Monday, July 31, 2006

Handling Compliments

Why do I find it so difficult to accept a compliment graciously? Compliments either embarrass me or I pretend I don’t hear them when they are paid or I mumble something unintelligible in reply. But more often than not, I don’t believe them or rather, I am skeptical about compliments. For some unexplained reason, I tend to feel that the person paying me the compliment is just trying to be polite (or make conversation) by saying something nice to me but inside is secretly thinking ‘Ugh’. Which is unfair on my part and I am probably 90% wrong in thinking this (or am I?) but I can’t help but feel this way.

Another thing I find myself doing in automatic response to a compliment paid to something I am wearing, is to immediately say ‘Oh, do you know I only paid so and so for this?’ like I’m trying to justify why I own the item. WHY DO I DO THIS?? Why can’t I simply say ‘Oh, thank you?’ and smile mysteriously?

What’s the secret to handling compliments graciously?

Sods Law!

So trust it to be the month when I decide to pull my purse strings a little tighter, that I go and hit a curb at a bad angle while trying to park and burst my tire! Now I have to spend £60 - £80 to buy a new tire.

Sods law!!

Friday, July 28, 2006

For Free

You don’t have to pay to smile
It doesn’t cost a thing to laugh
You better thank God for that.
               - India Arie

Thursday, July 27, 2006


Thanks to the post on Diana Evans on Ores blog and the write up on her on Cassava Republic, I finally took 26a off my shelf after having had it sitting there for about four months.

I finished 26a in three days flat – a feat for me considering that for the last four years or so it has taken me 6 months or more to finish a book and more often than not, I don’t. 26a is a very funny, haunting and tragic story and it’s going to take me a while to get the two main characters, Bessi and Georgia, around which the story revolves out of my head. My eyes are still swollen from crying.

Conclusion: I strongly urge you to get a copy of this novel and read it.


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Avoid becoming a Spendaholic

Money - or the lack thereof

Okay so my resolution to put away £25 a month unfailingly is going … well, failingly. Every month, I put the money into my savings account alright but about a week later it’s out again with an additional £20 or more to boot. I just do not seem able to save.

The strange this is, when I lived and worked in Nigeria I never, ever worried about money. It’s true. I ever gave it one thought. The money always seemed to be there when needed. I bought what I wanted, went over to Takwa Bay when I liked, went to all the trendy places plus went on yearly holidays, all on a salary of well, not much when converted to pounds. Plus I gave 10% of my money in tithes every month unfailingly and still had enough left over.

But since I started living in the UK, the reverse has become the case. I think about money ALL THE TIME. It is constantly on my mind. If it’s not the utility bills, its nursery fees. If it’s not nursery fees, it’s the mortgage. If it’s not the mortgage, its your car insurance or MOT or Council Tax or or or!. It just seems to be one thing after another. It’s no wonder that at the end of the month there just is nothing left over to put away. Sometimes I wonder what the heck I am working for when all my money goes on paying taxes and paying bills. I hate the fact that before I buy anything for myself, the first thing that flashes into my mind is ‘Oh, if I put another £15 on top of that it will pay for a week of nursery’. I hate it, hate it, hate it. I think it’s a sad way to live.

I am not in debt (thank God for that), nor are we unable to put food on the table and pay the bills. What gets to me however, is the fact that there is hardly ever enough for the little extra’s that make life a little bit more comfortable and fun. I want to be able to go on holiday without having to spend weeks on the internet looking for the cheapest airline deal going. I want to go out for a nice meal in a nice restaurant. I want to be able to walk into a shop and treat myself to a pair of shoes or a bag and not have to think about the knock on effect this will have on other areas of my budget. I just want to be financially free. And one thing I know for sure is that my job – no job- is going to give me the financial freedom I crave for.

So what to do? Start a business? I have but even the money from that gets pumped back into it and so no real profit is being made yet. Invest the little money I do have? Yes but in what? I don’t really understand the stock market – my fault, I have never taken time out to try and understand it. Perhaps I should look for an investment club or start one. Hmm, that’s an idea.

