Happy New Year, Ogechi!

This is what happens when you have friends who think the world of you and ascribe the highest value to you.
This moved me to tears and I am so honoured and overwhelmed by this. I am wealthy in relationships and I do not take that wealth for granted.
Thank you!

Seun Odukoya

How you dey?

So because plenty of us have so much to say, ‘somebody’ decided to do this…

Me, I am just watching from the sidelines, hella proud to know someone like you.

Happy New Year, dear.

WHY APRIL 18th is OUR PRIVATE HOLIDAY!

            A Public Holiday signifies a “day off” for “everyone” but not “everyone” observes the spirit of the holiday, because to some it is nothing more than a “day off” work. So Christians celebrate Easter while Muslims enjoy a “day off” and in the same way Muslims celebrate Salah and Christians enjoy the free time. Of course there is an exchange of ram and chicken here and there but all public holidays are in essence “privatized” based on the reason for the season.

We the “FRIENDS OF YOUGEE” (FOY from hereon) declare April 18th today and for all ages to…

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25 Shades of Awesome

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I woke up this morning and I was 25. It’s such an amazing feeling. And I’ll be honest, 2, 3 years ago, I didn’t imagine I would feel this great on my 25th. I thought I would feel apprehension or fear because life was happening too fast or because I hadn’t hit certain landmarks personally but this feeling that I have this morning- it’s anything but negative vibes.

The last few months leading up to today have been great for me. I have found inner peace, contentment and rest on every side. So when I woke up this morning, I had nothing but gratitude for the life that I have, for the numerous people that colour it and for the 25 different shades of amazing that it has been. I can honestly say right now, in this moment, that I have EVERYTHING I want and need and my contentment derives from that.

So because 25th birthday, I’d like to share with you my precious readers, 25 random things about me. Enjoy!

  1. I have such a high energy level, I’ve had people question me about drug usage before because they couldn’t fathom the source of my never ending ginger. It’s not drugs I promise, it’s something in my blood. Lol!
  2. I love dancing. If you didn’t know this, then we probably aren’t friends. Because all my friends have at some point or the other been embarrassed when I suddenly break into a dance in the middle of a street to music playing only in my head. Hehe.
  3. I don’t like jollof rice. I honestly don’t get the hype so I rarely ever cook it. Can count on one hand the number of times I have cooked it in my life and will likely not run out of fingers.
  4. I love travelling. One time I changed my last name on Twitter to Ajala. Hehe. Always in the mood for an adventure.
  5. I love writing so much but I fear that if I had to do it mechanically for a long time that I would get tired of it.
  6. When I do the same thing over and over for a really long time, I get bored and restless. For something to hold my attention for a long time, it must have some dynamic elements.
  7. I can’t work a 9-5 for too long. Again with the restlessness. If I am in the same role or carrying out the same tasks for too long, my mind shuts down of its own accord. But I refuse to see this as a ‘bad’ thing sha. I guess it’s just what it is.
  8. My ideal job would involve a lot of travelling, writing, public speaking and dispute resolution.
  9. My friends are my greatest wealth and I am privileged to have a great deal of them. They always come through and that is why I am so effusive anytime a close one has a birthday.
  10. I’m allergic to honey. This was a weird discovery but honey makes me sick sometimes so I avoid taking it. Still don’t understand how or why that happens.
  11. I have a weird ‘condition’ with my knee. Still haven’t been able to figure it out but sometimes, the knee just twists and gives way and I fall then it twists right back to its normal position. It could happen while I am sitting, standing, walking, running or even lying in bed. The freakiest thing ever. It’s why I gave up athletics on a competitive level. Who knows, I would have probably been at the last Olympics. LOL. But it’s been happening since I was a kid and I have chosen to not let it get in the way of my other high energy activities. And that brings me to my next point.
  12. I am a huge fitness fan. Dancing, running, working out, lifting weights, anything to break a sweat, you name it and I’m in.
  13. My biggest fear is losing the ones I love the most. It’s why I serenade them all the time. Whether publicly or privately. I let them know just how much they mean to me so if I were to ever lose them, I would not have any regrets.
  14. Flowing from that, I have absolutely no regrets in life. If I could go back in time, there is absolutely nothing I would change about my choices. Even the seemingly bad ones have led me to this- a woman I am so proud of. So yeah, no regrets.
  15. My finger nails have two layers. It’s so weird. I don’t even bite my nails. But I peel them sometimes and it’s a little weird to look at. Don’t ask me to show you my nails if we meet. It’s a little embarrassing and I’m trying to keep them as normal as possible.
  16. My faith is the singular most important thing to me. I have walked a few rough roads and I have shared a few blazing furnaces with friends and loved ones. The only reason we came through solidly was because of faith. So it is the singular most important thing to me.
  17. I am firm believer in capacity building. Push yourself, grab every opportunity you get to grow and do not despise any task assigned to you.
  18. My basic motto for life- learn, grow, build capacity, maintain relevance.
  19. Leadership to me simply means service so the few times I have been privileged to lead, it was more a call to service and I wish our leaders shared the same sentiments.
  20. I love long walks. Walks in the park, walks by the beach. Walks anywhere. I’ve been called a professional trekker before. Lol.
  21. I love handwritten letters. It’s the fastest way to my heart.
  22. I love surprises! Getting random, unexpected gifts, a random burst of serenading, surprise visits surprise parties, etc. As long as it’s something unusual and unexpected, you have won my heart.
  23. I don’t know how to whistle a tune. This makes me sad, but I don’t know how to. Each time I purse my lips and try, it never comes out right. The sounds I make are actually laughable.
  24. I love, love, love dogs! Especially puppies. They are sooooo cute!
  25. I love hard and I am such a romantic. Happy is the man who gets to wife me. Hehe.

