Posts Tagged ‘New Year’

“We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.” Max De Pree

Just some quick thoughts about the New Year, what we want to do/be/achieve and how quite a number of us erroneously believe that wanting a thing (even bad enough) is all it takes for us to do/be/achieve that thing.

I found this quote yesterday in the course of fulfilling a committment to an organization and it literally jumped out at me. How do you want to see different if you don’t do different? My dad says it’s insanity to plant corn and pray to reap strawberries. Lol. But really. Think about it.

*Let’s not be like the Nigerian government who want to increase the quantity of rice in the country and decide the best place to plant the rice is on rocks. Without irrigation or watering of any kind, fertilizers, nothing. Yet the plan is to increase the quantity of rice for everyone. Sigh.

So do you need to change a habit, eat better (read as less, lol), sleep for longer (or less), get a hobby (or hubby – gosh I’m so silly); do you need to get closer to God, hit some milestones at work, be a better friend/partner/parent, make money so good you’re not swayed by any of the exchange rates in Nigeria at the moment? Nice!

So, what’s the plan? What are the concrete steps to getting there? In a conversation very early this year I figured I have close to no knowledge of project management and it is something that can smoothen the processes for a number of things I am involved with. So, off I went to register for a course, classes start in a bit.

There are a couple other things I need to work on, sort out, and be better at, and we’re on the road to that. Amen to God’s help and strength, and grace to stay the course.

So, away from me, what are you doing? Better yet, what are you doing different?

Happy New Year.

Sometimes we plan things and they don’t go as we plan – fact of life. Other times we don’t plan things, and they happen – another fact of life. Any other variations to this statement? Don’t think so. 

I’ve got five voices to grace the blog this month, and I’m most grateful to them for taking the time to chronicle their year for you, my glorious readers. Meanwhile, 2017 has to be better, I must write more! Gosh! I miss it!

We kick off the series with a personal friend of mine, Ehimen. He is dependable, a lover of God, and has the most gorgeous wife! God bless you for writing in Mr Wordsmith!

Appreciating the value of Today while it is today

Many men would rather wear a luxury timepiece on their wrists than wear their emotions on their sleeves, especially if those emotions are powerful enough to make them cry. Well, I’ve learned to do both and as someone jocularly noted recently, look well put together while at it. He was referring to the fact that I cried at my own wedding –an occasion for which I was suitably attired, complete with a finely-crafted wristwatch peeking out from under the sleeve of my tuxedo- but I somehow managed to avoid the pictures of me crying going viral, unlike another gentleman who also got married in 2016 and cried like a baby at his wedding.

Why did I cry at my wedding? It wasn’t only because of the profundity of starting to learn the awesome mystery that marriage is, nor was it only because my wife is the walking exemplar of the word “beautiful”. It wasn’t only because my entire lifetime flashed before me in an instant and I was grateful to GOD for the many times He saved me from death. It wasn’t only because I remembered my father who died when I was nine-and-a-half years old and left me in a world where I was told (a bit too early) to “be a man for your younger ones”. Those are small contributors to the whole truth. The whole truth is at that time, my body, soul and spirit sent commands to my eyes to produce tears and I didn’t know how to not yield. I am human.

Men who shy away from being emotional often miss the privilege of having Father Time and Mother Nature tell them what time it is better than any man-made time-telling device ever can. I received a sobering reminder of this truth just a few days before I composed this. The routine of everyday life had stealthily crept into my marriage. You see, “the two shall become one” promise of marriage doesn’t happen instantaneously and can take gruelling work. My wife and I were just sheathing our swords from killing a giant marauder so the lovey-dovey “I love you’s” weren’t being exchanged with the gusto we started off with. I hadn’t done anything major to honour her in public in a long time, which was counter to what I’d learned that good women deserve. I subscribe to this truth King Lemuel’s mother told him about virtuous women:

“Her husband brags about her and says, “There are many good women but you are the best!” Give her the reward she deserves. Praise her in public for what she has done.”

