Does my bum look big in this?

The number one New Year’s resolution on most people’s lips without fail every year is to lose weight. This declarative is emblazoned on the front cover of magazine’s each month giving us tips tricks, pills, fad diets and everything in between to help us shed those Christmas pounds.

We are a nation notoriously obsessed with our looks, we want to look and feel good. We want to walk into a room with our heads held high and command attention, but something stops us in our tracks.

What is this something? Our weight.

Wait…. What?

Take me for example, I’m not someone that you would necessary describe as big, but according to my BMI (Body Mass Index), you’re girl is not exactly trim. BMI is a measure of body fat based on height and weight and mine is hovering over the overweight mark.  My weight has always fluctuated and I flitter between a dress size 8 or 10, sometimes 12 depending on the cut. To look at me, you would see a quite a petite girl but alas BMI says differently and I definitely feel big.

When I put on weight, my shoulders hunch up, my neck disappears and I look like a baby Mike Tyson. The rest of the weight goes straight to my middle giving me a nice Buddha belly and the remainder deposits itself onto my bum.

As a result, I find myself in a bit of a conundrum:

Do I keep the gut to maintain the rump? Or do I lose the ass to get the abs?

Is belly going to end up getting me?

My bum has been receiving so many compliments as of late and I’m reluctant to lose it. However when I lose weight my ass diminishes. Sad times. So, I have questions people.

When I find myself in times of trouble like this I turn to Instagram. Scrolling through my feed and preeing all these Instagram ‘baddies’ has me crumbling inside reaching for the nearest cookie. I know comparing my body type to these ladies will just fuel my anxiety further by setting unrealistic expectations on what my body can look like, but I can’t look away, these girls look amazing. The up-keep that is required to maintain such figures has me breaking out in sweat.

I am not a massive fan of the gym and I don’t have time to waste on rubbish diets that do not work; in fact I cancelled my gym membership last year. I took up running for a bit and then that too fizzled out.

Basically what I’m trying to say is that I want to look good without actually putting any effort in. I want the reward without the action. I want the ring without the commitment.

Exercise is a chore. Surely I’m not the only one that feels this way?

The NHS recommended guideline suggest doing ‘at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as cycling or fast walking every week, and strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles’. As a general goal, aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day.

Truth be told is that there is no magic potion that will give you the results you desire, our health is important and we got to put the work in. So you guys can keep the slimming teas and waist trainers, I think I will take up walking more. This is something that I can realistically stick to.

Remember:  a healthy diet + exercise = WINNING!

So as I sit at my desk pinching my folds of fat, I think I will give Subway a miss for lunch today. Salad it is then.

So ladies if you are just like me, please don’t beat yourself up too much. It is crucial that you find the right type of exercise that you will actually enjoy, especially one that suits your schedule. We may never look like the girls on Instagram or our favourite celebrities so it’s important to set attainable goals in order to become the best version of you. I’m keeping my bum, the rest will just have to work itself out.

We still have 346 days of the year left to get our bodies feeling good and looking good. It’s just going to take some of us a little while longer to get to our desired goal.

Writers block 

“Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self” Cyril Connelly

Reasons why I write:

  1. As a form of escapism – I write mainly to escape my troubles and woes; I find that when I’m in pain or feeling low; my writing is at its best. Sounds tragic, but sometimes the best works in art comes from channeling some sort of pain. When I pick up a pen I know that magic will happen. I will be whisked away to a far away land where my problems and anxiety will not follow. Yes, they shape what I write at times, but with my pen at my side I become invincible. I am untouchable. My sidekick and I understand each other like Siamese twins joined at the heart.  Writing enables me to go anywhere I want, I can do anything, nothing is impossible. I can shine!
  1. To vent – This goes hand in hand with number one – most of the time I use my writing to vent, I take out all my frustrations on the page until the pen bleeds. It allows me to say the things I wouldn’t dare say out loud for fear of rebuttal or reprisal. I can unleash my wrath for all to see disguised in literary prose and colourful language. It comforts me by giving me a much needed outlet for release. Writing is my opium! My Redbull – giving me wings to soar high above the sky. Why get high when I can pick my pen and fly?
  1. To create – When I look back at some of the pieces that I have written I am in awe. In awe, because I cannot believe that I wrote it – my thoughts and feelings are there in living colour. However insignificant some of my past stories may seem to some, to me they are works of art. I may not be Stephen King or Carol Ann Duffy but you know what, I don’t care. I am a creator; my masterpieces are there for all to see. If you buy it, cool, if not then that’s cool too, they still exist – hanging over my mantelpiece.
  1. Love – I love to write it’s as simple as that. My pen and I are one. To separate one from the other would be catastrophic. Writing lives in me and I live for it. It’s a hobby, my passion, my love.  

