15 Mar 2018

ABOVE ALL ELSE...


Until December 2016, I wouldn't have understood the meaning of the above proverb. I didn't know how to guard my precious heart. The saying goes time is the best healer. But after years nothing was changing, in fact I was beginning to give up on people. I loved hard, did things for others without expectations. Yet, I held tightly to past wrong doings I've made to others and vice versa.

Then I opened the door of my heart to Christ. The coldness my heart was subjected to, for years, started to thaw. Since then, after so many years holding onto things, I started allow God to have His way in my life, my heart.

I'm not perfect but I see God at work in me.

Now, I feel awake and I know that Lord created me with a passionate heart for a good purpose. He has good things planned for it and I don't need to hold onto past mistakes. I see the meaning of the cross, I have everything that was holding me down nailed to the cross and I want to pick it up and follow Jesus. He asked me to forgive people as He has already done to my past mistakes. He wants goodness for me, just as a mother I want my children to guard their heart, so my Heavenly Father wants me, you and everyone to guard our heart.

Love deeply, forgive quickly and let go of past mistakes, you are forgiven as soon as you believe the sacrifice Jesus did for our love.



Dear children, your heart is pure like crystal water on a sunny morning. Let's your Creator hold onto it with His love, don't allow the world to turn it into an ice.

I pray for each and everyone of you, may God thaw your heart like ice on candle.

I know Jesus is alive because since I said yes to Him I have feel him breathing in me, turning my icy heart into a puddle.

9 Mar 2018

MONTHLY LESSONS: FEBRUARY

February I started reading PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE, a book that helps Christians discover their purpose driven life. It's a book my sister suggested we explore and study together with other ladies that are the same faith journey as us. It's not a self-help book.

This book confirmed how God has revealed so many things He has in store for me to me. God wants to have a relationship with each one of us because it's through the Holy Spirit that He talks to us. H reveals what He created us to do, our purpose.

Focusing on our ourselves will never reveal our life purpose. I must begin with God, He's our creator and it's only in Him that we find our purpose, our identity, our meaning. Being successful and fulfilling our life's purpose are not the same. You could reach your personal goals, becoming a raving success by the world's standards and still miss the purpose for which God created you. Self-help books speculate about the meaning of life, but there is an alternative to speculation to the meaning of life: revelation.

We went to Cornwall one weekend. It was pouring with rain but we had fun visit Poldak mine and walking to the southern point of UK.

SOME MONTHLY STILLS, HOPEFULLY THEY GIVE YOU GLIMPSES OF FEBRUARY







 







20 Feb 2018

BEIJING: TOFFEE COATED APPLES


As I contemplated how to share our experience in China and Ghana, the smell of freshly baked honey coated flapjack in the kitchen took me right back at the entrance of the Student Supermarket, the first afternoon of our arrival in Beijing. The smell triggered the words.

I can still see a carefully displayed mini toffee coated apple kebabs on the right hand side, the smell welcoming the ocean of students that flood the store soon after lessons or after their evening shower.

But before that moment in the store let's me recount our arrival in Beijing Airport around 2pm, after one hour delay at Heathrow airport. British Airways always delays, eh?

We were greeted by two, maybe surprised to see a black woman with the professor, very polite and kind students, a young man XY and woman ZY. They were assigned to AMI to assist him during his two weeks teaching at Beijing Normal University, to make the experience painless as possible because many student don't speak English and the professor doesn't speak Mandarin.

We greeted each other. Y and X's warm smile made us feel very at ease and welcomed. AOI was shy as usual as when she first meet new people. TOI was taking everything in, his brown eyes wide open to the greatness that is Beijing airport. When planning this trip he was the one I worried about the most because of his three years old self, who doesn't like eating very adventurously but he was genuinely excited to be in China (even now most days he tells me he wants to go back).


The taxi they rented for the afternoon was waiting for us in the parking lot at the bottom of the airport. We were so grateful for all the planning the university did for us. It felt so easy to travel in that way. Before our trip to Beijing I had the pleasure to meet with Erica at thatwhildroad in London, she lives in Shanghai, she suggested I download the google translate app, which is so useful. However Mandarin has four tones and what you may think you are saying might mean something extremely different, so on our first day the language barrier was taken off the plate with the help of XY and ZY.

They helped us check into our hotel. We said our Nǐ hǎo and went into our room. In the hotel there were signs telling people not to smoke however, as I learnt during the weeks, rules are there to be broken by some guests. We walked into the room and the sudden smell of cigarette that seeped from the wall and carpet reminded me of a 1980s Italian movie set in a Roman hotel full of smokers.

