It was an absolute honour for me to be asked to share my views about parent caring during this Carers Rights Day 2016. The Local carers team did an amazing job setting this up and putting it all together. Many thanks to the Citizen newspaper for publishing the article. I hope that by creating more awareness, many parent carers will find the courage they need to confront all the uncertainties that lie ahead of them with their children more easily. The UK government tries to provide support through various agencies like the Carers UK,  Social services, Community paediatric teams, Community nurses, and doctors within or outside the hospital setting. In some areas hospice care is made available to families with severely disabled children to help provide some well deserved respite from care while ensuring that their children are still cared for in a safe enviroment. If carers do not come forward to access and the explore various support outlets, they just remain there unused. This defeats the purpose for which they were set up. This is why it is essential for Parent carers to access every possible help and support available. There is really no need no need to carry the burden of caring for a child alone. There is no need to habour fears about consequences of accessing well deserved support. Most of the fears will be reduced once parent carers begin to ask the right questions about what is available to ease the burden of care life throws at them with the existence of the illness of their child. There is a saying that a problem shared is halved. True, but I always like to think that this only holds if you share it with the right person. Getting support, asking questions and letting others help will be synonymous with sharing your problem with the right person. It is  truly the right of every carer to access this support. You are not being too demanding you are just being wise and proactive. That on its own deserves applause! I decided to share the article here To show my support for awareness being created on this Carers Rights day. Thank you as always for your support and readership. I know you do not realise it but every time you click, read and share my work you not only spread the word about what you have read but you support me on my own journey. It is strengthening that you find my work useful. Thank you. So sit back, relax and enjoy the interview…. Carers Rights Day takes place on the 25th of November, a national campaign which brings unpaid carers, support charities and local communities together to help carers understand their rights and the support they are entitled to. Carers MK supports over 4500 unpaid carers in Milton Keynes providing essential advice and information to those providing unpaid care to a relative or friend who due to illness, disability or frailty cannot manage without support. Case Study:  Parent Carer, Mrs Hope Carers UK support those providing care and support to a child who is ill, has a physical or learning disability or additional needs. Parent carers face huge uncertainties, stresses and challenges when faced with coping with their child’s condition, and it is important that they receive emotional support, advice and information to help them in their particular caring situation. Parent Carer Mrs Hope has a four year old son who has an inherited metabolic condition called Propionic Acidaemia. His body cannot break down proteins but builds toxins in his blood. He was diagnosed when he was just 3 days old after he went into Coma due to an overload of toxin called Ammonia. and in February 2016 was admitted to Great Ormond Street hospital with chronic pancreatitis. He cannot be fed by mouth but with specialist intravenous feeds called TPN into a big vein in his heart. Mrs Hope is now juggling visits to Great Ormond Street while also looking after her 5yr old son Mark. She and her husband take turns in shuttling between their local hospital  and London to care for the boys. It is extremely strenuous on the whole family, emotionally, physically and psychologically.   Q  &  A   What are the biggest challenges you face as a parent carer? My biggest challenge has been accepting that my 4yr old son will not be perfect in every way a child should be. It was very devastating when he was diagnosed. Initially I felt overwhelmed with guilt because I learnt that the condition was an inherited one. Simply meaning that it came to be as a result of mine and my husband’s matching but defective genes. The realisation that his condition was incurable and degenerative fuelled my sadness for him. It was also hard to make his 5yr old brother understand that his younger brother was different. My 4 year old also suffers from severe autism (as a result of the Propionic Acidaemia). This meant that the 5 yr old brother initially struggled, believing the 4yr old deliberately chose not want to play with him. Our acceptance of the whole condition early meant we were able to reach out for help and support for our family.       How do you manage caring for your son in hospital while looking after other members of your family? I have managed considerably well since I began letting everyone in where safely possible. With a son as delicate as my 4 yr old, I initially felt I needed to do everything for him myself to get things done properly. Unfortunately, I struggled that way. I learnt to share the responsibility for him with the nurses at my local hospital or GOSH London (depending on where he was admitted). This freed up time for me to go home at least once a week to be a mum to my other son- to do the school run, take him to the park or just cuddle him. I have fed off this bit of normalcy. […]

Interview with the Local media

Lots of students are hit with the harsh reality that university education unlike any other entails a lot of writing. What I prefer to see as “feedback”. It can be seen as something (data) that serves to inform future steps. (Glick M 2011). It happens when a person is allowed to give an opinion about how an activity or interaction has gone. It can be a good or bad opinion. It is usually delivered to someone else or maybe the organiser or other people involved in the activity or interaction. It is not enough to read many books as a student. There is also the need to relay what one has read to evidence understanding in such a way that can only be arrived at by critically analysing all that has been read. There was a report carried out in the US in 1990 by the Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCAN). In this report it was determined that upon graduation, students should have acquired skills in literacy, computer usage data analysis and evaluation. In a nutshell, they should have information gathering skills to take into their lives. (Department of Labour 1992). The problem with getting information as a student is knowing what information to get or if what has been gathered will be relevant. The risk is usually in using only a small set of resources irrespective of the problem at hand. This poses the need to acquire this information literacy by learning to find a link between the use of the librarian, faculty and information technology resources available to meet the requirements of the problem at hand. (Weiner 2010). Interestingly, becoming informational literate helps improve our overall awareness as students. It cannot be acquired without sharpening very many aspects including our writing, analytical and listening skills. In the process we learn how to summarise what we have read from various sources into a few words. These become the feedback that we present in the form of assignments, essays and exams. Our writing is also show that we not only understand overall learning outcomes for the course but are able to apply our knowledge specifically to help solve the problems presented by the assignment, essay or exam. It also provides the opportunity for our hard work to be graded. This ultimately ascribes value to our degrees once attained. Information gathering is a cumbersome task. We need to have a fair understanding of what the question is because it is the basis for the whole exercise. It guides the search. Planning the search for the information needed to answer the question require time, patience and strategy. When information is found, questions regarding the suitability of the source of information become necessary. The helps to give the final product derived from the information some credibility and integrity. It is important to know more of the work and why. It is also important to know when the article was written to determine their relevance to the question being answered. In addition, the student has to find ways to put down what has been learnt. Where a quote is used, the marks to determine their start and end should clearly be applied. Techniques like paraphrasing, summarising and mind mapping can be used to sieve out relevant information regarding the question that the essay is required to answer.(UNPAC 2017). Only after all this has been properly done understood then begin to validly engage in a full analysis of the information that has been gathered. It may also include disturbance thoughts, doubts and in-depth analysis. This is the evidence of understanding that academic writing presents. In the end, the learning provider creates a fair system for submission. This allows the work done by students to be checked for similarities. The aim is to reduce copying, cheating and plagiarism. It also encourages students to use references and citations where multiple sources are used. (UNPAC 2017) Personally I feel very daunted by this concept of academic writing. It has now dawned on me that knowing how to write is only one piece of the academic writing jigsaw puzzle. Citation and referencing are certainly good skills to take on board. They would help a person separate facts from their  personal opinions as they write. Improving on communication skills to aid interaction with others helps to check and share ideas. This an article was about writing awareness and the requirements for attaining an academic level of writing. It looked at the importance of researching widely during academic writing tasks. It emphasised on the seriousness of the exercise and showed that there was no room for students to droll over the idea of using appropriate citation and referencing in their work. More importantly it focused on the need for appropriate citation and referencing to give credit to sources used.   Thank you for reading as always. There are many other posts like these. Do you know you might like them? Click here Photo credit : Pixabay   REFERENCES Department of Labour (1992) Secretary’s commission on achieving necessary skills. Accessed 6 Aug 2013 Margaret Glick (2011) The Instructional Leader and the Brain: Using Neuroscience to inform practice. Corwin press pp113 Chapter 5 Weiner S L (2010) Information literacy: in neglected core competency. Educaus 33(1) Google scholar. UNPAC (2017) Northampton  

What’s all the fuss about academic writing?

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Letting people we love make their own mistakes is an art that I feel we all need to master. For those of us who give ourselves entirely when we care, we can sometimes unintentionally burden people with the level of care and affection that we shower them. It’s hard for them to understand why we just never back off but we only “nag” them because we care. Well I don’t feel that I nag but that’s they word that gets thrown left, right and centre when you keep on warning about the impending disaster. How many times have I seen someone I love ten steps away from a move that will lead to disaster and panicked? Countless times. I have expressed my panic and received sticks in return. Leave me alone … I know what I am doing … It’s my life, my rules, my mistakes!   These become the broken record they play to my listening ears. Yet when the disaster strikes the record changes to Don’t say I told you so or why did you not stop me! Should I have pushed harder despite their express declination or was I right to respect their feelings and let them do things their way? It’s such a hard balance but veering towards the latter means that you allow peace reign. You also show them respect and love by stepping back. This in turn gives them the chance to discover things by themselves. This reminds me of an African saying. I shall just translate it … Don’t tell the child to stay away from flames because when they feel the heat or get burnt from it as a result of their curiosity, they will never play close to the table where the lamp sits. Many people learn better from their mistakes and experiences while others like to add other people’s experiences to their learning pool. No matter how much you scream or honk at them, it feels like they chose to ignore the advice because it came from you. Being a familiar person tends to make you get taken for granted after all they say a prophet is hardly known in his hometown. What better age to live in than now when opinions abound. The internet is filled with chat rooms and fora of all sorts with people sharing and sometimes exaggerating their experiences for full effect. Many are also surrounded with family and friends who volunteer unsolicited advice. While that can be a pain, it can also be a treasure if you have the right level of discernment to help you sieve the chaff from the grain. Trust me discernment is a skill you acquire over time! I have just escaped an interaction with a loved one on the verge of making what I think to be a costly mistake but their mind is made up on their preferred course of action. As usual, I have to swallow the bitter pill of respecting their decisions and taking the difficult step back. It takes a lot of courage to let sleeping dogs lie. So tell me, have you found yourself in this situation before? What did you do about it? Thanks for reading. Photo credit: Pixabay There are many other posts like these. Do you know you might like them? Click here

Shhh…Stop telling me what to do!

There is one frustration I face daily as a carer. It is the feeling of a sense of loss. It is a loss like no other. Interestingly, this feeling is quite common amongst many carers.  Many carers do not even realise that some of the anger  they direct towards their caring role is as a result of their feeling of loss. Many times, caring is done fully by the caregiver-usually a parent or guardian. In an instant, the needs of the child take precedence over the carers’s needs as a person. Carers give up hobbies, careers, social ties and most of what gives them substance. This in my opinion leads to what I like to think of as self loss. The self loss creeps in slowly and inevitably. As more demands are placed on the carer, their own needs begin to pale in significance. With good reason, the child’s needs take centre stage. As parents or guardians in the first instance who better to assume the role of complete and absolute responsibility for meeting their needs? When your child or loved one is sick for a short time, this is not a problem. In no time, the child becomes well and things  return back to normal. For some other carers unfortunately, things never return to normal. The chaos becomes the new normal, they become forced to accept the new normal and adjust their lifestyles and everything to suit looking after their child. Initially, it does not seem like too much of an ask from the carer’s emotions and psychological well-being. However, as time goes on, the cracks begin to become apparent. The cracks form emotionally and psychologically and gradually assume their existence in the carer by becoming deeply rooted as a feeling of loss. The existence of these feelings of loss though deeply impressed on carers are sadly not only normal but very common amongst carers. The only difference being their time and degree of occurrence. are very normal. My question today is this – is it possible to avoid these feelings? Perhaps care in a better way to make the carer rocksolid against these feelings? I fear the answer is no. These feelings come to everyone in this position but what we can do as carers is control the  extent to which these feelings affect us. How?  By managing the extent to which we let these feelings ruffle the feathers of our existence. It is okay to feel frustrated about not being able to do the things you really feel deprived of as a result of your caring role. Trust me, even the rock solid people you see around whose circumstances differ from yours will feel exactly like you if they walked in your shoes for as long as you have. What I am saying is please don’t be too hard yourself. On the flipside, fellow carers like you who seem emotionally strong do not feel that way everyday. They experience high days and low days. What we all aim for is to have more high than low days. To have more high days, we consciously look at the things that help trigger and sustain the high days and minimise our exposure to the ones that trigger the low days so that they will not inger on for as long as they currently do. When we consider things that trigger and sustain the “high days” we look at everything even the most insignificant things. I will give you an example – Azi is a parent carer who finds himself very frustrated on  some days, he discovered that he feels extremely happy at the sight of the bowl of red grapes on the table. It is not an explicable reason for happiness but it just so happens that the sight of the bowl of red grapes in a bowl on the table by the kitchen window always leaves him experiencing a feeling of elation. The sight more than the taste of those grapes makes him happy. In his minds eye, it triggers happy thoughts that take him back to his days on the family farm when he felt happiest basking in the warmth and comfort of his family. In fact, the more he asks himself why the grapes make him feel so happy, the more he realised its significance to him. Another example is John a parent carer who in his frustration and boredom found himself colouring the pages of an empty notebook. It all started out of boredom but with each stroke of his brush, he found that he began to feel elated and lost in the distraction provided by the burst of colours he created as he marked the pages. Today on very stressful days, John creates time for colouring pages. He has colouring books, painting projects and so on that help him through difficult days. As carers, people lose the ability to do the things they really wish for. However, adopting a new approach can help them to do different things for themselves. They may or may not be remunerated for it but the distraction availed them by such activities make the activity “their” own thing to do amidst the uncertainties posed by the caring role they face daily. So we technically begin to find ways to create a yearning for what surrounds us or begin to learn to wish for new things to sustain and distract us not only from our current circumstance as carers but also from our inability to live the original dream. It so happens that we tend as humans to keep chasing either what we do not or cannot have. In order to cope with an otherwise stressful caring role (where one’s well-being is absolutely more fragile than they realise), we need to find a way to distract ourselves away from our inherent human tendency to chase what we do not have. This idea can allow us to find and trap happiness even momentarily. In due course one can create lots of “moments of […]

Hospital life : The carers’ loss of self

Being a parent carer is really not all doom and gloom. It’s hard to be yourself because most times you put yourself last on the scale. However, as carers, we need to take care of ourselves. Our health, our backs and even our emotions. Constantly ignoring that symptom you have because of the attention your child or loved one needs will do no good in the long run. It’s a good idea to always bear in mind that as soon as you become unwell (especially after ignoring niggling symptoms) everything breaks down. You begin to worry about who will stand in for you when you are ill. We all know that worry. It is made ten times worse if you are anything like me. I get caught up in the thought that no one can look after my child as well as I would. This may be true but when you are unwell, it is what it is- you will have to let others step in whether you like it or not. They may not necessarily do as good a job as you can be but they will definitely give it their best shot. Adopt proper posture when performing daily tasks : For some of us, our caring role means we are either constantly lifting or  bending. It is a good idea to adopt proper lifting and bending techniques on time. You really do not want any wrong postures that will leave you in pain over time. It’s quite easy to take bad postures for granted but bear in mind that caring for your loved one may be long term. Make sure your vaccinations are up to date : In the colder months the flu vaccination is a good idea especially if you normally have one. Do not forget to check with your doctor before having the flu jab in order to ensure that it will be right for you. If your child or loved one is very prone to the flu, they may be offered the flu vaccination anyway. The vaccination you get will just stop you having the flu and reduce the risk of exposing your child or loved one. Get some fresh air : Emotionally, carers are at risk of becoming lonely and depressed. It will be a good idea to try to get some exercise as often as possible. The fresh air never does anyone any harm. For those who are unable to enjoy the outdoors for various reasons, even sitting out in the garden or by the window may make a difference. Just watching as much nature as you can through the window, strolling in the meadow etc can uplift a carer’s mood. Stay connected with help and support : In addition, there are support groups for carers in England. The carers UK, or a local branch of carers can provide listening  support and sometimes advice on days when you struggle. For those abroad, similar support may be available. Where unavailable, all hope is not lost, friends and family are always invaluable. Providing support to those who struggle. It always helps when we can talk about our feelings. Remember, that’s child or loved one will want you to look after yourself better if they knew how much you were struggling. It will ultimately impact them adversely in the end. It is a good idea to seek help when you struggle. It does not make you weak, it only means you are strong and working hard at keeping strong. There are lots of things to support parents in the community. Parents who have kids with disability especially can have access to some benefits for them and their kids. When my child was diagnosed, it took me a long time to come to terms with the full implications of the illness for him and for us all as a family. The last thing on my mind was seeking any help. There were too many things to get used to. However, a lot of the stress would have been halved if we sought had sought help sooner. In the UK, it is worth speaking with the citizens advice bureau on time to advise on what is help would be suitable. This is because different families have different needs. However, I found that the government website also provides information. Disability living allowance is made available to children with disabilities. The level of care required for the child is used to determine how much would be awarded. There are two categories: mobility and care elements. Some children can be awarded both or either of the elements in the disability allowance. At times children can still be awarded even without clear diagnosis. The main criteria used are the level of care or mobility needs for the child in relation to children his or her age. The main carer for the child can be the parents, foster parents or any other person. If that person spends over 35 hours a week caring for the child, he or she can also claim a carers allowance. There are rules to be adhered to while claiming the carer’s allowance. It is taxable benefit meaning that it counts towards your personal allowance in every tax year. There are limits to additional earnings per week and it is worth checking before embarking on any extra employment. There is also a restriction on the number of hours the carer can be in education. Part-time education not exceeding certain hours a week are allowed. Some families may struggle with caring for their child and it may genuinely impact on the families ability to work and earn enough money to meet their living costs. Families can apply for income support and child or working tax credits. There are different criteria used to award these and it is worth calling them for advice early enough. When the income is low or the  family claims income support, it is also worth checking if you are eligible for housing benefits.The Turn2us website contains  an online calculator that parents can use […]

Hospital life – Taking care of yourself as a parent carer (Physically and Financially)

Immersion… An interesting word for today right? Well, It has not come about by accident. That’s just in case you were wondering. It was a word that came about through feedback. A person was described as one who got thoroughly immersed in any activity they performed. It was a compliment actually. I always like to think that once in a while it is interesting to get feedback about how we come across to others. This was definitely an exciting one. Until that point in the discussion, I would have never ever thought of describing the person in question as one who enjoyed being immersed in any activity. I was wrong because right now, the more I think about it, the more I find it to be an extremely suitable description. So let’s turn to Merriam Webster my trusted side kick when it comes to defining terms. She offered me many definitions but the one that I thought was most suitable for the purpose of this discussion was the third definition. Here it comes… ….absorbing involvement…. I like that. For one to be described as having a tendency to be totally absorbed and involved in an activity must be a good thing. Right? Personally, I like not only to do things but to experience them. To do something feels more external than experiencing it in my opinion. I like to watch how things make me feel when I do them. I like to be aware of how I form my opinion about the things I do based on how they make me feel as I do them. I also like to compare my feelings over time … how am I feeling about this now compared to how I felt previously? I can hardly participate in things without deploying all my senses. This creates a lot of internal dialogue which can sometimes be distracting. Feel things from the heart don’t just be a partaker … That’s like an unspoken motto of mine. But that also comes with its baggage. You see not all activities we perform make us feel anything to start with. Especially when they are in their infancy- when we first start to do them. When we are still learning to do them, it can be difficult to feel excited about them. It’s easy to think that someone possesses a mighty  dose of absorbing involvement in an activity when they are enjoying what they are doing. This can lead to the assumption that this feeling occurs with every activity they participate in. It can even make us feel that we do not possess as much potential for being completely absorbed in the activities that we ourselves are involved in. Well, not so my friend, not so…. That absorbing involvement you witness in others is expressed mostly when people perform enjoyable activities. There are many things that can distract us from experiencing the same level of absorbing involvement that we admire in others. I like to think of them as internal and external distractions. Let’s start with the internal distraction. Do you remember how I told you earlier about how I need to experience and not just do things?  Well, that’s a classic example of a potential recipe for distraction that originates from within. I cannot count how many activities I have been robbed of because I have been too impatient to allow myself hop over the learning hurdle and into the enjoyment phase. The need to immediately enjoy and feel can be a distraction from the whole process and objective of simply participating in many activities. In fact funny enough, many of the activities I am currently admired for were those that I learnt when I was very young. I have no real recollection of what the learning phase was like or the resistance I may have put up. I was very young when I acquired those skills and what’s more the responsibility for making sure I mastered them was not mine. My parents and teachers would take full credit for those. Writing, sewing, tidying up, playing an instrument, saying my prayers, reading my bible etc. With those skills, I hear people say I have super immersive tendencies. Now that I am solely responsible for acquiring new skills to help me participate in new activities, I must confess to you that I have found myself as shamefully wanting as any one else. I cannot even learn to play the Wii with my son because I lack the patience to learn what all those buttons are for on the controller. Worse still, the functionalities keep changing with the games and I simply cannot keep up. What happened to just colouring or painting things? So you may see me doing things like that diligently and looking totally absorbed in those but don’t be fooled. I don’t enjoy or feel anything when I play the games because I cannot get myself to be patient enough to learn them. As a result, I safely stick with familiar patterns. In order to reach a point of immersion in the activities we perform, we need to find ways to remove distractions and create a focusing environment in which the so- called activities we get involved in can thrive.Not many of us are able to kill all the noise and things that tend to push and pull us as we perform various activities. This leads to an inability to be absorbed or completely involved in them. In the end, we end up avoiding or even neglecting them. This brings us nicely into the external reason for distraction which is mainly peer pressure. This distraction originates not just as a result of an internal distaste, lack of enjoyment or feeling for the activities we perform but from people whose feelings we put before ours. In trying to please them, we compromise on our personal desires regarding the activities in question. The need to yield to these external peer pressures also fuel the need for conformity. This means that many activities we will ordinarily participate in, enjoy and […]

Word of the day – Immersion

If you have been sailing through life and never failed at anything, it is difficult to appreciate the gift that failure can bring to your soul. I feel so sad. Failing again and again has bashed my self esteem. it has made me question myself. Am I really good enough? Perhaps I have been very lucky up till this point and escaped with many near misses that I have not noticed, how narrow my escapes have been. That is pretty much how I feel right now. I am so angry with myself. The more success has continued to elude me, the more frustrated I have become. I have tried everything within my power to succeed and it just feels like the more I try, the more I tumble down the slippery slope. I partook in a test that depended on how someone else other than me judged my actions. If they judged them as safe, I passed but if they determined my actions to be dangerous, however innocuous my intentions, then I failed. Every time a tentative feedback was given, I felt judged even though it was sometimes corrective.  By the time the judgement was finally passed,  I felt like an extra switch had been put off and my confidence nose- dived…dimmed one switch at a time. Why could I not see that all I had were just a litany of miscalculations? I just could not understand how I could have been so daft. It’s interesting how we view ourselves compared to how we are viewed. Sometimes, we allow ourselves trust the judgement of people around us (especially if they are external and not prejudiced) and rightly so. However, it does not stop it being very heartbreaking to sit and listen to them talk about how we actually come across. While we mustn’t spend time worrying about how others view us, we cannot totally ignore them. As they say, everyone cannot be wrong at the same time. Failure was an alien term to me until I joined the bandwagon. I really could neither relate with nor excuse it. It simply did not exist. It was a stamp for weakness. But recently having suddenly tasted the pill of failure despite the heavy doses of hard work and optimism I had mustered, I began to appreciate failure. I began to see how the elusiveness of the target could either be a propeller or dissuader. I began to appreciate how failure could secure success or destroy egos. I had no idea that I was such a bad loser until I began to experience failure. I had enjoyed so many victories, I did not know how to fail. Failure really sucks trust me but the truth is that as long as we are trapped in our humanity, it is a phenomenon that is sometimes inevitable. Survival of the fittest!  You are not the only one on a mission to succeed so sometimes others will have their own turn…Let them shine after all when you were a winner, they too watched you take your turn on the pedestal of success. So in order to experience the lessons hidden in failure, we need to learn how to fail. Failure helps us realise that we are human and as such we can never be perfect always. It helps us pay more attention to the things we will normally overlook. It not only makes us aware that what we are trying is not working but pushes us to find new ways that can work. Failing is not really losing, It is in reality a postponed victory. Losing is when you stop trying to find a way to win. Every one will get their own turn only if they keep trying. One thing failure does best is make the victory even sweeter when it finally arrives. Failure provides an opportunity to learn more accurately as we strive to aim higher in our attempt secure success. Failure allows us go through a process by providing us with experiences that strengthen our awareness of success. In order to achieve this, failure helps us listen more closely to the wisdom in the hidden lessons that we can build on as we edge closer to victory. The journey to success that is stretched longer by failure is  the journey that sculpts and fashions  us into tougher beings as we strive and never give up. The one who attains immediate victory knows only the way that works while the one who fails severally before experiencing victory knows not only the way that works but is also the most certain about the ways that don’t work. This knowledge secures the victory once attained because there will be no reason to drift away from the path of success. If we can be kinder to ourselves when we fail, we will be less scarred by failure. Failure is nature’s way of telling us that we are not ready. Failure does not mean that you are not good enough, it just means that you have not yet found the way. Look at it this way, even if you have the best car in the world, you cannot drive from point A to B if you do not know the way that leads from A to B. Even if that car is a Bugatti, the man on a bicycle who has the map or knowledge about how to get from point A to B will get there before you. This does notmake his means of transportation better than yours. Therefore, when we fail, let us stop taking failure personal. Let us start asking the right questions about why we are failing or what we need to get us to where we need to be. Let us go back to the basics if we have to. We must keep trying until we find a way that works. In the end we will be rewarded not only with the victory we seek but with information about so many other ways that may equip is in other endeavours. […]

The power of failure- Why a bit of failure can be a good thing.

Seriously…. How many children do I have? Well, in reality and to most ordinary parents, this would be their most savoured question. It is like the one they expect and hope to be asked as soon as their parental status comes to light. It may go in the lines of …so how many children do you have?… It will be the opportunity for most parents to go on about the number of children and possibly how cute they are, how old they are, what they are up to. Some might even add a moan or two about how “stressful” parenting is…. Well, blady, blah blah. For me, that question is the one I dread as a parent. The question is like a needle that stings my heart leading to an eruption of extremely distressing emotions. Sound strange? Well, welcome to my world. I used to have very many children and now for some reason, I am left with just one. One lonely child who is now not only left with me, but left alone without a sibling. What a wicked world! Sadly, they all died. My child is only 7 and she has been through the works with me. Well, before you turn on the pity, I just want you to know that I do not actually intend shedding any more light about my situation. Please don’t give me that look…don’t I know it? Well, worse things happen so get over it! Anyway, the reason that question creates a huge emotional sting for me is because when it pops up harmlessly, it leaves me clueless as to how to approach the answer fairly. Technically, I have 2 possible answers I can say I have just one child. But you see, the question is ambiguous if you ask me. How many children, triggers numbers in my head. I had numbers to present to this quiz master but now I have just one child left. To be fair “do you have?” specifically refers to the present tense. You know, like the current state of affairs…which would be 1! This brings me nicely into my second possible answer. I  can say I have one “left”. This also satisfies the answer in the context of the present. However, it also creates an awareness of a change in status quo. “Left” kind of brings the existence of some other persons who were but who now are not here into the knowledge of the quiz master. It’s like dragging them into a party where they are really no longer welcome. At least not to the living who are always inconvenienced by this knowledge. Yes, I insist that creating this awareness is always an unintended inconvenience posed by my response which the hearer has to deal with. Apologies begin to spring up by the askers who suddenly wish they did not ask. Or worse still, who start to worry that by leading me to this response, I will suddenly become so upset that I need one thousand apologies to feel better. No, the apologies do not make me feel better. They only scratch the elephant that enters the room with claws of pity. I won’t break just because I make you aware of my status. Remember I provided the answer even though you asked. So there you go, I have spilled the beans. It’s ok to feel troubled by my answer. To worry about how I might feel afterwards but please don’t fixate. Don’t let it take over the rest of the conversation. Don’t let it make the mood sour. The reason I chose to give this answer has nothing to do with you. It has instead to do with my angels. I just feel like it will be so unfair to give an answer that does not acknowledge their existence in this world however fleeting. It is also not fair on me. It psychologically and emotionally takes a lot from a man to be in this position… to move from being the “one time father” of many nations and to becoming the father of one clan. So that answer gives me a sense of pride too. Its not easy to be me. To cope with as much losses as I have had to. It’s my only chance to show off my strength as a person. Yeah yeah…it sounds lame. Well, it’s not my fault that I no longer have victories at soccer, or straight A exams to boast about for my angel children. But I am still proud that I am still standing here in one piece living and coping with the void that their departures have created. Cheers!   Photo credit: Pixabay

Question of the day: How many Children do you have?

It was a lovely party and the music was on full blast. Everyone was so excited. I was dancing really hard. My heart was pounding and I could feel the adrenaline rush. Oh! how I loved parties. This one was being hosted by my friend Nkem. No one could pull off this scale of grove better than him. Everyone was there. Everyone that mattered. There was booze, food, small chops …everything. However, despite all the fun,I had a niggling feeling I could not shift. It was exploding within me but the fun was just too much to attend to it. Dance! Dance!! Dance!!! That’s all I was doing. I was just helpless to the beat. Until….. It exploded…. I ran as fast as my feet could carry me to save me the embarrassment. I was 39 years old. How could I explain what was happening. I ran past a couple making out at the foot of the stairs, brushed past a few people on the corridor. I wished I had wings. From my peripheral vision, I could see that none of them could tell what was happening to me. That was a relief. The door was in sight. Phew… I would sort myself out as soon as I reached it. If only I could get there very quickly. It must have been just five steps away. I could see the door and all I wanted was to get behind it. This explosion was under control…at least for now. Suddenly it began to turn into a burning sensation. Bang! Bang!! Bang!!! I wished my fist could burst the door. I was banging for dear life. The door was locked. Someone was in there. “Come out…. come out….”, I screamed. My voice was inaudible with all the racket.The damned music! I could not believe that I had let the silly beats get me into trouble. The door began to open…. slowly….but it was too late.  I could feel the woosh. The explosion was officially on full blast . I managed to save my face as I slammed the door shut behind me. I had peed my pants. It was so embarrassing. At my age, I could not imagine that I had been so daft. I managed to sit on the loo. My bladder was still very full despite the accident. There was more but it felt stuck. “Why can’t I wee?”, I wondered. I tried to push the wee like a woman in labour. I pushed and pushed without success.  It just did not budge. “Was I sick? What was wrong with me?”, I could feel myself entering panic mode. Don’t do it…Don’t wee… Who was saying that? I could hear the faint cry in the distance There was a burning pain in my groin now. So I tried to push again. Don’t doooo iiiiiiiittttt! “Shut up… who the hell is saying this. What is happening to me?”, I screamed feeling very upset. “I need to gooooo”, I said sobbing quietly. pheeeewwwwwww…….. The sound of my relief as I let the sweet urine pour out from my bladder through my itsy bitsies down the toilet. I shut my eyes and enjoyed the relief. Who was saying that.  But suddenly my legs began to feel wet. Errrm… I was sitting on a toilet, why was my body feeling wet. This was a weird day. I had not drank a drop of alcohol. I felt horrified. “Wake up ! Wake up ! You are soaked!”, That was definitely a man’s voice. It was Noah my partner. How did he enter the toilet? Surely, I locked the door behind me. So I opened my eyes curiously wondering how on earth that happened. I was soaked. It was Noah alright, but I was not in the damned toilet! I must have emptied a truckload of urine on our bed….again. “Are you ok darling?”, Noah asked me calmly but no matter how he tried to downplay the obvious, I was too embarrassed to speak. I picked up the pillow and hid my face. OMG! I was soaked in my own waste! I did not answer… I was still in shock. I am 39 years old and have no idea what to do! Thanks for reading Photo credit: Pixabay

A wet dream

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I remember the first day I heard Yanni’s music. I was young, maybe 17 or 18 years old. I had gone to visit my boyfriend at his own university. It was a very hot day. A typical African day. I remember sitting outside his room trying to get as much fresh air as I could to cool down my burning body. I had many thoughts on my mind. I was not really sure why I decided to sit outdoors. It was a busy hostel. One of the types outside the campus. A studio flat but in those days, we called it a self-contained room.  By student’s standards, that was cosy. Well, as I sat outdoors taking in the atmosphere, watching all the students hustle and bustle about their business, there it was…. The sound of his music… It sounded like chimes.  extremely melodious. My ear canals picked up the sound from somewhere and one thing those ears of mine never did was deceive me.I looked instantly towards the direction of the music. It came from a room about 3 doors away. I sat there taking in the music and hoping there will be no interruption in the power supply to cut my enjoyment short. I knew it was the kind of music that I wanted to listen to. The chords were so calming… so foreign, so different, so me…. I did not know who the musician was but I sincerely did not want the music to stop. I listened to track after track and suddenly the heat did not matter any more. Suddenly, my worries seemed to float like butterflies on the chords of the music. everything seemed to melt away into nothingness as I listened. I had never experienced that feeling before. It had energy. It was rippling through me and making me happy. Then suddenly, the music stopped. It came to an end! I wanted more there was no way I was letting go. I had tasted this musical fruit in the most unlikely Eden but I was certainly not repenting of it. I wanted another bite, another mouthful. In fact, I wanted my own tree. I walked to the room and tapped the door gently. “Hi bro”. I said as a guy opened the door. He was very muscular and stern looking. My fears ignited and I panicked. I certainly did not think this through. I hoped  for my sake that my quest for this strange music would not land me in trouble, There were fears at the time about cultists in this school. I wondered if my move was really a good idea. He looked at me and nodded. He was not looking too happy to be disturbed I guess or maybe that was just how his face was. “O boy no vex abeg”, I began to speak but loosing my courage by the moment as he seemed to frown a bit more as I spoke. ” I really enjoyed the piece of music you just played. You have such fantastic taste in music. Please I hope you will not mind telling me the name of the artist?” He seemed to relax a bit and even smiled to prove it. “Yanni”. Thanks, I did not realise anyone else was listening. People don’t usually like my type of music around here. They call it weird and boring because it is not hip- hop”, he said. We both laughed. “They need their heads testing”. I said thanking him for the information. ” I have never seen you here before”, he began saying as he took a step outside his door. That was the scary thing about asking boys simple questions back then in school. I hoped he was not getting any ideas. “Yes, I am just visiting my boyfriend”. I said smiling, knowing I had burnt any cable of attachment he was intending to throw my way. “Nice one. I hope he knows he is a lucky guy. Only a few ladies with class appreciate my music”. he said. “Thanks”, I smiled shyly. Well sorry guys, that’s all I get to tell you about my first Yanni encounter over 15 years ago now. I have not stopped listening to Yanni ever since. Many have also discovered him through me which is an absolute privilege. He is just an amazing composer. Recently, I had the priviledge of watching him play and it was an even more mind blowing experience. He is one of those people that you could listen to all day. He is as talented as he is inspiring. He seems very interested in connecting personally with his audience. He does not just throw the music at you but gives you some background to nearly each piece. This gives substance to the music. There is no sweeter feeling than eavesdropping on the reason why artists create their pieces. Were they happy, sad, heartbroken or in love when they created the piece? Filling up the human curiousity, giving us the gossip behind the scenes makes the experience even more memorable and remarkable to us as listeners. While you can enjoy the piece as you want, telling us the story behind the piece gives us the added advantage of enjoying it as the artist intended for it to be enjoyed when he was creating the piece. He is also a very spiritual person and puts a lot of thought into his work. He obviously makes a very strong connection with a being higher than him to be able to create each of those mind blowing sounds. In fact what I find most intriguing is the fact that he creates every piece of sound in each piece he presents. I have some favourites and I invite you to listen to them too. These are top on my Yanni playlist. …Deliverance, Playing by heart, Playtime, Rainmaker, Nightingale, Nostalgia, Truth of touch, Aria…. I could go on and on…. I often listen to Yanni in the mornings when I take my walk. I experience an ecclesiastic feeling […]

The sound of his music- Listening to Yanni (A personal tribute)

We become strong people not because we have the best situations But because we make the best out of every situation👍. Good opportunities can be sandwiched in thorny paths. They are not to be found by everyone but by that someone who is courageous enough to thread that path. Fear 😱can steal the strength💪 to carry on. Rise above fear to see what life is really teaching you with the precariousness of your situation. There are strengths 💪💪deposited in you by God for every journey. You are on a mission in this world and your God “chi” did not send you on that mission empty handed. 🙏 You were created ready even though you do not realise it. The tools 🔧⚒⛏ you need are hidden within you.   You may never know….but when the time comes You will find them deep within…hidden away from prying 👀eyes👀. Forged by the heat of the situations you loathe. So quit complaining and start believing that you can overcome💪💪. That is only when you will see what lies within. I wish you a lovely week and hey….DO NOT BE AFRAID!   Thank you for reading. You may also like to read other articles like this. They can be found here. Photo Credit: Pixabay

Strengthening words for this stressful life…Click to see and enjoy ;-)

Are you a one night wonder? A flash in the pan? Do you feel like you start many things and never get to finish one before jumping into the other? If you answered yes to any of those then you are like me. In fact we should be twins. The problem that people like us have is that we are multi talented. We have many abilities. We are the victims of our art. The danger of knowing how to do too many things is that you see opportunities everywhere you turn. Each new opportunity looking sweeter and more alluring than the last.  Spontaneity is fun. In fact do you know that some people- the-not-spontaneous-and–over-careful-ones even envy us? That is so funny. What they do not see is how crippled we are by our “very own” selves. We look all around us and all we see are lots of “coulda woulda shoulda’s” stacked around us. We could have done this better if we tried harder… we would have done that better if we stuck by it long enough or should have done this instead of that one we are doing now. We even think that we don’t do regrets when the English meaning of those feelings is just that! Deep down, I wish I were more patient and more careful. I do try to suppress the urge to jump in, out and away from things.It’s so hard to stop myself. I have asked my self why I jump about. Here are some answers I came up with: Some things are just too boring to do. Yes it’s really true and hey… that’s not my fault darling! Some things are just as boring as…i don’t know, colour white? You just do them and they just go on and on and on…forever Some things are too slow. I wonder how people do slow paced. Like pleaseeee….”hurry up!” It takes the life out of Alive when things come together so slowly Some things are more complicated than they seem. Yes. I put my hand up… sometimes I misjudge and underestimate things. In the end I find the next exit as soon as I hit hard times. Life is too short! Some things are too exciting to resist. Ha! This is another one. I need to have a go at the juicy stuff. How was I to know that the one I was bent on doing would be outdone by some others in the future. Some exciting prospects that I bump into are simply irresistible. If only that word choice did not exist! Things are just exciting until new ones come along. I keep on getting sucked in.  So my friend,  I could go on and on but I think you get the point…. It is quite an exciting and adrenaline filled ride on my roller coaster. However I think that at some point when the stock-taking time of life arrives, it is important to look again at the way we live our lives and see if we are really living optimally. Surely my way is exhausting and counter productive. This is why I have decided that the way to go is to spice things up. Although, that said, I don’t want to become boring either. I just want to find a way to enjoy the best of both worlds that’s all. I want to find a new way to enjoy my doses of spontaneity but with my eyes open. Tone things down a bit. Stick by stuff a bit more. You know? That sort of thing. So here is some advice I have for me. I think that if I stick with my own words, they will keep me on the straight and narrow as regards jumpology 😀 : Stay calm always. This is my numero uno advice to moi. Let’s assume for a second that people have 50grams of adrenaline when they get excited. I bet mine shoots up to like 50,000 in less than a minute. I get over excited about things and I am really sure that a bit of calmness would help me see things clearly before delving into them. Think again about the next course of action. Things are not always they way they seem. All that glitters is not gold. So rather than allow my heart take over the decision making, it may be time to engage the brain- common sense as they call it. Do some research. It will be a good idea to take the time to research into stuff before plunging in. I need to learn to find out all I can about something before doing it. Asking questions especially from those already doing what I am trying to get into will help me learn more about what ti expect. It may even spring up some hidden surprises. Things that only those with prior knowledge can feedback to inquisitive minds. Stick at things even when they get tricky. That’s not a sign that I should leave but that I should persevere. I have to give myself time to learn. Until something is learnt and mastered, it may seem tricky and even impossible to do. Thank you so much for listening to me today. It was a rant that has left me feeling tons better than I did before starting. You see, nobody is perfect. We all have our flaws and challenges. Trust me, everyone is striving to improve one thing or another about themselves. Sharing this will hopefully help me and other jumpers like me. Cheers. If you enjoyed this, then please click here for even more. Photo credit: Pixabay

Thinking out loud….Jumpology… Why can’t I settle for one thing?

Hmmm…. That’s all I can really say Honestly, I totally give up on trying to pack these boobs! Yes, you heard right…my boobs. See nobody told me when I was a little teenager waiting patiently for my blessed jugs to appear that they will later nose dive as they have. For goodness sake I am not even 40 yet. I cannot even bear thinking about how they will look like when I hit the big 4-0! Will there even be anything left to pack? Haba…. e no good o. Well I will give you a background to help you feel my pain. I remember when I was in Senior Secondary School year 1. All my friends had grown their boobies. I mean full fledged ones. I did not even have any trace. It was so annoying. Seeing as many of them had began to sprout theirs as we finished primary school, it was not surprising that I had become very impatient with mother nature. Surely I was not going to be forgotten! I had too much brain-dowment ,perhaps that was why my physical en-dowment was lagging behind. At one point, I even contemplated putting some foams in my bra-tops…. Oh those blessed bra- tops. I had worn the glory out of them. sometimes I wondered why my mother even bothered. There were no breasts to even cover. I am sure if the manufacturer knew me, they would have named the underwear “chest-tops” for my sake.  I like to think that I had very good friends (never mind what they may have said about this subject behind my back) . None of my friends said anything to hurt me. They knew more than most that where I was lacking physical endowment, I compensated for with my sharp tongue. So what if I had no boobs? Had they not heard about late bloomers? That was my bold face talking. The gospel truth was that I was hurting even though I never showed it. I ignored the looks on their faces when they talked about their puberty related woes. Imagine them crying about painful menstruation when some of us did not even have boobs. Please don’t get me started on the silly red ninja. That one took her time to arrive. Story for another day. So having waited for more than a few years for my blessed boobies, I spent most of the time praying for sizeable ones. After all the patient dog always ate the fattest bone right? I even planned what type of bras I would be buying. I expected that I would be endowed with large sized paw-paws. I did my research on how to avoid the back pain many of my friends attributed to their over sized boobies. Then, just before the end of my secondary education, my boonies finally arrived. Haaaaallleluyah! It happened so quickly and even embarrassed me in the process I am not going to lie. I went home one summer holiday bare chested as usual and resumed in September fully bloomed. The blessed boobies arrived with a bang and who was  I to even complain? My prayers had been answered. They say be careful what you wish for but this time, I wanted every “large surprise” that I could get. When school started, I did not go unnoticed… at least not by the boys. They had their heads turning and even some lips wagging. I got nicknamed “young shall grow” that term. I was not even sure if it was a compliment or mockery. Whichever way, I took it in my own stride and ignored it. Those were the glory days. The stupid boobs did not grow as large as I wanted. They were not even the standing ones. Oh don’t tell me that you had no idea about breast categories? Well, let me enlighten you. There were those that stood at attention, those that always pointed downwards, the ones that came with eraser nipples the types that managed to escape with a paint on nipple. Seriously, the last category were boobs that looked like God had run out of nipple material during boob production. Well, since my intention is not to paint you a picture of the boobs I finally got, your guess is as good as mine when I say I was very disappointed with what I got considering how long I had waited for the blessed boobs. Thankfully I was a christian and did not lack in the department of faith so  I hoped for the price in future. I heard that there was a Canaan of maturity where women acquired literal milk (for their children) and honey (for their boob sucking and squeezing husbands). In that boob Canaan, all boobs bulked up and responded to life by growing big enough to satisfy their owners.I waited and bore my pre-motherhood disappointments forever looking forward to welcoming my husband and babies one day. As a result, my wedding day became my happiest day for more reasons than normal as you are now fully aware of. Bang, bang, bang…. I wanted to start having children without any further ado. He, like all men had other ideas. We need to plan, we need to save he said. Let us not rush. We need to give them a steady future….all that was bla bla bla to me. I needed my kiddies. So one day, period got lost in the post and bam! I was pregnant. Happy days…. I watched daily as my boobs metamorphosed into huge jugs. By the time the babies arrived, I was as huge as a cow. I breastfed them. The more I did, the more they grew. After the initial boob pains of breastfeeding, I was blossoming, blooming. I went many cup sizes up. I achieved bra cup sizes that I could have only ever dreamed of. My cleavage was so huge. I did not even need push-ups to bring the breasts together. Happy days… Sadly after the last breast feed, I did […]

Woman being… Why are my boobs so small?

So today is a Friday like no other. I have had a roller coaster day. It started off very promisingly but waned along the way…. I had an interview to attend. Supposedly the first step into the rest of what has become my new life. I was previously a kept man you see. I had everything being done for me. I did not even need to lift a finger. Money was not an object. Well, that was then… this is now and… the story has changed. A simple disagreement led to a disaster and now I was left to fend for myself. I know what you might think. You will say, is that even a problem? Well I say  it is my problem and a big one at that! I had forgotten how to earn money, pay my own way. I had actually forgotten what it was like to be broke! So that was why I was excited when I got a call from this agency yesterday asking if I could do a job for a reputable company. There was a sense of urgency in the guy’s voice because they wanted someone that could start ASAP and yours truly here- moi was available. We went through all the usual agency-agencee pleasantries. What was your last role? What are you looking for in your next role? Do you think that you can do this role? Those sorts of questions. After surpressing my irritation at these barraging (because don’t forget, I told you that he was the one who called my phone), he decided to put me forward for the role. Come to my office to fill out the formality forms and I will secure you an interview tomorrow, He said. Which by the way is today. So I head up there, fill forms, chit chat, get a time slot for the interview, get the venue details and then waltz off. Happy days! We’ll not until ring ring, my phone goes off. Hello I say Hiya, is this Azuka Mordi? She asks Yeah, you ok? I say I’m good thanks. She says Who’s this? I say still waiting for an intro that did not seem forthcoming! Oh sorry, you came to our office earlier today to fill out forms. She says Luckily for her, that was my only interesting outing and it was not difficult to remember. I have some good news Azuka, She says We have secured an interview for you for tomorrow (Which is today. we had this conversation yesterday …don’t forget) Errrmmm like seriously? Was securing me an interview even in dispute? Don’t worry I did not actually say that. Those were just my thoughts screaming loudly. What I heard myself saying was Oh, that! ok? What time and where? She fills me in with the details as if I did not know or as if it was ever in doubt! So we will send you an email confirmation of all the details. Let us know how you go tomorrow. We are really committed to matching your skills to a job. she says Ok thanks, bye. I say bye bye she says. I hang up feeling like that was so weird! seriously. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx So tomorrow arrives, which is today where I am standing right now and I feel ready for the interview. Mind you, I spent half the night awake practicing all my competencies, scenarios, skills etc for the interview. I then took my time to go through the email that the agent sent me the day before. Suddenly, I felt that spring arrive in my step. This would be a good day. I thought. I would smash this interview and secure the role of my dreams. The agency did say it was temporary but that the firm always kept their candidates on. So nothing to worry about there. I arrived the interview venue 15mins early, good interview ethics in place. I smiled at everyone. I had all my learnt scripts to heart and was waiting to spill them all out. My goal?  To mesmerise the interviewers of course! I aim to please. Come 11.00, interview began. Tell us your skills, tell us a time when xyz happened. How do you handle pressure bla bla bla. You know the usual interview stuff. I had done my research well. I was jabbering away. Good eye contact, good communication, good rapporting. They were smiling, they said they were happy with the spill I gave. Job done! We are happy to offer you this 6 week role! SAY WHAT??? 6 miserable weeks? You mean that all this spill and not sleeping my beauty sleep and I forgot to add, spending the last hour vomiting those first class answers was for only a 6 week role??? GRRRRRrrrrrrrrrrr I did not say that to them though what do you take me for? Composure in tact, smile on point Oh thanks for the opportunity I say I shall make the best of it and who knows with my dedication and hardworking, you may change your mind. We all laugh. Then she says just as we shake hands It will last only 10 weeks. That’s the service level that we need to cover. I hope this will be ok? Oh yes that’s fine I say. Still smiling. She walks me politely out of the office into the lobby where we fill some forms and I take a few ID card photos. In the end I say goodbye, promising to commence on the start date. My face is tearing from the smiles. As soon as I leave the building, I turn the smile upside down into a frown. GRRRRRrrrrr again I am so angry. 10 weeks? I for no just bother myself to day learn script na? I for just do am anyhow anyhow. As if that is not enough as I walk on outside the path that leads to the bus stop guess what happens next?  It starts to rain HAAAAAaaaaaaaa I am soaked to my socks before I even get to the bus stop. […]

No TGIF feeling today!

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Hi guys! Thank you so much for staying hooked to our website. It’s always lovely to know you guys are with us every step of the way. So I have been asking myself this question a lot lately. Career change…. to be or not to be? I honestly do not know what the answer to that question is but I am hoping to find out somehow….and fast! As some of you may not know (especially those new to this website) Karl and I are…or rather were full time carers to our son Otito until his demise early this year. The whole idea of setting up this website last year was (in addition to many reasons) to create an outlet for us to express the different emotions we were going through while we were resident with him in the hospital. It turned out to be a whole year long! A year ago what began as a very roller coaster ride led us to finding ways to cope. Our son was hospitalised and there was no hope of a discharge date in sight. With each passing day, he grew more and more fragile. However, we kept our spirits up by spending lots of quality time together as a family amidst our chaotic lives. The journey although tough and almost impossible at times failed to kill us but it sure did make us stronger. Well, sadly he died…. but such is life…. Tell me about bitter pills. This one was huge and we had to swallow it with every strength we could muster. Till date, the effects of that huge pill of life we swallowed with the passing of our son has left us scarred. With each passing day, the scars are becoming more bearable. It is now taking its place amongst many other  scars of life that we bear. Like every warrior, we are proud that we are overcomes by God’s grace. One thing that was apparent when it happened was that we still had to find a way to pull ourselves up and carry on. If not for any reason, for the sake of our son – Mark. Our hero. He had been through the last year living the hospital life with us and although we sadly had the worst outcome since the financial crisis, we still had to find a way to bail ourselves out of the emotional dip we were collectively experiencing as a family. I remember how the grass looked a duller shade of green. The roses were ugly and the skies seemed too grey to look at through the tears we shed. Thankfully having our boy Mark, gave us every reason to move on. Moving on was a bit difficult to do. At every emotional corner it felt like the ground was being pulled from beneath us. We knew not to dwell on those feelings but to confront each day as it came. We had good days, bad days and everything in between. One more thing that felt very strange to adapt to was working…. I wished a lot that I had the luxury of a holiday….a year long vacation to take our minds off things. Some time to grieve and even heal for that matter. Sadly, our lottery tickets were yet to yield the kind of fruit that would have guaranteed such a break. We had to soldier-on on that front as well. One thing I knew for sure was that having been through the last 4 years with a sick child, I was changed forever. I acquired a different view of life while walking that road. One I like to think of as a privileged view. I am sure that it was the type of view the elders boasted about. The one that gave them the advantage of seeing beyond what the youthful eyes could not even behold while standing on a mountain. It was a view that only came through experience. What does not kill you not only makes you stronger but also wiser, I say…hear hear! Now my dear friends… here I am! I have no idea what this big future holds for us. Hopefully some nicer more positive things to pull us out of the feelings we have experienced in the last few months. I have absolutely no idea what to do next (career-wise ) All I know right now is that whatever I choose to do from now on with the rest of my days must be something that makes a real difference. It has to make a difference in the life of others. It has to be more than just earning a wage. Anyone can do that. What we gave our boy was care, love and affection irrespective of his challenges. It elongated his time on earth. He thrived not only on our love but also on the excellent care he received from lots of medical and non-medical people. Trust me, the list of people to thank for their input in Otito’s life is endless. Sitting here today, one thing that consoles me is the level of connection we have been able to achieve with loads of people especially within the last year. It was all thanks to that little man. The people who come frequently to mind are his nurses. I will never forget the way they loved and cared for him both in our local hospital and at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) London. They were like his mums and dads on the ward. They just understood my boy and even though he was hard to please. They knew all his special needs, specifications, demands and still loved and looked after him just as he was. It was actually a fantastic relationship to witness…filled with true love… never wanting him to change who he was but forever helping him to make the best out of the life that he had. They say “you only live once” he sure had a hell of a ride with every member of his team!  My boy did not come into my […]

Career Change? To be or not to be?

