Break of Dawn: Talabi

I’m here again who would have thunk it?… 2013 started pretty much the same way 2012 started; sitting alone in my living room watching TV.  It was not a very festive period, I wanted to be in Lagos, but I had work that had to be done. Anyways, it gave me time to reflect and this time I had a new prayer on my lips and fewer complaints.

My first full year or so in engineering in a manufacturing environment brought a lot of things to light. It showed me a lot of things I did not want to be. 90% routine and the odd moment of genius didn’t cut it for me and this prompted me to test some of my other skills.  Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t given up on my roots, but I’d much rather look back at myself and laugh at an error I made than to regret that I never tried.

Opportunities came and went, they still are. Doubt was always present, it still is. I’ve only learned how to accommodate it without affecting my decisions too much. I can’t bore you with the details but in summary I’ve been the guidance counsellor I never had to help me shape my career path. Although some things have not worked out (some catastrophic failures included), it has been a fun experience and the steepest learning curve I’ve had to endure in my short life. Anyone who knows me personally knows how hard it is for me to admit failure, that’s one thing this ‘discovery’ process has helped me with.

At work, my career progressed quite well. I was part of two major successful projects and one of them even got my face on the internal newspaper (along with the team of course). Another project I designed and specified is up and running and it was perfect to hear about that project over a random discussion where I was having dinner with mates. I spent time later in the year working as an analyst scrutinizing potential capital projects because of the harsh financial climate at work.  While it was fun, let’s just say I didn’t make many new friends telling people their projects were not up to scratch.

Speaking of harsh financial climates, it was never hidden that the steel industry was hard hit by the recession. We all knew at some point tough decisions would be taken, different rumours and conspiracy theories from closing down the plant to replacing the entire management team. On the 29th of October at 10:51 am we received that dreaded email that over 10% of all the jobs would have to be cut to make ends meet, I’ve never seen faster deflation. The overall mood went from ‘bubbly’ to ‘whatever’ in the days and weeks to follow.

The new employees (that I am part of) were told our jobs were safe, but the mood was still like trying to inflate a pricked balloon. If I was unhappy before, now I was losing it entirely. My motivation was at an all time low and I was very uncomfortable knowing almost everyone around me could lose their jobs in one fell swoop. It’s the hardest thing I’ve had to contend with this year. Speaking to people across your desk and listening to them talk about how uncertain the future looked for them. A lot of these people know nothing outside this job they do and this town they’ve lived in for decades. I wish them well.

Personally, it’s been a tough year. Apart from the great task of trying to shape my career, living in this town is tough. It’s the loneliest place I’ve ever been in. There are very few people I can have a proper discussion with. Its a backward place in many respects. My social life was limited to watching football, our weekly 5 a side league, TV game shows, series and the odd movie. I have some wonderful colleagues but after some time you get tired of hanging out with the same few people every single time. I think I can safely say I did not make any new friends this year; I just got closer to some people and drifted apart from some others. At the weekends I would watch football and pretend to be in Lagos on social media. Ah yes, spending my birthday alone every year is becoming a thing. On the bright side, the church I attend here is really nice with genuinely nice people; in my short time there, I’ve seen how genuine love and care can change people’s lives.

However, it was not all gloom and doom. My ever-present friends always kept me company with their bare jokes every time we talked. Those calls from family left a smile long after pressing the end button. Elle est fantastique! All through the year, she was awesome. She kept me going, even on days when I just want to stop and give up. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that a big chunk of what makes you happy is hinged on another person’s happiness. It’s an even better feeling knowing that the feeling is mutual. I sometimes find myself doing things because I know it would give me another chance to see that beaming smile (sadly on FaceTime or Skype most times). My trips to Nigeria were the high points of my year. As you read this, I’ll be in Lagos for the third time; that’s where I’m truly happy and very soon, it would be permanent.

My MSc. graduation was another high point this year. It felt weird going back 9 months later to do it, but it made it more fun seeing everyone again after such a long time. Family members came from far and wide and trust them to throw a ‘small’ party when they can get enough of the gang together (I couldn’t count the number of people there and knew like 15% only). My brother left my graduation to propose in Paris the day after, nice eh! He taught me everything I know and is still teaching me. My darling sister had her third child and my parents have never been happier since I’ve known them, retirement is a wonderful thing. The first one of my wolf pack is married and it’s still weird to me more than 6 months after. My friends are doing great, switching to wonderful jobs and doing what they really want to do. It has been a very good year for my people.

Some other high points this year… Ozil became a gunner and I sat with Yaya Toure on an hour long flight… YES these things are that important to me, maybe more than you can possibly imagine.

Throughout the year, God has been faithful in my unfaithfulness. This year has shown me I have tough skin when it comes to disappointment. I changed my perspective on giving and I pray I always have enough to improve it and make it last. I’ve had to make some really big decisions. I’ve seen that I don’t have the answers. I can control only very little. I have to trust God and make sure the most important people and things are catered for in these plans to the best of my ability. Uncertainty kills me but we live in an uncertain world, so I’ve finally agreed to go with the flow and run my own race.

Sometimes you’re ahead,

      Sometimes you’re behind.

      The race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself.

    Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much

      or berate yourself either.

      Your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s. – Baz Luhrmann

Before I go, the prayer on my lips on 01/01/2013 at 00:00:01 concerned me, a job and moving back to Nigeria. Thank God that though it tarried, I waited only 353 days…

I’ll be starting a new job in 2014, with new employers and the exciting prospect of travelling to a few countries before settling down in Nigeria pioneering a project. It was really emotional handing in my quit notice at my current office but it’s one of those things that comes with this scam of growing up and moving on.

Thanks for reading (this long post) up to this point. I don’t want to limit God so here’s to an even better 2014.

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You thank us when we should be THANKING you for raising our faith and spirits. Your account reads like the victory lap of a gladiator in a chariot and all I can say is, God give you the grace to keep your head and trust in him. Thank you for sharing Muyiwa 🙂

Midnight Surprise: Jason

2013

There’s a Stephen King story, about a man who finds a finger crawling out of his sink. At the end, having looked in the face of horror and driven to the verge of insanity, the man asks a question and receives the answer.
“Why,” he asks, “Do bad things happen to good people?”

