Why MENTOR? ‘Appraising our Flavors to Savor.

mentorTo be a Mentor is to give Counsel. To be a Referee or Whistle blower. To be a Back-seat Driver. A Monitor and Guide. A Peaceful Loud Voice, an Encouraging Mandate.

Mentoring is coaching another person through personal experience or instructing with guidelines to follow. It is like a relay race, when a runner (novice) reaches forward to grab the baton from a teammate who has run ahead of them (experienced). In return, the baton is passed back to the runner behind who is about to take off too. Our lifestyle is very much like the runners in a relay race, we all need to be reaching forward and reaching backward. Reaching and teaching! Positively!

So, sometime ago, after a planned gathering to a support group with friends from work, a younger lady approached me. Looks more like a hip, just-turned-30, Jesus-loving-chick. To my surprise, she asked if I would consider becoming her mentor. What? I thought at first… ‘You kidding me? ‘Last time I checked…I am still a work in progress! I’m WAY too young to be your mentor! (Well, literally). ‘Forget the “Chic-ness” and the “Hot-steps”. I’d chuckled.

Then I tumbled out of my illusion and back to reality, realized that I am so capable! I am a wise-on-my-good-days, seen-enough-already, slightly-imperfect-seasoned-40-something girl with a decade of life’s storms, affairs-of-the heart, marriage, mothering on her. Excitement, reservation, timidity and cold feet danced together in my heart when I prayerfully agreed. Secretly swelling with pride!

Over the years I have come to realize and accept that mentoring is very important. Because I’ve been deeply blessed, sometimes overpowered by emotion, and rightfully challenged. My wisdom does not have a price tag or color grey to prove it. My juicy tale is enough to stir an oblivious teenager back to God and a baffled relationship towards maturation!

Very well, we all need spiritual mentors to take our hands as we face life challenges. Likewise, we also need to grab hold of younger spiritual hands for the journey: to bring them along in towards the right path, to help strengthen their spiritual muscles, to encourage, teach, and admonish.

Today, I am challenging someone to prayerfully connect with one or two people this week to reach ahead. Get a mentor. Reach behind. Get a mentee. Garner wisdom. Give wisdom. Grow. Dream. Achieve! Eventually, maturity will be evidenced in your life and in the lives of those with whom you connect. Thanking God for my mentor of 30 years! Aunty Yemisi Pedro. Thanks for the snap!



Friday Night Conversation With Yinka – collection of short stories: (Terms of Endearment Part Three)

(Continued from SEPT. 20th – Part Two)

Or else… Or else… ‘heads will roll on campus!

It is Friday morning. The hustle and bustle at Onne Motor Park has never disturbed Pa Sammy until today. Traffic had started to build up. Crowds of pedestrians, market women with babies strapped on their back as they struggled with setting up their merchandise, shoppers are seen making fast strides along the pavements outside the shops or trying to cross the main road to get to the other side of the market, either looking left and right and then left again before suddenly taking off on their heel like they were being pursued by a possessed madman!

Inside Onne Motor Park, there are noises of buses and taxis hooting, the main attraction, varieties of “FOOD IS READY” shops, fabric stores, electrical goods shops, pavement stalls with small items like imitation costume jewelry sold by Mallam Bashir who hardly makes eye contact with his customers, but spends a lot of time grinning at his small portable radio that’s usually balanced on his shoulders with some strange music blasting away – whatever it is that’s booming from that radio of his, is certainly all the company he needs in a day.

Within the inner caucus of the village meeting, Pa Sammy heard that He usually carries a matchet with him, hidden secretly away under his flowing shirt. No one ever saw this, except the day Osa tried robbing him. The mark carved below Osa’s left ear had been a result of the ordeal with Mallam Bashir, even though Osa had boasted that he received the cut while defending his mother from a group of armed robbers and within days, even while the wound was still as fresh as can be, still oozing blood, stained with indigo iodine and trying to escape the cotton wool plastered on it, He’d told the same story, but changed the characters. This time, He’d boasted it was during his fraternity initiation. Again, no one witnessed this. No one ever bothered to ask Osa’s mother or his father or even his sister Ovie, or even as close as look into the blood-shot eyes of Osa’s notorious friends when they come visiting him either. But in all, the message was sent. No one ever dare mess with Mallam Bashir since that incident.

