Archive for the ‘31Days31Writers’ Category

The end of 2015. The end of the #31Days31Writers series.

I’m here. I’m still here. In April God delivered my family from a great evil, I was very ill at different times; on the 18th of October I was aboard a flight so turbulent I was walking ‘towards the light’ in my head, yet I’m here. I’m still here. God is merciful.

You know, if for some reason that’s all I could write, it would be more than enough. There’s more though.

My father was consecrated Bishop this year – was the first time ever I saw him cry. Like really cry. He fought tears at my sister’s wedding in 2010, maybe a few tears slipped through, but August 8th? Dang. I’m so proud of him and grateful to God for this lifting and fulfilment of prophecy that looked like we wouldn’t see it.

TechHer was born this year too, my pride and joy, and gift from God. From a ‘how do I plug this hole’ moment of frustration, to a community of women passionate/curious about technology in its hundreds, and growing too!

My sister passed an international exam this year, and I remember the joy, the tears, the celebration. So proud of you Mama na, we all are! You are a gem, and I love you, fiercely. Big hug to you and your amazing husband for housing me this year. My family is everything, and I’m grateful for them everyday.

What else? This was the year of leaning on, and getting leaned on. Brethren, pray for friends who can ‘cover your shame’, who are not just there when it’s time to ‘turn up’. More important, pray that you are the person the people you call friends can come to and find peace, quiet, a word of encouragement, action that leads to a solution, you get the point. Wunmi, my best friend, is a blessing; she’s my gift from God. Francesca saw through my bullshit one afternoon when I wouldn’t stop saying I was fine, yet I was crumbling under a feeling of inadequacy I can only trace to the pit of hell now that I think of it. My personal chekeleke!

Here’s a big hug to The Committee, friends who have become family in more ways than one. You guys rock!

This was the year I took a decision about my weight, and though I’m still on a journey to the numbers I want to see, I love where I am! I feel incredible too!

Also, I cut my hair! Not the ‘big chop’, big scrape, for simple reasons that included the unbearable heat, and me wanting to see what my head looked like! Love it, love it, love it! Looking forward to experimenting with it a lot in the New Year.

I hired staff this year, and I’m excited that 7 months on, I see growth that makes me proud. Thank you guys!the

What would I undo this year? Nothing. Maybe make more practical financial plans and not believe that people will fulfil their obligations (read as pay their bloody debts) so it doesn’t skew my programmes, but I wouldn’t change a thing.

I learned a few things too:

  1. God loves me. Even in my most unfaithful, most unlovable moments, He loves me. And He shows it.
  2. I wear my heart on my sleeve. I heard that like a million times this year (SMH at everyone who told me :))
  3. Human beings are inherently selfish. A complete understanding of this (and I’m still learning) helped me get through the year.
  4. It’s ok to stop (shut down, turn off, whatever you want to call it) and breathe sometimes. I learned the importance of stopping to rest as my body (and mind) demanded it.
  5. Everyone needs a nephew! I cannot explain this, just go and ask your siblings to ‘bring’ you one! My nephew is my numero uno (next to God jor, walk away)
  6. Read! I didn’t read all I planned to, but I read this year, and I believe I’m better for it.
  7. It’s okay if things don’t work out, even after you’ve done everything you were supposed to do, prayed, worked hard, etc. It’s okay, really.

I had a good year. This was one of my busiest travel-wise, and each time a plane I was in took off, it landed. Not taking that for granted at all. I have this blog, and all you wonderful people who read and like and share and comment – thank you. To everyone who contributed to the #31Days31Writers series, you’re awesome! To those who said they’d send in an entry and didn’t/couldn’t, there’s next time.

Here’s to a big 2016, enlargement on every side (not my girth though, God no), advancement, and God’s great blessings.

Look at that beautiful head...

Look at that beautiful head…

Nigerian Blogger

Happy New Year folks! Mwah!

 

This particular person? I don’t remember how we met. Like I tried to search my brain this morning, no luck. But, she’s one of God’s greatest gifts to me. Francesca is the angel God sent from heaven to save me from myself, yank me out of self-pity, stress, fear, you name it. Fran is the person who will listen to me complaining about something and in the middle of my well-prepared speech will go, “but Chisco I reject this feeling of sadness in the mighty name of Jesus!” I either start laughing (I think it’s something with the way she pronounces ‘Jesus’ when she’s trying to shut me up), or I start crying because I’m overwhelmed. But she never leaves me there. She will sit with me (even if over the phone), and be quiet with me till I’m better, or till she decides she’s had enough then she’ll go back to bullying me!!

