31 Oct

Scrutinize This

Wednesday was me-time, I look forward to any trip that guarantees my own company. Not that I don’t like people but I ocassionaly crave silence. I cherish the drive so much that quite often I don’t speed just so that every long minute is savoured.

I arrived at the hairdresser’s to discover that there was only one stylist present. And she was very presently doing someone else’s hair.  So I waited, enjoying the latest issue of my Success Magazine. Then I called and jisted with JK. Next I called hubby and caught up on household news. I had to text Tolu because my battery was fast running down. Some more texts and a few rounds of wordmole on my Blackberry and I was still waiting.  And then I waited some more. Who begged me to go and have me-time? You wanted me-time Toks?  Whoop! There it is.  

It is all hubby’s fault. On Sunday as I tied my gele, this touch-and-go ritual actually worked first time. I was very proud of myself, the wrap looked fab. When I asked hubby what he thought of it, he suggested that my hair should be covered in the middle to make it perfect. I know better than to listen to that sort of “advice” but I did and regret it till this day. I just couldn’t get my head gear looking fab again so I had to prevent the forced use of the gele (and spousal unforgiveness) by visiting Mane Attraction.

Common sense told me not to tell hubby about the article on healthy eating I read in Success Mag. The article listed the benefits of healthy eating in a way I’ve never quite seen before.

  • Raw nuts increases mental alertness so you are able to accomplish more while staying focused- good for me, I struggle to stick to tasks until it is  completed. 
  • One of the most effective ways to fight our stress response and to stabilize hormones is through lots of water- I didn’t know there was a stressless response to stress.
  • The benefits of fruits and veg and their role in boosting immunity has long been sung- some of us have heard the song but tuned out the lyrics, choosing instead to believe that since one is not overweight one must be fit and healthy.

Needless to say regret set in once I had shared this new info with hubby. He immediately crowned himself Chief Scrutinizer of Toks’ diet. It was on an empty stomach that I planned my evening meal. So when I made my stir-fried noodles with sweet corn, prawns, chopped carrots, bell peppers and chilli,  it was for me to relish every mouthful and not feel as though one was destroying one’s body. I didn’t enjoy my dinner because Chief himself advised me on every spoonful.  But I ate it all, after all I slaved over the stove right?

An author recently said that she has a good friend who calls her on Thursdays to see how many pages she wrote in the week. Accountability helps you reach your goals and keeps you on the straight and narrow. I thank God for my family and friends who keep me going in the right direction. Pawpaw and Mango blog readers keep me blogging as I know you’ll be stopping by to read. You really don’t need to be seeing the same title every time  you pass by, so to you I say a big ‘Thank You!’

A Chief Scrutinizer (or trusted person) should be one you have confidence in and respect, and of course is relevant to the task. I have someone that advises me on spiritual matters, I know who to go to when I need clarity on a business  issue, a few numbers are on speed dial if I need to vent and I even have those on standby if I’m trying to bring a mouth-watering meal to the table and need a tip or two. I would say my friends play a valid role in my life and for that I am truly thankful. I hope yours do too.

24 Oct

My Heart Skips a Beat

I don’t get on the trains or tubes a lot. As a matter of fact this year I’ve only been on it twice. Once on our trip to the Natural History Museumremember the post? And recently when we went to watch Sister Act. I think there was a time- yes Easter time as well on another outing.

Anyhoo, the last time I was on the train I noticed a pattern had been evolving. Whenever the ticket inspectors came around, my heart would skip a beat. There was no reason for this to happen as I always had a ticket.  After some digging, I realised that the reason I panicked was as a result of past journeys made when I didn’t have a ticket. This was as far back as when there were no ticket barriers and you could just walk right through and the ticket inspectors would wish you a pleasant rest of the day. I can’t believe I still suffer the effects of those years gone by. How much longer? I have to tell myself  that it is absolutely fine Toks, you bought a ticket, remember?

