Collaboration: You and Me

collaboration

Collaboration. Holistic Wayfarer showed me how it’s done by inviting me to write a blog post alongside her and Nida S., another writer. An African proverb says if you want to go quickly, go alone, if you want to go far, go together. I went farther this year, because you journeyed with me.

I overcame fear of rejection and what-ifs to approach you, virtual stranger, virtual friend. I told you that I admire your writing and I would be honoured if you shared your perspective on a series I’m doing. And when that didn’t work, I pursued you—busy you, you that hadn’t written in a while, you that was between jobs, cities, homes. Determined not to say your no for you, I ‘harassed’ you until you said, “Yes, Timi!”

From each writer, I collected kernels of truth, after you wooed and wowed me with your words. Someone noted that humility is the common thread that runs through the Learning Series. Indeed, to learn, you must first admit that you don’t know.

The Learning Series was not the only collaboration I did this year. We wrote about age, the love languages of Nigerians, and love for country. The writers took my ideas and ran as far as Australia, danced above and below the Equator, and soared to Canada; yes farther than I could go. The result? A clash of hues softened by the spaces where we glimpsed your heart.

I opine that to write an effective personal piece, vulnerability must become like meat and potatoes. The writers delivered that quality, the ability to be open and yet closed, to be known and yet not known, to lie next to someone and yet not touch. Perhaps I reread your pieces and the comments that followed, to decipher your face in the dark that I might recognize you by light. These collaborations were shared over 150 times on social media, the power of your network not mine. You took me further.

In putting your stories and mine together, my joy at editing surpassed my joy at writing. I questioned if my writing was not merely a platform to pull other writers together to present the world with an anthology, all the stories of humanity in one place. I played with this notion until I met a ‘secret’ reader at an event. The usual pleasantries segued to the question of what I do.

“What do you blog about?”

I sized him up. Nigerian. Early thirties. “Let me show you.” I navigated to, Running in the Airport. “See,” I said, letting him read from my phone, “This kind of stuff.”

“Oh, I’ve read that before, hilarious! Someone sent it to me. So you’re the one who wrote that, he asked, looking at me. “You look . . .”

“Different,” I offered, aware that the photo on my blog was taken about three years ago.

“More beautiful in person.”

The charmer. If I were doing a sweepstake on my blog, I would skew the results so he would win.

“And you sound so . . .  so . . .”

“Ordinary?” I offered again.

“Yes,” he replied, shaking his head. “After reading all that big grammar you write . . .”

Right there, his laughter clambering over mine, I began to write a blog post in my head.

Our laughter reminded me that my collaboration with readers either through the comments or in real life has also taken me further than I dreamed possible. Writing gives me visibility. It is wonderful to meet and know people beyond the page.

Happiness is transient for me, until I celebrate every phase of my journey. It is true what they say; the grass is greener on the side where it is watered. In 2014, my blog was a beautiful place to be because of you.

 

If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.
 Isaac Newton

 

©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.

 

 

Did We Do Any Learning? [5]

learning & living

The human story does not always unfold like a mathematical calculation on the principle that two and two make four. Sometimes in life they make five or minus three; and sometimes the blackboard topples down in the middle of the sum and leaves the class in disorder and the pedagogue with a black eye.  
– Winston Churchill –

 

I Tried to be a Writer

2014 is the year I tried to be a writer and most of the things that happened to me—both good and bad—are centred on this.

Failure or rejection can teach lessons that take a lifetime of success to imbibe. When I was younger, my Dad often said, “Iya o je o, o wipe o gbon; tani tisa re?” (You claim to possess wisdom without enrolling in the school of suffering. Who is your teacher?).  I scoffed at the statement’s cynicism, but now I know better.

So, the correct answer to “How are you?” is not “fine”. It is a long rambling confession to the people we love and trust, opening our hearts and hoping they’ll listen, even if they don’t have answers. There is strength in vulnerability and weakness in machismo. I became versed in the manual on being broke and having to depend on people, not only for money, but also for encouragement and advice.

2014 is the year I left safe behind. I look at the wonderful people I met and the little I’ve achieved. It would have been impossible if I had not tried to be a writer.

Ifemmanuel @ IfeOluwa’s Rambles

 

Wandering Purposefully

I have created an oxymoron: to wander purposefully. In many intervals of my life, I have often felt lost and out of place like a chicken in a lion’s pride. This year however, I made a non-committal resolution (not a fan of New Year resolutions), to take charge of my life. I thought changing academic paths would bring me peace, but life is a pot of burnt beans.

Compounding my default setting of feeling lost was the feeling that I was losing myself. I started to experience small bouts of anger and bitterness that seldom translated to fisting the wall of my bathroom and ranting expletives in my thoughts. I did however have some great winning moments this year. In those winning moments, I learnt that many people are wandering too, behind a desk job, a pulpit, a graduation gown, etc, and that it was okay to wander.

