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 🙂

25 Aug

Thank you very much Lord.

A little while ago I thought to myself what a blessing it would be to have a people-in-business think-tank. Small business owners cannot always afford the luxuries of having key professionals in place. Experts that will no doubt propel your business forward while building you up. An SEO expert, Tight-Wad Accountant, Knowlegeable Legal Team, The Talented Copywriter, Organised Administration, Red Hot PR, The Big Marketing Firm, etc. I don’t remember praying about it but I thought about it. A few of us getting together to share our knowledge without the price tag would be of tremendous help to each of us- A few days later I got a phonecall from a dear friend, she wanted a date to meet up with another friend in business. In a nutshell, our little think-tank was born.
Years ago, I was lamenting to a friend that I hated wearing glasses. At the time laser surgery was probably still a concept in someone, somewhere’s mind. He said; “do you believe God can heal your eyes?” My evasive answer, “er…yes”. That was it. Maybe he prayed for me, maybe he didn’t but the reading on my eyes began to improve. The word says delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. God gave me the desires of my heart without my praying for them. I just desired, and He granted. This warms my heart so much, the knowledge that the Lord loves me the way He does. And to add to that, He lets me know daily. Like the day asked the Lord for direction with PP. I was spreading myself thin and every task was as equally important as the next so the word priority was useless to me. I got a call from an organisation appointed by the government to give help to small businesses- for free! Or the other time when I prayed and asked the Lord to help me get organised. I did not inherit mum or dad’s organisational skills, LOL! I was overwhelmed with work and ideas and about to purchase my 6th notebook, I think that was the “marketing ideas” notebook. And the Lord promptly blessed me with a filofax.

Lord I thank you so much for loving me the way you do. I thank you that I never have to worry about my needs being met, ever, you are always faithful to deliver. So today I sit back and watch expectantly as you make my life so beautiful that it becomes a song of praise to you.

21 Aug

Personalised Birthday Cakes for Cats & Whatever else goes on in Harrods

Still on my the-sky-is-the-limit-and-I-can-SO-reach-it quest, the boys and I took a trip to the Natural History Museum- and ended our day out in Harrods. I explained to them just how expensive this store was- simply because they love to amass facts and I wanted them to be more knowledgeable. What I didn’t plan for was Child #2 to ooh! & aah! very loudly at the price of EVERYTHING. “Aaron, come and see this!!!! Mom, just look at the price of that”. My efforts to try and blend us in as regulars failed miserably. Especially when #1 and #2 started their loud squabble about who knows what. They wanted the cute kitten that was going for £750. They went on about the lift- saying it’s made from “real copper man”. But we all had fun on the 4th floor. Even baby J was facinated by the life size stuffed animals. I had no answer for them when they asked why any one would bake candy-stripe sugar cookies for dogs and personalised celebration cakes for cats. Its not like dogs can tell colours or cats can read.

All in all, it was real good fun and my morale for the day to the kids was; “regular shoppers in Harrods are just like us, we just won’t spend £500+ on a miniature sleigh bed for a dog or indeed shop at the pet deli counter”. I said we can, but we wont. Amen.

13 Aug

Verbal Dyslexia

I get that from time to time but tonight it is because the 9 year old is asking me questions such as “What happens if I drink food colouring?” , “Have you heard of a banana slug mum? What would you do if you saw one?” Did you know that snails are not slimy, they are slippery and slugs are slimy? He is telling me such interesting facts like the breathing hole of slugs, what DNA stands for, etc.
While this is going on, the 6 year old is going on about the plane he’ll be building. He has changed his mind, it will now hold just 4 people. Himself, his best friends Daniel and Kiki and spidy- the 16 month old teddy who never wears his spiderman outfit.
Lets not forget the baby saying “wap-wap, wap-wap”. If you have not figured, that is baby-speak for Wrapper- I want to get on your back. The 8 year old is quiet. That’s never good. Especially as he’s just got a new experiment kit, he’ll take things beyond the kit.

So with all of this going on simultaneously, how would I not have verbal dyslexia? I am somehow supposed to respond to each child articulately at the end of their questions or comments instantly, and without being partial. As usual I have about 4, no 6 thoughts unrelated yet by default going on in my head that need to be sorted out and acted upon. We haven’t even talked about the mutating laundry basket, I swear I saw it’s new arms move.
The Lord is indeed my strength, I’m still smiling and i’m genuinely happy.

09 Aug

Why My Rice is Never Soft

Today’s dinner was Jollof Rice, Turkey, Fried plantains, Coleslaw/Potato salad and a glass of coke. I tend to cook my rice just done, not soft. I like the grains separated and chewy, not sticky and …whatever the word is- you know what I mean. I wasn’t raised on chewy rice. On the contrary mum’s rice is quite nice and soft.
It all started in boarding house when Toyin and I went with Mariam to visit her mum. Mariam’s mum made this yummy jollof rice with carrots, all separated. Each grain of rice was coated in its own sauce, same as the carrot pieces. So if you’ve ever eaten at my home and wondered if I simply couldn’t cook plain old rice, be rest assured, I can. It all started years ago when I visited Mariam’s mum…

09 Aug

What turning 30 did for me…

That was 6 short years ago, the effects of which I still enjoy today. My chat with dear friend F (happy 30th!) brought this to the forefront of my mind. I have always loved the end of the year. Mum used to get my brothers and I together to pray into the new year. At the time dad was a socialist- referred to in a newspaper article I read as a child as the marxist, military doctor. So church was out of the question for him, he found it funny when on mum’s insistence we’d invite him to church 3 times a year- easter, christmas and new year’s eve. Anyway mum’s annual new year’s eve prayer amongst many others would be “Lord God, please let 1986 (or whatever year we were in) go with all its bad luck. Let all the bad things that happened this year NEVA, NEVA repeat itself again, AMEN!!!” Amidst the new year’s festivities, riding our bikes, climbing trees etc, she’d shout at us if we were being over exhuberant or naughty and say “IN THE NEW YEAR??? You’re already being naughty??” So the start of the year has always held a major significance for me. I have always seen it as a clean new slate, old things have passed away, all things have become new and don’t stain the new with old, bad habits.

