As I sail on the wide seas of Word Press, I meet many great souls. Some grip my attention in a way that’s hard to let them go. Since I set eyes on Jacqueline Oby-Ikocha, she has not stopped amazing me with her brilliance. Jacky has a mind that sets her apart to stand out shoulders high above the crowd. When her prompt was selected for the Blogging University Course of December 2015, I realized I was not alone to take note of this shooting star. The giant WordPress Machinery had spotted her too; and so I couldn’t wait any longer to seek to get her consent to be my guest on Success Inspirer. What a joy when she accepted! I have no iota of doubt that you will enjoy Jacky’s company fully in the interview that follows:
You are one of the very strong personalities I have met on the WordPress. You are young but what I get from you shows you are a force to reckon with. I would like you to start by introducing yourself to our readers.
I will simply introduce myself as Jacqueline Oby-Ikocha. A professional, bilingual English/French translator, turned writer. Nigerian by birth and of Igbo heritage *East central states of Nigeria*. A wife, mother, blogger, entrepreneur, life enthusiast and a whole gamut of hats I wear that lack a title.
When I visit your blog and read what you write, I find you very solid. You write brilliantly and show proof of mastery of the world. What accounts for your flair for writing and also for your ability to do things with a special touch that not many people have?
I am a voracious reader, though my reading habits have toned down a little bit due to time constraints and other life activities which encroach on it. Nonetheless, I must read before going to bed, its’ my own sleeping tonic. The only side to the reading before going to bed is that sometimes, I find myself acting out the roles of an interesting character in my book of the moment. I try to see things from lots of different dimensions, and maybe in that way, I can identify myself as a thinker with an artistic flair.
Tell me about your family beginning with your parents to your husband and children.
A whole lot of my background stems from growing up in an academic setting. My late dad was a lecturer and my mother a retired Deputy Registrar at the foremost esteemed University in Nigeria; University of Nigeria, Nsukka. They nurtured my innate love for books by buying and exposing my mind to the enriching values of reading.
From your site it is clear that you are in a happy marriage. What are the things that are making you happy in your marriage?
I have been married for over 15 years and the success of my marriage can be traced to old standing tenets of love, patience, tolerance, understanding, prayers, kindness, generosity, communication and humility. Like every marriage, we have our challenges, but with the understanding that we want things to work out, we have found ways that work for us. Sometimes, it might involve stepping back from the issue at hand, praying and meditating over it in order to find the best approach. There also has to be a lot of willingness not to bear grudges, to forgive the other party and think of the greater good of the family. Lastly, I believe that my happiness emanates from within me and does not lie in the hands of another human being, so, I therefore actively seek for how to be at peace with myself, how to inspire myself and feeling happy as an individual before being part of a couple.
I read a beautiful post you wrote and you were sharing on one of your flaws. Can you talk a little about that here? Which are the flaws that you have discovered in yourself? What are they doing or have they done to your marital relationship and even with others? What are you doing about them?
I believe that maturity, child rearing and marriage have toned down my temperament to a large extent. I used to have a very fiery, impatient temper which was a bit of a challenge in my early years of marriage because I can be quite a driven and focused person and found any drawbacks annoying. It was a bit of a challenge to suddenly realize that part of being married meant conferring with my husband on decisions that ordinarily, I would have made without consulting anyone. It was not an easy pill to swallow for the first few years, but I do believe that compromising goes very well with prayers which carry a lot of power over our lives. I wanted a happy home, a long lasting marriage, so I had to learn to adjust my mind-set to accommodate my husband’s opinions and as time went by, it became much easier to be a team.
You are widely traveled if I go by the information I have got from your site. Where have you travelled to? What do you get out of travelling?
Traveling is an education in itself. Aside from learning bits and pieces about other people’s culture, it exposes one’s eyes to things that they have probably not seen or experienced before. It does enlarge a person’s scope of thinking and perceptions. I have been fortunate to have visited to a good number of places, but there is still a whole lot of places that I would love to visit. Naturally, coming from West Africa, I am acquainted with a good number of African countries such as Benin Republic, Togo, Ghana, Sao Tome Principe, Cote d’Ivoire, Niger Republic, South Africa, Kenya, Seychelles. I have equally enjoyed extensive travels to North America -US/Canada, Europe: France, Belgium, Switzerland, Amsterdam, Luxembourg, United Kingdom, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates, where I live right now.
