Tuesday, February 28, 2006

About Me 101

1. make a mean lasagna
2. sew
3. speak German
4. am a morning person
5. love life
6. enjoy people watching
7. am a Radio Four addict
8. secretly have a bit of Bree (see desperate housewives) lurking around inside me
9. always eat the batter off my fish fingers first.
10. save my piece of meat till the last

I spend too much time
11. in front of the TV
12. Dreaming and not doing
13. surfing the world wide web
14. worrying about money
15. doing things that don’t add value to my life
16. on housework
17. in the kitchen
18. procrastinating
19. cooking up excuses for number 12
20. brushing my teeth

I don’t spend enough time
21. on myself
22. reading my Bible
23. laughing
24. keeping in touch with old friends
25. listening to music
26. writing
27. in the great outdoors
28. listening to my inner man
29. doing the things I enjoy
30. being still

Pet Peeves
31. used teabags in the sink
32. emails with ‘Fwd’ in front of them
33. overused acronyms especially LOL
34. chain mail of any sort
35. sales calls when I am in the middle of something important
36. queue jumpers
37. people who wait to just as they board before rummaging around for change to pay for their bus fare
38. wet towels on the bed
39. using my stuff without asking
40. not putting things back where they were found.

I dislike
41. being called ‘my dear’
42. when people ask ‘so when are you having the next one (baby)?’
43. rudeness
44. people spitting
45. being taken for granted
46. people who ignore the signs and still go ahead and use their mobile phones.
47. confrontations
48. people who moan all the time
49. the smell of freshly cut grass
50. day old food

I can’t resist
51. a bargain
52. beautiful blank notebooks
53. unusually coloured paper
54. hot chocolate
55. woven baskets
56. a freebie
57. unique pottery
58. blog crawling
59. cacti
60. a pretty pair of leather sandals

One day I would like to
61. be rich
62. travel the world
63. Meet Maya Angelou
64. ditto Oprah Winfrey
65. set up a life skills training institution for disadvantaged women in Nigeria
66. Own my own business
67. actually stick to my original plans
68. be mysterious
69. get published
70. go to New Zealand to visit my pen pal of 23 years

I wish
71. I had more sense of adventure
72. My daughter would let me sleep past 6am in the morning
73. I could turn back the hands of time – just a few years
74. I knew for sure – about anything
75. Summer would hurry up and arrive
76. I believed in myself more
77. I was better at making small talk
78. I didn’t have to work
79. The world was at peace
80. my neighbors kids would put their blooming crisp packets in the bin and not in my front garden!!

This year I want to
81. have another child
82. travel to the Bahamas
83. get my business up and running
84. change my maiden name in my passport ( I have been putting it off for four years!!)
85. read the Bible from cover to cover
86. quit my job
87. become a millionaire
88. move house
89. be more positive
90. save more!

When I am old and grey, I want to be able to say
91. I was a giver
92. I lived a fulfilled and meaningful life
93. My family loves me
94. I regret nothing
95. I achieved all my goals
96. I lived with faith
97. I can dance the socks off any twenty year old
98. I am not senile
99. I can still tie my own shoe laces
100. I will be sorely missed when I am gone


101. I am glad this is done. Now you go do it!

* idea from One Woman’s Words

Tagged- and passing it on.

I have been tagged by Ore. I now have to answer the following questions and tag four others. I am going to tag Naijaman, Rombo, Molara and Adaure. Hope you don't mind people! Enjoy!

1. Black and White or Color; how do you prefer your movies?

Ans: I actually prefer black and white but since most movies are made in colour these days I don’t have much of a choice.

2. What is the one single subject that bores you to near-death?

Ans: Football, without a shadow of a doubt. Eleven (it is eleven, isn’t it?) grown men running from one end of a field to another chasing a little leather ball????????? And the obscene amounts of money they are paid as well. Ooooh, it doesn’t bear thinking about.

3. MP3s, CDs, Tapes or Records: what is your favorite medium for prerecorded music?

Ans: Slowing getting into the groove of MP3’s, but still prefer CD’s. Just looking at the rows and rows of my collection gives me a sort of smug satisfaction.

4. You are handed one first class trip plane ticket to anywhere in the world and ten million dollars cash. All of this is yours provided that you leave and not tell anyone where you are going … Ever. This includes family, friends, everyone. Would you take the money and ticket and run?

