Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Hair Issue...

For the better part of the past few years, I had relatively short hair which was mostly natural. I say mostly because as much as I would love to not have to touch it with any chemical at all, I do have to go against my wishes to loosen up the very tight kinky curls of most of us "native Africans" as I have recently been called, as opposed to African Americans. In other words, those of us not necessarily blessed with "Good Hair" or something like that. HA!

In recent months, I decided to switch it up. I got long wet and wavy braids from human hair, along with the simple braids my baby girl sported for her third birthday. Like mother, like daughter, eh? (Laughing). I got a lot of positive response with that hair, especially at work. I was told I looked younger, like in my twenties or something. Some folk thought my hair had grown and the surprise is not only in them thinking it was my real hair but in thinking it can grow that fast. Now, I have lived in the United States for almost eleven years, but the past few months is the first time that I will work in an area where I hardly see black folk. I have had two black patients in nine months, so to speak. Anyway, what I am trying to say is most of these responses have come from Caucasians.

When my long braids were about to expire or combust if I didn't change something, I had to take them out and that I did, even though I did not have enough time to get another hair do that same weekend. That left me with one week of looking quite afrocentric with my headwrap, if you catch my drift! I got a totally different set of responses. From "can I see your hair underneath?" to thinking the little frilly stuff at the edge of the fabric might be my hair to wondering if my braids were still inside it and just bunched up. I even joked and told some people they could have found roaches or rodents in my hair before I took the long braids out.

After a week of the wrap, I got a chance to sport another do. This time, I got short twists just about the length of my real hair, which is what I would call mid-length now. Of course mid-length black hair would be short for some other folk. Moving on. Here's the real kicker. People have been touching my hair. Most think it is my real hair. Many think I got a hair cut because my previous hair was down to past my shoulders.

I find myself having to refer people to the movie "Good Hair" by Chris Rock, or should I say the documentary. Contrary to some of the responses I have heard, I believe it is not only informative but necessary to see what other people go through to get their hair to look like something you can walk out of your bedroom in. The only disclaimer I add is that I do not spend $2K on my hair but rather, closer to a few tens or when it is to last a few months such as what I have on now, I might spend a little under $200. But that  would be my limit. The $180 hair would have to last three  months for it to be worth the expense.                                                                         

What really gets me is that as many black people as there are in this country, other races really have close to no idea how our hair care differs from theirs or that a black person can go from short hair to long hair in six hours and of course it's not their real hair, duh. I have had so many different hairstyles in my time that I think I'll display some of them here for your perusal, as long as I can locate a photo for you.

But you know what? We are all guilty of not knowing enough about the other race, of not paying enough attention, of maybe even not being interested. In as much as some of the statements people have made about my various hairstyles in the last year have been sometimes annoying or ignorant, at least it beats lack of interest. Someone even gave me hair product earlier this week and I realized when I looked at it that it was most likely made for curly Caucasian hair and not black hair. But the important thing is that she reached out to me in friendship and gave me a gift which I truly appreciate.

I am not without fault in this matter. It was only in recent years that I realized how much stuff Caucasians also do to their hair, sometimes on a daily basis. People with curly hair straighten it to get the straight look. People put highlights in their hair or constantly dye it for a preferred hair color. It's a little more than just jumping in the shower and using a blow dryer and ruffling their hands through it like I used to think. It sounds so ignorant now but I really didn't know better. I now know my Caucasian sisters also get perms and have to buy lots of hair product from holding sprays, gels and mousse to just about anything to get it to be anything other than in a pony tail. Even the men might need some mousse for a mohawk or the Brad Pitt effect.

Shouldn't we be a little more interested in not only our similarities but our differences? Shouldn't we care more about the next person? Even an African American with good hair may not fully understand what the rest of us go through. And I admit I am totally hating now but hey, I can't just put olive oil in my hair and walk out the door looking fly. It will most likely all end up on my forehead later in the day and the hair will still be the same. And I couldn't possibly just jump in the pool for a swim (if I could swim) and have hair looking great again thirty minutes later. But by the same token, the sister with the good hair is so much harrassed and hated on about it that it's crazy. One said to me recently that people have told her to her face that they believe she relaxes her hair secretly. Now that's just hurtful.

Maybe I'm alone in this but I absolutely am almost at a loss for words about how much more we ALL need to try harder to be in someone else's shoes and to see life outside of our little sphere. Can it really be so hard to just look around and pay attention to things other than our immediate business? Would a little quest for knowledge or a little interest hurt?

What say you?

As we approach the new year, BLESSINGS!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year....

I somehow forgot to post this when I wrote it so here goes...Lol.

I am one of those people who have a different twist on New Year Resolutions. Some people understand my point, yet others disagree because I dare to challenge a notion they were raised with and that they believe is just the way it should be at the beginning of the year.

Let me start by clearing this up. I am not opposed to New Year Resolutions. I am a huge fan of change and progression so why would I be opposed? Here's my take on it however. Both from personal experience and from watching people around me over the four decaded I have been blessed to be on planet earth, over and over again, I realized we would all make up this list of New Year Resolutions near the end of each year, hoping to implement them on the following January first. Sounds like a good idea right? After all, we all want to grow and be better people. We all want to advance in life. We all want to achieve something in 2011 that we did not achieve in 2010. The only problem I see repeatedly is that there is too much burden placed on that magical day, January first. We adopt this attitude of procrastination under the guise of New Year Resolutions.

What I see happening is this. The first two or so weeks of the year, everyone is happy and keeping to all their new rules. Some even make it up to a whole month on their new rules. Then what happens? We start to slip. By the second month, I am sure you will agree with me that most people have fallen off the wagon with at least half of their new practices. By the third month, probably another quater of your new practices have yet again proven impossible to keep up with. Most people by the end of the first quarter are right back where they started. Why is this?

This is my theory. We have good intentions but we place too much of a burden on this one magical day that is supposed to miraculously change everything. Here is how I have overcome it over the years. Rather than the conventional New Year Resolutions, I choose to see them as life changes or All Year Resolutions. Whenever I come to the realization that I need to change or improve on any area of my life, or take on something new, I start. I don't put it on a list with twenty-nine other things to start on January first. At every point in time, I am working on a few things and constantly re-evaluating how good I am doing, what I can do to improve my performance and what I have fallen off the wagon with and what I can do to fix it. I'm like an analyst but what I'm analyzing is my life and it is daily, it is constant and if I am falling short, I get back up and start again. What I am not doing however is starting too many things at once, decreasing the chance of me succeeding.

It's like with making a lifestyle change with our nutrition. I always admonish people to pick one thing they can work on and when they have it down, try something else. If you make all your dietary changes in one day, you will most likely fall off the wagon. It can be as simple as stopping carbonated drinks. When you have that down, you can add avoiding fried and fast foods on most days and you can even pick a day of the week when you will eat that one decadent meal, or once a month. I have found that to work better and to last longer than starting ten different dietary changes on one day because you are "going on a diet," a term I almost detest.

So, as we come to the end of the year, instead of pilling up a long list of New Year Resolutions to start on January first, I admonish you to adopt a system to start making those changes now, with now being anytime you come to the realization that change is needed. One or two things at a time, then when you have it down, add another positive change. And it is not too late to adopt this attitude. See how that works for you as you make 2011 your best year yet.

Be thankful for seeing 2010 through. It is a blessing and not to be taken for granted. Commune with your God and step into 2011 with confidence and renewed vigor. May God bless our efforts.

BLESSINGS.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Holiday Season...

It's almost scary to think about for some, isn't it? You remember it's almost Christmas and you shudder. Why is that? Is it because you feel the need to buy present for all the kids in your life and some as well as a host of adults? Is it because there are so many festivities and food starting right about now that you add weight and you are concerned you will slip in your weight loss efforts? Is it because it's cold and dark and that sometimes gets your mood down in the dumps? Or do you have several family birthday in December like me which means your vehicle tag and tax are also up for renewal? Are you feeling blue because you were unable to keep to your new year resolutions at the beginning of 2010 and another year is about to roll in and you feel like a failure?

