An Anatomy of a Farewell

 

How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.

There was no perfect time to begin Livelytwist. Four years ago, I did not have all the answers I needed to start a weekly blog. Chief among them being whether I could sustain the tempo—whether I could produce writing that would entertain, inform, inspire, or provoke thought, week after week. In Six Degrees of Separation and Other Stories, I bare my soul.

I started this blog with grit, a little knowledge, some research, plenty goodwill, confidence, trepidation, and a two-month content calendar.

The question that I am frequently asked after I introduce myself as a blogger, after, what do you blog about, is: do you monetize your blog? The question is not always direct. Sometimes, it is cloaked as queries about ad revenue or sponsored content.

In his book Outliers, The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell says that hard work is a prison sentence only if it does not have meaning. Monetizing Livelytwist was never my primary focus. I just did what I love with dedication and excellence, which are hallmarks of everything I set to do.

The result is a resume I can present anywhere.

  • Produced over 200 articles with quality content.
  • Displayed my range with a rich landscape of varied writing: creative non-fiction, short fiction, op-eds, reportage, memoirs, and personal essays.
  • Highlighted my range by tackling topics from the mundane and comical to the serious, made relevant because of the underlying message(s).
  • Synthesized and delivered local content to international audiences. 
  • Facilitated and sustained online engagement with heterogeneous crowds via the comment section.
  • Identified, managed, and promoted (new) writing talent.
  • Discovered and negotiated new business through engagement on other platforms.
  • Harnessed marketing opportunities by collaborating with others and leveraging their social networks to reach new audiences.
  • Developed and managed diverse teams by initiating several writing collaborations.
  • Received 100,000* blog hits on livelytwist.com through organic growth. 

However, the emails and conversations that attest to the fact that I lit other candles remain my greatest treasures. All because I dared to ignore the butterflies in my stomach and move in the direction that my heart was tugging me to go.

. . . this gift that chose me, feels like a solemn trust, like a platform to do my life’s work. When you read something and say it inspires you to do life better, I let my tears fall where they will. –Timi Yeseibo

Someone said that it is not that life is too short but that we take too long to begin. I concur. People now ask me, “So you’re gonna stop blogging, what next?”

Four years ago, I could at least define what I was beginning, a blog. Now, it isn’t easy to articulate my next steps. This is what I know for sure. Whatever follows will involve me writing in some form. I now know that when you identify your gift, develop it, and use it to serve others, you will inspire others to do the same.

I once read that sometimes when it seems as though things are falling apart, they are actually coming together. In hindsight, it was true four years ago when my life took a difficult turn. I believe it to be true now.

©Timi Yeseibo 2017

P.s. April marked four years of blogging at Livelytwist, a success story that has you, dear reader, by my side. It is now time for new adventures and to stop blogging. I first wrote about it here. I’ll write some more in the coming weeks and then I’ll stop.

  1. Gladwell, Malcom, Outliers, The Story of Success, (London: Penguin Books, 2009), 175
  2. Not quite 100,000 hits . . . yet.

Photo credit: https://pixabay.com/en/child-beautiful-model-little-cute-920131/
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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Licking Dry River Beds and Flying Trapeze

“What are you afraid of?” He asked.

“Nothing,” I replied, shaking my head as if that would make it true.

I did not think I was afraid. I tried to explain the sense I had, which had nagged me for months, that I was on the threshold of something new. I bolstered my explanation by rambling about the diminishing passion I had for my blog; yes, yes, yes, disciplined focus had kept me going, bla, bla, bla, but . . .  Was it the move or the upheavals or the new responsibilities? What had sucked zest from me, as when the bath plug is lifted, soapsuds disappear suddenly, vooom, down the drain?

If you are like me, you ramble about events—a pause here, a recollection there, an unrelated trivia woven in the mix—walking through the maze that is your life, to make sense of your journey and to ensure you are not speeding away from the, as yet, unspecified destination.

My friends are patient listeners, facilitating my journey with subtle signals from the control tower, never attempting to pilot my plane. My conclusions can only be authentically mine, if I arrive at them by myself.

“Hmmm, so are you licking dry river beds then?”

We laughed at his allusion to the story of a prophet called Elijah. I had heard him tell it more than once.

Elijah was a prophet who once called down fire down from heaven. During a famine, ravens brought him food, and he drank water from a brook. Then one day, the brook dried up because it hadn’t rained in ages. The way my friend tells it, Elijah had a few choices. He could remain at the brook, licking up every last molecule of water from the riverbed because he had been divinely sent there. He could even attempt to command water to gush, geyser-style from the riverbed; after all, he wielded power. Or, he could open his heart to embrace something new.

My friend was asking me if I had become stuck in my comfort and safety zone.

“You know that when Elijah left the brook, he went on to provide food for not only himself but also a widow and her son. That’s greater relevance and impact,” he continued.

