Sunday, December 17, 2017

QUEENS, KINGS & CASTLES




Any time a person measures their lives by other people’s opinions and standards, that, in fact, is insecurity.

You are a soccer athlete and you have been celebrated by those around you for the most part of your life. You meet a swimmer athlete who has also been celebrated their whole life. For some weird reason, you start questioning your abilities as an athlete. All of a sudden, you start to think, perhaps you’re not good enough. 

Every human has hidden insecurities. At least that’s the one place we’re truly equals. The most powerful in rank and class proved my thesis when I saw season 2 episode 8 of “The Crown.” Totally love that show by the way. If they feel that way, despite their prestige, then it’s safe to say all humans are victims of this one issue. 

So, POTUS met the Monarch in the 60’s. 🙌🏾

Prior to this long awaited meeting, the First Lady, Jackie Kennedy, dominated international news. She was praised by the press as the most beautiful and intelligent woman of her time. She spoke multiple languages and had attended great colleges. She was the woman every woman aspired to be. 

The Queen of England on the other hand, was possibly the most powerful and influential person in the world. She, at the time, had just had her third child and was feeling a little insecure about herself. Totally normal post-partum sentiments, I can relate. She referred to herself as a “middle aged woman.” She watched First Lady Jackie on TV and just disliked her for how she seemed to enjoy all the attention. Even the Prime Minister attested to how smart the First Lady Jackie was, but the Queen quickly dismissed his statement, saying, “it’s her looks.” The climax of jealousy would hit as soon as they met. 

Anyhow, after pleasantries were exchanged(which POTUS and FLOTUS totally bummed), the Prince Philip spent time shamelessly flirting with First Lady Jackie Kennedy. At one point, he offered to personally give her a tour of Buckingham Palace. It was at this point that Queen Elizabeth had had enough. The Queen insisted on giving the First Lady the tour herself. After all, it was her castle.

In her very private chambers, the two women experienced something significant. They realized that contrary to what the world thought of them, they were just two women. Women like you and I. Phenomenal moment I must say. 
They were not encumbered by expectations or public profiles in that moment. They were just two shy women who loved animals and had been positioned by fate and destiny in positions of authority and much responsibility. 

“No, I liked her very much. And I’d been all set to loathe her. But in the end, I was utterly charmed. People are so rarely what they seem”, the Queen said. 

How many times have you loathed someone as a result of your own insecurities?

Sometimes as a person, when you are jealous of someone who appears to be occupying a domain you like, it just might mean you have underlying insecurities that floated to the surface. 
Our insecurities are manifested through our emotions. If not recognized and properly handled, they could lead us into non-constructive words and actions. 

I sat down to ask my husband about his perspective on insecurities surrounding our lives as humans. His response blew me away and I hope it does the same for you. 

“It was my first job. I was a dishwasher for Ryan’s Buffet restaurant in Louisiana. In my second year working there, a new guy joined us on the job. He was Jamaican.
We shared a lot in common.
Like me, he was an international student at Grambling State University- majoring in Computer Science. He was a freshman while I was finishing my sophomore year.
As dishwashers, we were also responsible for mopping the floor once the restaurant closed, so it wasn’t uncommon for our day to end at 1 or 2AM.
Those days, I mostly felt sorry for myself and despised my circumstances as I considered myself at the very bottom of the socio-economic ladder.
Such manual labor was beneath what I deserved out of life.
One late night, as we mopped the floor together, Damian pointed at me and said the words that flipped my perspective and changed my life:
“That’s the guy with the life I want”.
I came to understand that no one wishes to be stuck at the level of a restaurant dishwasher; but as far as progress goes, it’s an invaluable step in the right direction and I must be grateful.
He was a freshman and from his perspective, if he’s “like me” in the next year, then his dream is achieved.
That lesson on perspective and appreciating every step on this journey called life, has stuck with me till now.
I may not have everything I feel I deserve, but I thank God that I am where I am right now.”

Insecurities can arise from any number of places/situations 
  • I, not feeling that I’m where I need to be in life can cause me to be insecure about my capabilities 
  • Seeing someone else thriving in a domain I wish to thrive in, can cause me to be insecure about why they get to be there and I don’t. Am I not good enough too?
The list goes on and on.
The key is to recognize these insecurities and take appropriate action.

What you do about insecurities?
  • Acknowledge it.
  • Learn to appreciate where you are.
  • Know your castle.
  • Know who you are.
  • It’s all about perspective. 
  • Do not compare.
  • Do not talk down someone else to elevate yourself, it only leaves a hole. 
  • Be content every little step of the way. 
  • Do not hate, appreciate. 

