The Gospel According To Lesley: Home vs. Nest

‘Home’ can seem so relative and so meaningless. A hotel is ‘home’ if that’s where you eat, sleep and wake up with familiar people that may or may not be ‘family.’ And by that definition so is pretty much anywhere else you carry out those functions. You may have had many ‘homes’ in your life time. Your parent’s. Your grandparent’s. Your in-law’s. Foster care. Your first flat. Your last flat.

A ‘nest’ on the other hand at once suggests something personal, unique and cosy.  If someone tells you they’re ‘nesting’ you have no doubt what so ever what they mean. A clear image immediately springs to mind. Besides, no one says ‘homing’ or ‘home making’ (unless you’re a housewife, do housewife’s say that anymore even?) and ‘home maker’ is NOT what you mean. Neither is ‘decorating.’ You’re not decorating. You’re kinda settling in with your stuff around you. Without the burden of permanency.

Do you remember a rather melodramatic post from 3 years ago about fear of commitment? You can read it  again here. So much melodrama over a 3 month commitment to a flat share but here you are 3 years later – nesting.

Then you realise that the nest is kinda small and that you get quite a few people staying over despite your cranky attempts to push everyone away. So you figure maybe its time to get a bigger nest because family and friends really matter to you.

 

 

 

 

 

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The First Day of the Rest of Your Life

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Hi. Happy New Year.

Thank you for following my blog.

I’m glad that you found something useful, inspiring, enlightening or entertaining here. Because that’s all I really want to do – inform, inspire, enlighten and entertain. Especially entertain. I’m not trying to convince you that my point of view is right or wrong. I don’t know that is. I’m just sharing my point of view which can be quirky, heretical, mind blowing and impractical sometimes but always original. And always creative. And inspiring.

I want to make you think. And maybe question your assumptions. I like being subversive. I sincerely believe that nothing is sacred and anything is possible. If you can think it, you can manifest it. I also believe that I should leave the world better off than when I arrived – not worse. Yes. That could mean me or the world. Or both. I love puns, metaphors and paradoxes. I love mind games. I love challenging group think.

Freedom is my primary value.  I have high value for self direction, stimulation and universalism and low value for security, power and conformity.

I explored many routes during my journey to self determination. Religious. Philosophical. Scientific. Magical. Professional. I studied Law, The Bible, The Bhagavad Gita, The Harvard Business Review, Vogue, Zen Buddism, atheism, libertarianism, Lassez Faire capitalism, capitalism, philanthropy, philanthro-capitalism, feminism, womanism, African feminism, Afropolitanism.

I had a whole lot of teachers. I’m grateful to all of them. Even the ones that hated me a whole lot. I instinctively resist any and all attempts to bully and confine me. I respond to haters by doing more of what they hate. So I just got better and better at being me.

A couple of years ago I started studying wealth and success and came across the Laws of Attraction. I’ve always attracted good fortune, I was less fortunate in holding on to it. Or so it seemed.  Take my case with Oxfam and my career in the humanitarian sector. Right? No way. Thank god Oxfam happened. I might have still been stuck in that industry working crazy long hours for someone else – and for peanuts compared to what I earn now.

Oxfam wasn’t a fit. Ashoka was closer to a fit but still wasn’t what I wanted and they really paid peanuts. I’m doing exactly what I want to do now and earning more. As a matter of fact I’d be happy doing what I’m doing even if I wasn’t paid to do it. Yeah. I found that place. And it doesn’t involve crazy work hours, sexual harassment and someone higher up the ladder stealing my ideas. Work – life balance is built in.

It wasn’t easy to get here. I had a lot of resistance, external and internal too. After being an employee it seemed like I couldn’t possibly live well if someone wasn’t paying my salary. The first couple of years were especially scary as everything crashed around me.  I’ve had a lot of adventures in the  years since then. Thanks for sharing them with me. I’m in a good place now. In the place that I want to be – feeling good.

