Posts by RantsByGbemi

On Being Away… Again

Some things never change, like me just going away for so long. Especially without a word, especially after I promised to “be back in one week”.

 

You want to know what else doesn’t change – excuses. I always have perfect excuses. I see you rolling your eyes. Calm down. I swear you’ll understand this time. I promise.

 

You know I mentioned that I was married at the time. Well, I forgot to add that I was pregnant (or maybe I intentionally skipped that part, dunno dunno, the Yoruba girl in me came thraaa). Well, you know what pregnant women do? They sleep. Most of them at least (see I said them and not us?). I’d either be asleep or be so tired that I’d be useless to myself and the rest of humanity, understandably so. I was carrying a whole empire in me, that takes a lot out of work.

 

And you know why I didn’t come up here when I just had a baby? Because a baby is a full-time job, more work than dressing up and showing up to work every day; but I do what I have to do, which is taking care of my baby. That’s that for excuses.

 

Now that I am back, there’s so much to tell you, if you bear with me.

 

Stay a little longer, will you?

Long Time No See

This is the longest I have been away from my blog, and for good reason too. I may have mentioned once or twice that as ridiculous as it is for someone who writes personal stories, I am a very private person. Someone once likened me to a “Touch-Me-Not” flower that first closes off when you try to touch it. Except that there are no guarantees about who I open up to.

A lot happened in the last year that I will share, so this might be a long read. I took time off as I always do, to internalize everything, and really just settle into my new life.

I got married, which is perhaps one of the strangest, yet happiest things I have had to say this year. The last time I posted I was single, and only, as I used to see, exploring a strong lead. But God does work in mysterious ways. I wrote about it on my other blog, but I wasn’t sure I was ready to share here.

As usual, I will try to be a bit vague, but I truly hope you can piece everything together. Prior to my husband, my last real-a-tionship ended in March 2013 (I could tell you the exact date, but it would make me seem petty). About that time, my husband somehow came to be in the same space that I was. However, my emotional space, and personality, and his as well, ensured that we would not be friends until November 2015. The first time he asked me out on a date, I gave him my usual “booked for the month” run-around. There was my cousin’s wedding, and Night of Worship (which by the way you should try to attend) and Black Friday, all in November, so there was no way I was going on a date. Also, the year 2015 had been one of the most physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally challenging years for me. I made terrible decisions, had a nervous breakdown and lost my aunt. I also had to have to chest x-rays, as I just didn’t seem to get better. And so if you finally have peace after trying to hide from the voices in your head under your living room chair, you will do everything within your power to protect your space.

In any case, the Mr. seemed quite insistent on a date, and it was a safe place – church. So one Sunday, I followed him to church. Afterwards, he asked for a proper date and I obliged. Afterwards, I thought “not bad” but being careful of beginner’s luck, I chickened out again. I played this on-and-off game with him for about a year. One because I wasn’t sure, and two because I had sold myself so short all my life I wasn’t going to make another decision that I’d regret. But finally, God was doing a whole lot of work on me and I didn’t even have a clue.

To be continued next week…

Prejudice: A Personal Experience

Disclaimer: By typing this, I am not making generalizations about any race or ethnicity. I am simply sharing my story as it happened to me. If you do not agree with my story, welp…

I live in Nigeria, the most populous black nation in the world so it’s a no-brainer that almost everyone in Lagos, my country’s commercial capital, is Black. And while Lagos has a thriving expatriate community, I would believe that their population pales in comparison to the population of Nigerians.
I live in a block of flats in Ikeja. It’s not spick and span but it’s fair enough. It’s close to work, actually a walking distance, so I get to dodge the crazy Lagos traffic. It’s also very quiet and is the perfect hide-out for a hermit like me. My neighbors are from Nigeria, India, Philippines and Vietnam, so it’s quite the mix. I rarely have people come over, enough to make anyone uncomfortable but even when I have guests, I make sure we’re not invading anyone’s privacy.

