Blogging · Dubai · WordPress

The power of communication…

For the fact that I currently live in the UAE and the official language of communication here is Arabic lanaguage, I wish that I can speak this language fluently to ease communication and understanding in spaces where the language is being spoken.

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Asides from my native language and the local parlance back in Nigeria, I am also bilingual (English/French), but a whole lot of people over here barely understand or speak English or French, so, at times it is a struggle for one to explain themselves properly due to the communication barrier. Of course, one must never lose sight of the fact that for them, English/French are borrowed languages and not their mother language. There are also many who communicate effectively as well in either language and somehow we manage to get by.

I truly wish that I had applied myself more in acquiring a good command of Arabic language as it would be an advantage in many ways. I admire people who can speak multiple languages and maybe, this is a gentle reminder for me to make the necessary attempt and stop finding irrelevant excuses.

Philosophy of Life · WordPress · writing challenge

About Time…

One lie that I have always told myself and even started to believe to a large extent is that age is just a number and in the mind and that it’s never too late to become what we want to become. The lie that there’s time to pursue our dreams sometime in the future. Yes, indeed we can still pursue certain aspirations during the sunsetting days of our lives, but we should never forget the mere fact that not only are we are not in charge of time, but also, certain dreams require better state of physical health which sadly deteriorates as one ages.

I guess this lie is to serve as comfort in the face of the fact that I am yet to accomplish a lot of things that I desire to. It serves as a motivator so that I don’t feel disappointed in myself for not living the life of my dreams. The thought that tomorrow will bring better fortune and opportunity to pursue those things that I am truly passionate about holds hope in it and serves as a soothing balm.

The truth is that I have spent the better part of my life so far trying to survive and stay alive by doing what is necessary to provide the basic needs of life. Now that I know better, I have been working at ensuring that each day, a piece of my time is spent doing something about the things that make me feel more alive.

Putting everything away for tomorrow is futile because in reality, the future is today and that illusive future that we await for will never come if we do nothing with the present time. All we are truly given is the present moment that we are experiencing and how we use it matters most. This is one of the driving reasons behind the name that I chose for my TikTok and YouTube pages ‘Beyond Existing‘ to remind myself that each day must be spent fully living in the present, savouring the moments that life brings, pushing past the edge of survival and mere existence.

Blogging · Personal story · WordPress · writing challenge

Drama Queen…

From my early years in life I loved performing for an audience, either as being a part of a dance group, drama group, debate team or modelling. These are the things that I have a natural flair for and as such, my dream job oscillated from wanting to be a newscaster, a writer cum journalist, to being an actress or a runway model – my mind never conceived anything else beyond these interests. Unfortunately, back then at home, these professions were not seen as lucrative and sadly, was perceived as a profession held only by wayward women.

In Nigeria in the 80’s, 90’s we had a few notable female newscasters and journalists who spoke impeccable English while broadcasting the National news and I used to admire them a lot and also imitated them from time to time. As I grew old enough to take part in school dramas and the likes, I grabbed the opportunities that came my way to be on stage and even fancied pursuing Theatre arts or Communication Arts but my mother was not for it at all for valid reasons. At that time, the acting/movie industry in Nigeria was still at its fledgling stage and she believed that I would become a starving actress, besides the fact that there were unsavoury stories of women having to sell themselves short to get a role in any movie.

In my university days, I modelled part-time for small fashion houses, calendars and advertorials to augment my pocket money and last took part in a fashion show in 2018. I guess if bigger opportunities had come my way, who knows, maybe I would have embraced them. These interests of mine were not considered as serious professions and were looked down on back in the days, but with each generation, as the time changes, societal views change as well.

