Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Life is a Dance. Life is a Journey

Life is a dance. I dance. You dance and we all dance. Even with the best choreographer, we all dance differently as we hear the tune and as our bodies will let us move. Some with intensity, some with great agility and others just gracefully swinging from one direction to the other but dance we do.

In the same way, life is a journey and we are at different stages of our journey. Some just beginning, some very far gone and some at the middle, no matter where you are, we are all trotting along… and some have finished, reached the end and the destination and others have parked along the way.

Nothing can be truer as I look at the lives of my two boys now. One is getting ready to leave for high school and cannot wait to embrace this new stage of his life. Everything is about independence and the freedom of action that he believes high school will bring. No matter what I say about the boundaries and the unwritten rules of life, he still believes high school will take him away from the clutches of my discipline.

On the other hand, I look at my little toddler “Popo” who cannot leave me alone or take his hands off me. He holds my two legs so that I do not leave him and go out. He tugs at my clothes, pulls it and drags me around making sure we are linked and tied together somehow. He wakes up in the morning and pull me “pup up mama” no matter how much I tell him that I want a few more minutes of sleep, all I hear is “pup up mama”. There is no way he was leaving that bed and that room without me.

This is true of each of us every stage of our life and our journey. We need something different. Sometimes we want someone to hold us and never let us go and some point we want to be ‘set free’… (although we are free all the time). While one is ready to fly away to explore the world, one needs to hold me to help him explore his world, understand his world this time. For both there are lessons of life for us all.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The World is a Dance Floor

The world is a dance floor and we all dance differently even if the beat is one which it never is, we hear it differently.

This morning as I was sweating it away on the treadmill beside an older lady who was leisurely sweating it on the bike and dabbing her face at the show of any resemblance of sweat, a dashing young lady came in to say hello to the older lady. Did I say dashing? More like glamorous, elegant and all very well put together from her make-up to her bright scarlet red wrap around dress.

Every head (male and female) turned to towards the young lady and as she came around the older lady asked if her dress was a Von Frostein design and she said no but clearly basking in the attention and appreciation albeit with humility.

Just then we looked through the window as a reflection shone through the glass of another young lady whose glitter and style shone through the window in her gold and tube top walking towards her car with all pump and pageantry. The older lady shook her head and said but not maliciously, “that is not appropriate for this time” and then the well dressed lady with a big smile on her face “Oh that’s Jane. She always jams it all together… afternoon, evening even disco outfits”.

Even though that is very true, it reminded me of what I recently read that these differences and excesses are what makes the world what it is and makes the journey exciting.

From all indication, “Jane” was feeling very happy and beautiful in her disco outfit at 10.30 am and may be heading to the mall for all you care just like that.

While I do not diminish the appropriateness of styles and dressing but really life is a dance, the world a dance floor. We hear different tunes, we dance to whatever tune we hear and our steps are different but we are all dancing. Lets all just dance, dance and not worry about the dance steps of the other person

Sunday, July 18, 2010

What are tears for?

I believe many people have either asked or contemplated this question. I do not know for sure why we have tears. I think I learnt in school that tears help clean our eyes… I am not sure if I was told that or I am making it up but I have that information in my head somewhere. True or false, I am not sure exactly why we have tears. If it is to clean our eyes, then why do we have to cry or laugh before we can clean our eyes?

Today, I attended the prize giving and school graduation ceremony in the school my kids go to… none of them was graduating but hey… they are moving from one class to the next. I always go for the graduation ceremony in this school because I like to see the young kids celebrate the completion of a phase in their lives and declare their readiness to go to the next one. It is always so touching.

So today I was there and I was crying all the way. First, we had little celebrations in each class, celebrating the different strengths of each child in every class. That was great. It was an opportunity for the teachers to ‘show off each child’ it was not about academics only… it was about everything and anything good in each child.
I do not want to mention that when the teacher talked about my older son I cried and wept and wept and it was all about how good he is and of course how they will miss him because he is not coming back next session to that school.

