Monday, March 30, 2009

Evergreen Gifts

Gifts are beautiful to share especially when they are of the right kind. Whatever the season or occasion (or lack of it), gifts are a perfect way of appreciating your friends and loved ones or a way of sending them a special message. Some gifts are used up immediately while some others do not fade with time and always have an effect on the heart of the person receiving it.
The gift of your time. This is great for your loved ones, your spouse, kids, ill friends and family. Giving the gift of your time shows how much you care and that you're willing to give of yourself. It tells the recipient that he or she is important to you. The time could be spent doing something for the person, having active conversation, dooing something together with them or just to be around to give comfort.

The gift of encouraging words. This is great to give to any person and not necessarily your friends or loved ones alone. It will cause the spirit of the depressed to be lifted. It will encourage the recipient to move higher and achieve something or to be a better person.

The gift of admonition. Sometimes, it is necessary to set a friend or a loved one on the right path. It is a great gifts for one's kids, friends, colleagues and in certain cases, gentle caution for older persons. It is a gift to give a warning or a caution or rebuke for the people we do not want to fall into error. A word of caution or rebuke may be the difference between the right and wrong, between life and death for some of your loved ones.

The gift of a helping hand. This is a great gift for every relationship. Giving a helping hand to another may be the singular best thing you will ever do for someone else. We all have burdens (physical or not) and it is sweet having someone help us bear them. This gift will relieve the other of the burden of otherwise going it alone and sow a seed of compassion. The gift can be given to anybody even a fellow shopper at the mall.

The gift of prayer. This is ideal in any relationship. It shows that you commit the person you are praying for unto God because you cannot be all and do all for him or her. It shows your faith in the Great God to influence the life of your loved one, work colleague and even next door neighbour.

The gift of materials. Giving physical items are a must in any relationship. It doesn't have to be expensive really. The key is in being thoughtful. Small thoughtful gifts have been known to work wonders where bigger items had been ineffective. Share what you have. It is important to give gifts that meet a need. What would the gift of a televison set do to a hungry soul? What effect would flowers have on a financially broke friend? Be intuitive. Give appropriately. Examples include food, clothes, shoes, money, flowers, a ride in your car, shelter in your home, etc. There are those that give a lot and still have plenty while there are those that withhold beyond what is necessary and yet still come to lack. Make your choice.

The gift of kindness. "Kind words can be short and easy to speak but their echoes are truly endless." This gift can be very well understood by reading the topics on the gift of a helping hand, the gift of encouraging words, and the gift of material things.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

7 Quotes on Love

1. Pure love and suspicion cannot dwell together: at the door where the latter enters, the former makes its exit. - Alexandre Dumas

2. A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave. - Mohandas Gandhi

3. Jealousy is a disease, love is a healthy condition. The immature mind often mistakes one for the other, or assumes that the greater the love, the greater the jealousy — in fact, they are almost incompatible; one emotion hardly leaves room for the other. - Robert Heinlein in Stranger In A Strange Land

4. Love doesn't make the world go round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile. - Franklin Jones

5. We don't love qualities, we love persons; sometimes by reason of their defects as well as of their qualities. - Jacques Maritain

6. Love's gentle spring doth always fresh remain - William Shakespeare in Venus and Adonis

7. I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, then there is no hurt, but only more love. - Mother Teresa

One more: When someone hurts you, cry a river, Build a bridge and get over it! - Richard Middleton

Friday, March 27, 2009

Do I love my husband?

I (believe) that I love my husband and trust me, we make it a habit to say it all the time.
But when I'm really upset with him, I just can bring myself to say, "I love you" to him. Sometimes, I wonder if this doesn't mean that I don't truly love him. Perhaps, I love him only when he's all sweet and thoughtful. After all, my loving him should be independent of his actions towards me.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Finding roots for the biz

Has anyone got a good idea of what steps I can use to firmly establish my new business? Useful tips are very welcome.
I am scheduled to speak with that relative of mine soon and I honestly haven't got any skills in being a pseudo-shrink. So how do I approach the subject of helping her restore her feelings of self-worth?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

