Category Archives: Reflections

Self-improvement lesson 1: Clear Your head, start a journal

This is the start of a series of post I’m going to do on rebuilding yourself to improve your brand. You might not even be a creative with a brand. But some of these lessons I have learned can be beneficial whoever you are and whatever you do.

 

The first thing you need to do before you start rebuilding, is to work on your mental health. I don’t know about you, but I am completely unable to create anything good when I have a lot of thoughts spinning around in my head. Especially if I’ve been knocked down by somebody or had my mood killed because I came in the way of someone else’s bad mood. And you do not need lengthy therapy sessions to clear the clutter from your mind. Obviously, there is a place for that too, but you might not be in that place.

 

The tool I’ve started using is journaling. And even after a few days of this new practice, I could start to feel the benefits. The beauty of your own journal is that you can randomly write about whatever, whenever. The writing doesn’t need to be structured at all. You don’t have to write the next Princess diaries or Bridget Jones.

 

I find that when I want to sit down and work and I have a lot going on in my head, I write down all the thoughts that enter my head. After only a few minutes of thought diarrhea, I feel calm enough to start thinking about lyrics, melodies, messages and storylines.

 

I also use the journal to rant about people and situations in my life that I don’t like or want to improve. It’s ok to discuss these things with friends. But I find that getting the worst of my anger out to myself makes for more constructive and less negative conversations with friends at a later point.

 

The scariest part for me about starting a journal is all the self-examination that automatically starts to happen. I write my journal like how I think, so I literally write each thought as it enters my head. And you know that when you think, one thought leads to another and then another. So you end up thinking about something completely different to what you started thinking about. Through the process, I’ve learned and I’m still learning about sides to myself that has held me back from being my best me and it’s not always pleasant. Because it’s hard to fool yourself in that process. But the pain of discovering these things is necessary in order to make lasting changes.

 

I used to think keeping a journal was a lot of work and would take up lots of time, but that’s really not the case. When I feel pressed to write something, or want to pick up the phone to have an unconstructive rant, I open the journal and write for as long as it takes for me to feel lighter and better. Often, I only write for a few minutes at the time. But because I don’t think about structure, or making it readable to other people, I manage to sometimes write a lot in those minutes. I definitely recommend you try it. Nobody needs to know about it. And remember, there are no rules for how it needs to be. If you want to be Bridget Jones, you can.

 

If keeping a journal doesn’t work for you, regular prayer or meditation can also be helpful and they can be combined With the journal. Whatever Works best for you. And I also find that exercising Works well for me. But I think some form of stopping all activities to really examine Your mind is vital towards an improved you. So exercising should ideally be an addition to one of the other options.

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You are Your best help

Gosh! I haven’t written on here for such a loooong time! My excuse, life happens and now more than ever, I’ve come to realize life has so many different seasons and I have reached a season of rebuilding myself and my brand.

 

Before I reached this stage however, I’d like to be honest and say I was in a season that wasn’t so progressive. I had released a song yes, and it has received close to 90 000 views on YouTube. While I realized that’s not much compared to the world famous music legends, it’s definitely a new height for Lioness Oyinbo. For personal reasons I was unable to travel to do any more work and being in Norway was really killing my creativity. Even my Nigerian Entertainment Awards nomination for diaspora artist wasn’t really cheering me up. Not until I went to New York. And that’s when I realized I needed to pull myself together. Winning the award was the kick up the butt I needed. Ironically though, I didn’t win what I was nominated for, but I won something called The Trail blazer award. This is awarded creatives in the Nigerian industry who has taken new directions and done great things. I got it because I had broken so successfully into the Nigerian music industry.

 

I was very emotional receiving the award and singing in front of a screaming audience and doing my thank you speech felt really amazing. Being in the music industry can at times be very lonely and unforgiving and knowing that the audience love your voice and appreciate you, really is just what you need. I’m still up and coming and though I have faithful fans, I don’t receive tons of adoring public tweets every day. But that means the cheers and the applauses means so much more. As do the heartfelt messages I’ve received on Facebook, twitter and Instagram.