I had a pretty good year last year. And I’m confident that 2018 is going to be even better. Only doing the things that make me feel good. Living my best life. And still sharing it with you – to inform, inspire, enlighten and entertain. And make you think a little. And maybe laugh a little too.

Here’s to a fabulous 2018.

 

Talking About Beauty: Ayurveda & Exercise

I found out from my ayurveda therapist that my constitution vata (find out yours here) doesn’t need strenuous exercise. It just overheats the body. I never did finish that story about my experience with hot yoga. Around day 45 of my 60 day challenge I was exhausted physically and had some weird ridge growing in my abdomen.

Boy did I freak out. I was sure it was something awful like cancer and I was going to die. The therapist told me it was just my body reacting to what it did not like. The heat, the strain,  the sweat. I never did like sweat and heat and strain but thought I had to endure it because well I heard somewhere thats how thing were done.

“No” my therapist told me. “Your constitution needs calm stuff like yoga, swimming and walks outdoors.”

No wonder I could never stick to one of those hectic gym schedules. Or a running routine. So now I do 30mins of yoga and 30 mins walk or dance daily. I’m working up to an hour each.

I started my at home yoga practice really small. I went through up and downs. Some mornings I was all gung ho about it and some mornings it just wasn’t a priority and I skipped yoga. I pushed through those. I didn’t let it stop me altogether. Gradually it became part of my daily routine and I noticed that it did help me function better too. I think I’m addicted to yoga now. But as addictions go that ain’t so bad. I’m an addictive personality.

I also go dancing once a week. I’ve started salsa lessons. Love it. Love the music. And I am overcoming my biggest challenge in salsa. Letting the man lead. read about it here. And let the music lead. I love the sexual energy in Latina dance. Our Igbo dances are less about sex and more about energy and acrobatics. Or seduction. Anyway I figure that should keep things ticking along just fine. I do not want to be jumping upandan, jiggling, sweating and getting hot more than I have to.

And its about time I stop putting it off and finally take those swimming lessons. Yeah.

 

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Talking About Beauty: You Are What You Eat

Only in Nigeria do people be eating like we eat and argue that after all their ancestors ate like that. Our ancestors also walked every where, spent 8 months out of twelve on the farm and generally burned more calories than they ate. Only the petit bourgeois elite had fat wives because it showed they didn’t go to the farm or the market. Just like the white elite too. Except in their case it was pale skin as a sign you didn’t have to work in the fields like a peasant. And the consumption of rare and rich food was equated with privilege.

All that elitist bullshit. Anyway, my point is we really shouldn’t be eating like our ancestors. We do not work like them. We probably have a sedentary office job and a driver. It’s not about ‘diet’ or ‘a diet’. Its a lifestyle thing. How much we eat and what we eat is all about what we do for a living but most of us are so programmed in our primitive brain stem that we need to feel full and comfortable. You know, in case you have to run from a man eating lion in the jungle. Or slave hunters. Or in case there is a famine. Who knows?

Then again as we age we just can’t eat as much as we did when we were high revving teenagers. The metabolism slows down and shit and things like beer guts and spate tyres and love handles tend to multiply. You just have to consume less calories. Even if you are one of those people that doesn’t add weight no matter what you eat, sensible calorie restriction is indicated in positive long term health outcomes.

Of course food is never just about food. Just like sex is never just about sex. Its comfort and nurture and reward and punishment and power. Most modern humans have a complex relationship with food and body image compounded through mass media. Then there is of course the social  and cultural significance of food (link to old post on food politics) Its a minefield.

We love Nigerian food but we know we just can’t eat it as much of it as we did when we were younger. And that’s cool. We adapt. And its easier to adapt than we think.

The Gospel According to Lesley: The Evil Step Mother

Since I have introduced My Evil Step Mother let me say something about her.