During my recent visit to the hospital school at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), the Special Education Needs (SEN) arm of the hospital asked for my feedback on the service. You see, my son Otito was admitted there for one year as many of you who have followed the website have been aware of. It was a service that made an absolute difference to him. He loved school and was very fond of all his teachers. They were absolutely brilliant. Looking back, I can only be grateful for their input because they not only gave him the best time in the final days of his life, but also the rest of the family. They asked me to highlight areas where they did badly but sincerely, I could not find any. All I could suggest as I took the trip down memory lane were areas that could be improved on. Since many of the readers on the website have sick children, some in GOSH and others elsewhere, I thought that it would be a lovely idea to share the feedback here. The objective, in addition to leaving this feedback, is to also add to the visibility that I propose at the end of the article. I hope you all find it useful and also gain confidence in using this service in whichever hospital your child is in especially if they have special education needs. So let us start with the good bits. What worked Child-led interaction: The school program was centred around my child. I thought that the fact that he was allowed to dictate the pace and direction that the activities made him feel in control. This method respected and acknowledged not only the needs of the child but gave him dignity. It saw him as a human being and not just as a statistic that needed to be ticked off the box. The result was a boost in his confidence because he felt more able to flourish in his own peculiar way without being pushed beyond his abilities. Advantages: Increased confidence: Otito was given choices of activities to choose from each time. By selecting an activity he felt in control of the space and that made him feel like he took part in deciding what he wanted. The child led approach helped the teachers decide the pace and speed that the session should go by not being pushy and overbearing in delivering the session. It helped the teachers stay in control of the plan and intended outcome for the session This in my opinion, fuelled his confidence and modelled good behaviour to him. Building trust: it helped him build trust for his teachers. Children like Otito with special educational needs- SEN are accustomed to being interrupted for interventions as a result of the complex health needs. This means that they become very protective of their own space. The child led interaction helps reassure them that their opinions are acknowledged during the learning time. This helps them build trust towards the teachers that allow them to learn. For a child like Otito whose complex health needs challenged the teachers, it was a relief for him to be able to take sessions slowly on gloomy days and enjoy more fast-paced sessions on perkier days. I remember times when Otito became unwell during sessions and the teachers tactfully ended the session. For Otito his response was usually a mixture of dismay and relief. It made learning fun: The child centred approach really made learning fun for my child. It helped him look forward to teaching sessions. The fact that he was kept at the heart of the flow of the lesson meant that the whole experience becomes less of an ordeal. The child led interaction helped his teachers become more sensitive and empathetic towards him. They were more able to identify cues and behaviours that show engagement, distraction or disengagement during the learning time. As a result of this, they formed a bond with Otito. This helped to further improve the teaching and learning experience for both teacher and student. Tailored teaching: It was very encouraging and reassuring to see that at GOSH the teaching plans tailored towards the needs of my child. How? Initial sessions were used to assess his peculiar needs before determining the particular equipment or tools that were best suited for him. The assessment also acknowledged feedback from us- the main carers, about his particular likes or dislikes. There was a lot of observation of my child during play to help the teachers familiarise themselves with him. In my opinion, this helped them gain a sense of what would or wouldn’t work with Otito. This method of teaching struck a chord with me as I felt that Otito was respected and dignified throughout the process. It allowed his perculiarities to be taking into consideration during the process of planning, preparing and executing teaching sessions Engagement: By mirroring Otito’s preferences with their choice of tools for teaching him, they were able to tailor the teaching sessions to suit him every time. Engaging him in this way not only kept him interested for longer, but gave the teachers the chance to keep steering him towards more complicated outcomes. It gave him the chance to excel at tasks we believed were impossible. For example by using light up toys, giggly balls, cause and effect toys and sensory toys each time, his eye contact went from non-existent to fleeting and then to being held for a few minutes. He was also able to be taught turn taking – something that was initially met with a complete meltdown. He also learned to make choices using picture cards of his favourite toys. For this he went from choosing by looking in the direction of the cards he preferred to fleetingly motioning towards his preferences. Timing: I thought that the graduated timing style worked perfectly. When the teachers first began teaching Otito, the sessions were shorter until they were gradually built up to the target […]

Using the Hospital School- GOSH SEN Team – In memory of Otito.

Hmmm. We are having a history lesson this morning. I liked to think that I was showing my 6year old how tomatoes are sold in my motherland Nigeria (he loves hearing about Naija) when I set up this tomato stall this morning in the living room. It got us all buzzing and talking about home- our history heritage and culture of the Nigerian people (sounds like the title of my GST 101 course in Abraka Thumbs up to all the Delsuites in the house🙋‍♂️) In reality, this was for my own benefit. I bought these tomatoes in the local market “£1 a bowl”. However, for some reason, all I could think of was “abule” in Ajao estate (holla to all my estate gees🙋‍♂️) and Mile 12- the Tomato depot I used to accompany my mummy to. Good old days. As a child, I nursed many ambitions at different times. One of them was to be a tomato seller. I remember how I was always left amazed by the tomato picking, packing and shading skills some of the sellers had. Woman: buy tomarr-to buy timati Mummy: Elo ni tomato Woman: Eleyi 10naira meta 25naira Mummy: (pointing at the bigger ones and adding another pile) ati eleyi nko? Woman: hmmm, emi o ta! Meta meta 30 naira Mummy : jaale nko ( I loved the sound of that word jaale although funny enough in abraka (urhobo) we said blo👊 at this point) Woman: (nodding and looking distracted). Shey ofe ra ata rodo ? Mummy : yes (can’t remember how it sounded in Yoruba) The woman would at this point give my mum a good price. Then little me would stand waiting for this was the time when the best bit would start. The bit that made me scream to “follow”mummy to market. …. It was 1.The-nylon-bringing-out-moment followed by 2.The-packing-the-tomato-with-lightening-speed-moment then, 3.The-tying-the-bag-moment and finally 4.The-putting-it-in-my-mummy’s-bagco-super-sack-moment. As mum made to leave to find where to grind the pepper, I would linger on dreamily as I watched the woman bring out a basin of Tomatoes and start arranging new ones on the dark table in a similar way to the one I did in my picture below ready for sale. Mummy would then shout my name. Lauretta !!! (Because mummy never succumbed to calling me Laura😀) come let’s go you silly girl! Then I would be beside her wondering how the women did it? I loved it and I really wanted to sell tomatoes one day too. These women and men who sell in our markets in Nigeria are not celebrated enough. They work so hard in the scorching heat to help provide this valuable service. No matter how rich or poor we are, without them we we would not eat. Someone has to do the job and please don’t laugh too much at having this ambition. I just wish for a world where they and many others like them who sell staple foods around Nigeria especially would be looked after better. Some of my friends have done this job to survive in the past. I celebrate you. You share a piece of this history lesson that I provided to my boy today. You also have done what I never managed to achieve. Cheers to all the hardworking people out there 🍷 I forgot to say sorry to all the Yoruba people whose language I may have murdered up there….Ekepele Miss Shokunle… Lagbaja’s voice😀 Thank you for reading.

A history lesson for my son : Remembering the Tomato sellers

It’s a privilege to experience “misfortune”…especially as much misfortune as I have managed so far. But defining misfortune can be quite relative. What I consider it to be may not be the same for the next person and vice versa. What misfortune can bring with it is a new lens from which to view life. A lens that can easily be misplaced or sometimes lost if the only focus is the misfortunes. That lens is empowering. As a result of that misfortune, you become able to relate in a powerful way to occurrences that you would otherwise ignore, overlook or even underestimate. Acquiring this lens helps many people feel more compassionate and sensitive to the struggles of people in the most touching ways. People struggle and are seldom able to express the extent of their pain to others. It can be empowering to keep it all in have your “business” close to your chest but as the challenges pile up, they can leave you feeling overwhelmed. Challenges can also be alienating because suddenly you realise that you are only alone in the depth of knowledge and experiences you deal with daily. It’s hard to connect with others unless they can “get” what you mean when you “say” or “feel” the way you do. Don’t feel so alone because if you start to look through the empowering lens of your misfortune you will navigate through your struggles more easily. Through the lens of your pain: You see people for who they really are You suddenly filter the noise that otherwise surrounds most of us. You realise that it’s not really selfish to look out for yourself. You see that while many may like you to believe it’s selfish to look out for yourself, it is their first response to you when you need them the most. It’s not all bad though …. The lens of misfortunes helps you see the friends you otherwise overlook. The best of them are not as flashy as the clanging cymbals because they too bear or have borne a pain like you do and can relate easily with you. Turn those lemons that life gives you into healthy juices that will nourish your life by doing the best you can with the challenges you are faced with. It may be nearing the end for you but at the end always comes the start of a new chapter.  Thank you for reading Thank you for reading. You may also like to read other articles like this. They can be found here. Photo Credit: Selfie

The lens of misfortune- A blessing in disguise

It’s so beautiful to have you in my life. I was just thinking about how long I have had you in my life. It’s been my most successful and longest career. Of all the things I have got wrong and messed up sometimes, you are the one I always get right. You get me and I get you. You are the only key that can unlock my doors. You see what others don’t see on me. I can be me when I am with you. You hear what I say even before I speak. No matter how I hide you always find me. You have been with me through thick and thin. The pains and joys of life are more palatable because you are by my side. You let me shine and step back when I fall because you cushion the impact with your presence. You only want me to live free. I would never have carried out many crazy ideas if you did not believe so strongly in me. You are the most silent friend I have who speaks volumes with the depth of your patience. I envy you because you are everything I wish I could be. You have all the beauty I could only dream of. You are annoyingly handsome with the most irritatingly long eyelashes. You are as crazy as Otito was. Ever quiet and regarding people. You will never be as sweet though because you are now old meat! But you are my love. I tell you always but today I want to celebrate you. You know I hate making public declarations of my love for you but life has become so uncertain that the much we express about those we love when we feel can may be all we can give. It makes no sense writing eulogies for dead people who would never read them. I want to celebrate you because it’s important that you hear and know you are loved while you can. God bless you my darling….. Thank you Thank you for reading. You may also like to read other articles like this. They can be found here. Photo Credit: Selfie

For you… love.

It was magical to be able to visit the hospital again since my boy answered his call… The members of staff were as warm and welcoming as always. To me they are family and it was an absolute joy to visit them again. A whole lot had changed on the ward since the whole year that I lived there. For starters, the corridors had been given a new lease of life with a paint splash. Everywhere looked brand-new. Also some of the staff had moved on from the ward and new ones had replaced them. It was really nice to see some old faces who knew Otito again. I spent nearly an hour saying hello’s and catching up with all my hospital friends, medical staff, support staff, canteen, social workers etc. It was so uplifting. In fact, it was a strengthening experience from a grief point of view. As I walk along the corridors, I still experienced magical feelings of the memory laden foot- steps I took down the hallways. Every nook and cranny reminded me of my boy but not in a sad way. My brain was forgetting the pain that those memories once conjured. I could gradually feel my memories metamorphose from pain to fondness. It was nice to remember my boy again through the faces of the familiar staff that surrounded me on that visit. It was magical to remember him on the corridors and in his favourite places around the hospital. As I walked through the streets, I remembered him on the sidewalks, the gardens and I even attempted to look through my eyes “then”. It was incredible how in those precious moments with my son, we were both carving Indelible memories for me to hold and treasure as I was doing and hoping to always do during my visits to  the Great Ormond Street Hospital -GOSH. I knew that in time I would move on from the hospital life but it was nice to be able to enjoy and treasure those moments for as long as they lasted.  I could not see everyone but it was not surprising considering that I did not stay too long. GOSH would always be home for me because as long as the walls stood, my memories will always come to life when I walk through those great big sliding doors. So the Peter Pan magic was real for me today. Like a child I still believe in it. My boy is now flying high in a place where he would never grow old. I remain eternally grateful to all the wonderful people behind those walls at GOSH for giving me those 4 special years to share with my boy! Thank you for reading. You may also like to read other articles like this. They can be found here. Photo credit: Pixabay.

The Peter-pan Magic! – My visit to GOSH

Today I wanted to tell you about an event I attended. It was in support of  the  Learning Disability (LD)Week 2017. I was privileged to be invited to sit on a panel alongside Experts and parents to share our lived experiences in order to help health professionals appreciate the impact of the care they provide through our own eyes. It was a fantastic day at Great Ormond street Hospital London. The heat was less, allowing us to have an enjoyable session. It always feels great to come home to GOSH! Mencap– the voice of learning disability in the U.K. Supported us and it was a fantastic and empowering event to have been a part of. The need for LD nurses on the NHS cannot be over emphasised. We talked about the huge difference staff could make in transforming care for children and the families of children who walk through the hospital doors. We revealed how important it was to have someone who understand the needs of the children. Nurses in their role could also mediate on behalf of the children when their voices could not be heard as result of their Learning Disabilities. Learning disabilities limit the ability of sufferers to understand and learn. It made them appreciate things slowly but not impossibly. Parents talked about the impact of a “smile” from the staff. It helped foster the always values of the hospital. It made them feel more welcome and made an absolute difference to stressful outpatient appointments. Patient said they wished they could be acknowledged more and included when decisions about them were being made. Breaking down communication by using simpler language helps patients with learning disabilities feel included. Non-verbal does not mean that a child or young person cannot understand. Body language and tone of voice hold a strong an essential key to communicating with them. They can help non verbal children warm up! We also discussed about the difference a little patience and empathy can make in the lives of patients and their families.  It was nice to hear feedback from health professionals about the our challenges with dealing with children with learning disabilities. Notable among the feedback we received was how the “Patient passports” that provide more detailed and specific information were found to also fuel the anxiety of staff in delivering the care. Worrying about getting things wrong with these children compromised the confidence of some staff. It was reassuring for them to hear from parents how much it meant to see staff go above and beyond for their children despite their inner misgivings.  Parents were acknowledged as experts with their children by the Health Care Professionals but ultimately, the general consensus was for there to be a partnership between all parties with the child always at the centre of the decisions. This was in line with the GOSH  slogan The Child first and always. The event closed at 4pm and we all felt richer and more informed. Chapter 18 of the book “Through our eyes: what parents want for their children from health professionals” written by Jim Blair and Parents was the basis for our meeting. Jim Blair is a Consultant nurse in Learning disabilities and an Associate professor. Mary Busk, Hayley Goleniowska (Author of down side up), Simon Hawtrey-Woore, Sue Morris, Yvonne Newbold (Author of Special Parents Handbook) and Stephanie Nimmo were all contributors to the book and Experts by Parental Experience.  Photo Credit: Pixabay                 EVALUATION AND FEEDBACK FROM STAFF AFTER THE EVENT Through OUR eyes what people with learning disabilities and parents want from health professionals   The majority of staff were nurses or HCA’s others were doctors, play therapists or from facilities environment design department    How well do you feel the learning outcomes were met today? ‘Very well, much more informative than expected’ ‘The session fully met my expectations’ ‘I don’t know what the learning outcomes were’ ‘I think the session was very important. I feel I can take away new skills and knowledge and use them in my practice.’ ‘x4 Very well’ ‘Beyond expectations.’ ‘V good.’ ‘No outcomes given at start’ ‘Very well, met my learning outcomes.’ ‘ They were met well. A lot of discussion that prompted other topics to discuss.’ ‘The session has been very usful. It has provided me with the knowledge and the experts experiences was interesting.’ ‘A good start, foundation to find out more. Good patient / carer interaction., More.’ ‘Quite well, very out patient based, maybe some more ideas of facilitate nurses and teams on ward area.’ ‘A really interesting discussion and insightful to hear parent experiences.’ ‘I feel the outcome has been met and even several spots have been touched on. I belive understanding, acknowledging, confidence have been the key aspects.’   How will today’s session improve your practice? ‘To not be afraid and be more confident when dealing with patients with disabilities’ ‘I will consider the specific needs of the LD community in the design of departments’ ‘Might consider exploring idea of artist led training sessions for clinical staff around LD’ ‘it helped me to understand the concerns the people with ld have’ ‘By talking what the parent and patient needs from listening. Listening to listen not listening to speak and by working in partnership with them’ ‘x2 Greatly.’ ‘Increased awareness of specific accommodations that can be made for people with learning disabilities.’ ‘it will help me understand the struggle, stigma and fight the patient and families may have been through and how to approach and respond to them. It also has taught me not to be afraid or fear them but to smile and be confident when dealing with a child who has a learning disabilities.’ ‘See, say hello and smile.’ ‘It will make me more aware of how I communicate with patients an dtheir family. As well as how I offer care.’ ‘By treating all patients with LD the same way but ensuring communicating in the way they need to be […]

Learning Disability Week 2017 at Great Ormond Street Hospital

If you knew that you had a shorter time will you do things differently? Life can sometimes be like a football match. Not that we are all football fans but anyone who has seen a football match will agree that it can seem very life-like sometimes. Teams, usually 2 in number, get themselves set for a game with one purpose in mind: Winning! It is funny how both sides keep hoping to win while knowing that not more than one side will actually win. Even when beset with challenges and odds stacked for or against either side, their optimism does not diminish. The mix of events that occur throughout the match are as unpredictable as life itself. They are filled with ups and downs and not forgetting good or bad luck despite the quality of play executed by the teams. What this means in effect is that a deserving side can win based on their skill sets or  sometimes lose based on the mood of “mother luck”. How many times have we thought that a team had the winning ticket only for them to lose at the last minute swinging the victory to the less deserving side despite all their prowess? One other resemblance that a football match can have with life is the way the teams struggle and give the best when the the game is nearly over. This is very interesting considering the teams had all the time in the world to pull out their miracle winning trick. One wonders why most times, teams leave their best performance till late. It is said that we should save the best for the last but in football terms it seems foolish! If the last minute frantic performance put up by the struggling teams begin slightly earlier, they would not have to struggle so much. We all do this too…. We live like we would exist for ever. Procrastinating and shuffling through life. Wasting away valuable time… Time that we can spend more preciously… …Wisely… As soon as we see a date in sight… death! We gasp and begin to appreciate how much more we could have done with the time we had. Sickness, disease or a health scare can jolt our reality into focus. We become more aware of the fleetingness of life. Bucket lists become moulded to fit in all the “important” stuff. At that cliff edge of life when we are about to slip away we see clearly what is really important, Items spring into our bucket list and like our lives, the buckets lack the depth to contain all we truly desire to achieve. Life us simply too short even for those standing far from that cliff edge only they do not realise it. Just because you are healthy and not being given the sad news of impending death does not mean you are really safe from it. The only ones given the gift of finally appreciating life are those who can sniff the end drawing closer. In essence, when life is nearly over, it becomes clearer what enjoying life really means. We begin to try to make up for lost time. Suddenly life begins to be lived to the fullest. Interestingly, those clutching at the last ticks of life begin to be the ones who know how to enjoy life. They know how not to waste precious moments. Sadly, the moments become so precious because there becomes an actual struggle to fit every single activity into the short time left. It doesn’t have to be that way…. So I wonder …. What if you and I who are not in a position to feel that our time is running out began to be more conscious of the unpredictable nature of life…fleeting life? Would we do things differently? If so, it may be necessary to rethink how we are currently spending every moment of our lives…. We can make a conscious effort never to lose sight of the fact that life is too short. We are all closer to the end than we realise. Sometimes, our loved ones slip away and leave us wishing we had spent more time caring for them. Sometimes our circumstances change and we move far away rendering many chapters we currently ignore or take for granted closed. We can take advantage of every moment we have by living life to the fullest…. Live life to the fullest because no one knows the day or the hour they will go. We all may go in different ways. Death is only one way. Relocation, heartbreak, separation, divorce, ideological differences, work transfer, dream pursuits and so on. Suddenly the time we have to spend with our loved ones becomes scarce. Just because we sit around the table with our families today does not mean the headcounts will be complete next week! … Life happens… So why not savour  every present moment? Stop leaving till tomorrow what you can accomplish today. Delay can be dangerous. If you have friends, hang out! If you have family, spend more time together! Some of the most fun things you can share with family and friends  are free. The gift of your time will not even cost a dime! It does not matter how much you spend when you are with your loved one. What matters is the quality of the connection you achieve with that person in the time you share together. A fortune spent on a gift will only matter if a connection is made. You can also make the same connection if you spend time together. Let the acquisition of material wealth for presents not hinder the quality time that can otherwise be shared with loved ones. It may mean nothing if the time you share together does not translate into happiness for you both. Is there an activity you have always wished to perform? Why not stop putting it off ? Stop over analysing it and just do it! You may not have the time you have […]

What will you do when the time is up!

My son Otito was born with a metabolic condition called Propionic Acidaemia. This condition sadly compromised his body’s ability to breakdown proteins. The implication of this was that he suffered with lots of metabolic decompensations and his body easily built up toxins called Ammonia in his blood. As a result of this degenerative condition, he was developmentally behind for his age.  His social and communication skills where severely impaired and he mostly existed in a world of his own. As a result, he was subsequently diagnosed with severe autism and learning disabilities. It was a huge shock to me as his mother to accept that my son would be different from other children. I took steps to overcome this feeling by getting as much information as I could once the diagnosis was made. His consultant at the time was very kind and eager to explain the condition to me. Before long, I understood most of the implications of the condition for my child. I also learnt about ways to spot the early signs of a metabolic crisis. Sadly, detecting the early signs did not prevent the metabolic crises that he characteristically suffered. The rate at which they occurred meant that he became a very unstable child. He became frequently hospitalised to keep him safe. Unfortunately, that also meant that he spent more time in hospital than we all would have hoped. By his 3rd  year of life, he suffered  a further complication of his condition with chronic pancreatitis and became hospitalised for one year to keep him safe. During his admission, we encountered many Health Care Professionals (HCPs). These were made up of medical staff functioning in different capacities and across various disciplines within the hospital.. While they all had the sole purpose of delivering excellent healthcare to our son, it was hard to get them to understand the care he needed because his level of development impaired his ability to express these needs appropriately. As his mother, I was also his advocate. I sprang to his defence like a mother hen every time his needs were missed. It was difficult to get the staff to listen. His inability to communicate left him non-verbal. He was also unable to express his emotions appropriately. For example, his expression of pain was not by crying or screaming as characteristically normal for most children. Instead, he became more quiet, withdrawn, less mobile and inactive. This pain response was mainly interpreted as being calm but not in pain. He was also very sensitive to being touched or held. During pain episodes, this touch sensitivity always became worse. His only position of comfort was always one where he could lie curled in a foetal position. He tended to pull in his limbs and stayed in the corner of the bed grinding his teeth. It was heart breaking to see him suffer at a time when he was closest to care. I cried for him every time he pulled away. I cried for the pain he could not express. I wished more than ever that he could do the same. I could not even communicate that to him. It was a helpless situation to be in as a mother. I could not pick him up to cuddle him or comfort him either as he could not tolerate such interactions as a result of being autistic. When the pain team got involved, I was a bit hopeful. However, his scores were low on their charts. The pain charts recorded higher scores for pain based on normal responses. For example screaming, being irritable and displaying active movements especially kicking to show pain was ranked highly. Incidentally, the pain endured by most pancreatitis sufferers I had met where always likened to excruciating labour pains experienced during childbirth. It was no wonder that the HCPs only disagreed with me every time I suggested that he was having yet another bout of the pancreatitis pain cycle. They could not justify the need to give the level of pain relief I was requesting since the pain scores they charted did not support my claim However, given his status as a severely autistic child with learning disabilities it was really not far-fetched. Their lack of experience with this type of autism that could lead to such pain responses in children meant that my son was unintentionally left to suffer. I knew I had to seek help for my son but had no idea how. As time went by my son became very withdrawn. While what the health professionals saw was more of a quiet boy, what I saw was less of my child and more of a chronic patient. To them his quietness was only a confirmation that he was after all unwell. We kept hitting brick walls at every corner trying to get him the help he needed in those first few months when he was admitted. It was while out on a walk along the hospital corridor one day that I made a discovery that changed the course of my son’s care for the better. After one of my routine arguments about the need to administer more pain relief for my son, I needed a change of scenery. That was when I accidentally stumbled across a leaflet hanging casually from a rack on the wall. It revealed the information about the existence of an expert in the hospital called Jim Blair who specialised in supporting families who had children with learning disabilities (LD). He happened to be a consultant and lead nurse in this area. Surprisingly and in the most unceremonious fashion, help finally arrived when I least expected it! Jim was very helpful and approachable. I was able to discuss my concerns easily with him. It was relieving to find someone-a health professional who finally understood my son’s plight. He simply got it! The pain responses that I described to him were anything but alien. In fact he said it was quite common with children who had the level of […]

Hospital life : Getting health care right in hospitals for people with complex health needs and intellectual disability

Sometimes you cannot really predict what lies around the corner. I know it is one of those cliche’s but honestly, I literally appreciated the meaning of that statement when I stepped into the corner from the hospital today. I was just taking a stroll to clear my head when I noticed a beehive of activities brewing in the center square. Queen’s square is around the corner from the Great Ormond Street hospital and this Saturday  there was a fair. The organizers were not leaving anything to chance. They had set up the fair rather quickly. It seemed to have sprung up from out of the blues. Endless tables clustered the square. On them were so many different wares all displayed in order to sell for charity. Lovely trinkets, bangles, beads and fancy jewelries drew my attention. I do love a bit of bling.There were books, bric-a-brac and all sort of things. Some tables looked like someone’s house had been emptied out for the auction! Children ran around gaily and the face painting stand had a queue forming rapidly. There were some OAP’s{ Old Aged People} practicing their singing while others seemed to be dancing. Some people sat on the chairs while some tables at the end of the square had home-made food. The lovely smell of pastry filled the air and an interesting looking man in a red hat shook a tiny bell fiercely in his hands screaming out the next activity about to occur in the church nearby. Ding ding ding  rang his bell…. ” The ballet will be starting in five minutes” he said a bit inaudibly. I could hardly make out what he said in the din. As I stood by in the corner taking it all in, I heard a guitar being strummed. It blared through the public address system and I made my way towards the stage. The stage stood cleverly at the center of the fair. As the man strummed his guitar, suddenly a lovely dancing tune was created by his band and they all sang and played. Soon some people formed a circle before the band. It was really a happy atmosphere and so I let myself go. I let the music take me like a lover wooing his beau and in no time I responded by joining the dance. It was as fun as it was groovy! Happiness like the one I beheld on the day was contagious…. There was laughter everywhere. It did not matter what emotional baggage or problems we all had. In that moment, we were happy and that was all that mattered. So this time, something good lay around the corner from the hospital. For once it was not any bad news or event but a good piece of fun and enjoyment and the best part was that it was free!!! This piece was written as a thank you to Mary ward center who were the organisers of the Queen’s square fair. It was really fun and you made people happy that day. Many thanks to you also for reading. You may also like to read other articles like this. They can be found here. Photo credit: Pixabay.  

The Fair at Queen’s Square

Feminism should not create the yardstick by which women should express themselves. It should not make rules or tell women how to be female. It should create a platform to enable women showcase and express their diverse natures and features as women Don’t get me wrong, fashion and style are not bad in themselves. Women by their nature love to be beautifully adorned, glamorous and attractive. It gives them the boost they need when the situation warrants it. It helps them rise to the “occasion”. However, most of these adornments and practices are not natural. Many are man-made. Something that is not natural can be good for short-term, occasional use but surely not long-term daily use. That said, another concern is the risk they may impose on a woman’s mental view about herself. By adorning this fashion and styles too regularly, sometimes, the view of the person regarding their self image starts to become distorted. A new 3D image becomes projected daily through enhancements, styles and various beauty regimes until but the woman in question as well as her onlookers start to forget the original less fantastic image of the woman. It then gets to a point where the woman rejects herself, her real image… in the mirror. This problem creeps in gradually until even the woman begins to want this image to be painted on as soon as she opens her eyes to the world. Feminism means women are now free to express themselves in any way they choose. For those in the media as well as the so-called icons of feminism who project only perfect images for others to copy I ask is this truly feminism? Should feminism not also include ways to help women accept who they are? A little touch up here and there might be okay but surely a complete metamorphosis (to the extent that an un-adorned “self” becomes unrecognisable) cannot be healthy. That’s not to mention the constant blow taken by the female skin from the endless array of products which leave the woman in a vicious cycle of perfection. This is on the other hand to the delight of the capitalist who sells enough products to feed various stages in the cycle depending on the aspect of perfection or enhancement the woman chooses to fixate on. Make up, hair, skin, weight-loss, diets etc. Nobody is perfect…. At this juncture, a rather dissimilar analogy comes to mind and so, i digress but with good reason. Bad music…. I remember the case of bad music as a child. A particular song would be released by the media. The popular opinion about that song would be that it was more of a joke than a song. The initial response would be of disdain and apathy towards everything that made up the musical piece. However in no time, as the radio station carried on playing the “joke song” regardless, the opinions about the song would begin to change. Not to appoint a love but mostly to a point of tolerance. After months of airplay people although acknowledging the imperfections of the “joke song”, would begin to hear other aspects, elements and less obvious sounds in the song until it became palatable. In no time, a point would be reached when people would find themselves chanting the song. As ridiculous as this was, It was all because they became used to hearing the song. Now back to my argument…. Perhaps beauty, fashion and feminism can be treated this way. Women must not only be able to express their feminism in the way they like, but must also be empowered to resist the pressure of conforming with any set rules for female expression. Perhaps if women continue to constantly project and impose their real selves on the world and stopped succumbing to the idea of picture-perfectedness, like the music on the radio in our earlier analogy, they will become accepted for who they are. Maybe if women did not curl away at the slightest criticism of the imperfection, they will be taken more seriously. It is fair to say that people will only take us as seriously as we take ourselves. We all have to learn that completely and constant acceptability is not real. Nobody is perfect…. Not really. People tend to project aspects of themselves that are appealing to others. Nobody puts their bad foot in front first at least not knowingly. Neither the people dry their dirty linen in public. People hardly go for interviews showcasing their weaknesses while leaving the strengths at home. Therefore we are all flawed by our imperfections and made unique because they exist. If we choose to only focus on what we lack in our beauty, body, wardrobe, then we lose sight of the bigger picture. In the same way you are not only your face or your hair or your shape or your belly as you may want to believe. You are a complete package. You are a person…a woman. Be the self that makes and keeps you happy. Do not join the team natural (who do not adorn or beautify themselves even for special occasions) if you don’t want to. Stay on the team you want because you want to and not because you have been forced to by the media, people or even your demands on yourself. Remember, the real people who love you will do so unconditionally. So stay true to yourself. Thank you for reading If you enjoyed reading this article there are many others like it on this website. You can find them here. Photo credit: Pixabay

Should we all really be Feminists? (Stay true to the woman within) Part 2

Looking ahead can be impossible when you loose someone you love. I welcome you to unite your heart with mine today. We lose the ones we love in different ways. Some fall out of love with us, some abandon us and some unfortunately…die. Of all the losses, death stings the hardest because with death comes a finality. In death lies the impossibly of a reunion with the loved one at least not in this world. However, in death lies freedom. Freedom from all the limitations that life can bring. Limitations of suffering, poverty, distance , time and even … sickness. Death can conjur sad memories… only if you let it. We all experience our thoughts. If you think about something hard enough, you will feel it soon enough. When we lose someone we love, let us be comforted by the life we once shared with them. Let us experience the thoughts about the good times, the happy times, the laughter, the gains, the milestones. This is an important gift from them to us.The privilege of sharing in their joys and sufferings can not be taken away by death. Therefore no matter how death chooses to come, let us experience those thoughts. Let us realise that death is the ultimate end to the journey of all life. There are no timescales. When it’s time, it’s time. Sometimes it feels too short in our eyes but it is long enough for the deceased. “Fulfilment is not found in the number of days lived. It is found in the unquenchable joy that fills each day. Life may be short but the joy that fills each moment makes it perfect!”… Let us allow those feelings take their roots in our heart. The more you think it, the more you believe it. Let us forget the if’s, why’s and but’s that bring tears and focus on the gratitude of being part of the story of what was once the life of the one that once shared our lives. I love you all very dearly and I thank you for supporting us through this most difficult time. So I ask you “Is there any one you have lost to distance, heartbreak or quarrel?” You have the chance today to make your peace with them and be part of their story again. Don’t leave it till too late you never know what lies around the corner. Make that call you if have the time today!   Thank you for reading. Photo credit: Pixabay. You can watch the video by clicking below. Cheers

Death at my door (D.A.M.D) Part 7 Looking ahead after a loss…stay strong!

I cannot really understand what it is that some women mean when they claim to promote feminism. They base such feminist ideas on things that do anything but enable the budding female embrace her femininity. You see, unlike most females, I am personally not shaped like a bottle in figure 8. I am not the most beautiful among the bunch neither am I the fanciest. What I am is anything but perfect but then “I am me!” Just me… Should feminism encourage me to disassociate from my true self? Should it force me to disengage with the reality of the “me”I see when I stand in all my glory before a chival mirror? Should feminism make me want to begin to adopt and imbibe styles to enable me conform with the ideology of “what a woman should look like?”  To begin to look more “feminine” as some thinkers propose? Why can each female not be seen individually and celebrated without comparison? Why should much of the feminist ideologies be centred around the utopian idea of whom and what a woman should look like? Age is one thing that is seldom kind to the female species. Yet even with the foreknowledge of this never-ending disagreement between age and womankind, females still always engage in a constant battle to defy and conquer age but to no avail. The female anatomy with the passage of time finds itself mercilessly dealt with at the hands of good old age. From the sound of the whistle blowing at puberty, the body of the female begins to transform. Breasts sprout tenderly like succulent cherries while the hips and bellies curve and flatten out respectively- although not for all. Next comes the blow dealt at childbearing females who in time begin to lose the battle slowly and mostly surely. The one-time Cherry Blossom breasts begin to look down south. The flat bellies sag after doing their childbearing duties. The roundness spreads from the hips to other areas of the body. This is a sign of womanhood- femininity, once upheld and celebrated by our grand and great grandmothers. Now some feminist ideologies want to make us see these inevitable occurrences as problems. Capitalists sell the “need” for transformation and perpetual agelessness to these group of women as the final stamp/seal of approval. They make it look like every woman has to stay “pubertised” for ever. Icons of so-called feminism parade naked to show their love for the bodies and unknowingly teach our budding girls to devalue the most intricate core of femininity- nudity. Many feminists are pressured into dressing and appearing in particular ways, eating foods and making all forms of fashion statements as though deviating would be a crime. Tell me how many women like their faces in the morning? How many love their bellies and bottoms as they are? Many real-life women now spend all their psychological strength on products and lifestyle choices that are designed by the capitalists to keep them coming back for more. Ultimately enriching these merchants and seldom delivering on their body transformation promises. When will we learn as women to love ourselves as we are and stop worrying about how others view us? If a person would ignore everything about you… The full package that is you and micro analyse your face, your shape, your smile, your dress sense and so on as the basis for forming an impression about you then perhaps that person is the one with the problem not you. As much as there are things out there that enhance our looks and some might argue “self esteem” we wonder how sustainable that esteem will be in the end if it depends solely on external praise and conformity. Perhaps we need to work on ourselves more and believe in ourselves more so that other people can take us more seriously. Real females need to accept themselves for who they are. Nobody is perfect and the quest for perfection is usually futile. You can attain it, but only temporarily, the real you still resides with you and at the end of the day, it is a reality you have to still confront. One of the more difficult sexes to exist as is female because of the demands imposed on them by everyone even including women. Worse still, the highest pressure on a female comes from within the female herself. They tend to expect too much from themselves by wanting their bodies to do too much and this puts pressure on them. For example it takes nine months of pregnancy to pile up weight on most women, yet they expect to lose it in five minutes. While many magic methods to attain this are advertised, in reality, different women may or may not achieve this especially in that short time. Women are exposed to different circumstances, eating and sleeping patterns, metabolisms, geographies etc. All these play their roles in determining the success of failure of the weight loss project. Yet a typical woman will still pressure herself and asked too much of her body. To be continued… Thank you for reading If you enjoyed reading this article there are many others like it on this website. You can find them here. Photo credit: Pixabay                      

Should we all really be Feminists? (Stay true to the woman within) Part 1

Today in the house we had the privilege of receiving this message from one of you. He is very popular for his emotional write ups here at WHHQ. He is simply known as Ezimen. Well he shared a tip that we feel can help us deal with one of the most popularly unresolved feelings we experience quite frequently as individuals- anger. Anger can be triggered in nearly all types of relationships. It can lead to breakups whether justified or not. When I asked him what his best tip for anger management was he said “communication”. In his own words “Communication is very important and it’s the only way to manage anger without committing a sin”. I also asked him about how one can break the communication barrier when emotions are very high. Interestingly his response was “by writing”. “A simple note, text or write up can soothe an angry person”. Words have the power of healing and mending things once applied correctly. The media used to express words does not diminish its restorative ability. By words, we can properly communicate our otherwise misunderstood feelings. It doesn’t matter if the words come through your voice, pen or fingers (via texting). Below is a sample of one of such heartfelt apologies as written by Ezimen himself: I did not deal with my anger properly, I was sulking instead of dealing with my anger about what happened. I let my pride get in the way. Normally, I would have managed the situation better but I allowed myself dwell on the feeling. It spiralled out of control. Since we are bound to hurt each other from time to time perhaps next time we can agree on how best to deal with situations like these. We spoke yesterday and apologised to each other – I like that. We can build on that and try not to hold things against each other. I was sulking and I know you didn’t like that. I was hurt because of my pride and anger. So can we talk about things that we disagree on when we feel less angry? I apologise – do forgive. Thank you Ezimen for your advice. Thanks also for stopping by. Here at Whispering Hope we are committed to supporting aspiring writers. If you also have something you will like to express then do contact us. Have a lovely day guys! Thanks for reading You may also like others from this series About the author : Ezimen is a professional in the daytime. He loves writing, travelling and having fun! Do you know that you can now submit a post like this? To find out how, click here. Perhaps you fancy reading from others in the community? Find other articles here. Thank you Photo credit : Pixabay

You can write to say sorry… By Ezimen

Him: It kills me to write this to you but I have to be in touch with reality. The truth is, affections are mostly never enough for a healthy relationship. We have to constantly work to build what people may perceive as a perfect relationship. Ours is one that is drifting at the moment like a floater on water. I can’t start to explain how difficult it is for me to not see you as often I want to and I know you feel that way too. While I admit that I am a sucker for attention,  I also want to dote and cater to your every need. The way our relationship is currently going, I can’t share your excitements and disappointments on a daily basis. Sadly, there is only so much technology can. I will not blame you if you think I am giving up on us before really trying. However, you will agree with me that we are both at phases in our lives that cannot be uprooted and changed completely. How can I ask you to leave your current identity just to be in the same city as me? This is particularly difficult because we have history … beautiful history. I am taking a closer look at our relationship and feel that I have to be as practical and fair as I am emotional. That is because I respect you too much to give a half effort at this. Instead, I am asking that we build a friendship that would transcend time and space to enable us get settled with the new roles in our individual lives. We must do this without dragging all the uncertainty that characterises our relationship into this narrative. Trust me when I say that I know how you will feel after reading this. I feel that letting it go on for too long would only cause both of us more pain. I have and would always be crazy about you. I am now left with the dream about how actually spending my waking moments with you would have been. I am now only left with memories of how I used to actually share my fears with you,  goof around with you and just be with you as I know how to. I have so much yet to do in my life and it would be unfair to ask you to stand by my side all through considering the place I am right now in my life. I am battling to convince myself that I am capable of achieving my every dream. I don’t want to lose you, yet I know I have to let you go so that  you can find true happiness with someone who would recognise all he has been searching for in you. You deserve a place in the heart of a man that would live his life with a sole purpose of giving you the best always. You deserve to be treated like a queen, loved like a sister and cherished like a treasure.   Her: The fact that you conceived the idea of having me fulfil another man’s desires makes me wonder if you truly treasure me as you say. You have left me shattered into a million pieces with your words. I will break along with my heart if you let me go. There will not really be any reason to carry on aspiring and trying to be all you think I desire to be if you are not here right next to me to share it with. I dream because you dreamt first. I aspire because you showed me the way. You have been my hero since you became mine and so I have allowed myself take my lead from you. What makes you believe that the answer to the question that has not been pronounced is no. The worst judgement a man can face is one for which he was never allowed to stand accused. It would have been my decision and not yours if ever it was brought to my knowledge. You have not asked and so you cannot be sure about how I will answer. Each word of your letter although heartfelt stabbed me as I blinked away tears. The tears were not because of your rejection but of the fact that you belittled what we have. Is our love so weak that it cannot withstand the storm? Is our ambition so strong that we will forgo the love we share? What will be the use if we become all we ever want to be without the very other half to share it with. I will rather a million years in your arms than a million dollars in my account. I will rather take the fall than to be a thousand miles apart from you. I grieve the love we shared because I too have begun to wonder if it was real? That you can give up on our love because of all you want to be makes me wonder now where I truly reside on your scale of importance. It went without saying when you got transferred and progressed in your career that something had to give. At no point did I envisage that I was to be the sacrificial lamb for your success. How you can bear the thought that I would prefer to be with another makes me wonder what you think I meant when I told you that I loved you more than anything in the world. My bags were packed the moment your news came. I was going to surprise you with the news that I had been given the go ahead to set up shop in the town you now call home. As I read your letter today I was so broken that I unpacked my bag. The realisation that if it were I who had to relocate you would choose your career over me is a heavy blow that I cannot recover from easily. I am not sure I can undo my relocation to the place right next to you because it has now been signed and sealed. What I can tell you for nothing is that this […]

Letters for her…by Ezimen

Today on the D.A.M.D series, there is a bit of a twist I must say. Did you notice something different about the title today?  I omitted my usual “Musings of a grieving parent” caption. You did? Well done!!!  It is with good reason though. Today, the piece is about a grieving parent but not my muse. It is a poem sent in to me by a very special friend Agatha. I have know her for the type of short while that feels like ages. If you have ever met someone who fills your life with joy and the beauty of her intelligence, then you have a friend like the one I bagged in Agatha. She plaits words and has a distinct voice that pierces through her work. I find myself  feeling very excited every time I read from her. Special thanks to you her for this lovely poem. I am really touched by the words and the web of emotions that I continue to experience overtime I read it. She has a fantastic blog where she shares her special romance with the webs she alone can twist with words. Please make sure that you can check it out here. Its called Black girl wanderlust.  I hope you enjoy it too. The beauty of poetry is the way its meaning transcends all intention. Enjoy! Now. There is a boy-sized hole in her heart That is the twin of the child-sized pain sitting In the pit of her belly. In the pit of her belly Where he first resided before he was Where his sinews were joined with bone And flesh was wrapped around his awesomeness. Now it is an empty room Where the fire of his smile has gone out And the ghosts of his memories flit around in the shadow. II That slight quaver you hear in her voice – No, that is not the sound of shattering glass Nor the hint of quiet desperation as it seeps Through a tightly woven mask of placid acceptance This – this here is the sound of a willow; supple Swaying gently in buffeting winds Safe in the knowledge that though this river swelled, Swelled and burst its banks Though its raging waters lap at her roots like tongues of fire She will not be swept away. They hold firm, her roots; Buried deep in a nest of love   Thank you for reading. You may also like to read other articles like this. They can be found here. Photo Credit: Pixabay.

Death at my door D.A.M.D Part 6 A Poem – By Agatha (Poet and scholar)

  So here is this seemingly innocent dude. He believed in “love and living happily ever after”. Once in his life he found the one. Little did he know that he was about to be introduced into a world of heartbreak, deceit, lust and sex. In fairness to him, he kept striving to find the one as he had always pictured (oh yes… guys do that too!) but he kept giving love. Life kept taking from him and giving him nothing in return. A series of events had redefined this young lad and built him to be who he was- someone who had fallen out of love with LOVE. Here is strike one – Guy meets girl, and for the purpose of clarity we shall call the beautiful lady Sharon and the guy Zuchi. Sharon was a goddess; she was so pretty that it scared him. They both met at a matriculation event where he got introduced to her by his sister as her course mate. From that moment he could barely take his eyes off her. Zuchi made small talk and found out that she was also funny and smart. The day went on better than he had hoped. Sadly like every good thing that comes to an end, so did the day! He wondered if knowing Sharon should end with the day but decided against it. He realised that if he played his cards right, then it could be the start of something beautiful. Sharon began to make her way home. As she started to leave he reached for her hand. He looked down at her and asked if he could see her again. She said she was going to be busy over the next couple of weeks and so could not assure him of her availability. Well at least, it was not a no! Therefore, he settled for her number. The next couple of weeks and months were blissful. They spent most of the time talking and texting non-stop on the phone. He tried to arrange a proper date but that didn’t happen as quickly as he had hoped. School was in full swing and both parties got busy with their respective schedules.  One evening, Zuchi decided to find time to visit her at her hostel. That was the best decision. It became easier for them to see each other more often. They always met up after classes and just talked. At other times they took walks, sometimes they even ate together. They just enjoyed each other’s company. He got a little carried away with their arrangement thinking that all he needed to do was profess his love for her and she would be his forever. Luckily, he came up with a plan to tell her exactly how he felt about on Valentine’s Day. Zuchi got the perfect gift and headed to Sharon’s hostel to unburden his heart. He could finally get the woman he had always wanted to call his. When he got there he met two dudes already there to see her. Zuchi was surprised because he had informed Sharon the day before that he was coming to spend the day with her and she had agreed. He didn’t mind though as he acknowledged the guys’ presence. He went in to greet Sharon with a peck but she ducked and opted instead for a side hug. At that moment he began to reassess the scenario he had walked into. Zuchi kept telling himself that he was over analysing it all. He spent the next half hour trying to make conversation with her but she seemed to split her attention seamlessly amongst her three guests. After a while, Zuchi just decided to end the most awkward experience he had ever been in. He reached into his pocket brought out his gift and gave it to her. She collected it from him and smiled. She mouthed the words “happy Valentine’s  Day dear”,  and then Zuchi left. Zuchi left the room thinking and contemplating every second he had just spent in her hostel. He told himself that he would get another opportunity to tell her that he was in love with her. That night he decided to tell her everything. He couldn’t wait till the next time they were together. It was 9.59 pm when he left his room.  He headed straight to Sharon’s. All through the journey, he kept rehearsing his lines and trying make them as smooth as ever. In reality, he didn’t care too much about the delivery. All he hoped for was the courage to say all he had to say. He had held back his feelings every minute and every second he was with her. Zuchi got to Sharon’s door but hesitated for a second or two. He could hear Coldplay’s “In my place” playing lightly in the background. “Yes, the stars are aligning for this” he thought to himself. The mood was definitely right for him to pour his heart out to her. With a deep breath he knocked on the door. “oh!!!!!! Bimpe don’t come back here to ask for anything again”, Sharon barked. Bimpe was Sharon’s nosey neighbour who was always borrowing one thing or the other even up to food items. Sharon opened the door with a frown that quickly turned into shock as soon as she realised that it wasn’t Bimpe at the door. She looked straight at him and started shaking uncontrollably. He moved to hold the shaking arm with which she held the door. Zuchi was also trying to understand her reaction to seeing him. She looked like she had seen a ghost. He tried to go in but she didn’t move. She stood firm, blocking him with the door slightly open now as he held her arm. Zuchi then opened the door wide so he could hold her as she seemed like she was about to completely fall off balance. She was muttering stuff he couldn’t understand. In the dim light he could see a […]

Falling out of love…with love. By Ezimen

The Journey There are times I think to myself ‘will I ever be finished?’ I want and plan to do so many things, some I have accomplished others remain elusive yet I keep striving to be what I think I can be, where I think I ought to be. It is a constant battle convincing myself that I am making progress, somedays it is slow, sometimes no forward steps at all and I begin to question myself, am I expecting too much from myself? Are my goals unrealistic? Is it possible to achieve everything I have set out to do? Is success meant to determine my worth? Does one stop or keep pushing in the face of failure. These are a few of the concerns of the average person I on the other hand, have felt this way for a long time. During times of success, you ride high on the wave of self-accomplishment and expect every area of your life to at least be this successful and then one disappointment brings your world crashing down, back to the harsh reality that it is not always rosy. Life has its crazy way of halting you when you have a spring in your step on your way to conquer the world, when you are ahead and ready to make history by breaking already set standards. Life will make you acknowledge that you are not always in control, you can plan all you want, execute as ruthlessly as possible and yet your outcome can still fall short of 100 percent. This is not to say that you should give up rather you suck it up and continue striving to maintain and even surpass previous performances. Last year was one of those years, many projects started and some of them not turning out to be as successful as I had hoped. I felt down for a while but as always, I found a way to bounce back and keep working to improve results and to accomplish set out targets. The new year is here ripe with new opportunities, expectations, old and new projects to complete or begin. It would be advisable to hit the ground running but most importantly don’t start your year without a masterplan. Take time to reflect, see where you are now, appreciate your journey because that is the best way to look at it, ‘a journey’. See how far you have come and how much more effort is required to see you to the finish line. Here are some tips to improve your productivity this year; Stay focused, don’t let the noise in. it is a very noisy world we live in but you must be able to filter it all. Be in your own space always. choose your goal and break it down into smaller manageable tasks. Yes, you want to walk on the moon this year, it may seem daunting or even impossible but if you start chipping off at that massive rock little by little you would make a lot of progress eventually. monitor your progress regularly and adjust if necessary. Remember to be flexible in your approach. seek information everywhere you are, always strive to find something new that you didn’t know about. This is the only way you keep growing by learning as you go. If you apply these tips and the many more you can come up with, there is certainly no limit to what you can achieve this year and in the future. I am here, not where I was last year, not where I want to be yet but HERE and I would enjoy the journey and I am proud of my progress, you should be too. You may also like others from this series About the author : Ezimen is a professional in the daytime. He loves writing, travelling and having fun! Do you know that you can now submit a post like this? To find out how, click here. Perhaps you fancy reading from others in the community? Find other articles here. Thank you Photo credit : Pixabay

The Journey …by Ezimen

This series was created to share with our readers the thoughts and emotions of a grieving parent dealing with the monumental tragedy of losing a child. Enjoy! TOO SOON TO MOVE ON I woke up this morning feeling like I could take on the world…. However, somewhere along the line, as the day went along, I soon lost all my mojo, All I really wanted was to just have an early night. The problem though, was that it was just noon and nowhere near bedtime. That was how it felt sometimes… on days when I entered grieve mode. Personally, the weekends are the hardest for me. Weekends used to be the highlight of the week for my family until a few weeks ago when Fred decided it was time to begin his exit from this planet. It was the one time all the boys used be together. I remember fond memories with all of us in the little room that was Fred’s cubicle on the hospital ward. Fred, darling Fred… without a care in the world. Mark?  …he would attend the activity centre where he loved to play. Karl and I? …we mostly watched movies to pass the time. We later converged before the end of the day to take Fred on walks as soon as the nurses thought he could be taken out for the day. I honestly would not have done anything differently about our family time. It was so ordinary, yet so special. Now since he passed, the weekends have become quieter. No stressful trips to London. No looking for what to entertain the boys with. No changing diapers. No listening to Fred’s music for the umpteenth time….No stress! That is good right? Well, that was our normal, our routine and “our thing”. This new normal was something I had desired for so long and had given up on ever experiencing. This new normal feels strange without Fred in it. I still feel so apprehensive about settling back into normalcy. I feel like it’s too good to be true. I know that it isn’t and I am teaching myself to relax more. I am trying to unlearn having to wake up constantly to do Fred related chores- diapers, medicines, feeds, safety… I am trying to unlearn being on alert every minute. There are so many normal things that have become strange to me now, but… I am taking baby steps trying to learn to be normal again. Some friends have been asking me “what next?” …. As a matter of fact, make that … everyone asking me and being on my case! I know they mean well and I probably need the nudge but it feels so wrong to treat my Fred…my pain… like a chapter in a book that should be snapped shut. Well I don’t want to. I want to linger on…fiddling with that chapter. I know I shouldn’t but it seems so disloyal to let go and simply…move on as all propose. Did he mean so little that I should move on so easily?The ripples from the blow life dealt me when she decided in her infinite wisdom to let Fred slip away are still so profound that they are still spreading through my every vein… my every heartbeat… my every step. All I want is to savour and hold on to it for that bit longer because they are all I now have left… I know I should be thinking about what my next move should be in this new normal. However, somewhere in my head, I think it is too soon. It just seems so unfair after all the special times we shared with our son that we would just move on so easily and so quickly. I am trying to clutch at them. Sadly as much as I would like to stay melancholy, my brain is moving on faster than I would want it to. That too is a good thing as well right? I have found sleep to be my trusty companion. It helps get me well rested and more refreshed to take on each day. It is just that the weekends are so quiet…. I am going to talk to Karl about this today. I will find out if he is experiencing these emotions too. You never know. Do they not say a problem shared is halved? Perhaps we can find new ways to fill up the silence that is quickly filling up our weekends. The weather is getting warmer too, so perhaps we could even go out on our family walks again. Find new ground because I am not sure that we can possibly pick up from where we left off even if we tried. So if you are out there, trying to cope with the devastating loss of a loved one, I want you to know that we can all get through this! Thank you for reading

Death at my door D.A.M.D (Musings of a grieving parent) Part 5 – TOO SOON TO MOVE ON

This series was created to share with our readers the thoughts and emotions of a grieving parent dealing with the monumental tragedy of losing a child. Enjoy! THE SPRING CLEAN Our spring clean this year was long overdue and today we decided to start with a clean up of all our phones and devices. The main reason for this as the primary starting point was that unlike other areas that needed a proper clear-out in our lives- given the events of the last few weeks, our devices were the most volatile and dis-organised. We had many pictures and videos which had suddenly evolved from being mere captured moments to becoming treasured moments. The demise of our son two months earlier, meant that he stopped being captured in our moments from then on. Our devices unfortunately were subject to loss or damage. We had to hold on to every memory we could milk off them. There seemed to be a sense of urgency in carrying out the clear-out although I honestly could not tell why. Although having the memories stored in this way kept them to hand, they unfortunately also made us stumble into our son’s videos or pictures very suddenly. Such sudden appearances of his images were sometimes welcomed and comforting but at other times they were very upsetting depending on the state of mind we were in. It became necessary to keep them safe elsewhere. That way we could reach them when we felt readier to confront them. It also had another alluring advantage of freeing up the space in our devices thus creating room for us to capture even more memories as life sadly went on. Interestingly, something happened as we sorted through our devices. Our emotions swung into overdrive. What we did not bargain for were the surge of emotions that came flooding out as we sorted through each memory that each image or video we came across pulled into our consciousness. What started off as an innocent exercise began turning into a gruelling experience for us all. In no time we were in bits. We thought we were doing well and feeling strong emotionally since our loss or why else would we have felt courageous enough to begin this exercise? Each memory seemed to stick us right into a lane in our memories where we stood watching each event depicted by the capture photograph or video unfolding. We wished we recorded each event more or better still that we started the recording earlier. We filled in all the blanks in our minds as we relived each moment with our late son in those photographs. We confronted the foolishness in the dreams we revisited as we remembered nursing them when those images were captured. Would that we could have known what lay just a few years, months, weeks or even days ahead from when we took those snapshots! Our  activity today made me feel like a child pulling at scabs, fascinated by their appearance and yet not knowing the pain that lay ahead after pulling sweetly at it. The allure of curiosity overshadowing all common sense. I wondered if there was even any wisdom in capturing so many images as one walked through life. I questioned the sense in storing them. I missed the power of depending on only the mind to recall memories as was quite customary before all this technology. A time when memories in our hearts faded away with the passage of time until they lost their potency as painful reminders and reduced to just a dull ache. I toyed with the idea of deleting them all but I knew better than to make any decisions while overcome with emotion. As we all tried to get through each last image, I could see us all crumbling but pulling each other along as we talked through the different emotions we were going through. My little strong son Mark said he wished his late brother Fred could visit us sometimes. He made this painful wish in his usual innocent way. My broken heart ground to a pulp as I explained the impossibility of his simple request. He claimed to understand as he sat on my lap in silence while we all put each memory away in the file we had opened in the removable hard drive. With the last one done for the day, we heaved a sigh of relief. The dull absence of the sunshine to warm our hearts clouded up what was left of our day not only in the literal sense but in every way. Afterwards, we switched on some happier songs on the sound system to tune us out of the emotions we had just unexpectedly confronted, I saw again how we began to brighten up even without any sunshine in sight. The torch of hope was kindled again as we swayed to the beats. We knew the importance of letting life go on. One foot in front of the other, one day at a time would mean that surely one day soon the memories would not hurt so badly. We had to trust as we always did that there was nothing without reason. Our boy Fred was safe in the place where not even the pain of his disease could ever get him. So here I am standing between the isles in a shop where I came to as an excuse to get some air. I am staring blankly and wondering if I would ever open that hard drive ever again? I know I am as curious as a cat and won’t resist but that will have to be sometime in the future when I too feel far away from today, far away from the pain, far away from the emotional drain…. Thank you for your time. Hope you can join me again next time! Just so you know, there was Part 3 last week. Click here to catch up. You may also like to read other articles like this. They can […]

Death at my door D.A.M.D (Musings of a grieving parent) Part 4 – THE SPRING CLEAN

GETTING HELP – A RIGHT OR A PRIVILEGE? One of the weird things in life is the realisation that you are on your own. You see, it’s not that there are no systems in place to support people in distress and in great need. One must never lose sight of the fact that whatever situation you find yourself the problem remains YOURS. When you are not in difficulty, you find so many people pledging their undying support for you through thick and thin. At times for some who are lucky, they do get the support they need. But for others, they only get some help, no help or useless help (in essence ,not the kind of help they need!). In less developed societies people grow up with the realisation that help may not be around the corner. It is imprinted and stamped into their thinking faculty. There are no assumptions. Most people grow up with so much political and economical instability that survival of the fittest becomes the order of the day. However, in advanced societies especially here in the UK, most people grow up with the knowledge that help is always around the corner. People will help, the system will help and government even factors “help” into their plans. These helpful plans are not only made but also implemented. With all this culture of assistance, some many believe that being helped is their right and that their problems should be shared with everyone else. To them it becomes a crime if this help is not forthcoming or existent. Arguments exist about this subject matter and rightly so for various reasons. I want us to focus on the fact that whether we get help or not the difficulties we face in life remain OURS. Armed with this realisation sometimes, we can cope better with these hard times. We learn to cope in an I-have-to-come-out-stronger kind of way. Sometimes accepting the situation helps us to be better equipped especially psychologically to deal with them. It makes us more prepared to ask the right questions about our situation. Thereby leading us to solutions and strategies to help us live with or manage during the hard times. So while we may be going through a rough patch now we still have to find a way to carry on. No one can suggest or advise on how to find the best way through any challenge. However, we cannot go wrong by taking things one minute at a time, one hour at a time and one day at a time until we get to a point where we can look back and see how far we have come from the challenge. People around us can only help us temporarily or a bit long-term by setting things in motion to provide support. Unfortunately that’s all they can do. The buck still stops with us. We are still the ones who have to live with our circumstances. We have to find ways to pull ourselves up every day, forge ahead, take one small decision at a time. We also have to make sensible choices within the limits imposed on us by our circumstances. At times it is not feasible to get all the help we need. The system is not always able to provide all the support that will wipe away our difficulties. This occurs when the problems we face are either too enormous or a bit unclear. It is not still a reason to lose hope. If we cannot find the help we need, we must learn to use the help we find. Complaining less while adopting a calm disposition from the onset may avail us the opportunity to use what is available early enough to give some relief to our situation. It may be possible to access the rest of the help elsewhere. Perhaps through support groups, charities, the Internet and so on. It is a waste of energy to keep getting upset with people when all the help that can be offered has not only been offered but has also been accessed by us. It just means nothing more can be done for us. We need to start looking for other options early. If you live in the UK, you can always get assistance through various agencies set up to help people passing through difficulties. The Citizens advice bureau is a good place to start. They can signpost you to other agencies or groups that can offer support. You can access this service for free. You can also visit the government website as it is loaded with lots of information that you may find relevant. For those outside the UK, look out for agencies that provide advice and support in your country. Trusted family and friends are also a good place to start when you feel stuck. No matter your circumstance, do not lose hope. Help is never in short supply. The extent of help you get may be difficult to cover all you need. At least a little help is better than no help at all. Thank you for reading. You may also like to read other articles like this. They can be found here. Photo credit : Pixabay    


This series was created to share with our readers the thoughts and emotions of a grieving parent dealing with the monumental tragedy of losing a child. Enjoy! BACK IN TIME I keep walking… I keep taking one step after another. I keep putting one foot in front of the other. Sometimes it feels like I can feel my feet being printed in the ground as I take each step.   I walk for dear life. I walk to keep you near It’s the one thing we used to share. I can’t stop myself.   And then came a comforting thought as I walked today….   Perhaps all I need to do is retrace my footsteps. Perhaps all I need is to walk backwards. Perhaps 6 million steps back is all it will take. To get me back to the time when you were here.   I would probably need to walk back in time till I find myself … Till I find myself pushing you along the path we used to thread together. With my eyes closed I can feel your little hand in mine. I can see your big eyes looking up at me. Asking me to lead you on as only I could do.   Come along my love and I will take you to the place you loved. I will guide you to your place of freedom. The place you wanted to be all along….   Now all I have is your song. With your song I make that journey every day. With its melodious tune I am guided back to the time When you were here right next to me humming along.   Now all is quiet but right here in my heart you are never silent. I can feel your presence near. On the strings of the cords that you played. I can see the marks that your fingers made.   I want you back! O how it hurts so…. But to have you back will be to wish more pain on you. My only wish is for you to fly free. Sometimes it’s hard, most times it’s easy   To see your face in the memories we carved on still paper. Feels like my heart is being stabbed with a dagger. But catching that glimpse gives me every reason to be strong It makes me long for you but keeps my heart warm on cold nights.   How can all of life point to the exit sign? How come all we have is a box full of memories? How do you pack up a man’s life in a box? How come it all fits in even though you were larger than life?   But back in time my love is where  I know I have to go Back in time is where you live Back in time is where I go when I want to be with you Sleep sweetly my love…. Thank you for reading. Just so you know, there was Part 2 last week. Click here to catch up. You may also like to read other articles like this. They can be found here. Photo Credit: Pixabay.

