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My sisters share a close bond, one that I envy. Whenever I am around them – which is not often, I feel like a stranger looking on from the outside. They speak as if in codes or parables that I do not understand.

“Wait, what? What did you say?” I would ask in the middle of the conversation, looking from one sister to the other like a lost kitten.

One of them, perhaps the older one, would repeat what she had said earlier. It could be a comment or question on something as random as a TV show or book.

“Oh, okay!” I would respond, nodding and smiling, pretending to understand.

Of course, I do not understand. I do not watch the TV shows they watch and I do not read the kind of books they read. So, all I do is nod as much as I can or smile when I think I have to.

They share jokes that are lost on me, and when they laugh long and hard, hitting each other on their shoulders, I only look on in amazement.

“What? What? Share the joke!” I would say, peeling my eyes off the TV for a moment and shifting excitedly in my seat.

The other sister, would repeat the joke, laughing heartily, but I would only stare blankly, the corner of my mouth not even twitching into a smile.

They speak the same way; I have heard that we all do. With my sisters, though, it goes beyond the voice, intonation or pronunciation. They think the same way, too; the way you would if you were raised in a largely conservative home.

One is my twin sister and the other is my big sister. Yet, it feels like they are the twins, and I am the other sister just hanging on. When I am back home with them, the sisters bond over what you would call “kitchen gist” as they cook or sit idly around the kitchen table. They say that kind of gist is the sweetest, but I have no idea, as I am not there to share in the gist.

I am not sure how it makes me feel. Maybe sad, alone, or dejected. But mostly, I feel like the odd one out.

Is being the odd one out such a bad thing?

“No, it is not a bad thing. You are not a bad person for being the odd one out. The fact that you are a good person could be the reason you are the odd one out. So, no, it isn’t a bad thing,” Adetoun, a Lagos-based nutritionist, insists.

If being the odd one out is not such a bad thing, why does it sound like the worst thing that could happen to someone and why do people feel hurt about it? I’ll admit that I have felt like the odd one out around my sisters for the longest time and it has always made me feel bad. It just hurts to be that one person that is different from her sisters and cannot talk to them the same way they talk to each other.

“I guess you can say that there is a feeling of being left out that comes with being the odd one out. And just because the word “odd” sounds like a bad thing, it makes people think of it as something negative,” the nutritionist explains.

I have also thought about how being the odd one out in a group is not unconnected with odd numbers. If you think about it, you will observe that even numbers can even themselves out while odd numbers cannot. What I mean is, when there are three siblings or friends or roommates, two will be closer, no matter how close all three are. The two will share secrets that they probably will not share with the third. They will connect on a level that they might not connect on with the third. These two leave the third one out without even knowing it.

“I have two best friends. I’ll call them A and B. The three of us hang out almost all the time. When I want to talk about boys or rant about my relationship woes, I know better to call A than to call B. When I want to talk about work and work-related matters, I would much rather call B. But because I tend to talk more about my relationship woes, I am closer to A than B,” Adetoun says, in a sense buttressing my point.

In a group of even numbers – let’s say four, for instance, the situation is different. Each pair can be closer than the other pair without anyone feeling odd or left out. Now, I might be wrong, and it is not always the case, but this is often how it happens. It is the same way it happens in movies, sitcoms and TV shows. In the sitcom, ‘Friends’, you cannot help but notice that while all six are close, Joey and Phoebe are closer than the other four, Monica and Chandler are closer than the other two, and that leaves Ross and Rachel to be the couple – at least, for the most part of the show.

Do you perhaps find yourself in a group where you are the odd one out – whether it is a group of odd or even numbers? Do you feel like the odd one out, not just among friends or siblings, but in a work setting or environment, at gatherings, events, church, or some other space? How does it make you feel? Find honest advice from real people on how to deal with being the odd one out here.

Don’t see it as a bad thing – “Being the odd one out isn’t a bad thing. It just means that you are different, and different is okay.” – Nene. 31.   

It might actually be a good thing – “What if you are the odd one out because you are the one who does not gossip, the one who minds her business, the one who works the hardest? Tsk! Don’t sweat it, child. That is a good thing. Keep at it.” – Chioma. 36.

Stop trying to fit in – “Well, because you cannot; that’s why you should not even try. If you could fit in, you would have without even trying.” – Omotoke. 24.

Don’t let your uniqueness scare you – “You have your idiosyncrasies, just as everybody has theirs. But don’t let this scare you. You cannot fit into every group you find yourself in.”  – OJ. 33.

You might not be the odd one out – “It is probably just all in your head. You’re imagining or overthinking things. Either way, do you and you’re good.”  – Kolade. 44.

 

 

 

Titilayo Olurin is a writer whose stories and articles have been published on various online platforms. A love junkie, as she often describes herself, she is on radio every week talking about relationships, dating and family. She spends most of her time curating and creating content around these same topics on her Instagram page @toastlinewithteetee. You can connect with her on Instagram and Twitter @titilayo_olurin.

 

 

With only one adult to act as a parent, some tasks are inherently more challenging. However, there are a few helpful things you can do to make the parenting journey a little easier for yourself and stay sane while doing it.

1. Don’t Neglect Self-Care

Before anything else can be done, you must be caring for your own needs adequately. Only when you are feeling well-rested and healthy can you be at your best for your children.

Many parents tend to put their kids’ needs first and their owns last, but that will result in a never-ending cycle of exhaustion and feelings of inadequacy. Make time to eat regularly and healthfully, get plenty of rest, and squeeze in exercise whenever you can. Even a short walk around the neighborhood will help your body get much-needed movement and fresh air.

Your children depend on you, and it’s up to you to make sure that you are well-equipped and ready to take on that responsibility.

2. Join Forces with Other Single Parents

At times, it may seem like you’re the only person who knows what it’s like to be a single parent. However, the statistics say that there are many others who know exactly what you’re going through.

Find single parents locally, through your kid’s school, extracurricular activities, or even an app. There are also numerous online communities that can offer support and advice.

Join forces in order to form mutually beneficial relationships.

3. Build a Community

In addition to finding support with other single parents, also build a community comprised of families of all different types. Rather than focus solely on the single parent aspect of your identity, look for parents and kids who share other things in common.