On the other end close to the luxurious bus passengers waiting area are petty goods vendors attracting customers to buy their wares. Amidst all the bewilderment, one can still relish the delicious aroma of fried cocoyam served with spicy dried fish gravy, crayfish yam porridge garnished with oziza leaves, hot deep-fried bean cake and other nice flavored delicacies floating in the air, tempting passers-by to stop for some morning refreshment.

And then, there’s the usual gathering of campus students rushing to get into the over-worked Datsun-cabs, still covered in their early morning splash-wash, dripping water as their drivers chew on sticks, adjust the rear view mirror while they also use it to view themselves as they apply Saturday Night powder on their face and under their armpits – a casual daily personal hygiene habit! While their conductors holler and bawl to get passengers in and quick. Aba road! Campus Junction! – 2 chances!!

By the entrance of the motor park on the left hand side is a giant sign, hanging above the food store, it reads: “I-J-E-O-M-A – travel well Food is Ready” owned by Madame Cecelia. And there she is, a heavy set light skinned woman, robust and cheerful, the thickness of her dark toned brown powder in contrast with the complexion of her neck, her high cheek bones, painted in cheap glossy pink, contesting with her full large lips smeared with Vaseline. Always the same look, Decorated and glamorous. Glossy and animated, but always clean. She’s married to Papso, a trader with a two-toned 504 Peugeot and a parked white V-boot he usually only drives to church during Christmas and Easter. He also has a spare part dealership store in Emenike shopping complex and also another one in Diobu, all in Port Harcourt.

She’s shouting orders across to her canteen helpers to hurry up with setting up for the day and the same time, waving away the agitated flies parading and in desperate search of a good will hunting spot. Customers were beginning to fill up the entrance of the canteen. A long line of anxious passengers waiting to grab a bite of the tantalizing oil soaked bean cake served with dough-infused bread and rush off to catch their ride.

Pa Sammy watches in bewilderment as life revolves so fast in front of him, still holding on tight to the brown envelope, as he remembered the contents of the envelope again, he quickly clutched it close to his chest, like his life depended on it. Well, today his life does depend on this envelope. He has been sitting patiently at the entrance of the lotto store, where he had managed to secure through the help of his daughter Ovie.

But as of recent, his vendor newspaper business wasn’t booming like expected.

These days, passengers usually engage him in local discussions, while they quickly and craftily glance through pages of the paper. Sometimes, he gets paid for the few pages viewed, and sometimes he has to remind them to drop something or keep moving.

His favorite customers are the campus students, who’d come, pick up “Grapevine” and any other gossip related magazine, drop off the money and tell him to keep the change. What they see in that magazine, He still doesn’t understand why anyone would derive so much joy in reading about latest gossips or about a personal issue discussed publicly. The headlines have been carefully designed to attract these college girls. “Scandal!! Ex-Senator Exposed!! Or “Trouble!! Ex-beauty queen caught in the middle of an affair” or “Lecturer in double mess” – hmm. Such humiliation!

He’d tried once to open the pages and feel their amusement as they would when they open up a gossip column and get so excited and animated. He just never understood the message behind it. All he saw were stories of rich spoilt people showing off their new houses, cars or another extravagant wedding celebrated with such annoyance and display of wealth that eventually ends up in one of the magazine he’s now selling. Thank God he wasn’t invited in the first place, how would he have managed to waste his one and only saved up green Guinea brocade for an event where he wouldn’t have been noticed anyway, but as God would have it, He gets to sell their stories afterwards. No stress for him at all.

That thought has always compensated Pa Sammy for missing out on little things of life. To think of it, headlines like the high cost of petrol, the current political issues in the country, mis-management of power and un-employment was the least of their problem. The campus students, Hmm! Why should he bother himself, so far as they keep buying it, that’s okay by him.

