16 Aug

One Woman, Several Lives

Courtesy of my sister-friend Tiwana, I have been delivered from my involuntary blogging hiatus. And I feel sorry for you because this is going to be one looooong post!

I do get asked often a question that I feel should be reserved for the real superwomen; ”how do you do it?” By ‘‘it’‘ specifically they mean running my business, a household of 5 guys, blogging, hosting the occasional brunch- and by occasional we mean up to once a year- and living this seemingly fabulous life. I always have two answers, depending on how desperate they are for an encouragement or the naked truth.

Answer #1, the encouraging one.

My alarm goes off at 4am, if I’m really lazy I snooze till 4:30. I have my quiet time and exercise for 30 minutes. All of this happens in my clean and spacious kitchen, it would have been made spotless the night before as the boys are quite good staying on top of their chores, bless them.  Then I get ready, shower, hair make-up and all. They get themselves up and ready for school, I get the younger ones up, sorted and fed for the peaceful drive to school. We go over timetables or spelling during the drive, or I tell them a story with a moral at the end.

I return home for my healthy breakfast, tidy up breakfast things- just #2 and #3’s as #1 and #2 would have done theirs before they left for school. Grab my laptop and head off to work where I meet a load of orders that arrived overnight, some thank you emails from delighted customers and enquiries for new orders. I go through my work in bliss, then leave at 2pm to go prepare dinner. The school run starts at 3pm and by 4pm everyone except hubby is back home.  The boys have lunch and at 4:30pm it is homework time. They don’t need to be told.  They play from 5:30 to 6pm when hubby arrives, and we have dinner at 6:15pm. I incorporate quizzes and chit chat during mealtimes. After dinner they do their chores, clean their teeth and go to bed. At that point having watched some TV or chatted on the phone for about 40 mins, I work for an hour and go to bed, I usually read a book before I nod off.

Answer #2: Flip all I’ve said the other way round and insert yelling after the word boys. Every time.

So my laptop died on me. Actually it was a bit unwell. The experience of being separated from it showed me how alarmingly attached I can be to an inanimate object. I took it to the repair shop where I met Akhtar* name changed for protection, mine and his. Before he looked at it he made the sign of the cross and a silent prayer. You’ll understand my confusion- if Muslims had a look, a smell and a sound, this was it. I asked why he did that and his response was so God could help him find the source of the problem. I proceeded to remind him that he was  Muslim- then rephrased just before the words tumbled out;

Me: ‘Are you a Christian?’

A: ‘Yes, I converted’

Me: ( getting all excited) why?

He lowered his voice: ‘ever since I found out that Mohammed was a paedophile, its not good’.

Me: Both feigning and actually being surprised at the same time- really? I didn’t know that.

A: Yes God told him in a dream to look after an 8-year-old girl, why couldn’t he be a dad or friend? Why did he have to marry her? It’s not good. I’ll call you when your laptop is ready.

I leave deep in thought, pondering on my new-found knowledge that there are actually Muslims who convert for other reasons besides being preached to.

I received an invite to the launch of Polo in the Park, being held at an exclusive venue, champagne, blah blah blah. The invite added: Please RSVP to confirm as spaces are limited. Instead of replying via email like anyone else would do, Toks chose to call the guy- Chris – with an excessive amount of confidence. Here’s how our convo went;

Hi this is Toks from blah blah, I am calling in response to the invitation to the launch, I would like to attend. We’ll need 2 spaces.

Chris: Who is this?

Toks from blah. (whose company you recently requested the pleasure of- abi  were you drunk when you sent the invite?)

Chris: Oh I see. It err.. isn’t lunch, it’s champagne and strawberries.

Toks (confidence crumbling):  I know it’s not lunch as in to eat, but the launch of Polo in the park, right?

Chris: ohhh Lau-nch!

Clearly I need elocution classes. Excuse me for being raised in Nigeria and not enunciating the way you do. E kpele. ndo. Sorry

I went back for my laptop, and my new friend told me he was stressed due to poor business performance. I suggested networking events attended by nearby businesses, since he supplies a service that small businesses need. He dismissed it as irrelevant to his current need. Then I suggested going to award events which are again attended by small businesses so he could be directly in front of them.

His response? (squinting and pointing to a building across the road)

You see that restaurant over there, don’t go there. I bought chicken yesterday but it was bloody expensive. Not good

Yes my life in actual fact is more often like answer #2. A mish-mash of crazy, unrelated events which somehow manages to reconstruct itself and fool everyone into thinking that I have it all together.

I need my bed!

Thank you for reading, kindly leave a comment- it helps to boost my ego confidence.

13 Mar

Steps

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Lao Tsu

Last week was a rather overwhelming one, physically. It all started when I decided to spend 11 uninterrupted hours last Saturday working on our new website- it looks simply amazing if I can say that myself! We are moving onto a new super- duper platform and iits like going to school allover again. I have been going to bed with html codes and various image editing softwares swiming in my head. Anyway, after my stint I was surprised at not feeling a huge sense of accomplishment, you know the way you’re supposd to after you have done a lot of productive work. That feeling was carried into Monday, the start of the week. At the time I thought perhaps it was because I did just one task. It was unbroken and unvaried, maybe that’s why it didn’t feel like I had done much. Nonetheless I still felt burdened as the week wore on.

