Photography, Reflection

Moments

I am learning that I like to capture moments. You know those moments between a perfect pose and the next? That uninhibited laughter, that knowing smile or chuckle or that random facial expression. These shots are sometimes imperfect because they are like spur of the moment-you-miss-them-when-you-are-not-looking, but I believe that there’s beauty even in this imperfection. Continue reading “Moments”

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Reflection

Taking Stock: 2016 In a Few Words

One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful. – Sigmund Freud

2016 has been an interesting year for me. It was the year I stepped out and did things afraid. I can only see this in retrospect now because they didn’t feel like that back then. I took a lot of steps and made a lot of decisions especially with my career that I had somehow always just wondered about in 2015. Continue reading “Taking Stock: 2016 In a Few Words”

Reflection

Why Won’t You Read?

Recently I have been trying to understand my obsession with books. I can’t remember a time when I did not read; from the worn M&Bs and Harlequin books that made the rounds back in secondary school, to the excited chatter among my friends and I, my taste buds grew and evolved from there to more meaty tales — crime thrillers, hardcore police procedural to sci-fi and everything in between. Continue reading “Why Won’t You Read?”

Reflection

Coming Of Age

So I celebrated my birthday some weeks back, and by ‘celebrate’ I mean I went to Church, went out for lunch and spent the rest of the day indoors with a movie (just like any other regular Sunday) not gyrating my hips to the melodious sounds deftly delivered by a DJ, with cocktails and small chops (Ah… small chops) flowing nyafu nyafu.

Anyway, I remember how upset I was a few days to the big day. Why? Because adulting. Yep, that was the reason for my malaise. Growing up is hard and totally not what I had thought it would be like. Moving away from home, getting a job was supposed to be fun! Adventure! Freedom to do anything. But honestly, it isn’t all that fun. Plus, I never thought I would be where I am right now. Which is… I almost want to say nowhere, but that would be a lie because I am somewhere. And just like a sweet friend of mine said, I may not be where I thought or imagined I would be but there are things in my life that I am proud of. I am not where I used to be, thank God, and I don’t plan on staying where I am today forever.

So I am making a list. A list of various things actually but today, I am making a list of the things I have learned and still learning in my 20 something odd years on this planet. They are a lot so I’m just going to limit them to the few that are sort of defining who I am right now.

  1. Adulting. Yes, this goes without saying. As the years go by, even without wanting it, I am growing older. I have decided to accept this because let’s face it, whether or not I do, it’s going to happen so why worry myself grey when I can just accept the inevitable and rather decide to make every moment count? And like I said, adulting is hard. Lawd! The responsibilities keep piling up. You have to work to buy stuff. That sucks. Gone are the days when you got pocket money to do with as you pleased. Now, you have to break out the calculator because if you spend anyhow, you will suffer for it.

    And then all of the pressure that society places on you especially if you are female. That’s when the pressure to get married starts mounting. You begin to get non-subtle cues every time your mum calls. God forbid you say you want to build a life, build a career, and be sufficient in yourself before you get married. Something must be wrong with you if you are 27 and you are not seriously considering marriage. Sometimes you just want to scream so everyone would just shut up! Including your head too, because somehow, you have let the chatter get into your head and yes, it begins to screw with you.
    So I have decided that I will do what I will do. I will grow. I will build a career. I will live my life and enjoy every moment. I will get married because I want to, not because all of my eggs will shrivel up and die! They will shrivel up anyway so, kini big deal? Procreate, yes, I know. That’s the big deal abi? Meh. Every good thing will come.

  1. Faith. I have learnt that this is a rather sensitive topic with people. Faith is deeply personal and you can only follow the bandwagon for so long. At a point in my life, I began questioning everything I believed and seeking answers for myself. Do I have answers to all of the questions? No. There are a lot of troubling things in the world today that I feel like we just might never get answers to and that’s okay. Does not knowing kill me? Yes, sometimes. But I have decided that you choose to believe whatever you choose to believe. My faith is very important to me and daily I strive to grow deeper and more confident in it, breaking every hold of ‘religion’ and finding answers to all of the questions in my heart as I go along. I want to be able to defend why I believe what I believe. I want to be able to say I am a Christian without it simply meaning ‘I go to Church’.
  2. Losing friends. This one hurts but it is the reality of life. I can count on one hand how many of my secondary school friends I still keep in touch with. Okay, that’s taking it too far back, let’s say friends from Uni. It’s not because I just feel I’m done with these people but we have grown apart. There were people who were a big part of my life and I felt like I would be incomplete or that my life will fall apart if they ever dropped out of the picture, but guess what? The earth didn’t stand still. I moved on, they moved on and that’s the way life is. You can’t hold on to everybody or every friendship you ever had. Some people are in your life for a time and you are in theirs for a time and when that’s done, you all move on. And that’s fine.