Death at my door D.A.M.D (Musings of a grieving parent) Part 3 – BACK IN TIME

This series was created to share with our readers the thoughts and emotions of a grieving parent dealing with the monumental tragedy of losing a child. Enjoy! ACTUALLY BURYING MY SON I had times were my thoughts were marred by the inconceivable idea of committing him to earth. I thought all sorts. I had all sorts of images about the decomposing and loneliness down there in the grave. As a mum, I felt subdued, helpless and on the receiving end. That was when I decided that I had to take back control of my thoughts. I could not let them control me. I like to think that we experience our thoughts. If we begin to think there is a snake in the room, even though it is not a statement of fact, we soon begin to feel scared or unsettled. I did not want to lose control of my feelings. One of the reasons why death is scary is because unlike most experiences, there are stories about those experiences from those who have been through them that can either throw more light on them, reassure us or scare us. With their accounts, we begin to separate fact from fiction and ultimately gain more understanding about the issue. Death is one experience that by virtue of its finality remains a mystery. No one has actually come back from being dead to tell us about what it is like. There are no real tangible facts. All the facts that exist are intangible explanations that require more than the five senses to make sense of. People tend to adopt a “faith” to help make sense of it. Sadly not everyone has a faith to help.The uncertainty surrounding the death experience fuels anxiety leading to various reactions to death. Shock, fear, grief, loss, anger, confusion and the list is endless. We as humans are made to make sense of things by mirroring them with our past experiences. This helps us understand. So if I tell you that I broke my leg, you are most likely going to remember (draw on a past experience) where you either broke your leg (experienced yourself), nursed someone with a broken leg, or knew someone who broke their leg (experienced by proxy). Either way, you will tend to understand better because you have felt that sort of pain before. Unfortunately, no death experience is felt by any of us directly, it always happens to someone else. This means that we can only make sense of death by thinking about it in the way we can understand. We may worry about how the deceased feels. In my case I worried about my boy being “lonely” in his grave, I worried about his skin “decomposing” and looking horrible. I worried about him being “trapped”, not moving etc… all these are characteristics that affect people who are alive and really nothing to do with the dead. A dead person can feel nothing and therefore can sense nothing because all life is gone from the deceased. The things that lead up to death are a process that release the person into the state of being…. dead. For some the events that lead to their death are peaceful, for others they are tragic. Either way, without these processes, death will not occur. They will then stay alive, just like the rest of us who they have left behind. It is only if the deceased was alive that they would experience the feelings of pain, love, laughter, joy, sorrow, worry and so on. It is important to try to consciously stop trying to make sense of the feelings of the body of a dead person. To stop worrying about how the dead “feel”. That word “feel” is a word that only makes sense when you are “not dead”. The deceased that we think about are in essence “dead” and therefore have no need or ability to feel things. They can neither feel anything on their physical bodies like wounds or decay nor can they feel any emotions like pain or loneliness for example. I prefer to experience a feeling beyond what my senses can call factual to help release me from being imprisoned in by grief. You can think of the dead as free from pain, disease (in my son’s case), free of being limited by whatever circumstance held them down while they lived. It may help you experience happiness amidst the sorrow. It also does not make any factual sense … which is the whole idea of this line of thought. Being dead cannot make sense beyond the lifelessness of the deceased that is left behind for us to deal with. To enter into any understanding about death, we have to find that way to connect interiorly in our being either through faith or deep spiritual exercises. As this may be a feat possible for only monks and mystics, I am afraid, we may be better of leaving the dead well alone. I also saw my son one last time before he was committed to earth and although `I had built myself up for a disastrous experience, it was one of the most emancipating experiences of my life. He had began to transition into a state of oneness with Mother Earth. There was no trace of resemblance with my beautiful boy. He was simply gone! It helped me free him in my heart to be buried. You know when he initially died, he still looked so beautiful and peaceful in the chapel of rest where he lay. Somewhere in my head, it kept feeling like he would wake up. I knew he could not because he was gone but it did not stop me wishing.This increased my anxiety about having him buried. I felt a lot of comfort knowing he was in the mortuary. In my mind, I could only feel comforted that he was “asleep” in death … in that cool fridge. Sadly my emphasis in that statement was on the “asleep” not on […]

Death at my door D.A.M.D (Musings of a grieving parent) Part 2 – THE COURAGE TO SAY GOODBYE

Do you feel like you lack the punch life needs? Haha…welcome aboard! That’s what I thought when I was a little girl. I was not born strong…I am not really sure anyone was born strong to be honest. Living life is the journey that makes or breaks you. Think about it this way, you will never realise how much you have grasped a course or subject until you are tested. No matter how much you read and rehearse it, there is no simulation that can perfectly mimic the exam day. The tension and adrenaline rush,the uncertainty surrounding what the question might possibly be ….chai! Nothing prepares you for that part unless you sit the exam. In the exam hall, the panic attack can make you fail the exam not even the lack of knowledge. The beauty of that failure is that you can use it as a stepping stone for further preparation and subsequent success. That’s the opportunity that life gives us. In living life everyday, we are confronted with many situations that prepare us for many things that lie ahead in future. We may never realise all we have deposited within us until the need arises to use them. Have you ever heard yourself say this before: ” I wonder how you coped? or I am not sure I would have survived it if that happened to me?” Well if it’s any consolation, I have said that too. The thought about an event or possibility of an event that lies ahead can be more draining than the actual occurrence of the event. That is just because when the brain is not thrown into a situation, it can overthink it to a state of panic. It goes into overdrive and tends to think the worst in preparation for the event. That can leave a person totally drained and overwhelmed by an event that has not even occurred. Well the good news is that you are not alone. All I can tell you today is to be strong in your mind. Stay trusting yourself and you will not fail. If I tell you today that I trust you to smash that interview won’t you believe it? Or tell you that I trust you to stand up for yourself will you not see the sense in it? Don’t wait for anyone to tell you that because you have the ability to tell it to yourself. Just believe it…. The good thing about “believe” is that it is the main ingredient that conjures faith and strength. Remember what they say “if you think you can you can” and I say to you today : if you think you can’t you not only can’t but you loose the oomph! Is there anyone in your life or any situation bringing you down and making you feel small? Ignore it because it is not what “they” think of you that counts, it is not even what “you” think of you that counts because you are human and can get things twisted sometimes. It is what “God” thinks of you that counts. You do not even have to be religious for God to think wonderfully about you. You don’t even have to believe it either, he just does. Julia Cameron in her book “The Artist’s Way(TAW)” describes God as an acronym for Good Orderly Direction. I too see the sense in that especially for those that struggle with the God concept. If you listen to the voice within… that still small voice of reason, you will locate that Good Orderly Director that guides all of life and creativity. For me he is the King of kings, the Lord God almighty and the author and finisher of my faith. For you he may be described or named differently. There is strength deposited in you. You have the punch life needs. As you live life, let the circumstance that appears to crush you mould you into that person you will become. Ignore the urge to complain so that you will learn the lessons life is teaching you. Those lessons form the building blocks for that strength which you admire in others. I have a plan to reach out to you and guide you as life has guided and taught me to. Together, we will strengthen each other. Nobody knows it all. Feel free to leave me a comment about your thoughts. Don’t forget to share the post so that others who struggle can be reached. There is hope even as little as a whisper to be found in every situation in life. Thank you for reading. You may also like to read other articles like this. They can be found here. Photo Credit: Pixabay. You can also watch the video by clicking on the link below.

You have got the “Punch” too!!!

This is going to be a very interesting write up. I say interesting not because I think that its contents might interest you but because of what I am actually doing while writing. One setback a writer has is the inability to show in real time what he or she intends to describe especially when the discussion is about is something in motion at the time the writing is supposed to be taking place. What am I doing? I am trying to tell you what I am doing now.  Now….I am painting a picture of a city. Actually I am colouring it in more like! I certainly cannot be trusted to paint because I am too fidgety! Earlier…. I found myself in a shop… It was a stationary shop in town. This one was with a twist. Everything was so colourful… so beautiful. There were tons of notebooks, jotters, journals, diaries, pencils, sticky notes, pencil cases… I was spoiled for choice. It was the most beautiful stationery shop I had ever been in. There was every colour of the rainbow in that shop. I got so excited that I felt like a child again. In an instant I began missing my mom. I had that dejavu feeling-  like she was somewhere in the shop asking me to stop staring at everything. The thought made me smile because deep down inside I was happy she wasn’t there to stop me. What’s more, I had my own money to spend! Why am I telling you this? You see the feeling I was experiencing was one I liked to give myself from time to time. We all go through different forms of stress in fact who doesn’t? Stress is part and parcel of life. We all say we like to wind down sometimes. But how do we do that?  Do we perform actions that make us feel more stressed without even realising? Or do we actually find ways to wind down? I have always been the sort of person to buy myself a birthday present every year. Call me self-indulgent but I’ll tell you one thing: …“ everyone needs to be spoiled”… Waiting for someone to spoil you can be overrated. It might come with its own baggage. Who better to take you out eh? You know what you like … you know the restaurants you love to dine … you know what you love to wear … you know where to go … and so on. So you see, I was not wrong afterall… You have all the answers!!! Giving yourself a treat does not have to be expensive. I love a spot of window shopping any time any day. As the Queen of impulse buying, is my only survival strategy. Some people like to eat… Sweet chocolates biscuits you name it. Getting yourself to walk past a cake shop might be enough to add that extra spark to your day. Whether you actually buy something is up to you. Do you remember that thrill … that buzz … and that feeling of excitement you felt as a child when you were invited to one of those colourful places that made you daydream?  Well, you can still let yourself feel that buzz again even now you are grown-up. The good news is that unlike when you were a kid, there is no one stopping you from buying what you want now! So every once in awhile when life gets as stressful as we know it can get, take some time out to give yourself a treat. Finally … I have just completed that painting…sorry…colouring. The splash of colours on the paper is one of the things that always excites me. It sets my imagination ablaze. The thrill of witnessing the transformation of a white piece of paper as it turns slowly into something beautiful is what I find most elating. I feel like no matter how useless I am or  how hopeless things are, this provides a chance for me to do one thing right. Never mind the fact that my only contribution to the masterpiece is a few strokes of my colouring pencil, it is my own part and I got that right!  It passes the time and helps me feel useful. When we feel useful, then we can feel happy and glad to be alive. So even though you don’t know me and I don’t know you, we have one thing in common: we are all people trying to do the best we can with the one life we have. Life is too short not to take time out to spend time doing something for yourself. Try it today. Live free! Thank you for reading. You may also like to read other articles like this. They can be found here. Photo Credit: Pixabay.

An easier way to spoil yourself

This series was created to share with our readers the thoughts and emotions of a grieving parent dealing with the monumental tragedy of losing a child. Enjoy! For the next few weeks, I have decided to pen (or type) down my feelings as I walk my way through … and hopefully …walk my way out … of the weight of the emotions that have taken up abode in my heart since my son’s demise in February this year. I, as usual, refuse to let this whole experience be the end of me… but a rebirth. I am absolutely certain that within this circumstance, there will be many lessons to learn. Hopefully many interesting emotions too! I can certainly testify to the fact that I have been swept by many so far.  I will tell you about this one that I feel I have just come through: GETTING HIS FUNERAL SERVICE DONE We had the final service in memory of our son at the St Christopher’s chapel at Great Ormond street Hospital London. It was special. After a lot of e-mails and phone calls back and forth between the chaplain and I, we pulled it off! When Fred died, I was not really sure about how the next hour would be because it hardly made any sense to me. All I knew was that I was not going to let myself worry. The worst had happened and in my mind, everything would be easier…fall into place. Nothing could possibly be worse than his death. I set out asking questions and being initiated into a new world of funerals, flowers, invitation cards, thank you cards and what have you. One by one each activity slipped into place. We were directed to the Coop funeral services by another lovely parent whose daughter had also sadly passed away. She reassured me about how personal and comforting their service was. I knew I had to contact them. Although I had been referred to many other directors locally, I could not shake off the reassurance in this woman’s voice. So I made the call one morning and booked an appointment. The atmosphere was serene and comforting when we arrived. They put me at the centre of all the discussions to my discomfort. As a woman of African origin, it was quite difficult for me to have these discussions when my husband was present. It just felt disrespectful. He was the dad too. Interestingly there was a cultural shift in my favour. My husband was too westernised to care so I ignored the discomfort and let myself enjoy being at the centre of the deliberations. It began to feel comforting that I was being indulged in a sense as the “Mother of the child”. As soon as the signatures and payments were done, the Coop funeral services took over. They handled bringing our boy back home and all I really had to do was focus on giving him the best send-off. The day of the funeral service was a day of remembrance. We had all Fred’s nursery rhymes on cue. We had no hymns per se. What we sang were two of Fred’s favourite nursery rhymes. Row your boat and Twinkle little star. We all shared fond memories of him throughout the service. His lead consultant, Ward sister, School teacher and Former PA to the consultant gave lovely tributes to my boy. There was laughter and love in that chapel that day. It was filled to capacity with all his team. It was amazing that everyone could find the time to come and I will remain eternally grateful to everyone who attended physically. Many hearts were united with us from all over the world… those who could not attend in person. I appreciate all their prayers too. It was also a memorable experience for Mark who now is left without a brother. He kept asking if he could play in the hospital Activity Centre because he had missed not being in the hospital for that reason. It was lovely that everyone who attended made the day special for us as a family. We all felt fired up with strength for the event of the following day which was the day Fred was to be committed to Mother Earth. We did not really want to invite anyone because we were very conscious of what Fred meant to everyone. He was a special cheerful boy and we worried that it would be too much emotionally for some. On that sunny Friday morning, we arrived the Cemetery all set to go on that final walk with our boy. But guess what? We met all the nurses in his Local team right there waiting to walk with us. It was amazing. His consultant was in attendance, some  representatives from GOSH, even Mark’s class teacher attended. We also had friends, Family, Fred’s school Driver, people from his school….we were blown away. Now I am sitting here this sunny Sunday afternoon thinking about how blessed I have been because of Fred. He drew all these people into my life. All this love, comfort and support network now surround me. I am blessed because he was mine. I feel honoured to have been the one who bore him. We hope to learn more about Propionic Academia because Fred once walked this earth. His life may have been short, but it was long enough for him. This is a vote of thanks to everyone who has stepped into our life in the last 4 years. We love you all. Not forgetting all of you online who have supported us through this most difficult time. We appreciate you too. Thank you for reading If you enjoyed this, you will find more articles like this here Photo credit: Pixabay  

Death at my door D.A.M.D (Musings of a grieving parent) Part 1 – THE FUNERAL SERVICE

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A good friend of mine sat across me with so much excitement in his eyes as he narrated how he landed his dream job with little or no effort on his part. He saw it as nothing short of the miracle he had been praying for. I was so happy for him that I couldn’t hold back my questions as to how and when it all happened. In that moment, all I could feel was genuine satisfaction that someone who was in a similar situation as I was had found his breakthrough, but as a human being I couldn’t help but have mixed feelings later on when I sat alone thinking about how his prayers and not mine had been answered. Selfish, right? This is the constant battle we face as human beings. The ability to be truly happy for the progress or success of others without making it about ourselves generally eludes us. I am not saying that human beings are naturally bitter. However, the act of being absolutely selfless while rejoicing with the friends or family members who have succeeded at something we have not achieved is difficult. You may have tried a number of times to perform a particular activity without a breakthrough. When you later find yourself sitting across someone who with little or no visible effort has achieved that very dream of yours will you be honestly happy for them? Do you rejoice without remembering your failures, setbacks and regrets? It is really difficult but possible. How you may ask? Well, here is how… 1)Remember that we all walk different paths in life and so you shouldn’t be comparing your successes, your failures, your pains and generally, your life to that of other people. 2)Be grateful for every situation you find yourself in so that you can use every story of success around you to fuel your hunger to achieve your dream. Do this not only because you are competing but because you truly want that job, that promotion or that marriage. Be willing to put in the extra effort required to get it. 3)Wish people nothing but the best and be sincere when rejoicing with them in their time of plenty so that when you are blessed beyond your imaginations, true and equally genuine people would surround and celebrate you. Who wouldn’t like that, I guess we all do, so be that person. 4)Do not let your current struggles leave you bitter or make you a HATER. You are bigger than your present reality. 5)Most importantly, remember that your life is a journey. So be sure to enjoy yours and celebrate your milestones. Whenever you achieve something you have worked or prayed for, look back at your mindset while you waited. If you were patient, you would find that the wait was worth it and you will truly value your accomplishment. On the other hand, if you lived in constant worry while waiting, it would be absolutely clear how unnecessary that was. Worrying about things that have not yet been attained only deprive you of happiness. All you need to do during those times is to master the art of patience. So live in the moment, be grateful and be PATIENT because that’s all you need to lead a fulfilling life. Thank you for reading. You may also like others from this series About the author : Ezimen is a professional in the daytime. He loves writing, travelling and having fun! Do you know that you can now submit a post like this? To find out how, click here. Perhaps you fancy reading from others in the community? Find other articles here. Thank you Photo credit: Pixabay

Life requires Patience…By Ezimen

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Hey guys, thanks for coming back again for the concluding part of our story Family Secret Revealed.  Without any further ado, let us jump right in! I must have fainted… I still don’t know what really happened. I woke up this morning and everything seemed normal. We-all-slept-in-our-beds kind of  normal. If you don’t feel as surprised as I did, then you probably missed out on  the first part of this story. I saw mum and said hello to her as I walked into the kitchen for breakfast. She was making scrambled eggs. “Hi mum”, I said “hey babe”, she said “how’s that little monkey?” She asked. You slept right through the fireworks display whch we had for uncle Sparkie. The baby must have worn you out. “Fireworks!!” I said surprised “yes fireworks”, mum said looking puzzled. Don’t tell me you have also forgotten we where having it. You signed the delivery yesterday morning. It was all news to me. I looked in the direction of the bin and saw the empty cartons from the said fireworks. I made black coffee instead of my usual tea as I sat down to make sense of everything. This morning certainly needed something stronger. “Should you be drinking that?”, Mum asked as I took a sip from the cup. “How about sister and everyone?”, I asked ignoring her question. “They all left after the display yesterday. Your husband called earlier, his flight arrives later today. I hope you have not forgotten that too?”, mum asked me. Well, as you may have guessed, I had! Did I bang my head? All that last night… that was surely not a dream? I rang my sister after my bath and she also talked about how cool the fireworks display was. “Are you ok sis?” she asked me. “Sure…why?”, I said. “Well, you were out like a light too early last night. I did come to get you but you did not even flinch. Sorry but I can’t help but notice that you sound so surprised about the fireworks. You made a big faffle about signing for that delivery”, she concluded. “I am just tired”, I said “okay take care of you baby girl”, sis Soki said. “I will … bye” and with that I hung up. The doorbell rang and I was just breastfeeding my baby by the balcony. My mum got the door. I can hear her greet my uncle Elder Dumayi. “Good morning sir”, I screamed out from where I was as he approached me. I sat transfixed and panic stricken as he walked towards me. It was such bad timing for me as I could not move with my baby sucking away hungrily. “Good morning blessed child”, he said as he always did. “How is the baby? And hey… why did you sleep like a log of wood last night? Are you ok Perry?”, he asked lowering himself towards me where I sat on the floor with the baby at my bossom. He cupped my chin in his palm, lifting my face up and looking straight into my eyes. It felt like he was looking for clues in my eyes…or so I thought. I could not meet his gaze. I curled away, lifting my baby as i did. “Yes sir, I was …j-just tired”, I stammered trying to hide my uneasiness.I could not stop thinking about him last night…or was it all a dream? I was so confused. My head ached. “I hope so, that guy has not knocked you up again has he? I will have words with him. You still nursing the little one man!” he said regarding me. We both laughed. “No my darling uncle have no fear”I said allowing myself relax. He was still my uncle. Our good old elder Dumayi. He was no killer or Lord or anything. It all felt so scary. My uncle went in looking for his baby brother as he liked to call my dad. It was funny how much that statement offended my dad. Later in the evening my husband arrived. Mom did not even let the guy rest. He filled him in on the party, fireworks and fun. I still secretly listening carefully to hear if any sinister hints where going to be dropped. But nothing… It was all in my head then, I concluded. When we finally had a moment I told Tendayi my husband and soulmate all about what happened. “Hmm, the dreamer”, he teased. You do look tired. “I am dear, but it was so real. So frightfully real I am still a bit  unsettled”, I told him. He cradled me in his arms reassuringly. “Don’t worry love it will pass. Dreams always fade with time. We just perhaps have to warn Delis to be more careful. Just in case you saw in your dream is a sign of danger”, he said. That made sense. Hmmm, it could all have been a sign. Tendy asked me to get ready so that we could leave. He had missed me so much. Moreover we needed our own space to show each other how much we missed each other. “What a relief”, I thought. I strolled happily to the kitchen to get my boy’s milk. I heard voices as I walked down the corridor leading to the kitchen. “Look here Delis, I only came to warn you”, my uncle’s voice threatened. I froze at once recognising that scary tone in his voice. “Yes sir, thank you sir” Delis stammered. “You won’t to be thanking me next time”, my uncle elder Dumayi said coldly “Can you see what you made me do? I had to go back in time to alter the sequence. Who knows I may have disrupted the balance in time. These things have consequences. We can only wait and see. The next time you decide to make trouble, do not… I repeat do not drag it to our doorstep you fool!” He snapped. “I won’t sir Eldee, I won’t sir”, Delis sounded […]

Family Secret Revealed 2

Feminism should not create the yardstick by which women should express themselves. It should create a platform to enable women showcase and express their diverse natures and features as women “isms” crop up as soon as a minority or sect feel that their rights are not being adequately upheld. Their voices are either not heard or misinterpreted. I have never heard of “male-inism” to be the opposite of feminism. That’s because men by their nature feel very sure about themselves. Some of them even take it a step further by feeling that they are in full custody of self-expression. Somewhere in the history of men and women, the need for feminism came into being to uphold the rights of women. It arose to address issues concerning women. It came about to bring equality between men and women. To say to mankind “hey what is good for the goose will not kill the gander. In fact it can actually be good for the gander!” I do not think that the true purpose of feminism is to suppress man’s expression of himself. The purpose of feminism is rather to create an avenue for accommodating women’s needs. Feminism should give women a voice so they can express their views and ideas. It should make them realise that their opinions matter too in every aspect of life as do men’s. What I see sometimes is the existence of what I like to call neo-feminism. It’s like a twist to the real ideology of feminism. It is an ideology that proposes that women have now come of age and have now evolved from the position they struggled to attain-as equals with men, to a point of superiority to men and unfortunately even women who fail to imbibe their ideologies. The neo-feminist says “I am superior” and you know what, I will do all I can to prove it!” So this ideology begets a new group of women who create new norms and rules about what qualifies or disqualifies you as a feminist. They dictate these by their actions, ideologies and comments in the media. They in turn begin to feel superior to the rest of “womanity”. They do this by imposing their “perfect feminism” over women through their endless attempts at telling them what to do. They dismiss other women who do not appear to fit their mould while portraying their feminist images and incantations needlessly. They would want to fool us into regarding the for-bearers of this said feminism as archaic. Our grandmothers, great-grandmothers and ancestors in the good old days once stood disheveled as they struggled to pay their own way in a world that treated them as second class and mostly articles and properties tied to “man”-kind. Where they found jobs, they were seldom remunerated fairly or appropriately. They had no say in all matters including those that affected them directly. When they stood, they found the time to give other less privileged women a voice. They worked to include all women in their fight. They did not segregate them into pseudo-groups. When they clamoured for female emancipation during their hay days, It was with style, grace, eloquence and dignity. They were to me even more feminist than we all will ever be. They were the truly oppressed who lived in a world were women did not matter as much. Yet their unity of purposed paved the way for what we now enjoy to a large extent as equality, unity and ultimately feminism. Are they less feminist than women perpetually portrayed as feminist through their mostly material self projections in the press?   Thank you for reading. You may also like to read other articles like this. They can be found here. Photo Credit: Pixabay.

International Women’s Day : Beware of the “Neo-feminist”

WORLD BOOK DAY That was celebrated worldwide yesterday….. However, before I tell you my thoughts about it, I want to just say THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR KIND, WARM AND COMFORTING MESSAGES. So back to world book day… Little Mark and his daddy shared a book while on the train earlier in the week. In this day and age books have now taken different shapes and forms. This applies to books meant for children and adults. On that day, the book in question was an audio book called “Nuts in Space” written by Elys Dolan. The truth about books and children is that when you throw “Lauretta” into the mix, what you get is a massive mistake🙀. You won’t believe it but as much as I love reading books, I hate reading stories to children 🙈. There you have it…I said it! I just find it boring and I don’t mind admitting it. As an African parent, I can confess that I have no recollection of stories being read to me as a child. Stories were “told” to me mainly by my dad. These were very interesting stories by the way. Story telling is a very important and popular part of African culture but it usually ends there. Even in the villages and cities, people gather round to talk about their day. Visitors come to homes and bring tales with them. Stories about their experiences, other people’s stories and not forgetting “rumours”😀. I remember “tales by moonlight” on NTA network service as a child. I even remember “storyland by Jimmy Solanke”. We sat and watched-listened to them. Anyway, the culture of writing down the stories is not as popular as telling them. This is one of the reasons why many integral parts of the culture and facts about ancestry and ways are beginning to be watered down. Simply because elders die with their wisdom and knowledge leaving many guessing. Books provide an avenue for preservation of thoughts, ideas, fact or fiction. When you write something down, you trap it. You trap the thought as it is and you trap the memory created by that thought process in the pages of that book. When you are absent, a book also evolves into a tool that speaks for you. It also educates other people about the facts they contain. They create a coherence in the flow of thoughts that can then be learnt by others, built on, discarded or just kept for future generations. As an African in diaspora, I loved the book culture I met. The book culture inculcated in children from the cradle. Books here create a bonding opportunity for parents and their kids. They can help create stability in a young mind. For example the fact that the child will be read to can be the one thing they find to be constant. Books can also be comforting and soothing to a child by surrounding the child with the voice of the reader when they are being read to. So bearing these in mind, you will appreciate how lost and inadequate I felt as a mum about the whole “book project!” The good thing about confronting ones fears is that it is the first step to finding solutions. When you bury your head in the sand, you stay down but when you lift your head up, you find hope. This led me to discovering that I could use the one thing I was almost locking away from my child- Technology! The good news for parents like me in this world has been the introduction of technology. While there are many arguments for and against uniting kids with technology at an early age, I cannot really take a side. At least not today. What I can do though, is tell you about my observation : “Technology can be a saviour for mums- especially if you have been as stressed (caring for a sick child) as I have been these past couple of years. What I think can become a problem is when you let technology take over parenting. There should be some supervision and guidance in order to maximise the benefits of technology for kids. The interface that technology provides for children is not only entertaining and amazing but it is also fun! It helps create memorable dexperiences for children. What I love about it is the return patronage element it always has. Children keep asking for devices and wanting to play with them. It also holds their attention for longer than you can barely boast of with kids- including toddlers. Just as I was about to bin the silly time-consuming devices, I stopped to take a closer look at it. I examined the annoyingly obvious characteristics of technology and balanced it against my parenting inadequacies (especially my story-book- reading-hatred). What I got was a solution! So imagine carefully mixing play time and study time with some technology. What you can end up with is an engaging interaction between you, your child and the gadget. In the end, as long as you can get your child’s attention (which by the way can be a Herculean task for you the human and an “easy-peezy-lemon-squeezy” task for the device), you may actually end up teaching them some useful skills. I have learnt to use this new trusty companion to my advantage. You will be judging Mark wrongly if you saw him playing with my phone. It is the one tool that has helped him learn to read and now provides access to tons of books and educative games to help keep his little inquisitive mind fed. At last…. I can now sincerely join the world book day celebrations this year! We enjoyed many books this year. We have listened through the year to stories being read to us by different devices while all we had to do was sit back, relax and pay attention. I have not had to worry about my no 1 parenting flaw of not wanting to read to […]

World Book Day

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   “I have come here regarding your brother Delis. He has offended our master and today he’s wanted for reckoning. The Akalango master is in need of his soul because today the day of reckoning has come. It is here for him at last and he knows it”. Elder Dumayi was the one who answered the door when the strange sounding  man came requesting to collect Delis. Our elder brother Delis was always notorious. Always getting himself into trouble. He was mixed up in many runs, deals and even shootouts. He was just trouble personified. This evening was the end of the day to what had been a family get-together. All the members of our family were present. I was in the room with my son who had just finally gone to sleep. My sister’s children were somewhere playing. I could hear their noisy chattering. Cousin Sumy with my younger brother and the rest of the family were in the main living room watching a game of football. The doorbell had rung and the women in the kitchen screamed for someone to get it before the baby- my baby woke up. It had been a beehive of activities that day. Bros Sparkie as we called one of the elder uncles was going back to the USA on the weekend so every member of the family had come to send him off as was customary for us in our family. “Papa P wants Delis today”,  he said. I could hear him speaking in our corridor past elder Dumayi and there seemed to be a scuffle in the corridor. I tiptoed towards the door to the room where I was and closed it shut. It was so scary. The house seemed to drop into a state of silence. I could literally hear everyone’s heartbeat. “What has Delis done again?” I wondered. “Who on earth had he offended this time?” My heart was beating so fast. I heard footsteps… They got closer… But thankfully, it was that of all the women and children. The door opened and they filed into the room. Each person looked horror stricken. My uncles were still in the living room. But what was also worrying was that elder Dumayi and the stranger seemed to go silent as well. I could not understand. “I am giving you five minutes to produce Delis”, the stranger said. “There is no one called Delis here”, elder said. “The hour glass has turned”, he said and then fell silent. At that instant, we all looked at the clock like soldiers on parade with their eyes to the right – It was 6.25 p.m.. No one made a sound. Not even the men in the living room. I desperately prayed for my baby not to wake up screaming. About a minute later, Delis waltzed in through the door having no idea what he had walked into. “Delis! Delis!”,  I heard Elder saying “leave this place now!” Then, Footsteps – quick footsteps were all I heard as Delis ran off. “Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha”,  the man laughed “Two more minutes left for you to submit him by yourself”, he warned sternly. Silence………. It felt like the longest silence ever. “Now old man since you have refused to submit Delis to grand master Akalango, I have knowingly seen that you sighted him and deliberately made him unavailable to the Lord master for his reckon day as beknowest to him. The reckoning therefore doth resteth on you. You ‘ole man have carried the pot of recompense on thy head!”, he blurted out scarily. We all grabbed one another in horror. All my aunties, sisters, cousins and mom where all gasping. I put my finger on my lips gesturing for them to stay quiet. Even I could not make sense of the gibberish the man just spat out of his mouth in the name of speech. Grand master? Reckoning? Beknowest? What was all this about? Elder Dumayi as we all called my dad’s eldest brother laughed. “ Hahahahahahahahaha…no chance!”, he said. My mum opened the door so that she could see what was happening and so I joined her. At that point I saw my uncles Charlis and Peter rush into the corridor. Before the strange messenger man could turn his face, they pounced on him punching and kicking him. I ran back into the room. The man was screaming. I looked at the children whose heads were all dug into the pillows and duvets in fear. The sounds were horrifying. “Turn up that music”, I heard my father say from the living room. They were still pounding that man. His screams quietened into shrieks. “Reckoning what?”, Uncle Charlis said as he dealt him yet another blow. “Taking who?”, Uncle Peter added “We will finish you today”, elder Dumayi said “Lord master want to recompense who? Uncle Charlis said and with that they all burst into laughter. Why did you not give the stupid Delis to him when he ran in earlier my mother said. She was still watching from the doorway. “Shut up woman”, elder Dumayi said . “This is not a matter for women”, he added sharply. At this point I became worried because I could not hear any sounds from the man being tortured.. “He is dead o”, elder Dumayi said a bit triumphantly. “The foolish guy, he thought he could rattle us!… Get that large trunk box and we will put him there before he gets stiff”, elder Dumayi said it like he had done this before. I was in shock. What had we just heard…. Or better still witnessed. A murder? The kids…. Oh my God the kids heard it all! It was supposed to be a happy day. I realised that nobody had still moved from the living room. It was like we all knew our positions and it  felt like somehow pretending we were not there kind of made us absent – less guilty… Not witnesses. “Put him in Sparkie’s trunk and I will give you […]

Family Secret Revealed 1

RAINFOREST WARD It is a time in my life that I can never forget. I first walked through those doors 4 years ago when my son Otito was born. He had gone straight into coma and our world was shattered. A simple birth has turned into a nightmare. At a time when we were trying to make sense of the diagnosis, we walked into the loving and welcoming arms on rainforest ward. It’s a ward unlike any other at GOSH because I have been through many wards along the way with my boy unfortunately. There is a personal touch to the care you get on Rainforest ward. The culture and atmosphere is exemplary. The staff there are a team. There is a feeling of peaceful coexistence and healthy rivalry. Not the usual cut throat competition that is quite common in some female dominated professions. In the last year, it became my son’s home- our second home. He was looked after and loved on Rainforest ward. I often wondered if he would ever adjust to life at home after being spoiled by the nurses who loved him to bits. Now and especially at this time, I look at those doors behind me with fondness. Although he never made it back home, he was at home there. When he was there, he was less of a patient and through the year that was to be his last and in their care, we saw more of the happy little boy that he deserved to be. That gives me peace. The interesting thing about hospital life is the unintentional intertwining and inter-mingling with so many people. You learn to get along with them and adjust to all their qualms. In the end, a peaceful coexistence ensues. I remember good times and sad times in equal measure. I resist the urge to sway towards being stuck in the sad times. Instead, I deliberately swing the bias towards the happy times. Otito brought these wonderful people into my life. Had I not birthed him and nursed him through the roller coaster years, I would have remained oblivious to the reality of the wonderful team existing behind those doors. For this I am thankful. When Otito passed away, I saw all the pain and I watched the tears flow through their eyes and I felt very lucky to have them all in my life. Sharing the pain with these team of love made it easier to bear. No epistle can convey how tough the last year has been. However, in the company of the staff on the ward, I felt like they witnessed my struggle and no explanation was required. Therefore I could just get on with trying to make sense of what had unfolded. Rainforest ward was our ward. I made and formed new friendships with many parents that I can never forget. You see, there is one privilege of having a tumultuous life as I have had. You begin to see that many things are overrated. “Friendship” is one of those. Sadly, many long formed relationships fizzle to a trickle. Phone calls reduce to faded chat lines until they become history. This is usually not intentional but it happens anyway. Having a sick child can take you into a different league. You begin to have less common interests with old friends until you drift apart. Old friends cannot identify with your new reality. Trying to get their attention may keep you spinning until you are saddled with so much emotional baggage at a time when you need less stress. I had a friend once think that I was lying when I said my son was sick- again. My supposed friend in not so many words said “Like seriously, how can someone be so unwell?” before ending the statement with the usual “bless him”. On the other hand, I also experienced the helplessness from friends who would have loved to help but did not know how or were too far away. I made new friends on rainforest ward. When I did, the gap was filled. I did not mean to make them but they happened because they could feel my pain. We were in the boat together. Somehow they got it! It was a comforting relationship. We all were united in the struggle and pain we felt for our children. We were fighters and pulled one another along the way. We shared tips and tricks depending on what we had learnt. I am sitting on my sofa now missing them all. Somehow like before, I know that no matter how I try, life will happen again and the calls will fade because we are now in different worlds. We will begin to have less things in common. My day will probably begin to have different events. I may start to feel insensitive when I call to moan about my new challenges and you may start to call less because you do not want to disturb me with your Parent Caring challenges. But it doesn’t have to be that way because no matter what happens, I will always get it. If you have walked this path, you are never the same. It changes your life positively if you let it. You become more sensitive to things you never could have thought you would even notice. One of the mums gave me a life time membership of the Parent carers club. Like an invisible alumni. It was comforting because it really feels strange being “normal” again. I feel like a bit of a cheat- being relieved of my duties so suddenly! For the first time yesterday, I experienced something weird. Before I tell you what it is, I will take you down my lane of memory to help you understand why it felt wierd…. In 2012 when I watched the London 2012 opening ceremony, pregnant, I saw a display by “Drs and nurses at Great Ormond street hospital” and thought -Awwww, bless. God help “those” people. After that, […]

Rainforest Ward…Otito’s final home. (A thank you letter to all the teams that made his last year special)

If the evil one knew that killing Jesus will bring redemption he would have turned him into Methuselah and stopped his crucifixion. There is always light at the end of the tunnel. There is no mountain we cannot climb if we can only believe. Remember if you can…you can. No one has power over us except it comes from above. God is a good God and there is no evil to be found in him. His thoughts towards us are of good and never of evil. Therefore we have to put all our trust in him no matter the situation. Sometimes things go wrong but at other times they will go well. Life is like a bed of roses. Very beautiful to behold but also filled with prickly thorns. We must never claim monopoly of ill occurrences. They happen to every one- only some are visible to all while others are not so obvious. If we are better disposed, the blows life deals us will be cushioned by our inner fortitude. It is deep rooted in us but sometimes we are not aware of our strengths. Some events occur in our lives that help us access them those strengths. There is no proper certification without an exam. For those of us who are Christians, how can you really know you have faith if it is not tested? The bible called Abraham God’s friend after he abandoned himself to God’s will by sacrificing his son. He who the Lord loves he chastises. So we see Job being tried and tempted to the end because he loved God and God bragged about it. Do you love God? Can God be sure that you will continue to trust that he loves and cares for you even when things seem horrible? The trials we face in life unlock our inner strengths- but only if we let them. Remember the glass is with “half-full or half-empty” depending on how you see it. There is no right or wrong answer. As long as your answer does not draw you down and make you sad- choose it. Whichever one you choose, the quantity of water in the glass remains unaltered. I am a firm believer in God’s strength and God’s grace. I have complete confidence in his God’s divine plan. So I made a deliberate and conscious decision to make today about praising God and celebrating Fred’s life. I cannot change what has happened but I can change how I view it. I can change how I let it affect me. That gives me control. One good thing about being in control about things that happen in your life is that it helps you feel stronger. So you too may be out there feeling down – please rise up today and move on. Feeling down will not lead you anywhere but raising up your head will help you start to find the light at the end of the tunnel. Fred bore his pains gallantly. His passing is now “my pain” but in time it will not be so painful. I choose to see his passing as a way that gave him peace.God’s glory and beauty surrounded him. He inspired me as his mum with his strength -God’s strength. So joy has come in the morning. Joyful trust that this is the Lords doing. Nothing happens in this world without God allowing it to happen. No one can surprise God. I remember when Pontius Pilate got angry with Jesus for not answering his numerous questions. He said ” do you know I have power to put you in jail and release you?” Do you remember what Jesus said? I will remind you today. He said “you have no power over me except the one that comes from above”. This was a man whose life and death had been “foretold” before time began. How could any man claim power over him. God has written down all that is happening and all that will happen in your life before you were born. So let us have trust in God. I know I do try not to make my posts about my faith because I acknowledge that my followers cut across all walks of life. However at times like this… of great pain, it is impossible for me to make sense of it without holding firmly to my faith. Only the joy of the Lord can be my strength at this time. Praises to God in my native tongue: Ebubedike, okwusi ogwu. He speaks and the earth trembles. The beginning and the end I bow in submission to you o lord. I thank God for the privilege of being Fred’s mother. Praise the Lord ! Ije awele nwa’m oma (safe journey my good son), ujor atuzina i (do not be afraid) Otitodilichineke bi na enigwe (Glory be to God who lives in heaven). Igweeeeee💪💪💪💪 Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed reading this, you may also enjoy some other topics we have discussed in this series. Photo credit: Pixabay

Death at my door : Giving God all the glory for Otito’s life…

God is good. He gave us “Otito” and he was a beautiful pearl that brightened up our lives. He was always on loan to us and so we looked after him completely. Now God has requested him back because he was too precious in his sight to overlook. He suffered so… death became the key to set him free from it all. It hurts but he is now at peace. His peace will be my peace in the end. My heart bleeds. Not because of pain but because of a different type of joy. A joyful trust that this bitter pill is good for me because my God allowed it to be. I trust his decision completely because his ways and thoughts are not like mine. If anything his thoughts for me are of good and never of evil. This blow dealt to me feels horrible but nothing happens in my life without God’s ordination. Therefore I decree today that it is the Lord’s doing it is marvellous in my sight and I will continue to praise him through the pain. It is hard now but I know it will get easier. Otito was strong amidst his adversity and so I draw from it and remain strong. Although he suffered endlessly, through it all, he managed to remain happy and filled the hospital ward that was his final home with his laughter and music. He will be greatly missed by us all especially his older brother Mark and all his friends- the devoted staff at GOSH who were devoted to him. Otito was their boy too. They loved and cared for him like their own. He was admitted Feb 2016 and remained an inpatient until he passed away on Tue 21 Feb 2017…. He will always be remembered for his singing, humming, dinosaur stumping around the ward and enjoying endless nursery rhymes with his iPad on Rainforest ward at Great Ormond Street Hospital and Children’s Charity He brought us all together for a reason and please let his passing not separate us. This changes nothing and although I have been relieved of my duties as a Parent carer, I shall not rest until I spread the word about the world I was privileged to be part of these past few years. This will be Otito’s legacy…… Thank you Photo credit: Pixabay If you enjoyed reading this, you may also enjoy some other topics we have discussed in this series. Photo credit: Pixabay

Goodbye Otito…

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She was tired…absolutely exhausted. She had a calm exterior but was screaming on the inside. She felt like running… Running very fast, very hard until her feet made a print on tarmac. She felt like flying so high until she became weightless. Light enough not to be weighed down by anything.   She was heavy and burdened. She was caged and imprisoned. But it was an imprisonment without a choice to be free. It was not for a crime or else this imprisonment would have become a form of punishment. It was an entrapment for which she was never given the chance to stand accused.   She was not given the chance to defend herself. It just happened. It felt like a lot was cast and she was the one who had the shackle slung on her neck. A burden that was immovable. Every time she tried to lay it aside she was awkwardly drawn into positions that felt worse than she could bear.   She could not breathe. She felt constricted. She could not spread out her wings because thorns circled her resting place. She could not rest because there were endless decisions to make. A moment of slumber was costlier than a tired awakening.   She was enslaved… By every breathe she drew, she paid dearly for her existence. To make her own choices and ride on the horse of destiny was to thwart her whole existence and bring it to a halt. Better not to exist fully than to exist and to lose that existence in an abrupt slash of sorts.   What was the point to her life? Vanity they said all was in the end. But vanity was still important to give value to her existence. She could not throw out or condemn all vanity. Some vanities seemed necessary while others were luxurious. They all gave meaning to her life in different ways.   Waiting was the game of the wise… Mother Earth took her time to churn out fruits at times and seasons she chose. She could not be hurried. Yet time waited for no one even her. It was the reason she was tired and weighed down.   She was jealous. Her jealousy is not of anyone in particular but in the unfairness of it all. Like a hamster in a cage, she seemed not to make a headway. She kept running, never faltering, never stumbling yet never arriving at any destination.   What she cannot stand was this fate… The endlessness pain, the enduring, the waiting, the patience. It felt so inappropriate for her because she was a hurrier. She knew she had to take what she was given. She had no choice or influence in the matter.   She was tired and wanted out. The more she moaned, the more she felt guilty. The weight of the guilt burdened her freedom. She was doomed whichever way she chose to go.   Does she sound familiar? Well that is because we meet her sometimes in different ways. Stop daring to dream.  We have to accept what we have got. When the time comes, the status quo will change. Let’s keep our eyes on the ball, things will get better someday.   Thank you for reading. Photo credit Pixabay


Hello … I just wanted to share this quick post with you today. I played a simple game but guess what? It got me thinking about life. I hope you enjoy it. So yesterday in the spirit of  boredom bursting, we decided to play “snakes and ladders” with our son Mark. I am not sure of it was a good idea but I will let you decide . He cried every time a snake bit him but soon burst into laughter every time he climbed up a ladder. He laughed happily at every other player as soon as they met the ill-snake-biting-fate but was not too happy when they ascended any ladders especially when such rises meant that he got overtaken by such a player. In no time, we began to laugh right back at him as soon as the snakes bit him which as you can imagine led to more crying. He began to see that if he wanted us to sympathise with him, he had to stop laughing at our misfortune. All in all, I think it was a good way to teach him some valuable lessons. “Snakes and ladders” is a game that feels a bit like life. You never know what lies around the corner when you step into each day…as you do on each tile, there might be a snake lying around to bring tears to your eyes. But you need to change your focus to be able to move ahead and enjoy life. Like we taught our son, focus on the ladders because snakes are inevitable. You have no control over either snake or ladder but you have control over how you let them make you feel. So here are Four valuable lessons I always take away from the game called “Snakes and Ladders”. Lesson 1. Focus on the joy that climbing up a ladder brings. Focus on the ladder that lies ahead. Ignore the snakes of sadness, deceit, sickness, poverty. Dwelling on them will not change them. They will only make us sad. Lesson 2. Do not laugh at others when they encounter their snakes. Remember- if you laugh at peoples’ misfortune there will be no one to console you in your time of sorrow. Lesson 3. Be happy when others progress. Just because they climb their ladders and overtake you, it doesn’t mean you will not succeed. Remember the sky is big enough for all the stars to shine. There will be big stars like the sun and small stars. Don’t worry about what star you are because no condition is permanent. Lesson 4. Don’t expect people to be happy or sad just because you are happy or sad. It is not a competition. Live your life. So tell me, have you played any games lately that felt a bit like life? Thanks for reading. You may also like to read other articles like this. They can be found here. Photo credit : Pixabay  

4 lessons about life from “Snakes and Ladders”- the board game

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What can one possibly do on a journey that lasts 5hours? I decided in the spirit of organisation to plan the whole trip to a “P”. Snakes and ladders✅, Word search          ✅, “I spy” tactics✅, oh…and I forgot Light refreshments✅. About 3 hours into the journey, I was exhausted. I could not sleep because unlike most people, I don’t sleep in public! Haha….only because you fart when you sleep- My husband just managed to add behind my ears. Well, such is life, we are all endowed differently and controlling wind is not one of my strong points. Anyway, we began playing games and by the time the colouring began, Mark twisted himself into knots trying to get the colours in the box. My 5yr old was frustrated. “Mum, the train keeps moving and ruining my work”, he said for the umpteenth time. It was perfect to me given the circumstances. But the little man was not having any of that. “I want it to be perfect!” he moaned. One part of me wanted to ignore him but he had said it so many times and deserved some attention- bless him. Me: it’s fine the way it is Mark Him: No mum it is not. If only the train could stop for a moment ! Me: But it won’t Him: crying Me: you have to accept that the train will keep moving at least for now and keep doing your colouring. Don’t you like to colour anymore? Him: I love it mummy. Me: Then try to focus on enjoying what you are doing. It doesn’t really matter. Soon you will find a way. Him: still crying – but I want it to be perfect mummy. Me: but it can’t though. Nothing is ever really perfect. You just have to keep trying Him: I can’t try mummy, it’s not being perfect Me: try again Him: No mummy, I don’t have to try again because that is not even working. I have to try HARDER. Maybe trying harder will make it perfect. Me: smiling because that made sense but I then said “keep trying that’s the most important thing whether it’s trying “again”, or trying “harder”, just keep trying and don’t give up on your colouring. Ignore the train and enjoy what you are doing. Him: ok mum. …and that was it. There was peace. He began trying harder as he had proposed earlier and suddenly the bumpy ride did not matter. He stopped fussing. After a couple of hours, I glanced at his doodle pad and it looked better than the first time. That’s life really. We all keep trying hard…very hard and sometimes too hard. Life doesn’t have to be such a chore. It doesn’t have to be so difficult. If we change our focus it can make a big difference to the same life as we have found it to be. The bumpy ride, the ups and downs are sometimes constantly there just like our train. So it makes sense to just enjoy what we have to do. Enjoy the job at hand, enjoy the company of friends, enjoy the decisions you are privileged to make. Enjoy the food you have available. Just live life to the fullest. Don’t go emptying your bank account on a shopping spree by the way 😀 Just do the best you can within the circumstances life chooses to impose on you. Have a fantastic day people. Thanks for reading. You may also like some other articles like this. Find them by clicking right here. Photo credit: Pixabay

When things get tricky : Do you try again or try harder?

