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A light for her pathway – Autism Journey

 

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As the month of April comes to a close, many have spent the month bringing
awareness to the many faces of Autism. As any parent or family member who has
a child on the Autism Spectrum knows, this life is exactly that:

‘A Lifelong Experience’

I am blessed with two sons, both on the Autism Spectrum.

Now that they are grown, Ages 21 and 22, I can reflect on the many moments, early on before diagnosis, when I was full of doubt and confusion, thinking I was a terrible mom and simply did not know how to raise children.

What I didn’t realize was that I was being prepared for a life of adventure, smiles and small victories that would be major accomplishments in my eyes. No matter what, we are still parents. Parents of children that have so much potential and as their parents, we must remember that we are their best advocate.

We are also the ones to teach our children the life skills they need to survive in this unforgiving world.

As my sons have grown older, I have realized how much more they need assistance in everyday social situations. When children are younger, supports tend to be everywhere, but as they grow older, those supports seem to be less and less, especially if the child functions high enough to go to college or have a job.

Teach your child to be a good citizen that can function in society to the best of his/her ability. If your child is very young right now, this may seem a lifetime away however, before you know it, you will be looking at each other saying “Now What?

Keep in mind, while this may seem overwhelming at times, remember there are others who have been in your shoes and you CAN do this, and so can our kids!

Never be afraid to reach out to those in similar situations for support.

Together, with prayers, patience, community support and love, we can nurture young minds and raise resilient adults when we focus on their potentials now.

Written by: Valerie Lawson.

 

*For the past 3 years, Valerie and I usually meet one Friday in a month after clinicals at different Panera Bread locations to brain storm on assessment & treatment planning for children with disabilities, pray about challenging caseloads, talk- deep about life, laugh out loud & silly like teenagers over bowls of clam chowder as we continue to implement developmental disabilities initiatives. I met Valerie in class during  my practicum/residency program Fall of 2016).

Valerie is a Behavior Consultant with DCN Autism Clinic in Michigan, a caring and devoted mother to two young men with Autism, ages 21 and 22 years old.

Yours in HOPE!

Yinka.

 

 

 

 

 

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Taking self-inventory before Crossing Over.

 

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“Sometimes only when bonds are tested, do we understand their strength, and when ties that seem to endure for a lifetime suddenly become frayed or grazed by fate, do we begin to appreciate loved ones.

We can choose to walk away and pretend that it’s all gone or forgotten, and that our pain will soon pass eventually, but its only when we begin to undo or un-learn the old ways when  approaching a new year; only then can we begin to step into our destiny”

“To unDo what’s Done” a Thinking-Corner Memoir by Yinka.

 

The unexpected death of her husband sends a woman, Agnes Browne and her seven children, ages 2-14, into emotional turmoil and financial crisis in 1967 Dublin.

She is forced to borrow money from a ruthless loan shark to make ends meet. She faces her dismal existence by selling fruits and vegetables at an open air market where she spends time with a best friend, Marion who gives her encouragement.

Wishing to escape her existence, if only for a short time, she dreams of finding enough money to attend an upcoming Tom Jones concert. She realizes her dream by accepting her first date with a French baker.Agnes_Browne_FilmPoster

Her kids pool their money so she can buy a new dress. Of course, eventually the family has to face the loan shark, her best friend passes away due to a terminal illness and…‘Go see the full movie!

(By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=35036635)

In retrospect, like the above synopsis of the movie Agnes Browne, (which is by the way one of my favorite movies about Hope). We are all evidently hale and hearty witnessing today, the very last day of 2018, or for some, it’s already 2019 in their minds!

Looking back through the past months, I believe we all can boast of at least one single moment of euphoria! eventually replaced by a series of eye-opening experiences.

Some of us have slipped back into old patterns, the residual of thoughts rooted in joy, denial or self-assertiveness. We have turned a new page and laughed over our own comical situations, we have wept over inevitable losses! ‘casually strolled down life’s aisles with huge expectations; witnessed the cry of a baby at delivery while apprehensive at the thought of another child in distress.

