Things To Do This Summer: Go Home

Toyin & I

My cousin and I: It’s been over 10 years since I saw her

I haven’t been home to Nigeria in nearly 6 years. It’s a long time to stay away but I’m glad I got a chance to go home this summer.

I spent a majority of the time with my parents. My children spent lots of quality time with their cousins, uncles, aunties and grandparents. Going home has played a part in grounding me, remembering who I am and where I come from. A busy life makes one forget.

Part of our family and friends as we caught this summer

Part of our family and friends as we caught up this summer

It was a blessing to see how big my family is (in number and in heart), a wide network of people who will be there for me but most importantly for my children.
With most of my time spent in Lagos, I was able to see the progress my country has made. In many ways, certain common practices are ahead of some developed countries. For instance, money transfer is dead easy and can be done with mobile phones using text messaging.

There is contact less payment – nothing like what we have in the UK with debit cards that don’t require pin entry at purchases below £20. Contact less payment in Nigeria makes it possible to make payments of any amount from a mobile phone as you stand right there in a shop. This is possible with 4G wi-fi portable devices that can be carried around in a handbag so internet could literally be everywhere. Indeed, IT/telecommunications are market leading sectors of the Nigerian economy, and perhaps leading in the global economy also.

A sign at a nearby GT bank: Set up a savings account via text

A sign at a nearby GT bank: Set up a savings account via text

We are a long way from where we are going but we are taking significant steps. Infrastructure such as electricity and good roads, customer service and coherent business processes are all part of what is required for the next steps. Seeing Nigeria as a whole grow and develop warms my heart. The people are innovative and have worked long and hard to prosper. A positive outlook and an amazing sense of humour get Nigerians through practically anything. We hope for the best and prepare for the worst. This is how we are able to laugh and build lasting character.

I won’t leave it this long again. Going home is important for us all. Wherever is “home” for you is where you feel loved and at peace. It’s where people you consider to be family reside. I watched my children feel at home too. For them, Nigeria will no longer be an unfamiliar place in Africa. For me, Nigeria will no longer be away from my heart.

You Must Believe In Yourself

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Conversations with my 6-year-old daughter, Titi are almost always amazing and inspiring.

Every morning, she starts her day with something like,

“Mummy, I had the strangest dream!” I encourage her to go on. “I dreamt that I built an amusement park called ‘Titi HappyLand’ and all my friends came there….”

She goes on. “They paid 10 pence to get on a ride and they were all happy!”

My 10-year-old son interjects at this point,

“Titi, 10 pence is not enough to charge people!” I smile, grateful that it isn’t me breaking the news to her. He continues to give her executive advice, “Titi HappyLand will close down very quickly at that price, Titi.”

Titi frowns, clearly confused.

“Ok…eh..”

She makes a funny face and a thinking sound as she drums her fingers on her lips. Her eyes are staring up at the ceiling.

“Ten POUNDS then, ” she announces, finger now up in the air emphasizing the eureka moment with the word “pounds”.

As I listen to this and other inspiring ideas my children often throw around, I wonder at what point their belief and confidence will become cornered by the world. When will society tell them it is too hard to build an amusement park and call it ‘Titi HappyLand’?

When is it that we start to doubt our capabilities and believe in our incompetence more than we believe in our capabilities? I wonder.

The truth is, confidence wanes when we allow people or society tell us what we can and cannot do. We have people in our lives that laugh at our dreams and undermine any changes we try to make.

We become cynical about real change and progress, betting that “it won’t last” or “it won’t work”. Many times, we are afraid that we will fail or that we will not be accepted as we are. The discouraging words we accept into our hearts stops us dead on the track leading to our dreams. Before long, we become people who say negative words to others, doubting anyone can do that amazing thing they want to try.

I fell into the same trap of doubt but in the last few months, I have revisited my dreams. I can do stuff! I just needed to stay still and listen to myself. I was afraid and uneasy with the uncertainty but now I have a glimpse of what could be. I haven’t gained any new knowledge or skill. I have simply peered into the world of my dreams and I now have the nerve to believe I can make my dreams come true. It doesn’t mean I will elude failure. I may fail at first but you can bet that I will keep trying to succeed.

What would you do if you had nothing to fear? What if you were guaranteed success? Would you follow your dreams?

Image from flickr.com user: Jennifer 
- Rainy Day Inspiration :: You Must Believe In Yourself

The Dark Side of Crazy

What do I call this? Paranoia, perfection or just plain crazy?