Join a playgroup, get plugged in at a church, or get to know the parents of the kids involved in the same extracurricular activities. Having a community of a variety of people and families will bring diversity and excitement into your and your kids’ lives.

4. Accept Help

Don’t try to be a superhero and do it all yourself. There are probably people in your life who care about you and your kids and want to help you. Let them know what types of things would be most appreciated, whether it’s bringing meals once a week, helping with rides to school, or giving you time to yourself.

There is no shame in asking for help and accepting assistance from loved ones. You will not be perceived as weak or incompetent. You are being a good parent by being resourceful and allowing others to give you a much-needed break.

5. Get Creative with Childcare

Raising a child on a single income is a challenge, with the high cost of daycares, nannies, and other conventional childcare services. More affordable options are possible if you go a less traditional route.

6. Plan Ahead for Emergencies

As a single parent, a backup plan or two is a must in emergency situations. Make a list of people you know you can call in a moment’s notice. There will be times in which you need help, and it’s important to know ahead of time who you can rely on.

7. Create a Routine

Routine crucial for young children because knowing what to expect gives them a semblance of control. This is even more important when in a single parent home.

Establish a routine and schedule for your child as much as possible. This can include bedtime, before/after school, chores, meal times, and even a weekend routine.

Having a routine does not mean things cannot change. It is merely a default schedule to fall back on when no additional events or activities are going on. When your children know what to expect, they will be less resistant because they know what to expect, and days will run much more smoothly.

8. Be Consistent with Rules and Discipline

If your child has multiple caretakers, such as another parent, grandparent, or babysitter, communicate clearly on how discipline will be handled. Talk to your ex, if you are sharing custody, as well as any other caretakers about the rules and the agreed-upon approach to discipline.

When a child realizes that certain rules can be bent with certain people, he/she will use it to their advantage, causing additional issues with limits, behavior, and discipline down the road.

9. Stay Positive

Everyone has heard the saying, “Mind over matter.” But there really is so much power behind your mentality. It can change your perspective and make a difficult situation so much better.

Your kids will be able to detect even the smallest shift in your attitude. When the responsibilities of motherhood are overwhelming, stay focused on the positive things in your life, such as your friends and family. This will produce a much more stable home environment.

Maintain your sense of humor and don’t be afraid to be silly. Look towards the future and the great things that are still to come for you and your family. Rediscover and redefine your family values.

10. Move Past the Guilt

In a single parent home, it is impossible to act as both parents, regardless of how hard you try. Let go of the things that you cannot do as a single parent, and instead, think of the great things you ARE able to provide for your children.

Leave behind the notion that life would be easier or better with two parents. This is simply not true. There is a multitude of pros and cons to all family dynamics, and the one you are providing for your kids now is the one that they need.

Don’t get bogged down by guilt or regret. Take control of your life and be the best parent you can by being present and engaged with them on a daily basis.

11. Answer Questions Honestly

Your kids may have questions about why their home situation is different from many of their friends. When asked, don’t sugarcoat the situation or give them an answer that is not accurate.

Depending on their age, take this opportunity to explain the truth of what happened and how the current circumstances came about. Not all families have two parents, whether that is due to divorce, death, or whatever else life brings.

Don’t give more detail than necessary or talk badly about the other parent. But strive to be truthful and honest. Your children will benefit more from your candor than a made-up story.

12. Treat Kids Like Kids

In the absence of a partner, it can be tempting to rely on your children for comfort, companionship, or sympathy. But your kids are not equipped to play this role for you.

There are many details within an adult relationship that children are not able to understand or process, and it will only cause confusion and resentment.

Do not take out your anger on your kids. Separate your emotional needs from your role as a mother. If you find yourself depending on your kids too much, look for adult friends or family members that you can talk to about your issues.

13. Find Role Models

Find positive role models of the opposite sex for your child. It’s crucial that your child does not form negative associations with an entire gender of people.

Find close friends or family members that would be willing to spend one-on-one time with your kids. Encourage them to form meaningful relationships with people that you trust and that they can look up to.

Role models can make a huge difference in the path that a child decides to take, so be intentional about the ones that you put in your kids’ lives.

14. Be Affectionate and Give Praise

Your children need your affection and praise on a daily basis. Engage with your kids as often as possible by playing with them, going on outings, and encouraging open dialogue.

Affirm them in the things that they are doing well, no matter how small. Praise their efforts, rather than their achievements. This will inspire them to continue to put forth hard work and not give up when success is not achieved.

Rather than spending money on gifts, spend time and effort in making lasting memories.

Final Thoughts

Being a single parent is a challenging responsibility to take on. Without the help of a partner to fall back on, single parents have a lot more to take on.

However, studies show that growing up in a single parent home does not have a negative effect on achievement in school. As long as the family is a stable and safe environment, kids are able to excel and do well in life.

Use these tips in order to be a reliable and capable parent for your kids, while maintaining your own well-being and sanity.

When we’re young, many of us have an idealized image of what our future relationships will be like. We hope and imagine meeting the perfect person, getting on with them flawlessly, having plenty of things in common, and never finding anything to annoy or irritate us, with no arguments or disputes of any kind.

However, after growing up and getting into their first romantic relationships, many people realize that these idealized images are little more than fairy tales. Every couple argues. It’s a natural part of the process of sharing so much of your life with another person; every now and then, you’re going to find things that you don’t agree on or just wake up on the wrong side of the bed and need a little ‘me time’.

But while every other will argue sometimes, it’s important to not let arguments and quarrels become a regular part of your romantic routine. Arguments can get worse as they start to occur more frequently, and it’s important to note that domestic violence isn’t just limited to physical assault; mental and emotional distress caused by one partner to another can be very damaging in the long-term too, so if you’re worried about excessive arguments with your partner, here are some key tips.

Communicate Calmly

One of the first and most important tips to keep in mind when it comes to avoiding nasty arguments or defusing disputes before they turn bad is to try and make your communication as calm and clear as possible.

This means that you should avoid raising your voice, yelling, calling names, or resorting to any other bad habits you may have that don’t actually contribute to any kind of positive outcome or conclusion for you and your partner. Talking calmly and at a reasonable volume can instantly make a big difference.