Whatever might be bothering you, take heart. There is still a light at the end of the tunnel. The rainbow will once again show its face. We need to strategize.

1) Christmas is not about spending money and presents primarily. It's about remembering the birth of Jesus. If you cannot afford expensive or multiple presents as you please, how about making something or offering service to someone as a Christmas present? How about a book? A nice book as a present still shows you care and makes the person feel better about themselves. The ability to make a person feel empowered at the end of the day would be good. How about The Only Way is Up by yours truly? All these issues are actually discussed in this book.

2) Concerning the tendency to overeat, you can resolve right now to be disciplined. If you need to tell yourself "food is the enemy" to make you stop at that sizeable portion, or skip that white bread, then do that. The Only Way is Up also has a chapter on nutrition, exercise, weight and health which chronicles the system that has worked for me and helped to reduce my cholesterol. And I promise it is not any heavy diet plan, it is all just basic principles.

3) If you're down because it's cold and dark a lot around this time of year, you'll need to get comfort from within, from God, and from company. We may not be able to change the season but we can change our reaction to it. Focus on the spirit of Christmas, togetherness, giving including giving of service and be thankful you are alive and for everything that is going well in your life.

4) If your expenses seem like they're coming at you like an airplane about to crash, take a deep breath and just take it one step at a time. Next year, start to plan earlier. Whatever is not a necessity needs to go. Make a list of wants and needs and go with the needs first. You might just find out at the end of the day that everything important has been taken care of and the world did not end because you did not get to the other column on your list.

5) If you missed your mark with New Year resolutions, start now. Don't wait till January 1st 2011 to start going to the gym, start eating healthy, start calling your parents regularly, start respecting your spouse, stop being difficult or argumentative, put more effort into your job, stop telling fibs, start going to church regularly, start volunteering, start paying tithe, stop buying a gazillion shoes in every color, or what have you. Once you identify the need to make that change, go ahead and make it. That way you don't set up January 1st to not have a chance at survival because of the impossible burdens you have put on that one day.

I discuss a lot of these issues in my book and yes, you have the name down by now, The Only Way is Up. And it truly is. It would make a perfect Christmas present for your loved ones. Please visit my website for more information on the book and pick up a discounted copy on amazon.com. The Kindle edition is even less expensive.

Christmas time should be a great time. Make it so. You have the power.


BLESSINGS!


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Should You Ask a Man About His Sexual Orientation? (Book Giveaway opportunity...)

Sounds like a strange topic for a blog post right? Well, not really. The thing is this. I have a whole chapter in my book "The Only Way is Up" about the single life and the search for Mr Right. It's titled "For All My Single Ladies." But I write about so many different things in this book that in the whole year since I released the first edition, I have not gotten to actually breaking down this chapter for the ladies. I need to.

My week started off with a bang on Sunday night, as my second Blog Tour with BooksAnd... took off. I had a great radio interview with Character Corner's Attorneymom, possibly one of my best actually. Monday was great with For Colored Gurls. Then came Tuesday morning and I got one of the most explosive mixed reviews for this book on Reading Has Purpose. Not to bore you, the person's bone of contention was mostly with this chapter for single ladies, especially my comment concerning the issue of sexual orientation (which got me thinking about it), as well as my culture shock chapter. Evidently they have a problem with my delivery. Opinions allowed. Moving right along. It was a fun night on Love Radio with Shivawn Mitchell within a few hours, ending my night with a bang. Today has been just as great with Sol Searching and especially Melissa J Dixon who simply blew me away with her review. Please follow the rest of the tour if you please. I even got Glamazini's review video in advance (another mixed review!) and I'll share it with you before it posts tomorrow. So far, there's been 795 views on youtube!

I digress. So, I thought about it, the issue about sexual orientation and asking a man you are about to get into a relationship with directly about it. And yes, I did advise it in my book and infact, I indeed had this discussion with my husband when I first met him. I came straight out and asked him if he was attracted to men or if he'd ever had a relationship with men. I'm not stupid. I know people lie all the time. But has anyone heard of a group of people who will not lie to you even though they will take advantage of cracks in the wall all day long? And did anyone hear of Dina Matos or Terry McMillan and how these downlow ex-husbands of theirs turned around and said over and over that these women knew they were gay but just ignored it? Can you imagine anything worse happening to you? Not only does he destroy your basic trust in the human race for life and leave you heartbroken, he has also convinced himself that you knew, to free himself of guilt. I know asking will not prevent every case of this but for an inherently honest man, a discussion such as this might make him draw back or even tell the truth if they already harbor an attraction to the same sex. And if they truly thought you were ok with it, then they'll know you're not. It might just help somebody. It was a rule I adopted while I was dating anyway.

Among other things I mentioned is that in the developed world especially, we should conduct background checks on people we have not known for a long time as is often the case. It's easy and inexpensive to do now so why not? Does it hurt anybody? I think not. In the Bible, people married from their hometown so they knew their history. Back home in Nigeria, parents will delve into family history, even if you don't.

I also talk about working on one's self as a woman to get to the point where you are whole and one with God and in a position to be added to someone else, a man. It's 1+1=1 with marriage. Weird math that is. If you are half or a quater, the union will not be whole and may be temporarily or even permanently shaky.

Some of the other important points I harp on are being an individual, self esteem, self worth, confidence, and so much more. I will try to touch on many of the key points I raise in this chapter and the rest of the book over the course of the next few months. I just wanted to give you a teaser. For today, let's just try to share about this sexual orientation thing.

What say you?

(By the way, free copies of "The Only Way is Up" can be won by participating in the Blog Tour, mostly leaving comments or whatever stipulations each blog has put up such as tweeting about it. Get yours! It's FREE.)

BLESSINGS.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Marriage Cheat Sheet

When I bared my heart about the state of marriage in present times on my facebook status update on Tuesday, little did I know that something very good will actually come of it.

Here is where it all started:

"If people don't know the difference between marriage and a relationship without legal or spiritual commitment, they should not get married. Many of the things that make you break up with a person in a relationship happen in marriage too; you just don't break up. You work it out to the best of your ability. There are very few deal breakers in marriage. I know it's hard but you can make it..."

I woke up on Tuesday morning angry at the state of marriage in the world. The previous night, I had watched the Real Housewives of Atlanta AKA RHOA and it had saddened me that despite not knowing the details or knowing for sure that there was any dealbreaker situation going on with Nene Leakes and her husband of thirteen years Greg, everybody essentially felt the best way to support her was to encourage her to move on if it wasn't working. Nobody considered that it could be a passing phase, that they could still see the mountain top once again after the valley, that the fact that you are unhappy now and it is not good now does not mean it can never get back to where it was.

That was why I wrote that update. It has twenty-five comments to date. Some agreed. Some disagreed. I pissed someone off along the way. But what makes it all worth it for me is that last night, I got this message, also on the thread:

"Folake you might not believe this but this thing you started actually saved a three year old marriage yesterday . Both parties read your post and the comments and canceled their divorce case and gave each other a second chance....I pray they get it right this time.....Bless you Sis"

And this morning, I got an inbox message from another person who had copied and pasted my status update and sent it to her friend who was having problems with his seventeen year marriage. He also sent a message back to the friend asking what he could do to make it right with his wife.

This makes me happier than a shopping spree, or dessert, or comfort food or anything you can think of. I decided to make up a marriage cheat sheet, mostly from a woman's point of view but I can assure you men can gain a thing or two from it as well.


Marriage Cheat Sheet

I ask God not only for the gift of forgiveness but of forgetfulness.

I ask God daily what I can do for the greater good of the relationship and not my selfish needs or wants.

I pray for my husband.

I pray for our relationship.

I concentrate on the good in him.

I accept him as him and stop trying to change him.

I understand and accept my imperfections and that he sometimes struggles to deal with me too.

And when I feel I can't go on, I rebuke the devil and affirm God's will for my marriage! I resolve to stay in it.

God has blessed women with a greater ability to keep a relationship healthy by having a gentle spirit and being wise. I am not gentle in behavior, stupid, a pushover or docile.

If I can do it, almost anybody can.

