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An awareness worth accepting: Embracing AUTISM!

An awareness worth accepting: Embracing AUTISM!

autism 1

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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REBUILDING HOPE after a loss.

shine-2There comes a time in our life when we should start thinking about what we will leave behind after we die.

Well, not everyone enjoys talking about it anyway, but we should! Like, Y-e-s-t-e-r-d-a-y! Because we will all pass away someday.

What will be our legacy? How will our lifestyles be recorded into the annals of history?

Are we aware that this is a deep healing and gratifying moment that could also beAdvertisement  our only chance and opportunity to pay it forward or celebrate life by creating a setting for others to follow? 

So, do you remember how you felt when you lost someone close to you? You witnessed dreams and aspirations snatched away coldly leaving behind dark visions of despair and uncertainty about the future!shine-4

Did your life take an unexpected turn when people you love are diagnosed with a terminal illness? The big question we battle in our minds over time as we witness their pain and struggle with recovering and treatment is…’Will-They-Ever-Make-It?

Or will they disgrace death and defeat the grave? No matter what, our lives and their new journey would never be the same again.

Aha! Because an irreplaceable vacuum has been deposited in our hearts.

The fairytale life we had always dreamed of for them is no longer possible. Is it okay to question God at those very hurting period we witness with them? Or be like Job and continually keep seeking His face in the middle of it all? Is there still hope after all?  #EmpathyLeadsToHope

ekoI still clearly remember the night when my parents went out for an event….

It was Christmas of 1980, my dad wanted to impress his guests that night and had driven them all to watch Bobby Benson’s High-Life band play at the lavishly furnished ball room of Eko Hotel at Victoria Island Lagos.

Jubilant! Excited! my cousins and I (who had come visiting from Port Harcourt and UK) danced around our Christmas tree in the adult parlor as we waved goodbye to our parents, flashing our hand-held sparkler fire works! And as my dad’s car zoomed off the street, we were left with traces of rays from the street lights that eventually nudged us back inside.

But, my parents never came back that night or the next day!

Nothing prepared me for the tons of relatives who stomped into our house for the next couple of months!

There was constant whispering, cleaning or attending to unfamiliar faces who had pressed the loud doorbell that always made our dogs, Jolie and Julie mad and bark uncontrollably!

shine13The warm-natured relatives from my mother’s village in Delta State had hired a commercial station wagon named “Eni Afe” (the one we love) to transport them and their bags full of African pear and Garden egg directly from Oshimili Local government to my door step on Lagos-Island!

Oh by-the-way! Did I mention that they were always humming a moody native song and slapping their heads or their hips! Pointing to the sky as if blaming God for not being on time to the rescue! Or were they blaming the automobile company for the accident? I could barely pick their language, but was always able to identify the word “moto” as they begin to use their wrist to wipe away invisible tears.

And every time I would glare at them in fear and confusion wondering where they kept my parents!!

Ah, I-s-i-o-m-a ’Nne m (meaning My-good-head daughter or good-luck-girl-child) they would exclaim and carry me off into a non-auditioned Igbo dance and bury my head in their humongous Saturday Night-talcum-saturated bosom, like I needed to be smothered because I was missing motherly affection! Oh well, at that time, I guess I was anyway…Phew!    #ILoveMyMothersPeople

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And on the other side, my father’s Lagos-Brazilian quarters family members would all stroll in, in their meticulous apparel, puffing and huffing about how Uncle Kay (my dad) just won’t stop smoking, drinking and driving! their high stiletto competing with their pitchy British accent as they search in their patent fancy bags for a glass-beaded rosary that will be used to sanctify the house or search for their fancy hand fan even as the ceiling fan was in full motion!

I watched as they try to escape the cold nose caressing from our dogs! Their house helps or driver sneaks up behind them carrying home-baked bread and fruit baskets brought from Tom Jones area, covered with beautifully embroidered napkins.

