Career, Faith, Womanhood

Be Kind To Yourself.

The past couple of weeks have been…revelatory? Is that the word? I am not quite sure that is even a word to be honest as the dictionary is refusing to accept it but lets just say I have been shifting between a plethora of emotions ranging from melancholy to happiness to ecstatic and right back down to melancholy.

I felt slightly worn out and not in the physical sense I assure you but more mentally. It is a multitude of things that has triggered its onset such as working out how to break into the international development sector without doing a blasted internship…how to balance a very demanding job alongside postgraduate study…the list goes on…

And after speaking to a few women that I have the privilege of knowing, I realised that I am not the only one. We are all going through one frustration or another in relation to ‘where we should be’ and what ‘we should be doing’. Don’t get me wrong, we are happy and we can indeed count our blessings but there are other things that we are struggling to balance and/or desire that just hasn’t materialised yet and it has caused us to be hyper-critical to say the least

But I just want to share one statement with you that my lovely friend Phyllis told me last week: Be kind to yourself.

Celebrate you. You may not have all your ducks in a row but you are enroute to where you need to be. You deserve to be treated well so start with how you treat you.

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Faith, Womanhood

Diary of a Sane Black Woman….

stationery

The trusted moleskin and bic…

So it’s been a minute hasn’t it?!! I am sitting at my desk, Jhene Aiko (cheers Ibby for the recommendation) in tow, literally pleading for forgiveness!! The hiatus can and will be explained so don’t give up on me just yet…

I have been missing in action due to the following reasons (that sounds horribly formal):

  • Exam season – African civil wars, foreign aid, infectious diseases…you know the drill.
  • Work – super busy but rewarding nonetheless
  • Travel – I visited the Motherland
  • Wedding planning – is in full swing!!!!!! (countdown until I become Mrs O *skelewu’s*)

SO in between trying to coordinate revision notes, prepare briefings for work, decide on wedding favours (who came up with that ‘ingenious’ name anyway?!) and finalise my future living arrangements, blogging kind of fell by the wayside…

But all hope is not lost; I am back minus the vengeance and as a result this post is quite light-hearted. I just wanted to share some things with you that I have chronicled in my journal over the past couple of months…the pages are erratic but there is a method to my madness I assure you:

  • Trust in God – (Isaiah 2:22) this has become more apparent now more than ever. He is constant and consistent always.
  • Spend more time with family – The BEST. PEOPLE. EVER. This doesn’t necessarily mean blood relations too. Its whoever you regard as family. This year I made a conscious decision to spend more time with my family. It is one of the most rewarding decisions I have made.  The laughter, support, love and encouragement is second to none; I love my family to the end of the earth and back.
  • Focus on the positivity – block out the negativity and get rid of anything that is no longer serving your purpose of making you happy. YOU are in the driver’s seat of your life and if someone is bringing you more sorrow than joy then it’s time for them to make a swift exit.
  • Do whatever gives you fulfillment!  – I love two things – stationery and writing. I think there is honestly something very therapeutic about putting pen to paper. So I decided to do something to bring the two things together –  I signed up for a calligraphy class *throws pilot pen up in the air.* Its random but maybe I will resign to just writing long love letters to the Lover and then place them in a bottle under his pillow??? Who knows but one thing’s for sure – I will be doing something that makes me happy and my happiness is paramount.

(P.s. I have FINALLY read Americanah! So ready to have a conversation about it…let me know your thoughts on it? I am currently now reading the infamous Gone Girl! Anyone read it yet?!)