2013 had a lot of pain inside it.

At the start of the year, some impish devil curled up behind my right ear and whispered: this will be the year that breaks itself across your back.
I found that very poetic. And also distressing.
So I shrugged it off, and braced myself. 

Time and again this year, I could feel the great weight bearing down on me. The great tide flinging itself again and again against me, the eternal wheel rolling to crush me in its spokes.
And me, one single solitary human being bearing up under the weight. Adrift in the middle of chaos. Treading water, straddling air. 

But all that activity turned out to be hardly as important as it sounds.

The most important part of this year, if I am to be honest, is that I loved a girl.
Some people are lucky and meet someone they can love for the rest of their lives. A standard by whom all other loves will stand or fall. The one great true love of their lives.
She is mine.

And though the year was full of pain, there she was in the middle: the recurring theme, the plot holding the madness together, the thread woven through the patchwork of the ragged quilt.

And when I look back at 2013, it is her face I see. Painted over the angry swirls and whorls.
And for this, I am truly grateful.

Books I enjoyed: 
Terry Pratchett’s DiscWorld Series, Joseph Heller’s Catch 22, Robin Hobb’s Farseer Trilogy, Isaac Asimov’s End of Eternity and Foundation Series, Max Broooks’ Zombie Survival Guide.

Movies I enjoyed: 
Man of Steel, Olympus has Fallen.

TV Shows I got into:
Dexter, Walking Dead, Arrested Development

Unutterable feats of awesomeness performed
Many. All unutterable

Things I lost: 
My way, on a visit to my brother’s.
1 blackberry phone charger
1 blackberry phone (found later found at my brother’s)
1 pair of slippers (they were a gift. If you took them, know I will find you and exact my revenge)

Lessons learned:
Not to fall asleep during a serious conversation with a lady. It does not become the amusing anecdote you hope it will.

Not to go for premier of ANY Nigerian movie, especially one your friend invites you to. Not only will you have a miserable time, you will be unable to complain about it.

To fight for what I want.

Number of new friends I made:
3

Number of New Friends made I am currently Avoiding:
3

Number of times I said sorry:
> 800 and counting

Number of hours spent wondering if a zombie apocalypse could really happen and planning what to do in the event thereof
13

Most Apt Quote of 2013
“This life…is just a pot of beans.”

Saddest thing about 2013
I felt the pain of losing life. 3 times.

Worst Song I Listened To
WTF – Etcetera
Truly a horrible song. I encourage everyone to listen to it.

…………………….

Oh yes. About that man and his question.
“Why”, he asked, “Do bad things happen to good people.”

And the answer he came up with -which is the best answer on this issue I have found- is this: Because they can.
Quite simple really, when you think on it.

The imp was right.
This was the year that broke itself across my back.
The year that broke. 
Not me.

And looking back I can see: the important thing is to love. and Live. And not lose faith.
Even when this life is nothing but a pot of beans.

==========================

This life is a pot of beans, but some beans are on top in the pot.

Dusk: Oyin

Roots

That’s what the year 2013 was supposed to be about. About building strong foundations and creating roots and becoming some level headed, suburbia loving woman with a stable relationship and sticking to a job like GROWN UPS are usually expected to do. In my mid-twenties, even I had begun to expect so much more from myself that I probably usually would. Or maybe I’m just a confused overachiever.

Anyway, this year taught me a huge lesson. MY GOD!! Do you know I actually thought that I was so in touch with life that I knew almost everything? Well, 2013  said SCREW YOU AND ALL YOUR PLANS OYIN, I’M GONNA TEACH YOU A LESSON YOU WILL NEVER FORGET!

I moved to Abuja in January because I was looking for roots, a foundation, space, a less dramatic life and keeping a promise I made to myself and my lover. Yup, I just packed my load AND MOVED. I didn’t have 300k when I did it. Hell, I think I had just about 100k, no housing and a sketchy plan. Smartest thing I did was keep my job.

In Abuja, Everything seemed to be on track until March. March Came like a big hurricane shaking huge coconut trees in my “home”. In March, my lover and I started our drama AGAIN! Our friends and families were getting tired of the drama. I thought we were too but I really don’t think that we were. We were hurting each other in ways that only someone who knows you completely can hurt you and it just steadily got worse. He wasn’t talking. I wasn’t listening. Everybody was trying to give advice and we were being so stubborn. After agreeing that we needed to make very extreme moves, Victor had an accident. No, not the kind where an okada runs into you and you have a few broken bones.

No, he had an accident. The type that had me running into an ICU at 6am to face a man trapped in a mangled body. Almost every bone was broken, skull fracture, brain bleed… the works. And then it all became clear. I mean all the stubbornness and madness had led to what? Him being at the wrong place at the wrong time because he was trying to run away from me and all the drama. We were in the hospital for 2 whole months. Brain surgery, jaw surgery, resetting bones, so many reconstructive surgeries, Changing sheets, teaching him to stand and walk and trying to handle all sorts of depression I had only read about before. When I think about March 2013, I don’t want to get into cars. I don’t want to move. I don’t want to take Victor for granted ever again. I want to just lie in bed and hold all the people I love with me and never let them go anywhere. The paranoia skyrocketed.

Still in March, My brother started having issues with clearing school and it seemed like everything was getting too much. I was going crazy, sleeping on hospital floors, waking up at 4am to work (cuz yes, I was still working), taking care of Victor and my brothers, AND  just basically trying to be a person.  It was the worst!

May came and after all that gore, we could go home. May taught me two very clarifying things:
1.      See these Christians that act like they are really supporting you and praying for you, watch out for what they say about the “sinners”. That’s how you know if Christianity really runs in their veins. Yes, a very deceitful “Christian worker friend” taught me this lesson.
2.      You can only take advice from people who really know you. Forget all that jazz about objective assessment. If the person does not know you, the person can only see from HIS point of view.

