This blog was created to serve as an inspiration to all who read aspire, to love and to live a life of purpose.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Cost of Perseverance Should Never Be Life: Ogochukwu Onuchukwu's story

"Wedding ring is the smallest handcuff ever made, don't be desperate to wear one, study your inmate very carefully so as to sentence yourself wisely"
That's what my friend Ifeoma tweeted yesterday. She is right. Well, partly. While I don't believe marriage should feel like prison. It is a "for better or for worse" ordeal and many times, for many people, it feels like they've been they HAVE TO make it work...especially in a society like Nigeria where marriage is seen more like an accomplishment than your own personal commitment. Scratch that. Its the wedding that you get kudos for because everything that happens afterwards is a "family matter". "Happily married" becomes an assumption. It shouldn't be that way.

I want to get married. In short, I really look forward to it. However, it won't be at the cost of my happiness, my virtue as a woman and my worth as the daughter of my father.  I've talked to people who have told me every woman looses herself in marriage. They say, you can't "keep" yourself in marriage.  I can. So can you. I have read about what God intends marriage to be. I have seen couples who live according to that. My parents, for one. They're the number one reason I will always believe in love and in "successful" marriages. I know that if I am careful about my choice, my marriage won't be a will be happy partnership. That's what I pray for.

That's probably also what Ogochukwu wanted when she married Kevin. Her story is heart-wrenching. All this woman wanted to do was gain her husband's love and affection and to make her marriage successful. At any cost. Sadly, the cost was her life.

Ogochukwu's story is not unique. Many women, especially in Nigeria, stay in unhappy marriages for years on end in an effort to peservere. While I'm a passionate advocate for perseverance, please do not do so to the detriment of your health (physical, psychological, or otherwise) or your life.
Ogochukwu Onuchukwu
Please read this letter and pass it on.  Its a bit lengthy. But its worth the read.

My mum is crying. I can see  her from here. She has aged since the last time I saw her. Why does she look so old and why is she so thin? Can someone console her? Can someone make her stop  crying? I try to get up but I can’t. I try to reach for her, but I’m stuck where  I am. It is very dark in here, and very cold, so very cold. 

What am I doing here?   Where is everybody?   Where are my children?  I begin to panic, to struggle;  I want to get out of this dark room. 

I can hear Uzo calling. She’s calling my name. Then, I see mum again. And I hear Uzo again. I don’t see my children. Where are my children? I can’t see beyond the walls of this dark and cold room.

Uzo calls again. 

She sounds desperate to rouse me from my sleep. I am struggling  to wake but I can’t. I open my eyes and they shut of their own accord. I am powerless to keep them from shutting. And I find as soon as I stop struggling,  my sleep becomes sweet repose. Suddenly I don’t want to wake from it just yet. It is peaceful.

I see mum again, and I see Uzo. Uzo keeps calling. She won’t stop calling. She is crying too, just like mum. 

Can someone bring Kamsi and Amanda to me? Can someone bring my babies to me? I need to hug them, Kamsi, especially. Is he crying too and calling out for me? 
Does he understand that I  am gone? Kamsi will miss me. 

He is a special child, you know; Kamsiyochukwu - my son and my first child. 

I prayed and longed for his birth. He was the blessing  from above that would seal Kevin’s love for me and give me some footing in his  home and some acceptance from his family. 

 Before Kamsi, I was a nobody in Kevin’s home. 
I was born the last of nine children, the baby of the family. I was used to love and affection. I was  everyone’s baby. I grew up knowing that everyone had my back, I grew up knowing  the safety and security of being the baby of the home. You may then understand  my shock when I stepped out of my home and into new territory with the man of my  dreams only to find that I was really not as special as I had been made to  believe. I look back to that day when Kevin took me home to introduce me to my new family. The cold and rude shock of the welcome his brother’s wife gave me  set off an alarm in my head.

These people didn’t think I was special. In fact,  her first words were, ”Kevin, ebe   kwa ka isi dute nka?” (Kevin, “Where on earth did you bring this one from?) That would be the first time I would be addressed as “this one” and from  then on, I grappled with the realization that I was not welcome in my new home.

I remember my first Christmas  at Ihiala as a new bride. My brother-in-law’s wife would sneer and clap and  refer to me as “Ndi ji ukwu azo akwu” (the people who process palm fruits with  their bare feet). I knew she meant my impoverished home town of Nsukka. She  would sing to me all day long telling me the only reason why their brother  married me was because of my beauty and complexion.

Now, I lie here and I wonder  if I was in my right mind to ignore the several other alarms over my 12- year  union with Kevin.

 I had to ignore them, I told  myself. I had already taken my vows to be with Kevin until death did us  part.