A few nights ago I tiptoed out of bed and went to post on Facebook in appreciation of my wife. If I pulled it off right, it would almost be the equivalent of sending her flowers at work. By the time she saw my post, it was past noon and I wasn’t even at home. However, her appreciation of my romantic effort was muted as we found out that morning that someone very close to us had just died. While my wife was in tears and my mouth was agape in shock, I realized that at the very same time that I was putting up a picture and celebrating my wife on Facebook, we lost someone dear who we’d been procrastinating calling to appreciate. In fact, as I was rifling through the pictures on my computer to pick the one I eventually used to celebrate my wife, I saw some pictures of the now deceased and was contemplating sending them to her, not knowing she had just left this world. Every like and comment we got on that Facebook post was a jarring reminder to love each other and make the most of every moment as we’re not promised the next.

So to those who hide their love and appreciation of others while waiting for the perfect time, this is your wake-up call. Don’t just add this lesson to your “New Year Resolutions for 2017” list; start it now! One thing I’m deliberately doing right now is pouring out my heart into all that I do so that I can be the best version of myself while I have the time to do so. I’m working on a project aimed at reducing the impact of hate speech online and offline in Nigeria so that as a nation we don’t repeat the mistakes that led to the horrific genocide that happened in Rwanda in 1994. That’s my way of showing love to people and helping them stay alive to love others.

A sad thing it is when the sun sets on our lives and those of our loved ones because we failed to seize the day while it was day.

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Thank you for writing in Peter, here’s to a fabulous holiday and an ever greater new year!

 

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’

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!

 

First off, there is a reason why I’m posting this the morning after – the way I felt yesterday morning wasn’t exactly the way I would have wanted to feel when I was writing this so I said I’d wait. And I’m glad I did!

So!! How did my birthday go?

I took a couple calls past midnight, and then afterwards I couldn’t sleep. You know when stuff just makes you think about your life, think about what you’re doing with yourself and how you want the rest of the year to go? Those kinda thoughts? Yup.

Finally fell asleep about 6am, was up at 7.45am when my sister sang happy birthday to me. Promptly pissed off my nephew who wanted to sing first so we had to beg him, and we made up for it by carrying him downstairs to the car. Na wa. Whoever said parents are slaves to children didn’t lie! Not like I’m complaining though, this munchkin has my heart!

Right. After they left I made myself boiled potatoes and egg sauce, and then I walked a mile with one of my exercise videos. I would have used the Brutal Hiit one but my sides and thighs were still super sore from the routine I did on the 19th. Na wa. This #FitFam life!

Had a shower, wore a new dress (very simple and pretty) and then it was off to Sheraton for a lecture from the Commonwealth Royal Society. I made some notes so expect that post in a bit. After the guest speaker was done, I went off to ‘chase money’. Did some work for some guys and how many months after, it just seemed like it was taking a while. Apparently it was God who asked me to go there because the person who was handling my paperwork had gone on leave. And didn’t hand over to anyone. Why? I was out of the country myself a week ago but I was still in touch. Why do people do that?

Anyway, that bit sorted, I went off to two banks to sort some transactions, then it was off to Chloe’s Cupcakes to get bites for the guys at the office. I think they loved the cakes!! Found out later that the POS transaction which I thought didn’t go through, went through. So I paid twice. Will definitely go back there today. Guess what? I didn’t even have a cupcake!

Got to the office, did some delegation (always great to do that, especially when the hands are competent), and then I had a quick, cheerful chat with one of the best bosses I’ve had in a while. I got the biggest compliments ever, that I had lost weight!! Yes! Yes! Yes! I know, normally, I’m annoyed with people commenting on my weight (and Nigerians loooooooove to do that) but abeg, I’ve been working hard for the past three weeks and it was nice that there was any change. Whoop!!

Sped off to a quick meeting which I will sign off on at 9am this morning, and then it was off to meet my sister and nephew at our aunt’s place.

Was nice to play with her children and just catch up with her, and she loaded our car with fruits as we were leaving. Team #FitFam in the building! Whoop!

