Blogging, a Lot Like Running

blogging like running

 

My running journey provides metaphors for life. At that time of day when my neighbours court sleep and win an hour or two, the wind serves crisp air as I begin jogging. I contemplate my life’s compass until I land on lighter matters like the kinds of personal bloggers I’ve come across and how they resemble the runners who share the four-kilometre boulevard with me.

Hit and Runn-ers

These bloggers resemble that runner whose gear I like but couldn’t find at the mall. I wonder if Nike customised it for her, but swallow my Maggi-size envy before it burgeons. I swear that in a previous life, she was a rare gazelle. Hit and run bloggers excel at their craft, but they only tease us with their brilliance once in a long while, lighting our skies with their fireworks. Where will their gift take them? Some roads don’t take you anywhere and maybe, that’s okay because nowhere is a place where you can start again.

Aveng-ers

Their blogs exist to avenge their enemies. They remind me of the runner whose painful breathing heralds his presence. Punishing his thighs for a crime they did not commit, he nods and grunts as he overtakes me. One kilometre later, I find him sitting on a bench shouting, “Sh*t this, sh*t that, sh*t, sh*t, sh*t!” while tying his shoelaces. Determination and ugly are not synonyms. Avenger bloggers name names, places, times, and events, as they roast people on their spit over and over. They blog as frequently as they are offended.

Observ-ers

An about page and maybe one post make up the contents of their blogs. They hop from blog to blog reading, liking, and commenting. They are like the fishmongers who yell, “Kom op! Hup hup hup!” as I turn the bend, spent, and ready to head home. These perpetual encouragers put a smile on my face and help me gain a second wind. Observer bloggers cheer other bloggers all the way to the finish line.

 

bloggers I admire

 

Reblogg–ers

They are first cousins of Observ-er. An about page and maybe one blog post they actually wrote is the extent of their originality. They have found their niche just like that blond woman in her fifties who walks her three dogs every morning. She waves to every jogger and has the same kind word for those of us slow enough to hear, “Goede morgen! Succes!” Rummaging for content on blogosphere is a reblogg-er’s high. Redistributing wealth they do not possess is an elixir. Their blogs are exotic mosaics of content from essays on Marilyn Monroe to breaking news on CNN. Rebloggers would flatter other bloggers if only not every post on their blogs was a reblog.

Promis-ers

Promis-ers begin the year with the New Year resolution, I swear to blog consistently this year, so help me God! They bring to mind the fast and furious joggers who make the word high-speed redundant. In January, they published eighteen posts, serving essays, satires, how-tos, poems, and short stories. By February, they joined Mr fast and furious on the park bench gulping air and thinking, na who send me work? When Promis-ers woo us next New Year, we will embrace them, yet no one is deceived. Why work so hard to lose credibility?

Slow and Steady-ers

They are neither cheetahs nor tortoises, but pace themselves for longevity. They run like joggers whose even breathing ensure they complete six kilometres in just over an hour. Slow and steady-ers write posts that are boring, exciting, poor, average, or excellent, but their publishing schedule is predictable. They may not win the race, but they will live to run it another day because they understand their clock and resist the pressure to reset.

 

Because we’re doing life together, these patterns transcend blogging. So, you don’t have to tell me which category you fall in, tell me about other categories I missed.

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2014

 

Photo credit: Francois Peeters / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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The Lost Art of Conversation

conversation

I sat with my friend Toyin to talk about nothing. She mentioned sales at Debenhams. I went on about Monsoon, the clothing brand. She said she wanted to go to the beach. I talked about the three books I left on her coffee table. She pointed to the little boy in wellies splashing in the mud. I reminded her about our childhood, playing in white sand and filling our hair with it.

To me, conversation is pleasurable when we leave judgement at Heaven’s gate and manage to stop the clock from ticking. Multitasking, not to be confused with shared activity that carries conversation from point A to B, and multithinking are the bane of good conversation because if conversation is a way of telling our friends, “Please understand me,” then inattention is their way of saying, “We don’t want to.”

