February 27, 2014

What someone should have told us that nobody did.

This is not love.

Someone should have told us what love isn't.
"Love doesn't belittle."
"It does not behave like it owns you."
"It doesn't need to control you."
Someone should have been exact and said:
"If he's beating you, he doesn't love you."
"If he's talking down at you, he doesn't love you."
"If he's sleeping around, he doesn't love you. "
Someone should have painstakingly painted a picture:
This should not be you.

This should be you- happy!

Someone should have drawn the line somewhere:

"Don't stay if so and so happens."
"If he slaps you the first time, run or give him a run for his money."
"Its okay for a good girl to fight if it's evil you are fighting."
Someone should have said in addition to cook and clean:

"Stand up for yourself."  
"Don't do it if you don't feel comfortable."
"Scrutinize. Investigate. Question. Cross check."

Someone is telling you what nobody did:
"Lil' girl, when you meet a love that isn't? Don't stay. "
That's what to do!

-Omonike Odi

February 19, 2014

Thinking about what you are thinking about.

From the time I wake there is always one thought waiting for me to stir. Sometimes I want to turn it off so I put on the television, sometimes I want to change the direction of my thoughts so I read something and start a new line of discussion in my head and sometimes I want to engage thought so I find things to think about- what I am thankful for, themes from the chapter of scripture I have read or subjects from print outs/ phone messages/ previous discussion or monologue and observations I have tucked away for precisely a time as this.

Sometimes I think out loud.

I do not talk to myself in the context of a crazy person talking to someone they seem to see, i just say my thoughts out loud in my hearing.

Sometimes I talk to someone who isn’t there.

I tell them things I cannot say to them because they aren’t there, because the matter has died in the realm of dialogue but remains in the realm of thought, or because i only just knew what to say or what i would have wanted to say... “One day you will realise I am not your enemy” I say to one and “why did you do that to me” I ask the other.

Sometimes I talk to someone who is there.

Like when I talked with my friend today about what I had been thinking about.

Sometimes I think about how I have felt or thought or acted. Or I go back to an imprinted moment when I have felt something, realised I was feeling something or realised why I was feeling it.

For example, I examined with this friend a moment where I felt I needed to explain myself to someone and saw how I had explained my course of action, my reason for it and then later added the explanation of how that initial thread of events had further developed to the next person I was explaining that thing to.

Did you feel you would be accused of lying? She asked.

Did you want to avoid being misunderstood? I quizzed myself.

Could it be that I just wanted to be understood? And why?

More food for thought.

She showed understanding by sharing something she had learned from someone’s experience on dealing with thought patterns like these. He had decided that he would choose a day not to entertain the particular thought pattern he wanted to break and like in this case he would decide on a day in which he simply refused to explain himself.

I related to her example, recognising that there was something I could actually apply that to. The feeling of feeling bad.

It had occurred to me that week that I needed a break from the many things I feel bad about.

I revisited the moment I realised this telling her the things that I had been feeling bad about in the last couple of days and describing my resolution to those feelings.

I felt I hadn’t done a lot and was feeling bad about that till I had say to myself; “You know Nike, it’s ok. Instead of feeling bad for not doing something just take the load off and don’t do it without the feeling bad. It’s ok to just be and accept things as they are even if it’s just for now.”

My friend also empathized in agreement that she too was too hard on herself sometimes.

We analysed what I hadn’t done. It meant different things, one of them being that I hadn’t seen as many clients that week. 

She listened then pointed out something that made sense.

Well you had an emotionally challenging week, she said.

I did?

I stopped to consider it.

You lost a friend, she reminded.

I gave that some thought.

I hadn’t cried but I had engaged with the emotions of loss. I reasoned that my not crying might have blinded me from seeing I might still have been impacted in intangible ways by the loss. It occurred to me that Haruna sounded a little alarmed at my voice when I picked his call while writing about that death. He had asked me if I was okay with quite a bit of concern.

I continued to take inventory on my own now, sufficiently guided to ask myself what else had made the week emotionally tiring?

Someone had tried to stymie my efforts.

 I stopped and asked myself what the impact to my reserve of strength and willpower that was.

It did take some air out of me, I agreed. I had felt spent just talking about it- reporting it, and I had also felt spent worrying about how to make it stop not knowing how or if it would.

Was there any physical reaction?