Lol. I love her. Few females I really love (or love at all), and she’s one of them. Everyone needs a friend like her. Someone who you can be silly with, who accepts you the way you are (and loves you intensely), who prays for/with you, who is real. That’s it, Onomarie (and I can never say this name right) is real.

2015 was the year I learned not to be afraid. Pause.

That’s not entirely true. Let me rephrase that.

2015 was the year I learnt to face my fears, confront AND overcome them.

You see, I’d often viewed “facing fear” as something soft or abstract – not overly ground-shifting or life-altering. The loss of a job maybe, a bad breakup, or an uncomfortable confrontation; you know, difficult things, but not really life and death.

Well. Let’s just say life happened.

I lost my father on the 2nd of January 2015, and in many ways it is still a shock, almost unbelievable actually. That swift, sudden, brutal and absolutely painful event shattered every single thing in my life. I hated God, life, my immediate family, my late father (God rest his soul), and everybody else I came in contact with. I was seething with this volcanic-like rage; just bitter, angry, lost, grieving and waiting to erupt. I wanted to colour the world black, because that is how my soul felt – dark and odious. Like Job said in the Bible, “the thing I feared most had come upon me.”

But fear (and grief) are heavy burdens to carry; they poison everything they come in contact with. So I had to make a (hard) decision – to keep moving, or to let my grief (and fear) consume me. My father may have died, but I was still living. I owed it to his memory, and more importantly, to myself, to live wholesomely and completely. As long as I had breath in my lungs, dreams in my heart, and yearning in my spirit, I would keep living, and by God, I would keep moving forward.

So I reset myself – my soul, my mind, and my spirit – not an easy task to do by the way. I cried when I had to, (still do that sometimes). I learned to share my grief, my questions, my angst, my concerns, with my friends and burden-helpers, those who upheld me like pillars, people who fought tirelessly to move me out of the funk. Those who gave me tough love by saying “Okay, that’s enough, no more now.” Those who sent messages of hope, encouragement and humour, those who stood in the gap for me, who prayed, sent me food, or just sat with me.

It’s been an incredible year really. I lost my father, but I gained an incredible perspective on life. I learned that family is less and less those who bear the same surname with you, but much more about those who share your grief and your triumphs. I learned that putting someone you love in the ground, is one of the worst things that can happen to you, but maybe also the most important, because you value more, those you have with you. I’ve learned to be less patient with time-wasters; people who take and take from you – your time, your energy, your resources, your emotions, – without giving back. I’ve learned to immerse myself fully in life, to laugh, to learn, to travel, to love, by God, to live!! I’ve learned to live this life honestly, completely, fully, but also intentionally. Never before, have I been this desperate to accomplish God’s call and purpose for my life. Never before have I cared less about “haters” or “enemies” what are those? Only distractions. Only pesky scarecrows in my rich field of wheat and barley.

I have learned that fear is there to be overcome; you must not let it rule you. Fear is not of God, it’s from the devil. I have learned to look fear in the eye and say “ehen, you’ve hit me with your best shot, now fuck off!.” I have learned to stand. Oh! to stand and keep standing. I have learned to stand victoriously. I have learned focus and the beauty of rising up from ashes.

I have learned that my scars are my greatest assets; that instead of reminding me of the past and filling me with regret, that they point me towards the future, towards the woman I am meant to be, towards the woman I am becoming. I have learned love – that it is ABSOLUTELY about giving – anything less than that, is jive. I have found God again, anew, different, deeper. I am listening for Him more, involving Him with everything – from the mundane to the important. Oh! And I am still fighting fear, daily – in my work, in my mind, in my spirit, but I am winning, because I am of God’s I CANNOT lose.

I don’t know exactly what 2016 has in store for me, but I imagine that it will be a year of achieving big goals and dreams. I’m standing ready. As the Yoruba proverb goes: “there is nothing coming from the sky that the earth cannot handle.” That is me, standing ready, standing prepared, because the earth is mine and the fullness thereof. Bring it on 2016!

My gorgeous friend...

My gorgeous friend…

I love you chekeleke. My sister-girl!

I’ve got family on the blog today! Whoop!!

Ejike is one of my older cousins, married to a really lovely lady, and they have two children with the best names (he didn’t share so I won’t… we don’t want you people to copy our names biko)!