Listen, Don’t Just Hear

People often argue because they have something they’re unhappy about and want their partner to know about it, but may feel that they aren’t being truly listened to. This is why it’s so important to actually listen to what your partner is saying, rather than simply hearing the words and failing to properly process them.

Too often, people in arguments focus purely on reacting to the last thing the other person said, trying to catch them out or prove them wrong, rather than actually listening, putting themselves in that person’s position, and truly understanding why they’re so upset. Working on your empathy can really help you resolve arguments much faster and help your relationship become healthier too.

Take a Breather

There are many different things you and your partner might argue about. It could be money, which is reportedly one of the most common subjects of dispute and disagreement among couples, or it could be something totally different like your sex life, work-life balance, family matters, etc.

Whatever it is you’re arguing about, don’t be afraid to call for a time out if you feel you need it. This can be a good strategy for many people, especially those who have trouble keeping their tempers under control. Taking a breather and letting yourself cool off could majorly help you avoid saying something you might regret.

Take Action

Don’t look at an argument as a battle between you and your partner. Don’t see it as something with a winner and a loser or a simple opportunity for one or both of you to yell things at each other. See it as an opportunity. An argument is a sign that something is wrong, but it’s also a sign that at least one of you wants to fix it.

This ties into the previous point about listening; really take the time to focus on what has caused your argument and what you can do to make it better. Taking this constructive, positive approach to disputes can help you and your partner turn a negative experience into something positive that really benefits the pair of you as you move forward as a couple, rather than repeating the argument over and over.

Final Word

As stated several times above, it’s important to acknowledge and accept that arguments are more or less inevitable. Some couples have more of them than others, and some can argue about the tiniest of matters while others only quarrel over serious subjects. But in any case, when arguments happen, having the right attitude and approach can help you negotiate them more carefully, reducing the risk of any emotional damage on either side and helping you and your partner build something stronger.

Source: Baucemag.com

You know there are days when you’re so happy and feel you can take over the world while there are other says you feel like everything is crashing around you.

It is human to shift moods every now and then and it is okay to allow yourself feel every emotion rather than hide or suppress them.

It is okay not to be okay.

It’s important to know that every mood you feel influences the way you act.

You may not be able to dictate how you feel at every given moment. However, you can take an extra step to know what each emotion means to you and how you can assess yourself while in that state of mood.

Why It’s Important to Track Your Mood

Have you ever noticed how you make bad decisions when you’re angry? Or how you can’t think straight when you feel downright sad?

It’s not surprising that the way we think, or the decisions we make sometimes heavily rely on our mood. This is why we need to keep track of it.

One of the best ways to do this is to write down your mood in a journal. Writing things down will help you understand and manage yourself better. You’ll be able to recognize what triggers your moods and find out how you can take actions that best serve your highest self.

A mood journal is a great way to identify personal factors that affect your mood daily.

Not only does writing in your journal build self-awareness, but it also helps you figure out how you can avoid triggers from happening altogether.

5 Reasons Why Keeping a Mood Journal Is Good for Your Mental Health

Tracking your mood is a helpful way to improve your mental health. If you don’t control your emotions, your emotions will end up controlling you and if you asked me, that is a recipe for disaster.

Here are the top 5 reasons why you should start mood journaling.

1. It Helps You Determine a Course of Action

When you’re aware of how you’re feeling, you can better understand what you need.

Think about the last time you found yourself spiraling emotionally. Did you feel like you could make a decision at that moment? Probably not.

When you are overwhelmed, you feel paralyzed to take action.

A mood journal will help you take notice of your day-to-day emotions so you can figure out the best ways that you can respond to them.

2. It Helps You Express Your Emotions

If you are someone who is prone to overthinking and worrying about everything, it’s imperative that you express your emotions through writing.

A mood journal is a safe container where you are given the space to feel without judgment. It’s a process that is both therapeutic and empowering. You don’t have to worry about how someone may receive your words because you’re having a dialogue with yourself.

Trust me when I say that you don’t have to carry around the weight of your feelings for one day longer. You deserve a break, so give yourself the gift of self-expression through journaling.

3. It Will Support Your Healing Process

Mood journaling allows you to sort through the difficult events that have occurred in your life so that you can start making sense of them.

More importantly, this therapeutic process allows you to come to a deeper understanding of yourself, which is a core piece of the healing process.

Healing is your birthright. If you have been struggling to make sense of the trauma you’ve endured, I encourage you to start writing your way towards better mental and emotional health.

4. It Helps Reveal What Your Triggers Are

We all have emotional triggers. It’s a part of being human. Someone will say something that triggers an emotional reaction that throws you off your game.

Emotional triggers are people, words, opinions, situations, or environmental situations that provoke an intense and excessive emotional reaction within us.

When you don’t do the work to figure out the root of these triggers, your emotions will get the best of you.

Use a mood journal to write down moments when you feel triggered. Take note of how you felt and what your reaction was. As you write, you will start to bring awareness to your triggers and start noticing patterns between how you feel and behave.

5. It Helps You Find the Silver Lining

When negative emotions get the better of you, you can’t help but flounder in negativity. In this state, it can become near impossible to be positive. This is where the mood journal comes to play.

The more that you write, the more that you feel in control of your emotional state and the less stressed you feel. Negativity feeds off of stress.

Journaling presents an opportunity for emotional catharsis, which thereby helps your brain regulate emotions. In turn, when you encounter adversities in life, you will be more inclined to find the silver lining.

When you start to witness the changes that occur as a result of the inner work you’re doing, you will feel more empowered knowing the impact you have had on your own mood. These are the silver lining moments that you want to pull upon when you’re having down days.

How to Write a Mood Journal

Personalizing your prompts according to your preference will help you form a deeper connection with your inner self.

Make a table of three columns. The first column should be for the emotions you feel.
While the second should be for the possible reasons you think affect your mood.
The last column should be for the actions and steps you took as a result of how you felt.

Or you can get a customized mood journal templates online.

When you become aware of a shift in your mood, write down what the change is in your journal. At the same time, observe how you feel in your body when you’re writing.

Also, make note of what you were doing when this mood shift occurred and who you were with. Equally as important is to reflect upon what was going on with your internal world. Name the emotion or thought that was going through your head.

