Archive for the ‘DAY 2 DAY’ Category

Whenever I hear the word ‘galaxy’, my mind strays to somewhat unfamiliar terms like asteroids, comets, intergalactic activity etc., and to better known terms like stars, planets, rotation and revolution, etc.

I wonder which of the stories we have heard or learned are true, if there was indeed a big bang (and sometimes how big it was), or if God created all we know and can see as the Bible tells us, starting with “Let there be light.” (Obviously I know God is true)

I also think of things like Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs), and allow myself a stretch of imagination as to their origin and final destination. Are the movies we’ve watched expressions of creativity, or do they really exist? Is there really life elsewhere? Do they look like we do? What do they feed on, burgers, fries, or healthy greens? What systems of governments are in place, and have they graduated to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) from Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) like we did?

I allow myself to ask all these questions, maybe even search the web for any new knowledge. It would be nice to know an alternate universe existed devoid of the pollution we have in ours, one without wars, hunger, poverty, climate change, and terrorism.

So far that’s what they’ve stopped at though, questions.

PS: This piece was in response to a question, “write 150 words on the topic – Galaxy”

Hope is a currency more valuable than the dollar, more desirable than the pound, and yet the most easily dispersed, if you’re in prison.

I visited Kuje Medium Security Prison on Friday the 22nd of April 2016, my first time ever in a prison, home and/or abroad. I had heard of prison visits by charities and fellows given to philanthropy in the past, but a chance meeting with Big Mo of Wazobia FM and I was off to ‘The Committee’ to tell them we needed to contribute towards the visit.

The trip to the prison was moved a few times due to high security alerts issued by the authorities, and the calibre of people housed in the prison and at some point I lost hope that the visit would happen. But, on Wednesday I was informed that we had received the all-clear and Friday was the day.

Thanks to monies graciously approved by The Committee, I drove to the assembly point, back seat full of toiletries – toothpaste, petroleum jelly, bathing soap, washing soap, dettol, sanitary towels, and bleach – and I had to change into something totally hiding my figure. Yep, I had been warned that the less *insert a word of your choosing* females look when they visit prisons, the less excitable the men will get.

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Me, in my sister’s maternity kaftan!

And then we set off to Kuje, which is a right turn off the stretch from the city to the airport, and transforms from urban to underdeveloped with each kilometre. Unfortunately, there is a stark difference between state capitals and satellite towns around them; stark differences in what we present to outsiders, and what we really are.

The entire drive, my mind was racing, almost crashing into itself with all the emotions I was feeling and the stories of prison visits I’d heard. Would they pee on me, would anyone be really injured? Would they be hungry, angry or just stoic? I tried to distract myself with music, with very little success.

As we turned onto the dirt road leading to the prison, the butterflies in my belly doubled, trying to keep up with the increasing military presence we encountered. I was reminded of the absolute power of celebrity and the media (read as radio) when we were stopped at one of the checkpoints and told to go somewhere far to park. Then Big Mo introduced himself and it was magical how all the soldiers started hailing him. Fist bumps, laughs, the once tense mood melted into camaraderie because the soldiers matched a face with a voice they listened to maybe everyday.

We got into the prison reception, and the ladies were taken into a room to be searched. I’ve been body searched on three continents and I tell you, none have been as embarrassing and almost invasive as this search. The body search in America comes close, but these guys take the cake abeg.

We were led to a courtyard where there were at least 100 inmates sitting under canopies and laughing as one of us cracked jokes. And there was more laughter, raucous laughter as comedians thrilled the inmates. It got better, there were comedians drawn from the inmates themselves. Hilarity!

Beyond the laughter though, I was bawling like a baby at different points. One of them? One of the comedians was told he could only do one joke. He finished it, and when the mic was going to be taken from him, he said he’d been locked up for 8 years and he didn’t know when next he’d hold a microphone. Cue my wiping my eyes furiously.

When each performer finished, he would give out a tube of toothpaste, a bar of soap, or any of the little household items we had. The joy on their faces as they received the items, the look of longing on the faces of their peers, cue my wiping my eyes furiously.

Sometimes it was easy to forget we were actually amongst inmates. The thunderous laughter, hailing their own performers or ours, and the clapping would have been great joy to a politician at a rally. Each time an official asked them to move back, or sit down though? I remembered, all over again.

I wondered what crimes they might have committed to get there, wondered about their friends and family and if they were missed, if some of them had families waiting for them to get out, or if they had moved on. I was told of people who were locked up (for years) because they couldn’t afford bail of N5000.

