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For the past couple of weeks I’ve been asking myself the same question over and over again. What is going on? This is mostly due to the events  that have taken place very recently in the UK. Also, hearing troubling stories from friends sharing difficult experiences is making all kinds of worried. It’s very easy for me to think worse case scenarios in the face of difficult times. Trying to gain control of my thoughts is something I’m learning which isn’t easy especially with someone like me who tends to bottle a lot in. I was away in Mykonos when I woke up to the news of the attack in Manchester. I remember going through the motions in my mind and finding a way to make peace with it as I always try to do to avoid my thoughts spiralling out of control. When I returned back to Manchester, I could tell that things were different. My Church happen to be located in St Ann’s Square where flowers and messages of condolences are being put down. I and Craig were asked to volunteer on Saturday to help with the candle stands in the Church as people kept coming in to light candles in memories on the people who lost their lives. It was hard to watch people cry. One thing that was clear though was how it’s brought people together. I remember the curate saying to me how a man wanted to buy a condolence card from the book stand and was short of fifty pence. She said, a number of people waiting in line to sign the condolence book offered to give him the fifty pence which was very beautiful to watch. It made me hopeful. But sadly, that same night, another attack would take place in London.

As much as I appear somewhat public with my life by sharing on my blog and social media, it’s sometimes very hard for me to gather my thoughts when bad things happen. All I want to do is be alone and listen to music that somehow holds a meaning to it all and eases my worries. One that makes me feel like everything will be okay. Having accidentally stumbled upon “Jane The Virgin”, I can’t help but think it’s fate. Something about the way things can go all so wrong but somehow they manage to find their way back to a place where everything was fine even in the midst of troubles. Trying times are to be expected and they draw strength from the relationships they have. Something about the music when kind words are spoken make me want to tear up from all the emotions I’ve been bottling inside. Laughter is not absent too because tears of joy is proof that it will all be okay, again. As I write this post I’ve got Moody Jane playing in the background and I can’t help but hold on to the feeling of hope. Hope for a better us, and hope for a better world.

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June 6, 2017
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It feels like I haven’t managed to keep up with my blog schedule and other things that aren’t blog related if I’m being honest. I’m learning a lot these days that it’s okay not to be okay. I’ve never been the most popular girl or one to have many friends which in a good way has given me the chance to build a sustainable relationship with the people closest to me. When you get close to people, it’s only natural that you get to love and care for them. So it’s hard not to worry about them every now and again especially when they share their burdens with you. A bit like how Kim Wexler (from “Better Call Saul”) feels about Saul’s current plight. The same also goes for celebrating in their successes which is even sweeter when you’ve been a part of their journey getting there. Lately it feels like all I’ve been doing is focusing on everyone else (as I should because they are my people and I love them dearly) but me and I didn’t even know I was subconsciously doing this. It took a call from one of my close friends who was kind enough to spell it out to me. She reminded me that as much as we love the people closest to us, we can’t always control what happens to them just as they also can’t control some of the things life dishes to us. All we have to do is let them know that we’ll always be there for them no matter what and that in itself is all the assurance they need; knowing they can lean on you when the time comes.

I always tend to look tough and act like I’ve got everything together (which I totally haven’t) and it was nice to know that my friend could recognise that I too have needs of my own even when worrying about everyone else. It’s not that I didn’t know this before but it made me realise even more so that it is okay not to be okay especially around the people you love. Watching a lot of “Jane The Virgin” (my cheesy pleasure is what I like to call it) on Netflix has helped hit the point home too. It’s okay to break down in tears and pour your heart out even when it feels like you’re choking on your words just as it’s okay to scream and do a little crazy dance when you share news of wonderful things that are happening. Considering the paradigm of life; there are highs and there are lows. The latter we always get to learn from and perhaps draw some strength from. This is eventually what makes us who we are at our core. So let your guard down is what I tell myself these days. You’re human too. One who like Jane is all the wiser that it’s okay not to be okay. 

May 15, 2017
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Where do I begin? Apologies for the absence of a black and white piece last week. I’ve been recovering from all the travelling and catching up on work. Abuja was great. Although it did feel like I enjoyed the village a bit more at first. I and Craig got loads of practice babysitting for my sister. I think we’re more than ready for kids now after this. We enjoyed spending the week with family and eating really good food. At the top of our list was Suya. Having a resident “Suya Man” (that’s what his sign actually says) literally behind our house, we consumed it as much as we could. For those wondering what this delicacy is check out my previous blog post where I share more.

