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Fear of Unspoken Love Messages.

20180416_181356Our fears tend to lose their power when we bring them into the light. Sometimes, being in denial of a burden or loss makes it difficult to accept that someone we once casually reached out to, that was always available will not be anymore is enough to keep expanding the pit we feel in our stomachs.

It is uncontrollable.

Our mental health (how we feel and how others feel about us) is one of the greatest of God’s gifts, but we take it for granted. It hangs on a thread as fine as a spider’s web. And the smallest thing can make it snap, leaving the strongest of us helpless in an instant.

And in that instant; Hope is our protector and Love our relief.

Isn’t it amazing how hard we have to work at not letting our emotion trump the truth? Our thoughts left unchecked can spiral instantly and produce crippling anxiety. Especially when we receive a phone call and the blank voice on the other end of the line says those lines we never prepared for!

Who is prepared anyway?

The world we live in is full of love language that goes unspoken. Feelings are hidden behind cold tears to avoid rejection or seemingly weak appearance, it doesn’t mean that it is felt less deeply; or that separation leaves a cleaner wound behind. Its beauty and its pain are in its silence.

What does it take to express how we feel? To comfort a sick child? To ease the pathway for someone recently diagnosed? Or one in a difficult relationship? Or stepping into the shoes of an overwhelmed caretaker of a child with developmental disability? The hurting family? The passing on of a loved one?

Not saying it leaves them in isolation, while we battle with our regrets for a lifetime.

Some of us are not blessed with revelations or confession of expression. I still literally ball-out like a baby, whimpering in a corner, shivering like an Eskimo whenever I receive dreary-hardened news….’the loss of my 3 pregnancies left me holding on to the ultra-sound pictures for years, the receipt of the cancer diagnosis left me physically scarred for life, the dilemma of accepting my child’s delay was an eye opener and created a movement in my career and life, and then the loss of my beloved Daddy…seems like part of me was stolen, but then its rebirth ignited the fire in me to soar.

When love language cannot be spoken, only shown, then everything that makes the heart beat must be hushed. I didn’t want to be hushed. I didn’t want to be consoled. I didn’t want to be told…C’est la vie! I just wanted to yell out how much love was sifting through me at the moment of each tragedy I had encountered over the years.

‘Yinka, “Mr. G.” has gone to rest! Welcome-To-The-Club! ‘We have all lost our Dads too” and their stories began, heartbreaking, heart torturing!

There was an overwhelming feeling of warmth and emotional support as I sat facing my 4 decades-bosom-childhood-friends on the night of the WAKE inside my dad’s parlor and a complete solidarity of hope as they all held on to me the next day at Ikoyi cemetery during the burial. #ThankYouVirginiaRuthAndIfeyinwa.

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*Virginia flew in from Port Harcourt, Ruth and Ifeyinwa had scrambled their way through the crazy Monday/Tuesday traffic from VGC to Lagos Island.

So, am I really ready for that club? The-No-earthly-Daddy’s club? I remember how I had panicked and fought everyone on the day of his lying-in-state. I didn’t know what got over me, but I lost my focus and literally shouted at everyone at my Dad’s place to keep dusting or cleaning his parlor, because the undertakers were bringing him into his house for lying in…

Oh no, He was coming back to his living room for the last time, and I was losing my mind…because only his body was present. I cried like a deranged widow. My fear was evident but my spoken love was massive. Phew!

Mourning is a strange, personal, twisted road. Especially when you lose a parent. We all expect that this will be our story; we will outlive our parents. And yet they are our origin people. For the entire 46 years I have been on earth, my Dad had been too. He was a given, a constant. And now, He’s not. The reconciliation with this new reality has been harder than I’d though it would be.

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So, if you’re reading this and still struggling with a fear of unspoken feelings or still in doubt if it is okay to express it without a response. Yes! Because, our Fear is inevitable, but the proclaimed shame over it is optional. Fear is wired into our very brains, into the most primitive part of us.

And if overwhelmed with fear of expression, share it with someone you trust today and ask them to pray with you. Doing so will help them be braver about sharing their fears and feelings too. Courage is contagious.

My Healing Process:

I usually open up my office door and allow my clients (children on the spectrum) to walk up in, have a seat and rummage through my toy bags as I engage their Behavior Techs in conversation and finally shift my attention on them, always getting animated and saying…“Do you know how much I love you today? This big!! (with emphasis on BIG as my arms opens up to hug them) ‘irrespective of the behavior displayed.

And when they walk out happier or puzzled at my 1-minute sugar-high craziness, with tears in my eyes more for joy of submission and expression, I know my bottled up feelings are being expressed through the minds of these little kids gradually…

Sometimes what we need is not information or speech or a literature of the pain we already know; But consolation. Sometimes we just need to know we are not the only one going through stuff. We need not the “how-to” but the “me too” consolation.

Because we are battle-worn and tender and have already fought as hard as we possibly can for now. Let’s show our spoken-affection to someone in need of it today.

May God help us all.

PS: Big THANKS to everyone who supported me through it all. I truly appreciate it.

Yours in HOPE
Yinka.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Autism: Why we need more Acceptance & Commitment!

April is National Autism Awareness month. But, everyday is another waiting period of Hope for a family or caretaker of a child with autism.

Every minute an evidence-based empirical research is completed… Hope Floats!

Every second the perfect coping strategy or the best sensory stimulated system is discovered…Faith Abounds!

Despite the fact that we think we are all AWARE and CONSIOUS of the term AUTISM, research shows that majority of us still struggle to ACCEPT and EMBRACE the concepts of autism… majority of us still struggle with how/what/ to do when approached…either at church…workplace…community….schools or even within family members! We are still tied down to cultural and religious biases that hinder our opportunity to do more for that voiceless child!