My First Time

I was reading Writefreak's post on her first time. When I first saw the title, honestly, I thought she was going to talk about her first sexual experience. Ha ha! I know some may be surprised at my thinking. I figured that some other readers may have anticipated a post in that line and were probably, like me, disappointed. The post was nice but it could have been juicier.
Well, I want to talk about my first time (yes, that one)... It was my wedding night. Serious. We waited till we were married. The ceremony was over. We had been driven to the hotel and we were alone. My dreaded moment had arrived. I didn't know how to face it. So, after an embarrassed two minutes of doing nothing but sitting quietly, I excused myself to go to the bathroom. Actually, I was stalling. My suitcase was at my parents' house and I was still waiting for my brother to bring me a change of clothes. I knew I looked funny still wearing my wedding dress at the the time but...anything was better than total nudity.
I waited in the bathroom and counted the minutes. Five minutes. Twelve. Fifteen. I heard my husband call out. Was I not through? Not yet, I replied. I was truly fearful. I knew what to expect. Kisses of the genitals and all that. (I believe my readers are all adults). But I didn't know what to expect for me. Finally, when Mister couldn't bear it any longer, he came and knocked at the door. If I don't come out in two minutes, he was coming in to get me.
Still I refused to come out. Eventually, He came in there and held my hand. He said nothing. Slowly, He removed his clothes. He understood my feelings. He thought his nudity would help me overcome my shyness. What he didn't know was that my concern was about what would inevitably follow... I followed him to the bedroom where he helped me out of my dress. Hurdle one crossed.
Since it was obvious foreplay wouldn't do anything to prepare the path, Mister just went straight to business. Believe me. It took us more than one hour to finally dip the carrot into the soup. I was scared that it would be painful and so, unknowingly tightened the entrance security. But the man triumphed. After seeing the tiny pattern of blood on his genitals, we both heaved a sigh of relief. The worst was over. The rest of our honeymoon days was a beauty.

how to heal a wounded soul

Actually, this post should be have been entitled, "how do I help heal a wounded soul?"

I was having a talk with a relative of mine recently on her reported behaviour at university, etc. As we talked, she opened up to me on her sexual escapades. When I delved further, she confided in me that a teenage neighbour had had sexual intercourse with her when she was five years old. She never told anyone.

My issue is that I want to help her since I now know the underlying reasons behind her present misbehaviour. How do I do this? I need your advice.

corrupt leader vs corrupt father

It is often said in Nigeria that “our leaders are corrupt”. Many believe and assert that politics is a dirty game in which the participants’ souls become soiled and blackened by the intrinsic nature of public office. A recent opinion poll on a national TV showed eight in every ten Nigerians stating that corruption is primarily a disease in the corridors of power in the country.

Truth be told, I am often amused that these peoples are ignoring the fact that in pointing an accusing finger, the accuser judges himself by the other fingers facing him. I do agree that some leaders – public office holders, in this case – are corrupt. But the question is, who are the leaders? Who is in a position of authority and power? A leader is somebody who leads others in a particular situation and very often is in a position of control, authority or influence. This widens the scope of a leader beyond the government to include the foreman on a construction site, the lecturer in a university, the school classroom prefect, and most importantly, the father or mother in a family.

People are not born in public office positions. People do not suddenly appear in government houses. Whether by rightful or stolen mandates, people in public offices come from somewhere. The corrupt hairdresser is as guilty as a corrupt Representative. The trader in the food market who cheats in the weights and scales is as corrupt as the government official who demands gratification to do his job. The low level accounts officer who helps himself to his boss’ petty cash (whether or not there is intent to replace same) is as corrupt as the state governor who unjustly enriches himself with the taxpayers’ money. The employee who travels for an official business and returns with fictitious hotel receipts claiming funds he never spent is as corrupt as the Minister for a sector who embezzles funds meant for his ministry. The wife who spends the housekeep allowance on frivolous personal items (and lies about it) is as corrupt as the husband who lies to his wife about how much he earns and spends.

Corruption is everywhere. In the homes. On the streets. In the marketplace. In schools. At workplaces. Perhaps we do deserve the leaders we have in power. Before condemning a former president who stole billions of naira from the state coffers, there is a need for self-examination. In judging another, you condemn yourself too. The solution is not in blaming others. The office does not make a person. You are who you are before you got that political appointment. The position just amplifies who you are within.

As a people, there is a need for a paradigm shift. There is a need for a total overhauling of the mindset. There is a need for a renewal of mind. Cure the father and the foreman is clean. Cure the low grade level civil servant and the future state governor is clean.

My thinking on a successful marriage

I was thinking recently about how one can make a marriage work. So, I profiled some marriages of persons around me or known publicly. Actually, I spoke with some of the couples. Hence, these points. They are by no means an exhaustive list but they attempt to identify certain factors that must be present in a good marriage that is moving on to being even better.