 

*old post taken from my now defunct old blog*

The Darker the Berry….

This dark skin of mine glistens in the sun, dazzling in all its melanin

This dark skin of mine, free from chemicals and bleach, shines on vividly despite being called less than …

This dark skin of mine, is not pretty for a dark skin girl, but is pretty because it exists in all its glory

This dark skin of mine is a gift, not a blemish, not a stain

This dark skin of mine shapes the way I move through the world and the way the world views me

This dark skin of mine does not want your fetichism or your colour struck naivety 

This dark skin of mine needs healing and nurturing. It doesn’t need your refusual to accept that colourism still runs deep

This dark skin of mine, darker than a paper bag refuses to bow down to your disdain

This dark skin of mine is unapologetically dark and will carry on radiating despite your pleas 

This dark skin cries

This dark skin loves

This dark skin lives

Rise dark girl

Words have Power

It is said that there is power in the tongue which is why words are so significant. Words can convey a whole heap of meaning, making language so beautiful as well as frightening. Here are a list of words that bother me and evoke negative feelings:

Nappy – first of all, you’ll never see me describe my hair as nappy. Nappy is a perjorative term that was used to degrade and devalue Black women’s hair and I am not here for it. My hair is not unruly, it is not something that needs to be tamed and it is most certainly not unmanageable. When I see other Black women and men use this term to abuse another ‘ethnic minority’a part of me weeps inside. ‘Who taught you to hate the texture of your hair?’Internalised racism is still alive and thriving.

Urban – this word grates on my very soul.  Urban is not synonymous with Black but most people use it as a PC friendly term when they stumble around trying not to say the word Black. Why can’t people just say the word, BLACK. Black is not a dirty word. I can’t stand when people say nonsense like urban music and working within the urban community. We all know what you are trying to say, so say it with your chest: Black, Black, Black. There- I fixed it for you.

POC/WOC (person of colour/ women of colour) – I am not coloured. I am not a paint by numbers drawing. No-one sat down and coloured me in with flipping crayons to make me this complexion. If I am a person of colour then what the heck are you? Colourless. Let’s just stop with this asinine term!

Ethnic Minorities – I understand why this term was created in the first place, to take into account the disadvantages faced by ‘people of colour’ who  did not form part of the dominating class i.e White but I find the term lacking nuance.  Lumping Black people, Latinos and Asians into one subgroup fails to take into account our many differences. It puts a them ‘vs’us stance which is quite divisive. At the end of the day ‘we’ including white people are all ethnics.

The’N’ word –  to be honest I have a love hate relationship with the N word. It is a disgusting term that should never have been invented in the first place. But listening to my favoritute  ‘urban’rap song of the moment I can’t help but blurt it out with gusto as I nod my ‘nappy’ head in agreeance . I feel conflicted at how easy it rolls off my tongue and quickly embeds itself into my vernacular. This word that was used to dehumanise the whole Black race shouldn’t be verbalised so freely yet we do so, within the remit that we have claimed back the word. But have we really or have we just let our opressors win by yet again internalising something that was used to bastardise us?

That’s just my two pence. Let me hear your thoughts down below and let me know of any other words you don’t like?

Working 9-5, what a way to make a living!

Everyday between Monday – Friday, my alarm bell screams out rousing me from my sleep, shocking my system into overdrive. I feel a wave of dread overwhelm me as my 9-5 beckons me with open arms. The monster.co.uk ad swiftly begins playing in my head ‘you hate Mondays because you hate your job, and I involuntary shake my head. No! I hate Mondays because I hate jobs. Period.

The daily working grind is not for me. I shudder thinking about sitting behind a desk all day, everyday, working my arse off for someone else to reap the profits of my labour. All the while I get given measly crumbs to tide me over each month and time off for good behaviour by way of annual leave.

The 9-5 life is just so absurd. It baffles me that this is what I have been working so hard to attain for since beginning education. We go from institutions to institutions all to end up in a shiny prison cell. Then we get sucked into the mortgage trap which keeps us shackled to our corporate jail, as leaving means bills go unpaid and life in this capitalist society becomes x10 harder to manage. This cannot be my portion for the next 40 odd years or so. I refuse to carry out this sentencing. Working a 9-5 cannot be the sum of the human experience.

