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Author Archives: Neetah

10 Rules every squatter should live by

Has a friend or family graciously offered you accommodation rent-free? Here are 10 rules to live by so that you co-habit peacefully and amicably without hidden grudges or questions aimed at your home training or lack thereof. 

When in Rome act like the Romans except you are squatting. A squatter cannot take the same liberties as a guest. Guests stay for a couple of days at most so the family doesn’t really mind any inconveniences but a squatter has to earn his rent in good deeds or emotional and physical currency and here’s how.

1. Do household chores 

No one is asking you to be the help but you can’t stay in someone’s house and be lazy. Even if they have help still find something to do even if it’s just cleaning your room. The help does not work for you!

2. Don’t use household items indiscriminately 

Don’t borrow something without asking or finish an item in the house without asking first or informing someone after it gets finished and if you can, replace any items used. 

3. Remember the kitchen has jurisdictions 

Don’t eat any and everything you see without asking questions.  Don’t take the biggest meat in the pot or the last of the groceries without asking someone. Don’t leave your plate unwashed in the sink. Offer to do the cooking every once in a while. 

4. Contribute to the household’s upkeep 

Nothing is too small. You can buy groceries every month or pay the DSTV, PHCN or WIFI bill. You can offer to buy some diesel for the generator or just buy a thoughtful gift for them every once in a while; monthly if you are a salary earner. You can even give money from time to time or have your parents do one of the above if you are not working. 

5. Inform them on time if you are going to be home late or you are not coming home at all

It is simple courtesy really because these people are responsible for you and may actually stay up late worrying about your whereabouts, besides you wouldn’t want to be locked out of the house based on assumptions. 

6. Join them in the family activities that actually matter 

Don’t lock yourself in the room when the family is praying or exempt yourself from family activities because you think you are a stranger. People don’t invite strangers to live with them so they already see you as part of the clan. Don’t alienate yourself because that would just be awkward for everyone. 

7. When on their turf, abide by their rules

You are not exempted from curfews, decent dress codes or other household rules that apply to the people in the house. They may not complain when you do wrong but it leaves a negative lasting impression.

8. Don’t bring someone home without prior warning

They agreed to let you into their private space not your entire squad. Remember they need their privacy and personal space. Don’t make their home uncomfortable for them and certainly don’t have sex under their roof!

9. Don’t gossip about the goings on in the house 

No reports or gossip about the intel you are privy to. You are not a spy. They don’t speak in code around you because they trust you. Do not betray that trust. 

10. Don’t let overfamiliarity make you cross boundaries 

Don’t borrow clothes, shoes or other personal effects without due consent. Don’t interfere in relationships or get a smart mouth because you’ve been there a long time and when there are disagreements because those are bound to happen, do not let moving out be your first response; instead settle differences amicably and respectfully without feeling like you are being treated differently because you are an outsider.

Remember that these people not only put a roof over your head but also offer you creature comforts like food, security, ttransport, wifi, medication, toiletries and some form of emotional support. Things you’d no doubt have to give out chunks of your salary or allowance to pay for if you were living alone. Treat them with honour and respect and the same way you would treat your flesh and blood and while you are at it, let your stellar home training make your mama proud. 

Have a great night Chutzpah fam,

XOXO

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Posted by on October 5, 2017 in Urban Culture

 

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The Rumble!

It rumbled and I quickened my pace, breaking out in a cold sweat, my house no where in sight. I felt another wave of regret wash over me as I broke into a run. I slowed down when I noticed the lascivious look on the face of the guy walking towards me. I hastily tried to gather my composure and give him my best version of disdain. It rumbled again even more loudly and I gave up, panic replaced the forced disdain on my face. I needed to get to my house before I was swept away, engulfed in the tsunami that threatened me. I started jogging. 

“It’s marvelous that you are keeping fit, I see you girls every evening but jogging is much better than walking. Yeah that’s it…”

I could barely offer a polite smile at the intrusive stranger. He had no idea that my world was about to collapse. That the sweat was not from exertion but from anxiety. I needed to get to my house on time!

21….22…..23

I took five deep breaths in close succession and continued counting. 