Oh! There you are Yinkus baby! Everything is fine oh? We must book a mass for the family! Let’s thank Saint Christopher and Our Lady of good counsel! Or ‘has anyone gone to Catholic Mission to report this to the Arch Bishop? I will have my driver come get you for the weekend to play with your cousins at Ikoyi club” And then a big hug consumed with choking concentrated overdose of vintage Hermes perfume! 

Ah! play-with-my cousins-at-this-period? Hmm…’No-thank-you-Aunt! #MyFathersDramaticPeople

But, Why-won’t-someone-tell-me-what-ever-happened-to-my-parents

shine-11Thank goodness for older and notorious cousins who were very crafty in stealing top-classified family information! Last I know…they saw my Dad’s car somersault several times and crash into the edge of the reef at Bar beach!

All 4 of them (My dad, mom, late Uncle Siji and Dr. Alagoa) lost consciousness and were rescued by a nearby white garment church congregation having a vigil at the same time on the beach!

Okay…so they made it out of Eko Hotel and crashed into Bar beach on their way back home. Severely injured with the car written off! Both on admission and physical therapy for several months as I was left in denial about their disappearance until they returned home, not the same as they left in December, but alive.

At that moment and such tender age, nothing could have soothed or comforted me enough! For all I care, I could have been an orphan-in-waiting until they eventually came back home with bruises and scars so pronounced, even our dogs wept for them! Literally.

shine-12Today, as you are reading this…In homes and hospitals and confinement across the world, friends and family will soon gather around to usher in the New Year, beautifully decorated tables filled with warm, scrumptious food and gifts to give. Blinking lighted trees with trimmed gold ribbons!

It is Christmas!!

However, this day will be nothing like holidays of the past for many people.

Broken hearted families who’ve lost loved ones will struggle to keep hope alive, Friends with terminal or life threatening illness will have to struggle to catch a glimpse of what a painless season without medication or treatment would be, Lonely but committed soldiers covered in the dust of battle will patrol foreign borders, fighting for what they believe in, while their families back home long for word of their safety.

The homeless will make their way to the nearest soup kitchen, hoping for a warm meal and a smiling face as so many celebrate this day of abundance.

eko-2For some, an empty place at the table will be a painful reminder of the loved one lost or a failed relationship.

A worried husband and dad will sit at the head of the table, wondering how he is going to tell his family that he just lost his job.

A wife, struggling with emotional turmoil of an unfulfilled marriage, a beautiful young lady, wondering if the joy of the season is worth celebrating due to rejection and loneliness.

A family with a child on the spectrum still waiting for a miracle. The list of wounded hearts and unmet needs is brutal.

So, tell me, how do you create or find time to rebuild after you lose someone to death, ailment or disagreement? In all my 6 years of surviving that cancer, I have continuously struggled with the changes that’s taken over my body, my mind and my perception about life and people. I had to crave the urge to keep hoping for a fruitful life; medication, treatment and all by creating time for people in need!

For others, it is still denial of what they can’t understand and are still refusing to accept. That there could be hope because God says so, that we could still find joy and happiness even while going through that phase in life.

How do you intend to help someone going through all these the few days remaining in 2016? Would we rather patronize the needy by dropping by a shelter to suit your conscience? Send text messages or gifts when really your voice of encouragement is what they need? Label them as unfit or dying when really only God can dictate that journey! Hmm.

shine-5What gives us hope today? Even with friends and loved ones dying or shutting down around us, how do we comfort them?

You see, when we convince ourselves that life will be better when we have more money, when we find the right mate, when we get the kids raised or build the right house. We tell ourselves that our life will be complete when our spouse gets his or her act together, when we buy a nicer car, when we get that promotion, when we are able to go on our dream vacation or when we retire.

We keep trying to find joy, contentment and peace in lifeless places and useless things.  When really, we just need to be more thankful for being alive and seek the real meaning behind the lights on the Christmas trees, it’s not about the ornaments or the beautiful wrapped up gifts! Or the beautiful glittering ribbons.

It is about building HOPE for tomorrow! and why we need to celebrate life more…especially with those going through tough time this season.