    It has been hard accepting that some people are not my friends anymore and I can’t demand some level of commitment from them. I am still learning and if anyone has tips on how to let go, I would most definitely like to hear them.

  1. You never really run short of people around you. You go out, you meet people, colleagues at work who somehow are able to scale the walls and move into Friendsville (was that too cheesy? Lol. Oh well), but there’s a drag, though. The older you get, you begin to feel the need to choose your friends more carefully and that’s really not a terrible thing. You will have fewer friends but they will be people that are totally dependable (as you would be for them), whom you will weather the storms of life with. Now you are a bit more conscious of your time and you don’t want to spend that time cultivating a friendship that isn’t mutually beneficial. Now you are able to smell the BS from a mile away and quite frankly, you don’t want anybody coming to stink up your life. Ain’t nobody got time for that, so take your stink and vamoose. You are now, more than ever, more protective of your space and who you share that with so ‘only serious candidates need apply’.
  2. Being deliberate. This one fully dawned on me in the last couple of months. I guess it stems from me realising that I am growing older and hence I need to be deliberate in all of the decisions I make here on out. The clock is ticking, time is of the essence, and all that good stuff. Realising that I hold the key to achieving that life that I have imagined puts things in perspective. The only person standing between me and being an amazing and successful person is me. So I am learning to get out of my own head and just… do. Be deliberate with career decisions, how I spend my time, who I spend it with, how I use the skills and knowledge that I have acquired yada yada yada.

    I was having a conversation with a friend a few weeks back and she was saying it is not enough to just say “it is well” anymore. What is God helping to make “well”? You have to clearly identify what it is He is helping you with. And then make deliberate efforts towards achieving those goals.
    Stop being vague. Be clear and precise.

  1. Learning to love myself. Now this is a big one for me. I have lived through years and years of self-loathing. At different stages in my life, I have had to deal with self-confidence issues. If I had a dollar for every time I told myself that I wasn’t good enough, I would buy myself a really cool high-end camera and all the usual appurtenances. But I have learned that I only feel that way because I allow myself feel that way. Nobody is going to make me feel good about myself if I don’t make myself feel good about myself (Yep, I see what I did there). If I see something I don’t like, I work to be better. Am I there yet? Far from it but I have decided to love myself, I am enough.

    I will not compare myself to anyone else or feel short changed because I think they have what I don’t. I will be inspired by people’s achievement’s and I will let that spur me into action but I will not hold a pity party for myself where I eat the ‘he/she is better than me ice cream’. I just won’t do it anymore.

  2. And the last one because this is getting longer than I had expected, nothing lasts forever. I remember back in Uni when I was getting all of the bad grades and I told myself that I wasn’t intelligent and I might not amount to much, I thought that phase would never end but it did. It came to an end and I went to law school and passed the bar in one sitting. And I have moved on from there to do other things. Nothing lasts forever. Situations come and they go. Challenges come and they go. Some might last longer than others but they would surely end. My new* motto is ‘No matter how bad the shit smells, the stink shall eventually fade’.
    Learn what you need to learn, push through and move on. It would be difficult as hell but move you must. You aren’t going to last forever anyway, so, go figure.

So in the face of adulting, losing friends and everything life throws at me, I have decided that I will learn, I will grow, I will move on when necessary and more importantly, I will not lose my sense of wonder.

 

* I totally just came up with that right now. I will sha enjoy the nice feeling of having created that even if it’s short-lived. Lol

Image: pixabay.com

Lagos Chronicles, Reflection

Minimum Wage and Moving

Transportation is one of the major problems the average Nigerian living in Lagos faces. It is right up there with electricity. This informed my decision to move. I was living on the island and working at Ikeja. This meant that I had to leave my house super early (as early as 5.30 am) if I wanted to make it to work by 8 am.

Now, the sad part was the amount of money I had to part with as transport fare. Initially, I had to spend 400 naira to and 550 naira from work daily. That amounted to 950 naira; 50 naira shy of a thousand. In one day. On transport. Hian!