Toyin and I rambled until she checked her phone, “Thirteen notifications!”

I checked mine. “I miss my data coverage, I’m sure I have many notifications as well!”

She looked up and craned north, south, east, and west. “No free Wi-Fi in the park, sorry. Hey look!”

I looked at her phone, at the photo of the man and let my giggles collide with hers. “I’ve seen it before!”

Sometimes her thumbs moved over her keypad with the dexterity of a clerk from an era gone by. Other times her index finger slid across her screen, and she dropped odd bits of information here and there, like a child throwing pieces of bread to ducks at a pond. I kept my phone in my bag. Scrolling through old newsletters from writing, editing, and marketing groups, which caused my inbox to swell to 200 unread mails only made me determined to cancel my subscriptions. I drew circles in the ground with my sneakers.

She sighed and put her phone in her bag. “Why do we do this?”

I knew what she meant, why do we interject our conversations with episodes from social media as if our lives do not sizzle enough?

“Boredom?” I offered.

“No, we were really talking; then I wondered what other people were up to.”

“Curiosity then?”

She saw the twinkle in my eye. “I’m serious! It’s rude.”

“It’s not rude when everyone is doing it. It’s culture.”

You sef!” She pushed me, but she did not apologise. “It’s possible to do without social media.”

I nodded. She told about how she forgot her phone at the office the weekend that her laptop also crashed. She couldn’t believe she’d survived that weekend without the internet.

“What did you do with all that time?”

“I slept, I read a book,” she shrugged.

We laughed.

Squeals from the family playing Frisbee in the distance caught our attention.

“In this time, we need another kind of fast. Food fasts won’t cut it anymore. We need social media fasts,” she said.

“Why?”

“Because if the purpose of a fast is to eliminate distraction and quieten the mind, then social media provides non-stop stimuli, from one link to the next. My appetite for the internet trumps my appetite for food.”

I nodded. The swings were finally free. I walked over, tugged the chains, and weighed their strength. Then I sat and had a go. She joined me.

“On your marks, get set, go!”

I rose higher and higher. I was winning. Then I thought of all the things that could go wrong. I slowed down and let her triumph.

Another kind of fast? I don’t know. Doesn’t the driver determine the speed of the car? Conversations on social media can be meaningful as well. Whatever the medium, the most expensive thing I can give anyone these days is my full attention.

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2014

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Demystifying Age: So How Young are You?

Age

“Age has no reality except in the physical world. The essence of a human being is resistant to the passage of time. Our inner lives are eternal, which is to say that our spirits remain as youthful and vigorous as when we were in full bloom.”       – Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez –

I once knew a boy from the village who did not know when he was born. Since he had never attended school, he resumed primary school when he moved to Port Harcourt. That he was bigger than his classmates did not inspire their respect or fear. They teased and provoked him until he abandoned school. I was in secondary school then.

The years rolled by and his voice deepened. The years rolled by and I completed my university education. I planned my life using age as milestone markers. I wonder now, how he planned his; where did his ruler start and how did he measure off millimetres and centimetres on the graph of his aspirations?

Age is just a number, maybe, but with it, we appraise where you are and where you should be. Your age cannot reveal your heart, bury your enthusiasm, or stop your dream unless you let it.

Conversations about age have dominated my circle recently. Five writers whose ages span from early twenties to mid-fifties have joined the conversation. One theme runs through the narratives: age matters, but you must define why for yourself.

When it comes to age, perhaps women have a lot more to say . . .

 

The Other “F” Word

Three years ago, I turned forty. I flipped out even though I knew that the negative ideas about women hitting middle age are misogynistic and wrong. At parties, any time the topic of age came up, I’d leave the room to get a drink so I wouldn’t have to cop to my age. After my ex-boyfriend told me that guys on Match dot com were writing me off because I had “40” in my age box, I thought about lying and saying I was “32” instead. I felt as if my age was my expiration date and I’d become a carton of spoiled milk.