So, I am campaigning by raising a platform of Acceptance + Awareness + Embracement = Commitment to find a cure and heighten our knowledge, alertness, mindfulness, recognition and sensibility on the most avoided topic within us – Our perception on Autism.

What is Autism?

It is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. Autism is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a “spectrum disorder” that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees.

There is no known single cause of autism, but increased awareness and funding can help families today.

In March 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued their ADDM autism prevalence report. The report concluded that the prevalence of autism had risen to 1 in every 88 births in the United States and almost 1 in 54 boys. The spotlight shown on autism as a result of the prevalence increase opens opportunities for the nation to consider how to serve these families facing a lifetime of support for their children.

So, you noticed a child has Lack of or delay in spoken language, Repetitive use of language and/or motor mannerisms (e.g., hand-flapping, twirling objects), Little or no eye contact, Lack of interest in peer relationships, Lack of spontaneous or make-believe play or Persistent fixation on parts of objects..

Chances are you know a child with autism or have encountered one somewhere. It’s not easy knowing what to do or how to respond to the quirks (or outbursts) of an autistic child. Public tantrums are par for the course with children. How many of us have seen a kid have an outburst while their embarrassed parents try to get control?

Well, ratchet that up a couple of notches… Their tantrums can get rough. Don’t gape and stare at the child and parent, saying “Can you believe that kid?”.  And especially don’t make comments or tell the parent, “Can’t you control your kid?” Just go about your business. Or if you catch the eye of the child’s caregiver, just flash a smile. It can work wonders.

You haven’t met anyone so unique and exceptional until you encounter a special need child. Their love is pure, genuine and transparent. You see through their little eyes rays of hope and unquestionable bewilderment.

So, instead of staring at the “un-believable sight or scene” why not give emotional support. Be that imaginary horse to be ridden on or be their knight in shinning armor who sings of their praises, it helps build their confidence. Reach out this month – to a special need child.

(Dedicated to all my special needs children and their families – well, “my caseload children” from over 15 years! – ‘Lighting it BLUE for you this month and always!)

#DCNAutismCommitment

Yinka Gansallo-LawrenceFounder & CEO – Developmental Care Network & Autism Care Network. Michigan.

http://www.developmentalcarenetwork.com

http://www.autismcarenetwork.org

 

 

Tribute to my Father, My mentor and friend.

 

Mr Ganzy

Arthur Kayode Gansallo – Land Surveyor – Jan 8th 1933 – Feb. 24th 2018 (85 years old).

The departure of life eclipses everything’. When a death is good, the room is filled with peace, and all the pain, that went before it is forgotten. Where there was mystery and anxiety, there is knowledge, where there is fear and doubt, there is love. And when asked how to move on afterwards, I whispered, ‘I just want to DO IT (life) again with you, Papa-mi’.
‘Narratives of my Father’ – Yinka.

With Loving memories, this is how I want to remember my beloved father, Arthur Kayode Gansallo. To others, He was known as Daddy, AK Gansallo or Brother Surveyor, but to me, I have always called him “Papa-mi” ‘which made our relationship very personal and special. Sometimes even indicating affection that’s cautiously guarded with youthful zeal implying “mine only”.

While growing up, I have always been reminded of my resemblance to his late mother, Madam Emily Gansallo (nee Coker) fondly known as ‘Mama Upstairs‘ (I guess the fondness emerged from that maternal-reflection I carried with me while around him).

She usually sat at one of the bow-windows on the top floor of her glamorously decorated baroque Brazilian architectural influenced parlor; with exuberant and individualistic styled doorways, brightly painted facades and chunky concrete columns, flight of polished wooden steps with brightly colored panels and delicate floral plaster motifs of the Brazilian artisans!

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Gansallo Family House – Lagos Island.

Yeah, my late grandmother was always strategically located in such a way that she had a bird’s-eye view of both Tokunboh and Oshodi streets, at this perch she was able to view the comings and goings and ready to call out anyone who’s out of order….I grew up learning those boundaries too from my father.

Where do I start? All through my life, He’s always been my shield, especially where I usually seek shelter when I am in trouble due to my smart mouth or need to escape some sibling scolding or from my mom’s non-stop-nagging about why I needed to step up my game and claim the 1st position in class!

I usually run to hide in his home-office, where the entrance marks no-allowance to violence and the red sea for the offended-ones chasing after me! He always protected me from altered hot slaps, or sibling-beatups, listened with an open mind to my talk about life, my dreams and my future plans, and gave re-directions without being overbearing.

From my 1st primary school best literature award, his glowing face with his Polaroid camera, proud as ever! Even encouraging me to buy more books at CMS bookshop to read as we drove home from school that day and thereafter enrolling me at Teacher Pat (of St. Mary’s Private-afterschool) lesson for mathematics clinic! I remember him forbearingly tutoring me for common entrance exam and patiently waiting to pick me up at St. Gregory’s college after the long yearly 5k-Corpus Christi procession!

From the set of French curves he gave me when I informed him I was taking Technical Drawing in school and aiming to be an Architect trailing after him; to Alliance Français French school when I changed my mind and wanted to study foreign language instead, He encouraged me all through, emotionally and financially.

My 10th birthday party, where He officially became the DJ and MC, even though He practically played his own favorite music (FELA) all through, we still had a blast;

Oh, my 1st day away from home at FGGC Sagamu, the panic attack once we crossed the toll gate and the long dreary drive in his car as He continuously encouraged me about the unknown, Apparently, He had labelled all my belongings, boldly scripted in his fine cartographic hand writing ‘A.O. Gansallo’ (Anthonia Olayinka Gansallo) even on my school sandals, my red checked house wear and school bag legible enough for other students to be amused or read from afar.

