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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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What MY HEART needs to know…TWC’17.

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They say “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” I-n-t-e-r-e-s-t-i-n-g! Would that be through food or tummy rub? Hmm. Just thinking-out-loud here!  #TimeToRefresh

I am yet to come across the proverb about the way to a woman’s heart, or is the way INTO her more important? flowers? empty promises? trust?  #TimeToRenew

But a woman’s heartfelt emotions never lie, even though she hides the bruises under her sleeves, her heart never stops beating, even when crushed by mere words. #TimeToRestore

In my Aunt’s house in Port Harcourt, where I spent my young adult life while in the University…’there is a huge kitchen, women around the kitchen table and topics that turns heads.

Young and vibrant as I was then, I couldn’t wait to fall in love and prove to them that their talk was cheap…or so I thought!

In that kitchen, there were always women who came to visit my Aunt from different walks of life for motherly advice: There were the single and high maintenance, married and moody, separated, divorced, recently rejected, frequently abused, hidden scar carrier from youth, runaway bride and complicated relationships.

Some came glamorously dressed in their flashy cars while some had to trek or take public transportation with a cranky crying baby strapped on their back. They were always inside the kitchen talking or standing by the sink wiping away tears.

And in the hearts of those women, there was always CONFUSION, HELPLESSNESS & FEAR.

Fear that this time around that mastered recipe of life won’t work for their current circumstances.

That the man who promises love and life would never propose! Or think they are not good enough!

That the single young adult girl will walk down the aisle only when she’s ready, and not when the society dictates or  calculates her biological clock!

That the man in their life will leave his meal unfinished and their marital bed untouched!

That the man they think they know will soon find pleasure in someone else’s arms or home!

That probably she has served him too much affection or not enough. That he is already too full of life, or hungry for something or someone else, and that it will be their fault.

That the womb that’s been praised so much would begin to alert restless in-laws to raise eyebrows and question the delay of childbirth or the loss of a baby?

That the wide beaded hips that swayed to the beats of the drum he so much-loved to hold would never carry the weight of his off springs?

That her place and destiny to propel would never be supported due to His insecurity or male chauvinism!

That the cold hands of death would ever separate them… so soon!

Matters of the heart of a woman may be hidden or tucked away behind the soft succulent tissues of her bosom; covered with fancy fabric woven with care, but also attacked by the  fingers that created the woolen fabric!

I don’t know about you, but for me, I want my heart to know it is okay to heal and beat again… ‘that just like any woman reading this right now to know that:  Hidden behind my skin so fair, soft and tender, that part which has been cracked once and still healing is finally ready to show the world… ‘I GOT THIS” by God’s grace!

So, as we begin to countdown to the upcoming TWC’17 on April 27th to April 29th 2017, permit me to indulge you in some surprises in store: IMG-20170330-WA0012

What should YOUR HEART expect at TWC’17 ?

  • That its time to put the past behind you and…’REFRESH, RENEW & RESTORE

  • Relax in a luxurious 2 night stay at a beautiful golf resort/conference center

  • Get served Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner…’just as you like it!

  • Participate in a One-on-One counselling to discuss those topics we keep locked up

  • Engage in Me-Healing sessions: Will I be heard? Who gets what I am going through?

  • Listen to inspiring ministration from speakers and worship team

  • Indulge in Girls night!! Shhhhhhhh. It’s a surprise! #WeGotGameNight

  • Comedy night.., ’maybe laughter and good jokes is really all a girl needs to warm up her heart! #GuessWho’sComingTonight #FemiObama

  • Workshops & Breakout sessions

  • Support group building and bonding for challenging workplace issues

  • Morning power-walk and Zumba session

  • Share your story and inspire others… #ShareYourStoryInPhilly

As you read this, ask yourself…  ‘What is a valued centerpiece in my heart? Is my heart an arbitrary harbor of commotion? A solitary confinement for hope…ONLY I bear the burden deep inside as I suffer and smile to portray a perfection that is nonexistent? Does anyone care?

Have you ever considered that perhaps God isn’t longing for you to come to Him with perfect, polished prayers, with fifty-cent words and flowery language? Have you thought about the pleasure God experiences when you simply approach him just as you are, fragments, bruises, warts and all, because He loves you? He delights in your attention. He takes pleasure when you come to Him simply because you are His.

Total Woman Movement has a spot waiting for you. Join the movement today! www.totalwomanmovement.com

Yours in HOPE

Yinka.

 

 

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Creating space for the time of your life: Introducing Total Woman Conference 2017

ret-4Is it almost time already? Another upcoming all-women-lets-talk-about-us-gathering? Oh-my-goodness! I am so pumped up with vigor and vitality, even I am amazed at the rate at which I have surpassed my exercise goals to date! #CurvyGoals

I am getting my body in shape and looking forward to more jubilation with the girls and at the same time cleansing my mind for all the goodies it will be receiving at the electrifying upcoming Total Woman Conference 2017!