I think  that what I struggle the most with, is the fact that we can’t ever escape paying taxes and bills. The system sets a deadly trap for us that keeps us rooted to the spot and all we can try and do is make a better situation for whatever position we find ourselves in. I’m not ashamed to say that i’m struggling with working 9-5 just to stay alive! word to Beyonce.

I mean we can become our own bosses but that also has its pitfalls. Being a boss isn’t for everyone, or else we would all do it and besides not everyone has equal access to  resources in order to pursue their own thing. The system is built unfairly and there always has to be a top dog. I wish this staus quo could be revamped but alas, life is not fair.

However, personally working for some entity is no longer a viable option for me. I need to own something for myself. I want to dictate my own terms and conditions. I want to be in charge of me. I want to be my own BOSS!

As 2017 looms across the horizon, a new dawn comes calling. Time to set new goals and objectives and dissolving my marriage to my 9-5 is definitely at the top of my wish list.

 

Dating in the City: The Game

 

This post has been long overdue please see part 1 here.

Sometimes I feel like I’m a star in my very own Awkward Black girl dating show.  I feel like I’m living in the Truman show and all the story lines and plot holes (of which there are many) are being controlled by some super producer who never wants its main star to be happy.

My dating life has been haphazard to say the least with more abrupt ends than smooth beginnings. I’m an awkward dater; I’m not one for dull chitchats and banal introductions and the hundred and one random questions that come at you fast. I like to get straight to the point instead of beating around the bush. I’m very upfront about what I’m looking for and if it’s not for you then kindly step away from my space.

But alas dating comes with its own set of rules and regulations and I’m just finally learning how to play the game.

Here are a few tips that I have learnt during this journey:

  • Don’t put all your eggs in one basket – A lot of people have mastered this a long time ago but for most of us this is still a work in progress. It is hard to multi-task and multi-date a lot of people but it is absolutely necessary. I have been guilty in the past of dumping all my fishes back into the sea to hone in on one specific catch only to have the sly creature wriggle away from the net, leaving me with zero. I’d like to think that I have now become a better fisherman but I’m still learning about all the different baits to ensnare different fishes. Like I said work-in-progress.
  • Date with a purpose – This is a must! It is important to know what your end goal is. Ask yourself, what do I want to get out of this process? If your goal is find a life partner then say so. Speak or forever hold your peace. If you are just going about dating all willy nilly without an aim or without any idea of your intention, then you’ll forever meet disappointment.
  • Dating apps are your friends – I can’t believe that I’ve actually just typed this but yeah it’s 2016 and prince charming is not going to just come galloping on his horse to sweep you off your feet. You have to go and seek him out! Previously, I had been so vehemently against online dating that any mention of it would ensure that my friends would get a swift side-eye from me but now I’m singing a different tune. In this fast paced world that we live in, it’s very hard to find the time to meet someone and sometimes you need an intermediary to help you on your merry way. This is where Tinder, PoF, Bumble etc. come in. It’s time to broaden those horizons ladies and gents.
  • Dating is not a dirty word – To me the word ‘dating’ carried negative connotation. If you told someone ‘oh we’re just dating’ they looked at you as if you were loose or crazy. How dare you not tie down this man instantly and make him yours? You got to laugh at the preconceived notions we all hold about people and their lives.  However, as I have grown up I have begun to redefine dating. Dating is a great way of meeting different people. It is a great way for you learn your likes and dislikes. It allows you to weed out the bad apples and sow fruitful seeds. You have to put yourself out there in order to find someone. And yes this may entail dating multiple people until you find the one you most connect with. Own up to your dating life! P.S. please note that I said dating and not sleeping, the two are not mutually exclusive.
  • Do you! – Do not be afraid to take a break from it all and just do you. Take your time. Life is a journey not a destination. We constantly receive unnecessary pressure from outside influences, trying to dictate to us that you have to do X, Y and Z by this age and that; it’s all complete nonsense!!! I felt such intense pressure from friends and family about my lack of husband that I started to feel inadequate and started to feel lost, all because I didn’t have a partner.  I have a good job, qualifications, paying all my damn bills and yet this didn’t seem like an accomplishment to society. But as my girl Chimamanda put it best ‘never speak of marriage as an achievement’. We do not define ourselves by having a husband/boyfriend but rather we define ourselves through our beliefs, our values, and the footprints that we will leave on this earth.

