FROM A HURTING HEART

I’m thinking of Westgate and thinking of people who until Saturday were living their lives, on holiday, taking a few minutes to shop or planning a leisurely day exploring the mall. And now, for those that are alive, their lives will never be the same. Security can be an illusion; the things that we think make us safe – money in the bank, locks on our doors, the perfect love…everything. It’s an illusion.

I’m thinking of Nigeria, and how immediately, everyone’s mind is going to our various malls. And we’re all thinking the same thought – if this happens here, we’re sunk. If what happened in Westgate happens here, will it be citizens fighting to rescue others, or will our forces move in a concerted team? Will we donate blood? Do we have blood banks? Will NEMA immediately set up counselling tents and mobile hospitals or will there be wrangling over the true number of militants or casualties?

I saw a tweet yesterday that police in Abuja are carrying out stop and search operations and I try not to sink into despair. What are they searching for? I’ve been out in Abuja at night, they look into the car, sweep their torch around and then ask if there’s anything for the boys. Or is it the guys who sweep a mirror under the car? Searching for something that might be hidden in a seat or even in a handbag?

Am I the only one that thinks that we can be more proactive from now? Set up legislation that makes all malls have security features such as a central alarm system, huge gates that can lock down sections at once, thus ensuring containment. Am I the only one that thinks that perhaps mall shops should have more than one access and that it is time that our police force received equipment and training to ensure that they know what to do if something like this happens here?

This weekend over 100 people in Borno died. Last week people were slaughtered in an uncompleted building in Abuja. Last week suicide bombers killed people in Pakistan. And I’m sick of it, sick of the death, sick of the hate, sick of the lives that will be forever altered because some people believe that it is their right to take other people’s lives.

I want it to be better, want life to get better, but there is a part of me that knows that this is it, we’re approaching the end, it doesn’t get better, we’re rounding up now.

I don’t know how to deal with this kind of cruelty; this casual evil. I don’t know how to rationalize it into something that makes sense. Help me to be a light Abba, for the short time between now and when You come, help me to shine my light. Help me to be a relief from the evil and the hate. Help me to be a pure reflection of You, to serve in my own way to lighten this corner of the world that You have made my responsibility. Show me how not to give up, how to deal with this, how to turn this pain in my heart into something pure and good and powerful.

I don’t know how You do it, how do You deal with the death and the pain and the hurt? I don’t know how You can. Your children are dying before Your eyes, is Your heart breaking too Abba? Teach me to do as You do, to make this the fuel that powers my love for this dying world and the people in it.

Amen

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MUSINGS THE NIGHT BEFORE…

Well my bags are packed and I’m ready to go…

I swear I thought I was ready. But sitting here, looking around my almost empty room, I have a few minutes where I am suddenly sure I don’t want to leave after all. Lol. That’s what family and home and love does to you.

But I’m set, packed and ready, looking forward to the next stage in the whirly, wonderful adventure that is my life. By the time you read this, I’ll be safe in Calabar, ready to start my new career as a Producer/Presenter with Ebony Life TV. For someone who tends to hide when its time to take a picture, its amazing how God has placed me in a career where millions of people will see my face every day.

Sitting with my mum this evening, she looks at me and says the same words she has always said whenever one of her children is leaving home “If you don’t like it there, you know where home is, no one will judge or criticize you, just come back home”. Eternal assurance of a place to come back to, a place where you are always welcome.  And because I know I will have a safe landing if I ever choose to hang up these wings, I know that I will not only fly, I will soar. For a second I have a picture of me in the sky, laughing as i twirl and dive and climb, saying “Look at me Mama, I’m flying!”

In a minute I’ll go stand on my balcony, look at the bit of Abuja laid out to my view and appreciate this most enjoyable of vistas. Then I’ll walk round my house and cover it one more time with my prayers and my blessings. I think back to the girl who arrived Abuja again in December 2010, so much has happened in the almost 3 years since…what will the next 1, 2, 3 years bring?

I can’t wait.

My brother has just come up, he’s not the emotional sort, so we hug, he ruffles my hair, we remind each other to take care…my throat has just closed up with the amount of love I have for these people…God has blessed me with many things, but by far the biggest blessing is my family…these awesome people who love me, who celebrate my difference and laugh at my quirks…these ones who love me unconditionally.

Keep them for me Abba…

I’m excited, curious, peaceful, happy…you know what I’m not? Scared. No fear…how can I be scared when I’m led?

I remember the night before I left for Zamfara, I was so scared, not sure I should go, not sure I could do it, He gave me this verse,Genesis 28:15:  Behold I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land, for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.

Peace…the cessation of the storm, the knowledge that there is a path.

NYSC in Zamfara was one of the most amazing times of my life…

I’m starting a new blog in addition to this one: http://rediscoveringcalabar.wordpress.com/. It will be devoted to my experiences of Calabar – places I go, people I meet, things I do…I just got a new camera, so I will be taking lots of pictures and will be putting them up. It would be great to have you be a part of my adventure. I’ll put up a post every week. It’ll be fun.

