#TravelThursday; The Vatican City

When I decided to take on the challenge of visiting 30 countries before I turned 30, I began counting off the number of countries I had already visited just so I would know how many I had left. I had not been to Italy at the time and when I did visit Italy and subsequently the Vatican City, I counted them both as one country. LOL.

The Vatican City is actually one of the smallest countries in the world with a population of about 1,000 people and the Pope as the Head of Government. It is the Head Quarters of the Roman Catholic Church.

If you’re looking for a treasure trove of art in Europe, you have absolutely got to check out the Vatican City. There are a total of 54 museums located within the Vatican with the Sistine Chapel sitting proudly at the peak. The museums rank among the top 10 museums and galleries in the world.

On the day of my visit, I walked around for over 4 hours and still did not get to see all of the museums. But those were the most beautiful 4 hours of my life. From sculptures to paintings and tapestries and Egyptian Mummies, I saw sights for days.

To get into the Vatican Museums, there is usually a ridiculously long queue and you can stand in that queue for hours (or less than an hour if you’re lucky) before you’re finally able to purchase a ticket and get in. The alternative would be to purchase a ticket online and skip the queue. But here’s what I realised on getting there that morning with my cousins- there’s also a queue for those who have got tickets to skip the queue! LOL. It’s a much shorter queue actually so I guess it could be worth it. Of course as you expect, the online tickets are a lot more expensive than the offline ones.

The Vatican itself is a marvellous piece of architecture. You’ve got to give it to Europe though. When it comes to architectural structures, they will give you a good run for your money.

From the ground floor, there are collections from all over the world and walking through all the floors, your eyes will be blissfully entertained with paintings from the walls to the ceilings.

The paintings on the ceilings fascinated me the most. Like how on earth did the artists get them done? Michelangelo and Raphael have my eternal respects for real.

The tapestries stole my heart! They were woven so delicately, they could pass for paintings. Each one depicted either a Bible story or something from ancient Roman History. For instance, there was a tapestry on the murder of Julius Caesar, another of Jesus rising from the dead, the killing of all male children at Herod’s instance and lots more.

In the Sistine Chapel, the entire ceiling is covered by Michelangelo’s paintings which took him about 4 years to complete. Cameras were not allowed in there so I have no pictures but it literally felt like being in art heaven and I still cannot wrap my head around how he was able to get it done. Some of the paintings in there were familiar however. For instance, the one in which Eve plucked a fruit from the forbidden tree.

As earlier mentioned, there were collections from all over the world. One of the most exciting things for me was seeing an actual Egyptian Mummy and reading about the funeral rites and rituals observed in Egypt at the time. It was fascinating to learn that internal organs were usually separated from the corpse and stored in canopic jars while the embalming process took place. Burying bodies whole? For what? Hehe

There were also tons of sculptures. All the famous Greek gods and legends were represented- Hercules, Artemis, the river god Arno amongst others. Some of the sculptures were familiar, others weren’t. But if you have ever read or watched anything on Greek mythology, you’d be sure to see a familiar face or two.

After the museums, we checked out St. Peter’s Basilica where I turned a few cartwheels because… LOL. I mean, we were in this massive open space with an unending queue to get in so we didn’t bother. St. Peter’s Basilica is reportedly the largest church in the world and is believed to be the burial site of Saint Peter. The church is the Pope’s principal church and a great number of masses and liturgies are celebrated there throughout the year.

So yeah, the Vatican City was a wonderful experience. Honestly, it wasn’t even just for the art alone. It did feel like being on a mini pilgrimage at some points. I am Christian (not Catholic) so there were moments of personal reflection for my faith. But whether you go there for the art or for religious purposes, the Vatican Museums are definitely a must see if you can afford it.

Ps. Kindly let me know in the comments whether or not you knew the Vatican City was a country before now. Let me know I am not alone abeg. LOL.

Love and Light,

@Oge_writes

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#TravelThursday: Rome, Italy

Of all the (few) cities I have been to on my travels, Rome remains my absolute favourite. I love, love, love Rome for the ruins and all the history. There was something almost electric about walking down the various streets of Rome and imagining what it must have felt like to live in those times of chariots and horses and gladiators and shields. Rome feels like it was suspended in time. I mean save for the trains and electricity and tarred roads, I may well have been back in 6th century ancient Rome, under the governorship of a Roman emperor given how the ruins have been preserved. Fantastic stuff, I tell you.

