Untitled – not sure what to call this post

I am always finding myself.

In this world, I get lost too easily. It is not something I am proud of. However, I realise that I am quick to give all of me to people in the name of loyalty and in the process, I lose some of me, my opinions, my wants, needs or just the ability to do or say things that I would really like to. It is always nice to regroup and love on myself again. I love people but I love me also. I will always be loyal but not to my own detriment. Me version umpteenth loading….

I am hoping that this deficiency is finally being sorted out on my most recent sojourn to find myself will fix me for good. I matter, my opinion is valid, my problems are worth solving and are a priority when necessary and my joys are worth celebrating in real time. So cheers to the future.

So, we have been living in Calgary now for 5 months. It is beginning to feel like home. Other than my family being happy, the other thing I am grateful for is a fantastic support system. I have been floored by how far people who have become really good friends are willing to go to assist myself and my family and make us feel at home. I can’t tell you how much I’ve missed phone calls. For some reason, in London, I just didn’t have that. Everyone was busy, including myself. I would think three times before I gave someone a call. But here, I can pick up the phone and make that call and know it will be picked up and I can have a good old fashioned conversation! I have always known I am an old soul at heart, but you can’t imagine how happy that makes me feel.

Work has been quite slow paced compared to what I am used to. If it could change anything, it would be that. I used to being over utilised. However. I understand it is only slow in the summer and things should pick up in the fall. I am so looking forward to that. Weirdo, I know, that’s me!

We always said the night life here wasn’t great and I wasn’t expecting to find any good places to eat that would excite me. However, I realised I wasn’t going about this the right way. One of my colleagues happens to be a foodie like me and all her recommendations have been on point. I am once again happy that I can’t restaurant hop and treat my taste buds to some good food!

I love that I have time to do other things. I can be a wife, a mum, work full time, work on my fitness, work on my business and have some leisure time. After doing all this, I still feel sane and not rushed off my feet constantly.

I am grateful for sanity, I am grateful for life and I am grateful for health. Everyday, I am reminded that life is short. I intend to live it living my best life, so help me God.

As with the title, not much else to say today. Just journaling my current thoughts. Until next time .

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Conversation with strangers – 1

I was transiting in Houston airport and waiting for my flight to Calgary when I decided to charge my phone as I will be needing to watch movies on the United flight back home (not cool United airlines!).

The first charging space I spotted had a bit of puke on the floor which was disgusting and I was pleased to have spotted it before I stepped on it. Naturally, I was on the look out for another charging spot so I don’t have to stare at the puke. I found one near this unassuming older woman who was also charging her phone and so I said hello and sat next to her.

She started a conversation about how it is no longer fun to fly. I initially thought she was referring to terrorism and the alarm that went off earlier at the airport but I was wrong. She was referring to flight cancellations and the fact airlines seem to have fewer flights out of her home city, Detroit, because it is economically depressed and she is now unable to travel on her day of choice and is stuck with travelling with the business travellers, who she considers to be stuck up. She shared a few stories about the stuck up business men she has travelled with in the past. One that stuck was when she told one of the business men she travelled with in the past that she has a million air miles and the guy, with his nose held high, said he had 3 million air miles. To this, she responded with, “but it is not the same, because I paid for mine with my own money, no company paid for it for me”. If you ask me, that was a good come back.

She tried to figure out my accent. Even I don’t know what accent I have. I explained to her I am Nigerian and I lived 15 years in the UK before moving recently to Calgary and so my accent is a big chunk of Nigerian with British inflection (if there is anything like that). She commented that it was an interesting accent. Thank you ma’am.

She told me some more about herself, how she is/was a scuba diver and travels a lot to go scuba diving. She said and I quote “you see, I love scuba diving because there is no bull shit under the water”. This cracked me up. We talked some more about scuba diving and I asked what some may call stupid questions, but I was genuinely interested in the answer. I asked if she had ever come across sharks or dangerous fishes while scuba diving. She said only on one occasion and in her experience if you do not bother the fishes, they leave you alone. She lamented about how some scuba masters in some places she has been to (I didn’t catch which country) have cultivated a habit of feeding the eels. The issue with this is the eel then wraps itself around them, expecting food and bites them if there is no food. Common sense obviously says, don’t feed the fishes, they will fend for themselves.

