MY ABBA IS AT IT AGAIN

So my Abba has this thing that He does where He puts me in one kin situation like this and then proceeds to chortle at my extreme discomfort as He works on yet another part of me.

He’s at it again. This time, it’s voice-overs. Lemme explain.

At my office, a couple of people have recently called me to do voiceovers for one program or the other (Coming soon!) This wouldn’t be a big deal except for one thing; I am not the most expressive of people. As a matter of fact, sometimes it takes me hours to realise that I am happy/sad/angry.

Now I have deep emotional reserves, I feel a range of emotions, but I don’t express them. From happiness to sadness to anger, my voice stays at the same pitch, perfectly modulated, deeply soothing (I’ve been told), almost impersonal. Now when I lose my temper, I start shouting like I’ve suddenly been possessed like a town crier, but apart from those times…nada.

Infact let me tell you guys a story. When I was in the Talk Academy for the Debaters, one of our coaches one day decided that he wanted to work with some of us on infusing emotion into our voices. He would play someone’s debate, have the class grade it out of 10, give the person a scene to act out and then have the class grade him/her again. My turn came; when my debate ended, my classmates graded, people were shouting “1!!!”, “2!!!”  One kind soul gave me 3. Out of 10! I then started acting out the scene – guys, I acted, I poured my soul into it, I was on the verge of tears sef with the power of my emotion. My new score? 3 – 4, with probably the same kind soul giving me 5.

I think I’ve proven my point.

The fact that I yell when I’m angry as well as the fact that I’m a strong singing soprano tell me that my vocal behaviour is more mental/emotional than about the physical state of my vocal cords.

And now I have to do voiceovers. Where you have to eject emotion into your voice. You see wahala ba?

The first one was easy; something within my normal voice range. Then they said “Show excitement”. How does one do this biko? I tried to explain that I don’t do excitement, but no one listened. They would just demonstrate, and then wait patiently for me to do what they wanted. So Arit is now learning to show excitement.

My Father, who knows the plans He has for me, has put in place a training program that is forcing me out of yet another comfort zone. I am learning to express, to raise pitch, to add inflection and emotion.

Sometime this week sha, I realised that I want to get good at this. I want to giggle, chortle, pitch, emote, project and express my way to excellence. I want people to listen and feel the exact emotions each word is supposed to. Just like I make pictures with my words, I want to make them with my voice. And I want to do a darn good job of it.

Another story

In 2004, I went to Zamfara for my service; the day after registration, I was fast asleep when they started calling us to come for the morning parade. I staggered up, threw on my clothes and appeared on the parade ground with my white shorts and tees, a hairnet and bathroom slippers. By the time they started marching practice, I was a goner. Couldn’t keep time, couldn’t lift my feet, couldn’t focus, couldn’t wait to be done. 3 weeks later, I was the Ensign to the colours in the Colour party (the group of people who hold the flag and the drums). I quick marched, slow marched and did all those side marching tins where you start out somewhere and end up somewhere else totally. I did them perfectly.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me…and my Papa is an excellent teacher. Whenever I am tempted to get discouraged about doing something new, I pull up that time-lapse video of me in Zamfara and I remember the flush of pride as I stood there in my khakis in the hot Zamfara sun with my eyes straight and my spine straighter, only 3 weeks after probably being the most hopeless marcher that the soldiers had ever seen.

I’m going to rock at this; just wait and see.

No be me o! I can’t do diddly by myself, but my Father operates with excellence. He looked at everything He had done and declared them very good. That’s just the way my Father is. Arit was made in His image, I do as He does. That’s the way He is, so that’s the way I am.

Shikena

 

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BAIDAY TINS – PART 2

I’m not very good at talking about myself, and I almost changed my mind about writing this list.  First, it seemed to me to be very self-centred to spend an entire blogpost talking about oneself. Secondly, I’m not a fan of the spotlight, I’d much rather be in the shadows, oiling machinery and making sure the show runs smoothly. There is a certain vulnerability in coming out of the shadows, and I don’t like to be vulnerable. But life is about stepping out of your comfort zone isn’t it? It’s about opening our self-created safe areas and exposing yourself to the possibility of criticism and mockery but also the possibility that somewhere, there is someone who will listen to you and feel a resonance with you.

Anyway,*deep breath* so here goes. 10 facts about me; in no particular order.