BLESSINGS.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Struggle and the Hustle

While we know struggling and hustling are by no means synonymous, I increasingly see a peculiar lack of drive in people who have never lacked, never wanted.

My question is this: Are we doing a disservice to our kids by providing too much for them? More questions still. By providing all their needs and possibly wants, have we killed their get-up-and-go? What's your take on this, people? How do we strike that balance between providing for them and going overboard to spoiling them. Where do we draw the line between housing a grown child for free without any responsibility required of them and helping out a grown child temporarily that is warranted and sometimes necessary.

I couldn't help noticing on the radio the other day that Gladys Knight and the two radio show hosts all said at some point, their mothers had been on food stamps. Yet on the other hand, there are scores of heirs and heiresses to huge business empires who will never do any more than squander the family resources literally. They feel absolutely no need to be gainfully employed or to learn how to make a living because they are already wealthy without it. And they add a good dose of irresponsible public behavior in the mix as a recipe for disaster.

We know that if God has blessed us to be able to provide well for the little ones he has placed in our care, we cannot then pretend that we do not have. How then do we instill these values in them? How do we work hard and make money to provide comfort for our family and still keep their drive? What kinds of conversation keep them in perspective and focused?
PEACE.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

We are all selling something!

We all have something we are selling, be it goods, services or ideas. Whether or not they translate to actual cash versus popularity or acceptance is irrelevant as that is not always the aim for everybody. But it does not make it any less of a sale. We're all still selling something.

In selling, let us be mindful of other people's space and time even as we pitch "our thing" to them. That's why I love facebook as a social networking and marketing tool. You can post whatever you want on your wall all day long and it will show up on your friends' home pages. Whoever is interested will click on it. An interesting question might spur a discussion. A much needed bit of information might encourage clicks to a link. You might actually make money if someone buys something. You might get a thank you for insightful words shared. And whoever is not interested just keeps it moving. Like we say in Nigeria, "Notin spoil."

Of course we have the inbox messages and depending on how you use it, you could actually get on people's nerves. For those with a fan page to push what they are selling, you can also send updates to fans. That can start to get on people's nerves if they are too frequent. The good thing about it however is that anyone who so pleases can "un-friend" you, if that is a word or choose to no longer be a fan of your page, if they are uncomfortable with the pressure or the frequency of your updates. Or they could simply hide your updates and that way, everybody is happy.

Twitter is even better, for those who can keep up with it. It all happens in real time except someone retweets. You only see tweets so far back. It's all dynamic. Whatever you don't catch when it is happening is gone, except you go search it out by hashtag or on the sender's page.

When you are physically selling to people in their own space, the same rules apply. They have invited or allowed you in out of the goodness of their heart. And the fact that you have brought lunch, a fruit bowl, free samples or other incentive does not negate the fact that you are in their space. Try to be mindful of their space and time or you might lose the privilege of being able to pitch to them, just like on facebook.

Always remember, they don't have to listen to you at all, they don't have to visit your page, they don't have to make that comment, and they don't have to press the like button. It is totally of their free will and you cannot force it. Do not push so hard that they wish they had never let you in.

PEACE.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Half Full or Half Empty

Nigeria turned fifty yesterday. Fifty years since Nigeria got her independence from the British. When I woke up, I chose my facebook status update carefully:

‎"I pledge to Nigeria my country..." Reminiscing as Nigeria clocks 50 today...I am proud of my heritage...

There is no need to lie, even on Nigeria's special day and especially since the next line of the pledge says "to be faithful, loyal and honest."

I saw a lot of different status updates yesterday. There were those like me who were celebrating the heritage like me. Others were celebrating regardless, it was just party time. Others were pointing out the things about Nigeria that have not moved forward or that have frankly speaking regressed and there was no lie in it.

One thing I have learnt in my fourth decade on planet earth is that I can control my perception of any situation. To the best of my ability, I have adopted a "half full" vs "half empty" approach. For me, it's also in line with faith as a Christian. I am not lying to myself, I just choose to focus on the good over the bad. That's especially so on birthdays.

Every country, person and situation has a good side to it if we look closely enough. The same way that your spouse, partner, friend, sibling, parent, boss, co-worker or employee is not perfect but you focus on the good in them so as to be able to continue to relate to them, you can think of Nigeria in those terms. While I cannot glorify the corruption, the senseless killings, the religious and tribal tension and the inequality, on that one day of Nigeria's golden jubilee, surely, I could try not to think of electricity and water just for that one day.

It is not because it does not affect me. When I visit it does. And even when I don't visit, it affects my family and friends and my ability to reach them, my peace of mind about their safety, my ability to have a good night's rest. I heard about the bombing in Abuja yesterday before my family in Nigeria. My parents had no electricity and did not feel up to putting on the generator having recently lost the guard who normally did it so they were not watching TV or surfing the net. They were alerted by a text from me. My brother who was local also had not heard about the unfortunate incident. These type of stories are typical.

But we will continue to press forward. Maybe, just maybe one day, we will truly be proud of Nigeria for so much more than our culture and heritage. Maybe democracy will finally prevail and justice will be served. I have a dream. A dream of the end of tribal and religious wars and a rich, thriving and flourishing Niger-Delta area. Not just for the oil company workers but the Niger-Delta people.

One day....

BLESSINGS.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Temptation vs Sin

I am not one of those who go cuckoo and blame the devil for their shortcomings. I own my stuff, putting it in politically correct terms!

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” –Ephesians 6:12

Eve was tempted.
Job was tried–more like, his faith was at stake.
Jesus the son of God was tempted.
They all got tempted by the devil. Eve succumbed while Job and Jesus didn't. Free will took a different turn in each case and determined their fate and individual outcome.

People are uncomfortable talking about the devil. I wonder why. He exists. He has power but we have more power when we stay focused on Jesus.

While we have free will, the devil does tempt us. So when a person says of a situation "the devil is a liar" they mean the devil has really caused a serious situation this time that somebody possibly succumbed to and not that the devil made them drop their pants or do whatever they did.

We are not living in a bubble, thank you very much. I just had to let that out.

And there you have it. I have exhaled.

BLESSINGS.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sexual Predation

Sadly enough, this is not at all as uncommon as we think, regardless of where we are from and how we were raised. Personally, on doing some introspection this morning, I realized I was also guilty of personal forgetfulness with regard to this. Culturally, a Nigerian female does not talk about molestation or rape or anything like that because like Monica Lewinski, your chances of someone ever marrying you diminish the more you talk.

When I was ten years old, my one legged music teacher used to try and go up my skirt with his hands. I started to wear jeans to my music lessons. Finally, I quit music lessons. I switched to badmington and other stuff instead. My parents were easy. I could quit some things, as long as I wasn't quitting everything! But I never told anyone the specifics. I did hear whispers from other young ladies then but that was all it was. Whispers.

When I was in my late teens or early twenties, my youth pastor under the guise of praying for me tried to get under my skirt and I stayed away from him henceforth. You could never find me alone in a room with him after that and when it all blew up years later, I was not shocked.

In my early twenties or so, a fifty something year old supposedly celebate by choice "uncle" (my father's friend) staying in our house tried to kiss me and I ran. The man had not even brushed his teeth. He used to always hug too long and I had wondered about that.

But I never really made a big deal out of these. Nothing happened to these people to make them pay for it on my account. Of course I know better now. Thankfully, I was strong enough as a person even at age ten that I knew it was wrong and I didn't have to stand for it. It didn't go far enough to scar me for life though it made me angry. But what happened to the people who were not as strong or whose parents would not hear of them quitting music lessons because they just had to see it through? And you can bet if I had some of these experiences as someone who grew up in a two parent stable home with protective parents, worse happened to other people.

When I heard about the allegations against Eddie Long Yesterday, my heart sank and I immediately went into denial mode. Even now, I just hope it isn't true but I want the truth to come out, whatever that is because the truth always sets us free, albeit unpleasant at times.

I had a conversation on facebook with a mentor and she told me how her pastor who she reverred that way is in jail for having sex with a minor. An author friend of mine also wrote a book about breaking free from the effects of sexual molestation in childhood and young adult life and it made me think about things I had locked away that I just shared in this post.

