November 23, 2017

The year has not ended.

I've realised it's learned behaviour to make the focus of the end of the year, an assessment of what we have (not) achieved and goals we have not met. It's almost automatic how my mind will dig up all evidence to suggest it was a wasted year with nothing to show for it. But that's a scam. I know it now. My mind knows I know it too. So we have this understanding. But that's a topic for another day.

If we take a hard look at our goals for the year though, we'll see that some of those goals we sprinkled generously on paper at the beginning of the year just to fill the page can be distilled to 1, 2 or 3 major things that are really critical. We'll also see that some that we gave ourselves a whole year to turn in, can get done during a short period of leave, a weekend, a day off, three months of that extra hour working at night or the slow next couple of weeks into the new year. 

Most of the things we think will take a year to get done, can probably take a block of 3 weeks, one month or one quarter if we give it the intensity of focus it needs. Under pressure, I have seen myself cram into 6weeks, 6 months worth of work from my MBA and still come out with good grades. I have also noticed I can't keep  up that laser focused intensity on certain projects for too long and some of my most remarkable output have been that one day I wrote my eBook from working at it from am to pm, that week I fleshed out a novel (seating unpublished among others in my laptop), that 3,000 word paper I wrote in two days- one for research and the other for a first draft. So imagine if I expect to complete a project like that over a year, I would likely run out of steam.

There will be those goals on the list that we don't get done because we don't know what to do. It's amazing how much work you can get done in thirty minutes of clarity than several months of misdirected passion. It's amazing how much you can get done when you are not under the pressure to make it perfect. It's amazing how much permitting yourself to put what you have down even if its a rough draft, a raw idea, a body of work that is imperfect but captures the meat of the matter or meets the basic requirements can do for you. It's amazing how much progress you can make in the face of real odds just by doing the one you can do, then the next one you find to do after that and the next and the next until viola, you are done!

There will also be goals we don't get done because we are intimidated by the sheer effort required. I've had those types of exams where they tell you it's 8 questions answer 3, and I remind myself that the ask isn't to read all 10 lessons but to be an expert on 5 so I can answer 3 questions lol. Assignments where I remind myself that the ask isn't to master all the theories and concepts but to demonstrate my mastery of a few relevant ones for my paper. Work deliverables where I have to strip the mountain in the project into molehills by simply meeting the basic requirements not reinventing the wheel.

As I began to say, the end of the year has a bad rep but we can treat it as a beginning- a way to start ahead of the new year to find those 1 or 2 critical goals, break them into size and execute with clarity.

So forget the time of year. You're right on time to make epic things happen!

August 22, 2017

Writing the book- My Process

So I have wanted to write a book for a long time. It's been one of many goals I start off the year thinking 'this is an important milestone I really want to beat'. There are several of such goals that are still waiting for me to get down to executing but I won't think of those now, from experience that's a short cut to discouragement. All I have to do is think of what I haven't done and my head swaps the image of the 'Nike the achiever who can do anything' for the 'lazy Nike who hasn't done 1, 2, 3 & 10' and the more I see myself like that the more I don't think I can based on my mind's selective evidence to the contrary. (In the three decades since I've known my mind, I recognise its tricks a little better now and I don't fall for its selective memory but take into account the gazillion other goals I have accomplished- I am Nike- the- achiever after all!)

But I digress... yes, the book!

It's been lots of false starts and restarts.

Two months ago I achieved a goal with my exams (doing a masters- another goal that lay dormant for 9 years or for what I prefer to call 'the appointed time'. I tell you more about that later). I prepared for three exams in thirty days and met my goals, even exceeded them on one of the modules. (Ah, I have a lot to tell you about goal setting as well- why aim for an impossible 100% and scare yourself out of the game when you can make an achievable 50 and live to fight another day? Remind me in the comments to gist you if you want to hear).

What I tapped into about myself during the exam prep period was that I don't have the attention span to focus on something for a long period of time and sustain the same intensity. Forget the stereotype of what being an unserious student or lazy student is, I have always been a last minute, back- end loader. So cramming my entire semester into a month rather than reading over six and forgetting what I read by exam time kind of worked better for me.

Anyway, I decided to adopt the same approach to my book.

