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Category Archives: Life Lessons

Lessons I have learned from my experiences and others’.

We’ve moved to our Dream Home!

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Come hang out at:
www.pawpawandmango.com
There’s room for you. ūüėÄ

Good enough!

My new year resolutions for 2014 can be distilled into one buzz word, authenticity.

Not that I have gone out of my way to be pretentious or fake, but after some reflection in the last few months of 2013, I realised and faced up to the fact that there have been times when I haven’t been entirely comfortable with who I am. I love myself to bits- I don’t want to be anyone else, I don’t wish I was Michelle Obama, but still I noticed that I have struggled to be myself in certain situations, especially when outside my comfort zone.

Case in point the new blog issue. I wanted to start a new blog that would appeal to my clients, none of whom I live like or look nothing like. So I struggled with a blog name and content. The plan was to write as this personality that fit in with the quintessential Brit. A lady who lunches. I was to visit places and appreciate the sort of art I normally don’t care for, then write about it (in a genteel tone) as though it was normal for hubby and the boys to go to Lords Cricket Ground, while I had afternoon teas with the Windsors. Don’t get me wrong I do love the finer things in life and appreciate art and beauty, but your girl wanted to take it to another level so she could fit in.

After struggling for a while I pushed the  idea to the back of my mind. But the comments you kindly share on this blog, the email responses I get from friends and in conversation with my friends, I tend to get two main descriptive phrases that resonate deeply. One of them is being authentic.

I have come to the conclusion that the best personality I can portray is mine. I cannot successfully try to be someone else. The fear of not being accepted in a different social circle is gone, because God made me with a personality that cannot be replicated. So who I am is unique and beautiful as it is, I don’t need to alter me. This is not to say I won’t try to improve on areas that need improving on, I believe in education outside the classroom and life-long learning, and I will still go out to expose the boys to the epicurean lifestyle, but I will do so while remaining authentic. I love my name and totally love my skin colour and I’m comfortable in it.

I have also come to the conclusion that excellence can only be achieved when you’re being yourself. Because that’s what you were pre-wired to be. Imagine a car trying to be a boat? Or an apple hoping to taste like an orange? You get the picture!

Here’s wishing you a wonderful 2014, filled with the confidence to be you! Thank you so much for being in my life and sharing my journey with me!

I’d love to hear your buzz word for 2014.

PS:

On the blog note, I have decided to step out and create a separate page on the business blog, complete with my photograph and sharing my life and loves, the real one, not the imagined one, it’s a big step for me and I’m VERY excited!

Operating Manual of Number 4

”I can’t wait to meet #4” He is so cute!!

I write a lot about #4 because, well I figure that by the time he’s old enough to read my blog the world would have moved on from blogging to another oddly-named fetish, yooking- or some other term- unintelligibly sounding, yet life changing on a global scale. It’s not like we knew twittering would ever become a verb used by humans.

I feel sorry for those who have expressed innocent interest in wanting to meet #4. Like Kemi- formerly justjoxy’s friend but now mine. She kindly invited us to her daughter’s birthday party and ended her invitation with; ”I can’t wait to meet #4”.

Let this be a quiet, but sound warning to all who wish to meet him.

1) He would not ‘greet’ properly. It’s not like I haven’t tried with him. Now he says ”Good afternoon, evening” but he doesn’t look up when he does. Unlike Tolu’s boys. Those boys can greeeet!!!

2) He hates being woken up every morning. He rants and raves about how his day has been ‘ruined’ by the one who woke him up. ” You have ruined my day”. ”Now my day is spoiled”. One day I picked him up after school and he asked; ”anything fun after school today mum?” He looked so hopeful, his deer-like eyes staring expectantly at my hardened ones. I replied with a steeliness that matched my eyes; ”no, we’re going home”. His response? Flaps arms about in frustration and says; ”you ruined my day in the morning, in the middle it was fine, and now you ruined it again at the end”. I had to call a friend to share this episode, it was too much for me to handle on my own

3) He believes blood comes from the devil. Because it hurts when he bleeds. Our most recent conversation on blood went something like this;

”What happens to Batman’s blood when he gets cut with the silver thing and he doesn’t bleed? Mum, why did God make blood then? How do you make silver? Like batman’s silver? How do you make gold? I know, you make lellow (yellow) dark and it becomes gold”. As you can see it wasn’t a conversation as such, I could barely get a word in. Okay truth be told, I had no answers for the child.

4) He is incredibly good with words. ¬†A little wordsmyth he is. He makes up words too like putted. ”I putted it in the kitchen”. And inexpection. All my friends play football, inexpection of George. He likes Tennis”.

5) He wants another brother. Three is apparently not enough and his mother is clearly a child making machine. A Factory.

6) He is irresistibly cute and knows it. Be prepared to be extra affectionate with him. Bear in mind that giving affection to him will not result in you getting any back- in fact you wont even get an acknowledgement. To be completely honest your affectionate moves will be met with deep frowning and resistance. Ignore it all. That’s just how the child chooses to show love.

7) He loves his teacher. This one is quite annoying- and I can feel myself getting rather annoyed as I type this. He honours his teacher’s words above mine. If I tell him to do his homework on lined paper for instance, my request will be met with first an incredulous glance, then a condescending look as he shakes his big head stating the words; ”that’s not how you do it mama, my teacher said…”

I was going to carry on but don’t want to ruin any chances of actual adoption of this child. Unlike #3 who has so won the hearts of the Family *Smith, they literally beg to take him home constantly. Like here. We have been known to forget him with them and I am now certain the reason they bought a larger car was for #3. And that one knows how to charm the socks off them. When we pick him up he walks out with words of praise bathing him; ”He is incredibly polite, he is so sweet”. ¬†”He loves the baby”. ”The dogs just love him”.

Today is going to be a good day, I can just feel it. I might even come back and add another post that’s been brewing!

Have a lovely Sunday and thank you for reading.

May I shamelessly beg that you add a comment in the box below? It helps me to breathe easy ūüôā

Daddy.

When I grow up I want to be like my daddy. My daddy is the best father in the world. He has always been dependable. I remember as a child one evening while he was going out, I felt the need to say something more than just “Bye dad” so I said; “daddy buy me a book” and he did. I didn’t really want a book, it was a flippant request, more like an afterthought. That book became my favorite book for years. I don’t remember the title but it was a book with two stories, that was my introduction to stories with a twist at the end. I cannot even remember what it was about only that I read it over and over and over without ever getting bored.

Another time daddy had planned a surprise birthday party for mummy. It was at a banquet hall and all day there was a lot of ferrying of food from the house to the hall. On the final trip as daddy as leaving for the party, I hid in the back of the car. I could have made it all the way to the party but I announced my presence just as he pulled out of the gates. Daddy found it hilarious! He said; “if you were dressed properly I would have taken you”. He didn’t yell at me for slowing him down or making him turn around to take me back home. That’s my daddy.

He also has the greatest amount of confidence in me, he is absolutely certain that I can be anything I want to be in life, I believe him. ¬†He allowed me to browse through his gory medical books, while mummy tried to stop me as she felt it was too much for a little girl to see pictures of abscesses and strange diseases. The skin ailments fascinated me the most. To think that a human skin could mutate into a mass of puss-filled rash always left me in wonderment. The stomach ulcers and the tumours on organs didn’t hold my fancy for that long, I guess because I didn’t see the inside of the human body regularly so there was nothing to compare it with, but the skin I did. There was one series of pictures that had the stages of an appendix from initial stage to it being burst. Fascinating!

