Monday, April 24, 2017

At the end of the day, it's about choices

I recently reread "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost and it got me thinking about choices; the ones I make and the ones made by those around me. 

Choices in response to requests from people -- yes or no

Choices when drawn to a certain action or behavior -- do or don't.

Choices in terms of opportunities that present themselves -- take it or leave it

Choices in terms of discomfort or risk -- courage or cowardice.

Choices when faced with life's challenges -- laugh or cry.  

I'll reference a choice I made in 2012 that affects my life today -- the choice to start the Deserve Your Great Life (DYGL) blog; a platform to share my thoughts through the art of written storytelling that provides a sense of validation for me / my feelings and for several of you / your feelings. 


To lead some people closer to living as more courageous, vulnerable, purposeful, and empathetic versions of themselves (I say "some" because my goal is not to reach everyone). 

It's the reason I chose to start DYGL in 2012 and why I still maintain it in 2017. It's the reason I still get led back to share posts despite my "disappearing acts" of 1-2-3 months at a time. It's the reason why I still keep the blog updated despite the possibility that several people might find my posts tiring or boring or nothing new. 

I'll keep finding my way back to DYGL for as long as I believe it serves a good purpose and impacts some people positively. If I don't believe that anymore, I'll stop. 

Now apply this to your life and the choice you made, recently or long ago, to start or build something of purpose and impact (it can be a product/service or a business or even a relationship). You might be feeling tired. You might be getting a lot of opposition, from your own mental dialogue and / or other people. You might be questioning the wisdom of your choice. You might be ready to throw in the towel. GOOD. It means it's time for a rethink

Does it (whatever "it" may be for you) still serve a good purpose? Does it still have positive impact on yourself and others? Does it still produce joy and fulfillment within you?

If the answer is yes, feel free to continue with the choice. If the answer is no, feel free to make a different choice. 

At the end of the day, the results / outcomes / consequences we experience the lasting effects of in our lives have our choices at the heart of the matter. 

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Saturday, March 11, 2017

15 Questions with Adaeze Obiako (Part III)

Happy Saturday, folks :)

Here's the third post in the "15 Questions with Adaeze Obiako" series; with questions in pink and answers in blue. Read, enjoy, and leave your answers to the questions down in the comments section below. 

Q1. What's the best advice you'd give your friends?
A. Always be willing to forgive. 

Q2. What's one super attractive quality in a man?
A. Attentiveness -- knowing that he truly listens to what I say, shows concern for my interests, and actively helps me focus more on my strengths than my insecurities is too wonderful to fully explain in words. 

Q3. What's one song you'd probably be caught dancing alone to?
A. Dancing with Myself by Billy Idol.

Q4. What's your favorite board game?
A. I really like Ludo -- super ol' school, I know. 

Q5.What's your favorite holiday?
A. I'll go with Thanksgiving. 

Q6. Heels or Flats?
A. Flats, of course. 

Q7. If you decided to master one instrument, what would it be?
A. The Piano

Q8. What toppings do you love on your pizza?
A. Pepperoni, mushrooms, and black olives. 

Q9. On a scale of 1-10, how excited are you about life right now?
A. Hmmm...I'll say an 8. 

Q10. What's one thing you hope you won't be doing in 10 years?
A. Stressing about life -- peace is the most delicious luxury I pray I get to move through life with. 

Q11. What's one habit you might want to stop?
A. Moving my arms / hands a lot when talking. 

Q12. What's your favorite wine/liquor?
A. Moscato. 

Q13. What are you completely bored of right now?
A. Frenemies. Let's be clear, either we're friends or we're not...the in-between situation is tiring and energy-consuming. 

Q14. If you could teach one subject in school, what would it be?
A. I don't want to limit it to one; either English/Creative Writing, Psychology, or Sociology. I loved them all when I was back in high school and Uni. 

Q15. What's one piece of advice you'd give your 15 year old self?
A. "Speak up in class more, Ada; you have an opinion and it's worth sharing"

Saturday, March 4, 2017

STORYTIME: When My Cousin and I Got Mistaken for Hookers

This is a funny story. It was funny to me then, and still gives me a good laugh when I think of it today.  

It was back in my high school days when my family and I were living in Caracas, Venezuela. I was taking a drama class at the time and one of my assignments was to watch a play at the local theater and write a review paper on it. My older cousin Emma and I decided to catch the 7pm showing of the play that coming Saturday. When Saturday rolled around, we got ourselves ready and headed to the show. Although I can't remember the name of the play, I can remember that it was a wonderful show. My cousin and I both enjoyed it and considered our outing a "win" activity for the night. 