Ans: A non-stater. My family of course. It's tempting though. hehehe

5. Seriously, what do you consider the world’s most pressing issue now?

Ans: Mutual acceptance of people regardless of creed, colour, beliefs and lifestyle. This sounds corny I know, but underneath all the who-haa we are all the same. All you have to do is read through a couple of blogs to see I am right. We are feel the same, worry about similar things, have the need to make contact and so on.

6. How would you rectify the world’s most pressing issue?

Ans: Honestly? Not a clue.

7. You are given the chance to go back and change one thing in your life; what would that be?

Ans: Choosing – rephrase that – Being given no option but to study for a degree in Business Administration. I’ll hasten to add it had nothing to do with family rather it was with the University itself. It’s a long story!!

8. You are given the chance to go back and change one event in world history, what would that be?

Ans: World War II.

9. A night at the opera, or a night at the Grand Ole’ Opry – Which do you choose?

Ans: Definitely the Opera after finding out what the Grand Ole’Opry was – thanks to Ore for the useful info.

10. What is the one great unsolved crime of all time you’d like to solve?

Ans: Who really shot JFK?

11. One famous author can come to dinner with you. Who would that be, and what would you serve for the meal?

Ans: Definitely, definitely Maya Angelou. I think she is just phenomenal. Menuwise? Something nice and hearty.
Starters: Julienned carrots, cucumbers and celery with hummus and a small side serving of Tabulleh.
Main Course: Curried goat, rice and peas and a green salad.
Drinks: Red wine, Water or freshly squeezed juice.
Afters: Homemade apple crumble served with ice-cream or custard washed down with freshly perculated coffee or brewed tea.

12. You discover that John Lennon was right, that there is no hell below us, and above us there is only sky — what’s the first immoral thing you might do to celebrate this fact?

Ans: Not a fan of John Lennon. Sorry.

Monday, February 27, 2006

2005 in Review !! Those *#~:&**@#?" forwards!!!!

I don't know who wrote this but I thought it was hilarious... and I feel exactly the same way as the writer. Who hasn't been the victim of these forwarded emails....

My heartfelt appreciation goes out to all of you who have taken the time and trouble to send me "forwards" over the past 12 months.

Thank you for making me feel safe, secure, blessed and Healthy.

* Extra thanks to whoever sent me the email about rat crap in the glue on envelopes - cause I now have to go get a wet towel every time I need to seal an envelope. Also, I scrub The top of every can I open for the same reason.
* Because of your genuine concern, I no longer drink Coca Cola because it I know it can remove toilet stains, which is not exactly an appealing characteristic.
* I no longer check the coin return on pay phones because I could be pricked with a needle infected with AIDS.
* I no longer use cancer-causing deodorants even though I smell like a water buffalo on a hot day.
* I no longer go to shopping malls because someone might drug me with a perfume sample and rob me.
* I no longer eat KFC because their "chickens" are actually horrible mutant freaks with no eyes or feathers.
* I no longer worry about my soul because at last count, I have 363,214 angels looking out for me.
* Thanks to you, I have learned that God only answers my prayers if I forward an e-mail to seven of my friends and make a wish within five minutes.
* I no longer have any savings because I gave it to a sick girl on the internet who is about to die in the hospital (for the 1,387,258th time).
* I no longer have any money at all in fact – but that will change once I receive the $15,000 that Microsoft and AOL are sending me for participating in their special on-line email program.

Yes, I want to thank you all so much for looking out for me that I will now return the favour! If you don't send this e-mail to at least 144,000 people in the next 7 minutes, a large pigeon with a wicked case of diarrhoea will land on your head at 5:00 PM (EST) this afternoon. I know this will occur because it actually happened to a friend of my next door neighbour’s ex-mother-in-law's second husband's cousin's beautician. DO IT NOW OR ELSE...

Friday, February 24, 2006

A very meaty affair

Jeeeezzzzzzzzzzzz, I just saw the strangest thing!! I still can't quite believe I saw what I saw.
Driving out of the parking bay at work today, I looked up at one of the flats of the highriser opposite. I blinked and thought 'those are strange looking socks' and then I realized what they were..... thinly cut strips of meat hanging up on the clothes line to dry!!!!!!!!!!!! I was so astonished I hit the curb. I have seen a whole load of stuff since I have been here, but this takes the biscuit. What in the world is the person in the flat trying to make - Kilishi? Nothing like some cold winter breeze to bring out the flavour in your meat!!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Blogging - Chicken Soup for my Soul

I am 12 years old.
I am huddled under my bedcovers and feeling sorry for myself. I am not going to school today because I am sick. Normally at this age, I should be over the moon, the thought of skipping school providing an instant antidote. But it doesn’t this time because I really do feel unwell, not just a made up stomach ache as a ploy to skive off school.