Sorry, I got carried away there.

Daddy used to tell his friends that his only daughter would win the Miss world contest. He said it so often and with such conviction that I accepted¬†my fate. Mummy on the other hand frowned at such¬†suggestions. She didn’t appreciate the thought of her daughter strolling up and down some stage for men to look at. Lai-lai!

My daddy is very accomplished. He retired in his forties to do his own thing, when asked why, he replied that he had reached the pinnacle of his career and had to move in a different direction in order to keep growing. This is true- see post on alligator here

Can you see why I want to be like my daddy?

Did I mention it’s his birthday today? Please wish him a happy birthday, you should see him. He looks 20¬†years younger than he actually is. Happy birthday daddy, I love you!

Have a lovely day and thanks for reading ūüôā

Something New!

Today has been a good day. Not as productive as I would have wanted but still, productive enough. I feel the need to tell you about Chet.

I decided to bring my Linkedin account out of hibernation and make some connections and was pleasantly surprised to find Chet- who used to be our delivery guy in Atlanta- now living in Turkey running a bar and grill! This might not mean anything to you but Chet used to run his highly efficient delivery company in Georgia. He started off with a small van, doing deliveries for small furniture businesses and later got a second Van. Before we knew it he had more than a handful of employees and a couple of trucks. He did deliveries for small businesses like ours and assembled the furniture too. No one else did anything close without charging hundreds for the same task, plus insurance, plus fuel surcharge, plus state and city tax- you get the picture. He was living the American dream and even ran the business peacefully with his ex-wife and current girlfriend working side by side. Then the recession hit in 2008 and he was affected. He closed shop and moved far, far away to Turkey. Why Turkey, I am yet to find out. I had assumed he was Latino, maybe I was wrong.

Now the reason I have brought this up is to point out his ability to bounce back along with the guts to try something not even closely related to what he had done before. I mean if you build a successful business, chances are that you can do it again right? Especially since you know the market well enough. You have contacts, clients, knowledge and skill. Chet also had the confidence that is absent in many new business owners. He could easily have had a been there, done that attitude. But he tried something new.

Is there something new you should be doing? Did you try something you really wanted to succeed in and it failed, or it just didn’t happen? Take a step of faith. God has endowed us all with gifts and talents galore, you don’t have to get stuck doing the one thing you know how to, don’t be a headbanger! I look forward to chatting with Chet so I can ask him if he is enjoying his new gig. My guess is, he is.

Thank you for reading, do come back.

What I’ve Learned For Sure

I am so excited! 2010 is drawing to a close and I am here to witness it. I started to write this post about 2 weeks ago when fear gripped me, what if you don’t make it? Kia kia I put down the laptop and said “Abeg, I no do, let the year end then I’ll write”. Thankfully the Lord reminded me that premature death is not his plan for His creation, and that my future is in His hands. So here I am!

The start of a new year has got to be my favorite time of the year. I look back on the past year and reflect on it. This year, however is very different. I am genuinely pleased that we are in the last week of 2010. This time last year I couldn’t wait to get into the new year. My attitude was more of hope, hope that the new year held better things than the previous. I was eager to say goodbye to the year as it had been a challenging one.

It is not the same today. I am excited because I still have a few days to finish up unfinished projects. I want to finish strong and start next year right. I usually write out resolutions and goals. My goals are the same, but my resolutions have altered. This time I actually have a working strategy.

What I have learned for sure:

That the challenges that¬† I encountered were not meant to trip me up, but to make me stronger. Instead of being afraid when trials come, I have learned to embrace them and look for the lessons in them. Sometimes the lessons are obvious like the consequence of not being careful or exercising poor judgment as a result of not educating myself prior to making a decision. Other times the lessons are subtle, like the Lord teaching and training me to rely on him and put my confidence in him. I also learned to embrace and accept my weaknesses, mistakes and failures. My weaknesses are a part of who I am. I was created with those weaknesses so really I have nothing to be ashamed of. God is made strong n my weaknesses. I have friends who support me in particular areas. For example I wasn’t born organized but I have two amazing friends, Tola and Tiwana who are natural-born organizers. I remember once when Tola visited me at the store, she got to work and sorted absolutely everything out- dishevelled desk, files, and even invoicing without having any knowledge of the business. Tiwana and I stayed at the same hotel once and I of course was unpacked and unprepared for my early morning flight the next day. When I don’t get enough sleep I generally can’t get anything done, let alone sort out suitcases. She got in there and packed all our suitcases in no time and without breaking any sweat. It was like the fairy godmother of cleaning sprinkled some magic dust in my hotel room!

I have learned gratitude.¬† I used to wait for great things to happen before being thankful. Now I know that there are at least 206 bones to thank God for daily, 2 lungs, one heart, a brain, and then there are the body functions. I sleep and I awake- daily. I eat and enjoy my food. I can speak, I can hear, I have a functioning sense of taste, need I go on? Then there are relationships. My husband and sons, my parents, brothers, in-laws, cousins, friends, Facebook. Lets not forget work. I have an income. I work in an area I am gifted in so work always feels like play. I look forward to Monday mornings I don’t dread it.¬† There is also God. I actually have a relationship with the one who created me. Not only do I speak to Him, He actually loves my company. I once worked at McDonald’s and didn’t even know the regional manager. But I know the one who created him. I start and end my day now with 10 things I am grateful for and that keeps my eyes of the things that I want but don’t yet have.

I am glad that for the first time ever, I look back on the year without any regrets whatsoever. Yes there cringe-worthy moments I won’t forget ever like when I messed up an order with a VIP client, or when I wasted my time on unproductive activities, but I have no regrets because I can now guard against them and won’t be making many of those mistakes again.

Death. We lost a loved one this year. I learned that death is certain, sometimes it happens prematurely sometimes not. It is always so sad when a young person dies but in our case we take solace in the fact that he is in heaven.  He really is with the Lord and we are thankful that God made a way for mankind not to die an eternal death. I have learned that it is far better to live and die in Christ than to live for yourself- or anyone else for that matter.

I challenge you to make a list of the things you are thankful for that happened this year, the lessons you learned, the lessons you don’t want to re-learn and close the door on the past and move forward with joy and expectation into the new year!

Happy New Year!

My Driving Test

Maya Angelou said you can tell a lot about a person by the way they handle these three things; a rainy day, lost luggage and tangled Christmas tree lights. I’d have to add a fourth: Failing your driving test.

¬†I couldn’t wait to drive. At 18 I didn’t care about the test, just the ability to drive. I wanted my own car so badly; I bought my first Micra with my student’s loan. Back then the only person who had a car¬†in our clique was Alex, a red Nissan which he named Betsy- don’t ask.

My brown Micra was faithful, and I loved it. The plan was to practice until I was ready for my driving test. I had been driving for a few months when I did my first test. It was in Colindale, I can’t remember what the major fault was but I failed woefully. I remember crying and taking it so personally, and later basking in the words of comfort my dear cousins offered as they assured me that those driving instructors were wicked people. That they had a quota to fill and once they had reached their number, no one else passed. So I figured it would be best to take the next test in January, way before their ‚Äúlimit” was reached.¬†Only heaven knows where I got the information that their quota fiscal year started in January.