Until the next time…xxx

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Faith, Womanhood

He Heals the Hurt…

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I actually wrote this post months and months ago but I kept battling in my mind as to whether I should post it. But then after reading an amazing post by my spice of life, Covey (the girl can WRITE! Check out her blog which is so real and refreshing here) I knew it was time. And then I read this scripture 2 Corin 1:1-3 and it was a done deal:

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

So here goes. I hope that you experience the same comfort which God gave me during my darkest hour…

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As I mentally prepare to enter into the world of Husband-and-Wife-Life, I cannot help but look back and thank God that I made it through. I survived the good, the bad and the extremely ugly. I think at one point in our lives we have all been hurt by someone in some shape or form and you feel like you are never ever going to get over it. The pain is real. Tooooo real. And no matter how many times you pray, hear the word of God, read something encouraging, at that particular point in time the voice blares all too loudly telling you that you will never, ever get over it. (The devil is such a liar…)

But I can assure you that you will get over it. You will move on, you will heal, you will laugh again… It may take a while but you will get there. You will survive and you will live to tell the tale just as I have done. I have many scars from the wars that I have fought but they are living proof that I am stronger than I thought I was, more resilient than I could ever imagine and evidence that I always have hope. And if you are presently dealing with a hurt that runs deep, be rest assured that He does Heal the Hurt…you just have to trust God completely.

And there are no fancy steps I can offer or catchy slogan that you can immortalise, I just want to say three things and then I will be out of your way:

  1. Learn to forgive. No matter how badly you’ve been hurt, it is not worth your peace of mind. There is no point carrying around an emotion that is all too draining and quite frankly soul destroying. Forgive. Let go and move on. No seriously, let it go. You owe it to yourself to be happy and to live the best life you possibly could so don’t let anyone have that much power over your life because aint nobody got time for that.

 

  1. Soak yourself in His word. It is food for your soul. Find every scripture that is pertinent to how you are feeling and immerse yourself in it. I have shared some of the scriptures that literally gave me life and I hope that this should give you something to work with as a starter for ten:

 

  • Psalm 147: 3 – ‘He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.’

 

  • Nehemiah 8:10 – ‘The joy of the lord is your strength.’

 

  • Psalm 30:5 – ‘His anger lasts a moment, His favour a lifetime, weeping may endure for the night but joy comes in the morning.’

 

  • Deuteronomy 33: 25 – ‘As your days are, so shall your strength be..’

 

  • Isaiah 43:18-19 – ‘Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.’

 

  • Habakkuk 3:19 – ‘The Lord God is my strength and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet and he will make me to walk upon mine high places…’

 

  • Isaiah 41:10 – ‘Fear not for I am with thee; be not dismayed for I am thy God. I will strengthen thee, I will help thee.’

You have to take it one day at a time and in between each tear, pray like your life depends on it according to the promises He has given you in His word.

  1. Lastly, don’t play superhero and I cannot stress this enough. Talk to close friends/family that you can trust. Rest on them whilst you are weak so that they can help you to fight whilst they are strong. I am talking about people who all it takes is one word and they are ready to pray for you (Yinka Oye, you are a gem) and when they say they will pray for you, they really do mean it or the ones that pray for you without you even asking them to (Ade thank you…)they are the silent warriors…the ones that are in your corner always. They are the people that you can open up your closet to, reveal all your skeletons, bear your soul and never, ever, ever feel judged. They are few and far between so when you find them, value them but more importantly utilise them.

So to every person reading this who may be hurting be rest assured that there is hope. The joy that I have now is deeply gratifying and I do mean deeply. Everything that I have been through, every battle that I have fought pales in comparison to where I am now. There is absolutely nothing like the peace of God (Phil 4:7), I am such an amazing place right now and I can only thank God.

I am more than happy to talk to anyone about this; just email me. I really do mean it. I have been sooooo blessed by the messages I have received from complete strangers about my blog so feel free to get in touch. After all, Gal 6:2 says we should ‘share each other’s burdens and in this way you obey the law of Christ…’

There is always a next time, so until then…xxx

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Faith

Consistently Consistent

Revert to Plan B

The title of this post may seem grammatically incorrect (although I beg to differ; no squiggly green line has appeared underneath) but it is a phrase that I have grown to love. I wish I could lay claim to the fact that I created it but unfortunately, my creative juices have been trickling through rather slowly this month. This idiom actually belongs to my lovely sis, Lola SMD who casually slipped this into our regular perambulations about life and love (*taking a moment to appreciate my Captain. Exhale*)

