Saturday, December 6, 2008

Off to Lagos


I'm in a real hurry as I type this. I'm travelling to Nigeria in less than 24 hours and I still have a ton of packing to do, all while trying not to carry excess luggage. Hubby is laughing at me at the moment because I tend to stuff too much into my boxes and then start worrying that I'll be charged for extras at the check-in desk.

I was ill last week, which was the last thing I needed because I hadn't started shopping, packing or getting ready for my trip. I couldn't do anything for two days. Doctor came round, said it was a virus and gave me a load of pills to chew on. I'm feeling much better now but I have to be careful not to stress myself too much. I cycled out yesterday and I started feeling dizzy so I'm definitely not pulling that stunt again until I feel 100 percent.

I'm looking forward to seeing family and friends again, and also a few bloggers. I also have four weddings and two reunions lined up already so I know I'm going to be out and about a lot. It should be fun! Well, anything to escape the freezing cold going on here at the moment :)

I'll be in Nigeria until early in the new year. I'll try to update my blog while I'm away but I can't guarantee that. So I'll just wish everyone a very happy month of December, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in Advance. (It's surreal to think that 2008 is almost over isn't it?)

I'll bring back goodwill, photos and gists :)

Later, friends!

Monday, December 1, 2008

I Believe In God

I believe in God for many reasons, I don't even know where to start listing them.

God is the very reason why I breathe, why I exist and why I live. The whole world is in His hands. He made the planets, the sun, moon and stars. He created every living being and they are all for His glory.

God is the very foundation on which my life rests, without Him, I am nothing. He created me, formed me and knew me even before my parents.

God upholds me everyday, without Him, my feet slip and I fall down and can't get up. For several periods in my life I ignored God and went my own way. Who was I kidding? My life stopped making sense until I crawled back to Him.

God loves me unconditionally and I know this. That's why I can fall and rise up again because He gives me countless chances. He never gives up on me.

God is merciful. He forgives me when I sin and He receives me when I return to Him.

God communicates with me. Oh! I can't describe the joy and privilege of hearing my Heavenly Father speaking to me. And He listens to me too! How wonderful and amazing is that? I can tell Him anything bothering me. I can be open and honest with Him and He is not going to be shocked.

God is my confidence and I get my self-worth in Him. Growing up I struggled with self esteem issues, I thought I was not worthy to receive love from anybody. I hated myself and several times I wished I could be someone else. I tried to get over these evil thoughts by myself but I couldn't. Not until I turned to God and allowed Him to take those feelings away and He did! God showed me who I am in Him, that He loves me so much, enough to send His Son to die for me. Now how can I turn my back on such love?

God is my provider. I can't count the number of times I've been flat broke and God provided for me in the nick of time.

God is my refuge and strong tower. When I have the One who made the universe by my side, I don't have to be afraid.

God has great plans for me. He is my guide in life. He knows everything, including my future. So when I am confused, I simply have to ask Him for directions and He reveals which way I should go.

God is full of surprises. The more I get to know Him, the more He amazes me. I long to be in His presence everyday, to know Him more, to hear from Him more.

God is my everything really. He's my relationship adviser, He's my Creative Director, He's my Father, He's my friend, He's my Shepherd, He's my companion, He's my peace.

So those are a few reasons why I believe in God.

If you believe in God, I hereby tag you to write a post and tell the world why. If you don't believe in God, I challenge you to seek Him and give Him a chance to prove Himself to you. After all, you have nothing to lose and eternity to gain.

See why these other bloggers believe in God:

Chichi
~Mimi~
Jaycee
Believer
Simeone
Writefreak
Jewells
Rita


Have a great week!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Internet, Trusting God

I’ve had one heck of a week. First my internet connection went down and I wasn’t able to do anything. You know how much we take the internet for granted now? Imagine for three days I was not able to check my emails, update my blog, read and comment on other blogs, log into Facebook, do several google searches, talk to my sister on yahoo messenger, chat with my other VIPs on googletalk, email my work to my friend for feedback, download the latest missed episode of my favourite shows, etc!

It makes me wonder: am I’m too dependent on the internet? Two days without it and a huge chunk of my career and social life is missing! I wonder what would happen if I had to go without it for a week. As it is now, I feel like so many bloggers have updated, it would take me forever to catch up so maybe I shouldn’t even bother. And it also gets me thinking about how much more dependent on the internet we will all become in future. Thankfully, the issue with my internet connection sorted itself out this afternoon and I’m in the loop again. lol

The second crazy thing that happened to me in the past week was: I got a job! And then promptly turned it down. It all started like a bit of a joke really. I applied for the job all right, and went for the interview last Friday. It seems the interviewers were totally blown away by my performance at the interview or something. They contacted me as soon as I got back home to say that I was successful and they would like to offer me the job. I thought about it and decided to accept. But then, I remembered that there was a reason why I had left the 9 – 5 in the first place, to do something else! So I called the company back and declined the offer. I thought everything was fine, until I got a job contract in the post this morning, asking me to report to the HR lady tomorrow morning! Now I’m confused – what should I do?

On another note, still related to that – I feel like God is testing my faith to see how much I trust Him. Part of the reason why I wanted to get a job again was because I was afraid of getting broke and having to rely on hubby for all my needs. In the past months I had been living on my income, and when I quit my job I started spending my little reserve. But now even that is melting away and I have nothing coming in at the moment. Hubby is not complaining one bit, but I’ll be honest, it’s scary for me not having any income! So I had sneakily started looking for a job again. Funny thing is, I didn’t have peace when I accepted the job offer and I knew from experience that once I don’t have peace about a decision, I’m only looking for trouble. I feel God is telling me to relax and He will provide for my needs somehow. It’s hard, but I guess I just have to trust the One who can do it.

Stay tuned for what I eventually do tomorrow. Hope you enjoy the rest of your week!

PS: The lovely Chika Unigwe has a new book out: On Black Sisters' Street. It's now available to pre-order from Amazon.co.uk and it's definitely worth checking out! You can pre-order here

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Positive Stuff

Hello blogville! I'm in a much better mood this week, for many reasons. It's been a defining moment in history for one! But apart from that, I've had several things happen to cheer me up.
First of all, I'm really glad to witness the fact that Barack Obama won the election! I know how significant his victory is to people of colour, to people who thought they can never break down some barriers. His victory has given hope to thousands of people all around the world that indeed, anything is possible. And that we can achieve our dreams, no matter how far-fetched they sound at the beginning. Imagine, a few short years ago, it would have been impossible to believe that a mixed-race, relatively young man of Kenyan descent would campaign and win the US presidential election by a clear majority. But it has happened right before our very eyes! My big congratulations to President Obama himself, and also to his family and the team behind him. For the first time in history, America has a black family living in the White House!

I'm sure they (Obama and his advisers) know the enormity of the task ahead of them. They must know that the eyes of the world will be on him, and every decision he makes will be scrutinised closely. They are definitely aware that Obama now has to prove a point to the rest of the world: that he deserves all the confidence the voters have in him to deliver on his promises. I just hope the American people who voted him into power, will be patient with him. It can't be easy inheriting the legacy of outgoing President Bush, with the heavy weight of expectations on his shoulders.

Now if I can dream, I hope for the day that my own country Nigeria, and indeed many other countries in Africa will have visionary leaders like Obama that we can believe in. I hope that one day the voice of the people will matter. I hope that one day soon, we will have leaders who want to serve the people, not rule and plunder them. I hope that one day, we will cast away the lust for power, ignorance, selfishness, greed and injustice, to give way for true democracy, peace and unity in our country. I await the day that I would say with even more pride: I am a Nigerian.