He never missed any visiting days or our usual stop over at Uncle Ladipo’s (his brother) at All Saints school Ikorodu to review my report card and make plans for summer school! Phew!

I remember my 1st visit to a fancy restaurant, at Eko Hotel when I was just 9 with him, my 1st table etiquette training and tableware placement. Our religious visits to CFAO Moloney supermarket to buy chocolates, biscuits and of course Benson & Hedges and thereafter our painful visits to the dentist together.

Our weekend drive to Museum Kitchen, to listen to high life music with a sip of fresh sour palmwine! or to Bar Beach to watch the sun set or to see Grand Uncle Akin Coker at his beach house on Elf Estate, off Lekki road in the early 80’s (which was formerly Maroko swamp). Or our visit to the stadium to watch Abiola Babes and Iwuanyanwu Nationale soccer match at Onikan!

I got to learn a lot about land acquisition, families with landed properties and sometimes history behind land allocation, all mostly within Ibeju Lekki & Eti Osa Local govt. as I was usually in his company during some site visits and very inquisitive about his passion for his job, drawing up maps and calculating numbers nonstop!

My 1st & 2nd graduation from college and His advice to keep on aiming higher, not to stop there, to be all I can be, as a daughter, a wife, a mother and a woman who stands out in her generation.

One funny thing is that, He actually knew and remembered all my girlfriends by name, and would approach them when they come to visit and usually engaged them in ‘girly’ conversation, even decoding our secrets codes over the telephone! They usually call him, Mr. Ganzy of which He usually smiles at and could sit with them for hours talking about his favorite movies – especially Gremlins!

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My wedding day. (Dad & I) – Aug. 14th 1997.

I can never forget the big smile of accomplishment and joy on his face on my wedding day, 20 years ago, as He proudly walked me down the aisle, clutching the marriage certificate afterwards close to his heart and looking at me with that fondness I grew up knowing.

I thank God that I can proudly say today that I have been so blessed to have him as my Father and friend, ‘would do it again and never could have traded him for anyone! I am who I am today because of the devotion and love of my parents, more especially my father’s undying love and His belief in me.

Last time we spoke, just after his 85th birthday in January, He muttered under heavy breaths…

Yinkus baby! I am still here, even though all my friends are gone, I am counting down to your next graduation commencement” and I had joked with him saying

Ah, Mr. Ganzy, you are still very young, I will be back home soon, to complete that Autism clinic project we’ve always talked about”….we both laughed over that as He hung up the telephone.

 

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Feb. 2018 Commencement.

And those were his last words to me. 

He was a fantastic man. He was a great father, loving husband, caring brother, nurturing grandfather and dear friend to many people. To me he was more than just my father; he was my friend and my hero.

I always admired my father and had a great deal of respect for him. I pray the everlasting love and peace of God dwell with him in his new abode.

Eternal Rest, Grant Him O Lord!

Your loving daughter!
Yinkus Baby (as He fondly calls me).

 

 

 

 

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MY WAKANDA MUSINGS by Folarin Lawrence.

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I have contemplated my state of mind in regards to being an immigrant, and having lived here in the United States for so long, being extremely wary about relocating to Nigeria, my place of birth and homeland.

Is it the myriads of basic infrastructure that just are not stable? Or the fact that Africa having been independent from her “colonizers” as Shuri rightly mentioned, is yet to produce leaders that are not interested in lining their pockets and offshore bank accounts with the very wealth of the people.

If I never left Nigeria, I will definitely have survived and surely “thrived” but that is a story for another place and time. This brings me to the here and now that fuels thoughts deep enough to be labeled musings.

Last week I was in a Black Panther state of mind, after surviving the very long line at the movie theatre, buying into the excitement all over my kids and the priceless “Hmm, this-Marvel-thing-had-better-be-good” expression on Yinka’s face. We finally made it in, settled down and even had enough time to grab Popcorn!

I was whisked on a whimsical yet reflective, euphoric and again poignant journey to “Wakanda”, a place… ‘No, Kingdom I have dreamed of and been lost in at very different segments of my life most especially my formative years! A place I believed existed even at the time not being acquainted with the Black Panther universe, yet it existed in my mind’s eye.

Growing up in Lagos in the 70s I remember a society that was burgeoning, as Nigeria had discovered vast stores of oil: Bonny Light! which signifies the #Vibranium of Wakanda, which was said to be one of the best grades of crude oil at the time. And, yes at that very beautiful period in the annals of Nigerian History “almost everything worked”.

Yes, there was corruption just like there is in any part of the world, but our basic necessities were met. The general infrastructure worked. There was power, good roads, healthcare, education and most of those things politicians have since promised and have not been able to deliver.

I remember waking up in the morning and looking out of my grandmother’s window at #39 Aralile Street, Surulere on Lagos Mainland to the site of women dressed in uniformed native wear (iro, buba and gele) with long brooms and big baskets sweeping the streets.

I remember not having to be coaxed by whip wielding policemen to use the over-head bridge at Barracks Bus Stop, I remember the traffic lights at Adeniran Ogunsanya,

I remember watching Bonanza on Nigerian Television Authority Channel 10 and telling my late Uncle Jose “I Jam Blocker” (Dan Blocker) and I had just ridden my horse over my grandmother’s roof this morning while he was still sleeping”. In hindsight, I cannot even remember why Dan Blocker was my favorite actor from  Bonanza, I guess maybe because he was the biggest and he knocked more guys around.

I also remember the news on television with Ikenna Daguba, Mike Enahoro, and Julie Coker, not to forget the sports segment with Yinka Craig and once in a while Bisi Lawrence with some specials.