Once the show was done, we walked out of the theater and went in search of a cab to take us home. We walked around for 15 minutes looking for a taxi but couldn't find one in sight. As we decided to walk down a different street to see if we'd have better luck getting a ride there, we ran into 2 guys walking up from the opposite direction. They were both Venezuelan, college-aged, and looked a bit tipsy. They smiled at us and my cousin and I happily smiled back because after all, they were pretty cute. And then one of them said in Spanish, "Ambos estan muy bonita. Cuanto cuesta?" This translates to "You're both very pretty. How much?" My cousin and I were initially confused. How much? So, my cousin asked "Que?" , which means "What?" 

He then went ahead to repeat his statement, with his pal chipping in this time. "Cuanto es para ustedes dos por una noche?" Also known in English as, "How much for the two of you, for one night?"

After that question, it dawned on my cousin and I what they meant and our immediate reactions were quite different. I burst into laughter. It was the most absurd, unexpected thing to happen to me. Did these guys really think we were prostitutes and did they really just try to buy us for the night? I couldn't help but find this the funniest occurrence ever and I just kept laughing. My cousin on the other hand was not nearly as amused. She started yelling at the two fellas and had a few choice words for them. They both looked pretty confused by, unsure why she was screaming while I was laughing. Luckily, a taxi was driving up the street as this encounter was taking place and we quickly motioned with our flailing arms for the driver to stop. Leaving the guys still standing on the side of the road confused, we hopped into the cab and made our way home. During the ride, my cousin and I reflected on what had just happened. Apparently, 2 black girls walking on the street around 9:30pm at night looking for a taxi in Caracas clearly screamed "night workers". Good to know. We eventually made it home, went to bed, and happily moved on with the rest of our lives. 

So what's the lesson behind this story, you ask? 

Since people say or do insulting things on a daily basis, you might find more peace in your life if you just decide to laugh or ignore most of it off -- hopefully I continue to do so :)

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Saturday, February 25, 2017

The One Money Mistake That Keeps People Poor

It's called the mindset of "less".  

The mindset of "less" stems from the belief that you are always at a disadvantage and manifests through the words you speak, the actions you take, and even your body language. It applies to much more than money -- family, relationships, work, physical wellbeing, etc. 

I know it well. I was a willing subscriber to that school of thought not too many years ago, which I wrote about in my post 33 Quotes That Helped Save My Life. It's a dangerous space to live in when your mind is consumed with thoughts that leave you in a slumped, destitute state.

For money specifically, examples of a mindset of less include constantly saying things like "I never have enough money", "I am always broke", "me and money don't get along", "this my poor life na serious matter", and "my pockets constantly stay empty". Another example of a mindset of less includes being extremely stingy with money, never willing to release a single naira or dollar, for fear that any amount you give out ultimately means you are "losing" and leaves you at a loss (I share more in-depth thoughts about "giving" in my post, The #2 Lie you Tell Yourself About Giving). 

From experience, I've learned that taking a negative approach in thoughts, words, and actions when it comes to money is the wrong way to go. Much of how we experience life is based on what we say over our lives and how we act in accordance. Think about it. 

Have you ever noticed that there are some people who seemingly earn "less" yet are constantly able to accommodate their basic needs, meet up with their bills, and still save a reasonable portion of their income monthly? Have you also noticed that there are some people who seemingly earn "more" yet are constantly complaining about not having enough money, not being able to manage their bills, who end up with nothing in savings at the end of the month?

Whether we earn 40,000 naira monthly or 400,000 naira or 4,000,000 naira, our money mindset and vocabulary is at the heart of how we will experience money in our lives. If you want a richer life, you need to develop a richer mindset along with a richer vocabulary. Speak wealth into your life. "I always have what I need", "I have more than enough money in my life", "the more I give, the more I receive". Don't just say the words, believe them. 

Putting a wealthy mindset and vocabulary into practice can work great wonders in your life; conversely, indulging a poverty mindset and vocabulary can make money a depressing topic in your life, no matter how much or little you have. 

So the question is, which mindset will you choose to live from in your life? 

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Monday, February 13, 2017

How To Be: 30, Unmarried, and Pretty Happy

Actress Kate Hudson released the book "Pretty Happy: Healthy Ways to Love Your Body" early 2016. It includes healthy living and fitness tips. I haven't read the book. However, I am referencing it because I did watch a clip of her on one of those late night TV shows a few months back (probably the Jimmy Fallon Show) discussing the book and she mentioned she included "pretty happy" in the title because it's unrealistic to expect to always be happy but if people can find ways to achieve happiness a good proportion of the time, then that's a win. 

Inspired by that statement, and Valentine's Day coming up tomorrow, I felt led to write today's post. 