Now that I have a three year old daughter, I cannot imagine what I would do if any male or female tried to molest her. All I can say is, whoever is doing these things needs to be brought to light. But if anybody is making false accusations of this calibre, I also hope it catches up with them. Let us also listen to these kids and pay attention to any changes in them. They need us to protect them.

We will just have to stay tuned. We also need to uphold our leaders in prayer. It is all well and good to point fingers at the Catholic church and pastors when they fall but when was the last time you got on your knees and upheld them in prayer? Rather than talk, I will pray more for pastors and leaders that they do not get so big that they lose sight of what is important and become exactly what they are fighting.

BLESSINGS.

Monday, September 20, 2010

What Kind of Person are You?

While listening to clips of the president's recent speeches on the radio, I heard him say one thing that resonated with me. There are the "Yes we can folk" and there are the "No we can't folk." So, which one are you?

Some may argue that there are the people who are neither, who just don't want to pull their weight, make a difference, have a voice. But I beg to differ. I believe that if you are passive, you are not much different from being part of the opposition. The important thing is that you are not helping. You are a coward.

It brings a passage to mind in the Bible where there is talk of being neither hot nor cold. If I recall correctly, Jesus said of the lukewarm folk that he will spew them out of his mouth. That is because they are essentially of no use since they don't care one way or the other and are neither hot nor cold. They are not useful.

My challenge to you today is this. What kind of person are you? Are you always finding fault or do you come up with solutions? Are you a mover and shaker or do you blend into the scenery? Are you a "Yes we can person" or a "No we can't person" or worse still, lukewarm and confused? What do you stand for? What do you represent? If you represent something, stand up for it, let your voice be heard, let your feelings be known, fight for those who do not have a voice. Be passionate about something. Be about something.

BLESSINGS.

Please come along with me on my blog tour this week, The Only Way is Up blog tour coordinated by Tywebbin Creations. Please click on the Tywebbin link for the blog tour schedule. Today, the host blog is All The Buzz Reviews. A comment would be appreciated.

Friday, August 20, 2010

And the winner is...

After randomly generating a winning name from a free tool online, the winner of A Heart To Mend AKA AHTM is none other than...(drumrolllllll)... Diamondhawk! I will get the ebook across to you ASAP. Please make sure to leave Ms Myne a review on amazon.com. Thank you all for participating. Watch out for more juicy giveaways from this blog.

It looks to me like H may have gotten chucked out by the machine which I unfortunately did not foresee or could do anything about. So, it may be a good idea to leave your real name in the post as entry for a contest if your google screen name is just one letter in the future. I'm just saying. That's all folks. Till next time...TGIF! We wish Ms Myne the best at LABBX tomorrow. May she sell lots of AHTM and may she make fruitful industry contacts...

BLESSINGS!!!

Monday, August 16, 2010

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT/BOOK GIVEAWAY: Myne Whitman, author of "A Heart to Mend"


Myne Whitman is a debut author of a romantic novel set in modern day Nigeria which has been received quite well both in Nigeria and in the United States. Myne is fast becoming a force to reckon with in the literary world. Having recently read A Heart to Mend AKA AHTM, I can see why. It’s an excellent first novel and I can only look forward to more great work from this prolific Nigerian writer.

Myne also runs an award winning personal blog mynewhitmanwrites, among many other projects she has under her wings including writing for bellanaija. This lady definitely wears many hats.

I am honored to be able to host her on my blog for this interview. She has been featured on blogs, magazines, newspapers and more. Everywhere you turn now, it’s Myne! Here is my interview with Myne Whitman.

Please comment on the interview to be entered to win an ebook version of AHTM.

What inspired you to write AHTM, Myne?

I have always been intrigued by the principle of unconditional love. Also, when I started reading the Mills and Boon Romance novels as a young adult, their stories had a big influence on my writing. Now when I decided on full time writing, I went back to that genre. The characters and issues dealt with in A Heart to Mend are from contemporary peoples and the issues that occur in relationships.

How long have you known you wanted to be a writer professionally and nothing else?

I have always known that being a writer was one thing I could do. Since I was very young, I was quite creative. I've been writing, drawing and painting and sketching house and dress designs. Right now, I won't say I'm a professional writer, there is no MFA, degree or writing workshop certificates. I'm just a full time writer. It's something I love doing and a choice I made just last year after I got married and moved to the United States.

How did your pseudonym come about? Why a pseudonym?

I have been using a pseudonym since I completed my first story while in university. It is simply the translation of my real names. When I write, I think in English since that it the language I write in and my pen name flows from that. For me, it is a way of channeling my creativity and retaining my privacy at the same time. I reserve my real name for more official and professional stuff.

Tell us a little bit about how and why you decided to self publish.

Several factors were involved, the major one being that I was now a full time writer. Others included the fact that the world has come to terms with the internet age and self publishing and other less conventional means of getting a book to an audience were beginning to take root. Talk about eBooks, kindles and Nooks and other such technology and I saw that it was worth a try.

Also my blog, Myne Whitman Writes (which recently won several awards including Blog of the Year at the Nigerian Blog Awards) had such a loyal following that I wanted to give them a chance to read the story. Most of them had been following it on my blog and were very supportive. The experience so far has been worth it. I am so amazed by the people who have accessed and read the book and the fact that they all seemed to come away with something even issues I had not really focused on.

What was your writing process? Did you have an outline? Did you have a skeletal/short story first or did you just write without knowing exactly what would happen next, allowing the story to take on a life of its own?

My writing process is pretty basic. Once I have my laptop, I’m good to go. I usually blog a bit before I start writing, something about reading all that different styles and stories. Sometimes I also like to listen to slow ballads while I write some emotional or love scenes. I am usually a plotter. I try to have an outline of all the chapters to include in a manuscript, but after that, it’s freewheeling all the way for the scenes or what could happen.

The inspiration for my writing and characters come from all over. I might have this idea and then see how it is handled in this TV series or movie or something. Or I have this character running around in my mind and then I come across the perfect scenario to try her out in. Then at times, I have these very funny dreams, where I dream up whole stories or at least scenes and even character backgrounds.

Did you intend for it to be purely entertainment or did you have a message in there especially for young ladies looking for love?

I usually leave my readers to deduce the themes in my stories. The only overarching message is that love can make a way if you allow it and that romance is not dead. It's the basic premise for romance novels. But in telling it and through the characters, I try to weave in topical issues that are valid for everyday life.

We haven’t had a romance novel based in Nigeria in a long time though we have had several contemporary literature pieces. How did you decide to write one?

First and foremost I wanted to write a story of love and finding oneself. Deciding to write a romance was from my own experience as a reader. I read widely but while literature pieces have to have a story to hook me, I will give any popular fiction a chance. I also felt that there were not enough romance novels set in contemporary Nigeria, and that I could do something to change that. Therefore, I used the events or stories I’ve heard or read about in real life Nigeria of the last few years to create a lot of these themes in A Heart to Mend.

Did you believe some may perceive it as wrong or alien to our culture to vividly paint a certain picture of love and romance?

Some reviews have already pointed that out but most agree that love and romance are age old topics and there will always be stories about human relationships. A few fellow writers asked if I was not boxing myself in yet I remember that in the seventies, eighties and nineties, there were lots of Pacesetter novels whose stories were based on love and romance.

How has AHTM been received? Has there been any opposition so far or has it been love and acceptance all the way?

I think A Heart to mend is a niche book. Most people outside this romance niche may not have heard of it. Those in the niche, cannot help but love it. There has been no opposition but critiques have been pouring in. People are eager for the next book, at the same time, they want a better product. It could be typos, writing style, or general content. I actually look forward to such feedback.

Have you ever written a love scene and if not, would you be comfortable writing a love scene even though it may be frowned on by our culture? Are you willing to push to envelope?

A Heart to Mend contained several love scenes. A reader actually complained that she wanted the characters to have sex which did not happen, lol. I won't say I'm pushing any envelopes by writing about lovemaking or sex. This is what we do everyday in our lives and Africa is one of the most populous continents. In my WIP, there is actually even more scenes like that and the excerpts I post on my blog are causing a furore already.

