Whatever could be wrong with exposure?

In September 2014 I attended a service with my girl Tokes at her church, Trinity Chapel, in Barking. It was a special service, and Prophet Gilbert from Ghana was the guest minister.

His topic was “Exposure: good or bad?” and he opened up stories from the bible in ways I didn’t know were possible. See ehn, it’s one thing to read the Bible, and another thing to be given a clear/different understanding of the words you’ve read.

Anyway, let’s get on to the message right? Prophet Gilbert started by saying, “before Adam and Eve ate the fruit in the Garden of Eden they were naked and they knew it. It was the exposure (their eyes being ‘opened’) after eating that brought shame.

In the same way, sometimes we would lead better lives if we hadn’t become ‘exposed’ to certain things/new knowledge. Some things we become aware of destroy us. What have you suddenly become discontented with because you’ve been exposed to something else? How many spouses/partners are no longer happy with what their partners bring home because they’ve heard so-and-so have it better?

Enlightenment should bring development/improvement, not the comparison that leads to destruction. The Bible says that, “comparing themselves with themselves, they became unwise”.

Now, on the flip side, when Adam and Eve became exposed, they covered themselves. Are you covered? What are you covering yourself with? How do you dress?

Prophet Gilbert talked about the image of a person being the sum of their appearance, behavior and communication. Are these three things in your life saying three different things? Are you professing Christianity with your lips but appearing/behaving like a devil?

He also talked about ‘knowing ourselves’ and how people not knowing who they are and what they are made of being the reason they are swayed by every wind of doctrine.

He ended his very thought-provoking message by saying that in five years we’d be products/mash-up of what we’ve read and the people we’ve interacted with. Who are you hanging with? What are you exposing yourself to? Who are we allowing to influence us?

And then we prayed. Sweet baby Jesus we prayed! For direction, for blindness from the exposure that will derail our destinies, for the strength to say no to the wrong influences, we prayed ladies and gentlemen.

I had a great time in the service, and I’m grateful I was there. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this, and I pray that we receive grace to do as we have read. Amen!

Have a great rest of the week!

All in a week’s work

Let’s start from Sunday, and the confusion/relief/strength I felt after Saturday. What did I do with it? Eat, sleep, hang out with my friends, and about night-time, I realised there was something wrong with my body. I was literally shutting down.

Monday morning I had lost every sense of taste and smell. I woke up exhausted – like I don’t know how I carried out all the chores I had to do. Ended up in Lagos and had to change hotel rooms because the air conditioning in mine stopped working. It will be a long time before I book a hotel room on DealDay. A very long time.

Tuesday I was done with wearing makeup; that’s how sick I felt. Struggled through my meetings, satisfied a pizza craving, and got back into Abuja in the evening, about close of business time. Went straight home, and slept. Did I mention that I was sweating profusely the entire day? Even in air-conditioned spaces, I was literally dripping of sweat. And regardless of how much fluid I took, my mouth felt very dry. For once I didn’t look out for anything worth writing about on the flight, as I am wont to do. Didn’t miss the man who came out of the toilet on the plane and the air hostess asked, “did you flush?” The question was loud enough for me to hear, but it was the answer that made me chuckle, even in my sickness. The man responded, “are you saying I am a bush man who cannot flush a toilet?” I dozed off after this, but I can imagine that he said a bit more, from the tone of his voice.

Struggled through work on Wednesday, don’t know why I didn’t listen to the children of God who told me to stay home. Work couldn’t wait – there’s so much to get through! Left the office early though, and it was home to sleep.

Woke up on Thursday still feeling pretty exhausted so I went to run some tests. Results at the end of the day said I didn’t have malaria or typhoid or anything like that. I’d spent Wednesday night talking to a doctor friend of mine, and we both agreed all the symptoms I had were the effect of stress/exhaustion. I agreed to slow down, a lot. Ah, I went to a meeting in the evening with a potential client/mentor, and not only had he put in a word of recommendation for me somewhere other than what I was meeting him about, I met someone I’d only ever heard about before! Whoop!

Friday morning. I woke up early, Happy. Stronger. Nostrils were still blocked but I felt considerably stronger. Went to work, hung out with ‘awon goons mi’ afterwards, and was in bed before 11pm. Happy.

