I used to worry a lot. I worried about my future instead of living in the moments of my present, counting my daily blessings and be grateful. I needed that to change, ’cause it was killing me ever so slowly and leading to obvious frustration. So at the beginning of the year, I got a mason jar and labeled it thanksgiving. Using sticky notes, I write all my wins; big or small and some L’s. Whenever I’m sad, disappointed, worrying, feeling ungrateful, stressed, depressed and such, I take out at least 5 of my sticky notes from my mason jar, read out my past blessings, and in a little time, I find myself smiling, feeling grateful and peace over my current situation. Doing this, I realized that worrying have robbed me of my faith and also prevented me from moving forward.
Now, going in depth of what I have learned from this new habit, I’d like to share my perspective on thanksgiving as a ‘progressing Christian’.
it is important to understand the relationship between joy and thanksgiving. If you are a joyful person, I can guarantee that you count your blessings loudly and daily. However, If you are constantly living with daily mood swings, depression, frustration and live most of your life in the depths of despair, the lifestyle of thanksgiving will be hard for you. I strongly encourage you show gratitude for the little things, it goes a long way. if you are struggling with sadness or disappointment in life, make a list of things for which you are thankful. Don’t stop at 5 or 10 … be generous in your thanksgiving and make a list of 20 … or 50 … or 100 things for which you are grateful (You can get a mason jar or a journal, something to just remind you to stay grateful regardless of your situation).
I strongly believe that, Thanksgiving is the password that opens the door of His (God’s) presence to His people. And in His Presence there is fullness of JOY! I believe that for a Christian, thanksgiving should never be reserved for merely one day of the year or only one season. Thanksgiving should be a genuine daily lifestyle. A grateful heart is the fertile growing place for the seeds of joy to spring up and blossom in abundance. When you carry joy in you be sure that it will radiate in all areas of your life, through your challenges and to all people you are surrounded by.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours and I hope we’ll always have reasons to be grateful and thankful!
Understanding the power and importance of intimacy has brought meaning to my life and has drawn me closer to the ONE who loves me. I’m learning to use every part of me to love and form the habits of intimacy by;
Having a sit place with him
I have to meet with him daily and share all that my heart feels
I tell him all about my situations because his presence gives me peace, joy and hope
He has the best words to say to me and his truth always set me free
So, I just obey whatever he speaks to me.
He tells me I have to have a truth-life preserver that entails the use of positive beliefs and words that I need to hold onto daily, no matter the struggle or difficulties
He reminds me of how easy it is for negative thoughts to creep into my mind, however there’s much power in positivity.
Finding a place of grace with Him
He taught me to meditate on his love for me
He tells me to always look around me at all times, and this will remind me that I am breathing and living in the truth that he loves me
He says, I should never try to be perfect, pretend, please or perform for him to receive his love because he loves me just the way I am.
Giving me a gift of forgiveness
He constantly reminds me of the need to offer forgiveness to everyone regardless of what they have done and who they are.
Making him my healing plan
While I’m in his presence, hearing his voice, I receive comfort, grace and find strength because he alone has the power to heal my broken heart and bind up my wound.
Walking my grief journey
He tells me to let go of all my thoughts and feelings of loss, anger, guilt and regrets in his stream
While I hold onto the healing words he speaks to me so I can receive all of his compassion and comfort.
Stepping out of troubles
He tells me to always make 911 calls to him and trust that it will always find its way to his ears
He tells me to be fearless, be still and watch what he will do for me in his response to my call in return.
For this, I worship him for who he is and what he’s done for me.
Walking journey in light
Constantly meditating on the beauty and strength that comes from living in the light of the presence of my lover
Replacing the feelings of unworthiness with the truth of his light and love
Trusting in his daily out pour of his perfect love into my heart
Now, I exercise the belief, that;
I’m made with love
I’m made for love and intimacy
Surrounded by love
One language I speak fluently is love
I AM LOVE because I am made in the image of my lover, God (the lover of my soul)
“Change is inevitable, but growth is OPTIONAL because it is only achieved through personal decisions and actions”.