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Build from where you are, build from where you lie. No use waiting for the stars to align Before you take action to improve yourself You will in turn improve the quality of your life.   In every area of your life take control, Make conscious efforts to be better than who you were yesterday. Make it a project to continually strive to improve. Improvement can be slow, it can be radical. It all depends on you. Build your tomorrow, Leave the past alone. Don’t let it hold you back. Keep surprising yourself by excelling at things that you fear. Fear is a crippling feeling Imposed on ourselves by our minds. Conquer in your mind And see it come to be in the physical world. The first rule is to practice appreciation Always be grateful for the little things you overlook. Your family, friends , that job you keep grumbling about. The roof over your head, your health and most importantly your mind.   You are driven by how you think. Do not compare your path with that of another. You are unique You must find and walk your own path. Learn from your experiences and that of others But never judge anyone. Remember one thing – time waits for no one So get up, start thinking right and most importantly start building your future.   Thanks for reading You may also like others from this series About the author : Ezimen is a professional in the daytime. He loves writing, travelling and having fun! Do you know that you can now submit a post like this? To find out how, click here. Perhaps you fancy reading from others in the community? Find other articles here. Thank you Photo credit : Pixabay

Build from where you are – a poem by Ezimen

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Out of every stressful situation that comes our way, something beautiful can be born. The holy bible (2 corinthians 4:17) reassures us that our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. Praise God. Why then do we scamper and panic whenever troubles come our way? Do we not have a God who is aware of whatever trouble that we face? The bible refers to our troubles as light and momentary. This is a bit thought provoking because we all know that problems vary in weight. Why then does it all get grouped as light? It is because their is a command that Jesus gave to lighten every burden. He said if we come to him when we labour, face trials, problems and feel heavy laden he will give us rest(Matthew 11:28). The question becomes about who we turn to when we feel weary, burdened and weighed down? Do we turn to ourselves, to others (who by the way are as imperfect as we are and are lacking in the wisdom and knowledge that can solve our problems) or do we turn to God? He has asked us to take his yoke upon ourselves. By taking his yoke, we can learn from him how to carry our own burdens more perfectly. His yoke is easy and his burden is light. As Christians, we must learn to focus solely on Christ especially during times when we are unsure about which way to go with our problems. As soon as we stand on our own two feet, we can endure our trials more easily while we await the outcome for our future. Precious metals are made after passing through fire. In the same way, we who are precious to God(Zechariah 2:8) will sometimes face trials in order to grow, be toughened and have a better understanding. What is the use of a lecture without an exam? We have learnt about all the virtues and commandments necessary to lead a good Christian life. Sometimes trials come and when they do, they give us the opportunity to put them into practice. You say you have faith in God, when trials come rather than scampering , you can spend time exercising your faith and totally trusting in God. The Lord chastens and disciplines those he loves (Hebrew 12:6). Rather than will our trials away, let us find ways to cope. We need to try to cope because, things do not last forever. God has the final say. The sufferings of Job teach us that much. He was loved by God and there was no part of his suffering that God was not aware of neither was there a time in his suffering that God was absent. He went through every one of his trials because he was God’s special son whom God had bragged about. This reason remained unknown to him but God took this chance because he had the assurance of Job’s faith. God did not doubt Job’s faith even though he was materially blessed. God could see through all Job possessed and what he saw every time was a true and sincere faith. To think that God is against us because we face problems will be folly. It will be equal to becoming a child of God only because of what we stand to gain from God. A thousand years are like a moment in God’s eyes. Since God’s ways are not our ways and our thoughts different from his, our sufferings remain momentary to him. So it does not matter how long they last because they are not counted by God using our worldly standard of time measurement. Just because we feel weighed down does not mean God will change the time he has set for our answer to come. He makes all things beautiful in his time ( Ecclesiastes 3:11). Notice that the bible says in “His” time. Not in my time or your time. We must trust in God’s divine timing. He said that he will not suffer our foot to be moved (Psalm 121:3). Therefore when we start to wobble in faith we need to go back to our eternal source for strength. We need to replant our feet firmly in Christ by taking his easy yoke. We need to find Jesus in our calamity like Peter at the stormy sea and focus on him so that he can calm our troubled spirit. God can allow suffering to occur in order to propel us into greater things. By complaining we reduce our focus on him and struggle when we should retreat into his presence for the renewal of our minds. I bet when Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, they had no idea that that singular act was going to save a whole nation from starvation one day. It was all part of Joseph’s destiny and a divine plan by God to redeem his beloved people. However, put yourself in Joseph’s shoes for a moment… a young man enjoying the company of his brothers being suddenly sold into slavery by the people he trusted the most. If we were Joseph with our habit of complaining and rebuking every misfortune as devil designed, would we not have wondered why God allowed it to be our portion despite our faithful service to God? The bible describes Joseph’s total faithfulness to God. He just accepted his new life but knew his God was with him all the way.That confidence in the might of his God meant that in a foreign land, he still served and trusted in his God. his complete trust in God steered the course of his his destiny throughout his life. When we suffer, we sometimes blame the devil and evil forces. How about believing that as baptized Christians, nothing bad can ever befall us without God’s knowledge. Realizing that God knows all things we pass through, can that not be the reassurance we need to be steadfast? What is most […]

Trials Are Not Always Bad for Us

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So everyone before you has tried it and every single time they failed… You are warned and told that you will not like it so the safe thing will be to stay away. You decide to chart a new course, to find a new territory to explore. Yet even as you do the new things you cannot seem to shake off your self-belief concerning the dream you left behind. Yes! Others have failed…. Yes! Nobody has gained…. Every single time they come up with losses. One fact you fail to see is that the only person who has not yet tried is YOU. Perhaps you are the one who needs to do things differently. It has not yet been done in the way “you” will do it. Even if you follow the same patterns the fact that it’s your turn to do it may be all  that is needed to make a difference. It may be all it takes to break the jinx, to crack the egg that only you can see within the stone of doubt that surrounds you. The doubt you see may be the shroud that nature has used to disguise it to everyone as impossible in order to preserve your moment. Some songs have been sung before yet everyone stands still when you open your lips. Your stamp may be all we need to put on it to make it unique. It’s your signature on things that may make or mar their success. How will you know the direction that things will take (good or bad) if you don’t try? Have you not heard that you have to be in it to win it? Nobody ever tried by getting comfortable on the fence. You have to step out of your comfort zone to push boundaries beyond your reach. Only then will you discover the strengths within which is what you should seek. That strength is the ace that resides way up your sleeves. It allows you to express your talent in a unique way that makes your dream accomplishable. You will remain unaware of the full extent of your gifts until you  move towards the unreachable depths, the deep recesses of your soul. Then shall these strengths be released and made available from nature for you to access. So do not try to justify why it may be that you have the answer to the riddle that has never been solved. Do not let man-made reasons which may be true steal your self-belief and leave you wandering endlessly without purpose. If you do not start to fulfill the purpose for which you were born, there will be no balm to calm you down as you struggle within to bring things to being. You must try to get on with things until you find a reason to live. To stop is to fail and To listen can sometimes be to derail from the masterpiece that you alone can create. The piece will only be made with the perfect mixture of ingredients only you possess. What you have inborn can never come to life if you don’t try. So next time you believe, weed self-doubt and conspiracy theories woven by people filled with defeat or over cautiousness. Their intentions may not be to stop you from getting there. They may assume that you will do things the same old ways and end up the same way that they did- in defeat. Sometimes it’s because they care that they keep coming to reinforce the impossibility of your dream. It won’t be your dream if they could explain it all to you. It is only you who can tell what you see deep down when you look within. You can defy the kiln by stepping in and giving it all you’ve got. The shot you take may be all it takes to shatter the barriers. The circumstances that caused their failure may be just what you need to succeed. After all they say, It is the you in you that makes you the you that you are! Believe in yourself… Thank you for reading. You may also like other articles in this series. Click here Photo credit: Pixabay

It’s your turn…so believe in yourself.

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There are sometimes when you cannot help. There are some people you cannot save. There are dreams you cannot make come true. There are circumstances you cannot fix. It’s not because you are weak. It’s not because you are mean. It’s just because you are strong enough to realise you do not have all the answers they seek. It’s only then that you will know that you cannot save everyone you meet. There are times you want to solve a problem so badly it hurts. There are times you have to realise that as much as you want to make things okay they cannot be mended. There are times you get sucked into every problem thinking you hold all the solutions. There are times you get so worked up that you cannot see that you don’t have the answer. Maybe it’s because this puzzle is already broken. Some parts are missing and so it cannot really be solved. It’s not about what you have not done right, it’s just that it cannot be fixed. It is only sincerity that helps you see that it is time to stop trying. To let things go so that they can slip away. It is emotion that keeps you bound to all the reasons why you should hold on to what needs to be set free. Some battles will surely be lost because the victory is too costly to celebrate. So you realise soon enough that although you lose them, the loss is cheaper than the victory. It’s time to take back control… To control how you let things make you feel, to stop the circumstance from pulling you in. So that this time maybe you won’t feel it’s mean to see that is not down to you to always be the one to keep it real. You need to control your emotions and stand firm with the decision that stepping away is what you need to do to help things heal. When you try to find the right words, search deep within you and you  will see that silence will be loud enough to fill the heart that seems to sink in despair. So you find that by standing aside you let things slip back into position. Some relationships cannot be mended. Not because of want of trying but because they have come to a point where like a rope they are severed. By trying to mend them you keep going round in circles and coming back to the beginning, to the point where the problem started and like before they start to pull at your heart. Throw in the towel and choose your battles. If you delay you may lose yourself with each arrow off hurt that finds and strikes you. This thing will eat you like a cancer in your soul. It will take over all your sense of reason. It will feel like the more you try, the more your efforts get frustrated. As you keep trying to fix the unfixable, it damages you more. Soon you will look in the mirror and the one you see is someone who definitely did not exist before all this stuff began. You look deep inside and you know that you cannot even recognise this person you see. The one you have become since you refused to let things be. Instead of letting the circumstances take all control. Perhaps it’s time to take the bold step by saying goodbye to show the strength you have and preserve your self-respect. Self belief keeps you trusting that this road you have chosen is for the best. It may not be good for everyone but what matters is that it is good enough to keep you in check. That’s when you will see that waking up from the slumber of self deceit is far from a display of weakness but rather it’s a show of the strength within. Self-knowledge helps you know that the outcome will be the same again. You can move on to preserve your strength and focus on other battles you can win. If you keep choosing your battles rightly you will realise that things are not static. You will win some and you will lose some. It’s the way it has always been from time immemorial before you even came into being. Thank you for reading You can click here for more articles like this. Photo credit: Pixabay

When it’s time to take back control

One thing people must do is … wrong us. Another thing they always do is …make mistakes. We all know this yet every time it happens,we lament. We get upset and the funniest part is that we are always surprised. The truth is that there is really no need for lamentations and surprises. We just have to accept that it is human nature to do wrong; it is human nature to make mistakes. Nobody is perfect only God is perfect. We too are also guilty of offending others and making mistakes. Many of the errors we commit happen unknowingly without any intention. Unfortunately that does not make us less guilty. Every time we point one finger, the other four keep pointing back at us… and with good reason. It is good for us to sometimes pause when we are about to carry out our actions in order to put ourselves in the other party’s shoes. When we feel offended do we expect understanding? Will we feel we deserve a chance to be allowed to explain? Perhaps we might even desire that our wrongdoings be brought to our attention so that we can make amends. If we feel that any of these questions describe our feeling in different situations, then perhaps we need to take our foot off the anger pedal and just forgive. Forgive others even before they realise they are wrong. Forgiveness is difficult to exercise but powerful enough to free your heart of anger and worry.  Realise that if people were wise, they would not go about offending others…especially you. Don’t let yourself go crazy because of their own errors of judgement. Apart from the bible asking us to do unto others what we want them to do to us, it annoyingly says we have to forgive 70*7 times. Sometimes I get angry with those Jesus’s disciples for asking too many questions. Their inquisitive nature gave rise to this decree. Now we must obey because we can no longer claim ignorance. They allowed Jesus to give a clear order on forgiveness to the extent that Jesus brings it up in the Lord’s Prayer – “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”  Therefore in not so many words, as long as we hold on to grudges, we are asking God not to forgive us! Now it gets even worse – Matthew 5:23 – 24 takes it a step further: i call it the peace making decree: It says if you are about to dance happily to the altar and suddenly remember that “your brother has something against you” then stop and find him, make peace, before you continue that altar dance! Seriously?!?! Not only do you have to make peace with someone you have offended ( which honestly seems logical) , you also have to  look for those who have offended you (who by the way you may not want to hear about) Chai!! Na you do me wrong but na me go beg! To me, illogical!! However, our God up there thinks in ways different from us (Isaiah 55:8). Unfortunately, the way that may seem right to me (like begrudging my brother for wronging me) may lead to my destruction (proverb 14:12). So I have to obey God (1 Samuel 15:22). Obedience is better than sacrifice. One thing I always do even against my own personal wish, is follow God’s commandment. It’s hard but it gets easier with time. Like everything else in life, (“na to start na im hard pass” –meaning that things are more difficult to begin with) but constant practice leads to perfection. If you resolve today to hold no grudge and start making peace with others,before long it will become second nature. Do you know what the best part is? You will be doing God’s will! So today, let our prayer be – God teach us how to forgive all around us, you gave us the ultimate example on the cross, and you asked God to forgive us as we know not what we do. Help us to realise that those who wrong us know not what they do and so deserve our forgiveness in Jesus name, amen. Please make peace with someone today. I know by God’s grace that as you read this piece, the names of those who have wronged you or those you have wronged might spring to your mind. Don’t ignore the urge to make peace, stop holding on to the pain they caused. Take the first step, make that call, and find that person. We all join you in prayers; let Jesus do the rest as he is a man of peace. If you let him, he will pour his peace into your life today and always.  I leave you with a quote by Charlotte Bronte which my father taught me when I was little – “life appears to me to be too short to be spent in registering wrongs and nursing animosity”. Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed this article, then trust me… you will love my meditations too! Look here to see them. Photo credit: Pixabay.

The Dilemma of forgiveness

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I remember when Otito was born… Life went wrong. We felt lost. In an instant everything came crashing down on us. We were at the centre trying to make sense of it all. A simple birth had turned out to be a disaster… One that was heading in the direction of the disaster we had a few years earlier. At times we reached out to others but it felt like the more we did the more we were misunderstood. Social circles disappeared, best friends walked away. Not because they did not care but because they could not care. They lacked in them the ability to be for us the comfort we sought in the new circumstance we found dictating our lives. It would have been easier to bury our head in the sand and pretend that by locking away our feelings, our problem will disappear and Otito will be perfect. But we knew that although the ground we stood on was sinking, we still had to find a way.  It was only then that we were able to raise our head up from the sand. That was when we understood that we were never alone to start with. We were surrounded by people who wanted to help. They were all new to us, but they could only take our hands if we reached out. That is what we saw when we found you …. We saw your smile and it gave us hope. We heard your voice and filled us with joy. It was not the kind of joy or hope that made our pain go away. It was rather the kind that melted away the fear. You have stood by us from near and from afar. You look after us as a family. To you it’s just a job. To us it is a lifeline, a job only you do best. We know sometimes you get it wrong and nobody said you were perfect but the fact that you keep trying means Otito’s life is what fighting for. You see, you came into our lives when we were at our lowest. We thought all hope was lost when our son Otito was diagnosed. But you did one beautiful thing. You never hid anything from us about the full extent of our reality. We have never felt ignored, fooled or taken for granted. You have treated us with respect and preserved our dignity as a family in more ways than one. The more we reached out to you, the more you stood firmly by us. Always reassuring and never pushing us away. We could never have carried this burden without your expert help and strength. For this we are thankful…. The end of the year for most people ushers in the yuletide season but for us it means way more than that. It is always a time of reflection for us as a family… a time when our consciousness is drawn to how lucky we are to still have Otito in our lives. The end of this particular year marks the fourth year in the fight to keep Otito alive and stable. It has been by far the most difficult year for him as a person. In our eyes it has also been the year when the depth of your knowledge about his condition has been tested the most, weighed on a scale but never found wanting. There have been times when we have wondered about the sense and worth of this fight…times when the illness has made Otito less of a boy and more of a patient. Times when he has been reduced into a literal ball of pain curled up in his cot. At those times our strength has been drawn not just by Otito’s zest for life but by the reassurance of your expertise and unrivalled professionalism in carrying out the duty of care to him. We have found our way as a family. We have found our rhythm during this most difficult year but never without you all being beacons shining brightly and pointing us in the right direction. There have been those who touched our lives in ways that have not been medical but which we have found invaluable. Some found us and touched our lives without even knowing us directly. Although they remain far away from us, their contributions and works of charity have doused the fire of stress and chaos that sometimes envelop us as a family. Their efforts have nearly eliminated our confusion and struggle at times. Some others have supported us emotionally, psychologically and even spiritually with their prayers. We thank …. Rays of sunshine, Gosh Charity, Family fund, Newlife Charity, Campbell burns trust…Just to name a few… You plastered a huge smile on our faces when you touched our lives and spilled that ray of hope in Otito’s life. Let your benefactors know that your drops of kindness to us although little to you, were big enough to enlarge our ocean of love and support. He may never personally understand your kindness but we see his positive energy and know that if he could he would appreciate you. We thank you all… For everyone who runs, walks or clicks their glass to different charities we want you to know that your kindness has touched us in different ways and made us believe that love and kindness still reside in this world. We thank the huge online community who have supported us by reading, liking and sharing the content on our website. Your kind comments and e-mails have meant the world to us all here at the Whispering Hope HQ. We also thank The Naked Convos for providing us with a good constructive distraction. We say thank you…. As we step into this New Year with Otito, we have no idea if our rollercoaster ride with him will be bumpier than we are used to. What we hope for is that however high or low it goes, it should be smooth. We know we’re not alone and trust in your presence directly or indirectly in […]

An Ode for Otito as he turns 4…Dedicated to every one who has ever supported us.Thank you!

Acknowledgement and recognition to me are hazardous to creativity. They can be propellers, creating fuel for more creativity. They bring with them the feeling of acceptance, the stamping of somewhat of a pride of place within an endeavour. They provide a sense of establishment to the creator within their sphere of creative ability. Unfair criticisms on the other hand are simply “unfair!”. They have a red flag attached to them as soon as they appear and so the creator perceives them and can instantly with wisdom push them away stopping them from impeding creativity. With good practice, criticisms can be spotted, determined and removed from the creator’s consciousness by simply ignoring and not rising to them. This automatically makes acknowledgement and recognition the preferred accolades to experience. However I find that the fuel they provide to an artist is very risky and highly volatile. They come very quickly but have the tendency of vanishing as quickly as they come. They can raise an artist and propel him/her to more success but the problems they bring to the artist begin when they stop coming. The artist is then left emotionally downcast and tumbles down, in a crash landing manner. The unexpected and abrupt way they become withheld or non-existent in some cases can block the artist and equally impede further creativity. An artist may begin to lose the zeal to keep creating because they feel unable to muster praise and acknowledgement from people. Praises come without warning, creating enjoyment and a good old euphoria of certainty and reassurance to the artist about the authenticity of his/her work. Consequently, it is not surprising that because they begin so suddenly, they can reduce or stop without warning as well. The best types of acknowledgement and recognition are the ones that breed praises that are unsolicited, sincere and really a mere appreciation of the prowess achieved by an artist. Anything other than this will be mere flattery and lip service. Acknowledgement and recognition should be the product of success and not the centre, essence and focus of creativity When all an artist seeks is acknowledgement, it can create a block. Simple pieces become over-analysed by the artist and the need for praises overtake the need for creativity while working. This in turn interferes with the masterpiece set out to be created by the artist. “Will they like this one?” “Should I add this or that to be sensational?” …when these types of questions begin to come up, they encroach and overtake the consciousness of the artist until they weigh down and ultimately extinguish the real creation intended by the artist. There becomes the need to find a new kind of fuel for the artist… a fuel from within. This preferred type of fuel will be the type that can remain constant and not yoyo at will. Just a simple interest and strong conviction about what the artist intends to achieve should be enough to drive creativity. So you simply paint because you like to paint. You run because you love to run and feel you will have it in you to push yourself even further. You write come rain, come shine because you just love to write! Let the acknowledgement and recognition or praise of your work stay outside of you. Let them not consume your consciousness until you cannot live and breathe without them. This attitude relieves the pressure on an artist as s/he functions within their creative sphere.  The do or die nature that is bred by praise seeking becomes reduced. You are a star- once a star always a star. Not all stars will shine as brightly as the Sun or Northern Star but that does not reduce their place in the galaxy as stars. The sky is big enough for all the stars. So stop trying to bring down other artists so that you can look better and as such gain acknowledgement from others. Not everyone is blessed to create masterpieces every day and you reduce your chance of creating that masterpiece each time you tilt your eyes away from your work. Each time you spend chasing praises can be better spent refining your masterpiece. Some activists were not loved while they lived. They just felt very strongly about the causes they stood for and many were killed in the process. If they were depending on the acknowledgement and total acceptance of people, there would have been no basis for the inspiration they now posthumously endear in people today. So today, if you’re guilty of seeking this vain glory, you should consider refocusing your energy on your talent and work. When you are successful, glory will come... Success has always been the mother of acknowledgement. Success has many family members- nuclear and extended. But failure on the other hand is always an orphan. So as my people will say in Nigerian pidgin “Ushay face ya work o!” Thank you for reading If you enjoyed reading this article there are many others like it on this website. You can find them here. Photo credit: Pixabay

The danger of seeking acknowledgement and recognition in the creative sphere.

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This story began here last week. By morning after an exhausting night battling with my emotions, controlling my temper, crying, breathing… I felt calmer. Later that day, my son was transferred back to the parent hospital to my excitement. They thought he was now safe for the trip. I did not think he was any different from how he was the previous night though. He had been observed overnight and all was fine. We got to the parent hospital later that day. Sadly, no sooner had I arrived the main hospital, than another battle erupted about whether or not to restart a particular medication. Before I could say Jack, the doctor smacked in my face the fact that if I wanted my way, I had to append my signature in my son’s notes to show that it was my idea to go against their advice. He had not even given me any advice regarding this medication. So how can I be going against an advice that I had not yet received? I told him to explain this advice and he did. He said he had assumed I knew already. After a thorough explanation I was not only convinced about the plan of action but fully in support of my child remaining on the medication in question. It appeared to me that the hospital we got discharged from had something to do with this alien attitude towards my simple questions. I could not help but feel that somehow they had fed this back to his hospital. In all the years I had used this hospital I had never been asked to sign anything. I had been allowed to disagree, voice my opinions and concerns, ask questions and I had listened for answers which in most cases were satisfactory. I was used to being given thorough explanations about the plans of actions being made for my son before they were executed. During these explanations they accommodated my questions and clarified all my concerns. I would not  have understood my son’s illness as much as I did if not for the understanding and patient way things had been explained to me over the years by the same doctors. It really was a shock to me that this behaviour sprang up from out of blue after being transferred back from the hospital that day. It was too much of a coincidence. I appreciate that it is both very difficult to listen and to be listened to when one communicates too emotionally. However, being the professionals, I believe they should have been trained on crisis management. It sometimes feels like parents risk being tagged by some of them as crazy as soon as their ideas about treating their kids are at cross purposes with those of these professionals. It feels like parents are not allowed to be angry, upset or frustrated. Like they are not human beings expressing their feelings. It feels sometimes like opposing opinions held by parents become a recipe for their psychoanalysis by some healthcare professionals. This I think is not only unfair but unnecessary. Many parents feel like they have to assume a demeanour of coolness, put up an act of calmness for this reason. Deep down, parents are sometimes not in agreement but for fear of being over-analysed by these professionals, they practice this nicely and expertly until it becomes second nature. Soon enough despite constant mental rehearsal, the shroud of coolness slips and their true feelings erupt. This does not make the parent crazy, it just makes them angry, frustrated, tired- but mostly human. We see these feelings been accommodated from people -everyone else, and they are seen as normal forms of expression. Many are even proverbially allowed five minutes of madness but not parents with sick children. One will feel that having the added stress of caring for a chronically ill child will earn a parent even an extra minute of madness but rather it removes any such allowance. As a parent or carer, you can’t help but feel discriminated against every time you express those same feelings. How can a question about the safety of your child be the bone of contention when the issue at hand is your simple inability to accept a treatment plan for your child? How do you go from not wanting something for your child to endangering them just because you dare to express your disagreement? What happened to making parents see sense? Where did the word crisis management disappear to? What happened to finding ways to calm the parent down? Perhaps discussing such issues later could be thought of as a solution? Just so people know parents experience feelings of entrapment because they have disabled children and it’s totally unfair. In my case I had to have a chat with the member of staff to express these feelings and luckily got listened to and understood. I pointed out that parents are mostly misunderstood. I feel this misunderstanding is because most of the healthcare professionals are not in touch with our reality. It’s quite hard for human beings to empathize with a situation they know nothing about in terms of experience. Unfortunately as much as healthcare professionals feel that they deal with sick children on a daily basis, such proximity is not synonymous with experiencing dealing with the same sick children as their parent or carer. The stresses we all go through as parents and carers on a daily basis, the emotions we confront, the strengths we have to access within ourselves to keep all together, the highs and lows are just a few of the things we deal with to steer our family ship and keep things on track. These are not what these healthcare professionals have to deal with in their own lives. Our children will always be a job to them while most of what constitutes their job… is our life. However in the end we all- parents, carers, healthcare professionals, staff and so on, should have the interests […]

Hospital life: Is there a gag order on parents? PART 2

There is indeed no use wasting time thinking what life has made you become. The past is in the past, the present is now and you can do something about it especially things that are within your control. The future remains unforeseen and we only hope it turns out in our favour. The uncertainties in life mean that nobody can claim complete mastery of it. We just have to keep up the daily struggle that is, for those who are able mentally and physically. We all have our individual idiosyncrasies and sincerely speaking, our paths in life are tailored towards different directions leading to our individual destinations. For me, the past three years have been a mission that only God has been my fortress. The waves and tides of life have tossed me up and down but my resilience has seen me through it all. I am the eldest of a family of four. My other siblings are all married and supposedly happy with kids and affluence. My parents to the glory of God are still alive and kicking. My relationship with Stanley was known to all in my locality, we both graduated from the university the same year but we were posted to different states to complete the compulsory one year national youth service corps. I was in the south precisely Ebonyi state while Stanley was posted to Zamfara state up north were the sun showed no mercy to the inhabitants. Distance did not hinder the love we had as we inter visited during the service year. Four months to the end of service year, Stanley visited and announced he would be with me till some weeks to “passing -out”. I was overjoyed but at the same time concerned as to how he could pull this off knowing how strict the zonal coordinator in his place of service was.  Stanley simply asked me to calm down that all was sorted before he left Zamfara. It was the best time in my life… We went to the pictures, shopped, clubbed, quarrelled and made up with hot sex! Three months flew by so quickly. I was so happy and did not want the fairytale to end. Stanley preferred to stay indoors a lot. It was so sweet that we could not seem to have enough of each other. However, I woke up very worried so I had told Stanley that I was feeling unwell. The truth was that my period was late. We had thrown caution into the air. I could not blame Stanley totally but…my thoughts were cut short because all I could think of was how to leave the house to get some pregnancy test strips to confirm. There was no need to worry him. That windy evening as I was on my way back from the pharmacy, I bumped into Ezekiel. Ezekiel was Stanley’s friend who had recently gone AWOL. It was definitely lovely to see him. As I approached him, he wore a sombre expression. “It’s so good to see you looking strong “, he said embracing me tightly. “How do you mean?”, I asked puzzled. He met my gaze with a surprised look. His next words confused me. “Stanley died in an auto crash on his way back to Zamfara from home”, he said. I burst into laughter. It was the most ridiculous thing ever. “Are you ok? I asked wondering if he was drunk. “I left Stanley in my room and he has been here for the past three months”. I added. The look in his eyes was scary. “That can’t be possible” he screamed. “I attended his funeral personally and assumed your absence to be down to grief”, he blurted. I felt like punching Ezekiel really hard. He was speaking out of character. He was either drunk or sick himself. Stanley was in my room and only stayed back because I tricked him. I felt I had to buy my pregnancy test kit on my own. It was all a bit awkward. I decided to take the silly Ezekiel along with me to prove his craze. This was certainly an expensive joke. We got to the room and it was locked from outside as instructed by Stanley because he didn’t want any disturbance from my neighbours. Stanley was nowhere to be found when I opened the door. It felt a bit eerie when I walked in. I looked around the room but he wasn’t there. His bags were gone, his slippers where not on the doormat. I checked the bathroom and even his towel was gone…gone! There was no trace of him. I was shaking all over and screaming hard. There was just nothing. I was downcast. I sank into my puff. It all made no sense. Buzzzzz! My mobile phone began to ring. It was my mum. I picked it up and she was telling me to be strong because she had some news…. “It’s not true … don’t say it mum” I cried, interrupting her. “Is Stanley really dead?” I was weeping like a baby now. It was then that I felt his hands. He held me close. I turned around but Ezekiel was still standing by the door where I left him. Shhhhh…..Shhhh…. he whispered. I relaxed into the puff and my phone fell beside me but I could still hear my mum. Her voice pierced through the quietness in the room. Very softly….very distant … but very definite. “Yes baby, Yes…I am so sorry. His mum just left.” Mum said. “Are you still there?” mum asked I was whimpering. The sorrow hit me hard. It all did not make sense. I shut my eyes and I was in his arms again. It was warm. It made me smile but I knew I had to be strong. He was gone… I began to cry hysterically as the realisation hit me. I cried….mum could hear me. “Sorry baby…are you going to be ok, or will you come home?” mum asked. I just cried…. I woke up […]

A day never to be forgotten… The day my cookies crumbled!!!!

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“You may not be aware that some of the doctors and nurses return home to their own disabled children”. That was what the staff I spoke to told me at the end of what was a long venting speech from me. The subject was about the frustrating weekend the other health professionals providing care for my son had left me with. Luckily for me this nurse provided a listening ear. As he said those words, they hit me like a ton of bricks and they sunk right into what I like to think of as my understanding. It had been a rather long weekend. It was just Sunday morning but it felt like there had been six days in that weekend. My son had developed a new complication which meant the solution lay beyond our current hospital. Salvation awaited him in another hospital within town and in no time we were on our way to obtain it. We arrived late that night and by morning the necessary investigations were carried out. In less than a few hours, the new hospital had delivered on its promise and saved my son from deteriorating any further. I was happy but soon, I began to get restless, irritable and very protective of my son as it appeared that the hospital had no discharge plan for him. They only seemed to want things done their own way. This was a different hospital with totally alien structures to me. It was not like anything I was used to in the hospital I came from. I felt like I was surrounded by highly opinionated doctors who were more interested in reminding me that they were in charge rather than listening to my concerns. My son was too delicate for any trial and error. Moreover, if all was completed, and they had delivered as promised, I wondered why we were not on our way back! My frustrations rioted within me to the point of chaos. I could not bear it anymore and just had to be heard. I asked them to discharge my son immediately. They tried without success to convince me that he had to be observed as stable before releasing him back to the hospital where we was transferred from. As long as I was not getting what I wanted, I was getting more frustrated and feeling that they were not listening to me. It was so exhausting. I was making no progress. In no time, I started to cry. The tears were anything but calming. I felt even more frustrated and helpless. Well in the end, after all, I had to stay. The staff did not budge. They cited his safety as the main reason for their decision to keep him in. If that was supposed to calm me down it was the wrong move. It rather made me more upset. Where they implying I wanted to endanger my son by requesting he be transferred back to our original hospital? It was ridiculous. They sounded like they loved him more than I did. Suddenly I felt like they were trying to take over, my role as his mom. I was the one meant to protect him, to keep him safe… Not them! To be continued… Thanks for reading. Photo credit: Pixabay You may also like other write ups like these.They make up the series I fondly call The Hospital life

Hospital life: Is there a gag order on parents? PART 1

Walking out of my room today I had a lot on my mind but try as I may, I just could not settle. It was like all my racing thoughts wanted me to think them all at once! It was the craziest feeling…my thoughts all wanting to be thought about at the exact same time. My heart raced, I blinked too many times. On the outside, I was really cool as a cucumber but inside I was anything but cool…I felt mad! A lot had been happening in my life and the last few hours saw me reaching the end of my tether. I had so much on my mind to the extent that I could not even complete one thought before another sprung up, crushing whatever was initially on my mind. I tried to refocus on the new thought but then another sprang up, then another and yet another…. I found myself going down the lift, still standing tall when in reality I was about to be crushed by these endless array of thoughts. My emotions were running riot. I just wanted to scream. I wanted to cry too and then laugh all at once! If I had more than one mouth then that would have made my life easier. At that point I realised that like my thoughts, I could not even choose a suitable way to express my feelings. Tip…tap… tip…tap…. I could hear the sound of my feet behind me (or so it seemed). I walked down the long corridor that led outside. I desperately needed to calm down. The thought that I was by myself  at last was very comforting. Honestly I would have messed up any attempt to speak to anyone the way I was feeling. I focused on the sound of my feet…. Tip… tap… tip… tap…. Then the giant sliding doors flung open on my approach. That now- beginning- to- be- relaxing sound was drowned out by the sound of rain hitting the hard ground of the streets. I stood under the canopy at the entrance and let myself watch the rain as it fell. I looked up and the sky was grey– very grey. It looked even greyer today. I followed the rain with my eyes and began to see everywhere it landed…. It landed on cars that in turn splashed the puddles on people as the cars swished by on the street. It landed on a woman I remember her because she wore a white jacket, grey frilly skirt and very high heels (I wondered if she would not have been better off indoors as those shoes were definitely not safe in the rain). I smiled as she jumped to avoid the splash from the tyres in vain. It was such a funny sight. I just smiled. That was my first smile that day… Pitter…patter…pitter…patter…. The raindrops made a cacophony of sorts as it hit different surfaces. The streets, the rooftops , cars, people… in fact everywhere! The strong wind added character to the rain. Wooooooh…woooooh…. The wind seemed to scream fiercely. It blew up the rain cover as a mum pushed her toddler in a buggy. The little tot screamed as some drops splashed on her. It was a girl (or at least I thought she was with all the pinkness surrounding the otherwise cosy buggy). Next was the turn of a dog that ran by looking for shelter… then down the road. There were men in reflective vests pushing wheelie bins into a big green truck Beep….beep…. The truck blared from its stationary position as the bins were being raised into the van to empty their contents. Afterwards, another group of men were standing in raincoats and seemed to be arguing about something down the road. It just felt like they were all putting on a film show for my viewing pleasure. From where I stood, I felt well entertained. As the rain subsided I ventured in. I needed to be a part of this day. I could not resist taking in the view. Green trees, a hedge with a little fence, children behind running about happily at play. I only managed to walk down the road and decided to return. The strong smell of coffee drew me instead. I decided to follow it to the Costa shop where I relaxed and savoured a cup. Right there when I sat down to have my coffee, I realised that not once had I even remembered to focus on the thoughts that forced me out of the building in the first place. So I decided there and then to take at least a walk at the height of my emotion laden day. The fresh air and outdoors can have enough distraction in them to keep you calm and possibly a bit more settled. Have you discovered any other way to keep yourself more distracted on a stressful day? Please leave a comment below to tell us all about it. Thank you for reading You may also find more stories like this here Photo credit: Pixabay

How to stay calm on a stressful day

Wow…what a pleasure to have you here this week for the conclusion of this story. For those who do not know we had a Part 1 and Part 2 before this one. It may be worth catching up on those to give you the full gist. So without any further ado, here is how the story concludes… Now it all made sense! The call earlier … the insistence on her attending today. He did say the next appointment was in two months time. What he did not say and should have said was that she did not have 2 months. She had cancer. Surely she had no lumps and bumps. Amamda sat for the next half hour panicking and worrying on that seat while smiling at anyone who walked past. She was trying to hold it all in and not break down. As she reached for her phone in her bag, a nurse walked up to her. Why is she smiling at me like she is pitying me already? Amamda thought. “Hi Mrs Oki, my name is Nikki your nurse for today”, she said “Hi Nikki, you can call me Amamda”, she replied “I will like you to take a seat for me on this armchair”, the nurse said “No I am very fine here where I am”, Amanda replied “Please seat on this chair because I want to take bloods from you and its more comfortable”, the nurse added “No thank you”, Amanda said “You see, all the patients seat here. This seat is meant for patients”, the nurse said a bit sharply “No thank you”, Amamda said to the nurse again but this time with her voice slightly raised “I am not one of your patients”, Amanda added sternly. With that the nurse agreed and looked at Amamda rather surprisingly. She was not really sure why the lady was being upset about sitting on a chair but if she was fine there, then she did not mind doing the bloods from her current position on the smaller chair. Amamda was a bit upset about the nurse. Why was she being so pushy? she thought. It was really surprising to hear the nurse confirm her worst fears. She just addressed her as her patient. Amamda was very happy that she rejected it. No way! What will happen to her family if this was really true? She could feel herself trembling all over. She needed to get some fresh air. It was all a bit too much for her to handle. She reached for her phone again but the battery had died. She cursed the silly phone under her breath as she made her way back to the lobby where she sat in initially. There was a water dispenser on the side and so she made herself drink 2 cups of water to calm down. The nurse called Amamda later. Amamda was quite thankful that she had walked out earlier because she felt a lot calmer and ready to face her reality. The nurse turned out to be a nice lady. She offered her a cup of tea which she accepted. The blood tests were endless. It felt like 100mls of blood had been taken from her. The nurse filled many bottles and labelled them carefully before leaving. Later she ushered Amamda into the doctor’s office for her appointment. “Hello Amamda, I spoke to you on the phone earlier. I am Dr Gupta. Thank you so much for attending. I just thought it will be easier to get your appointment out of the way so you won’t just be left wondering endlessly about the next thing to do”, the doctor said Hmm what a nice sermon, Amamda thought. He is obviously preparing me for the news. “So how are you in yourself generally?” He asked “Fine thank you”, Amamda replied. “No coughs, cold, pains? You know all the usual signs of ill health?”,  He asked “No… none at all. I feel very fit and well”, She said “Ok that’s fine”,  he said reassuringly I wonder why he is not dropping the bombshell! “So why did you have the blood test for B12 done.It seems a bit unsusual”. He asked while he tapped away on the computer at his desk. Really? He is still making small talk? I wonder how long before he spills the beans! “Well, I was experiencing severe abdominal pains and decided to go to my doctor for tests. I had swabs taken and scans were done but nothing was found. In the end, we did blood tests and nothing popped up apart from the high B12. I was told it could not cause me any pains but there you go”, Amamda explained. “Are the pains still present?”,  He asked looking at her for the first time “No they are not. They turned out to be as a result of my contraceptive coil. Sorry I forgot to mention that”, Amamda said “Oh that’s ok”, Dr Gupta said, “go on”, he urged “Well, the scan showed that my coil was lying very low in my uterus and the gynaecologist confirmed that such low lying coils could cause abdominal and back pains”, Amamda replied. “Do you still have the coil?”, he asked “Yes I do”, Amamda said “That’s fine then”, said the doctor “Why? Is it a problem? Only I have an appointment to replace it in a few weeks. I am in the process of doing my gynaecology swabs to make sure that I have no infections before the coil swap is done you see. Should I just get rid of it and not swap the old coil for a new one? Could it be why my B12 is high?” Amanda asked looking very worried. “Oh no, I was just asking routine questions. The Coil is fine and not the reason for the high levels. There is really nothing to worry about. Sometimes these levels go up and down. With the absence of any other symptoms, and the previous […]

The appointment part 3

Thanks for joining us again this week. For those just joining us, the story began last week here. So for the rest of us, let’s dig in… The receptionist asked her to wait in the second waiting room. Amamda felt very alarmed as she walked in. There were very huge arm chairs all around the room. They were a very sad looking pale blue colour. They were arranged in a circle around a large hall. There must have been about 15 of them. On each arm chair were 2 large white pillows. Beside the large armchairs were smaller chairs, a foot stool and some magazines. They also had a drip stand next to each arm chair. She noticed a fan in the centre of the room. A large wall painting hung on the wall across the room too. As she walked towards the circle of chairs, she noticed that  the armchairs behind the large fridge were occupied with patients. They sat on the chair with their arms resting on each pillows. Their drip stands were in use as drips in grey cellophanes hung down from them while the drips were inserted into their left or right arm. Their arms looked very comfortably placed on the large pillows. Some of the patients had their second pillow behind their heads while others rested their other free arms on the spare pillow. They all each had a relative sitting next to them on the smaller chair. While some patients rested their feet on the footstools provided. As Amamda entered the room, she noticed that the room was bigger than it looked to her as she approached. It was surreal. All these people were having their chemotherapy treatments for cancer. As she sat on the chair next to the door, she made sure it was the smaller one meant for the relatives that she sat on. Although she reached the large armchair first before the smaller one, she did not allow herself to be lured by its plush and cosy look. Amamda was sure that sitting on it would tempt her fate. “Jinx her”. From where she sat she wore a solemn and troubled expression. She had not still been told why she was here. The Doctor who called her earlier was nowhere to be seen. The last blood test she had in her local clinic showed that she had elevated b12 levels. She remembered the doctor’s worried expression as he scanned his system for her results. He seemed concerned but clueless as to why these levels were elevated in her blood. His replies to her questions proved he had no idea why. She remembered asking if it was to do with her vegetarian diet. However, the doctor said that would have dropped her b12 levels rather than pushed it up. Amamda remembered searching the internet for reasons and it all pointed to cancer or liver problems. It was all so alarming because she really took good care of her liver. No drinking or smoking. She exercised regularly and drank lots of water. As far as she was concerned, she did everything right. What she could not still understand was why she had been brought to a cancer ward. Did she have cancer? The thought made her gasp. Then suddenly the realisation hit her. Perhaps the city hospital doctor knew exactly why her b12 was elevated. It was cancer! …to be continued next week! Thanks for reading. You can also find the first part here People who read this article also clicked on others like it here. Photo credit: Pixabay

The appointment part 2

Oh dear! What a day. I honestly did not want to write a word today because I have had one of those days. But who doesn’t? So in my usual practice what you preach kind of way, I decided to soldier on, pull myself up and drop a line. I had series of meetings with different doctors today regarding the best course of action to move my son’s treatment forward. Honestly I felt like all my pleas to go in a different direction were just falling on deaf ears. I guess it is also a dilemma for the doctors too. At the end of the day they also wanted what was best for my boy. It’s just that I was not seeing any sense in their argument. Fred has suffered with acute and chronic Pancreatitis for a few months now. In fact that was the primary reason for this admission. Unfortunately, in the mean time he bagged some other complications along the way (you don’t want to know the details of that!) Pancreatitis is an excruciatingly painful condition that attacks the pancreas in the gut. In fact I met a lady who refused to discuss the subject simply because she had suffered with it for 2 weeks previously. She was so worried that by talking about her experience she would jinx her life and re-invite the pancreatitis into her system. She scarily likened it to a constant labour type pain. Panky (as I like to refer to the horrid disease) struck my son last year. He was in a lot of pain all the time. Unfortunately being a non-verbal child meant that there was really no way for him to clearly communicate this to us. For my son, being non-verbal meant an inability to communicate with words which led to frustration and ultimately crying. The bad news about cry-communication was that there was no way of telling what each cry sequence represented. For example I don’t want more food, cry. I want to go out, cry. I want the TV channel changed, cry. I have a dirty nappy, cry and I really need to be changed, cry. We had to always guess what he wanted. It was an elimination process until we could isolate and narrow down his needs. At the time, he cried constantly. So we took him into hospital and he had many tests. The results did not indicate Panky’s presence. So we just honestly put it down to an attention seeking behaviour. His school thought the same too. I decided to ignore the constant crying but unfortunately things got to a height when he cried non-stop for 2 straight days. Something was definitely not right. By the time I took him to the hospital, he was in excruciating pain at which point the diagnosis was made. Well fast forward 6 months later and we are still here waiting for the Panky’s departure! (it had definitely overstayed it’s welcome). We are not only dealing with Panky but also all the friends it has dragged in without even any notice (by this i mean the various complications as a result of it). At one point, he was in so much pain that he had to be on very strong pain killers to snuff out the pain. The problem was that he was nearly snuffed out alongside. As soon as the medicines in question were administered, he slept off instantly (and for hours too) waking up in pain for which he got given more pain relief (and obviously going right back to the sleep from which he had just finally arisen). Although we wanted him pain free, we lost our son to an endless marathon cycle of sleep, groggy awakenings and painful screams. We also felt helpless as parents. It was so sad to watch especially as in no time, he seemed to be a bit resistant to the medicines. There was also the real fear that all the concussion of painkillers could strike with horrendous side effects. The doctors (in their infinite wisdom) at the height of the pain decided to bypass feeding him orally into his stomach. They fed him an intravenous (IV) nutrition called TPN. The pain did not disappear immediately. It took about 2 months of not feeding him orally (into his stomach) to relegate Panky to the background. He was then weaned off the painkillers as his pain subsided. The IV feed idea has been God send because although Panky is still in the picture, not feeding into his stomach has meant that we have seen less of the patient (that has defined my son since he was born) and more of the boy- my little boy. That was all just to give you an idea of how the past two weeks of near pain disappearance has felt for the whole family including all the staff here. We have watched him play, scream happily, hum his songs and become a little mister full of character (at one point waking the whole ward up at 2am with his sing-songs!). He has been the best he has been since he was born. I never knew he could glow as much as he has done. It has been a pleasure to behold. However, amidst all the joy, the presence of Panky was never forgotten. It loomed in the background reminding us of its existence by sending sporadic pangs of pain every now and again. Unfortunately, the time for the IV TPN feed seems to have come to an end. The doctors in their numbers  have come in today to tell me (in not so many words) that we have to restart his oral feeds again. Now, we all know that will be equal to inviting Panky to resume its attack on my son! I can just see it accepting that invitation with all pleasure and leaving us all helpless. But they insist that it is a chance we have to take. He cannot survive long term on the IV TPN feeds. […]

Hospital life – Real effects of Pancreatitis (Panky) on our son

What am I doing here? Amamda wondered as she sat in the reception at the City hospital. She remembered walking in through the door earlier on. It was supposed to be a routine check up to see why her blood result came back high for vitamin B12. She wondered if she had walked in through the wrong door. Amamda was a 35year old mum of two lovely boys. She was in a very good place in her life. The boys had finally started school- big school. It was time to start focussing on her for once. She was not sure what to do with all the time she suddenly had. What she knew though, was that she was going to have fun. Adi was the man of her dreams. They had been married for 10 years. They first met back at university and again during their placement at the local hospital. Adi was a medical doctor and Amanda was a nurse. They often met in the car park. It always seemed like they worked the same shifts. Although in different departments, it was not unusual to cross each others’ paths daily. It was a small hospital after all. They struck their relationship one day at a colleague’s party. It wasn’t long before they became an item. After seeing each other for a year, Adi proposed. Their wedding was the talk of the hospital. They invited everyone to Greece where they tied the knot. It was a lovely weekend away for nearly everyone in the office. To be fair, they all needed it with the kind of hours they worked. The only people who missed out were the ones who had shifts that weekend. Amamda smiled as she remembered her nuptials. She was not sure why she was having these thoughts. She knew she was scared. She wished Adi was with her but he couldn’t have been. He was babysitting the boys because she had to attend this appointment. It was a mere formality- this appointment. Her doctor just wanted the specialist in the hospital to go through the blood test results with her. She remembered chatting with Adi an hour earlier. They had an argument about what pyjamas was better for the boys because the weather was a bit warm. As they argued and giggled, the house landline rang. Adi picked it cursing under his breath as he did. “Are you expecting a phonecall this afternoon?”, he asked “No dear, just pick up quickly before it cuts off “, Amamda said feeling a bit irritated by Adi’s constant moaning over picking the house phone. Sometimes, she wondered why they bothered paying for the landline if no one cared to pick it up. “Pimmmm Pimmm”, the phone buzzed quietly. “Hello”, Adi said Silence… “It’s your call”, Adi announced triumphantly as he handed back the phone to Amamda. He dashed out the living room. He needed to sort this Pyjamas mix-up out so the boys could get an early night while he tidied up some work. “Hello… Amamda here, who is this please?” “Oh hi, Mrs Oki, Is it ok to call you Amamda?” ,the caller asked “Yes, certainly”, Amamda replied “I am Dr Gupta from the City hospital. I was wondering if you were running late as your appointment was for 4pm. It has just gone past four now”, the caller informed her. “Oh dear, I beg your pardon because I completely forgot”, Amamda said apologetically. “Can you still make it today? Only the next appointment is 3 months away. I can wait another half hour for you”, Dr Gupta said kindly. “Oh that is very kind of you. I shall be there shortly”, Amamda said thankfully “See you soon then”, Dr Gupta concluded. “Ok, see you…and thanks” Amamda said finally and hung up. It was after that phone call that Amamda rushed off and found herself sitting in this room. She had followed the directions the Dr gave her during the phone call. She remembered that he did say it was the Macmillian unit. He also said it was directly opposite Uriah Ward for clarity. She looked up on the wall behind the receptionist who had asked her to sit here earlier just to be sure and the sign still read “MACMILLIAN UNIT”. She was definitely in the right place. It would have been a shame to keep the nice doctor waiting. …to be continued. Those who read this also clicked on others like it here Photo credit: Pixabay

The appointment Part 1

My relationship with Flora started sixteen months ago. I was initially troubled about this whole idea but at the same time eager to keep it secret from my wife and three grown children. The relationship blossomed beyond my imaginations and i wholeheartedly looked forward to our meetings with much gusto!! Flora my midnight lover is the sweetest thing after lollipop. The love we shared was equal to none. It never lacked a spark. Poppy-love  is a speck when compared with the undiluted love between Flora and yours truly. We had memorable moments anytime i had her in my mouth. I kept Flora away from the reach of unwanted adversaries (my wife and kids). I made sure her ambience lacked nothing. She has been my everyday solace and escape from this hot planet set on fire by humans.  No day has elapsed without me having a taste of her ever since i met her at the shops in the ever busy Trident mall in Cardiff. Sadly, our love went sour last night when i came back from work. There had been a power failure all day and nobody was around to have it fixed. Flora had lost her cool and wasn’t in any mood to cheer me up.I couldn’t have her that night as a result and that made me sick. To be frank, i was miserable all evening resulting in me having nightmares when i finally slept. I reached for Flora in my dreams to no avail. I was shattered , cried all through the moments of rejection in the dream and woke up sweating profusely. As i opened my eyes today, i prayed and vowed to always keep her sweet at all cost. I rushed to the secret room we shared only to find that Jonathan my nephhew was all over Flora.. I almost exploded with rage but held my steam as he explained the whole room was smelling when he walked in and had to empty my Flora yogurt in the bin….. Dr Love as we all call him is one of our WH writers. He is a professional by day and clutches his pen and paper by night… Thanks for reading. Do you know that you can now submit a post like this? To find out how, click here. Perhaps you fancy reading from others in the community? Find other articles here. Thank you Photo credit; Pixabay