How easy was it for you to make your setting Nigeria, since you no longer reside in Nigeria? Did you have to travel back home to refresh your memory?

It wasn't too hard since I haven't been out of the country for too long, barely four years. However, Google maps and images played a great role. For instance, I never lived in Lagos where AHTM is set, only visited but when you plug the street you want on Google, you see the houses and neighbourhood. Google Earth is amazing and on slow days, I visit my old place in Scotland and drive by my favorite haunts. I can't wait for street view to be deployed in Nigeria too, right now I only have satellite view.

AHTM is fiction and romance. What else do you write?

I write short stories that pass more for literature pieces and I also write poems and articles/ opinion pieces.

Are you working on any new project at present and is it similar to AHTM or different?

I have my work in progress, also a romantic suspense novel which I hope to complete by the end of fall. The working title is Ghost of the past. In GOTP, Efe is a young girl who is separated from Kevwe, her former fiancé, by a series of traumatic events, and now wants the past resolved before she can accept his love again.

What’s next for Myne Whitman?

I look forward to telling more stories, publishing more books, and doing more for the Nigerian writing community through my website http://www.naijastories.com/.

Thanks for granting the interview which incidentally is my first blog interview/author spotlight. Where can we find you online or otherwise Myne?


My email is myne@mynewhitman.com . I blog at mynewhitmanwrites.com and on Facebook and Twitter, I'm /Myne.Whitman and @Myne_Whitman respectively. I will be in Los Angeles this weekend at the LABBX.


***Please remember to comment on the interview to be eligible to win an ebook version of AHTM.***

Ground Zero Mosque

I have tried to stay away from controversial issues mostly since the last presidential elections. I have instead focused on fostering peace. I have not detracted from that and I hope at the end of this post, nobody is angered but rather enlightened. Once again, the world would be a much better and peaceful place if we would put ourselved in other people's shoes. And that's everybody.

All over the news this morning there's an outcry against the strong push to build a mosque near Ground Zero. And with good reason too. But have you considered the other side to the story?

A little personal background here: If you google Jos killings, you will see just how many thousands of Christian men, women and children have been killed by Moslem extremists in Nigeria in recent months. I have every right to feel even worse than any American about Islam. (If you are up to it, please click here for gruesome pictures of Jos killings in Nigeria. Be warned: there are dead bodies and mass graves in the pictures!)


As someone who grew up in a country where Christians have always been and are still being killed off like chickens by Moslem activists, I could easily take the stance of detesting all moslems. But I don't. Why is that? Because every Moslem is not deranged and crazy or fundamentalist. There are very good Moslems that make me want to be a better me. They pray five times a day despite all ridicule about the routine and as much as it is frowned upon by non-moslems. There are days I don't even get a chance to pray before I leave the house because I woke up late and I have to catch up with my quiet time later in the day. Some Moslems dress differently and have to endure stares all day every day. Could I do that? I don't know. I haven't tried.
 
I do agree that President Obama's two comments would have sounded better if it came in the same speech after he had thought it through and not as an addendum. But he is still not wrong. America was built on the premise of freedom (the land of the free) and the respect of fundamental human rights. It would actually be unconstitutional to tell the Moslems they cannot build that mosque. It is truly not against the law for them to build it on private property anywhere in the United States. But like he alluded to, the wisdom in that is a different story and is questionable. I don't want his job. It is hard to be president of everybody and to represent everybody's fundamental human right despiteand regardless of his personal opinion. It is hard.
 
That being said, is it expedient to build this mosque at that location? NO. Is it sensitive? NO. Will it foster peace? NO. I believe that not all things we want to do will foster peace in the community and it would be an insensitive move, albeit not against the law to go ahead with this mosque given the background of 911 and Islamic terrorists. It would be nice if we all thought it through, first.
 
Can we all just get along please? And can we first put ourselves in other people's shoes? That way, the people with the outcry will be more sensitive to the Moslem religion and respectful of our individual differences just like those with the proposal to build will also be more sensitive to the general climate in America about their religion. I hope both partis can have a conversation and resolve this.
 
It's like having a family member who is grown, an adult who keeps bringing shame to the family. You cannot control them. You cannot disown them. And even if you did, it wouldn't change much. You may even have the same last name. Yet you and this person are like night and day. Would it be right for people to assume you are the same as this family member just because there is a relationship with them that you did not ask for and you cannot change? No. We are all individuals and ultimately only responsible for ourselves and our underage kids. Even Lawrence Fishburne at this point can't do much about aspiring porn star Montana Fishburne even if he cries himself to sleep every night. Grow up people. These are the grays. It is definitely not a black and white issue.
 
Once again, can we judge less, talk less, listen more and most importantly, can we all just get along?
 
PEACE. And not only in the Middle East this time (though that's needed too) but in America!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

You Get What You Ask For...You Reap What You Sow...

This message came to mind at least twice in the same day so I had no choice but to write a post about it. As I drove home from work the other day, I listened to an interview on the Michael Baisden Show featuring the Singer Estelle from the UK. What struck me outside of the updates on her recent work, collaborations etc was when she mentioned that she had been at this for ten years. I thought about it and I probably heard about her two years ago. Granted that I am not the prolific music lover but still, it proved one thing to me yet again. It takes time to build a brand but if you stick with it, perfect it and put your all into it, you'll get there.

I have heard many authors say they've been at it for six years, ten years and such and I've just now heard about them or read one of their book. Some have said to me that they have written ten books and I just now picked up book number ten.

The problem is that we often want it now but we don't want to put in what it takes to get it. People like Beyonce have put in a lifetime of effort and discipline from her whole family and not just her. Fame and success do not come easy.

I have been doing some interviews recently on websites, blogs, etc. As I thought about some of them today, one thing struck me. The difference between a good or an excellent or even a possibly mediocre interview does not only depend on me, it also depends on the interviewer. There are interviews where no matter how hard I tried to make it fun, because of the way the questions were asked, it could never sound quite as interesting as I would like if I was to not go off on a tangent! On the other hand, some inetrviewers were so good or so in tune with me and my message that it had no choice but to come across as a great interview, even with little effort on my part and just being myself.

Everything in this world has a cause and effect. You get what you ask for and you reap what you sow. If you put no effort in, there is very little likelihood of success. We need to pay our dues and all else hopefully will follow as God blesses out effort. Flukes do happen but how often? Do you really want to leave it up to a very slim chance? I think not. And even though hard work does not always give the desired result, it definitely feels better to have put your whole heart in it as opposed to never trying and never getting a chance to see if it may have worked.

This can be applied to everything in life: your job, relationships, marriage, food, construction, etc. Name it, it applies.

May God help us to have the patience and the wisdom to pay our dues so that when the time is right, we will reap what we sowed.

BLESSINGS.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

“It’s a Privilege, Not a Right!”...Yes, you…I’m Talking to You!

While away on a mini vacation recently with my family, I had cause to try to teach a two year old the difference between a privilege and right. Early? Probably. But hopefully if I repeat it enough times, it will start to stick at some point :)

We decided to get a car rental to make our stay out of town more palatable and to facilitate transportation, to state the obvious. Of course, if I were to look around the parking lot of the car rental company and I was told to pick any vehicle and it was gratis, I would probably go with the fully loaded Cadillac escalade. But we all know it doesn’t work that way when you’re paying for stuff! So we went with a sedan–one that was big enough for us (my family of three) and all of our luggage, at the barest minimum. And yes, I am a packer! The package obviously did not include a DVD player or a GPS system. We had other means of finding our way that was free and that worked just fine.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with the Escalade. We would have had a blast in it. But it wasn’t pragmatic, essential, necessary, practical and may I add affordable to that list of descriptive terms?

My toddler was very good for the first three days. On day four she casually asked as we drove away from the hotel if she could watch TV and I’m not even sure what my answer was at that point. I thought she was kidding right? Right!

Much later in the day she asked a little more emphatically this time.

“I want to watch TV,” she said to me in a slightly low tone, while smiling cheekily but almost as if she was thinking, It won’t hurt to ask.