I gave myself thirty days and watched. Work and life played a role and I only succeeded in some 10-20 hours of work over  a total of 5-7 days in that month. The result was a bunch of post- it notes stuck on a few pages. And 2,232 not-so-great words in chapter 1.

The disease of perfectionism is to say, at the end of thirty days I didn't do it so it's not done while overlooking that something did in fact get done- the foundation was laid.


I accomplished the important part of planning the book. Putting down all the ideas about it out of my head and onto paper, tapping into my 'why' for the project and coming up with a title for the book and a framework for the content.

I did good! And I am adopting a more observe-as- you-work approach to see how I am working best within the constraints in my life rather than a strict schedule that says I must complete 50,000 words in 30 days. Based on that I am expecting another 10-20 hours from myself in another 30 days. If that then becomes the realistic pace of work for this project, it becomes the goal rather than me setting unrealistic timelines for myself that leave me feeling like 'lazy Nike who hasn't done 1, 2, 3 & 10'! Again why aim for an impossible 100% and scare yourself out of the game when you can make an achievable 50 and live to fight another day?

Writing a book is not an easy process, it's like two people engaged in the same old, recurring  and difficult conversation they've disagreed over for a long time. It takes several of those hair- raising stand offs to understand what each side has been trying to say to the other for years. It will take several drafts to get to what I really want to say, so yes there will be several tries. I will get it one day, then not know what I am talking about the next. I will spend one hour in drudgery here and then find ten hours of pure inspiration there. I will write for days then have nothing to add for weeks after but slowly it will all come together. So I better fail fast, stumble a lot earlier and churn out not- so- great drafts now so I can get to the great stuff like I always do.

So on that note, I'm still in the game. If anyone asks, I am still writing- even when I am not!

August 04, 2017

What I've been up to.

I've been writing.

I've been writing a book.

I have learnt so much in the last few years that I feel I need to document, for me, for someone coming behind to read.

I also want to talk about the horrid culture of mean comments that has taken over us. The way we under the veil of anonymous can be mean beings to each other, stabbing others in the back with words we can't utter to their faces not least because we do not actually know them but social media creates that familiarity- that contempt!

And that  invisible and contagious contempt is the social illness of our generation, so if you don't read from me on here, I'm being about it.

More to come soon!

April 22, 2017

When you feel forgotten by God

Isaiah 40:26-31The Message (MSG)

25-26 “So—who is like me?
    Who holds a candle to me?” says The Holy.
Look at the night skies:
    Who do you think made all this?
Who marches this army of stars out each night,
    counts them off, calls each by name
—so magnificent! so powerful!—
    and never overlooks a single one?
27-31 Why would you ever complain, O Jacob,
    or, whine, Israel, saying,
God has lost track of me.
    He doesn’t care what happens to me”?
Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening?
God doesn’t come and go. God lasts.
    He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine.
He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath.
    And he knows everything, inside and out.

He energizes those who get tired,
    gives fresh strength to dropouts.
For even young people tire and drop out,
    young folk in their prime stumble and fall.
But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
    They spread their wings and soar like eagles,
They run and don’t get tired,
    they walk and don’t lag behind.

March 01, 2017

Feeling stuck trying to loose the baby weight?

Get started shedding weight with these gym free, gadget free, diet free & slimming tea free tips.

First of all, I never had a problem with weight so I took it for granted that my body would change after having a baby. I actually thought I had escaped the common body- altering side effects of carrying a child because I was lucky not to have swollen feet, discolored skinned or a broken voice while pregnant. I however experienced post partum shedding months after with two big patches around my edges on opposite sides. Lol. Generally, I was slimmer during (the picture above was taken around my due date) and just after I delivered compared to a few months later when I really gained weight (breastfeeding didn't help).

For a long time, getting back in shape was synonymous with going to the gym. That entailed finding one nearby that was affordable and baby friendly. Just thinking about how impossible my requirements were considering my circumstances was enough to give it up.

This post is for people that feel stuck here.

The truth is you already know how to loose weight. Think about it. Between those times you unintentionally lost weight and what is common knowledge about weight loss, you have enough tips to get you started. So whatever I or anyone tell you about shedding the baby weight, your response will likely be "I already knew that".

