DATE NIGHT: Have A Ball with Balloons ;)

Have you ever had a celebration or party with balloons, but didn’t know what to do with it afterwards? Thinking of deflating them and throwing them in the trash immediately? You might want to hold off on that. You can, literally, have a ball with balloons – and it will be a date night you’ll want to have again and again!

Several days ago, my husband and I celebrated one of the greatest moments of our lives: we celebrated our son’s 1st birthday. Though we made it an intimate affair with just the 3 of us, we bought lots of balloons for him to chase around and play with. We decided to leave the balloons around for him for a few days longer, because he had such a great time with them. Little did we know that we would, too. :) When we discovered how great they would be for us, too, an impromptu date night at home was born. And, boy, did we have a blast!!!

We played “Balloon Ball”! For couples who are looking to have an active and fit date, get silly, and have a great laugh, what we did was very simple. We used the balloons like they were volleyballs – volleying that balloons between us and doing our best to keep them from hitting the ground by all means necessary, with hands, legs, heads, and whatever body part would do.

After a half hour of chasing balloons around and volleying them between us, we were literally sweating buckets (or shall I say, balloons)? We were laughing, running around, and having a wonderful time. We enjoyed it so much that we’ve agreed to do it again. Who knows, we just might make this a ritual, and bring balloons home from parties we attend?

Try it, and let me know how you and your spouse enjoyed it.

Happy Dating!

 

{Image via Munaluchi Bride Magazine | Photo by Tomayia Colvin Photography}

Young, Married & African: Christiana + David Okuwobi

Couple: Christiana + David Okuwobi 

From: Nigeria

Location: New Jersey, USA

Married Since: September 3, 2011

Find Christiana Online: Blog – www.mysixthlens.blogspot.com

                        Instagram - @sixthlens


 

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We keep our marriage fun, full of love and happy by being goofy, spending quality time with each other, being spontaneous, being open to new things, and being supportive of each other. We are able to laugh at ourselves or each other when the moment calls for it. Quality time gives us that moment and opportunity to connect with each other; spontaneity keeps things fresh and new. Lastly, we keep our marriage happy by basically doing things we both know are important to each other and make the other happy. 

The toughest challenge we’ve faced so far has been moving to a new state as new grads and newlyweds with no family, friends and only one of us with a job. It was a time that, despite its challenges, gave us a strong base, and contributed to the success of our marriage today. So, the challenge actually helped our marriage [instead of hurting it]. We always joke that if we could make it through that period, we can make it through anything. 

Three things we believe are fundamental for marriage success are: God, first; then, Respect and Effective Communication.”


 

From Christiana:

“My husband’s best physical features are his arms! Also, I love his determination, and his willingness to go out of his way to help others.

The best thing about marriage is building a legacy with your partner, and knowing that you have someone that will always be there for you in your worst moments, and someone who you can share all your best moments with.

I’d marry David all over again, because he is my prince charming.”

 

From David:

“[I love that] my wife is caring, fun, quiet and charming.

 The best thing about marriage is the joy of building a home & family, and living forever with youbest friend.

I’d marry Christiana all over again, because she’s my oxygen and she completes me.


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Typical Date Night:  Movie and dinner. Dinner could be at a restaurant - but, in most cases, it’s [right] at home.  We make something special, set the table and have good conversation. 

Best Date Ever: 02/13/2010 - Cinghiale, Baltimore Maryland 

Most Romantic Gift From Spouse: A necklace with heart-shaped pendant

Favorite Place to Eat:  At home! We don’t eat out often, so, we don’t have a favorite so far. I enjoy cooking, so I cook a lot of varieties and he loves it. 

Favorite Travel DestinationMiami, Florida, because we always have so much fun and great adventure. 

Favorite Hotel to Stay In: Marriott Hotels Good standard and quality is consistent across all locations. 