I nodded. “Yeah, yeah . . .”

“So what are you afraid of?”

“Em . . . Elijah knew exactly where to go next. I’m not so sure. I stop my blog, then what? Twiddle my thumbs?”

“You can never be idle, Timi.”

“True, but you see what I’m saying . . . right?”

“Have you ever watched trapeze artists?”

“Acrobats? At a circus? Sure. They’re graceful, beautiful to watch.”

“They have to leave one bar then swing in the air to catch another. So imagine this . . . a trapeze artist . . . he’s holding this bar,” my friend clenched his fist. “As long as he’s holding it, he can’t swing and catch the new one—”

“I see it!”

Now, it was his turn to nod.

I was like a trapeze artist holding one bar with one hand while reaching for another with the other hand. I looked ungainly. My balance was suspect. I was likely to fall. Trapeze artists have more faith that they will catch the new bar than faith that they will fall.

“Wait wait wait. But don’t they have a mattress or spring board underneath? Aren’t they legally required to have some security? Hmmm, let me google it . . .”

He smiled; perhaps at the way my mind works.

“But you have security Timi. You’ve always had security.”

If you fall, I’ll be there. – Floor  🙂

P.s. 1. This is what I googled instead:

P.s. 2. April marked four years of blogging at Livelytwist, a success story that has you, dear reader, by my side. Now it’s time for new adventures and to stop  blogging. I’ll be writing about this in the weeks to come.

©Timi Yeseibo 2017

Photo Credit: https://web.facebook.com/bizzarreart/photos/a.262015740857231.1073741828.262003347525137/439234606468676/?type=3&theater

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.

Setting Forth at Dawn

L I G H T H O U S E

 

The first appearance of light in the sky before sunrise is called dawn. The forecast says sunny day; the clouds are undecided. One passenger is standing in the middle of the bus that rides past me and the rows of empty seats around him make alone seem like loneliness. The air is crisp and breathing is bliss, interrupted occasionally by the draft from the black garbage bags left on the pavement the night before. It will be at least two hours before the garbage trucks arrive. The thumpthump of my footfalls and swishswish of my sports jacket provide comfort and company. Although every joint protests and reminds me of how old I am, I jog because spring is here.

Like writing, jogging requires discipline and perseverance for results to show. If I work hard now, my dresses will flatter me in summer. After reading one of my blog posts, someone commented that writers lead very interesting lives. Hmmm, if they are anything like me, they do not, not by a long shot, not by most people’s standards anyway. Wise writers know: I am not, in and of myself, interesting to a reader. If I want to seem interesting, work has to be done in order to make myself interesting.

Four hundred metres into my jog, my body submits to my will and my mind takes over. I dissect my life, paring flesh from bone, rolling things over this way and that. Then, I tell myself the truth, crying, laughing, hoping, praying. I run through an article in my head, dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s. Satisfied, I think about what to write today, tomorrow, next week, next year and with whom I may write it. In the newness of day, untainted by doubt, every idea seems plausible, even past mistakes, redeemable.

Ideas are running over me thick and fast. I don’t jog with pen and paper, phone, or voice recorder because the temptation to stop and write would be unbearable. I have learnt to park beautiful sentences in my brain and trust that memory would reward my fidelity. Moreover, to pause would force me to rationalize and logic would provoke miscarriage or stillbirth. It’s been said that all readers come to fiction as willing accomplices to your lies.  It is easy for me to tell lies before the sun comes out.

As I turn around the corner, a new Indian restaurant reminds me of curries and naan bread, and my stomach rumbles. “Too early,” I mumble. Further down boats dot the harbour like swans. In summer, sailors will wave from boat decks and people lounging on rattan chairs in waterfront restaurants will raise beer glasses in return. Ahead a dozen men with buckets, rods, lines, and hooks, queue to board a boat sporting the signs sport vissen and rond vaarten. Such is the allure of the sea at dawn.

In the end, I quit two kilometres short of my goal, but it doesn’t matter. I jog to not only make the numbers on the scale decrease, but also for these moments of lucidity where I dethrone my giants before I face them.

Before the sun rouses
Ideas play hopscotch in my head
Flushing sleep from my eyes

What do you do or where do you go to find clarity? Are you a morning person or an owl?

 

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2015

 

Photo credit: Unsplash/ http://pixabay.com/en/pier-dock-quay-ocean-sea-calm-336717/

 

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.

 

 

WordPress 102… No Pressure

woman biting nails with anxiety

It’s the night before the public launch of my blog. Bright lights cause me to blink. Hear me talking; you’d think I’m a superstar. I am, at least my mum thinks so. I’m sure your mum thinks you’re a superstar too. I’m standing in front of the mirror chanting, “No pressure Timi, no pressure. You are a high achiever who leverages her skills to increase the company’s bottom line. You can do this girl!” Okay, I’m not standing in front of my mirror literally. It just felt good to write it.

