Relationship with Self: Change

“Change”…  One of the most popular words of 2015, especially in Nigeria.  We all remember the electioneering mantra of the now-majority political party; the mantra that earned them the historical feat of democratically unseating an incumbent.  This is also the season of promises of change; a lot of people evaluate themselves around this time of year and come up with various new year resolutions.

According to the dictionary, change is

an act or process through which something becomes different

This is different from the perceptions held by most people of what change involves.  The general expectation is that change can, and should, happen literally overnight.  In reality, as the definition above tells us, change is actually a process, usually not a very fun one, no matter how positive the objective:

  • Timi has decided that he will change his caffeine-ingestion habits by eliminating coffee and caffeine-infused soda drinks from his diet.  This is a very positive move, and he will be the healthier for it.  He will however have to endure some painful withdrawal symptoms as he goes through the process towards attaining his objective.
  • Chidi has decided that he will change his financial situation by becoming more frugal with his expenses.  He has decided to stop certain purchases.  This sounds easy, but can be quite emotionally painful.
  • Adamu has decided to turn his health around by eating healthier foods and developing an exercise routine.  This can be very painful as his body adjusts to the new regime.  The sight of an inviting cookie or plate of pasta can derail the best-intentioned.

These examples highlight an often-overlooked fact: positive change may sound sexy, but it is actually painful!  It requires a lot of mental, emotional, as well as physical strength.  The goal is usually well-known to be a very positive one: losing weight, becoming financially secure, becoming healthy and physically fit, becoming a self-sufficient nation.

Lastly, change is not an end in itself.  When the desired change is attained, it needs to be maintained.  Imagine if Chidi attains a certain level of savings and then stops being frugal.  Or if Adamu reaches a certain body weight and then stops watching what he eats.  For change to be effective, it has to be permanent.  The process has to become the new normal.  According to research by Phillippa Lally (a health psychology researcher at University College London),

it takes more than 2 months, on average, before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact. And how long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances. In Lally’s study, it took anywhere from 18 days to 254 days for people to form a new habit.

So, as we go through our necessary societal changes, and as we make promises of change to ourselves, we should be realistic by acknowledging the discomfort and pain that would be involved, and develop the necessary grit required to get through it and come out victorious on the other side.  We should be ready to be determined, persistent, and consistent as we go through the long journey to get where we want to be.  One change that would be really nice would be to successfully make every promised change a new habit, so there will be no need to ever promise the same change again :).

change-hard-messy-gorgeous  change-willing-to-be-uncomfortable

 

Happy new year in advance!  See you in 2016.

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Relationship with Self & Others: Significance of the 2015 December Holidays

The significance of this year’s Islamic and Christian holidays just struck me: the Muslim faithful are celebrating the birth of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) today (24 Dec 2015), and the Christian faithful would be celebrating the miraculous birth of Jesus Christ (Prophet Isa, AW) tomorrow (25 Dec 2015).

Both men were born in the same general geographical area, spoke historically similar languages, started in very humble settings, minded their businesses through their twenties, were pulled into their destinies to pass key messages to their communities and the world, and died relatively young. They each lived lives of piety, preached peace, cared for the less fortunate, and lived by (and encouraged others to live by) the golden rule, i.e. only do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

So, as we celebrate our respective holidays, and celebrate with our sisters and brothers of all faiths across the world, we should continue to remember what these men actually stood for, respect one another, and be kind to one another.

Relationship with Offspring – Kiddie Chronicles: “My Name is …”

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We had just arrived home from the kids’ school on this day about three months ago.  We met our next-door neighbour, who had also just returned home from work.  She was trying to gather her things from her car, when one of the items dropped from her arms.  Mstr EB noticed this and ran to help her pick it up.  She was appreciative of his gesture, and said:

Thank you darling.

 

Mstr EB looked bewildered!
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His immediate response was:

My name is not darling!  My name is EB 😀

 

As we head into the thick of the holiday season, wear your name (faith) with pride and be kind to one another.

