I am still asleep…

I woke up that morning to the sound of the phone beeping. As a matter of fact, it was the beeping that woke me up.

I took the call groggily and turned round to go back to sleep. Then I noticed the time was past 6am and I should have been up much earlier.

My first response to that information from the clock was, “I am still asleep.”

How could I still be asleep when I had taken a call and seen clearly that it was well past my wake up time?

But that is how we sometimes run our lives. We refuse to wake up and face reality, even when we know it time to do so.

We walk through life half asleep and end up waking up well after we have missed vital deadlines, and fallen into trouble.

I see it happen everyday:

The student who becomes serious after failing an exam they had the capacity to pass; the business man who sits up when he has “slept” through the fall of his corporation; the distressed man who begins to run helter skelter when his ignored wife moves out of the home…

The list is endless.

Some people say, experience is the best teacher but does the experience have to be yours?

The answer is “No!”

Learn from others’ mistakes and shape your life. Walk awake through your life. Make right choices, and follow through.

It is past your wake up time my friend,get up and brew your own coffee!

Shalom!

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COUNT YOUR T-SHIRTS

I have lost count of the number of times I stood in front of my closet agonizing over what t-shirt to put on for my early morning walks, or to go to the shop or even just wear around the house. Sometimes I wear the same T-shirt repeatedly simply because I believe I do not have enough.

In the past few weeks I have been doing a lot of travelling and last week I came home from a long trip away with loads of laundry. Knowing that I would soon be off again on another trip I decided that I would wash a little every day until I was done with the backlog. My washing machine is bad so I would have to do all the washing by hand. And that’s how I made this startling discovery.

While sorting through my t-shirts, I realized that I seemed to have quite a number more than I thought. I began to think that I possibly had up to a dozen or more. So, I started to count. I have a separate space for t-shirts in my closet which I had largely ignored and mixed up with up other items of clothing. I decided, ‘’no more, this space would be for t-shirts only.’’
Then I took inventory.

As of this morning, I have sorted, rescued, found, washed, hung and retrieved twenty-five t-shirts from various places of my house and still counting!
Twenty-five t-shirts? Me?? How? From where did they come? How is it I never knew I was so T-shirt rich?

I was pleasantly surprised. Simply by deciding to be more focused with my wardrobe maintenance I have found a huge cache of clothes I didn’t even know I had. All types, colours and sizes of t-shirts, bought by me or received as gifts at one time or the other in the recent past, yet I lived my life like I had maybe half a dozen t-shirts!

What other areas of my life might I be complaining and grumbling about simply because I’m not looking closely enough? What challenges are you crying over because you aren’t taking proper stock? Isn’t it possible that if we focused more on the blessings we would find that we aren’t lacking as much as we thought?

Maybe, before we complain about that thing that isn’t working, we should focus instead on what is. Maybe all we really need to do at this time is go count the t-shirts. They may be more than you think!

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Reduced to clear?

I was washing up yesterday morning when I noticed the label on this mug.

As an avid mug collector I’m always on the look out for pretty mugs at reasonable prices.

Sometime last year I saw these mugs in a shop, they had been reduced to clear and I quickly grabbed two. I took them home and because I had no immediate space I packed them away.

Recently my kids brought one of them out and we have been using them for a variety of drinkables.

More than a year after purchase, I notice that the shop label is still on it.

Reduced to 150

Not good enough to be sold at premium price

Been on the shelf too long

Bla bla bla!

My heart broke for my mug. I quickly yanked off the label and washed it clean. It was a little reluctant to let go of the label…”reduced!” It seemed to be saying to me:

“I’m unworthy, just leave me be..”

For far too many of us, the label that life and circumstances hung on us aeons ago is still around our necks.

Someone called you names in High school and thirty years and three degrees later, that label is still hanging on your neck.

A husband walked out on you and hung the label of “difficult woman” on you and ten years later you walk around with your head bowed in shame and low self-esteem!

Just like my mug -reduced to clear..

What you need to understand is this: the inability of the shop to sell the mug at market value does not take away from it’s intrinsic value.

The shop couldn’t handle it but the shopper bought it. It’s value to the shopper is the value of what it is capable of delivering. In this case, a delicious cup of coffee, beverage, juice etc.

Don’t allow a label hang on you past its date. The minute that mug was taken off the shelf in the shop its value changed forever.

Focus on the value you are capable of delivering today and wash off that old misleading label. Reduction may have brought you to where you are but it is recognition of your intrinsic value that will determine where next you’ll go.

My mug is up on the shelf, standing with pride. What about you?

Happy Independence Nigeria

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE NIGERIA!
Nigeria is 58!

Somehow, I am struggling to whip up the usual patriotic fervor to wish my beloved country a happy Independence Day celebration. In years past I was able to come up with something but this morning, all I feel is heaviness.
Heaviness at the number of basic things that are not working and the sense of hopelessness that envelops the land.

As a young child, Independence Day celebrations were a big deal. Food was exchanged between neighbours and friends; school children held parades, and old men drank in glee, when they remembered the nation was free.

But today I’m asking myself, ‘’what exactly is this freedom we speak of?’’

What is the real value of freedom when we lack the essentials of life?
Don’t get me wrong. I am not advocating that we return to colonialism but how independent are we right now, fifty-eight years after independence?

