The type of woman I want to be

Originally written September 29 2016.

She has great posture, even when sitting in a chair five hours deep into a show she just discovered.

She does not stutter when she speaks, and has no use for filler words; no umms, errms, like erm, you know. She speaks calmly at a sensible pace, rations her words and enunciates perfectly. She does not stumble over her words or vomit all the words at once in excitement or nervousness, not even when she is trying to tell her friends a hilarious story.

She takes time to think before making decisions. She does not jump into things, neither does she take decades to pick an entree. She weighs the options and makes a choice. She never says “oh I don’t know” or shrug and say “I am so indecisive”.

She knows what she wants because she has taken the time to think about it. She has not left her life and the decisions up to the universe.

She is an effective communicator. She does not assume or expect others to assume. She is not afraid to ask for what she wants. She does not swallow her needs out of fear of inconveniencing others. She does not preface her requests with a thousand sorrys, and “if it’s no bother” and “well I understand if you can’t” and “you really don’t have to but…”

She does not need anyone to have her back, she has her own back covered.

She is not afraid to succeed. She does not fear the pressure that comes with success and does not shy away from opportunities. She allows herself enjoy the success. She is not afraid to fail either.

She is organised. Her dwellings are always spotless and she knows where everything goes. She never leaves until tomorrow what can be done today. She does what she has to do on time and enjoys the rest of her day with the peace of mind only a person not procrastinating knows about.

She lives an active meaningful life. She is not a couch potato. She takes care of her body. She eats good food and gets regular exercise. She never stays cooped up in her room for days, wasting away just watching television. She ventures out of her house everyday, if only for a few minutes.

She is not terrified of people. She does not turn down invitations out of anxiety at having to mingle. She mingles quite effectively and leaves a good impression.

She works hard. She plays hard.

She lives life. She does not waste time dreaming when she could be living. She does not waste time daydreaming about adventures she could be having in reality. She goes out and has them.

She loves and is loved in return.

She is a good person; a great friend, great daughter and sister. She never says “oh I am the worst at keeping in touch” because she is not.

She knows how to take compliments, and how to give them.

She listens to understand, not to reply.

She is rational during arguments. She understands that she cannot always be right and therefore listens to the other side of the argument with an open mind.

She does not believe in karma. She knows that waiting for a person to be punished by karma can be a futile experience. She knows that a person who has hurt another can go on to develop a fast metabolism and win the lottery while the one who has been hurt whittles away waiting for vengeance.

She is well read on a vast number of topics. She is cultured. She likes art because it is beautiful.

She sometimes breaks into a dance in random places: supermarkets, tube stations, Forever 21.

She smiles a lot, not in a moronic way or as a programmed response to awkward situations, uncomfortable conversations, but actual smiles. She laughs a lot as well. It is her favourite thing to do.

She is ha ha ha funny.

She is happy. She chooses to be happy.

Your children are not your children.

I first became aware of the Lebanese-American writer Khalil Gibran when I came across one of his quotes. I don’t remember the quote, but it was enough to make me want to read more of his work. I eventually settled on The Prophet as it had good reviews and seemed to be one of his more popular works. The book arrived and I was surprised to find that it is not a usual book with a plot and suspense, but rather a collection of poems/fables. I was disappointed and put the book away without another thought. I recently picked it up again and discovered some gems. Once I got over the fact that it was not a novel per se, I was able to enjoy it.

The book is a collection of 26 poems, and follows a prophet, Al Mustafa, as he boards a ship to return to his home after a lengthy sojourn in the city of Orphalese. He is stopped by a group of people, who take turns to ask him to speak on several issues ranging from love and marriage, to work and death.The book is a life manual of sorts; I can see people turning to it when they need inspiration and guidance.

One of my favourite passages is the one about children. I don’t have any children, but I am a child and I recognize his words as truth. It is typical for parents to pass on their identify and beliefs to their children and get upset when said children choose different paths. This stems from the sense of possessiveness that we have over our progeny; they have come from us and therefore should do as we want. Though this feeling is understandable, it is also important to know that children are their own individuals, not simply photocopies of us. This is what Gibran says through the prophet. The passage goes thus:

“And a woman who held a babe against her bossom said, Speak to us about children. And he said:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.”


