Life Lately: November highlights and the December Giveaway

Hi guys!! I am so excited about December – I can’t even keep calm. It has been a very busy period at work but that has not made my excitement about December wane one bit! But before we get into December matters, let me do a quick recap of my November.

  1. Going on a digital detox. I took most of the month of November off social media (yup, second digital detox for the year) and it felt so good. On some days, I felt a little left out of whatever was happening on Instagram, especially the celebrity weddings that happened (you know I love LOVE *insert dreamy eyes*) but on most days, I was just content with living the simple life with Whatsapp, lol. The jury is still out on whether Whatsapp should be considered social media but until the jury decides, I will be sitting quietly on my ‘Whatsapp-is-just-SMS-on-steroids’ lane 😊
  2. Meeting Sir Richard Branson! Yes!!!!! I met The Original Virgin Oga in person and even though I took a picture, it still feels like a dream.
    With the Oga himself

    I was chatting with a friend in the lobby of a hotel and just saw Sir Branson walk past casually. At first, I thought I was ‘seeing double’ because he was alone and I did not see any hefty bodyguards or security personnel hovering around the area. He was just taking a break from his dinner and going to the bathroom – no fanfare, no paparazzi. Although we waved ‘Hello’ to him on his way to the bathroom, we spent some time debating if we should/could ask for a picture with him. We asked nicely and he obliged us!!!!!!!

    I wish I had engaged him a bit more in some light conversation (not sure if he would have had my time sef) but it would have been great to just hear him spill wisdom in his British accent, lol.

    What makes this interesting is that I had received 2 of his motivational videos via Whatsapp earlier that week and I had spent some time reflecting on the content of the messages so he was in my consciousness. Bumping into him ‘by chance’ that evening did not feel like a random coincidence.

    Moral of the story: Be very deliberate about the things you allow into your mind and consciousness. You become what you think. You attract what you think. I don’t know how else to say this but it is so true and it has been proven time and time again.

  3. Seeing John Legend in concert: Continuing in the theme of seeing famous people, I also got to attend a John Legend concert in Johannesburg. Wow! John Legend is truly amazing. He is a fantastic performer and his voice is rich, silk and goosebumps-inducing. He performed for 2 solid hours and kept the whole crowd engaged. Of course, he did his usual move of getting a girl from the crowd on stage and then serenading her. Oh boy, the girl almost passed out from excitement, hahaha. And to end the show, there was no shame in the game as we all raised our hands/phones while singing ‘All of Me’ like it was a worship song, lol.

    Many shades of Legend
  4. Officially learning how to edit videos and vlog: On my trip to Zimbabwe a few weekends back (yes, I went to Zimbabwe when Mugabe was still President), I was unable to do my IG stories because of the digital detox so I decided to take short videos of my trip and do a short vlog on the entire experience. Doing the research about what tools/apps to use for my amateur movie launched me into the deep world of multimedia and video editing and honestly, I know this is not my current calling in life. I am happy to be in front of the camera trying to speak phonetics (hahaha) but all the gymnastics that happens in the production, post-production etc are still well above my paygrade for now. I promise to push through and finish this particular ‘vlogpost’ (what is the video equivalent of a blogpost?) which I will share with you all shortly.

    Zimbabwe highlights – for more details, wait for the vlog!
  5. Doing my last adrenaline-rush activity for the year (or ever!!): 2017 was definitely the year of adrenaline for me. I went zip-lining in March, skydiving in April and now, I just went gorge-swinging. Up until a month ago, I had never heard of gorge-swinging but it is essentially the older brother of bungee-jumping. There is no need to talk too much about this one. You will see the video on the vlog 😊
    My power pose after doing the gorge swing… Don’t be deceived,my knees were still shaking here

    p.s – the scarf on my head was to make sure the wig didn’t fall off, hahahahaha!

  6. Finding the ‘30 billion’ that Davido has been singing about. I found it plus some extra change for the road, hahahahaha.
    50 Billion in the account!

