Age is not a number

Teenage girl touching chest, portraitI really wonder what would be the outcome if we were to take a poll to find out how many people would love to relive their childhood days. It’s like when you were a child you couldn’t wait to become a grown up so you could do whatever you wanted. The funny thing is that as a grown up, much as you’d like to romanticize your childhood and remember only the awesome experiences you had as a kid, that’s all there is to it. You’d never want to go back to that stage of your life. You know, as a kid, you would have a thousand and one people telling you what to do or what not to do. Nobody trusts that you can take a good decision for yourself. That stage is so over for me. I don’t want to go back there.

So now you’re more like an adult or semi-adult. You’re done with schooling and you expect everybody to know that you’re now independent (never mind that you still live under your parents’ roof) but somehow, your experiences now are not so different from that of your childhood. Every time you try to give your opinion, you are reminded that you’re just a child…’What do you know?’ Let’s take it down to your work place. So you’re on the lowest rung of the ladder cos you just got employed (and of course there’s that age factor) and you have good ideas you think will move the company/firm forward but…no one is calling on you for your opinion. As a matter of fact, it is still considered a taboo for a youngster like you to speak in the presence of your seniors…how dare you? You have to wait until the hairs on your head have turned snow white like theirs and if dementia hasn’t set in then maybe you may be allowed to speak.

There’s a popular Igbo proverb which when translated says, “If a child washes his hands properly, he will be allowed to eat with the elders.” That’s just the literal translation but in actual sense it means that when a child exhibits maturity, the elders will respect his inputs.

So, are you that smart kid around the block? Do you want to be that young person whose elders keep quiet when she speaks? I know one smart kid that humbled his elders once. He was only twelve but he sat among religious leaders and scholars who were not only decades ahead of him in age but also had years dedicated to studying the Torah. They were professors in their fields and had distinguished themselves in the skill of interpreting the law. They were amazed when this child began to express his views and challenge them on serious issues. They could not shut him up or ignore him. They were just spellbound by the wisdom in his words. He had washed his hands clean and they couldn’t deny him the privilege of eating with his elders.

Sometimes, you could limit yourself from reaching your potential for fear that your age may be an issue. Let no man despise your youth. If you have God’s wisdom within you, then it doesn’t matter what your age is, let your wise words be heard. People will flock to you for counsel. People tend to count age by the number of years spent on earth but we know that age is not a number…age is wisdom. Seek after wisdom and your years will cease to be a factor.

Stand out from the crowd and be the femmetotale.

Femmetotale

NB: Just a thought, I really wonder how many people would like to relive their childhoods. Let’s take a poll. All it takes is a click. Check out the poll on the side bar.

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The more obvious ones

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Look around and you’ll see them. They don’t hide in plain view. They have your attention even before you realize that you’re looking. Enter any classroom and you’ll see them. They are the center of everyone’s attention, giving tutorials to their classmates on lectures they received together. When it’s time to choose characters for the school drama they get lead roles. Nobody gets surprised. There’s no contest. Sometimes they move in groups, fulfilling the proverbial saying that birds of the same feathers flock together. Sometimes they walk alone. Enter any establishment and you’ll see them. They are the ones directing their colleagues on what to do. They are in churches too. Check your choirs and you’ll see them leading worship like they’ve sat in the presence of God forever. Go to the modelling industry. They’re the ones that have ‘super’ attached to their names. In the movie industries, they easily get the lead roles. They have been doing it all their lives. There is a mark of special quality in them that is not hidden. It’s not difficult to pick them out in a crowd. They are the more obvious ones.

I’ve noticed that in this world chances are always given to the more obvious ones. It’s just human nature to give opportunities to those that are not hesitant to step up and take centre stage. It didn’t start today. Generations upon generations have always picked out the more obvious ones. Supposing you’re in a managerial position and you need to get a job done. Naturally, you’ll choose the one that volunteers or appears capable of handling such responsibilities. Meanwhile there may just be someone hidden in the background who is more than capable of taking the lead. It’s just human nature.

