Time to De-clutter


My wardrobe is not the biggest in the world, but it is sure well over its capacity. Some of the clothes in it have been in there for over the last decade, some have only been worn once, others never. Let’s not even start with the shoes and bags! I feel guilty each time I bring a new item into the ‘collection’. If all my items were alive, I am sure I would have had to answer to some authority (thank goodness they’re not). Lots of people around the world have one time or the other felt this way, it might be right now as you are reading this article, or last year. But what did you do when you felt this way; did you ignore it, or in the words of my friend, did you give in to the voice saying, ‘you never know when these may come in handy? Perhaps you had a huge quarrel with someone because they called you the ‘H- word’, HOARDER.

The first time I encountered this word I was quite certain it did not apply to me, I mean how could it? There was just something negative about that word; this moral and medical element about it. I had weirdly connected ‘hoarding’ with another word ‘kleptomaniac’, I know it doesn’t really make sense why I made that connection, but I would tell you why. Hoarding refers to the accumulation of items, while Kleptomaniacs are those who take anything they see (in simple terms). So the connection I used to make was that hoarders become that way because they were Kleptomaniacs and were therefore bad, ill people. Hence, why I felt I couldn’t be a hoarder. Of course, two things were faulty with this thinking; one, I obviously didn’t understand the difference between Kleptomaniacs and Hoarders. Two, I had succeeded in logically excluding myself from a class of people I genuinely felt did not define me. Therein lay the problem- I was in denial.

For many hoarders, they only start feeling guilty when their wardrobes won’t shut, or when they cannot find the space to keep new items. Others have to be verbally assaulted by loved ones to get the message. The only way to ‘un-guilt’ is to admit you have a problem. Acceptance is the key to de-cluttering. What are you accepting though? That you have too many items or that there is something wrong with ‘the self’ that has these items? You guessed right, the latter. Only through self analyses can you understand why you have so many items. You can ask yourself, ‘when was the last time I went shopping? Did I really need to buy this item? How often have I used this item?’ The best way to overcome a habit is to question the habit. Many impulse buyers are often held captive to the lure to buy what they don’t need. What if you naturally think through anything you purchase, does this mean you cannot be a hoarder?

I looked up the origins of the word Hoarder and I was surprised with the search, it comes from a word that means to ‘treasure, valuable stock or store’. So the notion of this word comes along with it a connotation of ‘subjective priceless value’. In other words, it is possible for someone in a few years or month to acquire a skyscraper of items, provided it is of value to the person, regardless of whether it was pre-thought or not.

Is it possible for everything a hoarder has to be objectively valuable? How can a hoarder sieve through what is valuable and what isn’t when deciding what should be thrown away and what shouldn’t? To overcome this nature the first thing is to under-value the items held in esteem (this has to be the harshest thing I have ever said, but it is for the best). See things for what they are, not from your mind’s eye. Honestly, those items are tired of not being used, they want a new home, don’t deceive yourself that someday you will use them, you wouldn’t- You know it. Where is the time to wear all those dresses, to wear all those shoes, to clean all those items drenched in dust and cobwebs? Did I hear you say antique? Did I hear you say you are saving it for the next generation? Seriously, that’s your mind at work, rationalizing again. Try to rationalize differently- base it on fact not on untruth. Have/Can you really use all of these items regularly in the next year? To be fair, did you succeed in doing this in the last six months? You know the answer don’t you?

De-cluttering is hard work; I would advise anyone who intends to do this to set realistic goals, by sorting out all the items in stages. The hardest part about de-cluttering is not the physical work, it is the emotional task of ‘detachment’. Some items might have been given to us by people we love/d; thus each item is like a strand of memory. Think about it, if you have so many memories lying around your house or bedroom can you form fresh ones freely? At times, we just have to let go and move on. To de-clutter, the hoarder needs to detach any memory and stick to the goal in the list. One of the best ways of doing this is to use a time-plan. You could say, ‘I plan to take out any item I haven’t used in the last 6 months or 2 years’ (this all depends on the rate of acquisition) then take out any item that doesn’t fall in the list. Try and avoid making exceptions. The meaner and dispassionate you are toward the items the better you would be at de-cluttering.
Don’t get anyone to do this work for you (if you can manage). With a good plan you can succeed!