 
Last weekend, my friend, who stays with me on and off, was trying to shoot a short home-made film. It’s really a project on the scale of say, a make-up tutorial. Only difference was the fact that we wanted something with a professional touch, so we got a videographer, while my friend’s brother and another friend of mine were assistants. In all, I had about eight people over, most of whom were inside my apartment. We had a scene to shoot outside, which involved a male friend driving my car, into the premises and parking right outside my apartment. I made sure we didn’t go beyond my apartment as I didn’t want to invade anyone’s privacy.

 
About an hour into the shoot, I get a call from the estate management to ask why I have people over. The facilities’ manager goes on and on about how my expat neighbors are uncomfortable because I have guests. I explain that all we’ve done outside is drive my car into the gate and park it at my allotted spot but he’s too unrealistic to listen. Finally I tell him, in my loudest voice which my expat neighbor on the third floor can hear that all I have done is drive the car that I bought into the compound where I pay rent and service charge and park in my allotted spot. I also tell him that I believe that I am loud enough so anybody who has a problem with my friends coming and going out of my house should come downstairs and meet me. Sadly, no one came downstairs.

 
I had heard stories in the past about expats trying to make sure no locals live in the same apartment complex as I did. I always thought they were really far-fetched. However, paying attention to race relations and last Saturday’s events really made me understand something. There is a FEAR of black people that I cannot understand. If you live in Nigeria, a country of black people, why should you be scared if you see black people? You shouldn’t be here at all if you are afraid. It is probably one of those things I will never understand, but I also will never condone it. I am my mother’s daughter.

 
I did get an apology from my estate management on Monday evening, and a plea for this not to be on the internet. But I own my experiences and what I choose to do with my what has happened to me is totally up to me. To paraphrase Anne Lamott, if people want you to write kindly about them, they should treat you better.

 
How’s everyone else doing?

The Girl who walked on Water

“Come”, he said.

 

Breathe deeply. Hold your breath. Let it out. Repeat. Then step out. One foot, then the next. Forward. Repeat.

That’s all she had to do – deep breaths, one foot in front of the other, forward movement – to walk on water. It seemed easy except she never got past taking deep breaths, understandably so. Who would imagine that she would ever contemplate walking on water, she who couldn’t swim? The absurdity and sheer insanity of it was worrisome. She had always played safe – no late nights, no speeding, no unhealthy eating – and it had always worked for her.

 

But then it was He who was calling out to her. He seemed to always have a clearer picture of these things than anyone else. And He seemed trustworthy. He was out on the water too, and He seemed pretty comfortable so maybe He knew more about these things than she did. She had read in the past about how Peter walked out on the water to meet Him – somewhere on the way He took his eyes of the man, Jesus, and he started sinking. Jesus saved him, but still, she wasn’t one to take chances.

 

Her gaze could be on a million things at once, so how could she keep her eyes stayed on Him? There were bills to be paid, goals to fulfill and dreams that she had to live out in colour. Then the nightmares too. It was hard. He had always told her not to worry, but surely He must know she was a worrier and thinker.

 

But this boat didn’t feel as good anymore.

 

In a way, she’d worried herself into a hole. One that caused her boat to fill up with water. And it was filling up so rapidly it didn’t make any more sense to stay in it. And well, He was persistent and reassuring. He had never stopped calling out to her, so maybe it was time to try this out.

 

Gingerly, with her eyes on Him, and her heart on His word, she tried again.

Breathe deeply. Hold your breath. Let it out. Repeat. Then step out. One foot, then the next. Forward. Repeat.

And boy, did she walk!

And there was sinking, and floating, and walking and flying, and tears and laughter. And there was failing and starting over again.

But she was never ever afraid of raging storms again.

On Gender Equality and Lip Service: Beyond the Pay Gap

Women deserve equal pay for equal work.
You know, she deserves to have a baby without sacrificing her job. A mother deserves a day off to care for a sick child or sick parent without running into hardship. And you know what, a father does too. It is time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a “Mad Men” episode.
– President Barack Obama

In the last few years much has been said about trying to close the gap between working conditions and expectations for men and women. You know how it’s so cool for a man to take time off work once in a while to attend Open Day at his child’s school, but if a woman did as she is naturally expected to, it would be asking for too much too often?