Then it was time for prize giving and graduation ceremony. When my son’s name was mentioned for a prize I teared up… I was very happy right? So I cried… interesting. Then came the time for the graduating students and their teachers and them I started crying again. I had to leave because I was making a mess of my well applied mascara…

I got home and I was still crying about everything… the prize, the speeches, the songs and then I asked myself what we were given tears for.

Honestly, I am not sure when my tear tap is supposed to be opened… I read books I weep, I see movies that I know are sheer acting, I cry. I get a good present I cry. My son does well in school and gets a prize I cry. I have a miscarriage I cry. I have a healthy baby I cry. I witness an accident I cry. I see the homeless I cry. Someone is in pain I cry. Someone gets a miracle I cry. I watch my children sleeping peacefully I cry. They are sick I cry. Did I mention that my son is leaving for school in a few months time and I cry just thinking about it?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Strange Summer Dream

Last night, I had a very strange dream. I hardly dream (I mean dream while asleep… the one when awake… I dream endlessly), I only dream when I have malaria or when I am thoroughly drugged up in the hospital like after a surgery and I am on my way back to consciousness.

So I had this strange and weird dream… not sure how I got into the aircraft or where and when we boarded but we landed and we were on our way to some hotel (have forgotten the name now) in Dallas. Please how in the world would I be headed to Dallas? I had never thought of Dallas as a special place to go (and that is not to say Dallas is not a great Texas city… it really is). I have no friends or foes in Dallas that I think of. I have a long listing of places I want to visit in the world and so many cities in the US I want to go to but Dallas is not one of them (maybe because I have already been there about 12 or 15 some years ago).

Anyway, here in my dream, I am in Dallas with my boys in toe. We are to go to our hotel and who is there to take us in his bike? Some British soccer player looking happy and ready to chauffeur us on his big bike and I said “Oh you look familiar”. Familiar indeed!!! As if I knew him from adam and as if I see his like everyday in my life offering to drive me around town. So as I said “Oh you look familiar, my older boy said “mummmm” with much emphasis on the last m as if I am embarrassing him, I turned towards him and said “yes” (as in what is it now, can I not talk?) And he said “mum, this is Owen”. Then I said “E hen”! Indicating that now I recollect… I know the guy. So we all jumped on his bike and headed to the hotel.

Not sure what happened after that (must have sleepily woken up to feed the baby his milk) because the next time I knew what was happening, we had reached the hotel only the soccer player was not with us and right there at the reception, they asked us who we wanted to see (because maybe the likes of us did not stay in that hotel). Again, I would not remember his name so I said “that British soccer player” and the lady laughed and said “Owen” and again I nodded in affirmation as if “yea who else?”. She immediately pointed to the pool area where Mr Owens was basking in the Dallas summer sun. I looked and smiled…

I did not immediately head towards the “British soccer player” but decided to look around the reception which was very crowded with lots of people coming and going. As I looked, there was a cousin of mine who lives in the US so I walked up to her and she was very surprised to see me. She said she had no clue I was coming to the US and I said even me I had no clue I was coming too… how true!!!

When I woke up, I had a good hearty laugh. So this must be my own summer sizzle from own very bed in Lagos, Nigeria… with the British soccer player who I guess I should be grateful came to pick me up from the airport as he captained England to the woeful world cup outing. Since I am not in the hospital under heavy sedatives (thank God), I must be coming down with malaria (please God… no malaria a beg)… only now that I think of it, I wish and wonder why it was not rich and handsome David Beckham or even young and rich Cristian Ronaldo in his red Ferrari…

… guess that will be for the next summer dream… for now, Owen will do.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Gym locker room dynamics

For several years, I should say decades I have been going to the gym. It is a major part of my life and the one place that I have a lot of fun. When I am not spending time with my kids, the next best thing is the gym and a good book. Nothing beats a good run on the treadmill and although I hate the crunches that accompany these fun cadios and I get to do those last and count the minutes.

In the last 18 months, my routine changed as I took a career break to make a career change. I started going to the gym at a different time of the day after workers have gone to the office and kids have gone to school. I realized after a couple months that it is different. It is a different group of people with different mindsets and different approach to life. To start with, there is no frenzy in terms of rushing in and out because you have to get to the office the same minute you are stepping out of the shower.

