Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Can You Help Someone Through Something You Have Not Experienced? Can You Help Change The World Regardless?

This issue came up recently while reading through my first non-favorable review so far for The Only Way is Up. While I can take criticism and I am well aware that reviewers are human and we all have diverse opinions, I could not help but feel like I was being told I could not help people live better lives because I was not born poor and impoverished; my story/message is possibly not relevant because it is not a rags to riches story. That could not be farther from the truth. It's like saying Sanaa Lathan has not had any real challenges in her acting career or her life because she was born into the industry and she went to Harvard. I bet she would probably prove otherwise if you cared to listen. I didn't just compare myself to the beautiful Sanna Lathan...just an analogy...Funny!

This is one of the issues I definitely was aware of taking on this project and I actually alluded to it in my introduction. My standpoint has always been that even though I do not have an example of being sexually abused or raped in childhood by my family members or otherwise, I do not have friends who have been locked up for years and years and neither do I have friends that were killed in their teens at a train station or from gang violence, I can still make an impact in this world and be there for those who are dealing with those problems. I am not stereotyping here or saying such could not happen in Nigeria. It is just not as widespread as in the US. (These of course do happen almost as much in the UK also being a developed country with much of the same problems leading up to this trend.) I also know people who grew up in the US exactly like I did with stability and love at home and the provision of basic needs. I watch TV and listen to the radio everyday and it breaks my heart to see and hear all this evil going on around me.

Thankfully, I have had so much positive feedback about The Only Way is Up from all races and both sexes as well as different agegroups that I cannot let this stop me. It is in a sense my way of giving back to a country that has embraced me and allowed me to succeed and prosper. I really do love the United States of America.

The review also questions who my audience is. My answer to that is anyone who wants to improve on themselves. It does not matter where you have been or what mistakes you have made. You can still live a better life if desired and you can especially impact that of your childen early so as not to make the same mistakes. I touch on my childhood to paint a picture of an alternate way of life and the results that are achieved from that way. All I really try to communicate is a change in attitude and mindset that regardless of where you are in life, you can be better. And I am thankful I am having that effect on teenagers, middle aged women, grown men, etc. I know my effort is not in vain. And I am very thankful to those who have and are still supporting me on this project.

With regard to my direct approach, the truth can often be hard to swallow or hear. But how does one sugar-coat the kind of issues I address in my book such as the lack of the intact family, teenage pegnancy, a general social decline, obesity and single parenthood? There is no sitting on the fence for such issues. And I'll take it if the attitude is "How dare this foreign person come to the US to tell us what to do?" I just refuse to be quiet however.

One other interesting point that I know is this: If foreigners can come to the US and succeed, so can Americans. It's not an assumption. It is fact. People just need to change their thinking and sense of entitlement where they are looking to someone else to do for them; they need to take ownership. They need information. And I have seen people do it who have no education or who needed to go back to school or train to be educated in a field that was marketable here. I have seen immigrants work as mechanics, store owners, go to nursing school, work as hairdressers, etc. The fact that I am an MD does not change the principle. If I wasn't an MD, I'd still be successful at something else in this country, probably real estate related methinks!

I was at a mentoring event last night sponsored by Michael Baisden and co. It was amazing and he had the same message. "The president is doing his job. What are you doing?" He's not going to come to your house and ensure your kids stay in school. You need to do that; and the community. He actually started off with this statement: "Ladies, you may not need a man, but your kids sure do!" So, maybe my audience are the people who listen to the Michael Baisden Show or the Frank and Wanda Morning Show. Just maybe! (Funny)

With regard to travel, I also do not assume it is easy or cheap to do this. But for those people who can afford it and do have the means but just think they have nothing to see outside of their great country, I just urge that they try it. It is always life changing. I promise you. Once again I bring up the Frank Ski Kids Foundation and the trips to the amazon, etc for these kids. I had a previous post about this which you can peruse at your pleasure.

About my exact timelines in the UK and Nigeria, that will have to come in my biography which this is not. Maybe I'll get to that someday...Just maybe! I might experiment with fiction next however.

