What Legacy will you leave as a Mum?

On Thursday, I attended the service of songs or wake keeping for my cousin, Sola, (still can’t believe it). One of his closest friends read a tribute and talked about the legacy he left to his daughter. Although he spoke about a lot of things, the word ‘legacy’ has reverberated through my being since Thursday. What legacy am I leaving for my children?

When Sola’s daughter came up and read her tribute, I was struck by two things. Firstly, what an eloquent young woman – her parents must have been so proud of her. Secondly, how present her father was in her life.  Over the next few minutes she went on to describe explicitly what it means to be present as a parent from a child’s perspective.

Sola poured his life into his daughter and her well-being what his utmost concern. Whilst he might not have had much, he had a lot of love and he lavished it on her. I realised as she spoke, that on this dusty road we call life, he focused on the principle thing – love.

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Mother’s day can mean a myriad of things to many of us. A day to be cherished; a reminder that we are taken for granted perhaps; a reiteration of the fact that you are both mother and father to your child; a reminder that the child you long for is still not yours; maybe sadness over the loss of your own mum – it means so many different things to all people.

In the midst of all the chocolates, flowers, pampering and what nots you may or may not be doing, I’d like to take moment to focus on what it does mean to be a mother – to be a parent. These are the lessons my young cousin taught me on parenting from the view of a child.

  • Children are kind. They don’t always hold your faults against you.
  • They love unconditionally.
  • They appreciate when you spend time with them – quality time.
  • It is important to create memories. It doesn’t cost much to watch a movie on TV together or share your favourite songs with one another. Create unforgettable memories.
  • Encourage them all the time. Motivate them. Be their greatest cheerleader.
  • Though you are parent first and friend later, be the one that they want to come and share their burdens with.
  • When they find in you someone they can trust with their hearts, they share their lives with you and crown you ‘best friend’. This is not a title you bestow upon yourself.

I hope I haven’t rained on anyone’s parade today. It’s a reflective time for me and a stark reminder about what parenting is really about – at least for me anyway. However, I also find it encouraging that what children remember are the simple things, not the things – what they remember is you.

My cousin’s daughter, my young cousin, taught me what IS important about parenthood. In her words, “my dad wasn’t perfect but he was perfect to me”. It suddenly dawned on me that parenthood-slash-motherhood is an act of service not a trophy. It is also a privilege that I probably do take for granted if I am honest. And in those moments when we rush from pillar to post in a bid to do it all, all of the time, this is a wonderful reminder that we are enough.

Her time with her father was so so brief, it is really heartbreaking, but he left an indelible imprint on her heart that will last a lifetime. I wonder how my children will remember me? Have you ever thought about that? What legacy are you leaving your children?

Yours,

RWW

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International Women’s Day

I want to say something profound but I have nothing.

So I’ll say thank you.

Thank you to all the women who’ve paved the way and made it easier for women like me to work.

Thank you to the women who continually show by example that we can go beyond the boundaries.

Thank you to all the women who fight and rise up indignantly against gender inequality and violence towards women; who uphold the right to education for women and girls around the world.

Thank you to my mother for modelling the fact that a woman can….

Thank you to the every day women that surround me and challenge me to be all that I ever hope and dream.

And thank you to my daughter for inspiring me, every day, to be a better woman.

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Thank you United Nations. You Shouldn’t Have

Imagine my surprise when I got the news that the United Nations (UN) had chosen me to be an ambassador for women and girls around the world. I am honoured. So honoured but really they didn’t need to. Seriously, they shouldn’t have.

 

On a serious note, I can only imagine the meeting where this was being deliberated. Where some wise person said, “You know what? It would be wonderful for woman and girls around the world to have a universal role model. Let’s put our suggestions in a hat.”

  • Maya Angelou
  • J.K Rowling
  • Beyoncé
  • Kim Kardashian
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Michelle Obama
  • Amy Poehler

As each name was called out, there were grimaces, or nods, or smiles or vehement hand signals waving frantically – no way. I’ll leave you to match the reaction to the relevant name.

It’s no surprise to me that there are protests against this.

Do women really need a mascot? I mean are we living in a Disney movie that we need a dressed up super hero to encourage us?

I can totally understand why they chose Wonder Woman. They discovered that there is no such thing as a universal role model. As they struggled to find one woman who could represent all women, they discovered that such a woman only existed in fiction.

We are all wired differently. For each of the women listed above, I can assure you that there are women round the world who would sooner renounce being a women than accept one of them as a role model. For EACH ONE, I promise you.

And that is fine.