It was great to be back to the city where I was born. We went on walks in the street where I grew up which is where my family still resides. It was very nostalgic to say the least. I tried my best to explore more of Abuja than I did when I lived there. I found the huts and cultural artefacts much more interesting than the modern day architecture depicted in the city. As our time was limited, we didn’t get to visit Kaduna where we were hoping to spend some time at Kajuru Castle. A place we plan to factor in during our next visit. The mosquitoes were quite friendly to me and didn’t bother me one bit. Although I can’t say the same for Craig as he got a well deserved welcome after being covered in what I’ll describe a “mosquito tattoo” lol. There was so much sunshine that made me sweat all the time but I loved every bit of it especially when comparing it to the ever dull UK weather. When it came to the end of our trip, we said our goodbyes and returned to Manchester to what would seem like winter in December. It was hard not to miss Nigeria. Going back to work was also a struggle but it had to be done.

In the last few weeks I’ve lost two family members. The first was my cousin and more recently on Friday was my aunty. It’s been a gentle reminder for me live life to the fullest. Doing the things I love and more importantly with the people I love. It’s hard not to accept things for what they are. But I’m a strong believer that there’s always something good that comes out of a bad situation. Only time will tell. I urge everyone reading this to disregard the voices that hinder you from living the life you want with the people you want and give life to everyone and everything that makes you happy.

May 3, 2017
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My week has been full of travelling. We first set off last Wednesday night by train to London where we caught our flight to Nigeria the following morning. Only that we had to first make a stop in Instanbul and then board a flight to Lagos. We arrived Nigeria on Thursday night. I had almost forgotten what it was like to be here until we quickly got reminded by a hustler at Murtala Mohammed airport who wanted $50 from us in the name of “fast track”. You’ll be pleased to know that we did not succumb to his antics. Within two hours in the country, I asked Craig his impression and he said all I can see is everyone exchanging money for something, lol. Welcome to Nigeria! We spent the night in Lagos where my brother met up with us. He ordered the best Dominos pizza ever. It was called the chicken suya pizza. The next morning we had breakfast at the hotel and headed to the airport where we had to board our flight to Enugu, again, not without a lot of kerfuffle. We arrived at the airport to find a delay with the check in due to the bizarre luggage control system. After checking in at the counter, you still need to follow your luggage to make sure it gets checked in. After clearing security and arriving at the plane, you still need to make sure your luggage arrived to be boarded on the plane. We had to identify our luggage before taking our seats. In the end our flight was delayed for an hour. While flying, Craig got a chance to see Nigeria from the sky and was mesmerised by how beautiful it looked.

We arrived at Enugu after less than an hour from take off where we caught up with my other brother who drove us down to my hometown, Alor in Anambra State. There we met my parents and other extended family who had been awaiting our visit. As a kid, we usually traveled down there almost every year for Christmas. I remember dreading it because it was such a long drive and I found it quite dull and deserted. But after living in Manchester all these years and taking up photography, I have started to appreciate nature a lot more. We stayed at our family home which was surrounded by different kind of trees. Craig was excited to explore the town and took long morning walks with my brother who showed him Nkwo market and other monuments. We had a lot of guests coming to the house to see us. There was loads to eat and drink and we didn’t waste any time tucking in. It was good to see really old family photos which brought back a lot of memories. On Easter day, I and Craig got shown how to hold a live chicken which was the one of highlights of my visit. Craig got to see animals he had never seen before and hear the crickets at night. He also experienced proper rain which he thought was very meditative as it made beautiful sounds when it hit the roofs and tree leaves surrounding us. On Easter Monday, we were back on the road. This time heading to Abuja, the city where I was born and raised which is where I’ll see you lot in next weeks posts. 

April 19, 2017
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Suitcase packed, well, nearly. Erm, where to begin? First of all I want to say a big THANKYOU to The Guardian for featuring one of our photos from my week in black and white which you can see here. I’m also happy to say that my headache from last week is over. Not without lessons learnt. Well I promised to go into details so here goes. We decided to use a visa agency for the first time to try and obtain a Nigerian visa for Craig. We couldn’t have chosen the worst company. They failed to initiate communication with us, banked the cheque for their services while refusing to process the application cause they wanted some additional documents that were NOT listed as a requirement on the Nigerian embassy website. Mind you, we have applied for this same visa last year directly at the embassy and were never asked for these additional documents. To tell you how ridiculous this was. They wanted a letter from Craig’s employee stating that Craig plans on returning back to work once he comes back from Nigeria. Really? In the end we got our bank to cancel the cheque that they were so eager to cash and Craig went to London to retrieve his documents from the agency and applied for a Nigerian visa at the embassy that very same day and got it. The moral of the story being, if want something to be done, do it yourself. I’m glad that chapter is over and we can now focus on our trip back home.