To have a successful marriage, at least one of both parties must demonstrate patience. A good marriage does not happen like a gift on a platter of gold. The spouses must consciously work at it. One or both spouses must be able to spend a lot of time working on improving it with dedicated attention and effort.

Each spouse treats each other with kindness and consideration. Being considerate involves putting the other person before you at all times. Being selfless. A considerate spouse will be careful to put himself in the other person’s shoes and pre-determine how his actions would affect the other’s feelings.

Spouses in a successful marriage do not insist on their own right or insist on having their way because they are not self-inclined. You can put a reason forth to the other but with an open mind to listen to the other spouse’s point of view and probably make an adjustment here or there if necessary. Spouses in a good marriage will admit that many times, there will have to be compromises made. A party to the marriage cannot be intent on having things go his way all the time without, ultimately, leaving the other feeling drained.

Spouses in a working marriage and seeking to improve their relationship do not keep records of any wrong or hurt suffered. Such spouses learn to discuss as soon as possible whatever grievances they have. A better aspect is forgiveness. Issues forgiven are issues let gone. Discuss your hurt. Don’t hold it back. Empty your pain in a discussion with the other spouse. Then, wipe the slate clean and don’t bring up the other’s past offence each time there is a misunderstanding.

Spouses in a successful marriage are always ready to believe the best of each other. That naturally takes care of any anger, suspicion, or jealousy that might want to take root in each other’s mind. Give opportunity to the other spouse to demonstrate the best in them and watch your relationship bud and blossom.

Me, Ralph and the Puppet Show

The other day, my husband, Ralph, found an old picture of me and laughingly commented on how innocent I had looked. "I couldn't have known you would change." he added, shaking his head in mock self-pity. At an initial loss for words, I just stared at the picture. There I was, fresh-faced university student, about a decade years younger. The picture had been taken on one of my birthdays and I had one of my brightest smiles ever caught on camera. But I was not one to take such perceived insults lying low. "Well, how could I have known you'd change as well. Now that you know the true me, what can you do? I guess you're stuck." I laughed sarcastically. He didn't let go. "I suppose the charm you had back then has worn off. I can see clearly now," He chuckled. I felt slighted. But I didn't tell him that. In fact, I didn't tell him anything.

I had been in a sore mood all day and the conversation wasn't helping matters. I knew what he meant by my having changed. He had directly and otherwise talked about it since we marriied. You're now talkative. You used to be so quiet and docile. Your personality is practically domineering. You like to have your way. You sulk when I don't agree with you. The list goes on. To the first on the list, I readily agreed that I became generally more vocal. But then, compared to man who could stay a whole day saying no more than a few sentences, why wouldn't I sound like a talking machine? Moreover, I'm female and my specie is reputed to talk more than our spouses. In truth, I had tried so many times not to talk so much. So, later that evening, I sat quietly watching a puppet show on TV while he (as usual) read the newspapers. I noticed he had glanced at me twice already. I said nothing.

"Are you okay?" he asked finally.

"Sure." I replied, briefly turning from the TV to look at him.

"Well, you're not saying anything and that's unusual."

I pretended to reluctantly take my eyes off the TV. "Nothing's the matter. I'm just engrossed in the TV show."

"Oh, I see." he resumed his reading.

Five minutes later, he put down his newspaper and came to where I sat. "Honey, did I do something wrong?"

"Of course not." This time, I didn't look away from the TV. I was enjoying making him beg me. "It's just that everywhere is quiet and dull when you're not talking." I said nothing.

"How was your day?" he asked gently.

"Are you sure you want to know?"

"Certainly. I'm very inetersted in your day," he feigned offence.

"My day was fine."

"Anything special happened?" he persisted.


"Do you have a big head?"

I paused. I knew where he was going. When he teases me as 'Big Head' which I'm not, I reply in kind and it was our private little joke. When upset with him, the response would be different. It was a trap. I knew it. He knew it as well. "Yes." I replied quietly.

"Ha ha!" he explaimed triumphantly. "I knew something was the matter. Is it the picture thing?"

"Which picture thing?" I stared at him blankly.

He smiled. "Stop pretending, darling. I knew something was definitely wrong. I'm sorry for that statement. Forgive me."

The game was over. "Ok."

He sighed. "Did we have to go through all that? I like to hear you talk, you know."