I remember stepping out of the Colosseo train station and catching the first glimpse of the Colosseum and my goodness! Boy, was it breathtaking! The Colosseum is such an overwhelming, magnificent, gorgeous structure that takes your breath away upon first sight. Remember all those gladiator movies where men would fight to death in a large amphitheater made of stone walls with different ledges? That’s exactly what the Colosseum is. You’d spend hours walking around it and feel like you did a bit of time travel.

The Colosseum is not even the only ancient structure standing in that axis. There were so many others, names of which I cannot recall but they do a number on your heart, that’s for sure. So if you’re ever in Rome, be sure to check it out. Although it goes without saying that it is the primary tourist attraction of the city.

Asides, the Colosseum, another structure that stole my heart was the Trevi fountain. I love water and I strongly believe I will have a fountain and a pool in my house someday but that is besides the point. LOL. The Trevi fountain is beautiful. It was crowded with dozens of tourists and the water was so clear and refreshing. No, I didn’t take a dive in. LOL. Interestingly, the fountain is built from Travertine stone, same material used in the reconstruction of the Colosseum.

At the Trevi Fountain, lots of tourists throw in coins because it is believed that if you do so, you’ll be guaranteed to come back to Rome. Yours truly in typical Alaroro fashion did not throw in anything but best believe I’ll be back to Rome again sometime in the no distant future. Lol. I did learn recently however that the coins that are thrown in are gathered at the end of each day and given to an Italian charity. So I guess next time I’m there I’ll toss in a coin or two.

Of course there were a bunch of cathedrals to be seen. Goes without saying. Rome is like the heart of the Catholic Church and it’s about an hour or so away from the Vatican City which I will write about in another post.

If you ever visit Rome, I very highly recommend the Camping Village Roma for accommodation. Rooms are decent, there’s an outdoor pool open in the summer and it’s right in front of a bus stop so transportation is easy and accessible. For food, buffet lunches work wonders. You eat a lot of food for really cheap and you’re good to go.

I noticed a lot of graffiti around Rome as well. I guess the most shocking was the one I caught on the walls of a train and that’s because I am more used to seeing it on streets and walls of buildings but certainly not on something so ‘official’. Still feels weird.

And of course there were street guys pulling off amazing optical illusion stunts on tourists. People are creative sha. But the picture below is the most interesting one.

Here’s your genie, you’ve got 3 wishes!

Hehe. Have a fab weekend.

#TravelThursday: Cape Coast, Ghana

Cape Coast is the most beautiful African city I have visited so far. Then again I am partial to blue skies and beach sand and castles so I guess that explains a lot. The city is so rich in African history that merely walking the streets fills you with a great deal of it.

Cape Coast is home to two castles that hold sordid tales of the slave trade era which will leave you pondering the callousness of the human race. Having been to both Badagry (Nigeria) and Ouidah (Benin Republic), I am no stranger to slave trade history but the stories I heard at Cape Coast Castle were no less heart-wrenching.

Cape Coast Castle

On our tour of Cape Coast castle, we were shown tiny chambers where hundreds of slaves stood pressed against each other day and night. The rooms had only one source of light and ventilation; a tiny window high up on the wall. There was no possible means of escape. In one of the chambers reserved for women, there was an imprint on the wall of a pregnant woman believed to have been caused by the constant leaning on the wall. Tons of people died in there while waiting to be shipped abroad, others who made it out suffered partial or even total blindness because there was next to no light at all coming into the room.

The horror stories are best left to your imagination but the tour guide left precious little to the imagination. With each room, he painted a vivid picture of the dehumanizing treatments slaves were subjected to at the time. And interestingly, when we took a tour to the top floor which was the governor’s quarters, the difference was remarkable. One room, reserved for one man had sixteen windows whereas a chamber holding hundreds of slaves just below had only one crack of a window. If you’re not careful, you’d leave those castles feeling extremely angry and bitter.