Disclaimer: You mustn't be 30 to relate to this post; you can be younger or older. I included '30' in the title because that happens to be my age and the best experience I can reference is that of my own.  

Turning 30 last year came with a bag of mixed emotions. On the one hand, I was leaving the 20s clan and chartering unknown 30s territory which can be nerve-wracking when one thinks of common cultural/societal expectations linked to certain age brackets (e.g. a stable job and considerable income in the bank by 25, marriage between ages 25-27, 2.5 kids by age 29, etc). On the other hand, I was excited at the prospect of new beginnings, new experiences (personal and professional), and new levels of gratitude, joy, and peace I believe can come when one wisely moves into their 30s, 40s, and beyond (cheers to practicing more wisdom in my life). 

The one recurring theme that has grown stronger in the minds of family, friends, and myself is marriageWhen will I marry? Who will I marry? Am I even ready to marry? How will my marriage be? I haven't made "getting married" a priority in the past. I haven't dedicated specific prayers or fasting periods towards finding a husband. The reason being that I've never believed having a joyful and worthy life is directly linked to "having a husband". I've also been put off in the past by ladies I knew that seemed to idolize having a husband and getting married so much that they rushed into relationships that were mentally, physically, and spiritually toxic. 

With all that being said, I'm more aware of the fact that if you want something, you should clearly "say" so -- through mindset, words, and actions. I do actually desire to get married, which isn't a bad thing. I desire to have a husband to enjoy and endure the highs, lows, and in-betweens life has to offer. I desire to have my greatest friend and ally manifest in the form of my lifelong companion. To have these, I know there is work to continuously do. I need to embody the characteristics I desire my husband to have -- courage, compassion, empathy, patience, humility, humor, etc.  I need to be more available and open to a partnership and not operate from an "I" point of view ("I should", "I will", "I need to"). I must accept that no man (or woman) is perfect and those who love us are also capable of hurting us, which means forgiveness is a mandate for every successful marriage. I need to be secure in the knowledge that while I continue to hope for the things I desire, I must be grateful and enjoy the life that I have now. 

Although I might not have everything I want in life, I acknowledge that I have a really GOOD life -- family members and friends that love me with whom I share the greatest stories, laughs, and tears when necessary; a passion for writing and storytelling that brings joy to my soul and provides me with an additional sense of fulfillment / validation as a human being; a steady income that affords me the opportunity to take care of my basic needs (food, clothing, shelter, etc); travel experiences and memories that remind me how connected humans all over the world truly are in thoughts, hopes, fears, and our capacity for empathy. I have a good life, am really happy about certain areas, not-so-happy about others, and I choose to be grateful for all of it. 

Think of this in terms of your own life and you might find reasons to smile with gratitude this Valentine's season. Yes, you might be single, unmarried, acutely aware of your ticking biological clock, and afraid of the likelihood of ending up alone, depressed, with a litter of cats as companions. I can't promise what the future holds for you. What I can say is that living in desperation with an inability to enjoy your current life because you aren't married is not the best route. 

Engage in your creative / passion outlets more (photography, sewing, writing, tech startups, telling jokes, etc). Laugh more often. Be compassionate and kind more. Eat delicious food more. Travel, when possible. Every day might not be a happy day and every aspect of your life might not currently make you happy. However, if you critically look at your life and see that you have it rather good in most areas and you're "pretty happy" overall, then you're more on the winning side than you realize...and that is definitely something to smile about 😊😊

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Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Art of Saying "No"

I'm guessing your life is full of people who constantly ask you for some "thing" (money, time, energy, sex, etc). 

It's hard to say no when you're a people pleaser. It's hard to say no when you feel a sense of expectation or obligation. It's hard to say no when you desperately desire to be liked, loved, or validated by another human being. 

Once upon a time, I found saying "no" to be a much-dreaded task; now, I find it utterly liberating. 

To be clear, I don't expect any of us to say "no" to everything -- that would be extremely selfish. To cultivate a spirit of gratitude and generosity, we must also be willing to "do unto others as we want done unto us", which means saying yes to requests and opportunities to serve (volunteering time and energy to varying causes, helping others with problem-solving needs, etc) when possible. The key is learning how to balance your yes or no responses appropriately. 

It's easier to know when to say yes -- a health emergency in the family and money needs to be pooled together for medical bills; a friend applying for new job postings in need of people to list as references on his/her CV; a supervisor asking you to complete a work task clearly outlined in your job description as part of your responsibilities. On the other hand, it can prove much more difficult to know when it is "right" to say no. 

With that being said, instinct is a wonderful thing. 

