Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Delay Is Not Denial

It caught my attention on my way to work. That morning, I was deeply in thought about my sister, Abebi’s visa denial and how much my siblings and I have put into seeing her go to university abroad and the shock of the response to her application-Denied! I was sad and confused. I had no clue as to what to do next as she didn’t apply for JAMB.

I felt a nudge and I looked up. Nothing spectacular was going on. I was about looking away and pondering on the situation at hand when I saw the truck.’ Inscribed on it was “Delay is not a denial!” Initially, I thought, “what nonsense!” Then it was clear. The Holy Spirit has given me a message here. I looked at the truck as it snaked away and I felt a new hope. My faith was renewed. I felt rejuvenated and light hearted. I quickly sent an email to my siblings informing them of my experience. We were energised and set out to sort out the problems. A week later she was given the visa.

This happened some years back. As I thought of what to write as the year draws to an end, I saw the jotter where I wrote this encounter and I felt this is just apt to round up the year. Often time, we have expectations, want or needs that we take to God in prayers. However, for whatever reason, we do not receive from God at the time, we probably believe that God is wicked, unforgiving, selfish etc. Sometimes, we become sad, almost giving up hope.

The first assurance is that God is loving. He loves us so much that He will not give us what will harm us. Again, we may not be ripe emotionally, spiritually or matured enough to receive whatever it is without getting carried away. Above all, God wants His name to be glorified in all our situations and so, sometimes the delay. When we are over dependent on our strength, intellect, capabilities, friends, families or connections, we may also suffer from delays.

Are there things you have asked God for this year and haven’t been met, be assured that whatever it is, it’s not a denial but just a delay. At His time, God will make all things beautiful. One thing I am sure of is that God will all always be faithful to His words.

Happy 2012! Shalom

Friday, 23 December 2011


I came back from my meeting feeling very frustrated and stressed. It was a four hour meeting and by all ramifications successful and promising but for whatever reason I was irritable and I could not understand what made me so. My carpenter decided to upset me the more by not repairing the broken down bed and I was expecting visitors. I was so upset with his “I can’t be bothered gesture” when I finally got through to him on phone. I was so angry that I almost choked on saliva while screaming down the phone at him. I was livid and confused as to what to do considering that my guests were arriving in less that the next morning. This was 6pm and I wonder where I could get another carpenter at that hour. I had being pondering on this and wondering how all the money I withdrew from my account that morning, developed wings. I tried to renegotiate with my cab driver to see what discount I could get off him but he became almost insulting. I was surprised because this man had an accommodating spirit and I could not fathom where the aggression came from. I stood there my mouth agape while he continued in his unusual outburst. I quickly gave him what I had while wondering why I deserved such an insult. He collected his money and told me I wouldn’t understand the amount of pressure he was under. I apologised to him because I tried to put myself in his position but I just couldn’t as I had paid him 15k within two days. I felt he should be appreciative but he made me understand he could have earned far more if he had taken some other client out. I looked at him as he drove off and I shook my head wondering what I would do to overcome my phobia for driving. The cost of transportation was eating too deep into my income that I sometimes feel-unjustified, maybe,  that I was working for my cab driver  

I slowly climbed the staircase to my apartment, sat on the sofa  angry,  confused and upset. I picked my phone to call just one person I would call whenever I feel as if the world was crashing on my head. Sometimes, just hearing his voice is like a soothing balm to my wounded spirit.

“hello” I said
“hello Ose, I can’t talk now but I will call you back” he said

This further threw me into despondence. Why are people never available when you want to talk? I thought to myself. I threw my phone on the sofa, curled on the sofa indulging in self-pity. I was too sad to call my security to switch on the generator. I laid there with all sorts of thought running through my head. I felt like that song “I have got cookies running around my head” I couldn’t just get myself to unwind. Then my phone rang. I looked at it grumbling to myself that I was in no mood to talk to anyone. But it was my soul mate so I picked the call

“Hi” I said
“What’s wrong? You sound down. This is Christmas the season of celebration.” My soul mate said
“That’s just the problem. I am not in any mood for celebration. I am tired, frustrated and stressed out” I complained
“Ha! My friend, you have what is called Holiday blues. You will be okay. Don’t worry.”  He assured me
Holiday blues?” I asked. I have heard the terminology before but I thought it was something that applied to those living abroad. I never thought I could experience such. I decided to check what holiday blues is all about and what the symptoms are. These are
·  Depressed mood
·  Decreased interest in life activities normally enjoyed such as social gatherings, shopping, cooking, hobbies
·  Feeling overwhelmed
·  Irritability
·  Fatigue, feeling drained physically and emotionally
·  Sleep or appetite disturbances
·  Anxiety, feeling nervous, edgy or "keyed up"
·  Excessive guilt

I looked at the symptoms and I knew my soul mate was right. I have always wondered why there is  so much pressure for just a day’s celebration. I can’t understand why prices will go up three times the normal rate because it is Christmas. While people would want to seize the opportunity of the season to defraud and take advantage of others just to make extra money for Christmas. There is always so much pressure just for a day’s celebration.  I just can’t get it. What are we celebrating really? What is the reason for the season? Haven’t we shifted our focus from the real reason?

