03 Dec

How to Rock the School Run

You dash out of the house cradling your coat, your brown belt, bronze lipstick and bag. You snatch #4’s coat out of his little arms as he struggles to walk with his lunch bag and rucksack. You get into the car to discover you left your phone plugged in by your bed. That’s when you nearly trip as you bound up the stairs to retrieve it. You tell #4 to put his seatbelt on, wonder why your annoying neighbour chose to shout her greeting today rather than say it, do a quick 180 degree spin of the car and leave a cloud of dust behind.

You ask #4 what lessons  he has in school today while mentally searching for the person you offended that has now cursed caused you to end up behind the Peugeot 205 that’s driving as though it’s in a parade of some sort. This appears to be a deliberate ploy to rile you. But you resist the temptation and hold on to your joy as you drive. Slowly. You grit your teeth- a mixture of irritation and relief as the car pulls to the right. Now you are left to nurse the guilt that’s rising like bile at the realisation that the driver is a pensioner. Anxious thoughts of ageing start to cloud your mind- but you push those out too. Because you know if you don’t you will begin to recall foods that cause ageing. You’ll remember the last thing you had for breakfast yesterday. Bread. You ate bread with a slab of butter and sliced mushrooms and scrambled eggs neatly arranged on like they do at Carluccio’s. Did you not say you’d stop eating gluten and dairy? You will then begin to make new vows to change your diet and start exercising again. So you refuse to think about ageing. And health. And looming changes in your appearance. You don’t imagine your mostly black hair becoming mostly grey. You choose instead to chat with #4 by answering his random question; “how does a woman know when she’s meant to have a baby?” Not so random really as you’ve just gone past the heavily pregnant mum who was due to have her baby last week, and you just exclaimed ‘the baby still hasn’t arrived!’

Your left hand rummages through your bag for your eyeliner which you are sure you threw in as you left the house, the green shoulder bag your friend Aji bought you from Spain.

You drop off #4 after a failed attempt at kissing him. He says he just doesn’t want a kiss when you ask him if he’s okay. He says it with a small smile. You remember his teacher’s words last parents evening, that he is a ‘very factual’ boy, he is not dreamy. You smile at God’s blessing as you release him from your grip and rush to the car praying the traffic warden hasn’t showed up with his oversized uniform and parking ticket paraphernalia.

Off you go for your first appointment of the day following the school run. You are accompanied by the songs of India Arie and presently being stirred up by the words;

” You inspire me the way you make me feel inside is amazing
Your honesty your artistry is engaging
You are everything I hope to be”

You take in the ‘rolling hills and glowing trees of Kent. Kent, which you love so much. Only 8 years ago you were sad to move back here. Now you love being surrounded by the beauty of God’s creation.

You dither at the mini roundabout as you doubt your own right of way since bus 216 is racing down like its the one with the right to pass.
India Arie is now singing Video– you admire her sheer guts at singing the naked lyrics- sometimes I shave my legs and sometimes I don’t…Such courage. The song has you glued to the seat of your car as you rock from side to side singing at the top of your voice. You have arrived but you are not about to deny yourself the joy of singing. So you sing. And sing. And sing. And you knock on the door 7 minutes late.

10 Oct

Toks goes to Downing Street

First you touch your hair after receiving the invitation. Like most black women, my confidence is unevenly distributed and linked to my hair. So you touch your hair as you wonder if it is Downing Street worthy. Next you mentally scan your wardrobe and the department store occasion wear section all in the space of one minute.  Then you wonder what you’d say in conversation? My extent of global politics begins and ends at ‘should I do the laundry now or wait till the kids get back from school, that way they have an extra clean shirt for the week?’ Or ‘Did I remember to take out the chicken for the freezer before I left to do even more grocery shopping?’ I wonder what clumsy spirit will take hold of me. After all wasn’t it me who spilled water on a news anchor’s shoes at a posh event at The Waldorf? Will I sneeze and stuff fly onto the lapel of the  prime minister’s Saville row suit? Or will I drop my plate of canapés on the ridiculously expensive yet muted coloured carpet of the Prime Minister’s drawing-room? And when that happens do I wait for the staff to pick it up or do I do so myself? If I choose to clear the mess will I not be viewed as subservient? Won’t it cause all black people to be seen as so low that we automatically switch to servant mode when the opportunity presents itself? And if I decide to leave it to the servants, what do I do during that eternal minute before they arrive?

The night before.