Happy-Eid-Mubarak
image courtesy epicwallpaperhd.com
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image courtesy usaallfestivals.com

Relationship with Self: Are You Principled?

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Hey you… Yes you… Do you know what it means to be principled?  Does it simply mean being a good person?  Does it involve earning degrees and awards?  Does it have anything to do with one’s level of exposure and / or education?

principled-definition
Being principled means consistently applying the values one professes (one’s principles) regardless of who is involved.  Do you recognise any of these people?

Taiye professes her belief in quality education, yet she sends young Segun (who lives with her but is not one of her biological children) to a school she knows to be inferior to the one her own children attend. Taiye is not principled.

Hassana believes that a sound night’s sleep is extremely important to a young child’s development, yet she gives Hauwa (her young assistant) so much work to do, that she cannot get to bed early enough and has to be up earlier than the rest. Hassana is not principled.

Danladi says the roads are unsafe, hence his kids are not allowed to walk from point A to point B within the neighborhood, yet he makes Ahmed (his less well-off sister’s son) trek all over town. Danladi is not principled.

Gbemi says Itunu (her daughter-in-law, Segun’s wife) must be able to cook fresh food for Segun everyday, keep their home spotlessly clean, and come to her house every Friday to rub her feet; yet when her daughter Tomi’s mother-in-law Kemi makes similar pronouncements, she calls Kemi a bully.  Gbemi is not principled.

Ngozi insists that her daughter Ada helps her out in the kitchen and around the house as that would teach her useful lifelong lessons, yet she leaves her son Chidi to lounge around and raise his feet up while Ada sweeps.  Ngozi is not principled.

Adamu is the first to make a fuss when his employer delays the payment of his salary by a day, yet he shouts down at Abu (his driver) when Abu comes to beg for his salary that is 15 days overdue. Adamu is not principled.

Femi shouts to the mountains and all over social media that he believes in the equality of all men and women, yet when Simbi his daughter brings home a man of another religious faith, he screams “over my dead body!” Femi is not principled.

Nnamdi rolled his eyes and shouted blasphemy when he heard about churches receiving humongous amounts of money for prayers à la DasukiGate, but he did not see anything wrong with the amount received by a Muslim ex-governor for spiritual reinforcement.  Nnamdi is not principled.

I am hoping you get the drift now.  Not being principled is one of the most significant hindrances to the progress of humanity, as that is the root of injustice.  If we are not able to consistently treat our fellow man / woman as we would like to be treated, then we cannot complain when such treatment is meted out to us or those we claim to love.

The importance of being principled is amplified when one has children of one’s own, as they learn most from our actions, not our speeches or sermons (i.e. words).  So, each and every one of us needs to thoroughly assess ourselves, our motives, and our actions under the guiding prism of being principled; this will definitely make our communities, and the world at large, a better place to be.

be-the-change-gandhi
image courtesy Lolly Daskal via LinkedIn

Relationship with Others: What Goes Around Comes Back Around

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About 3 years ago, we – Mr. B and I – hosted our first Eid-el Adha party as a family.   The social hallmark of the Eid-el Adha celebrations is the fried ram meat; everyone I know – young or old, Muslim or not – looks forward to this once-a-year delicacy (for most).  Even the rams themselves know something is up (even though not in their favour).

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image courtesy foodspotting.com

We live in an apartment block that does not have any space provision for outdoor food preparation and cooking, so we decided to explore the option of using the undeveloped plot of land next door.  Mr. B met the head of the family that had taken up a shanty residence there to seek permission to handle our ram business there.  The gentleman – who I shall call Ahmed – not only acceded to our request but also helped select an appropriate spot for our purpose.  Ahmed went the additional step of helping us oversee the individuals that were working on the ram to ensure things were done properly; we were pleasantly surprised as we had not asked him to do that.  At the end of it all, Ahmed did not request for a single thing in return for all his assistance.  We ensured he had a very healthy helping from the menu of the day, but we did not think that was enough to repay him for his kindness.  Such acts of kindness can never be fully repaid in my opinion.  We have since included Ahmed and his family in our zakat distributions every Eid-el Adha and Eid-el Fitr; a little token in our opinion, but we know it will enhance his family’s nutrition for a reasonable period.  We greet each other heartily whenever we do see, and he always seems genuinely happy to see us.