Today I look at my wardrobe and I smile. It not only shuts, but it makes a bang when I slam its doors. For the first time in years I notice its beautiful mahogany color, and even its inner mirror! Looking at this mirror, I see a happy sweaty faced girl looking at all the black bags around her, preparing to send them to where they would be needed. She doesn’t feel guilty anymore- her space is de-cluttered and so is her head, those cherished memories are settled where they belong.

*** The above article is not a professional manual for overcoming the psychological disorder of Compulsive Hoarding. It is only a mini-guide on dealing with the social problem of de-cluttering. The word ‘Hoarding’ was not intended to label or cause any form of anxiety.

Have you felt this way before, what did you do? Give us suggestions on more de-cluttering techniques .Feel free to LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE. And if you enjoy my write ups hit the ‘follow’ tab to receive updates on latest posts.

Through the door

                                                        Image(photo courtesy: 4photos.net)

The wind blew up leaves on the stairway, but it didn’t clear out the pile that had decorated the front porch. There was dust everywhere like the house was dug up from the Sahara desert. The cobwebs lined the front door in complicated spirals, and I was afraid to touch the door knob. I got out my white handkerchief from my purse and attempted to open the door. It was stuck. I knew this house, it seemed so familiar but I was unsure. I couldn’t remember how I got here, but something told me that it was important to be here. I tried again, this time pushing and turning the knob more vigorously. The door handle came off and fell on the leafy sandy floor in a clang. I looked down at it in disbelief. At that point I knew I should be worried about curious neighbours and hidden pets attacking me, but I wasn’t. I also knew I should have knocked before trying to open the door, but I hadn’t. Trying to ignore my thoughts, I picked up the door handle from the floor and tried to stick it back to the door. Just then, the door opened. I pushed the door wide open quickly; afraid the wind might shut it. The room was dark. I reached for the light switch just beside the door and the room was flooded in a yellow dull light.

The spiders had completed their artwork inside the house as well, from wall to wall, ceiling to floor; their dust carrying webs were everywhere, I sneezed a lot as I moved around. I knew where I was but I couldn’t quite place it, maybe it was because it looked different; abandoned. There were two huge stairways than ran across the duplex with all the rooms upstairs visible from the landing. As I walked through the dusty carpet I could hear in my head children screaming in excitement. There was the huge chandelier above me which lighted up the house. Only three of the bulbs were working and the five others had dark lines across them, suggesting they had died out a long time ago. The landing was like an art gallery, sparsely furnished. There were several paintings lined across the walls, mimics of course of original art works like Leonardo da vinci’s Mona lisa and  a couple of Kandiski’s abstract paintings. Looking at the paintings I knew where I was now. I walked more frantically through the room searching for my favourite painting, it had been relocated! I finally found it hanging on the left wall. It was a Frida Kahlo painting, the self portrait one. Like all the other paintings, this one was covered in dust and I could hardly make out Frida’s face.

 I suddenly could smell chocolate cake in my head, the kitchen was the door just opposite me and I remembered how Gran always kept a slice for me even when all the cake was gone. Everything on the Ground floor looked the same except they looked older. The walls were white washed and the carpet felt more like sand than its earlier soft feathery feel. What bothered me the most was that I couldn’t tell what year I was in, albeit I knew I was in the future. I went back to the entrance to take one of the stairways leading upstairs in search of a clue. There were six rooms upstairs, and only one belonged to Gran three were on the left side and the other three on the right side. Upstairs snaked into a u-shape, connecting to the other stairway. I enjoyed running and jumping through each connecting stairway playing hide and seek with my cousins.

Upstairs was a lot brighter, I could admire the chandelier better. It was old and beautiful, very much antique worthy. On occasion I stayed in the second room, right next to Gran’s room. I opened the door of the second room gently half expecting it to be locked. It looked exactly the way I left it. The matching pink sheets and cover were still on, and the winnie the pooh curtain still hung loosely above the window adjacent to the bed. I walked around the tiny room but there was nothing else to see. I began cleaning the glass window with my already dirty handkerchief to look outside. At that point, I heard my name.

 “Sally. Sally. Sally” the voice yelled.