Sunday, 27 November 2011

What's it about marriage sef?

Let me say that marriage is honourable and beautiful when the right ingredients are in place and properly mixed to make it work. However, I don’t believe that marriage is a do or die affair as most people would want to take it. Some people go to any extreme to make sure that they get married forgetting that marriage is a journey that one needs to embark on carefully. It requires its own form of education, planning and preparation. It requires a whole lot of compromising, perseverance and maturity. As it is often said, it is a university that you are awarded the degree before embarking on its training.

Yet, it is a beautiful experience. Marriage is like being in a well kept garden; a lot of efforts and hardwork is put into it to make it beautiful. It is a well kept garden yet it is filled with rocky paths and valleys that require its own special training on how to tread. It becomes successful when you embark on the journey with the right person. It is not a journey you go with the next available person.

A lot of people have made the mistake of embarking on this journey with the available person therefore, making a well kept garden become an abandoned one overgrown with weeds and thistles. What   baffles me is that despite the issues associated with the failures in marriage, a lot of people still commit exactly the same errors those that went into it blind did. I thought the Yorubas say that the person who falls into a deep pit teaches other passerby to tread carefully. I have since found out that this is not the case when it comes to marriage. If this is not the case, how come there are many bad marriages out there. I have heard a lot of mind boggling stories about some marriages but nothing beats the story I heard about my once upon a time friend and her husband.

I said once upon because our friendship became strained because I had advised her at the time to think carefully about the guy before committing herself. Despite all appeal, she went ahead and got married to the man. I had never seen a more downcast and unhappy bride in my life. She was so unhappy that we kept on reminding her to smile on her wedding day. Soon after, they settled into the marriage. I lost touch with her for a while until I ran into her at a wedding. Initially, I was excited to see her. We hugged and soon got down to the business of catching up. She asked about my marriage and I regretfully told her that I was single again. She heaved a huge sigh and I braced myself for some preaching since that was the norm with people. But she kept quiet for a while and then she touched my hand. “Ose,” she said, “you are very brave”. I was stunned since that was not what I expected. “I am burning in hell” she continued. I looked at her carefully and I realised that she has aged though her carefully made up face hid some of the strain and tension. I held her hand and whispered “It is well!” “No, it is not well. I have deceived myself for too long. I have made too many excuses but I know now that it can’t be well” she blurted out. I kept quiet as I was short of words. Moreover, I have learnt from experience to keep quiet at moments like this since there is peace in the silence. We were like this for a while. I held her hand trying to assist her to draw out some strength from mine. “Ose, he brought a prostitute home and slept with her on our matrimonial bed” she said quietly. I opened my mouth to talk but left it hanging out of shock. “He didn’t have money to pay her and the girl started making trouble. The children were home and they fought right there in the presence of my children.” She said with her head bent. She was so embarrassed that she could not look at me. The whole story as I could link it up with the disjointed way she narrated her ordeal was; she had gone out without the children and her husband seized the opportunity to bring home a prostitute. She would not have known anything about it except that he had no money to pay the girl for the service rendered and since prostitutes do not provide service on credit, an argument ensued with the girl holding tight to the trouser of my friend’s husband. It was at that point that she came back home. Wondering what could have happened, she asked her husband what the problem was and when he refused to answer, the prostitute proceeded to tell her about the service she just rendered in which she demanded full payment for. My friend felt so humiliated that she had to pay the girl.   

I sat there not knowing what to say to her. Finally, I asked her what she intended doing and she said she had moved out of the bedroom and she would never allow him to touch her again. I looked at her with my eye balls struggling not to pop out of its sockets. I wanted to tell her if she had some pathological hatred for herself that she had to subject herself to such humiliating circumstances. I am sure the look on my face said it all because she said “I can’t leave him”. “Why not?” I asked flabbergasted “Because of the children”  she said. “The children?” Do you think that’s a healthy environment for your children to live?” I asked. “I am a Christian and God hates divorce” she replied defensively. I held my peace at that moment.  I know that God hates divorce and it is not an experience I wish on my enemy but I equally know the only ground for divorce in the Bible is adultery.