And because I witnessed my parents come out alive of that ghastly car accident at Bar-beach that had the next day newspaper headlines as “Miracle on the Beach” I certainly have no choice but to keep trusting and hoping in God even as my own strength and flesh falter sometimes!

shine-3Because I-have-been-there-with-you, on both sides…I know the feeling of a blurry future when sickness knocks or when a loved one is lost or when we lose a pregnancy/baby…the vacuum is so uncomfortably evident and can never be filled!

I am hoping someone reading this will allow their heart to beat again after a loss.

Let’s spread the love of Christmas by bringing HOPE to someone really in need of affection today and comfort the weak at heart more.

To all those we lost in 2016. Let’s be rest assured that the peace the birth of Christ brings this season is surely abiding with them.

Yours in HOPE! As I share David Gokey’s ‘Tell Your Heart To Beat Again’

Yinka.

 

 

 

 

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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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Ready or Not, Here I come… ‘Should I drop the MIC?

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ready 7Have you ever approached a new birth year (birthday) with some kind of mixed feelings about some beautiful or bitter experiences you’ve carried through to-date?

Does your birthday celebrate your progress or make fun of your weakness? When you finally decide to mentally flip through the events of yester years, do you either marvel or sigh at the thought of certain happenings?

I-D-O-N-T-B-E-L-I-E-V-E-I-T! ‘Kind-of-feeling?

I know I do. Often, I wished I was still that innocent 10-year-old birthday girl adorned in my Peter Pan collar blue and white polka-dot sun dress dancing away to the rhythm of Evelyn King’s 1982 ‘Love Come Down! With not-a-single-care-about-tomorrow or even aware of whatever love was coming down! Until I was asked to take the MIC! ‘And then…

So, I just finished celebrating my 44th birthday (say “Whaaaaat!”)… Yeah ’All-of-me-is-organically 44 years and still growing! (Lol). ‘And am loving it! Fate has been feeding me with un-avoidable memories as a special delicacy, one forbidden to chew. Don’t know if it’s a coincidence or not, or more of a déjà vu kind of feeling.

Could it be my medication or hormonal changes? or the so-so-busy schedule I have entwined my life in? whatever it is, I am so ready to take it on and move forward with new hopes. Even as am not so close by to my childhood home and missing all the bells and horns I would have received for another celebration, thank goodness for true and genuine friendship ever-present!

ready 2I am so thankful for silly little things like…singing off tune  with my 4-year-old daughter in the shower, wet toothbrushes serving as our pretend-mic!, OR discussing puberty tolerance with my sprouting oh so-grown tween! (Phew! Teenage dramatic years here-we-come!) OR trying to understand the sudden mother-son bond with my dimpled-face middle child-son! OR playing star war’s Dart Vader with my adorable Autistic students or just being silly and child-like!

Those moments. Priceless and Irreplaceable.

The days of… Am I ready for another treatment? Another blood work? Another scan? Another therapy? Another celebration? It was as if I always just needed a reason to celebrate life to remind myself that I was still living!  But really? Why not? Who wouldn’t? Why not celebrate life when we have it? When our tomorrow is not given.

Today, it doesn’t matter anymore if comedians invented the mic drop, they have arguably played a larger role in popularizing it than their hip-hop counterparts. Like when the character steals the microphone from the emcee, screams into it, holds it out, and drops it to the floor. Isn’t that how our life’s journey is? We pick us, start-up then drop it off…out of?…ready 3

Nowadays, the unknown stretches before us and all we can see are the mistakes we have made and the opportunities we have missed.

Fear has brought us to our knees and we are more desperate than we have ever been in our life.

If you made it to the next birthday each year, be more thankful. Are you ready or not for what’s next? Not really. Still wondering why the MIC should be dropped? Maybe we all need to refocus and adjust our perspective. Don’t you think so?

Life is never going to be perfect this side of town. Never! If you are waiting for every problem to be solved, every circumstance to be just right, every issue to be resolved, you are in for a long wait. Set aside your comfort. Forfeit your convenience and embrace change.