Come Thursday, April 27th to Saturday 29th 2017, do you know that the beautiful two-toned pastel decorated hallways of Ace conference center at Lafayette Hills in Pennsylvania would again be hosting yet another rewarding and even more gratifying 3 days/2 nights women only conference? Organized by the acclaimed Total Woman Movement? #SoExcitedForTWC2017

So, if you are like me, who’s super-honey-crisp apple-high, excited and almost packing for the event; #Accept-My-TWM-High-five!

logo-twOr if you are still wondering or contemplating what’s up with this year’s conference that requires your precious time away from your preferred activities, your hard earned money or the invasion of personal space as you share a room… You-are-not-alone but in for the thrill of a lifetime with other ladies who are on fire for God and ready to help you spell the word “HELP” by just revealing the secrets of splendor in togetherness!

Do you know that as you read this, the founder and planning committee of TW Movement are busy working day and night to create a personalized “go-ahead-and-flourish baskets-workshop” just because you are fondly thought of? #Special.ret-6

They are so thrilled that you will be making time out of your busy schedules to mingle and network with other ladies who have journeyed through life’s experiences and are overflowing with available and tangible resources to help you move forward to the next level in life #Seasoned

Am talking about women who have been there, done that and are finally at peace, established and rooted in the comfort of their gifting, excelling in all profitable aspects of life and are ready and equipped to pass the baton over to you #Settled

This year’s conference promises…’nourishing, fulfilling tools we need as women and that extra burst to push past our finish line! It promises not to just scratch the surface but to delve deep into the roots of the emotional, financial, marital, career and entrepreneurial aspects of our lives. WE COME TO BE TRULY EMPOWERED TO MOVE, It promises closure to those open wounds we have been fanning for too long! It promises to build up our hopes in times of hopelessness as it gently leads us up and out of our fixation by guiding us into the new “all we can be us”.

ret-2This year’s conference promises to walk down with you to the root, deal with that, walk you up the fruit, deal with that, and walk you up to the mountain top and giving you what it takes to remain there. #ToolsToExcel

So many lessons and treasured memories I have received from the past TW conference, and so many more I am anticipating at the upcoming 2017 Total Woman Conference…the question is are you ready to create space for that time of your life with TW Movement?

It’s one thing to keep attending seminars and workshops religiously without getting the message and putting it to work thereafter! Finally saying ‘Oh, so this is it! Or “Oh yeah, I got this”, ‘Isn’t it time for us to walk out of a conference and confidently look our demons in the eyes and say OK now, I got this, you’ve got to go!! – Literally, isn’t that the reason why we come together in the first place? To help each other kick out the strongholds, nourish each other with tools needed to move forward and exit the seminar with a satisfied smile on our faces?

We come in with a burden, we walk out lighter with strategies to move to the next level!

Are you on a career path that seems to lead nowhere and wondering how to switch or re-direct your purpose? Is it a difficult relationship or a marriage about to hit the rocks? Or that incident from the past, that’s now a mental health issue but too embarrassing to discuss? Is it still brewing? Did you experience being raped, rejected or relinquished? Hmm, believe me Sisters, You are not alone!ret-7

Would you like to discuss how to achieve stability as a single mother or a widower? Are you looking for a path to recovery? Are you a care giver of a special needs child or family member, overwhelmed but fully obligated to keep on living? Intimacy discussions and how to set the mood right for a happier marriage? Are you seasoned and experienced? The younger ladies might learn a thing or two from you!

Ladies!! We are all either natural rule-followers or rebels, we try to live our lives righteously and then allow grace to come in when we don’t. We repent and thank God for His grace when we miss it knowing we have been redeemed by His mercy. Are we not so special and settled when we live freely from the bondage of falling short? So why are we still living in the past?

How many times have we had a voice saying to us ‘Just look at the mess you made?  See what you did? I told you not to do this, and you didn’t listen to me! Now look at you! ‘Instead, God reached down into our holes, lifted us up and out of it, and He dusted the dirt and shame off us! Even hugged us with the most loving and comforting embrace, with no sign of bitterness, disappointment, or anger. #Settledret-1

Is that not grace? God’s unconditional love and forgiveness in our life, especially when we don’t deserve it.

Today, if you are reading this! Do-your-victory-dance! Hooray!!’because…

You are being invited to a one of a kind Holistic Conference!

TWC 2017 is here!! To help you move out of your perceived comfort zone, to take charge of the task ahead of you, live life to the fullest by God’s grace! Which is that same freedom we are called to live in.  #BeSecuredSettledSatisfied

More to come…

Yours in HOPE!

Yinka.

*** For more information and signing up, visit: http://www.totalwomanmovement.com

 

 

 

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Does Ignorance breed Hatred?

race-1One thing is always constant in our memory. How we treat people, and how people perceive us. Since we are not all wired alike due to differences in our background and cultural beliefs, we tend to allow our biases be the appraisal tool or the judgmental stick ever presented, but never represented in its right content.

Is there a pathway or an escape route for being classified as different? Because I don’t Look like you? Think like you? Talk like you or Move like you qualifies me as a lesser being or just simply unqualified?  #AllLivesMatter

Have you ever found yourself fidgeting or uncomfortable when certain topics are discussed? Like the first time you fully understood the real meaning of racism as ‘being deprived of equality? Have your emotions been all over the place about the recent Presidential election? Excited? Astonished? Confused? Is it enough for anyone to fall into the ravine of worry, anxiety, and outright fear?    #HopeLives

Do you recall the first time you literally felt a sharp stab in your chest because you were treated differently? You checked yourself out over again! You blurted out subconsciously like a queen-bee about to be dethroned from her colony “Ah, is it not me?

race-4You must have had positive energy, but was rather served with negative vibes of unfairness and a bias attitude. Perhaps, it wasn’t intentional, but H-E-L-L-O! ’It was a discriminative slur, relatively condescending and the message surely hit home. Period.

