Saturday, 24 June 2017

From Den Haag and Paris with Love: Lessons Learned format

Choose, because, Baby, Only You Can
I was anxious about going back to The Hague. As suspected, I broke down as soon as I walked into the reception area of my hotel. It was at this same reception that I had met my Sholly back then in March 2016 when she had come to visit me. It was also where we had hugged as we got ready to say our goodbyes as, 4 nights and 5 days later, I headed off to catch my flight back to Nigeria and she, her bus back to Poland. 


That was the last time I was to see my sister alive and while it still breaks my heart. I am so grateful to God for granting us that time. It took me some time to 'centre' myself by deliberately choosing to 'enjoy' re-living every moment I spent with her. I went to every shop we visited together. I went to every spot in C23 we stood on together and breathed. And smiled. And knew I'd be OK during my course. 
As long as I kept making the right choices. And I did. 
I chose to enjoy learning. I chose to participate fully. To be present. Afterwards, I chose to meet up with friends when normally I'd just curl up in a ball in my hotel room eating and watching TV. And talk about eating I chose to experience the new! Many things I'd have shunned before, I ate. Mussels! Sushi! Ceviche! I tried them all! Because you only live once! And I want to live my 'once' loudly.


To live loud, the first person you must treat good is you. Because you can't give out of an empty bucket. So, I chose to forget about everything and everyone that sought to steal my peace and focused on treating 'me' good. For me and equally important, in honour of Sholly. 
Lesson 1: Daily, we face situations or memories that seek to steal our joie de vivre. We face people that seek to keep us in our past. Beholden to our old selves. No. We must choose to not let them. And making this choice is something that you must do yourself. No one can choose life for you. It's your call. And you don't have to wait for anybody's permission.


To Choose Your 'Now', Letting Go is By Force

I left Nigeria deeply troubled. For reasons separate from Sholly and the dilemma of going or not going to Poland. 

I just felt broken-hearted as the scenes of my recent reality played over and over in my head. Being a wife and a mom to young adults can be so crushing sometimes. I cried part of the way; then watched 'Hidden Figures' and 'The Fence' till I got to my destination. Already shared how I got through the first day but do you know what I did to make sure I was not distracted in class?

I chose me. Yep. I packed all the issues, put them in a box, tied a pretty bow over it and tucked it away. You know, like men do. The only time I brought that box out was during any of the Hallelujah Challenges I was able to join. I handed my loved ones over to my PapaGod. You know why? Because I can't come and go and kill myself away! 


Lesson 2: I am a mom. True, I have some super powers but still, I'm not God. I am a wife and while it's true that the neck turns the head. Turning the head is sometimes not enough. The head needs a reset. The kind that comes from God. So, I have learned to take deep breathes and leave people to God. Let them make their own relationship beds. Pray over them as they struggle over the sheets and fluff their own pillows. Then step back. Bottom line? Sometimes, the most powerful thing you can do for a loved one is entrust them to  God.

To be continued❤️

P.S  I love these photos and dedicate this blog to these three ladies and all my course co-participants❤️. Thank you all for helping me create new memories. 

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Being 49

Salt in Yellow and Blue.
One of my birthday presents.
Thank you Debbie Akindele-Ojo!

First of all, Thank You, to every single person that wished me well, sent me prayers and bought me presents on my birthday. You don't know what you did for me. 

You were all part of a Sholly-led universal conspiracy. It is clear to me. The sad thoughts didn't stand a chance that May 26th morning when my My MGM and the children stormed our bedroom singing 'Happy Birthday' and thrusting cards and a cake in my sleepy face. It just set the tone for the day. I appreciate you all a whole lot and I am confident God will bless you all for me.

I think it was my first born son that asked me first. "So Mommy, how do you feel being 49?"

Honestly, many emotions have coursed through me these past few days but I have to confess that my first emotion was pain. The pain of loss. I feel it. I won't lie. Searing pain that makes me gasp each time it hits me. Three of the four people that made up my family till I was in my twenties have gone home to be with Jesus Christ. Never in my dreams did I foresee this and it hurts. But who does? It's there underneath all of my joyful gratitude. But my joy and my gratitude trump the pain of my loss. I thank God for that. His joy in me is bigger. Glory be to God because I know that can only be the work of God's Spirit working on me.