On Wednesday the Lord gave me a vision. A simple picture of a person (me) walking on a mapped out path with round stone slabs. It is a winding road and there’s nothing but fresh green grass on either side. The yellow daffodils swaying in the gentle breeze are a sight to behold,  pretty. In the distance the path leads to a beautiful house on the hill, the only possible destination. I keep stopping and looking up to see how much further I need to go. That was when it hit me. Rather than taking one step at a time, I look ahead and see the seemingly insurmountable task ahead. I keep looking at the big picture and feeling discouraged because although I have come a long way- evidenced by the long path behind me- I am impatient and want to get to my destination, like right now!
Yesterday, following my boycott of the suddenly expensive Tesco, my quest led me to Lewisham in south London. Here you can get fresh vegetables and meat at much lower prices. I parked the car a distance from the shops and did quite a bit of shopping. As I walked back to the car with my purchases I longed for one of those trolleys the senior folks use. It was the bags holding yams in my right hand for the week’s planned yam peppersoup, the plantains that will go nicely with rice and stew, the pounded yam meant for monday’s efo riro and the large bag of onions. My left hand held my bags of meat- neck of lamb, goat, chicken and kidney, coconut milk, okro and spices. I looked in the distance and saw the car park so far away. I decided to look down and keep walking knowing I will eventually arrive- that’s just my coping mechanism folks. I don’t like pain or discomfort! I took my mind off the journey and planned out the rest of the day- doing my hair and eyebrows and suddenly I had arrived!
I learned some valuable lessons;

I have learned to stop to appreciate the journey. It is not a race to get ‘there’ the fastest. There is so much beauty on either side of our lives that we need to be thankful for. Yes pollen may bring you hayfever but if that’s all you choose to see, that’s all you’ll be ‘enjoying’.

Take one step at a time. There is no other way to arrive than to take it step by step. Place your vision in front of you but you have to focus on taking the next step.

Stop and relax. Yes I am a busy mum/wife/business woman but that doesn’t mean my life has to mirror a roller-coaster ride- which I think may be part of the problem- I love excitement, but it is necessary to stop to recharge, take a breath, and energize myself. Life is what happens when you are busy making plans. I certainly don’t want my life “happening away”.

So as I look forward to the start of a new week, I do so with the knowledge that I will arrive at my destination. All I need to know is what step I’ll be taking tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that…

Have a blessed week, thank you for reading!

 

28 Jan

Boring Update

Okay. I’m finally able to get to Pawpaw and Mango! It is Friday and I have quite a few random and totally unrelated thoughts simultaneously going through my mind.

The ache in my thighs reminds me how well I must have gotten into the grove with my exercise DVD this week.

The silence in my room is an indication that hubby is tired and is having an evening snooze. He was miffed over the last couple of days because Trevor, his colleague insisted on coming in to work despite his dripping nose and sneezy self. You see hubby is a bit of a germ freak. He  notices how many dandruff flakes Trevor has on his jacket. He notices that he sneezed and didn’t use a hand  sanitizer, then promptly touched the mouse with the same hand. Yesterday he mapped out an area of his desk as a no-go zone. I wish I could tell you more but you may start to look at me funny, like I look at hubby funny.

The noise coming from the sitting room tells me the boys are having fun on the x box, it is Friday and the weekend has started for them.

My desk with the piles of paper and the sticky notes on the wall shows how unbelievably busy and productive I have been this week. I love the desk. Part of my 2011 race to be focused, it’s working!

At the moment I am typing racking my brain as I have been tagged to blog about me. Plus of course it’s about time I wrote something decent, come to think of  it isn’t there meant to be a part 2 of the boarding house post?

I am looking forward to 10:30 as I’ll be chatting with my dear friend Shade, it’s been a while and I can’t wait to catch up. The time difference makes it hard to do so but today I had a much-needed nap and will be awake to chat with her.

It’s Kenny’s birthday today, Happy birthday Kenny you are a good sister!

My dear friend Lowbay is slowly falling in love and I think she has stopped fighting the feeling, yeah! We love D!

Lara has disappeared from facebook and we haven’t even spoken this year. Saturday can’t come fast enough!

I have 4 audible credits and can’t decide which 4 books to download

I am so glad for the grocery delivery service, I will not be stepping out until Sunday. It is icy out there. I am thankful to God for a warm home.

My baby nephew is the cutest thing e-verrrr!

I’m looking forward to a 3 or 4 night break, girls only in April.

I feel like eating banga soup.

Jk promised to teach me how to make afam soup, but she hasn’t.I must bother her this weekend.

The ring didn’t mean a thing song from RHOA keeps playing in my head. And I don’t like Kim!

Thank you for stopping by!

06 Dec

Totally Random & Unrelated, Not Even Close

When I meet someone nice for the first time, I exchange phone numbers, email addresses, etc. I do so with every intention of staying in touch because I enjoyed our conversation, I think they are lovely and would add to my life and I would love to add value to theirs too. I always add a warning though, I tell them recognising faces is not my strongest point. So if you ever see me walk right past you in public as though I have chosen to “blank” you, actually I haven’t. I simply did not recognise you.