Flora my midnight lover… By Dr Love Asiok

I wish I could take all the pain, all the hurt, all the struggles you have all been through all this time. I wish I could wipe it all away and make everything okay I wish I could tap you, wake you up and then we will all be happy that it was all a dream. But my love it is real, so real it hurts so bad. I can’t do that- make it go away as much as that is all I want to do. What I can do though is take your hand in mine and sit right here beside you. Although I am miles away I will do my best to be here for you as best as I can. What I can do is be here for you and ask you to let me know what you want me to do What I can do is pray for you and all the family especially during this trying time. What I can do is stand by you and make you know that I care too. This life is a puzzle with more questions than answers. It is ok to feel relieved by the knowledge that she is now gone, now free, now at peace It is ok to know that she has no more pain and she is now at rest It is ok to be reassured that because she lived a good life, she must be now resting with our lord It is ok to lay awake at night in tears and only long for her It is ok to wonder where she is now and if she is fine there It is ok to wish you could see her one last time to tell her how much you love her But one thing is sure she knows and never doubted how much you all cared for her She is not alone but in a better place where she can soar like an eagle Though you are far from her, she is in a better place where nothing can hold her back. Though we can’t see her now, she is waiting for us until we are all reunited with her never to be parted again Though she was weak and frail, she is now beautiful again. She is now stronger than she ever was. She is now our angel interceding especially for us all What we can do now is remember her as she was. What we have now are all the memories of her from the first time we set our eyes on her and felt her warmth to the moment    we said goodbye. Keep in mind that when the ones we love answer the sweet call. They are set free. No longer   trapped in a body, in a place or restricted by time. So we can carry them around with us in our hearts and never be far away from them. Let us not dwell mainly on all her pain and tears (though we will never lose sight of them). Let us at this time remember all her laughter, all her achievements, all her successes, all her struggles ,all her joys. Let us not only remember the pictures of her that were the most recent ones Let us not only dwell on the pain we could not save her from. Let us not only remember the things that make us cry. We will celebrate her life in total. Let us flick through the album that was her whole life….every day, every moment both those we shared with her and those she had by herself I cannot imagine the way you all feel now. But I can assure you that it will get better. There will be smiles again in your home when you think about her. Time will make everything better for you all. Try not to drown in this grief as large and as deep as it is. Don’t suffer alone… Let   those you love in. They only want to help. The only want to be there for you in the way they can. They may not always get it right but at least let them try. It is true that we all may not know how you feel but it doesn’t stop us all caring. If you reach out we will be here to catch you, to hold you. But we too on our part will let you work through your emotions and feelings the best way that you can. Only know that I am here if you need me. God will bless and console you during this difficult time. May her beautiful soul and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God Rest in Peace….. Amen Thank you for reading. You may also enjoy some of my musings here Photo credit: Pixabay  

Take heart my love…

Hi everyone. Thanks for tuning in again today for another Nigerian film review. You know how we do it! I tell you a little bit about a film I have watched and we check on our PASS scale to see what the film scores. Today, the film under review is called “My sister’s cross” I was very excited as soon as I saw Queen Nwokoye as one of the actresses in this film. My guess was that she was going to be a trouble making gbagbati as usual. However on this occasion, she was rather a peace maker. Well a type of peace maker. Yes I say a type of because she was a no nonsense peacemaker. In fact no sooner had I adjusted to her kindness than she got provoked into a heated argument with her step mum and your guess is as good as mine regarding her reaction. Well, I will get you up to speed. Queen Nwokoye acted as Nwanneka who had two sisters Nwando and Chizaram. She appeared to be the bread winner because the first scene showed her splitting firewood and doing a rather manual manly job. She lived with her sisters in her deceased father’s compound. However, on the other wing of the house was her step mum Achalugo who had two children Ikenna and Nmeri. Her son was all for family peace and unity. However his mum Achalugo and his sister did everything to cause chaos and anarchy between their section of the family and Nwanneka’s. Achalugo the step mum tried to stop Nwanneka and her sisters from rightfully feeling free in their home. She even tried to stop them cultivating their late father’s land but did not succeed in convincing the elders ndi ichie. They urged them all to live in peace. Queen loved her sisters so much to the point of turning down several marriage proposals from well meaning suitors. She did not want to be distracted from giving her siblings the care and attention they needed since they were all orphans. In the end, Her sisters later moved on positively with their lives. Chizaram won a scholarship for further sponsored study while Nwando got married to a rich man. She was genuinely pleased. However shortly after her sisters moved on, she stopped hearing from them. A visit to the city to find out about their welfare led to the discovery of some harsh realities about the true character of her sisters. This had harsh consequences for her and in the end she paid an ultimate price. The film unfolded nicely. The storytelling was quite fair. There were a few unnecessary scenes because they did not need 5 parts to tell this story. I think the film could have done with extra editing. In my opinion it would have saved time and made the story more interesting. I feel the storyline was a bit exaggerated and so I did not find the conclusion very believable. All in all it was a good watch.As you know, that is my opinion. You will have to watch it and tell me what you feel.  Am I being too hard on them? As for sound quality, it was ok. No disharmony whatsoever between audio and visuals. I also thought that despite the film length, it was engaging and the scenes flowed nicely. The acting was very well done. The actors were all believable. There were a few newcomers but honestly they did themselves proud. There is always room for improvement but for today, we can pass them on that one.So for what you have been waiting for. The PASS scale Picture&Production  2** Acting                        3*** Storytelling                2** Sound                         3*** Overall, the film unanimously gets a 3*** from all of us here at Whispering hope. You can watch the film for free on Youtube here. Don’t forget to come back to tell us what you think. Photo credit: Pixabay    

Film review: My sisters cross

Without play at GOSH, the hospital will be a mere brick wall filled with injections, medications procedures and ultimately “PAIN” for our children. They will otherwise be left frightened and confused about the meaning of all they have to cope with on a daily basis here at GOSH. Play helps mirror the intended reality that every person should rightfully experience especially in their childhood when the best memories that carry one through life are forged. Unfortunately, illness and disease try to snatch these away from our innocent children but the existence of play here at GOSH, means that the horribleness is reduced and at times eliminated from the lives of our children. Play achieves this by creating the ability for children to escape their present and sometimes entrapping realities. It then catapults them into an imaginative realm where they can feel safe. During play, children can calmly relax and be at peace. At GOSH this experience is guided painstakingly by the play specialists. The constant use of play to assist patients here at GOSH helps create a new type of reality for our children. It helps them forge new positive connections with the staff involved in their care. It reduces the confusion that leads to fear in a young mind regarding the incessant interruptions and interventions needed to keep them safe. Play also provides a conducive atmosphere for patients to interrelate and communicate appropriately. Oftentimes play is intended to be a distraction for our children. However in reality, it adds to the enrichment in the quality of life that our children become privileged to experience by being here. Endless tools, toys, materials etc are employed by the play specialists to excite, engage, entertain and educate them. At GOSH, there are no gimmicks the only effort required for the children to benefit from play is to simply but participate in the various activities planned and set before them consistently by these play geniuses. The fact that every play tailored and customised to suit each child makes it even more special and memorable to each participant. It creates a more personal and specific activity for each child to look forward to every time. Play has most importantly become an invaluable coping mechanism for children here at GOSH- especially for those in pain. Sometimes and unfortunately when pain re-emerges despite medication, play can become the next option for some children. The distractive nature of play can be a subtle medium for alleviating an otherwise endless cycle of suffering for some of these children. In this way, play becomes transformed into a tool of respite for these ailing ones. It can be the only reason that a child smiles, shrieks, brightens up and even gives the littlest reaction amidst a trying episode in their day’s journey here at GOSH. Play once more, provides a hopeful reassurance that the flame of life will be kept aglow in our children against all odds. For us parents and carers, we are not left out of the play experience provided at GOSH. We indirectly feed off the positive energy we witness in our children as they perform and enjoy each activity. That smile, that joy we see as the children play always makes each moment spent at GOSH more hopeful. After all their joy is our joy and all we live for. These play geniuses extend the care for our children to us (parents and carers) by carrying us along. They equally provide us with distractions and play materials. The play areas also create calming and relaxing escapes for parents and carers. All these remind us never to lose sight of the inner child within despite our individual circumstances. In the end, we too, like our children find that if we can keep playing we will not be held down but propelled by our challenges. So yes! Play does matter to us all and we are blessed to be surrounded by one of the best play teams in the world! THIS ARTICLE IS SPECIALLY DEDICATED TO THE PLAY TEAMS ON THE WARDS, THE HOSPITAL SCHOOL & ACTIVITY CENTRE AT GREAT ORMOND STREET HOSPITAL FOR THE GREAT WORK THEY DO DAILY. Thank you for reading Photo credit: Pixabay People who read this article enjoyed many others in the series.

Importance of play in a hospital- The Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) case

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You Lord who knows the hearts of all men, show which one of these ones you have chosen to take the place in the apostolic ministry from which Judas turned away to go his own place (Acts 1:24-25). This is an interesting verse showing the disciples carried on depending fully on Jesus even after the resurrection. In the past Jesus had told them to love one another as he had loved them. He taught them that to keep his commandments, they had to remain in his love (John 15:9-10). They knew that when Jesus was in their midst, he always turned to his father for guidance. Even when it was nearly impossible for him, he still stayed in his father’s love. Jesus famously asked for God’s will and not his own will at the garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:42). So the disciples already had the perfect example in Jesus. Although they may have had their favourite candidate to choose when the time to replace Judas came, they knew better than to let their will prevail. They knew in humility to let Jesus choose. In their minds, there was no difference to them whether Jesus was physically there or not. While Jesus was still with them, he told them that he was the one who chose them. They did not choose Jesus (John 15:16). In the old Testament God also told Jeremiah that before he was born he knew him (Jer 1:5). He also said that before his birth he sanctified and chose him to be a prophet. The bible makes us understand that we love God because he loved us first(1John4:19). So even in the house of God where we are all called to serve God in different ways and ministries, it is always worth remembering that only few are chosen (Matt 22:14). These few are not chosen by men but by God. It was God who chose all the prophets and kings of old. God still makes those choices today the only problem as Christians is that we tend to rush in with our choices first and seek God’s face last. We forget that he decides and has the final say. When the disciples sought God’s choice at the start, God chose Matthias. Sometimes God chooses us for a mission and we run away. Jonah is one typical example. God chose him to go to Nineveh to warn them about their wickedness. Jonah decided to run away. He did not want to go. He wanted to do his own will. But God sent a storm and just as the ship Jonah was fleeing in was about to sink, Jonah was thrown into the sea and swallowed by a fish. He was forced to surrender to God’s command and the fish regurgitated him on dry land. Subsequently he went to proclaim God’s word in Nineveh. Today we do not always witness such dramatic selections. However daily we are faced with choices. Choices surrounding answering God’s call or not. Like the disciples, we must go back to Jesus in prayer and allow him make the choices. We have to consciously remember to always seek his will first in all things before we set off. This way, our journey will be made easier. Thank you for reading. You can find more of my meditations here. Photo credit: Pixabay

May his will be done…

In this our era you will agree that compared to the previous generation, there has been a rise in the number of working class women. It does not even matter whether they are educated or not. There just is an awakening in the female species in our country. As a result, many young ladies grow with a need to fulfill this desire. However, for many different reasons, this can be a reality that is either not actualised or thwarted due to marriage and having kids. Women constantly, like their mothers before them, find themselves feeling “forced” to put the family needs first. Is this really a bad thing? Is it the end of the world? Does not working nine to five or having a business mean a woman is unemployed and less of a Y2K compliant new-school woman? Let us look at a typical scenario. Dumebi is a young beautiful woman whose husband is equally young and resourceful. He earns well enough (no make that “earns exceedingly well” by all standards) and cares for the family, providing anything money can buy for their comfort and enjoyment. They live in their personal house, have two other rental duplexes in Lagos. In addition to this, they have their own house in the village. Cars, holidays and everything they need are at their disposal. She has two sons and a daughter. In fact life is good…  However, she found herself very unhappy recently. The object of her sadness being her inability to contribute equally to the family pot “financially”. Her husband although in the dark regarding her true feelings neither complained about being the sole provider nor did he even want her to lift a finger. She had graduated from a reputable university and earned herself a degree however, she felt under-utilised in her role as a full time house wife/ mum. She was so troubled by these feelings that she called her friend Stephanie one morning. Stephanie listened as she poured her heart out. She expressed strongly her feelings of helplessness to the situation as well as the fact she found herself extremely unhappy as a result of these thoughts. Stephanie probed to see if possibly some peer or family pressures may have led to Dumebi’s strong desire to gain employment and contribute to the family. It appeared not to be the case at all. It was just a personal need to feel “useful” as Dumebi described it. She had full control of the family accounts, ATM cards and her husband was accountable to her for even his own spending yet the fact that he earned all the money bothered her. As usual, talking exhaustively helped Dumebi release the inner feelings of helplessness and sadness that she felt. From the scenario above, you can see that Dumebi does not even see her role in the home as “useful” simply because it is not tangibly remunerated. This situation is a popular one mainly among women. There seems to be a growing need to assume an earning role. I will say that as part of a couple myself, communication is key. It seems a bit sad that Dumebi’s husband was very oblivious of the unhappiness lurking behind her smiles daily. The fact that she did not feel confident enough that he would understand her feelings also says something about the communication level in their relationship. However, by not telling him, she was not giving him a chance to be aware of her feelings. She simply assumed that he would not understand her need for usefulness. Every human being needs to feel “occupied”. The word occupation is derived from the root word occupy Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines occupy as a term that means “to fill or use ( an amount of time)”. While the same dictionary defines occupation as “(1) the work that a person does; a job or profession, (2) An activity that a person spends time doing” among other definitions. Just because an activity is not paid for does not make it less of an “occupation”. It takes up one’s time and the person expends effort and at times intangible resources like time to accomplish such an activity successfully. The problem Dumebi has is that her role as mum and wife in the family seems irrelevant simply because she is not being paid a salary. She needs a salary which she can physically see and contribute to the family financial pot to satisfy her “usefulness” criteria. However, what she fails to see is that she is performing a role that is invaluable and necessary for the smooth running of the home. In her role, she sees to the day to day care that the children require. She is available to give adequate attention to the children. Provide a warm hub for every member of the family to return to. She is in charge of housekeeping and basically turning the otherwise brick walled house into a homely haven. Her children in return are well behaved and mannered, her husband is loving and she creates a secure stress relieving home for him. In reality, her role is even more difficult than her husband’s role. She does not go on break or leave like he does with his work. For even when the family took vacations, women like her remain on full duty, ensuring the travel plans, packing, shopping, hotel reservations and all the endless requirements are met. If you find yourself, a loved one or even your wife experiencing these feelings, encourage her to hang in there and try to reappraise her feelings about her role as mum and wife. It is a necessary and praiseworthy sacrifice whose remuneration is not quantifiable. In the case of Dumebi in our above scenario, she was quite fortunate that her husband could meet all their needs, care for and love her totally without dropping any hints of frustration or pressure whatsoever on her. For some of my other women who are not so lucky, they joggle the pressures of earning a living with […]

Family matters: Does staying at home with the kids make you jobless?

Guess what? Today we have a new film on our review Radar. It’s a whole new genre of Nigerian movie. Do you know why? That’s because it is a Yoruba film. Yes o you heard right! The Yoruba tribe is one of the main Nigerian Tribes. There are lots of tribes in Nigeria. However, for some unknown reason, Nigeria as a country categorizes all the tribes into three. They are called the “major” tribes. Please don’t ask me why because I simply have no idea. The tribes are Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo. Now the film for today done in the Yoruba Language. It is of course a language not only spoken by Yorubas but popularly common in the Western part of Nigeria where the Yorubas predominantly reside. The good news is that you do not even have to understand or speak the language to watch this movie. I don’t either. The viewing is made understandable by the genius of subtitling. This was thoughtfully adopted in this movie. So sit back, get comfy as we prepare to dive right into today’s movie. It is called OSUPA which means Moon in English- or so they said! Yes the main protagonist Tokunbo is portrayed by the beautiful Bukky Wright. For those of us who regularly watch Yoruba movies, she is known as one of the fantastic actresses. The film tells a story about what I like to think of as the trials of this lady- Tokunbo. She was a successful actress who got framed when a gang of female robbers were caught while on rampage. Further questioning during detention led the gang to name Tokunbo as their ring leader and sole financier. They claimed that she was responsible for sponsoring and mentoring them. Tokunbo was then detained while on set and later imprisoned. This led to an ordeal that sees her path cross with a Lawyer. He fought her corner in court but whether or not she won the case will be left for you to find out. I hate to be the one to let the cat out of the bag… A few years after the ordeal, Tokunbo found herself with the lawyer. You know the one who helped her earlier?  Yes that one!. Well they began a relationship but shortly afterwards he took ill. After seeking medical help, things took an ugly turn because his health continued to deteriorate. They decide to seek spiritual help but not without paying a heavy price. One that led to consequences for Tokunbo. Tokunbo’s joy unfortunately was short-lived but the outcome of the lawyer’s ordeal had severe consequences for their relationship. I personally was glued to the screen while watching this one. The story is told in 2 parts and rightly so as there were many twists and turns throughout the plot. I thought the production was very good. For a Nigerian movie on home level it fared well. However, the same could not be said for it on an international level. There was and still is room for a lot of improvement. So now for the PASS review Picture&Production  2** Acting                        4**** Storytelling                3*** Sound                         2** Overall, I will give this film a 3***. Some work still needs to be done on the film production in order for it to measure up with its counterparts on the international scene. Many great actors were featured in the film. Big names like Muyiwa Ademola, Bukky Wright, Fathia Balogun, Lanre Hassan just to mention a few names. Yinka Quadri produced this film and did a fantastic job. You can watch the film for free on Youtube Thanks for joining us for another film review and see you next time…Chao! Photo Credit Pixabay  

Film review: Osupa The Moon

Hello again and thank you for joining me here for another film review. As you know watching home videos as we normally refer to Nigerian movies is my new pass time. This week,  I decided to add some specific elements to the film reviews I do. It is just to give you more appreciation of the film and also give you an idea of various aspects of the film i terms of what to expect. I shall be using 5 criteria. I will like us to call it the PASS criteria. PASS stands for Picture&Production Acting Storytelling Sound PASS sounds good to me and I hope it will spice things up. So let us see if this fill will PASS our review… See what I did there? PASS ! Anyway without taking up more time, let’s talk about this film. My first thoughts when I saw the popular “Andy” acting a film called “I used my wife for rituals” was whaaaat? Not again! Well every Nigerian knows that Andy (Kenneth Okonkwo) became popular in those days for his portrayal of Andy as Merrit’s husband in a film called “Living in bondage”. He used her for ritual money and it backfired. If I remember correctly, it ended very badly with torments and madness….. Well, back to the film under review. It is fair to say that the perfect actor was chosen for the role. However, although the theme mirrors every other one previously acted in this genre (condemning such money ritual and desperate money making acts by people), it unfolded very nicely. It started very slowly with the protagonist Martins meeting many misfortunes. He went from fire gutting all his goods to losing his next set of merchandise to one misfortune after another. His wife Tessy attempted to borrow money in order to resurrect her husband’s misfortunes. That attempt was stopped in its tracks by roadside robbers who snatched her bag. This left the couple in an even worse mess. In addition to these tragedies, they now had to deal with endless debts and embarrassments from various lenders. The most prominent harassment was the one from Tessy friend. Rita was the one who lent her the particular money which was snatched from her. The one they never even got to use as a result of the unfortunate act. She went as far as using the couple’s five year childlessness to score a cheap point. She tried to imply that they kept mismanaging funds because they had no children to bring up. Finally the couple sought solution to their problems spiritually by attending a church. The pastor welcomed and prayed for them. In no time his wife conceived but their sufferings were not abated. Things got to a head for xxx when his pregnant wife had to go hungry for him to feed. She presented her food to her husband upon his return from a hard day in the grind. Without any hint that the food set before him was actually meant for her, he descended on the food hungrily. As he started to show his appreciation for the well prepared meal he had just devoured, he noticed her deep yawn. It struck in him the realisation that it was more than a tired yawn but a hungry yawn. He became very upset with her. This led to a chain of unforeseeable events that are brought to a head after the birth of their son. The film is a must watch. I must warn you about the sound quality of this film. In the beginning there seems to be a disharmony between the audio and visuals. It lasts for over 45 minutes before resolving itself. As usual, patience and tolerance will be your key companions while watching this movie as with most Nigerian home videos in this category. There are a few unnecessary scenes but do not let that put you off. Just focus on the story. So now for the PASS review Picture&Production  3*** Acting                        4**** Storytelling                3*** Sound                         2** Overall I will give this film a 3*** on my PASS scale. It is fair to say that there is still room for improvement in the picture production and sound department. 49 minutes is a long time to wait for the sounds to align with the visuals. However, there were nice believable effects in the secret cult scenes. The story line was good. Nothing really new there but the story telling could have been better. There were a few irrelevant scenes that could have been cut out in my opinion. This story is in 3 parts. Each of the parts lasted for 1hour 45mins. Honestly if I was not so bored myself I would not have sat so patiently. However all in all, it was a lovely film with great believable actors. You can find the film to watch for free on Youtube here when you have the time and please come back to tell me what you think about it. Thanks and see you next time! Photo credit: Pixabay

Film review: My wife for rituals

I am going to be brutally honest with you. I sat across you on that sunny afternoon listening to you talk about Him and your current situation and it was the most painful thing I’ve had to watch because you certainly deserve better. You were hurting and there was nothing I could do, I hated that feeling. I always felt I could put a smile on your face no matter how bad you were feeling, that was one of the things I was good at. When you had a bad day you would run straight to me and I would be myself all through but you wouldn’t stop laughing and giggling like a little girl. Moments like this I always treasured. So, to have you sit across me and tell me how sad and bitter He had made you feel and all I could do was listen. All through the time you spoke all I could see was the hurt in your eyes, how dejected you had become. You were resigned to your fate and it was tearing you up from within. You needed an outlet, an escape, I used to be that outlet but today all I could do was watch and listen to you pour your heart and soul out. Something that wasn’t very common with you. You would tell me about your horrible day at work or the difficulty you had coming back home in this crazy town and I would make jokes just to make you feel better. Yet I would always have to probe further just for you to tell me something really personal that was on your mind and now that you came to me with your biggest challenge, I wasn’t ready or I was clueless as to what to say to you. Days went by, weeks even and I still had not recovered from watching you look so gloom, so defeated, all because of Him. I would apologize that I did not check in to see how you were faring because I handled this encounter differently this time around and I couldn’t bear to see you this torn. But for you to question my friendship that really hurt me. I have been here for you for every single step of the way since we have known each other, even when you know how difficult it is for me to do just that. Or do you think it is easy watching the one you want, be with someone else? Your happiness was all that mattered and I decided as long as you were happy, I was okay with that. Now you are not even letting me explain or talk to you, you feel that cutting me off is the solution to make yourself feel better. Is it because this time around I didn’t sympathize with you as you hoped? I did not cheer you up since that will only be a temporary solution to what you are going through. Did I really hurt you that much or are you just deflecting? I don’t think it’s fair for you to treat me like the enemy. Anyway I guess you need time to yourself. You need time to sort through your issues and I suggest you face it head on and stop hiding behind whatever you call “this thing” we have. I won’t have it this time around, I want you to know that I would continuously be praying for your marriage and I hope you can sort it all out soonest. You know I will always be here. Thank you for reading. You may also like others from this series About the author : Ezimen is a professional in the daytime. He loves writing, travelling and having fun! Do you know that you can now submit a post like this? To find out how, click here. Perhaps you fancy reading from others in the community? Find other articles here. Thank you Photo credit: Pixabay

She knows I love her but she is his wife…now she hates me.

The beauty of a precarious and tumultuous stage in life is that it becomes the time when all the lessons life intends to teach are actually learnt. It is the time when you are down and out. It is the time you finally begin to “pay attention”. The only thing left to do apart from wallow in self-pity is to start to use all our self-will to pull us out of the bad situation we find ourselves in. I personally have found that the only way for me to make any sense of my own life is to see life through everything else around me. Feed off new energies- positive energies. Since life has decided to keep pinning me down I have decided to keep rising up. I can now finally see. I used to live a very fast paced life. At the break of every dawn, it always felt like a whistle was blown. It was a rush to prepare to start my day, a rush out of the door into the car hoping to bit the traffic (which was silly now I think about it because I never managed to!). I got to work, rushed to hit all my targets, rushed my break, rushed to close in order to get home early enough. I was always so knackered at the end of the day. Honestly, I even rushed through sex at night with the hubby just to get me some sleep and start the whole cycle again. It was like I became the hamster in the cage. All I did was rush, rush, rush. It gave me a buzz. I even seemed to enjoy moaning about how stressful my life was because I honestly made no effort to slow down. Well, as soon as life started gradually to pin me down, the first emotions I felt were not relief from rushing but grief. I complained about my life until that point but the minute its course was set to change, I fought it. I tried to combine my work with caring for my son. I kept telling myself I could do it. It was hard to accept the reality that my son was not going to be safe in any regular crèche. All I could see was everything I could not have. Everything I was missing by being a carer. Everything I ever really wanted was slipping away- and very fast. With each passing day as my son’s health grew direr, I began to confront the prospect of giving up my job. It was emotionally strangulating- until I began to pay attention. You see, the secret of survival is to stop looking for what you want. Especially when you know that you cannot have what you really want. Stop searching. It’s like when you look too hard for your keys, you never find them. How about when you try too hard to remember a name or event, you never remember- until you let go. As you tilt your attention completely away from the puzzle of the lost key or forgotten name, suddenly, you will remember. Amidst your new quest, it slips right back into your consciousness when you least expect it to in a kind of eureka fashion. At my lowest moment, I decided to stop trying too hard to be who I wanted to be but to embrace who I had suddenly become. It was hard to find anything to do with all the time I spent beside my son both at home and in hospital. There was so much time. Don’t get me wrong, I was very busy in reality as a carer- I was doing feeds, changing nappies, giving medicines, nursing my son back to health and so on. However, I felt idle inside as a person. Deep within, I felt like I was wasting away. I remember thinking about if this was now going to be me? After all the years in university? All the years building my career? All my dreams? It was weighing me down way more than all the physical exertion of caring for Fred.The physical aspects of caring became my only means of escape from my crumbling reality– all because I was not paying attention. I began one day to notice during one of my walks one spring morning that a small leaf had grown on a tree. I suddenly discovered a trail of slugs too along the path- that made me smile each time I passed by. I found myself looking forward to seeing as much of them as the weather could permit. I noticed a cat along another path every morning and found myself wondering about it on days when it failed to appear. For the first time, I began to SEE my surroundings. I had all the time in the world now. Suddenly, a new world seemed to open up to me. I began to see the rips in shirts and tops around the house. I opened my needlework set for the first time in ages. . I redid my husband’s trousers meant for the bin and converted it into shorts and in no time, I acquired a sewing machine. That gadget can now testify to completing many a project with me. I went from doing up my interiors to redecorating for friends who have to date given me endless referrals. I used to love colouring and drawing as a child. Hmmmm, I had an idea to revisit that as well. I changed my walk direction the next morning towards the book store and bought a simple colouring set to get me started- nothing fancy. In no time, I was colouring so much and getting a real buzz. Before long, I was busy borrowing books from the library. I suddenly had time to pursue other aspects of my life that otherwise lay idle. I suddenly stopped only having ideas but also bringing them to life. It was an empowering feeling. Surely the boost my life needed- like […]

Wipe your eyes and pay attention

Journey to self discovery tends to be a selfish journey. To discover self is to put self first in every decision. It means to discover what self loves and what self hates. It can lead to consistently doing more of the things self prefers and less of the things that cause self distaste. Putting self at the centre of every decision de-emphasises sacrifice. Fortunately some of the best things in life have become available to all to enjoy because some people have put themselves second-sacrificed. Freedom was fought for all because some people sacrificed even their lives for the sake of the fold. Sometimes these sacrifices endangered their loved ones. They did not let even this fact put them off because the good of everyone else was their focus. Two lovers can never fully experience the fullness of their love if there is no sacrifice of self. Each person surrenders him/herself to the other for the good of both. They learn what the other likes or hates. These may not necessarily reflect their individual preferences. However, if their love is to transcend time, they will both have to keep sacrificing from time to time. The advantage of expressing love in this way is that if each person is sacrificing, each person will invariably be receiving. Similarly, if each person is receiving it means that each person is being loved perfectly. Sacrifice is the true ingredient that helps love thrive because it entails tolerance and accommodation of each others’ flaws. A journey of self discovery can prove dangerous because it may compromise love- true love. Even the love of God for man entailed sacrifice. This sacrifice was the final proof of his love for man. It was the last straw that expressed his intentions for man after man’s fall from grace. Sin was man’s choice. Death was the consequence; a deserving consequence of man’s actions. God did not need to set up the sacrifice of his son to save mankind but he did. As the perfect example of love, he did not let this fact stop him. How can one claim to truly love another if there is no sacrifice involved? By focusing solely on oneself…in the name of self discovery, a wall is built to protect and preserve self. Unless this wall is erected around oneself, self remains unselfish, kind, truly loving… penetrable. Once self is penetrated, then that self can be changed-compromised…Compromise entails sacrifice. Sacrifice brings back love into the picture. When what I want takes centre stage, then what you need becomes secondary. Everyday lived in love…with love…showing love…expressing love… needs to involve a constant sacrifice of self. We can never fully love, if love is not blind. Love has to be blind… to faults… to flaws… to inadequacies… to be perfect. Love passes through pain in order to forge the unique bond to be treasured by the hearts beating together as one. To let go of this bond…is to let go of love. To let go of love…is to give in to self. We can never truly express ourselves fully in reality. To do that will be totally selfish and possibly lead to imposing ourselves on others. Total selfishness only leads to chaos. Freedom of expression is almost always a farce. There will always be limits placed on our freedom of expression by civil society to protect rights of people and society. To express every whim we desire for ourselves may trample on other people’s rights. To trample is to encroach on their own right to an existence. For the sake of peace, even the most selfish will have to imbibe an element of restraint. Whether they want to or not. To adopt this restrain will entail a sacrifice by another person or cause in a live and let live kind of way. We make allowances for others no matter how little. To ignore this restraint and withdrawal from trampling on the rights of others for our selfish reasons will be to incur the wrath of the law in some cases. Next time we decide to build walls around ourselves in order to stamp ourselves on the rest of humanity, let us realise that we are putting off another light of love in this world. What right have we really got to demand selfishness if we ever expect any consideration to be made to accommodate us in anyway. When self rises, dominance is born. Meanwhile, dominance can only work because another person accepts the will of a selfish person. This can be for many reasons- love, fear, peace, bullying etc. What a selfish person fails to realise is that another person  sacrifices their desire “not to be dominated” in order to accommodate them. So remember as you rediscover yourself and put yourself at the centre of every decision you make that you may be trampling on someone else to make that dream come true for yourself… Thanks for reading. You can also check out other articles in this series… Photo credit: Pixabay.

The road to self discovery can be SELFISH

I promised last time to tell you all about the drastic step I took to help me finally decide whether or not to accept the gastrostomy device. Thank you for following the story right from the first part. Prior to the gastrostomy tube, my boy had a nasogastric tube fitted (It is that tube that goes from your nose into your stomach). It was a traumatic device to even insert. He seemed to pull it out nearly every hour. I also had to go back to the hospital every now and then to have it reinserted. It got to a point where I got trained to insert it at home. As a mum, that was a heartbreaking and traumatising thing to have to do to my child. Having a gastrostomy meant that this activity will become history in our home. Despite all the reasons in favour of accepting the gastrostomy device for my son I still did not want to consent to it. I even told you all about the feelings of worry I secretly nursed. I talked myself out of them one by one but still, I was hesitant. What was holding me back? I was so unsettled. It was fear! I knew I hated admitting it but it was simply fear! The fears were many… The fear that perhaps they were being too hasty… The feeling that it did not feel right that my son was to be fed through a hole in his stomach… The fear that he might react badly to having a foreign device sitting in his body. I was drowning in the sea of fear mixed with worry. “Perhaps he needed more time”, i thought. Having spoken with many parents, I knew it was not a wrong decision to make…but it was so hard to sign!… They had sworn by it. They testified to the improvement in the quality of life being experienced by their children post gastrostomy. They talked about how much easier it was. “How can it be easier to put a hole in a child’s stomach?”, I thought, “what if it got infected?”, I wondered, “it is a hole after all”. I could feel myself getting traumatised by the idea of the hole in the stomach. “Surely the nasogastric tube was better! No surgery was required and I could do it – albeit amidst horrible screams as many times as required”. One fateful evening while Fred was admitted into hospital I decided to walk in the shoes for that evening. It was just a thought… a scary one. (The fact that I considered it scary bothered me because it was something my son had to endure nearly on a daily basis, and worse still it dawned on me in that moment that although the gastrostomy could save him  from enduring all the pain, I was the only one preventing this respite). The resolve became stronger…I had to walk in his shoes! I called on the nurses and looking intently at them (secretly hoping that my request will not sound stupid enough to be discarded immediately), I requested for the nasogastric tube be inserted in my nose! I could see the look of pity in the eyes of the nurse-in-charge as she considered my request. She looked at me knowingly like she understood my dilemma. Then smiled at me and granted my request. As she walked away, she gave me a pat on the back and told me it was going to be arranged. “Get ready for it in an hour”, she said, “I wish you all the best of luck, because you’re going to need it!”. Surely it was not going to be a herculean task after all my son went through it every single day. I felt the nurse was being a bit dramatic. “Luck? , grrrrrrrr!”, I blew a raspberry. I began to feel quite excited as the hour approached. The prospect of experiencing what my son was going through made me happy because then at least I could now know for sure what all the fuss was about having a gastrostomy instead of the non-operation requiring nasogastric tube which i could insert for him as many times as he needed it. Finally the time arrived and I sat happily in the treatment room. About five nurses accompanied the nurse in charge. I wondered what all of them come from for. They all looked intimidating as the approached. Wearing sullen looks that seemed to say: are you sure you know what you’re about to do? I ignored their looks and focussed on the task at hand. I was told that all the nurses were there to restrain during me the process. “Fair enough”, I thought. I shrugged my shoulders in a away that meant “well, you have to do what you have to do!”. Then it began… The nurses held me, each nurse holding a limb. The last one held my head down. And the nurse in charge announced that she was starting. She brought out a massive tube. In that moment, it dawned on me that she had to bring a tube that was for adults. Not my son’s little tube. I bet it looked to me as it would have looked to my son. I was in horror as she approached with this tube looking at her each time. I imagined this was my son’s horror too every time I held him down and came at him with that tube. Then suddenly she started to inserted you down my right nose. It was okay to start with “that’s easy”, I thought. Suddenly it hit me right behind my nostril before my throat. I felt like I was going to die. I couldn’t breathe. I began to struggle and kick. Then the restrainers took over. I wanted to run away but they held me down as per my instruction (I remembered telling them not to let me go at any point no matter how I struggled because I […]

Hospital life : Does my child need a device? “Our gastrostomy case” Part 3

Hey there! It’s my first Nigerian film review and I am super excited. I have been watching so many films lately to pass the time here at the HQ. I thought that it would be a good idea to share the fun with you. It is not normally all serious here at the Whispering hope HQ. This weekend, I really enjoyed watching this film- Mysterious child. I had a nice relaxing afternoon watching it. I will normally wait a few days before reviewing a movie. However, that is not the case for this one. This film evoked very strong emotions within me. Sincerely, it was not the first time a home video had done justice to depicting the triumph of good over evil. However, in this particular film, there were many twists and turns. Mmeso a little girl born into the family of a retiree, appeared to have mysterious powers. She showed fearlessness and courage in the face of scary occurrences around her home. Isidinso was her elder sister who on the other hand was physically fearless defending her family in a warring fashion. Beating men up and warding off any physical threats to her father. Awele was the eldest. She was a soft hearted and peace loving member of the family whose kindness was constantly taken for a weakness. Their new home was in the village where the family had recently relocated to after her dad’s retirement. However, no sooner had they arrived than her father’s greedy younger brothers started their quest for all he had and held dear in terms of assets. Her father’s brothers made demands of him which included the re-sharing of a previously divided land. I really found it funny that they wanted their brother’s share of the family parcel of land re-shared to enable them harvest the cash crops. I remember thinking seriously? Palmfruits? cashcrops? Are we in stone-age? You just need to see this film to appreciate their level of desperation over Palm Kernel for ofe akwu!!! In the end, his refusal to oblige them had severe consequences for the family. His brothers decided to go to extreme lengths in their battle against him. The aftermath led to the self exile of Mmeso’s eldest sister Awele to save her life. She relocated to her friend’s house in the city against her mother’s wish for her to stay with family in the city. After wards, she fell out with her friend for being unable to grab the city opportunities at her doorstep. Now with all hope lost, she decided to find her way. She soon received some news that changed her life forever. Awele coincidentally met the village prince who took her into his home and revealed some home truths. Important facts that led her back home. Will she be able to save her family from impending disaster? Will her sister Mmeso rise up to defend the family spiritually? Will their only brother be found alive? You will have to watch by yourself in order to appreciate how the story unfolds. This film gets  5 stars from me. The audio and sound quality were excellent. The graphics – fireworks and otumokpor in this film were fantastically believable. You can find this film on Youtube by clicking on Part1 and Part2 You may also enjoy reading similar film reviews here Photo credit: Pixabay

Film review:The Mysterious child

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  I have had a few of my friends call to ask me what they are doing wrong to Mr Right because he has started to act up. He comes home tired and uninterested in them. I am not talking about the ones that come home very late in the night for no reason (that one is another matter!). I am rather referring to the Mr right that seem to have developed an aversion for you. He does not say he is uninterested but his body language hints otherwise. He says I love you so automatically that you wonder if he is just saying what you want to hear. You keep trying to get his attention but even when he gives it, you can tell that something is different. The gospel truth? It may not be anything you did. He may be going through a rough patch, a tough time at work or anything else but your fault. However, before we even start pointing one finger at him as ladies, do not lose sight of the fact that the rest of your four fingers may be validly pointing back at you. I believe that you can allow problems walk majestically into your relationship as soon as you lose sight of the fact that before you became wife or baby mama (as some are now referred to on social media) to this guy, you were his girlfriend, his chikito or better still his babe! Do you honestly still feel like his babe now? Do you think that all these extra levels you have developed your relationship to should diminish the fact that you are firstly and most importantly his girlfriend? The day you stopped seeing him as your boyfriend and feeling you were his mother, police and dictator was the day you crossed the line between marital bliss and perpetual sadness. Marriage is meant to and should only ever be a way to solidify and secure your relationship. I am not totally sure that it was intended to be the end of that special bond that you forged by having a relationship in the first place. You know that moment when one person asked, the other said yes and both fought tooth and nail to keep this relationship solid? Marriage is not meant to break that. Marriage is meant to transform you both into companions with a special bond (by the pre-existence of a relationship) not pull you apart. Do you remember the time of romance, butterflies, excitement, laughter, hot sex, experiments and pleasure between you both? If your marriage is not doing that, then join me as i take you through some simple steps you can take to get things right back on track. Have control over your children: If you have children already you will agree with me that as soon as they start arriving things change. I always liken my kids to a rash. They come either in trickles or at once to take over your whole life. If you do not control them, their need for your attention will spread until they encroach every aspect of your life including your relationship with your man. It is important to set out a routine for them to adhere to. One of the most important ones is the bedtime routine. Yes, bedtime! You have to start from an early age to put them to bed early. If not you will never have time for yourself (which by the way includes your relationship!) If your kids sleep at say 11pm, when will you ever have time for your man? The kids always come first but don’t forget that your relationship was existing first before they came along. They have to exist alongside every aspect of your life not overshadow other areas. That will not be fair to them and to you. You also have to make sure that they have their own space. If you lose control over where they sleep (by letting them sleep in your bed) how are you both going to engage in some adult play? So you see why a good grasp on your kids is the key to a happier relationship Start doing things together again: Doing things together is another important element that keeps your relationship flourishing. The pressures imposed on us by life mean that our relationships with our spouses tend to take the back seat. If you do not spend time together, you start to disconnect from each other. Can you remember how many activities you shared together as a couple when your courtship was in full swing? All those times helped create the bedrock for your relationship and ultimately, the marriage we are referring to here. I agree that it may be quite difficult to find time to go out now that the children are here. So by the time you put the kids to bed early for instance, you can watch a film together, have a meal together, snuggle up together (i did not say do anything else but at least enjoy the company of each other). Try to relax and unwind: This is an important element disappearing from most relationships. When stress levels are high due to the demands of day to day living, it seems impossible to achieve any form of relaxation. Apart from the health benefits of relaxation, it impacts positively on our relationships. You can play a nice soft music to chill out. Wind yourself down by having a bath just before your man retires for the day. That way you are not only relaxed but also very inviting when the time for serious business arrives. The nice fresh fragrance from your body will be a good calming attraction for him. With a relaxed mind and body, you can help dissipate the stress levels and even conquer your nagging tendency when your partner arrives. It is quite difficult to lash out on a calm person and cause offense Always create a conducive atmosphere: This is a very […]

8 ways to win your man back!

Last time, I told you about how difficult it was for me to consent to a gastrostomy operation for my son. He had been having difficulty feeding and things reached a climax with him becoming averse to all things food. It was clear that the way for him to proceed was to get help with his feeding. The doctors wanted him to have a gastrostomy but I was becoming more hesitant by the day. If you click here you will read all about it to help you catch up with the rest of us. Thanks for coming back this week. As promised, I feel that I am not alone in the world of indecision. Unfortunately, I could not help the feelings deep within which were stopping me from simply signing the forms for him to have the operation. Here are some of the things that bothered me : The Social aspect of having the device. I cannot help my feelings about the social aspect of having a gastrostomy or any other device for that matter. Sadly and a bit embarrassingly, this factor has more to do with me. You see, without wanting to be righteous, I was worried about how my son will come to be viewed by friends and family. All the people telling me that it did not matter had no children with gastrostomy devices or any issues whatsoever so how on earth could they understand my embarrassment. If you feel this way, please do not be too hard on yourself. You are not wicked or selfish. You are just simply human. Trust me, no one who signed up for parenthood factored in this scenario. So it is ok to feel worried about it. The truth in reality is that it really does not matter. People do not really care (or may be I should say people are indifferent) about it. Let the focus tilt back to your child. Try not to be distracted from the child. I find this re-focussing to be helpful. It helps us keep in mind what really matters when these kinds of decisions are made. How will my child blend in? This was also a worry for me. How my son will blend in with other children. Will he be treated differently? Will it be pulled at by the other kids at school? Will he be bullied? All these thoughts are normal. After all you are the parent and we all know how it is to have anything different at school and be picked on by others. The good news about the gastrostomy or any device is that it is medical and people tend to be very sympathetic and helpful about these things in reality. The teachers will always be around to look after your child when the time comes. Once again, staying focused on the outcome for your child will be the guiding and refocusing tool for your emotions. How are other children coping with the device? This was a question that kept plaguing me. I was very curious about the future outcomes for real children. I know you might wonder what that means. You see, every time doctors tell me about a desirable course of action for my son I can’t help but feel that those are the textbook kids in thick medical textbooks. I personally feel more reassured when I can see or hear from real people living out those courses of action. For example those living with the device. While it is not always possible to meet other parents and children, I avail myself of this opportunity where possible. I immediately started asking other parents and reading online forums which were filled with real feedback from parents. Everyone seemed to say their children’s outcomes improved drastically after having the device fitted. It was reassuring to know that the device delivered on its promise. Was it really easier to use? You know how they say if it is too good to be true… then maybe it is? Well, this was my new fear. It was so emotionally exhausting. It just felt like each time I conquered one fear, a new one came up. This was easy to solve. I simply started interviewing parents. One lovely thing about parents with sick children is how helpful they tend to be. Many parents I contacted shared their experiences with me. I was looking for information about how they as parents felt in terms of the difficulty or ease of use of the device. I found consistent and encouraging information in favour of accepting this device. Other general worries and questions. My last thing to do was to ask as many questions as possible before arriving at my decision. This is one of the best things you can do to put your mind at rest. The doctors and health professionals were always on hand to answer my questions. So you see, having worries about accepting a device for your child is not new and you are not alone. You need not worry alone. It may not even be a device you are worrying about accepting for your child. It may be anything else. As long as it is a decision regarding your child, it can be draining. We all worry about getting things wrong. It would be easier if parenting came with a hand book. I think the key things that work the most when you reach this type of decision dilemma for your child is Find out as much as you can about the issue. Remember that knowledge is power. Write down your questions as they arise. Ask questions wisely- make sure your questions are directed to the appropriate person on people. Don’t be too hard on yourself especially when you start to get emotional and sentimental. You are only human. Keep your focus on what is best for your child. It helps to curb your emotions regarding the issue.   After all the points I noted above, I was still unable to […]

Hospital life : Does my child need a device? “Our gastrostomy case” Part 2

Devotion to the sacred heart is the devotion to the essence of God.  It is a devotion to his core, his dwelling place. It is finding God in Christ where he lives. It is a devotion to a system of withdrawal and meditation in the hidden centre of God which is Christ. The word was made flesh and dwelt among us. The word was God. Therefore devotion to the sacred heart is devotion to God in the way that God chooses to reveal himself to us through Jesus Christ his son. To reach the heart of a person is to reach the very essence of that person. For one to reveal his heart to you, he shows you a face of himself that is hidden away from scrutiny. He shows you his very own essence. You can only truly know the person who allows you to enter his heart through their words, thoughts. It is by the expressions of their true and innermost feelings to you that you really get to know them. By this, we can safely imply that one who you are with for ages without knowing their heart is actually a stranger to you in disguise. In our journey with God, to know God is to enter his heart. By entering his heart, he is able to communicate his inner and deeper mysteries into our hearts. We can only ever know this heart and desire of God by knowing his word. His word is the bible. The bible reveals the deepest secrets about God. What he likes, what he dislikes, how to serve him and so on. To search and study his scriptures is to spend time with God. By spending time with God we get to know him, his desires for us and his will for us. The good news is that this word of God was made flesh and dwelt among us. He took our flesh in order to become one with us. By this singular act, he became even closer than ever. In the end, he became able to physically live with us through Christ Jesus. By assuming a human form, he was able to show us the perfect example of true worship by his words, actions and deeds. Jesus is God in his material form. To know Jesus is to know God in a very personal way. To receive Jesus in the Holy Eucharist (Holy Communion) is to unite with him in a miraculous and strengthening way. Consequently, we relive his memorial on a daily basis as individuals and as a church in general. The Sacred heart of Jesus provides a means of achieving this true devotion because through this heart, the true meaning and essence of God is revealed. Through the Sacred heart of Jesus, God opens himself to us in a special way, in a unique way that gives a true and tangible meaning to our journey with God. We become embedded in his heart as his mysteries become more revealed as a result of our daily devotion. By our prayers, we acquire strength and favour that enable us persevere and endure the toils and struggles of life. In that Sacred heart, we learn to resound the true desire of Christ which is to always be one with him in the Gethsemane of life. That point when we find ourselves at our very own crossroads of choice. We learn to desire the total abandonment to the holy will of God. Like Jesus we learn to say “God let not mine but thy will be done”. In that heart, we become humbled as we gaze upon his heart. We see our unworthiness but the loving heart of Jesus continues to draw us in and heal our spirit. Jesus is God’s word personified. In the days of old, God sent prophets to his people. These prophets were mortal. They died but God kept sending more prophets who brought various messages of comfort and truth to the people. However, in the case of Jesus, his death emancipated him from the captivity of flesh. He was transformed back into his original omnipotent and omnipresent form. This miracle of resurrection is the tool that has kept him with us as God and stamped his place forever as True God and True Man. Heaven is now no longer locked up. God has stepped out of the veil created by his heavenly residence. He is now with us in an even more special way through the Holy Eucharist. At the last supper, he instituted a bloodless sacrifice of his body and blood in the form of bread and wine. He can now also dwell right inside of us in the Eucharist. Jesus remains our gift of salvation from God. His crucifixion, death and resurrection became mere instruments used by God to unwrap himself to us through the mystery of Christ our God and master. A true devotion to the sacred heart of Jesus becomes a true devotion to the heart of God himself. Find God today …find the Sacred heart of Jesus. Thank you Photo credit: Pixabay You may also like some of my other meditations. 

