The Dog Won’t Eat Grass!

There was a dog, of the finest breed imaginable. With the softest fur, sleekest stride, and doe-like eyes; the kind of dog that movies are made about.

It’s proud owner loved to show it off; he strutted around the neighbourhood with his canine companion, proud and pleased as could be and when he was done strutting, he lovingly led it home, and settled it for dinner; a dinner of the choicest roots, herbs, wildflower and grass growing in the neighbourhood.

You see, it’s owner loved it to bits, and could not understand why his sterling doggy whined and moaned whenever he placed this awesome repast before it.

I mean, he must have thought, ‘What an ungrateful dog!’

After all, his father fed their pet goat with grass every day, and oh, what a thankful goat that was!

This owner cared for his dog in every way possible…just not in the way it NEEDED to be cared for.

And you may ask what kind of a jerk feeds a dog with grass?!

I asked that myself; but not of a fictional doggy owner, but of husbands and of wives.

Have you bothered to find out what your spouse really needs? Or are you stuck in the rut of how your parents did it or how your friends and colleagues are doing it? Are you forcing a dog to change its very character and start eating grass because you insist on feeding it thus?

That’s really like pouring water on a stone you see, because you might troll around congratulating yourself on being such a caring, sensitive Human, but you really haven’t made any impact on your spouse; and it’s not because they are ungrateful either- you just aren’t feeding them the right food!

Picture this scenario:

Boo thinks that massaging Babe’s feet every morning is the way to go; but Babe really needs Boo not to hurry out the door without saying, ‘I love you,’. She tries to appear to enjoy an early morning foot massage but the truth is it actually irritates her. Boo senses Babe’s discontent and is pissed that she is so ungrateful. But has Boo really taken the time to discover Babe’s preferred meal? I think not. And the dog continues to receive grass at mealtimes.

And then the whole issue of comparism breaks forth: the Goat-herd advises the Dog-Owner to keep serving grass; because it works for his goat!

‘No, bananas!’ Says he who owns a pet-monkey;

‘Have you tried chicken-feed?’ The poultry farmer inquires.

Hunger might compel the dog to feed on any of the above fares, but does it enjoy it? Inside, I think it continues to pine for what it really needs.

Your wife needs you to know her needs and your husband does too; don’t generalize or assume. Contrary to popular opinion, all men are not the same and you had better believe that no two women have exactly the same needs.

That dog won’t eat grass just because you sweated all morning to gather the choicest weeds and herbs in the vicinity or beyond!

 

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TO SPARE OR WIELD THE ROD… WHERE THE BALANCE LIES.

I was enjoying a TGIF moment with friends and we somehow delved into the issue of the brutality(ies) we suffered at the hands of our darling parents under the guise of parenting. From grinding pepper to insult the injuries inflicted by unbridled flogging, to inserting objects into certain parts (details too gory). My personal favourite is being presented with a knife and a wire and asked to choose which one will be the instrument of your death, followed by a speedy burial in the backyard. Scandalous right?

Anyways, we reached the consensus that most of our parents actually dabbled into blatant child abuse and for what? Hardened little criminals who asked “Is it not just flogging?” and rebellious teens that couldn’t wait to tear off the shackles of parenthood and ‘tear eye’ the minute they were away from home. Of course, the good Lord intervened in the lives of many, making us the people we are today.

Perhaps with the images of those traumatic beatings in our sub-conscious, the parents of my generation seem to have no backbone when it comes to discipline. Little kids ride roughshod over their parents, the little lords and ladies of the manor, throwing tantrums and disobeying authority.

So where’s the balance? We don’t want to go completely unscrewed while wielding a cane, neither are we gonna let our little munchkins walk all over us…say what???

My little two cents: First, parenting requires Godly wisdom. Not commonsense logic. If you doubt this, ask the parents who did all the ‘right’ things and got all the ‘wrong’ results. Secondly, don’t discipline your children in anger, but do discipline them.

Thirdly, never forget that they are CHILDREN! They are not your mean boss, an insubordinate employee, a corrupt policeman, or an annoying spouse. They are CHILDREN and should be corrected lovingly and wisely. They should not pay for the sins of their mother or father or anybody else. THEY ARE CHILDREN!!!

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Do We Get the Leaders We Deserve?

No. We Get the Leaders we groom, or fail to groom.

