naturallynaija

Identity

In many cultures, before any person is born there is much deliberation on what they will be called. How many letters will be in each name, which way will it be spelled? Are they a junior? Does their name symbolize a certain period? Growing up, I never understood why my parents decided on giving me a five letter name. I mean, five letters? Is that all they could do? As my peers would attempt to shorten their names, I’d continuously ask my parents why I couldn’t switch my ten-letter middle name with my first. As I got older and would start to understand the power of names, I became content with the placement in which my name was given to me.

NNEJI 

nne the mother ji to hold

the mother holds


from the Igbo language, southeastern Nigeria



The Igbo language is one of three main languages in Nigeria and it’s disheartening to say that it is on the verge of becoming a dying one. I for one, was not brought up learning to speak Igbo but, that will not stop me from making a solid effort to speak it now. 



Having the ability to speak my native tongue is just as important to me as my ability to accurately pronounce my names and understand the meanings behind them. Our names are who we are, and if you really think about it, your personality or the things that have taken place in your life can often times be traced back to the meaning of your name. 

There’s great power in a name, what’s yours? 

It's a Celebration
“You know what, it’s not your life, it’s life. Life is bigger than you, if you can imagine that. Life isn’t something you possess, it’s something you take part in and witness.” - Louis C.K.  

I can remember every single detail of this very day last year. Of course, people generally remember their birthday’s, for obvious reasons but, mine was different. I turned 25 years old, one of the largest milestones for any young adult. It’s the age where you’re legally allowed to rent a car without crazy insurance policies, your finances are supposed to be in order, and for some, the age when your elders expect for you to have been married with baby number one on the way.  I wasn’t interested in any of that, my main interest was how I was going to survive another day.

I went to sleep the night before in tears. I was sad for a multitude of reasons, but the main ones being that I was turning a year older and had nothing to show for it show off. At 25, I thought I was going to be driving the latest Mercedes Benz G-wagon, be engaged and have a career that paid me 9-figures…a girl can dream. Instead, at this point I had gone without a car for 9 months, love was far from an interest of mine and that 9-figure job?LOL. I would have been more viable to find $20 on the ground than to even fathom what it felt like to have a job to report to. I was broke, broken and after consulting WebMD for about 35 minutes, I came to the conclusion that I was mildly depressed.

Let’s backtrack a little bit….

January 18th, 2014, I picked up and moved across the country; against my father’s wishes,with $1500 in savings, two suitcases and a prayer. Two months prior to my move, a ton of negative things were happening in my life so, I changed my intentions and began attending a church that I liked. I heard God was dashing out blessings to those who were active visitors in His house. I’ve been a sorta-kinda Christian all my life. Went to church because it was what I was supposed to, prayed the trinity and listened to a few Marvin Sapp tunes here and there. I thought that was all I needed.

It was in the second week of my move that I realized that being a lukewarm Christian wasn’t going to take me anywhere. The place I thought I was moving turned out to be nothing I had imagined. I was sleeping on my friends couch, deathly afraid of the cat that lived underneath it. Our friendship started to get shaky when she asked me for my half of the rent and went completely left when a slight disagreement in the grocery store turned into an awkward situation. How could I fully express myself while living under someone else’s roof? I couldn’t go home, I wasn’t even a full month in. I  ended up moving to my Aunty’s place a little closer to SF but, still, not what I thought. In one month, my name had become “Aunty Nneji”. As cute as that may be, I was in no place to be anybody’s Aunty, I didn’t even feel like an adult. I went to spend the next seven months at my aunt’s place. Every day, I woke up and sent out what seemed to be 1000 job applications into the black hole of the Internet. I would get a few callbacks, but never any offers. Even with the H&M-Germany fellowship I was offered, my gratefulness was still lacking.  

It honestly wasn’t until this very day last year that I knew my life was to be lived like Christ, for Christ and through Christ. I made it clear that I would no longer walk in the shadows of anybody else who may have seemed like they had more than me.  

Fast forward to today, it’s September 3, 2015 …there are no feelings of sorrow around me. In fact, there shouldn’t be, I’m in Dubai celebrating life! From the bedroom floor tears and all last year to one of the most amazing places to be in the world this year. You cannot tell me that God is not good. Nobody can tell me that the God I serve is never on time. I am forever grateful for the hard times last year. The tears, the many times I’d been told no, my joblessness and the 6-10 grey hairs I grew.

As I’m typing this “Osondi Owendi” by one of the greatest Nigerian musicians of all time, the Late Mc Loph, just began playing. For my non-Igbo speakers, Osondi Owendi translates to ‘What is cherished by some people is despised by others’, 'some people are happy, others are sad, do what you want because people don’t matter.’ or… if you like, vex. Na you sabi…the last translation is my favorite, because it’s straight and to the point.

Some things to remember:

  1. There will be oppositions but with the Lord on your side, you can most definitely do anything.
  2. . God will triumph over all of the enemies. The only thing is, it won’t happen when you want it to.
  3. I believe that God purposely puts us through what we think at the time are the worst conditions, he tests us like no other.
  4. As soon as you become comfortable, just know that things are about to get shaken up.
  5. Keep reading the word, strive for greatness….even when you feel like you’ve done all you can do, God can and will bring you to higher heights, showing you that the things you feel are unattainable can be granted to you as long as your trust is in Him.
  6. If you’re going through something right now, just know that you were called to go through it. You’re not gonna get stuck there, you’re not going to die. You will survive.
  7. You can do whatever you put your mind to, the only thing is that you have to believe you can do it.

ARE YOU A BELIEVER? 

Happy Birthday to me and all you beautiful September babies. 

What’s Your Desired Destination?