Come January and I booked my test in Burnt Oak. Not far from that hateful Colindale where they chose to “fail me” on my first test. By this time I was not just a driver but had become Speedy Gonzales. I loved to do mean manoeuvres and was very confident behind the wheel.¬†I was warned by well wishers not to use my car for the test as the instructor would fail me on the presumption that I had been driving without a licence. So I hired a new Micra for the test. Now in the UK most cars (at least in the ’90s) were manual (stick) cars.¬†In order to move you need to find the bite point. This bite point differs for each car.¬†¬†I also had¬†become friends with a group¬†of guys who loved to bend every rule for the sake of it and one of them thought me how to avoid the whole bite point shenanigans by putting the car in 1st gear,¬†and then starting the engine¬†to avoid stalling. It worked always.¬†And no, I didn‚Äôt have the sense to leave that lesson out¬†of my driving test so I failed again. I¬†actually¬†failed as I was driving out of the test center.¬† But the man kept quiet and still kept instructing me to turn left, turn right. Can you imagine? I turned to him and said

“What‚Äôs the point?”

“Sorry?”

“I have failed. I see a big X on the paper, what’s the point in carrying on?”

“I am not at liberty to discuss this madam”

“In that case, (I pulled over) please get out of my car.”

“By law, I¬†cannot leave you with the car, I must accompany you back to the test centre if you do not wish to carry on with your test”. He looked and sounded like a¬†robot.

I protested, but he won, allowing me the final humiliation of being the first candidate to arrive back at the centre with a yellow slip. He tried to give me advice as we drove in but I waved him off, puleeze, just get out, thank you!

Thankfully my fans were waiting. Phone calls came in assuring me that it wasn’t my fault. That Burnt Oak centre was notoriously racist. That it was in fact my fault for not asking them first as they would have told me to stay well away from there.

So test number 3 was held somewhere in South London. The instructor was Scottish. I feigned excitement and asked what part of Scotland he was from. He mentioned an obscure village I’d never even heard of. My response was even more enthusiastic as I shared that I was in fact born in Edinburgh. I did a quick mental scan of my birth certificate and recollected my parents address at the time. “We lived in Currie”, I offered. Like I even had any memories of the place. I don’t think it was my Scottish roots that made me pass. Rather I think I had finally faced the fact that I wasn’t a perfect driver. Being an avid go-karter and a fearless driver on the streets of London did not qualify me to pass the UK driving test.

I have since learned to deal with disappointments a lot better. I see every disappointment as a tool used to mature and strengthen me. I also have more respect for laws. “It’s the law“, doesn’t annoy me so much anymore!

Thanks for reading, do come back.

Letting go…

If I run into you or speak with you anytime between now and the next ooh-¬†let’s say 6 weeks, chances are I will ask if you have any goals for the New Year. Its funny how¬†very often a lot of folks tell me they don’t believe in resolutions; they tend to get broken anyway. Some say why wait until the new year to make changes in your life? It’s just a hype, they would rather live it in the hands of God anyway. No doubt there are others still who believe any reference to the calendar year is all a big conspiracy by the government to control their life.

I have a ritual I perform annually about this time. This is the sweeping away of the old and behold the slate has become new event. It is when I gleefully look at my list of yet-to-be dones, label each with a new name and then put it on my to-do list for the¬†next year. It’s also the only time that I don’t groan while looking at my list of still-to-dos. This year a wise friend has told me to let go. If it didn’t get done, does it still need to be done? Or can¬†I simply cross it out and move on? Today is my letting-go day. I will be giving up several goals which have morphed into fantasies.

  • Doing laundry on Tuesdays and Fridays. I’m not a robot, I’ll do the laundry when it needs to be done.
  • Have a flat tummy by the end on 2009- it ain’t gonna happen in 6 days Toks.
  • Have all my paperwork organised by the end of the year. Ha!

There’s more that I will not be carrying-over into next year, but I will be setting some realistic goals. Not ten or twenty but about three to five that will improve the quality of my life. After all it’s just one life right? Merry Christmas and a happy new year y’all!

Death’s Sting

Jim Rohn passed away on Saturday.¬†I didn’t know the man personally, I never met him but I would recognize his voice if I heard him speak because¬†¬†I listen to him regularly thanks to my small collection of audio CDs. Jim was a motivational speaker, successful entrepreneur, author, philosopher etc. He was funny and witty and genuinely wanted to touch people’s lives by constantly staring them toward success, and he did. I think he knew Christ but I’m not certain, I hope so.
I guess that’s what started to bother me. He lived a full life and died at 79. He impacted millions of people’s lives. As at last night there were nearly 4,000 names on his tribute page- that’s a lot in three days!

The last time a death¬†disturbed me was Michael Jackson’s. And the time before that was a former schoolmate’s that I hadn’t seen in over 20 years. Unlike many of my school friends, Jide wasn’t one of those I got reunited with. As a matter of fact I never actually thought of him at all, there was no real reason to. But when I heard that he passed away suddenly I was perturbed to say the least. It bothered me because I knew he wasn’t the most popular kid in school, so of course I started to wonder what life as an adult was like for him. You may already¬†know about my hyperactive imagination. Armed with memories of over 20 years ago I began to carve out Jide’s life for him- it was a sad one too, not that I wanted it to be but that was how my mind chose to weave his story. The story carried on from how¬†unhappy he was¬†that he wasn’t the coolest kid with the coolest nickname. Do bear in mind that the boy never told me this, it is all the workings of an animated psyche. For all I know he could have been the happiest kid around! Then I began to feel really guilty that he had this unhappy life. I felt bad when I learned that he even lived in the same city as I did for years. It got worse¬†as I faced up to the fact that if I had found out that we lived near each other I probably wouldn’t have bothered to visit him. But all was forgotten when I was told he knew the Lord! I was also assured that he had no lack of friends.

Here’s my conclusion:¬†No¬†matter how full or how empty one’s life turns out to be, what¬†is truly lasting¬†is the positive¬†impact you make on others’. To have 4000 mourn you in a couple of days¬†is no small feat especially without being a rock star. And no matter what impact you make on their lives, there is no impact greater than staring others in the direction of Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God. In the same vein our knowledge of Christ should lead us to have fulfilled lives so that if we do die empty,¬† it will be because we gave away so much and not because we had Christ lacking. I pray that you live long and full and die empty.

www.punkinpatch.co.uk

www.punkin-patch.com

My Well Kept Secret.

One thing you probably didn’t know about me is that I can play the piano beautifully. Every note is flawlessly played, and I am able to compose music too. I have been told by several musicians¬† (whom I respect very much) that I have a good ear for music. I haven’t thought as far as writing songs yet but I’m pretty sure if I penned a song it would top the charts.¬†Learning how to play the piano¬†and other dreams lie buried within me. Occasionally they toss and turn, like they are about to awake, but then I hastily pat them back to sleep again.

At other times¬†the sleep is disturbed¬†when I¬†hang out with others who woke up¬† a while back and are now using their gifts and talents. It is¬†very uncomfortable, staring at the faces of my dreams.¬† I feel like I owe them an explanation. What if I am asked why I didn’t use them?¬† I really don’t have any excuse. Fear?¬† There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out all fear. Lazyness? The lazy man says there is a lion in the streets. Procrastination? Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might. Not good enough? I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. ¬†Too busy? Martha’s story- Luke 10:38-40.

So today I give you an early invitation to my award night- seriously, my¬†40th Birthday celebration¬†less than 4¬†years from now when I will give you a grand ¬†performance on my baby grand piano. I must remember to invite those musicians who first told me about my ear for music, one of them is¬†my cousin O.T, I haven’t seen him in years. Details to be released soon.

www.punkin-patch.com

www.punkinpatch.co.uk

Why did I do that?

