Monday, January 15, 2018

2017 Recap and 2018 Action Items

Image result for happy new year 2018 
 Welcome to 2018 everyone!

I hope you're excited for what's in store this year.


As I did at the beginning of last year, I'll be sharing a recap of my 2017 experience and plans for 2018, via "themed categories", with updates on 2017 action items I had and what they are for 2018.

TRAVEL


2017 Action Items
  • Travel to at least 3 additional states within Nigeria (outside my home base)
    •  Achieved
      • Lagos: She Leads Africa SLAY event
      • Jos: FUN-related wedding matters with friends, food, and shisha :)
      • Sokoto: work-related matters to supervise project implementation
  • Travel to at least 2 African countries 
    • Overachieved
      • Niger Republic (work)
      • Liberia (work)
      • Sierra Leone (work)
      • Chad (work)
      • Kenya (PURE FUN:)
2018 Action Items
  • Travel to at least 3 additional states within Nigeria I've never visited
  • Travel to at least 2 countries outside of Nigeria   

MONEY

2017 Action Items
  • Create and stick to a strict monthly budget
    • 75% Achieved 
      • What can I say? Some months come with unforeseen demands
  • Document my weekly expenses and review monthly
    •  75% Achieved
      • On average, I was pretty good with this; could've been better
  • Get disciplined with tithing
    • 100% Achieved 
      • Finally! 
2018 Action Items
  • Stick to a strict monthly budget
  • Document my weekly expenses and review monthly 
  • Remain disciplined with tithing

FAITH & SPIRITUALITY

2017 Action Items: 

  • Reignite my awe and reverence for the beauty and magnificence of God and how He operates in my life (His grace, His mercy, and His blend of justice)
    •  50% Achieved
      • If I'm honest, in the second half of the year I  had many days where complaints and a lack of gratitude took over instead
  • Daily gratitude journal: write 5 things I'm grateful for at night before bed
    • 50% Achieved 
      • Started strong in the first half of the year; dropped off afterwards
  • Give more empathy, forgiveness, and energy to name a few things
    • 75% Achieved 
      • Made a conscious effort to do this; could have done even better
2018 Action Items
  • Start and end my day with "thank you"
  • Give more empathy and forgiveness to others 
  • Give less energy to worry 
  • Say "NO" to toxic, waste-my-damn-time, not-good-for-my-blood-pressure relationships (especially the one I've been prone to have with myself)

BLOG / POSTS

2017 Action Items
  • Upload a post at least once a week (48 in total)
    • 48% Achieved 
      • Kai! 23 out of 48 expected posts (*covers face with hands*)
      • Do work-specific posts on an organization's blog count? If so, I can bump up to 56% :)
  • Diversify the blog with posts on varied themes
    • Achieved 
      • Wrote posts on career, money, relationships, and more
  • Revive the "Get Crazy" Series: Steve HarrisKola Olaosebikan, Moyo Mamora
    •  Not Achieved
  • Transfer from Blogger to WordPress
    • Not Achieved
  • "Special Event" coming soon
    • Not Achieved    

2018 Action Items
  • Upload at least 48 posts in 2018
  • Keep the post topics diversified
  • Finally transfer from Blogger to WordPress
  • Finally hold the "Special Event"  in January -- super excited about this one!

READING

2017 Action Items
2018 Action Items
  • Intentionally read EVEN MORE

There we have it folks, my 2017 at a retrospective glance and a snippet of my 2018 plans. 

Cheers to 2018 being a year filled with more genuine love, laughter, learning, fulfillment, and over 90% of action items achieved for us all :)

What were some of your highlights and misses of 2017? What's one major thing on your action items list for 2018?

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Thursday, December 28, 2017

"Perhaps, This Is Too Much For You"

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When I was in my senior year of high school, my class went on a "survival trip". It was a tradition in my school for seniors to be taken out of town for one weekend in their final semester to engage in challenging physical activities to test our endurance. One of those activities was to embark on a 3-hour hike up a mountain...carrying another person on our backs.
 