Showering at the gym in my new schedule was not a regular routine. In fact for several months I did not know where the locker room and shower facilities were because I usually get there for the aerobics and step aerobics classes, visit my favourite machines and head home. Every once in awhile I shower at the gym especially if I have an errand to run along that end of the city and recently it has become a lot more regular. Initially, I could not understand the kind of discussions and dynamics that happen at the locker room as ladies and women shower and change not to mention the fights.

The first time I witnessed one of these discussions, it was about breast size and augmentation and the ladies that their husbands want them to get certain sizes and others to lift up the sagging ones. I silently listened without contributing because such discussions were alien to me. Then came the label comparisons. Now I have noticed that this is a regular topic and one that really irritates me. Not that I do not know that women are usually concerned with fashion and fashion accessories but I have never been part of a women community that this is the dominant topic and everyone is trying to find out who is wearing and who and what everyday.

Over these past months too, I have come to know that these regulars at this time are in three categories…the ladies that are married to expatriates of all sorts (bi-racial partners) form one group, the foreign ladies (expatriate ladies and wives) form a second major group and others which is where I will classify (professionals and self employed who dictate their working hours) and often wear the expression “how did I end up being in this place at this time?” These groups believe me see the world differently and also there are usually silent wars and very fierce competition among the first group of our gym community members

One thing is obvious they (the first group) compare relationship notes, luxury goods notes and related antics. Sometimes I ‘enjoy’ listening to the shallow discussions such as labels on the clothes and how much the bags cost because it certainly shows me that there other types of people on the face of the earth that are not worried about achieving purpose or ranting about values and principles… the deep things. All said, the locker room can be very entertaining and irritating at the same time and until my schedule changes, this is my new gym communities… some are from mars!!!

Saturday, June 05, 2010

In Death we Live

Yesterday I attended the funeral service of an older friend’s mother. She was over 80 years of age and was considered to have done well in that regard.

It was not the good things that were said about this woman that caught my interest as I have long concluded that once you are dead you are so loved and you are very good.

My friend is at least 60 years and the first of 7 0r 8 siblings. Her brother is over 50 years. When I went to see my friend after I heard that her mum passed, she was tearing up talking about her mum and imagining what her mum would be saying now. She said she will really miss her mum. I told her that I thought that it is easier to deal with this separation when we are older. She said even as old as she is, she never really thought her mum will die… ( a little strange). She wanted confirmation that she did enough to show her mum that she really loved her while she was alive. I told her that I am sure she did.

Yesterday she was to thank the people for attending the service and the officiating priests and she broke down again and could barely talk. I can understand my friend could be quite emotional so it was not her tears that shook me up, it was her brother openly weeping after church. I have never seen that in my adult life.

As I left the church, I could not even remember any of the lofty achievements of this mother of 7 and they were plenty but the picture of the depth of the loss portrayed in the faces of her two grown children especially told me a lot. I concluded that even if she did or did not achieve much in terms of accolades, she was a mother who loved her children and was devoted to them.

The whole day I thought about this and I know she was one great mother even in death. If you will not be forgotten by the people you love then you live even though you die. Truly in death we live.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Avoid the Fake Life