As a woman, I am a Queen in my Castle. Whether I like the size of it or not, only I can do something about it. I am the only one at liberty to let in or let out. 

Every other Queen has the same rights in their territory. Some Queens are intimidated by other Queens’ castles, but it doesn’t change or affect your castle, except you forget who you are. 

Like the Queen of England, she didn’t need to be in competition with the First Lady of the United States. She was already the most powerful woman in the world. She only needed to see herself for what she truly was and still is. 

Positions do not define us, but who and what we believe we are. We are all equals in insecurities. We may not be equal in wealth or age or class, but when it comes to insecurities, we are truly equals. 
Hence it is up to each of us, to handle our own insecurities properly.
Remember your crown was made to fit.



Sunday, December 10, 2017

RELATIONSHIPS LIKE ROSES.


If you admire a rose, soon enough you will experience its thorns. That analogy makes me want to leap from my writing position. 💃🏽💃🏽
Life, like a rose is incomplete without nuances that are often as prickly as thorns. There is no relationship in life without problems and challenges here and there. 

“You don’t develop courage by being happy in your relationships everyday. You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.”
— Epicurus

Relationships ought to exist beyond what we can benefit from others. A relationship should be about the other person and less about you. If we treated relationships with this law in mind, wouldn’t you agree that the world would be a better place?

So, what do I hope to achieve with these words today?

A lot. 
I hope this article stirs you up to work hard at preserving the good relationships in your world. 
I hope it makes you think of someone who has been good to you and you reach out to them and make an effort to improve, repair or restore your relationship. I hope you think about getting to know your neighbors and genuinely start caring about them and showing them you care. 

Recently, I had to pull my grown girl pants up to have a chit chat with myself about how I treat my relationships. Sometimes I’m great and then I fall off and I lose really great friendships. Mostly, because I find it hard to keep up or I am consumed with my own life and literally have no time to create space for others. Reality check! This is the same for most millennials- between work, children and marriage and old friends, we just end up preferring our safe haven of independence and individualism. 

Of course, this way of thinking, is sometimes inherited from our parents or adopted from our peers. However, no real happiness comes from isolation. Isolation, instead, often leads to depression. 

The more you lose faith in genuine human relations, the more isolated and depressed you become! 
I for Isolation = D for Depression. 
Most of us expect the world to revolve around us and lash out at everything when things don’t work our way. Our generation, especially, is somewhat full of children who only think of “me, me me” or “I, I, I.” Grow up! 🤓

I believe strongly that positive relationships that are built on a desire to be of value to others can reduce the risk of depression. 
We live in great homes in America but refuse to meet our neighbors. I mean it beats me. Though my parents were very protective of us, we still enjoyed the joys of relationships with great neighbors while growing up in Nigeria. 
Parents could leave their children with their next door neighbors without hesitation or a second thought. I have heard older folks in America attest to this style of living years ago.

Mothers would be less grumpy and parents would be happier. Just knowing someone is there sometimes. My opinion..

You might be asking; what do I need to change to have and keep better relationships?
  • Be deliberately caring.
  • Invest your time by giving it
  • Make less excuses 
  • Apologize promptly 
  • Learn people’s love languages and give them love their way, not your way. 
  • Be honest. 
  • Have realistic expectations. 
  • Avoid listening to malicious gossip
  • Seek for only the best in people. 
In any given relationship you are only expected to love and give love. Give whatever you would want for yourself. It’s the law of nature to receive what you give, maybe not from the same route. If you want kindness, give kindness! If you want love, give more love. 

Have you heard the saying, “no one is an island”? I strongly believe that you need the right relationships to achieve success in life. It’s impossible to be great without mastering the art of relationships.

At the same time, some of the richest and most successful people are often the loneliest. Gifted people end up ignoring the most important gift- the gift of humans, as they bury themselves in their talents or money. No wonder suicide seem like the next and only option. 

Robin Williams is one of the most brilliant comedians I had seen on TV as a girl and his death shook me. I wondered how someone who made the world laugh had such a hole in his heart deep enough to lead him to commit suicide. Die like no one cared about him. That hurt 😔 

You might ask again, how can I manage relationships and success? Truth is; it is hard just like anything else. Marriage even becomes tougher as you have children. 😜😊. 
So, you see, it requires a little more effort than your usual. 

God help us all!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

THE R-CLOUD...