I ask, are there deeper reasons why a woman will not want to leave a bad marriage? Is it because of societal stigmatisation or because woman just lack the will power to do so? Or are women masochist?   

Saturday, 19 November 2011

You Can Be Who You Want To Be

There were these two guys who were my mates in the University-Lanre and Yemi. Yemi was my course mate while Lanre was in the English department though in the same Faculty of Arts. Lanre and Yemi shared something in common. They were both blind. But this was where it ends. While, Lanre was very out going and very friendly, Yemi sort of kept to himself. Lanre was often seen in the company of the most beautiful girls on campus. Girls and boys alike were easily drawn to him and often offered to assist him in getting around on campus but Lanre would not hear of it. He would politely turn down anybody who offered such assistance. Lanre was gregarious and so almost everybody who came in contact with him, liked him. He could also not forget a voice and would recollect your name even if he only spoke with you once. He would often call everyone by their names and crack jokes as he used his cane as his guide refusing anybody to help him. What struck me about Lanre back then was his positive attitude. He often laughed at himself.

Yemi on the other hand, was often withdrawn and he kept to himself a lot. He often cut classes and I remember him complaining about his inability to get his Braille or the inability to transcribe what we were taught in class into Braille language. After a while, he stopped coming to class and his excuse was that he had nobody to lead him to class which I felt it was absurd.

I was not close to either of them but I had friends who were quiet friendly with Lanre and so I was able to observe him closely. Actually, both of them made impressions on me. Lanre, was always seen around the faculty. I am sure he never missed a class but Yemi sadly so, dropped out of school after our first year and we never heard of him again.  Twenty-six years after, Lanre is now a lawyer. He graduated and went back to study Law.  

I am sure both Lanre and Yemi had their challenges back then. While Lanre forged ahead, Yemi decided to give up. Discussing about both men with a friend recently convinced me that we can be who we want to be. We can either face the challenges head on or give up without trying. I read a book once titled “Tough Time Don’t last but Tough People Last” by Robert Schuller, the book encouraged people to hang on no matter what a person maybe going through. He believes that it is only those that are tough that will last but every situation-no matter how tough would change. That book, I read a while ago but the content stuck with me.

As human beings, we are bound to face challenges that may appear in surmountable but our reactions and attitude to these challenges will determine where we will end. We can be who we want to be if we have the right or positive attitude to the situations. We may decide to have a pity party and invite hopelessness, worry, complains, anger, sadness and other vices as our companion to such a party because it is so easy to wallow in self pity. We may decide to become emotional and blame everybody and everyone for the challenges being faced. Blame the government, our parents, family, friends and even God for allowing this sort of calamity to befall us. Blame everybody except the person that is to get the blame. After all, nobody understands how it feels. Anyway, nobody loves me so how can they understand what I am going through.  Instead of looking for the way to confront the issues and think of other options or alternative way out, we sink deeply in self-pity enjoying the pity party while acting helpless

Being who we want to be require us to be focused and positive. We need to know that good things may not necessarily come easy. We need to be tough to confront the challenges of life because life does not get better by any chance but by the changes we make.   Too often, we focus on what is not instead of what could be. I believe we should live what we cannot control to God and concentrate on those things we have control over.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Midlife Crisis Or Time For Change

We may go through midlife crisis at one time of our lives. These crises normally occur when approaching 40years or in the mid 40s. Some of the symptoms of midlife crises as highlighted in some of the searches I did on the web indicated the following:
  •  No longer knowing the person staring at you in the mirror
  • Worrying about where your life is going
  • Feeling frustrated with just about everything
  • Experiencing feelings of regret
  • Focussing on what you are losing
  • Feeling almost invisible
  • Thinking the time is running out
  • Questioning the meaning of life
  • Feeling trapped
  •  Wanting to make some changes and not knowing where to start
But I often wonder if the symptoms highlighted above are actually a midlife crises situation or just a time for a desperate change. I recall, when in my 30s I felt all these symptoms and some more so I made some drastic changes in my life. I had being unhappy with both my work and my marriage and I took a decision to make some changes. I left my work not really knowing what I wanted to do and then I had to walk out of marriage because I felt I needed to be happy-something I wasn’t experiencing. I reviewed my life and I knew that it was time to do something about the situation I was being faced with. I didn’t know what I wanted but I sure knew what I didn’t want. Friends and families tried dissuading me believing that I had lost my mind. “How could you walk out of your job after investing eleven years of your life?” This was the question I was bombarded with. “Whatever the case, play the office politics and it will be well with you.” This was the advised I was given by well meaning friends. However, apart from not being happy working at the place any longer, I had reached a point of burnt out and I just needed a change. I also wanted to invest time in my marriage- thought I could make things work out but I soon realised that the marriage was already dead and there was nothing to work on again. Both parties were no longer keen in seeing it work. I was no longer interested in pretences. But people thought I was mad. Some felt I was going through a major premenopausal syndrome but I just wanted to be happy and be fulfilled something I wasn’t getting.  I had gone through a lot of challenges in my life and at that point, I felt I deserved to be happy. So I effected the changes and I am happier for it.