I noticed her facial skin looked smooth and supple, although there were signs of ageing on her chin and neck, but she looked good and if I was have to guessed her age, I would have said late 60s, about 66. However, she let it slip while telling me about her family that she was 77. I gasped in shock. She happily told me about her facial regime. She explained she had never had plastic surgery but has a great dermatologists and a laser procedure she has done twice a year. I can most certainly see the benefits of it. She looked good.

We talked about her four grandchildren and how expensive it is now to send kids to college. When she went to college in 1957, it costs USD1,000 a year and now it is in the 30-40 thousand range. She explained that her grandchildren quickly realised they will have to work very hard to gain scholarships in order not to be overwhelmed by student loans. I shared my family’s experience with expensive international fees for universities and two other siblings and at the time, as we were not citizens, we weren’t entitled to any form of financial aid.

I asked her how she kept up with everything she does as she gets older. She said getting old is hard and not fun but all she can do is to keep pressing on, keep learning and not to give up. This, I thought was really good advice.

By this time, it was time for me to board my plane to Calgary, I waved her goodbye and she got up, gave me a hug and a peck on both cheeks. I wished her good luck with her travels and we parted ways.

I am glad I sat next to her and engaged her in a conversation. If I were to have guessed what her story was before speaking to her, I would never have guessed it correctly. She opened up my mind that little bit more, and of-course, gave me enough inspiration to update my blog!

To those enjoying a day off tomorrow for Memorial Day or any other reason, enjoy your day off. As for me, I’m back to work tomorrow… boo!

Finding a church

I have been a Christian since I can remember. I was born one and made a conscious decision to stay a Christian when I was old enough to make the choice myself. Naturally, as a practising Christian, I go to church on most Sundays. As such, one of the key things on my to do list for when we arrived in Calgary was to find a church to settle as a family in.

My first port of call was good old google. I searched for churches in the area I knew we would be living in and I quickly settled for one that seemed to tick all the boxes based on their website. Their website looked exciting, Jesus. Check. Kids church, Check. 8 minutes drive from my house, even better.

Excitedly, this morning, I got everyone ready and we got to church 10 minutes late. Not too bad as we still met the worship session. The preaching was okay but I missed most of it because my kids would not settle in the adults church and I had trouble trying to get them into the kids church.

However, I felt anything but welcome as soon as we walked in. I have to confess that I did not fully appreciate the importance of ushers until my experience this morning. This church was a big church, I will estimate about 250 members with three services every Sunday. So, surely, having new members shouldn’t be new to them. In my experience in church for the last 20+ years, new people get even special treatment. We get asked to put up our hands and additional information about the church gets handed to us. People go out of their way to say hello to us and most definitely, an usher welcomes you to the church and tries to find you a seat in this new environment.

However, no one said a word to us when we arrived, there was no usher in sight. If there was one, we didn’t notice him or her. I had to find a seat for the four of us, and once settled, I headed off to find the kids church.

Now, this was where I decided I was never going back to that church again. The kids seemed to be sitting and watching a video about a lesson there were to be learning about before the breakout sessions. Nothing wrong with this, however, I couldn’t find an adult to ask how the kids church worked, if I could deposit my kids there for the next hour, where to sign them in, etc. There was no one to ask. I went back with my now disappointed son, who couldn’t understand why he couldn’t join the other kids and this time, there was a gentleman dispensing sweets for the kids, he glanced once at me, with two kids in my hands and went back to dispensing sweets. No hello, nothing. I had to remind myself I was at church.

I took my son to the bathroom, once again, bumped into another Sunday school teacher, I was eager to say hello and maybe finally ask her how to go about using the Sunday school, once again, she didn’t look interested in having a chat and was focused on the kids she brought to use the toilet. Which is fine.

To avoid going into too much detail, it was not a very nice feeling and I can’t imagine experiencing this and going back to church if I was not a Christian. I reported my experience to a friend and she asked maybe they were having an off day but, there were so many people involved in this off day that could have at least said hello. I wanted to say hello, but no one held my gaze long enough for me to do just that. It was a very upsetting experience if I am being honest.

