Friday, May 27, 2011

Total Charge: Spirit, Soul and Body (2)

Hello everyone. In my previous POST, I had declared that I was taking charge of my spirit, soul and body. In that post, I talked about taking charge of the spirit and explained that our spirits were our core.
In this post, I’ll be talking about how I intend to take charge of my soul.
The soul/mind is the seat of the intellect, will and emotions. It is that part of you that connects to other human beings and specifically gets nourished when you have loving, peaceful relationships with other members of the world.
These are the areas I need to get on lock down.
Intellect- For about three months now, I have been reading extensively and I’ve found it so rewarding especially since it has been the one period where I have not been studying to pass any exams. I have been learning about slavery, African American history, the Holocaust, Anti Semitism, racial stereotypes, King Jaja Opobo's role in the slavery era, the hsitory of the church, the British Monarchy and a whole lot of minutae and believe me, it’s been pretty exhilarating. Reading, pursuing knowledge does nourish the soul and I encourage more of that for you and I. 
Being well read and informed increases self esteem and it ensures that you never run out of conversation fodder. That in turn guarantees more connections  because people really do love to hang out with people who know.
Play- Yes, you heard right. Play! Someone once said, that somewhere between childhood and adulthood, people forget how to play. Play involves recreational sports and games, competitive sport and games, hobbies and stuff like that.
Apart from requiring you to think, they encourage healthy competitiveness which builds self confidence and promotes a team spirit. So, I’ve decided to take my play regimen more seriously and be more proactive about my recreational endeavours. This has included watching TV and doing back flip with my son. lol (I intend to get more sophisticated)
Vibrant relationships- All relationships are important to an extent. Wife- husband, mother- child,  sister- brother etc. Are your relationships in the doldrums? Do you go through the day without pursuing any form of friendships. When last did you call your dad? Your sister serving in Kano?
I intend to take family and friends more seriously, because I’ve realised I’m happier when I’m at peace with all the people that matter in my life.
Career accomplishment- Do you know that a change in your job could make you happier? That getting out and pursuing your dreams could maximally increase your joy? How do you explain that ever since I started serious writing in September 2010, and  getting my pieces published all over, I have been ten times as happy as I was before. Defintely not a coincidence. Time to ramp it up.
De- toxifying and de- stressing- The truth is taking charge of my soul may well involve removing certain toxic habits, relationships and any thing that really does give heart ache. If you are involved in a habit or an activity that constantly makes you unhappy, then it is time to DELETE.  No more toxicity.
Other stuff I'm planning is trying never to get broke ( By living within my means) lol. Believe me, it's important. If you aren't rich, you can at least be happy is my new mantra.
Next post, we''ll talk about taking charge of the body. Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Total Charge: Spirit, Soul and Body

I once said to you that we are spirits, who reside in bodies and possess souls. Tripartite beings, that's what we are. You knew this? Oh well. But do you take of 'yourself'; as in every part of you?

I recently made a fresh commitment. Fresh is an apt qualifier in this case because there'd been lots of attempts. I'm taking charge of my life again. Taking it back from the reins of purposelessness, mindless, routinous 'living'. Is that even living? Okay, it sounds pretty dramatic. If you know me, you would know that it appears as if I have it all under control. Not one to be living a purposeless life. Maybe, it's because I have a different opinion of purpose.

A life of purpose is a life that acts, not reacts. And that is what I've been doing a lot. Reacting. It's time to start acting. Doing what I do because I planned to do it. I welcome you to my experience.

SPIRIT- I'm going to take care of my spirit from now on. You see, the spirit needs to eat. It deserves the right to be nourished so that it can remain robust and alert. My spirit, my inner core needs to be constantly hooked up to the source from which he came.

"And God breathed into man and he became a living soul".

So in short he gave spirit to that soul. So, I'm hooking back up again. To a direct connection to the blast of that nostril. 

I intend to achieve that by;

1. Praying everyday; really every moment. You know keeping in touch with he who made me. Oh. by the way, I believe I was made. I'm too intricately put together for anything else. I have to have been made by something that wasn't made. You get?

2. God, who made me said somethings, yes he spoke about what he likes and doesn't like. I have to read those daily (the Bible) and the word spoken from the mouth of people who walk with him. Wouldn't want to offend the life giver.

3. Doing what he wants. With each successive act of rebellion, I've undertaken in the past. I deadened my spirit. So, sin hurt me eventually. I need to reverse that trend by a conscious reminder to live up to the 'calling'.