A pastor from House on The Rock The Refuge gave a brief exhortation, and he led us in the song ‘Everything written about you is great’ by Steve Crown before that. Watching the prisoners standing, waving their hands in worship? Kai. Pastor TJ preached hope, courage, and Jesus being able to turn their lives around.

We danced too, even me! The performers all danced with the inmates, the prison officials danced with themselves, and then us females (two of us) were asked to come out to dance. Took all of me not to cry all over again as they hailed us to the ‘stage’; couldn’t manage beyond shuffling from side to side.

And it was a teary Chioma who gave soaps and toothpaste to the inmates, including one really old, frail man as afternoon turned to evening and we had to leave.

I was turning everything we’d experienced in my mind as we walked to the reception to be processed out. Only to see prison officials whipping one really rough-looking man so quickly it seemed like every step I took coincided with a swish of the whip. I started begging the official to stop, tears flying down my face. One of the officials told me not to waste tears on the man; apparently he’d been released from this prison after spending four years for raping a female; he had just been arrested, caught in the act of raping a four-year old boy. Yes. A four-year old. A boy.

I left.

PS: A very big thank you to Big Mo, Chuks D General, Willy Willy (all of Wazobia FM and who have organised these prison visits for a number of years), all the comedians and entertainment guys who came along on this visit. You guys are awesome.

ADVANCE WARNING: This is going to be a bit all over the place, like my mind is at the moment. Ready? Cool.

Have you ever been lied to? From the so-called little lies where you say you’re on the way but you’re just about to jump into the shower, to the yes you’ll buy one but you know you can’t afford it and you were just trying to save face, to the fibs told to save yourself from trouble, on to the intentional half-truths or outright falsehood that rips hearts and minds apart.

Before we all jump on our sanctimonious horses with tales of the evildoers around us, have we lied to others too? It’s easy for everyone to talk about how they’ve been hurt or wronged, but do we remember we might have wronged others too? Hope this explains that this post is as much for me as it is for you.

So I’ve just found out a friend has been lying to me for a bit, and I’m gutted, and on a number of levels too. First because I’m not innocent and there’s that bit about coming to equity with clean hands (I think it should be changed to a clean heart though). Second because sometimes I’m as trusting as a child who’s told to go inside the room to get her slippers so she can go out with mommy. Even though I know I’ll get left at home (again), I still trust that this time it won’t happen. But it does, and I’m crushed all over again.

Away from me, there’s the lie by omission which involves leaving out facts so that a different narrative other than the truth or true representation of things is formed. It is also refusing/neglecting/deciding to leave existing misconceptions as they are.

Exaggerations are also lies. So you have nine pencils yet you say you have 300. Do you have pencils? Yes. Do you have 300 though? Sigh. In the same vein, under representation is the family of falsehood too. Very simply, you say you have 9 pencils, but you really have 300. Why lie?

What other forms of lies do you know of? Which ones are you guilty of? Are you a habitual, compulsive, or pathological liar? Is it as natural as the air you breathe? Do you feel bad about it? Trying to stop or slow down on them?

I found this poem by Isaac Watts here, thought it was apt.

O ’tis a lovely thing for youth
To early walk in wisdom’s way;
To fear a lie, to speak the truth,
That we may trust to all they say!

But liars we can never trust,
Even when they say what is true.
And he who does one fault at first
And lies to hide it, makes it two.

Have we not known, nor heard, nor read
How God does hate deceit and wrong?
How Ananias was struck dead,
Caught with a lie upon his tongue?

So did his wife Sapphira die,
When she came in, and grew so bold
As to confirm that wicked lie,
Which just before her husband told.

The Lord delights in them that speak
The words of truth; but every liar
Must have his portion in the lake
That burns with brimstone and with fire.

Before anyone comes at me for making it a religious matter (why anyone would think to separate the spiritual from the physical is a totally different matter for another day), here’s a little reminder about the golden rule. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Simple.

Before you tell that next untruth, think about how you would feel if someone said it to you. I’m going to do that too.

So last night I watched this gorgeous movie called The Intern starring Robert De Niro (Ben) and Anne Hathaway (Jules), is centered around Jules leading an internet fashion company and having Ben as one of the interns. That’s all I’ll say don’t worry; it’s a really gorgeous movie and I want you to see it for yourself!

Apart from making me tear up a few times (don’t worry I’ve been known to cry cos the sun is shining beautifully, lol), the movie reminded me of the differences between older, distinguished people, and this generation. And distinguished here doesn’t mean wealth. It means class, graces, and the general decent traits that make/made people ladies and gentlemen in every sense of those words.