We went to grab Indian, took it home, sat on the floor and ate it joyfully, and then my nephew insisted I carry him on my back. I did, and he was asleep two minutes later. By the way, my boy’s class have a sports competition on Friday and apparently, guess who’s representing his class? Ahh! Nothing on earth is going to stop me from attending! So excited!

Climbed into bed, took a couple more calls, and then it was lights out. A truly beautiful, fun day. Friday, we turn up!! Like, all the way up!! Massive love to my friends who are coming in from out of town to share that day with me, thank you!!

All through the day people were calling, others were texting, Twitter went crazy, folks put up messages on Instagram, Facebook, everywhere! God bless you guys! By the way, I found (thanks to @MrBankole) another Chioma on Twitter whose birthday was yesterday as well! Talk about namesakes and birthday mates!!

I’m grateful for a new year, for life, family, the opportunities in the offing, the lessons I’ve learned, people I’ve met, everything I’ve been blessed with, and the miracles I see every day.

I remember this day! It was a concert just before the elections! With these two guys (there's one more, Andy), I can confidently look for trouble anywhere!

I remember this day! It was a concert just before the elections! With these two guys (there’s one more, Andy), I can confidently look for trouble anywhere! And it does look like a mugshot!!

Thank you Boss, the one and only Big Mo! Still waiting to come on your show!

Thank you Boss, the one and only Big Mo! Still waiting to come on your show!

Dearest Mimi!! Thank you boo thang!

Dearest Mimi!! Thank you boo thang!

My one and only chekeleke who's flying in for my party on Friday! Love you boo!

My one and only chekeleke who’s flying in for my party on Friday! Love you boo!

Hello brurva!! Lol!!! Only Henry and the rest of the 'family' will understand...

Hello brurva!! Lol!!! Only Henry and the rest of the ‘family’ will understand…

Ha ha ha!! I sacrificed the photo of me for the message Anino wrote because it totally cracked me up! Last year I did the Sky Dive, and this year I think I'm going to climb Kilimanjaro. Hence all the warnings!!

Ha ha ha!! I sacrificed the photo of me for the message Anino wrote because it totally cracked me up! Last year I did the Sky Dive, and this year I think I’m going to climb Kilimanjaro. Hence all the warnings!!

I’m horrible with writing about death, but then I guess everyone is, and at some point or the other in life, we will have to do things we’d much rather we didn’t. Even the death of an enemy leaves a sour taste, talk less of a friend, family member, or in this case, someone I really admired and would have been super privileged to meet.

I watched a TedTalk at the end of 2013 Mr. Dumor gave on reporting stories out of Africa, and he should know, he’s been the face of BBC’s Focus on Africa from the inception of the programme in 2012. Everyday. His talk was so funny! Beyond the laughs, I was totally smitten by his confidence, his eyes, alive with excitement and maybe mischief and I was upset when it ended.

I told myself that I would meet him in the New Year, and even though I didn’t immediately have a plan to do that, I purposed to try.

On the evening of the 17th, I was chatting with a much older friend of mine, and Komla came on. I mentioned I was a massive fan and I wanted to meet him, and this friend said they’d been in the same class at Harvard and sure, he’d facilitate an introduction the next morning. I was super excited, and the only thing that stopped me from insisting on an introduction there and then was the fact that it was a little late, and I was literally on my way home.

And then about midday the next day, I saw on Twitter that Komla Dumor had passed. What??? “Cruel jokers”, I thought, racing to BBC’s website to prove they were wrong. BBC didn’t carry it immediately, but staff were already tweeting condolence messages.

Just like that, he was gone. Aged 41, Komla Dumor passed of a suspected heart attack. One day on TV, gone the next day. The uncertainty that this life is.

I grieved like I had lost a personal friend – because it was yet another reminder that life is short, and we must do whatever we need to do as soon as we can. Grieved all the way to Instagram.

Screenshot 2014-06-02 05.40.16

And so today, exactly six months after, somehow I can now write and bid him farewell, hope he’s in a better place, and tell him he was a shining light for us young uns.

More importantly, I pray for God’s great comfort on his family.