The usual customers that irritate him are either the group of students in Political science department or the underpaid Sociology lecturers. They usually come in fours or sevens. After greeting him, they will begin their debate on an outline displayed and begin to confuse and convince themselves with their point of view “The propaganda of the interim government policy…” and then another will chip in angrily “Nigeria’s government is facing rising religious violence in the north, a long-simmering separatist movement in the oil-rich south and now a nationwide strike fueled by widespread anger over the end of fuel subsidies seen by many as one of the few benefits of living in the largely impoverished state”

Pa Sammy will look at them, put his hands on his chest, and imagined it was his son, Osa discussing politics in a relevant way, and not conniving with gangs to cause trouble. He nods in acknowledgment with this youth whose passion and zeal for a better tomorrow was deep, contagious and rather alarming! As if they were already in the court of law or at a national assembly gathering addressing Mr. President himself – with no intent of buying the paper! In a way, He’d always enjoyed their company because they usually summarize the whole news message, makes him current and gives him a topic to discuss at his weekly town-hall meeting. But today he has a lot on his mind. If only… To be continued.






Turning Our Brokenness into a Support Channel for Others!

We have all been broken or bent. Cracked like clay, crumbled like a free doughnut and crushed by spoken words sometimes taken too personal. We have been bruised when something outlandish, far-out, unusual or peculiar happens to us. And I mean to all of us!

What do we do, when Life throws at us: Cold blankets of unexpected deals? After praying and waiting…what do we do? We stand? Who do we stand with? Who’s going to hold our hands and stand with us? And every time we clamor within our minds, trying so hard to fix it alone, we end up living in denial. Am I reaching someone?

For a moment, let’s pull aside the heavy luxurious curtain of pretense (our mindset) tie it back neatly with a new tassel (feelings) and confirm our spirituality is in place (balance). What’s left?


When we are broken, we feel like a foreigner in our own native land. Part of the reason why we shy away from getting help and latch on to a “hush-hush world” is basically because we are still afraid of either discovering ourselves through other people, and I mean, other people’s short-comings or strengths, our ability to comfort other people, and also ability to allow others to comfort us when we need it.

For some, it’s an act of weakness or pride, to show it or give it. But we all need it. Everyone needs to be comforted, one time or the other! God may very well send someone your way who needs a person who understands.


Who else can help a woman who is struggling with delayed motherhood or a wayward child other than the mother who has welcomed a prodigal child home? Who can encourage a woman going through a rough patch like the woman who has come out of that same darkness and into the light?

Who can help a woman struggling with marital discord like the woman who has seen her marriage transformed from decayed clanging cymbals of contention to a beautiful symphony of love? Who can help a woman struggling with the pain of a shameful past like the woman who has exchanged her tattered sackcloth for a princess’s robe?


Today, I am hoping that someone will say…” because I have gone through something’s (brokenness) that makes me comfort-able, I will be encouraging someone, who in turn will also encourage someone else. This week, I pray that God will show you someone who needs to know the comfort that He’s given me. Not to be ashamed to tell about the struggles we have had in our own life, but to be an encouragement to someone who needs to know that there is hope for a better tomorrow.


‘For WALKING (comforting me) and showing your support towards cancer awareness, I am truly grateful. Thank You! May we always find reasons to celebrate victory and survivorship with each other, and also remember those we lost along the way.





Sharing #2…

pablo 2

In honor of Pablo Neruda – my favorite poet. Some of the most romantic poems I’ve ever read are written by him. Neruda wrote in a variety of styles such as erotically charged love poems as in his collection Twenty Poems of Love and a Song of Despair, surrealist poems, historical epics, and overtly political manifestos. In 1971 Neruda won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez once called him “the greatest poet of the 20th century in any language.” Neruda always wrote in green ink as it was his personal color of hope.

Neruda was hospitalized with CANCER at the time of the Chilean coup d’état led by Augusto Pinochet. Three days after being hospitalized, Neruda died of heart failure. Already a legend in life, Neruda’s death reverberated around the world. Pinochet had denied permission to transform Neruda’s funeral into a public event. However, thousands of grieving Chileans disobeyed the curfew and crowded the streets.

Take bread away from me, if you wish,
take air away, but
do not take from me your laughter.

Do not take away the rose,
the lance flower that you pluck,
the water that suddenly
bursts forth in joy,
the sudden wave
of silver born in you.