So here’s what I am going to try and do - from next month, I am going to draw a budget up for myself and work with it as closely as I can. Or implement the strategy used on the program Spendaholics and go cold turkey for a week. I am also going to keep a spending diary so I can see exactly where my money is going.

I am sorry for rambling on about this, but this state of financial lack is really beginning to get to me.

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

On Oprah

Anyone who knows me well knows that I think that Oprah is one of the most amazing women on this planet and if I were ever given a choice of a mentor, I would without a doubt chose her ( along with another 1 millon women I suspect).

With this thought in mind, a very good friend of mine bought me the best present ever- The Oprah Show 20th Anniversary Collection. It's a 6 DVD collection. I am only on DVD number 1 yet it has made such a huge impact on me already.

Now let me just say, if you are looking for inspiration, motivation, affirmation then you've got to get this. It will change your life. I don't say this about many things, but this collection will.

My hubby can't understand the pedestal on which I put this woman (he always says I am ready to jump to her defence no matter what!) but I can. To me, with all her wealth and celebrity, she has managed to remain so real and that's what I admire about her the most. You go Oprah!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Half of a Yellow Sun

Although it hasn't been published yet, I have just placed an order for Chimamanda Adichie's new book. It should be out sometime mid-August.

I hope it's as good as her Purple Hibiscus.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Remember Mama Put?

Probably a bad post to have right after my post on having a healthy heart, but I am craving mama put today.

I am not referring to the sophisticated mama put sold in Ghana High or Mama Calabar. Nope! I am longing for the really native mama put I used to buy in my very early teens (we could only buy it when my parents were out, if not they would strangled us kids – literary of course). You know the one I am talking about – it’s carried around in a large metal basin on the hawkers head and the stew in a little basin placed on top of the big one? The rice was wrapped in banana leaves and the stew was always more oil than tomatoes but tasted WKD anyway? You always knew the mama put hawkers where around because you could hear the little tune they used to beat on their basins with a wooden stick they carried around with them.

Chei, just the thought of it is making me so hungry. I am positively salivating. To this day, I don’t know how those people got the stew to taste that way. There were lots of rumours swirling around in those days as to how but not something I want to go into here – might put you off mama put for life.

Hmmm, I wonder if they still sell rice wrapped in banana leaves and stew that way…

How healthy is your heart?

I called up a friend of mine last week Thursday and she told me that her partner was in hospital for what was suspected to be the early stages of a heart attack. During the day he had complained about a tingling feeling up and down his left arm and then he had woken up in the middle of the night feeling like someone was crushing his chest. He was rushed to hospital and was kept there under observation for four days. And thing is if you see my friends partner, he is as healthy looking as they come – sporty, fit and a picture of good health. Just goes to show how much I (we) know of what goes on beneath our skin.

Anyway, spurred on by this piece of bad news, I went into the city centre early on Friday morning to have my cholesterol levels checked. Heart UK, the Cholesterol Charity, is going around the UK testing cholesterol levels for free, so if you live in the UK and they happen to be in your area, I urge you to go get your levels checked out.

It’s a really simple and quick test which only entails a little pin prick of your index finger. The blood is then collected in little vial and put in a machine which gives you your readings after about 10 minutes or so.

I was very pleased to learn that I have a 0% chance of developing heart disease in the next 10 years. My total cholesterol level is 4.97 mmol/l (anything below 5 is good), of which my bad or LDL cholesterol level is 2.66mmol/l (anywhere between 2 – 4 is still okay) and my good or HDL cholesterol level is 1.64mmol/l (above 1.2 is good and the higher the better). I wasn’t too surprised though because I eat fairly healthily and junk food is a no-no for me. My blood pressure was a bit low, but nothing to worry about.

It may also interest you to know that heart disease is the number one killer of women – even higher than breast cancer. This surprised me.

So if you have the chance to, go get your cholesterol levels checked out – you just might be saving your life.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Faith and Work

In the last six months, I have discovered more about myself and life than I have in the 6 years I have lived here.