The review also alluded to the fact that I painted the picture of a happy childhood despite having no electricity. Now, what really makes a happy child? It is amazing how happy a child can be with love despite lacking a lot of things we adults would even consider as needs. Those moments I spent sitting on the porch with my father under the moonlight listening to his stories or folk-tales (we called these alo), or howling at the moon were some of my best memories of my childhood and frankly speaking, my life. And to think that it was borne out of a lack of something! And even though video and TV games existed then, we never had any while I grew up.  Sometimes technology can be almost like a curse or a distraction to actual human connection. Definitely the computer is. So, I can say most definitely that I was a very happy child. It sure beats losing friends and family members to drugs and the streets anyday (thoughts of which absolutely break my heart). Once again, not stereotyping but for those who are not aware, Nigerians are often described as the happiest people in the world. We let nothing stop us. We keep going and going and going despite any challenges. And if you have seen Nigerians party, you will agree with me we are some happy people. And as much as I hate to admit it because I live in the US, people who live in Nigeria even with petrol (fuel) scarcity and no constant electricity somehow manage or seem to be happier and more fulfilled than most of us who live in developed countries. I still haven't figured out exactly how but it just is. That is food for thought. We may really have it all wrong about what's really important to fulfilment in life.

I will never let go of my belief that one person at a time, one good deed at a time, we can change the world. It all starts in our little corner. What are you doing in your corner? Let's do it. YES WE CAN!


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Happy Mothers Day! If I had My Life To Live Over...

Happy Mother's day to all my mothers who devote their lives to serving their kids, packing lunches, doing laundry, staying up at night with a sick child and what have you. And even though it may be hard to do this, please try and stop to smell the roses every now and again because before we know it, poof, it's all gone!

I read an interesting article in a local paper this morning that I will like to share with you:

If I Had My Life To Live Over by Erma Bombeck

The following was written by the late Erma Bombeck after she found out she had a fatal disease.

If I had my life to live over, I would have talked less and listened more.

I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.

I would have eaten the popcorn in the 'good' living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.

I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.

I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.

I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.

I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains.

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television - and more while watching life.

I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.

I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren't there for the day.

I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn't show soil or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.

Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I'd have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, "Later. Now go get washed up for dinner."

There would have been more "I love you's".. More "I'm sorrys" ...

But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute... look at it and really see it ... live it...and never give it back.

© Erma Bombeck

My dear sisters and everybody else, my message today is this: PLEASE STOP AND SMELL THE ROSES EVERY NOW AND AGAIN!

Have a blast of a week.


Monday, March 8, 2010

Weight: The Big Elephant in the Room...

Now, why will I go and put my foot in my mouth and talk about weight? Let me start off by clarifying that skinny does not equal beautiful by any means. Now that we have cleared that up, are we so scared of offending our friends and loved ones that we possibly cannot talk about weight issues though? I was in this situation recently and while not being mean or insensitive, consciously sticking to purely medical facts and steering away from words such as 'beauty' and 'pretty' and 'attractive' which are purely subjective, I managed to make my point. But should it be so hard?

There was a debate on the wall of one of my facebook friends sparked by a comment on Oscar night about how Gabourey Sidibe (from Precious) needed to shed a few pounds. And while it was probably not the time to talk about that since it was a day for her to be celebrated even though she did not win the Oscar, I had to stay true to myself and my belief and the MD in me on my stance about weight and health.

Unfortunately, it appeared that the media had really flogged that storyline recently, unbeknown to me since I have too busy to watch much TV lately! I in no way subscribe to the brutal way the media tears people apart...I just happen to be an MD. In the US, being an MD means you constantly have to deal with weight issues on a daily basis with patients, even if God blessed you with the metabolism of a child! (Wishful thinking.)

Patients come to me all day long and swear up and down that they have tried everything to lose weight and it hasn't worked. Yet upon further questioning, these same people drink sodas everyday, sugar-laden juice, eat out at fast food restaurants regularly, cannot get enough sweet tea to drink, etc. So who are you really fooling? While there truly are people who have tried everything with no result, they are not as many as the people who claim that to be the problem. And for such, there is the option of weight loss medicine to jump-start the weight loss and even possibly bariartric intervention. But ultimately, the only measure that is going to keep the weight off is a lifestyle change. There is no quick fix to losing weight. Sorry, no short cuts here!

Having recently lost a considerable amount of weight myself (approximately 35 pounds=a 50 point drop in total cholesterol) and able to maintain it by day to day discipline, I know it is possible. It is not easy but if you are motivated, and you do not have endocrine problems such as thyroid disorder or mental health issues such as depression which make you eat for comfort, it can be done. You just need to put your heart to it. And if you have those problems, please do get medical help as it just goes downhill from there otherwise.