They never really wanted me, I  can now see. But I was too blinded by love to realize that. I needed to do  something to cement Kevin’s heart with mine. I needed to remain Kevin’s wife and  to prove to the world that indeed Love would conquer  all.

 When after one year of  marriage there were still no children, the painful journey that sent me to my  grave started. I went from specialist to specialist, ingested every kind of pill  that promised to boost my fertility. As my desperation grew, so did pressure  from Kevin’s family. My horror-movie life story started playing out; the  horror-movie life that has sent me to an early and cold grave from where I write  this letter to my husband.

My sweet Kevin,

We started to fight over  little things. The fights were worse after you visited home or attended any of  your numerous family meetings. You came home one evening and asked me to move  out of the bedroom we both shared and into the guestroom downstairs. The next  time you returned from the meeting, you tied me up with a rope and used your  belt on me. No one heard my screams.

I remember when you told me  that your family had asked you to remarry. You showed me documents of all your  numerous landed property including the house we lived in. Your brother was  listed as next of kin. When I asked you about it, your answer rocked the ground  I was standing on. You said, “What have you to show that entitles you to any  stake in this household?” You were referring to my  barreness.

 It is funny how to my family  and friends, I was the beautiful and loving Ogo, whilst to you and your family I  was a worthless piece of rag. You called me barren. I could have fled but your  love and acceptance was of more worth to me than the love and admiration of the  world outside our home. I desperately sought to be loved by you, Kevin. In your  family’s presence I felt unworthy, unloved and unwanted. Yet, I stayed on. I  would make you love me one way or the other and I knew that one sure way would  be to produce a child, an heir for you. That was the most important thing to  you.

I began the numerous  procedures, painful procedures, including surgery. I gave myself daily shots. At  some point the needles could no longer pierce my skin. My skin had toughened to  the piercing pain of needles.

After seven years of marriage,  our prayers were answered. God blessed us with our son Kamsiyochukwu, which  means ‘’Just as I asked of the Lord’’. God had intervened and miracles were  about to start happening because for the first time in seven years, my  mother-in-law called me. Finally I was home. I had been accepted. I was now a woman, a wife and a mother. Finally there was peace. Kamsi will be four in  November.

The miracles stayed with me  because 18 months later through another procedure, Chimamanda was born. Her  birth was bitter sweet for me. Sweet because you Kevin, my husband, and my  in-laws would love me more for bearing a second child, but bitter because this  particular birth almost cost me my life. The doctors had become very concerned.  You see, I had developed too many complications from all the different  procedures I had undergone in the journey to have children and these were beginning to get in the way of normal everyday living. I developed conditions  that had almost become life threatening.   So the doctors sent me off with my new bundle of joy and with a stern  warning not to try for another child as I may not be so lucky.

I chuckled,  almost gleefully. Why would I want to try for a third child? God had given me a  boy and a girl, what more could I ask for. I was only ever so thankful to God.
Kevin, you and I gave numerous and very generous donations to different churches  in thanksgiving to God. All was well. I was happy and fulfilled. Kevin, you  loved me again. Your family accepted me. Life was good. And all was quiet again.  …………………… For a while.

Then fate struck me a blow. As  if to remind me that my stay in your house was temporary and was never really  going to be peaceful, Kamsi – our son, our first fruit, my pride and joy and the  child that gave me a place in my husband’s home, began to show signs of slowed  development; the visits to the doctors resumed, this time on account of Kamsi.  We started seeing therapists. After we’d been from one doctor to another I  decided I had to resort to prayer. I was frightened. I was terrified. I was threatened. I started to feel unwell. I had difficulty breathing. I needed to  see my doctors, Kamsi too. He wasn’t doing too well either. He had difficulty  with his speech. He was slow to comprehend things. I did not know for sure what  was wrong with him but I knew all was not well. Not with him and not with me. We  were denied visas to the USA because we had overstayed on our last trip on  account of Kamsi’s treatments. So whilst we waited for a lawyer to help us clear  up the immigration issues with America, I applied for a UK visa and sought help  in London. But by then, trouble had reared its head at home, again.

Kevin, you  had again become very impatient with me. My fears were fully alive again. The  battles it seemed I had won were again in full rage. My husband, in your irritable impatience and anger, you told me to my face that our son, my Kamsi,  was worthless to you. You said he was abnormal. You said that our daughter, my Amanda, was a girl and that you had no need for a girl child because she would  someday be married off. I remember, in pain, that you didn’t attend Amanda’s christening because you were upset with me. You told me your mother was more important to you than “THESE THINGS” I brought to your house. You were referring to our children, were you not? “THESE THINGS”.