You may have heard the story of the woman who was asked by her daughter why she always trimmed both ends of her joint of ham before she cooked it. Her response was, ” Well, my mother always cooked it that way, ¬†we’ll ask her why”. Grandma’s answer was the same, her mother always cooked it that way too. Luckily great-grandma was still around so they asked her why. Her reason? She didn’t have a pot big enough to cook a whole joint so she had to reduce the size.

A long time ago my cousin told me she didn’t sleep with pillows. That was the weirdest, coolest thing I ever heard. So I started to leave my pillows on the floor, suffering greatly before common sense prevailed.

Another time I noticed a friend wore her wristwatch on her right wrist. Of course by the next day Toks was doing the same.

These days¬†I ask myself why I do the things I do. Sometimes I ask just before, at other times it’s a little too late, but I ask anyhow.¬† Why did I snap so loudly at my son when he was acting up? Was it to promptly correct him or was it to show the other moms that “I don’t take nonsense”?

Why did I accept that friend’s request on Facebook when I don’t care a hoot about them? Was it because ¬†they are friends with the others in my connection/circle or was it because I’d like to¬†rekindle a relationship with them?

Why did I agree¬†to the hairstyle ¬†my stylist suggested? Was it because I didn’t want to say no or because I was willing to try something different?

Why did I ask for that lady’s phone number at church? I know I won’t be calling her anytime soon!

Dear Jesus, I thank you for making me the beautiful woman I am. Help me to accept my imperfections as tools to make me more like you. I love you Jesus and I thank you for making me love me too!

Empty Vessels

I have missed Pawpaw and Mango. It has only been 4 days since I posted but it seems so much longer. In the last four days I have:

Built a website for my dad, dealt with enquiries and orders¬†from Greece, the UK and the States, went through the bureaucracy of the British customs agency and all their fees and forms for importing goods, begged a friend to come around and work for peanuts, “returned” the kids back to school and had a killer migraine.¬† Writing pawpawandmango has revealed to your’s truly, the things that matter to her. Food and comfort. I make a lot of reference to food and I hate discomfort. Hence my previous whinge about my sore throat and my upcoming one about migraines.

I had a migraine. I can ususally smell this from afar and have reinforcements ready and waiting before it hits. This time was no different, only it lasted four days. On the evening of day¬†three I went in search of a late night¬†pharmacy for some real medication. Not the Mickey Mouse¬†stuff like Paracetamol, Ibuprofen et cetera, but something with some strength. After selecting my drug of choice, the pharmacist suggested I try Imigran. I was made to fill out a questionnaire and I started to get really excited about this super-duper drug. Especially when the till came up with ¬£8 ($14). It better start to work before I even open up the pack. Imagine my horror when I found out it ony had 2 tablets in it? I nearly drove back with the intention of ramming my car through the glass window of that nice smelling pharmacy. This Imigran had better start¬†working before it gets to my throat; I thought as I gulped down my Tango. My drive back home was peaceful and serene as I listened to an audio book by one of my favorite authors- Valorie Burton.¬† I wondered what was going on behind the walls of the homes I drove past. I thought of happy and sad relationships, tasty meals and burnt dinners, children who were being abused and those who were having¬†a childhood that the other group could only dream about. This drug better kick in or else I’ll kick someone’s behind! My thoughts turned to my dear friend JK who recently started blogging. She insists it has something to do with me, I’m not so sure. My thoughts¬†go to her because she recently put up a post about Scrabble. And I’m thinking of Scrabble because it was a¬†major part of my childhood. I am blessed to have had a happy one.¬† Jk is talented, a naturaly gifted¬†writer and I hope she knows it.¬† Just as soon as she gives me the go ahead¬†and teaches me how to do the blogroll thingy, I’ll direct you to her blog!¬† The pharmacist said not to use Imigran and the other painkiller together. What he should have said is; “don’t use Imigran. GlaxoSmithkline however accepts your donation of ¬£8, with thanks”.¬† After all the filling of forms and dancing through the hoops, it was all for nothing. They say empty vessels make the most noise. Nuff said. Thankfully my headaches have ceased and I’m back to normal. But I ain’t sharing that info with hubby as I risk losing the pampering, or as Valorie would say pamperizing! Thanks as always for reading.

Life, Actually

The common cold. It sure ain’t common to me, especially as it knocked me for 6 yesterday. You may have read an earlier post where I chronicled my pet peeves. Sore throat I think was number 3 on the list. It is a simple ailment that everyone gets from time to time, but when Toks gets it, it is no longer so simple. It affects my mood. It affects my energy levels. It keeps me irritated. It ensures I look only to self, thinking that self is going through the ringers, all for a sore throat. I want to stop ALL activity, hide under the covers and place myself on propofol (tasteless I know, couldn’t resist).

It is the same way with a pebble in your shoe. You have a head (hopefully just one), shoulders, arms, knees, feet and everything else. Yet one pebble touching just one of your ten toes on one of your two feet, which is one of your many body parts can cause you to stop your journey, sit down and work at dislodging that pebble.

A similar scenario is this journey called life. An annoying pebble finds it’s way into our grand big plans and throws us off course, causing us to sit still and take the time to make the journey less tedious. Sadly by the time the pebble is removed, we’ve missed the bus of opportunity. We catch another one but it takes us somewhere else, not to our dream destination but an alternative- one that “will do”. Some even forfeit the journey altogether¬†and go back home, to the job they hate or the relationships that hinder.

Meanwhile there are those other travellers who are just like us  but in unlike some of us they have no shoes and are used to walking on, in and around pebbles. Every step they take is bound to be taken on pebbles. Yet they keep going because they know they will get there and they also want to, at any cost. And they arrive at their desired destination reaping the rewards that come with persistence and hardwork.

Can you ignore the pebble in your shoe today? It will not kill you. I ignored my sore throat for what might possibly be the first time in my life yesterday because I am self-employed and can’t afford to take time off work. I actually survived the day, surprise, surprise! Yesterday came and went, I worked through it all and today I am fine. I shall not spend the evening even thinking about buses I’ve missed. Thank God for countless second chances in Christ.

What’s your pebble?

Success at any cost?

I work very hard on the business, not because I want it to generate an income, rather I want it to be hugely successful.

A while ago the boys and I visited my cousin who had just flown into London from Chicago. While we chit-chatted with his host -a really nice man, the said host suddenly appeared on TV. He was being interviewed, something that regularly occurs because of the nature of his job. I pointed him out to the boys, It was hilarious the way their big eyes darted first to the T.V and then back at the man, over and over again, mouths wide open as they peered to make sure it realy was him. Perhaps they didn’t believe me. Perhaps they wondered how he could be in their midst, in a house and at the same time on the T.V?

This man is a human rights activist so needless to say our conversation turned to the “plight” in Gambia. First of all I didn’t even know Gambia had a “plight” I tried hard to feign interest while all I really cared about was getting PP on TV. “How, oh how do I bring up my concerns about exposure of my business purely for profit making while we discussed the exposure of the atrocious Gambian president- without branding myself as insensitive?”

I left really pleased about my education on Gambia, Nigeria and other African countries and what Amnesty international is doing to help. I left considering my own selfishness in my own little world and how we all have a part to play in assisting the other man or woman beside us. I was also glad that my quest for success had not yet seared any feelings of benevolence and that it was not too late to start.

Lord I thank you for the many gifts that you have placed within me. I pray that I use them selflessly to glorify you and to bless the people around me, for the gifts are not mine to keep, but to pass on. Amen.