“You know there’s no DVD in this car baby,” I answered smiling as well but my tone sounding like You’ve got to be kidding me right?

She then said to me, “Why not?”

“We might need to ask the manufacturer about that one honey! Why didn’t they install a DVD player when they made this car?’”

“We need to have TV.” That was my little munchkin still on the same issue, after attempting to digest my answer.

At this point I take on the attitude of Oh no she didn’t. “We don’t NEED to have anything honey. We don’t need to have DVD in mama’s truck back home. We don’t even need to have a truck…or a car. We need to be thankful for whatever we have my dear.”

Thankfully, she looked quite satisfied with my explanation and we went on about the rest of our day quite satisfactorily.

Then I thought to myself, It’s a privilege and not a right. And at that point it was a learning point even for me, probably more so than my little mama. It’s just one of those things we need to remind ourselves of every so often, so as not to lose sight of what’s really important such as life, love, family and friendships.

Every now and again, we need to remind ourselves to be thankful for everything we have because if we didn’t have them, we’d still be alive, and it’s a blessing that we do have them. It’s a privilege, not a right.

BLESSINGS my people!















Little J doing her favorite thing in the back of mama's truck: watching a Leapfrog DVD!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

To my Friends and Colleagues in the Medical Field...

Whether you are completing residency or fellowship today, moving from one year to the next, changing jobs or moving from one phase in life to the other, I send the Irish Blessing your way:



May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.


May God be with you and bless you:
May you see your children's children.
May you be poor in misfortune,
Rich in blessings.
May you know nothing but happiness
From this day forward.


May the road rise up to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the warm rays of sun fall upon your home
And may the hand of a friend always be near.


May green be the grass you walk on,
May blue be the skies above you,
May pure be the joys that surround you,
May true be the hearts that love you.


AMEN.


I remember this day in 2006. It was a very special day and it is still a landmark for me each year I am further away from that day. Of course it is also a reminder that I am only 6 years away from needing board recertification and just a short while back, it was 10 years away.

I am thankful to God for what growth has taken place in this timeframe in different facets of my life and in your lives as well.

Let us celebrate this moment, use our time wisely as we step forward into new things. I salute you for your effort. Our profession is not one for the faint at heart. Kudos and keep pressing forward. Blessings.

PEACE.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

I am NOT My Face!

One would think that in the year 2010, men would somehow start to possibly understand that the most insulting thing to most women is to be treated like a piece of meat or a commodity. You see a handbag on the shelf and you like it-visual. You see a cute pair of sandals and want it-visual. You can see me and like how I look but you cannot love me and want to marry me just by seeing my facebook headshot. Common dude! You are not even on my facebook page to see pictures of the whole of me or to get an insight into what goes on in my head by being part of a conversation or something. When you proclaim your love for me just based on my face, that is about as bad as shooting yourself in the foot. Do you even know what the word "love" means? Now the fact that I am married with a child is just an added reason why you should really know a little more about who you're sending stupid and senseless inbox messages to.

Here's the message I got in my inbox yesterday. To protect the sorry brother, I will take out any information that might identify him:

The subject line read verbatim "i love you i want to married you kindly called on me 0**2546436**5"

The body of the email read "Love, like a river, will cut a new path whenever it meets an obstacle."

I of course found it very hilarious and put that as my status update the same way I have done here of course protecting the man's identity. In the meantime, I reported the message evidently. The attempt at poetry would have been cute if I knew him and was single. The grammar would still kill me though!

I then got a lot of responses on my page about this. Unbeknown to me, I had another sorry brother like this one also as a facebook friend. Unfortunately, after I became an author, I had to let down my guard about accepting people as facebook friends on my personal page because I realized many fans of my work wanted more interraction than is possible on a fan page alone. This brother said and I quote:

"Why are U treating this guy like a criminal by disparaging him on FB. There is no harm in a man telling U that he loves her. All U have to do is to say ' Thank U'. It is unfair for U to make him an object of ridicule on FB. What U have done may backfire as most men may view U as a loud woman. Only GOD knows where U gonna find your husband. This is one of the reasons why some women stay beyond 40 before finding a man."

Birds of a feather evidently! Before I got to facebook this morning, my friends had blasted him and told him I was happily married and settled. Do people even care to check? My husband's profile is linked to mine on facebook! That was done on purpose. I promptly responded and told him I'd wait till he read my response before I deleted him. Then he responded as such again:

"All human beings are wired differently. Our views and opinion can never be the same. Some people including you may see stupidity in what the guy has done while others like me may view it differently. This guy has exhibited anti social behaviour at which your response would have be...Thank U ...and move on. Every man has the GOD given right to propose to any woman and the fact that you disagree with his manner of approach is not enough for you to take him to Golghutta. l am happily married with children and l am not looking for but when a young woman goofed, l will do my best to correct her bcos "Agba kiiwa loja , ki ori omo tuntun wo", says a yoruba axiom. If U still wanna delete me from your FB, pls go ahead."

Talk of chauvinistic and narrow-minded. Since when does every man have a God-given right to propose to any woman? What an insult. He even called me loud. Social networking is part of an author's job. That's especially so for a non-fiction author. I need to be loud to encourage dialogue. I need to be loud to garner and reach my audience. I need to be loud to encourage laughs. And if it ain't funny to you, keep it moving. Thank him for what? Thank him for looking at me like a piece of meat? I am so much more than just my face. I deleted this brother also and blocked him thereafter. I can so do without this negativity and insult to women as a whole.

I do have a sense of humor and all this is really hilarious but I will also not be insulted. I get inbox messages all the time saying I'm pretty or whatever compliment and I do respond with a thank you and remind the men that I am married with a child and my husband can find them! And they act accordingly and everybody's happy thereafter.

Needless to say, there are a lot of freaks and psychos out there. There are probably even more you will encounter on facebook than in real life because on facebook, they can hide for a period.

Women are not a piece of commodity. We have personalities, we have brains and we are so much more than what we look like on the outside alone. If you're a man and you're yet to understand this, please do now. Women are NOT a piece of meat!

Like India Arie said,
I am not my hair
I am not this skin
I am not your expectation no no
I am not my hair
I am not this skin
I am a soul that lives within...

Get it right brothers

PEACE...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Daddies!

Maybe I have amnesia but I cannot recall Father's Day in recent years being so filled with negativity toward men. It is a day to celebrate the fathers who are truly daddies and appreciate them. It is not a day to devote to magnifying the fathers who are not real daddies. I will be the first to say that my status update on my personal page on facebook yesterday addressed both issues and I even surprised myself. It read as follows:

Happy Father's Day to all the fathers out there who play the role of daddy and make it happen for their families on a daily basis. We don't have enough of that endangered specie nowadays. For those who need to make amends, it is not too late to start. Get going!

I can't recall that ever being my focus on father's day. My focus had shifted and I didn't even realize it. And that was before I got a chance to log on for any appreciable length of time after church and actually view other folks' status updates. There were so many updates that were saying happy father's day to the single mothers and such that it made me sad and it made me think. There is a shift in our thinking because of just how bad the absence of fathers has become, especially in the African American society. I have said it before and will say it again, 70% of African American homes are single parent homes. And we know that mostly refers to homes headed by women and not the few that are the exception. That is a topic for another day but I had to throw it in there.

So, let us never forget to acknowledge and celebrate the fathers who are real daddies to their kids, whether theirs biologically or not. We appreciate the fathers who feed their kids, bathe their kids, read them bedtime stories, teach them how to ride a bike and take them to the grocery store. We say thank you to the fathers who pay the bills, who work hard every day to put a roof over their families and clothes on their bodies. We say kudos to these rare men, an endangered species and I pray that somehow in my lifetime, we will be able to turn it around so that once again, we will have a preponderance of two parent families raising balanced kids to the best of their ability; that once again, we will have the respect for men that God intended even as it says in the Bible that the man is the head of the home. May these men truly be worthy of this title. May it be easy for their women to view them as such because they have earned it.

That is my wish
That is my prayer
That in my lifetime
Things will turn around.

Hmmmmm....................