A few months down the line, and a whole lot of therapy later, I’d learnt so much about handling myself better, people better, what Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) really really is and I’d begun to feel old! Oh well…. Things were going so well again. Victor was healing faster than anyone expected. The doctors were shocked. They’d said he’d need at least 18 months before he could be himself again. It’s been about 6 months since he had his brain surgery. YOU SHOULD SEE MY BABY NOW!!!! GOD IS AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!

Things of course got better and we were better. I was listening more. I don’t think I’ll ever be totally drama free but he’s more patient so it’s perfect. And we are getting married. Maybe I won’t choke  and run away screaming in fear.

In October, we lost one of our best friends in an accident. We were living in a real life horror movie. It brought March back, it brought all those long hospital days back. And somehow we wished for that. We were wishing for therapy and madness and pain, instead of standing over a coffin and wondering what life is about, WHY these things were happening. I have so many questions still. So many questions.

In that moment, I realized that I wanted to come HOME. To my mother. To my brothers. To my friends.  Yes, against my very objective desire for Lagos not to be home, IT IS. The smelly, dirty, headache causing Lagos felt like Home and I had to come back and start all over. I was done with Abuja…at least in the meantime. And maybe, just maybe, I’d be able to put down roots, build foundations. Be a better friend to the people who ALWAYS swat my madness away like a pesky fly, and I’d be less dramatic. Maybe.

With my new amazing job (Yes, I got a new amazing job), and marriage plans and my brothers doing so well now, Right now it feels like I’m on the right track. I STILL don’t particularly have an apartment (YES, THIS IS AN AD FOR WHOEVER WANTS TO GIVE ME A HOUSE AT AN AFFORDABLE PRICE) AND I’m still learning to be a better person TO MYSELF. To my friends. To my Family. To my Lover.  To People.

This year, I realized that Oyin cannot make everything go the way she wants it to go. She can’t plan everything, then sulk and misbehave when things don’t go her way. She can be dependent and independent at the same time without compromising her stand. And that PRIDE GOES BEFORE A FRIGGING RIDICULOUS FALL. God does things on his own terms.

AND I’M WAYYYY STRONGER THAN I LOOK.

Day 30: Sorell

2013. The Year of Enlightenment. Around this time in 2012, that’s what You said it would be. No, let me rephrase that. That’s what we agreed it would be. And it started off so well. But doesn’t it always? What happened? Where did I screw up? What went wrong?

It wasn’t supposed to be like this, was it? It wasn’t supposed to feel this empty. Didn’t you want this for so long? Didn’t you think this was the answer? Didn’t you think getting all you wanted would make you happy?

Well why didn’t You stop me?

How could I? All I could do was let you have your way, and if you were wise, then, and only then would you finally see.

See what? That you want me to be 100% dependent on you? Why? Do you have any idea how hard that is for me? That the things my heart desired and got made me feel a little emptier inside?

Yes. But why do you think so?

Because I’m broken?

You are. But that’s not the answer.

Because I wanted the wrong things?

No.

Because my motives were impure? Because You had bigger and better planned for me?

Exactly. And that’s what enlightenment was. I had to shift your focus. I had to avert your eyes. I had to change the way you thought. I had to prepare you for next year.

I thought I was going to be enlightened about the reason I’m here in the first place. I thought it would be made sooo much clearer.

You thought wrong.

There’s still so much uncertainty about the future.

Wait. And trust Me.

I’m thankful for all I got. But I want more. So much more.

But you’re not ready…

Yes I am. I keep telling you I am.

But you keep showing me you’re not. It’s in the way you react to certain situations solely out of pride. It’s in your indiscipline. It’s in your laziness. But make no mistakes. I’m not saying you’re not ready because you have flaws. No. I’m saying you’re not ready because you’re yet to hand those flaws over to me. You’re yet to totally depend on me and nobody else.

But that’s not how You made me.

I made you perfect for your assignment.

Then I’m letting go. It terrifies me, but I know it shouldn’t. Just do as You please.

***
As always, this year was a rollercoaster.

This year, I confronted my own brokenness like never before. I faced a lot of my demons. I may not have defeated them all, but I no longer act like ignoring them will just make them go away.

This year, I grew up. Nobody told me how hard it would be. But I’m glad it happened.

This year, I sunk to new lows. Not necessarily because I was at the lowest point ever in my life, but it just felt that way because I knew I should have known better AND done better.

This year, I lost my drive too many times. I was weak. I was tired. I was quitting. I couldn’t see the big picture.
But through it all, I’m thankful.

For music that kept me sane when I was on the edge.

For conversations that were a light in the dark tunnel. (Thank you Nugi, Wendy, Fei, Kelv, Tico, gbo gbo ti gbo)

For new friends. (See parenthesis above)

And I’m thankful for the lessons learned.

2014 is (almost) here. For the first time since I began getting “themes” for each year, it’s not the year “of” anything, it’s the year TO do something. It’s a verb. And I’m just as excited about it right now, as I was 2 months ago when you told me.

I can sense the weight of 2014 on my shoulders already. And until I wrote that last sentence, I was scared and worried I would screw things up. And then suddenly, I’m not.

Bring it on…

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Now it all comes together. Now it makes sense. Now you feel like a brother.

Dusk: ‘Daeze

A friend urged me to share.
Thinks it’d help.

This is about a girl.

She’s had it bad for the last four years.
So 2013 was neither different nor special for her.
To start with, this was the second of 2 extra years in university she’s been forced to undergo, due to recurring cases of ill health.

In February, a man she used to love came around. He picked up her phone and demanded to know whom she had been texting and why.
Then he picked up his hand and hit her across her face. Then he punched her and hit her some more, till he tired of it. And left her cowering in tears, with bruised and bloodshot eyes.

In March, she got pregnant, following the doctor’s advise.
“You’re sick”, he’d said. It was either: have a baby now, or never.
She was lonely and miserably ill.
Writing exams, visiting the hospital was a horrible combination.
But at least she’d have her baby.

In April, she miscarried.

In May, away from school on break, she got a call. “Come back to school now,” they said. “It’s urgent.”