But I felt this post was worth sharing because sometimes you know what to do but are not ready to do it. You know you are in that category when you complain but don't do anything about it. I've been there and if that is where you are, take your time. Where your body and belly is now is temporary. It is not your destination. 

And if you know what to do but are trying to figure out how to make what you know workable for you, keep reading.

I started by making a list of everything I could think of about loosing weight. I titled it-"Loosing weight using what I know".
My list had things like cutting out biscuits (I used to eat as many as 6 packs a week! Don't look so shocked lol! Find what you are over- consuming and cut it). It had things like counting in fruits and salads (I was eating this but I was also eating everything on top of it, lol. Like my husband would come and find the snacks bought for the whole house had disappeared). I also had my very laudable but unrealistic goal of conquering Immabeast's choreography of BeyoncĂ©'s Formation as exercise.

Didn't happen. Instead I discovered free work out videos on YouTube and that became the turning point for me. It eliminated finding a gym and membership fees, getting hawt (read "pricey") gym clothes that would have made the bulges even more apparent come to think of it, buying gym gear like a mat, trainers, and head/wrist bands (you know you have to look the part naa) and finally I could be as sweaty in whatever I want to wear or not wear while exercising.

Tip: When looking for a work out video, know there are several trainers online to pick from so if a guy with muscles like a body builder isn't working for you, find a female trainer or dance aerobics instructor. I preferred a female that coached and explained as she went along. Also find a workout with a duration and intensity that is sustainable for you. You don't want to put in all the effort required to loose all the weight in one work out. A half hour work out, 3-5 times a week is more doable. You don't want to over do it then get so sore the thought of working out scares you.

I also discovered fitness watches thanks to Sisiyemmie. There was one lying around at home so I started using it to motivate myself to take long walks. Because it counts my steps, I always look forward to clocking that 10,000 step mark.  So I typically work out and get about 3000+ steps, take the stairs and add to that, then walk to the shops or through the park park behind my house with a walking trail to get my 10,000 steps in. It helps me keep active.

Tip: You don't need a fitness watch to do this. Walking for over an hour depending on your pace should give you similar results.

Then I cut down portion sizes. While pregnant hunger would hit me so suddenly, I would feel like if I didn't eat I wouldn't have energy. After I had the baby my portion sizes continued to rival and at times beat my husband's. I didn't realize it then but there were times I got so bloated and uncomfortable trying to finish the food on the plate as if, if it was on my plate, my assignment was to clear it. So I started listening to my body and stopped short of being full, retraining myself to leave food on the plate if I was getting full. I still eat whatever, just less.

Tip: Because I'd been at home, I didn't realize I was eating as much as 5/6 times a day. So trying to maintain three good meals a day is a good way to control eating. These days I follow the routing outlined for feeding baby- 3 meals a day, fruit and veg (salads) in between, a multivitamin and water. I am learning to love my health as I love hers lol.

Also, I started the lemon in warm/hot water with honey thing. I recently added ginger which gives that peppery taste as well as cucumber which just adds a great flavor. I use it as an alternative to slimming teas. At least with this one, you can see what you are taking in and still get the benefit of easy bowel movements and no bloating.

The rest of my list were things like actually using the girdles I bought to waist train, using an anti- stretch mark cream, not eating after 7pm and a reminder to keep staying away from fizzy drinks.

My results are not yet in but just getting my heart rate up and respecting my body, is such a boost already. The point really is that you don't need anything extraordinary to kick start your weight loss, you can do it with what you already know using what you have right now, where you are. For me I found doing it in my space, at my pace not just pocket friendly but more sustainable.

Hope this helps.

February 02, 2017

Bad dreams: I demand to re-dream!

In the words of the author of Loving What is, Bryon Katie, reality is often kinder than the bad dreams (both the kind we see in our sleep or the ones we conjure in our heads) we allow terrify us. In reality, we are usually just lying on a bed or seating on a chair- doing fine! Patricia Omoqui summarizes it well when she said in her comment on Twitter- we can wake up any moment we choose!

I awoke in reality.

Everything looked all right in my surroundings. 

