Living with death in mind

living with death in mind - a tombstone

My grandfather had a coffin made for him before he died. It was just a simple rectangular box made with cheap wood. He was scourged for such an action. People said it was wrong to prepare for death in such a bizarre manner. In fact, immediately after he died, they broke the coffin and made a new one that they felt befitted his stature.

When you give people your Will, they go, “Oh boy, are you dying? Do you have a terminal illness…?

Death isn’t a palatable subject to discuss because it’s the end. Some believe when they talk about it, they’ll die sooner.

But death is inevitable. We can’t avoid it. Immediately you’re born, you start dying from that day on. We may take care of our health by eating nutritious food, visiting the doctor regularly, and exercising often. In truth, all we’re doing is living a little bit longer and postponing our death.

We can say that doctors don’t save us. They prevent us from dying today so we can perish helplessly tomorrow.

With the knowledge that we can die anytime, we strive to live our life to the full and savour whatever joy we have now.

Do your best each day.
Enjoy life to the full each day.

Because you never know when the end will come.

The customer is not always right

The customer is not always right

But you need to cherish the customer.
She’s queen and must be your top priority.
You’re in business because of your customer.

And she has the right to demand better service.

Get paid and free yourself from stress

Get paid -  A hand holding money

By Fiifi Dzansi

Get paid and free yourself from stress

You’re only in business when people pay for your services.

Money is the electricity that powers a business.

As a freelancer, a chunk of your job is to get your clients to pay you.

The first step to achieving that is to sign a contract. A contract bonds you together and ensures everyone is on the same page throughout the project.

Listen to the entire podcast below.

https://open.spotify.com/episode/2MpHxpuY9D1lkPEMyE8MHf?si=vKxpUd1LRFK-tqnDLJhAMw

Smile, You’re On Camera

A man smiling for the camera

By Fiifi Dzansi

‘Smile, you’re on camera’ was a sticker I saw stuck to a vehicle’s dashboard.
A smile brings sunshine to any photograph.

With the widespread of digital tech, we’re all on camera.
CCTVs hang around city spaces and in front of homes, giving us a constant stare.
People can take photos of us without our knowledge.
We’ve willingly handed over the keys to our privacy to the tech companies.

It’ll not be an exaggeration to say that the internet knows us more than our parents ever will.

Absolute privacy is a luxury most of us can’t afford.

Wherever we are, whether in public or in a secret corner of our home – it’s safe to say: “Smile, you’re on camera.”

Don’t Take Criticism Personally

a man shouting a criticism
By Fiifi Dzansi

Creative work provokes conversations. Everyone would want to have a say in what you’ve created. Most of the comments you’ll receive as a creative are a criticism.

You might hear people say, “Don’t take criticism personally.” And that whatever others say about your work is a reflection of what they are. This is true.

But, I’ve spent so much time on the project. I worked on it from the heart. The end result has become an extension of me. Therefore, whatever you say about my work also affects me.

However, we’re imperfect, and so is our work. People have the right to interpret our work the way they want, and we can’t prevent that. We need to be open to constructive criticism and seek ways to improve.

Sometimes we can direct the conversation about our work. Don’t ask: “What do you think?” Instead, you can ask: “Is the concept as bold as you want it to be?”

When we ask the right questions, feedback will be constructive and helpful.

This is an excerpt from the podcast “Why be conscious of your mental health as a creative.” You can listen to the entire episode here.

Deadlines Can Bite

Checking the time for a deadline
By Fiifi Dzansi

Deadlines are dreadful.

We dread them for two reasons:
Suddenly, we must come to the end of a project we’ve grown so much affinity for.
Tight deadlines inject our veins with so much stress.

To deal with the stress associated with very tight deadlines, try to avoid them. At least for the most part of your life. Also, make it a point to complete projects ahead of the deadline. So they don’t sneak up on you. Work a little faster than usual.

Why Be Conscious Of Your Mental Health As A Creative

A Creative with Mental Health problems

Life is tough on everyone. Creatives have their fair share of it. Designers are constantly thinking of how to find solutions to challenges in the world. Musicians must keep the entertainment going.

So far as people get what they want, they rarely would wake up and ask: “How are you today?”

The mind is where all our actions originate from. When we take care of it, our creativity can flow freely.

Listen to my maiden edition of the Mentally Creative podcast. On the podcast, I discussed how to handle some things (Deadlines, Striving for originality, Criticism and Rejection) that can weigh heavily on us. And if not well managed can affect our mental health. 


New Year Resolutions Are For Losers

New Year Resolutions Are For Losers

By fiifi DZANSI


We are here again.

The end of the year.

The number one thing on most people’s minds is how to make the next year better. Hence the new year resolutions. 

What makes it a worrying situation is that many are now going to reflect on their lives to see what went wrong and rectify the mishaps.

Then there’ll be a long list of usually elusive goals for the future. In the end, dreams will be left unattended to and many more set for the future.

We treat a new year as if it’s an entirely new universe, where we step to and rediscover ourselves and uncover the unknown.

There’ll be many prophesies of goodwill and stickers proclaiming a bountiful beginning clinging to vehicles everywhere you go. But if such proclamations really worked, there’ll be fewer poor or unfulfilled people left on the streets.

What makes the matter worse is many believe someone needs to hold their hands to cross into the new year. Some would pay hefty sums for a prayer that promises them good fortune in the new year.