Then I started following a neighbor in the mornings. He would drop me off at Costain where I would take a bus for 200 naira to Ikeja. Although, I still had to pay 550 naira coming back which would then amount to 750 naira. That was still too much, to be honest. Not to mention the hours of mind numbing traffic I had to endure; I’m exhausted when I get to work and completely useless when I get back home. Now that’s no way to live, no? So I decided to move. And getting a place to stay in Lagos is no walk in the park. So I decided to move in with my friend and her mum at Ikotun, thus saving me money for rent that I could not afford. I had inquired about the route to Ikeja and if it was better because I really wanted to avoid a situation of “from frying pan to fire”. And luckily for me, it was. I could leave the house at 6.30 or 6 (because the road could be unpredictable) and still make it to work on time. Now you can NEVER try that if you have to leave from the island.

So I moved last weekend and on Monday, I left the house at 6.20 am and got to Ikeja along at 6.50 am. The road was so free, I couldn’t believe my luck. And the sweetest part? I spent 150 naira to get to work that day. How about that! Now I spend 250 naira to get back home and that’s a total of 400 naira. Comparing this to what I was paying two weeks ago, I was in heaven. It is such a relief, a breath of fresh air. I can hear my pocket thanking me. I am excited because I don’t get paid nearly enough to spend 950 naira on transportation. Speaking of which, I saw this tweet recently. I couldn’t help laughing at the irony of it.

****

I recently came across this young lady who has decided to step out of her sheltered life, to live on the national minimum wage of 18,000 naira, for the next one month starting on June 20. She decided to take up this challenge as a way of creating awareness of the failing living standards in Nigeria.

You should see her analysis of what that 18,000 naira amounts to, just to give you a little perspective (feel free to draw up your own analysis as well, if that helps). And I can totally relate with her experiences because as someone who earns just a little (and when I say ‘a little’ I mean that as literally as it sounds) above 18000 naira, I understand the hardships of navigating day to day living on such meager earnings. Having to think twice about everything you do, everywhere you go or want to go, what you buy or don’t buy; not because you don’t need it, but because you have to cut your loses.

The sad thing is there are whole families who have to survive on 18,000 naira monthly. Monthly. For a whole family. This is supposed to cover feeding, transportation, health care, school fees and a myriad of other needs to be met. It is just ridiculous. Then you hear that crime rate increases (now I am not justifying it) and it’s not hard to see why. With the dire straits our economy has been plunged into, people are getting desperate and desperation causes people to do crazy things.

So I salute Ifeatu Nnaobi who has decided that rather than stay silent and turn her back, like we often do in this country especially when it doesn’t affect us directly, she would give a voice to a problem that has eaten deep into the fabric of this nation. People are already voicing out and hopefully more people do and it gets to the right ears, so we can start tackling our many problems.

Inspiration, Reflection

Lessons from a six year old

Couple of days ago, my six year old nephew ran to his mum and I to show us his shaky tooth. I could see the fear on his face because he wasn’t sure what was going on. I guess he was thinking his teeth was fine couple of days back so what could have happened to cause this. Immediately we saw it, we just screamed in excitement with the “ooohs and aaahs! Someone is becoming a big boy!” And immediately he saw our reactions, his face relaxed and he broke into the most amazing smile ever. Well if they are excited about it, then it can’t be that bad. In the space of those few seconds, I caught a glimpse of what God wants from us. My nephew was reassured that it was a great thing happening just from our reaction and he started dancing around.

And I remembered how we are asked to be like little children, trusting entirely, having no fear. When we go to Him and we are reassured that all things are working for our good, He expects us to believe it, not harboring doubt of any shade. It might not look like it, that situation might be hard and painful but trust that in the middle of all of that, He never fails and His word remains.

Now my nephew is definitely going to feel some pain on this journey of loosing and growing a tooth but you know what, he’ll be fine simply because in his little mind, his mum has told him it’s one of the hallmarks of becoming a big boy.

When harrowing situations come, we need to be like a six year old and believe when God says he’s got you, He’s got you indeed.
Selah…

Inspiration, Reflection

Through Heaven’s Eyes.

So I woke up this morning feeling incredibly sleepy. I just woke up, I know. I really can’t explain it. Then I had this overwhelming lethargic feeling. I needed to get up and prepare for work but I just felt incredibly weighed down. Weighed down by the situation of things around me, with thoughts of how the things I really want to do are so far out of my reach. I couldn’t even pray because of how shitty I was feeling. Fast forward two hours later and I still had a melancholic cloud hovering over my head as I made my way to work. Then I was hit by the thought of how old I was getting and how little I had accomplished.