For some few seconds, did you quickly gasp for air or cough into your palm, secretly smelling it to see if your breath was the culprit or if the perspiration caused from the invisible slap had dribbled cold sweat to your perfectly deodorized-armpit, did it play a role in this brutal emotional abuse? Or maybe all of a sudden, you finally realize that your skin color differs? Oh, could it be gender issues? Or maybe it’s the textured foreign accent that sold you out? Your ‘Rs” and “Hs” not aligning with your lingual heredity. Aha! You-are-busted!

Whatever form of prejudice you have encountered…’permit me to welcome you to the baffled world of disparity, distinction and divergence! Scholarly referred to as “different” but sophisticatedly acknowledged as racism, sexism, classicism or any of the other “ISMs”! And in a layman’s language: #Outcast

race-7During my elementary school days at CCS Victoria Island Lagos, Nigeria, my dark-skinned creative art teacher, Mrs. Benson wanted something different for the upcoming yearly prize giving day. Usually, I was always on the front line of the ever melodious Hausa/Fulani cultural dance group. I always looked forward to being thrown up in the air during the “Dan Mani O” dance or when am given the lead role to twist my tiny waist and begin the dramatic ‘Tama-yaki-tama’ dance!

There’s something sensual and feminine about the way we cover our faces with our beautifully intricately painted hands, smiling shyly, pulling the scarf to cover our innocent baby face as the groomed make-believe Fulani herds boys (mostly consisted of the 4 Akwa-Ibom boys in my class) holla in salute to our indulged innocence. The glittery dangling gold-plated bangles on our skinny wrists, the catchy black eyelids lined to perfection, revealing the unknown cat eyes we were too young to understand was there! #Hilarious

But, she had specifically declared she wanted an Indian-cultural dance group! – Hmmm…’Oh-ok! And was only selecting “Beautiful”, “Light skinned-Girls with long silky hair”. So happens my school did have about 70% kids who were of mixed heritage, what we called half-caste then, and honestly, with my Brazilian-heritage surname, I was classically considered mulatto? Or so I thought until I wasn’t selected! Oh Snap!

race-12Eventually, I still managed to shine on stage during my Hausa/Fulani dance, but as young as I was then, I was so heartbroken for being discriminated against. After all I knew all the latest Indian songs by heart, I had always sneaked out with my big sister to watch Indian movies at Plaza cinema when Mom’s not aware! In fact, I could have sworn that Amitabh Baachan and Shashi Kapoor acknowledged my commitment! (Lol)

Why wasn’t I selected to represent their culture? Ah! Was it because my mom had annoyingly made my natural hair that week with the black glossy thread (I always hated that local hairdo anyway!) And I honestly blamed my hair stylist, Sisi Joyce! (The Obalende hair-lady who had gone away to have her 6th baby)! Maybe my hair wasn’t silky and long enough like my adorable big sister, ‘Bopo who had such beautiful rich textured long hair, one to die for? Or maybe, I just wasn’t good enough?

hairWhat-was-the-selection-criteria? I wondered and contemplated and needed to understand why I didn’t fit into that group? After all, Chizo Njoku was selected, yeah! And we both had the same hair style, and if anything she was really dark-skinned! (PS: Chizoba dear! pardon me) LOL!

What made them more qualified and me less capable? Asking my mother didn’t help the issue, she was more curious and concerned that I didn’t join the Igbo dance troupe!  Seriously!!  #TribalIssues

So, chances are all of us have all dealt with one kind of discriminatory episode or the other in our lives, but then as we get older, the term begins to get more softened or intimidating. We tend to learn from it, grow with it or die in denial about it.

There is a common ground we tend to create when we encounter people of a different race or culture during a challenging period of our lives, one that’s always beyond our control.

race-5Through our journey in life, we must have encountered one or two people who deeply touched us positively or negatively and are not of the same racial background like us, and vice versa. Did we recognize that common ground of interest that created the bond or lack there of it, initially?

For me, I’d learned to set into motion the reality of fighting acceptance at an early stage, I‘ve learned to rely on my strength by using my God-given ability to dust off discrimination of any form I encounter. I have learned to walk up straight and tall with confidence and genuine power of authority as I have been so blessed to lead a corporate world that limits the voice of the minorities! #RIPGwenIfill

I’ve learned not only to ignore the underlying slurs of weakness in ignorant people around me, but shaking off  doubt and seeing it as a stepping stone of advancement for what I believe in. I’ve learned to walk into crowded seminar halls full of people who did not look or sound like me, to give presentations or teach clinical programs on topics that keep my audience  alert, awake and in tears at night concerning issues of their well-being or the life span of their children. I’ve learned to leave outside the door any form of distraction or bitterness that comes with the history, but focusing and creating a deep devotion for what I believe in, and making them crave for my worth rather than wonder on what kind of specimen or gene I am made of!  #StrongBlackWoman

What about you? How do you handle discrimination? Has it ever occurred to you that we are “still” waging an eternal war on equality and basic human right?