His father is one of my favorite uncles and is super close to my dad, and I have very fond memories of hanging out at their house in the village when we were much younger. Not just my siblings and I, all the cousins! I remember bathing behind a massive metal tank in their compound (don’t judge, we were kids) with my female cousins, and all of us trooping out on Christmas Day to visit extended family to ‘tax them’, eat, play, and then move on. Most times we’d end up back at their house for dinner (which we would funnily end up eating outside, gisting as loudly as children can be), bathing (girls first, then the boys), then trooping to another uncle’s (or not) to sleep.

Memories I hope we can recreate with our own children. Dunno how yet, but I know it’s possible, even if it’s summer holidays or something like that. 

Maybe one of the next time I run the series I will feature only Agwuegbo’s, maybe call it ‘One day one Agwuegbo’, or An Agwuegbo a day’, I don’t know but I’m loving the idea already! And there’s enough of us to really pull this off!

Here’s my cousin Ejike everyone!

I’m Ejike Agwuegbo, Ibo descent, raised in Lagos. I’m married to an amazing wife and have 2 lovely children as part of the marriage benefits. I am a Fish Farmer by profession.

As the year 2015 winds down, one philosophy that keeps me going is “No man should measure his success by comparing with another man but by comparison with where he’s coming from”.

I am grateful for my immediate and extended family. The year has brought unimaginable joy into my home. In October we welcomed our son into world without complications. My 3 years old daughter is excelling in her studies. My amazing wife who has been my rock in all circumstances waxed stronger all through the year churning out different business ideas. Most importantly, we didn’t spend our resources in the hospital. Those who know me will testify that I’ve got the best siblings in the world and they made 2015 rock.

Having left the banking industry after 6 years of service to set up my Fish Farm in 2014, I must say the journey hasn’t been easy (as is the case with most start-ups) but in 2015 we achieved some expansion, modified our processes and have recorded greater returns.

I’m grateful for my close circle of friends who I wouldn’t trade for anything in this world. While the world is on a melt down, there’s virtually no month that goes by without something to celebrate.

Things I wish to undo;

Reneging on my vow to draw closer to God and His Word. Sunday sermons are just not enough.

As 2016 draws closer, I ask for the grace to help more people in need than I did this year and believe that more business ideas will be actualized.

Thank you Chioma for this opportunity to express myself.

 

Big bro!

Big bro!

Whoop! You’re welcome AGK, thank you for honoring my blog! Here’s to bigger successes in 2016 and many more reasons to celebrate!

PS: I have to come eat fish at yours soonest!

I met Tolu in Lagos in 2014, it must have been the end of May, or the first few days in June, at the Women in Journalism event. She was one of the panelists (as was I), and I remember Mercy Abang-Asu introduced us. I really enjoyed that event, even though I had a bit of drama from the organizers. #WeMove

This post was affirmation for me about some misgivings I’ve been having recently, so thank you Tolu!

It’s been awhile since I wrote, so getting started was a little like a car that was stuttering. But here I am. Feels incredible and amazing to be looking at a new year just ahead of me. This year has been such a challenging but a beautiful one as well. Let me tell you a little bit about my year.

This year I lost a good friend, not to death, but to stubbornness. It’s quite a long story so for time and space I’ll shorten it. She finally left a dead-end relationship and wanted to throw a pity party. However, I and some other friends had been asking her to slow down with this guy. I refused to let her get away with acting like she didn’t see the signs or no one warned her. After 4 years of what I thought was great friendship she deleted herself from our close-knit BBM group and deleted me as well. We haven’t spoken since. This taught me that people want to hear ONLY what they want to hear. I’m not saying I have a monopoly on knowing if relationships would work or not but if friends can’t tell you their thoughts even when you don’t like them, then why are your friends? I’m not always right but I always love my friends like family. And what are we friends for if we can’t share our thoughts and opinions? It also taught me that even friends who know you “de ile” (all the way home) as my Yoruba people would say, can still surprise you. People will be people.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about something I’m so grateful for. This year I had a baby girl. Her name is Omokorede aka Koko and I’m so in love. She’s just over 7 months now and she’s my absolute joy. Leaving home at 4.30am for work, dealing with my radio audience, battling Lagos traffic, and all the hustling and bustling of life, is all worth it when I get home and she smiles. God I think I’m obsessed. I promised myself I wouldn’t be one of those parents who somehow make every conversation about their kids. I’ve succeeded in that, but just make a mistake and ask me about Koko. Lol. She makes me strive harder, because I want to be more than her mother but also a role model she would choose for herself. I’m grateful for her birth, her presence. I will never be satisfied being a wife and mother only but I acknowledge she’s a reason for me to be a better person in totality.

