JANUARY FAVOURITES

So I thought I’d do something different and show you all some things I’ve been loving, especially in the month of January. I know its late, but better late than never! Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m all for trying new things, definitely that individual to try something new on the menu rather than stick to what I know.  I’m a skincare junkie, a foodie, a lover of literature, a film and documentary fanatic and sucker for makeup channels on YouTube…so I’ll amalgamate that list plus more when telling you my favourites. Anyway I’ve decided to structure it a little, so let me stop waffling and get straight into it.

TV/Film

Hidden Figures

This film is truly inspirational. Firstly, my girl Taraji P. Henson holds it down with the acting in this one!  In a nutshell, It’s a story of black female excellence as it highlights an important untold story. It shows the willpower of three black women , with a focus on Katherine Johnson. A black woman who’s intelligence was crucial in one of America’s greatest historical moments, all whilst facing the racial perils of being a black woman. It’s an Oscar nominated must-watch.

Books

The Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger 

So my goal this year is to read 3 books a month, making that 36 a year which is just wow for me! This fiction book although written in 1951, is a classic and straightforward story of male teenage angst and rebellion. Simple narrative, full of wit and an easy read.

 A Book of Prayers for Young Women by Stormie and Page Omartian

This was a gift from my mum in 2nd year and I’ve just got around to opening it in final year, what a shambles. Anyway, it’s a pocket sized book filled with really powerful short prayers for young women. There are 154 prayers covering any and every topic you can think of. Great for young Christians who struggle with prayer.

Food/Drink

Pukka Sweet Vanilla Green Tea

I’m a self-confessed TEA – A – HOLIC. I just love a quality cuppa. Early Grey and Green tea being my favourites. This find seemed like a snazzy version of my trusty green tea, so I thought why not? And wow, this was a sensory experience. The smell to the taste is just divine, its on the pricier side so definitely buy when on special offer.

Skincare

L’Oreal Pure Clay Detox Mask

I hate to say this, but this was a Kylie Jenner recommendation. She posted this product as one of her winter skin care picks, and after a little bit of research into the product I was sold. I bought it in Superdrug for £6 on offer and I do not regret it. It smells so good and my skin feels super soft after I’ve washed it off. I wouldn’t say it was my favorite face mask ever, but for £6 it does a pretty good job.

Makeup

L’Oreal True Match Foundation

I went home for the Christmas Holidays and of-course I had to forget something back at uni, and on this occasion it just had to be my foundation. I needed a quick-fix, and stumbled on this foundation for £9.99 in Superdrug. It’s a YouTube drugstore favourite and I can see why. It’s super lightweight and buildable, only downfall is that it can get oily throughout the day. But for the price and for casual day-to-day wear, I really cant complain.

Music

Lawrence Flowers & Intercession – More

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17WjhAPVeeE

Mellow worship vibes. The lyrics, the composition, just a beautiful song really.

Kojo Funds – Dun Talkin’ (Remix)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Be4qsSlv6Jk

Kojo Funds is on a bit of a winning streak with the tracks that he either makes or features in. Another banger!

 Jamilah Barry x Midnight Phunk – HIM&HER

https://soundcloud.com/jamilah-barry/himher-prod-by-midnightphunk

For my SoundCloud crew, a very vibe-ly tune!

 

Here are some visuals to the favourites mentioned:

Hopefully I can be the plug to something on this list, to be honest there was so much more but we’d be here forever. I really enjoyed compiling this, so I’ll definitely be back with another monthly favourites for you all!

Signed,

Peda xo

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“YOU’RE TOO ACCOMMODATING!”

So the title of this post is something I’ve heard from my friends on numerous occasions, especially when they’ve seen me tired or stressed at problems that aren’t really mine to deal with. I’ve lost count of the amount of times people have told me that I’m ‘too nice’ or ‘too accommodating’. Some of you are probably wondering, what is the actual problem here? Being described as nice is a compliment right? Well, I have come to realise that ‘nice’ is good, but ‘too nice’ isn’t so much.