    No moral of the story here. I am just excited to announce that I am now a billionaire! Yaaay! Hahahahahaha.

Note: That bill is no longer legal tender in Zimbabwe and was worth only $1. Please o, don’t come looking for me, lol.

Alright now – December is upon us and I am very excited to announce the Kemi’s Christmas giveaway scheduled to run from the 1st – 24th of December.

The Christmas Giveaway

I announced this on Instagram a few days ago and the comments on that post were HILARIOUS!!! I think the most hilarious response to the giveaway announcement had to be from Mama Kemi. She called me and told me that she is not interested in any of the gifts in the giveaway but she was creating her own gift category and I had to make sure she was the one who won it. I was just weak, hahahahaha.

So why this giveaway? First, we all know that the essence of Christmas is giving – God gave us His Son, Jesus and so the best way to celebrate is by giving. Secondly, in my last post, I told you all how Ofe (my cousin) was such a big giver and since her relocation to heaven, her legacy of giving relentlessly has been top of mind for me. I had been thinking about what/how to give and once I made the decision to spend this Christmas in Lagos, I knew that my December travel fund was to be put to good use.

The original plan for the giveaway was to gift 12 of my favorite things (ranging from boli/grilled plantain & fish to an all-expense paid international trip) to one of my Nigerian Instagram readers/followers, every 2nd day between the 1st and 24th of December. However, since the announcement, a few more people have reached out to me to say they want to donate gifts to the giveaway. Isn’t that just beautiful? Now, we are up to about 18 gifts which will be won EVERY DAY from the 1st of December!!! I am hoping we get to 24/25 gifts and end with a bang on Christmas day! BOOM!!! Or maybe even have gifts every day till the very end of the year – now that would be EPIC!!!!!!

The giveaway is being hosted on Instagram and to participate/qualify to win, you have to follow me (so that you can actually see the different gifts every day), follow the specific vendor for the gift you want to win and like the post announcing the gift you want to win. That’s all. Everyday winners will be randomly selected from the list of folks who like the post and follow the vendor. SIMPLE!

The side-eye I am giving anyone who tries to do ojoro in this giveaway

You don’t need to repost, you don’t need to create a hashtag, you don’t need to comment, you don’t need to beg all your friends and family to like your comment (it is not a popularity contest). All you gotta do is, Follow the vendor, Like the post and Pray to God for favour so that your name is randomly selected. I can only imagine how many prayer requests are sent up to heaven now– thank God He has capacity to listen to all of us at the same time, hahahaha.

That’s all for now folks! I encourage you to look for ways to give and be a blessing to people around you, no matter how small, because ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive’.

Hugs and Christmas cheers,

Kemi

p.s – Look out for the vlog on my trip to Victoria Falls – coming soon to a YouTube screen near you 😊

 

 

Where to spend Christmas? I am dreaming of a GREEN Christmas!

*playing Mariah Carey’s Christmas album in the background*

Hello beautiful people, long time, no read. I know it’s been a while, so many things have happened since I last wrote – President-elect Trump, WIMBIZ annual conference, Ondo elections, Wedding Party premiere (reviews, anyone?), and so much more.  I am super excited about the new month of December and all the season represents – giving, sharing, loving, dining, exploring and even more giving.

I know so many people are wondering where and how to spend the Christmas holidays this year. I am as well. The ways in which I celebrate Christmas have evolved over the years. From hosting Christmas parties at home, to taking family trips both abroad and within Lagos (Mama Kemi is the queen of staycations), to more recently (when the ajala travel bug bit me), taking solo trips and returning just before December 30th to ensure I ‘cross-over’ and spend New Year with family.