Now looking back at the year that was 2015, I know there are areas where I messed up and could have been nicer to my colleagues, strangers, and even my husband (lol). One thing I would undo maybe goes back to that my friend. I would probably just say ok when she announced her breakup and say whatever I wanted to say about the relationship to my husband. Don’t worry, he’s up to date and she had even asked him to introduce her to some of his single friends. I maybe would have played the part she wanted me to play, “oh I’m so sorry, he doesn’t deserve you. He’s an idiot,” etc. But more than likely my mouth would have still beat my mind to one or two comments. So thinking about it again, I’m not sure I would undo it, and here’s why. It showed me that we both had different definitions and expectations of our “friendship.” The fault lines opened up.

So it took me some stumbling to get started but here I am and I don’t want to wrap up. We learn things every day, every month, every year. It pains us when the lessons come from those we love and like, family and close friends. But in all things I believe there is either a blessing or a lesson. That’s all folks. Peace and Happy New Year in advance.

Tolulope Adeleru-Balogun aka TAB aka Iya Koko aka Babe (according to my husband). Radio troublemaker, full-time diva, part-time chef in heels, and so much more.

Surulere

IMG-20110920-00548

Simply gorgeous! Loving the purplish hues!

Thank you for writing in Tolu!

Yay!!! I’ve got Chuka on today! Whoop! Chuka is special, not because his first name takes half of my father’s first name, not because he’s super cute (cough), but because he’s intelligent, and kind, and caring. And married o, before anyone gets any ideas!

Ah ha. As I was saying, Chuka’s a lawyer, and I remember meeting him on a trip to Lagos in 2013; was it 2013 or 2014 Chuka while I was in a meeting with Chude and Debola in one restaurant somewhere in/on Victoria Island. Don’t think we spoke for more than 15 minutes, but we’ve been friends since then, and I’m thankful he’s graced my blog today.

I agree with the words on friendship, and had to take some difficult bites of those this year myself; thankful however because really, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. And wiser.

Rise… Fall… Dominate… Repeat

Lessons for the lucky, are words from the wise and experienced, who were not so lucky. 2015 was an interesting year for me and perhaps I use the word “interesting” loosely but it certainly was. The thrills were unending and the lessons came in torrents (lol…pun unintended).

It started like dawn, with the sun peaking out from beneath the veil of darkness that had earmarked the end of my 2014. It was beautiful and held promise. Looking back at my year, I dare say, it was a good year.

My biggest lesson was most definitely valuing second chances. No other element breathes life into anything than the chance to actually live again and for me, I learned real quick, the importance of starting over. Almost always looks like the longest thing ever, and sometimes it can be the least desirable option. However, through a year that had it’s annoying turns with trust tossed in the year and hard questions asked, I learnt to value the importance of second chances.

Winding down the year, and getting in on the final lap, what I’m most grateful for? Friends. I’ve never been one to have close friends and not so close friends. The dichotomy is tiring. You’re either a friend….or you’re not. There can never be a middle ground with something as incredibly important as friendship.

Through a rather strange storm, I found that sifting through the chaff of acquaintances was incredibly simple and while disappointing, it is something that I’m unendingly grateful for. I found that sacrifice was something I had taken for granted and realised that the act of true friendship must not only be unforgotten but must be repaid without consideration of measure. Friendship is rare and one must sail seas to ensure that a warm connection with a friend so true is salvaged and protected at all times.

Many a time, in my lifetime… I’ve been asked about what I would undo if I had the chance. The answer was “absolutely nothing”…until quite recently. The one thing I’d like to change is something that can never be undone. Death will be a part of us as keenly as life and I have no desire to dwell on what is beyond my control (regardless of how ecclesiastical I consider myself…lol).

So, there it is. I actually enjoyed writing this. Now the arduous task of avoiding the gaps of food poisoning while making Christmas lunch for my family awaits me.

Merry Christmas

Chukwukaelo Ajuluchukwu
Nigerian
Lekki Phase 1

image1

 

Merry Christmas to you my dear, and to your Mrs; shame I missed the turn up on the 26th! Here’s to a fabulous 2016, stripped of every form of bullshit. 

Every now and then you meet someone (even if virtually) who is such an encourager they act like they’re not on this same earth with all the attendant issues. That’s Eloho. From the first time she popped up on my timeline (I don’t know how) I’ve never seen her say an unkind word or anything that doesn’t uplift a spirit.