Having the ‘too nice’ label signifies someone who is afraid to set boundaries, somebody who is afraid to say no, somebody who puts others needs before their own (not in a selfless way but in a self-neglect way) …. somebody like me (and maybe somebody like you, if you can relate).

Throughout my life I’ve always tried to be kind, caring, empathetic and helpful to near enough everyone I meet. Don’t get it twisted, I can be not so nice when I want to because I’m feared out in these cold streets *does a certi 1 arda pose*. Okay I’m not, but I’d like to think respek is put on my name. But anyway, those qualities are part of what defines me. You see, its not the nice part that’s the problem, it’s the ‘too’ that is.

Okay, so the definition of ‘too’ is: to a higher degree than is desirable.

It alludes to the concept of going above and beyond or something being in excess, basically over-doing it!

Some of the problems with being ‘over accommodating’ or ‘too nice’ are:

  • Always feeling busy and overwhelmed
  • Feeling like there’s never any ‘me’ time
  • Feeling like people are being cheeky and trying to take advantage of your good nature
  • Attracting people with draining emotional needs and neglecting the ones that need your help the most
  • Expecting others to be just as accommodating for you
  • People coming to you only when they need things
  • People being suspicious of your niceness and perceiving you to have ulterior motives

Its funny right, how something inherently positive can have negative effects?

Life is all about moderation. When you really think about it, the problems that come with being overly nice are usually self-inflicted. The solution is finding that balance in your life, and knowing when to be a ‘yes’ man/woman and then knowing when to just say ‘no’. If you’re anything like me, then you most likely say yes, when you really mean no, say you’re okay, when you’re really not, always focus on the other person’s needs, when you have a shedload of needs of your own.

Being a kind person isn’t necessarily a problem, but it has to come from a place of strength, balance, and understanding.

So here are some things I’m trying to do, that could help you if you’ve identified with anything in this blog post:

  1. Learn to say ‘no’ kindly when you honestly can’t help people. Its not being mean or selfish, it’s simply stating the facts of the situation. And be more assertive with your own needs if you feel they’re being ignored.
  2. Do nice things for yourself as and when you can. Learn to channel some of that energy into you, cheekily treat yourself because why not really?
  3. Speak your mind. Its not everyday have an opinion but voicing your thoughts in a constructive manner is healthy.
  4. Don’t feel guilty for saying no. You cannot be all things to all people.
  5. Don’t miss out on building your own empire because you are too concerned with helping someone build theirs. Find that healthy balance. Before you know it, you’ll be left behind and other people will be progressing on the back of your work, whilst you have nothing to show for yourself but stress related illnesses!

You can actually help others more by example, showing them how to say no in the right way, how to stand up for themselves and how to be good to others without being overly self-sacrificial. I’m really trying to implement this in my life, so try with me!

Remember:

“You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage – pleasantly, smilingly, nonapologetically – to say ‘no’ to other things. And the way to do that is by having a bigger ‘yes’ burning inside.” – Stephen Covey

and for the Bible readers out there…

Matthew 25:1-13 – The story of the women who wisely refused to share their lamp oil with five others who did not bring enough for themselves and Jesus didn’t reprove them for being stingy.

 

INCREMENTAL STEPS

So let me give you some insight into the kind of person I am, or should I say ‘used to be’ as I’ve taken my first small step to change.

Let’s say my goal is to make serious GAINS. Like I want to be bigger, stronger, toned from head to toe in order to tag my pictures on Instagram with ‘#fitspo #shredded #girlswholift #eatcleantrainmean’ and the list goes on. So being the kind of ‘go-getter’ I was, on making that decision I’d sign up to the gym and decide to go 5 times a week, order a £40 protein shake, buy new gym clothes and stack my fridge with chicken and lean beef. I’d even go calculate some macros and maybe buy a workout guide or two. Basically, I’d do the absolute most in hope that my results would be bigger, better and appear sooner than stated.