Children are unable to afford books that cost less than a dollar at elementary school level. They struggle all through elementary school, sometimes studying in open air classrooms or under leaky roofs, sitting at broken down desks, taught by frustrated Teachers! A good number give up and drop out. An impressive number gets through and somehow make it to the end of secondary school. Then a bad dream becomes a nightmare. Gaining admission into the university is a struggle as difficult as David facing the lion and the bear, and very often this David does not make it out alive.

University life is fraught with the struggles of ancient books, broken down equipment and embittered lecturers. The list of woes is endless and becomes an undefeatable goliath when the child finally graduates and gets into the labour market!

There is a strong disconnect between the rulers and the ruled; government policies are beautiful on paper but have little relevance for the people. Democracy is nothing more than ‘’a shiny toy’’ that the people play with and whose value they have no understanding of.

In the past few weeks and months, I have had cause to travel extensively across Nigeria. Everywhere I have gone, the story is the same. The roads are terrible, the airports are shameful and infrastructure is in shambles. The usual ebullience associated with Nigerians is lacking and all I see is deep dissatisfaction with the status quo. Yet everyone seems helpless. I see the quiet desperation of people, struggling like they are in a pool of jelly, unable to get out though uncomfortable with where they find themselves.

So, again I ask, what is the value of this freedom we have?

Those who can send their kids abroad for better education. They go abroad for quality healthcare. We import food and drink, drugs and pharmaceuticals, etc. our best clothes are imported and our cars are imported. A foreign graduate is given consideration for jobs above his local colleague and yet we say we are free?

Happy Independence Nigeria, may your sun rise in the morning.

Nigeria

Keeping the big picture in mind

I am currently doing a rewrite of one of my older books for children. I wrote this book several years ago but recently I needed to do a review and a rewrite.

This is part of the writing process I do not particularly enjoy. I like to write once and never go back to it again, ever! But it is something I must do. It is necessary, for now.

By the time I’m done, the book would be smaller, there would be fewer words, and I would have added a glossary, changed some pictures, and generally made enough changes to make it suitable for the readership I am targeting.

I know it would be exciting when I finally see the ” new old book” in the bookstores, I will be very happy to see the smile on a child’s face as they discover something new from this book I have written. 

But right now, I am not enjoying the process. I have sleepless nights and agonizing moments of wondering what to remove and what to keep as I hunch over my computer.

And as always, I am learning a lesson about real life.

Great outcomes are not always the result of enjoyable processes and procedures. No woman ever enjoys labour, or the whole process of being pregnant. The peasant farmer does not enjoy the grueling process of cutting and weeding and pruning. That something is not pleasant does not mean it is not good.

Buildings look ugly when under construction. When the process seems tiring and ugly think about the finish line and how the outcome would make you feel, change a life, alter a situation. Keeping the big picture in my mind makes it easier to go through the process.

What ugly or unpleasant process are you currently going through? 
Comment and let me know. May you find the strength to go through, and come out stronger and better!

Do Editors need editors?

One of the questions that was asked during the W2I conference was, as a writer/editor do you need to give your work to another writer to edit for you?

Interesting question. Interesting stuff happens at trade shows!

Let me tell a little story to answer that question.
As a child I loved writing essays, and letters too. I loved anything that would require me to write for a long time, loved filling page after page with my not-so-beautiful handwriting. If it was for a test or an exam, I would shoot up my hand after a few minutes and say, “paper”, to the often annoyance of people less inclined to write long epistles. I could write five or six pages while my classmates were struggling to fill two sheets. And I always got high marks; but I wasn’t always top of the class in English language or essay writing. I was very often top, but not always and certainly not often enough for my liking. And I knew why.

I was bedeviled by a reluctance to read my work over. I would write and submit without going through it again to see if I had made a mistake, misspelt a word, or left out a vital point. And I would lose marks because of that. I knew the reason I was losing marks but I continued with my self-sabotaging practice.

Unfortunately when something becomes a habit it is difficult to break and that childhood habit followed me into my writing many years later. I would cring after posting an article because it was only then I would see how many errors there were in it. Yet, I was editing for others and making sure they had error-free documents!

Some of my earlier books have avoidable errors because I was reluctant to give out my work for proper editing. But I have learnt, and I have grown.

No document leaves my hand now until I have checked and cross-checked it several times, and no book of mine gets published until it has been properly edited by someone else.

There are several reasons why an editor needs an editor and soon we will talk about them in my newsletter.

So to answer that question, yes, an editor does need an editor!

Writing To Inspire 2018

Trade shows and the writing trade
Sometime in 2017, I had the privilege of participating in a webinar for a group of business people. It was a diverse group and the organizers somehow found a way to give general, yet relevant advice to everyone.
I do not remember all I learnt that day, (by the way, it is futile to think we can recall all we learn from seminars and workshops. That is why you must always take notes, refer to them often and try to apply as much as you can).
One of the things that stayed with me from that webinar is the importance of trade shows no matter your trade. The speaker said to us that trade shows have a way of inspiring and motivating the “trader” and he advised that we put aside some money every year for trade shows.
Earlier this year, I attended a trade show for my network marketing business and I’m still reaping the benefits of that trip.
This past weekend was another trade show of sorts for me. It was the Writing To Inspire conference 2018. 
It was very impactful just being in a roomful of writers, readers, booksellers, poets, songwriters, graphic artistes and so many others that make the writing industry possible.
I believe I came away a better writer. I made new friends, expanded my network, and strengthened my resolve to keep working at my craft till I “become.”
What trade are you in? What trade show are you planning for?
Comment and let’s see if we can help make your dream come true.