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From the Editor:Young, Married + African” is a feature that profiles married African couples all over the globe, between ages 18 and 40. I’m always looking for new couples to feature.

If you’d like to be featured, please e-mail me at chioma dot onyewuchi at hotmail dot com with subject, “Interested in African Couple Feature”.

Why You Should Treat Your Marriage Like Your Career

When two people become joined to one another in holy matrimony – “to have and to hold”, “to love forever”, “in sickness and in health” “till death do them part” – they are committing themselves to each other for the rest of their lives. That’s a tall order! It’s little wonder, then, that there are few comparisons one can make marriage to.

Compare that to your professional life! Most people work just to get a paycheck. They go to work reluctantly, check every minute the clock chimes, and throw their hands up in the air & do a victory dance when the weekend arrives. Imagine having a marriage like that!

Thankfully, I’m talking about treating your marriage like your career. What I described above is a “job”, while careers tend to be much more fulfilling, long-term, and create opportunities for advancement, and growth.

Here’s why you should treat your marriage like your career.

Many people who have chosen a career for themselves [think: medicine] are willing to invest a lot of themselves to achieve their desired outcome. With medicine as the career example, aspiring medical professionals invest copious amounts of time, money, and effort to become doctors. Their focus is singular and they are highly committed, because they plan to do this for the rest of their lives! We should treat our marriages with the same commitment, intensity, and singular focus, because – let’s face it – our marriages definitely impact us more than anything else does.

For people in careers where there are opportunities to “climb the ladder”, they go above and beyond their scope of work – showing initiative, taking on new responsibilities, and bringing fresh ideas to the table. Their goal is to show their employers that there is so much more that they are capable of. How amazing would it be if both individuals within a marriage were as committed: showing initiative, taking on household responsibilities, and bringing fresh ideas to the table to keep their marriage fun, loving, and purposeful?

When you have a career, you expect to be on an upward trajectory: going from a lower level position to a higher one, or earning a better salary at each career stage. In the same vein, we should work towards being on an upward marriage trajectory – looking back each year and saying, “Wow! This year was better than last year for us. We grew more! We met challenges better. We know each other in new ways. We serve each other more. We trust each other at a new level. We are more committed this year than we were last year.” The day you got married should be the least of all the days in your marriage, because we all need to work hard to at least attempt to make each year better.

As professionals, most people dream of being called “the best”, “the expert”, “the go-to man/woman”. We imagine being the “Employee of the Month” or “Manager of the Year”. We dream of being the “Ultimate Team Player”, because it feels good, and there’s often a good bonus that comes along with it. It’s a winning package for sure. Now, imagine if we channeled the same energy into being the “best spouse”, a near-expert on doing great things for our spouses, or the ultimate team player in our marriages. Imagine the great bonus that would come with that: joy, love, and happiness exploding in all directions, and a true sense of peace and security.

 

Maybe, we all need to think about how the effort we put into our careers compares to the effort we put into our careers. We might all be surprised by what we discover.

 

Young, Married & African: Dennis + Lilian Y. Kordie

Couple: Dennis + Lilian Y. Kordie

From: Ghana

Location: New Jersey, USA

Married Since: August 22, 2013

Find Them Online: Blog – www.africankingandqueen.blogspot.com

                  Instagram - @africankingandqueen


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“Our goal in marriage is to keep it fun, joyous, full of love and happiness. We do this by utilizing effective communication: we listen to each other, respect each other’s opinions, and don’t hold back. We respect [each other's] weaknesses and don’t use them against each other. Furthermore, we spend lots of time together- talking about our goals and aspirations; we blog often, spend time with our families, and take lots of pictures. Let’s not forget spontaneity- we take road trips and tours, and travel often.

The toughest challenge we’ve faced so far has been being newly married while working full-time and in school full-time. Honestly, without God, we would not have been able to succeed. We sought ways to cut down the stress by exercise, healthy eating, and some good wine. Just being honest oh!

