Valentine’s Day: Spare More Than A Thought for Those Less Fortunate

I had a whole write-up planned about Valentine’s Day, and the importance of focusing on self-love, as well as other types of non-romantic love.  Then I received this video from a friend this morning.  It is about acts of kindness that cannot be reciprocated, at least not at the time they are given.

I am not affiliated with Microsoft, except as a customer using their Windows and Office products, and a couple of friends who work there.  I am however strongly affiliated with anyone or any group that thinks beyond themselves and reaches out to those who cannot give them anything in return.  It is not always about money; sometimes time invested is even more important.

As we go about celebrating today, spare a genuine thought for those less fortunate, and ask yourself whether you are truly doing all that you can do for those in your immediate vicinity, no matter how small it may seem.

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image courtesy thedailyquotes.com

Relationship with Self: Always Appreciate Opportunities Provided To Grow

My dad has worked with the same utility guy, who we call Uncle B, for almost 3 decades!  I call him THE utility guy because he is the one that is called whenever anything needs to be done regarding any of the utilities in the house.  Uncle B is an electrician by profession, so it is not a big deal that he gets called when a fuse blows out, or a new electrical line needs to be run from one point to another.  He is, however, also called when there is a leak in the plumbing system.  He is the one who then gets a plumber, and supervises him (I am yet to meet a female plumber in the city of Lagos 🙂 ) to ensure the job is done properly.  If my folks are unhappy with the way the job was done, do they go harass the plumber?  No!  That falls on Uncle B.  A wooden room divider needs to be built?  Call Uncle B.  The roof is leaking?  Call Uncle B.  You get the picture – Uncle B knows his business, knows how to handle his business (read people), and delivers quality service (only reason he is still around).

When Mr B and I got married, our new home was situated about 15 minutes away from my folks (without traffic – a necessary disclaimer in the city of Lagos, even the Google Maps application uses it, he he). Who was the obvious person to call when we needed electrical work done in our home?  No awards if you responded “Uncle B!” :).  A no-brainer right, especially since we were well within Uncle B’s jurisdiction – in fact, he would have to go past our neighbourhood to get to my folks’.  Well, here is the conversation that ensued between myself and my dad just after narrating to him about the electrical issues we were having that needed resolution:

Me: “Daddy, I am going to call Uncle B tomorrow.”

Dad: “Why?”

Me: (wondering whether the answer was not obvious) “So he can help us out with the electrical issues” (I almost added “now,” but I no get liver! 😀 )

Dad: “Go and find your own electrician.”

Me: (bewildered) “Ah, ah…  Why do I have to go and reinvent the wheel when we have a tried and tested person at home?”

Dad: “Exactly, we have a tried and tested person in my home.  You have set up your own home now, so go and look for your own person.”

Me: “Ha!  Ok o…” (feeling dejected and wondering why this man was “hoarding” his utility guy)  “But why?”

Dad: “You see, you need to learn how to use your resources to solve your own problems.  There are three main reasons for this: (1) I have raised you to be a confident and creative problem-solver 🙂 ; (2) who says Uncle B is the best available?  You may just discover a better and more up-to-date gem that will beat Uncle B at his trade; and (3) if Uncle B messes up, I will be able to come to you for recommendations for his replacement :).”

The light bulb did not go off at the time – I was dwelling on how we were going to be gambling with artisans neither Mr B nor myself were familiar with, and praying nothing would be fundamentally destroyed in the process.  So, I went off with my tail in between my legs – what I thought was merely an FYI conversation had somehow turned into a rejection; who gets rejected when one was not even asking for permission???  Sigh.

So, Mr B and I reached out to our friends requesting for recommendations for a good electrician.  There were a couple of frogs, but we very quickly found our gem, Mr G.  Mr G did such a good job for us, and very responsively sorted all issues we had afterwards.

Fast forward 7 years: not only do we have a very good and responsive electrician in our utilities “tool kit,” we also have other very good and responsive utility guys (again, I am yet to meet any female that provides these services in the city of Lagos 🙂 ):  plumbing, water treatment, furniture-making, gas stove service and repair,  air conditioner service and repair, and laundry service.  We are now the go-to people our friends (and yes, my Dad 🙂 ) call when they need recommendations for such service providers because our rather-limited-threshold-for-nonsense standards have helped us separate the wheat from the chaff.  We still come across frogs every now and again, but we have developed the ability to very quickly see through them and give the boot if necessary before wasting any financial, emotional, or time resources.