This mentality would last for about a week or so, 3 at the max, before I’d eat a 5 pack of doughnuts in one sitting, make a load of excuses as to why I can’t go gym and delete my macro food tracker app because my iPhone needed more space. This mentality didn’t end at the doors of fitness and body goals; I’d apply this method of instant change to every part of my life.

I confided in a friend about how much this attitude of mine annoyed me and they responded with a nugget of wisdom:

‘It is better to take many small steps in the right direction, than to make a giant leap forward only to stumble backwards’

And that was it, right there I knew that I’d got it all wrong. I’d made unsustainable life changes in good stead, only to burn out when the results weren’t coming fast enough. In the context of my analogy, if I actually decided to go to the gym twice a week or do a few home workouts and cut down on carbs rather than eliminate them; then maybe I’d still be on the fitness journey now. (Disclaimer: I know little to nothing on gains, gym, food or whatever – this analogy is purely for illustrative purposes)

If you’re trying to make a lifestyle change that’ll last, make the decision big but the action small but significant.

If you don’t read but you really want to become a book-worm (big decision), don’t force yourself to try and read a book a week. Instead, just read a page or 2 a day for the first week, then 4 pages a day on week 2, 5 pages on week 3 and so on and so forth(small, progressive action). As the weeks go by it’ll become a habit and before you know it, you’ll start itching to finish that book you started (better than anticipated result). The aim is to constantly build on a series of progressive, small but incremental steps.

Remember:The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones” – Confucius

and

“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…’ – 1st half of Zechariah 4:10 (NLT)

SUB-CITIZEN

So I recently had a brunch date with some friends who I’ve known since secondary school, an institution I left around 5 years ago (how time flies!) Annoyingly it was the mid-morning of the EU Referendum announcement and due to how switched on my friends are, I all but knew it was going to be a topic of conversation. I’m not going to bore you with the remaINder of our EU conversation but nevertheless it sparked some very important discussions.

One thing I respect about my friends (who for the record are 2 Caucasian girls and 1 African-Caribbean girl) was the acknowledgement and empathy shown towards the struggles we as individuals face in society. As women we all face injustices, some predisposed and some institutional that can result in being treated as less credible members of society. The idea of a woman being ‘governed by emotion’ is one that is widely accepted across many different cultures. The idea of a ‘strong’ woman who is not over-emotional and who maybe doesn’t cry at The Notebook can be seen as a woman who may not be in touch with  her emotion, somewhat androgynous in nature or even trying to be manly in her demeanour. (Simplified examples and ‘ ‘ terms used loosely, but you get what I mean). The majority of my friends have probably never seen me cry or really ever comfortably talk about my feelings but that’s not because I’m a stone cold woman who wants to show that I’m one of the lads, but rather that I choose to express myself differently and moreover privately.

Women and men are subject to gender role socialization and a lot of how we behave is as much due to nurture as it is to nature and I can testify to this. It’s funny to see how characteristics of strength are less associated with the female sex unless referring to roles such as motherhood. I’d hoped that by now all of society would have conceptualised that a woman is not just a child bearing object or an emotionally intelligent individual but rather a human being capable of doing most of the things men can.  A woman that expresses her emotion more overtly than another does not make her any less stable, rational or capable of being a decision maker. I for one am comfortable being a female and do not want to be a man in any way shape or form but I get extremely aggravated when women are shut down for being strong, taking leadership roles and choosing to govern their emotion in the way they want to. It’s a struggle many women are subject to in their personal and professional lives and something I can see western society is trying to overcome especially with an uproar in feminist movements. However for me, it doesn’t end there.