I really wanted to like the church. I mean, I had spent ages on their website for the last three months and was so eager to get involved. We won’t be going back and my search for a warm welcoming church continues.

Most importantly, this serves as a reminder to me to be warm and friendly to people, particularly as a Christian. More so when I am at church. Church is where we encourage non-Christians to come to learn more about Christ, learning about Christ starts with the individual.

I hope we find somewhere soon!

Enjoy your week!

Relocating to Calgary: One week in

Hello there!

It most certainly has been a busy week! I am however enjoying it so far. No regrets yet, however, I am very aware that it’s only been a week, so too early to say.

To be honest, the soft landing we did in January helped a lot and I will recommend it to anyone planning to relocate anywhere. Back in January, we visited for ten days. It was a stressful ten days but it laid the ground perfectly for when we arrived a week ago. We registered as permanent residents, for medical, obtained our SINs, opened bank accounts, visited potential schools for the kids and narrowed them down to one for each child, viewed houses for rent to give us an idea of where we wanted to live when we eventually moved. We did this and a few other things which meant we hit the ground running. So far, so good.

I am not sure if this is a thing, but one thing I have noticed is that I keep getting static shock when I touch anything and everything! Some much so I have stifled screams! My husband and mum believe it is because my skin is dry, but I promise you, I moisturise! It is better now, but I am so tentative before I touch anything, because I know there is a 80% chance I will get zapped. I’m hoping this doesn’t become a long term issue and ends soon.

Another thing I have struggled with is brands. I underestimated how much value I had placed on known brands. Back in the UK, I knew where to go, depending on what I needed to buy. In the US, I also have an idea where to go. However, over here, I am in over my head! Boy am I glad we rented a furnished house because I wouldn’t even know where to start.

A day after we arrived, I made what was meant to be a quick trip to the supermarket. I was doing okay until I got to the butter aisle. I found myself staring for about 5 minute. What happened to good old Lurpark, or Anchor or Flora? I was met with new brands. It is not the end of the world, I know. However, it was in the butter aisle that it full sunk in that I am officially living in a different country. Just in case you wondered, I settled for Naturel (I think that is what it is called) and it was not a bad choice.

On a separate note, I am now used to driving on the other side of the road and just about learning my way around. I am also hoping that we have seen the last of the snow. A few days after we arrived, there was a ‘snow storm’ if I can call it that. Apparently, it was nothing compared to what they experienced in the middle of the winter. I think I wrote this paragraph too soon as it is now snowing again. Getting used to it though, and also, I am more prepared now I have bought my snow boots and ‘Calgary Grade’ winter jacket!

To summarise, our first week so far has been good. I have one more week until I start work so I am trying to maximise my downtime by catching up on my favourite shows and doing nothing for a change!

LHR to YYC

Eeek!

It has been so difficult to write this blog. I started writing it on 7 February and couldn’t bring myself to complete it. Maybe now that I’m thousands of feet in the air and finally on our way to Calgary, I have plenty of time in the 8.5 hours or so it will take us to get there to complete this blog.

My family and I are moving to Calgary, Alberta and I have been in total denial about this.

Our love affair with YYC started two years ago when we visited a couple of friends over there. After our first night. We started exploring the option of moving.

We expected the process of applying for permanent residence to be long and tedious but it was surprising quick. It required providing a lot of information upfront but once this was done the rest of it was straightforward. We are grateful for the opportunity to start our lives somewhere new and exciting and looking forward to the prospects of creating beautiful and exciting memories together.

However, it isn’t all singing and dancing as I am a bit apprehensive about the move. A lot of people have said I have nothing to worry about and although I believe them, it does not change the fact we are taking a big step and a big risk. We are leaving good jobs, great schools for kids and the comfort blanket of having great friends and family surrounding us to move to a country where we will have to rebuild what we know all over again. I will be moving from a country that has become home, where everything is familiar and we are nicely settled, to another with numerous unknowns in a different continent.

We all know you don’t buy everything in the same place, well I certainly do not. For example, I can buy my milk anywhere because it’s just milk but I drive to Tesco for their brioche because my family love their brioche. I will need to find a supermarket that actually does the brioche my children like. This proved difficult when we visited back in January.

For celebrations, I will need to find a lovely bakers to put my Pinterest downloads into edible form.