Conclusion

Tracking your mood through a journal will help you organize your thoughts better and give you more understanding as to why and how you feel certain emotions

Taiye Aluko is a relationship and marriage coach.  The amazing amazon is also the founder of RareGems Counselling and Coaching, a centre that helps people gain clarity in their relationships. Thereby, turning despair to hopefulness and ignorance to awareness. The sought after coach who has been married for over 22 years has 16 years experience in counselling and heads her local church’s  marriage counselling unit.

She holds a degree in Law from the Obafemi Awolowo University and was called into the Nigerian Bar in 1992. She also holds an MBA from the PAN African University and is also a certified Prepare Enrich facilitator. She worked in leading law firms before starting an active career in banking, which spanned over 18 years, until 2013 when she decided to follow her passion for counseling.

Aside from her Law degree,  she  also  holds certifications in Person Centered Counselling, Psychology Counselling, Marriage and Relationship Counselling. She shares her inspiring journey and insightful relationship nuggets in tis interview with Esther Ijewere

Growing Up

I grew up as one of the last children in a family of 5. I have a twin sister which is why I am one of the last children. Growing up was largely uneventful for us. We had both parents and my dad died last year at the age of 90 years. My parents tried their best to provide a comfortable life for us, but things became difficult when my dad lost his job. My dad was a diplomat who worked with Foreign Affairs Ministry, so we spent our early years outside of Nigeria. When we came back to Nigeria and he lost his job, he wasn’t able to get back on his feet and my mom had to assume the financial responsibility. That was a turning point as we the children had to quickly adapt and adjust to the new realities of our life. Those were difficult years but my parents stayed together. I think growing up made me assume that every family consists of mother and father plus children. It took me a while to come to terms with the fact that not all families were like that. Some people grew up without fathers. Some of us were  brought up by grandparents. My parents ensured we had a stable and loving home. That for me was a great gift from them to us. I won’t really say that my childhood prepared me for what I do now. I think I discovered my love for working with couples later in life

Inspiration behind  Raregems counseling and coaching

Working in the Marriage Counselling Department of my church over the years opened me up to how needed premarital counselling is, as it was clear that many couples still had a mills and boon idea of marriage. The reality they experienced once married was at variance with what they expected, and it was resulting in heartbreak and pain for many couples. I was privileged to attend Late Pastor Bimbo Odukoya’s singles fellowship before I got married. Attending her fellowship helped reset my thinking and understanding of marriage. Then when I was about to get married, my husband and I also went through premarital counselling. As time went on, I began to see the need to offer premarital counselling outside of the church because not everyone gets married within a church setting, and they still desire to be married and happy. Because the family is the bedrock of society, it is important that we have healthy marriages and happy homes. So, my thinking in setting up RareGems Counselling and Coaching was to take premarital counselling outside of the church environment to reach more couples. I was mindful of the larger picture, which is that society is better off when the family unit is thriving. Families can only thrive when husband and wife have a wholesome relationship. Already we were seeing the impact that a lack of understanding of foundational principles was having on marriages. I felt more needed to be done and this is what inspired me to become a professional Marriage Coach and I set up my company as a vehicle to offer this service to the world.But I also realized that I would need to equip myself because my audience was now different and church rules would not apply. So, I had to equip myself with learning to be able to offer value and truly address needs that existed. Another thing I discovered was that even when preparing couples for marriage some had issues from their childhood that needed to be addressed and resolved. This meant that I had to be more than just a marriage counsellor. I had to be fully equipped.

 

Perception of marriage as it relates to Nigerian society

I would say that we are a very traditional and religious society, governed by cultural values and norms. Marriage is desired and desirable by most Nigerians, up from the time of our parents till now. So, there is still an associated stigma when one is not married. This is what puts singles, especially single women under pressure to want to marry at all costs. Because of this pressure, many make the wrong choice. Also, you have cultural interpretation, where many believe that because the man is head of the home, it is interpreted to mean that he is lord and master of all. Many men abuse their position of headship because they don’t understand what being the head of the home calls for. So, a lot of women suffer hardship in their marriages. I get calls from wives whose husbands brandish the head of house status like a badge of honor, while falling to take responsibility.

The sad thing is these men have no understanding of the responsibility aspect of being head of the home. I believe that every man needs to be taught the leadership style of Jesus. Jesus came as a servant leader and so one of things I say is that the position of headship that husbands hold in their homes is a position of servantship. They are chief servants because true leadership is all about service.

What makes me happy though is to see that the younger generation are coming into an understanding of this concept. Men are more willing to love their wives through service. They are more present and involved in making their marriage work. So, I would say that things are evolving, yes, the evolution is slow because you only see these changes in thinking and behaviour in urban areas and even in the urban areas, it is not yet a prevalent pattern. We still have a long way to go.

 

Experience as the head of marriage counselling unit in my church 

It’s been amazing because I love what I do. I recently became the head of department and I work with women who are also passionate about helping young couples start married life with a deep understanding of what marriage is about. Our focus is to teach them and equip them with needed skills for building a healthy marriage.

We operate a one-on-one counselling system in my church. This is different from group counselling where several couples are counselled together at the same time. The beauty of the one of one method is that the couple can confide in you. They get to share their challenges and I can help them work through it.  Because we are also spending a lot of time together, I am observing patterns and can give feedback appropriately. We have a very rigorous but also interesting counselling program that spans a period of 3 months. The process is engaging and participatory. It’s not about the counselor just preaching at them. You must get to know your couple and understand their journey because it’s not a one size fits all. The feedback from couples has always been very rewarding.

The role of the church in helping young couples navigate their marital journey 

I believe that the church needs to be at the forefront of helping couples navigate their marital journey. Firstly, marriage is God’s idea, and we need to uphold the principles He laid down regarding marriage. The marriage relationship is also a deeply spiritual one, otherwise how do you explain the concept of two becoming one? I believe that the church should be at the forefront of helping young couples have a deep understanding of the marriage institution and of God’s original design for marriage.

Secondly, I would also say that to be more effective, church counsellors need to be trained professionally on basic counselling skills. This is because the quality of counselling can only be as good as the knowledge of the counsellor. You can’t give what you don’t have. Many teach using their experience, this is wrong because if you have a bad experience, you will be projecting fear to the couple. Also, you must know that people’s backgrounds are different and when it comes to marriage, it is never once size fits all. So, regarding the role of the church, I say the church needs to be at the forefront both in premarital and post marital counselling.