Today, I celebrate my  birthday and as it is usually the case with me, I spend time reviewing my life than celebrating the day though I love birthdays but I believe I should spend time to think of how far and well I have faired in my life. Assessing the past seven years of my life; especially the last one year, I realised I am due for another change.  Maybe, I am going through another stage of midlife crises, but nothing as drastic as I did in my 30s. I lost a dear uncle and my cousin in quick succession and these incidents have got me thinking again. I have asked myself often after these two incidents, what is it about life that we tend to hang on too tenaciously. No one knows when death will come calling so why don’t we just live life to its fullest and live each day as if it is the last? A lot of us worry so much about what we have no control over.  We place premium on material things and have ignored to spend time with our loved ones. Selfishness and self centeredness has become the order of the day. No wonder the family system is collapsing and fast too.

As I celebrate my birthday, I have made the decision to live my life a day at a time as if it is the last for me. Going forward, I am handing everything over to God. I love the freedom of the bird. They can fly anywhere and everywhere without worrying. I have decided to be like the bird. I will spread my wings and fly. I will fly without inhibitions and fears. I will fly to accomplish the best and attain the greatest height I can reach. There are things I have planned to do and for whatever reason, I have not been able to achieve these things. I am going to spend quality time striving to achieve these things. I will try to be more patient and tolerant in my dealings with people. Finally, I will love as I have never loved before. I have guided my heart jealously over the years not wanting to take the risk of being hurt but from now on I am going to let go and love as I never did. I will worry less about being taking for granted, enjoy my relationship with my loved ones and above all improve my relationship with my creator. So help me God.

So I begin to fly...
Tweeting of the Bird

If I have a wing like a dove
I will fly, fly away….
So the song goes
But I don’t have to have wings like a dove
I can develop my wings
And fly away without fears
I can fly and be who I want to be
I can fly with the freedom of a bird
Carefree, no worries, no fears
I can fly over the mountains and the hills
I can spread my wings
As wide as I want it to be
I can fly alone with the peace that comes with solitude
Or with companions and enjoy the joy of being with others
I can build my nests wherever I want to
Or perch on the window pane
Chirping love songs to my loved ones
Tweeting to the beautiful day
The day the Lord has created
I can love as I never loved before
Free of fears and inhibitions
Giving all to the one who deserves it

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Storytelling: The Art of Teaching Values and Morality

Sitting under the moonlight with the starts gazing down at us, we sat with our legs stretched out while my auntie sat on the kitchen stool. “Alo o!” she said. “Alo o!” we responded. This signified the beginning of the storytelling session for that night. The theme of her stories was based on the tortoise and its pranks and foolishness. The other characters were the tortoise’s wife-Yanibo, the hare, and the dog. These stories were told to educate us about moral issues and the right values. My auntie would often ask us about the lessons learnt after telling us  this story. One after the other we would raise our hands to tell her about the moral of the story.

After each story told, we would often beg for more. My auntie, obviously tired from the stress of the day would agree. Sometimes, if she was very exhausted, she would ask one of us to tell a story. Because we wanted to outshine each other, we would fabricate our story line sometimes going on and on and not knowing when to end, trying to show off our dexterity in creating story lines and wanting to outdo each other. This act of coming up with our own stories assisted us in developing our creativity and unknowingly, making us an aspiring master storyteller.     

Soon, the younger children fell asleep while the much older children started to doze off though we would quickly deny feeling sleepy if we were asked to go to bed, wanting to prolong the storytelling session. Before we knew it, nature would take its course and we would no longer be able to fight sleep, bowing to it under the soothing voice of my auntie.

The storytelling sessions taught us about values and how to live right in the society. The emphasis on the stories was about morality and the consequences of not doing the right thing.  Though largely as a child, it was our own form of entertainment because stories were often accompanied by songs which we chorused and sometimes danced to but it was also an opportunity to ignite our creative juice.  Again, it afforded families to bond and some of the sessions were used to address certain moral issues that might have affected the family. This was the traditional ways of entertaining while also educating the children. Some of these stories have lived with me. Some of the stories I remember very well. One of such is the story of the tortoise’s visit to his in-law.