Whatever it is, I want to it make it the reason why I put out the best work. It should be why I’m reliable, dependable, honest. But countless times, the compulsion to do the right thing is the worst thing about me. It often backfires or it turns out it just wasn’t worth it. No good turn goes unpunished as they say. But I can’t ALWAYS do the right thing (I do want to so badly…).

An overactive conscience, a judging voice from within? Who knows.

What am I learning these days, you might ask?

Well, I’m learning to put myself on Mute.

Three weeks ago:

A young lady gave me a pound for the swimming pool lockers one day. It was an awkward exchange. I asked if she had a pound and she said, “Sure…” and handed me a £1 coin just as she walked out of the changing rooms.

I couldn’t believe it! I didn’t know her name or anything! How in the world am I going to pay her back??

Fortunately, I spotted her last week leaving the gym as I was getting there. I ran after her, on to the street and across the traffic lights. Then I lost her. I couldn’t see the street she entered. Sigh.

I have an extra £1 coin in my pocket every time I go the gym in hopes that I can return it to her. I know what you’re thinking. She probably doesn’t remember me, right? But I’m convinced she’s laying awake at night thinking, “I can’t believe that lady never returned my pound!”

I hate my mind sometimes.

Sobering up: the good, the bad and the absolute worst

As I get over the ‘high’ of corporate life, I reflect on the good, the bad and the absolute worst things about being alone – and at home – with my personal transition.

the good
a. One and a half hours longer in bed
b. Having only one mobile phone (I keep looking for the other one)
c. No demands other than making sure family is clean, fed, watered and spoken to (easy!)
d. Exercising in the mornings – fantastic start to my day
e. Nurturing my ideas…plotting, creating, building – great stuff!
f. Watching lots of TV, brain numbing stuff but I think my brain is grateful
g. Not dressing up to go out – need to be careful that I eventually do have a shower though
h. Drinking lots of tea (I no more need coffee but missing my usual “small cappuccino”)
i. Being more patient as I’m less in a hurry equals less shouting at my poor children (yay!)

the bad

a. Waking up in morning with no plan for the day, so I often just lay there
b. Missing my work phone – it made me feel important
c. Missing deadlines and solving problems – it made me feel important 
d. Worrying that my exercise routine won’t last once I find how to fill up my time
e. Having ideas then physically restraining myself from doing too much about them
f. Watching lots of TV, brain numbing stuff but and I think my brain is grateful gravy
g. Missing dressing up to go out to work – it made me feel important (yes, there’s a recurring theme!)
h. Missing the chat around the Costa coffee kiosk at the office
i. Being impatient when I have to pick up after my family – I used to have a job!!

the absolute worst

Realising that my job defined me so much. It’s why I took setbacks to heart. It’s perhaps part of why I had to stop and define myself some other way. High definition…loading…

Sobering up: the shortest list I’ve ever made

The last day finally came.

Two weeks ago, I stopped corporate work and began a journey with a couple of good ideas and my passion to guide me. It was a hard day to leave. The whole day was in slow motion. It began with me waking before 5am and not being able to go back to sleep. I forgot to put on some perfume (thankfully, I remembered deodorant) and I forgot to buy fuel on my way to work which meant I had only 4 miles worth of diesel by the time I set out on my 30-mile journey home. It was a close call that could have led to pushing my Mini all the way home. What can I say? I wasn’t myself. Change is exciting but very very scary…

I will miss my colleagues, many had become good friends.

Every career decision I’ve ever made has terrified me. I always hope a voice from the sky will very loudly announce to me (and bystanders) exactly what it is I need to do.

I hear a subtle voice together with a soulful nudge in a plausible direction. Then I start to gather evidence and see ‘signs’ that I’m on the right track. Oftentimes, I don’t find many people who have trailed that path…but I continue like a 4-year old in a garden maze laced with possibilities. Call it arrogance or naivety – this is how I’m built. 

438599_SMPNG_34863046T9949410UMy initial goals are simple. I want to get a few things straight before the madness begins in earnest. Here is a live stream of stuff I want to do:

Establish a regular exercise routine

Learn more about global and British politics

 

It’s my shortest list ever. I might be subconsciously leaving space for much more things that will undoubtedly appear over time. 

I got intrigued by politics after following stories and eventually voting in the Scottish referendum last year. I’d like to learn more about politics in general – it’s an area I know little about. But if I achieve only a regular exercise routine, I’d be happy. With the road ahead full of uncertainty and excitement, the more blood flowing to my head the better.

 

Cartoon and license to use from: Ron Leishman

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