My heart bled. I wept  bitterly. Then I quickly calmed my fears by telling myself that you were under a  lot of stress at work and that you were also probably reacting to all the money  that you had spent on my treatments. Surely, all that was getting to you?  Even when you threatened me with a  knife, twice you did that, I still felt unworthy of you and very deserving of  your hatred. Even when you would say: “I will kill you and nothing will happen  because you have no one to fight for you”, I kept on struggling to get you to  love me because, Kevin, your validation was important to  me

 You had refused to give me  money for my medical trip to London. I knew then it was because you had your  hands full with caring and catering for everybody who was dear to you. Your  finances were stretched. I thought then that in time you would come around.

My health continued to get  worse. Eventually, I made it to London.   After extensive consultations and tests, I was given a definitive  diagnosis. My condition was life threatening. It was from this time, when it was  clear that I required surgery to save me life that I came face to face with a  different kind of war from our home.

Kevin, you stopped speaking with me. I was  in pain, in anguish and in tears. I didn’t understand what was happening. I had  stayed three weeks in London and Kevin, you never called, sent a text or  inquired how I was faring. You stopped taking my calls. Instead I got a call  from my cousin in whose care I had left my children. She was frantic with worry  because there was no food in the house for the children to eat;
Kevin you had  refused to provide food for our children. Kevin, you had also refused to pay for  Kamsi’s home schooling.

Then Kevin, I received that e-mail from you. The only communication from you for the entire period I was in  London.
Do you remember? It was an angry email. You berated me for putting your  integrity at stake at your work place. Apparently your employers had called a  hospital in London to inquire about me and were told that no one by my name was  ever their patient. I  later found out that you had given the wrong  hospital name to your employers. Do you remember, Kevin?

For the first time in my 12  year marriage, the alarm bells in my head began to sound real. For the first  time in 12 years, I felt real anger stir up in my heart. Kevin, I was angry  because you paid no heed to the hospital where your wife was at in London. You  had no clue and cared little about what I was going through. Yet you would berate me for putting your INTEGRITY at work at stake. Your integrity was your  primary concern, not my health.

Then it hit me! All these  years I was trying to be all I could be for you, Kevin, to make you happy, to  please you, Kevin, ……… you actually hated me. You didn’t want me in your life. The signs were all there. Your family had showed me from day one that they  didn’t want me. I was the object of a hatred that I could not explain. I
couldn’t understand why.

Then I saw the hand writing on  the wall, all those many things that went on. You even sold my car whilst I was  still lying on a hospital bed in London, with no word to me. I was not to learn  of what you had done until I returned to Nigeria. The doctors had allowed me to  return to prepare for surgery.

Kevin, do you remember that on  my return I gave you a pair of shoes I had bought for you? Kevin, my husband, do  you remember hurling those shoes at me? Kevin, do you remember me breaking down  in tears? Kevin, do you remember me asking you that night, many times over, why  you hated me so much, what I had done to make you hate me as much as you did?

“You are disturbing me, and if you continue, I`ll move out and inform the  company that I no longer live in the house. Then they will come and drive you  away”. Kevin, my husband, that was your response to me. Did you know then I only  had days to live?
Is that why you  told me that would be the last time I would see you physically? Did you know it would only be a few more hours?

I still had a surgery to go  through. Kevin, since you wanted no part in it, I had contacted the medical  officer in your company directly for referrals. I left Eket for Lagos on Saturday. That same day I consulted with the specialist surgeon and surgery was  scheduled for Monday morning.

In those final hours, as I  prepared for my surgery, I was alone, my spirit was broken. I had lost all the  fight in me. Kevin, I knew that nothing I did or said would turn you heart  toward me, and I had nobody for whom you had any regards who would speak up for  me.

In those final hours, Kevin, I  called you. This was Sunday morning, less than 24 hours to my death. Do you  remember, Kevin? I called you to share what the specialist surgeon had said. I  was still shaking from your screams on the phone when I got in here. You did not  want me to bother you, you screamed. I should  go to my brothers and sisters,  you screamed. I should pay you back all the money you gave me for my treatment  in London, you screamed. Kevin, did you know that would be my last conversation  with you? My last conversation with you, my husband, my love, my life, ended  with you banging the phone on me.

Recalling the abusive words,  the spitting, the beating, the bruising, the knifing, and the promise that I  would not live long for daring to forget to buy garden eggs for your mother, an  insult you vowed I would pay for with my life ……., I knew then it was over for  me. There was no rationalizing needed any longer. Even the blind could see ………. You did not want me in your life.

 I went in for surgery on  Monday morning, February 27, 2012, and after battling for several hours, I  yielded my spirit.

Kevin, my husband, I lived my  promise to God. The promise I made on the day I wedded  you.

 For better ………………………… For  worse
 For richer …………………………. For poorer
 In Sickness ………………………. And in health
To love ………………………….. And to  cherish


And it  has.  NOW I AM  DEAD!!!!!!!