I just turned 25 and it is abso-freaking awesome!!!

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Sunset at Noon: Peace Like a Fountain

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Dearest Kay,

I miss you. I really do. But it’s no longer a nagging ache in my heart. I think that somehow I have finally made my peace with your passing regardless of all I may have said last year and the year before that. I don’t even know how that happened. I just know that I no longer feel anger or resentment at your absence. Certainly not the anger and resentment and deep hurt that littered the first post I wrote about your death and how our sun set at noon.

But it’s not even just about you. Kess, Ribadu, Bukky; all the young friends I have lost. Somehow peace has come to me and I am thankful for that.

The listlessness and fatigue that usually threaten to drown me in the month of March have been replaced instead with a peace I can’t even begin to describe or explain. Interestingly, I don’t even feel guilty for that peace. I think that holding on to the fatigue in some weird way made me feel like I was still connected to you, because no matter how many years go by, I never want to forget you. I never want you to be a distant memory. I never want to have to dig too deep into the dredges of my memory to find your mischievous smile or the glint in your eyes. It’s been 3 years now and the sound of your laughter has begun to fade in my ears but I earnestly hope I never completely forget it. It’s why I write these every year, to ensure that I never forget.

I went through your Facebook pictures today. Didn’t hurt like I thought it would. I was smiling the entire time and you were smiling back in most of them with those your chubby cheeks I would have loved to pull. I do miss you Kay!

March last year was really rough but this year is better. Never mind that I lost an aunt about a week ago. But I have found strength and peace and I can’t emphasize that enough. I’m wearing a smile as I write this. Maybe because I remember what my dear friend said to me when I went crying to him last year. “Death comes to us all, just make the most of the time you have with those who are still living.” I’m doing my best to make the most of all my relationships and I will not stop consciously investing in them.

Indeed to live in the hearts of those who love you is not to die. So I am thankful that you still live in my heart- you and every other person who has left me on this side of eternity. Spring is here, the flowers are blooming and I have peace flowing like a fountain on my insides.

Forever loving you,

Oge.

2016 Review: Here I Stand, More than Enough

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For the last 2 years, I have consistently shared my personal review for the year on the blog.  2014 was intense, 2015 got better and 2016 has been even more enlightening. These reviews help me monitor growth and progress and I share here in the hope that someone else might pick a thing or two. So here we go again.

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I am excited to write this review this year. And that is because I find it interesting how I went through the year with so many dashes of self-doubt and the occasional question of “what am I really doing with my life?” But somehow, 2016 is drawing to a close and here I am, standing tall, fully content and confident in my realization that I am simply, more than enough.