View from the governor’s quarters

The cannons outside the castle were reminiscent of those stationed outside the Montjuic Castle in Barcelona (a trip which I will write about some other time) and the view from there was breathtaking. The ocean stretched out in endless splendor but at the same time, I strongly believe that the beauty of the view was lost on inmates of the castle. I can’t imagine that they went through the door of no return and saw the ocean and thought “Oh hey, this is a stunning body of water and the sun is so nice and warm.”

Again, I must mention that if you ever visit those castles (and I think that you should,) you must brace yourself emotionally so you’re not completely overwhelmed by emotions that you’re unable to handle. It is that intense.

After touring the Cape Coast Castle, we took a quick ride to Elmina Castle just to have a view of it from the outside and the views on the road were simply a sight for sore eyes. The coastline, beach sand and palm trees brought a great deal of inner peace.

We made a quick stop at the beach to chase the waves and bask in the sheer wonder of nature. Sitting there and watching the waves come and go, I felt deep gratitude for freedom. And not just freedom from colonial masters because while that form of slavery seems way behind us, there’s a great deal of other things that enslave us.

My gratitude was for my freedom to live my life authentically and unapologetically. Freedom to be myself and continually strive to attain a better version of myself. And that’s the sort of liberty only you can give yourself. Determine to live life on your terms and not on the terms others have set for you because at the end of the day, if you require people’s permission to be happy, you’ll never get it.

“So tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Namaste

@Oge_writes

#TravelThursday: Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire

Monsieur, Monsieur, la bathroom s’il vous plait…

It is one thing to decide to explore West Africa by road. It is another thing entirely to choose to visit a francophone country when your French is bare minimum. My trip to Abidjan, can best be described as an exercise in hilarity and I am here to share it all with you.

So I set out with a couple of friends from Accra on a fine Saturday morning. My trip to Accra from Lagos is story for another day. We drove down to Takoradi and got in around 1pm. We were going to take a bus from Takoradi to Abidjan but there was only one bus for the day and we missed it. Next option was to take a smaller car to the border and another vehicle from the border into Abidjan. Seemed simple enough.

We were told we would have to pay to get our passports stamped at the border. Stamping at the Ghana side was fine, but at Cote d’Ivoire, everything changed. First, we had to do the yellow card check. Mine was checked and returned to me but the officer held on to the cards of my two friends. We were confused for a few minutes until we were ushered into an office where a lady explained in rapid fire French that the others needed to take the Meningitis vaccination because it was not on their card.

It was a funny conversation with me trying to explain in my halting French that they had taken the vaccine in recent time but before they got their yellow cards which explained why they didn’t have it on their cards. The lady kept insisting, her words spoken in French moving at the speed of light, that if the vaccine was not on the card, they would have to take the shots. Finally, after about 20 minutes, we gave in and they paid some money to take the shots. (Side note, the injection didn’t hurt even hours later which is unusual for a meningitis vaccine but ok.)

Next, we had to deal with the immigration guys who insisted we should pay 10,000 CFA per person in order to get our passports stamped. Might I just state for the record here that it is possible to travel across these borders without an international passport. An Identity Card would suffice and you wouldn’t have to pay a dime. But we had already offered our passports to be stamped and there was no going back. The driver had told us it was possible to bargain with them since we did not know the price before then and did not change enough money at the border.

At the first point, we met this man who looked smiled at us politely and said he wanted to marry one of us. We had nice banter until we were told the price and we said we didn’t have enough money with us. We tried to bargain with him but he referred us to another officer. The second officer haggled and haggled, at some point insisting that me and one of my friends must pay the full price since we both had US and Schengen visas on our passports. The ridiculousness of his logic was really amusing. After we managed to agree to 10,000 CFA for all three of us and were about to pay, the first man showed up suddenly like something out of a nightmare and insisted that the money was too little. The smiling, joking face was gone and was replaced with this firm, mean look that was just frustrating. He took our passports and had to follow him and massage his ego for almost another 30 minutes before we finally ended up paying 15,000 CFA in total. The naira equivalent of that sum is approximately N9,300.

So you know this thing some drivers do in Nigeria where they carry an extra passenger but tell you the person will be dropping off shortly? LOL. Apparently, it’s not peculiar to Nigeria alone. We got back to the car we had chartered on the other side of the road and the driver had picked up 3 women who he said were just going somewhere in front. That somewhere in front turned out to be inside Abidjan, almost 4 hours from the border. Why are people like this?

