If you want to maximize your enjoyment, please enjoy this sumptuous meal with the sauce to avoid choking on your food and meeting your ancestors mid-meal.
Happy Sunday!! The weather is warm, sky is clear and we can finally go out, albeit with some restrictions. I went to the mall to get a few clothes and when I saw the queue outside the stores, I did a U-turn and said to reminded myself that buying clothes was not an emergency.Enjoying the warm weather at the beach is one thing. Standing in the hot sun in a queue is another. As Nigerians say, I cannot come and go and kill myself.
Lol anyway, although we are approaching the tail end of summer, we still have some time to squeeze in a barbecue or two. So, I figured, why not share this amazing recipe with you?
If you are from Port Harcourt City, Nigeria, then you already know. The last time I went home, I pretty much had this meal every day. On the day of my return trip, I was tempted to get in one more serving but I knew the risk of having a tummy upset was high and I did not want to be sick throughout my 20 hour trip. That would have been a nightmare. Shockingly though, I was almost willing to take the risk. Again, in Nigerian speak, “borrofus will die on the line”. It was either I defeated the meal or it would defeat me.
Anyway, to the dish known as Bole (roasted plantain). This is usually accompanied with roasted yams, roasted fish and of course a nice spicy palm oil based sauce. I hear people in lagos eat their bole with groundnut. I’m almost certain doctors would call that a choking hazard but that’s a topic for another day.
If you want to maximize your enjoyment, please enjoy this sumptuous meal with the sauce to avoid choking on your food and meeting your ancestors mid-meal.
Total Time: 60 Minutes Cook Time : 40 Minutes Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Scotch Bonnet (4 pieces)
Red Onions (2 bulbs)
Palm Oil (1 cup)
Stock Cube and Salt to taste.
1. Pre-heat oven for 10 minutes. Blend onions and pepper coarsely with very little water.
2. Slice the plantains and yams open and brush some vegetable oil lightly on it then sprinkle a little salt before setting on the grill. (I do not have a grill so I used my regular oven. If using an electric oven, line a baking tray with aluminium foil, spray a little oil to avoid plantains sticking to the tray). Make sure the oven is on the grill function at 400 degrees C.
3. Lightly brush fish with oil and season with salt and pepper. Also place on grill or in oven. (Chop fish into 3 or 4 pieces)
4. Place a small pot on the heat and pour in palm oil. When it heats up a little, add pepper and onion blend. After 5 minutes, add a stock cube and salt to taste. Check sauce and add pepper or salt to your taste.
5. Turn plantains and yams over half way through the grilling. After 30 to 40 minutes, it should be cooked.
6. Food is ready to serve.
I hope you try this amazing straightforward recipe. It is so tasty and finger licking good. You won’t regret it.
So, the next time you prioritize a list over love, remember that Christ loved you without requirements. Remember too, that people are not products and many of us are imperfect with broken seals.
Within the last three weeks, I have committed to walking an hour every morning and yet today is the third time I have taken that walk for a plethora of reasons.
I had caught just two hours of sleep before my 6:15am alarm went off and I was displeased to say the least. I rolled over and dismissed the alarm to catch a bit more snooze and it seemed like I had just rolled over and it was now 7:02am.
I tiredly opened my eyes, tapped my husband to remind him we had to walk and then I went out to see what the weather was like. I can’t say a little part of me was not excited when I saw that it was drizzling as it would make for a good reason not to walk today. But I had to remind myself that I committed to the walk this week and so off we went.
An hour thirty minutes later, I am home now from the walk, waiting on my breakfast to be ready and the rain outside has put me into a thinking mood. What am I thinking of today?
Grace! Amazing Grace!
We are not strangers to the line that accompanies most sealed products; “Do not use if seal is broken”. Why? because someone could have tampered with it or perhaps it was never sealed properly and it has now been contaminated.
Surely, I am not saying to extend grace to those products but as humans, we tend to apply the same mindset to our relationships with people.