We have reached into out wallets or bank accounts and amazed at the bountiful or perplexed at its emptiness.

Those with brewing millennial have been drawn to accept DanTDM as part of their household, British accent, blue hair and all! While also learning their dance moves, Phew! #Minecraft #Roblox #Fortnight #Scissors #Shoop

We have waited in the doctor’s office as the message of a diagnosis and prognosis goes in through the left ear and quietly exits through the right without making no darn sense…’Anyone? ‘Someone?

dantdm 3With pride, we have worn our graduation gowns as we were called upon to be given a new title of our dreams and had glowed in the beauty of our academic achievements! for others, doors of opportunities to finish up that much-delayed school-degree has been opened up, with an empowered energy  of accomplishment!

While some of us have made fruitful decisions on healthy-lifestyles commitment,  discarding toxic relationships, forgiving past hurts or deeds as we finally let go of unhealthy platforms or compromising negative vibes!

We have visited graveyards sober but grateful just to change the address of loved ones. For some, they’ve found themselves falling in love again, patched up that leaking relationship with hope, made new commitment goals and crazy enough to own it! for others,  we have been so moved by a song sang by the choir that eventually  led us to the altar in church, selflessly throwing it all at God’s mercy!

Oh! like the movie, ‘Agnes Browne’ just thinking about tomorrow was usually so exasperating…always far fetched…totally blurry, but with hope, she carried her dreams through it all, focused more on her 7 kids with an in-built perception on staying in-tune with crossing over into God’s promises, for every new year.

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As far back as I can recall, while growing up, end of year celebration has always been a huge thing in my household, especially within the Brazilian quarters of Lagos Island.

Crossing over into a new year in the 70s and 80s was almost similar to waiting to the end of year to open your birthday gift and contemplating on how to tweak  our lifestyles for the upcoming year ahead.

It’s like an entitled holiday set apart for taking inventory of our past deeds! Mental-Report card session!

A few bottles of chilled Coca cola, Fanta, Guinness bottles and soothing highlife music playing in the background was all that’s required to start a crossover street party.

You get to see a magnitude of crowd in such a rush to join others at the water front at Marina to watch fireworks displayed by the naval docks.

Lagos was safe and fun then!

Blasts of Trumpets signal welcome messages announcing to the overflowing crowd hanging at the brim of all churches’ doors, with a dire-attitude of “12 midnight must find me within the 4-walls of a church” and then a sudden and quick dismissal once the church bells stop chiming in the New Year.

Crossover mode uploading…

It sounds so simple? strolling into the new year, doesn’t it? It isn’t. Because  by the time we think we have it all figured out, God arranges a reality check to remind us that without him approaching that new year with us ; we will fail.

You see people with diverse ethnicity, religious or political beliefs, sincerely excited to see another year – together! Hugging and lavishing good wishes, prayers are offered without a fee to passerby, blessings are spelt out like it’s on a bargain! forgetting any previous debt owned, anger or past hurts. Everyone is surprisingly happy for each other, Just-like-that?

As a kid, I never understood why so many people were always saying things like “Oh, what a year’ or in my mother’s Delta dialect “Oh, how the ground has swallowed good people” or” may we never return to our vomit”

I always wondered….’hypothetically, will things be different or better as every new year comes? Will burden or pain be repeated in the new year? those we lost will certainly not be replaced, our mischiefs, mistakes, misleading thoughts will still be carried over with us if we don’t make a conscious effort to drop them now…’before crossing over.

Those things that made us uncomfortable in 2018, will we see them again? when do we get to come to the realization that knowing God’s plan for our life does not guarantee success, unless we get up and execute the plan?

#EverythingMustGoForNewThingsToGrow

washed awayFailure in never final. It is inevitable. We are frail Human beings. We are mortals.

With 2018 running behind us, and so much laid out for us in 2019, will we always be in compliance, even after a defeat?