Oh, so while we journeyed, bestie became pressed and needed to ease herself. She kept telling me in English so I could communicate to the driver in French as the official translator for the trip. Brethren, I was already tired and stressed from the entire journey and even the small French I was speaking was tired. Next thing that came out of your WCW’s mouth was, “Monsieur, monsieur, la bathroom s’il vous plait, la bathroom!” Till date, each time we recall that, we all explode in laughter. It took a few minutes but the driver eventually understood what I was trying to say and pulled over. Ps, I should have simply said toilet. But mans was tired and the posh English speaking part of my brain had been activated.

Because we were scheduled to leave town the next day, we decided to explore the nightlife in Abidjan. Mind you, we made it to our hotel around 10pm after spending the entire day on the road. On the plus side, the roads were pretty good so we didn’t feel it so much. After checking in, showering and changing, we took a taxi from the front of the hotel and the driver was really gracious, dropping us off and picking us up at intervals before finally bringing us back to the hotel. He didn’t speak English but thankfully, my French was enough to get us through the night.

What I love about Abidjan nightlife first off was that you could find food at any time of the night. Google maps was quite useful in showing us restaurants that were close by and there seemed to be a lot of them concentrated in one area. It was like a 5-7 minute drive from the hotel and even at midnight, the restaurants were full of people and they still had good food. We managed to find a waiter who spoke a little English and we ordered.

The driver had dropped us off and agreed to return for us in an hour. He refused to take a down payment as well and I was grateful first, for his trust and second, for the assurance that he would indeed return. And when he did, he took us to a club where we danced our tired feet off for another hour before returning to the hotel. I was really excited to hear a lot of Whiz Kid and Davido blasting through the speakers. Nigerian music really making the waves. Next to the Nigerian songs, there were a lot of Makossa type songs that had the girls there going wild. Unsurprising anyways because we were in a Francophone country.

The following day, since we didn’t have much time to spare, we went to visit the zoo. The zoo was fair in terms of maintenance and I loved that it was really cheap to get in- 300 CFA per person (approx. N190). I guess I would say we more than got value for our money. There were snakes, lions, crocodiles, monkeys, chimps, birds, a zebra and my personal favourite, an elephant.

Abidjan is an interesting place. In contrast to other capital cities I have visited, it does not have a grand allure to it. I would not describe Abidjan as a mega city. But I guess that would be asking for too much. The highlight of my trip was the visit to the zoo. When visiting a new country, I try to check out museums, zoos and old historical buildings. Those are my default go to places, unless something else is suggested.

When you visit a new place, where do you like to go? Plus have you ever visited Abidjan? How did you find it?

Updates and a New Category

Hi guys! It’s been quite a while since I was consistent on the blog and I have thoroughly missed it. But in between the madness that was Law School, I have had so many random thoughts and ideas that I penned down, waiting for the right time to flesh them all out and I am so glad that I finally have a moment.

If you know me, you would know I have a lot of interests and the last few years of my life have been about me zoning in on one of those interests and nurturing it passionately to a point where I can confidently balance it with other interests and not feel like I am drowning. I think I have come to that point but time will tell.

Err, what’s new? A Blog series is underway. I started writing it sometime in 2014 and it started coming together nicely between 2017 and 2018. I have a few episodes down and I already love the characters. Fingers crossed you’ll love them too. I would start sharing immediately but my laptop gave up the ghost last week and pending its resurrection and my putting down a few more episodes, I will be unable to share. So pray for a miracle guys! Something new is coming your way and I’m positive you’ll enjoy it.

I’ve got some short stories coming anyways. The beautiful thing about short stories is I don’t necessarily need my old laptop for inspiration. The notes on my phone plus random things around me will be inspiration enough, so I’ve got you guys covered. Stay tuned!

What else is new? Travel Thursday! Yay!! Again, if you know me, you’ll know I am a travel enthusiast. I love visiting new places but I hardly ever share about them. Actually, one of the items on my bucket list is to visit 30 countries before I turn 30. I have 10 under my belt so far and I have decided to start sharing stories from my travels in a new category on my blog that I have titled Travel Diaries. I have been meaning to write travel stories for the longest time but I have always held back for a multitude of reasons. But in the ever famous words of my cousin, “no more!”