Thinking about it though, which one of us isn’t broken? Broken by pain, hurt, shame, betrayal, feelings of unworthiness, low self esteem and so much more? In fact, it almost seems like the same things that broke us are the same reasons we put up walls and refuse to associate with people bearing the same brokenness.
I don’t expect anyone to take on the burden of everyone’s pain but we can extend grace.
As a single lady, I remember writing a list for what I wanted in my husband and I know many of us have lists for various things. Sometimes, it is a list for what we want in a friend, a house, an employee or a church and we are so committed to the list that grace becomes foreign.
No one could ever extend grace as Christ does. We could not even fathom God’s grace. Dying for people who didn’t even check one box on his list? Dying for people who spat on and abused him?
We put up walls because someone told us that someone hurt them in the bid to ‘protect our peace’ or ‘protect our space’. But what we are really doing is making ourselves judge, jury and executioner. I am worthy and you are not.
Actually, the world encourages us to be ‘wise’ and avoid broken people. We chant things like ‘hurt people hurt people’ that justify the behaviour. Many times, people are broken through no fault of their own and the least we can do is point them to Christ who heals rather than avoid them.
Imagine if Christ only mingled with us when we were whole enough and good enough for his love. The same people who ask you to avoid broken people would have been the same people criticizing Jesus for dining in Zacchaeus’ house
God has loved us so perfectly even in our deepest brokenness. You know what? He tells us in Psalms 51:17 that he will not despise a broken and a contrite heart.
Even more exciting, he encourages us to bring our burdens and cast them on him in exchange for rest in Matthew 11:28.
We could never extend the same grace that Christ gives but we can emulate him as he encourages us to.
So, the next time you prioritize a list over love, remember that Christ loved you without requirements. Remember too, that people are not products and many of us are imperfect with broken seals.
It is okay to have lists but they should be motivated by love (for Christ and people) and not pride.
Heart to Heart: I’ll love to hear your thoughts. Have you been critical of brokenness?
Who is the boy with the millipede on the head? She said.
There was no boy and there surely was no millipede. My English teacher was referring to me and the said Millipede was the birthmark on the side of my head. I never forgot that day.
For the first twelve years of my life, I was never conscious of my birth mark or the fact that I hated its appearance. To me, it was just a mark and I paid it no special attention.
My mum had told me that it might have been an injury during my birth because it seemed too big of a scar to belong on my baby head. It didn’t really matter if I had the mark while in her belly or got it on the way out. All that mattered was that it had always been a part of me from birth.
As puberty crept in, self awareness and the idea of perfection were at the fore front of my mind and it was in adolescence that I first battled with self esteem based on physical appearance.
Back then in highschool, we began to notice who was pretty or ugly, tall or short slim or fat. We also awaited the promise by our science teachers that for the guys, shoulders would get broad and that the girls would have slimmer waists and wider hips.
Lol, I wonder how much this affected the self worth of many of my class mates and I who waited earnestly for the broad shoulders and wider hips and still continue to wait.
For many of us, appearance has been a large part of how we define and accept ourselves. We have an image of what we ought to look like influenced either by what we learnt at school or what we saw on TV. Instead of accepting ourselves, we fawn at images of people we believe have the template body or appearance.
Like I said, I never forgot my teacher’s description of me. What made it worse was that in my boarding school, the girls were not allowed to grow their hair, so I had to walk around school with my birth mark sticking out like a sore thumb.
When I would have conversations with people, they stared straight at my head like my eyes were at the side of my head. And so, as soon as I finished highschool, all my hair styles were ‘protective’ hairstyles. Lol, it wasn’t my hair getting protected though; it was my birth mark and what was left of my self confidence.
I had to shield my birthmark because I was tired of the undue attention. For you, it could be a mole, a crooked eye, or something else that just makes you feel less than perfect. With all the self love messages that abound today, we are all gradually working out some of the self-worth issues we have struggled with.