Pep talks, I seem to be giving myself a lot these days. To grow is to expand and if all we do is what we know, we’d never grow. Challenges stretch us to use what we have, discover what we didn’t know we had, and invent what we don’t have. A challenge can be our invitation card to opportunity. Livelytwist is where I discover if the sky has limits and what lies beyond it.

I don’t know anyone who has never been insecure. Does that make us weak or does that make us human? I think about an incident many years ago in primary school. I was one of the honour students. My class was to stage a play and our teacher was casting for parts. She called me upstage to take the leading lady’s role.

I trembled as I made my way to the front of the class, hitting my thigh against a desk on the way. I collected the script from her and faced the class. Twenty-four pairs of eyes looked on. I focused on the first line of the script. I swallowed. Twenty-four pairs of eyes looked on. It didn’t help that the leading man who stood across from me, was a chubby boy that I had a childish crush on.

When twenty-four lips parted in laughter, I managed to maintain a semblance of dignity. My teacher walked up to me.

“Come on Timi, read it.”

I found my voice at last.

“I can’t.”

I cannot adequately describe the disappointment in her eyes. It was worse than the laughter that crisscrossed the room, which rose to a crescendo and then fell to a hush before rising again to an invisible conductor’s baton. Was she disappointed because she had misjudged the capabilities of her top student? She tried to mask the annoyance and impatience in her voice when she asked me to return to my seat, but I heard it. I felt it. Shame trailed me as I limped to my seat. Once there, I did not cry. I don’t know why I did not cry. I was supposed to cry.

Fast forward thirty years later, and I can talk in front of almost any crowd. I cannot remember when last my mouth locked like the jaws of a spanner.

That’s what I’m thinking of as questions scream in my head—will people read my blog? Will they like it? Can I sustain it? What if I can’t write a post week after week? However, knowing that I’ve overcome past challenges silences the questions. I know that fast forward a few months, I’ll still be writing and you’ll still be reading.

No pressure Timi, no pressure.

© Timi Yeseibo 2013

Photo credit: Fear-filled woman biting her nails with anxiety by Microsoft

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.

WordPress 101

wordpress 101 (2)

So, I listened. Isn’t that what democracy is all about—a blog of the people, by the people, and for the people? I googled, how to start a blog. WordPress. It seemed easy enough.

First, I had to choose a name for my blog. You know how when you want to set up an email account, you choose a username, then a few seconds later you’re told it’s already taken? Well that’s what happened to me for forty-five minutes. What can I say? I am a late bloomer. I mean, like everyone was on Facebook before me. My sister convinced me to join. For a long time I had only two friends, my sister and my other sister. What did it matter, I was on Facebook. Phew! I ticked it off my list of things to do in 2008.

Thursday night, I burnt the midnight oil. The result? My sister said, “Don’t worry, it’s content that counts; I’ve seen worse. Huh? As if she doesn’t know me. Come Friday, I slugged away again—nothing but the best for you my readers.

I typed the name of my blog in a fancy font. I am a graphic designer wannabe. When my mum stopped my art classes and encouraged me to study something serious, I followed in my dad’s footsteps. I studied economics and worked in a bank. I liked the upfront salary payment in January, but when they told me to bring  N600 million deposit… well let’s just say I wished I had continued with my art classes!

Where was I? Right, the fonts. I chose this cool font and saw the preview. Brilliant I thought. Then I saw the message that lets you know if it’s too good to be true, it probably is:

“This font is part of a custom design. Upgrade now for $30 and make your blog look and feel the way you want.” (My paraphrase)

I’ll be passing my offering plate y’all. Thirty dollars; did I wake up to write this post because of $30? Yes and no. Listen, when I began, I was told it was free. These hidden charges, they come and bite you when you least expect it. The true cost of buying that cheap product is the amount you will spend on maintenance later. Keep reading because the offering plate will get to you. After all, WordPress developers have to eat.

I’m still busy slugging away at the computer and reading WordPress tutorials. I can’t complain. In my résumé, I say I’m a life-long learner who enjoys surmounting challenges. I can see how all this will look when I rewrite my résumé:

A high achiever who leverages her skills to increase the company’s bottom line

2013 – set up WordPress blog independently

Abi, you wan try?

Okay, you’ve been reading and wondering when you’ll get to the funny part, smiling a little as you read along, but frowning and quickly skipping past the offering bit. You were scrolling down the news feed on Facebook and your face lit up when you saw my post. Like seriously, you don’t expect me to be funny all the time? Is my name Ali Baba? Please put your offering in the offering plate jo!