Lastly, for the church to be at the forefront, we need to have a system of counselling that actually works, and couples need to feel safe coming to the church with their challenges. They need to be assured that there will be no judgment or condemnation. People need to see the church as a solution centre. Many churches have robust premarital counselling programs but the post marital one is lacking.  A lot of work still needs to be done regarding post marital counselling.

 

Challenges

Quite a few, number 1 being that counselling is still relatively a new concept in Nigeria. The need for professional marriage counselling is a novel concept so people are reluctant to make the financial investment. They are willing to spend millions on the wedding day, but do not see the need to invest in the actual marriage. Unfortunately, the cost of ill preparation is actually higher and the consequences can be devastating.

Another challenge would be that sometimes you can see clearly that this couple are not a good fit for each other. You see red flags and you begin to wonder; how do you get this couple to a place where they realise that they should not be going ahead. I always say at the onset of my sessions with couples that the aim of premarital counselling is not necessarily to get you to the altar at all costs, but rather to help you make an informed decision. I once had a case where the lady decided she was not going ahead and called off the relationship.

Finally, when it comes to post marital counselling, the willingness of the couple to make needed changes is very necessary. Counselling is not a magic formula, so where there is no willingness or commitment from the couple, there is little or nothing that a counsellor can do.

Other projects and activities

Thank you for asking, everything I do is directed at helping couples in one way or the other. I have a book that was written and released last year called, Together Forever, Godly Principles for Building a Happy and Lasting Marriage. The book is available for purchase on Amazon and Okada books. It’s a book that any intending to wed or newly married couple can pick up and read together. I have poured what I do in one-on-one sessions with couples into the book, so it’s a valuable resource for any couple seriously committed to making their marriage work. I also have 3 online courses which I created last year.

  1. How to have an engaging productive conversation on expectations before marriage
  2. How to grow your intimacy through the power of effective communication.
  3. Create your dream marriage, your marriage blueprint.

The courses are available for purchase on my website, Taiyealuko.coach.

I am also host of a podcast called, The H.A.P.P.Y Home Podcast this podcast is available on https://www.buzzsprout.com/1670839/episodes as well as all podcast platforms.

Finally, I have an upcoming masterclass for dating and engaged couples that I will be holding in February. The focus of the masterclass is to equip couples with very needed skills for making their marriages work. It will be the first of such master classes and I will be covering several topics. Details will be available on my social media platforms very soon.

What I enjoy about Job

I enjoy being able to impact people’s lives. I enjoy bringing the couples to a place of awareness and understanding, of themselves, their partners, and the marriage institution. It’s really a journey or transformation and I love seeing couples go through that journey and the growth that takes place in their relationship. When you are able to influence or impact people’s lives in deeply meaningful ways, it is always a rewarding experience.

3 women who inspire me and why

  1. Late Pastor Bimbo Odukoya, of blessed memory.

She was passionate about marriage but more importantly she was passionate about the single person being whole as a single first. She understood that if you are not whole as a person first, there is no way you can build a healthy marriage. She challenged mindsets with her preaching, and she shaped my thinking and beliefs about marriage when I was still single. I went into marriage having been properly schooled by her teachings at Single and Married Fellowship back them. It’s interesting to note that I even met my husband at one of her singles programs. She would always encourage us to mingle, so that evening at one of such programs, we were all mingling and just generally being friendly towards each other, in a godly way o, lol. That was how my husband mingled towards my direction and the rest is history.

  1. My mom, Mama Oluyinka Laoye.

My dad lost his job and for many years she was the breadwinner and provider in the family. It wasn’t easy for her, but she stayed with my dad despite the challenges. She ensured that we grew up in a happy home. She made lots of sacrifices for her children and for her husband. I say it often, that for a long time I never understood single parent households, because I agree up seeing my parents together.

  1. Lastly, I would say more recently, Pastor Mildred Okonkwo. She is fearless in her preaching and teaching about marriage. She is not afraid to say it as it is. She is also practical in her approach whilst also promoting godly principles regarding marriage. She is one woman who is so full of wisdom, and I admire her a great deal.

To young women who are trying to find the right partner

Firstly, get to know yourself and love yourself. Get to understand that you are valuable and priceless. As a young woman don’t undervalue yourself. Many women are making wrong choices because of low self-esteem. I want young women to know that they are precious and priceless. Secondly, you must have your values. Know what is important to you and have a vision for your life because if you don’t know where you are meant to be going, all roads will look attractive. Set standards for yourself. It is very important particularly with regards to choosing right. Lastly, if I am to choose one critical quality to look out for, I would say kindness. Look out for a man that is full of kindness. You will see this in the way he treats all those around him including his family members. Kindness is such an overlooked virtue but is so critical for marriage success. It is particularly important for men to have kind hearts. There are too many stories of wickedness out there, it is heartbreaking.

There is so much more I can talk about but, let me leave it as these for now.

 

Nuggets and lessons from my 22 years marriage  

We clocked  22 years in marriage on the 14th of January. For me it has been a journey of learning and growing, that is one of the most beautiful things about marriage. One of the greatest gifts you can give your spouse is the gift of acceptance. Acceptance is a gift that is not just for your spouse but also for you. My husband and I are very different and in the early days of our marriage I used to feel so frustrated with some of the things he did. I would be miserable wondering why this man just can see it the way I do. But then I began to understand that difference is not bad, I learnt to appreciate him for his uniqueness and accept him for who he is. That was when I started understanding the power of acceptance. My learning to accept him helped me to begin to enjoy his uniqueness. I stopped wanting him to be like me but learnt to love, honor, and respect him just the way he was. Remember that we can’t change anybody, so trying to change our spouses in subtle and not subtle ways, only leaves us frustrated. When I stopped trying to change him, I freed myself from that frustration. Now acceptance is a gift to your spouse because you say to them with your actions that they can be themselves with you. That even with their flaws and frailties you love and appreciate them. Every human being on earth wants to feel accepted, so when you give the gift of acceptance to your spouse, they can be vulnerable and truly be open with you. Once you create an atmosphere of unconditional acceptance in your home, things become easier.