I knew it was cold outside but I was snug underneath an insulated duvet, kept warm by a well functioning heater that was kindly regulating the temperature whether I was aware of it or not.

My body was well supported on a comfortable bed yet I was collapsing inside.

There was nothing in the room to terrify me yet I was acting as if I was still trapped in the bad dream- asleep.

I didn't want to be alone or go back to bed. By force of habit, I turned to prayer. The words I was feverishly saying didn't feel right, then I noticed I was actually annoyed!

I had had a full day. I had done everything as expected of me. I was tired and I deserved to close my eyes on my bed and sleep peacefully. Whish kain nonsense dream was that?

Any dream that wasn't serving me wasn't for me. Besides, I never felt God spoke to me through dreams. I was so pissed by now that I said aloud, "I demand a redream!" Away with this apparition- this False Evidence Appearing to be Real. In the words of my friend, Adunni, no apprentice devil was going to play with my head.

I still didn't want to go back to sleep but found something positive to  keep my mind set on. I still prayed but this time I prayed not to be deceived by fear. And I did wake up the other adult in the house and let him hold me like a baby while I held myself together on the inside. 

And I continued to shake like a leaf but I waited it out patiently because I knew my heart needed time to catch up with what I knew in my head- that just because it felt real didn't make it so and just because it was in my mind didn't mean I had to believe it. 

Nothing bad had happened. I had only had a bad dream... and woken up.

January 13, 2017

Who is the adult in the relationship?

When simple tasks like brushing my teeth or styling my hair became a battle of wills where I always lost to my guilty feelings that I was being a bad mother if I didn't respond to my toddler's often tearless crying, my (adult) husband weighed in on our codependent relationship and set my priorities straight.

As my little one continues to show more independence for instance when she is able to tilt and drink from her own cup or yank my breasts from their pockets to take what's hers lol, I find myself struggling with breaking the codependent habits we both formed during her totally dependent stages.

Then, I had to go everywhere with her including to relieve myself because she clung to me to the extent that I had to lift her onto my knees and use the toilet at the same time.

Till now, we haven't succeeded in getting her to sleep in her crib and so co- sleep but even that is not enough for my gugu. She still has to sleep skin to skin and no matter how many times I place her back on the sheets, she snuggles and wriggles until she finds my body heat. Now that she is stronger, she can jerk her body backwards when I try to adjust her, wringing herself from my hands before assertively climbing onto the body part she wants to spread herself over- my head!

My day used to revolve around her and simple things like taking a bath or washing dishes had to be scheduled around when she fell asleep or when her daddy came home from work. Until we discovered that she could be tricked into being happy in her own company if we put on baby rhymes for her to watch. But even that had its time limit.

l was becoming so limited that my sleep was suffering, my masters programme was suffering and I was not regaining the life I had before. All it took was a forlorn look and loud, long crying and my own independence was thrown out the door.

I was complaining during one of our conversations when my husband leveled a question at me. "Who is the adult in the relationship?", he asked, returning the invitation to my pity party.

His own idea of parenting was that I should ask myself who was served by my carrying her everywhere with me. Wasn't it me and my story that until I sacrificed myself, I wasn't loving my child?

His logic was sound.

It was to her benefit that she exercised the independence she was gaining from walking and taking herself places she wanted to go. I could even be subverting her confidence to venture out when I pulled her back because I couldn't be chasing her around to prevent her from going somewhere or disrupting my things lol.

It was to her benefit that she exercised the independence of having teeth and my on and off approach to weaning her off sucking milk because it was the main way I bribed her to sleep, stop crying or eat, was more about me.

It was also to her benefit that she exercised the independence she was displaying as she expressed herself by repeating new words like "bye" and "go" and responding with recognition to used ones by saying "Ka" when she heard the word "Quack" or "Rowwwww" when she heard the line "Row, row, row your boat" or "mmm mmm" for the silent letter "B" and "I" in the rhyme that spelt B.I.N.G.O before retracting one letter each per round. So her tearless crying or fearless tantrum throwing when I repeated "NO" while taking away things she shouldn't play with, didn't warrant any guilty feelings.