Women don’t need to identify with one person. Heck men don’t need to. What women need is to be exposed to a plethora of women who have done extraordinary things. From pilots, to scientists, football players, coaches, doctors, activists, philanthropists, artistes and so many more. What young girls in particular need is to know that they can be and do anything they set they heart on. That there are no limits or ceilings. What we need to know is that we can.

Of course I am ecstatically happy they chose Wonder Woman. I understand it and get it. Within every woman is a wonder woman. I get it but this was ill thought out on so many levels too political for me to get into. However, I wonder if the UN has noticed that men and boys don’t have an icon. Just wondering.

Time and money would have been better spent say on featuring women who have smashed the glass ceiling in their respective careers over the last decade or so; or a focus on women in STEM careers; or even better a woman or women living out the core actions on their website. Why did there have to be one anyway?

Women round the world, ordinary, everyday women are achieving great things. And they keep inspiring us daily. We don’t need to look very far for role models. They exist in our communities. They might not have celebrity status but they are real and they exist all around us.

I am actually quite tired of the elevation of celebrities over everyday people. And now you are telling me we have to contend with fictional characters????

I’m telling you, there is no better time than the present to redefine Wonder Woman!

International Day of the Girl 

​The day I had my daughter my world view changed.

I knew that I was her first example of what a woman could be and I found that scary.

I didn’t want to grow up or be responsible for such an onerous role. But I have no choice because I don’t want her to ever feel that she shouldn’t work hard; or that she needs a man to make her complete; or she can’t be sporty and girly at the same time; or be anything she wants to be.

So I straightened up my life so she could be  a Wonder Woman too.

Every girl deserves to know that all things are possible for them should they want it.

We’ve just got to keep punching through that glass ceiling wherever we find ourselves so that the next generation doesn’t have to.

This Girl Can 

This is my daughter. She is seven years old and in five weeks, she will be eight.

I have always joked that she came to earth with a princess syndrome but part of that is knowing what she wants and not stopping till she gets it.

She is confident and, above all else, brave. She keeps stretching herself to do everything her older brother can. There are no barriers for her. Her only competition is her nine year old brother. I have tried and failed miserably at explaining that at this age, there will always be things he can do better than her. This means absolutely nothing to her. She keeps pushing and pushing herself.

My constant struggle, particularly as she is my last born, is to keep her safe and curb her risk taking. I am trying with all my might not to let my protectiveness restrict her or inadvertently send the message that girls shouldn’t be doing this or that. It’s a daily struggle to allow her to be herself.

Today, she wants to be an astronaut, fashion designer, scientist, prime minister, doctor and athlete. All are within her grasp so watch out world!

Lessons from Kendra Harrison’s ‘Failure’

Life is my greatest teacher and I love to observe and learn from the lives of others.  Whilst watching the Olympic Anniversary Games last weekend, I attended life school when Kendra Harrison broke a 28-year-old world record 100m hurdles. More interesting to me was discovering that she did not qualify for the Olympics even though she was the fastest woman in the world.

This spoke volumes to me on so many levels that I’m not sure where to start. I guess the initial encouragement is that the ‘race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong……… but time and chance happens to them all’. If the world’s fastest woman could not make the Olympics, then I think we all need to take is easy on ourselves sometimes. Even with the best intentions, will, preparation and knowledge we may not get it right when we want. We may not nail that job interview or win that business or pass that exam or make that relationship work – even with the best intentions. It’s a sobering thought but also an encouragement to simply go ahead and do our best and that should always be enough.

I also love the fighting spirit in her – the epitome of the comeback kid.  What an amazing way to stick it to the world after fate conspired to cheat her out of her Olympic dream. To bounce back from that and come to the Games and smash a world record is phenomenal. No one can dispute that she is a champion which just goes to show you that the world doesn’t always measure true success accurately. We can’t really call her a failure can we?

And lastly, this is also an encouragement for the rest of us who don’t always measure up or feel good enough. If we are prepared and diligent, our Olympic moment will come because the race isn’t always to the swift. However, the reality is that Kendra was the one to beat; the one that would have had others feeling threatened during the trials. Whilst no one might have predicted she wouldn’t make it through, only the ones who were prepared were able to take advantage of that oppotunity.

Have a great week everyone.

 

 

Redefining Wonder Woman Series 11: Following Your Passion

I can’t believe this is the first in the Redefining Wonder Woman Series for 2016. It’s been such a busy year for me so I guess better late than never!  When I started my blog, my main reason was to encourage women. A while ago, I was contemplating giving up my blog and I got a random message from Keji Aofiyebi, an events and wedding planner. She was going back to school to gain some qualifications and wanted to let me know my blog encouraged her to. Keji has encouraged me every step of the way and I’m pleased to finally have a chance to interview her, a year since that message. Hope her story encourages you.