Since 2013, on my flight back home from wherever I had spent Christmas, I type up a thanksgiving letter to God, highlighting everything that I am thankful for in the year. Everything from my family to my career; from safe passage in all my work and personal travels (doing Lagos-Abuja safely every week for 6 months deserves special thanks to God, no?) to friends and family who got engaged or married and loved ones who had babies (adding to my ever-increasing list of god-children and my bridal train); from new friends made and old friends I am still in touch and in love with, to my health, well-being, weight, and BMI (lol);  from my ‘toasters’ and the fun times, the break-ups and the lessons learned, to improvements in my spiritual life and attitude. E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G! The first thanksgiving letter I wrote was 8 pages long, font size 12, regular spacing – you get the point. I wasn’t generalizing, I was mentioning actual names of people, places, exact events, organizations, etc. I don’t think I realized I knew how blessed I was until I wrote this letter. It is easy to say ‘count your blessings’ but how can you really count those blessings if you don’t ‘name them one by one’? Sorry for the digression (not really sorry sha, lol)

Give THANKS!
Give THANKS!

My first Christmas away from family was in 2011 which I spent in Calabar. I spent some time in Tinapa with a close friend and his family, and then moved to Calabar town itself on Christmas Eve as they geared up for the main carnival. My dear friend Andie was a fabulous hostess, and I enjoyed spending Christmas morning at her family house, listening to Mariah’s Christmas album on replay while getting ready to go to church for the Christmas service. Afterwards, we went party/get-together hopping across town and I met up with some old friends who also came in from Lagos for the carnival. I also had a blast spending time with some new friends I made at the airport during the severe 10-hour delay on our Lagos-Calabar flight. The carnival on 27th December felt truly like Africa’s biggest street party. I know I have not been to any other African street parties yet, but the sheer number of people was overwhelming!  And you know we have numbers in Nigeria, so I would not really doubt that claim, lol. It was amazing to see how the quiet little town of Calabar comes ALIVE in December!

Calabar, 2011
Calabar, 2011

To be honest, I actually really missed not being with my immediate family on Christmas day but being with long-time friends helped. Whatever the case, make sure you are spending time with your loved ones. After crossing the first non-family Christmas hurdle, it became easier to go away again. Christmas 2013 was spent in Dubai, mainly resting and reflecting. Big highlight of that trip was seeing the world famous Cirque du Soleil on their Michael Jackson Immortal tour. It was mesmerizing! I remember having to close my mouth more than a few times, lol. When you travel, not every time shopping, sometimes memorable experiences!

Enough reminiscing. Kemi, what are ‘we’ doing for Christmas this year? Being the planner that I am, I would have figured out the answer to this question since October (usually after the birthday celebrations) but for some reason, I have not been able to finalize Christmas plans. I had some grand plans to visit Zambia with my Aunt (my uncle is married to a Zambian) but somehow that didn’t quite pan out. ‘Somehow’ here really means forex, lol. So I have eaten some humble pie and decided to look inwards (within Nigeria) to figure out how to have a very ‘green’ but memorable Christmas. In fact, I don’t like white (snowy) Christmases – you know my relationship with cold and winter is not exactly warm. 🙂

Here are a few ideas I have toyed with but still have not had the time or mental space to conclude on – I need help!

  1.    Calabar (again!) – I hear that every year the carnival gets better and bigger, and I think it would be fun to see how things have evolved 5 years later. Social Prefect is planning a trip to Calabar this Christmas. I think I will hola at her ASAP to see if there are still spaces on that trip – they get pretty sold out quickly. Nigerians love a good party!

    Social Prefect Calabar Tour
    Social Prefect Calabar Tour (PC: Social Prefect)
  2.    Obudu Mountain Resort – Still staying in the Cross-River region, I think Obudu might be a great idea. Does the fact that it shares a border with Cameroon make it almost abroad? Lol. I have considered Obudu many times but because I am not a big fan of long trips, I have not been able to convince myself that the extra 3-4 or 5-6 hour road trip after landing in Enugu or Calabar respectively, will be worth it. I hear the cable cars are no longer functioning – can somebody please fix them?
    Obudu Resort (PC: Hotels.ng)
    Obudu Resort (PC: Hotels.ng)