Many women groups and mentoring programs have sprung up in the last few years to address this. These programs take on different shapes and forms – you may get assigned a professional mentor who has probably gained experience in your area of specialization and who is supposed to be able to teach you the ropes. She’s also supposed to teach you how to be a superwoman – to combine family and a successful career.
Here’s why I have questions: Many women are managers, employers of labour, decision makers, heads of human resources in their respective organizations. So why is it still so hard to help other women progress or get better working conditions for the women who work under them. It’s because as it is with many other things, there’s a lot of motion and no movement, and I dare say plenty of lip service. Its easy to step into a power suit and step on a platform and talk about wage gap and how we wish it were easier for women to grow their careers while raising their families, and then go right back to the office and be the ice queen that no woman would dare ask for half a day off because she wants to attend her daughter’s recital. It’s also easy to talk about how it’s important to have a work life balance when raising children but complain that work is suffering when someone is asking for an extra month of maternity leave, albeit unpaid, so she can bond with her baby.
I’m treading carefully here, seeing as I don’t have kids yet and I have not been in the position to actively steer a company’s HR policies as I would. I’m also not trying to rubbish the work of women who dedicate their time and effort to mentoring other women and help them on their respective career journeys. It’s a lot of work.
I’m just saying here that if we paid a little more attention and showed a little more empathy to the women around us, perhaps we would advance our own cause faster than if we spoke empty words. Start where you are. Mentor the women around you, create a warmer workplace. By doing this you create a domino effect where women naturally show empathy towards other women and are sensitive to the dynamics of work-life balance. If you’re head of human resources, maybe your next employee retention program/ strategy should include the idea of a creche for children of employees, maybe an extra two weeks paid maternity leave and more child friendly policies. Maybe we could all just show empathy, knowing how hard it is to juggle home and work life for women. Be the woman other women can talk to and trust.
Beyond Labour Day and International Women’s Day speeches, beyond “Lean In” book clubs and trying to chase superwoman, there’s real work to be done. And it won’t get done if we-men don’t roll up their sleeves and fight for what they should actually get. This is how progress is made.

Light a fire where you are.

My Beautiful Disruption

“Is it dusk yet. Yes? Okay. Listen up! This will be long.

When I took this photo, I was just hoping to capture a beautiful sunset as I used to do every evening on my way home over the bridge. Then this danfo comes out of nowhere to interrupt my view but I’m still clicking away anyways. I caught a few good shots, but for some reason I could never delete this one.

A few months and #snapseededits later, I look at this disrupted photo and it’s beautiful. And clearly different from all of the other sunrise and sunset photos I’ve taken.

God was telling me that this Disruption is my life. And it’s oh-so beautiful. And so, because I’ve put this off too long, I’d like to introduce you all to “The Beautiful Disruption” 😊

It’s been a long time coming, and it’s something that God gave me for everyone. It’s a collection of personal essays that strip the layers off and show you how God went out of His way to create this beauty that my life is, by removing everyone and everything that stood in His way, and sometimes, like this picture, by putting roadblocks in my way. And all the lessons I learned along the way.

Now it gets better: Some of us (my blog readers) will get the chance to share in this project. You get to read a few chapters. And because I know how important it is for us to tell our stories, I’m throwing it open for anyone who is willing to share their Disruption stories with the world. The only requirement is that you must realize that there is no shame. You didn’t go through all of this not to tell your stories.

Over the next couple of months, I’ll be sharing excerpts on the blog. I can’t wait for this journey.”

 

First I want to apologize for being away from here for so long. I wish I had a perfect and believable excuse, I don’t. I’ve just been feeling dissatisfied and uninspired (more on this later). I feel like there’s a lot on my plate but I’m learning to prioritize.

Back to the matter at hand.

I posted the text above and picture above a couple of weeks ago on the gram and I’m a little over excited even. I was going to do all I had to do in private, but i’m reminded that in the end it isn’t always about me. God gave me for me, and for many other people. I threw it open and the response has been overwhelming, which was just confirmation that God wasn’t playing when He asked me to go on.