 

I realize that winning this award means I have a lot of work to do if I’m gonna keep deserving it. So I started working on myself from the inside and my brand from the outside. In New York I’ve shot an amazing music video to a new song that’s dropping soon. I also had the privilege to fly to Dallas to do an Interview with Not Just Ok TV which I have been told will come out soon.

 

The outside work has been great and I realized that to continue doing great things and to be in a better environment, I’m going to have to do another international move which I am so excited about. But I’ll do another update on that soon.

 

What’s been even more exciting for me though, is the work on me. As I was travelling, first to New York and then to Kenya, I realized that there are many areas of my thinking and personality that I need to work on. Not only will it improve my mental state, but an improved mental state also means an improved brand. And because I’m not where I want to be yet in terms of my career and because I won’t reach it by not undergoing some personal improvements, this is extremely necessary. I have already learned lots of lessons and truths that are really mind-blowing and I want to share some of my new insights on here in the months to come. What I want to say for now is though, if you need your brand to excel, it’s great to have the contacts; it’s great to have the support. But if you don’t tidy your head, you’ll not really get anywhere. Many people can believe in you, but it doesn’t work unless you help yourself.

At the end of the day, I’m applying for personal freedom

I have decided to take the big step and get a personal assistant. If you know me in person you’re either thanking God or the universe, or you’re wondering if I hit my head on something and turned crazy.

 

This wasn’t an easy decision to make. I previously frowned upon blind people who chose to have a personal assistant and wrote them off as lazy and stupid enough to not be independent. I prided myself in not having to rely on assistance for doing anything. But what was starting to bug me more and more was the fact that although I definitely am very independent, and not just in a blindness sense, I do sometimes need help to do things and relying on friends just became less and less of a good solution. Sure friends help each other out, but how much and how often should you expect a friend to take his or her time to help with bits and pieces you can’t do yourself, such as filling out inaccessible forms, take you places you don’t memorize the routes too because you go there once every blue moon and help clean up after a party? Seeing as everyone has different opinions on how far the call of friendship goes there’s not a standard answer to this.

 

There’s also another reason I don’t want to rely on neither friends nor family for more than casual help that won’t require them to take too much time out of their schedule. It’s the issue of gratitude. Now, being grateful and thanking someone is not something I have a problem with. But I have ended up in situations where I’ve been perceived as ungrateful, as being too grateful or even thanking people in the wrong way.

With an assistant, those burdens are taken away from me. I employ someone who gets paid by the wonderful well fare state to do stuff with and for me and I don’t have to worry if I thanked them in the right way. And they are there to help me do things when I need them done. Not when it suits my friends.

 

Before I would have seen this as being less independent, but now I will argue that it increases my independence on many levels, because I wouldn’t have to rely on my loved ones to get things I find hard to do myself. And if that’s not freedom, I don’t know what is. Besides, shouldn’t every pop diva out there have a Personal assistant? 😉

Why I left Forever Living

I’m not afraid to change my mind and admit when I’ve made a mistake.

 

Six months ago, I started my side business as a distributor of Forever Living Products (FLP). I had several reasons for doing so. One of them was to try and make some extra cash on the side. Another was because whatever I did to try and get a job on the side to finance my music I just couldn’t get anywhere. So although I’ve said previously that it was the ethics of the company and the products, it was just because I felt I was hitting my head against a brick wall. However, I did really believe that then.

 

Before I go on, everything I said about my C9 experience on my blog is true. It was positive and I learned some new good habits. I also don’t hate the products, or my uplines. I left because of a few things.

 

Firstly, I felt increasingly unwilling to put in any work. I didn’t like seeing everybody as either potential customers or recruiters. So I wasn’t talking to people enough that my business had the potential to expand.

 

Secondly, I felt the stress of having to buy in some stock every month to stay active. I never bought more than I could use or sell to my few customers, but this also meant my monthly bonuses were too small to make a difference.