 Just as your mum predicted …..  Her cold words follow me to morgue. She swore to me that I would leave her son’s  house dead or alive. I couldn’t leave whilst I still breathed. It had to be  through death, and death it has  become.

 Kevin, you are FREE! And, so am I.

Your freedom is temporary.  Mine is eternal.

Whilst you still have freedom, remember Kamsi and Chimamanda.

Lovingly yours until death,

I am gone. Gone forever. But  if one woman, just one woman will learn from my story, then maybe I would not  have gone in vain.

My heart weeps for my children, my mummy, my sisters and my brothers, my extended family. These ones,  I was a gift to. These ones, they loved me. These ones, they wanted me. These  ones, they needed me. These ones, they wish I had spoken out earlier.

Its a sad sad story. But its value is not in making you cry but in teaching you to never forget to know your worth. Abuse is not only physical, its mental as well. If you're in abusive relationship/marriage, SPEAK UP before its too late. 

Stay Inspired....

P.S. The letter was written by a close family member. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Scuba Diver Gets High Five From Large Shark

I read this story and thought I just had to share. Apparently, 40 year old scuba diver Eli Martinez has a buddy who's a Shark. Yes, as in Shark that lives in large bodies of water. Her named Taxi and she lives in the coast of the Bahamas. Martinez calls her "a total sweetheart". Na so o. lol.
Martinez said he has worked with Taxi for a long time and he knows herto be very laid-back so he decided to hold his hand out and she came right over and slapped it. You'd think he was talking about his girlfriend/wife. lol

Luckily, his friend who owns an underwater camera was with him and captured it. 

I mean, this is shocking. I would call it inspiring but me I don't want anyone to sue me for wrongful death because Nwavic inspired them to go play with sharks. Abeg, my hand no dey.

But still, I would say, kudos to Martinez. He will never forget this. It will add to his "I have lived" list. I need to find something shocking to do. I will update you once I do but I promise you it will have nothing to do with any animal :-| 

Stay inspired :-)

Full story here.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Little Rock, Arkansas Names Airport after The Clintons!

So! I have said before how much in love I am with the Clintons....They inspire me. They are the quintessential example of a power couple. Scratch that. A power family.
If my love for the Clintons is a total of 100%, 25% each to Bill and Chelsea. 50% love goes to Hillary :-0

Growing up,  I always heard my parents rave about how brilliant the Clintons were. But my passionate admiration for Hillary officially started after I read both her and Bill's autobiographies. I learned how she handled her husband's cheating scandal.  She's an iincredibly smart woman. Not many women could've done what she did. How she did it. With Poise? Check. With brilliance? Check. With class? Check. With dignity? Check. With incredible foresight? Check.
I mean, Arkansas naming an airport after the Clintons is only right considering Bill Clinton is a native of Arkansas and served as governor before his presidential win.  Also, when Hillary worked as a lawyer in Arkansas, she served as legal counsel to the airport and its commission.

The Little Rock National Airport is the state's largest commercial service airport and there is word that the airport will be made international by 2020.

Bill Clinton said in a statement, "Hillary and I are humbled by the Little Rock Airport Commission's decision ... We are grateful for this honor and for all that the people of Arkansas have done for us. And we look forward to many happy landings at the airport in the years ahead."

I love it! I love it! I love it! 
Congratulations to the Clintons. 
Cheers to that!
Ok, I'm done raving about it. Let me go back to class. That is sure to kill my excitement. :-/

P.S. Here's the full story and video.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Ten Worst Things to Put on Your Resume-Kelly Eggers

I ran into this article earlier today on Yahoo and thought it'd be helpful for the millions of people (including me) who are job-hunting or will start in the near future. Since you don't have the opportunity to knock door-to-door at all your dream jobs, your resume is what does the job for you (pun intended). Its your "acting" representative so it should look even better than you ;-).

I found this article very helpful. Please do pass it on to anyone you know who may find it useful.

According to a 2010 Accountemps survey, 28% of executives say the resume is where most job seekers make mistakes in the application process. But what exactly constitutes a mistake?
We talked with career coaches and resume writers to find ten gaffes that will guarantee that your resume never makes it past round one.

1. Unnecessary Details About Your Life 
There are a few personal details you should include on a resume: full name and contact information, including email, phone number and address. But beyond that, personal details should be kept to a minimum. If the prospective employer wants to know more than the minimum, they will ask you or figure it out for themselves.

"Your age, race, political affiliation, anything about your family members, and home ownership status should all be left off your resume," says Ann Baehr, a certified professional resume writer and president of New York-based Best Resumes. "What's confusing is that [a lot of personal information is] included on international CVs. In the U.S., including [personal data] is a no-no because it leaves the job-seeker open to discrimination."