Take your time and enjoy discovering yourself. You’re not in competition with anyone and if you don’t find what you are looking for then that’s ok too. Date yourself first and the rest will fall into place.

love

Procrastination in the City

I am guilty of being one of the world’s most prolific procrastinators. If procrastination was an Olympic sport, then I would most certainly be Usain Bolt all up on the podium. I’m always finding ways to avoid things and coming up with the most silliest of excuses to put off what I can do today, for tomorrow. Procrastination is so deeply embedded in me that I have gone a year without updating this blog, even though it has been on my to-do-list every single month.

I find that the more I procrastinate the more I doubt my skills, my intellect, my raison d’être. I start to question whether I am actually good enough to achieve this task or this goal and then slowly I just start to put everything on the back burner and sit and lament, and the vicious cycle of berating myself continues on and on.

I am literally in awe of people that have such drive and determination to just keep on going, keep reaching for the stars, whilst I sit wasting time idly watching TV or playing Candy Crush on my phone. I detest myself for being so lazy but I’m trapped in this vortex of fear and it keeps me stuck in a deep abyss where I am rooted on the spot and I’m scared of failing at everything, so I just end up not actually doing anything.

I follow so many inspirational people on my Instagram and Twitter who are expanding their brands and making a name for themselves in this creative space and for most people this would be the spark that lights the fire to get their creative juices going and start making changes. However, for me this just seems to have the opposite effect. I start to think that I am not as talented as them, that I will never amass that much following, that people will just read my post and shake their heads at how mediocre it is. Seriously my thought patterns can be so screwed up at times.

Comparison is truly the thief of joy!

Coupled this with procrastination and well, you can finally begin to understand why this blog has been barren for so long.

It is time that I faced up to my purpose and start taking risks. The years are hurtling by and I can’t just sit back anymore and watch life happening to me. I need to take back control of the reins and declare that ‘I am enough’.

Life is a never ending cycle of evaluation and learning and it is time that I hurl procrastination off a cliff and watch it tumble down and burn. It won’t happen overnight but I’m determined to let it stop controlling my life. I’ll take it one day at a time but for now I will hold up a placard and boldly declare that:

“Procrastination will no longer have a hold on me. Let’s go forth and build something great!”

Black British African

 

When I fill in the census I always tick the box marked: Black British African.

This has always proved a conundrum to me.

I was born in Angola and moved to the UK at the tender age of 5. Leaving Angola at such a young age meant that I did not have much time to form an African identity; instead I was thrown into an unknown country where people labelled me as African before I could even grasp what that meant.

At home my parents encouraged us to speak English so that we could assimilate easily into our new land. However, this just sparked off the beginning of my identity crisis. I was an African who spoke Portuguese (thanks to our colonisers) but who no longer used this tongue at home, instead quickly replacing it with another oppressor’s tongue.

I am a Black British African. What a contradiction.

I am whole, yet made up of so many different cultures and diasporas and cannot claim to fully be one over the other.

I am a binary opposition, consisting of two conflicting ideals both fighting for supremacy.

I am an African who eats traditional Angolan food with the same gusto and fervour of that of my ancestors. I am an African who dances to Kizomba but who lives a very western experience. I am British who spouts tales of Harry Potter and sings ‘God Saves the Queen’ whilst pining for a home far, far away that I have never fully embraced.

However, Home has been the UK for the past 20 odd years of my life. Home has been the UK which has informed my decisions and shaped my reality. Home has been the UK which has shaped this internal conflict inside of me as I battle to decide which country I pledge allegiance to.

I feel robbed of my African experience, whatever that may be. I feel robbed for not having grown up with my extended family and feeling the rush of love and warmth whenever friend’s speak of ‘popping down to Nan’s house’. I have never had that experience.

I don’t know how it feels to play ‘garrafinha’ or playing in the sand getting my white school robes dirty. I don’t know how it feels to fetch water or eat ‘gelado de mucua’ feeling the rich taste drip down my face. All this, I have learnt through my parents and older siblings.

I have missed out on family weddings, births of new blood and deaths of the old.

My identity as an Angolan has been shaped through Western ideals and rhetoric and also through stories told by my parents.

I have come to realise that I am a proud product of both and don’t have to fit into one neat box. I am between two different worlds. Nevertheless, I do wish to reclaim and learn more about my heritage. I long to know more about Angolan history and folklore and let it spout out of my mouth just as easily as I do tales of Henry the Eighth and Guy Fawkes.

I am unapologetically a Black British African, a conundrum that I have now reconciled.