I froze. Stopped cleaning and listened, just to be sure it wasn’t my imagination. The voice got distant with each call, it was definitely coming from downstairs.

I rushed out of the room and bent over the dusty railings, and yelled, “Who is it?” my frightened voice echoed.

“Sally, did you break the door?” a familiar voice rang across the house. It was John, my husband. He was holding the door handle in one hand and looked up trying to make out where I was.


“You said you were only checking this place out, you didn’t say you would come inside. What if someone finds out we are here? We could get in serious trouble Sally.”

“No John. It’s fine, this is my Gran’s house, I’ve finally remembered.” I said excitedly and hurried down to meet him.


Humour of Language



Language is the most powerful means of communication in human history. Just think for a second how the world would be if there was no Language… what form of communication might we use? Perhaps music… (hmmm I really don’t know, I rather not think too much about that).

 One beautiful nature about language is that it is dynamic. For centuries many languages have experienced a growth in their vocabulary from  new words, dialects and even pidgins. While the latter has been accepted as informal or uneducated, pidgins are no doubt a language in their own right.

 A form of Language I think hasn’t been given as much attention is the import of several non-words and text acronym into our active vocabulary. There are so many expressions we use today that were considered unacceptable in the past or even non-existent. But thanks to music, movies and social media we can get away with anything. In fact, there are certain words and expression that have connotative meanings by virtue of situations surrounding the origin of the word or expression.

My post today, would look at the influence of culture on language and the value of events on words and expressions. Culture is a broad topic, it is especially hinged on the society we come from. In my society, I’m constantly trying to keep up with new expressions that get thrown at me especially on social media. Within Nigeria for example I can count several new text acronyms that would definitely not make sense to those outside this society partly because it’s Pidgin.  The text acronym LWKMD for example, meaning Laugh Wan Kill Me Die often pops up in Nigeria’s social media.  It’s a variant version of LOL (laugh out loud) or LMAO(Laughing My Ass Out) in English. Seeing LWKMD in a comment about a picture or post conveys a vivid picture of laughter than LOL for me. It’s funny because in regular discussions with my friends I don’t use LWKMD, but there is this warm appeal to use LWKMD on occasion than LOL when texting (I probably need to read more on text acronyms and culture). Whatever the case it seems to me that daily, more and more new text acronyms are added into the social ‘mediasphere’, like there is some machine somewhere creating and distributing these words!

When it comes to non-words music has a lot to play for many of such inclusions. For instance, in my culture it’s not uncommon to hear people use the non-word koko during conversation,  someone could say for example, “the koko of the problem is…” when addressing the seriousness of a situation. I stand to be corrected, but the truth is that this word only found its roots in our language after D’Banj( a renowned Nigerian Artist) used it in his debut single Tongolo  in 2005. It’s not that the word koko was non-existent, it does exists in Yoruba- it means corn porridge, but the meaning  as coined by D’banj added a second dimension to the word koko.

The movie industry in Nigeria has added countless words as well. Popular sitcoms and comedy have had their share in bringing a new dimension to the way individuals in the society express themselves. A brilliant example is this movie Jennifer, where Funke Akindele plays the lead actress. It’s a Yoruba movie that centres on, among other things Jennifer’s (the protagonist) attempts to speak English properly. Jennifer’s deep accent and nonchalant pronunciation were the highlights of this comedy drama and it got everybody across the country and continent laughing. However, since that movie I’ve observed the use of many of ‘Jennifer’s expressions’ finding their way into informal language to convoke humour. For instance, when texting with a friend it’s not uncommon to say, “Yels” instead of “Yes” just for fun sake. Or saying, “it’s much bera” instead of, “it’s much better” just because it’s funnier to say it that way. Strangely, I feel like it has become cool to speak English in this hilarious way when ten years ago it was unacceptable.

More recently, the expression, “My Oga on top”has suddenly found its roots in society’s language.  It’s incredible how expressions tied with events can become so powerful.  Two months ago it was a normal pidgin expression no one gave two cares about, but now, you cannot say “my oga on top”  in Nigeria without conjuring laughter. How did this insignificant pidgin expression get so powerful? A Government official erroneously used that expression when referring to his boss on live TV, during an interview, and everyone found it hilarious. Since then anyone planning on easing up a tensed situation would often chip in this expression; just for laughs.  The funniest part of this expression is that some people have turned it into a text acronym( MOOT) on social media! Can language get any more hilarious?