When I said “damn, I grew” on my birthday. I didn’t say that because I added a new year. It was because I had experienced some changes that caused a shift in my growth; emotionally. I thought I was growing but not until last year when I experienced some series of events, I realized my growth was stunted. Truly a lot can happen in a short period of time, and growth happened to me, which I’m grateful it did!
I used to lack emotional intelligence, majorly self-awareness and self-regulation; sometimes referred to as self-maintenance. I thought I was smart, but I soon realized I was emotionally stupid. I realized I had no control of my feelings although I knew how to express them. I couldn’t balance identifying, evaluating, controlling and expressing my emotions. Most of all, I couldn’t perceive and assess others’ emotions. I didn’t even know how to effectively facilitate my emotional reasoning let alone understand emotional interpretations.
did I find out I was emotionally stupid? Sometimes last year, I told someone
about an ordeal I was currently experiencing at that time. He said to me, “Tobi,
I don’t mean to be rude, I know you are smart girl, but I think you aren’t
emotionally bright”. My head was ringing at that statement. I was like, WHAT???
*in my Soulja boy’s voice* It felt like I was sitting on an electric
chair because all I could feel was vibrations running through my entire body. I
asked him to explain what he meant and when he did, I got really angry knowing
fully well that was my reality. Once we parted, on my way home, I couldn’t stop
replaying what my friend said to me, I cried on realizing how stupid I have
been all this while.
night, while I was thinking, I decided to do a little research on emotional
intelligence. Even though I have heard the word before, I never knew it was a
thing. I was well aware of IQ, intelligence quotient but ignorant about EQ,
emotional intelligence. My research on it, brought me into light, helped me
know my truth and set me free from my self-inflicted emotional bondage. As a
matter of fact, I took an emotional intelligence test and my score was 46
(below average) using this website;
Last night while drafting this piece, I took the tests to see how much I have improved, I got a score of 83 using the first link and a score of 130 using the second link. “Nice improvement”, I said. These scores are evidence that I indeed experienced a great shift in my emotional growth. Please, do bear in my mind that the test is not hundred percent accurate at measuring your emotional intelligence. It only gives an indication of your general emotional intelligence but does not measure the complexity of a person’s emotional sensitivity, thought process and understanding. However, it gave me some insights on how to work on myself. So, if you want to have a little knowledge about where your emotional intelligence level falls, then you can use any of the links to test yourself. (By the way, the first link takes about 45-50 mins to complete the test, provides summary evaluation and ways to improve but you would have to pay an optional fee of 10 USD)
I wanted to grow emotionally; to be a better person for myself,
so I cut off the negative things and people I felt were affecting my growth. I made
an intentional effort at controlling my emotions by knowing and accepting my
weakness, without allowing them to hold me back. I learned to tell myself ‘no’ just
as I tell others “no”. I’m a totally extreme person. There, I said it. “I do it
with passion or not at all”. It’s either I love you or I don’t. I’m that girl
that would rather get hurt than play by the rules. I’m either straight down the
line, the practical high-flying pragmatic thinker that’s hell-bound on achievements
and often loses her sense of humor. Or I’m the crazy, silly, fun, wildly
carefree girl. I drive like a maniac trying to get to my destination just to
avoid being late yet would not use my time wisely beforehand. Living in the
extremes, I can tell myself, “I must follow my head, and not my heart.” Or “I
must follow my heart and ignore my head.” It just always feels impossible to
have a bit of both. Sighs!
However, I’m learning to find a balance and I can tell you
for sure that it’s been hard but I’m working it. I’m learning to consciously listen
and find an equilibrium between my internal masculine and feminine energies; my
masculine energy once dominated my mindset causing me to be single-minded and stubborn.