Yes. I had experienced a headache and had told someone I felt stressed. 

We continued to run through my week pointing out thought patterns and actual events that summed up to the feeling of feeling bad.

I had a big meeting with one client. I had given it a lot of mental energy pre and post meeting, this too made me tired in the way you feel after anticipating something, doing it and finally getting it done- you just want to sleep.

It seemed reasonable that I might have slowed down mentally and otherwise to catch my breath.

I had stepped back and come back agreeing with her- the week had been challenging indeed.

I had a lot going on- a lot more than I realised.

The stressor might have been how I was measuring my achievement- probably the way I imagine a line manager or outsider would measure it - by the number of clients I had seen-by the length of the reports I was handing in- by what could be seen- but my friend helped me look below the surface.

I saw that I had done a lot more than I realised both on a personal and a professional level.

I had made big progress on the one client that I pursued that far outweighed aimless striving with the several I could have lengthened my reports with.

I concluded that I had been productive even by my standards, more so with all the goings on.


February 18, 2014

One Different Saturday Morning!

I spent Saturday morning differently.

My girlfriend slept over.

I didn’t get through my routine Saturday chores the same way.

I started with the ward robe, pruning it for clothes that needed to go to the washers and those that needed to be folded or hung away. I need to do this every 3 weeks or so; that’s how long it takes for some stray clothes to seat on boxes not inside them anymore.

I took down the stack of boxes and some clothes disappeared into them. Then I separated the ones that needed washing into a big bag. A few minutes later, like God during the seven days of creation, I looked at the wardrobe and saw it was good.

My friend had watched me turn the mattress over, change the sheets and coordinate some help to get the water containers filled in between stuffing mouthfuls and running commentary about the movie we fell asleep watching. With hunger pangs quietened she wanted to do something with me too.

What can I do for you? She asked

There was the centre rug that had come in from the washers that I needed to spread on the rugged floor and there was the kitchen I needed to straighten out too but I couldn’t think of anything she could do.

I was used to doing it all.

Could she do the dishes?

I didn’t see the point. Maybe because my kitchen is tiny and I always worry for anyone else working in it. You can only go 2-5 small paces in any direction while dodging sharp knives that can come crashing down off the shelf, avoiding the sharp jutting edge of the unforgiving metal sink and preparing for the disgruntled grunt of the gas cooker before it belches fire taking the unsuspecting by surprise.

Maybe the centre rug. I would need to lift up a two seater to lay it later, she could give me a hand then besides she was doing plenty just talking with me.

It worked only for a few minutes before she realised she was still doing nothing.

The dishes?

“Have a bath” I said gently nudging her away from the want to help. Maybe I understood the programming that was playing out- When you are in somebody’s house, earn your keep”.
But I didn’t want her to worry just content to chitchat through the chores. To build my case, I tossed in a reminder that she would be late if she didn't get ready. She reluctantly agreed putting up in the bathroom while I got some more work in.

By the time I got to the dishes, she quickly finished off her bath and darted out of the bathroom with determined steps toward me.

She wasn’t asking this time.

Erm how about ironing my shirt”, I said catching a view of it across the bed.  I remembered to mention it was not a favourite chore and she acquiesced to the trade.

Soon enough between both of us the dishes were done, the kitchen floor mopped, my shirt ironed, the chair lifted, the rug laid, valentine flowers watered and bodies bathed and dressed with several miles of catching up covered.

So that was how I spent Saturday morning differently.

My girlfriend slept over!

February 13, 2014

14 reasons why Valentine’s Day should be a public holiday!

1.       You deserve a day off from praying for a man.
 Not today. Don’t cry mournful tears. Don’t be angry with God. Don’t get worked up. Don’t yell, don’t sigh, and don’t mutter. Don’t threaten, don’t bargain, don’t bribe, don’t vow, and don’t sulk.


Give yourself a break from focusing on what you want intensely.

2.      You deserve a day off from fantasizing.
Don’t do it today. Don’t imagine anything. Just stop right there. Don’t set yourself up to feel frustrated at the end of the movie when you realize it will not happen. Don’t let anything take you there, not a movie or anything you see, hear or feel today.

Just for today, keep aside the romantic feelings you want to feel and think about your future, your ambitions, your financial power, what you really are like and describe the sort of person who will fit you.

Maybe you might start to see who around you could fit. You don’t have to like them, just try one date with them and see.
3.      You deserve a day off from blaming yourself for being single.