The movie 8 Mile (2002) brought an explosion in interest in rap battles and free-styling, but Rabbit never drops the mic: When he finishes his climactic freestyle and prepares to walk off the stage, he just passes the mic back to his opponent. Are you ready for that? I know I am. So help me God with my personal baton.

Yours in HOPE as I share The Fugee’s “Ready or not”.

Yinka.

 

 

 

 

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2016 Total Woman Conference Fragrance 216: “When the KNOTS began to unfold”

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Do you remember where you were the evening of Thursday, April 21st 2016? Any recollection of your final place of destination? Were you super excited as you packed, parked and paraded the luxuriously furnished maze-like corridors of The ACE conference center in Lafayette Hills?

TRACE IT!

IMG-20160430-WA0006Do you recall the big smiles on the faces of the beautiful ladies at the registration table as they celebrated your attendance with your personalized welcome package? Did you feel the aura of peace and yearning on the faces of women, miracle-expectant, longing-to-be-released into what the retreat has in store for them’ Holding on to the promises of the weekend.

FACE IT!

Indeed, even as the news of the death of the Artist formerly known as Prince was featuring on the lobby radio, the sympathy and grief expressed from those who remembered his 1984 hit song “Purple Rain” was pleasantly compensated by the huge appetite of an accessible sovereign Prince of peace everyone had come to encounter. There was Hope!IMG-20160423-WA0002

ERASE IT!

If you attended…’My guess is that you are still in awe and total amazement of the wonderful enrichment of those 3 days…’I know I am still basking in the rich fruitfulness of the ministration from all the speakers. I know just like everyone too, words wouldn’t be enough to express or explain the beauty and luster of the early Morning Prayer walk around the winding roads entwined within the golf course as dew drops amuse our awakening! IMG-20160422-WA0011

Ah! The early bible lesson in the glass covered patio as the high ceiling fans conduct a circular-halo above us, in unison with our outpour of praises! (One of my favorite mornings yet this year), the clattering of heels and the giggling of deep laughter that turned 3 generation of women into one-body, as we all danced in-tune and off-beat with the Zumba instructor (who knew…’these women still got moves), the smiles and excitement on the faces of women as they gathered around the buffet…all exuding radiant fragrance of a good-sense-of-WE BELONG HERE!

20160422_204039Ahh! The messages: the new hash tag to discover for bothersome wishers in our lives! The breakout sessions that were so deep yet so true, every woman felt a connection to the speakers! The heartfelt concerns for relational challenges. And best of all…’the anointing that loosen all the knots we carried into Lafayette Hills…

Oh-What-an-Awesome-Event!!  Oh-what new hashtags to live with…

#let go of insecurity and take hold of your true identity

#let go of comparison to others and take hold of your God-fashioned uniqueness.

#learn to say…’shut the front door after you

#let go of shame-filled condemnation and take hold of grace-filled acceptance.

#let go of crippling bitterness and take hold of radical forgiveness.

IMG_9061To all the Planning Committee Members!!  Take a bow…To my Team Moderators! ‘You are the best. Absolutely awesome!IMG-20160424-WA0013

For whatever still makes us needy after this event? For whatever makes our heart seem like a love vacuum? For whatever makes us doubt God’s love irrespective of what we are going through?IMG-20160430-WA0007

I hope we’ll be able to remember from the messages on Thursday, Friday and Saturday that we cannot expect imperfect human beings and relationships to satisfy our heart cravings. Only God can satisfy. Only God can untie the knots and keep them loose. Whatever tied-up knots we are experiencing.IMG_8961

Maybe we can learn to stop expecting others to meet our “love-vacuum” needs and instead ask God to help us to be rooted and established in the fullness of His all-satisfying love. Need more information about the Movement? Visit http://www.totalwomanmovement.com.  Look out for TW Insider Exclusive for more information on quarterly updates.

Yours in Hope as I share TWC 2016 photo recap and video clip. (See below).

Yinka Lawrence – Team Workshop Moderator.