So, which brings me back to Black Panther’s Wakanda. Nigeria was my Wakanda, only because through the lenses of my childhood I never imagined in my wildest nightmares that a nation with boundless potentials, vast resources both natural and human, would be quasi developed as it is today whereby basic amenities are only available to the mostly affluent corrupt and the bourgeoisie few.

This is not to say that there are no honest, hardworking individuals in Nigeria, the conundrum being faced is how to replace the moral fabric of the society which has rapidly descended into a cesspool of decadence, an unbelievable callousness which unfortunately seems to have reached a point of no return.

I tell my 11-year-old son that he comes from a very proud heritage and culture, but I am also very conscious of explaining to him why it may be difficult for us to once again settle in Nigeria, but make a point of saying “difficult” and not “impossible” because I still have dreams of “Wakanda-esque” utopia, super-imposed on the African landscape with a government for the people, technology that even the western world will envy, with proud and eloquent black men, beautiful strong black women with children whose future is as bright as the morning star and older generation with histories as colorful and magnificent as the sunsets of the Motherland.

This is a dream that has yet again been awakened by the complex kaleidoscope delivered by Ryan Coogler in Black Panther. #Kudos #MustSeeMovie

I want to believe that there are many dreamers like me out there and even if we are not able to bring this dream into fruition in my generation, please begin today to inculcate these dream into your young sons and daughters here in Diaspora, give them the hope that they can and should achieve that which we may not be able to achieve, let them know whose sons and daughters they truly are.

Do not forget to tell them it is going to take the grace of God to achieve this as they will face a continuous barrage of difficulties along the way.

Here is a snippet of what is yet to come:

The “Wakanda-esque” utopia in my dreams comprises of three very uniquely diverse group of young, bright and beautiful black people in this order; Born on the Motherland, Born in Diaspora of migrant parentage, and Born outside of the Motherland often with a broken link but of African descent.

God’s Peace.

Kaylaw.

 

 

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A Display of Unsung Affection

AjokeDo you believe that some people are actually positioned into our lives for a certain season, to accomplish a given purpose?

They show up, help nurse our hurting wound, seal the broken patches and then challenge us to pay it forward during our lifetime.

And then One Day, they vanish into thin air!

Just like that!

Gone.

While sorting through some old storage boxes in my garage, I came across an old photograph taken in 1995! It wasn’t the usual fancy studio-ready, happy-selfie type, but one filled with Kodak memories that brought tears of joy, fondness and pure love, for a group of selfless strangers I had once known, dearly.

It had the back drop of a tiled-well-washed hospital ward, with a giant inscription of GHI (General Hospital Ikeja), merry face of a smiling light skinned, British-accented female doctor with a dangling stethoscope around her neck, sprawled across a patients’ bed; it also had me, in a hospital gown smiling but with a confused look, not sure what to expect in this my new and strange abode!

There was Mercy my pretty Sapele-born teenage roommate/patient awaiting her ruptured appendix removal and Adejoke, my other roommate, who was also awaiting her 2nd knee surgery from an infected wound caused by a car accident on her school campus.

If pictures could capture the other hidden features around us, I bet you could smell the poignant and acidic aroma of antibiotics, Izal-washed floors and stale fruits…

One thing we all had in common: Fear of the known and the unknown! We all needed comfort from within to help ease our trembling minds or to erase the horrid stories of the mishaps of the theater room drama; and then, there was always the agitated head nurse grumbling about the traffic of my bedside visitors that’s exceeded the mandatory number allowed,  bringing gifts of homemade food, bedding fixtures and Lucozade drink!

This is no hotel or hostel! It is late, you need to go home” the head nurse would grumble and complain as my mother and then boyfriend-turned husband-now would linger at the reception area, hoping to spend more time with me.

doctorAnd then, there came Dr. Lovette! The female doctor in the picture, Yes! That was what she was fondly called.

She instantly became my adopted Sister! Never knew her from anywhere… but connected with her in such a way that…’count down to the dreary theater for my surgery became a breeze! Un-certainty, fear, worry and doubts were erased by her comforting words and her open conversation about my emotional wellbeing!

Catching up on latest gist became an evening routine and an escape out of the constant depressing memories of seeing other patients being wheeled out with a coded sign of final dismissal.

She erased all anxiety by creating a comforting space we all looked forward to. Her famous words…‘we are all here for a reason, each and everyone of us! resonated within me until I had my partial thyroidectomy and was discharged.

And that was it… ‘The last time I saw her… ‘a void and ache was created inside me, maybe for a good cause. Last I heard, she’d returned to the UK to take care of her own personal ailment…’something no one knew she was dealing with even as She was taking care of us!

Oh! Such selfless and painful dedication of uncelebrated affection! And we all know that ache that always leaves a void within us.

So, there are times when our own heavy heart-burdens cry so loudly that we struggle to hear the voice of others or to remember the unsearchable, inescapable presence of God; times when we think our prayers seem to go unanswered and our broken situations seemingly painful and unfixable.

Tell me, ‘Where is the time to care for others? ‘Don’t we already have enough on our own plate to deal with? Who’s going to do it? Hmmm.

I am sure at some points in your life’s journey you have been blessed with certain people and moments that have left indelible marks on the landscape of your heart and in some way challenged you to dig deep and continue to forge this chain of selfless love and care so that the cycle thrives.

Today, let’s ask ourselves, ‘what vision-goal have we thought about or written down, to do for Others Who Are In Need? What Care Network have we envisioned in our minds and planning to connect with? What Circle Of Kindness has been laid upon our hearts?

Can we make plans to elevate others so we can celebrate their victory, unconditionally? Have we set aside time to visit a nearby shelter, share lunch with that homeless guy we pass by every time, can we walk-into-an-hospice and volunteer or sign up to play the silly puppet-show at the children hospital and amuse kids awaiting or recovering from surgery, as it is? Not when fulfilling a duty of self-recognition or self righteousness?

