Monday, June 27, 2016

A Time for Everything

My manager told me: 
this is the time for friendship.
Some of your friends will rise to the occasion. Some you never expected.
Some will shrink back, to your surprise, because you somehow expected they would show up. 
Both categories will take you by surprise. The ones who shrink, do not hold it against them.

No truer words, man.
I love my friends, 
And wherever these roads lead,
Remember no one owes you/me anything.

Monday's Child

Ageing is irrefutable, and it will happen whether you worry or not.
Merely counting down and watching the numbers add up, is an easy route that will induce worry and panic attacks.
However, if you make the content count, soon enough you will start to appreciate and actually look forward to your best years - which have not even happened.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Message to the world

Are all people born with a cause to fight for?
How do these things come?
Do you get one, or maybe two, or more of these causes?
Do they change over the course of one's life or are they time agnostic?

Image: xkcd

On Lightbulbs and Small Pictures

It's adding up.

I'm starting to realize that all of this - the constant work in progress, the efforts, every single experience, painful or pleasurable that goes into my journey, shapes my character, my perspective - is really to make me a richer person that I would give away in service.

Yes, it was never about me, or for me to keep me to myself. I learn so that I can teach. Right? I am alive so that I can give. It's all for the service of humanity. Serving humanity one piece, one conversation, one article, one child, one woman, one person at a time.

What's a big picture without the pixels, the small pictures? I'm starting to see it. I will never underestimate myself, or overlook my sphere of influence. So help me God.

This opens up a new level of self awareness. I love it. Definitely an aha moment for me today, and will be a metric for defining and measuring my success.

In the last 24 hours, I've met Carla Harris, read her book Strategize to Win, and watched Oprah and Michelle on the United States of Women - which I just realized Carla had attended yesterday. These are some of my tribesmen and it's crystal clear that the universe is up to something (good).

“Not everybody can be famous but everybody can be great, because greatness is determined by service.”   ― Martin Luther King Jr.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Congratulations and Condolences

Finally got to play my voice messages. Had 20 new ones from last week.
"... Happy birthday Vicki, and I heard about your dad. Accept my sympathy."

Ah! Les cycles des vie. There was no choice or control or preference of one over the other. Who knew there would be a bridge there?

Some lovely friends had flowers delivered: chrysanthemums, baby breaths, white dahlias, red roses, white roses, sunflowers and some I'm not even able to identify. A box of cupcakes came in too, and I was pleasantly surprised. A shit ton of books were checked off my Amazon wishlist and delivered to me. My children from Sunday school came over to my place with their mums and gave their time and sweetness. Food and fruits. Okra soup, bowls of Jollof rice and chicken, enough to keep me out of the kitchen for weeks. It's so much that I've had to invite some of my ever-hungry bachelor buddies to come feast. Hehe! One of my egbons is even coming with puff puff. Lol!

The gestures of love and kindness through gifts, messages, prayers, tears, company have been overwhelming, and I am thankful. I really am.

One of my takeaways from all of this is to pour out more into my associations and dealings with people. Pour our more of my gifts and passion into my work. And by my work I don't mean my job, but my calling - which my job is one small part of. So help me God.

Between being Aduke and Uchenna’s child

My name I did nothing to earn or inherit, all I had to do was be born.

Nwa Obodo: "Child of the city," or "Child of the town," or "Child of the country."  
Root: Nwa - child, Obodo - city, town, country. 
Language: Igbo. Origin: Nigeria, West Africa.

My last name has held different meanings to me at different stages of my life. In my wounded preteen and teenage years, I associated it with pain. I was Vict0ria, and my father was the Nwobod0 - I considered a legal name change, and toyed with the idea of splitting the two identities so I'd have little to associate with him. However, the burden of modifying my travel and education documents wore me out mentally, and I reckoned I'd hold off until I became someone’s wife.

Somewhere in my early twenties, the differences were resolved. And then my inner Ajala Jalingo was unleashed when I discovered a side to me that lived and loved to travel. One day during this phase, I would have an epiphany thinking about my last name, and fall in love with it - because its meaning suddenly validated my persona, right around the time I was feeling like some sort of freeborn. Traveler. Roamer. Wanderluster. City girl. Now that I think about it, my dad really started this trend. He was a big time world traveler with loads of passport books. He was hardly home and traveled so many countries, and as a little girl, I would habitually sit in his room in his absence and just drift off studying the pages of his passport, oogling the visas and travel stamps, and some pictures he brought back. That was how I knew his birthday, from studying his passports. Wow! Pretty strong flashback. In fact the scent of his cologne - Jean Paul Gaultier, from his suitcase after one of his trips to Paris, just filled my nose.