And I didn't have to tie myself to her cradle strings. I could wash the dishes while she waited then get to her while my bath waited its turn too.

All in moderation.

One at a time.

January 09, 2017

The book I wasn't to write

On the post on Bellanaija introducing Toke Makinwa's book, #OnBecoming, my attention was drawn to a comment from a person under the name Hmmmmmm, who said she had been Toke once and had written about her bad experience presumably in a marriage and even secured a publishing deal. She said her father then read it and although she didn’t intend to hurt him (maybe she didn’t mind some other person getting hurt), she inadvertently hurt her father by it in some way. He then advised her to let it sit for a year and if she still felt like doing it she could go ahead. She took his advice and a year later the book title and content had changed because she was a different person- healed.

About a year ago, I wrote a story about a harrowing experience I went through. It was so internally harrowing I needed the whole world to hear. I needed something large enough on the outside to make up for what was eating me on the inside. I was so inconsolable one person couldn’t console me; I needed to tell the whole world about it.

It was a “must tell” as in the words of Toke. Like Tiwa Savage's song I also felt “If I start to talk the thing wey I don take my eye see, we no go end”. E no go end because I wouldn’t let it end. If the whole world could really line up, I would go down the line of everyone in the world at least everyone in my world or just people in my life repeating the thing wey my eyes don see.

How ridiculous? They probably are also looking to recruit me into their own line of hired mourners who can pity them for all the things wey them eyes too don see.

But this is what pain is- ridiculous.

As ridiculous as it now sounds to me, I wrote my story for a short story competition. What better way to use the pain if not to get something out of it? My own version of the story would get heard at the same time I would get a cash prize. That money would be used for a good cause. Now that I replay those motives it was almost like I was justifying a bad thing like stealing from a rich man by saying I would give the money back to the poor who deserve it more or cleanse it by tithing a tenth of it to the church.

Several months later, a book got into my hands. It had been written by someone I knew and in it she wrote all about her daddy issues and husband issues. I read the short book in one seating. It was full of anger and questions I couldn’t answer for her. Anger and questions meant to be directed at somebody else. Another case of what we cannot say/confront for whatever reason that rationalizes not saying/confronting it, ending up as sickness in our bodies eating us alive or angry words that will in turn create more anger as people react to them and even more anger as we don’t get the desired response.

I felt the book didn’t add value; there was nothing in it to learn just anger. It was a “How to be angry when your father disappoints your mother as a child and in adulthood when your husband disappoints you” book. Now this anger would be passed to another generation. A wife’s anger at her husband would become a daughter’s anger at her father just as her own anger at her father was in response to what she felt was mistreatment of her mother. Another generation would form another link in the chain of a generational pattern of daddy issues.

I thought about my own story as I read on. As if on cue, an email from the competition’s organizers flashed on my phone screen as I finished reading. It said my story had not been shortlisted. Was it a coincidence that on the same day minutes apart from reading that story, I was getting a message preventing the publication of mine? Even though it was the very thing I thought I wanted and the thing I thought would bring closure, God who knew it was healing I wanted, was kind enough to show me this wasn’t the way to it.

The judges too must have thought it was another how to be angry book. But it didn’t register then. I still believed it was a must tell to end all must tell stories of private pain and public gossip. I still believed it until Toke’s book happened.

Like the other book, I read hers. Again it was there- daddy and hubby; pain and anger. It wasn’t my story but it was my anger, my rant as though written by another person then put in my hands to judge. I was brutally honest about this my book- it was another diary of a mad black woman!

Vicariously through Toke’s work I could see what it would have been if I had done it- medicating pain with book sales and titles, convincing myself I had won. And it suddenly was not enough. What an empty victory it would have been for me.

I knew that now because I was beginning to taste the victory that comes from really healing. I recognized it in the final chapters of Toke’s book where she recognized pain as her teacher to teach her about herself and anger as her real enemy preventing her from learning. If I was a victim, I was only the victim of my making- the Heroine, Martyr and Saint all rolled in one.

Suddenly it was not the must tell. All I wanted to tell the world, my world and people in my life was to rid themselves of this consuming anger that destroys.

And I did in this must tell- here.

It’s a must read.

What I learnt reading the dairies of mad black women


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