Saturday – day didn’t start till 1pm when I had a meeting with a client, and another meeting at 5pm with two people who I’ve just given a week’s contract to do some stuff for us. Really excited, and looking forward to the greatness they will produce. Went grocery shopping afterwards then went straight home to continue playing with my darling nephew.

I’m writing this on my bed – had a good time in church, gorged myself on this lovely bread I bought yesterday (#FITFAM I’m sorry), and trying to get through some writing tasks. So far, so good. Not leaving this house today.

I learned a few things this week –

1. God is the healer of the body, and the saviour of the soul. And He works overtime for me.

2. At the end of the day, you’ve only got yourself. People exclude themselves from your times of need for different reasons, and you exclude others intentionally for other reasons. Either way, the only person who is 100% in the know and on your side when things go south (apart from God), is you.

3. Sometimes the best thing to do is to ignore. ‘Unlook’ (according to my brethren on Twitter) – don’t validate ignorance.

4. Take time to rest the body, otherwise it will shut down.

That’s me! How did your week go?

PS – for the people who honored me enough to call/text/get in touch with me one way or the other, thank you. I won’t forget it.

Wrapping up on 2014!

First off, no it’s not yet 2015 where I am, still got like 3 hours to go…so start the party without me! Can I just digress real quick and say I can imagine God is having an absolute laugh with these time zones? I think it is genius (of course it is, God is behind it) even though it is one of the hardest things for me to work through!

Anyway, let’s talk about 2014, wrap it up real quick. 2014 was super interesting for me, like really, really interesting. I remember that at the end of December 2013, I was just relieved the year was over and nothing else could go wrong. The things my eyes saw, dang – I’m sure I was the definition of pain, patience, long-suffering, and endurance. I lost people really close to me to death, accidents, etc., and I remember one day I was at the point King David was in the Bible where it said “he cried till he had no more power to weep”. Like I was so cried out, I couldn’t be paid to produce a tear!

Not saying there wasn’t any joy in the year o, of course there was. Just that balanced on a scale, the unhappy easily outweighed the happy (same way everything this current government can claim it has achieved falls flat on its face when it is mirrored against the insurgency/insecurity plaguing the country). People, events, family, friends made 2013 special, there were bright spots in 2013 but it was a difficult year. It was.

Blessed  be God however who causes us to forget the sorrows of the former years, whose love and mercy cancels out our transgressions and qualifies us of things we otherwise wouldn’t be deserving of in a million years. Yup! That’s the God I serve!

In January I felt such a strength within, felt like I knew exactly what I wanted to do with myself – the heights I wanted to attain, the circles I wanted to roll in, and generally, I projected what I wanted to be writing about now. That inner strength carried me through the entire year.

“From your lips to God”s ears” was more than a saying for me this year – I saw/handled things I didn’t even think I was ready for. Like, at some point I was cancelling/rescheduling holidays because I had to accommodate new work! I woke up one day in April and looked at my calendar, and it made me smile. A big, toothy, cheshire-cat type smile…little did I know God hadn’t even scratched the surface of things He had lined up for me!

From addressing 60+ people from three continents at The Hague, to that speaking engagement at the House of Lords, to starting a teaching career (social media of course) both professionally and to youths at church, to working with a team to write a book in 5 days, it didn’t stop. On, and on, and on. God used people to open up fresh opportunities, to push me, force me to be/do better, to push myself, to keep at it. Dr Titi Banjoko, Justina Mutuale, Emilia Asim-Ita, Jacque Onalo, and all the others, God bless you!

And when I crashed in November, God healed me. I was exhausted, my body was screaming for rest. I remember waking up one day and having a mini panic attack because I felt overwhelmed. But God was there, and He healed me, showed me what/how to get through it. And I’m grateful.

My family? Rock solid. Love em to bits! My baby boy is advanced way beyond his age, speaks clearer than any two-year old I know/I’ve known. God is increasing all of us on every side. Momma finished her PhD this year (at 62, whoop); Grace and Progress Family Chapel was born this year too, and is doing great! God is building His church, and nothing can stand against it! I love, love, love you guys!