The view from the hotel was incredible though. The first afternoon it gave me a quick glimpse of Beijing but as the days went by I started to notice some of the hidden gems that as a visitor, looking at a treasure book, you never notice until you begin to give time to the city to reveal its secrets. That secret that will pull you back again for another look, so you leave the place wanting to go back to find out more.



That afternoon we set our suitcases on the side and went to have a quick lunch with XY, ZY joined by the latter's fiancee and the professor in charge of this collaboration between AMI university in Canada and BNU. A beautiful fair skinned Chinese woman with delicate mannerism. She looks like a movie star to me. I imagined her minimalist lifestyle, a cat owner, single, without children. Her main love is her work. But that's my imagination because apart from telling us that she doesn't have children, and partner and that her parents are from southern part of China, I didn't get to know her much.

After lunch we went to the student supermarket for the first time. It's right on campus about ten lazy minutes walk from the hotel. As soon as we walked in AOI pulled herself onto one side, her hand on her nose. She refused to enter. I could imagine but I still asked her why?

"I don't like the smell."

"You will get used to it. It's strong because this is the first time you're experiencing it. You will get use to it." The smell was that delicious toffee coated apples at the entrance of the supermarket. Now, it's the same smell that trigger the memory of our first afternoon in Beijing.

In this photo little boy is pretending to be a lost bunny and I just found him.
When I travel what attracts me the most is observing how the locals live. I can't understand Chinese so I wasn't going to be my usual adventurous lady and go within the inner city to find out how the locals live but when one has passion the stars align for her. So I found myself living on campus. It was amazing experience observing how the students live, how they get their letters and parcels was find blowing. So this fun rickshaw that reminded me of the Ciao (the little electric car in Italy for the old people) needed to be photographed (by my AOI) because it's one way to get posts delivered (so grateful for these little travellers of mine, I hope they retain the same love and passion I have for discovering different cultures and countries).


The smell of toffee coated apples takes me back to Beijing Normal University campus life. The student life that you won't read nowhere in guide books are bright as the colours that adorn the place. The stream of students walking the back alley that leads to the shower rooms, even in Beijing autumn cold evenings, the freshly showered people in their pajamas that stream into the student supermarket were so alien to me that first few days but right now are part of the beautiful memories we had as a family in Beijing. Couple of evenings I ventured on campus alone with the children as AMI was teaching.

My mini two travellers enjoyed the bright Chinese billboards on campus and after each dinner in the canteen they stopped to look at the moving images. With the privilege to live on campus we mingled with students like real locals.






The similarity between the lifestyle in Italy and Ghana are all other stories to be written. Until then these are some photos that will tickle your travel bug.







11 Feb 2018

THE SEA





These morning walks give me the chance to clear my mind. To reflect on events, it inspire me to start from wherever my memory takes me to. To start telling the story but I'm still tongue tight so I wait, patiently way, like the tide when it goes for the day.

We all know it returns.

9 Feb 2018

FILM: SOMETHING NEW

Limiting oneself from dating another person from a different race and cultural background due to people's point of view is well depicted in Something New. This is a 2006 film about mixed race love relation in the United State. From wikipedia:

Kenya McQueen (Sanaa Lathan) is a successful, single African American woman who has sacrificed romance in order to pursue a career as a corporate attorney. Her obsessive compulsive desire for perfection and control has manifested itself in the bland, monochromatic decor of her new home and the rigid rules she follows in her personal life. Urged to loosen up by her friends, Kenya accepts a blind date with landscape architect Brian Kelly (Simon Baker) arranged by her co-worker Leah Cahan (Katharine Towne), who is in the process of planning the kind of wedding Kenya wants herself. The two meet at Starbucks, and she is disturbed to discover Brian is white, so she quickly excuses herself and leaves.

The two unexpectedly meet again at a party at Leah's parents' home, where Brian landscaped the grounds. Impressed with his work, Kenya decides to hire him to renovate her unkempt backyard garden. As time passes, their employer-employee relationship evolves into a friendship and then love.

Although Brian is helping her feel more comfortable about her living environment, Kenya finds it difficult to dismiss her reservations about their romance. The opinions of her girlfriends Cheryl (Wendy Raquel Robinson), Nedra (Taraji P. Henson), and Suzette (Golden Brooks), her upper class parents Joyce (Alfre Woodard) and Edmond (Earl Billings), and her womanizing younger brother Nelson (Donald Faison) begin to have a deleterious effect and Brian's unwillingness to discuss issues of color drives them apart.

Nelson introduces his sister to someone she views as a more acceptable suitor, tax attorney Mark Harper (Blair Underwood), who has just relocated to Los Angeles. The two begin to date, and while Joyce thoroughly approves, Edmond senses his daughter is not as happy as she was with Brian. Everything Kenya thought she wanted suddenly seems immaterial, and nothing Mark does ignites a spark between them. When the dissonance she’s developed finally overwhelms her, Kenya chooses to reunite with Brian, no longer allowing her controlling nature and social norms to dictate matters of the heart.
When I watched the movie for the first time I felt in love with it.