Gratitude. When I travel back over my life and think about the many blessings, near misses, misses, the highs, the lows and the outright blunders I have experienced and or survived. How, in spite of my many inspitables, God has continued to arrange the lines pleasantly around me, I just lay flat on the ground in gratitude and humble adoration to a God who loves me unconditionally. When I look around at the people that have made up the PeoplePillar around me through the different seasons of my life. I know that, for real, God has truly done me well. 
People sent me so many pictures of yellow roses. I loved that!
I have lived ten more years than my own mother got to live. My Sholly was just 36. I get to see my 49th year. Who am I that God has my time like this? There is nothing in me that makes me better than mom and Sholly. It's just God's Grace. I must appreciate this Grace. This is why I'm determined to let God know that the extra time he's given me will bring him returns. Plenty returns. And I'm determined to prove it to him one day, one action, one person at a time. 

Mindfulness. That's the next thing I'm feeling. More mindful of my time, my thoughts, my actions and most importantly the people I allow into my mind space. Every day, my simple prayer will be: "Papa, please bring only your will my way today. And please give me the discernment to distinguish it from all the noise around me". If the thought comes or the word is spoken or the person acts and my spirit tells me it's not part of God's will for my day? Salt is not home. Mute. Erase. Delete. Blank. Them. Period. 

God is intentional about all he does. I want to be like him. I don't want to wait till I'm 50 to start living my life. I want to begin now. Right this moment. One intentional day at a time. So help me God. 

And Dear One reading this, regardless of your current age, your time to live is NOW too. 

I'm re-reading Omilola Oshikoya's 'The Richer Woman' and along with my Bible and a good Bible Reading Plan, I think I'm in a good place to start living my best, richer 49 year old life now. 

Are you coming with me? 

Let's live Loud. Laugh hard. Let our Love be a verb. And yes, let's be Yellow😊🌻

Remember, from the moment we are born, we begin to die. So, make haste while you've got time. 

This birthday photo got my laughing out loud!
Sholly would have loved this too!

Thursday, 25 May 2017

My First Birthday

Something really strange happened today. 

I was going out of my building to attend a meeting. As I got out of the elevator, I looked down at my phone and froze. I had somehow started making a call. It was to Mrs. Gaska. My phone was calling Sholly. 

I didn’t even know what to feel. So I chose to feel good; I chose to believe that it meant she was thinking about me. I could not resist it. I called her number back and I got her voice message. ‘This is Shola; you know what to do after the beep”

I called back over and over even though I know it made no sense but it just felt good. I wondered how come her phone was still on, charged and able to receive calls.  I decided to stop thinking about that and just let it go. I chose, instead, to take it all as a good thing.  I could have let my mind go in so many ways but I chose to make it go towards positive thoughts of how this could only be a good sign. Abi?

I chose to just take it that my sister was thinking of me.  The way she was thinking of me when she wrote this birthday message to me back then in 2014.  






They must be proud of you. We all are.





Shine on, baby”

Even the way she typed messages brimmed over with life! All in caps! Who does that? My Sister, that's who! Larger than life herself. Oh Sholly! 

I had other messages from you in my Facebook inbox but all those are gone now. Thank God for this one you sent to me via Yahoo mail. Thank God. And I know I will still find that handwritten one that is even older than this one. Thank you Sholly. I have no words to express how much I miss you. But I promise; I am trying to shine on as best I can. I am trying to live my life loud in your honour and to the glory of God! I am trying to do legacy-enhancing things in your name. I am trying to be present for those that matter to me. I am trying....and I will may struggle sometimes, but I will not quit.

Bliss on my AburoChild. I will save some cake for you. Say hello to Mom and Prof for me. And Uncle Abiye. And Daddy. And Pastor Eskor if you have met him. 

No, don't worry, don't mind my tears. I have joy.

I am happy. How can I not be? I get to be 49 years old tomorrow!

What a wonderful privilege! What a testimony! 