She said that if there is one thing that is incomparable, it is a man that is consistently consistent. I couldn’t agree more as there is nothing more debilitating than a man that lacks consistency but I think it also applies to life in general, across the whole spectrum…not just in the context of love…

They say it takes 21 days to form a habit but I think the real underlying message here is consistency. Whatever you commit to, stick at it…

This isn’t always easy and I have had my fair share of downfalls along the way especially since starting my women’s network, Something Borrowed. Two failed launches, two wrong web designers and a botched plan for my next event. I was so down about it that I actually decided that I wasn’t going to continue with it at all. But thank God for great family and friends that have been a constant source of encouragement and this year after my life calms down a bit, I plan to get back on the horse.

It is absolutely essential to be consistently consistent with everything that we pursue not just in 2014 but beyond. We cannot afford to botch every failed plan just because it didn’t go right and I am definitely talking to myself more than anyone else. It is important that we remain steadfast and do not quit.

I will end with this example which also inspired me somewhat: watching vlogs are my guilty pleasure. I admit it; unashamed. And I enjoy the likes of YouTube sensations Shirley Eniang and Patricia Bright, the Brit Pop Princess; they easily have about 500,000 followers between them. But what is truly admirable is that they both started off with hardly any followers and the quality of the videos was not the greatest to say the least. Fast forward a couple of years and it hard to believe that their channels were ever in such a state. With endorsements flooding in left right and centre, they have shown how something small can truly flourish into something great. Again, I reiterate, we must be consistent with everything we pursue.

So I am heading over to my bin to fish out the things that I penned concerning some of my projects, business ventures and dreams. I might fail but I could also succeed. I have absolutely nothing to lose.

As my postgrad partner in crime, Fran Danmole would say, the journey continues…Day 1 of 21… xxx

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Career, Faith, Womanhood

Dear Younger Self…

Dear Younger Self...(Tash Parsons 2011)

Dear Younger Self…(Tash Parsons 2011)

Let’s just say I am having an Oprah moment. Over the last couple of months, I have been in a very reflective mood (I am not on the same level as Deepak Chopra but you get my drift). I have been analysing areas of my life but in particular the career journey that I have taken thus far although I am still very much on that journey.

And in the process, I started to think about all the things that I would tell my 21 year old self; the young graduate who probably took herself a bit too seriously. There are so many things that seemed insurmountable at the time but I overcame it! It did get better. And therein lies the beauty of retrospective reflection (beautiful alliteration, I know) you are also given the opportunity to celebrate the victories and triumphs, the highs and lows and most importantly it teaches you to be thankful. So here are the top 20 things that I would tell my 21 year old self and I would urge you to do the same; I found it to be quite therapeutic actually (well I am cultured like that ;-))

CAREER

  1. Don’t take yourself too seriously; laugh at those ‘awkward turtle’ moments (Ade you’re insane ;-))
  2. Stop agonizing over mistakes; it is not open heart surgery; it can always be rectified.
  3. Volunteer carefully. Being indispensable is one thing but being everything to everyone is another.
  4. Ask for help. ‘Superwoman’ no longer exists. Being strong also means knowing when to ask for help.
  5. Never despise small beginnings. Every job, every task, every event will all work together for your good. The dots do eventually connect. I promise 😉
  6. Believe in yourself and never allow anyone to make you question your capabilities; don’t give them that power; you are amazing and that is not debatable (thanks Wade ;-))
  7. Speak up! You will realise more times than not that you were right!
  8. Pull up a chair and tuck it in! You deserve to be at that table just as much as the next person.
  9. Keep Calm and Go to Sleep. Give it to God. Never lose a moments rest over work.
  10. Please. Never ever wear a T.M Lewin shirt to work. As in ever. Unless it is plain black or white. Nothing more to say here.