My struggle is harsh and I come back
with eyes tired
at times from having seen
the unchanging earth,
but when your laughter enters
it rises to the sky seeking me
and it opens for me all
the doors of life.

My love, in the darkest
hour your laughter
opens, and if suddenly
you see my blood staining
the stones of the street,
laugh, because your laughter
will be for my hands
like a fresh sword.

Next to the sea in the autumn,
your laughter must raise
its foamy cascade,
and in the spring, love,
I want your laughter like
the flower I was waiting for,
the blue flower, the rose
of my echoing country.

Laugh at the night,
at the day, at the moon,
laugh at the twisted
streets of the island,
laugh at this clumsy
boy who loves you,
but when I open
my eyes and close them,
when my steps go,
when my steps return,
deny me bread, air,
light, spring,
but never your laughter
for I would die.

Pablo Neruda (1904-1963)




Ashley (left) and Jena

Ashley (left) and Jena

A year ago today, I lost my older sister Jena. At the young age of 29, breast cancer took her life. There are no words to describe the emotions that arise when a disease shatters your loved one’s reality with no explanation. But Jena taught me so much through her determination and courage during her fight against breast cancer.

Jena showed me – and so many others – that even in the midst of hardship and suffering there is still potential to witness generosity and compassion. She allowed me to recognize that real change can happen by one person deciding to lend support in any way that they can; because even a small act of kindness has the ability to generate an incredible feeling of hope.

Inspired by Jena’s example I found comfort, healing, and empowerment by making a recurring monthly donation in her memory to Komen Philadelphia. By continuing my sister’s legacy in this way, I know that I am allowing her story to motivate action and aid survival in the fight against breast cancer.

Please join me by giving now to help bring more hope to families touched by breast cancer.

Remember, you do have the power to make an impact! On behalf of Komen Philadelphia, my sister, Jena, and for all women and men who will find hope in your kindness, I thank you.

With sincere gratitude,

Ashley Furlong

Written for #Moving Forward With Yinka

‘Why Am I making STRIDES for a cause?


2010 Susan G Komen Cancer Awareness Walk – Philadelphia Art Museum.

Recently, my older daughter has been so excited since I announced that she was allowed to express her creative side by making her own poster and banner to display her support for awareness and also celebrate survivorship during the upcoming Annual Breast Cancer walk.

This will be my 4th year participating in the cancer awareness walk, which means it is now an accepted period where I get to drag my entire family with me. Come rain or shine! So by now, I’d figured they were used to it and are immune to community-based activities. Well, till now…Hmm!

So, to my utmost surprise the other day, my 8-year-old-son asked ‘Mommy, why do you walk? You don’t have cancer anymore! It was like a light bulb flickered on in my head! I needed to get my facts right to be able to convince and inspire this young man so he can continue to carry the torch of selflessness in service and spirit of humanitarianism, even when I am long gone…

I looked at him, went down to his level and held his hands “I walk and raise money because I believe that I am supporting an organization that helped save your mom because of their awareness campaign, commitment to fund community education and early diagnosis.

I walk because I have encountered the success of early detection, I walk because I have been on both receiving ends of a diagnosis.

I walk because I feel the pain a family goes through when they are informed about a diagnosis of cancer. I will continue to walk to honor and fight for the people who have died from cancer, or un-aware of how to go about receiving treatment, I will continue to walk to support cancer awareness, treatment and research.

During the WALK, hidden away from everyone around me, I usually get all teary but inspired by the end of the line, I get to meet over 1000 people cheering me on and I get to feel like a celebrity. Awesome!! As I walk through the finish line wearing my survivor medal (which my daughter made for me). Random people hug me, but most importantly – the finish line symbolizes a closure to pain and the beginning of a new life which is my contribution to getting closer to abolishing cancer – in all its forms.

As we get closer to the WALK day, I pray someone will seize the opportunity to find a reason to put everything on hold and join the WALK to support and raise a platform of awareness. To WALK not for recognition and not to make light of the disease, the struggle, or the loss. But to celebrate life and have people express their joy in surviving and living.