Okay, enough of politics! In other news.... last week, hubby and I went on a short break to the city of Porto and we had a lovely time. It was a nice change of scenery and a break from the usual humdrum which was exactly what I needed to get out of the gloom. It was fun hearing another language, trying different food, sampling another culture and exploring a new city. Porto is such a nice chilled out city, compared to London, it's definitely a breath of fresh air! The people are really nice and friendly too. More than once, seeing hubby and I poring over a map in confusion, people have walked up to us and offered to help us find our way around! We had fin walking over bridges, taking a river cruise, going on a tour of a Port Wime making factory and more. I would definitley recommend it to anyone looking for a place to have a relaxing city break for the weekend. Some photos:


I didn't plan this at the beginning of the year, but now I'm going to Nigeria this December by God's grace. How it all happened is still a bit of a mystery to me, but before I knew it, I found myself making plans and getting a ticket one day. Still, I don't mind though, going to Nigeria should be fun! I'll be seeing family and friends that I haven't seen for a year, so that's good. I might even meet up with some bloggers as well! If you are going to be in Lagos this Christmas, feel free to holla!
And finally, my writer's block has cleared, so I'm going to make the most of this time. I've finally updated my writing blog, and I'll be putting up a couple more stuff on it in the next week, fingers crossed. It feels good to be productive again!
Later blogville, hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

America Votes

America votes today! In a few hours or so, we'll be hearing all about the US election and the results as they trickle in. I have tried not to get caught up in the campaigns over the last months, but I'm now eager to see how it would all shape up. I've heard so many arguments for both sides, both for and against the Democrats and the Republicans. I've heard so many opinions about the candidates themselves, about their policies, their experiences, their qualifications and leadership abilities. But I have to admit, I'm excited about the prospect of Obama winning the election and becoming president of the United States. I like the way he has carried himself throughout the campaigns, first to become the democrat presidential nominee and later to become president. If I was able to, I would vote for Obama. So people and bloggers living in the States, use your voice, go out and vote!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Reflections

I've been MIA from blogville a bit in the last few weeks. Usual reasons would be because I've been busy. But it would be untrue for me to claim that. In fact I've just had my least productive month ever. It's a long story and I don't even know if everything really makes sense to me at the moment.

Has anyone ever had a "wilderness experience"? Have you ever felt so disappointed and disillusioned with yourself and with God? Have you ever gotten tired of the Christian race? Do you feel sometimes like you are losing your faith and God seems far away? I have been feeling like that for some time. Towards the end of September, I hit a brick wall in some areas of my life. At first I was angry with God for a really annoying weekend that hubby and I had. Then everything went downhill from there. The anger slowly disappeared but was replaced by a feeling of gloom that nothing could shake. It felt like there was a huge dark cloud hanging over my head. Probably because by that time I was so far away from God that I couldn't even function properly.

So of course what happened next? I developed a severe case of writer's block and my brain went into meltdown. I lost the motivation to do most things I usually enjoy, even reading a good book. I felt like I couldn't do anything useful with myself. I couldn't pray and I couldn't write. When I wrote that "Totally Random" post, I was trying to force myself to do something I normally enjoy but it wasn't the same. So I just scrambled the words together and gave up. I began to operate on auto-pilot because it was like something had sucked out all my joy and enthusiasm for life. The funny thing was that all this was an internal battle and I seemed perfectly fine on the outside. Even when I was in church I would sing, clap, smile and do everything else, but inside I felt like a fraud.

About ten days ago, I actually started to get tired and fed up with feeling this way. In church last Sunday, the speaker said that sometimes he too got tired of the Christian race and felt like he had no strength to go on. I totally understood what he meant and I hoped that I would finally regain some hope, faith and strength. During the week I told a good friend of mine how I had been feeling. She really encouraged me with her words:

Our Lord is so loving that He won't let you go. He is faithful and even though it looks like nothing seems to be working out, there is no question He loves us. Keep reminding yourself that. Lord knows we may go through times like this and ...... He never forgets that we are human, we grow tired, weary and frustrated with issues.
Gradually I was able to draw some hope and strength from her and finally I was able to get on my knees again and talk to my heavenly Father. I actually read my bible and devotional again after ignoring them for more than a month. One of the readings even said that when God brings you out of a wilderness experience, it's because He is preparing you for the next level. I really hope so! I'm glad to report that I'm feeling much better now. Actually the fact that I'm able to type this is a good sign. Last week I couldn't have strung words together that made sense.

I'm still not sure what God is trying to teach me through this experience though. Sometimes we may get the full picture and sometimes we may never know why God takes us through some situations. I guess it's a test of faith or endurance and I failed woefully. Hmmm.

One thing I now appreciate more, is the joy and blessing of having a good Christian friend around. And I have to thank you too, Believer.

Sorry if this post makes no sense whatsoever. Have a blessed week :^)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Funny News - Blogger Plant

Hi everyone! I've been MIA from blogville for a while. I'll be back soon to do a proper update. I just want to put up this story that I stumbled on today from the Telegraph news site:


Blogging plant posts daily news on its mood

A potted plant that posts daily news on its mood and health is believed to be the world's first botanical blogger.


Midori-san, which lives on the counter of a Japanese café, writes regular updates with the help of sensors attached to its leaves.

The detectors pick up electronic signals on the surface of the plant, which responds to light and human touch.

The data is then combined with weather and temperature information and translated into chatty blog posts using a computer algorithm.

"Today was a sunny day and I was able to sunbathe a lot... I had quite a bit of fun today," it wrote on October 16 from its cafe in Kamakura, near Tokyo.

A more recent entry was less perky: "It was cloudy today. It was a cold day."

Satoshi Kuribayashi, part of the team at Keio University behind the project, said that the aim was to reveal something of the hidden internal world of plants.

"We were initially interested in what plants are feeling and what they are reacting to where we can't see," he said.

Midori-san is a hoya kerrii, which are more commonly called "sweetheart plants" because of their heart-shaped leaves.

It joins a blogosphere that is thought to have several hundred million members across the world. More blog posts are written in Japanese than either Chinese or English, according to a 2007 study.




Interesting stuff! lol If you can read Japanese, check out the blog here: http://plant.bowls-cafe.jp/index.php

Have a great evening!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Totally Random

This is dedicated to the one I love.

Thank you Mr Leo Sayer.

It's midnight. I'm sitting down on my bed. Utterly bored, yet restless. I have lots of things to say but I'm feeling too lazy to write. I'm too awake to go to bed thanks to several cups of tea. I'm tired of the conversation I'm having with a friend on yahoo messenger. I decide to blog but I've been staring at the screen in frustration for twenty seven minutes. I give up and try listening to music instead. This song by Leo Sayer come on. "Dedicated to the one I love". Hmmmm.

The one I love is sleeping beside me. I'm reminded of one of our dates in February 2003. Valentine's day. We had been quarrelling three days before. I've forgotten what the argument was about. It doesn't matter anymore, maybe it never did. I still love him though.

Another song comes up: "Clubbin" by Marques Houston. This song reminds me of my days as a student. Days of hanging out with my friends. It reminds me of going clubbing on the night after exams. And those wonderful summer barbecues, that turn to house parties that go on till 2.00 in the morning.

"Unfaithful" by Rihanna comes up. Even though it's a fairly recent song, it makes me think of my teenage years. It reminds me of complicated love triangles.

Another song come up....

Gosh I'm soooo bored! And I'm in need of inspiration. Can anyone help?

This is the most random post ever! I wonder if it even makes sense? I don't know jo, I'll post it like that. I blame writer's block.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Award and Gists

Hi blogville people! Is it just me, or is this month of September flying by faster than all the previous months of the year? It's already the 23rd of the ninth month of the year for real! God is in control, that's all I can say.

I received a blog honour from Aloted - yay! She gave me the "Certified Honest Blogger" award. Thanks girl, I'm so grateful!
Okay so, this is my acceptance speech:

I would like to thank God, my wonderful hubby and Aloted for giving me this award. Thank you also to everyone who read and comment on my blogs, who have encouraged me and inspired me. And to all of you wonderful people that make blogville such a fun, entertaining and educative place to be! Thank you!

Here are the rules of the award:
1. When you receive the prize you must write a post showing it, together with the name of who has given it to you, and link them back
2. Choose a minimum of 7 blogs (or even more) that you find brilliant in their content or design.
3. Show their names and links and leave them a comment informing they were prized with an award
4. Show a picture of those who awarded you and those you give the prize (optional).
5. And then pass it on!