And she loves Jesus. Icing on the cake, or maybe the cake itself!

It’s so magical though, the way she is. And I’m sure you’ll love her entry as much as I did! She’s super special, and that’s why she’s up today, Christmas Day! Merry Christmas to you, and you, and you!

My name is Eloho, I am a financial analyst in Lagos, Nigeria and when I’m not doing that, I love to sing, read and just live life one day at a time experiencing God’s ‘stupendous grace.’ I also love kids, and love to see people happy and walking in purpose.

What did I learn? Let’s say I learned a whole lot. Let’s go

  • I learned that God IS!!! He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. Like a pancake, seems like God turned me over just as I turned light brown to give me this assurance.
  • I learned that what we know will be tested and we had better be ready. 2015 tested my faith, my resolve and trust in God deeper than the most recent years. But I learned that God’s grace is sufficient, He doesn’t allow more than we can bear.
  • I learned about perspective and timing. It’s a new day at midnight, you know. But the only reason I can celebrate the new day is because I have knowledge and a clock. It’s the same thing with life. My attitude and response to the darkness is a function of my perspective.
  • I learned from my 6-year-old cousin, that ‘nice is different than good…’ Doing what is right and good doesn’t always feel nice but it is the proper thing to do. I’m still learning not to let the fact that the right decision might hurt someone stop me from going ahead to make it.
  • I learned that wisdom is greater than weapons of war. Not every time fight, sometimes just apply wisdom.
  • I learned that ‘Peace is a radar’, far above anything. It is the compass for my life’s journey. Constantly in my face is the image of boiling water and the lack of a reflection therein. Peace is all I need for clarity and if anything ceases to bring me peace, it has to go.
  • I learned that when we think we are infallible in a certain area, we set ourselves up to fail because we are least prepared in that area. Let Him who thinks He stands take heed lest he fall became very literal for me.
  • I learned that we cannot by an act of the flesh bring the promise to pass. Desperation and listening to people may make us feel as though waiting on God is not enough. But I learned by my own Sarah type experience to ‘lean in.’
  • I learned to appreciate the small moments. I lost a friend, Hammed Ajiboye this year. I miss him and wish I made some more time for him.

These lessons didn’t come easy. But I’m grateful that as painful as the experiences that birthed them might have been, I AM better.

Adjusts mic to an appropriate height at the award podium, smiles and pulls out a tiny sheet of paper.

  • I am most grateful for my stupendous wealth in family and my friends. I could go on and on here. God brought amazing people into my life as well. I was NEVER alone.
  • I’m grateful for favor. God continues to surround me with favor everywhere I go.
  • I am most grateful for revelation and clarity. Slowly and steadily, I am gaining a better understanding of what I am here for.
  • I am grateful for ‘discontentment’ and how it’s pushing me out of my ‘comfort zone.’
  • Grateful for my journey so far. Not the script I would have written but it has strengthened me and left me in awe of God’s sovereignty.
  • I’m grateful for service and the opportunity to give back. I derived so much joy from a lot of those moments.

To what I would do differently if I could? I would be a little easier on myself. Gosh, I was quite hard on myself for the mistakes I made but now I have resolved to fail forward and trust that everything is working out for good.

I would also imagine some more. Think I got jaded at some point and just existed. But no, God is able to do far more than I can ask or IMAGINE. So it is time to imagine wildly and boldly and LIVE again.

31 days of gratitude

She’s such a gorgeous soul! I can’t wait to meet you, has to happen in 2016! Merry Christmas @Eloxie (That’s her on Twitter, I say follow her, you’ll be glad she did!)

Awwww, I really like Tony! I remember meeting him at church once (House on The Rock The Refuge), but I don’t remember if that was the first time we met or if we’d met before. I also know he called me on my birthday this year, whoop! And he has a brother in the Army, who is on the frontlines of this fight against Boko Haram. Kai, I don’t know if I would be able to sleep at night ever if my brother was in the Army… then if he was in the Army and actually fighting! My poor heart. I’m just grateful his brother is fine, and ask that we all keep him in our prayers please?

Tony’s entry is lovely, really lovely, and then it’s so powerful, like punchline after punchline! It resonates with me in a lot of ways and encourages me in a lot of ways, and I know it will do just that for you too.

My name is Tony Atambi. I’m Nigerian (proudly so). I’m a lawyer who currently lives and works in Abuja; also a Christian gentleman.

As with every other person, at the beginning of the year 2015, I was all pumped up and ready to go. Felt like new vistas had been opened up to me and I was just going to cruise through. You know that feeling I speak about.