 

Thirdly, it was the products. They are not bad and I’ve had some good results with many of them, but, remember the post I wrote about L’Occitane? I’d rather spend money on a company that make their products accessible to me by Brailling them and who does so many things I stand for, like the projects in Africa and perfume school for blind teenagers. I know it’s kind of ridiculous to be so in love with a skin care company, but apart from producing excellent good smelling products, the accessibility factor means so much to me. Ok, I can never really make money out of using L’Occitane products, but my money goes to a worthy cause.

 

Finally, and this is the most important reason of them all, I am getting some new opportunities with both my music and my writing. I won’t say too much before I have some big news, but I have good things in the works. And those things take up enough time that I don’t feel like making time for selling products where the tubes look all the same, not so easy when you can’t see, to people who’re not really interested. Also, the projects I’m working on will bring a more regular monthly income which is what I need.

 

I’m glad I tried being an FLP distributor though, because every life experience teaches you somethings about yourself that you can bring forward. I’ve had some great sales experiences and met some lovely people and those are positive things. I’ll probably stay away from network marketing for the rest of my life. Not just because it’s not my preferred way of working, but because of the cult like vibes to those companies and I’m not big on cults.

A rant about landing a mediajob

I’ve talked a lot about work, my work, other people’s work, the importance of work and difficulties of getting work on this blog. And in fear of both repeating myself and sounding very frustrated, which I am to be quite honest, I’m going to talk about challenges of getting media work when you’re blind.

 

First things first. Getting a media job is hard for anybody. The competition is fierce wherever you are in the world and even in supposedly uncorrupt Norway, nepotism rules in the media industry. So it’s not what you know, it’s who you know that is the key to land that lucrative job.

 

I have been trying for quite a while to both work freelance and get a media job here in Norway so that I can make money tow work more freely with my music, although my situation on that front is slowly but surely improving. Working freelance has its own challenges and I’m not going to discuss them in this post, but applying for media jobs is a bit like hitting my head against a brick wall.

Today a journalist is supposed to be able to do everything from writing and sub editing to photographing and creating video content. This is good in one way I guess. Media houses everywhere are cutting costs and thus jobs and it makes sense for them to employ multi-talented people. But the truth is that leaves out some good talent. And not just blind media professionals who are talented on the writing and the audio side of journalism. I have come to understand that just because your eyes work, it’s not synonymous with being good at creating visual content.

 

Ironically, I am quite good when it comes to visual content, because I have an intuitive understanding of what illustration work with what story. And I’m not the only blind media professional who have these skills. However, looking at most media jobs and seeing “Good eyes for pictures” or “Video editing skills” as a description of most of them, I feel like the world is trying to mock me and I take it personal. Most of my sighted journalist friends have to work with visuals in their jobs, even for radio. So the visuals seem unescapable.

 

The really sad thing is that instead of looking at my talent and ask me how to get around the visual challenges; I am just told that I don’t meet all the qualifications. And in some cases, I’ve been told right out that I’d not be able to do the job because of the visual skills required.

 

In Norway there is absolutely no reason not to employ someone on those grounds. Government funded assistance and secretary funds make it possible for a blind person with the appropriate skills to operate efficiently within any media organization. And in England there is Access to work which helps with similar things.

 

I wouldn’t apply for a job as a photo journalist. But I could instruct a work assistant or secretary to film certain things for a documentary or news report and they tell them how to edit it. I would still be the one creating the content. They would just press the buttons of the most likely, inaccessible software for me. Because that’s another thing. only the BBC in my experience have software I can use for audio editing. However, with today’s technology it’s possible to make audio editing programmes screen reader friendly. And in case of getting a job, it could be fixed. At least with some software.

 

My journalist friends in the UK often ask me why I’m not doing more journalism work, since I’m a good a journalist. My only answer is that I haven’t been able to show my talent to someone who matters and that I don’t know the right people. I have made full length radio documentaries, presented live current affairs shows and worked for one of the world’s best mediahouses, so I’ve got to know journalism, a little, right? But these days I’m wondering whether I’m kidding myself that I have journalism talent at all.