I have been a Christian for about the same number of years and in that time have listened to endless sermons on getting rich, making it, money cometh and so on. Prosperity teachings have never sat well with me, but that’s for another day. The general approach of these teachings are to just pray, believe and speak it (sometimes backing all this up with a bit of cash helps as well) and wealth will come. Oh I prayed, I believed and I spoke it and although I was never dirt poor, I always only ever had enough to get by. Is this really the way God wanted it to be, I wondered? If it were that easy to get rich and be wealthy then every body would have been praying it, believing it and speaking it.

And the more I prayed the less things happened. Why was this happening? Oh, your faith is not strong enough I was told – via the TV, books and sermons – there are too many doubts in your heart, you are wavering in your belief. And the guilt this churned up in me made me feel like a failed Christian. Help me believe more, I cried to God, help my unbelief. And still nothing.

Eventually, this state of nothing-ness made me resentful  and led to a hardening of my heart towards God and His Word. But what it also led to was a questioning spirit and this I believe is the point God wanted me to get to. I began to ask myself how come people, thousands of people, who have no obvious leanings towards a belief in God seem to be getting ahead in life, getting things done, making things happen? What is the key? It cannot be prayer because they do not believe in God. It cannot be because they pay their tithes, for the same reason just stated. It cannot be because they are ‘baptised in the Holy Spirit’. So WHAT is it they do that makes them successful?

Then it dawned on me – a lightbulb moment.

They WORK for what they have. They back their beliefs – a belief that they will make it, a belief in their potential, a belief in their abilities, a belief that there is a better life to be had – up with ACTION.

And I saw this exact same principle work for me once I applied it to my own life.

For years and years I always knew I wanted to do something with the skill and talent I had been blessed with – the ability to sew and sew well. I always knew I wanted to live a certain lifestyle - a reasonably wealthy one. I always knew I wanted to start a business – one which involved sewing or making stuff. But the one thing I never did was WORK towards achieving these things I wanted. No, I thought I could pray and believe them into reality. What a fool I had been and how God must have laughed at me. I don’t know about you but I think God has a pretty good sense of humour.

Then one day, as if dragging myself out of a daze, I attended a course on setting up a small business. I began to buy business related books, I scoured the internet for business information, I read about business people I admired and I listened to Zig Ziglar and Anthony Robbins. Something Zig said resonated so strongly with me. He said ‘You can have the most mental positive attitude in the world, if you don’t back it up with action, ain’t nothings gonna happen for you.’ This was what I had been waiting to hear. This is what God meant when He said ‘Faith without works is dead’. Sure it’s good to have faith that something will happen, but how is it going to happen when you are not doing anything to make it happen. Lightbulb flash!

I remember once in church back in Naija, a girl came up to give her testimony and she said she had been praying for a job that offered ‘small work and plenty pay’, and back then we all laughed. But that’s how many of us think today. We don’t want to work anymore to achieve our dreams. We want the manna to fall from heaven.

So till I sat down and sewed that first handbag and sold it, then another and sold that too and then another – then God kicked it. Suddenly the orders were coming it, people where asking for my bags, new ideas were being dropped into my head, doors were opening it up. All because I was finally backing up my Faith with Works!

So if you are someone who is praying, tithing, faith-ing, believing, hoping, wishing your dreams into reality, save yourself the wasted time and grief and Work your way towards achieving them instead. Attend that course, pick up that phone, post off that letter. Then thank God when the doors begin to open.

House Guest

Phew! I am still recovering from a two day visit from an old friend with whom I shared a boy’s quarter with sixteen years ago in University. Normally, I really enjoy having people over from Niaja to visit as it’s an opportunity to catch up on all the news from home but this time I was so glad when we saw the back of her.

Her visit got me thinking about the sort of house guests people make and in my experience/opinion there are two types of house guests: Difficult ones and easy ones.

I like to think (at least I hope I am) that I am an easy house guest. By this I mean that when I go and stay with someone – especially if it’s a family – I follow all the house ‘rules’. These are not visible rules but things you pick up on when in someone else’s house. So this means that I wake up when the rest of the house wakes up, I eat when they eat and I help wash up in the kitchen afterwards or chip in with other little bits and bobs. I do this out of respect, consideration and a regard for my hosts and it’s also a way of saying thank you for having me over. For me I follow the general rule of when in Rome, do as the Romans and when in my home I do as I please.