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RWW: What’s your professional background?
KA: I’m an art and design graduate specialising in illustration. I graduated in the mid 90’s and wasn’t clear on what career path I wanted to pursue. I couldn’t see how ‘Art’ was going to produce an income so I worked my way into IT. For the last fifteen years, I’ve been working as a software tester; the first seven on a permanent basis and the last eight as a freelance consultant.

RWW:  If I’m honest, I was pleasantly  shocked when you said my blog encouraged you to pursue your dream. How long have you wanted to be an event planner?
KA: I’ve wanted to change my career path for at least ten years now. I’m a creative person by nature and for me, being in an office environment doing something I really don’t like feels like a dead-end job; no matter how much I’m being paid.  A few years ago I realised I really wanted out of this field but at the time I wasn’t sure what. Although I’m very detailed and militant in organising my work, I wasn’t sure  how or where to start.  Reading your blogs, I noticed one thing in common with all the women including yourself that had made changes –  they all made sacrifices, they all wanted to follow their dreams and they all worked hard to achieve.

RWW: What was it like studying, working and being a parent?
KA:  To be honest, I had to draw strength from and lean on my faith in God to get me through. Thankfully I have a hands-on husband who is really good with the children and cooks well. On a practical note, I did some assignments early mornings and some on my train commute to work. Some weekends, I did nothing but assignments. My older children literally had to sort themselves out but my youngest one was still a bit physically demanding. Thankfully he’s a daddy’s boy. Everyone has really helped to pick up the slack.

RWW: What would you say are the tell tale signs for anyone contemplating a career change?
KA:

  1. FirstlyI would say a lack of interest in your current income source or job – you really can’t be bothered!!
  2. A lack of vision or a future regarding your current job.
  3.  A lack of drive and the feeling that you’re not getting anywhere in your current job.  Incidentally you aren’t getting anywhere because everything you do in your current job seems a bore!
  4. Most obvious, you really don’t like your job and you’re just doing it for the money.

RWW: So give me three to five practical things someone in a similar situation could do.
KA:

  1. First, you’ll need to identify your dream career.  What’s that one thing you really enjoy doing?  That thing you enjoy doing so much you would do it for free?  After you’ve identified it, find a cheap yet convenient course – could be a one day course, could be a free course.  Nothing expensive, you’re simply testing the waters to see if you’ve identified your passion.
  2. No matter what your dream career is never ever belittle it as someone actually needs what you have to offer.  Your dream career is precious to you so be careful who you share your vision with – there are people that are going to think you’ve lost your marbles.  Get your inspiration from women who are doing what you want to do, the web, reading books, following bloggers, etc.
  3. Put your vision down, somewhere you can see it . Write it and put a plan is place.
  4. Things are not going to always fall into place no matter your plan so be prepared for failure, rejection and mistakes. Give yourself time to assess your failures,only a little time, then dust and pick yourself up and get moving. You must learn to accept rejection and failure before you can accept success.

RWW: How do you manage your time between all your responsibilities? Any tips?
KA: I write a to do list weekly, well I try to. The week of a wedding it’s about that wedding solely.  I’m up very early six days a week.  When I can’t cook because of the business I order home cooked food and  I get the rest of family to chip in big time with housework. I also get the children involved in my business admin and pay them a fee.  I always have a rest day where I do nothing, no matter what, because life is hectic I find I need it.

RWW: As a newbie in the events industry you would have made some mistakes.  What’s the one thing you would advise anyone to do?
KA: The one mistake I would say I’m making is not getting out enough to network. The advice would be when you’re starting your dream career you need to attend exhibitions and networking events. Get out and see what the competition is doing.

RWW: What do you find exciting about what you do?
KA: Every event is unique, no two events are the same  I really enjoy working from concept and bringing the clients vision alive.  I also enjoy putting order in a mess, it’s like being presented with a puzzle and me putting all the pieces together … Exciting !

RWW: And for anyone looking to get into events and wedding planning?
KA: This industry is not for the faint hearted.  Make sure this is what you really want to do. Find an affordable course there a number of accredited providers out there and go for it.  Don’t leave your day job till you’ve built up your reputation.

RWW:  You set up your business, Keji Aofiyebi Services, in January 2015. What has been your greatest achievement to date?
KA:  Right! My greatest achievement has been stepping out, training up and making the switch.  After a certain age we are told by the world that we are too old to make changes, I’ve literally refused to believe that. I think it’s a big deal to live your dream and I’m on the way to achieving that.