At the gym today, I had a very interesting conversation with a ‘gym friend’ and it was about living a fake life or the fake lives that some women live. My gym friend was alarmed at what happened in the company of their friend just the day before. We did not discuss the friend but the friend’s habit was bothering her and she asked me if she was crazy to think that her friend is living a fake life.
She said her friend vowed to pay out her ‘credit bills ‘ equals ‘gbese’ in this part of the world incurred from purchase of jewelry. When they got to the dealer/seller of ravishing gold jewelry, her friend not only paid up what she was owing, she ended up incurring two times (2x) the original debt. By the time they left, the friend was in debt to the tune of $14,000 and she has only come in to pay off one under $10,000. She said it was appalling. As they left the place, it got her thinking about such vain hobby aka vanity. She wondered when her friend will wear all the jewelry that she acquires. Then she said something very interesting, she said she told her friend that men do not notice these jewelry.
At that point I butted in saying, “Oh no! No woman wears such jewelry for a man to see or notice but they were it for other women to notice and as far as they are concerned, it places them in a class. It is a status statement.
I do not begrudge anyone who has the money to deck themselves up in gold and diamonds but to live perpetually in debt is a like living in self made prison without knowing it. I can understand getting into debt for the right reasons including paying school fees or hospital bills but one hears all sorts or ridiculous things people do to belong. Belong to what? Summer is fast approaching and people will take loans to travel for summer because ‘everyone travels for summer’. Who is the everyone that travels? Travels to where? Where did this fake living come from? We are all of a sudden defined by the jewelry or the designer bag that we wear and carry.
There is nothing wrong with luxury goods and there are people that all they know is luxury goods. They have never carried or worn anything less even if their parents looted the national treasury to give them the fake life but that is all they know but to now follow them and live in debt so that you can attend the same party with them and look like them is a calamity.
I was going to say that people should know that they can put such resources into other causes but anyone who is this shallow to dwell and think only about what to deck this mortal body with cannot and will not be able to understand living for something that has more meaning.
So I said to my gym friend, we need to be thinking about what value to add. What contributions to make to mankind to leave this place better than we have met it. We immediately moved to other treadmill kind of gist… our health, what are eating and the result of her recent health assessment. It was a much more edifying conversation than the fake life of people.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Much ado about nothing... the story of the zazu dress

I hardly write about very personal things and events but this is too hilarious to pass. It was Thursday night about 11.30pm when husband handed me a package. I opened it, and saw a print fabric of very funny unusual color of lemon and purple. I am a black and white person so little colors blind me. I immediate asked what for and he said it is the uniform outfit (aso-ebi) for the reception he sent me the invitation sms earlier in the day. I said “Oh the one I replied saying that I did not know the family or the sender”. He proceeded to tell me the history and the connection with his family how they all grew up together. Compelling story! This reception is for the 40th day remembrance of their father’s death.
All said, I reminded him that it is Thursday night and that the reception is on Saturday afternoon barely 36 hours to the event. I asked how come we are just getting the fabric and how on earth are we going to get it ready and wear it to the event by Saturday? Husband reminded me that there is something called express service by tailor. I said ok. Come morning, I quickly called the only fashion designer/dress maker I know and she said it is doable and gave me one ridiculous price. In my mind, I said, no way!! But not wanting to make light of the importance of this event, I headed out.
Measurement taken, styled discussed and agreed, I left. Next day (am) which is the event day, dress maker called to say dress is ready and will be delivered within the hour. I thanked her profusely in addition to the exorbitant price I was going to pay. True to her word, the dress arrived, as I held it up, I knew there was problem. I quickly tried it on; it was at least two sizes bigger. The waistline was right on top of my bum (you can figure where the end of the dress will be and it is a floor length dress). My older son could not stop laughing. Too late, I have to wear it to the event so everyone had suggestions. At last we all agreed that I should use a big belt to hold the middle of the dress to my waistline (get the picture??). Tried out two belts and we settled for one. With the belt holding the middle of the dress, the two shoulders were drooping and neck changed from u to w. But somehow I can wear it so I called the dressmaker and told her that the dress is not mine but I will have to wear it to the event. I twisted, turned in front of the mirror over and over again to see if there is a way that I can accept it and not feel conscious of it, I found none. The only thing that came to my mind was that it looked like the zazu dress I read in a book a long time ago.
It was about mid-day by now and the hours sped by. I had to read the sms again and it said reception was starting at 2pm. Husband was hunched over laptop and making calls on and off. I was busy with my usual activities, school work with the children, lunch and stuff. I finally settled on my laptop to get some work done. About 3.40pm, husband announces that we should be leaving in another 30 minutes.
I quickly went to change and I even put on two eye shadow colors to compliment the colors of the dress… so was my enthusiasm to make this dress work. We headed out about 4.15pm. 15 to 20 minutes into the traffic which will take at least another 15 to 20 minutes to go through, my sister in-law calls to find out where we were. We told her we were on our way and she said not to bother because the party is almost over and will be very over by the time we get there.
I thought “how great!” Said nothing. Felt nothing. Picked up my pen and wrote this story… so much ado about nothing!!!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The case for mentoring