Wise words from a decent man.

Book club!

Reading makes immigrants of us all. It takes us away from home, but more important, it finds homes for us everywhere. —Jean Rhys

Welcome back to the book club.  It has been a while since I did a book review.  I have been reading of course but to be honest most of my free time is spent on Netflix aka crackflix. Still I make the best of my journey to/from work by reading a book on the train/bus and that’s pretty much all the time I dedicate to reading. Still I can’t help buying books, especially as I can get them on eBay for next to nothing, and I am always picking up new  books that look interesting even though I have a lot that I have not read. I have therefore placed an embargo on buying books until I finish all the ones I have now. For now, here is a quick run through of some of the books I have read since the last since book review (the ones I can remember).

Becoming by Michelle Obama. I reviewed that separately here.

My Sister the Serial Killer-Oyinkan Braithwaite

“Femi makes three, you know. Three and they label you a serial killer.”

I first came across this book on Amazon, and my interest was piqued by its catchy title and the fact that it is by a Nigerian author. But still, I was not interested in reading it as I just did not feel that it would be interesting. Then I started seeing it everywhere and it was long-listed and shortlisted for all sorts of awards, so I thought well I ought to give it a try so I bought it. Well my initial instincts were right.

The book is about Korede, a nurse whose sister Ayoola is not only a stunning self absorbed beauty, but also a serial killer. Ayoola keeps killing her lovers and then calling on Korede to help clean it up. Korede continues to cover up for her sister, until  Ayoola starts dating a doctor that Korede has secretly been in love with. Then she must decide whether to save the man she loves (who loves her sister) or remain loyal to family.

The book is written in a fast paced style, with some chapters only a few sentences long,  and this creates the effect of breezing through the pages. It was a quick easy read, “nothing too heavy”. Still the book would have been better if  the narrative was better developed. Their childhood was visited in choppy chapters that largely left the reader to fill in the gaps. The backstory is unsatisfactory and I did not like the end. We never really got to find out what exactly happened to their father, though it is constantly alluded that Korede must have killed him. The book is not disturbing or thrilling, and any suspense in it is lemon and herb mild.

Literature, like all art, is subjective. My Sister the Serial Killer has received a lot of praise and was even recognised by the Booker Prize which is awesome for a debut novel. I did not like it, but clearly a lot of people did.

The Watermelon-Marian Keyes

I got this book ages ago and only just came across it recently when trying to make space in my library (i.e. the Ikea box I throw all my books in). I have read a couple of books by Marian Keyes  and I don’t remember much about them except that I didn’t hate them.

The book follows Claire Walsh, a woman who is dumped by her husband minutes after pushing out their baby. Claire moves back home to Dublin when she begins the process of recovery, annoying her family (and the reader) and neglecting her child in the process. Of course she meets a really hot younger guy who is just crazy about her, and of course her husband then comes back and she has to decide what to do.

I’m not going to waste too much time on this: Watermelon was just alright. A good third of the book was unnecessary and could have been trimmed out. The book is written in first person so it reads like Claire is speaking directly to us which is fine, but there is also a lot of irrelevant ramblings that I had to skip past. Claire goes off tangent ever so often which is not as charming as the author meant it to be. It is a big book (over 600 pages) and for a lot of it, nothing really happens.

The end was quite meh. I’m not sure what Marian was trying to do with the switch in the husband.  He went from an awesome partner (in the flashbacks) to an adulterous husband to an actual psychopath. I was quite confused. Claire was also quite unlikable, as were all of her weird family.

While reading this I realised that the lead character in every Marian Keyes book I’ve read has had the Walsh surname, and it turns out that there is a Walsh family series which follows the five Walsh sisters. This is the first in the series, and is in fact Marian Keyes’ first novel which explains a lot. I feel her later books are much better.

