Under Pressure 

Photo courtesy Volkswagen USA

I have never been more afraid than I was today; my two year old was trapped in the car with the car key locked inside, I stood outside the car in shock and panic and I thought of a hundred ways to break the glass without hurting my child. 

My Monday mornings are typically very busy, I work full time and take my pre-schooler to school first before driving to work. His school is not far from my office, but we live about an hour away, so we usually leave the house at about 6 am to beat Lagos traffic. My son Joshua is pretty much use to the routine, at first it was a hassle getting him up early, but these days he is up before I am.

The past couple of weeks have been particularly tiring for both of us, we wake up too late to sit down and have breakfast like a normal family. I decided it would be better to have breakfast in the car at Josh’s school car park- that way we beat the traffic and still have some quality time together before Josh goes in to school. Josh loves eating in the car anyway, so this little change in our routine was great. 

On this day we were having French toast. I usually move to the back seat to seat next to Josh who is in his car seat eating to reduce potential spills. I could easily let one of his teachers feed him instead, but Josh would somehow end up not eating his breakfast. It was drizzling that morning so it was a bit chilly, the car windows were up and the air conditioner was off. Josh had just finished his first toast and was half way through his hot chocolate. I could see he was sweating; the car was getting a bit hot. I could easily have shuffled myself back to the driver’s seat if I had on trousers however I didn’t want to risk tearing my skirt, so I got out of the car to turn on the air conditioner which would only come on if the car was on. The moment I got out, I realised I had made a mistake. I heard the car lock behind me. I tried to open the door but it was locked. My head went blank and I pulled at the door handle repeatedly expecting a different result each time. I stopped and looked into the now misty glass. Josh was looking back at me with no expression. I could feel the tears coming, I was hardly breathing and felt faint. I wanted to call for help but the car park was empty, the security man was somewhere outside the compound, far from the scene. I weighed my options, I scanned the car park in search of a stone, big enough to break the car glass, I looked at Josh again he had come out of his car seat and was attempting to open the door. It wasn’t opening. I started panicking, my car was only 6 months old and I was still trying to understand how the lock system worked. I had left the smart key in the ignition in the hope of turning it on with my foot on the pedal from the driver’s seat. However, by getting out of the car, it had automatically locked itself.

 I scanned the car park again, nothing had changed; we were alone. I didn’t want to leave my son in the car while I went for help. So I told him, “Josh, Mummy needs you to get the key to open the car, come grab the stirring wheel.” I pointed to the driver’s seat. He quickly shuffled forward and sat on the driver’s seat, “I need you to pull out the key” I said to him slowly, loud enough for him to hear me. He looked at the key and looked  back at me, I nodded “Yes, pull it out” He put his little hand around the key and pulled. It didn’t respond. He kept trying to pull out the key repeatedly with both hands, the key wasn’t budging. Josh’s school uniform was soaked in his own sweat, I worried that he might suffocate if I didn’t break the glass. Just then, I saw the security guard and another parent standing a few meters away. At that point I didn’t know whether I could trust my son or let someone break the window and possibly hurt my son in the process. The security guard was already standing next to me, I couldn’t  hear what he was saying, I told he and the parent not to worry. They obviously did not believe me because the parent ran into the school to get help. I decided that I had to ignore them and trust my little boy could do this. 

“Josh you can do this, pull it harder” I said repeatedly to him. After trying for about 2 long minutes the key suddenly came out and Josh pulled the door handle to give me the key- the car was still locked. 

He looked at me with fear in his eyes, “You’ve been such a good boy, stay calm.” I said to him trying not to cry. “On the key I need you to press the last button to open the door.”  Josh whose attention was wearing off pressed the first button and the boot opened. I shook my head, “Baby, the third one.” I kept saying desperate for the car to open. 

The Car suddenly unlocked, I pulled the door handle immediately, yanking it wide open, picked up my son and gave him the tightest hug and filled his face with kisses. 

We stood outside in the rain as I cried and thanked God that my son had miraculously saved the day. 

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Grandma

‘I just can not believe he would do such a thing! I’m so angry…’ her voice trailed off. I had been eavesdropping for three minutes and I still did not know what made mum so mad. I knew it had something to do with Dad, it always did. She was talking with Grandma but I could only hear her voice. Grandma was soft spoken, even in regular conversations you had to read her lips to understand what she was saying. From where I was standing, on the landing I could only see Mum, the living room door was barely open. 