During my growing up years, in most Nigerian homes, they were coveted professions that parents chose for their children, Doctor, Pharmacist, Engineer, Lawyer and maybe nurse or teacher for those who are unable to fit into the other ‘chosen professions.’ I ended up studying Law since my language proficiency was considered excellent and my mama felt that my oratory skills would serve better in the law court. To cut a long story short, I have never been in a courtroom nor worked as a lawyer. My career path has vacillated over the years, however, these days, I find that my writing and speaking skills are being used more and more especially nowadays that we have social platforms that offers us the opportunity the embrace our latent skills.

Who knows, one day I may still venture down on the runway strutting my matronly stuff or on the stage acting my heart out, though I spend more time these days writing and teaching others.

Check me out on TikTok
Blogging · This Is My Life · WordPress · writing challenge

My living space in the concrete jungle…

At present, I live in a flat in a block of apartment – a skyscraper – here in Dubai and I can pinpoint a dozen things or more that irritate me about it, though I have adjusted and learnt to make do.

Given that I grew up in a spacious bungalow spread out on its own compound with a large balcony and that through the years I have lived in either a duplex, townhouse or condo which usually comes with more living space, an apartment can be a squeeze.

My biggest hang-up is that there’s insufficient space to express myself and to set up my personal workspace, which kind of impacts on my ability to create the ambience that I want my workspace to have, to get into the zone and to focus on what I am doing. I love being surrounded by nature and growing plants/herbs, unfortunately, the heat of the Middle-East and lack of sufficient space does not make it conducive to go as green as I would love. Anyhow, I have indoor plants scattered around the house.

There is one central AC control which means that it is difficult to regulate the temperature in different parts of the house, so if it’s cold, it’s cold everywhere and vice-versa.

The AC ducts also brings in aromas/whiffs of our neighbours cooking or the smell of burning incense and a lot of times this happens in the middle of the night and being a light sleeper, heavy smells of garlic, fried onions, curry, spices, incense or what have you simply wakes me and keeps me up at night.

It is not all negative to say the least and over the years of living here, I have managed to create a cozy home for me and my family, but I do look forward to a time in the near future when I will leave the concrete jungle and return to something more spacious, private and surrounded by nature.

You can find me on TikTok

Blogging · WordPress · writing challenge

Kaleidoscope…

This is one of those topics that irks me. I guess I’m part of that percentage of humans who don’t have a favourite colour and simply finds something to love in every colour.

It used to bother me a whole lot when I was younger and gave me such angst that among my friends I seemed to be the only one who was undecided about her favourite colour, therefore, I was the odd one out. I struggled to choose which colour best defined my personality and being a part of society where you are required to choose and to fit it in, it can be odd at times when you are so undecided about something as simple as colour.

It took maturity to make me understand that it is absolutely okay not to have one specific colour that defines my personality and since I find that my moods, the place that I am going to, the occasion in question, how I want to be perceived etc. determines how I dress, I simply follow my feelings and wear whatever I feel like at that point in time.

I love all colours, bold, subtle, plain, splashy, in all shades and hues and I the arty side of me has learnt how to work colours to complement me.

food · WordPress · Writing

Igbo Delicacies…

Although I have realized that I am not really a foodie, I do enjoy cooking for my family and my satisfaction comes mainly from the delight that they express when they eat my meals. I practically make homemade meals every day as they are not only healthier but also more cost effective when you are catering to the needs of a family.

I have an eclectic taste bud and I guess this stems from having living in various parts of the world at different points in time and also being adventurous when it comes to trying foods from other places. Nevertheless, after all tasted and tried, I still gain satisfaction from cooking and eating ‘ukwa’ or ‘okpa’. These are traditional meals which are literally considered as delicacies as the condiments/ingredients required to make them are not easily available abroad and quite costly.

Ukwa (Igbo name) is an edible traditional fruit. Its English name is African breadfruit and scientific name is Treculia africana. It belongs to the Moraceae family and it is related to other exotic fruits like breadnut, jackfruit, figs and mulberries. The fruits are hard and fibrous, full of nutritional values and exotic taste. It is not a meal that you prepare in a rush. It takes long prepping and cooking hours to get the right soft consistency that I love, but the result at the end of the day is well worth the effort and time spent.

