2020 Reading: #1 – The Practice of The Presence of God

The Practice of The Presence of God (In Modern English) by Brother Lawrence (Author) and Marshall Davis (Translator)


A classic which dates back to the late 1600s, this is a book that regularly makes it on to lists of great devotional books. This (newish) translation is by Marshall Davis, who has form for this sort of reimagining. Between this year being my year of delving deeper and plenty of time thanks to COVID-19, I finally got round to reading this!  to read has ended up on my pile for years. The central characters are a French lay brother, born Nicholas Herman but better known as Brother Lawrence, and Father Joseph de Beaufort, the vicar general to the Archbishop of Paris. A perhaps unlikely friendship given their different stations in life, we have it to thank for the letters and conversations recorded here.

A key theme is developing a practice for the presence of God in one’s life, through the mundane and the spiritual, particularly apt given Brother Lawrence served in the kitchen of the Order of Discalced Carmelites. The difficulties of going from normal life to a state of authentic union are not shirked. Rather, several times in the book Brother Lawrence refers to the need for ‘faithfulness in the dry seasons of the spiritual life’, ‘make[ing] a special effort’ and using the will to constrain wandering thoughts.

The path described here is not merely hard, disciplined work though, a love for God, instigated by Him, must be the reason why we go through the process and practice so that ‘after a little care we should find His love inwardly excite us to it without any difficulty’. Elsewhere, ‘All kinds of spiritual disciplines, if they are void of God cannot remove a single sin from our lives.’

My favourite quote:

The spiritual life is neither an art nor a science. To arrive at union with God all one needs is a heart resolutely determined to apply itself to nothing but Him, do nothing but for His sake, and to love Him only

Certainly one to come back to again and again.
Rating 5/5

31 Days Of Journaling, Day 10: The Hero’s Journey

Photo by Brett Patzke on Unsplash

The Hero’s Journey makes for interesting reading, showing how in 12 stages the boy becomes a man as he journeys through a life. Although based on myths, the underlying idea behind this framework is that these myths work because they represent how we understand how life happens to us. Vogler’s model, which the folk at AoM espouse, is an abridged version of the original in the Joseph Campbell book (The Hero with a Thousand Faces) and identifies 12 steps (from the Wikipedia page) as below:

  1. The Ordinary World: the hero is seen in his/her everyday life
  2. The Call to Adventure: the initiating incident of the story
  3. Refusal of the Call: the hero experiences some hesitation to answer the call
  4. Meeting with the Mentor: the hero gains the supplies, knowledge, and confidence needed to commence the adventure
  5. Crossing the First Threshold: the hero commits wholeheartedly to the adventure
  6. Tests, Allies and Enemies: the hero explores the special world, faces trial, and makes friends and enemies
  7. Approach to the Innermost Cave: the hero nears the centre of the story and the special world
  8. The Ordeal: the hero faces the greatest challenge yet and experiences death and rebirth
  9. Reward: the hero experiences the consequences of surviving death
  10. The Road Back: the hero returns to the ordinary world or continues to an ultimate destination
  11. The Resurrection: the hero experiences a final moment of death and rebirth so he (or she) is pure when he reenters the ordinary world
  12. Return with the Elixir: the hero returns with something to improve the ordinary world

For what it is worth, it feels like in so many parts of my life I am somewhere between Stages 1 and 3, either having just being called or just having rejected the call for the first time. Mentors and mentoring are going to be key for this next phase of my life. This is certainly something that I will need to return to over the next few weeks.

31 Days of Journaling, Day 7: A Reflection

Image source: rawpixel @ unsplash

And so comes Day 7. Whilst those who believe in numerology think seven is the number of perfection, the past few days have been anything but perfect. What they have been though is an opportunity to flex thinking and writing muscles which I haven’t used in a while, which were to put it bluntly beginning to atrophy.

The general idea has been to try to block time out in the morning- between waking up, devotions and heading out to work- to pen a few words in response to the challenge of the day. There have been hits and misses along the way but thankfully I’ve managed to show up. Here’s to discipline winning through and birthing delight in the end.

31 Days of Journaling, Day 1: Why Journal?


Image Source: Heartwoods

It feels like a good time to try to develop a regular practice of journaling. For one there is the need to reflect properly on my latest attempt at rebooting, as well as the plethora of other more intelligent folk who think it is a good thing: David SedarisAustin Kleon, Michael Hyatt, Samuel Pepys, David Thoureau to name a few. The benefits are many, ranging from providing opportunities to reflect on life, a record of one’s day (both for the individual and for posterity) and also a source of material for future creative writing pursuits.

Of these, providing a record of my thoughts and feelings on the day as well as potentially providing source material for future writing projects stand out most. Here’s to hoping I develop the discipline and reap the benefits, even if all I manage to do is log each day.