Three things we believe are fundamental for marriage success are Prayer, Respect, and Effective Communication.


 

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From Lilian:

“My husband’s best physical features are … eish! His whole body! I love every bit of his physique. Plus, he’s God-fearing and kind-hearted.

The best thing about marriage is spending the rest of my life with my best friend, my confidant and the love of my life.

I’d marry Dennis all over again, because he completes me.”

 

From Dennis:

“My wife is beautiful inside out! She’s the most compassionate, and kindest person I’ve ever met. She’s amazing, and Godsent

 The best thing about marriage is the peace of mind, and the beauty in what we are able to accomplish together.

I’d marry Lilian all over again, because I can’t take a breath without her.”


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Typical Date Night:  Believe is or not, at home! We pick out a good recipe from a magazine, cook together over some good wine, and play Ludu afterwards.

Best Date Ever: 11/11/11 – The View Restaurant, NYC

Most Romantic Gift From Spouse: Getaway to National Harbor, Washington, DC

Favorite Place to Eat: Due Mari Restaurant, New Brunswick, NJ  

Favorite Travel Destination: The Bahamas. It was our first vacation together as a couple.

Favorite Hotel to Stay In: The Westin, Washington, D.C. Great view, good customer service, and great location 


 

From the Editor:Young, Married + African” is a feature that profiles married African couples all over the globe, between ages 18 and 40. I’m always looking for new couples to feature.

If you’d like to be featured, please e-mail me at chioma dot onyewuchi at hotmail dot com with subject, “Interested in African Couple Feature”.

52 Weeks of Romance Challenge: Week 28 – Some Loving!

The 52 Weeks of Romance Challenge by Love. ‘n Words is a weekly Wednesday inspiration series that shares tips on how you can spice up your marriage with more love and romance. Designed exclusively for you, the goal is to make your marriage much more exciting, fun, and passionate. Let’s prove that injecting romance doesn’t have to be impractical or expensive. Join in here and on Twitter (@lovenwords) every Wednesday at 12 noon for a new challenge for the week. Use hashtag – #52WeeksofRomance.

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 Pamper your spouse this week: prepare a decadent meal or give a relaxing massage. Do something loving!

#52WeeksofRomance

{Image  credit: Huffington Post}

The Journey to Beautiful Series: Natasha Nyanin

The Journey to Beautiful Interview Series is a celebration of influential and inspiring African women across the globe. Its aim is to teach every woman to define beauty on her own terms, to live purposefully, to accept what makes her truly unique, and to fall in love with all of who she is.


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NAME: Natasha Nyanin
AGE: 28

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN/HERITAGE: Ghana
LOCATION:  Atlanta, GA – but really, the whole world :)
WHY YOU HAVE TO KNOW HER: I love being a woman, because I adore how complex we are. It’s amazing how seemingly contradictory things can exist side by side in one woman. We are beautiful combinations in ways that can be unexpected, but never ordinary. Natasha, Nyanin, lifestyle blogger at The Ecstatic Flash, is one such combination. A health scientist at the Center for Disease Control (CDC) by day, and a freelance writer, style consultant, and professional dancer at other times, Natasha is a great example that science + art equals a wonderful marriage. With the personal mantra to “live life artfully”, Natasha is all about finding beauty in living and life’s experiences.


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WHO DO YOU SAY YOU ARE? 

I am woman from Ghana who works in Atlanta and lives in the world. A woman who relishes  creativity and the arts, and who believes that love is the most powerful force on earth. I’m an obsessive list-writer, serial photo-taker, a yoga sadhaka, a lover and writer of poetry, a gastronomical explorer, a film buff and a style enthusiast. But do any of these interests define me? I  hope not for I do not do well in boxes. To make it easier on myself,  here is one of my favourite poems by David Whyte and I will answer some of his questions as they pertain to me:

 

Self Portrait

It doesn’t interest me if there is one God
or many gods.
I want to know if you belong or feel
abandoned.
If you know despair or can see it in others.
I want to know
if you are prepared to live in the world
with its harsh need
to change you. If you can look back
with firm eyes
saying this is where I stand. I want to know
if you know
how to melt into that fierce heat of living
falling toward
the center of your longing. I want to know
if you are willing
to live, day by day, with the consequence of love
and the bitter
unwanted passion of your sure defeat.