For instance, one of my best friends from university is called Ekene. Her dad, should be well over 80 now is one of the most distinguished people I know. While we were in school, anytime I went to her house he would extend his hand, look me in the face and ask me “how do you do?” Crisp, clean English. A straight back, no slouching (even for his age), very in tune with current affairs, such a well of knowledge. Bless him!

I have been blessed with older friends (and I think I’ve written about this before) who always challenge me to do/be better; whether it is the way I speak (even my pronunciations), the way I write, etiquette, etc. I don’t know… I feel like I can’t really articulate this thought so I’ll move on. Can I just say though that this post is more about the things I’ve seen that I don’t really see anymore, and less about bashing men or my generation? Yeah? Good.

Anyway, halfway through the movie, I took a break (who does that), and started tweeting. Here are a few things I said.

 

That’s it. Any other old souls out there? Anyone still have eyes out for these things?

Hello everyone!

So I’m  having a look at my drafts, and apparently I started trying to write this post in 2014! Sigh! I can be so bad sometimes… Lol! And this was March 2014 o, not even the end of the year! Sigh.

At the time, I noticed a strand of grey hair and if I remember correctly, I was both amused and panicked! I remember thinking, it’s all over, I’m old! Lol! Forgetting that at some point in this my short existence I was so in love with patches of grey, and one of my friends actually dyed her hair white! Loved it but didn’t think it would suit me so I never tried it.

Anyway, with the realisation of aging (lol) come a few other things that I must either take note of or suffer the consequences, and I thought I’d share some of them with you today, and maybe you can share how your bodies have changed as you grow older if you’ve been looking out like me:)

Do we do that? Cool!

Acid Reflux has become a thing! Normally I could eat whenever, wherever, whatever and not think about it. I had my first episode of acid reflux in 2014, and while I’m very sure it’s not because I started inching towards 30, I’m sure something about my metabolism and general digestion has changed. By 2015 I had to start carrying a bit of medication around for it, but the biggest help for me has been watching what/when I eat, and avoiding positions (like lying down to eat, lol) that trigger it. So I’m doing ok.

Milk. I know, we’re still on food. So, I grew up on milk, like my parents didn’t spare that at all. I remember being sick as a child and mom mixing malt and milk for me to drink morning, afternoon, and night. Yum! The gorgeous thickness of that drink is a memory that will never go away, and unfortunately remain only a memory. These days, my belly says no to milk. Like, not a maybe or just a little bit, it says no. I disobey that at my own peril. Sigh. I don’t want to grow up!

Sleep. I actually had insomnia between 2012 and 2014, and I remember years before surviving a full week with less than 16 hours sleep (in total) and not feeling anything. Lol, I remember the period in Greenhithe when I couldn’t sleep for like 3 days straight, and my boyfriend at the time got a little weary with my phoning him in the middle of the night to gist because I was awake. Lol! These days though? First two days not sleeping ok might be alright, but anything after that and Chioma the Grump comes out to play. And we don’t like Chioma the Grump…

Confidence. There’s a quiet confidence that comes with facing things you’ve faced before, and most of the things that we go through now we’ve either gone through before, heard/read of someone who’s been in similar circumstances, etc. My point? We’re at the point where ‘there’s nothing new under the sun’ starts to hold proper meaning, and that brings a certain ‘been there done that’ kind of confidence. At least it does that for me.

Decisions. You’re responsible for the decisions you make. Good, bad, with rewards or consequences. You, alone. Gone are the days when you can blame the sun, moon, stars, friends, and even chickens for the wrong steps you take, the foolish moves you make, etc. Not happening any more Boo, everyone (including yourself) is a little less forgiving of the ‘passing the buck’ game.

Friends. I’ve gotten a firm handle of my buddies, best mate(s), friends, acquaintances, and the monitoring spirits. Lol! I said I wasn’t going to but hey, what’s a blog post without some good candour? We all have those friends who are close enough to monitor our progress without contributing more than snarky comments that might sound funny but are actually nasty when  you think of them later. Take a minute, think about it. You have those ones too? We all do! On the other hand I’ve figured out the buddies who can ride through a storm together, the ones who will help you hide a body (figuratively o), who will uphold you with prayer, amen to great friendships and working to keep them in the face of whatever disagreement or provocation!

God is everything. When I was younger and heard things like He’s everything, it didn’t hold as much meaning as it does now, how much I’ve learned about God that shows me I know nothing! Walking with God, stumbling, letting Him hold my hands and lead me has been one of my most defining changes; knowing that Someone so big and great and mighty and awesome loves this little person (me) so fiercely is everything. And that love isn’t conditional, just like I love my niece and nephew fiercely even when they offend me. God is everything.