The exception to the rule: If you're looking to work for an organization closely tied to a cause, you may consider including your race, political party, or religious beliefs. "Personal data may suggest a bias, unless what you want to do next is directly tied to one of those categories, because it shows aligned interest," says Roy Cohen, a New York City career coach and author of The Wall Street Professional's Survival Guide. So, unless you're looking to work for a religious, political, or social organization, you're better off keeping personal philosophies to yourself.

2. Your Work Responsibilities as a Lifeguard When You Were 16...
"Don't include information that will not advance you in your work goals," says Rena Nisonoff, president of The Last Word, a resume-writing and job-coaching company in Boston. "Anything extraneous should be left off your resume." That includes hobbies and irrelevant jobs you held many years ago. Unless you're an undergraduate student or a freshly minted professional, limit your work history to professional experience you've had in the past 10 to 15 years (or greater, if it was a C-level position).

3. A Headshot
In some industries, being asked for and including a headshot is commonplace, but unless you're a model, actor, or Miss America, the general rule of thumb is that photos should be left out.
"To many [hiring managers], including a headshot feels hokey," says Cohen. It can give off the wrong impression, and isn't a job-seeking tactic that's customarily received well. Furthermore, it's illegal for employers to discriminate against job candidates based on appearance, so attaching a headshot can put employers in an awkward position, says Nisonoff. Unless it's specifically requested, and it's relevant to the job at hand, keep your appearance out of it.

4. Salary Expectations
Most job candidates feel uneasy discussing salary requirements. For good reason: Giving a number that's too high or too low can cost you the job. You should keep it out of your application materials entirely, unless the hiring manager asks for it.

"If they specifically ask for it, you should give them a range," says Nisonoff, but even still, that information should be reserved for the cover letter and not put on the resume. If you have the option, save that discussion for a later stage of the interviewing process, ideally once the interviewer brings it up.

5. Lies
This should really go without saying, but career coaches and resume writers alike report that the line between embellishment and fabrication is often crossed by job applicants -- and that they've seen it cost their clients jobs. One of the most common areas in which people fudge the facts is the timeline of their work history.

"A client of mine who worked for a Wall Street firm had moved around quite a bit," says Cohen. The client, who was a registered representative, intentionally excluded a former employer from his resume, and covered it up by altering the dates of employment at other firms. "Registered representatives leave a FINRA trail, and when his resume was checked against his FINRA trail, [the company] saw he had left off a firm and they pulled the offer," Cohen explains.

Whether it's using false information to cover a blemish or exaggerate success, there's no room to lie on your resume. No matter how miniscule the chance is that you'll be caught, you should always represent yourself as accurately as possible.
6. Things That Were Once Labeled "Confidential"
In many jobs, you will handle proprietary information. Having inside information from your positions at previous employers might make you feel important -- but if you use that information to pad your resume, chances are it will raise a red flag.

"Confidential information should never be shared, it shows poor judgment," says Cohen.
If you're sharing the names of your clients, in-house financial dealings, or anything else that might be for your eyes only, it can backfire in two ways. The prospective employer will know that you can't be trusted with sensitive information; and your current (or former) employer might find out what you have been sharing and it could be grounds for dismissal or even a lawsuit.

7. If You Were Fired From a Job -- and What You Were Fired For
Your resume should put you in a positive light. Including that you were let go for poor performance, stealing from the company, or any other fault of your own will have the exact opposite effect.

"Leave out information about a situation that positions you negatively, such as 'I got fired' or 'I mishandled funds,'" says Cohen. "Anything that suggests you used poor judgment in your current or former job."

Following this advice does not violate the rule about lying (No. 5). If you're asked to explain why you left a job, you need to bite the bullet and be straightforward, but until then, make sure you're putting your best foot forward.

8. Overly Verbose Statements 
There is a pretty fine line between selling yourself and overselling yourself. Too many resumes overstate the importance of job responsibilities.

"Job seekers with limited experience [try] to put themselves in a 'management' light," says Baehr, using phrases like "'Spearheaded high-profile projects through supervision of others, leading by example.'" Keep your flair for the dramatic to a minimum, so resume readers can get a picture of what your real responsibilities were with your past or current company.

9. "References Available Upon Request" and Your Objective
The age-old "references available upon request" has become archaic. You should have solid references lined up from the get-go, so when the hiring manager asks for them, you're ready to share them.

"It's not really an option," says Baehr. "If they want your references, they're going to get them."
Also nix the objective statement. It's not really necessary to explain your career goals unless you are a recent graduate or are switching careers. If necessary, work your objective into a summary of your qualifications, says Cohen.

"It explains what you want, which may not be readily apparent from the resume," he says, "and it also tells a story to explain why you want to make the career change."