"Ok." I was more relaxed. "So your day was fine. Thank God. Mine was fine too." He returned to the couch and picked up the newspaper. I turned fully in my seat to face him. "Well, my day was quite ok. I was at the mall today. I couldn't make up my mind on the type of shoes to buy...oh, did I tell you I wanted a new pair of shoes? old ones are worn out and...what's the matter?" Ralph had dropped the newspaper, his eyes imploring, palms pressed together as if praying.

"Please...let me finish reading this paper," he pleaded.

"Oh. Ok." I turned back to the puppet show. I don't know why some guy can't make up their mind.

Bringing Down my Chinese Walls

It hasn't been a long time since I started this blog. The purpose is for me to write my memoirs - events as they happened in my growing years and until some three years back. But I realized that any of my life stories cannot be appreciated unless I include how I brought down the walls around my heart and set the me inside free.

It happened when I was about 20years old. I had gone to my christian club site just to pass the time. I hadn't much to do that day and I didn't want to spend the time in my room. On getting there, I noticed there were new posts on the news board at the reception. Casually, I scanned each one until eyes settled on the one that changed my life. I don't recollect the writer's name but the words said people that shut themselves up from within and refrain from loving others will surely avoid hurt and pain but conversely, they cannot receive love and care and enjoy life. That touched me.

My background had ensured that I didn't open up myself. I had deliberately refrained from relationships beyond the superficial but I also couldn't enjoy the benefits of loving and being loved.

There and then, I made up my mind to bring down my guard and allow myself to live - free. Consequences? I was heartbroken the very next year - less than six months after my decision. But I have no regrets. Life is better this way.

I Saw My Boss Naked

I followed Miss Pretty Face Receptionist down the hall to the right and found myself in a large boardroom. "Please sit," Pretty Face pointed at the seat at the end of the long table. I obeyed, wondering why the job interview had to be in such an unusual setting. I didn't have long to wait this time. Mr. Boss strode into the room. He exuded confidence. More confidence than I had hoped to see in a prospective boss on my first ever job intervbiew since graduation. I got up weakly, my self-confidence reserve fast emptying out.

"Good morning, sir."

He raised an eyebrow as he took his seat at the head of the table. "Morning? I believe it's afternoon, miss. 12.05pm to be exact. You're not aware of the time?"

I was stumped. Everything became momentarily fuzzy. "Sorry sir...Good afternoon, sir." I stammered.

"Please sit. You've come this far to get the job and I see no reason for the stuttering. Relax. Let's have a good interview."

"Thank you sir." As I took my seat, still unrelaxed, a smartly dressed lady came in with some papers.

"Do I need to sign those now?" he asked the lady.

"Yes, Harry. These need to go out in ten minutes. I'm not sure you'll be through here by then." She glanced briefly towards me.

"Ok. I'll just do that quickly."

I felt my tight chest refuse to ease up and there were eagles clawing around in my stomach. The room appeared suddenly dim. Mr. Boss-now-Harry was saying something I couldn't quite make out. I forced my eyes to focus on him. I saw him adjust his tie. Then, like a flash, I remembered a scene from a far time. It was as though I had sat in that chair before but doing something else. No, it wasn't deja vu. Then, it came to me.

Months earlier, I had watched a TV reality show where job candidates had been interviewed by their prospective employers. The employers had initially been fully dressed and later, stripped to near total nudity. The job seekers had therefafter, relaxed and performed significantly better in the interview.

An idea formed in my mind and I began to undress Harry. First, his tie, then his jacket. Hesitantly, I began to unbutton his shirt. Afterall, I didn't know what I'd find underneath. I undid the first two buttons and peered inside. It was a mess of tangled curly hair. I smiled to myself. Harry is human afterall.

Thus emboldened, I unbuckled his belt and pulled down his trousers. I whistled. Harry wore a Spiderman pair of boxers. I couldn't hold it any longer. I burst out laughing. I caught myself. Too late. Harry was no longer signing any paper. His gaze on me was hard.

"Anything amusing here, miss?"

"No, sir."

"Then, why the laughter?" he queried further.

"Nothing." I would rather be fried than reveal what I saw.

Needless to say, the interview came to an informal end. I didn't get the job - expectedly. And I never repeated that tactic again. My imagination ran way too wild. Envisioning my interviewer as human may be cool but certainly not as nude.

I met Harry again four years later at a formal dinner and all I could see was a hairy-chested man in a Spiderman boxers.

Mother, please...