Errrm…Let’s just say as the year went on, motivation waned far too many times, I felt like I was stuck in a rut far too many times, not knowing with the slightest precision what to do next with my life. And so there were quite a number of times where, as a result of the worry arising from life not being in motion, I slid into depression.

Flowing from the above is the first major lesson I learnt in 2015;

  • Motion doesn’t equate progress. If you have ever tied motion (being up and about for up and about sake) with progress, you might wanna discard that thought. It is not valid. Being busy is simply what it is – Busy. Busy doesn’t necessarily mean progress. The guy trying to empty the Atlantic Ocean is busy but he will never make any progress.

On closer examination of my thoughts, I realized that I just wanted to be busy, regardless of whether it was productive or not. It pays sometimes to take a break and ask if you’re just running around or getting productive.

  • I learnt that my fears are not necessarily valid. In fact, I dare say fears are not valid. The fact that you fear something doesn’t confer it with the capacity to happen. There is no truth about fear. You fear what may or could happen. Yet it is never certain. So I find that sometimes, the things we fear are things we should really confront.

I’m immediately reminded of my brother who is fighting the insurgents in the North Eastern part of Nigeria. I used to be so afraid for his life, especially when we are inundated daily with stories of soldiers who are either missing or dead. But I realized that each time I call him, he’s always available to take my calls. So the fact that I feared that something could happen to him doesn’t mean it did happen. Discard your fears. They are not valid.

Plus, nobody became a great success because they feared, anyway.

  • Most importantly, I learnt to be thankful to The One who has the master plan and to trust in that master plan. I’m a firm believer in the plan that God has for our lives. I didn’t see clearly, everything He has planned out. But this year, I took my trust in God a notch higher.

There are an array of things I’m grateful for. But here are a few.

  • Peace of mind. The outgoing year brought along a few storms but in the midst of it all, I had the peace that could only have come from a supernatural place. God, actually. And so even when it seemed like the world was going to come crashing down on me, peace flooded my heart like a river.
  • I’m grateful for the beauty of falling in love (yeah, this is my emotional side) and being loved in return. 2015 brought along to me, a certain amazing lady and Lord knows, I’m in love. Baby, if you can see this, you know I love you to tiny little bits.
  • I’m grateful for second chances to start again. God has given me far too many of them. I wouldn’t give me that much grace if I was God. LOL.
  • I’m grateful for the grace to always speak a word in season that blesses someone. Every now and then, I put out tweets that serve to minister to and encourage people. I get very positive feedback all the time. In my little corner, God has used me to bring His word to people. He takes all the glory.

One thing I’d undo in 2015 is stalling the execution of a few plans. But hey…2016 is right around the corner and I hope to reach for higher accomplishments. We can now clink glasses and drink to an even more amazing 2016!

tony atambi

What a gentleman! Unfortunately ladies, this one here’s taken! Here’s to an amazing 2016 Tony, please invite us to eat jollof rice next year o, God bless you!

Demola the politician. Demola the PDP guy. Those are probably the bits of Demola the world (read as young Nigerians within and outside the country) know. I know a Demola who loves history, who can quote Nigerian history from here till tomorrow and not make a mistake. From this post, you’ll meet a Demola who’s head over heels for his family, and his entry (very quiet but laden with wisdom) is a joy for me to share today.

This time last year, my son was just few weeks old and since then, I’ve watched him grow and learn. And I have learnt as well… seeing the world as he sees it, seeing him struggle to understand the nature of things as they are – that a ball rolls but a remote control won’t/can’t. That the flick of a switch can flood a room with light, that a bed doesn’t make a good place to walk but the floor isn’t good for rolling around either. That my phone cannot be chewed and that every morning he has to get his body washed, though he doesn’t like it. He’s learning the nature of things and the laws that govern them and I have also learnt.

I’ve learnt more about the nature of men – that people are often who they show themselves to be, not what you imagine them to be. That who they are is often obvious but emotions blind us to their reality. I’ve learnt to work more with my instincts about people and not question those instincts.

I’m grateful for relationships and the doors they opened this year. Grateful for life, for love, for friendships and for family. I find it hard to be grateful most times about life because there’s always so much more I want it to yield to me so I should be grateful for this chance to write about my gratitude.

Let me think for a minute please.

I am grateful for my son. He’s moved to being the centre of my world in the most amazing ways – no matter how things upset me on the outside, I only have to think of his unflappable spirit and I smile. The woman who takes care of him is the woman in my life – that’s my wife is also another reason to be grateful. She’s understanding and very tolerating of my excesses. I’m not the easiest person to live with but she has managed to cope with me.