Rest in peace Komla Dumor.

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Today is the last day of 2013, and the end of the #31days31writers project. Whoop! I am more than grateful to everyone who took the time to send in an entry, and for the ones I asked who for one reason or the other, couldn’t. I’m excited that everyone learned something, and blessed that thanks to one platform, I could share the experiences of 31 amazing people. Thank you so much!

2013 has been my most challenging year, I’m not even going to muck about. From losing 4 cousins and an aunty in a road accident, to an uncle, and then my most precious aunty Pat, there have been times when I didn’t know if I wanted to see the next morning. And it’s not like I didn’t lose anyone else, I just stopped counting. Death is cruel, shameless, and without discretion, but it taught me a few things. I learned to make every minute count, to make the effort to keep in touch, to love hard, but also to  know when to walk away.

I learned that acquaintances are plenteous, but friends are few, and to cherish each friendship (and pray to God they return the favour, lol).

I learned firsthand that depression and suicidal tendencies are real, and not just the exclusive preserve of the ‘West’. And I learned that God is bigger. Oh He’s a whole lot bigger!

I learned that I just might have a little issue with replying emails in a timely fashion. And I am determined (and working towards) not having that on my list of things to work on by the end of 2014.

It wasn’t all gloom and doom though (according to Russell Howard) – my dad launched his writing ministry this year with six books, and has since written another three (rockstar), my Boo Boo turned one this year, and at eighteen months is feeding himself (my baby Einstein)! I did quite a bit of travelling this year (for which I am grateful), and there are locked down work trips for the new year already! My mom, big brothers and sister are alive, healthy, prosperous; God is leading us to our place of rest and I couldn’t be more grateful. I love you guys to the moon and back!

My baby channeling the Christmas spirit!

My baby channeling the Christmas spirit! He’s the cutest baby on earth!

I am grateful for Nike Coker (Chief Sista), Francesca Uriri (my sister girl), and my bestie Wumi; friends who have literally become blood. People I would give anything for, people I would lay down my life for (hopefully they don’t ask *smile*); people for whom I am number one (sometimes, anytime, more than one time, lol!), in words, thoughts, and deeds. I love you and I am thankful you were a part of my year.

Now that I’ve covered what I’ve learned and the people I am grateful for, what would I do differently if I could? Nothing. I would say I’d keep all those precious ones from dying but that’s not my decision to make (wouldn’t have happened in the first place if it was).

And, because I can (and it is *cough cough* my blog), I have two resolutions for the new year:

1. Work VERY hard to reply emails/messaging in nothing over 24 hours.

2. Succeed! Big time!

Thanks a million for being on my blog today, and therefore being a part of my 2013. Have an extra productive new year!

Peace, love, and God’s great blessings,

The Fairy GodSister.

2013-11-30 22.31.29

Miss CC!!

P:S – I thought I would do one separate post thanking all my writers and listing all their articles; that story is here.

How did DD and I meet sef? Some little mix up on Facebook in 2008; apparently he served (NYSC) in the same state with my sister, don’t really remember the details. He visited Nigeria (posh kid), and we hung out (do you remember ice cream and moi moi in Chicken Republic Andy)?

When I moved to Birmingham in 2010, Andy showed up and amongst other things, gave me his waterproof jacket (still wear it today), and he introduced me to the lady who took me to The Redeemed Christian Church of God (Covenant Restoration Assembly, Perry Barr), which became my church, my family, and I’m so grateful for that!

Andy is a great guy, we’ve been buddies ever since. He is quiet (sometimes), fun to hang out with, and places such an enviable emphasis on family it is heart warming. He’s a hard worker too, and I’m proud he’s my friend!

4 days to the end of the year, here’s Andy with his #31days31writers submission! 

Random: The bad part about being friends out of maturity or a good heart with people who have hurt you is the fact that you can never tell some stories without imaginary fingers being pointed at those people or without you appearing to be an unforgiving son of a ‘biscuit’. I have so much to say about the year in review and the first things that crossed my mind were the bad things and tough times, then I remembered I was meant to be writing about the highlights of the year – the hypocritical world called my mind.