To Tokes, who knew that meetings in December 2013 would forge a bond so strong we now feel like we’ve known each other for years? Wunmi, bestie of life and destiny, whatever would I do without you? Our latest iyawo!! To Francesca, my personal support system and human chill pill, thank you for sharing your house and heart with me, for real talk, and for that Sunday in April you prayed for me when I literally fell apart. To my sister Adaora, thank you, thank you, thank you. Chief Sista, I just love you. Yesterday, today, tomorrow, I  do!

To every man of God whose word blessed my life, whether in person or online, God bless you. I never sat under a teaching that didn’t bless me, and for that I’m grateful. Very grateful.

For safe travels in 2014 (and it’s been my most mobile year), for provision, for protection, for healing, for direction; the fact that I’m alive is more than enough reason to bow down and worship.

Here’s to incredible things in 2015!

 

 

One day one travel – how many miles can I go?

Seasons greetings ladies and gentlemen, readers of the Fairy GodSister’s blog. Welcome! To the old-timers and the new readers, welcome! You are the reason I write; where would I be without your company?

So, what are your plans for Christmas? Mine? I’ll tell you in a minute.

Greetings from Texas, where I will be spending the holidays. Any bloggers in Texas? Say hello or something!

Now, how about how I got here? We’ll start from Friday, where I had a production meeting, did all sorts of running around, was frustrated by Guaranty Trust Bank (will update that story or do a follow up one in a bit), and lost my way close to midnight in the name of helping a friend.

Saturday, 7am we were on location to shoot my latest project, six short pieces on indigeneity, religious freedom, and belonging. I promise you can have a look when it’s ready! Lost an earring, somehow managed to spoil my HTC, but we had a lovely shoot and I’m really grateful to the cast and crew. Really grateful.

Got home about 9pm, entertained a guest till 11pm, then bedtime. Did I mention I’d been invited to Lagos for a meeting on Sunday? A meeting I couldn’t get out of. So it was off to the airport first thing in the morning. Drove to the airport, caught my Air Peace flight. It was alright I guess, nothing extra. Except for the silly man who wanted to pee just before we landed and started yelling at the hostesses when he was told he had to return to his seat. Silly, silly man, with all his “do you know who I am” foolishness. Yuck.

Insert GSD. Big smile.

Meeting was incredible – great minds, even greater ideas, and the outline of a lot of work that God wiling will lead to a greater, even more prosperous tomorrow for everyone. Amen.

Race back to the airport, big thank you to the gentleman who drove, and for pleasant company. Of course, my 5.35pm flight was delayed. Aero Contractors would have been renamed Chioma Contractors if they were on time! SMH. Finally boarded past 7pm, so I got in after 8pm. Thank God JT insisted I pack before the Lagos trip.

Monday morning. 22nd of December. Was up at 5.25am to put finishing touches to my packing. Packing? Yes. I’m off to London. I’d checked in, so I kinda took my time. Wrong move. Very wrong move.

We got to the airport area around 7.50am, and the queue stretched as long as it broke my heart. And there’s some refurbishment going on at the airport so what should have been a straight drive was windy, tenuous, and slow enough for me to come down, get someone to drag my box, and we raced to BA’s check-in counter.

There was only one lady left, and I was told there was no way I could get on the flight. I was directed to the manager on duty, and I was still telling her how I couldn’t miss the flight (if I had a pound for every time I’ve used that phrase, sigh) when she said, “I’ve already told them to check you in”. Oh!! Thank you God! So they accepted my first suitcase, don’t roll your eyes but my carryon was in the taxi. So I ran out, got it, and ran back. I must have looked like a really crazy lady, sigh. Anyway, boarded, slept. Woke up to eat, slept. Woke up, struggled through Rio 2 (yup, watched it again), Boyhood, and half of The Hundred Hour Journey, and it was sleep, a sandwich, and we’d landed!

Immigration sorted, and I got in a pod to head to my hotel. To be honest, I decided to stay in this hotel because I’d be able to take a pod there. It’s the only hotel accessible by the pod so why not? Plus it was waaaay cheaper than Sofitel and the Hilton which I’d considered, and for the price I paid, it was really lovely! A couple selfies, trip to Dartford and back, and the loveliest chicken tikka masala after, it was bed time!

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Morning! How did you sleep? Very well for me thank you… Shower, a bit of work, then it was breakfast (my usual omelettes, hashbrowns, beans, and sausages) and back to the airport in the pod. More selfies! And yup, another trip! Last one for at least two weeks.