I didn’t get here overnight though. So I am taking a trip down memory lane to review my journey.

January

Started out a little rough because I carried some baggage from the latter part of December into the New Year. Sigh. I no dey hear word. Launched Hunter’s Game on my blog. The most amazing story I have written, in my opinion. Lol. Results came in for my first semester and they were fantastic. But I was a little discontent. Lol. I can be silly sha. I mean, who sulks when their lowest grade is a high B only because they wanted straight As? Well I guess a lot of people but still, Smh. I started working out at the gym. Yes, there was a hot summer body and it was months of hard work that birthed the abs and strong arms. Hehe.

Commenced my accountability journey with a close buddy and it was the beginning of improved productivity and efficiency for me. Auditioned for a TedTalk for school. I spoke on being imprisoned in Stereotypes and it was amazing. I didn’t get selected but the feedback was positive and incredible. I think that would qualify as my peak of the month. Also joined the choir in church. Didn’t realize how much I had missed singing in a choir. It was a really good decision. Got a writing gig for a TV series as well. Great stuff.

Lesson for the month: Find a handful of people to whom you can be honestly accountable and responsible. They will save your life.

February

More rough edges.

I had my first mock trial competition. Didn’t win but I had fun. Got subtly checked by a girl who apparently thought I was hitting on her boyfriend. First time ever. A very funny something. I just maintained my lane subsequently. I still love my face. Attended the Law Ball and it was amazing. I love dressing up for a good night out, so of course I had fun. Lots of writing combined with school work nearly overwhelmed me but I survived. A few disappointments that made me question my privilege and sense of entitlement. Nothing like some rejection to deflate a big head eh? J

A couple of lows towards the end of the month but they weren’t too bad and thankfully didn’t last too long.

Lesson for the month: Times and seasons, they come and go. Nothing lasts forever so relish the highs and power through the lows.

March

March got off to an incredible start. My awesome, league of his own, truly special friend paid me a surprise visit from Paris. I was just home from lectures that day when I got a message from him that read “from where I’m standing, Aberdeen is a lot prettier than they say.” I squealed loudly in excitement and could barely contain myself. Best day of the month for me honestly. We had so much fun.

But the weeks that followed were not as good. I struggled with more lows. More than a few hard days that seemingly stretched endlessly and were impossible to fight. Then a classmate and friend from my first degree passed on and it was a massive blow. My shock absorbers were ill-equipped for that one. There’s something about the month of March and how it has claimed friends in their prime over the years. I find that really scary.

Lesson for the month: Nothing in life is that deep or that serious. Just do your best then keep your head up, as high as you can, as much as you can, for as long as it takes.

April

Fantastic month. Spring break. Camping trip with wonderful people from 7 different countries. I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world- building camp fires, hiking, finding breath-taking waterfalls, discussing cultural differences and similarities; simply the best.

So I started laughing out loud as I contemplated the experience I’m about to share in this paragraph. I failed an essay I had written in March. First time in my life. I never hessperedit. Didn’t even think it was possible. Ogechi Nwobia, writer of life, couldn’t write an essay on whether the United Kingdom truly had parliamentary sovereignty? LOL. Honestly, what was most upsetting about that paper was the fact that I had put in so much work into it and I had gotten other scholars to review it so I was sure it was perfect. So you can imagine my shock when I got the email notifying me that I had scored a D3. They call that grade a pass but as far as I was concerned, it was a fail. My father wasn’t paying 5 figures of foreign currency for me to be gathering Ds.

I disregarded the email, convinced that it was a typo. Surely they meant to type B3. Never mind that the two letters were nowhere near each other on the keyboard. I was actually on my way out of town to go and groove my birthday weekend in another city when the mail came in so I just ignored it and focused on the groove I had planned. I had a blast. Then I came back and went to pick up the essay on my birthday morning. When I saw the real D3 staring me back in the face, I just became weak. I got back to my flat and cried.

My special ‘league of his own’ friend talked me through it and cheered me up and I eventually went back to the lecturer to find out what I had done wrong so I could fix it subsequently and that was that.

April was a good month in all though. More time at the gym, loads and loads of laughs, lots of dancing and more often than not, a peace that surpassed human understanding 🙂

Lesson for the month: Laughter is music, medicine and food for the soul. Find a reason to always indulge in it.

