Finding my inner Picasso at 29 :-)

Finding my inner Picasso at 29 :-)

Hello good people! Now that it’s November (in typical Nigerian fashion, Happy New Month), I can safely declare that birthday season is over. That said, we are open for gifts all day, every day, lol.  This is also a good place to say Thank You again for all the good wishes, cakes, prayers, more cakes, gifts, calls, even more cakes and outpouring of love.

Its raining cakes - halleluyah!
Its raining cakes – halleluyah!

Thinking through how to celebrate my birthday this year was a bit of a task. This is what happens when you’ve done almost everything doable for birthdays. I have thrown house parties, non-house parties (my 21st birthday party was actually held at an event center – a bit OTT, I know *covers face* ha ha), hosted dinners, hosted dessert parties, and all sorts. When I turned 24, I found myself outside the country on a work project and I discovered how ‘peaceful and cost-effective’ birthdays could be when you are out of town.

24th birthday in Dubai
24th birthday – Dubai
25th birthday - Venice
25th birthday – Venice

Quick Tip: It is always a good idea to take the day off on your birthday. It’s really tough to be productive when you are busy answering calls, responding to messages and trying to feed your colleagues. Besides, your tasks/deliverables don’t know it’s your birthday and hey, work needs to get done, so it’s better to be officially away than to be distracted at the office.  The downside is that the cake/gift delivery guys might find it hard to locate your house, lol.

1st birthday party
1st birthday – game face on 🙂


5th birthday - game face still on!
5th birthday – game face still on!

Even as a little girl, I always insisted on celebrating my birthdays. I was one of those children who without fail, on their birthday every year, showed up at school with a cake and a crate of soft drinks (or minerals as we called it back then), and showed up at church later in the week on Sunday with another cake and another crate of ‘minerals’ 🙂

4th birthday - with Primary school Headmistress and Proprietress
4th birthday – at school with Headmistress and Proprietress

When I got to secondary school, I celebrated EVERY birthday in a big way (whatever big means in a Federal Government College situated deep in a village, away from any civilization) and birthdays at university were not any different.

18th birthday - mandatory cake pose :-)
18th birthday – mandatory cake pose 🙂
28th birthday - surprise celebration while studying for an exam
28th birthday – surprise celebration while studying for an exam

Now that I think about it, I was happy to spend other people’s money (OPM) on celebrating birthdays in a big way, lol (thank you Mum and Dad) but once I started working and earning, I became more aware of budgets and other constraints. Can I get a witness? Hahaha. Now it makes sense that the last big party I had was my 21st birthday which was just before I started working full-time.

23rd birthday ice-cream party
23rd birthday – Ice cream party (on a budget)

Anyway, fast forward to 2016, I had just gone back to work in September after a year away where I invested all of my savings and did not earn any money, and so, I definitely could not afford to travel on my birthday. So that ruled out any exotic foreign birthday plans  – I know my village is exotic in its own way but naa, lol. At the beginning of the month, I was so sure I was not going to celebrate, and I would just have a nice day at work. But about 10 days to the time, I started feeling that birthday itch and with the countless ‘what are we doing for your birthday’ questions that I was being asked, my brain started spinning.

I wanted to celebrate in a different way. I wanted to do something that would be memorable for me and my guests. I know some of my very good friends who attended my 21st birthday party still have some of the souvenirs we gave out (yes, we gave out souvenirs like it was a wedding, lol – don’t judge me, I was young, lol) but I won’t call them memorable. Besides, souvenirs can’t last forever. Having ruled out dinner, ice-cream, beach party (who has time to even coordinate?), destination birthday party (if I did this for my 29th, what will be left to do for my 30th, lol) and all the regular suspects, I was left with only one option – an art/painting party!

Paint The Night Africa is a company that organizes pop-up sip and dip events – where guests become ‘Picasso’ for a few hours by following the directions of a professional art instructor. The best part is that you get to take your own painting home!!! How’s that for a memorable souvenir?

29th birthday - Hello Picassa
29th birthday – Hello Picassa

I found PTNA on Instagram a while back while I was researching ways to celebrate my bestie’s 30th birthday but she wasn’t keen. I just contacted them, told them what i wanted and voila, we were in business. As I am an ‘ajala traveller’ and I still wanted to trick my mind that we were abroad for this birthday, I chose to have a travel-themed painting. It was a fabulous idea until it was time to paint.

It was all fun and games before we started painting
It was all fun and games before we started painting

I am one of those people who cannot draw a straight line or a circle without erasing at least once. So drawing and painting are not my forte. I would rather sing than paint – and people who know me well know that I’m not quite the singer, lol. What seemed so easy for most of my guests was so difficult for me. I was wayyy out of my comfort zone. I remember feeling so frustrated midway because my painting was not coming out as planned. My own mix of yellow and red did not produce the desired orange and my clouds did not form the right pattern. Yup, as birthday girl, I got to blame the colors and the brush for not cooperating with me, lol.

Halfway through - not looking good :-|
Halfway through – not looking great 😐

I was really getting worked up and then I remembered that we were all there to have FUN! It was not so serious after all – I was not in an evaluative situation and it was okay to have a different shade of orange or my own customized cloud patterns. I got the hosts to play some upbeat music, sat up in my chair, started making jest of other people’s paintings and decided to have a great time. And I did! The night ended on a high note – folks got to sign their paintings and take them home, we took tons of pictures and had a good time laughing at each other’s paintings.

Art Squad
Art Squad
More of the Art Squad
More of the Art Squad

This is what typically happens when you are trying out something new or operating outside your comfort zone. You get frustrated and uncomfortable with not being on your A-game. In those situations, the best A-game to be on is your Attitude game – your positive attitude game. As we learn, grow and progress in our lives, careers and businesses, we will always find ourselves in situations that stretch us and make us uncomfortable. You start a new job and you are no longer the expert in the room. You move to a new apartment and you are the newbie (or JJC as we call it) in the building. You start a new business and you are now the learner on the block.

The best way to navigate these uncomfortable situations is to have the right attitude. Have an open heart, open up your mind to learn, accept that your journey might be slightly different from others’, find reasons to laugh and have fun! In the end, it will be alright 🙂

My materpiece - not perfect but mine anyway :-)
My masterpiece – not perfect, but mine all the same 🙂

Here’s to new adventures and being on our positive A-game at all times!


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