Hello Austin!! Ten hours after. With their silly airport without free WIFI. We took a couple selfies, popped into Houston, where we had a lovely dinner with my aunt, uncle and cousins – so lovely to see everyone! We gisted, laughed, recounted stories, and now, we’re at another cousin’s house.

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Thank you Lord for strength. For safe travels. For safety, especially on Friday night. Thank you for family, for love, for peace, for togetherness. Super grateful Lord! Thank you for a the beginning of a fabulous Christmas!

#OccupyIbadan – The Chronicle around #KemiTolu2014

I’d promised Tolu Ogunlesi I would make his wedding slated for the 29th of November 2014 and because I am a child of God who keeps her promises, I got into Nigeria early in the morning of the 28th.

A bit about the flight – British Airways was super disappointing biko. The in-flight entertainment didn’t work (at all) the entire flight. After the initial apologies when we first boarded and talk about sorting it out, nothing o, till we touched down in Abuja. Very unlike British Airways.

On the other hand I had pesto pasta and a lovely, lovely pudding. British Airways, you’re forgiven – go and sin no more.

Anyway, so we touched down and one of my bags was damaged. Lord have mercy! One hour, some yelling (I’m sorry), and some sarcasm (not sorry for that), and a filled out damages form after, it was home time. Of course Boo Boo had gone off to school and I missed seeing him.

Rushed out almost immediately with my cabbie, first to the bank, then to run some errands, see my sister, then we sped off back to the airport so I could catch a 4pm flight to Ibadan.

3.30pm. All checked in and waiting to be called to board. 4pm. 4.30pm. 5pm. Flight was finally announced, and we queued up. Next thing I heard some commotion at the front of the line. Apparently, Overland Airways/Airlines (whatever they’re called) said the ‘plane was full’ so we would have to wait for another one that had taken off to Ilorin to come back for us. What!!!!!!!! As in, who does that!?!!!  How did they not know the capacity of the plane and sold tickets accordingly?

I was exhausted, and angry! Sweet baby Jesus I was angry! Everyone was furious, and they almost moved from being physical with the station manager to full-scale violence.

We finally boarded at 7.30pm and of course I dozed even before we took off; I was beat. Touched down an hour later (thank you Lord) and just as I was getting off, power at the airport went out; didn’t come back on for at least 10 minutes. Do you know what the Bible calls ‘gross darkness’? Hian! All I could think of was what would have happened if the power had gone out while we were landing. God forbid. By the way, there were no buildings at the said airport, just canopies. Jesu!

Caught a cab to the hotel, a bit of drama with the cabbie and his car (I ended up changing taxis and paying 700 naira instead of 4000 naira) and as soon as I showered, had dinner, and checked in with my friends and loved ones, it was bedtime!

WEddINg dAY

Woke up feeling really rested and excited – whoop! Took my time with my shower, got ready, and had a cup of tea. Almost had a wardrobe malfunction (that only Mercy and JT know about because God will not allow my enemies to laugh at me) and then it was time to go!

Egghead picked me up, we got Mercy and then it was off to church – but first a selfie!!!

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Duck mouth!

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Selfie in church – don’t worry, service had ended!

Wedding ceremony was great, funny how people just assume they know what a couple want. The Pastor said, “in a few months from now, Kemi will be pregnant”. Yes o, instruction from the Lord ke nan!

Wedding over, it was off to the reception – beautiful, gorgeously decorated hall, sufficient stewards, and really tasty food! I learned something I think I’ll have done at mine – guests were fed as soon as they sat down. There were menu cards, and as soon we sat down our orders were taken and delivered. After we ate, the couple came in and the reception proper started – much better than starving your guests and leaving their eyes alternating between the clock and the order cos they’re anxious for ‘item 7′.

High point of the reception? The daddy/daughter dance – it was everything! Loved it! Kemi was crying though, I can imagine my dad is going to cry too.

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With the one and only Gbenga Sesan!

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With Eggie!!

Courtesy Omojuwa, who defines the word 'LOYAL'!!

Courtesy Omojuwa, who defines the word ‘LOYAL’!!

Loads of dancing, small chops chowing, selfies and co after, it was back to the hotel for a bit more rest. Here’s a bit about my room, told in photos.