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Power of the Spoken Word

Yes. There is power in the spoken word. There is power in anything that comes out of my mouth. This is not a new lesson I am learning. My mama taught me a very long time ago not to joke about things I don't mean. And I admit I thought she was stiff anytime she said that. But as I became a woman, I realized she was right. That still does not mean I don't need to sometimes be reminded of this golden rule however.

Two days ago, this was my status update on my facebook personal page as Memorial Day drew to an end:

"Can I have just one more day off please?"

Harmless enough, right? NOT!

The next morning, I had to rectify that and put a learning point from the ensuing experience. This was my next status update:

"Be careful what you ask for! That fallen angel is always hovering around trying to make things happen that you didn't even mean when you said it. Your words have power. Good morning fb. Make it a great day..."

To protect the innocent, I won't bore you with the details. It will suffice to say I did get that extra day off alright that I was jokingly asking for. But it was not the way I wanted. Nor was it spent doing what I wanted. It was an experience I could have done quite well without. To the question "why", I couldn't help but feel like there was a voice in my spirit saying to me: "You got what you asked for." I sure did.

Could it have been a coincidence? Yes. But could I not have joked about something I didn't really mean? Yes as well.

1 Peter 5:8 says:

"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour..."

Sorry but I love my Old King James best still. That's how I learnt it way back then!

Take heed my brothers and sisters. The spoken word has more power than we give it credit for. The devil can latch unto your own words and make things happen you never meant to happen, from things you thought you were joking about. Let us say what we mean and mean what we say.

BE BLESSED.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Two Decades Ago....

How many of us can remember exactly who we were fifteen or twenty years ago? I guess the more appropriate question would be "How many of us can relate to who we were fifteen or twenty years ago?" I'd like to think that even if we could remember, it would be hard for us to relate! That of course is a sign of personal growth.

There are very few people who are not much different from who they were back then. I say very few because we have the select minority of people who have always had their life together and made all the right decisions, right? Just a select few however. Hahaha. I can truthfully tell you I wasn't one of those. But I am grateful to God for how far he has brought me.

Unfortunately, some people really do look at you and see who you were twenty years ago. That's not only hilarious, it is stupid. And it really just proves those people who are comfortably stuck in the past like that are the ones that have not grown at all.

One of my friends, Pastor Flo, had a status update to that effect a few days ago on facebook. It essentially stated that if your memories are bigger than your dream, its a disaster. It was a quote by Jesse Dup. It was like he took the words right out of my mouth as I had intended to write a short note about this and just had not gotten around to it.

My wish for all of us is that our dreams and our destination are so much bigger than anywhere we've been that our memories though important are only a small fraction of what takes up our day. If our current situation and our dreams and aspirations remain big, we will not have the time to dwell so much on memories, especially negative ones.

Keep looking forward. Keep marching forward.

PEACE!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Winner of the 500 UPrinting.com Business cards Giveaway!

And the winner is...(drumrollllllll)...Tiffany Eskew! And me of course. We both get 500 business cards from UPrinting.com absolutely free; 2-sided gloss, full color, free shipping with a 3 days turnaround. Now, where can you beat that?

Enjoy your weekend y'all and please be on the lookout for more giveaways. It's for real.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mother's Day!

Mothers are amazing. Mothers wipe snort, cry with you, laugh with you, bail you out of trouble, love you, care for you, keep the family together, protect you and so much more.

Mother's day is the preferred spelling, so it will be personal for each family and not a collective term for all mothers. This is according to Wikipedia.

In the UK and Nigeria, Mother's Day was in March and is also sometimes called Mothering Sunday. In the US, it is this Sunday, May 9th 2010. This coincides with the second Sunday in May.

Many mothers hope to be celebrated on that day. Expectations are sometimes high. Some mothers may dream of a day free of childcare where they get to have dinner at a restaurant such as the rotating Sundial in Atlanta. Some just want to spent it with their kids and be appreciated and told how much they are loved. Some wish for designer bags from their husbands. Some would settle for a nice home-cooked meal but cooked by someone other than them. And some want to go to Dubai for the weekend (hint, hint)! Unfortunately, many mothers will not get what they hope for on that day.

Let us celebrate us, whichever way it comes to us. Being a mother is a wonderful thing. Let us appreciate ourselves. Let us pray for those who have not yet had the opportunity to be mothers but would love to be. Let us pray for the mothers who are not such great mothers, that God will touch their heart and heal them of drug addiction or whatever may be plaguing them, so they can truly be connected to their kids and enjoy the joys of motherhood.

If Sunday comes and it does not unfold like it did in your dreams, be thankful anyway. Be thankful for life, for love and for the kids God has blessed you with or that are on the way!

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!







Friday, May 7, 2010

UPrinting.com Business Cards Giveaway

We are having a Business Cards Giveaway sponsored by UPrinting.com. I will be awarded the same prize as the winner of the Giveaway!



GIVEAWAY PRIZE:

500 Business Cards for One (1) Winner
Sizes: 2 x 3.5”, 2 x 3”, 2 x 2” (square card) or 1.5 x 3.5” (slim card)
Paper: 14 pt gloss cardstock, 14 pt matte cardstock or 13 pt recycled uncoated cardstock
Specifications: Full Color Both Sides; Offset Press; 3 Business Day Printing
Shipping: FREE UPS Ground Shipping
Eligibility: Limited to US Residents only
 
 
GIVEAWAY RULES:
The Giveaway Prize will be awarded to the person who answers the most questions correctly in the next 1 week about The Only Way is Up and the author Folake Taylor between now and May 13th 2010. Prize will be awarded May 15th 2010.
 
A question will be added to this post everyday. If there is a tie at the end of the period, there will be a tie-braker question. Thank you in advance for participating.
 
THANK YOU UPRINTING.COM for this Giveaway!
 
 
Day 1 Question: What is the number of pages in the print version of the revised edition of The Only Way is Up?
Day 2 Question: What is the cost price of the Kindle version of The Only Way is Up?
Day 3 Question: What USA metropolis do I reside in?
Day 4 Question: What is my profession; my day job?
Day 5 Question: What is the cost price of the print version of The Only Way is Up?
Day 6 Question: When was the first edition of The Only way is Up published?
Day 7 Question: When was the second edition of The Only Way is Up published?
 
HINT HINT...answers on amazon.com or http://www.theonlywayisup.net/

**Please answer the question on the blog itself. If you are viewing this on facebook, you can click on "View Original Post" at the bottom of the post. Remember, if you are anonymous, I cannot locate you for the prize if you don't add your email address in your response!**

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Friendship Revisited: Taking Stock!

DISCLAIMER: This is not pertaining to any particular human being. It is an overview people...

Let me start by saying friendship is a very beautiful thing. For people like me who have no blood sister, great friends become like sisters to me, or even brothers. Friends make you laugh and friends make you smile. Friends love you for you and friends make you feel good about yourself. Friends do not expect you to be perfect and friends will fight for you and on your behalf. Friends keep you company and friends always show up. Friends forgive wrong and friends help you be a better person. Those are just a few of the great things I think of when I think of true friendship.

But we sometimes overuse the term friendship. Nobody wants to say someone is an acquaintance so we call them friends. Nobody wants to accept that even though someone was a very good friend at some point, the relationship has changed somewhat for whatever reason. And nobody wants to say someone is a co-worker or really the friend of a friend. We instead label them friends too. If we start by re-organizing our labels, it may help make our expectations more realistic and how much of ourselves we divulge to avoid future hurt.

Some people are in your life for a REASON, some for a SEASON and some for a LIFETIME. It helps me keep things in perspective when I remind myself of this saying. When friendship does unfortunately go wrong, realization of this fact helps us understand that it is not abnormal that this can sometimes happen. And it's alright to let it go as long as you don't become evil in the process and do things you'll need to be sorry for, both to the person and to God. "Be angry but do not sin; Do not let the sun go down on your anger..." Ephesians 4:26. It truly is easier said than done however but we should try and keep things in perspective even if there is an arguement and not just a drifting apart.