LIFE

  1. ENJOY THE JOURNEY DAMMIT. Stop and appreciate the small victories along the way. Live life.
  2. Always remember that no situation is permanent; ‘This too shall pass.’
  3. Chill out!!! It’s not that deep!!! Give your diary a break!!!
  4. Don’t be an open book. It NEVER has a happy ending. Learn to clip your lips gurrlll.
  5. God is real. As in seriously. Every problem has a promise. Abandon logic and trust him.
  6. Not everyone you start the journey with, you will finish with. #FACT.
  7. Know when to abandon the ship. Not everything is supposed to last forever.
  8. Get over it!!! No one cares about the tiny imperfections that you choose to magnify!!!
  9. Always make time for the things you love. It will lead you to discover your passion and purpose.
  10. Don’t sweat it. God loves His own 🙂

Feel free to share your own lessons that you would tell your younger self! 🙂

Until the next time. xxx

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Faith, Womanhood

Ready for the ‘big day’ or the days to come??

Apologies for the long post; I have been harbouring this for a long time  🙂

"Esposas de Matrimonio" ("Weddi...

Marriage has never been my preferable topic of conversation; I am more inclined to discuss the race to the White House, Jeremy Hunt’s viewpoint on abortion or my love for Supermalt (it’s an unhealthy obsession). My standing point on marriage has often been met with blank stares, a few gasps and just sheer utter disbelief as beautiful 20 something women struggle to understand why I am not racing to the altar or indeed concerned about it. Make no mistake, marriage is a beautiful institution; I honour and respect the sacredness of it, value the long-suffering and selflessness that is required to ensure its longevity and marvel at the way in which both parties stay committed to the cause. I do want to get married someday but I refuse to be consumed by it.

As women we tend to lean more towards the preparation for the wedding day itself as opposed to the journey. Most of us know the colour scheme we want to adopt, the friends and family that will constitute the bridal train, the wedding dress we will wear and whether we will have a traditional engagement or just the fairytale white wedding. The list is endless! I have met many women who have actively prepared for the day itself having never even met their spouse or would-be-husband but haven’t given the journey that we will ultimately embark upon after the wedding day so much as a second thought. I have come across one lady in particular who had a powerpoint presentation (I kid you not) of what the actual day itself would entail and as a result was beaming with pride at the fact that all the hard work for the day itself had been completed; the guy just now had to appear in her life but again, there were no slides on what it takes to be a valuable wife or how to stand by your spouse in the face of adversity.

And I hate to be the one that dampens the mood but the wedding day itself only signifies day one of what is set to be a long, meandering road to that place we call happiness. We have to internalise the fact that we are going to have to work at marriage and work hard at it. It will require tenacity and the ability to go through long suffering. Often time for the women that are like me, we will have to learn to just shut up sometimes plain and simple. We will have to learn how to let someone else step in and become the priest over our household. It is a serious commitment and I wish churches would emphasise more on the journey ahead as opposed to creating pressure on women to get married ‘before they are 30′ or ‘before your season passes you by.’ It would be so welcomed and so refreshing and maybe it would help to alleviate the statistics that show that 50% of all Christian first time marriages end in divorce. Deep.

Please read the next line I am about to relay and read it again: Marriage is not an achievement and it is not a prerequisite to enter the kingdom of heaven.  Albeit, God does honour the institution of marriage and he has asked us to be ‘fruitful and multiply’ (Genesis 1:28) within the confinements of marriage but there is nowhere in the bible that says it’s absolutely mandatory.

I am getting tired of the unwelcomed advice telling me not to end up like the 55% of black women who at 30 are doing exceptionally well in their careers but are not married/have no spouse or even so much as a prospect. I know that this is a harsh reality but I need someone to tell me what virtues I need to acquire, how to deal with the unexpected storm or how to discover the purpose for my marriage. Every marriage has a purpose and it goes far beyond being the ‘power couple.’ I hunger for way more than that.

