Saturday, 16 January 2010

One of those girls

(Strictly for the young)
SHE woke up the next morning in pain. If you had asked her which hurt more, the physical or the emotional, she would have been hard torn to give a straight and correct answer. It was a bit of both, one she could see, the other she only felt, and yet the scars ran deep.
The previous evening had begun easily enough. Okay, to be honest, it had been full of love and highs! As most evenings with him were.
The plan was simple. Go for karaoke, and come home. But the most simple plans sometimes crumble. And the most charming people sometimes become monsters at night.
For if he was anything, it was charming. Her father would invite him in and smoke a cigar with him on the porch. Or at least, they would want to, but with the rate of armed robbery going on in the area, more often than not, they simply watched television together and criticised the leaders.
Her mother would ask when he was coming and make a meal for him. Or to be honest, would want to make a meal for him, and end up getting pizza instead.
You see, unlike the ideal woman in that commercial that was on air for a while, her mother was a real woman, who could not do it well, and would not allow people make her feel less human or woman for that.
Her brother loved to shoot the breeze with him, although, he ended up always speaking about some girl or the other he was currently in love with.
Her brother loved to fall in love, it was on his list of ‘hobbies’, and if anyone ever wanted to pay him for it, he would gladly take it up as a profession.
That evening, her brother had spoken about Julie. Luckily, not the same one Shank had sang about.
As far as her brother was concerned, this Julie was the one. Or in this case, the one after the one after the other one that was forethought of as the one.
So, this boy was charming and the family loved him. One more week, a few more dates, and she would likely have been picking out aso-ebi, and possibly wondering where they would live.

BUT best laid plans... He had come in the evening bearing gifts. He loved to buy her gifts. Although he would find a way to ruin the gift for her the next week or so.
Like that time he had bought her chocolates, then one week later complained that she had put on weight. And when he bought her some CDs then threw them out the car window because he felt ignored.
You could not say there had not been warning signs. He had told her once, matter-of-factly, that she was stupid and should be grateful he found time for her. This was after she had worn a dress he did not like and had refused to read his mind and change it in time.
There were signs, but she weighed it, and the good and the bad seemed to either be at par, or the good was winning. I mean, how many guys remember silly things like the anniversary of the day I first admired your new haircut?
Yes, there were signs. But signs were signs. Or like Darey sang, Style na Style.
He came to pick her up. Advised her brother to take Julie out with his friends first to see if she would get along with them, watched television with her dad and proclaimed that Nigeria should become a course in the colleges (I mean, where else does the president rule from another country, a rich boy try to blow himself up, and people queue for fuel when there are refineries), and ate the pizza her mother had ordered even though her mom had forgotten he did not like olives. She knew he would mention it at some point between the first song at karaoke and the drive home.
But she could handle that. That’s what love entails, managing and handling.
And the drive was pleasant enough. They listened to some of their favourite songs and sang out loud to each other. They swapped stories about their day, and they fell more in love than they were yesterday.

But then karaoke began, and for some reason, today his voice was not on point, and he seemed to pick the wrongest songs. Who takes on Frank Sinatra unless they are sure? So of course, people giggled. She didn’t, but people did. And that upset him. So he wanted to go somewhere else. But she was sort of having fun.
So he stayed. And then he nagged the whole journey through.
And somewhere between the name calling and the general absurdity of it all, she snapped.
Because she had a fantastic dad who had brought her up with love. And she had a gentle brother who treated ladies well (then let them break his heart). And she had been in loving and respectful relationships in the past!

She wasn’t desperate. She had a good job, loving friends, and other ‘toasters’. So why should she sit in this car and listen to him rant and rave.
So she didn’t. She tried to put the radio on, and that’s when she realised there is always a thin line between verbally abusive and physically so.
It wasn’t even the slap that stunned her. For that came after the twisting of her arm, so she was prepared for it. It was the kick. It was so unscripted and out of place. Who kicks a girl?
And what kind of girl allows herself to be one of those girls that are in abusive relationships?
We sometimes sit and stare and talk. We wonder how and why it happens. And how and why they let it happen. But everyone of us is a step away from being an abuser or the abused.

Benefits of planning

INTERNATIONAL entrepreneur, Mary Kay Ash, once said, “many spend time planning a vacation than planning their life.”
It is easy to sit down and watch life slip off our hands when we do not consciously decide to plan how to achieve our goals and make our dreams come true.
Year in year out, people come up with their New Year resolutions. That is the first step to making the New Year your best year ever, but that is not enough. You need to write down your goals in their order of priority.
How do you set goals? For a moment, imagine what you would like to have if it were impossible to fail? If you can get anything you wish in your life, what would you dream of? When I asked a friend this question, he said he would like to be a billionaire. I then told him that he should have that at the back of his mind as a long-term goal.
I helped him to break his long-term goal into short-term goals, middle range goals and then, long term goals. You can set quarterly goals and yearly goals.
At times, you will realise that a series of short-term goals can help you to achieve your long-term goals.
Put your goals down. Take a piece of paper right now, and write down three things you will like to achieve. Set goals for your finance, family, friends, fun, faith, future and fun. How much would you like to earn or save? What plans do you have for vacations and corporate excursion? What plans do you have for improving your spirituality?
Every goal has a cost associated with them. Are you prepared to make the sacrifices commensurate to achieving your goals? When I was planning to be a columnist, I realised that I had to sacrifice some time to thinking, composing, and then typing my article on my laptop on a weekly basis. Don’t kid yourself. You will have to forego some things and you also have to get some of the things you don’t have.
Be specific about what you want to achieve. It is not enough to say that you want to shed some weights. Being specific means saying what you want to achieve in details. If one of your goals is to save up more money, being specific means determining how much exactly you want to stack up in time.
Stop procrastinating. Recently, I was talking to one of my clients. I asked her how far she has gone with her makeover company. She told me she was still thinking about setting up her office in her community. I later encouraged her to set a goal for her business in the New Year. If you want to achieve more this New Year, come up with a list of some of the things you have been procrastinating about, and set a goal to achieve them.
Be disciplined. Be committed to achieving your goals. Are you willing to take the risk involved in achieving your goals? In the word ‘goal’ the first two alphabets are ‘go.’ Don’t be too consumed with the details of how to achieve your goals. Go out there and take the first step. Make a phone call or send an e-mail to that person. Force yourself to do something no matter how little that will draw you closer towards achieving your goals.
Reward yourself. When you reward yourself after achieving your short term goals, your body will produce the necessary energy to achieve other goals. In other words, success breeds success.
Be focused. You can achieve almost anything in life if you have a plan of action and you are focused. Keep moving even when you fail. Note that every great achiever in the world has failed at one point or the other in life.
Make sure your goals are smart.

SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time bound. Once you are specific about what you want, then you have to be able to measure your progress. Setting goals that are attainable means you should be set goals that will stretch you a bit, but are easy to achieve. Being realistic is the ability to set goals for what you want in life, not what someone else wants for you. Time bound goals have a deadline.
Take action. Don’t be tempted to say I will set my goals later. It may be worthless reading this article if you don’t take action based on what you have read so far. It is not what we know that makes us successful, but what we do that makes a difference. This is my own way to make my world a better place. This is my way of achieving my goal to make a difference. Take charge!

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