Even the bible is filled with examples of the more obvious ones. When the Prophet, Samuel went to anoint a king in the house of Jesse, David’s father, he saw so many obvious ones. All David’s brothers were tall, huge and king-like. David’s father did not even remember to call him from the fields. Also, later in his life, when Goliath was threatening their land and David showed up to challenge him, nobody thought he was going to achieve much. Perhaps if it had been one of his brothers in the army the people would have hailed him jubilantly. Many decades after Jesus also faced the same issue. There was just no way the people could accept that he was the Messiah. He wasn’t huge and powerful like Samson. He wasn’t commanding any army like Joshua. He was just a simple man.

We always look out for the more obvious ones. During interviews and recruitments, the one with better qualifications and references always seems like the best choice. When choosing a partner, the one with the better job and better looks always seems like the best choice. Even when choosing friends, nobody goes for the less attractive person. Anybody walking with human feelings and understanding will always go for the more obvious ones. It is only with discernment that you can detect the right one. If you look very well there may be a small David somewhere that is able to achieve much more than you can imagine.

Sometimes you need to pay more attention to the less obvious ones.

Femmetotale.

We don’t fear their fears

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In the world of media, there’s a popular phrase that says, ‘there’s no news like bad news!’ The easiest way to get people to read newspapers or watch news channels is to circulate bad news. You know how they say, ‘Dog bites man is not news but when a man bites a dog, then that’s news’.  Have you ever wondered why the bad gossips about you seem to spread faster than good news about you? It’s like good news travels at the speed of sound while bad news travels at the speed of light. So human beings generally prefer to hear bad news than good news.

It doesn’t make sense! Why would people prefer bad news over good? The world trades in fear. Because of the evil in the world it makes perfect sense for people to expect bad things to happen over good. People expect to hear that Wall Street has crashed or that there’s economic recession, or there’s an impending war or suicide bombers have invaded the country. Good news just doesn’t sell except it’s sequel to a bad news.

Have you also noticed how hearing bad news affects your thinking, your behaviour and your habits? Just because the news say that there’s 80% failure rate in JAMB, you immediately assume that you must have failed. When you hear about the rate of unemployment (and I really wonder how they get those figures sometimes) you immediately start panicking. Your first assumption as a fresh graduate is that you may never get a job. Everybody says that husbands are scarce and all men cheat. You believe it and you’re now declaring it everyday like a mantra. They talk about the spread of cholera or some other disease and you immediately think you must have caught the disease. When you hear the news about the number of deaths from accidents and plane crashes, you immediately believe that your life may end any day soon. In simple words, what you hear is what you live. Information is very powerful. Media moguls and news makers have discovered this fact and they are making millions from it – ask Newspaper companies.

The politics of fear is part of everyday life. It’s like the devil steeps everything in fear. It squelches and gives no room for faith. Faith is the direct opposite of fear. Fear is an anticipation of something bad happening. It is the absence of faith. Faith on the other hand is the evidence of things not seen; the assurance of things hoped for. Both fear and faith are invisible and exist only in the mind but fear is almost tangible. It is often easier to feel fear than to accept faith.

Well, that’s for the people who don’t have hope in the one who actually has control over our lives. As Christians, we have different codes. We don’t fear the fears of people in the world. You should know that your life is not determined by the things happening in the world. The set of rules and principles we live by are different. For instance, the word of God says that when there’s a casting down, we shall say that there’s a lifting up! Isaac sowed in a land where there was famine and he reaped a 100 fold that year. If you’re worried about being affected by a pandemic then you must remember that He said, ‘He will not let you suffer from the terrible diseases you knew in Egypt but will inflict them on all your enemies.’ Deut 7:15. Are you worried about the employment rate? Then you must remember that He will give you the power to make wealth; the kind of wealth that doesn’t require you to work for anybody. Remember that He said, ‘No good thing will he withhold from them that love him’. Finally (and this is the most common one this period of the year), there’s the fear of -ember months. I wonder who even coined that word. There’s one kind of fear frenzy that starts towards the end of every year. I don’t know why people believe that there’s any difference between April and November? Is it not the same God that has kept you and shall He not finish what He started? The fear of the wicked will come upon him but the desire of the righteous shall be granted.

As we approach the end of the year, count your blessings and remember that we don’t fear their fears.