I'm sure you can imagine my excitement. By hour one, I was panting and not amused -- similar to how my fellow classmate "carriers" felt. And just as I was about to stop and look for a way down, something funny happened. 

Our field guide for the day, a 50-something Venezuelan mountaineering instructor, who was also on the trail, said "Perhaps, this is too much for you."

All of a sudden, my classmates who were clearly tired and frustrated all replied back in unison "No Sir. This is not too much for us."

I was shocked.

And then the guide yelled "Are you sure? Perhaps, this is too much for you!" 

Like a chorus, the entire class replied "No Sir! This is not too much for us." 

Still shocked on my end.

And as if he was enjoying taunting us, he yelled for the third time "Are you really, really sure? Perhaps, this is too much for you!"

For the third time, everyone yelled again, "No Sir! This is not too much for us!"

The guide then looked at us, smiled, and continued up the path in silence. 

With renewed excitement and energy, our class continued up the mountain cheering each other on and eventually made it to the top, where everyone fell down in joy (happy to drop our "baggage") and hugged each other for a job well done. 

What did I learn from that? On my own, I would have replied to that guide "Yes! This is too much for me." Before nko? 

But, because we were a group of classmates made to endure this experience together, we found strength in each other (even though individually we were limited) and were able to overcome the obstacle as a team...which meant the challenge wasn't too much for "US".
 
This was a big lesson I was reminded of this year. Cheers to remembering it as we move into 2018 :)
 
How about you? What lessons stood out in your life in 2017? 
 
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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Terms of Harassment

Harvey Weinstein, famed Hollywood producer, has been a hot button topic of U.S. media coverage recently thanks to more than 40 sexual harassment and rape allegations against him by multiple Hollywood and non-Hollywood actresses (Rose McGowan, Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, and more). 

If you never knew of Harvey directly, you probably knew several of the films he produced -- My Week with Marilyn, Gangs of New York, Shakespeare in Love, Nine, etc

This recent story got me thinking about how varied our perceptions can be about what is rightfully classified as "sexual harassment" or "rape" and how we respond as a society. Considering last Wednesday, October 11 was International Day of the Girl Child, it feels appropriate to be discussing this now. For organizational purposes, this post is divided into sections: Definitions, Problems, and Solutions

DEFINITIONS
Sexual Harassment
"Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when either: the conduct is made as a term or condition of an individuals education, employment, living environment, or participation in a University community."

Rape
"Unlawful sexual activity and usually sexual intercourse carried out forcibly or under threat of injury against the will (usually of a female) or with a person who is beneath a certain age or incapable of valid consent."

In some situations, it's easy to identify that one of the above has taken place. When a person makes a sexual pass at you and you respond with an immediate exclamation of "NO" or try to push the person aggressively off or attempt to walk (or run) away yet they inhibit you from leaving by holding you forcibly against your will, pinning you down, and touching your body parts / having non-consensual sex with you -- it's clearly in line with sexual harrassment and/or rape. 

PROBLEMS
Blurred Lines 
In some situations, miscommunication plays a dangerous role. When a person makes an overt sexual gesture towards you and you respond with laughter, flirtation, no verbal request for it to stop, and no physical attempt to move the person away or leave, that often times sends the message that you find the action acceptable and would like it to continue, whether that is actually the case or not

Power Positions
There are many instances when women don't speak out about sexual assault or rape because they feel powerless. As was the case with most of Harvey's alleged victims, the assault happened when they were young, upcoming actresses looking to make their mark and Harvey Weinstein was one of those guys that could literally "make or break" their careers -- at least they believed so. They did not feel they could afford to fight Harvey or report him to the authorities because in their world, he was a "powerful don" who nobody crossed. This is not limited to Hollywood. On a daily basis, many women find themselves in positions where they feel powerless and subject to the actions or abuse of "powerful dons". 