Unfortunately, the excitement of seeing a friend I hadn’t seen in a long time soon turned into a mini-nightmare. Habits I had forgotten she possessed and which, when they got under my skin, I dealt with back in the day by retreating into my room and shutting my door, soon reared their ugly heads.

Now this friend comes from a rich family and so has had quite a privileged upbringing. She has always had people around waiting on her. She also possesses that faint air of arrogance some people from privileged backgrounds have. Oh and she has a thing about germs – she believes they are lurking around every corner waiting to leap on her. And as a house guest she very definitely falls under the ‘difficult’ category.

For the two and a half days she stayed with us, she operated entirely on her own wavelength. She approached every task at a very leisurely pace – wake up time was 10am  (the rest up us had been up and doing since 7:30am), then she spent two hours plus getting ready (only after I had to tell her TWICE to hurry things up), made us an hour late for church on Sunday by which time all the seats had been taken, and we didn’t leave the house until 1:15 pm on Monday to start her ‘set off early’ shopping spree. By which time of course I had a very tired and hungry toddler on my hands – not something you want when out shopping.

Then at the shopping mall, she took advantage of the personal shopper service (huh? You’re only buying kids clothes for goodness sakes besides you’re in H & M not Hermes!) – coming to think of it H&M doesn’t operate a personal shopper service, she just handed the clothes she wanted to buy to the shop assistant and had her carry them around the shop behind her! -, hummed and aahed over every item and dragged her feet every step of the way.

Oh and then there were the complaints – she couldn’t drink the water out of the tap so we had to get her bottled (the fact that my hubby and I have been drinking water out of the tap for the last 6 years and are still alive and kicking was lost on her), she left her drink half drunk because the waitress had ‘leaned’ across her glass, then she noticed some invisible stains on her clothes which she went on and on about before finally deciding to sue the airline for damaging her clothes (like I said you needed a microscope to see the stains she was referring to).

But what really, really peed me off was that she rinsed every plate and piece of cutlery she took out of my cupboards before using them. I couldn’t believe it!! How very rude! Anyone who knows me well knows that I am a bit of a clean and neat freak so to have someone rinsing my plates before use … well, I am surprised I didn’t blow a gasket! Thank goodness for my husband who tried to keep me calm by telling me she was with us for just a few days so I should just grin and bare it.

But there is one redeeming factor though, by the time she left my bath tub was gleaming because she had scrubbed it after each shower.

So, what sort of house guest do you make – do you follow the ‘rules’ or do you expect your hosts to dance to your own tune?

Friday, July 07, 2006

An Audience with Marie Fatayi-Williams

Got this by email and perhaps you may want to attend as well…

 “It is time to stop and think. It is time to stop this vicious cycle of killing. We must all stand together for our common humanity”
This is a small section of the speech given by Marie Fatayi- Williams  as she stood in Tavistock Square just days after the 7th of July bombings. Her first born and only son Anthony Fatayi-Williams an Oil Executive working in London was brutally slaughtered along with 51 others in this atrocity.
 Few who heard it will ever forget. It was a speech which captured the hearts and minds of the nation.
 Now this Nigerian mother, who has emerged as the iconic image of basic humanity has written a tribute to the son, “For The Love of Anthony.”  She will be reading excerpts from her book, and will be interviewed by Ronke Phillips – ITV London News Reporter who has followed the Fatayi-Williams story for the past year.
 If you want to know what really happened, if you want to know how to survive such tragedy, and still keep faith, come, listen, meet and support Mrs Marie Fatayi-Williams
 “For The Love of Anthony” a book charting Anthony’s short life, his death and Marie’s road to recovery will be sold at this event.
 All proceeds will go to the Anthony Fatayi-Williams Foundation, a multi faith, multi-cultural charity working for peace in our time.
There is a £10.00 cover charge payable in advance. Places are limited Soft drinks and canapés will be served. Cash bar will also be opened.
For registration, and more information
Contact Yemisi on 0207 978 9488

New Challenge: A Day in my Life...

