Sunday, December 17, 2006

Glad all is well at home. Can't believe you waited till I was safely out of the country before you went to Ping Pong :( Judging by the amount of carbs I have eaten in Lagos, I guess I won't be dining out until my birthday in April as I intend to seriously hit the gym when I get back. In the meantime, I will be eating meatpies, puff puff, pounded yam and the like before I get back. Miss you loads. KK

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Weekend four - Girls just wanna have fun!

This weekend was going to be the longest number of days I'd spent at home since I started working and living in Leicester. I had been able to leave work on Thursday to see Tunji off as well as arrange to 'work from home' on Friday.

Apart from a short telephone conference call meeting about 1pm, I was free to do as I pleased. Kitan goes to nursery on Friday too so I had a bit of a lie in. Admittedly, my laptop was switched on and on my bedside table, I had a lazy morning just chilling.

By 3:30pm, I went to get Kitan from nursery and took him home for his late afternoon meal. After playing at home with him for a few hours, we went to a friend's house a few streets away to play with her 2 year old daughter.

While there, about 5:30pm, my friend Ronx called asking if I wanted to go shopping to House of Fraser in the West End. "Sure!" I cried... I'd just been paid and for the first time in ages, I had some serious money all to myself. No over-cautious hubby around telling me to be sensible and after a bonding day with Kitan, I could hand him over guilt-free to Dominique - afterall that's what she's there for.

Ronx picked me up about 6:30pm and we got to House of Fraser just after 7pm, they closed at 8pm so we did not have much shopping time left. Ronx wanted an expensive new coat and we found the perfect one at Coast, the best quality wool in red and white - and only £95! Reduced from £220 - so that was a bargain. I was tempted to get one myself but if was going to be honest, I already had one in a similar colour. I was looking out for a pair of low heeled black leather boots, not too pointy in front that it'll kill me to walk. I did see lots of lovely boots but none that would go round my calves. Drats!!! Anyway, I found other things to splurge one - a lip fixative from Guerlain to keep lipstick on all day (£16)and a lip gloss applicator from Fashion Fair (£12).

Was that all? It seems I could not have a mad spending binge if I tried. After so long spending hubby's money ever so carefully, I'd forgotten what it was like to splash out... just because.

Anyway, it was now closing time and we had to leave. We got back to where we parked the car and was driving off to find somewhere to eat when we passed Debenhams and noticed it was still open. Woo hoo! We swung into a side street, parked and ran in. When we checked, it was open till 9pm, so that gave us some more shopping time.

I decided to get my act together and flex that card... by the time we left, I'd bought a black pinstripe suit, a mustard yellow funky top, a pair of grey check trousers and God knows what else! Ronx bought some more stuff too.

Bulging with bags, we left with a satisfied smug grin on our faces. Nothing bonds 2 girls like shopping. In the midst of inspecting the merchandise, we had shared our joys and frustrations then counselled each other, then shoppped some more! It was great.

By now we were starved, Ronx drove us to Ping Pong - a delightful Chinese restaurant specialising in Dim Sum. She and other friends had been here before and had raved about the food, so I was especially pleased to be here to sample the delights for myself. Despite needing to book on a busy Friday night which we hadn't, we were quickly ushered to seats thus beginning our Dim Sum extravaganza - delicate parcels of meat, chicken, pork, crab, lobster and God knows what else were delivered to our table with a myriad of dips. It was yummy beyond words. I ordered a martini cocktail and then another (I'm so ashamed of myself - NOT) - Ronx had a non-alcoholic cocktail because she was driving but you would not know to look at her, she was 'merrier' than I was. Infact, we were such a jolly pair, the fact that we found the car clamped when we left the restaurant did not dampen our mood one bit. "It's only money eh?" we said laughing. We called them up, paid up and they sent the 'clamp remover' man over.

Ronx dropped me off just after midnight and I went straight to bed.

Saturday was fun too. Woke up, played with Kitan, cooked then Dominique took him to the high street for a bit of fresh air, while I chilled at home catching up on my recorded programmes.

My friend Jos had delivered a baby boy the week before and I had planned to go over and see Mummy and baby on the Sunday after church with Kitan. Ronx was going to be coming along with us too. I remember going to Jos' wedding several years before and I know she had been trying since then to get pregnant. I know of that struggle all too well and truly rejoiced with her at God's goodness. After church, I picked up Ronx and off we went, getting to Jos' house about 2:30pm. The baby was gorgeous with a mass of straight black hair. The only problem was Kitan won't let me carry the baby. He cried anytime I tried saying "Mine, mine" - that is, his mummy is his and no one elses. Everyone else there found it very amusing and asked him if he wants his mummy to have another baby, to which he replied with a loud emphatic "No" - lucky for him I'm not terribly keen myself.