Fast forward to 3 weeks ago when we had some major road work done in the neighborhood that resulted in a major access road becoming inaccessible for a few days.  This meant we had to park at the other end of our street as that end had been barricaded (don’t ask :|) and walk a short distance home – nothing uncomfortable, and thankfully it is currently Harmattan, so there was next to no chance of having to deal with the rains :).  On that morning, I had gone on the morning school run, returned, parked at the closed end of the street, saw Ahmed as I walked home, we greeted ourselves heartily as usual, and I walked on home.  When it was time for the afternoon school run, I rushed out nearly late as usual (sigh!), returned with my crew, parked at the closed end of the street again.  I carefully chose my spot so I would neither end up being sandwiched in nor obstruct the free flow of traffic).  I then got my crew arranged with their school items in place in their backpacks on their shoulders, then got into our set-to-walk position: I hold Miss AB’s hand, and Mstr EB holds her other hand, with me being closest to the street and Mstr EB closest to the curb.

Just as I was silently congratulating myself on getting us all “in-sync” in good time, I saw Ahmed walking briskly towards us, trying to tell me something that I could not yet hear.  I looked around wondering what he could be saying: did I miss a sign that said not to park there? was it supposed to be someone else’s spot?  As he got closer, I heard the sweet words:

“Madam you fit enter; e get person wey go open am for you.” (Madam, you can drive your car through; I have someone who will open up the barricade for you)

My eyes must have been as large as circles!  I had no idea the lock at the barricade even had a key!  And to find out that not only did it have a key, the holder of the key was close by, and Ahmed had gotten him to provide us access!  You would think I had won a lottery!  I thanked Ahmed profusely, told the munchkins that they would get their leg-stretch exercise another time, and happily drove us home.

yippee-happy-rabbit-dancing
image courtesy partywithneha.wordpress.com

Why did this action of Ahmed’s make such an impression on me?  Because even though it was not an uncomfortable distance, it felt good to have someone else look out for us without us making any move to make a request, and knowing the person would not ask us for anything in return.  Also, because the gesture was not materialistic in any way, but provided a much-needed respite on a very hot day.

In Yoruba, we have a short phrase: “k’a sa ma se da da,” which loosely means “it is good to do good.” Let us please continue to be kind to others without expecting anything in return; we never know when that gesture will be returned and how much impact it will have.  In this instance, we were the direct beneficiaries; in other instances, it may be our loved ones that would be the beneficiaries.  Do not view a person through the lens of class, status, appearance, age, or religion, to determine whether or not to be kind; we all belong to a single race called humanity, and no one knows anyone’s tomorrow, not even our own.  So, go forth and be kind!

be-kind-dalai-lama
image courtesy Sue Barrett via LinkedIn

Got any karma stories of your own to share?

 

 

Relationship with Offspring: I Don’t Have a Nanny

I was having a chat with the editor of LagosMums some months ago, and mentioned this seemingly inconsequential fact, or so I thought.  She didn’t seem to think so, as she asked if I could write an article about that for her to share with her readers.  She thought it would bring a perspective different from the more common “horror nanny” stories.

It took me a few months (*whew*), but “it’s better late than never” as they say :).  Here is the link to the article: I Don’t Have a Nanny (LagosMums); please note that the images and links were included at the editor’s discretion.

Anyone out there that shares my “issues” :)? 

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image courtesy life.familyeducation.com