That’s a few of the things that have changed for me, either regarding perspective or physically. What’s changed for you?

PS: Must do a giveaway soon, haven’t done one since 2014. Sigh. You this Chioma sef.

Children of God!

How’s everyone doing? Good? I know, I’ve been absent, not unavoidably, but I promise I couldn’t help it. I need you to understand how hard I tried! God is faithful sha, the year’s shaping up really nicely, and I can’t but be thankful. Where do I start from? I have a brand new, gorgeous niece! Like, when I held her like an hour after she popped out (literally, lol), I felt like my heart would explode! Very thankful!

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Take a minute to admire my gorgeous head, will you?

So, what I’ve been up to? Or do we just look at the things I said I’ve learned and then they incorporate bits of what I’ve been up to? Yep, I prefer the second option, let’s do that.

  1. Sometimes you need to let people go. Like cut them off, and uprooting whatever stumps they attempt to leave behind because they’re cancerous and you don’t want any reappearances. And sometimes that can be difficult. And that’s ok, because we’re human, flesh and blood, etc. But a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do sometimes!
  2. Prayer is a direct line to God. Like D-I-R-E-C-T. So in February my inner lights of my car stopped working, and I’m afraid of my mechanic cos every time he fixes something it’s never what it used to be. So it works, but I just know the general equilibrium of the car has been messed with. Anyway, so that night I prayed and said to God that He could fix my car and save me from using potential tithe or offering money to fix it (I know, I’m such a spoiled Jesus baby). Guess what? Next night I drove the car, guess whose inner lights came on? Whoop! Thank you God!
  3. Mechanics, tailors, carpenters, electricians, all artisans are cut from the same cloth. Like I cannot deal! I was going to learn tailoring (and I know a friend who picked up the skill recently and is doing great) but am I going to learn all the others too? Sigh.
  4. Babies are work, a lot of work! My niece has the loudest voice I’ve ever heard on a baby… my God! Like when she’s upset, she can raise the dead! To be honest I don’t remember if my nephew was this loud or if we’ve forgotten because he’s a bit older (3 going on 300, lol). Either way my little princess has lungs! Dang! She will join a choir biko, we won’t waste this talent.
  5. Children say the darndest things, no really they do. So, my nephew is three, our little majesty. He’s awesome, and I’m excited at how much he’s growing up, and how he’s learned that Chioma’s iPad needs something called internet if he’s going to watch Dora the Explorer on it. Lol. So, where it would have been “Chioma can I use your iPad?” it’s become “Chioma do you have internet?” Lol. Cuteness overload when he wakes up in the morning and first thing he asks me is if I have internet. Uncle say good morning jor!
  6. I miss my aunt, and I don’t think we’ll ever stop talking about her. So my mom’s been around for just under a month now, and we were all gisting yesterday when it occurred to us that we talk about my aunty maybe everyday! Sometimes more than once in a day. Cancer. Cancer. Cancer. You bastard.
  7. I haven’t read as much as I planned to do this year. I said I would do a minimum of three books a month, I’m almost rolling my eyes at how far away from that I am! Sigh. Who has a reading plan or something like that I can TRY to follow? I just feel a little inadequate when I’m not amassing titles and going through them.
  8. I haven’t been out of Nigeria since January, and outside Africa since October. Have you looked at the exchange rates recently? Cough.
  9. 30 isn’t as scary as I thought it would be. It’s the big 3-0 in a few months, and I have a whole lineup of activities I’m working on, across a number of continents (yes Boo), and involving a few crazy heights! Yeesss!! I c-a-n-n-o-t wait! Bucket list of life and destiny! Now looking up to God and showing him the total for the trip, and smiling, because God likes it when I smile. Lol…
  10. I fasted in January with my church, HolyHill Church in Wuse 2. 21 days (20 for me because I missed one day). It was quite the experience, and I look forward to being able to do that and just focus on God without it being a congregational activity. There’s nothing like activating a direct line to God walai… I cannot explain!

There you have it, 10 things I’ve been opened up to from the beginning of this year till now.

11. And here’s a nice little number 11 because it’s my blog, and I can – I’m a fine girl! Whoosh!!! Ok, I didn’t just figure that out, lol, but this is more like your point to ponder, reflect on, and dance to! Lol!

PS: I almost had an accident yesterday night… I was headed to Shoprite to buy chicken (lol, bestie says I wasn’t even going anywhere ‘serious’) and suddenly this guy in a Toyota Camry just comes out of literally nowhere. I’m over 100km/hr and so I call the name above every other name and step on the brakes – the one oyibo people call ‘jam the brakes’ – and I’ve never heard screeching that loud. My God! I didn’t hit it (ram into it would have been a more accurate description). My hands were steady, I didn’t swerve or endanger anyone, and interestingly, even though the guy sped forward just a little bit (when he heard the screeching I guess), the space between us wasn’t that much when my car stopped. Phew!