Since you don’t want to appear ignorant you find yourself reading the genealogy of the Prime Minister and his wife. You were meant to only read about their parents and children, so you have an emotional platform for conversation but the spirit of Wikipedia possesses you and takes you six generations off course. You discover they both come from influential, wealthy families. That’s also when you learn that as at the last election we no longer had a deputy PM. You conclude that a commoner cannot possibly become PM as they all seem to come from very good stock. You wonder what juju Obama used to get into office and if Jeremy Corbyn has at yet been introduced to the same babalawo.

How about the journey there?

Do you simply walk up to the door, no 10 Downing Street,  the black door flanked by two policemen as we see on the news- do you just walk up there like I walk up to Suzy’s house and… knock?

Enroute and I begin to wonder if RSVPing twice was such a good idea after all. What if the second email cancelled out the first? Thankfully I’ve kept the news quiet so it’s only about four people that will be made aware of my klutzness (Hubby’s word of the month) should I arrive and I’m denied entry. But really what would I do? How would I wear the shame on my face? Will I smile it away or just cry it out? I decide I should cry. Crying is a better option in this case because years from now as the story is told about the Nigerian girl who couldn’t even RSVP to an invitation from the Prime Minister, it wouldn’t end with ‘would you belive she was smiling sheepishly when they denied her entry?’ Tears it will be. My confidence picks up once that dilemma is settled.

The man sitting behind me on the train is on the phone ordering 4kg of dry ice and a large block of ice. He is very insistent and stresses the urgency of the dry ice. What do ordinary people use dry ice for? I want to ask him why. Oh wait, he’s giving out his phone number. Should I call that number and ask him what he wants the dry ice for?

Mum just called. She’s screaming with joy. ‘Is it true my daughter? You are going to see the Prime Minister? Ehen! God is great o!!!’ The phone suddenly dies, and then autotune-like  sounds start to emanate instead of my mummy’s voice. I knew it. The thought that I was being bugged did cross my mind, after all wouldn’t they have checked me out and ‘swept’ my house and phone to make sure I had no links with Boko Haram? or Jeremy Corbyn?  At this point I’m so glad I don’t allow negative words on my Facebook page. Imagine if I was one of those who curse out the PM and his cabinet regularly? Can you imagine if I chomped on the hand that will be feeding me canapés, ( I later find out) today?

The walls in the hallway are mustard. Very mustardy, and there are massive portraits of predecessors long dead pressed onto the walls. The lady in that picture looks familiar- it’s The Queen! In black and white? I wonder why. Such a natural looking picture of her majesty. Up the second flight of stairs and into the drawing room. Canapés. Juices. Wine. No wine for me, wine is what causes me to spill drinks on people’s shoes or start talking about my Brazilian ancestry when asked the meaning of my Nigerian name. Wine might cause me to start referring to the PM as Dave or DC or even’D’. So no wine, just juice. I look around and feel very chuffed at the company I’m in. I chat with a few friends and acquaintances and meet some new folks. I start a conversation with a woman who introduces herself to me with her first and last name. She does it the way it’s done when someone tells you their first name and they don’t get a roaring applause, then they add their last name so that recognition first dawns on you, then shame overwhelms you as you realize that in your own stupidity you didn’t recognize them. Only in my case I really don’t know her.

Off I go to chat with another lady, a solicitor. She notices a closed door with flashing lights coming out of the gaps and we decide our man Dave must have landed. We saunter towards the door. Sure enough, he appears. Skin as smooth as a baby’s bottom. So soft you want to stroke his cheek. Taller than I imagined too and very warm, personable and friendly. He makes his way around the room and eventually reaches me. Power is good o! See everyone calling him ‘Sir’. A firm handshake and a smile. ‘So where do you fit into all of this then?’ He asks what I do. I tell him my profession and there’s a hint of the surprise I see in most people’s faces when they find out for the first time what I do. But his hint is so controlled it’s almost not there. A fleeting shadow if you will. This room is packed with the who’s who of entertainment, sports and business. And there’s me. Toks. Oswald Boateng needs to eat a bit more I think, but I don’t tell him that.

David Cameron gives a speech and immediately afterwards I find myself talking to a lovely guy-  I begin to court him mentally for my bestie. I start to get annoyed in advance should she tell me ‘she isn’t feeling him,’ he’s not the one or there’s just no chemistry. My anger dissipates slowly seconds after I discover he is married. I want to ask him if all is well in his marriage, but I change my mind. He’s an ex-Royal Navy officer and I’m sure he knows just what nerve to pinch and finish me off. The phrase ‘all the good ones are taken’ snakes its way around my mind, I shake off that thought and keep my eye out for an available suitor.