I feel like I am not moving fast enough. People are doing big things and making waves and making people’s lives matter and consequently finding fulfillment in their own lives, or so it seems.
Then I was hit by a fresh cloud of “When would my life begin to matter” and yada yada yada. I was beginning to drown in the Sea of self loathing. I had to tell myself, “Enough!” when I got to work because I knew that with that attitude, I wouldn’t get anything done.

I bowed my head and muttered a few words of prayer. I fired up my laptop to do some research and as music goes well with this task (for me anyway), I went through my music folder and stumbled on, Through Heaven’s Eyes, a soundtrack from the animation; Prince of Egypt. I had never paid attention to the lyrics before but I did this morning. And holy cupcakes, such powerful lyrics!
In the strong and powerful voice of Brian Stokes Mitchell, the following words hit me:

A single thread in a tapestry
Though it’s colour brightly shines
Can never see its purpose
In the pattern of the Grand design
And the stone that sits up on the very top
Of the mountain’s mighty face
Does it think it’s more important
Than the stones that form the base? 
So how can you see what your life is worth
Or where your value lies?
You can never see through the eyes of man
You must look at your life through heaven’s eyes.

What does it mean to look through heaven’s eyes, I wondered.
It is seeing yourself the way God sees you. You are a masterpiece. God’s own perfect creation, wonderfully and fearfully made. Filled with a wealth of creativity and an abundance of intelligence. You are so unlike anybody else, you are different in all that makes you YOU. Nobody else can do the things you can do exactly like you can. And FYI, your life matters. It matters a great deal. Even though you are not exactly where you think you should be, your life does matter. Never think differently. As we are all different so are our paths. Stop being too critical of yourself by measuring your worth with another person whom you think has achieved all those things you can only dream about, because you might not know where the shoe hurts that person.

Climb out from under that sea of self loathing and self pity and get about doing the things that have been placed in your hands and do them diligently. Strive for excellence. Wake up everyday and shoot down that voice that reminds you that you are getting old and all of your mates are doing great things. You can never move ahead with that voice in your head. Self pity doesn’t spur you to greatness, it’s a negative emotion that allows you to wallow and be complacent.

I am basking in the realization of these and stocking my arsenal, for tomorrow, in preparation for that voice. I would keep shooting it down until I don’t have to.

So, be encouraged, strive for excellence (even when you think no one is watching) grow, develop and always, always, look at your life through heaven’s eyes. Selah.

P. S.

Just in case you want to listen to the song.

 

Reflection

It might destroy us…

I was walking back from work yesterday and on my way to take a bus, at the small roundabout under the Falomo bridge I saw posters with blank faces and the name of each girl at the bottom of the picture with #bringbackourgirls at the top of it. They were pinned all round the roundabout each poster with a different girl’s name. And I just stared at it and in that moment, I was overcome by a deep sense of compassion and anger: compassion because of what the families must be going through right now and anger at why this had to happen in the first place and how it’s taking forever to bring them back! I’ve read different reports and updates about the whole thing that sometimes I don’t even know what to believe anymore. But two things remain though, the fact that all the protests at different places in the country, our outcry on social media which has gotten the attention of people from different parts of the world, shows that, as a people, we still care about something other than ourselves and the second is the realization that our hope and faith in this country is hanging in the balance and what would determine where we go from here, for so many, is the outcome of all this. With the whole of my heart I hope this doesn’t end the way a lot of other things end in this country, where nothing substantial gets done and there’s no restitution. I fear that we would not recover from this after weeks of crying out if they don’t #Bringbackourgirls. There’s a lot riding on this and I hope there’s no doubt about that. My fears might be unfounded but I would have been able to move past it if there was something positive to hold on to and there haven’t been a lot of those lately. This terror is tearing this nation apart and the people who should be responsible for keeping us safe have folded their arms for so long and don’t seem to care. And are only now trying to act when things seem to have gotten out of hand which, quite frankly, I’m not even sure they know how; the curse of years of complacency… So pardon me if my faith is a little shaky.
After staring for what seemed like forever, I was able to tear my eyes away from the poster, and in the wake of my helplessness, I said a prayer for these girls, their families and for us as a nation because they really need to #Bringbackourgirls because I fear this might destroy us otherwise, even more than it already has.