I won’t bother you with the $99 for further customization or the $18 yearly fee to secure my domain name. Forget that I even mentioned the $30. This is all I ask, put your energy where your mouth was when you nudged me to start this blog. Copy your wonderful comments from Facebook and paste them here. Then ask your mother, father, sister, brother, and dog to leave a comment. And oh, all of you should follow the blog. Amen.

You know, I may not have taken the plunge if you didn’t push. I thank you for your support and encouragement.

©Timi Yeseibo 2013

Photo credit: Man wearing glasses with confused look on his face by Microsoft

Word cloud: Tagxedo

Image design: © Timi Yeseibo 2013

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.

In the Beginning, God Created Nigeria

Lagos Nigeria 1

The threat of malaria, the gravity of the AIDS crisis, the restiveness of youths in the Niger Delta, religious and ethnic violence, corruption and the political class, and the collapse of basic infrastructure; these are some of the challenges that hamper Nigeria’s bold strides to rub shoulders with the league of developed nations. Headlines lament this deplorable state and street talk is awash with such stories.

While some of these concerns are interspersed in this blog, their attendant remedies are not always the primary focus. In this blog, I chronicle the struggles, adjustments, acceptance, and denial of a returnee trying to resettle in Nigeria.  In short, my life the way it hit me when I first arrived.

I grew up in Nigeria during the seventies oil boom, the middle child of a middle class family. I had a happy and sheltered childhood. Idyllic days were spent being chauffeured to and from school, and special evenings were reserved for watching Mickey Mouse on the giant screen at the country club. Life was good. The concept of a malnourished child, a picture that is synonymous with suffering in Africa, was foreign to me. I never saw that kind of child.

The early eighties was a period of rising prosperity for my family. We moved to a bigger house that had a large compound for our growing fleet of cars. Even today, these possessions remain indices of wealth in our country. However, by the nineties, galloping inflation caught up with my family. As our purchasing power dwindled, so did our fleet of cars. My siblings and I got jobs and joined the masses hustling for a living in the big cities of a Nigeria different from the one we grew up in.

2000 heralded a new dawn and I moved abroad. I took in another culture the way one chews on a new delicacy—cautiously at first and then voraciously as the sensory nerves on the taste buds heighten pleasure. Sojourning for nearly a decade, I grew to appreciate a system that seemed to work. Despite this, my fit was usually in question as if I was a hastily sewn fringe to a perfect garment.

Returning home, I was caught in a world that I could not fully define. Sometimes I embraced life in Nigeria and other times I rebuffed her advances. Here I was in the country I loved, with the people I missed, I was not a foreigner, but I was no longer as Nigerian as I used to be. This was my country, I understood the culture, I knew how the system worked, or did I?

I am not alone. Returnees deal with paradoxical feelings for their native country and the ugly or beautiful realities of global capitalism in their host country regularly. Children born in the diaspora experience varying degrees of curiosity for the land their parents moan about. Exile literature captures the passion, ambivalence, grandiose notions of the homeland, and disenchantment with their new society that those who left feel.

Consider an excerpt from David Diop’s Africa:

Africa my Africa
Africa of proud warriors in ancestral savannahs
Africa of whom my grandmother sings
On the banks of the distant river

I have never known you
But your blood flows in my veins …

An excerpt from Tanure Ojaide’s Immigrant Voice in When it No Longer Matters Where You Live,1 captures the conflicting cultural identity and world view of people scattered in the diaspora.

America na big photo-trick to me.

If say big thief no boku fo home

And they no give man chance to live softly,

America no be place to live for one whole day.

The streets de explode kpa-a like Biafra,

Dead body no de fear anybody:

You no know whether the person saying “Hi”

Want to shoot, rob or rape you.

Neighbour no de, friend no de except them dog.

You de for your own like craze-man de pursue dollar

Which no de stay for your hand – they say na capitalism

When dollar the circulate, circulate without rest.

…beggar, thief, poor poor, all dem de boku

sometimes I cry my eyes red for night in bed

Wetin my eye don see for here pass pepper

It is true that the Nigerian landscape offers many reasons for sober contemplation, but within the dim picture, I found moments of patriotic pride, quiet amusement, and downright hilarity.  Glimpses of our heydays managed to peek through ominous clouds, an indication that lost causes can be found.

I hope that as I take a poke at some of the unique challenges and joys of living in Lagos, Nigeria, my stories will tinkle your sensibilities and resonate with everyone—those who work tirelessly to keep Nigeria afloat and those who have come back home to make their mark.

It is also my desire that friends of Nigeria all over the globe can commiserate with us as we continue to take wobbly steps towards mature nationhood. Nigeria: the future is still pregnant …

©Timi Yeseibo 2013

1. Ojaide, Tanure, When It No Longer Matters Where You Live (Calabar: University of Calabar Press, 1999). http://www.tanureojaide.com/poetry.htm

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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.