May

Took my exams in the first two weeks of the month and once done, I snuck back into Nigeria like a thief in the night for the summer holidays. It felt so great to be back after 8 months away but I took the longest time to settle in. The heat was almost unbearable. I had so much fun paying surprise visits to my close friends. Bestie almost passed out when I showed up at her office, Eloho yelped and pretty much bolted out of the waiting room, Mfon squealed like a baby and I was just so happy to be the reason behind the sparkling lights in the eyes of the ones that mattered so much to me.

Meeting up with the rest of the family wasn’t any different. Lots of laughter at dad’s birthday dinner. Made fajitas and guacamole (as per pikin that has gone to learn something new) and dad in typical fashion said “please bring me Eba.” LOL. Gotta love my dad though. He truly colours my world.

A little bit of Ajala-ing here and there. But it was a relatively good month. Then exam results came out. Let’s just say I realized how foolish I was to have sulked over the first result. Hehe. But I was grateful this time. Truly grateful.

Lesson for the month: Relationships are a priceless gift, value each one on its merit and treasure them for all they are worth.

June

Resumed work at my former office. Along with work came some really nice groove. Because I was determined to maintain a balance during the holidays. The Social Prefect tour to Gurara falls was my highlight for the month.

Somewhere in the middle of the month, things took a nosedive. I still don’t understand how I went recklessly from 0-100 but I was crashing dangerously and didn’t seem to care. I think I had spent too many months ignoring some hurt and anger that had been tugging at my heart. It was something I honestly thought I had dealt with but had apparently only just buried. So when I let lose, I barely recognised myself. But thank God for good friends who see through facades, who recognize your struggle and who help restore you to normalcy.

Remember my lesson for January on friendship, responsibility and accountability? Yeah. Seun Odukoya is one of those. Seun saved my life. The restoration didn’t happen overnight but Seun set the wheels in motion.

Lesson for the month: Live one day at a time and by all means, own your bullshit.

July

Lots of meetups and hangouts with my favourite people in the literary circle. Finally met Sally Dadzie. Couldn’t stop gushing. I fall in love with her over and over again, every single time! More screenwriting gigs. Lots of bants and connections with people who had low-key began to matter to me. The evolution of human relations forever fascinates me- how someone can go from stranger to acquaintance and eventually to becoming a core, integral part of your life and daily experiences. More time with the family. We all got together in the same space at the same time for the first time in years and it was amazing.

For no apparent reason, the lows began to return again at the end of the month and I found myself struggling yet again.

Lesson for the month: The strength of your relationships is a function of how much you invest in them. Good relationships don’t just happen, you grow and nurture them.

August

August was an okay month. More writing, more connections with amazing people, more hangouts/grooves, more of all the good stuff generally. Until someone I regarded a friend manipulated our friendship and broke my trust. Certain things are hard to recover from but forgiveness came over time.

Then the countdown to my departure began. Just like that, the summer holiday was over.

Lesson for the month: Our choices often yield unintended consequences so as much as possible, think through them carefully.  

September

Back to school and into a new flat with an amazing woman. Stress-less flatmates are underrated, honestly. Spent the entire month settling in. Attempted taking on a writing gig that was super stressful, I honestly don’t even know what I was thinking when I took it. I walked away eventually, smartest life choice ever.

There were some fun moments mixed with a little bit of drama but it was the harmless kind of drama which I indulged for a little bit before choosing to walk away because I have since learned to be deliberate in all my dealings and to act purposefully.

Lesson for the month: Know your limits. Human not machine

October

Returned with season 2 of Hunter’s Game as the characters would not let me be. Writing it gave me such a high. Lol. Another mock trial competition and this time, we won! I was so excited. New friends, deeper connections, then a magical trip to the Enchanted Forest that brought back childhood memories of Enid Blyton’s books. Sheer joy.

Had a small health scare which turned out to be nothing. Still haven’t gone to see my physiotherapist though. Sigh. I no dey hear word.

October was good generally, then an old crush resurfaced. But I can’t for the life of me fathom why we just have the worst timing. Hehe. Or maybe I can. Some things are just not meant to be.