Once upon a time, the tortoise decided to pay his in-laws a visit. He got to the in-laws’ house while she was a preparing dinner. She had a pot of yam porridge on fire and she invited tortoise to stay and have dinner with the family. Tortoise declined claiming not to be hungry while his mouth watered at the aroma of the food on fire. The in-law went to the backyard to get more firewood. Tortoise could not resist the smell of the food. He opened the cover of the pot to see what was being cooked. He quickly covered it and moved away from it. He muttered to himself wondering why he declined the invitation to dinner. He walked back to where the food was being cooked. He stooped short contemplating what he should do. His stomach rumbled. “Let me just taste the food” he said to himself. He opened the pot cover again, smelled the food and took the kitchen spoon to scoop just a bit so as to taste it and satisfy his curiosity if the food tasted as good as it smelt. He dipped his hand inside the pot and then heard footsteps approaching. “Ha! I can’t afford to be caught”. He mumbled to himself. He quickly scooped some of the hot yam porridge and put it in his cap. Hurriedly, he wore the cap and covered the pot and moved away from the cooking pot. He acted as normal as he could though his scalp was burning up.

“Ha! My in-law. I am sorry it took me a while. I was looking for something to send to my sister.” Tortoise’s in-law said as she walked back into the kitchen.

“That’s ok” tortoise replied. “I have to go now” He said shifting from one leg to the other. He had become uncomfortable and his face had turned red. “I just have to go really” Tortoise insisted.

“My in-law, are you ok? You are burning up” the in-law said while feeling his body.

“I am ok really.” Tortoise replied, moving away from his in-law. ”I am sure I am only reacting to something in the air” he said trying to convince his in–law.

He walked out of the in-law’s compound and at a decent distance; he started running because he could not bare the burning sensation of the yam porridge he stole. He saw a river and he quickly jumped into it. He removed his cap and the hair on his head had fallen off and that’s why tortoise is bald till today.   

Storytelling made it easy for parents to train their children without being too boring. Learning from whatever happened to the characters of the folk stories prepared us for how to conduct ourselves in the larger society. Unfortunately, like most of the tradition that was prevalent when I was growing, the culture of storytelling is almost dead not with the advent of telecommunication and technology.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Ose @ the verandah: Marriage or Wedding?

Ose @ the verandah: Marriage or Wedding?

Marriage or Wedding?

As I read my friend, Adura’s blog, I couldn’t help but smile. She wrote on an issue that has being on my mind for a while. I had debated within myself if I should write anything in this regard but reading Adura’s blog kind of assisted me to make up my mind. I smiled when I read her question on the obsession with being married. My first impression was that probably she has forgotten what it is to be an African or a Nigerian.

Historically, a woman is not respected in Nigeria except she is married. In the sixties, a girl is considered an old maid if she was not married by her early twenties. Though, there is a little bit of change when it comes to marriageable age probably due to education however, a girl is expected to get married after her first degree or at least be engaged. Anything short of this, would attract family meetings and people openly asking you when you would tie the knot. A wedding ceremony especially of siblings or friends would attract greetings in forms of prayer like ti e na a de o (yours will soon come) a be e se ti e na o laipe lai jina (we would join you in celebrating yours too, very soon) of course, you are expected to genuflect say an amen and also thank whoever for putting you under pressure. The pressure is everywhere you turn to not only at weddings; but also at naming ceremonies, birthdays, Christmas and New Year celebrations etc. Soon, the issue becomes a prayer point with everybody close saying a word of prayer concerning your singleness.  After a while you can’t help but be obsessed about it because everyone is anyway. It takes the grace of God and strong heart to survive this.

A woman is almost treated like someone who has an incurable disease from her family and the society at large. It is difficult even in a cosmopolitan city like Lagos, for a single woman to rent an accommodation though she has her money. In most instances, she has to front a man as her husband if she needs accommodation. In religious settings, special programmes are organised for singles in order to get hooked.  On and on it goes each day, the single woman sees herself more like a victim than a victor. If all these are not enough to make anyone obsessed then what will?