I have heard, in thatfierce embrace, even
the gods speak of God.

 

I feel I belong AND I feel abandoned. I have indeed known soul-deep despair and I hope I can recognize it in others.  I only know how to melt into the fierce heat of living. And, am I willing to live day by day with the consequence of love and the bitter unwanted passion of my sure defeat? I see no other reason for living!

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WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE PHYSICAL FEATURES?

In the gorgeous film, The English Patient, a lot of hoopla is made of the suprasternal notch as an erogenous zone. It is, indeed, beautiful, this chasm, but far superior in my mind is the entire clavicle of a woman. So what’s my favorite physical feature in a woman? Undoubtedly, a pronounced collarbone with, perhaps, well-sculpted arms falling second on my list. In a man, it is always the eyes. Always, the eyes…and sometimes a beard

WHAT NON-PHYSICAL TRAITS DO YOU MOST LOVE ABOUT YOURSELF?

I appreciate my ability to make connections between things: linking a film to a fashion trend, or a favourite chef’s recipe to a book chapter. I suppose I believe that our purpose on the planet is to connect with what makes us happy; one thing that truly does inspire joy in me is finding connections between seemingly unconnected aspects of our world. Finding a thread of linkage between things brings a certain harmony to life and I am glad that I seem to have a knack for doing finding such linkage.

I have been told that I am creative and passionate; if these words are true, then, these are also aspects of my non-physical self for which I am grateful. I am also thankful for a well-developed sense of humour. It is a blessing to be able to laugh at oneself.

 

 

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WHAT PHYSICAL AND NON-PHYSICAL TRAITS HAVE YOU MOST STRUGGLED TO ACCEPT? HAVE YOU OVERCOME THAT STRUGGLE?   HOW?

On the physical side, I’ve struggled with accepting my body. As one with a predilection for (as I like to call it) “bone and sinew” when it comes to body types, I work out extremely hard in an effort to remain lean. Still, I have a naturally more muscular build and so, over time, I am teaching myself to accept that I am not nor will I ever be skinny.  I have not, at any point, been so unhappy with my body as to inflict emotional harm on myself, as I believe in the practice of “santosha” (contentment) as my yoga discipline prescribes. It is becoming easier and easier to accept my body as I grow in that practice of contentment and the practice of finding the fine line between pushing my body to its limits and punishing this vessel in which I live.

Then, there is my struggle with accepting the fact that I have zero musical talent and, quite frankly, might be tone deaf. I still have not accepted that and have no intention to. When the opportunity arises, I still sing at the top of my lungs in competition with Renee Fleming and Whitney Houston. Life’s just better that way!

 

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WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST FEARS?

My most abject fear would be never realising my potential, and not making my mother proud. In the words of Maya Angelou, “she [my mother] deserves a great daughter”.

WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST JOYS?

Here are a few:

Learning a new word (like “époustouflant(e)” —a word which seems almost onomatopoeic and absolutely perfect to me) tickles me so very much. In general, I derive a lot of pleasure from the literary. So, the discovery of a new poem or poet (like  fingerspitzengefühl or komorebi - and the actual experience of both), or the rediscovery of an old one by finding new meaning in it), the perfect use of paradox, or even the most sordidly saccharine of alliterative assertions will make me smile. Keat’s captured this sort of joy best in his On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer: 

Then felt I like some watcher of the skies

When a new planet swims into his ken; 10

Or like stout Cortez, when with eagle eyes

He stared at the Pacific—and all his men

Look’d at each other with a wild surmise—

Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

 