Praise God with me!

Hey you!

How’s your new year shaping up? Did you make resolutions? How many have you broken o!! Lol… I stopped making resolutions a little while ago, prefer to just keep striving for perfection, trusting God to help with chipping off the less than pretty bits, and working at it. To each their own though, if you made resolutions keep working at them, one day at a time ok?

On to this gist about fish, my brother in-law bought some really baby catfish (no I didn’t look up what baby catfish are called), and put them in a massive fish tank. It’s his first time of rearing them, and my second time of closely watching (maybe even being responsible for) fish growing since I was like 5 years old (long, long, long time ago my father had a poultry and a fish farm – he actually worked in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries department).

Back to our fish in 2015, each time I go to see them, I learn something; sometimes a lesson so ‘alive’ I start to compare them with us humans. I had a chat with my sister this morning when we went to feed them, and decided I would capture my thoughts so far, and expand them as they grow (maybe even show y’all a photo or video of them sometime).

Ready? I’m excited about this!
1. Baby fish are really demanding, require a great deal of care. Their water must be changed every few days otherwise they get poisoned in it; you have to follow the pace of their eating when feeding them otherwise the leftover food in the water sinks to the bottom and becomes a problem. Still on feeding, if they’re underfed, they die. If they’re overfed, they die. (It’s worse than looking after a baby)!

2. Carers must be as intuitive and perceptive as possible. We know the that are active, the ones that are not as active, the ones we need to prod so they move around and eat, and the ones that have passed on but look like they’re still alive (which is a health problem for the others). So we’re constantly looking.

3. Fish are a lot of work! But, it’s rewarding to see them grow, and feed, and grow, and feed, and grow… (you get the whole idea)

Remember what I said about following their pace with feeding? That’s a bit tricky, and here’s how I relate it to us humans. So, my darling nephew has days when all he wants to eat is Pringle’s, and he refuses to eat anything else. Do we ‘follow his pace’ and let him eat 200 packs of Pringle’s? Of course not. But he must eat three times a day, and get snacks in as they’re due.

Relating that a bit further to our relationship with God, sometimes we ask for stuff that we are not ready for, might not be able to handle if we get it, or it’s just bad for us generally. God says no (or wait), and we ‘take up arms’. But He can see the full picture, He has the manual, and so He’s playing that out for us. Just like us and the fish.

Still on our relationship with God, sometimes He needs to move us to different waters because again He sees the entire picture but we’re either comfortable with where we are, afraid of change, or just being pig-headed (like I can be sometimes). And so we get hurt (sometimes gravely), because we are not in His plan.

Let’s take it to the fish. When they started growing and we saw that some of them were fattening faster than others, my brother in-law decided to separate them so the smaller ones would have a chance. They ‘refused’. I don’t know how to explain that, but they refused. One day, when the water change was going on, my brother in-law and sister saw something whitish and so they thought the silicon at the opening to the tank had given way. Unfortunately, it wasn’t that. It was a half-eaten fish. Yes, apparently fish eat each other.

Yep. Yep. I was as shocked as you might be now (if you didn’t know).

Final point for today, checking on these babies has reaffirmed to me two things.

A. Some of the fish died, and for no reason. Sometimes you do everything you’re supposed to do, tick all the boxes, put in the work, but stuff still goes wrong. It’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up.

B. Some of the fish are triple the size of others. Some people will run faster than others, others will get to their destination faster, and that’s okay too. Are you confident you’re in God’s plan? Are you working hard? Then stay in your lane. Don’t (and this was the first example that came to my head) cut your hair because the people with short hair are more successful, or dip your hands into things you know you shouldn’t because xyz did that and “oh, look at where they are now!”

Are you a little more relaxed with my title now? Let’s talk about it! Have you ever reared animals? What do you want to share from that experience?

PS: Baby catfish are called ‘sac fry’, or ‘fry’

Sometime in December 2014 I told myself the truth;I had become overweight in a way that wasn’t cute anymore. So I’m naturally big-boned, but I remember looking at myself in a mirror and agreeing with myself that what I was seeing wasn’t big bones, it was fat.

I didn’t like what I saw.

It was difficult to ‘take action’ though, I was in America (Houston to be precise, where everything is bigger), and I remember that beyond one run, and maximum four hours in the gym, I didn’t do anything closely or remotely related to keeping fit, eating right, or working out.