  1. My native name is Obremeno…where I get the Meno in menoword from. The sentence means “People (or the world) would not have given me children”. I’ve always thought it was a rather cynical name until recently when I realised that this is perhaps what it truly means – People do not always wish the best for you – that’s life, however, your final outcomes are not dependent on people but on God
  2. My worst trait perhaps is the fact that I rarely chastise or point out when people wrong me. I believe everyone has a built-in barometer (or would that be thermometer?) that tells them when they are misbehaving and so, when people are cheating or hurting you or generally misbehaving, there should be a little bird that whispers in their ear that perhaps they shouldn’t. I keep quiet and wait for that bird to register its opinion, and I act based on my observations. Many of my friendships have quietly died or been re-appraised because of this. It’s not a perfect system, I have been wrong about people’s motives or actions as often as I have been right…I’m still looking for my balance.
  3. I did my NYSC in Zamfara. After camp, I hemmed and hawed about going back, until my parents called me one day and said “you have 2 choices about going to Zamfara – you can go with luggage or without luggage, but in 2 days, you’re going to Zamfara” So I went to Zamfara – with luggage thankfully, and it was an awesome experience. There is something about going back to a life that exists at its simplest. I pumped water from the well and talked to curious students about summer and winter. I watched traders ride past on their camels every Sunday as Tsafe woke up to market day. I sat outside at midnight and looked at a scene so bright in the cloudless midnight that it seemed like it was midday and the sun had turned to pure silver. I started to realise that God was not locked up in a church.
  4. I’ve had a rather conflicted relationship with God. I grew up in an ultra conservative church where trousers, dancing or hugging were not allowed. I felt like a fish out of water because I did not know why I felt this need to…rebel. I also grew up with a lot of guilt because I felt like I was constantly backsliding – all the things I wanted to do were considered wrong. I wavered between a reluctant, formal yet obligatory interaction with God to periods of desperate crying out because I couldn’t figure myself out. I longed for grace but knew only judgment. Little by little, God has started to show Himself to me. My biggest shock and the hardest to adjust to, is the realization that He not only knows that I am imperfect, but loves me still, has always loved me. The fact that anyone could love me so unconditionally still blows my mind. Oh and I wear trousers these days, I even wear jeans to church, makes it so much easier to dance.
  5. Unless I am in a particularly stubborn mood, I am impossible to argue with. It’s almost impossible to force me into a belief or frame of mind. I’m almost impossible to force – period. If the person speaking to me insists on pushing their point of view, I either make myself scarce or respond with a quiet non-answer impossible to refute or argue with. When I’m feeling particularly evil, I respond with a statement that will interpret along the lines of “I’m quite sure you think you’re right, and I am generous enough to let you continue to think that way, despite the fact that I know for certain that you’re wrong”. I’ve managed to condense this attitude into a particularly smug smile which drives people mad because…well, how do you argue with a smile?
  6. I’m not a fan of shopping. If I don’t see anything I like within the first 10 minutes, I either pick the first thing that fits, or give it up and leave. Shopping tires me out…literally. Being dragged along on a shopping trip will have me gasping for breath and looking for air after about 45 minutes.
  7. I love to sleep. Nothing makes me happier than sleep. I could sleep all day and sleep all night. Sleeping Beauty on Sleeping pills has got nothing on me.
  8. I don’t do social conversations – you know, the ones where you talk about the weather, fashion – all dem polite conversation things. I’m not good on answering questions about myself either. As a matter of fact, the quickest way to shut me up is to ask me too many questions about myself, my actions or my whereabouts; my answers get shorter and shorter and eventually I make like a Ninja and vanish. “Tell me about yourself” is in my opinion, the worst set of words ever cobbled together into a sentence.
  9. I had an experience last year that left me with emotional fallout so bad that one night, I found myself sitting under a street light at Gwarimpa junction at 2am. Although life has “tired” me many times, I have never before and since then been literally and totally tired of life. A car dropped off a young man at the junction and drove off. He started to head his way, noticed me and came to ask me what was wrong. I’m not sure I was very coherent. He answered that although he suspected that I was a spirit, he would rather let me kill him than allow me stay by myself there. I didn’t want company so I started to walk, intending to walk back to town. I missed the turn off and started heading towards Kubwa. The young man walked with me; told me his life story, asked to hear mine. I didn’t say much, just told him I was kinda hoping that the night would end with me in heaven. We walked like that for a long time – I was oblivious to where I was or where I was headed. After musch persuasion on his part, I finally agreed to get into a cab that dropped us off at Wuse market. I told the young man goodnight, gave him all the money I had on me and started walking again. I looked across the road and there he was, walking, keeping me in his sight, I crossed the road and yelled at him to go home, he told me he would go when I finally got into a cab. Fed up, I got into a taxi and zoomed off. I never saw the young man again.

10. God has major plans for my life. I don’t know what exactly, but I know that His hand covers me. That night, I could’ve been raped, kidnapped or murdered. That night I could have died…I didn’t. That night, I finally got it into my head that there was more going on in my life than me and my issues. I hit my rock bottom that night. I got to the end of myself. I literally had nowhere else to go – spiritually and emotionally. The funny thing is, in getting to the end of myself, I encountered the limitless reserve that is God Himself. I’m not the best Christian in the world, I don’t even think I’m a particularly good Christian, but surely I owe it to God to make the best of this life that He has given me and I intend to do my best – by His grace.

This has been hard for me to write. I don’t like to share so much of myself, but lately, I’ve found myself getting tired of so much of the plastic that seems to characterise our lives, this myth we perpetuate that we have no struggles. It seems to me that so many of us spend so much time looking right, we forget to check whether we are alright. I do a mean impression of perfect, I’ve lived that life – great on the outside but falling apart inside, empty, miserable. I’d much rather be real, show you the cracks and how they reveal the greatness of the Glue that holds me together.

So here’s to stepping into the spotlight, here’s to leaving the shadows, here’s to being vulnerable.

God bless you guys.