My heart skips a beat when a cop car is behind me. I start to wonder if my break lights are working correctly. What if I get pulled over because they suspected the threads on my tires are not 3mm deep? I mean do they really do that? I can’t afford any more points on my licence because I currently have 6 I think. Maybe the first 3 have expired. I trace that problem to the period I was driving without a licence. I remember how it all started too. I used to drive down to the stop on Finchley Road to catch my coach to Hatfield. One day I missed it, so I chased and overtook the coach to the next stop. Then I thought, hey I know the way, why not?

My heart skips a beat when I get a call from Nigeria. Can’t trace the root of that one except that in all the ethnic books I read, when someone comes all the way from ‘home’ it is to break bad news in person.

My heart skips a beat when  one of my boys give a blood curdling yell. I instantly think A&E, broken bones or worse.

My heart skips a beat when a friend says to me “we need to talk” I fear I have done something to offend them. These days I don’t get too bothered about that. I have over a hundred contacts on Facebook, never mind that I haven’t spoken to more than half of them in ages. I may just be able to live without you- just kidding! Seriously I hate being the cause of annoyance to people. I love to be a source of joy.

When hubby says “we need to talk” my heart skips a beat.  I immediately rehearse my lines on why the bank balance has shrunk to zero. But then he only does that to tell me that he loves me. Then my heart skips a beat again.

24 Oct

Balloon Boy 2

After my last post on Balloon Boy, I felt a pang of guilt as I had judged the family without any evidence. It didn’t help that a Christian channel had portrayed them as innocent- at least they didn’t suggest that The Heenes were guilty of fraud. Afterall the only thing we had to go on was the body language experts analysing of the size of the sweat beads and how fast they fell from Mr Heene’s forehead.

Well all my fears were laid to rest today (or was it yesterday?) when Mrs Heene admitted to the incident being a hoax. I still feel sorry for them for as Michael commented they were driven to desperation. I agree. Desperation can drive one to do all sorts of things which is why as I raise my kids I enforce boundaries around them. Even on days where they are perfectly well-behaved, I don’t say yes to everything they request- harmless requests included. Like today child #3 asked for cookies. There was nothing wrong with the timing, it was midday. He was neither full-up nor hungry but he had eaten so it was actually prime time for cookies. Plus he was well-behaved (relatively).  But I said no. He asked why and I explained to him that in life you don’t get everything you want.

He did get the cookie later, but only after I had made sure there was no sulking and he was happy not to have received it. It is very hard to pull that one on toddler J. He would scream the house down and I hate noise- all kinds. Perhaps what I should do is say “no” and run outside so I don’t hear his cries.

My prayer is that I raise my children to have a realistic view of life and an unwavering faith in God. That way the chance of ever being analysed by body language experts remains nill to nada.

25 Sep

What’s Poppin this Weekend?

I am so glad it’s Friday. I started loving Fridays years ago. it did not start in boarding house. No, no, no. On the contrary Fridays were hellish for us. We had to “sweep, scrub and mop” everything in preparation for the house inspection on Saturday. Everything got washed and most got stolen after you would have left it out to dry. And woe betide you if your white bed sheet was among the missing. I hate the phrase woe betide you. It is ugly. You can’t even figure out the meaning unless you already knew what it meant. Who ever came up with it even? It brings back memories of little Toks being whooped for not bringing Senior Risi’s plate on time  to the dining hall.