You see, as boring as history is today, one story considered valid in one classroom, at one time, and in one place will not necessarily be considered so in another classroom, at another time, and in another place. Our test of humanity contains the true-false item we all refuse to accept. If we are defined by the restoring, forgiving grace of God, not by our past choices, others’ voices, or our present struggles. Shouldn’t we be reminded of the value God sees in us?race-6

In Langston Hughes’s book “Ways of white folk’s (Cora Unashamed) I learned the defeating rage of vengeance on how long and frustrating it was to wait to get behind closed-doors to finally vent, after being ridiculed and humiliated for years in public. Oh Yes!

How many times have we debunked classicism (dignity and elegance) as “not in my clique” kind of experience, even in the smallest informal settings we find ourselves?  Just like my Father would say continuously when enraged about the corruption in the distribution of land ownership “My daughter, hmm’ They can’t buy class” – I thought money could? Oh-My-word!

Or have we given up on the fight on racial discrimination and would rather hang around only those we are “comfortable” with or there are possibilities of having a biased mindset about the other ethnic group due to their contexts or culture? Are we terrified of Individuals from diverse subgroups such as those defined by race, ethnicity, gender, culture, language, age, disability or socio economic status?race-2

Today, I guess religion and politics will always be biased areas because a line has been drawn in the sand and everyone must choose a side which creates that bias. But this shouldn’t be for equality, it should be unbiased and fair as possible.

I am hoping that someone reading this, as they go through one of those “less than trusting” days, be reminded that God is still in control. Yes, God does give us the risky gift of choice, but He is still sovereign and sitting on His throne. Still in doubt?

Moving forward, let’s enter a new phase and stage of life, we can be confident that God goes before us. Because of whatever circumstances we are facing, all we see is an unknown but rather intimidating future ahead of us, would you think the state of the economy is all in the rebellion against the elites? While, others suffer for it?

Are there complications that have your heart grieving and sifting through ashes? Perhaps you are trying to keep a stiff upper lip and carry those broken burdens quietly? Equality, Immigration or Generalization issues?

race-10Let’s enlighten ourselves some and shed the ignorance that so glaringly blinds us from the burning reality that surrounds us. Ignorance like darkness, clouds one’s judgment and leads one into a maze of fear, doubt, intimidation, uncertainty, confusion and if we are not careful a state of total anarchy.

The reality is that we live in a broken world. Trials and trouble are a byproduct of that brokenness. Shouldn’t we be pleading with God for an exemption clause? However, I have discovered an amazing truth that makes it easier to face every shattering moment that lies ahead, to keep HOPE alive in the CHANGE I choose to be!  #ChangeIsTheOnlyConstant

Yours in HOPE as I share one of my favorite quotes by VP Joe Biden (Uncle Joe)

Yinka.

‘No fundamental social change occurs merely because government acts, it’s because civil society, the conscience of a country, begins to rise up and demand-demand-demand change’The Real Joe Biden – an accomplished statesman and deceptively eloquent orator.

 

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Accepting the “Shift in our Atmosphere”

camp-5When something exciting and unexpected jumps at us during one of those cloudy days of our lives, how do we manage the emotion?

Have you ever questioned or struggled with certain circumstances that sometimes come to you suddenly as a pleasant surprise, a shocking revelation or a hurdle of nerve-racking challenges or indecision? A test or a leap of faith?

So, the moment my father’s powder blue Volkswagen Beetle drove off the visitor’s parking lot of Rima house (my hostel), I knew one thing was certain that day! I-was-doomed!

1-     Maybe Mr. & Mrs. Gansallo were not my real parents after all (I was probably adopted or kidnapped as a baby)  or

2-     Maybe my mother, being the tough Up Bendel’ woman she claimed she was, was just at her best to frustrate me and drive me to my early grave! While my father, all dressed up in his favorite Cuban shirt was too terrified of showing his emotion in public, and of course, didn’t want his wife to nag him all the way back to Lagos, reminding him of how much He had spoiled me rotten!  Phew!camp-4

I was just 11 years old, and my parents had just dropped me off in the deepest forest, concentration-camp-like boarding school, about 400 kilometers away from home!

Who does that? How did I get here? Why do I have to travel far away for secondary schooling? All the way…to FGGC, Sagamu! Ogun state. Whatever happened to schools down the road from my house?

OMG! They really hated me! I thought to myself as I cried myself to sleep that night on my upper bunk bed, Ohhh, so even my pet name “Atupa Parlor” (the glowing lantern in a room) didn’t mean anything to them again. I-have-been-robbed-emotionally!! 😦

In my solitude and grief, I found comfort in the company of about 50% of my old classmates from primary school who were also dropped off by their parents, who had also driven back to Lagos, smiling happily and about to enjoy all the luxuries we were missing here at the boarding school.

It took me days to adjust to the tons of rules passed down by Madame Chaudhry, my bulbous Indian house mistress, the early morning bells, the sluggish and sleepy-eyed tweens and teenagers in fancy oversized nighties or awkward red-checked house wear, the long walk to the massive dining hall where breakfast is usually consumed as fast as it takes to say the grace, the mandatory early morning assembly gathering as our beautiful flawless light-skinned British-accent VP (Mrs. Odusote) begins her ‘oh-not-again speech!

