#1000Speak -Today and always you are my family

I am Nigerian living in South Africa but I have most of my family in Nigeria and one of my little sister in the north, Abuja.

When Boko Haram started their terror I was already here. Anytime there is news on their attack I hold my breath and try to disassociate myself from the news. I have never been good with pain. I have never been good with talk of death. Anyone very close to me knows not to use the word “death” around me- I just can’t- God knows that I would completely break down and lose it if anyone close to me that I love dies- so He has spared me till this day. When the girls were kidnapped I didn’t even want to imagine or think of them or of what they were going through or being subjected to. It made me uncomfortable because I was once a girl and I have been through some certain life challenges I didn’t want to remember.

But today, I refuse to disassociate myself from the pain of the families whose girls were kidnapped and the girls too, from the families who have lost their loved ones in any bomb blast and anyone who has been affected by this gruesome act.

Today I become their family. Today they become the ones I love.

If I could visit them, I’ll sit with them and cry, cry for the life of my brother that’s been cut short, cry for my sister who would not get to see her son’s 5th year old birthday, cry for my niece who would not have her first kiss, cry for my nephew who would not kick that football with his friends no more, cry for my daughter who I won’t plan her wedding and cry for my son who I won’t attend his graduation or grill him about his girlfriends.

I would cry, roll on the floor and wail. I will sit with my sister and hold her hands; I will go to my brother’s house and cook for him and his kids because his wife won’t be coming home again; I’ll bath and feed my nephew and niece because mommy is not going to be able to do that no more.

Today and everyday from now I’ll pray that God give them STRENGTH and the WILL to go on, to live, to take each day as it comes despite the pain and sorrow. And to the girls that were kidnapped, their lives have been changed forever and as a woman who was once a girl and who has gone through some life challenges not EVEN close to theirs, I pray for HEALING for their body, their soul and their heart.

Today I hope they know that somebody somewhere loves them with all her heart and wishes she was there with them.

Today I decide not to disassociate myself from the pain of others and show more empathy for my fellow brothers and sisters.

Today I speak out for compassion.

for the global movement 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion.  

updated 23-02-2015

I have failed and failed and failed, again and again

30-Something and Finding New Purpose

Sometimes I think of how I wish I can go back in time and give my 20-something-year-old-self a knock on the head with some insightful advice on how to live life that would have made my ‘now’ so much better; pick the right career, take advantage of opportunities, save money when it was coming in like there was no tomorrow, control impulsive spending like it was going out of fashion, never buy ANYTHING on loan, take friendships more seriously, avoid the relationships that really put me in big mess, invest in something that would have yielded great results now or pursued my passion and not have given up because it didn’t work out; I would not be where I am today…

But you know what? I can’t turn back the hands of time, I can’t go back into the past, I just have ‘here’, ‘now’ and the ‘future’.

The Past, Now and the Future- What Next?

I have had lots of “dreams” over the years! All I wanted to do was to design something, anything. At 16, I wanted to be a fashion designer and worked as an illustrator for fashion designers but they’ll take my drawings, sign on them and won’t pay me and that kind of job was not taken seriously then in my country, so I gave up. I loved drawing so at 17 I enrolled in college to study art and 4 years after, I majored in sculpture. At 24, I became a single mum right after college and needed to buy pampers and baby food that means- I needed a job! That ended my career as a sculptor which never even started- I got a job as a curator and gallery manager. At 28, I moved on to start my own art consulting business, documenting art collections and selling art. After a year, the business went bankrupt due to the 2008 recession- I made a really bad business decision.

That was a crash I did not think I will survive from- everything went downhill from there. It took me over a year to even sit down and re-evaluate my mistakes and all that had happened. I had someone looking up to me and I had to do something. So I asked myself, what other career can I pursue that involves something like art, like what I’m familiar with? Then I decided to be an Interior Designer- at least people are always moving in to houses or buying a house, so I would never be out of a job! I packed my bags, with the little money I had, took a huge risk, left my son and moved to another country to study Interior Design (no university in my country offered that course). But again, I was faced with big challenges of paying for my school fees that I had to drop out and afterwards getting a full-time or good paying job was a struggle. Finally got a job as an interior design intern which was for only 1 year and the next year another job as a 3D model designer. After 8 months I got an email asking me not to come back to work that my services were not needed! NOT AGAIN! I have failed and failed and failed and failed again. It-just-seemed-like-I-could-not-get-a-breakthrough-at-this-thing-called-life! Just seemed like I was entering the wrong train every time! SMH! When I turned 35 I felt like a failure- I had failed at my relationships, being a mum, being a fashion designer, a sculptor, an interior designer, running a business…

So, since it seemed like I had become an expert at failing I knew what to do next after I lost my job- I re-evaluated myself, my past mistakes and the terrible choices I made and decided to turn my failure to passion and then to purpose.