I spend the second half of the evening chatting with my new friend and catching up with a few others. It’s time to go home. More than half the folks are gone, but here I am still basking in the very shocking fact that I am in the PM’s residence, and leaving to go home would erase the truth. It’s not like they’ll let us back in if we stepped outside and changed our minds to come back in. The security and process to come in was like going through Stansted airport without the loud Ibiza holiday-clubbing crew. As I leave, I know I’ll be back someday for something, I just don’t know when. Down the stairs, I retrieve my phone which they took from us and I get my coat.

On the train, I gist with Joxy and Suzy. The train is packed and the guy standing in front of me has such thick beautiful hair, it’s egging me on to grab a fistful just to confirm its real. When you’ve been to number 10 you start to think anything goes, even grabbing strangers’ hair on the 19:18 train to Orpington.

My key fits into the lock of number 17 and I am met with reality as my number 3 greets me with; “Hi mum, I think I need a doctor, I hurt my foot whilst playing football.”

 

26 Oct

All Men are Dogs…

I’ve been thinking about the danger of the printed word. When words are handwritten it carries personality with it, and if you know the writer you either respect or scoff at the words.

Quotation
Printed words however carry a bit more authority. They are certified, or so it seems and they are more easily perceived as truth.
There is a pervasiveness of quotes and sayings across the internet and I have come across some damaging ones. There are those that feed your fear, some encourage hatred, while others are more subtle.

It is important to know the source of these viewpoints, not just the person but the sentiment behind their words. Are they coming from a place of negativity or triumph? Are they self-serving so that in the end they look like a hero and you, a victim? Or are they genuinely sharing a new lesson they just learnt?

One of such quotes- all men are dogs– is used so often it has become a part of the nomenclature of our time. It may have been started by and is now echoed by women who were mistreated by men. There are also degrading quotes about women that are making the rounds, again started by low-spirited men. I have found (sadly) that hurting people spew out hurtful words. The pain is sometimes in such abundance that it glazes everything they say and those words are carried straight into our hearts.

Another genre which led to my unfollowing an old friend on Facebook is Haters gonna hate and all the other related ‘haters’ quotes. Call me a Pollyanna but growing up in an environment of love, very little attention was given to hatred or negativity in my home. We didn’t talk about people who were hated- if there were any. Everybody’s been hurt by one person or another but we are not to hold on to the pain. It becomes heavier as hurt attracts more hurt until you are bent so low, you can’t see straight ahead.

Let’s not forget the inverse motivational quotes: people think that they can bring me down, all they’re doing is setting me up for success. #cantpullmedown #Fthehaters

Question: Why are you so concerned with people who don’t wish you well? How about giving some attention to those who support and help you? Some people live in the marinade of several negative life experiences so when they hand out their two cents of wisdom, it comes out as seeds coated with pessimism.

Why do we retweet or share such updates on social media? Perhaps it’s because we can sometimes identify with the hurt and the feelings are familiar. But just because we can identify with a verbalised or written hurt does not mean we should pull out our old placards and join in the protest.

My concern is primarily for young, innocent men and women with fertile minds looking to glean some fruit from paths that are already overgrown with weeds. How about we make a pact right here right now to share only healthy, wholesome information?
Maybe if there are enough lightbulbs we will eventually drive out the darkness. Maybe.

01 Jan

Good enough!

My new year resolutions for 2014 can be distilled into one buzz word, authenticity.

Not that I have gone out of my way to be pretentious or fake, but after some reflection in the last few months of 2013, I realised and faced up to the fact that there have been times when I haven’t been entirely comfortable with who I am. I love myself to bits- I don’t want to be anyone else, I don’t wish I was Michelle Obama, but still I noticed that I have struggled to be myself in certain situations, especially when outside my comfort zone.

Case in point the new blog issue. I wanted to start a new blog that would appeal to my clients, none of whom I live like or look nothing like. So I struggled with a blog name and content. The plan was to write as this personality that fit in with the quintessential Brit. A lady who lunches. I was to visit places and appreciate the sort of art I normally don’t care for, then write about it (in a genteel tone) as though it was normal for hubby and the boys to go to Lords Cricket Ground, while I had afternoon teas with the Windsors. Don’t get me wrong I do love the finer things in life and appreciate art and beauty, but your girl wanted to take it to another level so she could fit in.