I hear my mum’s footsteps – plod, plod, plod – coming up the stairs. She nudges my bedroom door open and my eyes light up as I see a steaming bowl of something balanced on the tray she is carrying. She puts it down gingerly on my side table and I take a look at the steaming liquid. Its chicken noodle soup!! My all time favourite comfort food. I lap up spoon after spoon with gusto. Haaa, life never felt so good. No school. In bed. With a bowl of steaming hot chicken noodle soup. Homemade with love. I couldn’t ask for more.

Fast forward 24 years.
I am feeling overwhelmed so many thoughts swirling around in my head. What to do, what to do. I shuffle into the room I call my office. I sit and contemplate my PC. I boot up – beep, the Windows theme tune plays – I click the explorer icon and I am ready to go. I swear I can feel the thump, thump of my heart as it beats in excitement within my chest. Why am I so excited? Easy. I am about to blog. Fingers begin to fly across my keyboard. Clack, clack,clack. I begin to feel so much better. Magic.

Blogging does something for me, just like chicken soup did something for me eons ago. It transports me to a place I haven’t quite found a word for yet and somehow, I feel I should know what that word ought to be. I get lost when I blog. It soothes, it comforts, it releases and most important of all, it allows me to make contact. And from one day to the next, I never know with whom. I cannot deny, and I am sure this goes for many of my fellow bloggers, the pleasure I feel when I look at the comments link and see I have ONE COMMENT! Oh the joy (and a little bit of vanity thrown in, come on now, admit it). Someone actually read my stuff and thought it was worth commenting on. I don’t care if it is a positive comment or not. Just the mere fact that what I had to say connected with somebody in some way is enough for me and it keeps me going. It is the fuel I need to continue on this blogging journey that I have begun.

I have made many friends here in blogosphere. Some I may never meet, others I may meet someday, who knows. These are people who give me something through their blogs just as I, hopefully, give them something through mine. Every time I log on there is this anticipation that I am going to hook up with an old friend or two. I almost think that it is my right to expect to hear from them everyday and sometimes I am very disappointed when I check out their blogs and they haven’t blogged today. What, I cry in indignation, you mean so and so didn’t blog today! How dare s/he keep me waiting like this? What’s happening? Where has s/he gone? You mean s/he has something better to do????????? I laugh, what an addiction this has become. But one I love.

The gift of reading other peoples blogs is a privilege for me because here they are, opening up their world to me - the way they view the world, sometimes radically different from the way I do and sometimes almost identical, see people, feel about people, sharing their hopes and dreams, expectations and bitter disappointments. Ready to put their beliefs on the line and be cyber lynched for them. Not an easy thing to do.

Ah, what a world I have discovered in these few short months that I have kept this blog. I have seen another side to people, and yes Nigerians, I never knew existed. In the world of blogging you are free to dispense with your inhibitions, moreso if you chose to remain anonymous. I don’t find this cowardly at all, I find it simply gives.me.more.freedom. Anonymity may not work for everyone but it works for me.

So thank you, my blogofriends, for being there, for noticing, for giving. Keep the chicken soup coming.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

BBC World Service - I challenge

Just listened to a fasinating programme on the BBC world service about a Nigerian woman, Dorothy Aken'Ova and her NGO called Increase. She works with Nigerians who live alternative lifestyles, and educates people on sexual health. So interesting. For those who are interested in listening, log on to


click on BBC WORLD SERVICE and click the I Challenge link.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Look what I found

Mindlessly searching for blogs, as you do, I stumbled on this. Someone has a blog dedicated to 419 scams!!!


Can you raed tihs?

Can you raed tihs? Olny srmat poelpe can.I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluodaulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg.The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuanmnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaerin wahtoredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the fristand lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can bea taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs isbcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but thewrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling wasipmorantt! if you can raed tihs psas it on...