There is quite a bit being said these days and a number of stuff flying around the whole place on mentoring. I was talking with a fellow parent in school a couple of days ago and she wanted to know what I do. I said that I am an HR professional but currently involved with career and life coaching and that I also train groups and organizations on leadership and managerial effectiveness as well as coaching and mentoring in workplace.
She said that a lady had approached her in church to ask her to mentor her as she is getting into business. She asked me if I have a coach. I said I needed a coach when I was making the transition from 8 -9 as internal consultant to independent service provider. Anyway, she has always worked for herself so this lady wanted her to coach her as she begins the arduous journey of self employment.
On my way home from this meeting, I was reviewing all the conversations and even the meeting we went for (something that I learnt to do over the years) Now I do not even think of it… once I leave a meeting or had a conversation, my mind automatically goes into a debrief mood. It occurred to me that people choose mentors without consideration. I do believe that a successful person will be flocked around by people wanting to know how he or she did it but mentoring goes beyond that.
What do you consider before you choose someone as your mentor? What do you want to get out of the relationship? When you go to someone and say, “please I want you to mentor me”, what exactly do you want this person to do for you? What about this person did you see, hear, read or encounter that convinces you that he or she could be your mentor.
There are structured organizational coaching and mentoring programs which is somewhat different from what I am writing about here. In this type of program, there is a schedule to follow, the results and activities are monitored and measured. It is part of a wider development program or succession planning.
When someone comes to you and asks if you can ‘mentor’ him or her, what exactly is that person asking of you? Is there a general understanding of what and how and result? Before you say yes to a mentoring request, please seek to understand what is being asked. Ask yourself whether you will be able to give what is being asked? First and most importantly, do you have anything to offer? Do you have the time to provide mentoring? Do you have the resources to guide and support the required development of the mentor seeker?
When we are approached by someone asking that we mentor them, it is beyond the ‘feel good’ feeling we get. It is tasking. It is time consuming. So before you rattle out the next yes to such request, ask yourself if you have anything within because you cannot give what you do not have.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Dealing with the pain of job loss

No doubt there are a lot of angry and bitter people out there now following the recent waves of job losses blowing around the country, the globe and across sectors. Recent wave of job losses have been either from early retirement, retrenchment, severance, reduction … no matter what term is being used, losing a job hurts and it hurts real bad. Job loss has been credited as one of the highest ranking stress inducers of our time. Each story you hear seem to be worse than the previous one… all very pathetic.
Like every other loss, time is a good healer; the only problem with the loss of a job is that the victims have no time. Let me explain, if you have recently lost your job or in the process of losing it (because the exercise will continue until there is a major turnaround in the economy and there are no predictions that it will be soon), you have no time to mop and cry and feel sorry for yourself, you need to get up and get going. You need to ask yourself a number of self evaluator questions or seek the help of a life coach to help you through the process. However, no matter what you want to do, you have to first deal with the anger and resentment that you feel in the inside about losing your job.
Understanding why you were laid is primary to dealing with the anger and bitterness of severance. If you are not totally clear as to why your company laid you off or why you were asked to leave, then it will be a lot more difficult dealing with the anger. However, No matter how it was explained to you, the result is the same. Job loss can have a profound effect on your emotional well being. There is a typical cycle that most people experience. This cycle includes denial, anger, frustration, self pity and eventually adaptation. Because people are identified with what they do, a job loss looks like their identity have been taken away from them and self doubt is the first thing that sets in.
Let it sink in… accept it! Do not live in denial and do not go on with the blame game.
Talk about it… share the burden. Find someone you trust and if you have mentor, this is a good time to get together with the person. Get a life coach. Talk to someone who will listen.
Being laid off can be a trigger for something good to happen to you. It is important for you to see that it could be an opportunity for you to pursue your dreams that you have been putting on hold simply because you were comfortable with a monthly salary. This is the time to get back inside and use the strengths you have to do something.
Before you do anything, make sure you have resolved the anger within you about being laid off, forgiven anyone and everyone (if you think you have been victimized) or else it continue to hunt you and become a barrier for moving forward.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Showing a little kindness to strangers and to all