 

Again, it boils down to one thing. Attitude. There isn’t something wrong with me, but with the society who produce employers who don’t want to give chances to people who have to work a little bit differently, but who can work just as good and efficient as any of their other employees. I’ve talked about me, myself and I in this post. But I dedicate this rant equally to any visually impaired media professionals who are facing similar challenges. And wonder sometimes whether they do have talents. I don’t blame you if you’ve lost sight of it during your jobsearch. And if you’ve been lucky enough to land the dream job and keep it. Cudos to you and your hopefully liberal thinking employers.

the Blindtrap

I don’t think I know a single blind person who has escaped the “blindtrap”. Not entirely anyway. What is the blindtrap? It is variations on thinking that you’re somehow inferior because you’re blind. This feeling of inferiority can be manifested in many ways and some of them are extremely subtle. It can be obvious things from passing comments such as “You’d be so much more attractive if you could make eye-contact” and not getting jobs because of employers attitudes, to sighted people excluding you from helping out on communal cooking and decorating because they may think it’s difficult for you to join and being more efficient at many practical things because they can see.

 

I am sad, but not ashamed to say that I too am caught in this trap more often than I like at times. And I have to remind myself that sighted people are not better, sexier, more intelligent, and more capable than me just because they’re sighted.

 

I remember having a conversation with a good friend of mine whom I also used to work with. I couldn’t work out what I’d done for my team leader to dislike me so much. I felt like an annoying insect she wanted to smash against the window every time I had to speak to her.

“I think she sees you as competition. She’s pretty and blond like you, but you’re twenty years younger and fit. So maybe you remind her of what she used to be,” my friend said.

I was astonished to hear this. How could anyone see me, a blind girl as competition? “Don’t be ridiculous,” my friend said when I pointed out that since she was sighted, she’d always be a lot more attractive than me anyway.

 

I’ve talked with this particular friend a lot about my inferiority issuex. And he has made me understand that I am just as sexy, intelligent, capable and resourceful as someone who can see. I’ve

even had men, both sighted and blind, asking if I’d have their kids because they’d want to make sure their kids got well brought up by a capable woman with strong ethical principles. And that’s a huge compliment.

There are many small and easy steps sighted people can take to avoid giving their blind friends or family members feelings of inferiority .

  • Involve them in communal activities. Not sure of their abilities? Ask. “Can you cut these onions?” If the answer is no, suggest something else, or let the blind person tell you what he/she can do
  • Expect them to pull their weight. If you’re having a party where everybody is bringing stuff, make sure everybody is bringing stuff. Last time I checked, blindness doesn’t interfere with ones abilities to bake a cake or buy a bottle of wine. This is also important for parents who have both blind and sighted kids. I was expected to do housework just like my brother was. Different chores yes. But I had no excuse not to do them.
  • Unless asked for, don’t take over a blind person’s chore because you can do it quicker. If you do something regularly, be it house work, cooking or gardening, you’ll get good at it no matter how well you see.
  • Don’t pick up objects to be helpful. My friends often pick up my handbag or cane when we’re leaving a restaurant without telling me, only for me to spend ages feeling for it on the floor. It makes me feel a little stupid. I know it comes from a good place, but….. Just leave it for me to pick up.

This list could include more points, but I can’t think of any right now. But as long as you use your common sense and ask questions you should be cool.

What blind people can do? Soul searching, living and learn to recognize that it is possible for a sighted person to sometimes feel inferior to you because of who you are or what you can do. I still fall into the blindtrap, but not as frequently as when I was younger, or for different reasons. I probably always will in some cases. But having sighted people around me who just treat me like a normal person and don’t act like my blindness is an inconvenience for them or a reason to exempt me from daily life, does a lot to make me feel as valuable as them.