Be blessed…

Femmetotale

Turn off the noise

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I love waking up to the sound of morning birds chirping merrily, doves cooing loudly and cocks crowing to announce the new dawn. Stretching in my bed to the beautiful sounds of nature and breathing in the soft clear morning breeze helps me to start my day feeling very relaxed. Sounds like fiction right?

Okay, okay, I get it…you and I know I’m just dreaming and fantasizing because the only sound I’m waking up to in this city is the sound of my phone’s alarm clock trying to simulate something that can pass for birds chirping in the morning. You know, when you live in a big city like Lagos, somehow hearing me talk about those morning sounds just seems like something drawn out of Dorothy’s life in ‘the wizard of Oz’.

Talking about noise and cities, what sounds did you hear this morning when you woke up? A typical life of any upwardly mobile person living in the city would involve the loud blaring noise of drivers rushing out to beat traffic even while your eyes are still shut. It’s like the whole universe is being aligned by noise and the hustle and bustle of activity. From the time you wake up till you shut your eyes to sleepUntitled at night it is as if there’s some sort of competition on what noise will take first place in your life. Needless to say, my phone will most likely win that competition. In fact, I think phones should be included in the list of addictions. You know, alongside hard drugs, alcohol and nicotine (nicotine is a hard drug, right?). Ask any girl you know and she’ll tell you that a typical day of her life involves her phone. What am I even saying, the phone is now like an indispensable part of life. We practically live in our phones. I was talking with my brother recently and I was like, ‘what if you could check the mileage of your phone just like your car?’ He said, ‘of course you can.’ That led me to the shocker of my day. Mine was 11:22:45:10. Guess what that means! It means that between last year when I got the phone and today I have spent 11 days of my life on the phone. You should totally check yours. Depending on your phone setting, just check the total calls on your phone and please share with us on your comments. I wonder how many days of my life I’ve spent watching tv.

I’m sure you can count how many times you’ve observed stillness and silence in your life. It’s like we human beings have completely eliminated the possibility of silence in our lives. We have designed so many things that sustain the chatter day in, day out. It’s either your phone, radio, ipod, your tablet, PC or TV. Where is the place of silence in your life? It was when I found myself willing to answer calls or check messages on my phone while praying in the morning that I realised how serious it was.

Sometimes we need to turn off the noise in order that we may hear. If you’re seeking for direction in life then you must remember that He said, ‘And you shall hear a voice behind thy ear saying, ‘this is the way, walk ye in it’ Isaiah 30:21. How can you hear his voice when your world is filled with chatter? W e have to  find time to pause from all the noise in our lives. Sometimes we need to find a place of stillness that we may communicate with him. The psalmist recognized the importance of quiet and said, ‘He leads me beside the still waters and restores my soul. Sometimes, we need to turn off the noise but not completely though :D. You could just turn it down a bit. How else would you get to read femmetotale if you turned off all your devices?

Have a pleasant weekend!

Femmetotale

In the line of fire

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One of my favourite subjects in school was literature. Even before I got to the stage of studying it, I was already filled with anticipation. Imagine doing a subject that was part of my daily routine. I love reading. I would read all the recommended books and even give the summary to my friends that didn’t have the patience to read. It was in one of my literature classes that I first heard the word, onomatopoeia and it really piqued my interest. Like I said in my previous post, English is a very wonderful language. There are some words that have sounds which portray their meanings. Even if you don’t understand the language the sound of the word alone is enough to tell you its meaning. Take for instance, words like; hiss, splash or boom.

critics quoteThere’s one word I believe should be classified as onomatopoeia, the word ‘criticism’ and all variations of it that exist; ‘criticize’, ‘critic, critique, etc. The sound of it alone can really prick anybody. No one likes to be criticized. We all want to get people’s approval and be affirmed in all we do. When we’re criticized our first instinct is to think that nobody likes what we are doing or us. You might even say to yourself, ‘what’s the use trying so hard?’