Recently I had to take stock of friendship on the whole, emotionally and socially. As we grow older, we continue to learn. It's a dynamic process. It's a daily process. And we should also open ourselves up to change. If a new situation or challenge presents itself, go with the flow; get with the program to fix it or adjust to the change depending on what the situation demands. Also, learn from it. In addition to the following pearls I came up with while taking stock, less talking is always a winner! When there is strife, stop engaging the person in conversation, period. Who knows what could happen if you don't stop talking?

1) As you grow, everyone in your life is not going to grow with you or in the same direction so you may automatically grow apart. It's much like some marriages unfortunately. If you don't pay attention to the warning signs, it may shock you when it blows up but hey, "It is what it is!"

2) As God elevates you, some of the people you always thought you could count on will shock you by turning their back on you. They may not know how to get you out of the little box they've always had you in mentally! Then they'll convince themselves you are fake or misrepresenting yourself rather than realize they hadn't been paying attention. It could be various reasons. They may just not agree with your apparently new visions or philosophy. They may be envious of your success and cannot adjust to you not being the underdog in their mind. They may misunderstand you. They may feel insecure. They may think they know you so well and be stuck in twenty years ago instead of rediscovering you as you have rediscovered yourself. Every situation is not the same and it's not every situation that can be fixed. It may just be time to move on.

3) You should actively pick your friends and not passively let friendships happen. Much the same as a lady would process dating prospects in her mind and have a written or unwritten criteria, one should have one for friends too. Though sentimentally one wants to stay friends with childhood or long-term friends, the reality of it is if you are not in the same place, space and time anymore, you may need to redefine the relationship, keep a comfortable distance or even weed some bad eggs out.

4) You should not befriend everyone who tries to befriend you because it can come back to bite you in the rare! I have a good and a bad habit with regard to how I make friends. The good part is that I am careful and slow to make friends and I don't make too many friends because of a morbid and real fear of hurt based on past experiences. I get me; I am unique but some other do not get me and instead may think I'm weird. That's fine but they shouldn't be my friends if that's what they think of me! I cherish friendship; I think it is sacred and special and I consider my few core friends my sisters for reasons previously mentioned. I don't take it lightly. The bad habit on the contrary concerning how I make friends is that when someone actively tries to befriend me, I am not as careful. I let their apparent niceness cloud my judgment instead of making sure we have the same value system and enough of our core in common. It's those issues that usually come back and bite me in the rare unfortunately. My university days were a period in which I made a lot of friends because they chose me and not because I necessarily chose them and I'm still getting fall-outs from it unfortunately.

5) Get rid of dead weight in your life. When people who have whole converstaions with you that leave you feeling sour, empty or drained because it was all about strife with someone or the other and proving how tough and difficult they are; or a lot of negativity always ensues, maybe even gossip, they are not the best for you. People who do almost all the talking, never listen and keep jumping from one topic to the other should make you uncomfortable. If this kind of energy dominates the conversations or most of the picture, and it bothers you or it interferes with where you are in your life, you don't need it. It may be wise to put some distance to the relationship or just nicely let the person know you don't really want to talk about those things. That's easier said than done however, especially if you unfortunately get drawn into the negativity of the moment yourself. That little bit of honesty may just trigger them to get nasty too so that may not always work.

6) Unless you are loud and verbally abusive yourself, do not make friends with such women (I say that because mostly women get that way or at least we hope!). It's only a matter of time, they will do it to you too. When it happens, you will feel like you're in a movie or a freak show. I promise you. And you will have to check yourself and your ability to judge character and all that. But don't be too hard on yourself. People do change and they may not be the same person they were years ago anymore and not in a good way. Or they may have just refused to grow and it's getting quite old staying in high school mode. Vindictive, unforgiving people need to be avoided. They always cause trouble.

7) Join yourself to people who have substance, depth and are bearing fruit and not people who constantly engage in strife, put people down, are prideful and feel they are better than others and just generally make too much noise. Empty barrels? In Nigeria the saying goes: "Empty barrels make the most noise." Here's what I say to that: "If you do not bare fruit, I will spew you out of my mouth!"

8) You should let impossible people have the last word so you don't start to look like them yourself. Instead of responding like this when they call you names or go off on you:

"You coniving vicious little two-faced *%$#^!" (a quote from some place I can't remember!)

You can respond like this instead:

"God bless you too!"

(In your mind better still so as not to elicit a response because you know they won't leave it down. They have to respond. That would be a WWJD (What would Jesus do) answer. Jesus does not like ugly so rather than be ugly, keep it moving.) Note that people will say anything to you to hurt you and make themselves feel better. It's ok. They expect a comeback and they feel stupid when you are instead silent. Abrasive confrontational behavior is unbecoming of grown folk. Do not be caught up in it. Respect yourself.

9) Get far away from people who are verbally abusive on facebook; people who literally explode if your view differs from theirs! They are unstable people and will ultimately make you a target someday. Some people do not have a frank psychiatric disorder but they may have Borderline Personality Disorder (an actualy medical diagnosis) that causes them to split and see people as all good or all bad at different times with extreme reactions either way. I can't be your hero this week and villain the next. I'd rather just be me. (Borderline personality disorder (DSM-IV code 301.83): extreme "black and white" thinking, instability in relationships, self-image, identity and behavior.)

10) Re-evaluate friendships and relationships. If you haven't physically seen or been around someone in a long time, do not ignore subtleties in conversations that you pick up on and question transiently. That may just be the key that you are on different wavelengths. For example, it may even be an obvious reference to something or several things that show they have no idea who you are presently or what you stand for. Maybe they never even took the time to understand you. That is unhealthy.

11) Nobody is all good or all bad. Do not be sucked into that need to be right or let hatred germinate and grow in your heart. Attribute it to ignorance on their part. The fact that you no longer get along with them does not make them bad; just not a right fit for you. You can even remind yourself of some of their good qualities if it helps you keep your perspective. They hopefully have some good qualities. It's ok to be the bigger person.

12) Beware of people who think they are doing you a favor being your friend or the friendship is based on some kind of pity, the word think being the operative term here. It's their perception that makes the difference. It is not wrong to have friends who have more than you. Economic advantage never makes another person better than you however. It is always hard for such people to adjust to not seeing you as that needy person they perceived you as, even though you may never have been needy in that sense of it; it may just have been where you were in your life then. It usually ends badly though. Pay attention.

13) Do make sure you learn from every situation. That's what life experiences are. Whatever the lesson is in each situation, you need to get to a place where you get that lesson from it. Apparent disappointments
initially will turn out to be major blessings. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Would you really not have wanted to know if that person thought all those awful things about you but pretended to be your friend all this while? The truth sets us free. Nobody needs a friend in their life who does not think the world of them. Seriously! Life is too short.

14) Remember it is never about the quantity of friends one amasses. It's always about the quality of them. If you have 2 friends and they are like sisters and tried and true, that will do you more good than fifty back-biting, roudy, superficial, materilistic, 2-faced friends anyday!

15) Forgive. Pure and simple. If you don't forgive, you're not any better than the other person. WWJD?


Most importantly, love yourself and be comfortable with yourself because you spend the most time with you! So people, your friendship is sacred, it is special, it should not be given or taken lightly! Let's try to remember that. Friendship is a wonderful thing but when it becomes stressful and high maintenance for you psychologically, it may be time to move on. Unlike marriage, there is no vow or covenant that it must work. It may be better for it not to work...

**I in no way subscribe to malice. You need to make sure the soon to be ex-friend knows you wish them well and God's blessing's still, regardless.**


Like cousin Barack, negativity just has to roll off of me like a bad thing!

1 Thessalonians 4: 11
"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you..."

Who knew that was in the bible? Ha. Channel your energy elsewhere when it gets confrontational. I write and it's therapeutic! Volunteering is always very rewarding as well. Or just work hard too. Lol. I try to do that as well.

Hebrews 12: 1
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."

"I do not have a single day of my life to waste on your baggage."
Pastor David Cooper Mt Paran Church Atlanta GA. That should be your attitude to naysayers.

Yes, so let us concentrate on the friends that understand us, love us and accept us for exactly who we are even as we grow and let the rest of it go. Let us concentrate on what is important and leave the rest to sort themselves out. Biko!

PEACE...



Folake, forever keeping it real.