10. TMI
Too much information is almost never a good idea. It's particularly bad when it's put in front of hiring managers who are busy, tired, and quite frankly, probably not going to read your resume word-for-word. If you put too much information in your resume, recruiters will likely not read it at all or just scan it quickly.

"Far too much detail is damaging because it won't get read," says Cohen. "It suggests that you get lost in seeing the forest for the trees and also suggests an attachment to information. It's a burden to the reader, and these days, readers of resumes don't want to be burdened."

Stay Inspired...

Mother's Day Is Every Day!

Happy Sunday Everyone! And to the Nigerian Anglican Mothers, Happy Mother's Day!

I grew up Anglican. So, today is really the day I should be celebrating Mother's day. Here, Mother's day is in May so today is just like any other day for us. If you know me personally, you'd know that Mother's day really doesn't matter to me. I appreciate  my mother every single day of the year. I don't get off the phone without telling her I love her and that I appreciate her. I give her random hugs and random kisses. I tell the world every day she's the best mom on earth. I take her to dinner just because. I make sure she knows every day of her life she's the best thing that happened to me. Just so she knows. I don't want to wait till she's not here anymore. I want her to live knowing I love her.

I learned that lesson because on the day I lost my dad I don't remember if I told him how much I loved and appreciated him. I should've. I can't live in the past trying to decipher whether or not I told him so. All I can do is live in the present making sure not to create room for doubt should a time (long time from now-AMEN) come when she's not here anymore. She is the only living parent I have. So, I want her to know. everyday. That I love her. Don't wait to have only one (or no) living parent. Do it now!
Sometimes, we think, "oh my mother should know.", "I'm sure they know". Maybe they do. But maybe they don't. Or are not so sure. Because as children (and adults), sometimes we give off mixed signals. By our actions, our choices in life and sometimes, life just gets in the way. We don't get to tell them how much we love them. Or that we appreciate them. We get older, and sometimes we run off to start our own lives, forgetting that without our lives actually started when we climbed out of a woman we call mom. So, tell your mom you love and appreciate her. Every day. Just so she knows.
I am not a mother but I can't wait to be. No, I take that back. I can ;-)
From what I've heard its the single most beautiful feeling in the world...well, past the baby and teenager stages. I have been around quite a number of pregnant women and what they go through for 9 months is no joke. I hear your body is never the same (yes all my friends and cousins who are mothers list this as the single most drastic change). Neither is your mind. Neither are your finances. Neither are the way people look at you. Neither is your schedule. Everything about you changes because you're a mother. It's a difficult task.

Its self-sacrifice.

Mother's day shouldn't matter to you. Mother's day should be everyday.
If not for anything else.....Because.....
1. Her body carried your body for 9 months
2. If not for her organs feeding yours, you won't have fully developed
3. You were made from her. She practically "labored" you into the world. One of my friends describes being a mother as an oxymoron. She calls it painful joy. :-/
"God could not be everywhere and therefore he made mothers"
So, until the day someone invents a machine that can successfully carry and nurture a fetus for 9 months, you should love and appreciate your mother EVERY DAY.

To mine, and yours, HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!!!.... (P.S.- I'll be saying same in May too :))

And like Porky Pig (Looney Tunes) would say..

That's all folks :-)

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Power of Encouragement

Happy Friday Everyone!

Yay to the weekend! Sorry I've been MIA for about a week. Took a spring break vacation to San Francisco with a couple of friends. It was quite relaxing. I didn't even have internet for five days and didn't bother with it. I needed to relax my mind and body. It worked....I'm Up and Running! :~)
At the GoldenGate Bridge, San Francisco, CA
So! sometime ago I was having a conversation with someone who told me in passing that s/he does not give compliments. The theory behind this, the person said, is that if a person looks good they should know they look good, making compliments irrelevant. Right?


Believe it or not, an encouraging word goes a long touches lives, it inspires others and in many ways, it refreshes the soul. People claim all the time they want to do good in the world...what better way to do it than to encourage people who cross your path. What I've learned is that you never know what a person is going through and little forms of encouragement can lift a person's spirits in ways you can't imagine. 

According to the dictionary, to "encourage" means "Give support, confidence, or hope to (someone)". It feeds perseverance and is in itself a "giving" gesture. It is a way to build another up and it is in building others up that we build ourselves up. 
In all trying periods in my life, what has kept me going is knowing that there are people who are rooting for me. When I faced a trying period in 2008, it was my mother's smile and my sisters' hugs that convinced me everything will be alright. During my first year of law school, when I parked my car on the side of the street in Washington D.C. in tears convinced that I couldn't withstand the rigors of law school, it was my sister Ogo's words "You can do this baby....cry all you want, skip class today if you need to, but at the end, clean your eyes and forge on because you are more than conquerors", that kept me in the game long enough to survive that brutal year. When I took the bar exam last year and got stuck on question 5, my mind kept flashing back to the numerous encouraging BB updates ("Rock on Ral", "we are praying for you boo", "we have 0 doubt you will crush it") I saw before I entered the exam was those updates, believe or not, that kept me believing I could conquer that exam. Every time I was encouraged, I succeeded. 