Lesson for the month: Find pleasure in the simple things of life, that way, they are never too far from you

November

One word- stressful. There were days where I was so mentally fatigued, I really had no idea how I made it through to the next. Made a couple of trips and saw friends I hadn’t seen in 4 years and the timeout was great but I returned to find the stress I had taken a break from still waiting for me. Lol.

November was honestly the most intense month this year. I questioned myself a lot; my plans for the future, my goals, my life choices. Lol. I had a lot of self-doubt and uncertainties and they bothered me greatly. These had been building up steadily through the year and they finally got to a climax where I found myself having no answers and no sureties.

But it was at this point of hitting ‘rock bottom’ that I began to find myself again, slowly. It began with deeper connections with people who held my hands and opened my eyes. It came through my faith in God, a solid reassurance that there is one who sees the end from the beginning and who always goes ahead to make crooked paths straight.

Lesson for the month: You are never alone

December

It’s been a fine mix with mostly all the good stuff.

Got feedback on all my essays, no more Ds, just As and Bs, Yay! Then came the exams where lecturers threw curve balls. But it didn’t matter to me because I had already accepted by this point that the essence of education is not good grades but actual knowledge and skill sets which can be deployed to solve real problems. So what if I’m unable to memorise all the case law? Do I know the general principles of law required to solve the problem? Yes? Then end of discussion. But the process of preparing stressed and stretched me so much, I was glad when it was finally over.

For my highlights, I received lovely, well-thought out gifts from truly amazing friends. Both times, I never hessperedit. Imagine having a delivery man at your door with a package for you when you know full well you didn’t order anything. What made it extra special was, the sender wasn’t even in the country! The second gift was a collection of Enid Blyton books. This actually brought tears to my eyes. Those books mean a lot to me and revealed to me that people who care about you pay attention to all the little details. My friends are thoughtful and kind and I remain eternally grateful for them.

Current status: Enjoying an incredible Christmas holiday with cousins I haven’t seen in over 15 years. Also hanging with old friends, exploring new cities and generally having the time of my life.

Lesson for December: Choose contentment, you are more than enough.

That was my year in a nutshell. My greatest joy was discovering how much writing I did this year which was infinitely more than I did in 2015. Yay for growth! My biggest lesson was finding personal contentment as well as staying in my process. The ideal life I want for myself will not happen overnight so I must stay in the process and build gradually. I seem to keep ‘learning’ this lesson every year. Lol.

For 2017, my plan is simple.

  • Live vivaciously but make responsible choices.
  • Read a lot more.
  • Travel some more. My goal is to visit at least 4 new countries. A girl can dream no?
  • Throw fear out the window and choose love, peace and happiness.

How about you? How did your 2016 go and what are your plans for 2017? Please share in the comment section. Enjoy the best of the holidays!

I remain loyally yours,

@Oge_writes

 

For Wukeh; The Gift that Keeps Giving

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“Ugee, my time is yours, use it. Use me.”

I received that blank cheque some time back and every single time I have had to cash in on it, it has never bounced. Such is the beautiful and rare gift of friendship I have with this amazing human. Wukeh, the gift that keeps giving. This kind, warm, spirited, supernaturally intelligent, effervescent human being. Although I am often tempted to doubt his humanity sometimes, then he pushes himself too hard and his body chooses to remind him that it is just flesh.

I have been good friends with Wukeh for about 4 years and in all that time he has only shown me love, loyalty and solid support. What I find most intriguing is the fact that I am not the only recipient of the magnanimity of his heart. It is not even a question of where 2 or 3 are gathered either. I am almost certain that Wukeh has over a thousand personal connections wherein he gives 110% of himself and I will never know or comprehend how he is able to do that. But those who know, know.

I can’t even begin to recount the number of times Wukeh has come through, especially when it mattered most. All the words of wisdom, the reassuring conversations in my moments of doubt and despair. The uninhibited humour in his words and manner that crack me up for days or leave me grinning from ear to ear hours after a phone conversation. There are so many stories to share. But one that immediately comes to mind as I write this is when I received feedback on my first assessed essay a few months ago. I picked up the paper with the D3 written boldly and I walked dejectedly to my flat thinking of how I had failed myself and the entire world. I sent one message to him and his first response was “Congratulations, ‘D’ stands for determination.” I didn’t even know when I started laughing. Then he called and encouraged me for about an hour, reaffirming faith and emphasizing the most important thing about education being learning and not necessarily cramming and passing. Of course when I made an A in my last essay, you can imagine who one of the first people I contacted was.