You see, I had been managing my sisters makeup blog and Facebook page for 2 years as a hobby and I enjoyed it! I didn’t even know that kind of thing was a job or a career till I lost my job! Today, I own my own business managing and creating stories for social media platforms- so you can guess what my business motto is- “Dream it, Believe it, Make it Happen”! Sometimes friends ask me if I’ll ever go back to being an artist and designer or a full-time artist and I tell them that I still am and will always be a designer. In my new career, I design stories and content for social media platforms! Knowing when to post, crafting the visuals for several social platforms- that is an art!

You think you’ve messed up really badly at this thing called life? There’s still hope! Here are some steps I took that got me to stop “feeling defeated” and “start making things happen”!

What makes you itch?

Sit down with a piece of paper and find your ‘WHAT’. What gets you very excited? What keeps you up at night? What wakes you up in the morning? What problems can you solve? Managing my sisters blog kept me up at night! It was exciting creating the visuals for her posts or researching what to write about, sharing on several platforms and trying to figure out WordPress! And what problem was I solving for her? Lots! Like being able to share her works on several networks, letting people know that she’s good at what she does (my internet service where I live is so much better than hers) therefore allowing her to concentrate on what she does best- being a makeup artist.

What is your social capital?

You don’t need finance to start your ‘WHAT’. Look around you- What is your ‘Social Capital’? Is it your Laptop? Your Phone? Your friend who won’t mind you using his office for twice a week? Your kitchen? Your blog that hasn’t been visited in days, months? That camera you have that is sitting down and gathering dust? There’s got to be something! Look around you! For me, all I had left was my laptop and the skills I got at design school and working as a 3D artist preparing creative visuals for submission of assignments or finished jobs.

Understand that having passion is not enough.

To turn your passion into a lifelong career, you have to cultivate habits that compliment your core skills. Take steps to acquire knowledge that will equip you with tools that you will use to become so good at what you have decided to do. Go for training’s and if you can’t do that you have a new best friend- the internet. Do your research. Drink in as much knowledge as you can and practice. I delved into the world of social media and started reading posts by social media experts- the internet is my school and the experts my teachers!

Believe in yourself.

John Maxwell in his book, ‘Put your dream to test’ wrote, “Be willing to bet on yourself. You may succeed if nobody believes in you, but you will never succeed if you don’t believe in yourself.”

Start small and start NOW.

Procrastination kills more dreams than failure ever will. Trust me! I know! I’m still dealing with that evil habit!

Deal with fear.

Fear (shuddering) is the BIGGEST obstacle to pursuing your dreams. It is crippling and will steal your dreams from under you- you won’t even know when its gone. Fear makes you tell yourself that you’ll go after your dreams when you have acquired more skills, or more money, or more time, but the truth is, that will never happen. Only when you can finally move on from your fears and recognize how it is holding you back, then can you begin to move forward.

“Be willing to bet on yourself. You may succeed if nobody believes in you, but you will never succeed if you don’t believe in yourself. John Maxwell”I dealt with my fear and took that big step! Don’t get me wrong, my business is barely 2 years old and I’ve had lots and lots of challenges building it from ground zero and fear creeps in once in a while- I lie- most of the time. That little voice in my head- I think it’s the one with the red horns- creeps in and tells me I’m not good enough…what the heck do you know about social media…there are gurus out there and nobody knows you…you are a little fish in the big ocean of big fishes…you are going to fail again… But you know what I do? I ask myself this question- “What Would You Attempt to Do If You Knew You Could Not Fail?” So every day with the knowledge that what I am doing is not just for me but for that boy who calls me mum-

“I Get Up, Dress Up, Show Up and Never Give Up”.

You can stay defeated and watch things happen or get back up and make things happen. Maybe you are in your 30’s or 40’s, you have lost your direction and you think it’s too late? Maybe it’s time to re-evaluate yourself, your past mistakes and experiences and use it as a springboard to find a new dream! It’s up to you now- what do you do with HERE and NOW? What do you do with the FUTURE?

When the world says, “Give up,” Hope whispers, “Try it one more time.” ~Author Unknown

What advice would have given your stubborn 20-something-year-old self? This will be fun to read! If you have blogged about it please share the link so that I can read it 🙂