Now, I allow my feminine energy to take the forefront and be more guided by my
instincts. With this awareness, I have learned the flip side of being an
extreme; how ruthless and toxic this can be. I realized, I had taken myself and
some people prisoners in my mind. And this has led to imbalanced extremes of emotions
such as desperation, frustration, ongoing anxiety, fear, insecurity, which has
caused some damages.
Now, I know it is just an outlook I learned and developed
over the course of my life. So, I go easy on myself by learning to grow away
from it, simply because I know it does not serve me the way it used to. Every
day, I take a step back, embrace my feminine energy, while controlling my
masculine energy, have a little laugh about it and with some patience, I’m
slowly regaining myself into some balance.
Hey, rockstar! I want you to travel with me like you did on Instagram and snapchat and let’s see how my trip went together. Are you ready? Make sure you fasten your seat belt, as the plane is about to take off… up, up and away.
6 hours later, welcome to Montego Bay, Jamaica.
Before we leave the airport, I need you to know this was a very spontaneous trip. My birthday is on 5/2 and I didn’t want to be in Chicago or any part of the US to celebrate it. I wanted to be in another country, chilling, while forgetting about all my worries. In February, I had written out 4 countries I would like to be at on my birth-day, this includes; Thailand, Peru, Barbados and Jamaica; however, I was not proactive about my plan. April came along, and I still was undecided, although I had different tabs opened on my laptop for hotels and airlines, the expenses were not in favor with my budget. One night while being really serious about taking this trip, I recalled a friend had just recently traveled to Jamaica, So I reached out to her and she gave me all the information I needed to get me a good deal for an all-inclusive package, this was about a week to the end of April. Then comes another obstacle; telling my dad about my intention of traveling to Jamaica alone. My dad wasn’t happy and obviously not in support of me traveling alone. He sounded so worried, so it discouraged me from paying for the vacation. On 4/26, Friday night, I was pouring out my heart to God, letting HIM know how bad I really wanted to travel and other things, and of course, I went to bed in the mid of my conversation with God. Well, waking up on saturday morning, I felt this peace of mind, called my dad and he said “Just because you don’t want to share your cake with your siblings, right? Well, you can go but you must be really careful and make sure you give me all the information about your trip and address of the resort you will be staying at”. Geeked up to hear my dad’s approval, I called the number on the all-inclusive package and booked my flight and made hotel reservation for 4/29 through 5/6.
Now in Jamaica
At the MBJ airport I changed 100 usd (US dollars) to 10450 Jmd (Jamaican dollars) because some lady kept persuading me to change it, saying “it will be useful at the local market”. But it was all lies and i actually got ripped off.
WARNING; DO NOT CHANGE YOUR MONEY AT THE AIRPOT. GET INTO THE CITY, GO TO BANK AND CHANGE IT AT THE BANK.
My Jamaican Bae, Bryan, informed me about this when we met. I’ll tell you about him later, stay tuned!. Anyways, with Bryan’s guidance, I changed 100 usd to 12800 jmd at one of the local bank’s ATM machine (Bryan had calculated the difference for me and told me what to change). Do keep in mind that your bank will charge you foreign exchange rate plus non-bank ATM fee. On the shuttle bus, heading to the resort, the first thing that was sold to me was marijuana; street name weed, blunt, or whatever you call it. I didn’t buy it because all I could think of was, ‘Tobi, you are alone on this trip, no one to check you and before the American embassy will find you ehn, that’s if they even look for you…”
Quick fact; marijuana is legal in Jamaica and you are allowed to carry at most 2 oz with you. If you are found with more than 2 oz, you will be charged between 5-10 usd.