When I turned 30, the same held true for me. I’m an April girl so it was a 2nd opportunity for a new start. I decided to take stock of my life. I’m an adult now, I told myself even though I’d been for all of 9 years- 7 in my parents eyes as I became an adult only when I got married. I looked back at my life and noted the things I loved about me, from my handwriting through my hair to my personality. My handwriting isn’t all that by the way but it is mine- it’s always been with me and I love it! I love my life. I love my friends, I love my family. I absolutely love my childhood and every memory I have. I of course noted the things I wasn’t so fond of. There were a few of them. I tend to procrastinate. I am not confrontational. In fact when I turned 30 I realised I could be quite a pushover- not very attractive. So I made a decision to turn things around. I started saying “no”. Like being in church and the pastor tells you to “write this down” or “underline that scripture”. Half the time I don’t want to because I want to underline what speaks to ME at the time I read it in my quiet time, also I hardly ever go back to read the notes I’ve taken. Then I end up with a stack of notebooks cluttering my bedroom, and feeling guilty if I attempt to throw them away. God showed me that I was free. Free to make my own decisions based on the wisdom He gave me and not based on the opinions of man- not even a man of the cloth.
I have always been an avid reader but at 30 I started to read with purpose. I read books that will bless me and not simply to have another gist for my girlfriends at our next buzz session.

At 36 I still say “no”. I say it gently but firmly. I make decisions based on how it blesses me and mine and the persons involved, not simply to fulfil the status-quo. I get tested everyday. At the hairdresser’s 2 days ago I fought the urge to hold a conversation with my stylist when all I really wanted to do was catch up on my reading. It still feels akward sometimes, the need to make conversations that end up being peppered with pregnant pauses.

I pray I don’t stop being the sweet girl I was while growing up. Cynicism sometimes tries to usurp that sweetness but I have Christ in me.

Dear Lord, I thank you for creating me, just as I am. I love the work you are currently doing in me, making me more like you daily. And Lord I pray where I have lost that gentleness as a result of life simply happening, replace it with your fragrant presence. Lord I also pray that my life will immensely bless all those I come into contact with, in Jesus name Amen

Thanks as always for reading!

20 Jul

Misery loves company…that’s why she hangs out with pessimism

A lot of my favorite quotes are by Winston Churchill, like “Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, give up. Never give up. Never give up. Never give up.” and “The pessimist sees the problems in every opportunity. Whereas the optimist sees the opportunity in every problem”

So there I was working diligently on the business and not giving up despite the Global Financial Crisis and other factors pressing in. My eyes are on God from where my help comes. I know I am the head and not the tail when the phone rings. Someone was calling to…encourage me. Here’s how it went;

HER:So how’s business?
ME: So-so, okay
HER: I hear things are quite bad for retailers, how are you coping?
ME: Yeah, its the survival of the fittest
HER:So how bad are things for you?
ME: As bad as it’s going to get, we can only go up from here.
HER: No,Toks I heard its going to get worse
ME: Well even if it does, it’ll get better.
HER: But I heard it won’t be better for at least 3 years!
ME; (Where is this broad from?) I don’t think so, you see ev..
HER:Don’t be fooled! It WILL get worse, ALLLL the financial analysts have said so…
ME (Desperately trying to change the subject):So how’s work?
HER: O.K. Everyone is holding unto their jobs no one wants to be fired.
ME: Thank God for Jesus, he’ll never leave nor forsake us
HER: Hmmm. So what are your plans?
ME: Plans?? (Who is this woman??)
HER: Yes, you have to have a plan B now?
ME: Shut up heifer (only kidding!)

Words are powerful. After that phone call, my peace was indeed disturbed. I was well aware of the state of the economy prior to the call. And I was fine and happy to work harder to counteract the challenges. Now it felt like I had just been informed for the 1st time that things were bad and businesses were suffering. I sat haunted by those words. I prayed and was revived, praise God. Now I know to pray before I speak to her and not after. When her number comes up I plead the blood of Jesus on me, focusing on my ears. I also know that in the course of our conversation, once I bring up the name of God, my friend flees the scene of the crime, ha ha!

There is a recession yes, but I refuse to wait for it to pass. It is perfect timing to strike out and make something beautiful of our lives. My sun is shining so I’m off to make my hay:)
Night night!

14 Jul

The Joy of Living…

Today has been both exciting and overwhelming. Exciting because I had my first one on one business coaching class last week and I feel like I’m finally moving forward- without the blindfold. Overwhelmed because I realize I have so much to do to achieve my goals. Not a good day to have had a can of Red Bull either as now I have all this energy and can’t calm down long enough to complete one task. To help you get a better picture, my hair is pretty much standing on end, I didn’t smooth it down after the wind dealt with it when I did the school run and I just cleaned my glasses with window cleaner.

I have three totally unrelated thoughts simultaneously running through my mind as I type this.

My In/Out tray resembles an “I-quit-and-I’m-leaving-this-blasted-company”, box.

I just ordered Child #3 to school. Its nearly 9pm- I should have said bed.

But I’m alive and filled with the joy of the Lord so I’ll just rejoice!