Another nugget I would mention is that marriage is a journey. There are seasons and stages that every marriage must pass through. Recognizing the season your marriage is at, is key. That way you can deal appropriately with challenges per season. Many times, people give up easily or early because they don’t take a long-term view. One of the things I say to couples is that, if God has purposed that He has a mega blessing that He wants to release in your marriage in the 10th year and you get to the 5th year and decide to call it quits because you feel the challenges are too much, you have missed the mega blessing is year 10. God sees and knows all regarding us. We need to trust Him more and follow His lead.

Being a Woman of Rubies

I believe every woman is a woman of rubies. As women, we are precious and priceless. We are beautifully crafted masterpieces, specially created by our Master. Every woman carries beauty on the inside and that is our strength. We women are nurturers and co-creators with God.  In the bible, rubies are associated with beauty and wisdom. I see every woman as beautiful and full of wisdom. As for me as a person, because I am a woman, I am automatically a woman of rubies. You know rubies are precious gemstones and coincidently, I once belonged to a women’s network where we all had to give ourselves descriptive names. The name I chose for myself is Gemstone. I see myself the way God sees me as a beautiful gemstone, crafted in His image and likeness. My friends still call me Gemstone Taiye till today. For me it is a reminder of the value that I carry.

 

Also, I am passionate about pursuing my purpose, I understand who I am and the assignment I am on earth to fulfil. I can say this now, confidently but it has been a journey of learning and growing. I am not afraid to be myself. So, for me, I am passionately walking the journey of purpose. My goal this year is to help 1000 couples and 5000 singles. I want to help 1000 couples build happy and healthy homes. The strength of the home is the strength of society, the home is so important. But I also recognise that it starts with the individual first. You cannot give what you don’t have. Wounded people wound people and we see a lot of that in marriage. That is why the mandate of 5000 singles exists. If you are whole as a single person, you stand a better chance of making a success of your marriage whenever it happens.

 

 

 

At the start of each new year, many of us have grand plans to repurpose our lives, careers, relationships and finances, however, we sometimes expect magic by hoping for the best but doing nothing to make it happen.

Is procrastination a major problem for you? Procrastination can have many negative consequences: deadlines are missed; opportunities are wasted; work is rushed with the attendant fall in quality standards; impressions are created, as you consistently arrive late at important meetings and events,because you didn’t leave home in time but put the blame on traffic or the weather instead.

Many people procrastinate to a degree, but if your case is a chronic one, it must be addressed swiftly or it will have significant implications for your future. The costs of procrastination are substantial in every aspect of life, but when it relates to delaying or putting off important decisions related to your personal finances and investments, the damage to your financial future can be excruciating. The financial cost of procrastination has effects on your emotional and mental health.

Are you still planning to insure your property or write a will? Are you waiting until your 50th birthday before you get around to saving and investing for your retirement? Do you routinely submit your tax returns late and end up having to pay penalties and late fines? Is budgeting something you have thought about but never really practiced? If you don’t control your spending now, you will soon be wondering where all your money went.

Our lives are shaped by many different life events, most of which come with financial consequences that must be planned for. By not planning in advance, by not saving and investing today for a more prosperous tomorrow, by not protecting your assets, by not planning for your legacy, you jeopardize all that you have spent a lifetime building.

Procrastination can be a chronic habit – so deeply ingrained that you can’t break it overnight. It can only stop being a habit when you take active steps to beat it. Here are some tips that should help:

  • Write down your money-goals and work towards them systematically.
  • Break down tasks to reduce any sense of feeling overwhelmed.
  • Start each day with a list and include at least one of the items that you have been avoiding; eat the biggest frog first.
  • Delegate. Can someone help you complete the task? Paying for that service may be a better option than delaying things further.
  • Find an accountability partner to support you and that will hold you to your plans.

Once you start to enjoy an accomplishment or two, you will be motivated to do more. Focus on the success you have achieved, reward yourself, and enjoy that freedom from the burden.

This year, be proactive about combating financial procrastination; it is one of the worst kinds as its consequences can be devastating. Unnecessary delays come with serious risks you cannot afford. Get things done.

If there is one thing this generation suffers from, it is poor posture. Take a look around you and observe keenly the people around your environment. You would see people with poor sitting, standing and walking postures.

In your work place, you would have noticed people hunched over their seats, with their backs bent.

You’re probably currently sitting at your desk reading this, blissfully unaware of your posture right now—and that’s perfectly normal. It can be difficult to always be mindful of your posture, especially during a hectic workday through hours of Zoom meetings and conference calls.

Your posture is a very important indicator of your overall health, as it supports blood flow, improves your mood, increases your confidence, and strengthens your other muscles and joints. Practicing better posture while at your desk at work or at home, even in the smallest ways, is a great way to be mindful of your health on a daily basis.

Here are a few quick ways you can improve your posture as you go along your workday.

1. Switch up your seating

Your seating can make or break your posture—literally. Seating with little to no back support, worn-out chairs, and working from your couch or bed could wear on your body over time, straining your shoulders, spine, and lower back.

If your desk chair doesn’t have the support you need to sit comfortably and in an upright position for an hour or two at a time, you may need to switch up your seating.

A good, ergonomic chair for your workspace will have lumbar support to help the middle of your back, where most of the tension goes when you’re hunched over your desk. You also want to pick a chair that keeps your body at a neutral, upright position with an adequate seat height that keeps your arms and legs leveled and a backrest that isn’t too firm or too soft.

If you’re now working from home, make sure to be mindful of where and how you’re sitting. Set up your own workspace with a desk and chair that supports your back and shoulders and promotes better posture over time.

As much as you can, avoid working from your bed. Your spine will thank you.

2. Take frequent stretch breaks

It’s easy to get wrapped up in your workday and forget to move, so set an alert on your work calendar or on your phone as a regular reminder to take a break and switch up your posture by taking a walk, standing briefly in between meetings, stretching, or getting a quick exercise in.

Spending hours upon hours every day in a seated position where your back is either slouched or hunched over is detrimental to your posture. Many health professionals have declared that sitting has now become the new smoking, a popular myth that compares the negative chronic health effects of both, such as weight gain and diabetes.