Thanks to encouragement and support from my soul sisters Chidimma and Queen (they’ve earned this shoutout), I have resolved to share my travel stories; the good, the weird and the downright hilarious. The stories will be shared every Thursday and I really do hope you enjoy them and find a bit of inspiration as well.

That’s about it I guess. Summary, Oge_writes is back to telling stories and is assuring you of at least one new post every week. So help me God. Enjoy the rest of your week folks and see you Thursday with our first travel post. Who can hazard a guess of the city or country?

Home

X is laughing with his hands to his chest, shaking his head with a look of mock fear on his face as you drive into the compound and slowly bring the car to a stop.

“That’s it! You are never driving me again. I’m really, really not ready to die yet.” He says

You shrug and flash him a grin as you step out of the car.

“You’ve seen the whole world already, what else is there to live for?”

He looks at you and shrugs.

“Nothing much actually. Just my parents, siblings, and maybe you know, this crazy woman I’m contemplating spending the rest of my life with.”

You laugh as he makes his way out of the car and to your side, taking you by surprise as he steals a kiss.

You squirm out of his hold, suddenly feeling shy and he smiles.

“So this is it?” he asks as he looks around.

You nod quietly and look around you as well.

“This is it. This is my home.”

The tranquility is relaxing- a quiet stillness. Even with the gentle breeze that blows, there is no sound of rustling leaves because the compound has been swept clean. The faint pattern of the broom strokes give that away but it is nothing like the artistic patterns you and your siblings deliberately made while sweeping the compound all those years ago.

Above your head, the pride of Barbados flowers sashay ever so gracefully from the branches down to the ground. And that moment, that moment when you look up and catch a single petal falling down to your nose is so magical, you want to pause time and preserve that moment forever.

X observes the faraway look in your eyes and he links his fingers with yours, tugging gently so you snap out of your reverie.

“Let me show you around.” You say.

He follows your lead and as you walk towards the back of your father’s compound, it suddenly feels like déjà vu. The memories of your childhood come rushing back to you but even more formidable is the memory of you sharing this space and all those childhood memories with Obinna. You falter in your steps and X cautions you.

“Easy Mi Vida!

It is only then that you become fully aware of the fact that you haven’t been home since that weekend two years ago when you brought Obinna to attend your father’s birthday dinner. If a flicker of guilt or sadness dims your eyes, X misses it because you chin up and keep walking.

The rose-bed that used to lie in front of the house is no longer there. Of course it wasn’t there on your last visit, but neither were the flower pots your father has now placed right under the windows. Tiny sprouts are peaking out and you make a mental note to ask him what he planted there.

The garden looks a little different from your last visit. It is almost as if something changes every time you visit. The fence at the entrance of the garden has been collapsed, alongside the fence at the corner, backing the garage. So rather than a garden cordoned off from the main compound, what you now see is one large compound extended to envelop the garden. So when you walk right round the garden, you soon find yourself right where you started at the entrance of the compound. X laughs at the slight surprise on your face.

“Something wrong?”

“Oh no. It’s just… different. There was no access from this point before.”

“Ah. I see.”

You smile at him and with his fingers still linked to yours, you return to the garden again, this time letting yourself get drowned in the endless waves of nostalgia that hit as you tell him stories of your childhood. X is thrilled and the way his eyes light up as you regale him with your tales is so rewarding. You have been teased for talking too much but that is one “defect” X is unwilling to help you cure. He is always so attentive and engaging when you speak, one would think you were constantly spitting gold.

Your tour ends right under your favourite guava tree and after telling X about the scar on your knee that you got from falling off the tree, you reckon it’s time to shut down the time capsule and return to the present.

“You know, I still can’t picture you as a skinny tomboy despite everything you have shared with me today.”

Your back is against the tree and your arms are folded loosely across your chest while X stands a few feet away from you as he speaks.

“It shouldn’t be that difficult to picture. Don’t you remember what I was like in my 100 level?”

“Nope! I didn’t know you that well in school. We only became proper friends after graduation, remember? And each time I saw you, you looked ten times hotter than the last.”