I’m currently working on a dedicated website for this, should be up in another few months, and then we can start sharing. If you would like to be a part of this project or support it in any way, please holla!

Love and Light

‘Gbemisola

What I Learned From My Big Crop

So I recently cropped my hair, recently being last Saturday. And even though I like to convince myself that it was a spur of the moment decision, it was an idea I had played around with for a while. Maybe since last year. But I usually got swayed and just thought that the same old way was better. Before now, I had mostly had the same hairstyle for the past six years or so – side part (left side please). If I wanted to switch it up, I would braid my hair or wear a short weave. But I got tired. I feel like I went through a lot in the last year and I had earned the right to shed old skin. So at the end of April, I cut my hair shorter. But after about a week of running on auto-pilot I went back to what I knew. I saw my cousin’s hair this year and was inspired to do what I knew I wanted to do in my heart.  I asked a few people for their opinion (again) and everyone said “No” so I shelved my plans again so when I finally summoned the courage this weekend, I kept my decision away from everyone who could dissuade me. And the results were beautiful.

 

But here’s what I learned from cutting my hair:

  1. If you really want to do something, just go ahead and do it: I know this seems pretty obvious but you know how truth is often hiding in plain sight. But what I have learned from all of this is that once you are certain you want to do something, you don’t need any other opinions.
  2. You own your reality: Nobody knows you like you. You alone know what is best for you at every point in time, so just go ahead and do it. When you lay in bed at night, you’re only accountable to your God and to yourself. Be sure that you’re at peace with your decisions.
  3. You never know until you try: I had doubts about changing my looks, seeing as I had worn the same hairstyle for years. Even when I finally decided to chop my hair off, I thought that there was a slight chance that I would hate it the next day, and I had my wig nearby. But the next morning when I looked in the mirror I could barely stop smiling. Turns out I actually love it. Haven’t cut my hair this low since I was in JSS3, about seventeen years ago.
  4. Sometimes you just need a fresh start: When I told my sister I wanted to chop my hair, she said “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. But truth is, sometimes, you really need to stop patching things and give yourself a fresh start.
  5. Change is the only constant thing: I always joked that even if I had only one strand of hair left I wouldn’t chop it, seeing as I am, to a large extent, a girly girl. Well, look what we got here. Never say never. Stay open to life’s changes and just breathe.

Everything good will come!

Today will Probably Be the worst day of your life

Or the best.

And this is not a motivational speech, I promise.

I know we’ve all heard lines along “the day is what you make of it” so much that it sounds cliche. Well, it’s the truth. Every day has potential, to be the worst day of your life or the best day of your life. Your day can start off with everything that could possibly go wrong going wrong. While I believe in God, and force majeure, I also know that we often abdicate our duties to fate. And I know this, because I’ve been in the school of thought of waiting for perfect timing or conditions, or just a good vibe. I always imagined I would just sit down with these ideas and knowledge, and one day BOOM out of nowhere, I’m top of the game in my field. And the book I always swore I would write, well one day, I would just see my book on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Well, that didn’t quite work.

No. It didn’t work AT ALL.

Over the last few months, I’ve come to learn that if you want to do something, just do it. As they say, “leap, the net will appear”. If you’ve done your due dilligence about any decision you want to make, then just go ahead and do it. Don’t think yourself out of an innovative idea with impossibilities that only exist in your mind. There are no “perfect conditions”. There will always be bills to pay, and traffic, and everyone gets stressed, especially if you live in Lagos. If you wanted excuses for everything you did not want to do, you could write a whole book. In the words of Bruce Lee “if you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you will never get it done”

With every day that passes, you miss out on a day that could have been the day you started – the day you started writing, the day you started a business, the day you started creating – and you’re running out of time. Except you’re ageing in reverse (a la Benjamin Button), every day is one less day in the grand scheme of things. No one can pick your brains when you die, so if you think of something and you don’t do it, the idea dies with you. Or perhaps someone else will do it. Whatever, you get the idea.

Light a fire where you are.

Have a great week.