Most cultures have a history of showing kindness to foreigners and strangers. The African culture boasts of kindness to strangers and some nations such as Nigeria lists hospitality as one of its strengths and a major factor in tourism attraction. I guess that was before the Niger Delta militants started its kidnapping and abducting spree and also before Abdul Multallab decided to blow up a plane full of innocent strangers and for some inexplicable reason such evil has become the face of Nigeria. Whatever happened to our kindness and hospitality? Even within us as a nation, we are weary of showing kindness because of the horror stories and events. ..
The bible is full of admonitions and instructions about treating strangers and foreigners with kindness. It was with amazement that I read that God remanded the Israelites to be kind to foreigners and strangers because they were once strangers in the land of Egypt before He showed them mercy. He even instructed them not to pick up grains that fall down in the fields during harvest and to purposely leave some crops unharvested so that strangers and foreigners passing through can have something to eat.
Most of us travel to other countries on vacations, adventures, business, you name it and we never quite forget any genuine act of kindness that we are shown on our journeys whether it is a kind man or woman giving a helping hand with kids or luggage or helping someone navigate the streets of an unknown city.
I recently read of an American lady travelling alone through Jordan and Jerusalem who took ill and was gravely sick in the bus and a singular act of kindness from an old woman who disrupted her own destination to take the sick lady to a convent saved the tourist’s life.
The stories and the people who take advantage of peoples’ acts of kindness abound and these are the reason for the seemingly insensitivity of people these days towards the needy and strangers. People set out to target and exploit others who show kindness and compassion. I will never forget one mid-say coming back from a meeting, I saw a young woman in her late 20s or early 30s carrying a mid-sized plastic basin crying and wailing on the street. I wondered what could make such healthy woman and by all indication not crazy crying so openly. I asked the driver to stop and we had gone past a little bit, I insisted that he reversed; I got out of the car and asked the lady what the problem was. She cried even louder and told me how all the egg she was asked to go and deliver had all broken when she tripped and fell. I asked who she was delivering for and she said her aunt and how her aunt will definitely make a minced meat out of her and will not pay her for several months. I asked her how much the egg was and she said something like N7,000 and coincidentally I had some cash on me that day clearly for a payment because I never really carry lose cash as I operate tightly on budget but this day I had cash so I went back into the car, counted the money and gave this lady. I headed back to the office not even thinking about it again.
You can imagine my shock when the very next week and I mean the next week, I saw this same lady in another part of the city in the same act. I got out of the car and quietly got to her and said “how many eggs have you broken today” anger and disappointment obviously showing in my voice. There were a few people around and when she recognized me, she took off with such speed that the onlookers thought I was some kind of law enforcement agent. I stood there for what seemed like forever even though it was for a few brief minutes, shook my head and walked away.
Should we then stop showing compassion and kindness one may ask? No! Life’s journey is about giving and kindness we show to each other as we trod along.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What's looks got to do with it?