You can beat this…don’t succumb. My t-shirt was drenched in sweat. I heard the rumble again…much louder this time and my heart sank. I kept walking because I was too afraid to imagine what would happen if I stopped. I just kept walking…

I do not remember getting through the gates or turning the key in the lock or even ditching my clothes as soon as the door slammed shut. I only remember the relief that washed over me as I sat on the toilet and with one last rumble, let go…

I’m never touching milk again! Said the lactose intolerant girl for the umpteenth time. 

Sigh…we never learn!

Are you a little like me, thoroughly in love with something that’s so bad for you and willing to risk it all for a little taste every single time? Do you make penance afterwards with dozens of promises soon to be broken at the slightest whiff of temptation?

We all have our weaknesses but saying no to them is a skill we must acquire and master or else one day we’ll be so engulfed that we won’t make it home on time. 

So what’s yours? A secret addiction? An extramarital affair? Whatever it is you need to kick that habit before it ruins all you hold dear. The thrill and the danger are not worth the cold sweats, nervous shakes and dread that usually follow and perhaps like me you have become accustomed to this weakness and a little hardened, ready to bear the consequences like a Gee, remember that you may have to pay the wages for those sins very publicly and like me, almost crap in your pants in the middle of nowhere all for the love of milk…

#kickthehabit

Have a lovely night chutzpah fam,

Shout out to all the lactose intolerant people in the world.

Xoxo

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2017 in Memoirs

 

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When neighbors cross boundaries

Yesterday evening we had some friends over and as we saw them to the door, we noticed my neighbors were by my door chirping away excitedly. My landlord is not aware of this set of tenants as hubby and I never informed him of their illegal occupancy. They have a little shelter just by the door and hubby and I decided to live and let live and contribute our little good to the world by letting them stay. Anyway last night one of them must have been feeling pretty excitable because the next thing he was in my house right after I had just confidently assured my friend that our neighbors never ever overstepped their boundaries! Hubby was on the other side of the door and slammed it shut so that neighbor number two wouldn’t tag along, leaving our friends and I outside shouting unsolicited advice about the best way to get rid of the uninvited guest. 

‘Put off the lights’

‘Chase him towards the door’

‘Don’t let him get past the sitting room’

His partner turned her head mournfully from side to side, awaiting the lynching of her rogue love. And finally le boo was able to get the intruder out of our house and I think the adrenaline in my veins went down a notch.

Yes I have two cute birds living in a nest of twigs just at the entrance into my house and yes it took me a while to get over the fear of creatures flying at random in my personal space. They had never misbehaved till last night and now I’m not sure if I can trust them anymore. Real life neighbors are a bit like that. Unpredictable! I have had all sorts of neighbors in my 30- something years on the planet and have decided that boundaries must be set from the get go so that cordiality is not mistaken for foolery. It’s odd because I grew up watching the British series ‘Neighbors’ and singing ‘…that’s why good neighbors become your friends…’ and I have had a few friendly neighbors however erring on the side of caution is still best.

People generally are as unpredictable as those birdies. They allow curiosity get the better of them often to their detriment. Why that bird who had watched us open and close our front door every day for over a year decided that he’d try to get inside that evening beats me but I can understand where he was coming from. So many of us are on the outside looking in and waiting for just the right moment to take the leap that would potentially change our lives but can we take a moment to think about what boundaries we may inadvertently cross in doing so. Who would be hurt in the process or get burned? Whose trust would we have to betray? Sometimes crossing certain boundaries may leave irreparable damage so tread carefully in your relationships, your businesses and life in general. 

Have a great night!

Lots of love chutzpah fam,

Xoxo

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2017 in Memoirs

 

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10 personal lessons 5 years of marriage have taught me (10)

The last lesson in this series, certainly not the least and definitely not the last I learned in 5 years because there are countless more lessons that have been learned and are still being learned. Marriage is a lifelong work in progress and with each passing day we glean a little more wisdom.

So drumroll please……

10.  Be open to learn from others even amidst criticism. 

Marriage is like school, there will always be people who have been married longer than you have and people that have less mileage than you have in the marriage school. You can learn valuable lessons from anyone and everyone and learn disastrous ones likewise. People especially Nigerians are always ready to give advice (usually unsolicited) at the drop of a hat. 