Transportation- I think it is better to rent a car if you will be exploring the city a lot. Cabs are quite expensive especially from the resorts. I mean you can bargain prices with them but the least amount you will spend is about 40 usd depending on how close your destination is to the resort. Most cars in Jamaica are right-hand drive, but I heard they have some left-hand cars (I didn’t see any). You can request for a left-hand car if you do not feel comfortable about driving a right-hand car. Bryan, Jamaican Bae was my personal chauffeur, so I did not rent a car. Ja Bae was willing to drive me anywhere, but I had occasions where I filled his car with gas. Lest I forget, gas is very expensive in Jamaica.
Activities/site of attractions
There is an endless list of fun activities and adventures you can do in Jamaica, however, make sure you have your money. Montego Bay is the center for tourism in Jamaica, so you have a lot of tourist attractions here. Below is a list of activities I did in bold, and other activities I did not get the chance to do due to my budget and time.
Mobay Snorkeling tour
Bus tour from Montego Bay to St.Ann and Ocho Rios
Cool runnings Dunn’s river falls day cruise
Captain’s water sport (did this at my resort). You might be able to do this at the resort you stay.
Local market tour
Clubs; Magaritaville beach club and Pier One (packed with tourists, no feel of Jamaican reggae or dancehall vibes) Other activities are;
Dolphin swim adventure (Dolphin cove)
Yaaman adventure park
Bob Marley’s place/meseum
Black river safari (Ys falls and Appleton)
Falmouth mystic/luminous lagoon
Martha Brae river rafting
Couples Nude beach
Doctor cave’s beach club and it goes on and on and on. (DO YOUR RESEARCH!)
Below are some pictures and videos of me snorkeling, at the dunn’s river, boat cruise and at captains’s water sport.
Jamaica; her culture and people
Jamaica is a vibe. Every Jamaican has a vibe and you will feel it but guess what? It’s all good vibes. I love how they say, “Jamaica, no problem!” Here’s for my ladies; once you use the geofilter such as Jamaica, montego bay, your resort, the beach or whichever jamaica location filter, just know that their men are coming for you. Jamaican men are flirtatious, persistent, courteous, playful, funny and friendly. No pun intended; from the airport, when I first landed, to my resort, at the tourist sites, at the beach, on the boat, everyday, till my departure, I received more compliments in 6 days than I have received in the last 4 months. I loved the way they say, “my lady” and make sweet comments about my melanin (dark skin) and how beautiful I am. If you easily fall for men sweet talk, you just might risk it all and start living in Jamaica or marry one, LOL!. Nigerian men are learners beside the Jamrock men, trust me!. Jamaican men might just be the real OG sweet boys or should I say ‘fuck boys’, hahahaha. Their music! I’m in love with their music. The beat, the style, I enjoyed every bit of it. SUCH A VIBE! One annoying thing about Jamaicans is that; they are very exploitative. They laugh it off when ypu tell them they are ripping you off, which makes it annoying. They exploit Americans a lot especially American women. They are aware you got the money, so they will exploit you. They will help you spend your money and make you spend the money (if you know what I mean). Overall, Jamaicans are awesome people and I had fun being around them.
Bryan, my Jamaican Bae (this is how i actually saved his number, lol).
Without exaggeration I had about 15 Jamaican men in my IG DM through my whole stay but the first person to send me a DM was Bryan. He got in my DM to let me know that I was ‘scammed’ at the airport. While the other men had pictures and all, Bryan had no pictures, I could barely see his profile picture. My curious cat wanted to see what man looked like lol, hence, I kept conversation with him, requested for his picture and we met. I let him come to my resort, we talked for a while, getting to know each other, and like everyone, he was surprised but also found me brave to have come to Jamaica alone. Bryan is so sweet and friendly; he took me everywhere I want to go. Advised me on how to exchange my money for better rates, where to get cheap souvenirs, bargain prices for me, taught me a few Jamaican words/slangs, took me to the clubs, drove me around town. Even on the day he was unable to drive me to town, he sent his 64 years old uncle to come pick me up from my resort, took me to the market to do my little shopping and made sure I made it back to the resort safe. I made him listen to Naija music and I also jammed to Jamaican music (vibes). And yes, I smoked marijuana with Bryan and it sure did feel good! He is so sweet, *blushing*. Bryan, if you read this; thank you for being so good to me, being part of my trip and for making this trip one i’d never forget. *winks*
So, Yaaman, I’m sure you would agree that my my trip was mad fun and exciting. I am definitely having more solo trips, God keeping me alive. This trip was life changing for me and I encourage everyone especially my ladies, to take a solo trip at least once in their life time.