Although on one hand I didn't relate to Kenya because when I met my husband I was young enough to not think I can't love him because he is White and I am Black, I loved him for his personality and he is sincerity and never thought about his colour. He returned my love for who I am. We didn't let colour condition our relationship or us...

On the other hand, I can relate to Kenya because like her, sometimes I feel like I need to talk about colour issues in our relationship but at the same time I don't want to allow this kind of discussion to destroy something beautiful like our love. People will always have an opinion about us but we can stand strong against their preconceived ideas if we believe in the same values in life.

QUESTIONS:

Does colour define people? Have you ever watched the movie Something New? If you are in a mixed relationship: have people ever questioned your identity or discriminated against you? How do/would you let your children embrace their multi culture?




7 Feb 2018

ON PHOTOGRAPHY: HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR PHONE PHOTOGRAPHY SKILLS



One of the best features of smart phones has always been having a camera at your finger tips. But as much as I love photography I never considered it a proper way to document our lives, so much that I was focused on getting a big camera as soon as I arrived in Canada.

My photos improved in quality but I was convinced that a bigger (powerful) camera would take my photography to the level I wanted. So before the birth of my second child I upgraded to a full frame. Financially it was a big commitment but I took the jump and bought one. I practiced in auto by capturing some photos of my pregnant belly, my daughter, husband and few friends.

When baby number two was born, I felt overwhelmed with excitement and wanted to shout to the whole wide world. I wanted to document every little detail and breath in my sweet baby boy. With my body still trembling from the birth I couldn't carry the big camera with me everywhere so I started using my camera phone more, that's why I started to use InstaGram (IG) more often.

Initially I took my photos without any technical thinking in mind, just click to click. On the third week of using IG I found a community @clickinmoms and through their daily prompt as inspiration I began to take my phone-graphy seriously more than the simple point-n-shoot I have been using it for. Instead the camera phone became a tool to improve my photography skills.

I employed few changes to up my game and share better photos on my IG account (@theodoraofosuhima), I'm still far away from being good but I think I'm getting there so I want to share what I do.

  • LIGHT
Put simply photography is the science, art and practising of creating durable images by recording the light so getting your photos to the next level you need to dedicate a big potion of the learning path to understanding light. To get the light of your choice tap on the screen, on your subject, the camera will display a yellow box around the subject with a sun icon next to it, swipe up to get more light, swipe down to get a moody feel. Natural light is a must - sometimes you have to find your favourite location and turn off the light when shooting in the day, at night use the artificial light creatively.


  • FOCUS
    This point is major because focus is the key to achieve a great shot, you can decide to capture a blurry shot but you have to do that with intent, to create a feel to the story you're trying to convey. To get a harp image, hold your finger down on the screen a little longer than usual - that helps focus on the subject before releasing. Also hold your camera still, wobbly fingers will create blurry images.


    • NEGATIVE SPACE
    Negative space is the area between and around objects in a photo. Clean background gives atheistically pleasing images, an entirely different atmosphere.


    • DIVERSE PERSPECTIVE 
    I know beauty is in the eyes of the beholder but taking only photos of our children beautiful faces can limit our photography abilities. Find different perspective, capture their tininess, their playfulness.                                            


    • IT TAKES TIME

    Take your time. I used to rush into taking photos. One thing I switched from was taking photos without any thought behind. Following the daily prompt @clickinmoms posted each week for inspiration before I shoot my subject helped me to be more creative within a short frame of time. 





    • CHALLENGE YOURSELF
    As I mentioned above I took the prompts posted by @clickinmoms and thus challenged myself to aim for better shots, never the obvious one.

    I really hope that my 2% on how to improve your photography with your iPhone or smart phone will inspire you this month to challenge your photography journey.

    QUESTION: How are you going to challenge yourself this month with your smart phone camera or iPhone? 

    Please comment and let me know what you think.
    xoxo

    6 Feb 2018

    OUR EVERYDAY LIFE: WHY {BLOG} JOURNALING IS GOOD FOR WRITERS


    Some time back I read a writer's comment saying she doesn't understand why some writers document their life. Why they waste their time sharing glimpses of their life instead using their platform to build up their readership. She said who cares about what you ate at breakfast. Instead writers should use their blog and presence online to talk about their book and writing process.

    Maybe she was right. Who cares that this morning I had the unwanted sixteen crust of my children toast. That I drunk the soya milk they refused to drink because they don't like soya milk which is strange because they drink it when they have it with cheerios, for the boy, or porridge, for the girl.

    I do, I do care.