We left about 5:30pm, dropped Ronx off and went on home. I did not realise how tired I was and was dozing off while watching TV. My cousin (who's living with me) very kindly took Kitan off, bathed him then dressed him for bed. I fed him his dinner and put him to bed by 8pm.

I decided not to head off to Leicester that night... I was too tired. I just got my stuff together and set my alarm for 5:15am so as to make my way by 6am.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Week 5 - Love conquers all

I knew work was going to be very busy this week, my training schedule was full and I had a lot to learn in order to train. I'll be working day (doing training) and night (studying) to put in my best.

Despite this, I could not get the thought that Tunji was travelling on Thursday out of my head. He had asked me to come see him off and I asked him in return if he was crazy! Why would I drive all the way from Leicester, a 180 mile round trip, just to come and see him off. That was that... there was no way I was coming.

Apart from the hassle of driving, I was training on Thursday anyway. It was a brand new course and quite difficult, there was no way I could finish training in enough time to get to Heathrow before 8pm when he checks in, for all I knew, the course could finish at 6pm. It hadn't been trained out before and no one knew how long it'll really take.

Anyway, the week started well enough but by Tuesday morning, I'd developed a headache and it lasted the whole day. I took some pain killers before bed but when my alarm went off at 6:40am and I woke up, I still had it. Without even thinking what I was doing, I stripped off my pyjamas, wore my gym clothes (that had been laid out since the first night I got to Leicester 4 weeks ago), put on my trainers, ran down the stairs and out the door and started jogging. I could not believe it. Me jogging? Without a fitness plan, without a spreadsheet exercise tracking document, without any fanfare... without any pre-anything, I just got up and did it. I amazed myself as I did a mile, ending up back at home. In all it took me 35 mins because I fast walked back but I felt great, refreshed and invigorated. By the time I had a shower and got dressed, the headache was gone.

While at work training, I'm cooped in doors with very warm central heating, the only fresh air I get is in the walk from and to my car and my body was beginning to protest.

Thursday morning, I had woken up and dressed in my gym clothes before I looked out and realised it was pouring down with heavy torrential rain. Stumped, I was not sure what to do... I certainly had not factored adverse weather conditions into this new fitness drive. I did not realise I was praying when I said "God, I need to get out there in the fresh air and exercise, what do I do?" - the next thing I knew, the rain had stopped! It took me only 25 mins this time to do the mile and I felt so good - mentally and physically.

This had been a big part of the plan for my Leicester Life and I did not realise that the energy I spent putting it off was way more than the energy I spent in actually doing it, not to mention the benefits. It felt really good.

It was Thursday now and I was beginning to feel that I could not let Tunji go off to Nigeria that night without seeing him. The only problem was how to make that happen. This prayer thing was beginning to work so much better for me so I prayed again, asking God to make it possible.

By the time I got to work and started training, I realised it will be possible to finish by 4pm and if I headed off straight away, at the worst, I'll be in London for 7-7:30pm - then I had the brainwave to ask to work from home on Friday which meant I'll be home from Thursday night right through to Monday morning. My request was granted, I wrapped up the course by 3:45 and by 4pm I was on my way.

I got home by 6:15pm and Tunji could not believe I had done that for him... he said "I know for sure that somewhere deep down Omara, you still love me". I drove him to the airport (no traffic), by 8pm he was all checked in. Dominique had packed some pasta and meatball sauce which we shared. We talked, we prayed, we kissed... and then it was time for him to go.

Who said weekends with the family are fun?

Well, they are supposed to be fun but I know now that too much quality time can have the opposite effect.

After a really positive week at work, I was in a great mood, pay day was round the corner and I could look forward to enjoying the fruits of my labour. In 4 short weeks, I was due 10 times what I was earning previously in my part-time web researcher job. I'd already made a shopping list...

Anyway, with Tunji due to go to Nigeria in a few days, this was our last weekend together as a family for a while and we decided to make the most of it by spending all our time together.

I drove from Leicester straight to Tunji's office in Highgate. After hanging out with him for a couple of hours until he closed, we went to dinner. I was really after plain simple food so we ended up at the Harvester near home. I ordered a well-done steak which arrived after 30 mins, coal black and hard as a rock. To avoid getting cancer from the burnt bits, I had to send it back and wait another 30 mins for a better cooked steak. We spent that time catching up deftly avoiding any difficult topics such as in-laws, money and business in general. It almost felt like being on a date.

Saturday was my friend's daughter's 3rd birthday and we decided to go together. By the time we got there (only 15 mins away), Kitan had fallen asleep in the car and we argued about whether to wake him or not. I wanted to wake him because it was too late for a nap without affecting his bedtime and Tunji wanted him to sleep. In the end, I got out of the car and Tunji drove off. His plan was to drive around for 30 mins to give Kitan enough time to sleep. I was bringing the cake candles, party hats and a gift but did not have a chance to get them out of the car before he drove off so that annoyed me somewhat and I wondered whether it was a good idea to come with him.