 

Corporate brand ambassadour deals should be more available to street artists

When I read that David Adeleke, AKA Davido had signed a deal with Pepsi, to be one of its ambassadours, I was not really surprised. After all, he’s a popular artist. But it got me thinking, what about the street artists? Why don’t Pepsi and other brands sign more deals with them?

 

It makes sense why different brands choose somebody who has an established brand to represent them, because of sales numbers etc. And sometimes artists who are not born from money get signed which is good. But I wish there was more of that. One thing I have learned in the music industry, and not just the Nigerian one, is that you really need money to make money. Not that you always have to pay extortionate promo costs, but photo shoots, studio time, video making will cost something. It may not completely burst your budget, but you have to invest if you don’t have someone to invest in you. And there are popular street artists out there who could benefit a lot more than those wealthy born ones from a Pepsi deal. Pepsi could also benefit. Many artists are popular, but not visible in the media because they lack money. But any corporate  brand ambassadour deal could change that.

 

So if I ruled the world, or at least the music industry, I would make such deals more easily available to artists who need more exposure and economic help. It would be a step to make a fairer industry.

Five reasons why I love Easter

I’m not too keen on Christmas. The joy and purpose of the season for me has died among the millions of commercials and the pressure of getting appropriate gifts for everyone at the right time including people I don’t know, that well, but who I have to buy gifts for because if I don’t, I’ll end up hurting someone related to them, or with feelings of guilt and embarrassment because they bought me something and I didn’t. Pffft!

 

Easter however, is an entirely different kettle of fish. At least for me. I have always loved it since I was very young. I think mainly then, because of the Easter egg hunt, but not just that. And I love it even more now.

 

Firstly, I’m an Easter child. Born on what is the Persian New Year, first day of spring and so one, my birthday is close to Easter. And despite getting older every year, pretty much like the rest of the human population except Benjamin button, I love my birthday.

 

Secondly, the horrid wretched winter is truly over when Easter arrives. There might be some snow, at least in the mountains, but it’s an amount I can live with. And after Easter comes more spring and summer.

 

Thirdly, I like a lot of the things I culturally relate to Easter. The various chocolate eggs roasted Easter lamb, the cute chickens, the light spring colours of the Easter decorations and the Easter Crime and thrillers. I don’t know if any other countries have this, but in Norway, Easter is associated with Crime fiction and there is always a series running on TV, one on radio as well as crime novels and short stories being released. Oh and there’s also a crime story every year on the milk cartons where you have to guess who did it and won’t find out till Easter eve.

 

Finally, Easter is the season of new life, new hope and new beginnings.

 

Before some Roman Emperor dude decided that the calendar must be changed so that his birthday would fall on the first day of the year, the year started around spring time. My birthday March 21st which is the equinox. This makes a lot more sense. Mid-winter when the new starts now, there’s no real shift in nature to mark this. But as it was, flowers and trees would start blooming at the beginning of the New Year. Sheep would give birth to their lambs and chickens would get hatched.

 

There are also the biblical aspects of Easter. Firstly in the old testament where Moses led the Jews out of their enslavement in Egypt. They did wonder around the desert for 40 years, but their escape symbolizes the end of an old era and the start of a new.

 

Then of course, there’s the New Testament. Jesus who on Good Friday went down to the valley of death to create a way for our spirits to live on when our bodies rot. And if that’s not some kind of new beginning, I don’t know what is. In fact, Easter is one of the very few times a year I quite willingly not just go to mass, but instigate it.

 

So although it’s not Easter Sunday yet, I wish everybody a happy Easter and enjoy it, whether you do that for the chocolates, the Old Testament or the new one.

I’m a Nigerian/African export and proud of it!

A lot of people in Nigeria either ask, or imply that I must be big in my own country and get surprised when I say they have absolutely no clue who I am unless they’re especially interested in Afrobeat. That number in Norway is extremely small. Though the Fela tribute concert I went to in Bergen during the Felabrations indicated that if properly promoted, Afrobeat could actually get a fair following here. I noticed names of different bands being noted down on phones all around me to be looked up on Spotify, so maybe one day more than the 15 or so Afrobeat enthusiasts will know the name Lioness Oyinbo, my family and friends not counted.