On the 52 Projects site, I stumbled across an interesting write up about how 10 writers from The Morning News in New York have chronicled a day of their lives.

I love the idea and it’s something I am going to do  and post in the coming week. Why not join me and record a day in your life, wherever you are? It would be interesting to read what y’all get up to in a day.

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My brush with Fame

I was just thinking about famous people I have ‘met’ and this jumped to mind. It always makes me laugh.

It was December 2004 and my hubby, my then ten month old daughter and I had just landed at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston, Jamaica. And in the usual ‘3rd World’ fashion there were throngs of people hanging around the conveyor belts waiting for the luggage to start rolling out sans luggage trolleys.

Our luggage finally arrives and hubby leaves me in charge of them while he goes off to look for the elusive trolleys. He leaves me with a terse word of warning to ‘keep your eyes on the bags.’ I stand guard, eyes sweeping this way and that with a fierce look on my face which said ‘if you so much as take one step near my luggage, I’ll karate chop your Adams apple out of your throat, so don’t mess with me!’ when I suddenly notice a corned rowed, light skinned chap standing next to me staring intensely at me. I stare right back, hold my baby tighter and take one step even closer to my luggage. We have this staring match for about 5 minutes (my stare is so fierce by this time that the skin on my forehead is threatening to collapse in on itself) when his luggage finally arrives and he walks off at the same time my hubby is walking back to baby and I.

He reaches me and tells me excitedly ‘Hey! That was Sean Paul did you see him?!’

‘WWWWWWWhhhhhhhaaaaaatttttttttt????????’ I reply ‘I’ve just spent that last five minutes staring at him thinking he was about to make off with our bags!!!!!!!’

I hadn’t recognised him at all! In retrospect, I guess he was staring at me so hard because he was expecting me to recognise him. Or maybe he was just mesmerised by my blinding beauty…. who knows. Frankly, I just thought he was a potential bag-napper.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Wanted: Ad Free Mags!

I am beginning to question if I am getting value for my money when I buy some monthly glossies. These days they are so jam packed with adverts you have to really search hard to find the actual articles for which you bought the magazine in the first place. Then of course, there are the inescapable leaflets and junk mail stuck in-between the pages – normally offers of some new credit card or another. It drives me crazy.

A couple of years ago I used to buy a fantastic, ad-free business magazine called Be Unlimited. Sadly though, barely 5 issues later, it’s publication was discontinued because the running costs where just to high for it to carry on without placing ads between its pages.

Even O, the Oprah magazine, which in my personal opinion is one of the best magazines around, is being reduced to nothing more than an advertisers dream. Every other page carries an ad and this irritates me no end. I start to read an article, get to the end and it tells me ‘…article continues on page 197…’ and the reason why? Because between page 190 where the article ends and page 197 where it begins again, are six pages of nothing but adverts for Maybelline, Clarins, Ralph Lauren, L’Oreal, some new drug for which you are being offered a free 5-day trial pack (do people really send off for those?), oh, and even MacDonald’s have muscled in on the act with their advert for their new Asian Salad . Asian salad? I thought salad was salad. *shrugs shoulders*

Unfortunately, the articles in Oprah are good so I can’t quit reading in protest and even if I did, I very much doubt that it would be noticed. Since I keep all my back issues, I am thinking of denuding them of their ads and having them rebound again into one big Oprah Mag. We’ll see.

Perhaps magazine publishers should explore the possibility of having a supplementary magazine insert which will be full of ads only and for those readers like myself who are irritated by the amount of ads featured on the pages of mags; we can simply take out this supplementary insert and chuck it in the bin.

Carrying on from where I left off...

So carrying on from where I left off yesterday…

I’m still bored. I’m still restless. My minds still wondering/wandering.

But I did try and clean up my side bar links yesterday. I have been reading quite a few new(ish) blogs for a couple of months and although I don’t often leave comments I visit them faithfully. So a few have been added to my links and others have been removed – either their last entry was in January or the URL’s have suddenly disappeared. That’s the thing with blogs, readers begin to lose interest if they’re not updated regularly.