Don’t be aversed to listening but be careful about what you internalise.

Better to ask questions than die in silence or assume everyone is walking with the same thorn in their side…

Since I got married, I have learned tons of new things. I could write a book about my now impressive and still expanding knowledge base. From learning how to make my life easier in the kitchen (powdered beans for moimoi, tinned palm fruit for Banga soup) to learning and perfecting dishes from various tribes (ofada, edikainkong, black soup) even lessons in the bedroom (the things the karma sutra forgot to teach you)….There’s so much to learn and tons to unlearn but you have gotta remember that Google is the ONLY knowledge base that provides 100% solicited, unbiased advice without any form of criticism or judgement! Humans won’t be that kind or tactful in their delivery. I have had people complain about wicked in-laws who criticized everything they did when said in-laws were just offering unsolicited advice apparently from a place of love. Realise that in marriage advice will not always be sugar coated, a lot of it may damn well bruise your ego but if you are willing to learn one day you will attain advice- giver status. Don’t be so fast to throw every advise giver into the haters box and nail the lid shut! 

The first time I had to make banga soup from scratch for the in-laws, it was the joint effort of Google, my mum (via telephone), the Holy spirit and my humble self. Hubby is used to me taking my phone into the kitchen and performing magic especially for the meals that are gracing our tables for the very first time and he is always impressed at the outcome (so never be ashamed to solicit help). By the next time, I’m now a don and fishing out recipes to women who need them and that’s life basically. Don’t get ticked off when someone or anyone offers you advice about how to do something better. Yes there would be a lot of toxic, unsolicited and frankly useless advice from people who constantly criticise because they themselves need personal validation but keep a cool head let them talk and then you do what is in your heart to do. 

If the question is too personal or embarrassing, just ask Google. There’s nothing new under the sun. 

After five years of being married I have realised that you are never too old in the business to unlearn something or learn something new and that advice can be from a woman who isn’t married, one who has been married for only a few months or one who has been married for over 30 years. 

Give an ear but don’t give your heart till you are sure it’s good advice!

Have a lovely Saturday chutzpah fam,

A new series begins tomorrow!

xoxo

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2017 in Inspirational

 

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10 personal lessons 5 years of marriage have taught me (9)

Already on the 9th lesson! Time really does fly. Thanks so much for the feedback. The love and support have been so amazing. I was a tad afraid when I started this series because it’s very personal and as Nigerian women we are encouraged to never talk about our marriages. One or two well meaning people have expressed some concern about how deep, honest and ‘raw’ these posts have been but if they give someone insight and maybe save a marriage or two from mayhem then it’s worth every bit of honesty and time invested into it. 

So without further ado, here’s the 9th lesson 5 years of marriage have taught me. 

9. Don’t sacrifice your dreams on the altar of marriage. 

A long time ago, when I was still a las gidi belle getting wedding proposals upandan a man asked me to marry him. He was cute, comfortable and seemed genuine but he said something that was a serious dealbreaker for me. He didn’t want me to be a doctor after we were married. He would get me a nice boutique somewhere posh and I would spend the rest of my days selling fine fine clothes to women and men. I had done a double take back then. After 6 years + X in medical school, I would end up treating fashion emergencies instead of real people just to satisfy his whims? Naaaaaah!

Ask yourself these questions; What are your personal goals? Are you still in line with them days/months/years after marriage? 

Don’t ever lose yourself! It’s so easy to. You had dreams before you got married. 

I had lots of dreams, get an MPH, do a residency program, become a Consultant….amongst others and my husband has encouraged me to achieve each and every dream even when I wanted to give them up because of prevailing circumstances. It’s the exact same thing I do for him. You are not allowed to narrow your qualifications to the single but obvious one of being somebody’s spouse or mom, because one day the kids will be out of the house and hubby will be busy doing whatever it is he has always done and you are gonna look at yourself in the mirror and remember the little girl who wanted to be a pilot! 

If your dreams are important to you, put them on the table when marriage is being discussed. They should not be unexpectedly thrown at a spouse months into the marriage when he suggests you be a stay at home mom. Many women have come to resent their husbands because they gave it all up for him to be great and he (human that he is), didn’t show the right amount of eternal gratitude!

