Posts Tagged ‘Digital storytelling’

How’s everyone doing?

Good weekend? Ready for the week? This is going to be one of my busiest but I thought I’d take a few minutes and say a big hello to everyone, play catch up a bit.

So my niece and nephew were ill, one had malaria and a tummy bug, and the other one had a cold that stretched at least two weeks, and she still had it after she gave it to me. We spent small time in the hospital, and that’s where the story about blood donation came from (I published that recently).

I’ve also done a bit of local travel, looking forward to when I can take a proper holiday… I owe myself two – one for my birthday and the other because life is short and we should take time off to rest and be quiet when we can. Amen?

God dey.

Work is alright… Moved into a new office in June and we’re getting settled in really nicely. Really thankful to God for that, and the immediate possibilities I see for expansion.

Still on work, got two interesting referrals recently, a stark reminder that clients, no matter how little, matter and an excited client post your custom might make a difference as much as 24 months after. I’m really thankful for the referrals, and now just need God’s help to ensure that we beat the standards we’re being held to. Amen?

On Saturday I was privileged to speak at my church’s business/entrepreneur summit, and I drew my topic/talk from some work I’d done for a client recently. I spoke on minding the gaps and facing the direction of travel. Corny I know but it was a good opportunity to fuse my love for trains with my experiences as a student, an employee, and now an employer. It was interesting for me to talk about some of the lessons I’ve learned, and how each step leads to the next, and the next, and the next. It was also very instructive to talk about the place of God in business, and the mistakes I’ve made simply because I ignored the still small voice telling me no. I had a good time, and I’m grateful for the opportunity.

What else? I’m happy. Sweet baby Jesus this daughter of God is happy. I am joy-like-a-river, peace-like-a-fountain, love-like-an-ocean brand of happy. Such a beautiful feeling. Everything in my life; experiences, joy, sadness, mistakes, successes; everything that I have seen has prepared me for where I am now, and I am thankful to God for His many blessings and precious gifts. There’s a new mercy every single day! And I’m loving it!

Finally, I need to get back in the gym. Don’t know why I’m typing this instead of renewing my membership but yeah, this child needs to be back in that place where more calories are burnt than piled on. Yep. This week is out of the question sha, and I’m not bothered in the least what you think! *sticks tongue out*

Finally finally, lol. My nephew moves to reception next school session! Whoop! He’s officially a big boy now! Interestingly, he’s slowly outgrowing the millions of hugs and kisses I drown him in, and he’s only four! I thought they didn’t start all of that till much later? Arrrrrghhhh! Bring back my baby! *sad face*

Finally finally finally, I got a birthday gift yesterday… I know o, this is still for the birthday that passed in May. Is the Lord laying it on your heart to send me a pressie? Harden not your heart biko!

How have you been? Are you keeping okay? Are you doing well? Want to share? Please do!

Mwah!

PS: A song in the back of my mind for a few days now has been “we are h-a-p-p-y, we are h-a-p-p-y, we know we are we are sure we are, we are h-a-p-p-y!” (If you went to primary school in Nigeria this should ring a bell… or two… or three… or four… I’ll stop here)!

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.

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!

IMAG2314

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!

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!

Fola (@LitaofLagos) is one of my favourite people online, and late last year we had the good fortune of meeting and working together on a project for Heinrich Boll, the first Book Sprint in Nigeria. Basically we were holed up in a house/hotel somewhere in Maitama, and in seven days went from nothing, to a full book, printed! It was a most amazing experience, and a privilege for me to share time, space, and energy with the wonderful people I worked with on that project.

Fola is lovely, loads of fun, and very REAL. Yep, she’s one of those people I know who are without airs, and what you see is literally what you get! I’m more than thankful she got the all-clear, and I hope you enjoy her entry!

My name is Fola Lawal, and friends call me Lita. I live in Doha by day and Lagos at night. I work as a Senior Project Analyst at my Qatar organization; I also run a personal business as a social media brand-integration marketer and manager for companies and individuals, helping to design effective social media campaigns. Also, I manage a book-publishing business while also developing ideas for, and encouraging my social media folks in, saving the world—one tweet at a time.

2015 started slowly note for me, but picked up pace gradually. I had to decide, with my partner (who, on the other hand, was resigning from the corporate legal sector), whether to go back into paid employment after my few months as a full-time entrepreneur. Eventually, I was able to secure a paying job that still allowed me time to focus on my businesses.

But I was to have a more worrisome time in the course of the year. During a routine medical checkup, my doctor advised me to go for an immediate mammogram as she could feel lumps in both my breasts. Although the scan results were reassuring, my experience during that scary period improved my attitude to, and outlook on, life.

I spent a part of 2015 sulking at how my world didn’t seem to appreciate my merits; and fuming at the challenges that prevented my plans from materializing. I was also faced with the challenges of settling into a new work environment and, sometimes all of these piled on hard on my psyche—but the Egba woman in me stayed relentless.

And so, I’m grateful.

I’m grateful for my partner, Ayo: who is always there through thick and thin, to share battles and celebrate wins.

I’m grateful for my family: because I couldn’t have had a better support system.

I’m grateful for my friends: all of whom came through when I least expected.

What did I learn in 2015?

  • I learned that, in Nigeria, hard work is not enough to strategically position me for success.
  • I learned that what will be sometimes, will never be.
  • I learned to be unapologetically ME, that no matter how much I try to please others, people are wired to see what they want to see.
  • I learned that some people, trips, lies, books, or parties aren’t just worth their stress value.
  • And I learned that the key to material success is selfishness.

And what will I do in 2016?

  • Sleep less.
  • Love more.
  • Worry less.
  • Communicate better.
My baby girl!

My baby girl!

Yes o! I’m totally with you on communicating better, it’s something I have to learn; very necessary! Here’s to living the baby girl life in 2016!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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. 

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….