And did it show or what! By the time I came back in January (of course I spent a bit of time in England as well), I was… big (the nicest way to refer to it).

That January I attended an event in Lagos, and a friend of mine who now runs a magazine saw me and my friend Omojuwa and took photos of us for his magazine. I was tagged in the photos and pretty as they are, I haven’t accepted them on my wall because…

I didn’t like what I saw.

I still didn’t take action. Till April, when I woke up one day, and said I was going to hire a popular dietician on Instagram to work me through meals. After the initial conversation and she telling me how much it would cost per month, I spent the next three days trying to get her to take my call. She was either busy, or busy, or busy. I kinda lost count of how many “I’ll call you back” texts I got.

One week Bestie and I decided to go on a fruits and vegetables fast; I don’t even think I was eating any fruits past plums whenever I could find them in Lagos or Abuja, so it was quite the challenge. But we did it! By the sixth day our bellies were running, we were literally living in the loo (sorry) but we went on to the 7th day. No work out at all.

That 7th day I felt different. Something I’d bought in January which couldn’t fit anymore (in April), managed to zip. And all of a sudden, there wasn’t anything I wanted as bad as all my old trad attires (going back to 2012) to fit. By this time I was a size 14, and in the gang of people who blame ‘different cuts by different brands’ for their clothes not fitting.

So I started walking, started going to the gym, and I discovered My Fitness Pal somehow, and I started counting calories. I walked, A LOT. I have a bum right knee so jogging and skipping give me a lot of trouble (except I want to wear a knee brace the next day) so I walked. I remember one day I walked 3 hours at a stretch. Interestingly, I had malaria, I’d just come back from a number of trips rolled in one, so I was exhausted. But I clocked about 19 kilometres that day, and over 26, 000 steps.

That’s true, I got a pedometer (step counter) too – Accupedo; this I downloaded on my phone. Can I just say that calorie counting outside Nigeria is a lot easier for me? Simply because there’s a lot more labelling on foods and so it’s easy to scan bar codes and just move on. Here I have to estimate, but I’m getting the hang of that too.

Here’s the thing, and this probably differentiates me from a number of people on a fitness journey – I still ate (and eat) everything I like, but in moderation. And I work hard to stay under my calorie limit per day. I’ll give you an example. So I have a 1200calorie limit per day yeah. I can have a snickers bar during the day, but because that’s 242kcal, I know that I have less than a thousand left for the whole day. Plus, I know that eating it just before I go to bed is a bad idea, better to eat it in the morning and walk/work it off somehow during the day. Also, the day I eat a snickers bar is the day I must go to the gym. Get my drift?

I think I went for 70 days straight, calorie counting and sometimes these days I don’t count anymore. But I am unconsciously conscious of what goes into my mouth, and whether I need to balance it out or not. E.g yesterday I had a bottle of schweppes (my first in weeks) which is 100kcal, I had moimoi and garri with milk in the morning (I was craving that), and I had coconut rice with cantonese chicken for lunch. I was still well under my 1200 calorie limit but I went to the gym, clocked just under 600kcal with my workout, and had a fruit platter for dinner. So by the time I clicked submit for the day, I was good. Very good.

Then I had cause to go to Lagos a lot and so a friend would take me to the National Stadium, and I picked up boxing. All I can say is, don’t look for my trouble, I can fight now! I also attended gym classes wherever I could find them in whatever city I was in. Lol… There are videos on my Instagram that are as painful as they are oh-so-effective!

By June,  the compliments started rolling in. Which was great because I wasn’t seeing any dramatic changes yet, but I wanted the compliments to continue, so I kept on. More like I was feeding off them; some days it was the motivation I needed to keep going on.

Can I say a big God bless you to my mom as well? Each time I visited, she would cook me veggie heavy meals, and stay up with me while I worked out. God bless you maman!

I bought a Polar I think in July when I went to England, and tested it out with a one hour walk/jog under the intense summer sun. I think I clocked over 1000kcal with that, and I fell in love with it! You won’t find me working out anywhere without my Polar now.

Another thing I did? I danced! Oh boy I love dancing, and when I found out how much I lose per dance session, my feet wouldn’t stay in one place! I also got a nice selection of high energy songs that I listen to while I work out especially at the gym – can’t entrust my fitness or energy levels into someone else’s hands please.

It’s been a long time from that week in April, and I’m officially 12kg lighter, and a size 10. My statistics have changed dramatically too, and I’ve recently sent off a whole suitcase of traditional attires (some of them dating back to 2010) off to be refitted because I’m swimming in them!