You blush and take in a deep breath. This is perfection in itself and it feels surreal. Being here with X, sharing this moment, designing memories that you know you will cherish for the rest of your life. A lot has happened in the last two years to bring you to this point with X and there is so much that you are thankful for.

And when you consider what you deem to be the biggest blessing of all, it is tainted with a hint of sadness. The hint escalates rather quickly into an overwhelming feeling that washes over you and floods your eyes.

X notices the tears as they well up in your eyes and they startle him.

Mi Vida! Is something wrong?”

You shake your head and try to blink the tears away but his concern darkens his eyes further and he takes you gently into his arms.

“No, Mia, you’re crying. What is it? Did I do something?”

You shake your head but the lump in your throat is so huge, it prevents you from speaking and of their own accord, your tears flow gently down your face and on to his shoulders where your head rests. X hugs you tighter and rubs your back as you shed silent tears.

When you’re finally done, you raise your head and step out of his embrace feeling slightly embarrassed. His eyes hold curious concern and his arms hang loosely around you.

Mi Vida?”

“I’m losing my home.” You say, dabbing your eyes as you speak. Your mascara has dripped alongside your tears and stained his white shirt and you feel guilty again because you know how fussy he is about his appearance.

“I’m so stupid for crying, I’m sorry.” You’re trying to brush it away but X is having none of it.

“What do you mean losing your home?”

“This place. Dad is selling it next year. He said he wants to leave.”

“Oh my love!”

His hug is tighter this time as he pulls you into another embrace and you rest in his arms, feeling safe and loved, grateful for his presence.

“This is all I have ever known baby. I don’t know how to let it go. I don’t know how to deal with the fact that after next year, I’ll never be able to return here again. Can you see how peaceful and perfect it is?”

The tears threaten to overwhelm you again but you fight them and win, only by swallowing lump after lump as they rise in your throat.

Mi Vida, look at me-” he says as he steps back and levels his eyes with yours.

“Home is here-” he taps your chest gently as he speaks

“Right here in your heart. No one can ever take it away from you. Every single memory you have as a child in this place, you carry it in your heart. And whenever you feel lost or homesick, you can very easily draw on them and re-live them as though you were here.”

You nod and sniffle and he gently strokes your cheeks.

Mi Vida, home is wherever we decide that it will be. For me, home is you, and wherever you are. It’s why we’re here, together, right now, sharing this precious moment. Home is you Mi Vida, and I want you to think of me as home too.”

You nod again, fiercely this time and reward him with a light kiss for his kind words that soothe your aching heart.

“You know, it’s funny. I have lived in multiple cities and countries since I first left home 6 years ago but no place has ever given me the same feels as here. Nothing even comes close.”

You notice a sudden aloofness in his eyes that tells you X is no longer with you.

“Baby?”

“I have an idea.” he says

“Why don’t we make some videos? And take loads of pictures too and you can journal about this trip and how it’s made you feel, and that way, you preserve this particular memory forever.”

Your face lights up like a constellation of stars and you squeal in delight.

“Yes! Yes!!!”

X takes the car keys from you and dashes off. You remain rooted in your garden, awestruck by this amazing man who is doing the absolute most especially seeing as you hadn’t imagined meeting anyone who would be as kind to you as Obinna had been.

X returns seconds later, selfie stick in hand, camera ready. You blush the entire two minutes it takes him to get the angles right and as he hits the record button, you go on and on and on about your childhood home in this tiny, beautiful northern city you have called home for the greater part of your life.

“…So I’m a little sad that I’m leaving all this behind, but I am so grateful for every single memory I have created here.”

That is how you wrap up your monologue and you find yourself infinitely grateful for the huge smile X has plastered across his face.

“Oh wait! One more thing!

There’s this song I used to sing with my dad a lot as a kid. I think I want to sing it here.”

“Yeah? This should be fun.” X says

You giggle loudly and then you start.

“I love to go, a-wandering, along the mountain track

And as I go, I love to sing, my knapsack on my back

Val da-ri, Val da-ra,

Val da-ri, Val da-ra-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha Val da-ri, Val da-ra,

my knapsack on my back

X’s laughter is gentle and teasing but you do not stop. Rather, you break into a dance, skipping and twirling around the garden, disturbing the peace like you have been known to do but feeling the happiest you have ever been. Because in those minutes while you sing, you’re a little girl again, riding on your father’s shoulders and yelling the chorus right into his ears and giggling as he dances around the garden with you.