Speaking of home, it’s been nearly six years since my last visit to Nigeria. Craig has never been which makes it all the more a necessary trip. I feel like when I left home, I left with a dream that focused more on myself and the things I wanted out of life without taking into account the people and things I left behind. This has since changed for me. I’ve been communicating more with family and friends and thinking of ways I can bring about change to the people and place that’s given so much to me. Our time will be well spent on catching up with family. But first we need to pack our bags. I’m nearly done with mine but Craig hasn’t even begun and the clock is ticking. I’ve had some time off work and I’ve been using that time to focus to my mind and body. Catching up on much needed sleep and trying not to think about work so much. I hope you’re all having a great week. See you on the other side.

MY WEEK IN BLACK AND WHITE: SUITCASE PACKED

April 11, 2017
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I’m losing my mind, or at least I think I am. This past week has been very stressful for me compared to other weeks in 2017. Where to begin? I’ve kept to my schedule of rising early to make the most of the day but I’ve been pushing it with the amount of sleep I’ve been getting. It’s not bad overall, it’s at least six hours sleep a day. I’m trying to get organised but have faced quite a few obstacles with other matters arising like being on the phone for over two hours to customer service trying to request additional information from a service provider or having to step up and fulfil other obligations that I’ve committed to like giving my time to others for very good reasons. I promise to go into more details once I’ve cleared my head a bit more this week and gotten extra hours of sleep.

I actually stuck to my plan and made a daily list of things to do at the start of my day and tried to tick them off. I did fall short on a few but that was due to the issues I sort of touched on in the first paragraph. I think the way I’ll have to approach this organisation is by allocating a time slot for each task and try and stick with it. This should help keep things on track. There are bound to be lessons learnt when one takes on a new adventure such as getting organised, lol. The obvious one here is to take life easy. Sometimes we make all these grandiose plans and then life happens and halts all operations. We just have to stop and address it then move on with the knowledge we’ve gained. What was lovely to see was how my friends and Craig found a way to cheer me on even without being deliberate. I got sent links to inspirational videos, positive materials and even memes which made every bit of this stressful week a lot better. It’s good to have a great source of support but sometimes it’s not always there but the one place I’m sure to find it is in seeking the word of God. I reached for it as it always brings me comfort no matter my situation.

Lying in bed at what seems to me a little over half past twelve midnight typing up this post on my iPhone (as I always do when trying to keep up with scheduled posts) doesn’t exactly help my sleeping pattern. So let’s call it a night here. I hope your week has been miles better than mine. If not, cheers to a fantastic week ahead.

MY WEEK IN BLACK AND WHITE: I'M LOSING MY MIND

April 4, 2017
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My week was filled with the usual activities. Going into my nine to five job and working on the side hustle that is my blog. One thing stood out though, it was filled with loads of sunshine. There’s just something about great weather that sets a pleasant mood. It’s apparent in the way people interact with you and just seem generally happier than usual which is always a good thing. The clocks moved forward and we lost an hour. We’re back to longer days and shorter nights. Feeling inspired by the sunshine and dreaming of all the shoots I could get out of it, I made a little change to my routine by starting my day an hour earlier than I would normally do and it’s working out well so far.

I shot an ad Campaign for Natural World (if you’re interested in finding out how to get sponsored content I’d recommend getting a copy of my eBook where I go into details). I also shot a creative two minutes video all about spring which you can watch here.

I’ve been thinking lately that it’s time to get into a healthy routine. One that balances work, family and well being. The truth is that I’ve never been a great planner. I’ve always been a “seize the moment” type of girl who sometimes tends to procrastinate. I know being the way I am actually brings out my creative side which I love for the most part. I tend to do a lot things in my head rather than put pen to paper. Right now it’s become more apparent that in order to take my content to where it needs to be, I need to be a lot more organised. The funny thing is that I’m good at writing down my goals for the year but not my daily tasks which are in essence daily goals that would get me closer to my yearly goals. I have so many empty notebooks waiting to be filled with daily tasks and it’s high time I get going. The plan is to go to bed early, wake up early, meditate, deal with emails, work, exercise, eat healthy, spend time with family and friends etc. And hopefully I should have a progress report on how I’m getting on come next week’s post.

My Week In Black and White: Getting Organised

 

March 29, 2017
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