Unfortunately we can never avoid criticism. I don;’t believe that there’s any great person who ever lived that never faced criticism. If you’re married then your husband must have criticized you at least once. It may be the dress you chose to wear, your cooking or your hair style. At your office, you must have faced criticism a good number of times from your superior or colleague and we women are so emotional that we easily slip into tears after our work is criticized (please if you want to get ahead in your career then you must put a big hold on your emotional side. Nobody takes an over-emotional woman seriously. See my old post on ‘the contemporary christian woman in the work place‘ I would love to say more about this but that’s a post for another day). As a student you are going to face thousands of criticisms from your peers. I think young people are the most criticized (this reminds me of one man that said he’s the most criticized….on earth :)). The fact is that once you set a goal for yourself and dare to stand out from the crowd, you are bound to be in the line of fire. If you can’t stand the heat, you may just have to run out of the kitchen.

Before you run out of the kitchen just because of criticism, here’s what you should know. There are two types of criticism – constructive (good) criticism and malicious (bad) criticism. Constructive criticism is usually laced with a compliment. It is given in such a way that you will be inspired to do better. Malicious criticism is given purely with the intention of pulling you down. The critic doesn’t care about making you do better.

Even the bible has something succinct to say about criticism. Prov. 15:31 & 32 (NLT) says, If you listen to constructive critics quotecriticism, you will be at home among the wise. If you reject discipline, you only harm yourself; but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding. In my own manual, I believe that there’s no such thing as bad criticism. Any form of criticism is good because it should spur you to do better either because you were inspired to do better or because of your desire to shame your critics. If life gives you lemons then make lemonades with it or in our Nigerian case, ‘if life gives you beans then you better make akara or moi-moi with it’. Even if you believe the criticism is unjustified, use it and improve on it. It’s easier said than done though. It’s not easy not to get hurt when people say mean things to you. The only way to avoid criticism is to stay away from the limelight and do nothing but if you dare to stand out then you will be in the line of fire.

Femmetotale

Me, myself and one

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English is a very wonderful language. I mean, I’m not a language expert but I know that it is one of the few languages that have different words that refer to the same thing. Take for instance the words; me, myself and I. All three words refer to ONE person. It’s a very powerful expression that emphasizes our basic human nature of self preservation.

Check the content of your thoughts every day. How much of your thoughts center on you (this is of course minus the significant other person that consumes a portion of your thoughts ;))? You think about the next beautiful thing you want to buy, the next degree you wish to acquire, the next vacation you want to take or the next look you want to change into for an event. Okay, let’s take a step further into the me-pool and talk about the other kind of ‘me-centered’ thoughts that consume our thought processes. Before you sleep at night what are the contents of your thoughts? The prayers you made that have not yet been fulfilled; the fact that you haven’t bought the car you so desire and you fear that it may soon stop trending, the job you are yet to get, your account balance, your would-be spouse, your bossy boss, etc.

So how long are you going to stay in that me-pool? You want to know what a me-pool is? If you’re depressed, worried about your life, anxious about something, complaining, or angry with God then you’re in a me-pool.

I was swimming in my own me-pool yesterday and I was so lost in thought that I didn’t notice the woman touching my shoulders gently. The frown on my face could have put her off but she was saying something and pointing at her mouth. I softened the look on my face and asked her to repeat herself. That was when I saw her amputated left arm. She didn’t seem like a beggar to me. I wanted to help her but for some reason I didn’t want to hear her say thank you to me. I gave her the money I had and walked away quickly. I felt different after doing that. You know, the way you feel when you step out of a pool. It dawned on me that sometimes the best way to separate the me, myself and I thoughts in your mind is to add another factor into the equation. Add ONE more person.

Do you know that sometimes your level of anxiety over your personal needs determines how selfish and self-centered you are. If you could spend half of the time you spend praying about your needs to pray for someone else’s needs you’ll be more blessed. Remember that it is more blessed to give than to receive.

While you’re swimming in your me-pool have you ever taken a moment to take note of that quadriplegic man by the pool side waiting for an opportunity to dip in the pool. He’s been so consumed with the pain and inability to do what other people can do easily. ‘Everybody has their own cross to bear,’ you say. Yes, they’ve all got their own crosses to bear but can you just be grateful for one minute that you didn’t have to bear theirs? The key to true fellowship with God is selflessness. He said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.” Mark 8:34b. Get involved in something bigger than yourself today. Meet a need, add one more person to your me-list.