X does not stop the video recording so you sing the chorus multiple times, throwing in some shaku shaku moves and a couple cartwheels for good measure, until you’re out of breath. You both collapse into a laughing happy heap and X finally ends the video.

X kisses you on the forehead and with his arms wrapped loosely around you, you finally get what he was trying to say earlier. This is home, right here, nestled in the arms of the man you love. A man set to meet your father with his close relatives in another 24 hours to commence the traditional rights of officially seeking your hand in marriage- the iku aka.

Some other day, you will tell the story of your journey with X and how you got to this point. But that day is not today. Today, you have found the true meaning of home, you have created beautiful memories and you will treasure them forever.

Clean Slates and Marathons

There’s something about starting off the New Year with a frenzy that never gets old. We tend to feel like we have a fresh slate, a new lease on life to start again and so inadvertently we put ourselves under undue pressure to run and achieve and before the first quarter is over, we find ourselves burning out.

I’d been thinking of putting out a few tweets but my restless mind wouldn’t let me articulate properly so I settled for a blogpost instead.

First of all, breathe. It’s a New Year, yes but you can leave some of the pressure behind.

At the end of last year, so many people wrote reviews (I did too). Some had had a fantastic 2017 with countless accomplishments, some had a not so great year and if you’re human like me, you may have felt a pinch reading some of the reviews and asking yourself why your year could not have been as great or why you could not achieve as much. Again, breathe.

Now the New Year is here and there is a measure of pressure to accomplish so much so you can also write about them. But slow down for a minute and think on this. Life is in seasons, and there are phases for our journeys so you must be patient with the process. I have written about the need to stay in your process before and this post is to reiterate that specifically for the New Year.

You must pace yourself out. Refuse the pressure to succeed overnight at anything. Refuse the pressure to suddenly get married or make babies or get a job or buy a car or own your house or even landed property. I know this is easier said than done but see, your peace of mind is so important! I say refuse the pressure because if you aren’t careful, you will find yourself measuring your progress with the scale of others’ journeys whereas you do not know all the details that make up theirs. Take some time off social media for a bit if you will. I promise it helps ease the pressure. Because if you can’t see some stuff, then you can’t be envious. Pace yourself out.

Towards the end of last year, I came across this brief thread by @Gbemisoke on Twitter, it had to do with her personal experience and it resonated deeply with me.

See, while you are in your process, people will attain the things you desire  even before you do. Find courage to be genuinely happy for them without malice while you stay in your process of building, trusting and waiting. Because there is the law of seed time and harvest and some seeds take a greater time to grow than others. But by all means nurture patiently till your harvest comes.

As we venture into 2018, here’s a friendly reminder to you to:

  1. Stay in your process. Embrace your journey. Own your process and love it.
  2. Mind your business. Comparing yourself with others will nearly always leave you feeling inadequate. But you don’t even know what makes the other person lose sleep at night. Every rose garden has got its thorns.
  3. Take care of your mental health. Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking depression isn’t a thing. Be deliberate about what you feed your mind with and the people you let into your space.
  4. Invest in a journal. If you use an iPhone, try the DayOne app. It is so efficient for documenting your journey and for measuring growth. iPhone or not, invest in a journal and be dedicated to it. You can thank me later.
  5. Embrace an attitude of gratitude for all that you have while waiting and working for all you desire.
  6. Choose to be happy. Be deliberate about this. Indulge in your favourite past times on occasion. Choose your happy. Do not leave that to chance.
  7. Set SMART goals and be strategic and deliberate about executing them.
  8. Consciously reject pressure brought on by the experience of others. It can be such a drainer.

The New Year is a marathon and if you know anything about running, you’ll agree with me that you don’t use the same pace for a sprint as you would a marathon. Again, pace yourself out, be deliberate about your journey and enjoy your process.

May the New Year be kind to you, but more importantly, may you be kinder to yourself in the New Year.

Love, Light and Good Vibes only.

@Oge_writes