I don’t do long goodbyes, so I have shared them up over the last week, spending time with one and then the other of some of the people I am closest to, basking in the warmth of friendship and family.

Many times I find myself asking how it is that I am so blessed – to have the people and experiences that I have and have had in my life. I come to the same answer every single time…it’s grace. Grace that I do not understand but which I am nonetheless very grateful for.

Have a wonderful night dear friends, I have a balcony to stand on and a house to bless…

Good night

DAY 29 – GRATITUDE JOURNAL

Do you know the hardest part of this gratitude journey? Being consistent. It has seemed many times that it is just as I have finished all my work for the day, just before I drop off to sleep, then I remember that drat! I haven’t posted.

Something else I discovered, a number of things have happened that I would want to rant on, and then I remember I’m doing gratitude all of this month. Usually, by the next day, my complaint has vanished, it has simply become irrelevant.

I went today after a week away. It was a good feeling and it inspired my post for today. Three things that made today great and made me grateful:

1. Colleagues were happy to see me. I have been away for a week since school resumed and through the day, people kept coming up to my office to say Hi and they were glad to see me. I don’t take it for granted,many  work environments are characterized by backbiting and nastiness and to have people in my office come up to me and repeatedly say how glad they were to see me, it made me feel valued.

2. I’m grateful for the calm  before the storm. It’s holiday time, so my work hours are reduced. This means that I can get a massive amount of work done without the hubbub that usually attends a regular work day – awesome!

3. Today I got the opportunity to do something very small for someone who has often gone out of his way at work to be kind to me. I was excited about it because this person is usually so self sufficient, but blessedly, I was with him when this opportunity came up, and I jumped on it with excitement. It was great!

In addition, I have been working on a project and finally got the go-ahead to go full steam ahead. It’s quite a big project and I am excited about stretching myself and putting my talents to the test.

today, Abuja was cold and very rainy. I got home freezing, jumped under my blanket and had a quick nap. I am grateful for my blanket. It’s been with me 9 – 10 years. It went with me to Zamfara and kept me warm during the cold harmattan. 9 years later, it’s still doing an awesome job.

2 more days of gratitude. I got one big one today…one thing to be grateful for. I’m still processing it, but God worked something out for me in a very roundabout way. In the process, He taught me some things about myself and also showed me how His starting point is often a very poor indicator of where I will end up. He works in such mysterious ways and today, He just reaffirmed to me not to judge His destination by my perception of His direction. It was a wonderful lesson.

I’m asking God for 2 nice things for the next 2 days, I want to round the month out with a bang. Looking forward to seeing what He does.

Have a wonderful night guys. God bless

 

 

LAGOS RAMBLINGS

Lagos, Algarve

Sadly not the train I saw. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This post was supposed to be written at MM2. I had this mental picture of sitting in an airport, typing away, a complete oasis of peace amidst the swirling blur of travelling humanity…however, my battery refused to allow me to be great, so I’m back at home, typing this in the sweltering Abuja heat and not feeling like much of an oasis.

I love airports…as soon as I get into one, I want to travel to some exotic country far away…I am a wanderer at heart, and airports remind me of that desire to explore new regions and experience new things. I remember telling my family years ago that I would not own a home…I decided that I would spend my years travelling with my knapsack on my back and come home periodically with souvenirs of the many places I would have visited. While I have come to the realization that living like a tortoise with my home on my back might not be the best way to go, I still enjoy the hunger that airports spark in me, and indulge them with short trips to Lagos and plans for travelling the world a country at a time.

Anyway…back to the point…whatever it was meant to be…

I took a Dana flight to and from Lagos and I must say it was a wonderful experience. Customer relations were excellent, hostesses were polite, pleasant and professional and my checking in and flight arrangements were done smoothly. My flight back to Abuja was excellent; the plane almost seemed to kiss the ground, so smooth was the landing. I’d like to think that perhaps Dana Air has started again with a renewed focus on excellence in all aspects of their work. It seems that so often, we notice the bad that organizations and corporations do, I’d like to also acknowledge the good and hope that they keep it this way and even improve their services. I was definitely impressed.

I enjoyed my trip to Lagos…I get to see a different side of it every time I travel. This trip, I enjoyed looking at the old and new buildings side by side…Lagos is full of history. I looked at buildings put up in the 1800s and couldn’t help wondering about them. Who built them, how many generations had passed, how the current occupants felt about living in history… I would imagine that houses so old would have an atmosphere full of memories…you would walk into them and feel the joys and hopes and tears of generation after generation…I am glad that in Lagos and also Calabar, we are not so overwhelmingly obsessed with the new that we are recklessly chucking out the old. I know that many valuable architectural and cultural aspects of our past have been and are still in the process of being lost, so it made me very happy to see old homes…some carefully maintained. It told me that perhaps there are some that still care.