Chances are you already know a family taking care of a needy child, who need your care? or a family handling a terminal diagnosis? who need your prayer! Perhaps it’s that hurting friend whose profile picture displays a seemingly happy-perfect-made up face but carries a hidden burden never addressed? Or…when was the last time you volunteered to take over the household chores of another family going through life? Just for an hour, while they get a chance to breathe?

When do we begin to put our real radical-impact hat on and stop playing eye-service religious-obligatory task, when do we stop paraphrasing ‘It is well’ and actually mean it by  Making it well’ just-by-doing-our-part?

When do we turn our phone’s selfie mode off and take real life pictures of others to be able to see the pain they are going through? or when do we disconnect from our social media world to spend real quality and uplifting one-on-one time with one another, over a soothing cup of organic roasted dandelion root herbal tea, a tantalizing fruit tart under the soothing and calming aromatherapy candle infused with essential oils? #TeaTartsandTranquility.teacup

While probably we have not been called to save an entire nation from destruction, God has certainly called us to be a care network He can use.

According to Missionary Amy Carmichael, “Often His call is to follow in paths we would not have chosen.”

Whether God is calling you to be a catalyst for saving someone from physical death or being an incentive for saving someone from spiritual and emotional separation, when we move forward in obedience, we are empowered, strengthened, bolstered and confident as we see Him accomplish great and mighty works through us.

Visit http://www.developmentalcarenetwork.com and connect with a care network team!

Yours in Hope as I share ‘One Day” by Matisyahu!
Yinka.

 

 

 

 

 

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Intentionally Filled-Up for a New Year

My favorite part of eating out in a fancy restaurant apart from the ambiance and good food is usually observing the composed and mastered display of hospitality of the stand-by waitress or waiter; particularly how they keep attentive eyes on the customer. We hear things like…

“May I refill your glass?” “Are you enjoying your meal?”
“May I get you something else on the menu?” “Is everything okay?”

Whether we see it as a glorified spoiler tip or a dedicated show of servitude, these are all part of the menu and already paid for because the motives are intentional! We-are-Being-served or Filled-up, On purpose! Simple.

One of my favorite memories while growing up was a particular visit to a fancy restaurant with my dad (inside Eko Hotel) and the exciting feelings of the warm reception of being waited on, catered for and the wide smile on the waiter’s face as he continuously came to our table to ask if he could do more!

I was only 9-years-old, but could have sworn everything on the menu tasted so good and far better than anything in our kitchen at home!  #NoOffenseMom

My Dad ordered a huge glass of Chapman for himself, and a bottle of orange Fanta for me. But, I wanted a taste of the chapman too…So I quickly drank up my boring orange Fanta and tilted my empty cup towards him…’looking up at him…just smiling, not a word uttered…’but with a child’s longing, innocence and  “feed-the-child-now face!

Papai, fill me up! I whispered in my tiny shrill voice. And He did…poured some of his drink into my empty cup, at first to taste and then more willingly and intentionally. *(Papai is a Portuguese term for Daddy of Father).

Now and every time I share the story with my 3 kids whenever we dine out….’they always laugh at me and say #Gross or ‘Eww Seriously! Mom, honestly, we don’t want to share your drink, just get ours! or Phew, that’s so #Savage… Mom!…Ah, but what-do-they-know about life?

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So, we all have those metaphorical ‘Fill it up expectation cups’ in our lives! Some hold love for others, some expect acceptance from others, while some are usually tilted sideways, facing or directed towards the wrong people, the wrong location, the wrong ideas, all waiting and expecting to be filled, loved and fulfilled by the world. Some seeking emotional comfort in all the wrong places, while others already capsized and given up on getting filled up, again or ever!

Today, as you are reading this, even though you did not meet all your expectations, would you still say you were intentionally filled in 2017? Was it a nailed-it year or are you still in the process of discovering how to slay it? Perhaps, it was a year of good riddance to bags of rubbish?

Oh, hold on!!, was it an eventful one with unlimited passion or zeal to move on? Were you initially hopeful but now downcast? Imaginatively surprised because of a new life, new birth of ideas and closures on unmerited projects?

Or like me, did you acquire relevant wisdom and surprised yourself by finally doing it? #Fist Bump! Or you lost some hope initially but gradually building up courage, again?

Anyone feel like a soaked-up squeezed-out sponge? Or on a brand new horizon because of lessons learned from the past? ‘Or still burned-out trying to meet up with someone else’s needs… ‘His needs… ‘Her needs… ‘World’s needs and just never having time to remember YOUR own needs?

Was your cup eventually filled? Full, half way or still empty, waiting, anticipating? Debating? Are you still holding up your cup(s) facing up and expecting to be filled?

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What angle is your cup tilted to? Who is it directed to? #ChangeTheAngleOfYourCup
How often do we hold out our empty cups towards others? Oh, how many times have we joyfully pour into other people’s cup, always filling it even when not prompted to? Why so?

How often do we appreciate and savor our own blessings? ’Logically, should we be expectant? What would it take for us not to focus on the inconveniences we encounter along the way that sometimes accompany the good things in our lives?

Or maybe in 2017, we have been offering our open cups to the wrong filler? And when those cups are not filled as expected…’these moments of disconnection and conviction causes us to consider the condition of our heart as well as the circumstances that surround us. Which forces us to assess soul situations, our emotions, edgy responses, unkind words, missed opportunities, snippy attitudes, and the myriad of rebellion we have got going on. Hmmm…

‘Ever thought of questioning why we keep running on empty for a purpose? Maybe it was intentionally crafted? Maybe it is because we are holding out our empty cups in the direction of people who are also holding out their empty cups in our direction too? 