So I'm passing on the award to the following bloggers in no particular order:

1 Good Naija Girl
2 Vera
3 Believer
4 Diamond Hawk
5 No Limit
6 Cherub
7 Jaycee

I think you all deserve this lovely award!

Last week I had to embark on a transformation of some sorts. Alas, it seems after three years of marriage, I had been letting myself slip in terms of my appearance and hubby pointed this out to me (in a nice way of course, lol). He said he noticed that I only make an effort to look fabulous when I'm going out, and I don't bother much when I'm at home. I guess it became more noticeable because I stopped going to work so I didn't suit up and make up every morning anymore! That made me realise that I needed to take quick action before I became a frumpy housewife! So I took his advice on board and decided to do something about it. First, I had a critical look at my wardrobe and discarded the old and ugly stuff in there, gosh it's practically empty right now! Next I went to the MAC counter to get a make-over and update my look before I get stuck in a rut. Now I'm updating my clothes and accessories gradually, keeping an eye on the trends in fashion magazines and shows. You know how, before we ladies get married, we vow never to let our appearance take a back seat? Well I've realised that most ladies don't plan to allow it happen, it just does. It takes an effort to keep it up when you've become comfortable in your relationship. Now that I've realised though, I have no excuse so I'm going to make the effort. Fingers crossed!

Apart from that, I've been keeping busy with my work and I'm quite pleased with the progress I've made. I've now written five more chapters of my book. I've put the first five chapters on my writing blog now. But I'll be adding some more short stories to it, as time goes on. I'm hearing from other experienced writers that I should finish writing the whole thing first before editing it, but it's hard! I keep reading every sentence over and over, trying to make it sound better. It's slowing me down though, so I guess I need to finish writing the first draft before I worry about editing it. It's a huge learning curve for me and I know I still have a long way to go.

I'm off to start my day properly now, so take care friends, till I come back or pass by your blogs too! Enjoy the rest of your week.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Second Blog Anniversary

I've officially been blogging for two years!

I can't believe it, but it feels about right. Blogville is a weird and wonderful place to be involved in - all kinds of things going on with all kinds of people. Each person behind their own screen, typing and posting on topics that interest them. I've definitely enjoyed every ride, the good, the bad and the downright unbelieveable.

In the past two years:

I've started with one blog, and ended up with three!

I've spent countless hours in front of my computer, at all hours of the day and night, catching up on other people's writings.

I've been invited to read about people, sometimes so different from me, and yet, so similar in many ways.

I've had to imagine people dealing with situations that I have never faced.


I've been educated about opinions and experiences so different from mine.


I'm met many people I would never have met otherwise and I'm grateful for both the real and virtual friendships I've formed.


I've been inspired to dig deeper into myself and become a better person.


I've also been inspired to rekindle my love for reading and storytelling.


I've rejoiced with bloggers, cried with bloggers, prayed for bloggers, laughed along with bloggers.

So: many thanks to the bloggers who have made me laugh out loud with their funny and witty posts. Thanks to everyone who has dropped a kind word or two on my blogs, people who have encouraged me through their comments, people who have sent me emails with words of advice and comfort. I don't want to mention names, but you know who you are! Most of you I might never meet, but you have contributed to my life in many ways, thank you!

Many people start blogging, but for one reason or the other, they feel like they have to stop. For me it's like an open journal, it's an addiction I don't want to let go of, and it's a form of release. I hope I can continue to blog as long as there is life and I can access a computer! So here's to many more years in Blogville. Cheers!

Monday, September 1, 2008

New Month, New Ideas

Happy new month! I can't believe I've been away from my blog for two whole weeks. And I can't believe the month of August is already over. It's like the year is almost gone once you get to the "-ber" months: September, October, November and December. Before you know it, 2008 will be over and we will be ushering in the year 2009. Scary!

I've been quite busy in the last two weeks. Since leaving my job, I've been working on the book and taking small steps to reach my target before the end of the year. Check out my writing blog to read some chapters and short stories. I will be putting up more short stories as I go along. Then my little sis came round, and we had lots of fun! It was really nice to see her again even though it was quite a short trip. The bubbly girl helped herself to my clothes and stuff sha, before boarding her plane back. But it's all good, that's what little sisters are for.

My cousin also had her engagement and wedding ceremonies which was a great time. Weddings generate so much excitement in the family as you can imagine. Lots of people flew in, people staying over and such like. It was cool though - I got two new aso-ebi outfits, I got to see family and friends that I hadn't seen in ages, got to dance and take loads of photos. She's off on honeymoon now as the new Mrs and my life is slowly getting back to normal.

I've got a few new ideas up my sleeve, about making the most of my time outside the 9 - 5 routine. It's like there are so many things that you don't notice when you are busy working and working for someone else. Or you are too inflexible to take advantage of an opportunity when it presents itself. I was talking to a friend of mine who is absolutely fed up with her job and ready to quit any day now. She's thinking of business ideas to go into. I told her that once you have the ideas in your mind, take the plunge. It may seem scary at first, but really, what's the worst that could happen? You might fail once, but if you are determined, you will rise up again and learn from your mistakes. And then be better prepared to succeed. For me, I'm trying to build up my tough skin and be ready to face rejections from agents and publishers time and time again when I finish writing my book. I know from the experience of many other writers, success doesn't just land in the letter box. So I'm preparing for the worst.

Anyway, recently I had been thinking about that age-old question, "Why am I here?" that most of us have to ask ourselves at some point in our lives. I read the book "40 Days of Purpose" in 2006 and it did change my life. Maybe I need to read it again because I still have some questions I need answers to. But really I guess I'm just a bit impatient. I know I can only find my true purpose in God, but sometimes waiting is so hard. I want to know so many things right now and God is taking His time to reveal things slowly. Maybe I need to work on becoming more patient. Anyway while I was pondering these things I got a few things in my mind and I decided to write them down:

I am not here just to be a statistic - I am not an accident or mistake - I am not here just to live and die quietly - I wasn't born just to add to the population on this planet - I am not here to live a miserable existence - God had a good plan for me when He sent me to earth - I have gifts and talents that God has blessed me with - I can become whatever I dream of - There are goals to achieve and awards to win - I should make every single day count!

Hope you enjoy the rest of your week.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Out of the Race

Hey Blogville! It's been a while, and things move so fast on blogs these days. I've been quite busy in the last week. I've had a few posts stored up in my head, I just didn't have the time to come and update my blog. Now it's very early on Thursday morning, I'm very awake, so I decided to come and check up the updates on blogville. I was already having withdrawal symptoms all throughout the week, lol. I feel like I'm already out of the loop with gists on my favourite blogs.

Some things have changed since I last updated. My contract at work came to an end last Friday and I didn't renew it. So I've left my job (again) yay! My boss and colleagues gave me a nice send off with cards, flowers, champagne and some other nice stuff, which was great. I was actually not expecting them to give me anything since I had left the job before so it was a nice surprise. They really are a great company to work for with a nice culture. The only problem was the job itself! I heaved a huge sigh of relief when I walked out of the building and handed in my security pass. I don't think I can fully explain the feeling of a massive weight being lifted off my shoulders. Everyone was asking me what I'm going to do next and if I was ever going to come back (again!) but I didn't really want to say. I did tell two of my close friends over lunch and I promised to keep in touch and update them on my progress once in a while. I got home after leaving London on Friday afternoon and promptly crashed on my bed. Hubby came home much later and later he told me he had been talking to me but I didn't hear a thing. I was sleeping off the stress of commuting for six months!

Life seems a bit weird now, but in a good way. It feels good to be out of the 9 - 5! It felt good on Monday to ignore my 6.00am alarm clock and turn it off. It felt good not having to rush out of my house and dash to the station to catch the train into London. And it felt good to wake up not worrying about how on earth I'm going to survive another long, boring day at the office. I'm now looking forward to what the future holds. I have my goals for the rest of the year and many more ambitions I want to fulfil in the future so I'm asking God to hold my hand all the way. And already God is showing me things I might have missed because I had no time previously to consider.

