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Christmas is finally over [went by like a blur] and now we look forward to the epic end of 2014.

So much has happened to us this year, personally and globally, good and bad; the bad obviously tends to linger in our memories. Some achieved so many things, made so many strides and improved in so many ways. For those achievements, celebrate and record them so you can revisit the memories from time to time as you plan for an even more awesome 2015 Others (including those in the first category) have experienced immense hurt, loss and devastation. You started 2014 without imagining this is how you would end it and you’re possibly still reeling from the blow(s); right now you might be thinking “life just sucks”. I sympathise and beseech you not to feel stuck or marooned on an island of insecurity or indecision. Don’t give in to depression or self doubt. You are not worthless, you are not unlovable, it was probably not your fault and you cannot change the past. Work hard on not holding on to regret or bitterness, even if you can point a finger at the person(s) responsible for turning your life upside down and they don’t really care or comprehend what’s been done to you; a lot of times, no one can. ForgivenessForgive yourself, forgive them and don’t be angry at God. I assure you it’s not His fault. Make 2015 a year to regroup and rebuild; make it count.

This year, Nigeria experienced the highest rate of violence from terrorism and as usual the most impacted are children; those who lost their parents, those captured as child soldiers, those beaten and/or raped and probably worst of all, the over 300 children still being held in captivity by Boko Haram after over 7 months with unspeakable horrors now being a part of their daily lives.

I do not consider myself a political activist but can only cry out at the sheer lack of sustained interest the Nigerian government has shown towards their plight. As a nation we are generally notorious for not valuing the lives of our citizens and particularly not considering the plight of children as more than a nuisance. Are we the only nation that treats its citizens this way? Definitely not. Even the super power that is the USA who blow a lot of steam about the value placed on each citizen’s life are also notorious for using the same citizens as canon fodder when it suits their purposes; preaching to other nations who neglect their poor and under-represented while there are millions not eating and being marginalised or downright victimised by the ‘system’ right within the borders of America.

My question to Nigerians is: “how can another nation’s failures possibly make you glory in yours”? We haven’t been a nation for as long as they, you say? Can we not read? Do we not know what is right? Why can’t we learn from other ‘older’ nation’s mistakes and reduce the learning curve for becoming a great nation? Why can’t our standard be something higher like oh, I don’t know, biblical standards [a large percentage of us claim to be Christian after all]? Why take pride in our failures because others have failed, rather than be determined to not repeat other people’s mistakes because we should actually know better? Self interest I suppose. We support leaders in their wrong either because we hope to some day be in a position to benefit from a corrupt system or because as people we are so comfortable in not striving for anything great that we identify and accept it in others so we don’t have to examine our own sad states. I must sound sanctimonious! I pray not. I, like everyone else, have made numerous mistakes in my life. I simply choose not to sit with them as friends. I rather choose to dust myself off and try again, set more lofty goals, reach for something higher, seek the grace to do better and maybe, just maybe, I’ll actually be one of the unique few that makes an actual, positive, difference in people’s lives; especially my children’s. It doesn’t have to be in any grand way, rather in keeping with my purpose [once I actually figure out what that is for sure 🙂 ]

In keeping with tradition, most of us will be making new resolutions to guide us in 2015. A lot of us know what it’s like to forget what those resolutions or goals are by the end of the first quarter. ProcrastinatorsSome of us have experienced success in some areas but not in others. Plenty don’t even want to think of the stress and effort that goes into breaking bad habits, achieving goals, becoming a better version of ourselves…..I don’t necessarily mean losing weight or taking better care of our bodies (though these are very worthwhile goals and one of mine for 2015), rather making changes where it matters most: on the inside; being able to look at our souls in the mirror and see a better reflection of it as time passes. To achieve that will require not accepting mediocrity and failure in others or ourselves as a constant state but rather as a means to learn and improve. Sometimes all that you might be able to do is simply speak up…..it’s better than keeping quiet. Positive change doesn’t always require a revolution; sometimes quietly resisting evil multiplied by a thousand voices is enough to shame people into change. No one likes to be an island; even those with bad intentions will hide them or better yet change if they seem to stand alone in their desires.

For personal resolutions, you might be fortunate to have a spouse that shares your values and passion, with whom you have set family and other goals for the coming year and can count on to prop you up when you are falling and want to give in to ‘just okay’. If so, your children will benefit greatly from such a cohesive, symbiotic relationship for two are definitely better than one, especially when they are walking the same path. For others, you might have the support of friends or other relatives to help you and hold you accountable; good for you. Don’t feel sad about those in your life who don’t support you, it’s their loss. Focus instead on the relationships that will support you; make plans for yourself and children if you have no spouse or an uncommitted one for time passes no matter what you do so might as well make the best of it. For yet others, you might feel you have no one to rely on but yourself. I hope the reality does not match your perception but if it does you can still achieve great things in the coming year; it might just be a little harder and lonely but possible nonetheless.

Take control of your life

Part of your resolution might require severing some relationships that won’t help you achieve your goals or are down right toxic. You might need to form new friendships or repair broken ones. Whatever is required one thing is for sure, achieving anything good be it great bodies, relationships or careers requires immense effort. Fortify yourself and if you have children, do it for their sakes if you can’t find any other reason. Plan to spend more time with them, try to be more directly involved in their care, listen to them more, vet who you let into their lives with a fine tooth comb, change what didn’t work this year and reflect on your issues and how it impacts them. You only have them as children for a few short years where you can mould and shape them; use it wisely.

For Nigerians, in 2015 let’s not applaud bad with good. Nigerians, let’s applaud our leaders for their good deeds no matter how small, but we must of a necessity speak out against the negatives and demand change. A country without constant, positive change is a backward country. If our leaders are tired of the pressure, then they should step down. If not, we assume they have decided to accomplish great things for the citizens and stop ignoring those without a voice, that they have decided to accept criticism as the right of citizens and a tool to foster positive change rather than it being from pesky ‘detractors’ who are always complaining. That corruption can stop being an acceptable way of life and that ‘our children’ can be brought back home before they have the audacity to campaign during another election where they make ‘security of the nation and its citizenry’ a part of their manifesto, while spending billions to foster even more corruption and secure a win. We have never had an election in our nation where a candidate didn’t emerge asking for a leadership mandate and no matter how difficult they claim the job gets, they refuse to step down and give someone else a go. Stay at your peril then and do your job.

Fight for worthy causes