The Lady, Du Pain & The Perfect French Manicure

So there I sat on the Eurostar excited about my very short break away from normal life. The last time I was in Paris was on my first wedding anniversary. Hubby and I were so shocked and disappointed that everything was actually in French. The knowledge that they are French people did nothing to soothe us as we listened to the 60th re-run of CNN in our hotel room- the only TV channel in English. It annoyed us to see blockbuster Hollywood movies voiced-over in French. How dare they? Eventually common sense reigned and we agreed to enjoy our holiday so we did. Lots of french bread (du pain), ham and cheese, but we did.

Fast forward 12 years and I wasn’t too keen on the sights, I just wanted to see my friend whom I hadn’t seen in 2 years and enjoy my VERY MUCH needed break. Alone. Deciding I would need a dictionary, I wondered why Costa Coffee didn’t sell them, it was the only shop without a queue. I ignored the fact that the French customs sign at St Pancras Station in London was written in French first and then English. I even pretended not to notice that the announcements in the train were in French and then translated into French-English. What I could not deal with was the newsagents who had a section for foreign publications, aka English. That was way too much to bear. All was forgotten though¬†when I checked into my hotel, kindly assisted by Ganiyu, the cheerful Nigerian who spoke Yoruba (yo-hu-ba) with a French accent.

I had asked for a single bed- when they said single bed, it meant single-side-of-your body only. But it was my room and mine alone. It was blissful, clean and smelt nice. All TV channels were in French without the luxury of CNN this time. But it was fine. I had an attitude as I went for a walk to the market and in search of MacDonalds, wondering why I felt so superior to the French that I was unprepared to sample their cuisine. For some reason I didn’t even try to speak the language, I couldn’t be bothered and had a strange feeling they should concede to me. I guess it was my irritation at the bewildered look on their faces when I asked where the nearest MacDonalds was. It’s no wonder they are not fond of the Brits. Or the Americans.
At the nail bar the entire pricelist was in French. Surely a French Mani/Pedicure cannot be that pricey, they are the originators. Wrong! these folks charged me 67 Euros! That’s $95 dollars y’all. When she told me the price I quietly prayed she meant 16 Euros. My prayer was ansered, answer- “No, it is 67 Euros!” The mani/pedicure was PERFECT.

On my way back to the hotel I decided against listening to music so I could soak in the sounds, scenes and culture of Paris. I enjoyed doing so. It felt surreal that I was in another country, surrounded by strangers yet was so peaceful and filled with joy. I thought it’d be nice to have some French food for dinner after deciding there may be French word for Chinese which I didn’t know. On my way to the French restaurant, the smell of something familiar wafted up my nostrils. Minutes later I was in the hotel room, watching a movie on my phone and eating the best kebabs ever, served by the friendliest Turkish guys… oh well, French cuisine will have to wait!
And then Shade and I met up, but that’s another story ūüôā

Joy

I don’t say this to brag but I have been filled to overflowing with the Joy of the Lord. This is a very different kind of joy to what I’ve always known it to be. This joy is alive, it rejuvenates me, causes me to laugh and cry for no apparent reason. Plus I am peaceful too. I first experienced this mind-blowing joy about 10 months ago when I read a little book titled “From Prison to Praise” by Merlin Carothers. I read it when I was going through a very difficult time in my life. The only thing worse than having the hardest trial is going through it without knowing if God is even aware that you exist, let alone there to hear you when you call. That’s where I was, difficulty along with the absence of Christ. Yes I was going to church and praying daily but did not feel his presence. What I took away from that simple, small book was that the word of God says rejoice in all things, so we should-all things. I started to learn to simply believe God’s word even if it did not line up with my current circumstance. The Lord does not need our situation to validate the authenticity of His word. His word is what it is. Period.

So I believed God’s word. If the word said I am blessed and there was nill evidence of blessing in my life, I chose to believe his word rather than what I could see or feel. I am learning to walk and live by faith, what his word says is true, and there’s no other proof He has given, so we just trust him. My testimony is looooooooong, but I love to share it so PM me if you want to hear it!

But there was a problem, this new joy was intermittent, and I noticed a pattern. When I take my eyes of God, panic sets in, stealing my joy. If I miss a period of prayer, the joy slowly ebbs away. Not because prayer is the currency of God’s joy, -there is no currency- but because in His presence is the entirety, the fullness of this joy. It goes without saying then that if you leave His presence, you’ll be leaving that joy behind.
Many times I attempt to replace the joy and peace of God with temporal things, but it all fades away after the novelty of the source has worn off- the new car, new home, shopping spree, etc. Jesus on the other hand never wanes, He is constant. The other thing I noticed was that my situation didn’t change yet I was filled to overflowing with joy. Then I started to change. God allows a trial to shape and mold you- painful but the finished product is beautiful. I love the new Toks!

Jesus, I pray you will deliver us from questioning your word and our situations. Help us to simply trust you and follow your leading. You came that we may have life abundantly here on earth before we go into eternity. Make your word true, unquestionable and infallible in our lives, amen.

Thank you very much Lord.

A little while ago I thought to myself what a blessing it would be to have a people-in-business think-tank. Small business owners cannot always afford the luxuries of having key professionals in place. Experts that will no doubt propel your business forward while building you up. An SEO expert, Tight-Wad Accountant, Knowlegeable Legal Team, The Talented Copywriter, Organised Administration, Red Hot PR, The Big Marketing Firm, etc. I don’t remember praying about it but I thought about it. A few of us getting together to share our knowledge without the price tag would be of tremendous help to each of us- A few days later I got a phonecall from a dear friend, she wanted a date to meet up with another friend in business. In a nutshell, our little think-tank was born.
Years ago, I was lamenting to a friend that I hated wearing glasses. At the time laser surgery was probably still a concept in someone, somewhere’s mind. He said; “do you believe God can heal your eyes?” My evasive answer, “er…yes”. That was it. Maybe he prayed for me, maybe he didn’t but the reading on my eyes began to improve. The word says delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. God gave me the desires of my heart without my praying for them. I just desired, and He granted. This warms my heart so much, the knowledge that the Lord loves me the way He does. And to add to that, He lets me know daily. Like the day asked the Lord for direction with PP. I was spreading myself thin and every task was as equally important as the next so the word priority was useless to me. I got a call from an organisation appointed by the government to give help to small businesses- for free! Or the other time when I prayed and asked the Lord to help me get organised. I did not inherit mum or dad’s organisational skills, LOL! I was overwhelmed with work and ideas and about to purchase my 6th notebook, I think that was the “marketing ideas” notebook. And the Lord promptly blessed me with a filofax.

Lord I thank you so much for loving me the way you do. I thank you that I never have to worry about my needs being met, ever, you are always faithful to deliver. So today I sit back and watch expectantly as you make my life so beautiful that it becomes a song of praise to you.

The Greatest Salesmen in the World…

I am convinced are media sales people. Do they go to school to do that laugh-and-talk thing they all do so well? I remember the lovely one in the states that promptly showed up every 4 weeks to take me to the hottest spots in town. We’re talking Buckhead Dinner’s Key lime pie, Houston’s Hawaiian Steak and Justin’s P Diddy’s Fried Shrimp.
The ones here in the UK haven’t started to treat me, perhaps because I don’t take out ads that matter. So far I have been threatened as I ‘verbally signed a verbal contract‘?? A full or half page regularly at the rate of $15,000 (or $150,000) Yes $150,000 for a full page to advertise in O! magazine will buy you regular meals at the best spots in town (and pay the media folk a very large bonus).
The knowledge that companies pay that much to advertise has made my sky that much clearer- still a distance but I know there are people that actually reach it. Like Mrs Steins in NY who has downgraded to a part time gardener, $40,000 salaried Nanny & even canceled 2 of her 3 country club memberships to help cope with the recession.
Someone said aim for the sky, even if you fall you’ll land among stars. I’d like to add that if you do miss the stars on your way down, you’ll still end up with your head above the clouds. If that fails & you’re lucky enough to be overweight you’ll hit earth with a soft cushy bump.