So as you plan your fun for the weekend, remember to add one more person into the equation and let your thoughts be centered on me, myself, and one.

Femmetotale

The green eyed monster II

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Monster Alert!!!
Don’t read this if you’re afraid of the dark, vampires, blood or scary green-eyed monsters!

Remember my post about the green eyed monster? Well this is the part II. If you missed the first part then you can click here to read it. You will understand this post better if you read the first part. You won’t believe this but it is so true. I saw the green eyed monster today, shooting sparks of hot green lava.

Ok, that was just my pretend-scary-face. I do not watch horror movies or anything about vampires or monsters (romantic movies don finish for market? Even if they do finish I’ll just go ahead and create mine 😉 ). I don’t see why anyone would enjoy watching horror movies biko. What’s fun about watching a grown man in scary costume with tomato ketchup on his mouth chasing innocent kids to gobble them up or vampire human-bats swooping down out of the sky to sink their teeth into the necks of their preys (call it twilight oh, twilight saga, etc they can’t see my back view at the cinema no matter how many intriguing Ads they show)? I mean, there’s enough scary stuff going on in the world without re-enacting them in movies. Just tune onto CNN and you’ll understand.

Ok, enough with the horror movies bashing (and don’t say I’m just talking cos I’m scared of horror movies :)) let’s get down to the main gist. I saw a real life green-eyed monster today and no it wasn’t on TV. Have you ever been that girl that never gets picked up when you’re walking with your friend? You know, like Blair and Serena in Gossip girl. You’re Blair and your friend is Serena, get the picture now? Ok, if you never saw the TV series, Gossip girl then this is the gist, Serena is the bright, tall and cute blonde while Blair is a brunette who is also beautiful by all standards but always gets passed over for her best friend.

Ok, fast forward to today. Two girls, Ene and Tonia were walking home together after church and someone walked up (more like ran) to them and said hello to the fair one, Tonia. After the hello came a compliment to Tonia and a thank you from her. The darker one, Ene was left looking very green. What was the ‘greenness’ for? Tonia had been complimented on her sonorous voice and Ene decided in her mind that the fact that she was not complimented must have meant that she had a terrible voice. Both girls had sung together in the church that morning. You get the picture now?

So anyway, Ene went home that morning feeling murderously jealous of Tonia. Ene had always been known for her terrible temper and everybody at home knew she was mad about something that happened that morning so they all avoided her. She sat alone in her room fuming. Then she picked up her pen and did what she knew how to do best during her sour moods. Before long, she was smiling again.

However, something happened later that evening that completely changed Ene’s perspective on life. Sam, her cousin came to visit. He was doing his youth service and was new in town so he often came to their house for lunch on Sundays. While talking with her, he saw the notebook peeking out from beneath her pillow. He picked it up and read through the beautiful poetry Ene had written. “These poems are beautiful, really creative,” Sam said.

“They are songs,” Ene said and tried to snatch the notebook away from him. He was even more surprised. “Can you sing one for me?” Sam asked.

Ene was hesistant at first but she actually did sing it and Sam looked very impressed. “I never knew you were this good,” he said. “You could actually make a living from this.

“No one seems to think I can sing,” Ene became moody again.

Sam raised one eyebrow, “Don’t get me wrong, you don’t have the nicest voice I’ve ever heard. Your singing is actually not extra-ordinary but the music you wrote is excellent. How did you learn to write music like this?”

Ene shrugged and said, “It’s just my talent.” That was when she had an epiphany. Music was her talent alright but just not singing.

If you read ‘The Green-Eyed Monster I’ then it must have given you a background on this post. The thing is that jealousy always arises when we compare ourselves unfavourably to others. While Ene was busy envying her friend for her God-given talent she failed to realize that she had something beautiful within her too that may not have been like what her friend had.

Nobody was created without a special talent in her. When God gave talents to the 3 servants in the bible, He gave one 3 and the other 2 and the last, one. He gave something to each one according to their ability to utilise it (Matt 25:15-28). The remarkable thing is that you have the ability to utilise your talent to its full capacity. There is something within you, just reach down and find it. Instead of complaining about how God did not give you the kind of talent your friend has, ask him to reveal yours to you today.

I saw the green-eyed monster today.

Femmetotale.