Sometimes I feel like I’ve been hit with the double whammy – not only am I a young woman, I’m also a young BLACK woman (and proud!). Despite how much I relish in my melanin, society has deemed me at even more of a disadvantage than my white counterparts. I would say switch on your TVs and have a look at the injustices not only black women but black people as a whole face, but that’d be pointless as these types of cases never get any airtime anyway! (I’ll save that rant for another time)

As many of you may know, there’s been a big push on social media to unite and support the black community with movements such as ‘Black Lives Matter’ and many other melanin empowering initiatives. I think the push to empower the black community has been great and has encouraged myself and others to love the skin you’re in. And while a social media push is stimulating and facilitating that much needed discussion, the problem goes to the laws, policies and foundations of the institutions that play a huge part in our daily lives. In many professional workplaces its evident that being black is still an issue of contention. I can’t help but think whether some of the opportunities I’ve been given were a matter of reaching a ‘diversity quota’ or if they actually believed in my capabilities. Wouldn’t it be great to exist in a society where that couldn’t even be a possibility and that being black, educated and capable was just as palatable as being a white, educated and middle class? I look at the Board of Directors for some of the institutions I’ve worked and would like to work for and it disappoints me to see there’s not a black individual in sight and best believe if there is, they’re most likely a man. Many people who disagree with institutional racism will probably pull the card of “But look at Obama, leader of the most powerful country in the world, he’s black!”, and yes I agree what a breakthrough that was, but I live in the UK and struggle to see black people let alone black women in a position of any political authority. The number of ethnic minority female MPs in the House of Commons nearly doubled after 2015, from 1.5% (11 of 650) in 2010, to 3.0% (20 of 650) in 2015 (Source: Parliament UK). Sorry, but is this a statistic to be even proud of? The House of Commons are MPs elected to represent the public’s interests and concerns, but how can they do this when only 20 out of the 650 of them could even begin to conceptualise some of the struggles I face as a young black woman.

Things must change and it begins with you and me. You don’t have to be a campaigner or a social media activist to have a voice, it begins with the conversations you have with the people around you – albeit difficult ones. I guess the point of this post was to give you all an insight into some of the thoughts I have regarding the place of young black women in society.  My ambitions surpass race and gender and I have made an agreement with myself to never let that get in the way of any opportunity I go for and neither should you. Whether you’re a man, woman, black, white, bi-racial or Asian – I hope you can relate if not empathise with a few of the struggles of a young black woman.

 

In a nutshell…

“To be white, or straight, or male, or middle class is to be simultaneously ubiquitous and invisible. You’re everywhere you look; you’re the standard against which everyone else is measured. You’re like water, like air. People will tell you they went to see a “woman doctor” or they will say they went to see “the doctor.” People will tell you they have a “gay colleague” or they’ll tell you about a colleague. A white person will be happy to tell you about a “Black friend,” but when that same person simply mentions a “friend,” everyone will assume the person is white. Any college course that doesn’t have the word “woman” or “gay” or “minority” in its title is a course about men, heterosexuals, and white people. But we call those courses “literature,” “history” or “political science…This invisibility is political.”  ― Michael S. Kimmel, Privilege: A Reader

THE ART OF LETTING GO

The art of letting go is actually a difficult one to master and one I definitely haven’t, but I was exploring the topic so thought it’d be worth a share. Saying goodbye to the bad and the ugly and meaning it are two very different things. I actually find it amusing that when it comes to the opposite sex and letting go of a man/woman that’s no good for you’ll frequently hear the following quoted “I’m actually so done”, “Girl bye, I’m better than this” when we all know if he/she were to call you that evening you’d pick up the phone the same way and continue as normal. It makes you think, what will it take for you to truly let go? And why do we have to wait till we reach that limit in order to let go?

When something is negative in your life it’s draining. It brings you nothing but stress, heartache and confusion and all these things are counter-productive and not of God. What’s funny about human nature is that we usually know when something isn’t right but we do the most to convince ourselves of why this cannot be and even delude ourselves to think the situation is not as bad as it seems.

Listen to your head (or your heart – whichever deceives you less), listen to God, listen to Elsa and let – it – go!