Not to forget, learning the new tricks about commuting downtown, what is the best time and station to travel from.

Learn the new ‘lingo’. I know they speak English, but every country has its lingo I’ve come to find. For example, it took my a while to understand British humour, but now I do and I love it. I can laugh for days at a British joke but 15 years ago, I just didn’t get it.

So, you get the drift. I’m going to have to learn it all again. It is okay however, because it is an adventure and I’m privileged enough to be doing this with my family.

The hardest part of this whole ordeal has been my family and my friends. You know the ones that are really there for you when it matters? The ones that are just totally amazing, the ones you can’t even think of replacing, those are the people that make this move all the more painful.

It has been such an emotional few days for us. My sister in law who is just great on so many levels! I couldn’t be the wife and mum I am today without my Sister Ore! She has been a constant rock, a constant support! She has been a sister. Let’s just say the tears were never ending. It will be a lot to adjust to not being able to just pick up the phone to call her as often as I will like because of the time difference.

My friend become big sister, Buki. She is all sorts of amazing as well, and extremely thoughtful! She is cool and extremely resourceful. The kind of friend that stops in unannounced with a tonne of thoughtful gifts that make you tear up. I have learnt so much from her in such a short space of time and I’m sure going to miss her.

My best friend, Vese. It’s been an extremely emotional one. I’m not going to dwell on this paragraph. All I will say is thank you. Thank you for being amazing. Our friendship is going to be tested by distance and time, but I trust that we will be okay. I will miss you loads.

I will talk about the practicalities of our moving in another blog, but until then, I’m going to cry some more before we land in YYC because I’ve promised myself, Calgary is going to be happy, we are going to be happy and it will be worth it all!

JDIM

Be still

I remember a time I wrote a lot. It helped me empty my head. No I just carry the added weight of words and thoughts in my head everywhere I go.

I’m relieving myself of that burden and wil still using this medium as a platform to get some of those words and thoughts out! I won’t promise you award winning words but I promise myself some clarity and lightening of my being.

————————————————————-

A life so deep

Rich, filled with colour and zest

A head well rested

At ease, basking in the love it receives

At the break of dawn

At the climax of rest

A turbulence that disrupts the past and questions tomorrow

Suddenly, the days are filled with angst of the unknown

And Every move questioned

In the chaos, still the quiet voice within nudges you,

“Be still, all will be well.”

DAj 2018

Sleep training failure

I said I was going to blog about sleep training my son, but let’s just say at the moment, we are taking two steps forward and several backwards!

Basically, sleep training just isn’t happening. Please note that the content of this post is my personal experience. It doesn’t mean it is going to be the same for you. Disclaimer over!

Other than the fact that it will be nice for myself and my husband to have our bed back to ourselves again, both kids sleeping on their beds all night means each one of us will sleep a lot better and feel more refreshed in the morning. I really want this for the both of them.

I think we missed the boat to get both my son and daughter in good sleep form! The fact my son wasn’t sleep trained by the time my daughter arrived has made it harder for us, amongst other things, to sleep train her. My son is 4 and my daughter is 1.

Let’s start with the little man. His bed time routine is for us to read him a story, turn on his night light and close his door a little bit. You dare not close it more than a little or less than a little because he will call you out on it. He will then happily fall asleep by himself. You do a little victory lap thinking that’s it, he will be up at 7am in the morning, but no it doesn’t happen that way. Without fail, between midnight and 3am, my little man finds his way to our room, at a time when both myself and my husband have zero will to get up and enforce him sleeping in his room. He spends the rest of the night with us and that is that.

Moving on to my little lady. I remember when she was a baby, she did so well sleeping in her bed. She slept all night in there and I was very happy. However, as she got older and wiser and could see for herself that her older brother seems to like sleeping between mummy and daddy, she made a decision to stop sleeping in her bed. In fact, even when she’s sound asleep and you put her in her bed, within 10 minutes she is up screaming her lungs out and waiting to join us on our bed. However, if you put her on our bed, whether or not we sleep beside her. She sleeps through the night!

These kids make me want to call the bed manufacturer and offer him our advertising services because the kids just love it! Surely it has to do with the mattress right? Who knows!