It was only two years ago that I decided to start wearing my natural hair and although I still care about the mark, I no longer feel compelled to explain it when people stare at it.
Recently, I was talking with my 6 year old niece and she was surprised to see the mark on my head because I was wearing my natural hair. What’s that on your head she said? I replied saying that it was my birthmark to which she said ‘eww, I hope you’ll cover it for your wedding’. I laughed and asked her why? And then she giggled and said ‘cos it’s disgusting’. Oh dear, it was really hilarious but also showed that she had already began learning what ‘pretty’ or ‘perfection’ should be.
I occasionally still consider removing it surgically but when I think of other things I could spend my money on, I have to encourage myself from within. I still think it gives my hair line an awkward shape but who cares? Just kidding, I actually do. Just not as much as before. And when I take pictures, I have to take it showing my ‘good’ side which is the other side of my face.
Our identities should not be tied so much to blemishes or scars and even when they are, they tell a story of the life we’ve lived and we should not feel less because of them.
How did we decide that one body or face shape was the ideal one? Can we go back to that place of childhood innocence where everyone just had a face and none was judged prettier than the other.
I understand that we are all at different stages in our journey to self acceptance but I hope we all get there some day. Your scar makes you YOU. I have yet to see anyone with the same birth mark as me and even though sometimes I hate it, I have to embrace it.
Remember, we are all made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27) and all things He created are beautiful
Heart to Heart: What appearance issue have you struggled with and overcome or are still struggling with?
If I never understood “Penny wise Pound foolish”, this experience explained it perfectly because if I had gotten my ticket directly from the airline, I would have spent $2,000 at most but ended up spending roughly $8000 because I wanted to save $600.
I am generally a cheap kinda Gal because for starters, I am no millionaire and even if I was, I probably would still love cheap.
When I walk into a clothing store, my eyes look out for those big red signs that say ‘Clearance’ and when I shop online, I filter to Sale or Clearance before I begin shopping.
Similarly, I buy the Equate version of St Ives or Clean and Clear and the Great Value version of Kellogg’s cornflakes or Nestle water because why not? My rationale is that we are paying extra money for the name and I don’t care for the name.
Of course, there’s probably more than the name but that was what I chose to believe and that earned me the nick name ‘Great Value’. Recently though, I have learnt the hard way that being cheap often ends up costing you more.
Last year, I had planned to travel in August and so I got my ticket in January because I wanted it for cheap but then I got it from one of these discount sites and made my destination a city different from where my family lives so that I could save a few hundred dollars.
But what I did not think about was the fact that I would already have excess luggage for my international flight and considering that domestic flights have even lower baggage allowances, I would end up spending the money I was ‘saving’ on transporting my baggage to my actual destination and that’s besides the flight ticket. I didn’t even factor in the stress of leaving arriving at the international airport and then driving through the city to go to the domestic wing in a city I had never lived in.
So while I was discussing my itinerary with my dad, he requested I cancelled the flight and rebooked it to my actual destination. I did that but didn’t get a full refund. I rebooked with another discount company in order to save again. The greatest shocker came in August when I got to the airport and tried checking in only to find out that I could not because I did not have a U.S Visa.
At this point, I could either decide not to travel or buy a fresh ticket. I had not been home in 7 years so I bought a new ticket for more than twice the cost of my initial ticket still on a discount site and I was just so excited to finally be on my way home. You will not believe that when it was time to return from my trip, my new ticket too could not be used when I got to the airport. Because I was making two stops in Germany, I needed a German visa.
I was so upset and disappointed in myself but there was only one choice and that was to purchase a new ticket yet again for twice the price of my original ticket. If I never understood “Penny wise Pound foolish”, this experience explained it perfectly because if I had gotten my ticket directly from the airline, would have spent $2,000 at most but ended up spending roughly $8000 because I wanted to save $600.