It was my second visit in a week to the hospital. I sat nervously as the gynaecologist read the report of the medical test I had done on my first visit."Well madam," he removed his glasses, putting down the report. "There is good news and not so good news." He paused. I sat still. Quiet. Unblinking. "The good news is that you haven't got a kidney problem like we suspected. The not-so-good news is that the symptoms you've been experiencing are all signs of a weak pelvic floor." Inwardly, I sighed. It didn't sound bad afterall. No hardly-pronouncible medical name.

I had feared the worst report. I had been experiencing urinary problems for weeks. It had started as a little pain to the lower right of my back. At first, I ignored it. Then, I noticed I couldn't hold urine for long and on several occasions, urine had leaked into my dress and often trailed my steps. Alarmed, I had come to the hospital and the gynaecologist had examined me and ordered tests done."I can only presume that you fall into the category of persons who bedwetted for a long time in childhood..."

Bedwetted for a long time. In a split second, I travelled back twenty years earlier. "You shameless girl," my mother's voice reverberated throughout the house. "How can you not be ashamed wetting your bed at 8 years of age?" I cringed into the corner of the room. "I shall have to start beating you. When I leave several marks on your body, you will remember not to sleep like a log of wood such that you don't know when urine is leaving your body." I cringed farther into the corner.

Hissing for the tenth time that morning, "Remove this wet mattress to dry outside and come back to wipe the floor." With that, she stomped out. Silently, I wrapped the dripping mattress under my arm and crept outside, careful not to bump into anybody. The humiliation was too much.It wasn't neither the first nor the last of such disgraceful episodes. In fact, I wetted the bed until I was about 17 years of age. My salvation came supernaturally (a story for another day).

"...So, I will give you some mmedication for the urinary tract infection and I will prescribe a pelvic exercise which I expect should take care of the weak muscles around your pelvic and anal region." I did get better. The exercises were also no longer necessary. The doctor couldn't understand when in a few days, I returned to the hospital and informed him that all the symptoms had cleared and I hadn't even done the exercises. He gave me a blank appointment slip - just in case - but I have not since gone back.

Afterwards, I have often wondered how we crucify a person for an issue that is totally beyond their control. My childhood bedwetting problems contributed to the erosion of my self confidence as a teen and subsequently as an adult. If only we could find out how our words made others feel, perhaps we wouldn't be so quick to condemn.

the seed of distrust

I ran my hand along the dirty floor under my father's bed. It was the second sweep in less that one minute. I had to find the coin. My coin. The money my mother had given me earlier that morning to buy a snack. I had kept it. For a reason I couldn't place at the time, I had preferred to hold on to the coin showing it off to my less fortunate friends in the neighbourhood.

Now, bored and without anything else to do, I had wandered into my father's room holding on to my prized possession. I stood in the middle of the heavily congested room and looked around. Nothing appealed to my interest. So, I sat cross-legged on the bare floor and started to spin the coin. It was while doing this that the coin rolled out of my grasp and underneath the bed.

Becoming anxious that I may not find the coin amidst the boxes and bags kept under the bed, I decided to bring out the items one by one. It was a wooden bed with a firm mattress but the bed was high enough to accommodate my seven-yr-old head. Adjusting my eyes to the semi-darkness, the first thing I saw was my 'kolo'(local piggy bank). I smiled. I knew I had more than five times the coin's worth in the 'kolo'. Guests to our home often gave us cash as gifts. My father had ensured that none of it was spent. Every kobo went to him who in turn 'saved' it in the 'kolo' before our eyes. "Make sure you record what you've saved", he always bellowed.

Suddenly, I felt an overwhelming surge of curiosity. How much did I have in there? My search for the lost coin was momentarily forgotten. I wanted to shake the 'kolo'and hear the sound of the moneys against the wooden box. I couldn't hold back the desire. I reached for the 'kolo' and drew it out into the light. What I saw has remained with me since then. Not the 'kolo'. Something about it. Something that was to form the basis of many decisions later on in my life. The plywood cover of my 'kolo'had been forcefully torn from the body revealing a gaping hole. Fearing the worst, I looked inside. The money was gone.

Till date, I haven't the precise words to describe how my young soul felt. Shell shocked. Crushed. Betrayed. Sorely pained. Wordlessly, I returned the'kolo' to its place. I got up, cleaned my dirty knees and hands and left the room. It wasn't until more than one hour later that I realized I still didn't have the lost coin. It didn't matter. What I had discovered was wounding enough and thus began the first seeds of distrust in my young mind.