Decades ago, my mom would gather the family together after returning from church on new year’s eve and begin her own prayer sessions as she craftily picks on whoever has sacrificially won the black-sheep personality award for the family during the year!

Ah! her long prayer points were always intentionally and fervently directed towards interceding for the redemption of ‘the black sheep’s soul for freedom, well before the new year kicks in!

Mom’s logic. No debate. Just Obey.

I tried it once with my “Millennials” at home and they had a decent conversation with me on how I could have just addressed the black-sheep prayer point thingy one on one and not wait for end-of-year-dramatic-prayer-session like Grandma Virginia#IConcur

Today, many of us reading this have significantly re-constructed our approach towards life since Jan 2018, probably done some deep thinking and mind cleansing to move forward…

I hope someone reading this will understand that our greatest opportunities to grow are often packed in the ruins of failure.

Maybe today during crossover is a good time to stop, go back to the list, and review those life lessons we have learned, checking to see where we really are in our walk with God.

 

For me, as dreadful as the term cancer is, I have lost loved ones to it in 2018! while a huge percentage are still diagnosed and on treatment!

As intimidating as the term Autism is, many kids with disabilities were diagnosed in 2018 leaving many families with heart aches, depression, denial and loneliness!

How are we embracing awareness or supporting those still struggling with life?  Isnt it part of the recipe for cross over success stories? The lives we have touched and still touching… The joy we bring to others… The unconditional love showered to others..

To undo some of what’s  already done wrong earlier in the year, isn’t it time to wake up from our lofty  ideas or dreams we’ve always been talking about?  Can we for once approach crossover with a mindset of tweaking our dreams or plans into a project?

Can we move on from procrastinating to expediting, and then declaring it? Review and Scrutinize some traditional modes of crossing over and do that which sets us apart from the crowd? #BeANewYou

dantdm 2Whatever your story was in 2018… You made it here already! Give yourself a-high-five right now if nobody will! Its time to open our windows of opportunity to accept the new viewpoint of What could be, What we can be, and finally shut out the negative humming voices within us.  It is time to #MuteNegativity.

Are our trash cans still overflowing from our self inventory taking?

T-O-S-S  Y-O-U-R  T-R-A-S-H  N-OW!

Today, as we move and meander  in the mundane, I am hoping someone reading this will take a trip down memory lane to see what can be undone or done before crossing over, and accept that there is indeed a fresh compelling awe for This perfect love that breathes and speaks beauty to all our brokenness in 2018!  ‘which will also strengthen and propel us as we cling to the beautiful promises of truly crossing over for a purpose, with a plan.

And like Agnes Browne, to turn those dreams into a big deal and do something worth remembering or comforting, as we begin to count down to the few hours left… ‘May God help us all!

Farewell to 2018, with all its lessons, loss, laughter, pain and gain.  See you in 2019.

Yours in HOPE as I share Travis Greene’s CROSSOVER.

Yinka.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Mindfulness of our Battles – Cancer Awareness Month.

 

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“We can change the homes we live in, the friends we’ve known and the clothes we’ve worn…

“We could fly across the world, visit new places or investigate new planets; but no matter what our minds sought after, our challenges remain the same; to accept what it means to be human…

To embrace our strengths, our weaknesses, our dreams and to learn how to walk away or fight our battles”

Yinka, 2010 Cancer Survivor.

I’d really been looking forward to vacation and wanted a-me-time alone to relax. I had also purchased the most practical swim suit to gracefully show off my post-cancer surgery scars that I have been battling to accept for years and also to shame the after-effects of thyroid imbalance! 

#BattleWithMyScars   #NoBodyShamingAllowed

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As I sat by the shoreline, chilling out, and soaking in the sun with my family, all I really wanted was to enjoy and take in every moment of creating fond memories, not chase after or flick uninvited ants away from my towel and off my legs.