I’ve been thinking about my need to be doing something else when I’m doing something else – you follow?- and it struck me that I am actually quite busy on a day to day level. Between going to work, keeping my little girl entertained, keeping a house and a home and running a little business on the side, I actually have quite a full day and yet, yes, yet I still feel there is something missing. I can’t quite place my finger on it but the feeling just hangs around. If you ask me what I would rather be doing instead, I will not be able to give you a concrete answer. It’s like when I used to ask married friends back in the day how they knew their husbands were THE ONE for them and they always used to reply with the annoying ‘I just knew!’ and I would get so peed off at such a silly, non-explanatory answer (I give the same answer now though hehehee) – that’s how I feel right now. When I start doing what I really want to do, I’ll just know.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Being Bored

I seem to be plagued with an almost constant feeling that I ought to be doing something. Quite what I don’t know but when I am at my PC/in the bath/cooking/at work/driving,  I am constantly being distracted by another 100 more interesting things I could be doing. The funny thing is when I do tackle a task which my mind had been telling me would be interesting/entertaining/more productive, I start to think of something else I could be doing instead. Does that make any sense? And on it goes. My minds restless and my body even more so. My thoughts flirt from one thing to another but never quite rests anywhere.

And the thing is I don’t know what I want to be doing. Perhaps it’s boredom? The need for a change of scene? Even my blog is getting on my nerves – I’m getting itchy fingers to change the template but when I think of all the links I have to put on again, and all the other bits and bobs that have gone into the setting up of this blog, I’m put off. I mean, my sidebar it informs everyone that I am currently listening to Prince’s 3121. That’s so not true. I have had new music playing my ear now for the last couple of months but somehow I just can’t be bothered to change that info. But then again, does anyone really care. I would hazard a guess at not. Even the African Food Blog is suffering as well. And suffering is an understatement. Lets just say it’s a bit bare at the moment.

What to do, what to do the mind wanders and wonders. I AM BORED!! I think I need a holiday. Or something, anything…..

My life seems so dull at the moment. I called up a friend of mine this morning and at 9 am she was at a coffee morning. Coffee Morning at 9 in the morning??? And where am I? At the blooming office that’s where. The ungracious thought crossed my mind that Oh well, she can afford to be at a coffee morning because she is after all a SAHM (stay at home mom) but I felt bad immediately afterwards because with three little boys on her hands, she hardly has a free moment and how dare I begrudge her her coffee morning. I have said a prayer of forgiveness for my evil thoughts!

But yes, I do feel a bit out of sorts. Perhaps it’s the heat. Eh? Heat ke? No be naija you for grow up? Ma sista, broder no vex but my body no dey used to this heat anymore. Chei, AC no even dey wey I fit escape into. So forgive me. But yeah, the heat right now is unbearable and the nights are even worse. Nothing helps – not even going to bed scantily clad with all the windows left wide open. No single breeze dey blow for nite! I wake up feeling I have just come out of the boxing ring. Reminds me so much of those NEPAless nights in Naija. The only thing missing are the mosquitoes.

My spell checker is going crazy at the moment after that little bout of pidgin English. Na so so red just dey unda all de words. Laugh!

Oh, I better go before my boredom begins to rub off on you. Hope you are living a more exciting life than mine at the moment.

Monday, July 03, 2006


God!! How I hate getting mail with FW: in the subject line! I detest, detest, detest forwarded mail. Every so often I mass mail all my friends telling them please NOT to forward me mail. All I ever do is delete them. I am not interested in the girl who is dying of goodness knows what disease – she has been dying of it for the last 10 years. I do not want an angel to visit me only after I forward the mail on to another 15 people – remember, do not hit the reply button. I do not want to boycott Tommy Hilfiger because of racist remarks he is purported to have made on the Oprah show. If you took a little time to research some of these emails, you’ll know they are all blooming lies!! And NO thank you, I am not interested in the thousands of dollars AOL and Microsoft are going to pay me if I pass on the email to yet another 100 people. Ugh!! Leave me alone with this junk!!!!

Sorry, just letting of steam.

I feel better now.