She travelled, thinking that she’d get her final results and do her clearance.
It was neither.
“We’re sorry,” they said, “and we know you’ve been sick. But you’ve missed so many exams you won’t be able to graduate.”
“Not graduate this year?!” She asked shocked.
“No,” they said, ” not graduate ever.”

She goes on medication for clinical depression.
She sinks deeper.

In June she’s pregnant again.
She visits the hospital and takes things easy.
In the midst of the disappointment and pain, there’s hope.

In August, she miscarries.
Again.

The depression gets worse.
She hates herself. She hates everybody.
She thinks about taking her life. She’s sure that would be easier.

There’s drama from her mother who wants her to get married to the man she’s chosen.
She’s a good mother. What with their financial situation, and her medical condition, her mother is sure it’s the right thing to do:
Get married to someone who can take care of them. Have kids while she can.
It’s hard to fight with someone you love when that person loves you and feels guilting you day after day is the right thing to do.

She has a boyfriend, named Garba.
He has been the sane part of 2013.
Silently urging her forward with his unwavering support and faith in strength she doesn’t even have.
Loving her in ways she does not even deserve.
Helping her live through each day.

This is December, and she is deep, deep, deep in depression.
Every waking thought is about suicide. Every.
Shouldn’t she just overdose on the painkillers? Or the antidepressants? Or the  hallucinogens? Wouldn’t that hurt less?

She’ll be starting next year with a hysterectomy (one that is absolutely necessary but unaffordable). She’ll start it knowing she’ll never have kids (kids being all she’s ever wanted).
She’ll start it knowing 7 years of schooling have gone to waste and no degree to show for it.
She’ll start it with low job prospects and no hope.

She believes in God. She believes He hears her.
What she wants to know is: in His goodness and almighty graciousness, why in the name of all things beautiful, does He hate her so much? Why for every one she asks, He takes two? Why He’d rather help the others and ignore her?

What she wants to know is:
Isn’t there a marker for pain, after which one is allowed to do what one can to end it?
Isn’t there a point beyond which conceding defeat and letting life win is the only sane thing to do?
Isn’t it foolish and useless to hope in the face of undeniable sorrow and repeated misfortune?

The girl is me, and that’s all there is to say about my 2013.
To think that it isn’t my worst year so far, LOL.

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Ada…

You had to write this. Thank you very much for sharing. We’ll be here for you in our prayers and hearts.

Goodnight and take care

Day 29: Batarhe

Project 2013!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What a year this was….. In the company where I earn my bread, there’s this best practice of doing a look back session at the end of a project. So this is akin to that, a look back session on the Major Capital Project called 2013….

At the back end of 2012, I already knew one thing for certain. After all said and done, I’d flown half way round the country to ask the most amazing woman in the whole wide world to marry me. We’d consequently set an April date for our planned small and intimate wedding ceremony. Little did I know this was gonna be a helluva year, my toughest year ever and I mean I’ve been here for well over three decades, so you know I know what I’m talking about.

So came January 1st, and as it is my family’s tradition, we all rolled into the new year in church in Warri (my dad is a Baptist). I was so excited because it was gonna be a big year; after all it’s not every year one gets married. The excitement continued even when I left Warri on the 3rd of January, as I was finally moving into my house, my very first home paid for with my own money (btw, by my projections in 2011, I thought I was gonna be moving into my own property not a rented one but alas we can only dream). The plan was to ensure I got the house ready before resuming work on the 20th of January. Boy, the day I got to Lagos was the day I knew this was gonna be a long year and that this marriage thing wasn’t gonna be a walk in the park. Anyways as a result of the mood in my mum’s house, I had to fast track my moving out and so on the 10th of January I finally moved into my own lovely apartment I mean c’mon this wasn’t like others.  You know in school that ‘selfcon’ was paid for by my parents and in Lokoja the apartment was my previous company’s apartment, so yes I was pretty excited. We tried to make it a beautiful home, a place we could both return to after the world out there might have contrived to beat us and feel at peace with ourselves.

Family Troubles

I’d given y’all a hint at the top. Anyways January and February came with a lot of wahala especially from my mum. At a point my best mate couldn’t help but say ol boy this one na only African magic we dey see am o. Let’s just say our relationship deteriorated to the worst ever levels, In fact it was below sea level. She made it clear to me that I was only going to get married to my then fiancée over her dead body. All attempts by other family members to have her come round failed spectacularly. Several trips back and forth Warri just to find a way out proved futile (e hard pass the Mid-East peace plan). Bisi and I literally went through fire and brimstone, but through it all we stayed committed to each other, we truly wanted to be together and in the end I stood my ground and had my way.

Money, Career, Depression

Now, I work in a Fortune 10 company (just to give perspective on what this paragraph is gonna be about). I couldn’t fathom why I was perpetually living from hand to mouth; it was tough, really tough. It was as though I was in a labyrinth or sinking sand; the harder I tried to balance the books the broker I got. OMG!! Every time we planned to go on a proper holiday, something would just come up that was far more urgent and needed. ‘Fiam’ the money go just fly. ( mehn, I kid you not money does have wings).. Even Seychelles gan we couldn’t make it happen, mind you the Mrs. would always go to great extents planning these trips (I have to apologize to her and hope to make it up to her in 2014).

At work, I was so dissatisfied with the company and my job, I felt as though I wasn’t adding the required value to the team. Now as an engineer I like to have complex stuff thrown at me,  I like to feel pressured (I thrive under pressure), but here I was managing rather simple stuff, my brain was merely in gear one while I needed to be on gear five. As a result waking up in the morning to go to the office became a sore chore. No one could understand why I felt the way I did. All they could see was the fat check they perceived I was getting. The lesson I have learnt in all this is that it’s not so much about how much money you earn cos if you had a job that paid you $200m per annum you’d still feel empty and useless if you weren’t happy and fulfilled doing that so called job, unless of course money is all you care about.