A responsible and responsive leader is not an ineffectual blame-shifter, or an aloof observer. S/he knows the situation, takes charge of the situation and communicates effectively and compassionately with those that they lead.

As a female Nigerian residing in Nigeria, I believe that responsible leadership starts from the bottom rung of the ladder, not the top. Responsible leadership is or should be learned from the very nucleus of society-the family.

A responsible leader is the father who provides proper guidance for his family and the mother who nurtures and teaches her children basic precepts like integrity, honour and strength of character. It is the siblings who learn mutual respect for humanity irrespective of the sexes and spread that respect to their classmates and relations.

A responsive leader is the teacher who pays attention to the needs of her students and provides them with growth-inspiring feedback. It is the next-door neighbour who notices that a wily stranger is lurking in the neighbourhood and ensures that the appropriate action is carried out.

It is the caregiver who sees the bruises on a child’s body and inquires as to the cause.

Whatever the nucleus is fed will blossom and cause a rippling effect that will affect our communities. Why are young men in Rivers state, Nigeria prone to cultism after years and years of feeding ‘fat’ off the largesse accorded to oil-producing states?
Because of a diet bereft of responsibility, integrity and honour.

Why are men of the Nigerian Police Force constantly labelled as greedy, disrespectful, bribe-taking wolves in sheep’s clothing? Despite the fact that their ranks swell with new intakes year after year? That same diet.

Why would a primary school student toss garbage onto the streets? Why are young ladies walking the streets of GRA, Port Harcourt at all hours of the night, in all weathers, seeking clients? Why would a virile young man think his best shot at wealth, fame and fortune is through the business of kidnapping? Why would a cab-driver ignore traffic lights and constitute a nuisance to himself and other road-users just so he can pick up a passenger before the other cab-driver? Why would an immigration officer ask for double the price to issue an international passport?

Because responsible and responsive leadership is not being taught where it matters most- where it can be easily and quickly assimilated, in the homes.
Let’s face it- the ‘big’ government is not the robber skulking around in police uniform; it’s not the small business owner selling expired products; it’s not the bus conductor who will break a passenger’s head with a green bottle at the slightest provocation.

To create and lead an inclusive society is not the duty of one person, no matter how distinguished, feared or powerful he or she might be and no matter his personal thoughts and opinions about equality and inclusivity. When my country’s President Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in last year, many assumed it would herald the immediate end of corruption at all cadres of government. More than one year later, asides from a few publicly tried cases, corruption remains a pervasive part of the
Nigerian ecosystem.

That same President publicly stated that his wife belonged to the kitchen, the living room and the ‘other’ room and that has not stopped women from breaking glass ceilings or supporting one another.
Governmental policies, bills and laws are yet very important tools in creating inclusive societies but as with responsible and responsive leadership, I maintain that charity begins at home. If tribalism, discrimination and racism is allowed to bloom in our families, it seeps into the very fabric of society.

No child automatically discriminates against another…they learn it from the social, familial and religious circles they are exposed to.
We can shape a better future that puts responsible and responsive leadership at the forefront through a massive re-education, and that begs the question that begs another question. What is education? Isn’t it time we re-engineered our concept of education?

For the young adults, the teenagers, the children, now is the time to re-teach, re-engineer and reeducate. Now is the time for the family circle to take it’s place in grooming our next generation of leaders who know what responsive and responsible leadership means and practice it with an ease acquired from long usage.

The Green Patch in a Brown Field

It’s a brand new week, and if you are a Nigerian, it’s entirely possible you are being regaled with tales of misery and woe. Before I continue though, let me tell you about my lawn.

During the harmattan hangover, our gardener -cum- security guard has little or no work to do and he is very glad that all that remains of the verdant green is brown, unfruitful grass. But there is this one ‘troublesome’ spot located just under the water tank. Because it was constantly watered by the overflow from the tank, it sprouted and flourished even in the driest periods of the harmattan season.

As I looked out my window one morning and observed the green patch thriving in the midst of the barren-land, it occurred to me that this was my story- this is my story and it could be yours too.

I am the tree that is planted by the streams of righteousness, flourishing in and out of season. I am the green patch in a desolate place, watered continuously from the source, my source.

Yes, economic stats matter, and yes they do look foreboding and bla, bla, bla, but I would have you know that some of the giant and enduring names including Microsoft and HP were founded in times of ‘recession.’