For the first time in a while, I feel as though I am on the, or perhaps, a right track. Maybe I am not lost after all; maybe I am just wandering, wandering purposefully. This is what I have learnt this year, that I can wander without losing stride or sight.

Not all those who wander are lost. –  J.R.R Tolkien

Tomi Olugbemi @ I Write to Escape

 

Savouring Memories

If I had to distil my year into one sentence, it would be that seminal Dickens’ opening in A Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.”

Of my ups and downs, losing H was the lowest of the lows. Looking back, the surprise was not that it happened but that it happened so fast, once the downturn kicked in and things began to unravel. The one lingering regret from that summer of grief remains the tenseness that characterised the final few months.

Being alike meant we were always a few sharp words away from spontaneous combustion, something we managed to avoid for the greater part. The pressure began to tell when she began to sense that the sand in her hourglass was running out, and fast. We had our biggest flare up in a long time.

We made up eventually, thankfully—that would have been far too great a burden to carry for the rest of my life—but the thought that we could have made more memories to savour, is one I haven’t quite shaken off.

Life’s lessons are neither bleeding obvious nor palatable. All we possess for sure are the moments that we share with our friends and loved ones. The challenge is to enjoy and maximise the moments, not putting off the kind word, the lingering touch, or the act of kindness we know they deserve.

AJ @ A Geek’s Life

 

 

 

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Did We Do Any Learning? [3]

learning

9 Things I’ve Re-Learned This Year

Life lessons aren’t mastered in a single bold stroke.  We learn, we practice, we forget, we remember, we re-learn. Here are a few key notes I re-learned this year:

  1. Like a bottomless well, Ego’s desire for applause, accolades, approval, acknowledgement, acclaim, awards, and recognition is never satiated.
  2. When we stroke Ego, it purrs. When we stop, it snarls.
  3. It’s silly to buy another pair of shoes because we want an Ego boost from others when they see us rocking our new ruby slippers.
  4. People want us to do what they want us to do when they want us to do it. They are affronted when we don’t.
  5. When people ask us to “be honest” . . . they don’t always mean it.
  6. In many ways, we are at the mercy of the tides. Life ebbs and flows.  Joy comes and goes.  Sorrow is hard to avoid.
  7. Even if we’re not convinced that “everything happens for a reason,” taking time to look for “silver linings” helps us deal with passing clouds.
  8. When we aren’t wedded to a set destination, we enjoy the journey (and its inevitable detours), more.
  9. If we are enjoying the journey, we win. No matter where the wind blows us.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Nrhatch @ Spirit Lights The Way 

 

Diversity and the Art of Writing

Writing has reassured me that the things we feel deeply as individuals are universal—love, rejection, angst, joy, belonging; that it’s okay to admit your vulnerabilities. It might feel scary, but it also makes you authentic. Your foibles, shame, and guilt might be someone else’s quiet truth.

People read novels autobiographically, through the lens of their life’s narrative, and their values and opinions. My heroine might be a role-model for one reader, but another reader might want to slap her. I have little control over how readers see my characters as an author, and this came as a big surprise. Most readers love my male lead, but one reader thought him a tosser (although she did reassure me she’d shag him in a heartbeat, oh dear!). Now I realise I can’t write my characters to keep everyone happy, it’s not possible. That’s okay, life isn’t a popularity contest. Besides, my characters largely write themselves.

Writing has taught me that diversity isn’t some little politically correct box to tick. Diversity abounds, it is the norm. The trick is to be open to differences and to hold back from rushing in to judge.  I attempt this by thinking my characters’ thoughts, walking in their shoes, and imagining their predicaments. Besides, wouldn’t it be boring if we were all the same?

Susan @ Susan Lattwein

Susan’s novel, Arafura – Unfinished Business, is a gritty romance with a bit of sex, dynamite, and hilarity – not always at the same time.

 

Real Men Carry Purses

Statements of fantasy can be metaphors for real life—you can live backwards and you can still learn at age 403! I once read that even if your body never aged, you’re statistically likely to die from an accident before you hit 600. See, you just learned something! I told you it was possible.

I have previously claimed on this blog that I am 403 years old, but I am far closer to 43. Although I exaggerated my age for humorous effect, one can learn after 40. And, while we can’t literally live backwards, we can become more open and tolerant, which is the opposite of what usually happens when people get older.

So I learned two things this year, both related: to respect women on a higher plane and to break free from my personal gender stereotypes. While I’ve long thought of myself as a feminist ally and viewed women as equals, that didn’t stop my subtle objectification. I was never the creepy dude, but I wasn’t the ally I thought I was, either. The journey toward being a better person is a welcome one.

With encouragement from the women in my life, I finally bought something this year I’ve wanted for ages, a purse. Why can’t a guy have a purse? It elevates the quality of life. I needed to build up my “bravery” first, which shows you how badass women are. They carry purses all the time.

