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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Womanhood

I am changing it – 100%

It’s official. It’s a done deal. After months of meticulous planning, scurried visits to suppliers, analysing varying shades of emerald green,  the wedding – or should I say wedding(s) (both the cultural AND the English one) are done!! We had an absolute blast and I am now well and truly enjoying what is marital bliss; long may it continue (and the church said amen) 🙂

But it’s interesting because right next to ‘Did you cry?’ and ‘Can I see the pictures?!!’ The other questions I am frequented with are: ‘Are you keeping your maiden name?’ and ‘When will you start having kids?’

These are questions that my Mum’s generation (she is a Boomer) couldn’t possibly fathom; getting married is synonymous with changing your name and having children is what marriage is for – it’s a no brainer. But for the women of ‘Generation Y’ or the ‘Millennials’ as we are more commonly known these are very valid and plausible questions.

We are the generation born roughly between 1982 and 1994 and with that comes a breed of women who are highly ambitious, well educated, tenacious, most likely to go against the grain etc etc– the list goes on. We understand and appreciate the value of choice noting that not every woman loves weddings, has a desire to get married and/or have children. And there is nothing wrong with this, it’s a woman’s prerogative and it is what the generation before us have fought so hard to ensure that we maximise – choice.

One of my mentors decided to keep her maiden name because it is her identity; this is a widely held view by a number women. It also doesn’t help that her husband’s surname is ‘quite frankly rubbish’ (I love her wit) and she went on to explain that she had had worked hard to build a reputable and noteworthy career – changing her last name would be doing herself a disservice.

My line manager took an alternative approach – she opted for a double barrel name. This for me is not an option.  With a surname that is 11 letters long, adding his name to mine just gets my knickers in a twist…

In any case, I have made my decision and I am definitely changing my last name.  

Not because my cousin Emman told me in the nicest terms to ‘straighten that back and not lose my head just because I wrote one essay about women and war…’ but because I actually want to do it. It is the start of a new era for me, a symbolism of my commitment, our unification and solidarity.

And it has been met with a few disappointed sighs, even as early as this morning with a colleague stating that ‘she would never ever give up her identity.’ But for me changing my name does not mean I have to give up who I am and what I stand for. I am still Ola – passionate, ambitious, weird and wonderful…obsessed with stationery. And I am almost too certain that the Lover will help me to remain all of those very things despite changing my name; I know my identity will go unscathed…

Until the next time…xxx

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Faith, Womanhood

Diary of a Sane Black Woman….

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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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Career, Womanhood

Multitasking is a myth…

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Picture: http://www.gabenies.com

My mum is without a shadow of a doubt a phenomenal woman. Not only does she have a winner’s spirit and a fighter’s attitude, she is also a very deeply compassionate woman, loving, kind and selfless (I love my mama!) But as if all these attributes were not enough, she is also brilliant at multi-tasking and I do mean brilliant…

And no doubt the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. This well revered skillset has been passed onto my older sister. She can get all three of her kids ready and herself with her eyes closed, whip up breakfast , find time to pay bills online and still arrive 10 minutes earlier than the agreed time of meeting all whilst looking nothing short of fabulous (are you even human Page??)

Then there is me.

Let me just throw this assertion out there (just in case you missed the title of this piece) I AM NOT a multi-tasker and yes I am a woman.

Now of course I know I have to do it. It would be ludicrous to think otherwise. The 21st century demands it and if it is not our jobs then it’s our electronic devices which have been built to help us become better multi-taskers. I can now write a blog post on my iPad whilst listening to music and then publish it within seconds.

Multi-tasking has become something that we wear as a badge of honour. But is it really that good for us?

Research would actually suggest otherwise. Multitasking is taxing on the brain and this is especially true if we do activities that require the use of the same part of the brain. This could explain why so many people are constantly complaining of being ‘stressed’ and ‘burnt out.’

And it doesn’t stop there. We are not even that good at it! (Only 10% of the population are effective multi-taskers – shocking, I know!) It is a hindrance to our productivity so writing that all important email whilst scheduling dinner with your best friend over the phone isn’t very rewarding. Besides, the To-Do-List is still just as long by the end of the working day in any case!

So I am officially boycotting multitasking. Ok I take it back well at least I will make an attempt to do so but who am I kidding??!! I have a wedding to plan (he is absolutely aammmmaaaaazzzziiinnnggg *flips hair and dougies*), a full time job and I am a postgraduate student part time – HA! I think multitasking will be inevitable but at least I will try and limit it as much as possible; I will tackle one milestone at a time; now who’s with me??

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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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Career, Womanhood

Self Depreciation – it’s rearing its ugly head…

I myself haven’t had a chance to watch it, but Girls which debuted in early 2012 with over 1.6 million viewers, is the hit series that has been hailed as the successor to *SATC. Detailing the lives of four young 20something women, it has been described as extremely ‘relatable’ and ‘realistic’ given that they paint a very true picture of the social and sexual mishaps that women often face in their twenties. Created by and starring Lena Dunham, at the tender age of 26, she has proven that indeed she is a force to be reckoned with having achieved so much success through the hit series. There is only one thing left to say really: the sky is the limit!

 So you can imagine my delight when I sat down to read the much anticipated interview with her (I get a kick out of seeing women excel). But my smile later turned into a frown as I continued to read on…the interviewer rightfully hailed her as a pioneer, a revolutionary figure, an icon for women everywhere etc etc but then she concluded her commentary by suggesting that she is definitely ‘our kind of girl’ as she is not one to ‘shy away from self-depreciation’. Why should she only be granted access into our no boys allowed club on the basis of her being over indulgent in self-depreciation?

 My horror didn’t stop there. I watched Hunger Games a while ago and I found it totally enthralling (a must-see if you haven’t already). How refreshing it was to see the traditional roles reversed and a woman go on to rescue the man. Now that’s my kind of Happy Ending 🙂 Jennifer Lawrence performed exceptionally well in the Hunger Games; she is totally captivating; absolutely beautiful and at 22 years old, again she is another woman flying the flag for young 20something women everywhere. However, the newest Jenny on the block as with Lena Dunham was applauded by another interviewer for the exact same reasons! (Cue high pitched scream). She was hailed as the ‘Queen of Self-Depreciation’ and ‘one of us’. What in the world is going on?!

 Am I missing something here?? Am I the only one that didn’t receive the memo that states that the only way to be socially accepted by other women is to submerge oneself into the dithering pool of self-depreciation?? When did it become another way to describe being down to earth??

 Don’t get me wrong, we all do it from time to time. I am the first person to complain that my fingers are stubby and fat, I have a big forehead bla bla bla but you shouldn’t be considered as ‘normal’ just because you choose to focus on your shortcomings. Nancy Dell’Ollio (Sven Eriksson, former England Manager’s ex-wife) for example, thinks (and blatantly states) that she is hot. Period (I anit mad at you boo! Do you!). And she refuses to make apologies for it! Hoorah! Should she be ousted out of the club just because she refuses to focus on her flaws? Nancy has stated that she is no stranger to criticism from other women just because of her ‘preferred way of thinking’. To be honest, I find it quite refreshing! Women are known to be over critical; some of us can’t even accept compliments yet alone be daringly brazen about our capabilities and beauty.

So I say, let’s focus on our positive attributes and not pull another woman down just because she chooses to do just that. Let us not get too over indulgent in the new wave of self-criticism in a bid to be socially accepted by other women. Let us lean more towards conversations laced with positivity and grace, congratulating those who choose to shine the light over the positive whilst embracing the negative.

Until the next time! Xxx

*Sex and The City

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