My point is this....the little encouraging words we speak and the little thoughtful gestures we give out can make or break lives....can motivate others...does good...and in many ways can inspire many life-defining moments.

What I don't understand is why it is so hard to give others compliments, to let them know you are praying for them or to just tell them how awesome you think they are or what they did is. Actually, I can theorize it. I have come up with two reasons why certain people cannot/do not encourage others. 

1. Selfishness- They cannot look past themselves to see the good in others
2. Insecurity- They believe giving others encouragement belittles them or makes the other person superior

Please don't let these reasons stop you from doing good.

A couple weeks ago I was telling my sister Oby that I started this blog to inspire others but that I was a bit concerned that maybe not as many people were reading. She said, 'Don't worry boo, keep doing what you do, you never know who's reading". Bingo! She was right. About a week ago, I got a surprising facebook message from a childhood family friend. I don't remember when last we saw or even spoke but here's what she said.
It was what I needed. Just when I needed it. And I told her exactly that.  I encouraged her and by telling me so, she encouraged me too. See how it works...the cycle of encouragement :-)

As human beings, we all need to know there are people out there who want the best for us, who appreciate us, who are rooting for us and who think we are equal to any task we set our mind to. 
Make it a point to encourage people in your life. Let them know they're in your thoughts and that you wish them well.


Here are a few simple ways to encourage others....

~Send them a "just to say hi/just thought about you/I appreciate you/stay strong/i love your work" text/fb message/bbm/tweet
~Give hugs.
~Stay positive in your outlook in life.
~Give think they look nice, tell them so
~Celebrate their achievements by congratulating them (no matter how little)
~Ask how someone is doing and actually wait/pay attention to hear the response. Sometimes listening is more effective than speaking.
~Share things that have encourage you e.g. a Bible verse, a quote, a blog ;-)
~Tell those who have encouraged you just how much they have. Show them how much you appreciate them.
~Be thoughtful (write a hand-written note, put a card in the mail, buy someone who is broke lunch or send them food, etc)
~If someone is going through hardtimes, ask "how can I help?" Its better than the "commonly-said-but-not-meant "Let me know if there's anything I can do"
~When they are faced with big challenges, wish them luck...let them know you're rooting for them.

~You love someone, tell them so :-)

Stay Inspired....& Don't forget just how awesome YOU are :-)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Backyard Fountain of Youth?

A friend of mine sent this video to me. This 70 year old woman does not look a day over 40. It is inspiring quite all right but do I have the discipline to do what she's been doing for 27 years? The jury is still out on that :-/?/

Do YOU have the discipline to do what she did? Maybe :-)

Stay Inspired :-)

Recognizing the Signs of Depression

I was having a conversation with an acquaintance G a couple of weeks ago. G was complaining about a lot of things going wrong in his/her life and his/her lack of interest in anything these days. I said, "are you sure you're not depressed?" It was supposed to be a joke but then G got serious and said "maybe" *Pause* *deep breath* "but nothing I can't get over". I couldn't stop thinking about G.

Psychology was one of my undergraduate courses and even after studying it for years, I didn't realize how close to home it could come till G said "maybe" to me.

Apparently, there are 121 depressed individuals worldwide on any given day(20 million in America alone). In the Nigerian culture, it is almost unheard of to be clinically "depressed". No one talks about it. Its seen as an "oyibo" problem. People commit suicide and its a taboo to discuss why.

In light of that, I thought to share with you today 10 common early depression symptoms. If you notice a combination of any of these symptoms in your life, please talk to someone close to you or seek professional help.  Its always better to admit the existence of these symptoms early....the earlier you recognize it, the easier treatment will be for you. they are...

1. Fatigue or Lack of Energy: Feeling less energetic is normal especially after a long day or strenuous activity but if the fatigue lingers and is accompanied by decreased motivation or interest in daily life, it may be an early sign of depression.

2. Insomnia: If your quality of sleep and/or ability to fall asleep changes drastically, it should be a cause of concern to you. Sometimes lack of sleep is triggered by stress or an earlier long nap but absent a specific trigger or if it is prolonged, an abnormal sleep pattern may be an early sign of depression.

3. Sleeping Too Much: In the same way, too much sleeping (more than either hours every night) could be a symptom of depression especially if its accompanied by a lack of interest in getting up, and/or a mood that is low/sad.