All life for me is an experience and there is little I would undo if I could but I could have done some things better this year. I’m one of those who believe it is up to me if things will be or not – like if Arsenal loses a football match and I did not watch it, I think they lost because I did not watch. I had a small chance to play a small part in the last presidential elections and I saw my party make mistakes. I truly believed we had the better candidate, I truly believed our platform was the best for the country. I shouted, but I could have shouted harder. I fought but I could have fought more. I could have challenged those who assumed we would win as we always do – but perhaps I too was guilty of thinking that our candidate would do all it took to win, unlike he had promised to do.

In a way, that loss turned out to be a good thing – I’ve learnt now to fight harder to make my views known in any political setting and not succumb to prevalent wisdom. I’m more convinced about the things I suggested – a victory would have meant my methodology wasn’t necessary but now I know it was and better? My party knows too.

I would also have loved to have published a couple of books this year – one written already on my laptop so if you’re reading this and think you’re into publishing: holler.

2015 has been a great year as I reflect on it and I’m hopeful of a greater 2016.

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Awww, so cute how you talk about your son and your wife, family is precious and I’m all about that! I’m also excited about the new dispensation with a new party in power, big hopes and prayers for Nigeria because it either works or it doesn’t, for all of us. 

Thank you Demola for sharing today, most appreciated!

When did I even meet Azeenarh? I don’t remember to be honest. What do I remember about her though? Frank conversations, laughter, real talk, dinners at her place (babes remember the ‘after birthday party’ you threw for me this year with lots of cake)? @Xeenarh’s a real person; what you see is what you get. No airs, no high shoulders, nothing. One way we’re alike? She loves to travel! Dang! Like, you can grab a bite with Azeenarh today, and tomorrow you call to pick up, I don’t know, a pencil you forgot in her bag and she says she’s just touched down in some European country! Girl can move! 

We did some work together last year, first time I’d ever done that so I was really excited – it was a Book Sprint for Heinrich Boll, and I chronicled the 7 days we were holed up in a house in Maitama here https://fairygodsister.wordpress.com/2014/12/02/13th-all-in-a-days-work-the-day-after-the-day-after/.

So, give it up for my gorgeous, skinny (yes I’m beefing) friend, Azeenarh!

I’m Azeenarh Mohammed, Nigerian, resident in airports and tech conferences, happily unemployed.

The first thing I am grateful for is that 2015 is ending. Yeah, I said it! Despite recording a couple of good things (Nigeria eradicating polio, a peaceful democratic transition, passage of Violence Against Persons Act) the year was also all round shitty. Boko Haram continued to wreak havoc in the land, we passed a very vague and harmful Cyber Crime Prohibition Act which is being used to silence bloggers and journalists, and we switched a clueless government for another one that seems just as insensitive. But let me step away from that (deep breath) and focus on some not so bad stuff…

One thing I learned this year; it is a gift to be able to say I love you. To ourselves, to our parents, to our family, our friends, our partners and even many other people in our lives. So many people go through life not hearing these words said to them and I feel this is one of the tragedies of our times. One thing we can never do too much of is say and show people how much we love them. Life is too short to feel awkward. So go ahead, look at yourself in the mirror and gift yourself the words; I love you. Don’t be shy to tell your parents, your friends, your personal persons, your baby sister, how much they mean to you and how grateful you are that they are still here with you. Then before ringing off, tell them you love them. I promise it gets easier after the third time :)

The one thing I would undo in 2015 is everything that happened on 19th January 2015. I wish I had called my sister to tell her I loved her. I wish I had called her to check on her. I wish I had taught her how to use Circle of 6. I wish I had been more present in her life. I wish I knew more about her last moments. I wish I could have hugged her. I wish I could turn back the hands of time. I wish. I wish. I wish…

But sadly, life doesn’t work that way.

Things I would do all over again; quit my job. We are brought up to ‘go to school, get a degree, find a partner, find a job, settle down and live happily ever after’. This puts so much pressure on individuals that we never really get a chance to find ourselves and follow our passions. If there is a gift I could give to everyone, it would be 1 year of paid unemployment. So we can all learn to breathe deeply, live simply, listen/sleep consistently, find/confirm our true calling and most importantly, center ourselves. But since I cannot gift you that, I encourage you to save hard so that you would be able to take anything from six months to 1 year off work and life. We need to be able to pause, to heal, to grow, to marinate in ourselves and our emotions.