Six months into forty, I realized I had a choice to make. I could keep chastising myself for getting older, or I could stop buying into the messed up ideas around aging that I’d internalized. Considering I’d spent most of my thirties waking up to who I really am and what I really want, I certainly didn’t want to fall asleep again under another sexist spell cast by the patriarchy.

At forty-one, I kicked my sugar habit and became the healthiest I’ve ever been. I started writing my first book. I stopped saying yes when I wanted to say no. I began listening to my instincts more and less to what other people think. I also stopped worrying about men who weren’t interested in me and started to pay attention to the men I found interesting. At forty-two, I met the person I want to grow old with. And even though I don’t look twenty-three anymore, or even thirty-three, I love the way I look today at forty-three.

So far, my forties are proving to be—to use another F-word—(pretty damn) fabulous!

Diahann Reyes @ storiesfromthebelly.com  Read full article

 

No Longer Just a Number

For as long as I can remember, age has always been just a number for me. I shared my age comfortably when I introduced myself, and I never hesitated to give out the real number when asked by those who seemed oblivious of or who disregarded the cardinal rule.

In the past two weeks, however, age has become the measure of my womanhood and the number of chimes ringing from my biological clock. After completing my undergraduate studies in Morocco, I hopped on a plane home. In typical Gambian fashion, I received hearty congratulatory messages and varying expressions of pride from family, friends, and acquaintances, swiftly followed by prayers for a good job, bigger accomplishments, and most importantly, a great husband.

It is the natural order of things here. An undergraduate degree is enough for the woman who had chosen to go beyond high school instead of settling down to start a family. They say, “Time is not on your side.” They say, “You might not be able to bring home a husband when you are ready, because all the men would have been taken.” To their prayers, I mumble, “Amen,” and return to weighing my job options.

I find myself drawn to institutions where I feel my youth will not devalue my qualifications and capabilities. I dress to look ‘older’ for meetings and interviews, so my teenage features will not influence my potential employers’ decisions.

Consequently, I have become more conscious of my age. Twenty-four is no longer just a number. It is a detail that one might only encounter on my résumé.

Jama @ linguerebi.wordpress.com

 

Open Secrets

So is your age a deep secret? Mine isn’t. I celebrated my birthday this year in a blog post, The Lightness of Becoming 55. Since then, I’ve come to realize the post was about embracing my mortality; at eighty-five, my father is dying of cancer. Still, it’s a strange feeling . . . fifty-five. I have a few grey strands that I just gave up plucking! Seriously, fifty-five means I have earned life experience that no one can take away from me.

But, second thoughts creep in: what if people at work discover my age on my blog? What if they start sabotaging me? The reality is that no one cares as much as I do and I would be worrying too much. Besides, over time, that blog post will fade into obscurity as newer posts emerge. As long as I keep exploring my world and I’m open to learning about others, each year of life becomes a gift.

If a much older woman is unwilling to disclose her age, it seems to me that she is afraid of her mortality. Hey, life happens and the years appear suddenly like a breadcrumb trail behind you! More Hollywood actresses are disclosing their ages. This is a good trend or is it just the paparazzi trying to sell news?

Fifty-five equals two high-five hands clapping in jubilation and spontaneity. I’m finding my place in life with my own hands and sharing it with others. To do this, I listen to the best positive timbre of my voice. As I age, that voice becomes more poignant but rich.

Jean @ cyclewriteblog.wordpress.com

 

None of Your Beeswax!

How old are you? When did the question become as invasive as a stranger asking, “What size is your bra?” I first heard that you don’t ask a lady her age, in Nigeria and then, I imbibed it. Yet in The Netherlands, the receptionist at the Gemeente asks, “Wat is uw geboortedatum?” with the clinical detachment of a gynaecologist examining my cervix, and I respond, no pomp, no pageantry.

One day, I looked at my neighbour’s BMW X5, and wondered what he earned. I did not ask him when he stopped for a chit-chat as he walked his dogs because it was none of my business. I calculated the value of his house, googled what a man in his position would earn, took into consideration that his wife is the daughter of a former diplomat, and that they owned a boat. I knew enough.