I am hoping someone will embrace 2018 knowing and accepting that all things work for their good and it is intentional. That when we tilt our cups upward and trust only God to do his part, we will not have to run around to people or places, hoping to get filled up.greetings

Yours in HOPE as I share Intentional by Travis Greene.
Yinka.

 

 

 

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My 20-Year-Wedding-Anniversary Reflection.

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As crawling gives way to toddling and then striding, so does every relationship that would stand the test of time! It is like a child moving more steadily through the physical world, un-perturbed by the unknown rough pathway ahead, but determined to thrive.

Our relationship with others should always crave for improvements and ability to reject being the ultimate mentalist! Or self-appointed mind-readers we think we are. Only if we make room for acceptance.

How often have we erringly misjudged the mental states of others, such as their background upbringing, sexual orientation, feelings, thoughts, intentions, baggages and deceptions because we feel there just isn’t enough vacancy in our hearts, anymore?

Should we allow our minds to navigate deeper into the cross-currents of the broader social world while we struggle with our differences? Is there really a perfect mate? And for people who have given up on searching or loving, should there exist a fundamental difficulty in trusting again? ‘Fear of series of strong headwinds, uncertain tacks, and treacherous eddies?

 

So, here I am today, August 14th 2017, exactly 20 years ago my ever so-loving-Father walked me down the hallway of The Marriage registry at City Hall Lagos, into the arms of the one true love I would ever encounter! The same bespectacled-guy I met 3.5 years earlier who couldn’t keep his eyes off my one-nation orange halter-neck romper and wouldn’t get off the wall of the newly opened Club Towers night club to dance, who’d pledged the same night jokingly ‘He would marry me someday’ on the dance floor at The Whyte’s party on Glover road and then, Oh-my-word! ‘eventually showed up at my home church, Holy Cross Cathedral by making himself comfortable in my family pew, singing Agnus Dei, like he took Latin classes in college, showing off in his brand new well ironed patterned shirt, brown suede penny loafers while driving the smallest blue car ever driven in Lagos! … #Daewoo Tico

#WE DO…then in 1997, and 20 years later…#WE STILL DO

20 3Phew! It wasn’t easy…trust me, but was worth the fight to keep on keeping on!

From the misconception of what the romantic novels we read say about marriages, to the soap operas and knowledge based books or audio we tune to! From the no-experience marriage counselors or confused life coaches sprawled all over, to the perception social media breeds about what marriage should be…that’s just 1% of the back-slap advice compared to what your destiny has to offer you…’there is no manual or directory to the quick fix we all want to know.

After decades of seeking internal peace…I’d realize Oh my goodness! I don’t know it all, He doesn’t know it all either, we are actually both still learning, and our ultimate wisdom should come from God. Alone. Period.

Isn’t it like someone giving you a relationship advice and it just doesn’t work? Their wisdom, your wisdom and my own wisdom are limited. It’s subjective and faulty. And while the implementation of earthly wisdom can and often does bring some benefit, it will not always lead us to the safety and ease we long for deep inside. Some marriages must surely pass through the burning funnel for a couple to become certified companions, while others would fall along the way if their hopes of survival is based on other people’s manual and perceptions.

20 6Let’s face it. Relationships can be cruel, Life can be scary and marriages that have refused to hit the rock after series of extended-third-party-family-or-friends-interrupters-involvement-busy-bodies melodramatic episodes have finally shut-the-front-door after them…’what’s next?

If you are reading this and wondering, How-in-the-world-did-THEY-do-it? I know right? I usually ask myself too (lol). But, God’s wisdom is perfect. It leads my heart, mind, and soul to safety and rest in a world that is filled with scary realities and uncertainties. You just have to name the challenges… We have both walked through it together…24 years and counting.

I am hoping someone reading this, at any point of their relationship would also tune in to God’s wisdom – when we hear it, yield to it, apply it and obey it – we will live in peace. Not the world’s peace – God’s peace. We will be at ease with all imperfections. Not with perfect lives, but with lives that are led and not controlled by fear and anxiousness of what tomorrow would bring in their marriages, relationships, courtship or friendship. We can and will experience peace in spite of the chaos in our relationships. Be encouraged!

Yours in HOPE as I share our wedding dance/favorite song “FOR YOU” by Kenny Lattimore.

Yinka.

 

 

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When you meet Julia, you SEE AMAZING!

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When you wake up to a new day, what do you see? Well, apart from blurry eyes and snotty noses due to sleep deprivation, congestion or insomnia, what makes you just, ‘want to keep waking up?

If you are in love, or still thinking of it, I guess you’re probably saying…’duh, my lover of course! If you are missing someone, you’d probably say…’dang! Oh precious beloved, showeth thy face!! Where hath thou!! (in your magical imaginary soberness).

And if you are like the group of people I meet weekly for support coordination therapy…’Aha! Slowly and gently rise from your slumber, squeeze your pillow and whisper into the hollow of your palm (oh please ignore your distinctive breath) and say slowly, ‘Today, I will do better, because I will See Amazing”

All said and done? Yes? C-o-n-g-r-a-t-u-l-a-t-i-o-n-s! You made it into another day! I am also cheering you on….’as I subconsciously cheer myself on too!

So, a couple of days ago, yours truly turned 45! Like…’yeah, the big 45! And I wasn’t sure if it was worth celebrating or not. Thank God for caring people around me who raised the roof and made it rock! #NoviUnconditionalLove

The much-younger me would have jumped on the next train to NYC to be consumed in the awesomeness of the city, sometimes, it’s just that train ride that does it for me, a more one-on-one time alone with me, myself and I! Just meditating  (I bet you can’t keep a city girl out of the city for long, how I missed my early years growing up amidst the hustle and bustle of a typical Lagos city amusement!) or as my parents have always dreaded all those years…’Oh, she’s started another birthday party in our living room without informing us! Phew!