Anyhoo. Back to loving Fridays. I started loving Fridays when I worked for a large Pharmaceutical company. The pay was awesome, plus brand new company car and all but I hated my job. It just wasn’t me. I’m not pretentious and you needed to be in that field. So needless to say I didn’t work hard at all. I worked from home so it was very easy to do a whole day’s work in 2 hours. I was always on edge and worried that my boss would call me anytime to let me know in her lovely Mancunian accent that I wasn’t pulling my weight and I’d be busted. (She sounded remarkably like Daphne Moon from Frasier) She did however make it a rule never to make business calls on the weekend. Plus we were allowed to set aside Fridays to catch up on paperwork. Paperwork that I usually didn’t so much as cast a passing glance at until the wee hours of Monday morning. So my weekends started on Friday. Thursday night to be precise, as I left work early on Thursday to put said paperwork together in preparation for Friday. I loved Wednesdays because it was the end of the week beckoning to me from the distance. Midweek. Who thought I’d make it through? especially with Gwen Ellis, my old thorn-in-the-flesh colleague who was under grand delusions that she was my semi-boss. I wonder if she ever sampled those mood-altering drugs we were supposed to be giving free to Doctors? I bet she did. Gwen broke her ankle once and got her Son to chauffeur her around, she refused to take a sick break. I mean who does that? In England?  By Wednesday the pressure was off (at least for me) and I was pleased to have Thursday around the corner. I loved Tuesdays because it simply wasn’t Monday. That was a good enough reason. Monday? Let’s not even pretend.

Nowadays I’m glad its Friday because the boys will be playing Football on Saturday morning, I’ll have the house to myself (almost) with just my attachment with me. Baby J is my attachment. Hubby insists on referring to him as my growth. I will take my time to get out of bed. I will go to the mall. I will make a tasty dinner but only if I feel like it. Otherwise Ginny will be getting a routine call from me for her special fried rice. I will not raise my voice, choosing instead to clench my fists- hope that works. I will read my new book “Grown-Up Girlfriends” referred to me by dear friend Kennie. I will have a blessed day. It is afterall Saturday, the day that the Lord has made. So I will also rejoice and be glad.

I pray that your day will be blessed, fun-filled and relaxing, just as God meant for it to be. Thank you for reading.

21 Sep

My Well Kept Secret.

One thing you probably didn’t know about me is that I can play the piano beautifully. Every note is flawlessly played, and I am able to compose music too. I have been told by several musicians  (whom I respect very much) that I have a good ear for music. I haven’t thought as far as writing songs yet but I’m pretty sure if I penned a song it would top the charts. Learning how to play the piano and other dreams lie buried within me. Occasionally they toss and turn, like they are about to awake, but then I hastily pat them back to sleep again.

At other times the sleep is disturbed when I hang out with others who woke up  a while back and are now using their gifts and talents. It is very uncomfortable, staring at the faces of my dreams.  I feel like I owe them an explanation. What if I am asked why I didn’t use them?  I really don’t have any excuse. Fear?  There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out all fear. Laziness? The lazy man says there is a lion in the streets. Procrastination? Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might. Not good enough? I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  Too busy? Martha’s story- Luke 10:38-40.

So today I give you an early invitation to my award night- seriously, my 40th Birthday celebration less than 4 years from now when I will give you a grand  performance on my baby grand piano. I must remember to invite those musicians who first told me about my ear for music, one of them is my cousin O.T, I haven’t seen him in years. Details to be released soon.

www.punkin-patch.com

www.punkinpatch.co.uk

20 Sep

He loves me!!!

Ps 139 has become one of my favorite passages of scripture. It talks about God’s perfect love for man. I love the part that says; “your thoughts towards me are precious- so many, more than the sands”. Each of God’s thoughts towards us is precious. Each one of those precious thoughts is like a grain of sand- more than all the sand in the world. So that even if you could count all the grains of sand in the world, God’s precious, loving thoughts towards us is more than that. (v17, 18)

Another verse says; “you have hedged me behind and before, and such knowledge is too wonderful for me (v5, 6). Even if I make my bed in hell, you are there”. God is ALWAYS with us, even if I make my bed in hell, he is there (v8)

Dear Jesus, I thank you so much for loving me and hedging me in with your love and presence. I thank you because I am no longer in darkness. And if I were in darkness the darkness would be light to you, (v11, 12) so I am never, ever hidden from your view. Every thought you think towards me is precious. There are no angry thoughts, or thoughts of disappointment, malicious, irritating or negative thoughts. Only good precious thoughts (Jer 29:11). The reason there are no negative thoughts is because your ways are not my ways and your thoughts compared to mine are higher, even than the heavens (Isaiah 55:8). For that, I bless you- always.