Marriage is a lifelong journey and personal satisfaction and fulfilment are as important as marital fulfilment. I’d rather be part of a power couple than only be the vehicle on whose back my man rose to greatness. Don’t get me wrong, I would be that vehicle if he needed me to be (all day, any day) but it would be a more fulfilling sacrifice if I knew that he was as committed to my success as I was to his. Marriage is a partnership and two can do so much more together than one could possibly achieve. 

Some women have their wings clipped by the men they marry and they have to put a lid on their dreams for various reasons but even with that, old dreams can be replaced with new ones, as long as we are alive we should never stop dreaming. On the flip side, some women ‘retire’ as soon as they bag a husband. They give themselves a pat on the back, hang up their ambition boots and say to themselves, it’s now time to enjoy the life of my head… That is okay if settling down with a good man was all you ever wanted for yourself but the thing is, some men can’t deal with this and they begin to compare their wives to the women they meet every day in the corporate world and when the wives constantly fall short, the men become discontent. Woman know thy man and know thy marriage. If your man respects an ambitious and goal driven woman please dust your qualifications and go wow him! 

In a nutshell, it’s so easy to sacrifice your dreams on the altar of marriage but ask yourself this; ‘Will you be happy and fulfilled in 30 years time if all you have accomplished were mother and wife?’ If the answer is NO then you need to bring out those dusty dreams and start really living! 

There is greatness in you…

Have a lovely evening Chutzpah fam,

TGIF

Xoxo

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2017 in Inspirational

 

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10 personal lessons 5 years of marriage have taught me (8)

The eighth lesson I learned from 5 years of marriage is one that dwells on one of the commonest reasons for divorce worldwide- Money! 

So without further ado here it is;

8. Your finances require an ongoing balance for there to be peace and contentment. The saver versus spender principle!

To manage your finances properly you need to be Ying and Yang- not two Yings or two Yangs. You are allowed to swap roles as the occasion arises but always opposites. 

When I got married, hubby and I had the after-wedding financial discussion which was a follow up of the before marriage talk on the same subject. 

As a woman, I had two options. I could choose to make my money entirely mine and then his money would be ‘ours’ or I could choose to contribute towards the upkeep of the house as I saw fit (without forced compulsion or emotional blackmail). 

I chose the latter. Why wouldn’t I? I grew up in a house where both parents didn’t hold back financially where meeting family needs were concerned and hubby grew up in similar settings. The next hurdle we had to cross however, was who would be the spender versus who would be the saver. It may sound like a no-brainer but it’s actually important. This ying yang theory like I like to call it, came about because I had heard stories of couples who spent everything they had from paycheck to paycheck and were always stranded during emergencies. I had also heard of couples who invested every thing they had in the name of being prudent and were still stranded during emergencies. So we needed to create a balance, not a rigid one- but one that could be modified as the need arose

So I chose to be the saver. I’d always loved saving anyway and hubby believed more in investing than just keeping your money wallowing in the bank for meager profit. He would cover the running costs (spender) and I would save up so we had some money kept aside for projects and emergencies. It wasn’t absolute because neither of us was expected to put in our all into the saver versus spender agreement since it was only logical that we would also have individual personal needs, entertainment included. 

There have been times when hubby was the saver and I was the spender but hardly a time when we were both on the same side of the divide. This has worked for us till date but this can only work when you understand and trust your partner and no one feels like they are being taken advantage of. It’s not a perfect arrangement but as long as you are willing to sit and talk things over when a hurdle arises, you and your monies will be just fine!

The way couples handle their finances vary from family to family and are a product of personal character and upbringing. 

If you grew up in a home where your father did absolutely everything then you are more likely to lean towards that design however it is only fair that your husband knows that’s the deal before he signs up. One of my friends argues that men don’t want to be helped that it makes them lazy and bruises their egos so she is against giving unsolicited help. She has a point because we have seen women who gave their financial ‘all’ to their men and the men rather than appreciating it gave their extra to sidechicks and spent the rest on expensive clothing, toys and trips while the women couldn’t even afford a decent outfit and were worse for wear. There have also been women who by helping their men ended up spoiling them, so a once ambitious man after losing his source of income relegated his position as bread winner to his wife in favor of watching TV and playing video games. Every marriage is unique, you need to know the kind of man you married and therefore deduce the sort of help he would require. If giving your man your money will not make him a man you would respect in the long run then keep your money but save it towards something worthwhile and unselfish that you both would look at and smile. 