Are you trying to lose weight? I’d say moderation over cutting out foods completely, and no, do not work out EVERY day. Your body will break down sooner than later, and it is simply unsustainable. Find stuff you love to do, and increase the intensity as you go. Eat the things you love to eat, but in moderation or as rewards to yourself. Otherwise you’ll get tired too soon, and start to pile it back on. There was a time when I told myself I could only have a soda on an international flight, so I looked forward to those.

Also, acknowledge there will be some bad days, and it’s ok. There was the day in New York (this September) I was so tired and hungry I had stir fry with all sorts of things on brown rice, then I had a slice of chocolate cake with some cream, and I went to bed immediately after. Kai! I felt so guilty the next morning, you’d think I’d killed someone. But, I just picked up with breakfast, and tried to do better that day.

More important, and I’m afraid this is one of the cliché tips, look at your body. Like, stand before a mirror, and look at yourself. The bits you want to change? Look at them long and hard. And then work towards the picture of them you would rather look at.

I have 8kg more to lose (because I want to convince myself that it is possible for me to be that size), and hopefully, the next time I ever write about this journey, there’ll be a photo of rock-hard abs to boot.

Mwah!

First off, how una dey? How are you wrapping up your year? Nicely I hope… I saw something recently that said even if it doesn’t look like it now, keep working at it. So, keep working, that breakthrough is closer than you think!

So what are we on about today? Marriage. You know, the concept of getting joined traditionally, in the court of law and before God and then spending the rest of a lifetime with a spouse? The one with the wedding day and two dress changes, and the traditional wedding with two or three outfit changes? That one.

According to our ‘societal norms’, there’s an age period where it becomes acceptable to bring a guy home/take a lady to meet your folks. Never mind that leading up to that age (for the ladies especially) you’re not supposed to even recognize that males exist! Lol.

There is also the age when your family members (nuclear or extended) start to drop hints and prayers all over the place, about the ‘person God has designed for you’, about ‘everyone not being perfect’, about ‘not being too picky because all men/women are the same’, about ‘slowing down with work because the clock is ticking’. Hian! The age where every wedding you attend you hear things like, ‘the next one is your own’, ‘go outside and meet people’, and my personal favorite, ‘why are you standing with your cousin na, people will think he’s your boyfriend’… Lol! Thank God for families!

So, I’m female, and will write from that point of view. Ok? In the last 24 hours, I’ve heard the most horrible stories about some married folk I know, and I will give lean details about three. All of them have children, either boys and girls or single sexes. One of them hasn’t seen her husband in a little over two years, and he’s left her a mountain of debt so she has to fend off creditors apart from take care of the home. He’s alive, and well, not just home. Another one buried her husband who committed suicide in front of her children while she was at work. He was a chronic gambler. The third one took great pleasure in expressing whatever frustrations he felt from his job through his hands, on his wife. The first (and only time) one of the children clung to him to stop the beating, he landed that child in hospital from the transferred aggression.

Now. I know all men are not like that, matter of fact for each of these horrible stories, I have at least 5 of homes that are great, growing in love and grace. Are there days when one spouse might want to wring the neck of the other from vexation? Of course. But that’s where it ends. Are there days when they might not even speak because one person is that upset? Of course. But they always come back together, either at bedtime or the day after, and they keep on loving and learning each other.

There was a story on social media recently about a man who slapped his 28 year old wife and she fell down the stairs, sustained fatal injuries. The end. Apparently he had been hitting her for a while but she was advised to ‘endure, stay and make the marriage work, not bring shame to the family’. Well, except there’s a chance for that in heaven, that’s that isn’t it? And it isn’t just the men being violent, I’ve heard of females (know a couple) who would draw blood from their spouses. Na wa.

Sometimes I’m not sure to be honest, is it that our generation has been tainted by the content we’re exposed to or families back in the day were better at hiding domestic abuse from their children? Is it that our parents came from a school that didn’t see divorce as an option or our generation is more interested in putting away than working at things? I don’t know.

Once upon a time I belonged to the school of thought that said that a spouse who would end up being violent would have shown signs during the courtship/dating period etc. But I’ve heard of a saint who turned devil the night the ‘I Do’s’ were said! They’d been dating like 5.5 years!

I don’t know where I’m going with this to be honest but if there’s anything I’m even more convinced about now than I was before, there’s no rush. It will happen. I’m also doubly convinced that enlisting the help/wisdom of God, the creator of all men (and women) in saying yes to that man or woman is the way to avoid becoming a negative statistic.

Light, love, and God’s great blessings!