I also enjoyed watching the train. Yes the cars were rickety, yes the tracks are overgrown with grass but still, it was lovely to hear the alarm bells ring, see the barriers come down and then watch the train thunder past. Although trains don’t evoke in me the same desire to travel that airports do (those things look rickety abeg), it was still nice to watch these people in the trains and wonder who they were and where they were going.

Hmmm..what else?

I enjoyed shutting down, and I truly did. Barely answered my phone or responded to messages, just disconnected from life, took a step outside the hustle and bustle and caught a moment to breathe. It was a wonderful mini-break; somewhere in the middle of the holiday, I found myself letting go of a “worry list” that I didn’t even know I had been building, and replacing it with a “grateful list”. I knew I was well rested when I woke up this morning and found myself planning work stuff and calling people to get things organized before I show up at work tomorrow. I must remember to take out me-time. I know I can’t hop on a plane (or even a train) whenever I wish, but perhaps I could focus on enjoying my weekends more, making them less full of things to do and people to see and focusing on doing the things I want to do…as I want to do them. Life has been too busy lately.

Ok, rambling over…there’s a bowl of ogbono soup with my name on it and I’m off to find it.

Thank you for stopping by

God bless

THE TEN REASONS I LOVE MY JOB

I’ve been doing shortlists for some open positions in my organization. Apart from the tediousness of it, it has been interesting to look through CVs and see what all those job and employment websites always talk about; presentation, relevant experience and so on. It has also made me even more grateful that I not only have a job, but that I have a job I actually enjoy. There were many CVs from people my age and older, people with lots of qualifications and experience, people with skills and abilities.

Anyway, it’s gotten me thinking. Not just about the fact that I have a job, but about why I love my job. So, in no particular order, here are the 10 things I love the most about my job.

  1. Just now, in the middle of reviewing my overflowing out folder, I took a break, went out and played 15 minutes of very poor table tennis with my equally poor but very determined colleague. I spent more time chasing the ball than hitting it, but it was so much fun. I get lots of opportunities for these mini breaks and always come back to work refreshed and eager to get back to it.
  2. Earlier on today, a little girl was crying, she looked at me, came over and put up her hands for a cuddle. I picked her up and she immediately stopped crying and snuggled into my shoulder. I helped her to feel safe, and she helped me to feel 250 feet tall.
  3. I get the most awesome meals mehn! The chef has made it a mission to make me fat and so I get to eat the most flavourful healthy food ever. They know me so well that they know to give me lots of small portions through my day. 9 times out of 10, you’ll walk into my office to see me nibbling like a rabbit on something or the other.
  4. My boss has extremely high standards and is not afraid to call out misbehaviour or lack of performance. But she is also very honest and generous in her expressions of her feelings and opinions. We’ve spent many hours discussing politics, the world economic system, men and my future. (Her advice – be as independent as you can, work hard and make sure you fall in love with someone who has enough in common with you so that you guys will always have something interesting to talk about). She is an awesome woman who is even more impressive because of the humility with which she discusses her achievements.
  5. I work with the craziest people in Abuja. Yesterday I looked out the window and the accountant was on the lawn dancing makossa. He’s 6 feet plus and as lanky as they come. Half of the staff team was on the floor in stitches, the other half joined in.
  6. There’s always music – classical, naija, ethnic, nursery rhymes…there’s always music.
  7. I get to walk home every evening. It’s not just exercise, it’s a time to relax, unwind, review my day, disconnect from work, and connect with the people and things waiting at home for me.
  8. I get to run things, like a proper lady bawse. I am responsible for making short, medium and long-term decisions that will affect the future of my organization. It’s very humbling when I think over the steady stream of people coming into my office for my advice, approval or signature on a document. They trust that I have what it takes to make the right decisions. I owe it to them not to betray that trust.
  9. We’re a very female centred organization. I can’t say for sure, but probably about 70% of our organization is female. And not just delicate lady flowers o! Strong, assertive women who will not hesitate to lay down the law if need be. They are loud, quiet, fat, and thin and come from across Nigeria.  When one of the men pissed one of the girls off, we refused to let him leave till he had apologized profusely and repeatedly. We’re the Powerpuff girls in jeans and funky Ankara.
  10. It’s not perfect. People get frustrated, angry and even want to quit. We make mistakes, don’t have all the answers and would undoubtedly frustrate anyone unable to live without straight lines or order. What it is however, is a place that allows you to be imperfect, and somehow makes you fit in; quirks and all. I don’t need to pretend to be anything I’m not, which leaves me free to grow into the kind of employee and person I want to be.

There are so many more things, and maybe I’ll share them another time, but now I’ve got to get back to my paperwork and the very tantalizing looking lunch that has just come in. What do you love about your job or career? Be sure to leave a comment and share with me. I’d love to hear your experiences and perspectives.

Ciao!