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So. This is the name of my room. It was really the Queen’s room, as in Mama Charlie!

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Not bad at all to be honest! Really spacious, loved that I had a bath and a shower in the bathroom, and two air conditioners (ended up turning both off in the night when they threatened to freeze my lungs!) Notice the portrait hanging over the bed? Queen.

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Everything is a decoration. These two coaster sets were on the table. Queen.

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Another wall, another Queen portrait.

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Yet another portrait. Queen.

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Is it me, or the owner of this hotel deserves to be knighted? More Queen!

Still on the hotel, in the morning I rang the reception and asked for a taxi. They didn’t have any so I asked if they could find one for me. Guess the reply I got when I got a call back?

Receptionist: Mr Ojo’s mother is ill so he has gone to Ilesha to see her.

Me: I’m sorry, who is Mr Ojo?

Receptionist: That’s the taxi we wanted to call for you.

They couldn’t just tell me he wasn’t available?

Later that evening, we went out for drinks and a laugh (or two or three depending on what the subject was). I ordered a small chops platter which took forty minutes but came with ‘microwaved-from-frozen’ items.

2014-11-30 00.46.27Sigh.

Ah!! Did I mention there were ladies in the lounge wearing lace? Even saw a couple with gele! Not kidding!

Back in the land of the queen (also known as my room) it was bedtime, with prayers that I’d be up early enough to catch my ride to Lagos! Thank you @Babsburton for the ride, and @seyitaylor for the company!

This was written from the safety/warmth of my lodgings in Lagos, totally grateful to God for safe travels (London-Abuja-Ibadan-Lagos) over four days. Beyond non-functional in-flight entertainment, delayed flights, and bad roads, my trips were without incident. For that I’m super grateful.

It was awesome to catch up with my old friends (too numerous to mention) but also to meet folk from Twitter! People like @BisiOgunwale (Mr President), @Obadayo (helmet), @OkShorty1, and the delectable @LAkintobi!

To @eggheader, egbon of life! Thank you for making sure we were comfortable/taken care of. Thank you.

And to the latest couple, @toluogunlesi and @kemichronicles, congratulations! Welcome to the best years of your lives.

Photo courtesy Eggheader. Isn't the bride just gorgeous!! I love her gown! Simple and oh-so-beautiful!

Photo courtesy Eggheader. Isn’t the bride just gorgeous!! I love her gown! Simple and oh-so-beautiful!

Love ya!

14th – Of sleep, Viko Car Hire, and more sleep!

Greetings from London! Whoop! The weather is chilly, just how I like it (my skin flourishes in cold weather)! Would have been happier if it was a tad less grey and depressing sha, haba!

I’m looking forward to resting from the marathon three weeks I’ve just had, so grateful I can go away, refresh, and come back.

So, want to hear about the trip (as always)? You know, sometimes when I have an uneventful flight I’m a tad disappointed there’s nothing to write about.

Anyway, so about this one; so you know I got home about 10.30pmish, had yahuza, suya (see why all my #FitFam and dieting will not prosper) and drank my medicine (which I couldn’t find this morning by the way). What I didn’t mention in that one was the fact I decided to ‘lie down for a bit’ when I went into my room. Next thing I knew, it was 3.30am. Of course my boxes were unpacked, I’m not even sure I knew where my passport was!

I began putting things into the chosen suitcases, arranged passports et al, and it looked like I would be ready on time. Time check? 5.30am, the time I’d arranged with a taxi company to get me. And there begins the Viko Car Hire story.

The general idea for Viko Car Hire is that you pay N5000 for them to take you home from the airport, and then your return to the airport (whenever) is free, provided you give them 24 hours notice. Nice deal/business model right? Considering rides back to town from the airport cost between 4000 and 6000 (one-way), depending on your negotiation skills.

I heard about them around the middle of the year, and I’ve used them ever since, with minimal complaint. Here’s the thing though: there’s a difference between the dream and then the people to bring that dream to life (a.k.a the Viko drivers).

I personally think they’ve taken on a few devil drivers recently because in the last two months I’ve been yelled at, picked up late, and not picked up at all.