You also need to make sure that as a working woman you have some money kept aside for your personal upkeep apart from the one you pool into the family expenses. Clothes, shoes, hair, entertainment, vacations etc. These are important to us women and women who have given their all and left nothing for themselves begun to feel drained, unappreciated and cheated in the long run #truestory. You even end up putting undue pressure on your man because you can’t buy the stuff you want even though women who earn less than you can easily afford them, because you are giving your all to your home and so you expect your hubby to fill in the gap and buy you those things but he figures that since you had the money to buy them and didn’t, you probably don’t need or want them and there you are secretly sighing with dissatisfaction. Abeg who send you message? He can’t read your mind. Communication is key! Make sacrifices but also be vocal about the things you want and need. You are a working woman and entitled to them. You may not get them immediately because of other pressing needs but the fact that you have mentioned them makes getting them a reality in the foreseeable future. 

People always ask me about joint accounts and whether I believe in them. What I’ll say is do whatever works for you both. Hubby and I do not have a joint account but we are very open with our finances so it makes no difference. If a joint account will make it easier to save, by all means do so and if it isn’t an official joint account just one person’s account being used by both of you, let the person who doesn’t keep the ATM card be the one who gets the alerts on his/her phone so there’s accountability. I have heard stories of people emptying their joint accounts secretly to buy something frivolous only for the partner to find out a long time afterwards smack in the middle of a financial emergency. 

Finally if you have doubts, concerns or issues about the way money is being handled in the family don’t stomach them. If you are not working and hence do not feel like you have a legitimate voice, find a tactful and gentle way to be heard or a clever way to save up if the issue has to do with spending habits (usually the most common issue). Finances often wreak havoc in a home but trust and openness are the only way to get money to work for you. 

– Spend

– Save

– Invest

These three are key!

Be the ying to his yang…

Have a lovely afternoon chutzpah fam,

Xoxo

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2017 in Inspirational

 

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10 personal lessons 5 years of marriage have taught me (7)

10 personal lessons 5 years of marriage have taught me (7)

Today I’m going to share about the 7th personal lesson I have learned in 5 years of marriage. 

7) Friends matter!

So many women and men have had inner turmoils and even open conflict because of friendships made before and after they said ‘I do’. Some have advocated the ditching of all ‘single’ or ‘relatively irresponsible’ friends and with good reason (if you hear their stories) while others have kept their friends and made new ones along the way with varying results. 

I can safely say that marriage did not force me to cut the ties from any old friendships (apart from exes) but there have been some new friendships that I have taken a step back from because they didn’t sit right with my life goals and beliefs. I met a married woman some months after I got married who I was initially friendly with. She wanted to show me the town, introduce me to her friends, organize a lot of exciting hangouts and of course wear matching outfits (asoebi) to every occasion under the sun. She basically wanted me to be part of her squad. Her squad entailed a bunch of married, fashionable, worldly wise women who wanted to be known and know anyone and everyone who was anyone in town. They even had a name for their association! I should have been flattered seeing as I was in a new town with no friends and she seemed learned and nice but something held me back. In marriage you have got to trust your gut! Years later, I am happy I didn’t encourage the friendship because I was to learn later on that there’s a certain general opinion about married women in cliques and I really wasn’t interested in being part of the statistic especially since it was usually rife with scandals. Sometimes being alone is better than being with the wrong crowd. 

When you get married it’s very usual to be separated from your closest friends- not by choice, but due to distance or work commitments or even family commitments. It doesn’t give you an excuse to replace them with whoever is available. Don’t let the saying that when the desired is not available, the available becomes desired- become your story. You need to be even pickier with making friends after you get married because these friends will ultimately affect your mindset, influence your marriage and your kids and offer advice to you at least once in your lifetime, advice that may break or make you. 

