have in abundance. Whoever doesn't have, even what they have will be take from them. v.29



Friday Reflections

1.) One thing about Chimamanda that most people would know if they bothered to even read about her is her ability to include nuance even in very difficult conversations. This interview was another instance.

2.) Trevor Noah is a comedic genius. I mean, Trevor is what happens when you are talented, but you are also very well read.

3.) This is the closest to an academic explanation of the identity cleavage in liberalism generally, and specifically, the clash between French Ambassador Araud and Trevor Noah. I stand by my initial argument that both had valid arguments and were in fact both right, but Trevor was righter: context matters in everything!

4.) Research shows that positive thinking might be helpful in anti-poverty programs. What that research doesn't mention, which I think might be significant is that the beneficiaries watched people who look like them.

5.) There is an underlying millennial financial resentment, and it was obvious in the recent Money Diary that trended on Refinery 29 about a very rich millennial. This New Yorker article perfectly describes that angst. Can you blame us though?

6.) Shonda is business, man.

7.) Please read this author's description of her great grandfather's atrocities, and her family's way of coming to terms with it. I gotta say, I wish Americans would read this.

8.) The hierarchy of a Nigerian wedding. Yup, you guessed right: the single woman is a the bottom of the totem.

9.) Her son's death at 23 gave her a crazy gift, and I think it might give you too.