Lord, I ask you to lead me to the rock that is higher than I. You know I’m not greedy, I don’t ask for much. But I’m not wasteful either Lord so I don’t want to waste the blessings you’ve already given me. I want them all so I can also bless those around me who are waiting. I give you all the praise and I receive your blessings. All of them. Today, amen.

www.punkin-patch.com
www.punkinpath.co.uk

No media sales please, thanks.

Verbal Dyslexia

I get that from time to time but tonight it is because the 9 year old is asking me questions such as “What happens if I drink food colouring?” , “Have you heard of a banana slug mum? What would you do if you saw one?” Did you know that snails are not slimy, they are slippery and slugs are slimy? He is telling me such interesting facts like the breathing hole of slugs, what DNA stands for, etc.
While this is going on, the 6 year old is going on about the plane he’ll be building. He has changed his mind, it will now hold just 4 people. Himself, his best friends Daniel and Kiki and spidy- the 16 month old teddy who never wears his spiderman outfit.
Lets not forget the baby saying “wap-wap, wap-wap”. If you have not figured, that is baby-speak for Wrapper- I want to get on your back. The 8 year old is quiet. That’s never good. Especially as he’s just got a new experiment kit, he’ll take things beyond the kit.

So with all of this going on simultaneously, how would I not have verbal dyslexia? I am somehow supposed to respond to each child articulately at the end of their questions or comments instantly, and without being partial. As usual I have about 4, no 6 thoughts unrelated yet by default going on in my head that need to be sorted out and acted upon. We haven’t even talked about the mutating laundry basket, I swear I saw it’s new arms move.
The Lord is indeed my strength, I’m still smiling and i’m genuinely happy.

Why My Rice is Never Soft

Today’s dinner was Jollof Rice, Turkey, Fried plantains, Coleslaw/Potato salad and a glass of coke. I tend to cook my rice just done, not soft. I like the grains separated and chewy, not sticky and …whatever the word is- you know what I mean. I wasn’t raised on chewy rice. On the contrary mum’s rice is quite nice and soft.
It all started in boarding house when Toyin and I went with Mariam to visit her mum. Mariam’s mum made this yummy jollof rice with carrots, all separated. Each grain of rice was coated in its own sauce, same as the carrot pieces. So if you’ve ever eaten at my home and wondered if I simply couldn’t cook plain old rice, be rest assured, I can. It all started years ago when I visited Mariam’s mum…

What turning 30 did for me…

That was 6 short years ago, the effects of which I still enjoy today. My chat with dear friend F (happy 30th!) brought this to the forefront of my mind. I have always loved the end of the year. Mum used to get my brothers and I together to pray into the new year. At the time dad was a socialist- referred to in a newspaper article I read as a child as the marxist, military doctor. So church was out of the question for him, he found it funny when on mum’s insistence we’d invite him to church 3 times a year- easter, christmas and new year’s eve. Anyway mum’s annual new year’s eve prayer amongst many others would be “Lord God, please let 1986 (or whatever year we were in) go with all its bad luck. Let all the bad things that happened this year NEVA, NEVA repeat itself again, AMEN!!!” Amidst the new year’s festivities, riding our bikes, climbing trees etc, she’d shout at us if we were being over exhuberant or naughty and say “IN THE NEW YEAR??? You’re already being naughty??” So the start of the year has always held a major significance for me. I have always seen it as a clean new slate, old things have passed away, all things have become new and don’t stain the new with old, bad habits.

When I turned 30, the same held true for me. I’m an April girl so it was a 2nd opportunity for a new start. I decided to take stock of my life. I’m an adult now, I told myself even though I’d been for all of 9 years- 7 in my parents eyes as I became an adult only when I got married. I looked back at my life and noted the things I loved about me, from my handwriting through my hair to my personality. My handwriting isn’t all that by the way but it is mine- it’s always been with me and I love it! I love my life. I love my friends, I love my family. I absolutely love my childhood and every memory I have. I of course noted the things I wasn’t so fond of. There were a few of them. I tend to procrastinate. I am not confrontational. In fact when I turned 30 I realised I could be quite a pushover- not very attractive. So I made a decision to turn things around. I started saying “no”. Like being in church and the pastor tells you to “write this down” or “underline that scripture”. Half the time I don’t want to because I want to underline what speaks to ME at the time I read it in my quiet time, also I hardly ever go back to read the notes I’ve taken. Then I end up with a stack of notebooks cluttering my bedroom, and feeling guilty if I attempt to throw them away. God showed me that I was free. Free to make my own decisions based on the wisdom He gave me and not based on the opinions of man- not even a man of the cloth.
I have always been an avid reader but at 30 I started to read with purpose. I read books that will bless me and not simply to have another gist for my girlfriends at our next buzz session.

At 36 I still say “no”. I say it gently but firmly. I make decisions based on how it blesses me and mine and the persons involved, not simply to fulfil the status-quo. I get tested everyday. At the hairdresser’s 2 days ago I fought the urge to hold a conversation with my stylist when all I really wanted to do was catch up on my reading. It still feels akward sometimes, the need to make conversations that end up being peppered with pregnant pauses.

I pray I don’t stop being the sweet girl I was while growing up. Cynicism sometimes tries to usurp that sweetness but I have Christ in me.

Dear Lord, I thank you for creating me, just as I am. I love the work you are currently doing in me, making me more like you daily. And Lord I pray where I have lost that gentleness as a result of life simply happening, replace it with your fragrant presence. Lord I also pray that my life will immensely bless all those I come into contact with, in Jesus name Amen

Thanks as always for reading!

Longer Days & Shorter Nights

I try to avoid posting while working but I had to get this off my chest. I had a customer looking to buy a bed. That always makes me happy so of course I am pleased. Then she emailed to say she’ll buy it if I could give her a discount. We have some discounts floating around some sites so I give her a code. Doesn’t she call me back to ask for free delivery because other companies offer that too? About now I was ready to offer her the bed for free and ask the delivery man to smash her head with it once he got there.

The flip side is though if you don’t ask you wont get. And that’s what the bible says, ask and you will receive. So irritated as I am I do admire this lady who couldn’t care less that she might have come across as cheap, and why should she? It’s not like we know each other or I pay her rent. I’ve taken a leaf from her book today and will be sure to ask for a discount even when one is already being offered. The worst that will happen is an irritated call handler on the other end wishing the delivery man would smash my head.

I’ve been going through a lot of asking today- I haven’t been asking (that much), its the boys. Mom can I have a biscuit? Mom can we watch a movie? Mom where are we going today? Mom where are we going tomorrow?
I know they love me so I’ll ignore warning signs that those boys are out to get me. All my plans to let them stay up as late as possible so they get up late the next morning have backfired on me, big time. They stay up late and wake up early so its truly longer days and shorter nights in our home, bless them.

God’s Perfect Knowledge of you…

PSalm 139

1 O LORD, You have searched me and known me.
2 You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
3 You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
4 For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.
5 You have hedged me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high, I cannot attain it.

