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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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Does Ignorance breed Hatred?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yinka.

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

 

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