OCHO RIOS, JAMAICA, will be the place I visit on my next trip to Jamaica.
The popular word for this is called C-E-L-I-B-A-C-Y. Meanwhile, I prefer to call it ‘Purity Journey’ or ‘Road to Purity’ because I think people see celibacy as not getting the sex when it should actually be you starving yourself from the sex. Not getting sex is different from having it right on your table and sternly telling it, “I Don’t Want!”
Like every road on the streets, there are; potholes, bumps, sharp turns, sometimes narrow, other times wider and smooth. And like every journey in life, there are; self-discoveries, sense of self-worth, chills, thrills, challenges, obstacles, regression, progression, time to reflect, refuel, etc. All of these descriptions and more is exactly how my journey to staying pure have been. No lies, it’s been a struggle, but I have a spirit-man that is constantly awakening my soul to do better.
My decision to staying pure was made after I broke up in August 2016 with my first boyfriend of few years. I had come to the full realization that sex does not necessarily sustain a relationship like many people believe or would say. Not that we didn’t possess other qualities to keep the relationship fire burning, however sex was part of what kept us going, since we were in a distant relationship. I made the decision when I told my mom that we broke up. I had called my mom to let her what happened, and she asked me to come home.
Mom: these things happen but it will get better.
Me: *crying* but I love him. This isn’t fair. I was really hoping he’d be the only one i would have to love all my life.
Mom: well, it will be alright. I hope you weren’t sexually active with him?.
Me: *in my head* ‘we have been together for too long for you to think we haven’t been having sex. With my head bowed; yes, I have been having sex with him .
My mom so disappointed and furious yet trying to be calm because she didn’t want to be insensitive to the pain I was feeling at that moment.
Mom: And you didn’t tell me. Are you serious? Why would you have sex with a man you are not married to. With all the life lessons I have shared with you. You don’t need to look far to know all of this, a lot have happened to people around you and that’s where you should be learning from. Well, you will be alright…
At midnight, I heard my mom crying while she was praying and asking God to forgive her for not raising me right. I could not comprehend it. Why is she crying? Why is she the one asking God for forgiveness? Why does she think she didn’t raise me right because I had sex? It was this event that led me into making a ‘so-called promise’ to myself. A promise I have not genuinely upheld. I have found myself in different compromising situations, trying to work or build a relationship just because I was not true to myself or my promise. Now, that I’m genuinely waiting, I’m learning that it is easy to dwell on the loneliness when you are trying to honor the gift of sex and wait until marriage. But I know that the worst loneliness lies in the aftermath of compromise.
Here are my Tobi’s nuggets; if you have not been deflowered and you genuinely want to wait, do not let anyone compel you into giving it up (I’m referring to both my ladies and gents). I know virgins of both genders, some who are close relations. For those who are actively sexual, please use protections. As an epidemiologist, I like to over emphasize the use of protections. Keep your condoms in your wallets! Now, if you have given it up at one point or the other and you’re thinking of ‘reclaiming’ it and want to wait just like me. I’d like you to know it can be difficult but achievable, you just have to be determined to be governed by your VALUES, not your heart.
Purity has values!!!
And here is how I try to remind myself that the journey is worth it. I always remember that, my road to purity;
Is a process, because I still mess up and have to get back on track…
Is governed by its values or I might forget that I have a promise to keep to myself (it is very important to maintain some mystique!).