It took me a while to get back in the right mindset to blog again. There’s something special about having a support system that forces you to remember the projects you’ve started and where you’ve left them. I had a conversation with my friend over the weekend where he reminded me that if I didn’t continue to create, time would soon run out and my passions that I am currently saying “wouldn’t it be cool when…” would turn into “man, I wish I would have…”

The truth is, like many people, having a full-time job has allowed me to forget that creating for myself outside of work is just as, if not more important than creating for someone else while at work…unless you’re presently self-employed.  “A MAN IS A SUCCESS IF HE GETS UP IN THE MORNING AND GOES TO BED AT NIGHT AND IN BETWEEN DOES WHAT HE WANTS TO DO.”  - BOB DYLAN I recently returned from an amazing trip to Jakarta, Indonesia. I honestly cannot believe that I made it to that side of the world as soon as I did but, there I was boarding a plane from Los Angeles to Jakarta with nothing but butterflies in my stomach. I knew this would be one for the books. The joy I felt when the plane took off was the same joy I felt a few months ago while celebrating my birthday in the middle of the desert.  Nobody could tell me anything because I was doing something that I’d always wanted to do, travel the world.

While in Indonesia, I travelled to Bali where I was able to speak to many locals about their Balinese culture, favorite foods and my hair; I think speaking about my hair brought them the most joy. The manager of the cottage I stayed in spoke to me about why he chose to stay in Bali and his favorite part about his job. While he believed he found his calling in speaking to travelers, he found that many solo travelers like myself are still in search of where they’re meant to be. Then he asked me:

“WHAT’S YOUR DESIRED DESTINATION?”I struggled to answer to answer that question because all I could think about were the physical things. I had an idea of how much money I’d like to have, the length I’d like my hair to be and how many cars I’d like to own but, that was it. As he pressured me to answer the question, I was left confused on what exactly my desired destination was. I mean, I love to travel and striking up conversations with strangers is almost second nature to me but, what else did he want? It wasn’t until my final day that he gave me some insight on where he’d like for me to be the next time we spoke. “By the next time we speak, I would have expected for you to have made a list of all of your desires. Physical, mental or emotional, write them all down. Every few weeks, look over that list and cross out the things that don’t speak to you. By the time you’re ready to contact me again, you’d be able to tell me the exact direction you’re leading yourself in and the steps you took to get there. You’ll be able to confidently tell me your desired destination.” “IN THE DEPTHS OF WINTER I FINALLY LEARNED THERE WAS IN ME AN INVINCIBLE SUMMER.” - ALBERT CAMUSI’ve already begun writing my list and The Art of Creative Thinking by Rod Judkins is helping me to understand how to think outside of the box on where exactly my desired destination is. By the next time I speak with my friend, I am confident that I’ll be able to share my findings, hopefully we can reunite in Ubud.

Happy December :)

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GROWN FLAWLESS WOMAN

A few months back Beyoncé sang I’m a grown woman, I can do whatever I wantand on Friday, December 13th at 12AM, she did just that.

If there’s one thing that I admire about Beyoncé, it’s her will to continuously succeed; no matter the circumstances. Think about it, she gave birth to a baby girl, is currently on a world tour, recorded an entire album  AND shot 17 videos, all released with ZERO promotion. If that doesn’t scream ‘BOSS’ then, I don’t know what else does.

I was never one to call myself a feminist or really resonate with those that did but, the remix to “Bow Down, I Been On” which is now “Flawless” had FEMINIST running all through my veins. Not only was I hype about the fact that my beloved Igbo sister Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Every Woman Should Be A Feminist was being featured on the track but, paired with Beyoncé’s lyrics and actions gave feminism a whole new meaning. Adichie’s definition of a feminist reads:

fem·i·nist

A man or a woman who says “Yes, there’s a problem with gender as it is today and we must fix it, we must do better.“

I will forever thank my father for not raising me under the circumstances of me being domesticated enough to only be fit for marriage. Instead, he instilled in me the values of education, proper work ethic and [thanks to my mother] how to be a strong, fearless woman. Because of that, I wasn’t the type of girl that felt the need to induce drama with other females or shy away from sexism provoked by males.

All of her tracks included comments on her newfound happiness in marriage and motherhood and embracing sexuality in her career. Beyoncé pretty much told all of her critics abeg, free me jor (read: please, leave me alone) She showed up and showed out on every single track, not missing a single beat and setting up #NewRules for not only women of color but for every single woman around the world. She showed that feminism isn’t about labels, nor is it academic. ”Flawless” taught us that feminists do not all share the same viewpoints as one another, that some are still hardcore, old school feminists while others are out to rebrand it by staying a wife, raising a child and holding on to careers.

If there’s one thing I learned from the release of this album it’s to get up and be great every single day, that’s the least I can do.

Ladies, tell em’… ‘I woke up like this, I woke up like this’…Flawless.

*photo source

Walk Into Greatness

“Respect yourself enough to walk away from anyone or anything that no longer serves you, grows you, or makes you happy.”

Walking into the direction of your greatness is easier said than done but, once you begin taking those steps, your energy just feels different.  Last year, was an interesting one for me and when I think about how far I’ve come, I can’t help but to be grateful for life.

WHAT CHANGES HAVE YOU MADE RECENTLY THAT HAVE MADE BECOME  YOU A BETTER PERSON?  

On The Move





This time in my life has to be the most interesting stage, ever. In the last two years I’ve lived in about four different cities and after a few trips, considered living in many more. For instance, I’m currently sharing my talents in Detroit, MI. While Los Angeles was fun, my sister and I have been working on an organic beauty brand called ILERA Apothecary. We’ve been out for 9 months now and we’ve had some amazing press so far. 

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