The truth is we have tried to sleep train them both. We went from my son only wanting to fall asleep in our room, or wanting us to stay with him till he fell asleep, to giving him a cup of milk before bed (that came with its own issues so we have stopped that now), to where we are now. I personally call that progress! Although it will be nice to reach the destination soon! We have tried it all out. We have tried the cry it out method, we have stayed with him then left, we have moved temporarily into his room, night lights, sent him back to his room several times in the middle of the night. We have tried it all.

With my little lady, we have equally tried the cry it out method and the stay in the room with her till she sleeps etc but she just ain’t having it!

Okay, that isn’t fully the truth. The truth is, when we have tried all these methods in the past, eventually, something works and the kids are happy to sleep on their beds for the night but then a change in their routine takes me back to square zero! For example, when we travel to a different time zone for holiday, or when we have guests that mean the kids need to leave their room (as an African, this is a thing!). These disturbance in their routine then means I am starting all over again.

It has been a frustrating process but I have temporarily given up on any form of sleep training at the moment because, we have another disturbance to routine coming up in 6 weeks or so. We are moving from one continent to another which is exciting. So my plan is to try this sleep training thing again, for what I hope will be the last time once we have moved. I will also take steps to make sure their routine is not disturb until they have mastered the act of sleeping on this beds and in their room. This I pledge, so help me God!

I really respect mums who have been able to make this happen for their kids! Well done! As for me, I will keep trying. One day it will click.

I am just do-ing it!

Get it?

Just do it mum is just doing it!

I promised a post about sleep training my son… but I have to confess, I haven’t quite cracked this yet. This little fella is a very strongwilled individual! To top it up, my daughter has joined the party. So if I ever do a sleep training blog, it will be about how I failed at it!

Today’s post is just to give myself a nice pat on the back. I am proud to say I have finally moved away from loads-of-ideas-land to just-doing-it-land.

For so long, I have been churning ideas after ideas in my head of things I would like to do outside of work that put my skills to good use. For every idea, I have come up with a hundred reasons not to pursue it. However, summer 2016, a friend shared a business idea with me which sounded very exciting. I knew it was big in America but I didn’t realise it was also big in the UK.

Following our conversation, I was so motivated and sure that I would get started straight away. This was not the case. It took me another six months to commit and register my company.

I wanted to be sure I had an idea of what I was getting myself into before committing.

Needless to say, during my supposed research into whether or not I wanted to take the first step into starting this business, life happened. Days after days went by and I slowly forgot about it. I went back into moaning about how I wished I could utilise my skills further and do something for myself that would be profitable. I came up with a lot of ideas and once again shut each one of them down. I prayed about it as well but I still felt blank.

Six months after the initial conversation with my friend, I was finally ready. I actively did my research, made myself accountable to someone else who was already in this business and within the first week, I had registered my company, started the process to open my business account and started sourcing the products I was going to sell. I went from zero to hundred in less than a week. This just proved to me how much we can achieve when we put our minds to it.

Fast forward to November 2017 and our first product was launched on Amazon. Our hooded baby towel and washcloths made from 100% bamboo fibre. It was a very emotional journey getting here. Running your own business is no mean feat! I have learnt a lot in such a short time and there is still so much I have to learn. I have inserted some pictures below for your perusal and feel free to check it out by clicking here.

The excitement and the hunger to do even more is still there! We are currently working on our second product and we are hopeful there is a significant lot more to come from this!

To anyone out there struggling to start something new or do anything outside of your comfort zone, it is okay to take your time and research. However, don’t let numerous excuses stop you from doing what you should be doing.

Just do it!

Butterfly themed 1st birthday party

Hello!

It has been a very long time and not a day goes by when I do not think of blogging, believe me.

We as a family have been going through a lot of changes. Everyone is happy and good but we are moving! More about that later and in another post.

Today’s post is about my lovely Dara’s first birthday. I have probably forgotten some of the detail by now as it was back in October, but I promised some pictures and some tidbits about the planning, so here we go.