Okpa (pronounced Ọkpa) is a delicacy prepared by the Igbo people with a special type of beans known as Bambara nuts. It is common in Enugu state (my home state) and is known as a traditional Nigerian delicacy due to its uniqueness. Its main ingredients are the Bambara nut flour, palm oil, pepper, salt and seasoning, though recipes may vary and can be eaten alone or paired with hot pap.

Normally, back home I would prepare okpa wrapped in banana/plantain leaves, but given the fact that finding such leaves is literally impossible to get the leaves here, when I am able to lay my hands on the bambara flour, I make do with foil wrapping.

Blogging · Family · food · WordPress · writing challenge

Sense of home…

Several of my traditional home food evokes a whole lot of memories especially as I have been living outside my home county for decades now and unfortunately, our condiments are quite exorbitant here, thus, I don’t get to eat them as much as I would love to and sometimes the smell of anything similar to a traditional dish makes me feel nostalgic.

When I catch the whiff of fried plantain which we call ‘dodo’ I am reminded of my mothers warm kitchen, of nicking a slice or two of sweet plantain, of laughter and my mom’s reminders not to let the plantain burn and not to finish eating them whilst cooking.

The smell of party jollof rice simply brings joy. It is a staple in every Nigerian home and is synonymous with our celebrations both back home and in the diaspora. Wedding ceremonies, birthdays, child dedication, Sunday lunch, graduation even funerals et al.

A lot of quality family time means food shared, bonding, good music, camaraderie and love shared. I believe that I have somehow managed to transfer the love for jollof to my children especially my boys. They love eating spicy, delicious servings of Naija jollof and believe me, a good plate of flavourful jollof rice accompanied with essential condiments can make you hum with joy. It gives me a sense of home, warmth, culture and heritage that can’t be quantified.

Find me on Tiktok

Personal · This Is My Life · WordPress · writing challenge

Being me…

One fear that I battled with for a long time and can finally look back and say, I came, I saw and I conquered’ was the fear of being my true, authentic self. As a young black African woman, I was raised in a predominantly patriarchal society and have had to fight hard to get where I am today and still fighting. Sadly, experience and living in other parts of the world has shown me that this situation persists from place to place albeit in different forms. These situations used to bother me a lot.

As a young black girl, I was so concerned with not creating any ripples, making waves and rocking any boat, that I waited far too long to start speaking up for myself. I endured bullying and physical assault, that I thought that if I suffered in silence that it would stop and if I worked twice as hard to succeed in all that I do, that one day all of my hard work would magically pay off and my success would announce itself. I found out soon enough that I couldn’t suffer through such situations and had to learn to fight back any way I could.

Now living and working in the UAE, I have fought hard with prejudice, fought with not making myself small to make others feel comfortable and unthreatened by my presence as a vocal, audacious, confident and proud black woman. I have had to deal with various ranges of microaggressions and a lot of times pulled far more than my weight in order to prove my value. It hasn’t been a smooth journey learning never to think less of myself because of my skin colour and how others may perceive me and to stand tall in the face of such adversities – especially when everyday reality tries to assert the opposite.

I have learnt how to overcome these obstacles, how not to lower my standards and pride myself on how my experiences have helped me to become a connector of people, places, positivity and possibilities.

These days, I prioritize myself outside of work and above most things. Over the years, I’ve learned that at the end of the day, places might change, teams will change, projects and jobs will end but my mind and my body are the only constants that I have and that taking care of every part of all that concerns me is critical to getting through the storms of life. I had to learn to reset my relationship with self-care and wellbeing and I no longer allow work, or anyone dictate my mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. This shift in paradigm has given me the energy to take control of my situation where and when I can and not to be fixated with how others see me. I no longer look for permission to be me nor do I seek other people’s validation to be authentically true to myself.