The phone rang suddenly.

‘Hello. Yes. Speaking. I would be right there’ Mum hung up. ‘That was the Police’ she said frantically. I could see mum pacing around the room likely looking for her hand bag. ‘Take care of Elsa for me.’ She said hurriedly, the front door shut loudly behind her.

I tip-toed back upstairs, but Grandma was already at the living room door trying to make sense of why I was walking funny. ‘What are you doing up at this time?’ She whispered.

‘I-I just wanted some water, good night Grandma.’ I started for the stairs again, running through them in twos.

‘Elsa darling, since you are up you might as well have some tea with your favourite Granny’ She said looking up at me.

I knew what ’tea’ meant and I did not want to be a part of this.

‘Err I don’t want tea.. you were right I should be asleep’

‘Nonsense my child, come come back down Elsa’ she motioned with her hands  ‘ I’m going to put the kettle on’.

Grandma seemed so small looking down at her from the top of the stairs. Something in her eyes made me scared of disobeying her quiet order.

I began the descent one step at a time. Grandma watched me patiently with a weird smile. She held her left hand toward me. When I reached the final step, I took her out stretched hand and looked into her eyes and that was the last thing I remembered.

 

I could hear the toads croaking and see the birds flying indistinctly from tree to tree. I could barely see, I was lying on dirt in my pyjamas under a tree. The sun was not out yet but the forest was awake. I searched around for Grandma, she was not with me. ‘Grandma’ I got on my feet, my head was spinning, it was difficult to focus. ‘Grandma’ I shouted this time. I looked up at the tree I was under and realised that I knew it, it was not far from the house. Getting my skewed bearing in check, I began walking in the general direction of the house. I could not understand what was I doing here, how did I get here? I soon noticed that the ground became really wet, and uncomfortable, I looked down and realised I was walking in mud. I panicked and I tried to run back to the tree but I could not see it. So I stopped. I considered the possibility that I was dreaming. I slapped myself and pinched my nose and closed my eyes, nothing seemed to wake me up. Suddenly, I saw the torch light. ‘Grand Ma?’ I whispered walking toward the light.  

‘Elsa, Elsa’ I could hear her old raspy voice. She pointed her torch at me. It felt like she was holding two torchlights. I used my elbows to block out the light. ‘Oh my goodness Elsa I thought I had lost you’ Grandma picked me up and gave me the tightest hug. Just then, I realised Mum was standing next to her, ‘Elsa you cannot just run away like that’ Mum yelled, she seemed upset and not as pleased to see me, something was wrong. ‘I did not run away Mum, Grandma… she brought me here, and, and…’ the more I explained the more I felt stupid, I could feel Mum’s burning stare on me. ‘What Elsa is trying to say is that she is sorry and would not behave like that again, would you Elsa?’ Grandma cut in. I looked back at Grandma. I could not understand what was happening, why was she lying like she was not the one who brought me to the forest, how did she get back to the house so quickly, how many minutes had I been knocked out?

‘Grandma why did you bring me here?’ I raised my voice at her and she just stared at me like I was crazy. ‘Let’s get you home Elsa, we would talk about this in the morning’ Mum said holding my arm tightly and pulling me away from Grandma.

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I decided to try my hands on thriller. I have come to appreciate that it is hard to gauge fear. There are just too many questions a Writer has to ask, the most important I think is, ‘how lost do you want your reader to be?’ I usually enjoy leaving the end of my stories as open as possible- incase I want a sequel, or to elicit various interpretations from the reader. With ‘Grandma’ I am still undecided, I’ll leave it to you, would you want a sequel, were you confused? I’ll really appreciate your comments.

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Photo Challenge: “Between”

For this week’s photo challenge, I chose to capture my understanding of ‘Between’ with a picture of a lettuce, ham and bacon wrap. What I love the most about this picture is the fact that the sweet chili sauce sips from between the wrap.
One of the most difficult aspect of making a good wrap is having the right amount of sauce in there. Capturing the moment some of the sauce seeps out of the wrap might illustrate to me imperfection while to another a perfect yummy photo.
Sometimes the detail in between might be the right trigger to our understanding of a picture

Time to De-clutter

tidy

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.

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.