I have to be very organised with my work though, because it is easy to get distracted with all the other stuff at home. I'm setting my daily and weekly targets and asking hubby to supervise, lol. I'm asking God for wisdom to balance my work with my other responsibilities. Especially when people expect you to be at their beck and call because you are at home, not at the office. Like yesterday, my neighbour popped round and asked if I would babysit her two kids while she went to the shops. I said it was okay because I wasn't working at that very moment. She came back in about three hours just as I was getting bored but it wasn't too bad. But she came in today again, wanting me to watch the kids again! I'm going to have to find a way to explain that I may be at home but I'm not idle and in need of something to do to fill up my time.

Well a few things are happening over the next two weeks; my cousin is getting married so there's a lot of excitement in the family. My sister is coming over from the US and I'm so looking forward to seeing her again. I haven't seen her since early 2007 so we have a lot of catching up to do. We're going to have a fun time together, even though she has also promised to clear out my closet. Sisters! Then we are going to have an engagement ceremony this weekend and the wedding next weekend so it's going to be a busy time! I'm going to be really disciplined with my time so I don't fall behind.

Hope you enjoy the rest of your week and the weekend!

PS: Has anybody been watching the Olympics? I feel as if it's been happening on another planet!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Summer, Success, Other News

Thank you for your comments and kind wishes in my last post. I really do appreciate it, and I pray that God will continue to give us reasons to celebrate good things in our lives. Hubby and I had a barbecue last weekend to celebrate and it was great, with lovely weather, family and good friends, great food and music! Aloted (and her hubby) came and represented blogville, and we had a nice time. I've been in a good mood since last week, I've got so many reasons to smile! The sun is finally out, and I'm enjoying everything that comes with that. I feel alert and energised in the mornings when the sun shines into my window, everyone is wearing nice summer clothes and huge sunglasses outside and I can enjoy cycling everywhere. Plus I'll be leaving my job soon! I'm already counting down the days to when I leave. I can't wait, I'm so looking forward to it. It's like, this has been the slowest six months of my life. I can't wait to start the next chapter.

Speaking of the next chapter, I'm really glad that I don't have to go through this alone, God is with me. Last week I was feeling pressured and terrified at the thought of leaving my job again and not having that security of a monthly pay check that comes along with it. It's daunting to think that every success I will achieve now is entirely up to me. But God has been showing me that I'm not alone, indeed He is with me every step of the way. It doesn't mean that I won't have to knuckle down and work hard when I need to, it doesn't mean that my dreams will come true overnight, but it is an assurance that with God by my side, and my wonderful hubby supporting and encouraging me, and my family and friends (and blog friends!) keeping me going, I can do it! I read somewhere this week that there is a bigger correlation between self-confidence and achievement, than between IQ and achievement. Meaning that the more self-confident you are and the more you believe in yourself, the higher your chances of success! I can just feel my self-confidence going through the roof right now.... lol.

Last week I attended a book reading in London and it was a book written by Halima Bashir and Damien Lewis titled Tears of the Desert. The organisers had claimed that it was one of the very rare memoirs of a woman born and raised in the conflict-torn area of Darfur in Sudan, so my curiosity was piqued. The reading was quite an eye-opener. Prior to this, I'm ashamed to say, I knew very little about the conflict in Darfur. I just read little bits of information in the newspaper and on the TV without really registering what's going on. The book goes into detail about this young woman's life, how she grew up in a small, peaceful and happy village until the conflict started and tore her community apart. After the reading there was an interview with the writers, and there were questions asked for her to explain things on a clearer level. There was also a discussion on how people in the West can help to alleviate the suffering of countless thousands of people, refugees in their own country. At the end of the event, I bought the book and I have just started reading it and it's so powerful, yet full of hope. I would urge anyone who cares about the state of the world we live in to buy the book and educate themselves. And safe to say that I prefer knowledge to ignorance of what's happening in Darfur.

Well I hope the good weather lasts, it makes such a difference. I have some fun plans for the weekend - a high school reunion and a friend's birthday party so I'm looking forward to them. In the meantime, I need to do my blog rounds, so I'll catch you all later!. Hope you enjoy the rest of your week.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Three-Year Celebration

I'm celebrating today, but first I want to thank God who makes all things possible. God has been and continues to be very good to me and my family. I'm grateful for God's love and I'm grateful for my hubby too. He's the one person that I know that knows me so well, and loves me anyway. I'm so thankful to God for bringing him into my life. I met him six years ago, married him three years ago today! So I'm celebrating meeting and marrying the most wonderful guy in my life. He really complements me, makes me happy and supports me in every way. God knew what He was doing when he match-made us, cos I can't imagine being with anyone else!


Here's to many many many more years of happy married life! Love you honey!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

I Need a Wife

Yes I'm female and I'm married to a guy, excuse the tongue-in-cheek title. I've got so many things going on in my mind and I couldn't decide what to talk about. So I just decided to write whatever popped into my head today.

One day I popped into my local WHSmith and picked up a writers magazine. In it there was an article talking about how writers face time management issues with structuring their work around other daily activities, especially if they are full time writers and don't have the structure of the 9 - 5 routine. The article included a survey of writers, a mixture of both men and women, and the responses they gave. The majority of the male writers said that they had no time management problems as such, they just got up from bed in the morning, had breakfast and then went to their study to get on with work. The female writers seemed to have a more complicated day however. One of them said she has to get up, make breakfast for everyone, get the kids bathed, dressed and ready for school, go and drop the kids off, come back home, clear away the breakfast plates, do the washing up, sort out the laundry, and plan what to cook for lunch before she starts her writing for the day. She might need to also do some shopping to stock up the fridge. In the afternoon, she has to prepare lunch, pick the kids up from school, feed them, supervise them and play with them, or find something to engage them while she works. When dinner time comes around, she has to cook for the family and clear up before returning to her work. It's much harder for a female to work from home where there are a myriad of tasks that keep distracting her from her work.

The writer of the article commented that it must be nice to be a man and have a woman in your life to do all the domestic stuff for you while you just get on with your job. Somebody has to look after the home whether one or both parties are working. Nowadays there are some men who don't mind helping the woman out in the home sometimes, but it's still not automatically a shared responsibility. That got me daydreaming about how nice it must be to have someone who looks after me while I spend hours in my study writing.

(Daydreaming) I would like to wake up in the morning and my breakfast is ready for me on the table. My study has been cleaned, my clothes are washed, ironed and ready for me to wear to work. After breakfast I disappear into my study to write for hours on end and I don't come out until lunch time. When I finish working for the day, my dinner is on the table and I can just relax and watch TV. The children are tucked into bed and I go to wish them goodnight. My own bed is neatly laid when I go to sleep and when I wake up in the morning, the cycle continues. (End of daydream).

Unfortunately life doesn't work that way! For most working women, many of us have to juggle our jobs and careers with housework, whether we are single, living with parents, or married. And house chores have to be done - there is no getting away from them. I can understand why many women back in Nigeria have to get maids to help them with the housework and nannies to help with looking after young children. Personally, I don't think I would ever get a maid, because these things tend to become complicated, but once in a while I feel like I wouldn't mind having a wife to do my cooking and cleaning, to look after the kids and make sure that my home runs smoothly, while I sit in my study to write. It's nice to imagine.... LOL.

In other news, the Caine Prize Award 2008 was held last week. The shortlist was as follows:

Mohammed Naseehu Ali (Ghana) ‘Mallam Sile’, from ‘The Prophet of Zongo’
Henrietta Rose-Innes from South Africa ‘Poison’ from ‘Africa Pens’
Stanley Onjezani Kenani (Malawi) ‘For Honour’ from ‘African Pens’
Gill Schierhout (South Africa) ‘The Day of the Surgical Colloquium’ from ‘African Pens'
Uzor Maxim Uzoatu (Nigeria) ‘ Cemetery of Life ’ from ‘Wasafiri’ No52

And the winner was: Henrietta Rose-Innes from South Africa, with her story ‘Poison’ from ‘Africa Pens’. If you want to read any of the shortlisted stories, there are links on Molara Wood's blog: here

Meanwhile I need to go and check out Blogville Idols, seems like I'm missing out on all the fun and excitement going on. Hope you are having a great weekend!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

More on Work and Careers

I was in a cranky mood earlier today. My journey to work was awful - there was a problem on the trains so I had to stand all the way into Central London resulting in a back ache. I finally got on the tube and it was cramped, hot and smelly. Then I could feel a cold coming on so I had to go and buy some cold remedies because falling sick is the last thing I want right now. I got to the office and could not find a reason to be cheerful even though the sun was shining. I was thinking - I hate this job, I hate the 9 - 5 stuff, I hate commuting, etc. It was just one of those days that seem to start wrong and the clouds don't lift. Okay rant over.