I didn’t learn how to play a guitar in 2013, I didn’t learn how to speak Spanish and I can’t even remember my New Year resolutions for the year. I don’t even remember having any because as usual I forget them by the end of April. I think my yearly resolution should be to make a lot of money.  2013 wasn’t the best of years for me, neither was it the worst. One thing I know for sure is that 2013 was a year of lessons. I lost love for one, found it, lost it, before learning what it really was.

Best decision I took in 2013… I took a couple of steps which I had been planning but took me 5years to get off my ass and work on. I moved from the United Kingdom to Nigeria; truth is that felt and still feels so good. A lot changed for me, huge promises and castles that never saw the light of day, people I thought I knew flipped on me like pancakes, friendships were lost and some were rekindled.  Importantly I was able to lose 8-10kg at some point thanks malaria and stress, I finally felt proper fit until my mother visited me with multivitamins and “akamu” and ordered me to start eating.

I’m grateful my for family and friends; the new ones, the old ones, the fake ones and those who have stuck by me through thick and thin. I finally do not feel like a stranger in a foreign land, I found peace and realized certain things can only be experienced and not told. Principally I am happy for the gift of life, an overactive mind, ideas and people who believe in me. It is amazing how much we claim we do not care about what people say or think but one mean sentence stays in our minds for eons, and one line of encouragement can give you a boost to make you feel you can conquer the world.  Bla Bla Bla, just be nice to the next person and be thankful for still being alive, ok?

My name is Andy Madaki, I am an I.T security consultant and a Business Development Manager with Brinq Africa (A CBN approved Payment Terminal Service Provider). I ramble randomly on my blog once every month. That’s the one place where I am most truthful about things you think and experience but won’t talk about. I am Nigerian.

DD!!! Oya o, now accepting applications for a wife for Mr Eligible Bachelor here! How many yards is your wife material?

DD!!! Oya o, now accepting applications for a wife for Mr Eligible Bachelor here! How many yards is your wife material?

Chris! Chris! Chris! My sparring partner, CEO of 23rd century creative agency Kwirkly, and someone who I win e-v-e-r-y-t-i-m-e we play Ruzzle.

When I asked him to write, for some reason he said I was giving him tension, please ignore him. But he sent this in, and for that I am grateful. He also knows that there is no way his last paragraph is going to happen!

Come to think of it, we’ve done well with this #31days31writers project haven’t we? It’s day 23 and we haven’t missed a day!

Dear Chioma,

Here’s the thing about New Year resolutions: they are wishful thinking that rarely get fulfilled. We all know this, yet we continue in this ritual. Only weeks into a new year, reality slaps you in the face and replaces your wishful thoughts, hands you a memo about being practical with your head. And then, you look into the three-hundred-and-something days ahead and see a stretch of days waiting to be marked by victories and failures, elations and tensions, certainties and uncertainties, heart breaks and happiness.

On this stretch, 2013 has been one heck of a terrific and amazing year for me. It came with its own twists and dramas that have f***d with my head in extraordinary ways. (Don’t edit my word, Chioma! Don’t look for my trouble). I’m glad about the experiences. Above all, I’m grateful for the lessons.

The company I founded (Kwirkly) marked its first year. When I look back about the journey, I’m humbled and proud of the few victories recorded. I’m grateful for what we’ve achieved and especially to those who were there when things got tougher. (Why did you limit the words to 600, ehn? I feel like listing names). With this came the lesson that you don’t need all the resources you wished for to get going. With an idea, a strong will to execute it and a crop of believers, you can keep going. And the results have been impressive. It feels rather insignificant but the lesson is necessary for other areas of life.

There are always lessons to be learnt. I’ve learnt to be careful with people. I’ve been told that I’m too trusting and have a tendency to ‘overindulge’ people, and that has landed me in trouble. I found out too late that it’s out of fashion to trust people too much and be nice. I’m still not sure about it but, yeah, one has got to be careful. Also, there have been lessons around friendship, business, family and forgiveness.