Despite all, I think this is not just a Nigerian phenomenon but I believe that generally, at one point or the other, the biological clock starts ticking and the eagerness to obey the clock kicks in. Nevertheless, as I always ask my younger friends Is it marriage or the wedding? For the wedding is very easy, after all, it is just the celebration where we take aso ebi, call the local musicians, the alaga ijoko and the alaga iduro all the works for both the traditional and the church wedding but that’s where it ends. After all the celebrations, the journey starts. Most people don’t even understand what it takes to be married neither are they emotionally and spiritually prepared to marry. I have heard young girls giving deadlines as to when they want to get married without knowing or identifying what they want in a marriage. I asked a young friend of mine once, marriage or wedding? She could not give me an answer but only said, “I just want to marry before I am 30 years” As if that would bring an end to all her problems. I felt rather sad for her because I can see her towing the same path many took which led to failure. The truth is there is nothing wrong in being single. I read a book by Dr. Myles Munroe - Single. Married. Separated and Life After Divorce which further reiterated this. According to him, enjoy being single before getting married. Being single is not an illness that needs marriage to cure. Marriage on its own has its challenges and there is a need to be ready for these challenges to actually make a success out of it. Marriage is not going to complete you but you have to be complete before you enter a marriage. If not you are on the way to a broken home and heart. Moreover, I have seen a lot of married women who are not happy. Some try to hide it but for some they don’t even bother again because the burden of the choice they made is heavy, too heavy for them to carry. Don’t be fooled my sister. Marriage is not the ultimate problem solver.  

Monday, 3 October 2011

The Parable of The Bitter Leaf and Walnut

In Nigeria, there is a lot of emphasis on analogy. This is often used to drive home a point without having to speak too much. This quickly cut to the chase of whatever the issue being discussed at this point. Sometimes, it provides solution to knotty issue; sometime it may provide succour to a depressed situation. Unfortunately, in the modern Nigeria, this style of speech is gradually fading away. The similarity of the Bitter leaf and the Walnut is just to the point of its sweetness. While, the bitter leaf is only sweet after it has been eating, the walnut is sweet even while it is being eaten. However, when water is drunk after eating the bitter leaf, it brings forth its sweetness but the walnut becomes extremely bitter if water is drunk immediately after eating it.  There is a saying attached to the peculiarity of the bitter leaf which is; aadun lo gbeyin ewuro-there is sweetness after eating bitter leaf (direct translation). This is often said to someone who is going through a tough time just to encourage and give hope. But I have never heard any saying about the bitterness of the walnut after it has being eating.

I have always wondered why walnut tastes bitter when one drinks water after eating it. I enjoy eating the walnut and consciously remember not to drink water immediately after eating it. As for bitter leaf, I avoided it like plague simply because of the bitterness. I could not understand why anybody would subject themselves to eating the bitter leaf even though it is a delicacy in the eastern part of Nigeria. I did not want a part of it. The name was enough to put the fear of God in me. I watched my mother eating it raw and I felt there must be something wrong somewhere with her. Then, my friend told me of the health benefit of eating the bitter leaf. The first day I ate it, I felt like throwing up, then I drank water and it tasted so sweet.   

My analogy of Bitter Leaf and the Walnut came up from the write-up I read on Facebook. A friend compared University of Marriage to that of the Bitter Leaf soup. Though the writer used the medium for celebrating his wife but I wondered if truly Bitter leaf can be likened to marriage. I think it depends on each person’s view about marriage. How many truly likened marriages to Bitter leaf before contracting it? A brother compared marriage to a night market where you go shopping without knowing what you are buying because it is dark.  I tend to see marriage like the walnut you eat and consciously remember not to drink water so that it does not get bitter.

For most people, the courtship stage of marriage is often the sweetest. As couples, we treat each other with upmost respect and we are at our best behaviour. At that point, we have special songs, special spots and even private jokes. We talk for a long time without being conscious of time. We are each others best friends. We dress to suit our partner. We are like the peacock and just want to show off our beautiful feathers. We are not ashamed of our partner neither are we ashamed to express our love. We do those little things that bring a secret smile to our face at our solitary moments. When we are together, we appreciate the companionship, friendship and the period of occasional silence without feeling inadequate. Then we marry and things change. As much as I appreciate the responsibilities that come with marriage but all of a sudden we forget. We forget that to retain the sweetness of the walnut, we should not drink water but we do. We drink water and everything changes. We are no longer partners in building the marriage though appreciating our individual roles. We become resentful of each other. What brought us together now separates us. At the initial stage, we try to do it right but we soon give up because it is probably easier to give up. Wait a minute! We don’t have to impress any longer after all we have conquered. Yet, we should show off our spoil of war shouldn’t we?  We go about with a permanent scowl on our faces. We no longer have any reason to smile to that secret jokes. We live together probably share a bed but emotionally and spiritually, we are apart. We have taken to praying fervently for a way out. Yet there is no easy way out and that’s where the analogy of the bitter leaf may come in.