If your motivation for weight loss is purely to look good or better and be acceptable to people, then we need to work on your self esteem. Hit me up on But if you are doing it to be healthy and to avoid hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, obtructive sleep apnea, obesity hypoventialtion syndrome, early arthritis, etc, then you are on the right track.

I do not subscribe to any fancy diet. I would rather take a few tips here and there from several diet programs if need be (you can walk into Borders and read parts of these books!). But if you pay attention to your body, you can figure out what makes you add weight or not. Eat your fruits and vegetables; drink water, smoothies and 100% juices from the refrigerator and not the isles; eat whole grain; cut back on dairy and definitely not whole milk and the likes and if you can, exercise. Eat small frequest meals 3 to 5 times a day is what I recommend or 3 meals and 2 snacks. Snacks should be a banana or an apple and not cookies and the likes preferably. Remember, the 300 calorioes you burn on a treadmill does not give you the license to stop by starbucks on your way back home to eat a muffin and some coffee with more calories in it than you just burned. And if you cannot exercise (most women!), you'd better work on what goes in you because as long as you take in more or equal to what you are able to burn daily, there will be no weight loss.

As a Christian, I am a firm believer that watching what goes into our bodies is part of treating our bodies like the temple of the Lord!

I have a chapter on Nutrition, Exercise, Weight and Health in my book The Only Way is Up. Pick up your copy today!

Please leave your comments and feel free to disagree with me.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Blurring of the Distinction Between Marriage and "Everything Else"

We are in an age where people treat relationships like marriage and marriage like relationships. By relationships I mean dating or even being engaged: Basically anything before the marriage vow. Is this distinction blurred secondary to an epidemic of co-habiting and our so called modernized attitude to everything? I wonder. Values have become old fashioned. In a relationship where you have not made that legal commitment and that covenant between both parties in front of God and man, certain issues should be deal breakers such as domestic violence. If we are doing things the right way which unfortunately we often are not, the issue of infidelity should not even come up in relationships. It should only be a concept in a marriage gone wrong!

I notice especially on the radio that when people give relationship advice nowadays, the advice for marriage and dating is often the same. It makes me wonder if I am the only person that thinks different rules often apply and both cases are not the same.

Certain things happening in a relationship is your chance to walk away from a life of turmoil with this person. On the contrary, in marriage, I believe almost every situation should be worked out or at least an attempt made to honor that vow no matter what. We do forget the part where we said, “For better or for worse, in sickness and in health, till death do us part.” If it’s no longer good, we want to run.

The other day on the radio, a lady had called in with doubts about marrying this man who she had been with for 5 years and they had 3 kids together! It sounded to me like that was not the right order of things and she was in a pickle right there...

What I see more often than not is this confused state where we are working too hard at relationships and not hard enough at marriage. I ask myself, “Is it just me?”

Please leave your comments. Thank you.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Stalking, Checking Your Partner's Voicemails and Emails, Snooping Around-All Signs of Low Self Esteem...

(Inspired by Frank Ski!)

Same as calling someone 20 times in a row! Even going through their phone for address book details and texts falls in this category. At most call twice and send 1 txt or IM. No more! Believe me, they got at least one of those. They're just ignoring you or legitimately busy in a meeting. Repeated calling etc chips away at your self esteem and gives the other power over you.

I can't vouch that I have never done some of these but I can vouch it will never happen again...And those were situations I didn't need to be in or I knew in my heart I needed to get out of. None of those situations has ever had a good outcome I can categorically say!!! Walk away with your self esteem intact please.

This came up on the Frank and Wanda Morning Show today and Frank echoed my attitude to this issue. I may frequently refer to radio shows I listen to just because I drive 3 hours daily!!!

If this person you are involved with cannot earn your trust, please leave, but with your self esteem intact.

If you are married to this person, because I am a Christian and I believe we should work hard at staying together, I will advise that you pray real hard about the situation, hold on to your self esteem and if the person is up to something, God will reveal it. Then you can deal with it and have the upper hand. When you come from the angle of having snooped around to find the information, they get on the defensive, angry and claim they did whatever anyway because they sensed your lack of trust and you end up having to first apologize for snooping.

Stay on your level and keep the upper hand. It's the better place to be!

What are your thoughts? Have a good day.