‘Girls! Girls!’ ‘Wake up to your future” or “Oh dear! Bad Girls,  My heart bleeds for you…blah bla bla!camp-6

That’s the moment I always remember my parents actually did something great for my future. Yeah, dropping me off in the middle of nowhere to emerge a doer amidst the craziness behind those tall walls overnight. Such transformation! From that fragile, tiny over-pampered girl into a grab-the-horn and move-it woman! – all by the grace of God.

Today, here I am eagerly packing and sending my 10-year-old son off to his school’s 5th grade science club camp, deep into the woods and pure lakes of Michigan. Aha!

Here I am feeling my heartbeat double and triple as I merge into the season of change that’s launching God’s plan for my desire, reflecting on my own younger days away from home, diving into the grace to start well and end well, leaving the past behind and summoning on courage to continue the journey, of my main purpose of leaving home!’ but even this kido isn’t moved or sober or afraid of change. He’s elated! Oh Vinny! 😦

And am here freaking out and remembering the day I had to push all of him, 9lb+  out of me that early morning in April at Pennsylvania Hospital!

“Mom, wake up to your future! I will be just fine!camp-1

That was all I needed to hear to bounce back to reality. My VP’s piercing words of advice “Wake up to your future” That was my lesson and the booster I needed afterwards that made me travel another 1,000 kilometers away from home to attend college and even further and further as destiny calls…

If you are reading this and feel a kind of disconnection to your dreams or passion or niche for life, honestly ask yourself…‘Am I waking up to my future? or ‘living it in my dreams?’

You see, because you know you want something! You deserve that GOAL! You crave that PATH! ’It breathes and oozes your name in every aspect, it speaks your language and has your DNA of perfectionist spread all over it! But you aren’t really prepared for the pomp and pageantry that could come with it. That was my own personal excuse for years..

camp-7The crowd cheers you on, you’re like a super star in your little corner, a small fry in a broken pan…a small fish in a big lake, the bill board has your image space vacant, its waiting for you.. ‘but what’s holding you back? Are you also afraid of taking that bold step into your assigned destiny? Are you afraid of Change? The journey? Transition issues?

The carving process called change knocks us into a deep slumber of uncertainties…maybe, well maybe it isn’t time yet! Or maybe I will wait and wait…till the baby boomers launch your ideas in their retirement plan!

How do you manage change or adjustment or transition? Do you look at it as an avenue to finally launch your life’s purpose or could it be that you are God’s brewing subject in the making all the while? So happens that, NOW is just the right time and right place! You just never saw it coming. Did ya?

Or, have you ever gone through a period of discouragement or disappointment? because you tried once and it failed? Perhaps you’re in one right now. Believe me, I’ve been right there with you. Trust me, I’ve hidden in the cave with Elijah, under the gourd plant with Jonah, and finally sneaked into the desert with Moses. #FearOfMovingForward

Our fear and discouragement of accepting a change comes when there is a gap between what we always expect and what we eventually experience, like when there is a gap between what we hoped would happen and what actually does happen. #GreatExpectations

Believe me, our blessings is hanging in the atmosphere. It’s the move or shift we ignore everyday.

garlicAre we aware that there are people God places in our path for an eternal purpose? The beauty salon or barber shop stylist you patronize needs to see God’s love in your smile.

That unplanned stop where you run into an old friend who needs encouragement is really an opportunity sent by God.

You get a text or email from an unwanted friend and ignore the burden of a lonely soul, Does she/he need to know that you care … so she can know God cares?

Where are we looking? Behind us? At things of the past that make us cringe in fear for the future we don’t know, are we still reveling in the glory of a past long gone? Let’s look for God in our circumstances … in the people we meet … in the unwelcome intrusion of a neighbor … in the infuriating behavior of a co-worker or the exasperating antics of a teenager.

camp-9‘Moving forward, onward or along is an acceptable shift for our atmosphere.

Rooted to the same circle of confusion is a deadly disease we take for granted, because it’s a safe prescription and a very cheap one to manage. ‘We are what we MOVE.’ – Yinka.

If you are meeting resistance in your hopes and dreams, then you’re most likely on the right track. Because the devil wouldn’t mess with you if you weren’t a menace to his plans and a valuable asset to God. #Goals

Today, I am hoping someone will wake up to their future plans by turning their dreams into reality. By turning uncertainty into sureness. Take the risk and make it happen, surprise your dreams by dragging it into the future.

I am hoping that someone will eventually let go of debilitating discouragement, procrastination, fear of change or just plain old-fashioned waiting on someone for a move first, and take hold of their next shift! Change is the only constant.

I know I just did by moving forward into my next assignment in life, and still in AWE of God’s goodness.

In my conversation with God and my daily journal, I’ve had to pinch myself back to reality saying “No human could have done this for me, But God did!  All because of His mercy and compassion, overlooking my craziness, errs and mishaps, He picked me out to be moved and used for his glory! and is still moving me forward”. #Praises

**Thanks again to everyone who made my transition easy! Wow! ‘am still beaming with love and affection for the book I received during the ‘love-filled see-you soon send off dinner’ ‘I appreciate it.

“It would be all so easy if you had a map to the Maze.

If the same old routines worked.

If they’d just stop moving “The Cheese.”

But things keep changing.

-Spencer Johnson, M.D.  “Who Moved My Cheese?

Yours in HOPE as I share Jason Nelson’s ‘Shifting The Atmosphere”

Yinka.