Sorry to disappoint you though; that was not the experience that gave birth to this post. It was yet another incident of me being cheap. Two weeks ago, my stove stopped working and because we had just finished with wedding expenses, I went online to look for a cheap stove.
Sure enough I found one for $280 (delivery included) but what was I expecting for that price? Soon after the stove was delivered, one of the burners stopped working while I was cooking and then two days later, another burner followed suit.
Now, I am stuck with a stove that barely works and I still have to spend the money to get another stove that works. This made me think long and hard about my spending choices and ‘addiction’ to cheap purchases and I learnt a few things i’ll love to share.
1. Cheap is not always bad.
When I first went to high school at age 9, I was really careless and because it was a boarding school, I was responsible for all my stuff. However, when I returned every 3 months, my mum would have to take me shopping to replace everything from my cutlery to underwear to shoes and socks since I had lost them all.
Because of that, she decided that until I had matured a little, she was only going to buy the cheap versions of all the things I needed since they would be replaced in three months anyway.
In this scenario, I believe she was absolutely justified because buying the high quality expensive stuff would have been sort of an intentional waste of money considering that they would need replacing in a matter of months.
2. Value is not Cheap.
Nobody intentionally undervalues themselves. If a price is too good to be true, it is too good to be true. If a company offers a product that provides you $1000 worth of value, there is no scenario where it would be priced at $500.
There’s a reason why similar phones are priced differently or different loaves of bread from different companies have different prices. Just to clarify, the value is not always from the product and is often bestowed by the consumers but they go hand in hand. eg Iphones, Birkins etc.
Essentially, the other sellers who listed their stoves for $450 knew that the stoves were worth the price and that someone else who appreciated a deal but was not cheap would buy it. The person whose stove I bought for $280 gave me exactly the quality I paid for.
Truly, I think this is the straw that breaks the camels back. I have learnt the hard way not to focus too much on price but on value.
Heart to Heart: I would love to hear your experiences. Have you prioritized price over value and what did you learn from it? Or do you think price is always key?
I hope you didn’t miss me too much. I was busy getting married last week lol. So this week, I thought to bless you with one of my new recipes. But before that, can you believe I had a covid wedding? I can’t either.
When I tell you that I had my wedding colours, decor, cake design all planned four years ago with my best friends, I am not exaggerating. When my Husband proposed last year, I only had to open up that book which also had a drawing of my proposed dress and refresh my memory.
Interestingly, much of my ideas were still the same. I still wanted a ball gown with an open back and a v-neck. Yeah, we were that specific four years ago. And in all of our planning, there was no part that included a pandemic plan. Today is abut food anyway. I’ll give you the full wedding gist another day lol
The recipe today (as always lol) is simple, straightforward and above all delicious and mouth watering. I made this dish recently and my husband could only have one serving because we had guests so he’s been talking about it all week and so I decided to make it again today.
Lets get to it
Total Cook Time : 60 minutes
Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 45 minutes
Green Bell pepper
Onions (Red, white)
Spices (Ginger, garlic, curry, thyme)
Stock Cube (Maggi)
Wash the basmati rice in warm water multiple times and then leave the rice to steam in a little hot water off the stove.
Dice your onions, scotch bonnet, green onions, green pepper.
Heat up some vegetable oil in a dry pot and then add the onions and scotch bonnet to fry for about two minutes on medium heat. Oil should sizzle once onions is added if it is hot enough.
Add half of the green peppers and green onions. Then add thyme, curry, dry pepper, ginger, a little garlic, white pepper, stock cube and then stir.
Pour in your coconut milk and as soon as it starts to boil, add in the rice, cover pot with foil and then pot cover to keep the steam in. Put stove on medium heat. If the coconut milk does not cover the rice, add a little water. We want to cook the rice with part water and part steam to avoid it getting too soggy. It is better to add more water if needed than to reduce it if the rice gets too soft. Always check for taste if you add more water.