But as it seems, all of the ants on this Island had arranged a massive dance party and had failed to inform me ahead of time. Literally, I missed the battle-memo!

I was un-invited and I had to leave.

I’d surrendered, not because I was weak and frail or couldn’t indulge my very-zealous 7-year-old in spraying a dozen-can of insecticide, but…’I was learning to let go and embrace my inner peace!

How do you pick your battles?

How do you fight your battles?

Through praises or lamenting?

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MAY 2010 Philadelphia Susan G Komen Race For The Cure- Cancer Awareness Walk

These ants didn’t want me to join their beach party and I didn’t want to be there either. I walked away discouraged and disappointed as I threw a little tantrum in my head. Why should I have to leave? I’m the human here! I paid to be here! Shouldn’t these ants be out there in the dirt? why here? why me?

Not today, I muttered as I adjusted my plans, packed up and gathered my family and went to the indoor waterpark pool instead.

Here, I allowed myself to lounge on the lazy river pool tube as I was selflessly carried through with the tides from the waves.

Mission Accomplished: Battle won!

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OCT 2014 Philadelphia American Cancer Society – Cancer Awareness Walk.

So, there are times in life when things don’t work out as planned. Times when our expectations go unmet and we have to move on or make major adjustments.

Moments when we are unexpectedly approached by life’s challenges and we must decide on which battle is worth fighting…

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OCT 2015 Philadelphia – American Cancer Society – Awareness Walk

You might feel like you’re spinning your wheels in a relationship right now. Or the word “cancer” just reminds you of a hopeless ailment that leads to tortured death? a word never to be mentioned, again?

Or maybe you haven’t moved on from something because you don’t like to quit, even though your time and energy might be more effectively spent elsewhere?

Perhaps, the recovery process of a situation is just too painful and overwhelming for you or the caregivers? Or you have a scheduled medical test coming up and you are in dire need of hope to sustain your doubts?

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Oh goodness! There-is-indeed-a-battlefield of un-reconciled, unresolved thoughts going on in our minds as we anticipate how to deal with it, what’s next? and what if?

You’re not alone.

It might feel like you are surrounded by raging battles, but really…

And still, we all have to wade through stormy waters at times, just to understand why it all started.

I don’t know the particulars of your delayed blessings, unmet expectations or beach-ant frustrations, but God does. Even if you haven’t talked with Him about them yet.

Listen…

It-is-not-every-battle-party we are invited to that needs attention or attendance!
Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”

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OCT 2013 Philadelphia – Finish The Fight Against Breast Cancer Walk

But how can we know when to stay and when to let go?
How can we know whether we should say yes or no to that opportunity?
How can we know when our uncomfortable situation is to Refine us, to Rebuke us or to Re-route us?

There’s no simple answer, but there is a simple action:
PRAY.  Ask God for direction. Be still before Him and listen.
Be faithful to go where He leads… even if it means that you need to change your plans, your attitude, your location or vocation. Just surrender to His infinite mercies!

So, as we celebrate OCTOBER – Cancer awareness month, I am hoping we all can do more than just wear pink, look cute or display our external compassion on all our social media platforms!

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This is deeper especially when you have lost someone to cancer, and still dealing with the pain of accepting it and moving forward!

Today, I am hoping we can Call up, Visit or Engage with a cancer survivor, take them out to watch a silly comic relief movie and laugh-out-loud together like there’re no scars visible on or within their bodies!

Tomorrow, I am hoping we can Pamper the ones currently going through treatment – Be an escort to one going for chemo or radiation treatment, schedule a spa treatment or visit the children’s museum together and find humor together in the simple things of life!

As always, I am hoping we can Encourage and Pray with the one who’s lost a family member or friend to cancer by just being there for them emotionally….and then only can we confidently carry the banner and campaign for awareness, intervention and erase all hopelessness.

Yours in HOPE as I share Michael Smith’s “Surrounded – Fight My Battles”

Yinka. (Team: Greater Than Cancer)

 

 

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It. Takes. Two.