In April I got passed up on a position I’d been authoritatively assured I was gonna get based on my performance in the interviews. To say I was heartbroken is an understatement; I was so depressed I couldn’t function at work I had to take a forced vacation from work for half a month. In 2013 I had plans to enroll for an MSC in Risk and Reliability Engineering; mind you in the last 3 years I’d consistently had offers for higher studies, first it was Subsea Engineering then Petroleum and Environmental Engineering and finally Civil and Engineering Management. So in 2013 I thought to myself this is the time to finally get it off the ground but alas just like the years before I failed spectacularly. I couldn’t even go ahead with the application let alone start the program.

On the personal development front I didn’t grow at all whereas in 2012 I got a professional certification in the bag this year nothing. I’d also thought I would be able to start my own small firm this year but like everything else I failed to even decide what it is I wanted to do. Oh did I mention that there was so much uncertainty at work this year? There was what came to be known as business optimization, our partners cutting down on funding, long and short was that a lot of people got severance packages. The wait did take a toll on one, but glad I still have a job on 29th December albeit as unchallenged as I sometime feel.

Marriage, Faith, Humility

So after all of the wahalas we went through, we finally tied the knot. I must say that when two people are determined to be together, throw a mountain at them I bet my top dollar they will survive it. Bisi and I are survivors. it takes more than love to weather what we did, there were times it seemed one of us was gonna give up but then the other would be so much of a rock of strength that it would often be enough for the two of us. But one thing we both took away from this is that we got our baptism early on and survived and now we are even better placed to survive any other storm that may come in future.

Marriage is the best thing that could happen to a young man (Bisi would have to speak for women). If I wasn’t matured before, I am now so matured and really responsible. I love my wife so very much, sometimes I wake up in the middle of night just to stare at her and wonder what she saw in this ordinary me. She has been my absolute rock of Gibraltar, my best friend, my No 1 fan and critic; she makes me wanna be a better person. Yes we know it’s a journey and so we understand we both have shortcomings and we both help each other to get through those weaknesses, we are both people who know gold when we smell it. 

Faith? What faith? In 2013 I lost communication with God, the funny and bad thing about people like me who were raised in church who have never really been bad, is that it’s difficult for us to ever admit that we have strayed or to even determine how far lost we are (after all I don’t have any of the vices, no alcohol, no gambling, no smoking, no drugs, no partying, no womanizing, no killing, well unless you think football or sports is a vice), and so it’s easier for us to stay lost. Boy even going to church was a chore, my wife would occasionally literally drag me to house fellowship.. I still read the daily devotional (open heavens) but it was more of ticking the boxes than actually having a communion with God. I still knew the bible, I could still speak in tongues, but I know I am not the same with God. Hopefully I will find my way back to him this 2014 (where do broken hearts go? Can they find their way home back to the open arms of a love that’s waiting there)

Oh humility! Well I’ve always been a really humble person (so a lot of people tell me anyway) but some time in December I got a dose of humility from a man who is so high up one of the top 5 energy companies in Africa. After the chance meeting my wife and I had with him, I was so enthralled by his humility, so much so that when he demanded we stayed in touch I couldn’t even say a word. That’s how I wanna be when I grow up. Actually that’s how you know how humble someone really is when you give him a few millions of USD and he still stays grounded.

October 25 2013

What a day, the day before I’d returned back from work like all other days teasing my wife, asking if she wasn’t ready to bring forth yet. Hehehe, she could be in the bedroom by herself and every time she called out for me I’d immediately start teasing her all over. So on this particular day we’d both gone to bed as usual, and then some time around 1am I got THE CALL, for a split second I was dazed, anyways I quickly gathered myself, and off we drove to the hospital. You won’t believe I almost passed out at the sight of blood and all, but as time went by I became more composed, through it all I was in the delivery suite with her (well over 13 hours before the procedure), holding her hands until she was wheeled to the OR for the procedure and I was asked to wait in the waiting lounge.

Sometime around 4:30pm I heard the cry of a baby. Trust me when you hear your baby’s cry you’d instinctively know. I quickly rushed in to see the PD and the matron cleaning her up. She was so tiny and lovely to behold, and so I became a daddy: Efe Serena, my beautiful Serena was born. She is the most adorable, pretty, charming, sweet little girl in the whole wide world. Despite the difficult pregnancy that saw my wife having to quit her job in the first trimester because doctors said she had to be on complete bed rest, despite the several challenges, our baby was born healthy, and you can tell she’s gonna be a star. Ain’t nothing like being a daddy, for those of you who don’t have kids as yet you just won’t understand how I feel every time I look at her, even when she keeps us up all night (she seems to be operating on Australian time) I can’t help but drool. The way she listens when I sing the Lionel Ritchie’s Ballerina Girl to her, like she knows yea this is my daddy. Yes my life may have changed forever with her birth, but I absolutely love it. I once had to travel out of town for a few days, boy did I miss her and yea she threw a tantrum when I got back she had to let me know she wouldn’t accept an absentee daddy; the way she holds my finger with her tiny hands, or how she tries to smile at me or how she trains her eyes on me as I leave home. For everything I’ve passed through this year, Serena’s arrival has made the year a glorious one.

Twitter Writing & the Rest

So at the start of the year I’d promised I was going to try and write a couple of pieces. Thankfully I was able to do this. An amateur I am but writing those posts made me believe if I really did put in some efforts, It could become a useful hobby. Thanks to Nedu for making me deliver on my promise and yes Efe for having me write this review. For those of you who follow me on twitter, you must all agree I am a twitterholic, matter of fact I was an addict. I was so engaged on twitter that the first thing I usually did in the morning was to get on the site, last thing at night as well. One day I just woke up and realized I needed to check this trend otherwise the addiction would affect other aspects of my life, especially after they went public. And so began my journey of curing the addiction and to the glory of God I have not even been on the site for a record 6 weeks. For someone so addicted this indeed as an 11th world wonder and modern day miracle. I did make some good friends on twitter this year, people I’d probably never have met but for the site. For someone who had such a troubled year, you’d never guess from my time on twitter.

Overall Report

It was a tough project, I failed at a few things, was too lazy to start some, but the year ended on a high for me and mine (my younger sister got married, my cousin had twins, another cousin got married, yet another cousin got married. I got married and had Serena. Hopefully I’ve learnt a few lessons that will stand me in good stead to manage project 2014 better.