How old am I? I sing Davido’s Aye, with my twelve-year-old niece and tell friends in their twenties, “Been there, done that, got the t-shirt thrice, and moved on!” I discuss my blog posts pre-publication with my buddy who is forty-five and debate the existence of God with a sixty-five-year-old atheist. I am as young or as old as I want to be.

But, when I try on those leather-look skinnies in Zara, and turn to the side, then look at my behind, I shake my head as the attendant asks, “Will you be taking this?” I am not as young as the clothes would like me to be.

So, how old am I? None of your beeswax!

Timi @ Livelytwist

 

Old at 18; Young at 90

I stare into the eyes of my beloved who is in his mid-thirties and wonder if he is in love with me or with the idea of my youth. I have the look of innocence or so I’ve been told. At the restaurant, a waiter asks for my ID to ensure she isn’t serving a minor drinks. I watch the confusion on her face; it surprises me every time. Gisting about celebrity gossip with my friends in their twenties tires me. Listening to the wisdom of my elders intrigues me.  I am an old soul in a young body.

Do we discover life and determine our futures when we are young? Maybe. Is age a barometer for our maturity level? No way! Is age a number that convinces our friends and us that we belong to their crowd? Well, yes. Does beauty have an inverse relationship with age? Yes. No. Maybe.

I consider age a means to tell the time as we journey in life, a clock that divides our stories into seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years. Age is only a temporary number invented by human beings. You are as youthful as your mind allows or as old as the elder who gives you advice. I will gladly tell you my age if you just ask it of me.

“Some people are old at 18 and some are young at 90. Time is a concept that humans created.” – Yoko Ono

Michelle @ www.facebook.com/ladieleblanc

 

Not Old Enough

Because I’d recently completed an Art Appreciation class, the church elders believed I had a sophisticated eye for colours and patterns and invited me to the building committee meeting.

“We want to redesign the church building,” the senior pastor started.

“Thank God for our youngest worker here,” quipped the deacon who sat next to the pastor. “We need your expertise,” she smiled at me.

“Since God is holy and white means pure, we shall paint the walls white,” the senior pastor said.

“I agree with you sir. God is also a man of war. We can paint the pillars red to illustrate His fearfulness,” another deacon suggested.

“Wow! The Holy Spirit is at work here. How about we paint the ceilings blue?” the man sitting across from me left his question suspended in the air.

I closed my eyes and thought of rainbows and striped candies.

“What if we outsource this project and have this discussion with a designer present?” I offered.

“Abimbola, what do you mean?” the senior pastor frowned at me.

“Your ideas are lacking in terms of design, responsiveness, color psychology, and so on. Since the logo determines how a brand is remembered, it has to be in harmony with—”

“Look here, how old do you think you are? Since you are privileged to sit in this meeting, you should act your age!” the deacon who had smiled at me hissed.

So I held my peace. The project was doomed, but I kept the knowledge to my young self.

Maggielola @ worshipandswag.com

 

 

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2014

 

Image credits:  www.fordesigner.com/maps/15533-0.htm

 

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A Letter in Hindsight

hindsight

Some people buy a gadget, read the instructions, and then attempt to operate it. I am not one of those people. I read instruction number one, skip to number four, try to use the gadget, and call for help! I have been successful because I watched and did what those who read instructions do; I am a tactile learner. That’s why I think that if someone had given me this letter years ago, I would have breezed through it and rushed off to ‘experience’ my life.

 

Dear Timi,

You are twenty-one, you have big dreams, you see the horizon, and your heart leaps to find what lies beyond.

You are gathering your first-degree transcripts in hopes of attending The London School of Economics (LSE). You dream of working for the World Bank. What you do not yet know is that a desire to be an influencer on a global platform fuels your dream.

“Oh no,” you protest, “I just want to be a banker like my dad.”