RWW: What are the low points?
KA: Building any business is very challenging and comes with it’s share of expenses.  No one warned me about that!

RWW: Every Wonder Woman has a cheer leading squad. Who are your champions?
KA: My family! They are always curious about my projects and what I’m up to. Plus they’ve all had to chip in with housework and cooking. My husband has had to do all that as well as act as chauffeur, handy man and critic who is not allowed to be critical LOL.  There’s also my good friend Valerie Elliot the hostess of a charity, Time Away With Jesus. She literally saw something in me I didn’t know I had and has been a cheerleader ever since.  I also have other friends who have been encouraging and cheering me on.

RWW:  I understand you are hosting a wedding exhibition.  Tell us a bit about it?
KA: This is me stepping way out of my comfort zone to showcase myself as a wedding plannerIt’s called ‘The Aisle‘, an event to showcase a couple’s core wedding needs for their big day.  I’m collaborating with four other industry vendors.  It’s taking place at Holiday inn Brent Cross, NW2 1LP on the 19th of June 2016.  The other vendors are:

Faces of Bodin – The makeup artist

Myrtle and Olive – The caterer

Ayanski – The aso oke and fabric designer

Lite house – The photographer

These really are the core of planning a wedding day. Everything else is built around these vendors so I think it will prove to be an exciting day.

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RWW: Thanks Keji. I wish you all the best.

On Staying in Your Lane

Last week I had a networking event. When I paid for the ticket there was a standard price and a VIP one. I looked through what the VIP ticket gave you and essentially it was a goodie bag and priority seating. I’m decluttering so I don’t want any more things in my home that I’ll only need to find space for or get rid of. On priority seating, I thought as long as I can hear, I’m good. Taking into consideration that the event was going to be in London and I had a train ticket to add on to my costs, I thought a standard ticket would do me just fine. These were all wise choices.

However as the day drew nearer and I read more about the speakers, I was starting to think maybe I should have paid the extra money for the VIP ticket. What if I missed out on something? What if someone important I was meant to meet would be in the VIP lounge and I never got to meet them? Would I stand out? Did I make a mistake? Am I not investing in myself as I should? What if I am the only one standing in the standard ticket line. 😨😨😨😨😨😨 *shock-horror-pass out* Aaaaaargh.

These thoughts started to niggle at me the night before but on my train ride to the event they became full blown and I started to get major butterflies. So I prayed and asked why am I feeling this way?

  1. It’s my money and no one has a right to judge how I spend it
  2. I have my own goals to meet and being financially smart is one of them. A VIP ticket does not aid my goal however not having one might look to others
  3. The goody bag is full of beauty products that I have no interest in so why feel bad plus I’m decluttering
  4. Who cares?
  5.  Did I mention it’s my money!!!

Sometimes you’ve just got to shut those thoughts down quick and fast. Don’t leave them any room to fester. Don’t analyse the historical lineage of the thoughts – just SHUT THEM DOWN.

Why? Cos they only have one aim, to pull you down and make you feel less than you are and they have no place in a child of God. I have too much to do and too much to achieve to be weighed down by useless, straight-outta-hell thoughts.

As it turned out, I wasn’t the only one with a standard ticket. 😂😂😂😂😂 I overheard a lady mention the fact that she was saving and had to pay for child-care to be there so a standard ticket it is. That’s what happens when you have goals, you make choices. I had a great seat and got to meet some of the people that I had planned to and met one that will be collaborating on an event with me. So pow wow to the stinking stunking thoughts. Imma be staying in my own lane.

  

Thought of the Day

At one of the Vision Board workshops I run,  a lady stuck this on her board.

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It was a poignant moment. Those four words were so few but were laden the truth that only comes through experience.

I think we sometimes get so caught up in looking after the needs of those around us and forget to look after ourselves. Before you know it, years have whizzed by and you still haven’t done those things that matter to you.

Maybe it’s time things were a little about you; if not a lot!

The Value of Friendship

I’m discovering so much more than ever that friends are important. Scratch that – people who genuinely have your best interest at heart are important. We need to surround ourselves with such people. We may never know when their counsel or strength may be needed but one thing’s for sure. When you are down they will be there to lift you up. When you are weak, they will be your strength. When you are sad, they will bring laughter to your lips. And when you don’t feel like laughing, they’ll give you a hug. That’s what true friends are there for.

Make sure you are surrounded by such people. For without them we are alone.

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