Bring it on 2014.

Have a Prosperous 2014 Y’all

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I think the most touching part of this review was your baby. I’m also flushed that she’s my namesake. I’m also proud of Bisi for sticking and standing with you. Kudos

Thank you Batarhe. May your strength equal your days. Happy New year in advance.

Dusk: Shade

2013 has been great I won’t lie. 

Started in January when one fantastic woman looked at me and said, “Shade, hope you don’t mind my saying this, can I pay Erica’s first term fees?”

Ehn? Mind ke.

My name by the way is….you already know my name, Erica is my daughter, I’m a single mum, and a hot photographer.

How I met this woman OGT and how she blessed me a lot financially and otherwise is something I will forever be grateful for. She helped give me a push in my finances early in the year and I was able to get my camera and some lenses. I pray for her everytime.

In my church…well one of my churches -___- at the end of year service, we are made to write down our goals for the new year. Looking though that list, I would say I accomplished over 50% AND THAT IS HUGE.
Basically I’ve learned a lot this year. I remember telling God that I would want to be the Shade from secondary school. The sweet, always smiling, never gets angry Shade. I think it’s working. 🙂

My year has been full of smiles, joy some tears, a little patience, a few angry moments, lots of fish, fruits, ugwu and chicken.
I’ve made decisions I won’t say I regret, but would say I learned from….or not.
My birthday this year has been the best in my 30 something years on earth. I got gifts! Lots of gifts. I love gifts abeg don’t give me that look. I got stuff I didn’t even dream of getting this year at all.
One of the best gifts for me this year was my daughter’s academics. I made a good decision to change her school and I’m so glad I did. The joy I felt in my heart when she asked me after telling me some of her scores ‘Mummy, are you impressed?’
Wow. I was just short of words. It was one of those moments I knew I was doing something right.

By God’s Grace, I did not struggle with finances this year, not for one moment!

Towards the end of this year, I learned patience. A little bit. I learned to accept some behaviour that will otherwise have made me blown a fuse or two. Like right now, typing this, a woman was just rude to me at the bank, na look I dey look am, I no talk. 😐
I smile more now, I took myself out a lot this year because I deserve(d) it. I also developed my shoe and cloth fetish. Dear Lord please don’t let me go bankrupt.

Above all, I have learned to let things go, I still hurt and cry over little things, but I have learned not to hold on to things unnecessarily to things…and people no matter how painful. To let go and let God.

The one thing that has kept me excited a lot this year is fitness. I finally attained my dream dress size, clocked one year in fitness, challenged myself to insanity by Shaun T and was super glad when people kept referring other people to me for weight loss and fitness and some of them telling me how my journey inspired theirs.

I go soon open shop! 

Oh by the way, I caught a bouquet at a wedding, so get ready ladies and gentlemen….

I go soon marry! 

But the ‘koko’ of the matter is, I still don’t have friends and I’m still single…..and hot…and single.

LOL

My relationship with God has been errr…ok. It could be much better. I promised my self that it would be fantastic. Sigh.
But at least I’m glad I started morning prayers with my daughter. I laugh when she prays, she uses the same words EVERY morning, that child. I can recite her prayers like the Lord’s.

In all I know that I am very ready for 2014, lots of expectations and high hopes. Training I did this year will be business(es) I’m opening next year.

I know I’m ready for God and He’s ready for me. Whatever you do, write down this name ISHOLA FOLASHADE JANET and also remember the name SAZZYE. I know these two names will be mentioned a lot next year so help me God!

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Amen sister. More than your success I’m so happy for your daughter Shade. Much love to Erica. And when you find love, we’ll be there with our canopy at your wedding  gbedu. LOL

Day 28: Preye

2013 started on an all time low for me. There were so many ups and downs, twists and turns, but despite all God came through for me, and for this I have come to testify on 19th Street.

So late last year I was with the hubs partying and having plenty fun when my mom called with the news that my dad was ill. I asked to speak with him and she said he was too weak to even talk on the phone! That call threw me off balance, so many thoughts ran threw my mind. No I wasn’t ready to lose my dad.

The next day we were back in Port Harcourt. I watched my dad slipping away while we searched frantically for a donor with a  matching kidney. Those days were dark. Fast forward to January 14 when my elder sister called from yankee that she and her hubby of 10 years were going through a divorce. She said she would be fine but I should not tell our parents as she wanted to do it herself. My heart broke again as I wondered what the hell this year had in store for me.

Momsy volunteered a kidney for my dad. After all the confirmation tests here they left to India for the surgery, only to be told by the medical team that my mom’s kidney does not match dad’s. Travel money wasted, hopes dashed. We returned to Nigeria to continue the dialysis and resumed the search for a donor.

Meanwhile hubby had told me about taking a loan from the co-operative at work to assist his friend and best man that was going through financial challenges. I said yes please, because that guy had been there for us during the hubby’s 2 years of joblessness. He had even placed us on monthly up keep and was such a strong support. Weeks later in March hubby called me to tell me that the guy’s tugboat and products were hijacked by militants from the high seas. We were now in debt to the tune of some millions. The monthly pay back deductions meant there would be no luxury for a while just basics for survival. This was so hard seeing that we were both still trying to find our feet financially. At this point I had to drop the plan to go for my Masters. School fees were looking impossible. I have given up like “look 2013 whatever. Do your worst.”

On another angle my 3 year old then was having difficulties breathing. He would go to bed and wake up choking. The doctor said he had a very bad case of tonsillitis. He was not taking in enough air as a result of growths on his airway, so he would have to undergo a corrective surgery. Who would put a surgical knife to the throat of my 3 year old baby?! My heart could not take it; I cried and cried, did all the tests, made arrangements for the surgery and then entered my room. I cried, prayed to God to please heal my son. He healed loads of people in the bible, He should heal my son was all I asked of him. I cried till I dozed off.

I woke up feeling so light and refreshed felt like my burdens were all gone; I had this unusual calmness in face of all my challenges. I experienced first hand the peace of God the bible spoke of that surpasses all human understanding – having peace in spite of  daunting situations.