I never thought that I will be writing something like this and actually seriously making a point that looks has everything to do with it.
We were told growing up that brain power is really the key to doors opening re\; getting employed. We were told that employers and interviewers were always looking for smart intelligent people and we believed it. The only thing else was to dress properly for interviews, do your homework as in find out about the company bla bla. I guess those work still but I think everyone does that anyway so now what else will separate you from the lot…
Background… the corporate world is changed a whole lot in the last couple of years say the last 5 to 10 years and rapidly changing too. The management and executives of companies are drastically and dramatically younger and have the rules sometimes upside down. Right or wrong, (that is a debate I will not get into) the factors of consideration are expanded to include unwritten ones… and the ones that no one will tell you.
Remember what you were told about impression? Exactly, exhume confidence, poise and “I am it” look… so now we get to looks
Mnnh! Mnhh! , let me think…. Looks? People will argue this until thy kingdom come (is it really God’s kingdom we are referring to here… I am not sure) that it makes little or difference but I can confidently say that it makes a lot of difference. Oh boy! It sure makes a difference. Looks? You ask again… yes I say emphatically. What looks… enhanced natural looks on a very thin body cladded in tight designer outfit . Get the picture? Once they step in some interviewers forget the prepared questions and only ask “When can you start?”
I was on a recruitment fair once and believe me a lady walked in and it was like a lightning struck instantly and I was the only female in a panel of 5. My interviewing colleagues all instantly developed lumps in their throat and you should have seen the sheepish smile on their faces…
I remember thinking, not all candidates are going to be miss something before coming for an interview… but I truly believe that if you are serious about getting a job, in addition to your “second to none” resume, if you are overweight and shabbily dressed with dreadful hair… not a lot of people will be patient enough to find out what you have upstairs except you are coming on a strong referral.
One more point, the parameters of beauty have also been adjusted so broadly speaking everyone is beautiful or can become beautiful if the right clothes are worn, the right makeup is applied and the accessories are attached … so as you can see, everyone still stands a chance of being employed only brain power now need some serious support.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Fashion Lost in Translation

Let me begin by stating upfront that the title of this posting is not originally mine. A young friend of mine who is like a little brother lives in the UK and visited home last Christmas and among his description of all that he observed upon arrival depicting that the aircraft landed in the right place - Lagos, Nigeria included this lost in transition. It hit home when I read the text although I did not probe to find out what he saw that warranted the expression, it captured the fuzziness and confusion that had engulfed me about certain fashions and trends I have observed in recent times.

A couple of years ago, I recall going through the same confusion and wondered why I could not understand the fashion of boots in Lagos Nigeria. I recall it was about 2004/2005 or earlier, cannot quite remember now but there was a boot, church every where and some of them quite "out of fashion". In the countries where boot wearing is not just a fashion but a necessity and a tradition, there are boot "no dos" and "boot no go areas"... ankle boots has the stated clothes sytle you are to wear it with and so is knee high boot and all the other styles. When this fashion hit the Nigerian scene, there were no rules... anything went. I asked myself if the boot wearers knew that boot is actually a check for cold but my sister explained it to me as she would explain a lot more things about fashion in Nigeria to me. She said "weather has no part in our fashion here in Nigeria... if the trend is on, we just follow it, we do not ask questions or care about weather".

And so the boot came and went. Maybe it is is still being worn or maybe not but I do not get to see them anymore. Now you can imagine my confusion and apparent fashion ignorance a couple of months ago, I think about mid year 2009 when again my eyes were confronted with another fashion trend that I could not interpret. I am neither a society person nor a fashionista so it takes a while for me to know what is the trend... and I only know when the ordinary person or people have joined the band wagon and this group includes even the young girls selling in the open market.

On this bright sunny Friday of either July or August, I had bounced into the local branch of a bank to make some payments and noticed that every (I mean exception) lady in the bank was wearing a sweater vest on a shirt. This bank is knowm for some strange people policies and because I do not typically go to the bank and have not been for over a year prior, I assumed right away that it was "the bank uniform". I truly concluded that maybe Friday casual was a major issue for them so they arrived at the sweater vest on a shirt worn over a pair of trousers. Such was my ignorance and such was my inability to make sense of the "uniform" especially since the bank was not that cold.

That weekend, I ran my observation by my sister again (she is a lot more fashion forward looking than myself) and I said "you know Bank so and so now have uniform for their employees" I even took offence in relaying this issue because I said it was only the women who had to wear this "uniform". When I was done describing it, she burst out laughing... boy did she laugh? I did not know what the laughter was about so I joined thinking she was thinking what I was thinking which was "how absurd" but nay, alas she was laughing at me and my fashion ignorance. She said it is no uniform but the fashion for a while now. I was lost...believe me, totally lost. I said "I must have been 'gone' too long. A couple weeks later, the church choir showed up with the same uniform... At this point, I gave up.