In this poem, Keat’s uses the discovery of new lands as allegory for literary discovery. Conversely, if I am not travelling in a literary world, then, traversing the terrain of our physical world is another way in which I milk happiness from the breast of life. Alain de Botton said in his book, The Art of Travel, “it is not necessarily at home that we are most ourselves”; I am inclined to agree. I appreciate any opportunity to pack way too many clothes and shoes into a suitcase, hop on a plane and immerse myself into another way of living [whether it is] as close by as Savannah, Georgia or as far away as Montsalier, France. Travel reminds me of how infinitesimal I am in comparison to this sublimely grand earth. In so doing, paradoxically, it empowers me beyond explication. And travel allows me to excavate my other passion: food.

 

There is so much joy to be found in a heap of kelewele, bought on the roadside in Accra, as its oils seep into the paper in which it is served, or in conquering Chef Thomas Keller’s recipe for Pave Potatoes in one’s own kitchen. When it comes to the ecstasy of eating, I like it all; from high to low, from complex to simple, from Michelin-starred to market stall. Food is its own poetry that reflects the attention, care and creativity afforded in its preparation succinctly: as the finished product. Every morsel tells a story, and if the morsels are good enough, then, they too become a story to tell.

 

Fashion also usually tells a story and it is perhaps the occiput of my creative joys. My mother once told me, after a bad breakup, “You must get up and go on and do what you love to do! If you love to eat- eat, if you love to dress- dress!” It resulted in laughter, for which I had been much starved prior to our conversation, and me jocularly accusing her of being shallow. She was right, though.

I am as happy playing around in my own closet as I am poring through books of Richard Avedon’s fashion photography, or reading Diana Vreelan’s memos.  Fashion is a world in which beauty is unabashedly celebrated; and if we don’t live for beauty, then what on earth are we here for? 

Then, there is dance. Through it all, dance! Pear Primus put it best: “In dance I have confided my most secret thoughts and shared the inner music of all mankind. I have danced across mountains and deserts, ancient rivers and oceans and slipped through the boundaries of time and space.” “Dance is your pulse, your heartbeat, your breathing. It’s the rhythm of your life. It’s the expression in time and movement, in happiness, joy, sadness and envy.” – Jacques d’Amboise

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WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENTS?

I have surprised myself in quite a few ways.

In high school and even when I danced in college, I would not have been seen anywhere near a treadmill or weight machine.  In fact, I came pretty close to failing PE back in my salad days. I now run races regularly and have completed grueling exercise programs like Insanity and P90x.

In high school, I don’t think I ever stood close enough to a stove in the kitchen to feel its warmth. I am now a self-taught amateur chef. My greatest accomplishment, though, is not the 30lbs I lost, or becoming an athletic woman,  or learning the difference between a pate brisée and a standard pie crust. 

By my definition, my greatest accomplishment is  not accomplished; it is not past tense but a work always in progress. That work is understanding that the self is a mutable thing: that who I am will not and should not be calcified until I draw my last breath. I am most proud of blindly feeling my way through the understanding of this notion that I continue to reinvent, fine-tune and learn myself, even when it is unbearably scary to do so.

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WHEN DO YOU FEEL MOST BEAUTIFUL?

When I am able to exist in the state of “grace” rather than the  state of “nature” (to borrow a dichotomy from the film “The Tree of Life”), I feel at my most beautiful.  In other words, when I am able to gracefully and graciously accept whatever life throws at me with equanimity (in sanskrit: upeksha)  rather than acrimony, I feel I have connected with the soul of the universe and I am thus at my most beautiful. A touch of red lipstick never hurt anyone though. 

HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE YOUR OWN VERSION OF “BEAUTIFUL”?

Keats wrote:

“Beauty is a feeling and one’s personal truth.
Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” – that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

I say: Beauty is a feeling and one’s personal truth. 