 

I got discovered by Nigerians and was invited to Nigeria to develop my music. This couldn’t have happened in Norway and possibly not that easily in the UK, where I experienced that being a white Afrobeat artist was just that little bit awkward. So Nigeria was the only place I could really develop.

 

My reply to those people who ask if I’m big back home is that “I’m an African, Nigerian export” and I’m proud to say that I am. Now, I am accepted as the white Afrobeat singer everywhere, simply because I, musically speaking, come from Africa. My music is being played on all continents, but mainly on African outlets. I hope to be played on mainstream radio stations in Europe, America, Asia and Australia one day, but this is something many African artists alongside me are dreaming of. And if I were to choose between one or the other, I’d rather be on an African radio station playlist among the big names that I admire than be on a mainstream station playlist whilst the people of Africa are don’t want anything to do with my music.

 

So there you have it guys. As an artist, I’m one hundred per cent African and proud of it.

Can sight be a hindrance?

As practical as I can imagine being sighted must be I sometimes think sight can be a very big obstacle.

I was discussing a new type of vegetable pasta with a friend of mine and told her how much I liked it, because it didn’t drop my blood sugar levels the way regular pasta does. Especially white pasta. It even tasted like regular pasta. Her reaction was quite funny. She started lecturing me about how stupid the advert was and that she wasn’t tempted to try it at all because of it. Besides, the pasta was different colours because they had different vegetables inside them.

What surprised me, was that just from seeing, the pasta had put her off. I also thought that pasta came in different colours, because I’ve seen that in Italy. But that’s beside the point. The conversation taught me just how quickly sighted people use their sight to judge and that’s sad.

Sight is a remote way of perceiving the world around you, meaning that there’s no need to get up close with objects or food to get a rough idea of what they are. But the key for me here is remote. You’re not up close and personal with what you see, well not always anyway. So if you see something new, you can’t really know what the object is like.

Food is a great example of this. I used to waitress in Dans Le Noir in London. A restaurant where diners eat and drink in the dark, not knowing what they are eating and drinking. One thing a lot of customers said when they came out after their meal and was told what they had consumed and saw pictures of it was: “I’m glad I didn’t know what it was, or saw it, because I probably wouldn’t have chosen it. But it tasted divine.” That tells me sight is a weak sense. But unfortunately a weak sense that has taken over most sighted people’s lives and dulled their other senses.

Sighted people also judge people faster and sometimes on unfair grounds. Blind people do this too, but usually based on more than just appearance.

One time for instance, I was going out to meet my class mates in St Helier, the capital of Jersey where I went to summer school to improve my English. I was sixteen and my host family was scared to let me go on the bus by myself, but they couldn’t exactly force me to stay in.

My bus came in a little earlier than the other girls busses. I decided to cross the road to the point where I was meeting them, but I missed the crossing. And before I knew it, I had three Jersey skater boys offering me a hand. We had been warned not to mix with, or date the locals. Apparently Jersey girls hated Scandinavians, claiming that they stole their boys, and there had been some ugly cat fights, so when a couple of the other girls stepped off their bus and saw me with the boys, they came running and out of breath asked me if they had done something to hurt me. In fact, the boys had been extremely polite and well behaved, but apparently they looked a little trashy. Perhaps if I’d been sighted, I’d not been so nice to them.

So here’s a challenge for my sighted readers. Next time you’re in a new place, close your eyes and experience the place for a few minutes without sight. Do you notice something you didn’t when your eyes were open? Do you smell, hear and feel things you didn’t realize were around you? This is also good to do in a familiar place, like your favourite café.

I always joke that if I get to see one day, I’ll be a ninja, because all my senses will be so well developed. Just imagine how much richer your world would be if all your senses played as big a role in your life as sight. I personally think it would be pretty awesome.