In all of these things just discussed I can’t help but question If  we are getting more permissive EVEN with language? Is it okay to drift a little from standard English? or should we always stick to the norm and fight against change?

What do you think? Write your opinion in the comment box just below. Don’t forget to LIKE this post and SHARE with others.

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Ojuju Calabar




Pictures tell the best stories. Any time I look at the picture above I remember the story behind Frida- the doll you see in the picture. I found her on the second row  in a toy shop several years ago. She was the sole doll of her type displayed next to all the other dolls. She posed in her packet with a sucker in her mouth, looking at home in the cramped space she stood.  She wore a white dress with pink trimmings and a white pair of boots. Her hair was held up in two ponies; she was the prettiest doll In that shop! Why was Frida special? it was because she was not just ‘baby-like’ but she was black; very different from all the other dolls.

Frida soon joined the collection of toys my sister and I shared. The only problem was that she was a little awkward. Her colour made her stand out like a sore thumb and she soon became the ‘scare crow’ of the bunch. Frida very quickly became a victim of both verbal and physical abuse. All our friends hated her, some couldn’t stand the thought of touching her. Her name was soon changed to ‘Ojuju Calabar’ (evil creep). They were convinced that she was a scary doll who should be chucked in the bin. There was one occasion one of them tried taking out her eyelashes!

Yes all of this happened several years ago, but the truth is that the Frida’s story reminds me a lot of what discrimination means, and how being different can quickly translate into hatred for others. Back then it was quite unusual to have or even play with a black doll, many kids thought it was creepy. For some unusual reason it didn’t translate as strange to me. There is nothing wrong with black dolls in my opinion, or is there?

What do you guys think? Is Frida really that bad? Look at her…

P.s: This post is in answer to DPchallenge , you should go check it out and participate!



Let the battle begin: Hard covers Versus ebooks






When I got the alert for this week’s writing challenge I grinned. I tried not to look too awkward because the alert had come in while conversing with a friend and I didn’t want to change the subject. So I put a pause on my trepidation (don’t ask me how) and I came back to write on it. So why am I so excited on writing about “the hard covers versus eBooks” debate? The truth is I just love books especially hard backs and let me just say I am an advocate for them. I find this debate very tricky because as much as I advocate for hard covers, most of my daily reading is from my phone! What is it with our love for hard backs and our less commitment to them? The answer is all too easy isn’t it? The internet and technology. Honestly speaking, having information in soft copies/eBooks is the fastest and most efficient medium of disseminating, assessing and consuming information. I mean when was the last time I picked up a newspaper? I don’t even remember because there is little or no need to. I could go on and on about the benefits of soft copies and ebooks without repeating a point. Sometimes I begin to second guess myself; are hard covers any good?

I got a hard copy of Chinua Achebe’s “There was a country” over the weekend and let me just say- it was a beautiful experience. I admired the hard back underneath the paper back, I ran my fingers through its thick pages and I finally smelt it- the fresh warm ink welcomed me to start reading. The font size was a tart too small but the experience with this beautiful hard back jolted me to read over a hundred pages in no time. What is it with hard copies though? There is this emotional attachment I dare say we form with hard covers than with ebooks or soft copies. It is such an episodic moment each time I read a hard cover that even when I forget the name of the book I never forget the colour! It is almost like our brains connect the information in the book with its physical characteristics and creates some strong emotional connection (I really should research on this), it is such a complex feeling with hard covers!

In summary I believe that an individual’s preference for ebooks and hard covers is mostly dependent on the individual himself, the genre of literature and of course the purpose of reading. Individuals differ a lot in terms of preferences, and from experience I have noticed that these preferences are contingent on the mood of the individual and other factors. So for instance, I might be in the mood to read a hard cover today because I am staying indoors but tomorrow I might be travelling and I wouldn’t want any extra item, so I might purchase an ebook. So with the individual factor, I think it is more an issue of convenience really.