Madame Bovary- Gustave Flaubert

“Don’t you know there are some souls that are constantly tormented? They need dreams and action, one after the other, the purest passions, the most frenzied pleasures, and it leads them to throw themselves into all sorts of fantasies and follies.”

The only reason I picked up this book is because I wanted to find out who Madame Bovary is. I watched a Chinese film on Netflix a year ago, and the English title was “I am not Madame Bovary.” Then I came across the quote below and I just had to know who this Madame was.

An empty life drives you to fantasies of fulfilment, which then form a deadly, vicious circle which can turn you into a cartoon, as it did poor Mitty. Or lead you to ruin like Madame Bovary.”
― Indu Muralidharan, The Reengineers

Originally written in French, the book is about Emma Bovary, a beautiful woman who is just bored bored bored to death. Straight off I related so hard because I too, am bored to death. Emma is married to a doctor who adores her, but my girl is just unstimulated and unimpressed by the oppressive dullness of her life. Who wouldn’t be in the olden days when all women had to do was bear children and scrub floors? What’s a girl to do when you are beautiful and so bored? Have an affair of course. Emma has multiple affairs and  becomes reckless and this recklessness eventually leads to her destruction and the ruin of others around her.

The book is alright, and it’s a bit tedious in parts. I trudged through it and was happy when I got to the end-which was quite sad.   I was angry with her by the end because she ruined her family. There were times that I was so over her character, and thought girl get it together! Go kiss your child. But alas I understand what it’s like to be that bored, and I empathised with her character. I felt sorry for Emma because she never really found happiness and instead frittered her life away.

“Deep down, all the while, she was waiting for something to happen. Like a sailor in distress, she kept casting desperate glances over the solitary waster of her life, seeking some white sail in the distant mists of the horizon. She had no idea by what wind it would reach her, toward what shore it would bear her, or what kind of craft it would be – tiny boat or towering vessel, laden with heartbreaks or filled to the gunwhales with rapture. But every morning when she awoke she hoped that today would be the day; she listened for every sound, gave sudden starts, was surprised when nothing happened; and then, sadder with each succeeding sunset, she longed for tomorrow.”

Story of my life.

Off to read more books! A bientot.



Becoming…Michelle Obama

“For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end.”

This book was eagerly anticipated, and since its release it has gone from strength to glory and broken all sorts of records. No surprise there, seeing as Michelle Obama is class personified, an inspiration to a lot of women worldwide, and arguably the most popular first lady ever. A dear friend gifted the book to me for my birthday which made me super happy, and I was immediately whisked away into Michelle’s world.  from to Princeton and Harvard, then the law office where she met Barack culminating in their journey to the White House.

The book is split into three sections: Becoming Me takes us back to her childhood as Michelle Robinson, living in a tiny house on the Southside of Chicago with her family. We get to see her family dynamics, and experience the bond and love they shared living with so little. Michelle discusses her fears and insecurities, her constant striving to succeed which leads her to Princeton, Harvard, and ultimately the law firm where she meets Barack.

The next section- Becoming Us– gives a firsthand account of her relationship with Barack, from boyfriend and girlfriend to husband and wife and mummy and daddy. We get to see how Michelle balances motherhood with work, and really balances life with Barack’s ambition.

The final section Becoming More takes us to the White House, and gives us a behind the scenes view of the journey to the White House, and the 8 years in power. Barack Obama’s election was a historic moment, and even though the Obamas handled every moment with grace, it goes without saying that the whole experience would have had incredibly stressful and difficult moments. In this book, Michelle takes us through it all- the highs and lows of being the first Black family in the White House.

I was humbled and excited to be First Lady, but not for one second did I think I’d be sliding into some glamorous, easy role. Nobody who has the words “first” and “black” attached to them ever would. I stood at the foot of the mountain, knowing I’d need to climb my way into favor.