Prolonged sitting can have long-lasting effects on not only your back but also on your overall health.

Make it a priority to get up and move around on a regular basis throughout your workday to give your body some relief from sitting and staring at a screen all day. Put yourself on a daily schedule to get some time away from the desk so you can give your back a break from sitting in an upright position, putting more pressure on your spine.

3. Exercise for better posture

When we exercise, we often forget to exercise for better posture, especially as working from home becomes more prevalent. Your posture is key to better overall health, and taking time to focus on it during your workday can help prevent lifelong body issues.

Exercising throughout the workday for better posture can be as simple as standing upright for an hour or two at a time at your desk, stretching and rotating your neck to relieve some of the tension from hours of working, or getting a good back bend at the waist to loosen up that lower back.

Give yourself a few small breaks during the workday to work out those kinks in your shoulders, neck, and back from sitting too long, and focus on exercises specifically for those areas.

4. Keep your workspace eye level

Hunching over your desk to look at your laptop or to type is one of the key indicators of poor posture. If your laptop or desktop computer isn’t eye level, it makes it easy to slouch and get stuck working that way for hours.

Do an overall assessment of your workspace, including your laptop, your monitor, your desk, and your computer accessories like your keyboard and mouse to make sure they are level to your eyesight and body to ensure that you’re not straining your neck, shoulders, and back to use your devices.

Your workspace should be at a comfortable level but upright enough where your posture isn’t compromised. Switch up the positioning of your workspace so that it’s easier to sit upright while still being effective throughout the day. If you work remotely or from home, find a better place to set up your workspace like on a high bar-style countertop where you can easily sit in an upright position, or even stand and work for a change of pace.

5. Be intentions about your sitting posture

Taking the time to connect with your body every so often throughout the day to see how it feels can seem like another item for your to-do list, but your back will definitely thank you for it!

Practice being mindful of your posture throughout the workday by setting frequent reminders on your phone to check in with your body.

Use this mindfulness to be more aware of your posture on a daily basis and when you place the most tension on your back. Do you find that your posture suffers during long Zoom meetings? Are you sitting for more than two to three hours at a time in the mornings or afternoons? Take note daily of all of your workspace habits and how it impacts your posture and your overall body. This will help you anticipate and be more mindful of your posture during the most stressful times of your day and prepare to change it up.

6. Keep your feet flat on the floor

Your feet and their position while at your desk play a crucial role in your overall posture while sitting. If your feet are crossed or elevated, that could compromise your posture, as your weight is primarily on one leg or your back is taking the brunt of it. When your feet are flat on the floor and properly leveled, the weight of your body is evenly distributed across your hips. Keeping your feet flat on the floor also makes you more mindful of the overall stance of your body, as it unconsciously makes you straighten up.

Practice keeping your feet fully on the floor for longer periods of time instead of elevating them using a footrest or crossing your legs at the knees underneath your desk. Planting your feet on the ground will help you be more aware of your posture and if you’re slouched or hunched over your desk.

Your posture is a key indicator of your body’s health during your workday. Don’t ignore any signs of back or shoulder pain; make it a point to take care of yourself while working, starting with your posture

Which of these tips do you find helpful?
Which of these tips would you start practicing today?

What other useful tip would you like to add? Please share with us in the comment box below.

Nigerian music diva, Yemi Alade is set to perform at the first-ever ‘Earthshot Prize Awards’ at the Alexandra palace alongside Ed Sheehan, Coldplay and Shawn Mendez among others.

 

The exclusive and globally broadcast event is organized by the Royal Foundation, which is led by Prince William of the British royal family and recognizes innovative solutions to the world’s environmental challenges.

The hour-long event, hosted by Clara Amfo and Dermot O’Leary, aims to reverse the tide against the pessimism many people feel about climate change by highlighting the positive work being done to help battle the existential threat to the world.

The Prince William project combed the globe for the greatest scientific talent, eventually choosing 15 finalists who wowed with extremely exceptional efforts to help conserve the oceans, land, and air.

Five people will be chosen as the recipients of a £1 million funding prize, which will allow them to continue and advance their essential work, which has the potential to help heal our struggling planet.

The Earthshot prize awards will be aired on Sunday, October 17, 2021. The five winners of the ‘Earthshot prize’ will be revealed by a star-studded panel of presenters that includes Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Liverpool forward Mo Salah, and actors Emma Thompson, Emma Watson, and David Oyelowo.

The ceremony follows the premiere of the documentary series ‘The Earthshot Prize: Repairing our Planet,’ which delves further into each of the 15 finalists.

Yemi Alade has been dominating the charts with her rich voice since the release of her album “Empress” and the EP dubbed “Queen Don Com.”

She recently completed her ‘Empress’ American tour, performing in cities such as New York, Washington DC, North Adams, Las Vegas, and Houston, Texas, and granted an interview on one of the most popular weekend breakfast TV shows “Sunday Brunch” in the United Kingdom (UK), where she spoke about her recent tour and why Nigerian music and musicians have now become the toast of the world, with the likes of Burna Boy, Wizkid, and other chart-toppers.

Yemi Alade also stated that healthy competition has made Nigerian musicians better musicians. “healthy competition between Nigerian musicians has made our sound better and made us better musicians”, she said.

The singer also spoke with Femi Oke on the popular Aljazerah network show “The Social” in Washington, where she discussed the significance of female representation in the entertainment industry and why young female singers should strive for greatness.

 

Photo Credit@yemialade

Information is power, equip yourself with all the necessary knowledge needed to grow your brand. Develop yourself, know your strengths and weaknesses, focus on your strengths and work on your weaknesses. While you work on your weaknesses, employ capable people to fill in those positions where you consider your weakness. You honestly can’t be everything to your business. For instance, if your strength lies in customer relationship and PR service and you have little or no sewing skills, Focus on your customer relationship and PR skills and work on your sewing skills. This way, the business does not suffer and your skills are effectively and efficiently utilized. — Eki Okubanjo.