Finally, add in the rest of the green pepper and onions once all the water in the pot is dried and then allow rice to steam for about 10 minutes. Stir rice, check that it is done.
Food is ready to serve.
That brings us to the end of this Yummy recipe. Try it out and let me know .
A couple of years ago, I was getting ready to leave my house for an evening event and I was supposed to get to my location by bus. As usual, I tried to reach for one of my earphones on the reading table in my room.
Because I was already cutting it close to the time of the scheduled bus arrival, I picked up a random earphone and hurriedly dashed out of the house. After settling down on the bus, it was time to plug in the earphones and enjoy some music on my hour-long bus ride.
I took one glance at the earplugs and immediately noticed that one of the ear-plugs looked damaged. It seemed like the part that covered the wiring was trying to come off. This was obviously annoying because one functional ear plug would not be sufficient to block out the external disturbance on the journey.
Anyway, I proceeded to plug my ears and to my surprise, the sound seemed to be coming from the damaged side. I wanted to make sure I was hearing right so I did the earphone sound test lol. Took them out one after the other to verify which of them was working.
My test confirmed my earlier assumption that the ‘damaged’ earphone was the functional one. The one that seemed to be in right shape actually did not have any sound coming out of it.
For the rest of my bus ride, which was probably 45 minutes, I just pondered on the significance of the contrast between perception and reality. Content versus container. Book versus Cover, Ingredients versus packaging.
Out of just sitting there with this realization, there were two things that stood out to me
Do not judge a book by only its cover.
I am sure we can all agree that sometimes the cover tells us all we need to know about the content but in many instances, judging someone or something by the cover can often mislead us to wrong conclusions.
We live in a world that teaches us to fake it till you make it or package yourself in a way that sells you to the viewers but there are many times when the packaging does not tell a true story of the product.
If you ever watched Shark Tank or Dragon’s Den, there were times when the investors would tell the entrepreneurs to change the packaging of the product either because it did not really show what the product was or because it would not stand out on a retail shelf with hundred other similar products.
So, essentially, there are times when a person might look like one thing and actually be an entirely different thing. It requires patience on our part to discover the content and not just shut the door once a present comes to us in an unfamiliar package.
1st Samuel 16:7 says But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or height, for I have rejected him; the LORD does not see as man does. For man sees the outward appearance, but the LORD sees the heart.”
2. Develop your Content or Character.
No matter how much a package is admired, it can only remain for so long in the package. The value is not necessarily in the package but in what is packaged. How many times have you seen what looked like a nice drink and after you opened the bottle and had a sip, you almost wanted to throw up?
Sometimes, people might erroneously judge you as empty but when they get to know you, they realize that there is a lot of value within.
On the other end of the spectrum, if you got something based on appearance rather than value, nothing stops you from going ahead to develop yourself to become worthy of what you’ve earned.
If you got a job position, school admission, or scholarship because you were stellar on paper, you can develop your skills to become of equal or greater quality than what you presented.
2nd Timothy 2:15 says Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
After a good 30 minutes of thinking, I had learnt a lot just sitting in silence and not listening to any music. The sound of my thoughts was enough to drown out the outside distraction which I was initially worried about.
Heart to Heart: I want to hear what you think. Have you ever misjudgedsomeone or something positively or negatively and how did that impact you?
If you live on earth, you know this week was a tense heavy one. In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, protests were organized in all 50 states in America and in many cities across the world. As Martin Luther King said, Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. It was beautiful to see the world come together in unity against a common enemy.
At the same time, issues of rape against women were amplified in Nigeria. A 22-year-old girl was raped and murdered and then a 12-year-old girl was serially raped by 11 men. To say that this is disheartening is a gross understatement. I have been so upset, hurt, disappointed, and afraid as a Black Woman.