I have learned to rely on it much more now than I ever did in the past. When someone asks something of me, I usually take a moment to check within myself to determine if my initial reaction is an easy yes and I feel at peace. If I don't and instead feel conflicted or unhappy for a prolonged period about it, then 9 out of 10 times it means I should respond with a "no". I give a great example in the post STORYTIME: How I Almost Got Expelled From University when I should have responded with a no, not yes. 

In many instances, a "no" is required for ones physical, emotional, and mental health / wellbeing. 

The truth is you cannot be everything to everybody; you're only one person. This truth will not always sit well with folks and that is A-OK. There will never be a time when you can please all people; the more you try, the more frustrated and resentful you're likely to become. Now I can't tell you when or when not to respond with a yes or no in your life; however, I can tell you that from personal experience, the sooner you start exercising your "no" muscle, the more courageous and happier you'll find yourself to be, with your sanity intact...ideally :) 

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Monday, January 30, 2017

How To: Survive Getting Fired From Your Job

There are only a few things worse than hearing these three words at the workplace: "you are fired". As a gal whose had the honor of hearing them uttered my way in the past, I can tell you that the experience is not pleasant; however, it is one packed with life lessons that if acknowledged, can prove extremely beneficial to one's path of success. So, for anyone who has recently had to endure those faithful words, I'm highlighting 3 steps in this post that will hopefully provide you some guidance on how to not only survive being fired, but also thrive from the experience. 

Most people don't get fired for "no reason". There is typically an action, attitude, behavior, or combination of all that leads one to getting "axed" by an employer. In my case, it was definitely a combo deal. My firing experience dates back to that fateful time in my life when I was working as a cocktail waitress in a local New Orleans nightclub. It is important to point out that I was miserable at the time. I was not happy to be working there (it was not my dream job by any means) and as a result, my attitude and behavior was poor. I was impolite to rude customers, paid little attention to client requests which meant I mixed up drink orders a lot, and on several occasions refused to clean up the floors at the end of the night when requested to by my co-workers/supervisor. It was no surprise to me that after a few months, I was let go. I did not have the right attitude while working there and my behavior reflected that. Sometimes, a firing is an unfair occurrence; sometimes, it is actually earned. 

There is a silver lining in every cloud. While getting fired from a job can create a sense of financial insecurity and stress (which is understandable since you still have to pay bills and eat), it is important to also look out for the opportunities in every situation -- to develop your skill set or improve your physical and mental wellbeing. When I was let go, I did a few things during my unemployed time period; I started studying my Bible and learning how to hear / listen to the Holy Spirit, I began volunteering at Second Harvest Food Bank in New Orleans 2-3 days a week (working in the kitchen packaging after-school lunches for inner city kids from low-income households), and I also joined a screenwriters meet-up group in the area (we were a group of 6 writers that met once a week to discuss books we'd read on the art of storytelling and critique each other's writing samples to help one another improve our story crafting abilities).

Is there a class, course, or training you can register for during this period to help increase your knowledge and implementation of a particular skill or speciality (e.g. if you are interested in filmmaking, signing up for a screenwriting or directing course would be a great route to take)? Is there a weekly workout class at the local gym you can join to help you get more physically active? Are there personal development books you've been planning to read that you can now pick up and finish? Is there an organization or cause you've always wanted to volunteer your time to? There's no time like the present. 

I know it's painful. I know it seems like a setback. I know you might feel like the wind has been knocked out of you and the future looks bleak from your vantage point. Good news? There is always hope that tomorrow will be better than today. Getting fired from a job does not define your existence unless you allow it to. At first, I felt like a failure when I was fired -- I wasn't even able to keep a simple waitressing job. I allowed myself to wallow in self-pity for a little while (a few weeks or so). Afterwards, I told myself that wallowing was going to keep me in the same spot I already despised and if I didn't do something different, I'd be there for much longer than I'd prefer. So, I began actively participating in my life by taking the steps mentioned above (reading, volunteering, developing my writing skills, etc) and reciting Bible verses and positive affirmations to myself daily (e.g. "For God uses all things to work for the good of those who love Him AND are called according to His Will" - Romans 8:28).

You have the choice to do better -- to have a better attitude when it comes to dealing with people and diverse working environments, to learn more about the industry you desire to be in so that you can eventually position yourself as a valuable asset within it, to work hard when you are assigned a work task or responsibility, and to be grateful for each day God has kept you on this earth clothed, fed, and breathing. You have the choice to get back into the "game" of life more determined and hopefully more skilled than before. One great step to take is actively searching / applying for job openings in your field of interest and attending networking events in your area.  

And there you have it -- my tips for surviving getting fired from a job. 

Have you ever been fired from a job before? If yes, how did you handle it? If no, how do you think you'd handle it? 

I'd love to know. 

Until the next post, folks. 
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