And as we all come together to WALK, let’s have in mind that we are making a HUGE difference in the one way we can. In the end, we feel like one community that is doing something extra ordinary. The experience of seeing the survivors walk into the closing ceremonies and the power and strength of those people is a life-altering moment and I feel blessed to be able to be a part of it – every year.


Written for: American Cancer Society.

Written for: TUMBLR Book Club – ‘Real Life Conversation with Yinka.



‘When Ties-Bind, How do we keep up with our Sensuality and Sexuality?

weddedLife is beautiful! You are still married, or at least someone has agreed to forsake all others and embarked on an un-foreseen journey to live with you for the rest of their lives, or didn’t that long ceremonial vow say that? Well, You are wearing the wedding band with pride and every time you remember how the proposal went, you smile…there’s a sudden sense of warmth, that naughty smirk comes alive on your face.

Ah! Life is beautiful. (you whisper to yourself) the days of courtship, the long captivating love letters that tells tales of hidden desire, the long walks together, ignoring the missed appointment, bus or train or the change in weather. The endless phone calls and stored-up voice messages played over and over again, your morning juice has never tasted better, until you hear that voice again, flashes of smiles, lingering favorite tunes played together, fond memories of holding hands while ignoring jealous onlookers, sharing one caramel swirl vanilla ice cone and making those big dreams about the future. Ah! Life is beautiful. But suddenly. It’s fast-forwarded… BOOM!! Reality bites and sinks in. Ouch!

Welcome back to the married you! How long has it been? 5, 10, 15, 20 years or more…Is life still beautiful like it used to be? How are you dealing with your sensuality in marriage? How do you embrace your sexuality in marriage? Are you even bold enough to discuss it with your spouse? Believe it or not, it is one of the greatest factor that runs a successful marriage.

A lot of people usually confuse Sexuality with Sensuality. Let’s keep this real! Sexuality is about Sex, and Sensuality is about the Senses. Stimulating the senses may lead to sex at times, but it also leads to a closer relationship with your spouse. Warm touches, even when sex is not the goal, helps your spouse feel loved, wanted and close to you.

For most of us with a diverse culture or upbringing, we are not usually connected with the right approach that we need to help us discover and navigate our sensuality in marriage. For some, discussing it is a taboo or no-go area. But it has to be addressed, for the safety of the marriage.

So, unlike the western culture that teaches young couples in marriage counselling about how to discover and excite each other through vagina monologue and body dissection, the closest some of us ever got to that topic was either during biology class in school or exposure to the terror of internet pornography that’s killing the joy of marriages today. Not realizing that later on in our married life, we could help our spouse discover us (sexually) and contribute it to a successful and happy relationship. Sex is one of the factors but not the most important factor that should be considered. It is important to know the act it contributes and that it has the ability to affect our marriage in a negative or a positive way.

Personally, I think expression of love is a very important part of sex in marriage. It has to be spontaneous, consistent and creative! ‘Not routine. It is sometimes underrated, overlooked or forgotten. Actually telling your spouse WHAT you want, HOW you want to be loved and WHERE you want to be touched is a delicate continuation act of “life is beautiful” and one that should be taken more seriously than it has been and is today.

Every marriage should be based on love. Every act of love should be creative. And this same creative love is what makes the act of sex much more meaningful and emotional for the two people involved. WHAT TO DO? The secret to having a complete sense of sexuality in your marriage is…To Be Continued!

May God help us all!


God made men and women sexual beings. He made our nervous systems capable of receiving pleasure from the sex act. Sex in marriage is good and holy and ordained of God.

Any plans for October? Anything Special? Here’s an open invitation into mine!

womanOctober is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a chance to raise awareness about the importance of early detection of breast cancer. Make a difference! Spread the word about mammograms and encourage communities, organizations, families, and individuals to get involved.

This is the month where I get super-empowered to win the cause, where I get to talk-non-stop about CANCER AWARENESS, pressure and maybe annoy some friends and colleagues with more emails and articles about early detection, a month where I get to show off all the friends I made during treatment, wear Pink like it’s the new white! ‘Remember those we lost, who couldn’t win the race but whose legacies lives on and inspires us, a month where I get to celebrate and HUG so many people at the finish line! Probably the month where I get to say more of “Yes! I am a conqueror! Only by God’s mercy!