One man’s recession is another man’s succession.

Choose ye this day whose report you will believe, and if it’s the Lord’s, for Christ sakes, speak like it and act like it!!!

Break forth!!!

P.S: Believing the report of the Lord means you have to know the report of the Lord. From me to you, it is more crucial than ever to
study and speak the Word.

Women Can Drive Too!

I haven’t been driving for very long. In popular parlance, ‘my hand is just getting strong.’ I also still have butterflies in my stomach when driving through uncharted territories.

In my short experience though, I have discovered this: most road users are impatient, selfish and plainly speaking,  not nice,  especially towards female drivers.
Long before I started driving, I had observed this adverse reaction towards women on wheels. Its two-fold: 1. Women are not sharp drivers, and 2. Women won’t let you shunt.

Number 2 I not only understand, but fully implement. Prior to this time, I was the nice driver who allowed people pass before her at junctions, who slowed to allow anyone reversing etc do so in peace. The favour it seems, is never returned. You allow a cab driver enter your lane and he rewards you by stopping every other minute to pick and drop passengers. People want to edge me out of my lane because they think I will go without a fight. They give you black looks for accommodating other road users and honk you down for obeying the traffic wardens.

Why? Because other road users are impatient and ungrateful. And I am taking the gloves off. Only pedestrians make my ‘slow down and allow list’. Let’s go there.

Yes, I have pondered and wondered about whether I am letting the bad overwhelm the good. Right now however, this feels like the way forward. Do not try to bully the next female driver you see…it might be me!

#iCanWrite!

The Mean Street Called Social Media.

A wise woman once said, “If you dislike someone, don’t follow them on social media…” and I verily agree.
Why else would you troll over the pictures, tweets and joys of someone you dislike except to further feed your spite? Perhaps this is the root cause of the ravaging disease I have chosen to call social-media-rage.

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One more thing, social media never forgets. A screen shot is all it takes.

Sometimes,  I believe its the anonymity, the invincibility or the impersonal feel of social media that accounts for the depth of vitriol we cast on each other in the name of ‘having an opinion.’ You can’t disagree with someone these days on social media without going through the wringer…what exactly are we all trying to prove?   Imagine you were having that same convo with someone face-to-face…would you so easily fling abusive words? Or so easily get riled up?

Pre-election Nigeria was an eye-opener as the wolves came out to play. No decorum, courtesy or respect is necessary when you are valiantly defending GMB’s certificate’lessness’ or GEJ’s cluelessness. Friendship, gender and age are trivialities to be dispensed with. You must agree with me or… “Your father! ” This is freedom of speech & expression gone sour!

If I had only social media to go by, I might conclude that the concept of humanity must be investigated. How do people spew such hate and cruelty with their words and cry when a suicide bomber detonates a bomb? Hate and cruelty is the meat of those people, same as you!

Then the comments on Blogs like Linda Ikeji…OMG! Nothing is sacred there. Mother, father, ethnicity,  religion…they will slice, dice and serve you up for dinner! The topic or thrust of the post is disregarded by the 5th comment as the warfront is declared open.

Twitter…hmmm. People have too much stamina there, they can go on for dayyyyssss! President, Celeb, Elder or younger statesman…on Twitter,  everybody be mate! Not for the faint of heart!

Facebook… I daresay a lot of relationships are a little strained already. Seriously though, when you post a Facebook update, and then go on to say, ‘Its my timeline,’ aren’t you being a little ridiculous? The whole reason you put it on Facebook and not in your diary or even blog is because you wanted your 700-and -something acquaintances to see it and deliberate on it. Even more ridiculous is when you expect everyone to agree with you. That however gives no one the right to be derogatory.

I mean, when did we forget how to ignore stuff? Do you pick a fight with every person that looks at you wrongly in the office or on the street?   Shoutout to those who try to keep it positive and uplifting, who know how to fight fair, and how to lose without being sore.

As you stroll through social media this week, kindly commit to being sociable, forgiving, even tolerant. The hate starts from somewhere, please don’t let it start with you!

The iCanWrite Hub is Open!

Hello,
(From the other side) and good morning!

‘If the desire to write is not accompanied by actual writing, then the desire must be not to write.’ -Hugh Prather

People tell me, ‘I can write’, ‘I want to write’, ‘I know how to write but’, ‘I used to write when I was younger’, ‘Writing is my passion’ and so on.
And I believe they can, but the problem is that they aren’t- for whatever reasons.