My friend sent me an email saying "In all things give thanks". Initially I read it and pushed it out of my mind. Then I thought about it later and realised that I should give thanks for everything. Life is not always sweet or comfortable. There will be days I would wish I had stayed in bed instead. But God is in control, He is there to comfort me. If only I would reach out for Him. By lunch time I felt better and my mood cleared. I need to learn not to get so stressed by things I can't control.

Anyway I hope you all are having a good week so far. In my last post, I talked about my job and my commitment to stay till August and that's it. Now my boss called me a few days ago and asked me if I could stay in the job until January! It appears the girl I'm covering doesn't feel quite ready to come back to work and I don't blame her. Well I had quite an easy choice to make: and I've decided to decline the offer! It would go against everything I now know, if I stay in the job after August. I've got lots of other things to do and I feel the job is not worth my precious time anymore.

Besides, recently I have been thinking of my long-term financial goals. Like most people, I dream of being financially stable someday without relying on a monthly salary from "the day job". I know that I would probably never get that real financial freedom from my current job. Also, I don't see that happening with any jobs I would be considered suitable for in the current job market. So I have to broaden my scope and look beyond the next paycheck that would only be swallowed by rising expenses. I'm now making some long term plans and I have to work hard to make them come true. It's never too early to start planning for a worry-free retirement!

Last week, I was chatting with a friend of mine and she said she was considering starting a business she could be doing to earn more money while she works on her 9 - 5 job. Seeing as I had been thinking along the same lines, I was interested in the topic so we started talking and making suggestions. We went through a list of options, what could she start doing in her spare time to earn money and maybe turn into a full time career in the near future? We came up with: Photography, Cake baking and decorating, Make-up artist, Hair dressing, Web design, Events organising, Sewing, Designing Shoes and Handbags, Balloon and Flower decorating, Knitwear designer, Basket Weaving (don't laugh!), Personal Shopper, Designing Party Stationery like invitations, RSVP cards and stuff, Massage and Beauty Therapy, Fitness Instructor, Part time Journalist or Columnist, Fashion Stylist, Jewellery Designer, Interior Designer, Printmaking, Painting and Drawing, etc. At the end of the discussion she said she would think about the one that appealed to her the most.

The discussion got me thinking though. That list up there is just the tip of the iceberg, there are so many options out there that many of us haven't explored. How many of us have dreams of starting something or using our creativity but we never get round to it? If you have a passion for something, what's stopping you from pursuing it? Think of the ideas that pop into your mind sometimes and you think "Yeah I could do that!". But you procrastinate and let the idea go cold, and soon you forget about it and carry on with life as usual. But that attitude will not make dreams come true. You have to do something different from the norm, you have to step out of the dream and start working to make it a reality.

I think any of those ideas look promising. If anything appeals to you, I would say go for it! Maybe you would need to take a class to improve your skills. Don't let that be a deterrent. Gradually working towards your goal will give you a sense of fulfilment that you can't get anywhere else. You can do something now, start putting things in place, start your business small. Maybe start with family and close friends and gradually take it to the next level by expanding your customer base. Before you know it, you could have something worth quiting your job for in a few short years. Imagine earning money from your passion and better still, having financial independence and your time to yourself! I think that sounds infinitely better than being chained to a desk, slaving away at a job you hate in the hope of climbing up the slippery career ladder.

I discussed this topic with another friend of mine. She was saying that she would keep her job until she gets married and takes time off to have a baby, then she will think of something else to do. While this is good, I think it's another reason to procrastinate. That way you're still thinking in your mind "I'll do it later" or "Not right now". But will there ever be a perfect time for you to start aiming for your goals? It's better to start earlier rather than later in my opinion. That way you can take the risks and get the mistakes out of the way sooner. Then you can still bounce back and be on your way to a fulfilling and rewarding career.

Enjoy the rest of your week.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Rediscovering Myself

If I'm honest, I have to confess that I didn't want to write this post. Seeing as I'm trying to be honest with myself, and have a record of what God is teaching me at every stage in my life, I have decided to put it in writing and share it. So here goes.

Sometime last year, I felt God was telling me to leave my job, leave the 9 -5, leave everything connected to my previous accounting career behind and focus on becoming a writer. I was so convinced about this that I prayed about it and I got the confirmation again and again. So about the end of June last year, took the plunge! I quit my job and waited for God to show me what to do next. I asked - "What should I start doing now?" Sure enough, God started opening my eyes and inspiring me so that I could start taking small steps on the path that He had called me to walk. Even though I knew I had a lot to learn and a very long road to walk before I started to see my dreams become a reality, I loved the peace that it gave me, knowing I was doing God's will. I travelled to Nigeria in October and at the end of 2007, I asked God what His plans were for me in 2008. At the beginning of the year, I knew He wanted me to focus on my writing and take it seriously. I was all geared up to do just that when I came back to England in January.

Then I got an email from my former boss asking me if I wanted to take my job back for six months while the girl that replaced me takes her maternity leave. I mentioned it on this blog and I was wondering if it was a good idea to take the job back, knowing it would distract me from what I was supposed to be doing. I prayed about it and waited for God to say yes or no, but I didn't hear anything and I had to get back to my boss in a week. I thought of all the reasons why I should or shouldn't go back to work and I justified it to myself that since it was only six months, it shouldn't be a big deal, and the money would come in handy while I do try to do my writing during my spare time. So I did not "trust in the Lord with all my heart" as Proverbs 3 v 5 says, instead I "leaned on my own understanding", so I said yes and went for it.

Big mistake. It wasn't long before I realised that I had made the wrong move. After a month back at work, I was bored with the job, angry with myself, frustrated with the stress, and tired of the commuting. Then to make matters worse, I was falling behind on the writing I was supposed to be doing in my spare time. Every time someone asked me "how's your writing going?" I always felt awful (thanks Believer, Mimi, GNG, Vera and Jaycee, lol) because I knew I wasn't as focused on it like I should have been. But it was too late by then because I had committed to stay in the job until August.
Then I was too proud to admit to God that I had made a mess and ask for forgiveness. Instead I grew colder and colder because I blamed Him for not answering me promptly when I asked if I should take my job back. Silly of me, I know. But I'm so grateful that God is a loving and forgiving Father who is merciful enough to overlook my mistakes, faults, shortcomings, what-not and draw me back to Him. Two weeks ago, I was in church on Sunday with a sullen attitude, when I was hit right in the face with a message titled "Listening to God". Suddenly I heard it loud and clear as if God was saying to me: "You silly girl, you should have listened to what I told you at the beginning of the year before you went off and did your own thing. Now, see how unhappy you are". I was hooked for the rest of the service. Afterwards, I went to meet the speaker to get the poem she read out during her sermon. She told me that God told her when she was preparing her message notes that she should print a spare copy of the poem because somebody would be needing it. I was so humbled when I left church that afternoon. I knew then what I had to do, so I went back to God and asked Him to forgive me and help me make things right again. All through that week, I had the poem on my table and I read it every day. And every time I saw it, the message sank into my head again: listen to God before you take any big step.

So I've made a mistake and learnt a lot of lessons. One of them is that nothing, absolutely nothing is worth straying out of God's will for. I've learnt that it's wise to postpone a difficult decision until I'm absolutely sure of what God says. I've learnt that I need to focus on what God has called me to do and not get distracted by other things that look tempting. I'm learning to be patient and work according to God's time-table and not mine. And I've learnt that even when I've messed up big time, God is always willing to give me a second chance to make things right again.