WHAT DO YOU DO TO STAY BEAUTIFUL, AS YOU’VE DEFINED IT?

In the words of Polonius, the bloviating fool (the fools always are the bearers of wisdom): “to thine ownself be true”. I try to remain true to my ever-evolving self, so that self may flourish and blossom.

WHICH “BEAUTIFUL” WOMEN INSPIRE YOU MOST?

Tilda Swinton, because she is operatic in her existence. Cate Blanchette, because the woman just knows how to wear a dress. Gail O’Neill, because she epitomizes kindess. Wisława Szymborska, because she wrote with such compassion. Chef Anne Sophie Pic, because I love to see a woman be such a force in man’s world.  Coco Chanel, because we share a birthday and because she reinvented fashion. Jawole Willa Jo Zollar because she, like her inspiration Pearl Primus, is  a woman of such somatic intelligence and because she taught me to “stay in the frying pan”. My 6th grade history teacher, Mrs. Margaret Laryea, because she is a woman of poise and grace, stern and loving and forever my champion. Oh, there are many, but I will end with my mother, because her love is unconditional and her wisdom (in my life) unparalleled.  


 

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Stay updated with everything Natasha. Follow her here:

 

Facebook: Ecstatic Flash

Instagram: @theecstaticflash

Twitter: @ecstaticflash

Website: www.theecstaticflash.com

 

The Journey to Beautiful Series: Amma Appiah

The Journey to Beautiful Interview Series is a celebration of influential and inspiring African women across the globe. Its aim is to teach every woman to define beauty on her own terms, to live purposefully, to accept what makes her truly unique, and to fall in love with all of who she is.


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NAME: Amma Appiah
AGE: 26

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN/HERITAGE: Ghana
LOCATION: Maryland,United States  
WHY YOU HAVE TO KNOW HER: I stumbled on Amma “Amma Mama” Appiah’s blog some time ago, and loved it! With a unique eye and perspective, she shares stories, writes posts, and communicates about natural hair, style, art, & other great lifestyle topics. You can feel her genuine appreciation for Africa, her passion for seeing black women fall in love with their natural hair, and her appreciation for great creativity. This beauty is definitely one to watch! Amma, I’m pretty sure your fears are unfounded [Read the feature to understand], because it’s clear that your heart is just as beautiful as your exterior – even a blind man can see that. 


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WHO DO YOU SAY YOU ARE? 

I am thoughtful, smart and wise. 

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE PHYSICAL FEATURES?

My smile, legs, and sometimes my arms…Lol

WHAT NON-PHYSICAL TRAITS DO YOU MOST LOVE ABOUT YOURSELF?

I appreciate that I am considerate of other people’s feelings; thoughtful; kind, and well-mannered. I am respectful and that is important to me.  

WHAT PHYSICAL AND NON-PHYSICAL TRAITS HAVE YOU MOST STRUGGLED TO ACCEPT? HAVE YOU OVERCOME THAT STRUGGLE?   HOW?

Well, growing up, I was teased about my overbite, gap and big nose. I was constantly called a “buckteeth beaver” and “pig nose”. I was teased about both {my nose and teeth} by children and adults. I have insecurities about both still, but I try not to dwell on it because God made me how he saw fit. I used to really want braces but I think my smile and gap is my trademark. [As for] non-physical traits, I am way too nice. I overextend myself and I have trouble saying, “no”. I am a recovering people-pleaser. I’ve learned that it’s okay for me to just say, “no,” and maintain my sanity and peace 

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WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST FEARS?

Not being successful, being single forever and not falling in love. I am a hopeful romantic.

WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST JOYS?

Helping people, traveling to new places, buying cute accessories, zumba, reading a good book, and eating well.   

WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENTS?

Mmmm … I am not sure, to be honest. I think I still have a lot more to achieve on my goals list. 

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WHEN DO YOU FEEL MOST BEAUTIFUL?