 

 

 

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Living in a Tabloid-Infested World (Marriages and Relationships)

new 5Until you have experienced monsters, mayhem and mind-blowing-murdering-brawl in your marriage, every talk about “happily-ever-after” is just a joke!

But things could get better or worse, Right?

Even if you are celebrating recovery from overcoming hurts, hang-ups and habits from a sour relationship’ every life coach or love expert might as well go-jump-into-the-lagoon-with their “pocket-sized-advice” #Talk-To-The-Hands! (eyes rolling in utter disgust!)

Or when you hear of another marital discord or relationship break up in the news or through your favorite social media news feed, do you panic in forbidden excitement of what could have happened?

Do you crave for more juicy and gory details of how it finally collapsed? ‘Especially when there’ve been so much signs and tales of the doom day in the making?

love me 1Do you get jaw-dropped-drooling when you see those fantastically orchestrated display of fake and formed affection between lovers on social media and get frustrated at their outward display of fronting or intimidated that your own lover isn’t calling you boo or bae or one of those petty silly names and not a show-off superlative lover or romantic like theirs? #InstagramShowOff   #FacebookFakePerception

Aww!! Don’t get mad. Be glad you’re not part of that staged game!

Could someone please remind me that courtship is the fantasy land we lavish on soulfully, blindly and recklessly while marriage is the real thing-lifetime do or die institution? Everyone is admitted based on their initial feelings, initial agenda or initial determination, not fully aware of the consequences and sacrifices to be made. You either pass, fail, repeat or retreat! The choice is yours! Let’s keep it real, marriage is a tough institution! Period!

Seems like we forget in a hurry that every real marriage or relationship has its own appointed season of doomed-roller-coaster turbulence and sometimes requires plenty of space and measurable pace to heal and grow? Even the best marriage counselor text-book coping strategy just won’t cut it? ‘Am talking about the “Oh, no you didn’t”, “That’s It, I can’t take this anymore! Am out of it” moments.  Phew!

love 2mEvery married-couple I know play their amateur scripted part at one point or the other during their life time together. No denial or finger-pointing here. Most of the time either to prove a point to the world…like “Trust me, I got this covered! “Hey, look at us, we are still happily in love or just managing whatever is left! Any witness? Lol!

Okay…Nice… I think we all like that we can wear a mask every now and then to fool the world! But for how long can we pretend and hide behind the facade? Living in oblivion, but behind closed doors facing the reality? Pretending that everything in our marriage is purrfect!! When, it isn’t? Allowing social media to help boost our hidden insecurities and keeping up appearances? Who are we trying to fool? #shoo!

You see; a typical sophisticated glamorous churchgoer looks on with disdain as the winsome “I-love-Jesus” bracelet worshipper next to her raises her hands and sings with reckless abandonment. But secretly, in her heart of hearts, I wonder if she longs for that same marital/relationship freedom? What if she muses before commonsense pushes the wonderings aside? Especially when she’s been played on emotionally or physically? And what’s the church doing about her state of mind? Knowingly and unknowingly?

One of the lessons I learned from my parents, who by the way are still married andlove me 2 together 53 years and counting after several decades of hilarious family drama was T-O-L-E-R-A-N-C-E!

I’ve had to ask my mother..

How do you do it, this woman? ‘Why are you still married, eh? Aha, me I can’t take such nonsense oh! (I would boast in my immature voice of a young adventurer with a deep sigh of disgust!)

“Ah, it gets better” (my mom would respond with a smile, one that reveals a survivor’s un-told story like one of Terry McMillian’s characters).

What Exactly? I would ask with a cynical look. The pattern of sex? Adaptation or Tolerance? Fatal attraction or physical distraction? Which one precisely? Or its okay to be bombarded by fly-by knights? Dis-tasteful attackers?

new 2Of all the hardest lessons I learned in my own marriage was struggling with accepting the fact that…’I can’t fully change my husband! whatever the illusions I’ve created of “the perfect man” was just a fantasy. #AintNoKnightInShinningArmour

I had to learn that only God can touch his heart and change him, in His time, for His purpose, only. No matter how much we get to wish for a little bit of this or a little bit of that in that partner…we still have what we have, the issue at hand is..’. Learning to let it work out for our good while we strive to be all we can for ourselves…living life with a purpose to fulfil destiny by being valuable to self, as the transformation emerges. And leaving the rest to God.  #DiscoverPassionInSelfWorth

No feminist value here, just common sense survival kit from my 23 years of knowing Kevin, my husband. We’d learned to invest in ourselves-together, pursuing our passion together and not consumed by all the faults and flaws from our past, learning to detach from the triggers of the demons along the way…

new 3So, here I am this month celebrating my 19th-year wedding anniversary and content with my life. Oh-My-Word!! It hasn’t been a smooth sailing 19 years of our married-lives together, but an eye-opening, challenging and educative 23 years of unconditional friendship! And we are still learning and growing and dealing with the hurdles together which makes us appreciate our differences.

Years of waiting for conception and several miscarriages and frequent hospital admission and cries of babies and diagnosis and surgery and build up tension and family impact and losses and gains! has made me more appreciative of all the things our past has taught us! Good or bad…at the end of the drama that comes, we are still together!