Finally my younger brother’s kidney matched my dad’s. On the second journey to India the surgery was successful! Whooop the joy! I was happy for the first time this year. Seeing my dad was well and strong again, I focused my prayers on my son’s surgery.

Then my childhood friend and dear sister Mrs. Pepple passed on. She had a two month miscarriage and died during the evacuation. I had gone to see her in the hospital while she was alive. There God had reminded me of how ungrateful I was.

He had saved me from a 6 month miscarriage earlier in my life. I bled from 8pm to 3pm profusely non stop; my hubby, mom, sister in-law all donated blood for me and the doctor said if by 6 pm the bleeding didn’t stop, they would take out my uterus abi womb out to stop the bleeding and save my life. I prayed and said God please let this  bleeding stop and it stopped. I was induced and the foetus came out.

When I remembered this, I knelt down in the clinic I told God I was sorry for my ingratitude and I thanked him profusely. I’m always about the things he hasnt done but forget to thank him for the ones he has done.

In June, we had to go for medical tests at UniPort teaching hospital in preparation for my son’s surgery. The Dr. said he wanted to see me. I was so scared. I got in to his office and he said he was confused. The results were all negative and there were no growths. I was shaking. I didn’t believe him so I took him back to Prime labs for tests. Again there were no growths. God healed my son. I had just experienced firsthand the miracles I read in the bible.

My joy knew no bounds. I was so happy! No more surgery! My faith rose. I learnt how to thank God for challenges, instead of whining and complaining. 

Weeks later my elder sister called to tell me that her husband came back home. He had found Jesus, and came back begging with his pastor.

I was blown away! I was like God, is this how you work?! I wasn’t even done thanking him for my elder sister’s marriage when the hubby called to say NDDC had paid his the outstanding 3 years debt they owed him. His friend just paid in half of the loan my hubby took from the cooperative. Jesus!!! This could not be happening!

My sister also called me to say her hubby got a job and that they were renewing their vows on his birthday, whoop!!! Another beautiful thing that happened was that my favourite cousin got married and sealed an international job, after 5 years of being unemployed.  That marriage was like Christmas for my entire family.

Suddenly I fell in love with 2013. Loads of answered prayers, things that seemingly looked impossible became possible. God came through for me, he spoke peace to my worried soul, he calmed all the raging storms of my life, wiped my tears and put a smile on my face.

2013 was designed by God to bring me closer to him, to teach me gratitude and how to trust him wholly and completely. Not all my prayers were answered but I now have peace knowing that God knows best.

I like planning and having my stuff in place and well figured out. God LOLed at me this year sha. I’m sure he yimu-ed at my plans several times. Yes because even after praying I would try to figure out how he was going to do it and ask Virgin Mary kinda questions “seeing I’m (insert life problem) how can these be?” forgetting that what God promised he would do! (Luke 1:45)

I learnt to let go and let God do his thing.

My 2013 review would not be complete without my weightloss. After trying out so many short cuts to lose weight I discovered Delatarre on  twitter. They made it look so easy and appealing, I consulted  with them and the journey to eating clean  and training dirty began. I registered for the shred challenge and went down from a size 20 to 14. I was shocked and proud of my achievements! My twitter family was such a strong support system. My twitter clique is cooler than yours *shines teeth*

“I love the peace you exude lately, I love the woman you are becoming , I love your calmess in the face of difficulties, I love this woman please never lose her.” These were the words of my boo, my king, my crown of life to me this year. Shege jagwa!!! Coming from a man who knows me better than anyone else meant so much because I CAN WORRY FOR AFRICA. I worry way too much. Now I have learnt to lay it at Jesus feet and leave them there. And my hubby loves it!

I’m so happy that everything life threw at me made me better. Come 2014 I’m committing an unknown future into the hands of an all knowing God. In 2014 I shall not need to fight I will just sit back and see the salvation of GOD because if he said it he will do it. my Heart shall be still.

Selah

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*bows* Sister Preye’s testimony hasn’t even started. Trust me this was the short version! Sister! Testify!

Dusk: Mam

I’m not the only one that thinks this year was so fast right? I’m overwhelmed by how much has happened in such “short” time.

I began the year in very low spirits. I lost weight, confidence, sleep, and a bit of myself. I was still coming to terms with how last year ended and I was still searching for whom to blame. Still felt a need to end my life and trying to act like everything was okay. And after these episodes, being truly happy was a task.

2013 started with my friends and I organizing a fashion show. Very stressful and I swear the emotional meltdowns on TV are real but It was a success. The night my modeling career started and ended. It was one of the highpoints of my year.

2013. I went on IT in April. I started in an HIV lab. It was a very depressing place to work and I had nightmares for a while. You take blood samples throughout the day and you’re just being so cautious the whole time and there were some angry patients and others you have to pet because their pain was so obvious. Working there, seeing people who had to be on drugs their whole lives, others on the verge of giving up, the innocent kids *sigh*. You just have to be thankful. It was a very educating experience both school-wise and life-wise.

I presented a seminar at the end of my 3 months at the HIV lab. I had only 2 days to prepare and I really didn’t expect to perform as well as I did. Even after I left there, my presentation is still being praised. I have left my mark in the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF PHARMACEUTICAL RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT guys! I have never been more proud of myself. I can do anything after all.

Another achievement was getting the lead role in a play I auditioned for. I couldn’t take it because it was going to take so much of my time and I didn’t want to be in a situation where my priorities were misplaced. But it’s good to know I still have a career in acting so… yay!

I lived out of home throughout this year and I learnt to live with people, adapt even if it inconvenienced me a little. Sacrifice ay. I even had my first shot at being an elder sister. I lived with an aunt who has a daughter. Never have I felt so much responsibility over another being like I have with her and she’s made me be a better person. I love her very much though she got on my nerves more often than necessary but that has taught me patience. You have to be patient with children.

