Tuesday, 3 July 2018

A word to encourage you - You will be just fine, eventually.

Don’t we all love happy endings? Isn’t that what makes fairytale stories so heartwarming and appealing? Everyone wants to see the villain defeated at the end and the hero win. Everyone likes when good triumphs over bad. Wouldn’t it be great if this was a given in our everyday life? If we could go through our day knowing it will end well?

Imagine the new lease on life you would have if you knew for a fact that there was light at the end of the tunnel. That the current tough times you are undergoing will end and it will turn out just fine eventually. While fairytale differs greatly from reality, happy endings don’t have to be a myth after all. 

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:10 (ESV) 

This morning I read this verse from the bible and at first, I was stuck on the phrase “after you have suffered a little while”. I wondered why the suffering was even necessary in the beginning, as the pain we see all around humanity sometimes can be very disheartening. It’s everywhere you turn.

At the flick on of the TV, the news blazes on with tales of conflict, hatred, and injustice. You hear the pain in the voice of the man who chats with you at the restaurant. You see it in the eyes of the child that waves at you at the park. The pain and injustice that has risen from greed and indifference in our world. So what exactly is the point of all these suffering? And to what end?

But as I continued to ponder on the first phrase, my eyes settle slowly on to the second part of the verse: “… the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:10 (ESV). Now that’s very reassuring.

First of all, God’s grace will be there through the harsh realities we face and he will restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you. That’s sound way better than the endings of a fairytale. It’s going to be just fine, eventually.

So in the meantime, keep the faith and hope in the dreams of tomorrow as you work out your today. Allow the grace of God to restore your joy, let him confirm his promises to you, see him strengthen your feeble heart and establish your feet firmly on the paths you decide to walk through. You’ll be just fine, eventually.

Monday, 4 June 2018

Managing your day with space to breathe

I was listening to a message over the weekend about the absolute importance of living life with some margin – space to breathe between activities. What I found fascinating about the whole conversation was that the idea wasn’t in the least new or groundbreaking, at least not to me, for I had always prided myself on balance, or at least I thought I did.

But as I listened to the message, I realised that it wasn’t about taking that vacation or sleeping in an hour longer; it was a state of heart and mind – a deliberate attempt to pause during a very busy day or life and just breathe, soak up some much-needed air and exhale all that pent-up tension. Like the white spaces in the notepad we all write on, our lives need some time and place when we allow our entire being to relax and just be.

No rushing to the next appointment, no getting out of bed in a frenzy, no hurrying off to achieve the next big thing – just letting go for a few minutes and allowing nature take its course. One of my best phrases for this is 'vegging-out'.

Everything in life happens at a time and for a reason. You can try to speed things up, change their course and manipulate the outcome, but inevitably, life does happen when it chooses to. So by all means, work hard for the goal you are trying to achieve, but don’t go overboard. When you can, take a few minutes to breathe. If you don’t get what I mean, how about this – imagine you plant a seed today and then you stand there and plan to watch it grow. Will your staring down at the ground make your seed grow any faster? Absolutely not.

In the same way, going crazy and driving everyone else crazy while trying to achieve your goal will not necessarily get you there any sooner. As a matter of fact, this sometimes delays you because people get tired of your insanity and give up on you. So breathe; it’s okay for things to fall out of place sometimes. It’s okay to experience some delays – it’s definitely not the end of the world.

Some breathing space during your day refreshes you, releases the pent-up tension of trying to be and allows you to draw new inspiration and see new opportunities that you might have missed had you remained on your fast lane driving like a lunatic through life. Slow it down a notch.

One of my favorite quotes from the Bible is ‘to everything, there is a time and season’. There is a season for everything in life; don’t force it, don’t attempt to manipulate it. When the time is right, you’ll know, and it will work out just fine. Not a second before or after. I think that nature figured out the just-in-time concept before we all did, and it has orchestrated the cycles in life to work out exactly the way they should.

So if everything else in life is on a calendar, why should you worry yourself to death about something you can’t speed up or change? Why not just work at it, give yourself some breathing space and pace yourself to a sensible rhythm?

Some achieve greatness as kids, some as young adults, others may very well get to their senior years before they can even get the big break they have always dreamed off. The point is that it will happen at some point in time. Why burn out before the spotlight is turned on you? Why die before your time?

Take some time to breathe, turn down the insanity in your life. Cancel some trips, call off some appointments, put in some blank space in your life – time to veg-out. You can sit, sleep, run, walk; whatever you need to do to relax; go ahead and do it. Time chimes back softly, our days on this side of the earth is really short, and the truth is that you can’t control everything.

Take your life in strides, your task in chunks, your achievements in moments – as sure as the day comes, the night will follow and then the day again and the night and so on. All of life is perfectly balanced – life, death, life, death – on and on and on it goes.

When life gets crazy and it seems as if it’s all spinning out of your control, breathe, perhaps recite the serenity prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr: ‘God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference’. This prayer sums it up so beautifully.

Now, as someone who naturally likes to run things on a schedule, I can tell you that I find this extremely difficult to do. I belong to the percentage of humans who need to fill in every second of the day with an activity. I need to know what we are doing, when, how, by when; I need to be in ‘control’ of every moment of my day. I know how difficult this whole ‘space’ concept can be and how irritating ‘waiting’ can be to some of us. But I have also learned that life rarely goes your way, so you had better leave space for the contingencies when this happens.