That is what is meant by being blessed, isn’t it? Tell us more about your job. What does it entail. What do you like about the it?
Having moved recently to the UAE, I decided to step back from seeking formal office work and to consolidate my writing aspirations as well as working on other latent skills of mine before foraying back into the rat-race of work if at all. I am currently working vigorously on my books, freelance writing, blogging, taking care of my family and self-development.
What are the challenges of this job.
The challenges with this particular lifestyle is the sporadic flow of monthly income, but with proper planning one can actually aspire to this. For several years while involved in a hectic work lifestyle and travelling back and forth on-the-job, I knew that I wanted to have time for myself and my family, so I started setting the wheel in motion. Diversifying one’s funds into other residual income earning means is the way forward to achieving certain goals. For example, investing in bonds and stocks, in property and the likes. Also, being your own CEO of your dreams, requires really pushing your boundaries of aspirations and achievements.
You can see I am far from being wrong to hold you in high esteem. Now, looking at the world today, what are the urgent challenges that the world needs to address to become the world that God meant it to be?
Today’s problems are 95% religious and race inclined issues, then followed by economic constraints and until we embrace the virtues of life and God, we are in for the long rough haul. These days, people scoff at believing in God and serving the Lord. We seem to know it all already, so we as humanity reap the results of knowing it all. God does not force himself on people. It is a matter of our choice.
That sounds brilliant to me. There are millions of young girls the world over who are very pessimistic about the future. They can’t find jobs. They can’t find husbands or they have jobs and husbands that are not delivering. Here you are, from what I see, having it all. Tell them the secret. How does one get a good job these days? What must they do? How do they find husbands? By the way, did you sit an exam to get the job that has made you so comfortable in life?
Thinking outside the box is one of the things that counts when it comes to looking for a job or earning a livelihood. A lot of people want high-flying jobs without putting in the time. Some may be fortunate to have it on a platter and some may need to start from somewhere and work their way up. We live in the digital world of instant gratification and this is part of the challenge. Everything has to be delivered on the spot. Self-development does not end in acquiring a degree or other certificates. It is a continuous process. Make your fingers productive. Not everyone is going to get a fantastic corporate job, but they can create alternative jobs for themselves. I have baked commercially. I have run a catering outfit. I have contemplated starting a fishery and poultry but we moved so I put a stop to the idea. There are so many ideas that I have dabbled into that may seem laughable but if it requires selling tea by the road to achieve my goals, I will, because I consider my hands as blessed.
A lady should never marry because her mates have all gotten married, therefore she settles for anyone, whether suitable or not. Start as you mean to go in your marriage. Don’t get involved with a man and start showing off your superwoman skills of being able to do it all, so that you will keep him interested. That is a big mistake a lot of young ladies make and that is setting oneself up for the long haul of distress.
I do not advise any lady to sit down and fold her arms waiting for a husband to come and find her. Live your life by making your days interesting and fulfilling. Do things that are positively enabling and edifying for you. Join volunteering groups, join positive networking communities within your immediate environment (not online chatting) but a face to face time events, be proactive and then again, prepare yourself mentally to take on the responsibility that comes with marriage. It does require commitment to make it work out beautifully.
I like your advice and hope many young women do as well. I would like you to tell me; why did you create a blog? What do you blog about? The title of your blog. What is the story about it and blogging for you in general?
My journey to blogging is still relatively a short one, but prior to blogging, I always liked writing my thoughts, stories, poetry, inspirational and opinions on issues that plague us. The part of getting to connect and interact with so many people from different parts of the World is what is most thrilling about blogging, but the deluge of mails that you receive in a day can be quite daunting. I guess that is part of the deal. To know more about my reasons for blogging, how I started blogging, you can click on these links: http://acookingpotandtwistedtales.com/about/ and http://acookingpotandtwistedtales.com/2015/07/07/what-inspired-my-title-and-ever-changing-tag-line-blogging-101/ , http://acookingpotandtwistedtales.com/2015/07/06/introducing-myself-blogging-101/.