Love, Toks

14 Sep

Why did I do that?

You may have heard the story of the woman who was asked by her daughter why she always trimmed both ends of her joint of ham before she cooked it. Her response was, ” Well, my mother always cooked it that way,  we’ll ask her why”. Grandma’s answer was the same, her mother always cooked it that way too. Luckily great-grandma was still around so they asked her why. Her reason? She didn’t have a pot big enough to cook a whole joint so she had to reduce the size.

A long time ago my cousin told me she didn’t sleep with pillows. That was the weirdest, coolest thing I ever heard. So I started to leave my pillows on the floor, suffering greatly before common sense prevailed.

Another time I noticed a friend wore her wristwatch on her right wrist. Of course by the next day Toks was doing the same.

These days I ask myself why I do the things I do. Sometimes I ask just before, at other times it’s a little too late, but I ask anyhow.  Why did I snap so loudly at my son when he was acting up? Was it to promptly correct him or was it to show the other moms that “I don’t take nonsense”?

Why did I accept that friend’s request on Facebook when I don’t care a hoot about them? Was it because  they are friends with the others in my connection/circle or was it because I’d like to rekindle a relationship with them?

Why did I agree to the hairstyle  my stylist suggested? Was it because I didn’t want to say no or because I was willing to try something different?

Why did I ask for that lady’s phone number at church? I know I won’t be calling her anytime soon!

Dear Jesus, I thank you for making me the beautiful woman I am. Help me to accept my imperfections as tools to make me more like you. I love you Jesus and I thank you for making me love me too!

31 Aug

Success at any cost?

I work very hard on the business, not because I want it to generate an income, rather I want it to be hugely successful.

A while ago the boys and I visited my cousin who had just flown into London from Chicago. While we chit-chatted with his host -a really nice man, the said host suddenly appeared on TV. He was being interviewed, something that regularly occurs because of the nature of his job. I pointed him out to the boys, It was hilarious the way their big eyes darted first to the T.V and then back at the man, over and over again, mouths wide open as they peered to make sure it realy was him. Perhaps they didn’t believe me. Perhaps they wondered how he could be in their midst, in a house and at the same time on the T.V?

This man is a human rights activist so needless to say our conversation turned to the “plight” in Gambia. First of all I didn’t even know Gambia had a “plight” I tried hard to feign interest while all I really cared about was getting PP on TV. “How, oh how do I bring up my concerns about exposure of my business purely for profit making while we discussed the exposure of the atrocious Gambian president- without branding myself as insensitive?”

I left really pleased about my education on Gambia, Nigeria and other African countries and what Amnesty international is doing to help. I left considering my own selfishness in my own little world and how we all have a part to play in assisting the other man or woman beside us. I was also glad that my quest for success had not yet seared any feelings of benevolence and that it was not too late to start.

Lord I thank you for the many gifts that you have placed within me. I pray that I use them selflessly to glorify you and to bless the people around me, for the gifts are not mine to keep, but to pass on. Amen.

29 Aug

The Lady, Du Pain & The Perfect French Manicure

So there I sat on the Eurostar excited about my very short break away from normal life. The last time I was in Paris was on my first wedding anniversary. Hubby and I were so shocked and disappointed that everything was actually in French. The knowledge that they are French people did nothing to soothe us as we listened to the 60th re-run of CNN in our hotel room- the only TV channel in English. It annoyed us to see blockbuster Hollywood movies voiced-over in French. How dare they? Eventually common sense reigned and we agreed to enjoy our holiday so we did. Lots of french bread (du pain), ham and cheese, but we did.

Fast forward 12 years and I wasn’t too keen on the sights, I just wanted to see my friend whom I hadn’t seen in 2 years and enjoy my VERY MUCH needed break. Alone. Deciding I would need a dictionary, I wondered why Costa Coffee didn’t sell them, it was the only shop without a queue. I ignored the fact that the French customs sign at St Pancras Station in London was written in French first and then English. I even pretended not to notice that the announcements in the train were in French and then translated into French-English. What I could not deal with was the newsagents who had a section for foreign publications, aka English. That was way too much to bear. All was forgotten though when I checked into my hotel, kindly assisted by Ganiyu, the cheerful Nigerian who spoke Yoruba (yo-hu-ba) with a French accent.