What is the main takeaway from all this?  As parents and people of influence (if to no one else, we have a significant influence on our kids), we have to consciously encourage (and force if necessary) those within our spheres of influence to solve their problems with their own resources, the most fundamental of which is their brains.  Necessity is truly the mother of invention, and unless a human being has opportunities to truly apply herself/himself, she/he will never actually grow.  This process starts from babyhood, through adulthood, right until our old ages.  The more of such opportunities a person is presented with, the more of an asset that person will become.  If we go about solving their problems for them, even if they ask, we are ultimately doing them a huge disservice.  Even though I did not appreciate it at the time, I am now very glad that my Dad rejected my non-permission-request :D.

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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 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?

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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.

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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.

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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!

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image courtesy Sue Barrett via LinkedIn

Got any karma stories of your own to share?

 

 

Relationship with Others: Economic / Financial Abuse

I recently met a fine lawyer who has committed herself to empowering women, identifying domestic abuse situations, and working with domestic abuse victims to get them to a safe place in every sense.  This is a very little-talked-about phenomenon which is a lot more prevalent than a lot of us are willing to believe, hence my fascination at meeting someone who not only talks about domestic abuse, but actively works with victims.

During one of our many chats, my finomics101.com write-ups came up, and we agreed that a confluence exists between our respective disciplines: financial abuse.  As invisible as domestic abuse is, financial abuse (also referred to as economic abuse) is even more so.  We decided to collaborate with me as a guest writer on her blog.  The links to the two-part series we created are:

Financial-Abuse-Graphic
Source: thefamilylawco.co.uk

Got to be real: http://b2bbeautiful.blogspot.com/2014/11/got-to-be-real.html

Got to be real (Part 2): http://b2bbeautiful.blogspot.com/2014/12/got-to-be-real-part-2.html

 

Hopefully this gets the conversation started in our various circles about the subtlety of domestic abuse in its various forms, dissuade the myths that it only happens to certain types of people, enhance our capacity to identify its symptoms, and ability to initiate interventions for those who we think may need them.

Relationship with Self & Others: Gratitude | #‎7DaysOfGratitudeChallenge‬ | Day 3

The ‪#‎7DaysOfGratitudeChallenge is an internet-based “movement” that encourages us to take a moment each day for 7 days to identify and write 3 things we are grateful for.

I am most grateful to the people who provide me the domestic support and assistance I need to function optimally:

  • The gentleman who has reliably and diligently cooked our meals and cleaned up after my family for the last two years.
  • The young man that has helped keep our home clean for the last five years.
  • All the nannies, teachers, and other caretakers that have helped care for and teach Mstr EB and Miss AB since they each turned 3 months old.

 

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Source: authorisland.com

Relationship with Self & Others: Gratitude | #‎7DaysOfGratitudeChallenge‬ | Day 2

The ‪#‎7DaysOfGratitudeChallenge is an internet-based “movement” that encourages us to take a moment each day for 7 days to identify and write 3 things we are grateful for.

Thank you Ms. Butler for your big heart and for “adopting” me when I landed in your beautiful city where I knew no one 10 years ago, and providing me a base from which I could find my feet.

Thank you Mr. Weaver for believing in the young woman who showed up in your office that day 9 years ago seeking an opportunity to be productive, and providing introductions and a path that was the spring-board I needed to make my mark and reach the levels I have since reached.

I am grateful for all the teachers and mentors I have had in the guise of bosses and colleagues; every moment working and relating with these individuals taught me valuable lessons that significantly boosted my life skills toolkit.

 

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Relationship with Self & Others: Gratitude | #‎7DaysOfGratitudeChallenge‬ | Day 1

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The ‪#‎7DaysOfGratitudeChallenge is an internet-based “movement” that encourages us to take a moment each day for 7 days to identify and write 3 things we are grateful for.

I am most grateful for the family I was blessed to be born into, the extremely dedicated and deliberate upbringing process that was the optimal combination of firmness and fairness, the challenges and mental conditioning I was fortunate to have gone through – some of which I was intentionally exposed to, some of which were simply a rite of passage through the corridors of life, all of which have culminated into the all-round well-balanced person I have become: an asset to my parents, an asset to my husband, an asset to my children, an asset to a lot of individuals across the globe, and a liability to only a handful – if any, he he.

I am grateful for good health: mine, my husband’s, my children’s, my parents’, my in-laws’, my extended family’s.  It’s quite easy to forget about the wonderful design of the machine we carry around everyday – our body, until a component starts to complain and requires attention.  I am grateful that those component-complaints are few and far in between for us, and none of us has any condition that is beyond our ability to handle.

I am utterly grateful to have met, become friends with, remained friends with, got married to, become parents with, and continue to be friends with one of the most decent and few truly good men – my best friend, Mr. B.  Our journey started in our teens, and as we have each evolved as we have grown in life experiences and wisdom, I am most grateful that each evolved self has remained special and true to the other.

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