4. Giving. Not of money alone. But of essence, time, talents to help the world. That soothes the spirit. The knowledge that it has a purpose. 

I'll tell you about how I'm handling the health of my body and my soul in a follow up post. Join me in this journey and tell me what else can help you and I.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Living - Short Story

“I’ll be in Lagos soon. I’ll stay only a few days. I can’t wait to see you”, Tricia, my old friend says.
She lives in Abuja, and is just out of a two year relationship with her boyfriend.
“We’ll go to the mall. I’ll take you to dinner. It’ll be a blast. It’s been like... what... five years?”
“A blast”, I say, thinking as I get down to this business of marriage, surely single ‘blasting’ friends are important.
Connections are important. She’ll take a cab from the airport, bring a ‘few’ things.

“We live in a small flat”, I tell her. So you have to sleep on the couch in the parlour, because Tony and I would be sleeping in our bed while the twins sleep on their cots. Not that you can sleep there”, making a half hearted attempt at humour, my confidence slipping.
“Not to worry, she says. Can you believe we’re thirty already. We’ll talk, talk and talk.There’s so much to talk about.”
Uh huh, I say, thinking she’s always been interesting and she’s an Abuja babe. So for sure we’ll have lots to talk about.

Wednesday arrives. I put on my jeans and tie my braids in a pony tail and make room in the kid’s wardrobe. Tricia always was a clotheshorse.
There’s a knock on the door. I rush outside to the cab. There she is looking as chic as ever; flawless, fair skin, perfectly done weave parted down the side of her face and falling down in waves down her shoulder. She is wearing thin True Religion jeans and white gold jewellery.
We hug and shriek and gurgle all at once. It’s like ‘yesterday’ and what best friends we always were. We don’t dare mention that we had a terrible fight in the University and ended up not speaking to ourselves for several years.
“You look fabulous, I say. So hot.”
“So do you”, she says, her smoky eyes scanning my homely outfit. My C- section won’t let me wear my ‘skinnies’.

I carry two of her bags up the stairs and she carrying the smaller bag, murmuring that her ankle aches her when she carries heavy stuff. She is wearing four inch Louboutin shoes.
“Here we are, I say, opening the door and leading the way into the flat. My nanny carries Tami out to meet us in the parlour. Timi, my son, is still asleep.
“Very nice”, she says, when she views my flat. “So cute”, she coos at Tami.
She proceeds to unpack several gorgeous outfits and hangs them in the closet space, pushing aside Tami and Timi’s few Sunday pieces. Her Clinique makeup and bottles take up the entire bathroom top. I am wondering what Tony would think.

Over juice we talk a while. She tells me about her former boyfriend, Ahmed. That she’s “out there now. I have to live”
“Let me make semo for you and then we’ll watch Africa Magic”, I suggest, feeling already exhausted.
She looks horrified. She doesn’t eat  “like that”. Nor should I. “Fat”, she repeats several times. She wants to eat out at Halchz, in the mall.
“Oh well, she’s paying”, I assure myself.

I call a taxi and at the restaurant, she floats from the car, rushing ahead while I fumble in my bag for the fare.
In a high pitched American accent, Tricia orders Merlot and a delicious dinner. We talk about Abuja and her travels to London, Dubai and New York and she says offhandedly that Ahmed took her to Europe for the weekend many times.
She is interesting and informed on many levels. She then goes on about her need to find a new man. “Gotta live”, she says. The bill arrives on a steel tray. It sits.
“Well, it was a wonderful dinner”, I say.
She waves her bejewelled fingers. “When you visit in Abuja, I’ll reciprocate”
She nods. “Yes, I have to teach you to live. Look at me, I learn, look, live”
I pay the high bill on my already empty debit card. I assure myself that this is once in a lifetime.

She talks about the few dates she snatched up since Ahmed. How depressing she found it. “They just aren’t ‘it’. Hausa guys know how to treat a woman;  I’m not sure about these other guys.”
The following three days, she drags me to the cinema, a comedy show, the dainty shops that line Awolowo Road, and the Clinique shop where the bottles are replenished. She stays up all night watching E!. She loves Kim Kardashian’s buttock job. I’m exhausted.

In the morning, I’m changing Timi’s diaper when she says I have to get my nails done. I say  it’ll be dangerous because I may poke the twin’s in the buttock when I insert their suppository.
“You’re too fearful of everything. You have to live”, she replies.