 

 

 

 

 

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Are you GOLDEN, MATURED & SEASONED? –‘Here’s a glimpse of what to expect at the upcoming TOTAL WOMAN CONFERENCE! (For the Graciously-Ripe and Germane OLDER ADULTS @ 55+

4 MORE DAYS TO GO!!! (‘Countdown to Glory!)seniors 2

Dear Senior Girls! ‘My Ripe, Relevant & Resourceful Mentors!

Permit me to steal a moment of your time as I ponder on the importance of your presence…

‘Do you know that there is so much for you to look forward to at this conference? Here’s an opportunity to mingle, share and learn. This is a time to discuss topics like how to maintain cordial relationships with in-laws, how to embrace and adjust to a new or different family dynamics with married children.

Are you an empty nester? Separated? Divorced? Or Widowed? Do you sometimes feel lonely and abandoned? You crave for something fruitful to fill the void in your routine life?spring 3

HELP IS HERE!! There is a session at this upcoming TOTAL WOMAN CONFERENCE that’s tailored to meet your needs! A cozy room has been set aside with beautiful greenery in the backdrop, prepared just for you! All for you!

So, come discover how YOU can be relevant and still be compatible while being fulfilled within your God-given maternal positions. Join in and learn how to embrace inter-cultural marriages, how to resolve relational conflicts and also stand in the  gap for our immediate family in time of distress. Come discover and revive buried dreams that can be translated into financial independence.  seniors

Need more information? Visit www.totalwomanmovement.com  to be plugged into the movement that will Heal, Enlighten, Liberate and Position you for a better tomorrow!

Yours in HOPE,

Yinka.

 

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Are you SINGLE, SEARCHING & DIS-ENGAGED? This goes out to all the SINGLE LADIES out there…”You may be Broken, but you’re Not Bent” – Come learn how to LOVE again! @www.totalwomanmovement.com

5 MORE DAYS TO GO!!! (Excitement mode activated!)bent 3#TWC 3. 

If you are reading this and fall under that specific age where those sugar-coated tongue-guys are spreading their tentacles, making false deliveries of exaggerated non-existent fantasy-like promises! And suddenly, POOF! ‘They disappear into thin air! Oh no! ‘Whatever happened to those promises and aspirations?

Nothing to worry about! ‘Cos there’s absolutely nothing wrong with you, babes! But everything amiss with that man who’s taking you for granted! Or you’ve been through a series of roller coaster-kind of relationships for a while and now given up on going into another one! But really, who wouldn’t crawl back into their shell to regain their sanity after such emotional distress?

You look at your image in the mirror, and what you see is a beautiful well-formed, strong and dynamic lady! Even those around pass glowing compliments! Oh goodness! What do you see? The type of girl any sensible guy would gladly take home to Momma! And dance jubilantly to the altar…pink 1

‘But you just keep wondering… ‘When will it be my turn? NOW LISTEN CAREFULLY!!

You may be broken, due to certain circumstances, but also you need to understand that there can’t be any healing without first being broken. Come figure out how to start the healing process, let’s put the pieces back together just like the “potter” would, aligning the fragments in such a way that when the “bond” (the healing, fragrant balm is added) you have a splendidly well-put together piece that will speak volumes of what was shrouded in that brokenness.

What are you waiting for? Come join other singles as we gather around seasoned speakersspring 3 like The Mercados, Rev. Adetuberu, Terri Matthews and more… Come learn how to set realistic goals in building strong relationships! Come join us as we listen to teachings on how to apply Godly principles while waiting. Together, we can learn to understand that just as you are not perfect, there is no perfect guy out there, but dare I say, there is a guy out there who loves all your perfect imperfections, accepting you just the way you are!

Need more information? Visit www.totalwomanmovement.com  to be plugged into the movement that will Heal, Enlighten, Liberate and Position you for a better tomorrow!

Yours in HOPE,

Yinka.

***WATCH OUT for #TWC 4 “Are you GOLDEN, MATURED & SEASONED? –‘Here’s a glimpse of what to expect at the upcoming TOTAL WOMAN CONFERENCE! (For the Graciously Ripe and Germane OLDER ADULTS @ 55+.

 

 

 

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