 

ur partEvery relationship we are in right now is a journey we choose to go on. Whether persuaded, coaxed or dazed by love at first sight.

We all go in it with open minds and crazy expectations! ‘well, except otherwise minded.

Either chasing after imaginary star-studded dreams or collecting a trophy-partner.

While every adventurer on that journey is either never equipped enough to embrace a detour when needed or too rigid in accepting that, there will always be a need for digression. Someday, somehow, when life falters.

So, have you ever looked back at your life, ‘like twenty-one-years ago and wondered whatever happened to the younger you? Youthful zeal outgrown by series of stifling events? Cherished memories erased by blurry visions of life’s challenges? Beautiful people, places and time once known now replaced by leftovers or shadows of their shells?

Are circumstances around you now the determining factors of joy and peace in your life? Is hope still sealed within your heart as you continue to navigate this much-rated pledge called, marriage?

In as much as I try to convince my 3 kids that I was actually “petite, cool and all that” even before I got married 21 years ago…’they always throw their heads back, flash their upcoming and unadulterated wisdom teeth, clap their hands in teenage astonishment with a silly smirk and laugh at me, I guess they find it unbearably inconceivable to accept!

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They usually give me that look of…how can? You, Mom? Until they can’t contain it and blurt out saying…

“MOM, STOP TRYING TO BE COOL!!”

It’s like no amount of the reigning teenager’s dance moves #Scissors #Shoop or #Floss I attempt with them at home during our kitchen-Zumba-dance-show-off could convince these kiddos that hope and patience are still and will always be my wheel of alignment for life…especially in my marriage, that each day brings fresh possibilities and opportunities for us to trust God more.

Mind. Blowing.

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Am I missing something in my adult life? Or is the element of hope and patience a thing of despair as we age gracefully in a relationship? Is there a time or age limit for couples to be “cool” and “all that” because they are so comfortable with each other?

Isn’t this the downfall of most relationships this days? When we think ‘we are so grown and over the jolly, child-like courting emotions we used to portray?

When we let go of the spark we used to have, because we have secured a 6 pack man or 6-figure job?

It takes two to tango! It takes two to scatter, it take two to gather!

I usually still do the 80’s and 90’s dance moves or music, just to show my brewing-millennia at home that, “Yeah, mom still got it! Or rather, Mom and Dad still got it! The moves, the vibes, the connection and most of all Hope and patience to get us all through every phase and challenge life brings…

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So today as I celebrate my 21st wedding anniversary in a very quiet, intimate, soul-searching, goals setting-getaway with my husband and 3 kids, far-far away on a private Island tucked within the upper peninsulas, our only mode of transportation being loyal-horse driven wagons and rental bicycles, soaking up the sun and getting amazed at the different species of chipmunks and butterflies ever created!

I couldn’t help but reminiscence on the lessons learned and acquired over the years or the path of despair hope helped restored. Hoping someone reading this will lay down the expectations required in their relationships right now and throw it all at God’s will.

Because…

  1. Our hope is not hope until it is up against desperate circumstances! Hope is not hope until it becomes the ability to believe in the promise, even when we cannot see the proof – but yet, we are able to rejoice today, for what’s coming tomorrow…

  2. Our patience must also have the capacity to be wronged and not retaliate. To be patient is to have the ability to endure, but it doesn’t stop there when you are hurting. But, it-will-get-better! Be Encouraged!

Yours in HOPE as I share one of my favorite songs from 21 years ago…

Yinka.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tribute to my Father, My mentor and friend.

 

Mr Ganzy

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

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

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

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

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

Gansallo Family House

Gansallo Family House – Lagos Island.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Feb. 2018 Commencement.

And those were his last words to me. 

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

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

Eternal Rest, Grant Him O Lord!

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

 

 

 

 

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A Display of Unsung Affection

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

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

And then One Day, they vanish into thin air!

Just like that!

Gone.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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Intentionally Filled-Up for a New Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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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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