Plenty firsts this year and the most exciting remains being present at an IVF procedure (I now work in a hospital). I was there from the extraction of the eggs (which yielded none sadly) to the insemination in hope they can swim to the eggs we assumed were still there. Not the most enjoyable way of baby making I must add. Yikes!

First “Love”. In summary: Roses are red, violets are blue, I’m not heartbroken, and truth is sweeter than you. I’m sorry.

Music played a major part in the beginning and end of what seemed to be a very uncertain journey for me. That’s all I can say.

My least exciting first is the sugar daddy proposal. *pukes* I went to see my sister at her office and her boss hit on me; her really old boss. I felt molested by just the way he looked at me. That was the last day I went there. I don’t know how these girls do it! I don’t know how someone older than my dad can look at me lustfully. I felt filthy and insulted and demeaned. If I had the chance I’d punch him in the face and just…. Kill him over and over again. Anyway, my sister quit. Love her.

2013, my communication problem escalated. Sometimes you just want to be alone because you’re tired of hearing “sorry”. We all know how well sorry does with fixing problems. Maybe the best thing to do is be with someone in their time of grieve and hurt and not talk at all, but you can’t “not talk at all” when your only way of being with each other is over the phone yea? Not my best decision this year, I admit. On the most part it was sort of selfish but we all have our way of dealing with things and it must not really please everyone. I think.

2013 felt like a break from my life. I have never been out of school for so long since I was born! I know there are still things to be dealt with that I ignored for the most part of the year and they’re beginning to rear there ugly heads as school is about to begin again. I have no plan on how I’ll cross that bridge when I reach it. Actually, I have no plan about anything regarding my future. Seems like I’m approaching it facing backwards and it is constant falling and bruising and just uncertainty. Still I managed to grow this year even in my courageous-cowardly acts of facing challenges and leaving my comfort zone. Not bad at all.

Most important growth for me this year is my faith. It practically didn’t exist last year and though I’m still waiting on my miracle, I have no doubt. I’m alive, aren’t I?

I learnt to lower my expectations. People will disappoint you and sometimes it isn’t their fault. There are people who would cut an arm and leg for you if they weren’t already doing that for their PRIORITIES.

There are things that remain the same; my love for books, internet, music, comedy, and friends and of course, my awesomeness.

2013 has come to an end for me with new friends, -1 Family member (RIP Amelia), stronger friendships and an awesome playlist.

I still have fears to conquer. There are scars I have to erase from my heart and mind. I still need to learn to forget after forgiving. Learn to be selfless. Learn to accept things I cannot change. Learn to allow people to love me. It is an endless impossible list, but “poco a poco”.

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Miss Tarfa is full of joy. Much love sister.

Day 27: Olumide

“…and the doors opened, and I beheld, as in a glass, the beauties that lay ahead, and I was overwhelmed, and I gave thanks.”

The year of our Lord 2013 has been a beautiful year for me by and by. I do not even know how to start.

I just read the 2012 review I did on this same platform last year (HERE) and even I am amazed at how different things have been thus far this year. A smile crossed my face when I realized that at the beginning of this year, I sort of thought things were perfect, but I was going to be shocked by even myself.

You know how you go into a new year hoping that it brings good tidings, and then you get in and observe that it isn’t anything like you imagined, even in your wildest dreams? That was 2013 for me. The year kicked off on a slow note; the first day found me in church, then extremely bored at a joint, eating ‘point and kill’ and, in the cacophony of noise, and cheerful banter of friends who were partly drowned in bottles of beer, my mind wandered into my head, and I recollect that I was so worried as I began to subconsciously project and turn my expectations for the new year around in my head. I had all kinds of questions – What will the new year be like? How will I cope?

With the benefit of hindsight, maybe I shouldn’t have.

The year 2013 started and slowly gathered momentum. Work was going to be more this year because, towards the end of 2012, I’d agreed to take on some extra responsibility with little remuneration but very good prospects, and I eagerly looked forward to it.

The months have breezed by, the days have sped past. I must say, this year, I made impressive improvements in my relationship with my immediate family. I hope it continues to improve.

I’ve worked with an amazing team this year! Even the new people I’ve had to work with have been awesome. I think I learnt a lot too. I’ve broken new grounds, faced obstacles, studied and understudied. I’ve traveled more and slept in more hotels this year alone than I have in my entire life! I’ve learnt to tolerate people, to calmly think through situations and events, to smile, even when I’m in extreme pain, to let go and just swing in the wind; to believe – that, even when everything seems impossible and futures look bleak, to hang on and just trust.

Yeah, I’ve also strayed very far from God this year, more than I ever have. I miss the relationship I had with God, and I constantly pray that, one day, I’ll be able to retrace my steps and find myself back in a place where everything is just perfect. I’ve also learnt to get past hurt; both personal and impersonal. To give second chances, to admit when I’m wrong and make amends. I’ve also learnt that, falling hopelessly in love sometimes is as good a thing as it can get. I’ve also learnt to detach myself from dead wood; even when it comes in the likeness of friends.

I’ve worked on more projects this year, than in any other year. There has not been one moment that I haven’t had something on my hands. This year has been rewarding. I’ve made and lost friends, tried to live right by everyone, turned blind eyes, tried to be a stand-up, trustworthy guy, tried to explore more. I’ve also learnt that I have a definition of fun that’s different from my friends’, and that it’s okay, as long as we can all enjoy together.

I’m hoping and praying that I am able to finally summon up the courage and pull the resources to start a project that I’ve always had in my mind in the new year. It promises to be extremely busy for me and I’m planning to ride that wave happily.

And, again, please raise your glasses with me – Here’s to the new year – as it brings with it endless possibilities, boundless successes and incredible, amazing friendships. Here’s to love, to hope in the face of the greatest of doubts, to belief in the face of the greatest of odds, to arms that will be there for us to run into, to hearts that will continue to beat for us, even when situations and conditions say otherwise, to faith in the face of hopelessness, to triumph in the face of supposed imminent defeat, to two different but united hearts that will always and hopefully forever beat as one.

Cheers! *clinks*.

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Young man, you have a lot to celebrate! And we are here waiting to continue celebrating with you from now on. Bless.