At the end of May I was inducted into the highly coveted Nigerian Leadership Initiative (NLI), along 26 other truly inspiring young people. I keep saying of the weekend we spent at Epe Hotel and Resorts that I was challenged, inspired, challenged, inspired, you get the drift right?

I think that weekend deserves a full post in itself, and I will get to it I promise. Before then however, let’s talk about this invitation I received. It was in June, a card sent to me through our Alumni Officer inviting NLI to dinner with the Indian Ambassador to Nigeria, Ambassador A.R Ghanashym. We all confirmed attendance, and on the said day, congregated at his beautiful residence somewhere in Maitama.

For starters I was super excited because a dress I’d not been able to wear since 2012 fit (I will write about my weight loss soon too, don’t worry), and so my ‘self-love’ levels were peaking like no man’s business! Got in, met associate members I didn’t know before, and in chatting with Aisha Augie-Kuta, learned that eating a handful of almonds is akin to taking aspirin. Who would have thought?

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The chicken samosas were everything! For my main I stuck to closest to familiar with the … and for dessert I tried the icecream. It was actually lovely! Indian food always wins doesn’t it?

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Starter was a lovely avocado salad, and the wrapped thing is fish cooked in leaves… so imagine moimoi where beans is exchanged for fish.

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Mr Yinka Oyinlola, CEO of NLI and the Indian Ambassador

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Totally here for the naan!! Then there was the chicken curry and chickpea vegetable thing that was a little odd-tasting, but quite nice!

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Three sauces… one curry, one beef, and the third was a vegetable cream with nuts. Yes, I tried everything!

The Ambassador is a very funny, down-to-earth man, so much that I didn’t know he was the one we were gisting with; somewhere in my mind I was expecting an announcement and then he would come down a flight of stairs or something (I know, my mind is most active), but then I asked someone where he was and she was like, that’s the person you’ve been chatting with na! Smile.

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He told us so many stories too! First off, he and his wife are career diplomats, and his wife is currently India’s High Commissioner in South Africa! He said they met former President Goodluck Jonathan at a function and GEJ asked them how many megawatts of electricity they generated between them because they defined ‘power couple’. Lol!

There was also serious talk, with the Ambassador admonishing us to dream. He said it so many times, that we had the opportunity to dream and so not to deny ourselves of ambitious dreams. And to work towards actualizing those dreams because we could, if we put our hearts to it and worked hard. He spoke about traveling within Africa and knowing from his interactions with a lot of people that Nigerians are intellectually superior to any other country on the continent. I scrunched up my nose at that but hey…

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Sharing a smile with Chairman of the APC Youth Forum and fellow NLI associate member, Barrister Ismail Ahmed

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We were joined by Blossom Nnodim! More smiles!

When we were done with dinner, he introduced us to his staff, from the chef to the butler, to his personal assistant. He told us about caring for staff and how their output/productivity was greatly enhanced just by knowing they had an employer who not only cared about the work they put in, but cared about them too. He said (and I quote), “Care. Find out about the people who work for you. The inane things – birthdays of their family members and make sure to send wishes on those days. Let them feel special, because they are.”

Food for thought there ey?

Then he told us about the (now late) President of India, Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam (A.P Abdul Kalam for short), and used his life and the story of the country’s first missile launch to explain true leadership.

He also told us of Devi Prasard Shetti, a globally renowned cardiac surgeon who is as famous for his brilliance as he is for the scheme he personally designed for financially disadvantaged people in India to access a quality of healthcare that would have been beyond their reach. Shetti’s heart hospital Narayana Hrudayalaya is the largest in the world, with a 1000 beds, more international patients than any hospital (their surgeries cost one-tenth of what it would cost in the United States), and performing over 30 heart surgeries a day. Wow!

Shetti wanted to become a heart surgeon from the time (as a child) he heard of the first successful heart transplant. As an adult, he always believed that healthcare could be cheaper, and he kept on thinking about it. The thought birthed Yeshasvini, touted as the world’s cheapest comprehensive healthcare insurance scheme. Farmers pay what comes to about 20 cents a month, and are covered totally. There are over 4 million people signed up to this scheme, which has earned Shetti many awards all over the world.

I was so inspired! I decided to do a bit more reading on the guy, and found this video of a TedTalk he gave I thought you would enjoy.

 

We took lots of photos, presented the Ambassador a gift, and then it was home time! I had a truly exciting, inspiring evening, thank you NLI! When’s the next dinner?

All of us!

All of us!

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Our gift to the Indian Ambassador. He loved them!

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We must have taken a million photos that night!

Why hello Mr Gandhi!

Why hello Mr Gandhi!