Anyway he was soon back with Kitan. Kitan played, he ate and after a couple of hours we left.

Sunday was church and another birthday party afterwards. This was a friend's 1st birthday party for a much-wanted child after many years of trying. It was a lavish affair in a hotel in Hendon. After church, I was tired and so was Kitan, so we napped until about 5pm, not getting to the party till 6:30pm - by then the party was rounding up, there was no food and no party pack for my son. Apparently they had run out - personally I thought that was not on at all. The party was by invitation so they should have organised enough party packs for all the children plus the invite said till 8pm so there has to be enough food till the very last minute - maybe not the delicacies but at least the basics should still be available.

We headed to McDonalds after the party because Tunji was starving then decided to take Kitan to Oxford Street to see the Christmas lights. We parked by Selfridges and walked back on to Oxford Street. It was 9:30pm and not very busy. Kitan's excitement was infectious, he was jumping, skipping and running as fast as his little legs could carry him along the pavement and we joined in too. He loved the lights and the window display in Selfridges which was quite spectacular. He did get frightened of one male mannequin in a feather mask - that was quite funny! We took pictures, larked around for a bit then headed off home.

By the time I'd bathe him and put him to bed, I did think the weekend had been fun afterall if maybe a bit too intense as we'd spent all the time together. It's getting the balance right - enough 'me' time and enough family time - that'll work.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

By their fruits... week four

I've been looking forward to this week since I started. At last I finally got to do some real work. I'm sure I've mentioned before that I was recruited to train out a number SAP modules. Due to various reasons, the actual training was delayed and I had spent my first 3 weeks going over the material and learning about the company so I could relate the system to the business.

Anyway, there was a lot of spare time and I believe this is why some of the issues in the previous week came about. Y'know... idle hands... and all that.

There's only so far 'boasting in oneself' can take you... I can go on about how much experience I've had, my upbringing, my education, my years on this earth etc... at the end of the day, the only thing that really tells about me is how well I can do the job. That is where the respect and recognition from my colleagues and superiors will come from.

To be honest, I was terrified! I felt I was soon to be exposed as a fraud. I had gone over the material but I was scared about standing in front of 7 people going through slides and then the demonstrations. What if I forget stuff? What if I sound too African? What if I forget to smile? What if I don't have a clue when I'm asked a question? What if the demonstrations don't work? What if this... what if that... my mind was racing endlessly.

My co-trainer (the 20yr old) and I had drawn up a schedule where she'll train on some days and I'll support then I'll train on the other days and she'll support. Over the 12 day training period, she had 3 days holiday booked, so to make up her days... she was down to train the first 3 days, Monday to Wednesday.

On the first day, we both got in really early to set up and it all looked fine. When the training started, I soon realised that she did not have a clue, she read each slide word for word, made numerous errors and gave outrightly wrong answers when asked questions. It was terrible! I tried to correct some of her mistakes under the pretext of recapping but there were so many I had to stop. After the first topic, she passed round the feedback forms and I noticed she had put her name only as trainer on the forms. I had expected her to put both our names since I had played an almost 50% role during the training so far.

I decided that since she wanted to run the show and I had some prep work for my courses later in the week, I would check that she had all that she needed and go away somewhere quiet to review my material.

For the remainder days that she trained, I was present at the start of the day but left very soon after to study, leaving her on her own. I did pop back in now and again but this time, when she put her name on the feedback forms at least it would be because she actually ran the class.

To be fair, given her age and lack of experience, she had built a good rapport with the delegates and I felt that was more important than getting all the details right.

My first training day was on Thursday, she was off that day and I was on my own. I had prayed that morning standing on Matt 7: 28,29a (After Jesus finished speaking, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, for he taught as one who had real authority) - I prayed for God to bless my training and help me to speak with knowledge and authority.

By the end of the day, I had a splitting headache but thank God it had gone well. As I reviewed the feedback forms, one of the delegates had written "Omara is so much better than 'the 20yr old'", another wrote "Omara really explained everything in a logical and easy to understand manner" - the feedback was great! It was not about being better than anyone else, it was about doing the best I could and having that appreciated and acknowledged.

I felt released from constantly feeling I had to give a good first impression everytime. I could be more of myself and know that my work will testify for me.

The pressure of the week meant I barely noticed when Friday came around and it was time to go home.

I had so much to be grateful to God for. The Friday training went very well, we were ahead from the day before and we wrapped up by 2pm which meant I was able to set off home by 2:30pm! Super!

France, Italy, Spain - here we come!

Omara's Weight loss progress (started diet 17th March 2007)