Don’t ask yourself what you could have done better, how you could have been better or what you could have said better. Change what you are thinking about.

Today, refuse to call that bitter or sad ending to mind. Think about something that is going well for you that you are happy about.

4.      You deserve a day off to forget your age

Forget you are single and in your mid or late 20s, 30s, 40s or 50s!

Just for today, forget where you expected to be at your age and see how far you have come.
5.      You deserve a day off from putting your life on hold

You know those things you want to do but haven’t gotten down to because you will prefer to do it with someone or those things you haven’t bought yourself or done for yourself because being able to buy them or do them will
“intimidate “a man – decide today to get to them.

Life is too short to keep your happiness on hold.

6.      You deserve a day off from feeling miserable because you are not married or in a relationship.

Give yourself one day not to feel bad about it. Just one day okay?

One day not to focus on what you don’t have but what you do have.

7.      You deserve a day off from wishing for married people’s problems.

Appreciate your independence to make your own decisions without having to get approval from somebody else. Appreciate your freedom to come and go, save or spend as you wish.

8.     You deserve a day off to question all your lonely feelings instead of letting them send you on errands.

You will feel the way you think. So today question your thoughts. See if you really agree.

Is there really only one guy for you? Will your life really be complete only when you meet Mr Right? Is it really true that God will only send you Mr. Right when you are content to be without him? What does that even mean?

Don’t swallow all the prescriptions without thinking about it.
9.      You deserve a day off to fight back.

Today decide to address the pressure from concerned friends and family members. Don’t stew under their interrogation or side comments- give it back to them!

Ask them if they will pay for the wedding, tell them to back off, tell them you are not the person they are comparing you with, tell them they are being over concerned, tell them to keep their opinions to themselves, tell them to shut their trap- whatever your style- fight back!

10.  You deserve a day off to be okay with Valentine’s Day not being special for you.

You don’t go around feeling bad because its Sallah day and you are a Christian or it’s Christmas and you are a Muslim, you just seat back and eat Sallah meat or Christmas rice if it comes to you. Treat Valentine’s Day the same- eat free chocolate!

There will come a day when Valentine's Day is special again. It's just not today and that is ok.

11.   You deserve a day off from believing the hype.

See it for what it is. You and I know love is not all about chocolates, wine and flowers and the friend who is excited about all the presents today might be in tears over a lovers’ quarrel tomorrow.

Have a balanced view and keep close to reality.

12.  You deserve a day off to cash in on the benefits

Realize that someone is making money from all this. It is not all happening because people are in love, no people are in money! Maybe you too can be making money selling hampers, flowers, candy, and diamond jewellery. Think of all the money you can be making.

13.  You deserve a day off to be content with who you are.

Your relationship status is just a part of you. You may not be Mrs but are you a Madam? A sisi? A daughter? A hot babe? An independent woman? A person of talent? A beloved friend? A working woman? A business woman? A church leader? A C.E.O?

What else are you that is worth being happy to be you about?

14.  You deserve a day off to celebrate the most important person in your life- you!

When last did you track back on how far you have come, what you have survived, endured and overcome maybe alone without a man? Pat yourself on the back, you have tried!
If you think about it, there are many things to be happy about, gifts from a significant other being the least of them. So give yourself permission to have a happy Valentine’s day!

February 10, 2014


Danosaur, Daniel Jibrin

I heard.

It's interesting how the news of a friend's death is broken to you these days.

In unpalatable ways like the internet with headlines too busy being sensational to be sensitive, captions too busy being "breaking news" to be accurate; titles perfectly crafted to "drive traffic" to the news breaker's website.

In unpalatable ways like broadcast messages with that undertone of self promotion that says I want you to know I knew him to create the perception that like him I am also a face and a name in the industry. "Daniel Jibrin I know, Danosaur I know, who are you?" I want to retort at these Seven Sons of Sceva!

I heard.

And I called a mutual friend in an effort to wrap my head around the puzzle. The explanation wasn't at all clear, fire burns of the kind described didn't lead to death. I would later get the full picture from another person who knew Dan but now, I had to stop and think- grieve, remember, reflect.

I thought about Dan. 

Dan was on his path. One of the pictures in circulation was the one of him in a T-shirt with the words "Life is too short not to do what you love to do". That phrase would come to frame the event of his passing.