After struggling for a while I pushed the  idea to the back of my mind. But the comments you kindly share on this blog, the email responses I get from friends and in conversation with my friends, I tend to get two main descriptive phrases that resonate deeply. One of them is being authentic.

I have come to the conclusion that the best personality I can portray is mine. I cannot successfully try to be someone else. The fear of not being accepted in a different social circle is gone, because God made me with a personality that cannot be replicated. So who I am is unique and beautiful as it is, I don’t need to alter me. This is not to say I won’t try to improve on areas that need improving on, I believe in education outside the classroom and life-long learning, and I will still go out to expose the boys to the epicurean lifestyle, but I will do so while remaining authentic. I love my name and totally love my skin colour and I’m comfortable in it.

I have also come to the conclusion that excellence can only be achieved when you’re being yourself. Because that’s what you were pre-wired to be. Imagine a car trying to be a boat? Or an apple hoping to taste like an orange? You get the picture!

Here’s wishing you a wonderful 2014, filled with the confidence to be you! Thank you so much for being in my life and sharing my journey with me!

I’d love to hear your buzz word for 2014.

PS:

On the blog note, I have decided to step out and create a separate page on the business blog, complete with my photograph and sharing my life and loves, the real one, not the imagined one, it’s a big step for me and I’m VERY excited!

22 Sep

Operating Manual of Number 4

”I can’t wait to meet #4” He is so cute!!

I write a lot about #4 because, well I figure that by the time he’s old enough to read my blog the world would have moved on from blogging to another oddly-named fetish, yooking- or some other term- unintelligibly sounding, yet life changing on a global scale. It’s not like we knew twittering would ever become a verb used by humans.

I feel sorry for those who have expressed innocent interest in wanting to meet #4. Like Kemi- formerly justjoxy’s friend but now mine. She kindly invited us to her daughter’s birthday party and ended her invitation with; ”I can’t wait to meet #4”.

Let this be a quiet, but sound warning to all who wish to meet him.

1) He would not ‘greet’ properly. It’s not like I haven’t tried with him. Now he says ”Good afternoon, evening” but he doesn’t look up when he does. Unlike Tolu’s boys. Those boys can greeeet!!!

2) He hates being woken up every morning. He rants and raves about how his day has been ‘ruined’ by the one who woke him up. ” You have ruined my day”. ”Now my day is spoiled”. One day I picked him up after school and he asked; ”anything fun after school today mum?” He looked so hopeful, his deer-like eyes staring expectantly at my hardened ones. I replied with a steeliness that matched my eyes; ”no, we’re going home”. His response? Flaps arms about in frustration and says; ”you ruined my day in the morning, in the middle it was fine, and now you ruined it again at the end”. I had to call a friend to share this episode, it was too much for me to handle on my own

3) He believes blood comes from the devil. Because it hurts when he bleeds. Our most recent conversation on blood went something like this;

”What happens to Batman’s blood when he gets cut with the silver thing and he doesn’t bleed? Mum, why did God make blood then? How do you make silver? Like batman’s silver? How do you make gold? I know, you make lellow (yellow) dark and it becomes gold”. As you can see it wasn’t a conversation as such, I could barely get a word in. Okay truth be told, I had no answers for the child.

4) He is incredibly good with words.  A little wordsmyth he is. He makes up words too like putted. ”I putted it in the kitchen”. And inexpection. All my friends play football, inexpection of George. He likes Tennis”.

5) He wants another brother. Three is apparently not enough and his mother is clearly a child making machine. A Factory.

6) He is irresistibly cute and knows it. Be prepared to be extra affectionate with him. Bear in mind that giving affection to him will not result in you getting any back- in fact you wont even get an acknowledgement. To be completely honest your affectionate moves will be met with deep frowning and resistance. Ignore it all. That’s just how the child chooses to show love.

7) He loves his teacher. This one is quite annoying- and I can feel myself getting rather annoyed as I type this. He honours his teacher’s words above mine. If I tell him to do his homework on lined paper for instance, my request will be met with first an incredulous glance, then a condescending look as he shakes his big head stating the words; ”that’s not how you do it mama, my teacher said…”

I was going to carry on but don’t want to ruin any chances of actual adoption of this child. Unlike #3 who has so won the hearts of the Family *Smith, they literally beg to take him home constantly. Like here. We have been known to forget him with them and I am now certain the reason they bought a larger car was for #3. And that one knows how to charm the socks off them. When we pick him up he walks out with words of praise bathing him; ”He is incredibly polite, he is so sweet”.  ”He loves the baby”. ”The dogs just love him”.