Sssh, I have seen the future. You will not attend LSE. You will fall madly in love, as you will do several times in your life, and give up that dream for love, working for a local bank instead. You will be content building a home and raising a family because living this way has also been a dream of yours ever since you played house at six and declared, “I want to be the mother!”

After many years, the walls of your home will constrict, narrower than your spacious hallway, making your breathing strenuous, as though your lungs were crushed. You will watch the birds migrate in winter and return in spring and long to change the seasons of your life. Heartbreaks will accompany your flight into new territory. After a shaky start, you will soar and break your wing mid-flight. Your recovery will be long because you will consult with doctors who do not understand how to mend your wing until you finally realise that you have power to grow a new wing. You will no longer fear heartbreak because you will know the rhythm of your heart and where its broken pieces fit.

Only then will you control the thermostat of your happiness. You will fall in love again but this time with yourself and revel in the wonder of who you are. You will stop parroting and start speaking your own words, a talking bird no less, ha! One day you will share your journal with your world and their acceptance will be the impetus to share it with the world. On your saddest days, you will write, not about your sorrow or pain, but about things that make people laugh and share in their laughter. This is how your words will dry your tears.

You will enjoy goodwill and people will help you along the way, only, you must discern where one person’s help stops and another begins. You will burn bridges at first because although you were taught the earth is spherical, you were not taught that life is a circle and a 4 x 100 takes lesser time than a 400m race.  If you find yourself in the ring alone or without help or friends, it will be your choice; someone somewhere will always be in your corner.

You will get to your Promised Land if you don’t hedge against making mistakes so much so that you live on the fringes of life, chauffeured in and out of existence by your fears. Your mistakes are semi-colons, you can write an independent clause after the pause. If you do this, you’ll see that nothing is wasted. Although you will not work for the World Bank, you will affect people all over the world, because words too are legal tender.

 

If you had to write a letter to yourself in hindsight, what would you say?

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2014

Image credits: http://pixabay.com/en/legs-all-star-converse-casual-feet-407196/

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Hunter Games

Huntress

Once upon a time in faraway Heindenlily, Princess Amera decided that she would go to the Wise One to help her find love.

She pulled the reins so her horse could gallop faster as she left the palace gates behind. Sandwiched between her bodyguards, she felt as if palace life had shielded her. And from what? Foolish princes like Prince Olmeri of Findolgun who’d stuttered when he came for her hand until he all but swallowed his tongue, and the king’s physician had to revive him. Still blue in the face, he’d tried to stutter an apology, but she shushed him by putting her index finger to his lips. What utter nonsense! She would find love on her terms.

When her guards dismounted to cut low-lying branches, paving a way in the forest, she saw how long their shadows were. She had not noticed the sun receding behind the hills of Allaymin. She shivered and drew her cape tighter. In front, the oak trunks leaned in as if to touch them and then, as if to squash them. Meeting her bodyguards’ stares, she masked her fear with her smile. She marvelled that women had lain passive as though waiting for pollen from bumblebees, for years and years. The wind was variable too. Nectar had lost its edge, and the driver’s seat was vacant.

“Fair princess!”

Her bodyguards bumped into one another and struggled to quieten their horses. Princess Amera gasped as the trail widened to reveal a moss-covered hut. The Wise One beckoned to her from the entrance. The rumours were true. His white beard swept the ground like the dust brushes her chamber maidens used to attack cobwebs.

Inside the hut, babies’ skulls lined the walls. He pulled one, dropped something inside it, and offered it to her. Her hands trembled as she collected the skull. The thing inside smelt like cow dung and tasted like honey, so she did not chew.

“So you are tired of waiting for him?”

He did not wait for her answer.

“Choice is a rudder without hindsight. A thing to be desired and yet a thing to be feared,” his voice boomed, and the walls became mirrors.

She smiled when she saw perfection.

“That one,” she pointed.

“The moon will cross Orynimmel Kingdom tonight and tomorrow. You will have one chance.”

He leaned forward, and his beard nicked a bit of the flame from the huge candle on the centre of the table. A quick glow and then fading embers, as the light died in his shaggy bush. He pulled a bow and arrow from under the table and handed it to her.

