All posts by signedbypeda

BACK AND FORTH

Decisions can leave you in a dichotomous situation. They can pose themselves as simple but difficult, quick but with lasting effect and hard but beneficial.  The older I get the more decisions I’ve had to make that have held a significant amount of weight.

I would say overall I’m quite a decisive person, I know what I like and I know what I want, but as of recent I’ve been hit with decisions that have left me to question my ability to decide.

Sometimes a decision made will present itself as a step back, it wont make sense to those around you and will often leave you second guessing yourself. In life, certain decisions you make will seemingly send you back before you can go forward. It seems counter-intuitive right?

Think of a bow an arrow, an arrow can only be shot by being pulled tautly backwards and by doing this allows itself to be launched even further, all with focus and aim.  Imagine you’re 40 years old and working a good job, but to reach a senior position and a higher pay grade in your role you must have a Masters degree. Here, progressing entails taking a step-back into the world of education (that you were oh so excited to leave) and studying for a year or two, to be propelled into higher levels of management. Now, in everyone else’s eyes but yours, this is a definite step back. Some may say, ‘let that dream go!’ or ‘you’re too old to be making such changes!’ to even ‘you have financial responsibilities, how do you plan on being a struggling student again?’Or they’ll quite simply just look at you like this:

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Your decision will not make sense to the masses, but the impression on your heart has confirmed that this is the right thing for you. The future effect of such a decision reflects a true blessing in disguise.

A step back is truly what you make it.

It is not always the lesser of the two options, it will look like a setback to others but it’s the necessary step to make in your path to success. Look at it more as a realignment. Do what you ought to do, not what makes sense to others.

 

Remember:Sometimes the best way to deliver a punch is to step back. But step back too far and you aren’t fighting at all.” – Morgan Freeman

and

“Don’t, enemy, crow over me. I’m down, but I’m not out. I’m sitting in the dark right now, but God is my light.” Micah 7:8 (MSG)

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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

IF YOU FAIL TO PLAN…

So this year I’ve begun ‘Bullet Journaling’ (thanks Sanna, you’re the plug!) If you haven’t already heard of this productivity craze, essentially it’s a personal organization journal that can function as your to-do list, notebook, diary, tracker, sketchbook you name it. In a nutshell it helps one to “track the past, organize the present, and plan for the future”.

Last year I realised that I spent a lot of my time feeling overwhelmed.  I had so many things that needed doing all stored up in ‘mental notes to self’. Occasionally, I’d find a scrap piece of paper and write down a to-do list, just so I could offload the whirlwind of task reminders going around in my head. Its funny because typically I’ve always been a good organiser. An event, fundraiser, bake sale, your hen-do – you name it and I’ll be sure to find a way to organise it. I soon realised that I was making headway with the big tasks but the simple things such as remembering to call someone back, sending an email or meeting up with someone would slip my mind.

Like the great Benjamin Franklin said:

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”

Your mind should not be used to store the menial things in life. Instead, fill it with knowledge, wisdom, good memories and things of importance.  If you’re a to-do lister like me, I highly recommend starting a bullet journal. Here’s an example of a section called the ‘Weekly Log’ :

bojo
‘Weekly Log -Bullet Journal’ – Source: BuzzFeed

 

Unfortunately my handwriting is near enough illegible and I definitely can’t draw, so my bullet journal isn’t as pretty as this…. but you get the gist. I can assure you that sitting down for 10 minutes on a Sunday and planning the week ahead will help you keep on top of the big and small tasks in life.

Sherlock Holmes described the brain as an ‘attic’ and you have the choice to stock it with the furniture you please. A fool fills it with anything he comes across, and due to his lack of selectivity, what’s useful is either crowded out or jumbled up with the junk. Don’t be a fool, treat your brain-attic like a grandiose room filled with only the finest of china.

Now some might see the whole Bullet Journaling thing as faffy and extra.However, there’s a real key in the art of journaling and thats the essence of writing things down.

Here’s why its important to write things down:

  • It clears your mind for higher level thinking – use your brain to think BIG and not small
  • It aides the solidification process – writing things down help with acceptance and remembrance
  • It provides you with a record of the past – all great things are recorded by being written down. It allows you to see how far you’ve come and increases confidence in your future ability
  • It creates a virtuous cycle – writing things down that can be looked back on will foster a sense of achievement and highlight your progress
  • It’s one of the first steps to making things a reality – writing your goals and ambitions down serves as a great reminder and adds to the accountability process
  • It allows you to feel in control – a to-do list must be ticked off, ensuring you that things will get done

A cluttered mind is restless and unfocused. It tries to move in many different directions at once and the result is that very little gets done. So take some time out to put pen to paper, write things down and plan. I have definitely seen a positive improvement in my use of time and level of productivity, and I’m sure with these tips you’ll see an improvement in yours.

Remember: “Cheap paper is less perishable than gray matter, and lead pencil markings endure longer than memory” – Jack London

and

‘Careful planning puts you ahead in the long run; hurry and scurry puts you further behind’ – Proverbs 21:5 MSG

“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)

SOW INTO YOU

When we love someone, we find the true capacity of how far we’d go for another human being. People in love find themselves doing things for one another far beyond their predisposed boundaries. With regards to emotion, the ability to empathise, prioritise and internalise are pushed to their utmost limits.  The term ‘blinded by love’ is commonly used to describe a besotted couple who ‘seemingly’ love everything about their partner. So much so that even when things are going wrong, the rose-tinted lenses show an albeit dreary image that has been accepted as the reality of perfection.

I say the word ‘seemingly’ because sometimes what seems to be love in its purest form, is actually quite the opposite. You may have signed up for the type of love that conquers all, but by investing in the wrong person and ignoring any investment into yourself, you end up slowly wasting away till the reflection of you turns into the reflection of them – you’re unrecognisable to the people that know YOU for who you are.

Selflessness, defined as ‘an act of humility where you considers others over yourself’  tends to go hand in hand with the concept of love.The more you love someone, the more you’re willing to do for that person above and beyond your own agenda – and for the most part it reflects the beauty in selfless love. Theres nothing wrong with loving selflessly, its actually the epitome of love, but for you to love another wholeheartedly, you must also love yourself.

Sometimes you can be so fixated on meeting the needs of another, that you forget your own needs and the fundamentals of who you really are. You want to be that person’s everything so badly, that you unintentionally morph into their idea of perfection and forget you are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Love is patient, kind, not jealous, boastful, proud or rude. It doesn’t demand its own way. It is not irritable and keeps no record of being wronged. (Part of 1 Corinthians 13:4-5)

If you find yourself constantly trying to please someone you love, constantly feeling as though you fall short of their ‘perfect’ standards. Constantly wanting to be with them for the fear they may turn around and not want to be with you, then I ask you to question yourself ‘are you selfless with your love or are they selfish with theirs?’

It’s SO important to remember ‘I am mine, before I am anyone else’s’. True love should bring out the best in you, want the best for you and accept you warts and all. It should develop you into the person you’re called to be, the best version of you and not the version that suits their ideals. If you feel yourself slipping into habits that do not reflect who you are and who God has called you to be, you need to re-evaluate your life. To be of beneficial help to others, you must learn to take care of yourself as the more you invest in yourself, the more you can invest in others.

Remember: “Don’t ever stray from yourself, in order to be close to someone that doesn’t have the courtesy to remind you of your worth.” – Shannon L Alder

and 

“The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” – Mark 12:31

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