Culture of Silence 
There is no doubt that people in the Hollywood circle knew of Harvey's exploits -- some of the allegations go as far back as two decades ago. I believe the same is the case for other well-known individuals that have been accused severally of assault and rape charges; Bill O'Reilly, Bill Cosby, Woody Allen, Roger Ailes, etc. There is a "culture of silence and cover up" that tends to happen around prominent assaulters (especially in cases like those of the men I mentioned above) when they're deemed to be brilliant and creative minds so people choose to focus rather on the great work they put out into the world and not the great devastation, pain, and torment they equally unleash on women (and sometimes men) in the world. Again, not limited to Hollywood -- happens in many environments. 

SOLUTIONS
Clarity
If you don't want something sexual to happen between you and another person, you have the right to say "no" -- either verbally or with your actions. It won't always be the easiest thing to do and there can be undesired consequences that come as a result of that, however it is 100% your right to say "no". If you choose to exercise that right, you can always find peace and integrity in your courageous act to do so, regardless of the consequences or what anyone has to say. 

Empathy
When someone (female or male) has enough courage to speak out about an assault or rape, LISTEN to the person. Don't take a mocking or dismissive stance -- don't violate the person all over again by disregarding or shaming them (which sadly women sometimes do to other women). Regardless of if you feel they dressed inappropriately or gave the wrong signals or put themselves in a precarious position, start with empathy first and then caution second. Don't forget, it could happen to anyone -- me, you, a sister, a brother, a daughter, a son, and/or a friend. 

Solidarity
You might not feel that you are powerful enough to greatly help a person that has been assaulted or raped however there are more ways than one to help; from being a safe, listening ear to recommending a sexual assault / rape counselor to sharing your own story of victimization with the person, you can help. Actress Alyssa Milano started a new hashtag movement on social media a few days ago called #METOO and has asked all her social media followers that have ever been sexually assaulted to also post the hashtag on their accounts to show how widespread the state of sexual assault is and provide a community of support for women (and men) that have gone through this -- that's one way to help. 

Since I'm running the risk of making this an unreasonably long post, I'll stop here. I haven't covered all aspects of the Problems or the Solutions however, I wanted to point out at least some of them -- if you have any others to mention, let me know in the comments section below and we can continue the conversation. 

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Friday, September 29, 2017

When People Show You Who They Are, Believe Them

"When people show you who they are, believe them." - Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou is one of my favorite people that I never had the opportunity to meet. As a fellow woman, her evident sense of self-worth and value inspired me...and still does. As a fellow storyteller, her way with words (through her books, poetry, etc) was something quite brilliant yet simplistic, in a style that I greatly respect. 

This particular quote of hers reminds me of another saying that goes "when you meet someone for the first time, remember that who you will be meeting is in fact the person's representative." We all like to put our best faces forward when we initially begin a relationship of any sort (personal or professional) however as time goes by, and we are placed in changing circumstances or environments, some of the not-so-expected characteristics start to surface. Here are 4 things people show you about themselves and ways you can easily identify that to be the case. 

When People Show You They Love You
They're present in your life. They're constantly thinking of you and make it known. They pray for your development, growth, strength, and joy. They remain consistent in their loyalty towards you. They're champions of yours in private and more so in public, even if it is inconvenient or unpopular to do so (which is actually when it counts the most). They're there to laugh with in great times and also to cry with in not-so-great times. They provide a safe and trustworthy space for you to be exactly who you are -- for better or for worse. They challenge you to always become a better version of yourself, even if it means risking annoyance or resistance from you. These people are a gift and thank God always for them. 

When People Show You They Only Intend to Use You
You're not a factor in their lives until they need something. They will not typically ever pick up the phone to call or text and if they do, 9 out of 10 times the conversation will eventually lead to asking for a "favor". They do not invite you to outings or gatherings. They do not usually reach out in any form on your birthday (call, text, Facebook message, etc). They do not check in when you're sick. They do not have any genuine concern for your wellbeing. Don't take it personally -- be grateful they've made it plain and adjust your expectations of them accordingly. 