While rape and racism have been at the forefront this week, they are certainly not new issues and so some people have developed an apathy and numbness to them. Over the past decade of living in North America, there have been more than a dozen hashtags of black men brutally murdered by police; and those are just the ones that got caught on camera and eventually made it online.
You see, when a global pandemic that has locked down cities and nations becomes a non-issue and people leave the comfort of their homes to protest in proximity with hundred others, it is clear that they have had enough. Racism is a virus that has eaten deep and is hurting non-white communities especially Black Men and Women. To be honest, this protest was long overdue. It was about time we stood up to racism and the systems that have enabled it to grow unchallenged in America and beyond.
Interestingly, even though it seemed like Floyd’s murder was the one that pushed the world over the edge, and awakened a desire for change in many people, a large chunk of people have become non-believers of change because it is pretty much rinse repeat at this point.
Murder, Hashtag, Online Protest…..
Murder, Hashtag, ….. you get the gist
For some reason though, I really believe that this time, it is more than a hashtag. I believe real change is coming. However, I can sympathize with those who have become desensitized to the injustice because they feel discouraged, depressed, or defeated. Perhaps, they have seen this cycle repeat itself one too many times and have decided to play the peace-loving, law-abiding Black Man or Woman who never has to have a run-in with the police. These same people will raise their Black sons and daughters not just to respect the police but to fear them.
They have created what they believe to be a survival tactic that makes them worthy of living if and when they encounter the police. But I can assure you this is no way to live. Nevertheless, I sympathize with numbness.
What I have no tolerance for though, are some other statements people have made over the past week.
I cannot do anything.
Doing nothing is almost as bad as being an oppressor. Staying neutral during oppression and injustice is dangerous because if the light does not shine, darkness will naturally dominate. Now, what does it mean to do something? You do not HAVE to post online if you do not want to, and you must not go to a protest, but you can create awareness through other means, or you can contribute monetarily. That way, even though you might not be physically doing anything, you can empower dedicated organizations to do more.
Philippians 4:13I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
It will still happen again. Blacks and Whites are not equal.
This is one of the worst things you can say as a Black Man or Woman. Imagine what the world would have been like for you if MLK or Nelson Mandela resolved to do nothing. Perhaps today, you would have been walking long miles because you were not worthy of sitting on the bus or even worse, you could have remained educated because you were not eligible to attend the same college as whites due to the color of your skin.
They fought and we gained freedom that moved us further from where we were. It remains our duty to our children and their children to move the goal post even further and hand over the baton when our time is done. Besides, who cares if it changes in our time? We fight today so that our children will not fight and that they can have a better.
Proverbs 13:22A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children.
I am a Christian.
As Christians, we are called to Peace and Love but at the same time we ought to stand against injustice and be a voice to the oppressed.
Isaiah 1:17Learn to do good: seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.
Psalms 82:3Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.
I understand that some of the protests have been violent or people have taken the opportunity to loot and accomplish their selfish desires but that should not hinder us from peacefully advocating for the rights of those who are at a disadvantage in our society. As I said earlier, there are multiple ways to defend the rights of the afflicted. If you are too uncomfortable with publicly doing something, go ahead and open your purse. Make a silent donation. I promise you will be making a world of difference.
To conclude, injustice is an everybody problem. Challenge yourself, friends, affiliate organizations and family members to do more.
I have learnt that courage is not the absence of fear. It is the ability to act regardless and not let the fear cripple you. Sometimes, all you need to do is take the first step.
As a Black person, remember that you are black anywhere and that is a fact that cannot change. Today, it is Floyd and tomorrow, it could be you.
If you are a member of another minority group, stand in solidarity because many of these issues affect you as well.
If you are white, use your privilege to speak up against injustice. If you choose to stay silent and enjoy the benefits of a system that has been designed to favor you, then you are no better than the active oppressors.
Hello friends, summer is approaching, skies are clearer, the weather is warmer and the beaches are open. Isn’t that exciting?