In experiencing the bitter leaf in our marriage, we may have to drink water to bring back the sweetness. We may have to go back to what we used to do in those days when our hearts somersault at the voice of our loved ones. When our heart skip a beat when we hear the approaching footsteps of the one we love. Oh! when we break out in sweats and jitters not in fear but in anticipation of what may take place later in the night. When we do not take things for granted but show off our beloved as the peacock shows off its feathers.  At that point we would experience the joy of eating the bitter leaf

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Dare to Dream

Dare to dream
Let your wings fly
Reach out to the sky
Touch the whole world
Broaden your horizon
Dare to change the world

Dare to dream
Dream about the impossible
To achieve the impossible
Let down your hair
Forget the challenges
The problems that hold you down

Dare to dream
Set things in motion
Make things happen
Hope for the best
Live your fantasies
Effect changes in the world
Dare to dream

Have you forgotten what it is to have fantasies? To let your thoughts run wild and uncontrollable? Have you forgotten how to conquer the world even in your dreams? As a child, we dreamt big, wild and wide. Some dreamt to be a superstar, some dreamt to change the world. Some wanted to be millionaires, some teachers so as to impact knowledge and modify attitudes. So great and large were our dreams that we said it with pride once we were asked “what do you want to become in life?” We never hesitated to mention our dreams and proudly too with chin raised high and our hand to our chest we answer “I want to be a doctor” emphatically. Then we grow up and everything changes. How many of us have actually lived our dreams? If you have lived your dream, luckily you but most people have forgotten about those dreams and have started coasting through life and the challenges it brings

We have all become used to not living our dreams that we declare our children’s dream as being childish instead of helping them to nurture theirs or sometimes, we want to live our dreams through our children thereby, preventing them from living theirs. However, it is never too late to dream if we would only dare to do so. My brother once told me about a lady he met at a party who could not stop talking about her native Australia. She says she used to play tennis really well as a young lady and her dream at the time was to play at the highest level at Wimbledon. But then she took ill and that was it, she never fulfilled that dream. Now she is forty, with two boys and it has become unlikely for that dream to ever come to pass. She however jokingly told them how she plans to bring her dream to pass, she said that she plans to rent a court at Wimbledon and play with someone. Their host suggested that she can rent a crowd as well, give them free drinks and they will happily cheer her along as she plays. He then added that if she did all that, it was likely that Sky News will cover the event and her dream would have come true. They all had a good laugh!

His story reminded me of a particular time in my life when I almost gave up all dreams. I had faced a lot of challenges and set backs. It was a huge burden for me at this time-broken relationship, poor health, loss of job, business failure etc. It was like every attempt to move on was being blocked and I was disillusioned. I was afraid to move on and worst still I was afraid to dream. But I realised later on that my failing to dream was bowing to the challenges I was being faced with. I decided to raise my head and despite all odds dare to dream.  My experienced taught me that not being able to dream again shows lack of confidence and self esteem. If we do not dare to dream again, we would lack the zeal and passion to break into a new horizon; there would be no desire to achieve great exploits. This means we have nothing to aspire too any longer and we would be like a ship without a rudder. 

People that have attained greatness had encountered some form of challenges in their pursuit of greatness. I am sure their dream to succeed was the propelling force that made them to keep at it before achieving greatness. Today, they are known for their achievements. Read the story of Sir Richard Branson in “Losing my Virginity” There will always be challenges but no matter what you go through never stop dreaming. Your dream gives you positivity, a spring to your feet and a reason to smile. The size of your dream does not matter. Just dare to dream!

Monday, 12 September 2011

Be Positive

I have a cousin who has being ill for a while now. It has being one thing after the other for the last ten years  and each time there is a problem, she appeared stronger and more positive than the previous challenge, ready to confront whatever it is. I went to visit her at the hospital sometime ago where she was undergoing chemotherapy and I marvelled at her bravery. It was obvious she was going through a lot of pain but she still had a smile on her face despite her discomfort. I sat with her while she took her treatment. We talked about this and that and left more inspired and positive than I was before the visit. Despite her challenges, she had a positive word for everyone who came to visit her.