When People Show You They're Jealous of You 
The actions are simple enough to understand. They criticize your every move. They diminish almost everything you accomplish as "less than". They're super competitive with you about everything. They're not happy to hear good or positive news regarding you. Sometimes, they'd prefer to hear you're going through "rough times". Again, don't take it personally -- it's one of those human emotions that has a way of showing up at different phases in life due to insecurities people are dealing with at a given point in time. Empathy goes a long way in such cases; however, if it becomes unbearable, some "distance" also goes a long way too.

When People Show You They're in Pain 
They're distant and withdrawn. They're not as lively as they used to be. They can be overly emotional and get irrationally angry or upset about almost anything you say or do. It can be frustrating to deal with however, this is actually when they need your compassion the most. This is when you can choose to show concern, provide a trustworthy listening ear, and offer potential solutions to ease their pain...or not; the choice is yours. 

Don't get it twisted folks -- people are always showing you who they are; you just have to pay attention :)

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Saturday, September 9, 2017

The Remarkable and the Mediocre

In University, each student has a major (or concentration) and there are prerequisite classes required to qualify for advanced courses and transition from one grade level to the next. Let's apply that model to the "remarkable" and the "mediocre" ones. 

To qualify for "remarkable", the following prerequisites apply:

1. genuine interest in the subject area or field we operate in daily

2. consistently acquiring new knowledge about that subject area or field  

3. continuously applying acquired knowledge to improve the quality of products, processes and systems related to that subject area or field

4. confirmation that the "WHAT" of our life (activities, creations, plans, and goals achieved) are in alignment with the "WHY" of our life (purposeful way we know we're gifted to impact our world and those in it) 

5. constant fulfillment and joy from the daily "WHAT" of our life  

To qualify for "mediocre", the following prerequisites apply:

1. lack of interest in the subject area or field we operate in daily

2. no desire to acquire new knowledge about that subject area / field (or any other)

3. no application of knowledge to improve subject-related products, processes and systems

4. 100% misalignment between the current "WHAT" and actual "WHY" of our life

5. no fulfillment or joy from the daily "WHAT" of our life  

We all have the capacity to be "remarkable" however we don't always meet up with our prerequisites. Ironically, many times we incorrectly consider ourselves to be on the "remarkable" track when that's really not the case. The "remarkable" prerequisites are a combination deal -- all 5 prerequisites are mandatory. 

If our life's "WHY" and "WHAT" are in alignment yet we don't continuously learn about our fields or apply newly acquired approaches and knowledge to improve the things we do, then we're on a "mediocre" journey. On a similar note, if we're continuously toiling away to invest time, energy, knowledge, and sleepless nights into "WHAT" we do / create yet it doesn't truly interest us or bring us fulfillment & joy or give us a clear sense of "HOW" we're purposefully impacting our world through it, then we have not succeeded and we're also on a "mediocre" journey.  

So, the next time we look at our lives, let's pay attention to which category of prerequisites listed above we're living out -- are they leading us on the road to "remarkable city" or "mediocre town"? 

If it's mediocre town, let's redirect ourselves onto the "remarkable path" by getting the WHAT we do, HOW we do it, and WHY we do it in the right order :)


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Monday, August 28, 2017

Embrace the Suck

" Of all the attitudes we can acquire, surely the attitude of gratitude is the most important and by far the most life-changing." - Zig Ziglar

If I choose to be honest with you, I'd tell you that I've done a poor job of being grateful lately. 

I've done a much better job of being thankless.

When things haven't gone as I've "expected" in recent times, my knee-jerk reaction has been to complain. To whine, to moan, to get moody, and to even lash out from time to time in anger (I apologize to all that have been on the receiving end of that :)

Since that attitude isn't helpful or productive, I'm calling myself out. I'm challenging myself to approach my life, my experiences, and my environment from a "for my good" perspective. This means also embracing when things "suck". 

Not an easy thing to do.  

It requires a painfully (yes, painfully) deliberate effort to accept that all people, actions, and experiences (pleasurable or not so much) that come my way are "for my good" and I need to be grateful for them. Based on that, let me list 5 things I am choosing to be grateful for at this point in time. 