And this leads me swiftly onto my next point; I need to be bringing something to the table and I am talking way more than not being a liability, having your own car, money, career, house etc. I am referring to things that are truly lasting, the things that help to solidify a marriage and I only realised this when I did an internal appraisal on myself. With hindsight I can see I was way too proud believing that I would be an asset to any man because I have things firmly in place, I can contribute to a timely discussion etc etc…I developed a list of what my husband needed to have because I had all my ish all together…oh how young and naïve I was. I pleaded with God and developed a list back in 2009 which included that he had to be:

  • Like Jacob in the Bible, someone that is willing to work hard to get me (Genesis 29:30)
  • Like David in the Bible – a man after God’s own heart
  • Driven/have ambition
  • Patience
  • Not stingy
  • Intelligent
  • Prayerful

And this is only the shortened version! I had plenty more on this list besides. And I think that whilst there is nothing wrong with the above (Psalms 37:4) have I ever stopped to think if I myself am a reflection of what I want to see in a spouse??? Heck I am driven, I am intelligent and I can work hard, I told myself as I carried out my appraisal. No but Ola, this is a strong note to self: know that you don’t even have an ounce of patience; you cuss if you even have to wait so much as five minutes in the bank and yes you are willing to work tiresomely and very hard at your career but you are not prepared to work hard at your relationship. I am the first person to say ‘well I don’t need the extra added stress in my life so if you want to leave then just leave.’ (*Cue neck moving ferociously from side to side*)…How foolish of me!! And I am expecting my spouse to work for me like Jacob did when I needed to realise that it’s a two way street; I wasn’t even willing to put in the work myself!! Better yet, why hadn’t I ever developed a list of the type of wife I wanted to be???It was all about me me me and what I needed in a partner because I strongly believed in my warped mind that I was already an asset.

And now you can see that there is still a lot of work to do hence my nonchalant attitude. And I am not trying to say that you have to be perfect before you get married because marriage, I believe does ultimately make you better with time if it is done the right way and if we pattern after the blueprint of God. But I just think that we need to start acquiring knowledge and preparing for the journey after you utter those all important words ‘I do.’  We need to be bringing something to the table other than a career, money and a house. We need to be a boss lady in the traditional sense so that like Abigail in the Bible we know when to apply wisdom and be a covering for our husbands.  Or like Esther, we know how to strategically fight the good fight of faith. Forget all this ride or die nonsense. As my mother always says, love is not enough to sustain a marriage so it is important you do the leg work for the journey ahead so that on rainy days where you don’t feel like you love your spouse so much, the long-suffering kicks in, the patience interjects, the strength to endure shows up. That’s what will ultimately stand the test of time so concentrate on preparing for the days to come and not just for the big day itself…Until the next time beautiful people…xxx

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Faith, Womanhood

Book review: Becoming Esther by Charles R. Swindoll

This year (2012), one of my goals is to create blueprints of the great women in the Bible that I would like to emulate. I was thrilled therefore when my cousin bought me ‘Becoming Esther‘ by Charles R. Swindoll. This is an amazing book that delves deep into a story of courage, meekness and obedience; it provides a thorough analysis of the attributes and characteristics that made Esther such a great queen. Some of the key things I learnt include:

English: 2:17 Esther became queen to the King ...

1. Obedience – she trusted the council of her uncle and listened to him when he told her not to reveal her heritage when she went for the line up to become Queen; this worked in her favour because ultimately, she ended up saving her people.

2. Courage – one of the best one liners of all time came from Esther: ‘If I perish, I perish.’ She promised her uncle that she would make her petition known to the King and even though in ancient Persian times, you were not allowed to go before the King unless you were summoned, she risked her life and did it anyway.

3. Wisdom – she strategically planned the best time to tell the King, her husband, that his right hand man was planning to commit mass genocide by wiping out her people. She knew when to be quiet and when to speak. And more importantly, she prepared herself; she fasted and told all her maidservants to fast as well.

This is a great read for any woman attempting to have both intelligence and beauty; Esther typified all these things and led by example so why not learn from one of the greatest Queen’s that ever lived?

Rating: 8/10

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