7 Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
9 If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, ‚ÄúSurely the darkness shall fall[a] on me,‚ÄĚ
Even the night shall be light about me;
12 Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
But the night shines as the day;
The darkness and the light are both alike to You.

13 For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;[b]
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.

17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!
18 If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand;
When I awake, I am still with You.

19 Oh, that You would slay the wicked, O God!
Depart from me, therefore, you bloodthirsty men.
20 For they speak against You wickedly;
Your enemies take Your name in vain.[c]
21 Do I not hate them, O LORD, who hate You?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?
22 I hate them with perfect hatred;
I count them my enemies.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
24 And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.

Naija Flava

Yesterday found me at Heathrow Airport Terminal 2. Dear sis in law and nephew where returning home after a wonderful holiday with us. There was no time to be sad at their departure as much of my time was spent being extra careful not to bump anyone with my runaway trolley. I’m never quite ready to have a barrage of Yoruba rained on me.
We had four very, very large suitcases as we are sworn patriots. As we approached the lift, this man promptly grabbed my little nephew and lifted him up. Words were not needed. He didn’t need permission to help as we struggled with the trolleys, known to have a mind of their own. He didn’t need to ask where we were going, we know ourselves. This man didn’t say much as he led the way to the Bellview check in desk. Truthfully, I really wanted to stay there just to remain in sync but sis was flying with Arik Air so we broke the connection. But it felt nice. It felt nice when I profusely thanked him and he brushed me aside like, there’s no need for thanks, this is how we do. I felt like a floater when I identified thoughts of concern that he might make off with our child. But the native in me was stronger and I “just knew”
I remember feeling like a floater when I went home in April. The general accent of a lot of our people have evolved into a cross between Naija, Yankee and Jand. Everyone has a mobile phone. I didn’t hear a single western artist rapping or singing, it was all homegrown folk. I can’t get the picture of Uche the driver dancing relentlessly to ‘you’re the finest’ out of my mind.¬† See more from my April ’09 trip here.

DISGUSTING!!!

So I pulled into an alley in Catford this afternoon along with my sister-in-law, we went to buy some chicken for mummy. As I parked the car, this well dressed brother walked towards the car, staring right at us. When he pulls out his willy to have a pee. IN FRONT OF US!!!! LOOKING AT US!!! The look was like “so?” This chap did not even cup or shield himself.¬† And he stared at us the whole time too.

He promptly zipped up and walked off.

Why would anyone do that? Hubby dismissed him as a pervert, no biggie, it happens.¬† That’s easy for him, he doesn’t have to battle with images of someone else’s bits and bobs being stuffed into a cheap pair of pinstripe trousers.

I will NEVER,  EVER even accept a flyer from anyone again, ever. I might even start wearing surgical gloves outside my home. And I just thought of a lucrative business idea- fashionable disposable gloves, with patterns and colors.

And now, let the weak say I am strong…

Somebody help me. I am suffering from a complete paralysis of creativity, i.e the ideas are there. The plan is in front of me. I’m even fired up to go onto the next step with my newly acquired accounts. I should be excited, I am. I should be putting my head down and working my butt off, I can’t. And no, there was no red bull today either.
Common sense tells me I need to sit back and re-fuel self. I need to pick up my bible, and let the water of God’s word wash over me so I am refreshed and energised. I just heard my mind say to me, “no Toks, you can’t, you have too much to do”.
The Holy Spirit just replied, “Yes Toks, you can. You make the decisions, it’s your life”
So it ends here. My life being run by circumstances. It’s now the other way, the way God intended it to be. One of my favorite scriptures is “I am come that they may have life, and have it more abundantly” I love and receive the promise of abundant life daily. The promise of a life free from slavery, slavery to self, slavery to circumstances. The promise of a life full of hope and dreams regularly coming true.
Another scripture I love says I walk by faith and not by sight. The Lord (Himself) taught me what that means. Though your eyes can see the exact opposite of what you have prayed for, though you may be weak from ill health, though your account balance shows a negative, don’t walk (make decisions or come to conclusions) by your natural senses (sight, hearing, feeling). Instead walk by faith in His word. Walk in and by God’s promises for your situation- let the weak say I am strong.
I am strong today, real strong. Thank you Jesus!

Ugly Cancer & Ugly Buildings

Don’t be surprised if this post disappears tomorrow. I am so sleepy, my eyes are wide shut.
This morning found us watching the CNN documentary- Black in America 2. It was both enlightening and depressing. The depressing moments were being educated about Triple Negative Breast Cancer. Not only that it affects twice as many black women but that it is so aggressive, difficult to treat and almost certain to return. Why does cancer act like it has an agenda of its own? Why does it act like it has a vendetta against its victims? Perhaps it is a spirit with a mind and plan of its own. If so, it is an ugly one.

The other depressing moment was Chris Shurn’s* swift return to crime. We were all rooting for this chap. Our hopes were high. My understanding is that the sky is indeed the limit for everyone. Sadly not everyone can see the sky. For some the view is obstructed by tall ugly buildings. Buildings like crack and cocaine, the need to impress with flashy cars, guns and girls. For others the view is obscured by poor eyesight or blurry glasses like emotional problems. Hopelessness. A lack of good examples and role models. No good parents. Naturally people will only aspire to how high or far they can see.

Not everyone will find their way out of that jungle, but anyone can with Christ.
Lord I pray for anyone trapped in an emotional or physical prison, that you save and set them free. Thank you Jesus, you came that we might have life, and have it more abundantly.

*Chris Shurn walked out of San Quentin Prison in June after serving four years of hard time for possession of crack cocaine and a weapon charge.  At 21, he entered prison with a fourth-grade education, but left with a GED certificate and was only a few semesters short of earning an associate degree. Shurn had few role models around him as a kid. His father left home before he entered the first grade, his mother was a crack addict and he was surrounded by a lot of violence. The documentary followed him from prison and out, where he could only obtain a very low paying  job. Consequently he was soon back into crime as his girlfriend was now pregnant and also raising her siblings. He found it very hard to survive on his income of $9 per hour. 

Quiet Anxiety

That is what I feel presently. The boys broke up from school today. Its six weeks of being at home with them, six. What didn’t help was the way they rushed in expectantly today screaming, “school’s out mum!” They are so excited. The energy in the house has reached a fevered pitch. The holiday has not even started but I have started to panic, big time. How Lord how do I keep 4, no 5 energetic boys occupied and satisfied for six weeks? Their cousin is visiting with us so it is sometimes good, sometimes bad. Good because their eyes are off me some of the time. Bad because I hate noise.
I have laid down ground rule 1. Do not, I repeat do not touch my laptop.
Baby J has learned how to scream. He screams for everything. Today he screamed because he wanted me out of my swivel chair so he could push it to the kitchen. He screamed at the shops because he wanted to push the trolley and he couldn’t reach the handlebar. Then he screamed when I took him into the ladies fitting room to teach him how to scream with his inside voice. I had a pink blouse for decoy. It was a size 10. I was a size 10 a few years ago.
Prayer:
Dear Lord, you know I am not supermum. I need you to draft a watertight plan that will work for all of us, so that at the end of 6 weeks, I’ll still have my sanity and my children would have grown big and strong, more knowledgable of life and more in love with you Jesus, amen.