Then there is the genre of literature. Personally, I prefer to read academic literature in hard copy than soft copy. For me,  if I have to memorise a lot of information at a time, there is no way I would want a lecture note for instance on my laptop or on my phone, I’ll rather have them in loose sheets and have a coloured pen handy for notes. So the genre or literature and the purpose of reading are much the same really. If I was reading for pleasure I might find myself at a cross road deciding how I want to read a book, but if I was perhaps reading for an exam I’ll definitely pick a hard cover over an ebook or a soft copy.

Bottom line, whether it is hard or soft copy you read, never forget a common but true fact: A good writer is one that reads.

If you enjoyed my take on the debate and would love to share in the conversation, feel free to comment and like this post. If you have a blog, you can write a post on this issue like I have done and share your link with me and DPchallenge

Writing Challenge: The Devil is in the details

Sitting on the marble cold step, I try to balance my laptop on one lap while reaching for my phone on the top step which contained the details of the writing challenge. I enjoy sitting on the middle of the three steps that lead into the living room. It is one of the only locations I find myself writing my best. One reason perhaps is because I can admire the living room area just in front of me. It is a rectangular room having paintings and sculptures hanging on each side of the wall graced with a huge red Persian rug in the middle and four leather couches on either sides of it. There is a huge brown clock hanging on the wall facing me, it is slightly higher than rest of the paintings. On the same side of the wall is an air condition and opposite it- where I sat is a white standing fan. The living room area was never warm provided one of those two was switched on.

I’m staring at my laptop screen and trying to type every detail from my visual focus, when I hear a mosquito. The buzzing gets louder with every second, and I get upset. “SWAT”. I missed. The buzzing continued. This insect was determined to derail my train of thoughts. I turned on the standing fan to ward it off. It worked! I sat back down to write some more, but I didn’t know what next to write.The clock kept ticking loudly.

The lights from the chandelier just above the rug suddenly seemed deem, I couldn’t tell whether it was the electricity or my eyes. Sleep was setting in and the fan wasn’t helping. I took my slipper off, and felt the cool floor with the sole of my feet; it woke me up a little. My right feet absently stepped on an object; it was small and hard. I picked it up with my toes. Holding it in my hands now, i could see It was the missing letter ‘d’ the kids had been looking for earlier in the day to complete a puzzle. I tucked it into my bag, hoping to give it to them tomorrow. I looked at the wall clock and decided my writing time was over. Then, I hit the ‘publish’ button .

Searching for motivation

                                                                                     motivation book

One of the worst feelings in the world in my opinion, has to be searching for something (perhaps your phone) which was just on you a few minutes ago. I mean what can be more frustrating? You know that the item you are searching for is right in front of you, but you just can’t see it.

Searching for a physical object cannot be as annoying as searching for a feeling, a non-concrete ‘object’  like Motivation.

Motivation is that fuel that every human has to have to perform  at their very best.

It is that kick that will make an athlete run that extra mile when out of breath.

It is that attitude that will keep you smiling when you are taunted.

Having motivation can prevent negative feelings or attitudes like inertia and even procrastination.

What breaks my heart the most is that this fuel- motivation is not the kind of natural resource that has a price tag on it. We are the sole producers of that feeling. It begs the question; Why can’t I have motivation all the time? Why must I search for it like I will my phone?

Every writer needs motivation, without that feeling it would be difficult to get the right inspiration to write.  One way I have struggled with mine is by subscribing to daily prompts and trying to post as often as I can. Well it is quite hard to do that if you don’t have the right inspiration. On Tuesday I ran into the daily post challenge and I told myself I should accept this challenge and post something for five days.

For five days I searched for motivation and I could not find him. He evaded me. The truth is the only reason I did not ‘just do it’ was because I spent too long thinking about what to write. The only way to be good at writing is to just write as often as possible.

At the end of the  fifth day, which is today I discovered that the problem with my approach of finding motivation was the amount of time I spent looking for it in the first place. The truth is, when searching for something you don’t have to be the one who will find it, someone else might discover the missing item.

My point is, motivation is not waiting out there; getting on with the task at hand might be a step closer toward that burst of energy and feeling you need to write.

How have you searched for motivation? Please share your comments with me right here one this page.