So today, we are talking about food. Yum!! I love to explore when it comes to food and I always joke that my children will not be able to tell their ancestry judging only by their food. I will eat and cook any and every dish from any part of the world because why not?
I also love to whip up dishes with whatever ingredients I have because I am the queen of 20 to 30 minute dishes, especially in the summer time. I generally always eat fresh food so I obviously do not want to stand in the kitchen for an extra hour after a tedious day at work.
This particular dish though, I first had it at a friend’s house. And I loved the dish so much that when I got home, I tried to figure out what ingredients and spices I tasted that made me enjoy it and then I tried to recreate it.
Since first eating it till now, I have put my own spin on it and it is one of the healthy dishes I love to make when I want to have something light.
I hope you try it and let me know how it turns out for you.
This is a simple dish with very few everyday ingredients
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Chicken (seasoned and marinated)
Bell Peppers (optional)
Green Onions (optional)
1 medium bulb of onions
1 Scotch bonnet
Seasoning (Stock cube, curry, thyme, white pepper)
Pour two cooking spoons of coconut oil into a dry pot and allow to heat up
Add in the chopped onions, scotch bonnet, ginger and garlic and stir for 2-3 minutes. Then add in all your seasoning.
Add in your chicken, mix together and allow to cook for 5 minutes.
Add your chopped mushrooms, allow to cook for 2 minutes, then add your coconut milk
After 10 minutes, add your green onions, green pepper and adjust the seasoning to your taste.
If the sauce is too liquid, you can dissolve a table spoon of corn starch in cold water and add to the mix to thicken it up. I like mine a bit thick so that I can use it as a sauce for my rice.
There you have it! 25 minutes and you have yourself a delicious mushroom dish. I always enjoy having this dish and I am sure you will too.
Heart to Heart: In light of all the injustice going on in the world today, what are you doing to ensure that minorities rights are protected and respected? We must speak up! Don’t stay silent in the face of injustice.
I am sure you are wondering what today’s post is about so let me shed more light.
I was having a phone conversation this week and in the bid to describe someone to the person on the other end of the call; she says to me, ‘is it the one with the strange name?’
What comes to mind when you think of a person with a strange name? Are there any names you typically refer to as strange? And why? Do they have weird meanings or connotations or are they just names from people of different cultural backgrounds than yours?
In this case, the person I was trying to describe is of African descent and has a name that reflects that just as the person on the phone had an English name in line with their ancestry. And I seriously doubt they have ever been referred to as strange even by non-native English speakers.
You see, the word strange simply means foreign or unfamiliar and in a ‘pre-bias conscious’ world, it might not have meant much. But in today’s world and sensing the tone of the conversation, the word ‘strange’ seemed more powerful.
It meant an ‘othering’, a differentiation, an alienation, and certainly I was not here for it. So, I rebutted: what strange name? Of course, while knowing what name and who she was referring to. Perhaps, she must have sensed my disgust or disapproval and then made attempts to pronounce the name.
It was not that I needed her to pronounce the name but the fact that she sought to alienate someone without even meeting them because they had a non-English name.
It reminded me of an experience at my place of work where a client did not want to speak with me over the phone because I had an ‘accent’. Yeah, surprise surprise, you too have an accent; albeit Canadian or American.
He asked for my manager and after he explained the reason for not wanting to speak to me, my manager told the client that he was busy and transferred the call back to me. Lol
I am sure many of us have had a similar experience. Some people try to avoid it by coining some European names out of their native names. It’s interesting to see because I can’t tell if we are making room for others to communicate with us or if we are shrinking ourselves into the closet and ridding ourselves of identity.
Sorry to say but I believe it is the latter. As a Nigerian with two English names, I often catch myself rejoicing at the fact that when I submit applications online, no one knows where I am from till I get there. If that is not erasure of identity, I can’t tell what is.