Hubz and I have been married for two years now and I think I have earned a small license to tell some married couple jokes. Lol. Thankfully we are both romantics, so we both can tell you, it’s not always picture perfect. There are many “cut” moments on this journey, so let’s laugh a little. 

The front that a marriage has to put up sometimes in the name of romance is crazy, especially for newly weds. It is not necessarily a requirement but every marriage probably finds itself wobbly at the game of romance everyday. Thank God John and I are way past that or I should say I grew up and I am way past that now😆. 

I would say I am a romantic. Before now, I’d spent most of my time in the R-cloud. 😂😂. Sometimes, I still do but I don’t require my charming King to sweep me off my feet any more. I love romantic comedies, and of course I’d laugh and cry at any given opportunity. 
Hubz and I are criers 🙈🙈😂😂. One of our fine romantic moments when we were dating, was when we watched “The fault in our stars.” We cried and held each other so much. I knew he was my soulmate after that beautiful euphoria.

Did Hollywood do all that? 😅

The actors are great, but we can’t blame them for doing their jobs perfectly. They make you fall in love with love.

Romance is great and a vital part of the relationship two people experience. Even friendships experience romance. So do businesses obviously. 
The dictionary has an interesting informal description of romance: 

"to court or woo romantically; treat with ardor or chivalrousness: He's currently romancing a very attractive widow."

"to court the favor of or make overtures to; play up to: They need to romance the local business community if they expect to do business here."

The formal meaning is fiction, a novel. A tale out of this world, which explains what I call the R-cloud experience. 

When we get into relationships, we realize our expectations are far fetched. Unfortunately, some people lose out on great relationships because of unrealistic expectations. Expectations are great, but how do you react when your expectations are not met?

Like I wrote above about my hubz and I, we have now been officially married for two years and I find that in our real movie, we get to decide freely what our romance is. I remember during one of our counseling sessions(yes, we have those 😜), our counselor had asked us to describe what romance is to each of us and then swap notes. 

What I find romantic isn’t what my husband find romantic and so we need a balance. 

What do you find romantic? 

As a person, you are going to have to make a conscious effort to highlight the reality of some of the things you are asking for. 

Take for instance, I have a new baby(14 months old in few days) who has refused or let’s just say... we have both refused to stop breastfeeding. I am a mom for the second time and this is a totally different experience. I enjoy breastfeeding him, but anyhow, this has allowed for reduced romance in our marriage. 
We now even call each other Daddy and Mommy, which I detest. We can’t be the only ones experiencing this phase. 😂😂. 

If we’re not careful, what could happen is: built up expectations could cause you to start resenting your spouse instead of growing, understanding and making the best use of the situation to create romance. 

We threw my son a party yesterday and I tell ya, my hubby and I were so romantic that I felt special. I was genuinely happy that we weren’t putting up a front but we were just so relaxed in our minds that there was room for few kisses and hugs here and there. 

In movies, romance is planned and executed, but in reality, romantic experience is “created”. An example is: Bickering about everything would tear you apart rather than draw you closer. Fighting each other less would gradually create romance between you two, it would draw up understanding and draw you closer and that’s “romance created”. 
In other words, I no longer think of romance as an occurrence in an instant, that leaves me feeling “lovey dovey”, even though that’s part of it; but it’s a state-of-being that’s created out of a mutual understanding.

You could have two couples who have no children but are not romantic. They could go on dates, project an image of being in love; like hold hands, and yet not be romantic. I have found that the mind is associated with our feeling of romance and just like sex, it needs to be unclogged to feel and experience romance. 

The upside of romance is that it’s endless if the atmosphere is kept up. You not only benefit your mind and your spouse’s, but your children’s as well. It’s like acting out a real Hollywood romance in real life. 
The downside however, is if anything were to happen to these movie idols you have created, the children could be heart broken and find it hard to believe in love. Some children lose faith in marriage or romance all together while some grow up and accept life as it comes. 

So what grade would you give your expectations in the romantic department? 
Is your head so far in the clouds that you’re desperately in need of finding a balance? 
Or are you the complete opposite?

I would honestly advise everyone out there to live life as realistically as possible. Don’t be a fictional princess who in reality would never find a Prince Charming- because life is not a Disney movie. 
A real prince is a real person who feels every real emotion that you do. Don’t lose out on the great relationships around you because of unrealistic expectations. 

With your reality, you get to set the tone of your romance. You get to choose what that is without getting carried away into the R-cloud. 
Don’t worry I had to grow up and so can you!