Today, if you are reading this and either Married, Single, Divorced, Separated or just confused about being alone or with someone, especially with how cruel and intimidating social media has portrayed perfect-picture-marriages that wake up in glamour and go to bed in dirt and depression, flashing make-belief images of their lives together, only for the tabloid to pick up their bitter crumbs….The world is watching!

Let’s ask ourselves, is there a smile on our face that stirs others to want to join in and experience those moments of sudden glory or grief? Is there a scowl on our brows that make others turn away because the “mandated religious life” of keeping up appearance is too hard? Too boring? Too restricted? Do our hidden scars of inadequacy, insecurity and overbearing feelings in our marriages still keep us rooted behind that door? Are you a “prized trophy” in your relationship or is your marriage a staged one?new 1

Today, it’s not about counting wrong doings, hurts, dwelling on missed opportunities of what could have, should have or would have been or even how many times extra marital-cum-extra-curriculum-activities have played their parts in our lives, and how we’ve allowed it.

For me, it’s more of the lessons I am able to take away from it, understanding why and how ‘Big Hurts Have Opened the Door to freedom…

Doors which a lot of married people today are so afraid of going through, so afraid of approaching it. Either to save face, fulfil family/personal obligation, they hang inside, suffer inside, survive inside, pretend inside, and develop multiple personalities, all because of deprivation of self-worth behind that door.

But for how long?

I am hoping someone reading this will dig deep into their main purpose of the union and discover each other, for each other without limits!  I am still here because I believe I am God’s work in progress. What about you? #Goals   #DealWithIt

Issues of Undeveloped Emotions, Unresolved Conflict and Unmet Needs will need to be dealt with and forgotten before bruised hearts and damaged egos become cold hearts, and after a while with no help, turns into hardened hearts that wander in lonesome misery and commitment trap, the new title for the 20th century marriage and a sex crazed culture we live in. Discover what lights up your Fire, either in your marriage or relationship or discover your self worth and light it up! #JustBelieve  #NotImpossible!

PS: I’m wishing a Happy 5th Wedding Anniversary today, to the most amazing and genuine couple ever! (You know who you are, Love you much Y & M!). 

Yours in HOPE as I share Pink’s “Just Like Fire”.

Yinka.

 

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Approaching the Elephant in our room.

DSC_0919Here I am trying to breastfeed my 2 month-old-baby, MY GOODNESS!! She’s making such a fuss! It seems like she’s having difficulty latching on or even not sure how to work my nipples! I smiled and said to myself, “Oh, it’s my third baby, so I should be a pro at this” (inward consolation thing). Phew!

I’m admiring this beautiful full curly black-haired baby, her tiny cheek so soft and round like one drenched with precious memories of the sweetness of a baker’s delight; A sugar-covered-jelly donut! Her little black eyes twitched as the bright morning reflection of sunray brushes over her face.

Ah! My post-cancer baby! So squishy and velvety, radiating the most enchanting features of love and beauty.

But there was a problem.

I wasn’t getting enough direct eye contact from her.

Is it that those around me didn’t recognize it or had decided to ignore it? Am I the only one seeing the mighty footprints? Or was I getting paranoid for no darn reason! After all, that’s what I do 5 days a week for other families.

My heart skipped a beat! And when it finally found its way back to my body, it broke into a million pieces when she wouldn’t trace my finger across her face! I quickly went shopping in my brain and bargained for all the best nursery rhymes I could find. Fetched all the Early Intervention child developmental milestones books I could read! As a therapist for child-development myself, it was harder for me to accept the intruding delay that could be, but so much easier for me to bring in all the best child developmental services in Delaware county into my room.ele 1

Even though it was my own child needing early childhood intervention, my commitment was stronger than that of Lady Brienne of Tarth in Game of Thrones. #GOT

So, Elephant in the room is an English metaphorical idiom for an obvious truth of chaos that is going unaddressed. The idiomatic expression also applies to an obvious problem or risk that no one wants to talk about, discuss or address.ele 3

In the real world where you and I live, it is regarded as our state of mind! It is that nicely swept problem that forcefully resides with us; based on dis-approval, denial and dis-illusion.

But, in the make-believe world we feign, it is an abode for that hush-hush marital insecurity issue, it is that heavy feeling of pain and anguish when one is being used and betrayed, it is that status-quo inadequacy, it is that child still wondering if the term ‘bastard’ is a middle name! It is that sexuality problem never discussed and still un-resolved/that beautiful young lady wondering if true love really still exists after a horrid heart break!

It is that delayed passage of breakthrough or diabolical hunger and quest to make it big and fast in life! It is that infertility no-go area discussion! The nights of free-flowing tears on the loss of a baby or pregnancy, those complicated medical results, un-resolved family drama, carried on from generation to generation! All those frightening controversial issues which is so obvious to everyone who knows about the situation, but which is deliberately ignored because to do otherwise would cause great embarrassment, or trigger arguments or is simply a taboo. What’s the fear? That we could be judged? that the issue ought to be discussed openly, or it can simply be an acknowledgment that the issue is there and not going to go away by itself!

Aren’t some of the things we go through today similar to an Elephant in a room that’s impossible to overlook? like seriously!! ‘Hello…’Am still here!ele 5

Issues that involve social taboo, discussion of race, religion, gender equality or even suicide. Should the people who might have spoken up decide that it is probably best avoided?

I don’t think so. How else would the elephant make an exit? Or am I wrong?