I’m glad that I followed my intuition and took plenty risks. I have no regrets about them.

There’s a lesson in knowing that, despite the pursuit of greatness, success or whatever, the best moments are those little times shared with people who matter and with people who deserve your best. I’m grateful for old and new friends and rekindled friendships, and those that I bully on Ruzzle. *wink*

What I would I do differently? If that relates to the experience of the year, I guess I would take more time to reflect on decisions before making them. If it relates to the future, then I’ve got to take more giant risks, invest more in meaningful relationships and have more fun.

Oh, about me? I’m Chris Ogunlowo, the Founder and resident prankster of a small advertising agency called Kwirkly. I carry a Nigerian passport.

Just so you know – to pressure me to do stuff is a guarantee that I won’t do it. It works best when you hold me, find those words to tickle my ears, get goofy and in the middle of it, slot in your request and rapidly, I will answer you. Shikena. It will be like magic. But you didn’t know that before so I will let it pass.

Can I rest now, Chioma?

www.chrisogunlowo.com

@AlooFar

chris-ogunlowo

Wahala Chris… Wahala wahala wahala!

Day 6, and the whole world is paused at the death of the icon Nelson Mandela; I drew up a list of ten things you should know about the legend earlier today. My heart weeps, because there is no one waiting in the wings to take his place. Africa is littered with leaders who have buried their umbilical cords under their Presidential lodgings and so must die there. Sad. Shame.

We celebrate Madiba today (and forever), and today I also celebrate my friend Saratu!!

What I am most grateful for: Stability

My name is Saratu. I am a Nigerian and I work in civil society.

The year began suspended in the air, and ended with feet on the ground. At the start of the New Year, the non-profit I moved to Abuja to work for had just lost funding. I packed for home in Lagos with the largest of my suitcases, downloaded my e-ticket and confirmation number onto my iPad, preparing to be gone for months. I was weary at the thought of looking for work again, just a year after I had secured employment. I had begun to rue an opportunity I had turned down a few weeks before at another non-profit that was smaller than the one that I worked for then. The year loomed ahead, like a Transylvania mansion with dark tinted windows and no sign of who or what was inside. January felt much longer than just a few weeks.

In retrospect, I can see that this instability was a running feature of my year. I did get called back for some contract work for two-weeks at a time, and had no idea what I would be doing at the end of each month. For this I went back to Abuja in February, and tried not to worry too much about the fact that rent would soon be due in an apartment that was cheap but afforded me little privacy. A man who I was hoping to work for at some point made aggressive and unwanted sexual advances at me in his office at two o’clock in the afternoon when I went for an appointment; this was to happen two more times with two other men within the space of a few months. There were so many times this year that I felt unsafe and unsure of my future and my worth. I have thought often of how easy it was for me to no on all three occasions, and what opportunities I passed up each time. There was one thing that I knew for a fact, however: I am incredibly lucky for the privilege to afford my principles and morality.

Mercifully, the uncertainty did not last as long as I feared. I did get another job, and the first day fell on my birthday in June. I did not renew my rent at my old apartment; instead I moved to an apartment down the road from my new office that was bigger, in a better location, and wholly mine. Before I moved, though, I stayed at friends’ houses for about six weeks while the estate managers completed their renovations. To think that all these people were new friends who I knew for no more than a year makes them all the more incredible. Half the year had gone before I felt the ground beneath my feet had stopped shifting.

Stability, I feel duty-bound to add, is never permanent, and I am not even desirous to make it so. Happiness and sadness are also not permanent feelings. It is important to acknowledge the value of progress and the heat that moves us, to anticipate the next level in which we will find ourselves. But today, I write unashamedly in praise of the peace and quiet, that beautiful moment of silence when all the generators in your neighborhood have been turned off. I will move again, perhaps even soon, but there is nothing better than looking around and seeing that nothing is missing, that everything is just as it should be.

I’m well!!

Notice what formed the background? This is an incredible picture!!

Notice what formed the background? This is an incredible picture!!