What are your dreams. You have a great source of livelihood, great husband, cute children; you travel around the world; in short you have everything going for you. Where do you intend to land?
My dreams are not yet finite since my life is a continuum and due to that, I think of my aspirations as ad infinitum. It evolves and until death do us part, I will continue to aspire higher.
I am interested in knowing your sources of inspiration: your role models or models; the books and films that have shaped your life. In short who are those who have shaped your life? Which books have influenced you the most?
Being an avid reader, I honestly no longer bother keeping a list of the number of books that I read. My love for reading started at a very young age, that even then I would choose a book over a toy. I find joy in reading diversely and it has nourished my mind. I read Thrillers, Detective, Historical Romance, Modern Romance, Spiritual, Inspirational, Motivational, children’s books etc. My taste in reading is simply eclectic. In my young days, some of the authors that were a staple for me were Agatha Christie, James Hadley Chase, Enid Blyton, Grimm’s Brothers, Charles Dickens, Charlotte Bronte, Barbara Cartland and a host of others. Now that I am older and with a lot more responsibilities, I try to sectionalize my reading. Each month, I select 3 to 5 items which cover ranges of Fiction, Non-Fiction, Motivational and Self-Help.
How do you spend your leisure time? What are your hobbies?
I relax by reading or idling away the time by playing with my kids, dancing, or watching the TV (which is sparingly) It all depends on my mood. Sometimes, I go for a long walk while I plot a writing in my head.
What do you like to eat?
I am not a picky eater though my mother said I gave her stress of picking at food when I was young. As it is now, I try to stick to lots of greens and lean protein.
You write great love stories. What are your plans about publishing?
The plan to publish is in the pipeline, starting this year, 2016.
What do you like and dislike about your country?
The thing that I detest most about my country is the level of corruption that has festered in the Nation like Cancer. It is really distressing especially when one believes in being upright and having integrity.
What are the challenges you face as a woman to exploit your God-given talents to the full?
Sometimes, women are hindered in achieving their optimum potentials due to the exigencies of raising a young family, keeping the Homefront and balancing a career. For instance, I once held a job with the European Union and British American Tobacco and because of the nature of the job which entailed a lot of out of station travel, with a very young family, it was very stressful. At some point, I chose to step back, not excitedly, but for the sake of my young family. The expectation is that a woman should carry all these responsibilities successfully which in my opinion can be quite stretching.
Secondly, in a male dominated society especially in Africa, women are still pretty much seen as chattels and if a lady is not focused or strong enough to carve out a path for herself, she simply gets subsumed and in some cases, by the time the lady is self-aware, a lot of time has passed.
What is that makes you happy? Are you a difficult person to please or to deal with?
I am a very simple person. It doesn’t take a lot to make me happy and contented.
You may have a word for those who have read or will read this interview.
Always keep an open heart and mind. Exercise your dreaming muscles. Dream as big as you can even those dreams that seem unachievable. Dream them, then get to work.
Your intrinsic spiritual self must be rightly aligned. We are spirits inhabiting a physical body. Your spirit man must be nourished always and at peace with itself.
Read, Read, Read and read some more.
Kindness pays far better than hatred which takes up a lot of energy and is an acid that corrodes the soul.
Unburden your thoughts and exhale at the end of each day. You can do this by writing away the bothersome thoughts, by praying over them, by talking it over with someone, but you must detox the mind, letting go of all the anger, of despair, of un-forgiveness and the likes.
A mind cluttered with junk cannot amount to much. Garbage in, garbage out.
Self-love is key to contentment. Self-love is different from selfishness. When you love yourself sufficiently, it is then possible to cascade this love down to others.
I can never thank you enough for accepting to be our guest. Success Inspirer wishes you the best in 2016 and in all your endeavors.
Thank you for your time and kind regards.
Jacqueline Oby-Ikocha is a professional, bilingual English/French translator, turned writer. Nigerian by birth and of Igbo heritage *East central states of Nigeria*. A wife, mother, blogger, entrepreneur, life enthusiast and a whole gamut of hats she wears. You can get to know and appreciate her more by visiting her blog which is found at http://acookingpotandtwistedtales.com/