Today is going to be a good day, I can just feel it. I might even come back and add another post that’s been brewing!

Have a lovely Sunday and thank you for reading.

May I shamelessly beg that you add a comment in the box below? It helps me to breathe easy 🙂

01 Aug

Daddy.

When I grow up I want to be like my daddy. My daddy is the best father in the world. He has always been dependable. I remember as a child one evening while he was going out, I felt the need to say something more than just “Bye dad” so I said; “daddy buy me a book” and he did. I didn’t really want a book, it was a flippant request, more like an afterthought. That book became my favorite book for years. I don’t remember the title but it was a book with two stories, that was my introduction to stories with a twist at the end. I cannot even remember what it was about only that I read it over and over and over without ever getting bored.

Another time daddy had planned a surprise birthday party for mummy. It was at a banquet hall and all day there was a lot of ferrying of food from the house to the hall. On the final trip as daddy as leaving for the party, I hid in the back of the car. I could have made it all the way to the party but I announced my presence just as he pulled out of the gates. Daddy found it hilarious! He said; “if you were dressed properly I would have taken you”. He didn’t yell at me for slowing him down or making him turn around to take me back home. That’s my daddy.

He also has the greatest amount of confidence in me, he is absolutely certain that I can be anything I want to be in life, I believe him.  He allowed me to browse through his gory medical books, while mummy tried to stop me as she felt it was too much for a little girl to see pictures of abscesses and strange diseases. The skin ailments fascinated me the most. To think that a human skin could mutate into a mass of puss-filled rash always left me in wonderment. The stomach ulcers and the tumours on organs didn’t hold my fancy for that long, I guess because I didn’t see the inside of the human body regularly so there was nothing to compare it with, but the skin I did. There was one series of pictures that had the stages of an appendix from initial stage to it being burst. Fascinating!

Sorry, I got carried away there.

Daddy used to tell his friends that his only daughter would win the Miss world contest. He said it so often and with such conviction that I accepted my fate. Mummy on the other hand frowned at such suggestions. She didn’t appreciate the thought of her daughter strolling up and down some stage for men to look at. Lai-lai!

My daddy is very accomplished. He retired in his forties to do his own thing, when asked why, he replied that he had reached the pinnacle of his career and had to move in a different direction in order to keep growing. This is true- see post on alligator here

Can you see why I want to be like my daddy?

Did I mention it’s his birthday today? Please wish him a happy birthday, you should see him. He looks 20 years younger than he actually is. Happy birthday daddy, I love you!

Have a lovely day and thanks for reading 🙂

31 Jan

Something New!

Today has been a good day. Not as productive as I would have wanted but still, productive enough. I feel the need to tell you about Chet.

I decided to bring my Linkedin account out of hibernation and make some connections and was pleasantly surprised to find Chet- who used to be our delivery guy in Atlanta- now living in Turkey running a bar and grill! This might not mean anything to you but Chet used to run his highly efficient delivery company in Georgia. He started off with a small van, doing deliveries for small furniture businesses and later got a second Van. Before we knew it he had more than a handful of employees and a couple of trucks. He did deliveries for small businesses like ours and assembled the furniture too. No one else did anything close without charging hundreds for the same task, plus insurance, plus fuel surcharge, plus state and city tax- you get the picture. He was living the American dream and even ran the business peacefully with his ex-wife and current girlfriend working side by side. Then the recession hit in 2008 and he was affected. He closed shop and moved far, far away to Turkey. Why Turkey, I am yet to find out. I had assumed he was Latino, maybe I was wrong.

Now the reason I have brought this up is to point out his ability to bounce back along with the guts to try something not even closely related to what he had done before. I mean if you build a successful business, chances are that you can do it again right? Especially since you know the market well enough. You have contacts, clients, knowledge and skill. Chet also had the confidence that is absent in many new business owners. He could easily have had a been there, done that attitude. But he tried something new.

Is there something new you should be doing? Did you try something you really wanted to succeed in and it failed, or it just didn’t happen? Take a step of faith. God has endowed us all with gifts and talents galore, you don’t have to get stuck doing the one thing you know how to, don’t be a headbanger! I look forward to chatting with Chet so I can ask him if he is enjoying his new gig. My guess is, he is.