Little wonder a lot of husbands are paranoid about some of their wives’ friends. I know men who asked their wives to cut off from childhood friends simply because the friend in question was still single or too wild in their opinion. But I ask the men this question; If your woman could be influenced by these so called bad friends or single women who were in her life long before you showed up, wouldn’t she have been influenced before she got married thereby making her less than the virtuous woman you ended up marrying? Some men have good reason to worry about a friendship but for others it’s a thing of control.

Don’t get me wrong, there are reasons to ditch an old friendship. People change, people grow apart, people stop traveling the same path, people stop having things in common and sometimes jealousy and bitterness from old grudges poison friendships and of course, there are times when everyone but the two people involved can see that the friendship is toxic and in that case your husband has good reason to save you from yourself. You just need to trust that it’s coming from a good place and not due to selfish reasons because a man can get jealous about sharing his wife with her female friend(s). 

I had a friend whose ideas about many serious issues were very outlandish based on her upbringing and life experiences. I internalized what I thought made sense but discarded her other ideas. However, hubby got uncomfortable when I would tell him about my interesting conversations with her and one day he told me he wasn’t comfortable with the friendship. It was the first time he was telling me to beware of a friendship and the feminist in me wanted to rise up and let him know I could be friends with whoever I deemed fit and I was basically too old to succumb to peer pressure (maybe I said it out loud, can’t remember 😁). Anyway I listened and I stepped down the intensity of the friendship by a notch or two and life continued relatively drama free…

…Friends matter. 

A woman is taught to make her husband her best friend but we all need one or two other people to unwind with from time to time who we don’t have sex with every night! I have always been of the opinion that a woman with too many friends comes to ruin (ref: the Bible) and thanks to Hollywood, a group of 2-4 women makes the perfect friendship circle (Sex and the city for example). Once you have more than 3 very close friends it’s no more friendship just multiple information channels for the dissemination of your private business to the world. 

Sisters make the best friends in the world so before you start looking for a new friend, call home…

Once you find a good friend, you stick with her whether she is single, widowed, divorced or plain crazy. These things are not infectious! However if you think her reasoning or some of her actions may negatively impact on your marriage you are allowed to pick your marriage over the friendship if you can’t control the situation (but please be certain so there are no regrets). Also remember the popular saying that show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are, so if bestie is a runz girl, it says a lot about you!

Finally there’s the very important issue of our husbands’ friends…Did i hear a woman sigh? Almost every woman ever married has disliked at least one of her husband’s friends. Putting distance between a bad friend and your hubby is difficult but worth the trouble. Over the years, I succeeded in putting space between the friends I didn’t think he should be keeping, with a mix of positive reinforcements (for the friends I approved of), prayers, substitute activities (scheduled at the same time as whatever activity he was going to do with the funny friend) and a courteous but not encouraging (very formal) demeanor towards the friends I didn’t approve of (I’m sure they got the message- sorry, not sorry). I also chipped in wifely advice very occasionally about why keeping the right company was important but was very careful with words because of how sensitive the matter potentially was. 

Why did I think it important? Most men are not built to be lone wolves, they run in packs and if the pack consists of adulterous men who drink too much, have little regard for God or their wives, engage in get rich quick schemes or constantly keep late nights then MBA (NO!), they have got to go. Hubby thankfully had no serious ties to any of those friends so letting them go didn’t affect his joy. I also made sure I introduced hubby to the husbands of my close friends to see if there would be a spark (many times there wasn’t) but thankfully hubby is close friends with the husband of one of my close friends and we (my friend and I) are both ecstatic about it #couplefriendshipgoals. And of course, I didn’t mess with hubby’s university friends because he had told me they were his ride or die friends and since he became the great guy I met and married with the influence of these guys then I had no qualms with them sticking around. Instead, I developed friendships with the wives of these friends so that shared vacations and hangouts wouldn’t be awkward! 

In a nutshell, friends can complicate your marriage, they can also make it stronger by offering solid counsel, immeasurable support and unwavering encouragement but it all boils down to who you let into your life. Friends matter, dont take this lightly. Choose wisely!

Have a beautiful day chutzpah fam,

Xoxo

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2017 in Inspirational

 

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