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.

you-must-do-your-own-growing-irish-saying

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.

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?

keep-calm

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 Self – Mummy Chronicles: My Affair with the Kitchen Floor

Happy New Year :-)!  I know right, the first month of the year is almost over!  Well, it is never too late to add my best wishes to those you received when the calendar reset to 01-01: may this year be better than all those before in all respects.  Hope all your new year resolutions are still firmly in place :-).

soak garri and peanuts groundnutsIt is a well-known secret that I love my garri!  No apologies there :-).  And my offspring seem to have inherited this gene :-).  Nothing like a nice cold bowl of garri – with a couple of ice cubes thrown in for good effect – with peanuts on a hot afternoon to calm the human system down (I can see some of you nodding with understanding :-)).  This all sounds like bliss, no?  Well, not exactly.  The problem with this picture is that as soon as I show up with my bowl cradled in my hand, ready to arrange myself cosily in a chair and savour my delicacy, two pairs of legs run up to me, two pairs of hands start pulling on the bowl and spoon, with four pairs of limbs trying to climb unto my head so the owners of these limbs can get prime access to the “gold.”

So, how do I escape this attack you may wonder?  That’s where my kitchen floor comes in :-D.  The above scenario gets tweaked a bit: instead of heading to the living room and attempting to settle cosily into that oh-so-comfortable chair, I remain in the kitchen with the door shut, and settle cosily unto the kitchen floor.  Bingo!  All objectives met: (1) the attackers do not know there is any bait, so there’s no whining about missing out; (2) I get to enjoy my delicacy with no struggles; and (3) I get some me-time as a bonus – even if only for a few minutes, before they realise I have disappeared and come knocking.

on-floor-in-kitchen-and-texting-on-smartphone
Image courtesy shutterstock.com

So, parents and guardians out there, do you have any “escape” stories of your own to share :-)?

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.

 

gratitude-hearts-conscious-of-treasures

 

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

Gratitude-open-door-to-power-wisdom

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.

Gratitude-open-door-to-power-wisdom

Relationship with Self & Others: Positive Effects of Ebola Virus Outbreak in Nigeria

It is no longer news that the deadly Ebola virus (“the virus”) arrived in Nigeria for the first time late last month (July 2014).  The nature of the virus requires that individuals exhibit the following characteristics in order to contain the spread and minimise fatalities:

  • a keen sense of personal responsibility,
  • a proper – elevated actually – sense of hygiene, and
  • a respect for personal space.

 

PersonalResponsibility
Source: stargazerstuff.blogspot.com

As much as the various governments and medical representatives have their obligations to proactively identify potential cases, and quarantine and treat as appropriate, the individuals have an even higher obligation to themselves and to others to “turn themselves in” should any suspicion arise about: (1) exposure to the virus; (2) exhibiting symptoms of the effects of the virus.  The next level from this would be enlightened self-interest, taking the place of selfishness and greed.

 

wash hands soap and water
Source: cosmosmagazine.com

We all know we are supposed to wash our hands regularly – especially after using the restroom and just before eating, not pick our noses, avoid rubbing our eyes, not sneeze on people, and cover our mouths when we cough.  However, we also know that we have not quite been compliant with these basic hygiene requirements.  The nature of the Ebola virus is such that it cannot survive soap, detergents, antiseptic agents, bleach, and heat.  The current outbreak of the virus has increased our general understanding and implementation of what should be the norm.  Hopefully, these preventive measures currently being taken to be Ebola-safe will become lifelong habits that we will continue to teach those around us.

 

personal space comic

And now to the most interesting one – personal space!  I am not sure how many of us actually understand what this means, given that I regularly have to turn back to the person whose breath I can feel on the back of my neck as I wait in the checkout line at the departmental store, and say “abeg dress small” (Pidgin English for “could you please move back a bit”).  So, here’s a definition obtained from Google (yes, Google is my friend 🙂 ):

the physical space immediately surrounding someone, into which encroachment can feel threatening or uncomfortable.

Lagos is a very crowded town.  People are constantly bumping into each other, pushing against each other, sometimes simply holding on to another for dear life.  We are so used to this constant “interaction” that we still maintain the mode even when we do not have to – like my experiences at the departmental store.  Now, that we have an extremely communicable disease in our midst, we have suddenly started respecting personal space, and even exaggerated it some!  It would sure be nice if this appreciation of personal space is maintained long after the virus is eradicated, and becomes something we are known for :-).

dp - queue in oshodi

Relationship with Self: I’ll Finish the Dishes When I’m Dead

This TIME article perfectly reflects my sentiments about how I need to realistically manage my expectations and the balance between what I would love to achieve (desires) and what I can most optimally achieve (i.e. keeping the most important balls juggling).

TIME

The way you live your days is the way you live your life.

—Annie Dillard

One evening when my kids were young, I was outside weeding my infernal gravel yard that, if left untended, begins to look like a furry Chia Pet. They were bouncing with sheer delight on the trampoline.

“Mommy, come jump with us!” they cried. “In a minute,” I kept saying. “Just let me finish weeding.” It was a time in my life when I used to routinely ask myself, “What do I need to do before I can feel okay?” And then I’d run through a never-ending mental list. That evening, with a familiar sense of vague panic rising, I felt compelled to finish at least one thing, the weeding, on that long, long list.

Lost in my churning thoughts, I didn’t notice the sun go down. Or hear my kids go inside. When I looked…

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