The importance of a devotion to the Sacred heart of Jesus

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“Stop ignoring people when they hurt you, you must always speak up for yourself!”…This became my husband’s favourite line nearly every other day. I seemed to constantly suffer at the hands of friends and family. “But I am a nice person”, I thought. “I have practiced bearing wrongs in my heart and even garnished it with forgiveness”. They say forgive and forget and lately I discovered that although I had forgiven, I never seemed to forget. Each time I set my eyes on those who hurt me, I screamed inside but on the outside, I plastered a smile across my face hoping that the pain would go away if I blinked back the tears hard enough. I was getting crushed under all the hurt. I felt like I really had mug tattooed on my forehead. I seemed to always be the one treated badly. Well to be fair, I never spoke up. I secretly grew jealous of people around me who stood up to these hurtful people. The truth was that they were avoided by these hurtful people who rather stayed away for fear of incurring their wrath. I certainly did not want to become a screamer however, something had to change real soon as I could feel myself approaching the end of my tether- fast! Well, was I truly being a nice person by pretending all was well when things were anything but well?  I had practiced suppressing my feelings so fantastically that anyone who wronged me would not see a trace of hurt even in my eyes. Yes! my eyes. You know they say the eyes do not lie. Well, mine were champion liars. You could not easily decipher any hurt through them. It was only a trained eye  (like my husband’s) that could tell that I was hurt as soon as he stepped within sight. He did not even need to see me sometimes. Just by saying hello to him on the phone, he could tell. However, lately, he seemed to be running out of patience with me. Not because he was tired of hearing my cliched lamentations and tales of woes at the hands of people I spent all my energy caring about but because he thought I deserved better. When I wrote “6 reasons why you may be getting knocked back”, I was referring in a way to myself. I came to those conclusions after one of such experiences. However, there was a U-turn in character or rather approach that took over my being after I wrote it. I resolved to learn from my own words. I was no longer going to keep being Mr nice guy. Karl was right. I deserved better. I remember when I was a very young girl, I had a bad tongue. I was at the other extreme of self expression where no one’s feelings mattered but mine.You know the teenage hormonal years of self discovery. I initially used to get a buzz from verbally trashing people who caused me even the slightest bit of hurt. Well my mother had many a conversation with me on this matter. I think the one that struck me was when she said , “you know how the bible says thou shall not kill? It is not only referring to killing with a knife. The way you talk to people, you kill them with our words and you are equally as guilty”. I was struck with mortal fear. I am not sure the poor lady meant “now you have to zip your mouth when people hurt you” or, “stop speaking for yourself”. However being a virtue seeking creature as I unconsciously tend to be sometimes, I took it to the other extreme and literally stopped responding back. You see, every time you are in a relationship where you constantly do not stand up for yourself, your feelings or your ideas (all because you do not want to hurt the next person), you are doing yourself a big injustice. By ignoring your true feelings, you are boxing yourself into an emotional corner. Repressed feelings do not disappear, on the contrary, they tend to build up feelings of resentment gradually until they get to a point where they no longer can be ignored. They most definitely explode and the worst part is that they tend to explode at the wrong time. You get to a last straw stage in a simple interaction that may or may not even be related to the person or issue and then BOOM! The screw literally falls out of your head and you unleash all the venom and anger in a what-about-me sort of way leading to overreaction. This leads to guilt and possibly endless apologies (to someone who may not really deserve the apology) that are the only way to make up for your seemingly unnecessary outburst . Do you know what this produces, further repression of future feelings as you begin to experience the fear of a possible re-occurrence of the shameful outburst you are still reeling over. The interesting part is how the brain begins to learn this method of repressing feelings until it becomes second nature. It gets to a point where you even forget how to speak out. Or worse still, you degenerate to a point of fear (even though you may not even realise it or admit it to yourself) You keep bearing this burden until it weighs you down. The solution is just simply starring you in the face. Stop repressing and start expressing your feelings. As soon as you can start it even with the smallest things, you are on the road to recovering your place in every relationship you enter. Contrary to popular opinion, repressing your feelings (for the sake of peace as people like to add) is not a sign of maturity. Maturity to me means; bold, grown up, coming of age. Which honestly in my books means becoming responsible for every aspect of our lives- which includes but certainly is not restricted to speaking up for ourselves […]

How speaking out can save Your relationships

When you are blessed with a child that has complex health needs, you get unknowingly initiated into the minority of people who have to make tough decisions daily. Some are easy Yes’es while others keep feeling like yes...but! Not necessarily because Yes is not the obvious answer but because Yes becomes less straightforward and branches out with various ramifications and aspects for your child. With many long term conditions, the answers are not quite clear-cut. Even the simplest answers are filled with inherent risks. For us as a family, one of the downsides of our son’s health condition is- loss of appetite. In his case, it began slowly. With time, it gradually degenerated into a complete food aversion. We knew an intervention was required to enable him get the necessary nutrition to thrive. As a result, were asked to consent to an operation to insert a gastrostomy tube to help him feed. It was meant to be a simple consent or so they thought … When push came to shove, even with the decision staring us in the face, we just could not reach it. The fact that we knew he needed some form of intervention, did not reduce the shock and anxiety we felt as a family. A gastrostomy is a feeding tube or device inserted, to help a person get the necessary nutrition for the survival. I have put that in the simplest way possible because this is by no means a medical write-up. The shock I felt as a mum that my son now needed a tube to feed with was too much to process… it horrified me. You know you see these things on the TV and never imagine that you will see it face-to-face. Let alone experience it directly with your own child needing it. I kept on feeling that perhaps if we persevered further with trying to offer him food by mouth (orally), he will start feeding. Well you see, the decision was very hard to make. I tried not to lose sight of the fact that my child’s welfare had to come first always. He needed this device to help him live.  From every indication, there was no other option. It was either we found a way to feed him or he was slowly going to dehydrate and heaven forbid the outcome. Accepting the gastrostomy was really in my son’s interest. It was certainly going to help him. I had to remind myself that accepting this device did not mean that I was giving up on my son’s ability as a little boy to feed on his own. It meant that I was giving him a helping hand. Like everyone else, the thought of giving him the best opportunity to live life to the fullest was always my driving force. Although I knew and understood this, I still felt uneasy. I was still hesitant. Perhaps it was all happening too fast. Maybe he needed more time to try. “The gastrostomy was too major a procedure to try just for feeding him”, I thought. I asked for more time to think about if this was the only option for my boy. I confronted other feelings that were holding me back. I confronted feelings that you too may be experiencing especially If you are at this point in your journey with your child. It may not even be a gastrostomy device that you are having trouble accepting. It may be any other medical device that you are being offered as a family to help your child. You may have allowed yourself to be convinced by people that these feelings that cause you to hesitate don’t matter.  While it may be true that some of these feelings pale in significance in light of the health risks your child will have to deal with (especially when it is clear that these risks will become more inherent if you turn down the device), It is not true that these feelings do not matter. If they bother you, then they matter. Next time, we will look at some of them in detail. I will tell you about the ones I faced and hope that by taking you through how I confronted and dealt with them, it will make your own decision a bit easier to make. Thank you for reading. For now, if you enjoyed reading this, you may also enjoy some other topics we have discussed in this series. Photo credit : Pixabay

Hospital life : Does my child need a device? “Our gastrostomy case” Part 1

    One gift that is freely given to all irrespective of age, race, creed, wealth, religion and so on is Time… It is one of life’s constants because it keeps ticking away… endlessly… waiting for no one. Sometimes we are conscious of its ticking… and tocking… especially when we are close to a timepiece. Tick…, tock…, tick…, tock…. It goes on and on forever.. as it has done… even before our existence. At other times, we do not even notice as it whizzes by. In just a moment, a memory is forged… created… as time passes by. Sometimes these memories are good ones, happy ones and we treasure them. Other times the memories are not so good. Bad memories come along… ones we will rather forget … However, whatever the memory, in reality, they belong to our past; we remember them and they can make us happy or sad. They can encroach into the present with or without our intention. They can also strengthen or scar our future (depending on if the memory is a good or bad one). The “not so good” memories unfortunately carry within them the potential to linger on longer than we want them to. This is simply because they leave a trail of scars behind which trigger pain and sadness every time we remember them. Good or bad, all our memories are trapped in what I like to call packets of time. For time to trap our memories, they have to be in packets. Not just in minutes or hours but in bigger lumps that allow the events that occur within them to take place and subsequently elapse. Thereby giving them true meaning and substance. We use these packets of time to remember different events within the story of our lives. Time divides… splits itself up as it passes. Into three…past…, present and future. Until we appreciate these three divisions of time…this fantastic way that time branches out, we risk missing out on savouring the events that presently occur in our lives. We find ourselves dwelling too much on things that have happened …which belong to the past or laying too much emphasis on chasing the things that are yet to happen…which will belong to our future. To dwell constantly on our past or future is futile. The present is the real packet of time we can ever have control over. The past is gone…the future which will come remains unknown…but the present is here…now! We may not have the luxury of choosing what we face in the present. But right here… right now, we can consciously choose either to be strong or to be broken by the events of the present. We alone can choose how we allow the events of the present affect us. We can refocus our energies in the positives amidst the challenging circumstances we face. It does not matter whether our predicament is precipitated by our actions or not. What matters is that right here and now it is happening and we have to deal with it. The glass of life can sometimes be half-full or half empty but only you can choose how to view it. Whichever way you choose to see your glass, there is no right and wrong answer. The truth is that the volume of water remains the same but one view gives more peace than the other and it is your choice to find that comfort in the way that suits you best. It is by irritating the mollusc that the beautiful pearl is formed. The Mollusc finds itself irritated by a microscopic organism in its habitat and traps it in its mantle folds. Overtime, this singular act leads to the formation of the pearl. It is this attempt by the mollusc to make the best of its present disturbing circumstance by enduring the micro-organism that triggers the process that forms the pearl in all its beauty. Therefore one decision at a time in your packet of time based on the circumstances you face presently you can make the very best of every situation you find yourself in. Generally, it is easier to cope with life’s challenges when they are dealt with one at a time. Dealing with more than one challenge at every point in time can overburden and prevent one from truly experiencing the present. This is why when live gets too heavy you should try to approach the challenges one moment at a time, one decision at a time in order to get the best results. The present, is also the only one of the three packets of time that can be your last. This fact always remains unknown until it actually occurs. Live everyday like it is your last. Like the last éclair in the pack, you can savour it preciously and make the best of the present. If it is not the last, then that present will become part of your past. Having enjoyed every moment of the present, you can then step with satisfaction into the future. In conclusion, if you have missed out on making the best use of your present, try not to regret. Regrets are a waste of your time and energy. They also encroach on the present. They start with “if I had known”. The truth remains that, you did not know so don’t be too hard on yourself. The gift of hindsight is one we rarely possess as humans. Don’t judge yourself too harshly because in the past you acted based on the information at your disposal then. So take disappointments as experiences that make you more knowledgeable. Now you know and that knowledge will help to shape your decisions in the going forward. What’s done is done. We cannot undo the past. Don’t waste the present regretting. Thank you You may also enjoy some other articles in this series. Photo credit: Pixabay  

Packets of time

I stare at this blank page thinking to myself, will I ever be a writer?? How well do I write? So many people seem to see immense potential in my writing abilities yet I don’t think or consider myself a good writer. Yes, sometimes I write stuff and yes most times I am blown away just reading stuff I have written in the past. I read them and wonder who wrote this? What part of me had this to say? Did it ever occur to me that I was caging a beast within me and writing could be an outlet to show the world the awesomeness trapped in my head or just simply within me?  I write stuff to some people and they immediately say to me that I am selling myself short. Could this be true? Am I my own greatest problem? To these people I would say keep enjoying the stuff that comes out occasionally and feel free to call me out on my cowardice because I truly need to be told the harsh truth. To my quiet and yet crazy self, I would say get over yourself. Why do you fear failure and rejection so much? I certainly need to develop a thick skin, criticism would come and it should be appreciated, be it good or bad, one can always learn from how the outside world views them not necessarily bending and changing to suit your audience but learning to have a voice that the world will stop to listen to. Have I ever considered that I am depriving the world of so much by not speaking or writing as the case may be? I am done being a ghost. I think you all have to sit back and enjoy the craziness, the depth, the awesomeness, the volume of all I have to say and trust me you are going to get a healthy or not so healthy dose of that, if you get what I mean. Meanwhile I do not apologise in anticipation to the people that will be hurt by my message, I simply will say to you ‘you just are not ready’. To the many fans and critiques, I am about to amass please be patient with me as I start on this journey. There will be ups and downs and down under but I say to you it would be an awesome experience and a magnificent ride with me. So come along let me show you a different side of the world. A view so breath-taking you will ask if you have ever lived and you would want to be in this world, I present the world as I see it from these eyes. Hello all this is EZIMEN and to answer the initial question, NO I would not be a writer. I just have a lot to say and I hope you all will listen. Watch this space. About the author : Ezimen is a professional in the daytime. He loves writing, travelling and having fun! Do you know that you can now submit a post like this? To find out how, click here. Perhaps you fancy reading from others in the community? Find other articles here. Thank you Photo credit: Pixabay

My name is Ezimen… am I really a writer?

The WH writers’ community was launched in order to create a platform that allows everyone actively participate on the blog.  It provides a creative platform to allow other opinions, stories and views to be published on this website. It gives a voice and a space to showcase the otherwise lonely essays that lie in files, cupboards or closets. Are you a writer, do you like writing or just have an opinion to share? Perhaps you have some stories stuck in your head or just something to say? Then we will love to hear from you. However, before you do, please take a look at some House-keeping rules: Rules Submission rules: 1. Be original. This means that we prefer posts that have not been previously published anywhere. Tell your own story. If you are a blogger, provide a link to your blog and we will consider it. 2. Length doesn’t matter. We do not focus on word count but content. So we do not mind if it takes 500 or 5,000 words to tell your story. 3. Include some info about yourself. Please write a short bio- Your name, what you do, and a short statement that will appear at the bottom of the post if you can. 4. Limit in-post self promotion. If you have a product or service you want to promote, please link to these in your bio. Links to relevant articles either on Whispering hope or other blogs within your post are ok. 5. The Featured Image is normally selected by Whispering hope Admin, but if you have a suggestion please let us know by also including the link. Most of the images we choose come from Pixabay. When suggesting an image please add the link so we can make sure there are no copyright infringements. 6. Your post may be edited.  We normally leave posts untouched, but in some cases we may edit things such as the title, grammar, format, etc. 7. Please allow up to 3 weeks for a response. We aim to read and reply to every guest post submission, If you don’t hear back from me within 2 then you can send us a gentle reminder. 8. Electronic publishing rights. By submitting your story to us you give Whispering hope the right to publish it on this platform. 9. Promote and share your story with your network ! That way your friends and fans will know about your work. General Rules: Vulgar and insulting materials and names will be removed. We do not permit obscene, hateful, offensive, defamatory, abusive or harassing material to be published on this website. We do not allow posting of personal and identifiable information within articles. Please do not post information that encourages criminal acts and/or give rise to civil liability. Respectful debate and opposing opinions are welcome, but please behave courteously and responsibly at all times. If you have a issue or question regarding our administrative policies or actions, contact us via Keep your messages on topic for the particular discussion you are involved in. Please be aware that all public contributions are the opinions of the contributors only and do not represent the opinions of Whispering hope.  All the rules above apply to all articles and comments on this site. These rules are in addition to some of the rules documented extensively in our  Disclaimer page. This site is not responsible for any comment users post. We reserve the right, but undertake no duty, to review, edit, move, or delete any content submitted by users, without notice. Sound ok? If so please get in touch by emailing us at Please quote “WH writers’ community” in the subject line. We look forward to hearing from you! The Whispering Hope Team. Photo credit: Pixabay

The WH writing community. Find out why everyone is talking about it!

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Faithfulness in a relationship is very key. It is easily said but not easily done. A lot of relationships are decaying because, of the lack of faithfulness between partners. Some argue that it is not really compulsory in this day and age especially with the advent of various interesting forms of relationships for instance open relationships. From my understanding, an open relationship exists when both parties agree to have other sexual partners apart from their spouse or partner. They agree to bring that pseudo-relationship into the open and remove any secrecy whatsoever. Considering that the reason why two people choose to commit to each other is mainly due to the love existing between them, this love is brought into question through  this exercise. One may argue that the love allows them express these other desires and tolerate each other’s extra marital habits more. Others argued that the removal of secrecy even strengthens the bond between both parties. Several celebrities have expressed these desires openly in their relationships and as such paved the way for their fans to copy. However, when we zoom into this practice with our eyes, some of us are left wondering where the world is actually heading. It is all to me a desperate measure taken by cheating and disloyal people to justify what they do. However by garnishing it with a name like “open relationship”, they begin to also attempt to stylishly shove it down our throats. Well, if a man or woman feels forced into cheating, then he or she was never faithful to start with. It is during the temptations that we otherwise choose to succumb to, that ones ability to be faithful is tested and proven. For example, the Bible cements the status of Abraham as “faithful” after he showed his obedience to God by accepting the sacrificial request made by God of his son – the “long awaited” son of promise. We must all embrace discipline in order to be good at any thing both physical and temporal. Any relationship devoid of faithfulness is truly dead. Time and time again, we see examples of God punishing his people for disloyalty and distraction. The example of the golden calf where people tried to justify their actions as being sanctioned by Aaron a man of God, did not even spare the people from  God’s wrath(Exodus 32). Truly, in this age of freedom and “open relationships”, it appears less relevant to be faithful. The truth remains that one likeness we share in common with God is “jealousy” towards all that we hold dear. After all the heart lies where the treasure resides (Matt 6:21). In addition, the only valid opt-out clause in holy matrimony (adultery), rides on faithfulness(Matt 19:9). Holy matrimony is the display of the sacred union between man and woman as recognised by God and his holy Church. One’s self worth and confidence are called to question as soon as one accepts anything less than this basic standard from a relationship. In a relationship between friends, it’s not too much to expect faithfulness expressed as loyalty. This faithfulness cannot even be restricted to married couples. The Bible even acknowledges that there is a friend stronger than a brother(Prov18:24). The issue of backstabbing, gossiping, jealousy and other vices in normal relationships come to mind and rape a relationship of its true essence. ridding it of loyalty, companionship or happiness for both or all parties involved. Like all decisions, one must cut off this kind of relationship to avoid sin. This sense of endless quarrels, counter gossip and other damages inherent in such toxic associations. Where love abounds, faithfulness thrives. After all even Jesus Christ put it nicely “you cannot serve two masters”. During relationships and courtship, we are availed the opportunity to understudy the human character set before us. As we look through the keyhole of what life proposes to be with another individual, we must make room for human error as nobody’s perfect. Unfortunately, distractions that are mostly material and passing constantly becloud our sound judgement for no reason apart from the main one we acknowledged earlier- indiscipline! People keep choosing things that will pass away like materiality, beauty, status etc over inherent sustainable qualities like faith, hope and love. Faith and believe in each other. Hope of a future together analysed through the endowment of various qualities like tolerance, perseverance through wobbles of whatever sort during courtship or possession of a hopeful quality like smartness and as people commonly call it, “prospects”. Although mostly forgetting that it goes both ways. Lastly, love to resonate through the purpose of every action taken between both parties. I shall end with the favourite admonition of the scriptures “ he who has ears, let him hear….” Let us pray that relationships being the pivot upon which marriage and lasting ties between individuals rotates will be taken more seriously by our generation and not be constantly used as a means to satisfy our canal pleasures and desires…. Love between two hearts should always mirror the love existing between Jesus Christ and his church. As Christ remains faithful to us, may we remain faithful to one another in love….. Amen.   Photo credit: Pixabay

Faithfulness in a relationship

Hi everyone…I just wanted to share this story with you all. It was told recently during a homily. I did not attend but a friend did and shared it with me. I enjoyed it very much. I believe there are many hidden lessons within the story. Lessons that are useful to bear in mind as we live our lives. I particularly enjoyed the way the story unfolds. I hope you do too. Anyway, without any further delay, here it is… enjoy! A very poor newly wedded, young couple lived in a small farm. One day the husband made the following proposal to his wife: Honey, I will leave the house: I will travel faraway, get a job and work hard in order to come back and give you the comfortable life that you deserve. I do not know how long I will stay away. I only ask one thing, please wait for me, and while I am away, you should be faithful to me, because I will be faithful to you. His wife agreed, so the young man left. He walked many days until he found a farmer who was in need of someone to help him. The young man offered his services. He was accepted. Therefore he discussed the terms with his boss: Let me work for as long as I want and when I think I should go home, please relieve me of my duties. I do not want to receive my salary. I ask you to save it for me, until the day I leave. The day I decide to go, please give me the money and I will go my way. They agreed on that. So, the young man worked for twenty years without holiday and without rest. After twenty years, he came to his boss and said: Boss, I want my money, because I am returning to my home. The boss replied: All right, after all, I made a deal with you and I will stick to it. However, before you go I want to offer you something new: I will give you all your money and send you away; or I will give you 3 pieces of advice and send you away. If I give you money, you lose the 3 pieces of advice. If I give you the 3 pieces of advice, you lose the money. Now, go to your room and think about your answer. He thought for two days. Then he went to the boss and told him: I want the 3 pieces of advice. The boss stressed again, if I give you the 3 pieces of advice, I will not give you the money, and the man replied: I want the 3 pieces of advice. The boss then told him: No. 1: Never take shortcuts in your life, shorter and unknown paths can cost your life. No. 2: Never be too curious, for curiosity towards evil can be deadly. No. 3: Never make decisions in moments of anger or pain, because when you repent, it could be too late. After giving these 3 pieces of advice, the boss said to him: Here, you have 3 loaves of bread, 2 are for you to eat during the journey and the last is for you to eat with your wife when you get home. So, the man went his way, after twenty years away from home and from his wife, whom he loved so much. After the first day of travel, he found a man who greeted him and asked: Where are you going? He replied: To a distant place which is about 20 days away if I continue walking. The man said to him: Ol’ boy, this path is too long! I know a shortcut that is very safe and you will arrive in 5 days only. The man began to follow the path suggested until he remembered the first piece of advice. Then, he returned and followed the long path. Days later he learned that the shortcut led to an ambush. After a few more days of travel, he found an inn by the roadside, where he could rest. He paid for a room and after taking a bath he lay down to sleep. During the night he woke up as he heard a terrifying scream. He rose to his feet and went to the door to check what happened. As he was opening the door, he remembered the second piece of advice. Therefore he returned, lay down again and slept. At dawn, after breakfast, the owner of the lodging asked him if he had not heard the scream at night. He affirmed that he heard. Then, the host said: Were you not curious to see what happened? And he replied: No, I was not. Then the host said: You are the first guest to leave this inn alive. My neighbour is completely crazy. He usually shouts at night to call someone’s attention. When some of the guests come out, he kills them and buries their bodies in the backyard. The man continued his long journey, eager to arrive soon. After many days and nights walking, he was very tired, but he finally saw his house far away. It was night. He saw some light coming out of the window of his house and was able to see the silhouette of his wife. But he also saw that she was not alone. He came closer and saw there was a man with her. She softly caressed his hair. When he saw that scene, his heart was filled with hatred and bitterness. He decided to rush at and kill them both mercilessly. However, he took a deep breath and he remembered the third piece of advice. Then he stopped, reflected and decided to sleep outside that night. He slept in the midst of the bushes, determined to make a decision the next day. At dawn, he was calmer and thought: I will not kill my wife and her lover. I am going […]

How earning “bread” instead of money can save a marriage!!!

The last time we talked about the various roles held by parents in their homes. All aimed at providing the best for the family. Two important roles are commonly required to run a home. They are in my opinion the bread-winning and the home-catering roles. In areas of the world were families are structured quite simply with traditions and educational restrictions placed on women, these responsibilities do not need any debate. The men assume the bread-winning role while the women automatically assume the home-catering role. Whichever role is undertaken by each parent, they become responsible for either making the money – dough or using the dough to provide what the family needs. If you missed that discussion, you can catch up here. In some families, the battle regarding who carries out the bread-winning role is non-existent. Both parents decide to carry out the home-catering role.While the children in these units get the equal attention of their parents, the sacrifice becomes that of the economy. This steers the primary sacrificial role which the parents are responsible for unfavourably towards society. Where true needs such as disability and illness exist in a family, genuinely negating the ability of both parents to provide for the family, responsible economies are structured to gladly pick up the tab and give all families a shot at survival on a reasonable income through benefits. However, unless this is the case, deciding that both parents become home-caterers means that families begin to lean unfavourably towards the economic structures described above. They then rely solely on “benefits” handed down by government for their survival. As a result of which the rest of the society are left overburdened with heavy tax liabilities to cater for these families. The constant abuse of the system by these parents bites deeply into the fabric of the economy. It unnecessarily punctures the economic purse, causing an income leakage which will otherwise be spent on providing infrastructure and amenities for society at large. The long term effect of such systematic abuse can impoverish the economy as they get to crippling levels of unemployment that cannot be sustained while national income nose dives. However, not all economies have social systems like the ones described above. In these economies the assumption of the home-catering role by both parents does not last as long as described above. Their structures are based on the no food for a lazy man concept. The inability to generate any income for the family quickly means a direct inability to thrive or survive. Therefore as poverty begins to pinch every member of the household, the logical means of survival becomes dependent on how quickly the bread-winning role is reassumed by one of the parents. ——————————————– Ideally a family where the bread-winning and home-catering roles are well defined will be more sustainable. Either role can be assumed by any member of the couple. Depending on how the couple is constituted- male, female or same sex. The fact remains that whoever assumes a role is as important as the other. There is the tendency to over emphasize the bread-winning role because the bread-winners bring in tangible and quantifiable elements into the home. They earn money and with money naturally come respect and status. This can leave the person assuming the home-catering role feeling “left out”. However, this should not be the case. Home-catering is actually a complementary role. Without the smooth running of the home, how will the bread winner and children thrive? The home-caterers provide intangible and most times unquantifiable elements into the home. Stability, presence, smooth running, organisation, and even home making elements are provided by this person. No one can serve money in plates to eat. Therefore, the home-caterer converts all earnings to their various uses. The buying and preparing of food, purchasing of clothes for kids, shopping and every little thing required for the smooth running of the home. As a home-caterer, there is the tendency to feel isolated. However, it is high time this role is placed on the pedestal it deserves which is in a position alongside the bread-winning role- not beneath or above. Both roles are of equal importance in the home. Just like with everything else requiring excellence, division of labour is also key. If such excellence must be achieved in the home, everyone must assume the role they are better at and then strike a balance. Where both parties decide to work, at least one person should work less perhaps part-time to provide support to the children. Tantrums and attention seeking behaviours are reduced to the barest minimum when at least one parent can give the required attention to children. It is important for parents to take parenting classes if they feel the need to. There are books and online communities available to provide support to families. There is no need for pride or shame, remember, you only get a shot at raising your kids. You cannot press a repeat button. It is important to get it right the first time and get help when you feel you are struggling. Photo credit: Pixabay If you enjoyed reading this, you may also like reading some others in this series.

For the sake of the children – Which “dough” do you make in your home? PART 2

Well as the title suggests, today, I stretched a bit too far. However, I can bet with you that is not in any way what you think. It’s not my finances, time or anything that (normal) people stretch but it was good old me that was stretched! When I say good old me, It is 100% me! Well I woke up this morning bright and early – early riser and all that (yay!) as I have become since I became a parent carer. You know the funny thing about that is that my brain tends to wake me way before the alarm clock (and unnecessarily at that because today as you know, I am in a hospital ward where that is done by the lovely nurses). Well my frustration did not reduce my need to do what I always do. I did what I have done from time immemorial against every giggle, advice or look from my disapproving parents, siblings, husband and wait for it… kids! Yes, silly kids that I once provided accommodation for (pregnancy and all that). I STRECHED! Yes you heard right… I stretched. In the mornings when I wake up I always treat myself to a satisfying stretch. Like a cat (holla to all the cat women out there !!! ) I always stretch. For all you stretch haters out there, as silly as this might sound, a stretch is the true meaning of being alive. It puts the “WAKE” into A-wake. It should be an art form because skilled stretchers like me can bend and twist into different shapes and positions. Do you know what the most prestigious part is? It is not a skill you can learn but a TA-lent (shaking my head up and down) that only a few of us are blessed with. Stretching is a bit like marmite… You can either stretch or you CAN’T! There is no room in between for fence sitters (blowing raspberries). A good stretch cannot even be rushed because after you execute a proper stretch you literally feel taller- no make that longer. In summary, a real stretch makes you ready to say “bring it on!” to your day. Well, just because I think you now have an idea about what a stretch means to me, we will continue (smiling). So I was enjoying one of my innocent stretches this morning when KRRRRrrrrrr…….. Something snapped! Next came the panic as I was hit by an excruciating pain garnished with a swallowed scream. I know others might call that scream muffled but it will not be a befitting description for the scream I just experienced. It was the type of scream where you open your mouth wide, draw the breath to scream out but at the same time, realise that your child is sleeping next to you, you do two things at the same time. Take a big blink or better still squeeze your eyes shut and Squeeze your mouth shut, letting not even as much as a sigh but swallowing very hard The next thing I felt was a ripple as goosebumps covered every inch of my body in a rippling way. I finished off the experience with very quick panting like the type we are taught in ante-natal class (I know the mums and nice dads who attended antenatal will know the panting i am talking about). I felt like the “Tom” in Tom and Jerry cartoons after yet another crash into one of Jerry’s traps with green wind escaping from my ears and eyes. I managed to hold in green wind from escaping my bottom (eeeurhh).All these happened in splits of seconds and I heard that internal scream reach deep into my soul and allowed the hot flush flow down into my tippy-toes. I automatically removed my palms from beside me and relocated them right behind my neck cupping them as my head seemed to get heavier Amidst all these, an interesting thing was happening in my head. I began hearing voices. At that point I was not sure why. It was either my nearly broken neck was affecting my brain or all my haters were haunting me. I felt like i could hear them in my head laughing hahaha… that serves you right! Well to be fair they could have gone all Awww…. bless you on the outside but I bet they would have laughed secretly at my expense. Anyway, as I bore my pain and approached the nurses station, hoping for a remedy, neck in hand, I narrated my ordeal amidst their giggles and pity, I began feeling uneasy. A sense of grief enveloped me as I listened to the ladies tell their stretch tales one by one. It was a secret sadness that I could not even bring myself to express. It had nothing to do with the pain I was still feeling. It was just because I felt lost. I had not actually managed to stretch completely before the accident. I felt shorter- Crinkled like a sheet. Squeezed like a piece of paper. Rumpled like an item of clothing desperately in need of a nice ironing to bring it to life. In fact I also was worried that I looked different- In an unstretched kind of way. Suddenly I remembered that I found my first grey hair last week. Could this be old age. Panic struck me! could this type of mishap be what i had to become accustomed to post-grey-hair and all that? So this is actually a cry for help! I need some tips on how to survive the next few unstretched days before my neck comes back to life. Cheers for reading. Photo credit: Pixabay If you enjoyed reading this, you may also like other topics in this series.

I stretched a bit too far!

I have the best iPhone in the country. I call it the best because it has stood the test of time in my books. It went through the Olympics, Queen’s diamond jubilee, Royal wedding, general election, Obama’s re-election and most recently the Brexit! I do not really see the need to replace it because I have formed a kind of bond with this chic. Yes Chic is the name I call my iPhone because she is one of a kind. For the roles she plays in my life, I am certain that if it were human it would be a woman– tough as old boots and as tough as they come! Apart from the societal milestones we have marked together, my two successful pregnancies were captured using that device. I forgot to mention that it holds tons of memories filled with photos and videos to show for all our time together. At one point, our time together kept being interrupted by messages that said “you are out of memory”. It became so clichéd.  I kept being told to delete some information to create more space. At no point did I consider erasing any memory. Instead, I expanded her storage capacity in order to give us more space to forge and store new memories. I do not mind that I may have overdone it, being a bonafide–tech-know–not that I am as I have bought every extra space on the cloud to keep us soaring. My husband cannot hide his jealousy because he keeps going on about how useless all that attention I give my phone is. Well, I don’t care as long as it enables her deliver on every promise she made me from the start when this love story began. She allows me carry my world in the palm my hands at all times. In my books, nothing else can beat that! She has ensured that every memory is never forgotten and always a fingertip away. My Chic is as lovely to behold as she was from the start. Her body still looks crisp and new. I invested a lot in her outer covering when we were first brought together… after all every lady needs her adornments. I religiously ensured that her home was in the faithful “case”. This phone has been through different regimes because I installed update after update until she became up to date with this day and age. All in all, it delivers on its promise of fantastic iPhoneism. In all honesty, we have also endured a rather bittersweet relationship at times. This has been mostly at the hands of my temperament, kids or moods. As for the kids, she has endured a fair share of disrespect but has forgiven all for my sake. It has been used as a teething tool, a toy, a hammer and most recently a pacifier. We recently formed a parenting partnership and honestly, she seems to have the knack for it better than I ever will especially during difficult times. It possesses excellent and enviable skills due to the endless array of apps she has acquired overtime. My son learnt to read his first words with her help. He learnt his writing and has consistently become better in these areas through the different activities she enables him engage in. She is the only one that can keep him quiet when he starts screaming for attention at the wrong time especially when we are outside the house. Unlike me, this Chic has kept an open mind as regards envy and jealousy. She was not bothered by the adoption of new devices and gadgets into our home. iPhone6, iPad, camera, Satnav and the rest of the brood of gadgets do not even bother her because she knows that they do not have it in them to endure the type of shocks she can. So time and time again Chic has shown her superiority and always beckons due to her strength and toughness. Well, as I look through the time I have spent with this Chic of an iPhone, it is with grief that I am allowing myself confront the prospect of a life without her. Right now I am enveloped in a cloud of sadness and disbelief as I accept that perhaps everyone is right. She may be truly on her last days…I cannot imagine the prospect of life without her. I am sitting here with her on my lap and sadly she has been unresponsive to every tap, press and even whisper. Save for smacking her (which I never do to anyone except myself during a mosquito outbreak at home in Africa). She is here staring back at me with a blank expression. My husband gave me a warning in the past about backing up all the memories I have stored and shared with this Chic and thankfully I have secretly adhered. I kept my compliance very close to my chest for fear of tempting fate. I love my phone. I will never replace her while she still lives. I take all my vows very seriously especially when I use the three magic words “ I love you” on a creature– living or not grrr! I am instead promising to make adjustments to accommodate her frailty because I am certainly not letting go; at least not without a fight! My plan A is to buy other equipment to support her for the rest of her life. Like a camera, camcorder, GPS, laptop. Paper map, Walkman…  o dear (gasping)… the list is getting endless… and just put her to her traditional use-making and receiving calls…Surely this should add a few months or even years to her age. I shall possibly acquire a backpack to carry all my newly acquired auxiliary equipment. I suspect that the weight of the equipment will keep me quite sedentary and hey listen to this! She might become jealous because we will spend less time together with my attention split between all those gadgets. Therefore for now since I don’t […]

Short story : Time to say goodbye to Chic…my iPhone best friend!

One important characteristic of being a parent is the ability to make sacrifices for the benefit of one’s offspring. By offspring I refer to children: male/female, adult or toddler. The sacrificial element of parenthood is not even compromised by factors such as age, sex or even the position held by the offspring with respect to its place among other siblings in the family. Parents by their nature empty their love unto their offspring totally. As a result of this love, the decision to give up time, energy, hobbies, careers etc for the benefit of children are taken seriously by well-meaning parents. This is true for most parents all around the globe. However the ease and swiftness with which sacrificial decisions are reached means that sadly, many parents do not weigh the consequences completely. These consequences affect all parties ultimately placing a degree of strain on relationships within the family unit if continuously left unabated. As families enlarge in different parts of the world, the real costs (tangible and intangible) of parenthood begin to surface. It becomes quite imperative (at some point) that parents break down roles and responsibilities between each other in other to ensure the smooth running of the home. Two important roles are commonly required to run a home. They are in my opinion the bread-winning and the home-catering roles. In areas of the world were families are structured quite simply with traditions and educational restrictions placed on women, these responsibilities do not need any debate. The men assume the bread-winning role while the women automatically assume the home-catering role. Whichever role is undertaken by each parent, they become responsible for either making the money – dough or using the dough to provide what the family needs. I will use the term bread-winning role throughout this discussion loosely to describe the role that encompasses all activities relating to earning an income for the family to survive. The amount of tangible earnings accumulated by the bread-winner determines the level of comfort to be enjoyed by every member of the family. Similarly, the home-catering role as a term will be used here to describe every activity that provides care and support for the home including and not restricted to activities like housekeeping, cooking, running errands, shopping etc. Although it is not usually remunerated, this role also entails activities that disburse the earnings provided by the bread winner. These earnings are used to see to the day to day running of the home. This role although not directly winning the bread for the family, physically presents the “daily bread” to the rest of the family in various forms. In more complex societies as well as developing societies, the dynamics of the two roles described above are different. We see roles assumed by either parent as well as being easily swapped between them depending on various factors. Increasingly, women have become more empowered educationally and are not expected by society to sit around catering for the home. There are now regular instances of men deliberately assuming the home-catering role and so the clichéd role of women as such does not hold in these societies. In families where egos are high with less communication abilities between couples, the assumption of the bread-winning role becomes the basis for competition. As a result of which the ever important home-catering role slips into the background leaving the children suffering and crying for attention. Some children are left with minders and day care centres. These providers who although primarily set up to provide temporary back up care have increasingly become the main catering providers for parents within and outside the home. Unfortunately being profit driven, the interests of children become relegated as their need for financial gains outweigh the individual needs of children. The kids find themselves at the mercy of the world as they continually slip in priority both with their parents and carers. As society continues to evolve, the problems of abandoned children continue to erode every sphere. They degenerate from constantly seeking their parents’ attention without success to truancy and mischief as they grow older. They continue their search for attention until they transform into complete menaces to society and broken individuals in themselves. They in no time grow to become empty parents themselves devoid of love and attention. Having nothing but their physical and emotional absence to offer their children, the cycle continues. To be continued…. Thank you for reading Photo credit: Pixabay If you enjoyed reading this, you may also enjoy similar topics in this series.  

For the sake of the children – Which “dough” do you make in your home?

gate pic
The beautiful gate was a gate referred to in the Bible book of Acts1. There is a story told about a man crippled from birth. He always went to the gates called “beautiful”. What a lovely name for a gate. This man chose to sit there. His hope was to get enough alms to survive on a day-to-day basis. People must have looked down on him as a beggar with only perhaps a few stopping to throw the odd coin into his hat or cap. But one day, one blessed day, Peter and John walked past and he begged them as he did everyone else. He was given what he needed the most. Which he was not even asking them for- his healing. Praise God! His ankles and legs became stronger and he could walk. He was healed to the extent that he was jumping and praising God. Every day, we sit at this beautiful gate in so many different ways.  Sometimes in prayer and and other times by literally asking for someone’s help. Trusting for an answer to solve the problem we think is most important. The good news is that we only need to persevere in prayer and believe that soon God will send our answer which may take the form of our very own Peter and John to help us in the way that is best for us. You do not want answers to prayers in ways  you think is best but in the way God sees as the most important answer for you. Remember that God’s ways and thoughts are never like ours2. He will also never give us what is not good for us. He is the perfect father3. You must have the confidence when you pray that our God will meet you at that beautiful gate and perfect all that concerns your life4. There is only one formula for this type of answer- Perseverance. Nobody said God cannot answer speedily. However, sometimes, he does not. We have to keep asking without despairing. Remember the word of God says we should keep asking, seeking and knocking and that if we keep at it, we will receive5. These are not my words but the words of Jesus. Jesus even talks about a friend who comes to ask for bread at midnight and is sent away. He tells us that although he was sent away countless times he persists and in the end, his persistence pays off. His friend rises up not just to give him bread but gives him as many as he needs6. So I draw you back to the beautiful gate. The gate of prayer, keep persevering, stay strong, focus on God, have confidence in the knowledge that soon, your answer will surely come! Footnotes Acts 2:1-10 Isaiah 55:8 Luke 11:11-13 Psalm 138:8 Luke 11:9-10 Luke 11:5-8 Photo credit: Pixabay

The Beautiful gate of Prayer

I am sitting here staring straight ahead. What I see is myself in a room full of all sorts. To my right is an endless array of things. Items that comprise both important and useless stuff but I won’t bore you with the details. To my left though is the window. It is not even a proper window. It does not open out fully. On hot days, the window is just wide enough to permit only enough air for us to breathe in and nothing more. There is never extra left for cooling us down therefore we are often left baking and dripping with thick sweat! Well, the reason the window has caught my attention tonight is for a totally different reason. I stare through them fairly regularly because they allow me take in the outdoors. There isn’t much of a view from here but I just sit here all the time telling my son (who by the way is never interested) about how my day has been. While staring out of this window, I tell him how much he is loved, how much we want him to get better and remind him of how proud we are of his resilience and oomph for life. I am not particularly sure that he realises that I am even speaking to him but he enjoys watching me speak. Not in an engrossed way but in a shut-up-mummy kind of way because, I use a tone that cuts through every activity he might otherwise be busy with. The only tone he understands- a sing-ey tone. Well, this nice cool evening, as I was about to begin my speech at 8.30pm, I noticed it was getting dark. Summer was finally over. The long days were finally winding down. I know I have had better summers but this particular summer just seemed to arrive and fly by too quickly. Ping, ping, ping!!! I thought I had better check. It was a very good friend of mine. He was having a good day and just dropped the pings to say hi. Something struck me as we played the ping-pong chatting game. He called me a writer and wished me more success. That … I did not understand. Writer? Me? No way!!! Writers are important people. They are recluse and have no time for other people. I feel like they must also be very quiet and polite. Have a huge sense of humour and read truckloads of books. Real writers must be loners and have no friends to distract them. I also feel like one has to at least have one book apart from school projects and assignments published to be eligible for that title. I was anything but these. I certainly did not possess any of these fine attributes. All I knew how to do was write down my thoughts and nothing more. People keep referring to me as a writer and it always feels weird. I just like to write down things as I see and feel them. I do not possess a degree in writing. I have never published a story. I have too many friends and I am certainly too distracted to sit still long enough to WRITE. I started this piece by giving you a glimpse into my way of thinking, I just notice things. I spend hours talking to people but it gets to a point where you feel like you are taking up their time. Moreover, people hardly listen when you talk to them. They only listen when they come seeking your opinion. So I thank him and all of you who email me and address me as such. Writers are big important people and I am anything but that. Photo credit: Pixabay

How can anyone think that I am a WRITER ??

I have personally come to the conclusion that some people are devoid of feelings. No matter how I constantly try to bear the pain they cause by making excuses for them in my head they prey on my forgiving nature. They take me for a ride and cause me emotional damage. Their hearts have developed hard shells pumping venoms instead of blood around their body. In the end they are transformed into a brick wall barricading any affection thrown towards them. No matter how nice you are to these kinds of people, all they ever seem to do is throw all your kindness back at you. The sad thing is that most times, despite being aware of the possibility of being treated in this way, you still put yourself in the firing line. The advice from well-meaning friends and family incessantly fall on your deaf ears. The harsh reality is that you feel helpless to these weird sorts of friend(s) you keep. You really want to get their attention but they are not budging. Today we will try to analyse some why that might be the case. Perhaps by seeing some of these reasons, we will be better equipped to reassess the course of action that will be best in dealing with such relationships. Here are six interesting reasons why they keep knocking you back :   They are just mean: just so you know from the start, and stop beating yourself up about not getting the attention you deserve because they may just be mean. The same way you find yourself super nice is how they find themselves super mean. Yes like the devil’s incarnate kind of mean. They cannot just help themselves. It is in their DNA. You must accept that there are some people who have a directly opposite character to yours. It’s hard to believe but they too must be wondering how you can keep being so nice in spite of all they are throwing your way. They had a bad childhood: a childhood devoid of much love or expressions of love can leave a child with some deficits in the aspect of reciprocating love. It may leave them without the ability to properly express or show love (since they had no adult modelling such behaviour to them during childhood).Some are too scared to show love because they feel that any display of simple affection or appreciation may be a sign of weakness. As a result, they avoid informal interactions erecting emotional brick walls to put off people like you who come across to them as “nicey-nicey”.No one can claim to have a monopoly over bad childhood as no childhood is perfect. Certainly some childhoods were more desirable than others. That has not stopped people with less desirable childhood circumstances from turning out well with fairly acceptable social interaction skills to go with it.Even the so called fantastic picture perfect childhoods can be very overrated as they do not always produce the best adults too.I accept that what happens in our childhood plays a big role in shaping and moulding us. However, I also believe that at some point (as we become aware and can discern good and bad behaviour) we must take responsibility for our actions towards others especially when we become adults. By seeing the effect your actions have on other people, we can begin to find better ways to treat people. We can also learn more acceptable ways of interacting and making ourselves better people. They are just busy:It may be that you are choosing your moments badly. Ever heard of “bad timing”? You may be a victim. You need to learn to choose your moments better. Some people may not necessarily be mean. They may just be very busy or worse for you, very professional. You need to try not to be too informal at the wrong time. It may be that your nice gestures are always inappropriately timed rendering them ”awkward” and leading to definite rejection. Read the context. You also need to be considerate and “swap shoes” with this person. Perhaps you will have the same reaction to your kind gesture too if the tables were turned. They do not like you:As much as I hate to burst your bubble, this is a big possibility too. The person probably just does not like you. Let’s face It … we cannot be loved by everyone. Even Jesus was hated by the people he was only even nice to. He cured them of their diseases, fed them with manna and even raised some of them from the dead. What could have been better than that? It did not stop him being hated! So you see, it’s not an entirely alien possibility. Some people can just hate you for something or nothing. For even existing, they hate you. For getting promoted…hate! for breathing…beef! Others hate your guts, your face, your swag…. In fact the list is endless. So just accept it and move on because really, it’s no big deal. They are tired: This may be the reason why your niceness is being thrown back at you.. Luckily not everything is about you. They may just be genuinely tired. What they are tired of is another story but the good news is that it has nothing to do with what you have done or forgotten to do. They may be physically tired and stressed out. Perhaps you keep coming to them at the end of their day when they would rather relax before driving home. So although you may not have chosen a bad time, the stress levels leaves them indisposed to connecting with you. As a result, they may come across as very irritable, temperamental and impatient! You need to consider this option and stop beating yourself up. Tiredness can lead to high stress levels. Stress can make people behave in the oddest ways. It has been known to be one of the courses of overreaction. It will be a good idea to assess a person’s mood […]

6 reasons you are getting knocked back

Do you keep getting asked this question? You see, this may be the opinion and vibe you get from some quarters.  You may have always brushed this off as silly talk. Today however, we will do something different. You can engage in an out of body experience like I do sometimes. I like to call it that because it’s a state that can make you feel numb. You replay all the events in your life regarding a particular issue and sit on the side-lines watching as a spectator would. Next you review your actions and imagine it was being done to you. You ignore the reality that you were the one who was the actual actor in the movie that is your life. After that, you zoom on the issue and look closely at it again to see if you will come to the same conclusion that others have reached about you. Well, that was just to give you an illustration about the out of body experience I was particularly referring to as we all know there are different types. This one is not the witchcraft type (ha! It’s always best in my books to clarify things for the avoidance of doubt). Looking at the issue closely, I think technically some of us can really be secretive.  However, it is not for the reasons we are accused of especially when the secrecy in question to has to do with keeping quiet about achieving a mile stone, completing a task, organising an event… you know, those sorts of secrets. You see when there is a task to complete; I believe more in getting on with it than talking about it. After all action they say speaks louder than words. I have found that talking about a plan saps all the strength needed to carry it out. It seems a bit easier to just act things out. For instance if I want to redecorate my living room, I will just get busy with the project. The reason is simple, like everyone else; I am too keen to see the finished work to be wasting any second deliberating or conferring. I want to see how it will look for starters. I am always very keen from the start to remove any pressure that will be imposed on me as a result of creating expectation in people. The more ears hear, the more eyes will analyse my work and ultimately the more pressure I will feel. I am no expert in life but the best things do not start off being perfect. They go through many stages in the refining process. It’s like an artist or writer not exhibiting their work until they have totally finished creating the masterpiece. You do need various kind hearted (and sometimes mean) opinions distracting or tilting your focus. Honestly, starting a project, you may not even know what to expect the work to look like until you finish. If you are like me then you will find that you are just mostly filled with all these little bits of ideas and thoughts about how to go about things like; placing this here or painting that in a particular colour. Ideas upon ideas keep piling up in your head waiting to bubble out and be tried. You may just be quiet about things because you want to be able to make your mistakes privately and learn from them. This is the safety net that you find in the solitude of the privacy you avail yourself by being a bit hush hush… You raise your head from time to time when you need help or pointers. Sometimes talking about a plan so much inscribes it on stone and you feel a bit embarrassed about changing all or part of the plan. You risk worrying about not being taken seriously. This impedes your creativity. Skills are honed after a lot of trials and failures. Something may seem like a perfect way to execute only to begin and the path it will lead to opens up. It can be like a maze sometimes, until you actually start, you really are blind to all the potential twists and turns you are likely to encounter. Before the starting point, these twists and turns are all hazy ideas but as you begin and etch closer to various action points, their potentials become clearer and less hazy. This means some action points are subject to change where impractical. In my case, I have tried and tested this many times and it has worked. I seem to thrive better in that solitude of silence. So when you find that I have accomplished a huge deal and feel left in the dark, please do not take it personal. It was not intentionally done to cause offence. It was done to give me a sense of direction. To remove the distraction caused by scrutiny. To reduce the distraction caused by worrying about bringing disappointment if it failed. Know that of every action I have accomplished, there may have been ten others that failed but the fact that you are still unaware of them means I can keep trying without feeling that I am a joker. So today, it may be a good idea to communicate more with people who love you about why you choose to be private about certain issues. It can be annoying to feel left in the dark even when it is for a positive reason. I hope that by sharing this and knowing you are not alone in this regard and dispel the weight of criticism regarding your need for privacy. Everyone deserves to be able to keep things close to their chest if needed just as long as you also respect the privacy of others. Thank you for reading. Photo credit: Pixabay You may also enjoy some others in this  series  

Why are you always so secretive?

I have always wondered why Jesus came into this world poor. Why not rich with all the luxuries and pleasures of life? He could have conjured wealth if he wanted. After all He showed that he could when he brought out a coin from the mouth of a fish in the book of Matthew1. I think it was because he wanted us to learn how to be detached from the pleasures of this world. Detachment in the loose sense of the word means an inability to connect2 (Wikipedia). It is a state of independence from persons, objects and even ideas. One who is detached is very free from the attachment that can be formed as a result of the influence, pressure or pleasure arising from the use of or association with an object or thing. It is like experiencing but without any sentiment. It may not necessarily mean coldness or aversion but mainly staying objective and not allowing one’s decision to be influenced by the pleasure that may be derived from the activity or object to the extent of being unable to let go of it at any point in time. Jesus did not want us to be distracted by wealth and riches if he possessed them. We could have undermined his ministry and thought “Well, he was able to do that because he was rich enough to afford it”. He constantly wanted us to appreciate the temporary nature of such worldly treasures. Everything material is passing. Heaven and earth as mighty as they are will surely pass away3. Remember that Jesus is the living word. It was his way of saying that “he” was going to stay relevant. By coming into the world in poverty, he was able to connect with both the rich and the poor. His message became universal. How many times have we undermined “celebrities” who try to be humanitarian, caring and loving by thinking that they are not in touch with the realities of the common men on the street? We reinforce that feeling with the thought that they are able to express their kind gestures only because they can afford to. We place them on a pedestal and feel that they are not in the real world. We accept their kindness but reject some of their genuine motives. By being poor, Jesus became more of a man like us all. He automatically showed that he was in touch with our realities. His examples became iconic as they were expressed despite his lowliness and lack of material wealth. He cut through the divide of the man-made strata of rich, poor, fortunate or unfortunate, healthy or sick. The type of poverty that Jesus possessed went beyond earthly poverty based only on possessions and amassing wealth. It also included poverty of hearts leading to humility. He reiterated it throughout his teachings. Jesus shows us the ultimate example by washing his disciple’s feet4. He taught the lesson of humility and service. Service in love and not in thinking too highly of one‘s self. A lesson that keeps us remembering that we are dust and dust shall we return5. Jesus also pointed out the advantage of poverty as a means to perfection. He once asked a rich young man to sell all his belongings and give to the poor to complete his quest for perfection6.Of all the commandments that one can keep, the commandment of absolute surrender, complete trust and confidence in God’s providence completes our selfless service to God. Embracing poverty means thinking nothing of one’s self, stepping out and sharing all we have- material and immaterial with others until we leave our body and soul empty enough to be completely filled by the providence of the spirit of God. The possession of material wealth gives an assurance and confidence in our ability to stand on our feet irrespective of where life throws us. Except we can rid ourselves of this feeling, we will be unable to connect with the complete trust in God that can easily be experienced in poverty. Wealth can be material or immaterial. The wealth we can see and touch is material while the wealth we cannot see and touch is immaterial. Immaterial wealth can also be as distractive as tangible material wealth. Some examples of immaterial wealth include things like power, knowledge and fame. All wealth must be used to glorify God in order to encourage poverty in our hearts. Wealth and worldly possessions are not bad in themselves but they can distract the mind that seeks God. We cannot serve two masters7, so we must choose who we shall serve8. It is always a tough choice we must always bear in mind because everything will pass away in the end. It is in our nothingness that our complete trust in God is exercised. As there is no hope elsewhere but to trust the alpha and omega to turn our situation around while making it bearable as it persists. Such trust has been rewarded on several occasions. In the Bible, the story unfolds about a widow who amidst drought and abject poverty gave Elijah the prophet her last morsel of bread in charity and love9. We see she was rewarded with a constant supply of flour. This is the confidence we have that our God will continue to reward the love we show in poverty. Jesus is also not in any way looking for hand-outs from people. We know some preachers emphasise giving and giving as a means to an end. Some say you give and God will continually bless you. Firstly, what is important is your disposition as you give. We should give without grudging. We must give without showing off. We must give because of love not just because we can give10. See the story of the widow’s mite in the bible11. Jesus emphasises on the sacrificial nature of the widow’s gift. It showed complete confidence in the divine provision of God. Giving must be without reservation and out of true […]

Lesson on poverty

Have you ever noticed the similarity between Later and Tomorrow? They are both moments in time that lie ahead and never come. Their major difference being- the timeline. If we look at the two of them like journeys; Tomorrow feels like miles away while Later feels nearby and more like an arm’s length away. Tomorrow seems far off while Later is the future that feels touchable, foreseeable. What you need to realise is that those timelines are mirages in time. The nearer you get to them, the farther they get thrown ahead. You never realise this until you look back and see that a lot of time has been wasted. The solution? Is to focus on another piece of the timeline called NOW!!! Now! is the time you have. It feels touchable because it is this exact moment you are standing within. Now! Is when you need to start acting. Now! Is the time for change. Now! Is the time to make a difference. Now! Can be the time to break down that barrier that Later and Tomorrow create by their mere existence. Now! Is the time to make that plan. Now! Is the time to move towards that dream because trust me… It’s either Now or NEVER! It doesn’t matter how big a step you take. You can walk. You can trot. You can crawl. You can even stroll into that plan. As long as you keep moving towards the plan, you will solve the riddle about How you will achieve it. The new question will not be about If you will achieve it but When you will achieve the goal you have set out to achieve with the plan. For with Ifs lie probability whereas Whens are more beautiful for they hold the promise of certainty. Until you start to make the commitment right Now, you will never reach the unreachable. Don’t put it off till later or worse still tomorrow. They will never come but there is only Now. If you are waiting for the right time, then you will join the league of procrastinators. It’s an interesting league of moaners waiting for perfection in timing. Achievers realise early that there Is never really a right time. That will be a luxurious train that actions needed to get things done will need to ride on. All that is required is the opportunity resting within the time which is always found in “Now”- That you are alive. That you can breathe. When you can actually make that move. It might not be the best move but because it’s your move, it may be all that is really necessary. You will never know the outcome of that move if you do not try it out Now. If it is the right move, Hurray! If it is not, tick it off your list of moves knowing for sure that it is not a move that works. That allows you conserve your time and energy for other more promising moves in your moves–sack. We have no control over the mix of circumstances life will give us to work within. They are not only constantly coming at us from all angles but there are endless arrays of them. They render the right–timer’s quest for stability before action futile. What we must do to overcome, is to make the best out of what we have got Now. In the uncertainty and chaos that sometimes becomes the definition of life first comes confusion, then endurance, perseverance, attention, stillness… because as soon as you hit rock bottom, there is  a calmness in the despair that arises. Leaving the options available approachable without fear of sinking further as there is nothing left to lose. At the bottom of life, there is no other way out but Up! So pick yourself up today and embrace this opportunity for change which is right here and right Now. Photo credit: Pixabay

The only time to take action is NOW !!!

Life can be so unpredictable. One minute to the next can be so dissimilar. There was sad news today about a young man locally who was killed in a collision while crossing the road. It was such a shame, a shock even. When I got the news update on my phone, I just automatically assumed he was going to be okay after a few treatments in the hospital. Sadly, he never made it. While saying my prayers for the repose of his soul, I remembered his family. It was all quite surreal. The thought that this time yesterday he would not have known he would meet his demise today. It made me shudder and ponder about how much of a privilege it is to still walk this earth. Living the life we have become accustomed to with our son Fred, we have come to appreciate more the value of life. One would think that the unpredictability of Fred’s health from one day to another will keep him permanently at death’s door. Thankfully we are blessed  to still share each day together as a family. Things like this put our lives into perspective. We all go out every day and carry out our daily activities. Some of us are healthy while others struggle. In the end, we are all still here. When life seems unbearable, it is a fact to keep in mind. Some things will always take centre stage in our lives  – family for starters. It all boils down to family at the end of the day. Spending time as a family irrespective of  where we are or what we are passing through is very important to us. Problems will come and go but we must always pray that the pot of success will drop by our door steps very often. It is important not to allow our minds to be consumed with how to acquire material wealth or success. Although they are meant to make our lives more comfortable, they are not supposed to take over our lives. Let us still find time to pay attention to those we love and care about too. Friends and family alike In the end, we do not know how long we have to stay in this world. All we can do is make every living moment count. Let us create memories and hopefully pleasant ones. They are the real treasures to acquire. Someday soon we will come to realise that they are the most important. The memories we share with people when they are still alive become lasting treasures that we can hold on to when they are no more. It is my prayer that all of us who have to survive every day will find the strength to soldier on daily. Photo credit: Pixabay

Emergency : A reminder about how unpredictable life can be !