Could it be because our infirmity has now become our identity or because our crisis now defines who we are and forms the familiar guidelines of our life?

With the entrance of an elephant in their room, some people use their weaknesses to get the attention they crave or to keep from assuming any responsibility in their own lives, but not with a huge animal like an elephant starring you in the face day in day out!

What about our own situation that’s so glaring, yet we cover it up with nicely packaged-fragrance, expensive line of make-up with ambiguous price tags to suck in the scars or marks? Or that sensual erotic 6-pack image that attracts only what the eyes can see as the soul bleeds and begs to run far away from its misery!

Isn’t that a cover up for obvious problem or difficult situation that people do not want to talk about?ele 4

Our helplessness can be our most powerful offering – Only if we are willing to be honest and transparent. Admitting the obvious. Sometimes it is a lot easier to just stay in the room and wait than to struggle toward the light without acceptance.

Can you see yourself in this room, with an invisible elephant? Have you been trapped or paralyzed by the pain of loss or rejection or the weight of an intruder in your personal space? Are you taking care of a child with special needs and feeling overwhelmed? Have friends betrayed you and left you lying by a pool of crushed hopes and dreams?

God sees your helplessness. He knows your heart and hears your desperate cry. Stand up today to that intruder in your room, and let God direct your path.

Yours in HOPE as I share ‘Am I Wrong’ by Nico & Vinz.

Yinka.

 

 

 

 

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Patching Old Scars with Fancy New Stitches

scars 7When you hear a good old song play, what do you do? Do you jump up and begin to dance excitedly immediately to the rhythm? Or pretend you’re not feeling the vibes?’ even as some of your body parts unconsciously continue to move to the beats, and eventually you give up on your hidden-emotions, throw up your hands in the air like you-just-don’t-care!

Or like me…’do you run up to the front of a live performance with arms akimbo, mouth wide open in exaggerated amazement as I ignore the prying eyes of onlookers and begin to groove to the beat, then suddenly pointing to the band and mumbling…’Hmm! Hmm! Hmm! You-sure-can-jam!

One of the most memorable live musical shows I attended was one of the performances by Lagbaja (Famous Nigerian Artist) in 1996 at Ikoyi court, Lagos. My friends and I were mesmerized by the high quotient of percussion instruments that consisted of congas and talking drums, this new and upcoming group obviously drew its principal inspiration from the traditional highlife music of the 60s, as well as western jazz. Its emergence was just what we college kids needed then, a breath of fresh air!scars 2

The lyrics of one of the songs played that night “Baby Tani Ko Fewa” (Babe, we’re asking you out/babe, marry us) got everyone thinking deep about the current status of their relationship. Especially dealing with our choice of life partners, their profession and the outcome of the choice made. I bet every bachelor in there without any future-ambition-plan must have felt like “Yeah! Speak the word Lagbaja“Tell them”. LOL!!

That was almost 20 years ago, and the message behind the song sent each one of us thinking about our lives for a very long time. There was passion to love life to the fullest then, But what about now? I can barely sit through another live performance without thinking of all the numerous tasks left undone on my to-do notebook. Thinking of it alone, drives me nuts! Argh!

So, aren’t some good-old-love songs from our past similar to certain scars we dread touching or tracing? Aren’t they similar to sewn lines left by stitches? Some are with bitter experiences of break up or mistakes, while others require a modern version for the lyrics to give new hope, maybe for a new relationship. Whatever that music is that’s a memorial from the past, it sure must require some kind of pampering or nurturing now if we still feed it. Don’t you think so?scars 10

The reality is that we are all “banged up a little.” In the book “A Farewell to Arms” Ernest Hemingway writes, “The world breaks everyone and many are strong at the broken places.”

But are we allowed to hide those emotions behind those silly love songs or pretend to self-soak our sorrows in gospel songs as needed? Are we allowed to subdue our talents or gifting in order to kill time? Nothing could be further from the truth. Hurt may be inevitable, but misery is optional. How we respond to pits and pain and lyrics of songs is our choice.

Today, we can either surrender to the negativity or create an identity that feels at home in our musical-pit or we can embrace the pain of the scar and learn from it.

We can either settle for a life defined by pain or we can harness the power of our pain and use it for good.

We can try to ignore the pain and hope it all goes away or we can face it and let God heal the broken places.

We all have hidden scars, fresh wounds and broken places. The good news is that God is drawn to broken people. In fact, He accomplishes His greatest works through those who are most broken. We all can testify to that!scars 9

If you are reading this today and have had flashbacks of a particular song where the lyrics literally gives you goose bumps…’do you blame it on other people’s shortcomings? Or wallow in self-pity? Or struggle with your mind by creating escape routes? Are you still in denial?

Isn’t that a ‘Once-Upon-a-time-story? Are we still dragging our ‘when-I-used-to-be’ into our ‘emerge-now-self? Isn’t it time to literally find a good needle and thread to stitch up the loose ends, the scars or loop holes in our lives so we can finally emerge?

scars 6Does discouragement make you want to quit – until an email or text of encouragement lands in your inbox?

Or do you just pray for that challenging situation or chronic pain to be taken away – I know I do, until I realize that God uses it to keep me desperate for Him. What are you desperate for? A new stitch? Or a new love song? Choose wisely!

Yours in Hope as I share “Shawn Mendes” – Stitches.

Yinka.

 

 

 

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