Allows me to dream of the future, because it will keep my marriage fresh. (I have a desire to be married one day). I dream about my marriage and that keeps me falling in love with ‘my life partner I’m yet to meet’ or maybe we have met, and I don’t know.
Speaks boldly so that I can keep my life partner on track spiritually while he does the same for me.
Watches burning flames. My mom is my favorite burning flame. She has been faithful to me and has helped me to make right choices throughout my life’s journey.
Embraces wise guidance because I am still learning who I am through my singleness and how that fits into who my life partner is.
Helps me to love my creator at all cost. My road to purity is a covenant relationship with God. My faithfulness to God is a portrait of what my faithfulness will be to my life partner.
Let it be known that I don’t led a perfect life. However, my spiritual motto is “my sins are great, but His love is GREATER”. So, what can separate me from the love of Christ? NOTHING
On the train, going to school, got bored and decided to open my bible app. To be honest, sometimes I open it for the fun, just to keep my streak going. You know the Youversion (bible app) give you streaks for studying the word everyday. Today, I opened the book of Matthew and boom chapter 25. I think I was led my the Holy Spirit because there were some revelations revealed to me. While walking to the train station, I was just talking to myself (I do this quite often when I’m alone). I was evaluating myself and how much progress I have made so far in this year. Yea, I’m sure you would say we are barely in the second month of the year. Well, my motto for this year is “I am not doing mediocre things, because I am better than an average…”. Genuinely searching within myself, I knew I was not working the motto 100 percent, so I have to do better. I said a quick prayer “Lord teach me what and how to do things better than an average”. Now, in the train, I’m studying Matthew 25, getting to verse 14 through 30. And I’m like mmmmhhh, preach! You know how we do it when our local pastor trigger our souls with their teachings lol. Well, I begin to get revelations from these verses. Let me share them with us.
1.) We have all been given one, two, three or more talents by the maker; now the question is are we aware of the or these talents? If yes, are we using them as intended by our maker. It is very important we find our talent/gift. My definition of talent is something you are so good at doing, love doing and find joy and passion while doing it. Passion is the beginning of achievements.
2.) You have to believe yourself; verse 19 of the chapter reads that the third servant took that one talent/gift and hid it. From my understanding, I think the servant did not believe in himself to work the talent/gift that was given to him. So he thought he would just let it be. This is what happens when we don’t believe in ourselves. We let our gift just lay dormant within us, when we should be working it.
3.) Believe in your potential/gifts that you have if you know it; if the third servant believed in himself, he would have been able to believe in that one gift that was given to him. And he would have been able to work it so it can yield him more gifts or opened doors of greatness and blessings for him like the other two servants. The other two servant who worked theirs, got blessed by the King. I think this is what God does for us when we work with what He has given to us; proverbs 10:4, 12:24, 13:4….
4.) Not working your potential/talent/gift is a SIN; verse 30 reads that the unprofitable servant was casted into greater darkness and there was weeping and gnashing of teeth. I’m trying not to sound harsh, but the truth is, if you don’t work your potentials or gifts to life and fulfillment, God will ask you about it on the judgement day. I pray we don’t go to hell because we didn’t work our gifts into fulfilling God’s purpose.
5.) Avoid negative people and naysayers; the type of people we keep around us have influence on us. Stay away from people who don’t believe in you and in your dreams.
6.) Stay away from sin; sins prevent us from fulfilling God’s purpose in our lives. It can also cause us to extend the time of our blessings and breakthrough.
7.) Spend quality time with God; this is of utmost importance. When we spend time with our maker, He is sure to reveal our talent(s) to us. Strengthen our minds, so we can believe in ourself and the talents/gifts He has given to us. Let us know if we are using our talent in the way He intended. Help us filter negative friends from our lives. Most of all help us not to fall into temptation.
Sometimes working our talent/potential/gift is what brings the breakthrough we have been longing for.
Inspired by the Holy Spirit from Matthew 25: 14-30.