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Enter the iCanWrite Hub six-weeks program where you actually write, publish on our blog and get feedback, insight and direction.
We will serve as your accountability partner, your editor, your guide, your inspiration even… But write you must because we learn to write by writing.
Whether it’s a blog or a book, we will give you the push you need to get you on your way.

No, this program is not entirely free, but we will do our one -out of many- good deeds of the year and offer a 50% discount to our first five registrants -yes, that’s a word.

What to do?
Send a 500-word essay on any subject of your choice to iCanwritehub@gmail.com on/before 29th May, 2017 with subject title, ‘I Think I Can Write’ to be eligible for THIS DISCOUNT. Further details will be communicated thereafter.

P. S: Just so you know, the discount is below the N20K (naira) line. Be encouraged and be swift.

Thank you!

Kind regards,
Unstoppable Jennie,
For the iCanWrite Team.

Keeping Up With The Joneses… Especially When They Are Family.

It’s a bit of a cliche, this phrase, ‘Keeping up with the Joneses’ especially considering the widely popular spin-off, ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians.’ I would not advice anyone to try either… you simply cannot keep up with someone else’s life or expectations for the simple reason that you have a different life to live from the one you are trying to live. [Read this again and you will get it!!!]

Someone described December as a ‘high maintenance’ month and I think we all know why. Sometimes it feels like one works throughout the year just to save monies to spend during the two-week vacation that we call ‘Christmas.’ There are trips to be made, clothes and shoes to be bought, gifts to be wrapped, goats and cows to be slaughtered, bags of rice and bottles of oil to haul off, hampers to show appreciation, and a thousand and one other things that require the transfer of monies from account to account and hand to hand. Simply put, we spend more money on a two-week vacation than we spend in six-months… and it’s all good. After all, how else do you reward yourself for working so hard all year long? If you get the opportunity to let down your hair at the end of every year, why not take it with both hands? Why not indeed?

Well, what if you really cannot afford it? What if your account is gasping and you know that it cannot survive the upcoming splurge on Christmas paroles? For most people, it would be easy to have a quiet Christmas if they did not feel the pressure to impress the extended family. Imagine having to shatter everyone’s expectations- Everyone is traveling, how can you not? Everyone is buying a goat, what about you? Everyone is shopping at Ruff ‘n’ Tumble…did you just mention Balogun market? For your children’s party clothes? What about the Christmas tree? Why are there no wrapped gifts from your family underneath it?

God forbid there is a major ‘owambe’ planned for the period as well, your account is under-performing and one sibling keeps asking, ‘But when are you sending the money now?’ Or there is a grand gift planned for a parent and your contribution is the minutest.

How do you keep up with the Joneses especially when they are your family? [Because no one else can really put you under pressure to ‘perform’ unless you allow it.]

For me the answer is found in the Bible, in one sentence… “The Truth Shall Set You Free.”

~ Unstoppable Jennie

Why iCanWrite?

Because you can. You, yes you!

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But you need to get started and that’s exactly why we are here!

iCanWrite is a support system for aspiring writers with the aim of growing writers to greatness, providing mentorship and support during the writing process, acting as accountability partners to ensure consistency and continuity and providing tailor-made solutions to a writer’s challenges.

Our Services include:

  1. Consulting and Advisory – We work to understand your challenges and prescribe the possible solutions to those challenges.
  2. The iCanWrite hub – The iCanWrite hub is a six-weeks intensive package designed to awaken the writer in you, explore the possibilities of your writing prowess, and get you writing consistently and qualitatively.

The package  includes:

  1. Weekly and bi-weekly exercises on a variety of content with constant feedback, editing and corrections.
  2. Practical introduction to the fundamentals of blogging and content development.
  3. A one-to-three month long project period depending on the type of content/writing the writer chooses to create. During this period, the writer will continue to receive mentorship and support from the iCanWrite team.
  4. Discounted rates for editing and proof-reading of project work + subsequent manuscripts.
  5. Updates about opportunities for writers, competitions or internships.

‘Can anything be sadder than work left unfinished? Yes, work never begun.’ -Christina Rossetti

It’s time to stop wishing and start writing! Send a mail to icanwritehub@gmail.com and let’s get this party started!

To your success!