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It is not about the money.

I didn’t write a review of 2013. Not because I didn’t want to, but because I couldn’t. It wasn’t a bad year. It wasn’t exactly a good year either. It was… just another year. At least, it felt that way. The year ended with me being very uncertain about a lot of things. Yet, very determined to make sense out of everything. I just wanted an opportunity to start over.

So I took my annual leave in January. Who does that? Who takes their leave for the year at the beginning of it? In fact, many organizations wouldn’t let you, but I think I did a pretty good job convincing my employers to let me have it. As I wrote the memo applying for my leave, I knew somewhere in my head that it might as well be my resignation letter. And it was. I didn’t go back. (Thankfully, I was able to officially resign and blah blah). Everyone thought I was crazy. Did I have a back-up plan? Nope! I just quit. I knew I couldn’t stay another day slaving away at a job I loathed simply because I expected a cheque at the end of the month.

It is not about the money.

I started a travel group at the beginning of the year (the most amazing bunch) and began volunteering at a new job almost immediately after I left the old one. This was my way of starting over. Of making sense of a lot of things. Haha! I know! I left a paying job for one of uncertainty and no pay-cheque at the end of the month. It seems the older I get, the more risks I’m willing to take. Weird. I needed the time to figure out my next move and because I didn’t want to stay home twiddling my thumbs, I took this gig, refusing to be paid for it. So I worked for most of this year without earning, but I gained a lot of experience and learned tons more than I did at the paying job. Thank God for savings! But then we all know what happens when you’re taking and not replacing… sigh.

It is not about the money.

I resigned from the second job at the end of October because I’d learned what I needed to. I’d done enough planning, it was time for action. And so armed with nothing but a box of clothes, a few of my favorite books, the embarrassing sum that was my bank balance, and a lot of dreams, I moved to Lagos.  Apparently, visiting Lagos and actually living here are two completely different things. Boy, was I in for a shocker! But I am finally in a field that I love (miraculously getting a job less than two weeks after I arrived, and with the best work schedule), and I’m starting to feel less like a fish out of water.

A man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore. – Andre Gide

There’s a lot of talk about wanting to go after our dreams and desiring opportunities for a do-over. A lot of talk, very little action. I didn’t want to be all-talk anymore. 2014 was about going after the things that I truly have an interest in. And I’m learning that even this, as exciting as it is, isn’t all chocolates and roses. There are bad days. Really bad days. Days when you will talk yourself into almost believing that all of this is a waste of time. Almost. Days when all you have in your wallet is just enough for the cab ride home. Days when you will feel completely and utterly alone. Alone and lonely. Days when all you have to eat will be the last granola bar. But there are good days. Really good days. Great days. Incredible days. And they more than make up for the bad ones. They make it all worth it. Rewarding.

It is not about the money.

2014 was about learning what it really is about.

I met someone amazing this year. Then months later, I was left wondering how something so perfect could be oh-so-painful. I won’t go into details here but there is healing. And it was Richard from Texas who spoke the words that carried new life in them:

“He probably was [your soul mate]. Your problem is you don’t understand what that word means. People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that’s holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life. A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then they leave. And thank God for it. Your problem is, you just can’t let this one go… That was his job, and he did great. Problem is, you can’t accept that this relationship had a real short shelf life. You’re like a dog at a dump, baby – you’re just lickin’ at an empty can, trying to get more nutrition out of it. And if you’re not careful, that can’s gonna get stuck on your snout forever and make your life miserable. So drop it.”

Words of wisdom, courtesy Richard from Texas, C/o Elizabeth Gilbert in her book, Eat, Pray, Love (bless your heart, Ozoz, for this gift). Whether or not he’s right about the use of the term is discussion for another day, at least, I agree that there are people sent into your life for various reasons and then they leave because their job is done.

So this is, “Thank you, Honeyfall, for doing such a great job… (And all the other things I’ve already said to you…) Love & light.”

My relationship with God also kinda hit a snag at some point this year. I didn’t walk away, but I wasn’t really there as much as I should have been. Funny how the experiences that ought to bring you closer to Him can also leave you with so much doubt. Thankfully, He isn’t afraid of my questions, and He is oh-so-patient. Again, not going into details here. But I’m finding Him once more (just as He found me), strangely, not from the pulpit but mostly in the words of strangers and in the hearts of friends. In the quiet of my heart and the most reassuring whispers. In the most unlikely and unfamiliar places and spaces. The wonder of my Lover and Father. This is me, ragamuffin, hearing the Voice of my Lover, “Come away, my love, my fair one…” And I’m taking the walk, unsteady steps, wailing heart, curious mind, wounded soul and all that is left of me. Baby steps, Abba.

Baby steps all the way into 2015 all that there is to learn there. To do. To be. Baby steps into telling myself the truth. And healing. And recovering. And flourishing. Baby steps with my art. With my (he)art. Baby steps with the music. Yes, I’m still very uncomfortable sharing my music, and I’m still not used to people actually liking it. But, I will take it seriously, I promise. No more chickening out. Baby steps.

Oh, I turned 27 this year and it sort of seems like I’m getting to a place where I no longer feel like I’m running out of time. Sure, there are things to be done, but who said they have to be done by such and such a time? Who set it? Whose calendar? Pace yourself, baby. Do what you can while you can and enjoy the process. It is just as important as the destination. Baby steps.

There are no regrets. Only lessons learned and a determination to do better. To be better.

“Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for? Matthew 16:24-26 (MSG)

You do not speak words like these to a control-freak and worrywart like myself, but they are what my soul has anchored unto for this new phase, and very possibly, the rest of my life. And they are words I intend to judge my 2015 by.

This year, my blessings came in the form of people – those who seemed to show up at the darkest hour to help push me gently, but firmly into the light. Many times, without even realizing it…  Te’, first stranger, then friend; for your words and the light they shine on my path. Moe, for making the aloneness not feel so alone anymore. And ‘P, because you can be exceptionally wise. Toms, for offering a roof when the hotel bill was getting overwhelming. JSL; favorite critic, best muse. VE; for forcing me out of my comfort zone. Ozoz; fellow New Yorker and gentle inspiration. Tobi; ANGEL! Everyone else helping me make a home of this chaos that is Lagos. And Yellow Mitsubishi; because. Of course, there are those who have been here longer than 2014, I can’t put down all the names… Know that my heart is bursting with love for you.

“I have started living my own life. Imperfect and clumsy as it may look, it is resembling me now, thoroughly.”

PS. I wrote this at the beginning of December but didn’t turn it in because I just felt like something major was about to happen, even though I wasn’t expecting anything in particular. I don’t even know how to begin telling this story… Let’s just say that God is able and willing to do immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine!! My testimony is probably another 2000 words, so I’ll spare you. 2015 be looking live, yo!!!!

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We rejoice with you Kovie!!!!!!!!!! Your growth is sure and steady and unstoppable. Simply reading this and comparing it to the very first draft I received from you over four years ago, I can tell the huge difference. I’m blessed to know you and call you sister. Please share the rest of your testimony on Future New Yoker when you can.

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