This particular morning, my driver was running late by an hour and so I rang their care line. They said they’d reach him for me, only for someone to call back and say the driver said he’d rung my number and spoken to a man the night before who he told his car was bad so he wouldn’t be able to come take me to the airport. And ‘the man’ (whoever he was) said ok.

Lol. Silliness in the highest – how much more foolish can people get? Here’s everything I did yesterday here. Where is the man he spoke to o!!

I was upset. Sweet baby Jesus I was so upset! How can we be playing this kind of rough play with an international flight?

How did we resolve it? They begged me to come to the airport myself (of course everyone knew the driver was lying through his teeth), and the driver would refund my fare.

Got to the airport (kisses to my sister for dropping me at the junction where I caught a cab) where I got the staff of Viko to sign something saying someone would refund my money. Rubbish.

Boarded the flight, buckled myself in, covered my feet (I can never sleep with my feet uncovered, even in scorching weather), and I slept. Immediately. After speaking to my friends and loved ones of course (if we spoke or chatted this morning you’re in the number, he he he.) In my book of life ke nan.

So I slept til it was food time, somehow I’m unconsciously programmed to wake up to eat when I’m really hungry, and meal over, I slept a bit and then watched Rio 2. Loved it, it was just incredible! Can’t wait to buy it for Boo Boo, I know he will thoroughly enjoy all the singing and dancing in the movie. Cartoons are the way forward jor!

Err, want to see the official trailer for it?

Went back to sleep immediately after, and then the lady beside me woke me to take my snack pack and some juice. And I went straight back to sleep. Next time I woke up, we’d touched down – I’m sure the lady beside me would have been wondering if there wasn’t anything wrong with me! And no, they didn’t forget me on the plane either!

 

#31Days31writers: From Asia with love, SungHee knows family is everything…

What’s most important, on your list of important things? For me it’s family. My folks, siblings and nephew are everything to me, like nothing messes with that! Family to me is like a car service center where you go to just get refreshed. You know how you take your car to a car wash for it to be primed, cleaned, oil changed, tyres scrubbed, everything touched around till you come out all shiny and ready to take on the world? That’s what family (and friends who have become family) do!

And that’s why SungHee’s piece is so heartwarming, and babe I’m sending loads of hugs and warm thoughts to you and all your family at this time. xoxo

My name is SungHee Tark, and I am South Korean. I study Economics at Earlham College, IN, USA.

A lot has happened this year: from starting my year with my best friends in NYC to traveling in Europe and attending an eye-opening conference with a brilliant group of youths in the Netherlands. However, the very event that I learnt the most about the important thing in life was my grandpa’s funeral a week ago.

I was traveling in Europe after attending the conference in the Netherlands in the beginning of the summer. However, my travel had to stop when I got a brief text message from my dad one early morning in June.

“Your grandpa has passed away.”

There was no emotion or anything reflected in the text message. It was around 8’o clock in the morning. I jumped out of my bunk bed in a small hostel in Istanbul to grab my laptop. Then, I booked my ticket to come home in South Korea that afternoon.

It took me 10 hours on the plane and 5 hours on a bus to return home.

I saw all my family members, starting from my parents, sister, cousins, uncles, aunts and even far relatives that I haven’t seen in years all gathered in a hall at home. All of their eyes were wet, and nobody really spoke.

Although my grandpa had spent almost a year in hospital, his death still came as a surprise. Nobody was really ready for it. It came as a shock to me as well, especially because when I saw him last, he had wished me a safe journey to Europe, and I had promised him I would bring him a gift. And I had that gift with me.

I stood there, speechless. I cried helplessly for the whole day that day.

The next day, the air seemed a little different. Everyone in my family seemed to have decided to think that grandpa had gone to a better place. We started comforting each other, talking to the picture of my grandpa, wishing him a safe journey to a better place. We shared good and fun memories with grandpa and planted trees and flowers near his grave in the backyard of his old house altogether. We talked about grandpa but in a very different light. Everyone was still in shock but we focused more on comforting one another because we all knew that that’s what our grandpa would have wanted us to do.

Since then, we’ve been visiting my grandma who still lives in the old house every day, everyone very willingly.

My grandpa has been a very big man to me, always listening, and encouraging, and someone who had supported me through all my hardships and difficult times. Because he was the pillar of our family, his missing presence is being felt greatly. However, I am very grateful to have all my family members in my life. Without them, I don’t think I would be where I am right now and I wouldn’t be able to recover from the loss of our beloved grandpa.