Dear friend Bolatito always had my back when we went out and ran into people we knew. She would say to me; “Toks, the one in the red shirt we know, the one in black we do not know”. I can’t think of the number of guys who thought I was making a pass at them because I smiled at them. I have been known to hug perfect strangers, ugh!

So there I sat at the hairdressers chatting with a really nice lady. It turned out that her son is a well known Christian artist. Not only that but she was married to Maxi Priest’s brother.  (Remember Maxi Priest- cute looking 80s Reggae/R & B singer with dreadlocks? I just wanna be close to you). Now Hubby and I watched him perform on TV recently after a long hiatus and were surprised to see his new look- dreadlocks all gone, in a suit with a new single. So I told this nice lady at the salon (in the spirit of showing off, and  I’m in the know) that Maxi Priest looked nice with his new look.

“New look?”

“Yes, you know without his dreadlocks”, I replied with confidence.

“Maxi Priest hasn’t cut his hair off” she replied, “has he?”

She had this bewildered look that said why would a total stranger know something that I don’t?

“He’s been growing that hair since he was 13! He wouldn’t do that!” She says with disgust. So I call hubby to confirm. Who promptly told me that the singer we watched was not Maxi Priest but Maxwell- another R&B singer with hair.

My back was turned to her and I asked hubby; “where do I now put my face? I’ve just been arguing with Maxi’s sister-in-law!”

It was with great confidence that I turned to her, cleared my throat and admitted that I was wrong and that it was in fact Maxwell I was referring to. Of course at this time I wish I hadn’t gone on and on about how nice he looked with his haircut. I  went to great lengths to assure her that I loved her brother-in-law and loved the dreads too. I don’t know how well I did there. Not that it matters, I didn’t ask for her phone number or email address. So if I “blank” her next time I see her it won’t really matter. Or would it?

www.punkinpatch.co.uk

www.punkin-patch.com

04 Nov

Rain, Rain

It rained today.

The world got washed while I slept just so that I could breathe in fresh, clean air on a bright new day. Thank you Jesus for a beautiful new day!

Whatever the challenges I face, I had a whole brand new day today and it smelt nice and was free from pollution.  Whenever it rains it is as though the previous day got washed away and a new day begins. I feel a calming peace as I start out with this new slate, wiped clean just for me. And yesterday’s unsolved problems are taken care of with new solutions and brand new energy.

Is it just me or do you also see clearer on a newly washed day? I thought so! Have a trully blessed day 🙂

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.

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.

11 Sep

Who are you? hoo, hoo, hoo hoo!

I really wanna know… Okay, I’ll stop singing. Last night some dear friend sent me a text saying” guess who this is?” and “What’s your landline number”? It was close to midnight and I was up so after replying to the text, I grabbed the phone waiting. Patiently. It is nearly midnight on the morrow and my friend still hasn’t called. It was a Georgia number and I have my suspicions as to who she (or he) may be and I have narrowed it down to four possible friends but I refuse to break. I’ll stay strong and wait. Patiently. And I know you’ll call. Soon.

I’ll keep you posted!

06 Sep

Life, Actually

The common cold. It sure ain’t common to me, especially as it knocked me for 6 yesterday. You may have read an earlier post where I chronicled my pet peeves. Sore throat I think was number 3 on the list. It is a simple ailment that everyone gets from time to time, but when Toks gets it, it is no longer so simple. It affects my mood. It affects my energy levels. It keeps me irritated. It ensures I look only to self, thinking that self is going through the ringers, all for a sore throat. I want to stop ALL activity, hide under the covers and place myself on propofol (tasteless I know, couldn’t resist).

It is the same way with a pebble in your shoe. You have a head (hopefully just one), shoulders, arms, knees, feet and everything else. Yet one pebble touching just one of your ten toes on one of your two feet, which is one of your many body parts can cause you to stop your journey, sit down and work at dislodging that pebble.

A similar scenario is this journey called life. An annoying pebble finds it’s way into our grand big plans and throws us off course, causing us to sit still and take the time to make the journey less tedious. Sadly by the time the pebble is removed, we’ve missed the bus of opportunity. We catch another one but it takes us somewhere else, not to our dream destination but an alternative- one that “will do”. Some even forfeit the journey altogether and go back home, to the job they hate or the relationships that hinder.

Meanwhile there are those other travellers who are just like us  but in unlike some of us they have no shoes and are used to walking on, in and around pebbles. Every step they take is bound to be taken on pebbles. Yet they keep going because they know they will get there and they also want to, at any cost. And they arrive at their desired destination reaping the rewards that come with persistence and hardwork.

Can you ignore the pebble in your shoe today? It will not kill you. I ignored my sore throat for what might possibly be the first time in my life yesterday because I am self-employed and can’t afford to take time off work. I actually survived the day, surprise, surprise! Yesterday came and went, I worked through it all and today I am fine. I shall not spend the evening even thinking about buses I’ve missed. Thank God for countless second chances in Christ.

What’s your pebble?

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 🙂