When I am truly at peace, my skin is nice and even, when I am in shape and eating well. Also, when my hair is done!  

HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE YOUR OWN VERSION OF “BEAUTIFUL”?

Beautiful is being kind, humble, helpful, considerate, wise, and most importantly, honoring God. There is more to life than just focusing on you.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO STAY BEAUTIFUL, AS YOU’VE DEFINED IT?

I try not to be superficial and too materialistic. I try and focus on God, and my blessings. I try to read my Bible and positive things. I continue to encourage and help others as best I can – all while trying to better myself. I really enjoy uplifting and inspiring others. Whether it is my friends or co-workers, I like to be positive towards people. 

WHICH “BEAUTIFUL” WOMEN INSPIRE YOU MOST?

My mommy and First Lady Michelle Obama. 


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Stay updated with everything Amma. Follow her here:

 

Instagram: @ammamama  | @allthingsammamama

Twitter: @ammamama 

Website: www.allthingsammamama.com

 

Why You Should Sometimes Treat Your Spouse Like He/She’s Just a Guest

Originally posted on Love. 'n Words:

“Guest: a person who spends some time at another person’s home in some social activity, as a visit, dinner, or party.” 

[Dictionary.com]

If you walked into your house one day, only to have your spouse call you a “guest” in your own home, you’d probably not be the most excited person around. Right? Well, hear me out!

If there’s one thing I love about marriage (a good marriage, that is), it’s the fact that you get to come home and be exactly who you are. At work, with colleagues, and around other people, you most likely are showing only facets of yourself. At home, you get to take off the mask, and just be.

Unfortunately, our let-it-all-hang-out selves can also make for situations in which we start to take…

View original 196 more words

Why You Should Sometimes Treat Your Spouse Like He/She’s Just a Guest

“Guest: a person who spends some time at another person’s home in some social activity, as a visit, dinner, or party.” 

[Dictionary.com]

If you walked into your house one day, only to have your spouse call you a “guest” in your own home, you’d probably not be the most excited person around. Right? Well, hear me out!

If there’s one thing I love about marriage (a good marriage, that is), it’s the fact that you get to come home and be exactly who you are. At work, with colleagues, and around other people, you most likely are showing only facets of yourself. At home, you get to take off the mask, and just be.

Unfortunately, our let-it-all-hang-out selves can also make for situations in which we start to take each for granted all the darn time, or being less than polite, or just plainly unpleasant in ways that we just wouldn’t be with strangers. Now, imagine if you took some time to treat your spouse like a guest.

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Another definition of “Guest” includes a particular word that makes all the difference: “invited“. When a person is invited, his/her presence is desired, wanted, and asked for. Rather than the burden of a visitor who just shows up, a guest has been welcomed in. And how do we treat guests? With warmth and respect. Joy and hospitality. Kindness and patience. We invited them, so we have to take care of them.

If we have moments in which we treat our spouses like guests we’ve invited, we’ll take them for granted far less. We’d serve them with more pleasure than routine obligation. We’d be polite at times we’re tempted to be rude. We’d be on our best behaviour.

Sometimes, we really should treat our spouses like guests – guests we love and are excited to have over, who just happen to not be guests at all.

 

{Image via MunaLuchi Bride; photo by Milanes Photography}

INSPIRATION: Oluchi (Onweagba) Orlandi

Oluchi Orlandi (nee Onweagba) burst onto the fashion scene 16 years ago, in 1998, when she won the first ever M-Net Face of Africa model search. The statuesque 17 year-old’s life would change forever. Having worked the runways for iconic brands like Victoria’s Secret, graced the covers of world-renowned publications like Italian Vogue and i-D, and been lensed by some of the most highly respected photographers in the fashion industry like Steven Meisel and Patrick Demarchelier, Oluchi has proved herself to be an African fashion icon.