But before then, I know we’ve all had one of those days when nothing seems to be going right. You have a bad toothache, lost a button on your way to work, bump your head, struggled with that zipper again! The ‘R’ key on your keyboard is not cooperating. The car will not start, One-hour drive takes two. A missed call from the school nurse, you and your spouse can’t seem to agree on that issue. The kids can’t seem to stop screaming. The day becomes a series of small annoyances that get under your skin. Or maybe you’re struggling with a deeper pain, a more stubborn stressor. Maybe you’ve recently experienced a difficult loss. Whatever the reason, you may want a break away from that negative feelings and bask in a brighter day. Flip the coin over, you are still blessed!

Probably what you need is an encounter with people whose morning is usually a dreadful ride to the hospital, for another round of Chemo treatment, another session of Biopsy, another period of Infusion – this is nothing compared to the annoying printer at work!

Sometime ago, at Abramson Cancer center, next to me sat a middle-aged lady who was receiving IV treatment and deep in thoughts, I don’t think she even noticed my presence. One of the oncology nurses walked over, nodded in my direction and gave us both extra pillows. With my questioning look, she urged me to go ahead and engage her if I wanted.

Every time I tried looking her way to start a conversation she will quickly look away with a disgruntled sign. I began to feel uncomfortable. About 30 minutes into our IV treatment, she looked my way and said “Honey, tell me, how do you feel when people look at you and feel sorry for you? Or when they call you hurtful names? Like…Baldy? You know…’cos am losing my hair gradually!

Ah! My heart melted, wasn’t sure if I was happy she was making conversation with me or just because I needed someone to talk to. I stretched as far as my wired-up iron IV could take me, grabbed her in my arms and held on to her for as long as I could remember. The embrace was warm, cordial and spoke volume. I looked her up in the face, using a calm tone, “Honey, it doesn’t matter – I’ve been called different names too especially behind me. Names like… “Dying Woman” “Sick lady” but guess what? ‘Am still living and looking great!

But really, I said, looking down at the gorgeously crafted emerald-green diamond ring she has on her feeble finger, I tilted her face up and said “Sweetheart, even God knows you will eventually be bald someday, that’s why He made you a “drop-dead-gorgeous-baldy! Especially with this ring you have on! ‘You sure are one parade of envy and beauty to behold! That line made the blood rush from her neck to her face, she swallowed quick and hard, which gave way to reveal the cutest dimples ever! “Really? She asked… I grabbed my bag, pulled out my small compact mirror and shoved it at her face… ‘Here look inside…you are wonderfully created by God! That moment, the spell broke! The floral bandana covering her head came tumbling down!

We became children again. We giggled and laughed so hard we started shedding tears. Tears of ‘Thank-God-you-feel-me” and not “feel-sorry-for-me” joy. The nurses came around, with questioning looks and amazement and of course that silly scene earned us extra free hospital-pack graham crackers and cranberry juice!

So, we all face difficult times that make us want to shelter our hearts. When people we love hurt us, it is a natural reaction to want to shield ourselves, and put protection around our hearts, to keep pain from entering. A shut down heart makes it impossible to open up and allow in happiness, great opportunities, and good people. However, when we open our heart, we have room for growth, forgiveness, and change. Most of all, we can let love in, again. To open our heart to someone means exposing the scars of the past. When pure sincerity forms within, it is outwardly realized in other people’s hearts.

This month, I am hoping that someone will humbly give genuine and unconditional love. To make this month a memorable one by reaching out to a just cause and be proactive. Like my dear friend “Ms. Baldy” who even during her chemo treatment was still able to open up and love again. I am so looking forward to seeing her at the upcoming walk – where I can HUG her again and remind her about how beautiful she’s still looking, bald or not. She’s a living testimony to connect with. Do something extra ordinary this month, Encourage someone with sincere humor, Support a just cause! Donate, Advocate, or Walk with me during the 2014 Making Strides for Breast Cancer awareness on OCT 18th.

Yours in Hope…