But not this year… ‘This time around, it was all about Julia. The new #See Amazing kid on Sesame Street! Have you seen her? All cute and so peculiar…’representing every child with special needs…more so, Autism!

Why now? I’d ask myself over and over again. Yeah, why now Yinka?

Awareness. Acceptance. Because just as I celebrated my birthday, my childhood bosom friend and neighbor also turned 45! And happened to be the Julia we all never knew or could understand….’45 years ago!

Did we (children) know she had a unique personality? Or did we just assume she’d always been a difficult child with mental illness? Who knew about the features of a child on the spectrum then? I bet none of us did. All I knew was that I eventually got used to her mannerism as her parents were my God-parents who mentored me all through my sacramental classes at Holy Cross Cathedral then.

So, please meet Cecelia, 45, a daughter, a sister, a friend and childhood neighbor of over 40 years with autism, a rare one that survived the stare, stigma and slur but prevailed with the support of her loving and caring family in a society that condemns such ailment and is so quick to label, castigate and if possible ostracize.

Or perhaps, you also know a Cecelia?  a Julia of my generation, that stood out without condemnation even as ignorant as we were then of her uniqueness, still managed to join in the street play, still managed to attend mass every 6am with her parents, still managed to attend St. Mary’s convent, managed to get her feelings out even when she’s oppressed by lack of consistent vocalization techniques.

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Today, as I watch sesame street and I see how the world is embracing the new character of Julia – the chosen voice from the autism community, my eyes well up with tears and my heart is unable to contain the joy and excitement of knowing that finally…’every child deserves a place of acknowledgment and acceptance, and not one of isolation or disparity!  Thank you Leslie Kimmelman for the digital characterization and Stacey Gordon for the performance. Thank you autism community for starting the discussion.

When you awake to a new day, what will you be thankful for? I am grateful to God for allowing me to see amazing in every child I encounter. Tantrums and all, I still see amazing and acceptance first.

Yours in HOPE as I share Sesame Street’s ‘Meet Julia’

Yinka.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Quiet Time For “MY HEART” – 3 Days to TWC’17.

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Have you ever felt like you were being swept away by the torrential floods of life? Challenges at work, relationship drama, family issues, failing expectations, a feeling of inner restlessness, doom and gloom?

Phone rings! Loud notification alerts from our various social networks! Doorbell chimes! Neighbor’s dog barking uncontrollably, kids yelling, crying or slamming the door! Co-workers absorbed in the moment and unknowingly loud with their body language! Unhealthy noises from inside our heads, you know, the one that constantly breeds anxiety and flashes a list of things we are yet to do or yet to accomplish… ‘in a minute, an hour, a day, a week, a month, a year..

Ah! don’t we all despise that thinking ground that builds restlessness and pushes us back to our edged-corners? I know I do!   

How many times have we rehearsed that perfect smile or posture, flashing only the part we want social media to see and validate? When was the last time 50 of those 1000 make-believe social media acquaintances actually connected with us one-on-one in our everyday circumstances?

Really, think about it…’deep in our hearts aren’t we just as lost as the next person reading, drooping or envying our well-packaged-showcase! If only…

How do we silence the chatterbox-world and hear from God? Does He really know our hearts? #DiscoverQuietTime@TWC’17

Oh no! This is certainly one of those days you just need communion more than ever! Just an encouraging word! A returned handshake from a stranger or a deep bear hug that soothes and set butterflies free inside us! We all need that communication both with God and men. God can quieten our spirit and refresh our soul even in the midst of a storm! We feel blessed for having good friends, mentors and colleagues to give us insight on that painful circumstance or a different perspective about our decision on life. We need it. #DiscoverHope@TWC’17

Because, yesterday I saw men as trees; huge and dominating my emotions! oppressing my job, toying with my passion, intimidating my ministry, billowing smoke into my future plans, putting a clog in the wheel of my progress…’now had become bags of stones tied to my ankles causing me to drown in an ocean of anxiety, confusion and negative thoughts, I saw myself sinking fast in this quagmire of negative feelings. #DiscoverHealing@TWC’17

I dropped to my knees and in my very sober voice, screamed from every cell in my being, “G-o-d  h-e-l-p  m-e!  ‘Have  mercy!  ‘Did He? ‘Does He know my heart?

O yes He did! yesterday, today and tomorrow as well! That is His strategy-communion:  Either through inspiring words of wisdom and management strategy from a dear friend, an edifying message from a sister, testimonies of God’s faithfulness and prayers from a spiritual mentor, joy and reassurance from the Holy Spirit,  insight from a book and positive messages on thriving on the job. #DiscoverTrueRelationship@TWC’17

12 hours later I wonder why it took so much to lift me out and cause me to soar on the winds of renewed hope, joy, optimism and vigor? I realize He made me multifaceted and so He ensured I had communion on every level in every way I needed to…’wow!

So as we count down to the remaining 3 days into TWC’17…’I am urging every woman to take a trip down memory lane of all the things still holding their hearts captive, to look into the face of the next woman you meet on the corridor of hope and flash that real authentic smile of freedom and togetherness! #DiscoverOpenDoors@TWC’17

Let’s do our hearts a favor by allowing it to examine the things that limit or forbid our communion with God. Let’s send our hearts a message…’that it is time to go on living in the fullness it was created for; to know and accept that we are not victims ANYMORE but victors in the risen Christ!