Thank you for reading, do come back.

28 Dec

What I’ve Learned For Sure

I am so excited! 2010 is drawing to a close and I am here to witness it. I started to write this post about 2 weeks ago when fear gripped me, what if you don’t make it? Kia kia I put down the laptop and said “Abeg, I no do, let the year end then I’ll write”. Thankfully the Lord reminded me that premature death is not his plan for His creation, and that my future is in His hands. So here I am!

The start of a new year has got to be my favorite time of the year. I look back on the past year and reflect on it. This year, however is very different. I am genuinely pleased that we are in the last week of 2010. This time last year I couldn’t wait to get into the new year. My attitude was more of hope, hope that the new year held better things than the previous. I was eager to say goodbye to the year as it had been a challenging one.

It is not the same today. I am excited because I still have a few days to finish up unfinished projects. I want to finish strong and start next year right. I usually write out resolutions and goals. My goals are the same, but my resolutions have altered. This time I actually have a working strategy.

What I have learned for sure:

That the challenges that  I encountered were not meant to trip me up, but to make me stronger. Instead of being afraid when trials come, I have learned to embrace them and look for the lessons in them. Sometimes the lessons are obvious like the consequence of not being careful or exercising poor judgment as a result of not educating myself prior to making a decision. Other times the lessons are subtle, like the Lord teaching and training me to rely on him and put my confidence in him. I also learned to embrace and accept my weaknesses, mistakes and failures. My weaknesses are a part of who I am. I was created with those weaknesses so really I have nothing to be ashamed of. God is made strong n my weaknesses. I have friends who support me in particular areas. For example I wasn’t born organized but I have two amazing friends, Tola and Tiwana who are natural-born organizers. I remember once when Tola visited me at the store, she got to work and sorted absolutely everything out- dishevelled desk, files, and even invoicing without having any knowledge of the business. Tiwana and I stayed at the same hotel once and I of course was unpacked and unprepared for my early morning flight the next day. When I don’t get enough sleep I generally can’t get anything done, let alone sort out suitcases. She got in there and packed all our suitcases in no time and without breaking any sweat. It was like the fairy godmother of cleaning sprinkled some magic dust in my hotel room!

I have learned gratitude.  I used to wait for great things to happen before being thankful. Now I know that there are at least 206 bones to thank God for daily, 2 lungs, one heart, a brain, and then there are the body functions. I sleep and I awake- daily. I eat and enjoy my food. I can speak, I can hear, I have a functioning sense of taste, need I go on? Then there are relationships. My husband and sons, my parents, brothers, in-laws, cousins, friends, Facebook. Lets not forget work. I have an income. I work in an area I am gifted in so work always feels like play. I look forward to Monday mornings I don’t dread it.  There is also God. I actually have a relationship with the one who created me. Not only do I speak to Him, He actually loves my company. I once worked at McDonald’s and didn’t even know the regional manager. But I know the one who created him. I start and end my day now with 10 things I am grateful for and that keeps my eyes of the things that I want but don’t yet have.

I am glad that for the first time ever, I look back on the year without any regrets whatsoever. Yes there cringe-worthy moments I won’t forget ever like when I messed up an order with a VIP client, or when I wasted my time on unproductive activities, but I have no regrets because I can now guard against them and won’t be making many of those mistakes again.

Death. We lost a loved one this year. I learned that death is certain, sometimes it happens prematurely sometimes not. It is always so sad when a young person dies but in our case we take solace in the fact that he is in heaven.  He really is with the Lord and we are thankful that God made a way for mankind not to die an eternal death. I have learned that it is far better to live and die in Christ than to live for yourself- or anyone else for that matter.

I challenge you to make a list of the things you are thankful for that happened this year, the lessons you learned, the lessons you don’t want to re-learn and close the door on the past and move forward with joy and expectation into the new year!

Happy New Year!

05 Mar

My Driving Test

Maya Angelou said you can tell a lot about a person by the way they handle these three things; a rainy day, lost luggage and tangled Christmas tree lights. I’d have to add a fourth: Failing your driving test.

 I couldn’t wait to drive. At 18 I didn’t care about the test, just the ability to drive. I wanted my own car so badly; I bought my first Micra with my student’s loan. Back then the only person who had a car in our clique was Alex, a red Nissan which he named Betsy- don’t ask.