I had asked for a single bed- when they said single bed, it meant single-side-of-your body only. But it was my room and mine alone. It was blissful, clean and smelt nice. All TV channels were in French without the luxury of CNN this time. But it was fine. I had an attitude as I went for a walk to the market and in search of MacDonalds, wondering why I felt so superior to the French that I was unprepared to sample their cuisine. For some reason I didn’t even try to speak the language, I couldn’t be bothered and had a strange feeling they should concede to me. I guess it was my irritation at the bewildered look on their faces when I asked where the nearest MacDonalds was. It’s no wonder they are not fond of the Brits. Or the Americans.
At the nail bar the entire pricelist was in French. Surely a French Mani/Pedicure cannot be that pricey, they are the originators. Wrong! these folks charged me 67 Euros! That’s $95 dollars y’all. When she told me the price I quietly prayed she meant 16 Euros. My prayer was ansered, answer- “No, it is 67 Euros!” The mani/pedicure was PERFECT.

On my way back to the hotel I decided against listening to music so I could soak in the sounds, scenes and culture of Paris. I enjoyed doing so. It felt surreal that I was in another country, surrounded by strangers yet was so peaceful and filled with joy. I thought it’d be nice to have some French food for dinner after deciding there may be French word for Chinese which I didn’t know. On my way to the French restaurant, the smell of something familiar wafted up my nostrils. Minutes later I was in the hotel room, watching a movie on my phone and eating the best kebabs ever, served by the friendliest Turkish guys… oh well, French cuisine will have to wait!
And then Shade and I met up, but that’s another story 🙂

27 Aug

Joy

I don’t say this to brag but I have been filled to overflowing with the Joy of the Lord. This is a very different kind of joy to what I’ve always known it to be. This joy is alive, it rejuvenates me, causes me to laugh and cry for no apparent reason. Plus I am peaceful too. I first experienced this mind-blowing joy about 10 months ago when I read a little book titled “From Prison to Praise” by Merlin Carothers. I read it when I was going through a very difficult time in my life. The only thing worse than having the hardest trial is going through it without knowing if God is even aware that you exist, let alone there to hear you when you call. That’s where I was, difficulty along with the absence of Christ. Yes I was going to church and praying daily but did not feel his presence. What I took away from that simple, small book was that the word of God says rejoice in all things, so we should-all things. I started to learn to simply believe God’s word even if it did not line up with my current circumstance. The Lord does not need our situation to validate the authenticity of His word. His word is what it is. Period.

So I believed God’s word. If the word said I am blessed and there was nill evidence of blessing in my life, I chose to believe his word rather than what I could see or feel. I am learning to walk and live by faith, what his word says is true, and there’s no other proof He has given, so we just trust him. My testimony is looooooooong, but I love to share it so PM me if you want to hear it!

But there was a problem, this new joy was intermittent, and I noticed a pattern. When I take my eyes of God, panic sets in, stealing my joy. If I miss a period of prayer, the joy slowly ebbs away. Not because prayer is the currency of God’s joy, -there is no currency- but because in His presence is the entirety, the fullness of this joy. It goes without saying then that if you leave His presence, you’ll be leaving that joy behind.
Many times I attempt to replace the joy and peace of God with temporal things, but it all fades away after the novelty of the source has worn off- the new car, new home, shopping spree, etc. Jesus on the other hand never wanes, He is constant. The other thing I noticed was that my situation didn’t change yet I was filled to overflowing with joy. Then I started to change. God allows a trial to shape and mold you- painful but the finished product is beautiful. I love the new Toks!

Jesus, I pray you will deliver us from questioning your word and our situations. Help us to simply trust you and follow your leading. You came that we may have life abundantly here on earth before we go into eternity. Make your word true, unquestionable and infallible in our lives, amen.