Based on prompts from The Art of Manliness.

A good month of sorts…


Image Credits – Joey Rozier, Flickr

It has been a fascinating month of sorts on here – and also in real life where the issues which drove my sense of dissonance and the need to begin again have eased off. I would be remiss if I said I was out of the woods completely, but there certainly is a sense of significant progress and building traction in the right direction. The money numbers were pretty much bang on plan – just under £0.01 actual vs planned – which allowed me put away twice what I planned at the beginning of the month. I did spend more than planned on transport and purchases, main driver being the need to head down south for a weekend at short notice and the bits and bobs I purchased to support that. For the interested (waves at SisiOnABudget), here are two charts (by category, plan vs actuals) with a little more detail.

On here, Blogging101 has been a great way for me to get back to basics and ease myself into writing again. Thanks to the various prompts, over the past month I managed to reimagine how I self classify, reflect on the why for this blog, and meet – virtually at least – a bunch of interesting folk as evidenced by my swelling reader inbox. A bonus – largely unexpected – was praise from someone whose work I am a fan of, as well as being compared to another writer whose body of work I was and still am a big fan of.

From the task for Day 15, I have decided to sign up for the Monthly Masterpiece Challenge – by blending art, faith and reflection into a coherent whole, my hope is that I can develop my practice of contemplation more. I am keen to see how that evolves.

Going forward on here, I still like the initial idea I considered at the beginning – a Friday lunch time ramble on something that catches my fancy within the normal everyday context I live my life in. For those who are still on here – whom I haven’t bored to death or scared away – thanks for surviving Phase 1. I can only hope Phase 2 is even more exciting and fulfilling.

NaPoWriMo Day 29 – Giving Stars

roamers - shoe


Four stars
for the Chelsea boots
in brown; five
from Wood,
for their soft leather
and inner cushion,
for how easy they fit
his wide feet
and how they arrive
in time for spring
and the promise
of new beginnings.

One star
from Miles, for how
they fall apart; split
at the heel
after seven months of use;
for how
they’ll harm your feet,
and fall apart
as though sawn in two.

From Joshua, just three stars –
because they arrive damaged.

For the Day 29 Prompt at NaPoWriMo, to write a review; culled from a few reviews left on the Amazon page for the shoes above.

2012 – The Year of the Detox


Although a  year and some ago I thought I had truly gotten over the pain of the EJ debacle, I still managed to spend Christmas stateside attending a wedding, hanging with mutual friends and kind of hoping I would run into her. Neither happened, and when push came to shove I couldn’t bring myself to take the short hop across town to the city where she now lived. Coming into 2012 then, the target was to resolve a number of the other friendzoneships  I had somehow gotten sucked in over the years.

Clarity would end up being delivered spectacularly through the year – hanging with R when she passed through my city in March confirmed what we both knew since our undergraduate days, that we were great as wingmen/women for each other, but lousy at everything else besides, my hankering for my Dalglish conjecture came and went  – appropriately chided of course, P and I managed to let crazy work schedules and a significant time difference wreck what had seemed like a pretty good start, and then there was L.

L was the kick up the backside I needed: smarts, attractiveness, a big heart for God and children and an appreciation of the arts ensured she ticked all my critical boxes. It helped that she was also in the same city (for a change!) and we had similar work interests. Being around her put the last eighteen months in perspective and showed me quite starkly what I had missed by failing to move on. We didn’t quite work out – my penchant for complicated women rearing it’s head one more time – but the one thing meeting her did was finally hammer home what my wing-women extraordinaire Izz  & Dee had harped on all year round – that I needed to get off my backside and explore.

Once again, there have been lessons learned this year – that there is a shed load of stuff I need to learn about me, about women, about my long term direction and the type of woman I am attracted to.  That, and a paradigm shift of sorts, perhaps best articulated by Clay Christensen in his book How Will You Measure Your Life:

The path to happiness (in a relationship) is about finding someone who you want to make happy, someone whose happiness is worth devoting yourself to.

I suspect that when/if the annals of my life are written in the future, 2012 will feature prominently as the year of the big reset, the year wherein the penny dropped. All told, it’s been a year of pruning, spring cleaning, gaining clarity and working out the toxins and nascent hurts from the past. I suspect 2013 will be the year of learning and re-learning… And hopefully finding and building… :)

114 days in…

This year I decided I would only have seven focus areas – from which twelve things for 2012 were derived.  Interestingly, whilst there has been progress in some areas, quite a few other areas have been the equivalent of a Lagos traffic jam for progress. 114 days in, here’s my review.