Among all the things I hope to achieve and I am looking forward to in the second half of the year, I wish for my family to achieve what they desire in their lives, keep caring for one another and stay healthy the most.

Because I know I can overcome anything with them in my life.

Sunghee 2

My gorgeous friend SungHee!

SungHee

Hugs!!

 

#31Days31Writers – Paulien’s lesson from 2014? “I have a voice”

Back to the girls and out of Nigeria, we’re off to The Netherlands and a guest post from Paulien Boone, a super amazing lady I met in May! Before I talk about her successfully coordinating 70 delegates from three continents for the Hope XXL Summit (think applications, visas, travel, etc), can I just say she has a new initiative called the Paris Declaration? Check on it!

By the way, The Hague is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve been to, and I can’t wait for the next opportunity to go back!

My name is Paulien Boone, I am Dutch and I work for a nonprofit in The Netherlands. In the first half of 2014 I learned that I have a voice.

The year 2014 started off pretty great: I won a national essay writing contest on fundraising. The essay had to be about connecting with donors, and to my great surprise I won the contest and was awarded the title of “Young Fundraising Talent 2014”. This award did not bring about a big change in my life as a fundraiser for nonprofits, but it did make me realize something else: I love to write.

Even before the start of 2014 I had already registered my own website, the Paris Declaration, which is designed to help readers get the most out of their time on earth and change the world in the process. This is something I’m really passionate about, because I believe that it is possible to have a wonderful life, apply your talents and change the world at the same time.

This belief is not something I developed overnight. It is directly linked to the experiences I’ve had so far, with (mostly young) people deciding to become changemakers. It’s amazing to see what happens when someone discovers new talents while working on something they believe in. They grow as a person and as a changemaker, and it makes a big impact on their lives and on the people around them.

Unlocking this potential is something I want to contribute to, and something I want to learn more about by writing about it and connecting with others.

One of the highlights of the year so far was a couple of days during which I got to do exactly that: connect with an international group of amazing, talented and inspiring young people. They were all participating in a conference I organized in The Hague (Chioma took part as well!). This group confirmed the famous saying to me: our similarities are far greater than our differences. It inspired me to continue building the Paris Declaration to support them and many others. It also gave me the courage to launch it and commit to writing a new article every week. The inspiration brought about by this experience is something I’m truly grateful for.

I’m super excited about the second half of the year, which will be all about supporting readers with valuable content and offering an online home to all changemakers out there. The first six months of 2014 were dedicated to starting up, and now, at halftime, I can reflect and conclude that I can’t wait to grow further. Bring on the rest of the year, I’m ready!

Paulien

Gorgeous!!!

Thank you so much Paulien!

 

 

#31Days31Writers: Yama says you (yes you) look absolutely stunning!

I’m so excited! It’s the 1st of July, and officially the start of the #31Days31Writers – mid year edition! Why am I super excited? Well, so I’ve been all over the place this past month, and by the 26th I wasn’t sure I would still be able  to pull this off. But, here we are, and I’ve got such a spread of voices from around the world I’m mega excited!

We start with my friend Yama! Yama was our designate driver the night we went from The Hague to Amsterdam to see the Red Light District; he’s a fantastic, super brilliant guy, and it’s my privilege to start the month with a voice from Afghanistan!

 

Hi there,

First of let me start by saying: You look absolutely stunning today!

My name is Yama Akbari. Born in Afghanistan, living in The Netherlands. Student and business owner.

What I’ve learned in the past 6 months is that life is so incredibly difficult to plan. I’m not much of a planner anyway, I usually take things as they come. But I decided that needed to change a little (a part of growing up maybe…). Didn’t really pan out the way I wanted. I planned to focus more on my studies, but ended up working way more than studying. Was really planning on staying single, instead got to know someone I really could not let go of. This made me wonder: Why do I suck so badly at planning my life? I came to the conclusion that life is pretty much ‘unplannable’ for the most part when I started thinking about ‘planning’ on a larger scale.