Yes, a huge testimony of God's relentless love.

Happy Almost Birthday to me!

Glory to be to God!

Forever in my heart. My ShollyBabes. 

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Thank You Sholly

I've been writing this blog for weeks but all in my head. But it sort of makes sense that I'm finally posting it today. Mother's Day.  

It's just me thanking Sholly for everything I've learned, started doing,  and become since she's been gone. Because she's gone. 

In church today I was struck by the fact that it's been only five months. I feel like it's been a lifetime. And sitting there I just felt overwhelmed again. And with that feeling came this heavy cloud of sadness having to deal with my first ever Mother's Day without having Sholly to call. 

But blogging, writing has always been my "Go to" when I feel the way I'm feeling. Out of sorts. Scared. Confused. Sad. Angry. It's funny though because I had the best day ever yesterday. Starting with my time with the women at the well and rounding off with family time at a family wedding. So I was feeling so thankful but somewhere something shifted and refused to shift so I'm popping a 'blog pill' to pick up my mood. 

Yes, cos life is too short to be blue. That's one of the chief things Sholly has taught  me. Sure, life is a female dog sometimes but when I remember that every moment spent in any negative head space can't be bought back; when it hits me I'm wasting precious time my sister no longer has...... God uses it to help me re-jig my brain settings. I jump back into positive mode. I must. And you must too. Trust me, depression is from the devil. They even both start with 'D'. Thank you Sholly. 

Second thing Sholly has given me is another platform via which I can truly be Salt - The Sholly Adefolalu Gaska Foundation. I was just reading Omilola Oshikoya's The Richer Woman and she talks about how God uses broken vessels to bring forth beautiful things. There is no doubt, I'm a broken vessel. Becoming Salt was the outcome of being smashed to bits by life years ago but Sholly's death? It's been breaking on another level but as bad as the pain is it feels better every time her Foundation touches a life; creates a smile. Like her smile. Thank you so much Aburo. Thank you.

Holding on to hurt is a waste of my head and heart space. I won't do it. Letting people go is something else I'm doing better. Faster too. Because I am not guaranteed my next breathe. Sholly was here on December 24. December 28? Gone. Just like that. I believe she was ready. I want to be too. Ah no, I've run my Christian race too long to miss heaven because of some quarrel or misunderstanding over a matter that probably won't matter on my deathbed. That vex you are vexing? Think about it. Will it really matter if you found out you had one day to live? Or that the other person was dying?

Finally, Shola has taught me to stop trying to justify myself before man. It's not 'wert' it. It won't work. In 12 days, I'll be 49. Wow! I lived 10 whole years longer than my own mom. Thank God because not only will I outlive her I shall also refuse to do what she did. I shall refuse to let the thoughts of man send me to an early grave. Sholly, while 12 years younger than me was so wise. She would say: 

"Bola, You raised me. You are raising three great kids. If God's not pleased. Let Him tell you. Because He's your Boss. No one else".

And there you have the last reason why I'm thanking Sholly. She was my forever Cheerleader. Even when I shared my deepest, darkest secrets, she never judged me. Now, I know why. Clearly, God hired her for me. Because He knew that apart from teaching my Young 12 year old heart to love, she would also teach my 48 year old heart to live. Not just beat. 

Thank you Sholly. I miss you more than words can describe.

Still, thank you Aburo Mi Owon.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Meeting Olaoluwa, The Wise

I met Olaoluwa a little over two weeks ago and in the one hour we sat together, he taught me so much.

He showed me how much like my Papa, my Prof I had become. I clearly have the same mannerisms as my Papa around people like Olaloluwa. I even sang the same songs bringing them from somewhere very deep in my being. Places I did not even know still existed. Memories from way back, listening to my Papa sing the same songs and move the same moves, swaying back and forth. I was stunned for one is never conscious of what one is picking up from ones’ parents. It made me wonder what mannerisms, what songs, idiosyncrasies my own children are unconsciously picking up from me.

Then Olaoluwa yawned. 