Working in the City : Redundancy

 

The dreaded ‘R’ word was thrust upon me a few weeks ago and my world caved in. Fresh from my holiday in Ghana, I walked into the office feeling revitalised and ready to start the working cycle again.

Imagine my complete surprise when I was taken aside and told that my job was at risk of being made redundant.

I never saw it coming!

I knew that redundancies were occurring as I got word whilst on holiday that some of my close peers were being given the boot, but not once did it actually cross my mind that I would be on the chopping block.

My mind started to drown with all the thoughts running through it. My number one concern was how I was going to pay my rent and bills. I mean, I just got back from holiday. I had spent well.

I was distraught.

When I thought of redundancy, I always thought of middle aged colleagues packing the desk away, being escorted out of the building or simply agreeing to take voluntary redundancy. I never thought someone in their late twenties in their 3rd proper professional job would be one of the casualties.

I got told not to take the news personally – they were not trying to get rid of me just the role. But, how could I not take it personally, when ‘I’ was the role?

Colleagues kept trying to pacify me by saying that they (management) really wanted to keep me and that they were sad that I was put in this position but all this did was incense me further. They had put me in this position!

At this point I didn’t really care about their feelings. If they had wanted to keep me, then my role should not have been thrown into the pool.

I understood that business decisions had to be made. I understood that as employees we are in essence, disposable. But what I didn’t understand was the justification behind my role no longer being required. This is what hurt the most.

Over the coming days and weeks, I saw colleagues get the chop and leave without an official goodbye. We were being led like lambs to the slaughter.

However, I decided to safeguard myself financially by applying for the suitable alternative job role that the company had coming up. They dangled the carrot and I took it. I didn’t want it. But I had no choice. I needed a job.

I got it!

Damn, I was stuck.

I should have been happy. I still had a job – albeit a different one, but a job nonetheless. I wasn’t though.

I had to get out. I felt trapped and confused, what would be my next move?

They say when one door closes another one opens.

I threw myself vigorously into applying for another role.

There had to be a greater reason as to why this redundancy came about. Maybe this was the push I needed to leave the company and grow professionally.

I applied and secured some interviews. I went. I conquered. I got it.

Better pay, better benefits, better career prospectus.

Maybe things really do happen for a reason.

 Ghana

Gold Coast, Ashanti kingdom, Oh Ghana – Akwaaba

From Tema, to Accra to Kumasi is where I find my feet.

My best friend a vision in white, gliding down the aisle to meet her king.

Rewind to a couple of days before, all the girls, all obronis, trying to navigate the hustle and bustle of Kotoka international.

We step out into the sweltering heat, we taste the sun and we know we have arrived.

A flock of people surround us to lend a helping hand. But nothing is ever for free. 10 cedis later and we are on our way, it’s just the African way.

But no time to dwell, we have a wedding to prepare.

Spintex road is where we call home for a few days. A sprawling complex greets us with a gym and a pool. T.I.N.A! , we exclaim, Africans have come a long way.

Not even Dumsor can put out the light inside of us. Our excitement is igniting. We are finally here.

Months of planning and the Black Star is finally within our grasp.

We meet so many beautiful souls on our journey to the altar. It really does take a village to raise a child.

The calming nature and soft spoken tone of the Ghanaian people, contrasts vastly with our brisk English mettle.

The resilience of the market traders, trudging up and down in the unforgiving sun selling Bo fruit to Fanmilk feels me with awe.

One cedi later and Fanmilk in hand, I can’t help but feel guilty at the disparity of life. But on our way we go.

Sakumono is where the traditional wedding takes place.

Sakumono is where my friend becomes one.

Sakumono is where a part of me is lost.

Our Navy blue dresses surround her White – a bunch of Morning Glory’s protecting our seed.

1 wedding down and another one to go.

Our adventures take us to Kumasi, the climax of the whole affair, a metropolis seeped in rich history and wealth.

A quick trip to Manhiya palace and neighbouring markets quench our western desire to be immersed in culture.  Buy a dashiki here and there, buy a kente print bag here and there and now we are authentic Africans.

Now we are ready.

The big day finally arrives.

The hotel is a cacophony of sounds and shapes,

Makeup here and there, dresses everywhere.

We are late – no surprises there.

Wedding bells are ringing, to the altar we must go.

I take my place in line.

Nerves frayed. Deep breath. Smile, it’s her big day.

She is happy. They both are. This is meant to be.

Home.

She is home.

But where is home for me?