It was an apt epitaph!

So accurate you would wonder if he was talking about himself.

Till he died, Dan went about rapping, producing and presenting for radio at Kiss FM, recording at studios, interviewing people, playing records on countdown shows and all of the things he found meaning doing- things that made him happy.

It was  a poignant parting message!

It made me think.

Did Dan know his life would be short? I don’t think so... but maybe he considered the possibility and put things in perspective.

So I thought about the possibility too.

I though about the fact that time is limited.

If you knew that time was short what would you want to do with the limited time you had?

It was a strong reminder!

It drove the point home too deeply- as sharp as a double edged sword; one side causing a sharp pain of loss and the other side causing a sharp pain of realisation- life is short!

It was a harsh reality!

Harsh enough to put things in the order of priority-

Maybe it’s not about performing in front of an audience of 5 million people or 500 people but performing because it’s what you love.

Maybe it’s not about winning a Grammy award and being recognised by the world but about doing your thing just because life is short and this is what makes it meaningful.

Maybe it’s not about signing 150 million naira deals and being syndicated internationally but about being about your hustle.

It was harsh enough to put things in perspective-

Maybe it’s not about “getting there” someday but about getting there everyday because someday might never come!

Maybe there is no “there” to get to, just something to aim for to keep you on the right track.

Maybe it’s not about living your “dreams” but about reaching for them and by so doing living your best life- the one in which you do what you love, the one that makes your life worth living, the one that leaves an impact.

Tracy who used to be a colleague of Dan’s at Kiss FM, said it well for me- “He might not have been a celebrity to the world, but he was and still is our celebrity.”

Adieu Dan.

February 03, 2014

For That One Girl!

Recently I read an article from the point of view of a young girl dating a sugar daddy more than twice her age. She knew he would not marry her but was happy to have him to herself for the five years he would be on contract in Nigeria. She counted the benefits like dining in fine restaurants, traveling to exotic places, living in a serviced apartment, owning a car and help with her father’s health bills.

 She also counted the cost like the disapproving stares she got when she was seen with him but chalked it down to jealousy, an emotion she expected women to have towards her considering they were probably stuck with a man they slaved in the kitchen and the bedroom for while getting less than romantic treatment in return.

 She had accepted the fact that it wasn’t love. It was “using what you have to get what you want”.  “I love Rob in my own way”, she was quick to point out rationalizing the notion that her relationship was a business transaction.

 I read her arguments with a 7 point narrative building up in my head, which went something like this:

 1.       You can get it for yourself

You can have your own money. You don’t want the day to come where you say “If only I had known I could survive and go on to be successful, I wouldn’t have made those compromises”.
2.      Time is a leveler

In time the people you feel are envious of the things you have will catch up with you. They will have the furnished apartment, the nice car, trips abroad, shopping sprees, the husband, job and kids, all self- made without the guilty feelings.
3.      We worry about you

We see the fun you are having now but wonder where it will end. We know the good side but what about the things you are silent about?
4.      It’s a detour, a distraction.

This lifestyle is littered with unplanned pregnancies, a bad reputation, verbal and emotional abuse, inordinate sexual appetites, STDs, HIV & AIDS, alcohol, drugs, rape and even death by the hand of ritualists disguised as willing sugar daddies! Bullets that should be dodged even if there is promised comfort. This life style robs you of the ability to take control of your own life and navigate your problems instead of taking the easy way out.
5.      All the traveling and exposure is overrated

You can travel to the most exotic places and still take your problems with you.
6.      You look like you have arrived before your time.

You aren’t wearing your things well, they are wearing you. The over compensating look of success does betray your lacking experience.
7.      It is sex not love

Manipulative, Non- committal, loveless love making. The kind of oneness that doesn’t become one.  The type lacking in intimacy.

But after I had all my thoughts listed out, I realized I was leaving something out. So I wrote just one more thing down.

 And it wasn’t for a faceless runs girl either, it was for that one girl stuck between a rock and a hard place, contemplating a way out of an understandably desperate human condition and under pressure to take a compromising offer.

Whether she is a "runs girl" or a mature single woman well above the expected age of marriage, a 25 year old naïve and misguided girl or 35 year old vengeful woman- whatever her age, class or circumstance - soon enough temptation comes knocking on every door.

 Don’t face it alone. Get help!

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