What good has ever come out of keeping what’s not meant for you or what harms you?

I personally think pre-setting boundaries is vital in the art of letting go. One cannot predict the situations you’ll go through in life and the negative people or things that will come into our life, but knowing what you are and are not willing to endure as an individual is a great starting point. For example, if you’re in a relationship you may say I will not accept my partner having a relationship with another at the same time he/she’s supposed to be in one with me. Then if your partner decides to practice polygamy whilst being with you, you know that he/she gotta go!

Make the action of letting go your prerogative! When you make a decision by yourself, you’re more likely to stick to it. Don’t ignore the help of others in advising you of people/habits/things you should let go of but ultimately the decision should be yours. A lot of people feel like when they let go they give up when, in fact, they are two different things. Giving up is admitting defeat, surrendering and connoted with the feeling of despair whereas letting go is figuratively used to describe releasing your grip on someone or something in order to set it free. And who doesn’t relish in a cheeky bit of freedom?  It is important to realise that some things are part of your history and others a part of your destiny.

Ultimately, let go and let God. Not every battle is yours to fight. Release your grip on the negative things in life and fasten your hold on what’s positive.

Remember: “Accept what is. Let go of what was. Have faith in what will be” – Sonia Ricotti

and

“But forget all that – it is nothing compared to what I am going to do” – Isaiah 43:18 

LOVE YOURSELF

So I’m sitting here at home writing this blog post thinking this the ugliest I’ve looked in years. Those of you who know me, know how much I love skincare and can understand how I must be feeling having not had any skincare routine for the past week! Like I’m craving the opportunity to use a Lush face mask, wear respectable clothes, put makeup on, do my hair and just feel like a normal person again. It’s funny because I say ‘ugliest I’ve looked in years’ (slight hyperbole there), but I’m pretty sure I called myself ugly last week and the week before that. Contrary to what people may think about me, for as long as I can remember I’ve been insecure and super self-conscious about how I look. Now for those close to me, when I do make ‘negative’ comments about my appearance, it’s difficult to understand. I hate most pictures that are taken of me; I need to control those angles you know so all I know is that front camera. Don’t get me wrong,  I have my good days – usually when I have a full face of makeup on and the lighting in wherever I am is just gassing me, but for the most part I go through life feeling like a 3.9 out of 10.

Trying to be my own therapist here, I think this insecure feeling stems from my school days. Now those of you who have known me since year 7, have known that I used to be so tiny (yes I’m 5’11 now but that wasn’t always the case) with the worst case of buck teeth, with rubbish hair and no sense of style. Having seen people’s glo-ups on Twitter, I’ve realised I wasn’t too far below average but at the time I felt like the only one in this position. I wouldn’t say I was bullied but I was definitely taken the piss out of on several occasions. I think it hit around Year 9 and boys became such a major thing, especially by going to an all-girls school, and being the tiny, skinny, buck tooth young girl that I was – I was definitely not on any male’s list as someone to be found attractive. This prolonged throughout school and my huge growth spurt in like year 10 just made things even more awkward, I was now obviously ugly and couldn’t be missed and to top it all off I had braces. Looking back my braces were one of the best things to ever happen to me, but at the time it couldn’t have made me look any worse.  Got to sixth form and my self-confidence issue persisted; I continued to feel like the ugly duckling out of all of my friends. I think I masked these issues well with my personality. Despite being insecure about the way I looked, I was always very confident as a person. I loved public speaking, organising things, bussing joke, keeping it 100 (in other words being blunt with my opinion) and just being the happy-go-lucky person I still am till this day! Anyway I got to uni and things kind of changed. I changed! My face actually changed, got a bit more structure, looked a bit more mature, I found makeup (major key actually because I deeped that I was comparing my bare face to girls who wore makeup which really isn’t fair on oneself) and I began to take a slight interest into the way I looked. Disclaimer: I wasn’t recreating myself, just evolving and exploring things such as makeup which I actually never delved into till I started uni!