Now you know why when my young friend sent a text saying he knew he was home when he interpreted what he saw as fashion lost in translation made a whole sense to me and even more.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Whatever happened to new year resolutions

Typically, in January people talk about the new year resolutions that they have made and try to push or strive to live or achieve it. Over the years, people have equated new year resolutions with a change in lifestyle:
* I will eat better... reduce or totally skip junk food
* I will exercise more and lose weight
* I will change for the better, so something differently bla bla
* I will quit smoking, I will go to the gym etc The list is endless. No wonder it is dying a natural death because such resolutions seem to fade or wane in weeks and people are tired of failing and disappointing themselves each year but that is not the gist of this piece. I have noticed that people are no longer announcing their new year resolutions and it can only mean that either people are not making new year resolutions anymore or it is no longer a January affair.

It may also mean that people are a lot more concerned with survival in the face of the global depression to worry about little things like new year resolutions. In my opinion, people should make the decision to be better, to contribute more to the society or community at any point in their life when the conviction hit them and not just at the end of the year. I believe that year end has a natural way of getting us to review and take stock of our lives which is usually why resolutions seem to be the natural end of the review process. But in present times, the magnitude of social and economic change in the world affords no one time to wait to make necessary adjustment for survival. In the past, change in business and social life was incremental and people could even operate on autopilot but not any more.

Consequently, we find ourselves in a time starved and extremely overstressed society today that daily review is probably what is required of us. Undoubtedly, there are new rules in the game of life and the way understand and play by these rules determines where we end up...winner or loser. Imagine then waiting for year end to make resolutions or decisions that are critical for you to survive...

All said, taking inventory of our lives is important, if you can only do it at year end... somethings may be late but it is a are better than the man who does nothing but alas it is not enough. We need to constantly ask ourselves what we can do differently and how we can help others along the way and not wait for year end and the next January.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Rare glimpse into genuine love

I just thought that I must write about this event where I had the opportunity to witness what I call “rare declaration of true and genuine feeling”. I have always said that when it comes to public events like parties, weddings and funerals, mostly funerals, people do not hesitate to declare love for the dead person. After all, it is either regret for not telling the person while alive or to impress the living. Whatever the reason, I always take the outpouring of love for the dead with a pinch of salt.

We all have either heard of someone or have witnessed it ourselves where the dead person while alive really suffered and sometimes was so emotionally dealt with or abandoned by the so called loved ones and when the person passes to the great beyond, the eulogy is something else. Read the papers and you will see all sorts of spousal abuse… that is what I am talking about. But this piece is not about the dead; on the contrary it is about the living.

A couple of weekends ago, a friend of mine had a birthday party but the interesting thing is not the party, it is the hubby of this my friend. We are friends because our kids are best friends so they (the kids) forced us into friendship but they are one of the loveliest couples one can encounter and they are ordinary people. (Of course if they are my friends they can only be ordinary people).

My friend, auntie O and Mrs B was also having a thanksgiving because just weeks before, she had a surgery that went awry (in God’s own countryooo) but God was present as ever to show who He has always been …God and what He has always been… faithful. When the complication developed following a “simple surgery” she had to be opened up again and again and go under general anaesthetics three times within two weeks, she asked for her husband.

When she was telling me the story of this procedure, sending for her husband did not hit me like a major bullet but on this party/thanksgiving day when her husband recounted the whole thing, I still did not get it until I got home from the party and was reflecting on the whole event. The husband had to make a speech (as I think spouses do on such occasions) and he said some interesting things. He said he loves his wife, he mentioned actions, events and everyday things that show that he does to show it and how his wife merits everything. This may sound ordinary, but the way he said it, there was a genuineness that I had not seen in a very long time actually I do not think I have ever seen it. There were no flowery words, there were no smart choice of words…everything was real and so very real.

Her sister drove it home for me… my friend sent for her husband because “If he is there, then she is more than likely to pull through”… do you get the picture now? Her strength was failing her… her husband was who she must have around. No surprises, the guy arrived and said, the picture was scary…he just left the theatre to face the wall and plead his case to God.

This couple have renewed my hope in the ability for humans to really love and genuinely too.