Tell your heart that it is okay to relinquish the rogue that’s been manipulating your quiet time with God, whispering false tales of desire into your ears…’Tell your heart it is time to uproot the hurts or stories or the baggage still tying you down! Whatever hindrances are lurking  in our hearts, it is time to start building up our real healthy-infectious-smile and assume clarity of vision!

I am hoping someone reading this will understand that even if he or she may hit rock bottom today, that it is okay to discover the need for a quiet time within their hearts, that no matter how far away we have been, that our emptiness will always drive us back to Him.  #DiscoverFulfiment@TWC’17

And as we Ponder, Prepare, Pack, Park and Parade the floors of Chubb Conference center for God’s visitation this week, with acceptance and assurance in our hearts, We pray “We will no longer see men as trees or the work place as a dark mine field or our past as a threat to our future! And we say thank you in advance for…’Communion!!

Yours in HOPE as we share Donnie McClurkin’s ‘I Need You’

Yinka & Enitan

TWC’17 Workshop Committee

 

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An awareness worth accepting: Embracing AUTISM!

An awareness worth accepting: Embracing AUTISM!

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Have you recently felt a kind of jubilation within your heart upon completing a project, a job or an assignment? Self-appraisal aside, how would you score yourself? Thumbs up or down?

Did you feel accomplished? Frustrated? Burned out? Confused about your career path? Are you still wishing you could have chosen a more fulfilling goal to work towards? Do you crave for acceptance or recognition from others to celebrate your victory? How would you describe your goal-driven-desire even without achieving any of the things listed above?

A couple of Sundays ago, right after church, my girlfriends and I (Kene & Tinunke) allowed our kids to play together in the lobby as we got carried away deep in a concerned conversation about career choices and how our African parents played a huge role in strict decision making for their children!

Hmm! Tell me about it! ‘We echoed amidst deep laughter, hip slapping and a cheerful pat on the shoulder as we exchanged stories of a confusing and oppositional remembrance of our struggle to decline our parent’s choices of profession for us then! Ah, you must become a Medical Doctor! Or ‘an Engineer! Or a Lawyer! …’Lol. Thank goodness we eventually followed our heart’s desire, then or later!

After decades of enduring and attempting to be like my mother, the civil service accountant or trending after the steps of my father, the articulate site developer/Land surveyor… ‘It just wasn’t my calling…’it didn’t last long! ‘Years of boring TD classes and assorted French curves with cursive initial of AOG engraved on both sides! Long sessions of Math tutoring when really my mind was focused on watching ‘Wild Rose’ Phew!

Many people are still living stress-filled lives because they never sought and discovered God’s plan and are still trapped in jobs and careers that simply do not fit into. Every day, they feel like the proverbial round peg being jammed into a square hole – isn’t that a painful and frustrating experience? Meaning…people never experience fulfilment in their work because they are in the wrong line of work to begin with just to fulfil other’s needs!

There was a passion hidden deep inside of me, yet unraveled, but always rearing its way out of my consciousness. It has to be something greater than me and I waited…and waited…and waited…’until I set my eyes on Peter, the cutest 5-year-old boy, recently diagnosed with Autism Spectrum disorder…I became his behavior therapist…’that was 14 years ago…He was my first client as He helped pave the way for my passion working with special needs children.   #LifeGoals

So, since we are in April, and its world Autism month, ‘ask yourself…’how aware am I about the term Autism, and how understanding or accepting am I, when I relate with someone with Autism? ‘Am I tolerant and capable of coping or communicating with someone on the spectrum? What difference can I make in the life of someone with Autism? Or how can I be useful to the family of a child with Autism?

It is easier to proclaim we care about someone with a disability or illness or even carry a banner of awareness when our hearts reject all the flaws that come with it!

We sometimes carelessly use hurtful and inappropriate names (crazy, weird, awkward, sickly child or dying woman) to label others just because we feel they are vulnerable or we think we are stronger than their situation? Hello? ‘Got perfect life?

Here’s one of the 10 things a child with autism would like you to know and accept, before judging…

Listen to all the ways I’m trying to communicate.

It’s hard for me to tell you what I need when I don’t have a way to describe my feelings. I may be hungry, frustrated, frightened, or confused but right now I can’t find those words. Be alert for body language, withdrawal, agitation or other signs that tell you something is wrong. They’re there.

Or, you may hear me compensate for not having all the words I need by sounding like a little professor or movie star, rattling off words or whole scripts well beyond my developmental age. I’ve memorized these messages from the world around me because I know I am expected to speak when spoken to. They may come from books, television, or the speech of other people. Grown-ups call it echolalia. I may not understand the context or the terminology I’m using. I just know that it gets me off the hook for coming up with a reply.

By Ellen Notbohm from the book Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew, 2nd edition (2012, Future Horizons, Inc.)

We all want to be successful in our chosen profession. Whether we believe in what we do or not. Our goal is to nail it and keep moving. Your office may be downtown or just inside your front door. Your work clothes may be an elegant suit or ragged jeans and a stained t-shirt. You may be paid in cash or with crayon drawings and sticky kisses like me! It doesn’t really matter because none of these things alone makes us successful in the work place.

Our success comes from the lives we touch with real acceptance…full acceptance of all the shortcomings! #Autism Acceptance

God empowers His plan in us, but when we step into our own agenda or a plan created by anyone else, we are stepping into and relying upon our frail, limited strength. We will soon be empty and stress will flood in, filling the emptiness with anxiety and tension. Don’t waste another day just doing the “next” thing. Take a long, hard look at your work, your job, and your agenda to make sure you are in the right place – doing what you were created to do in this world.

Do more this month, volunteer to be of assistance to a family with a special needs child, and love them genuinely for life!

Yours in HOPE!

Yinka.

Autism Care Network UK

Autism Care Network, Dubai.

 

 

 

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