In truth, a new year is just another day. It’s another Monday, Tuesday… you get the point. Nothing dramatic is going to happen. You’re not crossing the red sea to the promised land. Your current situation may even get worse.

See, we are not in a time machine that will spew us out into a different era.

Stop stressing about the new year. It’s nothing special.

While writing this article, I checked my timeline on Twitter. And the majority of Africans are all about resolutions, grandiose proclamations and some lowkey prophecies for the new year.

On the other hand, Americans, Europeans, and others are going about business as usual. Many of them understand that the new year is just another day.

But don’t get me wrong. 

We need to plan for the future. Anyone who doesn’t would live an aimless life. The way we go about it makes the difference. 

Every day allows us to start on a clean slate.

I have a Goal-board that I use. It’s divided into four quarters, with each quarter having its goals and three months to accomplish them. It’s all broken down into little daily tasks.

Each day, wake up with a heart full of gratitude. Count your blessings in the morning. This helps to drive away bad energy and inject you with the will to face the day. Plan what to accomplish in the day and go conquer mountains.

Find a peaceful place to reflect on your life at the end of each day. Be open about it, and don’t sweep anything under the carpet. Be grateful for your achievements, no matter how small they might be. The stuff that didn’t go well, find a way to resolve them.

Put one foot in front of another. 

Keep your goals doable. 

Break them down into chewable bits.

What have we talked about?

Don’t wait till the end of the year to start planning your life. Every day is a new life, a new year (if you wish to call it that).

Life is a daily affair.

Make each day count.

Let’s Go Organic

Let's go organic

By fiifi DZANSI


We can all become organic farmers/gardeners.

Commercial farming practices, including the use of fertiliser and pesticides, are not sustainable. We are losing much of our bee population and other organisms. It’s worrying.

Some have switched to organic farming. That’s where the trend must head if we are serious about climate change. Crops grown in the organic farming system are healthier. And this method helps preserve our ecosystem.

With all the benefits, why aren’t all farmers taking this direction?

Organic farming isn’t easy.
It takes time.
Controlling pests is difficult. And yield may not be as bountiful.

Many argue that the world is in serious need of food to feed the hungry. And organic farming may not help hasten things up.

Humans once practised organic farming before tech got to this stage. If we are determined enough, we can turn things around.

One bold step is for all of us to start our gardens wherever we live on Earth.

First, it helps to appreciate where the food we eat comes from. We may have some basic food we can put on our plate. The delight that comes from eating from your own harvest can not be overemphasised.

Composting is a vital part of organic farming. The food we no longer need, dead plants and animal droppings are kept in a bin. Over time it becomes a natural food for the crop we grow in our gardens. This practice reduces food waste in refuse dumps and decreases our greenhouse problems.

Gardening requires some sort of dedication and commitment. So start small. Even if you live in a high-rising apartment in the city, you can grow herbs and veggies in containers on your balcony.

It’s Dangerous To Let Your Kid sit On A stranger’s Lap On A Bus

It's Dangerous To Let Your Kid sit On Someone's Lap On A Bus

By fiifi DZANSI


A woman boards a bus with a baby strap to her back and pulls her six-year-old boy along.
She sits, unwraps her baby from the cloth behind and places her on her lap.

The boy doesn’t have a seat. He has to stand in front of his mom.

A stranger offers to make the boy sit on his lap.

Why?

Kids of that age are unofficially not allowed to have their own seats on a bus. They either sit on someone’s lap or stand through the journey.

It’s become our culture. Don’t ask me where it came from.

We feel kids under six or so should not take a seat. It’s free when they stand or sit on someone’s lap. They are too small to occupy a space. They don’t deserve it. Seats are reserved for adults only.

This practice hurts children both physically and emotionally.

The stranger offering their lap as seat may be a psycho who could take advantage of the situation to touch your kid inappropriately. And that could result in more grievous acts. At such a tender age, many kids wouldn’t understand such lewd behaviour.

It may haunt them in their adulthood.

I once heard a story of a man. He continually violated a girl who used to sit on his lap on a bus.

A stranger may be carrying a contagious disease such as TB, Sarcoptic mange, Leprosy, COVID etc. and transfer it to your kid. This, in turn, would spread through your family. Pray it has a cure, though. Otherwise, it may be an illness your kid has to manage for the rest of their life.

Other times too, some parents allow strangers on a bus to feed their kids. It’s unhealthy.

Parenting doesn’t come cheap. I know. Paying your kid’s transportation is can be expensive, especially if you have more kids. But it comes with the whole package. Your responsibility as a parent includes protecting your young ones from predators.

Children deserve to have a seat on a bus. It’s dignifying and civil. They’re not just a bunch of load you haul along, but humans whose futures are in the making.

Also, when you allow your kid to take a seat, you’re training them to learn independence – that they don’t have to depend on others all the time. It’s a sign they’re no longer babies.

Children are the most vulnerable in society. Easy targets for the bad guys. So as a parent, you need to teach them not to trust strangers and scream bloody murder when someone touches certain parts of their body.

I’m not being paranoid. This is a real issue you must not brush aside.

Buses are more economical, and not every parent can afford ride-hailing services or taxis.

If you don’t own a car, transportation fare has to be part of your family budget.