Now a week into my thirties, I’m in a place where my last name is a representation of being somebody’s child. It took that long. These past few days have seen me dealing with a rush of emotions. Some new, some misplaced, some once-suppressed. Yes indeed, last week's unfortunate circumstance threw me into feelings of a grown woman and a child at the same time. I was talking to my younger siblings over the phone and wanted to be strong for them. My sister and I went over a fond memory that made us laugh so hard, and the next minute it was a bawl fest. I was sobbing hysterically, and she started crying too. My sense of self-sufficiency wavered and I wanted nothing more than to be looked after and petted. Not seeking attention or throwing tantrums, but craving company, affection, hugs, kisses, and comfort sex. For the first time, living alone didn't make sense anymore. I wanted human contact, and I wanted to stop being responsible and strong and collected, and just let go. You know, I was “christened” Aduke during my youth service year - and at this moment, I want to be just that.

Speaking of which, I have had this song, Aduke by Tjan playing on repeat for some 24 hrs. It's clear I’m anchoring but it's soothing and meets me somewhere. You would expect it to be about a father-daughter relationship, but it's not. It's romantic, easily a wedding song. I don't know how this adds up but someone told me the next time a girl would feel her dad’s absence after the funeral would be on her wedding day. I have no logical explanations for now. I'm just taking each day as it comes. Some sentiments are now erupting on their own accord, leaving me wanting some of the things I came to terms with long ago as a child, that I was not entitled to. This is definitely a series of redefining moments for me.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Today my father has passed away

I just heard the news at 7.48pm, about an hour and six minutes ago.

I'm miles away from him, but I went through an emotional trauma last night and this morning and then I woke up this morning feeling a wave of peace, and I said a prayer for him. He had been very ilI over the last seven months. My sister and I talked about him yesterday. About how she had last seen him in the hospital two days ago. About how he was suffering, and his condition was critical. He wasn't stable enough to be transported to another hospital, or to leave the country for better medical treatment.

I expected the worst, but still held on to a sliver of hope.

For a while now, every time my mum called my phone, I was expecting this news - but it never came and I marveled at how good God had always been to him. He is a warrior, he's been through worse and survived. But this spell was taking too long.

I was running late to work and it made sense to throw on a simple back dress. And for no complicated reason, I'm wearing a black dress today.

I didn't know it would be today. I have cried my eyes eyes out in the last hour, feeling a huge sense of loss and helplessness. And shock. And sadness. And some kind of relief for my mother, who has been through the worst from the day she married him, and was with always with him, even in his last moments.

May his lively, cheerful, funny soul rest in peace.

Friday, June 10, 2016


Who knew my best days would show up here in the suburbs of New York? Still a city girl though, don't get it twisted.

My first work anniversary and my birthday happen this month, makes me think of my personal and professional life. I'm grateful for the twists and turns on my journey that make me. They've made me uncomfortable and stimulated me to extend myself in certain areas, beyond what I would regard as my capacity. Of course I didn't know at the time, but looking back on the past year, I can appreciate the quality of "stuff" that has passed through me. I ask myself what it's all for, and the reply came back to me. It's all to get myself to a point where I know without a doubt that I am enough.

Yes. I am enough.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

On a good day

On A Good Day

For me, it’s a good day when I conquer a challenge no matter how small. And today, that came in the form of Excel spreadsheets.

There aren’t too many things in this world that have the power to break me like Excel. My day job did not require me touching that evil thing until recently, when some new responsibilities got transferred to me. I quickly crafted a workaround that resolved the affected tasks without having to fraternize with said enemy. And all was well, until early Monday when Murphy’s Law set in.

My manager sent an IM. A business process was disrupted and he needed answers. I looked at my workaround, but the situation was a little too advanced. This time there was no working around getting my hands dirty with raw data that was stashed away in those csv files. The last time sometime like this happened, I took work home and stayed up till 3am, running vlookup and all that jazz, while watching YouTube tutorials. Ugh!

This time I promised myself I wouldn’t lose sleep, and came up with a solution — even though my guts did not agree with my logic. What professional goes with guts? I reasoned, and turned it in just before calling it a day.

Following day, I got an indicator that the fix was not accurate. I changed my perspective, and told myself it was one more opportunity to learn, which meant impacting myself and ultimately someone else. That seemed to do it for me, and shrink the hatred. I started to ask better questions, from stakeholders and even from the data. Errors started to point themselves out, and corrections were made, and before long, I got clarity, was able to troubleshoot, resolve accurately and even went on to make bold predictions. Ha!

I gave my team and manager feedback, and world peace was restored. I felt a quiet personal victory. I won. I beat Excel! And then I remembered a quote I first read in primary school. I’d had little understanding back then but committed it to memory. It was from a textbook called “Mastering English,” and there was an account of Tenzing and Edmund Hillary after their successful expedition climbing Mt. Everest. The story ended with a quote from Hillary, “It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.”

And oh, by the way, it’s my first work anniversary today! Cheers :)