If you take anything out of this, let it be this: breathe, pace yourself, breathe again. I’d love to hear how you are creatively adding some spaces into your daily life. Would you please share in the comments? Thanks.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Unboxed Sounds

I met Olumide during my National Service year in Abuja, many years ago. We were both assigned to the same community development project. One of the things that struck me about him was his love for music. He is one of the inspiring music makers who actually touch your soul with their pieces. It’s not just about listening to good music, there is something soothing and healing about his piano pieces. So, I nicknamed him Magic fingers. It gives me great joy today to know that after more than ten years, Magic fingers is still healing souls with his music. Allow me introduce to you someone who has inspired me through the years. I hope his music brings you as much joy as they have brought me.

How did you learn to play the piano?

I learnt to play the piano at a young age without much of a formal training. During our house fellowship meetings, I watched my mentor play the piano and I’ll go back to practice some of the things I saw or heard. I had a piano teacher for a few months but I enjoyed playing by ear and I developed that skill very quickly.

What would you consider a defining moment? What made you choose this path instead of picking up a regular job?

Interestingly, I have always had a regular job all my life but it never took away from my love and investment in music. I am not only passionate about it, but I also see it as a ministry and a call. I have seen God use my gift in diverse ways to bless people. Music creativity comes to me naturally and this is a special gift from God.

People often say that you need to connect to your pain to be able to touch others with your art. Is that the case with you? What inspires you?

My music is an expression of my appreciation for God and all that He does in my life as well as a reflection of some of my experiences in life. I am always amazed by the wonders of creation and how everything works together, beautifully orchestrated by the creator. We can literarily see and feel his splendor every day and I find ways to express the emotions that it brings through my music.

Who is your favorite artist? The person you wish you could be?

Yanni’s music has inspired me greatly over the years, since my childhood. I particularly love his creative infusion of electronic music and symphony orchestra.

Any new works or project in the making?

I have been working with different artistes over the last few months on various projects ranging from single song production to full album production. I will continue to produce instrumental piano piece and I’ll be working as the music director for an upcoming live concert. 

Tell me about your new piano pieces?

Since I enjoy spending time playing the piano while worshipping, praying or meditating, I decided to record some of my piano instrumental expressions and share on my YouTube channel.  These piano pieces are very soothing and calming and can be used for worship, prayer, medication, sleep and more.  Listen on my YouTube Channel:

If you had to give your younger self an advice, knowing what you know now, what will it be?

Be more daring and enjoy the process of becoming!

About Unboxed Sounds:

Olumide runs Unboxed Sounds specializes in Sound Engineering and Music Production. Our Audio production package includes: sound design, recording engineering, sound and acoustic consultation, soundtrack production, live mixing, mastering services, music consultancy services and song arrangement. https://www.facebook.com/unboxedsounds/

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Fight like a dance

This is what I love about tenacity; the grits, sweat, drive, emotion, the perspiration that comes with staying in, giving all and never letting go. It’s like a dance, not the one you always enjoy but the one you have to do to keep going. You push and get pushed back, you push and get pushed back again. You keep on going until the resistance is down. Every athlete knows every victor knows that you have to push through the pain. It aches, you keep going. It breaks, you fix it and keep going. The crown comes at a price, that only the persistent obtains.

It’s like the dance of a boxer. One foot in front, one at the back. Hands up in a defensive position, face protected. Knees bent slightly, ready for the fight. The mind filled with pictures of what will be at the end, victory as defined by the fighter. On high alert, ready! Bell goes off and you dive in with a Jab! Cross! Your opponent hit back. You go at it again, not fluttering, not standing down. Heart and mind transfixed on only one thing the resistance will go down. Whatever it takes, however long it takes, you’d be the last one standing.

Body swaying back and forth as you keep going at the opponent. You take a hit, you stagger back. Stance sustained, you bounced back. Not staying down, whatever it takes you’d put the resistance down. One foot in front and the other at the back. Jab! Cross! Uppercut! Uppercut! Mind, body, spirit engaged, this is it. You keep at it, you keep hitting again and again and again. Even when you feel subdued, even when your body aches. You continue the fight in a dance-like manner. You sustain the rhythm, bouncing on your toes, moving back and forth, putting in your all. No slacking, no distractions, eyes on the prize this resistance is going down.

You can’t draw back now; you keep going until it’s all over. You know you need to continue; you only need one deadly blow. Unfortunately, you can’t tell which will take the opponent down and that’s why you keep going. Maybe this Jab, maybe this uppercut will do it. Your arms ache but you keep at it. Your mind reels as your legs begin to give way but you still keep going. As you forge ahead you assess the situation. What will it take to bring this resistance down? You take in quick inventory of what you have, your advantage against your opponent. Assets realigned to put you in the best position, you take a swing again. Few more seconds, few more punches and down goes the opponent. Bells go off – the fight is over, victory at last for the last one standing.

At that moment you experience a feeling of satisfaction that comes from finishing well. It’s the drive that keeps you going, tenacity inched into every part of your body. Truth be told it wasn’t that last blow that took down the opponent, it was the accumulation of the many blows that resulted in your victory. That’s why you couldn’t just give in when you got hit back, you had to keep going.

Life’s like this fight, like the dance of a boxer in the fighting ring. Some get you, some you get. Ultimately you win if you keep fighting back. There will be times it feels like you are at the losing end, just keep at it. Fight for your health, fight for your home, fight for your kids, fight for your life as you want it to be. If you get hit, keep going. If you fall in the process, get up and go at it again. You’d only come out on top at the end if you don’t let go. If you are still breathing, you are still living so keep going for it until you win.