I wish that the gains humanity recorded in 2015 are surpassed, that we start to look past our perceived differences and learn to live together in peace. I hope that we learn to dream, to actualize those dreams, and to allow others the freedom to dream big and actualise their dreams. I desire joy, happiness, good health and contentment for myself and my loved ones. And I wish the same for all of you too! See you in 2016.

Love, @xeenarh.

I love you baby girl, and again I’m truly, really sorry about January. Here’s to a 2016 without any bad news or evil occurrence, full of God’s great joy, peace, and very many blessings!

So how do I know Chukwuka?

I saw a comment he left on one of the entries for this #31Days31Writers series and it just occurred to me to ask if he would be interested in sending in an entry. And he said yes! And reading this, I know it was God that wanted him to share his story to encourage everyone who would read, including me.

The year’s been a bit dodgy for some, ups and downs, and lefts and rights. Only constant thing is the One who made us, fashioned the earth, and is already in 2016 waiting to show us His greatness! I’m so encouraged by this!

I’m experiencing what it is to live by faith. When I heard Micah Stampley do the song ‘Heaven On Earth”, I never understood what he meant until I began to meditate upon those lyrics that “to be living in His favour and grace is just like heaven on earth”.  I usually don’t like speaking about what I’ve gone through in the past, rather I choose to sit in my quiet times and allow those tranquil thoughts go off my subconscious mind. 2015 has been a year of tests, trials and lessons for me.

2015 January started for me with fresh memories of my Mom’s burial ceremony in December 2014, I couldn’t think straight because there is nothing more painful than the loss of a mother. Later on when I thought all was going well, I lost my job.

At the time, it seemed like an orchestrated process by the devil to pull me back to square one as if a volcano had just erupted over me. I started getting addicted to alcohol gradually to suppress my deep hurt but I found no hope. Sometimes ladies think they are the only ones engulfed in the race of keeping pace with the realities of life. We guys do too! When our friend proposes to his bae, we smile and clink glasses but deep inside you feel like you aren’t measuring up! Yeah? When half of your friends suddenly hibernate only to appear on Instagram on the streets of Denmark, there is a feeling in you that makes you want to fly away too! It looks like some things have eluded you each time you compare yourself to people, and that was my case.

I was heartbroken; looked like the whole world had moved ahead of me, like really? I got rejuvenated after reading 1 Corinthians 15:41. I focused on developing myself, praying daily and leaning on God. It was during those periods of being out of a job that I got introduced to the Winners Family and joined in the daily 5.30am prayer sessions. Thereafter, I was introduced to what is known as “Kingdom Advancement Prayers”. These prayers ushered in a new dawn for my life in all areas. Where I saw lack I began to see abundance, where I had rejection, I began to see love, where I saw hopelessness, I saw light and things began to take shape.

My major lesson is this: I’ve learnt that friends are angels in human form; they exist in our lives to help us build a family away from ‘family’. God be praised for friends.

I’ve come to terms with investing in my relationships with people, my friends and even neighbours. I count myself lucky to have been blessed with godly, disciplined and purpose-driven friends.

I’ve learnt never to compare myself with anyone.

If there be anything I wish I could unmake or change, it will be that I will learn to take actions quickly.

Truly Heaven on earth has been my experience all through this year; I have no regrets rather I see my mistakes as a refining fire to bring out a better version of me. I might not be yet married, I might not have the type of cars my friends are driving but I am contented with the gift of life God has blessed me with – a passion for teaching.

I have channeled this gift into practical use for three years now volunteering with Beyond The Classroom Foundation. I am involved in a project initiated by Microsoft Nigeria –One Million Fingers Coding” where I teach the basics of coding to students in primary 4. My biggest dream in 2016 is to see these children come up with ideas about what their future careers will be and?

My next desire in 2016 is to be seriously engaged in advancing the Kingdom of God on earth, for that is the key to all of life’s breakthroughs.

My name is Chukwuka Anslem Ozor, I work and reside in Lagos, I like teaching. I work as Content Deployment Executive at Imaginarium Creative.

Amazing work!

Amazing work!

First off, my condolences on your mom… Here’s praying God’s great comfort on your entire family. Second, a very big yay! Very well done Chukwuka, my dad’s semi namesake (My dad’s Chuka, no full-form)… Here’s to a brilliant 2016 for you!!

PS: Have you heard of TechHer? I think we should do some work together next year when TechHer goes to Lagos….