I'm grateful for every undeserved gift I take for granted because they've typically been constant in my life (e.g. my health, my loving and supportive family, true friends that "show up" to share a good laugh or enjoy an outing or discuss ideas or provide a safe, listening ear when life feels tougher than usual). 

I'm grateful for the winds of change because it forces me to become more adaptable, flexible, and open to "new" growth, relationships, and opportunities in my life. 

I'm grateful for failures when they come because it means I have put in effort to produce something and the failures teach me what-not-to-do when I try again. 

I'm grateful for painful wakeup calls that "knock sense into me" when I am on the wrong path or take the wrong action or associate with people in the wrong way at any given point in my life. 

I'm grateful for infinite access to resources (people, books, articles, videos, conferences, etc) that afford me the opportunity to learn more about topics / themes / fields I have personal interest in and provide practical tactics I can use to further develop myself as a person & professional. 

I could go on but then this post might become novel-length :) 

I'm taking this gratitude / "embrace the suck" challenge one day at a time. I don't expect to be perfect at it. However, if I can be consistent in doing this for one day, then I have a greater chance of maintaining gratitude mode the next day, then the next day, and then the next day...and that gratitude will consistently result in joy. 

So, if you find yourself negatively reacting to your life or feeling joyless, you might find this gratitude / "embrace the suck" challenge fruitful for you -- feel free to test it and let me know how it goes :) 

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Monday, August 21, 2017

When Women Knock Other Women Down

 As women, we talk a good feminist game

We say things like "I want every young girl and woman in the world to be fierce, strong, and fearless" or "women should be confident and empowered enough to tell their truth, speak their mind and defend themselves" or "one woman, every woman...we are a sisterhood!"

That's a lot of sweet talk and it sounds delicious to hear, really it does. 

The only issue: talk is cheap.

Throughout my life, God has gifted me the opportunity to cross paths with a select group of women that have served as continual guides, mentors, and champions of mine. To the women I'm referencing: May God bless you with the same love and support you have shown me at every point in life you will equally need it. 

Keeping in mind that such female supporters of women exist, it's only fair to acknowledge the other side of the coin -- women who do not support other women. There are several reasons for this.

Sometimes, it is fear that another woman's presence threatens ones sense of confidence and security so the response to such stimulus becomes mean-spirited words/actions and "adult bullying".

Sometimes, it is a distorted belief that being a "strong" woman is equivalent to intimidating and oppressing younger women who are more soft-spoken or humble or less experienced in one way or another (e.g. in a particular field at work).

Sometimes, it is residual bitterness lingering from being the target of unfair and nasty treatment in the past (e.g. as a new daughter-in-law or as one of the only female employees in a work setting) so it seems justifiable to "pay the nastiness forward" and offer the same ugliness to female newcomers in your environment.

Sometimes, it is a resigned attitude that "it's a man's world" and the only way to get ahead as a woman (in terms of power and prominence) is to operate from a sexist mode, discriminating and showing prejudice against other women. 

The circumstances can be different but the result is always the same -- women getting hurt, betrayed, sabotaged, and devastated by fellow women either within a family unit or at the workplace or within a social group. 

I can easily think of women I've encountered in my life to cast such blame on but that actually won't help. Instead, in a bid to follow the mantra of "becoming the change you wish to see", I'll focus on personalizing this issue. 

My call to action is to consciously remember that the way I daily choose to talk to or treat other women I cross paths with can have a direct impact on their attitude, passion, and level of optimism or pessimism in this world -- which in turn creates a ripple effect on how they treat other women in their lives and honestly, what energy comes back to me thanks to our ever-faithful friend karma

My goal is to remember this enough so that the amount of kind words and advise and gestures and opportunities I offer will exponentially grow and in turn, will mean I leave a legacy as more of a help to my fellow woman and less of a harm

To my female readers, what's your take on the issue? How does feminism and the empowerment of women play out in your lives? 

I'd love to know :)

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