Misery loves company…that’s why she hangs out with pessimism

A lot of my favorite quotes are by Winston Churchill, like “Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, give up. Never give up. Never give up. Never give up.” and “The pessimist sees the problems in every opportunity. Whereas the optimist sees the opportunity in every problem”

So there I was working diligently on the business and not giving up despite the Global Financial Crisis and other factors pressing in. My eyes are on God from where my help comes. I know I am the head and not the tail when the phone rings. Someone was calling to…encourage me. Here’s how it went;

HER:So how’s business?
ME: So-so, okay
HER: I hear things are quite bad for retailers, how are you coping?
ME: Yeah, its the survival of the fittest
HER:So how bad are things for you?
ME: As bad as it’s going to get, we can only go up from here.
HER: No,Toks I heard its going to get worse
ME: Well even if it does, it’ll get better.
HER: But I heard it won’t be better for at least 3 years!
ME; (Where is this broad from?) I don’t think so, you see ev..
HER:Don’t be fooled! It WILL get worse, ALLLL the financial analysts have said so…
ME (Desperately trying to change the subject):So how’s work?
HER: O.K. Everyone is holding unto their jobs no one wants to be fired.
ME: Thank God for Jesus, he’ll never leave nor forsake us
HER: Hmmm. So what are your plans?
ME: Plans?? (Who is this woman??)
HER: Yes, you have to have a plan B now?
ME: Shut up heifer (only kidding!)

Words are powerful. After that phone call, my peace was indeed disturbed. I was well aware of the state of the economy prior to the call. And I was fine and happy to work harder to counteract the challenges. Now it felt like I had just been informed for the 1st time that things were bad and businesses were suffering. I sat haunted by those words. I prayed and was revived, praise God. Now I know to pray before I speak to her and not after. When her number comes up I plead the blood of Jesus on me, focusing on my ears. I also know that in the course of our conversation, once I bring up the name of God, my friend flees the scene of the crime, ha ha!

There is a recession yes, but I refuse to wait for it to pass. It is perfect timing to strike out and make something beautiful of our lives. My sun is shining so I’m off to make my hay:)
Night night!

Hobby, rest and play

When God created us, work was not part of His plan for man. I believe He gave Adam a hobby, to look after and have dominion over the garden- earth. The best part is that Adam’s hobby yielded returns so he never had to work- until the fall. And then Jesus came to set us free from the curse of the law.

So I embrace this new day with the joy that comes with my hobby. To source and sell absolutely beautiful furniture and decor for baby and children’s rooms. I have many hobbies, some require more effort than others but ultimately I am fulfilled when it yields results.¬† I’m quite sure Adam had to work his newly formed muscles from time to time as he climbed his favorite tree to pluck a juicy pawpaw or mango. In the same way I have to engage myself to deal with dreaded paperwork to get to my ultimate goal.

And it better yield results. Today. Amen.

PS:

I pray your day is filled with the joy of the Lord that strengthens you to carry out your hobby. I pray your day is fun filled and productive, amen ūüôā

To do list

It’s precisely 7:25pm. I had 10 items on my to do list and so far I have done 6, yay! The exhilaration I feel as I cross out each task is indescribable. So my solution? I break each task into like 4 e.g;

  • fill VAT form 1
  • fill VAT form 2
  • place VAT forms in envelope
  • apply 1st class stamp
  • post VAT form

Don’t laugh, it works!

Today I spoke with dear friend IJ in Australia. Thankfully she didn’t pay me back in my own coin- I had called her at an ungodly hour a while back. Thanks sis, it was good to chat.¬† It also feels good to have friends all over the world. I have covered nearly all the continents, I presently don’t have a friend in South America though so if you are reading…

Blogging has blessed me immensely as I am connecting in an amazing way with loved ones. Thanks luvvies for the emails and the comments, sleep tight, I’m off to bed. And I just crossed out another task, yipee!

The Joy of Living…

Today has been both exciting and overwhelming. Exciting because I had my first one on one business coaching class last week and I feel like I’m finally moving forward- without the blindfold. Overwhelmed because I realize I have so much to do to achieve my goals. Not a good day to have had a can of Red Bull either as now I have all this energy and can’t calm down long enough to complete one task. To help you get a better picture, my hair is pretty much standing on end, I didn’t smooth it down after the wind dealt with it when I did the school run and I just cleaned my glasses with window cleaner.

I have three totally unrelated thoughts simultaneously running through my mind as I type this.

My In/Out tray resembles an “I-quit-and-I’m-leaving-this-blasted-company”, box.

I just ordered Child #3 to school. Its nearly 9pm- I should have said bed.

But I’m alive and filled with the joy of the Lord so I’ll just rejoice!

Funny Hubby

He really makes me laugh- without trying.¬† He sings songs with total confidence, the words are all wrong but he’s certain he’s right. Talking about songs, he sings random songs by obscure 70’s bands we’ve never heard about.¬† He actually likes rock and pop.

He warned me never to blog about him, I asked what the name of my blog was, he’s reply- banana and orange milkshake. He wasn’t joking so I guess its safe to write all I want to about him, he he!

He gives everyone the benefit of the doubt. I’m quite the opposite, a recovering cynic.¬† He’s a thinker, I’m a talker- I do think too!

He’s certainly God’s blessing to me…

Friendship Soured- An ode to a friend lost

So long dear friend. Its been a long ride but the bus stops here.

It’s the toxic fumes of constant sarcasm. The poisonous gases of derision and ridicule.

Then there’s the pungent smell left after a jibe meant to embarrass. Rather than retort I turn a blind eye.

I hope I didn’t bore you during our ride. I hope I was a blessing and in some way positively impacted your life.

I hope when we do meet again time would have bred respect in place of familiarity.

I hope when we meet again we can still be friends.

Lazy Thursday

I had an evening nap. That’s enough reason to call it a lazy day. The boys had their sports day at school- they were supposed to. It was cancelled because the school authorities thought it would rain. It didn’t. The fear of the unknown is indeed one of the most common reasons we miss out on opportunities. Sadly the thing we fear usually doesn’t come to pass. I look back at chances I didn’t take because I feared the outcome. Relationships I avoided. Advertising I didn’t pursue in case they were only after my money and there were no results- I’m not a big fan of print advertising. Trips to the park I didn’t take my children to in case it rained. Business opportunities I did not snatch up in case it failed. I think the sports day should have gone ahead.¬† If it rained, the kids would simply have gone back into class. They had a plan B but went for it prematurely, why didn’t they simply go for A and then fall on B if needed? Lord help me be brave enough to go for your best, every time. I know that if I fail, you’ll pick me up again!

Farewell, Michael

We just watched the Memorial on Michael Jackson. I’m glad its over. I’m glad I can now get back to life like it was before he died.

Then again I’m not quite sure I¬† can or want to do that. You see before Michael died, I didn’t think about how sad or happy his life was. I didn’t think about his daily battles. Worst of all I didn’t think about whether or not he had a relationship with Christ. Now I can’t stop thinking about that all important question, where is Michael now?
He was indeed an incredibly gifted man, yes his music and memories live on but the gifts and talents died along with him. Life is indeed like a mist. Like a mist the talent is gone. Like a mist that pure, beautiful voice is gone. Like a mist that charming smile is gone.
The world has been part of a memorial never to be forgotten, with so many words of love for this man. I pray he is indeed at rest. I pray that his death causes so many to run to Christ with the realization that no one on earth has the final say in their life.
I also feel ashamed at how little my life has impacted people. Michael touched people with his music and his money.
Lord, please hide my life in your hands, you have the final say. I’d rather you had my life than me, I can’t take care of it. I love you Jesus. Adieus, MJ.