"Where did she get her strength from?" I pondered as I walked out of her hospital room. "How come she is so optimistic despite her somehow ever present challenges?" These were my thought as I left her. I realised that everything has to do with her attitude. Because she has a positive attitude she was able to forge on

At some point in our lives, we would face adversity. The way we handle our challenges will determine how we would find solutions to whatever confronts us. Having a pity party is very easy and rather attractive. Also, getting up and facing the challenges with courage and a lot of positivity can be daunting.  We have to be optimistic. Optimism comes from the Latin word optimus, meaning "best," which describes how an optimistic person is always looking for the best in any situation and expecting good things to happen. Optimism is the tendency to believe, expect or hope that things will turn out well. Even if something bad happens, like the loss of a job, an optimist sees the silver lining and also the light at the end of the tunnel

How can we be positive despite the daily challenges we are confronted with? The first thing to do for me, is to realise that you are  the only one who can make yourself happy. No one can achieve this for you. You are simply responsible for your happiness. As an optimist, you expect good things to happen to you. You don’t blame yourself when bad things happen neither do you blame others for whatever happens but you look at the situation holistically and proffer solutions or way out of the problem without indulging in pity party.

Be thankful to God for all your blessings because whatever it is, it could be worst. Having a sense of gratitude actually makes you see things in a clearer picture and realise that it is not as bad as it appears. Do not complain and moan. Remember, there is always light at the end of the tunnel and your challenges are not perculiar to you.

Be confident that there would be other opportunities because there is abundance of opportunities in the world for everyone to succeed. Moreover, there is nothing to hold you back from succeeding unless if you have the wrong attitude and approach to confronting issues.

I wrote this poem sometime ago when I was faced with some challenges. I was so overwhelmed that I felt the whole world was crashing on my head.Then I realised I had to confront issues. I wrote this poem titled "Take Every Step" to encourage myself  and I hope it would serve that purpose for someone too

I take every step gingerly
Like the careful step of an old woman
With dry and brittle bones
I take every step though difficult
I must forge ahead

I take every step
Bent and beaten by the issues of life
Head raised high, refused to be defeated
Like a man in command
I take every step

Trying not to look back
I must keep on moving
Irrespective of what life
Throws my way

PS Thanks so much for your comments so far. I really do appreciate everything.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

What is it about compliments?

I trained some teenagers on team building skills during the long vacation. Part of the games played was to write something good and complimentary about their colleagues in the class. The students initially were reluctant to do so largely because they felt they didn’t like everybody in the class. In fact, there was a particular girl they had planned for because according to them, she was a bully and very proud. I however, insisted that they must think deep and write something complimentary about everybody. After this little exercise, I asked them to pick their papers and read what was written about them. We later discussed how it felt being complimented and having to compliment someone. Some said it felt good to read the good stuff about them and they were able to see something nice about other people too. Of course, some said they felt strange doing the exercise and reading all the nice things written about them. However, the most important thing was that the majority felt good and were going to keep what their colleagues wrote about them.

A word of compliments boosts confidence and elicits cooperation from whoever we give it.   No one is hundred percent bad or good but we should, whenever we  see something good about someone  highlight such good points. A simple good morning brings a smile to the face of whoever we say it to and a thank you shows that we are appreciative of the person who just served us. A smile brings a sense of camaraderie even if the smile is to a total stranger. There is something warm about a total stranger greeting and smiling at you. Smiling also makes us more approachable and removes the rough edges.

Being very generous with compliments shows that you have a positive and high self esteem. This also affects how people relate to you as a person. Generally people are drawn to you and want to have a relationship with you. Be respectful and courteous to people not because there is something you want from them but because that’s who you are as a person. Of course avoid being fake and insincere about your compliments because the recipient will always know if you are being insincere and this raises suspicion and could undermine a relationship.

The most memorable compliments are those that are specific and not vague. It shows that you are paying attention and actually notice the person. Compliments are like little gifts of love. They are neither asked for nor demanded. It tells the recipient that he is worthy of notice.  How the compliment is received validates the donor. Unfortunately, most people like my students feel uncomfortable when they are being complimented. Given a negative response to a compliment deflates a donor. The best way to receive a compliment is to graciously smile and say thank you without having to explain it away.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Turbulence of Love

Hi, this is Ose. This is my blog. I am going to write about anything that catches my fancy here. A bit of politics, socials, love, parenting and everything that affects our daily lives. I am taking a look at the world as it goes round sitting at my verandah in Lagos. I will review happenings in the world the way I understand it but will love your comments and views about issues that I may bring up. I will try to be very light in my writing because I think I can be a bit   too serious.

I am starting this by sharing this poem with you. It is titled Turbulence of love

We sang the songs of sorrow
And danced to the mournful tune
Where did the promise go
To hold and to keep
Life is but a motion
Since you left without a word

I gave you my heart in worship
You threw it back in pieces
I gave you my love freely
You accepted it without passion
Now the reality is obvious
The past was placed on the altar of worship

I am caught in the turbulence of love
The pang of pain is potent
My heart is trapped in the sham of love
Mourning the phoney of love
I am like a ship without a rudder
Sinking in the turbulence of love