I have just woken up and it’s 2am in the morning . The more I think about it, the more I realise that I have not just “woken up”  as I would like to think. I have just been woken up by the sound of my husband purring into my ears. You know how they purr after the children have gone to bed and they have probably sat up most of the night beside you doing something or nothing? In fact I think they just draw you with their eyes until you can literally feel their need for you burn your skin till you wake up! Well, that type. I wanted him too but not in the way he thought. It was more in a cuddle me I am freezing kind of way which honestly would not have been the case if he pulled the duvet back on my body when it came off instead of doing whatever it is men like to do when their wives go to bed!  In the end, it turned out to be as eventful as always. However, here I am after all the groove  not able to go back to sleep. It’s funny how the night feels so cold because the day was otherwise excruciatingly hot. You would not believe my African origin if you saw my exasperated look today during all the heat. It was not just the exhaustion and discomfort of the heat that struck me today, it was the feelings I experienced that were more interesting. Unlike others, the peaking of summer today was tormenting for me. While many basked in the joy of having the long awaited summer, I grieved. As the heat hit my skin, I was just tired of still being here in this situation- urrghhh!. My son was still poorly in hospital and all I wanted was to take him home to enjoy the summer. The swings would have been better than doing the acrobatics he was limited to on his bed. Some fresh air in the park would have been nice for him. A roll in the sand would have been better rolling in his bed sheets. I just felt so frustrated like a child. I wanted to just screaaamm.  I also wanted to cry and even run. I really wanted to be anywhere but here. Then I remembered I was not even the sick person. How was my boy even feeling, being here instead of in his safe haven- at home. Suddenly I became flooded by guilt. It felt like all my feelings were running riot. Each feeling popping up but being discarded as irrelevant almost in the same instant. It was an overwhelming feeling of helplessness. I just felt exhausted by the yoyoing going on inside me. I had to remember as well as recite all my mantras. I needed to reach my core, my center, the depths of my soul. I had to find my inner peace… . The prayers and songs that always made me realise that as bad as things were with him, they could have been much worse were said. I still needed a distraction because try as I may, the thoughts just kept pouring in. I was not going to let them drown me. Never! So, I spent the next few hours dissipating my negative energy into a colouring book. It still ended up being a futile exercise because for a strangely odd reason,  the pattern I created resembled an old wrapper (an African material tied around the body)  that I once owned and hated! I knew I needed to take a break for a few moments. It was time for plan B which never failed. It had been my go to plan every single time I felt stuck. I did it today as always…. I took a walk… A looooooong walk. The beauty about walking was that it always felt exhilarating at the end (at least for me). Procedure: Your legs just carry you. All you need is to put one foot in front of the other. In no time, you get lost in your own thoughts and start to sort them out in your head. The next thing you know, as you sweat and take in the nature around you, elation comes ever so slowly but surely. Then comes the turn of the happy hormones to get released by your brain making everything much lighter and better.  At least for me, this is always the case. You see, I am only human like the rest of you and the nice weather unexpectedly triggered a recollection of lovely memories that I had once enjoyed but could not recreate immediately. I desperately wished and longed for the happier, more stable times. There was a sense of urgency attached to my need to escape the present and with each passing moment (of even hotter and steamier sunshine as the sun rays beamed down mercilessly), all I wanted was to make everything stop!!! My brain just fixated on these thoughts until I started to feel broken. I started to go through my gratitude list in my head as I walked. Thanking God for all we had now and trying to replace the sadness and helplessness with gratitude for all I had. The beauty of a gratitude list is that after you have physically written down all that is going well in your life, and all you do is thank God for the items that make it to your list one by one, Even something as silly as being able to chew a very delicious bar of chocolate can make it to the list. Over time, you remember that list so easily even when you do not have the paper to hand. Yes… that’s because dwelling on your gratitude list always made you realise that for instance if you were sick or sicker than you are, you would not even manage to enjoy your life in its current state. So while i embarked on this […]

Summer Blues : How the much anticipated “heat wave” left me distraught.

I have just concluded tonight that the worst and most sure way to fail is to resolve not to fail! Hahaha maybe I did not really mean it in the way it just came out. It’s just that my experience today has left me in no doubt that as soon as one decides to make a resolution; it appears God (nature or however you prefer to put it) takes it so seriously that the first few minutes after you make the resolution these forces unleash the testers at you, honestly! It’s just like when you decide to stop shopping and spending ridiculous amounts of money on items you don’t really need. Have you ever noticed that in no time, sales and mouth watering price slashes happen to make you doubt the timing of your resolve? How about when you give up the booze and walk into a free booze declaration by a friend at the unlikeliest moment! How irritating is that? I can go on and on with the examples but I think you catch my drift. Today was one of those days. I resolved to increase my fibre (fruit and vegetable) intake. But guess what? No sooner had I made my mind up than a nice parent appeared with a yummy tub of Pringles (surely saying no would be rude.) She even specifically said that as soon as she saw it on the shelf in store, it had my name written all over it (everyone knows that I have a relationship with Pringles). So I walked away from the parent’s kitchen, tub in hand, salivating like crazy. Just one crispppp I thought. But I knew like always that that one crisp especially on an empty stomach will be equal to ten crisps until the tub was empty. I got to my corner of the ward and tied it up in 4 plastic bags (cursing the manufacturers of the said crisps for making them so irresistible). Next came the array of deliciousness at the lagoon restaurant! This morning, they had the yummiest of the yummies or rather crème-de-la-crème of the palatable kingdom on display. It was supposed to be a trip to buy some vegetables and a light meal. I just kept avoiding any eye contact with the lady dishing out the portions of food for sale. I definitely had to escape without the question “so, what will you be having today” because that would have been an automatic YES from me! Luckily she was preoccupied with another customer by the time it reached my turn. The nice young man on duty went straight to business and asked me no further questions. My day went well after that with enough water, vegetables and fruits. For lunch I had a lovely bowl of rice and some fish. However, just as I was about to give myself a hi- five for a job well done, I met that parent from earlier who innocently asked me if I enjoyed my Pringles. Although we discussed many other things, she had unknowingly replanted the crispy thought in my head. As we chatted in the parents’ room, I summoned the last ounce of courage to decline the yummy pizza triangle one of the parents had thoughtfully bought for everyone. Right now I am trying my best to resist finishing the full tub of crisps but so far I am nearly half way through. The good news is that I had enough food through the day to keep me away from the full tub. Now that the craving has been quenched, I can set myself up for a better day tomorrow. So while I will not call this day a complete disaster, it is fair to say that it did not really go as perfectly as planned. Thanks for catching up with me today. Have you noticed these tests in your own life after making simple resolutions? Or do you think it’s really just me? Photo credit : Pixabay  

Why I nearly turned down a harmless tub of Pringles

Life is not a competition. We live. We toil. We struggle. We love. We play. We are happy. We are sad. We think….All the things we do… are done … to survive. We have to live life to the fullest every day. But while we all exist alongside one another, while our eyes can see constantly… what others can do … what others have done and what others will do…we must never lose sight of the fact that… IT’S NOT A RACE! Even though it feels that way sometimes especially when we are constantly competing and trying to outwit or out shine one another. It’s not a race let alone a competition. It’s easy to lose sight of this fact. As we seek to impress and crave acknowledgement. At the end of the day, it is every man for himself… everyone at their pace… everyone with their abilities… everyone with their strengths yet all drawn back by their weaknesses. It doesn’t even matter if you get there… it doesn’t matter if you do well… it doesn’t matter if you stumble… it doesn’t matter if you fall… it does not even matter if you fail… what matters is that you tried! It is only those who enter the race with even as little as a trial that have the possibility of crowning their endeavours with success. In fact, the real losers are those who stopped trying along the way. Life in itself is precious… in whatever shape or form it takes… strong or weak… tall or short… Mr endowed or not. Don’t wait until you are losing it… don’t wait until it is slipping away to value your life and appreciate what is really important. The important stuffs are not mainly in the things we chase daily. They lie in the ones we cannot see or feel… deep within us adding substance to our lives. If we nurture them daily, then they will enrich our personalities making us more attractive to others. They are kindness, love, empathy, sympathy, mercy, peaceful coexistence with one another. We must keep our sanity by quitting the habit of constantly comparing ourselves with others. Contentment is one of the key elements of sustainable happiness in this journey of life. By being contented with what we have now it does not mean we are excluded from wanting more from life. It just means that when we try only where reasonably possible. It is never at the expense of anyone. So that when we finally get all we want, it will be worth the wait in the end because at the end of the day, IT IS NOT A RACE ! Photo Credit : Pixabay  

Why you should stop competing with others

I was struck as always by the story of the good Samaritan when I read it today. I am sure that I have heard that story like a thousand times. But it is such a beautiful story especially now during this year of mercy as declared church-wide by Pope Francis. It gets me thinking about mercy in a different way every single time I read it. Since this declaration was made by the pope, how (as Christians) have we viewed mercy? What do we think about when we hear the word mercy being spoken about? We should be looking at mercy from two angles: the mercy we are shown and the mercy we can show to others. Similarly, the mercy we are shown can be split further into two categories: The mercy we are shown by God and the mercy we receive from man. It is my opinion that the mercy we receive from God should be the most important object of our attention. For from that mercy flows the grace to show mercy to others and the grace to ignore the failings of men when they refuse to show mercy to us. We truly have no control over the mercy we receive. What we have is the reassurance that unlike man, the mercy we receive from God is unfailing, undying and unwavering. On the other hand, what we have control over is the mercy we can show to others. That is because it is the only genuine two-fold difference we can make-with our lives and in the lives of others. We achieve this with each singular act of mercy we show. Since we cannot guarantee how much mercy we receive from others, God’s mercy exists to perfect every yearning our souls might have for mercy. Looking up at the crucifix, we see in it the symbol of the outpouring of God’s mercy through Christ. Two ordinary pieces of wood transcend time to symbolise the suffering and death of  an innocent man Jesus Christ out of his pure love and mercy towards us. This fount of mercy was outpoured once and for all at the cross of Calvary when a lance pierced the side of Jesus, releasing the water and blood of mercy from Jesus. The grace of God is sufficient for us. When we plant ourselves by the river of life which is Christ, we will not lack mercy. This is the mercy that Jesus refers to in this parable of the Good Samaritan. It is the type of mercy that breaks down boundaries of duty, prejudice, and self righteousness. It is the mercy that humbles us and makes us not only realise our mortality but appreciate that the true meaning of our lives is in reciprocating this mercy which we freely receive from God. Prejudice is rotten. It has infiltrated mankind and made an absolute mess of the wealth and variety with which God spiced up his creation. Prejudice requires everyone to look exactly like you. It is the biggest lie of Satan . It is planted to set all of mankind against each other. It says there should be no difference between people. It makes us fight these differences among one another when we should embrace the power that we acquire as a result of the variety of cultures, languages, races, religions, beliefs and so on that exist in humanity. St Paul says that Christ is the image of God1. When we allow God’s truth flow through us, accept his mercy and do his will, we become like God. We assume this image too. By assuming God’s image, we serve him perfectly in others by showing mercy and breaking down all prejudice and barriers to our mission of service to God. By dismantling prejudice, our lives become richer. We begin to store up our treasures in heaven where they cannot be destroyed 2. What are you doing to make a difference in another person’s life? Mercy is not just a mission for this year as announced by the Pope but a call to a new way of life for those who aspire to go to God’s kingdom. It is not about acquiring wealth but about giving health to the spiritual lives of the souls all around us. It is about affecting others positively. When we are able to achieve this then we can proudly say that we are living our lives in style and with true purpose. May the good Lord continually show us his mercy and strengthen our walk with Jesus Christ today and always. Amen. Footnotes Colossians 1:15 Matthew 6:19-21 Photo Credit : Pixabay

The Good Samaritan – Breaking down barriers for mercy’s sake

specsavers post
As you know, I happily went to Specsavers after my regular opticians failed me last week. I told you all about it the last time but if you are just joining in on the gist you can read all about it here. The D-day for my appointment arrived even earlier than I planned because in my usual over-zealous nature, I decided to attend the store just by GOSH where my son is still an inpatient. I was not really coping without my reading glasses and decided to check out this nearby store (no harm in trial and all that!). I was as excited as a child who had been given a bowl of chocolate (I am surprised I said that since I hate chocolates!). Well the Specsavers same day advert I saw online fuelled my desire to try and so I decided to go for it. The bad news was that I did not have the common sense to decide that early. I arrived at the local store at about half past one in the afternoon and a nice lady took my details. She said my glasses could not be ready on the same day since she could only fit me in for the very last appointment of the day (to be fair I arrived at this store without any prior notice). It was a bit of a letdown for me (honestly I felt like that chocolate holding child from earlier only this time, the chocolate had fallen to the sandy ground!) but she noticed my expression. She immediately offered me an earlier slot to enable the glasses to be processed on the same day. You cannot imagine how I felt. My luck was definitely changing for the better. I was seen by another lovely lady who was very polite and had a comforting tone to her voice. In the next couple of minutes, my eye test was done and I was told to come back in an hour for my glasses. Do you know what the best part was? I was informed that the sight test was free. I had unknowingly walked into a store offer which I grabbed promptly with both hands. It all sounded too good to be true. One hour? I decided not to go back to the ward. I just sat around soaking up the atmosphere at Brunswick court. It was a bit windy but cool enough not to miss my jacket. I enjoyed a spot of window-shopping which by the way is one of my favourite hobbies and had light refreshments afterwards. By the time my hour was up, my glasses were waiting for me at the Specsavers store. It was super exciting. I was very thankful and left that store feeling well looked after. I can only say that they deserve 5 stars for the service I received that day. If you find yourself strolling by Brunswick court and in need of an eye test, I recommend Specsavers 100%. If you are lucky, you might even find a nice offer floating around the store like I did. Photo credit : Pixabay    

I really should have gone to Specsavers first ! – Part 2

My little boy : Mummy I think friends are special that’s why we cannot buy them in shops. They are made for us by God. So we should keep them and not throw them away. Me: where do we keep them then since you say they are special? My little boy : We keep them very close to us. Like my best friend, he sits next to me at school! Me: That’s what friendship is all about darling My little boy: Yes mummy I know what friendship is Me: What is it? My little boy: It is a ship for friends. Maybe I can buy one when I grow up. That was the conversation I woke up to… I wonder what made my son say this but it got me thinking about friends. It got me thinking about how they can be very special. I have had all sorts of experiences with friends. To be fair my demands on friendship are not particularly fair. my number one problem is with ‘returning visits’. This is the main architect of my misfortune with friendships. As a result of my peculiar life with an unwell child, finding the time to visit a friend has become a luxury that I cannot even afford. Good friends really don’t mind and I am blessed to have a few of them. The bad news is that I do mind. I like to pay my own way and in my books, taking the back seat in a relationship for whatever reason is just not fair to the other party. This means that I hibernate very easily. I don’t think it is fair that I demand all this care, companionship and attention from another human being. I recognise my inability to plough back as much energy into the whole process of forging relationships. I do not even come close. Life should always be give and take and as far as I am concerned, It is not fair that my friends do all the giving. As he spoke, I also remembered all the friends I once had. Some were either too far away or deceased. Those were friendships I had no control over anymore. Time or distance had erected a huge wall between us. They were gone but I realised my chance with the friends still beside me. My pride was the only wall blocking these friendly rays from beaming at me. Suddenly, I realised that all these people scattered around me are my friends- My stars. Hearing my son say those words innocently this morning just made me realise what I was truly missing out on. Having friends who willingly stood by me through thick and thin made me realise how fortunate I was. I really had to make the extra effort to keep them close. Just like my son said about his best friend at school. I vowed to reconnect with some long lost friends after all they knew that I never meant any harm by my silence. I really truly appreciate all my friends and hope to be a better friend to them. Life will continue to throw challenges at me but this little reminder from my boy was a wake-up call. Try to reconnect with someone today. Don’t let your pride get in the way. I say hello to you too for taking the time to read my blog. You too are a true friend. With a big smile spread across my face, I wish you a lovely day – FRIEND!   Photo Credit : Pixabay

Friends are like stars

specsavers post
So for some odd reason, my glasses gave up the ghost- it capooted ! That happened like a fortnight ago. I have since struggled. However as usual, there has been no time to fix the poor spectacles. It broke in two but in a way that thoughtfully spared my lenses. That was surely a good thing right? I was sure that it was going to be a simple case of purchasing new frames + cutting the old lenses into the new frames. I had the common sense to buy cool frames this time (not the previous granny type that just ‘thankfully’ broke!). It had to be a top notch one. I went for a French-connection pair this time and I definitely loved the brown colour. In my eyes, it suited my skin. Well, back to the present. I made time today to sort this glasses issue. In fact I was even excited. Not even because I was fixing my specs but because of the cool new frames. I got to my opticians just early enough not to need a prior appointment. Well, the lady at the desk looked like she had a chip on her shoulder. My first impression was that she had woken up on the wrong side of her bed with the look she had on her face. She just stared at me and said “yes, how can I help you today?” (in a ‘why are you here so early in the morning’ kind of way!). Well, I explained my mission and before I could finish she slammed me with “sorry we cannot do that cutting of old lenses thing. It’s just not something we can offer you” (in an ‘I know this was a time waster’ sort of tone). Errrhm she did not even ask to see the poor glasses stuck in my hand, neither did she ask to know my name or even offer me a seat! It was just sooooo annoying. But trust your girl to show her cool front. I beamed a smile at her, my political mode in full swing (sometimes diplomacy can take you places if you catch my drift). The smile seemed to irritate her because she did not even let me say anything before saying “well, is there anything I can help you with today?” OMG this was faster than being discharged from A&E with a minor injury! I was not having that at all. I shot her a disapproving look and next thing I knew she was trying to sell me a pair of frames. It was surprising that she was not even offering to replace my new frames with new lenses but was rather more concerned with selling me new ones from her shop (I had sat myself down by now). I just declined because honestly I was surely bound to overact if I attempted to respond to this lady. I left so speedily that I forgot to collect my prescription because honestly I was not going to come here ever again. The silly optician’s workshop as I like to call it was a long commute from my house. I only came there because I did my grocery shopping and mobile phone upgrade there as well. In my books I was a loyal customer and deserved to be treated better. I was quite surprised that I was being treated this way. Honestly the old staff I knew here looked more interested in the customer’s eye health. They perfectly disguised the fact that their aim was to sell you a pair of glasses when you visited. In fact they offered me a fantastic deal the last time I came for my eye check. I don’t think their response would have differed from this lady’s but at least I would have probably paid for a new pair by now. Those ones left you feeling valued every time. The rate at which companies turn over staff leaves you wondering if they care about their customers and staff! Yes! I added staff because surely if the staff are properly remunerated, treated and valued they will not be looking for greener pastures every time. It is just so frustrating for customers who have to start getting used to new staff and new characters endlessly. I wish I could do the whole glasses shenanigan online or using an automated telephone system. At least that would feel like a more consistent and less frustrating process. Well I zoomed off home and found the Specsavers close to my address. Which by the way was cheaper to attend based on proximity. These silly opticians from earlier had me spending a fortune to attend their appointments which I honestly overlooked because of the nice crop of staff they had. I even dug out a half price eye-test voucher (which received curses earlier when they popped in through the letterbox). I had wondered at the time how on earth Specsavers got my details. Well, that has now turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I was a bit apprehensive as I made my way in. I felt hurt and fragile. I really was emotionally hanging by a thread. I needed to sort this glasses situation sharpish! I waltzed in there in the afternoon with my sad face. The young man I met was very cheery. He asked what I wanted and I told him. He even said they had a lab on site. He immediately asked to see the old and new frames (which was a pass mark straight away in my books!). That showed that firstly he cared about what I was saying to him. They also could not cut my old frames into the new ones (but only because my new frames were bigger grrrrr). However, his first option he offered me was to cut new lenses into my new frames. I felt like doing a dance ! Finally…. someone who cared! Do you know what the funniest part is,the price he offered me was way more expensive than I was offered earlier at Tesco opticians. I not […]

I really should have gone to Specsavers first!

long road
I was jolted back to reality this morning by the screams emanating from the bed beside me. I felt a bit dazed as I collected my thoughts and remembered why I was lying on this bed …yet again. Every effort had gone into the construction of this bed. However, no matter what it looked like, it did not stop it being the narrow, hard and uncomfortable bed that it was. Well, I couldn’t really complain as this room had come to be my home for a few weeks now and counting. That ear-splitting sound was the cry of a little boy one who to my knowledge was born three years earlier. He was unwell from birth with literally one thing after the other going wrong with one system or another in his body. Doctors had painstakingly spent hours, days, weeks and at times months trying on end to keep him stable and comfortable. He was fed food orally and after a while nasally via a tube. A naso-gastric tube was stuck to his face because there was no other way of securing it on his anatomy. While very uncomfortable to insert, it also looked like a signboard on his person that greeted people with the fact about his feeding abnormality. His body kept rejecting it and he was constantly sick with it. His body just seemed to reject every attempt by the doctors to keep it thriving nutritionally. After a while a tube inserted directly into his stomach seemed like the only option left. However, like with the earlier device used, his body seemed to be rejecting this latest high-tech medical device inserted in his stomach to feed him. He was supposed to have a better quality of life with it. In fact, the main consolation had been that having the device will offer faster and more precise feeding. It was even supposed to be more concealed and give him some privacy in terms of his feeding arrangements. The arrival of the tube in the stomach couldn’t have been more perfectly timed. It initially was hitch free. It delivered on every promise. All went well for months and everyone was excited. He was happy and stable. Hospital days seemed well and truly over. However recently, a host of problems gradually started creeping in. The happy boy slowly became constantly upset and crippled with pain. He was constantly arching his back or curling up like a ball. It was definitely coming from his stomach. So once more like every other device before this one, his body did not want it any more. Every attempt to make his body cope with the pain failed. No home remedy could provide comfort. In no time, he was back on the hospital bed and this time it seemed like he was in for the long haul. As I lay there, deep in thought, I was helpless and could do nothing to reduce his pain and constant suffering. I just muttered my prayers and mantras hoping for strength to carry on looking after him as I had done since he was born. I was one of the constant things in his life so I had to stand rock solid to allow the strength in me flow somehow into him amidst his hard painful life. “it’s okay baby’’, I muttered as I approached his bed to comfort him hoping this episode of pain will pass from him as quickly as it had taken hold. His tiny nails dug into my skin as he gripped me tightly and looked up to me with eyes that said ‘save me from this pain’. I just carried on rocking him, singing to him as I had always done and reassuring him that all will be well.’ Don’t worry’, I said,’ hold on tight and it will pass’. ……………………………………………. I squeezed him close and planted a kiss on his forehead. ‘shhhhh…..shhhhhhhh….’ I whispered. Suddenly, his grip loosened. His cries lessened to a shriek and he gestured for me to put him back in his bed. As I lay him down, he wriggled, tossed and turned until he found a comfortable position to keep himself. He stayed glued to that spot for fear that any sudden movements might trigger another bout of pain. Despite his suffering, as I looked down at him, I still felt hopeful. I reaffirmed within myself the belief that although he was suffering, I could not bear anything happening to him. He was my boy. Yes! I had one like him before but fate erected a permanent wall between us and we were separated for ever. Like Fred, he had been afflicted with the same disease but sadly, managed to survive for less than a week. Nothing could be done to save him. He was too feeble to survive. At times, I couldn’t really tell if walking away in death was a better fate. Fred only seemed to spend every breathing moment struggling for dear life. Since birth, Fred had been unwell. From the moment I held him I knew something was not right – mother’s instinct. We tried to balance normal family life with the new hospital life we acquired with his birth. We found a pattern that worked for us. However, this did not eliminate the strain on us as a family. At times the cracks could be seen through our perpetual exhaustion, tiredness and stress levels. We soldiered on daily, determined to make it work. Karl and I took turns looking after each child. He was rock solid and as supportive as they come. He had been there through it all with me. It was hard having a child with complex health needs. Psychologically it was draining. If we had a wand we would have spared Fred all the suffering and pain. We did not seem to be without a chore related to him. His medications, feeds and care had to be done by the clock to buy him some ‘well days’. We seized every opportunity to take the […]

The long road – Part 2

long road
It had been another hectic day on the hospital ward. I arrived with my son the previous day. It was meant to be a test at our local hospital to understand why his tummy was hurting so much. But with Fred, nothing was ever straightforward. I had dropped Mark at school that morning and noticed that Fred looked a bit off colour. I decided not to get him ready for nursery. Luckily, he was not bound by law to go every day. To be honest, I let him start nursery at an early age in order to give me some respite amongst many other reasons. Fred was not the easiest child to care for. He was born with a rare disease that left him having more hospital visits and admissions than you could count on your fingers. He went to a specialist school. By now, every single person who cared for him, or had any dealings with him knew all the warning signs to look out for before his health deteriorated. Everyone had my details on standby and I must confess, I had been called out one too many times and it had got to the point where nearly every other phone call on my cell was ‘Fred’ related. On this occasion, I decided to avoid doomsday by just keeping him in and letting him rest. However, as the day progressed, he seemed to be getting worse. By the time I took him in to our local hospital, it was decided that he had to be transferred to specialist hospital in the city. That was never good news. Apart from the meaning that Fred was more unwell than we thought, it also meant, we all had to travel regularly. That in itself was not a problem but for a family with another son in primary school, a dad working out of town, it always took its toll on me psychologically. All I could see was the road ahead. So all through my journey in the ambulance, these thoughts kept flooding my mind. Each blare from the siren offered me no respite from the throbbing ache that was developing in my head. I had to get him settled into the city hospital which was an hour drive from home. I hoped to get back in time to collect my boy Mark from school. I looked at my watch and panicked. It was nearly the time for his school to close for the day. I called Mark’s school and advised them of the situation. The lady was very understanding and promised to hold him for an extra hour after school closure. I immediately sent an email to Karl hoping he would see the message early. Poor guy! Surely my message was bound to worry him. I hated sending him such alarming mails. Unfortunately, I had no other choice as I could not be in two places at once. I received a beep on my phone. Karl wrote “Honey try not to worry, I will sort Mark out, I am leaving the office now”. That was just the kind of message I needed. Wow! The odds of getting such a prompt response from Karl were very slim as he worked in a very busy bank as an executive financial analyst. I felt a bit settled and looked across the ambulance towards my sedated son who looked so peaceful as he slept. I took a cue from him and did the same. I had no idea how the rest of the day was going to unfold. I felt the tap on my shoulder and was jolted back to reality with the words “Wake up, we are there now”. I am sure that I must have slept for an hour. ……………………………………………………… I was so worried about Karl’s work. Day and night I constantly worried. He on the other hand always seemed unperturbed. We had a Christian upbringing and had learnt never to doubt the constant care that God has for us as his children. However, the past few years had taught me how to be more realistic than faithful. We seemed to have been through more upheavals than a tsunami. While I still had faith, my love for God seemed to visit “specsavers” regularly and so it saw very clearly. One thing was for sure, things were going to keep happening to everyone good, bad, faithful or faithless. I also believed strongly that God had no time to descend his throne to do something that was well within our power to achieve. Karl and Mark came to the hospital the next morning to see us. My husband had tactfully taken the day off work. Tactless because, as far as I was concerned, he needed more than a mere call to this Jimmy Furnace of a boss to do that. I just hope this “Furnace” of a man was not going to get Karl burnt one day in that office of theirs. “I hope you sent an email to your boss” I asked, “before taking the day off”, I added. “You worry too much”, he retorted sharply in a tone that meant, “can’t you trust that I have sorted it?” I was glad to see them both. God knows I needed a cuddle after the kind of night I had been through with my son. I had been given more news by the doctors that seemed worse than all gloomy news one had become accustomed to on the telly these days. The doctors and nurses came with all shapes and sizes of instrument to get all kinds of samples from my son. Blood, stool, urine and I thought they would have made him “spit” a sample if they could. It was all so overwhelming. He lay there helpless with tubes, wires, drips and anything they had to offer him. “Hey mom” Mark said “do they have toys here?” I just giggled because my poor boy was still a child after all. He could not really understand the […]

The long road – Part 1

I remember the time when everyone existed in bubbles. You know that time when all the people who knew about your existence were the ones you saw. When the only people that mattered where those that spanned the width of your optical space. That was the time of what I like to think of as  SILENCE! Yes… Silence full stop! Then, the world was slow…slow in the sense that everything craaawled.  Information dissemination crawled. Technology was limited. Hmm … I really miss it-those good old days. Those were the days when we sent letters in envelopes whose speed of travel depended on how much we paid for the stamps. It was also the time when the spread of news lost priority if the post office was too far away (we couldn’t be bothered). It’s funny because, as sweet as life is now, life was less stressful then. Life was less pressured and we seemed to process things more slowly. It seemed like the largest chunk of information you could send across at any particular time was in a letter. The yarn of tales you could spin depended on how skillful you were at the art of writing. For the less gifted, their letters were as boring as the full A4 paper. There was no give and take in that communication. It took the reader ages to write back a letter requesting clarification. By which time the line of thought would have shifted to more pressing issues. Gone are the days when telephone calls were made from boxes with cords. When the cost of the call was weighed to ensure that only short and precise talk made it to the mouthpiece. There was no time for idle-talk when you listened or spoke, Just gratitude that your loved one was well and cared enough to call. Genuine concern flowed in conversations. Hmm… those good old days ! Now everything moves FAST !!! The speed of sharing information has outrun us such that we have nothing left to say. It feels like we have talked the talk meant for a year in a blink of an eye. To fill up the blanks, we have now resorted to filling up conversations with irrelevant news! We now feed our virtual personalities with information from our personal space. We have deleted the thin line existing between personal news and public knowledge. Conversations have now been redirected away from showing genuine concerns into nosey sniffs. Rocket-speed emails with replies have now been replaced by chats. Worse still, these chats have replaced good old chit chat and taken over genuine communication.  The world is now gradually being switched into a new type of silence. A solitary kind where true feelings are screamed with closed lips and tapping fingers. We definitely lived in less fear and panic in the good old days. But who knows if it was down to more peace or less information?  There are many good sides to all this speed of existence but that will be a topic for another day. I understand that man is a social creature but surely there is a reason why information over load crashes systems. The good old days are now long gone so what survival strategies have helped you adapt to this modern age of speed? Do you prefer it? Please share your thoughts.   Photo credit: (1)Pixabay, (2) Pixabay, (3) Pixabay

Good old days

The last time, we discussed about some ways to know if your child is ready for potty training. As earlier pointed out, it is both an unnerving and daunting exercise for parents irrespective of their level of experience with children. However be reassured that it is not an impossible task.. Once you have established that it is time to start the potty training, you are on your way to getting started with the actual exercise. Today we will focus on some ideas and ways to begin. For more information about ways to know if your child is ready for potty training, click here (1) Buy a potty if you do not have one already. A regular one will do. However let your child’s individual need be the guide. I will personally suggest putting the potty in any room that is comfortable for your child. The living room may be preferred initially. Some children prefer the safety of their bedrooms. For some families, leaving the potty beside the family loo helps the child associate passing motions with the potty. The key is to observe your child and do what you find easiest for them. Remember there are no rules. You are in charge of the whole process. You can decorate the potty area with things your own child normally finds attractive. Stickers of favourite toys or characters may draw them to the potty area. The aim is to initially get your child to be drawn to the potty area. It doesn’t matter if they do not actually use it correctly at first- that comes with time. Just initially encourage your child to be familiar with the potty to help burst any fears and if possible stop them having any potty related anxiety. (2) Patience – You will need to be patient with your child as soon as you decide to embark on this journey. Children become easily scared and discouraged by rebukes and short tempers. Your child might erroneously associate your constant frustration as a reinforcement of their failure. I find that children tend to be drawn more to activities that generate pleasure to them (who doesn’t ?).  When they feel unsure about your response they may tend to hold in the wee. I feel children function better with praise . You cannot possibly give what you don’t have. If you are really stressed, it is unlikely that you will be patient enough to ignore accidents (which characteristically tend to occur at the start of potty training). Try to stay calm. Your disposition matters a lot. Imagine if you had a boss who seemed to pick on every error you made, you will find yourself scared of trying out error – prone tasks. However, a more reassuring boss around you may mean that you become confident enough to attempt more difficult tasks leading to more learning opportunities. Remember that your child is a little person (person being the operative word). This is one reason why it may not be a good idea to feel pressured into potty training just because you feel your child is long overdue. Do not forget that it is a journey for both of you not just your child. You also have to be ready. (3)Use a suitable reward system I will encourage you to use the same reward system you normally use. The existing type familiar to your child will do. Potty training is not different from any other learning activity that you have engaged your child in. Just relax and do not over complicate things by creating a new way to reward your child’s success. I am a firm believer in consistency especially where kids are concerned. Children get easily confused when things keep changing. A suitable reward system ensures that your child’s focus is distracted from the difficulty of learning to use the potty. It will not disrupt the process. This is one of the pitfalls I find with using sweets, chocolates and biscuits as rewards. They keep the child properly focused on earning them with each successful potty use. However for some children, they create a craving that supersedes the learning intended causing distress to the children when they are withdrawn. There is also the risk of tooth decay amongst others.  However, if you’re sure you can control your child then go for it. If that is what you use for your child, let me not stop you (4) Look for cues and signs – During this entire process you have to keep looking for ways to encourage your child to use the potty regularly. You can achieve this firstly by looking for cues & signs and secondly by anticipating the need for the loo. Every child has their own way of acting when they need the loo. You can determine your child’s style by observing closely. Just before they need the toilet, there may be a pattern that emerges. Some children wriggle their bottoms when they need the toilet (common amongst girls) while others pull at their trousers endlessly (in the case of boys). In general some children squeeze their faces, stamp their feet in frustration and pout their lips in an odd way. In extreme cases, some children cry. All these gestures and actions are just the child’s way of expressing how inconveniencing the need for the loo feels (mainly depriving them of their play).  Once a particular pattern is noticed, use this as a way to lovingly remind your child to use the potty. Anticipation will be your way of predicting when your child may most likely need the potty.  For example if it has been a while since the last toilet use, you can give a subtle reminder. If you are on your way out, you can encourage your child to use the loo first. Also, after having lots of drinks, it may be a good idea to remind your child to use the loo. (5) Reassurance – Always bear in mind that children like to make play their […]

Potty training – Getting started

Have you ever been left wondering where the unfulfilled dream of a parent resides? It is found deposited somewhere as a new dream for their children. Long before the child discovers the meaning of life, the unfulfilled parent begins to nurse a new ambition. It starts of as a need to stop the child making the same mistakes they made. The need to save the child overshadows the need to let the child be. It then carries on until the child loses his/her dream and lives the one the parent decides is best! Their opinion is that they know the best way the child has to live. They say they know all the perfect courses the child has to follow. After all as parents, they are armed with the gift of hindsight. They realise all too well where each road or path the child steps into will lead. Is it really our sense of reason at work here? Is it truly the sense of protection we have for our children that makes us hold them back? Could we be developing the need to live out our unfulfilled desires through our children? Perhaps we have begun to see our children as blank slates to rewrite our wrongs with or even as an opportunity to undo the mess we made of our own lives. Are we squeezing them so tightly that they gasp for the air of freedom? Maybe this blank slate is not really ours to draw. Maybe it is for them to find their own strokes? Perhaps these mistakes are theirs to make and ours to guide not guard them from. They will never find their feet if we never let them walk. Mistakes are part of learning. By catching them every time they fall, they will never stand firm enough on their own. When they know we will never let go, they will either run far away or stay too close. If you have a dream you could not fulfil with your life, fix yourself so that you don’t encroach on your child’s life. If your slate of life is filled, clear it up to make room for new dreams. If you clogged your life with junk in the past, even all your children’s lives will not be enough to rewrite yours. By living your dream, you are the only one that is made happy. By filling up their slate, you leave them with the wrong example. The next victim will be yet another un-born child. So the cycle continues until they find themselves existing, yet not truly living. Photo credit: (1) Pixabay , (2) Pixabay  

The unfulfilled life of a parent

I think it is quite natural for us to judge people especially unconsciously based on our own standards. Everyone has a capacity to carry out an activity, a capacity to express a feeling- an emotion. The fact remains that no one will do more than they can. We are created to act, express and function within the limits imposed on us by our individual abilities. The limits imposed on our personalities and abilities are influenced by so many factors. One cannot do more than he is physically or psychologically able to, no matter how much s/he will like to. For this reason, attempting to explain the reasons for people’s limitations and inabilities may be unfair to them. Totally defeating the main aim of judgement which is fairness justified through the complete availability and knowledge of the facts pertaining to a case. Some of us fall short of standards expected from us for various reasons. Ignorance and heartbreak rank highest on my list. The constant sadness and disappointment that characterises broken relationships can lead to heartbreak. As a result of this feeling, some people may decide to safely avoid investing the time and effort required when forging real connections (causing an inability to socialise unpretentiously). While it may appear easier to describe them as wicked, it may not be totally fair since their actions are borne out of the need for self preservation. Ignorance on the other hand can cause a total knowledge gap that can be misinterpreted as the deliberate cause of offence. Although we know that ignorance of the law is not an excuse, it sadly is one of the main reasons why people may fall short of the standards required of them. A typical example is that of Stan my brother in-law. He came to marry my sister in my hometown Ugboko – in Nigeria. In Ugboko it is expected that head coverings are removed by males as a sign of respect when addressing elders. However, Stan was not only from another tribe but also from a foreign land. He was an onye-ocha1 who of course had no clue about our tradition. He breezed in with my sister for a quick ceremony one afternoon. Without much notice, there was hardly enough time to acquaint him with our customs and traditions. In his ignorance, he wore an elaborate hat to protect himself from the merciless sunshine. Stan was quite ignorant about the fact that the disapproving stares he received during the ceremony was because of his inappropriate attire. Although allowances were made for him as a foreigner, he unfortunately judged the atmosphere as cold and unwelcoming. After years of acquaintance with our people and culture through marriage he feels differently. He is now more aware of our omenani2 as well as the things we call nsor3 leading him to a different view about the events of that blessed day. In the same way, our judgement of him is more liberal since we all now realise that he sincerely meant no disrespect. At times too, people are distracted by the events in their own lives. A house move, a new baby, a job loss, a past experience and the usual pressures of life can make people ignore our efforts to socially connect and preserve ties with them. Even though we continuously initiate such relations with them, we should resist the urge to condemn their inabilities based only on our expectations. The ones we place on them as a result of being able to reciprocate in the way we require them to. Let us not ignore the fact that it is hard to care for anyone else if we are not in the appropriate headspace to deliver such attention. Some people can regulate their feelings very quickly, enabling them stop their personal shortcomings from interfering with their interactions with others. However, these are only a minority of people as majority of us constantly fall short. By keeping these in mind, hopefully we will take people’s mistakes and excesses less personally, helping us relax our judgement.  We are all unique and special in our different ways. Let us accept that not everyone will love and care for us in the way we wish to be loved (or even in the way we will love them). We can communicate our displeasures where necessary. With effective communication, we may be able to guide others on how best to treat us. We all need each other but we are not all perfect. We must learn to relax our judgement of others especially when it is based on our standards. We will keep doing our best for one another but although it may fall short sometimes, we won’t stop trying. So what do you think? Do we really judge people by our own standards or are there minimum standards we must all adhere to? Please share your thoughts with me I am really keen to hear from you.   Photo credit :(1) pixabay, (2) pixabay     Footnote Onye-ocha – Caucasian person Omenani – Local traditions Nsor – Taboos

Judging others by our standard.

We human beings are deep creatures. We exist entirely when we exist interiorly. Although we are physical beings with form, shape and presence, our greatest possession is that which transcends the solidity of our presence. When our purposes are interiorly drawn, they become sustainable. In other to reach our full potential, we must cease to perform our actions through our physical beings only. Our physicality must be instruments through which we reach within ourselves. By reaching and being in touch with your interior selves, we can then perform actions that will go beyond the physical. We will emit signals from our beings that will be perceived in the interior part of the beings we see all around us. For instance if one performed a song from within, each sound made would become transformed into a profound melody. People would tend to be “touched” by the unique rendition. The renderer too would become lost in the song as s/he continues to experience the song from within. This experience would remove the renderer from the present and catapults such a one into the beauty and melody uniquely created by him/her. The listeners would then become transfixed as they connect internally with the sound created, leading to their approval and reinforcing the confidence to enable the renderer reach higher heights in pitch and artistry. When you look interiorly, you see beyond the physicality of the person (the being) standing before you. By each word spoken, you sieve through utterances and hear true meaning in mere spoken words. Interior attributes of a person tend to be laid bare by their physical portrayal of themselves. The more they try to hide their true intentions, the more easily an eye that is interiorly equipped can see through the gimmicks. Interiorly inclined people are hardly deceived by the materiality surrounding people. They tend not judge authenticity by only the things fathomable through their five senses. They know that these can easily be altered to fuel deceit. They rather focus their emphasis on the intangible which tend to be the bedrock of true character. The interior minded knows all too well that the shrouds placed to distract true character tend to melt under the pressures of reality. When we look with our interior eyes, we become able to discern the sincerity of the purpose of each action, speech and association we come across. With each encounter we make, we begin to see through acts of love, selflessness, kind-heartedness, greed and even wickedness. If we cease to judge by vanity or physical beauty (that tend to be evident and tangible) but by the beauty of the heart (that cannot be physically seen or disguised) then we begin the journey towards sharpening our interior vision. The interior eye can see through the facades created to distract because, it is almost impossible to hide true purpose from one who is never seduced by materiality. Like the biblical serpent in the Garden of Eden, they soon become awash with subtle clues and hints revealing the true colours of their intentions. Physical things are material. Their materiality creating the perfect recipe for the distraction of our five senses – beauty, wealth, popularity, speech and eloquence and so on are all culprits. In the same way, the actions we perform are more sustainable when they are interiorly driven. When the reason for undertaking a venture goes beyond tangible and material advantages, they become sustainable over time. For instance, if material profit drives a venture, the individual may be distracted from other ways to make the venture successful if the venture proves initially unprofitable. However, if the venture is driven interiorly (by things we cannot see but feel within), its initial failure becomes ignored as an opportunity to saturate the venture with every fervency and tenacity that can be mustered. Low bottom lines, losses and initially low ratings can distract us from the real reason for undertaking some ventures. When we express interior feelings, they permeate and break down the barriers and walls surrounding people. Every time we sincerely express love, hatred, envy, happiness, sadness, greed and so on, they affect people in positive and negative ways. To build positive and sustainable connections with people we must then seek the improvement of the quality of our own interior bank.  We cannot give what we do not have. The quality of our interior banks transforms our personalities in various ways becoming the basis for making or marring our relationships. Relationships lacking in interior connection (positive or negative), become the ones that succumb to the wall of distance. By the gift of interior connection people physically separated by distance can become drawn closer than those within the same geographical location. Those within sight but lacking in the interior unity can sit beside each other and yet be as far as east and west in their hearts. It’s always a blessing to see those who although separated by millions of miles are drawn closer through the interior feelings they share. As a result, one can be all alone but never lonely while another can be surrounded by a crowd and yet…be lonely. Keep your interior man alive by connecting interiorly with people the people you meet. Let all your actions come from the interior today and see the difference it makes to those around you. Photo credit: Pixabay

Mind Power – Why we need to connect interiorly with people

Africa 2
While it is the least outcome we ever consider, it is the reality that some of us have had to confront. Nobody prays to have a sick child let alone have the child unwell for longer than a few hours. Sadly, many parents around the world have to deal with this. For some, it is short term but for some others it is a nightmare that gets more complicated by the day. In some parts of the world, infant mortality is a reality and child health is gambled with by governments whose corrupt preferences mean less investment in adequate infrastructures including hospitals, laboratories and even staffing. This leaves helpless families resorting to total dependence on the forces of nature – God and even local deities for solutions to some simply avoidable, treatable childhood illnesses that sometimes have fatal outcomes. On the other side of the sphere are countries with excellent health care and diagnostic capabilities including staff, research and state-of-the art facilities. In those countries, child health is valued and many lives are saved. Early diagnosis means many childhood illnesses are determined and treated where possible. However, this also means that in the advanced countries, some parents, whose children’s lives are saved have to live long term with illnesses. Those families adhere to the management plan and survival strategies given for their children as prescribed by the respective medical teams. In the end, improvement of long-term outcomes (especially the quality of life) for children and their families become the focus for further research leading to breakthroughs in some areas. In less developed societies however, where there is a total loss of confidence in the healthcare system, many children die needlessly. But interestingly, there is a general belief by some people there that the advanced societies are plagued with an assorted array of diseases especially child related ones as a result of their lifestyle choices. Genetic illnesses (amongst many forms of ailments) are blamed on the mistakes of civilised parents. I am not personally sure about how this ideology came to be. It feels like a gimmick by unscrupulous leaders and institutions in less-developed societies to distract the people from their inadequacies as leaders. Most of the people are illiterate. Even those who are educated stay enslaved by their backward ideologies. They subsequently end up being educated illiterates as other aspects of their reasoning vehemently resist enlightenment. The fact remains that in less-developed countries, many children who have died have not even been given the chance of an existence. Many of the people living daily with various ailments in advanced countries are adults who were once “children” given a chance to “live” because of the medical prowess of their countries. Certainly, over time people’s lifestyle choices may or may not affect their health outcomes. But even the opportunity to live long enough to make those said lifestyle choices is provided by the lease of life acquired through the exemplary healthcare enjoyed by those societies. I am particularly touched by this on a personal level. I remember when my very first son was born back in Africa, he became unwell and subsequently died. Honestly, doctors did not know why or what caused his death. I could not fault the doctors’ efforts or abilities because they were beset with numerous constraints. All the constraints where imposed on them as a result of the limitations in the system in general. Irrespective of their individual abilities as medical personnel, they were unfortunately rendered helpless due to the lack of supporting infrastructure. They, like other workmen could not function optimally without possessing the tools of the trade. These doctors were just victims of the gross systematic failure embedded within their society. At times, the doctors had ideas about tests and interventions to perform on my son. These ideas unfortunately stayed stuck in their keen medical minds. They bubbled with different courses of action that could potentially save my child but their keenness ended in frustration as with every passing moment they realised that it was a lost battle for which they were ill equipped. Simple scans required our travelling many miles to different hospitals with the adequate equipment to aid diagnosis. The commute was impossible to even attempt in the absence of adequate ambulance services to convey frail children like mine to such facilities. He simply stood no chance. It was sad because, we all simply watched daily as my child withered away like a plant. Every passing day brought a new challenge that drew him closer to the end. On the day he turned blue, I was asked by a health care professional to pray. In not so many words, he said the child could be possessed by evil all because he had never seen such discolouration. Now with hindsight and exposure, I have come to realise that it may have been down to him not getting enough oxygen! Worse still, I even doubt to a large extent the validity of the paper upon which that doctor’s certificate was inscribed. Do not get me wrong, I am a woman of prayer and appreciate the effectiveness of prayers. However, I am not convinced that God will come down from heaven to do for man what he must do for himself. We simply are inadequate as a continent. We fail our children daily. The healthcare system in its entirety is brought to shame and disrepute as a result of failings such as these. Even with all the aids and assistance pumped into child health by more developed countries, we still fail our people every single day. I appreciate that there is the possibility that my son’s outcome may not have been different in an advanced society considering what I now know about the possible reasons for his demise. However, as parents, perhaps we would have had more answers than questions. We would not have been psychologically tortured and tormented by the constant insinuations we were left with. We would have had more than ill fate, witchcraft and […]

Having a sick child- The African Experience

My little boy Bubba has had an extended stay in hospital. He is autistic and as a result it is nearly impossible to keep him entertained. I have tried different types of techniques, toys, books, colouring and so on.  The main setback is that as a result of his autistic constraints, he does not really understand how to engage in the activities. Where he pays attention, it is just fleeting. The truth is that the activities tend to upset him, ultimately defeating the main reason for play. However, cause and effect toys are the only ones he tends to play with. These cause and effect toys are mainly toys that appear to respond to his touch. He spends hours pressing noisy toys and basically driving everyone crazy with the repetitive sounds (the joys of having a musically autistic son!) Well recently he took the noise to another level. He began to show a preference for toys with flat batteries. So the music emanating from the toys he pressed either screeched or drawled. Some went woozy towards the end. I remember listening to one toy play “Mary had a…Mary had a…Mary had a…” for hours on end until i could hear that half nursery rhyme in my dreams. The worst part was that my boy got even more upset when i changed the batteries to fix the problem. He just was not interested in Mary’s little lamb with the fleece white as snow part. As far as he was concerned the broken (about to give up the ghost battery) remix was best. We let him have his way while we all bore the brunt of the “latest remix” in our dreams. So now it is safe to say that I have had to succumb to “good old technology” to rescue us all. I bought him a good old tablet! I like to think that I had no other choice and this was certainly my last resort. He had rejected every toy before the tablet. He declined every possible substitute. It was tablet to the rescue or nothing! There was a loud cheer as soon as we all realised that it seemed to be love at first sight for Bubba and the tablet.  Honestly, the moment needed a kind of christening to seal it. The best part was that there was no risk of any screechy, woozy or annoying repetitive sounds. So bless him, he is now so entertained. I have since discarded the screechy toy for fear of a relapse to old ways. I have bookmarked a nursery rhyme channel on it so now he has non-stop fun as he listens to track after track. His repetitive nature is still at play on the tablet. However, the sounds are quite jolly, bearable and have the added bonus of non-screechiness. There is still some drama when we take the tablet away but that is quite normal for him. The tablet is now providing lots of learning opportunities for him through music, more movement and even verbal attempts as he hums along. He listens to channels that encourage lots of early learning for example alphabet songs, numbers songs, object songs, countries songs, days of the week songs and any song you can think of. We no longer worry about him getting bored. Since being on this admission with lots of pain and entrapment in his cot, the tablet has become a close companion. It even helps to keep him distracted during scans, pain episodes, unpleasant moments with needles and lots more. For a child with a high degree of autism who is non-verbal and always lost in his own world, the tablet creates an opportunity to connect with him. Since he now gets entertained differently mainly through music, I can sing along. Sometimes he makes eye-contact, smiles and appears to enjoy spending time dancing or humming along with me.  These moments are very well treasured because he seldom connects in this way. I am very excited that I made this wise investment that seems to be opening up ways to get through to Bubba. I know I had my reservations about the whole technology thing for children right from the start. However, I am learning not to lose sight of the advantages as well. I think the key thing is to: Monitor what you download on the tablet. Make sure you are always aware of what content your child can access Ensure that it is always used with adult supervision. So tell me, have you changed your mind about technology recently? Did you find out as I did that it can have its perks or maybe not?   Photo credit: (1) Pixabay; (2) Pixabay

Technology can be good for kids too

Mark winced and pulled his face. That look was all too familiar. Just like when you accidentally drink a glass full of freshly squeezed limes into your mouth thinking that it was water. It was the same kind of squeezed look I saw on his face. It potentially turned even the most handsome princes into ogres and my boy was no exception. He was lifting his shirt in an upward motion and the next thing I knew, Prrrrr… I heard the sound of wind escaping from his bottom. “Oh no”, I thought, “I have missed it again”. You see, it was time for me to teach my child one of life’s essential skills- potty training. Everyone thought I was giving him this lesson a bit late because he had just turned three. The mums I knew all talked about how their kids were successfully potty trained at 2 – 2.5 years. Every time the question was thrown my way, I not only said he wasn’t ready but I proudly announced that he was to remain in diapers until I felt he was ready. I was his mother after all. I certainly was not going to let anyone pressure me into potty training my son. Most of the children described above were already talking and communicating properly but Mark was not. Personally, I feel this is one of the primary prerequisites for potty training. Some form of communication has to be established between you and your child. It doesn’t have to be verbal. It can be non-verbal. What matters is that you can give a simple instruction and your child can understand. Do not fall into the textbook trap. At times the books suggest ages for potty training commencement. Remember that those ages are suggested based on averages across a wide range of children with different levels of ability. Every child is different.  We just need to stay in control of that decision. In my personal experience, I find that answering these questions can be a good way to start. (1) Does your child communicate with you? Do you think they understand it when you give them simple instructions? (2) Does your child have a way of letting you know s/he is soiled?  This may vary from child to child depending on their communication level. While one child may ask to be changed by speaking, a non-verbal child may take your hand before pulling you towards the changing area. (3) Do you think your child stays dry for up to 2 – 3 hours at a time? You can find this out by taking your child off diapers and leaving them in normal cloth knickers or trainer pants (depending on what you can afford). You can then time how long they stay dry for over a period of time. You can try this on different days to get a sense of how long. (4) Does your child ask for a potty? If the child can already associate needing the toilet with the potty, then you have made progress. This is quite common with children who have older siblings to copy or where a potty exists already in the home. (5) Is your child curious about underwear? Perhaps s/he associates diapers with babies (usually common with kids who have baby siblings). You can tap into this to start introducing the potty. (6) Does your child have a pattern of toilet use? Some children poo after each meal, others at other times of the day, these children have a pattern. However, the last group of kids have no specific pattern. It will be helpful to find out what pattern if any your child has before you begin potty training. To determine the pattern, it may be a good idea to : Keep a record each time you do a nappy change. You can write this down in a journal or paper consistently. You can record it over a period of time (say for a week or two). Be consistent with the record keeping and you will see if a pattern emerges. This will be a helpful guide during the potty training. Make sure this record is kept when there is no upset to the child’s normal daily routine. Some children will not “go” if you are in a different environment e.g. on holiday, of visiting and staying over.  You have to bear in mind that the places you take your child to may be familiar to you but anywhere away from home is not familiar to your little one. If you have answered yes to most of the points raised above, you may be on your way to an exciting journey with your child. It may seem daunting especially when it is your first time but be reassured that it is not an impossible one. We all struggle, even experienced parents know that every child is unique and will attain this milestone in his/her own way. For every parent (experienced or not) the approach and disposition adopted towards this exercise makes all the difference. Next time, we will explore some things you need to get you started.   Photo credit: Pixabay  

Potty training – is it the right time to start?