She didn’t stand a chance. My Mother is a Goddess. Which woman can compete with that? My Evil Step Mother lost the popularity stakes before you even began. And she didn’t make it any better when she decided to comb my matted dreadlocked hair instead of just cutting it off when she first met me. Dreadlocks? You may wonder. Yes. I had dreadlocks at the age of four because my father didn’t comb my hair in the one year after we absconded from the Soviet Union before she joined us.

Her name was Lilia. I’m still trying to find out if she is dead or alive and whether maybe she left me something in her will. Because I have an enduring fantasy that somewhere somehow I have a long lost relative that will leave me something in his or her will. Being remembered in a will, inheriting something, is like being affirmed or validated, its like saying ‘you belong.’  Agatha Christie’s characters were always left something in someone’s will.

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Lilia wasn’t all that bad really. I know she crossed the road once rather than walk on the side walk in front of a Jewish centre and that she regularly made fun of my father’s nose, our fat lips and our kinky hair. I know she had a racist opinion about every thing from black sexuality to black crime which she shared freely with me even when it wasn’t age appropriate. I know she only married my father to escape The Soviet Union. My Mother would never have considered doing such a thing. Like I said, a goddess but she didn’t know that my father would take me when he left. She didn’t even know that he could.

I also know that Lilia Nikoliayevna Zviaglosky did not sleep with my father. We’ll come to that later.

In my imagination Lilia was evil because she made me sit to learn sewing, knitting and crocheting when I would rather be outside playing in the woods behind our estate or swimming or something. I was a bit of a feral child. She did evil things like comb my hair, which hurt. She tried to make me learn the Russian alphabet and how to read and write in Russian. She even made me go to bed at 8 o’clock on Summer nights when it was still bright outside. I would lie in my bed listening to children playing outside in the sun and hate her. She was so evil she cut up my beautiful white synthetic leather boots that were all the rage in America in 1974. Then she stitched up the cuts and made me wear them to school! (I was too young to own it and it was too long before Michelle Pfeiffer popularised that look in 1993.)

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I thought she was a real evil bitch. Unlike The Goddess, my real mother.

There is a price to pay for everything. Lilia paid the price. Eventually she divorced Dr. Agams and last I heard married some guy named Fred G. Paradin. Fred used to take her to Vegas on dates. The Divorce was epic. Dr. Agams filed a cross petition and included the CIA, FBI and KGB as co-respondents but not Fred. Shortly after that Dr. Agams brought me to Nigeria. (Specifically to Umuaka, a Mediaeval Little Kingdom on the banks of the Njaba River in rural south east Nigeria where I was to send the second decade of my life.)

After living in Nigeria Lilia doesn’t seem like such an Evil Step Mother after all.

You haven’t seen or heard about Evil Step Mothers till you come to Nigeria. Nigerian women seem to think that being nice to their husbands offspring by other women is a crime. Its like the default setting is Evil Step Mother Mode. I think maybe it has something to do with loyalty to your mother’s hut in polygamous homesteads. A mothers primary responsibility is to protect you from abuse. Children without mothers were targets and little better than orphans. Men never raised kids.

Evil Nigerian Step Mothers will starve you, beat you, cut your prick off if your a boy, or your eyes and tongue, shave your head if you’re a girl, especially if you are a pretty girl, make you do all the house work like Cinderella,  make you sit on the dining room floor to eat while her children ate at the table and generally make your life so miserable that you eagerly marry the first person that asks you when you are 15. Just Google ‘step mother Nigeria’ and see for yourself.

I can hear you saying “Not me! Never.”

So long as you know that your step children will never like you and will never be grateful for whatever kindness you show them. A Nigerian woman spent years raising her step children like her own. When her husband became terminally ill these step children manipulated her and her three children out of her home of over 20 years and brought their mother, who was married to someone else by then, to bury him when he died. The poor woman and her there children got nothing from the estate.

So I still call Lilia, My Evil Step Mother. I’m The Ungrateful Nigerian Step Child. And I’m still hating on her for what she did to those boots.

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