    I hear these babies don't work anymore :-(
    I hear these babies don’t work anymore 🙁
  3.    Inagbe Grand Resorts – Still keeping it ‘resorty’, Inagbe also seems quite appealing. 15mins boat ride from Ikoyi and you are in Lagos paradise. I looked at the video tour on their website and it seems like a decent place with a good mix of fun activities and relaxation options. This might actually be worth exploring. What would make it even better would be to go with a group of loved ones!
    Inagbe so pretty!
    Inagbe so pretty! (PC:Inagbe Resorts website)

    Inagbe again
    Inagbe again (PC: Inagbe Resorts website)
  4. Staycation in Lagos – There is also the option of just booking a hotel somewhere in this Lagos and spending a few days there. It is always nice to have someone else wait on you. With all the concerts and events in Lagos this December, wouldn’t it be great to be able to enjoy the event to the end without worrying about annoying your neighbours when you get home late because your gateman will not hear you honking incessantly?  Around this time, most hotels have Christmas packages so I might be able to find a sweet deal. Now, all I need is the time to go hunting for this sweet deal. Sigh. Friends, please if you know any decent hotel with a good Christmas package, please share with a sister.
  5. Road trip across West Africa – Going by road to some of the neighboring West African countries also seems like a great idea. You get to see a lot of beautiful sights, enjoy the scenery and discover new terrains on a budget! My favorite countries for road trips are Ghana and Benin Republic. I am not sure I would want to drive to Cape Verde sha, lol. If you don’t want to have to explain to policemen at different borders that your car is actually yours (although it carries your father’s name) or that your international driver’s license is legit, I suggest you go with a tour company. They take away all the logistical hassle. All you need to do is show up, doze during the road trip, but please don’t drool! Pictures are unforgiving, lol. For Benin Republic this December, Naija Nomads has a tour between 27th and 30th December. Check them out!

    Naija Nomads goes to Cotonou
    Naija Nomads goes to Cotonou (PC: Naija Nomads)
  6.  La Campagne Tropicana Beach Resort – does this still count as Lagos? If yes, refer to (4) above. If no, refer to (3) above. Lol. The prices though, you will just want to do half-day there! If you know La Campagne prices, then you will understand my next suggestion.
  7.  Village runs – Reconnect with your roots. My last surviving grandparent passed on in June, so this is not really an option for me right now. But wait, even if you don’t have living grandparents, who says you can’t visit grand-aunts and uncles? This is definitely a nice, cost-effective *coughs* way to spend the holiday. Turn it into a culture trip – explore parts of your village/town you never knew existed, ask your older relatives for the history of your family/village and don’t forget to ask them to spook you out with folk tales and legendary stories.

    Horse rider display at Ijebu Ojude-Oba Festival (PC:BISCON)
    Horse rider display at Ijebu Ojude-Oba Festival (PC:BISCON)

Regardless of what we get up to, we must remember 2 things. First, the main premise of this season is GIVING. Gift exchanges are nice, I mean, who does not love Secret Santa? But this is beyond just exchanging gifts. Giving to people who cannot give you anything back in return is extremely powerful and fulfilling. Give it a try. The temptation to the tight-fisted in this ‘not-so-buoyant’ economy is very strong, but don’t let that stop you. It is the liberal soul that will be made fat. Make sure you include a budget line for ‘giving’ as you think about how to spend your 13th month or bonus. Give your domestic staff 13th month bonuses too. Take gifts to the orphanages or old peoples home. If you don’t have the time, give money to people who have the time and have set up programs to meet these needs. If you don’t have time and money right now, surely you have some old baffs/clothes, shoes, household stuff that you don’t really need anymore. No excuses guys!

Second, we must take the time to reflect on the year – the highs, the lows, the lessons learned, the changes that need to be made, the dreams that need to be revived, the risks that need to be taken, etc. I hear there is a new hashtag for this:  #turndowntoturnup. Don’t just use the hashtag, actually write down the things that you need to turn down, and the things that you need to turn up, turn it into a vision board, share with 1-2 people you can truly be accountable to and then run with it. Who hashtag alone ‘epp’?

Okay guys, we need more ideas. What are WE doing for Christmas this year?

Hugs,

Kemi