Generally, I find that Africans are more open-minded and benevolent when it comes to learning pronunciations of names and cultures of others. I wonder if its because we have always looked up to a ‘Western Ideal’ or because most of our countries are so culturally and linguistically diverse that you become exposed from a tender age.
Heart to heart: What do you think it is? I’ll love to hear your thoughts.
I hope everyone has had a great week. I was thinking this week about how plans have changed for so many people due to the ongoing pandemic. Besides people being sick and dying, I find that the greatest issue with the pandemic is the uncertainty.
If you are a control freak, like many of us can be, then you want to plan your next hour, day, month or year. But how can you plan when those plans can be changed in an instant due to an ever evolving health crisis.
Guess what though? Uncertainty is not new. It did not start with this pandemic and will not vanish forever afterwards. Some people have put their lives on hold waiting for this to pass while some others are making the most out of the situation.
Are you making lemonade out of your lemons or complaining bitterly about how sour lemons are? How are you dealing with the uncertainty of today and how can you deal with uncertainty when it arises in the future?
Personally, I have learnt a few ways that help me handle it.
Stick With the Big Picture
When you know your life’s purpose, you know your destination and even though we would like to control every single move and everything that happens, it does not always work out that way.
When challenges happen, you are allowed to take detours but focus on the destination. If you’ve ever watched the wacky races like I did growing up, you will know that even though all the contestants had to reach the same finish line, they had different vehicles, they took different turns or detours and met their obstacles at different stages in the race.
The journey was entirely different for all but the destination was the same. In the same manner, focus on your destination (the big picture) and don’t alter your destiny or life’s purpose because of a few rough or uncertain patches but be kind enough on yourself to know that some unexpected turns and detours are often needed to make it through.
In the midst of uncertainty, those who adapt are more likely to excel. Even old dog can be taught new tricks. Is it tougher? Perhaps! But it is surely not impossible. When things are changing rapidly, holding on to rigid ideas of what we have always done is not always the best strategy.
If you have always been a morning person, you might need to be a night person. If you’ve never liked to travel or relocate, relocation might just be the best course of action.
Keeping an open mind and tackling uncertainty with new information and ways of doing things is bound to help you navigate an uncertain turn in life. Old and stuck up ways of doing things will probably leave you frustrated.
3. Secure your peace.
When uncertain situations arise, it is natural as humans to have fears of what could happen and how things could turn out. Many times, uncertainty throws a wrench in our plans and makes us feel like we are not living the life we planned.
The uncertainty is compounded when it is not exclusive to you and you begin to get influenced by the way other people are dealing with theirs. If you are lucky, the people around you will inspire hope and courage in you but otherwise, it could end up becoming a fear mongering situation.
At such times, it is very important to secure your inner peace and not compound the uncertainty with fear because it will only dig you deeper down the pit of despair and discouragement.
4. Focus on the things that are certain
When everything around you is uncertain, the only thing you can be sure of is that only the fate of the dead has been sealed.
If you are alive, then there is a measure of hope you should have from some of the things that you are still sure of. Focus on those things and let the other things be.
No one ever changed their situation by worrying the most but when you consciously live in an appreciation of the things that are still working out, it might be all you need to hang in there until the storm passes.
5. Live in the moment and take each day as it comes.
Similar to the last point, you have to seize the moment. Live in the beauty of each day.
Do not live in denial but choose to magnify what matters. If you are too focused on what is going wrong, you may never notice what has gone right.
Ditch the idea of picture perfect. Life is not a story book where you get to control what all of your fictional characters do. You have to accept that some things will be beyond your control in life but it is part of your journey.
You might get to the finish line with a dirty shirt or a broken leg or maybe you get there unscathed. What matters is that you got there.
Water your lawn and forget about how green the neighbour’s lawn is. Different lives, different journeys and yours is not any less beautiful or authentic because you had times when you were not in absolute control.
Heart to Heart: How do you deal with uncertainty? I’ll love to hear from you in the comments xo