Not comfortable with resting on her laurels, the smart businesswoman established South African-based modeling agency, O Model Africa, in 2007 to “expose, develop, and deliver select portfolios of African models to domestic and international clients for catwalk shows.” Last year, 2013, Oluchi debuted the incredible Africa’s Next Top Model (the African spinoff of Tyra BanksAmerica’s Next Top Model) to huge global acclaim. Oluchi served as both the show’s host and executive producer – just like Tyra did with the original.

With her wholesome beauty, business sense, and self-awareness, Oluchi Orlandi is an inspiration. Let’s count the ways!

Africa's Next Top Model_Oluchi

 

BEAUTY INSPIRATION

  • Every time I see a picture of Oluchi, she looks totally and completely like herself. She looks like a woman who never tries to be trendy or “current”. She just seems to always want to be herself – what her own version of beautiful is.
  • Oluchi’s Face of Africa win changed the way many African women see themselves, particularly those that look like her. Tall, very slim, and beautifully brown-skinned, Oluchi represented African women that were previously overlooked in some way, specifically in West Africa. At that time, women who looked like Oluchi were often passed over for women who were more curvaceous – with bust and butt curves that were very obvious. Seeing an Oluchi chosen as the winner was an absolute game-changer. I know it was for me! It taught me that women of every shape, height, and body type were beautiful in all the ways that made them who they are.

 

CAREER INSPIRATION

  • When I think of Oluchi, I think of courage. Can you imagine the gumption it must have taken for her to even say it out loud, “I’d like to be the one to create Africa’s Next Top Model“? Imagine the looks she probably got – maybe, even dismissing laughs. Imagine how much vision, hard work, and imagination for her to keep knocking on doors and believing in her vision as she undoubtedly got several doors shut in her face and heard a million “No!”s. Imagine that! I think of Oluchi’s vision, courage, and determination, when I am wracked by self-doubt and fear with the amazing things I hope to achieve with this blog, someday. The lesson is: Believe in yourself, do the work, and have faith. You can do much more than you give yourself credit for.
  • Oluchi’s career is a reminder that you can keep evolving and reaching for more. She could have ended her career as a model alone, but she is clearly determined to use all the skills, gifts, talents,and abilities that God has given her. That’s inspiring!

Oluchi1

SPIRITUAL INSPIRATION

  • Oluchi reminds me that you need to step out on faith, even when you don’t know the outcome. From having the courage as a 17 year-old to try out for a competition that was making its debut, to leaving her family behind and moving to New York, to hosting ANTM in front of the whole world, Oluchi’s journey is a study in faith. I am reminded to trust the visions God has given me, because He can bring them to fruition if I can just walk with Him.
  • Stay in your own lane. If there’s anything I’ve gathered from reading some of Oluchi’s interviews, it’s that she compares herself to no one – and so, competes with no one. She knows who she is, what she wants, and goes for it without seeing what others are doing. As women, we are far too often consumed with the way others view us. We forget that we really should be playing to an audience of One – God – and that our only competition is ourselves.
  • Humility is always in style. If you’ve watched even one episode of Africa’s Next Top Model, you’ll be blown away by Oluchi’s humility. I know I was! Here’s this seasoned supermodel interacting with young women who are so giddy in her presence, and she acts like she’s just another girl – just like them. No airs! No attitude! Just down-to-earth realness and heart. That isn’t easy to find. We, too often, allow fame, wealth, and “status” to get to our heads. It really doesn’t have to. Ask Oluchi!

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I leave you with some great quotes from Oluchi, culled from an interview with South African uber editor, Asanda Sizani.

  • “I’m always myself. You can’t change who you are. You can refine me, but you can’t change who I am”.
  • “I don’t like trends. I buy clothes that speak to me. I’m a mother as well. I like to be modern but not so trendy. I’m a very elegant woman.”
  • “Open your vision. You might have to be your own agent to get it. No one can speak on your behalf better than you.”

 

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