No, it was not that I was a boring guest but yawn is what you do some times. Right? Looking straight at me, he yawned and instinctively, I made a clucking sound with my tongue because of all the times I had seen Nana do the same thing when she was around people like Olaoluwa who yawned in your face. Again, I smiled to myself. There is some Nana in me too. Nana is my mother-in-love by the way and clucking at yawns, blowing gently on foreheads to still coughs were things I saw her do many times. I did them too over the years and on this day, I found myself doing them in Olaoluwa’s presence.

We are products of every nurturer we have had. 

Not just parents to be honest. In small, invisible yet powerful ways we are the sum total of all those who, at some time or the other were present during our growing up years. I am the sum total of all those who had nourished me or mine and so are you. I said a silent prayer that God should please fix it that someday, my daughter too would be somewhere doing or saying something and then catch herself because, right there, in that moment, she had just seen me in her. In a good way; a way that would make her smile like I was smiling. As I realised that I was behaving more or less the same way Nana used to behave. Doing stuff that I used to laugh at wondering how on earth people could believe these things! Lol!

My conversation with Olaoluwa was rich and meaningful. 

I did most of the talking and he was quite patient with me. Listening as I spoke to his mother through him.  Just like Nana used to do. At some point, Olaoluwa’s Papa was in the room and I asked him, quite silly a question, if he knew who that was? Clearly, he did. But he humoured me as only the wise do. Allowing me to ask questions and answer them myself. Once in a while, actually seven times in all, he would bless me with a smile.

Even typing this I remember how I felt leaving Olaoluwa’s home that afternoon. I felt rich and alive. I, this woman knocking on the door of fifty had just been taught by a five week old baby how important it is to live worthy of emulation at all times. I know this seems like an odd near silly post but don’t miss the point.

You see, whether we like it or not, we are passing on some of us into our children. It’s not even something we can stop because it just happens. So I guess perhaps the prayer is that God should help all parents (social or biological and spiritual) so that whatever is passing down from us to our progeny does not result in them having to bare their souls to a Shrink or seek deliverance later on in their lives.

I am just saying.

Olaoluwa taught me this and he might just be five weeks old but I think he is on to something here.

You and I are the sum total of all our parents and our children will be the sum total of us.

Think about it for a moment.

Olaoluwa, The Wise, Salt & Arike, mother of The Wise

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Wear the Bottom Box Today

To be honest, I have never really had a ‘bottom box’. Special clothes, shoes or jewelry kept away to be worn for that special event. I am not even sure why. Maybe if I did, then I would still have all of my mother’s gold jewelry.

Where am I going with this?

Why don't you click here to read the full blog on Pulse.Ng?

Thank you


Sunday, 9 April 2017

Stirring the Embers

My world changed forever on December 28, 2016.

My sister, my AburoChild, Shola Adefolalu Gaska (Sholly) who, as far as I knew was an active and healthy 36-year-old was reported to have died in the hospital. Her husband Qba gave me the shocking news. As I type, I cannot tell you truthfully that I understand what really happened to Sholly. Anaemia, Fibroids, breathing problems and all sorts of confusing pieces of information were being thrown about. Anyway, on January 2, 2017, five days after she dies, her loving husband decided to cremate my sister without allowing ONE single member of my family see her. We are told that as her husband, he had the legal rights to do so. I guess, the law allows him to be heartless too.

Did we ask for an autopsy report? A million times. At first Qba sent us a report which when translated, turned out to be a sort of ‘death notification' and NOT an autopsy report. Next time we asked confronting him with his ‘lie’, he said that since the matter was now with the Police, they would send it to me the ‘official way’. I guess the time for the ‘official way’ has not come because I still do not have the report.

Are we sure an autopsy was even done? Well, we hope so and we have been told that the Prosecutor’s Office in Poland that is investigating this case ordered one and has the results.  Great, there is an investigation! Yes, from the Polish media, we understand this to be true. So, why can’t we get the information from the Prosecutor? Because contrary to what the Nigerian Embassy in Poland made us believe, the Polish Prosecutor is not investigating the case on behalf of the family. They are doing so on behalf of the Polish state. They don’t give a hoot about us. Or what do you want me to say?