The book humanises not just Michelle, but the Obamas as a whole. It is easy to see people in the public eye and either vilify or revere them, forgetting that they are just like us. We saw Malia and Sasha with their parents, also ever so graceful, but did not really know what their lives were like away from the cameras. We saw Michelle launch different initiatives, give interviews, but we had no idea what it took for that to come to light. We saw Michelle and Barack be lovely together, but had no idea what they had to give up, and what they gained. Becoming also sheds more light on her mother-Marian Robinson’s- invaluable help during this time.

It is a top notch memoir and I do not have any bad thing to say about it. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and I am looking forward to Barack’s memoir to see things from his viewpoint. I have also heard good things about the audio book, and so I may be ready to use that audible trial to listen to my first ever audio book.

I will end this with one of my favourite quotes from the book:

“Now I think it’s one of the most useless questions an adult can ask a child—What do you want to be when you grow up? As if growing up is finite. As if at some point you become something and that’s the end.”


I’m like, so stressed.

A week ago, I found myself in an all too familiar situation; stressed the f%$k out and completely annoyed with myself. My parents were in town to visit and I was to meet them at their hotel apartment to stay the week. I had told myself I would pack my things and get everything ready the night before at the latest, so on the day all I had to do was get dressed and go see them without any hassle. Of course, true to form, I waited until that morning to even consider packing and it took me a further 2 hours after waking up to start. Then I had to spend ages deciding on exactly what to take with me. I am a big “what if” person. I, who spends all of my free time in bed watching Netflix shows now simply must pack three evening dresses and two pairs of heels because what if we go out to somewhere really fancy? (spoiler alert: we didn’t) I simply cannot leave without packing my bunny ears because who knows when I will need them? Should I pack my box of nail polish and manicure set in case my nail polish chips off and I have to redo it? How many coats do I need? Do I need my gym trainers and casual trainers? What if it starts to rain? I literally stood and deliberated for 30 minutes over whether or not to take a blender with me. I kid you not. I was at the bus stop, laden with three bags and one box, seriously considering running back home to grab the blender because it’s better to have it and not need it than blah blah. This is how my mind works. Add to this the fact that I have a (self imposed) time limit that I have exceeded and you get an idea of how stressed out I was.

So of course once again I started beating myself up for being so disorganised. Why can’t you just get your shit together! We had this talk last time and here we are again, stressed and bothered. Even as I berated myself I knew that it was only a matter of time before I found myself in this predicament again. You see this happens ever so often and I swear to myself to be better organised next time, but somehow it never happens. Why do I behave like this? Am I a masochist? Last week I finally realised why. it is hard to learn from one’s “mistakes” when things turn out well regardless. You see most of the time, my worries are baseless and despite my stressing out, things turn out fine.

I was stressing about being late, but by the time I got to my parents, they had literally just woken up. If I had gone any earlier I probably would have woken them up or worse been stuck outside ringing them while they slept blissfully. This is why I don’t learn, because everything always ends well. So why then do I continue to stress out?

I have realised that the key driver of my anxiety is that I am always trying to consider all possible scenarios and prepare for them. My mind is like a Monte Carlo simulation. Add to this my laziness which leads to me being unprepared and you have chaos. Even in my job, when I have a piece of work to do, I find myself trying to anticipate the comments the manager will leave and fix them beforehand which of course drives me mad.

My motto for 2019 was to mindfully engage my life, but of course I still find myself whiling away time doing absolutely nothing. I often come to the end of the day, exhausted and sleepy, wondering what exactly I did with all the time?

My advice to myself is therefore the following:

1) Stop worrying so much. 90 percent of the time, your worries are baseless, 9% of the time they are things that could be easily fixed. My nails did chip and shockingly enough the world did not come to a standstill. I am typing this with chipped nails whoaaa. But at the time this was a real concern for me, and it was stressing me out.

2) Be prepared. This goes for everything, exams, outings, travel. Most of the anxiety comes from not being prepared. Anxiety over exams is normal, but the extra stress is definitely from not having studied the material or done the necessary revision.

Of course I am not going to heed my own advice, and I will be back to running around like a headless chicken in 2-3 business days.