    I do share glimpses of my life because as I get older my memory gets shorter and there was a time during this motherhood journey that felt lonely. Reading other blogs and making friendship with other women online made it less isolating. So, I would like that any other person who happens on my blog to know that there are not alone in theIR struggles. That life is worth it, and they should look at positive side of life.

    It would be lovely to read the journey of some writers mothers that I admire. I would like to know what the ate this morning or what they will prepare for dinner. How they combine the struggle and beauty of motherhood, relationship with their passion for writing. I would like to know that they are human just like me, that between diaper change and tantrum fixes, date planning, they find the space in their mind and home to write their best seller.


    If you think about it, once the books are written and they are shelved, many would know your skills but what would you leave for your children. I love preserving these tiny memories for my children, so they will know the mother not only the author or photographer. As a writer journaling keeps my mind sharp, clear. The more I write in my journals the more I want to write the stories I'm called to share with the world. Journaling triggers my creative.

    I love journaling and use my platform as a journal for the above. The more I think about the more I would encourage people to journal. Journaling is the journey to heal the soul, to get rid of toxic thoughts, to refresh. To get inspired. One doesn't have to keep a blog-journal, one can write their thoughts on a diary (which I do as well) and revisit again and again. There is always so much to discover, to see how things have evolved, how far you've come.

    Also, journaling makes me appreciate the little details about life. When I pick my journal and read some details, that I forget after many days or years away from the event, make me relive those moments and feel happy or glad for where I'm right now. I smile.




    _______________________
    05/02/2018


    I observe my daughter in her bed. She puts all her cuddly toys, she chose earlier, orderly in her bed. "Pickle goes here, Cutie you go here. Bear here." Gosh,  six year old, so little still but so getting older, someday she will not want to play with cuddly toys. I think soon she won't like to be seen near a cuddly, would it be when she is 8 or 12 years old, who knows but for now I love to see her just as my little tall six year old girl.

     I like documenting her love for school days in UK. Her love for cursive writing and lunch meals, especially custard.

    I like documenting how my little boy wakes up in the middle of night, smiling, telling me he had a very funny dream, around 3:20am. Tells me that when there is a full moon it's so bright in the sky, he says this because there is a missing curtain on one of the windows in the room.


    "This is making me hungry." He says getting out of bed. He brings the stone, the one he pretends is a skeleton skull, that he went to bed with the previous night. He comes to me, I'm sitting at the desk in his room, I've been up since 3am writing, I went to bed early as 10:30pm.
    "What is making you hungry?" I asks turning away from the laptop. We walk towards my room, Daddy fast asleep on the other side of the bed. AOI in deep sleep in her bed.
    "The moon. It makes me want to eat because it looks like cheese." I smile within. We go on my side of the bed and I cuddle him to sleep. After a while he says "I don't know what to do."
    "Try to sleep." I suggest. He starts to wail quietly.
    "What is it?" I asked kissing his forehead.
    "I want something to eat."
    "Let's go downstairs and find something for you."
    "I want cream cracker."
    "It's finished."
    "Do you want a bournon cream cookie." I say because he was pointing that direction.
    "No, I can't eat sweet at night, my super powers will go away."
    "I see." well I don't see but I guess he is the hero and I don't sleep hero terms.
    "I can have that." he points at the cheerios box. I pour some into a bowl. I add soya milk. He devours it.

    I lift him up from his sit after he finishes. He grabs his stone and together we make our way back to bed at 4am.



    31 Jan 2018

    MONTHLY LESSONS: JANUARY


    This month I learnt few lessons. I'll list five points.


    • This month taught me that I can start working on anything today rather than tomorrow. START TODAY INSTEAD OF WAITING FOR TOMORROW
    • I learnt that I should start stepping into my creative journey with more boldness because I don't have nothing to fear. Though others are already doing similar things to what I would like to contribute to I should just do it because my lifestyle is a blessing from God and to glorify His name I can share it

    • I concluded that it would be so nice to start each month with the same enthusiasm as we expect when a new year rolls in because each month is a new opportunity to do-over.

    • I also learnt that I have to let fear sit still as I drive my dreams to the finish line because passion and dreams pursued in Christ are worth pursuing for, it's the purpose I'm called to accomplish.

    • I learnt that I have to press on even when my thoughts about my purpose seem to overwhelm me because I WON'T ACCOMPLISH ANYTHING BY MY OWN  POWER BUT BY THE POWER OF OUR LORD.


    In the media Beyonce showed us the really of motherhood. That in her pursue she doesn't have hot sauce but juice box and fruity jellies. She can have all the grammys and all that bling but she just one of us when it comes to having a kid. Blue rules Bey and JZ's world.

    SOME MONTHLY STILLS, HOPEFULLY THEY GIVE YOU GLIMPSES OF JANUARY












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