Eric @ ericjohnbaker

 

 

 

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Did We Do Any Learning? [1]

Learning

Yiikes, I’m a Control Freak!

Accomplished is my word for 2014. But so is Control Freak, as I’ll learn later.

It was a fine morning in June 2013 when I sat, filling out forms in the anaesthesiologist’s office.

“Gosh, you have OCD,” he said, when I handed them back.

Puzzled, I turned to him, “Why do you say that, sir?”

“Well, you’ve filled out every detail on the form. Hmm, the people who work for you must be suffering.”

What? All that from filling out a form properly? No appreciation? Why ask for the information if it was unnecessary? I shrugged but paused, thought lingering.

 

Fast forward to November 2014.  I’m reading, Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert. I’m awed that she, thousands of miles away, can write my heart so perfectly. In the book, ‘Liz is in conversation with her friend, Richard:

“Lemme tell you something, Groceries – you got some serious control issues.

“My rage at this statement consumes me like fire. Control Issues? ME?

“…Listen, you’re a powerful woman, and you’re used to getting what you want out of life,…Life didn’t go your way for once. And nothing pisses off a control freak more than life not goin’ her way.

“You gotta learn how to let go, Groceries. Otherwise, you’re gonna make yourself sick. Never gonna have a good night’s sleep again. You’ll just toss and turn forever, beatin’ on yourself for being such a fiasco in life…How come I screw up all my relationships? Why am I such a failure?”1

I scream in my head. This is me. Has been me forever.  And so I’ve decided that my phrase for 2015 is Letting Go. Because I can’t look forward and back at the same time.

Control Freak. Letting go.

 

Ozoz @ Kitchen Butterfly
Watch her Journey by Plate, at TEDx Port Harcourt, October 2014.

 

No Stopping Me

I refuse to listen to the cynical voice sending evil messages to my brain, “You have reached your limit, just give up and maintain what you have.”

It is not possible that I cannot lose any more weight. Short of sewing up my intestines, tongue, and teeth, I have tried everything humanly and spiritually possible to lose weight.

Last Friday, I decided to give my body a treat. Off I went to a nearby gym and spa center. I asked about their services.

“Pedicure, body polish and massage, facials, tummy blast—”

“Eh Tummy blast?” Light bulbs went off in my head. “What does it entail?”

“We have a machine that rolls over the stomach, as well as a kneading wood that helps to blast the fat.”

“Wow! Really?”

“Yes ma,” the lady responded. “But you need to come in for a minimum of six sessions to see tangible results.”

 

Treatment started in earnest. The machine began its work. Years of unleavened fat would not go down without a fight. The kneading wood was applied to further flatten the pouch. Next, they tied me with cellophane and a long strip of cloth. I made Herve Leger’s bandage dress look like child’s play. Na wa, so this is what it feels like to be an Egyptian mummy?

Fifteen minutes later, I had lost about an inch! They placed me on a three-day fruit diet with lots of water and gave me aloe vera gel drink as part of a detox plan.

Although the aloe vera drink tastes like shit and my husband laments that he and the kids are the real victims of my never-ending weight loss programmes (they cannot go to the toilet after me since air fresheners and diffusers are powerless against this form of domestic terrorism), I am trudging on. Ain’t no stopping me. One down, five to go.

 

Eriye Onagoruwa is a legal practitioner. She writes satirical pieces for The Guardian.

 

A Thin Line Between Yes and No

I tend to say yes to almost everything.

I tell myself that this is due to my good nature, after all what’s so bad about trying to avoid the landmine of hurt feelings? I sometimes suspect though, that it is because I hate being told no myself. My reluctance to use the word no usually results in my being burdened and stretched with over commitments and ever-increasing responsibilities. This was a constant thread than ran through the fabric of 2014—a constantly overflowing schedule. The slender margins took a toll and gave rise to frayed nerves and a quick temper.

A person who lives with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule will ache with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul.2

I wish I had known earlier, the freedom that comes with just saying no. Saying no does not close the door on opportunities; rather it creates the opportunity to say a resounding yes to the things that do matter. Saying no is just another way of saying, “Yes!” to the important things. Lysa Terkeurst calls this our Best Yes.3

I am not one for New Year resolutions, but as 2015 peeks from behind the folds of 2014, I hear, margin. I have learnt that I need margin in my life and to achieve this, sometimes, I need to say it loud and say it clear, with a dash of understanding and empathy of course, “No!”

 

Tamkara @ naijaexpatinholland
Tamkara rocks her clogs expat style in the book, Dutched Up! with 27 other expats who share their perspectives on life in The Netherlands.

 

  1. Gilbert, Elizabeth, Eat Pray Love (Croydon: CPI Group (UK) Ltd. Books, 2007), 158 – 159.
  2. Goins, Jeff. 025: Saying Yes to the Best Things: How Do You Balance It All? [Podcast]
  3. TerKeurst Lysa, The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demand

 

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.