Eki Oris is a fashion company that specializes in both custom made and ready to wear (RTW) clothing for the fashion-conscious woman who appreciates finely constructed pieces of impeccable quality, targeted at females 15 years and above. Eki Oris designs are influenced by simplicity, individuality and comfort of their customers.
The Eki Oris Kidswear is a clothing and accessories brand for kids (male & female) aged 0 months – 12 years. It’s a bespoke & ready-to-wear brand which has found its niche in using unique African prints and other fabrics to tailor exquisite and comfortable outfits for children.

Eki worked full time in a private company as the customer relationship manager and also did a bit of business development. During this time she was running the Eki Oris brand as a side hustle. She wore her designs to the office and got a lot of pleasing comments. She made pieces for some of her colleagues and got lots of referrals through them.
In her quest for more, she decided to quite her 9-5 job and give her fashion business the time it requires.

The Eki Oris brand has successfully maintained its integrity over four years by putting customers first, keeping to deadlines, being dependable and also giving out quality products and services. These are some of the things that make the Eki Oris brand special.

I understand the importance of having a conducive and happy working environment for your staff, because once your staff are happy and comfortable, they’ll definitely deliver their best and I have implemented this principle into my business.

Eki Okubanjo learned the basics of fashion designing from her mother who had a tailoring shop while growing up. She launched “Prints by Kira and Eki” with her friend during their National Youth Service (NYSC) year but they parted ways.

Eki Oris was founded in 2015 as a home-based business, and also a side hustle which she ran alongside her corporate job.
In July 2017 she resigned from her corporate job to focus on her business. She had saved up some money, and got some funds from her dad and boyfriend (now husband) to set up.

In her own words, “I had no prior knowledge of running a business, I didn’t know how to calculate my cost, the overheads were a lot, I didn’t know the best salary method to use for paying my tailors. I made mistakes with designs, fabric etc and I have had to refund money back to some customers, but all these experiences helped shape me into becoming a better fashion entrepreneur. Having worked in a corporate environment before venturing into full time entrepreneurship, I have also brought in a lot of knowledge I learnt while I was with my previous employer into my business. I, more than anyone understand the importance of customer management. I brought in my negotiation skills, marketing skills etc into my business and I understand how important it is for a business to keep their business data as this is what will help you make better decisions. I have implemented all of this in my business.  In retrospect, when I think of my entrepreneurial journey, I’m honestly glad for how far I have grown. I have learnt from all my mistakes, challenges and also my customers. Experience is something that cannot be bought and my experiences so far have helped me put in proper structures and policies in place that are currently helping my business.”

As an entrepreneur, Eki finds the most satisfaction in IMPACTING lives. She loves that she is able to impact lives through beautiful clothes. An Eki Oris woman is bold, and confident and I love that my designs automatically instil confidence in my customers. An Eki Oris woman goes about her daily activities with her head up and ready to conquer the world because she’s confident in herself.
“I also love that I can positively impact the lives of my staff through the jobs I have provided for them, they in turn can impact their own lives and fend for their families.”

There’s no better time to start than now! Just start. You don’t have to wait till you have everything sorted out to start your business, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Don’t rush the process as well, allow yourself to grow and learn and celebrate the small wins.

Eki Okubanjo sums up all her experiences, including successes and failures in this powerful piece of advice: Importantly information is power, equip yourself with all the necessary knowledge needed to grow your brand. Develop yourself, know your strengths and weaknesses, focus on your strengths and work on your weaknesses. While you work on your weaknesses, employ capable people to fill in those positions where you consider your weakness. You honestly can’t be everything to your business. For instance, if your strength lies in customer relationship and PR service and you have little or no sewing skills, Focus on your customer relationship and PR skills and work on your sewing skills. This way, the business does not suffer and your skills are effectively and efficiently utilized. Also, you honestly need a trailer load of patience and hard work to survive in the fashion industry. Finally, please always remember the God factor. Always pray to him for wisdom to help you run your business, pray for your staff and also your customers.

The challenges facing many women in Africa of how to manage and care for their natural hair is one that entrepreneur Farida Yahya is all too familiar with. It was the inspiration for the launch of her business Lumo Naturals, which today creates a range of specialist hair products that both cleanse and treat the hair gently. Today, the brand is winning scores of fans who are looking for a natural solution for their natural hair.

Lumo Naturals is an award-winning haircare solutions brand. With over 6 years in operation and a team of professional hair consultants and stylists, they offer a wide range of hair services and products. They provide quality hair services, along with top lines of our well formulated natural hair products.

As a naturalista, growing up, Farida saw her mother try to tame her hair with tons of relaxers. Farida’s mother tried various products and used tons of strategies but none ever worked. And just like other natural hair owners, she had problems with her own hair ranging from breakage to dry hair, breaking the piggy bank to get premium products to maintain the hair, as well as shrinkage. Additionally, Farida would spend so much time watching tons of videos on YouTube and natural hair blogs looking for tips and inspirations. In 2008, Farida resorted to making DIY products for her hair because there were no big shops that sold natural hair care products in her location. Interestingly, her experiments worked and people began to buy them.

As a female founder, you should never feel pressured to “lead like the boys”. There is nothing wrong in leading with empathy, and you should know that the world of entrepreneurship is tough, and so, don’t demand things from the angle of a victim, instead work hard and smart enough to have those doors open for you. When you do succeed, look back and lift others, mentorship and support is crucial for female founders, if we want to go far, and build the mass we need to change things for good. — Farida Yahya.

Lumo Naturals was birthed in 2012. It started with the production of the first set of natural hair care products – hair butter. And with Farida’s over nine years of experience in biochemistry and a diverse range of complementary skill sets, she has been able to create an extensive offering of affordable natural hair care products designed to benefit naturalistas.


For Farida, running her own business has pushed her to grow. Being responsible for her team and customers has challenged her to learn about how money works, what is required from a leader, and why it is important to deliver quality service consistently.
Farida says she is happiest when she solves a client’s hair challenge, and when she gets feedback about their formulations. In her words, “it gives me such a thrill to know that I am doing my quota to help make the world a better place, and reduce social inequalities.”

Lumo Naturals fill a unique niche in the beauty space. Their product line includes everything from hair cleansers to hair treatments and hair scrums, with a focus on multi-functional products. Additionally, all their products showcase clean, locally sourced ingredients that are cruelty-free, animal-free, and free of harmful irritants and additions such as parabens, benzene, and formaldehyde.