Catching your Attention

...(Or the cry of our mate)

What happens to a man and a woman when they get married? It's like with the exchange of gold bands, all sense of respect and politeness goes out of the window. We burp, fart and pick our noses in front of each other indiscriminately and if you shoot across an evil enough look you might get a mumbled apology. Most of the time however, you are more likely to get an 'ah-ha, are you not my wife/husband? If I can't burp/fart/pick in front of you then who will I do it in front of now?'

And to that here is what I say my dear.

No, I don't want to see you do that stuff in front of me. I know its human nature but I want it to remain a mystery. I don't want to see you taking a crap. I know you do, I just don't want to see it, hear it or smell it.
I want you to say thank you when I give something to you or do something for you. You always have a smile and a thank you for others, why can't you have the same for me?
I still want to get a card- just like that- for no reason except that you were thinking of me today.
I still want to hear you say you love me and no, a 'but you know now' is not enough. I still want to go out and kiss in public, hold hands in public, be given attention in public. I don't want to assume you love me. I want to see, feel, hear that you still love me, even after all these years.
I want intimacy all through the day and not only between the sheets when the lights are out.
I want to be wined and dined and looked at like I am the only person in the room.
I want our conversations to be about us, and not about work or the baby or other people.
I want you to ask me how I am, what I'm feeling. I can't remember the last time you asked after my wellbeing.
I want you to make the bed, bath the child, cook a meal sometimes even when I don't ask.
I want you to give me more of you time. Sometimes I feel I am in competition with your job, your PC, your family, your friends, your hobbies, your iPod. Hello, I feel like screaming sometimes, I am here. I am the one you chose over all others, for better for worse! I haven't changed I have only become a mum, a dad, a parent. But I still have feelings, I am still the woman/man you met 5,10,15 years ago. Hello!
I want you to say what a good job I am doing making a home or raising our child and not be criticized for using that tone of voice when you know I have had a difficult day and I am totally crabby at 10 O'clock at night.
I want to be surprised by you. I want you to do something totally crazy and out of character, just like you used to before you married me. I want you to show up with a huge bunch of flowers, or greet me in your negligee.
I want to know that I am significant to you. I once was, wasn't I?
Say good morning to me when we wake up in the morning. You say good morning to hundreds of strangers you come across every day.
Ask me about my day when you come home.
Switch off the TV and watch me instead.
I want to be listened to, not half listened to. Or worse be given unsolicited advice or be told off for saying what I said when all I wanted to do was just talk and talk and talk. Just to get stuff off my chest.
I want to cry on your shoulder, in the open, not run into the loo for a quick brawl and come out smiling, like I am not breaking up inside.
I want you to stand by me, even though I have lost my job. Make me feel like I am still the provider, your rock, your husband!
I want to be loved, praised, complimented, noticed, significant.
I am your wife. I am your husband.
I guess all I want is your attention.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Self image - Black Vs White

I am sitting here staring at one of the gifts I gave to my daughter as a birthday present. It is a Barbie Girl styling head. Its blond haired and blue eyed with long flowing tresses. And you can fashion her mane, with the help of all the hair accessories it comes with, into any style you so desire. She absolutely adores it.
And while a part of me is glad that I have given her a gift that will provide her with endless hours of pleasure, a part of me resents that head because when it came to buying it I didn't have a choice. I'll explain.

I knew from the start that I wanted to get my child this particular gift because she has a fascination (and fixation) with my hair - she loves to comb it and pin it and put her baubles in it - so I knew a styling head would be way up there on her list of approved girlie gifts. I trudge off to the shops with one mission - Get Styling Head for Daughter.

Although I search high and low, can I find a black (or ethnic) version of this head? Heck no. They are all blued eyed, blond haired and white skinned. So left without a choice, I buy one. But the whole experience left me with this thought 'How come the toy market doesn't cater to children of ethnic (minority) backgrounds?' I can't answer that one, what I do know is that it is almost next to impossible to get hold of a black doll in the shops here. You can find a few online but they cost a small fortune.

Although I grew up playing with predominantly white dolls, it didn't have any sort of profound effect on me growing up. However, I think the fundamental difference was that I was surrounded by black people - my people - all my friends where black (or mixed race), and that kept me grounded and proud to be who I was. So I had my white dolls yes, but then I also had my cousins, friends, teachers who told me 'Tales by moonlight' about my heritage, my people, my world.