I thought I should share the poem too, because I'm sure it will bless somebody who needs to read it.


The Father's Voice

Listen my child,
Beyond the noise of other voices,
Other pressures,
Beyond your conscience, your knowledge
Listen for my voice.

The shepherd's voice pierces the babble,
And can be heard
But it can also be missed
By the attentive ear
Listen for my voice

My voice reminds you of my presence,
My love.
It helps guard you
From distractions from my way
Listen for my voice

The practice
Of listening for my voice
Will help keep you true to me
Focused upon me
Listen for my voice

And sometimes what you hear
Will astound you
But you will recognise the Truth
Because you know my voice
Listen to my voice.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Orange Prize: Winners Announced

Here's an update from the previous post:

Rose Tremain was announced as the winner of the 2008 Orange Prize for her novel "The Road Home". It's a story of Lev, an immigrant from Eastern Europe, who travels to Britain to seek work. He is grieving the passing of his wife, while he leaves his land and everything to come to a new strange land. He wants to get a good job so that he can send money back home to support his mother and daughter.

Joanna Kavenna was awarded the Orange Broadband Award for New Writers for her book "Inglorious" which is about a character, Rosa who goes through a break down after the death of her mother. She quits her good job, her boyfriend breaks up with her and gets engaged to her friend, her debts begin to pile up and her bank is not helping matters.

I was at the readings for both awards and I actually bought the book "Inglorious" afterwards. I've started reading it and I'm intrigued to see what happens to the character as the story unfolds. I'll probably buy "The Road Home" as well because it sounds interesting. Mainly because I want to see how the writer portrayed English people through the eyes of an immigrant.

Hope you all had a great weekend and are looking forward to a wonderful week!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Orange Broadband Prize 2008

The Orange Prize celebrates excellence, originality and accessibility in international women’s writing. As we all know, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie won the prize last year and brought a lot of recognition to Nigeria and Nigerian writers. The events for 2008 are upon us and this evening, I attended the readings of the books shortlisted. This year's entries are quite different from last year's but no less interesting. I enjoyed listening to the writers reading out their work and I'm finding it hard to judge which one will go on to become the eventual winner. The shortlisted writers are as follows:

Nancy Huston - Fault Lines more

Sadie Jones - The Outcast more

Charlotte Mendelson - When We Were Bad more

Heather O’Neill - Lullabies for Little Criminals more

Rose Tremain - The Road Home more

Patricia Wood - Lottery more

For more information, visit the Orange Prize website

I plan to attend the further discussions with the authors tomorrow evening, then I'll decide which of the books I'm going to buy. Hopefully I'll pick the winner! Let me know what you think about the books and the authors.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Motorbike Training, Amsterdam

Hey bloggers and readers! Hope your week went well and you are having a really cool weekend. First of all, I want to send a big shout-out to my little sister who had a birthday recently. She's now a proper big girl and I'm so proud of the young lady she has become. I'm too overwhelmed with emotions to write an epistle about her, but she knows how I feel. Love you loads darling!

I've had a really great time in the last few days. I took the whole of last week off work. It was a huge relief not to be at a desk in the office all day, and coming home tired and grumpy in the evenings. I wanted to make the most of it, because hubby had a week off as well so we put our days into good use. Last Monday, hubby and I went to try our hands at motorbiking. I have always wanted a scooter or a motorbike (just for the something fun and different factor) and I had been bugging him to get me a scooter for a long time. So he finally agreed and then we found out that we needed to do some training before we would be allowed to get on the road. I thought it would be a breeze, by my, was I surprised. We got to the training centre and I spent the whole day just learning to balance on the bike properly, starting and stopping safely and stuff. Finally when I was given the chance to ride around the track, needless to say, I fell off a few times! It was still great fun though and I intend to continue practicing until I can ride a motorbike perfectly. However long that may be.

The rest of my week went great too. On Tuesday and Wednesday, I just chilled and lazed around. And then on Thursday, hubby and I popped out again for a short city break. This time we went to Amsterdam, a lovely city famous for its canals, bridges, cycling, friendly Dutch people and that district. We were there for three days and we had a blast. Being there has made me even more determined to learn a few European languages, so that is going up on my to-do list. I think I now prefer Amsterdam to Bruge or Brussels, but I'll make a few more trips before I decide on my favourite European city.

Here are some photos of Amsterdam:








Next time I get a chance to visit Holland, I'll try to see Rotterdam and The Hague as well. But for now, it's back to work for me and I'm so not looking forward to it. But I've got a lot of interesting things lined up for June so it should be a great month. Hope you have a lovely June too!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Asa's Songs: Awe, Bibanke

It seems a lot of people were interested in hearing the gist behind Asa's songs after I wrote the review of her London concert. So here goes:

Awe: This is a story about a young man (Waheedi), his aunt and his lover. This young man grew up in the village and when he grew older and finished school, he left the village to go to Lagos. In Lagos, he stayed with his aunt, and she helps him to secure a job. For some time, everything is fine. He goes to work everyday, comes home everyday and he gets on well with his aunt. Then one day he met a woman. She is older than him but it doesn't matter, they fall in love. Their relationship is deep and passionate, they engage in trysts at every chance they get. And what do you expect? The woman soon got pregnant. She told Waheedi about the pregnancy and he vanished for three days. In the meantime, the woman goes to his house to look for him and met his aunt. She tells the aunt that she is looking for Waheedi and she is carrying his baby. His aunt is obviously not pleased to hear this. When Waheedi eventually turns up, his aunt confronts him and what she's saying is the basis of the song. She is asking:
"Where have you been for the past three days? How come that woman who is old enough to be your mother said she is pregnant and it's your baby?"
Anyway, when his lover finally gives birth to the baby, there are more questions than answers. The baby doesn't quite look like Waheedi and his aunt comments on this:
"How come you are dark skinned and the baby is light skinned?"

She also mentions how they are related through his mum and grandmother. She ends the song by telling him she has enough problems on her plate, so she is not in the mood to deal with his own issues too. And so the story goes on....

Bibanke: This is the story of love turning bad. Asa has said in interviews that she wrote the song based on the experiences of her mum, her sister and a friend. It is about love that started very well in the beginning. When everything starts off being rosy, she holds on to all the promises the guy tells her and she is sucked in by his words. So much so that when it turns bad, she doesn't want to let go. The guy starts toying with her emotions, disrespecting her, blowing hot one minute and cold, the next. But she holds on to the negative relationship, making excuses for the guy, keeping up apprearances on the outside, even though she is breaking down inside.
Eventually, the guy leaves her and her bubble bursts. She needs to cry and let out all the emotions she has been keeping up bottled up inside for so long. She cries and cries and refuses to be consoled. She asks everyone to leave her alone to cry, even if she cries a river or a waterfall. But through her tears, she is washing away the hurt and pain. She will cry until she doesn't feel the hurt and rejection anymore. Then she will leave the guy, their relationship and everything to God.

Interesting stories right? (Beware your private life ending up in an album if your friend is an aspiring singer!) I love Asa though, she rocks!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Asa's Concert

Hello everyone! Hope you've been having a great week so far. Thanks to everyone who wished me a happy belated birthday, much appreciated! My weekend was good, the weather was perfect for barbecues, going on a picnic and reading in the garden. And I got to do just that.

My week also started on a great note. On Monday evening, I went to see Asa play at the Carling Academy in London. Her gig was amazing! I knew I would enjoy her show because I love all the songs on her album, but she definitely exceeded my expectations.

I went with two of my friends, one of them had only heard three of her songs and he was so captured by her that he wanted to see her play live. And we were not disappointed. We got to the venue early and since I had bought our tickets ages ago, so we didn't have to join the long queue. We got in at 7.30pm and got a space right at the front of the venue (it was standing only) and we waited for the show to begin. The hall filled up quickly, most of the people in the audience were Nigerians, but there were also some French people and other nationalities there.

The show began with the opening act, Ben Onono. He sang four songs, one of them called Badagry Beach, another called Blue Moon, and he also played the piano brilliantly. After he finished, the audience clapped and cheered, and we waited expectantly for the main performer to come on.