  1. Develop a daily practice of prayer and meditation: This has come along in fits and starts. there definitely has been some progress, but nothing sustained so far. I’d rate myself as ‘poor’ here.
  2. Lose 20 kg:  An epic fail here. I suspect I may have actually gained half a kilogram!
  3. Read and review 25 books:  Currently on book number four. No real reviews have been completed so far. I’ll need to decide a format and start progressing these ASAP.
  4. Call Parents and siblings at least once a week:  I’ve made some progress on here with phone calls, but again not on the level of consistency that I’d be hoping for.
  5. Save £1,000 each month: One of the areas where I’d say I have performed very well.
  6. Get Chartered Engineer Status: In progress, I hope to send in my initial applications this May and kick start the process of getting C.Eng registration through the IMarEST.
  7. Get a Driver’s Licence: A couple of false starts here. The intent is to get the CEng application done and dusted and then focus on studying for the theory test and passing it in May 2012.
  8. Resolve long term settlement options:  Canada featured heavily in the plan for a while, but at the moment it’s looking like the UK is the base plan. The intent is to sort out the CEng status and then take it from there.
  9. Resolve my dating issues:  Not quite progress here. Met Q who ticks a lot of the boxes (geek, recovering bookworm, under 31 yrs of age, Nigerian with the added benefit of real life mutual friends/ connections). The one quirk is she’s very into the Grail Message thing which ended up scuttling my dalliance with EJ from back in the day. I’m not quite sure I can risk lettnig my heart go when there are these issues.
  10. FAN integration/FOL Service:  One word, abysmal.
  11. Find a mentor: Some progress, O’s essentially become my non work mentor what with his interest in getting me married and his listening ears, and the three gorgeous kids he’s got. 🙂 On the work front, I’m getting along quite nicely with the QNX* team now – RG seems like a good candidate for a work mentor. Getting him to sponsor my CEng application cxould be the key.
  12. Finding a hobby:  New item on the lsit, thanks to pressure from CS & NP at QNX and my buddy Chizz. I’ve signed up for the company touch rugby team – hopefully that pans out nicely.

All in all, there’s been areas of progress and some of none. The top targets for Q2 through end of June are getting the CEng application through, passing the theory test and heading off to Nigeria.


2010: The Year in…. Cabs

I think cab drivers are a microcosm of the larger society and that if a sufficiently large sample is analysed, one can gain critical insights into the mind of a city. This has to be the year where I used cabs the most. Tight deadlines at work, atrocious weather conditions, moving houses and a few late night jaunts around town conspired to leave me needing cabs at various times this year. The downside was largely financial – I ended up racking up significant costs on renting cabs over the year. On the plus side, I think I gained a window into the mindset of this city.

The experiences were largely good. In general, the cabbies provided a lot of friendly banter on a variety of topics – the shambolic performance of the Scottish National football team, Wayne Rooney’s theatrics in the bid to snatch an enhanced pay package, the delights of summer in the shape of scantily clad women, and pregnant Nigerian women and their inclination to take cabs even over short distances and the like. There was the occasional complaining cabbie who had stories to tell of how the city’s taxi regulators milked him of the genuine profits he made; or more regularly the one who bitched about the weather.

There were the touching stories too – the bloke whose niece was dying of cancer and had been sent home to die in peace, the one whose children had ganged up to wring a couple of hundred pounds worth of Christmas gifts from his grasp and the one who knew someone who had fallen victim to a Nigerian scam artist.

I had the pleasure of meeting a few thinking cabbies too. There was the one whose immersion in Ian McEwan’s ‘Solar’ I was loathe to disrupt, the one who wistfully harked back to memories of night life in Port Harcourt sandwiched between two buxom lasses, and of course, the ex-professional footballer (his claim, I didn’t verify anything).

Inevitably, three questions never failed to come up… “Where are you from originally?”, ” How long have you been in this city?”  and “Where do you work?”

Living Dangerously…

Talent is the desire to practice…..It is that you love something so much that you are willing to make an enormous sacrifice and an enormous commitment to that, whatever it is — task, game, sport, what have you.

Malcom Gladwell

Last year I closed out a fair bit of my plans – at least I was waaay above the average 12%. This year, I decided I would only do one thing – Live Dangerously.

Contrary to SisiBola’s expectations,  I am not heading out on a tour of duty to Iraq, or learning how not to use underwear, or packing my bags and running off to some exotic island with Halle Berry (IF she offers it, I’d be jumping, thank you very much!).  I am merely deciding to do things differently – plan less, reflect less, analyze less and DO more!

The hardest lesson I have had to learn on the Journey is that above a minimum level of planning and detail, the incremental safety is illusionary and counts for nothing. That goes against my grain!

So here I am, an intrepid bird-man, tottering on the edge…… and jumping off….