It sounds super cringe but all my friends are beautiful, both a blessing and a curse, as it can make you feel like you’re in a never ending circle of being the ‘ugly friend’. I guess one thing I have realised is that you shouldn’t compare your physical appearance to others, let alone social media ‘it girls’ (easier said than done). Society’s ‘ideal’ is always changing, so when you measure yourself against these ideals what you’re actually doing is comparing yourself to a fleeting image which in turn creates a vicious cycle of always feeling discontent and unhappy. I remember when having a thigh-gap and being slim was seen as the epitome of attraction and now thick thighs and a big booty are now the physical attributes to aim for. We can’t keep up; I definitely know I can’t. Soon they’ll be saying back fat is the new thing and they’ll develop one herbal tea that stimulates back fat. It’s all a bit long. Love yourself whether you’re slim, thick, short, tall, chubby, spotty, chiselled, gap-toothed, big nosed, big lips, thin lips, big bum, no bum, fair-skinned, dark-skinned, whatever! If you can’t see your own beauty, at least see that you’re unique. There’s only one of you, do you know how wavy that is? You have to love yourself first as you really cannot rely on anyone to show you that love. Moreover, your love for yourself shouldn’t be found or affirmed in another’s words or actions.

I think the concept of ‘self-love’ is a journey, if you’re anything like me it definitely won’t come overnight but slowly and surely you begin to accept yourself for who you are.  I personally find it really awkward to look in the mirror and say motivational things to myself, but when negative thoughts come to mind regarding my appearance, my mantra is ‘for I am fearfully and wonderfully made’. I don’t even have to actually utter these words but mentally telling myself that I was personally hand crafted by the creator Himself makes me feel kind of special. I’m gradually ditching the ugly year 9 girl mentality of being buck toothed and unattractive and realising I’m an exotic Amazonian gazelle…LOL I JK… (or do I?). Okay I am actually joking, but the point is I am not ugly. Ugly is defined as ‘unpleasant or repulsive, especially in appearance’, I’m yet to make anyone feel sick at the sight of me and even if I did that’s their issue. I challenge you to come on this journey of self-love with me, because what damage could feeling content do?

Remember: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12:31

 

 

JUST DO IT.

Nike feel free to sponsor me for this one!

Quick mid-week motivational ramble to ask you, ‘What are you waiting for?’… Like what are you actually waiting for? In life we spend a lot of time aimlessly waiting for big signs and wonders to give us a reason to take action on thoughts, feelings and dreams. I for one can be quite an impatient person; slow readers, walkers, talkers, thinkers annoy me (unless it’s a disability, I get very irritated with the above – It’s bad I know but I’m working on it okay!) Despite being ‘so impatient’, I still find that I spend a lot of my time pointlessly waiting for things to happen. So I asked myself “for why is this?” and I decided to look closer to home.

I was so hesitant to start this blog for a couple of reasons, one being the fear of failure – I’ll have to write on this someday, but in summary, I hate losing and didn’t want this to be a flop. Another reason was the fear of the other – I was concerned about negativity and the general hate you get from those people who are otherwise known as enemies of success. I didn’t want people to think that I felt I was a know-it-all because I’m imperfect like the majority of people in this world and if anything as I write to you, I write to myself also. As you can probably tell, it was a bunch of excuses that all came down to one thing, fear.

In my case, I was fearful of imagined threats. I’d built up an image of pure negativity and had basically convinced myself of the reaction I’d get before even letting any content out or sharing the idea with anyone but my mum. Don’t let fear control you, just do it. Take the plunge because you don’t know what life has in store for you. If it’s not a life or death situation then it’s never that deep. Just think what is the worst that can happen from you doing something you’ve always wanted to? When you realise that no matter what you do you’ll have people hating on you, you stop caring and start doing.

Remember: ‘If you’re tired of starting over, stop giving up’ – Shia La Beouf

 

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