4. Changes in Appetite and Weight: Generally, if overeating or loss of appetite is prolonged (more than two weeks) and is coupled with loss of interest in pleasurable activity, it could be an early sign of depression.

5. Physical Pain: If you notice you have unexplainable abdominal pain, untreatable headaches, and prolonged aches and pains, doctors have said it may be part of a depressive episode.

6. Colors or Music Appear Dull: This is a surprising symptom but research has shown that another early sign of depression is a view of the world as void of color and sound. Pay attention to your perception of colors and your disinterest in music. It may be an early sign of depression.

7. Burnout at Work: Anyone who does the same thing for a prolonged period of time is likely to feel bored after a while. Its normal to feel burned out when faced with a challenging assignment or period. For example, for lawyers it is the days preceding a big trial and for accountants, its during tax season, etc. But if the burn-out feeling lingers in the absence of  such a trigger, is long-term or on a regular basis, it may be an early sign of depression.

8. Memory Problems: If you notice your ability to focus is deteriorating over time, it could be an early sign. Cognitive impairment in depression is called pesudodementia. As they say in Pidgin, no be small matter o.

9. Social Withdrawal: This is one of the most important symptoms of depression, according to doctors.  If you find yourself withdrawing from normal activities and social interactions, you may be clinically depressed. If there is any chance that your depression would make you suicidal, there's a greater tendency that the attempt will happen when you're alone. This explains why so many suicide attempts go unnoticed and unstopped.

10. Unexplained Sadness: If you notice you're feeling sad, pay attention to determine its intensity, duration and (lack of) cause. If you feel so sad your heart seems to be on your feet, for a long time, and you can''t seem to track subsequent stressors, then it is an early symptom of depression.

There you have it. Please Please Please, if you notice you have a combination of any number of these symptoms, talk to someone close to you or more importantly, a profession. Depression is real and the more you ignore it, the more life threatening it becomes.

If there is one person to whom you owe the truth, it is to yourself. So if you notice any of these symptoms, please do the right thing and tell yourself the truth. It is an illness that not only affects your life (literally), it also affects that of those who love you.
Lastly, don't forget that there is nothing too big for God. No matter what may be causing you to feel depressed, tell Him about it too and know He'll hear your cries. Happiness is a conscious choice only you can make. Make that choice by paying attention to your feelings.

Stay Inspired....

Sunday, March 4, 2012

That "Too" Shall Pass

Today, I found I'd been looking for all week. Today, as I sat in the third pew at Renewal Christian Center and as the Preacher's voice bounced off the walls of the sanctuary, my heart got what it needed most....Inspiration from the my very own life atlas...the Bible.

See the thing about inspiration is that it needs to be renewed. Life's unanswered questions and wrinkled plans sometimes threatens even the strongest of hearts...the tornado we call existence often creates a dent only renewed inspiration can repair....We need to be reminded that our internal tornadoes will be quietened....that our unanswered questions will be answered....that our life plan will be it will be done and who exactly would be doing it.

Today I was reminded that one of the few constants in the world is struggle.  The truth is that life is filled with trouble, affliction and unanswered questions. You or someone you know is always going through a challenege, coming out of one or about to enter one....its the truth about life...its a cycle. I'd call it sad if there wasn't hope. But there is.

God didn't promise that life on earth would be easy or void of challenges but He did promise to see us through each wrinkle of life....He promised a life filled with deliverances....because He overcame the world, He'd see us through any kind of trouble we matter how huge it seemed. With faith comes deliverance...its what He promised and its what He will do. 
I have a few unanswered questions in my life...and I'm sure you do too....yes YOU who is reading this post :-). Accordingly, once in a while, we all need to be reminded that God is attentive to all our cries...the tears you shed when you're alone in the car, the thoughts that go through your mind late at night as you battle with dreamland and/or the worries/concerns that each dawn brings with you. He has heard them all....He knows what you want...Fear not, He'll deliver you. 
Today I was reminded that God will never leave the faithful hanging. What's more is that I learned allover again that God will use every pain I feel as a catalyst to take me to the next level. So will He do you. 
Genesis 30 tells the story of Rachel who had been frustrated and ashamed that she hadn't bore any children for her husband Jacob. This caused a lot of chaos in her home considering that Jacob's other wife Leah already had seven children for Jacob. Can you imagine how Rachel felt? After all the chaos, verse 22 reads, "Then God remembered Rachel; He listened to her and opened her womb"..... 

No matter what you're going through, hang in there...
No matter what aspect of your life you're still waiting for direction on, hold on....
No matter what turning-table you find yourself in, seek peace
God will remember you, 
He will listen to you and 
He will open doors for you.
Stay Inspired....