For someone who loves to plan parties and be as creative as pinstrest and my resources will let me, I have always felt restricted by the fact that our birthdays fall in the winter months. Dara was born in October, my birthday in November, my husband’s in December and my son in January. So it is four back to back months of celebration, in the winter. This year was particularly big as Dara, myself and my husband had landmark birthdays

For Dara’s party, with the help of friends, I settled for a butterfly themed party. I honestly thought this would be easy to pull off, but I found it a little challenging. I was working full time at a very demanding job with two children and trying to plan a party for about 100 people (don’t ask) in my home, by myself.

I really liked the idea of having a dessert table, some sort of focal point for the pictures. I ended up putting one together myself and I was quite pleased with the result as you can see from the table below. I’m truly grateful to generous friends who are constantly showering us with love. The cookies and birthday cake were a gift from friends and they were both so yummy.

I decided for the adults, I will focus on making sure they have good food and drinks all they will get is good food and drinks and for the kids, I needed to find a way to entertain them. The predicament I had was that I had a very tight budget but I really wanted it to work.

For the kids, I toyed with the idea of getting them an entertainer. This would have been perfect but for one small details. Nigerians have a habit of not turning up to parties on time. With my limited budget, I couldn’t hire an entertainer for the whole day and it would have just been for a couple of hours. I found it difficult to estimate the best time as I wasn’t sure who would arrive when. So I ditched that plan and prayed for good weather so the kids can play in the garden.

We ended up hiring a bouncy castle, giant jenga, giant four in a row and hoppers. We also put a lot of the kids’ toys in the garden. Thankfully, the weather was largely complaint and the kids all seemed to have had a great time.

By the end of the day, all I wanted to do was sleep!

I’m glad it went well, but that was just the first party of our family birthday season!

The year that was

It is a bit too early to talk about the year 2017 in the past, however, it has been a very difficult year.

As an individual and as a member of my family, we have received a lot of bad news and lost a few friends and family members this year. Of course my pain and feel of loss is nothing compared to that of the spouses, parents, siblings or those otherwise directly impacted by the loss. However, it has forced me to think quite deeply about life in general and what the purpose of this life is.

I lost a very close friend in July. She was a great supporter of anything I was interested in and spurred me on greatly. She diligently read this blog and was one of the few people that actually commented. She was a friend that cared, and despite the burden of being unwell for a long period of time, she lived her life spreading love. She loved life and I know she did not want to die, but as these things are, we have very little say about death. My dear friend was a strong woman, oh… she was strong. You will never have known she was ill if you weren't told. She was the life of the party. Her personality was effervescent and she always had a smile on her face. Her laughter was infectious and she loved to dance.

Travelling was one of her favourite things to do, but in all of this, in her petite body and head, she had a super brain. She was super intelligent and a very industrious woman. I mean, I can't even begin to list her accolades, even while she was ill. I remember having a conversation with her earlier this year when she was toying with the idea of going back to work / going to school because she wanted to do something useful. It was a lot for me to take in because I couldn't even believe she was thinking about these things. She had big plans and goals. That is why, in all of this, in as much as I am at peace that she is no longer in pain, it hurts that although she lived life as best as she could, she still had things she would have loved to do.

She was gracious to the end! Even when things got bad, she was still thinking about me and my family. I mean, she was doing some research for us I didn't even realise she was doing until she sent us a useful link! She was so selfless! She had this skill of making everyone around her feel like she was their best friend. The place she occupied in my heart will never be replace. I remember you everyday, all the time, because somehow, you were involved in everything I did.

I am so grateful for my maternity leave, for the 9 months I spent at home that meant I couldn't use the time difference between the two continents as an excuse for not catching up with you properly. I'm grateful for our then daily banter, exploring business ideas, product ideas, product researches, comparing suppliers and what not. I miss your wittiness, I miss that laughter! I can hear it ringing in my ears right now… that laughter! I miss gisting with you! The numerous conversations that start as a whatsapp chat until you decide this type of gist is for over the phone only.

My dearest, you were special, so very special, and you touched so many lives in so many ways. So much so I am confident that the seed you have planted in all our lives will reap fruits and rewards in the form of your husband and daughter finding everlasting favour in everything they do and everywhere they go.

I know you are resting in peace in the bosom of God. We your friends and family that you left behind miss you dearly. I am grateful for the privilege of being your friend. Thank you for showing me love and teaching me the true selfless meaning of friendship. I will always love you!

Sun re ore mi.

From your friend,

Dami