I looked at my little locks today in the mirror and suddenly had the realisation that my short hair was really not different from a budding plant. Just staring in frustration at the shortness of the locks made me see how similar my hair was to a teeny weeny plant. I recently decided that the best way to get the healthiest strands of hair growing out of my skull was to start from scratch. Years of processing my hair with all sorts of products had in my opinion finally taken the usual negative toll on my once bouncy, full head of hair. Although my hair had all the length that most girls craved for, it lacked weight, lustre, and bounce. I just wanted my old hair back. Right! I did not go for the popular big chop. I decided that a gradual transition from silky to natural hair would be less dramatic. It was definitely the way for me. Technically, I stopped stretching my hair or adding any harsh products to it. I only used oils to keep the hair supple. Little by little new hair growth started sprouting under the over processed locks. In the next one year, I watched my hair texture change from silky to coarse and curly. It had been a long and sometimes frustrating journey. I struggled a lot with trying to learn how to manage my natural hair. Unfortunately, like most African girls, my real hair texture was quite alien to me. It was difficult to accept that I could not just simply run a small comb through my hair like I used to do with my processed hair. I was beginning to understand that my hair needed some TLC(tender loving care) that is, extra wetting here, oiling there, weaving and so on. I looked different too with my hair. It was all a new terrain for me. An adjustment I certainly had to be patient with. So like planting a seed, I had to cultivate and nurture this hair. I finally chopped off all the processed silky hair after growing out just enough natural hair to plait into mini locks. I sure looked different with the short and natural hair plaits. Now I had no hiding place. For the first time in ages, my whole face was out in the open. Like a plant, I had to learn to nurture the hair daily. I watered and oiled generously to keep the hair supple and less coarse. I also had to be patient with the hair. Weed out any knots in the locks that honestly kept tangling my hair. On days when I could not cope with the demands of my hair, I added some extensions to the hair. This helped them last a bit longer giving the hair a break from being constantly combed. So far, I think it is fair to say that I can be hopeful about the future of my hair – my virgin hair . Like every farmer, I hope for a good harvest. One filled with bounciness, straight and sustainable strands of hair that might hopefully see me through to a ripe old age. I also hope that by choosing this natural route, I can hopefully avoid the recession that is suffered by most African scalps with age. I pray that my hairline respects the rest of my head and stays bountiful and abundant overtime. I have so far received mixed reviews. They are mainly based on the newness of the look rather than the hair itself. In case you were wondering what products I use for my hair, they are – almond oil and water. I wash it with mostly a hair shampoo, however, sometimes my toilet soap does the same job. I am trying to live with fewer obsessions and vanities where my hair is concerned. This is my choice and so far it is working. I shall leave an update in due course if I change my mind about products. Interestingly, my hair is teaching me good lessons like – patience while I await its growth, perseverance especially on days when my hair strands are too tough to comb and open-mindedness about different techniques to manage the hair. I feel kinder to myself now that I no longer fixate on the next hair style to wear. This in itself makes it less emotionally stressful. I am accepting my own beauty more. I have my unique look just like everyone else and I am learning not to waste a moment trying to look any different. There are now more important things to do with my day. By using only natural products on the hair, I am learning that I do not even need much in life to give me the best results. Just basic things still provide satisfaction. I am realising that although all the numerous products I used previously had their benefits, they were not indispensable. Life in itself can be very simple. We sometimes overload it needlessly. While luxuries are important elements to spice up life, we must not allow them take centre stage. Let’s not lose sight of simplicity in life. Simplicity does not always mean the presence of “lack” but the absence of “waste”. Poverty can make you simple but being simple does not always mean that you are poor. It can also be a deliberate choice. Have you discovered any new ways to treat yourself? Tell us all about it. I will also be keen to hear about some nice tips on living simply.   Photo credit: Pixabay      

My hair plant

the bible 8
The greatest possession a person can have is the knowledge and understanding of God. It is the only possession that the bible allows us to glory in. The Lord himself says we should not glory in wisdom, might, riches or anything but in the knowledge and understanding of him – the one true God1. Our journey as Christians must be centred on acquiring this knowledge and understanding of God. It is the pivot upon which every aspect of our lives must rotate. If we do not know God, how can you glide through the storms of life? To know God is to ask his spirit to dwell in us. We should invite him into our hearts to teach us his word. Jesus is the personification of his word. He is the word that was made flesh in order to dwell among us2. The bible says that in the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God3. The word of God is also found in the pages of the Holy Bible. It instructs and guides us. With the help of God’s Holy Spirit, we can understand God. Jesus promised us that his ultimate request to God the father will be to ask for an advocate, a helper who will be with us forever. This helper is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is always present with us. We may feel all alone at times but we must have complete confidence in the constant presence of God in our lives. It is a bit like buying a transistor radio. In the good old days, when one bought a radio, it had to be tuned for it to connect to the desired radio channel. If the radio owner had no understanding about the process of tuning the radio and thought that the radio knob was a fancy design, it was rendered useless. It became a mere box, but did that make the radio channel non-existent? The answer is an emphatic NO! Simply having a radio was not enough. Adding the knowledge about how to operate the radio made a huge difference. The radio channel was constantly available to those with adequate knowledge and understanding of the radio frequencies. To them there were boundless options to choose from in order to maximise their listening pleasure. In a way this is how our lives are. Without the knowledge and appreciation of a higher power (God) in our lives, life will not be worth living. It will be devoid of the optimum connection with the Almighty God. The way that points constantly to God is Jesus. The Holy Spirit is the link that connects our own spirits to God. Our full potential will never be reached until we are linked directly with the spirit of God. Without God’s Holy Spirit, everything we believe in will depend on our five senses – on reason. We will keep on needing to see, feel, touch, smell or hear things before they can make absolute sense. Unfortunately, faith that is based totally on these is based solely on reality. Such faith is denied of total connection with the all-powerful God and therefore subject to imperfection. Our senses are imperfect, limited, they cannot transcend beyond the immediate. God is all powerful, supernatural and perfect. In order to serve him perfectly, we must then find another way (a more perfect way) to serve him. That way was the central theme of Jesus’ existence. By his actions, words and deeds Jesus constantly showed us how to serve God. It was a way that had an internal union of purpose with God. A way that was selfless and sometimes irrational. He showed us Leadership by service, abundance by sharing and ultimately eternal life through constant sacrifice of ourselves in service of God. All these tenets were quite contrary to the rational ways in which people generally thought. After Jesus’ resurrection, Thomas doubted the apostles’ account regarding Jesus’ resurrection. He needed to see him, touch him, to “make sense” of the resurrection of Christ. When Jesus appeared again, he rebuked Thomas’s unbelief. Jesus blessed those who believed even without seeing him physically4 thereby showing us the importance of an inward view about the things of God. Our love for God must be sufficient to direct our faith. To find this love is to find God himself because God is love5. The ultimate example of God’s love is found in Jesus Christ who paid the price by becoming ransomed for us. God is all powerful, he makes all things possible6. He is the God whose ways and thoughts are not like ours7. He is the God who causes things to be8. The God who gives life to the dead and calls things into existence that do not exist9. He is the God who does not change10.  He is the God who is not man. The faithful God who is able to do what he says he will do11. He is the same yesterday, today and forever! We have to dispose ourselves in our thoughts and by our actions to God for us to be drawn to God12. God sucks us in with the nectar of his love. Like the bees in the fields, our souls circle, yearning for something higher and more sublime. Our souls keeps searching for truth and looking for love. God’s love draws us in because he is the epitome of love itself. He loved us before we even understood what being loved meant. Jesus makes our journey to God perfect. By knowing him we become firmly established as children of God. We plant our feet firmly along the path that leads to God. We become part of a majestic union of perfection. We become fused with God, God with Jesus and Jesus becomes one with us. It is an ecstatic fusion. Jesus is God personified. He shows us God in his ever loving, ever sacrificing and ever giving form. He shows us how God only desires to be close to […]

Knowledge of God

City palaver
Wow…Posh…Affluent…Excellent…Beautiful…in short effizy1 (as my fellow naija2 people will say) Those were my exact thoughts as I walked into this room. It was the destination for an event I had been invited to. I am not normally blown away by interiors but this one certainly stood out to me. Its beauty seemed all the more glaring because some moments earlier as I journeyed here, I was quite sceptical about what to expect. I am definitely convinced that there can be some organisation to the chaos of city life. If I had (by some work of magic) appeared inside this room, I would have died of fright if I looked out of the window. There was so much hustle, bustle and chaos outside these sound proofed walls that made the sight before me so unreal. As I write this piece I am what the English man calls “mesmerized”. It is not every day you walk into a place and feel so overwhelmed. You see, I am a suburban chic, just what you will call a country girl. Well, country to me but without the horses and farms if you catch my drift. I live in a regular town with a post office, shops within walking distance and church not too far away. Nearly everywhere I need to go to is either a walk or bus stop away. I love the simplicity of my life. It is devoid of any extra stress or what you might call hustle and bustle. I once hailed from a city different from the one you see around here. Over there, people crowded the streets and corners while going about their business in search of their daily bread. Morning alarms were irrelevant. I remember being jolted back to reality daily by the sounds emanating from gigantic loud speakers permanently positioned within earshot where possible. In reality, the main noise culprits were far away- they only let the public address systems take all the blame for the incessant noise! The ever familiar “call to worship” was sang so loudly, it banged your head early in the morning zapping you back to reality cutting through the serenity of your peaceful sleep. That was a city where people groomed themselves painstakingly daily while harbouring thoughts about how to get from their places of rest to their various destinations. The awareness of the task ahead left each person strong-willed and as determined as a soldier. There, going from place to place was not a task to be undertaken by the fainthearted. When some distance and commuting was involved, more skills were needed. Smartness and sharpness was required to negotiate which okada3 or keke 4 to jump on. The decision about putting on the helmet provided by the okada-rider5 was based more on sanitary rather than safety concerns. While one decided whether or not to use the rather stinky and mostly flimsy helmets provided, the okada zoomed off anyway. The bus alternative although safer, did not appeal to most since it meant being stuck in traffic. Agility was also needed to jump in and out of the bus. Not forgetting the eagle eyes needed to see your bus stop before bellowing at the conductor to stop! Well, this gives you just a glimpse into my supposed city travel arrangements- of old. Yet, here I am thousands of miles away in yet another city equally filled with hustle and bustle. Definitely more organised but yet not devoid of stress. I have reached the conclusion that stress is synonymous with city existence. I cannot still understand why some choose to afflict themselves with city living. I know it is a hub of opportunities, jobs and amenities. But give me slow paced any day. As my bus travelled by, I could not help but notice how little the houses were. All cramped up, stylishly erected side by side mind you, with no more than a sideways arm stretch between them. I heard the costs were high here too. Community and togetherness were usually lost as people here worked around the clock to keep up with their responsibilities especially financial. So while contemplating all these, I arrived at my destination. I was greeted by a smartly dressed lady. After exchanging pleasantries, she directed me to the precise hall. One look around it from where I was standing and I was blown away. I was not sure if it was the long journey or my over-excitement that set my thoughts towards another room where I hoped to relieve myself. I let my eyes follow the signs. On my way out, I stepped back onto the corridor with a red carpet entrance. There were also lovely silver banisters with thick ropes joining one banister to the other. Honestly resembling the celebrity star-studded entrances to events we see on the television. I found the door I was looking for. It was marked “ladies”. As I get in to do my business, I wondered how the rest of the day was going to unfold.   Photo credit: Pixabay   Footnotes Efizzy – Nigerian pidgin slang describing show off or proud display Naija – colloquial word used to refer to Nigeria as a country Okada – Motorcycle Keke – Motor tricycle Okada rider – Motorcyclist

City palaver- My reflections about how overrated city life can be.

  These days of austerity and limited supply of money in households has meant that families now find creative ways to make their money stretch farther than an elastic band. No one imagines being hit by one of these hard times but like everything that comes along through change and uncertainty, it can be sometimes inevitable. The extent to which it hits every individual is another matter even subject to controversy.   I remember during the good old university days back in Nigeria, “alarm” was the term used to describe any form of hardship we faced as students. Alarm always came along irrespective of whose child you were – rich or poor. It just meant something different to each category of student. The controversy was not about the reality of the alarm as an experience. It was rather about the definition of what bank balance qualified a student to be in full-fledged hardship. The truth was that we all had different alarm thresholds.  We could neither brag nor discard the existence of these thresholds in a hurry. Every alarm experience was unique bringing with it pain, sadness, dexterity, creativity and even hope. I giggle whenever I remember the good old days. Now, fast forward donkey’s years later after signing contracts, chairing meetings, travelling the world, becoming a mum and all, I can still tell when the good old alarm rears its ugly head. I can sniff it from a mile off.  You cannot blame a girl for devising some alarm alerts. I find that with a good understanding of proper alarm alerts one can postpone or reduce the alarm impact when it eventually strikes. Many of my alarm alerts are not new. The only problem is that we all generally choose to ignore them. The alarm impact will become severe enough to scar us for quite a while if we underestimate them. Alarm can occur as a result of controllable or uncontrollable reasons. One of the most significant alarm alerts is losing your primary source of income. When you lose your main source of income, you must start readjusting your expenditure. Technically, when one’s income reduces, it makes sense to limit the level of outflow. This will be the most sustainable response in my opinion. Income constriction may be temporary or long term therefore appropriate adjustments should still be made to prevent reaching the point-of-no-income. An increase in family size should also be another alarm alert. This can be expected or unexpected. When a new baby is on the way for example, there will be some inevitably new expenses to be catered for. These can put a strain on existing income. If income flow remains the same then adjustments must be made to the current components of our spending. Cutting down on some luxuries, increasing savings etc may reduce the impact of the alarm that may occur due to the increasing family size. Acquiring new tastes and habits should be an alarm alert too. When we begin to engage in new habits and develop new tastes, we must remember that they may impact on our income. Sometimes these costs seem small and irrelevant but they all add up, creating pressure on your existing income level. If you are spending more than you are earning then you need to have a rethink because you will be on your own when you go broke. The only means of averting an alarm strike will be to confront the reasons for the non-sustainability of our current income. Why are our current levels of income no longer enough to sustain us?  Are the reasons under our control? If so, then what steps do we consciously need to take to stay on top of things? Such practical steps can help to cushion the effects of the alarm strike. Living within our income will be the right place to start. We can start by calculating what our total available income is. How much income do we have at our disposal in terms of cash? We can determine this by totalling our cash in hand, cash in our bank account(s), cash received from our debtors and so on. Once this is worked out, the next thing to do will be to start taking active steps to try to live within this amount. Personally, I make sure that I spend my money on only essentials as soon as I start to sniff alarm. For me, essentials are basically food and shelter. I do not normally add clothing to the equation because as far as I am concerned, my existing clothes will do just fine. I find that once I can eat and keep the shelter over my head I feel less pressured. At the end of the day, life boils down to those basics- food and shelter. Cut down your credit level. Start cutting down on your level of debt exposure without delay. In this day and age a lot of us are living on credit. Credit cards, car loans, mortgages, store cards etc. If you can pay off any of your debts before an alarm strike, do not put it off. Before an alarm strike, if you find that all your earnings gets exhausted on paying off the different types of debt you have you may have to quit delaying taking steps to reduce your debit level. This should be prioritised to reduce the possibility of defaulting on them in case they fall due during an alarm strike. Focus on your minimum payments. During an alarm strike, make it a point of duty to keep up with your minimum payments. It is normally a bad idea to pay only the minimum payment on debts. This is because it will take much longer to clear the debt. Interest rates may soar resulting in an endless cycle of debt. However when one is broke honouring at least the minimum payments becomes the least that can be done to salvage the situation. Since debts do not shrink with declining income levels, this becomes […]

Alarm strikes- Tested and trusted tips for your shrinking pocket!

    You know you are having one of those “agama lizard” moments when you wake up in the morning and feel a gust of pride. The type that makes you shake your head and  think “do you know what? …I think I am doing well. I am definitely on the right track! ”. While I do not like to be self-indulgent, I still feel everyone should be entitled to one of these moments from time to time. You can call it the spice of life!     Yes! So as I was telling you,  I felt ”agamalized” one  morning when amidst my chores- like a million things to do before 9 AM, my 4-year-old walked up to me. He said “mummy, we have a lot to do today” “Do we?” I asked looking puzzled. “Yes mum”, he continued, spreading his fingers. “We have to pray, do our Bible story, do our learning and then play!” he exclaimed. I could feel my heart bursting with pride as he counted the list of activities on his fingers. It was to him the perfect to-do list that had to kick-start his little morning.  As every mom knows, it is difficult to establish routine let alone have your child request that you remember not to spoil his morning by following another pattern. A routine is a pattern formed by performing an activity on a fairly regular basis. For a child, it is best achieved by repeating the same activity consistently. Consistency ensures that the child gradually learns, appreciates and embraces unconsciously the importance of the activities set out daily. I find this to be very important especially in homes that experience unavoidable disruptions. In the eyes of a child, it becomes also, a chance to spend quality time with the parent. You can call it a bonding time. It is also a nice way to create some stability for the child. By looking forward to the activity, there becomes a certainty attached to the occurrence of the activity (once established with consistency and patience) that creates this stability for the child. Ultimately children gradually learn to see routines as moments to look forward to getting your undiluted and undivided attention for a few minutes or hours every day. While we cannot ever have complete control over every aspect of our lives, we can at least control the fun we create and subsequently enjoy with our children. Some of the activities we choose can involve the rest of the family too. For example in my home during prayers we each take turns. This turn taking allows each person to freely express their requests to God however insignificant. The aim of this activity is not only to encourage the praying habit (which is not a bad idea) but the consistency created by the need to pray (at set times) gives the kids something to look forward to as the time approaches. Expressing their prayers in their own words, means we as parents, become presented with a chance to also indirectly teach them how to use their words. The praying exercise for example began with few words being mumbled by my boy. However, in no time, litanies of requests began to stream in (as his language and speech use improved). This improvement in my opinion was encouraged by consistency, patience and encouragement. My boy once expressed perfectly his need for God to provide breadcrumbs for the birds in the park. Any form of time you share with your child, in the same way, can become an indirect way for you to help the child develop any of their early learning skills. Take reading skills for example. If you relax and enjoy simple stories with your child, s/he will learn to read by merely listening and copying you. This helps reduce the anxiety that children tend to feel when they are being taught. You can make it into a game and reading can become fun. Writing can similarly be developed by scribbling, colouring. Picking beads, threading games and so on help encourage motor skills that strengthen the hands for writing. As long as these are done consistently and patiently, your child can simply enjoy the fun. . Spending time with your child ensures that you also get a chance without even realising it to model good behaviour to that child. Children tend to learn by example. Have you noticed that if your kids spend time with the wrong children they tend to imitate wrong behaviours and characters? That’s because children are like blank slates. They are really innocent so they tend to be like the person or people they spend the most time with. Unfortunately, bad habits die hard so it is really important for our children that we spend as much time as possible with them. Simple activities like banging pots, pans, scribbling on paper, chopping up newspapers, messing about with noisy bags and so on can be very exciting for kids. Many parents find that even when they buy the most expensive toys for their children they still end up playing and having the most fun with basic things around the home .You don’t need to spend a fortune on high-tech toys especially if you cannot afford them to make your child happy.  All that children really want at the end of the day is simply our attention. It is important to note after making this point that a balance must be struck between giving the child attention and indulging or fussing over the child. Remember we said earlier that the whole point is that the child needs to spend quality time with you. It is easy to fall into the trap of overindulging them. We must also know when to ignore naughty attention-seeking behaviour while constantly acknowledging good behaviour. If we keep telling them off even when they do the slightest thing it may be counter-productive. It is always worth remembering that all our children want is to get our attention – positive or negative. It is quite easy to unknowingly make mountains out of molehills when children reject their meals (which is quite typical of most toddlers). The thing to realise is the fact that to your child, they finally have your attention! What better way to get it than by winding you up? It really does take time, practice as well as consistency to master all the skills required to be super parents! I wish […]

Feeling Agamalized – How spending time with your child can feel rewarding

God on holiday 2
Hello…helloooooo….. I hear myself scream! Knock knock … tap … taaaappppp! I clench my fists and tap on heaven’s door. I have been here for ages. Daily, I have come here but he doesn’t hear me.  I look up…up high. The building is so talllll! I cannot even see where it ends. I hear it is a place of peace. I came here in the morning. After lunch I came as well. I even stole in once at night to see if the echoes from my night screams would make a difference. Everywhere was shut! All was still… all was quiet … and all was cold… Surely my God was on holiday. If he were home, he would have answered me. If he were there, he would have sent his chariots to take me home. He would have told me that everything would be okay. He can make all this pain go away. Yet he stays silent…. My God must be taking a nap! If he were awake, my tears would have dried up by now. My life would have been more bearable. Well, even if he chose to be silent, who will blame him? I am but a speck in his sight. He does not owe me any explanation. He is my God and I am his beloved. I am reassured of his love because I am still among the living. So, I shall stand here waiting for him – come rain come shine! His delay is not without purpose. I want to be first on queue. I can see the crowd approach from afar. I want to be here ready for when God decides to answer. I don’t want to miss the chariot when it comes to carry me home.   Photo credit:Pixabay    

God on holiday

change-1245949_640 4
Change is constant. It is one of the most inevitable events in life. Things change, people change, tastes change, likes change, even dislikes change ! While I am not someone who embraces the idea of a proposed change, I do not resist it when it finally comes. It is funny how the thought of a disruptive incident occurring scares me more than the event itself. I remember worrying and moaning in the past about the prospect of an event occurring even to the point of fear. The weird thing was that when it actually happened, I coped very well emotionally, psychologically and in every way. Well, so change! Yes, as we were saying… is constant. Today however, I am exploring the reason for change. You may want to change something about yourself.  Your look, a habit you have, your routine and so on. That’s good. But what I will like to focus on is why you feel the need to change ? If you can ensure that you are changing for the right reasons, then you will stay on track when the going gets a bit shaky. The path that leads to realizing change is never easy. It may seem straightforward initially but it usually gets to a point where it becomes tedious. When this happens, if you are on that change path for the wrong reasons, you will never make it to the promised land. In my opinion and experience, the best reason for change must come from within , that is, right from the inside. You must be making the change because of a perceived benefit to ‘’you’’. You must be at the centre of this change decision . Your needs must necessitate this change decision. No external force should have the ‘’louder voice’’ in your head regarding the need for change . You should not just change because of anybody-  friend, family, society or celebrity.  If you let them drive your change decision, then when hard times strike along the change path , you are likely to lose conviction easily and fizzle out. This always happens when the change reason is not deeply rooted. External forces can influence the reason why you feel the “need” to change but then you need to analyse how that change will be good for you, it is important to define and know what that change will mean to you and how it will improve the current course your life is taking. Once determined, let it be the driving force for your change. Sometimes, you can discover the need for change on your own. You are an individual who knows right from wrong. So it is expected that sometimes you will find areas to change single-handedly. Your change direction may not even be popular at the time you choose it. However you will know if it will be good for you.  If you then discover that it will positively steer your life in the right direction, go for it! Change can have positive or negative consequences. You must know and understand all the positive and negative aspects to your proposed ‘’change’’. You must not only focus on the positives. Look at it from all angles. Analyse what these different angles will mean for you. It’s a good idea to only choose courses of action where the positives outweigh the negatives (in terms of outcomes) before selection. Let’s look at a common example, you are worried about the way you look. It may be your physical appearance or even the way you materially project yourself to others that bothers you. Friends and family may also be piling the pressure by constantly teasing and complaining . The pressure may be strong enough for you to decide to make some changes. Now, in this case, external factors may be mainly responsible for your change decision. However, all the comments should not  be the sole change determinants. You also need to make sure that these changes will be good for you and that they are what you need to forge ahead positively before embarking on them. Similarly, before you make a change, let it be a change that would be good for you. The fact that it worked for someone else does not mean it will work for you. We have to be careful not to be pressured into doing things by other people because, when the chips are down you will be left on your own (OYO) by those same people. You will have to live with the consequences of your actions. Not even the people who pressured you will share these consequences with you. You only live once (YOLO) therefore, make every change count for you. Photo credit: pixabay  


Famililiar stranger
  I smile at him. He looks surprised. He furrows his brows in curiosity and I bet he wonders if I am okay. I treat him differently. He can do no wrong. Even when others find him difficult to deal with, I make things easier than required for him. I can’t help it. I feel like I know him even though I have only just met him. I want to tell him my innermost secrets so he can laugh with me. He is my familiar stranger. When I look at him all I can see is the one he looks exactly like. You see, there was a time when I had this friend. He was more than a brother to me. Every moment we shared was memorable and precious. But when life happened, it erected a distance between us. As we chose different paths and forged out our existence through the lives we led, we grew apart. Even though we stayed friends, we wanted different things, different places, different dreams, and different hopes. But I miss him dearly. Since he went away, there has been no other like him. But seeing you today has brought all those feelings back. It has brought back that longing for a friend lost through time. I leave you today with a lingering smile. I thank you also for reminding me of happy times. I wish you the very best and hope your dreams come true.   Photo credit: Pixabay          

Familiar Stranger

I love that word perspective. It’s all about how we view things. It’s an interesting concept because one object can be viewed in so many different ways. It can mean different things to the same person(s).There are so many factors and things that can influence that view. The placement of the object can be of utmost influence. The pedestal the object is placed on plays a crucial role because it can either cause clarity or obscurity. The ideology of those viewing the object can affect their perception. The mood (of the onlookers) as well as the context from which it came to be viewed are also factors that affect how objects are perceived. We can broaden the definition of perspective to include our views on issues like politics, fashion, criticism of celebrities, and so on. One fact still resounds irrespective of our perspective on various issues-the true meaning ascribed to that object or true definition of the issue as set out by its originators remains unchanged. It does not matter how we feel about an issue or an object, or what we think about that object when it captures our attention, the point is that it always remains what it is. We are all entitled to our perspectives and opinions. Interestingly those views at times change and are not cast on iron. The issue regarding perspective comes to mind due to the tendency we have of getting caught up and worried about how people view us. For some us, the feeling of confidence is constant. However, there are those whose confidence depends on being ignorant about how they are perceived by others. They become perturbed as soon as they are made aware of some form of criticism against them. We will generally be less troubled if we remained unaware of people’s perceptions of us. However, since we do not exist in a vacuum, our interactions with others reveal their feelings about us. We are made aware of these by utterances, actions, mannerisms and behaviours towards us. We become objects of focus to them. Like the focal point of a lens when a picture is about to be captured, that view depends on what they see or choose to see, what you present, the angle of view, the context of view. In some cases, it can depend on how they feel within themselves. At times peoples’ realization of their inadequacies alongside our unwavering strengths can overwhelm them to the point of frustration. Snipes at us can sometimes be totally unfair, irrelevant and uncalled for. We become their objects of amusement as we get caught in the crossfire between their personal frustration and jealousy. If we let them get into our heads, we will be permitting maximum damage to ourselves for no good reason. We must allow people have their own opinions. They are entitled to it after all. However, we have to always appreciate that the existence of opinions does not always make them correct. We therefore have to find a way not to take them to heart in order avoid getting hurt by those opinions. While some opinions are honest others are only intended to offend and inflict maximum damage. In the end, they are all just perspectives. We can consider them for the sake of objectivity. Such objectivity can lead to adjustments to accommodate others while improving on ourselves. After all, constructive criticisms lead to improvement. However, we must be careful not to let such interactions bring us down. It can be annoying when an idea is not ours. There is not much use fighting it. No one has complete mastery of any subject matter. At every point, there will always be someone more knowledgeable than we are. We too have areas where we excel. Everyone has their own distinctive area of advantage. The best way for us will be to adopt a strategy that acknowledges the superiority of others where applicable. It will help us align ourselves alongside such superiority thereby opening up avenues for learning and self-development. We will then find ourselves improving and acquiring the skills we appreciate in others. Less energy will be expended this way compared to spending time attacking and antagonizing people. What do you think about perspectives? Do you think we are better off not hearing them or perhaps you think they are best ignored? As you know we value your comments. What’s more…. It will be nice to hear your perspective too!   Photo credit: Pixabay    

Perspectives – Why you must stop worrying about what others think.

Money Love 16
The love of money is the root of all evil1. Time and time again we hear this saying. We resolve not to fall into the trap of money love. Unfortunately when faced with money love triggering situations, many of us fail. Why is it important not to love money? Money in itself is not bad. It is used to acquire things required for living. In the good old days, people exchanged goods for goods – barter trade. The system was based on using what you had to get what you wanted. However, our fore fathers found that buying and selling in this way was filled with setbacks .This led to the invention of money. It became very convenient and easy to use. Its advantages were enjoyed by all and soon greed crept into man. The need for grabbing and acquiring money at all costs became the order of the day. The bible says you cannot serve two masters2. You cannot serve both God and money. Money satisfies needs. Loving money however, means constantly choosing money over God. Keeping money at the centre of all decisions, choosing money over what is right. Loving money increases the tendency to give up our principles to acquire it, opening us up to sin and destruction. In the bible, there is a story about King Saul 3. After the war, he chose to take the plunder- sheep and oxen (which in his time constituted material wealth to be acquired from conquered enemies as spoils of war) instead of sacrificing it to God. At times the love of money is synonymous with the love of other material things like power 4.  King Saul decided that he would no longer wait for God’s chief priest to come and give the sacrifice. There he decided to stand in and do the sacrifice himself against God’s instruction. His decision in itself was not bad. It was the impatience and disobedience that grieved God. By disobeying God and not waiting for God’s chief priest to offer sacrifice, he opened himself more to further sin. The sin of doubt and total trust in God’s methods, degenerated into the love of materialism for which God rejected Saul as king5 .From then on, Saul fell out of favour with God and the sin of greed led to his ultimate death. His personal desire for power blinded him from accepting God’s will to crown David. The more he disobeyed, the more he walked into his destruction and final demise. In the New Testament, another example was Judas Iscariot the betrayer. He was initially one of the ‘chosen’ apostles. He was a good man. However, as soon as he started to disobey God’s plan through Jesus, he opened himself again to disaster. One day, Jesus talked about being the bread of life emphasizing on the eating of his flesh and the drinking of his blood6. Jesus knew the ones who did not believe his teachings and he knew his betrayer7. During the conversation, it was clear through Judas’s utterances that he did not believe in this teaching. This disbelief led to Judas ultimately being likened by Jesus to the devil8 . In the end, money love led him to betray Jesus. Unbelief and disobedience stains us as Christians. It turns us into the likeness of the devil whose only nature is to perfectly rebel against God. The sad news is that once this disobedience takes hold, it degenerates into all sorts of sin. By disobeying God, we automatically choose to serve all but God. ‘Self ‘ becomes what is served. To satisfy ‘self’ ultimately leads to seeking things to gratify ‘self’ and what better object than money! Ananias and Sapphira 10 also decided to hold back and disobey. The rule the early Christians had was for each person to sell all they had for the communal good. By joining the fold, one became automatically bound by this rule. However, this couple thought they knew better (disobeyed) and what happened? Greed crept in. The bible says that they held back part of their possessions for themselves and this led to their death11. Many of us do not set out to love money especially as Christians. We know it is wrong. We have this drummed up into us through our lives and we know all the examples. The sad thing is that this does not exempt us from falling into this trap. By disobeying and disbelieving God in even the smallest way, we become open to the danger of money love. We must make a constant and consistent choice to obey God and focus on faith and not on materiality including ‘self’. Everything material is temporary and passing, that is, money, wealth, fame, family, ‘self’ etc . Let us always remember what St Paul said ‘we do not look at the things which are seen but at the things unseen. For the things that are seen are temporary, but the things which are unseen are eternal’12. God is eternal, he gives great gifts13 . By accepting his gifts, we bear fruits of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control 14 . Let us nurture and grow these, make them our focus and he will meet our needs according to his riches in glory 15        Footnote: 1(1 Timothy 6:10); 2(Matthew 6:24); 3(1 Samuel 15:21-25); 4(1 Samuel 13:11-14); 5(1 Samuel 15:23); 6(John 6:53-59); 7(John 6:64); 8(John 6:70); 9( Matthew 26:15); 10(Acts 5); 11(Acts 5:2); 12(2 Corinthians 4:18); 13(1 Corinthians 12); 14(Galatians 5: 22-23); 15(Matthew 6:33, Philippians 4:19)   Photo credit: Pixabay

Money Love

One reason I love the HOLY WEEK is that, it’s a time the Church forces us to reflect on the things that should be most important to us as individuals. The main things that often slip away amidst the hustle and bustle of life. We are made to reflect on our lives, our death and eternity. We also focus on Christ’s life, death and resurrection and put this at the centre of our reflection, constantly using him as the perfect yardstick for comparing how we are doing as Christians. We resolve to make adjustments to guide us back to the path of salvation when we miss our way. For those on the straight and narrow, it becomes a time to strengthen their resolve to keep being on track. As an old Ibo adage goes “onye lote maka onwu, o mee nwabu”, meaning “when one remembers death, he becomes calm.” Although death is the sure end for every person alive, it is the least visited subject. It is never lightly confronted whether in thoughts or in reality. However, doing so regularly helps us keep calm as individuals. The holy week is also a time when our mortality is brought to the fore front of our reflections. The realisation that all we have acquired in life – knowledge, wealth, possessions, friendships, enemies and so on, mean nothing because when we die, they become irrelevant. What’s more, the wealth of our material possessions cannot  determine what our ultimate eternal destination will be. Acquiring all that life has to offer is meaningless if we do not put them to good use. Do we act selflessly or selfishly? Do we love because we want to gain popular approval or because it is the right thing to do? Do we give to others just because we can or because we care? Do we spend our time reducing the pain and suffering around us? Do we lend a helping hand, provide a listening ear, or a shoulder to cry on? When we manage to be there for others, is it because we want to show off? Holy week summarizes for me what Jesus came to do on earth. It also is a time of appraisal of one’s self. It’s no wonder Lent is the time the Church encourages us to retrace our footsteps back to God. It is a time of reconciliation with God and with man. A time of hope for our eternity and gratitude for salvation offered to all by the shedding of the perfect blood of Jesus Christ for all mankind. Photo credit: Pixabay      

Holy Week

No More Mr Nice Guy
A friend asked me a question today.  He said ,”why have you decided to stop calling me all of a sudden?” That to me is an interesting and direct question. One problem I have with direct questions is that they require direct answers which I find very uncomfortable. Direct answers tend to be blunt truths and for me, they are never an easy pill to swallow. I am known to have one of  the sharpest tongues for a mile. What people don’t know, is that I feel horrible about how deeply my bluntly blurted words cut through people. They slice through their hearts without mercy reducing them to tears like babies. For some lucky tough ones,the words leave them pensive for too long. I learnt over time to sugar coat the truth just to make it a bit more palatable and less hurtful. The problem with that approach is that I end up not saying what I actually mean which in a way is quite frustrating. In the end, this turns all the hurt on me instead. I settled for this approach because of its subtlety, but it is unfortunately very exhausting ! I have also found it be extremely ineffective. I have heard a lot about effective communication and have decided to embrace it. I feel like communication has to go beyond just talking. It also has to include acting appropriately in any given situation. For example, if I feel hurt by someone and feel like shutting them out, then I would. There is no use constantly hitting a brick wall. If the relationship is not working for me then I can just severe it. I invest a lot of energy in making a relationship work and feel like I also deserve to be treated better.It is definitely not too much to ask for! I am tired of being Mr nice guy. I have had to tolerate peoples’  excesses for too long. I even find myself  justifyng “their” actions by making up excuses for “them”. Whereas, I do not even find any reciprocal attitude when it comes to me. It turns out that tit-for-tat rule only works when people pay back hurt not when rewarding good. They just keep hurting me because they have become quite used to my non-reactive mode. Well hey! I have now made a policy U-turn like the Conservative government in the UK. I now act out what I feel. Sorry, but If you don’t like it, you lump it! You can close the door on your way out. I will rather be Billy –no-mates than have a “mate” like you who is really Billy -not -really -a –mate! So yes, I stopped calling you because you are a friends who does not care. You are a friend who are so vain and only bothered about things that don’t add any substance to my life. You are a friend who does not care about anyone other than yourself. You are a friend who only contacts me for what you can get from me. I keep calling but you never return any of my calls. You are always too busy to hang out yet my door becomes “next-door” when you have a problem. My phone number is on redial when you are stuck and you need a mate. Well, my mind is made up and I now weed friends from my life who are grief vectors. You probably fall into that group along with many others. You can shut the door on your way out. Thanks but no thanks! Do you know what the worst part is? On top of everything I have to deal with within my own life, I manage to crack a smile at strangers just to be polite and still get knocked back by their blank expressions!  to walk past people on the hallway and smile at those I make eye contact with. Nothing hurts more than a blank face staring back at you like you are crazy or something. The irony is that these people who leave me feeling so uneasy have no clue that I am made so unhappy by their actions.  I have now made a final resolution to cover that too!  I shall henceforth keep my eyes straight and keep my “hello” to myself. While I would like to carry on being nice regardless of the response attitudes, I still feel that being too nice is definitely a flaw. So I have decided to stop being Mr nice guy and just be normal .  No “hello”, “hi” or ” what’s up”! . I shall just mind my own business from now on and that way I will hopefully stay in control of my feelings and not get hurt. Happy days………..   Photo credit: Pixabay

No More Mr Nice Guy

In The Wall 5
People come in different shapes and sizes, some big, some small, tall, short, fat, slim, ugly, beautiful but I am most fascinated by people who seem most unapproachable. Do you know them? The ones who you find on their own when you walk into a room full of people. You scan through and find them looking like they would rather be somewhere else. They even complete the look with an “upset air”. Everyone tries to avoid them. Wet blankets they are called. Finding a quarrel to pick with everyone around. Not in the least helpful, looking troubled. I am fascinated because, I like to think that there is an element of humanity left in everyone. I also feel that looks can be deceptive. Some people put up a front as a result of bad experiences and lack of trust, thus, feeling the need to hold on to themselves. They fear that even an eruption of a smile on their lips may be taken for a weakness. They build an impenetrable wall around themselves. They smile as they see people shudder and tremble with discomfort all around them. They feel triumphant “yes”, they think “I can now be left alone!” Well, the bad news for them is that, when I arrive, I am not put off by their antisocial character, rather, I keep being friendly until I reach out to that person – The man in the wall. All I see is a lovely person trapped within that shell. Time and time again, I have found that with patience, tolerance and at times tears, I gain their trust. Do you know what I find? I find that some of the best, kindest, loveliest people are wrapped in this shell of hostility. It is the product of all the pains, grudges, knock-backs and tears they have shed because of supposedly kind people like you and me who have constantly taken them for granted. If you are one of those people behind the wall, try not to rule the whole world out as potential heart breakers. I agree that you have constantly had bad experiences, but the good news is that amidst the sea of people that flow through life, those bad ones are only a minority. Too few for you to perfectly generalize and too few to hide away your beautiful self from the majority of good people out there who will treat you right. You need to give them a chance. It is interesting how you get only what you give. Have you stopped lately to think that this new “defensive” wall you have erected may be the reason why people have now continued to run from you? If you give love, chances are that you will get love, if you give hate, you will definitely get hate back in return. Let’s give one another a chance, live and let live. Some people ask me, “How can you stand being around that queer person?”, or, “I can’t believe this person did this nice thing”. Well, there is nothing special about me. We all have it in us to be patient and tolerant if we see beyond all the walls erected around people. Like everything in life nothing good comes easily. Hard work and perseverance are also needed when dealing with people. While I cannot claim to have complete mastery of the minds of peculiar people, I am hoping that by showing them some love, care and acceptance, you can reach out to the man in the wall.   Photo credit: Pixabay

The Man In The Wall

Wakey wakey! I said to my son and he did not stir. I poked him and up he leapt with a smile spread across his cute little face. He was very ticklish. Wide awake! He would catch the tickles if you gestured a clawed hand at him and pulled a face! You see, the past few days had been extremely stressful for this little sausage of a boy as we roused him too early and put him back to bed late each day. We were struggling to make it to his ill brother’s bedside. The hospital was in another town requiring a two hourly commute each way. So to be fair, he had every reason to be knackered. He opened his eyes, lips smiling, and whispered ‘crisps’ , ‘crisps’, until the ‘sps’ sound faded gently away. He kept at it like he was striking a bargain with me for disturbing his sleep yet again. To his dismay as he locked eyes with me, he saw my stern unwavering look. At this point, he employed a more diplomatic tactic. He gave me a big cuddle, the type that leaves you feeling breathless. He then whispered into my ears ‘hello mummy… I love you…’ melting my heart as I thought, ‘Aww…bless him’ . I then said, ‘I love you too darling’. Mission accomplished he must have thought and rightly so. His next words were ‘mummy please will you buy me some crisps today? You know I haven’t had any for aaaaaages’. Hahaha I giggled… who can say no to that! So I agreed and mustered some firmness by adding a disclaimer ‘well maybe this one time since you have asked me so nicely! So as you can imagine, our preparation that day was as smooth sailing and without arguments as it was speedy. We got to our destination as planned and I got him his ‘crisps’ as promised. I even let him choose a flavour to his utmost delight ! As we arrived the hospital ward and observed all the sanitary requirements- hand washing, hand cleaning, coat hanging. We even got cosy by wearing our slippers and my son settled down excitedly into the kiddy chair by his little brother’s bedside. I opened his ‘crisps’ for him and his grin seemed to grow bigger as I handed back the packet of ‘crisps’. I thought his face was going to tear! Afterwards I turned around and carried on with everything else I had to do. As every mum with a poorly hospitalised child knows, there can be tons to do when you arrive. Suddenly amidst all this, I heard a clatter…clatter… clattering sound behind me. My boy in his excitement had poured all his crisps accidentally on the ground! Weeeeeeeeeeee… he cried and as you can imagine, he burst into tears. I tried to console the distraught toddler with a renewed promise of getting him more ‘crisps’ . Which was quite a herculean task, but as I looked down at him once settled down, a thought crossed my mind about how similar to life this whole episode was. After all the build up to eating the long awaited crisps ; the soliciting for, the waiting for, the anticipation of the enjoyment of this bag of crisps and the certainty that once acquired, there was nothing to stop him enjoying and satisfying this crisp craving. It fell through just as he was about to take his first bite. How uncertain can some ‘certain’ events turn out to be? How many times have we been assured we had a job for instance only to get to the interview and get told “sorry we found someone else more suitable” and next thing you know, all the plans riding on that job just fall before our eyes like a pack of dominos. I personally will say always guard yourself. Just because something is certain does not stop the fact that ‘anything can happen’. This way of thinking guards me personally and reduces the level of disappointment I tend to feel given any circumstance. You need to be able to console yourself fairly quickly (like I did with my son). Resolve to try again, find an alternative but try not to dwell on regret . Well, look at it this way, now you know this course of action is not feasible. You are now the wiser for it. That is one positive way to see it. Never lose sight of other possible baskets to throw your eggs in no matter how secure and sure the current basket is. It is wise to give this current basket your best shot so that if it falls through you can be rest assured in the knowledge that it was not for want of effort. As a wise Kin Hubbard once sums it up “There is no failure except in no longer trying. There is no defeat except from within, no really insurmountable barrier save our own inherent weakness of purpose”. Photo credit:  Redeeming God 


Private corner
Have you ever heard yourself think “People don’t care about me” or “nobody even bothers?” Well, while that may be true, have you then wondered if you may have contributed to that? Oh yes! I know we normally prefer to feel detached from the reasons why people treat us the way they do. However, at times we need to stop and take stock of how we may have unknowingly encouraged people to treat us wrongly. I had a call today from a friend. A very good friend. I had recently been upset about her uncaring attitude towards me. My conversation with her was also an eye opener to me. I did my best to express my dismay at her lack of sensitivity towards my plight. I expected more support from her. She in turn pointed out some facts to me explaining why this came to be the case. Our heart to heart conversation has led me to question if I had discouraged her from caring for me without realizing. Privacy! Yes privacy was the main culprit. In the past, people appeared to “care” about me. They asked me questions about things. They asked questions about my condition and how I felt. Answering these litany of endless questions left me overwhelmed. They felt more like “prying” questions rather than “caring” ones. Consequently, people perceived my withdrawal from answering them as a subtle hint that I wanted to be left alone. This resulted in their deliberately deciding to respect my privacy by leaving me be. I am not going to lie, it felt good not been quizzed at every opportunity in the name of “care”. I sometimes jokingly referred to these as ‘information-seeking-CID-tendencies’ or ‘nosiness’ on their part. However, my private space slowly became less comfortable and lonelier with each passing day. I started to wish that somebody would ask me how I was. As days turned to weeks and weeks to months, sadly, nobody asked. I guess they did not want to get their heads bitten off by my harsh tongue or rolling eyes. I felt like screaming for attention but it never came. Everyone assumed I was going to ask for help if I needed one. It became even more embarrassing for me to reach out. I dropped little hints and then even larger hints. My attention seeking also went from subtle to obvious until I had a proper breakdown which luckily a clever friend saw as a “cry for help”. My good friend made me realise that my attitude of pushing everyone away coupled with my vehement refusal to speak or open up meant that no one could help. They could not come into my head to read my thoughts either. So they all just stayed away hoping I was going to come to them when I was ready. As we spoke, I appreciated how lucky I was to have such a friend like her who saw beyond my snipes and tantrums, ignored them and still came to my rescue. For this, I was thankful. Unfortunately, not everyone is so blessed. So I want to open your eyes to see with me why there can be disadvantages to going all “cold-turkey” or “leave-me-aloney” on everyone. While I still want my privacy, I have learnt to acknowledge peoples’ care and concern and to also appreciate it. I agree that can feel very nosey at times but perhaps realising that people only mean well most times can help us to be more patient with them. The problem is that most times though they have no clue how to. To you the friend who is constantly being pushed away, try not to take it personal. It is quite stressful dealing with “stuff”. You can give your friend space, but please, please, still find time to ask how they are as they may have trapped themselves in the private corner of discomfort. It gets lonely at times but knowing you care will make all the difference, trust me! Do not fall into the “I am fine!” trap! “Oh how are you?” and you always automatically say “I am fine” remember it is also a question and an opportunity for you to say you are “not fine” and possibly get help. The thing with care and compliments is that if you keep throwing them back at the giver, they gradually get withdrawn unconsciously too. Perhaps they too become used to your frequent answers and just assume you are fine. You can encourage them with a smile when you are fine and even say “thank you for asking”. That way, you encourage them to ask next time and also reassure them that you do not feel disturbed by their questions. We have to see that though we may not be rude about pushing people away, we may choose to be passive and it can still have just about the same effect of turning people off and pushing them away. So have you ever boxed yourself into a private corner like I did? Please leave us a comment below and let’s hear about your experience. Did you manage to get any help in the end?   Photo credit: Pixabay

Private Corner

I felt a morbid sensation as I walked into the chapel to pray. The morbid sensation one felt, overpowered the peace sought by coming here as the feeling of grief hung in the chapel like a smoke that left you breathless. It was a Children’s hospital chapel where all came to seek respite from the endless struggles their children were going through on the wards daily. While this was the primary reason for its existence, it had a secondary use. It appeared that over the years, parents used it as a place to leave a mark of farewell for their children who had lost their individual battles with different ailments. It was not unusual to see an inscription, a card, a plaque and an endless array of soft toys in all shapes and sizes. I could only conclude that they looked and felt like a summarized version of the grief the parent or “leaver” felt in themselves about events that led to that day. Some looked cute, others looked “not-so-cute”. One constant feature though where the plastic eyes stock on those toys. They left an impression on me that left me cold and a bit frightened to be honest as each eye seemed to tear into me when I prayed. I could not help feeling teddy eyes all over the chapel. So I made a habit of shutting my eyes very tight and picking corners away from the centre of the chapel where all the “eyes” seemed to converge. Today, I just came into the chapel because I felt brave. I recall that on several occasions, I had walked out or rather escaped the chapel because I found it emotionally overwhelming to be there amidst all the symbols, marks and Items of grief in the place. Infact, I came into the chapel because I felt brave enough to ignore the “eyes” and just try to find God and inner peace beneath the smoke of grief that permanently clung to it. As I arrived, I was shocked by the tranquil feeling that greeted me. Since my mind was heavy with anxiety, I was also distracted from the chapel itself and put my new found calmness down to it. It was amidst the prayers that I looked up and meant to stare back at those piercing “eyes” all around me, only to notice for the first time that they were…. gone! It seemed for a second like I had walked in with my eyes closed even while they were agape and an imaginary spec seemed to fall from my eyes. For the first time in the three years I had visited the chapel, I could behold its beauty. I could see the inscriptions on the wall, the paintings in the glass; the chandelier from which hung the brightest lamps I could remember. I was at peace….. At last. I could come here now without the fear of being crushed by those ‘eyes’. It was now suddenly restored to its rightful place in this hospital as “the chapel” where I could find peace. Not a place of riotous emotions centred on grief, pain, loss and sadness. Now it could be a place of hope for the living who struggled, not a place that left one wondering if it was a matter of time before their child became a memory on the wall or better still replaced by a soft toy with a pair of “eyes”.   Photo credit: Pixabay  

The Chapel

free like a child
Hmmmm! I saw these shoes on a lovely lady’s feet sometime ago, I  couldn’t take my eyes off them. They were so spectacularly familiar. They were the most comfy looking shoes you could find for a mile. Lace up, just under the ankle, shoe boots with caterpillar soles. Certainly “the” shoes. Suddenly it clicked! They were a replica of my school shoes some 15 odd years ago. I had the exact same ones. Well, not really exactly the same ones, as mine were in a different colour. It was interesting how this lady who was in front of me chatting away loudly with her friends had drawn up those memories just by choosing to put on those shoes . The thought caused a kind of chaos in my little head as I recalled different events and sorted my thoughts until a smile was plastered around my face. All the time the lovely lady was unaware.   Shoes do it for me. I have always being fascinated by them. Aspiring to own as many of them as I can. It has always being my thing. I have joked about being able to tell a lot about a person by looking at the shoe they wear. In my opinion, shoes bear a testimony about the way people treat their feet, telling further tales about the way they treat themselves. I remember how I cried for ages for that shoe. They were so lovely and comfortable looking. I dreamt about enjoying my long walks to and from school in them. They were not the “in vogue” shoes at the time. I saw them first on someone else and it became love at first sight for me. I had no idea what hole it was going to dig in my parents’ pockets and nothing else mattered as long as I got them! Well, I finally did get them and truly enjoyed walking in them. I wore them everywhere. To school, to church, to parties, for fun… they went well with everything I had or so I thought. Looking back now, I can hear in the distance those disapproving remarks from family and friends who were saddled by my need to forever appear in those shoes. I now realise that those faces they pulled were not due to the sunshine burning their faces, but because of my silly shoes which by then had seen better days. That’s the bit I really miss about being a child. The ability of a child to be so unaware of everyone and everything else and be consumed by self-satisfaction and gratification. All that matters is that the activity or object is appealing and causes some form of enjoyment to the child. It’s amazing and extremely fascinating  how the mind of a child functions. At the end of the day, that’s all that really matters. Adults seem to lose their ability to make simple choices or enjoy simple activities because they over analyse everything. They spend time obsessing about suitability, peer acceptance, rationality, and consequences- material or immaterial. This can be counter- productive, crumpling and even destructive. Ultimately denying and robbing them of simple and enjoyable experiences or activities.  What they don’t realise is that the worst case scenario is failure which honestly, is not the end of the world. It is the brain child for pushing boundaries. You would not have even known it was not an option if you didn’t try. There is less adventure to be had in a life filled with what if’s. However a chance to explore possibilities, push boundaries, learn something new and even add a feather to one’s cheeky cap can only be attained if you stop holding back and just try something new. Look on the brighter side, you would have given it a go, learnt something valuable to take into another experience or at least added a feather to your cap! So you see when I looked at the lady chatting away with reckless abandon and seemingly enjoying herself, I saw her feet. I saw her shoes and they reminded me of my long lost freedom. The freedom I used to enjoy as a child…the freedom that made me love the things I did and do the things I loved. So have you ever been in a situation that made you remember a lovely part of your past? Are you living free like a child? Drop us a line in the comments below. We will love to hear all about it. Thank you for reading. You can read more of my musings here. Photo credit:  From Gaffera  through My Little Window In San Damiano

Free Like A Child