My daughter doesn't have this here - one of the problems children living in the Diaspora (how I detest that word) face. It is up to me to teach her about her roots and keep her proud of her heritage.

A year or so ago, there was a programme by Prof. Robert Winston on the BBC called Child of our Time and one episode in particular has remained stuck in my mind.

An experiment was carried out on a group of about 10 children aged maybe 4 - 7. They were shown photographs of children from varying ethnic backgrounds and asked a series of questions. The results were astounding. ALL, except for one child, felt that White was good and Black was bad. So for the children, including black and Asian ones, the white children in the photographs were intelligent, kind, generous, good, pretty, rich, and they all wanted to be best friends with this child. On the other hand, the black children in the photographs were perceived as bad, ugly, dishonest, poor and so on. I was gob smacked when I watched it. Now the one child who didn't conform was black and his mother had instilled in him from the day he was born, that he was black and he was to be proud of it. She got him black toys, took him on black art exhibitions, bought him books with black children in it and generally immersed him in black history and culture. Her thinking was being a black man (person) in this world from the word go, he is already faced with a mountain of challenges to overcome. He will almost on a constant basis have to prove himself (and his worth) in one way or the other. I cannot say for sure if this is true or not, or if it is a bad thing or not, one thing I do know is that because of the values she had instilled in her son from a very early age, he was the only child in the group to link the black child in the photograph with very positive attributes.

I found this interesting article written in 1993.

I have been very preoccupied with this subject of late, I guess triggered off by my friend's daughter's experience (see post). No doubt I will be visiting this subject again.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Bun in the Oven - where art thou?

My baby is three today. I just can't believe it. She is not a baby anymore!! You mean its been three years since I was lying on my back with my legs hooked up, getting high on gas and air and pushing till I felt like my bowels were going to pop out through my.... okay, okay enough with the graphics.

But yeah, its really amazing how quickly children grow and looking back this is the best age for them to be, I think. They still love you unconditionally, say the funniest things, believe everything you tell them and obey you without question (well, almost without question). Two and a half years ago, I would have told you that you were mad if you had told me I would be saying this now but I am going to say it. I WANT ANOTHER BABY!!! There I have said it. But sometimes things don't happen the way we want them to.

We (why do we always say we?) have been trying to conceive now for about 15 months but it just isn't happening. I have been trying to put a positive spin on it for the last year or so - you know the usual 'When God wills', 'Maybe I am too anxious', 'don't worry it will happen when it happens' - and so on. But I think I have reached the end of my rope. So I am booking an appointment to see a Ob-gyn as soon as possible and get myself checked out. I am not getting younger and I am not waiting for if its going to happen, it will happen. Uh-huh.

Isn't it ironic, women spend their single years desperately trying to avoid getting a bun in the oven, and their married life trying to shove one in!!!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Losing my oomph

For the past two days (going on the third day today) I have been feeling very low. Not depressed, just low. Low in energy, drive and spirit. I can't put my finger on the why.

I start my day off full of good intentions but by the end of the day, I have ticked not one thing off my list. I have frittered the day away doing what exactly? Here are a choice few: browsing for information on the internet that I don't need, manically hitting the next button on the blogger bar and reading blogs that I don't even enjoy, channel surfing. I have books to read, goals to meet, a journal to write in, ideas to put on paper, people to get back to, groups to keep up with but they all get pushed to the back burner by my incomprehensible compulsion to fill my day with useless activity. This isn't me at all so that's what makes me even more annoyed with myself because it is so out of the norm for me. Everything has suddenly become a 'yeah, whatever...'

I feel pressured, like my head is about to pop open. Unfulfilled! Lacking in ... something but not really knowing what. I am irritable, frustrated. I am not where I want to be but can't seem to get myself going.

I seem to have lost the oomph I begun the year with.

Monday, February 13, 2006

To look or not to look

Although I was born and bred in Nigeria, I was genuinely surprised to hear of a supposed Nigerian 'tradition' from two of my fellow Nigerian friends. I was told that in Nigeria, it is considered rude and disrespectful to look someone one in the eye when they are talking to you and vice versa. In fact, one of them was beaten if she dared to look her elder sister in the eye and the other was told always to look at her feet!

I can honestly say that in the 30 yrs I lived there, I NEVER heard of this so called tradition. Has anyone else heard of it?