Finally it’s the last day. After slipping into her heels, Tricia insists her ankles are aching her, so I carry her luggage downstairs. We hug. We cry. We promise to go to London together sometime and definitely we’ll call every day. What fun we had. She blows a kiss and we wave until the taxi disappears down the street.

Back at the flat, I put a pot of water on the cooker and pour semo powder in, turning it over so vigorously, sweat pours down my face. I wrap it up and put it in a warmer. For Tony when he returns. I live.

This story of mine was published on Bella Naija today. The plot was inspired by a piece by my 73 year old new writing mentor. Picture credits are Bella Naija's.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

419 - A Young Woman's Experience

I usually take a bike to a certain stop before I get a cab to work. Today, all eight bikes I stopped wouldn’t agree to take me (weird!). I decided to cross over. After waiting  5 minutes and flagging down two more bikes, I eventually stopped a cab. He said he was going my way. I got in the front seat. A well dressed guy got in the backseat.
Fast forward two minutes, the driver stops the car and the guy at the back gets off. He did not pay. The driver and I call his attention (He was already half way across the street). Guy returns. Hands over a note to driver (Fare is 50 naira). On opening his hand, driver realises it is ... wait for it... 5 British pounds!! Driver and I look askance. I ask bewildered, “na fake money?!”  Driver says,  “no na real!” Driver calls him back.
Guy returns. And after muttering some indecipherable language (maybe French), he hands over another note to driver. Guy hurriedly leaves. Driver opens hand and viola.... it is a 10 dollar note and a 5 dollar note. I am gobsmacked! What is going on? Driver calls him back and says to me, sombre faced, “Madam, I’m a Christian, I have to tell him the money is ‘over’. Guy is called back.
Driver- “Oga, this money you gave me is too much. My money is 50 naira. Are you a foreigner?”
Guy-  Mutters gibberish.  Gabon and Francais decipherable.
Driver- "Where are you going? Or do you want me to take you to Gabon embassy to change the money?"
And this is where FeistyPen bolts, calmly and very dignified.
I turn around, to see just if my sensors were merely in overdrive.  But alas they were right on target. Car and driver and man are nowhere to be seen. I look further down the road and all I see is a cloud of dust. The speed is toh badt!

I shoulda known or should I have?!
1.   I have been travelling this route every work day for the past year or so. No more than 2 bikes refused to go to my stop. Today, it was a record eight!
2.   After crossing and waiting to flag down a cab, a convoy of ten cars stop in front of me as if trying to hit me. A mere coincidence? Maybe, but it sure was unusual.
3.   Cabs do not normally ply that route especially if it isn’t ‘drop’. Today’s was a first. Definitely unusual, but I was running late.
4.   Guy at the backseat never actually said a word or told driver where he was going. But driver ‘knew’ and stopped.
5.   Driver sounded so sure when he said, “The money na real. Must have been  to sow the seed for later use!
6.    When driver asked man if he was a foreigner and would like to be taken to the Gabon Embassy to change the money, my typical Las gidi response should have been, “Wetin consign you?” and by the way is the friggin Gabon Embassy on the way to Epe?!

This is what would have happenned if I stayed:

If I was still in the cab after guy acquiesces to go to the Gabon Embassy, driver would have made an effort to drive a few more metres towards my final destination. On the way, either driver or guy would have asked, the“madam, you fit help us change some of  money?” Notice the use of 'us' . This is some two-man gang squad! Driver would  have brought out some of his own naira and changed a small amount to get me to relax. Then I may have brought out some of mine, since the driver was changing his too. As soon as my naira touches their hand and their ‘dollar’ mine,  it is at this point they say, the “jazz transfers”.

The jazz in question is capable of instilling in you an uncanny desire to change naira, yours, your father’s, your friend’s, your company’s...... into dollars and that is when your dilemma begins. You may need to sell your house!

I escaped. Thank God. Yes, I thank him. It is interesting to note that the decision to get off the cab wasn’t really much of a decision; just my hand moving to the door knob in a split second and the rest of my body following suit.

Guys, I had 70, 000 naira in my bag, and it is just the fifth of the month. Some starving there eh!

And oh yes, the first bike I flagged down after the incident, carried me with no incident. Go figure!

Have you had any experience like this before? What do you think made you escape if in fact you did?