“Shoot with all your might, and he will be yours.”

“B . . . but . . . what if he doesn’t want me?”

“Isn’t that why you are going after him? To show him what he wants? Sssh, sleep now, in the morning it will all make sense.”

The next morning, she washed her face with the washcloth Wise One gave her. She looked in the stream. He was right. She was even more beautiful. When she turned to hand over the washcloth, the hut had disappeared. Her bodyguards stood at attention as they waited for her.

“Yee haw!” she cried and mounted her horse.

As they journeyed, the oak trunks leaned backwards, making space, so they could ride in an A-formation. Daylight pushed through the mist shrouding the hills of Allaymin. She saw him first as they rounded a bend. The sun’s rays filtering through the long necks of oak trees, circled him like a spotlight. Her horse neighed testing her indecision. Why was he alone?

“Fair princess,” he bowed.

“Prince Zonaltera of Luxamdola.”

She dismounted, clutching her bow and arrow in her right hand.

“Going hunting?”

He smiled at her and then turned to his horses, grooming their manes.

She sat on the grass. Dewy anemones and bluebells teased her ankles. She waited and waited until the sun rose to the middle of the sky.

You will have one chance . . .

“Do you like me?”

“Yes,” turning to face her, he said, “what’s not to like?”

“Then,” she cocked her head, “why have you not asked for my hand?”

“I don’t know. I . . . I have been distracted.”

“I see . . . grooming your horses . . .”

She stood, raised her bow and arrow, and aimed at his heart. He ducked and then ran deeper into the forest. Her hair danced in the wind as she pursued. Darting and ducking, brown trunks and green leaves embraced them in a fuzzy camouflage. The ground sucked their footfalls as squirrels and weasels skipped away.

“Stop!”

She spun around and around ears on alert. A creeping vine curled around his left sleeve, pinning him to the spot. He placed his free hand on his knee as he sucked in air, turning red. Overhead, jackdaws abandoned their nest holes and flew away, unamused by the lovers’ game.

“Please,” he said, twisting this way and that, “if you chase me, you will catch me.”

A thrill she had not known before made her skin tingle and her pupils dilate; she tasted power.

“I’m tired of hunting. The prey you want gets away too many times.”

He pulled his hand free, ripping his sleeve and sending tiny leaves in the air.

“Perhaps you lack skill.”

“Sometimes the prey runs too fast and then too slow, confusing your aim. Hunting can be exhausting!”

He sunk to the ground, massaging his arm.

“Wimp!” she scoffed. “I know what I want.”

She raised her bow.

“Wait, wait! How will you know I really want you, if you trap me?”

“Do you want me?”

“Yes . . . but give me a chance to—”

She raised her bow and released the arrow into his heart. Then she left him there for the magic to do its work. One month later, they were married. Her happiness was a rainbow that all came to behold and point at. Ten months after, he began to shrink. Smaller and smaller, smaller than a stump in the ground.

“What is happening?”

Her tears could no longer hide behind her eyes, which were twin mirrors through which he saw not only himself but also how she saw him. He longed to lick her tears, but she no longer ached for him, letting his name escape from her lips, softly, softly, softly. He began to cry too.

“Evolution?”

“I tried to warn you.”

“If we were born a thousand years from today, it would no longer matter who hunted and who got caught. If we could time travel . . .  I mean, what kind of woman loses a slipper at midnight and doesn’t go back to find it before one idiot consigns it to the lost-and-found dump?”

She carried her frog and placed him on the golden pouch on her nightstand. She missed the strength of his arms.

In the distance, the stars twinkled over the hills of Allaymin. The moon would cross Orynimmel Kingdom tomorrow night and next. She still had the bow and arrow.

You will have one chance.

Time had snatched her rainbow, but nirvana was still within reach.

“Good night my love.”

“Croak, croak, croak,” he replied.

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2014

 

Image credits: http://www.disney.co.uk/brave/downloads/?d=downloads-merida

 

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.