For us to get any information from we need a lawyer to register us as ‘interested parties’ to the case in Poland. So, find and engage a lawyer, right? Yes, sounds easy but first we have to find one and then be able to pay him. We are still struggling on both counts. Oh, go to Poland yourselves, it will be easier to find a lawyer and also you need to see where ‘they ‘put Sholly. To go to Poland, you need a visa and the Polish embassy only one human being handling visas so every time you go to their website to seek an appointment date, what do you get? Yes, no available dates. I know. I have been trying since Feb 28. I will keep trying.

Anyway, so in January 2017, my family sent petitions to the following asking them to assist in unravelling the mystery surrounding Shola’s death and hasty cremation:
            The Nigerian President and the following leaders:
·         The Senate President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
·         The Honourable Speaker of the House of Representatives
·         The Majority Leader, Federal House of Representatives
·         The Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs
·         The Chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs
·         Senior Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs and the Diaspora
·         The Head, Nigerian Consular Section
·         The President, Republic of Poland
·         The Ambassador, Republic of Poland
·         The Mayor, City of Krakow, Republic of Poland
·         Policja General Commandant

I just want to thank EVERY single person that signed the  ‘JusticeforShola’ petition on platform. Your support was just phenomenal and I know it helped get our story out there.

A media conference led by Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin was held in February during which she called on the FGN to step in and help the family get the bottom of this matter.  In addition, several media, print and online have featured the story.

To date, the Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs has stepped in to the matter and thanks to him, the family was able to meet with the Polish Ambassador in Abuja on February 28, 2017.

We have also sent a request to the Attorney General of the Federation to help us take up this matter officially with the Polish Prosecutor’s Office. This was one of the steers we got from the meeting with the Polish Ambassador. We understand will give us access to information and will make the Polish authorities take this matter seriously. Sadly, the AG’s office basically told us it could not help and that we should go back to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In our country, clearly, you have to ‘know’ people to get help.  As God would have it, He is my MegaConnection. It’s all good.

I must thank the Polish Police Headquarters though as I did get a response from them acknowledging receipt of our petition. They said it 'was handed over to the Criminal Department Provincial Police Command in Cracow with the purpose of further verification'. That was on March 16. I guess they are still verifying as I have not heard anything since then. But at least they replied right?

Also, the Majority Leader’s office is also aware of the matter and has promised to bring it to the notice of the NASS.  For some reason, I have a lot of confidence in this promise. I pray I am right to do so. Do you know him? Maybe you can ask him how far for us too? Sometimes, I just ask myself: If a Nigerian man did this to a Polish woman here in Nigeria, where would he be right now? Yes, your guess is as good as mine. One thing is clear. He will not be roaming free forming 'I don't want to talk about it'.

Anyway, moving on, my family and I are very eager to get updates on this matter. We cannot afford for the story to go cold. We believe that is what the Polish family is hoping will happen. Their hopes shall be dashed because I will not allow this story go away. It might go quiet but never away and that is one of the reasons for this post. To stir the embers again.  

Maybe somebody who knows the Attorney General will ask him ‘how far’ for us. Why can’t his office help? Maybe somebody who knows the person that gives appointment for visa in the Polish embassy and will help somebody. Maybe somebody who knows the Gaska family will talk to them as ask them to just do the decent thing and tell us what really happened to my sister. Maybe somebody in this country Nigeria, somebody that has the power will demonstrate care and concern like Dr. Oby Ezekwesili did. Now, she acted like a real woman, a mother with a heart. Unlike some others. I shall not name names. But I hope ‘they’ read this and ‘they’ recognise ‘themselves’. All I know is no condition is permanent and Life is a boomerang. What you throw out? Be sure you will get it back.

So, let the embers be stirred quietly. Yes, Sholly rests but there shall be no rest for anyone that might have had anything to do with her passing. Yes, I am, daily, doing my very best to ensure that Grief does not become my middle name but there can not be any peace for anyone sitting on the truth in this matter. Let no one think that my silence on this matter means nothing is going on. 

I have stepped back somewhat to give God full room to do what only He can do. And dear people of the Gaska family, when God is working on something, he does not always show his hand.

But let all those who will get in his way be afraid.

Very afraid.
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