Weird, because I am quite the opposite. I consider it very rude NOT to have someone look me in the eye when I am having a conversation with them. To me it conveys a lack of interest in what I have to say and I immediately terminate any further utterance when this happens.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The curious ways of a smoker

I have nothing against smoking, as long as you don��t do it in my space, but why is it that in spite of having a hacking cough and bringing up all kinds of gunk with it, a smoker just has to have that 5 minute break from his/her work station to huddle , in the freezing cold, by the office back door to have yet another cigarette? Never quite been able to understand that.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Racisim - How do I protect my daughter?

I was very surprised on Saturday when an English friend of mine told me that her daughter was being bullied in school. But surprise turned to genuine shock when she told me the reason why. Her daughter was being bullied because of the colour of her skin. She had come home with bruises on her legs from being kicked under the table by the bully and she had tried scrub herself 'white' at bath time. She is being called Jungle Girl by her schoolmates.
As a result of this, her daughters self confidence has plummeted to zero, she cries herself to sleep every night and is now questioning if she is a bad person because she is brown skinned. She is only nine years old. How do you explain discrimination to a nine year old child who has never encountered anything as ugly as the situation she finds herself in? I realised that up until Saturday I lived in a bubble when it came to racism. That has now been burst and a whole can of worms has been opened up for me.

I am mixed race, as my friends daughter is, and I took a lot from my mother in terms of physical appearance (just as my friends daughter has from her) which means that a lot of the time I have to pick peoples jaws off the floor when I tell them I am Nigerian. But NEVER, NEVER did I ever experience any sort of racism in Nigeria because of the colour of my skin. Apart from the usual calls of Oyinbo, Bature or Aniocha (hope I spelt this right) mostly from traders (and never said with any trace of malice or discrimination) I have never given my skin colouration a second thought.

The first time I ever had to confront my ethnicity was when I first came to the UK and was applying for jobs. In addition to the application form, an Equal Opportunity form was always included. The first problem I had with them was that I didn't fit into any of the categories (things have changed now as the categories have been broadened to include White and Black African) and so I made one up for myself - EuroNigerian and I have used that ever since. The other thing I just could not wrap my head around was the need for a potential employer to know my race. I don't buy the equal opps thing; I should be hired because of my qualifications, experience and intelligence, not to fit some national quota. Or am I being ignorant here?

Since Saturday I have been racked by irrational fear and panic. I fear for my daughters future should my husband and I decide to remain here till the end of our days. I cannot stand the thought of her being bullied, made to feel ashamed of who she is or being disadvantaged in some way because of the colour of her skin. Since I never faced these issues growing up in Nigeria, I feel guilty over the fact that I may be placing her in the very situation that I want to protect her from. I want her to grow up to be proud of who she is, to be strong enough to fight back when she is faced with racism, to achieve her maximum potential without the obstacle of discrimination. Do I take her back to Nigeria/Africa to become a grounded person and then bring her back here? Do I put her in public or private school? My thoughts are just all over the place made moreso by this irrational panic that I am feeling. It would break my heart if she came home one day and tried to wash her colour off or be in tears every night because she is being called a jungle girl. I am very afraid for my daughter.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Life of a Woman - a rejoinder

Before I begin to write, I hasten to say that this is not targeted at Nigerian men. I have spoken to loads of women married to non-Nigerian (and non-African) men who are experiencing exactly the same thing. There are many, many good Nigerian men out there (I am married to one) but they have their shortcomings like everyone else, I included.

A few days ago, I read a post by fellow blogger Ore which she titled The Life of a Woman and I was tempted to leave a comment but I knew it would be so long that I felt it would be much better to just blog about it instead. Ore writes

Being very used to mapping out my days solely according to my agenda, and even then, often not having enough hours in the day to accomplish most of what I need to get done, I feel that any chance of my succeeding at balancing a work and family life are totally doomed.

My answer to that is that you can succeed at both but you have to be clever about it and you have to hone in all the skills you never thought you possessed.

The truth of the matter is once you have a child put all thoughts of mapping out your days solely according to your agenda out of your head. Believe me, I was the ultimate 'doing my own thing woman'. I lived by routine and lists. I hit targets I set for myself, came and went as I pleased and yes, the hours were never enough in a day. Marriage before the kids arrive on the scene won't affect this much but once a little one comes along you are functioning solely to its agenda, for the first couple of years anyway and certainly for the first six months.