Here I am on TikTok

@beyondexisting.j

Awaken the Lioness within #fyp #motivate #daughterofgod #lioness #foryoupage #following #blackwoman #lionofjudah Daughter of Zion, God did not save you to tame you and make you timid! You are made you to be fierce, a stunning expression of beauty and strength. You may may play safe and find comfort in the confines of the sidelines, but you know that God has so much more for you. The darkness around you should fear the light within you. When you wake up, the enemy should be on high alert. Why? It’s simple, really. You, daughter, are a lioness, and you were created to roar.

♬ The Lion King: Circle Of Life – Geek Music
Travel · WordPress · writing challenge

The places that I will go…

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I love traveling. It is one of my hearts desire to visit to as many places as possible at leisure and enjoy the splendour that our dear planet has to offer before one gets too old to do so. I have been opportune to travel to many countries and for sure the experience has taught me a lot about people, culture and diversity that I may otherwise never have had the opportunity to learn if I hadn’t been to and stayed in these places.

Having had to travel by different means, air, road, train, I love road trips because I feel in control of the pace, stopping where and when we want to grab a bite, take a photo and take in the scenery. I love going by train as well as this also gives me some sense of satisfaction especially a long distance journey where I get to people watch and observe a microcosm of humans traveling together. Lest, I forget, there’s this romantic flavour and feeling of relaxation about train travel. One of such train journey’s that’s etched in my memory is my trip from London to Paris, Geneva, Luxembourg and Amsterdam. It was a trip of a lifetime and one that I would love to do once again but probably add other routes this time around.

For me, traveling by air is for expediency sake and is only taken as an option when the other options won’t work. The hassles at the airport, sitting in a flying object for hours on end and looking at nothing but clouds and inhaling other people’s fart is not so much fun. You are literally squashed into a germ-ridden cylinder for hours on end, in an uncomfortable seat with hardly any legroom or the possibility of reclining to create more comfort. If you are lucky, you end up saddled with a bunch of grumpy, smelly strangers, whiny kids and all sorts of humans who are enduring the same hardships as you are. The food is basically nonexistent the entertainment options are limited. You have no choice but to put up with all manner of inconveniences, discomforts, and indignities to say the least.

The peak moments for me are the take off and landing when I get to have a bird’s eye view of the landscape and city that I am going to.

My prayer is that in the nearest future, I will have positioned myself in a vantage point where I will get to go to the places that are on my bucket list without worrying about funding, work et al. Something to look forward to…

You can also find me on Tiktok.

Blogging · WordPress · writing challenge

The things I would do…

Money, money money…I ain’t gonna lie, if per chance I find myself blessed with a billion dollars, I would hibernate for a little while to take it all in, to pray for direction and wisdom on how best to utilize the money. There won’t be any rushed spending.

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My first step would be to engage experienced financial advisers and create channels for multiple streams of income such as investing in real estate, diversified portfolios (stocks and bonds) and trading investment streams. I would buy into a renowned food franchise (because people will always eat) and any other worthwhile franchise that will employ people while generating a steady flow of income. I would love to set up an institute where people can acquire skills that are not only transferable but would help to give them a good start in life. Money can gain wings and fly away, so I will try my very best not to go overboard and splurge on foolish things that have no return value. I don’t want to wake up suddenly and find myself down and out of funds.

Other key interests would be to sort out those essential needs like shelter. Paying off my home will be a priority on my needs list, so that I no longer need to fret about mortgage and the likes. For sure, knowing what putting children through school means, I will set up a trust fund for my children’s education to whatever level they choose to aim for, set up a better life insurance than the one I have at present, set up an endowment fund which will be primarily to support vulnerable folks and those in need and to empower women in the rural areas.

Most certainly, I will have a thanksgiving and sow seeds into worthy charity organizations. I will bless family members with some funds to help them take care of necessary exigencies. After taking care of all these aspects, then I will sit back and exhale a bit.

I am also on Tiktok