Or do I speak of the period I was crumbling under deadlines and battling inefficiency, one message to Wukeh and he recommended I read Essentialism. (You should read that book too. It will change your life.) I did as he said and my productivity multiplied. Or do I speak of how we became accountability partners and knowing that I was accountable to someone made me so much more responsible with all my tasks and weekly goals.

I have learned so much and shared so much with Wukeh, it is all too incredible for words. Always, he offers a new and refreshing perspective, a fresh idea, an alternative approach and a generally more efficient way to live life and get things done.

And it hasn’t always been about work. We have had the most fun together, turning up across different cities. I recall the one time he paid me a surprise visit in the ‘Deen and I was beside myself with excitement. Wukeh is a burst of sunlight on a cloudy day, a breath of fresh air in a dreary space and a sliver of hope in the most despondent of situations.

I tell myself that Ephesians 2:10 is my personal anchor scripture, the foundation upon which I do all that I do when it comes to human relations but Wukeh is totally Ephesians 2:10 goals. He lives that scripture like it was written with him in mind and I am absolutely inspired by it.

Wukeh is that one person that will tell me to jump and I will take the first leap before asking how high. For him I would go above and beyond, over a cliff even, he has earned it. And because there is precious little I can give in return to this superhuman, I have resolved in my heart to continually replicate the kindness and love I have received from him towards other people.

Today is Wukeh appreciation day. So thank you Wukeh, for your kindness, for your wit and charm, for your wealth of wisdom which you so graciously dispense, for your humility, for your drive, for your dreams, for your spirit,  and above all for your essence. I earnestly pray that you never lose these. You my dear friend are everything. You are truly legendary.

I am wealthy in relationships and you, Wukeh are unarguably the largest share in that wealth. Dearest, I love you, fiercely, and I am eternally grateful for the gift of you that keeps on giving. Always for you, above, beyond and over a cliff.

Happy birthday my darling.

His Laughter…

I miss hearing the sound of his laughter. It’s one of the most beautiful sounds in the world, second only to that beautiful whirling sound the atm makes when it is bringing out a wad of cash. I am seated in class, paying attention or trying to pay attention to my Ethiopian lecturer talk about the United Nations and it’s General Assembly when the sound of his laughter randomly comes to my head. And I realise just how much I have missed it. 

I haven’t heard him laugh in ages. It doesn’t exactly mean he hasn’t been laughing. It just means I haven’t been an active part of it. Beyond that, it’s only a reminder of the massive gap distance has wedged between us. So even though we text chat, I remain unable to watch his face break into creases and his eyes twinkle as he laughs loudly and wholesomely. 

He will read this. And he will know it’s for him. Or not. Hehehe. 

Hey mister, I miss the sound of your laughter 😊

My List of Ten

I am simple and easygoing. Because life is too short to not do the fun things we love, because nothing in life is that deep, because always, always keep the peace, no drama etc etc.

So Seun wrote his list of ten here and asked for people’s list of 10 favourite things so here’s mine, in no particular order.

  1. My mum. Goes without saying. She is everything.
  2. Relationships. Family, friends and the BFFs. I am a huge people person. Easy to tell huh?
  3. Adventure. Whether I’m hiking, taking a road trip or discovering a new city, I love adventure. I am a big nature girl.
  4. Physical fitness activities. Working out at the gym, dancing my little behind off or running. Those are my happy moments.
  5. Everything Seun Odukoya; one of my favourite people in the world.
  6. Music. Yanni.
  7. Laughter. I love to laugh and I like to make people laugh.
  8. Stories. Whether written by me or other people.
  9. Conversations in Igbo with DK. The best.
  10. Red wine. Specifically Rubis or Kagor.

To be honest, this was hard to compile. I probably have a list of 100. But I’m curious about yours. Share your list of 10.

Enjoy the weekend!