Your days and nights are going to be filled with the cries of a baby, you'll be incredibly sleep deprived, you'll stink of regurgitated breast milk, you'll be knee deep in nappies, and you will generally feel like hell. At the same time, be prepared to have your man look helplessly at you as you hand him a nappy or ask him to make up a bottle. I cannot count the number of times I have had to tell my husband that when I had a baby, I was not given a manual telling me what to do, I am learning on the job and so can you!!! For some strange and unexplainable reason, men just assume that we know what to do with a baby. Well, I have news for you guys�� we don't!!

And if you, like me, thought you were being the model wife by running around like a headless chicken trying to tidy the house, make dinner, do the laundry and still look glam for when he comes home from work in addition to attending to a little person who is demanding your attention 24/7 you'll be in for a rude shock. This is the only thing it will do to you - DRAIN YOU. I think women put way too much pressure on themselves. We want to be everything - the supermom, superwife, supercareer woman, superlover. It's just not possible. Something will have to give and more likely than not, it will be you. I will let you into a little secret ladies (for those who haven't worked it out yet) - YOU are the ones who make the marriage. Whether you like it or not. You think a mans' life will change when baby comes and that he will miraculously become more proactive with the house work? Hahhahahaha, I guess you know the answer to that one already. It's the woman's life that has to do all the changing. And get used to it, if not you'll be banging your head against a brick wall. If you want things to happen YOU have to make things happen.

So how do I get the work-family life balance right?

The first thing is, you'll never really ever be able to get it right but you can get it to a level you can live with.

-I got round the work/career bit by doing this - I switched to working part-time. This may not work for everyone but it works for me, at least for now. I am not certain how many opportunities there are to work part time in Nigeria, but here there are loads. So I spend time with my daughter two days a week and the other three days I go out to work. I have to, to keep my sanity. I get to see other grown ups and have grown up conversations and not have the theme tune to Dora the Explorer running around my head all day.

Oh by the way, many men think that when we stay at home with the kids we sit around all day watching TV with our feet up. Oooooooooooo, this just makes my blood boil. Yeah, the house is self cleaning, the food is cooked by remote control and the kids are washed and scrubbed by a virtual nanny. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, but you have to breathe and tactfully disabuse him of this idea.

- I do what I can do and the rest I leave. I play the game of 'if you can't see it, neither can I'. So let the laundry basket overflow for a few days longer, ignore the pile of clothes growing on the bedroom chair (verrrrrrrrrrrrryyyyyyyyyyy difficult for me to do), don't feel like making the bed? Then don't. These things are incredibly hard for me to do because I am a bit of a neat freak but hey, all things are possible if you just try.

- as much as you can, do not scream your dissatisfaction and frustration at him. It will get you nowhere. It can go two ways - degenerate into a screaming match, or result in being given the silent treatment for a few days. There is something that switches off in a man once you raise your voice. Be calm, state your case and hope for the best.

- don't start something you don't intend to continue. I have never ironed my husband's clothes and I never will and he knows it so the issue never comes up. Don't expect to start something and then 1 year down the line announce that you are not going to carry on with it. You'll have a tough battle ahead of you and lots of 'but you used to do before'.

- Ask, ask , ask. You need help? Then ask your husband/partner, especially here where we don't have the luxury of having a helper. But when you ask, ask with sense. Don��t nag (oh, a word I have heard fall often from the lips of my beloved) - this is very important. You have to be able to get him to do things around the house by implementing the stealth of a cat and the Wisdom of Solomon and the cunning of a fox. Weigh your words, be diplomatic and praise him. It may not come easy (I have to grit my teeth sometimes when I do it ) but if it gets the job done why not?

- Learn to laugh. You're going to need loads of humour to keep things going.

- develop selective hearing. Need I say more?

- Make time for you. Actually this should read forcibly make time for you because if you don't take it by force you'll never have any. My friend and I once left our respective husbands and kids and checked ourselves into The Hilton for the weekend. My husband said I came back a changed woman!! You want to join the gym, an evening class, go swimming, see a movie then just do it. Tell your husband (nicely and diplomatically remember!) (also notice I said tell not ask) what you want to do, when you want to do it and tell him to put it in his PDA so he doesn't forget.