My brown Micra was faithful, and I loved it. The plan was to practice until I was ready for my driving test. I had been driving for a few months when I did my first test. It was in Colindale, I can’t remember what the major fault was but I failed woefully. I remember crying and taking it so personally, and later basking in the words of comfort my dear cousins offered as they assured me that those driving instructors were wicked people. That they had a quota to fill and once they had reached their number, no one else passed. So I figured it would be best to take the next test in January, way before their “limit” was reached. Only heaven knows where I got the information that their quota fiscal year started in January.

Come January and I booked my test in Burnt Oak. Not far from that hateful Colindale where they chose to “fail me” on my first test. By this time I was not just a driver but had become Speedy Gonzales. I loved to do mean manoeuvres and was very confident behind the wheel. I was warned by well wishers not to use my car for the test as the instructor would fail me on the presumption that I had been driving without a licence. So I hired a new Micra for the test. Now in the UK most cars (at least in the ’90s) were manual (stick) cars. In order to move you need to find the bite point. This bite point differs for each car.  I also had become friends with a group of guys who loved to bend every rule for the sake of it and one of them thought me how to avoid the whole bite point shenanigans by putting the car in 1st gear, and then starting the engine to avoid stalling. It worked always. And no, I didn’t have the sense to leave that lesson out of my driving test so I failed again. I actually failed as I was driving out of the test center.  But the man kept quiet and still kept instructing me to turn left, turn right. Can you imagine? I turned to him and said

“What’s the point?”

“Sorry?”

“I have failed. I see a big X on the paper, what’s the point in carrying on?”

“I am not at liberty to discuss this madam”

“In that case, (I pulled over) please get out of my car.”

“By law, I cannot leave you with the car, I must accompany you back to the test centre if you do not wish to carry on with your test”. He looked and sounded like a robot.

I protested, but he won, allowing me the final humiliation of being the first candidate to arrive back at the centre with a yellow slip. He tried to give me advice as we drove in but I waved him off, puleeze, just get out, thank you!

Thankfully my fans were waiting. Phone calls came in assuring me that it wasn’t my fault. That Burnt Oak centre was notoriously racist. That it was in fact my fault for not asking them first as they would have told me to stay well away from there.

So test number 3 was held somewhere in South London. The instructor was Scottish. I feigned excitement and asked what part of Scotland he was from. He mentioned an obscure village I’d never even heard of. My response was even more enthusiastic as I shared that I was in fact born in Edinburgh. I did a quick mental scan of my birth certificate and recollected my parents address at the time. “We lived in Currie”, I offered. Like I even had any memories of the place. I don’t think it was my Scottish roots that made me pass. Rather I think I had finally faced the fact that I wasn’t a perfect driver. Being an avid go-karter and a fearless driver on the streets of London did not qualify me to pass the UK driving test.

I have since learned to deal with disappointments a lot better. I see every disappointment as a tool used to mature and strengthen me. I also have more respect for laws. “It’s the law“, doesn’t annoy me so much anymore!

Thanks for reading, do come back.

25 Dec

Letting go…

If I run into you or speak with you anytime between now and the next ooh- let’s say 6 weeks, chances are I will ask if you have any goals for the New Year. Its funny how very often a lot of folks tell me they don’t believe in resolutions; they tend to get broken anyway. Some say why wait until the new year to make changes in your life? It’s just a hype, they would rather live it in the hands of God anyway. No doubt there are others still who believe any reference to the calendar year is all a big conspiracy by the government to control their life.

I have a ritual I perform annually about this time. This is the sweeping away of the old and behold the slate has become new event. It is when I gleefully look at my list of yet-to-be dones, label each with a new name and then put it on my to-do list for the next year. It’s also the only time that I don’t groan while looking at my list of still-to-dos. This year a wise friend has told me to let go. If it didn’t get done, does it still need to be done? Or can I simply cross it out and move on? Today is my letting-go day. I will be giving up several goals which have morphed into fantasies.

  • Doing laundry on Tuesdays and Fridays. I’m not a robot, I’ll do the laundry when it needs to be done.
  • Have a flat tummy by the end on 2009- it ain’t gonna happen in 6 days Toks.
  • Have all my paperwork organised by the end of the year. Ha!

There’s more that I will not be carrying-over into next year, but I will be setting some realistic goals. Not ten or twenty but about three to five that will improve the quality of my life. After all it’s just one life right? Merry Christmas and a happy new year y’all!