For example, who could ever ‘plan’ the following: a kid born in Kabul in 1990, wanting to leave for the gym on the 30th of June 2014 (should have been studying for his exams, shame on him) would remember; promising a very inspiring Nigerian girl he met at a conference in The Hague, to write a few words for her blog. Crazy right? But kind of beautiful at the same time. Imagine the string of events that had to take place before this moment. Unfortunately, a lot of those events weren’t as joyful as this one, which leads to the second thing I learned in the past 6 months: Andre 3000’s fashion sense isn’t the only thing that’s spot on, his cryptic life lessons are as well. On the Outkast song ‘Ms. Jackson’ he sings: ‘you can plan a pretty picnic but you can’t predict the weather’. I finally got it Andre, you keep on spitting mad truth and dressing dapper as hell!

That brings me to what I’m looking forward to for the second half of this year .. Not really easy to say after all of that ‘life is crazy and unpredictable’ stuff. I am actually thinking about what I’m looking forward to while writing this sentence and I’m realizing that it’s such a blessing that I’m not sure what to look forward to (huge smile on my face right now). All those unplanned moments of joy; that feeling of relief when everything turns out well after a moment of uncertainty, an unexpected phone call from an old friend, coming home and getting served your favorite meal, being the best at something very random and useless, witnessing a cute moment between two lovers, stumbling upon a family of ducks swimming in a pond (I’m running out of ideas..), seeing an old lady feeding those ducks and making sure the weakest one gets as much as the rest. All I’m planning and looking forward to (apart from studying and working, duh) is actually enjoying and appreciating all those little unexpected moments of joy.

I urge you to do so as well. Even if it’s something very unexpected and random. Let’s say: a guy from halfway across the world, at the start of his post on this blog, complimenting you that you look stunning without even knowing what you look like …

 

Yama.

Screenshot 2014-06-30 23.43.40

Another one bites the dust…

Cory Monteith. Michael Jackson. Whitney Houston. What two things do these names have in common? Fame/wealth. Undisputed access to tons and tons of money, acclaim, all that good stuff.

The second thing is illicit drugs/death. Whatever it is they snorted, smoked, injected or inhaled, it led to their death, and very early too. Cory Monteith was 31, Michael Jackson was 50. Talk about lives being cut short.

Exactly one week ago, when I heard Philip Seymour Hoffman had been found dead on the 2nd of February with a needle still stuck in his arm and heroin (a special type called ‘Ace of Spades’) in packets around him, I was sad, then angry, then sad, and angry all over again.

Sad – he died young, he was just 46. He was very popular too, an Oscar award winner, and recently starred in Hunger Games (which by the way I have never watched and don’t think I will ever see because I don’t like fight fight).

Angry – are there not enough examples to prove that drugs are a sure way to die early?

Sad – heartbroken for his family, his wife/partner and their three young children. His parents, and the stigma of being related to the person ‘who died with a needle in his arm’.

Angry – what on earth made him go back to drugs after 23 years of being drug free? Whatever could have entered him all over again? They say his drugs could have been laced with something else. Ok, but why take them in the first place? Why?

I’m sure I could go the sad and angry route a few more times, but I won’t.

Psychologists say anything you do for 30 days becomes a habit – this man had been drug free for at least 8280 days! Then according to a report I read, he started abusing prescription pills, graduated to heroin, and then on to this substance that took his life.

I chatted with someone recently, and he told me the amount of thanks and gratitude he got because he gave him a $5 tip. 5 dollars. Reports say just weeks ago the now late Seymour withdrew $1200 from an ATM to pay for these drugs. $1200 on drugs when the next man is almost throwing a party because he was gifted 5 bucks.

Here’s another reason why I am angry – a child is attracted by the flickering light of a candle, and they want to touch it. Most times we let them because we know once it hurts them that first time, they most likely will not go back to it again. ‘Most likely’ because children have the attention span of a goldfish! Bless them.

23 years after, did he forget? Did he become so wealthy that he felt that the drugs would ‘fear/respect his money’ and not harm him? What was he thinking? The Bible says that the things that are written are unto us for examples.

Just like I wrote the ‘learn from it, don’t be it‘ post when Cory Monteith died, I’m writing again  – say NO to drugs. Say No, and mean it so much that whoever asked you before will be convinced you are not interested. You shouldn’t even be friends with such people in the first place!

RIP Philip Seymour Hoffman.

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