- hold on to the memories. These tend to get clouded and/or forgotten a few years into marriage. Remember the happy times, the things that attracted you to him, the special names you called each other. Whatever it is, hold on to it.

- and remember, you can't change your man. He was already the way he was before you married him and that's who you fell in love with but in the flush of passion and love you chose not to see the irritating little habits he had lurking just beneath the surface. Or maybe you did notice but thought you would be the woman to change him (�� ha ha ha, don't make me laugh). He is still a good man, if a little flawed but hey, no one is perfect and you'll never find the perfect man. He is a myth. Your perfect man is the one whose ring you are wearing (or going to wear). Forget the media hype about the new age man. Welcome to reality.

And finally,

- Take pleasure in the little things


- Love what you have got.


Assessing January, Teju Cole and Goals for February

For the first time in a long time I can really truly say that 2006 has got off to a good start for me.

My detox came to its official end yesterday and after 31 days I have lost 6kg without even trying. I feel so good that I have decided to carry on. Of course I will have the occasional hot chocolate with marshmallows (here I come Coffee Republic) or slice of pie with custard, but they will now be my treats to be had once or twice a month.

For ages I have read and been told that once you do something consistently for 30 days it becomes a habit. I have found out for myself that this is very true. It's strange but I can now look at food and know straight away what is good for me and what isn't. For example, I went for a training course yesterday at head office and lunch was sandwiches and crisps (duh!) and I went into semi panic because I now know that white bread is so bad for my system (think spots) and I hadn't had any in 31 days!! But yeah, it's really good being able to discern between 'good' and 'bad' food. I feel good, look good, I feel healthy and most of all there is a real sense of achievement I derive from having been disciplined enough to stick to my goal.

My bible reading is also going very well and one thing I can tell you is that it is such an interesting book. I never thought I would ever say that but it's true. I have tried many times to read the bible in the past but never succeeded because I think I approached it with a feeling of pain. It seemed like a chore. But this time I have approached it with pleasure and with a reason or two.

The first one being: I have called myself a Christian for almost six years and have never taken the time to read the book which I claim is pivotal to my faith. How sad is that?

The second reason being: all knowledge and interpretations of scripture I have of the bible have come from third parties: Preachers, fellow Christians, teaching tapes, books, TV and so on. And this has bothered me for a while, the fact that I am accepting all this information without checking it out for myself. Therefore, I am not reading for any great and miraculous revelations (if I have some then great, if I don't I am not going to get cut up about it), I am reading simply to get rid of my ignorance, for the knowledge I will gain, the pleasure I derive from reading it and above all else to get to know God. I mean really know Him. And those are good enough reasons for me.

For the past one month I have been absolutely captivated by Teju Cole's blog which is (was) all about his visit to Nigeria after an absence of 11 years. It was a blog I looked forward to reading everyday, a ritual I guarded jealously. The way he described Lagos, his experiences, the people he met and places he went to made everything come so alive for me. I could feel, smell, see the places and things he was describing. I had been to these places a thousand times before and never seen what he saw or looked at things from his perspective and sometimes, wonder. And his style of writing was so fluid and choice of words so right. Although I must admit that I had to read some of his entries armed with a dictionary because many of the words he used I didn��t have a clue what they meant! However, all this came to an end on 31 January as, true to his word, he took his blog down. But I am so pleased to say that after seeking permission, I downloaded and printed off every single one of his entries. It seemed such a shame to let them go and I would never have forgiven myself. Besides I know my mum would just love reading them. She recently recommended that I read 'Ada's Story' by Buchi Emecheta which she had just finished reading in German!! I searched high and low on the internet for it and finally found one on eBay, for the princely sum of ?1.99 (including postage). How lucky was that? So, that's something new for me to look forward to.

I think this year is working for me so well (and will continue to) because I have finally decided that I am ready for change. It's a great feeling and since I am a believer of striking when the iron is hot, I am setting three more goals for February. These are:

Have an hour of power everyday. I am currently listening to Anthony Robbins Get the Edge Programme on CD ( or should I say my iPod :-)) and so far it is excellent. This hour of power will include a brisk 20 minute walk, prayer and/ or meditation and a positive talk time (I don't really like this term but can't think of a better one to use).

Keep a gratitude journal. Write down five things everyday for the next 28 days that I am grateful for.

Reply to my emails as soon as I get them. A hard one but I am determined to give it a go.

So, hello February!