Ben Onono

Some people in the audience started chanting "Asa, Asa, Asa". One by one, her band members came on the stage, took a bow and began playing their instruments. The crowd started cheering and then her back-up singer came on, smiling at us like she knew we were waiting for Asa herself to come on. Then we heard the beginnings of her song "360" and the crowd went wild. Asa came on stage singing the song and the audience joined in, singing all the words and screaming.

She was brilliant - in one word. She was dressed simply with minimum fuss and make up, but she had amazing stage presence and we were all mesmerized. She interacted with the audience, performed like the star she is, and brought all her songs to life. During a performance by the band, she danced and the girl can move! For most of the show, the audience sang along and she seemed pleased by the response she got. At some point, her back-up singer was staring at the crowd in surprise and amusement because we had taken over her job!

After the first song, she sang "Subway" and then before she started singing "Bibanke" she told us the gist about the song. It was deep. Next came a new song that is not on her album, something like "Iro Ko Da". She then asked a member of the audience to come and join her to sing on stage. So many people screamed and jostled for her attention, it was funny. She called two girls up to the stage and they sang beautifully. "Fire on the Mountain" followed and of course we sang along, cheered, clapped and whooped when the song came to an end.

She chatted a bit and then started telling us the story behind the "Awe" song, teasing us with the enticing bits about the young man, his aunt and his lover. I enjoyed that and I thought it was really good, because I love the song and I know what the words mean, but I hadn't really gotten the gist of it before. When she sang it all the words came to life and you could almost imagine the people that were in the situation she described.

The next song she performed was "Peace" which we all enjoyed. When she started "Jailer" and invited the audience to sing along with her, we all went crazy, jumping up and down, waving our arms, screaming the song at the top of our lungs, and it was great! We definitely rocked that venue!

Then she sang "Beautiful", but before then, she told us that the song was dedicated to all beautiful ladies in the crowd, and she tried to engage us to "sing" along with her, teasing us by saying we should sing very softly so that the guys in the audience would "feel" it. We cleared our throats and tried our best to copy her but most of us just descended into giggles. Then she sang the song and gave it so much depth and meaning, doing a nice dance in the middle, to the beat of the drums.

She said the next song "No One Knows Tomorrow" was going to be the last song. So we savoured it and when the song came to an end, she thanked the audience, took a bow and went off stage. Some people started to leave, but most people in the audience decided to hang around and started chanting "Asa! More, More!" Then she and the band came back on stage! She said they stopped the music because she is shy and when she mentioned her name, we did not encourage her. So we screamed ourselves hoarse and then she decided to perform a few more songs for us.

She sang "Eye Adaba" wonderfully well, then she also performed two songs: one by Nina Simone and another by Bob Marley. Lastly, she did a mixed medley of three of her songs and then the show came to an end. We cheered, clapped and screamed and she said we were making her miss home, so when next she comes to London she would love to see us again, and stop by our house for some egusi soup :-) She introduced us to her excellent band: there was Janet, her back-up singer, Jeff played the drums, Nicola played the Guitar, Rodi played Bass and Didier played the key boards. They all took a bow, while we all clapped and cheered for them.

In all, it was a great show and a really good performance by Asa. I think I'm now her biggest fan! Her band was great too, so the quality of the music was excellent. I wish she could do another show in London before the end of the year, I'll definitely be there. The only downside was that it started late and it was a Monday so most people had to leave immediately the show ended to get home.
Here are some of my amateur photos of the gig:





Thursday, May 8, 2008

My Birthday, Appreciating Life and Writing

It was my birthday last weekend. At the beginning of the year, I kept on remembering that I would soon hit the "quarter of a century" mark and I thought it was so scary. I kept thinking: "What have I been doing since I was born? Have I made my mark on the world around me? Am I accomplishing my goals? If I was to review my life thus far, is there a legacy I can leave? Is my life and inspiration to others? Am I really fulfilling my purpose?" and so on. I was discussing these questions with my sister one day and she said, "You have to look at the things you have achieved so far and count them as blessings, then figure out the next set of goals you want to aim for". That cheered me up and inspired me, so as my birthday approached, instead of having a panic attack, I was able to relax and celebrate the totality of my few years of existence on the planet. And I look forward to many more! I get that feeling of "make time count" now, because every second adds up so quickly that I know I must utilise the rest of my life well. Well, because I don't know how much of it I have left you see. Funny enough, I actually feel good about growing older every year now, but maybe you should ask me again in ten years.

Putting all these sober reflections aside, I planned to let my hair down and have a good time so I had a party! It's not everyday one gets to reach a milestone in life is it? So I invited hubby, a few old friends (and some new ones too!) to celebrate with me, including two of my favourite girl bloggers: Mimi and Aloted. It was my first time meeting Aloted because we narrowly missed each other in Nigeria during the Christmas/New Year period last year. We all had fun at the bar on Saturday, eating, drinking, dancing, taking photos and generally having a great time. I got loads of presents too and I can truly say I had a fabulous birthday party. (I have a wishlist if anyone still wants to get me a present .. lol).

I don't know if this is a sign of growing older, but I've noticed that I'm now appreciating the people around me a lot more than I used to. It's not as if I've ever taken my family and friends for granted, but there is definitely something different. I had a conversation with a friend of mine recently and afterwards, I felt so blessed to have her in my life. She's one of the people that I know will give me the last clothes off her back if I needed it. Then my mum came to visit as well and I have also started appreciating her more. Then my sisters... they are like God-sent angels and they have been so supportive lately. Then there's my hubby, it seems I now look at him through different eyes. He truly is an amazing person and I'm blessed to be his wife. I hope I never forget that in all things, it is the people that love me and the people I love that have the most impact in my life.

I'm still working on my writing and it's so slow! I'm now appreciating all those books I see on the shelves in stores. I can now imagine the writer, taking time everyday to write each word down one by one. I can visualise how many times they wrote something and tore it up because it didn't sound right. I can picture them editing and re-editing their work before they got to the final draft. I can see them adding or taking out a character or sub-plot. Gosh I now know that writing a good story is not as easy as it looks! Sometimes I wish it were easier and I could just transpose all the thoughts in my head somehow and it would make sense to anyone that comes across it. But I can't. I have to physically write it out and read it out to myself until I get it right. And even then, I should be open to criticism.

Anyway let me not bore you off my blog with my rants, who sent me eh? It's getting warmer in England now (finally!), the sun is out and so are the miniskirts and shorts, ice-cream and lunches in the park. I'm out of here to enjoy the rest of the daylight. Who am I kidding, I'm off to my class! Hope you enjoy the rest of your week and you have a lovely weekend!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Next Trip, Stress and Stuff

I can't believe it's been a month since I last updated my blog. Time has flown by so quickly. It's not that I've had nothing to say or nothing has been going on in my life, quite the opposite in fact. I actually came to my blog determined to update it last week, I had so many things running through my mind. But after staring blankly at the screen for ages, I thought I'll give it a rest until I can bring myself to write.
The last month has been a particularly busy one. When I wasn't busy with work, I was travelling, and when I wasn't travelling, I was stressed out with my writing career. And upon all, I have been feeling ill with all kinds of unusual symptoms! I feel a lot better now health wise, I didn't go to work today so tat I could go and see the doctor. But I'm still stressing over some decisions that I have to make, and the answers seem to be eluding me. I guess I have to pray harder. Anyway on to the gist:

I've heard that once you get bitten by the travel bug, there is no cure! I've found that to be very true. It's like once you go on one trip, you want to go on more! So it is with this in mind, that soon after hubby and I came back from Belgium, we planned two short trips when we both had a break from work. We went to Sweden first, then Italy.
I'm getting used to Passport Control officers scrutinising my passport more closely when I arrive at airports. When we arrived in Sweden, we were in front of a queue that was moving quickly until we got to the desk. The lady stamping the passports spent less than 30 seconds looking at the red British and European passports, but when shown a green one, she checked on a list beside her desk and asked us many questions, before she was satisfied that we were okay to enter her country. Hubby and I just smiled when we finally got to the other side. It seems like when it comes to immigration matters, Nigeria is always on some dodgy list or the other so immigration officials have to ask us more questions.
We found our way from the airport into the main city centre by taking one of those airport transit coaches, that dropped us right in the Central Station. We walked around for a while, comparing the city of Stockholm with cities in UK and Belgium. I thought it looked quite different as the architecture of the old buildings were slightly different in Scandinavia compared to Western Europe. Again, we were glad to find that a lot of people speak English quite well. It was interesting to hear English spoken in a Swedish accent. I liked the language because it's somewhere between English and German so it was quite easy to guess what the signs and words on display meant. When we started getting tired and cold, we had lunch and then set off to find our hotel.
Either we suddenly became bad at reading maps or we were reading Swedish maps upside down, but it took us ages to find our hotel. We got lost a few times, but in the end we managed to find it. For the rest of the evening, I was too cold and tired to go looking for any more excitement so we just chilled indoors eating dinner and watching Swedish television until the next day.
The next morning we headed out to the town centre again, first we wanted to go to the Tourist Information Centre to get maps and guides to the city. But we couldn't find the office anywhere! So we decided to just wing it, and wander around on our own. What's the worst that could happen? We didn't get lost in the end, we managed to find a lot of interesting sights around Stockholm by following other tourists and checking the Street Maps in the city centre. Eventually we found the Old Town, the museums, Old Royal Palace, shopping area and a few other interesting sights. We stopped to have lunch at the Central Station and chilled out for a bit. We resumed our exploration of the city till evening, strolling through the city centre when we noticed a group of people of all races coming out of a church. Out of curiosity, we decided to pop in. It seemed like the Sunday evening service had just ended and people were meeting and greeting each other. It felt exactly like a church back in England, except that they were speaking a different language. A few people smiled at us, some people just looked at us with curiosity. We didn't stay long, we just strolled in and strolled out. It was a bit silly, but fun actually. On our way back to our hotel when it was nightfall, we finally found the tourist information office. Typical! After we had navigated our own way around the town. In any case, we noted the spot and decided it was still worth a visit the next day.
The next morning, we checked out of our hotel because we were flying out that night. We decided to make the most of our limited time in Stockholm. I wanted to browse the shops while hubby wanted to do other things, so in the end we split up and went separate ways. I went to the main shopping areas and noticed that there were a lot of H&M shops around, then it dawned on me that H&M is a Swedish company, so it made sense. I had fun wandering around, window shopping and mentally converting all the prices from SEK to pounds in my head. Eventually I bought a lovely scarf and a top and went to the tourist info centre to pick up a list of more attractions. But there didn't seem to be anything else I could do in a few hours so I met up with hubby for lunch, again in the main central station. We swapped gists of our adventures and while we relaxed, we were people-watching and noticed a difference between Stockholm and London. The people seemed to be a lot more laid back and chilled out compared to Londoners. Even at 5.00pm when we were expecting the hustle and bustle of rush hour, most people still strolled around casually. We took one last stroll around, but soon it was time for us to head back to the airport, so we said our goodbyes to Stockholm and got on the coach back to the airport. The next day we headed off to Venice... but that is another post for another day.

Here are some photos from Stockholm:





I'm excited at the moment though. I've got a birthday coming up soon and it's a milestone! I'm excited to be reaching another milestone in my life, but I'm thinking it's almost unbelievable! When was I a 9-year old running around and getting excited about reaching double figures? Now I'm a big girl! I'm planning to have a get-together with my friends next weekend. I'll let you know how it goes! Hope you enjoy the rest of your week!

PS: Thanks to the "update police" for checking up on me!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Asa (Nigerian Singer)


I've mentioned this talented lady before but I don't think I did her enough justice. I've been listening to her album over and over again and I still can't get enough of it. It's so so cool. I first heard it when I was in Lagos over the Christmas period and I fell in love with it instantly. So much so that I went and bought two copies of her CD immediately, one for me and one for a friend. I played it non-stop until I got back to the UK. When I gave my friend her own copy, she fell in love with it instantly too. Last Sunday, I played it in the car and another guy heard the first three songs and wanted the album. Then he played it at work and his boss wanted it too! There's just something about her music that captures you and blows you away. The album has now been released in the UK (you can get it from Amazon ) and it's getting great reviews!
I'm such a big fan of hers, so you can imagine my excitement when I found that she will be playing a gig in the UK soon, London in May. (For more details see her page at MySpace ). So if you are an Asa fan in the UK, don't miss a chance to see her in concert. I plan to go and I can't wait to see her perform her songs live. My favourite songs from the album are "Bibanke", it's so soulful with a hint of sadness but the music lifts you up and "Fire on the Mountain", the music is simple, but lyrics are deep and they make you think.
Here's a video of her first single "Fire on The Mountain":

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Belgium Trip

Hey everyone! I hope you all had a nice time at Easter and didn't scoff too many Easter eggs. I usually like the Easter weekend because it cuts down two of my working weeks to four-day weeks! I had a good Easter break different from the norm, hubby and I went off to explore three cities in Belgium and we had a really nice time.

We arrived in Brussels on Friday and walked around a bit before going off to find our hotel. Unfortunately we didn't really get to explore it much because it was snowing most of Friday. It's quite a big city, very similar to London, and was quite easy to navigate around. We did notice that there were a lot less CCTV cameras in the Metro and the city centres than you would find in the UK. The people we met were quite nice and friendly. Initially, I had been worried about how we would get on since neither of us speaks French or Dutch, but it turned out most people also speak English there too, if you ask politely. When we first arrived, a man came up to meet us and said something in Dutch. Hubby and I shook our heads, then he spoke some rapid French, and we still shook our heads. Finally he spoke to us in English and then we could have a conversation! Experiencing that makes me want to rekindle my desire to learn a new language though! It would have been lovely to understand what people around us were saying. Maybe that should be on my to-do list for the later part of the year.

On Saturday we took the train for a day return trip to Brugge, which is a lovely tourist town just about an hour from Brussels. I preferred Brugge to Brussels, because it had a nice small town feel to it and there were more interesting things to see and do. It has a canal going through the main streets, and we went on a boat trip on it. There was also a bus tour and a horse-drawn carriage trip around the city, but hubby and I decided to walk around instead as advised by our guidebook. We discovered lots of interesting independent shops with the things that Belgium is known for: beer, lace shops, antique outlets and of course, not forgetting the famous Belgian chocolate shops. There were huge Easter eggs in the chocolate shops, all looking so tempting. I could stay in the chocolate shops for ages. Eventually when we got tired of walking around, we went to have a meal and chilled out for a bit before we continued our exploring. In the evening, we hopped on the train and headed back to Brussels. For dinner I tried the local dish "Mussels in Brussels" which is mussels cooked in a white wine and garlic sauce served in a huge pot with fries. It was different, but I enjoyed it, well I love seafood.

On Sunday morning, we took another train to Antwerp and that was nice too. It's also a big city with it's own Metro system and lots of interesting architecture from previous centuries. We explored the city centre as much as we could, walking around, mingling with lots of other tourists, taking photographs and noting down all the places of interest in our tourist guide. Our travel guide had said that it would not be possible to see all that Antwerp has to offer in one day though. And it was true because we wanted to go to the zoo and I wanted to see the fashion museum but we didn't have enough time. Before we left though, we got some souvenirs (Belgian chocolates!) from the shops to bring back home, and we had dinner, finished off perfectly with tasty Belgian waffles and ice cream! On Monday we had a little time to see Brussels before heading back to England. It was a short trip but it was fun and I would love to visit Belgium again in the not so distant future. For now though, I'm back in the UK, back to the real world – of more work and less fun, lol. I'm already looking forward to my next trip.
Here are a few photos from the trip:

I'm celebrating today: it's my mum's birthday and I just want to thank God for keeping her alive to see another year. The past year came up with unexpected things, but I'm just grateful that she is alive. I spoke to her this morning and she was really joyful too. I know she will live for many many more years... Amen. I'm rounding off my gist at this point; hope you have a lovely weekend!
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